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Host: Influences from DIY, Found-footage, Mumblecore, etc. with Social Distancing?
Savage's Host, comes in the time of social distancing where low production companies now facing a challenge of the "new normal". One can say that the Unfriended (2014) or even Grave Encounters (2011-2012) and the Gallows series is an influence. But there are genres and particular pioneering films that initially fused the internet, found footage, social media with the supernatural.

But within the millennial cinema of the supernatural and the internet: one needs to give credit to the Blair Witch Project (1999-2000). Yes, it's considered found footage genre and a mockumentary but it used the internet to gather its story (doubling as premarket tool for the film releasing) unlike Paranormal Activity (2007) initiated on the premise of found-footage then with REC's (2007) live-footage horror.

The possible inspirational roots for Host could be most likely Joe Swanberg's segment in V/H/S (2012) using then video chat room with the supernatural, many refer this segment to "mumblecore" genre (although it's a rejected term) and the webisode series, The 15 Experience (think of the infamous make-up tutorial segment). The length of Host (56 mins) works fine, since it's supposed to be a Zoom session, that usually cut offs may within an hour.

Many late Millennial/Gen Z viewers probably unknown to the aforementioned genres, may view this feature as pioneering and fresh. Even though this just a revisit (but in the process), it intersects past genres. Considering the challenges that directors face during the Co-vid era, Host proves to make horror and suspense still present offline and online.

I highly recommend viewing this film on mobile or tablet device, it's appropriate... it builds up the suspense.


Manyeo: Bewitched as a Gamechanger!
Park's 2018 feature challenges Hollywood usual tropes on CGI anti-heroe films (think what Bryan Singer 's 2000 X-Men did with these themes). This is solely for entertainment, no art-house inventions here, Manyeo just gives a kick into turbo format!

Again, usual tropes on super-enhanced beings, dueling with each other. Ultra violence being the tool for storytelling. Here it takes the antics let's say from the Wolverine film franchise backed by surprising really good acting from cast.

Although there's a bit of K-Pop influence (kinda tongue-in-cheek for some) or a stylist charm (like the Underworld films wardrobe) as well but the plentiful action takes off as the story develops and it's characterization blooms as well!

Abroad, it's title is The Witch: Subversion (Part 1) which mean action awaits with the story of a super being getting her revenge continues... who knows?! The translated title could be misleading for some viewers, thinking that this is a straightforward supernatural horror flick.

Blood Quantum

Blood Quantum: A Native Take on Romero's Living Dead Tropes
Native filmaker, Jeff Barnaby (of Mig'maq ancestry) takes a departure from his Native-centred fiction and non-fiction films to horror genre. Here with Blood Quantum (title references Barnaby's extensive knowledge of indigenous history and traditions). His past films like Rhymes for Young Ghouls, show his dedication to affirm the Native perspective.

Barnaby's 2019 feature shows an interest by to access mainstream entertainment but its indigenous content may curb its popularity. There has been international films to try and break The "zombie" trope like The Dead, set in Africa and Juan of the Dead, set in Cuba. Barnaby really challenges viewers to accept the notion that Native people can play the survivor role within an apocalyptic narrative.

The story intermixed historic fact with science fiction and of plus gore and horror! Like George Romero (father of the flesh-living dead, popularly known as "zombies"), Barnaby adds plenty of social criticism. This element might turn off the usual zombie legions of fans, who won't get it nor not wanting a different perspective.

This social element is what it makes this strong but also what only Romero fans will get: an obvious reference to Romero's 2005 Land of the Dead. Also its cast of Native actors is pretty exceptional (Michael Greyeyes, etc.) with an interesting dark cinematic look (similar to Land of Dead) backed with Blues-rock song tracks. This is a strong lead with Blood Quantum for Canadian Native Horror cinema!


Time Capsule: Rave Develops an Early Bromance!
This film that begin a cult following and reaction is mixture of "aweness" and things that have been done before. The film has decent acting by two main characters played by Cristian Ortega (Johnno) and Lorn MacDonald (Spanner).

Brian Welsh offers much solid creativity of making film black and white then heads into beautiful imagery. Welsh has strong skill to juxtaposed the music with visuals, and DJ music of the late 80s (Detroit House dO music like Juan Akins to Drum & Bass) both into this melodic meaning of tween angst and small act of transgression. I surprised no "Mr. Spock" and classic gems of Rave music.

