THE LODGE (2020)

Directed By: Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala Written by: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala & Sergio Casci  Cinematography: Thimios Bakatakis  Editor: Michael Palm

Cast: Riley Keough, Alicia Silverstone, Jaeden Martell, Lia Mchugh, Richard Armitage 

A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.


The film’s Style is what becomes more memorable. As it seems set by the directors. The style and story feel similar to their first feature GOODBYE MOMMY. As this also is a slow burn thriller that seems to have an adult and two children secluded in close quarters with one another and seemingly needing each other to survive.

While one is up for a good slow burn in a thriller especially if it has a worthy pay off. This film comes off as dull. As it has many twists and turns that are shocking but also once we get to the end. You wonder why and the reasoning for the twists and turns make no sense and depends on the audience’s suspension of disbelief or the old adage kids will be kids. 

Though when dealing with a character who survived a horrific incident even before we are introduced to them. First of all, you wonder why the father would bring someone they were dating and knew had mental problems around their children who are already traumatized but then also leave them with her alone.

Sort of like the opening scene where we see the familiar face of Alicia Silverstone dripping ehr kids off to their father who tells her he wants to go through with the divorce and she just immediately locks herself in a room and Killa herself with little to no explanation. We in the audience are just left to assume she has problems with such an extreme act 

This film tries to be THE OTHERS only in reverse it feels. 

The film isn’t bad as Riley Keough again. Gives a shattering good performance. The rest fit eh cast do what they are supposed to do and the direction is on point but the script needs a bit of work. 

As the script seems made to fit the direction more than the story here. As it feels more conceptualized then lived in. This leaves the audience wanting more or at least to show the worm in supporting the film’s plot points. As the film comes off too vague then just ends.

Where as by the end. One can’t help what they enjoy or are entertained but here it feels like this film’s praise is more for style over substance. Even if in the end if for all the ingredients that work. It comes off as a letdown. 

Grade: C

THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS (2014)

strangecolor

Written & Directed By: Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani
Cinematography By: Manuel Dacosse
Editor: Bernard Beets 

Cast: Klaus Tange, Ursula Bedena, Joe Koener

Following the disappearance of his wife, a man finds himself on a dark and twisted trail of discovery through the labyrinthine halls of his apartment building. Led on a wild goose chase by cryptic messages from his mysterious neighbours, he becomes entangled in a hellish nightmare as he unlocks their strange fantasies of sensuality and bloodshed.

Continue reading “THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS (2014)”

THE SQUEEZE (1977)

Directed By: Michael Apted 
Written By: Leon Griffiths 
Based on the book “Whose Little Girl Are You” by: David Craig aka James Tucker 
Cinematography: Dennis Lewiston 
Editor: John Shirley 

Cast: Stacy Keach, David Hemmings, Edward Fox, Stephen Boyd, Carol White, Alan Ford, Freddie Starr 

A dangerous, violent gang kidnaps a woman and her daughter to extort some money from her rich husband. He and her down-on-his-luck ex-cop ex-husband decide to deal with the kidnappers themselves.


While not the most exciting heist film. The film does keep the audience interest. As the opening where we follow a drunken Stacy leach through the UK transit system until he falls down a set of stairs and collapses. He is then taken to a hospital and put through rehab. Then he flirts and slater sleeps with his rehab nurse. As well as has a drink or two.

This is before the plot even begins but alerts us that what we are watching will be more character-based then anything. Getting us used to our hero or really our anti-hero. By the end he is really one of the few honest and moral characters. Once he gets home then the plot moves forward. 

Throughout the film, Keach’s Character stays sober but seems to drink heavily when the pressure is on and when he is needed he seems to be able to dry out after getting wasted and is brand new after a few hours. He doesn’t have leading man looks and is usually the toughest guy in the room but might be the smartest. Even as an alcoholic who never seems to want to quit. He is tied into the case as it involves his ex being kidnapped. Like the film, we get to learn about all the figures involved.  

Once the third act begins. So does the action there isn’t A lot but it seems to be the release the film builds towards. Then once it ends the film is more matter of fact and take care of. The film is definitely an old school where you could make a mainstream movie for adults that takes it’s time to set up instead of straight to or putting in action scenes to placate the audience with action until the finale. 

