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Main Entry: exclusion
Definition: expulsion; forbiddance
Synonyms: ban, bar, blackball, blockade, boycott, cut, debarment, debarring, discharge, dismissal, ejection, elimination, embargo, eviction, exception, excommunication, interdict, interdicting, interdiction, keeping out, lockout, nonadmission, occlusion, omission, ostracism, ousting, preclusion, prevention, prohibition, proscription, refusal, rejection, relegation, removal, repudiation, segregation, separation, suspension, veto
Antonyms: acceptance, addition, admittance, allowance, inclusion, incorporation, welcome
send to Coventry, to refuse to associate with; openly and pointedly ignore: His friends sent him to Coventry after he was court-martialed.
People from the music industry that I respect, idolize or just simply appreciate: Ennio Morricone, Amy McDonald, Daan, David Bowie, Therion, Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen, Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Joy Division, Bobby Darin, the Everly Brothers, Bobby Vinton, Gene Pitney, Herman's Hermits, The Hollies, The Animals, The Byrds, Donovan, Vargoth, Drudkh, Behemoth, Triggerfinger, Falkenbach, Finntroll, Einherjer, The Smiths, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, BB King, Ministry, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rufus Wainwright, The Allman Brothers Band, Johnny Cash, Paul Simon, Raymond Lefèvre, Children of Bodom, Volbeat, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Anathema, Velvet Underground, Norah Jones, Fatboy Slim, Moloko, Angelo Badalmenti, Sarah Brightman, Lady Antebellum, Enigma, Muse, Army of Lovers, Chris Isaak, Lesley Gore, Kasabian, Pearl Jam, dEUS, Mumford & Sons, The Subs, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Cuff the Duke, Pulp, Oscar and the Wolf,
People from the movie industry that I respect, idolize or just simply appreciate: John Saxon, Mario Bava, Joe D'Amato, George Eastman, Darren Lynn Bousman, Boris Karloff, Enzo G. Castellari, Bo Svenson, Fred Williamson, Antonio Margheriti, Klaus Kinski, Lloyd Kaufman, James Gunn, Rob Zombie, Sid Haig, Matthew McGrory, Karen Black, Dennis Fimple, Irwin Keyes, Tom Towles, Bill Moseley, Wolfgang Petersen, Nicol Williamson, Fairuza Balk, Piper Laurie, Philippe Mora, Tom Holland, Ronny Cox, Lucio Fulci, Christopher George, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Catriona MacColl, Fabio Frizzi, Nicolas Cage, Todd Farmer, Tom Atkins, Paul Verhoeven, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Ray Wise, Stuart Gordon, H.P. Lovecraft, Jeffrey Combs, David Gale, Barbara Crampton, Fernando Di Leo, Joe Dallesandro, Terence Fisher, Anton Diffring, Hazel Court, Christopher Lee, Robert Stevenson, William Girdler, Rebecca De Mornay, Mako, Ti West, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, David Carradine, Roger Corman, Adrian Hoven, Monte Hellman, Warren Oates, Harry Dean Stanton, Steve Railsback, Ed Begley Jr., Peter Fonda, Nathan Juran, Lionel Jeffries, James Glickenhaus, Ken Wahl, Joaquim de Almeida, Sam Peckinpah, William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson, Edmond O'Brien, Kurt Raab, Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani, Karl Freund, Peter Lorre, Colin Clive, William Lustig, Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Tom Savini, Charles B. Pierce, Robert Wise, Fred Dekker, Fritz Lang, David Hemmings, Michael Ironside, Jan-Michael Vincent, Bette Davis, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Victor Buono, George Kennedy, Charles Bronson, Richard Fleischer, Elmore Leonard, Paul Koslo, Michael Winner, Brian Garfield, Lee Marvin, J. Lee Thompson, Riz Ortolani, Yul Brunner, Eli Wallach, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Michael Crichton, James Brolin, Mel Brooks, arry Cohen, Michael Moriarty, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Robin Hardy, Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, Herbert Lom, Udo Kier, Michael Reeves, Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Dick Maas, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Paul Naschy, Paul Morrissey, Truman Capote, Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, David Niven, Elsa Lanchester, Peter Sellers, Gene Wilder, Patrick McGoohan, Herb Freed, Richard Kiel, John Landis, Tim Curry, Simon Pegg, Jenny Agutter, Frank Oz, Dario Argento, Quentin Tarantino, Everett De Roche, Stacy Keach, Russell Mulcahy, Brian Trenchard-Smith, Donald Pleasence, George Peppard, Simon Wincer, Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, Gary Sherman, Faith Domergue, Alexandre Aja, Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, Eli Roth, Ishirô Honda, Greydon Clark, Cybill Shepherd, Neville Brand, Vincent Schiavelli, Martin Landau, Jack Palance, Alan Rudolph, Jonathan Demme, Pam Grier, Mark L. Lester, Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Kilpatrick, Don Dohler, Everett McGill, Corey Haim, Gary Busey, Jake Busey, Charlton Heston, Lorne Greene, Walter Matthau, Peter Bogdanovich, Woody Allen, John Milius, Franco Nero, Crispin Glover, Dennis Hopper, Dick Miller, Barbara Steele, Armando Crispino, Sergio Grieco, Helmut Berger, Lee Van Cleef, Robert Forster, John Huston, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., George Miller, Mel Gibson, Robert Rodriguez, George Hilton, Kane Hodder, Michael Madsen, Tony Todd, Nicolas Winding Refn, William Grefe, Cirio H. Santiago , Joe Dante, Don Coscarelli, Angus Schrimm, Tobe Hooper, Tiffany Shepis, Brad Dourif, George P. Cosmatos, John Boorman, Stephen Boyd, Tommy Lee Jones, Rod Steiger, Brian DePalma, Gunnar Hansen, George A. Romero, Simon Boyes, Adam Mason, Jack Arnold, M. Emmet Walsh, James Stewart, Darren McGavin, Kathleen Quinlan, Jack Lemmon, Robert Foxworth, Olivia De Havilland, Michael Pataki, Jerry Stiller, John Carradine, Julian Sands, Freddie Francis, Don Sharp, William Castle, Bill Rebane, John De Bello, Terry O'Quinn, Peter Sykes, Wes Craven, Michael Sarrazin, Lewis Teague, Yaphet Kotto, Sergio Stivaletti, John Phillip Law, Michele Soavi, Umberto Lenzi, Anna Falchi, Lon Chaney, Sergio Martino, Edwige Fenech, Ursula Andress, Michael Sopkiw, Edmund Purdom, Hal Yamanouchi, Barbara Bach, Cameron, Mitchell, Alberto De Martino, Ernesto Gastaldi, Maurizio Merli, John Steiner, Mel Ferrer, Barbara Bouchet, Marty Feldman, Tomas Milian, Bruno Mattei, Lamberto Bava, Luc Merenda, Anita Strindberg, Luigi Pistilli, Ivan Rassimov, Sergio Corbucci, Tito Carpi, David Warbeck, Luciano Pigozzi, Gianfranco Giagni, Florinda Balkan, Rosalba Neri, Mel Welles, Dagmar Lassander, Neil Jordan, Walter Huston, Ray Bradbury, Gregory Peck, Orson Welles, Bert I. Gordon, H.G. Wells, Ida Lupino, Kirk Douglas, David Lynch, Eddie Romero, Bela Lugosi, Al Adamson, Tor Johnson, Edward D. Wood Jr, David Cronenberg, Christopher Walken, Tom Skeritt, Martin Sheen, Dino De Laurentiis, James Wan, Anthonhy Perkins, Curtis Harrington, Julie Harris, Ornella Muti, Ray Lovelock
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Isle of the Dead (1945)
Karloff the Greek versus the Plague
Although not nearly playing in the same league as some of Val Lewton's other horror productions for RKO Radio, like the stupendous "Cat People" or "The Body Snatcher", "Isle of the Dead" is nevertheless still an extremely atmospheric chiller with a solid plot and a few moments of unforgettable fright! Set in Greece during the final months of the Balkan Wars in 1912, the film stars the almighty Boris Karloff as the relentless, cruel and excessively disciplined General Nicholas Pherides. He gets trapped on a small cemetery island, together with six others, when there's a sudden outbreak of the plague. Pherides stoically insists that they must remain quarantined on the island, in order not to contaminate his soldier troops on the mainland. As the number of survivors shrinks, the superstitious housemaid hints that maybe it isn't the plague that is killing them, but instead the mythological Greek vampire creature known as Vorvolaka. She gradually even persuades Pherides that the local beauty Thea potentially forms a much bigger threat than the plague! The atmosphere is non-stop unsettling and bleak, but the undeniable highlights of the film involve a cataleptic woman in combination with a premature burial. The scenes in which the poor woman awakes and finds herself entombed, as well as the footage of her meandering around the island at night in a white gown are truly nightmarish. Mark Robson is clearly a less talented director than Robert Wise or Jacques Tourneur, but Boris Karloff carries the film effortlessly. The rest of the cast is unfortunately rather wooden, and it's a crying shame that the role of the naturally born uncanny Skelton Knaggs is so small.
