Double Team (1997)

Bad as I Wanna Be

If nothing else, one can admire the fact that Double Team represents an era of film when studios weren’t afraid to take big risks.  Today, the idea of spending 30 million dollars on an R-rated movie starring a past-his-prime action star and a famous athlete would never get past the pitching stage, let alone greenlit.  And though Double Team’s gamble didn’t pay off, neither in quality nor box-office receipts; I, for one, am happy that this turkey exists.

Continue reading

Come to Daddy

Dad on Arrival

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I streamed Come to Daddy.  Though it bills itself as a horror movie, it was fairly clear from the title and description that this wasn’t the case – at least, not entirely.  It defies easy categorization, always a welcome quality; unfortunately, in this case, it also turns out to be the movie’s fatal flaw.

Continue reading

Deep Blue Sea (1999)

deep blue sea

Shark-Witted

Jaws is the best shark movie; this is not up for debate.  What is up for debate is the still-prestigious mantle of the second-best shark movie.  While the oft-cited Open Water and The Shallows are formidable contenders, my pick for the true heir to the post-Jaws throne is 1999’s Deep Blue Sea. Continue reading

Sputnik

sputnik

Red Scares

Despite its name, Sputnik is not a space-set horror movie.  Most of it takes place on Earth, within the confines of a claustrophobic military laboratory.  We open aboard a Russian satellite, with two Soviet cosmonauts preparing for their descent back to Earth.  After technical trouble and a run-in with an unseen creature, the spacecraft crash lands on Earth, with Konstantin (Pyotr Fyodorov) the sole survivor. Continue reading

13 Sins (2014)

13 sins

The Most Dangerous Game

Elliot Brindle (Mark Webber) is in a bad place.  Already riddled with debts and caring for his mentally disabled brother (Devon Graye), Elliot gets fired from his insurance sales job for not being cutthroat enough.  With a cranky father (Tom Bower) to house and a baby on the way, things don’t look good.  But just when he seems to be out of options, Elliot receives a mysterious call from an anonymous voice who knows all about Elliot’s financial struggles. Continue reading

Fatal Affair

fatal affair

An Affair to Forget

The psychotic-admirer thriller emerged in 1987 with Fatal Attraction and has since spawned countless followers.  It’s a subgenre I hold dear, my personal favorites being the deliciously trashy Fear and the manipulative-yet-gripping The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.  Though its ’90s heyday may be behind us, the formula refuses to die, proving to be a reliable template for lowbrow, frequently “erotic” fare.  Just in the past few years we’ve had The Intruder (psychotic ex-homeowner), Greta (psychotic mother-figure), and Ma (psychotic booze hookup).  Now Netflix is getting in on the action with Fatal Affair, a movie as lazy as its title. Continue reading

Amadeus: The Director’s Cut (1984)

amadeus

An Artist of Note

Looking back at Amadeus, the first thing that comes to mind is the sad realization that it wouldn’t stand a chance in hell of being made today.  A big-budgeted period piece about a well-known but fairly niche subject would be deemed far too financially risky in today’s timid Hollywood.  How lucky we are, then, that this movie was made at all, since it’s the kind of auteur-driven, thrillingly original, and richly cinematic movie so rarely seen in modern theaters. Continue reading

7500

7500

Cabin Pressure

7500, an airborne thriller from Amazon Studios, stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tobias Ellis, the co-pilot of a nighttime flight from Berlin to Paris, on which his girlfriend (Aylin Tezel) is working as a flight attendant.  Shortly after the plane takes off, a quartet of terrorists storm the cockpit brandishing makeshift knives.  Though Tobias manages to close the cockpit door, the scuffle leaves him injured and the captain (Carlo Kitzlinger) incapacitated, along with a terrorist Tobias knocked out and tied up.  Left to fly the plane and contact authorities on the ground by himself, Tobias’s only links to the rest of the plane are the intercom system and the security camera mounted just outside the cockpit.  As the terrorists in the main cabin grow impatient, they force Tobias to make increasingly brutal choices as the de facto hostage negotiator. Continue reading

Hannibal (2001)

hannibal

Hungry for More

There’s no question that The Silence of the Lambs is a great movie.  The makers of Hannibal certainly think so; otherwise they wouldn’t invoke its memory every chance they get.  It’s a quality that’s oddly ahead of its time, portending modern sequels like Jurassic World and The Force Awakens that get most of their mileage from milking their beloved predecessors.  Hannibal’s most shameless reference is the title character’s multiple utterances of the famous line, “Hello, Clarice,” which was never actually said in The Silence of the Lambs but plowed its way into pop culture history anyway.  The charitable interpretation of this Mandela effect-made-real is that it’s a knowing joke on the part of the filmmakers, though it’s easier to dismiss it – and the rest of Hannibal’s blatant throwbacks – as pandering. Continue reading