Films I Saw in July 2021

Films I Saw is a self explanatory monthly column dedicated to cataloging each and every film I saw within that month. Each film will be given a grade and a mini review.

July. 1—Hi Diddle Diddle (1943)

On a recent episode of the Pure Cinema Podcast, Quentin Tarantino gushed about this movie for what seemed like twenty minutes. He talked about how funny Adolphe Menjou was, how clever the dialog is and the animation filled ending, which I believe he called “spectacular”. I’ve been tricked by Tarantino’s enthusiasm many times before but this takes the cake in terms of head scratching. Even the boringist shit he raves about has at least something about it I can see what he’s attracted to. I watched this entire film with the same expression I have after reading a New York Times comic. Nonplussed and unamused. I didn’t find the plot interesting, the characters memorable or the jokes funny. There was a bit of back and forth I found mildly amusing but that’s it. Tarantino, you done got me again.

Grade: D+

July. 2—No Sudden Move (2021)

Based on the cast alone, this easily should’ve been my favorite movie of the year. I wanted to see this so bad, I signed up for HBOMAX just to see it. Y’all can have your Space Jams, your Wonder Womans and your Justice Leagues, this was all I needed. Throw Steven Soderberg into the mix AND a period crime caper story on top of that and you have a can’t miss formula. All of that shit is firmly in my wheelhouse and yet, there’s something about this I didn’t connect to. I liked Don Cheadle and Benicio Del Toro’s chemistry, I loved seeing Bill Duke, Ray Liotta and Brendan Fraser in supporting roles and I even liked the story for the most part. I don’t think it being slow is my main issue. I watch slow shit all the time, I’ve built up a tolerance. I think what it is, is that I just didn’t care about anything that was happening at any given time. I think Cheadle is great as the lead but if he was more of the focal point, I think I could’ve latched on to him and then cared whether or not he succeeded. But since he feels like just another character in a sea full of characters, I didn’t have an entry point. I wanted to see the story unfold and I wanted to see what would happen to the characters but I also wasn’t invested enough in any of them to root for them, if that makes sense. This feels like the middle book in a long series of books based on Cheadle’s character and I’d much rather have seen those films instead.

Grade: C-

July. 3—The Punk Singer (2013)

As a punk fan, I feel kind of embarrassed by my lack of knowledge of Kathleen Hanna. For one thing, I definitely should’ve known she was married to one of the fucking Beastie Boys, which is one of my favorite bands. That was mind blowing to me. It’s as if I had just found out the lead singer of the Pixies married Glenn fucking Danzig. But that’s just one of many revelations I found about the singer. Lead singer and founder of the band Bikini Kill, Hanna was a punk rocking activist who pioneered the “riot grrrl” movement of the 1990s and is indirectly a huge influence on grunge. She’s the one who wrote “Kurt Cobain Smells Like Teen Spirit”, inspiring the song and was instrumental in getting Cobain into the scene in the first place. She’s had a fascinating career and life and is honestly an inspiration but her battle with lime disease is truly the heart of the movie. Watching her grapple with the fact that she’s a prisoner of her own body, a body that prevents her from doing the one thing she loves to do (perform live in front of an audience), is soul crushing. The entire documentary could just be about her day to day struggles and it would be compelling but the fact that she changed the landscape of music and then was robbed the opportunity to do it the way that she wants to, makes it a must watch.

Grade: B+

July. 4—Man Vs. (2015)

Bear Grylls vs the Predator is a solid premise for a movie but the film has two huge glaring issues that kill why potential it might have. For one thing, the choice to make their Grylls analog incompetent kinda defeats the purpose of the film. Chris Diamantopoulos is good in the role (for the most part) but it’s far less interesting seeing someone who fakes his way through episodes go up against an Intergalactic killer than it is seeing someone who might actually stand a chance against it. The second, and most egregious error is, that the CGI in this is PS1 cutscene level bad. That’s not hyperbole. It’s hilariously, distractedly bad. If you think the poorly rendered The Rock at the end of The Mummy Returns ruined that film, you ain’t seen nothing yet. It’s so bad, you wonder why they made the film in the first place.

