Review Roundup this week is a combination of new releases and some that came out last week I didn’t receive in time. First up we have The House By The Cemetery 3-Disc Limited Edition by Lucio Fulci. This early 1980’s horror flick is one of the forgotten movies shot in my home state of Massachusetts. I had actually never seen it so I was glad it came my way. It’s about a young family moving from NYC to New England so the husband/father can continue another man’s work. They move into a creepy house that has secrets that eventually reveal themselves by film’s end. Although some of the actors speak English, the children speak Italian (it is a Fulci film after all) and the entire movie was dubbed in post production. There are a couple of standout effects/scenes including the mechanical bat and the final reveal. I don’t know if I 100% understood the film, not sure how the creepy son could understand ghosts/voices, but overall I enjoyed the film. This new release is quite impressive. It has gone through a new 4K restoration from the original uncut and uncensored camera negative, fully loaded with exclusive new and archival extras. The third disc in the release is the soundtrack as well. If you are a Fulci fan/collector, this is a must own.
Second we have Complicity. This is about a Chinese immigrant living illegally in Japan. He takes on a new identity and starts a job at a family-run soba restaurant. He tries to live his life delivering food, learning to make noodles from the restaurant owner and meeting a woman, but is always looking over his back because he’s there illegally. I’m not quite sure what more I’m supposed to take away from that. It’s a straight forward narrative which opens with him buying a fake ID and doing odd jobs at first then finding a “home” once he becomes more settled working at the restaurant. The performances are fine and the film is well made, but am I supposed to feel a certain way about this? He knows he’s there illegally by his own choice. He knows he has to watch everything he does. If he has to pack up and leave it all behind that’s on him. Everything from the film making aspect is fine, but I don’t think I got the emotional response to it they expected me to have.
Third we have Moving Parts. This is about a Chinese woman sent to Trinidad and Tobago illegally thanks to her brother trying to find a new life. At first she works in a restaurant because the woman providing her with a place to live takes her passport. Her brother owes money to others as well and she gets involved in sex trafficking. The statistics at the end about the country’s sex trafficking was shocking. I wouldn’t think a country like that would have the huge numbers of girls put into the sex trade as it does. I’m not sure if this is based on a specific true story, but I’m sure it’s the story of many women. The lead actress is quite good even if you know what’s going to happen. It’s a story that’s been told before, but her performance and others make it watchable. Not sure if it’s something I’d watch again, but it’s good for a single viewing at least.
Next is a group of Mill Creek Entertainment releases from different times in January. I reviewed a few already, but these are the ones I watched over the past few days. First is Gracie’s Choice starring Kristen Bell. It’s from the early 2000’s and finds Bell as the oldest daughter of an abusive alcoholic (maybe drug addict, not sure if they showed her using drugs) mother played by Anne Heche. After the police take Bell and her brothers and sister away, they move in with their grandmother. She eventually gets settled in high school, gets a job and her own apartment where she takes care of her brothers. Heche pops up from time to time to wreck havoc on the family, but it’s Bell who eventually becomes the mother figure. She’s pretty good in the role and I’m not too familiar with her earlier work. You can guess where the story is headed and seems based on a true story, but if you are a fan of Bell’s you’ll enjoy it.
Next we have A Psycho’s Path starring Rampage Jackson as a man who terrorizes a small town in California. He doesn’t say much, I honestly don’t remember if he actually speaks, but he plays a good killer. Todd Bridges makes a cameo and that’s about all I remember about the film. It’s pretty by the books but does have decent violence. If you like small town cops, diners, Vacancy-type flicks and mental hospital settings it might work for you but don’t expect much. Not bad to watch once, but not the cult flick I was hoping for.
Terry Pratchett’s The Color of Magic and Hogfather Double Feature is next. Each is a two part made for TV series based on his DiscWorld stories. I’ve never read the stories, but the series did remind me of Good Omens which is based off a Pratchett story with Neil Gaiman. The Color of Magic and Hogfather both have narrators and revolve around DiscWorld which floats upon elephants standing on the shell of a giant turtle going through space. Yeah they are fantasy stories. The Color of Magic sees Sean Astin as a tourist with a magical chest full of gold on legs. He meets a wizard who just got kicked out after decades. They go on an adventure with Tim Curry as the bad guy. Hogfather is Pratchett’s take on Christmas. Think of it as Dickens meets fantasy. These were pretty decent hits on British TV and I believe there were others that aired as well. If you like Pratchett you’ll love this release.
Sticking with double features we have The Pathfinder and The Song of Hiawatha. The Pathfinder follows a mid-18th-century British scout through the wilderness on a mission to sneak into a French fortress and is based on a James Fenimore Cooper novel starring Kevin Dillon and a younger Laurie Holden. I thought the costuming and veteran actors (like Graham Greene and Stacy Keach) were good, but the production value overall seemed lacking. Dillon seemed too young for his role as well. The Song of Hiawatha is based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It’s the story of Hiawatha and his love for Minnehaha. I thought this was the better of the two films and had overall better production value and performances.
Last we have Jim Allison: Breakthrough which came out in December, but physical copies didn’t go out until later. It’s a documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson about Jim Allison. If like me you might not have a clue who he is. Turns out he’s a Nobel Prize winner who fought for years to cure cancer. He fought Big Pharma who let’s be honest, doesn’t want to see people cured, they want them sick and on drugs. He’s a pretty fascinating man who one could label the rock star of cancer. He thought differently, lived differently and felt the effects of cancer on himself and family. If you know who he is you’ll enjoy it, but if like me you weren’t familiar with him, you’ll kinda see him like a badass which isn’t what we normally think of when we think of scientists.