42nd Street Cinema



Film Diary #2 - Monday 24/10/2022 - Sunday 30/10/2022

Second entry into the Film Diary; covering films I've watched within the span of a week, accompanied with a short review and rating. These reviews won't appear under the index of reviews as I prefer to keep that reserved for more lengthier entries.

Films watched between Monday 24/10/2022 and Sunday 30/10/2022.

Monday 24/10/2022
Fade To Black (1980)
Fade To Black (1980)
Director: Vernon Zimmerman

A love ode to not only classic horror cinema, but cinema itself. Lonely boy Eric Binford (wonderfully portrayed by Dennis Christopher) is a true cinephile; obsessed to the point of delusion with Marilyn Monroe and the Universal Monsters. An interesting character study; the film toys with conventional slasher tropes and sees Eric offing his "oppressors" guised as a multitude of monsters. It had been quite a while since I first saw this via a cruddy transfer on an illicit streaming site back in the mid to late 00s. It made an impression on me, perhaps on a personal level there were parts of Eric's character I could empathise with. This time, I found the film a bit slow; it plods along and is probably 15-20 minutes too long, but I still like it, and it also features an early minor role from a young Mickey Rourke!



Tuesday 25/10/2022
V/H/S/2 (2013)
V/H/S/2 (2013)
Director: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Evans, Jason Eisener

Revisited this along with the original & further sequels with Emily. Mixing a variety of genre cinema, the V/H/S series were a breath of fresh air for the anthology film format; beginning with the 2012 release of the first film. Gimmicky; yes, schlocky; you betcha, entertaining; always. I think V/H/S/2 ranks at the top among the lot; it has a winning combination of horror and humour, the most entertaining stories, and some of the best looking effects. The Indonesian segment by Timo Tjahjanto & Gareth Evans, "Safe Haven", is arguably the most talked about and rightfully so, it's a wild ride and truly unforgettable. I also get a real kick out of Jason Eisener's segment, "Slumber Party Alien Abduction", the gut punch of "Tank", the dog's death is a sobering note to go out on. Other segments include a delightful assortment of pervy private investigators, sci-fi eyeballs, relentless ghosts, and a semi-sentient zombie cyclist.



Tuesday 25/10/2022
Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo (1977)
Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo (1977)
Director: Stuart Hagmann

A made-for-TV nature run amok feature and it's not an entirely bad entry, but unfortunately nothing to really shout about either. Coffee bean dealers smuggle more than illegals when their flight from Ecuador transports a killer crop of tarantulas to the U.S. Features a blink and you'll miss it performance from 42nd Street Cinema fave, Tom Atkins, as one of the smugglers. Slow-going, the performances are decent but I didn't find it to be too memorable, save for a few choice encounters of people vs. spiders. I feel the same about Ants: It Happened at Lakewood Manor (1977), good; but nothing too memorable.



Friday 28/10/2022
Dr. Lamb (1992)
Dr. Lamb (1992)
Director: Danny Lee Sau-Yin, Billy Tang

Based on the crimes of Hong Kong serial killer, Lam Kor-Wan, Dr. Lamb is a gruesome exercise in CAT III cinema. Half police procedural/crime drama, half splattery horror. The film looks fantastic with a ubiquitous blue tint to the picture. Simon Yam is great, assuredly all performances are enjoyable, but Yam steals the show. Nicely paced with lashings of sleaze, gore, and an interesting narrative structure; most of the film is told through flashbacks. Check it out.



Friday 28/10/2022
Massacre In Dinosaur Valley (1985)
Massacre In Dinosaur Valley (1985)
Director: Michele Massimo Tarantini

A late entry into the Italian cannibal / jungle adventure genre, starring Michael Sopkiw. Also known as Cannibal Ferox II, though having little in common with that film, the plot sees a group of fossil hunters suffering a plane crash in the Amazon, forced to survive a perilous green hell. Massacre In Dinosaur Valley has a bit of an odd tone as it doesn't continue the trend of seriousness or severity like the rest of its ilk and at times feels rather like an absurd comedy. External shots of the plane crash are mind blowing, as it just features a toy airplane crashing through some shrubs. Bravo!



Saturday 29/10/2022
Strike Commando 2 (1988)
Strike Commando 2 (1988)
Director: Bruno Mattei, Claudio Fragasso

Low-budget Italian actioner from two of the country's most infamous directors, names that would ordinarily have me rolling my eyes, wondering: "Do I really need to subject myself to this?" and "How bad could it be?". Turns out; not that bad at all.
First time checking this one out, but I had previously seen the first Strike Commando (1986), not that there's any continuity!
Starring Brent Huff as Michael Ransom (in the first Strike Commando, Ransom was played by Reb Brown) and Harry Potter's Dumbledore, Richard Harris as Major Vic Jenkins. A good film that benefits from a couple of drinks, I had some fun with this one. The stunts are great, acting is hammy, and there's moments of cringe-inducing dialogue between Huff and co-star Mary Stävin. It is everything I could have hoped for. Check it out.



Sunday 30/10/2022
V/H/S: Viral (2014)
V/H/S: Viral (2014)
Director: Marcel Sarmiento, Gregg Bishop, Nacho Vigalondo, Justin Benson, Aaron Scott Moorhead, Todd Lincoln

I mentioned the strongest and now we move-on to the weakest entry in the V/H/S franchise. There is some fun to be had here, as the individual segments themselves aren't too bad, but the film is marred by atrocious CGI / visual effects and a wraparound story that is near-complete nonsense. "Dante The Great" is a good concept of the impossibility of defending against magic, but the effects begin to deter from the storytelling. The same can be said for "Bonestorm"; I was an apathetic skater kid in my adolescence so I get the whole "whatever man" vibes, but the kids actions and attitudes to the events around them are unbelievable. "Parallel Monsters" is a morbid take on the alternate universe theme and gives a whole new meaning to "monster cocks" with dark and satanic results. Overall I find it to be the worst in the series; a poor effort that's lacking a sense of enthusiasm that the previous two films possess.

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