Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Terrifier 2 (2022) is a huge win for uncut indie horror.

The fact this got into theaters uncut, made a bunch of money as an extreme anti-Hollywood slasher, and kept growing is just phenomenal. I really liked the first Terrifier and I loved the sequel even more. Art the Clown is so much fun, and I love how he never talks, he uses guns, etc. He's just a perfect unpredictable psychopath, and Sienna is an awesome final girl. I like how the film is over 2 hours long. It gives you a lot more time with these characters and makes it even more unconventional as a slasher. I was just so happy by the end. It's really a huge achievement for indie horror and practical FX in so many different ways. The Little Pale Girl is an excellent addition to the mayhem and I can't wait to see the next film. It makes me want to come up with a new horror icon but that's much easier said than done. The director was very smart the way he differentiated his killer clown from Pennywise. Art is a brilliantly twisted invention.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1983) comes up short.

I always remember seeing the poster for this but the film itself is fairly boring unfortunately. No great slasher icon in this. Just an old lady with a sickle. Yeah... so scary. Even the kills are pretty dull. A lady gets her face slashed. Another guy is stabbed in the chest. One dude is bitten by a snake. Oh boy, can you get just a little exciting? Slasher fans will be snoring. No nudity. No great gore. No suspense really. I like how one character was just lying about owning Columbia Records but they needed to do something a lot more original and inventive or at least go gory and sleazy like Pieces. This film is just forgettable. Adding "Massacre" to the title was a clever way to get people to watch but they're all going to leave disappointed when said massacre never transpires. Definitely a lot better films out there to spend your time on. I love 80s horror but this a very poor example. Nothing memorable at all really, which is a shame. The opening is ok I guess.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996) is ridiculous fun.

I don't know how anyone could ever take this movie seriously. First of all, it's the Leprechaun series. I don't think it's possible for it to jump the shark. Go nuts. Do the craziest thing you can think of. Why not? Let's just have a blast. Leprechaun 3 was surprisingly pretty good so I was glad to see the same director back for another sequel but I was worried by the low IMDb rating. How very stupid of me. You should always see stuff yourself. You can tell watching this film that the director and writer are big fans of Aliens. You kind of get your Queen Alien, you got your low-rent space marines, etc. I thought it was very entertaining for what it is. A super sized Leprechaun? An alien space lady who just looks like a hot human girl with more makeup? Sure, go for it. Complaining about this would be like complaining about McDonald's. You should know what you're getting. It's obvious just by the title. I hope Darren Lynn Bousman gets to make his sequel, and I hope it's insane.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

I couldn't get enough of Grizzly (1976).

Yes, it's clearly aping Jaws but I enjoyed this film so much. I already want to watch it again, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the charming characters and actors or the brutal violence but this was so entertaining. You really can't predict who will die next, and that is a huge part of it I think. The relationships also feel quite real. Some characters you're certain will make it end up in the meat grinder that they call a bear. Of course, I don't think it's realistic at all but it doesn't matter. Bears can be extremely dangerous and cause some gruesome deaths (you definitely don't want to run into one in real life) but this thing seems like a furry Terminator. Just look at that tagline on the poster: "18 feet of gut-crunching, man-eating terror!" That is brilliant and boy howdy does it deliver. I know one thing for certain: if I read that tagline, I'd have to see this movie but usually you'd end up regretting that decision. Well, not in this case.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The Day of the Beast (1995) is full of dark humor.

This film is really funny at times but pitch black. If you want to see a priest doing awful things because he needs to get on Satan's side to stop the birth of the Antichrist (quite twisted logic), this is your movie. I wouldn't be surprised if the director got death threats but it's just a movie and it's quite good. I can see it being controversial though, which is why the director should be applauded even more. Shudder had it under their Essentials category and you can see why. Some FX don't quite hold up but they're still impressive really and you get everything you're promised on that poster so I was happy there. I think horror fans will certainly like this film and it earns the 7.3 rating on IMDb. It's a fun unique horror comedy that subverts expectations very well. Spoiler alert but I like how the very beautiful girl who dresses all sexy is actually a virgin and the ending goes all out in the best ways so you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Xtro 3: Watch the Skies (1995) is kind of a train wreck.

