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The Fine Art of Tactical Retreat

Apr. 10th, 2019

11:46 am - For clarity's sake

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Jan. 20th, 2017

07:40 pm - Past Misdeeds: Yoga (2009)

Through the transformation of the glorious WTF-Films into the even more glorious Exploder Button and the ensuing server changes, some of my old columns for the site have gone the way of all things internet. I’m going to repost them here in irregular intervals in addition to my usual ramblings.

Please keep in mind these are the old posts without any re-writes or improvements. Furthermore, many of these pieces were written years ago, so if you feel offended or need to violently disagree with me in the comments, you can be pretty sure I won’t know why I wrote what I wrote anymore anyhow.

Hyo-jeong (Yoo Jin) works as a host for a home shopping show. Unfortunately, her producer thinks she's starting to show her age and replaces her with a younger beauty pageant winner, the fact that Hyo-jeong is not even nearing middle age notwithstanding.

Understandably Hyo-jeong is completely broken up about this career low that also fits in well with the copious amounts of self-doubt and dissatisfaction with her life she is carrying around. Fortunately (or so she thinks) there's hope for her on the horizon. On a meeting of former class mates she had met her former friend Seon-hwa (Lee Yeong-jin). "Former" friend because Hyo-jeong one school day decided that Seon-hwa wasn't pretty enough to associate with. But now Seon-hwa suddenly looks like the ghost of a supermodel.

After Hyo-jeong is fired, she meets Seon-hwa again and manages to convince her to tell her how she managed to change her appearance this much. Turns out Seon-hwa took part in a very special yoga retreat run by a former acting star and well-known beauty that completely changed her life.

Hyo-jeong talks herself into a place in that special yoga class too. Together with four other women feeling in need of "physical perfection" and a weird yoga trainer, she is locked into a rather rundown building full of greenish mold. There, the women are supposed to follow a rigorous yoga regimen and have to follow some rather peculiar rules (no eating! no mirrors! no showering until one hour after the training has ended! no cell phones!) that are supposed to isolate them from problematic influences and purify their energies. Still, only one of the women will be able to reach the goal of (and I quote) "perfect beauty" through this.

While Hyo-jeong and the other women have increasingly strange and dangerous experiences, that might have to do with the fasting regimen or just your usual supernatural shenanigans, Hyo-jeong's boyfriend stumbles over a dying director and finds some expository information about the actress who owns the school for us, the audience. The actress' story of being ousted by her director and (at least the latter is suggested) lover when live sound recordings for movies finally arrive in South Korea at the end of the 70s has some parallels to Hyo-jeong's life, and very possibly of a lot of women working in showbiz.

Obviously, whatever evil there is afoot in yoga class must have to do with this past unpleasantness.

At first, I was less than convinced by (female and feminist, at least in my reading of the film) director Yoon Jae-yeon's Yoga. 29-year old Yoo Jin is really a bit hard too swallow as woman fired from her TV job for having one wrinkle too many, especially since there aren't even any fake signs of aging plastered into her face. Now, I'm actually convinced that this is part of the film's point: that the societal demands on the appearance of women are so absurd that you can look like Yoo Jin and will still be looked at as flawed. It also helps that the feeling of beatenness Yoo Jin manages to convey is terribly convincing, as if her Hyo-jeong was carrying the problems of a much older woman around with herself. It only goes to show again that having been the member of a girl group does not necessarily mean one does not have talent for acting.

It all fits quite nicely into the film's basic message which seems to be: society's demands on women to be "perfect" (whatever that may mean) are so high that the only way to fulfil them is by becoming a soulless husk to be filled by the expectations of others and your own ability to be cruel to other women to perpetuate the problem. Yoon puts so much emphasis on the latter part that one could be tempted to interpret it as misogynist, but I think her point is more to show a system that - once it has been set in place - perpetuates himself without the need for much input by men. Once the impetus is given, people are all too good at building their own cages.

I was pretty impressed by Yoon Jae-yeon's other directorial effort, Wishing Stairs (a part of the consistently good to excellent Whispering Corridors series), and found that film to be highly influenced by the Italian giallo, especially the films of Dario Argento. Yoga again shows an Argento influence in the framing of sequences, production design and lighting (I hope you like green), not so much in movement and editing, but this time the parallels seem to be more to the Argento of Suspiria. Which, I think, is a perfect film to be influenced by when you're making a horror piece that's more based on dream-logic and metaphorical logic than on straight plotting and realism. Don't misunderstand me, though. Yoon as a director may show the influence of Argento, but she is much more than a mere copyist, taking certain stylistic elements of Argento and others typical of slick South Korean filmmaking of the last decade and making them completely her own.

