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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!
Truth or Dare (2017)
Do the dare or the dare does you
Eight college friends go to an old house that's rumored to be haunted on Halloween weekend. The group find themselves in great jeopardy when a game of Truth or Dare turns deadly serious.
Director Nick Simon relates the gripping story at a constant pace, takes time to develop the characters, makes good use of the rundown house main location, ably crafts a creepy gloom-doom mood, and generates a considerable amount of tension. Moreover, this film earns extra points for not punking out on its harsh premise: The dares get more increasingly nasty and severe as the plot unfolds, with high stakes and grave consequences for everyone involved along with a handy helping of graphic gore. The sound acting by the capable cast keeps this movie humming, with especially praiseworthy work by Cassandra Scerbo as the perky Alex, Brytni Sarpy as the foxy Maddie, Mason Dye as the selfless Tyler, Harvey Guillen as the amiable Holt, Christina Masterson as the sassy Addison, and Heather Langenkamp as scarred survivor Donna. A neat little scarefest.
A treat for slasher fans
2015. Deranged high school kid Patrick "Trick" Weaver (a frighteningly intense portrayal by Thom Niemann) butchers a bunch of classmates at a Halloween party. Despite being arrested and shot several times by Detective Mike Denver (a fine performance by Omar Epps), Trick somehow survives and continues to terrorize various towns on every Halloween.
Director/co-writer Patrick Lussier relates the familiar, but still enjoyable and absorbing story at a snappy pace, adroitly crafts a creepy mood, offers a flavorsome Halloween atmosphere, delivers a handy helping of nasty gore, maintains a no-holds-barred tough'n'gritty tone throughout, and pulls off a very clever and neat twist in the last third. Better still, Lussier's fiercely efficient and refreshingly straightforward meat'n'potatoes approach.to the premise works like total gangbusters.
The sturdy acting from a tip-top cast helps a whole lot: Ellen Adair as the no-nonsense Sheriff Lisa Jayne, Kristina Reyes as the feisty Cheryl Winston, Tom Atkins as crusty old guy Talbott, Jerome Charvet as the jittery Deputy Slater, Sasha Diamond as the spunky Deputy Iris Reddick, and Todd Farmer as the rugged Deputy Wan. Trick makes for a scarily anonymous and seemingly indestructible bogeyman figure while the moments of bloody'n'brutal violence pack a ferocious punch. An on the money slice'n'dice winner.
Cool premise undermined by muddled execution
Misfit teenager Simon (a solid and credible performance by Liam Hughes) makes his own comic books filled with all kinds of violent content. After the mysterious angel of death figure Hannah (well played with deliciously wicked lip-smacking relish by Daisy Ridley in her film debut) shows up, people close to Simon start dying for real just like in his comics.
While the central premise is certainly inspired and interesting, alas said premise is often reduced to an incoherent mess by writer/director Peter Hearn's inability to tell a story in a clear and comprehensible manner. Moreover, this film suffers from too many characters who are hard to keep track of. On the plus side, Hearn does succeed in creating a spooky and unsettling mood, there are some nice bits of gore, and the film is well shot in crisp widescreen, so it's not a total loss. That said, this movie could and should have been much better considering the novelty of the premise.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
An early 80's teen gem
The ups and downs of the lives of various teenagers attending Ridgemont High School in California over the course of a single frantic year.
Director Amy Heckerling and writer Cameron Crowe present a perfectly judged mix of humor and drama. Moreover, Crowe's smart and astute script not only addresses the issue of teenage sex with consequences with refreshingly upfront candor, but also grounds the episodic narrative in an entirely plausible middleclass reality by showing the assorted kids actually working at their thankless minimum wage-paying jobs.
Granted, the characters might very well be types, but they are still nonetheless believable and familiar people who we all knew in grade school: Eager virgin Stacy (a radiant portrayal by Jennifer Jason Leigh), her more seemingly worldly best gap pal Linda (Phoebe Cates at her most gorgeous and enchanting), happy-go-lucky senior Brad (likeable Judge Reinhold), shy nerd Mark Ratner (amiable Brian Backer), slick hustler Mike Damone (smoothly played by Robert Romanus), perky cheerleader Cindy (adorable Keli Maloney), and bumbling doofus Arnold (a nice turn by Scott Thomson). Sean Penn almost steals the whole show with his inspired performance as laid-back surfer stoner Jeff Spicoli, whose classroom altercations with strict history teacher Mr. Hand (a marvelously crusty Ray Walston) provide the movie's best and biggest laughs. It's also a treat to see such future stars as Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards, and Nicolas Cage in small parts. Further galvanized by a choice bouncy soundtrack (the Cars, the Go Go's, Jimmy Buffett, Sammy Hagar, Joe Walsh, Stevie Nicks, and Jackson Browne amongst other notables), this simply delightful winner wholly deserves its cult classic status.
