Roman starts with a guy welding at steel mill then coming home, lighting up a cigarette and watching for the girl next door at his window. It’s awkward and creepy with a very indie feel to it, setting the tone for what’s to come.
Roman doesn’t have a television, so his room is set up around that window – his chair and table facing it where he can stay here and watch for the girl next door come out. It’s unnerving and we see how awkward he is, and for the life of me I can’t imagine how they’re going to squeeze 90 minutes out of this.
He dreams of her, dancing nude and backlit against random sets of images – in working, eating, flowers and sparks.
The guys at work make fun of him for not having a television, so he draws one on the wall and pretends to watch it – the girls voice coming from it.
Everything changes when he meets a real woman, as he hangs out on the top of his apartment building roof drinking beer – he is surprisingly articulate for such an introvert, but awkward as it is, it’s a charming interaction and now she knows him. A co-worker gives him an old black-and-white TV and he talks the girl over for drinks. This could almost be a romance, at this point… Which is how you know everything is about to go wrong.
Now, he has a secret – and when the next girl comes knocking at his door, it becomes a problem, fueled by his awkwardness and inability to know how to act with other people. (and you know, for being such a social misfit, he sure does attract the cutest women).
There is a lot to love here, from the chilli dogs at the cemetery, to the porn loving superintendent to the beers and holding hands with the severed palm. The movies strangely engrossing and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Even being crazy, I really want things to work out for Roman – the closest thing I can compare it to is Adam Green’s Spiral, A similarly awkward head trip with a gawky dude and a cute girl and a dark twist.
Star Lucky McKey would go on to make some of modern horrors more disturbing thrillers such as May and The Woman. This is an interesting project to watch with him, especially seeing him as an actor instead of a director. It’s definitely a high recommend, with an ending I did not see coming, and makes this box set with the purchase price just for this film alone.
Every Wednesday and Friday
Every Wednesday and Friday
I can’t believe that Bloody Murder starts off with the old running out of gas gag, but it sure does… It starts right off on a good note though, – the husband walks over to a darkened van to ask for a lift to get some gas… Out of the van steps our killer complete with hockey mask and chainsaw, and a chase ensues!
It’s actually just a fantasy, as a couple of new camp counselors talk over the urban legend of Trevor Moorehouse, the area’s local bogeyman, but it’s still a good start.
We get a pleasant 10 minutes of getting to know you fare, complete with a doomsayer in the woods and a fake out with one of the boys peeking into the girls dorm while wearing a hockey mask.
The title of the film comes from a game that the campers play where one person hides in the words, and then tries to tag the others as they separate to search for him. The game is called bloody murder, it is pretty much the best scenario ever for a campfire serial killer. The woods are filmed beautifully, well lit so you can see the green in the trees, with blue mist Low to the ground, contrasting the dark and cloudless night sky. It’s here that we get our second fakeout, ketchup blood on the shirt and our counterfeit mask scaring one of the campers.
Elsewhere in the woods, we hit all the slasher trope checklists – one girl smokes weed, another couple gets naked. The filmmakers definitely did their research on the formula, but let us down a little bit because the first murder happens off screen. The missing counselor is noticed the next day, but people blow it off as him just abandoning the camp and taking off on the road. 23 minutes in is way too early to start panicking , after all.
That night, or killer infiltrates the camp and we get an eerie moment when one of the campers notices a knife missing, just before it used to slash her to death. Ritz crackers in highly reflective blood is a nice artistic touch. The head counselor decides it’s to time to call the sheriff in. The sheriff is understandably skeptical, even moreso when the Trevor Moorehouse urban legend is mentioned. One of the campers has his own theory on how the second murder happened, and that’s an interesting addition to the formula, but ultimately a misdirect.
We get another long talky stretch, where we repeatedly reference the legend of Trevor Moorehouse but don’t actually add anything to the story. When the killer appears there are a lot of shots of shoulders and hands, a sort of giallo feel like we got in the first Friday the 13th, which is weird because we’ve already seen this character is hockey mask. Still, the next kill serves exonerate our first suspect, he was in police custody at the time – now suspicion falls on the first camper killed, after all he is missing!
Our next appearance of the killer has him chasing the engineer across the field in broad daylight Before slicing the throat of one of our other unhappy campers. It’s genuinely surprising how much of this film occurs in broad daylight, but fortunately the powder blue jumpsuit and edgy hockey mask look pretty good in full light.
Slowly, our ingenue discovers the camps terrible secret – a young man named Nelson Hammond went mad and committed murder there decades ago… Back when her father was a camp counselor there.