Exactly whose "Obsession" are we talking about here?
Wait, I'm confused here. Exactly to whom is the titular "Obsession" referring to? I suppose it hints at protagonist Michael Courtland's firm believe that a young student-painter is the reincarnation of his beloved wife who got killed during a kidnapping. Granted, Courtland always stares rather eerily at the much younger Sandra and he's quite hasty to marry her, but he isn't *that* obsessed. I'm afraid that our director, Brian De Palma, suffers from a much bigger and more pitiable obsession, namely with the oeuvre of Alfred Hitchcock and perhaps even also with the desire to be seen as the Master of Suspense's ultimate successor! It's downright astounding how De Palma, with a little bit of help of writer Paul Schrader, blatantly copies "Vertigo", and borrows elements and ideas from other Hitchcock classics. In other words, there are several amazingly choreographed scenes and brilliantly unique camera angles in "Obsession", but we all know that virtuoso photography alone doesn't still make a good movie! This film has, at least as far as I'm considered, three major problems. In order from least to most irritating, they are: acting, lack of genre and pacing. Cliff Robertson is quite alright, but Genevière Bujold and especially John Lithgow are intolerably bad. Luckily there are only three lead characters in the film. I personally even don't understand how Lithgow still got assignments after this! "Obsession" is presented as a thriller, but the themes and subject matter honestly don't lend themselves for a suspense thriller. Throughout 95% of the running time, "Obsession" feels like a melodrama, and a truly dull one to boot. It only turns into a thriller with predictable revelations and perverted denouements during the last handful of minutes. Finally, the film is just too damn slow! The story already isn't very interesting, but the excruciatingly tame pace makes it even less endurable.
The Neptune Factor (1973)
Oh boy, that's a mighty big goldfish!
I think it's safe to state that I never, in my entire life, tried so desperately hard to like a movie; - yet failed. "The Neptune Factor" stood on my must-see since many years because there were several indicators looking positive and promising. I love adventure/disaster movies from the 70s. I worship films with aquatic monsters, regardless of how trashy and cheesy they look. Heck, I'm even on a personal mission to track down every single movie in which Ernest Borgnine starred. Well, if I'll ever achieve something in this lifetime, I sincerely hope it's discouraging other people to watch this piece of dreck! The simple and honest truth is that "The Neptune Factor" is a film of monumental, unsurpassable and indescribable dullness! I still don't fathom how the story of a deep-sea rescue mission, for a manned research lab lost due falling into an ocean floor crack following an earthquake, can possibly be this boring, and yet I just witnessed it with my own eyes. These people are supposedly racing against the clock to save their friends and colleagues' lives, so the very last things I expect are 10,000 scenes moving at sea-snail pace or characters endlessly looking at each other and sipping coffee. After a full hour of infuriating and talkative tedium, the four-headed submarine finally descends into the unexplored abyss and you subconciously develop a tiny bit of hope that the film might improve. Alas, "The Neptune Factor" instead becomes even more pitiable and imbecilic, because director Daniel Petrie begs us to believe that optically enlarged and utterly harmless sea animals (sea horses, anemones and even a god-damn goldfish) are viciously lurking, bloodthirsty monsters. How retarded do they think we are? Not even Walt Disney movies dared to pull this off! And as for you, Mr. Borgnine, I'm sorely disappointed!
What's deadlier than Charles Bronson? Charles Bronson with a bazooka!
Here's a fictional but potentially possible piece of dialogue between Charles Bronson and his agent like it could have taken place prior to filming "Assassination" in 1987. Agent: "Hey Charlie, they asked for you to do yet another numeric and insignificant action movie. This time you'll be a Presidential bodyguard. Are you up for it?". Charles Bronson: "Sure. I'm only 64 years old. I'm still fit and plausible enough to pass for a bodyguard". Agent: "Awesome, Charlie. Cross-reading the script, it'll be something with plenty of action by land, by sea and in the air!". Charles Bronson: "Sure. I'm only 64 years old. I'm still fit and plausible enough to crash motorcycles, steer jet skis, fire off bazookas and jump from helicopters". Agent: "Great! And you know what? Your character fools around with a hot young Asian babe and eventually even the Presidents' wife will fall for you". Charles Bronson: "Sure. I'm only 64 years old. I'm still fit and plausible enough to pass for a viral and hunky stud". Agent: "You're the man, Charlie!".
Please don't misinterpret the feeble attempt at humor written directly here above! I truly do worship Charles Bronson, and even if he would have made a hundred lousy action movies more during his career, I probably would have watched those hundred lousy action movies as well! Fact remains, however, that during the 80s, Bronson exclusively appeared in excessively violent but routine action vehicles that are long-forgotten and look heavily dated by now. "Assassination" (even the title is unremarkable) isn't an exception despite being directed by a former James Bond guy (Peter "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" Hunt) and featuring a handful of impressively staged stunt sequences. Bronson's character Jay "Killy" Killian gets assigned to protect the flamboyant new First Lady, who has the reputation of being a difficult and insufferable shrew. This initially feels like a degradation for an experienced veteran like Killian, but he rapidly turns out to be the right man for the job, as the notorious terrorist/hit man Eddie Bracken is on a mission to kill her. "Assassination" delivers in terms of straightforward an action-packed entertainment, with plenty of virulent chases and numerous explosions, but the plot is predictable, and Charlie too obviously acts on automatic pilot. At least I hope he enjoyed being able to fire off bazookas, because the rest of his stunts were clearly performed by much younger men. For Jill Ireland, Bronson's wife and frequent co-star, "Assassination" was the last film. She died from breast cancer in 1990, at age 54.
The Lost Boys (1987)
The 80s called. But only to state they are still inimitable!
