Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
America, as a collective nation, got pretty burnt out on Japanese horror in the early 2000s. Thanks to the constant stream of remakes like The Ring, The Grudge, etc., we all had our fill of creepy, pale women unleashing demonic curses of madness upon whomever was within earshot. But, as they say, time heals all wounds, and it is possible to at least go back to the source and view, with an open mind, at least classic Asian genre output. 2005’s Gurozuka, recently released by Synapse Films, is at times disjointed and messy, but it only adds to the aura of dreamlike insanity as a group of girls, spending a weekend at an isolated house, watch an old student film depicting a woman in a “deigan” mask bludgeoning another. Is it real? Is it fake? As the woman returns, the movie takes an incredibly chilling, downright disturbing turn, leaving us to figure out just what is going on. This unsettling movie has yet to be remade, and I hope we keep it that way.
If I had to describe the Argentinian thriller Cold Sweat in one word, it would be “explosive.” And I mean that both literally and figuratively. Smart, taut and above all, inventive, Sweat opens with a little history lesson about a terrorist group who stole a ton of TNT in the ’70s, most of which was never recovered. That’s scary enough, but flash-forward to the present day, where best friends Roman and Ali are about to bust Roman’s girlfriend for cheating on him. What they stumble onto, however, is far more earth-shattering: two deranged elderly former political radicals who post fake Internet profiles, kidnap the responders, and experiment with highly volatile nitroglycerin on them. As Roman lurks around the house, his nitro-covered ex in tow, prepare to have your nerves suitably wracked. Presenting the scariest boogeymen to come along in years, Cold Sweat is a freakishly tense masterpiece that is a clever, demented and wholly original take on classic slasher tropes.
In 2011, I reviewed close to 10 movies starring Ray Liotta here in the CineFiles. So, in 2012, the movie that should star Ray Liotta, the very one that I’m flabbergasted that he’s not in, is the police thriller Sinners and Saints. Oh, it’s got Costas Mandylor, Jurgen Prochnow, Method Man and Tom Berenger, but no Ray Liotta. Instead, we have the emotionless, square-jawed Johnny Strong as a tough NOLA cop investigating a string of gangland immolations. Partnered with a by-the-book family man, the salt-n-pepper duo declares war on the city’s criminals, all of whom seem to be carrying high-powered machine guns at all times. Sure, it’s pure machismo heroic male-fantasy bullshit, but in action films, that’s never really a bad thing. Sinners and Saints really isn’t a bad thing. It’s a perfect straight-to-DVD popcorn flick that’s filled with bullets, bombs and balls — the perfect antidote to the lack of action in theaters right now.