 The villain proves to be the evilest of all. He has a more gentlemanly approach first but then slowly reveals a more vicious side. Though he does have a weakness. Which seems to be the only way for him to show any humanity. He is memorably played by Edward Fox 

The kidnappers second in command has doubts and seems to be the only one who has the right ideas and ends up being correct. Even though he initiates a rape. Which has a scene that is disturbing and still maintains the film’s subtle side. As she is soon treated like a maid or slave by the kidnappers.  

This is a film you soak in as you watch. Getting to know the characters, moods, and tones of the film and story. As going with the unorthodox tone there is a side adventure to a massage parlor that only adds to the film’s quirks and up’s the nudity and gives the film a bit of exploitation. Though it does tie into the Story barely. Showing it trusts it’s Audience to follow even some Ridiculous detours  

GRADE: B-

JOHNNY COOL (1963)

Directed By: William Asher
Written By: John McPartland
Based On the novel “The Kingdom of Johnny Cool” By: Joseph London
Cinematography: Sam Leavitt
Editor: Otto Ludwig

Cast: Henry Silva, Elizabeth Montgomery, Telly Savalas, Sammy Davis Jr., Elisha Cook Jr., John Dierks, Jim Backus, Richard Anderson, Joey Bishop, Brad Dexter

Colini, An exiled American gangster living in Sicily, rescues Giordano, a young Sicilian outlaw, from the police. After Giordano is groomed, polished, and renamed “Johnny Cool,” Colini sends him on a vengeance mission to the United States to assassinate the men who plotted his downfall and enforced exile. Johnny arrives in New York and quickly kills several of the underworld figures on Colini’s list. Meanwhile, he picks up Dare Guiness, a wealthy divorcée who becomes his accomplice, and she is severely beaten by the gangsters as a warning against the vendetta.


Th is is a great and beautiful gangster film that I have heard anything about going into it and glad I didn’t. Didn’t have a hype to love up to but was thoroughly entertained and by the end shocked I had never heard of it. Even with it’s a more groovy sounding title. It’s a tight little thriller. This a surprisingly brutal and dark-hearted mob movie where no one gets away scot-free or clean.

You would think this based on a graphic novel made today. As the protagonist at the heart of this tale is a kind of anti-hero sent to do a mission but also has plans of his own. So in the beginning, while the film wants ya to feel for him by the end he has become a villain himself with no happy ending in sight.

The film ends with sorrow as even the innocent character played by Elizabeth Montgomery could have gotten away with her parts in the crimes but ends up being the only honest character and ends up paying the price.

What is interesting about her character is that her character is truthful ashamed and disgusted by the actions of her boyfriend Johnny cool. But she knows if he showed up right then and there it would be impossible to resist him. So she is self-aware realistically.

The assassination and action scenes are riveting and don’t usually show too much violence more alludes to them.  The film has an old school charm where even dealing in the underworld With plenty of doubles crosses everyone comes off dignified and sharp.

This is half a rat pack film as it has small roles played by Sammy Davis jr who also sings a few songs on the soundtrack and Joey bishop plays a small pivotal role, as well as the film Was produced by peter Lawford. Plus Henry Silva playing the title role. has co-Starred in many frank Sinatra and rat pack films. Playing various races in films over the years. 
 

This film is a little known gem that deserves to be seen and appreciated more. 

Grade: B-

MS .45 (1981)

Directed By: Abel Ferrara
Written By: Nicholas St John
Cinematography: James Momel
Editor: Christopher Andrews Cast: Zoe Lund, Albert Sinkys, Darlene Stuto, Helen McGara A timid and mute seamstress goes insane after being attacked and raped twice in one day, in which she takes to the streets of New York City after dark and randomly shoots men with a .45 caliber pistol.


It took me a while to finally watch this as the film Has certain notoriety which was why I was afraid of it and it’s reputation. Not as gratuitous as feared and lives up to the hype. 

It’s a cultural landmark movie as we are witnessing classic New York. 

The film seems simple but very subversive and well thought out for the first time. Still has moments that are meant to be shocking and tension-filled. This is the perfect movie for the #Metoo era. A kind of worst nightmare.

