The horror chiller "The Devil Inside" (O out of ****) gives movies about exorcism a bad name. Face it, William Friedkin's "The Exorcist" (1973) still ranks as the best exorcist movie of all time. Nothing made since then can match the impact of this landmark movie, least of all its lackluster sequels. Nevertheless, Hollywood continues to crank out new movies about exorcism as if time had eroded the demonic fury of "The Exorcist." Warner Brothers did the next best thing; in 2000, they re-released Friedkin's frightening film in a revamped version that performed startlingly well at the box office. Lately, the studios have conjured up three exorcism movies. Sir Anthony Hopkins starred in the respectable hair-raiser "The Rite" back in the spring of 2011. Sadly, "The Rite" bore a PG-13 rating so it possessed little bite. The low-budget, Louisiana-set, yell-bent yarn "The Last Exorcism" preceded "The Rite" by several months, but it furnished more irony than chills. Now, Paramount Pictures hasRead More »from FILM REVIEW of ''THE DEVIL INSIDE" (2012)
Actor-producer Wesley Snipes may have finally found himself an action movie franchise that he can sink his teeth into with British director Stephen Norrington's "Blade," (***1/2 out of ****)a well-made, imaginative, adrenaline-laced vampire chiller based on the Marvel Comics' super hero. Snipes heads a first-rate cast that includes Kris Kristofferson, Stephen Dorff, N' Bushe Wright, Udo Kier, and Traci Lords. "Blade" synthesizes the exotic swordplay of the "Highlander" epics, the double-digit body count of a John Woo thriller, and the martial arts pandemonium of a Jackie Chan opus to spawn a horror movie several cuts above your ordinary vampire fare.
If the sight of blood, especially torrents of bogus blood, turns your stomach, avoid "Blade." "Blade" takes its cues from renegade vampire sags like Robert Rodriguez's "From Dusk Till Dawn" (1996) and Kathryn Bigelow's "Near Dark" (1987) rather than those venerable classics such as either Tod Browning's "Dracula" (1931) with Bela Lugosi
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Anybody who has seen enough World War II movies knows that Hollywood has to resort to elaborate artifice to conjure up equipment which no longer exists in vast quantities. Each year attrition depletes the number of Allied planes, tanks, and war ships used in combat. Worse, most of the Axis equipment has been destroyed. The Spanish Air Force furnished the filmmakers of "Battle of Britain" (1969) with scores of vintage Nazi-era aircraft. Most moviemakers aren't that fortunate. Now, every time that you see a World War II relic fly, you wonder if they haven't matted in additional models, or relied entirely on miniatures. Virtually no World War II movie since the 1950s has used a Sherman tank. They rely on either the Pentagon for Cold War era equipment or mock up something that resembles a Sherman.Read More »from FILM REVIEW of "RED TAILS" (2012)
Freshman director Anthony Hemingway's aerial epic "Red Tails" (** out of ****) qualifies more as a showcase for the digital computer generated imagery which can forge greater authenticity than a
- Soon Nofal | Author Blog Posts – Tue, Jul 10, 2012 6:53 AM EDT
The major departures "Nosferatu the Vampyre" makes occur after Dracula leaves his castle. The scenes aboard the ship remain intact with the crew dying, but you don't see anybody diving off the ship. Whereas Murnau showed several rats in his film, Herzog displays no restrain. He bought eleven-thousand white rats from a laboratory and painted them gray. According to Herzog on the Anchor Bay commentary track, the production company didn't lose a single rodent, but the sight of the rats made a customs official faint. Furthermore, Herzog took elaborate precautions on the set to ensure that none of the rodents escaped. The co-commentator observed that Herzog also neutered the rats so that they couldn't reproduce. Not since either version of "Willard" have so many rats appeared on camera. One striking scene involving the rodents occurs toward the end of the story. A group of plague-infected friends attempt to prolong their happiness by dining on one final meal before they die. They areRead More »from FILM REVIEW of "NOSFERATU the VAMPYRE" (GERMAN 1979)
