September 30, 2021

Siege (1983): Like a Punch to the Gut

: Siege (aka: Self Defense)
Director: Paul Donavan, Maura O'Connell
Writer: Paul Donovan
Stars: Tom Nardini, Brenda Bazinet, Daryl Haney
Year: 1983
Length: 84 minutes (Theatrical) / 93 minutes (Extended)
Rating: R
Format Viewed: Severin Films Blu-ray

This is for the extended cut.
I had never heard of this movie prior to Severin announcing they were going to be releasing it on Blu-ray. After one look at the trailer I knew I had to have it. So, after getting it and letting it sit on the shelf for a couple of weeks, my fiancee and I decided to try it out. To say we were unprepared for the experience would be an understatement. Siege lands with the force of a heavy punch to the solar plexus. Even after that initial hit the impact lingers on for some time after the event. Yes, Siege leaves an impact and feels just as, if not more potent than the year it was released.

The story is a simple one and is set with the backdrop of an actual historical event. In 1981 the police in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, went on strike for 42 days. This left the city to be controlled by crime, not unlike the Purge, or as I would imagine. While the police strike is real, I have not done the research to see if any other story elements are based on fact. Whether they are or not, the movie feels real. The story follows a group of far right sociopaths as they raid a gay bar and proceed to murder nearly everyone there. One of the bar patrons manages to escape. He finds refuge in a sparsely populated apartment complex where a group of friends take him in and engage in an all night siege with the sociopaths outside. 

That is all there is to it. Where the movie excels, is in the atmosphere. Siege does an amazing job of building dread and maintaining the suspense. While the motives of those on the outside disgust you, there is also great work done at making those inside the apartment likable. I found myself become truly invested in their lives and their efforts to survive and fight back. 

Siege has a gritty realism to it that is only enhanced by the low budget nature of the production. Everything is played straight, this is not a cult film full of unintentional (or not) laughs or jokes, there is no humor to dissipate the tension. Everything is done to serve the realism of the story. Believe me when I tell you that it does succeed on that level. Siege drew me in and held me in its cold grasp for the duration. I honestly did not expect it to be as good and effective as it was, I really had no idea what to expect. What I got was striking and left a mark behind. 

Rating: 4/5

September 26, 2021

Island of Death: WTF Did I Just Watch?

: Island of Death (aka Devils in Mykonos, Island of Perversion, A Craving for Lust, Killing Daylight)
Director: Nico Mastorakis
Writer: Nico Mastorakis
Stars: Bob Behling, Jane Lyle
Year: 1976
Length: 106 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Format Viewed: Arrow Video Blu-ray

Seriously, what in the world did I just watch? I have to believe that this is one of the most messed up and depraved films I have seen. I loved every second of it. This is clearly not a film for everybody. I think that most rational people would be best served to avoid this title. With that said, I am surprised that this title is not spoken of more often in the circles I find myself traveling. Maybe it is and I somehow just missed it. 

Island of Death follows a couple on holiday on a small and sparsely populated Greek island. It does not take long after they arrive for their behavior to tip off the viewer that this is not your typical vacationing duo. They start to target, and murder in increasingly bizarre ways, anyone they deem to be amoral and perverted. I guess you could say they are cleaning the streets of perversion to protect the good and upright from being subjected to their seedy proclivities. 

Supposedly made as a reaction to seeing The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Island of Death does not so much as borrow story elements, so much as a gritty, nightmarish atmosphere. It then goes and turns the nobs all to 11. Now, don't get it twisted, TCM still holds a great, realistic impact having gut punch, ans is clearly the better film; however, for sheer disturbing activities, Island of Death holds its own.

This movie has a wonderfully crafted flow as it gets progressively more and more bonkers the deeper into the movie you get. Just when you think it reached its pinnacle of perversion, it pulls something else out of its bag of tricks. I really do not want to provide much in the way of specifics, this is really a better movie, if this sounds at all intriguing, experienced with little foreknowledge. 

Rating: 4/5

September 24, 2021

Hellmaster: Saxon Unleashed!

