HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: GINGER SNAPS (2000)

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GINGER SNAPS (2000)

Canadian horror opens in the prefab suburban neighborhood of Bailey Downs where some kind of wild animal dubbed the “Beast Of Bailey Downs”  is killing the local dogs. But Bailey Downs is also home to the emotionally troubled teenage Fitzgerald sisters, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins). The two sisters have a bizarre fascination with death, they recreate death scenes and photograph themselves in different methods of demise, as well as have a suicide pact. But the older Ginger is starting her menstrual cycle and when the sisters are out one night looking to kidnap the dog of local mean girl, Trina (Danielle Hampton), Ginger has her period and the blood attracts The Beast, a wolf-like creature that attacks and savages her before it’s run over in pursuit of the girls by local drug dealer, Sam (Kris Lemche). But Ginger’s wounds start to heal soon after and within days her behavior starts to become more and more aggressive and the anti-social Ginger starts transforming into a flirtatious high school vamp. But an increased sexual libido and interest in boys isn’t the only thing growing as she is also starting to sprout thick hair in interesting places and a tail…not to mention she’s developed an appetite for the neighborhood dogs. Now Brigitte fears for her sister and turns to Sam, the only other witness to have seen the Beast, to try to help her save Ginger from becoming a monster. But as Ginger’s behavior becomes more and more dangerous and her nails and teeth are starting to grow and sharpen, will it be Brigitte and Sam that need saving?

Director John Fawcett, who co-wrote along with Karen Walton, creates a moody and sometimes gruesome tale that uses lycanthropy as an obvious metaphor for coming of age and the development of sexual urges, but despite the obviousness, he works it quite well into his horror flick that not only reminds us of the confusion of our teens, but provides plenty of chills and thrills as well. He populates his flick with characters that come across as real teens and not caricatures and only the sisters’ parents (Mimi Rogers and John Bourgeois) seem to be more your stereotypical, clueless adults, but it serves the story to have them oblivious to Ginger’s changes with mom happily babbling about how her daughter is a woman now and dad not wanting to hear about all the ‘bloody’ details.

Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins both really come through and give good performances as they basically carry the movie. Both women portray their respective transformations appropriately with Isabelle going from angry Goth girl to sexual predator to monster quite well, giving Ginger both an air of danger ready to explode and a sympathetic sadness of a young girl who’s becoming something that’s beyond her control. Perkins takes the shy girl used to hiding behind her more protective big sister, and turns her into a strong willed young woman ready to both fight the monster her sister is becoming, but at the same time, save her as she’s not willing to give up on her despite Ginger’s increasing homicidal tendencies. A major part of why the film works is because of the performances Fawcett gets out of his leading ladies. Add to that his mix of teen angst movie and bloody horror flick with a dash of satiric humor and you get a very underrated flick that is considered a cult classic by many…myself included.

Ginger Snaps is not perfect, it’s slow paced at times and while that gives time for character development, it also takes it a while to get to it’s tense and bloody last act. The make-up FX are a little rubbery, but I still prefer the practical approach over CGI any day.

A sadly overlooked and underrated horror flick that deserves better attention and a proper blu-ray release. UPDATE: The awesome folks at Scream Factory are releasing this on blu-ray on 7/22/14! Here’s my review of this great disc!

Also check out my look at the sequels and Katherine Isabelle in her latest role as the title character in the 2013 original horror thriller American Mary! and click on her name above for our Halloween Hotties focus on this beautiful and talented actress!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 sexy she-wolves!

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CHARACTER AUTOPSY: THE 3 FACES OF KURT-THE CARPENTER COLLABORATIONS

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THE THREE FACES OF KURT: THE CARPENTER/RUSSELL BIG SCREEN COLLABORATIONS!

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Photo: Empire Magazine

THE START OF FILM HISTORY

If there’s one thing you can definitely say about legendary director John Carpenter, it’s that he creates some great and iconic characters to inhabit his great movies. And if there’s one actor that fits Carpenter’s characters like a glove, it’s Kurt Russell. The two would collaborate five times together, so far, starting with the TV movie Elvis in 1979, with Russell playing the King Of Rock And Roll, whom the actor had actually worked with on It Happened At The World’s Fair in 1963. Of course, Elvis was not a character created by Carpenter, but it would be the start of a five picture journey with Russell playing three of Carpenter’s most iconic creations and one true life legend. The King aside, lets take a look at three of John Carpenter’s most memorable characters as they were brought to life by Kurt Russell, already a veteran actor from the age of 10.