To introduce us To the atmosphere the film takes place in we see how The chorus line of guys waiting to Hit on the ladies as they are Leaving the office how bad it is in the streets for the ladies and how it used to be and still seems to be. 

The film is simple and matter of fact. As a rape-revenge film. Kind of like DEATH WISH. As the person who victimized her at first gets away. It’s the second one on the same day that she fights back against and gets revenge on.

The main character is So quiet not even introduced in the first scene she is the last to leave after all the other characters we know have left. Sort of just appearing in the film.  Everyone around her is constantly looking after her, her co-workers, and even her neighbors. 

She is Mute and this seems to be the way of getting her feelings out. Her way Of dealing with the train as she has no one to really discuss what happened. Even as she becomes increasingly cold. She becomes suspicious of others more and more the deeper she gets into her killing spree. We see The different types of her victims, not rapists but she is constantly aware of male aggression and feels she must stop them. She also never kills a woman. Taking on men in general who cross her other who are aggressive, violent, or come on strongly. 

The second victim who was trying to return her purse while hitting on her, Is more innocent but had similar behavior that made him still come off just as bad, don’t usually see that in these films makes the heroine not justified but just as guilty.

 She is Taking back power but throughout taking out violence on those attracted to her though tends to like to watch over a couple making out with Fascination. So she ends up hyper-sexualized whereas before she was just plain and innocent. She has a focus and purpose that consumes her. As she goes out Looking for victims. The dog in the film that belongs to her neighbor seems to be able to tell how bad she is. As he is increasingly violent or uneasy with her.

She never seems to buy new bullets but we assume she does as we later see her loading her gun at home but she never seems to run out or reload and has plenty of ammo There is a certain poetic justice when she is taken down by another female who she can’t bare to kill. 

Making exploitation films early director Abel Ferrera kept making these films some might consider sleazy until they were looked upon as art.

Grade: B 

HANDGUN (AKA DEEP IN THE HEART) (1983)


Written & Directed By: Tony Garnett
Cinematography: Charles Stewart
Editor: William Shafter

Cast: Karen Young, Clayton Davis, Suzie Humphreys, Helena Humann

Shortly after moving to Dallas, a young woman is raped at gunpoint. Her intense anger drives her to seek revenge, and she becomes a hunter on a vengeance mission.


The movie is obvious yet simple definitely dated as of the attitude of the male lead and the characters, in general, might have been average for those times but comes off piggish, misogynistic, scary, and rather despicable.

Half of the enjoyment of the film is waiting and watching for him to get his comeuppance. The film Is made in Texas and has a more conservative attitude as most of the characters do The lead actress in this film Karen Young is one of these actresses you constantly see in things and are usually good but never quite become the star. This is the first time I have ever really seen her in a starring role.

Her character after being raped by a guy she is dating and not being able to find justice. We watch as she prepares to get revenge learning how to shoot and learning survival Info and technique. As well as taking an interest in knives.

The films differentiate in that while Learning this she keeps running into her rapist. Lawyer and gun advocate who belongs to the same gun club. So they keep running into one another and he notices a Definite change in her. As she seems to be warning him it seems she becomes more and more intimidating to him And it is obvious she is wounded yet on the hunt. 

The lead male played by Clayton Davis is believable yet amateurish. He comes off naturally as a mean spirited character. Who never comes off as charming as even the movie tries to hint at him being. Not only a good old boy but sex-obsessed as he leers at teenage cheerleaders and ice skaters but also spends his nights drinking with colleagues at bars ogling scantily clad busty girls fighting one another. (Somehow this is supposed to be above Mudwrestling? maybe cleaner?) 

He also shows himself to always be in control and knowing what he s doing. as even when raping her earning what could happen with the gun he has pointed at her and what will happen as he will explain her shooting as an accident. How it will be covered up and thrown out of court. If she doesn’t give in. As he seems dead set on bedding her from the beginning and gets more forceful the more she resists him. We see his frustrations and machinations. Especially as he believes he is right and this way is better for her. As her rejection of him sexually is obviously her having sexual problems and hang-ups. He seems like an obvious date rapist especially by modern-day standards. Before the Term and type were more common.

