Monday, May 14, 2012


If you like to read, especially modern mystery novels, then you've heard the name Janet Evanovich. Evanovich has made tons of money by writing the best selling series of novels based on her character Stephanie Plum, a young New Jersey girl (completely unlike those seen on JERSEY SHORE) who seeking employment becomes a bounty hunter. Now Plum has made her way to the big screen (and small screens with DVD) and done so in style.

Katherine Heigl stars as Stephanie, the hard working New Jersey girl down on her luck with bills to pay and rent owed, looking to find any job available. Visiting her parents and grandmother (one of those kooky type families we all know and love), her mother suggests she talk to her cousin, a bail bondsman. She goes to her cousin to apply for a filing job only to find it's over with but while there is told about collecting bounties on customers that have failed to show. Given a few easy jobs, she thinks she can handle it.

One big job Stephanie thinks she can handle is Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara), an old flame of sorts from high school and now policeman on the run for murder. Most think he's innocent but the law is the law and he's on the run. With the keen insight of knowing his old hangouts and how he acts, Stephanie goes after Morelli...only to find him and then have him toss her keys into a dumpster. This job isn't as easy as she thought.

Help arrives with some training. This comes in the form of Ranger (Daniel Sunjata), a professional who knows all the ropes and friend of her cousin's who is willing to spend a little time training Stephanie. The training isn't in depth enough for her to take down public enemy number one, but it does get her enough that she can make her first collar and pick up some cash, learning as she goes.

As Stephanie pursues Morelli she discovers more about why he was arrested and what's actually going on. Morelli shot and killed a possible low life but claimed he was armed and that he was knocked unconscious afterward. Rather than wait in a cell for the outcome of his arrest, Morelli skipped bail and is trying to find the real murderer. Morelli's and Stephanie's paths continue to cross and she eventually helps him on the condition that he surrenders once they find the killer so she can collect the paycheck.

Along the way Stephanie meets a variety of characters. Lula (Sheri Shepherd) is a street walking prostitute who takes a liking to Stephanie and gives her information when she can. John Leguizamo is Jimmy Alpha, a MMA promoter with a top contender. That contender, Benito Ramirez (Gavin-Keith Umeh) is a vicious fighter with sociopath tendencies that have led him to hurt far too many on the street. Each of these characters and more continue to provide the fledgling bounty hunter with clues as to Morelli's innocence or guilt as well as the identity of the killer. Okay face it, his innocence because the chemistry between the two characters is one of the main points of the film as well as the series of books. For the series to continue he has to be innocent.

The fish out of water that learns how to swim concept is worked well with this film and Heigl does a great job. Her combination of real person attractiveness (as opposed to the Hollywood make over style) and portrayal of a person who finds their calling in a round about way makes for a character viewers will not only root for but want to see again. O'Mara has the swagger and sex appeal to make women swoon and want to see more of him as well. And Shepherd turns in a performance that will make you forget all about her time on THE VIEW.

The movie isn't one that will make most rush to the store to seek it out. I know I'll hold on to it to watch again, but can't be sure that most people will feel the same. Fans of the books will keep it around. And while the movie did decent box office when it was released, it didn't quite do enough that you'll be seeing a rush to bring the next book in the series to the screen which is unfortunate. With all the drek that is getting made, this could turn out to be a series worth keeping an eye on. Until the suits in Hollywood decide to make it happen, you'll have to be content with this offering.

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I was watching a documentary on horror films in the U.S. the other day and while I watched I realized something. There were actually few if any true horror films are being made these days. Granted there are films made that qualify for the genre, but most are more obsessed these days with how far they can push the envelope, how much gore they can include and how disgusting they can make the world seem. Far too many have chosen to go the Rob Zombie route of showing us homes in decay where dirt is far more common than cleanliness. I for one would find it more terrifying to see a serial killer in a well kept home than the unwashed, unbathed louts living in trailer parks more frequently seen today. Then I watched THE INNKEEPERS.

The Yankee Pedlar Inn was founded in 1891 and has seen better days. The last weekend the hotel is to be open two clerks are working taking care of just three customers. Claire (Sara Paxton) is an early twenty something working at the inn with no outlook on her future. Luke (Pat Healy) is a laid back older guy who lives at home with his mother and has no future prospects as well. The pair has formed a friendship while working at the Inn and share an interest in the history of the locale as well. Said to be haunted, Luke has set up a web site based in incidents that he has recorded while working there.

On this, the last weekend, the pair hopes to finally catch something worthwhile to include on the site, a real paranormal happening that can be verified with two people on hand. Checking into the hotel we find a young mother and her son, staying to avoid her possibly soon to be ex-husband. Later we have a movie star who's seen better days, Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis), here to speak at a convention nearby. Lastly we have an elderly man (George Riddle) checking in to recall the good old days when he came here on his wedding night. But the guests are secondary for the most part though they play important roles as the film winds down. It is the spirits and the search for them that make up the scares here.

Claire and Luke take turns watching the desk and taking care of the needs of their customers. When not working, they sleep or attempt to record EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), recordings of spiritual voices in the room unable to be heard by the human ear. During the times when Claire searches for signs of the afterlife more happens than with Luke. It seems as if the spirits are trying to reach Claire for some reason.

Star struck by Leanne, Claire displays the usual fan klutz attitude. But later the two have the opportunity to talk. It turns out Leanne isn't in town to speak at an acting class or fan fair but to speak about her newest calling, healing via crystals and the like. Assuming the role of medium, she tries to help Claire with the search for the main spirit in the hotel, one Madeline O'Malley. Murdered and her body hidden in the cellar for 3 days by the owners of the hotel at that time to avoid bad publicity, it is said that Madeline continues to walk the halls of the hotel. In attempting to contact her, Leanne offers sound advice to Claire: don't go in the basement. Any guess as to where Claire goes?

Between bumps in the night, a piano that plays itself and several other scares the film does indeed offer some truly frightening moments as it plays out. The first third of the film offers little in the way of horror with the exception of a few jump moments, scenes where things make loud noises causing the viewer to jump. But as it progresses it tells a tale that evokes some haunting images and a story that slowly unfolds to bring about real scares.

The acting is wonderful here, especially from the two leads. They don't appear to be actors at all but two people who work at the most boring of jobs, leading boring lives in search of something else outside of their own level of comfort. When the world they seek appears to be coming alive, their terror seems real as well.

The movie is slow paced but wonderfully so, never rushing to get us somewhere but letting us take in the whole view of the hotel and its history given in bits and pieces. The need for gore is absent and that makes the scares even more disturbing. Horror films that allow you brain to fill in the gaps make for much scarier viewing than simple effects. This film offers the thrill of the old horror film and that's something it should be proud of. If you want to see how a horror film can be done right, then by all means check this one out.