The film's weak points is the need to project a timeline parallel the 1994 law to shut down raves. And the "bromance" story between main characters becoming evident that there's affection toward each other.

The film's strength is the visuals along with the music, this WHY people are talking ABOUT the film! Welsh and his editing crews..some of one stunning scenes of rave imagery!


Retablo: Re-examining Masculinity in the Andes
Retablo" directed by Alvaro Delgado Aparicio and starring: Magaly Solier, Junior Béjar Roca and Amiel Cayo, set in Peru's Andes region. It's in Quechua & Spanish w/ English subtitles, released in 2018 with a duration of 1 hr. and 41 min. It has many themes from being indigenous, family, homophobia and tradition focusing on a teen, Segunfo wanting to become a master story-box or "retablo" maker (a traditional Peruvian cultural tradition) just like his dad, Noe.

This film has also received much recognition in 2018 in creating an unique LGBTQIA+ perspective on Andean regional culture amongst indigenous or nativo cultures. The film is beautifully shot amid mountainous landscapes, with unfortunately the domestic violence that LGTBQIA+ sometime faces. It also reinstate their cultural traditions still preserved and celebrated, using the actual artistic tradition to do some of the film's storytelling.

Tinta Bruta

In our present lifestyle for those who have been in quarantine for two months: webcam, social media and online entertainment like streaming films have been popularized.

"Tints Bruta" in its duration of 1hr. and 58min, drama, 2018 (Brazil) plus set in Brazil's city of Porto Alegre was directed/written by Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon. In 2018, they both received a Teddy Award, as part of the Berlin International Film Festival for the Best LGTBQIA+ film entry (and in that same year was screened at the Chicago International Film Festival).

It focuses on an anti-social Gen Zer, Pedro helmed beautifully by Shico Menegat. This gender fluid character type, almost can personify our present situation, living in a self-imposed quarantine. He only interacts with people virtually creating erotic performances with neon body paint. His online presence is "Neon Boy" and constantly online with a webcam and social media. Throughout these virtual performances he meets Leo, a contemporary dancer helmed by Bruno Fernandes.

Though his newly found relationship, he gets to meet other gender fluid and Queer creative types (Millennial and mostly Gen Z-aged). This film gives a fresh look and insight into Brazilian LGTBQIA+ communities (Afro-Brazilian, homohobia, Lesbian, Trans, etc.) and goes beyond Latin American cinematic tropes on present LGBTQIA+ life. It also "creepily" can relate to today's needed social distancing imagery: performances include wearing facial masks, Pedro's only 5 minute social activities, etc..

This is worth the look!

The Jesus Rolls

A TBL Homage or Bertrand Blier's 70s Antics? Torturro's Re-making Jesus AKA "TJR"
Majority of viewers maybe very disappointed with this film, The Jesus Rolls (TJR) which not a surprise. John Torturro took two cinematic glitches, or wonderful misfits: The Big Leboswki and Bertrand Blier's Les Valseuses.

These two gems that dared to stray from traditional filmic storytelling. One needs to give Torturro credit in trying do a mash up here,a remix with two much loved, with thier own beloved devotees.

Its star-studded cast from Susan Sarandon to Audrey Tautou, the story here is basically a road trip. A cinematic entry that actually works, but has alot of lumps. It definitely has much inspiration from 90s U.S. independent cinema and the influenced from the French New Wave.

A little tough to chew, but rewarding with good emotional acting support. But if you have for heart set for a TBL sequel, this is not it. It probably follows the French 70s in it's storytelling, set in Millennial time

TJR's worth a look, with an open mind.

Color Out of Space

Stanley's Reworking Lovecraft: Dystopian Farms and a Purple Haze
Discretion to the fantasy genre by Stanley is superb, working within a gravitas timeline. Although at one point, Nicolas Cage gets a bit campy, but the strength of the other actors helped to carry-out the plot.

One of the interesting aspects is the optical effects and also the sense of smell (as experienced by Nicolas Cage's character). Lovecraft's writing allows for have an imagination, this reworking of "Color Out of Space", one can not help to see connections to John Carpenter's The Thing.

If you had seen this feature on the big screen, the landscape shots, using tints of purples.


Porno: Lilith and a Demonic Flimcan
Keola Racela's Porno is a return entry to the comedic horror genre follow other predecessors like 80s director, Fred Drekker (Monster Squad, etc.). This film is set in the early 90s and makes reference to 60s satanic films.

