Saw (2004)

Directed by James Wan [Other horror films: Stygian (2000), Dead Silence (2007), Insidious (2010), The Conjuring (2013), Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013), The Conjuring 2 (2016), Malignant (2021)]

So it should come as no surprise that, to me, Saw is a very special movie. I don’t deny it’s dated in some aspects, nor do I deny that some of the performances aren’t quite up to snuff, but even with those issues, I can’t help but see this as an almost perfect movie.

A big part of this, to be sure, is nostalgia. When I first saw this film on Showtime or HBO, I had absolutely zero idea where it was going or how it’d end. I’m sure I had heard vaguely about the film, but I didn’t really know going in exactly what it was even about. And then, come the conclusion, I was blown away, and how.

To this day, that’s one of my favorite finales. Sure, the quick recap, giving us seemingly hundreds of short clips, is a bit much, and one of those dated aspects I mentioned, but despite that, it possesses such a depressing and hopeless aura to it, what with the screaming for mercy while the door is being slid shut. It’s just beautiful.

What’s also beautiful is the whole concept of Jigsaw. Throwing people he deems unworthy of the gift of life into torturous, yet beatable traps (in theory – that broken glass trap with the safe looked pretty close to impossible) is a fun concept to mess around with, and I thought they did a good job here, especially since, unlike later movies, this one doesn’t rely too much on the carnage and gore of the traps, but of the mystery surrounding the situation Adam and Lawrence find themselves in.

I think most people can see that Leigh Whannell’s performance is a bit off. He certainly cracked me up at times, and of all the characters in the film, he’s probably the most sympathetic, but the acting isn’t great. Luckily, it doesn’t really make a big negative impact in my mind, because most everyone else does decent. I mean, hell, the cast is actually pretty solid, with such names as Cary Elwes, Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon series), Michael Emerson, Tobin Bell, and Ken Leung (who randomly popped up over ten years later in the ill-fated MCU series Inhumans). All of them bring something to the table, and it makes the story work beautifully.

Personally, there are some films that aren’t easy to put into words just the amount of impact they make on me, and Saw is a good example of that. On almost any horror forum I’ve joined, my user name’s always been some variation of ‘Jigsaw,’ and though I can certainly see some flaws with additional viewings of the film, none of that can change the fact this movie as a big reason why I became such a dedicated fan of the genre, and I don’t really hesitate to give it the highest props possible.

10/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as I defend Saw against Chucky’s (@ChuckyFE) slanderous words.

The Borrower (1991)

Directed by John McNaughton [Other horror films: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), The Harvest (2013)]

Filmed in the late 80’s and not released until 1991, this science-fiction/horror mix isn’t a particularly great movie, but if you go into it not knowing much, nor expecting anything from it, The Borrower might turn out to be an okay watch.

As it was, I didn’t love it, but I will admit I was impressed by the fact that, despite the goofy premise (an alien is exiled on Earth for his crimes, and must survive by stealing the heads of Earthmen), this movie isn’t actually all that steeped in humor. Sure, there’s a little here and there, but much of the film is played decently straight (it helps that there are some serious topics addressed in this, such as homelessness, taking a life in self defense, and sexual assault), which was a pleasant surprise.

That doesn’t make the movie good, of course. The story itself doesn’t drag, but it does seem somewhat aimless at times (which might be expected, but it doesn’t make it any more enjoyable), and the conclusion, at least to me, felt rather lack-luster. Certainly the special effects, for what they were, weren’t at all shabby, but a competent story with decent special effects isn’t like to really keep people excited throughout.

I don’t think that Rae Dawn Chong, the lead actress, did a bad job here, and she did shine in a few scenes, but I’m hard-pressed to say that she really brought a lot to the film. More interesting to see was Antonio Fargas, who was in the classic 70’s television series Starsky and Hutch (a series of which I’ve seen most episodes of, believe it or not). Here, he played a homeless man who came into contact with the alien, and they almost have a buddy cop feel to them (up to a point, of course). Fargas didn’t really make the movie, by any means, but he was certainly a nice and familiar face to see.

When all’s said and done, The Borrower did exceed the admittedly meager expectations I had, but it still came out as a below-average film. Certainly for an early 1990’s movie that I’ve almost never heard of before, it was a somewhat nice surprise, and I certainly recommend it to fans of alien-based horror, but it’s a far cry from great, and definitely a different look for director John McNaughton (who directed the classic Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer).

6/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss The Borrower in all it’s glory.

