It (2017)

I remember driving my parents crazy when the novel It was released back in 1986.  I was 14, already a fan of Stephen King, and his new book present a challenge at 1138 pages.  It was a challenge I and others took up, namely seeing how long it would take to read it.  I managed two and a half weeks, if I recall, often staying up until one in the morning.  My mom and dad had had enough by the time I finished it.

I was the right age to connect with most of the characters and getting to be mature enough to understand some of the underlying themes.  Yes, even back in the 1980s a few of the scenes people are discussing now (which are not in the new movie) made me a bit disturbed, but I'll defend them right along Mr. King himself.  I just understood if a movie version ever got made (which I fully expected, since almost anything Stephen King wrote turned up on the big screen at some point) I knew those parts would be glossed over, despite them actually having importance to the story.


Fight Club (1999)

Very few films meant to appeal to Generation X actually registered.  Many, like Reality Bites, tended to pander to the demographic.  It touched on things we liked, and archetypes of the generation, without really saying anything.  To find a film that even comes close to evoking the confusion and frustration of being "society's middle children" and the dawning realization that everything we had been taught, even when it came to revolutionary thought, was was false, we have to look at Fight Club.

When Fight Club came out in 1999, it was David Fincher's fourth film.  Previously a music video director, he had helmed the disaster that was Alien 3, but followed it up with the disturbing suspense film Se7en and the sort of bait-and-switch action film The Game.  It should come as no surprise that Fight Club has some elements of the latter two, but is largely faithful to its source novel written by Chuck Palahniuk.

Our Narrator (Edward Norton) works as a recall specialist f…

The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936)

There is something about watching British and other European films (even German ones until Hitler came into power) in the period between the two world wars that is both interesting and unsettling.  It is obvious that a society, based so much on the prospects of empire building and the glory of battle, was shaken to its core by the wholesale slaughter that was the Great War.  Prior to 1914, despite the usual conflicts going on, there is still a sense of optimism, even from writers like H. G. Wells, is the human spirit.  Afterward, even in what is a light-hearted comedic fantasy, the loss of innocence that comes with losing nearly a generation of young men is apparent.

Of course The Man Who Could Work Miracles has many laugh-out-loud moments, and features that dry British sense of humor in a way that the Ealing comedies later would.  There is just that feeling throughout that, despite the brief period of peace, things are going to be much, much worse.  I would say I was reading too muc…

Creepshow (1982)

The late George Romero is known largely for his contribution to the modern concept of zombies being shambling, flesh-eating mirrors of ourselves. Despite their popularity at this point, all of the Dead movies were low-budget features that did modestly well at the box office due to Romero's (and the series's) core fans.  Romero himself made quite a number of different films in his career, but only one became a truly massive hit: Creepshow.

Part of the reason for this is that he teamed up with Stephen King, who was just as popular in the early 1980s as he is now.  Perhaps even more so, since a number of his books had been adapted at this point, to mixed success.  What Creepshow did was allow King to team up with one of his idols and write the script as well.  The film ended up being both a tribute to the old-fashioned horror anthology as well as EC Comics, using several of their artists for the poster art, comic panels and animation in the film. The result was not only a film t…

The Satan Bug (1965)

With all the recent talk of nuclear destruction, it's easy to forget the many ways we can destroy the human race without the benefit of someone pushing a big red button.  In fact, the fact that it is humans with families manning those buttons that have many times saved us from accidental destruction.

But what if a determined maniac (or group of maniacs) got their hands on something much more subtle than a nuclear weapon?  Truth is, there are a lot of diseases that we pat ourselves on the back for eradicating sitting on ice in various places around the world and it is the height of naivety to believe it hasn't crossed someone's mind on how to turn it into a weapon.

And what if someone with the resources to do so got their hands on that weapon?  That is the scenario we are confronted with in The Satan Bug.

At a remote California research facility called Station Three, Dr. Baxter (Henry Beckman) has created a new weaponized strain they nickname the Satan Bug.  An airborne vi…

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

"The third one is always the worst."  Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) makes this comment after seeing Return of the Jedi and the conversation turns to which Star Wars movie (as of 1983) was the best.  It's also a not-so-subtle swipe at X-Men: Last Stand, the disappointing third chapter that wrapped up the original set of X-Men movies.  I wonder if Bryan Singer knew what he was doling out with X-Men: Apocalypse, or if that line is just a case of unintentional irony.

Not that this movie is as bad as Last Stand.  On the contrary, it is still entertaining, but it caps off a series of films that redeemed the entire franchise.  The DC comic movies have largely been garbage, the main Marvel Universe is stuck in a rut even if some of the films do have quality elements, but X-Men, until this movie, was able to do much more with its material.

En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac) is worshiped as a god in Egypt, along with his four compatriots.  With the aid of a pyramid using some sort of sun po…

Nightcrawler (2014)

More and more it seems that movies with lower budgets are turning toward horror.  I know there is still a large soft-core porn market as well, but that has existed forever, and probably will as long as Cinemax and direct-to-video (or, in the modern sense, direct-to-streaming) is there to carry it.  Horror is typically where it is at in any medium if you want to do something relatively on the cheap and get some attention.

This is a rather recent phenomena, as exploitation films tended to be largely action-based in the past.  I can understand why they are not these days.  Budgets are typically too high, and many of the typical topics are now multi-season series on FX or Netflix.  No matter how much inspiration you take from The Wild Angels, Hell's Angels or even Born Losers, your biker film is still going to be compared to Sons of Anarchy.

It is with great surprise (and happiness) that there is still room for something like Nightcrawler.  

Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a reclu…