I would be lying if I said that “Troma’s War” is one of the best efforts from Troma. While it tries very hard to elicit some kind of political satire and tackle the idea of exploitation movies, it’s kind of a missed effort. Truth be told, “Troma’s War” is more of a chore to sit through than anything. It’s creative and a neat addition to a collection if you love Troma, but overall, it’s a loud, head ache inducing attempt at an action movie that can never quite put a finger on what it wants to be. It’s a disaster movie, a war movie, an action movie, an “Airplane!” style spoof, and then a political satire. It tries to roll all of these genre elements in to one frantic ball, but stumbles left and right with its intentions.
Jordan Peele has effectively fired off the starting gun of what I think will become an landscape of cinema filled with social commentary about the racial climate, and division among a certain kind of people. As with all horror movements, Peele expertly crafts a movie that reflects the racial relations of modern America, and how there is a thin line between acceptance and cultural appropriation and fanaticism. Peele is a man who has devoted most of his career to brutally sharp and funny comedy, and here he delivers what is a darkly comedic but very scary tale about cults, the racial dynamic and what is arguably the next movement in the racial hysteria in the country. “Get Out” derives a lot of uncomfortable laughter from the audience, but it has a lot to say about the extremes of racism, and the sheer horror of pure ignorance and naivete.
Say what you want about Frank Henenlotter, but even when he makes a bad movie, it’s a guarantee you won’t see another movie like it ever again. I am by no means a fan of “Basketcase” but I still have yet to see another movie like it. “Brain Damage” is another movie so far ahead of its time and so surreal that it didn’t stand a chance at being recognized in 1988. It’s too bad too, since the eighties embraced a lot of interesting premises, so “Brain Damage” should have caught on. Thankfully it later garnered a following in the VHS rental market, and it’s a horror comedy that deserves to be embraced by the horror community. It’s short, and simple but absolutely gruesome, and a unique spin on the theme of drug addiction and substance abuse.
Director Noah Baumbach’s “The Squid and the Whale” explores the prospect of a family at war, and a family that will likely always be at war. Director Baumbach has a lot to say about family and how parents can decide what kind of people we ultimately grow up to be. “The Squid and the Whale” is a weird, darkly comic and often demented look at how the eternal grudge of a man and his ex-wife will likely keep their sons at odds with then and one another for the rest of their lives. Director Baumbach contorts the dynamic of a grudging family, but also stays true to a lot of themes that find two sons on a diverging road and a dark path. Jessie Eisenberg is great here as the son of Jeff Daniels’ Bernard, an educated often pompous individual who has a keen sense of attempting to make his equals feel inferior.
“XX” is yet another horror anthology, this time featuring four horror segments directed by women, all of which revolve around concepts mostly associated with women. While “XX” garners the recurring theme of motherhood, the tales themselves are based around feminine or maternal concepts that are twisted for the genre. “The Box” is a loose allegory for anorexia, “The Birthday Party” is about status, “Don’t Fall” is kind an allegory for menstruation, while “Her Only Living Son” is about a mother’s unwillingness to let go of her son and let him realize his destiny. The four very talented female filmmakers were given complete freedom and as a result we have a pretty stellar horror film, all things considering.
Director Teemu Niukkanen’s is a dark and demented comedy about living in a place where pretty much anyone can move in next door and how we can rush to judgment too often and brush off some pretty nice people. Thought it’s only a short film, “Fucking Bunnies” could work as a hilarious and twisted feature film about the uneasy friendship between two very different men. Raimo is a middle-aged Finnish man living in the suburbs in an apartment complex in Helsinki. He’s a very settled and tightly wound man who lives his day of monotony joyfully. One day when the new neighbors move in next door, he learns that they are a cult of Satanists that indulge in orgies, and sadism.
Chris Jopp’s short horror film feels like a lost segment from “Cat’s Eye.” It’s a nice and fun horror tale about fate intervening and coming to rescue of someone who didn’t know they needed rescuing. Samantha just moved in to a new apartment in a new town and has to deal with an overbearing mother who insists in calling her every chance she gets. What worse, is that she also has to deal with a very intrusive and overly attentive landlord who insists that pets are not allowed in the building.
Despite the truly awful 2015 adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” audiences are being handed the sequel to the erotic stinker next month with “Fifty Shades Darker.” Sure to attract its hardcore following and some surefire curious audiences, rather than pumping more money in this pseudo-erotic wannabe arthouse junk, I thought I’d suggest five titles you can watch instead. These are five very erotic and entertaining films that explore the ideas of BDSM and sado-masochism, I suggest experimenting with over the watered down dreck hitting theaters in February.