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Russell as The King…

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…and Russell with the King in 1963’s It Happened At The World’s Fair

SNAKE PLISSKEN: ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981)

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One of cinema’s most iconic and underused character’s is ex-soldier and anti-hero Snake Plissken, who first appeared in John Carpenter’s Escape From New York in 1981. Carpenter had to fight with Avco Embassy pictures over the casting of Russell as the studio preferred legendary film tough guy Charles Bronson, an established action star, as apposed to the former Disney child actor, Russell. But Carpenter stood his ground and Russell stepped into the role of the one-eyed, grizzled outlaw who get’s arrested on the eve of a terrorist attack on Air Force One, which leaves The President (Donald Pleasence) stranded inside NYC…which in this near future, is a walled maximum security prison. As portrayed by Kurt Russell, Snake Plissken is one part Clint Eastwood’s ‘man with no name’ and one part honey badger. Plissken doesn’t care about the rest of the world or The President, he sees his mission into the hellhole of NYC as a way out of spending the rest of his life there. Who cares if the world is on the brink of all out war, all he wants is that presidential pardon in his hands and he really doesn’t care about the rest…or does he? Despite his outward apathy, Plissken does show some remorse over those who lose their lives helping him rescue The President and even more important, the tape recording he has with him.  Although, let’s be honest, it was Snake’s little white lie about getting those who help him out of NYC, too that insured their cooperation in the first place, but when you have two microscopic explosive devices in your neck ready to explode when your 24 hours is up, you make some selfish choices. Russell’s Snake is cool as ice, but not quite cold which is why we like him so much. He’s anti-authority, he walks to the beat of his own drum and if need be, he’s got plenty of fighting and weapons skills to throw down if he has to, but he still seems to have a soft spot for the innocents caught in the way of the mechanizations of those in charge. He’s an outlaw, but one that only seems to like sticking it to ‘The Man’ every chance he gets. A fallen war hero with an Eastwood growl who’s turned his back on the government he fought for because of how expendable they see the rest of us.

We all wish we were as cool as Snake and flip the establishment the bird with our very existence like he does. And Escape ends with the ultimate FU as he destroys the very prize he was sent in for and walks away with a smoke and without a care as he may just have sent the world back to war. Sadly, Snake would appear only once more on screen in the disappointing Escape From L.A. which was, for some reason, more of a remake and played for laughs. Russell was still cool as Snake, but the film around him was one of Carpenter’s lesser efforts. Still, Snake is a classic movie icon and one of the greatest anti-heros of all time and despite remake talk, I can’t see anyone but Russell in the role.

R.J. MACREADY: THE THING (1982)

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Carpenter and Russell would work together again the very next year on Carpenter’s remake of The Thing From Another World simply titled The Thing. Carpenter’s version abandon’s Howard Hawks’ walking vegetable to return to the original source material of John W. Campbell’s Who Goes There? about a shapeshifting alien creature that invades an Antarctic research station and is capable of absorbing and imitating anyone and everyone it comes in contact with. Russell is cast as helicopter pilot R. J. MacReady, who reluctantly takes charge of the situation when suspicion and paranoia causes the chain of command to quickly collapse. Like most of the Outpost 31 members, MacReady seems to be a misfit and social outcast who, for reasons never fully explained, seems to prefer being at the far reaches of the planet and spending most of his day with a bottle of scotch when he is not in the air. But Mac seems more a wounded soul than angry like Plissken.  And once the alien threat becomes known, he realizes the importance of stopping it before it gets back to the world he himself seems to be trying to avoid. He also realizes that he is best fit to take control and does so, however reluctantly. Mac would rather be left alone, but rises to the occasion when thrust into this fantastic and unbelievable situation. Unlike Plissken, MacReady is willing to give up his own life to save those he seems to want to distance himself from. In a way he is just as cool as Snake, but for different reasons. Snake is an authority hating, self serving, outlaw. While Mac is an anti-social, yet ultimately selfless, outcast who is willing to do what’s needed to stop “The Thing” from ever leaving the cold wasteland it had the unfortunate luck of crashing it’s ship into. Certain items of clothing lead one to believe Mac, like Snake, might be ex-military, but that too is never touched upon. Mac is a bit more of an enigma than Snake, but no less heroic and for far more noble reasons. Russell is again top notch here as he perfectly creates a man who’s pain and reluctance are shadowed in his eyes, as he fights something imagined only in nightmares, in a suicidal effort to save the world. Where Snake is an anti-hero, Mac Ready is a true hero, and depending on how you view the film’s ambiguous ending, maybe one that has paid the ultimate price and gladly, if it means the rest of us are safe in our beds. Sadly The Thing was a box office and critical disappointment when it first opened, but fortunately,  it is now recognized as the great film classic that it is. Arguably John Carpenter’s best movie.

