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Real name: Joe Wawrzyniak
Hair: Rapidly receding, but what's still left is dirty blonde & often uncombed
Eyes: Piercing blue. Not exactly Meg Fosterish, but leaning in that striking direction
Favorite hat: Fedora, a man's hat
Favorite shirt: loud Hawaiian shirts, the uglier the better
Favorite pants: Khaki, usually rumpled
Date of birth: June 1st, 1972
Homestate: New Jersey, where both myself and the drive-in were born
Height: 6 feet, 4 inches, very tall
Weight: 215 pounds, really thin
Nicknames: The Woodman, The Woodster,
The Woodmeister, Awesome Anders
Mr. Wood, Woody A, Good Ol' WA, Woods,
Woody Baby (ladies only, please)
Persona: Film nerd and damn proud of it
Voice: Deep, oily, soothing pus ooze late night disc jockey tenor
Favorite song: "Una Paloma Blanca" 2005 remix by George Baker
Motto: "If you wanna be the s**t, you gotta know your s**t. Otherwise, you ain't s**t."
Religion: Godless heathen atheist and proud of it, too
I'm especially fond of horror and exploitation movies. I think the 70's was the best-ever decade for film. Watch a lot of cult movies and drive-in films; the sleazier and/or weirder they are, the more I dig 'em. Enjoy out of the mainstream independent films, rock pics, sci-fi end-of-the-world items and made-for-TV movies as well.
Just to stop my life from being too dull I have a little sideline hobby singing downhome Southern-fried country and western music. I'm the lead singer/songwriter in a funky band called Hillbilly Joe and the Jersey Bumpkins. We're a bunch of s**t-kickin', fiddle-pickin', banjo-pluckin' rowdy rednecks who love to spit, chew, screw and drink Mountain Dew (and I ain't talkin' 'bout the soda). We perform at truckstops, greasy spoons, swap meets, flea markets, seedy honkytonk dives, trailer parks, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and especially church social gatherings every Sunday afternoon. Songs we perform include such good, clean, wholesome family numbers as "Thank God I'm A Country *beep* "On the Floor Again," "I *beep* Your Sister and She's A Lousy Lay," and "The Wife Beating Song." The latter charming ditty I wrote in fifteen minutes at the tail end of a severe weekend whiskey bender. The lyrics are as follows:
I punch the dawg
I kick the cat
I beat the wife
With a bat
She called the cops
I'm in jail
Spendin' the night
Can't pay bail
While I'm here
I really hope
My hairy cellmate Bubba
Don't drop the soap
Now, isn't that a truly special song just ripe to bursting with wit, warmth, tasteful humor and a teeming surplus of poignant heartfelt humanity? Your darn totin' it sure is. Keep watching "American Idol" because I'm gonna be on it any day now.
I also act in hard-core porno films under the alias IGiveYouMyWood. Among the hard-core movies I've starred in are "Layin' the Ladies," "Stickin' It to Your Sister," "Lovin' My Cousin" (a Hillbilly Joe favorite), and the sentimental yuletide classic "Santa's Special Sausage." All these films and many more can be ordered from the following website: www.getmywood.com.
Moreover, I'm a shameless hack writer who does numerous film reviews and articles for such underground publications as "Vex," "Cult Movies" (my article on Bigfoot films was nominated for a Rondo Award in 2003, but alas I didn't win), "The Exploitation Journal," "Screem," and "Shock Cinema." I also write album reviews for a local Garden State rock zine called "Jersey Beat."
