Monday, October 16, 2017

"Two Dollars Worth and Forget the Front" - Scream Bloody Murder (1973)

Can people change? Or must they accept who and where they are without the ability to make changes? That is the deep philosophical question posed by Scream Bloody Murder (1973), and the answer turns out to be much simpler than you might suppose.

Of course, many revered IMDB critics from your universe miss the deep underpinnings of the film. Itsheldy1 writes, "This movie is so slow and mind boggling that I was happy for it to get to the end." The reviewer known simply as Scott writes, "This movie has a lot of things missing in it, mainly a plot and a lot of explanations." And preppy-3 writes, "The plot doesn't make a lot of sense, there's terrible overdubbing, lousy music, pathetic dialogue and Fred Holbert is awful as the grown up Matthew."

Let us step back and see Scream Bloody Murder for what it truly is, a well considered exploration of a disturbed mind with a plot that does indeed "make sense," for whatever that is worth.

Monday, October 9, 2017

"God Bless Airplanes" - To All a Goodnight (1980)

What should one expect from a film written by the incredible melting man himself, Alex Rebar, and directed by Last House on the Left's Krug himself, David Hess? An instant classic, of course. Fortunately, the one film that meets these criteria, To All a Goodnight (1980), despite the unusual presentation of the two-word phrase "good night," meets all our expectations, and then some.

Many of your universe's critics are not moved by the holiday spirit when it comes to this film. On IMDB, capkronos writes, "This forgettable horror film wraps up with a pathetic and desperate twist ending." (How can a twist ending, or any ending for that matter, be desperate, capkronos?) Also on IMDB, gwnightscream writes, "This film is disappointing. Many scenes are dark which makes me want to go to sleep, the characters are unlikable...the editing stinks and the ending is kind of predictable and ridiculous." Michael_Elliott writes, "it's a pretty sluggish affair because there are obviously all kinds of corners being cut. It's obvious watching the film because some scenes just appear to be first takes that they had to use because they didn't have more time."

It would likely take more than holiday spirit for these reviewers to come to their senses regarding this film, so I will describe its praiseworthy qualities in as much detail as I can muster.

Monday, October 2, 2017

"My Name Means 'Island,' You Know" - Dark Waves (2016)

As we did with The Night Shift (2016), occasionally it becomes necessary to look at a modern cinematic masterpiece in order to be reminded that cinema is not dead, buried, and entirely decomposed. With that in mind, we will now consider Dark Waves (2016) aka Bellerofonte (which is not, alas, a biopic about the beloved calypso singer).

Unusually, this film has no reviews on IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, so I will take the step of quoting reviews from the cineastes at Amazon. For example, Catpeople writes, "There plot, just random artsy scenes that didn't tie together. When I saw 'zombie pirates' I expected more." Helene Dufft writes, with charmingly arbitrary punctuation, "Boring,,no plot,,n the acting was awful !!!!" Reviewer James simply writes, "Not."

While it will no doubt be difficult to counter such incisive arguments, I will attempt to describe the work of art that is Dark Waves.

Monday, September 25, 2017

"You'll Never Find the Reason" - The Devil's Rain (1975)

"Heaven Help Us All When The Devil's Rain" is the tag-line for The Devil's Rain (1975), one of the most famous examples of a copywriter misunderstanding the difference between a possessive apostrophe and a plural noun. However, the clumsiness of the advertising copy does not detract from the high quality of Robert Fuest's allegorical masterpiece of good versus evil.

When the film was first released, someone named Roger Ebert wrote, "The problem is that the material's stretched too thin. There's not enough here to fill a feature-length film. No doubt that's why we get so many barren landscapes filled with lonely music and ennui." (In fact, this film is on a list of Ebert's most hated films, along with other fine movies such as The Deathmaster, Critters 2, and Halloween III.) Continuing with reviews, on IMDB Aaron1375 writes, "Most of the movie is sadly rather underdone. Seems they had a somewhat interesting concept and just rushed it to the finish line." Lee Harris, also on IMDB, writes, "Volumes could be written about what this film lacks; plot, compelling diologue, catharsis, acting."

Simply put, these reviews are incorrect. Correcting them requires a detailed exploration of the film so detested by this "Roger Ebert" character.

Monday, September 18, 2017

"Are You Still Interested in a Pituitary Gland?" - The Chilling (1989)

Our next film is 1989's The Chilling, a variation on 1985's Return of the Living Dead but with an additional layer, a fascinating moral dilemma. The dilemma is whether cryogenically freezing bodies is good or evil. (Spoiler: it is evil.)

While The Chilling is a modern classic in my universe, the influential IMDB reviewers of your universe are less convinced of its quality. For example, Coventry writes, "Even in spite of the low budget available, they could have done better. The set pieces, make-up effects and costumes are pitiable." Uriah43 writes, "Everything—the action, the suspense and the horror—seemed tepid. And as a result I can only recommend it to 'zombie' and/or 'animated corpse' enthusiasts. Whichever the case may be." Paul Magne Haakonsen writes, "For a horror movie, then "The Chilling" is really boring and uneventful. And I am sure for a 1989 movie, it wasn't even really scary back then."

These reviews, needless to say, are incorrect. Let me correct the record and attempt to raise The Chilling to its rightful place among the zombie movie pantheon.

Monday, September 11, 2017

"Understanding the Mental Ills and the Psychological Problems of Mankind" - Werewolf Woman (1976)

I am no expert, but I do not believe there are many Italian werewolf films in your universe. A quick search turns up a few with which I am unfamiliar: an Ursus movie by Antonio Margheriti and Ruggero Deodato in which a sorceror turns men into werewolves, Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory (1961), and something called Versipellis. In general, however, I believe the Americans and the Spaniards have historically been more interested in werewolves, which is something of a shame given the spectacularly erudite Italian contribution to the genre, Werewolf Woman (1976) aka La Lupa Mannara.

