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    Joe Dante’s “THE BURBS” (Arrow Blu Review)

    Joe Dante hit the cultural zeitgeist hard with GREMLINS, delivering a knowing horror comedy for kids at the peak of an era in which children were swallowing up genre VHS rentals at a record pace. The film was such a hit that it afforded Dante about a decade of Hollywood freedom to make strange, self-conscious, genre-bending comedies like THE EXPLORERS, INNERSPACE, MATINEE and GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH. None of them were particularly successful as Dante’s sensibility was always too dark, sardonic, and knowing for massive crossover success beyond that inexplicable Christmas monster movie hit. However, the man’s entire canon from the period has gone on to become cult classics and one in particular seems to only grow in popularity.

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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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    “ASMODEXIA” (Movie Review)

    There have been so many exorcism movies by now, especially in the last decade, that it almost seems beside the point to complain about them. Better to seek out the more interesting variations on the well-traveled form, one of which is Marc Carreté’s ASMODEXIA.

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    “PIECES OF TALENT” (Movie Review)

    There has been much buzz around the more uncouth corners of the Internet about Joe Stauffer’s über-bloody, self-distributed indie PIECES OF TALENT—and if this writer may be blunt, I was not terribly optimistic about it. For one, the title seemed a bit tone-deaf and clunky, and the concept—goonish serial killer kidnaps, tortures, films and murders folks to make his masterpiece—was not my cup of crimson.

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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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    “SONNO PROFONDO” (Movie Review)

    The following might very well be the shortest review you’ll read here at Fango this month. It’s not because SONNO PROFONDO (DEEP SLEEP) — a new Argentinian psychodrama from writer, composer, photographer and director Luciano Onetti — is a bad movie. It’s not. It’s actually not a movie at all really, in the traditional sense anyway.

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    “IT FOLLOWS” (Fantastic Fest Review)

    The concept that drives writer/director David Robert Mitchell’s unnerving horror film IT FOLLOWS is obvious in its allegory and certainly, the idea of evil VD has been mined since David Cronenberg literally spat out his sex parasites in 1975’s THE CAME FROM WITHIN (aka SHIVERS). Here, in IT FOLLOWS, it’s not the metaphorical frissons that affect the viewer, rather it is the economical ways in which its director uses sound, silences and framing to seep under the audience’s skin. And believe us, IT FOLLOWS, much like the spectral STD it introduces, leaves an unshakable residue long after withdrawal.

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    “NO GOOD DEED” (Movie Review)

    Last week, at practically the last minute, Sony/Screen Gems cancelled press screenings of NO GOOD DEED, leaving critics to trek to theaters to see it. The ostensible reason was to protect the movie’s final-act surprise (which isn’t much), rather than the movie itself (which is even less).

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    “THE GUEST” (TIFF Movie Review)

    Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s THE GUEST qualifies as horror for lack of any other easy genre classification (well, aside from a delightfully cheeky Halloween themed climax). The duo have delivered a project that mixes their trademark dark humor and hyper cineliteracy with elements of 80s horror, thrillers, and action flicks, topped off with a light dusting of John Carpenter. It’s a movie that Cannon Films would have been proud to slap their logo across during the neon decade and yet it also feels contemporary. The film strives for nothing more than pure, unadulterated, unapologetic entertainment and so delivers on that promise, you can’t help but sit back and smile.

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