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All reviews - Movies (33) - TV Shows (1)

Burning Paradise review

Posted : 2 years, 6 months ago on 30 March 2015 03:48 (A review of Burning Paradise)

AKA BURNING PARADISE ~ This movie is absolute bonkers, seek it out and relish in its awesome martial arts wackiness. It's kind of like if William Lustig directed a martial arts remake of Temple of Doom with Mario Bava on set design. Within the first five minutes a man is sliced in half leaving his lower half geysering blood while still riding a horse and then a horse is accidentally decapitated by a flying guillotine-esque weapon, now that's how you start a movie! From then on its a wild ride into hell, with the valiant Fong Sai-Yuk leading you through the darkness. The temple is creepy as hell, making you feel at times like you are watching a horror film. The fight scenes are excellent, very creative use of weapons and sets. The drawbacks are mainly the poor dubbing job, the English dub sounds like it was recorded on an old beat up tape recorder and worst of all it's not complete. Some misplaced attempts at silly humor also put a damper on things. But it's a great concept and a nice change of pace from your typical martial arts outing. Definitely for fans who like their Wu Xia served up grim and bloody. Ringo Lam went balls to the wall on this one, and for that I think it's worth recommending.


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187 review

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 25 February 2015 03:45 (A review of 187)

Class of 1984 gets a reboot and the result is probably one of the most powerful films ever made about teachers and students. It represents that time period in the late 90's when filmmakers scorched the screen with style and bravura. In this case, Kevin Reynolds creates such a distinct atmosphere from the camera filters, soft focus shots, experimental techniques, and of course the amazing trip-hop soundtrack. It's a real feast for the eyes and ears, while maintaining a very tangible world with real issues at play. The message is profound, the themes and images will stay with you. The centerpiece to all of this is Samuel L. Jackson in one of his most underrated performances. The rest of the cast lends great support, especially Clifton Collins Jr. as the menacing Cesar. Highly recommended for fans of 90's stylized cinema, LA Neo-Noir, and violent teacher/student flicks.


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Cyborg review

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 22 February 2015 04:51 (A review of Cyborg)

You really have to appreciate Cyborg for the fact that it knows exactly what it is and never attempts to be more than that. It is very comfortable in its own B-movie skin which gives it a certain level of charm. This is a Canon film through and through, complete with awkward line delivery, gratuitous violence and nudity, and action scenes that spit in the face of logic. It ranks among Van Damme's best alongside Bloodsport and Hard Target. Here he's dirtied up, rocking a blowout, and mumbling his way through the English language. Van Damme plays Gibson, a Slinger which is sort of like a bodyguard-for-hire who is recruited by a cyborg to get her to Atlanta where they can develop the cure for the plague. She is being pursued by a rag tag group of Pirates lead by the fearsome Fender, who talks like a surfer Andre the Giant and likes to intimidate people with his florescent blue eyes. I haven't seen eyes this menacing since The Eyes Of Laura Mars. The whole movie is basically a long cat and mouse chase from New York to Atlanta in about the same time it took The Warriors to get from the Bronx to Coney Island. Van Damme doing what he does best here, playing the troubled loner and demonstrating both his body and his martial arts skills with gusto. You gotta love that showdown at the end between Gibs and Fender, there's more yelling than fighting! Yeeeeaaaaah! Aaaaaaaaah! It's silly, it's wacky, it's Canon. I LIKE THIS WOOOORRRLLD!!!


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Vigilante review

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 19 February 2015 09:16 (A review of Vigilante)

I had high hopes for Vigilante given its cult status and yet I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would. Its biggest flaw is that the muddled plot gives way to long stretches of scenes in between the action that really creates some serious pacing issues. Plus Fred Williamson steals every scene he is in, which normally would be a good thing but he's virtually absent in certain parts leaving you hungry for more. He's got a twinkle in his eye, enjoying the violence way too much, and chewing the hell out of each scene like that day old cigar in his mouth. Just the way I like my Fred Williamson served. Aside from Williamson, the rest of the cast is not very compelling or interesting. Robert Forster is his usual cardboard self, Willie Colon plays one of the least intimidating villains I've ever seen in a movie (his demise is also a big letdown), even Joe Spinell is wasted as a sleazy attorney. Most of the praise I've heard for the film is based on the extreme and brutal violence, which it has in spades but in that respect it's no different from 90's era Steven Seagal flicks. The one area the film deserves praise is the gritty, sans-permits on location shooting on the streets of NYC creating a grimey (borderline sleazy) atmosphere. A trademark that Lustig is known for. I can only recommend this for fans of Williamson and gritty NYC flicks, come to think of it, if they made the whole movie about Williamson as the sole vigilante it would have been so much better!


