Movie Reviews: “The Blob” (1988)

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I’ve always enjoyed the original 1950’s “The Blob” but today I just fell in love with the 80’s remake! What an awesome movie! The effects are the centerpiece of this film as they are just outstanding & creative. A lot of hard work went into creating the giant slimy unstoppable killing machine.

The script is hilarious, cheesy, and entertaining as hell. Not a dull moment to be had. It was fun to spot actors from other films. For example, the Sheriff in this is played by a much younger Jeffrey DeMunn, Dale from AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” I spotted Jack Nance from “Twin Peaks” & Art LaFleur who looks a lot like the Doctor from the original “Blob.” Hmm…

This blows the original 50’s version away. (Sorry Steve McQueen.) I can’t imagine any studio today even considering remaking it again. You cannot CGI the blob! Once a concept has been fleshed out and made the best it can possibly be, even if it’s dated, it should be left alone to stand on its own for future generations. This is one of those films. A must see. I’m kicking myself for not seeing & enjoying this my first 29 years of existence, but also thanking myself for saving it to see something potentially great this late in life.

4.0 out of 4.0 stars

Movie Reviews: “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978)

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Starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, & Leonard Lemoy.

The plot for this 1978 remake is very similar to the 1956 version. Sutherland plays Matt Bennell, a man who works for the Department of Health. When his co-worker friend (and secret love interest) Elizabeth complains that her husband is acting strange, the two of them start to notice that many other people are complaining of the same problem, that their loved ones are not really their loved ones.

I think where this remake shines most is in the last half where they try to flee the terror. It really builds on what the 56′ version started. It’s tense as hell, more violent, and more sophisticated. Sutherland makes a great horror lead. I wish he had done more films like this.

While plot remains mostly the same, this remake has a very different vibe from the 56′. It’s a perfect remake in that it takes the story and makes it it’s own without trying to be the original. It also has a bigger budget. Entire streets are lined with “them” chasing our heroes. Police, businessmen, women, children etc all transformed and on the prowl.

Lastly I think that the ending of this film is one of cinemas great endings. It’s truly memorable and shocking. Its even been parodied on “Family Guy.” What does that tell you? All in all, this stands alone, and on par with the original. This is what all remakes should aspire to be.

4.0 out of 4.0 stars.

Movie Reviews: “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956)

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Starring Kevin McCarthy & Dana Wynter.

They want you to go to sleep. The alien pods slowly transform into you, disintegrating your old body, as you dream into death. The new body wakes up emotionless and carries on, wanting to transform the others. Dr. Bennell discovers this in his small community of Santa Mira, CA. He flees with Becky, his life long love. What will happen to that love if one, or both of them is taken? They must stay awake. They must fight it, but who can they trust?

“Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is my favorite sci-fi horror film from the 1950’s. The story is like a curtain being slowly pulled back until the realization is made that these things are for real and they want to take over. It’s an intense film filled with a multitude of emotions. Fear, sadness, love, hate. All the things that make us who we are, and are all about to be taken away.

McCarthy is awesome in the lead. First as the mild mannered, suave Dr. Bennell, and later on, a frantic man fighting for his life, and humanity itself. Some of the final scenes where he is chasing down cars on the highway yelling & pleading for help “They’re coming! You’re next!” are fantastic and iconic!

There’s one scene in the final act of the film that may be the single most chilling shot in all of cinema. I won’t spoil it though. You’ll know it when you see it!

“Invasion” has been remade 3 times now. None of the remakes top the original. They just can’t. However, one of them, the 1978 remake is fantastic and may be as good as the original in its own way. I plan on reviewing that next. If you haven’t seen this 1956 version, then make it the priority over all the other “Invasion” remakes. It’s a classic American film.

4.0 out of 4.0 stars.

Movie Reviews: “Sound of My Voice” (2011)

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Directed by Zal Batmanglij.
Starring Brit Marling, Christopher Denham & Nicole Vicius.
Written by Brit Marling & Zal Batmanglij.

Peter, a journalist, and his writer girlfriend Lorna integrate themselves into an underground cult led by Maggie, who claims to come from the year 2054.

Maggie is gentle, hypnotic, detailed, direct and subtly demanding, telling the followers that all the “choices are theirs.” It’s creepy, yet as a viewer, rejecting her openness makes me feel sad. Brit Marling portrayed the futuristic leader perfectly in ways that words can’t do justice. It’s a masterful performance.

This film works on parallel levels. Is she for real? Is she a fraud? What are the consequences of each? How deep will Peter & Lorna allow themselves to get to document this?

“Sound of My Voice” is gorgeously shot and performed, and written with a wide mind. It was a surprise gem with a conclusion that haunts me to this very moment. My brain is still philosophizing the events and rolling over the details. The best films do that to us.

3.5 out of 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “Pandorum” (2009)

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Starring Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, and Norman Reedus.

Two astronauts, Lt. Payton and Cpl. Bower, awaken from a multi year hyper sleep aboard a large spacecraft with no memory of who they are, or why they are there. They must band together to find answers, and to fight the creatures that are hunting them. As more questions get answered, the more they realize how important the original mission is.

I found this to be very disorienting at times to watch. It’s edited strange. Sometimes the action scenes are sped up, almost as in a fast forward, dvd skip motion. The story was basic and understandable, but the editing was very confusing.

The creatures look awesome. Great makeup and suits. Much better than CGI. The set work is fantastic, ranging from flashy futuristic to gritty industrial.

So, this was an okay movie. More action than horror. If you can look past the editing, or if that sort of thing doesn’t bother you, then check it out, it’s not bad.

2.5 out of 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “Heavy Metal” (1981)

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Produced by Ivan Reitman.
Featuring the voice work of: John Candy, Eugene Levy, Harold Ramis, and Joe Flaherty.

“Heavy Metal” is a 1980’s adult cartoon anthology. I wish more of these were made!

The segments are mature, but uniquely told in animation form. They’re dark and full of imagination. Stories range from deep space, to the past, on board a WW2 fighter jet, to the future. The best way to describe “Heavy Metal” is an American version of an adult Japanese Anime. If that sounds good to you, then give it a watch.

3.0 out of 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “The Hidden” (1987)

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Starring Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Nouri, Chris Mulkey, Lin Shaye, and Clu Gulager.

FBI Agent Lloyd Gallagher (MacLachlan) is on the hunt for a space alien serial killer who constantly inhabits new bodies, changing its identity along the way. Gallagher finally knows which the body the alien is in, and recruits a local police detective to help stop the creature before it morphs again. Gallagher reveals that this issue is more than personal to him because the creature killed his partner, his wife and his daughter.

This was a lot of fun. “The Hidden” has it all. Explosions, car chases, guns, emotion, suspense, and humor! This should appeal to just about anyone. Awesome cast and a very smart story. Kyle MacLachlan in particular is great in this, and very reminiscent of his role as Agent Dale Cooper in “Twin Peaks.” Overall, I call this film a big win!

3.5 out of 4 stars.