Monday, September 17, 2018

Fool's Views (9/1 – 9/15)

Friends, Ro-Mans (of the Robot Monster variety), Countrymen, lend me your steers….

It’s funny what having a little spare time, i.e. only working one job (upending governments in GVT’s production of Julius Caesar) instead of 12, can do for a person’s viewing habits and enthusiasms. Managed to pack in a wealth of Views over the course of the past couple weeks, and we’ve still got the rest of September to go before we dive headlong into this year’s installment of the October Horror Movie Challenge!

Many thanks to the Lewisburg Public Library for providing ample viewing material on DVD, inspiring several unexpected trends (didn’t know it was going to be Western Week until it was) and the opportunity for both revisits and virgin voyages alike. Ditto my castmates with their high-tech streaming capabilities, and similar horror inclinations. Always more fun with a crowd!

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fool's Views (8/1 – 8/31)

Howdy, folks!

Managed a respectable tally for the month of August, and cranked out more full-length reviews than I had all year, so good news there. (I am currently in West Virginia, rehearsing Julius Caesar for the good people at Greenbrier Valley Theatre, so September is already shaping up to be a winner.)

Let’s get on with it! As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Sunday, September 9, 2018

BLOOD PUNCH (2014) movie review

Blood Punch (2014) d. Madellaine Paxson (USA)

Milo Cawthorne (so great in 2015’s Deathgasm) provides another stellar star turn for horror/comedy fans courtesy of this enjoyably brain-twisting spin on time-loop flicks a la Groundhog Day, Coherence, Timecrimes, etc. Here he plays Milton, a supersmart slacker with a particular bent for chemistry, even more particularly of the crystal meth recipe bent, which is duly noted by criminal opportunist Skyler (Olivia Tennet) during Milton’s incarceration in a rehab facility.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

DEEP RED (1975) Blu-ray review

Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso) (1975) d. Dario Argento (Italy)

David Hemmings plays a English jazz pianist in Italy, who after a late-night set, witnesses a brutal murder and feels compelled to unravel the mystery. Considered by many to be the apex of the giallo subgenre, this is Argento in his ’70s prime, with dazzling, dizzying camerawork capturing beautifully violent - if occasionally nonsensical - set-pieces, all couched within the driving rhythms of prog-rock band Goblin (their first of numerous sonic collaborations).

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH (1964) Blu-ray review

The Horror of Party Beach (1964) d. Del Tenney (USA)

Off the shore of an unnamed New England beach, unbeknownst to hordes of hip-swiveling, lip-locking teens sweating and grooving to the rock-and-roll beat, a small vessel dumps a barrel of (clearly labeled) toxic waste overboard. Striking the ocean floor, it springs a link right next to a human skeleton, sparking a highly unscientific (and inordinately lengthy) chemical reaction wherein the bones not only reanimate but regenerate into a bipedal cannibalistic sea creature with a dual penchant for bloodletting and multiplication.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

THE TINGLER (1959) Blu-ray review

The Tingler (1959) d. William Castle, (USA)

“Scream! Scream! Scream for your lives!!

Fresh off the success of House on Haunted Hill, producer-director-huckster extraordinaire Castle, screenwriter Robb White and star Vincent Price re-teamed the same year to serve up this minor horror classic. Price’s pathologist discovers that every living person has a mysterious organism that, sparked by fear, takes possession of our backbones. When he manages to extract the creature from a recent victim, it resembles a centipede-like creature armed with cruel pincers and extraordinary, bone-cracking power.

Monday, September 3, 2018

THE SONG OF SOLOMON (2017) Blu-ray review

The Song of Solomon (2017) d. Stephen Biro (USA)

Mary (Jessica Cameron) witnesses and/or causes the hysterical suicide of her father (writer-director-executive producer Stephen Biro), subsequently falling victim to what appears to be a full-blown demonic possession, complete with babbling voices, bizarre ocular occurrences (courtesy of snazzy sclera lenses), and an imperviousness to pain and good hygiene. This sparks a wave of priests descending upon her, each more determined than the last to rid the world of these dark forces, and the stage is set for the ultimate clash between Good and zzzzzzzzzzzz…

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Fool's Views (6/1 – 7/31)

Yep, it’s me again.

June was taken up with Enlightened Warrior Training Camps in Barcelona, self-defense workshops with IMPACT Chicago, and rehearsals for The Hero’s Wife at 16th Street Theater in Berwyn (yes BERWYNNNNN) ; as such, I think I only watched maybe a half dozen movies (and most of those during the flights to and from Europe). Things calmed down slightly in July once the show got on its feet and began its critically acclaimed run, which is why I opted to lump the two summer months together for a respectable 22-View tally.

