Friday, April 28, 2017

Popcorn Kernels: Cravin' Wes

As we approach the end of my long-running quest to watch every film ever directed by Wes Craven (only 4 TV movies to go!), let’s explore two interesting little scraps of his career: the final theatrical film I had yet to see, and the one porn film we’re pretty much 100% certain he directed, during his time working in New York in the sleazy 70’s.

Vampire in Brooklyn

Year: 1995
Director: Wes Craven
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, Allen Payne 
Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

An ancient Caribbean vampire arrives in modern New York City to seduce a lovely cop on the mean streets of Brooklyn.

1995 found Wes Craven in a very strange place. Just a year earlier he had created his latest masterpiece, New Nightmare, to very little fanfare. As much as that film proved he still had the capacity for intelligent, engaging horror, he was still chafing against he constraints of the genre, which hadn’t afforded him a truly sizeable hit in over a decade. So when he learned that superstar funnyman Eddie Murphy wanted to work with him, he leapt at the opportunity. Unfortunately, as it often happened for Craven, he found himself in yet another behind-the-scenes straitjacket.

While Craven assumed he’d be making a comedy, Murphy insisted he wanted to make a straight horror picture. Both men wanted to break free from their typecast genre, but the star’s wishes carried more weight with the studio. Thus we get another film that feels like a tug of war between two entirely opposite sensibilities. However, unlike the equally uneven Deadly Friend, Vampire in Brooklyn pulls together into something more or less amusing, even if it makes next to no sense as it goes along (something which is patently not improved by Murphy’s Blade Runner voiceover that runs through the whole thing like a rusty monorail).

The horror elements are passable, but they’re attempting to resurrect a stately, classic gothic feel that has never made a dent on my nerves in the first place, and they’re intermittently successful. What really saves this film, and I’m a teensy bit loathe to admit it, is its admirably goofy sense of humor. While it undercuts the horror at every turn, that horror wasn’t particularly strong to begin with. Hell, the climax, which I solely horror, is an interminable slog in spite of Murphy’s surprisingly subdued performance and convincing chemistry with the devastatingly sexy Angela Bassett.

No, with Vampire in Brooklyn, the goofier it gets, the better it is. OK, there may be some indefensible scenes that have Murphy Klumping it up in various silly costumes, but the movie frequently hits a register that evokes classic Blaxploitation by way of a Sam Raimi splatter flick. This is most evident in the gleefully gross performance by Kadeem Hardison as Julius Jones, a dock-worker turned ghoulish assistant. As his body rots due to the vampire’s magic, parts of him fall off at very inopportune moments. It’s a very juvenile, Monty Python Black Knight style of body horror slapstick, but especially when he’s paying off John Witherspoon as his grouchy landlord, it’s downright hilarious. A lot of these funny scenes (especially any with the Italian mobsters infesting the town) are pitched at a very high register, but Craven embraces his camp sensibilities and thus allows it to flourish.

Vampire in Brooklyn is no masterpiece, but it’s a diverting way to spend 95 minutes. Almost any other Craven film is a more worthwhile watch, but this one certainly has its cheesy charms.

Rating: 6/10

The Fireworks Woman

Year: 1975
Director: Abe Snake
Cast: Jennifer Jordan, Helen Madigan, Erica Eaton 
Run Time: 1 hour 13 minutes
MPAA Rating: X

A young woman with the possibly supernatural power to ignite lust in those around her pursues an ex-flame who’s a priest… and her brother.

Now, just to reassure any lawyers who happen to have stumbled across this blog, it has not been conclusively proven that Wes Craven directed this pornographic film, though it is known he spent years in the New York porn industry as an editor and producer. The film is officially credited as being written and directed by Abe Snake (and co-written by Hørst Badörties, which I suspect is a pseudonym for the Swedish Chef), but any scholar of Craven could tell you instantly that his fingerprints are all over the project.

For one thing, Wes Craven literally plays a character in the movie: the mysterious Fireworks Man who may or may not be the Devil. It’s kinda hard to deny your involvement when you face is on celluloid, beard or no beard. But even if his literal face was nowhere to be seen, his spirit thrums through the entire story, which chews on a lot of the favorite themes that he would return to over and over again throughout his career: repression of desire leading to violence, the potency of dreams (especially nightmares), the oppressive and hypocritical nature of the church, and the dark side of the suburban family unit.