If it were made today he would come off as a stereotype. The film Shows every aspect of the Rape except for the act and shows his behavior as obviously premeditated. 

The film is pretty simple it seems a bit bold for the time period it was made during. It’s better Than expected. So direct it feels more like it was made for tv issue of the week. Rather than cinema, but it works with no inspired touches.

Being that it takes place in Texas most of the attitudes of the characters do come off racist/conservative old school. This allows the crime to happen but also allows for her revenge so easily.

The film doesn’t ask any moral questions. It pretty much has you rooting for her from the beginning. Never questioning her actions or decisions. 

The film is entertaining with not much finesse but a story that keeps you interested. The ending is not what you expect and comes off as rather light. This is a revenge tale, not a vigilante one. As she has her eyes all set on him And no one else nor becoming a crusader.

The film shows men aren’t All evil but seem to be bullheaded throughout. This makes a good double featured with them sally field vigilante movie EYE FOR AN EYE. 

Grade: B-

THE LADIES CLUB (1986)

Directed By: A.K. Allen
Written By: Fran Lewis Ebeling & Paul Mason
Based on the novel “THE SISTERHOOD” By: Casey Bishop & Betty Black Cinematography: Adam Greenberg
Editor: Marion Segal & Randall Torno

Cast: Karen Austin, Diana Scarwid, Christine Belford, Bruce Davison, Beverly Todd, Marilyn Kagan, Arliss Howard, James LeGros, Carol Baxter, Paul Terafotes 

A raped policewoman forms a vigilante group of various rape victims. They abduct and castrate men whom have committed repeated violations of women, and got away with it through legal technicalities.

This rape-revenge vigilante tale is a little different In the way that the revenge seems to never be to kill the men who rape repeatedly. Like Batman, that question only seems to come late but they punish the men by castrating them.

The film for the tawdry subject matter. Plays more like a television movie on the subject as there is barely any bad language and at times the scenes while well-meaning in their direction and emotions come off more melodramatic and unintentionally humorous. 

Especially the scene when a character you get sister is sexually assaulted (luckily never shown) but the aftermath and how it is shown just seems like Something out of a public device announcement you would show to school children about the dangers of going off with a stranger. 

When it begins the film seems like it will be typical and even the perpetrators seem more of a stock room of suspects punks who are looking to rob a house. Discover she is a cop and then decide to rape her and they get off on court easily by acting and dressing like choir boys.

We meet various female characters throughout some of whom stay with their spouses who claim to not even believe them When they said they were raped (what). 

Though most of the males come off bad or unsympathetic by the end. Even Bruce Davison playing a fellow cop who is interested in Karen comes off as a weakling and ineffective even as he tries to romance her and be there for her. 

Arliss Howard shows up playing a co-star’s husband who when he finds out what she is dining and breaking the rules by telling him. As she only tells him because he suspects she was having an affair. He comes across more aggressive and abusive to be believably supportive later on.

While we meet plenty of these women in the group. We only get to know three In particular and by the end the one who didn’t sure become the strongest advocate for what they are doing and the one who was gung- ho at first. Now has reservations.

The third act while obviously done for dramatic purposes seems silly and only there for the ending to finally put a fine point on all of this.

So while the film offers a different take on the vigilante tale. Including where it seems the original Perpetrators that start off the lead and who is the very reason they seek revenge never really come back. 

So the film is something to entertain but very hard to take seriously watching it through the prism of modern times.

Grade: C

SPREE (2020)

Directed By: Eugene Kotlyarenko 
Written By: Eugene Kotlyarenko & Gene Mchugh 
Cinematography: Jeff Leeds Cohn 
Editor: Benjamin Moses Smith 

Cast: Joe Keery, Sasheer Zamata, David Arquette, Kyle Mooney, Mischa Barton, Frankie Grande, Sunny Kim, Jessalyn Gilsig 

Thirsty for a following, Kurt Kunkle is a rideshare driver who has figured out a deadly plan to go viral.


A kind of modern-day take on the French film MAN BITES DOG. That was about a documentary crew following a serial killer that blurs the lines in the last act but filled with dark humor.

This film is kind of like that only obviously more modern, American and has fewer victims and chooses to have no real responsibility. Where as it shows the horrible nature of his crimes we don’t wallow as much or feel as much sympathy for the victims.

