Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

June 1, 2022

Static Age #21: Out of this World (1962)

 

Out of this World (1962) R2 DVD box art

This Static Age’s spotlight goes to Out of this World (1962), the British sci-fi anthology series broadcasted on ITV. Hosted by Boris Karloff, it ran for 14 episodes (including the pilot), but as was the case with may shows from the era, the tapes were erased and all episodes are considered lost, aside from the sole surviving ‘Little Lost Robot’. That episode, based on Isaac Asimov’s story is about a loyal robot that takes a command literally (“get lost” it is told) and becomes confused. Directed by Douglas James, this is as naïve as television sci-fi was in the 1960s, but it made me wonder what the rest of the episodes would look like. Other episodes were based on the works of Philip K. Dick and Clifford D. Simak, so we can only wish that one day they will get unearthed (although I’m not holding my breath). This was a spin-off from the legendary Armchair Theatre (1956 – 1974) series, which we will tackle at some point in the future via this column.

 

And now, let’s switch our focus towards some recent series…

 

Lethal Weapon - Season 2

Further adventures of buddy cops Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford) and Roger Murtlaugh (Damon Wayans) are available on the 2nd season of Lethal Weapon (2016 – 2019), which is once again fun and exciting (most of the stunts and explosions are of cinematic quality), but also very problematic for this day and age when it so blatantly glorifies the cop and the heterosexual family (and its dubious values).

 

American Gods - Season 2

The 2nd season of American Gods (2017 – 2021), based on Neil Gaiman’s same-titled hit novel (and executive produced by the author) takes us again deep into rural America where we will witness the doings of several fallen and decadent gods. It’s obvious though that America’s greatest god is money. Benefiting from a great cast that includes Crispin Glover (although everybody speaks as if they’re in Twin Peaks, and that without David Lynch behind the camera) and Emily Browning (a very strong actress and an absolute doll), this is masterfully directed and comes with operatic violence that will haunt you for a long time. Plus, the gods are having explicit sex with each other and humans alike, but would you expect any less from divine lust?

 

American Crime Story - Season 2

The 2nd season of American Crime Story (2016 – present) is about the murder of fashion design extraordinaire Gianni Versace (Edgar Ramirez) by his boyfriend and all-around compulsive liar turned serial killer Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss). Based on the book ‘Vulgar Favors’ by Maureen Orth and adapted for the television screen by Tom Rob Smith, this perfectly captures the world of the 1990s Los Angeles luxurious gay scene and beyond.

 

Following a couple of mediocre if fun seasons, the 3rd season of Slasher (2016 – present) is gruesome and intelligent. Offering plenty of gore (as well as a bit of nudity) while focusing on the harsh reality of modern life with our meaningless addiction to social media (mostly the morbid side of the phenomenon) and equally meaningless desire for acceptance by a society that is corrupted in several ways. The series stalker The Druid is back to take out racists, wife abusers, and other scum (as well as some innocents along the way). Mean-spirited in its violence, but kind in its representation of queer culture, this show has matured really well.

 

Also, please allow me to speak a word or two about some recent documentaries…

 

Tales of the Uncanny (2020)

Produced by Severin Films, director David Gregory’s (who also produced, with Kier-La Janisse) Tales of the Uncanny (2020) documentary takes you on a chronological journey of anthology horror films, from their literary origins to the present day indie outings and everything in between, by combining talking heads clips from experts and filmmakers as well as film clips.

 

Produced by Severin Films, writer/director Kier-La Janisse’s (who also produced, with Winnie Cheung) documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror (2021) packs more information on its subject that a coffee-table book ever could, and with an epic running time of more than 3 hours, it covers everything you ever wanted to know about the old religion and its many depictions on celluloid and beyond. Aiming for an academic and historical approach, this is rarely fun, and it should be viewed as a serious scholarly document that needs to be studied carefully. It comes highly recommended.

 

Troma's VHS Massacre Too (2020)

Thomas Edward Seymour’s VHS Massacre Too (2020) released by Troma, is a sequel to the award-winning documentary, this time offering a little more nostalgia for videocassettes, but mostly switching its focus towards the reality of the current state of independent film by offering some historical background and several interesting ideas (by people such as Lloyd Kaufman and Debbie Rochon) on how the scene could manage to survive. At a neat 77 minutes long, it is a sweet treat and it comes recommended.

