If one is looking for a realistic World War Two movie, look elsewhere. Overlord takes all of its war visuals and scenarios from Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, to the point of thievery, but all that is just backdrop to the story. What this movie is really about are Nazi monster super-soldier experiments, and the small squad of American paratroopers who put a stop to it. It’s bloody, full of gore, and, somehow, works as a serious tale with no absurdity. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Overlord”
What a disappointing mess. There are a bunch of solid ideas in Ghosts of War, the new horror flick from writer/director Eric Bress. It’s the execution that is lacking.
The film takes place during World War Two, after the Allies have invaded France. A squad of paratroopers, led by Chris (Brenton Thwaites), is assigned to guard a French chateau that had been used by the Nazis. On the short journey to the chateau, we meet the other members of the squad. They are boilerplate WW2 movie characters. There’s the tough guy, Butchie (Alan Ritchson); the smart guy, Eugene (Skylar Astin), the tough from the city, Kirk (Theo Rossi), and the soft-spoken but lethal southerner, Tappert (Kyle Gallner). Accents and attitudes are used to establish their war flick bona fides, and then viewers see them committing a few war crimes before they arrive at the chateau. War is hell, right? Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Ghosts of War”
I dig horror flicks set aboard abandoned and adrift ships. The real stories of the Mary Celeste and other vessels, found at sea with no one aboard, make for fascinating mysteries. Add in the supernatural, and abandoned ships become excellent locations for horror. Ships are creepy and claustrophobic. There are countless nooks and crannies where characters can get lost, or in which baddies can hide. They make more noise than a shack in a winter wind. They’re basically oceangoing haunted houses. Blood Vessel, the 2019 horror film from writers Justin Dix and Jordan Prosser, and directed by Dix, doesn’t involve ghosts. Rather, the menace in this film is a family of vampires. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Blood Vessel”
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”
The Vietnam War wreaked havoc on the United States — its sense of self-worth; its trust in leadership, both civilian and military; and its ideas of what constitute heroism. Vietnam was the first war we fought where the awful violence wasn’t hidden from us. It was also our first tick in the loss column. There are a whole host of complex emotions that war put us through. It’s no surprise, then, that war films made after the Vietnam War ended are quite different than those that came before. There were still a few holdouts, however — anachronisms from the earlier style. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Victory, aka Escape to Victory”
What a weird fucking movie. I’m glad I watched it.
The Keep, from 1983, was Michael Mann’s second directorial effort, coming two years after Thief. The film tells the story of a unit of German soldiers who occupy a remote castle keep in Romania during World War II. But, this is no normal keep. The walls are inset throughout with over two hundred crosses made of nickel. The battlements appear designed not to keep an invading army outside of the walls, but rather to keep something in. There’s even a creepy caretaker on site to make sure that anyone who crosses the threshold knows the story of all those before who tried to spend a single night in THE KEEP. Spooky. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Keep”
Steven Spielberg once proclaimed 1968’s Where Eagles Dare his favorite war movie, partly because of its inherent unreality. One of the great movies of the, well, unrealistic era of war films, the great lesson of Where Eagles Dare is that when wielded by an American or a Brit, an MP-40 is the ultimate weapon of death. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Where Eagles Dare”
Cross of Iron, Sam Peckinpah’s entry into the World War II genre from 1977, is a study in two-dimensional characterizations. Well-written, well-acted, and well-directed, this perfect storm of effort on the part of all involved results in a bloody violent film whose characters barrel their way through without nuance, relying on the audience to fill in the blanks. How successful the film is, therefore, depends on a viewer’s understanding of war, or what they think they understand. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Cross of Iron”