Communion (1976)

Directed by Alfred Sole [Other horror films: Pandemonium (1982)]

Certainly a proto-slasher classic, at times almost feeling like an American giallo, Communion (more commonly known as Alice, Sweet Alice) is definitely a worthwhile and interesting film, and worth the watch if you’ve not yet seen it.

Like many 70’s films, there is a chance some of the material could come across as dry, but personally, I think the story here was interesting enough to combat some of those inclinations. It also helps that the mystery of the killer is an engaging one, and though we happen to find out who the killer is with around thirty minutes left to go, the mystery still holds up.

Another aspect that I can’t help but give kudos to is the gritty setting. This isn’t a high-budget film, and it really shines due to it. The broken down city, what with empty factories and other industrial constructs, really gives the movie additional feeling. Assisting with the gloom is the heavy rainfall, and I think it does wonders to the atmosphere of the film.

With plenty of competent and compelling performances all around, it’s hard to point to any one actor or actress as the best here. Certainly Linda Miller and Rudolph Willrich work well together, and Willrich’s scenes with Niles McMaster (of The Incredible Torture Show) positively stand out. Mildred Clinton gives a great performance of a character with quite a lot of emotional punch, and you can’t forget Alphonso DeNoble, who’s atypical physical appearance and sleazy behavior really allows him to stand out.

Oh, and of course, playing Alice, there’s Paula E. Sheppard, who, amazingly, despite playing a 12-year old girl, celebrated her 19th birthday during the shooting of the film. She certainly doesn’t look it, and I think she gives off a great performance, especially early on when there’s still some mystery surrounding the mysterious deaths of those around her.

Of course, what would a review of Communion be without talking about the deeply religious nature of the film? I was raised Roman Catholic, and though much of that is far behind me, I did enjoy seeing much of this carnage play out around parishioners of the Catholic church. Some see this film partially as an attack of the church, but that needn’t be the case. Some of the mayhem occurred due to religious reasons, to be sure, but there are good and bad people throughout the film with Catholic leanings, so I think some calling this an indictment upon the church may be over-reacting.

Like I relayed in my review of Children of the Corn, among other films, religious mania, leading to violence, is especially horrifying because, at least in the USA, it’s very much a possibility. In Children of the Corn, Isaac and his peeps thought age inevitably led to moral corruption, and so logically made the move to kill them before reaching that age. Here, the killer has a perfectly logical reason, at least in regards to their beliefs, for the actions they take, and when such atrocities can be defended due to religious beliefs, and there’s no chance to possibly break through to them, that’s a good show of the real world coming into the film.

Communion, or Alice, Sweet Alice, isn’t a perfect film, but I do think it’s an exceptionally strong one, and really fits in with the gritty and serious nature of 70’s horror. In fact, had this been made even five years later, I think it would have been a significantly different film, so I’m happy that this was made when it was, as it encapsulates much of what I love about that time period. The kills aren’t the focus, but they’re solid when they pop up, and I love the mystery here. Definitely a classic that’s worth a watch.

8/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Alice, Sweet Alice (or Communion, if you’re partial to original titles, brah).

Burnt Offerings (1976)

Directed by Dan Curtis [Other horror films: House of Dark Shadows (1970), Night of Dark Shadows (1971), The Night Strangler (1973), The Norliss Tapes (1973), The Invasion of Carol Enders (1973), Scream of the Wolf (1974), Dracula (1974), The Turn of the Screw (1974), Trilogy of Terror (1975), Dead of Night (1977), Curse of the Black Widow (1977), Intruders (1992), Trilogy of Terror II (1996)]

Ah, good ole’ Burnt Offerings.

I can imagine that to a modern-day audience, Burnt Offerings can come across as overly drawn out and unnecessarily lengthy. At almost two hours long, one could almost see their point, were it not for the fact that Burnt Offerings is fantastic from beginning to end.

Ever since I first saw this one, it stuck with me long after I saw it. To be sure, a large part of this was due almost singularly to the character of The Chauffeur (Anthony James), who has been my Twitter banner, and occasionally my avatar on various sites, since seeing this, but even ignoring what a great character James was, the story’s slow pacing and steadily increasing unease is some of the best slow-burn I’ve seen in a long time.

Another thing that can’t go unmentioned is the stellar cast. Karen Black and Oliver Reed (Paranoiac) do phenomenally, Reed in particular during the pool sequences. Of course, Burgess Meredith was nice to see in his brief scenes, and I’ll talk more about Anthony James’ performance shortly, but I think the real star here, once you get past Black and Reed, would be Bette Davis.

