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HughBennie-777

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50 reviews in total 
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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A Superb Effort in Reviving The Spaghettis of The 60s, 4 July 2015
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A welcome yet unimaginative take on your average revenge western, shot in Spain.

The script lines up a domino gang of killer-rapists to be exterminated by our hero. The authentic Tabernas and Almeria locations are beautifully captured in Olivier Merkx's cinematography and there is a cast of memorable faces. Most accompany decent performances and fulfill their roles. There are some well-shot action scenes, luckily free of any overly-clever gun- play of the spagehtti western genre. Directors Tanner Beard and Russell Cummings are also bold enough to include modern segments of atmosphere and surreal moods. These are the movie's highlights.

Lead Crispian Belfrage, as the protagonist, sports a strange accent and his early dirt-farmer scenes stretch credibility. He seems incapable of growing crops or doing much beyond hammering nails. This, until his wife's murder transforms him into a steely avenger.

The nasty gang of killers are exceptional, with Tanner Beard, himself, and his wretched crew filling the boots of earlier spaghetti hoods nicely--from Mario Braga to Lee Van Cleef. Both Aaron Stielstra and Ken Luckey are standouts.

The multi-artist score boasts an impressive Morricone song, but the original soundtrack pieces by Stielstra and others provide the movie some much needed depth and ominous atmosphere. Chris Casey also provides a thrilling action piece that deserves mention.

Overall, a movie that is fast and exciting, yet remains too unwilling to adopt a more imaginative story. This doesn't free it from its many cliché's. Still, check it out!

2 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Redeemed By Acting & Sharp Visuals, 29 June 2015
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Horror movies today survive on effects budgets and the number of graphic deaths on screen--unfortunately. But bad acting is death. To see bad acting in a film of any genre is death, this because the audience immediately doesn't believe the behavior they're seeing. Luckily this movie doesn't discount that important fact.

Here, the cast is very strong and they assist the mediocre story past its dubious outcomes and character motivations. The zombies who run rampant are eclipsed by a cast of humans more messed up and nasty than most. Aaron Stielstra (as a demented, sadistic warlord) is not to be forgotten, as are attractive leads Roberta Sparta and Marius Bizau, both lending gravity to the usual doomed zombie escape- plans. Desiree' Giorgetti is memorable as the movie's damaged mute prisoner.

Despite some melodramatic music pieces and the fact that the protagonist seriously lacks Mommy skills--due to the script--the movie has an excellent pace and is beautifully photographed. Carlo Diamantini's makeup is to be applauded, as well. Some dodgy locations may bewilder viewers accustomed to seeing familiar American sights, but the overall nightmare-fantasy quality to the movie will hopefully silence continuity geeks. Geeks who should be grateful for the acting, rather than squealing about occasional weird-looking license plates.

Overall, a strong and vivid flick. But without its equally vivid cast, may not have survived exile to the Walmart bin. Check it out!

3 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
A Welcome Effort In A Plundered Genre, 26 June 2015
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Finally, a much-abused and disgraced genre is given some respect. And ZM2 creates effective suspense without compromising on shock value and copious, disgusting gore. Sturdy performances (especially Dan van Husen, Aaron Stielstra, and Andrew Harwood Mills) mark this a WWII horror-thriller which supplies more than screaming and unwatchable characters who behave with minimal logic. The moody, superb cinematography and production design only complement the project. A worthwhile effort which will please fans of gritty war drama and splattery spectacle alike. Directors Ristori and Boni deliver. Bullseye.

Cross Cut (2015)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Fredianelli Delivers!, 9 June 2015
7/10

Director Michael Fredianelli's loony, abstract comedy *splrrrrches* off the screen and throws enormous caution to the wind. This hopefully liberates the movie from post-modern geeks, yet may alienate fans of Fredianelli's linear dramas about rape and characters who subjugate one another to copious amounts of abuse with no redemption in sight. The director does include one on screen sandwich being made for film professors still seeking academic tenure through Fredianelli's work.

Some flaws threaten to break the momentum--bad acting, unforgivable and unlicensed repetition of Miles Davis on the soundtrack, and a middle section which suffers from pace and sound issues; likely the result of breathtaking stolen locations, from the frozen tundras of northern California to Vegas. But the movie's last half blossoms with hilarious new faces. There's also a 3rd act plot development which promises (and delivers) laughs and shocking, cathartic violence along the lines of "Exterminator 2". Aaron Stielstra provides the original funk score sopping wet with gurgly beats, bass lines, and squishy melodies commonly associated with sea beasts. Fredianelli, himself, is memorable, tragic, yet hard to watch as a swindled actor--as are Maralynn Adams and Jeremy Koerner. Truly funny moments come from Matt Singer and Shauna Richardson as desperate casting personnel, with Mike Dinsmore and Vanessa Leigh creating gut-wrenching horror as an acting duo who receive undue celebration. Still, it is the presence of the film's canine protagonist Martini who induces the most teardrops. This dog sustains as much on screen cuteness as any 1970s Disney mammal, and erases most unclean devotion to computer animated garbage like Finding Nemo.

