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The Latest Movie Reviews
There's Not Much To Fear Within The Darkness Of 'Lights Out'
Production: Scary Factor: 
A couple of years ago, filmmaker David F. Sandberg made a terrifying short film called Lights Out that went viral, scaring the pants off of internet surfers everywhere and attracting the attention of horror wunderkind James Wan (the man behind Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring). Wan was so impressed by the short...

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'Café Society' Is Vintage Woody Allen, Through And Through
Production: Comedy Factor: 
For the past fifty years, writer/director/cinematic auteur Woody Allen has been one of the more consistent filmmakers, pumping out a movie every year, just like clockwork. The last couple of them - 2015's Irrational Man and 2014's Magic in the Moonlight - were even pretty good. This year's offering, Café Society,...

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'Ghostbusters' Is A 'Ghostbusters' For A New Generation - And A New Audience
Production: Chemistry: 
Comedy Factor: 
Whenever a filmmaker sets out to remake a beloved movie from the past, there's bound to be some resistance. Resistance is an understatement for what director Paul Feig (The Heat, Bridesmaids) has been up against ever since the announcement of his Ghostbusters remake. But, the film got made, and haters beware:...

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'The Infiltrator' is A Compelling Drama That Glosses Over a Few Too Many Details
Production: Acting: 
In the mid '80s, customs agent Robert Mazur took on the identity of Bob Musella, a wealthy Italian businessman, in order to gain the trust of and ultimately take down some of the biggest Latin American drug cartels. His story isn't well known, and his actions are glossed over because the War on Drugs is still...

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'The Purge: Election Year' Hides A Thinly Veiled Political Allegory Behind Walls Of Flying Bullets
Production: Action Sequences: 
Scary Factor: 
While The Purge and The Purge: Anarchy were both fairly disappointing, the concept behind the movies - that of a single night where any and all crime, including murder, is legal - is compelling enough for audiences to at least give each subsequent movie in the franchise a fair shot. Although it's still not exactly...

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Not Even Alexander Skarsgard's Abs Can Save The Dismal 'The Legend Of Tarzan'
Production: Action Sequences: 
What happens to Tarzan after he leaves the jungle and rejoins civilized society? What would life be like with Jane in late 19th Century London? These are some of the questions that could have easily propelled a movie like The Legend of Tarzan, and yet somehow we're stuck back in the jungle with a tired chase movie,...

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'Swiss Army Man' Prides Itself On Being Just As Weird As Everyone Says It Is
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
Some of the biggest buzz coming out of this year's Sundance Film Festival was centered on a little movie about a shipwrecked man who makes friends with a farting corpse. Now that it has gotten a wide release, everyone can see if Swiss Army Man lives up to all of the hype. The short answer; it's exactly as weird...

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'Wiener-Dog' Is A Dog Movie That Is Absolutely Not For Dog Lovers
Production: Acting: 
The rationale that writer/director Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse) gives for Wiener-Dog is simple; he had never made a dog movie. The title character in Wiener-Dog is a little dachshund who moves through a handful of different owners, each with their own story. The little canine's adventures include...

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Just When You Really Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Water, 'The Shallows' Makes Sharks Scary Again
Production: Acting: 
Scary Factor: 
Summer's here, and so is The Discovery Channel's Shark Week. So what better time for a good old-fashioned killer shark movie? Lucky for theatergoers everywhere, that's exactly what The Shallows is. The Shallows stars Blake Lively (The Age of Adaline) as a young medical student named Nancy who makes a pilgrimage...

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'The Neon Demon' Is As Visually Stunning And Aurally Exciting As A Plotless Movie Can Be
Production: Cinematography: 
Score & Soundtrack: Scary Factor: 
Director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives) claims that, with The Neon Demon, his aim was to create a "teen horror film...without the horror." That's as accurate of a description of the movie as one is bound to find. The Neon Demon is about an underage orphaned girl named Jesse (Elle Fanning from...

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'Therapy For A Vampire' Draws A Few Laughs, But Very Little Blood
Production: Comedy Factor: 
Scary Factor: 
Just when the vampire trend seemed to have been going the way of the zombie, last year's What We Do in the Shadows pumped new blood into the subgenre by embracing it lovingly and laughingly. Well, it may not hit quite as hard, but Therapy for a Vampire takes a swing at the same funny bone. Set in Vienna during...

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'The Conjuring 2' Is James Wan Doing What James Wan Does - Scaring The Hell Out Of People
Production: Cinematography: 
Scary Factor: 
It's been almost three years since director James Wan scared the pants off of audiences with The Conjuring. Ever since, fans have been waiting with bated breath for the sequel, and the spinoff Annabelle did little to satisfy their thirst for suspenseful scares. Well, the wait is over; The Conjuring 2 is here. After...

