Throughout the 16 (!) years since GRINDHOUSE, there’s been talk about Eli Roth turning his fake trailer THANKSGIVING into a real movie. Now it’s finally here and the unexpected thing about it that might not have happened if he’d made it earlier (like when he was talking about it as a double feature with Edgar Wright’s DON’T) is that he didn’t repeat the grimy faux-‘80s style of the trailer. Instead he took the premise, a couple of kills and the climax and adapted them into a straight-faced, contemporary horror movie, almost like it’s the modern remake of the movie in the original trailer.
And I’m thankful for that it’s sweeter than pumpkin pie How do you like them sweet potatoes? I think it was a good choice.
It’s a holiday slasher movie in the year 2023, obviously it knows you know it’s silly, but it’s acting in good faith. It’s less of a comedy than JACK FROST or MACHETE. There’s kind of a post-SCREAM feel to it but it’s ‘80s in its construction. It asks okay, if this is the slasher movie for Thanksgiving then what are the things we gotta do? Pilgrims, turkeys, corn on the cob, potato mashers? As in the trailer, it’s set in Plymouth Massachusetts, there’s a killer in a pilgrim hat, there’s a parade where a guy in a turkey costume gets beheaded, people are tied up at a table and served a human cooked like a turkey. But now there’s also a story and characters and what not. (read the rest of this shit…)
Yeah, I know, I agree – John Woo’s THE KILLER is what we mean when we refer to “THE KILLER.” Where my KILLER tape at, etc. If we mean the Henry Silva one we say “that Henry Silva movie THE KILLER.” But now we also have to say “David Fincher’s THE KILLER.” And that’s okay. I never thought I’d be able to deal with there being two totally different Steve McQueens, but now I’m out there doing it every day. I believe we can get past this.
The title comes from Le Tueur, the name of the French comic book it’s based on. I don’t know it but it’s 13 volumes from 1998-2014, written by Matz and illustrated by Luc Jacamon. Matz (a.k.a. Alexis Nolent) also wrote Du Plomb Dans La Tete, which became Walter Hill’s BULLET TO THE HEAD. And he did another one called Cyclops that James Mangold was supposed to adapt in 2008, so that’s probly not happening anymore, but then again Fincher was first announced for this one way back in 2007. Anyway, it’s adapted by Andrew Kevin Walker, his first credited collaboration with Fincher since SE7EN, though he’s done rewrites on a bunch of them. (read the rest of this shit…)
TIKTIK: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES is a Filipino monster movie I came across on the medium of digital video disc. The box also calls it THE MONSTER CHRONICLES: TIKTIK. I had to watch it because I noticed it was written and directed by Erik Matti, whose 2018 action movie BUYBUST I loved (it’s the closest thing to a “Filipino THE RAID” that I know of) and then I watched his excellent crime drama ON THE JOB (2013).
TIKTIK came out the year before ON THE JOB, but it was well into Matti’s career – looks like it’s his twelfth film. Though it’s not nearly as broad, it reminds me a little of some of the Hong Kong horror comedies I’ve seen, because it’s about a relationship problem and a family and then a bunch of monster shit happens at the same time.
Makoy (Dingdong Dantes) is a cocky young man from Manila who comes to the boonies of Pulupandan wearing sunglasses, smoking cigarettes, talking abrasively, offending everybody. He came to try to make up with his pregnant girlfriend Sonia (Lovi Poe) after a fight. She went to stay with her parents, who he’s never met, and when he shows up Sonia’s mother Fely (Janice de Belen) hits him with a pan and chases him off. But he later runs into her father, Nestor (Joey Marquez, ON THE JOB), who is more welcoming and brings him along to buy a pig to roast for Sonia’s birthday party the next day. (read the rest of this shit…)
MEG 2: THE TRENCH is the silly followup to the silly first movie I casually enjoyed in 2018. Neither seems interested in reaching the status of “actual good movie,” which would be preferable, but both involve Jason Statham battling giant prehistoric sharks, among other dumb pleasures, so of course there is gonna be some amusement involved. And maybe it’s good to keep this kind of bullshit alive on a big screen budget. To me that’s way more fun than the SyFy Channel version.
In the first movie Statham’s character Jonas Taylor was an elite rescue diver, but this one opens with him infiltrating a boat to try to bust people for dumping radioactive waste (?). He fights some people and says some funny things to them and jumps off the boat (Statham trademark). I’m unclear what he was trying to accomplish, or if he succeeded, and I don’t believe this mission is connected to anything else in the movie. But I’m not complaining. I’m always up for a gratuitous action tangent. (read the rest of this shit…)
I think it’s safe to say that Olga Kurylenko is one of our reigning Queens of Action. She’s been in the trenches for many years, in many different sizes of roles and films (HITMAN, MAX PAYNE, QUANTUM OF SOLACE, SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS, OBLIVION, THE NOVEMBER MAN, SENTINELLE, THE PRINCESS, EXTRACTION II), and she only seems to get better and better, especially when she’s headlining.
