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Joy (I) (2015)
1/10
Garbage
7 May 2016
This movie is complete and utter garbage.

This "true story" is completely fabricated and faker than the soap opera scenes that intersperse this movie. What's worse is the director knew he was making a garbage film but because it contained two stars he worked with in American Hustle he just kept throwing in references to other, superior films, such as Taxi Drive and Citizen Kane.

There is so much here that violates the laws of the suspension of disbelief, for instance, somehow the restroom has a secret door blocked by a few boxes that lead into the main manufacturing plant that holds the smoking gun that Joy's plans are being stolen.

Joy has to hire a plumber and then suddenly her bed-ridden mom who only watches soap operas is cavorting around the house with the Haitian plumber offering bowls of soup to Joy. For no reason. They just interrupt the scene.

Everything about this film is stupid and insulting. There are B-movies made in the 1950s that have more integrity and artistic merit. This whole film is a sell-out on the highest order and a class action lawsuit should be filed so that people who paid actual money to see this disaster could get some compensation.

There are many times where I, as the viewer, wished that Jenifer Lawrence had a bow and arrow and could go Katniss Everdeen on the rest of the characters.

Bradley Cooper seemed like he was reciting lines in a hypnotic trance. In fact, the whole cast seemed as if they were under some somnambulist's spell, robotically reciting lines that had been poured into their heads by some careless programmer, ambivalent of how his automatons performed. As if by some government worker who would get paid regardless of the quality of his work.

There is nothing redeeming here. There is no quality. There is no charm. Everyone was tasked to do a job and no matter how bad it was, they were just going to get through.
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A Year at the Top (1977– )
8/10
Awesome show I only dimly remember now
7 May 2015
Sometime back in 1977 this show came out as a summer replacement about two guys who get a music contract because the devil needs more souls.

I still remember, vaguely, two of the jokes, one of the Devil's victims try to warn Greg and Paul not to sign a contract with Mr. Hanover but she neglected to read the small print in her contract that stipulated the signee would not be able to warn anyone, so consequently when she tries to warn Paul and Greg not to sign a contract with Mr. Hanover, it comes out, "Don't sign a contract with a squirrel in your shorts."

And then there was the joke where an insecure Paul accuses Greg of stealing all his women because Greg is constant flexing, and Paul counts flexing as Greg moving his hand through his hair.

Over the years I have often thought of this show, but, apparently, I am the only one. I always wonder if Greg and Paul sign the contract and go to Hell or if they get out of it and foil Mr. Hanover. And now that Letterman is going off the air, maybe they can finally do a reunion show! Won't that be fun!
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Cool It (2010)
8/10
Finally an eco-wacktovist movie not mired in doom and blame
4 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this movie last night on Netflix. I had remembered reading an article about Bjorn Lomborg in one of the Popular Something magazines so I figured this would be something more than the propaganda of Birth of a Nation, Triumph of the Will, and Algore's I'm Super Cereal! So I decided to give it a twirl.

I don't necessarily agree with Lomborg across the board but it was so refreshing to see a movie about solutions instead of the usual misanthropic Neo-Christianity and doom and gloom of the eco-wacktovist movement.

And just like Europe was at the point of deforestation when coal suddenly showed up, it is important to look for rational alternatives, or better yet, additions to oil, coal, natural gas, and nuclear, instead of constantly carping on how we are "addicted to oil" which is probably the dumbest slogan the misanthropic eco-wacktovists have adopted yet. One might as well say we are addicted to healthy, happy lives.
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Doctor Who: Love & Monsters (2006)
Season 2, Episode 10
Interesting take on the outsider story
9 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This episode seemed to draw a lot from Clockwork Orange only instead of forcing the viewer to identify with a disgusting psychotic like Alex we get a sweet lost soul like Elton who loves ELO and is otherwise existing on the fringe of society.

This episode starts with a visual sight gag taken straight from Scooby Doo but of course, we take this with a grain of salt since it's Elton doing the telling and he's stumbled onto a scene that defies description so like the rest of us, he uses pop culture references to describe his reality.

Elton joins a Doctor Who fan club that sort of just turns into a club of people sharing their interests, baking, ELO, novel writing, etc. Then the serpent enters the Garden by way of Victor Kennedy, an elitist Comic Book Guy-type character who sucks all the fun out of the hobby group by taking the hobby seriously.

