(1999) The Astronaut’s Wife

Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron are great but their performances still weren’t really enough.

The initial moments of something-is-wrong in this film are pretty great. I like the somewhat open-ended vague premise as it really could potentially lead anywhere. The direction of the film establishes pretty quickly and from there it just kind of slow jerks you without ever giving you that climax.

The CGI elements just didn’t work for me personally and kind of in the same way that they don’t work in a lot of alien based sci-fi films. The thing is, I have no fucking clue what the aliens look like so the possibilities are endless. Since I’m already never wow’d by CGI, especially from 1999, any sort of reveal is an inevitable letdown.

This isn’t an original concept and I would have loved to see them go much darker with it. It’s just such a frustrating film to watch if you get easily annoyed with characters who make irrational decisions.

4.5/10

(2016) The Disappointments Room

Objectively, what you get with this film, really isn’t all that terrible. I think that I was happy to find it at 3.9/10 on iMDB but some part of me feels like that’s a bit unjust. The problem with this film is really that, there’s not much going on.

Kate Beckinsale is pretty good but even she felt like she was squeezing everything she could out of a shallow character and still coming up short. Ultimately, especially with her performance, you get an exploitive horror film about mental illness that barely manages to scratch the surface of anything substantially interesting.

Production wise it’s pretty good- Oh shit. Okay, okay, I just remembered what I wanted to say. So the films kind of underlying secret or twist gets revealed in the middle. I truly believe that someone in post production or something thought the twist was stupid so they would kind of introduce it earlier? Maybe they still considered the ending a twist? I have no idea really.

Anyways, this was very forgettable.

5/10

(2016) It Stains the Sands Red

I’m kind of just sitting here digesting this one as I’m working out this review and I have to say that despite a very b-movie opening, this one impressed me. I enjoyed the somewhat original concept on a tired sub-genre. It was successful on a technical level as well. I quite enjoyed the bright, slightly oversaturated picture.

Kind of like how I’m working out this review as I’m writing it, I got the sense that the filmmaker was kind of working out this movie as he made it. The setup in general is kind of shallow, basic and generic but whatever. As soon as we get into the meat of the film, I’m instantly impressed at how entertaining it is just to watch this girl bake out in the desert with a single zombie following her around. It’s commendable how seemingly natural the progression was within the dynamic relationship of our protagonist and zombie. I assumed this couldn’t be anything but boring but I was proven wrong.

At some point though, this film just runs out of gas. Other characters, albeit briefly, are introduced and the lack of talent really crop dusts this film. It’s not a total ruiner but despite the practical effects remaining high quality, I sort of just can’t seem to really care about the ending.

Definitely glad I watched this one and if the premise interests you, despite not thinking it’s a great film, I can still recommend this one. I believe it’s streaming on Amazon video right now, hopefully it’ll still be on there when this review goes up.

6.5/10

(1961) Pit and the Pendulum

This is another really solid Poe/Corman film that Vincent Price dominates. It’s super atmospheric with the great set pieces that you’d expect.

I think the story could have seemed over simplistic in an on-screen adaptation if it weren’t for Price’s dynamic character. It’s a solidly paced run straight up until the finale.

That’s really it, pretty straightforward but entertaining stuff. If you like Roger Corman and Vincent Price, it’s not one to miss.

7/10

(1990) Der Todeskin: The Death King

While often wavering between the blunt, literal message and depressive expressionism, Der Todesking manages to feel all too real. It’s one of the best arthouse style horror films I’ve seen to date.

Jörg Buttgereit is definitely a director that doesn’t hold back visually. If you’ve seen his more well known film Nekromantik, you can expect some of that visual style in this film as well. It definitely feels more in place in the confines of this films topics.

Dealing with depression and death are almost always messages that will be received more intensely by those directly affected by it. I’ve personally dealt with anxiety and depression all my life and the overarching theme of just rotting hits close to home. It’s definitely comforting to feel that connection to, well, people in general who understand but also specifically filmmakers who are opening up these outlets for us. Seeing a film like this definitely doesn’t make life worse for me, I’m happy to really kind of remind myself that our individual conditions are really just shitty human conditions that anyone could wind up with. 

The soundtrack is also wonderful. It’s simple but beautiful. I’m really blown away that the same filmmaker who did Nekromantik, did this. I felt like that one was really over exploitive and ultra-graphic for shock purposes. I’m happy he was able to reel it in and find something meaningful to build around.

9/10