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Better Than Us (2018–2019)
5/10
Started out okay
9 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This slow-moving robot show doesn't feature anything about robots that you haven't seen before, plus almost every scene is featured through a blue filter, there are plenty of flyover shots and tinkling piano music just like most other tv shows, a nincompoop cop, yet another dad who is painted as some damaged misfit who tries hard to raise his kids, a shrew of an ex-wife, an angry resentful teen, and a beautiful actress who moves robotically so you know that she is, you know, a robot. I was on board with this show up until one of the secondary characters gets shot at point-blank range and is buried in a grave, only to miraculously dig himself out, jump over a bar, and kill the man who took his place. I'm not making this up. Don't try to sell me something that breaks the rules, if you do, I will stop watching, and that's exactly what I did. What happens after that? I don't know and I don't care.
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Ishtar (1987)
3/10
Just as awful as you can imagine
6 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I finally saw this film for the first time last night, it is rarely shown on TV but it popped up on one of those off-brand channels devoted to mediocrity. I don't know who watches these channels, terminally ill people I suppose? Anyway, I was committed to watching the film, despite all the negative reviews I've read over the years, and I discovered that people weren't exaggerating about how bad it is. Garbage Pail Kids was released the same year, and both films possess the same approach to filmmaking.

There are long, long, stretches detailing the creative process between the two main middle-aged characters, as Beatty's accent comes and goes like the wind, fading in, fading out. Most people can do a southern accent, but Beatty is apparently the only person in the U.S. who can't. There is zero chemistry between the characters. Half-said sentences and half-finished thoughts are left lingering. You keep waiting to laugh and the laughs never come. Isn't this supposed to be a comedy, you ask yourself. Truly bad singing should be funny, especially if the characters are sincere, but the film plays it straight and there is no payoff as both Beatty and Hoffman, both accomplished actors, struggle with poorly-written dialogue to find their characters.

Two cringeworthy things stand out: both Beatty's and Hoffman's inability to distinguish a woman from a man; done properly with the right clothing it could have been a humorous joke, but Adjani is clearly a woman so both of these middle-aged men are blind as a bat.

The other cringeworthy scene is the auction in the desert. Done properly, it could have been hilarious, but how anyone could mistake Hoffman's gibberish for native language is beyond me.

The worst thing about the film is the premise; even in fictional entertainment, you have to sell me on your concept, and a map that can destroy the middle east is a hard sell; you didn't quite get there, Elaine May.

But the suffering isn't over, as you get to the end and endure the pain of hearing them sing again. Intentionally bad singing can be humorous, but they're not bad enough to be funny, and not good enough to be enjoyable, as it goes on and on for what seems like ten full minutes. It's easy to see why this film was a box office flop, word must have gotten around pretty fast.

I see the trivia section contains some positive spins on this film, as though the passage of time has somehow rendered it watchable, but given its low rating on IMDB, the film's cheerleaders managed to make these comments more prominent than they deserve to be. This film is an insult to every intelligent person on the planet.
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4/10
I don't see it lasting more than one season
16 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I admit it, I was a huge fan of PLL, I watched every single episode of a show that was intended for teenage girls, there I said it. The ending of PLL wasn't that good but it was all about the journey, and what a ride it was. I was never bored, and watching alliances form and dissolve over the years, and the rotating cast of villains and heroes, was all done with the finesse of a skilled juggler. It wasn't the greatest tv show ever, but boy was it suspenseful, and every episode featured a mystery within a mystery.

There's something seriously lacking in this updated version, it's not nearly as intense, the characters aren't engaging or interesting, and it's hard to care about any of them or their problems. The only bright spots are when Janel Parrish as Mona shows up, her rapid-fire delivery and pushy attitude are welcome antidotes to the rest of the beige cast. The number one problem I have with this show is this: I understood how the detective in PLL could be made to be a villain, the girls had to keep their secrets in fear for their lives, but in this show, there is no clear reason for the in-house detective to be made out as a villain, she's trying to help the students and yet none of them are cooperating with her. This is just one of the show's many annoying inconsistencies.

