Retro movie review: Poltergeist [1982]

Premise: “They’re here.” Steve and Diane Freelings are a couple who seem to have it all: affluence, a beautiful house in the suburbs, and three wonderful kids. But their perfect life turns upside-down as a strange series of incidents lead them to believe their house is haunted, and the stakes are raised when spiritual forces abduct their youngest daughter, Carol Anne.

Something I’ve mentioned several times in the past is that one of the formative pop-culture experiences of my childhood was watching Poltergeist with my parents when it was first released on VHS; I would have been 8 or 9 at the time. Except for the Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” no work of horror has affected me so profoundly, and revisiting it again after almost thirty years, I found it to retain a great deal of effectiveness.

Continue reading Retro movie review: Poltergeist [1982]

So I got an award

I got a “Dragon’s Loyalty Award” from Elwood Jones at From the Depths of DVD Hell, which is one of those “pay-it-forward” blogging awards you then pass on to other bloggers. I usually don’t participate in those, mainly because I usually can’t think of enough blogs (in the case of Dragon’s Loyalty, fifteen) I follow at any given time.

Still, I very much appreciate an accolade from a fellow blogger–especially from Elwood, who is a wonderful fellow to podcast with, and DVD Hell is one of the blogs I try to remember to keep up with. So, thanks, Elwood!

Dragon's Loyalty Award

In the interest of passing it on, I’d like to suggest you stop by my old stomping grounds, Forced Viewing, which is returning to life after something of a hiatus.

One of the FV writers, my friend John Bruni, is also a writer of fiction who just published his second novel, Poor Bastards and Rich Fucks. It’s available now from the sort of stores that Joaquin Phoenix’s character in 8mm would have worked at, and also Amazon. I’ve not had a chance to read it yet, but from what I’ve heard, it sounds like a corker.

Doctor Who review: “Deep Breath” / “Into the Dalek”

In my write-up of “The Time of the Doctor,” I discussed how regeneration stories evolved from “ending in the Doctor’s death and rebirth” to “being explicitly about the Doctor’s death and rebirth.” Post-regeneration stories–stories or episodes following directly on from a regeneration–have evolved similarly.

In the earliest examples (“The Power of the Daleks,” “Spearhead from Space,” “Robot”) the new Doctor’s personality seemed fully-formed, if occasionally more eccentric or erratic than usual. Peter Davison’s first outing, “Castrovalva,” is the first story to show the nascent incarnation’s psyche as something of a tabula rasa. The Doctor literally does not know who he is, but over the course of the serial’s four episodes, he finds out, along with the audience.

Continue reading Doctor Who review: “Deep Breath” / “Into the Dalek”

Movie review: Faults [2014]

We meet Ansel Roth (Leland Orser) as he pretends to pay for breakfast at a motel restaurant. “Pretends” because voucher he uses has already been redeemed. By Roth himself, it turns out–the manager remembers him from the evening before. When the staff attempts to forcibly eject Roth, he hunkers down, refusing on the grounds that he’s still eating, and shoveling ketchup into his mouth to make the point.

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Movie review: Der Samurai [2014]

If your experience with genre cinema has been too safe, staid, straightforward, and just plain normal recently, I’d like to introduce you to Till Kleinert, the first-time writer/director of Der Samurai. Prepare to meet your new bizarro German Jesus.

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Movie review: Maggie [2015]

It seems that most of the publicity photos on Maggie’s official website are of people hugging each other. That might not strike you as weird if you didn’t know what Maggie is about. Only one of the pictures betrays the film’s subject matter: Arnold Schwarzenegger, swinging an ax, his trademark expression of steely, grim determination etched on his face more intensely than usual. The photo doesn’t show what Arnold is swinging the ax at, but I’m guessing it’s not firewood he’s splitting, but a zombie’s face.

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Doctor Who review: “The Time of the Doctor”

It was a decision born of necessity: in 1966, William Hartnell was in no condition (either physically, mentally or emotionally) to continue in Doctor Who’s title role. But neither the show’s producers nor the BBC actually wanted the series to end. So the producers came up with an ingenious solution: kill the Doctor, then have him reborn as a new man.

Continue reading Doctor Who review: “The Time of the Doctor”