Friday, October 14, 2016

31 DAYS OF FRIGHT: We Interrupt This Feature for Some Recent Views

Trying to put the finishing touches on a mammoth 30th anniversary issue and stay on top of our 31 Days of Fright blog feature may have been biting off more than I could chew.

In fact, it'd probably be for the best if we just moved Halloween to sometime in November.

Everybody cool with that?

Well, assuming that's going to get about as much traction as #repealthe19th I better put on my big boy pants and get back to work on both things!

But first, I wanted to dash off a few quick capsules of some of the movies I saw in the theater this week. That's right! I actually made it out to not one, not two, not three, but FOUR honest to goodness movies this week which throws my whole theatrical screenings average for a total loop. (Okay, so one was that MIDDLE SCHOOL movie which I saw with the wife and daughter but hey, it meant putting on presentable clothing and venturing into the outside world.)

First up was a trip to Silver Spring, MD for a couple screenings at the American Film Institute Theater. I'm pretty embarrassed that I've lived in this area for close to 16 years and last weekend was my first trip down there. Considering the number of revivals and their annual Spooky Movie Festival (which was the reason for the trip), I should probably have my "Movie Lover" card revoked. Bonus points for the burger, tots and Double Duckpin at the Quarry House Tavern around the corner, even if they did charge per can about what I pay for a six pack.

Up first was MY FATHER DIE (2016), the debut feature from Sean Brosnan, son of that guy who played James Bond. Chester (Chester Rushing of STRANGER THINGS) is best buds with and protector to his younger brother Asher (Gabe White). But when he crosses the line with their biker father, Ivan (an impressive Gary Stretch who looks like Norm McDonald's impression of Burt Reynolds coupled with Barry Bonds' steroid regimen), it results in Chester's death, Asher's hearing loss, and a long stretch in the slammer for dear old dad. Fast forward two decades when a grown, but still deaf, Asher (now played by Joe Anderson from TV's HANNIBAL) discovers that Ivan has been released early and he must ramp up his plan for revenge. A swirling, sweaty Southern gothic stew of preachers, porn, stomped cops, torture sessions, car chases and gun battles ensues as Ivan and Asher head towards their inevitable showdown. Maybe a touch long at 102 minutes, Brosnan's debut is nonetheless riveting and explosive, with plenty of humor to offset the revenge-driven mayhem. And yes, that's John Schneider as the grizzled cop following the trail of blood and bodies.

Shifting gears completely was the Spooky Movie followup. Tim Reis' BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE (2016) is an ooey gooey love letter to all those mad scientist VHS flicks we rented in the 80s. Making her feature film debut, Mary Malloy stars as Victoria, a young woman home from college to find herself. Unfortunately, she finds herself living with her mom, meddling stepfather (Brian Troxell) and reptilian stepbrother. Out for a night with friends she ends up attacked by a slimy creature and is reported missing, presumed dead by Stensland (Troy Halverson), the investigator hired by her stepfather. When she turns up weeks later it's assumed she's hooked on some kind of designer drug which stepdad Wade quickly smashes so that she can get clean. Unfortunately, the "drug" was actually an antidote designed to keep her from turning into a hideous "werefrog". Calamity ensues. Reis, who also wrote the script, deftly juggles both horror and comedy, making BAD BLOOD feel like any one of a hundred similar flicks I rented over the years. Halverson practically steals the show as the deranged ex-cop on the werefrog's trail and though the ending never went as far as I hoped the whole slimy affair has me in search of THE DEMON'S ROOK (2013), an earlier flick Reis worked on.

Last but not least I had a chance to hit the theater last night for a screening of SHIN GODZILLA (2016), the latest Tokyo stompfest featuring The Big G. I'm neither a Godzilla fanboy nor a purist, so I wasn't bothered when friends whose opinions usually track with mine mentioned that the flick was maybe a tad talky and even, well, boring. These lowered expectations probably served me well and with a Bobby Flay Crunch Burger and Onion Rings in my gut and a Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA in hand (oh how I love modern cinemas!) I settled in for 120 minutes of wanton destruction. Unfortunately, it's more like 20 minutes of wanton destruction, Godzilla evolution and laser tails coupled with a solid 100 minutes of meetings, meetings about meetings, subtle digs at the US, not so subtle digs at the US, charts, origami, copier setup and did I mention meetings? Seriously, the BluRay should come with a 30 Day free trial for GoToMeeting. I'm thinking that having Godzilla TAKE A NAP (?!) in the middle of the movie probably wasn't the best plot device and the whole thing felt pretty anti-climactic, but any night that includes burgers, brews and a stompfest can't be all bad. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor and publisher of Exploitation Retrospect. He's pretty sure his recent case of writer's block is over. He should really get back to work on the 30th Anniversary issue of the zine.


Steven Millan said...

MY FATHER DIE sounds very similar to BLUE RUIN(mixed with a small dash of UNDERTOW[when it comes to films about psychotic family members]),for I guess that Sean Brosnan is leaving acting(after his appearance in the Jean Claude Van Damme film ALIEN APOCALYPSE) behind for a filmmaking career. Otherwise,I enjoyed SHIN GODZILLA for what it was even if Godzilla is as much of a small supporting character as he was in Gareth Edwards' GODZILLA(as well as half of his Toho Studios films).

Dan said...

Thanks for the comment, Steven. BLUE RUIN was one of the titles that MFD was compared to in the festival program, so I guess they were on target. I'll have to check it out. I agree about SHIN GODZILLA... I enjoyed it for what it was and even got a kick out of its pokes at bureaucracy. Would certainly watch a follow up and I probably need to give Edwards' flick another look one of these days.