 

And finally, this time around I enriched my bookshelf with literary classics such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales (1886, 1884, 1885, 1882, 1888, 1883, 1894, 2006, 2008, Oxford University Press), Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890, 1992, 2001, Wordsworth Editions), M.R. James’ Collected Ghost Stories (1904, 1911, 1919, 1992, 1997, Wordsworth Editions) Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera (1909, Wordsworth Editions), George Orwell’s Coming Up for Air (1939, 2021, Αίολος), Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (1955, 1959, 2000, 2006, Penguin Books), Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby (1967, 2010, 2012, Anubis), William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist (1971, 2011, Anubis), J.G. Ballard’s Crash (1973, 2019, Κέδρος), Stephen King’s Different Seasons (1982, 2012, Hodder), Cujo (1981, 2011, 2021, Hodder), Clive Barker’s Books of Blood Volume 1 (1984, 1988, 1998, 2018, Οξύ), Books of Blood Volume 2 (1984, 1988, 1998, 2018, Οξύ), Books of Blood Volume 3 (1984, 1988, 1998, 2019, Οξύ), Books of Blood Volume 4 (1984, 1988, 1998, 2020, Οξύ), Books of Blood Volume 5 (1984, 1988, 1998, 2021, Οξύ), Books of Blood Volume 6 (1984, 1988, 1998, 2022, Οξύ), Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988, 1998, Vintage Books), Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 (2013, 2014, Bell Best Seller, Χάρλεκιν Ελλάς Εκδοτική ΑΒΕΕ), and Clive Barker’s The Scarlet Gospels (2015, Bell Best Seller, Χάρλεκιν Ελλάς Εκδοτική ΑΒΕΕ).


Get books, comics, graphic novels and more at bunny17media.com. Use the code CHC at checkout for 15% off your purchase!

Follow Cinema Head Cheese:
Website: cinemaheadcheese.com
Facebook: /cinemaheadcheese
Twitter: @CinHeadCheese
Email: cinemaheadcheese@yahoo.com
Instagram: abnormalpodcast 
Pinterest: /abnormalpodcast/cinema-head-cheese/
RSS Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/CinemaHeadCheese
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cinema-head-cheese-movie-reviews-news-a-podcast-and-more/id393261942?mt=2
Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=18843&refid=stpr

You can support Cinema Head Cheese and Abnormal Entertainment on our Support Us page.

May 1, 2022

A Binge too Far #23 - Celluloid Debauchery from your Good Friend Chucky

Promotional art from Child's Play (2019)


Cult of Chucky (2017)

Cult Of Chucky
(2017)

 

Convicted to a mental institution for the crimes committed by Chucky in the previous film [Curse Of Chucky (2013)[, Nica Pierce (returning Fiona Dourif) has been made to believe that the titular serial killer turned toy never lived (or killed, for that matter). However, when her psychotherapist (read: psycho the rapist) Dr. Malcolm Foley (prominent TV actor Michael Therriault) introduced a Good Guy doll (the basis of Chucky’s reincarnation via voodoo for dummies, as if you didn’t know) to the group therapy sessions, soon Chucky makes his presence known, in bloody manner. In the meanwhile Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) has grown up to become a gun fanatic (who can’t keep a relationship past the second date because they Google him and they find all sorts of weird shit that he did in the previous films) that keeps Chucky’s head in his apartment, confined, in order to keep himself happy by torturing it. It was inevitable that a cult would form, and this is not a spoiler on my part (it says so in the damn title), although it would be much more suspenseful if Universal had went with a less revealing title.

 

Writer/director Don Mancini did the impossible and managed – for once – to successfully turn a franchise from horror to comedy and back to horror again. He also managed to do another impossible and aside from keeping the storyline about a very confined set of characters, essentially creating a family of people, he also kept it within the family with most people in front of the camera and behind the camera as well. Speaking of the storyline, this is mostly set within a clinic, and it is very reminiscent of ‘hospital horrors’ including Halloween Ii (1981) and Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers (1996), and as such it also happens to be of the ‘slow burn’ variety (by all means, this is a very hypotonic film). The music goes for a Psycho (1960) mood, and so do the titles in the beginning, but this is where the similarities end. Other than that this is a very modern film, and it is keeping up with the Blumhouse horrors that are so popular nowadays and it delivers several well-staged jump-scares. If anything, producers Ogden Gavanski  and David Kirschner (who has been with the franchise since the beginning) has managed to once again keep the budget low and the concept high. While certainly not the ‘best’ franchise in horror history, we are all happy to have this monster doll terrorize us once in a while.

 

Child's Play (2019) poster

Child’s Play
(2019)

 

Down on her luck, single mom Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) is struggling through double shifts at the local big store in order to provide for her son Andy (Gabriel Bateman). One day she brings home a secondhand Buddi doll (This is actually a great reference, as the original film’s doll was based upon the My Buddy dolls that were popular amongst 1980s kids), the one that all the kids want, thanks to aggressive all-day advertising on television. Andy is hesitant at first, but he accepts the high-tech gift – and names it Chucky (Mark Hamill provides the voice); you see, the doll can connect with all your smart devices and do all sorts of things. However, this particular doll was programmed by an angry Vietnamese factory employer to be faulty on purpose, and the malfunction goes as far as generating murderous instincts, especially if anyone tries to hurt Chucky’s friends.

