The Family (Luc Besson) ** - The terrific, fun performances of the main four cast members playing the title characters (Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfieffer, Dianna Agron, John D'Leo) makes this film not a complete waste of time and somewhat watchable. The film is all over the place. Mixing genre elements is tricky (brutal mob action and broad comedy) and Luc Besson isn't very good at it. It gets better in the third act (which includes a clever meta gag) but it's not enough to elevate the film. That said, the performances of the four actors are fun to watch since they have actual chemistry. If only there was a better movie built around them.
The Descent (Neil Marshall)
***1/2 - I regret not checking this out when it was theatrically released here.
I've since heard a lot of great things about it. I sure am glad I took the time
to finally check it out. A group of young women go spelunking in an unknown
cave. They get lost and they encounter a group of flesh eating humanoids. For me
getting lost and trapped in a dark scary cave is scary enough. Throwing in
flesh-eating cave dwellers just puts it over the top. It's a lean, mean horror
film with some inventive cinematography. Plus I love the fact that it's
Hellraiser (Clive Barker) *** - I'm
surprised by how much I don't know much about this film even though I'm familiar
with the Pinhead character (who surprisingly enough is barely in this film). A
man summons dark demons and escapes them and needs to suck life out of living
blood in order to restore himself. The plot is a tad thin but the film does have
very effective gore and inventive makeup effects which managed to make me squirm
quite a bit (the skinless man is not for the faint of heart). And I've seen a
lot! Not one of my favorites but a solid enough Halloween viewing.
Black Sunday (The Mask of Satan) (Mario Bava) ***1/2 - I've
been catching up on the works of Mario Bava lately and I think this might be my
favorite of his so far. A witch being executed puts a curse on the bloodline of
her executioner. Flashforward 200 years and she's resurrected eager to possess
her good doppelganger. The film is beautifully designed and shot with really,
really spooky, disturbing elements (I mean, that mask is...whoah) that mixes and
matches up the vampires, ghosts and zombie legends. Also features a really
Thor: The Dark World (Alan Taylor) *** -
This is not a bad film. But it's not a particularly GREAT one either. That said,
if you enjoyed the first one, there's no reason for you not to like this one.
Thor is back saving the world (no, the UNIVERSE) again and CGI monsters and FX
assault our senses. The film lacks the sense of humor of the first one but it
does have one great joke that's almost worth the price of admission. There's
nothing here that we haven't seen before but it does have a few nifty moments
that makes this worthwhile viewing. It's inoffensive, enjoyable fluff.
The Leopard Man (Jacques
Tourneur) **** - It's not QUITE as great as Cat
People but it's pretty damn close. A leopard gets loose in a
Mexican-American town and starts killing women but something is unusual about
it. The film is only a little over an hour long but I'm amazed by how dense and
rich the story is. It managed to flesh out a whole lot of characters something
that some films twice its length sometimes fail to do. Like Cat People, director Jacques Tourneur tosses
out gory special effects and just simply relies on sound effects, atmospheric
cinematography and precise editing in order to illicit its scares. A short but
excellent horror picture.