January 14th-The Most Dangerous Game from 1932 (Director: Irving Pichel and Ernest B. Schoedsack, Writer: James Ashmore Creelman Based on “The Most Dangerous Game” 1924 Collier’s by Richard Connell, Stars: Joel McCrea, Fay Wray and Leslie Banks, Runtime: 62 mins)
From the people who made the more popular King Kong comes The Most Dangerous Game, based on the influential novel. A big game hunter is shipwrecked on an island with a madman who has decided hunting people is the most dangerous game. Yep. This is the first film adaptation of the story and there have been many adaptations and many works inspired by the story. Also, Zodiac Killer referenced the book in one of his letters.
So the movie is fine. It really plays like a film that would’ve been thrilling in its day but now in the era of Battle Royale, Hunger Games and even Predator a little tame. That said the Leslie Banks is fun as the villain. His look and delivery are fun. His castle, when we are inside, have a col and creepy factor are appreciate. There’s not nearly enough hunting but some interesting locals. Overall its a fascinating little movie that may have benefited from more of the hunt.
January 15th-Tales from the Hood from 1995 (Director: Rusty Cundieff, Writer: Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott, Stars: large ensemble, Runtime: 98 mins)
This black horror anthology follows three drug dealers who visit a creepy mortician to make a drug deal and on their way to “the shit” he tells four creepy stories. One about a black ex-cop who leads three racists/corrupt cops to the resting place of a black civil rights leader they killed. The second about a young boy afraid of the monster who hurts him. The third about an ex-KKK member who is trying to run for office and is being stalked by a voodoo curse. The final story about a violent gang member who agrees to go into behavior modification. Black horror films are fascinating because they bring a different feel to horror. Sometimes social commentary, sometimes not and yet still a new perspective. This film definitely brings social commentary but while a little heavy handed at times is pretty effective. Definitely brutal. This is a very unique film . There are some stand out performances, speciically Wings Hauser, David Alan Grier, Corbin Bernsen, and the creepy Mortician played by Clarence Williams III among others. High recommendation to all horror fans or fans of black movies.
January 16th-The Love Witch from 2016 (Director/Writer: Anna Biller, Stars: Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, and Laura Waddell, Runtime: 120 mins)
Anna Biller wrote, directed,edited, composed the music, was art, costume and production designer. She crafted a film that looks like the campy horror films of the 60s. Only seen a few but yeah, this films look is impressive. Everything else? Depends on you. The look of the film, the stylized witchcraft, and Samantha Robinsons performance are excellent. But this is a difficult film. The film is stage din a way where the performances feel campy, or just off. While Samantha is excellent it makes a lot of the secondary roles are just bland. The central story about witch looking for love is interesting but it isn’t… thrilling? I didn’t care much for parts in the middles. I thought it was effective in its first hour and then went off on the rails. The ending moment was slick though. Visually, beautiful movie.
January 17th-Boys in the Trees from 2016 (Director/Writer: Nicholas Verso, Stars: Toby Wallace and Gulliver McGrath, Runtime: 112 mins)
A 1997 Halloween set coming of age story dressed in horror stories and fantasy. Two former friends reunite into a journey of fear and self-growth. It’s… Interesting. It is fueled by 90s nostalgia and some slick imagery but the middle section of the film just sort spins its wheels at time. Luckily it sticks the landing (mostly) after your attention starts to wain. The performances from the cast are on point, music is good including the collection of songs, and it looks good. This is a okay film, I’m sure in a weeks time I’ll upgrade that to good. It feels like in a few years I might even say great. But right now, as I’m writing this, it’s okay.
January 18th-Freeway from 1996 (Director/Writer: Matthew Bright, Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Keifer Sutherland, and Brooke Shields, Runtime: 102 mins)
Its Little Red Riding Hood is Little Red Riding Hood was a 90s set thriller with Red being an illiterate and violent brat, the Wolf a serial killer, and an entire segment of court and prison. Seriously, WTF!? Vanessa Lutz flees her probation officer (or is it social worker) who was going to send her into the system again after her sex worker mom and drug maker step-dad get carted off. She meets Bob, a counselor for young boys, who might be a serial killer. Thats like the firs half. Reese Witherspoons character is horrible. By which I mean a total crazy mess with deep mental issues who explodes in violence and foul language. She even says some pretty racists shit at the black cop. Granted the black cop was being an asshole but c’mon. That cop also did a little extra work on her case. Still, this film is wacky and pretty stupid but Reese is committed to the performance and Keifer is pretty good in his part. Brooke Shields has nothing to do. This is just weird 90s exploitation grindhouse style with some serious talent on the cast. Hell, Danny Elfman did the soundtrack!
January 19th-$ (or Dollars or the Heist) from 1971 (Director/Writer: Richard Brooks, Stars: Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn, Runtime: 119 mins)
Joe Collins is an American security consultant working at a German bank. Him and his prostitute friend Dawn Divine track the movements of a mobster, drug smuggler and corrupt US Sergeant. Collins has a plan to rob their safe deposit boxes. Okay, this film felt about 20 minutes too long. Good chucks were boring. The actually planned robbery was pretty good and the escape by Beatty’s character fleeing the people he swindled was alright. The film gets an overall ‘meh’ from me. The biggest shock was finding out Goldie Hawn is in her seventies. I knew her from 80s films but she’s been doing movies since the 60s. She ages amazingly.
January 20th-High and Low from 1963 (Director: Akira kurosawa, Writer: Ryuzo Kikushima, Hideo Oguni, Eijiro Hisaita and Akira Kurosawa Based on King’s Ransom by Ed McBain, Stars: Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai and Kyōko Kagawa, Runtime: 143 mins)
An executive is trying to take over his company but before he can do it his chauffeurs kid gets kidnapped, thinking it was the executives kid. What happens over the course of over two hours is how a criminal put together an almost masterful plan and how the police worked hard to not only find the man who did it, but also nail him for more crimes. Its interesting to watch both the exchange for the ransom go down and how the police work to crack the case. Its filled with top performances but I was surprised at how little Toshiro Mifune was in it. Mifune is top billed guy but he’s gone for long section in the middle of the film. Mifune is a great actor and excellent when he shows up but the many supporting actors get time to shine. The criminal even gets a great final sequence across from Mifune. This is not one of Kurosawa’s best films but its still really good. Kurosawa directed 7 Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Stray Dog, Rashomon and Hidden Fortress. No way this compares. But it’s an excellent film.
3:10 to Yuma
Tales from the Hood
High & Low
Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance
The Love Witch
The Most Dangerous Game
Boys in the Trees
Thriller-A Cruel Picture