This show is no PLL and it never will be.
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Game of Thrones (2011–2019)
5/10
Amended review
10 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Rarely do I agree with everyone else, but season eight was truly awful. It was so bad that I deleted my glowing review of seasons 1-7, which was simply the best television viewing it has ever been my pleasure to witness. The spectacular highs of the early seasons trickled down to spectacular lows, and if you disagree with me, then in a show filled with poetic justice, tell me exactly how satisfying it was for Cersei to die with the ceiling falling on her? Completely idiotic writing.
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3/10
Maybe they should have added more bad actors
10 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not sure what to make of Brie Larson. Did she make a deal with the devil? Her monotone voice, flat delivery, expressionless face, and inability to convey emotion should be working against her, but strangely, people keep throwing acting roles at her. Is there anyone in the world who is excited to see a film because Brie Larson's name is attached to it? If so, I would like to meet these people and ask them: What is your deal? As bad as she is, there are even worse actors in this dud, namely John Ortiz, whose acting skills are simply dreadful. Samuel L. Jackson's natural intensity might have saved this film, but he's a machine gun firing off his mouth over every little thing, trying to pump some life into into a plot that makes less sense the more you think about it. The only saving grace is John C. Reilly, who understands his role inside and out; he is the only human being in the film.
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9/10
LOL, where do I start?
30 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
There are some TV shows where you can just sit down and watch them over and over again and they never get old, shows like Seinfeld, Golden Girls, or I Love Lucy. IASIP has a formula that never tires: take five horrible people, throw them together into wacky situations, and watch the ensuing madness. Much like Married With Children, none of the characters on this show are redeemable, they are all self-centered, envious, selfish egomaniacs constantly trying to outdo each other, and the results are always hilarious. In an age of hypsersensitivity about racism, what other program would dare to show characters in blackface? In what other program would it be hilarious to roll a dead prostitute into the hallway? Would All In The Family have dared to have a character constantly teased about his nascent homosexuality? Drug abuse, alcoholism, mental illness, theft, dead babies, bestiality, islamophobia, inbreeding, all of these things are somehow thrown into this show and filtered through the eyes of characters you would never want to know or have as neighbors in real life. And yet their one endearing trait is that they are constantly trying to be better than they are and, imbued with a cockeyed sense of morality, constantly failing. I find myself alternately laughing at them and pitying them, even as they talk over each other, so self-involved that the viewer rarely gets to see the disgusted reactions of onlookers. Even though this horrible world is normal to these people, bits of humanity shine through here and there, and that's what makes the show watchable. These people are clowns in every sense of the word, clowns that have been reinvented to reflect what contemporary living has done to humanity, and the results are uncomfortable to watch. For example, when Frank is obsessed with not being labeled a pedophile during a children's pageant, he cartoonishly goes out of his way to make sure the audience knows it, never realizing how ghoulish his stage makeup is (it was applied by an undertaker).

I realize this is a long review, but there are so many layers to this show, and the characterizations are so carefully constructed, and the writing is so precise, that I'm compelled to point out that the show is still fresh after fourteen years, long after most TV shows suffer from writers burnout. I've been a fan of this show for a long time and I'll probably be watching it on my deathbed, if only to hear Dee say "Goddamit" one more time.
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Life (I) (2017)
5/10
I thought it was okay
24 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I was sick at home yesterday so this movie filled two hours of my time, so that's something, isn't it? Movies are supposed to make you forget about your troubles, so they succeeded, even if it makes zero sense that they would "catch" a gigantic probe headed right for the space station, a feat that would likely have resulted in the deaths of everyone on board. I kind of wish they had named the alien Steve, so they could comment on Steve's progress throughout the ship in loud voices. At least make the alien consistent...if it's able to survive outside the ship in sub-zero temperatures, then why can't it survive later on when the temperature goes down? They have specific, dedicated displays for the position of the air vents in the exam room, why? Why would this even be a thing? Also, I'm at the point in my life where I've seen enough of Jake Gyllenhall's open-mouthed stare, which is about as convincing as Kristen Stewart's open-mouthed stare. They should put these two fish in a film together in their own undersea adventure.
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10/10
A unique and outstanding effort
8 April 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Charles Laughton must have been a very thoughtful and intelligent man in real life; it's easy to be impressed by an actor who gives a good performance, but actors just recite lines that others have written for them, and do what the director tells them to do. So what does this say about the relationship between Mitchum and Laughton in this film? With Laughton steering the wheel, he crafts Harry Powell into a cartoonishly unhinged maniac dancing between extremes. It makes one wonder where Mitchum's unearthly whoops and hollers came from, his inflections, the cast of his eyes, his manipulative manner, did all of this come from Laughton or was it all Mitchum? Regardless, it is a mesmerizing performance, one of the few examples of an actor being so immersed in the role that you forget you're watching a film. Mitchum and Laughton made a remarkable team in this nightmarish fairy tale.

