The Visitor

A blogger level film critic doesn’t enjoy many all-expenses paid things. I read about Roger Ebert being sent to Cannes year after year. So far, that ‘aint happening here. But I can write and podcast stuff about movies here and get it off my chest. That is gratifying. I hope you enjoy. Listen in the player below to my audio movie review of “The Visitor” and a little banter as I am wont to do.

This is a fun movie I did an audio review of and I’m super happy to share this episode with you. One more banterism for you: what do you sppose movies would be like if we stopped paying money for comic book films? Just a thought. No judgement (at least not much). Now, to intro the epsiode:

I review this 70’s drive-in oddity. Episode includes a “bird walk” on the meaning of left and right wing that sort of flew in out of nowhere. I recorded and mixed this one on vacation at Stateline. You’re welcome.

The Visitor (1979)
Stridulum (original title)
R | 1h 48min | Horror, Sci-Fi | 21 November 1980 (USA)

The soul of a young girl with telekinetic powers becomes the prize in a fight between forces of God and the Devil.
Director: Giulio Paradisi (as Michael J. Paradise)
Writers: Luciano Comici (screenplay) (as Lou Comici), Robert Mundi (screenplay) (as Robert Mundy) | 2 more credits »
Stars: Mel Ferrer, Glenn Ford, Lance Henriksen

Most Beautiful Island

(A written and audio review) This is a last minute surprise for thriller/horror made in 2017. I watched it in utter delight, a really great film. Of course, I decided to share my enthusiasm with my voice, here on the podcast. I hope you enjoy. Listen to the episode on this film below. Below that is my written review.

Most Beautiful Island (2017)
1h 20min | Drama, Horror, Thriller | 3 November 2017 (USA)
Most Beautiful Island is a chilling portrait of an undocumented young woman’s struggle for survival as she finds redemption from a tortured past in a dangerous game.
Director: Ana Asensio
Writer: Ana Asensio
Stars: Ana Asensio, Natasha Romanova, David Little

A Dark Song (Written and Audio Review)

Horror movies have talked about love and loss before but not usually this deeply. The issues are so deep in fact, one might question whether they belong in a horror film. They exist just the same and while watching this film you don’t just see them on screen, you absorb them. The longing of the protagonist and her helper calling on the black arts becomes our own … “poor us,” as the ritual master says, in that sense. I also invite you to listen to my podcast below. (Continue reading the written version below the player)

A Dark Song (2016)
1h 40min | Drama, Horror | 28 April 2017 (USA)

A determined young woman and a damaged occultist risk their lives and souls to perform a dangerous ritual that will grant them what they want.
Director: Liam Gavin
Writer: Liam Gavin
Stars: Mark Huberman, Susan Loughnane, Steve Oram

I can sum up this, Liam Gavin’s directorial debut, by saying it moves way too slow for the first 3/4 but the last act is the stuff you take home to your nightmares. We needed the visuals in the first 3/4, they were sadly absent. I hope when Liam gets his next project he remembers that. I really can’t recommend this film to all horror fans because I found it nearly impossible to sit through but I might say if you have fast forward abilities, go to the final act. You’ll see things there you’ve never seen.

Back to non-spoiler territory: The protagonist has lost her son to occultists who ceremoniously murdered him. She pays another occultist to take her through rituals to enable her to talk to her guardian angel and her son to seek revenge. It’s gritty and you expect typical demonic stuff that only lightly comes. It is basically a hodgepodge character study of two dysfunctional people churning, tortured by desire and vegeance, seeking to call on the supernatural realm for relief … and failing. The end third is worth it. This is a movie to discuss, without a doubt. Watch for Liam Gavin’s future work as I will.

8/10

Swamp Thing & Them

(Audio and written review) “Swamp Thing” is a horror movie that at times may come across as a bit funny but it is meant as a serious film. It looks like a throw back to films like “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Continue reading my written review and/or listen to my podcast review below. In this case, the podcast has much more material. For example I do a short review of the foreign horror film “Them” in this episode. Listen in the player below and/or keep reading the review.

Swamp Thing (1982)
PG | 1h 31min | Horror, Sci-Fi | 19 February 1982 (USA)

After a violent incident with a special chemical, a research scientist is turned into a swamp plant monster.
Director: Wes Craven
Writers: Wes Craven, Len Wein (comic book)
Stars: Louis Jourdan, Adrienne Barbeau, Ray Wise

It’s from 1982 so there wasn’t that much of a challenge on films to have the perfect cgi and graphics. They did a pretty good job with effects anyway. It was direct by Wes Craven who we all know from a “Nightmare on Elm Scream” and “Scream” and many other beloved horror films. “Swamp Thing” is a Sci-Fi horror. It’s also a theme where the monster grabs the woman and she screams but the creature does not hurt the woman. We see a similar thing in “King Kong” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

We have a scientist who is trying to make something that will cure the whole world’s hunger problem. He’s a “good guy.” The chemical he is working on explodes in his face as bad men are seeking the formula. As a result, he become 1/2 man 1/2 animal. His suit is both rustic and great. By today’s cgi standards they could have done a lot better but it’s still great. At one point he throws a lot of people. This is done in a rustic and funny fashion, almost like 70’s television: the “A Team” and stuff like that.