 

This reboot of the Child’s Play franchise (1988 – ongoing) leaves behind the possessed doll of the original series, and takes a more up to date approach that revolves around the dangers of technology. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) plays on a television screen, so it is also pretty easy to see where this is going aesthetically as well: the kills are imaginative and the end result is overall fun. On another note, the soundtrack by Bear McCreary is pretty epic, and maybe a bit too bombastic for a film of this scope (as in budgetary means; the film was made on a modest $10 million budget, and it went on to gross $43 million).

 

The project was announced on July 2018 by MGM and early on it was made known that the original series’ people (creators, stars, etc.) would not be involved. The shooting lasted from September to November 2018, followed by some pick-ups in December of that same year. The marketing department went bananas in April 2019 and released several posters in which Chucky was killing or otherwise menacing the toys from Toy Story 4 (2019). The film was made available to the public on June 2019.


Get books, comics, graphic novels and more at bunny17media.com. Use the code CHC at checkout for 15% off your purchase!

Follow Cinema Head Cheese:
Website: cinemaheadcheese.com
Facebook: /cinemaheadcheese
Twitter: @CinHeadCheese
Email: cinemaheadcheese@yahoo.com
Instagram: abnormalpodcast 
Pinterest: /abnormalpodcast/cinema-head-cheese/
RSS Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/CinemaHeadCheese
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cinema-head-cheese-movie-reviews-news-a-podcast-and-more/id393261942?mt=2
Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=18843&refid=stpr

You can support Cinema Head Cheese and Abnormal Entertainment on our Support Us page.

April 1, 2022

A Binge too Far #22: It duo (2017 – 2019)

Eerie image from It (2017)

 

It (2017) poster

It
(2017)

 

Apparently Stephen King’s Greek edition of The Shining is out of print, but I happened to find a stash of copies on a kiosk near a metro station, and I bought one of it for a mere 5 euros (European money). As I have told you several times through this column, I rarely enjoy fiction, and it is my least favorite genre when it comes to books, so there is no point in letting you know whether I liked my new find or not. Coincidentally, a few days later I watched the Stephen King film under review.

 

There’s not much that can be said about this film that hasn’t already – the internet is literally stuffed with reviews and opinions about it by everybody and their mothers – so I will keep it short. It is of course about a group of kids (most of them nerds) that are being severely and roughly bullied at school (we are talking of bullying of the toughest kind, and knifings are included), and as if that is not enough, they also have to stand up against a mysterious and monstrous figure that goes by the name of Pennywise, and although it can seemingly take any form it likes, it mostly appears as an evil clown.

 

This is a great film and it can easily be included amongst the top-5 of the decade. Its movie magic is such that not only it can appeal to hardcore horror fans but casual ones as well. Hell, from every perspective (be it cinematography, or sound design) it is so well-made that it can appeal to everyone. Or maybe not, because it is also scary as shit! Definitely, if you needed to see one horror film in 2017 this should have been it (pun totally intended). I watched it with my wife, and we concluded that it should land at least an Academy Award or two. As it is apparent there is a Stephen King renaissance going on, and the timing couldn’t be better. Following the endless reports of kids being bullied at school, King’s novels that are always sensitive about this particular subject couldn’t be more appropriate for this era. The film is so empowering for the underdog that it will have you jump off your seat and take the side of the bullied kids. And this is important filmmaking.

 

It Chapter Two (2019) poster

It Chapter Two
(2019)

 

27 years after the event of the first film and the first half of Stephen King’s same-titled book, the Losers Club is now grown up and separated with each member living his/her own life. That is until a series of events brings them together and it soon becomes apparent that Pennywise (returning Bill Skarsgard) is back and is after them.

 

The murderous clown as a spirit/ghost or overall supernatural entity that preys on your fear is simply put one of the best ideas in the annals of horror, and Andy Muschietti provides us with another winner adaptation that is already a classic and essentially a commentary on bullying and fighting back. By employing modern horror movie tropes (yes, jump scares and grotesque imagery) as well as more traditional cinematic tools (such as what I would call visual poetry), this is one of the best horror movies of the decade and it should be missed by nobody. Monster kids get extra motivation, because other than the main monster – the clown – you also get several other creepy manifestations of evil that include a spider-legged head and small-winged creatures.