Reflecting back, it was a pretty good collection of flicks, including a few new releases (which are, of course, not that new anymore but whatever). Looking forward to hearing what people thought.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Saturday, September 1, 2018

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (2009) Blu-ray Review

The Last House on the Left (2009) d. Dennis Iliadis (USA)

When it was first announced, I will openly admit to shuddering at the thought of a big budget remake (even one co-produced by Wes Craven himself) of the notorious 1972 low budget shocker. However, against all odds, while not nearly as discomfiting as the original, the redux manages to carve out its own territory and more than satisfies on its own terms.

Friday, August 31, 2018

CHAOS (2005) Blu-ray review

Chaos (2005) d. David DeFalco (USA)

I saw Chaos for the first time during its initial limited 2005 summer release in Chicago, home of the infamous Roger Ebert debate/“zero stars” review. Ironically, the swelling of ill-informed hatred put me in an odd position of defending it in spite of the fact that I didn't think it was a great film or even a good film. However, since it had such a limited theatrical release, I found myself incredibly frustrated not having anyone to actually talk to who had actually seen the damn thing – arguing instead against mere rhetoric and ignorance.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) Blu-ray Review

The Last House on the Left (1972) d. Wes Craven (USA)

Groundbreaking offering from the nascent producing/directing team of Sean S. Cunningham and Wes Craven borrows the elemental plotline of Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, then marinates it with brutality and shocking discomfort the likes of which moviegoing audiences had never witnessed before. While attempting to score some pot en route to a rock concert, two teenage girls (Sandra Peabody aka Sandra Cassel and Lucy Grantham) are kidnapped, raped, and murdered by a “family” of ex-cons. Then, in an ironic twist of fate, the killers’ car breaks down, forcing them to take refuge in the home of one of the dead girl’s parents (Richard Towers aka Gaylord St. James and Cynthia Carr) … who soon learn the truth about their new guests.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Fool's Views (4/1 – 5/31) (Part 2 of 2)

All right! Back for round two!

My Steven Soderbergh extravaganza was inspired, in fact, by my recent viewing of David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, where I thought, "I wonder if I can find Schizopolis as well." (Yes, this is how my mind works. You're just lucky I didn't also decide to pop in Fritz Lang's Metropolis and/or the Jim Wynorski documentary, Popatopolis.)

With regard to the half-dozen Kurt Russell flicks, that was born of a recent conversation with my good pal John Pata where we were talking about the recent Overboard remake starring Anna Faris, and I confessed that I had never seen the original with Himself and Goldie Hawn. I then went on to confess that I was pretty light on the Kurtiverse as a whole, and so rattled through IMDb and the Chicago Public Library shelves to see what all I could track down.

Here's the thing, though: I don't understand the mystique about Kurt. I find him to be completely capable yet hardly distinctive. I feel, with the exception of his features with John Carpenter (minus Escape from L.A., because ohmygodthatmovie), he's always doing his Kurt thing which I don't find all that interesting, much less A-list material. I find myself imagining other actors in the roles that he plays and that's never a good thing. I figured I must be missing something, but six more films under my belt (plus The Fate of the Furious, watched the first week in June) has done little to change my mind. Ah well.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth - we'll make sure you get some change back.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Fool's Views (4/1 – 5/31) (Part 1 of 2)

Howdy folks!

Ahem. So, here’s what happened.

During the month of April, I was either a) enjoying a trip to Alaska with my lovely bride to celebrate 10 years of wedded bliss (and setting foot in the long-elusive 5 th state in my U.S. travels – yeah, been to ’em all now), b) memorizing lines for The Woman in Black, c) rehearsing Woman in Black, or d) commuting back and forth between Chicago and Rockford, IL (where WIB was being performed at Artists’ Ensemble Theatre). As a result, I saw a grand total of five, count ’em, five films the entire month. Even so, I had plans to write up that quintet and get them posted....

Then May came along and I was still commuting back and forth doing the show on the weekends, but I also had free time to be, oh, WATCHING movies again and given the choice, I’d always rather be watching than scribbling. As a result, I let the month roll by, even as the last few days of it saw me traveling to Barcelona, Spain for another happy reunion with my Enlightened Warrior Training Camp family (and logging another four movies en route) and a glorious couple weeks of watching folks shatter their personal barriers and go to the next level of their lives.

But here we are, halfway through the month and on the eve of starting rehearsals for yet another show (The Hero’s Wife at 16th Street Theatre), and it occurred to me that unless I put fingers to keypad, another month would be in the rearview with naught to show for it. Considering the wealth of flickers that rolled by (including mini-fests of Steven Soderbergh and Kurt Russell), I thought it would be a shame not to try to get something on the boards. By no means do I consider this to be my finest hour of critical contemplation; instead, consider it a fella just jotting down a few notes and sharing them with friends – more the beginning of the conversation than the final word.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Fool's Views (3/1 – 3/31)

Greetings, my friends!