Like Xtro 2, which just ripped off Aliens in a pretty lousy way, the third film in this shouldn't-be-a-series really isn't doing it any favors. My brain is already expelling the memories like some strange contagion. I can't believe the same director did all three films but each one had different writers, which is clearly the problem. I enjoyed the first Xtro quite a bit, and it was rather unique, but this one is a mess. There are some very bad dodgy FX where the alien turns invisible, cloaking like the Predator but it looks horrible especially when it's a puppet being moved in the distance. I love puppets but wow. You shouldn't try to copy Predator especially if you can't pull it off. People will just make negative comparisons. It's much better to try to do something unique. Sadly, none of this film is scary and I didn't care for the characters at all, which are your typical cliche marines. I was bored trying to watch this. I felt no suspense or anything.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Alien 2: On Earth (1980)... uhm... yeah...

Do I need to say anything? I mean it's obvious right? A bad Alien ripoff. A fake Italian sequel. It does have nudity in one scene and some odd kills but not nearly enough to make up for how insanely boring it is. Wait, is that an egg on the beach? Quick cut to someplace else. The FX are pretty bad even though they are practical. What sucks is how little FX you get and how everything else feels like filler for the worst cave movie you ever saw. Seriously, there is a monster in here killing people. They're trapped in a cave. How can you make it so dull? That takes a special kind of skill. No atmosphere, lifeless characters, nothing interesting going on, no sense of urgency or stakes, etc. I think my brain already expelled this dump out of self-preservation. So yeah, definitely skip this unless you just love suffering and even then there are about a billion better ways to toil in eternal pain although I guess boredom is one of the worst. But it's Alien 2... I had to watch it... please don't be as stupid as me...

Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Only Real Way to Learn Directing

If you think a book, a class, or some making of doc is going to cut it, the sad truth is none of those will be enough. Sure they can help *a little* but the only way to really learn directing is by directing, and if you want to direct features, the only way to learn that is by directing features. Directing shorts can give you some insight but a short can be done in a day or a week, maybe a few months or six, but features take at least a year if not several. It's like running around the block compared to a cross-country marathon and even that ignores the time component, which takes forever when you get into post particularly editing (don't do it all yourself... but you will learn the most that way although you'll most likely learn you got a long way to go). Everybody wants to think you can watch someone else direct and then boom you can do it too. If you watch Spielberg, you can be Spielberg. It doesn't work like that. How many writers, producers, actors, FX artists, etc. have you seen become directors who worked with literally the best in the business but then their own work feels like a first-timer? It happens all the time because they are a first-timer, at least when it comes to directing a feature. Yes, sometimes, they can level up by paying the best crews to hoist them up but so often even that fails and it takes a lot of money. If you're watching from the sidelines, that's all you're doing. You're watching. You don't have the entire weight of that production on your shoulders, trying to juggle everything and problem solve a million things at once. Sure you can spot things *you think* they could have done better or little things they "missed" but how can you judge when you don't know all the shit they have to deal with? Until you are in that position with all that crap reigning down on you as you fight all the elements including motherfucking reality and your own people can you begin to understand the vast hellscape they're being crushed under especially on indies where so often one poor bastard is wearing far too many hats. Just look at the picture above. Staring into the jaws of the beast, that's film directing. Actually, Francis Ford Coppola's famous photo from Apocalypse Now is the most apt metaphor for being a film director especially an indie one.


All that aside, I love directing but you have to be ready to take a beating. Never let anyone say you can't do it but don't assume you know everything because you're a good cinematographer or you've been on a bunch of sets. Direct your first feature and you'll see what it's really like. Direct your first feature and you'll be humbled. Direct your first feature and you'll learn so much. It's really an incredible experience but it's not easy nor should it be. And a strange thing about directing features is it doesn't really get easier the more you make. It does kind of in some ways but it also becomes harder too especially if you really want to make something great.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Down to Hell (1997) can't measure up to Versus (2000).

