(may contain traces of spoilers)
THE SHAPE OF WATER is kinda like Guillermo del Toro’s version of AMELIE, and obviously in his version Amelie fucks a sea monster. Sally Hawkins (NEVER LET ME GO, GODZILLA) plays Elisa, a mute (but not deaf) lady living a quirky life in Cold War era Baltimore. Her apartment is above a beautiful one-screen movie theater showing THE STORY OF RUTH. Her next door neighbor and best friend Giles (Richard Jenkins, BLUE STEEL) is a gay painter of magazine advertisements who lives with a bunch of cats. In the opening scene, a nearby chocolate factory is on fire, so he’s even given an impression of how the place smells (shoulda seen it in 4DX).
Elisa’s job is mopping floors in an aerospace research lab, and one night the bosses bring in “The Asset” (Doug Jones, FANTASTIC 4: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER), a creature from the unspecified lagoon in a metal tube, for top secret experiments. Elisa and her co-worker friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer, HALLOWEEN II, DRAG ME TO HELL) don’t see it at first, but they hear its roar and have to clean up its bloody mess when it removes two fingers from sadistic head of security Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon, BAD BOYS II) without getting his permission.
We all know del Toro loves his creatures, and we’ll get to that. He also delights in contrasting them against depraved monsters of the human variety. Strickland is one of these, an aggressive bully who likes to talk about “signs of weak character” and the brand and stats of the cattle prod he carries around. You know you’re a bad person if you have a little speech prepared about your favorite candy that you can suddenly go into while intimidating somebody so they’ll think “Oh good, he changed the subject to candy all the sudden, I don’t understand why but maybe we are going to eat candy now or something” and then “Oh no, I should’ve known, he only brought up the candy as an analogy for his philosophy of brutal torture.” (read the rest of this shit…)
In TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA, grizzled poncho wearing already-played-The-Man-With-No-Name Clint Eastwood stumbles across a lady about to be gang raped in a Mexican desert. He rescues her with his gun and a stick of dynamite and when she puts her clothes back on it’s a damn nun’s habit!
She is Sister Sara (Shirley MacLaine) and, although she’s headed in the opposite direction of Clint’s character Hogan, she ends up getting his protection. The joke of the title was completely over my head until I read about it, but she has one mule and then Hogan is metaphorically the second one. She confesses to him that the French soldiers in the area are looking for her because she was caught raising money for the Mexican army. She hates what these colonialists are doing to the locals.
(Some of the things I’ve read say that Sister Sara was scripted as Mexican. If MacLaine was supposed to be playing it that way I sure didn’t pick up on it.)
Hogan, it turns out, is sort of like Benicio Del Toro in THE LAST JEDI, he doesn’t believe in taking sides (he’s a civil war vet and thinks that makes him a sucker) but he had agreed to a job blowing up a French garrison because he’d get to keep half of their treasury. (read the rest of this shit…)
Mr. Majestyk suggested a new post that everyone can respond to with their random business while the RECENT COMMENTS sidebar is broken. Good idea, so here it is. Have at it!
Happy New Year, everybody. I’ll have some good new shit for you after the holiday, I promise.
SKYLINE is an alien invasion movie that I haven’t seen and never heard anything good about, but now there’s a sequel on VOD called BEYOND SKYLINE, and it has Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian from THE RAID in supporting roles. The fact of the matter is if they put those two in a movie then there’s a high chance I’m gonna watch it. I mean if it gets to the point where they’re doing non-fighting cameos in Sandra Bullock relationship dramas or wacky ironic “grindhouse” movies with Danny Trejo and Sid Haig then my dedication will be tested. But for now it’s a pretty effective hook.
A better reason to watch it is the actual lead, Frank Grillo. Chances are you either already love him or are unfamiliar with his recent ascension to torch-bearer of a certain masculine ideal. He caught my eye in THE GREY and WARRIOR, and he was the main villain in the Chinese smash WOLF WARRIOR 2, but generally when he gets into big movies it’s like secondary villain in CAPTAIN AMERICA 2 and 3 or “Squadron Commanding Officer” in ZERO DARK THIRTY. You gotta go a little lowbrow like THE PURGE: ANARCHY to see him as full-on leading man.
