Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Duel to the Death

   If there's one thing I'm a sucker for, it's a good ninja movie. And while neither of the leads in this movie is a ninja himself, that doesn't mean there isn't plenty to go around in Duel to the Death. Easily harkening back to the early days of the Shaw Brothers, this HK actioner delivers wholesale, straight-faced, chop socky action by the pound- and it is glorious. The story is simple and straightforward (mostly) which is a relief. I enjoy these movies more when I can follow them- but let's be honest here, you didn't come for the story (which isn't bad). No, you came for the legions of motherfreakin' ninjas. Am I right or am I right?

Monday, January 30, 2017


   I'll see just about any movie with Kevin Bacon or Kiefer Sutherland in it. Together? Well, that's definitely going on my watchlist.  Why then, it took me so long to get around to Flatliners is well beyond me. Sutherland and Bacon are joined by Julia Roberts, Oliver Platt and William Baldwin all as med students who end up running an off-the-books experiment to see if there really is life after death. Now, I was personally hoping for a movie with a stronger science fiction inclination, but what I got instead was maybe even better. Director Joel Schumacher delivers a (then-)modern Gothic cautionary tale in vein of Frankenstein- only in reverse.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Carnage Park

   Carnage Park is probably one of the worst movies I've seen in a long while. It recklessly bounces back and forth between rip-off, homage, and pastiche so furiously that it's impossible to give a shit about anything that's going on. This is a 77 minute wankfest to the tune of Tarantino, Peckinpah, and Rob Zombie. And honestly? The only thing that carries it is the the strength of the actors. Everything else is god awful. The editing is mind-numbingly bad, the story is convoluted, the plot goes virtually nowhere, and the ending is horribly anti-climactic.

Welcome to the Punch

   James McAvoy and Mark Strong star in this UK crime thriller about personal vendettas, gun running, and a dangerous conspiracy. If you're like me, you just say "Say no more- I'm sold!" and you've already departed your sofa to go find a copy. However, if you're still reading you're probably not a fanboy of McAvoy and Strong- or at least, not as much as I am. Oddly enough though, it wasn't their names that spurred me to watch the movie when I first saw it. It was the reckless and ill-fitting comparison that some amateur keyboard critic made, likening this movie, to John Woo's Hard Boiled.

Screw that guy.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ouija: Origin of Evil

   When I first heard they were doing an Ouija horror movie, I knew it'd be dumb. It was- or so I heard. It was mercilessly panned by critics and audiences alike, a true sign of a bad movie. But, then, something odd happened. Universal Studios green lit a prequel, that would be directed by Mike Flanagan... the director of Oculus and Hush. Like, damn. Then, the movie came out and started getting some great reviews. Is the movie as good as they say it is? Offhand, I'd say hell yeah. Flanagan knows what he's doing, and even with sloppy seconds he turns it into something chilling.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


   There was a point in Arrival where I caught myself holding my breath. Something that I rarely do while watching movies unless it's a horror movie. It's the anticipation, you see. In Arrival, it was as we were getting our first glimpse of the aliens. It's such a thunderous and powerful moment, but not in the same way that Hollywood has been doing lately- or really, ever, for that matter. I'm hard pressed to recall more than a few movies about extraterrestrials that don't end with a patriotic display of heroism involving a ton of explosions and one liners. Arrival is one that doesn't.


   It's almost a year since Deadpool came out, and I seem to be the last person on the planet to snag it on blu ray. But, better late then never- right? Don't attribute my procrastinating to a dislike of the movie. On the contrary, I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed Deadpool. Especially since I was all but cheerleading for the movie to absolutely flop before it came out. (In my defense, all the halfwit "fans" out there calling this "the first R rated comic book movie" got on my nerves in a big, BIG way.) Nevertheless, a year later- would my feeling about Deadpool maintain? Or would the movie end up losing it's charm like a 2 billion dollar box office shit commonly known as Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Hmmm...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Attack on Titan: Part 2

   It was probably wise of the marketing team to eventually drop the "End of the World" subtitle when bringing this sequel to home video, because frankly it really is just a part 2. It's a wrap-up to all the dangling plot threads that the first movie left hanging. It's a sequel by the strictest definition only considering that the first movie left on a big cliffhanger. Full disclosure, I loved the first one. It's imperfect, but a hell of a fun time. If you don't like fun, then go ahead and listen to all the rabid fan-hate and reviews that criticize everything from the actors' haircuts to the choice of the song that plays over the end credits. Me? I'll be over here with a fresh batch of popcorn and a big-ass grin on my face.

