The Incredible Melting Man (1977) – Retro Review

Genre film fans, particularly old genre film fans, tend to be very forgiving when discussing terrible films of yesteryear. Most old-timers, including myself, can always find redeeming values that overcome problems of writing, directing, acting, or budget to create an entertaining experience. Of course, there are exceptions, such as Birdemic!, where there are no redeeming values to be found. A review of which would require only one or two sentences if that much. Not worth the effort.

Don’t misunderstand — The Incredible Melting Man is a very bad movie. It is also approaching cult status, if it hasn’t already reached that objective. Part of the rationale for this phenomenon lies with the delay in transition from VHS to DVD, which created a small-but-vocal demand from people like me who saw the film first-run at drive-in theaters in 1977, and have time-weakened memories. VHS print quality varied, probably due to generational duping, indicating that the film wasn’t taken very seriously by the distribution industry, and that lack of attention continued with a few DVD releases. But the main reason for its growing popularity is the special effects provided by a young Rick Baker (1950 – 2015) whose stature as a makeup artist was beginning to emerge out of low-budget genre films (John Landis’s first film Schlock, 1973; Larry Cohen’s It’s Alive, 1974; Jeff Lieberman’s Squirm, 1976; Batman artist/writer Bill Finger’s Track of the Moon Beast, 1976). This film was also the second (uncredited) appearance of special makeup superstar Greg Cannom (The Howling, 1981; Dreamscape, 1984; Dick Tracy, 1990; Mrs. Doubtfire, 1993). Together, these two practical effects experts were responsible for lifting The Incredible Melting Man out of obscurity and into genre film semi-stardom.

This new release, viewed for the first time over a period of three decades, is unintentionally hilarious all by itself. It needed absolutely no help from the egregious Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) that targeted the film for derision in 1996. As if it isn’t obvious, I am no fan of any production that takes older genre films, edits them down to smaller chunks for the benefit of idiots who toss off one-liners to make themselves look good. Viewers can, and should, make their own humorous comments from the comfort of their own couches – and true entertainment is derived from a complete, uncut film released in excellent Blu-ray format by Shout! Factory. Visually, the film is a crisp and clear 1080p HD delight that amplifies the extreme close-up photography used (or misused) throughout.

The story is linear and simplistic – the sole survivor of America’s first trip to the rings of Saturn (Alex Rebar in his only screen credit) is pulled from (unseen) wreckage and isolated in a nearby warehouse… er, hospital, cared for by one doctor and one nurse. He’s suffering from the effects of watching our sun through Saturn’s rings. How the sun and its flares got so big from that distance is not something to dwell upon. But his eyes bleed while out in space, and back on Earth he begins to melt. He kills the overweight nurse because somehow the only doctor around reached a diagnosis that the astronaut needs blood to survive. The now-monster escapes the conveniently- unguarded “hospital.” The rest of the 84-minute film is a chase through a lightly-wooded area populated by cannon fodder, one hilarious encounter after another (I have to reference the “fisherman.” I just have to.) But it will be more fun for viewers if I don’t provide details. Strangely, though, the film concludes with a confrontation that generates a modicum of suspense, and a final scene that’s successful in portraying black, bittersweet humor.

In addition to Baker and Cannom, above, there are a few recognizable names involved with the film. In the acting department, veteran TV personality Burr DeBenning (1936 – 2003) sleepwalks through the lead role of Dr. Ted Nelson, former friend of the afflicted monster, and enemy of extreme close-ups designed to minimize low-budget background exposure. Another veteran familiar to fans of 50s and 60s genre features ( a very late serial, Panther Girl of the Kongo, 1955; Jungle Moon Men, 1955; The Unearthly 1957) and virtually every TV series up through the 70s, is Myron Healy as General Perry. Of those two, Healy fares just a bit better as far as dialog is concerned, throwing orders around in his trademark deep, booming voice.

But the true villain of this piece – if you don’t include the mindless melting creature – is Writer/Director William Sachs. Responsible for story logic (there is none), dialog that is painful to hear, and direction that displays his limited range (and fondness for extreme close-ups) unless you’re a fan of his only other genre credit (Galaxina, 1980). Included in the DVD extras is an interview with Sachs in which he blames the producers for all of the budget constraints that destroyed an otherwise viable film. Take him at his word if you will, but I have difficulty putting responsibility on a group of producers that include an uncredited Max Rosenberg of Hammer Films and Amicus Productions, and production manager Peter Cornberg (first assistant director, Blade Runner, 1982; production manager, Testament, 1983).

