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

Opera review

Posted : 2 years, 7 months ago on 13 November 2014 03:57 (A review of Opera)

Dario Argento's Opera could be considered one of the last truly great films in the maestro's canon. It sets itself apart from the rest by showcasing some of the most innovative, breathtaking cinematography I've ever seen in a film. Period. Argento and first-time collaborator Ronnie Taylor really let loose and run wild with the visuals. POV shots abound, including crow-vision and sink drain-vision to name a few. The camera glides and swoops through the air like an apparition, adding to the creepy feel of the proceedings. The "needles under the eyelids" concept is used to great effect, not since A Clockwork Orange has this form of torture been so terrifying. Opera is not as bloody nor as scary as previous Argento films, it drags in certain parts and none of the characters are very likeable or compelling. But it does hold up nicely as a spooky thriller and the "head-shot through the peep hole" stands as one of Argento's best sequences.

Argento score card:
Blood - 7
Scares - 6
Music - 4
Lusty women - 6
Camera work - 10
Color palette - 4
Crazed animals - 5 (a murder of crows!)

Total score: 42/70


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Morgan Stewart's Coming Home review

Posted : 2 years, 7 months ago on 10 November 2014 06:19 (A review of Morgan Stewart's Coming Home)

Morgan Stewart's Coming Home is a nice little teen comedy from the 80s starring the always likeable Jon Cryer. This was one of those movies that aired almost daily on HBO during the late 80s. It was groundbreaking in its day for taking a jab at the dysfunctional family dynamics of wealthy socialites/politicians. Lynn Redgrave is great as Morgan's cold as ice mother Nancy, but this really is Jon Cryer's show. It also features 80s go-to asshole, Paul Gleason as the sleazy shyster Jay. Morgan is a true horror film geek, almost to the extreme as Chainsaw in Summer School. An interesting love story develops between Morgan and a fellow horror geek, who of course is oblivious to his family's wealth and political standing. Which leads to a silly romp of an ending complete with an army jeep crashing into a fountain. You gotta love the 80s.


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Inferno review

Posted : 2 years, 7 months ago on 10 November 2014 06:02 (A review of Inferno)

Inferno is Dario Argento's masterpiece, thanks in part to a near collaborative effort from Italian horror pioneer Mario Bava. As the second part of The Mother of Tears trilogy, Argento tackles the mystical world of alchemy. The scenes play out like a fever dream, neon pink and blue glowing from every window as if the moon was illuminating the night in these colors. The set pieces add to the nightmarish landscape: a hole in a basement floor leading to an underwater room, the alchemist lair with boiling pots, even the building's architecture. The killer does not wear black gloves, instead we see his creepy demonic hands which is a nice change of pace. There are some flaws, poor dubbing and a rather annoying musical score. But the use of colors, set design, and bizarre scenarios places Inferno right at the top alongside Suspiria as Argento's best work.

Argento score card:
Blood - 6
Scares - 9
Music - 5
Lusty women - 4
Camera work - 8
Color palette - 10
Crazed animals - 8 (possessed felines, killer rats, a neck chomping seeing-eye dog, and a pigeon thrown at Daria Nicolodi's head)

Total score: 50/70


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Suspiria review

Posted : 2 years, 7 months ago on 10 November 2014 01:33 (A review of Suspiria)

Suspiria is like a ride through an amusement park funhouse with candy-colored lights, eerie music, and scares that come out of nowhere. Hitchcock is on tap here as well as Bava, both an obvious influence on Argento. Never has horror been so gorgeous and artistically rendered. The cinematography, set design, and lighting are all oscar-worthy. Yes, the gore is extreme, but balances out evenly with the suspense and atmosphere. It does have it's share of flaws, some of the acting and dialogue is pretty bad and that lecture on witchcraft halfway through really brought things to a screeching halt. But as far as Italian horror, or horror in general is concerned, this is the cream of the crop. Arguably Argento's best (while I prefer Inferno) and I think it's interesting to note that if you were to strip Suspiria of everything that makes it great you would be left with what horror cinema is today.

Argento score card:
Blood - 8
Scares - 10
Music - 10
Lusty women - 6
Camera work - 8
Color palette - 10
Crazed animals - 2 (maggots?)

Total score: 54/70


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Tenebre review

Posted : 2 years, 7 months ago on 10 November 2014 01:23 (A review of Tenebre)

Tenebre marked a return to traditional giallo mode for Argento, departing from the surreal, colorful world of witches and alchemy. Which means we have here a pretty straight forward slasher giallo, but the big difference is the blood and gore level has been turned up quite considerably. And that is where Argento truly shines in Tenebre. It's certainly not without its faults, The story is boring and plodding for the most part, its got some of the most horrendous dubbing I've ever heard in my life. But let's be real, that's not why we watch Argento films. We watch them to see beautiful women hacked up with creativity, style, and bravura. And boy does this film boast quite a plethora of lusty Italian beauties. The exquisite apartment camera work and the ax wielding finale are the high water marks. Ultimately not the maestro's best, but still better than most slashers of it's time.

