Caltiki: The Immortal Monster - header

“Caltiki: The Immortal Monster” (1959): Boring Blob but With Bits of Bava

There is a certain charm to 1950s low-budget monster flicks, though that charm can only take one so far. Caltiki: The Immortal Monster (1959) is an Italian riff on The Blob (1958). Scientists investigating possible causes for the fall of Mayan civilization discover a hidden cavern filled with treasure — and occupied by an amorphous monster. After one of their number is killed and another member maimed by the creature, they take a sample back […]

“When Susurrus Stirs” (2016): Top-Notch Gore Effects Take Center Stage in Disturbing Body Horror Short

How much viewers might enjoy the short film When Susurrus Stirs depends on their tolerance level for body horror. The film is filled with goopy, gloppy, gore effects but definitely has more going for it than just spectacular practical effects work. In director Anthony Cousins’ short, a nameless man (Nathan Tymoshuk) becomes the host to a parasitic creature with plans to take over much more real estate than just the man’s body. Trying not to […]

“Alien Covenant” (2017): Closer Yet No Cigar

After returning to the Alien franchise with 2012’s Prometheus, director Ridley Scott has even more baggage. Not only the weight of his successful start & James Cameron’s initial sequel, but the massive disappointment of the entries that followed and divisive reception of his own return. With Alien Covenant, the question on everyone’s mind is would he progress the larger thematics of religion and man’s hubris he established in 2012 or would he cave to pressure of fans and make a Xenomorph ladened […]

Dead or Alive: Final

“Dead or Alive: Final” (2002): Lackluster Sequel Proves 3rd Time Is NOT the Charm

Sometimes, it can become painfully obvious when a filmmaker loses interest in a particular series. Dead or Alive: Final (2002), the third film in director Takashi Miike’s action series featuring Shô Aikawa and Riki Takeuchi, appears to suffer from lack of interest. Set 300 years from now in a run-down city in a post-apocalyptic world, the population is kept in check and under control by forced birth control. With the help of an android fighter, […]

“Colossal” (2017): Monster Manipulation Mastery

Colossal really isn’t a film for mainstream audiences. Despite a cast that includes pretty big stars and giant monsters, the premise is rather strange and the tone is far darker than advertising would let on. Director Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes, Open Windows) takes the concepts of a massive kaiju and applies it to these more human characters. Basically, it feels like a complete subversion of the issues with both Godzilla (2014) and Kong: Skull Island in terms of actually focusing […]

Dead or Alive 2: Birds

“Dead or Alive 2: Birds” (2000): A Return to Innocence — With a Touch of Violence

Mention the name of director Takashi Miike and bizarre visions of violence and depravity come to mind for many fans of his films. While Miike’s body of work certainly is filled with more than its share of unusual and disturbing imagery, it also has its softer moments. In Dead or Alive 2: Birds (Dead or Alive 2: Tôbôsha) (2000), Miike shows that he is equally skilled with displaying touching and emotional scenes as he is […]

“King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table” (2017): The Asylum Sink To New Low with This Bizarre Mishmash

The Asylum has become a name in the genre that’s synonymous with low-budget, quickly filmed productions typically designed to ride on the publicity around whatever big movie is rolling into theaters in the near future. Anyone familiar with their film and television work knows that they have the ability to create some great guilty pleasure productions, but they, unfortunately, tend to make marginally bland to painfully bad films far more often than they make great guilty […]

Interview: Steven Shainberg (Rupture)

Writer/Director Steven Shainberg is probably best known for his 2002 release Secretary, in which Maggie Gyllenhaal takes a new job as a secretary, only to see her working relationship with her boss, James Spader, devolve into a sexual/sadomasochistic one. He’s also directed the critically acclaimed Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus in 2006. His latest film, Rupture, opens in select theaters this Friday, April 28th, and it stars the always fascinating Noomi Rapace as […]

“Rupture” (2017): Slow Pacing Dulls A Quality Finish

Picture it: you’re on your way to work, going through your regular morning routine when you get a flat tire. A good Samaritan stops to help you, only to wind up kidnapping you with no explanation as you’re bound and gagged. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, several other people that have been kidnapped start to tell you that the people who’ve abducted you are going to start doing things – experimental things – in […]

Dead or Alive - Jojima

“Dead of Alive” (1999): Depravity, Violence, & Social Commentary

Director Takashi Miike is known for his often bizarre and violent films, but, as with George A. Romero’s zombies, the more exploitive aspects of Miike’s movies are generally in service to a broader social commentary. In Dead or Alive (1999), Miike throws his audience headfirst into the Tokyo underworld, where a gangster is waging a private war against both the Chinese Triads and the Japanese Yakuza. A police lieutenant with problems at home is investigating […]

“Shallow Water” (2017): Exhilarating Performance and Cool Creatures Highlight Aquatic Monster Tale

Writer/director/producer Sandy Collora takes viewers on a 17-minute thrill ride with his creature-feature short Shallow Water. He has crafted a film so suspenseful that every hole in a door, light through a crack in a wall, and footstep in the forest makes you hold your breath in anticipation, and the creature design is quite impressive, as well. The approach is simple but effective, and a whole lot of fun. Sandy Collora is a creature designer […]

“Death Metal” (2016): Carnage and Comedy Riff Together Fiercely

Guitar riffage leads to blood spillage in writer/director Chris McInroy’s horror-comedy short Death Metal, which truly lives up to its title. This film boasts enough blood and gore in its five-minute running time to fill the average feature-length film but it offers more than that, as well. Lars (Kirk Johnson in a ridiculously funny wig) is a budding heavy metal guitarist who should have practiced a lot more than he did before trying to busk […]

Welcome to Willits - alien abduction

“Welcome to Willits” (Nevermore Film Festival 2017): Aliens, Campers, & Pot Farmers Make for a Well-balanced Horror Comedy

Striking the right balance of tone and genres in a horror comedy can be a tricky proposition. Writer Tim Ryan and director Trevor Ryan manage to pull this off with their alien-thriller-comedy splatterfest Welcome to Willits (Nevermore Film Festival 2017). The film, which played at the Nevermore Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina on the weekend of February 24 – 26, 2017, recounts the tale of California marijuana farmer who has been having problems with […]

Donnie Darko

“Donnie Darko” (2001): Enigmatic & Slyly Funny Existential Classic

When it comes down to it, life and death can be quite funny, enigmatic, and hard to classify. The same can be said for writer/director Richard Kelly’s existential comedy, mystery, science fiction thriller Donnie Darko (2001). A teenage boy begins having disturbing visions, including ones of a six-foot skull-faced rabbit that tells him that the world is ending soon. Are these simply hallucinations brought on by improper medication, signs of a mental breakdown, or is […]

“The Fisherman’s Wife” (2016): Creepy Fun Makes This Seaside Shocker a Delight

  All Becky (Cynthia Granville) wants to do is finalize divorce papers with her husband Frank (Stuart Rudin) in director Ben Leonberg’s short film The Fisherman’s Wife (2016), but things definitely won’t go as easily as she had hoped. As a matter of fact, she’ll be fighting for her life rather than alimony by the end of the evening. Ben Leonberg directs with confidence and skill with different tones as The Fisherman’s Wife goes from […]