JACK BURTON: BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1985)

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Three years after The Thing Carpenter and Russell teamed up again for the deliriously fun Big Trouble In Little China, a movie that was criminally under-appreciated when it first came out, but like a lot of Carpenter’s other works, is now recognized and loved as a cult classic… and rightfully so! Russell, this time, plays truck driver and legend in his own mind, Jack Burton. Unlike Snake and Mac, Jack is a lovable jerk who fancies himself far more the hero than he actually is, due to his massive ego. He’s obnoxious and overbearing at times, but there is something about his unapologetic bravado that makes him incredibly endearing. And Russell’s deft comic performance is a large part of why. Jack is obviously played for laughs and Russell is very funny and his timing is perfect as this lovable lug dives into numerous situations way over his head just to get the money owed him in a bet, recapture his stolen truck and impress and then save a girl who he claims he doesn’t even like, Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall). Russell’s mullet wearing Jack faces, Chinese gang members, mystically powered martial artists and creatures right out of Chinese folklore all with the swagger of John Wayne and the over confidence of a high school jock trying to impress the hot cheerleader. And he is one of Carpenter’s most all-time quotable characters as he quips his way from one fantastic situation to the next, barely messing up his hair, but somehow managing to mess up our villain Lo Pan’s (James Hong) plans.

Big Trouble In Little China is a blast as Carpenter seems to pay tribute to some of the early Chinese fantasies like Tsui Hark’s Zu ,The Warriors of Magic Mountain. If America had caught on to the new wave Hong Kong cinema that started in the early 80s a few years sooner, the film probably would have been a big hit. Once again Carpenter was ahead of his time and Kurt Russell was along with him for the highly entertaining ride, delivering every line of dialog with scene-chewing relish. Personally, I think Jack Burton was another character that needed a film series or at least a sequel much like Plissken. It was great to see Kurt Russell able to have such a good time with this character after his last two characters played for the master Carpenter were a study in intensity, which Russell pulled off in his usual classic style. This is what happens when a great director and a great actor get together…movie magic!

As a huge fan of both Carpenter and Russell, my fanboy dream would be to see them work that magic together one more time before they retire. That would be awesome! But for now, we have some great movies to watch and some sidesplitting-ly wonderful commentary on the DVDs and Blu-Rays which illustrate just how well these two cinema legends get along and why their cinematic collaborations are such classics!

-MonsterZero NJ

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES JULY 26-28

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Complete estimates for this weekend’s box office are in and The Wolverine slashes his way to the top!

1. “The Wolverine” $55 Million

2. “The Conjuring” $22.1 Million 

3. “Despicable Me 2” $16 Million

4. “Turbo” $13.3 million.

5. “Grown Ups 2” $11.5 Million

6. “Red 2” $9.4 million.

7. “Pacific Rim” $7.5 million.

8. “The Heat” $6.8 million.

9. “R.I.P.D.” $5.9 million.

10. “Fruitvale Station” $4.6 million.

source: box office mojo

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: HEAVY METAL AND ROCK & RULE

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HEAVY METAL (1981)