Fredianelli's often clever camera-work supports the movie's cheerful design, while startling climate change lends considerable dramatic impact to the finale and Fredianelli's attack on filmmakers in general. Here, the satire is more pointed and not so tantrum-like. Furthermore, the always welcome doo-doo humor carries symbolism worthy of Tarkovsky and simultaneously packs plenty of lovable grotesque detail in its sound design.

A delightful, imaginative (and vulgar) romp. In this viewer's opinion, Fredianelli's best comedy since The Minstrel Killer.

Halloween (2007)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Wretched, 5 October 2013
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An enormous, agricultural-sized pile of hobo discharge. It proves that Mr. Zombie is a proud pioneer in the genocide campaign to destroy the already hospitalized horror movie genre, this with an obnoxious cast of buck naked women and other victims who simply die on screen for over 90 minutes. The back-story involving Michael Myers as a product of cartoonish white trash (and a pet-killer) removes all levels of terror and suspense from the original film's biggest unanswered question. Why does the kid started killing people in the first place? Because his Dad called him a queer? Unwatchable and insulting. The only scary element to this movie is the grade-school protagonist's nauseating presence.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Bilge Water from the Bottom of the Rom-Com Boat, 5 October 2013
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The equivalent of porn, except here the bouncing buttocks and close-ups come in the form of privileged, disgusting old people yuppies who behave like hormonal teenagers, struggling with their sex and relationship issues. To see Diane Keaton play such a twitchy, desperate, unintelligent woman alongside Jack Nicholson's creepy 60-something lech--who is supposed to be cute--then expect the audience to celebrate their whiny asses falling in love? Enough to make teenage girls commit suicide at the thought of getting older. A wretched airplane movie that confirms that director Nancy Meyer is not only anti-female but the Antichrist.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Wretched Insult to Female Film-Makers, 25 June 2013
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

My journey into Rom-Com Hades is a short one so far, but I've seen enough of the genre to determine this movie the worst. To begin with, the movie's premise and nauseating characters are bad enough for their insulting lack of charm or logic. Dimwit Debra Messing hires male gigolo Dermot Mulroney for $6000 to accompany her to a family wedding, but it gets worse. Do male gigolos even exist, excluding jail-bait for homosexuals in sexual tourist spots in Tangiers or Thailand? Whatever. Every repellent bridesmaid, jilted ex, bumbling parent, in-law, etc. embody bug-eyed cartoons with awful clothes and mannered acting choices. Messing's hair is the putrid color of Orange Crush. Who designed this flick, anyway? In fact, the whole movie shares one color scheme, which seems to be Flight Attendant Uniform, and this best epitomizes how the movie's smallest details make its biggest flaws even worse. Add the rip-off locale of England (to remind audiences that, hey, "Four Weddings & a Funeral" took place there!), and it's not enough to distract one from all the other cliché's on screen. Lots of Michael Buble on the soundtrack and the obligatory Motown hits to keep the honkies in the Cineplex entertained—yet without unsettling them with music that sounds too much like actual negroes—and I'm sure the studio thought they had a hit soundtrack as well. They even afforded to buy a Maroon 5 ballad to stick into the movie's one sex scene! Lines of dialogue include, "I'd rather fight with you than make love with anyone else", and Mulroney looks so exceedingly uncomfortable in this swill you can almost forgive him. Almost. But not once his character falls in love with Messing's charm-less, spas of a 9 year old girl masquerading as a 20-something female (and the audience's object of sympathy). This another failure on the script's part, as I don't know how any woman could identify with Messing's creepy brat. The final insult the movie delivers: it was written, directed and produced by women. If this doesn't set back the dignity of both sexes a century or more, I don't know what could. Horrific.

Killer Joe (2011)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Far From a Friedkin Disappointment, 15 January 2013
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The director of 'The French Connection' is back in the Trailer Park Again", reads the tagline. One thing is for sure, Hurricane Billy pulls no punches (or kicks to the face, or sexual assaults) in this demented family biography, based on Tracey Lett's play, that, despite its overwrought, pulpy treatment as a film, features extremely realistic white trash. Compared to the pretentious, slumming of David Lynch into these territories, Lett's script (and Friedkin's direction) expose what is truly believable behavior behind the pit-bulls and linoleum walls of your average white slum. Performances across the board are great, but unfortunately, the extremity of behavior, especially during the movie's NC-17 climax, tends to overshadow the characters. Matthew McConaughey is compelling (and well-dressed), but his psychosis is far too transparent compared to Jim Thompson's sicko Lou Ford in "The Killer Inside Me". Brit newcomer Juno Temple is so befouled and unappetizing here, playing a pre-adolescent sex object, she looks sticky to touch. Thomas Haden Church should win an award for Worst Facial Hair, this compared to your average 13 year old Mexican gangster, or an indie rocker. Friedkin still manages to manipulate (see: brutalize) an audience like a pro, but one hopes that at his age, he's doing it sincerely and from the kindness of his heart like the good old days.

