Critical Outcast isn't my first attempt at a website, I had a few stutter steps in the late 1990's and early 2000's. These attempts generated a whole bunch of poorly written, often very short and spoilerific reviews. I recently stumbled upon them in my archives and thought you may be interested in seeing some of these early attempts at writing. They are as they were then, I make no apologies for how bad or how short they are. Feel free to have at them with reckless abandon! I present to you: Reviews in Retrograde.
So, I went out to see the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. The movie was produced by Michael Bay through his Platinum Dunes company (the same company that has given use the remakes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th). If you look at their track record and think they may be taking the Iback to their dark and violent roots, let me just squash that thought. The movie is also being produced in conjunction with Nickelodeon films and the finished product is definitely geared towards the younger set. This is probably the best direction as most incarnations have had the younger generation in mind, this is decidedly not for the nostalgia seekers hoping the characters of their youth have matured with them.
They said it couldn't happen, they said it would never occur again, they were confident in their victory, but they were so, so wrong. Yes, things were touch and go for a little while, but things are back on track and stronger than ever. Even with a shorter window for promotion, the Hudson Horror team pulled it off, delivering another sold out show. It is starting to become rather commonplace to report on a sold out Hudson Horror show, but it really is somethng special. The show brings together the Northeast horror family, hailing from multiple states, but all bonded by that special love that cannot be taken away, cannot be written off, and will not be denied.
After spending an evening revisiting the classic Return of the Living Dead and discovering that I had never seen Return of the Living Dead Part II, I decided to complete the trifecta and watch Return of the Living Dead 3 (which I know I had seen before). There is nothing like spending some time with some zombies, sure they are pretty much everywhere these days, but that has not diminished their effectiveness, it just might take a touch longer to uncover the good ones. In any case, the third return film is my second favorite of the three (we won't bother with those two that were on TV later on). This one also changes the formula, while remaining a recognizable part of the series.
So, the other night I decided to spend some time with old friends and popped in my Blu-ray of Return of the Living Dead. This movie, from Dan O'Bannon (Alien), John Russo (Night of the Living Dead), and others, is an absolute classic. The zombie comedy comes out firing on all cylinders, delivering laughs and scares alongside some of the most recognizable characters in all of horror. It was a great start to the darkening evening. I decided to follow it up with the 1988 sequel, Return of the Living Dead Part II. Then something happened that I did not expect, I did not recognize anything. I don't think I've ever seen the movie before! I know, right?
It seemed like it was just yesterday that Marvel was launching their movie studio with the first Iron Man movie. Who could have predicted how high they would fly? Certainly not I. On top of that, I never would have guessed that they would have taken their cinematic universe to the cosmic level that they have. Well, we got a taste of it with the Chitauri in The Avengers. Now we have Marvel going full throttle into deep space with Guardians of the Galaxy. This movie may not be the best of the bunch, but it has a lot going for it and it is one of the most fun movies I have seen this year. Seriously, it is a lot of fun.
The post-Vietnam War/PTSD/revenge flick is not a mix that I am all that intimately familiar with. With that said, my limited experience puts Rolling Thunder at the top of the heap, that is a seriously awesome movie. By comparison, The No Mercy Man, which predates Rolling Thunder by a number of years, feels like the lite version. It is much like the relationship between Man from Deep River and Jungle Holocaust. This is not to speaking of any of these films, it just shows the development of early exercises in a style compared to the lengths that others take it to a little later. A progression in extreme, if you will.
FleshEater is a movie I have been aware of for many years now, but had never gotten around to seeing. Frankly, it was never really that high on my must see list. Granted, I have never really investigated it that deeply, but I never ears that much positive,stuff about it. Even this day, watching it in the midst of a 35mm marathon (under the title Revenge of the Living Zombies), I heard some mixed word on it. One friend loves it and said it was the best of he day, while another quickly dismisses it as trash. Personally, I think the answer falls somewhere in the middle, although it does lean towards the rash end of the spectrum in my estimation.
The Night of a Thousand Cats is a weird movie, there really is no questioning that. The film is virtually plotless and moves along like an art house film. It can be seen as an existential rumination on the nature of sanity, or the dangerous art of seduction, or how eclectic collections can be the result of mental disorder. Or you can just watch it as a oddball movie about a psycho with a helicopter, a castle, and a lot of cats. It is not a move with a lot of middling feelings on, you will have a reaction to it. In most cases the reaction is distaste, or perhaps boredom. I think I like it, but it is certainly a trying film.
In the early days of slasher cinema, there was something of a free for all. I do not say this from any real knowledge aside from just seeing all the sorts of movies they were putting out in those days as the style was beginning to find its footing in the world. We had the early classics that set the formula, like Black Christmas and especially Halloween. We had Friday the 13th that brought it all to the masses. Then there was everything else. That brings us to today's film which seems to have been made by those who were paying close attention to the direction horror was taking. Bloody Birthday may not be a great movie, but it certainly is worth paying some attention to.
Tell me, how have I gotten this far in life having never seen Piranha? I am speaking of the original, not the 2010 remake (which was pretty awesome on its own). Granted, this is something I can and will say about a lot of movies (that's what I get for diving in this late in the game). Now, to be certain this is hardly among my favorites of all time, but there is definitely something about this movie that is undeniably entertaining. It is campy, silly, and fun. It is definitely a low budget gem that is a little off the rails, and something to be savored. Well, that may be a little over stated, but fun movies are fun movies, and for a lazy night this fits the bill.
Sex Tape was the second of two movies I watched last weekend based on an utterly ridiculous concept. The difference being, I really liked what the other one did with it (Lucy). Yes, it is based on a long since debunked myth, but it was still interesting as a look into human potential. Now there is this thing. Somehow I failed to realize just how ludicrous an idea it really is. Sure, it looks like a fun high concept to base a movie on, but the execution is so bland and lackluster that the whole thing feels wasted. I actually think that is a shame, I think this idea could have been used to much better effect.
I recall the first time I saw the trailer for Lucy, I was immediately interested. It looked like a fun/weird mash up of action and science fiction. Then I learned it was from writer/director/producer Luc Besson and I was fully on board. Sure, he is pretty far removed from his artistic heights of Leon, La Femme Nikita, and The Fifth Element, but there is still something about his productions, his blending of high concept and everyday action that I have always liked. Sure, The Family left something to be desired, but then again, everyone has their off time, right? Back to the movie at hand, Lucy looked like a winner from the get go to this guy.
Way back in January a Hercules movie hit the theaters with very little fanfare and proceeded to bomb at the box office. This was not wholly unexpected considering it seemed to be a late pickup by Lionsgate with the hope of making a few bucks. That movie was Legend of Hercules, starring Kellan Lutz and directed by Renny Harlin. It was one of those movies when my instincts kicked in and successfully steered me away. The logic being I would wait for the big summer Hercules movie with Dwayne Johnson. That would have to be better, right? Well, it has arrived and I did go and see it. Long story short, it's not good.