Friday, July 31, 2009

Night Tide (1963)

Night Tide

Written & Directed by Curtis Harrington

Dennis Hopper .... Johnny
Linda Lawson .... Mora
Gavin Muir .... Murdock


Johnny is a navy man who hails from Denver, Colorado, enjoying some time on the coast and away from the poop deck. He stops into a swingin' little jazz club and double-fists beer until he finds the courage to approach Mora, the brunette across the room. She doesn't seem interested in the least, but she allows him to walk her home. He even scores a date with her for the next morning. She cooks him breakfast—fish, of all things, to go along with the ocean theme of her apartment. In fact, it even turns out that she works as a carnival attraction, strapping on a fake tail and playing a mermaid for quarter-ante gawkers.


As their relationship blossoms, we get beach combing, interpretive dance, lots of coffee and the added plot twist that all of Mora's previous boyfriends have been killed mysteriously. Mora is, of course, the prime suspect. Johnny investigates and turns up what even the police couldn't: Mora supposedly belongs to an ancient race of murderous sea creatures! Johnny, of course, refuses to believe this and opts to stay with her despite the warnings of a psychic tea reader, a carnie family, Mora's adopted guardian, and even Mora herself. When she really does try to kill him, we're not surprised. Johnny realizes it's time to reevaluate both his belief system and his choice in women.



So…is she or isn't she a sea creature? Watch it for yourself if you really want to find out. I stopped caring shortly after the 45-minute mark.

This dull, dull fantasy is an actionless piece of “psychological terror.” The acting is decent enough, and it was great to see such a young Dennis Hopper, but ultimately his talents go to waste. No excitement, no intrigue, no thrills or chills: just a sailor, a mermaid, and a merry-go-round. For Hopper completists only. I know you're out there somewhere.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: Jazz at the Blue Grotto; The Skipper; Carnival barkers; Beach blanket bongo; Hand of a thief; Drunken stupor; Homoerotic massage (“You want me to pound you later?”);

BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: The title of this film comes from the last stanza of Edgar Allen Poe's Annabel Lee;


View the trailer below!


1963
Unrated
84 Minutes
Black & White
United States
English

Night Tide is currently ranked #78,771 in DVD's at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

--J/Metro

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The St. Francisville Experiment

The St. Francisville Experiment

Directed by Ted Nicolau

Madison Charap
Ryan Larson
Paul Carson
Tim Thompson
Paul Salamoff

A producer assembles a team of young specialists—a film student, a historian, a psychic and the team leader—to spend the night in the haunted St. Francisville estate and record their experiences in this fake documentary a la The Blair Witch Project. The terror in the house dates back to an old demented madam who tortured and conducted experiments on her illegal slaves and through the use of three video cameras, thermal scanners and carefully kept log books, the team's objective is to find proof of the hauntings.


It goes without saying that they find that proof and a whole lot more. In between bickering sessions, that is. And I didn't think that Ryan girl was ever going to stop whining.

Despite the sometimes mediocre acting and early clichés (falling chandeliers, characters jumping out and shouting “Boo”, psyche-out scares from cats and rats), this film does manage to capture a few seriously spooky moments, especially toward the end. It perhaps would have been more effective if it weren't quite as polished with the interstitial title cards and such, but I guess the filmmakers wanted to differentiate themselves from The Blair Witch on some level.



It's no marvel of low-budget film making but well worth a watch for those interested in indie spook shows.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: Ghost hunting home shopping network; Early sex change information; Prayer meeting; Dr. Giggles' medical bag; Ghostly gassy emanations; Illiterate spirits

2000
Rated PG-13
76 minutes
Color
United States
English

The St. Francisville Experiment is currently ranked #36,370 in DVD's at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

--J/Metro

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fritz the Cat (1972)

Fritz the Cat

Written by Robert Crumb (comic books) & Ralph Bakshi
Directed by Ralph Bakshi

Skip Hinnant .... Fritz the Cat (voice)