The entire DNA of his career, from Nightmare on Elm Street to The People Under the Stairs, to My Soul to Take, is present in a film where a woman makes love to her brother with Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” playing in the background. What a trajectory! Being a porno movie, the plot is understandably rather repetitive, but he fact that it has themes worth mentioning at all speaks to Craven’s irrepressible intelligence.

That said, I can’t understand why any self-respecting heterosexual would find the film particularly erotic. A massively uncomfortable rape scene is shoehorned in (though, true to Craven’s ever-goofy form, in the same scene a man is hit over the head with a giant fish), and most of the consensual sex is underscored by tittering, nightmarish Insidious music. It actually kinds works as a horror film, melding woozy dream imagery and penetrative sex in a beautifully eerie fantasia.

Let’s not kid ourselves that The Fireworks Woman is worth seeing by anyone but the most institutionally insane Craven fan, but speaking as one of those, it was certainly an interesting insight into a burgeoning creative mind stripped of all propriety.

Rating: 5/10
Word Count: 1032

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Census Bloodbath: You've Got A Friend In Me

Year: 1986
Director: Wes Craven
Cast: Matthew Labyorteaux, Kristy Swanson, Michael Sharrett 
Run Time: 1 hour 31 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

At first, I didn’t include Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend on my list of flicks to watch for Census Bloodbath. It certainly seemed to have elements of a slasher film, but from the descriptions I read, it seemed too on the fringe to really count. Well, now that I’ve seen it, I know that that’s just it’s nature. It’s on the fringe of almost every genre that’s ever existed, being as it is a 6-car pileup between Weird Science, Doogie Howser M.D., The Last House on the Left, Gremlins, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. So I might as well throw it in. You know I love me some Wes Craven, and this is our last chance to include him in this project.

And at the very least it has a higher body count than Road Games.

In Deadly Friend, Paul Conway (Matthew Labyorteaux) is new in town, having moved to be a guest lecturer and student at the local college, even though he’s only supposed to be in 10th grade. You see, he’s one of them 80’s Teen Supergeniuses™, and he has created an artificially intelligent robot named BB who babbles incessantly like a Mogwai and is essentially a member of the family (funnily enough, an original title for this movie was going to be A.I.). For about half an hour, it’s basically a five pound Disney Channel Original Movie stuffed with ten pounds of 80’s teen movie tropes (the reclusive old lady next door, the herniated cuteness of BB, the preposterously evil bully roaming the streets… I could go on for hours).

Then the Craven kicks in (as does the studio interference, forcing the teen romp into a more hardcore horror framework that would allegedly appeal to Elm Street fans). Sam is killed by her abusive alcoholic father, so Paul implants her brain with BB’s chip to bring her back to life, whereupon she goes rogue and begins summarily murdering pretty much everyone in town who has crossed BB in some way.

Literally all of whom appear in the same, brutally efficient exposition scene.

Deadly Friend is certainly not Wes Craven’s worst film, but it’s probably his most inconsistent. Even more than Shocker, which must have taken a Herculean effort. It was one of his earliest attempts to break away from the horror genre, and clearly two hits a decade apart didn’t gather enough steam to allow him to break that barrier. Deadly Friend runs face-first into that barrier and crashes to the ground in a pile of broken springs and frayed wiring.

However, though the individual parts never ever ever congeal into something resembling a coherent whole, some of them are pretty damn solid. Two nightmare sequences that were shoehorned in during reshoots showcase Craven at the top of his game, creating genuinely disturbing, uncanny imagery by blending the underlying themes of the story with a bloody, phantasmagoric atmosphere. They have jack-all to do with the plot, but if I had to choose between a mediocre 80’s movie or a mediocre 80’s movie where an abusive father is stabbed with the stem of a vase and spurts blood all over his daughter’s face, I would choose the latter ten times out of ten.

Unfortunately, these are the only remotely scary or affecting scenes in the entire film. The resurrected Robo-Sam gets to perpetrate a fun kill (most of the deaths are dishwater dull, but one briefly transforms the movie into a cavorting Evil Dead nightmare – more on that later), but Kristy Swanson doing the robot doesn’t exactly make for an iconic movie villain.

She definitely doesn’t get to sit at Freddy and Jason’s table in the lunchroom.

There are also a couple sequence that take a stab at family comedy and actually draw blood. A well-timed exterior shot echoes a similar scene from Elm Street but with an added punchline, and a scene where Paul slips his mom a mickey is twisted and hilarious in the way that only 80’s teen movies could be.

