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Devil

Director: John Erick Dowdle
Cast: Chris Messina, Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O’Hara, Geoffrey Arend

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Devil
Universal


First, you’ve got to get past the production credit. The name “M. Night Shyamalan” is like creative kryptonite in 2010, synonymous with unadulterated crap like The Happening, Lady in the Water, and his latest motion picture affront, The Last Airbender. So, rest assured that all he had to do with this otherwise intriguing thriller was craft the story and pay the bills. He left the actual scriptwriting and directing to others… and it shows. As a simple tale of four people trapped in an elevator—and the suicide/crime scene surrounding their involvement—the narrative is a tad too pat… Signs pat. But John Erick Dowdle does such a good job of setting up suspense and delivering payoffs that we ignore the cosmic coincidences and settle in for some decent scares. Luckily, this Devil delivers. Bill Gibron


 

 



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Robo-Geisha

Director: Noboru Iguchi
Cast: Aya Kiguchi, Hitomi Hasebe, Takumi Saito, Taro Shigaki, Etsuko Ikuta, Suzuki Matsuo, Naoto Takenaka

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Robo-Geisha
Funimation Entertainment


You generally don’t win Academy Awards for movies which feature lines like “She has a machine gun in her ass!”, but there are other rewards, like creating the funniest midnight movie ever. The plot: a crooked industrialist kidnaps geishas and surgically transforms them into robotic assassins as part of his plan to destroy Japanese national identity by blowing up Mount Fuji. If you’re still with me you’ll probably appreciate Robo-Geisha, a film which has too much of everything including blood splatter, hysterically bad dialogue, even worse dubbing, and action scenes which achieve new heights (or sink to new depths) of absurdity. It’s all presented in a perfectly timed succession of gags by director Noboru Iguchi who keeps you laughing so hard you barely have a chance to breathe. Sarah Boslaugh


 

 



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Jackass 3D

Director: Jeff Tremaine
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Chris Pontius, Steve-O, Ryan Dunn, Dave England, Jason “Wee Man” Acuña, Preston Lacy, Ehren McGhehey

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Jackass 3D
Paramount


Maybe it’s the four years between installments. Perhaps the wealth of imitators, both professional and pimping themselves on the Web, have romanticized the original’s raunchy “talents”. It could be the inherent humor—no matter how juvenile and sophomoric—of watching grown men risk life, limb, and reputation in the service of some very salacious slapstick. With the new gimmick patina of 3D pushing the prurience right up and into our faces, Johnny Knoxville and his merry band of idiots reminded us that some brands of baser wit never go completely out of style. While we may feel horrible for laughing so hard, the key is that we are laughing. And since they are having such a seemingly good time, we can’t help but join in on the jaundiced festivities. Bill Gibron


 

 



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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Director: Jalmari Helander
Cast: Tommi Korpela, Per Christian Ellefsen, Ville Virtanen, Jorma Tommila, Jonathan Hutchings, Onni Tommila

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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Oscilloscope Laboratories


Rare Exports is the best unholy Christmas creation ever. It’s the perfect combination of old world superstition and new age satire. Buried in between the animal carcasses, musty slaughterhouses, and Spartan living condition is still a child’s vivid imagination, only this time, the visions aren’t of candy and kindness, but of a horned demon with elf-like minions that may or may not resemble anorexic old men. Rare Exports wants to argue that the real meaning of Santa was always as an underage cautionary tale, a coal in the stocking vs. presents by the fire kind of behavioral modification. In this case, the wee ones don’t just need to be “good for goodness’s” sake, but a shout-out to God (or any other benevolent deity) might help the Hellish cause as well. Bill Gibron


 

 



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Machete

Director: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Danny Trejo, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Lindsay Lohan, Don Johnson, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro

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Machete
20th Century Fox


Machete first appeared on the big screen during Easter weekend 2007. The trailer, based on Robert Rodriguez’s script (and star vehicle for Danny Trejo),was one of several sideline gags accompanyingPlanet Terror and Death Proof. Yet somehow, those few minutes of Machete seemed more grindhouse than Grindhouse. Emerging as a feature in fall 2010 with star Trejo and trashy aesthetic intact, the vigilante tale is essentially a checklist of guilty pleasures. A strung-out Lindsay Lohan dons a habit. Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez enforce justice with the power of limitless sex appeal. Jeff Fahey delivers his lines with a preternatural awareness of how a B-movie actor should speak. Gory set pieces punctuate the plot and occasionally illustrate heretofore cinematically unexplored functions of human anatomy. Presiding over all of this is genre film powerhouse Trejo—long in the wings and now a star. Trejo’s face is neither fresh nor new, but it is without a doubt that of an avenging action hero. Thomas Britt


 
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