Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

The Green Inferno
After a lengthy hiatus, Eli Roth returns to the director’s chair for the much-delayed homeage to Cannibal Holocaust, titled The Green Inferno. After a group of college activists travel to the middle of the Amazon rainforest to stop a logging crew from displacing a local tribe, they find that the tribe might be the greater threat. They’re soon captured and slowly tortured and eaten by the cannibalistic natives, and there’s really not much else to the movie. The biggest problem with The Green Inferno isn’t that it doesn’t deliver the goods – Eli Roth is back to his old torture-porn tricks, and there’s loads of gore and buckets of blood for horror fans to go nuts over. The problem is that Roth doesn’t try to stretch his boundaries as a filmmaker. The structure of The Green Inferno is a lot like Hostel: a group of priveleged kids from the USA travel to a foreign land but get savaged by the locals in horrific and gruesome ways. Eventually one escapes. The end. There are a few brief moments of Roth’s dark humour that managed to elevate the film above your average torture porn horror movie, but ultimately I was a bit disappointed that Roth didn’t try anything especially new. There are some moments in The Green Inferno that horror fans will really enjoy, but in the end, it’s exactly what it says on the box, and nothing more.
2.5 out of 5

Crimson Peak
I enjoy the majority of Guillermo Del Toro’s work, and I’m a big fan of Hammer Horror films, so when it looked like that’s exactly what Del Toro was making with Crimson Peak, I was pretty excited. Sadly, Crimson Peak was a major letdown for me, and the reasons are numerous. Edith Cushing is a young aspiring author whose life becomes entangled with a mysterious clay baron named Thomas Sharpe and his weirdo sister. Together they all live at a spooky, gothic mansion that the locals nickname Crimson Peak because it sits upon a plateau of red clay. Oh, and the house is haunted, of course. All of the elements of a great movie exist within Crimson Peak. The setting, production design, and costumes are all fantastic. Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain as the creepy Sharpe siblings are terrific in their campy roles. But beyond those things, I don’t have a lot to recommend here. The ghosts in the movie do not factor into the story whatsoever. You could remove them completely and nothing would change. The movie is filled with abandoned plot threads. The fact that Edith is an aspiring writer plays no role in the plot, and you don’t even get to hear an excerpt of the story she is working on during the first five minutes (and then never again). Charlie Hunnam’s character is a wooden block, and Mia Wasikowska’s Edith is as cold and pale as the slab of porcelain that her skin resembles. The biggest disappointment, however, is the reveal of the villains’ motivations. They are dull and mundane, and feel completely out of place when surrounded with bloody ghosts and murder mysteries. This is the most frustrating kind of movie; the kind that’s obviously a wasted opportunity where you can see a great movie bubbling below the surface. As it stands, though, I think this is one of Del Toro’s weakest movies.
2.5 out of 5

Horror Express
Sometimes the best way to make a movie is to take two plots and smash them together into one, and that’s what you’ll get with Horror Express! This little-known, little-seen and highly underrated horror film starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing could best be described as a mashup of John Carpenter’s The Thing and Murder on the Orient Express, and it’s executed perfectly. Lee plays a British anthropologist who discovers a bizarre creature frozen in a Manchurian mountain. He loads it aboard a train to transport it back to Britain for study, but along the way the creature thaws out…and starts assuming the forms of other passengers. It’s up to Lee and his professional rival played by Cushing to stop the creature before it kills everybody! With a bizarre cameo from Telly Savalas as a Russian military man, Horror Express is great fun from start to finish. You could easily complain that the special effects are bad, but to me, that just enhances the perfect grindhouse feel of this movie. And guess what? By some miracle, Horror Express is in the public domain, so if you haven’t seen it already, it’s easy to find a copy to watch online. And you should do that immediately.
3.75 out of 5

See you next Sunday for more thrilling short reviews!

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