Last Ones Out (2015)
Dodging zombies in South Africa
Selfish American Henry Williamson (a sturdy and lively performance by Greg Krieck) and several others must make a desperate and dangerous trek across a hostile landscape in search of safety in the wake of a zombie outbreak in South Africa.
Writer/director Howard James Fyvie keeps the familiar, but still absorbing and enjoyable story zipping along at a breathless brisk pace, generates a good deal of tension along with a strong sense of urgency, makes nice use of the South African locations, and tosses in a few touching moments of humanity amid all the expected harrowing carnage. The solid acting by the able cast keeps this movie humming: Christia Visser as the feisty Sunet, Ishamo Sebe as the noble Siseko, Vukile Zuma as the easygoing Vincent, and Mfihlakalo Mazwembe as the friemdly Ayanda. Moreover, the zombies are fast, ferocious and frightening while the surprise grim ending packs a jolting punch. Granted, this film offers nothing new, but it's still well done and hence quite satisfying just the same.
The Scribbler (2014)
Unleashing the real you
Mentally ill young lass Suki (a strong and intense portrayal by Katie Cassidy) undergoes experimental treatment in order to eradicate her more destructive multiple personalities. However, said treatment leads Suzi to think that maybe there's more to her disorder than she initially thought.
Director John Suits relates the offbeat and absorbing story at a constant pace, maintains a suitably grim'n'gritty tone throughout, does a very persuasive job of presenting Suzi's fractured mental state, and adroitly crafts a brooding gloom-doom atmosphere. Dan Schaffer's bold script offers a fascinating and provocative exploration of madness, despair, and the difficult struggle of realizing one's full potential that ultimately becomes some kind of right-on bizarre superhero origin tale.
The quirky and colorful array of weird characters add immensely to this movie's off-kilter appeal. The sound acting by the capable cast rates as another significant asset: Garret Dillahunt as Suzi's token loyal friend Hogan, Michelle Trachtenberg as the mean Alice, Eliza Dushku as no-nonsense criminal psychologist Silk, Michael Imperioli as cynical detective Moss, Billy Campbell as concerned shrink Sinclair, Gina Gershon as vampy nympho Cleo, Aslynn Yennie as brazen exhibitionist Emily, and Sasha Grey as the defeated Bunny. Mark Putnam's shadowy widescreen cinematography provides an appropriately dark look. A cool oddball flick.
Dropping out of life
Successful, but discontent suburban lawyer Howard Wakefield (superbly played by Bryan Cranston) decides to step away from his unrewarding humdrum lifestyle by living in seclusion in the attic of his garage. However, Wakefield still keeps tabs on his estranged wife Diana (a sturdy portrayal by Jennifer Garner) and two daughters by spying on them from afar.
Writer/director Robin Swicord relates the compellingly offbeat story at a measured pace, astutely pegs the numbing monotony and complacency of everyday upper-crust suburbanite existence, offers a nice mix of pathos and humor, and provides a thoughtful and provocative exploration on the concept of self-worth and how much a person matters in the lives of other people. Better still, Cranston brilliantly captures the quiet anguish and desperation of a broken down man who's fed up with his lackluster lot in life and yearns to have a second chance at a better one. Granted, the premise does strain credibility at times, but overall this is an interesting and refreshingly different film.
M.D.C. - Maschera di cera (1997)
Tasty Italian horror shocker
1900: Paris, France. A couple are murdered by a crazed maniac with a metal claw that a little girl witnesses. 12 years later a new wax museum opens in Rome, Italy and the murders begin anew, with the little girl now a beautiful grown woman who works at the wax museum.
Director Sergio Stivaletti relates the enjoyably twisted story at a steady pace, offers a flavorsome turn-of-the-century period atmosphere, adroitly crafts a deliciously macabre brooding gloom-doom mood, and delivers a satisfying serving of graphic gore while still keeping things classy and tasteful instead of crass and trashy. Moreover, this film further benefits from acceptable acting from a capable cast: Robert Hossein as evil perfectionist artist Boris Volkoff, Romina Mondello as sweet seamstress Sonia Lafont, Riccardo Serventi Longhi as eager reporter Andrea, Umberto Balli as browbeaten assistant Alex, Valary Valmond as alluring prostitute Giorgina, and Aldo Massasso as the persistent Inspector Lanvin. Kudos are also in order for Sergio Salvati's glossy cinematography and Maurizio Abeni's sumptuous score. As a yummy extra plus, a few lovely ladies bare their delectable wares. A nicely done frightfest.
