Films I Saw in March 2020

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.

Mar. 1—Ninja III: The Domination (1984)

No studio better exemplified the 80s more than Cannon. Golan and Globus weren’t interested in making art (although they did throw a bone to some respected autors every once in awhile), they were interested in making fat stacks of cash. Their films were glorious trash, with ninjas and explosions being both plot points and main characters. They would pump the market with tons of garbage because they knew they only needed one of them to be a hit. They were madmen, they were gamblers and for a brief period of time, Hollywood was legitimately afraid of them.

They were spending millions on Eddie Murphy and Ralph Macchio vehicles, on big tent pole movies and blockbuster sequels and here they come, with some dumbass low budget movie about a ninja possession and they completely blow them out of the water. This movie is so awesome, it makes everything else released that year irrelevant. Does Red Dawn have a ninja fight that lasts twenty minutes? Does Ghostbusters have an erotic scene involving V8 juice? Is their hot yoga and jazzercise in Amadeus? I didn’t think so.

Grade: B+

Mar. 2—Delicatessen (1991)

Things turn into chaos when the daughter of a landlord/local butcher who slaughters people for their meat, starts dating the man’s intended next victim. A bizarre surrealistic post-apocalyptic black comedy, Delicatessen is a film which wears many hats, the most important of which is being the alleged inspiration for The Shape of Water. I say alleged because while Del Toro has never admitted to it, there’s absolutely no way he wasn’t at least partially inspired by this film. It has the same distinct color palette and even has the exact same scenes.

The two films are radically different in every other regard, so I’m not accusing him of plagiarism or anything but I do find it a bit odd that he’s never cited this as an influence. It could be a case of subconscious thievery because this is the kind of film that seeps into your brain, infecting it with its bizarre imagery and unforgettable tone. I doubt I’ll ever watch it again but I feel like I don’t need to. I remember every frame.

Grade: B

Mar. 3—Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Sidney Lumet’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s incomparable tale of murder and mystery set aboard a train filled with A list stars, is the whodunnit that all other whodunnits aspire to be. The cast is exceptional (and might be the best of all time), the set up is legendary and the reveal is iconic. The only way this film could be better is if Johnny Depp was in it. Oh wait…

Grade: B

Mar. 4—Charade (1963)

After Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) falls for the dashing Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) on a skiing holiday in the French Alps, she discovers upon her return to Paris that her husband has been murdered. Soon, she and Peter are giving chase to three of her late husband’s World War II cronies, who are after a quarter of a million dollars the quartet stole while behind enemy lines. Often called “the best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made”, Charade is a rollicking fun comedy mystery with bits of action and suspense thrown in for good measure. But you’re not watching it for the Hitchcock-esque thrills or even the mystery, you’re watching it for the actors. The chemistry between the two leads is second to none, with their banter being worth the price of admission alone.

Grade: B

Mar. 5—The Player (1992)

Can a Hollywood studio executive (Tim Robbins) figure out which dejected screen writer is sending him death threats before it’s too late? Like all good satires, The Player has aged out of being a satire and is just a film about Hollywood. The meta comedy still works wonders, as do the constant in jokes and cameos but unfortunately Hollywood was too powerful for Altman’s razor sharp script. The ridiculous film-within-a-film doesn’t seem as ridiculous now that every film nowadays has at least five A list movie stars in it.

This a film in which the bad guy wins, art loses to commerce and everyone, including a murderer, gets a happy ending because Hollywood is horrible, terrible no good place that we all love so much, that we all willingly accept the lies they feed us. We’ve all heard the horror stories and we’ve all seen the effect it’s had on people within the industry but as long as they keep producing the shit we love, we’ll overlook it.

The biggest target Altman is taking aim at isn’t the industry or everyone in it or even the people who want to be in it, it’s you. The viewer. He’s condemning you the most because if it wasn’t for you, this wouldn’t be seen as a comedy. It would be a documentary.

Grade: B

Mar. 6—Black Moon Rising (1986)

One of the most crucial elements of a film and one that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough, is pacing. A film can have every other ingredient but if it’s slow, it doesn’t matter. Black Moon Rising has everything going for it: a John Carpenter script, an amazing cast (Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Hamilton, Richard Jaekel, Robert Vaughn, Dan Shor, Lee Ving, Bubba Smith, Keenan Wynn), and a cool looking super-car. But the problem is, it’s slow as molasses. You would think a film about a super powered rocket car would have the same energy of said super car but you’d be wrong. There is no thrust to the story, things just happen and they happen incredibly slowly. The only thing that could’ve saved this was a score by Carpenter and it didn’t even have that.