Like a lot of other reviewers have said, I once disliked the ending of this film, but on a recent viewing I have come to understand what Laughton (and presumably the author of the book) were coming to: listen closely to Rachel's words, the story isn't about the kids, or about Harry Powell, it's about the endurance of humanity in the face of overwhelming evil. She has seen the face of it, and handled it like a pro with her huge shotgun, so she's reflecting on it after everything that has happened. It works.

This is one of those films that I will watch every time it's on TV, even with traumatic memories of watching the underwater scene when I was little. This film is nearly perfect.
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Hereditary (2018)
9/10
The only true horror film?
26 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This bleak film just keeps coming at you, but then any movie that begins with a funeral probably isn't going to be a comedy. There are a couple of moments of hope, but they are quickly squashed as the characters are all trapped in an inescapable web. It's a very dark story but then the film makes no apologies; it's refreshing to finally see a completely immersive story that ignores almost all horror film cliches. The hero dies, that's it. But it's how we get there that fascinates, so much so that I watched the film twice and plan to watch it again. Like Rosemary's Baby, the clues build as you go, in subtle ways, and you won't catch them on a first viewing. Toni Collette gives one of her best performances; what she does with her face and voice are sometimes astonishing, whether it's struggling with indecision when she meets Joan or full-bore hysterics when her daughter dies, everything about her character is legitimate. Even before the reveal at the end, I suspected that something was amiss with Charlie; nothing against the actress who plays her, but her odd face, premature development, creepy voice, and strange mannerisms imply that she's something other than what she appears. By far the most amazing scene is the end, and I watched it five times because it's so unexpected and inhuman, so completely dismissive of the struggles of the characters who suffered for it to happen, that it earns authenticity simply because the story has been divorced from any human expectation of a positive ending. The eerie music accompanying the end scene underscores the impression that we're getting a glimpse of hell, and for me it's terrifying. It's not easy to do that, many films have tried and failed.