Later that night she’s startled by her ex-boyfriend Jason, the guy we thought was the first murder back at the beginning! Since he is the murder suspect, he’s taken into custody, but there is still half an hour left so we know this ain’t over yet…
Using a photograph she found in a hidden cabin, Julie the ingenue discovers the identity of the killer and it’s not who you would expect. Or maybe it is, this thing manages enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. I actually really dig this – it has all of the bits and cues of Friday the 13th movie, but manages a twist at the end that generally satisfies me. Even with that knowledge, it’s still a nice average slasher with everything you could possibly expect from the genre.
But what about the sequels?
Man, that hiatus did NO one any favors. I completely missed that Flash was back for two weeks before my friend Bobbi mentioned to me that she had two episodes on her DVR, and it wasn’t until my friend Vanessa asked a question about the proximity of Smallville to Metropolis that I remembered that Superman and Lois was back on last week. I’m not the only one. the ratings dropped by about 30% and that’s a shame, because Superman and Lois is one of the best things on television right now.
Look, you can tell it’s superior writing when you can actually make me care about the events of a football game.
The episode smartly starts off with a nice action shot piece, and superman being more powerful than a locomotive. In fact, I felt like we got just a bit more in-costume Superman this episode then we have previously, and I’m really enjoying that. Nevertheless, this really is a family show, and the dynamics of the kids are every bit as important.
We’re still watching Jordan trying to figure out the limits of his powers and how to control them.It’s interesting to see his reaction to them, and his new drive to try and fit in on the football team, but it’s equally interesting to watch Jonathan as he tries to balance high school, and being a supportive big brother, despite the fact that it feels like he’s almost beginning to fall in Jordan’s shadow. In the middle of it all, is Clark, doing his best to shepherd his son through unknown waters (There’s an uncontrollable heat vision moment in this episode – Clark runs to Jordan’s rescue to help as he can’t hold it in. One arm around his shoulders and a hand in front of his eyes – “Let it out”. The moment just kills me it’s so good). We always knew that Superman would be a good father, and watching him deal with young super boy during the rebirth era of the Superman comics, it felt natural. But that was easy. That version of Jonathan was not quite old enough to join the Teen Titans, and still at an age where children listen to their parents. With these 15-year-olds, things are a touch more complicated… especially since they didn’t grow up knowing that Clark was Superman. This is truly, “Superman as you’ve never seen him before”.
Normally when we hear that description, it means the character is going to go dark, or evil, or greedy… Or emotionally shattered… and the truth is, it never works. It never works because we have in fact, seen it before, and the moment you go down those paths, Clark ceases to be Superman. This on the other hand, allows him to be emotionally vulnerable in the most aspirational way possible. It allows him some self doubt, then shows him rising above it, reminding us that bravery isn’t the absence of fear… It’s acting despite that fear.
Aspirational…..and isn’t that what Superman is really all about in the first place?
This is tough stuff to write. I can’t praise it enough, and I want as many eyes on the show as possible, because it deserves it. This is not the cookie-cutter CW formula, and it’s the best superman we’ve had on any screen since the Justice League cartoon ended. When the episode ended, I literally sat back in my chair and turned off my television, because anything else I watched that night would be a step down. (I’d get to The Flash a day or so later)
The Flash continues to be solid. I know I say that every week, but it bears repeating. The hiatus may have worked in it’s favor, because I had to watch two episodes back to back to catch up. One great one, and then one filler one. Still, the story arc that they are establishing now, with the Flash shutting down these different element infused people that the speed force wants to absorb (at least, I think that’s what’s going on. the technobabble in the Flash is not for the faint of heart), it’s actually an interesting take. I almost feel like I’m watching The Flash do its own version of the war of light storyline from the Green Lantern comics. It’s been engaging and we’re seeing some interesting relationships develop. It manages to feel fresh. The speed-force-as-Barry’s-mother was starting to get a little old, and all of a sudden, they changed things up with a twist and pushed the arc further… It works. It really does.
I keep reading articles about how The Flash has become terrible and the arrowverse needs to end. Anyone who is telling you that is an actually watching the show. It’s still good superhero adventures with familiar faces weekend and week out.