Soon after, club members go missing but the group does feel it's on the verge of finding the actual Doctor so they allow their seduction by this mysterious Victor Kennedy to continue. The closer they get, the more members go missing and we see the folly of trying to meet the Doctor. Of trying to make a beloved fictional character real instead of just enjoying our lives and our proper mates and jamming to ELO or whatever. Falling in love.

And that brings me to the only weak spot of the episode. When love is lost, one must let it go. It seems that the, of all people, would know this and wouldn't go and give an imitation life to Ursala. But oh well, it's only a story, and a very engaging one for the most part.
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Bad Dreams (1988)
7/10
From one dangerous mind control cult to another
17 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A young women survives one death cult's mass suicide only to awaken from a coma 13 years later in the clutches of an even bigger death cult, modern psychiatry. The death cult she escaped sought Unity via self-immolation while the death cult of psychiatry seeks to cause her to self destruct through the miracle of modern pharmaceuticals.

I didn't like this movie when I first saw it because the add campaign portrayed the Richard Lynch character as the next Freddy Kruger or Michael Myers but this is not really the case. This is really quite a smart psychological thriller with some gore and dark humor thrown in. Anyone who enjoys these elements will probably find something to like in this film.
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Hardware (1990)
When bad art attacks!
15 September 2004
Art, the creative stuff that used to be uplifting for the soul but now is only used as a weapon against the mass consciousness.

This movie is a wet dream for the type of artist who hates God and humanity.

Essentially, a post-apocalyptic folk artist creates a rustic tin man who comes to life and tries to kill her but ends up killing most of the rest of the cast instead.

So, it is like the art itself becomes the ultimate teed-off critic who tries to kill the bad artist who gave birth to such deformity to begin with. And secretly, isn't this what all bad artists want?

Based on most of the contemporary art I see, I can only conclude in the affirmative.

The movie itself is an uneven blend of predictable "the government and corporations are out to kill us" and late eighties computer fractal art. It takes a little while to get going, and after that, it's semi-watchable, presuming you don't have a good movie to watch.

I like imagining that, now that the movie is out on DVD, that the DVD's will start to coalesce, like the liquid metal terminator, into a giant robot and go after the people responsible for its tortured existence.

But that probably wont happen so if you must have a "technology/art run amok" movie, try a good one, like Videodrome or, even, Runaway, and save this one for when you're suicidally depressed. Or for when you want to be.
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The 4400 (2004–2007)
Unprecedented, how?
2 August 2004
After watching 5 hours of this TV series I am more an more annoyed at the announcements that this TV show is somehow unprecedented. I wish they would say how.

The show itself is spectacularly mediocre, while the acting is good, it is wasted on two-dimensional characters and bland story telling.

USA Network has two great shows right now, the Dead Zone and Monk, even when the stories for these shows are blah, the well developed characters make that forgivable. We don't tune into Monk for the stories, we tune in to spend time with Monk.

Here, I tune in because it is on before the Dead Zone and because there is the seed of a worthy idea that I hope will sprout. But week after week I am praying that the 4400 will be re-abducted and have some interesting personalty traits installed. Or maybe just the writers need to be abducted.

Or maybe it is the executives. Yes, the blandness has the feel of a bunch of non-creative suits telling a creative soul how the show has to be.

Well, I will probably keep watching this show until the Dead Zone goes into repeats before it or until it becomes just too painful, but if you are missing it you are missing something only mildly entertaining. Not awful enough to hate. Not great enough to love.
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Unspeakable (2002)
4/10
When lacking a point, move from set piece to set piece quickly
26 July 2004
It is always nice when a movie has a point. I hook to hang your hat one. But when it doesn't, the director should take a cue from the Italians and move from set piece to set piece with the greatest of speed.

The pluses: Lance Henriksen, Dennis Hopper, blood, gore, violence.

The minuses: lazy story telling, unengaging characters, too much "story" between the violent gory scenes.

If you like Dennis and Lance and gore and violence, it's worth seeing if you can FF to the good parts.

Otherwise you are wasting your time.

One tip to the writer: You don't need "story" if you're not going to have character development. It's like icing with no cake.
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Earth: Final Conflict (1997–2002)
5 year synopsis
5 July 2004
Year 1: near genius, entertaining, thought provoking.

