Tom Atkins

Tom Atkins

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My Bloody Valentine 3-D Review


Good
When slasher films dominated the local theater chains way back in the '80s, holidays seemed to be the sensible starting place to develop your fear franchise. Halloween had proven profitable, and Friday the 13th definitely scared up big bucks. So why not milk the rest of the festival calendar and see what transpires? Sadly, for every April Fool's Day, there was a Happy Birthday to Me.

For a long time, a cult has centered around one of the era's most talked about titles: My Bloody Valentine. With most of its violence cut out and a "blue collar" perspective on the carnage, it remains for many a good time guilty pleasure. Now Lionsgate has seen fit to remake the movie, using an old '50s gimmick as a selling point -- and you know what, it works like a blood-spattered charm.

Continue reading: My Bloody Valentine 3-D Review

Lemon Sky Review


Excellent
You can't choose your family. And even if you could, chances are all the good ones would already be taken. So, as young Alan (Kevin Bacon) learns in this film presentation of Lanford Wilson's play, you might as well try to squeak by until the dysfunction reaches critical mass.

Alan is a hopeful young man in a hopeless situation. After years estranged from his father Doug (Tom Atkins), he heads to San Diego for a long overdue reunion with the hope of starting anew. But as soon as he arrives, he sees that things are different in this late-1950s household. His new stepmother Ronnie (Lindsay Crouse), is warm and welcoming, but the house is already full and brimming with conflict.

Continue reading: Lemon Sky Review

Escape From New York Review


Excellent
The idea of Manhattan being transformed into a maximum security prison isn't much of a stretch. Many New Yorkers already feel as though they're in jail every day, surrounded by monolithic skyscraper walls. John Carpenter imaginatively stretched that premise in his cult classic, Escape from New York. In his alternate version of 1997, the Big Apple is a cityscape jail. The rules are simple. Once the inmates are shipped in, they don't get out. The bridges are mined. The waterways are watched over by sweeping helicopters. The police force, like an army, is encamped on Liberty Island and the outer boroughs.

That's exciting enough, but Carpenter also calculates in a ticking time bomb narrative device. Air Force One is hijacked by some socialist radicals who crash-land the plane into the heart of "this inhuman dungeon of [an] imperialist prison." The President (Donald Pleasence) manages to escape in a safety pod, only to be captured by none other than the leader of a ferocious band of gypsies who control the island, the self-proclaimed Duke of New York (Isaac Hayes).

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Bruiser Review


Good
A revenge fantasy in the E.C. horror comics tradition, George A. Romero's Bruiser is about Henry Creedlow (Jason Flemyng, Snatch), a Joe Average company man whose anonymous working life has made him invisible to peers and loved ones. His wife has been using him for his upwardly mobile financial status while cheating behind his back. His co-worker and best buddy has been skimming the profits, secretly preventing Henry from earning his fair share. Worst of all is the boss, Miles Styles (Peter Stormare, Fargo), a loud, obnoxious boor who enjoys ritualistically humiliating everyone at board meetings -- a character so smirkingly piggish and cruel it's a wonder God hasn't struck him dead. Henry discovers that nice guys finish last, and when he wakes up one morning to discover his face has magically transformed into a featureless white mask, he uses the anonymity once used against him as a device for smooth, calculated vengeance against all who have done him wrong. It's The Invisible Man gone corporate.

Romero hasn't been able to get a feature film off the ground since 1993's The Dark Half, which is really too bad. He's one of the more distinctive filmmakers working within the horror genre, having made his start with the black-and-white classic Night of the Living Dead in 1968. That was a pioneer for modern horror as gruesome satire, followed up by the arguably superior Dawn of the Dead (where the zombie invasion was set against the backdrop of a shopping mall). Fans of Romero will be pleased to see him back to his old preoccupations. Bruiser could be viewed as an extension of the identity crisis in Martin, Romero's ambivalent portrait of a young man who may or may not be a vampire.

Continue reading: Bruiser Review

The Fog (1980) Review


Good
Pretty brilliant notion from John Carpenter: Combine scream queens Adrienne Barbeau and Jamie Lee Curtis with old-school actors like John Houseman and Hal Holbrook. Here they come together in a story about a fog that invades a seaside town, carrying with it hooded killers. Excellent mixture of genuine frights, misdirection, and old-fashioned bloodshed. One of Carpenter's best.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch Review


Unbearable
It's almost understandable that John Carpenter made Halloween III without Michael Myers -- or any actual reference to the first two films. Why? Well, Mikey burned to a crisp at the end of Halloween II. And lord knows, people can't just get back up and start killing after they burn into oblivion. The story this time out involves an evil toymaker, cursed masks, and the potential death of every child hunting for Halloween candy. The masks have little bits of one of the rocks from Stonehenge in them. If only our hero can stop the "kill" signal from being sent to the masks on Halloween night!

Continue reading: Halloween III: Season of the Witch Review

Out of the Black Review


Good
Karl Kozak turns in a credible and promising directorial performance with Out of the Black, a pot-boiling drama about a decaying mining town and the nefarious behaviors of its denizens.

The film finds us in rural Pennsylvania, where angsty twentysomething Cole Malby (Tyler Christopher) and his quiet brother Patrick (Jason Widener) butcher meat and fix electronics in order to pay for a life filled with beer drinking and hell raising. What's with all the hair tearing? Their father died in a mine explosion 13 years in the past. An accident? Or does Cole remember veiled threats and a gunshot when he visited his pop on that fateful day? Even worse was when the young Cole took a shot at his abusive old man, hitting mom (Sally Kirkland) instead.

Continue reading: Out of the Black Review

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