Lotta characters in this – at least the third feature film based on joke Grindhouse trailers – but what’s important is that the survivors of a black friday riot are being hunted, captured, and posed at a private “turkey” dinner by bereft psycho cop Patrick Dempsey, who loved riot victim Gina Gershon. The killer hides behind a pilgrim mask until the climactic parade, when he swaps out for a killer klown mask. Lotta nastiness – one girl gets corncob holders in the ears then chucked into a table saw. Enough victims and false leads to get over the 100 minute mark. A gross good time, but not substantially better than the two-minute version. I’ve skipped everything by Roth for sixteen years – since Hostel 2 he’s done a couple TV things, a shark documentary, a remake, a kids movie, a cannibal horror, and a Keanu Reeves movie I watched the last ten minutes of.

When you’ve been facially mutilated and cannot call for help:

“Kamen” just means masked, he’s a masked rider. More shin silliness, this one hitting some Smoking Causes Coughing heights of absurdity. Professor Shinya Tsukamoto explains all backstory to our Rider (Sosuke Ikematsu, star of Tsukamoto’s Killing) then promptly dies, melting into soap bubbles, as do all deceased heroes and villains. Rider is strong, punching henchmen into fountains of blood, teams up with Ruri-Ruri (Minami Hamabe of the new Godzilla Minus One) to defeat a series of insect-themed baddies.

Some real Evangelion-ish lines, and I like how the movie comes to a full stop for long minutes while a character calmly unpacks their emotions. Android Ruri’s evil brother Butterfly and Rider 1 have a fatal duel, but there’s a second Rider (he and Butterfly were both voices in Inu-Oh) who will carry on the legacy, going on new adventures with Rider 1’s spirit inside his helmet, a Heat Vision & Jack situation. Government guys Tachi and Taki are the only actors who’ve been in all three Shin movies. One villain was Ichi The Killer himself – why do I never recognize him? – another played the wife whose husband is an alien in Before We Vanish.

Surveillance (2008, Jennifer Lynch)

The attraction here was Bill Pullman standing on a (lost) highway in a Lynch joint, but now that I’ve seen Boxing Helena I’m being more selective about my Lynches. On fast-forward the movie looks like 100% conversations in rooms and cars. Something has gone down in one of those cars as Julia Ormond (Inland Empire) dumps a body, then a rough-looking Pullman is explaining the murders we missed to cop hostage Kent Harper, we see them in slow-mo flashback with Bill in a gruesome mask. “You probably read the end of a book first, don’t ya? That is no way to live” – Bill is casting aspersions on the entire Last Ten Minutes project here! His girl Julia arrives and gets very turned on by murdering the remaining hostages. I think the twist is that FBI Agent Ormond was a serial conspirator all along. David Lynch sings over the closing credits.

Chained (2012, Jennifer Lynch)

Another serial killer/hostage story with another past-his-prime actor, yay. Vincent D’Onofrio is hiding Angie in the crawlspace, her would-be rescuer is a vampire-looking boy in the garage. I think he’s Evan Bird of Maps to the Stars – these two turn the tables on Vincent and bury him down there. Evan was presumed dead, looks up his dad Jake Weber, but dad apparently did something dark relating to the kid’s disappearance so he has to die, then I guess the vampire boy goes home to the late serial killer’s house. No David song over the credits, just footsteps of the boy walking through the house. Between these Jennifer made an Indian snake-woman movie, and she has a couple of new things out, but let’s just act like she doesn’t.

Saw VI (2009, Kevin Greutert)

Where we left off in volume 15, “bland-looking Costas Mandylor” was the only known survivor of whatever traps Dead Jigsaw is still laying. Big climax here with too many people and a minute left on the countdown clock. Amanda and Deathbed Tobin Bell both get flashback cameos, giving new context for stuff from part 3 which I haven’t considered since 2007. Peter Outerbridge is our man here, being taught a lesson in front of his wife and some business client he was cruel to. Jigsaw appears on VHS to explain how the client’s survivors can melt Peter with acid, which they promptly do. Costas barely, bloodily escapes from his head-smooshing trap. And I’m afraid Jigsaw’s voiceover was telling us the meaning of all this, but the mixing was bad and it got lost under the music. It’s hard to understand the titles, but next comes Saw 7: 3D: The Final Chapter, then Jigsaw, then Saw X (pronounced “socks”) which is part nine but numeral ten, what am I missing?