 


Get books, comics, graphic novels and more at bunny17media.com. Use the code CHC at checkout for 15% off your purchase!

Follow Cinema Head Cheese:
Website: cinemaheadcheese.com
Facebook: /cinemaheadcheese
Twitter: @CinHeadCheese
Email: cinemaheadcheese@yahoo.com
Instagram: abnormalpodcast 
Pinterest: /abnormalpodcast/cinema-head-cheese/
RSS Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/CinemaHeadCheese
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cinema-head-cheese-movie-reviews-news-a-podcast-and-more/id393261942?mt=2
Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=18843&refid=stpr

You can support Cinema Head Cheese and Abnormal Entertainment on our Support Us page.

March 15, 2022

Movie Review: Wrestling Queen




Mr. Peabody, if you please, set the wayback machine to a celebratively spectral time in early '70's sports...when gritty, no-holds-barred wrestling, and the equally raw, 'bash & dash' world of roller derby were the respected, underground competition-reveling form of sports entertainment, for the moment...a time when, although a clearly choreographed, performance-driven form of sporting combat, still made quite an impression upon devotedly eager viewers...gasp-induced witnesses to wincingly excruciating blows, tosses & holds...the rampant spray of sweat, spit & blood...and the echoing of repeatedly wet, pounding sounds...slamming home, not unlike that of continuously stricken, well-tenderized meat...the humble, albeit no less grueling and compelling beginnings of a national pastime, which has since evolved into quite literally, an institution...

Oh, yes...as it probably was, with folks in many homes other than mine, when I was a kid, it was a time when me and my late Mom...bless her soul...vehemently (...and growlingly) commandeered the boob tube from my Dad's regularly scheduled western movie broadcast, each and every Saturday afternoon, for two or three hours, tuning into the higher-ranged UHF, for what was essentially and stereotypically monikered as the rousing gladiator sporting events for the middle-to-lower class. And as if mass gathering in front of the TV wasn't satisfying enough, there was always the odd weekend evening, city-bound roadtrip...a mere matter of clambering into the car, and jutting out to the Olympic Auditorium, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, to first-hand gawk and cheer these battered, albeit celebrated 'warriors' in the ring (...or on the track, if the flavor of the moment, was roller derby). It is this very gnashing, almost embracingly regressive spirit, which one, oh-so privy to this time, cannot help but harken back to, when viewing the gritty and candid, 1973 wrestling documentary, and seldom-seen drive-in theater-flavored oddity, called "Wrestling Queen"...

March 7, 2022

"The Sword and The Sorcerer" debuts on Blu-ray and 4K!

Meet Talon, a daring mercenary who conquers castles and dungeons alike with his lethal three-bladed sword. But when Talon learns that he is the prince of a kingdom controlled by an evil sorcerer, he is thrust into the wildest fight of his life. Can Talon rescue the beautiful princess and slay the warlock? Filled with brutal battles, plucky maidens, savage monsters and more! 

March 1, 2022

Static Age #20: Ghost Stories for Christmas (1968 – 2010)

 

Ghost Stories for Christmas (1968 - 2010)

This Static Age’s spotlight goes to Ghost Stories for Christmas (1968 – 2010), the ‘Expanded Six-Disc Collection’ (Region 2, PAL) featuring ‘all 12 episodes of the classic A Ghost Story for Christmas series, the entire Classic Ghost Stories series (presented by Robert Powell), the M R James episodes of Spine Chillers (presented by Michael Bryant) and three of the Ghost Stories for Christmas with Christopher Lee installments from 2000. Also included is a 48-page booklet with essays and full credits.’ With total running time of ‘over 12 hours’ worth of content’ this is the perfect Christmas gift, so this is the perfect time of the year to take a look on it.

 

Disc One includes, the legendary chiller Whistle and I’ll Come to You (1968) which by combining art-house and experimental elements with truly eerie aesthetics it deserves its status as a horror classic; its remake Whistle and I’ll Come to You (2010), which is focusing mainly on modern horror atmosphere and as such it works, so much that I’d dare to say that it is somewhat better than the original; a short video of Jonathan Miller and Christopher Frayling discussing the 1968 original; a really long introduction by Ramsey Campbell; Neil Brand reading M R James’ original story; and Ramsey Campbell reading one of his stories that were inspired by M R James.

 

Disc Two includes, the classics The Stalls of Barchester (1971) and A Warning to the Curious (1972); filmed introductions by director Lawrence Gordon; and Ghost Stories for Christmas with Christopher Lee – ‘The Stalls of Barchester’ by M R James and ‘A Warning to the Curious by M R James (2000).

