James Debello

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Dorm Daze Review


Terrible
National Lampoon used to be a name associated with juvenile yet genuinely funny comedies like Animal House and Vacation. But don't stop reading just yet: National Lampoon is actually still around!

Sadly, today's Lampoon is pretty much a factory for terrible teen sex comedies, few of which I daresay you'll have heard of. They have names like Senior Trip, Repli-Kate, and Golf Punks. In recent years only Van Wilder has merited a theatrical release.

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Crime Punishment In Suburbia Review


Grim
If you're seeking enlightenment on what you think would be a modern reverberation on the timeless Fyodor Dostoyevsky masterpiece, don't be misled by Crime + Punishment in Suburbia. While the film opens with a quotation from Crime and Punishment, which, I suppose, is intended to lead us to a new interpretation of the book, that's the only (tenuous) connection. In the novel, the protagonist, Raskolnikov, rebels against the morality imposed on him by a society and kills an innocent woman. He later discovers that the worst punishment for the murder was the one his guilty conscience made him to endure. And perhaps, if you concentrate hard enough, the suffering Raskolnikov could conceivably parallel that of a pudgy adolescent Roseanne (Monica Keena, ex of Dawson's Creek), one of the main characters in the movie.

Completed before American Beauty, this artificial little movie resembles it in every way possible, mainly because it examines the very same set of stereotypes about malfunctioning wealthy suburbanites. Vincent (Vincent Kartheiser), a sallow loner, follows Roseanne everywhere with his camera. Given the privilege to provide voice-over for most of the film, we hope that he is the voice of wisdom, or at least revelation in the story. Far from it: His philosophy is one of a self-possessed New Age spiritual guru who is convinced he can save Roseanne from hell she is living in. What Ricky was able to see with his lens in American Beauty revealed the hidden layers of human behavior. Vincent, by comparison, as well as the whole ensemble of characters in Crime + Punishment, goes through the plot's twists and turns without a single coherent thought in his head.

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Cabin Fever Review


Excellent
There once was a time in movie history when party-hardy kids would head into the woods and get their heads bashed in by some masked psycho. Ah, the good old days. Writer/director Eli Roth remembers that time fondly with his no-apologies, balls-to-the-wall, blood-splattering thriller that recalls a time when Leatherface massacred in Texas and Jason spooked Camp Crystal Lake.

Cabin Fever doesn't just look like -- or mock -- those late '70s/early '80s horror thrillers; it actually is one. Roth takes his source material and deftly adds layers, with the result being something eerily familiar and yet altogether original.

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Detroit Rock City Review


Weak
Twenty years before Marilyn Manson put on ladies' makeup and frightened the crap out of mothers around the nation, a little band called KISS pioneered the idea, and played some good music as a bonus.

While KISS was a few years before my rock & roll prime, they were still quite popular when I was in school, and tales/rumors of Gene Simmons' cow tongue, blood splitting, backwards-masked lyrics, and the infamous "Knights In Satan's Service" moniker were the stuff of legend.

Continue reading: Detroit Rock City Review

Detroit Rock City Review


Grim

In 1978, those gratifying but decidedly untalented hard-rock circus clowns known as KISS made a rotten yet strangely enjoyable Z-grade sci-fi flick called "KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park."

In it, the leather and spike-attired, goth-metal band members pathetically cue-carded their way through hero roles in which their famous greasepaint gave them superpowers which they used to battle alien invaders at an amusement park in between terribly staged songs. But they knew the movie stunk. The audience knew the movie stunk. It was part of the fun.

Twenty-one years later comes "Detroit Rock City," another KISS-centric movie that focuses -- wisely or unwisely, take your pick -- on the band's sadly dimwitted, white trash fan base instead of on the band itself.

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