It must have been very easy and very difficult to make a science fiction movie in the late 70s. It was easy because after the success of “Star Wars,” studios were throwing money at anything with robots in it. But it was difficult because the genre was in a very weird place. Before “Star Wars,” big-budget sci-fi movies generally were thoughtful, philosophical works. But after “Star Wars,” the A-list sci-fi movie transformed into something more visceral. Movies with a message gave way to pure spectacle. “Logan’s Run” was pushed aside for “Flash Gordon.” “Saturn 3” tries to have it both ways. It wants to split the difference between “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Alien.” That’s how we get a movie in which Harvey Keitel accidentally teaches a robot how to be horny. Continue reading
If you’re a woman in a horror movie, yours is often a lonely existence. If you haven’t been hacked to pieces or eaten before the end of the movie, you’re probably the lone survivor of the killer’s rampage. Whether you climb into the back of a conveniently passing pickup truck, float out into the middle of the lake in a canoe or get saved at the last minute by Donald Pleasance, you’re the Final Girl. Your friends are all dead, and you have to make it through the last act of the movie all by yourself. Being a woman in a horror movie usually means you either become self-reliant, find a man to save you, or you die.
That’s a big part of the reason why I found “Patchwork” to be so refreshing, because it’s one of the rare horror movies I’ve seen where the focus is on the relationships between women. Even if it’s not entirely successful in that regard, it’s at least attempting something different. Rather than make its lead characters stronger by isolating them, “Patchwork” focuses on its women surviving by getting closer together. You literally can’t get any closer together than the women of “Patchwork” do, as a matter of fact. Continue reading
What’s shocking in “The Loch Ness Horror” isn’t that multiple people encounter the legendary beast – it’s that this apparently has never happened before. In real life, the Loch Ness Monster has been one of the great mysteries of the natural world for the simple reason that no one’s ever gotten a good look at it. In this movie, Nessie is far more likely to be found galumphing along the shores of the lake in broad daylight and clamping her rubbery teeth around someone’s head than posing for a blurry photograph. With her tendency to gobble up anyone who comes within a half-mile of Loch Ness while screaming and blowing steam out of her nostrils, it’s hard to believe scientists still know so little about her when the movie begins. Continue reading
“The Exorcist” was one of the most shocking movies ever made at the time of its release, but as transgressive as it was, there were lines even it did not dare to cross. For example, you never got to see Satan’s wang. But where Friedkin dared not tread, Frank LaLoggia and “Fear No Evil” boldly stake their claim. “Fear No Evil” is a movie that not only is brave enough to combine supernatural horror with some elements of “Grease,” but also is unafraid to depict Lucifer’s junk on screen for the world to see at last. Continue reading
The first line of spoken dialogue in “Creepozoids,” said within the first two minutes of the movie, is this: “Is somebody out there?” Within two minutes of that, a giant cockroach bursts into the room. That’s efficient. I appreciate a movie that doesn’t waste time like that. I’ve seen way too many monster movies that labor under the delusion that people watch them for real human drama and character work. “Creepozoids” was made by David DeCoteau, a protégé of Roger Corman and Charles Band, the latter being the mind behind series such as “Puppet Master,” “Gingerdead Man,” and “Evil Bong.” DeCoteau is also a veteran of the porn industry, so as a filmmaker he’s experienced at cutting to the chase. Continue reading
I didn’t realize “Eat and Run” had made any kind of impression on me at all until I saw the picture of its main monster on the VHS box recently. Years ago, when I was a kid and a voracious reader of movie reviews in the newspaper, certain movies just stuck with me because the critics’ plot descriptions made them memorable. That’s why it would be years before I ever worked up the courage to watch “Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge,” thanks to Gene Siskel’s description of Freddy tearing his way out of the main character’s chest.
The review for “Eat and Run” came complete with a picture of Murray, the movie’s alien maneater. Murray was fatter than any human being I had ever seen in my life up to that point, so much so that I assumed he was some kind of Jim Henson puppet, and his bald head and shark-like mouth made me imagine a movie in which this mountain of flesh and teeth would be tearing people into bloody ribbons. It terrified me for days. So when I found the movie this week, the plot sounded familiar, but the sight of that creature on the box made it official. I had to see this movie at last. Continue reading
We’re living in a time of uninspired movie titles. Part of that is because the major studios are so fixated on building franchises that they approach movie titles the same way McDonald’s approaches naming menu items. (“Jalapeno McChicken” vs. “Marvel’s Ant-Man,” for example.) Part of it is because streaming services’ recommendation algorithms do a lot of the studios’ marketing work these days. Part of it might also be because there’s just less creativity at work in the movies these days, although I hope that’s not the case. In any event, they don’t make movie titles or movies like “Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh” anymore. Continue reading
Earlier this year, there was a minor outrage directed at a dopey-looking dog movie because someone leaked a video that made it look like a dog was pushed into a water tank against his will to make it look like he was swimming. That bit of behind-the-scenes mistreatment is nothing compared to “Wild Beasts,” where what was filmed is often so appalling and cruel that you shudder to think what was going on when the cameras weren’t rolling. “Wild Beasts” is the first horror movie I’ve seen where what happens in the movie isn’t nearly as stomach-churning as thinking about how they must have gotten it on film. “Wild Beasts” is an Italian production shot in Germany, and my theory is they did this because the producers figured that by the time the authorities figured out whose jurisdiction it was under, they would have the movie in the can.
I have to assume that the people who made “Blue Monkey” intended it to be a withering screed against the Canadian healthcare system. Yes, the movie points out that the hospital it takes place in was built around the time of the Civil War and they reference Washington D.C., but this movie is very obviously Canadian well before the credits thank the good people of Ontario. The presence of Joe Flaherty is enough on its own, but there’s also the way all the characters say “oat” when they mean “out.” So, when a string of administrative blunders in this hospital leads to a giant grasshopper ripping people’s heads off, it’s hard not to think there might be some veiled commentary about the socialized medicine of our northern neighbors.
“Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” was guaranteed to be a perennial entry on numerous “worst movies ever made” lists even if a single frame of it had never been shot. The kindergarten-joke-book nature of the title ensured that it would be an easy target for the likes of Michael and Harry Medved’s “Golden Turkey Awards” and other fans of “so bad it’s good” cinema. Everything you need to know about what kind of a movie this is can be found right there in the title, so it wouldn’t be too surprising if a lot of the people who rank it up there with “Plan 9 From Outer Space” actually haven’t seen it. To say “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” is one of the “worst movies ever made” only indicates that you need to see more movies. Continue reading