 

Disc Three includes, the classic Lost Hearts (1973), the eerie The Treasure of Abbot Thomas (1974), and grim The Ash Tree (1975), all with filmed introductions by Lawrence Gordon Clark.

 

Disc Four includes, the classics The Signalman (1976), Stigma (1977), and The Ice House (1978), as well as two filmed introductions by Lawrence Gordon Clark.

 

And now, let’s switch our focus towards some recent series…

 

Elves - Season 1

The 1st season of Elves (2021 – present) is about the Christmas vacation of a Danish family (this Netflix original was made in Denmark), who comes across a cute creature which also happens to have a jailed but mean ancestor. By combining Steven Spielberg-like storytelling and relatable teenagers, this is overall well-done and engaging. At a mere six 24-minute-long episodes, this makes for a quick and fun view, and is binge-worthy.

 

The 1st season of Russian Doll (2019 – present) is about 36-year-old hip New Yorker Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne) who works as a software engineer and spends her free time partying and using exquisite drugs. After leaving a social gathering she gets killed in an accident, but comes back to relieve her last few moments again and again. This is one of the most original shows on Netflix so far, with intelligent dialogues, and an honest depiction of the upper class drug culture. At only eight 25-minutes-long episodes, this had me wishing for more, and it looks like we’re getting some really soon.

 

Doctor Who - Season 12

The 12th season of Doctor Who (2005 – present), might be this run’s best one yet. ‘Revolution of the Daleks’ brings back our favorite enemies that we had missed so much in the previous season. ‘Spyfall: Part One’ and ‘Spyfall: Part Two’ nods at a franchise that I’m quite sure you are aware of, as it brings aliens against the MI6, who inevitably ask for The Doctor’s aid. ‘Orphan 55’ has alien monsters attacking a holiday resort. In ‘Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror’, The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) meets Nikola Tesla (Goran Visnjic) and Thomas Edison (Robert Glenister). ‘Fugitive of the Judoon’ is featuring the rhinoceros-like aliens. ‘Praxeus’ is one of the best and most complicated episodes of this season, featuring anything, from an eco-horror plot to a gay romance subplot. The action in ‘Can You Hear Me?’ begins emphatically enough in ancient Syria. ‘The Haunting of Villa Diotati’ is about the birth of the Frankenstein novel. ‘Ascension of the Cybermen’ is featuring a full-on attack by its titular villains. Season finale ‘The Timeless Children’, is a journey of epic proportions, revealing many things about the Doctor that did not know and never would have thought as being possible (the magic of sci-fi) and is featuring stunning CGI work.

 

I Know What You Did Last Summer - Season 1

The sole season of the Amazon Original I Know What You Did Last Summer (2021), is a remake of the same-titled slasher classic from the 1990s, and this one too is about a group of teenagers (albeit this time more queer and feminist, to catch up with the times) that get involved with an accidents which they cover up and are a year later stalked by an unknown assailant. Serious when it needs to be and fun for most of the time, this consists of 8 episodes that are worthy of a binge, although a lot of it contains drug use, smoking, nudity, sex, and whatnot to guarantee for a more adult viewership.

 

Also, please allow me to speak a word or two about some recent mainstream films…

 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of...

Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, may be very welcome for introducing the screen’s first Asian superhero in a U.S. blockbuster (played by Simu Liu) and include some of the most stunning stunts in recent years (both of the martial arts and the CGI variety, as well as combinations of thereof), but the end result is weak and tiresome at over 2 hours long.

 

Made on a massive $110 million budget, Marvel’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021), manages to look cheaper than a SyFy production. Serial killer Cletus Kasady transforms into Carnage (Woody Harrelson) and goes after the man who put him to jail, namely Eddie Brock who needs to once again become Venom (Tom Hardy). Directed by Andy Serkis, this has the feel of a b-movie noir made by people who don’t really know how to approach this kind of cinema. Before 1991 we used to stare at the big screen in awe during all the stunts featuring motorcycles and helicopters etc., but now with these lame video CGI we stare in disbelief as they all look like video games.

 

The Matrix Resurrections (2021) promo art

Lana Wachowski’s The Matrix Resurrections (2021) is the belated sequel to the action film trilogy from 1999 – 2003 that changed cinema forever (for good or worse is debatable amongst critics and fans alike) and with more crucial top-notch technology at its disposal as well as a whopping $190 million budget, this works miracles not only on the spectacle department – something that was expected – but also on the storytelling one, as similarly to the original film, great mythos is created. I’d go as far as to say that this is the best in the series. Featuring returning stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss, as well as newcomers Jessica Henwick and Christina Ricci.

