sam21462

IMDb member since October 2014
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Reviews

Grotesque
(1988)

Schlocktacular!!
If you have a taste for the camp side of B horror then this is a must see. It is so completely silly and predictable that it is almost beautiful. The completely over the top acting, especially from the antagonists, is a thing to behold. Linda Blair is lovely, as always, and I see that she also co-produced this gem so good on you for that, Linda! All in all it isn't a terrible waste of 90 minutes, if you like this sort of thing. Also, make sure you stay to the end! (nudge nudge, wnk wink)

Williams
(2017)

Simply an amazing film
It is rare that a film leaves me feeling as this one did. It was moving, touching, honest and a bit haunting. More than anything, however, I want to stress the honor that I felt in being allowed to share in such an unbelievably intimate portrait of a family that has climbed a mountain and found another behind it.

It is a story off a man's consuming passion for a sport that would eventually lead him to the absolute pinnacle at the same moment that his life was tragically turned inside out by an accident caused by the very thing he loved, speed. More than that, however, it is a story of the grace of two women, his wife, Virginia and his daughter, Claire. While there are countless interviews with some of the greatest names in Formula 1, it is Virginia and Claire that truly steal the show and I was simply left in a bit of awe of them both.

The Creature Below
(2016)

If loving you is wrong, I don't want to be right.
First, the bad, and it is pretty bad. The CGI and green-screen work is simply atrocious. A lot of it does seriously remind one of a decade old video game, and not a good video game. The first ten minutes of the movie is dominated by it but if you hang in there, what you will find is something very surprising.

Now the good, and there is a substantial amount of good to be found here.

I'll start with a nod to the score which kept reminding me of something John Carpenter would have done and, to me, that is a very good thing. As the movie moves from its start as an action adventure/monster flick to a somber melodrama following our leads decent into madness, the score continues to keep the energy up through what I would term as very patient pacing.

As a bit of balance to the poor CGI much of the practical effects were good. With some unabashed blood and various levels of body horror as well as a satisfactory rendering, it has plenty of payoff if blood and guts are your sort of thing. The monster was left largely unseen, another nod to Lovecraft as were it actually shown correctly, we the viewers would be driven mad by the sight of it. Nudge nudge wink wink.

I found the acting and its direction to be solid, and at times quite good. While the somewhat dingy sister and the milquetoast boyfriend were a bit on the cliché eventual monster food variety the roles were played well and I found them to be believable enough.

The story, ahhhh the story. For me this is where the movie is really a bit special. It has proved to be very very difficult to correctly put together a movie that captures the essence of the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. This one, I think, rather nailed it. It is not a tale of us verses it where, in the end, the monster is slain and the heroine gets away. It is a tale of a person who, unwittingly, pokes at something vast and terrible and pays the price with first their sanity and then their life. It is the story of a decent into madness brought about by contact with something that is beyond reason. When watching it one knows that this is not going to end well for anyone pretty early on and this is all part of the way Lovecraft wove his tales. Again, to reuse a phrase from earlier, all of this is told, as Lovecraft told his tales, with a horrific patience that draws one in to the mounting madness.

I think for all fans of Lovecraft there was a complete geek out when the lead finally sinks deep into madness and starts describing the experience using entire passages of Lovecraft's work to do so. Placing Lovecraft's prose directly on to film is not an easy thing to pull off but here it was done quite well.

All in all what we end up with is a movie that works very well if one is a fan of Lovecraft as the "mythos" part of the movie is, in my opinion, some of the best ever done which makes it much easier to forgive the terrible special effects. For those that are not already a fan of Lovecraft, however, there may be more of a disconnect as it is a patiently paced horror/drama book ended by some bad special effects.

I would love to see those who were involved creatively on this project to be given the chance to bring what they seem to be able to do in a larger way. I would actually love to see this movie having been made with a substantial budget. Actually "getting" Lovecraft in a movie is a terrific thing, and not an easy thing to do. I would love to see it done in a more spectacular way.

