November 2018

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Ballad of a Soldier [1959]

aka Ballada o soldate

Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 93
Personal = 6.1

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]

Rotten Tomatoes = 60 / 32
Personal = 5.3

A highly experimental research lab, on a barren planet, attempts to create a genetically created 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 it's an entertaining watch. How does Corman do it?

The 12th Man [2017]

Rotten Tomatoes = 85 / 66
Personal = 4.0

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

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 = 75 / 38
Personal = 6.5

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

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 the weakest of the franchise, so far. Even Pinhead was sans good lines in this one.

Equilibrium [2002]

Rotten Tomatoes = 38 / 81
Personal = 7.8

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 / 55
Personal = 4.3

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 = - / 22
Personal = 3.8

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 = 13 / 38
Personal = 6.6

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 or 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. A creepy good time.

Security [2017]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 35
Personal = 7.1

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 was an excellent match. Quite exciting despite the fact that it's predictable and somewhat contrived.

E-Demon [2018]

aka The Viral Demon

Rotten Tomatoes = 40 / 67
Personal = 3.5

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's irritating. Illogical and poorly made.

Hellraiser VIII: Hellworld [2005]

Rotten Tomatoes = 20 / 22
Personal = 4.3

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 a Hellraiser movie until about the last 2 minutes. Rather it just pretends to be 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 = 8 / 20
Personal = 6.1

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 the 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

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 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 = 79 / 51
Personal = 5.0

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

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 was couldn't deliver a proper Pinhead line if his life depended on it.

Cold Skin [2017]

Rotten Tomatoes = 50 / 62
Personal = 7.6

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 ...and the film is all about them which is what makes it 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 excellent. Very well made film!

Fever Night aka Band of Satanic Outsiders [2009]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 4.7

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 had 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 / 28
Personal = 7.2

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!

Planned Reviews Coming Soon

22 July [2018]
The Basement [2018]
Billy Boy [2017]
Blood Fest [2018]
The Divine Move [2014]
Galaxy Quest [1999]
Immortals [2011]
Island of Terror [1966]
The Matrix [1999]
The Matrix Reloaded [2003]
Nancy [2018]
Patient Zero [2018]
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich [2018]
Slither [2006]
The Third Murder [2017]

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