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There are sappy romance films galore being released to theaters these days that have the most unbelievable stories behind them. So the biggest surprise this week is a romance that is unbelievable and yet based on reality. Not only that but the movie is touching, romantic and draws you in. That movie is THE VOW.

Channing Tatum and Rachael McAdams play Leo and Paige, a young couple deeply in love on their way home from a night out in winter. Stopped at a stop sign, their car is rear ended by a sliding snow plow, sending Paige through the window to suffer severe brain damage. Kept in a coma to decrease the severity of her injury when she wakes she has no recollection of the accident but worse still no idea who Leo is. It's as if the last 5 years of her life have disappeared.

Hoping that time heals all wounds, Leo stays with her even though she recoils from him, a complete stranger in her mind. Her parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) show and try to encourage her to leave the hospital and go with them. Leo convinces her that the best hope she has of recovering her memory is to return to the life they had. She agrees for now with the idea that should things not work out she'll return to her parent's home.

Its slow going as the couple Leo tries to convince the woman he desperately loves that she loves him in return. The Paige from before she and Leo met is a completely different person from who he thought he knew. For some reason she left her home and friends to come to the city, but we never know why. The couple goes back and forth, trying to bring back their life together but eventually Paige's parents convince her to come home.

Helping her sister plan her wedding and still trying to find herself, Paige meets up with her ex-fiancé (Scott Speedman). Her parents try to convince her that she still wants to go to law school even though she was an artist while with Leo. An old friend is shunned but others are brought back into the fold. And as Leo watches, hoping against all odds to reunite with this woman, she slowly begins to distance herself from him for her old self.

This romance involves not two young lovers meeting for the first time but two lovers who met and fell in love only to lose all memory of that. The only hope is for them to once more come together replacing those old memories with new ones. And the suspense of the film lies in that idea, of whether or not they can come together once more of will Paige slide back into the past that is all she remembers now. And what about that terrible secret that no one seems to want to talk about that forced her out so long ago?

The movie is supposed to be based on an actual couple that went through this trauma and after watching the film many will want to make a point of reading the book based on their life to find out just what is and isn't a part of their story. In the meantime this movie offers a completely entertaining night that won't bore you and actually won't make you break down and cry either, no matter how it sounds. This is a movie where you won't find yourself checking the clock to see just how much is left. It moves along at a steady pace and draws you into the story in steps.

The acting is amazing. Never once did I find myself wondering if I was watching actors or real people and that says something. The gift of a true actor is to make you believe they are the people they are portraying. McAdams and Tatum both do that to great effect here.  With the roles he chose early on many would have thought Tatum was nothing more than a muscle bound action star but he displays a depth of emotion here that is necessary for this story to be taken seriously. McAdams shows the frustration and fear in the character of Paige that makes her part of the story come alive as well.

Toss aside trying to place this film in the category of chick flick. It's a truly entertaining film from start to finish that will leave you waiting to find out if they get back together or not. This is a movie not only worth renting but worth adding to your collection as well.

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If you grew up in the sixties or seventies more likely than not you spent countless hours at parked at the local drive in watching movies that were never going to win Oscars but were always entertaining in various ways. Horror movies would give you goose bumps, action flicks blew up countless buildings and T&A films titillated the masses. One common thread among all of these genres of films is director/producer Roger Corman. And with CORMAN'S WORLD we finally get an on film look at the man and his movies.

The documentary follows Corman from the early years when he began until the more current Corman, producing movies that most often end up on the SyFy channel. In his earlier days, Corman was a director who had a talent for making a marketable product for very little money. Those films became the fodder for drive ins across the country. While low budget the ingenuity and creativity displayed were amazing. I'll grant that they weren't top of the line movies, but there was heart to them and entertainment always. IT CONQUERED THE WORLD, CARNIVAL ROCK, NOT OF THIS EARTH, ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS, ROCK ALL NIGHT, MACHINE GUN KELLY, WASP WOMAN and BUCKET OF BLOOD are just a few of the movies that Corman directed during the 50s. Then he took off in the 60s.

During that time he began with a little movie shot in several days called LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. A staple on late night horror host shows across the country, it was a beginning of cult status for Corman. In 1960 he took off when he directed the first of several films he made based on the stories of Edgar Allan Poe with FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. This was soon followed with PIT AND THE PENDULUM and PREMATURE BURIAL. Corman's use of color and stylistic forms are noted to this day by film makers around the world.

But Corman didn't just make great movies. He also helped up and coming film makers and stars get the chance to get into the business as well. One was a young actor who was quite unknown at the time but who Corman gave more opportunities than one: Jack Nicholson. In the documentary here Nicholson gives Corman the credit he deserves for helping him along when he got started, coming to tears at one point.

Other notables who Corman gave opportunities to who appear in the film with candid interviews include Martin Scorsese, Paul Bartel, Peter Bogdanovich, David Carradine, Joe Dante, Jonathan Demme, Robert DeNiro and Bruce Dern. All either starred in a Corman film or directed films for him.

But the movie isn't just a tribute to the man. It follows his career from those early B-movies through the creation of his first company, New World. Disappointed in the way films were being green lighted and made in Hollywood, Corman started the company feeling that he could offer movies made on lower budgets but that had something going for them. They were also a chance for movie makers who had dreams to get the chance they needed. An example of that is a man who discusses the way he was able to break into directing. Long before he made films like THE DA VINCI CODE, FROST/NIXON, A BEAUTIFUL MIND, RANSOM, APOLLO 13, PARENTHOOD or BACKDRAFT director Ron Howard was given his first chance to direct by Corman with the film GRAND THEFT AUTO. The movie did great for a small film and began Howard's directing career.

One would think that would be enough but it isn't. Corman went on to make more films as a producer and even at 80s now hasn't stopped. He's been producing films for the TV network SyFy now going back to his roots using CGI instead of a man in a rubber suit. If you've seen DINOCROC, CAMEL SPIDERS, CYCLOPS, SUPERGATOR, DINOSHARK, DINOCROC VS SUPERGATOR and the like, you've seen a Corman film.

This documentary follows the time line of Corman's life, from those early black and white low budget films through the honorary Oscar he received. It has been a life filled with great and bad movies, with friends that have stayed with him and recognize him to this day that he made decades ago. It shows a man who made movies that might have displayed some artistic value along the way but whose main goal was up front, to make money. To do so means you have to make movies that people actually wanted to see and Corman always did that. He's famous for making the statement that he never lost money on a movie he made (with one exception, THE INTRUDER which is discussed in this film). Having produced over 400 movies that's quite an accomplishment.