 As is often the case with Italian films, the critics of your universe  completely miss the intellectual depth of the film. On IMDB, reviewer lazarillo writes, "This is NOT a good movie. Nor is it really even 'so-bad-its-good.'" TheMarquisDeSuave writes, "Unfortunately, the film becomes pretty irritating fast. There's no actual plot or anything else really." The_Void writes, "Normally, I enjoy films like this; but Werewolf Woman is indeed a bad film, and despite all the sex and savagery on display; it doesn't even make for a fun watch, and that really is unforgivable."

Unforgivable? No, entirely forgivable, as we shall soon see...

Monday, September 4, 2017

"A Bunch of Fantasies Going on Only in Your Head" - The Boogeyman (1980)

A film that has gone in and out of fashion over the years is 1980's The Boogeyman, directed by Ulli Lommel, a former actor who collaborated many times with Rainer Werner Fassbinder and a friend of Andy Warhol's. Mr. Lommel's artistic background was put to fine use in The Boogeyman, one of the first slasher films with no slasher.

While the film has both supporters and critics, it is clear that the negative critics are quite unfair to the film. When The Boogeyman was released in 1980, reviewer Gary Arnold wrote somewhat confusingly in the Washington Post, "It's difficult to judge whether the payoffs would be enhanced by a more plausible or clever pretext. Probably not. The shocks might even be curiously diluted by a little preliminary sophistication." On IMDB, reviewer ModKuraika says the film has a "dismal tone, terrible effects (for that time), cheesy acting. One of the worst films I have ever witnessed and never wish to view again." Also on IMDB, tomgillespie2002 calls the film "daft" and "instantly forgettable."

As always, I must dispel the cloud of negative perceptions about this film by looking at its positive qualities in detail.

Monday, August 28, 2017

"Make Time Go By Just a Little Faster" - The Night Shift (2017)

We do not consider many recent films here at Senseless Cinema, but sometimes exceptions must be made. The 2016 film The Night Shift is such a case, primarily because of its provenance as a film directed by Massimiliano Cerchi, a filmmaker who may or may not have been involved in both The Mummy Theme Park (2000) and Creatures from the Abyss (1994). In fact, this film's first credit, even before the title, is "Directed by Massimiliano Cerchi" over a beautiful helicopter shot of a car driving through a village surrounded by snowy mountains. (The title appears soon after, in a fetching red Papyrus font, as seen in the graphic above.)

But enough about directors and title fonts. What do your universe's fine (and I use that term advisedly) critics think of The Night Shift? On IMDB, reviewer leofwine_draca writes, "it's just too slow to be a successful movie." Cmello-16172 writes, "Extremely low quality - with no evidence of a budget to speak of. The real 'horror' here is that this film was actually produced and furnished to the public. Viewer beware!"

I could not find any other reviews of this film, so let us move on to describe the wonders of its intricate plot.

Monday, August 21, 2017

"How About Another Beer, Will Ya?" - Moonstalker (1989)

Now we return, as we must, to the late 1980s to revisit a classic slasher film, Moonstalker (1989). Despite the title, Moonstalker is not a werewolf film, but a fine example of the late-period wilderness slasher film.

Let us see what the most respected critics of your universe think about Moonstalker. Surprisingly, and I use the word sarcastically, the reviewers of IMDB are not fans of the film. Reviewer acid burn-10 writes, "There just doesn't seem to be any effort put into this whatsoever, I know that Slashers aren't known for developing characters, but this is ridiculous." Scott_Mercer writes, "This film was indeed well worth 98 cents. 99 cents, I might start to argue with you." Reviewer fanqarm writes, with admirably charming capitalization, "IT IS So Sad. Even though this was shot with film i think it stinks a little bit more than flicks like Blood Lake [and] There's Nothing Out There." (I have not reviewed those last mentioned films yet, but suffice it to say I believe "fanqarm" is incorrect.)

Permit me to refute these respected critics and describe the powerful film that is Moonstalker.

Monday, August 14, 2017

"My Theory Is That Once You're Dead, You're Dead" - Demon Keeper (1994)

Let us move on to 1994 and a small but underrated film from Roger Corman's New Horizons Pictures, Demon Keeper. Directed by Joe Tornatore, who also directed Grotesque (1988), and starring big-name actors Edward Albert and Dirk  Benedict, Demon Keeper is an entertaining gem.

Again, your universe's most respected critics (i.e., those writing reviews on IMDB), disagree about the quality of the film. Backlash007 writes, "Demon Keeper is still a bad B-movie and nothing could have changed that." Nipperoshea, who reviewed the film years after viewing it, writes, "Although it has been several years, I still remember wondering how any film could be worse. My advice, DO NOT see this movie." And Brian Weimer writes, "Oh man, what a bad movie, in every sense of the word....To me, this movie has no redeeming values whatsoever....The acting in this movie is extremely bad, and the budget was most likely the lowest in cinematic history."

Perhaps the budget was the lowest in cinematic history. So what? It is again incumbent upon me to provide details about the film in order to rebut the critics' dubious claims.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Scary Digits: Box Office Update for August 10, 2017

Interactive Box Office Graphs

I set up an interactive tool to look at box office data for horror movies (using a loose definition of horror movie). The tool shows a graph with data on budgets and box office grosses, including U.S. opening weekend, U.S. after opening, and foreign box office totals. Moving your mouse over the graph (or tapping on mobile devices) provides detailed information about each movie. The interactive tool is available at the link below. (You can bookmark that page if you find it useful.)

Keep reading for a box office update for August 10...