The woman is Adrienne Barbeaux. She starts off homely but as she sheds clothing and starts to go on the run, she reveals that she is very hot! Never judge a book by its introduction!

So in this film, we get it all: a creature and a beautiful leading lady. I greatly enjoyed this film and give it an 8/10.

M.F.A. (Written & audio review)

On Netflix as of 4/11/2018. My Score: 7/10 Francesca Eastwood, yes the daughter, plays the glam graduate student of art who gets distracted by the crimes of others and chooses to cope with her trauma. I enjoyed this imperfect film. Listen to my audio review below and read my written review lower.

M.F.A. (2017)
Not Rated | 1h 32min | Thriller | 13 October 2017 (USA)

An art student taps into a rich source of creative inspiration after the accidental slaughter of her rapist. An unlikely vigilante emerges, set out to avenge college girls whose attackers walked free.
Director: Natalia Leite
Writer: Leah McKendrick
Stars: Francesca Eastwood, Clifton Collins Jr., Leah McKendrick

Pros: Francesca Eastwood, yes the daughter of Clint Eastwood, fronts this film of vengeance. It’s interesting to watch her struggle to improve her art and finally get recognition for it. Her facial expressions add to her acting abilities. In general, this film is fun to watch. Needed more good men, most are depicted as savages. The film remnded me a bit in tone of “American Mary” though not as body horror and not as gory.

Cons: Some of the material is non-credible. Suicides and covering tracks so well no one sees for a long time what is happening. The film assumes that most women would justify killing rapists. This is somewhat dealt with in the end but not completely. I wouldn’t call it horror it’s more of a thriller.

My Bloody Valentine

My score: 6/10. Now streaming on Amazon Prime. 90’s horror had a certain look about it that continued into the 00’s. IN this we see Kerr Smith pop up and in between the blood and gore, there’s an air of Dawson’s Creek that can’t be shaken. But this aint no creek, we’re in a mine now and there a killer loose.

My Bloody Valentine (2009)
R | 1h 41min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller | 16 January 2009 (USA)

Tom returns to his hometown on the tenth anniversary of the Valentine’s night massacre that claimed the lives of 22 people. Instead of a homecoming, Tom finds himself suspected of committing the murders, and it seems like his old flame is the only one that believes he’s innocent.
Director: Patrick Lussier
Writers: Todd Farmer (screenplay), Zane Smith (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Stars: Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, Kerr Smith

Pros: A lot of action and blood. There is some nudity and scenes that are no holds barred. The brutality is fun and for a horror movie, I feel like you get your money’s worth.

Cons: The story is weak and the characters are very developed. It’s quite formulaic borrowing from all the slasher classics. There is n deep creepiness, more just slice and dice. Watches like a Buffy the Vampire Slayer et. al.

I enjoyed this one but wouldn’t recommend it as scary or interesting, just slasher fun. 6/10.

A Quiet Place

My score: 10/10. Depeche Mode sang, “Enjoy the silence.” But I really don’t think anyone in this film is enjoying it. We are programmed to yell out when hurt, scared, or shocked. What would you do if that spelled your demise? This is the question I kept asking in in “A Quiet Place.” Listen to my 7 min review at the player below:

A Quiet Place (2018)
PG-13 | 1h 30min | Drama, Horror, Thriller | 6 April 2018 (USA)

A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.
Director: John Krasinski
Writers: Bryan Woods (screenplay by), Scott Beck (screenplay by) | 3 more credits »
Stars: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds

John Krasinski is our director and a great one indeed. This is a film of 90 minutes that I literally wanted to be a lot longer. Trust me, my patience for long movies is characteristically low. In this case, it was done so well, I wanted to know what the characters did after the first credits appeared. That doesn’t mean I am asking for a sequel by the way, far be that from me. The central premise of being hunted by sound is powerful and it works so well. After that, the foreshadowing and character development worked together to make this film amazing. Tip of the hat to Krasinkski, who also plays the dad/husband of this family. I am utterly impressed with his work here.

A lot of times these days in films, directors use the rule of less is more when it comes to their monsters. They only show parts of the monster ad then the audience uses their far more powerful imagination. We are given the “full creature” in many scenes and this really makes the film work. We have an idea what it can do and maybe how it can be destroyed. Needless to say I am very impressed also with the CGI of this film. This is mostly because it serves the story.

