Sometimes big time actors put on their serious pants and play a Nazi-era German protagonist. I don’t know if ego or decades spent in a celebrity bubble deprive these actors of common sense, but these movies occasionally get made, and there’s always an A-lister out there willing to play one of the 20th century’s most notorious bad guys. In Valkyrie, the 2008 film directed by Bryan Singer, that A-lister was Tom Cruise.
Going over Cruise’s public persona is a waste of time, but I do remember hearing about this film back in the year it was released, and thinking Cruise must be delusional about the amount of leeway movie audiences are willing to give him. There is only one man in Hollywood who can play a good World War II German, and that man is Liam Neeson. With any other actor and any other character other than Oskar Schindler, a film is walking a fine line. To stumble means embarrassment, at best, and career-threatening ostracization, at worst. With a degree of difficulty that high, who in their right mind would choose to star in a film such as Valkyrie? King Mapother, that’s who. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: Valkyrie”
Lance Henriksen is as old as dirt. He’s so old the primordial soup called him ‘daddy.’ He’s so old his grandkids had to teach him how to program the VCR. He’s so old he can tell the difference between Sarsaparilla and root beer. He’s so old…one gets the idea. In reality, he’s old but not that old. As of this writing, he’s 79. Well into old age, but not a doddering eldster, either. I bring this up because today’s horror flick, Black Ops, originally title Deadwater, was released straight to video in 2008, just a few weeks after the film’s star, Lance Henriksen, turned 68. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Black Ops, aka Deadwater”
I started out this review for a single film, and not two. But, about a half hour into watching The Eye (2008), I realized I couldn’t write a review without first watching The Eye (2002, original title Gin gwai), to see what the filmmakers of the newer version stole from the original. That’s because The Eye is not so much a remake of Gin gwai as it is another version. The only changes are on the surface.
Directed by the Pang Brothers (Danny and Oxide Chun), from a screenplay by the brothers and Yuet-Jan Hui, Gin gwai tells the story of Wong Kar Mun (Angelica Lee). When Mun was a toddler, an accident left her blinded. Now, as an adult, she undergoes cornea transplant surgery to restore her sight. Only, from the moment she first opens her eyes in a Hong Kong hospital, something isn’t right. There appears to be an extra person in the room when the bandages are removed. Her sight is very blurred, so she can’t make out more than a dark figure. It presages troubles to come. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Eye (2002) & The Eye (2008)”
2008 was another treat for Sylvester Stallone fans. After the success of Rocky Balboa, it was time to resurrect Sly’s second most popular alter ego. It had been 20 years since the last Rambo movie, and it was a sad end to the series. In the intervening years the Cold War came to a fortuitous close, and Rambo’s Mujahideen buddies from the third flick became America’s enemies. Never mind all that, though. Rambo doesn’t bother with any of America’s bugaboos, past or present. The bad guys in this flick are from Burma. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Rambo”
I never thought I would see anything personally familiar in a film that takes place in 1850s Ireland. I have never been to Ireland. I have never been to the 1850s. But I have been to Staten Island. If that makes no sense to you, dear reader, don’t worry. It will. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: I Sell the Dead”
I’ve seen plenty of bottle episodes in television, but not a lot of bottle movies. Enter Pontypool, a horror film out of Canada from 2008. In this movie, some type of outbreak is ravaging the town of Pontypool, Ontario in the middle of a raging snowstorm. The infected are murderous, making them zombie-like. They shuffle around and infect others, but they’re not after a meal, making these poor people more new-wave infected not-zombies than the traditional Romero undead. Anyway, that is what is going on in the town of Pontypool, but a viewer sees barely any of this, as the movie takes place almost entirely within the confines of a darkened radio studio. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Pontypool, or, Sydney Briar...is Alive”
From director Toby Wilkins, Splinter is the little horror movie that could. I love little horror films. Generally, filmmakers who are starting out or would otherwise never get a shot behind the camera end up helming horror flicks. It’s like a film rite of passage. Why horror took on this mantra, I have no idea. All I know is, thank goodness it wasn’t rom-coms. What a horrible universe it would truly be if Wes Craven was known for starting out as the director of The Last House on the Left, a movie about a young girl who finds herself in a love triangle with some lovable rogues from the big city. Or if John Carpenter changed the face of emotionally powerful family pictures with Halloween, the story of young Laurie Strode reuniting with her long-lost brother after a family tragedy separated the two on Halloween night, many years before. Or if Sam Raimi was the legendary director of Good Living, about two couples who discover the true meaning of love and sharing while vacationing at a rustic cabin in the woods. Blecchh!! Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Splinter”
It’s October, which means it’s time for the October Horrorshow, when Missile Test devotes the entire month to watching and reviewing horror films. All are welcome: the good, the bad, and the putrid. Today’s review is of the zombie comedy Dance of the Dead, written by Joe Ballarini and directed by Gregg Bishop, a pair of relative unknowns in the movie world. The only people even more anonymous than those who made Dance of the Dead are the actors and actresses who starred in it. But if there were such a thing as a little movie that could, Dance of the Dead up and did. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Dance of the Dead”
There’s a subgenre in horror/sci-fi cinema, where a limited number of people are trapped in a contained space and terrorized by some malevolent force. They are picked off, one by one, leading to climax and resolution. There may be a term for this, I don’t know. “Alien-type” maybe. I don’t really want to put the time in researching whether or not there is. After all, most of these films are awful. I did come up with an acronym, however. Arguably, more time was needed to come up with the acronym than researching terms for these dogs, but it was fun. So, from this review forward, films where a small cast is in a reclusive environment where everyone (almost) dies, will be referred to as SCREWED movies. That’s Small Cast, Reclusive Environment, Where Everyone (almost) Dies. How clever. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Quarantine”
Watching a Coen Brothers movie is sometimes like attending a blind tasting. There won’t be any swill waved under one’s nose, but just what is in the glass could be surprising, or disappointing.
Burn After Reading, the Coen brothers followup to their best picture winner, No Country for Old Men, has a very serious plot. A former CIA analyst named Osbourne Cox, played by John Malkovich, is writing a memoir of his days with the company. His wife, Katie (Tilda Swinton), is secretly pursuing a divorce, and makes a copy onto disc of files from his computer, including the memoir and some classified materials. A secretary at her lawyer’s firm loses the disc at a gym, where it is found and comes into the possession of Chad (Brad Pitt), a personal trainer. Chad enlists his colleague, Linda (Frances McDormand), in a scheme to extort money from Osbourne in exchange for the disc. Meanwhile, Katie is having an affair with Harry (George Clooney), a Treasury agent who, coincidentally, meets Linda through an online dating service. It’s complicated, and only gets more so when plans crisscross and things inevitably go awry. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Burn After Reading”