At the end of the day you can’t even call “Black Christmas” a remake. It’s not even a re-imagining when you get down to it. At first it bears a slight resemblance to the original film’s themes, but once it shows all of its cards, it’s just aping the title for brand familiarity. And it fails, big time. “Black Christmas” has good intentions with a very relevant message, but it forgets story, suspense, and inherent terror, in exchange for a silly, preachy, and convoluted premise.
In 1969, America was forever rocked by the vicious Tate-LaBianca murders which saw the Charles Manson family convicted for murdering five people including up and coming actress Sharon Tate. Decades later, Hollywood and many artists are still considerably fascinated not just by Charles Manson, but the Manson Family. On the anniversary of Sharon Tate’s murder, a lot of Hollywood jumped on the band wagon to find a way to highlight or explore the events leading up to her terrible murder. Except for Quentin Tarantino. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” has managed to become yet another Tarantino masterpiece that has sparked endless discussion and arguments.
Despite the fact that Tarantino stages another alternate reality where the bad guys endured horrible deaths, “Once Upon a Time…” still managed to get approval from Sharon Tate’s family. And that’s probably because, refreshingly, Tarantino takes the piss out of Charles Manson and the Manson Family.
Quentin Tarantino has always been a connoisseur of Hollywood and the concept of filmmaking and storytelling. There’s a certain peculiar magic that comes with creating a narrative and how it allows the creator to do whatever they want. With all of Tarantino’s movies, he’s paid tribute to ideas like Chopsocky cinema, gangster pictures, blaxploitation, and with “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” he pays tribute to Hollywood and the one and only Sharon Tate.
At this point I’m just glad that the new “It” adaptation didn’t get split in to a trilogy. “It Chapter One” was great just as it was, I thought “Chapter Two” needed to be the book end. Thankfully it truly is the finale I was hoping for as a poignant, complex, and heartbreaking film about the horrors of the past, and trying to prevent the nightmares of our childhood from deciding who we are and can become as adults. Once “The Losers Club” is forced back in to Derry Maine, they have no choice but to confront their own personal monsters before fighting the physical manifestation of their demons known as Pennywise.
Director Flavio Alves’ art house drama is one of the most important indie films released in 2019. It’s a movie about the LGBTQ community and how much battles are left within the community. Especially in a world where it’s become even more dangerous than ever for the transgender community to simply function. Although imperfect, “The Garden Left Behind” is an award winning drama that is about as relevant and engaging a statement about the trans community as Sean Baker’s 2015 film “Tangerine.”
If anything, Deon Taylor’s crime thriller is a perfectly fine if somewhat overlong and derivative thriller that skates by mainly because of its charismatic cast including Mike Colter, Tyrese Gibson and Frank Grillo, respectively. It’s a shame because in a world where we’re discussing body cams, police corruption, and inner city crime, “Black and Blue” has the golden opportunity to tackle the issue head on. Instead it hits it briefly and doesn’t do much with the topic, instead building a thriller that feels oddly derivative of Antoine Fuqua’s “Training Day.”
Linger on Youtube for a little while and you’ll likely find at least fifty toy collectors and or pop culture buffs that have a slew of videos looking back at classic toy lines and franchises. What makes “Toys That Made Us: Seasons 1 & 2” such a unique series is that it attempts to offer up much more than memories. Creator Brian Volk-Weiss’s series could very well have fallen back on pure nostalgia, but instead opens up the scope of these world changing toy lines. There’s deeper insight, stark truths about how and why these toys were created, and a look in to the business of it all.
Happy Halloween one and all! It’s the final hours of Halloween 2019 and it’s been quite the month. I felt I’d be remiss if I didn’t include another Shorts Round Up of the Week featuring some great horror shorts you can dig your teeth in to before Day of the Dead on November 1st. Included is a tale of a spooky cookie jar, a series of loft crimes that goes bat shit insane, and a serial killer targeting vulnerable young girls.
As always if you’d like to submit a short film or two (of any genre), submissions are always open!