I average at one film comment a day on the IMDb and even write snappy little bios on such lesser known actors and actresses as Vic Diaz, Victor Israel, Joy Bang, Michael Ironside, Michelle Stacy, James Whitworth, Frances Raines, Roberta Collins, Rick Dean, Candice Rialson, Monica Gayle, Harley Cross, Bill Thurman, Michael Sopkiw, Nicholas Worth, Jennifer Ashley, Sondra Currie, Bruno VeSota, Sharon Kelly, Tim Thomerson, Tony Musante, Lina Romay, Pamela Franklin, Kelli Maroney, Jewel Shepard, Starr Andreeff, and Patty Shepard. I've also written bios for such directors as Richard Compton (R.I.P.), my good friend Keith Crocker, William Lustig, Jeff Lieberman, Jeff Burr, Fred Dekker, Kevin S. Tenney, Lewis Teague, Jack Arnold, Lee Frost, Don Edmonds, and Gary Sherman. In a pitiful attempt at displaying range and versatility, I've whipped up bios for longtime favorite singer/songwriters Kim Carnes, Carol Connors, Jackie DeShannon, John Prine, Joe South and Tony Joe White, country singers Dave Dudley and Eddie Rabbitt, blues singer/guitarist T-Model Ford, rock'n'roll guitarists Davie Allan and Link Wray, and crime novelist Charles Willeford. In fact, I have over 1,000 mini-bios posted all over the IMDb and am currently listed as #3 in the IMDb statistics top twenty list of writers on mini-bios. Plus I add pieces of trivia and quotes for folks all over the IMDb (one of the folks I've added several quotes for is none other than Fred Astaire!). Hell, I even add magazine interviews, pictorials and cover photos, too. And TV commercials, too. I'm not a prolific writer; I'm just a guy who writes a lot.
I would love to hear from film fans the world over. I hope you enjoy my writing and comments.
I own more DVDs than I care to list and have seen more movies than I would care to admit to. I average three or fours DVDs a week, so my collection gets bigger and bigger all the time. Before you ask, I store my DVDs in a very large basement. I also store the bodies of stray drifters I pick on the way home from work in my basement as well. Wait a minute; forget that last sentence. I actually eat as much of the bodies as I can (thus saving money on food so I can buy more DVDs) and burn what I can't eat in my incinerator (thus saving money on heating as well). When in Jersey be sure to stop by my house. I'd be glad to have you over for diner. However, you wouldn't be a guest in my house; you would be the main course instead. Cheers!
Columbo: Short Fuse (1972)
Blowing up uncle
Annoying and immature chemical company heir Roger Stanford (a delightfully obnoxious performance by Roddy McDowall) bumps off his stern uncle David Buckner (ably played to the gruff hilt by James Gregory) so he can take over his uncle's business. Roger almost gets away with it, but Roger's aunt Doris (a fine portrayal by Ida Lupino) suspects foul play and Lt. Columbo (the always fantastic Peter Falk) gets assigned to investigate the case.
McDowall has himself a field day as a supremely irritating and entitled twerp; it's a joy to watch Columbo get on this jerk's nerves and eventually ensnare him in a clever trap. Moreover, there are sturdy supporting contributions from Anne Francis as perky secretary Valerie Bishop and William Windom as dignified executive Everett Logan. Columbo getting queasy while high up in the air in a cable car rates as the definite comic highlight. The climax in said cable car with Roger losing his cool while Columbo fiddles with a cigar box is a real corker, too.
Columbo: Lady in Waiting (1971)
The mouse who becomes a lion
Meek and browbeaten heiress Beth Chadwick (superbly played by Susan Clark) murders her overbearing brother Bryce (an excellent portrayal by Richard Anderson) and tries to make it look like a tragic accident. But of course Lt. Columbo (the marvelous Peter Falk) suspects otherwise.
Clark has an absolute ball with her juicy role: Beth's transformation from dowdy wallflower to chic clotheshorse is a delight to behold while her newfound more brash and aggressive attitude rubs some folks the wrong way including and especially her boyfriend Peter Hamilton (a fine performance by Leslie Nielsen). It's also interesting how Beth's personality change makes her increasingly less sympathetic as the story unfolds. Director Norman Lloyd brings some snazzy visual flourishes to the proceedings as maintains a constant pace throughout. Moreover, Jessie Royce Landis contributes a strong turn as Beth's snooty and disapproving mother. Columbo's uncanny knack for incidental details serves him well here: This time it's a newspaper on a table that tips him off that something is amiss. An on the money episode.
Once Upon a Time in Venice (2017)
Bruce Willis really wants his dog back
Easygoing private eye Steven Ford (a lively and engaging performance by Bruce Willis) has his beloved dog Buddy stolen by a local gang. Ford forms an uneasy alliance with fearsome drug dealer Spyder (nicely played by Jason Mamoa) to get Buddy back.
Director Mark Cullen keeps enjoyable story moving along at a steady pace, maintains a likeable breezy tone throughout, and offers a flavorsome evocation of the sunny California beachside setting. The neat assortment of colorful characters adds immensely to the infectiously zany fun.
