"Caligula" is one of the true curiosities of cinema. Financed by Penthouse and directed by Tinto Brass, it is not sexy. Written by Gore Vidal, it is not intelligent. Starring actors such as Malcolm McDowell, Peter O'Toole, and Helen Mirren, it is not a classic. In fact, despite some capability all across the board "Caligula" fails to even be remotely watchable. It is grotesque, dirty and perhaps the most unpleasant film I have ever endured. It is also brilliant.
"The Cat Returns" is a prime example of what can be achieved through exceptional use of animation over live-action or computer graphics. It is incredibly fitting in its use of animation, as it takes place in a world which could never be accurately portrayed in a live environment. It's a beautifully realized world in which cats live by their own rules and standards. They speak, and walk upright, and (in the English dub) are voiced by reputable actors and actresses, such as Anne Hathaway, Tim Curry and Cary Elwes. The buildings are cat-sized, and their world is undisturbed by human interference. It's a perfect subject for an animated film, and one that could be realized by no other means.
I don't want to step on anybody's toes. A film like "Chopping Mall" is definitely Mr. Pitt's territory (in fact, he probably already has a review for it somewhere in his archives) but sometimes I look at his body of work, and I get a little jealous. He writes about so many fun titles like "Frankenfish" and "Abominable", while I sit at home and watch hour upon excruciating hour of Rainer Werner Fassbinder and attempt to come up with something valid to comment on. Enough for one night; I'm reviewing "Chopping Mall", damn it.
“Few films are as prophetic as Class of 1984”... That's an actual quote... from director Mark L. Lester ("Commando"). Now, normally I wouldn't take the praise of a director, regarding his own film, too seriously. However, in this instance, he just happens to be right. "Class of 1984", while certainly more extreme and darkly violent than most moralistic films, is without question, more relevant today than when it was created (1982).
I'll admit upfront that I am not Adam Sandler's biggest fan. His movies are generally quite funny, however, any actor who portrays the same character, in this case a relatively likeable character who is prone to throwing temper tantrums, loses a lot of credit. A good actor is one who proves to be both credible and versatile in their roles. Adam Sandler, until “Punch-Drunk Love”, had proven he had a certain charm as a leading man, however, had not proven to be a versatile actor. Things have changed, as he's had the opportunity to display his acting ability in a number of projects since, "Spanglish" being the most impressive. "Click" is some sort of hybrid combination of both typical classic Sandler, and the more recent, more impressive actor.
It's unfortunate that "Clownhouse" is steeped in such controversy, as that often overshadows what a minor classic this is. For those who don't know, director Victor Salva ("Jeepers Creepers", "Powder") pleaded guilty in 1988 to making a videotape of himself engaging in oral sex with the film's 12 year old star. It's a terrible situation, and while we shouldn't dismiss what happened behind the scenes, it is unfortunate that a quality film like "Clownhouse" is completely dismissed as a result of the director's actions. Enough of the terrible history behind the production, this is a film review after all... not a trial.
Well, that certainly wasn't a happy film. "Combat Shock" may well be one of the most downbeat films I've ever watched. Troma's efforts are usually so poorly made that you can laugh at them and generally have a good time. There's no laughing at "Combat Shock". The film takes itself quite seriously, with the exception of a few scenes which were a little too surreal within the context of the film.
A title card reading “inspired by true events” serves to open this 30-minute short from Fatal Pictures. If I weren't personally aware of some frighteningly similar events occurring in Germany in 2001, I'd think this particular story to be a little too bizarre (for lack of a better term) to have really occurred. Keep in mind that this is not a true story, but is, once again, ‘inspired' by similar events.
Luigi Cozzi's "Contamination" is a prime example of why the Italian horror films of the 80's were as enjoyable as they were. Combining all the aspects that make a bad movie great, Cozzi has crafted one of the most entertainingly bad movies I've ever seen.
Take for instance, the opening sequence – A boat, with seemingly no crew members, is boarded and searched. Stuffed in a closet is the first body, a victim of an internal explosion. His chest has been ripped to shreds. Two things make this sequence great. First is the obvious foreshadowing that there is in fact a body in this closet. We know this because two of the men searching the boat, have a dialogue about who is going to search the closet. “You want to check it? --- No, You go ahead.--- Are you sure? --- Yeah. You go ahead. --- etc.” or something to that effect. It's completely ridiculous how this scene turns out, as it almost seems like Cozzi is trying to build suspense by delaying the search of the closet as long as possible. It's terribly ineffective... but it's a humorously amateurish attempt that increases one's enjoyment of the scene.
As much as I like Jason Statham, the thing that intrigued me most about "Crank" was its silly concept. "Speed" was anchored by a great cheesy action movie notion, but "Crank" has a more unique take with its own “slow down and die” twist that definitively outrivals the earlier Keanu Reeves film. In case you don't know, the idea is that Chev Chelios (Statham) must keep his adrenaline going, or he dies. Cinematically, that should translate into constant, unrelenting action that keeps the audience's adrenaline up, but my fear going into this picture is that the filmmakers would water down the action into a "Cellular" volume, and that I would walk away disappointed. "Cellular" was a good film in its own right, but such a tone would not a fit a concept such as this one.