If you've never heard of Roger Corman, don't be surprised to discover that he's been involved with more than one movie you've seen. His list of credits available at is amazing. This film does him justice with interviews from numerous people from his past and present. It gives short glimpses into the various genres of movies he made. And it pays tribute to one of a dying breed, the Hollywood mogul. Corman deserves to be included in the ranks of Selznick and Mayer. While a rebel when it comes to how Hollywood works, Corman has been one of its biggest players of all time. Watch this film and find out how.

On a last note I defy anyone to watch this film and not find themselves thinking back fondly to some of the movies he made and that are discussed here. Chances are you'll click on to and place an order after watching.

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It seems that we've never had a female version of the James Bond character. Certainly Bond has had his share of femme fatales but never has one taken the lead role in a film. The closest we've had in the past was Cynthia Rothrock who starred in a series of martial arts films, but those were always B movie quality. That all changes with HAYWIRE.

MMA star Gina Carano starts as Mallory Kane, an operative for a private group that hires out to the likes of the CIA. An ex-Marine, Mallory is more tomboy than girly girl. As the film opens she makes her way to a diner where she meets up with Aaron (Channing Tatum), a fellow operative sent to bring her in. When she refuses the first of many well choreographed fight sequences begins. Mallory escapes and is on the run with a young man from the diner in tow. As they speed off she begins to tell him her tale.

It all went sour with a job in Barcelona. Mallory's boss Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) has sent her out at the request of Coblenz (Michael Douglas), the head of a secret government agency one would assume is the CIA, and fellow spymaster Rodrigo (Antonio Banderas). It should be a simple snatch and grab, rescuing a hostage and taking him home. When one of the guards for the hostage takes off, Mallory chases him down resulting in another well choreographed fight sequence.

Home after the run Mallory finds Kenneth waiting for her and asking her to do one more job before some well earned time off. This time the job takes her to Ireland where she is to meet up with a member of MI-6 named Paul (Michael Fassbender). At a party hosted by some big wig, Mallory wanders around and discovers the hostage from the Barcelona affair with a bullet in his head. Something seems wrong which becomes painfully obvious when Paul tries to kill Mallory when they return to their hotel room. He doesn't succeed.

Traveling home with the intent of revenge, Mallory has ended where we found her at the beginning of the film. Just who she can and can not trust is in question. The only person she does is her father, an ex-military man himself (played by Bill Paxton). When a hit squad with Kenneth shows there the chances of their survival are slim even though they exude confidence. How the film finishes, just who was it that was behind all the skullduggery and who will pay make for a fine film.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh this is not his usual style of film. This outing into the world of action adventure shows he is quite capable. While not quite up to par with the Bourne films, the movie does take its action sequences seriously and shoots them in the way they should be shot, with the camera back a way so we can actually watch the fight scenes rather than in the middle looking for close ups.

The story is well written and thought out though it takes a while to get to the bottom of things. Perhaps more clues along the way would have upped the ante here, but as it is the movie still tells a compelling story.

The movie seems made for Carano, forming around her and her incredible fighting skills, showing them off as best as they can. One would think that her acting ability would be lacking but she demonstrates an ability to do better than most real life action stars pushed into the world of film. Her character does offer a rather stoic look more often than not, but for a first feature role she does outstanding. Future films will tell if she can get the acting chops she needs or not.

For an action film the action must be non-stop and well thought out. It must be paced at regular intervals and those scenes must work well within the story. That is done here in spades. It also must feature someone who can handle the action as well as co-stars who can do the same. That's also well done here, including having Fassbender do his own stunts in the fight sequence he performs with Carano. It all results in a fast paced, well made action film that's worth your rental fee.

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It's not often that a movie exceeds any negative expectations you have for it. That holds more true when a movie is marketed as a feel good movie that seems so saccharine sweet you're afraid you'll go into a diabetic coma should you watch it. Those were the feelings I had when I heard just the title of the film WE BOUGHT A ZOO. When I saw the trailer for it I felt it had to be as bad as I expected. What a rude awakening I had when I finally watched the movie. It's fantastic.

Matt Damon stars as Ben Mee, a journalist who spends most of his career traveling to exotic locations and facing danger. But nothing has prepared him for the death of his wife and being alone with his two children. The same holds true for dealing with where they live, a location where everything he sees reminds him of his wife and his loss.

Son Dylan (Colin Ford) has had the most difficulty dealing with the loss. He's in trouble non-stop at school where they're concerned about the themes of his art work (severed heads and gore) and where he lashes out by breaking rules. When he has his third strike, he's expelled and a new school needs to be located.

Dylan's sister Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) is the adorable one. She's the most uplifting thing this family has to offer. She never dwells on the loss of her mother and helps Ben to hold the family together be it talks the two have or packing lunches for the next day.

With all that's going on Ben decides he and the children need a change. They need a different house, a different location and something new in their lives. He quits his job and begins house hunting. When he and Rosie find the ideal house they discover there's a hitch...the house is part of a zoo in need of much repair. But he sees this as a challenge and something to do so they buy the zoo.

Some things go as expected with Dylan seeing this as unfavorable and thinking more of him than the family. Ben shows the usual frustrations with dealing with a teen filled with angst as well as a new job. But with the help of the staff he inherits they work toward the goal of having the zoo ready for inspection and opening come June.

Heading that staff is Kelly Foster (Scarlett Johansson). With more knowledge than most she has kept the place running and taken care of the animals while a suitable buyer was sought. Along with her are several staff members, most notably Peter MacReady (Angus Macfadyen) as a zoo designer with a grudge against the zoo inspector who can determine if they are permitted to open or not.

The movie follows the ups and downs of trying to keep the zoo afloat and remade in time to meet their deadline for repairs suggested by the inspector. Money is tight and it seems they might not only have little time but little cash to accomplish their goal. But the film doesn't focus solely on this problem. At the heart of the film is the emotional turmoil going on in this family, as much with Ben as with Dylan. And as they try and cope with their own problem, the staff gets involved as well.

This is a film about people trying to rise above the worst situation they can possibly imagine. It's about people being brought together for a reason even if they aren't aware that fate has driven them into each other's arms. It's about love and the meaning of it all and about loss roped in the middle of that love.

The movie is never boring and never overly sentimental, a trap that many movies with these themes tend to fall into. Instead it deals with the problems the family faces as well as the predicaments they find themselves in while rebuilding the zoo.

The acting is fantastic doing what the best of actors do: make you believe that they are the character and not an actor playing a role. Everyone from Damon on down turns in a performance you can believe.

