Monday, November 13, 2017

VERONICA (2017) movie review - Cinepocalypse 2017

Veronica (2017) d. Plaza, Paco (Spain) (1st viewing)

Our titular teen protagonist (Sandra Escacena) does not have what many would consider an easy life. Her father recently died in a tragic accident, her mother works all hours to keep a roof above their heads, and she is tasked with caring for her three younger siblings, everything from breakfast to homework to bedtime baths. One day, knowing that the rest of the class will be outside observing a solar eclipse, she and two friends sneak downstairs to the school’s basement to try to contact her passed-on papa via a Ouija board; predictably, things do not go as planned and dark spirits begin to slip into every darkened corner of Veronica’s life, threatening her and everyone close to her.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

CINEPOCALYSE Film Festival 2017 wrap-up!!!

It was never my intention to dive back into the movie watching fray with such gusto following the madness that was the October Horror Movie Challenge and Scare-A-Thon 2017. Not because I watched so many titles (the final total of 31 was the bare minimum; in years past, I’ve watched over 100), but because it was a jam-packed month what with First Folio’s The Man-Beast and doing full-length DVD/Blu-ray reviews at the same time that I was holding down my personal training practice. In short, it was a full plate, and I was looking forward to chilling out come November. But all that changed with an email from our very own Music Box Theatre, informing us that Cinepocalypse was upon us!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

SUSPIRIA (1977) movie review - Cinepocalypse 2017

Suspiria (1977) d. Argento, Dario (Italy) (4th viewing)

Considered by many to be Il Maestro’s masterwork, this fiercely original tale of an exclusive (and haunted) German ballet school exhibits more personal style and verve in its opening ten minutes than many directors demonstrate in a lifetime. The arrival of American dance student Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) coincides with a series of bizarre, violent deaths within the academy, and while the film’s coven-of-witches storyline is tenuous at best, Argento’s striking camerawork and audacious colored lighting more than compensate.

DEAD SHACK (2017) movie review - Cinepocalypse 2017

Dead Shack (2017) d. Ricq, Peter (Canada) (1st viewing)

An amusing diversion that mashes up a few well-worn tropes (cabin in the woods, psycho killer, cannibals, zombies) and assembles an amiable and game cast to play them out. In this case, it’s a single dad (Donavon Stinson) toting his boozy gal pal (Valerie Tian), his bratty teens (Lizzie Boys, Gabriel LaBelle), and their wallflower (Matthew Nelson-Mahood) friend out to the boonies for a little chilltime. Upon reaching their remote cabin location, they discover that their nearest neighbor is a hot cougar number (Lauren Holly) with a penchant for dressing up in skin-tight leather and luring the local frat bros back to her domicile to serve as the family meal.

Thursday, November 2, 2017


It is accomplished!!!

For those not in the know, The October Horror Movie Challenge, at least as I have come to know and honor it, was born on the IMDb Horror message boards over a decade ago. The original rules were relatively simple: Watch 31 horror films over the course of the month, 16 of which have to be first-time viewings. Of course, for those with a combination of spare time and an enthusiastic spirit of adventure, it also could be used as an excuse to bury oneself in the genre for 31 days, rediscovering old favorites and delving into the "why have I never watched that?" pile.

With my October plates filled to overflowing with onstage performances (one week left to First Folio's The Man-Beast), teaching self-defense workshops, and a full slate of personal training clients, I elected to return to the basics. 31 flickers were viddied from Oct 1 through 31, 16 of which had never passed before these wondering, wandering eyes before. As always, there were highs and lows (more of the former than the latter), and all in the service of our ultimate goal, to raise funds and awareness for a charitable organization. This year's recipients are the AMERICAN WOMEN'S SELF-DEFENSE ASSOCIATION and IMPACT CHICAGO, for whom we were able to raise a combined total of nearly $1800!

Thanks to everyone who participated, whether it be reading the reviews, pledging, watching alongside, or just stopping by to chat. Your support makes the long days and nights go by so much easier. I’ll be contacting donors directly via email, but if you are still interested in contributing, contact me at and we’ll get you to the right place.

Total Movies Watched: 31
Total First Time Views: 16
Scare-A-Thon Pledges/Donations: $1799.24


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

JASON X (2001) movie review

Jason X (2001) d. Isaac, James (USA) (3rd viewing) 93 min

While the concept (“Jason in Space”) smacks of utter desperation, this ended up being the most fun to be had at a Friday the 13th movie in ages. Granted, the loony plot asks its audience to check its brain at the door and just go along for the ride, but it’s a heck of a great ride, combining elements of The Terminator, Aliens, The Matrix and half a dozen other movies into a boffo bloody smorgasbord.

THE EYES OF MY MOTHER (2016) movie review

The Eyes of My Mother (2016) d. Pesce, Nicolas (USA) (2nd viewing) 76 min

In their secluded farmhouse, a mother (Diana Agostini), formerly a surgeon in Portugal, teaches her young daughter, Francisca (Olivia Bond), to understand anatomy and be unfazed by death. One afternoon, a visit from a mysterious gentleman named Charlie (Will Brill) shatters the family’s life, deeply traumatizing the young girl, but also awakening unique curiosities about the human condition and the skin it travels around in. As she grows into adulthood, while still clinging to her increasingly withdrawn father (Paul Nazak), Francisca’s (now played by the astonishing Kika Magalhaes) loneliness and emotionally stunted outlook on the world lead her to strive for connection in haunting, twisted, unspeakably disturbing ways.