Monday, October 20, 2014

31 Days of Halloween 2014: Cabin Fever: Patient Zero

*Note: This year for our annual 31 Days of Halloween marathon of horror movie reviews, rather than write about old favorites, we're focusing on modern horror films that haven't had a wide theatrical release. So for the entire month of October, we will be dealing with horror fare that you can find in the “New Release” section of Netflix or (if you still have one) your local video store. So instead of nostalgic appreciations and recommendations, this promises to be more of a “the good, the bad, and the ugly” kind of affair. Hopefully more good than bad and ugly, but that remains to be seen.

Review by Bob Ignizio

It is by no means a new development that any moderately successful horror movie will beget at least one sequel, probably more. So it should come as no surprise that CABIN FEVER, Eli Roth's 2002 directorial debut, has become a franchise. It should also come as no surprise to anyone familiar with how these things go that the follow-ups lack whatever merits the original film might have had. Even with a gifted director like Ti West at the helm, CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER was all but unwatchable (although to be fair, the producers recut West's film so extensively that he asked to have his name removed, a request that was denied). I don't know if CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO director Kaare Andrews asked to have his name removed as well, but if I were him I probably would have.

Repost: Kuroneko (October 23rd and 24th at the Nightlight Cinema in Akron, OH)

[KURONEKO screens Thursday October 23rd Friday October 24th at 11:30pm at the Nightlight Cinema in Akron, OH.]
Review by Bob Ignizio

Much of the action in KURONEKO takes place in the vicinity of Rajomon gate, perhaps better known by its alternate spelling of Rashomon from the Akira Kurosawa film of the same name, and the short story upon which that film was based. According to Wikipedia, this particular gate had a rather unsavory reputation, and in Kurosawa's film was meant to represent, “the moral and physical decay of Japanese civilization and culture”. That would appear to be the case here, as well.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

31 Days of Halloween 2014: Haunter

*Note: This year for our annual 31 Days of Halloween marathon of horror movie reviews, rather than write about old favorites, we're focusing on modern horror films that haven't had a wide theatrical release. So for the entire month of October, we will be dealing with horror fare that you can find in the “New Release” section of Netflix or (if you still have one) your local video store. So instead of nostalgic appreciations and recommendations, this promises to be more of a “the good, the bad, and the ugly” kind of affair. Hopefully more good than bad and ugly, but that remains to be seen.

Review by Bob Ignizio

HAUNTER is sort of like a cross between GROUNDHOG DAY and THE OTHERS. Ghost girl Lisa Johnson (Abigail Breslin) and the rest of her phantasmal family – dad Bruce (Peter Outerbridge), mom Carole (Michelle Nolden), and little brother Robbie – are stuck reliving the same day in 1985 over and over again. And it's a pretty tiresome day to keep reliving since they can't go anywhere due to the fog surrounding their home and a car that won't start. Still, no one is much bothered by this state of affairs since they don't realize they're stuck in a loop. Once voices from the other side start trying to contact Lisa, though, she becomes aware of her predicament. It doesn't stop the loop, but now there are subtle differences each time she relives the day. Perhaps most notably, a new person becomes a presence in the form of a telephone repairman (Stephen McHattie).

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Book of Life

Review by Bob Ignizio

Produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by Jorge Guitierrez, THE BOOK OF LIFE derives its visual style from Mexican “Day of the Dead” folk art, and it looks beautiful. On top of that, there's a pretty decent story, one that takes the tired old love triangle formula and actually does something a little bit different with it.

The three characters at the center of the plot are childhood friends Manolo (Diego Luna), Maria (Zoe Saldana), and Joaquin (Channing Tatum). It's obvious even when the trio are kids that Manolo and Joaquin both have a crush on Maria, something that does not go unnoticed by underworld rivals Xibalba (Ron Perlman), ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, and La Muerte (Kate del Castillo), ruler of the Land of the Remembered, whom make a wager on which of the boys will eventually win Maria's heart. Xibalba picks the more physical and extroverted Joaquin, while La Muerte puts her faith in sensitive musician Manolo.

Men, Women & Children

Review by Matt Finley

Adapted from a novel by Chad Kultgen, MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN tries to make some sort of statement about the role of technology in our everyday lives. I can't remember angrily swearing under my breath at a film as much as I did during the last third of Jason Reitman's maudlin, self-important slurry of unlikable characters living out broad melodramas in a grim caricature of the digital age. Though imbued with brief moments of impressive filmmaking and fantastic acting, no amount of skill from cast or crew could rescue this movie from the sheer, unapologetic emotional manipulation perpetrated by its screenplay.