Title: Hellmaster (aka Them)
Director: Douglas Schulze
Stars: John Saxon, David Emge
Year: 1992
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Format Viewed: Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray

I remember watching this once before, I also remember liking it but I did not remember a whole lot of it. It is for good reason, and I am kind of glad that I didn't. Watching it this time was like watching it again for the first time. Let me tell you, this movie is batsh*t, bonkers and mesmerizing.

Hellmaster makes very little narrative sense. John Saxon plays a professor who was experimenting with a drug that turned people into these crazy creatures. There was a fire and a bunch of students died. Now, twenty years later, Saxon's Professor Jones is back to take over the college campus and is ready to continue his experiments with a handful of of his follower horde in tow. Toss in a bunch of college kids, including a handicapped fellow, and a whip carrying bully, and stir into psychotronic madness.

Plot is completely secondary to style and look. lights are heavily gelled and the look of the film becomes more and more surreal the deeper we get, going into full on Suspiria mode during the final act. It really helps that both John Saxon (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Cannibal Apocalypse, Enter the Dragon) and David Emge (Dawn of the Dead's Flyboy) play it completely straight.

Hellmaster has creatures galore, plenty of bad acting, some really good practical effects, and a surprisingly interesting story if you can dig it out of the "style as substance" film-making. I mean, I am not exactly sure what the story or bad guy's end game is, but it certainly seemed worthwhile.

Rating: 3.5/5

June 14, 2019

Outcast Comments: Aladdin (2019)

So, the other day I took some time to take in Disney’s new live action redux of their classic animated film, Aladdin. It just happened to fit into my schedule, as I had not really planned on seeing it. I thought the trailers looked awful, I was not sold on Will Smith playing the Genie, and I fail to see the point in Disney’s recent fascination with remaking all of their animated properties. So, I was fully expecting to not like it. Well, to my surprise, I actually enjoyed it. It is not perfect, and is little more than trifling entertainment, but I would have no problem recommending it. Now, I am not going to review it, but just wanted to throw out some quick thoughts.

June 13, 2019

Movie Review: Deathdream (aka Dead of Night)

Well before he was making mainstream films like Porky’s and Rhinestone, and way before he directed the Christmas bomb that became a Christmas classic (A Christmas Story), Bob Clark was creating horror movies. It is hard to picture, but it’s true. He made his debut in 1972 with the (in my opinion) overrated Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (I know I have friends who love it, believe me, I’ve tried). He would peak in 1974 with the classic Black Christmas. However, earlier in 1974, he released another horror movie that, despite it’s alluring title, tells a tale that could easily fly under the radar. The movie is called Deathdream (aka Dead of Night, which is the title on the actual transfer presented here). I had seen pieces of it before, but this is the first time I have seen it in its entirety. The best thing to start with is to say: See this movie.

June 12, 2019

Movie Review: Dark Phoenix

The first X-Men movie appeared way back in 2000. While it is far from the first comic book adaptation to hit the big screen, it seems to be the one that would kickstart the superhero saturated market we have today. Now, here we are, 19 years and 10 movies (12 if you count the Deadpool films, which I guess we probably should) in and we have reached the end of an era. Hugh Jackman has donned the prosthetic claws and coiffed his hair to play Wolverine for the last time and Disney has completed its purchase of Fox, thus making it possible to reunite the mutants with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (thus far dominated by Avengers related characters). The big question is, do you go out with a bang and do you fizzle like a dud sparkler? Sadly, in my estimation, it is the later.

June 11, 2019

Movie Review: Brightburn

When I first saw the trailer for Brightburn, I have to admit to being a little confused. On one hand, it certainly looked intriguing, but on the other hand, I could not help but be reminded of the origin of Superman. It is a story everybody knows, I feel that Superman’s origin is like the tale of Frankenstein’s Monster at this point, everyone is born knowing it. There is no need to tell and retell the story time and time again, there is nothing new you can bring to the table. It is possible to tell a story about Superman without starting with his origin. I have felt that there are lots of origin stories that can be skipped. The worthwhile origins are those like in the Unbreakable-verse, which i new and fresh (not commenting on whether you like it or not, just that it is new), or in the case of Brightburn, where an element gets turned on its ear and makes the familiar new again.

