November 2018

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Ballad of a Soldier [1959]

aka Ballada o soldate

       
Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 93
Personal = 6.1

Links Updated 5/22/19
A Russian soldier on the front line in WWII earns a few days leave to go see his mother after single-handedly taking out 2 German tanks. The entire film is about his travels back home - mostly on a train in a hay car with a girl - and, as such, is pretty darn dull and uneventful. It was also quite over-melodramatic but that can most likely be attributed to the style of Russian war films made in the 50's. Nearly all the action of the film is contained in the trailer so if you're looking for a "war" film, this ain't it. Well made, though.

Forbidden World [1982]

aka Mutant

                   
Rotten Tomatoes = 60 / 32
Personal = 5.3

Links Updated 6/20/19
A highly experimental research lab, on a barren planet, attempts to create a genetically engineered food source but creates something that thinks of the scientists as food. This Roger Corman production is exactly as expected complete with "intelligent" scientists who are dumber than rocks, a sterile and highly secure lab that's basically wide open, lots of sex, naked women, screaming and low budget spec fx. But the gore and creature were pretty cool and a rather entertaining watch. How does Corman do it?

The 12th Man [2017]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 72
Personal = 4.0

Links Updated 7/22/19
A true story, a group of 12 saboteurs gets caught by the Germans in WWII trying to enter Norway. One gets away and attempts to escape to Sweden. Geez, this was boring! His harrowing and torturous journey, which consisted of mostly hiding and letting other people protect and move him around, was compelling at first but 2 hours of watching his misery, I gave up caring. The disastrous landing was shown twice in flashback so there would be some excitment to watch. The trailer contains the rest of the exciting scenes.

2001: A Space Odyssey [1968]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 93 / 89
Personal = 10.0

Updated 7/22/19
Regarded as the defining sci fi space exploration film, it's a masterpiece of science realism and film making. I watched it as a young teen when it was released and was totally blown away. My local theater ran it this weekend and watching on the big screen again was a real treat. For some, especially newer viewers, it's way to slow but you have to keep in mind, this film was made before we had landed on the moon and it's intended to be a realistic art piece. If you want to understand it, read the book. Otherwise, just take the odyssey.

Mom and Dad [2017]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 74 / 39
Personal = 6.5

Links Updated 6/23/19
A very black comedy where parents everywhere inexplicably begin murdering their children as it's the absolute right thing to do with the film centering around one family where a teenage girl, her boyfriend and her little brother are trying to survive an assault from Mom and Dad. Overall, it was a very violent and entertaining film with an unusual wit that made you smile despite the premise. My only complaint is the need to throw flashbacks right in the middle of highly intense scenes ...felt like I was being cut to commercial.

Hellraiser VII: Deader [2005]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 17 / 25
Personal = 4.6

Updated 5/5/19
A reporter goes to Romania to investigate a group called the Deaders as their leader appears to be able to bring his subjects back to life after killing them. During her investigation, she opens a puzzle box and... well... a bunch of stuff happens. And that's the problem. The film is such that you're supposed to understand what's happening but it's inadequately explained so, in the end, you're left going, "Huh?". It had it's moments but it's a pretty weak entry in the franchise. Even Pinhead was sans good lines in this one.

Equilibrium [2002]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 40 / 81
Personal = 7.8

Links Updated 6/12/19
In a future, totalitarian society, feelings are outlawed, all art and books are destroyed, and everyone is forced to take a drug that locks out emotions. One of their enforcers, a cleric, stops taking his meds and begins to feel. I found it odd there are no CCTV cameras anywhere but that aside, this is an excellent film with a great study of a character slowly becoming human accented with some fantastic gun battles and fight scenes. Story evolves at a steady, logical pace and overall, an extremely intelligent and fun film.

Along Came the Devil [2018]

aka Tell Me Your Name

           
Rotten Tomatoes = 43 / 53
Personal = 4.3

Links Updated 7/22/19
Apparently, it was decided it was time to make another exorcism movie as we haven't had one for, what ...6 months? Although it did a pretty good job in presenting us with the gross and gnarly possession make-up and the appropriate demonic behavior, there's absolutely nothing new here. And, what is presented, is not nearly as good as many. The laughably stupid ending, which I'm sure they thought would be a big surprise, did nothing more than basically turn the movie into one big shaggy dog joke.

