If you’re going to watch “Species” for any reason, you have to see it for Natasha Henstridge. Surely, the cast is dynamic with the likes of Michael Madsen, Forrest Whitaker, and Ben Kingsley respectively, but Henstridge is a pretty great scene stealer rivaled only by Marg Helgenberger. I vividly recall “Species” grabbing a ton of attention back in 1995 mainly for the fact that “Species” was such a unique and erotic bit of horror and science fiction, and for the most part, it’s an okay movie. But what saves it is Henstridge and the great effects.
Larry Cohen’s horror film “It’s Alive” didn’t always get the respect it deserved. While it’s certainly a seventies shock horror film about a mutant baby, it’s also about fear of genetic and birth defects, the question of abortion, and the idea of euthanasia in children. It thrives on being a horror cult classic, but it’s also a socially relevant movie that pounces on a lot of important issues. Larry Cohen’s classic film gets a wonderful treatment from the folks at Scream Factory with all three “It’s Alive” films on one box set, and it’s a collector’s set that’s impossible to pass up.
It’s Peter Weller vs. clunky allegory in George P. Cosmatos’ “Of Unknown Origin,” a veritable contemporary take on “Moby Dick” that pits man against nature in an urban setting and sea of bricks and mortars. “Of Unknown Origin” quite obviously fancies itself a wink wink nudge at the famous novel, that Weller’s character Bart even threatens the film’s beast with in his hand while pounding on a ceiling. In “Of Unknown Origin,” the world is a rat race and Peter Weller’s character Bart is so anxious to claw his way to the top of his corporation that he’ll even sacrifice a weekend with a young, taut Shannon Tweed (her first role) so he can get ahead.
It’s a tough task to take a short film and stretch it in to a feature length adaptation worthy of the original concept. Often it can fail and other times if we’re lucky, we can end up with something pretty special. Thankfully “Cargo” falls in to the latter category, as it’s a touching, heartbreaking and eerie tale, about finding hope when all hope is lost. The original Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling short film “Cargo” is one of my favorite independent short films of all time, and the team of Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling thankfully keep in touch with the original short’s idea of a dad trying to give his daughter a second chance in a horrible world, while also expanding on the premise.
Nicholas Ferwerda’s “Family Game Night” is a short that I could actually see becoming a feature film somewhere down the road. The potential for a dark comedy horror film is right there. As a short though, it’s a very good and very darkly eccentric horror film with a fun twist on the conventional nuclear family concept that entertains successfully.
Corealie Fargeat’s “Revenge” is kind a new chapter in the rape revenge sub-genre of thrillers and horror films. It deconstructs an often very controversial and polarizing sub-genre to make it less about the exploitation of women and more about the empowerment of a woman who even views herself as a sex object when we meet her. “Revenge” is a grueling film to endure, but one that is also quite fantastic in its imagery and depiction of men as less cunning sexual predators and more slimy snakes that prey on a woman who proves she is a pure force of vengeance to be reckoned with.
It’s surprising for such an iconic author that Stephen King’s tales are so tough to bring to the big screen. I don’t know why “Children of the Corn” has managed to become something of a semi-classic since 1984 because the only scary thing about it is how boring it is. “Children of the Corn” has been a baffling horror presence since 1984, garnering a whole series of movies, including a remake, and sequels to the remake. There’s even been a new film in 2018.
Written and directed by Phil Bucci, Paul’s Bad Day is an uber short with a good impact and a fun twist on its subject. As a horror sub-genre that is quite overdone these day (and it will not be revealed here to keep some surprise), this new take on it is a breath of fresh air. The very short runtime forces it to be concise and straight to the point, something that is highly appreciated and shows that the filmmaker knows how to use the less-is-more approach to horror.