Dawn of the Dead (2004): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

Zack Snyder re-invents the late George Romero’s masterpiece in a mess of a remake that starts off very strong, gives up trying to make sense mid-way, and them limps to the finish line as fast as it can. Snyder and James Gunn’s script never takes time to slow down and breathe, jumping from one action scene to the next, from one musical laced montage to the next, and from one weak moment of tension to the next. Characters are stale and barely developed, and the script never hides that these people are meant as cannon fodder and nothing else. Worse, the script is clumsily paced, the overall film is tonally uneven, and often times the horror element is an afterthought.

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Land of the Dead (2005): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

It’s fitting that Shout Factory would release “Land of the Dead” right around the same time as 2004’s version of “Dawn of the Dead.” After almost twenty years in development hell, and with the title “Dead Reckoning,” Romero was able to finally complete his planned fourth part of his dead series thanks to the success of “Dawn.” Even Romero admitted that he owed a lot of his ability to make “Land” thanks to the evident success of “Dawn.” While “Land of the Dead” feels incomplete and under developed, I give Romero a huge pass mainly because he was given so much hell while filming the long awaited sequel. Not only did he have to scale down his story yet again like he did with “Day of the Dead,” but he couldn’t film in Pittsburgh which he always did with his zombie epics.

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The Monster Squad (1987)

Fred Dekker’s “The Monster Squad” is the assembly of many eighties tropes, even conjuring up the aesthetic of a novel series one might have found tucked beside “The Hardy Boys,” and “Babysitters Club.” It’s Amblin, Spielberg, Universal and everything else we loved about the eighties, and while it can in many ways be considered a take off on “The Goonies,” it watches so much better over time. Even better is the script by Shane Black allows for interesting and complex preteen heroes, all of whom have their spotlight, as well as their own personal struggles. Like Spielberg, Black introduces a potentially broken home with main hero Sean, while this extraordinary situation allows his family to re-unite for the fate of him and his little sister.

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The Call of Charlie (2016) [Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2017]

Charlie is a friend, so Mark and his wife help him out by setting him up with Maureen. As the evening goes along, with uninvited guests Virginia and Jay joining the 4 of them, things take an odd turn.

Written by Guy Benoit, John Simpson, and director Nick Spooner, The Call of Charlie is a horror comedy that works, and works great. It’s funny and uses a creature to the best possible result in terms of comedy and awkwardness. The film has witty dialog and flows really well throughout. The writing is on point and the directing supports it perfectly. The way this is short is build shows a good grasp of comedic timing and how to build a strong story with odd aspects and keep it simple to make it work the best possible.

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Rings (2017)

Remember that thing we learned about Samara from “The Ring” and “The Ring Two”? There’s a bit more of the story we didn’t learn about her and we have to sit through a hundred minutes to find it out. Why? All for the sake of a surprise ending that apes James Wan, but packs none of his usual flare. Like, you know… an actual surprise. Truthfully, I saw the surprise twist coming for “Rings” about twenty minutes in to the actual film, and while I appreciate wanting to reboot the series for a new generation that only knows what a VHS or VCR is through history books or novelty articles on Buzzfeed, “Rings” just isn’t a good movie.

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Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

A man slowly turns into a metal/man hybrid after killing The Metal Fetishist. His life changes at an alarming rate and so does he.

This piece of Japanese weirdness was written and directed by Shin’ya Tsukamoto almost 30 years ago and it still maintains its shock and awe. The film has a fairly simply story at its basis but is constructed and directed in such a way that it’s dizzying and purposefully messes with its viewer’s angle on it. The film is somewhat hard to follow but that’s part of how it works in the end. It is messed up and messes the viewer up. It’s one of those oddities that don’t feel like it was made just for the shock or just to disturb, but it still achieves both with flying colors. The way Shin’ya Tsukamoto tells this story is masterful yet filled with lunacy.

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