Grade: D

Mar. 7—Wait Until Dark (1967)

A recently blinded woman (Audrey Hepburn) is terrorized by a trio of thugs while they search for a heroin-stuffed doll they believe is in her apartment. A slow burn thriller that takes its time setting up the finale, Wait Until Dark is a classic who’s reputation is earned within the last fifteen minutes. 80% of this film is nothing but yakety yak but once it gets down to the last two characters, it becomes a tense, claustrophobic thriller you can’t tear your eyes off of. It also has one of the best jump scares ever, if you’re not already sold.

Grade: B

Mar. 8—He Who Gets Slapped (1924)

After a series of betrayals that both end with him slapped in the face and getting laughed at, a disgraced inventor rebrands himself a clown with a unique gimmick: that of a living punching bag for every clown in the troupe to slap. After years of being ‘HE who gets slapped’, the clown falls in love with another circus performer but predictably (this is a tale of revenge after all) his love is threatened by the same person who drove him to the circus in the first place. Far darker than I was expecting, He Who Gets Slapped is shockingly violent for a film that came out almost 100 years ago. It’s a nasty tale of revenge with a great performance from the legendary Lon Chaney and a plot that’s more effective at half the length than Joker.

Grade: B+

Mar. 9—Harold and Maude (1971)

While I’m glad this film exists (because without it, the work of Wes Anderson would look a whole helluva lot different) and while I can see while people adore it, this did absolutely nothing for me. I love the premise: a death obsessed young man falls in love with an old woman who lives every second to the fullest but there’s really not much more to it than that.

Harold (Bud Cort) stages fake death scenes to fuck with his mother, which you’d assume would stop after he met Maude (Ruth Gordon), but nope. He continues doing them throughout the rest of the film. You’d assume that the woman Harold meets through a blind date set up by his mother, would create a love triangle due to her being into his weird eccentricities but nope. You never see her again. You’d assume that since Harold and Maude are polar opposites, that one of their personalities would rub off on the other, and that one of them would change as a person because of that but nope. Neither one has a character arc.

Harold is Harold at the beginning, does the same shit throughout the film and is the same person by the end. As is Maude. It’s a film about two people who meet each other, aren’t effected in any way and then the credits roll. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Like Ferris Bueller for example. He doesn’t change by the end of that film but the characters around him do, so there’s at least an arc to the plot. This film has no arc, just a bunch of scenes that, while mildly amusing, don’t really amount to much.

Grade: C

Mar. 10—Extreme Prejudice (1987)

With a script by Milius, direction by Hill and one of the best casts of badasses ever assembled for a film, Extreme Prejudice is in the running for the most manly film of all time. There’s a reason this film has no physical release in the states. It’s because distributors were afraid that by just holding the case it came in, your body would spontaneously grow two or three new dicks. This film is filled with so much testosterone, that doctors prescribe this to post-op trans women to watch after their surgeries, in order to help with their transition.

Before Chuck Norris facts were a thing, and this is true, they were Mr. T facts and before that, they were Vin Diesel facts. Neither actor was apparently famous enough to become meme worthy but if it wasn’t for this film, none of those actors would have any of those dumb ass jokes to begin with. Because they were all just cribbed from this films IMDB trivia page. The only reason it didn’t catch on? Everyone who heard about this film was too afraid to watch it out of fear that their eyes would turn into penises. This film is so badass, your eyes might turn into dicks after watching it. You’ve been warned.

Grade: B+

Mar. 11—Field of Dreams (1989)

Field of Dreams is one of those movies I know I hadn’t seen but I feel like I did through osmosis. Certain films like Star Wars and Wizard of Oz are so ingrained within the fabric of pop culture, that you’ve heard every line and seen every scene of those films, whether you’ve sat down to watch them or not. Because I’ve heard the line “if you build it, he will come” about a million times over the years and because I knew what it was about before watching it, my mind filled in the gaps and painted a picture of what I thought it was, so I never had any desire to actually sit down to watch it.

But man, I was waaaay off. For one thing, the baseball diamond is completed in a matter of minutes, not the slow build up I was expecting. I also had no idea that the film is essentially a road trip movie that involves an old poet and a ghost. It’s not the film I was expecting at all, which is a pleasant surprise. It’s a delightful, crowd pleasing tear jerking fantasy that’s every bit as good as it’s reputation suggests.