Heavy Metal is a Canadian animated, sci-fi anthology inspired by the classic magazine of the same name. It’s a series of stories, some based on tales originally from the magazine, others written for the film, that are each directed by a different filmmaker and animated in different styles and techniques based on the work of the artists who drew for the magazine like Bernie Wrightson, Moebius and Angus McKie. At the center of the stories is a powerful and evil force in the form of a glowing green orb called the Loc-Nar. The effects of this evil and the desire of those who wish to possess it’s power are the common theme throughout the film that links all the stories together. And true to it’s name, the film is filled with songs from bands like Cheap Trick, Blue Oyster Cult, Devo and Sammy Hagar. Heavy Metal is a real blast, filled with some really cool animation and a diverse selection of stories that are filled with the same elements of sex, drugs, horror and sci-fi fantasy that have made the magazine famous. Some of the stories are more humorous, like the fantasy ‘Den’, where a nerd (voiced by the late, great John Candy) is thrust to an alternate dimension where he becomes a Conan-like hero or, the amusing ‘Captain Sternn’ (Eugene Levy) who is basically a smug jerk whose bad deeds are catching up to him. Then there are more serious stories like the Dan O’Bannon written ‘B-17’, about a WWII bomber with a zombie problem, and the bloody fantasy ‘Taarna’ about a female warrior who is the last of her race and faced with saving her planet from an evil tyrant and his Lok-Nar empowered mutant army. Heavy Metal is a classic and it is sure to bring out the horny teenage nerd in all of us with it’s big breasted heroines, muscular heroes, ample amounts of sex and nudity and plentiful blood and gore. There are some great vocal talent, such as the before mention Candy and Levy, like Joe Flaherty, Percy Rodriguez and Richard Romanus, that add life to the colorful and varied characters that populate the numerous stories. Add to that one hell of a soundtrack which I proudly own as well and you’ve got a fun night at the movies. A favorite of mine since I first saw it in 1981 and a deviously fun cartoon for adults and the teenage geek that we all have within us. A classic!

A classic 4 Taarakians

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ROCK & RULE (1983)

Our second feature is appropriately also a Canadian animated flick with a great soundtrack, that tells the story of a future where humans are gone but, animals have evolved to take their place. In Ohmtown, Omar (voiced by Greg Salata in the original version and Paul Le Mat in the US release, sung by Robin Zander) and Angel (voiced by Susan Roman, sung by Deborah Harry) are a boyfriend and girlfriend who are also in a rock band trying to achieve every musician’s dream of stardom. But, when the band is heard by mega-rock star Mok (voiced by Don Francks, sung by both Lou Reed and Iggy Pop), he wants Angel to become a solo star and leave the band behind. She refuses, but, he kidnaps her anyway and hypnotizes the band, making them think she’s abandoned them. But, soon Omar finds out the truth and even worse, that Mok actually has a far more sinister plot in mind, to use Angel’s voice to unleash a demon and now Omar and his bandmates must race to Nuke York to rescue angel and defeat Mok’s plan, saving both Angel and possibly the world. Rock & Rule is a fun animated rock and roll adventure that would be a good time even without the top notch vocal talent. But, adding to a fun story, we get some memorable songs sung by the legendary likes of Cheap Trick, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry… that’s an awesome line-up in most any music lovers book and their voices perfectly compliment the characters and storyline. The film moves at a fast pace and is filled with an entertaining assortment of colorful characters brought to life by equally colorful and vibrant animation. The film was hard to find for a while and then was available on DVD and Blu-ray but, now seems to be out of print again. Availability issues aside, it’s a fun, colorfully entertaining animated flick with a lot of great music by some classic artists giving us a nice ear candy coating with a classic good vs evil story at it’s center. A cult classic and a real treat.

3 and 1/2 Moks

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: WITHOUT WARNING (1980)

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WITHOUT WARNING (1980)

Yet another early 80s gem that I had the pleasure of seeing on the big screen at the great Oritani Theater in Hackensack N.J. This delightfully cheesy sci-fi/ horror flick tells the story of an alien hunter who preys on humans using flying, fanged starfish-like creatures as weapons and a full 7 years before Arnold tangled with the Predator.

Without Warning focuses on two young couples (Tarah Nutter, Christopher S. Nelson, Humanoids From The Deep’s Lynn Theel and a young David Caruso) who decide to go camping at a remote lake despite the ominous warnings from strange local gas station owner/hunter, Joe Taylor (Jack Palance before City Slickers revived his career). Soon upon arrival at the secluded lake, they become the targeted prey of the extraterrestrial creature and his flying minions who have apparently staked out this area as their hunting ground. Now running for their lives and with no one believing them, they have only the gruff off-balanced Taylor and crazy war vet and conspiracy theorist “Sarge” (Martin Landau before Ed Wood revived his career) to turn to. Apparently these two have had dealings with this evil E.T. and have been equally ostracized for their claims, so maybe now it’s time to stand and fight.

