Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Big Meat Eater (1982)
Silly, low-budget farce
Aliens locate a rare radioactive element under the butcher shop in a quirky Canadian town being stalked by a mysterious, fez-wearing, singing, murderous meat-cutter of unusual size. The film is a Canadian entry into 'internationally bad' genre: camp films angling for cult status that were usually marked by poor special effects, amateur acting, excessiveness, and meta-humour - all deliberate. Since the intention is to subvert most of the criteria by which films are judged, all that remains is whether the move is a witty/clever satire ('Big Meat Eater' is not) and/or whether it's entertaining/enjoyable (personal taste). 'Big Meat Eater' has a couple of interesting song and dance numbers, and blues-musician Clarence 'Big' Miller is amusing in the title role; otherwise, it's a silly time-waster that will only appeal to fans of the genre (of which I am not).
American Made (2017)
Fitfully-amusing but overly-long, star-driven docu-dramedy
In this largely imaginary semicomedy-biopic, Tom Cruise plays drug trafficker/gunrunner/DEA informant Barry Seal. Cruise plays his usual lovable-rogue shtick (although without the over-the-top stunts and fights) and the rest of the cast, most of whom are playing 2D fictional or composite characters, are OK (although as Barry's wife Lucy, Sarah Wright looks like she parachuted in from the 2000s). The story is pretty farfetched and the movie is somewhat repetitious and too long for the material on-hand. Director Doug Liman summed up the historical accuracy of the film by describing it as "a fun lie based on a true story", so anyone expecting anything other than a light-weight Tom Cruise comedy-adventure-fantasy, caveat emptor.
The Irishman (2019)
Lengthy but well-made mob-biopic
Epic wiseguy drama from director Martin Scorsese follows Irish teamster and hitman Frank Sheeran (Robert DeNiro) from his introduction to mob boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci,) to his waning days in a nursing home, including the years he worked with legendary Teamster Union boss Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). The film is layed out in a multi-layered flashback format, with the story being told by an elderly, wheel-chair bound Sheeran reminiscing in a nursing home in the early 2000s, and 'flash-backed' by a middle-aged Sheenan on the road to a meeting in Detroit with Bufalino and their wives in 1975. The 'reverse aging' is pretty good although De Nero looks more than 30 years old when he first hooks up with the mob in 1950. Peschi is unusually understated and quite good as Bufalino, and DeNiro is fine playing his standard mobbed-up tough guy role, but Pacino is a bit over-the-top as a gripey Hoffa and seems to deliver most of his lines at least twice (perhaps the intent was to make Hoffa an irritating guy). Scorsese perennial Harvey Keitel shows up as ill-fated Philly boss Angelo Bruno and the rest of the cast, especially those playing Sheeran's family, are quite good. The story is interesting and the script, while typical of the genre (lots of swearing and tough-guy posturing), is fine. The film does a nice job evoking the decades over which it takes place, both in visual cues and by Scorsese's trademark pop-music soundtrack, and overall, makes for a entertaining mob-based history lesson. The 209 minute run-time seems a bit long for the story and there are a number of scenes that could have been shortened or deleted (IMO, but I may have missed their significance). One contrast to most of Scorsese's films (and the genre in general): the story of 'The Irishman' plays through to the very end, with top mob-bosses finally side-lined, and ultimately 'whacked', by infirmity and old age. There's a great scene towards the end of the film in which an exasperated FBI agent tries to convince the elderly Sheeran 'to talk' by pointing out that there is no one left to protect.
Logan Lucky (2017)
OK tongue-in-cheek caper comedy
A couple of brothers, one of whom thinks the family's hexed, set up an elaborate heist at the local speedway. The film follows the standard 'heist trajectory': identify the target, assemble the team, make the plan, do the job, deal with unexpected events, reveal the 'twist' ending. The entire premise is pretty far-fetched and there are more coincidences than a tightly written caper story would need but the story is entertaining, the cast great and the script and characters amusing. Best enjoyed without taking your brain out of park.