Grade: A

Mar. 12—Manborg (2011)

Made for a paltry one thousand dollars, Manborg is an impressive if not entirely successful homage to cheesy action and sci-fi films of the 80’s. It’s one of those films that gets a pass on its ambition alone because honestly, that’s all it has going for it. What the filmmakers were able to accomplish on literally no money, is admirable (there’s make up effects, handmade props and even stop motion) but the acting is abysmal, the direction almost gave me motion sickness, it’s so herky jerky and the writing is cringe inducing. Having said that, the fake trailer at the end of the film, almost singlehandedly makes the entire film worth watching. Bio Cop is one of the most entertaining five minutes I’ve had in a long time. And I frequent brothels, so I know how entertaining five minutes can be.

Grade: C

Mar. 13—Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

I don’t mind a plot less or aimless film. Not every film needs to adhere to a typical three act structure. A film can meander all it wants but, and this is super important, it needs to be entertaining enough to keep me engaged. If I don’t have a story to hold onto, the film better make up for it by having fun and/or interesting things happen every fifteen minutes or so and I’m sorry to report that the children’s classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang does neither of those things. Instead of doing something fun or interesting, the film just decides take another narrative detour that doesn’t amount to anything. Scenes just happen, with no rhyme or reason and not only that, they’re almost always boring and filled with mediocre songs. I mean, it takes the film an hour to make the titular car for crissakes. An hour!

Grade: D

Mar. 14—Animal Farm (1954)

Dealing with dictatorship, communist theory, military warlords, the democratic process and political theories, Animal Farm throws so much at the viewer, that I’m amazed it was released the year after Peter Pan and the year before The Lady and the Tramp. While the novel’s original ending was changed to be slightly more upbeat, it’s still incredible that the film was made in the first place. More than just a piece of antiquated Cold War propaganda, Animal Farm is one of the most audacious films of the decade. When the only animated films being made were for children, this film had the balls to be about something other than princesses and other fantastical shit. And I think it should finally get the props and recognition it so richly deserves.

Grade: B

Mar. 15—Death on the Nile (1978)

I cannot for the life of me, figure out why this film isn’t held in the same regard as its predecessor. It doesn’t have a director with as much name recognition as Lumet nor does it have a cast as strong but you can hardly fault a film for not having one of the best directors helm it and only having a great cast instead of the single greatest cast ever assembled. In almost every way, this film feels like it was doomed to be second place.

It has the second best location of any Poirot film and the second best cast. The mystery is just as good but the revelation isn’t. The cast is amazing but it cannot possibly compare to the original. The only thing this film has that’s better than the Murder on the Orient Express, is Ustinov as Poirot. Finney is amazing in the role but Ustinov just has a certain jovial quality to him that Finney lacks. He’s just as peculiar but in a funnier way and he isn’t as intimidating, which makes it easier for people to underestimate him.

The main difference between the two is: you can always tell when Finney is investigating someone, which makes you pay attention to every single word everyone says but Ustinov, because he seems so aloof, makes every interrogation seem like a conversation. So when he does finally figure it out, you feel that much more of an idiot because you weren’t paying as much attention to the clues. If you’re a fan of the first one or whodunnits in general, this is a must watch.

Grade: B

Mar. 16—Evil Under the Sun (1982)

Trying to find how a millionaire wound up with a phony diamond brings Hercule Poirot to an exclusive island resort frequented by the rich and famous. When a murder is committed, everyone has an alibi. Of the three Poirot films I saw this month, this the weakest by far but I still enjoyed it for what it was. Unlike the previous two entries, you will most likely figure out who the murderer is (Poirot himself uncharacteristically fingers the guilty party immediately during the denouement scene) but the fun, as it always is, is trying to figure out how they did it. The plot is the most elaborate out of the three, so watching Poirot lay it all out makes the entire film worth it. That, along with a great cast of character actors make Evil Under the Sun a fun, if somewhat slight, murder mystery.

Grade: C+

Mar. 17—Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

A “metal fetishist”, driven mad by the maggots wriggling in the wound he’s made to embed metal into his flesh, runs out into the night and is accidentally run down by a Japanese businessman and his girlfriend. The pair dispose of the corpse in hopes of quietly moving on with their lives. However, the businessman soon finds that he is now plagued by a vicious curse that transforms his flesh into iron.

