Sunday, June 24, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Director: J.A. Bayona
Notable Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B.D. Wong, Isabella Sermon, Geraldine Chaplin, Jeff Goldblum

While the critic in me certainly has issues with all of the Jurassic Park films, including the original, my love for their bombastic popcorn abilities to entertain and deliver simple environmental messages and warnings about mankind’s arrogance in the realm of technology knows no bounds. When the series came roaring back to life with Trevorrow’s Jurassic World in 2015, I couldn’t have been happier with the results. It was a seriously flawed film, but one that seemingly had no intention of trying to break the formula for the sake of logic or – really – anything all that new and instead focused on big broad character swipes, big and mean dinosaurs, and big outlandish set pieces. I’m perfectly fine with that. Still, by the time that the first trailers started rolling out for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the massive volcano angle and similar scenes to the first Jurassic World did not inspire a lot of faith. This looked like more of the same and, while I was also fine with that, I didn’t have nearly the amount of expectations for the film as the previous one and it’s ‘the park is now open!’ slant.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

German Angst (2015/2018)

Directors: Jorg Buttgereit, Michal Kosakowski, Andreas Marschall

If you have been following the site for some time, you know that we love horror anthology films. For better or worse and in the case of anthologies, a little bit of both. One of the cult horror films that has been bubbling under the mainstream conscious is German Angst, which has been floating around in various releases for the last few years, and it finally hits Blu Ray from Artsploitation films in the US. Now, when a film finds that cult stream like this did, horror fans tend to build it up and can overhype it as ‘the best film you haven’t seen’ and keeping your expectations in check is the best way to approach German Angst. Particularly because the film is much more artsy and diverse than maybe some of the marketing would lead one to believe. The results are impressive though and, while it may seem a bit slow at times or too vague with its narratives through the three stories for some mainstream horror fans, each of them delivers on their promises in some effective ways making the entire film one that more hardcore horror fans will definitely want to dig their teeth into.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Endless (2018)

Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Notable Cast: Justin Benson, Aaaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington, Lew Temple, James Jordan, Shane Brady, Kira Powell, David Lawson, Emily Montague, Peter Cilella, Vinny Curran, Glen Roberts

Perhaps it’s the cynic in me that thought directors Moorhead and Benson were being a bit too arrogant with their abilities when I found out that they would be starring as the two leads in their latest genre bending piece of cinema, The Endless. Don’t get me wrong, they had built up a lot of momentum with the back to back successes of Resolution and Spring, particular the latter which truly elevated their writing and directorial skills to some astronomical levels. Still, when The Endless started making the rounds in the festival circuit, my cynicism for directors who like to put themselves in movies perked up. Fortunately, now that The Endless is finally hitting home video with a solid little theatrical release to boot a few months ago, people can rest at ease that Moorhead and Benson are not indulging their own egos with this film but are simply adding to their impressive resumes. The Endless is a phenomenal film riding on their ability to create charisma in a strange and often perplexingly offbeat genre shifting tone. It’s personal, intimate, and impressively otherworldly at the same time. Like their previous two, this film is not for more casual film goers with its oddities, but it is one likely to find a very large and dedicated cult following. A somewhat hilarious concept considering the ideas at the core of its story.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Abominable (2005)

Director: Ryan Schifrin
Notable Cast: Matt McCoy, Haley Joel, Christien Tinsley, Karin Anna Cheung, Jeffrey Combs, Natalie Compagno, Paul Gleason, Ashley Hartman, Lance Henriksen, Rex Linn, Phil Morris, Tiffany Shepis, Chad Smith, Dee Wallace, Paul Spadone, Josh Wolfe

Generally speaking, I’m a sucker for creature features. Wholeheartedly so. Good, bad, ugly, funny...I just love a silly monster movie. That being said, the amount of good Sasquatch horror movies to bad Sasquatch movies heavily leans in the realms of the latter. As easy as it would seem to make a fun monster movie with one of the world’s most popular kinds of monsters, very rarely have I found myself impressed with them beyond unintentional humor or a passable way to burn time. Abominable, on the other hand, is both. It’s a great, bad killer Sasquatch film. There’s not an ounce of me that believes Abominable is meant to be a classically regarded horror classic. This is a film that starts with very little, in terms of non-basic horror concepts, and builds such a fun piece of cinema on top of it with its self-aware elements and outlandish execution that it was very hard for me to wipe the smile off of my face when watching it. If that’s not an endorsement for cult cinema fans, I’m not sure what else would be.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sleepy Eyes of Death 8: Sword of Villainy (1966)