But that isn't surprising considering the difference in budget and crew. It's hard to believe Versus (2000) was originally going to be Down to Hell 2 since this early effort pales in comparison but it's still cool to see. Everybody has to start somewhere. Even if you watch the first films of Hitchcock, Kubrick, or Villeneuve, it's tough to see the legends they'd become. Unless you have millions to hire professional artists to lift you up, your first film is likely to embarrass you later. That is only natural though. It means you've learned and made progress. You just have to keep working at it and try to always improve, which also means recognizing where you came up short. It's easier said than done. Down to Hell lacks cool FX or kills. Almost no gore, action, or suspense. It's pretty dull but hey, try to make a movie for no money. It's insanely difficult especially when you first start. Sure everybody says they could do better but that's just talk. Put your money where your mouth is then you'll understand.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

XX: Beautiful Weapon (1993) won me over big time.

Having watched Guzoo (and obsessed over it... I love practical FX monsters what can I say), I was curious to see the director's Beautiful Weapon film. It didn't disappoint at all. I quite like this pinky violence series especially Beautiful Beast but this one might just be better. The way the story unfolds is pretty clever and I like the lead guy who realizes the trap of our beautiful assassin. It feels very much like she is a spider luring in her victims with sex, and they always think they have the advantage. It's definitely smarter than it needed to be. Yes, I know the US DVD cover is shit but the film is good. Alright, it's good if you like these types of films. Some people don't? Sorry I'm not normal. Who is normal? Probably not the guy talking to himself on a blog. Yeah, that's a good point. Well, giant atomic turtles aren't normal either but they're good at flying. What were we talking about? Cars. The Pixar movie? Geez, what's wrong with you? Quiet mom I'm writing my novel. Nobody reads blogs anymore? Can I ticktock this?

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Watch out for Dreams on Fire!

I really can't wait to see this film! It's an independent feature shot in Tokyo and directed by Philippe McKie. His shorts "Breaker" and "Be My First" were extremely well done with the first being cyberpunk and reminding me a lot of excellent old-school sci-fi anime while the second was his take on Japan's legendary pink films. Both had phenomenal cinematography with exciting original storytelling. Dreams on Fire provides an exhilarating and intoxicating look into Japanese dance and subculture communities. This movie has already won a bunch of awards at film festivals and the trailer alone is outstanding. I'm dying to see this. I think all artists can relate to the struggle of the main character, just constantly working hard and trying your best to break through while not giving up. We all know how difficult that is. You can watch that trailer below along with his previous short "Breaker."




Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Uncle Peckerhead (2020) is an amazing indie.

This film was hilarious and brilliant. Dark but so much fun. I think this really shows what a talented indie filmmaker can do even with very little money although it is so crazy hard to make something as good as this especially for a tiny budget, which makes such an accomplishment all the more impressive. Of course, if you have millions of dollars, you should be able to make a good film but it's never that simple because of too many cooks in the kitchen, a mountain of pressure, strings attached to said money, and just the overall difficulty in creating a truly great movie (even the best directors of all time have misfires). But on the flip side, having basically pocket change compared to Hollywood pretty much buries you under an avalanche of challenges so it's a miracle and no doubt a colossal amount of work behind the scenes when something absolutely fantastic emerges. So glad to say Uncle Peckerhead is definitely an example of beating the odds and delivering an awesome indie. Incredible gory practical FX, tons of dark humor, excellent characters you care about and want to follow, professional cinematography, etc. I really want to see what this director does next and I hope such an accomplishment makes it easier for him to bring his future films to life. I love the name of his production company too, Subtle T-Rex.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Ley Lines (1999) shows Miike's versatility even more.