Attack on Titan

Note: This review is for the live action movie, not the anime show.
   I find it hilarious how anime fans complain about what the 'west', (read: where they're from, here in the United States) does to their favorite animes by adapting them into live action movies, but the same fans complain when Japan does it too. Can't win for losing with these people. But, seriously, pay no attention to them and keep an open mind. A good movie is a good movie (Rurouni Kenshin) and a bad movie is a bad movie (Devilman). But, some fans are incapable of being objective, and that's why Attack on Titan has so many 1/10 scores on IMDb. Because if something isn't the most amazing thing ever, obviously it's the worst thing ever.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Faust: Love of the Damned

   I found myself browsing my eternal watchlist of movies today, and decided on watching this early 00's comic book movie. But, of course, like any good little nerd, I did my research first. I got my hands on some of the comics and checked them out. Sex, violence, more sex, more violence, and more satanic imagery than you could shake an entire 80's heavy metal band at. Sounds like it's right up my alley! So how would the movie approach such graphic and vulgar material? You get Brian Yuzna to direct it, that's fucking how.

Dark Angel

   Why on Earth this movie is called Dark Angel is beyond me. Its more appropriate, yet still terrible original title is "I Come in Peace". A combo of crappy titles and lame box art probably kept this early 90's gem from finding a larger audience but make no mistake, this is a heck of a fun ride. If you like cop flicks, crime thrillers, aliens, and shootouts, you'll dig Dark Angel, It's an action/mystery/buddy cop movie about a loose cannon and a by-the-book (I'll let you guess which one star Dolph Lundgren is) who start to realize their simple drug war case, may not be so simple after all.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Train to Busan

   If you like your zombie movies with a massive helping of melodrama, Train to Busan is right for you. What is baffling is also how easily this could've been a surefire popcorn movie- if only it had taken itself a little less seriously. Punctuated with some stunning action set pieces, Train to Busan has all the ingredients to be a genre game changer, but it's too focused on its own human element. For once, it's actually the excessive character development that drags this movie down. It seems almost afraid to just go nuts with its own concept in a futile effort to stay grounded. Even though its a mixed bag for me, there's no denying that Train to Busan is thrilling and exceptionally well crafted.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Phantasm V: Ravager

   Maybe it's because I read all the negative reviews beforehand, which lowered my expectations, but I really enjoyed Phantasm: Ravager. It's quality is on par with literally all the others, don't let the fact it's a newer movie fool you, it's still a direly low budget shlockfest. And fans need to get real. Low budget today is not the same as low budget 20 years ago. A minuscule budget nowadays means lots of computer generated elements. In fact, I was surprised as how slick some of the effects looked, and how many practical effects there ended up being. In fact, this flick was a blast.

Phantasm IV: Oblivion

   I've realize that at this point, the Phantasm movies have moved beyond the horror genre. This is just sci-fi absurdism. Phantasm IV is the abstract apogee of a franchise known for being weird, nonsensical and confusingly dream-like. It's not a bad movie... It's a pretty bad movie all things considered, but it's familiar and marginally enjoyable all the same. I know a lot of fans appreciated this one more than the previous, and while I know why, I don't really understand it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead

   Woah! Why is this movie so divisive? It looks like the Phanbase is split down the middle on this one, and it's the movie's sense of humor that seems to be the deciding factor. I honestly didn't give a shit about the humor. It didn't make or break the movie for me, I just got to laugh a few extra times than normal. Moreover, lets be honest. This franchise was never all that scary to begin with. The first one was like an R rated Goosebumps book (I say that as absolute praise) and the series never really departed from that- but it does get crazier! Lord of the Dead is proof enough.

Phantasm II

   Okay, so, this is the extent of my re-watching of the Phantasm franchise. I had only ever seen I and II, but I figured I should brush up before pushing on ahead. I found myself enjoying Phantasm a lot more than I had when I first saw it a few years ago, and I remembered liking Phantasm II even more. So how does it hold up? I'd say half and half. There's a lot of treading water in Phantasm II, but when it gets down to brass tacks, it's a seriously enjoyable ride that has all the trademark fittings of a Don Coscarelli movie.