Paris, Texas (1984)
Languorous but interesting drama
A seemingly mute drifter who wanders out of the south Texas desert is reunited with his family and takes his young son on a search for his estranged wife. Directed by German auteur Wim Wenders (who also helmed the excellent 'Wings of Desire' (1987)), the slow-moving film is mesmerizing at times, especially the scenes in the starkly beautiful Mojave Desert. The cast is off-beat but excellent, with Harry Dean Stanton (one of the all-time great understated character actors) as Travis the laconic drifter, former child star Dean Stockwell and gorgeous French actress Aurore Clément as his concerned brother and sister in law, Nastassja Kinski as Travis' wife Jane and Hunter Carson, who is outstanding as Travis eight-year old son. The film is much about identity, misperception and dichotomy (the title comes from people confusing Paris, France with Paris, Texas, which is only seen as a photo of a small parcel of desert wasteland and seems to be Travis' 'alpha and omega'). The final scene, in which Travis tells his story in the third-person to Jane in a uniquely intimate yet remote way, is a bit long, but ultimately satisfying. Like 'Wings of Desire', I found the film sad, pensive, and memorable.
An entertaining, albeit dated, off-beat romantic comedy from the early 1970s
Following the sudden death of her quick-tempered husband ex-signer Alice Hyatt packs up her son and leaves New Mexico with the goal of starting a new life in Monetary, but fate and love intervene before she can get out of the south-west. Director Martin Scorsese gets excellent performances out of Ellen Burstyn as Alice and Diane Ladd as her 'gruff but lovable' waitress colleague Flo. Alfred Lutter is also good as her mouthy son Tommy (good enough to make the preteen boy quite unlikable at times), as is Scorsese perennial Harvey Keitel as a despicable low-life Alice briefly hooks up with, but Kris Kristofferson makes for a bland love interest. Much of the film rests on Burstyn's character, so if you don't really like Alice's parenting style and personality, you likely won't last out the story. The film begat a moderately successful sitcom ('Alice') in 1976 staring Linda Lavin with only diner-owner/cook Mel (Vic Tayback) carrying over from the original cast. A good film at the time and fine nostalgic entertainment today. Modern 'progressive' disciplinarians be warned: the film presents someone who'd spank an ill-behaved youth as still being a worthwhile person.
First Man (2018)
Good, reasonably accurate historical biopic
NASA plans to put a man on the moon by 1970 and Neil Armstrong ends up being mission commander and first man to stand on another celestial body. Well written and directed, the film manages to maintain a degree of tension despite the fact that there would be few people in the world who don't know how the story ends. Ryan Gosling is good as a steady, no-nonsense Armstrong and the fly-boy theatrics are kept at a minimum (in contrast to "The Right Stuff' (1983) for example). The special effects are outstanding and the film avoids Hollywood's usual distain for the facts when fiction would be more entertaining. I was surprised at how much I had forgotten about the 'space race' that I grew up during, so despite knowing the final outcome, I found the film educational (in a good way) as well as entertaining and nostalgic.
Batman Begins (2005)
Fun (albeit far-fetched) and visually striking bat-fantasy
Young Bruce Wayne, scarred by his parent's death, searches for meaning and redemption amongst the world's criminals and becomes a growling cowled vigilante, adopting mise en scène from his childhood chiroptophobia. The first of Christopher Nolan's popular bat-trilogy finding the caped-crusader (Christian Bale) battling his old teacher Ra's al Ghul for the fate of Gotham City. The film introduces the classic bat-characters, conflicted Commissioner (to be) Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Alfred the Butler (the always great Michael Caine) as well as Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) a love interest for Dark Knight's millionaire playboy alter-ego, and Lucius Fox, purveyor of cool, black bat-gadgets. There is lots of gritty, gravelly tough-guy talk punctuated by fights, high-speed chases, and acrobatics (all of which are physics-denying in the extreme). The story, while implausible, is entertaining enough and the script good (although some of the humour falls a bit flat). The only thing I really didn't like was the hero's ability to glide great distances using his temporarily rigid cape as wings - it made for a cool image the first time, but got silly-looking fast. The film closes with a set-up for the second, and best, entry in the trilogy, 2009's outstanding "The Dark Knight".
Nippon tanjô (1959)
Epic depiction of the mythical birth of Japan
I was unfamiliar with the story behind The Three Treasures and the legendary founding of Japan and Shintoism, and I found the film hard to follow, overly long, and ultimately a bit boring (even the fight between Susanoo (the great Toshiro Mifune) and the eight-headed dragon). Some of the imagery and special effects (from Toho Studios master Eiji Tsuburaya) were very good and the acting fine (for an action-fantasy film). Mifune is fine in the dual role of Prince Yamato Takeru and Susanoo, although I found the Prince's constant credulousness tiring (he is repeatedly lied to yet seems to believe everything he's told). I think I'd need more background in Japanese history and culture to really appreciate this film (fortunately not required to enjoy Toho's rollicking kaiju epics).