It's sometime in the 1960's and Fritz is your average everyday college student: young, horny and painfully dumb. He's also a cat, whose prime obsession is sex, and it matters not what species his partner is: cat, dog, fox…it's all just pussy to him. When an orgy at a pot-party gets out of control, Fritz inadvertently becomes a fugitive from the law. The exhilaration of life on the lam sends him out into the night, desperate for more kicks, and he finds himself at an all-black bar (whose patrons are portrayed, perhaps politically incorrectly, as crows). There, he hooks up with a zoot-suited hipster who takes him to Harlem. Fritz realizes the plight of the black man and tries to rally the troops, instead inciting the locals into a violent, bloody riot. In the aftermath, he and his girl Winston "bug out" for San Francisco. When their car breaks down in the desert, Fritz abandons her and strikes out on his own, hitches a ride with a bugged-out biker, and attends a secret meeting of revolutionaries. He realizes that free love is the only revolution he needs and we end on pretty much the same note as we began.



Fritz is good for a one-time watch, but not as good as it should have been. Bakshi truly isn't the animation genius many people will have you believe, but he does get kudos for tackling underground projects that major studios wouldn't touch. The plot, which seems to be based on two different Fritz comic book stories (Fritz Bugs Out and Fritz The No-Good, both of which were collected with a third story, Secret Agent For The CIA, in a 1969 trade paperback, which I'm proud to say I own a first-edition copy of), comes off as a bit too episodic and too loosely tied together. A tighter script could have gone a long way for this feature.



BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: Pig dick; Tie-dyed temple; Mickey Mouse; Bunny on a hog; Slapping the horse; bathroom orgy;

BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: Robert Crumb, who created Fritz The Cat for his series of underground comix, originally refused to sell the rights to the character. His wife, who had power-of-attorney, however, went behind his back and made the deal anyway; This was the first animated movie to receive an X rating;



View the trailer below!


1972
Rated X
78 Minutes
Color Animation
United States
English

Fritz the Cat is currently ranked #6,903 in DVD's at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

--J/Metro

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hell House: The Book of Samiel (2008)

Hell House: The Book of Samiel


Written by Jennifer Brugman, William Martin, and Jason D. Morris
Directed by Jason D. Morris
With music by Chris Heaven

Paul...Michael Anthony Carlisi
Dani...Sheila Kraics
Steve...Geof Libby
Sasha...Jessica Marie

This movie starts off simply enough: A psychic woman deals three tarot cards onto a table, pulling the Fool, the Tower, and the Devil--which, when you think about it, can't bode well for anybody. Sounds to me like some moron is going to a haunted house.

Four morons, actually: young (though not as young as they're pretending to be) Steve, Sasha, Paul and Dani. It seems there's an urban legend making its way through their small town about a high school couple who was murdered in their car out on Devil's Road. The murder is somehow connected to a the old Shively House, which, as luck would have it, is being brokered by Paul's real estate agent father. It doesn't take much effort to steal the keys from right beneath his father's drunken eyes, and then it's Hey!-Ho!-Let's Go!

The kids behave here just as you would expect them to, assuming you've seen a horror movie or two in your day. They act obnoxious, they scare each other, they take turns being possessed (or at least pretending to be possessed), they smoke some weed, they masturbate in the bathtub, they have some sex, and they engage in a few acts of innocent lesbianism.

Kids today, I tell you!

Well, lo and behold, the old Shively House is haunted! Who'da thunk!? In fact, it's a practical breeding ground for demonic ghosties and ghoulies who need a sacrifice or three to make their way into our world.

Or...something.

The storyline, such as it was, was more than a little hard to follow. There were a lot of side stories going on that never seemed properly explained or tied together in any sort of cohesive fashion. Most of my time during the movie was spent squinting at the screen, my mouth agape, attempting to make heads or tails out of the latest bumbling plot "intricacy".

The acting was a bit wooden at times, and the characters weren't properly fleshed out, despite the scriptwriters best efforts. The special effects were passable, but nothing spectacular. On the plus side, the score was pretty damn good at times.

