Fear Street, Part 3: 1666 (2021)

Director Leigh Janiak’s creation of the “Fear Street” trilogy has to be one of the most impressive cinematic accomplishments this year. It’s tough to find a horror trilogy where every film feels different, but clicks together like a puzzle, so seamlessly. “Fear Street” had every chance of being a complete mess, especially with how it goes backward in time to fill in the gaps in its narrative. Not to mention the fact that it trusts audiences will return is ambitious and often impressive.

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Super Hot (2021)

I think it is possible that director Taylor King has created one of my favorite indie films of the year. I didn’t entirely know what to expect going in to “Super Hot” but it ends up being such a great horror comedy, despite some small flaws here and there. “Super Hot” has its inspirations close to its chest, combining “Booksmart” with “The Craft” to form this unusual amalgam that works shockingly well.

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Werewolves Within (2021)

Director Josh Ruben has a real knack for taking snowy tundras and creating some prime horror fodder with them. While I didn’t much care for “Scare Me,” he managed to build some interesting tension with just two people in a snowy cabin. With “Werewolves Within,” it’s a bit larger in scale, but still a fantastic peek in to an engaging mystery. Ruben’s film brilliantly mixes Agatha Christie with “The Beast Must Die,” and some of The Coens for good measure.

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Fear Street, Part 1: 1994 (2021)

One of the many aspects of “Fear Street” that always set them apart from the “Goosebumps” books is that RL Stine relied a lot on folklore. With the “Fear Street” series, it depended a lot on the folklore and urban legend aesthetic, exploring more universal themes usually found there. There were always ideas about revenge, and mystery killers, and inherent terrifying nature of Halloween, and yes, even vampires. Fear Street always had something new to offer readers, and the movie carries that tradition.

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In the Heights (2021)

The COVID Pandemic has changed a lot about what we love about New York City; over the years it’s become something of an environment where opportunities have dwindled and the sense of community has been lost. From Gentrification and the Exodus of its residents, the city just isn’t familiar anymore. “In the Heights” is that reminder that once upon a time New York was about tight knit communities sticking together and beating the odds. And it’s a call to the idea that maybe it all can be reclaimed.

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Aliens, Clowns & Geeks (2019)

Richard Elfman’s “Aliens Clowns & Geeks” is the type of indie zaniness you’ll only find in back room of modern cinema. It’s a fearless, and bizarre mish mash of comedy, satire, science fiction, music, and just about everything else you can find. There are transgender individuals, and evil clowns, and a hero who can fire lasers out of his anus. And that’s really the tip of the iceberg when you manage to soak it all in. And you’ll need a hell of a lot of booze and weed to soak it all in.

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Workhorse Queen (2020) [Slamdance Film Festival 2021]

It’s been a long, rough journey for drag queens to become accepted among modern society. After decades of being pushed in to the underground to celebrate their art form, now we’re at a rare moment in time where the drag profession is now being celebrated. After RuPaul’s efforts to inject the drag queen lifestyle in to the world with her hit series “Drag Race,” drag queens went from being pushed in to darkness, to now taking pictures with awe struck children, and hosting concerts with families and children.

And yet, after all of it, there’s still so much more to be done.

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