It's actually very relevant to watch or re-watch a film like "The Lost Boys" in 2018, because we're currently at the heights of an era where horror stories taking place in (or bringing homage to) the 1980s are tremendously popular. Thanks to the success of shows like "Stranger Things" and movies like "It", almost every young and aspiring horror director wants his/her film to play in the eighties and feature that indescribably joyous atmosphere. Can't blame them, of course, because everything really was a lot better and much simpler back then. But anyways, it's films like "The Lost Boys" that truly make you realize that all these nowadays attempts to recreate the 80s will always just remain pathetic wannabes. Nothing, and I really do mean NOTHING, can beat the spirit and the vibes of an authentic 80s horror movie, and "The Lost Boys" is a stellar example to prove so. It's difficult to put into words what the exact differences are, but if you're old enough to have witnessed cinema in this era, or if you're a genuine fan of the horror genre, you'll definitely know what I mean.
By this tirade, I certainly don't intend to claim that "The Lost Boys" is a masterpiece of horror. On the contrary, I even think it's quite overrated and that many people only regard it so dearly because they saw it upon its initial release and thought it was the hippest, freshest and coolest product since Coca Cola Light (or Diet Coke, depending where you are from). Following a few script-rewrites, "The Lost Boys" allegedly changed from a vampire version of Peter Pan (with child protagonists) to a Californian pop-culture vampire flick with teenage and adolescent protagonists. Whatever it is supposed to be, director Joel Schumacher fools around with all the traditional vampire trademarks and puts them down as nihilistic biker punks with flamboyant hairdos and party animal lifestyles. Hence the legendary tagline "Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It's fun to be a vampire". The vampires' haven is the beach community of Santa Carla, where the town's carnival remains open 365 days per year and excessively oiled muscular saxophone players give away free open-air concerts. Santa Carla is nevertheless known as the murder capital of the US, as illustrated by the hundreds of "missing children" posters hanging all over town. We're supposed to assume that head vampire David (Kiefer Sutherland in an iconic role) and his gang are responsible for all these disappearances, but we actually don't ever see them murdering or abducting any victims. The main plot revolves on two brothers, Michael and Sam, moving to Santa Carla with their mother, following her divorce. Adolescent Michael is immediately drawn to David's cool vampire gang, whereas teenage Sam joins forces with the crazed Frog-brothers; who always hang out in the local comic book store and claim to be experienced vampire hunters.
Several aspects of "The Lost Boys" are undeniably fantastic and utterly cool, like Corey Feldman's OTT performance, the soundtrack, the hanging-from-the-bridge sequence and the explicitly gross vampire deaths during the climax. Other, and sadly more important elements, are downright disappointing, like the absence of tension or genuine frights, the lack of real menace coming from the vampire characters, the inefficient comic reliefs (like grandpa) and the expulsion of mandatory monster essentials. For example, since when can you become a vampire by sipping from a bottle instead of getting bitten? "The Lost Boys" remains a must-see for horror lovers and admirers of typical 80s cinema in general, but in case you're searching for a truly great alternative vampire gem, check out "Near Dark" which got released in the same year, 1987.
Dressed to Kill (1980)
Get in touch with your homicidal feminine side!
I have a bizarre love/hate relationship with the films of Brian DePalma, or at least with the ones he made between 1970 and 1985, prior to when he became overly commercial. Some titles, like "Phantom of the Paradise" and "Carrie", I find uniquely brilliant and they easily rank among my personal favorites of all times. Others, like "Body Double" or "The Fury", I find dull, pretentious and too desperately aspiring to resemble Alfred Hitchcock. It took me several years to finally watch "Dressed to Kill", just because it's De Palma's most blatant attempt to copy typical Hitchcock style and content trademarks, and also because it allegedly is an American version of the Italian giallo (which happens to be a dearly beloved horror sub-genre of mine). Frankly, I don't know what to think of "Dressed to Kill". I'm somehow convinced that it would have been long forgotten cult curiosity by now if it weren't for the fact Brian De Palma directed it. This is basically a much sleazier and audacious reworking of Hitchcock's "Psycho". Of course, the shocking impact of killing your lead heroine halfway into the film isn't so shocking anymore and the twist-ending also lost its surprise effect, so Brian De Palma (or better, Brian De Pervert) compensates for all this with overlong suspense mounting sequences that lead nowhere and gratuitous shower fantasy and masturbation footage. The cat-and-mouse scenes, for example in the museum or in the subway, are tense and very professionally photographed, but why so long? It feels as if De Palma is openly shouting out to his idol Hitchcock: "Look at me, Master of Suspense! Look how great I am!". I can see where the giallo classification is coming from, what with the razorblade as murder weapon and the targeting of lewd women, but personally I won't immediately include it in the genre. The acting performances are terrific overall, with special mentioning of Angie Dickinson in a courageous role and Dennis Franz as the cynical police detective.
Dead or alive? Faithful or adulterous? Sad or relieved? Make up your mind!
Last Friday night, upon checking the TV-guide and noticing this "Premonition" would be aired on some sort of women-orientated channel, my wife spoke the legendary words: "this looks like something we can both enjoy!". For you see, my wife is a fan of family dramas and Sandra Bullock movies in general, and she thinks that I love supernaturally themed thrillers and horror movies. I don't, actually, I love straightforward horror movies, and knew for certain that this wouldn't be the least bit interesting. But my wife is a fantastic person and I love her dearly, so I did what every regular family guy would do: shut up and watch the Sandra Bullock nonsense. And you know what? I'd be lying if I claimed that "Premonition" is a complete and utter waste of time! It's a heavily flawed, derivative and 200% forgettable drama-thriller, but we have all seen a lot worse and at least I wasn't bored.
Bullock depict Linda Hanson; a caring and family loving housewife who seemingly has it all: a nice stand-alone house, a hard-working husband and two beautiful, well-behaving daughters. One morning, however, the local Sheriff rings her doorbell with the devastating message that her husband Jim died in a car accident. Evidently, the rest of the day is a living hell, but when Linda wakes up the next morning, she finds Jim sitting at the breakfast table like nothing ever happened. The next day, he's dead again. The day after, he's alive. It takes a while before Linda realizes that the days of this hellish week don't come chronologically to her, but with the fragments that she remembers from the previous/upcoming days, she painfully discovers that her marriage wasn't so happy after all. "Premonition" is enjoyable for as long as you don't seek for logical clarifications or accurate continuity. This is the type of film where you will find plot holes and structural gaps if you search for them, so you better just go with the flow and accept the far-fetched script. Both director Mennan Yapo and Sandra Bullock try very hard for the film not becoming overly melodramatic and insert a few sinister (albeit bloodless) moments. The ending is weak, but still it could have been a lot weaker, so I'm not complaining too much. The small role of cult-faced Peter Stormare is pointless and unnecessary, though.
