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Open Grave (Blu-ray)
It sounds as if his bones are shattering as consciousness groggily regains its hold. He doesn't know where he is. He doesn't know how he got there. Hell, he doesn't know who he is, even. After fumbling with a lighter in his pocket, he too quickly comes to the horrifying realization that he's trapped in a sprawling open grave, standing atop who knows how many hundreds of corpses.
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There's so much more that can be said about the premise propelling Open Grave, but it's better left for others to discover. Viewers are thrust into much the same position as this stranger (Sharlto Copley). We have no idea who he is. We know as little about the horrors unfolding around him as he does. Suffice it to say, though, that this nameless figure isn't the only survivor of whatever it is that's claimed so many lives, he's not welcomed with open arms, and whatever amassed such a nightmarish body count is still out there somewhere.

One way to describe Open Grave is as some sort of middle ground between Memento and Cube. Like the latter, this is a somewhat of an ensemble piece with a slew of strangers trapped by forces unknown in a puzzle they don't understand. They each wield hidden talents and troubled pasts that soon come rushing to the surface. It's unclear if survival depends on cooperation or by winnowing out the more dangerous elements. Much the same as Memento, the film is driven by memory loss, a murder mystery, a dark history that gradually starts to take shape, and the gulf separating what we believe and what we know. The parallels between Open Grave and these other films don't necessarily end there, but to say more would be telling.

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A critical difference is that those are films I've found myself engrossed in time and again, holding up...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Open Grave]


Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXX
You knew it was just a matter of time: MST3K XXX!



Oh, but I kid.

Shout Factory figured this whole thing out a long time ago, and for the triumphant thirtieth volume of Mystery Science Theater 3000, there's not some super-huge, colossal celebration to ring in the milestone. They just keep doin' what they've been doing so well for years and years now. You know the drill! Four discs. Four episodes.


The Black Scorpion
This collection spans pretty much every era of MST3K, kicking off with its first season's swan song. Wave g'bye to Josh Weinstein, everybody! This marking the final appearances of Dr. Erhardt and Tom Servo's original voice is really the most noteworthy thing about The Black Scorpion. Well, the second most noteworthy, anyway. It's kinda tough to top the onslaught of titanic, prehistoric scorpions unleashed by an erupting volcano south of the border. That's pretty much the beginning and the end of the plot too. Mexico. Earthquake. Volcano. Army of giant scorpions. A couple of plucky scientists, your mandatory love interest, and the not-terribly-effective might of the Mexican military that are all that stand between these scorpions and mankind being rocked like a hurricane.



Okay, those close-ups of the scorpions are awfully goofy looking, but the bulk of the creature effects are genuinely impressive. King Kong's Willis O'Brien and his protege Pete Peterson spearheaded the stop-motion animation, and even with the microscopic budget and some effect shots near the end that aren't even finished, the scorpions and other assorted creepy crawlies really do look phenomenal. Too bad about pretty much everything else. The Black Scorpion is a paint-by-numbers '50s-giant-bug drive-in flick whose worst crime is being really, really boring. MST3K was still finding its rhythm and...[read the entire DVD review of Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXX]


Stage Fright (2014) (Blu-ray)
Okay, Jason Voorhees took Manhattan. So what? He stomped around the Big Apple for all of, what, twenty minutes? Even then, pretty much all he did was wreak havoc in sewers and dingy back alleys. Everything he'd ever dreamt of was at long last within arm's reach, but Jason just didn't have it in him to march into that audition room, lift up his mask, and sing his blackened, little heart out. He may have taken some of Manhattan (and Hell, and outer space, and...), but Broadway...? Even an undead, double-digit IQ psychopath like Jason knows when he's outmatched.

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So, yeah, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Cunningham and Carpenter: Stage Fright is a head-on collision of vintage slashers and Broadway musicals. Once upon a time, Kylie Swanson (Minnie Driver) was one of the most brightly shining stars on the Great White Way, and the sellout audience for the premiere of "The Haunting of the Opera" looked dead-certain to propel her to super-stardom. Sure enough, opening night was all everyone could talk about for a while. Not because of the show itself, so much, but because some lunatic in the show's Opera Ghost mask hacked and slashed Swanson to ribbons before friggin' goring her with a butcher knife. The newly-orphaned, pint-sized twins she left behind were taken in by her producer (Meat Loaf), who raised 'em as his own.

Flash forward a full decade. Roger McCall hasn't had a show on Broadway in ages, instead running a musical theater summer camp for melisma-tastic, bright-eyed teenagers. Not quite so bright-eyed are his adopted kids Camilla (Allie MacDonald) and Buddy (Douglas Smith), who generally shy away from the theater geek crowd while toiling away in the camp's kitchen. Turns out that the camp is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and McCall's Hail Mary...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Stage Fright (2014)]


More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 7/24: Ace in the Hole (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/23: Ginger Snaps (Collector's Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/21: Open Grave (Blu-ray)
  • 7/11: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Blu-ray)
  • 7/9: Dallas Buyers Club (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD with UltraViolet) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/7: Stage Fright (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 7/7: Stage Fright (Blu-ray)
  • 6/30: The Final Terror (Bluray/DVD Combo) (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 6/30: The Final Terror (Bluray/DVD Combo) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/29: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/25: Robocop (2014) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/23: Insidious: Chapter 2 (Two Disc Combo: Blu-ray / DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/23: You're Next (Blu-ray)
  • 6/21: Joy Ride 3: Roadkill (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 6/21: Joy Ride 3: Roadkill (Blu-ray)
More of my boring video log...
 
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 7/18: Ginger Snaps (Collector's Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/11: Open Grave (Blu-ray)
  • 7/9: Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXIX (DVD)
  • 7/9: Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXX (DVD)
  • 6/30: Stage Fright (Blu-ray)
  • 6/30: Picnic at Hanging Rock (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/30: The Hidden Fortress (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/30: Persona (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/30: Ace in the Hole (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/30: The Life¬†Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/30: A Hard Day's Night (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/30: Red River (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/30: Scanners (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/20: The Final Terror (Bluray/DVD Combo) (Blu-ray)
  • 6/14: Wolf Creek 2 (BD / DVD Combo) (Blu-ray)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...


 
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