Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon (2013)

As a Hanna Barbera geek, I have to say “Mask of the Blue Falcon” hit all the right notes. I didn’t just have a good time with the surprisingly clever vehicle for the Mystery Inc. crew, but I also had so much fun pointing out all of the Easter Eggs. And yes, every single Easter Egg within “Mask of the Blue Falcon” is a reference to a Hanna Barbera cartoon from the sixties and seventies. I’m just disappointed we didn’t see anything referencing “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids.” What? It’s an obscenely underrated Scooby Doo wannabe, darnit!

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Female Filmmaker Friday: Braid (2018) [Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival 2018]

A woman living in her imaginary world of her own making received a visit from two old friends on the run from the law and looking for easy money and as well as an easy way out. Turns out, going home may not yield the results they were aiming for.

Writer/director Mitzi Peirone creates a story here that is strong yet somewhat vague on some fronts and very hard to explain without giving too much away. What she creates with Braid is something that pulls the viewer in and doesn’t let them go until the end of the credits. Her works in writing and behind the camera are perfectly paired and create a world of its own on the screen. The characters she creates are complete and complex while not putting all the cards on the table at any point. This leads to a mysterious atmosphere and an odd flow to the story that work perfectly in this film.

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Bad Apples (2018)

Truthfully, “Bad Apples” isn’t a terrible movie even when you consider it’s a shameless rip off of “The Strangers.” It just obviously has a paper thin premise and not much else to do but pad the time. The movie is ninety minutes long and for twenty of those minutes it feels like a relationship drama set on Halloween starring Brea Grant and Graham Skipper as married couple Ella and Robert. She’s trying to adjust to her new house, he’s working his new job, and she’s trying to teach at a school run by an overly religious principal, oh the hilarity. Then it decides to dip in to the horror–eventually.

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ATM (2012)

There are two kinds of survival thrillers I place in separate categories. There’s the “They’re completely fucked” films like “Open Water” and “Alive” where their situation is hopeless. Then there’s the “Calm Down and You Might Survive” category with titles like “Frozen” and “47 Meters Down” where if people just relaxed and displayed some kind of common sense, they could make it. “ATM” is in the latter category where if these three moronic characters would just stop and think for a moment, they could have actually made it through the poor man’s Jigsaw without many battle wounds.

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Dead of Night (1977)

Once upon a time TV movies were an event. They meant something. They were used sporadically during the year for various networks as a means of attracting big ratings. Once upon a time TV used TV movies as a means of competing with theaters, and ever since that’s become something of a lost medium. Even when I was a kid, the nineties were filled with TV movies both of the Stephen King multi-night variety, and occasional biblical epics, and or science fiction epics like “Taken,” or “Noah.” It was an interesting time. “Dead of Night” is one of the various TV movies that’s gone from TV movie to well acclaimed horror movie, and that might be because of Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson.

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The Darkness (2016)

I’ve yet to be impressed by anything that Greg McLean has done in cinema and he meets my expectations with “The Darkness.” Though it’s defined as a horror movie, I’d be hesitant to call it that since the horror genre’s veneer is so thin. “The Darkness” is really more of a painfully awkward drama about a dysfunctional family who put up with one another more than loves each other. In the prologue they seem to like one another just fine, but when we see them in their own surroundings, we’re introduced to petulant, obnoxious, rude, and self destructive people with no clear reason for being so dysfunctional beyond it being a good pit stop before the weak scares.

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Tales From The Crypt/Vault Of Horror: Double Feature [Blu-ray]

It makes sense that Shout Factory would package “Tales from the Crypt” with “Vault of Horror” since both horror films are essentially a part of the same universe, and are adapted from the genius EC Comics brand. In “Vault of Horror” you can even see one of the characters sit beside a stack of EC Comics while turning to continue reading a “Tales from the Crypt” novel. It’s a good thing too since both films are stellar horror anthologies, practicing the tradition of EC Comics’ storytelling formula that involves revenge, irony, plot twists, and turning the tables on characters at every turn. If you can spare the time, these films deserve to be viewed as a double bill, because it’s a master class of storytelling and creeps.

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The Witch Files (2018) (DVD)

A group of teenage girls get together following a stint in detention where one of them shows an interesting power that they all want to harness to their own ends.

Written by Larry Blamire and Kyle Rankin with the latter also directing, The Witch Files is a coming-of-age story for pre-teens and teens with a penchant for the dark side. The film takes an approach a la The Craft but lite as it has a few more girls who are younger and who don’t turn quite as dark as the original teen coven of the 90s. The writing is decent here and the direction does well for the story. However, it does feel its budget throughout the film as it is definitely limiting the scope of things, or at least it feels like such. Within this scope however, the film is somewhat entertaining and will most likely hit the right notes with tween and teen girls.

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