Years 2-4: Mediocre, some nice short skirts from time-to-time but that's about all.

Year 5: Deus Ex Machina, and not in a good way. This season was a form of insanity. Watching the principles struggle through this silliness was very painful.

There are so many good TV shows today there's no point in watching this.

For older TV that blows away most of today's TV and movies check out:

The Prisoner (1967) The Singing Detective (1986) I, Claudius (1976)
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The Dreaming (1988)
Canadian Whalers Go Berserk and Taint Dreamtime
9 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Hi. This whole review is a giant SPOILER and you should read it before you waste ninety minutes of your life on this beautifully photographed yet tedious piece of story telling.

A bunch of Canadian whalers, at sea far too long without a hockey game to sate their blood-lust, land on Australia and kill all the Aborigines with sharpened hockey sticks and thus tainting the Dreamtime, which is the time of heroes, as you well know.

Skip ahead 400 years and an Australian archaeologist opens up a tomb that had sealed the demon spirits of the hockey players of the damned. Their spirits escape out and take over the body of the archaeologist, though he probably doesn't know it. And he becomes obsessed with trying to find the Hockey Stick of Thor.

Then other artifacts in the demon tomb are placed in a museum where decedents of the slaughtered Aborigines come to steal them. Or steals them back, as the political case may be. Then a very pretty girl who never speaks but cries very well sprays a fire hydrant at the museum's rent-a-cops, thus releasing the wrath of the tainted Dreamtime upon herself.

She is then taken to the hospital where a very pretty blonde doctor works on her. Then there's a few good bits that are worth seeing so skip ahead to the funeral of the blonde doctor's mother where we discover that she is the daughter of the Canadian hockey playing whaler possessed archaeologist.

The doctor has a few more hallucinations so she follows her da to the Island of the Dead, which is really more boring then it sounds. She finds her da chopping wood, because, I guess the actor didn't smoke and they needed him to be engaged in some activity when the doctor finds him. Then she delivers the best line in the whole movie:

I don't know. Its...lots of peculiar things have been going on and I don't understand them I've been seeing things and I haven't been seeing things and I've been seeing things and I...drawings and pictures and I don't understand and I'm scared and I don't know what to do because I don't understand what's going on.

And da tries to comfort her before he goes off and discovers the hockey stick of Thor, or whatever god or gods Canadian hockey playing whalers worship(ed). Then da really becomes possessed, just like in Thor comic books, and he kill everyone on the Island of the Dead in the most boring and tedious way imaginable. Except for his daughter, who he tries to rape.

There. Now you can watch a different awful movie. Or put in South Park again. You know you want to.
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Excellent performance by James Woods
31 March 2003
I haven't seen all the movies he's been in, but this is the best James Woods since Citizen Cohen, I think.

The movie itself is compelling and is told in flashback form from I haven't seen all the movies he's been in, but this is the best James Woods since Citizen Cohen, I think.

The movie itself is compelling and is told in flashback form from September 11. It emphasis Giuliani's love for the law and for New York City.

As an American, it was hard to watch without having my tears jerked but that yet, I had to watch.

The performances by the other actors and actresses were all good too. Some people will say its a white wash but I felt it depicted Rudy Giuliani the man, his good side, his obsession with cleaning up NYC, hit temper, his marital infidelities, the horror of finding out his father was once arrested and jailed for armed robbery. They don't come much better then this.

Oh, I forgot, his love of opera. Its all in there.

I hope there will be a DVD release.
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The Ring (2002)
The Perfect Horror Movie
11 March 2003
The American adaptation of the Ring is the perfect horror movie, or at least as close to perfect as Hollywood has yet come.

The number one ingredient in a horror film is: Ta Da! The horror! And is logic and reason horrifying? No! Logic and reason are the opiates we impose upon the random chaos we call our lives in order to not succumb to the horror of the dream-like chaos our lives really are.

I think American horror is all too often comforting. Bad things happen, but there is always a way to rationalize it. There are a few American films that break this mold. When I watched the re-release of the Exorcist in 2000, seeing it for the first time without commercials, I realized that what made it so scary was the movie made no sense. There were suggestions of what might be going on with little Regan, but until late in the film, we are never really sure. And then there's no real reason a little girl should have to suffer like this.

