It’s shocking how well 1981’s “My Bloody Valentine” holds up. While it is a holiday themed slasher film that would end up becoming one of many, it can be placed in a league of its own for how creepy, eerie, and tense it still is. Sure you can argue that George Mihalka’s film is a bit rough around the edges. In one scene when character Hollis discovers a young couple impaled on top of each other, in a quick edit, you can see the actress breathing. But that doesn’t stop “My Bloody Valentine” from turning in to a very tightly written and engaging horror film about a psychotic miner who really hates Valentine’s Day. Mihalka’s film transforms in to a slick amalgam of “Friday the 13th” and “The Town that Dreaded Sundown,” where our maniac Harry Warden is created after the result of gross negligence.
Courtesy of Undercrank Productions, “Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers” starring Douglas Fairbanks garners a brand new DVD restoration. With a new score by Ben Model (along with new color tinting digital restoration, and stabilization), and with restoration by Karl Malkames, “The Three Musketeers” can be appreciated in a new edition and new vision. One of the many iterations of the classic action tale, “The Three Musketeers” stars film icon Douglas Fairbanks as the noble swordsman D’ Artagnan a young man who goes to Paris to become an ally to three of the best swordsmen alive. They are, of course, Athos as played by Leon Bary, Porthos as played by George Siegmann, and Aramis as played by Eugene Pallette.
Easily one of the best films of 2016, Kelly Freman Craig’s “The Edge of Seventeen” is a wonderful drama comedy teeming with engaging characters and compelling human dilemmas all of which garner a sense of sheer sadness. Not since “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” have I seen a drama comedy evoke the themes of John Hughes so beautifully. Too often when directors and writers try to invoke Hughes, they forget the key element to their narrative that the main protagonists can be and often are as flawed and selfish as the supporting characters and antagonists. The same can be said for “The Edge of Seventeen” where Hailee Steinfeld is incredibly adorable and compelling as Nadine Franklin. From the moment we meet her, Nadine is her own worst enemy, she’s someone who is always doubting herself and on the verge of a break down.
As someone who spent a lot of his youth buying Archie comics every single chance he got, “To Riverdale and Back Again” is a mix of disappointing and confusing. Even in 1990, studios thought the Archie comics were a bit dated and old fashioned for live action formats, so they basically made the whole universe of Archie and gave it mortality. They take the entire gang shoot them over a decade in to the future where they are all confused middle aged folks trying their best to figure out the current predicaments in their lives. While the premise has a lot of potential to be original and unique, it really isn’t. The concept is painfully old hat, while the movie itself is not just bland, but 1990 bland. That’s that flavor of vanilla that was almost kind of impossible to swallow, even for a half hour.
Returning to the big screen on January 29th and February 1st for a 30th anniversary presentation from Fathom Events and Lionsgate.
“Dirty Dancing” represents a lot of what made eighties cinema so great. There’s the obsession with the sixties, Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze, a pretty brilliant soundtrack, and of course a story about the guy from the wrong side of the tracks and the upper class girl above him in certain respects. Sure, “Dirty Dancing” can be silly, but it’s silly in a good way, and it’s bold in its approaching abortion as a key story element that sets the narrative in to motion. “Dirty Dancing” is one of the best movies about the love of dance and music ever made, and while it’s definitely associated with the chick flick label, it’s a movie that just about anyone can enjoy. And how can you not love “(I Had) The Time of My Life”?
“I’m Not Ashamed” is a movie in desperate search of a martyr. Brian Baugh’s “I’m Not Ashamed” takes the true story of Rachel Joy Scott and completely sidesteps facts in favor of a sickeningly exaggerated tale of faith, and persecuted Christians in America. Rachel Joy Scott was the first victim of the Columbine massacre, and drew particular attention for a piece of art she made before the massacre that centered on two tear soaked eyes and their thirteen tears. Allegedly it was prophetic of what occurred in Columbine and represented the thirteen lives lost on that day. “I’m Not Ashamed” works over time to turn Rachel in to a female Jesus Christ who literally sacrificed herself during the Columbine massacre for some kind of holy purpose we will never understand. The writers turn Rachel in to a potential prophet taken down before her prime, and by turning the entire day in to a case of angry atheists taking their anger out on others rather than turning to God.
While “Puppet Master 3” was a prequel to “Puppet Master” parts one and two, “Retro Puppet Master” is a prequel to the entire series. Rather than being chased by the Nazis, a young Toulon is facing off against mysterious undead agents working for a demonic force that wants his life serum. In “Retro Puppet Master,” the writers pay tribute to the original movies by re-casting Guy Rolfe as Toulon. Still running from Nazis, he camps out for the night in a cabin and regales his puppets with how he originally began his journey.
“American Pie” hit the right chords in the right time, it caught lightning in a bottle, and I was there when it became a pop culture phenomenon. It made the development of the digital age a fun comedic prop, as our protagonist Jim is caught on the world wide web of dozens of people prematurely ejaculating, and dancing. It struck the iron at just the right point and for a while was a massive hit. Hell, it even invented the term “Milf” (Thus an entire popular porn sub-genre was born!) But watching it so many years later, it’s clear that “American Pie” is just not a very good movie. Maybe it’s because seventeen years later pop culture has redefined what’s raunchy about a thousand times over, but when you cut away at the sexual humor, what you have a pretty mediocre teen comedy.