Grillo’s rugged charisma anchors this messy, ambitious low budget special effects showcase. He plays an LAPD detective who, you will be in no way surprised to hear, is currently suspended because he’s been drinking so much since the death of his wife. When his partner Garcia (Jacob Vargas, THE PRINCIPAL) tells him “You look worse than I imagined” it’s kinda funny because Garcia is a bit of a slob but Mark is chiseled and well-groomed. (At least it’s not the standard “You look like shit.”) (read the rest of this shit…)
Happy Boxing Day to all of the boxers out there. I have a new review today that to be frankly honest is not gonna be very exciting for anybody because it’s a total obscurity that you never heard of and I’m not recommending it. But for some reason I wrote it, so I thought I should post it before it’s 2018 and I have to stop using the Slasher Search 2017 logo.
Ordinarily when I’m slasher searching I pin my hopes on movies from the ’80s. That was the prime time for filmatists to have caught the bug from HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH, before they stopped the outbreak of Tom Savini fever and everything got too clean and slick and bland. If a slasher movie came out in the 2000s and I never heard of it I gotta assume it doesn’t have any of the things I’m looking for in the genre.
But I found this random one from 2005 that had a quote from the late great Dan O’Bannon on the box:
“…A CUT ABOVE THE COMPETITION… A THINKING MAN’S SLASHER FILM.”
So I decided to give it a shot. You can’t blame a guy for trying.
At first it’s unclear if there will actually be a slasher involved. The premise (explained concisely in first person narration at the beginning) is that Cassandra (Bobbie Jo Westphal, WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP) once dreamt of her mother being murdered, and then what she dreamed really happened. Now she’s having dreams of old friends from school dying, so she’s invited them to an old farm house to try to keep these prophecies from coming true. (read the rest of this shit…)
Sometimes it takes me a while to get around to a movie, which I can prove because I seriously have been meaning to see this movie SHEITAN since it was the hot new horror movie out of France, and that was 11 years ago!
It’s about a group of young horny deadbeats – Bart (Olivier Barthelemy, MESRINE PART 2: PUBLIC ENEMY #1), Thai (Nicolas Le Phat Tan, no other credits) and Ladj (Ladj Ly, OUR DAY WILL COME) – who go clubbing on Christmas Eve Eve. They have no money and might get kicked out for not buying drinks, and they hassle their poor bartender friend Yasmine (Leila Bekhti, MESRINE PART 1: KILLER INSTINCT, A PROPHET) trying to get freebies. Bart is the biggest pain in the ass though because he hits on a girl who’s with her boyfriend, calls her an “ugly skank” when she won’t give him her phone number, ends up starting a fight and getting hit over the head with a bottle by a bouncer before getting thrown out. Well deserved.
But Yasmine introduced them to her childhood friend Eve (Roxane Mesquida, RUBBER) who sexy-dances with Thai and is super hot so these doofuses are all sniffing around her and are very amenable when she suggests “We can go to my place, in the country.” And they don’t know they’re in a horror movie, so they don’t know NEVER GO TO ANYBODY’S PLACE OUT IN THE COUNTRY. EVER! (read the rest of this shit…)
Sometimes you want a great Christmas movie, sometimes you want ELVES. This is a crappy still-only-on-VHS one, but it’s pretty fun. Two things you should know:
1. The title is completely fraudulent. There’s only one elf in it.
2. It’s a pretty different interpretation of elves from ELF or something like that. In this version he has nothing to do with helping Santa Claus. He’s a monster created by Nazi occultists to mate with a human and create the master race. On Christmas.