I kept thinking in this film I was in “Signs.” It was like the same barbecue with different meat. Signs is more of a metaphysical/religious film whereas this one is just suspense all the way. The ending of both are birds of a feather and both films have amazing writing that makes the film worthy.

The acting is equally astounding. Metacritic has given this film an 85 and I must say I disagree. This film should be closer to 100. Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck) steals the show. All cast members deserve awards but her work as the deaf loving daughter broke my heart and I am sure everyone else’s in the theater as well. She was amazing and I await great things from her in the future.

Emily Blunt pays the mother with so much to lose if the creatures hear her. You feel her tedium. Noah Jupe is the brave young brother who knows what to do in the cse of a creature attack. This is labeled horror but it’s a lot about family and sacrifice. It’s suspense above all and though it starts a bit slow, patient audiences will be rewarded. In case you couldn’t tell, I recommend this film and give it a 10/10.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

My score: 6/10. A complete rethinking of the original premise, this film probably let many viewers down. I mean, what other reason do you go see a Halloween film than to see Michael Myers in the mask. You won’t find him here. What you do get is a reimagined story involving robots like “Westworld” and a mind control campaign that utilizes television. Sound like a breed apart? It is.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
R | 1h 38min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi | 22 October 1982 (USA)
Halloween III: Season of the Witch Poster

Kids all over America want Silver Shamrock masks for Halloween. Doctor Daniel Challis seeks to uncover a plot by Silver Shamrock owner Conal Cochran.
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Writer: Tommy Lee Wallace
Stars: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O’Herlihy

Director Tommy Lee Wallace has done a lot of stuff since this film. None of it was blockbuster material but I find no fault in that. For example, he directed two episodes of the original made-for-tv “It.” Unfortunately, Halloween III lacks the sensibility of the original. The formula of “The Shape” (Michael Myers) coming back for more killing is the chilling premise that worked. It wasn’t broken so it shouldn’t have been changed.

This is a fun movie though. I see it on par with a “Child’s Play” or an episode of “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Indeed Halloween is the top of the hill for classic horror but there’s a long way to fall from there and still be a great movie. I give this one a 6/10.

Jennifer’s Body

This one came out 2009 but it looks a lot like a 90’s slasher. Jennifer is not who she once was. At times it’s funny at others it’s downright as scary as “I Know What You Did Last Summer” or “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” Despite the gore and the scare, the cheese factor is there.

Jennifer’s Body (2009)
R | 1h 42min | Comedy, Horror | 18 September 2009 (USA)

A newly possessed high school cheerleader turns into a succubus who specializes in killing her male classmates. Can her best friend put an end to the horror?
Director: Karyn Kusama
Writer: Diablo Cody
Stars: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Brody

This one is fun for watching Amanda Seyfried try and save the day from the evil Jennifer. They used to be friends, which is a part I found a little hard to believe. Jennifer is just too hot and apparently too stupid to pick a friend like that. This one was recommended to me by IMDB and I have to say, it really wasn’t my type. Some may like it for the high school shallow humor and slasher attitude. To me, it seemed like it dodn’t know what it was trying to be and that made it hard to stay focused. Sadly, I had to give it a 4/10.

The Woman

I hope you like Bob Dylan style singers because you’ll get that pretty much throughout this film. It’s ok, just a smattering of hatred against a certain type of male that beats and takes advantage of women. It’s cool to see Pollyanna McIntosh, she’s the real star here. You might know her from The Walking Dead, she’s the leader of the tribe that’s sort of with Negan then not. It appears she has only women on her team? That one.

The Woman (2011)
R | 1h 41min | Horror | 18 August 2011 (Australia)

When a successful country lawyer captures and attempts to “civilize” the last remaining member of a violent clan that has roamed the Northeast coast for decades, he puts the lives of his family in jeopardy.
Director: Lucky McKee
Writers: Jack Ketchum, Lucky McKee | 2 more credits »
Stars: Pollyanna McIntosh, Brandon Gerald Fuller, Lauren Ashley Carter

The woman needs its halfway mark before it really gets believable. Before that it looks like a day gone bad for an otherwise goofy husband and dad. The director Lucky McKee has a unique style in this one. In a way it reminds me of Rob Zombie only the music is more folk and upbeat. It’s a vengeance film about a woman who gets her vengeance. Some will enjoy it, I found tense for tenses sake and not really believable. For example, the stunt his son pulls? Would that happen? I guess that depends on how messed up you take the dad for right? Pretty good but annoying music and not much verisimilitude. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’ve seen a lot of horror movies and this one keeps being recommend to you (as it was to me.) 5/10.