With the accessibility of independent filmmaking, often times filmmakers have chosen to pay homage to the Grindhouse era, and with often varying results. It’s not too often we can sit down to watch a genuinely scary film that pays tribute to the atomic age and the classic anthology series from the golden age of television. Andrew Patterson’s “The Vast of Night” is absolute accomplishment. It’s a movie I reviewed during Slamdance 2019 and have yet to quit talking about or boasting about since it was scooped up by Amazon Video. It’s a cinematic gem filled with horror, mystery, science fiction, and pure suspense that will hook audiences the moment the film begins.
I’ve come to appreciate “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death” more and more over the years, as it’s managed to separate itself from the other vampire films in the sub-genre. While other of its ilk manage to flaunt the concept of the vampire without much substance, John Hancock and writers Sheridan Le Fanu and Lee Kalchiem take an opportunity here. Here, the monster is brilliant used as a means as a dread filled allegory for paranoia, fear of unraveling sanity, and our latent fear of infidelity.
There’s a ghoul in school! And “Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory” is one of the weirdest and darkest werewolf movies I’ve ever seen. It’s tough to believe a movie from the early sixties is filled with such dread, violence, and sexual implications that becomes the backdrop for the narrative. Despite being a werewolf movie, Paolo Heusch’s movie carries with it a lot of giallo vibes, focusing on a mostly obscured villain that stalks and strangles their victims. Although there is the stalk and chase of the sub-genre, Heusch relies on a whodunit mystery that feels much in the vein of Argento.
I’d be lying if I said that I’m the biggest Scooby Doo fan around. Hell, I’m still stunned that Hanna Barbera has placed so much stock in the franchise for so many decades, but I digress. I had high hopes going in to “Scoob!” as every generation is introduced to Scooby Doo once again in some new form, and “Scoob!” seemed like the right avenue. Not only does it give us a new vision of Scooby Doo, but it makes tweaks to the mythos that I liked, while also establishing a shared Hanna Barbera universe. And yet, at the end of it all, I’d still rather have seen “Scooby Doo on Zombie Island” or “Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost,” again.
TNT undergoes a massive task with “Snowpiercer.” After coming to the big screen as a massively underrated and underseen 2013 science fiction masterpiece from Bong Joon Ho, their next phase is taking the graphic novels by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette, and transforming it in to a weekly series that puts us on board the Snowpiercer once again. This series’ newest aim is to take us so much deeper in to the lore and world of Snowpiercer, as while the central setting is a train, it’s a massive train that houses its own ecosystems, as well as its own turmoil that threatens the entirety of the haul including the bubble that many passengers have built for themselves.
I’m stunned that in a world where we have no shortage of entertainment about zombies, and the zombie apocalypse, that there has never really been a movie surrounding indigenous people. Zombie movies are almost always about fighting for land, dominance, and or resources, so it seems only natural that we’d have at least twenty by now featuring indigenous main characters. “Blood Quantum” is the first of its kind centering on indigenous characters, all of whom are facing a world where they’ve inherited the Earth, and have to figure out where they stand in it.
Ang Lee has always been a visionary director who has challenged conventions with certain genres. While he doesn’t always hit a home run, Lee can at least be appreciated for wanting to take ideas to help usher in classic films. “Gemini Man” should have been a slam dunk. It would have been a slam dunk. But as a film, it’s so much more a concept meant to do pretty much everything but tell a story that’s engaging. It flexes its CGI, as well as Hollywood’s current fetish for de-aging stars and trying to find ways to beat mortality for the sake of cashing in on them as long as possible.