This is a film like the recent thriller NERVE that is candy-colored and neon that plays everything as almost a game. That shows desperation to be popular.

A film that tries to condemn online Culture and social media. By showing how most of us have a dependence on it. What it might inspire. How far you might be willing to go for followers. How you feel like you don’t exist or matter.

How the main character has a dependence on it as he has no real friends or outlet and the few he does have are more popular and make fun of his desperation. So this is his way of fighting to be noticed and considered. So he can feel like he matters. Creating a happy go lucky sociopath. Who is egged on by some mysterious follower who promises him fame as he goes along and follows his instructions.

The film’s humor is dark but tries to keep a cheerful tone. As the film is full of energy and tries to stay inventive.

The film tries to make the lead less hateful and maybe a little likable by having his first kills be more unsavory characters. We won’t like so their deaths are more anticipated by the audience. If we aren’t already looking forward to them.

Though slowly the victims become a bit more innocent. Really only a few are sympathetic. The fishes seem to get what they deserve or at least a brand of karma catching up to them in it’s most lethal. Luckily? The more innocent character’s deaths seem to happen off-screen with only some of the aftermath shown.

This film shows that most of the characters are synch phonic and all are dependent on social media and at heart are bastards themselves to a degree.

The movie seems to think itself clever though while it talks a bunch. It never makes a clear point. It seems most of its points are to be cynical and take us on a joyride. While at the end the film presents an apology of an artist achieving fame they sought so hard for coming true only in the afterlife. While offering a meta ending.

The film does have a lot of energy but never quite goes as deep as it could and while offering more comedy. It does manage to hold your interest even in scenes where there is no death or killing. As the character seems to go on a suicide mission where part of the irony is that barely anyone is watching. So while he is practically sacrificing himself and randomly praying on other just to get viewers it backfires for the most part

Grade: C+

READY OR NOT (2019)

Directed By: Matt Bettinello-Olpim & Tyler Gillett 
Written By: Guy Busick & R. Christopher Murphy 
Cinematography: Brett Juktkiewicz 
Editor: Terel Gibson 

Cast: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Andie Macdowell, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Melanie Scrofano, Kristian Brunn, Elyse Levesque 

Grace couldn’t be happier after she marries the man of her dreams at his family’s luxurious estate. There’s just one catch-she must now hide from midnight until dawn while her new in-laws hunt her down with guns, crossbows and other weapons. As Grace desperately tries to survive the night, she soon finds a way to turn the tables on her not-so-lovable relatives.


There are just some films you don’t have to worry about. As they end up being exactly what you were expecting in a good way of not exactly In The same rhythm or moods that you were hoping for, for me this was one of those films.

The film is technically a horror thriller but at heart, it is more of a dark comedy with plenty of violence. Though throughout it is played as mostly a game. That has a dark edge yet feels like the movie CLUE without the grand histrionics.

This is more a dark comedy dressed up as a horror film. Had this film been made in the 1970’s it probably would have been much darker. Though as it stands it is a rather fun movie that feels more like a survival adventure.

The film is predictable somewhat but you go along for the ride. While it throws twists and turns yet stays inventive. That is as playful and dangerous as the game it shows.

The film already makes lead actress Samara Weaving standout as she is dressed all In White in her wedding dress with bright blonde hair being hunted by her in-laws all In Dark colors and all brunette except for a white-haired aunt.

The film feeds into the new conspiracies and theories of the rich being Satanists and through a deal with the devil to be rich and successful and most remember what they owe by making sacrifices every once in a while.

The film feels familiar a bit as it has Samara weaving playing a lead in a film that is based around a game inside that sadistic and leads to chaos just as the films she has been in previously MAYHEM and GUNS AKIMBO only here she is more the innocent victim. Though this is as pulse-pounding and intense as those previous films.

Though the film is smaller scaled it might remind you of survival fo the fittest movies such as SURVIVING THE GAME, THE HUNT, THE RUNNING MAN, and HARD TARGET the same Cynical stance with humor only without the action movie edge.

She is beginning to become somewhat of a scream queen. It’s a showcase to her talents that even in similar films. She is always different never repeating herself though the films all endorse the theme of the haves versus the have nots.