June 10, 2019

Movie Review: The Dead Don't Die (2019)

The Dead Don’t Die is a movie that came to my attention quite literally out of nowhere. I seem to recall hearing something about a movie being made locally, to me, and it turns out it was this. I do not know precisely where, but the locations seem vaguely familiar to me. I was also clued in by the majority of the audience at my screening were zombie extras in the film. In any case, the movie itself is a dry-witted, masterpiece. I absolutely loved the simplicity of everything.

April 23, 2019

Revisiting a Murder: The Crow: Wicked Prayer

By the time The Crow: Wicked Prayer arrived in 2005, the franchise was already on life support. The movie had a brief one-week theatrical premiere before being unceremoniously dumped to the video market. To be fair, the movie really isn’t that good, it looks bad even next to the prior outing, the also direct to video The Crow: Salvation. With that said, as I revisit the film now, I still see it as a bad movie, but there are things that I have come to like about it. It is like there are good elements in spite of its efforts to be a bad movie. Overall, the feel is not unlike that of the latter Hellraiser sequels, made as a reason to hang on to the license.

April 19, 2019

Revisiting a Murder: The Crow: City of Angels

If you know me, you know that my favorite movie is The Crow. I am not saying it is the best movie, but it is the movie I can return to time and time again and walk away satisfied. It is a movie that just strikes all the right chords for this fan. It was one of the first movies that I saw more than once in the theater. I can go on and on about The Crow, but this piece isn’t about that movie. It is about the first of the trio of sequels that were produced, and the only one to that made it to theaters. The Crow: City of Angels was released in 1996, a late August release where it won its opening weekend, but faded pretty quickly. It ended its run with a box office gross just shy of $18 million.

April 14, 2019

Movie Review: Hellboy (2019)

So, Hellboy, a movie that caused a stir among the masses when it was announced, or rather, that subset of the masses that care about such things as genre and comic book movies, and even then, a further subset of the masses that cares about remakes and reboots. It is a stir that has lasted right up to and through the movies release this weekend. Fortunately, I am not a part of that subset. I am a part of the movie loving public that likes to see movies prove their worth on their own terms, and not have to fight off non-existent foes before their time. With that said, I quite enjoyed this new interpretation of the source, it felt true in spirit but does not find itself beholden to what came before, meaning it has a distinctly different flavor than Guillermo del Toro’s vision. This is a good one.

April 10, 2019

Movie Review: Pet Sematary (2019)

When it was announced that a remake of Pet Sematary was in the works, it was met with a mixture of interest and derision. For my tastes, I like the 1989 version, but cannot say I have any particular love for it, so I clearly fell on the interested side. On the other side of the coin, I know someone who loves the original, and while interested, was certainly approaching it with a good deal more skepticism than I. Now that it is here, it is open season for everyone to compare the two, as well as its value as another Stephen King adaptation. I cannot comment on the last bit as I have not read the book, which is amazing considering how much I love King and how much of his older output I’ve read.

April 9, 2019

Movie Review: Hotel Mumbai

The first time I heard of Hotel Mumbai was a few weeks ago from a friend who had seen it. He mused about how involving and well saged it was, while simultaneously wondering who would want to recreate such events. I must admit, it is a thought I have often had when it comes to a movie that seeks to depict, often in great detail, such horrible events. It come to mind when I decided to see this film. I sat there and thought, in succession, why would anyone want to recreate these events, then who would want to watch such a thing, and then about how I was there watching such a thing. I have to admit, the movie was quite an experience.

October 16, 2018

Movie Review: Venom (2018)

It has been a long time since I have really followed Venom in the comics. That really goes for pretty much all comic books, these days I get my superheroes on the big screen rather than the printed page. With that said, there is likely a good portion of you out there that have now discounted anything that I have to say about a Venom movie. So be it. Even without an extensive knowledge, I still have some thoughts of this as a movie, with, perhaps, a bit of what I do know tossed in. Now, would it surprise you to know that I actually liked the movie? Granted, it could be because my expectations were on the low side, or it may be that I don’t expect greatness from every movie.