A terrible score may very well ruin a good film, but a decent score in no way makes a bad film good, unfortunately. Try as I might to make myself enjoy Hell House--I do my best to support independent horror, dammit!--I just couldn't do it. I don't doubt that this team has a good movie somewhere in them...but this certainly wasn't it.

Maybe in the future?

You better consult the tarot.

Just don't pull the fool card.

2008
Not Rated
77 Minutes
Color
United States
English


View the trailer below!



The Brain Damage Films release of Hell House: The Book of Samiel doesn't drop until September 8th, 2009. In the meantime, you can visit the official website, learn more about the film at the IMDB, or preorder it today!

"If you don't believe me, you can fuck off sideways!"
--J/Metro

Thursday, July 23, 2009

See You Next Tuesday Coloring Book

This has nothing to do with any of the topics that I typically post on...

...but it was just too weird to pass up sharing.

And hey, I don't usually post on Thursdays, so just consider this an off-topic (and off-color) freebie.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ghost Lake (2004)

Ghost Lake
Written & Directed by Jay Woelfel

Rebecca Haster.... Tatum Adair
Stan James.... Timothy Prindle
Sheriff Dobbs.... Gregory Lee Kenyon
Flora.... Azure Sky Decker


When Rebecca decides to go out for a night on the town, a well-deserved break from caring for her ailing parents, tragedy strikes at her home. While she’s in the backseat of her car fucking a total stranger, they are busy dying a horrible death at the hands of a natural gas leak. Once the funerals are done and over with, Rebecca attempts to go back to her life as usual, but she’s overwhelmed with grief and guilt. Hoping to escape these haunting feelings, she flees to Rushford Lake, where her family used to spend their summers during happier times, but once she arrives, the haunting only becomes real. Luckily she falls into the arms of Stan, yet another total stranger, who can protect her…just so long as the police aren’t around.

According to local legend, every thirteen years on the thirteenth day of the month, somebody dies in the lake and their body disappears. Rebecca’s arrival at the lake meets up with the demise of the thirteenth such victim. Hmm…the thirteenth victim to die every thirteen years on the thirteenth day of the month. That’s a lot of bad numerology, and this combination of unlucky numbers culminates in an exodus of the dead.

Sound impressive? It’s not. Only Rebecca and Stan have the smallest iota of acting ability, while the rest of the cast, big and small, recite their lines like a third graders school pageant. The whole back story of the haunted lake is convoluted and unclear, making it difficult to make heads or tails of the past. The characters themselves aren’t even very likable—Rebecca seems quite promiscuous and possibly delusional—while the special effects are shoddy and cheap.

I will give it this: Ghost Lake delivers all the chills you would expect to find in a low-budget, no-talent film that relies too heavily on quick cuts, slow dissolves, split screen (!) action, squeaky wheelchairs, dying flashlights, poorly done CGI, and the old “is it real or is it a fantasy” fake-out. Which is, namely, no chills at all.

There were a number of deep philosophical moments, however, which I would like to share with you now. I mean, where else could you find gems like: “You don’t have to be alone to be lonely,” or “Reality can be magic,” and, my personal favorite, “Some people like to be depressed and alone, just so they can be alone and depressed.”

Wow…I think you just blew my mind.

2004
Rated R
111 minutes
Color
United States
English

Ghost Lake is currently ranked #69,714 in DVDs at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

"Understanding it doesn't matter. Surviving it does."
--J/Metro

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lusting Hours (1967)

Lusting Hours

Written & Directed by John & Lem Amero


lust, n. (ME. luster; AS. lust, desire, pleasure.)
1. overmastering desire; eagerness to possess or enjoy; as, a lust for power.
2. a desire to gratify the senses; bodily appetite.
3. (a) sexual desire; (b) excessive sexual desire, especially as seeking unrestrained gratification.
Although one would assume that this very astute definition given at the start of the film would suffice, the filmmakers seemed to think that the movie-going audience would also need a visual demonstration. Which is just as well, or this would have been the shortest dirty-ditty of all time...although it would seem oddly Warholian.

