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2018 IN REVIEW – My Favorites of the Year

February 24, 2019 Leave a comment

I honestly didn’t know I ended up liking so many damn movies from 2018. Who knew? There’s a lot of reading here, so I’ll just cut to the chase… here are the 60(!) films I loved most from what turned out to be a pretty fantastic year of film, divided into categories, since I usually can’t seem to pit certain genres of movies against others. Consider this a roughly ordered list of the best films for any of your present moods! Read more…

REVIEW – The Evil Dead

October 31, 2016 1 comment
The Evil DeadDirected by: Sam Raimi
Produced by: Robert Tapert
Written by: Sam Raimi
Edited by: Edna Ruth Paul
Cinematography by: Tim Philo
Music by: Joseph LoDuca
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Hal Delrich (Richard DeManincor), Betsy Baker, Sarah York (Theresa Tilly)
Based on the short film Within the Woods by Sam Raimi
Year: 1981

 

“Cult classic.” That’s the best way to describe something like The Evil Dead, a low budget horror flick that’s just this side of camp, to the point that you’re not entirely certain whether it’s intentional or not. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, for instance, is obviously trying to be campy. The original version of The Last House on the Left? Not so much, but it’s got quite a bit of camp value, despite (or, more likely, because of) its disturbing subject matter. The Evil Dead has all the hallmarks of camp, and yet, because it’s so earnest, it’s also easy to believe that director Sam Raimi was, in fact, trying to make a genuinely terrifying horror film that just kind of got away from him. If you know anything about the strenuous shoot, for example, you can see where the earnestness comes in. Most of the crew was confined to the remote Tennessee cabin location for several weeks, and Raimi purposely mistreated his actors to get them into the proper mood for a horror film, for example. There’s a very good chance that The Evil Dead was, in fact, meant to be a scary horror film that instead came together in the editing as the ambiguously humorous production that it ended up being – something that its sequels and spin-off series embraced more wholeheartedly. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Independence Day: Resurgence

July 2, 2016 1 comment
Independence Day ResurgenceDirected by: Roland Emmerich
Produced by: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
Screenplay by: Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, James Vanderbilt
Story by: Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods
Edited by: Adam Wolfe
Cinematography by: Markus Förderer
Music by: Harald Kloser, Thomas Wanker
Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe, Brent Spiner, Bill Pullman, Deobia Oparei, Travis Tope, Angelababy, Nicolas Wright, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sela Ward, Judd Hirsch, Joey King, Vivica A. Fox, Nicolas Wright
Year: 2016

 

I’ve long held that the first Independence Day was one of the best bad movies ever made. Of course, as a kid, I thought the movie was genuinely one of the best movies ever made, and it was the first movie I was able to convince my parents to let me see multiple times while it was still in theatres. As time went on, the flaws and eccentricities of Roland Emmerich’s ridiculous alien invasion movie became much more apparent, of course. However, what became even more apparent was that I still undoubtedly loved the movie, often more because of its quirks rather than in spite of them. The cast that was assembled for that movie was seriously stellar: Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox, Brent Spiner… And that scene where the aliens finally unleash their ultimate weapon remains one of the standout special effects moments I’ve ever seen. Sure, it’s obviously an effect, but I recall watching the special effects feature on the DVD and being completely in awe of just how much care went into making those scenes. (Did you know they built model cities, tipped them on their side, and then launched the flames upward to get those destructive effects?) Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Krampus

December 8, 2015 6 comments
KrampusDirected by: Michael Dougherty
Produced by: Alex Garcia, Jon Jashni, Michael Dougherty, Thomas Tull
Written by: Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Edited by: John Axelrad
Cinematography by: Jules O’Loughlin
Music by: Douglas Pipes
Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, Krista Stadler, Lolo Owen, Queenie Samuel, Maverick Flack, Luke Hawker, Gideon Emery
Year: 2015

 

