This has been a strange year, to say the very, very least. Strange, scary, hard, pick your descriptor and plug away. With the world shut down to various degrees it has meant I have had a lot more time to watch movies – hey man, I wrote enough books this year, gimme a break – a lot of movies.
These past few days was kind of the year in movies for me.
A young woman heads to her grandmother’s home to help her with her rooming business. The large, old house was a former funeral home but with the family patriarch gone – missing and presumed dead – but to make ends meet grandma is renting rooms back when there was still Breakfast in the BnB model. The granddaughter starts to hear people arguing in the basement, something her grandmother denies, but which she knows is true. Throw in some unsolved missing persons cases, some people running awry of a mystery killer, and heckfire you have yourself a real spookhouse.
Ah, but this is such a boring, droning affair.
This is a mimic of far better films and its ‘twist’ is obvious and easily seen, even back then. There is nothing interesting here save for some familiar faces from the Canadian film scene back then. There is a lot of build up to an abbreviated explanation during the credits as the camera pans in on the cat, who, for some reason, becomes sort of a big character at the end.
This is the epitome of trash ‘80s horror. Boring, predictable, silly, and mean. What stinks is that this could have been super interesting if there was more care given to the writing and directing. Even keeping the same turn at the end, you could make it so much weirder. Alas, this is just one of dozens and dozens of boring movies that litter the 1980’s horror landscape and clutter up the virtual shelves.
2 out of 5
I had never heard of the movie WACKO until I watched it on Prime the other day. It’s another of those weird, ridiculous parody films that pop up from time to time. This was from the early ‘80s and featured Joe Don Baker and George Kennedy and was about a killer that wore a jack-o-lantern on his head and killed some people on Halloween with a souped-up push mower. It’s ridiculous and nonsensical and HILARIOUS. It swings at so many weird movies and it works – THE OMEN, EXORCIST, PSYCHO, the oeuvre of DePalma and Hitchcock. I am sure there were more, but I can’t recall. This isn’t genius stuff, but man is it silly and funny. This isn’t as ridiculous as the similar STUDENT BODIES but it goes for that similar tone. Broad, silly, weird, and so very strange. There’s a sort of magical weirdness at work here and for whatever reason the movie works. What’s strange is that I hadn’t really heard about this before, I’d seen the name but never seen any big to-do about the film, which, as weird as it is, I am surprised.
Definitely worth a look.
3.5 out of 5
MANK is a movie that will be all over the Oscars, I’d wager, and it deserves to be. A work firing on all cylinders it’s a film that, in the strangest way, serves as a wonderful companion to CITIZEN KANE and even gave me feelings of BARTON FINK. Set at the edge of the dying off of the ‘good old days’ of Big Studio Hollywood, MANK tells the tale of the man that is credited, in the very least, with being part of the team that wrote CITIZEN KANE, though his involvement has been debated since the debut of the film. MANK posits that he wrote the film himself, in a sort of alcohol fueled fever dream, with a completely made up deadline from Welles looming. The film’s dialogue crackles and there’s an electricity that inhabits the entirety of the movie. In so many ways this mimics the work Welles did with KANE and this plays as a tragic slow car wreck that we can see coming but never see happen. KANE was Welles’ big declaration to the world I AM HERE and immediately he was shown the door and never quite managed to have the impact or fire with his following projects. There is an analogy made of Don Quixote in the film and Welles and Mank mirror that story themselves as they take on a man and legend bigger than life and in its own way, KANE destroyed both men. Skillfully directed and absolutely engaging, this is the work of a filmmaker hitting every note. While this doesn’t stand beside a film like KANE, which was like a strike of lightning, this can stand tall in its shadow, enhancing that classic and creating its own place among similar films.
5 out of 5
Hey, if you like all these words, sometimes I string them together to tell stories. Go check my virtual bookstore and get yourself something.