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Showing posts from July, 2023

District 9 (2009)

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South African director Neill Blomkamp had directed a number of short films and was supposed to have his feature debut with an adaptation of one of the Halo video games.  Things didn't work out, but it's nice to have friends in high places that can kick you a cool 30 million dollars and provide you with one of the best effects studios in the world.  That is exactly what Peter Jackson did for Blomkamp, and from that we got District 9 . Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is a mid-level bureaucrat with Multi-National United, or MNU, a private organization tasked with helping the South African government deal with an alien race nicknamed Prawns.  The aliens arrived in 1982 on a large ship and were discovered in a state of malnutrition and near death when authorities entered the ship, but what was originally a humanitarian effort led to the Prawns being fenced into a slum called District 9 within the confines of Johannesburg, below their forever-hovering mothership. The government h

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

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It is hard to really describe Tetsuo: The Iron Man as a movie.  It barely makes it to feature length and has much more in common with music videos, despite the obvious influence of movies like Eraserhead and Videodrome .  Director, writer and actor Shin'ya Tsukamoto may be trying to say something but, if he is, it's buried under visuals and random events where the only thing that does become apparent are some homosexual undertones as it reaches its climax. The Metal Fetishist (Tuskamoto) is out for a jog after inserting a rusty pipe into his leg when he gets hit by a car driven by the Salary Man (TomorĂ´ Taguchi).  Sometime afterward the Man finds a piece of metal protruding from his cheek while shaving.  The Fetishist manages to possess a girl in the Tokyo subway (Nobu Kanaoka) who pursues the Salary Man, who escapes. The escape is temporary as he finds himself changing, much to the dismay of his girlfriend (Kei Fujiwara).  Soon the reason for the Metal Fetishist's revenge

Evil Dead Rise (2023)

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First thing I am going to state about Evil Dead Rise is that it is not a direct sequel to the first three movies, nor a sequel to the reboot.  While some information in the movie canonizes the second as well as ties this one into the original series this is meant to be an account of yet another incursion of the Deadites into our world due to yet another of those pesky books, this time back to being called the Naturom demonto instead of the Necronomicon.  Also, even though a few beginning scenes happen at a cabin, the point of Evil Dead Rise was to put it in a more urban setting.  I was looking forward to this as I am a fan of the original series and Ash vs. Evil Dead , but not so much the reboot.  The latter, titled  Evil Dead to somewhat differentiate from the original The Evil Dead , had too much of what was wrong with horror in 2013.  It was still suffering from the 2000s, and the unlikeable characters and terrible music were still hanging around.  Things have vastly improved in la

The Belko Experiment (2016)

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Promoting this movie as  Office Space meets Battle Royale is quite misleading.  Office Space is a comedy and, when it gets down to it, a very light one.  What it had going for it is that it did a wonderful job of capturing, and lampooning, office culture in the late 1990s.  Since office culture still hasn't changed much since then the movie still works.  Battle Royale didn't lampoon anything, but gave us a fascist Japan in an alternate universe that puts school children on an island to fight and die for entertainment and, supposedly, population control reasons. The Belko Experiment is not a comedy, though there are some moments in it - especially the one referenced in the poster - that are darkly humorous.  It does have a lot more in common with Battle Royale  in parts, although I would say a large portion of the movie may also have been influenced by the low-budget Canadian thriller Cube .  Supposedly it was the result of a dream that screenwriter James Gunn had and, though he

Mayhem (2017)

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Working in an office is hell.  Office Space went over that wonderfully, and still remains the pinnacle of office comedies - even above, say, The Office .  While the customers sometimes are a major annoyance - AT&T was that way because a good portion of bored people saw it as their own personal telephonic amusement park in the 1990s - the biggest problem is dealing with a bunch of adults that never understood that high school is over.  And, no, this is not going to be a rant about Millennials or Gen Z.  A good portion of my generation, and the ones above, never evolved. I was hoping Mayhem , since it takes place in what is already a hostile work environment, would take the time to make fun of this situation more than it does.  The idea of introducing a virus that, while not deadly, causes everyone to act uncontrollably on their baser emotions is interesting.  Putting a bunch of workers that already don't want to be there under quarantine for eight hours while it runs its course

Quatermass and the Pit (1967)

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Hammer, best known for horror, occasionally dipped its toe into science fiction as well.  Since it was a British studio it had great success adapting an already popular BBC television series to the screen.  Dr. Quatermass, played by Reginald Tate and, for the third series upon which Quatermass and the Pit is based, by AndrĂ© Morell.  The other two movies, The Quatermass Xperiment (released in the U.S. as The Creeping Unknown) and Quatermass 2 (U.S. title Enemy from Space ), starred Brian Donlevy as the titular hero. The reason for the name changes, including this one which was released as Five Million Years to Earth , is that Americans largely had no knowledge of the Quatermass television serials.  Unlike the later Doctor Who program the Quatermass series were never broadcast in the United States.  While the stories were praised for their mature plots and excellent writing, and happily survived the BBC wiping of old shows, the character remained a uniquely British one.  Despite that the

