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    “STARRY EYES” (SXSW Movie Review)

    Plenty of film will have you believe ambition is sexy. Desperation may reek, but the indefatigable drive forward and up is admirable. STARRY EYES, however ambiguously, seeks to challenge that as directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer cast long and dark shadows over a “nothing to something” Hollywood tale replete with defilement, rot, graphic murder and the occult. Want to achieve something great? Want to show them all? A sacrifice is required. It’s likely your humanity.

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    “HONEYMOON” (SXSW Movie Review)

    “Have you ever killed something?” Bea asks. It’s less an ominous foreshadow—although, there’s plenty of that—and more simply a new wife helping her new husband understand her outdoors-heavy past. When Paul (Harry Treadaway) first arrives at Bea’s (Rose Leslie) family cabin, he’s confronted with the “Bear Room,” that which houses the skin of an enormous black bear, as well as continuous evidence of Bea’s truly handy skills. For the bridegroom, it’s frankly intimidating. When Paul is additionally face-to-face with a summer fling from Bea’s adolescence, a chilling layer of real, very human anxiety forms in Leigh Janiak’s feature debut. Bubbling just underneath the distressing question of, “How well do I know who I married?” is another dreadful prospect: “Am I enough for this stranger?”

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    Fango Flashback: Verhoeven’s “ROBOCOP” (1987)

    Being from the younger generation of today’s cinephiles, there’s a certain pool of veteran filmmakers that I’d love to see deliver one more passion-fueled film before calling it quits. With Hollywood becoming more tentpole-focused however, it’s unlikely to imagine a world where subversive genre filmmakers such as John Carpenter, David Lynch and Paul Verhoeven would get that chance to relive their bloody glory days. Thus is the nature of the business, but still, there’s such an exhilaration from revisiting their work that the absence of new, well-funded films from these filmmakers leaves a hole in the world of imaginative onscreen storytelling. In the case of Paul Verhoeven, who is still working busier than ever outside of the US Hollywood system, that return to the system that brought us classic sci-fi gorefests like TOTAL RECALL, STARSHIP TROOPERS and ROBOCOP always seems to be coasting on the horizon as his films are neutered in mega-budgeted, misguided PG-13 remakes.

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    “RETURN TO NUKE ’EM HIGH VOLUME 1” (Film Review)

    There’s a saying that’s commonly used to negate all consequence of bad behavior in the name of acting upon instinct: “Boys will be boys.” In the world of genre entertainment, that same phrase should be applied to Troma, as Troma has, is and always will be Troma. Transcending limitations of taste and logic, the company has returned to present one of its funniest and craziest films of all time, RETURN TO NUKE ’EM HIGH VOLUME 1.

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    Fango Flashback: “TOTAL RECALL” (1990)

    After making a splash with the ultraviolent sci-fi satire ROBOCOP, it’s not a giant shock that Verhoeven’s next blockbuster venture would be the Philip K. Dick adaptation TOTAL RECALL, which paired the unpredictable director with one of Hollywood’s most reliable action stars, Arnold Schwarzenegger. In a way, the pairing is somewhat perfect, matching two of Hollywood’s most promising imports and vibrant personalities to create a film about a surreal identity crisis. The casting of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a common construction worker stuck in a world of intergalactic espionage and sabotage was bizarre yet appropriate, and as such, he simultaneously delivers one of his most over-the-top performances, while being somewhat restrained and emotionally conflicted. Somehow, Verhoeven strikes gold with Schwarzenegger, who is brave and grateful enough to dive into another one of the director’s living universes, although this time much more alien in nature.

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    “HAUNT” (Movie Review)

    Sometimes, when telling a story about the afterlife, there’s an inherent understanding that plot and character can fall by the wayside in the name of pure, visceral terror. This particular subgenre is one of the oldest and easiest to execute, and thus there’s only so much in the way of originality and personality one can bring to ghost movies—essentially forcing filmmakers to choose style over substance. But if a horror story devotes itself solely to eliciting fear and subverting expectations, how much or easily can one forgive a lack of novelty or inspiration?

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    Stream to Scream: “LAID TO REST”

    As many fright fans already know, FANGORIA offers a great selection of gruesome movies, old and new, for free at our Hulu channel. To give you a better idea of what’s in store, FANGORIA will be taking in-depth looks at some of the channel’s terrifying titles with this newest feature, Stream to Scream. Today: Robert Hall’s LAID TO REST.

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    “THE DEN” (Movie Review)

    The anonymity of the internet is the monster of THE DEN, a new POV/Found Footage title that aims (for at least the first half) to tell its story entirely from a computer screen. Opening with what must be a self-aware cheap jolt, director Zachary Donohue then unfurls a wide spectrum of malicious intent that Elizabeth (and by proxy you) is prey to by simply just being online. Viral pranks, swinging dicks and the harsh invalidation of your existence by someone immediately deciding they don’t want to chat with you give away to true evil, of course. As a film essentially about the horrors that await us online, THE DEN must go big in its cautionary tale and it does, alternately being effectively eerie and stumbling along the way.

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    Bill Zebub’s “INDIE DIRECTOR” (Movie Review)

    For years, this writer had been avoiding the work of enfant terrible filmmaker Bill Zebub for no other reason than they just didn’t speak to me. Zebub’s greasy oeuvre includes such quaintly christened features like ANTFARM DICKHOLE and JESUS, THE TOTAL DOUCHEBAG and I’ve seen enough no-budget junk in my time to be wary of pictures like this: movies that bait their audiences with cheap shock tactics, the cinematic equivalent of the grade school brat in the corner of the class with the cone hat, farting and making faces while the teacher contemplates murder-suicide. Just not my speed. 

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    “ROBOCOP” (2014; Movie Review)

    Well, there goes the review I had written in my head. The new ROBOCOP is not an instant classic like Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 original, but on its own terms—and the fact that it can be judged on its own terms is an accomplishment in itself—it succeeds as a confidently told science-fiction thriller cleverly and intelligently reconceived to reflect modern concerns.

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