Director: Kenji Misumi
Notable Cast: Raizo Ichikawa, Shigeru Amachi, Shiho Fujimura, Kentaro Kudo, Ryuzo Shimada, Yasushi Nagata, Tatsuo Endo, Koichi Uenoyama, Ryosuke Kagawa, Koichi Mizuhara

After the surprisingly successful quality of the previous entry, it was hard not to jump into Sleepy Eyes of Death 8: Sword of Villainy with some high expectations. Not that this series has always been the most consistent with quality overall, but the seventh entry managed to produce a well-executed film with some lofty and off beat gimmicks and this eighth entry was bringing back one of Japan’s finest genre directors to helm it, Kenji Misumi. As Sword of Villainy plays out, it’s almost the polar opposite in style to Mask of the Princess. This film is dense, playing out at times like a socio-political drama more than a gimmickier chanbara film, and it runs the gauntlet in a more artsy, theatrical, and vague manner. It’s no wonder that many fans have mixed feelings on the film. Even when the narrative flow feels flawed or pushes too far in one direction, the film is still carried through by its phenomenal cast and another brilliant round of direction from Misumi. Just make sure that you keep open to what it has to offer.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Believer (2018)

Director: Lee Hae-young
Notable Cast: Cho Jin-woong, Ryu Jun-yeol, Kim Joo-hyuk, Kim Sung-ryung, Park Hae-joon, Jung Jun-won, Jin Seo-yeon, Kang Seung-hyun, Seo Hyun-woo, Kim Dong-young, Lee Joo-young, Jung Ga-ram

Remakes. As much as they are seen as a plague on the film industry, they exist and considering that they are not going away any time soon we should simply hope for the best from them. Even with this approach in mind, it was hard not to be cynical about the announcement that there would be a South Korean remake of Johnnie To’s recent crime thriller, Drug War. Namely because Johnnie To did it so impeccably well to delivered a nihilistic slice of brutally subtle narrative and viciously opportunistic characters in a chaotic world within his film. With the remake, under the title Believer, getting a limited theatrical release from our friends at Well Go USA, hope was lifted. By the time that the credits rolled, that hope turned to relief. Believer is not ‘just’ a remake of the Johnnie To film, but it’s definitely a new interpretation of the original. In many ways, this film takes the blueprints laid out by To and builds a new film of its own on top of it. Believer uses some of the elements, here and there, but ultimately crafts a unique vision of the story. It is a film that effectively succeeds
on its own merits and delivers a crime tale that’s as smart as it is explosive.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)

Director: Jim Wynorski
Notable Cast: Dick Durock, Louis Jourdan, Heather Locklear, Sarah Douglas, Ace Mask, Monique Gabrielle, Daniel Emery, Joey Sagal, RonReaco Lee

It’s not like the original Swamp Thing, directed by Wes Craven, is some kind of cinematic gold. It’s not. Far from it, in fact. It’s sequel, The Return of Swamp Thing, takes things even further down the rabbit hole of B-grade cinema and...well, it’s not cinematic gold either. However, The Return of Swamp Thing is a film that has no intention of being that film that rises above that line. Coming from the director of Chopping Mall, Deathstalker II, and whose career as careened into made for SyFy monster movies and television pornography as of late, I suppose that it’s not that surprising. What is surprising is that this film is a lot of fun. Yeah, it’s dumb. Yet, the film embraces it with 100% of its existence and, for that, I have to give it some credit. Truthfully, people will either enjoy it or completely despise it and even though it’s hard to say it’s “good” in any sense of the word, I do have a lot of enjoyment with it.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Mimic (2018)

Director: Huh Jung
Notable Cast: Yum Jung-Ah, Park Hyuk-Kwon, Shin Rin-A

Director Huh Jung came rip roaring onto the scene with his debut feature length film, Hide and Seek. He was winning awards, the film made a statement at the South Korean box office, and he set a very high bar for himself. That is one of the things about coming out of the gate with full power for a debut film. There is a lot of pressure to follow it up with a bombastic sophomore effort and fans will set serious expectations in the success of the film. With his sophomore effort, The Mimic, Huh Jung continues on with his horror material, but this time pushes forward into potential creature feature and ghost story territory as he adapts a Korean legend of ‘the tiger of Mt. Jang.’ While the results are not nearly as efficient as his previous effort, the film does soar in many aspects that will have fans and newbies to his material hooked.