Although I admire Yoon's directorial style, and appreciate her imbuing her film with meaning beyond "Oh, that's a nice gore effect!", I have one larger problem with Yoga. While watching it, I found the film intellectually and aesthetically stimulating, but emotionally very distant. Basically, I was thinking about the film and appreciating it, but not feeling it, especially not as a creepy or scary movie. I'm not sure if that's part of me being a guy and not understanding the incredible pressure on women on an emotional level, or a flaw of the film, though, so I hope that won't keep anybody reading this away from Yoga.

After all, even if the film "only" engages on an intellectual level, that is more than can be said about a lot of movies.

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Jan. 19th, 2017

06:49 pm - Zoltan, Hound of Dracula (1977)

aka Dracula’s Dog

While excavating whatever in Romania, some Soviet soldiers stumble upon the crypt of the family Dracula, all family members apparently properly staked in their coffins. Alas, during the night watch, a sleepy guard without basic folkloristic knowledge frees one of the staked undead. It’s…Zoltan, Dracula’s rather large (vampire) doggy! Well, actually, Zoltan is more the dog of old Drac’s Renfield (or in the film’s parlance, “fractional lamia”) Veidt Schmidt (Reggie Nalder). After dispatching the soldier, Zoltan awakens Schmidt, and off they trot to find themselves a new master.

For this, they need to find the last of the Dracula family, who had been secreted out of the country when he was still a small boy. He’s all grown up now, going by the name of Michael Drake (Michael Pataki) and living the life of the working rich (or as the Americans say, “upper middleclass”) together with his wife Marla (Jan Shutan), their kids Linda (Libby Chase) and Steve (John Levin), as well as a dog couple and their new pups. Michael is obviously no vampire (please insert joke about bloodsucking upper classes here), but that doesn’t mean Zoltan and Schmidt – well, mostly Zoltan – aren’t going to try to turn him into one.

It certainly offers a nice opportunity for this sort of shenanigans that the Drakes are just going off on a camping trip in their RV somewhere a bit isolated from other campers. It’s all set for our bad guys to create a tiny vampire dog army to bite Michael, instead of just grabbing him and be done with it.

Fortunately, Romanian fearless vampire hunter Inspector Branko (José Ferrer) is on the case, and might just come to provide rescue and exposition before Zoltan is finished sniffing Michael’s butt.

As you probably realized already when reading its title, Albert Band’s Zoltan, Hound of Dracula is a pretty daft movie. Or rather, it is about half of the time, for some of its ideas are actually rather interesting, if one can only get away from the basic silliness of the vampire dog, the unfortunate glowy eyes effect the dog vampires have, the unnecessarily complicated plan to vampirize Michael the bad guys have, and so on and so forth.

About half of these screwy ideas are at least rather funny, like the vampire dog army part of the villains’ master plan, or the film’s final “shock” scene that is based on that most horrifying of creatures, an adorable vampire puppy. The other half, alas, is just a bit dumb without going off either into the stratosphere of the really bizarre or managing to reach the point where you just accept the stupid bits as a normal parts of the film’s world.

On the other hand, Zoltan’s isn’t trying to be funny at all. The film shows total conviction of being Very Serious Shit, and in some scenes, this approach does pay off. Despite everything around them, most of the dog attacks are pretty well done and suspenseful, with the short siege sequence the film’s obvious high point much preferable to its actual climax. In general, Band does manage some rather moody scenes that make effective use of the outdoors locations; unfortunately, in other scenes, things bog down to mediocre TV movie levels with basically nailed on camera, adding another somewhat schizophrenic element to the film.

Reggie Nalder certainly has the right presence for his role but I find it rather difficult to take a villain all that seriously who more often than not doesn’t actually do anything but lets his dog do all the work. Dracula apparently wasn’t a man of good henchmen choices. The rest of the acting is pleasantly competent, even when the actors have to fight through dialogue that probably aims for naturalistic but lands on mildly improbable and generally bland.

