Basket Case (1982)

This review was originally posted on Swampflix.com on April 8, 2017 The rating was 4.5/5 Stars, with a Camp Stamp. Image courtesy of Swampflix Editor Brandon Ledet.

EPSON MFP imageIn the annals of delightfully bad horror films, few can hold a candle to Frank Henenlotter’s 1982 freshman film Basket Case. Following the bloodthirsty trail of revenge left by a monstrous flesh sack and the (formerly conjoined) twin brother from whom he was untimely ripped, the film is weirdly disjointed but utterly charming, minus a tonally bizarre sexual assault that happens in the final moments. Continue reading “Basket Case (1982)”

The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito, 2011)

This review was originally posted on Swampflix.com on February 25, 2017. The rating was 4/5 Stars. Image courtesy of Swampflix Editor Brandon Ledet.

EPSON MFP imageWhen I went over to a friend’s house to watch a movie, he presented me with several recent rentals and let me pick one. “What’s this one?” “An early anti-western.” “And this one?” “Oh, that one’s really good, but I need to wait to watch that one with my girlfriend.” “What’s The Skin I Live In?” “It’s a horror film by Pedro Almodóvar.” So in.

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Don’t Breathe (2016)

This review was originally posted on Swampflix.com on September 15, 2016. The rating was 4/5 Stars. Image courtesy of Swampflix Editor Brandon Ledet.

EPSON MFP imageDon’t Breathe is quite the experience. It’s being touted as a return to form for the horror genre, and while it’s certainly memorable, tense, and well-acted, there’s a fine line between well-earned praise and overhype, and the promotion of this film may have already crossed that event horizon.

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Il fantasma dell’opera (aka The Phantom of the Opera, 1998)

This review was originally posted on Swampflix.com on October 28, 2015. The rating was 0.5/5 Stars. Image courtesy of Swampflix Editor Brandon Ledet.

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“When you hear my thoughts, you’ll know where to go.”

Oh. Oh my.

I was looking forward to Dario Argento’s 1998 adaptation of Phantom of the Opera with something like macabre excitement. After all, it was identified by TV Tropes, among others, as being widely regarded as the worst adaptation of that source material, in any media form, ever. Still, I expected that there would be something noteworthy or praiseworthy about it. After all, Phantom is a work with a huge body of reimaginings and revisions; Wikipedia lists twenty-eight different film adaptations (although some of these are homages rather than direct translations of the source), thirty stage versions, forty-six literary retellings, and an additional fourteen literary versions made for children. That doesn’t even include the radio plays, television shows, and comic books that retell or revisit the story. That’s no small feat, considering that the original novel was published barely over a century ago. Personally, I don’t quite understand the story’s enduring appeal, although that may simply be because I’ve never read the original novel, although I know the plot largely as the result of cultural osmosis through the various homages to the narrative that show up in other media from time to time. Such a large body of adaptations bespeaks a kind of fanaticism that made me question whether or not the “worst adaptation” moniker applied to Argento’s version was accurate or should be interpreted as a criticism on par with one made by Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. I expected that this might be the case, but I was wrong. I was so, so wrong.

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La Sindrome di Stendhal (The Stendhal Syndrome, 1996)

This review was originally posted on Swampflix.com on October 25, 2015. The rating was 4/5 Stars. Image courtesy of Swampflix Editor Brandon Ledet.

EPSON MFP imageAfter watching Trauma and seeing the premonitions of failure in Dario Argento’s later works that the film possessed, La Sindrome di Stendhal (The Stendhal Syndrome) was surprisingly refreshing in its successes. That’s not to say that Syndrome is perfect; there’s a lot wrong with this movie, including multiple sexual assaults, a killer with impenetrable motivations, some really bad effects, and disturbingly dark sexual politics. If you can overlook those problems, there’s a decent mystery here and a fresh twist, even if it is predicated on a skewed sense of gender dynamics and a warped understanding of trauma. This review, like this movie, is quite triggering with regards to sexual assault, so be warned. Also, spoilers.

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Mi mefakhed mehaze’ev hara (aka Big Bad Wolves, 2014)

This review was originally posted on Swampflix.com on September 26, 2015. The rating was 3.5/5 Stars. Image courtesy of Swampflix Editor Brandon Ledet.

(Trigger Warning: Child Abuse and Sexual Assault)

EPSON MFP imageWhat is a monster? We live in a world where we know, with a reasonable degree of certainty, that there are no vampires, no werewolves, no scarred demons with razor gloves stalking our dreamscapes with the power to make our nightmare deaths carry over into the waking world. Films featuring antagonists that no rational person could legitimately fear, like a children’s doll haunted by the soul of a serial killer or an evil leprechaun covered in carcinomas, belong to the realm of fantasy. Thus, contemporary horror often confines itself to the plausible, in many ways becoming more like thrillers than the traditional horror films of yore. Our modern monster has to be a person, someone who could be your neighbor or simply a fellow citizen who happens to be a stranger, capable of doing something monstrous. For the past couple of decades, this phantom has to be someone capable of committing that most heinous of crimes–child molestation and murder.

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