Grade: F+

July. 5—Fear Street Part One: 1994 (2021)

These movies are not made for me. I am not the target demo and I did not read the books as a kid. They’re also not my type of horror movie. The constant needle drops are infuriating, the narrative inconsistencies are maddening (the lead gets stabbed in the stomach with a large knife twice within the span of five hours and the film pretends it never happened), the homages are lame, the characters are either annoying, forgettable or both and the overall, it just feels like it’s trying too hard to be hip and cool. It’s made for tweens who grew up on Stranger Things but since it’s rated R, it has a slight edge. No nudity in three movies but tons of bloody violence. These movies aren’t for me but goddamn it, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy them. The first is the most eye rollingly annoying but around the half way point, it started doing interesting things and I kinda wanted to see where this story was headed. It got me to check out the other two, so mission accomplished.

Grade: C

July. 6—Fear Street Part Two: 1978 (2021)

Since the majority of this is a slasher set at a summer camp, it’s no surprise it’s my favorite. It also has less than half the amount of needle drops, there’s only one character in this I disliked and the humor didn’t make me cringe so hard, I wanted to rip my skin off with pliers. It still has a ton of issues (the melodrama between every character was unnecessary and Max from Stranger Things is a bit of a drip as the lead) but this is the only one of the three where I think the good far outweighs the bad. I also really like the killers mask in this. It’s like a sunken in burlap sack. It’s cool. There’s not much to say about this one and that’s exactly why I like it. It’s just a slasher movie and that’s all I wanted it to be.

Grade: C

July. 7—Maya (1989)

Maya, like most of the horror films I watched this month, is a build up to the last twenty minutes. I honestly don’t remember much about this film outside of the last act. I know the plot revolves around an ancient Mayan curse set at a Day of the Dead festival that somehow manifests in ghosts and a serial killer. I’m shaky on parameters of the curse (I don’t think they ever explain the why and the how), I just know it’s violent as hell. There’s a scene involving a poor woman’s nose being crushed against a bathtub that’s brutal. It’s an effect far too good for this film. The rest of the kills are nowhere near that good or memorable but there are quite a few of them. If you’ve exhausted all other slasher options and you’re looking for something new, go into Maya with low expectations and it might surprise you.

Grade: D

July. 8—Killing Spree (1987)

After Truth or Dare, Fangoria and various other horror publications started referring to Tim Ritter as the “Herschel Gordon Lewis of regional cinema”. He clearly had no money to make it and invested every cent he had into buying as much fake blood as he could. The film is good for what it is but his follow is really what should’ve earned him that moniker. Killing Spree is about an extremely jealous and mentally unstable man who starts bumping off every person mentioned in his girlfriend’s diary. In one scene, he replaces the blades of a ceiling fan with razor sharp blades, invites over an electrician and when he’s looking at the problem, the jealous boyfriend grabs him and lifts him up to get decapitated. In another, he calls up their landscaper, knocks him out, buries him up to his head and then runs over it with a lawnmower. The kills are so over the top insane, that you immediately think it’s all in his head. There’s absolutely no way he could be killing this many people but, without ruining the ending, he definitely is. The third act is amazing and turns this into a completely different movie. A movie I was not expecting. Killing Spree isn’t good but it’s definitely entertaining.

Grade: WTF

July. 9—Absurd (1981)

If you’ve ever wondered what a Joe D’Amato directed Halloween would look like, it’s Absurd. It recycles enough plot beats for anyone to immediately recognize this as a ripoff of Carpenter’s classic but then adds in so much other weird shit, that it would be unfair to call D’Amato a thief. More like this is his fanfic. Some really weird fanfic that tries to explain why Michael Myers can’t be killed. Due to a church-sanctioned scientific experiment that went wrong and now allows him to heal from any wound and made him murderously insane, the killer in this is literally unstoppable. Played by the great Italian uber creep George Eastman, Mikos Tanoupoulos is a great villain. He’s physically imposing and because Eastman has a face made for menace, he’s one of the few slasher villains that doesn’t need a mask to be memorable. I wish the film was half as great as he is though. As you’d suspect, it follows the same structure as Halloween. There’s the Loomis character (this time a priest) and a hard nosed detective on the case. The big difference is the third act. The final girl in this is kinda of insane and what she does at the end almost makes the boring slog to get to it worth it. If you have a high tolerance for Italian cinema or just wanna see some brutal kills, Absurd exists.

