Wednesday, June 20, 2018

German Angst (2015/2018)

Directors: Jorg Buttgereit, Michal Kosakowski, Andreas Marschall

If you have been following the site for some time, you know that we love horror anthology films. For better or worse and in the case of anthologies, a little bit of both. One of the cult horror films that has been bubbling under the mainstream conscious is German Angst, which has been floating around in various releases for the last few years, and it finally hits Blu Ray from Artsploitation films in the US. Now, when a film finds that cult stream like this did, horror fans tend to build it up and can overhype it as ‘the best film you haven’t seen’ and keeping your expectations in check is the best way to approach German Angst. Particularly because the film is much more artsy and diverse than maybe some of the marketing would lead one to believe. The results are impressive though and, while it may seem a bit slow at times or too vague with its narratives through the three stories for some mainstream horror fans, each of them delivers on their promises in some effective ways making the entire film one that more hardcore horror fans will definitely want to dig their teeth into.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Endless (2018)

Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Notable Cast: Justin Benson, Aaaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington, Lew Temple, James Jordan, Shane Brady, Kira Powell, David Lawson, Emily Montague, Peter Cilella, Vinny Curran, Glen Roberts

Perhaps it’s the cynic in me that thought directors Moorhead and Benson were being a bit too arrogant with their abilities when I found out that they would be starring as the two leads in their latest genre bending piece of cinema, The Endless. Don’t get me wrong, they had built up a lot of momentum with the back to back successes of Resolution and Spring, particular the latter which truly elevated their writing and directorial skills to some astronomical levels. Still, when The Endless started making the rounds in the festival circuit, my cynicism for directors who like to put themselves in movies perked up. Fortunately, now that The Endless is finally hitting home video with a solid little theatrical release to boot a few months ago, people can rest at ease that Moorhead and Benson are not indulging their own egos with this film but are simply adding to their impressive resumes. The Endless is a phenomenal film riding on their ability to create charisma in a strange and often perplexingly offbeat genre shifting tone. It’s personal, intimate, and impressively otherworldly at the same time. Like their previous two, this film is not for more casual film goers with its oddities, but it is one likely to find a very large and dedicated cult following. A somewhat hilarious concept considering the ideas at the core of its story.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Abominable (2005)

Director: Ryan Schifrin
Notable Cast: Matt McCoy, Haley Joel, Christien Tinsley, Karin Anna Cheung, Jeffrey Combs, Natalie Compagno, Paul Gleason, Ashley Hartman, Lance Henriksen, Rex Linn, Phil Morris, Tiffany Shepis, Chad Smith, Dee Wallace, Paul Spadone, Josh Wolfe

Generally speaking, I’m a sucker for creature features. Wholeheartedly so. Good, bad, ugly, funny...I just love a silly monster movie. That being said, the amount of good Sasquatch horror movies to bad Sasquatch movies heavily leans in the realms of the latter. As easy as it would seem to make a fun monster movie with one of the world’s most popular kinds of monsters, very rarely have I found myself impressed with them beyond unintentional humor or a passable way to burn time. Abominable, on the other hand, is both. It’s a great, bad killer Sasquatch film. There’s not an ounce of me that believes Abominable is meant to be a classically regarded horror classic. This is a film that starts with very little, in terms of non-basic horror concepts, and builds such a fun piece of cinema on top of it with its self-aware elements and outlandish execution that it was very hard for me to wipe the smile off of my face when watching it. If that’s not an endorsement for cult cinema fans, I’m not sure what else would be.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sleepy Eyes of Death 8: Sword of Villainy (1966)

Director: Kenji Misumi
Notable Cast: Raizo Ichikawa, Shigeru Amachi, Shiho Fujimura, Kentaro Kudo, Ryuzo Shimada, Yasushi Nagata, Tatsuo Endo, Koichi Uenoyama, Ryosuke Kagawa, Koichi Mizuhara

