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Satan's Playground (2006)
Feels Like A Long Long Gem From An Era When Horror Films Were Interesting!!!
I grew up watching hundreds of horror movies in my youth. And besides 'Malevolence', 'Satan's Playground' is the only other recent truly independently made movie that seems to capture the same vibe and feeling I had when I saw all those flicks as a young impressionable kid. It feels like a long lost forgotten nugget, plucked out of the early 80's and only NOW seeing release. In that respect alone, I love this flick.
It's hard not to geek out seeing Ellen Sandweiss back in the woods after all those years since THE EVIL DEAD. Sleepaway Camp's Angela has grown up into the beautiful Felissa Rose. And Ed Neal! Ed Neal from Texas Chainsaw made me smile the moment he came on screen and started acting nutty! I've seen and ENJOYED Dante Tomaselli's previous films, 'Horror' and 'Desecration', even with their "nightmare non-linear" style. But I can safely say that 'Satan's Playground' is by far his best, most polished film yet. And for the love of God, from what I read he didn't have a LOT of money to make this bad boy, yet he made a flick that looks like a million bucks!
Dante regular Christie Sandford steals the show. (And she's mute!) Just do a google search from images of her from this movie and tell me she's not a horror icon in the making?! If it's not the invisible monster in the woods that'll get this poor family, then it's the old lady and her creepy psycho kids. OR maybe the Satanists doing sacrifices out back! There's some creepy visuals sprinkled thru the entire movie.
Dante's off to a nice start with no end in sight. ('The Ocean' and 'SALEM' are in the works.) Even John Caprenter started out with 'Dark Star'.
Anchor Bay picked this movie up for a reason. It fits in perfectly with their catalog of the classics, such as Evil Dead & Halloween. Horror fans yearning to find that last old movie from that golden age of 80's horror that you never got the chance to see, rest easy. 'Satan's Playground' is here.
Earthquake: Scenic Route To Great Disaster
I'll tell you why "Earthquake" is one of my favorite movies, and should be a favorite for anyone who really hates dull, tedious, boring films. The big one doesn't hit the film until pretty much the middle point, about 53 minutes in. No surprise there, that's how most of these disaster epics work. The good ones though, they usually have some kind of suspenseful build up. Like in "Towering Inferno", you know those little sparks in the wastepaper basket are going to lead to trouble, but it's fun watching everyone run around.
Here you're subjected to probably one of the most pedestrian of build-ups: Chuck Heston's having an affair, maybe, blah blah blah. Richard Roundtree wants his motorcycle stunt to work. Who cares? George Kennedy's a cop who's seen too much, has to drink. Cry me a river. It just goes on and on, and pretty much by the time the movie hits the 53 minute mark you just want to grab one of these lame-ass characters and give them a good goddamn shaking! Don't have to though. Movie does it for ya. Job well done.
Saw II (2005)
Laugh Riot of the Year!
I thought the first film was just a big sick joke, an over the top gory horror-comedy, but it has nothing on this sequel. It's a better film than the first, but it's also probably the funniest film I've seen all year.
This is the kind of horror movie you have to go into with a sick sense of humor to really, truly enjoy. I have a sick sense of humor, and my friend joining me has a twisted sense of humor. I don't get why people would be so offended that people would find this kind of movie to be funny. It's so entirely over-the-top, from the acting to the over-stylized directing, to the saw-it-from-a-mile-away twist ending. You can't help but enjoy "Saw II" as a bloody, campy good time. And I don't write this because I think it's a bad movie. I just think I'm in on the joke the rest of you seem to missing out on.
From the opening scene (EYE won't give it away) to the final revelation, "Saw II" is hilarious, gory fun.
Aunt Rose (2005)
Twisted and Tense
Saw a screener of "Aunt Rose" (under the original title "No One Gets Out". The story will be very familiar to fans of "Last House on the Left", "Funny Games", or "House on the Edge of the Park". A group of real nasty criminals holds a family hostage and that ultimately turns out to be their biggest mistake (with a very cool supernatural twist, however.) While it treads familiar ground, "Aunt Rose" is definitely one of the better "70's revival" films I've seen in recent years. Writer/actor Joshua Nelson has written an excellent script, the dialog is never clunky, and he keeps the story moving nicely. The performances are miles ahead of what you usually find in low-budget horror. You feel honest to god sympathy for the tormented family. Newcomer Velocity Chylld is a standout, turning in a completely cold, brutal performance.
Solid brutal horror from start to finish.
Scary Movie 3 (2003)
A Pefect Example...
...that when you stop worrying about being just plain filthy and start caring about being funny you make a better comedy. I was not a huge fan of "Scary Movie", although it had it's moments. "Scary Movie 2" was just awful. A real disappointment. Then, I was not sure when I saw the Wayans weren't returning and the film was rated PG-13 if it would work at all. Finally caught the film last night and I laughed more 5 minutes of this sequel than I did during the others.
It was great to see that David Zucker can still make a really funny parody movie. It was even more refreshing to see an attempt being made to not just out-gross, out-filth the previous film, and simply focus on making a truly funny comedy.
The Wiz (1978)
Just Like a Broadway Show--from the Cheap Seats
I just watched this for the first time, I've was expecting a true spectacle of "bad" cinema. I was surprised to find there is a decent movie here.
Some people have remarked Diana Ross was too old to play Dorothy, OK, well, so was Judy Garland. True. There's really nothing wrong with this musical--The songs are excellent, performed by some great talents. The production design is spectacular (maybe a little dated, but still something to look at). The sets are a little nightmarish looking, true, but I liked that. I reminded me of "Return of Oz", a favorite of mine too. The real problem with this movie is the damn direction and cinematography.
What were they thinking? The Munchkin scene is not only lit horribly (too dark!), but all the musical numbers seem like they're just comprised of master shots. Very few close ups of dancers, other singers, and even main characters. During the "Ease on Down the Road" number Lumet has us staring at Diana Ross and Michael Jackson's back from far away in the distance for two minutes. It felt like I was watching this movie from the cheap seats. Thus, I always felt distanced from the characters and situations, and just couldn't get into the movie.
I read Sidney Lumet's book "Making Movies" and I remember him writing in detail about shooting to get proper coverage. What happened here?