Verotika (2019)

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.

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Universal Horror Collection: Volume 3 [Blu-Ray]

The newest edition from Shout Factory of Universal Horror Collection is really more of four films with mixed genres, and folks looking for strictly horror might be a tad disappointed. It does, in all fairness, feature horror icons like Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Vincent Price (and so many more). However for collectors looking to complete the library being released from Scream Factory, as they continue chronicling a lot of the more obscure and notable Universal horror films, this is right up your alley. It’s light in the supplemental material, but here’s hoping the impending volume four gives us a bit more meat to chew on.

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The Invisible Man (2020)

After countless attempts to redo their stable of movie monsters for a modern generation, “The Invisible Man” signals that Universal Studios is finally on the right track. Not only do they manage to remold the classic horror movie for a modern generation, but they inject it with immense tension, so many plot twists and a socially relevant message about spousal abuse and the long lasting effects it can have on the victims. Suffice to say, Leigh Whannell’s “The Invisible Man” is a masterpiece of the sub-genre.

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Brahms: The Boy II (2020)

“The Boy II” is one of the most inexplicable horror movies released in 2020 so far. The surprise success of the abysmal “The Boy” from 2016 (made cheap, producing big bucks) prompted the studio to make a follow up and franchise. And for some reason the writers and producers decide to completely retcon and reboot the entire mythos and story that was established from the original movie. Rather than stick to their successful formula, the original writer and director come back to reconfigure “The Boy” in to a limp, dull, and incredibly tedious “Annabelle” facsimile. It embraces all of the haunted doll clichés that’s become so common in this sub-genre wholesale, and completely ignores the 2016 horror drama.

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Knives Out (2019)

By all accounts, Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” should not have been such a stunning success. It’s an original murder mystery with an eye toward paying tribute to Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Agatha Christie, and yet it’s such a brilliant work of cinema through and through. “Knives Out” is a traditionalist murder mystery ensemble piece but one that also evokes modern sensibility without resorting to pandering to a younger audience. You’re either in for the ride with “Knives Out,” or you’re not as it takes its time unfolding what is a sly, slick and fantastic crime thriller that kept me grinning from ear to ear from beginning to end. 

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When a Stranger Calls Back (1993) [Blu-Ray]

Fred Walton returns for what is such a ridiculous sequel to an already abysmal thriller that I’m stunned there was any demand for it. Walton already spent ninety minutes stretching a five minute campfire tale in to a full fledged crime thriller, but this TV movie sequel watches like a ludicrous episode of a mediocre crime series. This is a premise so absurd and void of real tension or suspense. It seems like the writers spent so much time looking for a concept to resuscitate this concept and they fail with a tedious piece of genre claptrap.

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