The movie is supposed to be based on a true story and if so then I'm hoping the zoo is still up and running. Perhaps the romance in the picture isn't real but we can hope so. And in the end we can hope that Ben Mee and his family are at peace and loving life again while we have the chance to share in their story and their triumph with this film.

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Forget the cowboys/alien movie, this one offers more entertainment. THE DARKEST HOUR begins with two young inventor/businessmen traveling to Russia to make a deal for the newest internet craze they've come up with, a hook up site that offers directions to the hottest nightclubs and more for anyone joining. Unfortunately their idea was stolen by their Russian partner, Skyler (Joel Kinnaman) and they've been tossed aside. After traveling halfway around the world to find a failed business adventure what do they do? What all twenty somethings do, head to the local clubs to hook up!

Ben (Max Minghella) is the smart one who came up with the program while Sean (Emile Hirsch) is the one with the supposed business savvy that got them there. Having used the program earlier in the day they're at the hottest spot and hoping to meet two fellow Americans, Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and her friend Anne (Rachel Taylor). While partying hard a noise outside drives the crowd to the doors to see what the commotion was. They discover what they first think is a lightshow in the sky. In reality it's an invasion of aliens hurtling to the Earth.

The first encounter they all witness is a policeman walking up to a fluctuating, glowing mass that looks like a holographic image floating in the street. When he pokes it, the alien wraps around him and disintegrates the policeman before the eyes of the crowd who immediately panic and begin seeking shelter. As they run various members of the scene are disintegrated one by one and our heroes only escape with luck by hiding in the backroom of the club. Along with them and necessary to help them translate is none other than Skyler.

After several days they travel out to see what has happened. It's basically the end of the world as we know it with no one in sight. They learn how to tell if the aliens are nearby since the energy that flows from these creatures brings light bulbs to full glow. Using this method they travel the city in hopes of finding other survivors and to see what's happened.

They do find others and join with them in hopes of finding help. A radio signal lets them all know that a Russian sub will be located in a pier on one of the main rivers running through Moscow but only till a certain time. It seems the aliens can't see through the water or through glass which reflects light. They head out encountering other survivors fighting back and taking the chance of being picked off one by one before they can make it to the sub.

The movie does have a rather simplistic plot at use here but it works. This is a classic sci-fi low budget flick produced with a much larger budget and a bit of creativity. The concept used for the aliens is cost effective yet works, giving us something we haven't seen before. As the heroes find a way to somewhat short circuit the alien's force fields we get a crude glimpse of them and don't have the need to see more.

But its not just sci-fi being used here. While I watched I thought back to films like RED DAWN (amusing since this film takes place in Russia) where we had a group of teens trying to take on an enemy far advanced than they are at that age. The combination of sci-fi and action make this film work.

Perhaps what made this movie more interesting yet for me was the fact that it was actually shot in Russia, something that would have been unheard of 10-20 years ago. Times have definitely changed, but movie perhaps not as much. The locations take center stage much of the time as we get a glimpse of a country we've not been privy to for long. And after the history the U.S. and Russia have shared, it's also nice to see characters from both countries uniting to take on a common enemy.

Don't get me wrong, this film is not an Oscar contender but it doesn't pretend to be that either. It is what it is, a simple sci-fi film that tells a story and tries to get us involved with characters in the shortest amount of time possible. This is Roger Corman with the chance to play in the big boy's sandbox and it offers a nice evening's entertainment.

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Fans of the classic drive in genre can rejoice knowing that Image has made the effort to release the films of Herschell Gordon Lewis on blu-ray. That's not to say the movies are spectacular in any way, but fans of H.G. and the films he made will be dancing in the street knowing they're now available in high format quality. Which seems odd since the movies were released on about as low a quality budget as was possible. In any event, the movies are a part of movie history, though at the bottom end.

The first film, WIZARD OF GORE, is the lesser of the two if that's possible. Montag it Magnificent is a magician who performs the standard tricks until the finale of his show. At that time he pulls out all stops and taunts the audience to decide if what they are about to see is real or merely an illusion. His first finale is to saw a woman in half. But this isn't the usual fare. Instead, he does so without placing her in a box but has her entire body in view. Pulling out a chainsaw, he proceeds to saw her open, guts and blood spewing forth in great profusion. Moments later the stunned audience watches on as the girl rises from the table, unharmed. The only problem is that later that night she goes to a restaurant and before she can order she's found on the floor saw in half.

A local talk show host having seen the show the night before with her boyfriend sportswriter sees the body being carted off and it accidentally touches her hand. The next day when she tries to get Montag on her show he declines until the bloodstain appears on her hand, a stain that only he can see. He invites her back that night and she goes this time to witness another grizzly scene, a woman with a spike driven into her skull. She too walks away unharmed only to be found later dead of the same injury seen onstage.

Just who Montag really is and how he's completing these gruesome murders would be the normal movie one would expect to see. Instead we get all sorts of goofy speeches from Montag about illusion and reality and a twist ending that would have seemed half smart had the rest of the film not been so bad. Worst of all is Montag himself, played by . When the term ham actor comes to mind from here on out this is the actor I'll see in my mind's eye. Couple that with some tremendously bad make up that has his hair changing color from white to brown and eyebrows that look like they've had shoe polish brushed over them and you have one really bad movie.

THE GORE GORE GIRLS is the better of the two films. Had this story been done with a bigger budget, better actors and a better script it could have been an A picture. The idea is quite good, it's just the execution that's lacking.

The dancers at the local strip club are being killed off in gory fashion. Heads opened, eyes gouged and more should be a reason to chase people off from visiting the joint but they continue to come to watch the go go girls dance away. The local newspaper hires top private eye   to investigate paying him top dollar to do so if he'll give them the scoop. He takes the job and the money and begins tracking down the killer.

Following a trail of clues and suspects he frequents the club where the girls work. This gives viewers plenty of time to see the main reason folks went to see this movie, semi-clad women shaking everything they had with the limited restrictions of the time. For those who don't understand that means pasties and panties are the wardrobe of choice.

Between sleuthing and dancing we witness the killer strike again and again in even more blood and guts scenes than Lewis has done in the past. It was the thing that brought people to see his movies and he delivers the goods.

As I said, this movie at least has a plot that you can follow and that makes sense. It was done, as were most of Lewis' films, on a budget set just below shoestring but the heart and soul that he put into his films is seen on display on screen.

H. G. Lewis may not be a familiar name to the majority of people. He probable will never be honored with an Oscar. But he was a pioneer of the times and did create a genre, the gore film, which has been copied and replicated over and over again. The biggest difference between his films and those being made today (other than budget) was that he was at least attempting to make something different, to offer a story that the gore became a part of rather than the center of.