A Quiet Place (2018)
No one dared disturb the sound of silence
If you glance at the current IMDb rating, or quickly browse through the user comments and external reviews, you can't but assume that "A Quiet Place" must be the most brilliantly intense and original new horror movie of the past 10, 15 or perhaps even 20 years. I honestly don't know if the film deserves all the superlatives and standing ovations that it's receiving, but I'll easily admit that it's a very tense, absorbing and beautiful thriller with a couple of unforgettable moments of fright as well as emotion. The concept of "A Quiet Place" is original and innovative. If you really want to be historically precise, you could maybe state that the idea is somewhat similar to "Tremors" or inspired by "Day of the Triffids", but in the contemporary era of loud and visual effects driven blockbusters, it's quite unique to stumble across a genre film that primarily thrives on silent suspense and atmosphere. Around 2020-2021, the world is a post-apocalyptic wasteland with only a small number of survivors. It wasn't zombies or nuclear bombs that exterminated humanity this time, but instead a primitive alien monster race that cannot see, smell or sense. However, these creatures have an ultra-developed hearing capacity and relentlessly attach every sound or minor vibration they pick up. Judging by the old newspaper headings, it took quite a while before people realized they had to keep their mouths shut, and thus there aren't that many left. One family is still complete, though, largely because the oldest daughter is deaf-mute, and every member is fluent in sign language. Survival nevertheless remains challenging, even despite their remote farmhouse being equipped and prepared for every possible monster threat. They go through an immense tragedy together and face new ordeals as the mother is expecting another baby. How do you give birth without making a single sound? Being a veteran horror fanatic and advocate for the genre, I'm happy that "A Quiet Place" is so popular and well-received. Good to see that people, especially younger audiences, can still be impressed with basic but solid craftsmanship. One thing that director/lead actor John Krasinski does terrifically well is engaging the viewer. Whilst watching, you will be just as quiet and focused as the protagonists, and you're even likely to give angry looks to fellow spectators opening a can of beer, chewing too loud on their potato chips or making any other random noise. Compliant with the oldest, but still most effective rules of the horror book, the monsters largely remain an unseen but omnipresent menace. Only during the extended and action-packed finale, they are fully shown, and I must add they look fantastic! Think of a crossover breed between the legendary beasts in "Alien" and a cenobite from "Hellraiser".
The Boy (2015)
Creepy boy in a remote motel? "Psycho" did it better.
I'm honestly struggling to capture what the moral/main theme of this film might be. Wait, perhaps I got it now! If your young child grows up in a practically isolated geographical location, where you don't give him too much parental attention and allow for his that his best pals are roadkill carcasses, then there's a fair chance he'll turn into a little freak with maniacal tendencies and limited social skills. Wow, really? Thanks for the advice; I'll try not to let that happen to my own son.
Alright, I'm exaggerating perhaps, but there honestly isn't too much else to learn from Craig William Macneill's "The Boy"! Admirers and wannabe intellectual cinephiles might claim that the film gives a lesson in tension-building and character development, but that's hardly defendable. "The Boy" starts out boring, the entire middle-section is boring, and the climax is frustratingly boring! Since 1960, since Norman Bates in "Psycho" in other words, we already know that remote and ramshackle roadside motels aren't ideal places for the mental development of vulnerable young men, so the overlong and supposedly harrowing story of single father David Morse trying to give space and liberty to his 9-year-old son Ted is redundant, uninteresting and pathetic. There is absolutely nothing happening throughout 2/3 of the film, unless you find tire-swinging or scooping up dead squirrels a fascinating sight. Then, when you hope the action might finally shift into a higher gear because the motel is suddenly filled with disposable teenagers during their senior prom after party, "The Boy" incomprehensibly becomes even more cowardly and dull. The least that we, patient and tolerant viewers, deserved to see was a psychopathic rampage and not a lousy mass-murdering! I usually have a lot of sympathy for both David Morse and Rainn Wilson, but they shouldn't feel forced to star in over-ambitious but substantially void projects like these, just because they assume it'll look good on their resumes. The only 45 seconds in "The Boy" that I truly enjoyed were the ones during which Jefferson Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop us" was playing on the radio.
Death Wish (2018)
Precisely the kind of unhinged revenge/vigilante trash I was hoping for!
Author Brian Garfield can be proud and satisfied! The three (!) times that his legendary source novel "Death Wish" got adapted into a film project it each time resulted in a success and a remarkably efficient teaming between director and lead protagonist! The first time, in 1974 already, sensationalist master Michael Winner directed Charles Bronson and the role shaped both the further career of Bronson as well as the prototype character of the 'avenging angel'. The film spawned several sequels, all starring Charles Bronson but furthermore unrelated to the original book, and literally hundreds of cheap imitations and foreign knock-offs. In 2007, Garfield's novel served as the inspiration for "Death Sentence", directed by James Wan and starring Kevin Bacon. It was another heavily enjoyable popcorn action flick with excessive violence and solid performances, but obviously less iconic than the 1974 version. In 2018 we're witnessing the third terrific director/actor pairing, namely with Eli "Hostel" Roth behind and Bruce "Die Hard" Willis in front of the cameras. Is "Death Wish" a genius film? No, not particularly. Does it stand guarantee for a good 100 minutes of marvelously trash-entertainment? Yes, most definitely! This is exactly the type of unhinged revenge/vigilante thriller I was hoping to see on a Friday night after a long and frustrating week, with Willis stoically hunting down the bastards who killed his wife and put his teenage daughter in a coma following a home-jacking gone wrong. The scenario is rudimentary, old-fashioned and distasteful! Critics allegedly hate this film for its glorification of violence and the "defending-what's-yours" principle. Well, I'm European and very much against the system of free firearms possessions, but I do love over-the-top trash cinema! How are you supposed to take a film in which Bruce Willis depicts a brilliant ER surgeon seriously, anyway? It already required quite a lot of suspension of disbelief accepting Charles Bronson as an architect, let alone Willis as a doctor! But, as uncomfortable and silly he looks wearing his surgical mask and holding his scalpel, the happier he feels when pouring brake fluid into the open wound that he cut in the leg of one of his wife's murderers! "Death Wish" is fast-paced and never boring, the violence is raw and (largely) uncompromising and the humor is crude and twisted (and typically Eli Roth). Sheer entertainment, and that's literally all I ever wished for!
James Woods; human VCR
David Cronenberg is undoubtedly a brilliant and truly unique director, but also someone with a seriously twisted and deranged mind. How else would you explain the unworldly bizarre storylines of his 70s & 80s "body-horror" classics, and "Videodrome" in particular? I might be crazy for watching and loving these type of movies, but Cronenberg wrote them, so he must be totally bonkers beyond repair! Admittedly, however, "Videodrome" is my least favorite Cronenberg effort of that period. I can't really explain why, but the story isn't nearly as compelling and unsettling as the case in "Scanners", "Shivers", "The Brood", "Rabid", "The Dead Zone" or "The Fly". It also doesn't help, of course, that meanwhile the plot is hopelessly dated. Cronenberg was experimenting with visual technology during the heights of the videotape era here, but I reckon that younger horror fans nowadays laugh hysterically at the sight of an old-fashioned video cassette being shoved into a vagina-resembling body wound.
James Woods stars as Max Renn, a cable TV programmer who's continuously seeking for the ultimate viewing experience. He picks up an illegal transmission of a show called "Videodrome", and instantly becomes intrigued by its S/M images and snuff-movie realism. During his search for additional Videodrome footage, and finding out who's responsible for making them, Renn doesn't realize that his hallucinations, caused by watching the show are gradually taking control of his body and brains. I think the main problem (or MY main problem, at least) with "Videodrome" is the absurdity of the concept (operating people like VCR's), as well as the film's complex narrative structure. Cronenberg may not be the greatest storyteller, but what he lacks in that department he widely compensates in terms of creating an uncanny and claustrophobic atmosphere. Also, the plot and the scenery may have dated, but Rick Baker's special effects still look stupendous! Although there sadly isn't a sequence as powerful as the notorious head explosion in "Scanners", the cruel and violent massacres during the final act of the film are by far my favorite moments of the film. James Woods is excellent as Max Renn and finds the exact right balance between being a sleazy thrill-seeker and a pitiable victim. Deborah Harry, singer of "Blondie", is also very impressive as Renn's kinky and pain-addicted girlfriend (with cigarette burns on her breasts to prove it!)
