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MrGKB

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419 reviews in total 
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Martyrs (2008)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The real martyrs would appear to be the audience..., 29 September 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...and what we're ultimately allowed to witness is, at its core, some pretty empty-headed, although visceral, existentially sadistic nonsense. Nonetheless, I can't deny that "Martyrs" packs a punch (several of them, in fact, to the face and gut, repeatedly, to its protagonist, after fooling us about who the real protagonist is). It's ultra-violence that Alex and his droogies would lap up like synthemesc milk-plus; presumably the audience is meant to as well. Aha, but auteur Pascal "The Tall Man" Laugier isn't through with us yet! After rubbing our collective noses in viscous pools of vengeance and hallucinatory blood guilt, he dials up the sadism a few more notches with a tiresome third act that trucks in absurdist fantasies of an elite cabal searching for proof of an afterlife through the inducement of a tortured martyr's vision of what can only be feebly represented by a coruscating white light.

What tripe.

Neither the acting chops of the two leads, which are considerable, nor the overall production values, including some very convincing Grand Guignol splatter and grue, can conceal the vacuous conceit of the film's plot nor the soul-less nihilism of its theme. "Martyrs" leaves its audience numbed by its brutality, but with precious little else, and ultimately comes off as mere torture-porn with a glib pretension of meaning. I won't say it's not worth watching, but be prepared to be unsatisfied. Mayhaps that was Laugier's intent; if so, his intentions were shallow and venal.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Fails to live up to its so-called reputation..., 24 September 2012
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...not to mention the strangely positive reviews on this site. Despite a few moments that work well (mostly involving Tiger, the dog, a true scene-stealer), "The Boogens" is utterly forgettable, dispensable, and ignorable. It's as pure an example of Sturgeon's Revelation as one might ask, and further proof that Stephen King is not a trustworthy blurb-whore, at least not when it comes to movies.

The ostensible lead, Rebecca "Soap" Balding, handles her underwritten part fairly well, even favoring the target audience with some brief T&A, but the best one can say about the ensemble cast is "adequate." It's the uninspired script and lack of production value that chains everyone with mediocrity; this thing has made-for-TV written all over it (even though it wasn't). The creature (such as it is) is wisely kept hidden until film's end, but the payoff is risible at best; I have known scary monsters, sir, and you are no scary monster! Truthfully, I wanted to like this unassuming little feature, perhaps only because my brother and I had a habit of calling each other "Boog" when we were young and callow, but sadly "The Boogens" never rises above its own shopworn premise. I'd have given it another point if I'd been in a more forgiving mood, but it really wouldn't deserve it. There are simply far, far more films worthy of our attention. Second-tier character actors gamely earning paychecks is not my idea of a good time. "The Boogens" is, sad to say, late night insomnia viewing only.

Some amusing trivia: Anne-Marie "Sledge Hammer!" Martin, whose career apparently withered away with her divorce from Michael Crichton, co-wrote "Twister." Balding's romantic co-star, Fred "Class Reunion" McCarren died much too young at 55, while Balding ended up marrying her director, James L. "Star Trek: TNG, V, DSN, E" Conway. "The Boogens" DP got his start (and spent most of his career) shooting low-fi exploitation films like "Thar She Blows!"

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Very well done retrospective of the classic 80s B-movie..., 19 September 2012
7/10

...but obviously of little interest to anyone other than fans of said film (and its lesser follow-ups) or, at the very least, fans of the late Dan "Alien" O'Bannon, who wrote and directed it. This tidy little doc is essentially a video version of "The Complete History of the Return of the Living Dead," by British fan/co-authors Christian Sellers and Gary Smart (with some help from a fellow responsible for a "Nightmare on Elm Street" retrospective which was released a half year prior). This DVD-only release includes several shorter pieces devoted to the first two sequels of "RotLD," as well as a number of other entertaining features including the last interview with O'Bannon before he died. For fans this is easily a "10"; I only give it a "7" due to its limited appeal.

Cat People (1982)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
An under-appreciated treat in the '82 film bumper crop..., 16 September 2012
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...director Paul "Blue Collar" Schrader's "Cat People" is a mostly successful revamp of the Val Lewton 1942 classic, thanks to a sexually charged script by Alan "Dead of Night" Ormsby (tweaked by Schrader), solid performances from a well-chosen cast, fine production design from a lot of Schrader regulars, and excellent cinematography and lighting by John "Groundhog Day" Bailey (another regular Schrader collaborator). The plot centers primarily on the turmoil of female sexual awakening in the personage of Nastassja "Tess" Kinski, freshly immigrated to New Orleans in search of her brother, Paul (Malcolm "A Clockwork Orange" McDowell). What she discovers is ultimately not to her liking, as it turns out she can never consummate a love affair without turning into a big cat and then killing someone (typically the lover) in order to revert to human form. Unless she sticks with incest. Bummer for her.