And there really is a strong chemistry between Paul and his paperboy friend/accomplice Tom (Michael Sharrett, who looks like a young Zac Efron if he’d eaten a bagel at any point in his life). Their Ferris-Cameron relationship is well-realized and dynamic. It’s a little bit harder to buy their friendship with Sam, but there’s a warmth on the screen that carries the film a long way.

Unfortunately, none of this comes together into a plot that has any real meaning or even a particularly legible storyline. It’s a half-assed attempt to be a Frankenstein tale for the John Hughes set, and its dismemberment by the studio renders it totally out of control. I’m not saying it would have been a masterpiece if Craven had had final cut, but it certainly wouldn’t be so damn sloppy.

The tone whips from fluffy 80’s cheeseball to slimy domestic terror way too fast, characters vanish from the film for unforgivably huge chunks, and the resolution is both astoundingly dour and irritatingly idiotic. While there are some delicious courses in this cinematic meal, it’s hard to enjoy your filet mignon when someone is pelting you with black licorice and lima beans the entire time.

Killer: Robo-Sam (Kristy Swanson)
Final Girl: Paul Conway (Matthew Labyorteaux)
Best Kill: As immortalized by YouTube, Kristy Swanson uses a basketball to explode an old lady’s head.

Sign of the Times: Paul’s room is decorated with a portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven… and a Bruce Springsteen poster.
Scariest Moment: Take your pick of the two flatly horrifying dream sequences.
Weirdest Moment: When the credits roll, they’re accompanied by a song that may or may not have been performed by BB the robot.
Champion Dialogue: “Sometimes I wanna roll a truck over his face.”
Body Count: 4
  1. Sam’s Dad is burned against a boiler and has his neck snapped.
  2. Elvira Parker gets her head exploded with a basketball.
  3. Bully is thrown through a car windshield.
  4. Sam is shot.
TL;DR: It’s a shambles, though at the very least it’s a diverting one.
Rating: 5/10
Word Count: 1035

Monday, April 24, 2017

From Whence We Came

Year: 2012
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender 
Run Time: 2 hours 4 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

This damn Alien franchise just refuses to end! I know it’s still shorter than most of the marathons I do, but damn has it been an excruciating stretch between Aliens and now. This is a marathon where I really had to lean on my completist instincts as a crutch, otherwise I might have abandoned it long before a single Predator came into the picture.

It’s unbelievable that the five short years separating the Alien pseudo-prequel Prometheus from Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem were enough to revive any sort of public interest in the franchise, but the return of original director Ridley Scott seemed to have been the spoonful of sugar that lured butts to the seats. I have my doubts about the man’s consistency (never forget the dude directed Exodus: Gods and Kings no more than 3 years ago), but Prometheus is at the very least enough to get me tentatively excited about the upcoming Alien: Covenant, a feat I wouldn’t have thought humanly possible.

Even I, a staunch sequel advocate, find it hard to justify keeping this franchise on life support.

Anyway, Prometheus is set in the late 21st century, following a scientific expedition to a far-off moon that may be the location of a settlement created by the Engineers, a race of giant albino aliens that created humanity. Exactly how or why humanity has come to this conclusion is beyond me, but anthropologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) are leading the expedition from the starship Prometheus, funded by a generous grant from the late business mogul Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce in utterly tacky old age make-up).

The crew includes the ship’s captain Janek (Idris Elba), the stern corporate representative Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), the bumbling scientific duo Fifield (Sean Harris) and Milburn (Rafe Spall), and the humanoid synthetic David (Michael Fassbender), who – like all androids in this franchise – may not be entirely trustworthy.

His trustworthiness is inversely proportional to his beauty.

Prometheus is not a masterpiece. Heck, it might not even be a great film. But it’s so much closer to the tone and spirit of the original Alien than the half-dozen films that came before it that it’s a real breath of fresh air. Here is the sense of sweeping sci-fi grandeur that doesn’t undercut the claustrophobia of the main narrative. There are the irresistible jabs toward visceral, exploitative horror nestled in the stately cinematic atmosphere. It’s a Ridley Scott Alien picture through and through, and that is a good thing.

Frankly, Prometheus is a beautiful piece of work. The production design is a spectacular expanse of organically inhuman architecture and sweeping spacecraft curves that imply a world that’s itching to become the one we see in Alien, set centuries of technological development later. It’s a beautiful dollop of sci-fi blockbuster filmmaking.