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'Warcraft' Is High Fantasy And Spectacle For A Very Particular Audience
Production: Action Sequences: 
Let's get this out of the way: the average moviegoer is going to have a hard time liking Warcraft. Its orc vs. human setup is the stuff that only works for those who buy into high fantasy, and the way it handles the material, servicing the fans first and foremost, will further distance casual audiences. This is...

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'Puerto Ricans in Paris' Can Take The Fish Out Of The Water, But It Can't Make Them Funny
Production: Comedy Factor: 
From Beverly Hills Cop to Hot Fuzz, people love fish-out-of-water cop movies. At least, they used to; there's not a whole lot to love about Puerto Ricans in Paris. Puerto Ricans in Paris is about a couple of New York City police detectives named Luis and Eddie (Luis Guzmán and Edgar Garcia, both from "How...

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'Mark Of The Witch' Stuns With Its Beauty, But Snoozes With Its Plot
Production: Scary Factor: 
Mark of the Witch is about a young woman named Jordyn (Paulie Rojas from The Last Resort) who was raised by her Aunt Ruth (Helter Skelter's Nancy Wolfe) from a very young age. Upon turning eighteen, Jordyn learns the truth about her parentage; she was not orphaned, her mother abandoned her, and Aunt Ruth has...

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'Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping' Is A Hilarious Spoof On The Self-Serious Concert Film
Production: Comedy Factor: 
Although most might not be familiar with the work of The Lonely Island, chances are they have heard at least one of the group's songs. Born from the "Digital Short" era of "Saturday Night Live," the trio of Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer have expanded to the big screen as separate entities but...

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'Monsterland' Lives Up To Its Name - All Monsters, All The Time
Production: Scary Factor: 
There are two ways to approach putting together a horror anthology. One is to hire a director, a cast, and a crew to go out and shoot everything from scratch. The other is to stick together a bunch of existing short films and hope that the results are coherent. Monsterland uses the second method and turns it...

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'X-Men: Apocalypse' Delivers All The Superhero Action That Audiences Crave, And Little Else
Production: Special Effects: 
Action Sequences: 
With all of the buzz surrounding the upcoming The Justice League movie (built up by all of the guest appearances in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) and the continuing saga of The Avengers (fed by all of the new heroes in Captain America: Civil War), it's easy to forget about the other superhero cash cow, the...

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Artsy And Surreal, 'The Lobster' Is The Most Fascinatingly Weird Comedy Of The Summer
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
Comedy Factor: 
There are movies that are weird because they're trying to be weird, and then there are movies that make weirdness look effortless. The Lobster is the latter. The Lobster takes place in a near-future world where people are not allowed to be single. When David (Colin Farrell from Fright Night) is suddenly left...

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Frame Of Mind

The MutilatorIn the wake of John Carpenter’s legendary Halloween and Sean S. Cunningham’s equally legendary Friday the 13th, film studios everywhere in the early eighties rushed to get their own psycho killer movies into theaters.  The era that has come to be known as the Golden Age of the Slasher saw dozens, if not hundreds, of splatter flicks released, each bloodier than the last, and many with exploitative names like The Prowler, Madman, and Maniac.  Fitting right in with the most stereotypically titled of the Golden Age Slashers is the 1984 schlock flick The Mutilator.

The Ghost TrainFrom the very beginning of cinematic history, there have been movies about trains.  One of the first “Actualitiés” by the Lumiére Brothers in 1895 was Arrival of a Train at la Ciotat.  In 1903, filmmaker Edwin S. Porter introduced the world to composite editing and location shooting with The Great Train Robbery.  The horror world has given audiences Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train and the seminal slasher Terror Train, as well as modern classics like Snowpiercer and Transsiberian.  And that’s just the tip of the symbolic iceberg – there have been plenty more, lesser-known train horror movies.  For example, in 1941, after Porter but before Hitchcock, a horrifying locomotive pulled into the station in the appropriately titled The Ghost Train.

Theatrical one-sheet for TICKLED, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.A lot of weird stuff can be found on the internet.  The general rule is that just about anything – and I do mean anything – is just a Google search away.  For example: who would have thought that Competitive Endurance Tickling was a thing?  Well, if you believe the new documentary Tickled, apparently it is.

Die, Monster, Die!For classic horror back in the day, there were basically two big studios; America had Universal Pictures and Great Britain had Hammer Film Productions.  But, there were also smaller companies that pumped out movies as well, one of which was American International Pictures, headed up by uber-producer Samuel Z. Arkoff.  AIP made and distributed B-movies, many of which fit squarely into the fright flick genre, from the mid-fifties right up until the company’s absorption in the early eighties.  In 1965, right at the apex of the company’s output, AIP distributed the classic British creepfest Die, Monster, Die!

Jack's BackNot only is Jack the Ripper one of the most famous and infamous killers of all time, he’s also a pretty good movie villain.  Whether the movie sticks relatively close to the true story, like Jack the Ripper, or takes things in a surreal mashup direction, such as in Edge of Sanity, Jack is always a fun antagonist.  A movie can even transport the slicey Brit into the future and still be effective.  Case in point: the eighties crime thriller Jack’s Back.