Which really is Zoltan’s problem in a nutshell: it’s neither strange or plain bad enough to be enjoyed in this way, not consciously funny enough to work as a comedy, nor so consistently effective I’m ever able to completely forget how silly it is. It’s still a film worth watching at least once in one’s life, mind you, if only to compare it with Devil Dog and Monster Dog.

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Jan. 18th, 2017

07:56 pm - In short: Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (John Malkovich) is filming Nosferatu, his great, unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. Unbeknownst to anyone but Murnau, the man playing the vampire Orloff, Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe), is in fact an actual vampire playing an actor playing a vampire. Murnau has bought his cooperation by promising him his lead actress Greta Schröder (Catherine McCormack) once the shoot is over, perhaps with the thought to betray him.

Though once the vampire starts to become impatient and sets teeth to some of the crew, it becomes quickly clear that the director is willing to – quite literally - sacrifice anyone on the altar of his art, apart from himself, of course.

That latter bit is one of the things E. Elias Merhige’s strange (in all the good ways) horror film, drama, dark comedy Shadow of the Vampire understands much better than most films concerned with questions of art and sacrifice: how it’s very often others who pay his price, while the artist takes on the pose of suffering. Consequently, Merhige’s view on artistic production seems cynical bordering on the outright bitter, Dafoe’s Schreck embodying all kinds of emotional horrors, among them the worst sides of certain artist types that, like the film’s Murnau, would commit every atrocity as long as they can excuse it with their art, in classic horror film style externalizing internal horrors.

At the same time as Shadow of the Vampire is an appropriately horrific look at the dark aspects of the artistic impulse with a vampire as a metaphor, it is also a horror movie whose vampire is quite real, an often visually darkly poetic film, and also a comedy with a wickedly dark sense of humour.

All three of these aspects are embodied in Dafoe’s fantastic portrayal of a thing so ancient it has forgotten what it means to be human, a monster grotesque, pathetic, and dangerous all at the same time.

How Merhige manages to keep all these different aspects of his film in check without them tearing apart Shadow of the Vampire while dragging it in all directions, I’m honestly not sure. A pact with the devil, perhaps? In any case, he does, and leaves us with a film so rich I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed trying to make sense about it.

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Jan. 17th, 2017

06:34 pm - Blair Witch (2016)

A video supposedly found in the haunted woods around Burkittsville (now only nominally located in Maryland but actually shot in the well-worn woods of British Columbia every horror fan knows so well by now they’ll never look strange or frightening again) appears on the Net. James (James Allen McCune), the brother of Heather of “vanished in Blair Witch Project” fame, believes he recognizes his sister in a reflection and decides to rope in his best friend Peter (Brandon Scott), Peter’s girlfriend Ashley (Corbin Reid), and film student Lisa (Callie Hernandez) to look for any trace of Heather.

At first, James’s project seems rather more organized than the outing of Heather and her friends but once they are in the woods – taking on Lane (Wes Robinson) and Talia (Valorie Curry) the people who found the video that incited the whole thing too – GPS, a cute little drone, and the superior technology of 2014 don’t help them any better than the slightly lower tech did the people they’ve come looking for.

Adam Wingard’s (as always written by Simon Barrett) new sequel to one of my favourite horror films of all time is one of those films I wish I liked more than I actually do. This is not a cynical, unlikeable cash-in, I believe, at least not from Wingard’s and Barrett’s position (Lionsgate, on the other hand…).

The filmmakers harbour obvious love and respect for the original Blair Witch - though I’m pretty sure they and I would disagree in many points about what makes it special - yet also are clearly going in with the intent of not just repeating the film’s beats and ideas. It’s not an attempt at deconstructing the original as it is one of giving its ideas slight twists while never outright contradicting any established lore, which isn’t that difficult when working from a film amongst whose strengths was the mythical vagueness to much what was going in it and around it.

These new twists are generally clever, and usually well executed, alas they are to a large degree also going in exactly the direction you’d expect a modern horror movie to go. The inherent weirdness and semi-professionalism of the original is replaced by a slick competence that only rarely leaves space to treat the supernatural as something that feels wrong. Even with one truly weird turn in its final act, this is a genre film in all the least interesting ways. So its Blair Witch is a a large monster that’ll only kill you when you look directly at it, a thing of high concepts easily described to a Hollywood producer, instead of the thing of folklore and legend that doesn’t have a clearly definable shape and only vague rules because folklore and legend are always shifting around cores that are ideas not monsters you can make an action figure out of.