Hidden Figures
(2016)

I first gave it a 9 then almost gave it a 4 but have settled on 7
First I would like to say that I thought this was a tremendous movie. It is well written, acted, directed, and the story is amazingly compelling. Then I read a bit about the true story of these amazing women. There were such great liberties taken with their stories that I was a bit appalled. While it did a great job making us feel just how amazing these women were it failed to show the role NASA played correctly. I will simply paste the wiki of the reality of the mindset of NASA as well as the real story, in a super condensed way. Science is anti-stupidity and racism is stupid. I wish that NASA and science had been presented in a bit better light. Paste starts here:

The film, set at NASA in 1961, depicts segregated facilities such as the West Area Computing unit, an all-black group of female mathematicians, who were originally required to use separate dining and bathroom facilities. However, in reality, Dorothy Vaughan was promoted to supervisor of West Computing in 1949, becoming the first black supervisor at the NACA and one of the few female supervisors. In 1958, when the NACA made the transition to NASA, segregated facilities, including the West Computing office, were abolished. Dorothy Vaughan and many of the former West Computers transferred to the new Analysis and Computation Division (ACD), a racially and gender-integrated group.

Mary Jackson completed her engineering courses and earned a promotion to engineer in 1958, becoming NASA's first black female engineer. Katherine Johnson was assigned to the Flight Research Division in 1953, a move that soon became permanent. When the Space Task Group was formed in 1958, engineers from the Flight Research Division formed the core of the Group and Katherine moved along with them. She coauthored a research report in 1960, the first time a woman in the Flight Research Division had received credit as an author of a research report.

The Space Task Group was led by Robert Gilruth, not Al Harrison, who was created to simplify a more complex management structure. Vivian Mitchell and Paul Stafford are composites of several team members reflecting common social views and attitudes of the time. Karl Zielinski is based on Mary Jackson's mentor Kazimierz "Kaz" Czarnecki. John Glenn, who was much older than depicted at the time of launch, did ask specifically for Johnson to verify the IBM calculations, although she had several days before the launch date to complete the process.

The Amityville Terror
(2016)

A well done exercise in cliché' horror
Amityville Terror seems hell bent from the start to check of every box on the cliché' horror movie list. That being said, it did manage to check them off in good fashion. For the most part well acted, but again, they were well acted cliché' characters. The story, while checking its boxes, does a good job of ramping up the tension as the story progresses. As the answers and the truth of what is happening unfolds it does manage to depart from its predictable ways, a bit, and there is a rather nice payoff in the end. I find it interesting, personally, that I did enjoy Amityville Terror quite a bit more than the general genre' shlock one typically finds in today's horror fare. It reminds us that cliché became cliché for a reason and, walked correctly, a pre trodden road can still deliver one to a desired destination. Really a 6.5 from me but a gave it a seven because I am a round up kind of guy.

Southbound
(2015)

Has the heart of classic horror comics.
This was one of the most surprising finds in recent years. It absolutely has no right, whatsoever, to be as entertaining as it is. If you are a horror fan you are in for a treat as it solidly checks off every box one can imagine. Its varied yet interlocking tales serve up something for almost every taste. From ghost story to evil old god worship to body horror to home invasion thriller it merrily jumps about in a way that could have proved confusing and offsetting but, instead, seems to act more as a museum tour on all the things that make us check the locks and fear the shadows.

While there will, no doubt, be some debate as to what the pocket universe we are presented with represents, there is no doubt, in my mind, that it represents a person or persons who made a movie from an old school heart with a modern day sensibility. As stated in the summary it very much reminds me of the best of the classic horror comics such as the EC Comics titles which began their lives in the very early 1950's.

That being said do not mistake this for an old fashioned movie. It is very much genre savvy for today's eyes, ears and mind. In almost total, it is well acted, directed, written, scored and there is a fair share of completely creepy cinematography. It will leave one with both haunting imagery as well as interesting trains of thought to follow, if you dare.

Huge hats off to those who gifted us with this. This is how good horror can be and I truly hope it finds its way to a far higher place in this world than the vast majority of horror that tends to cross my eyes these days.

We Are Still Here
(2015)

Nicely done ghost mystery with a Lovecraftian undertone.
I freely admit to being a sucker for a good ghost story but feel no issue with prejudices when I say the movie delivers.

