After a brief opening that takes place in the 80s, the film jumps to present day where there is a convention being held to commemorate the Toulon puppet murders from three decades previous. There are going to be some replica puppets given away and a tour of Toulon’s mansion. Comic artist Edgar (Thomas Lennon) and his hot girlfriend Ashley (Jenny Pellicer) are there to attend and soon find the puppets present are the real thing and Toulon (Udo Kier) is not done with his reign of terror, even from beyond the grave.
Reboot is directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund who gave us the derivative but entertaining Blood Runs Cold and Wither. They direct from a script by S. Craig Zahler based on the characters created by Charles Band and Kenneth J. Hall. One would probably have to be a fan of the original series to appreciate this dull reboot. If not, it’s just a series of gruesome murders of various puppet fodder characters, that has only some well executed practical gore effects to hold one’s interest. It’s just a random series of killings with no real plot other than to see toys kill people leading up to a Sharknado-esque finale. The tone of the flick goes from silly to trying to take itself seriously and if puppets, blood and boobs are all you came for, than it does at least deliver that…though still lacks the goofy charm of the original movie. Also stars genre favorites Barbara Crampton, Michael Paré and Matthias Hues.
Vicious prison flick tells the story of down on his luck Bradley Thomas (Vince Vaughn) who after losing his job as a tow truck driver and finding out his wife, Lauren (Jennifer Carpenter) is cheating, takes a high paying job as a drug courier to try to improve his current state of life. A year and a half later, he’s living in a nice home and Lauren is pregnant. His good fortune runs out, however, when a drug pick-up goes wrong and he lands in jail. That’s not the worst of his problems, his wife is kidnapped by an angry drug lord and Bradley must get himself transferred to the notorious maximum security prison of Redleaf to kill an inmate there, to ensure her release. Armed only with his fists, Bradley must now survive this hell on earth with a target on his back.
Brutal flick is written and directed by S. Craig Zahler who did the same on Bone Tomahawk. Much like that film, it takes it’s time to tell it’s story and for a film that is basically an exploitation flick, treats it’s subject with a lot of respect. It’s almost 90 minutes before the real intense violence starts and Bradley finds he has been brought to Redleaf for a far more sinister purpose and now must fight for his life and that of his wife. The fights in the film are quite brutal, though some poorly rendered gore FX do lessen their impact and the depiction of prison life is quite nightmarish. Vaughn is surprisingly good in a non-comic, action role and Carpenter, Udo Kier and Don Johnson as a sadistic warden, make for a solid supporting cast. An effective and sometimes brutal drama with an old fashioned B-movie prison flick at it’s center.
Flick from writer/directors Matthew Kennedy and Adam Brooks is a tribute to the italian horror/Giallo films of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci that succeeds in certain areas, but fails in others. The film tells the story of legendary film editor, Rey Cisco (also Adam Brooks) who is currently working on a bloody murder mystery film, when he becomes embroiled in one in real life. The case is being investigated by hot shot detective Peter Porfiry, (also Matthew Kennedy) who thinks Rey is the prime suspect.
The film, co-written with co-star Conor Sweeney, creates the look and feel of the Italian chillers of the 70s and early 80s excellently, with some dead-on camera angles, shots and lighting, along with a perfectly fitting electronic score. There is also a bevy of lovely ladies with very generous amounts of nudity and excessive gore. Where the film goes wrong is that not only is it tedious and dull, with it’s gimmick wearing out it’s welcome early, but it also is played for laughs where a straightforward recreation probably would have been far more entertaining. The homages to Argento, Bava and Fulci are certainly well intended…thought there are also nods to Cronenberg’s Videodrome and Nakata’s Ringu that seem a bit out of place…but as a movie in itself it’s gets boring after the first half hour with the story awkwardly changing focus from Rey to Detective Porfiry and losing it’s grip. Too bad, the flicks heart is definitely in the right place.
Overall, while the tribute is certainly heartfelt and Kennedy and Brooks know their subjects well, the film they have created from that admiration fails to entertain like it’s influences. Also stars Nurse 3D‘s Paz de la Huerta, American Mary‘s Tristan Risk and the legendary Udo Kier.
I’m going to be completely honest here and I know many will disagree with me, but I am not a big fan of Dario Argento. I find his flicks to be more silly than scary and he hasn’t made a movie worth watching since the 80s. His earlier works, however, are spooky and stylish and the guy sure knew how to frame a shot in those days. His early works, such as his most famous, Suspiria, are dripping with atmosphere and the soundtrack from this 1977 Italian classic is one of horror’s best, courtesy of Goblin. So, while Argento is not a favorite of mine and neither are his films, Suspiria is spooky, gory and atmospheric enough to be a perfect fit for the Holloween season and thus does find it’s way onto the playlist, especially on a cloudy, gloomy day like today. So…it finds itself played every year at this time and thus earns a spot on the Halloween Favorites list despite not truly being a personal favorite of mine. Ah… the magic of Halloween.
Suspiria is really very simple in terms of plot. It’s somewhat eccentric story finds a young American women, Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) traveling to attend a dance academy in Germany, but finding herself surrounded by some strange events and occurrences almost at the moment of her arrival. As Suzy begins to look into the strange goings on, the bodies keep bloodily piling up. The pretty young woman comes to believe the school is run by a coven of witches and she may be their next victim. The film is the first in Argento’s 3 Mothers trilogy followed by Inferno in 1980 and then almost 30 years later with The Mother Of Tears in 2007… which was pretty awful, in my opinion.
Again, I find this flick more silly than scary, but even I can’t deny it’s loaded with spooky atmosphere and the cinematography by Luciano Tovoli is absolutely sumptuous and adds lots and lots of spooky atmosphere. Film is written by Argento and Daria Nicolidi and is based on a series of essays by Thomas De Quincey called Suspiria de Profundis. Argento certainly creates a beautiful canvas and he also has a disturbing talent for setting up some inventive and gruesome kills. But otherwise, the film itself is rather silly with weak dialog and no real suspense or scares until the admit-tingly spooky last act when Suzy finally meets the witches in question in their lair hidden within the school. Obviously, the score by Goblin adds a lot, too, as it is one of the best scores in horror film history and is certainly quite effective in administering goosebumps all on it’s own. So, overall the film works far better than it should due to it’s creepy packaging far exceeding the power of it’s somewhat weak story and screenplay…but something tells me the actual scripted page was not Argento’s top priority anyway here. He always seemed to be more about style than substance.
As for the acting, the cast…star Jessica Harper included…seem to wander through the film looking lost and confused. They recite the weak dialogue very woodenly and the unnatural effect a lot of the stiff acting gives the proceedings actually works in the film’s favor, somewhat, as it is a supernatural tale after all. The dubbing doesn’t help either, but the film appears to have been filmed in english with everything dubbed in later as were a lot of Italian films back then.
So, this film is considered a classic by many and I recognize that and respect it’s place in horror history despite my not being all that endeared to it. I do agree that when you combine Argento’s visual eye with his skill for creating disturbing and bloody kills along with it’s classic score by goblin, the film certainly makes for a fun Halloween season watch even if it is not a favorite. Personally I have always preferred Fulci, but understand why Argento has his fans…at least when it comes to his earlier films.