Bram Stoker's widow Florence would spin in her grave if she knew about "Shadow of the Vampire." "Begotten" director Edmund Elias Merhige's second film qualifies as an artsy fartsy account about the making of groundbreaking German filmmaker F.W. Murnau's silent chiller "Nosferatu" back in 1921. No sooner had "Nosferatu" been released to theaters than Florence Stoker sued Murnau and company for copyright infringement. She won the case, and the court ordered the destruction of all film prints and negatives. Happily, some bootleg copies escaped annihilation, and the Murnau's artistic legacy as well as the film's contribution to vampire films survived Florence's wrath. Not only did "Nosferatu" emerge as Murnau's greatest film, but it also exerted a considerable influence on vampire films. The greatest enemy of a vampire in "Nosferatu" was sunlight. Although Stoker's Dracula could cavort during the day, Murnau and company changed it so the sunlight proved to be the vampire's greatest enemy.Read More »from FILM REVIEW of "SHADOW of the VAMPIRE" (2000)
Swedish director Daniel Espinosa's predictable spy versus spy saga "Safe House" (**1/2 out of ****)resembles "The Bourne Identity" in several respects. The chief difference is Denzel Washington doesn't play an amnesiac "Bourne" again hero. Instead, he is a rogue CIA agent at large who tops Langley's most wanted list who remembers everything rotten about the Agency. Like the superb"Bourne" thrillers, this nimble actioneer concerns corrupt CIA superiors who want Denzel dead because he has damaging information about them. Mind you, this isn't the first time the CIA has been depicted as crooked. Watergate era thrillers such as "Three Days of the Condor" and "Scorpio" deployed that plot back in the early 1970s. Of course, the Agency isn't entirely corrupt, only some powerful individuals at the top. When freshman scribe David Guggenheim isn't muddling up things with multiple layers of mystery, Espinosa does his best to captivate us with brief, brutal, and breathless combat scenes that rivalRead More »from FILM REVIEW of ''SAFE HOUSE" (2012)
- Desirae Hankins | Author Blog Posts – Tue, Jul 10, 2012 5:31 AM EDT
This imaginative comedy lacks the prestige of Buster Keaton's classic American Civil War comedy "The General." Nevertheless,"Steamboat Bill, Jr." (***1/2 out of ****)surpasses "College." Clocking in at a concise 69 minutes, this amusing father and son reconciliation drama includes a romance along the lines of William Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet." Furthermore, the narrative chronicles the emergence of our diminutive protagonist as a man who can master his fate after he appeared destined for disaster. In other words, Buster casts himself as an underdog again as he did in "College." The problem with this existential comedy is our hero's transition from a clumsy nincompoop to an expert acrobat who can perform high dives off the top of a steamboat and rig it up in such a way so he can operate it single-handedly lacks credibility. The only shred of evidence that our eponymous hero has what it takes occurs when he surprises the sheriff, slugs him in the stomach, and watches as the fellow
Take the teen comedy "Can't Hardly Wait" (1998) about an unruly house party, add a "Lethal Weapon IV" lunatic with a flame thrower, shoot it like "The Blair Witch Project," and you've got freshman director Nima Nourizadeh's outlandish opus "Project X" (*** out of ****) about a party-gone-wild. Incidentally, "Hangover" director Todd Phillips, who produced this mammoth 88-minute mock-documentary, didn't helm it. This R-rated, teensploitation tale about a high school student's birthday party that escalates out of control is prudish compared with the "Hangover" movies. No transsexual prostitutes appear. Nevertheless, the property damage is staggering. "Project X" delivers laugh-out-loud hilarity during its best moments, while some of its shenanigans amount to amusing contrivances. For example, drunken kids stuff a pugnacious dwarf into a kitchen oven. After he escapes, the dwarf embarks on a genital punching rampage. An anonymous but charismatic cast and the spontaneity with which events
Read More »from FILM REVIEW of ''THE GORILLA'' (1939)
Newspaper headlines proclaim the notorious 'Gorilla' has murdered several people. The setting for this spooky comic murder mystery is the house of Warren Stevens. Stevens' estate is no ordinary edifice. The mansion is a maze of secret passages. Virtually, every room boasts a concealed panel. Kitty (Patsy Kelly) the maid is reading the Shakespeare play "Romeo and Juliet" in bed when she sees the arm of a gorilla pin a note to her robe. Kitty raves hysterically and runs around the mansion. Peters (Bela Lugosi of "Dracula") the butler calms Kitty and then examines that document. Stevens (Lionel Atwill) peruses the note, too. The note is a death threat for him. A thunder storm with recurring lightning enhances the atmosphere laden with paranoia about when the 'Gorilla' will next strike. The same night that this happens, Stevens sends an urgent radiogram to his nieceNorma Denby. It seems that Stevens and Norma are joint heirs under the terms of her late father's will. Until Norma marries,
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