A medieval reenactment troupe find it increasingly difficult to keep their family-like group together, with pressure from local law enforcement, interest from entertainment agents and a growing sense of delusion from their leader.
Two horror tales based on short stories by Edgar Allan Poe directed by two famous horror directors, George A. Romero and Dario Argento. A greedy wife kills her husband, but not completely. A sleazy reporter adopts a strange black cat.
The young executive of a publicity agency Henry Creedlow is a man that has repressed morbid thoughts and is walked over by most of his acquaintances: his wife is cheating on him with his boss and stealing his investments with help from his best friend; his housemaid is frequently stealing from his house and insulting him in Spanish; even his annoying poodle does not respect him. While in his daily morning routine listening to a talk show on the radio, he hears a man committing suicide live because he had been felt miserable and disrespected for a long time, and Henry feels impressed with the tragic story. The next morning, he wakes up to find his face covered by a white mask, changing his personality and letting him seek revenge against those who have humiliated him.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Like other GAR fans, I was troubled by his first trip straight-to-video -- how come Wes Craven's and John Carpenter's crap get the big stars and a chance to "open wide"? After seeing it, however, I'm sort of grateful, since this is no kind of blockbuster, no how. In fact, _Bruiser_ is so subdued, I can't imagine an audience in a arena-sized theater sitting still for its modest thrills.
Not as bad as the Ain't It Cool crowd seemed to suggest, but nowhere near his 70's peak, _Bruiser_ is another "could'a been" that has marked all of Romero's work since _Knightriders_ (except, of course, for the travesty of _Two Evil Eyes_, which was more like a "shouldn't'a been"). The performances -- except Peter Stormare, in his worst performance, keeping Romero's track record of at least one instance of teeth-grindingly abysmal acting (at least he's down to one these days) -- are generally fine and the storyline is compelling enough, if not heart-stopping. It ends pretty poorly, as well, setting itself up for...sequels?!?
Ah, but...this really is Romero's most accomplished piece of directing. For a guy who loves Michael Powell so much, I've always wondered why his films looked so lame. The chiariascuro meets the (climactic) garish here without clashing and the camera has more poise than anything in his career to date. Mind you, Romero didn't exactly make his name with poise, and a little more of his legendary crescendi of abject tension would have gone a long way to making this more successful.
So, GAR makes _The Phantom of American Beauty_...but it's surely worth renting all the same, without undue expectations. Here's hoping his project with _Knightriders_ own Ed Harris, _The Assassination_, gets a green light and lights a fire under this truly underrated director's truly capacious posterior, so that he may yet claim his rightful title as one of America's finest independent filmmakers.
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