There’s just one thing it isn't very good at: being a prequel to Alien. And I’m no whiny fanboy complaining that nobody on this crew was named Ripley. Fundamentally, Prometheus is on a completely different thematic journey than any other Alien flick, as varied as they all have been. This film, as scripted by Jon Spaihts and Lost’s Damon Lindelof (ah, there’s the rub), takes a decidedly philosophical tack, exploring the meaning of the creation of life. It chews on this theme in scene after scene, eventually spitting it out when it becomes too tough to swallow and throwing in a big ol’ monster instead.

Which, honestly, I prefer.

Prometheus just doesn’t seem to have any clue what it’s about, other than the occasional spot of sci-fi mayhem. The inception of the Xenomorph is a mere afterthought, and the creation plot line fails to gel with anything in its own movie, let alone the whole franchise. Oh, but that sci-fi mayhem is pretty incredible.

Although the film’s zombie element is one of its farthest diversions from the franchise it’s attempting to resurrect, it’s still visually and viscerally stimulating, and a late scene in a surgical pod is beyond reproach as a sublime nugget of grotesquery.

It’s a beautiful movie that allows ugliness and horror to penetrate deep into its being, and that’s exactly what an Alien movie should be, space albinos or no space albinos. It thinks it’s far more intelligent than it really is, but at the very least it’s light years better than everything we’ve had to wallow through since Aliens, 26 long years before.

TL;DR: Prometheus is an excellently crafted sci-fi thriller.
Rating: 7/10
Word Count: 768
Reviews In This Series
Alien (Scott, 1979)
Aliens (Cameron, 1986)
Alien 3 (Fincher, 1992)
Alien: Resurrection (Jeunet, 1997)
AvP: Alien vs. Predator (Anderson, 2004)
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (Strause & Strause, 2007)
Prometheus (Scott, 2012)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Popcorn Kernels: Double Crossover

In which we review the cumbersomely titled Alien/Predator mash-‘em-ups in back to back mini-reviews, because Lord knows I don’t want to spend a second longer with them than I absolutely need to.

AvP: Alien vs. Predator

Year: 2004
Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Cast: Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen, Raoul Bova 
Run Time: 1 hour 41 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13

A group of explorers stumble into a buried pyramid in Antarctica that is also the site of an ancient battle between the predators and the Xenomorphs.

It’s such a miracle of licensing management that any crossover film ever gets made that I really want to like them. I really do. But Alien vs. Predator, no doubt sparked into life by the runaway success of Freddy vs. Jason, doesn’t even reach that film’s level of base mediocrity. To be fair, with mid-2000’s franchise horror it was either go torture or go home, so the sci-fi tinged property was already dead on the vine, but I’m not sure it’s physically possible to come up with a worse justification for the meeting of these two genre giants.

That being said, I also didn’t think this ludicrous mash-up could possibly be boring, but against all odds I continue to be wrong. Even when you add a shifting, labyrinth-esque puzzle box of a pyramid and some Thing throwback Antarctic mayhem, Alien vs. Predator can’t shake off the doldrums of tedium that wrack it to its very core.

This probably has a lot to do with what it has in common with Alien: Resurrection, namely a brobdingnagian slate of names cardboard soldiers that fail to be anchored by the presence of a stately character actor (in this case Lance Henriksen, who slums it for an appallingly large amount of time. But it also has to do with Paul W. S. Anderson’s royally clunky staging and liberal application of exhaustingly prolonged slomo. The Xenomorph effects were clearly limited, so it was difficult to frame an Alien and a Predator in the same shot without flop sweat, and the bleak grey color palette made it pretty much impossible to discern what was going on regardless.

AvP is a choppy, generic movie that just doesn’t seem to care one whit about either of its source materials. Plus, its convoluted mythology leans far too heavily on the side of the Predators that it’s impossible to view this as a clash between two equal, evil factions. Its wan action is buried under hideous clichés like the Academic Who Can read Dead Languages like the Back of a Cereal Box.

Fortunately, being a Paul W. S. Anderson movie does leave AvP with its fair share of ignoble popcorn flick charms. Every 15 minutes or so, it briefly perks up with a scene so mind-bogglingly stupid, you can’t help but admire and enjoy it. You won’t catch me complaining about the mid-glacier-climb phone call or the jump scare featuring a penguin, because they at least show a spark of life in the dead-eyed monstrosity. And [SPOILERS] I have little to no opinion on the Predator as a villain, so the controversial climax where our heroine befriends one of the hulking kill beasts brings me nothing but frothy delight. [END SPOILERS] 

AvP is nothing but a waste of time, but at least it has the decency to be a weird waste of time.

