Tag Archives: review

AMAD-Horror Edition: Of Unknown Origin

12 Oct

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cinemagrade b+Let’s jump right into Of Unknown Origin. Made in 1983 in Montreal (which was doubling for New York on the screen), the film stars Peter Weller, Buckaroo Banzai himself, as an architect who has just finished renovating a brownstone townhouse for his family and finds a strange, persistent intruder threatening both his home and his ordered existence. The original trailer makes it look like a supernatural thriller along the lines of Poltergeist, with Weller fighting off some sort of demon inhabiting his home and trying to kill his family. That is not at all what is happening in the film. There isn’t a single supernatural element in the movie, although there are plenty of unnatural ones.

 Bart Hughes is a fastidious, up-tight architect who takes serious pride in his beautiful Brownstone apartment building: and why not, since he did all the renovation work himself? The home is gorgeous and indeed something to be proud of. Bart also sank a good deal of money into fixing it, and so he feels pressured to fight for promotion at the architectural firm where he works. Couple this with his ordered, work-obsessed mentality and it results in Bart focused so intently on his projects and office-relations that he isn’t even enjoying the fruits of his labor at home.  Continue reading

AMAD-Horror Edition: Buppah Rahtree: Curse of the Night Flower

12 Oct

 

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cinemagrade b+Thailand’s Buppah Rahtree: Curse of the Night Flower is exactly the kind of film that makes writing this column so much fun. It’s a pleasing genre mash-up of slapstick comedy, gut-wrenching drama and creeping dread. There are so many delightful twists and turns that I felt elated instead of jerked around. The movie comes from a country not really known for their compelling horror pictures and ends up trumping the entire lot of recent Asian ghost stories. However, instead of being a new release, Buppah was actually made in 2003; by this point, it already has a couple of sequels to its name. Continue reading

AMAD-Horror Edition: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

9 Oct

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Oct 9th, 2009–

cinemagrade b-Television movies were a far different beast in the 1970s than they are now. In fact, you don’t see the major networks wasting their time with them much anymore. Regular weekly programming has become far more popular and with so much content, there doesn’t even seem to be room in the network landscape. But some 30 years ago, that was quite different. There were larger spaces to fill, not as many shows being created, and the medium of the television movie was relatively new. So, filmmakers and producers were creating low budget fare–many times they were either human interest dramas or thrillers–for the t.v. screen. Continue reading

AMAD-Horror Edition: Sauna

6 Oct

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Oct 6th, 2009–

cinemagrade b A.J. Anila’s Sauna is an odd and challenging  film. The Finnish horror feature is the second for its director and like his first, Jade Warrior, it’s a melding of genres; supernatural horror, historical drama and existential mystery.  A grim, cold and foreboding movie, Sauna is really about the price of sin and the nature of guilt. I’ve watched it twice now over the past few days, and I’m still not quite sure what to make of it. Continue reading

AMAD-Horror Edition: Eyes Without A Face

5 Oct

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Oct 4th,2009–

cinemagrade A-I’m a little surprised that I never saw Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face before this. With its French art-house sensibilities and Universal horror movie tropes all jammed together into a crusty old shell of pulp contrivance, the movie is a monster mash gone wild. Rejected by the snobby French critics of the time and dumped over here in the U.S. to double-bill with The Manster, this psychological thriller was far ahead of its time. My wife and I were legitimately shocked by how graphic the surgery sequences are and how stately and poetic the rest of the film is. The movie hides its madness underneath  a high-class painterly veneer but make no mistake–it delivers a wicked jolt. Continue reading

AMAD-Horror Edition: Trick ‘r Treat

4 Oct

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Oct 4th,2009–

cinemagrade b+I’d say that it has felt like I’ve been waiting for Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat for years, but that wouldn’t exactly be accurate. It hasn’t just felt like years, it has been. Dougherty made the film in 2006 and was grooming it for a 2007 fall release when WB pushed it back to the spring, then to the fall, and then just kept pushing. Now, in a move so belated that the film has built a cult following among festival goers, Trick is finally getting released, just in time for the season where it best belongs. Thankfully, it turns out that the movie was worth the wait. Continue reading

AMAD-Horror Edition: Pig Hunt

2 Oct

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Oct 3rd,2009–

cinemagrade b-Sou-eeeee! You boys just took a wrong turn! Right through the wild backwaters of cinema and into the dingy, scat-littered lair of Pig Hunt. This is one crazy movie. Expecting some sort of Sy-Fy channel opus about a cgi giant hog, what I found instead in Pig Hunt was an off-kilter action flick with plenty of beasts, babes and ‘billies of the Northern California variety. James Isaac isn’t a director that inspires confidence–his only other movies are Jason X, Skinwalkers, and House III: The Horror Show–but his newest is actually so crazy, so demented and over-the-top insane that it achieves a kind of grandeur. Absurdity and oddness for its own sake are the mark of Pig Hunt. If John Waters ever made a horror movie it might feel a lot like this. Continue reading

AMAD-Horror Edition: Dark Country

1 Oct

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October 1st,2009–

Wow. October’s already here! From this point forward I’m gonna set a genre for AMAD and stick to it for the entire month. This time, it will be horror films–surprise, surprise!–and every day from here to October 31st I’ll be highlighting a different one, preferably something I haven’t seen before. Below, I’ll throw up the lineup for the next five days so you can keep track. So, let’s get started today with the Thomas Jane directed thriller Dark Country that mixes 3/4 noir with 1/4 Twilight Zone and produces an interesting modern riff on the ‘killer on the deserted highway’ motif.

cinemagrade b-I have alot of respect for Thomas Jane as an actor. He’s consistently taking roles and projects that aren’t a ‘sure’ thing and even if they don’t always pan out (Mutant Chronicles) he gets the credit for mixing it up and taking risks. He’s also quite talented and more than capable of elevating a movie with his performance. He’s easily the best thing about The Punisher 2004 and hits all the right notes in The Mist. He also seems relatively grounded and in-touch with his work and his fanbase. Jane and David Arquette brought the entertaining and silly The Tripper to The Senator Theater’ in ’07 and had alot of fun screening it for the audience that showed.  You can see from the clip below that they really got into the event and were not concerned with  holding themselves at a distance from the audience. Top that all off with the fact he’s a native son of Baltimore. Continue reading

AMAD: Sleep Dealer

29 Sep

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September 29th,2009–

cinemagrade b+Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer is one of the most grounded science fiction films I’ve ever seen. The first time director has referred to his work as  “science fiction with many anchors in today’s reality.” He isn’t joking. In the future according to Sleep Dealer, Mexico is walled off, their water supply has become privatized, and day-laborers don’t even have to leave the country to take immigrant jobs. Continue reading

AMAD:The Silence of Lorna

28 Sep

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September 26th,2009–

cinemagrade A-I love the work of the Dardenne brothers. The Belgian siblings responsible for films like The Son, The Child and Rosetta specialize in quiet, close-quarters observations of human behavior. While their pictures can occasionally be  slow and methodical, they are full of rich characterization and a stark sense of reality that drive home the moral implications of the narrative. They are not often easy films to watch, as much for the pacing as for the less than savory choices made by the characters central to the story.  The Silence of Lorna  follows these same guidelines but ventures from the path by expanding beyond the claustrophobic camera work and micrcosmal drams to present a compelling portrait of a woman struggling with the consequences of her actions. Continue reading