Despite its myriad flaws, however, The Incredible Melting Man has survived time and troubles, hanging around for a decent treatment that presents its positive aspects in hi-def glory. While the film still generates loud guffaws (as it absolutely should), both old and new viewers will experience a highly entertaining piece of genre history.

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Bone Tomahawk (2015) – Raw Review

It’s hard enough to get a western made in Hollywood these days, let alone one infused with significant amounts of horror, but thank god someone green lit production on Bone Tomahawk.

Bone Tomahawk is without a doubt one of best movies of 2015. Smart, sophisticated, violent and atmospheric, no only is one of the better western films in the last thirty years but a damn brutal and terrifying horror movie as well.
Set in a small frontier town, the premise follows the Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell) as he leads a small group of volunteers (Patrick Wilson, Matthew Hunt, and Richard Jenkins) into the open prairie in pursuit of Troglodytes who’ve kidnapped several of the towns folk.
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Writer/director S. Craig Zahler’s screenplay is fantastic, setting a methodical pace for our heroes all the while fleshing out every character with some of the best dialogue I’ve ever heard in a film. The look and feel is immersive to the point that Bone Tomahawk transports the viewer into the time period thoroughly, engaging us with its attention to location and set designs, superior acting and a willingness to show the brutality of the old west.
The horror elements are largely held in reserve until the third act, but when they come they are as brutal as anything seen in more over the top horror films. Bone Tomahawk stands out however because Zahler does such a magnificent job establishing the narrative and context in the first two acts that the crescendo of violence leaves us paralyzed with anticipation and genuine fear for our heroes.
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I would be remiss if I failed to emphasize just how impressive Richard Jenkins, who plays Chicory the back-up deputy, is throughout the film. Jenkins performance is far and away the best of any I’ve seen in 2015 and although Bone Tomahawk is unlikely to be short listed for any of the Oscar categories Jenkins deserves a golden statue as much as anyone who receives one next month.
I cannot recommend this film enough. It’s easily in my favorite horror movies of 2015 along with It Follows, Spring, and We Are Still Here. Additionally, it fits in nicely with more mainstream violent films such as Sicario.
And for those hardcore horror fans out there, Bone Tomahawk features a cameo from Sid Hag, in a role that is probably the best he’s ever done.
Bone Tomahawk is now available on Blu-ray and Amazon Prime. DO NOT miss this movie.
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Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse (2015) – Raw Review

Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse isn’t going to get anyone their film-making merit badge.

Scouts  is yet another offering in the zom-com genre, one that’s become saturated with lackluster and genuinely terrible films. Scouts doesn’t quite fall into the latter category but lackluster is an apt description for a film that for all purposes could have been much better than it was.

Starring Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan and Sarah Dumont, Scouts vs Zombies (original working title) follows three teenage ‘boy’ scouts who find themselves unknowingly thrown into a zombie outbreak during a camping trip. The film plays all the standard teen comedy, coming-of-age tropes you might expect but it does so half heartedly at best. Director Christopher Landon, whose writing career is prominent with films like Disturbia and all but the first film in the Paranormal Activity franchise, shows his lack of experience in handling Scouts comedy beats which come off silly and flat throughout most of the film. Much the way Cooties failed to hit the mark, Scouts suffers an even worse fate due to the lower caliber of acting from the cast. Tye Sheridan does a decent job, and silly but decent cameo by Cloris Leachman is a nice addition, but a pretty ridiculous recurring role for David Koechner will leave a lot of people scratching their heads.

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Zom-com films, when handled poorly, often enough go overboard on either the horror or the comedy. Scouts misses the mark on both, leaving horror fans wanting more fleshing eating zombie scenes and comedy fans stuck with the same ol’ stupid sight gags. I’ll give Landon credit for not relying on toilet humor, which one might expect for a movie of this caliber, but there are several boob and dick gags that do little in the way of laughs and nothing at all for story or character development.

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All-in-all, Scouts is a poor addition to the ever growing list zom-com films. For those who enjoy the genre there is little to find here that hasn’t been done exceptionally better in films like Cockney’s vs. Zombies, Shaun of the Dead, Zombeavers, Fido, Zombieland, Dance of the Dead, etc etc.

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Resolution (2012) – Raw Review

Resolution is a fascinating film, having received a lot of credit for being “genre-bending.” I think that’s just a fancy way to say the movie turned out not to be what a lot of people expected. The movie originally wasn’t on my radar. Not until I saw Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead’s superior film Spring did I learned they had a couple other productions under their belts, including Resolution and the extremely enjoyable skateboard segment in V/H/S Viral.