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
More visually interesting then engaging
Hercule Poirot solves the titular crime in this lovely but somewhat bland version of Agatha Christie's famous story. The cast of A-listers are sumptuously dressed and bejewelled, and the luxurious train interiors nicely recreated, but the characters always seemed more like characters than like people, giving the film an artificial, stagy feeling. Having not read the Poirot books, I'm not familiar with the character, but Kenneth Branagh seemed OK as the somewhat obsessive-compulsive Belgian sleuth. Judy Dench, Derek Jacobi and Johnny Depp were as good as always, but I found Michelle Pfeiffer's portrayal of Caroline Hubbard unconvincing. The plot is interesting, if implausible, and the look of the film is fine, although the CGI images of the train moving through the Carpathian(?) Mountains were substandard (at least when viewed on my TV). OK, not great, and a reason for me to hunt down the 'star-studded' 1974 version for comparison.
Green Book (2018)
Engaging story about a growing friendship between a couple of disparate hyphenated-Americans
A tough Italian-American from the streets of the Bronx takes on the job of chauffeuring a talented African-American pianist from the lofts of Carnegie Hall through the Deep South in the early 1960s. While pat and predictable at times, the film tells an engaging story about the growing friendship between the disparate leads. Viggo Mortenson is excellent as 'Frank "Tony Lip" Vallelonga' (a real-life character straight out of a Scorsese screenplay) although at first the character comes off as a bit stereotypical, but I found Mahershala Ali's 'anti-stereotypical' urbane, polyglot classical pianist Don Shirley somewhat of a caricature at times. I liked the film more than I expected to and while I understand why there was some controversy about its somewhat fairy-tale depiction of understanding and reconciliation, the excellent acting and core story of a growing bond between two men make the film well worth watching.
Entertaining and visually arresting (eps. 1-5)
An Ally-oop-ish 'cave man' (Spear) and his tyrannosauroid companion (Fang) struggle to feed and to survive in an imaginary primal world of monsters and (now) extinct species. The show definitely views nature as 'red in tooth' as various creatures, including the heroes' off-spring, get decapitated, bit in two, or messily devoured by a variety of prehistoric carnivores. There is no script beyond grunting, roaring, or screaming but series creator Genndy Tartakovsky manages to bring a lot of personality to his voiceless yet engaging characters (both man and beast). The physics are as unrealistic as the paleo-biology, but viewers willing to suspend their disbelief will be rewarded with entertaining stories and a rich, somewhat surreal, depiction of an alternative primeval Earth.
Woman in Gold (2015)
Slow-moving but thought-provoking drama
An Austrian refugee (Maria Altmann, played by Helen Mirren) engages a lawyer to help her recover artwork (including Gustav Klimt's iconic "Woman in Gold" (Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I), allegedly stolen (directly) from her family by the Nazis, and later stolen (indirectly) by the famous Belvedere Museum in Vienna, The story is fascinating and, other than some gimmicky 'doorway into the past' scenes, the film is very well done. Mirren was quite good as the techy, elderly women who discovers that she might have a chance to undo an historic wrong. I was less impressed at Ryan Reynold's underdogish E. Randol Schoenberg. I don't recall any scene in the film in which the heroic lawyer's potential fee is discussed (but at 40% contingency, he made over $120 million dollars) and I'm not sure what would have happened if Altmann had decided not to sell the paintings. While, at least as I know the story, law and justice were on Altmann's side, I was still somewhat put off by the one-sidedness of the story: anyone who disagreed with Altmann or Schoenberg is presented as either a smarmy museum suit, a supercilious bureaucrat, or an anti-Semite. Over-all, a slow-moving but thought-provoking film about complicated legal and moral issues.
One of the all-time great creature features
Atomic testing in the arctic revives a frozen dinosaur (a fictitious 'Rhedosaurus'), which slowly makes it way to its ancient territory, now the site of New York City. The film features great stop-motion effects courtesy of Ray Harryhausen, an intelligent script and story (for a 'dinosaur on the loose' film), good if generic acting, and a number of memorable scenes (notably the poor NYPD officer who gets picked up by the head and swallowed like a sardine). The title came from a Ray Bradbury short story to which the filmmakers bought the rights (allegedly to cash in on Bradbury's name), prompting the author to change the name of the story to "The Fog Horn" in all subsequent publications. Other than an excellent scene in which the rogue reptile destroys a lighthouse, the film and the story have little in common (other than a nonsensical name - the deepest point in the ocean is less than 7000 fathoms). The film was a critical and commercial success and is highly influential in the genre, both establishing Harryhausan's reputation as a master at stop-motion special effects and inspiring Toho studios to make 'Gojira' in 1953. All in all, a well-made, entertaining, and memorable classic.
