There are few video box covers as misleading as the one for 8 Man. It promises an action-packed film about kick-ass robots. Suing for false advertising might be feasible here, because these ‘bots are anything but kick-ass. Sure, they’ve got neat powers and stuff, but they spend so much time angsting over the cyborg condition [...]
In recent years, Jackie Chan has been fine tuning his career, trying to figure out how to be a star in both Asia and America. We’ve been treated to films produced by HK talent which were obviously intended to play well on this side of the Pacific (Rumble in the Bronx, Mr. Nice Guy, Who [...]
After the runaway success of the film Aladdin, Disney tried its first foray in the direct-to-video animation business. Direct-to-video animated films have done very well in Japan, where they are called Original Animated Videos (OAV for short), and Disney thought the American market was ripe for such films. Disney’s first OAV was The Return of [...]
As the zombie movie goes through every possible iteration known to man – no doubt egged on by the public’s inexhaustible appetite for films in the genre – it was inevitable that a zombie documentary would arrive. Well, okay; despite the fact that this is fast becoming a dirty word at film festivals, it is [...]
Just a warning right up front: Such is our disgust at this movie that we are going to spoil its only plot twist. So if you don’t want to know, or if you’re really offended by spoilers, you may not want read any further. We picked up Are You in the House Alone? in the [...]
It’s probably some kind of sickness on my part, but I can’t stop watching rip-offs of E.T. the Extraterrestrial (1982). Maybe it’s the inherent futility of trying to remake the magic of movie that really shouldn’t have worked in the first place, or maybe it’s that any E.T. rip-off is declaring the fact that it [...]
Holy self-parody, Batman! Who would have thought that this movie would turn out to be one of the best of five Batman flicks produced over thirty years? Although we’ll tip our hats to the first and second Batman films, directed by Tim Burton, for being visually impressive, none of the more modern Bat-movies has managed [...]
We hope you’re reading this review before you actually decide to watch Belle de Jour. Surrealist Luis Bunuel’s 1967 film works from the standpoint that real art makes the audience work to understand it. As a result, watching Belle de Jour can be an exercise in confusion (as if reading the subtitles weren’t work enough). [...]
Considering that the Loch Ness monster is one of the most recognized enigmas in the world, it is relatively unrepresented in the world of cult movies. Sure, Larry Buchanan made The Loch Ness Horror (1981) and there are a few others, but let’s face it, we’ve been waiting years for a really good movie about Loch Ness and the prehistoric creature that may or may not lay beneath its surface. Thanks to Beneath Loch Ness, we’re still waiting.
Although the words “Dino De Laurentiis Presents” usually indicate imminent pain caused by cinematic trauma, Bound is actually one of the best movies we’ve seen in some time. Violent, suspenseful, and funny, Bound is a welcome relief from the usual mob-caper movie. When Bound first hit theaters, it was treated to a lot of brouhaha [...]
If Chungking Express were a snake, it would be a boa constrictor. It starts off slow, gradually easing you into the everyday life of its characters. Before you know it, the movie has wrapped itself around your brain. It’s a smart little film with dialogue that would be pretentious anywhere else and an eclectic soundtrack [...]
Cruel Intentions 2 took a long and tortuous path to home video shelves, but that didn’t stop it from being an utter piece of crap. As aficionados of Hollywood’s less savory fare, we shudder to think how close we came to missing out on this film entirely. Cruel Intentions (1999), of course, was the trashy [...]
Welcome to the far flung future of 1999, Toho style. You know, the closer we get to the year 2000, the more of those classic “futuristic” movies actually end up taking place in the past. Like the Lost in Space TV series and Terminator 2, both of which predicted events that would occur in 1997.
You know what a really great present would be? A good Christmas-themed horror film. The idea of a killer dressed as Santa Claus (or Santa himself as a killer) has potential, except that most of the films that feature such a killer shy from letting Santa prey on his natural enemy: children. And politicians are [...]
When it came out, Exotica was hailed by critics as a cerebral thriller with an intricate plot (“just like Pulp Fiction!”). The video previews show a phosphor-blue strip club with the fast-paced bump-and-grind music one expects from a strip club, and lots of dramatic cut scenes with actors saying intense things like “You have no [...]