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So what’s my opinion of Resolution?

 

Benson and Moorhead are skilled film makers, there’s no doubt. They have a very good handle on the concepts of suspense, slow-burn storytelling, and creepy undertone. The film really is quite different from conventional thriller-horror films. The primary narrative revolves around Michael Danube (played by Peter Cilella), a professional city dweller who heads off on a last crusade to help his best friend  Chris Daniels (played by Vinny Curran) kick a destructive drug habit. Not much to it for sure and in lesser hands the film probably would turn into a moopy commentary on the perils of addiction.

 

Not here.

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The dynamic between Cilella and Curran is impressive and I had absolutely no problem believing the two were long time friends pit in a life and death struggle over each other’s fates. This is key, considering the supernatural (if that’s in fact the correct way to phrase it) elements throughout the first two acts are extremely subtle. Without a solid piece of acting from our two protagonists this film would have been dead on arrival. Instead, we become engrossed in strange and fucked up house that Chris has come to inhabit on a Native American Reservation. Why does he have so many guns? Why do the local tribesmen warn Michael of helping his friend? Why is everyone obsessed with the idea of a beginning, middle and end? The mystery is compelling and revealed slowly enough to make the ending invoke a “Holy Shit, WTF… that was cool” response.

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Don’t get me wrong, this movie isn’t going to be for everyone. Countless reviews compare it to Cabin in the Woods, and although I understand the similarities these two movies have regarding subversion of expectations, they really are completely different films. Don’t be expecting an underground complex full of nightmare creatures, campy one liners or Sigourney Weaver to arrive in the final moments with a full explanation of the film. Benson and Moorhead are much more subtle than that, doing a very good job with what must have been a tightly held budget. Resolution is a decent film for anyone interested in thriller with supernatural elements. Good acting, great direction and attention to storytelling pay off.

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We Are Still Here (2015) – Raw Review

Anyone who enjoys small mystery, dark undercurrents and a shit-ton of gore will want to see We Are Still Here.

 

Set in the wintery fields of New England, a grieving couple purchase an old house that’s remained unoccupied for 30 years. A house that wakes up every 30 years to feed.

Filmmaker Ted Geoghegan has made a very good film here. A creepy and gore filled tale that has is extremely flavourful and engaging. What begins as a standard ghost story turns out to be a much darker and violent ride through the house’s history. There is a bit of set-up early on but the patience shown on the part of Geoghegan pays off in spades when the action kicks in.

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Exceptionally good performances by the veteran cast keep things interesting as the malevolent force works it’s way out of the shadows. It’s not surprising considering the amazing and genre savvy talent in the film. Barbara Crampton (You’re Next, Re-Animator, From Beyond), Andrew Sensenig (Upstream Color, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night), Lisa Marie (Sleepy Hollow, Mars Attacks!, Tales of Halloween), and Larry Fessenden (Stake Land, I Sell the Dead, Jug Face).

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What did surprise me about the movie is how economical it turns out to be. There isn’t a lot of extraneous dialogue or overly long shots. Either it’s very tightly scripted or was edited with some skill, or both. While watching We Are Still Here my mind kept drifting back to It Follows. Not because of similarities in story, but because both films use tightly filmed stationary shots of the environment to full effect. In this film, Ted Geoghegan’s superior cinematography is used to wrap this small but devious tale inside a beautiful landscape. A landscape that contrasts sharply with the boiling hot viciousness lurking within the film’s main location.

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Don’t go thinking this is a slow, boring ghost story. We Are Still Here packs a violent, blood and guts punch. Coupled with some really well handled visual effects, the gore does a fabulous job of relating just how horrible and cosmic the antagonistic force is, and what it is prepared to do to the souls who dare enter its house.

Highly recommended.

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Krampus (2015) – Raw Review

Now that Halloween is in the rear-view mirror, the number of legitimate horror films traditionally take a nose-dive in favor of holiday blockbusters of various genres. Thanksgiving and Christmas films have generally favored heartwarming family fare, or PG-13 action-driven adventures. And although holiday  horror lovers have occasionally been thrown a bone or two (pun intended) in the form of killer turkeys (Thankskilling, 2009) or holiday-themed slashers (Black Christmas, twice, 1974 and 2006; Silent Night, Deadly Night, 1984; Slayride, 2016), the fables and mythologies behind our end-of-year celebration has received little attention, particularly from the standpoint of budgetary consideration.

