What I love about “Kong: Skull Island” is that while it’s essentially a good old fashioned matinee monster movie at heart, it’s also a pretty clever take on the Vietnam war. “Kong: Skull Island” implements the classic trope from the classic giant monster movies taking a group of armed men and women in to the wilderness, and uses that as an allegory for the Vietnam war. Like the aforementioned war, US soldiers storm in to a wilderness they were unprepared to do battle with, except they face an unparalleled force of nature. Also very effectively setting up a cinematic universe, Jordan Vogt-Roberts aspires for a lot, and succeeds as a simple and harrowing adventure with big monsters, and menacing creatures far and wide.
Widescreen and Uncut for movie buffs everywhere, “Satan’s Cheerleaders” is a wonderful piece of crap that mixes all of the seventies hallmarks in a ninety two minute piece of junk food. There’s your disco soundtrack, your scantily clad cheerleaders (Kerry Sherman is a stonecold babe), and of course what would the decade be without Satanic cults and women in the buff praising an altar of some kind? “Satan’s Cheerleaders” is a delightfully campy bit of nonsense that felt like someone had a script for a horror movie and a teen sports movie and put them together for the sake of getting a movie funded.
“Brawl in Cell Block 99” is the second feature from director S. Craig Zahler, the man behind “Bone Tomahawk,” the acclaimed horror western that sent critics buzzing. I, for one, didn’t enjoy the movie, so imagine my surprise when I tuned in to “Brawl in Cell Block 99,” a movie that is essentially a throwback to prison brawlers and a compelling drama. Not since “Raze” have I seen a movie so raw and vicious in its depiction of humanity. Vince Vaughn gives an enormous turn as Bradley, a man at the end of his rope who literally has to dive in to hell to save his wife and unborn child. And what’s surprising is not how far he goes, but how easy it is for a good man to sink in to hell so rapidly.
There’s a reason why sometimes a one off joke is used just once. It’s because stretching it out destroys the momentum of the joke. Someone behind “Cute Little Buggers” loved the scene in “The Holy Grail” involving the man eating cute rabbit and decided to turn it in to a horrendous horror comedy. Not that I have anything against movies that take inspiration from Monty Python, but when they have a rhyme or reason, and an actual good idea, I’m all for it. But “Cute Little Buggers” seems centered on the premise of one joke that one joke that gets boring after being used repeatedly mainly since the joke just isn’t that funny in the beginning, anyway.
This is the story of Leatherface. Again. No, “The Beginning” was not his origin, “Leatherface” is. I’m not sure what “The Beginning” was supposed to be. “Leatherface” is the official prequel to the iconic movie maniac, they promise. And once again, like “The Beginning,” 2017’s “Leatherface” is really just a tired, nasty, unpleasant road film following a group of psychopaths. Leatherface’s actual origin is reserved for the final ten minutes where he just reverts to Leatherface mode because—um—it’s familiar! Familiar is good, right? Once again, no one seems to be interested in actually dissecting the madness of Leatherface, or why and how his persona of wearing human skin and carrying a chainsaw relates to him. In the original Tobe Hooper masterpiece,
The definition of disappointing is the big lead in to who or what the Creeper is. The writing makes a big deal about how you’re able to read its origins by touching a severed part of it, even staging a scene where a group of people channel its origins. There’s a close up of its magical spears and emphases on its car which is built like a virtual indestructible tank, and in the finale Creeper wails in anger as crows fly around, reacting to a sign that reads “We know what you are.” Guess what? We’re never told what the Creeper is. There isn’t even a hint of an explanation. The writing tries to cop out by metaphorically explaining that the creeper is a monster that changes and destroys lives. Damn it, to hell with stupid clichés and tell me what the hell the Creeper is!
I think that there is a very good movie hiding beneath the nonsense and absurdity that is Craig Anderson’s “Red Christmas.” I want to say that I appreciated it’s willingness to just certain taboos, but in the end I could never figure out if the film was an indictment on the pro choice movement, an indictment of the pro life movement, or maybe just an altogether mushy mélange of nonsense meant to dismiss both sides of the argument. I didn’t know and I really couldn’t care less, because “Red Christmas” has some very strong performances backing it up. It’s just sad that it’s a mean spirited, ugly, tedious, and altogether tonally confused home invasion horror film.