Old McRedford had a farm
Admittedly I've never been a great admirer of actor/director Robert Redford, but I do adore raw & gritty prison movies, especially from the 70s-80s period, and I was also blown away by the fabulous supportive cast! With names like Yaphet Koto, David Keith, M. Emmet Walsh, Everett McGill, Joe Spinell and even a still unknown Morgan Freeman in the line-up, this became an absolute must-see for me. Redford stars as the titular Brubaker, the newly appointed manager of a large prison farm in Southern Arkansas and initially posing as a randomly nameless inmate in order to observe how the institution is currently being run and how the prisoners are treated. With his little act, Brubaker exposes far more than he bargained for, as the supposedly exemplary and most beneficiary prison facility of the United States is really a hellhole full of corruption, greed, physical abuse and slavery. The regular prisoners live in miserable conditions and are submitted to hard labor on the farm fields, while the privileged "trustees" and even the local community entrepreneurs benefit tremendously from the farm's crops and harvests. Brubaker puts his career and even his healthy at risk to alter the situation, but can the deep roots of typical human greed and political corruption be dug out by one man?
I must confess it took me a while before I properly understood the hierarchy and organigram-structure of this prison farm! Apart from the manager and one buyer, there aren't any wardens or other staff members in this penitentiary. The "trustees" serve as wardens and fieldwork supervisors, but they are also convicted criminals and thus prisoners, only apparently, they have better and more influential friends. The trustees walk in and out of the prison gates, and basically can make their escape quite easily, but obviously they don't because their lives inside is much more luxurious and privileged. Neighboring businessmen also access the prison farm like it's a petting zoo, coming to ask the trustees for additional manpower or beneficial deals. The story is truly compelling and (I think) contemporary relevant, but unfortunately also monotonous. In the end, you are watching a 130 minutes movie in which every possible type of evil simply gets attributed to human greed and selfishness. If you compare "Brubaker" with prison epics like "Shawshank Redemption", "Beyond the Walls", Cell 211", "Shutter Island" or "Nightmare in Badham County", it comes out rather pale, but it's nonetheless a recommendable film with terrific acting and marvelous settings.
No, I'm sorry, but it's a complete misfire! I really tried to remain open-minded and set all my prejudices aside, but this is a hopelessly disappointing remake of one of the greatest Sci-Fi/Action flicks of all times! The original "Robocop" (Paul Verhoeven - 1987) was dystopian Sci-Fi trash with extremely OTT violence and sadistic humor. That formula worked brilliantly, so why on earth would anyone consider turning it into a dead-serious, melodramatic and politically correct mainstream flick with a PG13 rating?!? This modernized dud only makes me worship Verhoeven's original even more, and it especially makes me admire how simplistic, straightforward and fast-paced that classic was! José Padhila's "Robocop" is intolerably slow, boringly talkative and the actors almost seem to drown in all the supposedly intelligent and socially relevant sub plots (like "why should our boys die in Afghanistan" or "is America ready to be protected by machines"). Who cares about all that? The only thing everybody wants to see is Robocop in action and neutralizing evil street thugs.
Will that ever happen, though? Nope, sorry! It takes, what, 17 hours into the film before officer Alex Murphy, wearing his Robocop outfit, sets his first baby-steps into Detroit and picks up a gun (dull target practice games with that idiotic Jackie Earle Haley doesn't count). But there also doesn't seem to be much need for a Robocop, anyway! The 2028 Detroit of this script doesn't look the least bit menacing, pauperized or overtaken by crime. In the almighty original, Detroit became a filthy hellhole where it was impossible for normal families to live or even walk the streets during the daylight because of police strikes and deranged criminals with gigantic guns! Sure, corporate greed and corruption remain obstructions for proper law enforcement, but there aren't any real bad guys for Robo-Murphy to defeat. Clarence Boddicker and his psychotic gang of the original were pure evil, whereas here Murphy/Robocop only has a pathetic weapon dealer (Patrick Garrow) and a cuckoo robot-fetishist (Jackie Earle Haley) as main opponents. But the miserable PG-13 rating is what neutralizes this film the most. Gone is the extreme violence and perverse humor of Verhoeven's original. No more target practicing on poor cops, death by toxic waste, bloody massacres by a malfunctioning ED-209, insanely offensive TV-commercials or gratuitous nudity & drug abuse! All this got replaced by bloodless shootouts and tedious gibberish by an annoying marketing guy. Even the leftovers of Murphy's body after the explosion are laughable instead of unsettling. Robocop? Yeah right, more like Kindergarten Cop!
However, exactly like the case with "Robocop 3" (Fred Dekker - 1993), I am aware and personally persuaded that director José Padhilo cannot be blamed for this insult of a film! Via many little details, it's abundantly clear that Padhilo is a big admirer or Verhoeven's original and that only the cowardly attitude of the production company led to this inferior version. Also, I can't resist mentioning the hypocrisy of the script. Americans are supposedly worried that emotionless machines will be carrying guns, while mass-shootings take place daily because every crazed nut can purchase a weapon? Please!
Directive 4: assure everlasting Sci-Fi entertainment
I was supposed to watch the 2014 remake today, but I postponed that viewing with another day and re-watched the original for the 127th time, simply because I'm somehow convinced the remake will suck tremendously! I don't want to be the sourpuss who's against every kind of cinematic remake, but honestly, Paul Verhoeven's 1987 original is damn close to perfection already, and I don't see how a remake with Samuel L. Jackson and a miserable PG-13 rating could bring any added value. "Robocop" is an immortal Sci-Fi classic with a breakneck pace and an ingenious script that is literally chock-full of insane humor (the perverse and twisted kind), outrageous graphic violence and a wide variety of villains that are genuinely evil. The plot is incredibly simple, but even more efficient than a comic book franchise: in the near future, the city of Detroit is completely overrun by crime and corporate corruption. Whenever the remaining police officers are not on strike, because the force got privatized by Omni Consumer Products (OCP), they are bluntly being executed by remorseless criminals. But OCP is planning to build the brand-new Delta City and thus needs to ensure the safety of construction workers. They'll need a different type of law enforcer, though, because their prototype robot ED-209 keeps short-circuiting. In comes officer Alex Murphy, clinically dead after being used for target practice by the psychotic Clarence Boddicker and his gang, and unwillingly volunteering to become Bob Morton's first half-human/half robot police officer. Murphy's brain is still reasonably intact, and he seeks to capture his murderers, but unfortunately his artificial program prevents him to sort out internal OCP corruption issues. This movie is downright brilliant, and also one of the only personal favorites that I can watch repeatedly without ever getting bored. For his first US-production, the Dutch and natural born rebel director Paul Verhoeven threw all the conventional rules regarding good taste and political correctness overboard. This results in an unhinged trash-flick with atypical casting choices and unlimited sadistic violence, but nevertheless one with superior production values and terrific special effects. The highlights of "Robocop" are almost too numerous to list: the demented TV-commercials, Murphy's cruel execution, death by toxic waste or even Boddicker's unsubtle way to make a couple of prostitutes leave an upcoming crime scene. The theme music is awesome, Kurtwood Smith gives the performance of his life, and you're guaranteed to copy the catchphrase "I'd buy that for a dollar" in many random conversations. Have I mentioned already that "Robocop" is brilliant cinema?
The Norliss Tapes (1973)
Sculp your own demon out of blood and clay!