It Came from the Desert [2017]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 60 / 36
Personal = 3.8

Links Updated 7/22/19
Scientists have combined alien DNA, found in a meteorite that struck the desert 67 years ago, with ants and spiders creating very large mutant ant things. Paying homage to Them!, a good part of their budget obviously went to the ants and they didn't do to bad a job with them. However, the rest of the budget is totally wasted. They shot for the campish cult style of movie but with abysmal and unimaginative writing and over-stereotypical caricatures, the movie ends up just being silly and ridiculous with no surprises.

14 Cameras [2018]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 22 / 25
Personal = 6.6

Links Updated 7/22/19
This sequel to 13 Cameras starts out pretty much the same way except, this time, it's a rental home being used by a family of four and a family friend and the video feeds are being broadcast out to the dark web. About halfway through, a subtle shift in events causes everything to slowly collapse into chaos. I felt this film was easily as good as the first as, not only did they extend the insidious nature of the subject, but they layered story line connections from the first film and new plot twists to keep it fresh. Don't know why the bad ratings. Creepy fun!

Security [2017]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 35
Personal = 7.1

Links Updated 7/28/19
A three tour war veteran gets a job as night security for a mall. Meanwhile, a convoy of US Marshals are ambushed to kill a young girl who runs and makes it to the mall. Let the siege begin. Once again, we have a movie where a few fairly defenseless people have to survive an attack of numerous, highly professional thugs. Nothing new here but extremely well done. Antonio Banderas and Ben Kingsley as adversaries were an excellent match and, man ...can Ben deliver a line. Quite exciting despite the fact that it's predictable and somewhat contrived.

E-Demon [2018]

aka The Viral Demon

                   
Rotten Tomatoes = 40 / 78
Personal = 3.5

Links Updated 6/27/19
A member of a Skype group, known for pranks, opens a witches trunk as a joke and unwittingly releases a demon that passes quickly to the others. The Unfriended series set the standard, imo, for a realistic and spontaneous depiction of the entire events taking place on a computer screen. This one did not. We have both web cams and head cams and the scenes shift around between sources willy nilly without any logical reason. Also, the constant computer glitching is not realistic ...it's irritating. Illogical and poorly made compared to similar films.

Hellraiser VIII: Hellworld [2005]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 20 / 22
Personal = 4.3

Updated 4/12/19
A boy kills himself playing a game called Hellworld, based on the Hellraiser movies, as he took it a bit too seriously. 2 years later, 5 of his friends and fellow players get a private invitation to a Hellworld party where nothing is as it seems. This is not even a Hellraiser movie until about the last 2 minutes. Rather it just pretends to be one making the whole thing, and the characters in it, totally ridiculous. It would be nice if they stopped turning external stories into Hellraiser stories and actually tried to make a real Hellraiser movie again.

Slender Man [2018]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 7 / 19
Personal = 6.1

Links Updated 6/20/19
High school friends conjure up a paranormal entity known as Slender Man which proceeds to make their lives miserable. This certainly isn't original horror nor does it have any depth but it certainly deserves better numbers in the ratings. The fact that the characters acted like normal, intelligent teenagers was greatly appreciated. There's really some pretty good spooks here, as well. My biggest gripe is there are scenes in this terrifying trailer that I wanted to see in context and they're not in the film. That's just cheap bait-and-switch.

Moka [2016]


                   
Rotten Tomatoes = 87 / 71
Personal = 4.0

Links Updated 6/20/19
A woman pursues the people who killed her son in a hit-and-run ...and that's it. If you have a choice between watching this or watching grass grow, the grass may provide more excitement. A slightly different course of action and this woman would have had things wrapped up in 20 minutes but they had to drag this out so that we can get totally absorbed in her misery and pain. If you're into this sort of film, the acting was excellent and it was all very dramatic and artsy. As for me, it's time for some Bugs Bunny cartoons.

The Night Eats the World [2018]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 83 / 51
Personal = 5.0

Links Updated 6/20/19
In Paris, a man goes to his ex-girlfriends house, who's having a party, and locks himself in a back room to be away from the crowd. He wakes up to a zombie apocalypse. The beginning of this film had me thoroughly hooked with this guys fight for survival; he's intelligent, calm, methodical and has his priorities straight. But that slowly went from excitement to boredom to disappointment as the movie really went nowhere after that except depressing and pointless. Good character study if you don't mind going nowhere.

Hellraiser IX: Revelations [2011]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 6
Personal = 3.2

Links Updated 5/16/19
Going back to it's roots, a friend attempts to bring back someone (who opened the box) from the Cenobites by bringing him bodies to devour. The make-up was excellent but that's to be expected since the make-up artist wrote it. Everything else is an abomination to the whole Hellraiser franchise. The acting, writing, directing are deplorable. And to bring in someone else to play as iconic a character as Pinhead, you better make sure they're up to the task. This one couldn't deliver a proper Pinhead line if his life depended on it.