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Class of 1999 review

Posted : 2 years, 8 months ago on 10 February 2015 05:23 (A review of Class of 1999)

Class of 1999 is the kind of movie late night cable television in the late 80s/early 90s was made for. It was the kind of movie that made tweens from that era giddy with delight. Like its predecessor Class of 1984, it tackles our failed education system. But instead of taking a serious approach at social commentary, '99 throws all that out the window in favor of a big, dumb action/sci-fi extravanganza. And damn is it a lot of fun.

Class of 1999 dares to answer the questions: What if The Terminator taught high school? What if The Terminator put you across his lap and gave you one brutal ass spanking? What if someone made a movie using the leftover costumes and sets from Cyborg? Which incidentally was made using leftover costumes and sets from a failed Masters of the Universe sequel. Whew.

All you need to know about the plot is that tough as nails teen badboy Cody Culp (played by Bradley Gregg who is sort of like the poor man's Stephen Dorff) is fresh out of prison and back in high school. Only now the State of Educational Defense has created android teachers to deal with the students.

And this is where the film truly shines, the casting choices for the adults is damn near brilliant. SEE Malcolm McDowell as the concerned Principal Dr. Miles Langford. SEE Stacy Keach in a feral white mullet and wolfman contacts as head of the android program. SEE Pam Grier strut her stuff and show us her amazing bionic breasts (I'll gladly take them in any form). SEE Patrick Kilpatrick stare with an intensity that would make any student piss his pants. SEE John P. Ryan as the aforementioned brutal ass slapper.

The classroom scenes are pure B-movie enjoyment, the ensuing battle between gangs and teachers is breathtaking thanks to top notch effects (the f/x team previously worked on Die Hard and Predator!). The ending is pure mayhem with the teachers transforming into android creatures with flame thrower and rocket launcher arms. All in all it delivers great popcorn fun, makes you wish all B-movies had as much ambition and moxie!


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The Gate review

Posted : 2 years, 9 months ago on 15 January 2015 08:17 (A review of The Gate)

The Gate was recently reissued on DVD as a "monstrous special edition" and featured some rather bizarre cover art. It depicts Glen down in the hole with the minions, but Glen was never down in the hole, it was actually Terry and why did they draw him in cargo shorts with hiking sandals? Did the artist even watch the movie? On the plus side, it features a nice widescreen transfer and some interesting interviews with the crew. Would have been nice to see some updated interviews with the cast, but still a good DVD to have in the collection.

Like most children of the 80's, The Gate stands as a somewhat cult classic of horror owing in part to some extreme scares and amazing creature f/x. Writer Michael Nankin explains in an interview how he was in a very dark place when he wrote the film, initially conceiving it as a harsh adult horror film. Eventually he made the story about a group of kids, but kept all the horror elements from the original story. The result is something similar to Poltergeist, where a pleasant day in suburbia slowly turns into a nightmare. Little by little, strange things begin to happen and every time there is a pause of relief something worse is brewing.

What makes The Gate a near classic of 80's spooky horror is that it taps into real childhood fears and imagination. The ominous hole in the backyard, heavy metal music and the occult, terrifying insects/creatures, urban legend myths (construction worker buried in a wall), and of course parents not being around to save the day. The child actors are believable and likeable, which puts you right there with them. For me, The Gate represents that magical time in the 80's when filmmakers pulled no punches and gave us the kind of movies that were perfect for late night sleepovers.


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The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears review

Posted : 2 years, 9 months ago on 6 January 2015 02:07 (A review of The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears)

The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears is a difficult movie to describe, you will read or hear stuff like "head trip," "fever dream," "orgy of colors," or "fetishized imagery. It's a film that is all about creating a visual and aural feast, not concerned in the least bit about plot, story structure, character development, or even logic. And it's nothing new or groundbreaking. If you go back to the giallo films of Sergio Martino and Dario Argento, pay close attention to the dream sequences. SCYBT is like taking one of those dream sequences and stretching it to an hour and a half. If this in any way tantalizes you then you are in for a treat. It's devotion to this aesthetic sets it apart from the typical, safe cinema that we have today and for that I think it's worth recommending.