The more movies you watch by Takashi Miike, the more you realize he has done just about everything in every genre. The man can literally do anything. He has already done so freakin much that it's absolutely mind-blowing. Comedy, horror, action, crime, drama, sci-fi, fantasy, hell he can do all of them in one film. Just consider this: Stanley Kubrick directed 13 features. Hitchcock directed about 55. Spielberg 37, Kurosawa 32, Ozu 48, Tarantino 9, Guillermo del Toro 11, Jim Jarmusch 15, etc. Well, Miike has directed about 107. That is unbelievable. It's all the more astounding when you discover that Miike was given a chance to direct by a total outsider to the film industry, and yet Miike is like an entire industry all by himself now with the sheer number of films he directed. He wanted to make films that hadn't been done before. Films that the Japanese film industry wasn't making, and Ley Lines is a good example since it's about a trio of young Japanese of Chinese descent struggling to survive in Tokyo. They make friends with a distraught Shanghai hooker and piss off the local crime lord as their situation gets progressively worse. As much as I liked Rainy Dog, I prefer this film although I'm hard pressed to identify why since both really engaged me. I was less enthused by Shinjuku Triad Society although I was still happy to watch it but with Miike, you really never know what you're going to get if it's a superhero comedy like Zebraman or a bizarre surreal acid trip like Gozu or just a badass old-school samurai tale like 13 Assassins. Maybe you'll end up with giant sci-fi roaches in his anime adaptation Terra Formars or get disturbed by his groundbreaking horror Audition or witness his brilliant family fantasy musical The Happiness of the Katakuris. I just think in the end you can't go wrong with Miike. Even lesser Miike is still extremely entertaining and original.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

How did I never see Guzoo: The Thing Forsaken By God - Part 1 (1986)?

I'm just shocked I never heard of this before. True, it's only 40 min long but damn it's pretty cool. I love practical FX tentacle monsters, and this certainly delivers as it attacks a bunch of cute Japanese girls. Apparently, there is no part 2, which is a bummer. This should have been a series with like 40 movies haha. Alright maybe I'm overselling it a bit but it seems so amazing when you discover something like this and I found a bunch of other short FX Japanese horror films too such as Conton (1987), Cyclops/The Unborn (1987), Gakidama: The Demon Within (1988), etc. These are the kind of cool practical FX movies I want to make. Ok maybe more like John Carpenter's The Thing but who am I kidding I'm never going to have his budget, which is why I'm impressed by what these guys did because it was probably done for pennies. Sure, it has flaws and you can see their limitations but still I think it's fantastic what they pulled off with so little. That's the magic of indie filmmaking. And look at that VHS box. That's awesome. As soon as I saw that, I knew I had to see this.

I did some digging and the internet informed me V Zone Video was behind this production. Part 2 was canceled since they went out of business. V Zone was a popular Japanese horror magazine in the 80s but its final issue was in 1987. Such a shame.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Torso (1973) is giallo at its finest.

Like everybody else, I love Dario Argento's work but there's plenty of other giallo out there and Torso is really a favorite of mine. Director Sergio Martino should get more credit for making such an exciting crazy film. It's clever too in the way it misleads you about the killer's identity, teasing and toying with you using the red-and-black scarf. Plus, the film is full of absolutely stunning women in various stages of undress, and it never gets dull for a moment. The kill scenes are well shot and very atmospheric. I always remember the brutal dispatching in the foggy woods. Overflowing with style, Torso is one I can easily rewatch. Sure, it has flaws like some of the FX could have been better but I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it. Just be sure to track down the uncut version. Of course, you probably already saw it. I'm late to the party as usual. No surprise there. Actually, I never go to parties. Mom won't let me do anything fun. She keeps sitting up in her room, staring at me from the window. I told her I have to run the motel. Guests are coming but she always has to belittle me. Yes, I'm ripping off Psycho. No, I'm not clever. I have a blog. How clever could I be? That's not fair. Some bloggers are really clever but not me. I'm like the remake of Psycho. Pointless and lazy. Alright, that's my high point. I'm out of here.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

I really loved The Incubus (1981).