Until this year.

This Christmas season viewers have been… er, treated… to not one but two newly-released films centering on a very old, primarily European mythology that has several variants but targets Krampus, an evil counterpart to Santa Claus who punishes naughty children during the Christmas season.  Depending on your source of information, the origin of Krampus dates back long before Christ was attached to “mas.” Some experts on European fables cite Norse legends; others say this child-stealer comes from Teutonic folklore, and indeed, parades honoring Krampus are a big deal in Austria. Search YouTube for the Krampus celebration in Graz, Austria, and find the current celebration full of terrifying costumes that are very consistent and similar in their depiction. Other stories handed down through generations reveal Krampus to be the brother of Saint Nicholas, sometimes known as Black Peter in Denmark, who came into being when the dualism of the Catholic Church took hold in both Eastern and Western orthodoxies.

Very few films have dealt with this wealth of background information. In 2010, Netherlands director Dick Maas brought Sint (Saint) to the US, a mashup of mythological characterizations in which Saint Nicholas manifests on Krampus Day (December 5) if there is a full moon, to punish, steal, and/or kill children who haven’t been nice. Saint is a reasonably entertaining horror film, full of action, blood, and guts, although it is muddled in the telling. By far the best European import of this type to date is Rare Exports (Finland, 2010), wherein a small group of families on the Russian border, find the actual Santa Claus (buried? sleeping?) in the Korvatunturi  mountains, and this version of Santa doesn’t toast them with a grin and a bottle of Coca-Cola. The Finns capture him/it, put him/it in a cage in a misguided attempt to make money for the struggling local economy, and then suffer his/its wrath when a multitude of Black Peter acolytes attack the people in a rather harrowing rescue attempt. A fine, exciting genre film with a child’s sense of wonder, Rare Exports is yet another story that plays a bit fast and loose with the traditional dichotomy of Krampus and Saint Nicholas.

Writer/Director Michael Dougherty, seemingly joined at the hip with director Bryan Singer (X-Men 2, 2003; Superman Returns, 2006; the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse, 2016) established himself as an excellent purveyor of holiday horror with the now-cult classic Trick ‘r Treat (2007), a set of connected Halloween tales that introduced Sam Hain, a creepy child-like figure wearing a gunny-sack over his head.

 ** WARNING!  Possible spoilers from this point! **

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In Dougherty’s new production, the incarnation of Krampus follows a mix of original traditions including a very strong fairy tale vibe. Krampus arrives on the scene after young Max (Emjay Anthony) tears up his Christmas letter to Santa Clause in a fit of rage and frustration brought about from bickering and lack of holiday spirit in his parents (Adam Scott and Toni Collette). When equally-dysfunctional familial relations descend on the already-troubled family, the stage is set for both black comedy and eventual horror. Although Dougherty’s opening fifteen minutes conjures up strong similarities to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (including Conchata Ferrell in the role of sour, sarcastic Aunt Dorothy while channeling Berta from Two and a Half Men), he invests each character with a compassionate, loving core that shines through now and then. When Krampus finally arrives, the peril encompasses not only children but adults as well, and their argumentative and contentious natures are supplanted by strong emotional bonding. Viewers come to root for the families. This is not a film that follows a linear slasher, one death after another, story format.

 

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Production design and set decoration by veterans Jules Cook and Daniel Birt, respectively, is absolutely stunning. From the arrival of a massive blizzard that takes out neighborhood power, to the appearance of twisted, nasty-looking snowmen that multiply in front of the protagonist’s home, viewers are taken into an entirely different dimension. Krampus himself is doled out sparingly, with shadowy images of something jumping across neighborhood rooftops, to gigantic cloven hooves stomping through the snow-covered streets. It’s an intense, highly suspenseful tactic. Viewers looking for standard plotting tropes will be pleasantly surprised to find very few. Dougherty inserts a few twists that keep the action and mystery running at top speed. Special effects are numerous, mixing very good CGI where necessary with some excellent practical puppetry. Every effect from creature design to matte painting and more is supplied by a group of New Zealand-based companies headed by the well-known Weta Digital. There is a decent budget for this film, and it shows.