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Four Flies on Grey Velvet review

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 6 December 2014 04:01 (A review of Four Flies on Grey Velvet)

Four Flies on Grey Velvet is the final film in Argento's "animal trilogy" and probably gets the honor of the best opening and closing credit sequences in the maestro's canon. Let's start with that opening sequence, set to a rollicking jam session in a recording studio, cut to a random beating heart with no real connection to anything. Okay that's weird and why are we looking at the band through a hole? Oh wait, that's actually a POV shot from inside a guitar! Argento, you genius! Add to that a pesky fly that keeps attacking the drummer, who dispenses of said fly with a well timed hi-hat. This drummer turns out to be the main character, played by Michael Brandon who is a little too stoic and serious to be a likable lead. Luckily there is a plethora of oddball characters to make up for it. You have a vagabond mentor named Godfrey, played by spaghetti western staple Bud Spencer, who is introduced with Jesus Christ Superstar style theme music. There's also a gay private eye and a battered mailman. What it lacks in blood and gore it makes up for in scares, there's a recurring nightmare about a beheading execution, a woman gets trapped in a park after dark, and the eyeball of a victim is preserved to capture the last image seen before death. Really creepy stuff. All leading up to that amazing slo-motion car crash decapitation finale set to a haunting Morricone score.

Argento score card:
Blood - 2
Scares - 5
Music - 4
Lusty women - 5
Camera work - 6
Color palette - 2
Crazed animals - 2 (two points for creepy cats and "One Fly on a Drummer's Face")

Total score: 26/70


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The Bird with the Crystal Plumage review

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 2 December 2014 03:57 (A review of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage)

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is Dario Argento's first film and despite being a very tame giallo, all the elements that make Argento who he is are all here at such an early stage. POV shots and exquisite framing, black leather glove-clad killer, ordinary Joe caught up in a mystery, etc. That being said, the style and violence are toned down considerably compared to his later work. Tony Musante makes for an enjoyable lead as an American writer who witnesses an attempted murder and then assists in the investigation. Some classic sequences include the attempted murder at the art gallery and lusty counter-culture chick Suzy Kendall trapped in her apartment with the killer trying to get in. The creepy library score by Ennio Morricone is also a nice treat. Now to the disappointing ending, we are given a sculpture with spikes all over it that you would think is going to be used to violently impale the killer (see Tenebre). Instead it is used to temporarily trap the hero? Bollocks. Add to that a cheesy "psychiatrist explains the killer's motive" epilogue a la Psycho? Aside from the ending, it's a decent little murder/mystery worth seeing for the maestro's debut.

Argento score card:
Blood - 2
Scares - 4
Music - 7
Lusty women - 5
Camera work - 5
Color palette - 3
Crazed animals - 1 (one point for the cats)

Total score: 27/70


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The Cat o' Nine Tails review

Posted : 2 years, 11 months ago on 24 November 2014 06:42 (A review of The Cat o' Nine Tails)

The Cat o' Nine Tails is the second film in Argento's "animal trilogy" and for some reason this trilogy is virtually devoid of the crazed, blood-thristy animals of his later films. There isn't even a cat o' one tail to wreak havoc on anyone (see Inferno or Two Evil Eyes for some real cat terror). The mystery unfolds around a gumshoe reporter and a blind old man, a killer is stacking victims and they may have the key to find his identity. The reporter is played by James Franciscus, who is sort of like the poor man's Charlton Heston. He is arrogant, no-nonsense, and doesn't give a damn about your mother's ravioli (actual line of dialogue). Karl Malden adds great support as the blind old man who wields a cane sword and crossword puzzles with equal gusto. There's really only one lusty lady in this film, Catherine Spaak who plays Anna. She struts around in swanky little outfits, but her hair kind of reminds me of Carol Brady. Not a good thing. Unlike his later films, there's not much in way of blood and scares, it's more Hitchcock than Bava. It does feature a guy getting hit in the face by a moving train, and a rather brutal fight scene at the end. But the real high water mark of the film is Argento's use of green and red. Every scene features these colors prominently which adds a certain wild mania to the proceedings. Add to that a spaghetti western-meets-horror musical score from Ennio Morricone and you got a top notch giallo from the maestro's early days.

Argento score card:
Blood - 3
Scares - 5
Music - 7
Lusty women - 4
Camera work - 6
Color palette - 8
Crazed animals - 1 (one point for the rats)

Total score: 34/70


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