Luciferina (2018) [Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival 2018]

A trainee nun, Natalia, goes home after an accident kills her mother and leaves her father dying. Once home, she discovers family secrets and goes on a self-discovery trip with friends. There she learns even more and puts her own soul at stake.

Writer/director Gonzalo Calzada takes the concepts of good versus bad, god versus evil, Catholic versus pagan, family, legacy, and destiny and plays with them in a dark realm tinged by demonic forces and curiosity. The story here is done in a way that works for its characters, letting them get exposed and built before throwing in the evil/demonic elements. Most of everything here works and goes towards creating a cohesive story and world. Some of the timeline and exposure may feel a bit off as it foes, but it all makes sense by the end. Calzada has a story here that he knows how to tell and he gets it out here on the screen in a way the viewer can easily watch, connect with, and be entertained by.

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You Have to See This! Perfect Blue (1997)

In Select U.S. Theaters September 6th & 10th via Fathom Events.

It’s amazing how prophetic Satoshi Kon’s “Perfect Blue” was back in 1997. Even though it was released at the beginning of the internet age, “Perfect Blue” is a very strong and still very relevant tale about rabid fandom, gate keeping, obsession, and the struggles to maintain one’s own sense of self and agency in a world where growing in one’s career means relinquishing our dignity and discretion. In a time where actresses are being chased and harassed off of social platforms, “Perfect Blue” conjures up so much interesting and familiar imagery and plot beats, and ultimately is about the cost of rabid fandom.

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Aragne: Sign of Vermillion (2018) [Fantasia 2018]

Saku Sakomoto’s “Aragne” is a real stab at anime horror that embraces its nonsensical story, and never actually delivers a narrative at any point during its run time. “Aragne” is thankfully a merciful hour long film, but one that’s a disorienting, and incoherent experience. And not in the artistic way. More in the realm that Sakomoto seems to have half assed a lot of the film and kind of took it in to the realm where he makes it looks intentional the whole way through.

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John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness (1994): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

John Carpenter has always been about transcending what ever form of storytelling he pursued. Even when paying homage toWesterns or remaking something like “Village of the Damned,” Carpenter never approaches it conventionally. With “In the Mouth of Madness,” he had every chance to repeat the same meta-beats as “They Live,” but he ends up delivering a genius, beautifully loony, often brilliant piece of cinema that’s both a tribute to literature, a meditation on the power of the imagination, and our own state of being and reality.

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Abominable (2005): Special Edition [Blu-Ray/DVD]

It’s pretty tough to find a good Bigfoot horror film these days, and whenever one really good title for the subgenre comes along, you have to hold on to it and appreciate it. Ryan Schifrin’s “Abominable” is a fantastic entry in to the sub-genre that takes Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” injects a little lunacy, and rather than Raymond Burr, we have a hairy, vicious, super strong abominable snowman terrorizing a group of girls. While on paper that sounds like the formula for a potentially silly movie, “Abominable” is stellar. It’s creepy, darkly funny, gory, and has one of the best final scenes I’ve ever seen in a horror movie, barnone.

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Species (1995): Collector’s Edition [2 Blu-Ray]

If you’re going to watch “Species” for any reason, you have to see it for Natasha Henstridge. Surely, the cast is dynamic with the likes of Michael Madsen, Forrest Whitaker, and Ben Kingsley respectively, but Henstridge is a pretty great scene stealer rivaled only by Marg Helgenberger. I vividly recall “Species” grabbing a ton of attention back in 1995 mainly for the fact that “Species” was such a unique and erotic bit of horror and science fiction, and for the most part, it’s an okay movie. But what saves it is Henstridge and the great effects.

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Of Unknown Origin (1983) [Blu-Ray]

It’s Peter Weller vs. clunky allegory in George P. Cosmatos’ “Of Unknown Origin,” a veritable contemporary take on “Moby Dick” that pits man against nature in an urban setting and sea of bricks and mortars. “Of Unknown Origin” quite obviously fancies itself a wink wink nudge at the famous novel, that Weller’s character Bart even threatens the film’s beast with in his hand while pounding on a ceiling. In “Of Unknown Origin,” the world is a rat race and Peter Weller’s character Bart is so anxious to claw his way to the top of his corporation that he’ll even sacrifice a weekend with a young, taut Shannon Tweed (her first role) so he can get ahead.

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Revenge (2018)

Corealie Fargeat’s “Revenge” is kind a new chapter in the rape revenge sub-genre of thrillers and horror films. It deconstructs an often very controversial and polarizing sub-genre to make it less about the exploitation of women and more about the empowerment of a woman who even views herself as a sex object when we meet her. “Revenge” is a grueling film to endure, but one that is also quite fantastic in its imagery and depiction of men as less cunning sexual predators and more slimy snakes that prey on a woman who proves she is a pure force of vengeance to be reckoned with.

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