While there were a few problematic aspects, such as the night when the proclamation was made that there was a darkness all around inside the house which cut to a scene of everyone being sound asleep. I suppose it was the consistent use of scotch that helped with this!

That aside there is plenty of atmospheric creepiness with an easy mystery of ghosts that overlie some sort of ill defined ancient evil that had been uncovered. Nice layered evil that had no problem showing us the first layer of quite well done (yes there is a pun there) ghosts. It was, however, the deeper layer of undefined evil that I found, in the end, to be the most fun.

It was this later part that I view as quite Lovecraftian. The unseen unnamed "darkness" that is the real driving force of a quite haunted house. It is hinted at but never shown and in the end remains apart from the rest of the story that is told. Hats off for this added layer. The easily solved mystery with the impossible mystery added in was delightfully refreshing.

I would also add that a careful eye will catch a reference to the "Miskatonic River" in one of the newspapers shown during the initial end credits.

Sweet!

Robot Overlords
(2014)

A fun and enjoyable Brit science fiction movie
While there was little in the way of original about the movie it was put together in an entertaining way that kept my attention throughout. Ben Kingsley did a nice job of soft playing his role as it was a character that could have went over the top creepy cliché' in a heartbeat. It was great to see Gillian Anderson and she was convening in the role of the Penelopian wife and mother. She is a timeless beauty and a personal swoon of mine. In all honesty the movie was a six but anything with the wonderful Ms Anderson in it gets an automatic +1 from me. The remainder of the cast did their jobs well and a careful eye will pick out a number of familiar faces scattered amongst very varied scenes. The special effects work was also nicely done. Again, very solid movie who's only flaw is a lack of originality but that may be by intent as the entire film seems to almost be a homage to British filmed science fiction. Why it would not have surprised me at all to have scene the good Doctor Quatermass show up at some point to explain what was happening.

Altar
(2014)

Rather a pleasure to see
**Spoilers**

I must begin by freely admitting that I am a sucker for a good ghost story. While I agree with many of the other reviewers on the point of it having borrowed from other films of the genre I do not tend to find that nearly as problematic as others. It is nice to see a modern film that takes a step back to a more Gothic styled ghost story.

Creepy noises and strange sounds abound. Ghosts make their appearance early and often and in various forms. In an interesting way the form of the spirit seemed to be a function of the spirits intent, a refreshing take amongst the tried and true ghost forms that are used.

I was reminded in a most wonderful way of the 1944 film "The Uninvited". Perhaps it is the mixture of ghosts and artists but I would have been little surprised to have heard "Stella by Starlight" in the background at some point.

While the movie is good it is a good example of a great genre style that is too seldom done. To me that elevates it above many of the problems others seem to have.

Daylight
(2013)

Above average story
I admit, with some hesitation, to having become a bit of a fan of the low budget found footage/hand held horror genre. I tend to be quite forgiving as I understand that these are mostly done by those who are still learning their craft combined with a few who have a true passion for the project.

While the acting was somewhat hit or miss I did admire the ambition of the story. There was a level of complexity and interwoven character histories that is unusual for this type of film. It stylistically made its way from a somewhat predictable beginning to an almost Clive Barker like place then through a very dark surreal phase and finally settled in to what I can only call a Gothic (did I mention I found it ambitious?).

This would not be for anyone who simply wants to have a good scare or a fan of slasher flicks. I can not even truly say it is for exorcism junkies as it was not what one would typically thinks of as that type of film. It was an almost experimental feeling magic carpet ride. For me, at least, it was an interesting ride.

Hollows Grove
(2014)

One of the best of the genre
Other reviewers have already summed up much of what can be said. It is a quite good "found footage" style horror movie. The one aspect of note that has yet to be mentioned is that there are some incredibly long, unbroken, shots. These are especially effective as the movie picks up pace. It tends to give the last 45 minutes a real haunted house at the fair feel as we follow our unfortunate cast from location to location within the building. The effects were pulled off well during these unbroken shots which very much helped with feeling that you were along for the ride. While the getting to know the characters portion at the beginning may have benefited by the cutting of a few of the sophomoric jokes the payoff is worth it as it grows from silly to creepy and then on to frantic and finally horrific.

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