This is one of those films that feels like it’s about something but I honestly couldn’t tell you what it’s trying to say. Is it about body dysmorphia? Is the main character a walking metaphor for the Industrial Complex? Is it about our growing obsession with technology? How we’re all slowly killing the planet with junk? Or is it just crazy shit with no real meaning behind anything? I have no idea. The fact that he made two more of these things suggests to me that it’s more than likely the latter but he did go on to create some highly respectable and critically acclaimed dramas that don’t seem to be pretentious and/or wacky, so I don’t know. Either way, it’s original and while I wasn’t exactly a fan, I can say I’ve never seen anything else like it before.

Grade: WTF

Mar. 18—The September Issue (2009)

Chronicling Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s preparations for the 2007 fall-fashion issue, this documentary gives viewers a fly-on-the-wall look at the day-to-day operations, some insight into the conversational editor-in-chief (the popular theory is that this film began life as a reaction to The Devil Wears Prada because Streep’s character in that is loosely based on Wintour) and because it took two years to complete, the last document of the magazine at the peak of its powers. When it eventually hit shelves, the September Issue they’re working in this film, is a gigantic 800 pages. Just two years later, when the doc came out, it was already down to 600. Less than a decade later and the New York Post publishes an editorial declaring it dead.

If this film was made the year it was released, it would be a radically different doc, and while I’d love to see the story of a fashion icon becoming increasingly more and more irrelevant in the age of social media, the story the film does tell is still entertaining. Wintour makes for a fascinating character; as does everyone else caught in her orbit. There’s Grace Coddington, the ex model that has no problem butting heads with her boss. André Leon Talley, the flamboyant designer who makes every word of dialogue just a teensy bit more awesome and tons more. It’s an enthralling look at a multi million dollar circus run by an ice queen who has no idea she’s about to become the captain of the Titanic. If you’re into fashion, this is a must watch but for everyone else, stick to the Devil Wears Prada.

Grade: B

Mar. 19—Multiple Maniacs (1970)

A traveling sideshow called the Cavalcade of Perversion draws in spectators with their shocking acts of depravity (two guys make out with each other, a guy eats his own vomit, a girl has her armpits licked, etc) and at the peak of their shock, the leader of the troupe comes out and robs em at gunpoint. Since this is a John Waters film, you probably already guessed that the leader is Divine and you’d be correct.

You’d also be correct if you assumed this film was crazy because hoo boy, it’s a wild one. Divine gets raped three times in this film: once by a cross dresser and his female companion, next in a church by a woman using rosary beads as anal beads and lastly, by a giant lobster. Which is never explained. Oh and the last ten minutes of this movie pretty much turns into a Godzilla film with Divine in the role of the mayhem creating thunder lizard. Criterion knew what they were doing when they added this to their collection — this is important cinema.

Grade: A

Mar. 20—The Invisible Man (2020)

Directors have rebooted and reimagined the Universal monsters for about thirty years now and while this one is easily the best of the lot (well, not including the 1999 The Mummy because that shit is amazing), it’s still disappointingly bad. The premise is fantastic and the lead performance is pretty great but the film is bogged down by stupidity, repetitive scenes and by the fact that you know going in, that there will be no jump scares because the bad guy is invisible.

Slight spoilers below

She has photographic evidence that she’s not crazy but she never mentions it. There’s a bloody finger print on the bottle of pills she’s supposedly taking which are clearly her exes, which would prove he planted them but that’s never mentioned. How he faked his own suicide is never explained. Her dog is still at her exes, which is supposed to be abandoned, at yet that’s never brought up as to how he’s alive or who’s feeding him. How he has super strength is never explained or why she never tries to tackle him when he’s clearly in the same room with her or why she’s not filming anything that happens.

This film is so stupid, it hurts my goddamn brain.

Grade: D

Mar. 21—The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)

While he mostly just makes films about Christmas pups and soft core monster flicks now, there was a time when schlockmeister Jim Wynorski was the go-to guy for sequels on the cheap. If a studio wanted to bang out a sequel quick and without spending any money, Wynorski was their guy. He made sequels to Deathstalker, Big Bad Mama, Swamp Thing, Sorority House Massacre and 976-EVIL. Which doesn’t sound impressive or even noteworthy considering all of those films are cheesy as fuck, but in most cases, they’re all far superior than their predecessors.