As much as I love this film, there is one corny old horror movie cliche that prevents me from giving it ten stars, and that's the old book that explains everything, with illustrations no less. Here it's a book about witchcraft that grandmother conveniently left among her belongings. The rest of the film is so unique and original that it's rather glaring when this cliche pops up.
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4/10
Just finished watching
12 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I thought this show was going to be about the black dahlia but it's mostly Chris Pine getting repeatedly beaten up by merciless cops for no reason and India Eisley staring vacantly off into space. It's only in the very last few minutes of the final episode where her character eloquently summarizes Dr. Hodel's perversions...where was her vocabulary up to that point? I never got a clear picture of what exactly she was looking for, once she found out she should have just accepted it and moved on instead of poking the bear with a stick. Who does the "I" in the title refer to? Why was that one weird guy following her all over the place, doesn't he have anything better to do? For me to buy into the story, character motivations have to be clear, and most of these characters make something out of nothing, especially the cops. Why beat Chris Pine half to death? Violence isn't a substitute for a clear story.
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7/10
Feels a bit forced at times
4 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I've been a huge fan of this film since it was released and have watched it several times over the years, but as I'm fond of saying in my reviews sometimes as you get older your tastes change. It's hard to fault this film's meticulous attention to detail or the clever way the larger events of the story are counterbalanced with Mr. Stevens's personal life or Anthony Hopkins's razor-sharp performance or the soul-crushing expression on Emma Thompson's face as the bus pulls away at the end, but at times the film feels a bit forced. I never really noticed until a recent viewing that several times throughout the story, from various characters, Mr. Stevens is repeatedly pressed for his personal opinions to the point it becomes annoying. He is harassed by no less than five otherwise polite british people about his views on various issues, which certainly seems rude and intrusive in contemporary times, not to mention the 1930s through the 1950s. I'm left wondering why all these people are treating Mr. Stevens as some sort of freak that they can't quite figure out, scratching their heads in astonishment as they realize that he is, gasp, an introvert who prefers to keep his head down and do his job. No other character in the film is subject to this degree of scrutiny, and the story as a result is top-heavy. Who cares what the butler thinks, leave him alone. I get this is supposed to be a story of unrequited love, but it comes at the expense of a willing suspension of disbelief, and unfortunately this major flaw continues to the very end.
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4/10
Steve Martin as an unconvincing villain
27 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film on its release and again last night, it starts our pretty good with lots of twists and turns and I love the way Mamet's characters speak; people don't talk this way in real life, when I was young and impressionable I tried to do that, thinking it was cool, and everyone just looked at me like I had three heads. Anyway, the writing starts to get lazy towards the end, the con men go to great lengths to blame Joe for not only the theft of the maguffin, but also for the death of his co-worker. I'm wondering why they went to all this trouble when they already have the book, they can just vanish forever, it's not like Joe has the resources to pursue them. And if Klein was in on it, does he have any misgivings about George's death? George's disposability, which the film doesn't even bother to revisit, leaves a sour taste. All of this time and effort to catch a wily white collar con man who in the grand scheme of things is surely less harmful than a drug dealer, mass murderer, or black market arms trader. On top of all that, how did Steve Martin know that Joe was going to be on that particular ferry? Mamet is asking for too much suspension of disbelief. Joe is largely harmless to him, why kill him? I read through the trivia and apparently they thought that Martin's comedic personality would translate well to villainy, but it's actually the opposite: when a well-known comedian pulls out a gun, it's as unconvincing as it sounds.
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The Romanoffs (2018)
3/10
Hard to buy into it
25 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This review is for the first episode only, which started out okay but then rapidly turned awful, as though the latter half were written by a different writer. I could buy into the relationship between the muslim caretaker and her elderly charge, and the fighting couple, and the effort at establishing a portrayal of the end of some grand dynastic succession and faded nobility, all of the groundwork for the story was carefully laid and I could buy into it. But then it soured when out of nowhere Greg is suddenly romantically interested in Hajar. It comes out of nowhere, there is no precedent for it, if you want me to believe that, then show it earlier in the story. Over the next two months, he doesn't think about her at all, has no interest in her, doesn't mention her or talk about her, and she shows up at his doorstep and announces that she's pregnant, and suddenly he's ready to dump his girlfriend and marry her? Again, there's no precedent for any of this, it just suddenly happens within a span of a few minutes. Real life doesn't happen this way, and characters don't act like this. Strangely, this exact same scenario occurred in Mad Men, when the fiercely independent Peggy suddenly gets stars in her eyes and wants to hook up with Stan...again, no precedent for it. If the rest of the series is as poorly written as this first episode I won't keep watching.
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Popi (1969)
6/10
Noisy mess
19 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I don't know quite what to make of this loud barrio piece, if Hiller had nudged it in any other direction it might have been brilliant but I was never sold on the outlandish premise, which Popi reveals halfway through the film. The idea that a father would abandon his children to give them a better life might have worked, but the way he goes about it is so hackneyed and poorly planned that you can't imagine someone of his intellect actually putting it into action. If city living is compromising the lives of his kids, is moving out to the suburbs beyond his means? Why not just live in Miami, since they went all the way there? I don't get it. None of this is to belittle the considerable talent of Alan Arkin, who always seems to vanish in his roles much like Alfred Molina, and here he gives it his all; it's hard to believe this is the same actor from The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, put the two characters side by side and you can't tell them apart. Oh, if you're squeamish about watching parents hit their children, you might want to skip this one. There's a lot of hitting.
