I freely admit that I didn’t quite enjoy “Birdboy” when it was titled “Psychonauts, The Forgotten Children” back in 2016 for the Fantasia Film Festival. While typically I’m a big fan of animation of most kinds, “Birdboy” failed to click with me. I just could not find any real reason to recommend it when I’d finished it, and struggled to even finish it, when all was said and done.
I’ve come to appreciate “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death” more and more over the years, as it’s managed to separate itself from the other vampire films in the sub-genre. While other of its ilk manage to flaunt the concept of the vampire without much substance, John Hancock and writers Sheridan Le Fanu and Lee Kalchiem take an opportunity here. Here, the monster is brilliant used as a means as a dread filled allegory for paranoia, fear of unraveling sanity, and our latent fear of infidelity.
There’s a ghoul in school! And “Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory” is one of the weirdest and darkest werewolf movies I’ve ever seen. It’s tough to believe a movie from the early sixties is filled with such dread, violence, and sexual implications that becomes the backdrop for the narrative. Despite being a werewolf movie, Paolo Heusch’s movie carries with it a lot of giallo vibes, focusing on a mostly obscured villain that stalks and strangles their victims. Although there is the stalk and chase of the sub-genre, Heusch relies on a whodunit mystery that feels much in the vein of Argento.
It’s too bad when you go in to a Troma movie and know that this isn’t them at their best. While you can kind of blame it on lack of funding, “Volume 2” of the “Nuke Em High” movie series leaves a lot to be desired and never quite sticks the landing in regards to its slew of sub-plots and sidebars. Director Kaufman spends a lot of the first twenty minutes of the movie catching us up to what went down in volume 1 (with the help of narration by the late Stan Lee) and this gives the movie a chaotic pacing that’s tough to focus on.
“Hot Dog… The Movie” is that film right at the end of the “Animal House” spectrum and the beginning of the “Police Academy” phenom, where every single work place or setting had its own wacky, madcap plot and array of cartoon characters. Most of the eighties were all about taking what worked and truing to copy its success. In the decade the followed, “Animal House” gave way to a large library of comedies (often teen based) that borrowed from its formula. Some of the titles were pure dreck and some of them were humongous gems. “Hot Dog… The Movie” is the absolute former.
Severin Films has done an amazing job showing movie fans and collectors the generally colorful and interesting body of cinematic work that Al Adamson left behind. While he’s more generally known for his unfortunately terrible murder, Adamson was also, by all accounts, a very nice man who was creative, innovative and had a genuine love for filmmaking and the people he worked with. “Blood & Flesh” successfully takes us inside the life of the man who had a sincere love for entertaining people, and then digs in to how sometimes our good hearts can put us in the company of the wrong people.
When you get down to it, you can examine “Klute” as something of a neo-noir set in the darkness of New York City where society shifted out of the Free Love era and in to much dimmer years. But deep down “Klute” manages to be a rather fantastic character study about a woman who is hopelessly and probably forever exploited by the world. Throughout “Klute” she struggles with whether she wants to have what she perceives as an easy ride and allow herself to become exploited, or resist, and try to carve out a better world for her that’s more respectable, but so much tougher than she’s prepared to handle.
Like many movie lovers, you mainly associate Alastair Sim with his iconic portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1951 masterpiece “A Christmas Carol.” His take on Scrooge remains one of the most celebrated and imitated to this day. But Alastair Sim also had a very seasoned career in various film roles that challenged the performer, and the cinema curators at Film Movement have made his other under seen, otherwise under appreciated performances from the period of 1947 and 1960 available for purchase.