The movie is broken up into three parts. I shall break them down as we go.

Part One: House Girls
The narrator informs us that in rural areas, well, whoring ain't easy. Rather than push their fleshy wares on the street, small town hookers gather together in a farmhouse brothel and let the local Johns come to them. Once there, the men seem to have a plethora of options. They can purchase pornographic photographs (women in their lacy panties...how titillating!), they can have sex with them (mainly a whole lot of un-impassioned kissing), or they can watch the girls perform bad interpretative dance on stage.

I really can't help but wonder what the price list for such services would look like.

We're even treated to an inside look at the pornographer who supplies the photographs to this farmland floozy house, and see how his constant exposure to the naughty bits of the fairer sex have dulled his ability to enjoy visual stimulation, and he must then move onto the hard stuff ("the abyss of the unknown"). That is to say, gently flaying a fully clothed masseuse with a whip for $100.

Part Two: Street Girls
The title to this second chapter is rather misleading. It does, indeed, feature a Street Girl or two ("streetwalkers, hookers, hustlers, tarts, or prostitutes..."), but apart from one woman who takes a bath with her back to the camera while droning on about the woes of Big City Whoring and dropping odd little confessions ("Sometimes I drink so much coffee that I get all gassy in the stomach!"), the women are not highlighted here. Instead, it's the men that get most of the attention.

A gigolo is shown escorting around town a middle aged wealthy woman who desires companionship. The man gets a nominal fee for this service, but he gets paid a much larger amount if he agrees to "Play for Pay."

I fully expected this movie to gloss over the fact that most male prostitutes are hustlers as opposed to gigolos, meaning that they specialize in man-on-man action. So imagine my surprise when a "hidden camera" was set up in a men's room, showing how a hustler meets his clients, some of which are repressed gay males while others are simply "sailors who can't wait to get home." The hustler takes his customer back to a room and the camera lingers on the male-to-male massage even longer than on most of the female scenes, even going so far as to add a sensual soundtrack of SEXaphone jazz in the background. The narrator isn't afraid to ask the hard-hitting questions here, such as: "Is it possible for [a straight man] to sleep with men but still maintain a normal sex life?"

Cut to the hustler at home with his wife: a dominatrix transvestite with a whip.

Pure classic.

Part Three: Call Girls
Call girls are the high class hookers, those with nice apartments and expensive belongings, thanks to their connections with the underworld. Their Johns are just like everyone else, and in this segment they are treated almost respectfully by the narrator. They're just your average man, who use the Call Girls to do things that societal morals and mores won't allow them to do with their wives.

Such as watch topless dancing in an Italian restaurant.

I'm really not sure what the filmmakers were trying to do here. The whole ordeal is staged like a documentary, but it's obviously not. The narrator (co-director Lem Amero, credited here with the unlikely moniker of Gun Gun Sharper!) attempts to be serious and scholarly at all times, often condemning the participants as the camera pans and slobbers all over their saucy acts. It would seem that they were attempting to make a sexploitation film that could be passed off as educational, kind of like hiding razor blades in apples and giving them to Trick-or-Treaters.

Lusting Hours was dull in some spots, and absolutely wild and raucous in others. If you're a fan of the classic sleazy cheesies, or want to see how views and opinions of sexuality has changed over the years, you may want to give this one a try. If you're just looking for some old school porn, you better keep on a-lookin'.

View the trailer below!


1967
Unrated
Black and White
English
United States

Lusting Hours (triple-billed with Ultimate Degenerate and In Hot Blood) is currently ranked #50,779 in DVDs at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

--J/Metro

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cuddly Barnabas Collins!