Oozy, far-fetched fun
An anachronistically diverse squad of US paratroopers jump into France just before D-Day to destroy a German radio station, only to find that the übermensch are making über-übermensch in a secret lab beneath a desecrated church. The film has a nice creepy (if somewhat videogamey) look, the cast and script are fine for a genre picture, and the special effects are effective enough in a gruesome, over-the-top way. Fans of drippy, R-rated undead films won't find much novel or unexpected in this predictable entry into the canon but probably will find "Overlord" an entertaining enough time-waster. Non-fans will likely find it gruesome, off-putting and kind off pointless.
Amusing and visually interesting spaghetti space-opera
Antonio Margheriti second space opera, Battle of the Worlds finds earth threatened by fleets of flying saucers coming from a rogue planet (the "Outsider") that has wandered into our solar system. Veteran A-list actor Claude Rains plays Prof. Benson, a cantankerous and supercilious scientist who figures out was is going on (it's odd to see former A-lister Claude Rains starring in a spaghetti-space opera a year before working with David Lean on Lawrence of Arabia). I watched an adequately dubbed version so I can't comment on the acting (except for a hammy, English speaking Rains), or script but the story, if implausible, is entertaining and the special effects have that gaudy but imaginative look that characterises Italian space operas of the era. The idea that the rogue planet is actually some kind of 'space ark' sent out by a dying species (as deduced by Benson based on very little data) is clever and poetic but the scenes in which the refugees are found dead at the controls are unfortunately almost indecipherable (this could be due to the quality of the version I was watching on-line). The film is similar to Margheriti's first space opera, 1960's 'Space Men' and both films, while having weaknesses, are better than most of their American contemporises, which were too focussed on big bugs and the teenage drive-in market to offer up much in the way of ideas.
Invaders from Mars (1953)
Martians and cold-war paranoia in a classic '50s sci-fi fable
Directed by William Cameron Menzies, 'Invaders from Mars' is one of the best science fiction films to come out of the 1950s. Tapping in on fears of infiltration and mind control, the first third of the film has a creepy vibe as young David MacLean (well-played by Jimmy Hunt) realises that more and more of the adults around him are under the control of some malevolent power. The film moves along at a brisk pace (except for the planetarium scene) and not a lot of time is wasted before 'non-controlled' adults (lead by Dr. Pat Blake (Helena Carter)) realise that something is wrong and the battle against the invaders heats up. The middle of the film is bogged down a bit by too much stock military footage, but the pace picks again up for the excellent climatic battle against the tunnelling Martian giants and their leader, a disembodied head. A product of its times, the film is one of a number that featured some kind of mind-control aimed at destroying the nascent American space program, reflecting fears of both foreign agents (of more mundane origins than Mars) and of losing the race to militarise space (David's father works on a top-secret atomic powered rocket intended to transport nuclear warheads into orbit). The film has an odd and unnecessary 'was it all a dream?' epilogue (deleted in some exported versions), but otherwise is a classic from the 1950s (a prolific 'best of times, worst of times' period for science fiction films).
Not of This Earth (1957)
Low-rent but fun and imaginative space-vampire film
An alien civilisation dying of a radiation-induced, blood-destroying disease sends a vampiric agent with lethal, glowing eyes to Earth to determine if our blood could be harvested as a fixative. The film is one of Roger Corman's better sci-fi cheapies, with a creepy vibe, reasonable script, imaginative (if bargain-basement) special effects, and pretty good acting from the director's regulars (including Paul Birch, Beverly Garland, Jonathan Haze, Dick Miller). The story really doesn't make much sense and there is little explanation of the alien blood-sucker's ability to burn out victim's brains at a glance, communicate telepathically, or hypnotise people into doing his will (nor is it explained why he doesn't do the latter more often). There is also an unexpected bonus monster (courtesy of Paul Blaisdell), when Johnson (Birch) unfurls some kind of flying, killer, umbrella-creature that bloodily extirpates an interfering doctor. Birch does a good job playing the stiff and stilted alien and there is an amusing sequence in which a smarmy vacuum cleaner salesman (Miller) encounters a sucker of another sort. All in all, a fun film from the master of frugal shocks with an unusually subtle title, considering it's a 'vampires-from-outer-space' movie.
