I just checked out VFW, the latest from director Joe Begos (Almost Human, The Mind’s Eye) who returns with, in my opinion his best film yet! This sweet little gritty love letter to John Carpenter, which calls back to his classic ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ in big way, is also a blood soaked love letter to some older actors/action stars of yesteryear. We’ve got icons Fred Williamson, William Sadler, Stephen Lang, Martin Kove & even George Wendt from ‘Cheers’ to make this bar room brawl even more authentic!
The story kicks off on a special birthday night for VFW bar owner “Fred” and his tight knit gang of bad ass war veterans. The evening quickly turns into wild all-out battle for their lives when a teen punk rock girl crashes their party with a sack full of ‘hype’. This new drug basically turns people into demented maniacs, with a hunger for more hype at any cost. The evil punk drug dealer, desperate to get his valuable stash back, sends his gang of gnarly addicts on a rampage to get it back. When these mutant punks on a rampage storm the bar looking for the teen, the old vets along with a younger soldier get to relive the gory glory years of war one more time. They unleash their pent of rage and fury using every weapon they can get their hands on to protect the girl and try annihilate the horde of drug addled maniacs. However these messed up punks have hype running through their veins and want more, risking anything to their grimy paws on it.
If you’re a fan of old school action flicks from the 70’s & 80’s you’re going to really get a kick out of VFW. The gore is pretty over the top, done in a such a cartoony way that people literally explode on screen. As a fan of practical fx Begos always delivers the goods with some wild splatter, he also keeps the vibe placed firmly in the golden days of the action era, with not a cell phone in sight. It also feels like an 80’s flick, with stunning neon lit sets within the walls of the cool old dank dive bar.
The real highlight of this is the cast of old codgers who do the majority of the ass kickin’. It’s absolutely delightful to see the likes of Fred Williamson & The Karate Kid’s Martin “Sensei” Kove in full on action mode as well as Stephen Lang, William Sadler and the younger soldier played by Tom Williamson. They’re all great here and give this film the cred it deserves proving age is just a number when it comes to cinematic butt kicking. I really enjoyed VFW, it’s the perfect modern midnite movie and gets so much praise for bringing in some old icons into the mix of onscreen mayhem. Check this out if you’re a fan of 70’s/80’s cult action horror flicks- And here’s to hoping VFW gets a sequel bringing even more of the bar’s patrons into the fold, hand picking some more old nearly forgotten bad asses to do some damage one last time!
Ok, so I’m not going to go into full deep detail here on Jordan Peele’s latest horror outing ‘US’, as there’s easily enough online analyzing with the buzz and huge hype surrounding it. I’m gonna just give a few quick thoughts on it now that I’ve had a couple days to let it sink into my brain and let you know an unbiased opinion, the good and the bad, as a huge horror hound and a big fan of his first film ‘Get Out’. Most already know the plot of this one but if not here’s a quick refresher:
Married Couple Gabe and Adelaide Wilson take their two children to their long time family beach home expecting to relax and hang with with friends at the beach. But as night falls upon them, their vacation quickly turns to terror and utter chaos when dopplegangers of themselves violently raid their home. It turns into a evening of terror as they play a deadly game of cat & mouse with insane mirror images of themselves.
So Jordan Peele has undeniably crafted a damn good mainstream horror movie once again that feels like a high budget, more violent episode of The Twilight Zone. That’s a great thing, as I’m always down for an intelligent, thought provoking horror flick and this one leaves you with a lot to think about. ‘Us’ fully delivers the frantic action, legit scares as well as some stunning violence and grooves along at near perfect pace never losing a beat. Right from the start Peele gives us a clue as to what influences he’s drawing from here, I liked the 1980’s opening with the ‘C.H.U.D.’ vhs in plain sight as well as ‘The Man With Two Brains’ and ‘Goonies’ next to the old TV which also is broadcasting something that should be paid close attention to. There’s a lot of clues sprinkled about here throughout and it’s a fun thrill ride.
The acting of course by everyone on board was pitch perfect and the sense of dread and despair Peele drums up shows he fully understands the genre in all the best ways. The evil family that arrives upon the scene are likely to become modern horror icons, scary as ever and their perplexing motives for even being there at all is easily one of the best parts of the entire movie. I’ve always thought the doppleganger concept was a frightening one, meeting an “off” version of yourself in a dark alley is something of nightmares. Peele take this concept, puts it on steroids and leaves you thinking just how you might really react being put in a similar situation.
