Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – The Vineyard (1989)

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Lo Pan himself, James Hong, wrote (alongside Douglas Kondo) and directed this midnight movie about an archipelago in which the formula for eternal youth has been perfected and extracted from young, concupiscent subjects. For all intensive purposes, The Vineyard is a frustratingly cornucopian, albeit giddy excuse for Hong to fondle his lingerie-bound co-stars. But, as vanity projects go, the film can never be accused of boringly lurid.

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Runstedler’s DVD Pick of the Month: The Grizzlies

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The Grizzlies is an incredible Canadian movie and based on a true story about a group of indigenous students who form a lacrosse team in northern Canada (Kugluktuk, which is at the northwestern mainland tip of Nunavut and had the highest youth suicide rate when the story took place in 2004) and try to compete in the national championships in Toronto. It confronts enduring issues in Canadian indigenous communities including youth suicide, domestic violence, alcoholism, and intergenerational trauma. I think the film is a huge triumph for raising awareness and supporting the voices of these people and communities. It’s not an easy watch (the opening scene is a gut punch), but it is a rewarding and enlightening one that ends on a hopeful note. 

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Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – Slugs (1988)

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How is this for an advertising proclamation- “From the director of Pieces- it’s exact what you think it is”. Whereas Pieces was a disturbingly loitering slasher movie despite the missteps (for instance, the karate instructor interlude is completely capricious without any context and the stinger, while grotesque, is utterly nonsensical), his follow-up after MST3K’s quarry Pod People, is a colossal miscalculation.

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Castor’s Hallow’s Eve Duds – Godzilla 1984 (1984)

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Editor’s Note- The version reviewed here is the “uncut, uncensored” version of the film.

If the operatic, saturnine orchestral score from Reijiro Koroku is any indication, Godzilla 1984 was intended to be a return to the Godzilla of 1954- brooding, solemn and prescient about the doomsday device that could catastrophically inseminate Armageddon. It’s a very noble attempt to encapsulate that atomic-age atmosphere of dread but at this point in the franchise, the film shouldn’t be so joyless and enervated.

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Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)

What was almost a synergy between Ivan Reitman and Chevy Chase ultimately became a John Carpenter spy thriller. Which is probably for the best since Chase at this lull in his career was adamant about abdicating comedies for more serious roles. In that regard, Memoirs of an Invisible Man was a departure for both Chase and Carpenter and outside of the dazzling special effects (the bubblegum chewing is convincingly levitating), it is a swooning, hard-boiled adventure.

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Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – The Brain (1988)

Canuckspoilation this is not. It must be a godsend to be an independent filmmaker in Canadian during the 70’s and 80’s considering the lucrative tax incentives that the crew would receive for production there. Films like The Brain were financed to capitalize on that loophole and predominantly, the creature design of Mark Williams which the film splurges no time on revealing after the opening credits.

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Castor’s Underrated Hallow’s Eve Gems – The Mangler (1995)

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Ted Levine needs a salt scrub and herbal skin treatment after seeing his pasty, perspiring complexion here. From the speed-ramping scene of him nearly colliding into a moving van to his ingestion of antacids (and booze), Officer Hunton (Levine) is a surly prick from the start. Yet it is refreshing to see such a loutish main character who is basically moonlighting in police work for the pension after twenty years instead of a good Samaritan.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Payday (1973)

Payday (1973)

Back in July of this year (2019), the entertainment industry mourned the loss of Rip Torn. A cousin to Sissy Spacek, Torn wasn’t a victim of nepotism. He earned his stripes through acclaimed supporting roles in The Man Who Fell to Earth, Cross Creek, Defending Your Life and above all, The Larry Sanders Show in which he was Artie, Larry’s intrepid, exhortative producer. Lead roles were Spartan throughout his prolific career but one firebrand role swaggered along with Payday, a corrosive portrait of a country singer with a self-destructive habit for lawsuits, promiscuity and volatile spells.

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The Reviewinator: Rambo – Last Blood (2019)

“In a way, it was funny, a seventy-two-year-old man setting the pace, running them all into the ground.” This quote from David Morrell’s original novel First Blood, though referring to a different character, has become strangely prophetic and frighteningly accurate when watching a 72-year-old Sylvester Stallone outlast, outshoot, and outslice the bad guys in Rambo: Last Blood. Though I’ve never been more curious to know if First Blood‘s original ending may have been a greater mercy for the franchise.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Loose Cannons (1990)

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The dreaded, infamous 0% on Rotten Tomatoes is a label to be both reviled for and applauded for. It’s as rare as white peacocks or purple carrots. However, the quantity of the viewers should also be titrated when evaluating whether a goose egg is earned or merely a biased sampling. Before writing my defense of Bob Clark’s offbeat action-comedy Loose Cannons, I found nary a positive review for this. This is a hill I must conquer and perish upon alone.

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