Jordan Peele has effectively fired off the starting gun of what I think will become an landscape of cinema filled with social commentary about the racial climate, and division among a certain kind of people. As with all horror movements, Peele expertly crafts a movie that reflects the racial relations of modern America, and how there is a thin line between acceptance and cultural appropriation and fanaticism. Peele is a man who has devoted most of his career to brutally sharp and funny comedy, and here he delivers what is a darkly comedic but very scary tale about cults, the racial dynamic and what is arguably the next movement in the racial hysteria in the country. “Get Out” derives a lot of uncomfortable laughter from the audience, but it has a lot to say about the extremes of racism, and the sheer horror of pure ignorance and naivete.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are two men who can be funny when they want to, and whenever they come up with a premise for something out of the box they almost offer up something great. For some reason they can never seem to completely unfold their unusual premises whole hog, and hinder their own efforts to be absurd time and time again. “This is the End” had moments of pure hilarity but fell apart by the second half, and “Sausage Party” is a movie where I get what they’re doing. Yes, I understand what they’re doing here. “Sausage Party” is an off the wall and absurd twist on “Toy Story” where anthropomorphic sentient inanimate objects are treated as such to the point where they feel everything humans can. They can be scared, they have their own communities, and yes, they even have their own sexualities and religions. I get it.
“Josie and the Pussycats” is kind of a “They Live” of its sub-genre, taking a cute premise and turning it on its head to show a decent rock trio and how they become consumed by corporations, merchandising, and the all consuming hunger of the fans that follow. Sadly in 2001, the world was inundated with endless boy bands and pop princesses, all of whom were Caucasian, very blond, and very young, and were always on MTV grinning and getting their fans to spend, spend, spend. So, “Josie and the Pussycats” sadly got lost in the shuffle considered something of a celebration of consumerism, when really it kind of mocked the whole idea.
Full Moon sinks deeper in to pseudo-Troma territory by delivering another installment of “Killjoy’s Psycho Circus.” If you’re prepared for a movie that has literally no plot but spends ninety minutes advertising its product tie-ins, then you might enjoy what’s on display here. During Killjoy’s demented TV show, there’s an ad featuring the characters from “Evil Bong,” and the movie literally stops to promote the “Adam and Eve” website. They even bring on a model to talk to Killjoy to promote their products. I’ve heard of product placement before, but I’ve never seen a movie so lazy that it literally stops in its tracks to promote a product for a company.
I’m still not sure what to make of “Return of the Caped Crusaders” even hours after it’s ended. It wants to be both a love letter to Adam West’s “Batman,” and a spoof of it, so the movie sometimes celebrates the show’s inherent absurdities. The next moment it’s not just mocking the series’ idiocy, but also most of the Batman franchise. After “The Killing Joke” we definitely need a lighter Batman with some entertainment value, but “Return of the Caped Crusaders” is so confused about its intent I was never sure whether I was supposed to laugh with it or at it.
I guess if you’re going to try to spoof a hit horror movie, you might as well bring with you the star of said film. For better and for worse, Linda Blair is now and will always be associated with her star making turn as Regan in “The Exorcist.” Sadly, she’s more known for the movie, than being a strong actress who gave a strong and compelling performance. Blair uses the chance starring in “Repossessed” to burn the whole motherfucking kit and caboodle to the ground hamming it up big time in a role that’s basically Regan 2.0 if Regan became a doting housewife revisited by Pazuzu. This time, though, she’s named Nancy. Get it? Nancy Regan?
Catherine Sweeney wants to make her first fiction feature film, a zombie romantic comedy, but to do so; she must find people to finance her and help produce the film. After everyone she meets in the industry is telling her to put a speaking dog in her film as it will sell it like crazy. After first resisting this idea, she eventually gives in, losing her integrity and possibly her sanity in the process. This film about the plight of the filmmaker, particularly of the female horror filmmaker, is written and directed by Kate Shenton whose first feature film this is. The lead she creates here feels like a woman some of have met in the industry, possibly a little bit or a lot of Shenton herself as she has to have seen a lot of what Sweeney sees in her own career.
In June 2016, the folks from Rifftrax finally granted longtime fans the privilege of watching an MST3K reunion. It was pulled off successfully and brought literally everyone who has ever been on the series to riff on some classic and awful educational short films. Not just that, but the crew also had the foresight to bring on Jonah Ray the new human host for the upcoming “MST3K” reboot to throw in some of his own riffs, and warm the audience up to his impending tenure on the Satellite of Love. I’m a big fan of Ray’s, and he has the same affable personality, and humble charm that Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson had that won fans over. I’m excited to see how he handles the antics on the new show. For fans that missed the live show, the performance is now available for purchase at Rifftrax, and I gladly paid to watch the two and a half hour performance by the entire cast, in person in front of a welcome audience.