Using that mix of satanic popular films and early 90s pop cultural references (Encino Man, etc.), one can see that horror cinema people have the theme of humor from the past 80s films like Fright Night, Return of the Living Dead, etc.. Interestingly enough, Racela pulls it off considering his prior filmwork slanted toward a possible an art-house audience.

The plot is nothing new, that using a movie theater as a site of terror. Lamerto Bava's Demons, that place characters in a locked demonic cinema, but even then reviewers have forgotten other films involving horror and cinema theater. Film's like Bigas Luna's Anguish, Willard Huyck's Messiah of Evil and even Craven's Scream 2 have good fine-horror in cinema scenes.

But what's works for this entry is that interconnection to popular culture, of course with the psychedelic effects toward the progress of Porno's premise: a Demonic theater. Those effects similar to Franco's Succubus (Necrominon) some creative liberties of Succubus creature.


Lala Pipo: A Contemporary Chronicle of Japan's Urban Sex Culture
Video Okud wrote the Novel, La la pulp in 6 chapters, each character is dealing with their own sexuality. The characters range from porn actor to low income writer. In an comedic approach to dealing with the notion of urban lifestyles.

Each character deals with their own situation, it mixes different themes from drama to scientific ideas. It's plays with Japanese pop culture and at this one point, film drags a bit and in the end one can find amusement of Japan's countercultural narrative with this film.

Weird Fiction

Weird Fiction: A Fan Movie About Fan Films?
This is a homegrown (a crowd-funded production by fans) and straight-forward horror anthology, obvious homage to Tales from Crypt TV show. Actors seemed to re-appear in the different vignettes, each story spooled by a host called The Collector (whose laughter is definitely from Tales from the Crypt).

This film is for hardcore 80s horror films, in some of the stories have referenced particular scenes from films like Nightmare on Elm St. Part 2. It's effects are mostly practical, with the "man-in-rubber suit" conventions. The average viewer will probably not get it's charm referencing 80s horror.

Most likely, it will disregarded as a low budget horror production. But it definitely has "heart" from horror movie fans. Its charm is what most mainstream productions like American Horror Story have appropriated from recent independent horror that uses 80s aesthetics from synthesized electronic music to visual title cards.

One of the stories that stood out was one, an unlucky romance between a psychotic and a vampire. other stories delved into monsters, sci-fi and murderers. It's good comfort horror celluloid; this for 80s fans of popular horror cinema.

Stay Out Stay Alive

Stay Out: Interestingly Enough but Too Slow
Intriguingly Stay Out, Stay Alive's plot surround itself with themes on greed, etc. It also has been screened in alot of horror film festivals since Barbara Crampton (of Re-Animator cult fame) has a small role.

This film centered on a group of millenials hanging in a hilly landscape, situated nearby a turn of the century goldmine. In these scenes, it's not much great dialogue in between friends.

One of the friends, Amy claims to have Native American heritage. Where discussion of Native stories are told, surrounding the abandoned mine. The grouping of young people continue to engage in pointless dialogue, around the campgrounds.

Around the last 30-40 minutes finally the film comes around with suspense building. At the point, it's saturated with twists, but it little late. In the end, this film can entertain but it weakest point, that it's very. slow build-up.

Imagine a World

A World of Technological Hell
It's short film of an original storyline that involves the accessibility of internet. It a devilish plot that reminds one of Clive Barker's Hellraiser and the acting was well done. The special effects are good in this 13 min. short.

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek: Well It's Not Candy Crush!
This inventive short by Gleason and Nicol is great at playing the horror film with today's youth obsessed with game apps! The parallel of sweet and wholesome images of a bunny, works well here.

This short blurring the one between an analog and digital world. The production value is good and good acting by the lead actor. If you probably catch this short with horror related film festivals.

Love Bite

Love Bite: It's Deep!
This short,17 min. Is about Nancy and George dealing with a zombie vital outbreak. Good production and done in red colors and a nice homage to George Romero and Dawn of the Dawn by playing "I'm a Man" song!

Paura nella città dei morti viventi

Your Problem is Your Mind: Fulci's City of the Walking Dead
First time I ever seen this legendary film, was dubbed The Gates of Hell (which I always loved this tile). As a very young viewer, it was pretty nerve-wrecking, I related alot to this film since there was a child actor, "John-John" (played by Giovanni Lombardo) who was kinda of bad-ass heroe to me. He was up against the living dead, his parents not believing him eventually meeting up with other fighters (Catriona MacColl and Christopher George).