The most recent issue of Rue Morgue Magazine (December, #162) features cover art, production snapshots, and an interview with Dougherty in which he discusses his motivation and rationale for this film. Most of us already know that Michael Dougherty can write and direct appealing horror films – and for this reason, I am willing to forgive him for Superman Returns – but with Krampus, he’s set a higher bar for himself. Trick ‘r Treat 2 has been announced, which is indeed good news. But I would like to see Dougherty continue with solid one-offs. He has a talent and imagination that should not be confined to franchise film production.

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Dead Girl (2008) – Raw Review

Necrophilia Was Never So Disturbing.

So what would you do if you found a sexy, naked, dead woman chained to a bed in the basement of an abandoned mental hospital?

Seriously, what would you do? She looks alive but isn’t. Does that mean the normal rules of law and order, not to mention morality, don’t apply to your actions?

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Well this is the premise the audience is presented with in this film. You could argue that it glorifies rape, bondage, and sociopathic behavior in young people; or you could just watch the movie for its entertainment value. The movie is definitely graphic and disturbing at times. Not as disturbing as Human Centipede but close enough. Don’t get too wrapped up in analyzing this film, just enjoy it for what it is – a horror movie with an incredibly original idea and great execution.Dead Girl, zombie, zombies, horror, horror movie, thriller, monster, sexy, nudity, necrophilia, disturbing, movie review, raw movie review
No One Lives, movie review, raw review, horror, horror movie, thriller, action, serial killer, Luke Evans, torture, gore, blood, Raw Movie Reviews

No One Lives (2013) – Raw Review

A lot of movies toy with the idea of evil being the good guy, or at very least the sympathetic protagonist. In many cases this premise is subverted and what starts out as the evil turns out really to be good, the good then becoming evil, etc.  No One Lives looks as if it’s headed in that direction until it abruptly doesn’t. A slick and polished slasher film, No One Lives decides to play, what might otherwise be a subversive anti-hero trope, as a serious evil vs evil duel of sorts. It works well when done correctly.
The story follows a ‘rich’ couple, played by Luke Evans and Laura Ramsey, who are relocating for an undisclosed reason. There is something different about them right from the get go, something eerie and undefined. Next we meet a group of highwaymen who are certainly the type of people your momma warned you about. Thieves, killers, lawbreakers, you name it. Lead by Lee Tergesen the group cross paths with our rich couple. Predictably the loose cannon of the group decides to waylay the couple and from there things begin to get good. As mentioned above, convention typically dictates that even if your protagonist isn’t a ‘good guy’ in a traditional sense they should still be empathetic or audiences won’t care about their struggle, conflict, or outcome. The one exception to this? Make your protagonist The Unfettered.
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An extremely version of the anti-hero, the Unfettered has no limitations, no boundaries, no inconvenient moral code, no scruples. They are unique in their focus on a specific goal or outcome. They care not for the ripple effect their actions cause to others or society at large. They may have emotions but don’t expect those to get in the way of their objective. Ruthless and cunning (assuming they are smart), devoted to to the end game, and completely immune to bargaining, reason, pity, remorse, fear, you name it. Sound scary? Absolutely.
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So when our protagonist decides these less than reputable people have made a mess of his grand plans, well… all hell breaks loose. We try to avoid spoilers here so I’m not going to get into any more specifics. Just know that this movie takes a bad guy vs bad guys plotline to the extreme. Uber violent, super bloody, over the top gory on a couple occasions, and unrelenting make it very hardcore film indeed. All that aside, it’s more an action movie than a horror film. Think Taken mashed with Friday the 13th. Can you imagine Liam Neeson on screen gutting a body, dropping arms and legs into a wood-chipper, slicing off a woman’s face while smiling? You can? You’re a sicko who will probably really enjoy this film.
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No One Lives is a fun gore-ride through vendetta turned sport. Luke Evans is fantastic from beginning to end. His counterparts, the beautiful Adelaide Clemens and creepy-ass Derek Magyar, are also dazzling throughout. If rampage or vengeance movies are your thing and you don’t mind a lot of onscreen murder then you won’t want to miss this one.
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Cooties (2015) – Raw Review

Cooties is a pretty run-of-the-mill zom-com. As an action horror it’s decent, yet unremarkable. As a horror movie it’s violent and gory, yet unremarkable. As a comedy it provides a lot of laughs, a few chuckles, and yet is unremarkable.

 

The premise is simple – tainted chicken nugget turns kid into a zombie of sorts, from there is spreads to other kids, and so forth. The film never really classifies it’s feral children as zombies. They start more as crazed infected until hair and body parts start dropping off. They are fast moving, intelligent, able to hunt, and dangerous. Always finding ways around the teacher’s tricks and traps. If you’re looking for more traditional zombie fair you might be disappointed, but for what the movie is trying to do, non-traditional works just fine.

