Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fool's Views (12/12 – 12/18)

My friends,

It was a great week for movie watching, although the circumstances were less than ideal (monster head cold accompanied by a wicked 3-day migraine). As a result, I was pretty much immobilized and remaindered to the couch, but the Netflix and public library gods were there to comfort me with their celluloid balm. As you can see, my TV-remote fingers transported me across continents to experience a multitude of worthy foreign nightmares, as well as a dip into the De Palma Pool.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday weekend – may your gatherings of family and friends be rich and plentiful. The greatest gifts are still the ones that come for free/cheap: a friendly word, a warm embrace, a surprise phone call, a random act of kindness… I feel incredibly blessed to be allowed to live this life, surrounded by friends and fiends both corporeal and virtual. Thank you for sharing your time and comments with me over yet another blogging year – it’s a pleasure to know that someone’s actually out there reading these blithering and blithe missives.

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


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fool's Views (12/5 – 12/11)

Hey kids,

Huge week for movies as we head into the final stretch. This is when I start looking at the calendar and think to myself, “You know those movie projects you’ve been meaning to knock out before the end of the year? Yeah, need to get on that.” Of course, this is also just as Hollywood starts turning out its awards bait, and also when it occurs to me that I need to get in another Share the Scare or two before the end of the year… Bottom line, it means the Views start coming fast and furious - no rest for the wicked wickeds out there.

The good news is that I was able to further indulge in my Peter Jackson 2011 lovefest as well as making a sizable dent in Bob Clark’s filmography, as well as picking up three recent mainstream releases topped by a five-flick StS involving great friends, great chow and a variety of first time views seen in the company of fellow adventurous souls. Talking about you, David Schmidt, Adam Meredith, Sharon Gissy, Jason Coffman, Tery Gallagher, Dan Kiggins and Brian Kirst. Thanks for, well, Sharing the Scare – screaming is always better with company.

There’s plenty more to come, with an array of international horror on the horizon, so let’s get to the week that was. As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fool's Views (11/28 – 12-4)...with MORE Turkey!

Welcome back, peeps and peepettes,

As promised, following the spirit and excess of a certain Thanksgiving holiday, the feasting that began at Chateau de Kitley spilled into the next week as I continued to gobble the cinematic gobblers. Most of said beasties were provided courtesy of Netflix’s streaming service, although I was not above digging into my own private stash to round out the dishes. (In the spirit of full disclosure, IMDb’s Turkey Challenge earns an additional 5 points for “trifectas” featuring the same director or turkeys from a franchise, hence the comedy team of Uwe, Larry and Noriaki.) But, after the calendar page finally flipped, we also indulged in some “legit” horrors, all of which delivered the goods in their own individual fashion – not a stinker in the bunch…although according to some of my fellow blood brethren, that assessment might not be universal. Check ‘em out, see what you think.

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


Friday, December 2, 2011

Fool's Views (11/21 – 11/27)...with Turkey!

Hey there, freaky freaks,

Hope everyone had an amazing holiday. Sorry for the delay in serving up the goodies; I had my hands full with celluloid turkeys, (although I managed to take a few breaks from drowning in cinematic tryptophan to catch up with a certain Boy Wizard and some old school Muppet action). But mostly, it was all about the gobblers, and the eight consumed here - all but one consumed in the presence of the good Jon Kitley & Co. of KITLEY'S KRYPT fame - composed only the first course as you’ll see in next week’s installment.

Much like the October Challenge, the IMDb horror boards host their annual Turkey Challenge, where contestants are invited to indulge in as much of the lowest of the low as they can stand. The “winner” came away having viddied a whopping 142 films (all ranked 5.0 or lower on IMDb) over the course of November’s 30 days. I’ll let you do the math on that one, but suffice to say – that’s a lot of dreck. (I settled for a mere 15 and was more than full.) I’ve revived the Fool’s Views Haikus format for the occasion because hey, seriously critiquing Turkeys seems akin to counting calories on Thanksgiving – contrary to the point, yes?

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


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fool's View (11/14 – 11/20)

Yep, back again. Needed to get the table cleared before the assault that is the Revenge of the Gobblers aka "Turkey Day 2011" is upon us. (For a look at previous TD butterball gorgings, visit

Well, this week marked the re-emergence of Netflix into AC’s life, having put my subscription on hold during my time in West Virginia. Despite their recent public relations disasters, rising costs and plummeting stock, I’m still a huge fan of the purveyors of the Little Red Envelope and I thank them for making endless cinematic opportunities available to me for a fraction of their retail cost. Over half of the Views this time around are currently streaming on NF and without exception, all are recommended. And yes, we leaned a little heavier in the civilian quarter, but sometimes you just gotta wash the blood outa our eyes, right?

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


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fool's Views (11/7 – 11/13)

Greetings, my friends.

Sorry for the downtime, it’s been a weird time of finding my feet after the madness that was October. Honestly, it’s all a matter of building new habits, of reviewing as we go – you know, like we did last month. But then the morning gets away from me and then I’m more in the mood to watch a movie than to write about it… blah blah blah. Anyway, here we go.

This week in question was a wild and woolly one, composed almost entirely of brand spanking new releases – in fact, most of the films examined below are currently in theaters or are still seeking distribution! Even in the case of the two non-HorrorHound Weekend horror flicks with an earlier than 2010 time-stamp, Mandy Lane is still tied up in distribution hell and Rituals only found its way to legit silver disc status this year. So, color this edition of the Views the freshest we’ve ever unleashed on the unsuspecting hordes. Many thanks to Jason Hignite and Aaron Crowell over at HHW for curating such a terrific lineup for the Cincinnati faithful – it was the closest I’ve ever been to attending a film festival before, where of the seven titles consumed, I had never seen any of them and even more remarkably, had only tangentially heard of two! Most excellent.

So, without any further adieu…

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


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dig, You Sucker... (i dig your blog award)

Hey troops,

I'm already overdue to post the latest batch of Fool's Views (funny how I managed to post nearly every single day during the October Challenge, and now I'm back to my accustomed practice of dithering and dawdling).

I also owe you guys a recap from the awesomeness that was HorrorHound Weekend Cincinnati 2011. Yep, still working on that.

In spite of all this, my good online pal Jude Felton (aka The Lord of Filth) decides to lay this on me out of the blue:

Now, apparently there are some rules that go accepting this award. Luckily, they are the kind of rules I can totally live with.

1) Gratefully accept this award. (Done)
2) Link to the person you received it from. (Done)
3) Post 3 interesting facts about yourself. (Um, I'll try)
4) Pass this award around to at least 5 blogs you dig. (See below)
5) Notify said 5 bloggers (Done)


1. I was born in 1968, the same year as Night of the Living Dead, Planet of the Apes, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rosemary's Baby, Witchfinder General, and Destroy All Monsters. Is it any wonder I'm a horror fan?