Cold Skin [2017]


                   
Rotten Tomatoes = 50 / 57
Personal = 7.6

Links Updated 6/20/19
In 1914, a man, who must spend a year on a remote island making weather measurements, finds himself under attack at night by sea creatures. The only characters in most of this film is him, the lighthouse keeper and a tamed sea creature ...which is what makes this film so interesting. The dynamics of this relationship is compelling, exciting and volatile with a somewhat surprising resolution that is both tragic and heartfelt. The action of the creature attacks is brutally intense and savage. Very well made film!

Fever Night aka Band of Satanic Outsiders [2009]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 4.7

Links Updated 7/13/19
Three friends perform a satanic ritual in the woods and things get funky. This no-budget film has no real story to speak of, the spec fx consists of basic camera tricks and fog, and every scene is dragged out well beyond it's limits making most of the film completely devoid of energy ...the trialer is twice as energetic. However, it's strikingly clear these guys were having a great time no illusions about what they were making and never tried to do anything else. As a result, the film has a certain charm that I actually found weirdly enjoyable.

Hellraiser X: Judgment [2018]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 50 / 27
Personal = 7.2

Links Updated 7/22/19
While hunting down a serial killer, a detective unwittingly crosses paths with the Cenobites. At last, a good Hellraiser movie! First I should point out that the cringe meter runs very high on this one so you've been warned. Gary J. Tunnicliffe, the make-up artist in many of the previous films, is the engine behind this one. Writer, director, make-up artist and actor as The Auditor, Gary did an excellent job of taking the Hellraiser mythos is a slightly new direction, giving us a decent Pinhead, and a good surprise ending. Bravo!

Immortals [2011]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 37 /48
Personal = 7.9

Links Updated 7/18/19
Story of a slave, Theseus, who gains the Eribis Bow and becomes the leader of his people in a war against the cruel and ruthless King Hyperion, who wishes to use the bow to release the Titans. Well planned out and executed story full of colorful characters that are quite easy to like (or hate), awesome warfare, action and spec fx and Mickey Rourke is very impressive playing one of the most evil psychopaths on film. Excellent entertainment and although I saw it this time on DVD, see it in 3D if you have the opportunity.

The Basement [2018]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 11 / 27
Personal = 2.9

Links Updated 7/5/19
A man is kidnapped and strapped to a chair in a basement by a nut who torments him as different personalities all night long. I'm not sure who was more tortured, the man strapped to the chair or me having to sit through this vapid excuse for a psychological thriller. The antagonist is miscast as there was no apparent change in his personality whether he be a clown or priest or mother making him totally unconvincing as a psycho. Everyone else was uninteresting, the dialogue was dull and the surprise ending was stupid.

Island of Terror [1966]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 59
Personal = 6.6

Links Updated 2/21/19

A doctor's research into cancer unwittingly creates turtle-like silicon based creatures that suck bone out of living things. This campy, and rather goofy, offering is played with overacting seriousness by all the people involved - especially Peter Cushing and Edward Judd - which only serves to bestow it with far more charm than the average 60's monster movie. If you enjoy the creature features of old, this is one not to miss.

The Matrix [1999]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 88 / 85
Personal = 9.3

Links Updated 7/22/19
Well, who hasn't seen The Matrix franchise? For those few that haven't ...Neo, a computer hacker, enters the "real" world where he discovers that the reality we all live in is actually a computer construct developed by machines that rule the earth. It's hard to rate individual movies in a serial franchise as, especially in this case, the three movie make up a single story. But, in my attempt to do so, this one sets up the intelligent premise with a perfect balance of exposition, incredible action and well-defined characters, as well as hint at the surreal philosophies to come.

Slither [2006]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 63
Personal = 7.1

Updated 7/21/19
Before making the Guardians of the Galaxy films (and then unjustly fired from Marvel / Disney), James Gunn wrote and directed this little gem about an alien creature who inhabits a host and uses it to create thousands of slugs that inhabit everyone else ...and they really have an appetite. A perfect mix of gross, gory and giggles, this movie is just plain fun if you can handle the bloodshed which, for some, can be difficult ...especially if you're an animal lover. Nothing overt but a lot of animals meet their demise here.