Feast (2005) took a tortuous path to DVD. It was actually the third Project Greenlight-produced movie. I guess Matt Damon and Ben Affleck must have finally realized, after producing two coming-of-age stories no one saw, that no one goes to see coming-of-age stories. A horror movie would seem to be a much better commercial prospect, and probably more fun to watch on Greenlight. It didn’t work out that way, though, as Bravo canceled Project Greenlight early and the movie ended up on the shelf for a year.
Netflix tells me that I received the DVD for Film Geek around August 23rd. I dimly recall popping it into the DVD player a day or so afterwards, and being so mortified by what I saw that I had to watch the rest in chunks, a few minutes at a time, until I finally finished the picture this afternoon. November 18th. It’s not that Film Geek is a bad movie, but its choice of subject matter and the presentation of same strike — well, a little close to home.
To call Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain mere eye candy is perhaps going too far, but it is to be recommended more as an audio-visual experience than as what is traditionally considered cinematic entertainment. The director has pushed the envelope of effects design considerably on an impressively constrained budget, but those moviegoers expecting storytelling on par with Requiem for a Dream will be disappointed. The far greater scope and spectacle of The Fountain dilutes its emotional impact to almost nothing.
Daiei did a great job of updating Gamera with Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. It delivered some amazing traditional rubber-suit giant monster action, coupled with state-of-the-art special effects, knocking even the later Godzilla films off the top of the hill for realistic destruction. How could they possibly follow it up? By making a better movie. [...]
Bringing to a close the trilogy of 1990′s Gamera films is Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris, and we are pleased to say that it is the finest giant monster movie made since the original Godzilla/Gamera cycle ended in the mid-seventies. Gamera 3 features terrific special effects integrated into an engrossing story that ties together all [...]
It is a well-known fact that in the real world, everyone has an evil twin. So it isn’t surprising that movies often feature evil twins. Remember the Cosmos Twins from Godzilla vs. Mothra (1963) and other Godzilla movies? Well, if they had evil twins (who would have to be evil twins themselves… think about it), [...]
Look out world, Gamera, the giant fire-breathing turtle and perpetual whipping boy of those wits over at Mystery Science Theater 3000, is back and looking to recapture his good name. Of course, the previous Gamera movies, all made between 1965 and 1980, were at best cheesy fun, and were at worst totally unwatchable. While Daiei created Gamera to compete with Godzilla, Gamera never rose above the level of a cheap rip-off of the Big G. Our favorite early Gamera movie has to be the Gamera vs. Guillon (1969), simply because it was so surreally bad.
Gappa, the Triphibian Monsters is Nikkatsu Studio’s one and only entry into the giant monster genre. Made in 1967, the movie is a pretty shameless amalgam of Gorgo (1961) and King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), only without the energy and fun. The movie opens as a bunch reporters and scientists arrive in the south seas [...]
In a process that began in the ’90s and accelerated over the past few years, continental Asian cinema began to transcend its borders. Hong Kong is the most notable example, but countries like Korea and India have broken into the Western film and video market as well. Previously Japan was the sole source of respected [...]
If there’s a moral to Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster, it’s that weird stuff happens, and you just have to roll with it. In the tone-setting first scene, a bunch of Japanese UFO nuts are standing around waiting for the “saucer people” to give them a sign. When no sign comes, the disappointed believers begin blaming [...]
Making a giant monster movie is a lot like dating someone you meet in an Internet chat room. Just as there’s no way of knowing that sexy “Clarissa” (who knocked your socks off with her quick online wit and lightning-fast typing fingers) isn’t really a six-foot lumbering dairy farmer named Lyle until you meet her [...]
When it comes to giant monsters, one name comes to mind: Godzilla. And when only one name comes to mind, you can be sure other people will try to piggy-back on that success with rip-offs of their own — like Daiei studio’s entry into the giant monster genre, Gamera. As rip-offs of Godzilla go, Gamera [...]