After the surprisingly successful quality of the previous entry, it was hard not to jump into Sleepy Eyes of Death 8: Sword of Villainy with some high expectations. Not that this series has always been the most consistent with quality overall, but the seventh entry managed to produce a well-executed film with some lofty and off beat gimmicks and this eighth entry was bringing back one of Japan’s finest genre directors to helm it, Kenji Misumi. As Sword of Villainy plays out, it’s almost the polar opposite in style to Mask of the Princess. This film is dense, playing out at times like a socio-political drama more than a gimmickier chanbara film, and it runs the gauntlet in a more artsy, theatrical, and vague manner. It’s no wonder that many fans have mixed feelings on the film. Even when the narrative flow feels flawed or pushes too far in one direction, the film is still carried through by its phenomenal cast and another brilliant round of direction from Misumi. Just make sure that you keep open to what it has to offer.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Believer (2018)

Director: Lee Hae-young
Notable Cast: Cho Jin-woong, Ryu Jun-yeol, Kim Joo-hyuk, Kim Sung-ryung, Park Hae-joon, Jung Jun-won, Jin Seo-yeon, Kang Seung-hyun, Seo Hyun-woo, Kim Dong-young, Lee Joo-young, Jung Ga-ram

Remakes. As much as they are seen as a plague on the film industry, they exist and considering that they are not going away any time soon we should simply hope for the best from them. Even with this approach in mind, it was hard not to be cynical about the announcement that there would be a South Korean remake of Johnnie To’s recent crime thriller, Drug War. Namely because Johnnie To did it so impeccably well to delivered a nihilistic slice of brutally subtle narrative and viciously opportunistic characters in a chaotic world within his film. With the remake, under the title Believer, getting a limited theatrical release from our friends at Well Go USA, hope was lifted. By the time that the credits rolled, that hope turned to relief. Believer is not ‘just’ a remake of the Johnnie To film, but it’s definitely a new interpretation of the original. In many ways, this film takes the blueprints laid out by To and builds a new film of its own on top of it. Believer uses some of the elements, here and there, but ultimately crafts a unique vision of the story. It is a film that effectively succeeds
on its own merits and delivers a crime tale that’s as smart as it is explosive.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)

Director: Jim Wynorski
Notable Cast: Dick Durock, Louis Jourdan, Heather Locklear, Sarah Douglas, Ace Mask, Monique Gabrielle, Daniel Emery, Joey Sagal, RonReaco Lee

It’s not like the original Swamp Thing, directed by Wes Craven, is some kind of cinematic gold. It’s not. Far from it, in fact. It’s sequel, The Return of Swamp Thing, takes things even further down the rabbit hole of B-grade cinema and...well, it’s not cinematic gold either. However, The Return of Swamp Thing is a film that has no intention of being that film that rises above that line. Coming from the director of Chopping Mall, Deathstalker II, and whose career as careened into made for SyFy monster movies and television pornography as of late, I suppose that it’s not that surprising. What is surprising is that this film is a lot of fun. Yeah, it’s dumb. Yet, the film embraces it with 100% of its existence and, for that, I have to give it some credit. Truthfully, people will either enjoy it or completely despise it and even though it’s hard to say it’s “good” in any sense of the word, I do have a lot of enjoyment with it.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Mimic (2018)

Director: Huh Jung
Notable Cast: Yum Jung-Ah, Park Hyuk-Kwon, Shin Rin-A

Director Huh Jung came rip roaring onto the scene with his debut feature length film, Hide and Seek. He was winning awards, the film made a statement at the South Korean box office, and he set a very high bar for himself. That is one of the things about coming out of the gate with full power for a debut film. There is a lot of pressure to follow it up with a bombastic sophomore effort and fans will set serious expectations in the success of the film. With his sophomore effort, The Mimic, Huh Jung continues on with his horror material, but this time pushes forward into potential creature feature and ghost story territory as he adapts a Korean legend of ‘the tiger of Mt. Jang.’ While the results are not nearly as efficient as his previous effort, the film does soar in many aspects that will have fans and newbies to his material hooked.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Director: Ron Howard
Notable Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau

When the latest Star Wars entry was announced to be a prequel featuring a young Han Solo doing his space smuggler thing, I will admit I was less than thrilled. Disney and the LucasFilms machine has an entire universe to explore and they decided to go the safe route with a character that we already know and have already spent four films with in some regard. Yawn. The following behind the scenes drama for the film, featuring Lord and Miller being booted from the film after shooting a significant amount of it and rumors of a shoot that was PLAGUED with issues, certainly didn’t inspire a lot of hope in the product. Even the hiring of megastar director Ron Howard to fix the film seemed hollow, particularly since most of his recent output never connected with me. To say that I was going in with some pretty low expectations is an understatement. Perhaps this is why, even though the film is, indeed, very, very flawed, I was pleasantly surprised with Solo: A Star Wars Story (ugh, that title still sticks in my craw.) Ultimately, Solo is a fun film with enough entertaining elements to pass off as a decent early blockbuster for the year. It’s hardly one of the best from Star Wars, easily the worst of the Disney era for a variety of reasons that I will go into here in a second, but it’s fun and it’s an inoffensive piece of cinema that works as the popcorn flick it is. Did I want more? Sure, but I was not expecting to get it.

How Long Will I Love You (2018)

Director: Lun Xu
Notable Cast: Jia Ying Lei, Li Ya Tong

It’s not often that a cult cinema site like Blood Brothers is offered the chanced to run coverage on a romantic comedy and, normally, it’s one that we wouldn’t pursue because, well, how many rom-coms have genre elements that would even fit into the realms of cinema we cover? However, How Long Will I Love You had a twist. It’s a film that uses a time-travel/multi-dimensional gimmick as the hinge in bringing the two leads together for their rom-com tropes. It was enough to perk our interest in the film and here we are…writing a positive review for a rom-com. In many ways, the film suffers by adhering so vehemently to the tropes of the genre. Enough so that large swaths of the film are easily predictable. On the other hand, the film subverts them with its own messages about fate and serendipity through its strange fantasy elements. It’s a teeter-totter kind of back and forth that makes it feel a bit more sporadic then needed, but ultimately the saving grace of How Long Will I Love You is that no matter which way the film is leaning, it’s irresistibly charming and powered by the hilarious and heartwarming chemistry between its two leads.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Sleepy Eyes of Death 7: The Mask of the Princess (1966)

Director: Akira Inoue
Notable Cast: Raizo Ichikawa, Yaeko Mizutani, Ichiro Nakatani, Keiko Kayama, Michiko Ai, Tamotsu Fujiharu, Ryutaro Gomi, Kiyoshi Ito, Kanae Kobayashi

“For a villain like me, this is a very nice grave.”

In terms of this franchise, Sleepy Eyes of Death 7: The Mask of the Princess represents one key aspect of why it has been so successful: impressive execution. At this point, the formula of what constitutes a film in this series is pretty solidified and almost exclusively etched in stone, so there are plenty of elements to be expected in those regards. However, The Mask of the Princess uses those aspects to continually spin the film in some intriguing directions and plays on the audience’s expectations in some fun ways. On top of that, the film might be one of the more fascinating films of the series on a visual level with director Akira Inoue bringing a great sense of style and purpose to it that layers well with the narrative and script. Even when the film is predictable, it is able to be one of the best in the franchise on sheer execution.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bruce's Deadly Fingers (1976)

Director: Joseph Kong Hung
Notable Cast: Bruce Le, Michael Chan, Lo Lieh, Nora Miao, Nick Cheung, Yuan Man-Tzu, Chiang Tao, Tong Tin-Hei, Fung Ging-Man, Chiu Chi-Ling, Bolo Yeung
Also Known As: Bruce’s Fingers

The one thing about Bruceploitation films is that either a) you completely buy into the cheesy concept and appreciate them for what they are or b) you don’t. Even as a massive martial arts cinema fan, sometimes the obvious low budget cash ins on Bruce Lee’s fame (and death) feel a tad out of place and occasionally disrespectful. At their worst, this is most definitely the case. At their best though, which is where Bruce’s Deadly Fingers tends to lean towards, it’s fun and exploitative entertainment that knows exactly what it is. In the case of Bruce’s Deadly Fingers, an all-star cast, some outlandish silly sequences, and a lot of tongue in cheek humor is what carries the film to being one of the better ones I have seen in the Bruceploitation movement. It’s still a rather hit or miss product, but for fans of the kung fu sub-genre this latest Blu Ray from VCI for the film is going to be a necessary addition to the martial arts fan’s collection.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Quiet Place (2018)

