Phenomena (1985) – Review

I know that a lot of people dickride Argento, and now I know why. This is the only film of his I’ve seen so far, and if this is any indication of what his other work is like, I’m going to have a great time getting to know Dario. Let’s see, we get bug-whispering, a straight-razor wielding monkey, a swimming pool of decaying flesh, and a crippled scientist. That’s a lot to unpack, I know, but somehow it all works. This film almost seems like a bunch of half-finished scripts were melted down and glued together, but it never fails to fully flesh out the ideas that are put in place during the course of the movie.

So basically, Jennifer Corvino is the daughter of a famous film director, and is sent to a boarding school away from her home in America. A murderer is killing young teens in the area and, coincidentally, her telekinetic/psychotropic bug powers might just be the solution to everyone’s problems. After stumbling upon her roommate’s carcass, she is sent on a journey to avenge her death by John McGregor, an entomologist and professor.

Let’s set something straight. The soundtrack/cinematography combo in this movie is next fucking level. The POV-killer shots really drive the mystery forward without being overly gruesome to satiate gore-hounds. The atmosphere is dangerous, although ominous, and the scenes we get that take place in nature feel almost lonesome and gave me a feeling of the supernatural. One thing I did find odd though, was the dialogue. Before you’re strapped in for the ride, you immediately notice the dubbing, and boy, can it be painful to sit through. This falls to the wayside though, as through visuals and mythos we get a much deeper story than what some shoddy dialogue might make seem shallow.

It’s fantastical, dreamy, lucid, and more. I almost couldn’t get enough of it. After being burrowed in my brain for a week, I definitely know how I feel about this film, and I feel a lot of love. I highly anticipate watching other Argento film’s, though I don’t know how you can top one such as this, though I know Suspiria will put that to the test. If you’re in the mood for a slow-motion stabbing and rich-people problems, give this movie a watch. If you want to steer clear of maggot-pools and disfigured-evil-demon children, I’d skip this one.

Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

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Starry Eyes (2014) – Review

Hell and Hollywood, Satan and stardom, sex and the sinister. We have seen it time and time again in movies for as long as I can remember, and while I’ve seen it done quite well in movies such as Mulholland Drive, I think the way Starry Eyes portrays the relationship between sex and stardom comes off as not original or as enticing as I would’ve hoped.

The first two acts of this movie, while quite a slow burn, actually had me invested and interested into where the film would end up going. Our lead, Sarah, is facing a moral dilemma, and struggling to make it in a shit-hole world where it seems dreams are never as easy to achieve as we would want them to be. We get hallucinogenic 80s-esque sequences through the first two acts of the film, and while slow, it really brings tension to the film and honestly I liked the speed it was going though it did feel more like a suspense film with eerie shots and music to set the tone. The synth-filled soundtrack and blueish hue the movie has throughout really evokes a mood that I wish the last portion of the film would’ve maintained in its entirety.

Now I know I shouldn’t trust any opinions but my own, but I’ll admit I did take a look at the IMDb page for Starry Eyes and I saw that many people found this movie divisive. It’s a love/hate film, and unfortunately I think I fall into the hate category. I think that’s all because of the last act; this carefully crafted and suspenseful beginning ends with gore-porn and while I am a fan of good eyeball-crushing kills, I thought these, unfortunately, don’t sync up with what the beginning of the film had to offer. I mean we go from Sarah screaming “I’m dying!” and crawling around on the ground, to murdering four of her friends in a matter of 10 minutes.

All in all, I won’t say this movie is terrible, I just didn’t enjoy the payoff. It’s definitely a “what-the-fuck” film and enjoyable if you aren’t looking for an A+ grade movie with a plot that will change your life, though I know some people will beg to differ. If you feel the need to see a couple of titties and a bald-headed cultist, give this movie a watch. If you don’t feel like seeing someone bludgeoned with a barbell or a fingernail-peel-off scene, I’d skip this one.

“Hail Astreus!”

Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Black Magic (1975) – Review

From the very beginning of the film, you know that this is going to be a compilation of all the sex and blood the 70s exploitation genre had to offer. The plot essentially revolves around a love triangle and a black-magic-using ‘wizard’ who utilizes breast milk and voodoo dolls to conjure up spells that his clients want. That’s not all that entails though, as the sorcerer’s wacky and wild experiments soon garner the attention of an opposing wizard, who clashes with him throughout the film.

The film itself is easily one of the more campy movies I have seen recently, even more campy that the Met Gala 2019. I love the dubbing, in its awful entirety, and how the movie seems to forget what it’s about occasionally, but never in a way that hinders the progression of the film. As expected, we get a lot of zoom-in closeups and oddly unexpected dialogue (as expected with most foreign films from this period) but something about the film really engaged me and left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling, like a new-born puppy appeared in my colon.

An amusing and fun experience, laser beams, fireballs, and more, collide to give a viewer a fun view of Asian black magic, and although the movie does lack the special effects of movies now, it’s still an engaging film. If all these things aren’t already making you salivate, then I don’t know what else will. A marvelously fun movie with enough entertainment to enjoy from now, to anytime in the near future.

Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Devil’s Sword (1983) – Review

I saw this film in the theater, this year. You read that correctly. I saw this film, inside of a movie theater where people paid to see this movie, with other people, in the year 2019. Admittedly, the movie can drag on at times, but there is a lot of things that make up for it and make the movie incredibly rewarding even if you are watching soberly. Crocodile men (although they look more like lizards), a man who uses his hat as a decapitating boomerang, and laser beams, are just some of the few keywords that come to mind when attempting to promote this movie to future film connoisseurs.

The dialogue is impeccable (“you bitch!”), the sex scenes (or what a twelve year-old would consider sex), and cannibalistic dungeon dwellers are another couple of positives I would award the film. As afore mentioned, the movie does drag, so if you get a surprise call from your mother or your significant other during a viewing, don’t be afraid to walk outside and talk for five to ten minutes, you most likely won’t miss anything that important or pertinent to the plot. If you decide to watch this film, do not expect a bad time, nor would I expect you to have a good time, but I also don’t know you, so do as you wish. One thing I do know though, is that this film is definitely one of my favorite exploitation films as of now, and if the opinion of a 21 year-old college student strikes you as something you find poignant, I would recommend you watch it as well.

Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

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