Category: Retrospectives

In Defense of Alien 3: Assembly Cut

Originally published on November 6, 2014. I’ve always enjoyed the Alien films. Yes, even Alien: Resurrection which is definitely not good, but I enjoy it nonetheless. Mostly as a guilty pleasure, I watched the theatrical release of Alien3 quite often as well because of the surprisingly high kill count (I loved slashers back then. Kill count/creativity was everything to me). The main characters from the previous film were all dead, minus Ripley, and characters set up to fall into traditional Alien franchise roles are almost instantly axed. That was something the film does well in both cuts. But I’ve...

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Ten Years Ago, Hot Rod Made Me Laugh So Hard I Can’t Even Explain It

There’s a running joke amongst a few of the staff and writers here at Audiences Everywhere about how I am magnetically attracted to sad films. I write best about cinematic tragedy, anxiety, fear, and despair. If you were judging by my writing, you would get a pretty clear impression that I’m a straight up humorless guy. And while a quick search through my last year’s history of posts would confirm that conclusion as the only logical conclusion to draw based on the evidence, I’d like to think the same perpetrators of that joke would agree that the evidence is...

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Still Believing with The Lost Boys 30 Years Later

It’s classic vampire storytelling for vampires to seduce their victims. Innocents are entranced by an inescapable aura, swept up in the vampire’s desire. There’s a formalist sense to vampire horror, that they’ll take the time to handle murders with class so as not to ruin their favorite suits. With Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys,  that formalist horror unfolds in an unbridled 1980s. Gritty punk aesthetics, rebellious teens and an inescapable sense of constant entertainment. Even during the day, there’s a feeling that the nightlife never truly stops in Santa Clara. Not while the underbelly of the beach-side town is...

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Death Becomes Her 25 Years Later

There was a time, if you came over to my house, when I forced you to watch Death Becomes Her. I taped it off television on an old VHS with a ripped label, my childhood print scrawling the title across. I took great pride in my perfect timing, nearly eliminating all traces of commercial breaks. The tape was almost ruined with my watches and re-watches and rewinding re-watches; it was my favourite movie, and I wanted everyone I knew to see it. My twelve-year-old brain posited that if they didn’t love it, they probably couldn’t love me. After all,...

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Air Force One Still Flies High 20 Years Later

Air Force One was released twenty years ago. It is a movie that I return to every few years to see if it still holds up and each time the answer is a resounding yes. The premise is one that I’m surprised no one tried before 1997: terrorists hijack Air Force One and the only person who can stop them and take back the plane is the President of the United States. It’s such a fun premise that could have been very easily mishandled but instead produced one of the best action movies of the ‘90s and, for me,...

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Apes Together Strong: Revisiting the Original Planet of the Apes Franchise

A man and woman, clad in the clothing of primitive humans, make their way across a beach on horseback. He smiles at her and she smiles back. They ride on. Eventually they come to stop and the man, Taylor, gets off the horse and stares agape at something we cannot yet see. The camera pulls back and we see the half-buried ruins of the Statue of Liberty. The man sinks to his knees. “Oh my God. I’m back. I’m home. All the time, it was…We finally really did it. You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God...

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The Secret of NIMH: Still The Dark Antidote In Children’s Films

The Secret of NIMH really is something completely different. This was true even more so when it was released 35 years ago. Its creator, Don Bluth, got his start working for Disney, the only game in town when it came to large-scale animation projects. After working on numerous features, including Robin Hood, The Rescuers, and supervising animation on Pete’s Dragon, Bluth struggled in the oppressive big studio environment. After mounting frustration due to Disney moving away from classic style animation, he left with a small number of other animators to create his own animation studio, Don Bluth Productions. The...

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A Look Back at Don Siegel’s The Beguiled

Overview: After a girls’ seminary school in rural Mississippi, allegiances are tested and a seemingly idyllic community devolves into jealousy and violence. Universal Pictures; 1971; 105 minutes. Take a lesson by me: Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies exists as a microcosm of the rural Mississippi society in which they live with one major difference: there are no men. The eponymous Martha Farnsworth (Geraldine Page) is strict and harsh with the children, patronizing with the teacher Edwina (Elizabeth Hartman), and Hallie (Mae Mercer) their slave, lives as a second-class citizen on the grounds. Despite some petty arguments, those at...