This is the essence of horror. And this is what the Ring offers! I was amazed and highly disturbed as I watched this film. The film is a nightmare on celluloid, or DVD in my case, and its Evil is not ashamed of being evil. In fact, it revels in it. The movie even toys with the expectations of the viewer.

At least, I was led to believe that things were winding down to a disappointing Spielbergian ending, but then Zap-Zot-Zowie, the film smacks me in the face with a wooden chair. And I never even saw it coming.

I haven't seen the Japanese original yet, but I look forward to it. If you have read this far in my review and haven't seen the movie yet, shame on you. You are cheating yourself out of a virtual nervous breakdown.
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Supernova (I) (2000)
Space is vast. Very vast. And thirsty.
7 December 2002
I think if this movie has a message, then that message has to be that space is a very big place. And that in this very big place called space its important to make space ships out of stronger materials then glass.

The hero of this film is a bottle of pear brandy that bestows immortality on all who drink from it. The main bad guy is a giant bottle of anti-pear brandy that bestows super human strength and insanity on all who drink from it. In fact, the evil bottle is purple which is the color of royalty and madness, so that's a dead giveaway.

The ending is kind of ambiguous, with the bottle of pear brandy destroying the bottle of anti-pear brandy, but in doing so, it poisons the well that all souls drink from. It is sort of suggested that the bottle of pear brandy won the war and everything will be okay, but that could just be the easy Hollywood ending and not what would really happen if two pear brandy titans slugged it out.

So this is a deep movie and probably takes a pear brandy theorist to fully comprehend.
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Gargantua (1998 TV Movie)
3/10
Recipe for Enviro-Wacktovist Stew
10 November 2002
Take one pound of stale hippie.

Liberally add elements of E.T., Jurassic Park, Godzilla, and the Courtship of Eddie's Father.

Add a Baldwin for flavor, does not need to be a Baldwin Brother.

Simmer for two hours over basic cable.

Illegally dump off-shore.

Mutates three.
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Mech Commander 2 (2001 Video Game)
8/10
Good game, average plot
13 August 2002
Mechcommander 2 is a tactical strategy game that chronicles the intrigues of three clans vying for control of a planet called Carver V.

As a commander of a band of mercenaries, you will work for all three clans as the game progresses. Each clan will explain its motivations, but as a merc, my attitude has been "I don't care about your life story, you give me money, I'll blow up things for you." Annoyingly, the game does steer the story into a "fighting for the little guy is noble," but I'm a merc, not a politician.

The story is told through communications with your employer, mostly in-between missions, and a series of McLaughlin Group/CNN type clips of talking head, debating/reporting on the developments on Carver V.

There is no traditional base building, but you can take over various enemy installations, such as supply depots and turret controllers. After taking over supply depots, you have points/money that can be used to fly in repair trucks, rigs that salvage fallen 'Mechs, and various other trinkets.

A good deal of the fun is in refitting your 'Mechs to match your pilot's special skills, which they gain as they are promoted. Promotion is somewhat of a mystery to me as some pilots I take on every mission and they never get promoted, while others get their promotions after a salvage rig flies them in after all the shooting has stopped.

The game has four skill levels, from easy to hard. I find normal challenging enough. The user interface could use some work. You have 'tween mission saves and in-mission quick saves. In order to load the quick save, you have to start the mission and after that loads, you can select the quick load. And loading is anything but quick on my aging PIII/Voodoo 3 rig.

I've never had much interest in the whole 'Mech thing before this game, but now I must admit, my imagination is fired. If such contraptions actually existed, it would be my career goal to pilot one. Especially one with limitless ammo, like you can play it in this game.
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Prey (1998)
Another in a long line of TV shows the abandoned by their networks
8 August 2002
This is exactly the kind of show that doesn't belong on network TV. After the Dark Shadows revival, Stephen King's Golden Years and a few other great series that get moved around, then dropped, then practically forgotten, ABC should have known better.

For some reason, these types of shows just work better in syndication. They show them a couple of times a week. The audience usually knows when to find them. And sometimes they are on multiple cable channels.

This show had an attractive cast, an interesting mystery/sci-fi concept, and its story was executed quite well for the most part. Of course it was going to fail on a major network!