How sweet!
--J/Metro

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dark Shadows Collection: Vol. 1 (1967)

The Dark Shadows Collection


Volume One


Created and Produced by Dan Curtis

Written by Joe Caldwell, Malcolm Marmorstein & Ron Sproat
Directed by Lela Swift & John Sedwick

Barnabas Collins--Jonathan Frid
Elizabeth Collins--Joan Bennett
David Collins--David Henesy
Roger Collins--Louis Edmonds
Victoria Winters--Alexandra Moltke
Willie Loomis--John Karlen
Jason McGuire--Dennis Patrick
Sam Evans--David Ford
Maggie Evans--Kathryn Leigh Scott

Dark Shadows debuted on June 27th 1966, a half-hour black-and-white gothic soap opera. Although it found an immediate fan base among viewers who were tired of the same old daytime dramas, it never truly became a hit until the introduction of the vampire Barnabas Collins, nearly a full year after the show premiered in the 210th episode.

Since this was when the ball really got rolling, MPI's Dark Shadow Collection Volume 1 starts the series with that episode in their DVD box set, giving you an approximately 15-minute wrap-up of all the prior episodes. It proves to be sufficient, amazingly enough, and within a couple episodes you're up to speed.

Victoria Winters works for the wealthy Collins family, tutoring the curious young David. Elizabeth, the matriarch of the family, is an eccentric shut-in who has not left her estate since her husband “disappeared” many years ago. Carolyn is Elizabeth's beautiful daughter who is preoccupied with learning about her father. Roger is Elizabeth's aristocratic and Frasier-esque brother, the father of David. Jason and Willie are a pair of criminals who know Elizabeth's secret—that she murdered her husband—and blackmail her into letting them live off of the Collins family wealth.

It's Willie who accidentally releases Barnabas from his tomb and he quickly becomes his thrall, doing whatever evil bidding he is asked. Barnabas arrives at the Collins family home and introduces himself as a long lost cousin. Soon he moves into an old house rotting on the estate and fixes it up to its former glory.

Carolyn presses her mother for information about her father and Elizabeth's secret is almost revealed. Jason, fearing that the rest of the family will grow suspicious of their arrangement, proposes that he and Elizabeth should be married. Reluctantly she accepts and sends the family reeling.

Meanwhile, the townsfolk are growing uneasy about a number of violent attacks against citizens and multiple farm animals have been found drained of the blood and only Barnabas, Willie and the viewer are privy to the truth. When Barnabas sets his eyes upon Maggie Evans, a waitress at the local diner, he is stricken with her and devises a plan to incorporate her into his life. When he feeds from her neck, she disappears from her father's house and runs to be with Barnabas. He brainwashes her into thinking that she is no longer Maggie Evans but instead Josette, his long-lost love.

Sounds like a decent enough plot, right? Well, it would be for a 90 minute film, but for a television series that runs approximately 20 hours (TWENTY!!), it wears a bit thin. A vast majority of the time there's really nothing going on, just a lot of pointless dialogue about things that have already been sufficiently covered in the past. Each episode contains perhaps 5 minutes of usefulness and 25 of overkill.

Keeping this in mind, Dark Shadows is obviously not for everyone, myself included. While I was initially drawn in by the vamp camp value of the show, by the end of the first disc the novelty had worn off and I was bored practically to tears. Dedicated horror hipster that I am, I pressed on…and on…and on. Some days, I thought it would never end.

However, if you're a fan of cheap sets, corny dialogue, melodramatic performances, vampiric double entendres, bumbling deliveries, molasses speed plotlines, pipe organ scoring, and the three C's of gothic horror (castles, cobblestones and cobwebs), then by all means check this show out. But don't say I didn't warn you.

April 17th 1967-July 9th 1967
30 minutes
Black & White
United States
English

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mondo Bizarro (1966)

Mondo Bizarro
Written by Bob Creese
Directed & Produced by Lee Frost


“To the worm in the cheese, the cheese is the universe. To the maggot in the cadaver, the cadaver is infinity. And to you, what is your world? How do you know what is beyond the beyond? Most of us don't even know what is behind the beyond.”
The narrator, who quotes a lot of wise men and philosophers in order to sound cultured despite the exploitative nature of the film, opens with this remark over an incredibly cheesy-looking model of the earth. He promises us a journey around the world that we won't forget…and away we go.