Yes, the very end is slightly cheesy due to the FX but this film is so well directed that it is extremely engaging. I was so surprised. My expectations were very low but John Cassavetes is outstanding in it, and again director John Hough really should be championed so much more. He is famous of course for The Legend of Hell House, which is excellent but I really need to see all his movies now (I'm ashamed I didn't see them all already). I really want to study this film because even just the way simple dialogue exchanges are done is fantastic. How they move the camera works so well. So much does come down to the script, which has to be phenomenal and is sadly the most underappreciated yet essential component, but such compelling direction truly elevates the material too. Yeah sorry I sound like some stupid film student now (or even worse, a film school teacher... please kill me) but I just love this movie.

Monday, August 23, 2021

So glad to finally see Evil Dead Trap (1988).

I really love Japanese horror films but sadly I didn't see this one until recently because I foolishly thought it was just a ripoff of Evil Dead, which to be fair, I would still be happy to watch. Of course, I was completely wrong. Despite the title, it's a very unique original movie that really has nothing to do with Sam Raimi's films except they're both gory horror. There are some insanely-inventive kills in this that I never saw before, and I very much dug the atmosphere. I immediately had to check out both sequels, which unfortunately were rather disappointing but I'm still glad I saw them all. There is something special and different about this first one. As people much smarter than me have pointed out, this film feels very much influenced by Italian horror like Argento and Fulci. I love their output too so such a mix sounds like heaven to me, and I think this film certainly delivers. The ending really gets nuts but that is part of the charm. I love films that dare to do something different.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Tomie: Unlimited (2011) is an improvement.

I liked this better than the first film in the series but it still feels cheap unfortunately due to the lackluster digital cinematography. I really like how they tried to do more of the Cronenbergesque body horror from the manga but the FX don't quite hold up. I really wish these filmmakers could get a bigger budget, a better camera, etc. I'm still not sure about the actress they cast for Tomie. She is ok I guess but not as amazingly gorgeous as I imagine the character. Sometimes you see a girl in Tokyo that just immediately knocks you out since she is so breathtaking. If only they could cast someone like that. There are definitely girls like that here in Japan but they never put them in Tomie movies unfortunately. But I hope they keep trying. Tomie really deserves an awesome big budget film. It just needs someone that truly gets the material and can pull it off then they need the necessary budget to achieve that. Easier said than done and I worry the financers have lost faith.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Tomie (1998) sadly disappoints.

I'm very much late to the game on this, having just recently stumbled on the freakin 9 Tomie movies that exist. Why I didn't know sooner is beyond me. I'm slow... what can I say but I was extremely excited to check these out. Then reality set in. I'm a big fan of Junji Ito's art even though I'm no expert by any means. I really don't know much except his stuff is genius, and if you read about the Tomie manga or pick it up yourself, you can see all the potential it has. Unfortunately, it seems none of the films have really capitalized on this. The first attempt in 1998 has a lot going for it or at least it should since it was made right around the time of the first Ring and it was shot on film with a good aesthetic that reminds me of Hideo Nakata's classic but Tomie ends up being rather prodding with not much to grab the viewer. It's a shame. Another issue that seems to plague all these movies is the actress they pick for Tomie never seems so irresistibly beautiful to make all the men go crazy over her.

Friday, May 7, 2021

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) is great to watch.

I love seeing monster movies like this. Them and Day of the Triffids are two of my favorites besides the original Universal Monsters of course (Frankenstein and Creature from the Black Lagoon can't be beat). Yes, the FX don't quite hold up in this but I think there's something charming about a guy in a suit vs. today's CG nonsense although sometimes CGI can be amazing as well (the limited CGI in the first Jurassic Park and the extraordinary work in Starship Troopers). Then again I didn't like the practical FX in Gargoyles so I'm contradictory but I expected a little more from Stan Winston and that was the '70s vs. the '50s here. I shouldn't be so harsh to Gargoyles either since it was a TV movie and full monster suits are never easy. Really I just love monster movies. Even the bad ones are great to me, and I would love to watch every monster movie ever made even though that might be impossible. I like the characters in this film and the way the story develops. At first, no one believes our hero, the only survivor from the first encounter, but once they see the monster for themselves, they know he is telling the truth. It's a common storyline especially in vampire flicks but I like how our guy isn't bitter at that. He understands why they wouldn't believe him. I'm so glad we even got a toy of this monster. One thing is certain: if you want a great monster movie, you need a ruthless unstoppable monster. Alien, Terminator, Jaws all have this in common. The harder it is to kill the beast, the more suspenseful your film will be. Same thing goes for how lethal the creature is. Monster movies really have clear stakes, which I think makes them very effective. Rarely are they boring, and I just love monsters.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) is perfect fun.