If you’d rather see Blair Witch Project dragged down into the realms of the conventional, well-made horror film, this should make you very happy. If, on the other hand, you’re me, you’ll enjoy the film well enough for the kind of thing it is but can’t help and ask yourself what exactly the point of the whole sequel is when it doesn’t do anything with the material its working off that’s new and exciting, or actually all that frightening.

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Jan. 16th, 2017

07:36 pm - Music Monday: Hands of Time Edition

Jan. 15th, 2017

07:52 pm - Beyond the Gates (2016)

Gordon (Graham Skipper) returns to his hometown because his father has disappeared. It’s not the first time the alcoholic has gone AWOL, but this time, it seems to have stuck.

So Gordon has to reunite with his brother John (Chase Williamson), who stayed behind when Gordon left town and their father for good, to pack up their father’s house and the obsolete video store he owned. Both brothers have obviously suffered from abuse by their dear dad. As a consequence John as a young-ish man has turned into the sort of charming fuck-up who might soon replace the “charming” with criminal, dead, or drunk, and Gordon has difficulties to not turn into his father, fighting alcoholism and a tendency to violent outbursts. His girlfriend Margot (Brea Grant) is coming to help sort through dad’s baggage too – after all, that’s what she’s been doing for Gordon for some time now, it seems.

Going through their father’s old office, John and Gordon find that most 80s of things – a VCR board game. There’s something strange going on with the game, though: the somewhat sinister woman (Barbara Crampton) on the game’s video tape tells the brothers the game is the only way to save their father’s soul, and might react to what’s going on around it, which is disquieting enough, but soon, board game and reality start to mix in sometimes bloody ways, turning the lives of the brothers and Margot into a fight for their life, limb and perhaps their very souls.

Jackson Stewart’s Beyond the Door is a lovely bit of indie horror cinema, paying homage to the aesthetics of certain parts of 80s horror like a lot of films do these days, yet without falling into the trap of becoming too much of a copy of the style. Well, I’m not sure the film could actually afford to become one – this is after all a film where stepping into a different dimension happens via the movie magic of blue and purple lighting and some dry ice fog – but it is clear that Stewart knows what he’s doing in looks and tone.

I imagine some viewers will be frustrated by the film’s slow beginning and the rather budget conscious way it builds up to its climax, but I found myself charmed by the character interactions between the leads, appreciated how lacking in melodrama the treatment of the brothers’ backstories was, and generally found myself interested in these characters as people to observe for a movie’s length. Stewart is a pleasantly economic director of these character interactions, never letting things become too concise but also not falling into the trap of confusing the creation of believable people with long, rambling and pointless dialogue scenes. The film’s central metaphor on the other hand is as on the nose as they get, but that works out fine in a film taking its time for its characters as this one does.

Stewart treats the supernatural elements (Jumanji light – but with gore?) equally well, obviously putting all of his tiny budget on screen in a way that mostly works fine, demonstrates imagination and never descends into smugness. There’s fan enthusiasm even for the hokier parts of the horror genre that still doesn’t get in the way of the film’s own story, some pleasant macabre details, a smidgen of wonderfully gloopy gore, and Barbara Crampton glorying in her new role as queen of indie horror character actresses with some classy, controlled scenery chewing. Everything going on is rather small scale, of course, yet Stewart works so well with what he’s got, I enjoyed Beyond the Gates thoroughly, with a pleased grin pasted on my cynical old mug for much of its running time.

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Jan. 14th, 2017

08:12 pm - In short: Shark Lake (2015)

Clint Gray (Dolph Lundgren) is smuggling rare, dangerous and endangered animals for some gangster boss (Don Barnes). On the night when the local sheriff’s department finally catches up to him, he and his truck take a nosedive into a lake, freeing a pregnant shark. Nobody will notice that little problem until five years later, though.

Right about the time when Clint gets out of prison, a series of killings begins which most of the local police at first ascribe to bears. Most, that is, but Meredith Hernandez (Sara Malakul Lane), not only the only competent copper in town, but also the officer who arrested Clint, and the woman who took in his daughter Carly (Lily Brooks O’Briant).