I have a tremendous respect and admiration for Dan Curtis! Apart from the well-known cult series "Dark Shadows", Curtis also produced and directed a long list of modest but extremely professional made-for-TV horror films and thrillers that are ALWAYS atmospheric, well-acted, original and featuring a couple of genuinely terrifying sequences. "The Norliss Tapes" is perhaps not as legendary as, say, "Trilogy of Terror" or "The Night Strangler", but it's another worthwhile gem with a good story and memorable frights. Of these old 70s TV-movies, I always love reading the user-comments, because so many people write that the film in question scared or even traumatized them as a child. In the case of "The Norliss Tapes", I can easily understand how certain scenes induced a lot of nightmares among sensitive viewers, especially the ones with the eerie yellow-eyed ghoul who mysteriously wanders around and kidnaps young women. The title refers to lead protagonist and paranormal investigator David Norliss, who suddenly vanished prior to the completion of his new book but left behind a bunch of audio tapes for his publisher to find. The tapes narrate how Norliss got called upon by a beautiful young widow who witnessed her own deceased sculptor husband work on one last final statue in his studio. This bizarre call for help coincides with the alarming disappearance of a young girl and the discovery of an old myth in which Mrs. Cort's late husband firmly believed. The myth states that, if you sculp the hellish demon Sargoth out of clay and human blood, and then summon him, he grants you eternal life. The script perhaps isn't 100% waterproof, but Dan Curtis marvelously handles the tension building and perfectly times the efficient jump-moments. The scene at the raunchy motel, at night and during a thunderstorm, is surely of the finest moments in 70s TV-history! There are excellent supportive roles from the astonishing Angie Dickenson as the hysterical widow and the underrated Claude Akins as the down-to-earth Sheriff. And, if you are wondering why the ending is so outspokenly open and unusual, it's because "The Norliss Tapes" in fact served as the pilot feature for a TV-series that never got picked up.
Rest in peace, Bayou's baddest good ol' boy!
I am not a man of many traditions, but I like to keep the few ones that I do have intact. One of those traditions is that I pay tribute to a deceased actor or director by watching one of his/her movies as soon as I hear the sad news. Burt Reynolds died on 5th of September 2018 and, although he's far from my favorite actor of all times, I do feel an honoring is in place since titles like "Deliverance", "White Lightening", "The Cannonball Run" and "Smokey and The Bandit" are nevertheless favorites of mine. Reviewing "Gator" is even a bit of a double tribute, since the film also marked Reynold's debut as a director.
"Gator" is exactly what you expect a pulpy and trashy sequel to the 1973 semi-classic "White Lightening" to be like, except that everything now revolves even more around the hunky & cool persona of illegal liquor runner Gator McClusky. Freshly released from prison, Gator is forced by a New York DA to help apprehend his former childhood buddy Bama McCall, who's now a big-shot Bayou crook. Gator is initially reluctant to betray his old friend and sabotages the operation, but when he finds out that Bama has become a relentless gangster who runs mafia-like protection rings and forces underaged girls into prostitution, all his sympathy quickly vanished. Like "White Lightening", the tone of "Gator" is also primarily light-headed, but with many raw and dark edges as well as unexpected moments of extreme violence. The typically hillbilly-soundtrack and the speedboat-chases through the Bayou swamps are comical, but Bama McCall's sinister henchmen and their gangster practices are grim and more reminiscent to the dark and uncompromising type of 70s grindhouse/exploitation cinema. The role of Jerry Reed is particularly and utmost surprising! I previously just knew him as a country-crooner (he also sings the title song) or as the jolly but harmless sidekick (for example in "Smokey and the Bandit") but here Reed depicts a truly evil guy with a nasty shotgun and intimidating helpers. His lieutenants are a scary giant named Bones, so tall that he has stick his head out of the open roof when driving a car, and a perverse creep named Smiley (you'll see why).
Reynolds occasionally demonstrates that he holds the potential of a competent director, and "Gator" is overall good entertainment, but the film is too long and especially the romantic interludes between Gator and love-interest Lauren Hutton are too tedious and interfere with the explosive action & spectacle during the finale. Throughout the 70s and 80s, it seemed like Burt Reynolds had a fun career with a few classics and a quite large number of genuine crowd-pleasers. He made a remarkable comeback in the 90s, with a few hits ("Boogie Nights") and more misses ("Striptease", "Cop and a Half") but always kept his Bayou bad-boy coolness. Rest in peace, Mr. Bandit.
Chicken nugget, anyone?
Apart from the undoubtedly very comforting sum of money on his bank account, it must really suck being Elijah Wood! Whatever you do or try, you'll always be referred to as that Hobbit from "Lord of the Rings" and typecast as a dork. This isn't intended as an insult or mockery, mind you, as I really like Elijah Wood and appreciate most of the roles he played (except for LotR). Since his recent attempts at mature and serious horror ("Open Windows" and the heavily underrated "Maniac" remake) weren't exactly successful, it perhaps was a good idea for Wood to return to a horror-comedy reminiscent to one of his very first commercial hits. Indeed, "Cooties" reminds you of "The Faculty", except that Wood is now a wimpy (substitute) teacher instead of a wimpy student, and the alien monsters have been replaced with zombie toddlers!
"Cooties" is admittedly a very unoriginal and derivative zombie-virus flick, but at least it's unpretentious and straightforward, without too many underlying messages or metaphors. Taking place in the aptly named community of Fort Chicken in Illinois, the film doesn't waste too much time, neither, as we witness during the fun opening credit sequences how diseased chicken flesh gets processed into nuggets and then consumed by an innocent little girl in the school cafeteria. The next day, aspiring but troubled writer Clint Hadson starts his job as a substitute teacher, but by the first recess time, he and a bunch of crazed colleagues already must run and hide from a horde of unhinged zombie children. Kudos to scriptwriter (and co-star) Leigh Whannell, who proves with "Cooties" that he's also capable of writing light-headed genre films, next to his regular scary and nasty stuff like "Saw", "Insidious" and "The Conjuring". Whannell's role as the socially awkward biology teacher is also one of the funniest, while Rainn Wilson is terrific as the stereotypical gym teacher: a dumb macho, slightly overweight and sporting a ridiculous moustache. Two-thirds of "Cooties" is good entertainment, especially for as long as the teachers are entrenched inside the school while the creepy kids linger around; - using eyeballs as marbles or human intestines as skipping rope. The last 10-15 minutes seem somewhat unstructured and rushed, and the script even makes some irritating rookie-horror mistakes, like the sudden return of characters who were supposed to be dead. If I had watched "Cooties" after a day of bad temper, perhaps I would have been less positive and labeled it as another umpteenth and unnecessary zombie comedy, but today it provided me with a few genuine laughs and a good hour and a half of entertainment.
Un poliziotto scomodo (1978)
Two Poliziotesschi for the price of one!
Cult actor Maurizio Merli, or "The Magnificent Moustache" as I just decided to start calling him, was the one and only true badass Italian copper of the 70s! Haters may refer to him as just a poor and hardly talented Franco Nero doppelganger (and they may even have a point), but for devoted fans of the wondrous Poliziotesschi sub genre, he always remains the archetypic and charismatic symbol of raw & unorthodox police work and outrageously wild car chases. The collaborations with director Umberto Lenzi ("Violent Naples", "The Cynic, The Rat and "The Fist") undoubtedly formed the high-point of Merli's career, but he also made a number of amusing films with Stelvio Massi, of which this "Convoy Busters" may be the best one.