The problem with good, is that it isn’t great. And I’ll admit this is not the great show that overcame my initial objections and won my heart in the first couple of seasons. It’s a different television landscape today though as well. When Arrow and The Flash first showed up, We weren’t really seeing superheroes on TV. Especially superheroes in costumes that actually resemble their comic book counterparts. (Even Marvel was hesitant with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D).… We didn’t see too many comic book accurate looking characters in there until well into that series run) We were grateful just for their existence, and overlooked some of the flaws… Like the-attractive-people-standing-in-hallways-talking-about-their-feelings moments. Since then, we’ve started to see other television take superheroes and go more serious; things like the Netflix Daredevil and Punisher and Defenders. Then Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing and even The Boys showed us that we could go serious and even gritty with these characters, yet still maintain their look and identity. It’s a different world, and sometimes the CW shows that have been around for a while begin to suffer from comparison and adherence to a model that compromises CW aesthetics with superhero action. That doesn’t make it bad though, and I’m still judging the flash strictly on its own merits. It’s still on my must see list every week, and you should do yourself a favor and check it out if you’ve dropped it. Superman and The Flash make Tuesday nights a much better place.
Every Wednesday and Friday
A large full body suit made mostly of expanding foam, Slimer is an old favorite. You can almost see how Captain Marvel might mistake him for a Skrull….
Every Wednesday and Friday
You know, in general I’m not a big fan of revenge films and I’m not even that into car movies. But something about this film obsesses me. You kind of got to hand it to Drive Angry – opening with a car racing through the hellscape and crossing the lane change to bridges, and let you know right away this isn’t going to just be a Fast and Furious rip-off…
Back on the more familiar streets of Earth we see Nick Cage run down a truck and execute the occupants with a shot gun as he grabs the information he needs.
We transition over to a diner in the middle of nowhere where Amber Heard character of Piper is being harassed by her boss. Nicholas Cage’s Milton sits in the corner and drinks coffee flirts with her partner. Pipers had enough of the boss and quits, racing off in her dodge Charger. Milton catches up with her and bums a ride. Across the bridge a ways, William Fitchner’s character, the accountant, arrives to begin his hunt for Milton.
Back at her home, Piper drops off Milton and walks and find her boyfriend boinking someone else. It’s just an excuse to get Tom Farmer, the writer, naked (It’s a goofy cameo much like My Bloody Valentine). Farmer’s character starts to get rough with Piper and Milton comes back to intervene. He and Piper take off into the night. While they hunker down for the evening in a cheap hotel and bar, the accountant has a visit to Todd Farmer to try and pick up Milton’s trail. It’s a good excuse for some nice, bloody violence. The accountant, posing as an FBI agent, appropriates the local cops to go find Milton.
It turns out that the accountant isn’t the only one looking for Milton – cult leader Jonah King is also searching for him. That’s a good thing, because Milton is looking for King as well. King gathers together a group of men to ambush Milton in his hotel room, which leads us to what maybe cinemas first and hopefully only nookie and whisky gunfight. We’ll leave it at that. The cops arrive with the accountant, making things more complicated. Milton escapes again to hunt down King. The Accountant gives chase but Milton still manages to elude him.
Along the way, he takes the opportunity to explain the plot to Piper – His daughter fell in with Kings cult and now he has taken off with her baby. That’s why Milton is after King.
In the meantime, All that gun fire has attracted the attention of the local police, led by the redoubtable Tom Atkins. They’re out to get them and have no intention of trying to take Milton alive.
The King is not too keen on not being taken alive either. An ambush leaves Milton shot and Piper kidnapped, but not for long. A high-speed chase ensues as Piper goes fisticuffs with King inside his campervan. She leaps free, exiting the campervan and gliding through the open front window of Milton’s car. That’s enough for the car though – it breaks down, so it’s time for a pitstop with one of Miltons old allies. After a little bit more exposition, he borrows a car and they race their way into the third act. What they don’t realize is that there is a police blockade waiting for them, a trap that’s been arranged by King.
That’s about the time that the accountant shows up again in a large tanker truck which clears the police blockade on his way to try and grab Milton. Milton and Piper take advantage of it and race past him towards their final showdown with King.
One of the reasons I particularly love this movie is because this is really the perfect (though unofficial) third entry in the Ghost Rider trilogy.
Stay with me on this.
Cage is playing a post-Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze. He really is, it feels like the “Spirits of Vengance” era Blaze from the 90’s comics. No longer cursed, but still damned. We don’t need Ghost Rider or even a motor cycle, because this closes his story arc perfectly. In fact, it’s possibly the best of the Ghost Rider films. Pity it isn’t really one of them. I spoke to Todd Farmer about this and while it wasn’t intentional, he told me I’m not the first to have this observation.
I’ve never understood the disdain for this film. It’s an over the top comic book action movie and I still love it.