2. I have visited every U.S. State except Alaska.

3. Everywhere you look in my house, there is either a monster, monkey or dinosaur represented in some way.


1. Kitley's Krypt - Not technically a blog, but since Jon provides an amazing weekly scroll of what's going on in his world of horror, complete with Mystery Photos, reviews of horror books, DVDs and soundtracks, lessons in horror history, and upcoming events, I'm willing to make an exception.

2. Krell Laboratories - You want smart film criticism? I mean, like, REALLY FREAKING SMART? Stop by the lab and prepare to have your mind blown and vocabulary expanded.

3. The Framing Business - Gavin Schmitt is a firebrand with a bear-like personality: big and cuddly one minute, tear you a new one the next. This mercurial nature keeps things lively. He's a horror fan with a big brain and a bigger heart (check out his Fight Fear with Fear fundraiser).

4. Video Junkie Strikes Back from Beyond the Grave Will Wilson and Thomas Simmons dish out some of the finest commentary on the lowliest of flicks, from Italian exploitation to the bargain basement big box bastards. Seriously, if you're looking to venture off the beaten track, this is the place to be.

5. A Stuffed Legless Duck Production Film reviews as smart and absurd as the title suggests, Craig J. Clark covers everything from the latest art films to the trashiest that cinema has to offer. He's a true cinephile, embracing the moving image in all its guises, and while his opinions are always his own, they never fail to entertain.

So, there you have it. Dive in deep, fellow fiends.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fool's Views (11/1 - 11/6)

Hello True Believers,

Well, the Challenge d’ Octobre that left 115 nightmares in the minds of the Foolish has faded into memory, but like any marathon runner, it’s best to keep walking for a bit in order to avoid cramping up. At least that’s what I told myself as I continued my viewing spree into the next week, consuming another 13 features before Sunday rolled around. However, the notable thing about the past week’s vidddying (aside from the fact that there were actually a couple civilian films back in the mix) was that all of them came from the shelves of fellow fiends as opposed to the hallowed halls of Chez AC, Netflix or even the public library. Nope, these were all straight from the school of “Dude, you need to watch this,” discs and tapes that had been sitting on my to-watch pile, some literally for years. So, high-fives to Joe Foust, Craig J. Clark, Rom Barkador and especially Jason Coffman for spreading the wealth and expanding the consciousness.

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


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Hello Boils and Ghouls,

With that, we come to the end of another October Challenge. I gotta say, this was by far the deepest dive I’ve taken into the abyss (115 films!!!) and I sincerely thank everyone out there for their support, encouragement and feedback throughout the past 31 days of blood, babes and beasts. I was particularly proud of the myriad of mini film-fests and double features I was able to conjure, living out my programming director fantasy for Channel AC. Hope you dug it as well.

For those of you who came on board as donors to the AmeriCares fundraising drive to aid the unfortunate victims of Hurricane Irene, you are the ones who kept my eyes open into the wee hours at night…after night after night. Bless you. Please contact me at to send in your corresponding pledge amount and let’s get these people some much-needed help. (A special word of thanks to Gavin Schmitt, whose own diligent fundraising efforts kept a persistent spur in my side – congrats to you, good sir.)

Below are the final statistics, as well as links to each day’s respective reviews. Hope you enjoy the walk back down memory lane, dark and dangerous as it might be. As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


First Time Views: 56
Repeats: 59
Total Films: 115

Total Amount raised for Americares: $1480

Monday, October 31, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/31


Vampyr (1932)
(2nd viewing) d. Dreyer, Carl Theodor (Germany) 74min
With Hollywood having discovered the vein of horror gold that was Dracula and Frankenstein the year before, pioneering German filmmaker Dreyer unveiled this remarkable tale of vampirism and the occult. Following young traveler Julian West, we arrive at a quiet village that has come under an attack from the undead and the strange adventure unfolds with the feel and tempo of a waking dream. Bold roving camerawork combine with exquisitely crafted visuals (a shadow that leaves its owner, a grave being dug in reverse, characters that materialize from thin air) make this a revelatory cinematic experience especially when held alongside its more traditional, narrative-bound Tinseltown counterparts.

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/29 – 10/30


Scre4m (aka Scream 4
) (2011) (1st viewing) d. Craven, Wes (USA) 111min
15 years have passed since screenwriter Kevin Williamson and Craven teamed up to revitalize the horror genre and spawned an entire subgenre of knockoff slashers, but what once was clever now feels quaint and more than a little artificially hip. Series stalwarts Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette are all back, with new blood Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Marley Shelton and Rory Culkin dropping like flies under Ghostface’s latest reign of terror in Woodsboro. While there are a few bright spots in Williamson’s dialogue (the stream of horror remake titles in response to a telephonic pop quiz had me smiling) and Craven still knows how to tell a screen story, there’s very little inspiration on display. (A franchise reboot commenting on franchise reboot? No thanks, guys.) I’d say it’s a dead heat between Scream 3 and this “was anyone really clamoring for another Scream movie” installment.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/27 – 10/28


Thing from Another World, The (1951)
(3rd viewing) d. Nyby, Christian (USA) 87min
Along with The Day the Earth Stood Still, this represented the first wave of extraterrestrial visitor movies and with producer Howard Hawks standing behind longtime editor Nyby’s rookie effort (closely behind, some might hasten to say), a classic of sci-fi cinema was born. A team of military and scientific minds gather at the North Pole when a UFO is discovered in the ice, as well as an encased alien lifeform. As 60 years of creature features have taught us, that ice is gonna melt and “things” are gonna go crazy. There’s little I can add that hasn’t been said before and better, but I will say that I was struck on this viewing of just how much information – both plotwise and character – is packed into Charles Lederer’s dialogue (with uncredited assistance by Ben Hecht). The rapid-fire exchanges maintain a fever-pitch, keeping the early expository scenes humming until James Arness’ monster action takes over. Great stuff.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/26


Alien vs. Predator (2004)
(2nd viewing) d. Anderson, Paul W.S. (USA) 100min
Considering that the title conjures up images of a Japanese monster mash, any expectations of an intelligent sci-fi classic are ill-advised. And while the film bears little resemblance to its classic origins, if one can manage to switch off the brain and enjoy the mashing, this is an adequate popcorn burner. The film begins with the discovery of an Aztec pyramid buried deep in the ice of Antarctica, with wacky billionaire Lance Henriksen (smirking at his own presence in yet another Alien film) leading a group of archeologists on an exploratory expedition. Upon their arrival (and through some very sketchy translating), the team discovers that two thousand years ago, the pyramid served as an Alien hive for the extra-terrestrial race of dreadlock-wearing Predators, who would enter and combat the Aliens as a rite of passage. As the cinematic fates would have it, it’s time for the next Predator class to start and soon there are spaceships landing, Aliens bursting out of chests, and the clash of the sci-fi titans is on with the humans caught in the middle. With passable CGI effects, minimal character development, and yawning logistical plot holes, AvP only succeeds as the big, dumb fun that it intends to be. Purist fans of the originals will probably be horrified, but after numerous inferior sequels, how high could expectations be? Ultimately, the level of enjoyment will depend on the viewer’s mindset and preconceived notions. Rated PG-13, even though all of its predecessors were R-rated films – oh, how the times are a-changin’…