 

Parasite (2019) poster

The Academy Award Winning Parasite (2019) directed by is a social drama about a poor family who bullshits its way into working for a rich family in order to live behind the misery of a basement apartment. Supposedly a commentary on capitalism and class injustice, this preachy anomaly is boring and at over 2 hours long it becomes a torturous experience, maybe even more painful than what the main characters have to go through during the film’s gory finale, which cannot salvage much.

 

In terms of monster movies, I really wanted to review Orion Pictures’ The Prodigy (2019), which is clearly about the possession of a young boy by something sinister, but as the film itself refers to the event as an ‘incarnation’ kind of thing, I couldn’t possibly built a strong case for inclusion on the reviews bellow. Saying anything more specific about the plot would spoil the fun. Genuinely creepy and absolutely captivating, this should not be missed by any fan of recent horrors.

 

Us (2019) stunning poster

Undoubtedly though, this year’s best film has to be Us (2019), which is about a vacationing Black family, that gets terrorized but what appears to be themselves. A modern masterpiece really, that is as atmospheric as it is visceral, and it is featuring one of the best soundtracks in recent years. Who’d knew that Blaxploitation horrors would make a comeback, disguised as art horror?

 

The aesthetics of many monsters involves Gothic sensibilities, and a modern master of such intentions is director Tim Burton, who may have somewhat lost his touch in the last few years, but his latest, Dumbo (2019) is a very pleasant surprise. Telling the adventures of the titular baby elephant who is separated from his mother and now has to perform his flying-with-his-ears-as-wings abilities in a circus in order to find her again, this is a very touching drama, the likes of which we would like to see more. The soundtrack by Danny Elfman is absolutely magnificent too.

 

Avengers: Endgame (2019) poster

Speaking of big budget stuff, I recently had the opportunity to watch Avengers: Endgame (2019), in which the titular superheroes indulge into some time manipulation business in order to un-fuck the world (a very common theme in today’s mainstream cinema that is all too inspired by the climate change and other such menacing happenings). After watching it I came to the conclusion that Disney cannot really satisfy my appetite for popular culture; it’s just that their films are not suitable for my delicate taste. In reality, the biggest change Marvel brought to cinema is the studio system. Seriously, I know that this is a Marvel film, and although I have seen all of them (despite remembering not much from any of them), I have no idea who these directing Russo guys are! They’re not John A. Russo, that’s for sure.

 

But now that the market is flooded with all kinds of superheroes (based on comic books or otherwise), filmmakers can do all sorts of unique things, such as comedy superhero films (you know at which Marvel property I am referring to) that are maybe not that original (considering you know of which 1980s Troma property I am referring to), it became possible to do a superhero horror movie and Brighburn (2019) is just that. However the James Gunn-produced original (it is not based in any previously franchised property, for a change) by being a cross between super-villain origin story and a possessed kid Blumhouse kind of standard, fails to succeed in winning either genre’s fans and it looks a bit mediocre at both, while it is never captivating.

 

Possum (2018) grim poster

There is a film I loved so much that I couldn’t bring myself to properly composing a review of it; it is much more difficult to write 1,000 words for something you liked, rather than 10,000 words on something you hated. Case in point the slow and atmospheric Possum (2018) which is about a puppeteer who returns to his home and now has to face stepfather and the numerous secrets of his family. Reminiscent of David Lynch’s best moments, this is mesmerizing and captivating, and one of the eeriest films to see the light of the day from Great Britain in the last decade. Highly recommended.

 

Finally, The Secret Life Of Pets 2 (2019) is about further adventures of several domesticated animals, and it is featuring hard-to-achieve animation, mainly because there are so many different species on display. Another winner from Illumination Entertainment, it may not be as fun as the original because that film was mostly about the pets’ behavioral goofs, while this one is mostly about the admittedly standard story.

 

The Endless (2017)

Inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, The Endless (2017) has brothers Justin (Justin Benson, who also directed and wrote the screenplay) and Aaron (Aaron Moorhead, who also directed), going back where they had experienced a U.F.O. death cult as kids. Cosmic horror galore, but the end result is boring.

 

Blumhouse’s latest (and also promoted as the last) entry in the Purge franchise, entitled The Forever Purge (2021), directed by Everardo Gout, is following the story of a family of Mexican migrants and their struggle with racism and adjusting in the U.S., but the bigger picture is a group of right wing extremists who aim to “cleanse” the States by continuing the purge long after its official wrapping time. Many years since the first film, series creator James DeMonaco returns with a surprisingly original concept, making a winner entry, as well as killer commentary on the unofficial civil war the western civilization is understatedly going through right now.

