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The Beastmaster (1982)

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Director Don Coscarelli, who came to fame with his third movie Phantasm , was a big fan of science fiction writer Andre Norton.  One would not know this considering what he did with The Beastmaster, based on a novel by Norton about a Navajo named Hosteen Storm, who has the power to control animals on a distant planet, and his use of his powers in defeating an alien race that has all but destroyed humanity.  I read the book so long ago - it was probably 1983, since my parents asked me if it had to do with the movie, and at the time I thought it didn't - that I remember little of the book.  In honesty, I also remembered little of the movie, although it was played constantly on HBO and TBS. Phantasm made Coscarelli a decent amount of money, and along with co-writer Paul Pepperman he was able to raise a fair amount to film a script they wrote in 1980.  Andre Norton, however, was not amused, as her science fiction story was changed into a sword-and-sorcery film, largely following the st

Phantasm II (1988)

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After five Phantasm films one would think that Don Coscarelli had a master plan from the beginning.  Instead, by all accounts, the original Phantasm was made because Coscarelli was sure a horror movie would be a hit, and because he liked the audience reaction to a jump scare in his second movie, Kenny and Company .  The whole movie supposedly ended up having a dreamlike feeling simply because, although it had a plot about an alien disguised as a strange mortician shrinking corpses to transfer back to his planet for slave labor, the path it took in telling the story was anything but normal due to the fact that it was a bunch of frightening scenes strung together.   At the end of Phantasm Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) is with his brother's best friend Reggie (Reggie Bannister), and it turns out that his brother Jody has passed away.  Everything seems peaceful until the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) appears in Mike's mirror, and a number of the dwarfs attack Mike and abduct him.  The probl

Prey (2022)

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When I first saw Predator  all those years ago, I never thought it needed a sequel.  Keep in mind I was still young enough to want a sequel from a lot of movies I saw, but wanting and admitting there didn't need to be one are two different things.  It's something that a lot of executives in Hollywood would benefit from figuring out prior to the series getting so bad that it becomes yet another punchline. It did occur to me, however, if a sequel needed to be done then the next one should be in a city.  That is exactly what we got with Predator 2, and it was okay.  It was nowhere near as good, and obviously there wasn't a whole lot of faith in it other than maybe they could make a few bucks back based on the fact the first one was a hit, but it was not awful.  What the second movie did, however, was start adding backstory, forgetting that the lack of such in the original was part of what made it so good.  The Predator had one mission: hunt and collect trophies.  The audience

Dead Ringers (1988)

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David Cronenberg in the 1980s was known primarily as a director of horror films.  He had grown from writing and directing bloody, overtly sexual body horror on the cheap (and with a bit of help from the Canadian government, which caused controversy at times) to sneaking his way into mainstream theaters in the U.S..  With his adaptation of Stephen King's The Dead Zone and a remake of the 1950s creature feature The Fly , Cronenberg managed keep his horror credentials while expanding his audience.   The Dead Zone had already seen Cronenberg successfully melding drama along with horror, and it was obvious by the late 1980s that he wanted to do something new.  The idea of a movie about twin gynecologists with questionable ethics, given the content of many of his early films, would make one think that he would be pushing the envelope further than ever before.  Instead, what Cronenberg delivered was a slow-burning examination of co-dependency and loneliness.  Elliot and Beverly Mantle (J

Blood Rage (1987)

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Once a movie is in the can one would think that the studio that put forth the money to make it would want to get it in theaters as fast as possible.  That is not always the case.  There are times where directors or actors decide that they made a terrible mistake, such as Jerry Lewis with The Day the Clown Cried .  Pretty much the movie is done except for a few details, but Lewis soon realized what a tonally dissonant mess he had made, and decided that no one should see it while he was alive, and preferably not even after.  Other films are just held back to try and make the most money, and some because studios have no idea what to do with them.  Then there are films like Blood Rage , when someone realizes what a steaming pile of garbage they spent the money on, and that not releasing it is going to cost them less than spending the time trying to trick people into seeing it.  Blood Rage was made in 1983 with the idea that it would be released in 1984.  It received some sort of limited th

A Quiet Place (2018)

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I've held off on watching A Quiet Place for a long time.  Not because I thought I wouldn't like it - I was quite sure I would - but rather because it was never convenient.  It is classed by some as a horror film, but although it has survival horror elements, it's really an alien invasion film.  Thus, when it came time to do horror marathons I put it to the side, while at other times it just didn't fit into what I was watching.  Although many of the elements of the movie have been done before, this is still a bit more creative than either the normal alien invasion flick or survival horror.  It has received some criticism for showing the monsters early on, but I think that comes from the fact that this wasn't supposed to be something like Jaws   or even Halloween , but rather more along the lines of a typical 1950s sci-fi flick, except without the rubber suits. Lee Abbott (John Krasinski), his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and their children Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and

Dead or Alive 2: Birds (2000)

