Monday, July 31, 2023

July Quick Picks and Pans


Sea Fever Poster

Sea Fever (2019) The crew of an Irish fishing vessel encounter a new species lurking in the depths. With the help of a socially awkward doctoral student, Siobhán (Hermione Corfield), they attempt to combat the new threat before everyone becomes infected. The massive creature resembles a cross between an enormous bioluminescent jellyfish and the “Graboids” from Tremors. Writer/director Neasa Hardiman’s claustrophobic film is tense and bleak, with excellent performances all around. While it was completed pre-COVID, Sea Fever works as an apt parable for the pandemic, pondering the ramifications of infecting the greater population. 

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


Exotica Poster

Exotica (1994) Writer/director Atom Egoyan’s brooding character study follows the lives of several individuals around an exotic dance club. The film is anchored by Bruce Greenwood’s captivating performance as Francis, one of the club’s frequent patrons, who harbors a terrible secret. It’s a somber portrait of several intermingling individuals, whose lives are hanging by a slender thread. 

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


Satanis - The Devil's Mass Poster

Satanis: The Devil’s Mass (1970) This amusing documentary provides a little-seen glimpse into the Church of Satan (situated in a San Francisco neighborhood) and its charismatic founder, Anton LaVey, who preaches indulgence in worldly pleasures, universal acceptance, and rejection of what he considers religious hypocrisy. We also take a peek at some of the church’s rituals, which normally occur behind closed doors. In addition to LaVey, we hear from some of his ardent followers, puzzled neighbors, and detractors. It's an intriguing, if overlong (the scenes with the rituals could have been significantly trimmed) profile of a group of frequently maligned, albeit harmless eccentrics.   

Rating: ***. Available on Blu-ray and DVD (both out of print)

The Deadly Spawn Poster

The Deadly Spawn (1983) Director/co-writer Douglas McKeown’s low-budget wonder is a fun throwback to ‘50s monster movies. Extraterrestrial creatures arrive on earth via meteorite, leaving death and mayhem in their wake. One of the malevolent beasts settles in the basement of a house, which serves as a breeding ground for the rapidly multiplying, sluglike larvae. The only person who seems equipped to fight the otherworldly menace is a kid influenced by classic horror movies. Considering how little the filmmakers likely had to work with, the creature effects aren’t half bad. Give it a try. 

Rating: ***. Available on Blu-ray (out of print), DVD and Shudder



War-Gods of the Deep Poster

War-Gods of the Deep (1965) More like "Bore-Gods of the Deep." Vincent Price plays Sir Hugh, the de facto ruler of an ancient underwater city. With Price, direction by Jacques Tourneur, and Edgar Allan Poe source material (based on his poem “The City in the Sea”), how can you lose? Well, the cavernous “city” is confined to a couple of sets, the civilization’s original amphibious denizens represented by a few guys in barely disguised rubber wet suits, and not much really happens for most of the film’s running time. Co-stars Tab Hunter, David Tomlinson (who carries a pet chicken), and Susan Hart have little to do but run in circles until the film’s underwhelming climax. Great poster, though. If you’re dead set on watching a movie about a lost underwater civilization, might I suggest Atragon (1963), instead? 

Rating: **. Available on DVD and Amazon Prime




  1. Another round of very eclectic films, Barry! None of which I've seen!

    I'm most intrigued by Sea Fever and the documentary about the Church of satan!

    Thank you for the warning about war gods of the deep. I've noticed it on prime, but I scroll past it even though I'm tempted because it's Vincent price!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Sea Fever is highly recommended, and the Church of Satan documentary is worth a look. I don't know if it's true, but I read on IMDB that Vincent Price only saw the script for War-Gods of the Deep 6 days before filming. I couldn't help but wonder if he was phoning in his performance for this one.

  2. I wonder how I've missed The Deadly Spawn all these years? The character who is the only one cued into the threat because he's a big B horror movie fan reminds me of the Scream franchise. You're absolutely right about War-Gods of the Deep - beautiful production design in the service of a very pedestrian, plodding story punctuated by cringe-inducing "comic" relief. Unfortunately not a great swan song for director Jacques Tourneur!

    1. Hey, it's never too late to check out The Deadly Spawn! It's a hoot - A throwback in the best possible way. As far as War-Gods of the Deep is concerned, you know it's bad when Vincent Price has almost as much screen time as a chicken. ;) Not Price's or Tourneur's finest moment.