Like some of her male counterparts she has unattainable looks but such a strong screen presence she can still read as tough and/or relatable. She’s often required to portray a wider range of emotions than the fellas usually are, while also looking good kicking and stabbing and scowling. And in the tradition of Scott Adkins and others, when they finally put her in one of the big super hero movies (BLACK WIDOW) they gave her kind of a ho-hum character unworthy of her abilities. So she’s definitely one of our people. (read the rest of this shit…)
As a movie viewer and person interested in the topic of Elvis Presley, I feel spoiled that within a year and a half we’ve gotten two really good Elvis movies from two very distinct directors. Sofia Coppola’s PRISCILLA doesn’t feel at all redundant coming after Baz Luhrmann’s ELVIS, because the perspective and approach are so different. Adapted from Priscilla Presley’s 1985 memoir Elvis and Me, it follows her from the time she met Elvis until the time she divorced him. Most of that shit Luhrmann had to do montages about is happening off camera while she’s left at Graceland waiting for him. (Also Colonel Parker, the narrator and magical puppet master of Luhrmann’s film, is just a guy on the other side of the phone in Coppola’s.)
Cailee Spaeny (young Lynn Cheney, VICE) plays Priscilla Beaulieu, 14-year-old American girl just minding her own business in a diner on the military base in Germany where her stepfather (Ari Cohen, BRUISER, IT, MOLLY’S GAME) is stationed when a soldier named Terry West (Luke Humphrey, John Bobbit in I WAS LORENA BOBBITT) introduces himself. He says he arranges the music on the base so he’s friends with Elvis, and he could introduce her to him because Elvis misses home and likes to meet other Americans. It takes some doing, but he convinces stepdad and mom (Dagmara Dominczyk, BOTTOMS) to let the kid go to a party. (read the rest of this shit…)
BABY ASSASSINS is a 2021 Japanese film that I really enjoyed on Hi-Yah! a while ago and it has a sequel coming out soon (it already played at Fantastic Fest), so I figured I better get off my ass and finish writing the review. This is a movie that has some really well-executed fighting and bloody violence, but it’s really not focused on action. It’s mostly a very dry comedy about the lives of two freshly-graduated-from-high-school roommates, Mahiro (Saori Izawa, stunt double in the last two RUROUNI KENSHINs and SNAKE EYES) and Chisato (Akari Takaishi, MY HAPPY MARRIAGE), whose “main job is killing.”
The movie opens in the back room of a convenience store, where Mahiro is badly interviewing for a job, which turns out to be an undercover mission to kill the manager. She shoots him and fights the rest of the staff on her way out, until Chisato shows up to help finish them off and joke about how annoying the manager was. Just a couple of friends getting through life together.
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Okay, it’s weird to post a review of a Halloween movie the week after Halloween, but what am I gonna do? I watched it on Halloween. These things take time to write, but not a whole year. I’m posting it now for the record.
The big horror movie phenomenon of Halloween season 2022 was TERRIFIER 2, the unrated gorefest and low budget box office sleeper. The hype caused me to catch up with the first TERRIFIER and then I survived the gauntlet of the sequel so I’m now a ticket-holding passenger on this grimy franchise about a sadistic, thankfully non-verbal, apparently supernatural clown who goes around horribly mutilating random people on Halloween, in ways that he finds amusing.
So this Halloween evening I decided to go back to the roots of the series. Like many aspiring horror directors before they’re able to get a feature film off the ground, makeup artist/writer/director/editor Damien Leone got his start creating horror shorts. The character of Art the Clown first appeared in his 2006 short The 9th Circle, before starring in the 2011 short also called Terrifier. (read the rest of this shit…)
JUSTICE NINJA STYLE is a shot-on-video but very enthusiastic independent action picture made in 1986 in the town of De Soto, Missouri (population 6,449 as of 2020), that came out on an extras-packed blu-ray earlier this year courtesy of the Vinegar Syndrome partner label VHShitfest.
Most of the regional movies like this that I’ve come across have been horror, and usually if those aren’t shot on film I turn them off, but I’m glad I gave this one a chance. It has the right balance of amateurishness, lack of self consciousness, underdog competence, and capturing of a particular time, place, and group of people, to be a fun one of these. And it soars by in 70 minutes (though the blu-ray includes a 15-minutes-longer alternate cut I didn’t get a chance to watch called NINJA THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR). (read the rest of this shit…)
Every Halloween if I’m able to I like to write an essay on one of the great horror movies. This particular one is very important to me in part because it’s the specific movie that turned me into a horror fan. I’ve written about it before but here I try to get at both why I still love it and how it speaks to me about the world today. Hopefully I’ve done it justice. Happy Halloween, everyone.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET begins either in the past or a dream. A montage plays inside a rectangle within the larger frame, in which the hands of Fred Krueger (Robert Englund, SLASHED DREAMS) construct what will be a major element of his iconography: his four-bladed right-hand glove. Maybe the thought at the time was that a horror movie couldn’t just jump out with a crazy weapon like that – they had to establish it.
The scene fades to black as the title comes up, and the next shot, of the blades cutting through fabric, fills the screen. We’re definitely in a dream as Tina (Amanda Wyss, FORCE: FIVE) runs from a white void into a flooded, steaming, labyrinthine boiler room where she’s stalked by Freddy, who calls her name, cackles, makes his (new?) claws squeal against metal like fingers on a chalkboard. Right when he grabs her she wakes up, escaping into reality, but she finds four slashes in her nightgown. (read the rest of this shit…)