Review: Lord of Illusions (1995)

By Paula R. Stiles

Lord of Illusions (1995). Writer: Clive Barker. Director: Clive Barker. Cast: Scott Bakula, Famke Janssen, Kevin J. O’Connor, Daniel von Bargen.

[some spoilers ahead]

In a kiva-like ruined house in the desert, cult leader Nix (von Bargen) is presiding over the human sacrifice of a young girl. When renegade members of his flock, led by Philip Swann (O’Connor) attack the house to rescue the girl, Nix shows his true power, a terrifying dark magic. But Swann …

Paula R. StilesReview: Lord of Illusions (1995)

Review: Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

By Paula R. Stiles

Cowboys & Aliens (2011). Director: John Favreau. Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Adam Beach, Clancy Brown, Sam Rockwell.

[spoilers ahead]

It’s 1873, in the Arizona Territory, and there’s a gold rush going on. Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the middle of the desert, barefoot, hatless and confused – and wearing a weird, steampunkish bracelet on his left wrist. He doesn’t remember a thing, about anything. He does demonstrate a deadly ability to …

Paula R. StilesReview: Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

Review: They Wait (2007)

By Paula R. Stiles

[spoilers ahead]

They Wait (2007). Director: Ernie Barbarash. Cast: Jaime King, Terry Chen, Pei-Pei Cheng. Country: Canada.

A young western woman, Sarah (Jaime King), returns to North America from Shanghai with her Chinese husband Jason (Terry Chen) and their young son Sam (Regan Ooey) to attend a family funeral. They arrive during the seventh month of the Chinese calendar, considered to be bad luck in Chinese Buddhist culture (Today, the Hungry Ghost Festival, is the …

Paula R. StilesReview: They Wait (2007)

Column: The Vault of Secrets: Tarantula (1955)

By Orrin Grey

Tarantula (1955). Director: Jack Arnold. Cast: John Agar, Mara Cordray, Leo G. Carroll.

Welcome back to the Vault of Secrets, where, every other week, we’ll be unearthing a classic (or not-so-classic) vintage horror film for your delectation. For the next couple of films, I’m going to be doing something very different from our last few installments. We’ll be jumping ahead a couple of decades to look at two of the (many) sci-fi monster movies of the 1950s, …

Orrin GreyColumn: The Vault of Secrets: Tarantula (1955)

Review: Supernatural: Friday the 13th (2009)

By Paula R. Stiles

[spoilers ahoy]

Friday the 13th (2009). Director: Marcus Nispel. Cast: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti, Derek Mears. Country: USA.

Summer 1980: Mad Mrs. Voorhees (an unrecognizable Nana Visitor) loses her head while picking off a bunch of teenage counselors at Camp Crystal Lake, where her son Jason (Derek Mears) had once presumably drowned. But it turns out he’s alive and a disfigured recluse, living in a series of tunnels under an enormous pot farm in …

Paula R. StilesReview: Supernatural: Friday the 13th (2009)

Review: Beneath Still Waters (2005)

By Paula R. Stiles

[spoilers ahoy, me hearties]

Beneath Still Waters (2005). Director: Brian Yuzna. Cast: Michael McKell, Raquel MeroƱo, Charlotte Salt. Country: Spain.

It’s 1965 and the town of Marienbad in Spain is about to be flooded by a new dam. Two little boys decide to explore the town right before it floods. Do they get caught by the rising waters? No, something worse. They discover a Satanic ritual, complete with human sacrifice, an evil book, and ghouls. One …

Paula R. StilesReview: Beneath Still Waters (2005)

Review: Silent Hill: The Movie (2006)

By Paula R. Stiles

[spoilers ahead]

Silent Hill (2006). Director: Christophe Gans. Cast: Radha Mitchell, Laurie Holden, Alice Krige, Deborah Kara Unger, Sean Bean. Country: USA.

Rose (Radha Mitchell) loses her adopted daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) in the mysterious, fog-bound ghost town of Silent Hill. Before she can go looking for her, though, she’s arrested by Cybill (Laurie Holden), a police officer, not long before they both discover the town is quite literally cut off from the rest of the …

Paula R. StilesReview: Silent Hill: The Movie (2006)

Review: Supernatural: Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

By Paula R. Stiles

[spoilers ahead]

Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010). Director: Brandon Vietti. Cast: Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, John Di Maggio, Neil Patrick Harris. Country: USA.

Batman’s teenage sidekick Jason Todd (as the second Robin) is murdered by the Joker. Five years later, a new vigilante, calling himself the “Red Hood”, arrives in Gotham. He’s highly trained, knows all of Batman’s moves, and even knows Batman’s true identity, Bruce Wayne. Who is he and why is he “cleaning …

Paula R. StilesReview: Supernatural: Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

By Paula R. Stiles

[minor spoilers]

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011). Director: Rob Marshall. Cast: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane.

Full disclosure: Will the fourth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean blockbuster series change your life? Probably not. Is it as “disappointing” as some critics are claiming it is? No, not really. Is it good, rollicking summer fun? Yep.

Jack Sparrow (Depp) is intent on his quest to find the Fountain of Youth …

Paula R. StilesReview: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Review: The Covenant (2006)

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Covenant (2006). Director: Renny Harlin. Cast: Steven Strait, Laura Ramsey.

I had a hard time figuring out who was who in this flick, not because of an intricate script, but because everyone looked the same. It was like Invasion of the Preppy Clones.

The Covenant is a child of its time, a descendant of urban fantasy, which springs from the same well that gave us The Craft, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and, nowadays, Supernatural

IFPReview: The Covenant (2006)

Angels and Demons Week: Review: Wings of Desire (1987)

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Wings of Desire (1987). Director: Wim Wenders. Cast: Bruno Ganz, Otto Sander.

To the devil his due. I’ve reviewed two subtitled black-and-white films which dealt with demons and I thought I’d end it all on a different note, by switching to the world of angels.
If you’ve seen the 1998 American remake of this movie, City of Angels, and avoided the original for that reason, you should watch Wings of Desire. The American remake turns …

Silvia Moreno-GarciaAngels and Demons Week: Review: Wings of Desire (1987)

Angels and Demons Week: Review: Cabin in the Sky (1943)

By Paula R. Stiles

Cabin in the Sky (1943). Director: Vincent Minnelli. Cast: Ethel Waters, Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson and Lena Horne.

Good-natured Little Joe Jackson (Anderson) is a slothful gambler who embodies all of the deadly sins, save maybe Wrath. His saintly wife Petunia (Waters) has wrestled him into repentance in the opening moments of the film, but he has a relapse and slips out of church to run off to the local gambling house, instead. There, he gets shot …

Paula R. StilesAngels and Demons Week: Review: Cabin in the Sky (1943)