Actually, I don't like the international title "Convoy Busters". It's meaningless and irrelevant, and probably just chosen to sound reminiscent to the contemporary successful US flicks "Convoy" (Sam S. Peckinpah) and "Wages of Fear" (William Friedkin). The original Italian title is very apt and powerful, in fact, especially seen over the course of the entire film. "Un Poliziotto Scomodo" literally translates as "An Uncontrolled Cop", and uncontrolled definitely describes Merli's character Commissioner Olmi. In his homestead Rome, Olmi investigates the brutal murder of a young girl whose body got dumped in a river with the throat clean and surgically cut. The search, as well as numerous other vile crimes, leads to the rich and hugely influential politician Degan, but Olmi is unable to make an arrest, since he gets protection from the equally corrupted prosecutor and even Olmi's own direct superior. Frustrated that Degan gets away with literally everything right under his nose, Olmi's working methods become even more unorthodox, and so his superiors quickly find a good enough reason to transfer him to a quiet and practically crimeless coastal town. Here, Olmi comes to rest and even finds romance, but his strong police instincts uncover a well-organized weapon trafficking network via the sea and involving local companies.
Due to the abrupt transfer of Merli's character from Rome to the little village, and the complementary change in tone & pacing, it almost feels as if you're watching two entirely different Poliziotesschi flicks! The first part is obviously better, with the traditional 'violent city' setting, better action and familiar footage (like Merli yelling against his supervisors or literally beating a confession out of suspects). The opening scene, with the discovery of the dead girl in the water, almost feels like a genuine giallo. The scenes in which Merli shoots bad guys from inside a helicopter is iconic Poliziotesschi; - especially the last shot in slow-motion! The second part, at the seaside, is interesting as well, but Merli clearly feels uncomfortable playing the sensitive guy and kissing his love-interest. The intense climax, with a hostage situation at an elementary school, compensates for a lot, though!
The Magnificent Seven (2016)
The "Magnificent" part is very, very debatable
As well as every normal male (or female, for that matter) film buff, I'm a tremendous fan of the 1960 Western classic "The Magnificent Seven". I honestly don't think you can have anything against that film, and you can't even object to the idea of a remake, since the original itself is already a remake of Akira Kurasawa's landmark "Seven Samurai". So here I was looking forward to Antoine Fuqua's version, albeit with reasonably low expectations; - just a good two hours of undemanding but exciting gunslinger entertainment! What a major disappointment! "The Magnificent Seven" isn't the least bit spectacular or memorable, it's just plain boring and inferior on every possible level. Although I tried hard not to compare, it's just inescapably evident that Hollywood can't assemble a kick-ass ensemble cast anymore like they could in 1960. How on earth do you recast icons like Yul Brunner, Steven McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn? With Denzel Washington? He's okay, I guess. Chris Pratt? Meh! Ethan Hawke? No way! Vincent D'Onofrio? What the hell! The painful truth is that not a single character of the 2016-version deserves to even stand in the shadows of the 1960-version protagonists. That goes for the villainous characters as well, by the way, since Peter Sarsgaard isn't exactly menacing as the supposedly merciless and megalomaniac landowner Bartholomew Bogue. Heck, his minions even must do stuff like spit chewing tobacco on the church's floor to emphasize just how evil they are. Oh, and don't even get me started on how obviously the script is politically correct. Lame!
RoboCop 3 (1993)
Destroy Robocop III. Or there will be. Trouble!
There are two principal reasons to dislike, might even say despise, "Robocop 3"! First, what's the matter with the rating? No installment in this glorious franchise should be allowed to have a PG-13 rating! PG-13 ratings are for Disney movies and "Police Academy" sequels! I grew up loving the downright brilliant Paul Verhoeven original and the underrated Irvin Keschner sequel just because they are so excessively and gratuitously violent as well as sadistically humorous! In their desperate attempt to reach wider audiences and softer ratings, the producers neutralized Robocop a lot more than ED-209 or RoboCain ever could! And yes, I do mean the producers, because I refuse to believe that director Fred Dekker or writer Frank Miller voluntarily wanted to cut back on violence. It's so ironic, in fact, since corporate greed and treason is an important main theme in all "Robocop" films! Perhaps OCP is just short for Orion Corporate Pictures instead of Omni Consumer Products? The saddest thing about all this is that "Robocop 3" most definitely has the potential to be a full-worthy and 200% violent sequel. The script is filled with interestingly absurd ideas, like battles with Japanese samurai-cyborgs, "The Warriors"-style punker street-gangs,police retaliations and aerial equipment for Alex 'Robocop' Murphy. None of these masterful gimmicks are elaborated and illustrated the way they should (= with a lot more bloodletting and cynical sneers) and the attempts to maintain the insanely over-the-top TV commercials or news broadcasts are pitiable. I also don't like that Peter Weller doesn't return as Murphy/Robocop, and his substitute Robert John Burke has the charisma of a textile cloth, but he isn't the reason by this film fails.
A few years after the events of "Robocop 2", corporate holding OCP has been taken over by Japanese tycoons, but the plans of the management remain in place: build the new and hi-tech Delta City on the remnants of Detroit. The residents of the pauperized suburbs continue to resist, however, and thus OCP put together a special squad to aggressively evict people from their homes and kill whoever obstructs the process. Since this squad, led by the megalomaniac McDaggett, is so beastly, more and more traditional Detroit police officers, including Robocop, begin to turn against OCP and join forces with the rebels. There, I nevertheless insisted on summarizing the plot, just to demonstrate that Frank Miller's story holds the potential of being a fantastic "Robocop" film installment!
Oh yeah, I wrote at the beginning that there are TWO reasons! This might be merely personal and not based on any reliable sources, but I'm pretty sure that "Robocop 3" killed the career of Fred Dekker. Things looked quite promising for Dekker in the late 80s, when he made the child-friendly horror gem "The Monster Squad" and the absolutely fantastic "Night of the Creeps", but after the failure of "Robocop 3", he never directed another film. Thanks a lot, OCP!
Feast III: The Happy Finish (2009)
Happy that it is Finished!
Watching "Feast III" was a bad idea, not just because I knew from beforehand that I was going to hate it, but also because it's been nearly 10 years since I saw parts one and two. As it's a back-to-back sequel, "The Happy Finish" immediately picks up where "Sloppy Seconds" left off, and frankly I didn't have any recollection of who the lead characters were. Obviously, the script isn't rocket science, but I nevertheless missed out on the copious references towards the previous installments. The only things I remember were that I loved the first "Feast" (refreshing and exciting) but that I absolutely disliked "Feast II" (pretentious and boring). And, since I read in most reviews that number 3 is basically just as annoying and redundant as part 2, I probably never should have bothered.
Even though John Gulager's first film was a clever and original horror gem, the sequels seem exclusively aimed at trash-fanatics with an extremely bad taste in cinema and a weakness for vulgar and infantile toilet humor. If you fancy watching rancid stuff like anally getting raped by monsters or swallowed human heads coming right back out of the rear end, you can't afford to let "Feast III" bypass. However, if you have a tiny bit of dignity left, you'll be eye-rolling the entire time and resisting to push the "stop" or "fast-forward" button. Maybe I've become a sourpuss over the years, but I fail to see what's funny about a bloke stumbling and driveling through the entire film with a metal pipe through his head. And, if the tastelessness doesn't turn you off, the downright lousy digital effects and amateurish editing will!
As mean and nasty as Spaghetti Westerns get!