Movie lovers who remember the days of the drive in will want to pick this one up. It may not be the best that was offered in that locale, but it is something memorable.

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Bob Newhart has been a staple of American TV for years. It began when he was a stand up comedian making albums that are still considered classic comedy to this day. When he took to the airwaves with his first hit TV series, THE BOB NEWHART SHOW, fans went nuts. The antics of psychiatrist Bob Hartley, his wife, friends and patients was a hit on CBS from 1972 through 1978. He followed that with NEWHART that ran from 1982-1990 (tell me you don't recall the phrase "Hi. I'm Larry and this is my other brother Daryl and my other brother Daryl.") Newhart joked on Johnny Carson's show that his series always featured his name and the next would have to be called Bob. While a joke at the time, it became reality.

BOB stars Newhart as a comic book artist who lost hold of his dream. The creator of Mad Dog, a comic book hero with the abilities of a dog, folded after several issues. Bob then went on to become a greeting card writer/artist. As the series opens he's still doing that but is contacted by a major comic publishing company owned by a reclusive millionaire to bring Mad Dog back to life.

The only problem is that the nostalgic idea of Mad Dog brought back were founded by comic book whiz kid Harlan Stone (John Cygan), a comic book genius who is more about blood, guts and explosions than the simple stories Bob had in mind. Trying to get these two different types of personalities to work together forms the basis for the series with all other items surrounding it brought in.

At home Bob has his loving wife, Kaye (Carlene Watkins) and his college aged daughter Trisha (Cynthia Stevenson). And family life becomes the fodder for his stories, including one episode when his daughter's break up becomes the theme of the first story that Bob and Harlan come up with. How that affects the family and how Bob circumvents the sell out of caring vs. creativity makes for some great laughs.

The craziness of the comic book world was little known when this series came out. It was just the beginning of what would eventually blossom into a world where comic book heroes were turned into the biggest blockbusters Hollywood has delivered in some time. So perhaps it was just ahead of it's time, the show only lasted two seasons. But for fans of Newhart and his work the release of this boxed set is a treasure. While some of the other series have been released sporadically this is the only complete one released at one time. It may not compare with the other two series, but for fans this is a must have set.

In watching the series I found that I enjoyed the shows, especially the craftsmanship displayed by Newhart himself. He is a tremendous comedian who never turns in a bad performance. Also in watching I realized that he was never one to hog the camera to himself and very often aided in developing the rest of the cast into characters that he could either work off of or present at their own personal best. That's a rare thing with most actors. It always helped the shows he was involved with, including this one.

It may not rank up there with the likes of the two previous series Newhart put together, but this one does offer some laughs. It's a must have for fans of Newhart and worth watching for everyone else. You'll most likely walk away wondering why this series didn't last as long as the other two.

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The genre of film known as "sword and sandal" has gone up and down over the years. A staple of films in the late 50s and early 60s the genre lost favor when the age of the anti-hero and film student film makers took over. But in 2000 that changed when GLADIATOR hit the screens and planted Russell Crowe firmly in the position of movie star. More movies followed like TROY and 300. And so it is we now have the latest film based on Greek mythology, IMMORTALS.

The story opens by telling us the history of the Gods of Greece, having risen up against the Titans and imprisoning them in Mount Tartarus. The only weapon on Earth that could possibly free the Titans and thus open the world to a war among Gods once more is the Epirus bow, now being sought by King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke).

As the army of Hyperion moves forward in search of the bow, villages fall and inhabitants try to stay one step ahead avoiding capture. Young Theseus (Henry Cavill) is a highly skilled warrior trained by an old man in his village (John Hurt). But since his birth was the result of his mother being raped, both are looked down upon and when the time comes to leave they are left behind. This results in Theseus' mother's death when the village is attacked by Hyperion's men and Theseus is captured.

While this is going on Hyperion has captured the oracle Phaedra in hopes that she will lead him to the bow he seeks. But it is visions of Theseus that fill her head and she knows that he is the key to stopping Hyperion. When their paths cross Theseus helps leads a revolt against the few guards that hold them prisoner organized by Phaedra and with the help of a thief named Stavros (Stephen Dorff) they set out to bury his mother in his home village.

While in the village they discover that the Epirus bow was buried there all along. Theseus recovers the bow but is attacked by Hyperion's beast the Minotaur. Theseus survives and knows his destiny lies in stopping Hyperion. They travel to Phaedra's home only to be overtaken by Hyperion's men and losing the bow. Now it's up to Theseus to join the army that stands against Hyperion and prevent the release of the Titans. And this is just the main story going on here.

Along the way Theseus and Phaedra fall in love, politicians fall for Hyperion's tricks and nearly cause the downfall of the civilized world and the Gods speak to Theseus. It seems that the person who trained him was Zeus posing as the old man. Having already told the rest of the Gods that they are not to interfere, he tells Theseus that the Gods can not assist man; they must shine on their own. These were the rules written long ago when the Titans were first imprisoned.

Of course this all means that we're bound to see a major battle scene involving the good army against the bad one, a face off between Theseus and Hyperion and the possibility of the release of the Titans if Theseus doesn't quite take care of things. And should they be released, a battle among Gods will surely follow.

The movie offers the tale of a hero extremely well and perhaps it's time we told stories of heroes once again. It seems there we find few out there these days in the spotlight and so many are toppled from their pedestals by those who feel we need more truth and less heroes. Myself I'm glad we have heroes to inspire us even if they are in movies and stories only.

The special effects are dazzling to watch and fit nicely into the story rather than take it over. Battle scenes are bloody but they would have been since they involved more bludgeoning and blades than anything else. But at least those involved have that gritty look to them as opposed to the freshly starched togas seen in some films.

The acting done by all shines here, especially Cavill. That's great to see since he's been tapped to portray Superman in the new film being made. He has the presence to carry that role off which many were concerned about when he was named. If he can make you believe he's the Grecian hero seen here then Superman should be a breeze.

The movies being turned out in this genre have all been exceptional and well worth our time as a viewing audience. Many have been worth adding to our collections, including this one. Let's just hope they continue to make them and then discover that the past treasures deserve blu-ray treatment as well. For now we'll have to be content watching releases like IMMORTALS which offer tremendous entertainment.

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For a film called THE IRON LADY this movie was felt more like it was formed from Reynold's wrap. But what else would you expect in a movie made about a Conservative woman by a group of Liberal die hards? Its difficult not to bring politics into a film of this nature since the centerpiece is a politician. But when all that's offered is a one sided description how can you not?

