Olive Films brings the 1955 Republic movie serial “Panther Girl of the Kongo” to blu-ray form with every episode of the cliff hanger adventures for fans. Phyllis Coates as Jean Evans is the heroine and adventurer who has been taken in to confidence by the African tribe the Utange. There she lives among the natives and begins helping them fend off various threats to their way of life. This includes a mad scientist who uses various monsters and experiments to battle with Evans. He and his cronies will do everything to push the Utange out of their village for the sake of a very valuable diamond mine.
While many science fictions films in the past have confronted the idea of communication with alien species, as well as building a language with said species, no film like “Arrival” has accomplished the examination of the inherent importance of language with other species as a means of keeping peace and preventing disaster. Films like “Prometheus” have tried and failed to tackle the concept of galactic travel to learn about ideas. “Close Encounters” which is typically celebrated for being a film about communication never quite rises to the idea that interplay between species could hinge on peace and total war. When we meet the alien species we can never really be sure what their intent is. When the time comes to meet them face to face, “Arrival” is a world that side steps military interference in exchange for linguistic help.
2014’s “The Lego Movie” surprised fans two fold, not just by being an excellent movie, but by turning Batman in to one of the funniest supporting characters in an animated movie since—well ever. “The Lego Batman Movie” initially had me very skeptical as to how far they could stretch the hilarious side character in to his own feature film, and shocking enough Lego Batman’s spin off is fantastic. It’s laugh out loud funny, very clever, and has a bonafide appeal to both hardcore fans and new audiences looking for a giggle or two. Like the original movie that spawned it, “The Lego Batman Movie” garners a myriad absurdity and off the wall hilarity that will keep many viewers laughing almost non-stop, but the writing team also injects a lot of heart. While Batman is a self confident, obnoxious, egomaniac in love with his own vigilante persona, he’s also a man who doesn’t realize much of it is hollow without a family or someone to lean on.
Ellory Elkayem’s “Eight Legged Freaks” came out during a horrendous time. First it was a limited release, unleashed around the time another Spider oriented movie was breaking box office records, and it was released during a time where audiences were still bruised from 9/11 and weren’t too keen on welcoming horror comedies in to their lives quite yet. It’s a shame since “Eight Legged Freaks” is a pitch perfect horror comedy that celebrates everything from B movies, slasher movies, disaster movies, and the classic monster movies like “Them!” and “Mosquito.” Ellory Elkayem based a lot of “Eight Legged Freaks” on his short film “Larger Than Life,” which is very much in the spirit of what we see on the big screen. It is a black and white ode to the sixties monster movies with Elkayem conjuring up what’s so gross and icky about spiders. I originally saw “Larger than Life” on television in 2000 when it premiered on the short film television series “Exposure” on the Sci-Fi Channel here in America.
Jonathan Straiton’s “Night of Something Strange” seems to exist only to test the audience’s gag reflexes and nothing more. There is no story, no main character, the narrative is a mess, the pacing is uneven, the zombies that Straiton conceives are so poorly fleshed out, and in the end when Straiton throws out the script to deliver a non-ending, the joke falls flat. To prove how inept the movie is, after the prologue we enter in to the main narrative with character Christine delivering a heaping helping of exposition, narrating the set up for the movie as she writes in her journal. The latter portion of the movie reveals that, no, she’s by no means the central character and final girl. It’s just unfocused badly drawn out dreck that makes the movie such a chore to endure.
Mamoru Oshii’s “Ghost in the Shell” is the natural successor to “Blade Runner,” it’s an anime masterpiece that works both as an action film and a very evocative and thought provoking science fiction thriller. Through very engaging characters and still incredibly stunning visuals, “Ghost in the Shell” approaches themes like the idea of consciousness and existence, and what living is, and how it’s fairly impossible to prove what sentience is or isn’t. In 2029, law enforcement has been enhanced to the point where human beings can transport their consciousness and memories in to cybernetic shells that grant them amazing abilities used to keep law and order.
“Day of Reckoning” is a pseudo-biblical horror movie that teams “Doom,” “Day of the Dead,” “The Walking Dead” and the Roland Emmerich disaster pornos in to one ball of baffling entertainment. “Day of Reckoning” is teeming with potential and actually manages to be entertaining every now and then. When a mining company accidentally unearths a hibernating brood of demonic monsters, the beasts arise from their slumber to begin wreaking havoc on humanity. The monsters are a variety of winged, stampeding, anthropomorphic demons with varying degrees of appearances and habits. Sometimes they’re a random herd of monsters, and sometimes they’re scheming and planning. They can poison people to apparently turn on everyone else, and they have a thirst for human flesh. Best of all they can be taken out by dousing them with enough salt.
You could see where David DeCouteau’s contemporary film list started, as “The Killer Eye” is no more a horror film as it is a fifty minute soft core porn with twenty minutes of story added. “The Killer Eye” looks like it was made on a bargain basement budget, and considering the limited scenery, it’s not hard to figure out that DeCoteau put his entire budget on the film’s titular monster. This movie probably introduced a lot of people to hentai for all we know.