Stick to the stupid reality/game show format guys. Nobody wants quality. But if you are going to make another one of these, then for Pete's sake, promote the Hell out of it. Give the production team a three year contract. And have a back-up outlet to sell it to when it bombs in Prime Time. And it will bomb in Prime Time.
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Relaxing Travelogue
6 August 2002
If you've never been, this travelogue is the next best thing to a Hellish holiday. You'll meet the natives, sample the local cusine, and participate in a local sporting event, among other things.

If you're a person of some means, you'll be on the phone with your travel agent before the end. The rest of us will just have to be content with our dreams.
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Monk: Mr. Monk and the Candidate: Part 1 (2002)
Season 1, Episode 1
Pretty good TV movie
19 July 2002
I really liked this first episode of Monk and hope that its lasts a few years. Adrian Monk is sort of like Columbo taken to such an extreme, he is unable to function alone. Luckily, he is aided by his nurse, Sharona who sees her self as Lois Lane, but reminds me more of Sister Stevie from Father Dowling Mysteries.

Sharona is a single mom with a son who is either a genius, or just appears to be a genius because he is just smarter then all the adults in his life. Which is a pallor trick when you live in San Francisco. I would say he is probably a genius if he is that smart and attends public school.

Fans of Sci-Fi's First Wave will be pleased to find Crazy Eddie working as a mayor's aid who mistakes Oreos for homemade cookies.

Hopefully, the regular TV show will continue to be as much fun as the first movie, but with less commercials. And more Crazy Eddie.
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Moulin Rouge! (2001)
2/10
All the effects of a hangover without any of the fun
16 June 2002
This movie claims to be dedicated to the bohemian ideals of truth, beauty, freedom, and above all else, love. It is probably dedicated to these ideals because it is so utterly bereft of any of them.

Truth -- it is a work set in 1899, yet its music comes from modern day pop songs. If you want to see an original, good musical, see the episode of Lexx entitled Brigadoom.

Beauty -- To paraphrase Wendell Lawson (only because I can't find the exact quote): It looks like something Walt Disney threw up.

Freedom -- Okay, maybe there is some semblance of a yearning for freedom in this film, but I can't really tell.

Love -- If your idea of love includes manipulation, coercion, deception, and mammon, then it has it in spades.

Okay, I don't know anything about bohemians, and I don't really care, but if you want to see a film that embodies real ideals of truth, beauty, freedom, and above all, love, then see Life is Beautiful.

But, if your goal is to slosh your brain around without consuming alcohol, this will get you a hangover sized headache within twenty minutes.

Whatever you choose, good luck!
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My god! Its full of pre-rendered goo!
11 June 2002
No matter what you've heard about the technology, its not worth the abuse to your brain to sit through all the enviro-wacktovist propaganda. For those who think we'll look back at this beautifully rendered pretentious mess a decade or three from now as some sort of milestone, I would remind you that they said the same thing about This Island Earth back in 1954.

Today, we look back at that film and laugh, with the help of our robot friends Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, along with Mike Nelson and Dr. Forrester. Which is probably the best thing that could have happened to that move. And it would be the best thing that could happen to this movie.

About the only positive thing I can think to say about this good intentioned mess of a film is, at least its not anime. Say! That wouldn't be a bad tag line.
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Vanishing Son IV (1994 TV Movie)
Lame Retrospective of First Three Movies
17 May 2002
In the mid-90's, Universal embarked on a television experiment called Action-Pak, if I recall correctly. Each week, they would show an action movie, some based on other Universal properties, like Midnight Run and Knight Rider, and others new, like Tek War and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.

Vanishing Son was one of the better movies series and was popular enough to go onto a weekly syndicated TV series, along with Hercules. Unfortunately, near the end of the experiment, Universal must have been running out of money, because this movie is nothing more then a retrospective of the previous three movies. Maybe these retrospective things are great for the studios and actors, but as a viewer, I can't help but feel ripped off. It also sours the legacy of the previous three films which were all excellent.
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Good, but would have been better as a mini-series
1 April 2002
First off, let me say that Angus Scrimm is a National Treasure and any Phantasm movie is worth watching just for his performance.

