Review: Heavy Trip aka Hevi Reissu (Finland 2018) – Cinepocalypse 2018

As a region, Scandinavia only has a few instantly recognizable cliché cultural exports. Smoked fish, 70’s art porn, IKEA … and the blackest of black metal.  I’m not much for the others, but I’ve been fascinated with the Scandinavian metal scene for years, since reading a Spin article on intraband murders and church burnings 20 years ago that pinned my ears back.  Since then I’ve had a chance to see a catch a few of the greats, like Abbath, and develop a healthy appreciation for the sound.  The genre is easily mockable, because of its tendency to take everything to extremes (see the great, loving Metalocalypse), but still an absolute blast.

The new Finnish comedy Heavy Trip, about a small-town metal band trying to make the big time, is well aware of the absurdity, but pokes fun at the genre without ever crapping on it. Continue reading

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Review: Satan’s Slaves aka Pengabdi Setan (Indonesia 2017) – Cinepocalypse 2018

I watch a lot of horror movies, and while I love them, I’ve become pretty jaded over the years.  Maybe one out of every hundred are actually frightening, and then usually only for a moment or two.  So when I say Satan’s Slaves is genuinely terrifying – indeed, for me, quite literally hair-raising – I mean it.  Continue reading

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Review: Shanty Tramp (USA 1967)

CSB’s Jeff talked up the glories of this low-budget hicksploitation movie for years, so when the Brooklyn Alamo screened it, we had to go. Fortunately, the movie lived up (lived down?) to its reputation, with plenty of go-go dancing, race-baiting, and trash-talking, and rarely a dull moment. Continue reading

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Chang Cheh at the Quad Cinema in NYC

The Quad Cinema in New York will be continuing its Chang Cheh retrospective – “Vengeance Is His: Chang Cheh’s Martial Lore” – over Memorial Weekend.  There are still lots of great films to see, including the stone cold classic Five Deadly Venoms, which combines the athleticism of the Venoms Mob with solid murder mystery plotting.  Continue reading

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Review: Downrange (USA 2018)

Downrange is the latest step in Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura’s gradual move into the US market. Kitamura follows in the footsteps of luminaries of Asian cinema like Tsui Hark and John Woo, who were also set out to toil in minor films, but Kitamura never aspired to their artistry. That may be to his benefit in Downrange, because instead of a try-hard wannabe blockbuster, Kitamura plays to his strengths, making a nasty, gory, little low-budget sniper thriller that largely achieves its limited goals. Continue reading

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Review: Mom and Dad (USA 2017)

Mom and Dad, the latest film from Brian Taylor, one-half of the pair of madmen behind the miraculous Crank films, is similarly … well, apeshit bananas for lack of a better term. Taylor, working from his own screenplay, posits a world where a mysterious affliction is causing parents to turn on their own children, murdering them in the most expedient way.

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Review: The Avenging Eagle AKA: Long xie shi san ying; Cold Blooded Eagles (Hong Kong 1978)

Avenging Eagle is solid old school kung fu from the Shaw Brothers. It’s no pinnacle of the genre – there really isn’t that much to distinguish it from most Shaw martial arts films – but a good cast, baroque weaponry, and nice scenery elevate it slightly above the average old-schooler. Continue reading

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Review: Justice League (USA 2017)

Why did I even watch this? Masochism? Completism? I truly loathed Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (a movie as turgid as its name), and the execrable Suicide Squad, and had very low expectations for this Frankenstein’s monster of IP and dueling directorial visions. So with all that in play, I was surprised to find that Justice League … wasn’t so bad? Continue reading

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Review: Cold Hell aka Die Hölle (Austria/Germany 2017)

Cold Hell is a nasty little treat. I was expecting a thriller, but not a full-blown modern giallo. Cold Hell revels in the lurid sexualized violence and the neon washes and shadows of the best of Dario Argento and Sergio Martino – practically the only things missing are the customary black gloves and red herrings. Continue reading

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Sridevi, Bollywood Queen, Passes Away at 54

Playing everything from the ingenue in Kamal Haasan’s giallo-esque thriller Sigappu Rojakkal (1978), to a whip-wielding bandit queen in Sherni (1988), to a bewitching snake spirit in the supernatural romance/horror Nagina (1986), Sridevi has long laid claim to my heart as the queen of Bollywood.  Sridevi could be charming, goofy, and sexy in turn, sometimes all in the same film, like in her star turn as Lois Lane by way of Charlie Chaplin in the superhero hit Mr. India (1987). Continue reading

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