Director: John Krasinski
Notable Cast: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward

Being a parent is hard. It’s filled with drama and horror in equal measure with love and wonder. It is unlike anything else I’ve ever tried, and I’ve tried a lot of stuff. One unavoidable fact of family life is that while it is many things, it is always loud. Whether a baby is crying, a toddler is whining/screaming, or an older child is having a shouting match with a sibling, a parent, or themselves, there is rarely an escape from the flood of sound that accompanies domesticity. The constant assault of this sound is already a point of anxiety for parents, if not because of the current situation (cough-we don’t need to inform the checker why I’m a boy but thanks anyway toddler) than from the unrelenting stimuli that are as exhausting as they are raucous.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Blood Splatter: 2018 Horror Vol 2 [Winchester, Downrange, Ghost Stories]


Director: The Spierig Brothers
Notable Cast: Jason Clarke, Helen Mirren, Sarah Snook, Finn Scicluna-O’Prey, Angus Sampson, Laura Brent, Tyler Coppin, Eamon Farren, Bruce Spence

By all means, Winchester should be one of the best horror films of the year. The Spierig Brothers have a fantastic visual style, the film features two phenomenal leads in Jason Clarke and Helen Mirren, and the time period setting is ripe for a classic Gothic/ghost tale tone. So what exactly goes wrong with Winchester that it stumbles so badly? The answer is nothing really. There is nothing distinctly wrong with any of these things. Visually, the film uses its sets and period setting to give it enough of a decent look, the performances are certainly fine, and the film goes for that old school appeal of dramatic haunting with just enough modern tricks and jump scares to curb the appetites of the modern audience.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Revenge (2018)

Director: Coralie Fargeat
Notable Cast: Matilda Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Columbe, Guillaume Bouchede

There is a current movement in horror, among some of the younger directors particularly, that sees the exploitation films of the past as a leaping point to create a new sense of artistry. The directing combo of Cattet and Forzani are breathing new life into giallo, for example, and now there is a new name on the scene making her mark: Coralie Fargeat. With her debut feature length film, Revenge, Fargeat is out to modernize – in an artful manner – the rape n’ revenge flick. Seeing as the genre has seen its fair share of terrible films to balance out the more impressive ones like Ms. 45 or the original I Spit on Your Grave, this is a welcome movement. Rest assured, Revenge is a BEAST of a film. Salaciously stylish, horrifyingly uncomfortable, and unafraid to embrace its exploitation roots with an artistic flair for the modern. It will make you squirm, gasp, cover your eyes, gag, cheer, and white knuckle the arm rest on your chair. Not only is it an effective film to bring the sub-genre back, it most certainly brings it back with a wicked vengeance that allows it to overcome its own flaws.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Champion (2018)

Director: Kim Yong-wan
Notable Cast: Ma Dong-seok, Kwon Yul, Han Ye-ri

There is a moment in the second half of Champion, a film that follows the sports mold formula almost exclusively to a ‘T,’ where there is a little television program that is going through the history of our hero Mark, played with fantastic depth by Ma Dong-seok. This is, inherently, not an unusual piece for the dramatic sports film. It is meant to dig into the hero’s past, even so briefly, before the final showdown so that all of the characters in the film along with the audience are given as much emotional weight as they can carry before leaping into the dramatic and tense finale where hopefully it all pays off. Champion does its best to subvert the drama with enough humor throughout to give it a bit of its own spin, in a cheesy way, and it’s here that it reaches its own strange height. During this segment, the announcer talks about how Mark faced adversity as he grew up and that he was something of an outcast, but it was one movie that changed his life and lead him to start arm wrestling for the glory that would this final tournament in the last act. That film was Over the Top.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Directors: The Russo Brothers
Notable Cast: Um...everyone?