Moreover, the enthusiastic cast have a ball with the wacky material: John Goodman as Ford's laidback best friend Dave, Thomas Middleditch as eager partner John, Adam Goldberg as stingy businessman Lew, Famke Janssen as Ford's down and out sister Katey, Wood Harris as smooth operator Prince, Jennifer Gomes as the sweet Nola, Stephanie Sigman as foxy moll Lupe, Ken Davitian as amiable loan shark Yuri, Kal Penn as irate convenience store clerk Rajeesh, and Christopher McDonald as corrupt real estate mogul Mr. Carter. A total hoot.
The welcome return of Coffin Joe
Evil and unrepentant undertaker Coffin Joe (Jose Mojica Marins in splendidly sinister form) continues to terrorize a small town while searching for the ideal woman to bear him a perfect son.
Marins once again does an ace job of creating and sustaining an extremely creepy, morbid, and unsettling gloom-doom atmosphere: Besides lively and unnerving attacks by spiders and snakes, a marvelously delirious descent into hell that's done in bold color rates as the definite horrific and hallucinatory highlight. Moreover, Coffin Joe is just as heinous, sadistic, and gleefully blasphemous as ever, which in turn makes his harsh comeuppance at the end that much more satisfying. All in all, a very nice slice of in-your-face brutal Gothic horror.
The birth of a Brazilian horror legend
Evil and unscrupulous grave digger Coffin Joe (a creepy portrayal by Joe Mojica Marins, who also co-wrote the script and directed) terrorizes a small town while searching for the perfect woman to bear him a son.
Marins expertly crafts a supremely spooky and unsettling midnight-in-the-graveyard gloom-doom atmosphere on a modest budget. Moreover, the moments of brutal violence pack a savage punch. Whether he's blithely tormenting the superstitious locals or ruthlessly murdering anyone who stands in his wicked way, Coffin Joe makes for a deliciously vicious and sadistic villain. In addition, it's a total treat to see Coffin Joe get his rightful gruesome comeuppance in the rousing and harrowing climax. Good ghoulish fun.
The Hamiltons (2006)
A pretty sick family
Four siblings who are all harboring a dark family secret struggle to survive after their parents die under mysterious circumstances.
Writers/directors the Butcher Brothers do a bang-up job of crafting the kind of brooding low-key horror film that quietly gets under the viewer's skin: The deliberate pace, commendably restrained use of gore, a genuinely touching sense of pathos, and the firm grounding of the twisted premise in a plausibly mundane workaday reality all lull the viewer into a false sense of security that's completely shattered at the startling conclusion.
The sound acting from the capable cast rates as another substantial asset: Cory Knauf as the moody Francis, Samuel Child as the stressed-out David, Joesph McKelheer as mischievous bad boy Wendell, and Mackenzie Firgens as the supremely naughty and sexy Darlene. Brittany Daniel, Jena Hunt, and Rebekah Hoyle are all also memorable as various hapless victims of the deadly and dangerous Hamilton clan. A neat little fright film.
Elsie Hooper (2016)
Ridley Hooper (nicely voiced by Sean Bridgers) finds out that his little sister Elsie has been abducted by evil creatures known as Shadowmen. Armed only with a shotgun, Ridley ventures into the dangerous darkness to get his sister back.
Writer/director Robert D. Krzykowski brings a fun pulpy sensibility to the neat premise that proves to be both appealing and enjoyable in equal measure. Moreover, Krzykowski makes nifty use of the widescreen format along with such funky old school stylistic flourishes as wipes and split screen. The puppet protagonist and creatures look pretty gnarly, too. Well worth a watch.
Coward of the County (1981)
Sometimes you got to fight when you're a man
Tommy Spencer (a fine and likeable performance by Fredric Lehne) makes a promise to his father on his deathbed to be a lifelong pacifist. However, Tommy has trouble keeping said promise after the no-count Gatlin brothers have their wicked way with his girlfriend Becky (an appealing portrayal by Largo Woodruff).
Director Dick Lowry relates the engrossing story at a steady pace, offers a vivid evocation of the sleepy small town setting that's further enhanced by a flavorsome early 1940's period atmosphere, and maintains an engaging earnest tone throughout.