Though close to 70 at the time this movie came out, Davis was just fantastic as a strong, older woman full of energy only to find that, the longer she stayed at the house, the more she felt drained. She became forgetful and fearful, and her youthful exuberance dissipated almost entirely. The argument she had with Black’s character about whether or not she turned the heat on in the room of Black’s son was a tense one, and really showed the strength of both actresses present. Davis, of course, also starred in both What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, both of which are very much classics themselves.

Anthony James’ The Chauffeur didn’t pop up that often, but pretty much every time he did, talk about tense scenes. It’s amazing that a character with no dialogue and so few on-screen sequences can make such an impression, but James managed it, and managed it beautifully. His scenes are great, and whenever he pops up, you’re in for a heart-racing time.

Are there some unexplained questions? Sure, and even the ending, while pretty solid, probably could have been cleaned up a little, but at the same time, I thought it gave a fantastic element of suspense, and though I didn’t end up loving the conclusion, I definitely felt that it was still worth the wait.

All-in-all, Burnt Offerings is probably one of my favorite of the more traditional haunted house films, beating out great films (The Innocents, though to be fair, this is more of a tie) and others (The Legend of Hell House, 1963’s The Haunting) to really stand out solidly for both the decade of the 1970’s and the genre overall.

8.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I review Burnt Offerings.

Dark Ride (2006)

Directed by Craig Singer [Other horror films: Perkins’ 14 (2009)]

I think this is my third time watching Dark Ride, and the first time that I realized that it’s really not a good movie. It’s not a terrible movie, don’t get me wrong – if you want a quick slasher that has decent kills, then you could certainly do much worse. Even so, Dark Ride hits about the bare minimum of requirements, and I only just realized it with my most recent watch.

Most of the plot and kills strike me as competent (the blowjob decapitation perhaps standing out the most), with the only thing really setting this apart, at least to me, is the setting, and to be fair, it’s more or less just a rehash of Hooper’s The Funhouse anyway. None of the characters really stick with me, and some of the arguably better characters (Patrick Renna, for instance) sort of fall flat come the finale. Like I said, Dark Ride is competent, but it isn’t really much more.

It’s hard to say that anyone really stood out. Patrick Renna (Fear, Inc. and ‘Bad Blood,’ one of the best episodes of The X-Files) had charm at times, in his awkwardly geeky way, but he could also be a bit of a dick. At least he was somewhat memorable, though, as David Clayton Rogers and Alex Solowitz often feel as though they fade into the background.

Jamie Lynn-Sigler and Jennifer Tisdale were cute, I guess, but it’s Andrea Bogart who is clearly the VIP here, as far as actresses go. Her introductory scene cracks me up, and though she may just be a generic hippie character, I totally dug it. The killer (played by Dave Warden) had a decent-looking design, but wasn’t really anything special or that remarkable.

There is a bit of comedic value in the film. Nothing major, but a few quips here and there that I sort of chuckled at, such as Renna’s character apparently not knowing what a condom was, or Renna’s constant movie talk, and Andrea Bogart’s impassioned delivery about music, hitchhiking, and sexual assault, not to mention the scene at the gas station. There’s enough here to at least keep you amused even if the horror aspects were by-the-numbers.

Certainly I think the finale as a whole was laughably awful – while I liked aspects of the twist, I thought it came across as sort of cheesy, and not much of a shock. It’s not as though it ruined the movie, though, as the film still has a little entertainment value, but the ending was definitely something that could have been improved.

Dark Ride is entertaining to an extent, and if you’re a slasher fan, I doubt you’d have a terrible time with this, but it probably lacks what makes some of the best slasher films memorable, so it may best be suited for a single viewing as opposed to making any type of annual rotation.

6/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Dark Ride.

The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

Directed by Rob Zombie [Other horror films: House of 1000 Corpses (2003), Halloween (2007), Halloween II (2009), The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009), The Lords of Salem (2012), 31 (2016), 3 from Hell (2019)]

Like many of the films I’ve seen recently, The Devil’s Rejects is one that I’ve not seen in years. There was a time in the past where I rated this quite highly, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. While I still derive quite a bit of enjoyment out of it, I don’t think it’s the masterpiece I once thought it was. Easily, though, this would be in Rob Zombie’s top movies, without question.