   Few movies are as casually weird as Phantasm are. I mean, sure, once you've plumbed the depths of cinematic weirdness, Phantasm might come off as kid's play... but still. It starts like every other 70's slasher movie- almost. A man is getting it on with a beautiful woman in a cemetery when right after the gratuitous tit-shot... she stabs him to death! Gasp! What follows is a beautiful story about a strange tall man-alien who steals corpses and shrinks them down to half size so he can transport them to another dimension in barrels to use as Jawa-like slaves. NOPE. NOTHING STRANGE HERE AT ALL.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mirai Ninja

   Holy crap! How have I never heard of this movie until last night? This is an amazing little movie. It's a video game come to life in all the best ways imaginable. (Which isn't coincidental since the movie was produced in part by Namco, who later actually made an arcade game about it.) The hero is a cyborg ninja who fights robot ninjas, and eventually teams up with human resistance fighters to rescue a princess from the evil robot overlords. Sure, it's a story we've seen a million times, but it's also the concept behind just about every other beat-em-up arcade sidescroller ever. For a 90's kid like me, Mirai Ninja was pure bliss.

Steele Justice

   This is the second time I've seen Steele Justice, but it's only the first time I've seen it on Blu Ray. I never would've thought that this old catalog title would've made the jump to HD, but I couldn't be more glad that it did. Now I can appreciate Martin Cove's best stab at becoming his own 'Rambo' in full high definition. Because what's a catchier name than JOHN STEELE? There is none, that's what. You can only bask in the amazingness of a movie that ends with the bad guy saying "There is only Black Tiger law!" and Steele replies... "And the only justice... is me." Dead serious.

We Are the Flesh

   I think it's pretty funny how all of the negative reviews for We Are the Flesh on IMDb cite the movie as pretentious. It might be, or it might not be. I don't think it is, but who am I to say? This movie is nothing if not weird, but I think most people are just disappointed it's not more shocking. It's not a shocking movie, and those expecting to be shocked will probably just be bored. It's up there with Enter the Void and The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears as one of the flat-out weirdest movies I've ever sat through. Do I regret it? Unlike most, I really don't.

Monday, January 9, 2017


   I don't appreciate Scott Adkins half as much as I should. He is the second coming of the quintessential 80's action star. He's part Michael Dudikoff, and part Sho Kosugi, but with Schwarzenegger muscles, and Van Damme skill. He puts all of this to good use, and then some, in Ninja, the most authentic 80's action movie not actually from the 80's. It's a non-stop ninja fest from the start, letting Adkins showcase his skill and his muscles. He might not have the charisma of a Dolph Van Dammezenegger, but he makes for a superb action figure.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


   "I'm doing this because it's exciting." Rarely are movies so straightforward, providing honest and simple reasoning for characters' actions. Dennis Quaid plays Alex Gardner, a 20-something psychic who gets sucked into a top secret experiment run by scientist Paul Novotny, played by Max Von Sydow. Novotny pitches the fantastical project to Gardner, a way into people's dreams simply because "No one's ever done this before-" "-Because it's exciting." He's not wrong, and while Dreamscape eventually grows complex and full of danger, its honest motives are adventurous and exciting like a brand new Fantastic Voyage.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Lights Out

   Lights Out might just be my favorite current horror flick, right behind It Follows. I love horror movies that live up to their initial promise and precious few ever genuinely do. Lights Out is one of those precious few. The opening is creepy, and immediately offers up a really interesting concept married to some really cool visuals. The idea is simple, the monster in this movie lives in the darkness and will disappear when the lights are turned on. Such a simple idea, but a really fascinating one if used properly- and this movie uses it properly.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Shadow

   The middle part of a 90's cinematic trilogy of 40's pulp comic book heroes, preceded by The Rocketeer and succeeded by The Phantom, The Shadow is just as much fun as either- and easily as stylish. I don't think anyone in the 90's was particularly clamoring for this specific brand of heroism, because sadly, all three movies under-performed at the box office, dooming all the plans that were made for extravagant franchises. Maybe it's just as well- because despite how much fun they are, all three were slightly off the mark, and once again... The Shadow is no exception.


   There was an excellent faux-documentary about a fictional serial killer that came out in 2007 called The Poughkeepsie Tapes. There was a brief segment in that movie where they showed the killer hiding out in a couple's house while they walked around and went about their business, only to kill them later when they least expected it. It was a terrifying scene, and one that seems to have been stretched into a full length movie with Hangman. However, this movie is a found footage movie, and one of the better examples of what the genre is capable of. Definitely one to keep an eye out for.

Cast a Deadly Spell

   A movie nerd like me couldn't think of a better way to usher in the new year, than by watching an little-known movie like this that turns out to be a total treat. Cast a Deadly Spell has too good of a pedigree to stay in obscurity forever. To date I know of no official DVD release, to say nothing of a Blu Ray, but apparently you can stream it on Amazon. It stars Fred Ward (Tremors), Julianne Moore, Clancy Brown, and David freakin' Warner. The icing on the cake? It's produced by Gale Anne Hurd and directed by Martin Campbell. Hot damn.