Argento score card:
Blood - 10
Scares - 6
Music - 7
Lusty women - 10
Camera work - 8
Color palette - 2
Crazed animals - 5 (one very determined doberman)

Total score: 48/70


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Timerider review

Posted : 2 years, 7 months ago on 3 November 2014 02:37 (A review of Timerider)

Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann is a mildly entertaining time travel movie from the mind of enigmatic musician and former Monkees frontman, Michael Nesmith. It's one of the few movies he actually had a hand in along with Elephant Parts. Here he plays it a little too straight, never allowing it to be as fun as say, Back To The Future 3. Was this an inspiration for BTF3? Maybe.

Lyle Swann is a champion off-road dirt bike racer who is sent back in time to 1877 thanks to a computer malfunction. Upon arrival, he gets into it with a group of outlaws led by 80s everyman, Peter Coyote. Only here he is brilliantly cast against type, sporting silver fronts and uttering such classic bits of dialogue as "Piss on that, piss on you!" and "You yellow chickenshit head, you yellow craphead!" Swann is given a love interest played by Aussie babe Belinda Bauer. As is the case with most Australian babes of the 80s, they ain't no damsel in distress.

There's some cool tech bits sprinkled throughout, such as the helmet with a computerized viser. Poor Fred Ward, every time he takes off the helmet it looks like he just got out of a hot shower. Fred Ward is good in the lead, but lets be real, it's not quite Remo Williams level Fred Ward. In closing, I'd say Timerider is your typical bottom shelf 80s sci-fi/western fair. Watch BTF3 if you want to see how it's done right.


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The Wraith review

Posted : 2 years, 11 months ago on 12 July 2014 04:06 (A review of The Wraith)

The Wraith is a revenge flick like no other. It's kind of like Mad Max meets The Exterminator. So much awesomeness in this movie from the cars to the music. It's pure 80's, cheesy at times but with a lot of charm. Oddly while given top billing, Charlie Sheen only appears in the movie in small doses not counting scenes of The Wraith all suited up. But luckily 80's uber-babe Sherilyn Fenn gets a lot of screen time, and this is tan, blonde highlights Sherilyn Fenn before she went all goth in the 90's. Nick Cassavetes is the leader of the gearhead punks, sort of like a Brooklyn toughguy dropped in the middle of the Nevada desert. Randy Quaid plays the sheriff and he likes to drive points home by decapitating paper dolls. Point taken, Randy. Car chases and explosions abound, a mysterious disappearing leg brace, and Clint Howard looking like Eraserhead. All that adds up to some great late-night popcorn fun. Enjoy the ride.


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Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome review

Posted : 3 years ago on 21 June 2014 03:21 (A review of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome)

While Mad Max 3 doesn't quite have the cult status of its two predecessors, I would argue that it's by far the most fun of the three. This movie is pure 80's Action/Adventure amusement park escapism. The proceedings are beefed up thanks to a hefty American budget, Tina Turner on board chewing the hell out of every scene she's in, and Mel doing what he does best. The tribe of lost children is also a nice addition to the series, kind of like the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. All in all, it invokes fond memories of being a kid for me and still holds up pretty well to today's standards.


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Bullies review

Posted : 3 years ago on 20 June 2014 09:26 (A review of Bullies)

I tracked this movie down mainly because I had a huge crush on Olivia d'Abo when I was a kid after seeing her in Conan The Destroyer. Other than The Wonder Years, I never really saw her in anything else back then. This movie definitely delivers for fans of hers. For example, there is a scene where she goes for a swim in a wife beater. Yeah, think Jacqueline Bisset in The Deep. Aside from that, the movie is a waste of time. It's your typical Deliverance, Southern Comfort backwoods baddies kind of story reduced to made-for-tv level nonsense. Plus there's even a laughable, Mr. Miyagi Indian dude who mentors the main character.


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My Schoolmate the Barbarian review

Posted : 3 years ago on 10 June 2014 10:42 (A review of My Schoolmate the Barbarian)

I had never heard of this movie before, but gave it a chance based on the director and fight choreographer who both have a strong catalog of wacky, fun kung fu movies. This movie does not disappoint. Awesome fight scenes, stylish camera tricks, and a solid Karate Kid-like storyline makes this a must see. It's basically Fight Club at a school for bad kids. There is some cheesy teen romance elements that kind of put a damper on things, but overall it's what you would expect from 90's era Tai Seng.


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