For those who are confused while watching a film that jumps back and forth in time then stop reading and forget this movie. It does that from start to finish and not very well. The object of the movie, the Iron Lady in question, is ex-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, portrayed here by Meryl Streep in an Oscar winning performance. Just another example of why the Oscars mean so little these days.

The film opens with Thatcher in her later years post PM status and after the death of her beloved husband Dennis (Jim Broadbent). At this time Thatcher was dealing with the impending onset of Alzheimer's as well as the loss of the man she so desperately cared for. We watch as she attempts to force herself to part with those things left behind, clothes and the like. And while she does, so various items and things around her home lead her to remember her past.

We get glimpses of young Margaret as she works in her father's store while the other girls walk past. We she her listening and being influenced by her father's speeches to the locals touting the value of a solid business front not willing to cower to the Nazis as they attempt to bomb the country and force the people into hiding. These are the ideas that formed the basis for her beliefs but they are given short time here.

Flash forward as Margaret deals with her daughter or perhaps the other way round. We see her getting ready for a dinner with friends where her opinions are asked but she seems buried in the past and her guests seem more embarrassed than pleased to hear her views. Her daughter acts the same.

Back in time we see how Margaret meets Dennis but not how they fell in love. Margaret decides to take on the establishment and become a female member of Parliament. Her struggles in the face of chauvinism can be seen here with a touch of the problems she faced but more in focus as to the differences in clothing choices, a bright blue dress among a sea of black suits.  Then back to her slow slide into dementia.

The important historic moments in Thatcher's life are touched on but very lightly. Incidents like the Falkland War and the miner's strike feel like they are mentioned without any depth to them. Other items like the Iran hostage situation are ignored completely. With the amount of story involved in Thatcher's life I was left wondering why the film makers here decided that her illness seemed the most interesting part of her life instead of those more interesting historical moments. Then again when thinking about Hollywood's depiction of Conservative figures I recalled the attempt to make Ronald Reagan look senile and mentally ill as well. The friendship between Reagan and Thatcher is barely touched on in this film.

Streep won the Oscar for best actress for her performance here. I am at a loss as to understand why with the exception of the fact that she is Hollywood royalty and is nominated for anything she does these days. I saw little acting here and more impersonation. If that's all it takes to win an Oscar then Rich Little should have had an entire shelf lined with the trophies. I will admit that I've never been a Streep fan up front but this movie did little to change my mind.

It would be nice if folks in Hollywood would take a historical topic and present the facts untarnished by their own viewpoints when making the film. I have little doubt that there were bad things about Thatcher but there were good as well. A movie that would choose to present both sides and let the viewer decide would have been interesting. This movie did little but make you wonder how she stayed PM for 11 years. Then again the movie also made you wonder about her sanity the longer you watched.

To capture an entire life in 105 minutes is difficult at best. To present it accurately and fairly even more so. Some may watch this film and think they've learned about Margaret Thatcher. It only made me want to look deeper into her life as this felt more like fluff than biographical film. The only good thing this movie presented was the love and adoration Thatcher felt for her husband. Even a story revolving solely around that would have made a better film.

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Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the self-absorbed attitude taken by folks who live in the New York hoi paloi? For some reason these people seem to think that if they're interested in something then everyone else is interested in the same thing, or that they should be. Perhaps this explains why they seem interested in a fashion or idea that never catches on until several years later at which time they think it has passed. High profile dance clubs was one such creature and LIMELIGHT, a documentary covering the life of New York club owner Peter Gatien, tells us much about that world of the past.

Gatien was a Canadian who had an idea, the desire to build the ultimate club in New York City. Long past the days when disco ruled in clubs like 54, Gatien wanted to make something special and achieved his dream when he built clubs like Limelight, The Tunnel and Palladium. Each had its own decor, style and theme and each was popular with various crowds. The clubs became THE place to be seen by various celebrities and in turn created a few of their own.

But the clubs came tumbling down when it came to what went on behind the scenes. While Gatien wanted to create a place for people to hang, for people to enjoy themselves and to ultimately make money in the process, to do so meant including others. When you toss that many people into the mix something is bound to go wrong. As the film describes various people involved in Gatien's clubs were involved in many things from drug dealing to murder and their contributions with these things led the collapse of those same clubs.

While this was going on there was also a change in the world of New York City. Where the world on NYC was filled with drugs and crime and what many would consider socially unacceptable behavior, those in charge changed. Along comes a district attorney by the name of Rudolph Guliani who decides it's time to clean up New York. Times Square changed with the downfall of porn houses, pimps and prostitutes and the recreation of the area into a world filled with family oriented businesses. Included in this clean up were the clubs of Gatien, clubs filled with hedonistic leaning people who wanted to do what they wanted without consequence.

These two items combined to bring down the fall of the clubs and of Gatien. As the documentary unfolds you get the impression that Gatien wanted nothing more than to offer a place for club goers to gather while making a profit at the same time. For one man to control this entire empire would be impossible. The choices Gatien made in those who helped run things was his mistake. It was these people that chose to do things that would harm more than help his clubs.

 The film combines documented footage and stills from the clubs, news footage and interviews with those who were there to make an interesting film. It does so not using just those who were involved in the club side of things but government officials who helped lead to the closings of the clubs as well. Best of all it includes interviews with Gatien himself.

When you walk away from this film you won't consider Gatien the devil that he may have been portrayed as by those who prosecuted him. You won't consider him a saint either. You will have a behind the scenes look at what it takes to not only create a business but to keep it in check as well. This movie doesn't offer any clear cut bad guys. It does show the world as it really is.

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There are tons of movies that are shipped out direct to DVD. Some of them are decent films and on occasion you get one where you wonder what folks in Hollywood were thinking when they release some piece of crap and yet release a great movie direct to DVD. And there are movies like MERCENARIES which make you forget about why direct to DVD but how did this movie ever get made to begin with?

The story is fairly simple. The US has an ambassador in the Balkans who's been captured by a ruthless general starting a coup of the country. They need to send in a team to rescue him but if it's an American team the political fall out will be disastrous. Instead, they decide to send in a team of mercenaries.

The team consists of several ex-military types led by Andy Marlow. And this is where things begin to go all wrong. First off the team looks like their uniforms were just purchased from the factory. Even outfits bought at army surplus stores look more worn than these do. Nicely creased, not a speck of dirt and it remains that way through most of the picture. The second thing is that there is no discipline among this team. While Andy is the man in charge, when a group of civilians are about to be killed the entire team ignores his plea to stick to the mission to help them. Mercs as depicted in most films follow orders, stick to plans and get the job done. Here they do what they want, make as much noise as possible while attempting to avoid detection and don't do one thing that would keep the enemy from knowing exactly where they are.