Despite decent critical reception, "Cat People" tanked at the box office, possibly from an ill-timed release date, early spring not being the ideal time for a slick exploitation horror film, no matter its pedigree, and never mind its perversity. It has since maintained a healthy reputation on video, for good reasons: choice nudity, ample gore, flashes of humor ("Top Cat"), and a compelling story with very few "oh, c'mons" that trades on unsettling fears of and fascinations with female empowerment. If I have any real complaints storywise, they would center on the somewhat murky parameters of the transformation from human to big cat (is it volitional, are there specific triggers?) as well as certain questions concerning Irena's ultimate willingness to suffer a submissive fate. But these are small quibbles that don't seriously impinge upon the core story. Kinski and McDowell sell their characters beautifully, while John "Home Alone" Heard and Annette "Smallville" O'Toole are strong foils heading up a support cast that includes Ruby "The Stand" Dee and Schrader favorite Ed "St. Elsewhere" Begley, Jr.

Eminently entertaining (and no doubt multiply so for Kinski and/or O'Toole droolers), "Cat People" is near the top of my list of horror movies that might actually deserve another retelling with the right actors and an improved script. Still, Schrader's version is certainly recommended to genre fans everywhere.

Camp Hell (2010)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Horribly misconceived and apparently deceptively marketed..., 11 September 2012
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

..."Camp Hell" is a perfect example of why producers shouldn't be allowed to write or direct (stick with what you know) as well as a classic case of wasting money. Three million dollars, seriously? Where did it go, up people's noses? Numerous name actors lend their cred to this pitiful excuse for a cautionary tale of the dangers of hidebound religious dogma, and can only be forgiven if they were otherwise out of work. I'm not naming names because I'm pretty sure they're already fairly ashamed of themselves, right, Jesse? Andrew, Dana, Bruce? Are you listening? The youngsters can get away with it; they've still got careers ahead of them, as long as they don't make mistakes like this too often. You adults should know better. Have I reached the minimum word count yet? Good, that's more than enough typing wasted on this dreck. Yet another black mark on the reputation of whoever picks the videos for my local library.

Repeaters (2010)
Watchable though likely not repeatable..., 7 September 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...director/cinematographer Carl "Emile" Bessai's "Repeaters" is likely Arne "Red Scorpion" Olsen's best screenplay, which may or may not be saying much, given that the story is basically a riff on the Harold Ramis classic, "Groundhog Day." This incarnation (unsubtle allusion intended) follows three young addicts in rehab as they find themselves reliving one day over and over again no matter what they do. Check the trivia section of "Groundhog Day" for the source inspiration(s) of this premise. "Repeaters" pursues the dark side of such a situation; the three time-trapped protagonists revel in the baser pleasures of such freedom, and inevitably one of them goes too far. Once that happens, the rest of the story centers on the efforts of one of the others to put a halt to things. I won't spoil things any further in that regard.

Most notable are the three leads, two of them reunited from the cast of "Final Destination 3:" Dustin "Slither" Milligan, Amanda "The Haunting in Connecticutt" Crew, and Richard "Cole" de Klerk; all turn in effectively nuanced performances, and I would expect that all three will have decent careers. The support is fine as well; don't miss Emily "Ginger Snaps" Perkins' cameo appearance; I wonder if that bit of casting was an in-joke. Bessai's camera-work is effective (as is his direction), Jeff "The Boondock Saints" Danna's score suits well, and even the pop soundtrack isn't too obnoxious. Interested viewers could do a lot worse, let me assure you. At least this is one Canadian indie I can't fault my local library for acquiring.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Another jewel in Nova's crown..., 6 September 2012
9/10

...and well worth the attention of the otherwise uninformed viewer, "Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial" presents the basics of the ongoing evolution vs. creationism (oops, sorry, "intelligent design") controversy as it played out in the courts of Pennsylvania nearly a decade ago, driving a very strong nail into the coffin of said "intelligent design" attempting to pass itself off as science. Writer/co-director Joseph "The Elegant Universe" McMaster incorporates post facto interviews with all the major players on both sides along with dramatic re-enactments of key transcripts in the courtroom to present the story of a modern day Scopes Trial. The documentary is remarkably even-handed, containing almost no digs against the losing side, perhaps because it really wasn't necessary to get the gist of things across.