This 1980 film is cheesy fun and brings a lot of unintentional laughs such as one youth’s attempt to describe the alien threat to a bar full of drunk locals and the alien actually stopping to steady a swinging lamp before continuing his pursuit of a victim. Greydon (Satan’s Cheerleaders) Clark directs from a script with no less than 4 writers listed for some reason. He gives the flick a rather pedestrian pace, but he treats his material seriously as do the cast, especially Palance and Landau, who properly chew up the scenery with Landau especially cranking up the nuttiness. Aside from them, though, the acting and dialog is strictly what you’d expect from a B-movie like this and the barely adequate performances suit the material oddly well. The production is strictly low budget with some passable alien SPFX and OK gore from future FX master Greg Cannom with the alien’s head created by the legendary Rick Baker. There isn’t a lot of action till the last act, but it is entertainingly worth waiting for and the fact that everyone in the small lakeside town seems to be some kind of nut does go a long way to make up for it in the meantime. And who can pass on a three-way showdown between Jack Palance, Martin Landau and a 7 foot purple alien? Not me! Add in a typical 80s electronic score by Dan Wyman and some nice cinematography by frequent John Carpenter DOP Dean Cundey and you have a good example of the type of B-movie they sadly don’t make anymore. Despite all it’s inadequacies, it’s heart is in the right place.

Not a classic or great movie by any length, but it is a fun 80s ‘so bad it’s good’ flick to enjoy with a couple of beers and a few other flicks of equally enjoyable awfulness (like Laserblast for example). Without Warning also features appearances by film vets Ralph Meeker and Neville Brand as doubting locals and Cameron Mitchell and Larry Storch as a hunter and scout master, respectively, who are among the creature’s first victims. Nostalgic 80s fun.

MONSTERZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA:  Ironically, the alien hunter here is played by Kevin Peter Hall who also played the Predator in the similarly themed, classic Schwarzenegger flick in 1987.

For an in-depth comparison of Without Warning and Predator, go HERE to read all about it.

3 cheesy angry aliens!

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DATE MOVIE: THE ORPHANAGE (2007)

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THE ORPHANAGE (2007)

First off the success of this date movie depends on your date’s tolerance for reading subtitles as The Orphanage is not available dubbed. I prefer to see a movie in it’s original language but, it’s sadly not everyone’s cup of tea. If they are OK with that, this is definitely a good movie to share with your horror loving honey…

The Orphanage is a Guillermo del Toro produced Spanish thriller that tells the story of a woman named Laura (Belén Rueda) who, with her husband Carlos (Fernanado Cayo) and adopted son Simón (Roger Príncep), plans to re-open the orphanage where she lived as a child for use as a center to care for children with disabilities. But, upon moving in to restore the building, Simón, who is HIV positive, starts to see and talk to a little masked boy named Tomás as well as other children. This and other strange occurrences begin to plague the family until Simón suddenly and mysteriously disappears at a party. Time drags on with their son missing and the unexplained occurrences continuing and Carlos begins to give up hope. Now a heartbroken Laura becomes desperate to solve the mystery of her son’s disappearance by investigating the orphanage’s history, including the involvement of a strange social worker (Montserrat Carulla) and this mysterious child Tomás, which she is certain is tied to the vanishing of her son. What she finds may be a nightmare as terrible as the one she’s living now and whose effects might still haunt the halls of this old building. Orphanage is an atmospheric, scary and suspenseful mystery/chiller and a wonderful return to the type of film that delivers the goods without CGI or excessive gore. Under the direction of J.A. Bayona, Orphange is a visually sumptuous haunted house movie that uses atmosphere and emotion to carry the story of a couple thrust into not only a parents’ worst nightmare but, a mystery involving the fate of the children that used to live in what now is their home. And sometimes finding the truth can take you places you don’t want to go. If you like goose bump inducing chills with a healthy dose of mystery, then this Spanish haunted house flick is for you.

Orphanage gives our movie date night a film that has a strong mystery to keep us guessing, plenty of things going bump in the night and an emotional story with a couple at it’s center for both participants in your date to identify and sympathize with … that equals a strong 3 and 1/2 on the Date-O-Meter!