Now with all that being said, as a big horror fan, I found many of the brilliant tense scenes a bit undermined by attempts at comedy, much of which admittedly landed pretty well but felt out of place. For me though as funny as Peele makes the dialogue at these moments, (I feel) perhaps this trend of following scenes of tension with a joke a bit tired at this point. It takes me out of the movie in a big way, I understand the masses dig that type of thing, but it’s kinda something I feel so many try to replicate due to the success of the Marvel movies. It felt tonally off & I personally can do without, unless I’m watching something like ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’. I also found that within the first 20 minutes or so the major twist was so blatantly obvious I’d actually put it to the back of my mind as being not a likely possibility. However when the end roared forward it was indeed revealed to be exactly what I’d expected. Maybe I’ve seen too many of these horror flicks? So possibly a minor spoiler to some, I’d actually wondered if Jordan Peele had seen the 2015 movie ‘A Christmas Horror Story’ as there’s a story in the X-mas horror anthology that features a black family that well, let’s just say experience the same thing basically. Coincidence? Maybe.
By the very end it was clear that there’s a social commentary going on again here as in ‘Get Out’, perhaps a good one but the insertion of it this time around I think kinda derailed the horror mystery that came before it. It feels more like a fable by the time the end credits hit, one that introduces new plot info to seemingly prove some kind of lesson. The explanation for the madness that erupted before feels slightly forced, just doesn’t make much sense and ultimately in my opinion changes the dynamic of the whole movie altogether. I’d actually rather be given no real explanation for what occurred than be given some sort of societal lesson at the end of the movie. It all comes pretty much out of left field, reaching a more sci fi inspired explanation that requires some serious suspension of disbelief and a much more surreal dream like approach that feels a bit out of place here ultimately. I guess it’s much more of a symbolic presentation, at least towards the end and perhaps I just wasn’t expecting it to move fully into that mode.
In a way I guess I can compare it to M. Knight Shyamalan’s movies, where sometimes his twist ending undoes some of the brilliantly crafted terror that came before it by trying to prove some deeper “meaningful” point. However, that’s just my opinion as I know many love those movies that tie into real world issues. That all being said, I highly recommend ‘Us’ as it’s still a shit load of fun and miles above the crappy ass normal Hollywood B.S. that you’re likely to see at a big cinema. Surely one of the best horror movies of 2019, Check it out and let me know if you think I’m way off here with some of my criticisms?
Deck the halls people! I checked out the new Christmas thriller / horror flick “Better Watch Out” last night as I was beginning to crave me some holiday themed mayhem! I really had no idea just what to expect, but had heard this one had a few twists and turns under it’s belt and of course I love creepy Christmas movies so why the hell not kick off the holiday season with a possible bang. ‘Better Watch Out’ is indeed an interesting movie, especially because it of it’s clever mind game it plays at it’s nasty core. More thriller than horror, with it’s fair share comedy and seemingly lighthearted holiday seasoned set up.
This year has been a good one for hyper crazy thrillers that kick your ass all over the theater- seeing two movies so far that successfully beat the tar out of the audience. The first was the incredible ‘Green Room’ and second being ‘Don’t Breathe’ the new movie from Fede “Evil Dead” Alvarez. Let me tell ya his new movie released this last weekend is a nonstop nail biter! It lives up to the hype. It’s got the grimy goods and then some and you’re not likely to find anyone able to dose off during this crazy ass thriller.
The story is simple, set in the desolate, barren areas of Detroit Michigan, three young burglars plan to rob a down on his luck blind man who’s recently gotten a six figure payment for the death of his daughter. As you might guess things don’t go quite as planned because by now everyone knows blind people are all total badasses. I guess that’s the way it goes down in the movies anyway right? Well this particular blind guy should face off with Daredevil sometime cuz he’d likely give him a serious ass whoopin!
I really don’t want to give away much of the plot as it is full of some interesting twists and turns. What I will say is Alvarez pulls no punches here, much like his ‘Evil Dead’ reboot this one rarely gives you a chance to breathe, only this one to it’s advantage has a much more likable cast. It’s a dark and gritty tale that really excels because of it’s completely convincing actors and incredible set piece. Yeah, the blind man’s old decaying home is a perplexing dark labyrinth of nooks and crannies with plenty of surprises tucked away. You’ll never feel more frustrated about trying find an exit out as this one unfolds. This movie’s got one helluva “final girl” too played by Jane Levy, she’s definitely got the chops!
The “villain” is played with amazing ferocity by Stephen Lang who’s hulking presence gives him an almost superhuman quality. It’s strange too how this movie turns the concept of facing off with a blind person into an incredibly menacing experience. You’d think the opposite but here the fact that he IS blind is one of the most terrifying things about the whole experience. Never has sneaking around been more nerve wracking! This is easily one of the most intense movie theater experiences I’ve had in quite some time.
I highly recommend this one for people who like being on the very edge of their seats with a racing heart for 90 minutes. For those who can’t hack it this one definitely won’t give you the warm fuzzies. The movie isn’t really full of crazy gore or anything like that but it’s a tightly packed mega tense cat and mouse game unlike anything you’ve probably seen before. It’s really one giant epic battle. I’d also like to ad that this ones likely going to go down in history for making you never look at turkey baster the same. That I promise – check this out if you’re feeling like a challenge!