Speaking as an agnostic (i.e. weak atheist), it never ceases to bemuse me that such a large portion of the American population (something like 2 out of every 5 people, if memory serves) rejects the theory of evolution in favor of superstition. It's a sad reflection on the state of education and the gullibility of the American people. Then again, it's also a consequence of the very human fear of death and insignificance; theism is a remarkable palliative for existential dread. Perhaps proponents of rationalism and science might want to consider the need to do a better job of communicating and instilling in our youth the true and ennobling sense of wonder and purpose that a genuine understanding of the immense beauty and mystery of the universe in which we live provides. Just a thought.

9.5.14: Minor edit for clarity.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Don't let the rating here fool you..., 5 September 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

..."American Bully" isn't a bad watch at all--it's miles ahead of a typical "4" film on this site--despite its thematic heavy-handedness and a final coda that has no business being there. Nicely acted by relative unknowns (some of whom are likely to become much better known as they mature), handily directed by co-writer/producer Dave "Push" Rodriquez, and expertly shot by John "Bad Ass" Barr, "American Bully" tells a brutish tale of jingoistic excess reminiscent of Michael Haneke's "Funny Games," although no one breaks the fourth wall.

Shot in Louisiana, but with a definite anywhere feel, "American Bully" follows the tragic arc of Brandon (Matt "Eden" O'Leary) and Mike (Marshall "True Blood" Allman) as they and two ne'er-do-well friends (Sam "Three Moons Over Milford" Murphy and Ross "Sinners and Saints" Britz) as they descend into drug and alcohol-fueled xenophobic madness. The script takes just a hair too long to get underway, and to be honest, the bookend prologue/epilogue should have been excised entirely, but I suppose Rodriquez felt he needed the dubious star power of John Savage and Natasha Hentsridge to give his film some oomph. Neither of them was needed whatsoever.

Worth a watch despite its flaws. If nothing else, O'Leary and Allman are young actors that are going to be going places, and the rest of the cast ain't too shabby. Current ratings here on the IMDb (as of early September 2012) are totally bogus.

This is the sort of trash..., 29 August 2012
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...that makes me seriously question my local library's video acquisition policies. Irredeemably bad in virtually every respect, I hesitate to mention any names involved whatsoever, for fear of possible loss of my immortal soul. All of them should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Let's just say that stuntmen should never be directors, Vin Diesel lookalikes should stick with being body doubles or anything else that keeps them out of public view, and bimbo actresses should always be seen and never heard. Also, Michael "never saw a paycheck I wouldn't take" Madsen and Armand "me, too" Assante should immediately retire from the business before they lose their own immortal souls. This is crap with a capital C and if anyone reading this actually goes out and buys, rents, or even steals/downloads it, well, it's your immortal soul, fool, and I hope you enjoyed it while you still had it. I almost never slap a "1" on a film, but this one surely deserves it for the absolute waste of $7m dollars it represents.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
You don't need me to tell you how inconsequential this is..., 29 August 2012
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...since if you're here reading this, you likely already know. Somehow a no-name tyro director and his backers lured Bill "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" Moseley and pint-sized scream queen Danielle "Halloween (2007)" Harris into heading up an otherwise equally no-name cast in an utterly uninspired direct-to-DVD slasher film. This is Sturgeon's Revelation all the way, folks, with minimal redemptive value, in one eye and out the other. Be assured, there is nothing "haunting" or in any way shocking, horrifying, or scary contained within "Blood Night..." other than the sheer banality of everything that takes place, and the lack of verve and style with which it is executed. Moseley's performance is the worst I've ever seen him do; why he accepted the role is beyond me (maybe he's just tired of playing psychos). Harris does what she can after waiting half the film to make her entrance, but there's only so much credence one can lend to a 30-year-old woman playing a college freshman (and never mind that none of the rest of the cast look like the teenagers they're supposed to be). The script is sophomoric at best, without an ounce of wit or originality, the dual-DP cinematography is competent but uninteresting, and you've seen gore fx and general mayhem like this done a thousand times before, and usually better. The stronger of the actresses (including Harris) wisely avoid nudity, the rest of the cast is undistinguished, and the less I have to say, the less you have to bother reading. You've been warned; this is boredom viewing only, fit only for indiscriminate adolescents with nothing better to do with their time, another strike against my local library's video buyer.


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