Friday, September 28, 2007

Review – Badlands

Terrence Mallick transforms the Charles Starkweather murders into an oddly quiet and peaceful piece of cinema. Though fictionalized, the connections with the real crimes are obvious. Martin Sheen stars as the killer, and Sissy Spacek plays his half-accomplice girlfriend. The script and acting work quite well, painting a picture of two young, Midwestern people with few if any critical thinking skills and an eerie sense of emotional deadness. Set against Mallick’s strong visual sense of landscapes and the hauntingly un-dramatic soundtrack, the contrast between subject and presentation makes for an intriguing mix. Worth seeing

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Review – Dirty Pretty Things

This movie combines three-dimensional characters, an intriguing plot and a worthwhile purpose into a single production. I’ve seen plenty of movies that do one of those things well, and a few that manage two. But three is rare enough to make this an experience worth seeking. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays a Nigerian doctor who emigrates to London only to be forced into menial jobs. He and his roommate (Audrey Tautou) run afoul of some creepy goings-on at the hotel where they both work, about which I can say no more without ruining part of the plot. I’m glad a friend recommended this to me, as I missed it completely in theatrical and DVD release. Worth seeing

Monday, September 17, 2007

Review – Black Hole

Thank goodness for the Sci Fi Channel. Without it, where would Judd Nelson find work? This time around he’s the I-tried-to-warn-you-all scientist in a battle against a black hole accidentally created by a science experiment. His efforts to keep the singularity from swallowing St. Louis are complicated by the presence of some kind of energy monster hopping in and out of another dimension via the title portal. Even the effects are bad, consisting primarily of animated electricity knocking stuff out in advance of the swelling event horizon. See if desperate

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Review – Arachnid

This was back before the Sci Fi Channel started using computer-generated spiders, so they had to work with a giant model spider. That limited the action somewhat. But the rest of the elements are here: bad acting, bad script, implausible plot, and of course a big ol’ bunch of giant spider fu. So if that’s all it takes to make you happy, open your mouth and close your eyes. See if desperate

Friday, September 14, 2007

Review – The Empty Acre

I started out really loving this movie. It had a certain subtlety missing in most bargain-basement horror pictures. The monster was amorphous, appearing as little more than shadows. The production – particularly the script and the acting – was good enough to avoid being terrible while at the same time not good enough to be Hollywood slick. The opening twist is that a young farm couple’s land contains an “empty acre,” a dead patch of earth that appears to have some malevolent power. This could have turned into a “Colour Out of Space” moment, or really gone just about anywhere else, but instead it stays put more or less where it is. I could forgive the animal death and the baby abduction for awhile, but by the midpoint it was sadly obvious that the show had shot its bolt. If only the folks who made this had gotten tired of their spooky routines a little faster than I did. Mildly amusing

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Review – Creepshow 3

The first Creepshow is one of my all-time favorite movies. I managed to at least tolerate the second one. This thing, however, was enough to make me long for another screening of the “Thanks for the ride, lady” sequence from #2. I don’t know how they managed it, but somehow each vignette is even dumber than the one before it. Plus they start to intermingle in a not-particularly-clever way. The result is one of those jaw-dropping, why-did-anyone-bother-making-this bits of pure stupidity. Thank goodness neither George Romero nor Stephen King had anything to do with this round. I’d hate to think that either of them had slipped this far. Wish I’d skipped it

Review – Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield

This movie: the butcher of my last damn nerve. It’s something of a distinction being the worst Gein-based movie ever made, as the field is quite crowded down at the bottom. The plot hovers somewhere between a straight Gein biopic (along the lines of the Steve Railsback version, which was a much better movie) and yet another Texas Chainsaw picture. And it ends up doing neither job well. The story departs from the facts far too radically for this to count as a “true story.” And yet it’s too boring to work as a standard slasher picture. The whole experience is typified by the decision to cast a hulking brute of a guy (think Leatherface) as the thin, wimpy killer. The result is something that will tick off connoisseurs of Geinabilia and not draw in any other audience in their place. Wish I’d skipped it

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Review – A.I. Assault

After a long summer of watching movies on the Sci Fi Channel, I’m starting to run out of things to say about them. So hey, here’s another one. Deadly robots escape from a military lab and blah blah blah. Effects cheap. Script bad. Acting sub par. Killed an hour and a half or so. What more can one ask of such an experience? See if desperate