The sound acting by the capable cast helps a lot: Kenny Rogers as amiable preacher Uncle Matthew, Mariclare Costello as Tommy's feisty mother Emma, Noble Willingham as the hearty Car-Wash, and Joe Dorsey as the mean Lem Gatlin. William Schreiner, Frank Koppala, and Todd Waring are appropriately despicable as the Gatlin brothers. A nice little movie.
Zhong guo ji zhang (2019)
An excellent and exciting disaster thriller
Tough veteran pilot Captain Liu Changjian (superbly played with considerable steely resolve by Hanyu Zhang) and his flight crew have to do their best to hold it together in order to ensure the safety of the passengers aboard a commercial airliner that finds itself in great jeopardy after a cockpit window shatters 30,000 feet in the air.
Director Andrew Lau keeps the gripping story hurtling along at a brisk pace, takes time to develop the flight crew (the passengers are also drawn with some depth), generates a tremendous amount of nerve-rattling tension (the plane flying through a turbulent storm cloud rates as an especially harrowing set piece), and keeps any corny melodrama to a refreshing minimum. The fine acting from the sturdy cast helps a whole lot, with stand-out contributions from Hao Ou as eager copilot Xu Yichen, Jiang Du as the stalwart Liang Dong, and Quan Yuan as resolute senior flight attendant Bi Nan. A real nail-biter.
Chain Letter (2010)
Better forward the chain letter or you'll pay with your life
A bunch of high school friends run afoul of a sinister chain letter that if it's not passed forward, the latest recipient of said chain letter gets brutally murdered by a vicious hulking psycho (a fearsome portrayal by Michael Bailey Smith).
Director/co-writer Dean Taylor keeps the enjoyably twisted story moving along at a constant pace, maintains a harsh'n'gritty tone throughout, delivers a handy helping of bloody gore, offers a pertinent message about the potential perils of modern technology linking everyone together, ably crafts a creepy gloom-doom atmosphere, and tosses in some tasty gratuitous female nudity for trashy good measure.
Several familiar faces in nifty supporting roles further adds to the grisly fun: Keith David and Betsy Russell as a pair of baffled detectives, Brad Dourif as a weirdo teacher, and Charles Fleischer as an expert profiler. The moments of sadistic violence pack a savage punch. A nice slice of nasty Grade B horror slasher trash.
Columbo: Suitable for Framing (1971)
The conniving art critic
A wealthy art collector appears to have been killed in a robbery gone wrong. The man's smug and pompous art critic nephew Dale Kingston (a deliciously smarmy portrayal by Ross Martin) has a too tidy alibi for where he was when his uncle got murdered that naturally arouses Lt. Columbo's (the always marvelous Peter Falk) suspicion.
Martin brings a delightfully obnoxious haughtiness to his role as one of the show's more eminently annoying culprits; it's a treat to watch the shabby, but savvy Columbo finally nail this unpleasant tool of a guy with an especially crafty plan. Director Hy Averback brings some real flair to the show; the constant cutaways to the various paintings of people staring like silent witnesses to Dale killing his uncle and making it look like a robbery rates as a particularly inspired touch. This episode further benefits from an excellent guest cast: Don Ameche as suave lawyer Frank Simpson, Kim Hunter as the dotty Edna Matthews, Joan Shawlee as jolly art gallery owner Mitilda, Rosanna Hoffman as nervous accomplice Tracy O'Connor, Mary Wickes as a snoopy landlady, and Vic Tayback as gruff hack artist Sam Franklin. And the final image of Columbo wearing the gloves is simply perfect.
The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
Nifty sci-fi/horror thriller
An energy crisis threatens the earth in the near future. A space station crew test a special device that's supposed to solve the worldwide energy crisis find themselves in considerable jeopardy when they uncover a dark and dangerous alternate reality instead.
Director Julius Onah relates the absorbing story at a constant pace, ably crafts an edgy paranoid atmosphere, maintains a grimly serious tone throughout, stages the exciting action with flair, and builds a good deal of nerve-wracking tension. Moreover, there's a pleasingly pronounced human element that gives this picture extra depth and poignancy.