First stop is the east side of Chicago (how exotic!) where the cameramen have set up behind a 2-way mirror in a ladies dressing room, and while the credits roll we watch a number of women—who have no idea they're being recorded—try on outfits and underwear.

From there, we head to the Bahama's for a difficult to see voodoo ritual at nightfall. Rebellious youngsters strip down to their underwear, dance around a fire, and sacrifice an animal or two.

Next up is “the distant orient” of Japan, to see just what the legendary “special massages” really have to offer. It's not what you, or the American businessman paying good money to get one, are thinking.
Now, back to America to talk to the founder of Frederick's of Hollywood and watch a bunch of young lasses stroll around in their skivvies. What a great assortment of panties this guy has.

In Australia, we watch a man lie down on a bed of nails. Although his skin has been pierced, he does not bleed. To further demonstrate this, he forces a long carpet needle through his cheek and forearm with the same results. This, amazingly, looks genuine.

Germany holds nothing for us except a staged play about Nazis, in which a young girl is stripped and beaten onstage. The narrator all but calls the audience members Nazis as well.

And finally we're in Lebanon for the single longest (and most boring) segment involving an illegal sex-slave auction. We're supposed to be shocked when they auction off a male. The slaves are all nude, including the women, but everything below the waist has been edited out.

The majority of the footage, if not all of it, is obviously staged. That's not even the worst part. The worst part is that it's not even interesting! People dancing around a fire? FILM IT! A woman changing her shirt? FILM IT! An audience watching actors onstage? FILM IT! A man talking to another man in a car? FILM IT, GODDAMN IT! The only piece that held any actual interest for me was a segment in Los Angeles that covered the Vietnam war protests and the art scene, and even that isn't keeping with the spirit of what Mondo is supposed to be about. I mean, I don't care when this film was made, Hippie's aren't exotic. The narrator was a laugh to listen to, and at times the musical accompaniment was downright hilarious.

Mondo Bizarro comes double-billed with Mondo Freudo (by the same production team) on this Something Weird DVD release. Extra features include commentary by Johnny “Mr. Mondo” Legend and Hollywood Book & Poster Company's Eric Caidin; a 25 minute 8mm short called The Dungeon (in which a short old man dreams of the opportunity to act out his sadistic fantasies on his 4 beautiful neighbors, at one time available for purchase through the mail. It features full frontal nudity, to appease those upset with the censoring of the main feature); Gallery of Mondo Movie Exploitation At with Audio Oddities (a slideshow of Mondo posters and ads that plays with unrelated radio spots going in the background); and theatrical trailers for this film and 8 other Mondo features. Look for an easy to find Easter egg.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: Bra trouble; Marijuana for the gods; Hole in the middle; Blow it up; We just call it…L.A.; Whoa, they shaved back then?; That damned beeping;

1966
Unrated
75 minutes
Color/Black & White
United States
English

Mondo Bizarro (double-billed with Mondo Freudo) is currently ranked #102,191 in DVDs at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

--J/Metro

Friday, July 10, 2009

Julia by Peter Straub

Julia
By Peter Straub

Middle-aged Julia has left her overbearing husband Magnus out of fear for her life. And with good reason, seemingly: he seems to have been involved in the death of their young daughter some time before. The stress of this event had lead to Julia cracking up, and she spent a term locked up in a mental institution. In fact, she's fresh out of the hospital, so when she begins sensing ghostly emanations in her new home, we're not quite sure if they are genuine, or if they are merely figments of her fractured psyche.

These emanations quickly turn violent, and it doesn't take long for Magnus to track poor Julia down. It's difficult to tell who is the true danger: her estranged husband, or the ghost of a child who seems intricately connected to her own.

