The Sorrow and the Pity

(1969 – France) dir: Marcel Ophuls. Documentary
A somewhat inflammatory documentary about the real experience of France under the Nazi occupation, centering on the town of Clermont. It consists almost entirely of interviews with the participants — soldiers of both sides, resistance fighters, politicians, and even collaborators. At four hours long, it is a little punishing, but not for its length. The picture it paints is an ugly one… the extraordinary degree of collaboration, divisions among the various factions of the resistance, the complicity of the Vichy government in the persecution of Jews, and more. Small wonder that it was controversial in France; broadcasters there refused to show it. But it is an important record of what can happen to ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. It ain’t pretty.


Daughters of Darkness

(1971 – Be/Fr/Ger – aka Les Levres Rouges) dir: Harry Kümel; w/ Delphine Seyrig, John Karlen, Danielle Ouimet, Andrea Rau. Some skin; no gore.
Countess Bathory is still around and shows up at a swank hotel looking for her next youth treatment. At first, this looks like we’re going to get a stylish and artsy, but formulaic, take on the sexy vampire shtick. But then it starts to show some nicely nasty, dark twists and turns. Sadly, the filmmakers had disposed of such frivolities as ‘plot’ and all those ideas go unused; essentially nothing more than red herrings. And so we plod on (so very slowly) until we get to the predictably vacuous ending. Okay, the flick looks good and Seyrig almost makes it worth our time, but it’s still just a braindead collage of scenes. Really, these people could have spent the time to give us a documentary on the sex lives of flounders – it would certainly have had a better story and probably been more erotic. Yeesh.


The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu

(2009) dir: Henry Saine; w/ Kyle Davis, Devin McGinn (writer/producer), Barak Hardley. No skin, mild gore.

Some middle-class loser turns out to be the last heir of H.P.L. and now it’s his job to save the planet from eternal ickyness. Okay, it is cute and quite well crafted, but it’s a bit of an inchoate beast and only loosely connected to the Cthulhu mythos. There are some mostly unrelated bits in here that seem to be made for an actual horror flick, but they are spliced into a script that wobbles unevenly between nerd-gags and juvenile off-color sex jokes. The film is at least partially saved by a lot of good talent at work. For me, that wasn’t enough to keep it from being predictable and tiresome, but it doesn’t stink and I can see why some folks like it.


Shira: The Vampire Samurai

(2005) dir: Simon (aka Jeff Centauri); w/ Chona Jason, James Lew, Adrian Zmed. Teensy bit o’ skin; no gore.
This is sort of like Blade, but with more tits and less talent. It’s also the sort of diplomatic incident one gets when American nerds try to make a kick-ass movie just like those cool Japanese flicks. Ooh, ick. They pretend the fight scenes are cool with the use of very quick cuts and a lot of posing, while the rest is padded out by what appears to be several attempts at a script and a half-attempt at editing. This is the kind of movie that is so bad it’s… not even funny. Sadly, the only value here is as an example of how not to do it.


Pig Hunt

(2008) dir: Jim Isaac; w/ Travis Aaron Wade, Tina Huang, Howard Johnson, Trevor Bullock. A little skin; a little gore.
Yup, the city-boy hunters and the inbred rednecks shoot at some pigs and then eventually get to shooting at each other. Then there are some completely fruitcake hippies, and then finally we get a gargantuan boar-snout (that’s really all we ever see of it) snorting around and being threatening. Okay, the cast is great and the production quality is generally quite good. But the flick spends most of its time pretending to be several other movies that did it better, and then pretends to have substance by tossing in some random violence (and snorting). It’s a scatterbrained effort that never settles down to one idea, doesn’t provide much plot, and worst of all, does not actually give us a rampaging piggy.


The Devil’s Rock

(2011 – New Zealand) writ & dir: Paul Campion; w/ Craig Hall, Matthew Sunderland, Gina Varela. A little skin; some gore.
On a remote channel island on the eve of D-Day, a Kiwi commando and an SS occultist must team up to take down a seductive, shapeshifting demoness. Some of the ad copy for this one wants to make it out to be an exploitation flick, but this is a serious attempt at a supernatural suspense. It has a solid cast and is very well crafted. However, the story just doesn’t have enough substance to really carry it all. They try for some twists near the end, but at the bottom line, it’s still just another skull-munching demon. While it is not a waste of time, it’s not exactly memorable, either.


2012: Doomsday

(2008) writ & dir: Nick Everhart; w/ Cliff de Young, Dale Midkiff, Ami Dolenz, Danae Nason. No skin; no gore (duh).
It turns out that the Mayans knew all about the end of the world because they were Christians — and the second coming is now at Chichen Itza. Um, yeah… they really do appear to be serious about that… anyhow… just in time to ride the coattails of an actual movie, this is what you get when you update the religious scare films of yesteryear. I realized they wouldn’t have enough budget for any credible doomsday, but they certainly should have done better than to give us the same tired old platitudes and a vague segue into the Tribulation. It’s a film of vapid dialog and transparent attempts at tension – the only thing ‘profound’ about this flick is the degree of its failure.