 

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)

In Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021), a younger generation of science geeks discover the tools of the trade of the eponymous heroes of our childhoods, now old enough to be their grandparents and equally irrelevant and forgotten, but when multiple threats of the paranormal kind (in the form of ghosts, of course) make a spectacular appearance, the new generation works with the old one for the good cause of trapping the enemies. Directed by Jason Reitman (who also wrote the screenplay with Gil Kenan), this takes a while to get things going, but once it does the whole thing becomes super fun and absolutely respectful to the 1980s legacy.

 

Marvel’s Eternals (2021), directed by Chloe Zhao introduces us to the titular superheroes and their war against the evil deviants through space and time. Weak and far too long at over 2 and a half hours long, this is somewhat salvaged by its strong cast that includes Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek.

 

John C. Donkin’s The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild (2022) are about the heroic attempts of the titular weasel (voiced by Simon Pegg) and his two possum friends (Aaron Harris and Vincent Tong) to take down the evil empire of the Lost World ruled by a genius dinosaur. Stunning animation and weak story are the order of the day in this modern Disney feature, which is nonetheless fun enough to not outstay its welcome.

 

The Many Saints of Newark

Alan Taylor’s gangster epic The Many Saints of Newark (2021) is about the story of mob man Dickie Moltisanti (an excellent Alessandro Nivola), as witnessed by a young Tony Soprano (played by Michael Gandolfini). This prequel to the renowned 1990s series, has all the tropes of a Scorsese masterpiece and while its focus is of course organized crime, the story also benefits from the cultural and historical backdrop of the time and place (New York). The cast is great and it also includes Jon Bernthal, Ray Liotta, and Vera Farmiga.

 

And finally, I would like to let you know that I enriched my bookshelf with the following additions…

 

I recently ran out of books and money to buy new ones, so I went for a raid on my wife’s bookshelf, from which I picked up and read Edmund Crispin’s The Moving Toyshop (1946), Hermann Hesse’s Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (the best novel I’ve read in ages; a real page turner), Coraline, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Madame M’s Creepy Little Bedtime Stories and Eerie Little Bedtime Stories, Agatha Christie’s The Sittaford Mystery, and Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children trilogy (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Hollow City, and Library of Souls) and their continuation (Tales of the Peculiar and A Map of Days: The Fourth Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children). I also borrowed Ian McEwan’s The Children Act (2014), from a friend.

 


Get books, comics, graphic novels and more at bunny17media.com. Use the code CHC at checkout for 15% off your purchase!

Follow Cinema Head Cheese:
Website: cinemaheadcheese.com
Facebook: /cinemaheadcheese
Twitter: @CinHeadCheese
Email: cinemaheadcheese@yahoo.com
Instagram: abnormalpodcast 
Pinterest: /abnormalpodcast/cinema-head-cheese/
RSS Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/CinemaHeadCheese
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cinema-head-cheese-movie-reviews-news-a-podcast-and-more/id393261942?mt=2
Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=18843&refid=stpr

You can support Cinema Head Cheese and Abnormal Entertainment on our Support Us page.

February 28, 2022

TAKE BACK THE NIGHT (2021) Movie Review


As I’m beginning to organize my thoughts for this review, I’m sincerely hoping that whatever rolls out of my brain pan to my fingertips doesn’t piss anyone off. I mean if it does, that’s on you, not me. However, I don’t purposefully try to hurt others if I can help it.

The only reason I’m opening with this idea is because the film I’m going to review is an amalgamation of ideas that make a lot of people angry, uncomfortable, insecure, scared, or worst of all, dismissive. So this review may take a more serious tone, perhaps show the more somber side of my psyche. More than likely this will end up long and rambling, so please bear with me.

But always remember – these are just my opinions, my thought processes. I am only speaking FOR MYSELF. So don’t take anything I write as a personal attack against you, other men or women, feminism or feminists, victims of violent crimes, etc.

In other words, don’t be a big, bubble-blowing, narcissistic baby, okay?

Glad we’re cleared that up. On to the review.

 


Take Back the Night is a 2021 film about Jane Doe, a woman who is assaulted by a supernatural shadow creature. As she tries to move on with her life in the only way she knows how – posting about her experience on social media in the hopes others will share any info on the creature she’s encountered – Jane maneuvers the world of victim blaming and shaming. The less than helpful police detective, the ambush of an ‘investigative journalist’, and the strained relationship with her only sister do not help Jane mentally recover. Only by seeking out the truth and using her well-established sense of self-reliance is Jane finally able to move forward.

 

I can’t really get much more specific than that because I will reveal important story elements. And while this is not a perfect film, it’s well done and worth the watch, so I don’t want to ruin it for any future viewers.

