Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III

1990 | dir: Jeff Burr | 81 m

Number three in the series feels more akin to a reimagining of the original film than a sequel as it follows the basic outline rather than treading new territory like the first sequel did years before. I guess in 1990 the original was sixteen years in the past, which by horror fanchise standards is old enough for a remake. Unfortunately, this feels rather like the other generic films of the decade; wherein with Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 which ventured into a creepy underground domain with our cannibal clan and added a healthy dose of camp, the third one goes straight serious yet can't match the match the shocking horror of the original. Indeed, I don't think anyone is actually killed with a chainsaw in this film; Leatherface is in the title yet does very little in this slog of a thriller. The film spends an inordinate amount of time running around in the dark and focusing on the shenanigans of the killer Sawyer family, which I think takes away some of the fear factor. Aside from young Viggo Mortensen's menacing turn as Tex, this is - by the end - a serviceable, entertainingly short sequel even if it does feel a bit lifeless.

Rating: 2 / 5

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

1986 | dir: Tobe Hooper | 101 m

While I found it difficult to sit through the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I did end up rating it quite highly. The big takeaway I had was the amount of screaming that dominated the last act of the film, and I found it exhausting to complete. I leveled a similar complaint against The Goonies when I watched it the first time: there just seemed to be sections of loud talking, yelling and general tomfoolery that overloaded my (apparently) old man sensibilities. It pleases me to report then, that the "screaming" of TCM2 was much more bearable. The film though, does not hold the same significance of the original, although I did enjoy watching it quite a bit: the sequel does not seem to take itself seriously, as it has a bit of surrealism that leans into comedy rather than the shock horror of the first. It's a good mix as we're treated to a zany performance by Dennis Hopper (that scene where he's shopping for chainsaws is out of this world) and a solid showing of the cannibalistic family, including Leatherface who shows he may have some more emotions behind that creepy skin mask. I have a feeling this sequel will be the best of the bunch, although I must continue onward through this franchise. This would be a great film to watch with friends: it's lighter, it has great gore effects, and just absurd enough events that everything comes together to make a satisfying film. 

Rating: 3 / 5

Batman: Hush

2019 | dir: Justin Copeland | 82 m

While I read the original comics that this movie is based on, you must know that I am not a reliable source; the memory of those comics are long forgotten and yes, I should have either read them before taking this on or maybe I should read them after and *before* I write this. But I'm not interested in making comparisons: I didn't grow up with Hush like I did some of the other iconics stories, such as Year One or Dark Knight Returns. I have enjoyed - for the most part - the DC animated features: it's always felt to me that they have their act together and are able to make coherent, concise stories that often excel past their live action attempts. It's no different here: we get the luxury of moving beyond the capabilities of live action just adding in so many of Batman's rogue gallery in such a short amount of time; they come and go to server their part in the story perfectly and in true comic book fashion. Hush elevates in its exploration of Bruce/Batman's relationships with his enemies, with a focus on Selena Kyle/Catwoman and mostly, it's rewarding.

What really felt a bit jarring (even that word may be too much) is some events and characters carrying their plot over from other DC films, like Lex Luthor (who is apparently part of the Justice League now). I know enough about the comic book world that I can understand and accept how that happened without an explanation in this feature, but I do feel as though I'm missing out on the bigger picture: DC is creating a universe akin to Marvel's Infinity Saga where all the movies are connected, even loosely, and the characters are carrying forth throughout. I would prefer entirely standalone stories, but can appreciate what they are doing for fans: in the end it's not a big enough negative to take away from the overall film but it is something that made me stop for a moment to text my friend asking for details (he being a more involved fan of these films). In the end I took the cheap way out in rating the film at an acceptable 50% and perhaps repeated viewings will see this number rise. As it stands, it's better than some of the more recent DC animated films and a good way to spend 90 minutes of movie watching time.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

2016 | dir: André Øvredal | 99 m

I don't know if it says more about me or about the horror industry that when I first heard about The Autopsy of Jane Doe, I immediately assumed necrophilia was going to play a large part in the plot. (Am I so out of touch? No, it's the children who are wrong.) I'm not sure why, exactly, but my mind kept trying to connect it with Deadgirl, a movie that involves some teenage boys, a zombie girl, and a whole lot of lube. Although, I'm not sure whether sex with somebody who's only mostly dead counts as necrophilia or it's really more of a grey area, zombiphilia. Either way, the point is The Autopsy of Jane Doe was actually nothing like Deadgirl, and I definitely don't have a fetish for corpses that can legally be proven in a court of law as far as you know. 