Grade: D

July. 10—Hostile Takeover (1988)

This is the only other film I’ve seen from the director of My Bloody Valentine, and I can already tell he’s a one hit wonder. You would think George Mihalka would go on to be one of the all time greats since he made one of the best slashers ever but the gods of cinema decided to bless him with just one movie. That’s not too say Hostile Takeover is incompetent, it’s just woefully inert. David Warner plays a mild mannered office drone who suddenly decides to take his office co-workers hostage. Two female employees and his boss played by Michael Ironside. Since he’s making no demands, the cops on the street are getting nervous and you the viewer are praying that that is a ruse that’ll have a payoff. You’d be incorrect. He took them hostage because he wanted to make friends? The film ends on some bullshit T.S. Elliott quote that’s supposed to answer everything and all it did was piss me off. That’s not an answer. And I refuse to acknowledge the fact that that is probably the point. There’s no resolution to anything and the drama inside the building isn’t compelling enough to keep ones attention. A waste of Warner, Ironside and John Vernon.

Grade: D+

July. 11—Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

Of all the directors who’ve inspired other directors, Tarantino is the only one not to spawn a legit heir. Every time someone tries to do his dialogue, it comes off as painfully uncool. Films like Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead and Lucky Number Slevin both suffer from “look at how hip and clever I am” desperation. If you couldn’t tell by its title, Gunpowder Milkshake is the latest film to try and ape Tarantino’s swag, which would be bad enough but, it’s also trying to be a John Wick film as well and that’s just one sin too many. The dialogue is eye rollingly awful (with the Librarians having the worst bit of zippy back and forth I’ve seen since I was forced to watch Gilmore Girls years ago), the action is mediocre at best, with most of the fights performed so badly, you can almost see the actors mouthing their steps. Karen Gillan is horribly wooden and unconvincing in the role of a badass, the plot feels cobbled together from multiple different cool guy assassin movies and the neon aesthetic is so obviously Refn inspired, the director of this owes him an apology. In fact, he owes anyone who’s seen this or anyone who might see it in the future an apology for making something this terrible.

Grade: F+

July. 12—A Classic Horror Story (2021)

Five carpoolers travel in a motorhome to reach a common destination. They’re all going to the same spot but they’re all radically different people. One is an annoying YouTuber, one is a woman about to make an important life decision, one is a doctor who maybe harboring a secret. The film does a great job of setting up who they all are before it turns. While driving at night, they swerve to avoid a dead animal carcass and they crash into a tree. When they come to their senses, they find themselves in the middle of nowhere. The road they were traveling on has disappeared and there is only a dense, impenetrable forest and a wooden house in the middle of a clearing, which they discover has a woman locked in a cage inside. The group then has to decide whether or not to get involved. To reveal anymore of the plot is criminal, just know there’s a cult and shit gets surreal.

If you’re one of those people who checks out a film’s Letterboxd score before watching it, you’ll notice a lot of five star and two star reviews. The film is deservedly divisive. There’s a thing in it that you’re either going to love or hate, there is no in between. The people who love it, really love it and the people who hate that key plot point and think it ruins the movie still agree the film is absolutely gorgeous to look at. I’m definitely in the former camp. I think it’s a creepy as fuck horror movie that rivals any film in its genre in terms of visuals and I think that “thing” (I’m really trying to skate around it) is ingenious. Right now, this is a strong contender for the best horror movie I’ve seen this year.

Grade: B+

July. 13—Ravenous (2017)

Not to be confused with the 1999 cannibal movie of the same name, Ravenous is a French Canadian cannibal movie of a different kind. In this, the cannibals are dead. They’re zombies. The movie is about zombies that may not even be dead at all, which kinda ruins the joke. Unlike typical zombies, the undead in this are more like sad, infected murder cannibals. They aren’t brainless, they seem to be in constant pain and for some reason, a group of them are making an effigy out of chairs. It’s an interesting take on zombie lore. In addition to that, it’s beautifully shot and the plot, which unfolds like a hyperlink story where characters are introduced and you don’t know how they’re going to connect to everything until later, is good enough to keep you hooked. Ravenous is definitely a hidden gem in an over saturated genre.