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The Way Home (2002)
3/10
Question for you ten-star people
13 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Why heap praise on it just because it's a foreign film? There are plenty of domestic films that are made just as poorly as this one, with just as ambiguous of a message, where is the love for them. Some of you people are hopeless, despising westernization using a medium that ironically was invented in the west. If this is such a great film why aren't any of you ten-star people using blocks of wood as pillows, eating boiled chicken, and using an outhouse? I try to see value in all films but the grandmother started as a doormat and ended up as one, so she went exactly nowhere. She should have taught that brat some manners.
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Annihilation (2018)
4/10
They were zombies all along
12 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not sure when this style of acting became popular, but someone needs to tell directors that having actors stand perfectly still while speaking in a monotone makes the film LESS exciting. I needed subtitles for the emotionless asian guy, who i suppose is thrown in for chinese audiences. Overall the characters come off like mindless zombies, not real human beings faced with the prospect of the end of humanity. The alien's motivation was unclear...it goes out of its way to distort everything within the shimmer but then has no problem looking exactly like human beings at the Adam & Eve ending. What does the alien want? Natalie Portman doesn't know. If you don't know, why should I care? An ambiguous enemy isn't terribly frightening. Also, the affair served no purpose and didn't advance the story at all.
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Ozark (2017– )
9/10
A little farfetched, but it works
5 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I was never much of a Jason Bateman fan, but he really nailed this role, his character's exasperation, short temper, and ability to talk himself out of any situation are entertaining. As good as he is, Laura Linney brings her incomparable acting skills to the game, always thinking two steps ahead of everyone else...she has to, in order to survive. Her every inner pivot of maddening desperation is displayed on her marvelous face as she goes from one situation to another, trying to make the best of her circumstances. But my hat goes off to the versatile Julia Garner, who I hope has a long and successful career as an actress, she is almost unrecognizable when you see her in other tv shows such as Dirty John or The Americans. In Ozark, she matches with with Linney and Bateman, constantly scheming to get one over on them. This show clearly isn't on the same level as Breaking Bad, with which it has a similar premise, but it's a close second. My only complaint is that I wish they would slow the storyline down and lengthen their story arcs, some characters come and go very quickly.
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4/10
Let's count the cliches
5 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Flickering lights, a radio that changes stations by itself, a huge storm, looking at old books (which just happen to be on hand containing the exact information they need) to research whatever supernatural event is occurring, a beloved pet that dies, a secondary character showing up to scare one of the main characters, an elevator in perfect working condition becomes intermittently inoperable, cell phones don't work, the electricity goes out, it goes on and on like this, every horror film cliche you can think of gets attached to the next one in the chain. What happened to all the corpses that were walking around? Why is there no stairway in the house, presumably the morgue is inspected by some state agency, they would insist on safety regulations, ergo where is the stairway? Why bring only the girl's body to the morgue, don't the other victims deserve autopsies? Netflix should really dial back on their automatic five-star ratings of brainless, stupid, made-for-tv-quality films. It's quality, Netflix, not quantity.
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Bird Box (2018)
4/10
The Happening II
30 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I read somewhere that 45 million people viewed this film. You hear statistics like that and think it must be pretty good, right? Well, it's basically Night of the Living Dead...a bunch of desperate characters trapped in a house while the world collapses outside. You have the stern older white man that no one listens to (to their detriment), the heroic black male, the no-nonsense older woman, and the nerd who's totally unprepared for the apocalypse. Oh, and to update the formula for the new millennium, the asian guy and his "husband", so it's basically the united nations in a sprawling mansion while unseen creatures, that you never see, ravage the planet. I'm wondering why the voices didn't follow them all the way on the trip, why wait until the last second when they're at the sanctuary. Why were some humans immune to the creatures. It's a frustrating and pointless trip with a lame payoff, much like The Happening.
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10/10
These days it's impossible to keep a twist secret
17 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Picture the early 90s, the internet was largely a novelty and smart phones were science fiction, so the only way you might know if a film is any good or not is either by word of mouth of seeing a review in the newspaper or on television. Well, back then I kept hearing about this film and the twist that no one would talk about ("you have to see it" everyone said). It made a big impact on me, not so much the gender-bending weirdness but the fact that the film somehow combined Irish terrorism with romance, skillfully weaving them together in ways that stand the test of time...I watched the film again tonight after so many years and enjoyed it just as much, the storyline is tight and the characters draw you in, as Jordan takes you down levels and levels into peoples' lives. I always wondered whatever happened to Jaye Davidson, he was perfectly cast in this film, his performance is much more than a novelty as he seems quite convincing in his role, and comfortable in front of the camera around seasoned actors. One charming device that I'm still struck by all these years later is how Dil uses the bartender (Jim Broadbent) as an indirect way of communicating with Fergus, it's original and not something I've seen in any other film.
