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Monday, Aug 18, 2014
Was online "availability" and a anti-hard "R" stance the real reasons this third film in the action franchise failed?

As the final tallies were coming in and the titles were being ranked, tongues all over Tinseltown were in full blown wagging mode over the news that the latest installment in Sylvester Stallone’s post-millennial career reboot, The Expendables, had wound up in a very disappointing fourth place.


Not first. That still belongs to those horrid Michael Bay produced Ninja Turtles. Not second, as the great Guardians of the Galaxy holds that spot. Not even third, with the poorly timed Let’s Be Cops defying the situation in Ferguson, Missouri to rustle up enough ticket sales to take said position.


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Monday, Aug 18, 2014
If Cook and Burgess are setting us up for a continuing series of mutant monster superhero takedowns, this movie is a decent start.

Splatter is often the sad step-child of horror. When done correctly, or within context, it’s beloved if bloody. Very bloody. It can even be used to bring a bit of humor into your otherwise aggressive arterial spray (isn’t that right, Sam Raimi and Lloyd Kaufman?). Septic Man falls into the former category, taking a surprisingly serious tone over something that should be salacious and scatological.


Indeed, the movie revolves around a sanitation worker who gets trapped in a toxic underground sewer and suddenly transforms into a hideous combination of feces and filth. There’s also a subtext of possible pandemic, maybe-imaginary creatures, good vs. evil, hero vs. villain, and perhaps the most idealized view of virulence ever put on film.


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Friday, Aug 15, 2014
What The Expendables 3 lacks is the kind of exuberant pizzazz which made these particular performers ripe for rediscovery in the first place.

By now it should be abundantly clear that Sylvester Stallone “gets” action. He understands the dynamic involved in a major league blowout stunt spectacle. He’s a wizard when it comes to staging, acts each carefully choreographed beat with the necessary amount of machismo and, when given the opportunity (and the MPAA rating) is not shy to showcase enough splatter to make a million gorehounds happy.


Granted, for this third installment in the exceedingly goofy Expendables franchise, Sly isn’t sitting behind the lens. His handpicked protégé, in this case, Red Hill director Patrick Hughes, is, however, and the results constantly remind the viewer of the iconic ‘80s b-pictures that made the cast nostalgia laced currency. While not fully invested in the direct to video past, there’s enough low rent ridiculousness here to make even the most cynical action fan smile.


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Thursday, Aug 14, 2014
This week in our ongoing field guide to '50s horror and sci-fi movies and the creatures that inhabit them: those crazy kids save the world from marauding grape jelly in The Blob.

Alternative titles: Steve McQueen’s Blaze of Glory; The Young and the Boneless


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Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014
Before film audiences got A Fistful of Dollars, they got their first taste of the Spaghetti Western in 1961 with the release of The Savage Guns.

A Spaghetti Western is a title that generally refers to any Italian produced and directed western from the ‘60s and ‘70s that has post-synched audio due to a multilingual cast of Spaniards, Germans, and up-and-coming or has-been American actors, in addition to Italians. Because they were often low-budget productions, directors shot them at locations in Europe—usually southern Spain or Italy—that resemble the American Southwest. At first, like all Euro Westerns, they sought to reproduce the characters and places from the traditional westerns that Hollywood had long used as vehicles for box-office juggernauts like John Wayne. But because of the artistic and political sensibilities of their Italian filmmakers, even the earliest Spaghetti Westerns oozed with a style and substance that was far removed from any Hollywood western.  


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