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REVIEW: AMERICAN MARY (2013)

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AMERICAN MARY (2013)

Flick tells the interesting story of pretty med student, Mary Mason (Katherine Isabelle) who, when in need of cash, finds herself getting accidentally involved with illegal surgery and body modification. But, it’s not till she is drugged and raped at a party by her arrogant pervert of a professor (David Lovgren) that Mary’s skills get put to horrifying use and her inner Frankenstein is unleashed. American Mary is intriguing but, never fully decides what it is really about to make it completely captivating or gets truly twisted enough to make it cult film material. This Canadian flick written and directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska (who also play twins in the movie) has a nice visual style and some very gruesome moments but, never really grabs us completely or shocks us enough to solidify itself the cult status it aims for. The cast is decent and there are a few interesting and eccentric characters but, lead Katherine Isabelle, who was so good in Ginger Snaps, plays Mary with a bit of an emotional detachment for the most part or maybe a bit too low key. With all that befalls Mary, the tone of the character seems to remain the same despite that her life gets sent in disturbing directions and the changes it makes to her. She’s still good but, there should have been a bit more of a difference between Jekyll and Hyde. It would have made more impact. But, Isabelle is a good actress and maybe it’s not her fault as she is not given a lot of time to develop Mary before the story sets in motion so, we don’t really see the changes in the character as the film progresses. Perhaps the Soskas get things moving too quickly and as Mary gets drawn in deeper and deeper into this bizarre world, we haven’t gotten to know her well enough to really add resonance to her life’s sudden macabre twist and the changes that occur within her. After her brutal rape, we can understand her emotional shut down but, even before that she seems to adjust a bit too quickly despite the absurdity of what she’s asked to do and after, her cruel revenge seems to come a bit too easily. After the story events that have the most impact on Mary occur, the moments the Soskas give us to experience what Mary is feeling are all too brief and don’t sink in properly and that robs us of appreciating the true gravity of her transformation from down-on-her-luck med student to illegal body modification diva to sadistic murderer. I’m not saying what occurs doesn’t have any effectiveness, it does. But, we needed a little more time with Mary at those transformation points to really appreciate what’s happened to her. To a degree Mary seems likable but, we never really get truly emotionally involved as she embraces her dark and sadistic side or begins to revel at being a rock star of underground body modification surgery… and we should in order to give the story the weight it needs to elevate it to something unique and special. There’s just something missing. The Soskas seem to be far more interested in who Mary is to become and forget that we need to know her better as who she is first to appreciate that. I won’t take away that this is an original story in a genre filled with remakes and sequels and it still held my interest throughout despite it’s flaws. This real segment of society has never really been touched on in films and we wish the Soska’s would also have delved even deeper into this sect of people that see their bodies as ever evolving canvases and physically alter them through illegal surgery such as Mary provides. There are also a few story lines going on during American Mary and none get fully developed, such as what is going on between Mary and strip club owner Billy (Antonio Cupo) who first hires her to perform an illegal surgery and then a partnership/relationship between them forms that the parameters of which are never really made clear. And then there’s the bond between Mary and Lance the bouncer (Twan Holliday) that I would like to have seen more of. And that’s what restrains American Mary, it is an interesting story with some equally interesting ideas that never gets fully developed enough to really get our complete attention or becomes bizarre and twisted enough to make it more memorable… though it has it’s moments. Worse still, the ending feels forced and sudden as if the Soska’s didn’t know where to go with Mary’s story at that point and add a plot contrivance to wrap things up in a bloody bow. It’s abrupt and not very satisfying. An intriguing diversion and a nicely original story idea that’s worth a look and has it’s effectiveness but, could have been much more with a little more development of the story and it’s lead character. In conclusion, I did like it and find it intriguing but, it is a flawed film as much as an interesting one… and if anything, I’ve re-watched it a few times and it has made me second guess my feelings about it and the film at least deserves credit for that.

UPDATE: I think I have finally have my thoughts and feelings about this film straightened out… not without a little help from the Soska Sisters themselves. Click here to find out how the directors’ answer to my question help me put some major issues to rest… THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT AMERICAN MARY

A generous 3 bones saws!