As members of the team are knocked off one at a time, they do rescue the ambassador and his lovely assistant who seems as familiar with weapons as the mercs are. Good thing since their numbers dwindle with each passing minute.

I'd love to say this film had some redeeming quality to it but there isn't a thing that I liked about it. The acting was amateurish at best, the script was terrible and the story lame. Then to cap it off the sets were amazingly bad. The movie looks like it was filmed in some Appalachian forest reserve rather than the Balkans.

Forget whether this movie is worth adding to your collection it's not even worth a rental no matter how low the price. As a matter of fact it's not worth wasting your time to watch if it was free. Pass this one by.

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When I first saw the original MOTHER'S DAY back in the eighties I was conflicted. I found it to be disturbing, vulgar, and gross and yet original and a low budget film that you found yourself forced to watch through to the end and remembering. The remake of that film has none of those attributes.

This time around we start with a group of friends christening the new house a young couple has bought. It's obvious that the woman in question isn't quite sure how she feels, but we have no idea why yet. The oddest thing about this gathering is how different each couple seems; as if there is no way that these couples would be friends in real life.

The second half of the story revolves around a trio of bank robbers, one of which has been badly wounded during their last heist. Unsure of where to go to escape the net the police have cast to catch them as well as an upcoming hurricane, they head to the safest place they know, their mother's house. The problem is that the house was foreclosed on months before and they haven't kept in touch with their mother to know this.

After walking into the house, they confront the couples there and recruit one, who happens to be a doctor, to take care of their brother. Only then do they call their mother on an unsecured line to find out what happened. While waiting for her arrival, they try to figure out to do. The most volatile of the bunch terrorizes the couples in the basement while the smart on attempts to make a plan.

Mother shows with their sister in a motor home, their new place to live. It turns out that the special phone she gave them was lost a while back which is why they had no idea what happened. She tries to calm down the couples in the basement and reprimands her boys for their behavior. She seems to be the calm one of the family.

But that changes. When they tell her they've been sending her money to this location, she begins asking the new home owners what they did with the money. Both tell her that they never received any packages but she doesn't believe them. She sends the oldest boy out with the woman of the house along with the debit cards of each person there to get money. To escape the country they'll need $10,000. While they're gone, she tries to find the answers as to where the money went.

As the story unfolds, the couples begin to turn on each other. Some want to make an attempt to escape, others want to take on the bad guys while a third group just wants to play along with whatever they want. Degradation and torture follow (not nearly as has happened in worse films of this sort) and solutions aren't forthcoming. Just who will survive the night remains to be seen.

If you've seen the original film you'll notice tons of changes, the setting being the first. Gone are the two redneck killers from the original to be replaced with three bank robbers. Mother isn't an elderly woman being replaced here by Rebecca DeMornay. Hurricane? Where did that come from? Stolen money? Couples?

The original film, though brutal for the time, focused on three friends camping who are captured by two redneck brothers who are encouraged by their mother. It was a story of survival. It took place in the deep back woods in rural America. The only thing this film has in common with the original is death by Drano and an impaled crotch.

I have yet to understand why folks who love a film feel the need to revamp it to make it something different. If you loved it, why change it so much? Then again the real reason is easy. It's easy to cash in or get financing when you have a known commodity to help draw people into a theater or to purchase a movie. Unfortunately to date no remake has lived up to the original and this film is proof of that. Which is saying a lot since the original was one of the first films brought to you by the folks at Troma, a company that makes a point of miniscule budgets and plenty of over the top gore. Don't bother with the remake and seek out the original if you're looking for a real horror film. This one only hopes you won't know what the first one was like.

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Perhaps I've grown a bit jaded over the years. At 54 years old I've seen all sorts of movies. I've seen everything from low budget movies that were impressive to high budget movies that were terrible and the other way round. I've seen movies that were supposed to be great that I hated and movies that were supposed to be terrible that I loved. I've seen movies that were supposed to be high brow dramas that I agreed with. And then I've seen movies like this one that had all the trappings of high brow intellectual crap that critics love to meander over that in truth were nothing less than boring.

Michael Fassbender stars as Brandon, a young executive on the rise. Things seem to be going well for him professionally but personally not much so. Brandon is a character lacking something in his life. For the most part he has little if no love life going for him. At the same time, his sex life is exploding. Brandon is a sex addict of sorts. If he's not paying some high priced call girl for her time, he's surfing sex sites online or having sex conversations there as well. Personally his life is a mess.

If this weren't bad enough, Brandon's sister enters his life as well. Sissy is another totally messed up individual. Having been through many men in the hopes of finding the right one, she always seems to pick the losers. After a recent split she asks if she can stay at his place for a while. He relents and she invites him to see her perform at a local club. He finds it hard to believe she's found work but is stunned when she does well.

So now you have the set up of the story. And honestly it doesn't go much further than this. Each character's interaction with each other and Brandon's interaction with a woman he is attracted to despite his emotional problems make for the gist of the film. Long conversations that lead no where, revelations that aren't surprising and the lack of a character to feel sorry for, to sympathize with, make this one long boring film.

As I said earlier, there are films that critics love to praise with pseudo-intellectual clap trap, discussing the symbolism of what the director intended or how the actors were able to display intensity with a subtle nuance. More often than not when I've read reviews like this it tells me the critic was more interested in appearing to be in touch with the art crowd than writing an honest review that said either this is crap or I didn't get what the point was here.

For me with the amount of movies out there to watch, with the good, the bad and the ugly available either via Netflix, Redbox or the local store, I don't understand why anyone would waste time with something like this. To me it felt like time wasted that I can never recover. With the cost of a movie ticket or to purchase a DVD one has to wonder why anyone would consider something like this to be worth the amount of money they expect us to pay for it. Then again there are so many pretentious people in the world who want to make it seem as if they are so far above the fray that I'm sure this movie will at least make it's money back and cause another investor to put money into more films like it. So sad.

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Fans of Star Trek are well known. They are devoted to the ideas professed by creator Gene Rodenberry that began with the original series and then carried over into every other incarnation. It was the idea that man would find peace with his fellow man, that people would accept one another for who they were, how they looked and that the boundaries of borders would no longer matter. It was a story of hope; hope that mankind would seek to find new worlds and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

The original series was short lived but the fans were not. So much so that they original cast came back to star in multiple films that gathered big box office. So much for what Nielsen ratings could tell. That series has found its way to homes via DVD and later blu-ray. The blu-ray editions are amazing featuring cleaned up prints with enhanced special effects. Now the same thing will happen to the second series, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. But before they release that they wanted to give fans a taste of what to expect thus this new release.

