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Showing posts from April, 2018

Final Destination (2000)

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The early 2000s, thanks to Scream, saw a brief resurgence in slasher films.  Like their heyday in the 1980s, they largely followed the same formula over and over again, and most (including the reboots of the '80s films) were horrible.  I'm not talking about laughably horrible, but just plain unwatchable.  They were cheap, there was nostalgia, and that was about it. 

The worst thing, and this was also because of Scream (which is actually a good slasher flick, in case you are wondering why I may be ragging on it), was many of the films became self-aware.  While there may be a fair amount of gore, the emphasis was on the genre rather than trying to actually make a good film within said genre. 

Perhaps that is why, in the end, the Final Destination movies still stand out after many of the others have been forgotten, and after the genre has been put to bed once again over a decade previous.

Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) is in his senior year at Mt. Abraham High School in New York.  H…

Chained for Life (1952)

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Many of the current crop of television shows owe quite a bit to exploitation films of the past, and it constantly amuses me to see genres that have generally been treated with eye-rolling scorn catch the imagination of mainstream audiences.  Sons of Anarchy, despite its pretensions toward being an update of Hamlet, was at its heart a good, old fashioned biker gang movie stretched out to multiple seasons. Orange Is the New Black?  Women in prison films - and this one enjoyed largely by women, who in the past would have walked in on something like Chained Heat screaming about how they can't believe men could watch such trash.

American Horror Story is a mishmash of many obvious influences, through (at first) seemingly disconnected seasons which eventually weaved into their own universe, with some of it being better than others - and much, especially in later seasons, feeling frustratingly random.  One of the random bits in the fourth season, Freak Show, was lifted almost wholesale fr…

Hit Man (1972)

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The Blaxploitation genre these days often gets a bit more credit than it deserves, largely due to directors like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez pushing the movies as an influence.  Truth is, there are a number of hidden gems that were made by this time, by both white and African-American directors, and it was a bit of a shame that the backlash against the worst aspects of these movies (mainly by white critics) led to the premature demise of this type of film making and, as a result, the careers of many involved.

The reason I think it gets too much credit for influencing big budget retro-exploitation is because, like most things removed from its proper time and place, only the best examples are remembered.  Classical music is a great example.  We are a century or more removed from the most influential composers.  On the other hand, we are also a century or more removed from thousands of mediocre composers whose material was played for light entertainment at dinner tables throu…

Shoot First, Die Later (1974)

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Of all my hobbies I can definitely say that my top two are record collecting and delving deeper and deeper into what cinema has to offer.  While I do not collect DVDs like I do records, there is a connection.  There is just over a century of material and, while that may seem like a blink of an eye in the history of humanity or, indeed, the world, it is still enough time to have created enough material to keep an interested person finding something new for a lifetime.

Which brings me to my first poliziotteschi, Il poliziotto e' marcio, retitled Shoot First, Die Later for international distribution.  The original Italian translates roughly to The Rotten Cop, which is much more appropriate than the attempts of U.S. posters to make it look like some sort of James Bond knockoff. 

Domenico Malacarne (Luc Merenda) is Milan's top cop, gaining some unwanted media attention after he and his partner Garrito (Rosario Barelli) manage to chase down and arrest the perpetrators of a deadly j…

Marooned (1969)

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There is a reason, despite the criticisms of Neil Degrasse Tyson, why science fantasy will always trump hard science fiction when it comes to the media of film.  It's kind of accepted that if you are taking the time to read a book that you have the patience, and possibly the intellect, to understand the concepts presented and are willing to marvel at many of the things the author gets right, even if its decades down the line.  With movies, however, it is a lot more interesting to watch a bunch of ships dogfighting, with full sound in space and maneuvers that ignore the fact that the lack of atmosphere in space make them unnecessary.

After 2001: A Space Odyssey, it's not surprising that film execs would think that maybe another slow-moving, largely fact-based science fiction film with convincing effects would hit it big.  So, in that vein, we have John Sturges taking over a movie that was originally meant to be directed by Frank Capra and adapting it from a book by Martin Caid…