Men in Black: International

2019 | dir: F. Gary Gray | 115 m

The original Men in Black was a true highlight of the '90s and a joy that I would revisit often; I remember getting the soundtrack at the time when Danny Elfman could do no wrong. Yes, the movie seemed to mix every element into a perfectly fun adventure film that captured an essence that has yet to be reproduced in the ongoing franchise. Taking such a long hiatus from the third entry, International is met with some trepidation as my cynical self can't help but think that there wasn't more to tell in this universe, but there was more money to be made. And here we are, a new Men in Black film loaded with some exciting talent and all the latest CGI tricks to really make the world of hidden alien policing sing. It falls short, to say the least. It feels like they revisited the core formula of the first film: follow our character through their first adventure while they're led by a veteran in the organization, see some interesting aliens and save the world, but the chemistry between our two leads never materializes and I suspect it's because Hemsworth's Agent H is written as such a cocky jerk. We retread the same material - there's even a quick scene where Tessa Thompson's newbie Agent M sees a list of celebrity aliens. As we follow the same beats as the original, we're world-hopping now instead of driving around New York, and I'm feeling as empty as the CGI renditions on screen while left yearning for the practical effects of yesteryear. Despite all this, the movie is serviceable: it's an entertaining chunk of popcorn flick, but doesn't amount - nor strive - for anything more.

Rating: 2.5 / 5


2013 | dir: Joseph Kosinski | 124 m

It was love at first sight with Oblivion all those years ago in the theatre; enough so that I tried to delve headfirst into a proper review but failed spectacularly as I ended up with a shell of a review that failed to really deliver anything meaningful. It was deleted after a few weeks up on my site. Perhaps that review ran a parallel with the actual film: Oblivion is pure style with very little substance. It borrows heavily from other films and even back then I would say it's not necessarily a bad thing to do: the film really does mix together these elements to provide a satisfactory story with some nice sci-fi flourishes and made all the much better by the killer M83 soundtrack. Visiting this film again I was disappointed that I wouldn't give it the five star treatment. It runs a bit long, and truly is shallow: there's no great insight to be gleamed from the narrative, as it provides a window into a bleak future world where humanity is on the brink of destruction and only Cruise's character can save the day. But damn those drones are awesome. It has many of the right elements checked, but just doesn't achieve perfection.

Rating: 4 / 5

Ad Astra

2019 | dir: James Gray | 124 m

As Earth is plunged into disaster, Brad Pitt ventures into space to find his father, echoing a mixture of both 2001: A Space Odyssey and the more recent Interstellar. It ends up being a very solid film, but it lacked a certain "wow" factor that some other contemporary science fiction films have provided. Pitt turns in an excellent performance amid an intriguing story that never outstays its welcome - there is on scene that felt a bit forced, but the film runs at a near-perfect two hours and is satisfying in each act. What really got me excited was the depiction of this future; it feels grounded, realistic and doesn't venture into the outrageous, but more of an evolution of our current world. It will be worth rewatching just to pick up more details in these beautiful shots, and I have a feeling this will grow even better in time. This is the type of sci-fi I want to see on the big screen.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

The Blob

1988 | dir: Chuck Russell | 95 m

There's a poster floating around for this film that features a still from the movie wherein one of our characters is bursting toward you, covered in the slime of the blob itself: it always gave me the chills. There's really no excuse for taking so long to watch this, and I'm kicking myself after now just doing so for the first time, as this movie was an absolute blast. The film mixes together the ideal level of humour/hokiness with abject horror as we're treated to numerous on screen deaths that hit me harder than your typical gore film. The Blob is not afraid to push you around: it sets up characters and gives them personality, then pulls the rug out from under you with some of their gruesome deaths. Indeed, no one is safe here and the rules are set upon very early, which makes the rest of the film that much more intense. The special effects are absolutely incredible, with just a few shots that were clearly not given a priority - IMDb trivia tells me half the budget of the film was spent on special effects, and it really shows. I could easily see this film working it's way into an annual rotation.

Rating: 3.5 / 5


2018 | dir: Matthew Holness | 85 m

Watching Possum was very akin to ghost hunting in an old turn-of-the-century tuberculosis hospital, wherein the first little bit was very fun, but my mind wandered, gets tired, and I proceed to fall asleep in the morgue (except here I was at least on the comfort of a couch). The poster is absolutely brilliant and is enough to get you interested; the trailer promises an tense, heavy tone and pulls you in. The movie itself really failed to impress me though, and I'm hesitant to rate it poorly as I feel as though I'm at least partially to blame: being a little later at night (I didn't start this at midnight or anything though) and a long day behind me, I struggled to keep my eyes open throughout the short runtime, although I do feel as though I saw mostly what I needed. Everything moves slowly, creepily and for whatever reason could not get under my skin, although I can appreciate what they were going for. 

Rating: 1.5 / 5