The sound acting from the sturdy international cast helps a lot: Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the sensitive Hamilton, David Oyelowo as no-nonsense commander Kiel, Daniel Bruhl as the nerdy Schmidt, John Ortiz as the religious Monk, Chris O'Dowd as the easygoing Mundy, Askel Hennie as the antagonistic Volkov, Ziyi Zhang as the tough Tam, Elizabeth Debicki as the duplicitous Jensen, and Roger Davies as Hamilton's concerned husband Michael. The surprise ending is a real doozy. Excellent special effects, too. A neat movie.
Columbo: Dead Weight (1971)
Getting the goods on a war hero
Esteemed war hero Major General Martin J. Hollister (an excellent performance by Eddie Albert) shoots and kills his business partner. The murder is witnessed from a distance by Helen Stewart (a fine and appealing portrayal by Suzanne Pleshette), who Hollister attempts to manipulate into believing she didn't see what she saw. Fortunately, Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk in top sly form) is on the case.
Albert's considerable avuncular charm and polite demeanor makes him one of the more personable killers to appear on this show. However, Hollister's cockiness and fierce pride in all his possessions ultimately gets him caught as he tries to hide the murder weapon in plain sight at a military museum. Pleshette proves to be this episode's definite highlight thanks to the touching vulnerability she brings to her character. Kate Reid provides plenty of spark as Helen's snippy mother Mrs. Walters while Timothy Carey puts in a welcome appearance as friendly greasy spoon owner Bert. Alas, the story for this one strains credibility at times and the conclusion is kind of blah. But overall still an enjoyable episode.
The Loft (2014)
Five married guys share a secret penthouse in the city where they can go to carry out their illicit adulterous affairs. Complications ensue when the dead body of an unknown woman is discovered in said penthouse.
Director Erik Van Looy relates the compelling story at a steady pace, maintains a tough cold tone throughout, and generates a good deal of tension. Wesley Strick's sharp script delivers a few neat twists and turns as well as nicely explores the themes of loyalty and betrayal amongst friends.
The excellent acting from the tip-top cast helps a lot: Karl Urban as charming and manipulative ringleader Vincent Stevens, James Marsden as the decent and conflicted Chris Vanowen, Wentworth Miller as the nerdy Luke Seacord, Eric Stonestreet as sleazy zhlub Marty Landry, Matthias Schoenaerts as volatile cokehead Philip Trauner, Isabel Lucas as foxy blonde Sarah Deakins, Rachael Taylor as alluring hooker Anne Morris, and Rhona Mitri as the bitter Allison. A cool movie.
Left Behind (2014)
Nifty Airport-style Christian disaster opus
Veteran pilot Ray Steele (an admirably sincere performance by Nicolas Cage) fights to keep his composure and land a plane full of passengers after millions of people around the world suddenly disappear including most of Steele's flight crew. Meanwhile, chaos erupts on the streets below.
Director Vic Armstrong treats the outrageous premise with commendable seriousness, generates a good deal of tension, takes time to develop the characters, and keeps the gripping story moving along at a constant pace. Moreover, the scenes of confusion, disarray, and disorder caused by the catastrophe are handled well while the emergency landing of the plane proves to be quite thrilling and suspenseful.
The game cast come through like champions: Lea Thompson as perky religious fanatic Irene, Cassi Thompson as the sassy Chloe, Chad Michael Murray as charming hunk Buck Williams, Nicky Whelan as foxy flight attendant Hattie Durham, Jordin Sparks as distraught mother Shasta Carvell, Gary Grubbs as greedy businessman Dennis Beese, and Martin Klebba as angry midget Melvin Weir. Much better than its poor reputation would suggest.
Black Roses (1988)
Rock'n'roll will destroy your soul!
The hard-rock group Black Roses arrive in a small town to do a live concert performance. Turns out the band are actually evil demons in disguise who cause the local teens to do all kinds of horrible stuff thanks to their wicked music.
Director John Fasano, who previously blessed us with the gloriously ridiculous "Rock'n'Roll Nightmare," once again delivers the deliciously cheesy vintage 80's over-the-top heavy metal horror goods: We've got a delightfully bonkers story, several gnarly demon monsters, a few choice scenes with teenagers killing their own parents, a seriously groovy head-banging soundtrack, an exciting fiery climax, and even a little tasty gratuitous female nudity for trashy good measure. John Martin as a concerned English teacher makes for a likeable protagonist while ever-reliable old pros Ken Swofford as the amiable mayor and Julie Adams as an uptight bluenose biddy lend sturdy support. Vincent Pastore of "The Sopranos" fame pops up in a small role as a disapproving dad who gets offed by a rubbery puppet beast. A total kitschy hoot and a half.