This isn't the first Peter Straub novel that I've read, not by a long shot. But it is his earliest novel that I've read, and it seems quite evident that at this point he had not yet found his voice. Not only is it free of the subtle poetry, jazz music and subterranean hipsterism that his later work has, but it is also a distinctly British ghost story--quite a feat for an American author.

But that's also the problem here. It's all atmosphere and moodiness, with very little shock or awe. Perhaps I could have enjoyed it more if I had started with this book, and read the others in order, witnessing Straub's evolution over the years. Instead, I found myself quite bored and frustrated. Going back to it, it seems as if he's putting on airs.

Julia is currently ranked #1167847 in Books at Amazon.com. Visit the author's official website, or buy the book today!

--J/Metro

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Godsend (2004)

 Godsend

Written by Mark Bomback
Directed by Nick Hamm

Paul Duncan....Greg Kinnear
Jessie Duncan....Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
Adam Duncan....Cameron Bright
Richard Wells....Robert Deniro


The Duncan’s are a loving family living in the sometimes-tough big city. Paul is a biology teacher, and a damn fine one, too; His wife Jessie is an up-and-coming photographer; and their 8 year old son Adam is your typical, if somewhat spoiled, youngster. But when a freak car-accident cuts Adam’s life tragically short, the grieving parents are approached by Dr. Richard Wells with an offer they can’t refuse. Wells has developed the means to clone human cells and place them in vitro, which would effectively find young Adam reborn. Granted, the procedure has never been performed on humans before (making Adam a suitable moniker for the first candidate), so it’s plausible that something somewhere along the way could go awry.

The Duncan’s accept the deal, and the new Adam does indeed appear exactly the same as the old, right down to the difficult delivery. But when he surpasses the age at which the original Adam died, he begins to suffer from night terrors and horrible nightmares involving another unseen boy calling himself Zachary. While Paul theorizes that these dreams are actually Adam recalling his previous life, Dr. Wells assures them that it is just a common sleep disorder that he will eventually grow out of. Whatever it is, it has startling effects on Adam’s behavior.

Robert Deniro plays the role of the brilliant scientist quite well, dropping the New York tough-guy shtick that comprises most of his usual repertoire. Rebecca Stamos is pleasant as ever to look at and admirably plays the concerned mother. Greg Kinnear also turns out a solid performance, playing the rather bland everyman quite convincingly because, well, that’s precisely what Greg Kinnear is. Cameron Bright could quite possibly turn into a gifted actor given time, and this film proves that.

The scientific jargon (inevitable in films of this sort) seemed convincing enough, at least to this layman. It’s an emotional trip right off the bat, made horrific by the ethical and moral questions that the concept raises. Only the dream sequences seem a bit heavy-handed at times, which is forgivable. The film comes off like a cross between Vanilla Sky, Flatliners and The Good Son, as written by Robin Cook. The ending falls apart, unfortunately, leaving us a bit disappointed. All in all, this film isn’t going to be winning any awards, but it’s not nearly as bad as many people write it off as being.

So if you had the chance to restore life using life, would you? To paraphrase Jessie Duncan, when it comes to the benefit of your family, sometimes ethics need to take a back seat.


View The Trailer Below!


2004
Rated PG-13
102 minutes
Color
United States/Canada
English

Godsend is currently ranked #59,076 in DVDs at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

--J/Metro

Monday, July 6, 2009

In My Skin (2002)

In My Skin

(DANS MA PEAU)

Written & Directed by Marina de Van

Marina de Van .... Esther
Laurent Lucas .... Vincent
Léa Drucker .... Sandrine
Thibault de Montalembert .... Daniel
Marc Rioufol .... Henri

After Esther, a young businesswoman, suffers from a minor fall that causes major injuries to her once-flawless legs, she develops an odd fascination with the wounds that may at first be construed as self-image problems. But as time goes on, we see this fascination develop into an obsession with not only the wounds themselves but the pain they cause and Esther slowly delves into the dark and all too real world of self-mutilation.
The adrenaline rush she gets from hurting herself seems to alleviate her stress, clear her mind and set things right in her head. But when her best friend Sandrine and her boyfriend Vincent discover what she's up to, they don't respond with the same level of enthusiasm but rather shock and concern. She assures them that it was a one time incident, won't ever happen again, but we watch as she separates herself from the rest of the world and succumbs to her new addiction.