At this point of Fulci's 80s films, they were having much commercial success in U.S. due to NY's Grindhouse circuit but also to the VHS trend. I remember big-boxes (inspired by U.S. early 80s porno industry) of his filmwork on Wizard Home Entertainment and this film was distributed by Paragon Video.

At this point, so much has written about Fulci, there's probably nothing I could add in this film. Except that element of surrealism is strongly evident in his films, like the City of the Walking Dead. His work has given slot of success to academic scholar and film critics, giving them a sort of self-marketing edge. Their careers are owed eternally to Fulci and I think Fulci would have to meet them now.

Interesting enough, this film was given homage by William Lustig and his 1996 Uncle Sam flick. 1996 was the year Fulci passed and that same year honoured by hardcore Itali-horror fans in European-held thematic film festivals, inviting Fulci's all stars like Catriona MacColl and the late David Warbeck!

This era really demonstrated the hard work of Italy- horror production, taking this cinematic exploits to high artistic levels. Scholars has written alot of early 80s need of "tereza" scenes by Italo-produced film companies. The need to distribute these films in the rural Italy where intended shock scenes were to pure entertainment for those audience to just react inbetween make out sessions or cigarette breaks.

All I can say this film is a must see but view Fulci's early 70s work and truly was underappreciated by the then Italian film industry. Fulci is a natural surrealist with his compositions shown in the 80s films.


Bacurau: Brazilian Cinematic Tropes with Genre Filmmaking
Brazilian has had a cinematic evolution from Cinema Novo to Hunger Aesthetics, with an influence from Italian Neo-Realist tropes. I think the reason that this provocative filmic production, Bacurau by Dornelles and Mendoza Filho has everyone loving and despising because it intermingled Grindhouse and Exploitative elements leading reviews to quote Tarantino and so far.

Case in point that 60s Brazilian cinema from the Tropicalista avant-garde (that critiqued Brazilian dictatorship) to popular horror films like the "Coffin Joe" series, Brazil has possibly started early its own genre filmmaking. It also reaches over to North America with the "Murica" gun-crazed antics with suggesting a critique on Brazilian violence.

Bacurau's strengths are in its visuals from tropical to desert location shots, merged with Brazilian regional musical traditions. It cements an unique cinematic experience that is found with today's emerging Latin American filmmakers. There's much symbolic references from Brazilian history but also North American pop culture (John Carpenter, western films, etc.) enlisting the iconic and legendary talents of Sonia Braga and Udo Kier

Cinematic art has the power of suggestion in which backseat has risen critique on how its gore is an on-screen critique on Capitalism. In early Brazilian cultural heritage, the notion of cannibalism has been a trope used as an artistic devouring device (in art, literature and music) of cultural values. Maybe this was source of inspiration for Bacurau?

It's a complex aesthetic, is being appreciated by some but it may take awhile or others to see it. It also a question of blurring the lines between "hi" and "low" cinema. It plunders the questions: Is it art house? Or exploitation?


Alcoholic Realities: Fragmentary
This film by Jace Pikard, done at locations around Sydney, Australia. Yes, there some originality with the story. Science, fantasy, timewarping, etc. depending how much alcohol is consumed.

As far as the acting, it's moderately done with some decent make-up effects of the different species in alternate realities. Although the film describes the creatures as another race but it should be probably "species" .

As independent fantastic cinema, Fragmentary is a good stepping stone for other reality-jumping films.

To Your Last Death

To Your Last Death: Gore and Animation!
If you love ultra violent anime... This is for you! The story is pretty original but the animation styles is popularly 90s 8but that's it's charm). Plot twists at every end, the voice overs done the likes of William Shatner!

Some of the deathtraps are truly gory... it reminds one of Japanese 90s "V" films and anime like "Perfect Blue". It centered around a wealthy family, corporate greed and psychopathy.

A must see for independent horror anime fans! It becomes a revenge film, it comes in timely, with the popularity of independent genres films like "Ready or Not", "You're Next", etc..

Last American Horror Show

Anthologies, Anthologies...
This low production, but a good example of independent horror shows promise with the stories (done as Act I, II, etc.). Lamb Feed was a good allegory of patriotism (made me think of Lusting's Uncle Sam concept) and Lynn Lowry's performance as aging and "badass" grandma (was not her best) but had some comedic relief.

Felissa Rose, cult icon of the Sleepaway Camp fame in the "Act III" arc story of this anthology. Another highlight was Arch Hall Jr. of the Spider Baby fame. These actors appearances (not necessarily their acting, except Hall was great for Lamb Feed) was the best aspect of this film along with some interesting storylines (Night of the Sea Monkey and Lamb Feed).