Grade: B

July. 14—Fear Street Part Three: 1966 (2021)

By far the worst of the trilogy, 1666 isn’t bad per say, it’s just horribly uninteresting. The mythology behind the killings of the first movie (there’s a witch who was unjustly hung who then put a curse on the town and every decade or so since then, a random person gets possessed and starts killing people) isn’t bad and I really like that there’s multiple slasher villains attached to it but watching a whole movie explaining that origin story is a slog. Since it’s set in the 17th century, the film is without it’s bag of tricks. There’s no needle drops, no comedic relief characters, no pop culture references. It has to rely on characters and story and baby, this ain’t the series for that. Once it left that time period and jumped ahead, then I was interested again. There’s a bit where they come up with a plan to have the undead slashers go up against each other and that could’ve been the entire film in my opinion. That was great. The rest of the film, not so much. Overall, as movies, I think they’re all meh but as an experience, I think it’s a huge triumph. I’d love to see another experiment like this again.

Grade: C

July. 15—The War of the Gargantuas (1966)

Frankensteins heart was taken to Japan after the end of WWII, subjected to radioactivity and eaten by a young boy who transformed into a giant humanoid monster. A piece of flesh fell off of said monster during a battle with the Japanese army, it fell into the ocean and then mutated into a new creature which now eats people and fights with his brother. A direct sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World (the plot of which is everything up to “a piece fell off of him”), War of the Gargantuas is bigger and crazier than its predecessor and to recap, that’s a movie in which a young boy eats Frankenstein’s heart and then turns into a Kaiju. That movie is looney tunes but since it’s just one giant Frankenstein, it’s nowhere near as crazy as a movie with two giant Frankensteins. This honestly has everything a Kaiju fan wants. A ton of giant monster on monster action, human characters that barely factor into the plot and a pace that moves. Since these movies are technically under the Godzilla umbrella, I would fucking kill to see a big budget reboot. Throw more cash at crazy please.

Grade: B

July. 16—Moonstalker (1989)

Moonstalker is a no budget slasher that feels like it was pieced together from multiple unfinished movies. I was barely paying attention to it, but I don’t remember following a group of characters for more than fifteen minutes. There’s the two girls in the beginning, then a family of four and then what feels like two different groups or one very large one. I can’t remember a single thing about any of them. The only thing I know for certain, is that they die. I’m not even 100% sure if I know how. I’m pretty sure with an axe but I wouldn’t bet money on it. I can describe the killer (white burlap looking mask) but I also seem to remember him wearing nothing and looking like some middle aged guy. The only scene that really sticks out involves a bunch of dead campers tied to a log and the killer rocking them back and forth like puppets. This is a screen watcher — look at your iPad, phone or any other device and the boring bits won’t be so egregious.

Grade: F

July. 17—The X From Outer Space (1967)

I will never not be tickled pink by all the failed attempts that sprung up after Godzilla. Of the one’s I’ve seen, The X From Outer Space is easily the most hilariously inept. The monster in it is literally a giant chicken hybrid from space, the score is an awesome, albeit totally out of place mishmash of 1960s pop and bossa nova, the plot is filled with bizarre non sequiturs and the overall tone is laid back and groovy. While there’s enough man in rubber suit stomping on miniature buildings action to satiate fans of this genre, this is the only Kaiju film I’ve seen where everything around that is the selling point. This is the kind of movie I watch like an anthropologist. Studying it so I can figure it out. But there are no answers. Just abject weirdness.

Grade: C

July. 18—Offerings (1989)

For years, I was under the assumption that this was a Christmas themed slasher due to its poster, but you know what they say about assuming things. A no budget rip-off of Halloween involving a killer who dismembers people and sends their body parts to a girl he’s into, Offerings easily could’ve been a Christmas movie (gift giving is literally his M.O.), so it’s even more odd that it’s not. His backstory is that he was a mentally handicapped kid who was teased/bullied into falling down a well and ten years later, he breaks out of an asylum to go on a kill crazy rampage. What falling down a well has to do with sending someone presents made up of body parts is anyone’s guess but I could’ve gone with it IF it was Christmas. Santa obsessed slashers usually don’t need much backstory. Christmas makes people crazy. The Holiday does the work for you. But I guess a Santa Claus costume and some decorations were too much for this films budget.

