All posts by Jamal Bashir

Hidden Horror Gems: StageFright

StageFright(1987)

Directed by Michele Soavi

Starring David Brandon,  Barabara Cupisti, Domenico Fiore

I discovered this movie Stagefright after watching a countdown of Giallo films, and I’m glad that I saw this one. At first, I thought it was going to be another typical slasher, but I was surprised at how engaging this movie was.

Here’s the basic premise without giving away any spoilers: An actor with a mental condition escapes an asylum and goes into a theater where a group of actors are rehearsing for a musical production.

A lot of ingredients made this film a must-see. I was impressed by the engaging story, excellent performances, soundtrack, the decent kills, and the gripping tension. If you are looking for a slasher that does not have the usual tropes, Stagefright comes highly recommended. My score(8.5-Add to your collection)

Looking Back: Hollow Man(2000)

Hollow Man(2000)

Directed by Paul Verhoeven

Starring Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, Joey Slotnick,  Mary Randle, Kim Dickens, Greg Grunberg, Willian Devane, and Rhona Mitra.

I watched Hollow Man  for the first time in over a decade, and I have to say that this movie is still impressive. What would you do if you couldn’t be seen? That is the question this movie explores. It also asks you to imagine the idea of gaining a new power, and then deciding on how to use it, for good or for evil.   Not to start comparing, but this film effectively examines the theme of invisibility more than The Invisible Man(2020), in my opinion.

For those of you who are not familiar with the plot, here is the basic premise: A research scientist decides to makes himself invisible, but his new ability produces some unfortunate results.

There’s a lot that can be said about Hollow Man, but this review may turn into a term paper, lol. However, you can not deny that the mix of sci-fi and horror, and the top-notch performances, particularly Kevin Bacon’s role as the main research scientist, gave the viewer some thoughts on the dynamics of invisibility and its effects on individuals and the larger society.

If you haven’t seen this film, you should definitely watch it and add it to your collection. My score: 9/10(Add to your library)

Looking Back: Sorority Row

Sorority Row(2009)

Directed by Stewart Hendler

Starring Brianna Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung, Audrina Page, Julian Morris, Margo Harshman, Matt Lanter, and Carrie Fisher

I just watched Sorority Row the other night again, and I have to say that this slasher is enjoyable. How else can I describe this movie? It has a great cast, the engaging story has a nice whodunit element, and the kills are very creative. If you haven’t seen this House on Sorority Row remake, I’d highly recommend checking this one out and adding it to your collection. My score: 8.5/10(Add to your collection)

A Tale of Revenge: The Rhythm Section

The Rhythm Section(2020)       Directed by Reed Morano

Starring Blake Lively, Jude Law, and Sterling K. Brown

Usually revenge movies have the same type of plot: A character’s friend or loved one is murdered, and he or she surprisingly has all of the skills necessary to get rid of every person responsible. The Rhythm Section has the same type of synopsis. However, it explores the idea of your average person, named Stephanie, who tries to take revenge on those responsible for killing her family.

The Rhythm Section is a very slow-paced thriller, just to warn you. The plot is straightforward and it doesn’t get interrupted with a lot of subplots, which is a plus. The viewer is invited to see how a regular person with no skills is trained to be an assassin in order to avenge the death of her loved ones. However, this film has very little action, and in my opinion, I wish it had more.

All in all, if you’re in the mood for a  different take on the revenge thriller, The Rhythm Section is an intriguing film to check out. I will recommend renting this before you decide to add it to your collection. My score-7/10. (Weekend rental, then make a decision to buy).

Taking a Second Look: The Howling

 

The Howling(1981)

Directed by Joe Dante

Starring Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Christopher Stone, Dennis Dugan, Belinda Balaski, and Robert Picardo

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen The Howling, so I decided to watch it again to see if my opinions have changed. However, after giving it a second look, I have to say that I surprisingly still enjoyed it.

This movie is a well-written werewolf horror story. Not only is the story engaging, it is an interesting commentary on the dynamics of civilized behavior vs animal behavior. Which behavior is more natural? How do you balance the two? Should you repress one type, and if you do, which one should you repress? The Howling, in my opinion, brings these types of questions to mind.

Not only do you get the thought-provoking questions, you also get some good scares and some decent practical effects.