On April 2nd, 1997 Godzilla fans everywhere lost an idol: Tomoyuki Tanaka died. Tanaka was the producer of all of Godzilla’s screen exploits. Along with special effects creator Eiji Tsuburaya and director Ishiro Honda, he was primarily responsible for the creation of the enduring screen icon we call Godzilla. With his passing, all three of [...]
For a film that was meant to revive the Godzilla series in both Japan and the U.S., Godzilla (1984) (aka Godzilla 1985 in America) is a disappointment. Toho tried a lot of new ideas that just didn’t pan out, and then repeated some old mistakes which could have easily been avoided. Although it didn’t spell [...]
Our preliminary checklist for Godzilla ’98: Rising from the depths… (check) Thirty stories tall… (yup, pretty darn tall) …it’s GODZILLA! (uh… is it?) That seems to be the question, and it’s a hotly contested one, not only by fans of the classic Godzilla, but also by the media and the movie makers themselves. Before we [...]
Is it possible to become accustomed to attacks by Godzilla? The human characters in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (the latest installment in the famous Toho series), take a siege by Godzilla as something barely worth mentioning, and that helps to make this the Godzilla movie with the least compelling non-monster scenes yet. Anyone who saw Godzilla vs Megalon can tell you — that’s really saying something.
Though the original Godzilla was obviously a triumph, Godzilla Raids Again is a misstep, especially from the perspective of kaiju fans today. Perhaps because Ishiro Honda had other commitments producer Tomiyura Tanaka gave the task of making the first Godzilla sequel to another director, Motoyoshi Oda. The resulting film introduced the popular “Godzilla vs. Another Monster” formula that would serve the series so well. Unfortunately, nearly everything about the film feels rushed – except for the dramatic pacing, which suffers from the opposite problem.
The sea monster in the title of Godzilla vs the Sea Monster brings new meaning to the words “jumbo shrimp.” Ebirah, whose name is derived from the Japanese word for shrimp, is just that — a monstrous, towering, man-eating shrimp. As you might imagine, he (she?) isn’t a very compelling monster, especially when pitted against [...]
In our last review we mentioned that people in the 1960′s were taking a lot of drugs, and that some movies with rather, ah, hallucinatory qualities resulted. Further evidence of this is 1969′s Godzilla’s Revenge, in which all of the monster action takes place in the dreams of (who else?) a young Japanese boy. When [...]
When you think about it, Japan and Britain have a lot in common. They are both islands, they both make a really big deal about tea, and neither one can seem to resist the urge to occupy China. So perhaps it isn’t surprising that the first major Godzilla rip-off outside of Japan came from Britain, in the form of Gorgo.
William Shatner. The name brings to mind many classic roles like James Kirk. And uh. . . James T. Kirk. And Captain Kirk.
Okay, the name William Shatner only brings to mind one role. Even when we watched T.J. Hooker we half-expected Shatner to call Scotty for an emergency beam-out. Everything Shatner has done since Star Trek went off the air has to be seen in that context.
I won’t be surprised if Korea soon celebrates Joon-ho Bong as a national treasure. Not only is he a gifted filmmaker but he has restored the nation’s honor by creating the most acerbic satire in kaiju history. After all, if you don’t have a decent monster to your name you’re really nobody on the Asian international scene. The Host puts Thailand and Garuda back at the bottom of the heap – and nobody wants to be at the bottom of a heap of giant monsters.
The challenge in reviewing the original 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers is, as with any film this seminal, to find something new to say. Click any random sampling of the forty-odd reviews listed on the IMDb and you’ll find a lot of the same words used: “classic,” “atmospheric,” “suspenseful.” Those things are all true, but too often the people who write about the film focus so much on the picture’s influence and subtext that they forget to mention how much fun it is to watch. Leave behind all those theories you’ve heard about the movie’s subtle warnings about the Communist party (or McCarthyism, or television, or whichever axe you want to grind) and concentrate instead on the important things in life – pretty girls, ’50s fashion, and a concept so eerie your skin starts crawling all on its own.
When watching King Kong (1976), it’s tough to not think of Godzilla (1998). Both were modern remakes of beloved monster classics. Both had lame scripts and a suspicious lack of big name stars despite big budget pedigrees. Most crucially, both used different special effects techniques than their predecessors to bring the monster to life. Where [...]
