James DeMonaco’s second sequel to the exploitative and silly “The Purge” series reaches the masses in a very politically fueled year, and while DeMonaco and Blumhouse have the advantage of very much satirizing the current political climate, “Election Year” just continues the same routine we’ve seen with this movie series so far. It’s a lot of the same where there is an opportunity to offer a scary dark satire of America, but it backs off in favor of a lot of goofy plot twists and meandering sub-plots. Once again the annual the Purge is about to commence where every year for one night there is no such thing as law. So you can murder as you please, rape as you please, pillage, plunder, take a penny without leaving a penny, pick at a buffet without the sneeze guard, leave your trash with the recyclables included, walk on the grass, loiter like hell for hours on end, the sky is the limit.
With “Prometheus” Ridley Scott met the other side of his “Alien” mythology by visiting the very early dawn of his universe that saw the very evolution of his xenomorphs. After it hit with a thud resembling a wet diaper smashing in to a garbage can, Scott hits the other extreme by delivering a movie in the vein of “Prometheus” that’s just as flat and just as stupid. Director Ridley Scott has lost the grasp of his own film and has really failed to learn how to deliver a well measured and compelling horror tale teeming with themes about sexuality and human biology. Instead now he gets to literally have his cake and eat it too, by offering up a ham fisted goofy prequel that feels like a glorified fan film. All the while also continuing his descent in to pseudo-intellectualist allegories and on the nose metaphors about God, the Devil, Heaven, Paradise, evolution and birth.
There aren’t many movies out there that offer audiences a sequel that is so drastically different in tone. The biggest comparison I can draw is the original horror thriller “Cat People” and dramatic “The Curse of the Cat People.” While “Willard” was basically a twisted thriller involving a dysfunctional young man’s self destructive relationship with rats, “Ben” is a more dramatic family film with elements of horror thrown in. It’s a very tonally confused and muddled melodrama that doesn’t do much to make Ben in to an interesting horror villain. To prove how utterly confused the movie is in terms of intentions, watch the final scene in which Ben stares in to the camera menacingly in the vein of the climax of “Willard” while the sappy “Ben’s Song” from Michael Jackson plays as the credits roll. So—what are we supposed to feel by this?
You have to give Shout Factory credit for at least trying to connect “Willard” to “Ben” for audiences. In the original 1971 movie, Willard Stiles is dysfunctional man whose rat of choice is white and named Socrates. For some reason he harbors an adversarial relationship with Ben, first scolding him like an embarrassed parent and then lashing out at him violently time and time again. Ben is always a mysterious element in the tale of Willard Stiles, an animal that has a lot more to him than simply being a rodent. He’s sometimes a sentient and very clever animal that feeds Willard’s own sense of need for family. “Willard” is kind of a demented thriller that’s always been considered a horror classic. And though it’s not scary at all, it does bear elements of horror with an EC Comic bent in rare moments.
Yeon Sang-ho and the studios were wise to capitalize on the running juggernaut that was the success of “Train to Busan” in 2016. Often times studios or directors wait two to five years for a prequel or a sequel, but “Train to Busan” gets an almost immediate prequel that helps expand the story and mythology of the live action film. One of the best zombie films of the last fifteen years, and perhaps of all time, “Train to Busan” was an action packed blockbuster disaster film set to the tune of the zombie apocalypse. The animated prequel is a bit more downbeat but still maintains the same social relevance and commentary that “Train to Busan” did so well.
If you’re a fan of rampaging monster/sci-fi movie tributes like “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra,” or “Stomp! Shout! Scream!” then you’ll definitely love what David Cornelius has cooked up for film lovers. “Inhumanwich!” is a fun and sharp black and white send up of classic sixties monster movies that embraces its low budget working around the limited scenery and small cast to deliver one really fun and funny seventy five minute film. David Cornelius who wrote and directed the film obviously has a keen knowledge of the space exploration horror films, as he conjures up films like “The Blob,” “Robot Monster,” and “The Creeping Terror” for some really good material.
Adam Wingard is one of my favorite filmmakers working in film today and he almost always works alongside Simon Barrett, a cuttingly funny and witty man who knows how to churn out a damn good script. Wingard and Barrett pull off some amazing feats together, and “The Guest” is another notch in Wingard’s belt that oddly enough doesn’t get as much mention as his banner horror film “You’re Next.” Granted, I love “You’re Next” and have seen it at least two hundred times since it arrived in theaters, but “The Guest” is such a unique horror thriller with a premise that’s very socially relevant without ever being preachy.
Arrow Video is easily one of the best movie distributors around, and if you ask certain movie buffs collectors, they’d argue that they’re the best, period. I can’t decide as Arrow Video has been on a mission for the last few years to deliver fans some of the most unique movie titles on blu-ray and DVD, and offer them in deluxe collector’s packages that would make most cineastes hyperventilate out of sheer excitement. Arrow Video has taken it upon themselves to offer fans the two tales of “House,” two films that were big movie rental fodder in their heydays and are now brought together for what is a heavily suggested anthology. Arrow Video combines two of the true “House” movies that are—ironically—about as different from each other as the last two “House” movies.