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  • The Purge: Election Year (2016)

    This is the third in the Purge movie series, which depicts a horrific “future” America where an annual holiday known as The Purge is used to “cleanse” the people for the rest of the year. Basically, on Purge day, all laws are suspended for 12 hours and people just go around killing each other. Funny thing is, no one mentions anything about insider trading or tax fraud.

    Election Year is almost entirely about Senator Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), who lost her entire family in a Purge, and has made it her mission to win the presidency and end the annual Purge. With a sudden twist in policy, no one is exempt from the Purge, not even government officials. Senator Roan’s security team, led by Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), must scramble to fortify her home for the impending unknown of the deadly night. Leading in the presidential polls, it’s clear the senator will be targeted.

    Another subplot involves a convenience store owner, Joe Dixon (Mykelti Williamson), who loses his Purge insurance due to rate increases and decides to do whatever it takes to save his shop from looters.

    Of course, everything goes wrong with the senator and Leo must get her to safety with help from Joe and a Purge EMT, Laney Rucker (Betty Gabriel).

    The blood and gore are definitely extreme. I like the relevance to the current state of the world, although that also adds a depressing element.

    Rating:


  • The Bay (2012)

    Told through found footage, this horror movie shows a Maryland seaside community’s deadly July 4th outbreak of a mutant parasite in the water supply.

    The host of the footage is a fresh-faced news reporter (Kether Donahue) who witnessed the events firsthand and managed to survive without being infected.

    The gore is definitely top-notch, but the “story” is rather lacking. It’s literally just a series of scenes strung together, and the characters are just people doing things in the scenes. I don’t care about them and none of it matters.

    Generally, found footage movies are gimmicky and make me nauseous from the seizure-inducing camera work. This one is better than other ones I’ve seen, but only slightly. Why can’t they have one or two characters that are fleshed out to give the audience a meaningful connection? Why isn’t there a cliche scientist character who figures out the problem and works on engineering a solution to kill all the parasites? I probably would complain about that stuff, too, but at least it would get more tacos.

    Rating:

     

     


  • It (2017)

    This new feature film adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 novel of the same name takes a much different approach than the 1990 TV mini-series. The dark and gritty tone make it one of the creepiest movies of the last several years.

    If you are unfamiliar with the story by now, there is something wrong with you. Basically, a group of kids band together in an attempt to stop a horrific clown creature from terrorizing and eventually murdering them.

    The acting is considerably good given that the majority of the cast is child actors. The writing manages to solidify and condense the first half of a very large book. It never felt rushed or improperly paced.

    If you like clowns and being scared, you will really enjoy this movie.

    Rating:


  • Jaws 3-D (1983)

    Everything you thought you knew about shark movies should just be thrown out the damn window. Billed as a 3-D movie (the awful blue and red kind), Jaws 3 goes to great lengths to point stuff at the screen.

    The main character Mike Brody is played by Dennis Quaid. He and his younger bro character, Sean, are the only link back to the other Jaws movies. Mike works as some sort of oceanic engineer or something at Sea World Orlando, where a couple of great white sharks decide to sneak in when a gate is open and unleash bloody chaos on the entire park.

    Things get good about 1 hour in when the larger great white mother shark starts killing everything as retribution for her dead baby shark.

    Other notable cast members include Louis Gossett Jr. as the main park administrator and Lea Thompson as the love interest for younger bro Sean.

    Almost all the FX shots are total garbage. You can tell immediately when it is a composite shot due to the surreal layering of the elements thrown together. Some of the shark shots seem to be reused. There is one odd scene where a scuba diver suddenly ends up completely inside the shark’s mouth/throat as it keeps chomping away until the shark teeth finally grind the meat.

    The biggest problem is too much showing the shark and the editing is so ridiculous, it feels like most of the action/suspense is going in slow motion. This becomes glaringly apparent in the climactic control room attack scene near the end. Laughable, man.