Picture this: it’s 1982 in the USA. Pictures like The Empire Strikes Back and E.T.: the Extraterrestrial are making money hand over fist. Plastic recreations of aliens and spaceships jam the store shelves and family rooms of the nation. Every kid in America imagines himself doing battle with a sword, either one like Conan the [...]
Three shorts from The H. P. Lovecraft Collection Vol. 3: Out of Mind: The Outsider (1994, by Aaron Vanek) takes a bit of the opening narration from the opening of Lovecraft’s story of the same name along with the final image from that story and melds it with one of the hoariest of the EC [...]
Giant monster enthusiasts don’t get their fancies tickled too often. Unlike those moviegoers with a penchant for zombie movies or alien invasion flicks, it’s not as if every year brings the kaiju aficionado a satisfying entry in the sub-genre of his choice. Each city-shaking film that does arrive is greeted with open arms and ready wallets—those of us with Godzilla fever just want to see some buildings knocked down and a good romper-stomper bout of mammoth fisticuffs before the credits roll.
Primeval is a movie that doesn’t quite know what it’s supposed to be. On one hand it’s a killer crocodile movie. On the other hand it’s a political thriller. It probably isn’t as good at being either as it should be. The dual nature of the movie is established in the first scene, where an [...]
That’s not to say Pulse doesn’t have scary bits. In fact, the first half hour or so is profoundly creepy. Three college students find out that a friend of theirs has committed suicide for no discernible reason. The dead guy left behind a computer disc that has images that appear to show his computer from across the room, as if it was somehow taking pictures of itself. One of the friends goes to the dead man’s apartment, and finds an odd smudge on the wall where the guy killed himself, and elsewhere in the apartment complex a door sealed with red tape. The friend opens the creepy sealed door and enters an incredibly creepy room, only to be stalked by a astoundingly creepy ghost. It’s all creepy, take my word for it. It’s also where the movie goes flying off tracks.
Stephen Colbert once noted that movies are nothing more than watered down trailers. Renaissance does that sentiment one better by being not only a watered-down version of its own trailer, but also a watered-down combination of several other movies. The trailer is enough to set the nerves of any sci-fi action junkie a-tingling — it’s a thrill ride of contrasty futuristic cityscapes, high-octane chase scenes, and ominous quotes from the movie — but actually watching the film is a far different experience.
The Sex Thief exists in one of those parallel universes where logic rarely applies and the most scurrilous elements of human nature reign over common sense. It would be easy to chalk that up to the fact that it’s a British sex comedy, but in good sex comedies such nonsense furthers the film’s humorous aims. [...]
One would think that Fangoria editor Michael Gingold has seen enough crappy horror movies to know when he was contributing to the problem, but Shadow: Dead Riot stands as testament to the opposite. It’s a good thing that a healthy fraction of the horror fan population seems to relish any movie with bare breasts, gore, and heavy metal tunes, because those are the only people who will give this picture’s investors a return on their money.
It’s a good time to be a fan of horror movies; slasher pics and creature features seem to ooze from every media outlet imaginable. You can download them from the web sites of indie filmmakers with an affinity for latex, or catch original Sci-Fi channel movies every week that feature screaming floozies running for their lives from half-baked CGI critters. Entire channels are dedicated to horror flicks old and new. Magazines line the racks offering glimpses of the classic monsters of yesteryear on the same pages as the bogeymen of today. Every so often that rarest of beasts crawls out of the motion picture factory that is Hollywood: a creature feature that manages to both frighten and entertain.
In case you didn’t know, Major Nelson dropped tabs. Yes, that’s right. No matter how clean-cut Larry Hagman seemed in I Dream of Jeannie, he was doing LSD, or so claims a new book about the series entitled Dreaming of Jeannie. And if you don’t want to accept that assertion without proof, we offer up [...]
If you’re a b-movie maker and you want to make a feature about a killer animal there are three factors you have to keep in mind. The first is how novel your animal is. While there are certain advantageous to following the pack, your movie will get more notice if it features an animal that [...]