Fury

Review by Bob Ignizio

Brad Pitt plays Don “Wardaddy” Collier, Sergeant in charge of the crew on board the eponymous Sherman tank in the WWII drama FURY. He's just lost his bow gunner, and the replacement he's been given is a typist with no battle experience named Norman (Logan Leman). Wardaddy isn't too happy about it, but he has no choice but to get this new member of the team battle hardened as fast as he can with the help of his crew – Boyd "Bible" Swan (Shia LeBouf), Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Pena), and Grady “Coon-ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal) – all of whom have been serving together for years.

Felony (opens today in Cleveland at the Capitol Theatre)

[FELONY opens in Cleveland on Friday October 17th exclusively at the Capitol Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Our sympathies are with Detective Mal Toohey (Joel Edgerton) right off the bat in FELONY, an Australian drama Edgerton also wrote the screenplay for. While chasing a suspect in the film's opening scene, Toohey takes a shot in the stomach. Fortunately he's wearing his bullet proof vest, but he was putting his life on the line for his job nonetheless. While celebrating his survival and a successful bust, Mal has a bit too much to drink. He's a cop, so he gets a pass at a sobriety checkpoint, and besides, he's not really that drunk, right? Drunk enough to sideswipe a 9 year old boy out riding his bike, it turns out.

31 Days of Halloween 2014: The Den

*Note: This year for our annual 31 Days of Halloween marathon of horror movie reviews, rather than write about old favorites, we're focusing on modern horror films that haven't had a wide theatrical release. So for the entire month of October, we will be dealing with horror fare that you can find in the “New Release” section of Netflix or (if you still have one) your local video store. So instead of nostalgic appreciations and recommendations, this promises to be more of a “the good, the bad, and the ugly” kind of affair. Hopefully more good than bad and ugly, but that remains to be seen.

Review by Bob Ignizio

Last year's DISCONNECT worked off the idea that the internet/computers/cell phones and just about any and all other forms of modern technology are bad for humanity as a whole. Today, Jason Reitman's MEN, WOMEN, & CHILDREN opens in theaters dealing with very similar themes. Both films are very earnest in their almost Luddite attempts to instill fear in viewers that email, texting, and social networking are leading humanity straight to Hell. Sounds like a subject better suited to a horror movie.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

31 Days of Halloween 2014: Only Lovers Left Alive

*Note: This year for our annual 31 Days of Halloween marathon of horror movie reviews, rather than write about old favorites, we're focusing on modern horror films that haven't had a wide theatrical release. So for the entire month of October, we will be dealing with horror fare that you can find in the “New Release” section of Netflix or (if you still have one) your local video store. So instead of nostalgic appreciations and recommendations, this promises to be more of a “the good, the bad, and the ugly” kind of affair. Hopefully more good than bad and ugly, but that remains to be seen.

Also, I got a little bit behind on this series, so I'm going the cheap route and reposting a review. Most likely you'll see a couple other reposts until I get caught up. All the reposts will still fit the criteria of being new releases, and at least in this case, warrant additional hyping.

Review by Bob Ignizio

I've gotta' say, I never expected to read an interview with Jim Jarmusch in Fangoria magazine. Nonetheless, the noted indie filmmaker made it into the venerable journal of gory horror films earlier this year thanks to his latest effort, the moody vampire romance ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE. In the piece, Jarmusch showed himself far better versed in the horror genre, particularly as it pertains to bloodsuckers, than most of the hacks who wind up helming Hollywood fright flicks these days. He even mentioned French director Jean Rollin, whose singular vamp films mixed erotica, psychedelia, and a certain kind of dreamlike romanticism, which immediately upped my level of interest in the film. And he wasn't just whistling "Dixie", as even the poster art for LOVERS recalls Rollin's work.

31 Days of Halloween 2014: Serial Killer Culture

*Note: This year for our annual 31 Days of Halloween marathon of horror movie reviews, rather than write about old favorites, we're focusing on modern horror films that haven't had a wide theatrical release. So for the entire month of October, we will be dealing with horror fare that you can find in the “New Release” section of Netflix or (if you still have one) your local video store. So instead of nostalgic appreciations and recommendations, this promises to be more of a “the good, the bad, and the ugly” kind of affair. Hopefully more good than bad and ugly, but that remains to be seen.

Review by Bob Ignizio

Some people just can't seem to get enough of serial killers. And not just the witty, fictional ones like Hannibal Lecter and Dexter, either. There are plenty of folks out there who are fascinated for varying reasons with real life murderers. For the most part this fascination goes only as far as watching reality shows or reading true crime books. For others, it extends to collecting “muderabilia” or producing creative works about these real life monsters. It is this latter group that John Borowski's documentary SERIAL KILLER CULTURE concerns itself with.