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Director Takashi Miike stretched his original Dead or Alive into a trilogy, although it's not an ongoing story but rather three films somewhat based on the theme of the title.  Other than Miike, the main connection is its leads, Riki Takeuchi and Shô Aikawa, although they also play different roles in each movie.  The other connection is that they all take place at least partially in Yokohama.  The different films are also quite strange thematically, often feeling like multiple movies combined into one.  Mizuki Okamoto (Aikawa) is tasked by a magician (Edison Chen) who is working with a small organized crime outfit to assassinate a yakuza boss in order to start a gang war between them and the triads.  While doing so another assassin (Takeuchi) shows up and kills the boss and his entourage before escaping.  The news reports the assassin with Mizuki's name, but Okamoto recognizes him as Shûichi, a boy he was best friends with when they were both in an orphanage on a small island v

Dead or Alive (1999)

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Dead or Alive has a plot that sounds like numerous Asian gangster films.  An upstart crime lord decides to take on the yakuza and the triads, and a morally ambiguous cop with family problems is tasked with bringing him down.  Only, this isn't John Woo, Andrew Lau or even Shigehiro Ozawa.  This is Takashi Miike.   For good or for bad things never go as expected with the majority of his movies.  His seeming lack of style is his style, allowing him to seamlessly drift from genre to genre, whether it be horror movies, cheap crime dramas or expensive period pieces.  Even when he makes a movie with a straight narrative it is still not going to go in a direction one expects, largely because not even movies within a supposed trilogy of films stick to one simple plot line.  So, what should be a rote potboiler with some cool action sequences turns out to be - well, turns out to be that, but something much different as well.  After a montage of death and debauchery showing the rise of a new s

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

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Bryan Singer was pretty much responsible for the quality of the first two X-Men films and, after a bit of an absence, started edging his way back in.  Although Matthew Vaughn was the director, Singer cowrote the screenplay for X-Men: First Class .  While it was in no way a big hit, at least in the United States, those who did see it started realizing there may be a bit of life left in the franchise after all. Vaughn was supposed to direct X-Men: Days of Future Past  as well, but one thing led to another with Singer returning.  The result was the last truly good X-Men film in the main series, as well as an opportunity for Singer to step in and clean the franchise up.  Between X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine , a whole lot mistakes were made.  Luckily for Singer the comics themselves presented a way to to make it all go away. In the near future the Earth is a devastated wasteland.  Robots called Sentinels have been designed to hunt Mutants, but they eventually changed

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

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The Hills Have Eyes was one of a number of horror remakes that came out in the 2000s.  The difference between this and the slew of other money grabs was that Alexandre Aja already had an international horror hit with the interesting, if highly flawed, Haute tension.  Where many of the other movies had second-rate or unknown directors attached, this one had someone who truly liked the horror genre, and even seemed to have some love of exploitation films.  He also had the blessing of Wes Craven, who had written and directed the original The Hills Have Eyes in 1977.   Although there are definitely a number of changes, Aja was smart to leave most of the core story alone.  There is a little more explanation this time around, but nothing that takes up a good portion of the film or that truly undermines it like Rob Zombie's version of Halloween .  It just simply provides some backstory.  Aja understood the point Craven was making in his film, and just largely sought to update the story t

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

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Although Tobe Hooper saw little of it because, like a number of exploitation films in the 1970s, the mafia got involved with the distribution, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was a huge hit.  There was more than a little of the old Scottish legend of Sawney Bean, a highway robber who supplied meat to his family through cannibalism, in it as well.  While The Last House on the Left may have a cult following now, Wes Craven's debut feature film did not exactly make him rich and, after making a pornographic drama about incest called The Fireworks Girl  under a pseudonym, Craven found himself in debt and without anyone seriously looking at his scripts.  Producer Peter Locke suggested that, instead of trying to push turgid romance stories, he return to what he was good at. The Hills Have Eyes was originally supposed to be more of a violent science fiction film, taking place in the year 1994 in a forest full of cannibals.  While Locke was able to secure a nice budget for him, nothing came cl

Blade II (2002)

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Since Blade himself, though not Wesley Snipes, is returning to the Marvel Universe, I decided to see how the original Blade   held up as it did develop a bit of a following as time went on.  For me, other than Snipes embodying the Daywalker and Kris Kristofferson playing a great supporting role as Whistler, it didn't.  It really wasn't that good when it first came out, with effects that often look like someone playing with blobs of mud.  It being 1998 doesn't even count as an excuse, because there were similarly budgeted films from the time that look much better.  It was largely a hollow, uninteresting action film with vampires thrown in.  Truth is, I didn't see Blade  first.  I purposely gave it a miss because the previews looked pretty much like what the movie was.  I never really even meant to see Blade II , and I honestly can't really think of the reason why I originally saw it.  I didn't know Guillermo del Toro - who I knew at the time from C ronos and Mimi