When I was young, I used to take refuge after school in front of the television where the
4:30 Movie was a weekday happening. Within every week, there was always something “new” to view on the tube. It was either giant monsters like Godzilla or Gamera or some science fiction story such as War of the Worlds or Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Every afternoon there was an invader that would arise from the earth or descend from the skies. There were other forms of sci-fi such as the Japanese import Ultraman or similar American fare such as The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers that would battle strange creatures that emerged from another world.
Psycho Goreman, a comedy/sci-fi/horror film produced by Dystopia Films and distributed by RLJE Films, hearkens back to Kaiju-styled films, but is much more graphic and has a far bloodier palette than any 70’s creature feature would allow.
Pulling a double shift is generally not a fun time. On one hand, more money goes into your paycheck, but on the other hand, work is likely understaffed and who knows what you’re in for. The struggle of the working-class can unite an audience of movie-goers and get them behind a lot of protagonists who are putting themselves in dangerous and otherwise questionable situations. “I can survive a little longer if I can just survive the night.” This attitude is the driving force behind 12 Hour Shift, the directorial debut of actress Brea Grant, best known for her recurring role in Heroes and Rob Zombie’s Halloween II.
Oh yes, the Saw franchise. A series of increasingly violent films with flashes and speed-ups with a dash of philosophy and characters flipping on a dime: from calm and collected to screaming. Am I a fan? Of the first few films, yes, as we were given a couple of clever twists and the engaging performances of Tobin Bell as Jigsaw. Alas, the Jigsaw killer is now dead and a new mechanical mastermind is targeting cops. Detective Zeke (Chris Rock) is given control of the case which he navigates with a new rookie Scheck (Max Minghella). Meanwhile his retired father Marcus (Samuel L. Jackson) goes off hunting for the killer alone. But then again, they all do. It’s a requirement.
The Djinn (2021) is an excellent example of how to make an effective horror movie on a relatively low budget and in a single location. At a lean 80 minutes, directors/writers David Charbonier and Justin Powell don’t waste a single minute. The bulk of the film feels finely tuned, containing dread, suspense, and earnest performances from the small cast.
The Djinn in this film isn’t Aladdin’s genie. Rather, this ancient Arabic spirit/demon is true to its roots. It will grant one wish but at a grave price. It appears as a black, mist-like entity that can take on the form of any deceased person. The creature could have looked silly in this, but fortunately, it does not. It’s an effective monster, both in its mist and human forms.
This movie does more interesting things in a hallway than Heaven's Gate does with the entire North American continent. (Too soon for a Michael Cimino joke? Pandering to the kids?) In case you're not familiar, Heaven's Gate was the glacially paced, ungodly expensive cinematic equivalent of a Montana grandma puzzle that bankrupted United Artists in 1980. Sure, a movie presumably about dirt probably didn't need to cost as much as a Canadian province but human flypaper Michael Cimino sure found a way.
Antidote? Antidote is the opposite of that.
With the circumstances we have faced for over a year with this damned pandemic and forced to live in forms of isolation, our world has, at times, mirrored many cinematic happenings such as The Last Man on Earth or its reboots The Omega Man and I Am Legend with its desolate byways and thinning throngs of humanity sans the nocturnal activities of the infected, undead vampires. Even though our vaccination efforts are moving along and there is hope of some type of normalcy returning in the near future, the dystopian despair still lingers.
The Shudder original Fried Barry should be screened at drive-ins at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night. It’s lewd, gory, and bonkers. This type of alien abduction movie isn’t like Fire in the Sky (1993) or The McPherson Tape (1989). Instead, it’s an absurd film about an alien that takes a test drive in a degenerate’s body, encountering some of the worst dregs of society along the way.
Low-budget films feel like they should be the ideal place to more brutally explore important themes. Unburdened by the notes that come with money, and unable to cover up their seams with the same, they can be virtuosic demonstrations of what good craft and creative fixes can do. However, to do that, there needs to be an understanding of writing and filmmaking craft that goes beyond having a character state their blunt intentions in a reverse shot.
This gets worse when the plot is as derivative as PainKiller. The film follows Bill (Bill Oberst Jr.), a man out on a mission to kill individuals involved in the distribution of opiates. His daughter overdosed, and he has now made it his righteous duty to avenge her. If that sounds like a pseudo-fed Death Wish, that’s because it is, and the narrative never tries to explore beyond that.
Before departing to the theatre to watch In The Earth, I had to stop home and change clothes. I grabbed the first comfortable shirt I found; a picture of Mount Rushmore on the front and one of the carved faces telling the others ‘dude, we are so stoned’. Get it? A pun of fine proportions and applicable to this review because I feel like the filmmakers were high when they made this movie. That in itself isn’t the problem but whether under the influence of something or not, a film can either end up fantastic or frustrating. This one is the latter for me if we’re looking at the film as a whole. Its strength comes from its assorted parts.
Trudging through life we are constantly bombarded with memories we wish we could let go of, some painful, some embarrassing, and many in between. With the success and uptick of movies discussing Alzheimer’s recently, the concept of memory, how it plays tricks on us, and the possibility of forgetting who we are is ever-present. Cerebrum is no exception. Directed by Arvi Ragu and written by Ragu and Gary D. Houk, this film uses a clever science fiction background to reveal our fears of love, loss, and family trauma, all surrounding how we preserve and make our own memories of it all.