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Q (1982)
6/10
Not what I expected 36 years later
26 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I heard about this film when it was released in 1982 and somehow I missed it all these years, I had never rented it on video, DVD, seen it on TV, or streamed it online, and what do you know it was on TV last night. All this time I thought it was a horror film but it's really about some slimy, half-wit loser playing the information lottery with the police. I guess a million dollars was a lot of money back then, but these days he could never afford the spacious apartment he shares with his girlfriend. Surely I'm not the only one who dislikes Michael Moriarty's dissociative performance, he's all over the map, even more so than Eric Roberts in the Pope of Greenwich Village. If you want eye-rolling mumbling, and half-finished statements, Moriarty is your go-to actor. Luckily, David Carradine and Richard Roundtree are there to take up the slack, the latter in a welcome icy, menacing manner. There is some nonsense about ritualistic sacrifices that doesn't mesh with the winged monster, but the ending promises a sequel that, sadly, never happened. The most alarming thing about this film is the clothes; yes we all dressed like that in 1982.
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Coffy (1973)
8/10
How could you not love this slice of the 1970s
18 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The clothes, the cars, the hair, the decor, the furniture, the music, yes it all really looked like that, as far as I can remember from my childhood anyway. If you like vigilante films even a little, you'll love this one, as Pam Grier's one-woman killing machine takes down an entire drug syndicate to avenge her sister's drug abuse. I've watched this film three times and it just keeps getting better. Where else can you see a man get dragged to his death while tied to a limousine, or Sid Haig stabbed in the neck with a sharpened hairpin, from the main character no less, who also happens to be a nurse. The film works because despite the bloodshed she still has a conscience, stopping to question whether her actions are appropriate. By far my two favorite scenes are when the giant lesbian comes home and the girlfight that all of the men just stand around to watch, like it's some form of entertainment.
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8/10
Holds up well
16 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I first saw this film thirty years ago and watched it again last night and it has held up remarkably well. The sound is terrible, the acting is hit and miss, and the settings look cheap, but for some reason it feels more "real" than a more polished production would have. What drives the drama is Martha's intense jealousy when Ray is wooing other women; she gets into nasty spats with every one of his victims, to unintentionally hilarious effect. This film was probably not meant to be a black comedy, but when one of the victims overdoses on a bus with her tongue hanging out like the death of a cartoon character, she might just as well have had X's over her eyes. In addition, Martha takes every opportunity to mercilessly mock Ray's victims, to sometimes hilarious effect. And I'm paraphrasing here, but you can't help but laugh when Ray bemoans his predicament at being trapped between two fighting women with the phrase "I'm earning my money tonight". And looking through the credits, I'm surprised that this is Mary Jane Higby's only screen performance, in a relatively short span of time she brilliantly takes her character from wide-eyed churchgoer to quarrelling houseguest to terrified victim bargaining for her life; her death is just as over-the-top as any of the murders in "Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer".
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9/10
Just as good as Carnival of Souls
24 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
How did I miss this gem all these years. By far the most terrifying imagery in the film, besides the surgery, is Christiane wearing her mask. She floats around the scenery like a porcelain doll come to life, head held erect, her eyes trapped behind a thin layer of material. Her father already knows what she looks like, why does she have to wear it? Because he's ashamed that he caused her disfigurement. The doctor and his assistant are the worst kind of ghouls, average-looking people who have normalized horror to the point where they are accustomed to it, except for one brief moment in the beginning of the film, when the assistant has second thoughts. Like I said in my summary above, this film has the same practical approach to horror, and the same kind of creepy music, as Carnival of Souls, another favorite of mine. I'm going to be thinking about this one for a long time.
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Krampus (I) (2015)
2/10
Poor writing
7 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Based on the reviews I was prepared to see sophisticated horror but got an aimless ninety minutes of mostly boredom. Here are the main issues I have with this film:

1) Daughter is missing, mom calmly goes about her normal routine. Any mother in the world would be climbing the walls with worry.

2) Son gets yanked up the chimney, dad doesn't seem too put out by it. If this happened in real life, the whole family would be upset, screaming, terrified, instead they just return to their normal routine. The film takes great pains to set us in reality, then expects the viewer to accept the characters' calm reactions to missing family members. Either go full on horror or broad comedy or something, but make it believable.

3) Grandma says keep the fire burning, she's right there in the living room, why can't she keep it burning?

4) The backstory makes ZERO SENSE. She's given a loaf of bread that people take from her, why would they take her bread? It's a major city, of course they would have bread for everyone already. If they're too poor to afford bread, they can't afford Christmas anyway, so why would krampus come because they're poor? Someone didn't think these things through while they were writing the story.

5) The characters have all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. The main kid is too old to believe in Santa Claus. The visiting family are painted with broad brush strokes, too obnoxious to be taken seriously, in a film that asks you to suspend disbelief and then is too lazy to write believable characters. The fat aunt marches into the kitchen and criticizes mom's cooking, NO ONE WOULD DO THAT. A talented writer with a lighter touch could have handled that scene with aplomb.

I had been looking forward to seeing this film for some time and was greatly disappointed.
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