Because Wynorski gets fun. His films have no pretense about them. They know exactly what they are and provide an experience audiences want to have. Which is a stupid good time. They’re dumb fun that don’t take themselves seriously. Like The Return of Swamp Thing for example. It’s a monster film set in a swamp that has just enough action and cornball comedy to keep the most ardent anti-fun viewer entertained. Take notes DC, this is how you make a fun superhero film.

Grade: C+

Mar. 22—Everything is Terrible! Presents: The Great Satan (2017)

The third entry in Everything is Terrible’s video montage clip show, The Great Satan is a film made up of clips from over 2,000 forgotten VHS tapes, which were re-contextualized in order to tell the tale of Satan. There’s absurd religious propaganda, Christian based educational hip hop videos, gay porn, puppets, obscure movie scenes, television clips and tons and tons of blood and penises. The curation and editing is top notch but like all of their films, it gets to be a bit too much and you’ll most likely get bored a good twenty minutes before it ends. There’s only so many memes a brain can handle before it just shuts down.

Grade: C

Mar. 23—David Holzman’s Diary (1967)

In a desperate attempt to bridge the gap between what is real and what is art, one man films his entire life, much to the dismay of everyone around him. A satire who’s targets wouldn’t be invented for another forty years, David Holzman’s Diary is the precursor to mockumentaries, vlogs, reality television and YouTube. While it seems utterly quaint now, the idea that a man would film every waking moment of his life, is, as the film portrays, absurd, destructive and annoying. The main character in this has his entire life shattered, with every relationship turning to shit because of his compulsive need to document everything. A far cry from now, where everyone is dying for their fifteen minutes of fame. It’s one of those films that’s essential but isn’t necessarily good. It isn’t bad, you’ve just seen it all before.

Grade: C

Mar. 24—Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini (2015)

The first and last rock star of make up effects, Tom Savini was the first in the industry to become a household name. Cinephiles knew who Dick Smith and Stan Winston and Rick Baker were but general movie going audiences didn’t. As beloved as they were within the industry, they were never invited on every talk show on the planet. Savini was. His resume is made up of almost every essential horror film from 77-86: Dawn of the Dead, Friday the 13th Parts 1 & 4, The Burning, Maniac, Creepshow, The Prowler, Martin, Day of the Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.

His effects paved the way for an entirely new section of horror fans: the gorehounds. People who watched movies just to see how brutally Savini would kill teenagers. This documentary covers his life before, during and after he was in the business, as well as his legacy, which endures to this day. As a peek into his life, it’s a pretty decent doc. It covers everything you’d want it to if you were a fan but as a look at his work, it kinda stumbles. While it covers all of his films, it doesn’t really get into the nitty gritty of the process. I can’t really fault the film for not being what I want it to be because what it is, isn’t bad, I just wish the focus was more on the art and his life.

Grade: C

Mar. 25—Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson (2019)

Blood & Flesh is the incredibly strange and impossibly true story of one of Hollywood’s B movie Kings who became famous for being one of the worst directors of all time and even more famous due to the nature of his death. Through archival material and interviews with over forty colleagues, the film is a comprehensive look at Al Adamson’s life, his work and bizarre murder. It’s a story crazier than anything found in any of the director’s own films. Manson girls, Colonel Sanders, alien conspiracies and cold blooded murder. You can’t make this shit up.

Grade: B

Mar. 26—Deathtrap (1982)

One room, one play, three people and a wall covered in weapons. Someone is going to die but by who and with which weapon will they use to do it? After a series of critical and commercial flops, a once renowned Broadway playwright (Michael Caine) contemplates murdering his former student (Christopher Reeve) for his play, which is a guaranteed hit while his wife (Dyan Cannon), knowing his intentions, tries desperately to stop him. A twist turvy comedy thriller that’s more who’ll-do-it then whodunnit, Deathtrap will keep you guessing up until the final frame, which, I have to admit will be disappointing to some but I for one, enjoyed. It’s not the resolution I wanted and certainly wasn’t the one I was expecting but I think it works.