Grade: D

July. 19—Visiting Hours (1982)

A deranged, misogynistic killer targets a journalist who went on television and talks about how violent men are and decides to prove her right by killing her. First he assaults her at her home and then the rest of the film is him trying and failing to kill her while she’s at the hospital. The longer she’s in that hospital while the corpses of patients and hospital staff pile up around her, the more the film becomes ridiculously fun. It feels Like William Shatner’s sole purpose in this film is to convince the lead to stay in the hospital. He pops up about every fifteen minutes or so to tell the lead not to go on TV and say all those crazy woman ideas about men and to convince her to stay in the hospital. It’s so horribly irresponsible to keep her there, that it feels like there was a scene deleted where you find out he works with the network and is actually hoping she’d die for ratings. But that’s too clever for this movie. This film can’t be clever and have an amazing Michael Ironside performance at the same time. It was one or the other and it chose correctly. Ironside is a blast as the killer. He barely talks but he makes up for his silence in sheer brutality. His performance alone is enough to check this one out.

Grade: C

July. 20—Silent Scream (1979)

If the Old Dark House sub-genre is categorized as a haunted house movie except the ghosts aren’t dead, they’re the ghosts of a messed up family’s past, then Silent Scream most definitely fits under that umbrella. A group of college kids move into a seaside mansion to use as a boarding house and soon after, deaths start to occur. It has slasher elements but a huge chunk of the film is dedicated to the mystery behind the house, not the identity of the killer. Unless your brain is made of cotton candy, there’s no way you won’t immediately know who the killer is and the film knows that. Instead of setting up red herrings or what have you, the film throws a whole bunch of origin story exposition at you and there’s not a soul alive that will care. Suffice it to say, the three who own the house are all messed up and for unclear plot reasons, one of them decides to start killing the college students. The backstory of these loons is nowhere near as interesting as it thinks it is and the deaths aren’t all that great either. About the only great thing about this is the incredibly short extended cameo by Barbara Steele. She doesn’t do much but with eyes like that, she really doesn’t need to. If you’re in the mood for a horror film that you can barely pay attention to while you’re screen scrolling, you can do far worse than Silent Scream.

Grade: C

July. 21—Blood Tracks (1985)

From the director of Russian Terminator comes Russian Hills Have EyesBlood Tracks! Now, if only this movie could live up to that, then we’d have something. The premise isn’t bad (a film crew producing a rock music video decides to shoot at an abandoned factory above the snow line. When an avalanche strands them, a murderous family living in the factory attacks and kills many of them) and the acting and directing is serviceable (for the most part) but it’s just too boring to stick in your mind. The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 is arguably a worse film but there’s so much stupid shit in it, it’s impossible to forget how terrible it is. This is the kind of terrible that slides off your brain the second after you watch it.

Grade: D

July. 22—Regular Show: The Movie (2015)

Since I binged the entire series this month, I decided to finish it off with the TV movie and I gotta say, I’m a tad bit disappointed. I have my problems with the show (the love triangle between Mordecai, Margaret and CJ was pointless and all the supporting characters they introduced her the shaft in the last two seasons) but overall, I really enjoyed it and thought it ended on a high note. Which makes this film seem kind of pointless. It doesn’t really answer any lingering questions, doesn’t build off the ending and technically breaks the shows cannon. It’s nice to see the characters again but this easily could’ve been a three episode arc back in season five or so. It really doesn’t do enough to justify its existence.

Grade: C

July. 23—976-EVIL (1988)

Following a run of nerds turned evil films of the mid 80s, 976-EVIL might be the worst of the bunch. Even Evilspeak, which has no redeeming qualities outside of Clint Howards performance, understands that the nerd at the center of the film has to be likable and put upon. That film does it but the film at least understood the assignment. The lead nerd in this switches to evil for no real reason. He’s hanging out with his cousins girlfriend when a couple of goons come over, bully him and pull a pair of her panties out of his pocket. She leaves in disgust and they continue bullying him. After they leave, he crawls out of the dumpster they leave him in and he vows revenge. He calls some supernatural hotline and through movie magic, gets the power of demonic possession. But his first target isn’t the bullies but the girl he hung out with. And then, after he tells his cousin he accidentally killed her, he understandably freaks out and then becomes the next target of demon nerd boys revenge. The film almost has the right ingredients but director Robert Englund doesn’t know how to properly fold this burrito, so it keeps falling on the floor. The kills ain’t bad though, so that’s something.