Also important to mention is something most people already know, being that this is a complete tonal shift away from the psychedelic House of 1000 Corpses. It’s a shift that I think makes sense, and more so, was probably necessary. In fact, the shift is so huge that this barely resembles a horror film, and, much like The Silence of the Lambs (which is arguably more horror than this), it’s on the fence of the genre. Personally, I’ve always seen enough here to count it, but I also dislike The Shining and Drag Me to Hell, so as always, take my opinions with a grain of salt.

I think what really pulls this movie together into the solid film it is are the fantastic central performances, especially from Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, and Sid Haig. We don’t get a lot of Haig in the previous film, but here, he’s decently fleshed out, and his scenes with Zombie and Moseley are golden given their deep history and fun interactions, and that ending is an emotional gut-punch on par with Titanic’s finale (and I’m only half joking).

Haig’s fun throughout, and the same can be said for Moseley, who really gives up some quality quotes (“I am the devil, and I am here to do the devil’s work”) throughout. Sheri Moon Zombie used to annoy me here, and to an extent, she still does, but I do find aspects of her character quite amusing (such as her blowing at a victim’s hair just to get a rise out of them) and her relationship with Otis and Spaulding is well-shown here.

Replacing Karen Black as Mother Firefly was Leslie Easterbrook (Police Academy), and while she may lack some of the charisma as Black, I think she does a great job showing the character’s more unstable side despite not having much screen-time. And speaking of unstable, William Forsythe (who strikes me as a big name, but I’ve not seen outside of Halloween and The Rig) does great as a deranged police officer. Lastly, Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead, From Beyond, and Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III) was great, though his character was a bit hard to like at times. Still, him and his carnal relations with chickens made for a quality subplot.

I’m not really as interested in Forsythe’s investigations throughout the film, be it his argument about Elvis and Groucho Marx or his dealings with the two bounty hunters (Danny Trejo and Dallas Page), partially because I get tired of seeing Trejo’s face, and partially because it took time away from what I found the far-more engaging relationship between the remaining Firefly family, but I get the interest too in seeing more of Forsythe’s character devolving.

Otherwise, I find the story pretty engrossing throughout, and the finale at the Firefly house, what with Forsythe’s character torturing the three of them, was both fantastic and oddly emotional, though it can’t compete with the true emotion we get at the ending, and “Free Bird” playing the movie out. Just an overall fantastic conclusion.

I don’t like this movie quite as much as I used to, or maybe it’s more fair to say that I don’t quite place this on as high a pedestal as I did in the past. No doubt The Devil’s Rejects is still a good movie, but as my appreciation for House of 1000 Corpses has grown over the last couple of viewings, I can’t even truthfully admit that I like this much more.

8.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss The Devil’s Rejects.

Valentine (2001)

Directed by Jamie Blanks [Other horror films: Urban Legend (1998), Storm Warning (2007), Long Weekend (2008)]

Life sometimes strips away the finer things, and leaves but a burnt out husk in it’s wake.

That’s how I see Valentine.

There was a time in my life when I really enjoyed this movie, and would place it alongside Urban Legend, Cherry Falls, and I Know What You Did Last Summer as great post-Scream slashers. My recent visitation with Urban Legend has already removed it from that list, though, and unfortunately, the same has happened with this one, which is a damn disappointment.

Valentine is a movie I really wanted to end up enjoying as much as I used to, but I just couldn’t. It certainly had it’s strong elements, such as the design of the killer (and not just the mask – the overall dark clothing was, as the kids say, off the chain-hook), the small comedic scenes (such as the speed-dating or the argument between Benita Ha and Jessica Capshaw), and the solid opening (Katherine Heigl being stalked by the killer). Hell, most of the kills are actually pretty decent (my favorite perhaps being the bow-and-arrow murder).

Even with all of these positive portions, I found the whole of the film somewhat, for lack of a better word, shallow, and definitely, by the end, somewhat under-cooked.

Most of the acting is fine. I don’t think anyone is particularly great, mind, but most of the main performances (such as Marley Shelton, Jessica Cauffiel, David Boreanaz, Daniel Cosgrove, what-have-you) are competent enough to not cause any issues. If there was one moderately iffy performance, I’d have to point at Boreanaz, but it may be more because I disliked his character than the actual ability behind his acting.

It’s largely the conclusion to this one that really lets me down. Some of my issues are small things (for instance, I do not believe for a second that, at a party of something like a hundred people, only one person would be in the hot-tub, and no one would be in the game room), but the reveal of the killer’s identity also strikes me as weak. It didn’t help that I was reminded in part of Alone in the Dark, which is a much better movie than this one in most ways.

