Joe Dante’s 1984 masterpiece “Gremlins” is that perfect hybrid of a movie and culture milestone that appeals to horror fans, and fans of Amblin and Spielberg. It influenced a whole sub-genre of monster movies, and serves a wonderful purpose as a Christmas movie and a horror movie. It’s also a perfect bit of gateway horror for blossoming fans that want to ease in to what kind of heights this genre is capable of. There are also the hallmarks of Dante’s films from the chaos and terror implanted in to the suburbs, and the always great Dick Miller.
For fans that missed it the first time, Mill Creek Entertainment re-releases their stellar home version of “Gone in 60 Seconds” but now with a Digital Copy for buyers. Mill Creek is finally entering the digital arena for folks that bypass physical copies, and it’s a wise investment. The new release garners a restored and remastered version of the 1974 action film, and it’s a neat addition to the sub-genre of car based action films. “Gone in 60 Seconds” takes its premise and doles out a very solid and exciting action film with a slew of mesmerizing car chase sequences that are far more engrossing than the painfully inferior remake from 2000.
“The Granny” is the definition of late night cable movie fodder. I saw it twenty years ago very late at night on cable television here in America, and it kind of burned itself in to my brain ever since. Granted, it’s not a masterpiece of horror comedy; in fact it’s so furiously stupid and ridiculous, it’s a film that’ll inspire more eye rolls than laughter. It’s at least worthy of one viewing for folks that enjoy pain with their cinema, though, and years later it’s about as silly as I remember. Star Stella Stevens chews the scenery, adjoining buildings and most of the wildlife up with her role as Granny, a bitter and angry old woman who lives in immense wealth. Unfortunately she was cursed with a vile and greedy family, all of whom are obsessed with counting the days until she finally dies leaving her fortune to them.
For the nineties kids that grew up with great YA horror fodder like “Goosebumps,” “Fear Street,” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark,” director Paul Gandersman and writer Peter S. Hall really seem to have done their research, building a pretty damn great short horror film around the mold of a series called “The Dead Kids Club.” I hope they can find the funding to continue producing films under this label, as I’d love to see a series of shorts or feature length films within “The Dead Kids Club” concept.
An old man, Ronnie, lives with is adult son, Brayden, giving disco tours to gullible customers. Things get a bit greasy when Brayden falls for one of their customers and Ronnie becomes jealous. Their home becomes a sexual battleground and a monster is unleashed onto the public. Co-Written by Toby Harvard and Jim Hosking (who both collaborated on the same short in ABC’s of Death 2) and directed by Jim Hosking for his first full length film, The Greasy Strangler is a mind-melting experience. The film’s humor is apparent from the first scene of the movie and, like the Energizer Bunny, it keeps going and going; quips so not funny that they end up becoming gut rolling, blatant displays of comically sized genitalia and pubic hair, and disgusting food.
After presenting various cuts of “The Godfather” trilogy over the years presented on television, HBO has decided to offer up their own version of Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather” entitled “The Complete Epic.” Clocking in at a little over seven hours and presented in HD, the idea for “The Complete Epic” is that “The Godfather” and “The Godfather II” are spliced together telling the entire saga of the Corleones chronologically. They then injected a lot of deleted and or extended scenes for the purpose of exposition and further elaboration on plot points somewhat evaded and under explained in the aforementioned films. As well, what’s considered “The Complete Epic” does not include the often maligned “The Godfather III.”
Jared Skolnick and Kt Baldassaro’s short thriller is a vicious bit of human introspection that explores how far we are willing to go to survive. Not to mention what areas of darkness of our humanity we’re willing to explore if it meant living for just one more day. Despite the somewhat over the top finale, Kt Baldassaro’s performance is powerful and absolutely gut wrenching. You can almost feel every bit of pain and torment she experiences, and almost root for her, despite the fact the situation she is in offers absolutely no hope or light at the end of the tunnel. Kt Baldassaro plays Susan Larch, a young medical student who is attacked by a serial killer outside of her house and kidnapped.
There’s a war on Christianity. Atheists are evil. Atheists lack hope. Atheists are atheist because they’re in a lot of pain. Atheists don’t want you to practice religion. It’s immoral to demand religion not be preached in public schools. “God’s Not Dead 2: Delusion Boogaloo” is the sequel to the painfully moronic surprise hit of 2014 where evangelical Christians bathed in the pools of their own martyrdom and victim complex for two hours. “God’s Not Dead 2” is another orgy of delusion and martyrdom that stretches the truth about evangelical Christianity, further depicting an alternate reality where evangelical Christianity is equivalent to being a Morlock. Evangelical followers of Christianity are misunderstood by a lost society littered with conniving atheists that just won’t let them say “Merry Christmas,” gosh darn it.
In one of many depictions of protests I could not help laughing at every time it popped up, Christian students of protagonist Grace silently sit outside the courtroom as a show of support. All the while a whole group of atheist protestors stand two feet away holding up signs and screaming at them. These atheist monsters are filmed with quick cuts and without sound, emphasizing how monstrous and evil they are for attacking young women displaying their right to protest. See? Complete alternate reality. Melissa Joan Hart plays Grace Wesley a well meaning history teacher who is chastised and crucified by her school for making a very quick literary comparison in class between Gandhi and Jesus Christ.
When she’s reported, the den of atheist vipers known as the PTA and ACLU begin to look for ways to strike her down for making a seemingly passive contrast of figures with similar ideals. When Grace won’t apologize for speaking he who shall not be named in a public school, she has to stand trial and put her faith to the test. “God’s Not Dead 2” is kind of a brilliantly manipulative movie that relies a lot on subliminal visual cues to sway their audience’s emotions. There are a ton of mentions of Salvation Army, there’s Jesse Metcalfe, who gives a piss poor performance as a young atheist lawyer assigned to defend Grace. When we first meet him, he’s disheveled, unshaven, and a bit slovenly.
And did I mention he’s a condescending ass? “You pitiful Christian maggot, I mock your value system and scoff in your direction conveying a sense of superiority. Pshaw.” But naturally as the film progresses he becomes more and more of a believer and by the time the film ends he’s a well dressed, clean shaven, and kept up lawyer. Ray Wise (known all over pop culture for playing slime balls on TV and film) plays the evil atheist/opportunist of the film who gazes deviously at everyone, considers every idea of morality as an opportunity to make money. He even wears a red tie most of the time. See… red is bad. Like devil, bad. Ray Wise played the devil once in a cult TV show, did I not mention that?
Not only is “God’s Not Dead 2” just stupid, but it’s providing its devout audience with information that could be potentially hazardous to their health. In easily the worst bit of nonsense depicted in the film, Amy, a character diagnosed with cancer in the first film finds out that she is in remission. She’s happy and the Christian rock band from the first film, are happy for her, because prayer helped. Forget the doctors, and medical science, but prayer helped ward her cancer away making her a true believer. So if it’s not made clearly enough in the film, if you or someone you love is dying from cancer, they’re just not a good enough Christian. You only have yourself to blame, all you small children in terminal wards across the world.
“God’s Not Dead 2” was released on April 1st, 2016. Without a hint of irony.