At first the cutting is hidden in shadows, implied rather than strictly seen through clever camera angles but it comes to a boil in a scene in which Esther is out at a business dinner. It's an excellently constructed scene and stomach-wrenchingly difficult to watch, and it only gets better (or worse, depending) from there.
It's important to understand that this film does not glorify the subject matter. While it's true that in the beginning Esther's professional life begins to soar, this can be seen as the temporary relief granted from such actions. Quickly enough we see her whole life deteriorate and I guarantee that you will not walk away from this film wanting to cut yourself.

You won't even walk away from this film wanting to eat lunch.

The ending was a bit low-key for my tastes, but it suitably portrayed the loneliness and utter failure that the entire film was building up to. It's a dark and desperate look at a real-life problem taken to the extreme and one of the few films that have ever really brought the horror home, sitting right there next to me on the couch.

Fans of stark realism who don't mind reading the subtitles: see this film.


View the trailer below!


2002
Not Rated
93 minutes
Color
France
French (with English subtitles)

In My Skin is currently ranked #49,934 in DVD's at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

--J/Metro

Friday, July 3, 2009

God Told Me To (1976)

God Told Me To


Written & Directed by Larry Cohen

Tony Lo Bianco .... Peter J. Nicholas
Deborah Raffin .... Casey Forster
Sandy Dennis .... Martha Nicholas
Richard Lynch .... Bernard Phillips


Is it religious horror? A straight detective story? Science fiction? It's all three, actually, wrapping Catholic imagery, urban grit and alien invaders all together in one big bizarre burrito.

NYPD homicide detective Peter Nicholas is investigating a killing spree perpetrated by a sniper perched atop a water tower. When asked why he shot down the 14 people on the street below him, the sniper confides in Peter, "God told me to." Immediately after which he leaped to his death.
Other murders follow: A customer stabs a slew of people in a local supermarket; a police officer inexplicably guns down innocent bystanders at the St. Patrick's Day Parade; a family kills his wife and children. And when asked why, they all give the same response. "God told me to."

The only link between the crimes is eye witness reports of an androgynous long-haired hippie talking to each of the killers just prior to the murders. Nicholas has to hunt the hippie down to find out his involvement, along the way confronting his own religious perspective and faith and perhaps learning a thing or two about his past.
I had heard nothing but good things about this movie and so decided to give it a shot. It's an early effort by the man now most well known for Phone Booth and it shows, both films capturing urban paranoia quite well. The acting was good enough and the concept was so out there (farther out there than you realize until actually watching the film) that I have to give Larry Cohen props for that. The soundtrack—which consists mainly of religious chants and loud instrumentals—is overwhelming at times, especially during crucial scenes. A lot could have been benefited by making clever use of silence. However, my main problem is that this film doesn't know what it wants to be. I'm all for genre-blending in movies, but the trick is getting those genres to melt together into one form and not battle each other for dominance.

This Blue Underground DVD features a widescreen presentation of the film, commentary by Larry Cohen, the original theatrical trailer, 7 television spots, a poster & still gallery, and a written Larry Cohen biography & filmography.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: 22 deaths in the first 22 minutes; The carnival; Virgin births; Stabbed by a pimp; Buck naked in zero G's;

BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: Comedian and performance artist Andy Kaufman played the cop who began shooting at the parade;

ALSO KNOWN AS: Demon;


View the trailer below!


1976
Rated R
91 minutes
Color
United States
English

God Told Me To is currently ranked #76,353 in DVDs at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

--J/Metro

____________________
...and on a separate note, I would just like to say "Curse you, Blogger, and your untrustworthy scheduled posting feature!"

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Spider-Man and Transformers?

What the hell...?




--J/Metro

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