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Minority Report 15 Years Later

Dystopian. Orwellian. After 15 years, Minority Report is still a both beautiful and gritty depiction of our future. Alternating between technological eye candy and the crumbling realism of urbanization, the film has a remarkable authenticity—a kind of futuristic setting that is still just familiar enough to remain plausible. Director Steven Spielberg’s vision of 2054 was surprisingly optimistic, given the warning at the heart of the story. Like many dystopias, the film weighs the costs of a safe, orderly society against the price of the freedoms it inhibits. At its center remains the complex, theoretical question of whether we are...

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A Look Back at Funeral Parade of Roses

Toshio Matsumoto’s Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) is one of those rare Japanese films which, while heavily borrowing from the aesthetics and genre iconography of other countries and cultures, is distinctly, unmistakably singular in vision, execution, and impact. Trying to winnow it down into any kind of movement isn’t just inappropriate, it’s outright reductive. Yes, the film feels heavily inspired by the American queer and underground cinema scenes à la Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger, and Jonas Mekas, the latter of which is directly quoted by one of its characters. Many of its formal techniques seem pilfered from the creative...

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Predator – Vietnam in a Haunted House

Predator was the first horror movie I ever watched. At the time, I was eight or nine, I didn’t know it was a horror movie and I don’t think my parents knew either. As far as we were concerned, if Arnie made it, then it was an action movie. It was only when I re-watched Predator recently that I saw that even though the movie is billed as a sci-fi/action movie, it’s actually a slasher flick. The greatest sci-fi horror movies are the first two Alien movies. Alien is the quintessential haunted house movie while Aliens used the xenomorphs...

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Figuring Out What to Do With Women 30 Years After The Witches of Eastwick

“Do you think God knew what He was doing when He created woman?….Or do you think it was just another one of His minor mistakes like tidal waves, earthquakes, floods! You think women are like that?” Thus roars Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson) in the center of a scandalized church audience, in his wind blown pink overcoat, covered in dirt and feathers, vomiting cherry stones between punctuated lines of a raging monologue, begging us to consider: just what are we to do about women? Witches of Eastwick (1987) remains (maybe disconcertingly) relevant after 30 years, unapologetic for its own...

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The Mummy (1932) Still Looms Over the Landscape of Monster Movies

The Mummy has always been there. Like the best monsters, this creature is omnipresent and unsettling. This is how I felt when finally sitting down to watch the original 1932 version of this Universal creature. The Mummy, along with other seminal creatures, like Dracula and Frankenstein, is something you know even before you have seen it. Whether it was from Saturday Morning Cartoons like Scooby-Doo or dime store Halloween costumes, the Mummy is an absolute fixture. My own personal introduction, strangely, was in a comedy I watched with my father, Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy. Of course, there...

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20 Years Ago, Con Air Showed Us God Does Exist (And He Might Be Nic Cage)

Have you ever been looking out of the window in the backseat of a parked car, or maybe from the center or rear of a passenger bus, and, upon noticing an adjacent vehicle shifting from your view, felt a panicked certainty that it was your vehicle that was drifting into motion? It’s more than just an optical illusion. It’s a kind of chronostasis, in which your mind’s perception of events stumbles over the actuality of the events. In truth, in this situation, it is more likely that a vehicle next to you was moving. Or perhaps two or more...

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“They gotta tell you somethin’: Patty Jenkins and the Politics of Monster

It’s a typical modest Hollywood success story. A young, female writer/director gets her first crack at a feature—a character-driven true story about an ill-fated love affair between two women, undone by one’s inability to heal the septic damage of her past and the destructive lengths she goes to incise it from her body and spirit. The film does well. Really well. For whatever reason, maybe this director sticks to TV for a few years (slumming I’d argue, she’s got chops destined for greatness, if chops were a quantifiable thing). Fourteen years pass before she lands her next feature—one of the...

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