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.

¡Letterbox This! Or the continuing folly of widescreen format in the digital age

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*Ed. Note: I originally published a rough draft version of this article on the black hole of blogging known as “Tumblr” and it was met with ready wit and stunning repartee. Just kidding. It was ignored. Don’t blog on Tumblr. No one reads anything there.

Wanna know what’s funny? Remember way back when “letterbox” format was new to the general public and you would get all these people freaking out about the “black boxes” or bars on their TVs? There were convinced (wrongly) that they were missing something when, in fact, they were getting the whole picture, as intended, on outdated televisions.

What is “letterbox” you ask? The following definition, from rtings, spells it out pretty well:

“The position and size of black bars on your television depend on two factors: the aspect ratio of your television and the aspect ratio of the video you are watching. Any mismatch between the two will be filled by the black color. This practice is called letterboxing.”

Okay. Maybe you don’t remember (I love dating myself on here by the way), but I do! It was a big deal. I grew up on things like “square” TV, three networks channels, one public one and one UHF channel and of course, black and white TV. Going to the movie theater to see a film, in what was then, “movie aspect ratio,” was fun because it was different…bigger!

Flash forward a decade or so and everything started to change. I’m in that generation of people where technology started to make leaps and bounds and quickly! At one time, I was excited about all the “letterbox” movies they were releasing on VHS and I collected quite a few. I still have them…in the garage. :/

And, man, did people ever complain about this new-found technology…which wasn’t really new! It took forever for “widescreen” to become the norm and yet many people still don’t really understand it.

What kills me these days is seeing networks do the reverse…but I digress.

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Review: It Follows (2014)

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“Childhood is over the moment you know you’re going to die.” – Top Dollar, The Crow (1994)

“Nothing gold can stay.” – Johnny, The Outsiders (1983)

These two quotes came to mind after watching It Follows (2014), directed by David Robert Mitchell. They didn’t come to mind immediately after watching the movie but in doing some research on the film after being left with unanswered questions. It Follows, in my opinion, is one of those films that requires more than one viewing in order to really get the gist of what’s going on. Or maybe I’m just slow…

One of my pet peeves is having to Google a movie after I watch it in order to figure out what happened. This usually results in me either hating the film or obsessing over it. With It Follows, I found myself with lots of questions and when the credits rolled I felt let down and wanting more explanation. But I wasn’t sure if this was because I was supposed to feel this way or if I just didn’t “get it.” It turns out it was a combination of the two.

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Review: We Are Still Here

I watched ‘We Are Still Here,’ from Dark Sky films recently. It was mediocre at best. I’d been wanting to see it as it was hyped by some as a homage to the gore and splatter of Italian master Lucio Fulci. Plus, it was produced by the same people that did ‘The House of the Devil’ and ‘Starry Eyes’ and was supposed to be a “throwback” film.

Well, suffice to say that the production company hit a home run on ‘The House of the Devil’ got a “walk” on ‘Starry Eyes’ and struck out with this film. It’s flat and loses its way towards the end. What a disappointment.

It started off great and the first act is spectacular but shortly thereafter the film starts to fall apart and you are left with a mess and one with too many questions and contradictions.

From a writing standpoint, this film seems to suffer from too many writers and not enough resolved or developed ideas. I blame the director for this and for not going to print with something more concrete. There are way too many unfinished and half-cocked ideas at play, leaving you scratching your head.

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