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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
This is the first movie in the popular film trilogy based on the popular books by J.R.R. Tolkien and it is nothing short of magnificent. Peter Jackson has cut a few elements out of the book in order to move the story along, but the film doesn't really suffer due to their exclusion. The acting is first rate all around, with notable performances from Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan and Christopher Lee. The special effects are still astounding nearly ten years later and I don't think that the movie will age poorly. The battle which takes place during the opening narration is an example of how CGI can greatly enhance a scene when done properly, and this examples such as this one repeat themselves throughout the course of the film. This is truly some of the best use of CGI I've ever seen and is far more believable than the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Overall this movie should be seen by everyone as an astounding piece of art, as this is far more than just summer popcorn entertainment.
L'altro inferno (1981)
The Other Hell
Another pointless and mostly boring film from Italian schlock director Bruno Mattei. The movie itself is a mess. The plot isn't very coherent and it is often hard to discern exactly what is going on most of the time (or what the whole point of the movie is). It also lacks any real tension or scares throughout most of the movie and just falls into a boring monotony of nonsense. The Goblin soundtrack just sounds very strange and out of place here. Maybe because it isn't really an action film and the setting just isn't right for the synthesized music. The only thing I can say about the movie that isn't at least somewhat negative is that I was entertained by the movie's ending. The acting (albeit very over the top) wasn't the worst I've encountered in an Italian horror film either. Bruno Mattei himself seems to almost disown this film in an interview on my DVD copy so you know that this has got to be pretty bad.
Zombi 2 (1979)
I had to watch this movie a few times before I realized that it wasn't that bad of a film. I knew all about the financially motivated origins of the movie, and I think that kind of put me off originally. When I re-watched this movie I tried my best to put any notions of it being a "Dawn of the Dead" cash-in to rest. The acting isn't anything special, but it is kind of hard to tell since the dubbing on my copy is really bad. The story really has more in common with the older style zombie films that dealt with voodoo such as "White Zombie" and "I Walked With a Zombie". The special effects are the best thing here, and they are allowed front and center for a good portion of the movie's exciting finale. In my opinion, this movie has better SFX than Romero's "Dawn of the Dead". Overall, this movie is actually quite good once you get past the fact that it is kind of a ripoff.
A very cheesy early 80's horror movie, and in 3D no less. I've never seen the 3D version of the film but I honestly don't think it would make watching this any better. The main problem with the movie is that it is quite boring. Demi Moore does a good job here, but she is one of the only actors that is halfway decent. Of course nobody watches these kinds of movies to see good acting anyway, so what about the title creatures? They aren't that good either unfortunately. Stan Winston did the effects for this movie and apart from one or two scenes (especially the saloon owner's demise) it doesn't look like he tried very hard on this one, although the lack of funding probably didn't help either. Overall, I would not suggest this movie to anyone unless they really love cheesy Roger Corman flicks. Really, really cheesy Roger Corman flicks.
Slugs, muerte viscosa (1988)
This is a mildly interesting late 80's gore fest featuring some nasty slugs with a taste for human blood. If you can get past the ridiculousness of the whole thing you might actually get some minor enjoyment out of this. The acting is awful and the plot is simply there to hold the movie together between gory slug attacks, but the movie isn't a complete waste of time. The special effects are actually quite good, and the gore is well done. It reminded me of the remake of the Blob, probably because of the sliminess of it all. All in all, you could certainly do worse with an hour and a half of your time, but I wouldn't suggest seeing this movie unless you've got a strong stomach and are into this sort of thing.
King Kong (1933)
After 76 years and 3 remakes this movie is still my favorite of the King Kong films. I enjoyed Peter Jackson's remake (not so much the 70's one), but this one has the advantage of being the original, plus having loads of charm contained within the brilliant special effects of Willis H. O'Brien. The plot is universally known, so to explain it here would simply be redundant. The pacing of the movie is tighter than Jackson's film as well, and the acting is of the appropriate nature for a film of this type. King Kong spawned a whole genre of imitators, some of which I enjoy better than Kong itself, however none of them can claim the classic status of this film. Highly recommended to any fan of adventure films or fantasy films.
Fear No Evil (1981)
Fear No Evil
Wow, this is an absolute mess of a film. I have over 1,000 DVD's in my collection and I count this one as one of the very worst. You certainly get the idea that the director (who was a first timer) bit off far more than he could chew when he tackled this project. The plot is extremely incoherent, the acting is terrible and the special effects look like they came out of Xanadu. It is honestly hard for me to say anything good about this movie, I cannot think of anything redeeming about it. I guess some of the movie's punk-rock soundtrack (which features the Sex Pistols and Ramones among others) is interesting but is completely wasted in this film. Avoid this one if you can.
Dead Heat (1988)
This is a mostly interesting and entertaining mix of a horror flick with an 80's buddy cop movie. The acting by the two leads (Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo) is good, they manage to keep their partnership fun and enjoyable throughout, and the script is actually very funny at times. Darren McGavin, Key Luke and Vincent Price are welcome additions to a good ensemble cast. The special effects and make-up aren't bad either. Some of the set pieces (especially the Chinese restaurant) are done in a way that could only be done in the 80's and work. Overall, the film held my attention throughout, but I don't really think that it warrants any repeat views. It is one of those movies that you watch and enjoy, but forget about.
Hell of the Living Dead
Wow, this film is pretty much just a low-budget ripoff of Dawn of the Dead set in New Guinea. The acting is awful, the special effects aren't very impressive and the movie is sort of boring, but somehow I can't say that it isn't worth watching, if not for more than just a laugh. Some of the scenes involving the SWAT team are hilariously bad. Try to count the amount of times that they shoot the zombies anywhere but the head after being told numerous times that that is the only way to dispatch them for good. Some of the characters even berate other characters for doing this. Overall, while it certainly isn't a good film by any means, I've seen worse out of the Italian zombie sub-genre.
Underrated Horror Flick
Pumpkinhead is a criminally overlooked 80's horror movie that stands up there as one of my favorites of the entire decade. It is exceptionally well made by first time director Stan Winston who shows more skill behind the camera than one might expect from someone primarily known for special effects. Most of the lead actors do a very good job, with a few exceptions, however Lance Henriksen brings an enormous amount of credibility to the whole thing. I have great respect for character actors such as Lance and this is some of his best work. The creature itself is well conceived however it is hidden in shadows throughout most the picture which allows the actors and the story to take center stage, much to the film's benefit. Overall this is one of the best Halloween movies ever made as that is the perfect time of year to watch this movie. It's dark, it's Gothic, and it's damn cool.