Neat revenge thriller
Young mother Riley North (a fine and fierce performance by Jennifer Garner) loses both her husband and daughter in a savage drive-by shooting. Fiver years later, Riley comes out of self isolation to exact revenge on the various people responsible as well as the crooked system that enables said people to get away with murder.
Director Pierre Morel relates the familiar, but still absorbing and enjoyable story at a constant pace, maintains a tough gritty tone throughout, and stages the exciting action with flair and skill. The sound acting from the capable cast keeps this film humming: John Gallegher Jr. As the sensitive Detective Stan Carmichael, John Ortiz as the cynical Detective Moises Beltran, Juan Pablo Raba as ruthless drug lord Diego Garcia, Annie Ilonzen as no-nonsense FBI agent Lisa Inmun, Jeff Hephner as amiable husband Chris, and Cailey Fleming as adorable daughter Carly. Best of all, Garner brings a winning blend of toughness and vulnerability to her determined and deeply sympathetic vigilante heroine character. An on the money movie.
Columbo: Death Lends a Hand (1971)
Columbo's first accidental killer
Short-tempered former cop turned private investigator Brimmer (an excellent performance by Robert Culp) accidentally kills adulteress Lenore Kennicutt (nicely played by Pat Crowley) in a fit of rage. Brimmer attempts to cover up the murder only to have the ever-pesky and persistent Lt. Columbo (a terrific Peter Falk) put a kibosh on things.
This episode presents the first time someone commits a murder that they didn't plan on doing. It's fun to see Brimmer help Columbo out with his investigation and even offer Columbo a job working for his agency. Moreover, Columbo displays his usual bumbling persona to amusing comic effect, with the funny highlight being when he mistakes a closet for an exit door. Ray Milland lends sturdy support as no-nonsense rich guy Arthur. Best of all, director Bernard Kowalski delivers some inventive stylistic flourishes and striking visuals; the murder set piece and subsequent clean up of said murder is especially well done.
Columbo: Murder by the Book (1971)
Jack Cassidy nails his cocky character
Ken Franklin (superbly played to the smug hilt by Jack Cassidy), who's the less talented of a best-selling murder mystery writing duo, kills his partner Jim (a nice portrayal by Martin Milner) and makes it look like someone else did it. But naturally Lt. Columbo (the marvelous Peter Falk) suspects otherwise.
Steven Spielberg directs this episode with smooth assurance, displays an impressive visual flair, and keeps the camera moving without drawing attention to itself. The script by future "Hill Street Blues" show creator Steven Bochco proves to be quite clever as well. Barbara Colby contributes an amusing turn as smitten country store owner Lilly La Sanka, who clumsily attempts to blackmail Franklin. Falk as Columbo exudes tremendous shabby charm, especially when he cooks an omelet for Jim's widow Joanna (a sympathetic Rosemary Forsyth). But it's Jack Cassidy's deliciously smarmy and overconfident killer who gives this particular episode an extra special kick; it's a total treat to watch Columbo zero in on this pompous jerk.
Rousing martial arts thriller
MMA champion Jacob Casa (a solid and likeable performance by Ian Ignacia) wants to retire from fighting, but is forced to participate in an illegal underground fight competition run by evil wealthy drug lord Henry Tan (well played to the ruthless hilt by Gus Liem).
Writer/director Vincent Soberano keeps the enjoyable and engrossing story zipping along at a snappy pace as well as maintains a tough gritty tone throughout. Moreover, the brutal down'n'dirty fights deliver the exciting goods.
The sound acting from the capable cast helps a lot: Rhian Ramos as Jacob's sweet pregnant wife Annie, Sarah Chang as the spunky and enthusiastic Mei Li, Monsour Del Rosario as the helpful Sensei Mike Vasquez, Paul Allica as eager and arrogant lackey James Lowe, Christian Vasquez as despicable scumbag Allen, and director Soberano as the hard-nosed Detective Tony Pascual. A really cool movie.