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/24 - 10/25


Black Torment, The (1964)
(1st viewing) d. Hartford-Davis, Robert (UK) 90min
Striking Gothic visuals, stellar cinematography and a wingding of a climactic swordfight elevate this oft-neglected Brit horror. 17th-century aristocrat John Turner returns to his country estate from London with new bride Heather Sears, where he encounters hostility and accusations from his servants and associates. Amidst rumors of witchcraft and long-kept family skeletons, a spate of rapes and murders have befallen a number of local lasses…with all reports stating that the perpetrator is none other than Turner himself…in spite of the fact that he has been visibly out of the county. Fans of Hammer, Amicus and especially Tigon (Tony Tenser was one of the producers) should be pleased with the results derived by director Hartford-Davis, screenwriters Donald and Derek Ford, and a solid production team.

Monday, October 24, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/23


Jigoku (1960)
(1st viewing) d. Nakagawa, Nobuo (Japan) 101min
After timid fiancé Shigeru Amachi runs down a gangster with his car and flees the scene, he enters a downward spiral of bad luck, with everyone around him meeting with horrible accidental deaths. Eventually, he meets his own demise and in the Underworld the film gearshifts into a 40-minute fever-dream visuals extravaganza, complete with pits of fiery despair, rivers of excrement, fields of human limbs, and horned demons doling out crime-fitting punishments. Certainly not for all tastes, but unquestionably original and boldly experimental, even a half century later.

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/22


High Tension (2003)
(4th viewing) d. Aja, Alexandre (France) 91min
Frenchman Aja burst onto the horror scene with this, his second feature film, which absolutely delivers on its titular promise. The premise is almost quaint in its simplicity: Two schoolmate chums (Cecilie de France, Maiwenn) get together for a weekend of study and relaxation at the brunette’s parents’ country home, only to come under the assault of marauding serial killer Phillippe Nahon. But it is the mayhem’s expert execution – literally and figuratively – that announced a major talent in the making. Combining forces with partner/producer Gregory Levasseur (with whom he wrote the script) and a terrific team of collaborators (the sound design deserves special note, as does the copious black-streaked bloodshed provided by longtime Fulci collaborator Giannetto de Rossi), Aja delivers perhaps the strongest slasher flick of the new millennium…right up until the 1:17 mark. It is here that he and Levasseur introduce one of the most wildly divisive plot twists in recent memory, and it is defiantly a matter of personal taste whether it enhances or diminishes what has come before. I reside resolutely in the latter camp, though, as evidenced by my repeated viewings, it hasn’t deterred my appreciation for the incredible sense of mood, atmosphere and, yes, tension generated. In hindsight, my deepest regret is not Tension’s twist, but the fact that Aja has never since exhibited the same feverish bravura, seemingly content to helm Hollywood horror remakes. Case in point…

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/21


Deaths of Ian Stone, The (2007)
(1st viewing) d. Piana, Dario (UK) 87min
The third of After Dark Films’ Horrorfest 2007 that I’ve seen this month, and probably the most successful of the bunch. (Jim Mickle’s Mulberry St. still takes the title as pick of the litter, however.) Confused young stud Mike Vogel continues meeting mortal ends, then awakening in a brand new life as though nothing had happened. As time passes, we learn that he is pursued by dark spirits known as “harvesters” who have a vested interest in Vogel and his relationship with comely blonde Christina Cole. Well paced and shot by Piana, with a legitimately interesting and original script by Brendan Hood (whose previous writing credits include the execrable Wes Craven’s They). Produced by Stan Winston, and created under his SW Studios’ roof.

Friday, October 21, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/20


Night of the Demon
(2nd viewing) d. Wasson, James C. (USA) 92min
Oh. My. God. This is one amazingly bad, amazingly bloody, amazingly twisted, amazingly brilliant little pic that even on the second go-round, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. From the opening credits where a guy’s arm gets ripped off and a Bigfoot track fills up with blood, James C. Wasson’s trashy, flashback-filled hoot has low-budget charm to burn. Um, dual girl scout massacre? Inter-species rape? Biker stops to take a leak and gets his Johnson pulled off? Yes, yes, and YES!!! Plus, it contains one of the great onscreen sleeping bag kills, awesome red-tinged “Bigfoot vision” and the finale is a jaw-dropping slo-mo masterpiece of high impact, low grade gore f/x mayhem, and how about the crazy van lovin' gal with the scary boob job? Her proooooloooooonged screams of terror are the least convincing in the history of cinema outside of DePalma’s Blow Out. Only there, the cries are supposed to be unconvincing. Wow. For fans of tasty grilled turkey and cheese, this is a must-see.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/19


My Mom’s a Werewolf (1989)
(1st viewing) d. Fischa, Michael (USA) 90min
Frustrated wife/mother Susan Blakely gets nibbled on by dashing mystery man John Saxon and soon she’s sprouting fur and fangs in most inappropriate fashion. No way this dumb-dumb 80s comedy should have been this entertaining, but it breezily sails along thanks to the oh-so-very-game performances of Blakely and Saxon (the hand-licking scene alone, folks). John Schuck, Tina Caspary, Ruth Buzzi and Marcia Wallace all lend able support. No classic, perhaps, but surprisingly funny and good-natured, especially for fans of that decade’s particular brand of goofball laffs.

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/18


Killer Tongue (1996)
(2nd viewing) d. Sciamma, Alberto (Spain) 98min
Bank robbin’ lovers Jason Durr and Melinda (Return of the Living Dead III) Clarke pull a double cross on their partners, only to have all kinds of unholy and extraterrestrial karma come back and bite them…literally. While Durr sits out his prison sentence, Clarke and her color-coordinated poodles have a close encounter with a bit of space droppings (via a bowl of soup, no less) that transforms the pooches into a quartet of flamboyant drag queens and her tongue into a weapon of mass destruction. Courtesy of Image Animation’s worthy f/x, the titular premise lives up to its promise, with la lengua loca ramming, ripping and rending everything within reach – and considering its elastic properties, that’s covering some ground. Robert Englund devours the scenery as a tight-assed prison captain, while Doug Bradley (credited as “Dough Bradley”) lends able support as Durr’s fellow inmate. Alternatively deliriously madcap and batshit bonkers, this under-the-radar gem deserves some attention, in particular by fans of Clarke (who spends the majority of the film in a skintight black latex bodysuit).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/17


Live Feed (2006)
(1st viewing) d. Nicholson, Ryan (USA) 81min
Nicholson toiled for years as a Hollywood makeup special effects artist before striking out on his own, and so it’s no mistake that the highlights of his films tend to be the wetter moments. And while his DIY spirit is laudable, the sheer unpleasantness of his characters (see Gutterballs for further evidence) makes the rest of the jagged SOV production values that much tougher to sit through. When a quintet of self-centered bar-hopping “Ugly American” tourists in China find themselves as the main feature in a closed circuit snuff film within a house of ill-repute, one would hope that we might root for them to survive…just a little? But when the victims are just as repellent as the torturing sadists, all we can do is sit back and take what pleasure we can from the bloodletting, which is likely Nicholson’s nihilistic intent. Tons of sex, nudity and gore are plusses for any hardcore horror fan, but minus any sense of context or relatability, it all feels empty and vacant. Co-written by Nicholson with brother Roy.