Every Wednesday and Friday
Every Wednesday and Friday
Without even looking at the credits, I knew that with a name like paranormal entity this would bean Asylum film. It opens with the 911 call “they’re all dead! My sister is dead! “, before switching to a handheld camera. We get the premise that they were advised to set up cameras in the house to capture the activity, and then cut back to a black screen that gives us a Blair witch type description; This footage was down in their attic a year later, et cetera, et cetera
Back to the handhelds as the narrator introduces us to where the cameras are supposedly placed in the house. It’s a kind of smart idea to give us an idea of what the space looks like and feels like, before we plunged too far into this story. They tried to inject some creepiness right away by introducing us to the slightly catatonic mother – staring at an old stuffed animal. We get a placard telling us that it’s “night one” and start watching footage that has been tinted green to look like nightvision. We go back and forth between this and and daytime footage of annoyed characters who don’t seem too pleased to see the camera. They talk about who they think might be in the house… or might be haunting it, and slowly e to things start to happen – a glass breaks, the television turns on, and a cross falls off the wall – at this point you can tell it’s going to be a slow burner. We get a peek inside the diary, with a plea for God to help the writer. They also sneak in what is meant to be a creepy sketch along with the question “why am I seeing this?”.
Sleepwalking begins at night three around 25 minutes in – and ominous message is written onto a glass coffee table. Around the same time, the wife starts talking about her feelings that something is there – something in the room with her when she goes to sleep, something pressing down on her and trapping her.
As we go further into the film, it stumbles into the typical pitfalls of a found footage haunting film – phenomena and that largely unseen or unremarkable, sounds in darkness that come off as stagehands banging on the walls of screen or actors simply screaming because it’s in the script. Even when they come up with a clever idea like footprints on the ceiling (and ultimately, where they come from), it’s undermined by immediately transitioning over to the mundane stuff like doors slamming and televisions turning on. They fail to reinforce those things with even creepier images . Moreover, the shaky cam work is haphazard and unfocused – even found footage works better when you storyboard and plan your shots. Someone had the beginnings of an idea here, and there are a couple of fun moments – such as when the mother and wife run off and discover the ghost has followed them, or when we get the revelation of where the footprints come from, there’s even one haunting that where the hits come fast and loud enough to keep you off balance, but not enough for a complete movie – There is a good way of making these kind of films, but this isn’t it.
This film maybe okay if you’re in the mood to do a found footage marathon with a bunch of different indie films or burning through a box set collection like this, but it certainly wouldn’t be the centerpiece and isn’t worth going out of your way for.
Every Wednesday and Friday
Live animals starts with the radio report of a missing girl in a rural area as a rancher picks up the feed for his animals. We shift to young people at a bonfire, somebody cloaked in darkness taking photos of them from the car. As the couples break apart from the group to go get busy, we see hands grabbing equipment – a gun, drug darts and needles – and a creepy rubber mask… Oh I’m so happy! These kind of movies are always more interesting when we have a creepy masked killer rather than just some dude walking around with an axe or something! The night atmosphere is beautifully lit, dark with just enough light to make out characters and details but will be enough to create dread. Despite the gun, the killer has the rough and deliberate movement that you see in Jason Vorhees. His murderous rampage makes for a surprisingly long opening sequence, eating up well over 15 minutes at the beginning of this 84 minute film.
Things don’t let up though, we had back to the psycho’s place to find people chained up in the stable. He announces that they are all his property now, and that just like a horse, they need to be… broken. We spent the next 20 minutes watching them be tortured and abused, and then a car pulls up to the stable; A prospective buyer. The unlucky girl chosen, is created up in a wooden box and shipped out.
Overall, live animals is standard torture porn fair, a little on the light side when it comes to gore (with the exception of a couple of scenes towards the very end). I suppose I should be grateful that the rapey parts are merely suggested, but all in all the films a drag and I’m not digging this one. I ended up watching the last third of this on fast forward because there’s not really enough dialogue to make a difference. Indeed, I almost wonder if this was a case of the filmmakers having a location – the stable – and then because they have a location they build a story around it . I almost wonder if this would’ve been better off as a short, there doesn’t feel like there’s enough for to really be a full feature. In any event, it really doesn’t work for me – even with the attempt at a slight twist ending . It may be the first real misfire in this set. Not a big recommend.
Every Wednesday and Friday
The first thing I noticed about prophecy five is that the runtime is only about 75 minutes – and they waste the first three of those with flashbacks from the previous film. Still, I noticed that Tony Todd will be in this one, so I’m hoping it’ll be cool.