THE NEXT LEVEL offers three episodes of the series that went on to last longer than the original. They've chosen three episodes that are considered to be among the best with the hopes that once they are viewed here, people will be more than willing to collect the series itself when released. Again we're presented with the cleanest possible prints available as well as enhanced special effects. These are not replacing the original effects but cleaning them up and making them the best technologically they can be.

The first episode here is "Encounter at Far Point", the first episode of the new series that introduces the new cast as well as a recurring character from the series, Q. Here Q questions the ability of man to soar the heavens and to investigate space, to cross paths with creatures and civilizations unknown to man. He places Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) on trial to defend mankind and to show that they are not the primitive beings that he thinks they are. It is up to Picard to demonstrate that we are not the savages Q believes us to be.

The second episode is "Sins of the Father" in which Warf, the Klingon representative on the Enterprise discovers a brother he never knew existed and must return to his home planet to defend the honor of his father and family. Accused of being a traitor, a heinous crime in the honor bound beings of Klingon, Warf must discover the truth behind the accusation and who is actually responsible. But when he discovers this truth, will he be strong enough to do the right thing?

The last episode included here is "The Inner Light". This offered a very different role for Stewart as Picard. An encounter with an alien satellite emitting a beam of sorts results in Picard being hit with a ray that can't be disconnected. While others try to save him on the ship in his mind he is taken elsewhere, to another planet and another life where he slowly watches as that planet begins to fall apart. It doesn't happen in days but in years and with each passing year we see him marry, have a family and age. Is it really happening or is it something else?

STAR TREK in any incarnation was a science fiction series beyond any made. Not only was the dream of a peaceful world sending out people to explore the cosmos there but it offered so much more. It offered drama that focused on family which the crew soon became. It showed us that there were bigger things out there to worry about then our own petty squabbles. It showed that while we could be a violent race we could also offer peace as well.

Fans of THE NEXT GENERATION will be glad to have this tidbit to tide them over until the series comes out on blu-ray. For those unacquainted with the series, it's a good way to see what it was all about. This is a worthy addition for any blu-ray collection. The only bad thing about it is the wait for the entire series to arrive. 

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Transplanted policemen have been a staple in movies for years. Take JAWS for instance. So it's not often that these sorts of films offer us little in the way of surprises when the theme is chosen. Such is the case with TEXAS KILLING FIELDS.

Brian Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is the relocated police detective in question. Having moved to Texas several years earlier he is teamed up with local hot shot Mike Souder (Sam Worthington). The pair are asked to be involved by the local sheriff (and Mike's ex-wife) when it seems a serial killer is on the lose.

The area in question is a matter of debate as far as jurisdiction is concerned. But killers never seem to worry about jurisdiction, they just find a place to dump a body and carry on. This seems to be the case as the bodies keep appearing and police keep investigating.
Even though it isn't in Heigh's area, he continues to look into the gruesome murders which weigh heavy on his mind.

Mike has a different attitude. He advises Brian to ignore the murders and concentrate on problems in their own back yard. But when the killer sees Brian taking notice he takes the murders to the police, leaving them clues and taunting them so that they'll stay on the case.

While all of this is going on a young girl in the area becomes a problem as well. Her mother dumps her outside while she "entertains" some of the local fellas. Brian and Mike both show some concern for the young girl and take her home giving her mother a warning. But if she did that where would the movie go?

The cat and mouse game back and forth between the killer, the police and the young girl is slow moving at best. The terrain is boring beyond belief to look at. And the mystery isn't all that complex that we can't figure out who's behind it all with little exertion.

All of the main actors involved in this film deserve better material and fortunately they have been getting it. This may not be the worst movie ever made but it's not one that most people would seek out and rightly so. There are far more interesting and entertaining films and mysteries that offer clues in with better methods. If the shelves at the local video store are bare, then perhaps this movie would be worth checking out. Otherwise let it slide.

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I'm amazed at the movies that depict the results of a nuclear war and how they've changed over the years. In the past, during my childhood years, there was always a sense of hope and cooperation between survivors in those films. During my teen years we were treated to the terrifying glimpse of the reality of the results of this form of war. And now as I've grown older, it seems a new generation feels that man can not do anything but remain destructive and petty. Where has all the hope gone?

THE DIVIDE opens with a nuclear bomb going off while Eva (Lauren German) watches from the window in her high rise apartment. Her boyfriend grabs her arm and they rush off down the stairs hoping to find an escape. Instead when they get to the lobby, they find themselves nearly crushed as the tide of people come running back in to avoid the blast wave and, fortunately for them, they have the chance to join a few that have made it to a bomb shelter in the basement.

The shelter was kept up by the apartment building's super, Mickey (Michael Biehn). And Mickey now intends to rule this basement as he sees fit, sharing what he has with the rest but by with certain restrictions. Some of the people want to leave but Mickey explains to them that the dust from the bomb will make the chances of survival outside next to impossible. It's better to wait it out till things settle.

Tempers and egos flare as each person wants to make their own decisions, failing to take into consideration that simply opening the door could do them all in. The posturing of males wanes back and forth while Mickey still controls them all in his most unpleasant manner.

The psychological aspects of being alive but trapped in a shelter play out throughout this film offering us little hope in a world where people care about one another but would rather focus on themselves only. Eventually help does arrive or so it seems. Instead the protective suited armed group that enters doesn't aid all but just a little girl in their midst. When members of this group later try to find out what's going on, the military welds shut the door and leaves them to themselves. Will they release them later? Who knows?

Before that day can happen the group begins to change. Not only physically but mentally as well. Life among the living deteriorates and the basest behaviors are displayed among them all. It becomes a sad tale in a world where insane attitudes seem to rule.

I'm not averse to movies that depict the world as it is. But it seems that these days a younger generation seems to have no hope in mankind or the world we live in. We've gone from a world where a generation dreamed of reaching to the stars to a world where we accept defeat at the hands of bombs. A new generation of film makers seems to see the worst mankind has to offer and expects that to be the norm rather than the exception. Then again with the self absorbed youths of today perhaps they're on to something.

It may seem as if I've revealed quite a bit about this movie, but most of it could have been witnessed in the trailer. There is much more that happens and all of it depressing as Hell. to me that's not entertainment. I couldn't find much that I could recommend about this film unless none of the things mentioned bothers you. Director Xavier Gens also made the film FRONTIERS which many touted as the best film they'd seen in years. I found that movie to be more disturbing than entertaining as well. But if you liked that one my guess is you'll enjoy this as well. For all others, pass it by.

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