Saturday, April 30, 2022

April Quick Picks and Pans

The Last Wave Poster

The Last Wave (1977) Peter Weir’s enigmatic follow-up to Picnic at Hanging Rock is almost a spiritual sequel to its cryptic predecessor, raising many questions but providing few answers. David Burton (Richard Chamberlin), a Sydney lawyer, defends a group of aboriginal men accused of murder. While the group’s nominal leader, Chris Lee (David Gulpilil), is Burton’s link to the truth, he only offers answers in riddles that ultimately lead to cataclysmic dream visions. Weir’s deliberately paced film doesn’t spoon-feed explanations. Instead, it requires our patience, as we’re left to make sense of it all. Mesmerizing.    

Rating: ****. Available on Blu-ray and DVD 

The Juniper Tree Poster

The Juniper Tree (1990) Writer/director Nietzchka Keene’s bleak, lyrical film (based on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm), set sometime in Iceland’s early history, exploits the Nordic country’s stark landscape with stunning black and white cinematography. Björk stars as Margit, the younger sister of Katla (Bryndis Petra Bragadóttir). Katla marries Jóhann (Valdimar Örn Flygenring), a still-grieving widower, much to the indignation of his petulant son, and things only get worse from there. The Juniper Tree entrances and beguiles, depicting a world where witchcraft and nature entwine. 

Rating: ***½. Available on Blu-ray, DVD and Kanopy

Stacy Poster

Stacy (aka: Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies) (2001) A worldwide pandemic affecting 15- to 17-year-old girls transforms them into mindless, flesh-eating zombies (the movie’s title references the slang term for the animated corpses). Director Naoyuki Tomomatsu’s low-budget horror/comedy (based on a novel by Kenji Ôtsuki) is scattershot in its approach, but manages to provide some commentary about isolation and human connection in modern society. Despite the cheap shot-on-video production values, the gory practical effects are surprisingly good. There are also some fun references to other zombie films, notably the paramilitary organization RRK (Romero Repeat Kill) Corps, and designer chainsaws called “Bruce Campbell’s Right Hand.” 

Rating: ***. Available on DVD

Winterbeast Poster

Winterbeast (1992) A Massachusetts park ranger (Mike Magri) investigates the disappearance of several people in his jurisdiction. Signs point to a Native American curse and a deranged resort owner. All sorts of demons, who seem to be from a different flick altogether, unleash their vengeance. Writer/director Christopher Thies’ indescribable mess, cobbled together from different footage over a span of several years, features amateurish performances, sub-par stop-motion animation, and bad rubber makeup effects. Yet despite all its deficits, it’s never boring (always a plus in my book), and the rough edges only make it more endearing. If you’re looking for a selection for bad movie night, look no further. 

Rating: ***. Available on Blu-ray (included in Home Grown Horrors Volume I), DVD (as a double feature with Nudist Colony of the Dead) and Shudder 


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

A Few Brief Blog Announcements

David Cronenberg - The Dead Zone

Whew! What a year. What? It’s only April? How can that be? It’s been quite an eventful time, so far, and its only bound to get busier as the months progress. Between work, personal obligations, and all the recent blog activity, it’s all been a bit much, and I need to take a breather. To that end, my wife and I are heading to the magical country of Iceland for some much-needed R&R (and my birthday celebration). Before I head off into the wild blue yonder, however, I had a few announcements.


Peter Lorre Surprised

Last week, I quietly reached a major blog milestone, with more than 1 million pageviews (I know, I know, that probably includes some spammy websites linking to it, but don’t steal my thunder)! When I started Cinematic Catharsis, I never expected to have 1,000 page views, so to say this ongoing labor of love has exceeded my expectations is a gross understatement. I’ve met some astonishingly talented movie bloggers along the way, and it’s been an honor to call some my friends. Of course, I couldn’t have done it without you, dear reader. Whether you’re a first-timer, or a regular visitor to this site, no words can adequately express my gratitude. Thank you all for visiting, and continuing to read my scribblings.

The Big Sleep

I’m also pleased to announce that I will have another article featured in The DarkPages, for their upcoming Big 100th edition, regarding the lessons I’ve learned from one of my all-time favorite noirs, The Big Sleep. There’s also another blog post coming (Hint: It’s based on a challenge by my blogathon co-host), although it probably won’t surface until sometime in mid-April.

The Corman-verse Blogathon

And speaking of looking ahead, The Corman-verse Blogathon, hosted by Yours Truly and Gill Jacob from Realweegiemidget Reviews is next month (May 26th-28th), but there’s still plenty of time to stake your claim. Here’s a list of participants, so far:


Brian Schuck, Films from Beyond the Time Barrier - The Fast and the Furious (1955)

Scampy, The Spirochaete Trail - The Aftermath (1988)

Gabriela, Pale Writer - House of Usher (1960) & Premature Burial (1962) 

Terence Towles Canote, A Shroud of Thoughts - Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Andrew Wickliffe, The Stop Button - The Intruder (1962)

Booksteve, Booksteve's Library - Ski Troop Attack (1960)

Tristan Lofting - The Trip (1967)

J-Dub, Dubsism - A Bucket of Blood (1959)

Amber, @tangoineden (Instagram) -  Gunslinger (1956)

Steve Q. - The Great Texas Dynamite Chase (1976)

Debbie Vega, Moon in Gemini - Tower of London (1962)

Lê, Critica Retro - TBD

Tom, Motion Picture Gems - Munchies (1987)

Stone Gasman - Targets (1968)

Rebecca Deniston, Taking Up Room - The Wasp Woman (1959)

Lady Eve, Lady Eve's Reel Life - The Gunfighter (1950)

Kayla, Whimsically Classic - The Raven (1963) 

Kerry Fristoe, Brattle Theatre Film Notes - The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967)

Gill Jacob, Realweegiemidget Reviews - Alligator (1980)

Barry P., Cinematic Catharsis - Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)

One small request: Since I might inadvertently miss your request in the coming week, please be sure to copy my excellent co-host, Gill, by commenting on her post, or through her blog’s Contact Me page (Be sure to include your preferred name, along with your blog’s title)


As always, stay tuned…