Movies I’ve Seen During the Pandemic, Part I

There’s no theme here. These are just what I’ve watched over the past month or so. All star ratings are out of four. More to come!

Altered (R, 2006, **). 15 years ago a group of five friends had an encounter with an extra-terrestrial. Four returned. One shut himself away from the world, and the other three hunted for the aliens. Now they’ve found one. The effects in this film are very good, particularly the alien beings, even if the plot isn’t all that complex. The acting could have used some fine tuning. Directed by Eduardo Sanchez, one of the brains behind The Blair Witch Project.

The Beyond (R, 1981, **). Another one of those gateway-to-Hell movies. In this case, a young woman has inherited a dilapidated hotel in Louisiana, and guess what it’s built over? A good example of the giallo genre from one of its masters, Lucio Fulci, the movie is high on visuals, low on story and acting. And whoever heard of basements in Louisiana?

Daughters of Darkness (R, 1971, **). This French-language film is about the notorious Elizabeth Bathory. You know, the one who killed thousands of young women and drank their blood? Here, Delphine Seyrig plays the Countess; with her companion Ilona by her side, they set their sights on newlywed couple Stefan and Valerie while they’re all holed up at a resort hotel. It’s not a great movie, by any means, and the only reason to watch it is for Seyrig’s commanding performance as the Countess. Nice atmosphere, dull plot.

Ex Drummer (R, 2007, ***). This is a Belgian film (in Dutch and Flemish, with English subtitles) about a famous writer who’s asked to join a band of misfits as their drummer, despite the fact (or because of) that he cannot play drums. But our new drummer has an ulterior motive – he instantly plays the members against each other and even incites some family feuds. This is a movie rife with coarse language, bloody situations, and a lot of very, very dark themes, so it’s not for everyone. But in its own way, it’s sort of a masterpiece.

Frozen II (PG, 2019, ***). I mean, if you liked the first one, you will definitely like the second one. In many ways, it’s more of the same, although the songs aren’t quite as memorable. Great voice cast, clever script, fine animation. The rock trolls get me every time. Unlike many Disney sequels, this one holds up rather well. And no, you probably don’t need to have seen the first one, but let’s face it – if you are interested in this one, you’ve probably seen Frozen. Along with most of the other Disney Animated Classics.

God Told Me To (R, 1976, **1/2). From cult director Larry Cohen. Tony Lo Bianco plays a religious detective in NYC investigating a series of murders committed by people who claim that God told them to start a-killin’. Like most Cohen movies, it’s an acquired taste. The second half shifts from a cop movie well into a sci-fi film with religious overtones, and it might even be a little too literal, not leaving enough to the imagination. Still, it’s a different kind of film.

The Lords of Salem (R, 2012, **1/2). This Rob Zombie film is about a DJ (Sheri Moon Zombie) who receives a record album from “The Lords” – it’s a slow, very heavy, very trance-like song that evokes images of Salem, Massachusetts’ sordid past of witch burning and such and somehow ties the DJ herself to a long-ago curse placed by an accused witch on the town. Meg Foster has an eerie presence as the head witch. Also stars Bruce Davison, Dee Wallace, Maria Conchita Alonso, and Rocky Horror’s Patricia Quinn! How much you’ll like it probably depends on your tolerance for Zombie’s excesses.






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