So if you haven’t watched a werewolf movie in awhile, The Howling comes highly recommended. My score: 8.5/10(purchase worthy)

Underrated Gem to Watch: Rabid (2019)

Rabid (2019)

Directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska

Starring Laura Vandervoort, Hanneke Talbot, Ben Hollingsworth, and Ted Atherton

I just saw the remake of Rabid(2019), and this movie left a lasting impression on me. This is a very well-written “zombie-like outbreak” movie!

Not to give away any spoilers, but the basic premise involves a woman who is badly scarred from an accident. Unable to pay for the surgery, she goes to a clinic to be a subject of a regenerative therapy experiment. Unfortunately, the experiment produces some unexpected results.

Rabid has some great acting, good tension, an engaging story, and some good practical effects. There is a part of me that wished that it had more graphic kills, but overall, this film definitely held my attention. And let’s not forget Rabid’s surprise-twist ending..it makes you wonder if there would be a sequel.

Overall, this comes highly recommended if you’re a fan of zombie-like horror films. Add this one to your collection.   My score: 8/10 (purchase-worthy)

Taking a Second Look: The Cell(2000)

The Cell(2000)

Directed by Tarsem Singh

Starring Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, and Vincent D’Onofrio

I’ve seen The Cell for the first time in about 20 years and I am still quite impressed with it. What makes this movie interesting is how it explores the subconscious of the human mind.

The Cell is about a social worker named Kathryn who, via technology, goes into the imaginations of her patients to help them with their inner turmoil. The FBI, aware of her expertise, asks her to go into the mind of a comatose serial killer named Carl in order to find his latest victim.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but what made this film impressive was the story, characters, and in particular, the special effects.  The visual effects were used very effectively in giving us a real sense of Carl’s mental state. They were also used very successfully to show how we visualize who we are, and as a result, internalize it.

If you’re in the mood for a good psychological thriller/horror movie with a bit of sci-fi, The Cell comes highly recommended. My score: 8/10(purchase-worthy).

A Look Back: The Exorcist

The Exorcist(1973)

Directed by William Friedkin

Starring Jason Miller, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow, and Lee J. Cobb

I’ve finally checked out The Exorcist for the first time, and I feel that if you want to see a well-written horror movie, this comes highly recommended.

I think everyone is familiar with the basic premise, but it’s basically about a mother who enlists the aid of a priest to exorcise(no pun intended) the demons who possessed her daughter.

This movie has a well-paced story, great acting, and an ending with an unexpected twist. All of the performances were well done, and I felt that Linda Blair’s performance was particularly impressive. Her role as the possessed young girl truly conveyed an eerie, creepy, and at times, brutal feeling. The overall story kept me engaged, and the special effects were top-notch. Also, I’m glad that the filmmakers did not resort to a neat, clean, and happy ending. Instead, we were given ending scenes so shocking and unexpected that I’m curious about the sequel.

There is a lot that can be said about The Exorcist, but I will say that if you haven’t seen this one, check it out if you’re interested in a great horror experience. My score: 9.5/10(Purchase level)

Looking Back: The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys(1987) 

Directed by Joel Schumacher

Starring Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman,  Corey Haim,  Jason Patric, and Jami Gertz

(WARNING! May contain a spoiler) I haven’t seen The Lost Boys(1987) in a long time. It was on my mind a few days ago, so I decided to watch it again. I have to say that this great coming-of- age vampire movie still stands the test of time, with very few elements that are dated.   Also, let’s not forget the soundtrack, which enhances the movie’s supernatural theme.   If you’re not familiar with this one, the story centers on Michael and Sam, who, along with their mother, relocate to Santa Clara, a coastal town that’s a haven for night creatures.

The Lost Boys is well written, engaging, and has great actors who gives some good performances. If you’re interested in a horror film with a unique take on vampirism, add this one to your collection. My score 8.5/10

Underrated Slasher Gems: Offspring

Offspring(2009)

Starring Pollyanna McIntosh, Amy Hargreaves, Art Hindle, Erick Kastel, and Spencer List

I checked out Offspring, and I have to commend the filmmakers for tackling such a provocative subject.   Not to give any spoilers, but this film is the first in a trilogy that centers on a group of cannibal-feral people who come into contact with the modern community.   With this “exchange” comes a horrific and brutal battle between the “primitive” and the “civilized.” I admit that I wish Offspring gave more of a backstory of the feral people, but it didn’t take away from the fact that this film provided an intense horror experience.   Add this one, along with The Woman and Darlin,’ to your collection.   My score: 9/10.