Eaten Alive! (1980)

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Umberto Lenzi, unintentionally, started the whole Italian cannibal movie trend with 1972's The Man from Deep River .  The story of an American expat that kills a man in a bar fight in Bangkok and flees to hide out with a remote tribe in Thailand, eventually becoming accepted by them, it featured a small subplot regarding cannibals attacking his adopted people.  The movie was successful and started a trend, unfortunately including the infamous on-film animal killings the genre became known for. Because The Man from Deep River was successful there was demand for a sequel.  Lenzi, who at the time was seeing much more success from making crime films, wasn't interested, so Ruggero Deodato took over for Jungle Holocaust , which was originally intended to be a sequel but eventually became its own story despite having Ivan Rassimov and Me Me Lai, who had starred in Lenzi's film, attached.  It did moderately well, but it was Ruggero's infamous Cannibal Holocaust that pretty muc

Jungle Holocaust (1977)

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Ruggero Deodato is infamous for Cannibal Holocaust , a 1980 film that, in addition to resulting in Deodato's arrest for supposedly killing the cast and the movie being banned about everywhere for its graphic violence and real animal killings, also foretold the "found footage" phenomenon.  Despite the movie purposely trying to be as repulsive as possible and pulling out every exploitation stop imaginable it managed to still be a decent movie, even if it is not one to which most people look forward to repeat viewings.  Even understanding that, no, the cast was not murdered and everything except the notorious animal torture (and the killings in this movie are torture) is fake, many reaction channels have backed out of viewing the movie partway through.  Despite it being the most famous movie in the genre it was not the first of the Italian cannibal films.  That goes to Umberto Lenzi's The Man from Deep River , which featured a cannibal attack on a native tribe, even thou

Cujo (1983)

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Cujo the dog, and the events is the book of the same name, pop up often in Stephen King's later novels about Castle Rock, the fictional town in Maine where many of his early stories are set.  Even if one hasn't read the book - and it was well into my 20s or 30s before I got around to it, despite it being one of his early classics - the story is well-known.  It's a simple one about a dog that gets rabies and goes on a killing spree.  It had a bit of critical acclaim when it came out in 1981, and it was sort of sequel to The Dead Zone, which shared Castle Rock as a location for a major part of the action as well as Castle County Sheriff George Bannerman.  By 1983 there had been a number of successful adaptations of Stephen King novels - Carrie , The Shining and a television adaptation of Salem's Lot .  Stephen King went from being an English teacher living in a trailer in rural Maine, barely getting by with his young family, to the hottest author in the country.  His sud

Lethal Weapon (1987)

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The "buddy cop" genre is another one of those styles of movies that is practically gone now, but in many ways reflects a certain period in time.  Certainly these types of movies didn't just pop up in the 1980s - many of the Dirty Harry movies fit perfectly in the genre - but so many of them came out at one time due to the success of movies like Lethal Weapon .  I had forgotten how many scenes and lines in this movie have been copied over and over throughout the decades afterward. The success of Lethal Weapon was certainly a surprise, as Warner Bros. dumped it in theaters ahead of the summer blockbuster season, but good word of mouth helped get it noticed.  Danny Glover had recently come out of a major role in The Color Purple , while Mel Gibson was enjoying international success on the back of Mad Max Beyond ThunderDome   and was looking for a way to break into the mainstream American market.  While he turned down John McLane in Die Hard , he found a home in Lethal Weapon

Dead Heat (1988)

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Joe Piscopo was a punchline up until the early '90s for a celebrity that had become suddenly irrelevant.  I honestly don't remember if the reason for his suddenly disappearance in the early 1980s - thyroid cancer - was quite as well-known at the time as it is now, but he and Eddie Murphy were the only survivors of the first major change in cast of Saturday Night Live, and the two of them pretty much carried the show at that time.  Just when Piscopo could have used that to propel him further he got sick and, though I remember liking when I saw him do stand-up, that period of being out of the spotlight put a damper on his career. Treat Williams was different.  He looks like a movie star, only had to switch to his middle name to get a movie star pseudonym, and had legitimate stage credentials.  He is also versatile enough to do serious movies as well as low-budget zombie buddy cop parodies like this one.  Not that anyone cared; the little advertising I remember about this really t

Batman Begins (2005)

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Before Batman & Robin became a critical and box office disaster there was a fifth movie planned.  Several names have popped up for it, but what is known is that the Scarecrow was to have a significant role and that it was supposed to be darker and more serious than the two Joel Schumacher movies.  There was even talk of a prequel.  However, Batman & Robin pretty much killed the series and, if Marvel hadn't come along, may have done the job of killing off superhero films for quite awhile. What followed was almost a decade of the likes of Blade, Spider-Man and the X-Men getting their own series and proving that there was still life in the genre.  After going through a number of directors and ideas for who should star as Batman it finally fell to Christopher Nolan, who had two critically acclaimed movies with Memento and Insomnia , to reboot the whole thing and start over with a fresh new take on the Dark Knight, taking a lot of inspiration for the tone from the graphic novel