The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
Surviving purge night ain't gonna be easy
Two couples must depend on the hard-bitten Sergeant (ably played to the two-fisted hilt by Frank Grillo) when they find themselves out on the streets on purge night.
Writer/director James DeMonaco keeps the riveting story hurtling along at a breathless brisk pace, generates a tremendous amount of nerve-wracking tension, maintains an appropriately tough'n'gritty tone throughout, and stages the thrilling action with rip-roaring aplomb. Moreover, DeMonaco's barbed script takes some nice digs at the decadent rich as well as offers several touching moments of genuine humanity amid all the expected brutal violence and carnage.
The solid acting by the capable cast keeps this movie humming: Carmen Ejogo as the sweet Eva, Zach Gilford as decent dude Shane, Kiele Sanchez as Zach's fed-up wife Liz, Zoe Soul as feisty teen Cali, Justina Machado as wild party girl Tanya, Jack Conley as the ruthless Big Daddy, John Beasley as the ailing Papa Rico, Noel Gugliemi as the vicious Diego, and Michael J. Williams as angry revolutionary Carmelo. The assorted purge gangs with their freaky masks and deadly weapons are truly terrifying. An on the money movie.
John Dies at the End (2012)
A truly one of a kind horror fantasy comedy oddity
A potent mind-roasting drug called Soy Sauce opens up a portal to an alternate dimension that threatens to destroy mankind and the universe. It's up to the laid-back David (likeable Chase Williamson) and his deceased buddy John (the equally amiable Rob Mayes) to save the world before it's too late.
Writer/director Don Coscarelli relates the delightfully bonkers story at a constant pace, maintains an inspired screwball tone throughout, delivers a wondrous wealth of super cool and surreal moments as well as all sorts of gnarly creepy-crawly beasts, and further spices things up with a wickedly funny sense of quirky black humor. Moreover, it's acted with zest by an enthusiastic cast: Paul Giamatti as skeptical reporter Arnie Blondestone, Clancy Brown as smooth mentalist Dr. Albert Marconi, Glynn Turman as a no-nonsense detective, Doug Jones as the helpful Roger North, Fabienne Therese as the sweet, but mopey Amy, Daniel Roebeck as the gloriously flamboyant Largeman, and Jonny Weston as the possessed Justin White. Angus Scrimm has a hilarious cameo as foul-mouthed priest Father Shellnut. The sharp cinematography by Mike Gioulakis boasts all kinds of snazzy and hallucinatory visual flourishes. Best of all, this genuinely singular film has an idiosyncratic sensibility to it that ensures that it's both highly entertaining and wildly unpredictable from start to finish. A total trippy blast.
An on the money urban exploitation winner
Straight-arrow factory worker Eddie Marino (a fine low-key performance by Robert Forster) joins a self-appointed vigilante group led by the take-charge Nick (the almighty Fred Williamson in top smooth and charismatic form) after the thugs who brutalized his wife Vickie (a sympathetic portrayal by Rutanya Alda) and killed his son are set free by a corrupt judge (a memorably slimy turn by Vincent Beck).
Director William Lustig relates the gripping story at a constant pace, maintains an unflinchingly tough'n'gritty tone throughout, makes excellent use of various grungy New York City locations, grounds the premise in a plausibly scrappy blue collar reality, and stages the exciting action with considerable muscular aplomb. Richard Vetere's hard-hitting script asks some really tough questions, but refuses to provide any easy answers.
The tip-top cast helps a lot: Richard Bright as the hard-nosed Burke and Joseph Carberry as the equally rugged Ramon both do praiseworthy work, Carol Lynley makes the most of her limited screen time as earnest, but ineffectual D. A. Mary Fletcher, Woody Strode shines as noble and helpful convict Rake, and Steve James has a nice small role as honest cop Gibbons. Moreover, the bad guys are a truly scummy and despicable bunch, with Don Blakely as vicious gang leader Prago, Willie Colon as the savage Rico, Joe Spinell as slimy crooked lawyer Eisenberg, and Frank Pesci as sniveling dope pusher Blueboy rating as especially hateful stand-outs. Further enhanced by James Lemmo's sharp widescreen cinematography and a rousing score by Jay Chattaway, this gnarly little number hits the right-on rough'n'ready spot something fierce.