She’ll soon be proven right, too, for it’s not bears, it’s (spoiler!) sharks. Because sharks alone supposedly don’t make a movie, there’s of course also a sub-plot about Meredith’s unwillingness to let Clint see his daughter again as well as another completely pointless one – taking up ninety percent of the meagre screen time Lundgren gets hired for these days even if he is supposedly a movie’s star – concerning the gangster boss pressing Clint into his service again to catch his damn shark. Also appearing are an oceanographer and would-be love interest for Meredith, a big shot BBC shark hunter (of course coming to a sticky end), and a lot of other people who couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag.

In fact, the only people on screen who have their act together as thespians are Lundgren (don’t laugh, he’s a pro at this semi-cameo business by now), the actual lead Lane (putting in a ridiculous amount of effort the script neither asks for nor deserves, winning hearts and minds – well, mine at least – in the process), and Lily Brooks O’Briant (even though we all know by now how much I dislike child acting as a whole). The rest of the cast is all sorts of embarrassing: some painfully so, some in a funny way.

Otherwise, this is the most SyFy Original movie ever made that isn’t actually a SyFy Original, though the melodramatic sub-plot is so treacly I don’t think the SyFy Channel would actually go with it for reasons of artistic standards. Lundgren is as always first listed in the credits but actually just popping in for two or three days of shooting at best, while the rest of this thing plays out nearly exactly as you’ll think it will.

Jerry Dugan’s direction for its part makes no impression whatsoever, so this one’s mainly for the Dolph completists (poor souls that we are), the habitual watcher of shark movies (again, poor souls we), and people who like to hope for better gigs for clearly overqualified lead actresses.

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Jan. 13th, 2017

06:31 pm - Past Misdeeds: Resurrecting The Street Walker (2009)

Through the transformation of the glorious WTF-Films into the even more glorious Exploder Button and the ensuing server changes, some of my old columns for the site have gone the way of all things internet. I’m going to repost them here in irregular intervals in addition to my usual ramblings.

Please keep in mind these are the old posts without any re-writes or improvements. Furthermore, many of these pieces were written years ago, so if you feel offended or need to violently disagree with me in the comments, you can be pretty sure I won’t know why I wrote what I wrote anymore anyhow.

James Parker (James Powell) is an aspiring filmmaker working as an unpaid serf aka "runner" for a shady little movie production company to get his foot in the door of professional film work by letting himself being exploited. This job and the fact that his dreams of becoming a filmmaker don't seem to lead anywhere  put quite a strain on him and the relationship with his family, who are the ones paying for his livelihood after all.

James' friend, the film student Marcus (Tom Shaw), films him in his attempts at making it, and what Marcus is shooting is the basis of the documentary Resurrecting The Street Walker purports to be. Intercut with Marcus' footage are interviews with Marcus himself and the other people in James' life hinting on something dreadful James seems to have done.

The bad times begin when James finds the reels of an unfinished black and white horror movie from the mid-80s called "The Street Walker". It's a film in the Maniac tradition, following a serial killer (Gwilym Lloyd) who pretends to be a director looking for actresses uncomfortably closely. The film stock the movie we are watching uses doesn't resemble that of a film of that decade too much, but the griminess and the vibe of seediness that is running through the material is exactly right for what Resurrecting is going for. The staging of the film inside the film - from camera placement to the disquieting feeling of authenticity that dominates horror films in the Maniac tradition - is done believably enough to make at least me squirm in my seat. The film's (actual) director Ozgur Uyanik is making good use of an experienced horror movie watcher's expectations here to build tension.

Not surprisingly given his personal obsessiveness when it comes to filmmaking, James grows even more obsessed with this particular film and tries his damndest to talk his boss at the production company into agreeing to a rather dubious plan to complete it. First it's only a question of editing, but after some time, James is convinced he needs to shoot a few scenes to give the film an actual ending.

Of course, everything (and everyone around him) seems to conspire to not let the young would-be director finish what he so desperately wants to. Of course, James slowly begins to unravel. At first, it's only minor things like a somewhat unhealthy fixation based on spurious hints on the idea that "The Street Walker" might be a snuff film, or at least that one of the victims might have accidentally died during the filming, but the more problems get into James' way, the more he begins to unravel, until he commits that final act Resurrecting The Street Walker doesn't show as gorily and directly as one would have expected.

This reserve at a point where other films would go all out on the violence points at how clever this film actually is, and how little it is satisfied with just doing the typical horror movie thing, even if the film's ending is obvious from very early on, which is of course part of its point.