Rating: 4/10

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem

Year: 2007 
Director: The Brothers Strause
Cast: Reiko Aylesworth, Steven Pasquale, Shareeka Epps 
Run Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

A Predator-Alien hybrid is let loose on a small Colorado town in British Columbia.

The films where acid-blooded moon beasts and technologically advanced dreadlock monsters duke it out just should not be boring! How does this keep happening? This movie whose name I refuse to type a second time and shall now refer to as AvPR isn’t spectacularly bad in any showy, immediately recognizable way. Instead it’s insidious, sinking into your bones like a rot.

It has a lot going for it. This is the first time the Xenomorphs have made contact with anything remotely resembling the real world (as Dawson’s Creek-y as the human cast gets, it’s set in a recognizable modern American town). The franchise has returned to its R-rating, doling out gross deaths by the bucketful. And there are even a couple tidbits about civilian life in post-9/11 Patriot Act America, if you look hard enough.

But between its hopelessly tangled laundry list of characters (this is basically a Garry Marshall movie with Chestbursters) and unrelenting nastiness, AvPR is just unpleasant to spend time with. People live and it’s hard to care about their unexplored personalities. People die and it’s pointlessly brutal. A Predator and a Xenomorph have a tussle in the street while the camera swoops gracefully past a huge Papa John’s sign a couple dozen times. It’s just crude.

And the worst crime of all is that it wastes cinematographer Daniel Pearl, by far the most experienced person on set including the two directors and every member of the overpopulated cast. While Pearl attempts to create the slick, mottled look he crafted in Texas Chainsaw and Friday the 13th that was inescapable in the 2000’s, it’s clear he was given no more than two lights to work with, leading the entirely film to be clouded by a murky gray fog.

It’s a dreary, dilapidated mess that had no reason to exist in the first place, and it hardly justifies itself with its leaden action sequences, dull pacing, and complete lack of interest in anything slapped onscreen. If Alien vs. Predator was one to miss, AvPR is one to hit… with a flaming arrow that launches it into oblivion, so you never have to think about it again.

Rating: 2/10
Word Count: 960
Reviews In This Series
Alien (Scott, 1979)
Aliens (Cameron, 1986)
Predator (McTiernan, 1987)
Predator 2 (Hopkins, 1990)
Alien 3 (Fincher, 1992)
Alien: Resurrection (Jeunet, 1997)
AvP: Alien vs. Predator (Anderson, 2004)
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (Strause & Strause, 2007)
Predators (Antal, 2010)
Prometheus (Scott, 2012)
The Predator (Black, 2018)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Spaced Out

Year: 1997
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Dominique Pinon 
Run Time: 1 hour 49 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

An Alien sequel penned by sardonic geek icon Joss Whedon and helmed by the director of Amélie! What could possibly go wrong? Answer: not as much as Alien 3, but Alien: Resurrection (the fourth entry in a franchise that had already long overstayed its welcome and has continued to do so for two more decades) trades idiosyncratic misery for completely generic fluff. But at least it’s remotely tolerable.

I’m not sure I have a thick enough carapace to survive this marathon.

In Alien: Resurrection, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is, well, resurrected. You can’t very well have an Alien movie without her so Hollywood an experimental medical facility paid her an assload of money cloned the DNA of her centuries-old corpse, and here she is. Once again, the movie fails to give half a crap about what the culture shock of waking up 200 years in the future must be like, only this time it also fails to give half a crap about Ripley’s DNA being merged with the Xenomorph’s, converting her from an avenging angel to a maternal figure with acid blood.

You couldn’t pay me to sit down and parse out the depths to how wrong this science is.

Anyway, Ripley is back and so is the Xenomorph, because this movie ain’t gonna be about her buying a timeshare on Pluto. The greedy General Perez (Dan Hedaya) has bred a baker’s dozen of the monsters for reasons nobody really cares to explain, and when things go predictably awry, the specimens escape from the custody of one Dr. Gediman (Brad Dourif, slumming it, and yes this counts as slumming it from the star of Child’s Play 3). Thus a ragtag band of space mercenaries (?) (pirates? I don’t know, they have guns) – including the morally superior (read: irritating) Call Winona Ryder) and the macho alpha dog Johner (Ron Perlman) – must reluctantly team up with Ripley to escape the ship and destroy the Xenomorphs before they reach Earth.

What a s*h*thole.