Ok nothing is perfect but come on, it's close enough. This movie is so much fun, it gives you exactly what you want (three Godzilla vs. Kong fights!), the human characters are great, etc. I really liked Godzilla: King of the Monsters. What they did with Ghidorah, Rodan, and Mothra was incredible but the humans were kind of a mess, which is a shame since they had phenomenal actors. But there were far too many, some were unnecessary, [spoilers ahead] the mom's motivation is difficult to grasp (her son died so she wants to kill all sons? obviously grief affects people in different ways but getting revenge on everyone, killing all of humanity including your daughter, seems a bit much) plus her flip-flopping is also strange (when Charles Dance is in your film, he's the only bad guy you need), etc. [spoilers finished] So I can't fully embrace King of the Monsters, which kinda kills me because Ghidorah is so badass in that movie, the title is the best ever, and Godzilla himself is incredible as well. The fact they managed to make Rodan and Mothra amazing too is just stunning. Millie Bobby Brown is fantastic in it too. But Godzilla vs. Kong really blows it out of the water. The pacing is so good, the film flies by, the human side is streamlined and I like the characters a lot but wisely Kong feels like the lead. Godzilla is badass and the fights between them are brilliant. The first scene of the film is with Kong, just a tad bit later you get awesome Godzilla action as he attacks Apex, back to Kong, not long after that is their first fight, etc. It couldn't be better executed. My one gripe is Mecha's design but it's still pretty good [spoilers] and I love how it turns on its creators [end spoilers]. The film is a blast from start to finish and it's great to rewatch as well. I really love this movie and I hope Wingard gets to direct Destroy All Monsters down the road.

Of course, nothing tops the original Godzilla but for a versus film especially this one, it's really the best we could have hoped for. Godzilla vs. Kong shouldn't be dour and serious. It should be fun and focus on the titular monsters, which this film does really well. I'm sorry but I'm not a huge fan of the old King Kong vs. Godzilla although I need to see the original Japanese version to understand how Ishiro Honda was trying to make a parody and sendup of Japanese TV culture at the time (something lost in the more serious US edit). I'm just so happy we finally got the matchup these two legendary monsters deserve.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Ghoulies II (1987) is much better than the first.

I love the practical FX in this, and they even redo the toilet scene that was really just a brief shot in the first one (I read they actually added it after the fact once they came up with that great poster). I had never seen these films until recently but of course, the VHS cover was always in my head. The original film has some nice moments but I really enjoyed the sequel a ton more. You get quite a few more monsters, the FX are better, the ending is cool and unexpected, etc. Seems a shame the sequels after this went downhill. Empire Pictures put out so many awesome movies like Re-Animator, Robot Jox, From Beyond, TerrorVision, Troll, Trancers, etc. I really want to see the documentary Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland when it's finally released (I hate that I missed out on that Kickstarter). Indie film companies really should be celebrated because they are few and far between especially the ones that actually stick around a while (and the ones that make monster movies!).

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Inseminoid (1981) is a sleazy hilarious Alien ripoff.

I love Alien so much I can't help watching all the terrible Z-grade knockoffs, and honestly, I enjoy these too because they show you why Alien is so good. You can see how Alien took the same kind of material but elevated it through high-class cinematography, breathtaking sets, the involvement of a real artist designing the monster in the form of H.R. Giger, excellent writing, the best cast you could hope for, etc. A lot of that does come down to the budget since millions of dollars allows you to get better actors, experienced craftsmen, more time for shooting, etc. so I still appreciate these down and dirty clones but the true flaw of these imitations is not being original. But like I said, I still love to watch them, and they usually have some well-done moments at least or they'll make you laugh. Inseminoid is pretty bad but it gets pretty crazy and fun around 32 min in. If you click here, you can watch it for free on Tubi right now (in the US at least). I really love the posters for it below.


