Once in a while, the stars align and the moon shines bright enough to where a bonafide cult classic of horror cinema is born. Out of the absolute depths abysmal cinema comes one of the most laughable and painfully awful horror movies of the year. From rock icon Glenn Danzig, no less, comes his directorial debut, a live action adaptation of his comic book series “Verotik,” a title that mixes erotica and violence in to one monster. That wouldn’t be such a bad idea for an anthology. But someone forgot to tell Danzig that if you want to direct a movie, you probably should know how to operate a camera, first.
I was a hardcore He-Man fan when I was a child. He’s pretty much the precursor to my obsession with Superman and for many years fueled my love for fantasy and action. My love for He-Man is long and storied, especially with how he helped me appreciate the fantasy genre, and I look forward to a time where he can come back and enthrall a new generation of fans. It seems like the time for a He-Mannaisance is rapidly approaching, thankfully, and I couldn’t help but think back to “Masters of the Universe.” In 1987 studios were still searching far and wide for their own “Star Wars” that would allow them to pump out action figures and all kinds of merchandise for young fans.
Unless you’re in the Berlanti-verse, DC and Warner doesn’t seem to know what the heck they’re doing with their properties on TV these days. After a surge in TV shows based on their IP’s, they suddenly were all wiped off the air and left for future discussions on what could have been, by comic book geeks all over the world. It’s a shame because, since while all of DC and Warner’s TV series don’t re-invent the wheel, they’re at least bold enough to try something new and unique. Your mileage will vary when it comes to “Krypton” and “Swamp Thing” Blu-Ray releases, but you have to give them credit for at least thinking outside the box.
After some um—rather interesting internet ballyhoo, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is finally brought to the big screen in what is a shockingly good adaptation. Although I’d argue that the “video game movie curse” ended in 2018 (ahem–“Tomb Raider”), “Sonic the Hedgehog” does open the door for more, higher quality video game movies down the road. While I’d be hard pressed to say that “Sonic” re-invents the wheel, it also dodges a lot of video game movie pitfalls by side stepping cloying pop culture references, and paying homage to the source material.
Director Jeff Wadlow’s (“Truth or Dare”) big screen adaptation “Fantasy Island” is a mess of a genre picture that easily one of the most tonally confused movies I’ve seen in years. Its prologue sets it up as a horror movie, then it becomes a goofy comedy about wish fulfillment, then it’s a character study about a son reconnecting with his father, the next minute it’s a torture revenge thriller, and the next it’s a movie about looking back at what could have been. None of it is remotely creepy, none of it is remotely spooky, and to top it all off, it’s all so painfully boring from beginning to end.
Megan Riakos’s anthology “Dark Whispers” touts itself as a horror film with tales directed solely by women. The last film “XX” that explored the concept was a swing a miss, so I had my doubts this time. Thankfully “Dark Whispers, Volume 1” is a very good anthology with some outstanding horror shorts that often feels episodic like “Vault of Horror” and “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.” The gallery of female filmmakers on display here are all sharp storytellers, and bring something new and unique to the table that frighten while also evoking genuine emotions every now and then.
Mike Flanagan has managed to become one of the most recurring auteurs for Stephen King’s adaptations, and “Doctor Sleep” is a particularly heavy undertaking. Even for the now seasoned filmmaker, “Doctor Sleep” is a tough artistic task that has to appeal to general audiences, while also tying in to Stanley Kubrick’s original masterpiece, and appeasing King, who went through every length to ensure “Doctor Sleep” was detached from Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation. It’s a shame the movie didn’t quite click with audiences and grab higher numbers, as it’s easily my favorite film of 2019, bar none.
Hollywood loves to look for new angles on public domain fairy tales and intellectual properties. They’re always looking for a platform for a brand new franchise, and they either go the horror route or the action route. If one fails, they automatically revert to the other a few years later. “Cinderella” and “Snow White” have been brought to the big and small screen as pseudo-horror movies and action bonanzas, with varying degrees of success. The one fairy tale that hasn’t dodged the massive overhaul for a new generation is “Hansel and Gretel.”