Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

After the dumpster fire that was 2014’s “Ouija,” it’s a most impressive feat to see Mike Flanagan follow it up with a damn good horror film that serves as a prequel. It’s also kind of shocking how Flanagan is able to deliver a truly creepy horror movie that also almost makes the original “Ouija” retroactively better; if just a little. While “Origin of Evil” is not a masterpiece and feels a bit like a pseudo-sequel to “The Conjuring,” director Mike Flanagan is able to do what the original film couldn’t. He involves us in an engrossing and interesting story about loss, death, and grief, and how evil can prey on our desperation to want closure in a world where very few of us can actually get it.

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Pitchfork (2017)

I can’t help but appreciate the inherent ambition behind the production of “Pitchfork.” Director and Writer Glenn Douglas Packard delivers a slasher film that offers the classic tropes, while also feeling like something completely different. He also manages to concoct a premise that’s actually original and doesn’t feature the same old idiot teenagers looking to party who get stranded or whatnot. He actually sets out to deliver a unique premise, and gives our characters their own motivations. It’s also not often we get slasher movies with final boys, but “Pitchfork” creates one who is not only genuinely heroic, and selfless, but facing his own dilemma when we meet him.

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We Are the Flesh (Tenemos La Carne) (2017)

Emiliano Rocha Minter’s “We Are The Flesh” is arthouse, horror, fantasy, surrealism, experimental. It’s also droning, boring, and at barely eighty minutes goes on way too long. “We are the Flesh” begins as something of a post apocalyptic tale where two wandering Mexican teenagers find a demented older man living by himself in isolation as a hermit in a humongous building. Everyday he forages for resources, and makes new resources which he trades for food by some unseen entity behind a wall. The minute the pair finds him, they’re taken in to his bosom, and are dropped in to demented world that is either Eden or Damnation. Quite clearly, Emiliano Rocha Minter seeks to take all kinds of imagery and use it as a sense of multipurpose provocative metaphor and symbolism, and pretty much all of it is a chore to sit through.

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Go North (2017)

A potentially apocalyptic even wiped out all adults from the country, leaving kids to take care of younger kids.  In this situation, some became leaders, some teachers, while others thrived in chaos.  As things are looking bleaker and bleaker, Josh decides to do something and heads North with a friend.  Soon, some of those in charge go after them.  Through this, all will discover more about the world and themselves. Directed by Matt Ogens who co-wrote with Kyle Lierman, the film takes the post-apocalyptic approach that is being seen more and more again and removes all adults from the picture, leaving it to a Lord of the Flies situation with kids being left to their own devices and some knowing better how to keep going while others look for escape.

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80’s Beat: 8 Movie Collection (DVD)

For fans of eighties cinema, Mill Creek Entertainment offers up a collection of eight noteworthy eighties movies on DVD for the more cost conscious collector. Among the eight films in the collection is 1990’s “Flatliners.” The David Cronenberg supernatural drama about a group of medical students exploring the effects of near death experiences stars Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, and Julia Roberts, respectively. James Woods and Robert Downey Jr. co-star in the 1989 drama “True Believer,” about an embittered lawyer who re-opens an old murder case with a young lawyer, unraveling a web of corruption, and conspiracies.

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Graffiti (2015)

Lluís Quílez’s short science fiction drama reminded me of the famous opening line from Frederic Brown’s “Knock”: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…” Director Quílez centers his science fiction tale on a man named Edgar who spends his days biding his time for inevitable rescue, and looking for some semblance of companion ship in his every day life. Edgar walks around the ruins of his city after an undisclosed “incident” has caused many to flee or die off.

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Five Movies to Watch Instead of “Fifty Shades Darker”

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.

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Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime) (1997)

Returns to theaters across the nation for a 20th Anniversary celebration, complete with a new 4K restoration. Premiered in theaters Thursday, January 5 in Japanese with English subtitles and will screen Monday, January 9 with an English dub at 7 p.m. local time. Tickets are available now. The event will also feature a screening of the never-before-released music video directed by Hayao Miyazaki, On Your Mark!

Back when “Princess Mononoke” hit the states in 1999, I literally had no idea who Hayao Miyazaki was. My teacher in high school kept a poster of the movie up on her bulletin board and I thought the movie looked amazing. Years after the Oscar buzz, I discovered “Princess Mononoke” and the brilliance of Studio Ghibli. The great thing about Studio Ghibli is there is no wrong way to enter in to their universe.
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