The first two Phantasms were excellent, pure works of imagination that are unlike any other horror series. As for part 3, I've only seen part of it on Sci-Fi and as its not available yet on DVD, I don't remember it too well but presumably OblIVion takes over where that one left off...Mike is heading off into the wastelands and Reggie is pinned to the ceiling by a bunch of silver spheres.

The story has Mike once again trying to stop the Tall Man and Reggie trying to catch up with him. This time we jump through space, time and dimension to find the Tall Man's origins and get a glimpse of the future he has in store for the earth.

This is a fairly good installment but it seems like there's more story then fits into the ninety-minute format. It sort of reminded me of Stephen King's Dark Tower series and I think would have been more fun if there was more time to explore some of the story lines hinted at. But if you're a fan of the other films, there's no reason not to check this one out.
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Finally a parody movie that made me laugh
9 February 2002
When Airplane! and Top Secret came out, these type of parody movies were fresh and innovative, but they've since spawned countless imitators and even the Zucker/Abrahams collaborations started to get stale.

But I started watching Shriek on Sci-Fi tonight, expecting the worst but it started out funny. One of the early jokes involves the Killer chasing a girl round and round a kitchen counter. Then the phone rings, the Killer answers, hands the phone to his intended victim and waits impatiently for her to finish the call, pinging the knife to remind her of the business at hand. She then runs out of the house and smack-dab into a bug light, neatly disposing of herself and robbing the Killer of his kill.

Why I found all of this funny, I can't say, but it was. While the movie has its share of unfunny puns and overly obvious jokes, it shines in the stalking scenes as the Killer is consistently robbed of his prey.

The cast is probably culled from all those teeny-bopper shows I somehow manage to miss, such as Dawson's Creek and Roswell. At least that's where I assume they come from since the movie is filled with puns about such shows. The girls are all pretty hot while the guys are all pleasantly bland, except for Tom Arnold, who's only acting skill is his personality.

If you usually can't stand lame parody movies, you might find this one semi-tolerable. High praise, indeed!
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Unforgettable (1996)
Shoulda, coulda, woulda...
4 February 2002
This movie could have been a great Argento film, except for the fact that it was written and directed by someone else. So, instead, you have an entertaining diversion that you will never have to see again after you see it the first time. Some people would call that "economical" but I call it "distraction."

There's nothing wrong with distractions. Sometimes, they call to mind more pleasant experiences and sometimes they just help you pass the time, but its sad when you can see the potential a premise has, and its just not fully realized.

For some reason, this movie called to mind Cat O' Nine Tails, Bird with the Crystal Plumage, and Deep Red. All of them, including Unforgettable, have characters obsessed with solving a murder and all are built around an outlandish premise but whereas Argento uses his premises to introduce a myriad of bizarre and unforgettable characters all with something to hide as well as giving us a visual feast of graphic and sometimes outlandish murders, Unforgettable never allows any character to even share Liotta's spotlight.

In fact, it could be said that the main character in Argento's films is the spotlight, often times chasing shadows and sometimes illuminating the next victim for the killer. That actually sort of happens in Unforgettable, but since the spotlight is on Liotta instead of Liotta being the spotlight, its all together less interesting.

I highly recommend Unforgettable to people who may be new to Argento, thanks to the DVD revolution making so many of his films available for the first time in an uncut format, especially if said people would like some insight into just what they find so fascinating in his work.
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It's Alive (1974)
One of the scariest movies I never saw!
20 September 2001
I remember when this movie came out. It was terrifying! It gave me nightmares. One of the worst I ever had was where I was following those bizarre, stylized foot prints that were all the rage in the '70's to a bathtub and when I pulled back the shower curtain, baby claws jumped out at me!

And at the time, I didn't even see the movie. I wasn't even allowed to watch commercials for horror movies so there was no way my mom would take my nine-year-old butt to this show.

But I did see the TV commercial for this movie, and that alone was enough. It started out with Brahms' Lullaby, as played on a music box and a baby carriage on a Lazy Susan rotating from back to side. A voice said "the Davis' just had a baby, but they're not sending out birth notices because...It's Alive!" And by that time, the baby carriage was spun all the way around to reveal the baby claw.

I finally did get to see the movie in the mid-eighties and its not as good as what took place in my head. But until my head comes out on VHS or preferably, DVD, this will have to do, I guess, if you want to see monster baby movies.
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