• Shatter Dead

    Shatter Dead

    ★★★

    If movies were weather forecasts this would be dismally overcast. As much brooding as there is bleeding.

    It’s pleasant to see a surprisingly creative take on zombies, one that apparently caused quite a censorship stir. The ending sort of lost me but overall this is a really worthy SOV entry where the medium (most of the time) enhances all the grit and grime of McCrae’s world.

  • Trauma

    Trauma

    ★★★½

    Sad to say but Asia Argento is one of the main things that brings Trauma down. She puts a lot in the role but doesn’t have the gravitas of Argento’s other leading ladies. Also, directing the topless scene for your daughter’s sixteen-year-old character? Yuck!!!!

    The rest of the cast is solid. Christopher Ryder offers quite a Stoltzian performance, and there’s kind of a Donald Pleasance look alike too. My only other main problem (which may be a plus on a…

  • Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

    Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

    ★★★

    So the saga ends on a fairly good note, provided you’ve generally enjoyed it so far. I should have known they’d just completely throw out the connection to the last movie, as always, so no White House fight. But we do get to see some tanks, the Red Queen, more clones…I won’t spoil it all. 

    Sadly, the film feels drained of color, especially after Retribution. Of course my expectations for a dumb plot and dialogue are always vastly exceeded, but…

  • The Gray Man

    The Gray Man

    ★★★

    JB’s review: 8/10
    “Great action and very real. Highly recommend.”

    Admittedly, yes, it feels like this was created by an AI in a lot of ways. Things just shift from one calculated explosion to the next; a rogue spy story rode hard and put up wet in a dozen different cities introduced via drone shots. 

    But I can also tell so many people tried to add personality where the Russo brother’s direction leaves an utterly soulless void: little touches in…

  • Five Dolls for an August Moon

    Five Dolls for an August Moon

    ★★½

    Someone smokes a cigarette between a woman’s toes! That’s the only note I wrote down for this movie. 

    Bava’s visual flair is present  but I think it’s just average overall. Leaning completely into the mystery aspect and with no Gothic atmosphere to cushion the film, I wanted more interesting characters to care about. Anyone could be the murderer, but that’s because we don’t get to know anyone well enough. I’ll give it another shot down the road.

  • Children of the Corn

    Children of the Corn

    ★★½

    Not surprised that this came from a short story because there’s not much that happens before the hour mark besides a whole lot of wandering around. And when it does start to speed up it just gets confusing with no justification and little payoff.

    Also not surprised if any tension from King’s story was difficult to translate onscreen, assuming it also takes place in broad daylight.

    The acting is bland but John Franklin is good as Isaac—one of those faces that could be 14 or 40. It’s messy and a bit dull.

  • The Undercover Man

    The Undercover Man

    ★★★

    JB’s review: 8/10
    “Glenn Ford did a great job. Luv my good ole B/W’s.”

    Here is another understated noir from Indicator’s first Columbia set, sporting an intricate plot with a clumsy message.

    Ford is a fitting everyman to witness the hidden  function of police work: not enforcing and abiding by laws but making deals in the gray to get things done.

    Occasionally, the story dates itself to the Prohibition era alongside Scarface or Underworld (both better films), but the “money talks” demonstration pervades every scene and always speaks loud no matter the decade.

  • The Vineyard

    The Vineyard

    ★★★

    What do a gay German, a docile reporter, a hunk in drag, and some wannabe actresses have in common? They all fall prey to James Hong’s vineyard!

    The actor you love is chanting spells and raising the dead, manifesting spiders and seducing babes, although as far as directing goes, it seems like Rice and cinematographer John Dirlam were more responsible because Wong didn’t want to stay up late for shooting!

    Wong’s tongue-in-cheek attitude—describing himself as a sexiest debonair but also reveling in zombie makeup—adds ample charm to the whole thing.

  • Escape from New York

    Escape from New York

    ★★★½

    JB’s review: 4/10
    “What a stupid movie.”

    I’ll just say, I don’t think Carpenter’s action movies are as well structured as his horror. Escape from New York survives by the drone of its score and the pulse in Snake’s forearms, but neither do much in the way of exciting action—at least, not often enough.

    But that’s okay because Kurt Russell in Carpenter’s urban apocalypse is school enough to last 100 minutes. There’s also Donald Pleasance playing the president and a gnarly wrestling match.

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    ★★★★½

    JB’s review: 7/10
    “It was really nice to see Daniel Craig in a different role and see him with emotions.”

    Fincher and his team again beautifully develop a engrossing story. The setting in Sweden is perfect for his dark, icy aesthetic and the acting matches to a tee. 

    It was pleasant to see Rooney Mara play a character who could be a stereotype at every turn with depth, to see Craig dialed back into his journalist role, to see Christopher…

  • The Female Bunch

    The Female Bunch

    ★★

    This is why we don’t let men on the ranch!

    Al Adamson’s skin flick is really just a series of situations set up to see women topless (on Charles Manson’s ranch), but honestly there are so many more exciting ways to get that content than trudging through this.

    Lon Chaney Jr. strangely enough plays an alcoholic stable hand—which was unfortunately true to life except minus the stable hand part. He is a small bright spot. I didn’t really give this a fair shake, but a few minutes in, you can tell it isn’t really begging for one.

  • The Game

    The Game

    ★★½

    Bill Rebane tries again with The Game, a Wisconsin reimagining of House on Haunted Hill.

    It lies on that no-budget intersection between weird and terrifically bad. There’s a diversion about a guy with a porn stache seducing a country bumpkin, some crazy old people laughing and singing in a control room, fear traps, tarantulas, and things like that.

    The disorganized story has too many twists to keep up, but really it’s nice to see a Rebane flick where things actually occur, often to a modest degree of amusement.