Non aprite quella porta 3 (1990)
Time to play, Mrs. Beck
A deranged and depraved masked serial killer rapes and murders women in the city of Virginia Beach. Paranoid Melanie Beck (a hilariously histrionic performance by Tara Buckman) manages to avoid getting off by the wacko, but of course the killer isn't going to let her stay alive for long.
Directors Claudio Fragasso and Bruno Mattei deliver a satisfyingly sleazy and screwball mix of tacky gore, tasty bare female flesh (Buckman bares her beautifully bountiful breasts several times), and baffling plot twists that don't make a lick of sense, but are still quite an enjoyably atrocious sight to behold just the same. With his goofy rubber mask and silly giant plastic claw, the killer comes across like a poverty row version of Freddy Krueger. (The killer's lewd taunts to Mrs. Beck are simply priceless, too). Buckman's eye-rolling overacting provides a wondrous wealth of unintentional guffaws. Ditto Peter Hooten's equally hammy portrayal of smarmy stalker creep Axel. The uproariously lame surprise twisting ending serves as the perfectly pathetic gut-busting punchline to this awesomely asinine cinematic shaggy dog joke. A total schlocky hoot.
Nifty change of pace episode
A happily retired Jablonski (sturdy Robert Prosky) goes on a weekend hunting expedition along with Renko (funny Charles Haid) and Hill (likeable Michael Warren). Goldblume (an excellent Joe Spano) was supposed to join the trio, but a series of unexpected obstacles prevent him from doing so.
Written by acclaimed playwright David Mamet, this episode gives HSB fans a rare and refreshing chance to see several beloved Hill regulars in a rural environment instead of the usual urban one. Moreover, McBride (a fine Lindsay Crouse) makes a welcome return and has some strong scenes with Buntz (the always fantastic Dennis Franz), who comforts McBride about shooting a perp dead out of necessity. Poor Goldblume really gets put through the ringer and ultimately winds up being abducted by a desperate fugitive (well played by Mark Arnett) who forces Goldblume to dig a grave before eventually deciding not to kill him.
Hill Street Blues: She's So Fein (1987)
Davenport gets too involved in the action
Davenport (an excellent Veronica Hamel) gets taken hostage by the desperate Ricky Diaz (a strong performance by Jose Angel Santana), who holes up in a market with Davenport and a seriously wounded man. Belker (a fine Bruce Weitz) wrecks a car that belongs to LaRue's brother in law.
The hostage situation generates a good deal of tension, with Furillo (the terrific Daniel J. Travanti) doing his best to hold it together and Goldblume (sturdy Joe Spano) trying to maintain the peace. Moreover, it's a hoot to watch LaRue (a nicely smarmy Kiel Martin) hit on attractive lawyer Sharon Fein (sultry Gela Nash), who rebuffs LaRue's advances and goes on a dinner date with Washington (smooth Taurean Blacque) instead. In addition, there's a poignant subplot involving Hill (solid Michael Warren) and Renko (likeable Charles Haid) investigating a case in which a boy beat up an old man for molesting his younger sister.
Sangue negli abissi (1990)
Tedious killer shark clunker
An ancient evil Native American spirit takes on the form of a lethal predatory shark which terrorizes a small seaside community. It's up to several young guys to stop the beast. Sound good and exciting? Well, it just ain't. Man, does this stupendously static stiff strike out something stinky in every possible way: We've got mostly flat acting from a lame no-name cast, insipid characters, way too much sappy soap opera-style sentimental nonsense, some silly mystical mumbo jumbo, infrequent and ineptly staged shark attack scenes, a dull and uneventful story, blah (non)direction (it's hard to believe that legendary Italian sleazemeister Joe D'Amato was involved with this turkey), a painfully plodding pace, zero tension, no nudity, and obvious stock footage for almost all the shots of the shark. Only Charlie Brill as a fishing boat captain manages to inject some much-needed life into this otherwise soporific snoozer. A real snorefest.
Nifty doomsday sci-fi thriller
The world plummets into chaos and disorder after a electromagnetic pulse knocks out the power all over the country. Teenager Reese (a fine and appealing portrayal by Brighton Sharbino) and her father Chris (a solid and likeable performance by Dominic Monaghan) must make a dangerous trek in search of someplace that's still safe.