Grade: B

Mar. 27—The Hunt (2020)

While I admire the writers attempt to do something new within the Most Dangerous Game sub-genre (where people are hunted for sport), I can’t in good conscience award points for laziness. It’s shocking that it’s taken this long for one of these films to actually try and come up with a reason as to why a group of people would be hunted that doesn’t involve the rich vs the poor, and again, I admire the attempt but that doesn’t mean it’s saying anything new or original. It’s stock political caricatures vs exaggerated woke cliches the movie. While it does try and attack both sides of the fence, it does so in the most obnoxiously and lazy way possible. It stops being a satire when everything is screamingly literal—it just becomes a soundboard of cliches. It’s the type of movie that, every five minutes or so, nudges you in the side and yells “do you get it? Do you??” Yes movie, I get it. Stop fucking nudging me.

Grade: F

Mar. 28—Highway to Hell (1992)

Highway to Hell is one of those films that you will most likely enjoy in spite of its quality due to the amount of oddball ideas it constantly throws at you. For every technical flaw, there’s at least one weird thing you can’t help but love to help balance it out. The lead (Chad Lowe) is bland and forgettable but it has a ton of fun cameos including Lita Ford’s tits and Gilbert Gottfried as Hitler. The story is bad (Satan kidnaps the main character’s fiance and he has to go to Hell to rescue her) but Hell itself is fun, with roadside workers that all look like Andy Warhol and imaginative looking casinos and other locations. Satan is boring (his actions don’t make any sense and he doesn’t really do anything) but his henchman is cool. Played by C.J Graham (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives), Hellcop is a fun looking demon who acts kinda like the Terminator and has a pair of handcuffs. Like I said, the film is far from perfect but it’s charmingly weird.

Grade: C+

Mar. 29—VHYes (2020)

Designed to look like an old VHS tape that contains TV footage from non-existent 80s programs, VHYes is an Adult Swim inspired anthology made up of bizarre segments. There’s a creepy Bob Ross-esque painter who likes to watch you sleep, an infomercial trying to sell you little drug baggies, a comedic skit involving a magician being mistaken for a ghost and done other commercials and dumbass TV shows. The concept is great but unlike other films that have already done it, it never knows what kind of film it wants to be.

The Kentucky Fried movie is a wacky comedy, with every segment being either funny, crazy or both. On the other hand, WNUF Halloween Special plays it completely straight, with every aspect of the film feeling as authentic as possible. VHYes wants to be some sort of character drama, with realistic characters and a sincere story but it continuously undermines that sincerity with segments which are clearly not meant to be taken seriously. The film’s tone is wildly inconsistent. Either tell a dramatic story with authentic looking TV segments or ditch the human element altogether and just be a silly parody. VHYes more like VHNo.

Grade: F

Mar. 30—Naked Vengeance (1985)

Consisting of nothing but bottom tier clones and cheap ass knockoffs, Cirio H. Santiago’s filmography is so bad, his best film is Stryker, which is like, the 50th best Mad Max rip-off. So when you find out he made a film to try and capitalize off of that sweet sweet rape revenge money cake, you know you’re in trouble. A sub-genre that’s arguably never produced a single good movie, the rape revenge film is probably the single hardest plot to get right. It takes an extremely talented director to use rape as a springboard in which to tell a dramatic story but almost none of the directors who make rape revenge films are interested in making a film that has something to say.

The vast majority of them only care about two things: tits and action, and I’m pretty sure you can guess which camp Santiago belongs in. Naked Vengeance is I Spit on Your Grave but with guns. There’s really not much more to it than that. All but just two men in this film either try to sexually assault, harass, murder and/or rape the main character. It’s sleazy misery porn that doesn’t have enough brutal action to justify its existence.

Grade: F

Mar. 31—The Last of Sheila (1973)

A year after his wife was killed in a hit-and-run accident, multi-millionaire Clinton (James Coburn), invites a group of friends to spend a week on his yacht playing a scavenger hunt-style mystery game. Things soon turn deadly as one of the guests realizes the true intention of the game and decides to end it prematurely lest their secret be revealed. Born out of the murder mystery parlor games Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim used to throw for their celebrity friends, The Last of Sheila is probably the first film to depict an ARG (alternate reality game) and because of this, it gets major points for originality but outside of some great performances, it didn’t really click with me.

For one thing, the puzzles the characters are trying to solve are never fully explained, nor are the rules. What happens if no one figured it out? Would he still reveal who killed his wife? And then what? And more importantly, None of the characters are even the slightest bit concerned when bodies start piling up. You would think at least one of them would care that their friend was murdered and that one of them probably did it. But that’s Hollywood I guess.

Grade: C+

What did you watch last month?