Grade: D

July. 24—Best of the Best (1989)

Best of the Best might be the only sports movie more ridiculous than Rocky IV and that’s saying something. It’s hard enough buying Eric Roberts as a martial artist but then the film asks you to buy Chris Penn as not only a martial artist but one of the five best in the world. He’s picked by America to represent them in a tournament. Chris Penn. But that’s the kind of film this is. The type of movie where James Earl Jones kicks Eric Roberts off the team for having a family but then 20 minutes later invites said family to a tournament. The type of movie where a characters entire arc is that he’s too strong and he’s afraid his hands could kill at any moment. The type of movie where Eric Roberts’ mullet is credited in the cast. The only thing that would’ve made this better is if it had a banging theme song ala Karate Kid and Rocky. Or if Jean-Claude Van Damme was the villain. Wouldn’t make any sense but nothing in this movie makes sense. A predictive text generator could produce a less ridiculous movie but that’s its charm. It still kinda blows my mind though that this and its sequel went to theaters. That’s insane to me.

Grade: D

July. 25—Fatal Exam (1990)

Vinegar Syndrome just released a Home Grown Horrors Vol. 1 boxset that includes this, Winterbeast and Beyond Dream’s Door (both of which I’ll cover in a second. If you’re too anxious, just scroll down. You ain’t missing anything here) and man, thank God those other two are bangers because if they were all this bad, I’d be pissed I spent 65 dollars on ’em. Proof positive that my threshold for bullshit knows no bounds, Fatal Exam is nearly 110 minutes of boring nothingness and yet somehow, I still didn’t hate it. That’s not to say I liked it or that it’s good, I just didn’t want to die while watching it. Which for most, is the acceptable reaction.

A college professor gives his students an assignment: spend a week at a house that has a history of the occult and investigate it, I guess? I don’t remember why these 35 year old college kids have to go to this house or what they’re supposed to do when they get there. Since this movie is lit-er-ally nothing but a group of people walking around a house, it’s impossible to hold onto any plot points. I can tell you one of them definitely sees a severed head in a cabinet and another drinks Pepsi like it’s the cure for covid. That’s it. Until the last ten minutes. Then we get bumbling scythe murders and a stop motion devil. Neither of which are enough to save this because again, this movie is 2 hours long. If it was a tight 70 minutes, the ending would have a greater impact and you could almost forgive the boring but at 120 minutes, it’s unforgivable.

Grade: D-

July. 26—Beyond Dream’s Door (1989)

As mentioned in my Fatal Exam write up, this is part of the Home Grown Horrors boxset I acquired recently and it’s a doozy. Anyone who looks through the films I watch asks the same thing “why you always watching trash?” and this is the reason. If you want an example as to why my search for hidden gems will never end, just watch Beyond Dreams Door. This movie is glorious. It’s A Nightmare on Elm Street and IT mixed together but made for the price of a hot meal. And it’s made before one of them, which is even more impressive. The film is about a guy suffering from nightmares that are so intense, they’ve pierced the veil of reality and are now real. The entire movie is made up of “is this character dreaming?” scenes from those Freddy movies but the difference is, since the dreams are also real, it doesn’t matter if he’s asleep or not. They’ll get him when he’s awake. I’m kinda blown away by the amount of practical effects found in this movie. There’s fake heads, tons of blood and even a handful of monsters. This is a regional masterpiece and it’s not even the best film in the boxset.