Friday, January 29, 2021

The Blood of Wolves (2018) makes for an excellent crime film with a fantastic lead.

I love Japanese cinema especially crime movies like this. Kôji Yakusho steals the show as usual. You'll recognize him from Cure, 13 Assassins, The World of Kanako, Tokyo Sonata, etc. The characters he plays are fascinating especially the way he brings them to life with such powerful performances. I couldn't look away (except that first shot and what a first shot it is). The whole film is awesome and easy to get pulled into. It's very much about a world that is gray, not black and white where things are not what they seem. You get a lot of mysteries and questions but the high stakes keep you firmly rooted in what's happening. Even the side characters are wonderful like the girl Hioka Shuichi falls for. I wish she was in the film more. The developing relationship between the two main cops is the primary focus, and it's extremely compelling. I'm excited a sequel is on the way, and I wish I could see the director's first film Lost Paradise in Tokyo.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

I still really enjoyed Tetsuo: The Bullet Man (2009).

Sure, I prefer 16mm or 35mm over the early digital look but I still liked this film a lot. I really wish great Japanese genre directors like Tsukamoto could get crazy 50-150 million dollar budgets for their work. It seems rare for the budgets to increase for sequels in Japan unfortunately. At least, the director Yoshihiro Nishimura appeared to have gotten more money with the sequel to the 2005 film Meatball Machine since the cinematography was much improved on Meatball Machine Kodoku but digital also came a long way in the 12 years between those films. Back to Tsukamoto's work though, Body Hammer also looked to have a much larger budget than the first film so I'm sad that doesn't seem to be the case with number three. I always wish we could get more behind the scenes details on these Japanese films. Joe Bob Briggs was saying that Tarantino tried to help Shinya Tsukamoto get this third film off the ground but it never materialized. After reading interviews with Tsukamoto, it's easy to see why that didn't pan out since American producers wanted Tetsuo to be more understandable to US audiences, they insisted on a famous lead actor, etc. I think it's good his vision wasn't compromised by doing his third Tetsuo in Hollywood. Regardless, the ingenuity, insane passion, and creativity will forever impress me on this belated third entry. He still managed to do a ton of FX and action with some very cool sequences. Of course, I would've preferred grungy 16mm or 35mm but regardless, I very much enjoyed it. Tetsuo is such a unique interesting trilogy. I hope one day we can get a fourth film with more money behind it but only if Tsukamoto can do it his way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Wicked City (1992) proves to be incredibly strange and oddly entertaining.

I really love the 1987 anime this is based on so I should rightfully hate this live-action version because it pretty much takes the great story of the original and repeatedly runs it over with a freight truck until only a gory mess remains then it sets that on fire until dancing on it with neon tentacles. Yeah, I think that's an accurate summary of how this treats the source material. But... this film is so crazy weird and kinda similar to the anime like a long lost mutated cousin that I rather enjoyed it. I had no idea what it was going to do next. The opening scene is pretty much straight out of the anime minus the nudity (come on guys) then it goes haywire with a demon drug, kung fu, wire fu, non-demon cops that still have powers, a psychic-projected plane (I think?), the aforementioned neon tentacles, etc. It's really all over the place and the English synopsis said something about "Rapters" but in the subtitled version I saw, they never mentioned "Rapters" once so I'm thinking someone took some liberties with the dubbing or someone got confused on the packaging. Confusing is a good word to describe this movie although you can pretty much follow it but why they threw all this extra stuff in a blender with the already-fantastic anime is a good question. Maybe the filmmakers were trying to put their own stamp on it and it is certainly unique so I guess they achieved that but it's very odd. I do like the inventive FX with some of the demons. Unfortunately, I wonder if any great live-action adaptation of an anime can really be done because they all seem to turn out inferior to the source. I did really enjoy Parasyte: Part 1 and Part 2. Those actually had pretty good CGI too, which surprised me even more but even with those, they're certainly not better than the anime. They're just a good adaptation, which is maybe all we can hope for. I guess the same argument can be made for books vs. films but sometimes, I think, films have surpassed the books. Or I have no clue what I'm talking about and there is some 5,000 lb levitating purple blowfish here with a bazooka and nunchucks forcing me to write this. It's definitely the latter, and that about sums up this movie.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Space Amoeba (1970) is charming.

