Saturday, October 20, 2018

A Quiet Place (2018) is phenomenal.

Finally a new creature feature that actually delivers. Relying only on sign language and visual storytelling for so much of its runtime was a ballsy move: you're asking the audience to sit in near silence for long stretches. Sure, you get small sounds of people walking around, ambience, a fantastic score reminiscent of Sicario, etc. but some of your patrons are going to get antsy with no one talking and yet it's genius. Film is a visual medium and often the less dialogue, the better. Show, don't tell, is the old adage. The lack of people blabbing instantly puts you into the world of these characters where any sound could mean instant death and the opening quickly establishes these stakes. Whatever these monsters are, they're not fucking around. When a little space shuttle toy nearly comes crashing down to the floor, barely saved at the last second, the reactions on the faces of our protagonist tell you clearly how one little mistake like that could cost everyone their lives. It's phenomenal writing and such an amazing concept to create tension. You don't get any explanation for what the monsters are or where they came from and you don't need one. Those questions don't matter. It's all about survival. They use CGI for the creatures but even that is done very well and the monster design is so unique I can't fault them one bit. Everything works and what a great ending. I want to make films like this.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Beyond Skyline (2017) was a blast.

I enjoyed this way too much. I'm a huge fan of Frank Grillo ever since The Purge: Anarchy, and he gets a ton to do here plus you get Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian from The Raid battling these extraterrestrials with a nice dash of bloody brutality for good measure. What's not to love here? I was shocked this was the same writer as the first film because I really liked the characters a lot this time around. Truth to be told, I didn't hate Skyline. The FX were incredible. Yes, CGI but done at a professional level on a low budget (very low for Hollywood, impossible for indies) so even a practical FX junkie like myself has to admire that. It wasn't boring, heck I rather enjoyed it like if Roger Corman finally got some money (the alien designs looked great), but this sequel blows it out of the water. I was shocked at everything they did in this film and the amount of FX is staggering. Frank Grillo definitely owns this movie and you get some surprising deaths. I love how ruthless the aliens are, ripping out everyone's brains in gory gruesome fashion. That sounds ridiculous writing it but they completely won me over (yeah I'm probably not that hard to win over). Ok, the ending goes off the rails a bit maybe, well definitely, but still I had fun. Not sure I'd be down for another one. This felt like an overdose by the final scene but you have to give the writer/director a lot of credit. He came out swinging and did a hell of a job. Yes, I like Skyline 2. I admit it. It isn't Aliens by any stretch but I had a good time. Everybody has some guilty pleasures. Mine just happen to be a bloody dinosaur movie that rips off Aliens and the Punisher killing some cool-looking E.T.'s.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Turbo Kid (2015) rocks.

First off, Michael Ironside. That is always a plus but this film has so much imagination and heart I don't think you could resist it. Then they spray you with some over-the-top gore, chuck in a few laughs, and a little nostalgia with every kid's dream come true: a Power Glove that blows shit up. Hell yeah. So many post-apocalyptic movies are far too bleak and dour. You don't want to sit through them but this one makes the time fly. Of course, I enjoy depressing flicks sometimes but every once in a while, you need some bright colors or you can't appreciate the dark. Our heroes are sympathetic and interesting. The bad guys are a joy too. I didn't expect it to be so bloody but that is right up my alley. It's an odd duckling and that is why it's so charming. I can't believe this was a co-production between Canada and New Zealand. There is hope for us yet. If you're in the mood for a good time, put this on. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura (2017) is an enchanting, delightful surprise.

I really love the humor and imagination of this film. Most importantly, it has real stakes. It's easy to like the characters and get invested. The film is a bit long (over 2 hours) but the time passed quickly and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My Japanese girlfriend suggested this to me. I'm glad she did too. Otherwise, I never would've known about it, and it's not a film I'd normally pick to watch, which is more my mistake than anything. The poster makes it look a bit like fluffy nonsense but it's not at all. The CGI is pretty good but the story, creativity, performances, and heart really are what make it special. The actress is charming, and I like all the creatures constantly popping up. You get your Mos Eisley scene with a colorful showcase of spirit dealers. My favorite character had to be the Binbogami whose purpose is to bring bad luck to those he haunts but his reaction to the wife is priceless and such a moving part of the film. It's worth watching solely for that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Never heard of Intruders (2015) but it is so astonishingly good I can't believe it.

Alright full disclosure: I got this confused with that Clive Owen Intruders movie (by the director of 28 Weeks Later released in 2011). In other words, I'm an idiot, but damn, this newer 2015 film was fantastic. I only read a really brief synopsis before watching it so I was shocked at what unfolded. I can't believe some people didn't like it. It only has a 5.7 rating on IMDb but I would easily put it at a 7 or 8. That said, don't read any spoilers or watch a trailer. Just like most movies, it's best to go in with a blank state (they give way too much away these days). One thing is for sure: you have to admire the actress. Her range is incredible, and the storytelling was perfectly executed. You get sympathetic characters that hook you from the start and a compelling beginning that turns everything on its head. This reminded me of Don't Breathe, which was another single-location thriller I really liked. I'm still curious though if that Clive Owen flick is worth watching.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Natural City (2003) is great Korean sci-fi.

