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    “GRAND PIANO” (Fantastic Fest Movie Review)

    It is not rare to find a director appropriating, or recalling, the stylistic flair of Alfred Hitchcock, Brian De Palma or Dario Argento. Just at Fantastic Fest alone, we’ve encountered director Mark Hartley employing a great deal of split diopter throughout his remake of 1978’s PATRICK. What is rare, however, is to find such influence utilized in clever, thematically appropriate and more breathtaking than endearing manner. As you may expect, this is leading to the arrival of such a film: Eugenio Mira’s GRAND PIANO, an utter joy of high concept, artfully composed and absolutely thrilling pure cinema.

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    “WITCHING & BITCHING” (Fantastic Fest Movie Review)

    Álex de la Iglesia’s last towering horror effort, THE LAST CIRCUS, was an intensely grim (but not entirely devoid of humor), wildly bizarre look at a country he loves and the struggles that threaten to tear it apart. Being the masterful genre filmmaker he is, WITCHING & BITCHING similarly has a fair share on its mind, but on the flipside is a giddy, delightful supernatural romp, probing the way men and women treat each other.

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    “BATES MOTEL” Season One (Blu-ray Review)

    TWIN PEAKS fans rejoice, for with the hit A&E show BATES MOTEL you now have the almost-as-oddball town of White Pine Bay to explore. With its mountainous backdrop, foggy rain-filled days and a populace full of mysterious folk that all seem just a little… off, the show is in many ways the logical network TV successor to David Lynch’s cult favorite.

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    “SEPTIC MAN” (Fantastic Fest Movie Review)

    Can something with as outlandish a plot as SEPTIC MAN—one seemingly conceived in Tromaville—make an attempt at being meditative?  I’d argue yes, of course. It’s an artist’s prerogative how they’d like to present their story, and if writer Tony Burgess and director Jesse Thomas Cook saw something mellow, or melancholy, in a man covered in shit, it’s up to the audience to tune in to their fecal frequency. Does a subsequent distaste then seem worse, however, if their unexpected take misses the mark? It may be more ambitious, but is it somehow more trying than if they simply filmed a wannabe cult retread? Absolutely.

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    “PATRICK” (Fantastic Fest Movie Review)

    The suspenseful opening sequence of Mark Hartley’s narrative debut, PATRICK, deals in a time honored thriller trope. A nurse, dangerously sneaking through pitch black halls and seemingly aiming to uncover something secret, uses her camera flash to help her see. It’s a device that’s perhaps most iconic in Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW, but has been utilized in countless films since. It’s certainly not employed to poor effect here, and once the opening titles reveal a score from Pino Donaggio and the film itself is decorated by gothic interiors (not dissimilar from the medical estate in Aussie great NEXT OF KIN) and vintage nurse uniforms, it’s immediately endearing what the filmmaker is striving toward.

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    “THE COLONY” (Movie Review)

    THE COLONY should, first and foremost, make the vast majority of its audience feel much better about their own lives and choices. Sure, we’ve all made mistakes, some worse than others, but one presumes vanishingly few of us have ever committed a faux pas on par with designing and building “weather modification towers” to combat global warming and—whoops!—accidentally plunging the world into an era of permafrost and endless snow blindness. 

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    “THE FLY” (1958) (Blu-ray Review)

    It’s almost impossible to believe if you’re a younger horror fan, but Vincent Price was not yet a horror icon when he appeared in a supporting role in 1958′s THE FLY. His only big horror role prior to this was in HOUSE OF WAX.  But if you’re unaware of its placement in his filmography, and someone tells you that Price was in THE FLY, you’d probably assume he’s the unfortunate sod that has to walk around with a fly head for the second half of the movie, only to be disappointed that he’s the brother that sits all of the monster action out.  It wasn’t until a bit later, when he did a couple pictures for William Castle and then began his long association with AIP, that he became one of our most iconic genre stars, the likes of which we may sadly never have again.

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    “BLUE RUIN” (TIFF Movie Review)

    It’s been a long six years since BLUE RUIN director Jeremy Saulnier graced the pages of FANGORIA (virtual or otherwise); back in 2007 his riotous horror comedy MURDER PARTY was a hit among the FANGO enclave, starring Macon Blair as a nerdy loner whose invitation to a Halloween “Murder Party” turns out to be more literal than expected. In the interim Saulnier’s made a name for himself as a cinematographer, most notably for the dreamy dramas of Matthew Porterfield (PUTTY HILL), and now he returns to the director’s seat, with frequent collaborator Macon Blair turning in a transfixing performance as BLUE RUIN’s damaged lead, Dwight.

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    “SPARTACUS: WAR OF THE DAMNED” (Blu-ray Review)

    All great things must eventually fade into darkness – even if we long for more.

    However, sometimes our favorite things end on a high note, and SPARTACUS: WAR OF THE DAMNED does just that. Season three is the epic and inevitable end. After two successful seasons and a six-part mini-prequel, the Sam Raimi-produced Starz original series sadly reaches the cataclysmic climax, as we knew it would – but does it have to?  With the timely WAR OF THE DAMNED three disc Blu-ray and DVD release that hit shelves on September 3rd, the answer is a hands-down NO!

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