more movie reviews, o' course

I'm not feeling all that hot and I'm losing patience with myself for making typos, so this is all ya get this week. But, it's still free, so you can't complain.

Completely at random from the untyped-up archives, since I haven't watched a movie in a couple weeks (hooray for narcolepsy)...

After Hours
(C, 1985) A night in the life of the unluckiest man alive, as filmed by Martin Scorses, at his most atypical. An average office worker (Griffin Dunne) meets a girl (Rosanna Arquette) in a cafe, thinks she's cute, and calls her back. That's his first mistake in a hellish night of black comedy in which he's the only sane person and is thrust into one awkward situation after another. On the cab ride to Arquette's place, all his money flies out the window, leaving him stranded across town with no money. Arquette turns out to be beyond flakey, so he escapes from her. Lacking money for the subway, he does a favor for a bartender, and that goes really badly and his downwardly-spiraling night starts turning into a Moebius-strip of madness that all seems to be interconnected. If Cornell Woolrich wrote comedies, they'd turn out like this. Has funny moments, but works best as an absurdist horror film of sorts. A very strange, well-done puzzle of a film that went pretty much ignored (I blame the lame poster art). Scorsese basically made this as a palate-cleanser when The Last Temptation of Christ wasn't living up to his expectations, and he needed to do something simpler. Very underrated.

Atlas in the Land of the Cyclops (C, 1961) aka Altas Against The Cyclopes, Maciste Nella Terra dei Ciclopi, Monster From the Unknown World. The evil Queen Capys has far more cruelty than smarts, and kills one of her own men in a fit of I-have-been-displeased-ness, before he can give vital information about a toddler who escaped a massacre she'd ordered. Gordon Mitchell (as Maciste, not Atlas) becomes aware of the situation and sets out to save the day, battling the least-fearsome lion ever, holding up collapsing roofs, lifting carts, and carrying God's cookie jar! He also throws guys around, pushes huge rocks, bends steel bars, serves as a tug-of-war rope over a lion pit, brawls with an acrobatic muscleman (even using everybody's favorite old-school wrestling move, the Airplane Spin, even though the airplane wouldn't be invented for centuries), rows a galley ship all by himself, and fights a cyclops (the special effects are actually kinda impressive). There's another scene that I hope is a special effect with a rubber doll, but I'm afraid it wasn't because you can see the kid kick -- a guy holds a toddler upside down by one leg! There's a guy named Erroneous, and I don't think they're trying to be funny. One of the better peplum flicks, despite the lightweight plot.

You can watch the whole thing online, with some commentary by some guys who think they can do the MST3K thing (based on the few minutes I sat through, they can't, but that's okay 'cuz they don't know how to record themselves, either).

Dead is Dead (C, 1992) A drug dealer with an "I don't give a shit, just make it look like a helmet" haircut gets his arm torn off by an unseen monster int he woods while he's picking up a payoff. A girl grows his arm back with some blue liquid medicine they were experimenting with in an old hospital that burned down. He sells some of the medicine to a drug dealer, then kills him. The medicine brings him back to life and he goes out for revenge, using a tiny cap gun and some of the medicine that's gone bad and turned green, and will turn whoever takes it into a mindless zombie. This shot-on-video no-budget home-job starts out pretty well, but by the second half it loses all plot and people are just killing and re-killing each other in a slow, meandering blah.

Off The Beaten Path (C, 2004) Blair Witch-inspired shot-on-video horror about four amateur filmmakers investigating a story of a Satan-worshiping hermit named Jasper Hagen who did evil things in the backwoods. It deviates from the Blair Witch style by alternating regular filmmaking (establishing shots of their truck going down the road, etc.) with the point-of-view footage shot by the actors. They go out in the woods looking for cabins and spots were dead bodies were found. Deep in the woods they find inverted crosses and carvings on trees (it's typical stuff any metal kid would carve, but it freaks them out) and only the main guy wants to keep going; the others are all easily terrified. They press on and find some creepy abandoned cabins, a pentagrammed altar, and a book with crazy things written in it. Then it variates into an Evil Dead rip-off, but with much, much milder gore. It’s very amateurish and highly derivative, and screws up its “found footage” atmosphere with too many non-P.O.V. shots, and it’s obvious when the actors aren’t ad-libbing (when they do they sometimes come up with hilarious lines like “inverted crosses in the shape of a pentagram!”), but despite the limitations, it does still manage to generate a few moments of tension and spookiness, and is a whole lot better than most of the no-budget shot-on-video dreck that’s saturating the market. But, that’s faint praise indeed. If you loved Blair Witch and aren’t picky, you’ll probably welcome this one. Only an hour long. Found on the Decrepit Crypt of Nightmares 50 DVD pack.

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