The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Starring Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Yorick van Wageningen, Joely Richardson, Geraldine James

Directed by David Fincher

Expectations: Low. I’m expecting the same reaction as the original, but hopefully Fincher can do something with it that excites me.


Didn’t I already write a review for this movie? Oh yeah, I did. The American version and the original Swedish adaptation of Steig Larson’s explosively popular novel are nearly identical, and therefore I feel almost exactly the same about both of them. There are some minor differences that allowed me to follow certain aspects of the story better in this version, but there were also underplayed moments where I only knew what was going on because I had already seen the Swedish version. This leads me to believe that the target audience for the American remake is specifically people who read the book, but didn’t want to see the Swedish film. And this gets me to the main reason I think this film exists: Americans don’t want to read subtitles. But you knew that already.

I wasn’t shy about my indifference to the original Dragon Tattoo film, and while Fincher’s version is a more entertaining version of the story, there’s just something inherently fucked up about remaking a movie that was literally just made. From an artistic standpoint, it’s pointless; the story has already been realized in the modern era and anything that Fincher added is minor to the point of meaningless. The biggest boon for this version is Trent Reznor’s score which amps up the tension perfectly in spots, but at other times it sticks out and forces its coolness on the audience without much impact.

Continue reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) →

Reboot (2012)

Starring Emily Somers, Travis Aaron Wade, Martin Copping, Sonalii Castillo, Janna Bossier, Troy Vincent, Charlie Weirauch, Traci Moslenko, Justin M. Via

Directed by Joe Kawasaki

Expectations: High, the trailer was great.


In the modern age, horror films rarely scare or provide anything we haven’t seen before. The genre has moved into satiating viewers with extreme, sadistic pleasures, instead of interesting ideas and fun scares. But in Reboot, Joe Kawasaki’s Kickstarter-funded, cyberpunk short film, he sets his sights on something truly horrific: Internet terrorism. I have no idea if what is outlined in the film is actually possible, but the idea alone is frightening. Reboot isn’t truly a horror film, but its implications will haunt your thoughts for days as you log into your social media accounts and take it all for granted.

Reboot begins with an intro reminiscent of Koyaanisqatsi, showing us wonderful time-lapse photography of Los Angeles while a radio interview with a couple of hackers plays over the top of it. This intro goes on a little longer than I think it needed to, but it does set up the premise of the film incredibly well. When the title card drops at the end of the intro, and we fade into our heroine lying on the floor with an iPhone glued to her hand, we know exactly the implications of the situation she’s in.

Continue reading Reboot (2012) →

The Hitcher (1986)

Starring Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jeffrey DeMunn, John M. Jackson, Billy Green Bush, Jack Thibeau, Armin Shimerman, Gene Davis

Directed by Robert Harmon

Expectations: High.


Calling The Hitcher a horror film is a stretch, but as it mostly trades in tension and suspense, and it features an ample amount of gore FX, I think it’s horrific enough to qualify. And let’s not forget all the wonderful explosions and car crashes, of which there are many. Yeah, The Hitcher is just as dope as everyone has led me to believe. Some stupid story elements hold it back from being pure gold, but these moments were never enough to quiet my love for the film. It’s a tense ride, and my predominant reaction to the film was, “Oh shit!” Seriously, every time I thought the main character was getting the upper hand there would come a glorious “Oh shit!” moment, and then Rutger Hauer would assert himself as the true badass of the film.

C. Thomas Howell is driving down a desert road late at night and is finding it hard to stay awake. Thinking it will help him remain conscious, he picks up a hitchhiker (Rutger Hauer) who quickly goes from nice to sadistic asshole. When Howell finds an opportunity to ditch Hauer, he takes it, and it starts a movie-long feud between the two that lasts until the bitter end. Hitchhiking fell out of favor a while ago, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this film had something to do with that, much like Jaws deterred people from the ocean waters.

Continue reading The Hitcher (1986) →

Sisters (1973)

Sisters (1973)
AKA Blood Sisters

Starring Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt, Charles Durning, William Finley, Lisle Wilson, Barnard Hughes, Mary Davenport, Dolph Sweet

Directed by Brian De Palma

Expectations: Moderate, but I’m very hopeful.


Well, if there was ever any doubt that Brian De Palma loves Hitchcock, you’d only have to watch Sisters to realize that he not only loves him, he wants to be him… or at least make movies like him. Unlike many people, I have hardly seen any of De Palma’s films, mostly because the ones I have seen didn’t do a lot for me. But as I see this year’s free-form Horrific October as an opportunity to scratch off a lot of movies that have been on my Watch List for years (among other things), the idea of watching one of De Palma’s most celebrated films sounded like a blow out of an idea. Har-dee-har, and no, I haven’t seen that one either.