The shocks in the movie are heavy but usually meant to be humorous and while most of the cast are more types you kind of wonder what their stories are or how they got involved In the family in the first place. Not to mention what games did they need to play to join the family.

The film So directed by the team of Matt Bettinello-Olpim & Tyler Gillett who are noteworthy short filmmakers and made the extraordinary short in the VHS anthology that really stood out in that movie. Here the film has its style of humor, but not as many stylish tricks though it does have plenty of styles.

It’s hard to take much seriously in this film But you aren’t me at to except for the thrills. This is a film to more experience than anything else 

Grade: B

THE TAX COLLECTOR (2020)

Written & Directed by: David Ayer
Cinematography: Salvatore Totino
Editor: Geoffrey O’Brien

Cast: Bobby Soto, Shia Lebouf, George Lopez, Cynthia Cardona, Jose Conejo Martin, Cheyenne Rae Hernandez, Cle Sloan, Elpida Carrillo, Lana Parilla, Neomi Gonzalez, Gabriela Flores

David Cuevas is a family man who works as a gangland tax collector for high ranking Los Angeles gang members. He makes collections across the city with his partner Creeper making sure people pay up or will see retaliation. An old threat returns to Los Angeles that puts everything David loves in harm’s way.


This film is very disappointing and it didn’t have to be. As the filM has some good elements the cinematography and the violence is over the top and brutal.

Though the story is typical and the characters are very thin and so is the story. They are more skit there to connect the things the film Seems More interested In The violence and more the machismo and rules of the streets.

Which at this point Writer-director David Ayer has made his career off of though on other projects the street code seemed more to go with the film. Here he more chooses to bathe the whole film in it. Even though it might not be as necessary except to tell a kind of gangster tale told more by the characters who are enforcers more than the boss.

It gives Shia Lebouf a role to play vicious and threatening as he does come off as imposing but it also feels very punched up. As we see how intense he is and even how threatening he is a bit we rarely see his character actually be violent and dangerous. It also feels like he is more chewing the props in as far as he calls attention to himself in the movie.

There is a scene with him dragging a body and him in a hazmat suit that takes place in the ost and is supposed to show how much of a butcher and mad man he is. We only see him dragging a body and smoking afterward. It seems there for no real reason or at least makes no real impact maybe if it was an imitation or done on the day’s events it would have made one. 

It boils down to where is this character is supposed to be memorable if not iconic but we never see him actually do what seems promised eventually. So that there is all this build-up and no real follow through a tease. Which is how this movie also comes off.

He seems to be maybe a David Ayer stand in as a caucasian who grew up around people of color and was taken in by them so he comes across as one of them and has similar characteristics. As David Ayer has said in the past he has. Though lebouf is not the stR of the movie and more comes across as a name star to put in the movie and help get funding. As it works he gets to stretch as an actor and only ends up being a smaller supporting role rather than the lead and it doesn’t rest on his shoulders. He is shocking at first int he roe bit settles Down.

The film Doesn’t offer anything you haven’t seen before. It does offer representation but unfortunately, all the characters are gangsters or work for them in an illegal manner. So there is very little positive here except that the lead character is religious and a man of god. So he does have a belief system that is practically spelled out in the beginning.

The film feels like a big waste of time. If it had been more structured or offered something different or original the film Might be worth it, but it is bathed in cliches and things we have seen way too much. The closest it gets to different is by having stand up comedian George Lopez play a dramatic role as a street boss. 

The first half of the film plays more like a gangster tale the second half plays more like a revenge tale. Now if that is what you are looking for plain and simple this is the film For you. As this is David Ayer making. A smaller-scale project after SUICIDE SQUAD and BRIGHT. As this is more in the vein of HARSH TIMES. These are the films he seems to prefer to make. At least there aren’t as many cops as he usually has in his films usually. As this is a straight-up organized crime only. 

Again do this offered something different this would be welcome but all this ends up being. Is an action gangster tale. Nothing more nothing less other than some credible cinematography and tough talk and brutal violence.

Either way somewhat entertaining as you watch though might have some problems

With it and once it is over quickly forgettable.

Grade: C-