Nightmare on Elm Street, A (1984)
(5th viewing) d. Craven, Wes (USA) 91min
Horror Hall-of Famer Wes Craven created this hugely successful fright flick, which spawned multiple sequels, launched New Line Cinema, and introduced the moniker of “Freddy Krueger” into pop culture consciousness. Attractive (if acting-talent-challenged) Heather Langenkamp plays a teenager plagued by dreams of a horribly scarred figure wearing a distinctive red-striped sweater, battered fedora, and a glove with knives attached to the fingers. Robert Englund, in the role he would forever be identified with, creates an original and frightening villain in Freddy, an executed child-murdering psychopath who has found the means to keep up his gruesome work by entering his prospective victim’s dreams. Not yet the wisecrack-spouting centerpiece of future installments, Englund’s minimal appearances pack a darkly effective punch. As Langenkamp and company (including Johnny Depp, in his feature film debut) struggle to stay awake, Krueger’s sinister history is gradually revealed, along with the small town’s dark and horrifying secret. There is certainly much to applaud in the film’s fiercely innovative concept, nightmare imagery, and gory special effects; but the line between Craven’s real world and dream counterpart becomes so blurred in the end, there is no logic remaining except dream logic. Consequently, it often feels like the viewer is being cheated of a legitimate story for the sake of some “really cool kills,” (many of which are admittedly memorable, particularly one in which a character is swallowed and regurgitated by their own bed). This aspect, along with stiff performances and a really weak ending, lands Nightmare on a slightly lower rung than other modern horror classics.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/14


Nature of the Beast (1995)
(1st viewing) d. Salva, Victor (USA) 91min
Salva, who would later direct the Jeepers Creepers pictures, makes an impressive showing with this genuinely thrilling thriller that pits the wits of traveling salesman Lance Henriksen against Eric Roberts’ cool calculating psychopath. Conjuring shades of The Hitcher (and anyone who’s seen the opening 30 minutes of the first JC flick knows that the writer/director knows his way around a suspenseful automotive sequence), this two-hander continues to crank the tension right up until its sterling climax. The final (and grin-inducing) twist is but the topping on the cake.

Friday, October 14, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/13


Corpses (2004)
(1st viewing) d. Kanefsky, Rolfe (USA) 90min
Star Tiffany Shepis and writer/director Kanefsky teamed up again after banging out The Hazing earlier the same year for this quickie undead comedy. Zombies recruited by ill-tempered funeral home owner Robert Donavan to rob jewelry store. Headliner Jeff Fahey stars as a police captain dealing with the complications of rebellious daughter Shepis and Donavan’s hot-pants ex-wife (Melinda Bonini). Kanefsky’s tried-and-true formula of blood and boobs is in full flower here, and really, if you’re not up for that and some mindless yuks and yucks, keep on moving down the line.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/12


Lunacy (2005)
(1st viewing) d. Svankmajer, Jan (Czechoslovakia) 118min
Animated sequences featuring renegade disembodied beef tongues, entrails, and other fleshy bits running amok trade turns with live action scenes of Marquis de Sade (an unhinged Jan Triska) tormenting grieving mourner/asylum incident Pavel Liska. The haunting and repetitious calliope refrain keeps the mood light in the face of such transgressions, the final result feels inspired if a little disconnected. But then again, considering the subject matter, who’s going to complain?

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/11


Undertaker and His Pals, The (1966)
(1st viewing) d. Swicegood, T.L.P. (USA) 63min
Taking a page from H.G. Lewis’ Blood Feast, writer/director Swicegood dishes up a juicy black-and-blood-red comedy featuring a trio of mysterious motorcycle thugs who choose their random murder victims from the phone book. After the deaths, friendly undertaker Ray Dannis extorts the grieving mourners with exorbitant burial fees whilst two café owners serve up daily specials, such as “leg of Lamb” after dear Sally Lamb meets her untimely end or “breast of chicken” following Ms. Poultry’s demise. Lots of pretty girls meeting their demise at the hands and knives of the three hard working stiffs, although even for a comedy, things get a little grotesque at times (such as the gore-strewn lovely whipped to death with a chain to the face). Even so, there’s little doubt about the harmless intent of Swicegood and his pals and a valuable lesson is learned via this cozy 63-minute fable: There’s no honor among thieves – or psychopaths.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/10


Halloween (1978)
(11th viewing) d. Carpenter, John (USA) 91min
From its shocking opening reveal to jaw-dropping climax, this low-budget masterpiece instantly announced itself as a modern day horror classic, shattering box-office records and inspiring the modern-day slasher genre. Nearly twenty years after Psycho terrified viewers out of their showers, director John Carpenter and producer Debra Hill co-wrote the brilliantly minimalist script of an escaped lunatic terrorizing the small Illinois township of Haddonfield. Trick-or-treating would never be the same. Donald Pleasance shines as frantic psychiatrist Sam Loomis, the only one who comprehends the extent of the evil that has been unleashed. Jamie Lee Curtis (in her film debut) provides the film’s emotional center as a bookish babysitter who, alongside fun-loving friends Nancy Loomis and P. J. Soles, unwittingly becomes the target of the masked boogeyman. Like Spielberg’s giant shark, Halloween’s unstoppable antagonist reaches near-mythic status, pursuing his prey with placid yet ferocious determination. Carpenter’s repetitive synthesizer and piano score heightens the tension, then shatters it with chilling efficiency time and again. In addition to inspiring a throng of “holiday-themed” horror offerings, the indie blockbuster spawned its own inevitable sequels (seven, plus Rob Zombie’s regrettable remakes), which contain nary a fraction of the original’s enduringly effective impact between them.

Monday, October 10, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/9


Hole, The (2001)
(1st viewing) d. Hamm, Nick (UK) 102min
Set in an exclusive UK boarding school, where Thora Birch pines for the attentions of an American exchange student (Wrong Turn’s Desmond Harrington). Four classmates (including a young Keira Knightley) go for an outing in a small bunker where they are abandoned and locked in by a classmate. What follows is a series of Rashomon-like versions of what transpires over the next week as hunger, dehydration and desperation set in. Reasonably suspenseful and well-acted, despite a twist ending that becomes fairly evident early on.