    Rating:


  • Jaws 2 (1978)

    Here we go again with the giant shark attacking swimmers on vacation and the one local sheriff who can stop it.

    This time around, Spielberg wanted nothing to do with the production, but the producers were eager to cash in on the massive box office success of the first movie.

    Returning cast included Roy Scheider (the sheriff), Lorraine Gary (the sheriff’s wife), and Murray Hamilton (the dipshit mayor). As the attacks and killings slowly increased, Sheriff Brody became increasingly paranoid due to the evidence he encountered. Unsurprisingly, the mayor wanted to throw caution to the wind, because making money is always more important than keeping people alive.

    The movie tended to meander a bit too much when it really needed to be more “pedal-to-the-metal” to keep things engaging.

    The creature FX weren’t much better than the original movie, which isn’t too surprising given how little anything could have progressed or developed over a short 3-year span. However, where the original movie tried to keep things subtle for lack of quality animatronic shark visuals, this movie was a little bit less cautious.

    As far as killer shark movies go, this one is still pretty good, but it could have been better had it tried to find its own unique voice instead of just copying the first movie whenever possible.

    Rating:


  • Uncle Sam (1996)

    It’s almost one of those “so bad it’s good” horror movies, except it never really succeeds at anything.

    After being killed in action in Kuwait, Sam Harper’s body is returned to his family, only to wake up on 4th of July as an undead, crispy critter that wants to kill a few people who aren’t being good ‘Muricans. He slays a pervy dude first and takes his mask and patriotic costume, which was perfectly unsettling much like the Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees costumes.

    It took almost 40 minutes of the 90-minute run time before the real fun began and the lead-up was not suspenseful. It was kind of like watching paint dry for 40 minutes.

    It definitely nailed the B-grade, schlocky slasher horror once it actually got around to it, but much of the action seemed to be going in slow motion.

    The only character worth a damn was this stupid kid who happened to be the nephew of zombie Sam. This was no doubt done to allow for the kid, named Jody, to call him “Uncle Sam” whenever referring to him.

    The final climax involves blowing Sam up with a giant cannon. It was pretty awesome until you realize how easy it would be to just get out of the way of a giant cannon before it goes off.

    The jury is still out on whether I want to add this one to my list of yearly 4th of July films. It’s mostly not good, but there are a couple of fun moments that make it at least marginally watchable.

    Rating:


  • Jaws (1975)

    It’s never safe to go back in the water and most kids stayed very far away from the beach after this movie came out.

    Stephen Spielberg crafts a terrifying tale from the novel by Peter Benchley about a great white shark hunting near a summer tourist island.

    Not only is it one of the best summer horror/suspense movies, but also my favorite 4th of July flick.

    As people start dying in the jaws of this large animal, the town sheriff (Roy Scheider) must do what’s necessary to save the town residents and the town’s reputation. With the help of an ocean scientist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a crusty shark hunter (Robert Shaw), the three set out on a fishing boat to hunt the shark before anyone else is killed.

    The writing and acting are pretty good, but what really stands out is the menace of the aquatic beast which is largely unseen at first, due to problems with the mechanical sharks. I think if the shark had been more visible early on, it would have killed the build up of suspense. Combine the subtle creature encounters with John Williams’ riveting score (dun-duh dun-duh) and you’ve got a recipe for soiled undies.

    After 40+ years, it looks and feels a bit dated, but the story and the characters hold up for yearly viewings.

    Rating:


  • You’ve Been Warned…

    So, you thought you’d have to wait until October to get some new horror movie reviews? You were dead wrong.

    Starting on July 1st, I’ll be reviewing seven movies to celebrate the carnage that is our Independence Day.

    Here is the tentative list of mayhem:

    • Uncle Sam (1996)
    • Jaws (1975)
    • The Purge: Election Year (2016)
    • The Bay (2012)
    • Jaws 2 (1978)
    • You Are Not Alone (2016)
    • Jaws 3-D (1983)

    Prepare yourself for the week of patriotic summer terror!