Our heroine is Kirsten, played by Julie Austin (EXTREME JUSTICE, TWISTED JUSTICE [that’s two titles, although it would also be cool as one title]). She’s either a teenager or a young adult who’s a waitress at a department store “snack bar,” hates Christmas and wants it to snow. She doesn’t know that her grandfather (Borah Silver, BLUE COLLAR, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK) is a Nazi who buried an elf out in the woods and also is her father and that she was inbred to be “perfect” because she’s the one who’s supposed to mate with the elf on Christmas Eve. Which are all things that are important to know. (read the rest of this shit…)
BETTER WATCH OUT is a non-supernatural, non-Killer-Santa Christmas horror movie with a fun feel to it, but with deeply uncomfortable undertones. Or maybe it’s overtones. In fact I’m gonna say it’s deeply uncomfortable overtones and undertones with just a thin layer in the middle of that fun feeling I mentioned. It’s not particularly gruesome or anything, it’s just that the psychology of the villainy is fucked up in a way that got under my skin. There is a physical threat, but it’s more about creeping you out that there are people out there who think like this.
It mostly stars the youths. There’s the kid that played Peter Pan in PAN (Levi Miller) and the two kids from THE VISIT (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould). There are other characters, like Patrick Warburton (THE WOMAN CHASER) and Virginia Madsen (CANDYMAN) as the parents of Miller’s character, but much of the movie is just between those three kids. (read the rest of this shit…)
This is an ALL SPOILER review, written assuming that everybody has seen THE LAST JEDI before reading.
* * *
If you’re not familiar with my take on the Star Wars, I’m a devout follower, but a heretic. I’m out of step with the mainstream because I hold George Lucas in high regard and I prefer the innovation, ideas and idiosyncrasies of his prequels to Disney’s more polished and socially acceptable continuations (though I like those too).
I’ve also been pretty alone in my skepticism about director Rian Johnson. That might be overstating it – I thought BRICK was very well made and I did like LOOPER – but some of the ideas are a little corny to me, and I never related to the effusive praise from my friends and colleagues. So I wasn’t over-the-forest-moon about him doing a Star War.
After THE LAST JEDI, though, I’m sold. And worried about him not doing the next one. In his capacity as the first sole-writer-and-director on a Star War since Lucas, Johnson succeeds in so much more than I could’ve hoped: continuing and deepening the characters from THE FORCE AWAKENS, bringing back Luke Skywalker for a powerful completion to his arc, thrillingly upending some of our expectations, putting a personal mark on the world of Star Wars, and saying new things about the meaning of the saga as a whole and its application to the world. Also there are some weird new creatures, and Luke milks one of them. (read the rest of this shit…)
THE LAND is a movie that played Sundance last year, that I watched because its writer-director, Steven Caple, Jr., was just announced as the director of CREED 2. And I hate to start out a review this way, but it’s fucking 2017, so… I need to say that I’m not sure where we’re at on Sylvester Stallone. Horrible allegations were published, but not in one of these exhaustively researched and backed up pieces that have taken down Harvey Weinstein and others – this was in the tabloid the Daily Mail. The only additional reporting I’ve seen was on TMZ, in a post where Stallone’s ex-wife Brigitte Nielsen swears it could never have happened, and a person said in the Mail story to have introduced Stallone to a fan denies that he ever did or would have done anything like that. More significantly, TMZ says that Vegas police do not have a record of the police report that was the entire basis of the Daily Mail story. But they offer no further details and I have seen no followups from any serious journalists.
Stallone’s work means so much to me that obviously I would prefer to live in the world where he’s officially cleared of being a piece of shit. But if the unidentified accuser in the Mail story really exists, I don’t want any part in debating what she says happened. So I don’t know what to do on this one.
In the happy world where everything is fine, the CREED sequel is my most anticipated movie. So forgive me if this is wrong, but I have allowed myself to have some excitement for it. The other day it was announced that Michael B. Jordan and Stallone had chosen Caple Jr. to direct on the strength of his debut THE LAND. Obviously I was curious, so I rented it. (read the rest of this shit…)