Ten years. The established Marvel Cinematic Universe has been running for ten years and while the quality of the material has seen its fair share of ups and downs over that period, one cannot deny the impact that these films have made on the industry as they have only continually garnered momentum. Eighteen films in this series and after the last handful reached heavy critical and box offices successes, it has all culminated in Avengers: Infinity War, the first of a two-part mega film that gathers all of our heroes into one massive epic against a villain they have been hinting at for the majority of the series. After Avengers: Age of Ultron was a massive misfire and Civil War doesn’t hold up nearly as well with repeated viewings, I found myself skeptical that a film with roughly 2 million characters (estimated) was going to be able to pull anything off worthy of the hype that was surrounding Infinity War. However, this film is not to be trifled with. Not only is it an efficient crossing of the entire series of films, powered by the development of the characters in other films, but it takes a lot of chances that betray the general formulas of the MCU thus far that will leave fans both perplexed and intrigued. It’s both consumable in its nature and occasionally bold for a blockbuster.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Children of the Corn: Runaway (2018)

Director: John Gulager
Notable Cast: Marci Miller, Jake Ryan Scott, Sara Moore, Mary Kathryn Bryant, Lynn Andrews III, Kevin Harvey, Diane Ayala Goldner, Eric Starkey

After Children of the Corn: Genesis and the truly abysmal made-for-TV remake of the original, I was ready for the Children of the Corn series to be laid to rest and buried behind the rows of sweet corn. It was obvious that this series had grown, was harvested and left the soil unfit for further cultivation. When it announced that the ninth entry into the series (yeah, nine entries) would finally get a release after being stuck in developmental hell for a handful of years, my excitement could be measured in a long and drawn out sigh. Even worse, Children of the Corn: Runaway was directed by John Gulager who managed to kill his own Feast franchise and make Piranha 3DD too stupid to survive. Imagine my surprise that this ninth entry to a series (that didn’t really deserve four entries) came out as not only decent, but one of the best that the franchise had to offer - not that it means much. It simultaneously reboots the series in a clever way while at the same time delivering a modernized spin on the intellectual property that matches the current trends in horror. Yeah, Runaway is not just another hackneyed slasher, it’s actually a horror film that expands on the mythology and pushes it into some new territory. It’s a mixed effort ultimately, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

I'm Flash! (2012)

Director: Toshiaki Toyoda

Notable Cast: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kiko Mizuhara, Shigeru Nakano, Kento Nagayama, Itsuji Itao, Yukiya Kitamura

Toshiaki Toyoda is a filmmaker whose body of work I have only explored the early stages of. Having seen his first four features and being a fan of each: Pornostar ('98), Unchain ('00), Blue Spring ('02), and 9 Souls ('03), I think I have a good grip on what I like about the man and what makes his works click for me. He has a plethora of interesting characters in every narrative and his anarchic sensibilities lead to this brisk and punk in your face mentality that lends itself to some very memorable cinema. I'm Flash!, a later work in the auter's oeuvre, is no different than his early outings in this regard and is filled with the same chaotic energy that attracted me to his works in the first place. Age hasn't extinguished that fiery spirit whatsoever. I'm Flash! easily stands alongside the director's early gems.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Cambodian Textiles (2017)

Director: Tatsuhito Utagawa

Featuring: Kikuo Morimoto

Kikuo Morimoto, a Japanese native from Kyoto, travelled to Cambodia after its civil war, where the art of traditional textile weaving was practically extinct. He renovated a large piece of land and created a village that strived in this near forgotten art, crafting a successful economy and a village that has a lot if heart. During the time this documentary was made, Morimoto had revealed he was diagnosed with skin cancer and opted to not receive treatment, but to rather let life go its own pace on him. We see roughly two years of he and the locals lives as he inches closer to his departure and reflects on the state of Cambodian textiles and the community he helped build all these years ago.

Re:Born (2017)

Director: Yuji Shimomura

Notable Cast: Tak Sakaguchi, Orson Mochizuki, Yura Kondo, Akio Ōtsuka, Takumi Saito

RE:BORN リボーン (2017)

This movie is absolutely insane!!! Tak Sakaguchi comes back from a brief retirement for one more action fueled joyride that comes with an overwhelming barrage of action scenes that never disappointed. Zero-range combat tactics, created for the film by action choreographer Yoshitaka Inagawa, called to mind the intense hand-to-hand from the video game franchise, Metal Gear Solid. That is no complaint and in fact pulled me into the action even closer, no pun intended whatsoever.