Adventures In Fantasia [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

I got started as a critic in 2004 when I covered the Fantasia film festival for Film Threat. At the time I was pretty active on the Film Threat web board and one of the moderators, I believe it was Eric Campos, asked if I could attend the festival and write something for the magazine since I lived nearby. I must have done a good job because he let me stick around to do more stuff, mostly review indie films and write a series called “Versus” where I compared remakes with the original.

It was fun, but eventually I had to slow down because I was burnt out. I realize that “watching movies” doesn’t sound exhausting, but I always felt a deep sense of responsibility to both the readers and the filmmakers. It felt wrong to just go “This film sucks!” or “This film rocks” without exploring every little detail on screen and analyzing every aspect of the production.

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Suspiria, The Exorcist II, and Story [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

There’s been talk of remaking Suspiria for years. So much so that a lot of what I’m going to mention here are thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for over a decade. The latest attempt at a remake, and the one most likely to happen, is supposed to star Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton, have music by Thom Yorke, and be directed by Luca Guadagnino. All of whom are above average artists in their respective fields. So I wish this attempt well and I genuinely hope it succeeds.

At the same time, I think it’ll fail.

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In Memory of Adam West

Adam West was always one of those actors who was there popping in and out of my life, entertaining me since I was old enough to remember. Two of the main reasons why I formed such a humongous obsession with superheroes and comic books were because of “The Super Friends” and the Adam West version of “Batman.” Adam West had the classic movie idol looks with the chiseled features and swept back brown hair, and for such a very long time he was Batman. By day he was, of course, a millionaire and playboy known as Bruce Wayne who hung out with his ward Dick Grayson, but by night he’d slide down the pole alongside his sidekick and transform in to Batman. Batman was a crime fighter who wore spandex and a cape and cowl that bore penciled in eyebrows.

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X-Rated Alley: Virtual Encounters 2 (1998), 42nd Street Forever: The Peep Show Collection Vol. 20 (DVD)

“Virtual Encounters 2” is from Surrender Cinema, one of Charles Bands’ sub labels that specialized in the type of movie you’d usually find on late night Fridays and Saturdays on Cinemax back in the nineties. It’s always a good sign when you enter in to a new movie and the first thing you see are a woman’s erect nipples. “Virtual Encounters 2” is the okay sequel to the okay original film. The sequel follows a new group of characters, setting down on two dorm mates at Midvale College. Mel has wet dreams about the girl of his dreams and is discovered by his roommate Sam who actually can score with women. Sam convinces Mel to attend an art class with nude models and Mel is shocked to see one of the nudes are the girl of his dreams.

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8 Mile: Dealing with Pain through Music

It’s hard to believe that “8 Mile” arrived in theaters fifteen years ago and took the world by surprise. That’s essentially what Eminem’s career has always been about: Surprising people who have always doubted him. After the stigma of white hip hop artists permeated music for years, Eminem stomped on to the world of hip hop. He didn’t just make a name for himself, but he challenged everything about the world he was in, the music he performed, and the people he ran across every single day of his life. Here was a man who kind of tore through the façade of fame, and also challenged the conventions of hip hop, which by the late nineties, was more about fame and wealth than hardships and confronting a harsh society.

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NSFA: The Simpsons Sing the Blues!

Debuting to the world in April 19th, 1987, thirty years later, The Simpsons has never been afraid to take a look back at their history and mock the absurdity of it all. While the show has been quite excellent in its formative years, back in 1990, the show reached the height of its popularity to where it had oodles of merchandise. There were dolls, shirts, comic books, books, video games, et al. and the show took the opportunity to mock that period back in the “Behind the Laughter” episode. In it the narrator looks at how obscene the merchandising for the show was to the point where the characters went so far as to release birth control and, yes, two cheesy hit novelty albums.

Hilariously enough in 1990, The Simpsons did release a “legitimate” music album named “The Simpsons Sing the Blues!”

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The PC Thug: “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return” Proves Reboots Don’t Have to Suck

I think there was even some doubt by Joel Hodgson and company on whether or not fans wanted a reboot of MST3K. Sure, the merchandise sells well, but most reboots of nineties properties have either stunk or just failed to deliver, period. Plus it’s not like the show was around for a short time like “Firefly” or “Freaks and Geeks.” It was on ten years and even earned a movie of its own. Surprisingly enough fans proved that the show is just as special to them as it is to Joel Hodgson and his crew of brilliant creators that gave us the original series. Like all the other fans, “MST3K” has a very special place in my heart and I have such a deep bond with its characters and love for its formula. So naturally I was frightened the reboot would be stale.

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Donnie Darko: Meat Suits and Multiverses

Richard Kelly’s “Donnie Darko” has managed to become somewhat mythical among movie buffs, despite being so widely celebrated. It’s a movie with a fairly simplistic tale about time travel and paradoxes, but also has been interpreted by many people and injected with ideas that fit the general frame work of what “Donnie Darko” is. Some people call it a Christ allegory, some people call it a time travel movie, and Kelly himself has called the movieCatcher in the Rye” if it were written by Phillip K. Dick. There is a surefire hint of author Phillip K. Dick in the way that our main character Donnie Darko is stuck in this hazy world of suburban conformity and alarming aggression. It seeps in to the desperation to be accepted and act accordingly by just about everyone.

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