I love seeing these old Toho kaiju movies. Even the lesser ones. I read reviews where a lot of people gave this film grief over how the giant squid Gezora walks on its tentacles as if the FX looked really bad. For 1970, in Japan, I think it's fine. They hid the performer's legs pretty well, and it's a unique way of doing it. I love these men-in-suits giant monster movies. There is a charm CGI can never match. Sure, some FX shots aren't the greatest but I still respect it. Not every kaiju film can be Godzilla (1954). I watched the Japanese giant Frankenstein flicks as well. I really enjoy these older films. It's funny how different some of the titles are in Japanese. Space Amoeba is actually Gezora, Ganimes, and Kamoebas: Decisive Battle! Giant Monsters of the South Seas in Japanese. I guess they thought that was too long or confusing for American audiences. That is a pretty damn long title but I like how they emphasized the three monsters and even try to hype you up.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Gargoyles (1972) is a bit lacking.

But it's a TV movie. From the '70s. And now I'm reminded of Duel, which was fuckin awesome. Well... uhm... yeah, this film pales in comparison as do most. I wanted to see Gargoyles because Stan Winston did the FX. Unfortunately, the flick is rather dull and the titular creatures don't really hold up. Maybe if they were in the shadows more. You do get to see them a lot (too much I think) and there are several varieties. But it won an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup so what the fuck do I know. The original Frankenstein has much better makeup although that wasn't a full body suit but it was way back in 1931. Jack Pierce deserves a lot more praise. Gargoyles definitely isn't a horror classic, just a so so monster movie. The best gargoyle on the silver screen goes to Tales from the Darkside. I doubt anything will beat that although I'd love to see some more modern gargoyle films with practical FX. As it stands, I can't really recommend Gargoyles (1972).

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Personal Shopper (2016) amazes and impresses.

A unique, incredible film wonderfully executed. Kristen Stewart has really grown on me between this and Underwater. She has great taste in projects, and this French director is phenomenal. No spoilers but I was genuinely surprised a number of times since I knew nothing about this before seeing it (the best way to watch a movie). It's funny how the poster tries to emphasize her sexuality. I guess you have to sell it somehow. At least, it doesn't give anything away. The way this movie deals with its subject matter is quite revealing and very different from other similar films. I can't quite say what that is without ruining it but it's not the typical flashy Hollywood style. It feels far more real and impactful here. I keep thinking about this movie and I love it. I'm getting older haha life sucks but movies rule. I wish there more subtle mature films like this one. The atmosphere in Personal Shopper is truly magnificent. I'm sad I never heard of this until it was recommended to me.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Cruel & Unusual (2014) blew me away.

I really loved this film. The characters were sympathetic, the cinematography was polished and professional, the script was smart and unpredictable, etc. You've seen movies like this before. At least I have but this one still felt new and unique. The other guilty individuals Edgar meets were funny but also endearing and real. Truly excellent acting all around. I don't want to spoil anything but you should absolutely watch it if you can and don't read anything beforehand. I saw it on the Japanese Amazon Prime. It has gotten amazing reviews and it's easy to see why. It's really a brilliant film that is also moving and powerful but fun too. It reminds me of The Shawshank Redemption, which is crazy high praise I know but it was awesome. I also thought of Cube and some other smaller indies I've seen. I won't give anything away but the ending is spectacular. I was so floored after I watched this. I hope the director makes a lot more films. I can't believe this is his first feature. It's unbelievably good.
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