It’s a tough task to take a short film and stretch it in to a feature length adaptation worthy of the original concept. Often it can fail and other times if we’re lucky, we can end up with something pretty special. Thankfully “Cargo” falls in to the latter category, as it’s a touching, heartbreaking and eerie tale, about finding hope when all hope is lost. The original Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling short film “Cargo” is one of my favorite independent short films of all time, and the team of Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling thankfully keep in touch with the original short’s idea of a dad trying to give his daughter a second chance in a horrible world, while also expanding on the premise.
After the shocking success of “Deadpool,” it didn’t seem very likely that Ryan Reynolds and FOX would be able to follow up the first act in Wade Wilson’s arc. Lo and behold years later, “Deadpool 2” not only serves as a great second act of the Merc with a Mouth’s misadventures, but it’s just as good as the original. What I liked most about it though is that “Deadpool 2” further bridges the gap between Wade’s universe and his X-Men origins, proving that ironically these films understand the “X-Men” mythology so much more than any of the actual X-Men films combined.
Jim Wynorski’s “The Return of Swamp Thing” is one of my bonafide childhood favorites, and a favorite of the rental places. “The Return of Swamp Thing” was my introduction to the character when I was a child and it’s a definite favorite that’s become more about sentimental value than quality. I admit that viewing “The Return of Swamp Thing” through nostalgic glasses helps improve the campy direction Jim Wynorski takes for this second outing.
Nicholas Ferwerda’s “Family Game Night” is a short that I could actually see becoming a feature film somewhere down the road. The potential for a dark comedy horror film is right there. As a short though, it’s a very good and very darkly eccentric horror film with a fun twist on the conventional nuclear family concept that entertains successfully.
Corealie Fargeat’s “Revenge” is kind a new chapter in the rape revenge sub-genre of thrillers and horror films. It deconstructs an often very controversial and polarizing sub-genre to make it less about the exploitation of women and more about the empowerment of a woman who even views herself as a sex object when we meet her. “Revenge” is a grueling film to endure, but one that is also quite fantastic in its imagery and depiction of men as less cunning sexual predators and more slimy snakes that prey on a woman who proves she is a pure force of vengeance to be reckoned with.
It’s surprising for such an iconic author that Stephen King’s tales are so tough to bring to the big screen. I don’t know why “Children of the Corn” has managed to become something of a semi-classic since 1984 because the only scary thing about it is how boring it is. “Children of the Corn” has been a baffling horror presence since 1984, garnering a whole series of movies, including a remake, and sequels to the remake. There’s even been a new film in 2018.
This was a time where the internet was capable of everything, and virtual reality was the wave of the future, which is what “Lawnmower Man” banks on to tell its yarn about the dangers of mind expansion. “Lawnmower Man” for a movie allegedly based on a Stephen King novella is really just a pastiche of other Frankenstein tales and tech gone bad stories from the past. It’s infamous, also, for being “based on” a Stephen King novel in name only (leading to a very notable lawsuit). Instead of a King tale, we get Jeff Fahey turning in to a computer and knocking boots with a very delectable Jenny Wright.
As a slasher buff, I’m saddened that we’re in a current horror climate where other less deserving slasher films have gotten full fledged franchises while “Behind the Mask” is still just a one time gem. “The Rise of Leslie Vernon” is one of the best slasher films of the aughts that was perfecting the indie slasher sub-genre well before “Hatchet” came along. No slight to Adam Green, but I’d much rather have had three “Behind the Mask” films over four “Hatchet” films any day of the week. “Behind the Mask” is brilliant in not only creating a great slasher villain, but telling a sharp meta-story that dissects the sub-genre as a whole.