Blood Fest [2018]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 60 / 44
Personal = 5.2

Links Updated 7/22/19
A huge horror festival, Blood Fest, is going to be a bit different this year. The patrons are going to participate in a new horror film ...by being slaughtered. Everything about this film should work but it doesn't. They went for camp and ended up silly, the characters are uninteresting, except for a great joke at the beginning, no one had a funny or good line to say in the entire film and most of the gags were cliche and unimaginative. I'm sure there are those that will like it but I found it to be ho hum entertainment at best.

22 July [2018]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 80 / 70
Personal = 7.4

Links Updated 7/22/19
A dramatized but accurate account of the bombing of Oslo and the slaughter at the youth camp on Utoya Island on July 22, 2011 by an ultra-right wing terrorist. This film starts right off with the bombing and massacre and deals mainly with the aftermath focusing on the trial of the terrorist, the political upheaval and the personal story of a recovering victim who was shot 5 times. For me, I was subjected to this boy's suffering far too much and that could have easily been reduced. Otherwise, excellent biopic!

Galaxy Quest [1999]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 90 / 78
Personal = 8.2

Links Updated 6/28/19
An ensemble for a Star Trek style TV show is recruited by real aliens to negotiate peace in an intergalactic war. Everyone I know who had seen this film says it's really entertaining so I 'finally' got around to watching it ...and they were right! Everyone's character is perfectly cast and, although I don't recall too many LOL moments, I was thoroughly amused and entertained throughout the movie that just kept getting better and better the longer it ran. This film was just plain fun and suitible for the whole family!

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich [2018]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 67 / 54
Personal = 7.2

Links Updated 6/10/19
30 years after a Nazi puppeteer was killed while terrorizing a town in Texas, a convention for the puppet collectors is taking place and the puppets decide it's time for revenge. Good filmmakers take the ludicrous premise of puppets killing people and turn it into a good film. No surprises here but the characters were likable, the dialogue was loaded with sharp wit, and the killings were gruesome and gory with just the right amount of camp to never take them too seriously. Sad ending but I liked it far more than I thought I would.

Zeitgeist: Addendum [2008]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 8.8

Links Updated 8/7/19
Like the first film, everyone should see this. This film focuses on the fact that the world cannot survive on a monetary-based system, that we have the ability to give a high quality of life to everyone on the planet and we really need to consider changing our focus to a resource and technology based system. After all, throughout time, humans have not progressed because of money, politicians, or religion but rather we have progressed through technology and we have the ability to make it available to everyone. So, why don't we?

The Matrix Reloaded [2003]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 73 / 72
Personal = 9.8

Updated 7/22/19
The machines are tunneling to Zion to wipe out the rest of the free humans and Neo is told by the Oracle that he must go to the source to stop the genocide. If we're rating the movies individually, this one if my favorite of the three. Now that the rules are set, a lot of new colorful matrix characters are introduced, a chase scene that is easily one of the finest ever, and a whole lot of philosophy that is smart, intriguing and thought provoking. A nearly perfect cinematic event.

Solis [2018]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 0 / 20
Personal = 3.8

Links Updated 5/27/19
An engineer is stuck in a mining pod headed straight for the sun after an explosion while a command ship tries to catch up and save him. Boy, this film was cruel and agonizing to both the central character and me, the viewer. It's just him and a voice on the radio for the whole film while he goes about trying to find ways to stay alive and that gets pretty trying after a while. The guy's a pessimistic jerk at first and then, when they finally did make me care about him, they slap an ending on it that just ticked me off. What a pathetically downbeat film.

Daemonium [2015]

aka Daemonium: Soldier of the Underworld

           
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 29
Personal = 5.1

Links Updated 8/14/19
In another universe, a man makes a deal with a demon for power only to find out his power is temporary. So he vows to find a way to destroy the demon. This would definitely have to be my bizarre recommendation of the month. Just about everything in this film is as amateurish as you can get; especially the fight choreography ...it's just terrible. Also, it doesn't seem like anyone knew how to hold a camera steady. Despite all that, visually is was really quite interesting and I found myself having a great deal of fun watching this.

Down a Dark Hall [2018]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 50 / 23
Personal = 5.2

Links Updated 2/9/19
Five troubled teen girls are sent to a special academy in hopes of getting them straightened out ...at least that's what they were led to believe. This was a well made film that moves along at a slow but steady pace to an expected climax. And that's about it. There's very few real scares, no surprises (oddly, the film kept its audience ahead of the characters), and, although the actors did a fine job, there's really absolutely nothing remarkable to say about this movie. It simply is what it is ...generally entertaining and nothing more.

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