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/8


It’s Alive (1974)
(3rd viewing) Cohen, Larry (USA) 91min

It Lives Again (1978) (2nd viewing) d. Cohen, Larry (USA) 91min

It’s Alive 3: Island of the Alive (1987) (2nd viewing) d. Cohen, Larry (USA) 95min

Q (1982) (2nd viewing) d. Cohen, Larry (USA) 93min

“There’s only one thing wrong with the Davis baby…”

Saturday, October 8, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/7


Species (1995)
(2nd viewing) d. Donaldson, Roger (USA) 108min
The recollections from my initial theatrical encounter held true: Natasha Henstridge looks great in the buff and Steve Johnson’s makeup f/x are enjoyable indeed, but they hardly compensate for the sheer boneheadedness of writer Dennis Feldman’s facepalm plotting and lack of characterization. (H.R. Giger’s creature design, on the other hand, ends up looking disappointingly like an early draft of his Alien work.) Despite a capable cast (Michael Madsen, Ben Kingsley, Marg Helgenbarger, Alfred Molina, Forrest Whitaker) assembled to track down Henstridge’s randy alien/human hybrid “Sil” loose in L.A., each is given a limited number of notes to play – they are “types” rather than people. Whitaker’s unbearably melodramatic “empath” comes off worst, a combo psychic/expository device there to tell the group, “She went that way,” or “She’s angry,” or “She’s looking to breed.” (It works great as a drinking game, less so as a narrative device.) The early scenes, featuring Michelle Williams as the young Sil, succeed best, before the unrepentantly stupid dialogue and poorly thought out plotlines require so much suspension of disbelief you could sprain something.

Friday, October 7, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/6


Perfect Creature (2006)
(1st viewing) d. Standring, Glenn (New Zealand) 88min
There are days when I wish Dougray Scott had ended up playing Wolverine in the X-Men movies, if only so we could have seen what his career might have been instead of seeing him mope around in non-starters like this. To be fair, it’s a mature “vampire crime drama,” one with a lot of style and decent acting, but for crying out loud, does that also mean it has to bore me to undeath? The plotline about genetic engineering creating vampires (dubbed “the Brotherhood”) who work in tandem with mankind, being the benevolent superheroes that they could be, is an interesting one – as is the notion of one of the bloodsuckers going rogue and looking to dominate the weaker species via a rampant plague introduced into society. But everything is done with such solemnity, such joylessness, that the coulda-been cracking adventure yarn of good vamp Scott tracking down his rebellious bro (the Klaus Kinski-looking Leo Gregory) instead lurches and slogs its way through 88 minutes that feel like a whole lot longer.

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/5


Freeway Killer (2010)
(1st viewing) d. Murlowski, John (USA) 85min
Biopic on titular serial killer William Bonin who, after murdering numerous young men in late 70s/early 80s SoCal, became the first person to be executed by lethal injection. The film succeeds largely thanks to a genuinely unnerving lead turn by Scott Anthony Leet, who plays Bonin as a social misfit, charismatic without being charming (though a little “Hollywood crazy” at times). While the performances tend to be a little rough and/or mannered, but it’s the awkward, unschooled nature of things that hits closest to the bone. It’s clear that they’d like to emulate Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (even to the point of securing Michael Rooker for a cameo), but it’s closer in tone to that film’s less-realistic, more movie-like sequel. The main narrative focuses on Bonin’s schooling of young recruit Cole Williams in his murderous ways, then forced to choose between his new protégé and old partner Dusty Sorg. Eileen Dietz shows up as Bill’s mom, talking about her “demons.” (Cute, guys.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/4


Battle Royale (2000)
(3rd viewing) d. Fukasaku, Kinji (Japan) 122min
Due to its taboo subject matter (organized competition featuring kids killing kids killing kids), it’s unlikely we’ll see a legit North American release of Fukasaku’s astounding futuristic vision anytime soon. Too bad, as this stellar thriller is a superb arterial spray flick as well as a haunting social satire. A random class of 15-year-olds are chosen to battle each other to the death on an island fortress, armed with an assortment of weapons ranging from AK-47’s to crossbows to tazers to pot lids, forming alliances and magnifying adolescent rivalries to their natural, lethal conclusions. A winner from start to finish.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/3


Borderland (2007) (1st viewing) d. Berman, Zev (Mexico) 105min
After kicking off with a gruesome torture sequence, flick settles into its central narrative of three fun-seeking males down in Mexico looking for some way-down-Southern hospitality. Which they do, if hanging with human-sacrificing Nganga cults is what you call a good time. Sean Astin as a freaky, woman-hating cult member is an interesting change of pace for all the Frodo/Sam lovers out there. The Achilles tendon continues to be the frontrunning onscreen point of pain, with Cabin Fever’s Rider Strong on the receiving end this time around. Satisfyingly brutal and splattery KNB finale.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/2


Host, The (2006)
(2nd viewing) d. Bong, Joon-ho South Korea 119min
When an arrogant US scientist/bureaucrat orders his Korean counterpart to dump gallons of chemicals down the drain – and into the Han River – merely because the bottles are dusty, the results are one of the best giant monster movies to come along in ages. The CGI creature, an ingenious mix of amphibious ooginess, hasn’t aged terribly well in this age of SyFy but it’s far from distracting. But the best news is that the “in-between-monster-attack” scenes, rather than a fine time to scoot out to the refreshment stand, are just as entertaining, thanks to a zippy script and the game cast. We’ve got social commentary to spare, and the dysfunctional family in Little Miss Sunshine has nothing on the Park brood, with its slacker father, spunky daughter, activist uncle, archery champ aunt and wise, weary patriarch, all of whom are given their due moments of failure and heroism. An unqualified triumph.

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/1


Silent Scream, The (1980) (2nd viewing) d. Harris, Denny (USA) 87min
The costume designer must have thought that putting everyone, especially the boys, in tight pants was a good idea. Great atmosphere and score, a good classic well-made indie flick. Barbara Steele totally steals the show with her wordless second-act performance. Rebecca Balding is c-u-t-e, and the way to her heart is via a bunch of soft, slow kisses. Good cinematography prowling around the seaside mansion where the college co-eds are rooming. Totally underrated flick, with solid pacing, and interesting (if sometimes clichéd) characters.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fool's Views (9/19 – 9/30)

Hey kids,

Well, in preparation for the upcoming 31 days of madness known as the October Horror Movie Challenge (and the accompanying Scare-A-Thon 2011), it was Civilian Central, courtesy of the Lewisburg Public Library. Managed to catch up with a few flicks that had yet to pass my hand, several of which because I wasn’t really inclined to actually shell out money for them. But in this case, it was the equivalent of borrowing them from a friend, and I thank LPL for the loan.