Well, March came and went and while I didn’t spend a ton of time consistently watching the flickers (trying to memorize lines for my next stage endeavor, a production of The Woman in Black out at Artists Ensemble), I apparently managed to put together enough short, controlled bursts of viewing to add up to a pretty decent tally. A day at the multiplex yielded some winners, among them the Jason Bateman vehicle Game Night, which prompted me to raid the Chicago Public Library’s stash to catch up on other flicks of his I had missed.

It was also funny to see two of this year’s “projects” – actor Richard Pryor and director Herbert Ross – had actually collaborated on 1978’s California Suite. Gotta love the two birds with one stone.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fool's Views (2/15 – 2/28)

Hey troops,

As I write this, the snow has returned to Chicago, which is appropriate for recounting the Views from the bountiful back half of February. (I have a feeling things are going to slow down a bit in the upcoming months, as I start rehearsals for a couple of new stage projects, but we shall see what we shall see.)

Dipped into a few more Richard Pryor flicks, as well as catching up with a couple of hot recent horror releases, with the Chicago Cinema Society and the Chicago Public Library to thank for the rest! May they forever remain funded and inspired.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Fool’s Views (2/1 – 2/14)

Howdy, folks!

Well, the first half of the shortest month of the year went by in a flash, with most of the flickage once again being supplied by our friends at the public library. Mighty pleased with the fare those good folks provide.

I’m thinking of starting a new feature where I tell why I chose to watch what I did, although sometimes I wonder if the explanation might not be longer than the review itself. For example, I picked up The Last of Sheila because it was mentioned by several people as their favorite Herbert Ross film when I mentioned the director in my recent post featuring The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. Seeing James Coburn in Sheila sparked interest in seeing more of the actor, resulting in What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?

While Silent Night Deadly Night 3 has been on my radar for years due to its more famous predecessors, I finally got to see it thanks to my Belgian blood brother Gert shipping it from a local VHS dealer to the Doc’s office and asking me to forward it on to him. Hara-kiri was prompted by a discussion with a fellow gym member who had seen a pile of Kurosawa flicks I was returning, and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome because, well, “Who run Bordertown?????”

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Fool's Views (1/16 – 1/31)

Greetings and Happy (Bloody) Valentines Day, kids!

Here’s the back half of January, which wasn’t nearly as madcap as the first, being that we had already knocked out all of the SAG nominees and were left to polish off the remaining unseen features from both Michael Haneke and Wes Anderson (strange bedfellows indeed), as well as revisiting a couple Corman quickies. We also got out to the cinema a couple more times, sharing an evening of conversation with Michael Shannon at DePaul University following a screening of Take Shelter hosted by the peerless Peter Steeves, as well as a midnight screening of the cautionary tale that is Wild Beasts (“This is your brain. This is your brain trampled by zoo animals hopped up on angel dust.”)

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Fool's Views (1/1 – 1/15)

Hello, friends! Hope everyone’s 2018 is going swimmingly thus far.

The Doc’s office has been open for business and thriving amidst all manner of moving images, even extending to a few visits to the multiplex for awards season, which covered the majority of the Views during the first half of January. (Yes, we actually saw enough movies to justify two entries for the month, as the Almighty always intended.)

So, grab your plate and head to the buffet line where you can choose from fare ranging from Lovecraft adaptations and Blumhouse prequels, Kurosawa flicks that didn’t find their way into the player last year, and a bevy of “prestige” films trading time with classic B-movie action fare. Something for everyone, which is just how we like it.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Monday, February 5, 2018

THE RESURRECTED (1991) Blu-ray review

The Resurrected (1991) d. Dan O'Bannon (USA)

Private investigator John March (John Terry) is hired by the mysterious and beautiful Claire (Jane Sibbert) to uncover what her wealthy scientist husband (Chris Sarandon) is up to with his strange experiments concerning reanimation and immortality. Widely acknowledged as one of the more faithful H.P. Lovecraft adaptations, this retelling of “The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward” (also the source material for the Vincent Price vehicle The Haunted Palace) balances an urbane “modern noir” sensibility, slippery and slimy practical effects that recall Empire-era Charles Band, and the author’s famous sense of the uncanny with predictably uneven results.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017) movie review

The Shape of Water (2017) d. del Toro, Guillermo (USA)

This “adult fairy tale” sees Sally Hawkins’ mute cleaning woman falling in love with an unworldly beast after it is captured in the Amazon and spirited away to a generic top-secret research facility, with scientist Michael Stuhlbarg and government thug Michael Shannon vying for proprietary rights. What follows is a Visually Stunning Effort, with all creative collaborators working overtime to deliver a heightened urban landscape of the early 1960s (we hear references to JFK, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement), and the inimitable Doug Jones (Hellboy) donning arguably the most elegant rubber monster suit to grace the silver screen.