There are a dozen and a half sins that Alien: Resurrection is guilty of committing, but the largest are the atrocities performed on Ripley’s character. Their forced explanation of her return from the dead (spoilers I guess, but who really cares at this point?) robs her of any sort of personality, making her a clone with stunted feelings. If you’re paying Sigourney Weaver a truly grotesque amount of money, why script her into an emotional iron maiden? Just have her be struck by space lightning and get on with it. This is the third sequel, nobody cares.

Of course, this is a movie that displays Ripley’s newfound alien powers by having her make sweet dunks on a basketball court, so maybe character depth is a little too much to ask.

Unfortunately, there’s nobody to step up up and fill Ripley’s shoes, as hard as they’re trying to make Winona Ryder a thing. She fails as a Ripley surrogate and as a hard-edged warrior, and the only thing her character contributes is a delightfully inexplicable scene where she attempts to drink from a mug while wearing boxing gloves. The sad thing is, every other member of this overstuffed ensemble contributes even less.

This is no fault of the casting director. Ron Perlman and Brad Dourif are fabulous character actors filling the exact spaces they need to, but the script scrounges around to find anything for them to do, let alone the 35 faceless goons that are flanking them.

And love Joss Whedon though I do, this script just isn’t working. The way he tells it, his humorous dialogue was steamrolled by an overserious tone, but 1) did anybody really want Ripley trading Avengers-style quips with Hellboy? And 2) that still doesn’t excuse the ten-car pileup of syntax that attempts to pass itself off as wit.

It’s just not fun. The plot is a shambles and the action is poundingly repetitive (if I never see a squad of gun-toting astronauts tip-toeing down a metal passageway again I’ll be a happy man). It’s straight boring is what it is.

Something a film about a man-eating alien with acid blood should never be.

However, as much of a slog as it was to sit through, it has two strengths that buoy it at least above the dismal Alien 3. First, it’s surprisingly gory, resurrecting the grindhouse flair that made the original film so viscerally compelling. Second, the world-building of the franchise hits its peak here. The Alien movies have never particularly cared about exploring the technological developments that litter the world of the future, but Resurrection is full of fun little flourishes (like freeze-dried whiskey or a security door that identities people by their breath) that indicate subtle ways life has changed over the centuries.

Even if the characters are made of tissue paper, at least that paper is filled with blood and exists in a world I can find a foothold in. There’s still no justifiable reason for this film to exist, but I daresay I’ve seen far worse.

TL;DR: Alien: Resurrection is a mildly diverting but still dull and muddled sequel.
Rating: 5/10
Word Count: 874
Reviews In This Series
Alien (Scott, 1979)
Aliens (Cameron, 1986)
Alien 3 (Fincher, 1992)
Alien: Resurrection (Jeunet, 1997)
AvP: Alien vs. Predator (Anderson, 2004)
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (Strause & Strause, 2007)
Prometheus (Scott, 2012)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Blumhouse: All Work And No Play

Here's what I've been up to over at over the past week or so, including my very first interview!

Five Non-Horror Directors Who DID Make a Horror Movie

This article is a follow-up to my piece about which directors should give in and direct horror, which I assume no reader actually remembers I wrote, but I was still interested in exploring the topic anyway.

I actually learned something in film history! Here I expand on a story only ever mentioned in a paragraph or two of film textbooks, but is secretly the most interesting thing in any of them.

Yes, this is a real thing. I discovered these books at a used bookstore a while back, and they've inspired at least two articles at this point.

I'll let you in on a little backstage secret. I actually didn't talk to these two at the same time, but I worked very hard to make it look like a conversation. I think I did a good job!

I really do love to explore how horror creeps into other genres. Plus, the stuff we made kids watch back in the day is mega messed up.
Word Count: 235

Monday, April 3, 2017

Rewind: March 2017

I intend to run a post every month or so highlighting the films you should really be checking out in theaters, but considering this is March, the pickings have been a tad slim. let's just say I've seen seven movies theatrically since we last touched base, and though I didn't vehemently hate any of them, I only have one to recommend. Womp womp.


There may only be one, but it's a hell of a recommendation. Drawing strength from the success of the R-rated Deadpool, Logan leans in on its adult themes, creating a grim and dangerous world with immensely satisfying emotional payoffs for fans of the X-Men. Don't bother seeing the previous Wolverine solo adventures before this one, you won't need them. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart revel in exploring new sides of their iconic characters and Dafne Keen gives a debut performance for the ages. A must-see.
Word Count: 149