Pulse (2006, Jim Sonzero)

They remade Pulse, which seems like the worst idea, but I’ve always wondered… co-adapted by Wes Craven and a writer on Greta. This is “free with ads” so it ain’t really free. Kristen V-Mars Bell has reached the server room, but reality around her is melting and she’s violently assaulted by the editor and the vfx, but before she can be drag-me-to-hell’d, Ian intervenes and uploads a killer virus to crash the system, but the ghosts reboot and the couple flees into an ugly 2006 apocalypse, when everyone was using CG but before it was good. Computer ghosts can break car windows and get punched in the face, ok. After this Sonzero crawled off to video games, but Craven must not have held Kristen Bell responsible since he cast her in Scream 4.

Child’s Play (2019, Lars Klevberg)

While the Chucky sequels hadn’t even run out of steam they rebooted the original with Aubrey Plaza for some reason. Chucky is ugly now, and has the power to control all toys so he sends an army of quadcopter drones and teddy ruxpins after a toy store full of kids and parents. Or is it not a toy store – there’s a refrigerator section, and the kids fight back with a hedge trimmer. Aubrey is being held hostage so Andy lets his badly dubbed friends escape and goes on the attack, whacking Chucky with a RoboCop toy then stabbing him through the heart. Chuck is then shot by Brian Tyree Henry (where’d he come from) and decapitated by Plaza. I didn’t get to hear Mark Hamill say “give me the power I beg of you!!” Andy was already a veteran of Annabelle and Lights Out and went on to The Fabelmans, not a bad career. The director made another bad movie the same year, and the writer is already hard at work on next year’s bad movies.

Renfield (2023, Chris McKay)

This year’s first Dracula movie reportedly had a fun Nic Cage performance and nothing else to recommend it. Oh no the music’s too loud again, and I came just in time to see Nick Hoult kill rival Jean-Ralphio then confront a wooden Awkwafina. Cage has no lines here, explodes into a CG batstorm, then during the big showdown we get flashbacks to Ren’s group therapy sessions. Then Nick and Hoult triumph and chop up Drac. Good tumblr joke, but then they repeat it, and the movie peters out. This is my tenth Nick Hoult movie and I have never once recognized him. McKay made The Tomorrow War, the writers are from Walking Dead and Rick and Morty.

Alone in the Dark (2005, Uwe Boll)

I once thought it would be funny to watch some movies by Boll, with his reputation of being the worst to ever do it, but I checked out House of the Dead and it did me damage. Now every Shocktober I see his follow-up’s title pop up, so let’s consider its ending then put Boll’s name behind us forever. Christian Slater and gang are held at gunpoint by doomed Prof. Matthew Walker then they escape into a hell of CG beasts which is honestly no worse-looking than Pulse. Stephen Dorff has to sacrifice himself to blow up the beasties while Slater and Tara Reid escape to… the front yard of a nice large house, which they wander through, finding only a dead nun. All these movies just wish they were Resident Evil.

C.H.U.D. (1984, Douglas Cheek)

Ever since the early video store days I’ve known I need to see this one – the trouble is that everyone says it’s bad. The chuds are gross mutants with flashlight eyes, but trapped Kim Greist (Brazil) has got a sword and starts choppin. Chris Curry (Starship Troopers) is radioing Daniel Stern (Home Alone), and I dunno which guy is John Heard, maybe the hero threatening this goverment flunky who’s risking/losing his life to cover up the waste disposal/mutant development project. Feels like if Larry Cohen’s idiot brother did an urban Swamp Thing reboot.

All today’s movies found on amazon prime, which is a wasteland: searched titles appear multiple times, as free-to-watch, pay-to-watch, and unavailable, just like Amazon’s main store and its utter catalog confusion. Canceling plans to watch the endings of The Howling parts 2-6, because that’s an entire hour I can spend on a Tod Browning movie. I also made a Disney Plus list with both Haunted Mansions, both Hocus Pocuses, recent Marvel crap, Wrinkle in Time, Black Hole, Black Cauldron, etc, but gotta remember to stick to the mission and not watch bad movies for the sake of watching bad movies.

Memorial screening for Friedkin. I thought about rewatching Bug, but should really check this out – I’d avoided it after deciding Wages of Fear couldn’t be topped. And maybe not, but nearly equaled. Same story of two trucks with redundant supplies of unstable dynamite heading for an oil-well fire over treacherous terrain, but this time the drivers are more desperate than ever, after an extended intro showing each of their criminal enterprises that led them to hide out in South America under fake names. 1970s Lead Character Roy Scheider drives with shady Francisco Rabal, and in the other truck is gentleman fraudster Bruno Cremer (a Brisseau star) and Jerusalem bomber Amidou (later in the Friedkin-indebted Ronin).