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The main downside to the film is the canned storyline and underdeveloped characters. Elijah Wood and Amy Pill provide some good chemistry against the over-the-top shenanigans of Rainn Wilson, creating a funny if not completely ridiculous love triangle. Wilson plays the douche bag gym teacher to perfection, landing just about every one liner he’s given. Unfortunately even a great Rainn Wilson can’t hold up the film on his own. A always hilarious Jack McBrayer is woefully underutilized and Jorge Garcia’s role is almost non-existent, except to trip-out and be available when necessary.

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Adam Sandler has proven time and again that you don’t need a story or interesting characters to draw millions of people to the theatre. All you need is witty banter and a bunch of people not getting along. Cooties banks on this concept but makes the wise decision to dress the film in campy horror. A splash of gore, a few dismembered bodies, and just a touch of the apocalypse. It’s the horror that makes the movie better than it should be. Not a lot better, but fun and watchable.

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There are some genuinely awesome moments in this movie. The best involving a distracted mother, an SUV, a baby in a car seat, and an infected boy being picked up from school. First time directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion do a good job with this movie. It’s well directed and well filmed. The comedic beats are handled well enough to get the laughs, but the story beats feel like old hat a lot of the time. Had the movie been more comedic, or conversely more horrific, then it might have been a homerun. As it stands Cooties is an enjoyable film that most people will find palatable for a popcorn horror showing.  

 

Sicario Raw Movie Review, crime, drama, cartel, drugs, drug violence, thriller, movie, Mexico, Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, movie review, FBI, CIA, drug cartel

Sicario (2015) – Raw Review

Sicario is as dark and terrifying as any film you will see this year, proving that sometimes the best horror movies aren’t horror at all.

This review isn’t going to attempt to question or deconstruct the political and social tones associated with the U.S./Mexico relationship. This is a movie review, not an op-ed on U.S. drug policy, economic relations, or immigration. That caveat in place, Sacario is a movie unlike any other we’ve received from the big-budget Hollywood machine in quite awhile. Listed as actor Taylor Sheridan’s (Sons of Anarchy) first writing credit, Sicario is not a horror movie, but only because it’s based in a world that exists. A world is right next door.  

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Emily Blunt plays an idealistic FBI agent who’s brought in to work a special task force dealing with the Mexican drug cartels. It doesn’t take long for her to realize that just as the Cartels don’t play by the rules of law, American assets don’t always play by the rules either. Along with Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro, the cast is a powerhouse. If Oscar buzz isn’t already intensifying it won’t be long till it does.

From the first minute of the film to the last we are exposed to a world where humans dwell, yet humanity has been forgotten. The sheer brutality and graphic nature of the story might be considered hyperbolic if the subject matter wasn’t taken directly from real life. All it takes is a perusal of sites such as Blog del Narco and Wikileaks to see what both the Mexican Cartels and U.S. government are capable of, and while the brutality and inhumanity portrayed in Sicario may be a concentrated dose of the worst aspects of the drug war, the film is grounded in enough realism to be entirely plausible.

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Director Denis Villeneuve, whose previous films include Prisoners and Enemy, does a masterful job using long cinematic shots in conjunction with sharp direct close-ups to throw us deep into the dangers faced by his cast. The American Southwest is presented as a stage upon which a war is raging on both sides of the border. Combined with Johann Johannsson’s amazing score, Sicario establishes a suffocating intensity to every scene. In an article on Noisey by Joseph Yanick, composer Johannsson is quoted as saying:

I wanted to create music that had an underlying tension and a sense of coming from below the earth, like a throbbing pulse that resonates from underground or the pounding heartbeat of a wild beast that is charging at you. I also wanted to evoke the sadness and melancholy of the border, the border fences and the tragedy of the drug war.

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In many ways Sicario is reminiscent of films like It Follows, Gravity, and Mad Max: Fury Road. The score doesn’t just add background music, it’s an additional member of the cast, giving a powerful and pivotal performance that makes a great film even better.

Sicario is the dark, visceral horror crime-drama we’ve waited and hoped for all year. Take an opportunity and see this film. It shows what the perfect arrangement of writer, director and composer can accomplish in Hollywood.

Sicario Raw Movie Review, crime, drama, cartel, drugs, drug violence, thriller, movie, Mexico, Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, movie review, FBI, CIA, drug cartel