by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here on the IndyBlog.
Directed by Hollywood veteran Ted (Magnum Force) Post, for years The Baby has had the reputation of being one of the most bizarre films to be released to the 1970s mainstream movie-going public. But by today’s standards, that supposed sleaze feels washed-over by a total aura of disturbing depression. A gutter-throated suburban mother (and her two equally low-class daughters) are investigated by a well-meaning welfare agent regarding the mom’s son, a mentally handicapped grown man named Baby because, well, he’s stuck in a permanent state of infancy. He sleeps in a crib, eats baby food and crawls all over the place, but questions and tensions arise when the social worker tries to make mental progress with him. This should be a ’70s grindhouse oddity, but its TV-movie-of-the-week portrayal of child abuse is a bit too much to take, taking any fun out of the thing and just making the viewer sad.
In 1980s Britain, after psychologists and lawmakers noticed a link between movie violence and real-life violence, the government cracked down on so-called “video nasties”, aka horror films, banning just about everything they could get their hands on in an effort to protect the fragile populace. In the Fowler household, my mother instituted a similar ban, refusing to allow my brother and I to watch similar movies. It failed, because we would just rent them and watch them at friends’ houses. With Bloody Birthday however, I see where she was coming from: Three homicidal 10-year-olds, all born under an eclipse, go on a killing spree, shooting guns and arrows, brandishing baseball bats, using jump-ropes as garrotes … this is some violent shit for a kid to be watching. And, because of that taboo, maybe that’s why it’s still the best slasher flick I’ve ever seen. I kinda wish it was banned right now, just for the extra thrill.
Nicolas Cage is America’s bravest actor. Sure, scoff if you want, but this guy continues to pick film roles that other actors are afraid to, delivering stirring, deliberately eccentric performances. His latest movie is the Crusades-era supernatural adventure Season of the Witch. He’s a knight in service to the Church who, after killing one too many innocents, deserts with partner Ron Perlman in an effort to find some redemption. It comes when a plague-devoured village forces them to transport a woman, accused of being a witch, to a remote monastery. As with any medieval sojourn, the journey is filled with killer wolves and broken bridges, sword fights and witchery-do. Throw in a totally unexpected twist ending that just makes the movie even more awesome, and you’ve got one of the best RedBox rentals of the year.