What is great about this film is the acting. Jane, played by Emma Fitzpatrick, is completely sympathetic, even to those of us who’ve never been the victim of a sexual assault or violent crime. Aside from her instinct to go immediately to social media about everything, my heart was with her all the way. I felt the strain of her relationship with her sister, played by Angela Gulner (who starred in a little-known, awesome indie film called Son of Ghostman); the incredulity of the detective when she went from supportive to hostile; the humiliation of the journalistic ambush on live television. Jane brings the viewer along for the ride on every ugly destination.

The production is top notch. I felt like I was watching a Hollywood blockbuster. Sound, editing, photography; even the CGI used for the shadow creature was completely believable. It helps to have a cadre of great actors, well-developed characters, and a good script. I appreciated the unsanitized elements of what happens after an assault, like the hospital procedures and police questioning. Most of those things are glossed over in tv and movies.

From what I understand, the attack by the shadow creature is supposed to be a metaphor for rape. But let’s be honest here, it’s not that deep of a metaphor. A woman, alone in an alley, is attacked by a stranger. When she ends up in the hospital, she’s covered in bruises, scratches, bite marks, and her lower stomach – you know, right over her womb – has been nearly clawed open. It doesn’t take a huge leap of the intellect to know what’s going on. She’s been raped without saying she’s been raped.

But I understand why they did it this way. Or at least, I think I do. Talking about sexual assault, or any violent crime, makes people uncomfortable. Let’s face it – women have been oppressed, repressed, shamed, blamed, humiliated, victimized, and every other descriptor you can think of for inhumane treatment, for centuries across every culture and society on the planet. I’m sure most women, however, don’t think it will happen to them and most men believe they would never commit such acts. So people just kinda push it to the back burner and don’t talk about it. But…put this in the guise of a horror movie with a supernatural shadow monster and it loosens the lips, so to speak.

I also started looking at the shadow creature as a metaphor, not just for a person but mental illness and its impact on the human condition. It could also be seen as society and how it has treated women until they are worn down into submission, suicide, doubt, weakness, etc. So for me, the supernatural element of the attack is a weaker metaphor than the shadow creature itself.



By the time I got to the end of the movie, I was feeling all kinds of ways. I had questions; I was angry. But you know what I never felt, though? Female empowerment. I have a feeling the film makers wanted that to come across but it either went over my head or focused too much on how everyone was a total fucking asshole, doubting Jane’s story and making her doubt her own experience.

This is what happens in real life, right? Of course it is. Even though Jane survives, perhaps the bleakness of her continued existence is the point, though she’s doing all she can to help herself and others from becoming victims, too. While showing that social media can have positive impacts (Jane can find other women out there to help; she gets useful info on the shadow creature and how to defeat it, etc.), I walked away with the feeling of helplessness; that nothing anyone does or says can change this fucked up way of how women are treated.

I think a big part of that feeling comes from the fact that there are no male characters in this movie. Well, technically there are two: one we only see his back right before Jane has bathroom sex with him and then he’s gone into the ether, and the other is the voice over of the cop conducting Jane’s polygraph test. Removing men from the equation, dismissing they’re conscious or unconscious role in how women are seen and treated in society, is a disservice to their sex and does NOTHING to help women. Absolutely. Nothing. This is the most egregious flaw of this film.

A few years back I watched a YouTube video (sorry, I can’t remember names or channels or anything because my brain retains nothing useful) about a woman who goes to high schools and colleges to talk with young male athletes. She said instead of wagging an accusatory finger at them and screeching “you’re what’s wrong with the world and you should all just go away”, include them in the conversations about rape and violent assaults. If they become more aware of how their actions, or inactions, impact women, as well as develop their sense of empathy (how would you feel if that were your sister, your girlfriend, your mom), perhaps we can change these archaic ideas about women in society, and behave like the evolved species we think we are. I don’t remember if she said that last part – could just be me editorializing.

Overall, this is a well-done film. While I think it failed in some respects, it certainly opens the door for more discourse about societal norms and cultural ideals toward who women are supposed to be, how they should act, and what we can do together to make the world a better place for everyone.

2.75 hatchets (out of 5)

 


 


Get books, comics, graphic novels and more at bunny17media.com. Use the code CHC at checkout for 15% off your purchase!

Follow Cinema Head Cheese:
Website: cinemaheadcheese.com
Facebook: /cinemaheadcheese
Twitter: @CinHeadCheese
Email: cinemaheadcheese@yahoo.com
Instagram: abnormalpodcast 
Pinterest: /abnormalpodcast/cinema-head-cheese/
RSS Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/CinemaHeadCheese
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cinema-head-cheese-movie-reviews-news-a-podcast-and-more/id393261942?mt=2
Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=18843&refid=stpr

You can support Cinema Head Cheese and Abnormal Entertainment on our Support Us page.