I’m not saying that Valentine can’t be a good watch, and to a certain extent, I enjoyed a decent amount of the film. The ending just doesn’t really do the rest of the film justice, which is a shame because I think Valentine had a lot going for it.

Oh, and one more point which I thought was somewhat amusing. I mentioned earlier that I recently rewatched Urban Legend, and found it lacking. It’s a better movie than this one is, to be sure, but it still felt just as tame and held back as Valentine feels, at least to me.

As it turns out, and I honestly didn’t know this until after finishing Valentine this time around, this film and Urban Legend share the same director, being Jamie Blanks. Given that piece of information, it makes sense that this rewatch went about as poorly as Urban Legend, which, again, is a shame.

No doubt there are worse movies out there, and I also don’t doubt that I’ll see this one in the future, and perhaps I’ll even see Valentine in a moderately kinder light with my next viewing. Right now, though, I think it’s below average, but not disastrously so.

6/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. It’s a quality podcast, if only because I’m there. As such, if you listen to the video below, you can hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Valentine.

Ice Cream Man (1995)

Directed by Norman Apstein [Other horror films: N/A]

I won’t deny that part of my enjoyment of this movie stems from strong nostalgia. I saw this film, or at least pieces of this film, quite a bit as a child, and due to that, despite the somewhat goofy idea, I sort of like what Ice Cream Man was going for.

Most of the time, when horror comedies tend toward the goofier, sillier side of things, my enjoyment wanes. There’s not necessarily a whole lot of overly silly scenes here (sure, the giant ice cream cone with a decapitated head is a bit much, but that puppet play was on point), but there were enough to make me cringe a few times. Even with that, though, I found the movie more charming than anything, which, like I said, is probably the nostalgia talking.

Really, as far as the story goes, there’s not really a whole lot happening. A bunch of kids (such as the beautifully nicknamed Small Paul and, even better, Tuna) think the new ice cream man is creepy, and potentially kidnapping the youngsters, and set out to prove it. It’s pretty much Summer of 84 twenty years earlier (only with 1/10th of the production budget, of course, as Summer of 84 was stylistic as fuck).

None of the main kids, aside from maybe Anndi McAfee, are that memorable, but there are some quality faces in here, such as Clint Howard, David Warner, Olivia Hussey, and David Naughton. Okay, Howard is pretty fun (as expected), but Warner, Hussey, and Naughton weren’t anything special. Warner (who I recently saw when watching Titanic again, and is perhaps most notable from The Omen for horror fans) didn’t have much of a character, Hussey’s performance was one of the more cringe-worthy portions, and Naughton (An American Werewolf in London) was mostly forgettable, but hey, it was still nice to see some of these people.

Despite being a rather cheesy film, there has always been one part of the story that legit creeped me out, being the asylum scene toward the latter half of the film, in which two detectives, investigating the allegations against the ice cream man, check out the mental institution he was released from. The whole of the scene is pretty unrealistic (in much the same way the existence of Gatlin from Children of the Corn is unrealistic), but it has a rather unsettling vibe to it, and I remember it actually scaring me a bit as a kid. Definitely a personal high-light for me.

Otherwise, Ice Cream Man is pretty much what you’d expect. A few more gruesome scenes, but nothing overly gory, and definitely a very cheesy movie, which, like I’ve said, adds a bit of charm to it. It’s nothing amazing whatsoever, but honestly, it’s a movie I could see myself watching again and again without hesitation, and because of that, I’d probably throw this one an average rating.

7/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this icy hombre.

Crawlspace (1986)

Directed by David Schmoeller [Other horror films: Tourist Trap (1979), Catacombs (1988), Puppetmaster (1989), The Arrival (1991), Netherworld (1992), Possessed (2005), Little Monsters (2012), Puppet Master: Blitzkrieg Massacre (2018), Death Heads: Brain Drain (2018)]

Honestly, there’s not really a lot to Crawlspace. Oh, sure, it’s short, at only an hour and twenty minutes long, but more to the point, there’s not a whole lot of story here. Girl moves into an apartment building, girl hears strange noises, girl finds out landlord is a Nazi. I mean, we’ve all been there, right?

Well, perhaps not, but it is true that this movie doesn’t really feel that active. It’s not that there’s really a boring moment here, because I don’t think it drags at any point, it’s more that it just felt, for lack of a better adjective, shallow.

