October Horrorshow: Virus (1999)

Once upon a time, the moviegoing public wasn’t assaulted by an endless stream of comic book movies from Marvel and DC. Back in the dark days of 1999, the Batman cinematic franchise was on life support after Joel Schumacher finished with it, and Marvel’s properties had been farmed out to Sony. The only two movies of any significance based on comics that year was Mystery Men, which was a big budget flop, and Virus, which was an even bigger big budget flop. Both of these titles came from Dark Horse Entertainment, and may have a lot to do with the slow pace of further adaptations from the Dark Horse stable, when compared with what Marvel and DC are doing. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Virus (1999)”

October Horrorshow: Lake Placid

Giant animal flicks have had a resurgence of late, thanks to the adventurous executives over at SyFy. Every week seems to see the introduction of a new Asylum or Roger Corman b-movie with gruel-thin plots and awful CGI. These movies fill a niche, sure, but while some viewers find these movies’ intentional cheapness a main draw, endearing even, most are such amateurish productions that they are unwatchable. That’s a shame. Flicks such as Dinoshark or Mega Python vs. Gatoroid share a pedigree with Them! and The Beginning of the End, but while Bert I. Gordon could never be accused of being a great filmmaker, his silly movies are still watchable 60 years later. These newest monster flicks are just putrid, marring what can be a very dynamic subgenre of sci-fi/horror. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Lake Placid”

October Horrorshow: The Blair Witch Project

The last time I saw this movie, before watching it for this review, was the night it opened at the Angelika on Houston St. in 1999. That was my first summer in New York City. I was young, poor, and my eyes still boggled at the sights of the big city. The future was so bright that I didn’t mind the cumulative petty annoyances that make living in a city a daily trial. I was hooked. I was in love. I didn’t mind that with the bright lights and creative people came a dastardly assault on the senses. The piercing screech of a 6 train entering Union Square was just a touch of realism, even as blood trickled from my ruptured ear drums. The sweltering summer heat cooking a bouquet of urine and dead fish from the city’s sidewalks was a small price to pay for urban dynamism. A strong scent is the mark of a people’s presence, and there can’t be a great city without lots and lots of people. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Blair Witch Project”

Schwarzenegger Month: End of Days

I blame David Fincher, Andrew Kevin Walker, and Arthur Max for End of Days. Had those three not done such stellar work on the movie Seven, Fincher directing, Walker writing, and Max doing the production design, there would not have been a flood of pale imitations that hit the market. End of Days is not about a serial killer, but it has a drained, desolate look and feel that just didn’t exist in film before Seven. And the thing is, this movie is a bit of a laugher, but it looks so bleak that at times I felt like I was laughing at a funeral. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: End of Days”

The Empty Balcony: The Boondock Saints

Every person, whether they be a casual movie viewer, or enough of a film buff that they have written tens of thousands of words about film (heh heh), has holes in their experience of film. There are a lot of movies out there, and there is just not enough time in the day to watch them all. The Boondock Saints is a case in point. Until last night, I had never seen this film, even though it’s on the must-see list for white males of my generation. If I had grown up in the Boston area, I’m sure I would have seen it before now, as watching it is positively de rigueur up there. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: The Boondock Saints”

October Horrorshow: The Haunting (1999), or, Think of the Children!

When I imagine Purgatory, I have a fairly concrete vision in mind. I’m standing on a New York City subway platform during the morning rush hour. It’s August. The heat is stifling, and I had a twenty-minute walk just to reach the station. By the time I find myself standing in the stagnant air, waiting for the next train, I’m pouring sweat. During the night, some bum defecated on the platform and its ripe smell has been added to the unique bouquet of rot and brake dust that gives the New York subway an odor all its own — truly something unique the world over. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Haunting (1999), or, Think of the Children!”

October Horrorshow: Deep Blue Sea

There are some serious contenders on the short list of Official Movie of Shitty Movie Sundays. Alien: Resurrection holds the crown by default, but challengers include stalwart paragons of shittiness such as Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and Reign of Fire. Both of those films differ from Alien: Resurrection in one important aspect: they are fun. Alien: Resurrection is an overwrought chore of a film. It has none of the loose bravura of Spacehunter or the hilariously over the top seriousness of Reign of Fire. Why then, does Alien: Resurrection continue to hold the crown? Because it was first. Someday I’ll tire of using Alien: Resurrection as my prototype. For now, long live the king. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Deep Blue Sea”

October Horrorshow: From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money

Listen closely at night and you should be able to hear the sound of the flapping of leathery wings. It’s October, when vampires in Chiroptera guise search for blood. And why not? October is the month of Halloween, and Missile Test is celebrating by reviewing horror films all month. It doesn’t matter if a film is good, bad, or so awful it would be better if all copies were burnt. If there’s blood, it gets a fair hearing. Today’s movie is a real dog born from a recent classic. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money”

The Empty Balcony: Three Kings

There haven’t been that many films made about the Persian Gulf War. A quick search in the tubes only turned up a handful. A quick, forgetful war (from the American perspective, anyway), there would have been no real lasting impact on American society wrought by the conflict had it not been for our recent misadventures in the desert. We tore a bloody swath through Kuwait and Iraq for one hundred hours in 1991, and came home intact and victorious. We seemed to dictate everything that happened on the ground and in the air. The war was fought on our terms completely. Mistakes were few, casualties were few, while damage inflicted on the enemy was severe. We decided when it began, and we decided when it was over. For us, it was the perfect war. Our only problem was we failed to recognize that the enemies of the future could learn lessons from it. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Three Kings”

The Empty Balcony: The Matrix

Science fiction is not only the province where the wonder of our imaginations resides, it is also where nagging fear for the safety of mankind finds a home. The best science fiction stretches human timelines to the unbelievable. Also, it reminds us of what is possible. Because we can imagine it, it follows that eventually, it will be done. Some time in the future we will gaze upward at foreign skies with unfamiliar constellations, Sol but one of the infinite dots twinkling in a new sky. We will wander so far from our home for so long it will become legend, rumored to have once been an unthinkable place where thousands of generations could only dream of seizing the stars, when light years were vast and distance still had meaning. It’s possible. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: The Matrix”