The great Filipe Furtado:

What for Clouzot is social need, for Friedkin is self-punishment. First world crimes reimagined in a third world purgatory, an amusement park of unforgiven nature. The beauty is that everything is translated in pure action … Francisco Rabal’s taciturn killer is the film’s heart and Bruno Cremer’s masochist banker it is clear-eyed soul.

OK, sure, I guess. But every time I’m almost having a fun time with the dour zombie-action movie, it stops for some “fan service” callback to the Sam Raimi movies.

Evil Mom is Alyssa Sutherland of shipbound nazi vampire movie Blood Vessel, her dead necronomicon-meddling son Morgan Davies was in a Willem Dafoe movie, and her sister who survives while rescuing only the youngest kid is Lily Sullivan of a Picnic at Hanging Rock remake.

IMDB says Cronin’s The Hole in the Ground “premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2019 to critical acclaim,” but that’s not how I remember it.

Will Sloan:

“What if they did Evil Dead in an apartment instead of a cabin in the woods?” is not an interesting enough spin on the material.

A darker remake of High Sierra; all the characters here are worse, corrupt and quicker to turn on each other. Virginia Mayo very good, always looks like she has secret access to a well-equipped powder room in the dusty abandoned church where they’re hiding out, and bolder than Ida Lupino, gets killed along with Joel “Bogie” McCrea when he runs into the high sierras (err, the rockies).

Doctor Henry Hull is recast here as the girl’s dad, and Dorothy Malone (Written on the Wind) doesn’t just turn Joel down, she tries to turn him in for the reward money. Joel isn’t released from jail – he’s sprung by “the old man” who pairs him with two assholes for a train robbery. Tough guy Reno (Destination Moon star John Archer) and smart guy Duke (James Mitchell, also in Joel’s Stars in My Crown) get themselves hanged, and I think the traitor cop gets shot. All different dialogue, and just as good.

L-R: smart guy, tough guy, Mayo

A sorry follow-up to Shin Godzilla – the editing and camera angles all wacky, dialogue too overtalky. SG was talky too, but it felt like a developing story, while this is more a season of television condensed into a feature. Ultraman saves the day, disappears, turns evil, fights himself… the girl who likes him disappears, turns giant… undersea kaiju are joined by two different scheming extraterrestrials… despite all this, the movie and its kaiju-defense-team characters are mainly concerned with Kaminaga, the handsome guy who uses a wiimote to transform into Ultraman. Can’t say I wasn’t entertained, though.

Unlike in the Godzilla movie, the human team does nothing useful here:

Higuchi is a Hideaki Anno associate, who directed the Attack on Titan movies and did effects for the 1990’s Gamera series. Anno wrote this as the start of a trilogy, is also working on a Shin Kamen Rider, and I didn’t realize the Evangelion theatrical reboot is part of the Shin project. Kaminaga played the rival lawyer in Ace Attorney, his coworker/love interest starred in Before We Vanish and Our Little Sister, and the Drive My Car dude is their boss.

Just a couple of aliens on the swings:

Irma Vep (2022, Olivier Assayas)

Mira in the catsuit > Director Rene > Gottfried > Mira not in the catsuit > everything else

Mdou Moctar opening theme is always an incentive to watch the next episode, and I think the title graphics are a reference to Leaud’s experimental re-edit. The film-scratching is also referenced when director Rene breaks down and gets temporarily replaced by some superhero director, but in this version he comes to terms with things, and finishes the shoot peacefully. You can’t scratch up the negative when you’re shooting in HD.

Cast and crew are constantly referencing looks and movements with the original serial, which they’re watching on their phones. And Assayas has got his own 1990’s film on his mind, bringing in a Maggie Cheung surrogate and holding a cringey psychotherapist discussion about her. They bring in meta-elements, filming Musidora’s diaries alongside the remake of her film, which probably isn’t a reference to Maggie’s Center Stage, but you never know.

Mira’s assistant is Devon Ross, a Disney fashion model. Blowhard lead cop actor in the serial is Vincent Lacoste of Smoking Causes Coughing. Alex Descas works on the budget, Carrie Brownstein as an agent. Besides the Maggie surrogate there’s footage of the real Maggie, and a big Kristen Stewart scene in the final episode. As the costumer, Rivette actress Nathalie Richard is replaced by Rivette actress Balibar, who hit the Feuilladian rooftops herself in Va Savoir (and at one point Irma goes by the name “Juliet Berto”).

