Title: Videodrome (1983) Runtime: 89 minutes Director: David Cronenberg
David Cronenberg is undoubtedly an intelligent filmmaker. He makes smart horror/sci-fi films that require the viewer’s full attention, all while adding in some of the most incredible gore effects you’ll ever see. If I told you that I understood Videodrome completely, I’d be lying. Even though it is a bit dense, and the overall message of the movie isn’t easy to pin down, I do know that I enjoyed the hell out of it.
James Woods plays Max Renn, a cable TV programmer who specializes in softcore porn and hardcore violence. He stumbles upon this program thanks to his pirating partner entitled Videodrome. There is no plot at all, just 30-60 minutes of violent torture and eventual murder. Renn is fascinated by the idea, and wants to find out more about the production. Nothing is as it seems, though, and his search for Videodrome becomes one massive hallucinatory nightmare filled with violent sex, mutating body parts, and more secrets than you can shake a stick at. Continue reading →
Title: American Movie (1999) Runtime: 107 minutes Director: Chris Smith
American Movie is a perfect title for this quirky and engaging documentary about one man’s fight to find that fabled “American Dream” that we’ve all heard so much about. The way American Movie presents this search is fascinating, thanks in most part to its subject: aspiring filmmaker Mark Borchardt. His struggle to complete a movie is comical, inspiring, and just damn fun to watch.
When we first meet Borchardt, he is writing the script for a radio play that a group of actors will soon perform. Borchardt reflects, after the evening’s activities of smoking weed and drinking beer, that the radio play was nothing but a waste of time, and in order to be happy and successful, he needs to make his feature-length film, Northwestern. We follow the eccentric Borchardt as he starts gathering his family, friends, and local talent to help create his vision for Northwestern. We sit in on a few meetings, some for creative purposes and others for financing purposes. A few days before filming is scheduled to begin, though, Borchardt faces the harsh reality that he simply does not have enough money to make a feature-length film, and Northwestern gets put on the back-burner. Continue reading →
Title: Jurassic Park (1993) Runtime: 127 minutes Director: Steven Spielberg
What better way to kick-off the summer blockbuster movie season than by watching one of the best of its kind, Jurassic Park? How about watching it, for the first time, in 3D? Yeah, that will do it.
It has been more than a handful of years since I’ve watched Jurassic Park in full, and this is probably a good thing because I am not sure I would have appreciated this incredible journey in quite the same way as I have now. There is nothing about Jurassic Park that isn’t epic in one sense or another, from the ridiculously good dinosaur effects, to the personal story of survival, to the beautiful cinematography and masterful score by John Williams. Jurassic Park is damn near perfect.
Even though this film is aimed at family viewings, it still manages to make me jump 20 years after its release. The tension that Spielberg is able to create is magnificent, and put me on the edge of my seat. Watching the velociraptors chase down the two youngsters is absolutely awesome, and the unexpected, T-Rex finish is great fun. Continue reading →
Title: The Lords of Salem (2013) Runtime: 101 minutes Director: Rob Zombie
When it comes to a Rob Zombie film, most will either love it or hate it; there’s usually no middle road. He is an acquired taste even by horror standards. I’ve been following The Lords of Salem ever since it was announced and was thrilled to see the first trailer at one of his concerts last year.
Now having seen the movie, all I can think is “that’s it”? It isn’t that Salem is a bad film – it has a lot of strong points – but it definitely misses the mark on several important aspects.
Heidi Hawthorne (Sheri Moon Zombie) works as a DJ at a local rock station. One night she receives a wooden box from “The Lords” which houses a record with a single song. Once Heidi plays the song, she enters a trance-like state and the crazy train takes off from there. Continue reading →
This review was graciously written by Ashe Collins, a video game critic at DieHard GameFAN. You can follow him on twitter @DHGFAshe, or check out his other reviews by clicking here. Look for more guest reviews from Ashe in the coming weeks.
Title: Evil Dead (2013) Runtime: 91 minutes Director: Fede Alvarez
Let me get this out of the way: I am not a fan of the first film, The Evil Dead. I have an appreciation for what they were trying to do with it, but my introduction to the series was Evil Dead 2 late on a Friday night off a pay cable movie channel back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. While it was a bit campy, I was young and it scared the hell out of me. In the later ’90s I’d gone back, after Army of Darkness had been on video for awhile, to watch the first one, and I just couldn’t get into it. All the beats I was looking for had been recapped in the Evil Dead 2 introduction, but with far fewer people and the second film made me care about events more. Evil Dead is a horror classic, I will give it that, but I clung to my copy of the other two in the trilogy. When they announced they were revisiting the first film with an actual budget, all new characters, and a slightly modified plot, I got interested. The goal was to remain in the same vein as the original, but to also let it go its own way a little bit. And while I wasn’t terrified by the new version, it fits in quite nicely with what has come before. The remake takes things more seriously than Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, making me squirm, and I loved it for that. Continue reading →
Title: The Silent House (2011) Director: Gustavo Hernández Runtime: 86 minutes
My favorite cinematic technique has to be the long take. Godard does it beautifully in Breathless, and the opening scene of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil made me want to make movies. My love for the long take is probably due to the fact that my background is in live theatre, which is, in fact, one continuous long take. The idea of a horror film that is shot in one long take was fascinating for me. How could an entire film be done in one take?! Turns out, it wasn’t, and one, fake 86-minute take can get pretty slow.
First, the film was probably shot in numerous 15-20 minute takes, and the editor just made it feel like one take. The screen goes black on multiple occasions, which is exactly where the director must have cut. That’s fine, but it did take me out of the film in the beginning because I was just searching for those moments of cutting. Not the film’s fault, per se, but my own curiosity got the best of me. That said, the movie absolutely feels like it was done in one take, which is quite a feat itself. Continue reading →
Title: Flight (2012) Director: Robert Zemeckis Runtime: 138 minutes
Robert Zemeckis has a knack for making the ordinary – in this case, addiction – larger than life. In this enthralling character study of a pilot addicted to drugs and alcohol, Zemeckis manages to fill every moment with tension and the audience is simply unable to turn away. Flight is a visually arresting film that, once started, demands to be consumed in full.
Denzel Washington received an Oscar nomination for his role as Captain Whip Whitaker, and rightfully so. Whip is about as flawed as they come: he’s addicted to alcohol, and when he wakes up drunk, he does cocaine to make himself “right” again. Oh yeah, and he happens to be a pilot for a major commercial airline company (think Northwest). After a night out with one of his (incredibly gorgeous) stewardesses, Whip takes a line of cocaine, and boards his jumbo jet, filled with over 100 “souls”, as the airline calls them. Just another day for Captain Whip. Continue reading →