Mini Film Review: The Devils (1971)

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Ken Russell’s film “The Devils” is currently playing on Shudder. Naturally, as a proponent of free speech, I was drawn to this film, as I am a sucker for anything that is banned and or controversial. This film originally received a “X” rating and was subsequently banned here and in the UK. It has never received an uncut release (except in bootleg versions), and is still difficult to obtain, even censored.

I was disappointed to learn that even Shudder’s version omits some of the more controversial scenes and once I looked up what they omitted…holy shit…I would LOVE to see an uncut version! That said, this is a BRILLIANT film. Simply brilliant. And a BIZARRE film at that! That’s putting it mildly, really. Russell also made ‘Altered States‘ if that gives you any indication, but from the opening scene all the way to the credits, ‘The Devils’ is as brilliant as it is surreal – like an acid trip.

It’s billed as a horror film but really, it’s much more than that. What makes this film so horrifying, you realize, is that it’s all true! As brutal and grotesque as this film is, and trust me, (this is one fucked up movie), it becomes even more so when you realize it’s all historical…this film left me thinking about it, long after, in the middle of the night, when I kept replaying scenes over in my head, particularly the ending, which is just goddamn brutal, and haunting.

The editing on this film is magnificent and plays on your subconscious, hence the LSD reference above.

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Without delving too much into the plot (17th century France and sacrilege/heresy), I would suggest either just diving in and watching it yourself, or Googling it and looking up the history that the film is based on – both are shocking, literally. Seriously, do some research, it’s crazy!

Again, what makes this film so goddamn terrifying is that it’s all true, even documents from the event still exist and they’re nuts! These characters all existed and the events actually happened. I realize I’m repeating myself, but once you watch it, you’ll understand why. Truth is, after all, stranger than fiction.

A word of caution: this film is not for the squeamish or easily offended! If you’re devoutly religious I would avoid it if I were you…

That said, I challenge you to watch it and NOT ask yourself: what the fuck…Oh! And Roger Ebert hated it! HA!

 

 

 

 

 

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Mini Film Review: Colors (1988)

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Mini Film Review: Colors (1988) – Dir. by Dennis Hopper | Blu-Ray by Shout Factory

I’m fairly confident I know more about the film ‘Colors’ than the average person. I saw it in the theater approximately 8,000 years ago and it made a huge impression on me, and on many others. Recently, I purchased the “collector’s edition” on Blu-Ray from Shout Factory. I was hesitant to buy this film, yet again…I owned it on VHS and have watched it on cable a ton of times. But it’s an American classic. It’s a brilliant film. It’s also a time capsule and what it captures is something for historians IMO.

Other generations have Easy Rider, my generation had Colors. Yes, I feel that strongly about it. This version has the “unrated” cut of the film, which immediately drew me in (I’m a sucker for uncensored films and extras!). This unedited version has a MUCH longer sex scene between Maria C. and Sean Penn 👀 and it also has the brutal stabbing in Venice Beach, which is often edited out, and includes longer versions of other scenes, like Pac-Man making a crip choke on his crack rocks.

This version also includes interviews with screenwriter Michael Schiffer and technical advisor, and ex-L.A.P.D. gang division, Dennis Fanning, who has cameos in the film and who Sean Penn based his Pac-Man character on. Both interviews are fascinating, especially if you’re into the lore of how this film was made and why.

A few years back, I wrote an article called “Everything You Wanted to Know About Colors but were Afraid to Ask.” I included all kinds of “nasty cheese” in it and I still get e-mail about it to this day, which trips me out. I’m happy to announce that I will be including that essay, along with many others in an upcoming book of my essays.

Also, I’m having a hard time deciding where to post my mini film reviews, so that’s why I’m dusting off this blog! Ha!

Mini Film Review: We Go On (2016)

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Mini Film Review: We Go On – Dir. by Jesse Holland & Andy Mitton. 👍

This film is currently playing on Shudder. Not knowing anything about this film prior to seeing it, I wasn’t expecting much. I knew it was an afterlife/seeking ghosts flick and that it would have to be pretty damn good to hold a candle to that genre. Numerous films have done this premise, and quite well I might add. Stir of Echoes was great.

This film doesn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of premise, per se, but it is entertaining nonetheless. I enjoyed it. It had decent twists in it as well and the acting was surprisingly good.