De PalmaWhether one considers him one of the freshest voices in modern cinema or just a hack Hitchcock imitator, there’s no doubt that Brian De Palma has made some of the most important movies of the last half century.  Now, fellow directors Noah Baumbach (Mistress America) and Jake Paltrow (“NYPD Blue”) turn the camera around on the iconic filmmaker in the simply titled documentary De Palma.

The ThingWhen it comes to horror remakes, there are two approaches that can be taken.  First is one of replication, where the filmmaker simply imitates the story and style of the original.  The recent remake of Carrie did this, as did the new rehash of Poltergeist (and don’t even get me started on Gus Van Sant’s Psycho).  The other way of thinking is to take the basic premise of the original and run with it until something new and different emerges.  These are the reboots that become legendary classics, movies such as David Cronenberg’s The Fly or Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac.  Horror icon John Carpenter’s 1982 reimagining of The Thing belongs squarely in this second category.

Don't Look in the BasementHorror movie titles can be so commanding, especially when they’re telling the viewer not to do something.  The word “Don’t” has appeared at the beginning of so many movie titles that silly director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Attack the Block) spoofed the trend in his hilarious contribution to the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez collaboration Grindhouse.  The “Don’t” movies can be subliminally cautionary, like Don’t Look Now.  They can be sagely advisive, like Don’t Open Till Christmas.  They can even wide-eyed and optimistic, like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.  But, most of the time, they’re exploitatively demanding, like Don’t Go Near the Park, Don’t Go in the House, or Don’t Answer the Phone!  Way back in 1973, one of the first movies to warn its viewers to “Don’t” do something was the proto-slasher Don’t Look in the Basement.

Warcraft PosterIn 1994, Blizzard Entertainment released the game "Warcraft: Orcs & Humans," which created a universe so popular the company created three more games in the series; the most widely known and arguably the most popular being "World of Warcraft (WOW)." The "WOW" phenomenon has had its ups and downs in popularity among gamers, but it continues to have a solid following. The most shocking part of the games' story is that it took over 20 years to have a movie based on them made. Warcraft has finally arrived, rolled up in an action-packed, CGI-filled fantasy spectacle that will surely have "WOW" devotees grinning from ear-to-ear.

 

Stephen King's ItWhether it’s a badge of honor or a sign of disrespect is up for debate, but it seems as if, for better or worse, every reasonably successful horror movie in history gets remade, some more than once.  Stephen King adaptations are no different; the superstar author’s first three books (Carrie, ‘Salem’s Lot, and The Shining) have all been made and remade (Carrie has gone through the reboot ringer twice).  Now, since the reimagining of It has finally gathered enough steam (and a director and cast) to go into production, it seems like as good a time as any for Cinema Fearité to take a look back at the scariest television miniseries of 1990: Stephen King’s It.

Dark HorseIn the sports world, the Green Bay Packers get a lot of attention for being fan-owned, as the NFL team has been possessed by shareholders for nearly an entire century.  The Packers may be the only community owned organization in American professional sports, but worldwide, the practice is fairly common, especially among football clubs (the type of football that Americans refer to as soccer).  A textbook example occurred in the early part of the twenty-first century when a group of British villagers pooled their money and bought a racehorse.  Their unlikely story is told in Dark Horse.

There's Nothing Out ThereIn 1996, the late, great Wes Craven re-energized the fledgling horror genre with his smart, self-referential classic Scream.  Craven found his inspiration two years earlier when, in 1994, he pulled back the curtain on filmmaking with the A Nightmare on Elm Street sequel/reboot Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.  Both of these movies recognized and reflected upon the workings of the horror movie genre as part of their overall makeup.  Well, when it comes to self-aware horror movies, the 1991 Troma-distributed, micro-budget horror comedy There’s Nothing Out There beat Craven to the punch by a few years.

Presenting Princess ShawIn New Orleans, an elder care worker named Samantha Montgomery writes songs, records them acapella, and uploads them to YouTube under the internet name Princess Shaw.  Half a world away in Israel, an eccentric musician named Ophir Kutiel, better known in the online world as Kutiman, scours the web for videos of musicians plying their craft and assembles them into “visual symphonies.”  Presenting Princess Shaw shows what happens when Kutiman discovers the raw talent of Princess Shaw and puts his unique musical polish on it.

Graduation DayIt’s graduation time, the point of the year where students switch the tassels over to the other side before tossing the whole cap into the air.  Cinema Fearité’s quest to remain timely is just as fervent as any recent grad's thirst for knowledge, so this week, we’ve got a movie that is both seminal and topical: the 1981 slasher Graduation Day.

**Read more from Frame Of Mind and the News Section**
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