Put this on my list of one of the more surprising films of 2015. I wasn’t even aware of the film’s existence until I saw the trailer play before M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit just a couple months ago. That film surprised me in not being as especially terrible as I had expected. However, while the prospect of a found footage horror film starring children and directed by M. Night Shyamalan sounded like the worst possible thing you would ever see, Krampus had a known cast of talented and even funny actors contrasting with the gruesome visuals and suggesting that this film had its pointed tongue was planted firmly in cheek. It actually looked like it had the potential to be an actually great movie. Could it possibly turn into a new alternative holiday classic? Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: The Visit

September 17, 2015 6 comments
The VisitDirected by: M. Night Shyamalan
Produced by: Marc Bienstock, Jason Blum, M. Night Shyamalan
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan
Edited by: Luke Franco Ciarrocchi
Cinematography by: Maryse Alberti
Music by: Paul Cantelon
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn
Year: 2015

 

M. Night Shyamalan – the guy’s name has basically become synonymous with “crappy movie with a twist ending.” The filmmaker was once purported to be “the next Steven Spielberg” when he released his first film, The Sixth Sense, and people continued to call him a master of suspense with the release of his second, Unbreakable. There was a brief time when Shyamalan’s name in the credits was reason enough to go flock to the theatre and see his latest work, but something quickly changed in the public consciousness, it seemed. It seemed to start at a different time for everyone. For some, it was his alien invasion film Signs, with its improbably prophetic twist reveal. For others, it was The Village, which seemed to promise one movie in the trailers and delivered something completely different and ultimately disappointing with the end product. Some were even willing to go as far as The Lady in the Water, but others even took issue with Unbreakable, while others claim that one’s still superior to his first. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Jurassic World

June 19, 2015 2 comments
Jurassic WorldDirected by: Colin Trevorrow
Produced by: Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley; Steven Spielberg, Thomas Tull (executive producers)
Screenplay by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow
Story by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Edited by: Kevin Stitt
Cinematography by: John Schwartzman
Music by: Michael Giacchino, John Williams (themes)
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, B.D. Wong, Irrfan Khan, Katie McGrath, Jake Johnson, Lauren Lapkus, Judy Greer, Andy Buckley
Year: 2015

 

By now, you probably don’t need for me to review this film, as it seems like the whole world has thrown their money at it. However, I went bonkers a couple years ago when the original film was re-released in theatres in 3D, prompting me to do a complete run through of the entire then-trilogy. As a result, I kind of feel obligated to review the latest one. Besides, some of you might be insane or too “hip” to buy into this dinosaur spectacle “nonsense” but might be thinking of giving it a go on DVD or something in what is, for me, the future, so, yeah, I’m here to help. Read more…

REVIEW: Hocus Pocus

October 16, 2014 3 comments
Hocus PocusDirected by: Kenny Ortega
Produced by: David Kirschner, Steven Haft
Written by: Mick Garris, Neil Cuthbert (screenplay), David Kirschner, Mick Garris (story)
Edited by: Peter E. Berger
Cinematography by: Hiro Narita
Music by: John Debney
Starring: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Omri Katz, Thora Birch, Vinessa Shaw, Jason Marsden, Doug Jones, Sean Murray, Charles Rocket, Stephanie Faracy, Larry Bagby, Tobias Jelinek, Jodie Rivera
Year: 1993

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Despite my love for this film as a kid, it’d been quite some time since I ever actually saw this movie from beginning to end. A few scenes here and there on ABC Family, sure, but the viewing was always interrupted by something else. Perhaps it’s just because the end of September is the beginning of a very busy month for my family – a close family friend’s birthday is at the end of September, and then there’s my stepdad’s and then my own birthday, and then you get into the “holiday season” along with two more birthdays thrown in for good measure, and it’s just rare that you sit down to watch anything you either have seen before, that is, unless it’s mandatory viewing – kinda like Shaun of the Dead or the Scream films are for me. However, for many, I do know that this is the movie they look forward to seeing every time this year, and, you know, I can’t really blame them. It’s a really fun flick. Read more…

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