Sisters is the kind of movie that even starting to discuss the plot will spoil too much. Let’s just say that a man and a woman meet, they go to her apartment, and things happen from there. Sisters isn’t specifically a horror film, it’s really more of a thriller, but it would be wrong to completely discount it from the genre. The Hitchcock influence is abundant and overflowing, but it’s all by way of a much trashier, exploitation-esque vibe. Sisters is definitely not an exploitation film, but Hitchcock would have never dealt with such lurid subject matter as the central story of Sisters does. Nor would he have shown violence this visceral and intense. The blood may not flow freely throughout Sisters, but when it does it makes you jump back and wince in pain.

Continue reading Sisters (1973) →

Stephen reviews: Red Spectacles (1987)

Red Spectacles [紅い眼鏡, Akai Megane] (1987)

Starring Shigeru Chiba, Machiko Washino, Hideyuki Tanaka, Tessho Genda, Mako Hyodo, Yasuo Otsuka, Hideyo Amamoto

Directed by Mamoru Oshii


I ended my review of Stray Dog, the second film in the Kerberos Saga, with the hope that Red Spectacles would offer more of anything. I guess you really should be careful what you wish for, because I got a lot more all right. This first film in the series has plenty of activity to keep my attention, but note I say “activity,” not “action.” Mostly, what I got more of is that inexplicable campy humor that cropped up from time to time in Stray Dog. Not that Red Spectacles is billed as a comedy, or that it really tries to be, but you have to laugh when the main character is ambushed in the shower and takes out an entire squad of armed men with exaggerated wrestling moves while butt naked. This also marks the only time I have ever seen a slow pan from feet to head of a man taking a shower instead of a woman.

There is one great action scene at the beginning of the film, where three of those armored Kerberos members get assaulted by a veritable army of gang members. Sure, it has “B-movie” written all over it, but it’s a wonderfully arranged scene with tons of clever moments. And when they finish, they take stock of how much ammo they have left. The first has 30 rounds left, the second just five, and the last guy says, “I have one, that is, in my gut.” Then he keels over from his injury. Can you honestly say that isn’t fantastic?

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Red Spectacles (1987) →

Taken (2008)

Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, David Warshofsky, Holly Valance, Katie Cassidy, Xander Berkeley, Olivier Rabourdin, Gérard Watkins, Famke Janssen

Directed by Pierre Morel

Expectations: Very high. I’ve seen it before.


Like Liam Neeson’s character in the film, Taken is a quick-moving, no-bullshit, relentless force. With this film, director Pierre Morel has crafted one of the best modern action movies that didn’t come out of Asia, and watching it for the second time didn’t diminish its impact much at all. When I first checked this one out, about four years ago, I hadn’t seen a fantastic action movie in what seemed like forever. So when Taken took control of my senses and didn’t let go for a solid 90 minutes, I was very much impressed. This time around, I’m a different person. I now have a website, and through it I have rediscovered my love of Hong Kong action cinema, so this viewing of Taken was through slightly different glasses.

Taken is about an ex-government operative (Liam Neeson), whose job caused him to be away from his family most of the time. He’s now estranged from his wife and he barely knows his daughter. In an effort not to be an overprotective asshole, Neeson agrees to allow his daughter to travel to Paris, against his better judgment. And like a true gentleman, he never says “I told you so” when she and her friend get kidnapped within their first hour on the ground in France.

Continue reading Taken (2008) →

Trespass (1992)

Starring Bill Paxton, Ice T, William Sadler, Ice Cube, Art Evans, De’voreaux White, Bruce A. Young, Glenn Plummer, Stoney Jackson, T.E. Russell, Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, Hal Landon Jr.

Directed by Walter Hill

Expectations: As the final film of Ice Fest, I’m excited and a little sad it’s all over.


As soon as Trespass started, I couldn’t contain my excitement. The opening scene seemed designed specifically for me in this moment, as the second line in the film is spoken by Ice Cube, quickly followed by a line from Ice T. The scene is a series of close-ups as Ice T and his associates watch a video of one of their friends being murdered, intercut with the credits of the film. The structure of the scene builds excitement as you start piecing together the story that will play out for your enjoyment, but obviously for me there was another, more pressing agenda. Seeing Ice Cube and Ice T together in one film after eight solo films was too much for me to handle. No matter what the dramatic weight of the scene was, I couldn’t help myself. I had the biggest grin on my face and I was hooting with glee. The two Ices had finally joined forces. “Life is good,” I said to myself. And the best part of this story is that the movie that followed this pure, giddy joy was awesome.

After this opening scene we meet our two main characters, a couple of firefighters played by William Sadler and Bill Paxton. While attempting to save “Ted” Theodore Logan’s dad (Hal Landon Jr. for the non-Bill & Ted’s fans) from a burning building, Paxton acquires a package containing a golden Celtic cross and a newspaper clipping about an old Catholic church robbery. There’s also a map inside, so Paxton shows his buddy and they decide that treasure hunting for a million dollars worth of gold sounds a hell of a lot better than slaving away at the firehouse for the rest of their lives. The only caveat is that the building the map leads them to is deep in the bad part of town, and the situation quickly escalates to violence.

Continue reading Trespass (1992) →

Subscribe via Email!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 81 other subscribers

Ongoing Series

Top Posts & Pages