I Can See You (9/10)

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Doug, Richards, and Kimble are three scruffy young men trying to start a new ad agency in NYC. Doug’s girlfriend, Sonia, has scored them a gig with her employer, big-time cleaning product manufacturer Clara Clean, whose products may or may not be involved in ecological damage and de-forestation. Suffering from a lack of clarity in both their artistic vision and their stock photos, the three men decide that camping in the woods to get back to nature is just the ticket, so they head out of town, Sonia in tow, to the countryside where Richards grew up. Once there, Richards attempts to take some photos of nature’s grandeur, but the photos are marred by mysterious wisps of smoke, which seem to be invisible to the naked eye. That night, some old friends of Richards are invited to the camp for a barbecue, and he hooks up with his old flame, Summer Day. The next day, Doug and Summer disappear after a swim, which leads Richards to fear the worst. When Doug shows up that night without Summer and with a bad case of the crazies, things really go bonkers.

So, this movie is about as good as mini-micro-budget filmmaking can get, which, turns out, is pretty goddamn good. This thing starts out weird, and gets to be positively batshit crazy by the end. Nevertheless, it is consistently compelling, and features some genuinely creepy and jarring visuals and editing. The acting is better than one might expect at this price-point (including a great performance from indie guru and producer Larry Fessenden in a small but pivotal role), and the lack of production value really only adds to the lo-fi nuthouse vibe. The whole thing is reminiscent of something you might find in the “weird part of YouTube”, but holds up surprisingly well as a feature-length film. I really don’t want to say anything more about it, so just go watch it.

Waxwork II: Lost in Time (7/10)


NOTE: Contains spoilers for the first Waxwork movie.

First, the bad news: Deborah Foreman’s character, Sarah, has been recast. The good news: The replacement actress is Monika Schnarre, who looks like Daryl Hannah, but hotter. We’ll go ahead and mark this in the “win” column, even though I have fond memories of Deborah’s scene with the Marquis de Sade in the first movie.

This starts right where the first movie leaves off, with Mark and Sarah escaping the burning waxworks in a handy taxi. Unbeknownst to the pair, the reanimated zombie arm from the first movie’s Night of the Living Dead vignette hitches a ride and ends up back at Sarah’s place, where it kills her abusive step-dad with a hammer and then attacks her with hot dogs and mustard. She is promptly charged with murder when no one believes the killer hand story, and Mark and Sarah are forced to delve into the waxworks mythos to try to find evidence to exhonerate her, and because it’s a great way to throw them into some more homagey vignettes.

The vignettes this time around are much more elaborate, and feature tributes to Frankenstein, Alien, Evil Dead, Excalibur or something, Dawn of the Dead, Nosferatu, and others. And even though the first Waxwork was billed as a horror-comedy, this one goes much broader with the humor, getting quite slapsticky at times. Even outside the Evil Dead segment, the influence of that classic series is quite apparent, going so far as featuring an extended cameo from the man himself, Bruce Campbell. One could argue that they go a bit far with the silliness, but this is still a pretty fun movie, and it’s apparent that the filmmakers had fun making it. Worth a watch, even though there’s still no boobs.

Waxwork (7/10)


A waxworks opens in the middle of a suburban neighborhood for some reason. A group of twenty-something trust-fund losers get invited to visit after hours by the owner, the always excellent David Warner. When the arrive, they are greeted at the door by a midget best described as a white version of Tattoo. Left to explore the disturbingly realistic tableau, they are soon drawn, one by one, into the scenes, and find they are even more real than they appear.

First off, this is not to be confused with Haris Pilton Paris Hilton’s House of Wax from 2005. This is, in fact, a fun little film from the Golden Age of Horror, that wonderful decade known as “The 80s”. The bulk of this movie is taken up with the trust fund kiddos exploring, being trapped in, and, for some of them, dying in little vignettes that reference classic horror monsters like the mummy, the wolfman, and even a nice black and white homage to The Night of the Living Dead. By far the most memorable vignette is the super-hot scene with Deborah Foreman’s character falling victim to the Marquis de Sade. While this is certainly far from the best of the 80s, it’s reasonably entertaining and worth a watch. Recommended.

Choose (5/10)

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Basically Sophie’s Choice: Special Serial Killer Edition. Intense opening scene where a teenager is forced by a home invader to choose between killing her mom or her dad. Dad volunteers to get it in the chest of course (yay disposable men!) Cut to plucky young reporter with bigly sweater monkeys and a cop dad. She’s hot… on the trail of the You-Choose-You-Lose Killer. And apparently she smells like apples according to random creepy guy. More choices, more dead or disfigured victims. Soon the trail leads back to something from the killer’s past that ties all the random victims together.

This is mostly a police procedural, though somewhat light on police and procedure. And the investigating is really just running down some clues from the Forced Dichotomy Boogeyman, who turns out to be a whiny little bitch. And, to add insult to injury, the monkeys stay in the sweater. Overall, watchable but nothing you haven’t seen before, assuming you’ve watched some movies that are similar to this one.

Solo (7/10)

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New-school take on an old-school formula. A teenage girl who has suffered some sort of trauma involving water takes a job as a counselor at a lakeside kids’ camp, presumably as a way to face her inner demons or some such. As a new counselor, she is required to do a “solo” – two nights camping on her own on an island away from the others. But is she really alone?

So this is another entry in the “survival horror” genre, as the girl faces off against a threat on the island. Ultimately, the success or failure of a movie of this sort boils down to two things: Is the threat credible and interesting, and does the protagonist make reasonable choices to combat or avoid the threat? Yes, and yes. It’s also very lean, moving the story along with little exposition, while still establishing the characters well enough that you can understand their motivations and have at least some concern about their survival. Overall, not the most original story, but very watchable and well made, and with at least a couple of interesting new ideas. No boobs though.