Ghosthouse (1988): I've repeatedly gone on record stating that I'm generally not as much of an admirer of the film's of Umberto Lenzi as many of my peers are. I do make exceptions for Lenzi's exceptional films, though, so the glorious insanity of Spasmo does have a giant place in my heart, where now also dwells the glorious insanity of the improbable TV movie Ghosthouse.
What caused San Francisco society man Jefferson Monk (George Macready) to lose his head in a freak accident? And whatever happened to his head? Private detectives Jack Packard (Jim Bannon) and Doc Long (Barton Yarborough) know the answer to at least one of these questions because they started working on the highly mysterious case of Mr Monk a few days earlier.
After he killed his adopted dad, one of the original Gatlin children, Eli (Daniel Cerny), and his adopted brother Joshua (Ron Melendez) are taken into the foster care of Amanda (Nancy Lee Grahn) and William Porter (Jim Metzler) in beautiful Chicago.
If you know me, you know how much traditional ghost stories and weird supernatural fiction mean to me, and that I’m all over films that attempt to put these traditionally more literary tales on screen.
This week’s column on Exploder Button is about such a film, and one I find an particularly remarkable example not just of how to do this kind of story right on screen but also of how to do low budget/indie/whatever filmmaking well. So click on through, please!
Unsuccessful insurance salesman Barry (Gary Frank) thinks his luck is finally turning around when his boss is giving him the opportunity for some easy money by closing a life insurance deal with a Mrs Elva Briggs (Frances Foster). Unfortunately, Mrs Briggs is living in one of those nightmarish towers city planners thought were ideal for stacking poor black people in, and Barry quickly falls foul of the local gang, the Vampires, under their fearless leader, The Count (Tony Todd) who does everything in his power to kill Barry.
aka The Shooter
(This write-up is based on the shorter US cut of the movie that excises about ten minutes of scenes meant to deepen characterization and make the plot clearer).
(I wrote this little rant before the film’s expected Academy Awards wins, which only goes to show that obvious things are obvious).
I’m not as enamoured with Alfonso Cuarón’s SF film as mainstream critics seem to be, but let’s start with the good first.
Cynthia (Sarah Torgov) has just been released from hospital after a breakdown following the accidental death of her baby. The baby’s father, her boyfriend Jeff (Mark Erickson), thinks it’s a good idea to fly her camping on an island somewhere in the American North-West. Their friends Terri (Caroline Barclay), Rob (Mark Lindsay Chapman), Lynn (Fiona Hutchison), and Paul (Stephen Shellen) accompany the couple, but what was supposed to be a relaxing time ends up rather differently for everyone involved.
This one is not treated to a full, detailed write-up with one or two mad theories about subtext (and stuff) of my own thrown in only because I don't want to risk spoiling the rather deliciously confusing/confused first thirty minutes that do that loathsome and tired "people without a memory meet at some place or other" shtick so good I quit complaining about it after about ten seconds for anyone.
Original title: 짐승 (Jim-seung)
Some shady but not very bright gangsters with an internet porn business decide that the way of the future is more or less kidnapping some real (racing queen-type) models and pressing them into service for live internet snuff rape pornography. Thus happens to Bo-ra (Nalie Lee), who is at least luckier than one of her model friends and not accidentally getting killed by her incompetent captors.
aka The Avenger
Murder-plagued London is disturbed by a killer who prefers to deposit the heads of his victims – most of whom are these proverbial criminals who escaped the law - in nice cardboard boxes for the police to find keeping the bodies all for himself. Publicly, he goes by the name of the Head Hunter, though he himself prefers to see himself as the Benefactor.
Kick Ass 2 (2013): Despite my general loathing for the works of Mark Millar (with some exceptions) I actually thought the first Kick Ass was a pretty successful mixture of sledgehammer satire, American toilet humour, and more actual human warmth than you'd expect given the source material's boring cynicism. Alas, someone must have drugged director Matthew Vaughn before he made the sequel or something, because this one's just a pale imitation of the first one, with at best two or three good moments.