Outstanding black comedy
Desperate nebbish Jerry Lundegaard (an excellent William H. Macy) hires an erratic pair of criminals (played by Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife...and things go wrong, very wrong. 'Fargo' is one in a long list of superlative films produced and directed by the Coen brothers'. The film is a dark, almost farcical, comedy with offbeat characters, an excellent sense of place (flat, wide, cold, and bleak), and the famous over-the-top Minnesota accents, especially from Academy Award winner Frances McDormand ("You betcha!"). The clever plot is a cautionary tale about just how hard pulling of a complex crime would be (unlike most 'caper' films, few people in 'Fargo' respond as they were expected to) and the psychological strangulation as the noose tightens around Jerry is palpable. McDormand's 'Marge Gunderson', a heavily pregnant, always hungry, Minnesota cop investigating the increasingly bloody kidnapping is outstanding: perfectly blending the character's disarming "Minnesota-nice' personality with her competence as an investigator. An entertaining and memorable film.
Terror from the Year 5000 (1958)
Amateurish and boring
Experiments in time travel bring a predatory female mutant from a distant, post-apocalyptic future to an isolated island. Sadly, the film is nothing like its excellent poster: the 'terror' is a women in crude 'mutant' makeup wearing a sparkly suit that emerges from a bargain-basement 'time machine' that looks more like a converted boiler than the 'window into the future' depicted in the poster. The acting ranges from adequate to amateur, with cardboard characters delivering an insipid and derivative script. The only highlights are the terror's face stealing machine and the briefly glimpsed four-eyed (dead) cat from the future. The story doesn't make much sense, even from a time-travel perspective, and is yet another example of the 'our dying civilisation needs your men/women to survive' shtick (a storyline flogged-to-death by 1958). For extreme fans and life-listers only. The film was edited by Dede Allen - another example of a future A-lister getting started in the business (her next editing job was Robert Wise's 'Odds Against Tomorrow', 1959).
The Invisible Boy (1957)
Dated but entertaining and well-made kid's sci-fi adventure
A young boy (Richard Eyer) befriends a robot (Robbie from "Forbidden Planet', 1956; again voiced by Martin Miller) not knowing that a malevolent super-computer has taken control of his metal friend as part of its plan to conquer Earth. The film was primarily an excuse for MGM to get more use out of the expensive (and popular) "Robbie the Robot" costume but, other than a cursory mention of a 'time machine' bringing the robot back from the future, no attempt is made no connect the two stories. The film effectively takes a child's perspective of events, especially the apparently irrational behaviour of adults. There is one scene when Timmy walks into a room full of 'busy' scientists who essentially ignore him, despite the fact that the boy has successfully resurrected a huge robot from the future. The boy also compares Robbie's 'basic directive' against allowing a human to come to harm (essentially Asimov's 1st law) to his mother's fun-killing concerns for his safety. Most of the film is light-hearted, with Timmy bonding with the dead-pan robot or, when rendered invisible, pranking people, but there are some odd adult moments, especially when the megalomaniac supercomputer (who has disabled Robbie's 'basic directive') describes how Robbie could slowly and painfully kill the boy (now a hostage) and later forces the parents to watch after telling Robbie to 'start with the eyes' (needless-to-say, there is no torture (on- or off-screen)). The film's background geopolitics is typical of the decade: the American goal to surreptitiously launch the first orbiting space-station (apparently armed with strontium warheads). When asked what their "friends across the pole" would do if they learned of the project, the super-computer predicts a 91.6% chance of attack if learnt before the launch compared to an 87.3% chance of peaceful negotiations if learnt after. The 'peace through (our) strength' message was typical of the era - as the general states: the world will be able to "rest easy" after the launch. The story (based on the eponymous short story (sans robot) by Edmund Cooper) is entertaining and Eyer is quite good as the young boy, more or less a 'normal kid' until he's hypnotised by the malignant A.I. and given an enhanced I.Q. Philip Abbott and Diane Brewster are also fine as (from Timmy's perspective) his workaholic boffin of a father and fretful, overly-protective mother. As a kid's film, 'The Invisible Boy' likely has more appeal to a 'kids then' audience than to a 'kids now' audience, but is certainly worth watching by fans of the genre of any age.