It looks like he’s an Angel this time, hiring a hitman to go after Kari Whurer, the current guardian of the prophet’s lexicon. The long black angel cloak gives him a very candyman vibe – which I have no doubt is intentional. Because he’s an angel, Todd, can’t get his hands dirty, but his assassin, Dylan, for him, the dirtier, the better. Angel John is back at the beginning here as well, delivering Wuhrer a message through a dead girl.
Our hitman Dylan is quite intense, loading his guns and prepping his gear, he obviously doesn’t want to work for Todd, even committing suicide to try and escape. But the angel bring some back, and now, with a vision of hell in his mind, the hitman is more bound to the angel than ever. We cut to Kari’s apartment, where Dylan has very suddenly arrived, threatening her as he searches for the Prophet’s Lexicon. Wuhrer assures him that he won’t find it if she’s dead.
His hitman turns on him, and he whisks Kari away. it’s an attack of conscience that transformed him into her protector. In the meantime, Todd’s Angel finds her apartment and searches for the book – he finds the hiding place almost immediately, hidden behind a layer of drywall, but the book stash there is merely a dummy copy, and the chase is onin the warm orange tones of Bucharest.
Everyone drives such small cars!
Dylan makes a quick stop to find iron pills that will alter the smell of Kari’s blood (making it harder for the Angels to hunt her), and a new dress, complete with a wig to throw everyone else off. (better to look like a cheap hooker I guess then be angel fodder). He explains that there’s a chance he can still denfend her and hurt the angels stalking them if he can squeeze off a good kill shot… Right through the third eye.
“The one you use to see God.”
It’s interesting to turn this into something more like a road film, along with a dash of paranoia – we are constantly looking around to try and figure out if the people on the street are angels or not. We get a cameo appearance from the angel from the previous installment, as Kari goes to investigate what the Prophet’s Lexicon actually is. Even disguised, The other angels are onto her, Curiously enough, they don’t seem to have the supernatural speed that I’m used to seeing from the first three installments- More evidence to me that this is a completely separate tangent.
It doesn’t stop them from being creepy and intimidating. Tony Todd in particular is perfect for this sort of role, and every time he’s on screen he elevates the film with that deep, true voice of his. He truly exudes the sense of superiority that has always been insinuated with these creatures.
Wuhrer heads back to the mansion from the previous film, looking for more information. There she finds Angel John lurking in the darkness. He explains some of the theory (such as Angels being bound by rules) as well as some of the plot in case you may have missed the previous film… all while devouring a Twinkie.
“I have a weakness for these.”
“Maybe it’s the angel food cake?”
Well Kari hides in a funeral procession, Todd tortures Dylan, attempting to drive him back to his cause. He’s valuable because Wuhrer trusts him now and he can get close to her. A storm rages outside the small church Wuhrer has taken shelter in. Lightning flashes, thunder rumbles, wind blows out the candles and then… there’s the dead girl. Standing before her. She tells Wuhrer that she died for her, so that she could use her funeral to escape the angels but now she has to wait in the cold ground, because the bad angels won’t let her into heaven. She implores Wuhrer not to give them the book… even if they tear her apart. Once again, I feel more Hellraiser vibes off of this than I do The Prophecy, not that I’m complaining. As soon as the ghost vanishes, Assassin Dylan arrives. Outside, the angel start to gather, and Dylan betrays her, leading her out and into their clutches. Wuhrer is now face-to-face with angel Todd, while Dylan goes off to try and drink his guilt away.
The problem is, the rules come in to play. Todd can’t kill Kari, and he can’t drive the information out of her, so he lets her go…
Wuhrer just sort of wanders into the next scene, it’s a clunky transition to a park where she spends some time talking to Angel John. Kari is conflicted – because Todd’s Angel wants to prevent Armageddon, where as Angel John wants to start it. It’s hard for her to pick a side and that internal conflict takes center stage in this installment. She makes a decision to head off and retrieve the profits lexicon from its hiding place, but Angel Todd and assassin Dylan are right on her heels.
I’ve got to admit, the film has an ending that I did not see coming – and yet it’s completely satisfying. Four and five together make a really fun narrative and create their own little series within a series – it’s very strange, but I dig it. Again I feel the need to mention this doesn’t feel like the first Prophecy, it doesn’t feel like that first trilogy – it shares some of the same DNA but it’s definitely it’s own thing… and that thing isn’t bad. I’m probably more likely to watch four and five again then I am to ever crack out one through three.