These will be quickies, as the month of darkness is already upon us, and I must needs return to my labors…

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


Naught. But I think we’ll be okay, he smiled knowingly…

Alfie (1966)
(1st viewing) d. Gilbert, Lewis
With last week’s Michael Caine double feature, my interest was piqued to finally check out his breakthrough role as a right perfect bastard whose a charmer in spite of his self-serving ways and overt chauvinism. As expected, the Caine charm makes this odious creature bearable, and a lesson is learned indeed.

Black Dahlia, The (2006) (1st viewing) d. De Palma, Brian
Wow, there are De Palma flicks that are masterpieces, there are exercises in style…and then there are ones that feel like he directed in his sleep. Seriously, this noir should have been much more, and what the hell accent is Hillary Swank trying out anyway? Just a dull bummer.

Contagion (2011) (1st viewing) d. Soderbergh, Steven
A solid, well-executed what-if scenario that sees a hyper-contagious plague sweep over the U.S., and skillfully depicting an all-too-believable outcome on numerous fronts. However, if I had a complaint, it would be that Soderbergh serves our intellect and imagination but never engages our hearts.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The (2005) (1st viewing) d. Jennings, Garth
Funny and manic adaptation of Douglas Adams’ brilliantly absurdist novel with Sam Rockwell headlining as two-headed nutjob President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox, but it’s Martin Freeman (aka He Who Would Be Bilbo) as Arthur Dent that holds it all together, the straight man amidst the dolphins, sperm whales and manically depressed robots.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) (1st viewing) d. Zwick, Joel
Okay, really? Someone explain this one to me, because while it’s a serviceable enough comedy, it’s completely clichéd with its laughs “earned” from ethnic stereotypes. Not sure why it became such a superhit, although it does seem that America’s love affair with writer/star Nia Vardolos has ended as quickly as it began.

Transsiberian (2008) (1st viewing) d. Anderson, Brad
Not-bad thriller following an American couple returning from philanthropic mission on the Transsiberian express, only to get involved with drug running tourists on the run from Russian hardass Ben Kingsley. (For the other Anderson fans out there, it’s no Session 9, Next Stop Wonderland or The Machinist, but at least it’s no Vanishing on 7th Street either.) I will say, though, it’s hard to work up sympathy for a protagonist who refuses to admit to committing a crime when the cost seems so very minimal (and the expense for lying so clearly dear).

Tristam Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story (2006) (1st viewing) d. Winterbottom, Michael
Discovered Mr. Steve Coogan earlier this year in Hamlet 2, so I’ve been curious to see more of his particular brand of comedy. This wildly self-referential piece has Coogan playing himself playing the titular character in a troubled production of the titular “unfilmable” novel, and there are some solid laughs earned, as well as a few softballs. Fun to see Naomi Harris (28 Days Later’s Selena) and Kelly MacDonald (No Country for Old Men) getting work.

Without Limits (1998) (1st viewing) d. Towne, Robert
Long distance runner Steve Prefontaine apparently was a huge superstar in his late 60s/early 70s heyday, though I do have to wonder exactly why, based on the story depicted here. Clearly the man was a great natural talent, but he doesn’t seem to have been a very interesting person, inspiring presence, or devastating athlete, which doesn’t make for a great film subject.

Rambo III (1988
) (2nd viewing) d. MacDonald, Kevin
Revisited it to see if it was as silly and unmemorable as it first seemed when I saw it in the cinema. Yep, it is. The cornball dialogue and hambone politics ring even falser nowadays, and Stallone’s sculpted body and huge hairsprayed mullet are more freakish than imposing.

Run Silent, Run Deep (1958) (2nd viewing) d. Wise, Robert
Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster are superbly matched in this terrifically engaging yarn about a U.S. sub in enemy waters, testing their crew’s mettle and faith. Marvelous stuff.

Tigerland (2001) (1st viewing) d. Schumacher, Joel
It’s a bit unfortunate that this film has been reduced to “Colin Farrell’s breakout film,” since it’s a pretty worthwhile basic training drama in its own right, one that is much less slick and polished than we’re used to seeing from Schumacher.

Bone Collector, The (2000)
(2nd viewing) d. Noyce, Philip
Manchurian Candidate, The (2004) (1st viewing) d. Demme, Jonathan
Siege, The (1998) (1st viewing) d. Zwick, Edward
What’s nice about the big D is that while he does tend to play fairly close to the middle in terms of his onscreen personality, he also stretches and twitches his stock-in-trade edgy nobility. Cases in point, his acceptance of a role where he spends almost the entirety of Bone Collector lying in a hospital bed as a quadriplegic forensics wiz guiding young patrolwoman Angelina Jolie (back when she was still an actress and less a movie star) along the path of a serial killer. And his turn in the remake of Manchurian Candidate is probably the biggest surprise for fans as his character is almost never on steady ground, as close to a “weak” character as I’ve ever seen him play. The movie itself is not the heresy that it might have first seemed upon announcement, a polished but still serviceable political thriller. Watching Siege in a post-9/11 setting is a very strange experience, as it almost seems to foretell the terrorist attacks, the Anti-Arab sentiments struggled with, the shell-shocked NYC population and anger against a government more intent on sending a message to the attackers than tending to its own. As could be expected, the resolution is far too simple, far too Hollywood, far too falsely satisfying, but for its first act, it dares to ask questions that probably should have been asked when the film first non-opened in 1998.

2011 totals to date: 385 films, 242 1st time views, 170 horror, 32 cinema

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SCARE -A-THON 2011 - A Benefit for U.S. Flood and Tornado Victims

Howdy folks,

As some of you might be aware, for the past few years I have engaged in an annual tradition called the October Horror Movie Challenge. (Last year was my highest mark yet, with 82 films viewed.) However, last year I decided to also turn my month-long celebration of silver screen screams into a benefit for those in need, dubbed SCARE-A-THON 2010. Thanks to the generosity of folks like yourself, we managed to raise over $1,500 for Season of Concern, a Chicago-based organization that provides direct-care support for people living with HIV and AIDS. ( This year, I will again be diving headlong into the horror pool, and again, I am requesting your help and support.

2011 has been an incredibly devastating year for many here in the U.S., with epic storms and tornadoes destroying lives and homes in unprecedented numbers. AMERICARES has set up a task force dedicated to getting funds and help to those in need, and it is to those unfortunate families that I will be dedicating my efforts. My lovely femalien's father worked closely with AmeriCares for many years - this is an organization for whom 98% of all donations go directly to helping victims in need. (For more info, visit

Here's the plan: For every fright flick I watch, I am asking folks to donate one nickel. Yes, a mere five cents per scream. My goal is to watch somewhere between 80 and 100 films next month, which means that you would only be asked to contribute a total of $4 to $5 – less than your average fast food lunch. Of course, you are welcome to make a lower (or higher) per-movie pledge, or even make a straightforward donation of whatever amount you deem viable. Every little bit helps and many hands make for light work. Together, we can make a big difference for someone out there who needs our help.