Since the low production, I feel the film suffered from editing, not having a strong transition, just name cards inbetween stories with occasional references to the arc storie. Nonetheless, if you support independent horror (like directors such as Rodriguez) it's worth a looksie.


Nocta: Meshing Un-Political Correctness with Homemade Gore!
Crippled Criss's Nocta is an unapologetic look at German subcultures with homemade late 80s/early 90s looking gore effects. This pic is quite fun, gives an insight to underground parting: referencing NeoGoth (with the main character, Nocta!), LGBTIQ, etc. This film delivers on nonstop gore effects to just a splatter zone!

At first glance, one may think this director have no thoughts but you'll find interesting characters from "white power" Neo-Nazis (a theme explored by Criss in earlier films) to a preaching "Afro German" identified character. It resolves around one night of partying with Nocta with even Christian ideologies, involving demonic possessions.

See this rare, uncensored flick, if you don't mind getting your sensibilities insulted!

Blood Fest

A nice effort, but it slowly becomes a blood fest!
The story had much interesting scientific explanations about the monstrous villians, it fails to entertain on new tropes. This film comes out upon a massive production and industrial commoditization of horror films to appreciate any original ideas behind this production. Which is amusing considering that film is somewhat based on the aforementioned cultural phenomenon.

Too much CGI is another weak point in this film, although this is not a cult classic but it should satisfy an horror fanatics. But to other fanatics they might get insulted by some of the film's critique on assimilating horror or genre filmmaking.

It's entertainment!

The Florida Project

An ethnographic portrait of Motel homelessness
Although one can applaud the director for artistic effort of showing the resident life of voucher-assisted families, but it's always hard to create an honest insight. What can be taken from this dramatic film is the director's influences and inspirations.

Sean Baker, this film's director has said that the "Little Rascals" was an inspiration for the characters of Monee, playfully helmed by Brooklynn Prince. It is interesting how Baker took images of the great depression and place them within a 21st century Millennial narrative.

Additional performances are the same source in which many other directors have employed. It's shot in a documentary styled manner similar to Walter Salles, like his 1998 film, Central Station, where the director recruited actors from the urban streets.

Where as Baker used social media to locate the actors in this film like Bria Vinaite who played Halley and other actors are said to be from actual motel homeless families.

Black Christmas

This is considered a cult, classic and protoslasher, all the terms popular with fans and scholars of genre and slasher filmmaking. It's obvious being made in the mid 70s that the Italian Giallo (POV shots) was popularly used and Bob Clark's earliest entry with Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things also had influence on this film.

The innocence of Jess, played by Argentinean Olivia Hussey (real name Olivia Osuna) was perfectly cast opposite of her sorority sisters, like loud-mouthed Barb played by the late Margot Kidder and the outrageous Marian Waldman as the house mother! Supporting actors such cult veteran star, John Saxon and Crononberg's The Brood leading actor, Art Hindle.

The rest of the interior location are excellent in creating (although the house is insanely large) claustrophobic and dark. Strong dubbing of the murderer's voice still create a distrubing chill today.

Roy Moore wrote this script in his late 20s Bob Clark was not a beginner,he was building a grouping of filmwork. This film precedes the similar plot twists of Halloween and When a Stranger Calls. They are some weak spots in the story but the chill feel of shots, oddly though behind cheerful imagery of Christmas.

This is definitely a film that should be seen and appreciate by filmbuffs and horror fans.

Extra Ordinary

Ahren and Loughman's "Extra Ordinary" is quite fun to watch as a Millennial light-weight genre. The true gravity of this film is the talents of Maeve Higgins, her portrayal of "Rose". I noticed that "Father Ted" is referenced in reviewing but it's fitting ... I think it's more like a variation of "Vicar of Dibley".

Techinically, it is a strong and visual film, it's soundtrack, hints a variant sound of John Harrison's "Day of the Dead" movie theme! Everytime I hear that sound I expect to see "Bud" and that would be great... back to this film.

It's storytelling has fun twists, other characters did not hold well. Thank goodness for Higgins, who holds everything together, this joint direction proves to be stronger that the earlier 2017 British "supernatural-com" film, "Ghost Stories" (which I had enjoyed as well).

It's a definite watch for some craving the supernatural, breaking the old models of the"Ghostbusters" franchise.

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