This film, while polished, looks like a made for cable TV film but that’s not terribly distracting because the story moves along well. I usually enjoy films that explore the possibility of life after death without delving into the hokey aspect of it, which is easy to do. This one keeps it just serious enough to be creepy.

You won’t find any earth-shattering revelations in this one though, and it lacks star power, unless you count Annette O’toole, whom I had to look up to remembe why she looked os familair…48 Hours!

The soundtrack could have been MUCH stronger IMO (see It Follows), but it’s a good film nonetheless and I enjoyed it quite a bit. If you liked Stir of Echoes you’ll dig this.

Mini Film Review: The Green Inferno (2013)

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Mini Film Review: The Green Inferno, directed by Eli Roth. 👎👎

So I finally got around to seeing this. I really wanted to like it, as I’m a huge fan of the genre. I also rolled my eyes at the accusations of racism hurled at this film when it first came out. That said, this film is hot garbage and Eli Roth should be ashamed of himself for pissing on the cannibal genre with this weak attempt at an homage.

The Green Inferno is pointless and only serves as a vehicle for Roth to “torture” his audience with what amounts to a wasted effort in what could have been a decent film. Why Roth decided to torture/kill the “good” characters and leave the “bad” ones alone, with absolutely no logic or payoff behind it, is anyone’s guess, but at the end of the film it leaves you pissed off. If that was his intent it worked.

This film isn’t even a pimple on the ass of much superior cannibal films, mainly because those films have a great story, subtext and plot twists that actually work.

For example, Cannibal Holocaust has one of the best morals of all time at the end of the film, which gives licence to its brutality. This one? Pure wannabe garbage by a director who’s ego precedes his talent and absolutely no rhyme or reason to the story other than: oohh! Cannibals!

Lame. Avoid.

KISS: Creatures of the Night (1982)

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I went on a lunch hour crate digging expedition today and found some real gems. This is one of them. Now, I’m not the biggest KISS fan…but I love this album. Why? I bought it on cassette when it came out way back in 1982 and it made a huge impact on me.

I think it’s their heaviest album, which explains why I like it so much. All of their other albums are wussy disco shit compared to this. Certain songs? I can’t crank loud enough: Saint and Sinner/Rock And Roll Hell and War Machine 🔊 👌 Holy fuck, man…War Machine is KISS’ best song!!! Google it!

Anyway, yeah. Love this album. It reminds me of being a hellraising kid who was told over and over again by religious kooks how “evil” my music was. 👆

Fun fact: I always believed KISS stole the idea for the title track from Tierra and their song Night Creatures, which came out the year before.

Call Me (1998)

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Anyone ever see this movie? It’s a bizarre film to say the least but entertaining in the way that autowrecks in traffic are. It stars Patricia Charbonneau and Steve Buscemi is in it.

Basically, a chick starts getting obscene phone calls, gets turned on by it and then gets wrapped up in a murder triangle. Low rent Skinemax material but it struck me as weird cuz you don’t see studios make films like this any more.

Whatever happened to the Brian De Palmas of the world?

Rethinking ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’

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*Editor’s note: I originally wrote this on Tumblr but never published it. It stayed in my drafts for years. I have since consequently deleted my Tumblr account. I also talked about this film on a podcast I did in 2013. If you’re interested in listening to that podcast you can find it here.  Also, I realize this isn’t horror-related but hey, I like film and not always blood-splattered ones. 

Sometimes, when you talk about a film, you talk about yourself. It’s often revealing to dissect a movie because you are essentially deconstructing things while also deconstructing yourself along the way. Art is life – life is art and it is both delightful and painful to re-watch movies you have not seen for some time, but it’s an experience I recommend; especially if your memory of a film is either one of either great joy or disgust. Why? People mature.

I’m paraphrasing Roger Ebert here but the way in which you view a piece of art changes over time, or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. More often than not, when you re-watch a movie, you will discover new things about it, the story line and, more importantly, yourself. Sometimes these things will throw you for a loop if enough time passes.

Take ‘Peggy Sue Got Married,‘ for example, released in 1986 and directed by Francis Ford Coppola of all people. Now, I was never a huge fan of this film as a kid. In fact, I hated it. I couldn’t relate to it at all and promptly forgot about it. For one it’s an extremely “White” film, which is fine but it teeters on the surreal, a la Leave It To Beaver meets The Twilight Zone, but that’s kind of the point. Long story short, I watched it decades later and was surprised how much I enjoyed it.

Read the rest of the review here.