Director/co-writer Ben McPherson relates the compelling story at a steady pace, maintains an appropriately serious tone throughout, takes time to develop the characters (the touching relationship between Reese and Chris adds extra depth and poignancy), illustrates with chilling lucidity just how easily civilization could fall apart at a moment's notice, and generates a good deal of tension in the harrowing last third. The sound acting by the capable cast helps a lot: Will Patton as feisty survivalist grandfather Frank, Fionnula Flanagan as fearsome old crippled battle axe Maw, Miles Anderson as helpful farmer Glenn, Michael Filipowich as the savage Bill, and Kyle Collin as the timid Quinn. Austin F. Schmidt's striking widescreen cinematography offers a few eerie shots of a desolate and darkened world along with often breathtaking visuals of a beautiful sylvan landscape. A neat little flick.
The Brawler (2018)
The rise and fall of a boxer who could have been somebody
1975. Struggling underdog boxer and liquor salesman Chuck Wepner (a strong and convincing portrayal by Zach McGowan) from Bayonne, New Jersey gets the chance of a lifetime after he gets his big break to fight Muhammed Ali (nicely played by Jerrod Paige) in the ring. This match in turn inspires the movie "Rocky."
Director/co-writer Ken Kushner relates the absorbing story at a constant pace, maintains a hard-hitting gritty tone throughout, and offers an interesting exploration of fame, failure, and redemption as Wepner goes from minor celebrity status to crashing and burning when he gets too caught up in an exciting, but toxic and destructive fast lane lifestyle. The fine acting from the capable cast keeps this movie humming: Amy Smart as Wepner's sassy second wife Linda, Joe Pantoliano as tough trainer Al Braverman, Taryn Manning as fed-up long-suffering first wife Phyllis, Nick Leob as loyal and concerned brother Donnie, Jason James Richter as sleazy con man John Olson, Anthony Mango as an amiable Sly Stallone, and Robert Clohessy as shrewd lawyer Anthony Mango. The fight scenes are quite brutal and grueling. Worth a watch.
Nightmare at Noon (1988)
Some small towns aren't worth stopping off in
A motley assortment of folks must fight for survival in a small desert town after an evil mute albino scientist (always reliable veteran villain Brion James in top quietly menacing form) contaminates the water with some kind of toxic liquid that causes anyone who drinks said water to go dangerously crazy.
Director Nico Mastorakis keeps the enjoyably daft story zipping along at a snappy pace, makes nice use of the scenic Utah landscape, stages the exciting action with rip-roaring gusto, further spices things up with a wickedly amusing sense of self-mocking humor, and blows plenty of stuff up real good. This blithely mindless Grade B flick gets a substantial galvanizing charge from its excellent cast of familiar faces: Wings Hauser as uptight lawyer Ken Griffiths, Bo Hopkins as laid-back ex-cop Reilly, George Kennedy as the folksy Sheriff Hanks, Kimberly Beck as the foxy Cheri, and Kimberly Ross as feisty deputy Julia. The scenes with people flipping out are absolutely hysterical. Cliff Ralke's slick cinematography provides a pleasing polished look. The robust score by Stanley Myers and Hans Zimmer hits the rousing spot. A total blast.
Nifty making of doc
This 18-minute behind-the-scenes doc covers some pretty interesting and informative ground on the making of the slasher sequel "Wrong Turn 3: :Left for Dead." Director Declan O'Brien talks about how he wanted to bring an action element to the picture. Actor Gil Kolirin brags about doing some of the stunt in the scene in which his character gets set on fire. Moreover, we also learn the film was shot in 24 days, all the scenes at the prison were shot in an actual prison in a single day, and the fight between Chavez and Three Finger was done in a single evening. Worth a watch for fans of the film.
Nipping racism in the bud
Racial tensions flare up on the Hill after racist white undercover officer Gans (well played to the hateful hilt by Sam McMurray) shoot his black partner dead. A temporarily blinded Buntz (an outstanding Dennis Franz) goes undercover with Belker (a fine Bruce Weitz) posing as a beggar.
The shooting incident creates a tremendous amount of nerve-wracking unease that puts Washington (a terrific Taurean Blacque) in a tight spot and pits Furillo (the fantastic Daniel J. Travanti) against Chief Daniels (a sublimely slimy portrayal by Jon Cypher), who intervenes in the investigation only to mess things up and make everything worse. Moreover, it's a hoot to see Buntz pretending to be a homeless guy. Hill (top work from Michael Warren) gets a great speech in which he candidly talks about how racism can undermine a black person's life while Hunter (a fine James Sikking) has a nice moment at rollcall advising everyone to be careful about what they say pertaining to the incident. Powerful stuff.