I will be documenting my progress here on the Dr. AC blog during the month of October. No need to send any money now, but if you are interested in participating, please drop me a line at A) to let me know and B) how much per movie you would like to pledge. You can sign up as a sponsor any time between now and October 31. On Nov. 1, I will send out an email, letting you know how many movies were viewed, the corresponding amount of your donation, and how much total money was raised. (All individual donation amounts will be kept confidential.) If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Many thanks in advance, my friends. Happy Halloween!!!


PS If you are conducting a SCARE-A-THON of your own or are already planning to contribute to someone else who is, consider yourself relieved of any obligation. Horror kids RULE.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fool's Views (9/12 – 9/18)

Back again so soon?

Well, as I said, I haven’t really been away, just preoccupied. With the October Horror Movie Challenge right around the corner (more on that in the next day or so) and the Greenbrier Valley Public Library opening its treasure troves to me, it was time to lean a little heavier on the civilian sector, especially since I wouldn’t be seeing its like again until November. However, fear not, true believers, because due to the unfailing dedication of the Kryptic Army and its followers, there were still fright flicks to be had...though it must be admitted, frightening they were not. (If you still have yet to indulge in the monthly pleasures that the Army has to offer, visit today!)

Got a little romance, a little espionage, a little action, and a double dose of having-a-moment Ryan Gosling…and not even in double feature fashion. AND ALL FIRST TIME VIEWS!

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


Beast with a Million Eyes, The (1955)
(1st viewing) d. Kramarsky, David
Anyone hoping for a big rubber, mega-eyeballed monster is going to be sadly disappointed, as the “million eyes” belong to the beasts of the field and birds of the air, possessed by an extraterrestrial force to spy on humanity while it lays its plans for world domination. Despite this plot device, it’d be a bit of a stretch to say that Hitchcock borrowed the narrative, since the majority of the time is taken up with the five human characters squabbling amongst one another. Our final reel monster ends up being a creepy hand puppet with an eyeball double exposed over it for no real good reason (except to conceal the fact that it’s, oh, a hand puppet).

Evil Brain from Outer Space (1965) (1st viewing) d. Akasaka/Ishii/Misuwa
Very cheesy Japanese kiddie flick featuring a superhero in tights (Super…, er, Starman) battling against intergalactic interlopers bent on – what else? – world domination. The low-grade special effects do evoke a certain degree of nostalgia (characters leap from place to place via silly jump cuts), as do the elaborately costumed, if still distinctly humanoid, monsters. It’s kind of like a kaiju movie minus any giant monsters...which on second thought doesn’t sound all that great, does it?

Futurama: Beast with a Billion Backs (2008) (1st viewing) d. Avanzino, Peter
Having not seen any episodes of the Futurama TV show, I wasn’t aware of any backstory with any of the characters, but Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s specific brand of animated humor is present in spades. Snarky retorts fly, relationships blossom and characters die (and revive) with much speed and alacrity. The titular “Beast” is a tentacled blob creature, a randy little beast that stretches out its multitude of members, thereby achieving both mind control and sexual contact by plugging into the backs of the necks of Earth’s population. The amusing subplot concerning a malcontent robot looking to dominate his mortal creators only sweetens the deal.

Skeleton Crew (2009) (1st viewing) d. Lepola, Tommi/Molin, Tero
The tired old device of a independent film crew making a horror film only to find themselves in the middle of a horror film is trotted out yet again…with precious little new brought to the table. In a dilapidated Finnish mental hospital, the ghosts of psychotics past share company with old snuff film footage shot by a mad doctor known as “The Auteur.” Wouldn’t you know it, the young modern director becomes possessed by the evil spirits and starts picking off his crew one by one in “creative” fashion, spouting punchlines as he goes. Not terrible, but not terribly good either.

Drive (2011)
(1st viewing) d. Refn, Nicolas Winding
Confronting and confounding expectations at every turn, what could have been a cliché-riddled story about a criminal loner falling for a pretty girl becomes something wholly original. Ryan Gosling continues to stretch as an actor, dialing down his emotional reactions here to a near-whisper, and the rest of the cast is ready to play. Amazing soundtrack, surprisingly graphic bloodshed and wickedly unconventional action sequences are the tools in Refn’s case, winning him the Best Director award at Cannes.

Interpreter, The (2005) (1st viewing) d. Pollack, Sidney
Cagey political thriller starring the oh-so-fragile Nicole Kidman (seriously, where’s the scrappy chick from Dead Calm? Is she completely lost to us?) as a U.N. interpreter who may or may not have overheard an assassination plot. The oh-so-serious Sean Penn is the fed assigned to investigate and protect her. Well done, but not particularly stirring.

Jackie Chan's First Strike (1996) (1st viewing) d. Tong, Stanley
While heavier on the comedy and vehicle-based action sequences than his usual frenzied gymnastic balletics, Chan fans should still enjoy the hijinks of his bumbling but capable Police Story character chasing down a pair of hot potato nuclear detonators. Only one truly amazing fight sequence, but it’s a doozy.

Vantage Point (2008) (1st viewing) d. Travis, Pete
Utilizing a novel sliding timeline approach, as seen through the eyes of several different witnesses, an assassination plot is dissected and literally exploded over and over. Solid cast (Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Eduardo Noriega, William Hurt) and practical, long-take car chases elevate the proceedings substantially. Solid popcorn flick.

Notebook, The (2004)
(1st viewing) d. Cassavetes, Nick
Two very pretty and feisty young lovers from opposite sides of the tracks (Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams) laugh and scream and cry and break up and get back together. Flash forward 50 years and it’s the story that James Garner keeps telling his lady love Gena Rowlands in the hopes of bringing her back from the abyss. Deeply schmaltzy, but I can understand its appeal. Plus, the four leads are dynamite.

Savages, The (2007) (1st viewing) d. Jenkins, Tamara
When ill-tempered father Philip Bosco starts losing his grip (and writing on the wall with his feces), estranged son Philip Seymour Hoffman and daughter Laura Linney are called on to find a place for him, both to live and in their lives. Strangely mismarketed as a comedy (though there are numerous dark comic moments), this is a extremely well written and acted drama about disconnected people battling fate and biology.

Flawless (2007)
(1st viewing) d. Radford, Michael
Within her male-dominated diamond wholesaler corporation, Demi Moore finds herself intrigued by sly janitor Michael Caine’s proposition to make off with a thermos full of the precious stones. But she soon finds she’s in for much more than just a simple heist scheme. Clever plotting and solid turns by the ensemble make up for Moore’s wretched old age makeup during the bookend sequences.

Sleuth (2007) (1st viewing) d. Branagh, Kenneth
Sigh. The 1972 Laurence Olivier/Michael Caine original is one of my favorite films, and so it was with some reticence that I approached the remake, even with Caine returning to the fray to assay the “other” role opposite Jude Law. Unfortunately, thanks to Branagh’s in-your-face camera stylings and Harold Pinter’s ill-advised tweaking of Anthony Shaffer’s script, the whole thing loses its sense of delicious one-upsmanship devolving into an unpleasant and sour 90 minutes with two unpleasant and sour characters. Pass.