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: SHAKEDOWN (1988)

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SHAKEDOWN (1988)

Shakedown is an 80s action guilty pleasure from Exterminator director James Glickenhaus that is not only his best film but, a darn entertaining cop thriller that is one of the last to take place in NYC before the 42nd street clean up and thus presents New York in all it’s sleazy pre-90s glory. Shakedown is the story of public defender Roland Dalton (Peter Weller) who is moving on to a Wall Street law firm, run by his future father in-law, and as his last case, defends a drug dealer (Richard Brooks) accused of killing a cop. But, the dealer says it was self defense, he was defending himself in a robbery and the officer never identified himself. Dalton investigates along with lone wolf cop Richie Marks (Sam Elliot) and they discover a conspiracy of criminals and dirty cops who now want them both dead. Aside from it’s dirty backstreet depiction of New York and some over the top action scenes, what really makes Shakedown work is that Elliot and Weller makes such a great team. They work very well together and it’s a shame the film never caught on enough to further the adventures of Marks and Dalton. The characters and the actor who portray them, really click and begged for a series. Supporting cast all perform well too, including Antonio “Huggy Bear” Fargas as drug lord Nicky Carr and hot Patricia Charbonneau as the assistant D.A. and Dalton’s former flame. Sure some of the action is a bit overblown and the FX in the final showdown very cheesy but, Shakedown, as directed by Glickenhaus, is a down and dirty good time with a New York City bathed in neon lights, covered with empty crack vials and where sex, drugs and murder are a common occurrence. Add some 80s nostalgia to the mix and you have a whole six pack worth of Saturday night entertainment. One of my favorite 80s guilty pleasure action flicks. A fun movie.

MONSTEREZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA: The original title for the film and it’s title in other parts of the world was Blue Jean Cop which is a term used in the film for a cop on the take (dirty cops can afford designer jeans as opposed to Wranglers or Levis). Also, Director Glickenhaus made a few more flicks, including the Gary Busey action vehicle Bulletproof, before leaving show business to work at his father’s investment firm and became a successful investment professional and car collector.

3 and 1/2 bulletts!

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DENNIS FARINA 1944-2013


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DENNIS FARINA 1944-2013

The entertainment world lost a very talented and hard working performer today as veteran character actor Dennis Farina passed away at 69 when he developed a blood clot in his lung. The ex-cop turned actor played dozens of memorable roles on TV and in movies, usually that of a police officer, detective or mobster. He was skilled at both comedy and drama and equally talented at portraying the good guy or bad guy and will sorely be missed.

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REVIEW: INSIDIOUS (2011)

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INSIDIOUS (2011)

Having just seen The Conjuring, I thought I’d take a look back at James Wan’s Insidious and find the reviews are very similar…

Insidious is a fun, spooky and sometimes intensely scary flick but, does it live up to the internet hype that preceded it’s release? Not quite. The first hour of Insidious does deliver the goods. It’s basically non-stop scares and chills as early word promised but, it’s in it’s final act when it loses it’s grip somewhat. Insidious tells the familiar story of a husband and wife (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) moving into a house with their children and strange things start to occur. Soon their one son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) is in a coma and moving away does nothing to stop the appearance of specters and strange sights and sounds. When they bring in a paranormal investigator, Elise (Lin Shaye) she tells them, to their horror, that their son has the ability to leave his body in his sleep and has lost his way back. Now a vicious demonic entity has their son and wants his soulless body to use as a vessel to enter the world of the living. Can they fend off this dark spirit and save their child?  Once Director James Wan brings in the paranormal investigators and they start to explain things, the film takes a bit of a change in direction and things get a bit hokey. What follows is still spooky and there still are some good scares but, nothing close to the first hour. The design of what we see is creepy and Wan’s directing skills don’t falter but, the problem is we see things that are better left to the imagination as our minds can imagine far worse then anything Wan can present us. Some of the before mentioned explanations sound silly and hinder the atmosphere Wan has worked hard to set up and seeing his spooks, specters and demon out in the open and in plain sight, does not help it either. Things were far more effective when left in shadow, in glimpses and with a little mystery. The cast are fine though Wilson is a bit bland and Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson are a little too goofy as Elise’s fellow paranormal investigators. All in all, Insidious is far better then some of the endless sequels and remakes that pass as horror flicks today but, it’s not a classic by any stretch. Much like an amusement park ride, it’s fun while your on it but, after it’s over the effect fades quickly.

3 spooks!

pact_Rating

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