I had seen the DVD cover to this but never checked it out, figuring it couldn't possibly be as good as the insane praise on the cover. "A modern Blade Runner" is pretty damn hard to live up to but I have to say I wasn't disappointed. Like a live action Japanese anime, this has gore, futuristic soldiers with guns, cyborgs, fantastic set design, ample rain and smoke, etc. I'm amazed they were able to pull this off. The lead actor is excellent with his conflicted feelings driving the narrative (you'll recognize him as the antagonist from Oldboy). If you're at all curious, I suggest going in spoiler free without reading anything so you should stop here because I'm going to give some crappy semblance of the story. R, our badass main man, used to be one of the best Military Police until he fell in love with a machine whose expiration date keeps inching closer while he tries to get enough cash to save her and avoid his suspicious boss who also happens to be his best friend. If that's not complex enough, another girl enters the picture and there's more to it than that once you find out the truth about the big bad cyborg shooting the place up. Needless to say, it's awesome and you even get some Robocop-esque squibs from time to time. Ok not quite ED-209 boardroom massacre size but definitely nice and bloody. Sure, there's some CGI that could be better but I don't think it's bad and you get some nice practical too. If you like Korean cinema or interesting bloody sci-fi, this is a gem waiting to be discovered.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cure (1997) is brilliant.

If you never heard of this Japanese horror movie, you should check it out right away. It reminds me of Seven although Angel Dust is a more apt comparison but I saw the latter afterwards. The acting and cinematography is fantastic. You'll see imagery that won't make sense until later but I think it all clearly adds up in the end. Some might take issue with the plausibility of some aspects. Pay close attention though. The film gave plenty of justification to how this could be possible so I don't have any problem buying into it. I love these kinds of detective stories particularly when they are unaware of the real threat. It makes you want to scream at the screen but of course, our lead would have no idea the trap he is so carelessly walking into, which to me, is partly what makes it so effective. We would all stumble into that same dark jail cell without realizing what had happened until it was too late. Here comes some spoilers so stop reading if you haven't seen it yet. I thought a lot about Fallen after this but Cure is so much more clever and subtle in its mesmerizing execution. They're very similar but one is like a lunatic barking at cars in the street while the other lurks in the shadows, waiting for you to draw near. In film, the execution is everything. You could have the best script in the world, the best story, the best idea, but if your actors suck or the cinematography is terrible, if the music doesn't fit or the sound is wretched, it's all for nothing. You need that good script too though. That's why film is so challenging. All the pieces really have to come together, and I think that's clearly the case with Cure.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Werewolf in a Women's Prison (2006) is tons of fun.

I really loved this one. It's extremely gory with a pretty cool werewolf (ok sometimes it doesn't look great but other times it does... kinda like a lot of werewolf movies). The shining red eyes are awesome, and you get plenty of nudity. If you couldn't tell from the title, it's an exploitation film. Sure, the budget was clearly low and the cinematography leaves a lot to be desired (kinda looks like it was shot on a DVX), but it's entertaining as hell, the lead lady is very lovely, and the practical FX are damn good for this level of production. They kept the story and characters simple, sending up both women in prison movies and werewolf flicks. It's a unique combination that works surprisingly well. You know Hollywood would never have the guts to do this. The fact they could pull this off at all on such a tiny budget is a miracle that should be applauded. If you enjoyed this, I suggest you track down a little indie called PMS Cop. It's another great one.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Revenant (2009) is hilarious and awesome.

No, it isn't the Leonardo DiCaprio movie. Yes, I love that film too. This is an indie horror flick, and it's badass. Ignore the DVD cover. That made me not want to watch it... looks like glossy photoshopped crap but the actual movie rocks. It reminds of The Boondock Saints except better and all horror. I don't want to spoil anything but it's a very unique take on a certain subgenre pre-Dracula. I hadn't heard of it either but it blew people away at festivals and it's a ton of fun. Great black humor, cool FX, kickass story, and where it ends up is nuts. I guess it's more like Dead Heat but again it's in a league of its own. This is really the type of indie horror we should support. Can't wait to see what the writer/director does next, and I'm so glad I bought this. Very thankful to the other director that recommended it to me. I don't know how I missed this but that shows you good films really can slip through the cracks these days. I suppose me being overseas didn't help.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Review: Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998)

Prepare for a lot of cameos in this one: Kane Hodder (Jason! Hell yes!), Fred Williamson (From Dusk Till Dawn!), and David Carradine. Plus, Eva Mendes in one of her first film roles. I think it's obvious this sequel was made by a horror fan but it didn't do much for me unfortunately. It has that same generic setup of some college kids who take a wrong turn and end up in Slasherland. The main evil child isn't believable at all. You hate him immediately (and not in a good way). The cameos are nice and do help it a bit but it's pretty dull. There is a grain silo with flames coming out of it, which I guess is their version of the corn monster, but it's disappointing. Typical cult thing except Carradine's character is used as their puppet spokesperson. These Children of the Corn sequels are pretty forgettable. It's just crazy they made so many of them, and I have to be nuts for watching them. We really need another Friday the 13th. Just have fun with it and don't take it so seriously.
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