2011 totals to date: 369 films, 232 1st time views, 170 horror, 32 cinema

Jackie Chan movies: 6

Thriller – 4 episodes (Season 1)

Fool's Views (8/29 – 9/11)

Howdy, friends,

Got a little distracted over the past month, what with getting the show on its feet, getting myself into fighting shape, and finding the inspiration to sit myself down again in front of the computer at the end of the long day (as opposed to, say, the telly). Hence the delay in posting the Views, but Views there have been. Granted, there was also a goodly bunch of classic television consumed, but we managed not only to get to the cinema once or twice, as well as taking in a number of “been meaning to see that for a while now” flicks, and some bona-fide “research.”

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


Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)
(1st viewing) d. Nixey, Troy
The creepy 1973 made-for-television original, starring Kim Darby and Jim Hutton, apparently lodged in the mind of a young Guillermo del Toro and who can blame him? With pint-sized creatures living in the depths of an old mansion’s basement, this is the kind of bedtime story that haunts our childhood dreams and so it’s no surprise that when the Mexican monster kid decided to revive the tale (serving as both screenwriter and producer here), he would make his protagonist a little girl. While the screenplay itself is heavy on backstory and light on realistic human behavior (if ever there was a house the tenants should figure to get out of, it’s this one), the production design is incredibly handsome with worthy CG-rendered antagonists swarming over their victims. Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce aren’t required to do much as the blinkered parents, and the film never really earns its R-rating, but in the pantheon of recent remakes, it’s one of the better efforts.

Predator 2 (1990) (2nd viewing) d. Hopkins, Stephen
While the 1987 original was a crown jewel in the testosterone-fueled action heyday, the follow-up feels more like a straight-to-video blow-‘em-up extravaganza, with every urban decay cliché trotted out in the first 15 minutes (bad 80s lighting, drug lords, feisty cops, interfering feds, gang members with bandanas, big explosions, uzi gun battles, gratuitous female nudity) with the mandibled menace from beyond the stars dropped into the middle of it all. Danny Glover bellows, Gary Busey barks, and elegance is eschewed in favor of firepower. That said, it’s schlocky fun for fans, but whereas it took the Alien series four films to devolve, here it only took two.

Shrooms (2007) (1st viewing) d. Breathnach, Paddy
In spite of its so-so title, this Irish indie trifle starts off with a lot more potential than one might have guessed. Two young American couples head over to Shamrock country to meet up with a college friend and partake in some hallucinogenic fungi, with unforeseen results. Sadly, in spite of some impressive atmospherics and not-bad acting, the storyline fails to pull its disparate elements together (mentally deficient hillbillies, ancient curses, unreliable narrators), leaving us with a spectacularly unoriginal resolution that is as obvious as it is uninspired. That said, I’m definitely curious to see more of what Breathnach has to offer, as he seems to know his way around both a camera and a spooky story.

Zombieland (2009) (2nd viewing) d. Fleischer, Ruben
The success of this comic version of the zombie apocalypse illustrates just how thoroughly the cinematic undead gut munchers have permeated pop culture, since there no longer exists a need to explain how or why the plague has come – we just take it for granted and move on to the head shots. Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson make a terrific odd couple of survivalists, nicely paired with Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin as sisters bound for a SoCal amusement park. More action and mayhem than its elder Brit zom-com-rom brother Shaun of the Dead, though I personally prefer that film’s sly wit and geeky energy. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Breed Apart, A (1984)
(1st viewing) d. Mora, Philippe
This yarn about a Vietnam vet turned mountain recluse and self-appointed guardian of an endangered species of bald eagle is like a case study in not knowing how to control and/or use your actors wisely. For instance, you’ve got Rutger Hauer in his post-Blade Runner glory as the wackjob, but he’s such a bipolar head case that we never really get a bead on him. Powers Boothe is brought in as the heavy, hired to steal the eagle eggs, but he turns into Hauer’s buddy and passive rival for old maid Kathleen Turner’s affection. (Yes, Mora has Turner – in between Romancing the Stone and Crimes of Passion gigs – playing a love/sex-starved single mom. Puh-leeeeease.) Paul Wheeler’s script is riddled with clichés and the characters are so slimly drawn, that without the performers’ estimable presence, they would all blow away in the wind.

Hot Rock, The (1972)
(1st viewing) d. Yates, Peter
Perhaps it’s because of his million-dollar smile and sunny blonde hair, but I think most audiences think of Robert Redford as a heroic good guy, forgetting the myriad of S.O.B. roles the guy has assayed. Here he’s an ex-con recently released from prison who immediately finds himself planning a diamond heist with grinning brother-in-law George Segal. It’s no laugh riot, but an enjoyably light-hearted what-else-could-go-wrong affair, with wisecracks and safecracks galore.

Little Children (2006) (1st viewing) d. Field, Todd
An extremely well mounted adaptation of Tom Perrotta’s novel, with stay-at-home parents Patrick Wilson and Kate Winslet falling into an affair with each other against the backdrop of Jackie Earle Haley’s child molester character’s release from jail. Two things: 1) rarely has a film been so mismarketed (a poster of a smiling Winslet and Wilson like some generic rom-com??) and 2) that passenger seat car scene with Haley? Whoa. WHOA.


Romeo & Juliet (1968)
(2nd viewing) d. Zeffirelli, Franco

Romeo + Juliet (1996) (2nd viewing) d. Luhrman, Baz

Being that I was getting ready to start rehearsals for Shakespeare’s classic star-crossed lovers tale, it seemed like a good time to revisit the two major film versions and see what there was to see, especially since it had been 25 and 15 years since I had seen them, respectively. Zeffirelli’s period mounting is still an astounding achievement, well-deserving of its numerous Oscar nods. The performances by Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey still hum with genuine passion and purity of youth, their words and intentions clear as crystal from their first eye-opening encounter to the tearstained ending. Nary a wrong note is struck from the supporting cast either, and the adaptation is swift and direct as a blade. On the other hand, knowing the play a little better than I did when I initially saw it in '96, Luhrman’s extraordinary reimagining succeeds wildly as an adaptation-translation-concept (with due credit to co-screenwriter Craig Pearce as well). I still have a few quibbles with some of his liberties (such as the final scene with R&J in the church), but in the same breath I totally admire his audacity and strength of vision. Not wild about Paul Sorvino's wild accent as Capulet nor John Leguizamo's vocal posturing as Tybalt, but other than that, the performances are all strong across the board, with a pre-Titanic Leonardo di Caprio and post-My So-Called Life Clare Danes in the title roles. But Baz is definitely the star of the show.

2011 totals to date: 357 films, 220 1st time views, 166 horror, 31 cinema


Alfred Hitchcock Presents – 39 episodes (Season 1)
League of Gentlemen, The – 12 episodes (Series 1 and 2)