Devon directs one day, is inspired by Kenneth Anger to invoke spirits with her filmmaking. Assayas knows how to invoke spirits – most literally in Personal Shopper but it’s there in all his best work, which is why the straightforward e-book drama of Non-Fiction didn’t work for me and I’m not anxious to check out Wasp Network. This version is not great – it’s overlong, episodic TV, more content than cinema, complete with tedious Conveying Information To The Viewer dialogue in the early hours and bad ADR.

Mind Over Murder (2022, Nanfu Wang)

Happy to see a True/Falser land a whole miniseries, but I’m sorry that the form seems to mandate six hour-long episodes, since this feels stretched out, with rampant footage reuse, a plodding podcast-ass show compared to the jubilant Last Movie Stars I’ve been watching at the same time. Other comparisons coming to mind: the book Devil House (an 80’s murder case where the number of participants keeps changing) and the show Wormwood (which I thought repetitive at the time, but is looking better and better).

Nebraska, showing movies in ZD:

Hero cop convicts six for a Nebraska murder, but years later a competent cop looks over the evidence by chance and realizes the whole case was a sham. The six are released, sue the county and win, now the locals are butthurt about their hero cop’s reputation and their higher taxes to pay for reconciliation. A community theater reenactment of the case appears for too little (or maybe too much) time in each episode, paying off at the end when many of the involved parties meet up at the show.

Burt, he’s just like us, watching Mind Over Murder with his phone out:

Only Murders in the Building season 1 (2021)

Martin & Martin are pathetic washed-up podcasters, Selena Gomez their companion who’s hiding a personal history with the deceased. Suspects include a cat guy, their sponsor Nathan Lane, Sting, and Selena Gomez. They get boosts from Aaron Dominguez and some obsessed fans, and sorta-boosts from Liz Lemon, detective Da’Vine Joy Randolph (also detective of Ultra City Smiths) and murderer/bassoonist Amy Ryan. Cliffhanger ending for season 2 with their arrest for killing the landlady.

Sometimes I think it’s cheesy and I should stop watching, other times there’s a Herman’s Head reference or an episode centered on Jane Lynch as Steve Martin’s stunt double and I’m totally sold. Writers include Martin (L.A. Story), John Hoffman (The Emoji Movie) and people who worked on It’s Always Sunny, Chuck, Barry, and uh, Family Guy. Directors: Jamie Babbit (But I’m a Cheerleader), Gillian Robespierre (Obvious Child), Don Scardino (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) and Cherien Dabis (Amreeka).

This SHOCKtober we are counting down the days until the new Hellraiser Remake comes out, and starting the celebration with this Clive Barker adaptation. Seems odd that another Books of Blood semi-anthology TV movie would come out so soon after the last one, instead of like a Masters of Horror-style Books of Blood series, or a Weaveworld adaptation, or really anything else. Trying not to focus on the fact that this (smells like content) movie and the new Hellraiser are both “Hulu originals,” maybe there’s still hope.

Kicking off the anthology framing story, hitmen Yul Vazquez (War of the Worlds) and Andy McQueen (Clifton Hill) are after the Book. But we’ll get back to them in a bit – first, Jenna (Britt Robertson of Scream 4) is sad since her parents don’t understand her, is off her meds, runs away since mom is “sending her back to the farm.” Jenna’s x-men superpower is she can loudly hear the sounds of people eating. She stops in an internet cafe and books an airbnb (what year is this?) in a spooky house with hosts Freda Foh Shen (Ad Astra) and Cronenberg regular Nicholas Campbell, has a noise-cancelled sleep paralysis nightmare and pukes CG bugs, then discovers the walls are full of people (“we relieved them of their eyes and tongues”).

You’d be depressed too if you lived in this house without curtains:

Airbnb hosts:

Next, a professional fraud-debunker (Anna Friel, not of Stephen King’s IT, but of Pierce Brosnan’s I.T.) is confronted by a “speaker for the dead” (Rafi Gavron: Aarfy in a previously-unknown Catch-22 miniseries). This guy seems to be the real thing, and Anna is convinced until he drunkenly admits his scam. Alas, the dead have highways, and the boy gets cut up by ghosts, becoming the valuable “book” the stupid hitmen think they’re looking for. And the depressed girl from part one goes back to the spooky house to be relieved of the burdens of seeing and speaking and be buried alive in their floor.

Have I mentioned that the dead have highways?

From the producers of Stallone’s Lock Up, King’s Dark Tower, King’s Bag of Bones, the Barker Dread, Final Destination, Unstoppable, Cabin in the Woods, and Family Guy (those are all different producers). The director worked with a more distinguished cast than this one on the series Cosmos, aka that show everyone thought I was talking about when I used to recommend the Zulawski movie.