Showing James' slow psychological break-down is more important to Uyanik than going the probably more marketable, yet also very boring, slasher route, and he's helped by an excellent and sympathetic performance by James Powell and a script that shows James as a likeable - if overly obsessive - guy slowly breaking through outside pressure and his own inability to admit defeat in an ambition of becoming a filmmaker that is the only thing his life has ever been about. In fact, one of the few gripes I have with the movie is that James is perhaps a bit too likeable, especially compared with the victim of his final act of violence whose only sympathetic character trait seems to be "being pregnant". Don't worry, the film does not directly argue that what James is doing is right or reasonable, or that his victim "deserved it", but I still would have wished for a victim that's as developed as the killer.

This is the sort of problem that only comes into play in a film with as high a standard as Resurrecting The Street Walker sets in the rest of the character department, so it's a sort of luxury problem caused by the film being really pretty fantastic at doing characterisation inside the fake documentary frame, a frame that all too often pushes filmmakers into not developing their characters too well, or even at all.

I especially liked how believable the "mockumentary" aspect of the film played out, deftly avoiding the "why are these people still filming?" problem that seems to annoy certain audiences (not me) about POV horror and fake documentaries so much. Resurrecting is believably structured like a real documentary, achieving a lot of its effect by building the feeling of authenticity (especially by using its directors own experiences as a runner for good effect) that this type of horror movie should live on. Although the film keeps quite a few things ambiguous, as they should be in any film that doesn't go for the gross-out, Uyanik makes great efforts to keep everything around those ambiguous elements believable and understandable, putting the lie to my beloved "naturalism is a dead end" mantra. Well, how about "naturalism is a dead end outside of fake documentary footage"?

Anyway, Resurrecting The Street Walker is another feather in the cap of (very, I suspect) low budget movies from the UK that are still interested in making horror films that go beyond fan service and succeed quite brilliantly.

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Jan. 12th, 2017

05:43 pm - Three Films Make A Post: You were right to be afraid of the dark.

Daemonium: Soldier of the Underworld (2015): This Argentinean SF/action/horror film directed by Pablo Parés and apparently written by half a dozen people consequently features a nearly unintelligible and wildly overambitious plot that includes everything you might think of - from battle androids to rebellious arch angels –, characters whose design looks cheap yet awesome in all the right ways but who mostly lack any visible reason to do the things they do, and a running time of nearly two hours where eighty minutes would have sufficed.

Yet this is also clearly a labour of love that looks and feels like the adaptation of an especially bonkers European science fiction comic. It throws visual clichés and inventiveness at its audience with great vigour and enthusiasm, features some wonderfully chosen and framed locations (Argentina apparently looks like a weird far future post-apocalyptic wasteland), and has action scenes that are bloody, clever and much better staged than you’d expect. So, despite its flaws, I find this one impossible to dislike. This was clearly made by my people.

The Frontier (2015): Oren Shai’s deeply 70s cinema and noir inspired and 70s set crime movie is a bit of a mixed bag. Jocelin Donahue’s main performance is excellent, and Kelly Lynch and Jim Beaver lend equally good support, but the rest of the acting is very hit or miss, which is no surprise seeing as the film demands from its actors to approach 70s-style naturalism with a conscious distance. This also follows from a script which at times can feel stilted and too interested in demonstrating its knowledge of gestures taken from other movies than in making its own. The result is a film that often feels artificial for no good reason beyond demonstrating the filmmakers’ ability to make it so. Which, ironically enough, is the polar opposite to the kind of 70s cinema it can’t stop telling us it is inspired by; while the noir way of stylisation (the film’s other hallmark) never was interested in stylisation as an end in itself.

Legend of the Phantom Rider (2002): In theory, Alex Erkiletian’s western/horror mix about two ancient spirits – one good, one evil, of course – doomed to be reincarnated again and again to murder one another this time around having their little spat in the Old West, sounds like a sure enough bit of entertainment. At least if you like your westerns and your horror films and like them even better when they get together (that is, if you are me).

Unfortunately, practice finds this direct-to-video film to be rather tedious, giving us scene after scene after scene supposed to prove to the audience how evil the bad guy is but which mostly demonstrate that watching a bald guy who can’t act for shit (Robert McRay) being a bit off a sadist gets boring pretty damn quick. I have no idea how his henchmen cope with the boredom.

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