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    Q&A: The Skeleton-Fighting Skaters of “V/H/S: VIRAL’s” “Bonestorm”

    Those who would prefer to remain on the good side of starving actor/actress friends struggling and striving toward that elusive big break should never, ever share the story of how skateboarder Chase Newton accidentally became one of the stars of “Bonestorm,” the skateboarders-vs.-Mexican-cultists segment of V/H/S: VIRAL.

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    “V/H/S VIRAL” (Movie Review)

    Any debate scheduled to conclude with fisticuffs in a boxing ring is bound to engender a bit more tension than the average Oxford Union fare, but when Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League and horror director Ti West clashed at Fantastic Fest this past September over the unsubtle-yet-hilarious/apropos proposition “The Found Footage Genre is a Cancer Eating Away the Integrity of Cinema” the point-counterpoint—as foreshadowed by the pair’s brutal pre-confrontation challenge videos—took on a particularly vitriolic, take-no-prisoners vibe. 

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    Q&A: Keanu Reeves enters the “zoo of revenge” as JOHN WICK

    In homage to the film’s eponymous character, let’s dispatch with any namby-pamby vacillations or too-cute flourishes and employ some Bruce Lee-esque economy of motion (and language) here: JOHN WICK is hands down one of the best, most enlivening revenge thrillers to come down the pike in years—a prime-cut of uber-adrenalized, exquisitely realized action filmmaking that not only manages to bridge the gaps between A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, EASTERN PROMISES, the BOURNE franchise, and the glorious insanity of later DEATH WISH flicks, but also achieves a near-perfect balance of pulse-raising, harrowing combat; heart-rending pathos; absurdist fun; primal, righteous—if somewhat reluctant!—vengeance; and, oh yeah, a body count sure to fill the heads of morticians in the audience with visions of retirement to the south of France. 

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    “WYRMWOOD” (Toronto After Dark Review)

    Despite a bleak, bleak, bleak opening sequence—the line “This morning I shot my wife and child with a nail gun” is spoken less than five minutes into the film and we are not spared the gory flashback details—in fairly short order the Australian zombie adventure WYRMWOOD takes a sharp left into deliciously wild, ridiculously hepped-up pastures, exuding a sinister buoyancy and spirit that resembles less a sui generis stand alone film than, say, the second or third entry in a franchise wherein filmmakers striving for freshness are willing (forced?) to indulge the more absurdist, outlandish elements of the horror palette—think BEYOND THUNDERDOME meets DREAM WARRIORS meets DEAD BY DAWN not MAD MAX meets NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET meets EVIL DEAD. 

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    “LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU” (Movie Review)

    Riding high on the wave of unforeseen success created by his arty 1990 dystopian flick HARDWARE, Richard Stanley turned next to a passion project adaptation of H.G. Wells’ THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU—which, after years of expending chutzpah and actualizing willpower, the South Africa-born writer-director somehow manages to get his provocative, imaginative take on the story green-lit by New Line with Marlon Brando installed in the lead role… 

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    “CLOSER TO GOD” (Fantastic Fest Review)

    Out here in the real world, the marriage of medical inquiry to ever-evolving technology has eradicated plagues, advanced life expectancy dramatically, and provided a good deal of the planet’s inhabitants with a standard (and quality) of living that has vastly expanded our ability to pursue individual dreams and aspirations in ways those who previously trudged through human history could not even begin to fathom. (On this point, see Matt Ridley’s epic 2011 tour de force, THE RATIONAL OPTIMIST.) There are, of course, tragic and deeply disturbing examples of vile excess in the pursuit of a purported common good—the Tuskegee experiment, MKUltra, Project 4.1, profoundly immoral and heinous animal experimentation, the Burke and Hare murders—but, generally speaking, the benefits that have redounded to we the living via our collective (and overwhelmingly non-psychotic!) march of progress are, in context, nearly as fantastical as they are miraculous. 

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    “THE INCIDENT (EL INCIDENTE)” (Fantastic Fest Review)

    “I wrote this film to conjure up my own fear of dying,” Ingmar Bergman once said of THE SEVENTH SEAL, his peerless exploration of mortality, faith, and the towering, immutable mysteries of existence—and by the time we reach the revelatory final third of the harrowing and profound Mexican mindbender THE INCIDENT, wherein the philosophical speculations and meditations hinted at throughout seemingly separate parallel stories at last intertwine into an disquieting (yet strangely uplifting) denouement, it is difficult to believe director Isaac Ezban did not have a similar goal in mind.

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