Furillo (powerful work from Daniel J. Travanti has his conscience tied into knots after he discovers that his father's sudden death was a suicide. Belker (an excellent Bruce Weitz) has an unsettling nightmare about nuclear annihilation.
This episode packs a potent emotional gut punch thanks to Furillo having trouble grieving over the abrupt passing of his distant and disapproving dad and subsequent decision to cover up his father's suicide. The alarming nightmare Belker has opens the episode on a startling note. Hunter (sturdy James Sikking) has an amusing moment in which he attempts to comfort Belker in the men's room. Moreover, there's also a strong subplot concerning an abandoned baby that's found by Belker; David Harris contributes a strong turn as the baby's distraught father. And this episode concludes on a moving note with Furillo remembering his happy father holding him as a little boy.
Real-life superheroes standing up
This documentary paints an often funny, sometimes poignant, and always compelling portrait of a motley assortment of people who aspire to be the real-life equivalent of superheroes. No surprise that a fair share of these folks come across as more than a tad crazy and delusional, but they are also strangely noble and heroic in their deep-seated need to somehow make the world a better place to live in. Naturally, several of these individuals are sad products of violence and abuse, but at least they are doing something positive about their personal demons. And by the end of this documentary, some of them prove that they are truly good and decent people by delivering Christmas toys to orphan kids and helping out the homeless. Fortunately, director Michael Burnett treats these loveable loonies with commendable respect and compassion. A surprisingly sweet and moving little winner.
Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (2009)
Mindless, but still kind of fun
Several campers and a group of escaped convicts both run afoul of a vicious hillbilly cannibal mutant (Borislav Iliev in funky grotesque make-up) in the deep West Virginia backwoods.
Director Declan O'Brien relates the enjoyably dopey story at a brisk pace, makes nice use of the beautiful sylvan locations, delivers oodles of savage violence and outrageously in-your-face graphic gore, and even sprinkles in some tasty gratuitous female nudity for trashy good measure. Moreover, it's decently acted by the competent cast: Tom Frederic as eager prison guard Nate, Janet Montgomery as the spunky Alex, Tamer Hassan as the ruthless Chavez, Gil Kolirin as the brutish Floyd, Jake Curran as wormy car thief Crawford, Christian Contreras as undercover cop Willy, and Charles Venn as the easygoing Walter. However, this film does suffer from some painfully cruddy CGI effects, terrible tin-eared dialogue, a by-the-numbers predictable narrative, and a crippling dearth of tension. That said, this flick overall still passes muster as a fair amount of perfectly nasty'n'gruesome entertainment.
Gothic Harvest (2019)
Fun horror tosh
A group of college coeds celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans run afoul of a sadistic Southern family that's plagued by a centuries old curse.
Director Ashley Hamilton relates the enjoyably inane story at a constant pace, treats the silly premise with admirable seriousness, offers a tasty evocation of the Big Easy setting, and tops things off with an amusing sense of playful dark humor. Moreover, it's acted with zest by Lin Shayne as fearsome crippled matriarch Griselda, a bearded Bill Moseley as hearty detective Hollis, Sofia Mattsson as the lovely, but lethal Amelia, Hamilton as smoothie Gar, and Ciara Rizzo as the dim-witted Dolly. In addition, this film earns extra points for the way it becomes extremely grim and nihilistic at the end. A cool little flick.
Buried Alive (1990)
Nifty made-for-cable-TV thriller
Unhappy housewife Joanna Goodman (well played to the wicked and conniving hilt by a ravishing Jennifer Jason Leigh) and her no-count doctor lover Cortland van Owen (a spot-on smarmy portrayal by William Atherton) decide to bump off Joanna's husband Clint (a fine and credible performance by Tim Matheson). However, Clint isn't really dead and comes out of the grave to exact a harsh revenge.
Director Frank Daramont relates the compelling story at a constant pace, takes time to develop the characters, offers a flavorsome evocation of the small rural town setting, and generates a good deal of tension. Mark Patrick Carducci's clever script delivers a few neat (and fairly nasty) twists, with an especially pleasing example of dark poetic justice at the end. The sound acting from the capable cast rates as another major asset: Hoyt Axton as the folksy Sheriff Sam Eberly, Jay Gerber as local undertaker Quintan, Wayne Grace as greedy jerk Bill Scorby, and Brian Libby as easygoing mortician Earl. A real nice one all around.