Ben is Back (2018)

With America’s opioid crisis, much of the most acclaimed dramas involved stories about family, and two of the most interesting involved drug addiction. While “Ben is Back” completely drifted under the radar, it’s an interesting and often compelling drama about drug abuse, and how often times drug abusers can drag much of their personal demons and past in to the lives of those that they love. I won’t say that I completely loved “Ben is Back,” but I appreciated its inherent tale of a mother racing to help her son, in spite of the odds being stacked against her over and over.

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Kolobos (1999): Special Edition [Blu-Ray]

I know “Kolobos” mainly from late night cable where I was able to watch the final half of it back in 2000 was kind of blown away by it. Granted, this was before I’d seen a ton of movies and I was still young, but I remember loving it. Over the years it’s garnered a pretty loyal fan base and cult following, all of whom love it, warts and all. I mainly know it for being one of the last hurrahs of the video store age where low budget horror fare was reduced to straight to video on shelves, and not Saturday premieres on the Syfy channel.

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Audition (Ôdishon) (1999): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray/DVD]

It should just about go without saying that “Audition” is basically Takashe Miike’s masterpiece. If not then it’s the most accessible in where Miike is able to basically cut loose in a horror movie that begins as a romance about a man finding love again that descends in to darkness and torture. Twenty years later, “Audition” is a masterpiece of the genre, of film, and hasn’t aged a single bit since its release in 1999. It embraces romance, drama, a hint of dark comedy, and builds up to a fever pitch of a climax that’s both horrifying and will leave audiences feeling physically pained.

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Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (2019)

After 2007’s failed reboot “Nancy Drew” starring Emma Roberts, I was surprised anyone bothered to take the property in to theaters again. Roberts was very good in the role of Nancy Drew, but her take on the character was more self-aware and an homage, rather than a new, more modern approach for a new generation of girls. Thankfully Katt Shea approaches “Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase” with the definite desire to restart the series, and Sophia Lillis is now playing the iconic teenage sleuth, and manages to help deliver (co-Produced by Ellen DeGeneres) a satisfying mystery and a very good reboot.

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Captain Marvel (2019)

After the downbeat ending of “The Avengers: Infinity War,” there stood some beacon of hope in the post credits scene where Nick Fury pressed a pager, signaling someone from outside Earth. That someone was Captain Marvel, Marvel Comics’ most dynamic and entertaining super heroine who is finally brought to the big screen. Not only does “Captain Marvel” stand on its own as a great, fun movie about empowerment and learning how to conjure up your inner strength, it sets the platform for Captain Marvel charging in to “Endgame,” and it also sets up the foundation for phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

Hammer always approached their version of Dracula with a serialized attitude, making every chapter of his emergence as something unique and entertaining. After 1958’s “Dracula” which shown his battle with Peter Cushing, he is defeated and left to basically stay as ash in his old castle in England. Of course, as we learn with all of Dracula’s Hammer exploits, he eventually is revived by some human error or devotion to his powers that amount to his re-emerging in “Prince of Darkness.”

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The Return of the Vampire (1943) [Blu-Ray]

Although Universal eventually did follow up Tod Browning’s “Dracula” from 1931 with their own “Dracula’s Daughter” and “Son of Dracula,” the unofficial sequel has always been 1943’s “The Return of the Vampire.” When Columbia Pictures sough to revive Dracula for the big screener, Universal halted their efforts, prompting Columbia to basically deliver the follow up to Dracula but under a variety of different names and different circumstances. With “The Return of the Vampire” we have a great spiritual sequel that stars Lugosi returning as Dracula, but–not Dracula.

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Kiss Kiss (2019)

I knew I was in trouble with “Kiss Kiss” when twenty minutes in, the film had shifted to its third musical montage involving our female characters. “Kiss Kiss” is not only incredibly silly, but insanely boring to the point where I shut it down once the credits showed. I didn’t even want to soak in what was basically just an excuse to show women bouncing around and inflicting pain on one another for ninety excruciating minutes.

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