Badder than Bruce Lee? Sonny Chiba may honestly be able to claim that title. Considering the timing of the Street Fighter films (all three were made in 1974, the year after Enter the Dragon), they were obviously inspired by the success of Lee’s films. But as funky and trashy as Enter the Dragon was, The [...]
Making fun of Turkish pop films is easy, and as Homer Simpson would point out, fun too. Maybe somewhere out there there’s someone who would insist on taking these movies seriously. That’s not me.
Even if you don’t know the name Bettie Page, you’ve probably seen her face or its likeness. Her appearance in dozens of pinup magazines and on postcards has ensured her familiarity; her reclusivness later in life cemented her cult status. In Teaserama, Page is the undisputed star of the show and the only reason to [...]
A review of Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny is, frankly, superfluous. If you’ve seen the series of television shorts upon which the film is based then you already know whether you want to see this picture. If you haven’t – well, to see the movie without knowledge of what came before would be to cheat yourself of the sweetest parts of the experience. All that remains is to confirm whether Kyle Gass and Jack Black can successfully translate their open-mic night characters from the small screen to the big one, and whether the jokes that killed in ten-minute chunks can be sustained over a ninety-minute feature.
In the 1960′s the influence of the James Bond films were inescapable. They were making so much money that it seemed like every film studio around the world wanted to get in on the action with their own international man of mystery. When the good people at the Japanese studio Toei decided to try their [...]
Taran and Gurgi. The Black Cauldron is something of a cinematic curiosity. Released in 1985, it was the only Disney animated film to receive a PG rating, and it came at a very dark time in the history of Disney’s animation studio. To date, it has only been released on video in England, and Disney [...]
Britain. Now, give or take a few years. A mysterious virus begins to spread around the world. Though very little is known about the symptoms of the virus or its origins, various governments issue quarantines and proclamations about the seriousness of the epidemic. The 24-hour news channels take to the streets of England, asking the [...]
Finally, Torchwood begins to fulfill its promise. I liked the first three episodes okay (well, two of them, at least), but “Cyberwoman” brings together the more adult approach of the show with fallout from the second series of Doctor Who. This is also the first episode that treats alien technology as a real threat. It [...]
Torchwood is the new spin-off of the new Doctor Who, and the fact that it’s aired three episodes already makes it three times as successful as the last Doctor Who spin-off, K9 and Company. The central characters in Torchwood are the members of the Cardiff branch of the titular organization. They include Capt. Jack Harkness [...]
In the seventh episode of Torchwood, “Greeks Bearing Gifts,” Toshiko is accosted in a bar by a woman who knows a lot more about Torchwood than anyone should. Though she should be more cautious, Toshiko is so relieved to have someone to talk to about her super-secret work that she lets the woman talk her into taking necklace that appears to let the wearer read other people’s minds. Oh, and she snogs with the woman quite a bit, which may be of equal importance.
In “Small Worlds”, the fifth episode of Torchwood, Captain Jack and the Torchwood team face the supernatural. What’s interesting is that unlike most occurrences of the supernatural in the Doctor Who universe no mundane or super-scientific explanation is given. Ghosts and Demons have shown up many times in Doctor Who (“Ghostlight,” “The Unquiet Dead,” “The Daemons,” “The Lucifer Pit”) but they almost always turn out to be aliens or the products of technobabble-heavy equipment. In “Small Worlds” all indications are that Torchwood is dealing with something truly outside the realm of science and consensual reality, or so Jack believes.
In the first ten minutes of The Young Nurses the audience witnesses three nude scenes, including a dream sequence in which a complete loser woos a beautiful woman. Impossibly, he wakes up to find the situation is even better than he dreamed. Sadly, we viewers will not wake up from The Young Nurses to find [...]
Zachariah proudly proclaims itself to be “the first electric Western.” We’re also pretty sure it could also honestly be advertised as “the last electric Western,” “the only electric Western,” “the best electric Western,” and perhaps most descriptively, “the worst electric western.” Zachariah is supposed to be a musical, but it doesn’t have all that many [...]