Crawl (2019)

Sometimes it’s not about re-inventing the wheel when it comes to giving movie fans a great time at the movies. You just have to give them something entertaining and with some semblance of substance. While “Crawl” is something we’ve seen before, it has that special touch that only Alexandre Aja can inject. The same thing he did for Piranhas in his remake of “Piranha,” he does for alligators in “Crawl” offering a wonderful survival thriller that’s also a subtle commentary on global warming.

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The Meg (2018) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

John Turtletaub’s adaptation of “The Meg” may not have been everyone’s cup of tea in 2018, but for me it was a damn good time with an eye on being about as novel as possible. While it does pander to the ever important Asian movie going audience, “The Meg” is a weird and wild action movie that feels like an eccentric amalgam of Peter Benchley, Renny Harlin, and Paul WS Anderson. It’s a comedy, a science fiction film, an action movie, a romance, a man vs. nature picture, and a tale of redemption all rolled in to one. It even squeezes in a bang up cast of character actors like Cliff Curtis, Li Bingbing, and Rainn Wilson as an eccentric billionaire thrust in to the extraordinary confrontation with a giant megalodon.

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Prey (Prooi) (2016) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

As a lion wreaks havoc on the city of Amsterdam, a zoo veterinarian gets involved in its chase along with her boyfriend and ex.

Written and directed by Dick Maas, Prey is a horror comedy film with its comedy very dark and its horror a bit light.  The film takes the wild animal on the loose premise and moves it to the city of Amsterdam where the idea of a killer lion on the loose is particularly ludicrous.  The way the film develops this and adds hunters, both experienced and not so much, who once paired with the local police becomes a bit of a mess in terms of lion-chasing but a fun watch in terms of horror-comedy.  The film shows an ability to pit characters against each other in a way that is entertaining while they all face the lion threat.  The comedy is often situational and takes advantage of the characters’ flaws in a way that works well here.  The direction is rather on point for the comedy and fairly good on the horror.  However, as a horror film, it has just about no scare factor.

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Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (2016)

Sharknado4At this point you kind of have to accept the “Sharknado” movies will never be as good as the novels, so going in to “The 4th Awakens” means embracing it as a movie, and a media experience. It has a slew of appearances and cameos from notable internet personalities like Andre “The Black Nerd” Benjamin, to character actors like Gilbert Gottfried. Yes, even the Chippendales dancers appear to thrust against some sharks. “Sharknado” is a virtual side show of a genre offering that holds its tongue firmly in cheek, even when turning hero Fin in to a basic rip off of Ashley Williams from “Evil Dead.”

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You Have to See This! Contamination .7 (1993)

contamination7-1What if “The China Syndrome” was remade but featuring the budget of the Craft Services, three writers amounting to a horrible script, and a cast with zero skill to deliver even the most fundamental dialogue? You ultimately get the utterly awful “Contamination .7” where in a small town named Smallsville, is being terrorized by a deadly outbreak of man killing tree roots that murder anyone and everyone for reasons unexplained. They reside in a contaminated forest covered in radioactive waste. Not a single troll rears its head at any point in the movie.

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Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (2016) [Blu-Ray]

sharkansasblurayThe consistent utterance of Dominique Swain’s character to herself of “Crap on a Cracker,” just about sums up Jim Wynorski’s latest turkey that mixes “Con Air” and “Tremor.” No doubt tailor made for airing on late night cable television, “Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre” is a goofy PG-13 crime thriller with a bunch of land roving sharks that apparently make their victims explode upon contact. This is the kind of movie cable television dreams of. It stars a host of gorgeous women, many of who scamper around in conveniently handy bikinis, and whose prison garb are short shorts and clinging tank tops. They also never actually have sex or drop F bombs.

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Night of the Wild (2015)

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“Night of the Wild” is a lot like those terrible seventies nature run amok movies. It’s badly directed, horribly edited, has terrible continuity issues, and garners some inadvertent camp. All that’s missing is an obligatory nude scene. “Night of the Wild” is brimming with potential, beginning with a premise that could have amounted to a great movie. A mysterious green meteor crash lands on a small farm town spreading its meteorites. Suddenly the local animal population begin turning on their masters, becoming violent murderous monsters. Without explanation or warning, now the humans must fight to survive and figure out a way to make it out of their town. “Night of the Wild” pretty much dips in quality after the first ten minutes, creating a story that the budget and resources couldn’t possibly afford.

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Into the Grizzly Maze (2015) (DVD)

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It’s a shame that “Into the Grizzly Maze” didn’t get a wider release, because while the cast is strong, director David Hackl delivers a very strong survival thriller. I’m not going to claim it a masterpiece, but for what it promises, it’s a damn solid action adventure that’s set against the backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness. Much like “The Edge,” it’s mainly a movie about men confronting their personal demons while battling a giant ferocious and cunning bear that has decided it’s had enough with humanity. After illegally poaching a bunch of bears, a rogue bear has decided to strike down any and all intruders, and begins slaughtering conniving hunters and officers alike.

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