The Mechanic (2011)
Elite professional assassin Arthur Bishop (a sturdy and credible performance by Jason Statham) gets tricked into killing his mentor and close friend Harry (nicely played by Donald Sutherland). Complications ensue when Arthur decides to make Harry's volatile son Steve (an excellent portrayal by Ben Foster) his new protege.
Director Simon West keeps the gripping story hurtling along at a breathless fast pace, but still manages to take time to develop the two main characters. Moreover, West maintains a tough gritty tone throughout, stages the exciting action with rip-roaring aplomb, and offers a flavorsome evocation of the New Orleans setting. Tony Goldwyn positively oozes as the slipper Dean, Jeff Chase cuts a fearsome figure as hulking brute Burke, and Mini Anden contributes a pleasingly sexy turn as foxy prostitute Sarah. The cool twist ending from the 1973 original is mostly retained, but with one substantial change that hurts the movie a bit. That minor criticism aside, overall a real cool and enjoyable movie.
A Talking Cat!?! (2013)
The cinematic equivalent to a hairball
Boy, did this so-called "movie" prove to be a total stinker. For starters, director David DeCoteau makes ridiculously excessive overuse of establishing shots in order to pad out the running time to a reasonable feature length. The drawn-out ending credits further compound the severity of this particular issue. Worse yet, both the characters and their assorted silly antics comes across as tiresome and annoying instead of funny and enjoyable. Moreover, it's especially grim and depressing to see faded names Johnny Whitaker and Kristine DeBell goof their way through this dopey mess. As for the voice of the titular cat provided by Eric Roberts, well it sounds like Roberts was recorded on a portable phone while sitting in a closet, plus Roberts puts zero emotion into his line readings. The supremely irritating and mechanically bouncy music doesn't help matters any in the least. Ditto the primitive (far from) special effects that were done to make it look like the cat's lips are moving whenever it talks to someone. Oh well, at least Squeaky the cat was fairly cute. A real chore to endure.
Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare (1987)
This movie lives to rock!
Heavy metal band the Trittons fronted by lead singer John (the almighty Jon-Mikl Thor, who also wrote the silly script and produced this film) go to an isolated farmhouse to record some new music. Turns out said farmhouse has some kind of evil supernatural force running rampant in it.
Director John Fasano really delivers the oh-so-gnarly 80's bad movie goods: We've got hilariously obvious rubber puppet monsters, righteous head-banging music, terrible acting from a lame no-name cast, an absurd story that's played ludicrously straight, lots of big poofy hair, a little tasty gratuitous female nudity, a ridiculous doozy of a surprise plot twist, and a positively epic climatic battle between Thor and the devil. A deliciously cheesy hoot and a half.
Where We Disappear (2019)
Serving hard time in a Russian prison.
1945, Russia. Young mother Anastasia (a fine performance by Georgina Haig) gets sent to a brutal Soviet gulag in the wake of killing her abusive war hero husband.
Director Simon Fink relates the grimly gripping story at a constant pace, maintains a harsh gritty tone throughout, and astutely captures the bleak and oppressive world of the gulag. Arthur M. Jolly's hard-hitting script spells out in no uncertain terms the savage extreme lengths people will resort to in the name of survival.
The strong cast definitely rise to the challenge of the sinewy material, with especially stand-out work from Jolene Anderson as ruthless top con Masha, Katharine Isabelle as the sickly, but angry Lubov, Vera Cherny as the mousy Prushka, and Asa Wallander as the kindly Svetlana. A potent and impressive little film.
Stuck in a strange town
Four lifelong friends on a road trip stop off in the small Texas town of Marfa. Turns out that there's some weird stuff happening in said town that the quartet get caught up in.
Writer/director Andy Stapp relates the compelling story at a steady pace, ably crafts an intriguing aura of mystery, takes time to develop the four likeable protagonists, and makes a profound philosophical point about learning to accept one's ultimate fate. Moreover, Brittany Jo Alvarado, Kyle Colton, Marcus Jahn, and Tracy Perez all give solid and engaging performances as the four friends.
The colorful and eccentric supporting characters further add to this movie's quirky appeal, with especially stand-out contributions from Stelio Savante as an enigmatic hitchhiker, Tony Todd as the easygoing mayor, Kimberly Christann Pember as a friendly waitress, and Richard Riehle as an amiable gas station cashier. The big reveal at the end is pretty predictable, but still cool just the same. A neat little film.