Recent Reviews

Dead Shadows (Blu-ray)
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What Attack the Block did for alien invasions in the sticky underbelly of London, Dead Shadows does with a little more Parisian flair. Attack the Arrondissement?

As a comet screams above them in the night sky, half of Paris is partying like it's the end of the world. As it turns out...? Yeah. At first, the infected just seem a little off: mildly creepy, kind of repetitve, unsure what's really going on around them. From there, things start to get violent. Doesn't matter if they're fucking or fighting; it's feral and fatal. After that, the mutations start to kick in... As if that weren't bad enough, it's the dead of night, and geeky IT shut-in type Chris (Fabian Wolfrom) has a thing about the dark. Maybe Paris used to be called the City of Light, but now, not so much. Chris can probably count on one hand the number of people left in the sprawling city, and as luck would have it, two of 'em are pals of his: his foxy and recently single neighbor Claire (Blandine Marmigère) and a one-man-army from the Great White North (John Fallon). If they stay holed up, the aliens are gonna swarm in for sure. If they try to claw their way through the streets of Paris, then...well, it's suicide, but at least there's a chance. Between them and any chance of escape are two and a half million mutant zombies. Giddyup.

Nevermind all those middling reviews of Dead Shadows that have been floating around. I had a blast. Especially from a storytelling perspective, first-time director David Cholewa and screenwriter Vincent Julé have a remarkable sense of economy. This isn't a movie littered with flashbacks or scenes with people standing around an' talking about their feelings. Like a shark on the prowl, it's relentlessly moving. Key characterization and what little exposition there is...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Dead Shadows]

Performance (Blu-ray)
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"The only performance that makes it -- that makes it all the way -- is the one that achieves madness."

"Madness" is certainly one way to describe Performance, a film that Warner Bros. once found to be all but unreleasable, finally allowing a re-edited version to escape into theaters some two years after its cameras first rolled. Its wildly experimental leanings are apparent from nearly the first frame. In much the same way as Easy Rider roared out of the gate with "Born to be Wild", Performance opens to Randy Newman's hard rocking take on "Gone Dead Train". Within a matter of seconds, though, the overdriven guitars are replaced by the sparse sweep of a synthesizer, and that too quickly drops out. The opening sequence frantically crashes back and forth between a Rolls-Royce puttering down a pastoral highway and frenzied sex, backed by a symphony of complete silence.

This is a film that has Mick Jagger plastered across the poster art even though he's essentially a non-entity until nearly 45 minutes in. Drug use is rampant but presented in a very matter-of-fact, almost disinterested sort of way. Though Performance undeniably has its drug-addled, surreal stretches, it's a far cry from the heavy-handed psychedelia, fish-eye lenses, and clumsy, overbearing edginess of the usual grade of counter-culture films. The jittery editing sets out to be somewhat disorienting, at times smashing together two stories simultaneously and creating a greater whole through that juxtaposition. Performance revels in its depictions of sex and violence, graphic enough to still shock approaching a half-century after the fact. Writer and co-director Donald Cammell litters the film with allusions to his favorite works of art across most every form of media, undaunted that the overwhelming majority...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Performance]

Knights of Badassdom (Blu-ray)
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A bunch of LARPers square off against a succubus accidentally summoned from the bowls of Hell.
Joe Lynch -- the man behind what might be the greatest splatter-comedy of the past ten years -- is over there in the director's chair.
I mean, look at the cover: Summer Glau (Firefly), Danny Pudi (Community), Jimmi Simpson (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Ryan Kwanten (True Blood), and Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage rocking chainmail armor and a big-ass sword. Steve Zahn too, although I don't know what geek-cred thing to put in a parenthetical next to his name.

On paper, anyway, I don't even need a review of Knights of Badassdom. Any one of the things in that laundry list would convince me to fork over my credit card, and you can count how many boxes have been checked off up there. That's why it's such a drag that Knights of Badassdom just...doesn't work. This is one of those movies that wasn't released so much as it eventually escaped. Filming wrapped all the way back in 2010. The first teaser trailer got a hell of a reaction online and in its big Hall H debut at Comic Con the following summer. After that, though...? Radio silence. Several years straight of a whole lotta nothing, up until word leaked out that the movie had been taken away from Joe Lynch, with one of the producers seizing hold and cobbling together his own edit instead. You'll still see Lynch's name in the credits and everything, but by all accounts, this stopped being anything resembling his movie quite a long time ago.

Before I fall too far down that rabbit hole, though, maybe I should say more than sixteen words about the plot here. Joe (Ryan Kwanten) has turned his back on black metal sludge metal doom metal, grabbing that B.C. Rich Warlock and plinking away through tears at his very...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Knights of Badassdom]

More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 4/15: King Kong Escapes (Blu-ray)
  • 4/14: Performance (1970) (Blu-ray)
  • 4/10: King Kong vs. Godzilla (Blu-ray)
  • 4/7: The Octagon (widescreen) (Blu-ray)
  • 4/6: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Theatrical)
  • 4/6: Dead Shadows (Blu-ray)
  • 4/6: Short Term 12 BD+DVD Combo (Blu-ray)
  • 4/3: Curse of Chucky (Blu-ray)
  • 4/3: Seed of Chucky (Blu-ray)
  • 4/1: Knights of Badassdom (Blu-ray)
  • 3/31: Bride of Chucky (Blu-ray)
  • 3/30: The Kings of Summer (Blu-ray)
  • 3/29: Spectacular Now (Blu-ray)
  • 3/24: Child's Play 3 (Blu-ray)
  • 3/23: Patrick (Blu-ray + DVD Combo) (Blu-ray; Commentary)
More of my boring video log...
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 4/18: Gamera: Ultimate Collection V1 (4 Pack) (Blu-ray)
  • 4/18: Gamera: Ultimate Collection V2 (4 Pack) (Blu-ray)
  • 4/18: Sorcerer (Blu-ray)
  • 4/13: Avengers - Earth's Mightiest Heroes - Season 2 (Blu-ray)
  • 4/13: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (DVD / Blu-ray Combo + UltraViolet Digital Copy) (Blu-ray)
  • 4/13: Blade II (Blu-ray)
  • 4/13: Inside Llewyn Davis (Blu-ray)
  • 4/13: The Goonies (Blu-ray)
  • 4/13: Gravity (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Combo Pack) (Blu-ray)
  • 4/9: Performance (1970) (Blu-ray)
  • 4/9: El Dorado (Blu-ray)
  • 4/6: King Kong vs. Godzilla (Blu-ray)
  • 4/6: King Kong Escapes (Blu-ray)
  • 4/5: American Hustle (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD with UltraViolet) (Blu-ray)
  • 4/5: The Wolf of Wall Street (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD) (Blu-ray)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...

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