Although very obscure and unsung, this is truly one of the best spaghetti westerns I ever saw! Massimo Dallamano's "Bandidos" has a good and compelling plot, albeit working from familiar western themes like blood vengeance and dueling gunmen, and most of all, it's unrelenting, mean-spirited, vile and extremely violent! First, a word of advice that I sadly must mention in too many of my user-comments: do not read the plot synopsis that is described here on the website! You are not supposed to know from beforehand who the protagonists of the story are and what connects them! The synopsis bluntly gives away why the three lead characters (Richard Martin, Billy Kane and Ricky Shot) hate each other's guts, but only in the final act of the film the pieces of the puzzle fit neatly together.
Everything obviously revolves around the extremely bloody train raid at the beginning. This is undoubtedly one of the cruelest massacres in western history! Relentless gangster Billy Kane and his fierce gang rob a driving train, steal all the passengers' belongings and then nihilistically execute everyone on board. Well, everyone except one, the meticulously sharp-shooting Richard Martin, whom Billy Kane clearly knows from a previous life. Kane shoots holes in both of Martin's hands, though, so that he can never operate a pistol again. Years later, Martin desperately tries to make a living out of training young gunslingers into masterful shootists and perform live-acts at town squares. His pupils keep getting killed by jesters, however, but then he meets a handsome and mysterious young stranger. Martin's intention is clearly to train his new pupil to be capable of murdering Billy Kane for him, but the clever Ricky Shot has his own secretive reasons for wanting to confront Kane.
"Bandidos" certainly hasn't stolen its title! It's full of loathsome, egocentric, double-crossing and furious men whose lives aren't worth more than the price of the bullets that kill them. The three relatively unknown lead actors give away terrific performances and Dallamano's direction is downright stupendous. I don't know what it was about this man, but practically every genre that he touched turned into gold! His "What have you done to Solange?" is my all-time favorite giallo (and I've seen more than 120 of those) and his "Colt .38 Special Squad" is one of the better Poliziotesschi thrillers out there. With "Bandidos", he also nailed the Spaghetti Western genre! As I watched the film in its original version, my sole complaint is that the characters' names sound ridiculous when pronounced in Italian.
Our Mother's House (1967)
Mother knows best, even when she's dead and buried in the garden!
Seriously, how stupefying can one motion picture be? That's what I kept wondering throughout "Our Mother's House", or at least during the largest part of it. This is a film like you seldomly encounter them, with a plot that is completely original and unseen, at atmosphere that is unsettling from start to finish, characters AND acting performances that are 100% pure and natural and - perhaps most important of all - a story that never at one point becomes predictable or soft. Although a lot less known, "Our Mother's House" might even be more powerful than Clayton's other acclaimed genre milestone "The Innocents". But simply labeling this film as a horror story wouldn't do it any justice. Even though disturbing and utterly bleak, this is more of a harrowing drama. The plot, adapted from a novel by Julian Gloag, is as simple as it is genius: seven siblings live with their bed-ridden mother in a big house and the oldest two, Elsa and Hubert, take care of all the daily chores. But when mother dies, the fear of becoming separated and ending up at an orphanage drives the children to keep mother's dead secret and even bury her body in the garden. Of course, there arise some difficulties, like how to cash in the monthly allowance money or how to get rid of the irritating governess Mrs. Quayle, but overall, they manage just fine. After all, they can always ask for mother's advice during their daily seances. But then their alleged father Charlie Hook shows up. Most of the children now seem to feel like they form a real family again, with Charlie to protect them, but the oldest daughter Elsa remains very skeptical and openly questions Charlie's honesty. Personally, I liked the film much better before Charlie (Dirk Bogarde) entered the scene, but admittedly his role is very difficult, courageous and challenging. "Our Mother's House" is fully of uncanny highlights, notably the so-called "Mother Time" gatherings in the garden shed and the suffering of poor little Gerty when she gets punished for talking to a stranger. The titular house is a wondrously grim setting and Clayton masterfully maintains a slow yet atmospheric pacing with beautiful photography and bone-chilling music. It's a tremendously underrated British cult-classic that deserves to be seen by wider audiences!
Sinister trivia detail: Annette Carell, the actress who briefly appears as Mother, really died in the same year when the film was released. In 1967, she committed suicide at the young age of 38.
I had "Dreamscape" lying around on DVD for years already, but never bothered to watch it, probably just because I assumed it was a child-friendly fantasy based on the colorful cover image. Yes, I can be that shallow! Luckily, I got passed my dumb prejudices eventually, as "Dreamscape" is an immensely entertaining and quite imaginative 80s Sci-Fi/thriller with a good plot, numerous memorable action sequences and a terrific all-star cast that includes names like Dennis Quaid, Christopher Plummer, Max Von Sydow, Cate Capshaw, Eddie Albert, David Patrick Kelly and George Wendt. Quaid was at the high-point of his career around this time, as it was also the period of other personal favorites of mine like "Innerspace" and "Enemy Mine". Here, he's ideally cast as the telepathically gifted but slightly arrogant and gambling-addicted Alex Gardner. He gets persuaded to partake in a unique experiment to enter and tour around in other people's dreams, either as a spectator or as as a key participant. This sounds cornier that it is, as the experiment is meant to help people who suffer from recurring nightmares. Alex helps a poor guy who has hysterical dreams about his wife sleeping around with the entire neighborhood and joins forces with a troubled 12-year-old ginger kid who battles nasty snake-creatures at night. Things get quite tricky when Alex discovers that Plummer's governmental department is really funding the experiment to use it as a secret weapon to kill the President. Director and co-writer Joseph Ruben ("The Stepfather", "Sleeping with the Enemy") ensures that the plot never becomes boring or overly technical/talkative, and there's a wide variety of action sequences within the dream-worlds as well as in "real-life". Everyone puts down great performances, the special effects are more than praiseworthy and there's a lovely soundtrack by Maurice Jarre. Excellent 80s entertainment despite the PG-13 rating; - recommended!
It's a hard knock Stuntman life!
It may perhaps be a very morbid statement, but it's also an undeniable truth that action movies are far more likely to gain a cult reputation when a stuntman actually dies on set. This is somewhat the hidden premise of "Stunts", an extremely low-budgeted but nevertheless compelling and entertaining late 70s popcorn flick directed by Mark L. Lester ("Class of 1984", "Commando"). The premise is processed into a "whodunit" scenario and a film-within-film narrative structure, complete with intrigues between the different cast and crew members and various red herrings regarding the possible identity of the saboteur/stuntman killer. Robert Forster tries hard to come across as the stoic and experienced stuntman, Glen Wilson, who joins the production of a low-keyed action vehicle to investigate the circumstances of the helicopter accident in which his younger brother (also a reckless stuntman) died. Glen is convinced that his brother's gear got sabotaged and that his death wasn't accidental, and he's obviously right, since more bizarre accidents occur on the set. Much more than Brian Trenchard-Smith's contemporary "Stunt Rock", Lester's "Stunts" gives us a handful of interesting insights in the world of movie stunt work and special effects. The film also wants us to believe that stuntmen form a sort of sacred community that performs specific funeral rituals and make pacts to "pull the plug" when one of them ends up living as a vegetable when a stunt goes wrong. I don't know if there's any truth in all this, but admittedly it ensures a couple of memorable scenes. Robert Forster's acting is rather wooden, but I enjoyed the roles of familiar faces in the supportive cast, such as Ricard Lynch as the arrogant special effects wizard and Bruce Glover as stuntman Chuck who makes a really nasty fall from a six-stores tower.