An Unapologetic Rhapsody in Dementia, 7 July 2012
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

NAPLES NEVER DIES…IT SHOOTS! "Unapologetic, brain-damaged hysteria" would adequately describe this new crime-comedy from the writer-director Aaron Stielstra. To call it post-modern would grant it bogus intellectual stature, to call it indie or punk lumps it in with more noisy, humorless, and pretentious cinema—though it is noisy. There is no real story worth following, nor are there answers to any questions. Stielstra is determined to ignore narrative coherency, which he announces at the beginning of the movie in a title card, and move right on with the characters. Luckily, the acting in the film is excellent and this rescues the movie from being just a dysfunctional shout-fest, as evidenced in earlier Stielstra films.

A disfigured Gus Benedict (Aaron Stielstra), returns from the first film, a victim of a botched suicide attempt. His mission is to wipe out the crime community of a hick town in the American southwest. We don't know why, and Benedict's "Exterminator"-style disposal of the bad guys seems more a familiar habit than any symptom of rage. Meanwhile, a corrupt FBI agent (Mike Malloy) and a white supremacist group Anal Pride (the movies most hysterical concoction)conspire to carry out as many of the script's double-crossings as they can before Benedict reduces them all to piles of bloody pulp. Enough plot.

What should satisfy B-movie aficionados and lovers of John Waters and Paul Morrisey is the sordid subject matter and damaged people on screen. For fans of powerhouse action-thrillers of the 70s and 80s (directors like James Glickenhaus, John Frankenheimer at his worst, or black-action masters like Arthur Marks, Ossie Davis, Barry Shear, plus the comedy of Rudy Ray Moore), there is the irreverent crime-movie action. For all its technical flaws (and there are many) and lapses into buggy-eyed, no-mans-land indulgences, the film does have a vision. And though it is apt to lose audiences over its manic style, it's no less punishing or manipulative than an Oliver Stone movie bloated with its own self-importance.

Also noteworthy is the exceptional jazz-funk score that wears its influences of Herbie Hancock, the DeAngelis Brothers, and Lalo Schifrin on its sleeve while delivering some unique grooves and surprising synthesizer compositions. Stielstra has scored many excellent soundtracks in the past decade, from westerns, like "The Scarlet Worm", to controversial horror such as Michael Fredianelli's shocking "The Minstrel Killer". But here the music possesses more maturity and imagination. Not to mention, subterranean melodies and squishy sea- beast cacophony.

Lastly, without gushing too much about a movie that has received a criminally small amount of screen-time--this before being banned in Poland and the Arctic Circle--one must applaud the supporting cast and their dynamic performances. For the amount of execrable bad acting visible in both Hollywood blockbusters and popular television these days, its refreshing to see such a spirited ensemble both embody the dementia in the script and characters, and suffer such awful deaths with little dignity.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A Western That Fights Dirty, 26 May 2012
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Director Michael Fredianelli's western shows a lot of guts to present characters this unlikable, yet still insists you empathize with their ickiness. Of course, none of this would be achieved with B-movie actors, and, luckily, the principle cast here is exceptional. One look at the plot, involving an unstable gunfighter who trains a young killer to rid a town of its delusional brothel-owner, dismisses any idea that the subject matter is going to be modest, and the actors evoke the kind of natural weariness and cold-blooded fury often "corrected" in more conventionally moral westerns. Most of the graphic, stylized content here comes in the form of gargantuan, spurting gunshot wounds and a lot of buck-naked prostitutes. Screenwriter David Lambert allows his often sociopathic characters to speak in dialogue both realistic and humorous, and with leads like Aaron Stielstra (as the shootist Print) spaghetti western veteran Dan van Husen, and the commanding presence of Montgomery Ford on screen, there's more than enough brooding on screen to sustain both sarcasm and menace for the film's 90 minutes. The vivid cinematography gives a blighted look to the many seedy locales, this despite a low budget. $25,000? A western made for that today in Hollywood could barely improve on an interiors-only moral fable like Randall Heller's "Tolerance". Again, the film-makers overcome most production obstacles, though in a few places the pacing is draggy. But considering the plot deals with a talkative villain (van Husen) who co-stars alongside so many other talkative villains (Print even has his own deranged voice-over), the action-packed gunfights and ass-kickings make up for it. Solid soundtrack by Stielstra features traditional folk music as well as demented instrumentation, both creating the proper ambiguity and dread which support the movie's ending. Film also features great cameos by a jellyfish and a giant sow.


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