Respect where respect is due, Klaus Kinski gives a great performance (apparently he wasn’t that enjoyable off-camera, which was interesting to learn). It’s not that his character is filled with unique backstory or emotion, it’s just that he plays his role in a very creepy, yet subtle, style, and he’s pretty much all you’re watching when on-screen.

Problematically, he’s about one of the only reasons to go out of your way to watch this, though. It’s not that the other performances are bad, or even lacking (I personally enjoyed the main character, played by one Talia Balsam), it’s just that there’s not a lot to this movie, and Kinski’s character is pretty much the focus for a large portion of it.

Hell, most of the kills themselves aren’t exactly that memorable, save for maybe the chair scene, and while I’ll give credit to the ending for being somewhat suspenseful (a chase through air ducts being both claustrophobic and tense), along with the woman trapped in the cage added an additional uneasy vibe, I just couldn’t find it in me to call this an overly memorable movie.

I think I’ve seen this one maybe three times before, perhaps only two. No matter how many times I saw it before this most recent viewing, though, I don’t think I was ever amazed with it. No doubt that Crawlspace is competent, and occasionally compelling, but it’s certainly not much more than that. Not bad with a single watch, but I really don’t think multiple viewings does this one much good.

6.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen to the wonderful video below to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Crawlspace.

Videodrome (1983)

Directed by David Cronenberg [Other horror films: Shivers (1975), Rabid (1977), The Brood (1979), Scanners (1981), The Dead Zone (1983), The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1988), Naked Lunch (1991), eXistenZ (1999)]

David Cronenberg is a director I have a difficult time with. I respect much of the work I’ve seen from him, and Videodrome is no exception, but few of his movies are films I’d actually call enjoyable, and again, Videodrome is no exception.

It’s not for lack of trying, either – I’ve now seen Videodrome something like four, perhaps five, times. I’ve consistently not loved it, and though many of the visual elements are great, and certainly some of the ideas within the movie are worthy of praise, as a whole package, this movie feels more like a mess.

To be fair, much of this is due to the fact that I simply don’t understand exactly what’s going on. “Long live the New Flesh” is a fun saying and all, but what exactly is the “new flesh,” and how does Bianca O’Blivion’s “new flesh” differ from Barry Convex’s “new flesh”? Brian O’Blivion is interesting, no doubt, and I found his appearance on the talk show quite amusing, but his philosophical ramblings, devoid of any practicality, wasn’t my idea of a good time.

Certainly, science fiction that challenges the viewer with new and sometimes befuddling concepts isn’t something that need be a problem. Much like Triangle, though, I just don’t get exactly what’s going on in this movie (and especially toward the end, which I guess isn’t really the end for Woods’ character, just the end of his arc in his current flesh?), and when a movie has great special effects but a troublingly confusing story, that’s a bit of an issue for me.

Like I said, this isn’t something I went into blind – it’s a movie that I’ve seen multiple times. I was actually hoping for a bit more enlightenment this time around, since before now, I’ve not seen this one in quite a long time. Nothing doing, though, which, while that might be a shortcoming on a personal level, I can’t pretend that doesn’t impact my views on the film.

I don’t have that much to say about the performances. I think that James Woods is decent here (and during the talk-show about violence on television, I tended to agree with everything he was laying out), though not really a stand-out performance. Debbie Harry played one of the more interesting characters (for the screen-time she had), and I certainly wouldn’t have minded learning more about Jack Creley’s Brian O’Blivion, but others fell somewhat flat, such as Sonja Smits and Peter Dvorsky. Overall, there wasn’t much to be amazed by as far as the actors and actresses go, but that’s not really a big issue, as that’s not really what this movie was going for.

What it was going for, or at least by far the most memorable thing about the film, was the special effects, which were pretty solid throughout. Obviously there are some very striking scenes (such as a head going into a television screen, and a man poking his hand into a slit in his stomach), and it’s certainly impressive, but I can’t say that it necessarily made up for any of the perceived issues I had with the story.

In many ways, Videodrome is a cult classic that just never did it for me. I certainly respect the film, but like many of the Cronenberg movies I’ve seen (The Brood being the first that comes to mind), the focus on body horror just doesn’t appeal to me. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that the only Cronenberg movie I actually enjoyed was Shivers, also known as They Come From Within, though of course that may change once I finally get around to watching Rabid or Scanners.

Videodrome is a movie that’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of classic horror or science fiction, and especially if you enjoy off-the-wall movies that make you think. It’s just not something I’ve ever really liked, and as such, have to throw it a below average rating, no matter how much that damns me in the eyes of some.

5.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Videodrome.