Grade: WTF

July. 27—Winterbeast (1981)

Everything I’ve heard about this movie is true. I was told it was crazy. I was told it was impossible to follow. I was told it’s beyond bad. I heard everything and even saw clips but nothing could’ve prepared me for Winter Beast. There are scenes where two characters are talking and for no discernible reason, they’ll change the angle and it’s two completely different actors carrying on like nothing happened and then like 30 seconds later, they’d change back. Why not just cut that small chunk of time out of the movie? There’s no reason to recast those roles for a scene that lasts less than a minute. But this movie plays by no one’s rules. It will throw stop motion monster after stop motion monster at you. It will have stop the movie dead to have the main bad guy dance around corpses while wearing a clown mask and lip syncing for five minutes straight. Whoever made the rules of cinema (all the camera angles you never break and what not) would take one look at this movie and cry. It does everything wrong but in doing so, it did everything right. This is slowly becoming one of my favorite pieces of gonzo trash. There’s nothing else like Winter Beast.

Grade: WTF

July. 28—Rest in Pieces (1981)

After moving into the estate of their recently dead aunt’s, a newlywed couple start experiencing strange occurrences. The wife is attacked in the bathroom from what looked to be her Aunt and both of them have multiple run ins with the odd residents of the house. The Aunt’s servants have lived there rent free for years and years and intend on keeping it that way. They’re creepy as shit and they make the movie watchable but I’m also not clear as to what they are exactly. The film states that they all killed themselves but I don’t know if that’s too be taken literally. If they’re ghosts, they can bleed. If they’re zombies, why are they still doing work and if they’re something else, why are they still doing the bidding of the Aunt, who I’m also not sure is dead or not. I know the Aunt is trying to get her niece to kill herself and the husband is actually working with the servants to make sure she does it but I couldn’t tell you for the life of me why. I have no earthly idea why anything happens but when the servants killed people, I was happy. So there’s that.
Grade: C

July. 29—I’ll Take Your Dead (2018)

I’ll Take Your Dead has a supernatural element that helps set it apart from other films but I’m still on the fence as to whether it ultimately benefits the film or not. It’s about a guy who dispossess of corpses for various crime syndicates who discovers one of the bodies he’s supposed to take care of, isn’t dead. Now, the living dead girl isn’t the supernatural element. She just survived a couple of bullets to the chest. No, the house is haunted by the ghosts of the people the man dispossess of. His daughter sees them and interacts with them but they never really become a plot point. They kind of factor into the third act but not really. They’re just there. They do keep it from being just another old man vs gangsters movie but I wish they were either implemented better or removed entirely. But that minor quibble aside, it’s an enjoyable film for what it is.

Grade: C

July. 30—Cthulhu Mansion (1990)

I’m a fan of the films Juan Piquer Simón. I love Slugs, Pieces and appreciate The Rift for what it is, so imagine my excitement when Vinegar Syndrome announced they were releasing his film Cthulhu Mansion on Blu-ray. That excitement quickly faded however once I started it. After a drug deal gone bad (which took place at a haunted house ride at a carnival for some reason), a group of thugs take a magician, his daughter and his mute assistant hostage and decide to hold up at his house till the heat dies down. But while there, they find out that the magician actually gets his powers from an ancient entity locked in his basement and since this is a horror movie filled with stupid characters, of course one of them accidentally let’s him free. That set up has all the potential for another Simón hit but unfortunately, it’s far too boring to have fun with. It eventually picks up towards the end but by then, it’s too little, too late. I do recommend however, the documentary about Simón that comes with the Blu-ray. I’m not saying it’s good enough to justify the purchase but it is at least something of quality on the disc.

Grade: B

July. 31—The Empty Man (2020)

I’m not familiar with the comic this movie is based on but if it’s anything like this movie, I’m going to hunt it down immediately. What starts off as a tale about a Bloody Mary-esque boogeyman ala Slenderman or the Bye Bye Man, turns into something altogether different. An ex cop (James Badge Dale) gets pulled into a mystery involving his friend’s missing daughter. He uncovers a supernatural entity and a cult that worships it who’s secrets will change everything he knows about reality. It’s a hard movie to discuss because the hook (the titular Empty Man) only makes up a fraction of the film. Every twenty minutes or so, a thing will be revealed that changes the trajectory of the story. At no point did I know where it was going and I’m still not 100% sure I know everything that did happen. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a movie that took me on a ride without me knowing the destination ahead of time and that alone makes it worthy of recommendation.

Grade: B

What movies did you watch last month?

Author: Sailor Monsoon

I stab.