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Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014
From hangnails to horrific diseases, infections to amputations and all in between, here are 10 fright flicks that get the biology unbound right.

They say we only truly fear a few specific things: the death of a loved one; our own mortality; speaking in public (?). But buried within these specific phobias lies an equally compelling terror, one that can be summed up in two words: body horror.


For some, it’s losing a limb. For others, it’s an unnatural growth or tumor. Whether it’s chewing on a piece of tin foil or sliding down a banister festooned with razor blades, rotting from the inside out or bouts of gross gangrene, injury to ourselves (or others, to be fair) provides a basic, inherent sense of dread. It’s biology unbound, it’s our own humanity out of control and harmed/harmful.


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Monday, Sep 15, 2014
It's quite a long buildup before we get to know the realities of Bob Saginowski's past. Once delivered, however, it's too little, way too late.

You know it’s going to happen; you’re just not sure when. You can sense the story building up to it. So does the performance, measured out in ever increasing indications of suppressed violence. Still, he’s a decent guy. Soft spoken. Kind to animals. Not afraid to be loyal when necessary, while always happy to point out potential pitfalls in other’s knee-jerk reactions and schemes.


And there’s the inferences, the hints at secrets from the past being concealed and realities no longer discussed. This is Bob Saginowski, bartender at a local Brooklyn dive known as Cousin Marv’s. He is played by Tom Hardy, who is the only reason to give the otherwise ordinary crime thriller The Drop a look. The rest of the movie hopes to use the reputation of its writer to lure in the audience, but it won’t work.


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Monday, Sep 15, 2014
Dolphin Tales is one instance where, despite the famous words of W.C. Fields, working with children and animals actually pays off.

W.C. Fields said it best: “Never work with children or animals.” The legendary comedian, who built his entire commercial reputation on a cranky, curmudgeon persona doused generously in various inebriations, understood implicitly that, once you bring a kid or a critter into the mix, you’re no longer the center of attention. Instead, our worship of youth and nature surpasses any desire to pay attention to an adult, or more mature subject matter.


Brats and beasts are scene stealers, and this is clearly the driving force behind the family film Dolphin Tale 2. Granted, this obvious sequel was spurred on by the success of the original 2011 effort, getting a great deal out mileage (and wholesome entertainment) out of Fields’ admonishments. The movie’s desire to confront the darker aspects of the story’s situation makes it more than just another cynical cash grab.


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Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014
Minnesota Clay is a rocky but nonetheless promising start for legendary director Sergio Corbucci.

It’s hard not to compare Minnesota Clay (1964) to A Fistful of Dollars (1964). Not only were they filmed at the same time, released the same year, and both made by men named Sergio—Sergio Corbucci in the first case and Sergio Leone in the second—but they also used the same source material to tell similar stories. The source material used was Dashiell Hammett’s early hardboiled detective novel, Red Harvest (1929), along with Akira Kurosowa‘s cinematic samurai version of that novel, Yojimbo (1961). The stories told involve marksmen who, after arriving to towns in turmoil due to on-going gang wars, pin one gang against the other to bring gold to their pockets and peace to the citizens.


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Tuesday, Sep 9, 2014
No, David Cronenberg’s Total Recall never made it to the screen. And we are all the poorer for it.

This article is adapted from the book The Sci-Fi Movie Guide (Visible Ink, 2014).


Even were it not for the mental anguish brought about by the revival of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it would be obvious we live in strange times, cinematically speaking. To wit: Every other movie playing in theaters features alien invasions, bionic bodysuit weaponry, time travel, or a half-dozen other elements that make a geeky kid’s heart beat just that much faster. You would think, then, that studios would be dusting off every science-fiction script their D-girls passed on over the past couple decades and working out how to put Matthew McConaughey in it.


But there are still drawers full of unproduced maybe-classics out there just waiting for somebody to give them a couple hundred million bucks and a few movie stars to play with. Here are some of the more legendary never-produced science-fiction films that should be green-lit tomorrow. Before you ask: No; these films would almost definitely not make their money back. But after Cowboys & Aliens, Transformers, and Star Trek Into Darkness Hollywood owes us a few gimmes in exchange for allowing Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman to debase the entire field of cinematic science fiction.


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