The Brain Eaters (1958)
Low-budget nonsense best known for alleged plagiarism
Furry subterranean creatures that latch onto people's necks and take over their brains invade a small town. Probably best known its notable (and supposedly coincidental) similarities to Robert Heinlein's 1951 novel 'The Puppet Masters' and the famous author's resulting lawsuit, "The Brain Eaters' is a ultra-low-budget shocker with little to offer other than an interesting premise (courtesy of Heinlein's imagination?) that unfortunately devolves into a ridiculous story about an invasion by a tiny, fuzzy hypogean megalomaniacs. The acting (including a bearded Leonard "Nemoy"), script and special effects are pretty bad. On the plus side, the downbeat ending is unusual for the genre, some attempts were made to include interesting images (POV, shadows, Dutch angles etc), and the score (courtesy of uncredited Russian masters Shostakovich and Prokofiev) is quite good. Of historical interest only (and even then the film is barely worth watching).
Ignore the tabloid title and enjoy a well-made, albeit budget-conscious, sfi-fi shocker
A young wife (Gloria Talbot) discovers an alien has taken over the body of her husband (Tom Tryon) and soon realises that he may not be the only possessed man in the town. Perhaps best known for being better than its tabloid title, 'IMAMFOS' is a pretty good sci-fi shocker. One of a number of 'aliens need men/women to repopulate their dying world' films, 'IMAMFOS', while a budget concoction, is nicely filmed with good acting (especially Gloria Talbot), limited, but effective special effects, and an excellent, oozy finale. Like most 'take over the body' movies, the physics/biology of the process is never explained but the black cloud absorbing the to-be-copied victim adds a nice visual touch. Despite a number of plot holes and inexplicable events (primarily with respect to the copying), the film is a well-made, clever, and entertaining example of the 'paranoid 50's' canon of 'fifth-column' thrillers.
Target Earth (1954)
Plodding and anticlimactic alien invasion story
Nora King (Kathleen Crowley) awakens to a deserted city, only to find herself and a few other survivors stuck in the middle of a robotic Armageddon. The film starts well, with effective scenes of Nora running through the empty streets but slows to a crawl when she and three others take cover from an invading army of robots (of which only one is ever seen). In the meantime, army boffins (lead by Whit Bissell) find a downed invader and try to figure what felled it before the military resort to destroying the city to get at the aliens. After lots of discussion about 'radar principles' and 'cathode ray tubes', they find a potential weapon in sound waves. Little is seen of the battle with the invading robots and the film ends abruptly and somewhat laughably, when a jeep with a whining loud speaker rounds a corner and the threatening metal monster topples over moments before it could turn its death-ray on the remaining survivors. The four main characters (played by Crowley, Richard Denning, Virginia Grey, and Richard Reeves) are pretty good but the various army types are nondescript and nutcase Davis, who shows up and melodramatically threatens the group with a gun is pretty hackneyed. The robot, which resembles 'Maximillian' from 'The Black Hole" (1978) and has a ray emitter in its 'eyes' (likely inspired by Gort in "The Day the Earth Stood Still' (1951)) is somewhat interesting but it's a bit of a letdown that, of the mechanical army infiltrating the city, only one robot is ever seen. For yet another film about slow-moving yet existential threats, "Target Earth" is watchable but it's neither exiting enough nor silly enough to be very memorable.
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Grisly, goofy fun
The Geckos, couple of desperado brothers (Clooney and Tarantino) and the family that thay have taken hostage end up in an ultra-sleezy Mexican stripper-bar that is also a den of the undead, so blood (red and green) is spilled by the bucket as the desperate group tries to live out the titular period. The violence is so over-the-top that it floats above the offensively objectionable and lodges firmly into the ludicrously entertaining. The film starts slowly: it takes the Geckos 45 minutes shoot up a liquor store, grab their hostages, and cross the border, but once they are unsafely ensconced in the "Titty Twister", the action sequences (preposterous even by fantasy-bloodbath standards) are nonstop and sanguinely amusing. The cast, which includes Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Cheech Marin (in multiple roles), and Danny Trejo is great, as is Robert Rodriguez's direction, and the script (by Tarantino) is profane and comical. The plot's a sieve and there are endless inconsistencies in the vampire life (death?) cycle, but this is not a story-driven film by any stretch of the imagination, so who cares. The closing shot is priceless. Definitely not for the squeamish, the fragile, or the easily offended.