I’ve seen a lot of genre films with weird themes, but surprisingly, Evan Cecil’s LASSO is my first rodeo-themed piece of horror. It’s hard to believe it hasn’t been done before, since the backdrop is ripe for the picking. You’ve got clowns, creepy cowboys, and unbridled rootin’ tootin’ masculinity that’s enough to make even the most hardened millennial yearn for the comforts of the more enlightened age.
You gotta admire the stones on Vivieno Caldinelli; he’s written and directed a film about suicide in today's climate of delicate sensibilities. And not just a film… a comedy film. It’s hard these days for folks to laugh about such dark subject matter, let alone chortling about folks intentionally shuffling off the mortal coil. I’m actually having trouble deciding if I’m offended or not, but either way, the blow is softened by the insufferably chipper leads.
It wasn’t until after watching director Quentin Dupieux’s KEEP AN EYE OUT that I learned of his illustrious past: he was Mr. Oizo. Yes, he was responsible for that adorable, headbanging puppet and the endlessly addictive 1999 song that went along with it, “Flat Beat”. If I ever made a prediction about Mr. Oizo’s career, I’m not sure I would have included black comedy/crime films, but here we are, almost 20 years later, and now we have KEEP AN EYE OUT.
The El Royale is a motel that sits directly on the border of California and Nevada, split directly down the middle. Its motley brand of customers are similarly split down the middle: between right and wrong, good and bad. God and no God. And while it’s tough to decide who to side with, I can at least confirm that writer/director Drew Goddard sided right with BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE.
What is it about arthropods that freaks us out? Maybe it’s the myriad scuttling legs that click across the floor as they dart from corner to corner in dark places? Maybe it’s the hatching of their eggs as hundreds of creepy horrors emerge in search of food? Maybe it’s their multifaceted eyes watching our every move? Maybe it’s Maybelline.
I have a couple of confessions. Before watching director Michael Peterson’s KNUCKLEBALL, I didn’t know what a “knuckleball” was. I live in a country where the preferred way to hit a ball with a bat rhymes with “lick it”, so I found KNUCKLEBALL informative when it comes to baseball terminology. My other confession is that I really like Michael Ironside, and he’s the main thing about KNUCKLEBALL that piqued my interest and made me want to watch. Ever since he made heads explode in Scanners and lost a couple of limbs while chasing Arnold around Mars, I’ve seen him as an underrated Canadian export.
Indonesia has been a safe, happy place for genre fans in recent years, with the country spawning a decent number of effective horror flicks and stunning martial arts epics. The industry over there is deservedly on the upturn, and that’s what made me so excited to take in director Timo Tjahjanto’s MAY THE DEVIL TAKE YOU.
DETECTIVE K: SECRET OF THE LIVING DEAD is the third film in the slapstick South Korean sleuthing series, and until now, I was entirely uninitiated. Being an obsessive completionist, there’s no way I could watch the second sequel in a franchise without context of the original and forgive myself in the morning; so I binged all three films in a row, emerging bleary eyed in a colorful blur of light hearted mystery-solving from the peninsula.
TOKYO VAMPIRE HOTEL starts out by demanding that you turn the volume up to the max level, whether you’re in front of the TV, or just watching with a pair of headphones on a tiny laptop screen. I’ll admit, I didn’t do it, because I value my aural health, but anyway… this IS a loud flick! It’s colorful, it’s crazy, and I’d best describe it as Japan doing Tarantino doing Japan. Think Kill Bill, but with more teeth.
The most impressive part of Shinichirou Ueda’s ONE CUT OF THE DEAD is its first 37 minutes; it has all the zombie mayhem that we’ve come to expect from a low budget undead-fest, and it's all presented in one single take. This technique is usually reserved for artier fare than the common low budget zombie flick, but leave it up to the Japanese to make it happen.