Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Fool's Views (1/16 – 1/31)

Just... give me a second.

Wow. So far behind. But I’m here now!

I spent the latter half of January whittling through the stacks of DVDs and Blu-rays that had been covering my desk for months, especially with the Oscar-nominated fare off my plate, including hosting a little Angel-ic marathon as we crossed the halfway point. (And then, of course, I got preoccupied with doing non-movie stuff like getting my Box N Burn certification and so was spending less time on the couch or at the keyboard.) As a result, there were a lot of titles consumed and, considering the late hour, I’m going to keep the preamble short and the reviews shorter in order to get back to even keel. Hold on, folks. Here we go!

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



Bliss (2019) d. Begos, Joe (USA) (2nd viewing)


Killer Crocodile (1989) d. De Angelis, Fabrizio (Italy) (1st viewing)


Parasyte: Part 1 (2014) d. Yamazaki, Takashi (Japan) (1st viewing)

Parasyte: Part 2 (2015) d. Yamazaki, Takashi (Japan) (1st viewing)

During a December holiday party, with all the talk about Bong Joon Ho’s critically acclaimed film in the air, fellow outsider cinema fan Sean Sinitski recommended this epic screen adaptation of Hitoshi Iwaaki’s celebrated manga about a young man who finds his right hand possessed by an extraterrestrial entity, creating the set-up for the unlikeliest buddy movie you’re liable to come across. Shota Sometani does his best Bruce Campbell imitation in terms of wrestling for agency of his own limbs and there are enough nifty computer-generated monster and gore sequences to justify the nearly four-hour running time.

Two Evil Eyes (1990) d. Romero, George / Argento, Dario (Italy/USA) (2nd viewing)

I was surprised to learn that this ho-hum two-film anthology has come to be reappraised in recent years, since I still find it to be a wildly uninspired pair of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations from a couple of horror maestros already showing signs of being past their prime. Adrienne Barbeau is trying her best to recapture the Creepshow magic she discovered with Romero eight years prior to little avail, while Harvey Keitel seems out of his element working under Argento as a crazy-for-no-good-reason photographer with a penchant for torturing cats and killing spouses. Tom Savini has a couple of bright makeup moments, but for the most part, it’s a double dose of meh.

The Wax Mask (1997) d. Stivaletti, Sergio (Italy) (1st viewing)

Originally intended to be directed by Lucio Fulci prior to his demise, gore guru Stivaletti made his directing debut with this stylishly bonkers reboot of Mystery in the Wax Museum that ticks all the boxes. The Italian film scene was pretty much DOA at the time of release, so it never really got the attention it deserved. Well worth checking out! Available now from Severin Films. https://severin-films.com/shop/wax-mask-slip/


The Fly (1958) d. Neumann, Kurt (USA) (4th viewing)

The Fly (1986) d. Cronenberg, David (USA) (9th viewing)

Shout! Factory recently released a terrific, supplement-packed five-film box set containing the 1958 original and its two sequels, as well as Cronenberg’s celebrated remake and its less-than-celebrated sequel. I watched these two bona-fide classics back-to-back listening to the commentary tracks (the first featuring Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr, the second with Cronenberg), both of which offer a ton of insight even for those intimately familiar with the features. A must-have for any seasoned sci-fi/horror fan.



Dolemite Is My Name (2019) d. Brewer, Craig (USA) (1st viewing)

Entertaining biopic of cult movie star Rudy Ray Moore, featuring Eddie Murphy in fine form. Do I think the star deserved an Oscar nomination? Not really. Am I happy to see Rudy Ray Moore’s life and career getting a pop culture boost. You bet I do.

Gwendoline (1984) d. Jaeckin, Just (France (1st viewing)

From the director of the original Emmanuelle and Lady Chatterly’s Lover comes this pleasantly goofy adventure yarn/skin flick featuring MTV 80s hottie Tawny Kitaen. If you were hoping to see the future ex-Mrs. David Coverdale in the buff, you’re in luck, but she also proves herself to be a fine light comedienne opposite the brash and dashing Brent Huff. Favorable comparisons to Mike Hodges’ 1980 adaption of Flash Gordon abound, with its bold characterizations, droll sense of anarchy and physical comedy amid some fairly impressive production design. Available now from Severin Films and worth a look.

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum (2019) d. Stahelski, Chad (USA) (1st viewing)

Is it possible to have too many bullets and brawls? Maybe not, but this comes pretty close.


Anastasia (1997) d. Bluth, Don / Goldman, Gary (USA) (1st viewing)

Finding Dory (2016) d. Stanton, Andrew (USA) (1st viewing)

Inside Out (2015) d. Docter, Pete (USA) (1st viewing)

Moana (2016) d. Clements, Ron / Musker, John (USA) (1st viewing)

Sing (2016) d. Jennings, Garth (USA) (1st viewing)

I don’t know that it’s really necessary for me to go through all of these. I was in a “let’s catch up on some animated flicks” mood and enjoyed them all mightily.


Dumbo (1941) d. Sharpsteen, Ben (USA) (4th viewing)

The Jungle Book (1967) d. Reitherman, Wolfgang (USA) (4th viewing)

Peter Pan (1953) d. Luske, Hamilton / Geronimi, Clyde / Jacksom, Wilfred (USA) (3rd viewing)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) d. Hand, David (USA) (3rd viewing)

Inspired by the above exploration of more recent fare, and the news of Disney+ in the January air (yes, I’m a poet and I know it), I felt inclined to revisit my youth and revel in the unsubtle racism of the Magic Kingdom. (PP’s “What Makes the Red Man Red?” is particularly cringe-worthy in 2020.)


Angel (1984) d. O'Neil, Robert Vincent (USA) (1st viewing)

Avenging Angel (1985) d. O'Neil, Robert Vincent (USA) (1st viewing)

Angel III: The Final Chapter (1988) d. DeSimone, Tom (USA) (1st viewing)

Angel 4: Undercover (1994) d. Schenkman, Richard (USA) (1st viewing)

Hard to believe that I had never seen any of the classic exploitation series from the VHS heyday, although I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how competent the first film is in terms of presenting a realistic look at “life on the streets” while still delivering a solid thriller packed with quirky, enjoyable performances from Donna Wilkes, Cliff Gorman, Susan Tyrrell, Rory Calhoun, and Dick Shawn. The sequels get increasingly wacky, with steep drop-offs following each successive chapter, with little mind paid to continuity or tone, but that only enhances the enjoyment factor, especially when viewed back-to-back-to-back in a group setting. Thanks to Jason Coffman and Vinegar Syndrome for bringing the party to Chez AC!


The Ice Storm (1997) d. Lee, Ang (USA) (3rd viewing)

Stumbled across the Criterion release of Lee’s marvelously crafted ode to the early 1970s in suburban Connecticut while trolling the aisles of the Chicago Public Library during a chilly January weekend and it seemed just too fitting to pass up. The commentary track with Lee and producer/writer James Schamus is filled with insight and fun facts.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2016) d. Lee, Ang (USA) (1st viewing)

I wondered why Lee’s 2016 effort came and went from cinemas with little fanfare, but the mystery is quickly resolved upon viewing this deliberately ambiguous yarn of a squad of Iraqi veterans being feted during a rah-rah football halftime celebration. Designed to be an immersive technical experiment in 3D and enhanced frame rates, it offers little on the small screen minus the dazzling visuals to distract from the flatness of the performances and the script. It has me now wondering how Life of Pi holds up on home video….

2020 Totals to Date: 46 films, 34 first time views, 13 horror, 1 cinema

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