October 15, 2019

THE POOP SCOOP: Angels & Demons Edition

SLAYER: THE REPENTLESS KILLOGY in Theaters Worldwide on Nov. 6
Slayer - Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph - along with Trafalgar Releasing, Nuclear Blast Records and Prime Zero Productions, are pleased to announce the upcoming release of the new short narrative film and concert, Slayer: The Repentless Killogy, coming to cinemas worldwide for a one-night event on November 6. Due to be screened in over 1,500 cinemas around the world, tickets will be on sale from October 9 from Slayer.Film.

Revenge, murder, bloodshed and retribution. The
Repentless Killogy film was written and directed by BJ McDonnell, who conceived and directed the three brutal music videos - “You Against You,” “Repentless,” and “Pride in Prejudice”- for Slayer’s final studio album Repentless (2015).

“When we set out to do these initial three videos,” said McDonnell, “our intention was to continue the saga of Slayer and Wyatt at some point down the line. But this is the band’s final album and world tour so this story, the three videos and the “Repentless” live concert at The Forum, is a perfect way to wrap up. This is the end of the monsters.”

Uncompromising and unmissable, part one of
Slayer: The Repentless Killogy begins with the powerful short narrative film that brings together the music of Slayer and the grisly story they wanted to tell.  Opening with the trilogy of music videos assembled as one chronological storyline, we are introduced to the narrative’s main character Wyatt, a former Neo Nazi associated with a gang known as “The Hand Brotherhood,” whose signature mark was a bloody handprint left after a murder had taken place. 

ANGEL HAS FALLEN on Digital 11/12 and 4K, Blu-ray & DVD 11/26
When there is an assassination attempt on U.S. President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), his trusted confidant, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), is wrongfully accused and taken into custody. After escaping from capture, he becomes a man on the run and must evade his own agency and outsmart the FBI in order to find the real threat to the president. Desperate to uncover the truth, Banning turns to unlikely allies to help clear his name, keep his family from harm, and save the country from imminent danger.

October 14, 2019

ULTRAMAN for Ultra Fans


ULTRA Q Series 1 (1966)
Starring Hiroko Sakurai, Kenji Sahara and Yasuhiko Saijo (716 min)

ULTRAMAN Series 2 (1966)
Starring Susumu Kurobe, Hiroko Sakurai, Sandayu Dokumamushi, Akui Kobayashi, Akihide Tsuzawae, and Masanari Nihei (988 min)

Review by Nick Lyons🐶

Tokusatsu fans, rejoice! Mill Creek Entertainment has put out the first two series in the legendary Ultra Series. First up is the 28 episode series from Tsuburaya Productions (headed by Godzilla co-creator Eiji Tsuburaya) Ultra Q. The 1966 B&W monster of the week sci-fi series is heavily influenced by The Twilight Zone and could even be seen as a precursor to shows like The X-Files. The basic premise is that a team (comprised of reporter Yuriko, pilots Jun and Ippei, and sometimes the knowledgeable Professor Ichinotani) investigate strange occurrences and superstitions in Japan which tend to revolve around monsters and aliens such as Gomess (who is a redressed Godzilla), Goro, Ballonga, Peguila, Garamon, Ragon, Namegon and Garadama (possibly the weirdest monster).

If you’ve ever seen a Tokusatsu show (think Power Rangers/Super Sentai) or a Kaiju film (ala the Godzilla series) before, you should know what to expect from the half-hour episodes. Basically, there are men in suit monster battles, destruction galore, know-it-all and or meddlesome kids, and humans in danger. The big difference here is this series has the lead characters investigating mysteries. Sometimes this angle feels underutilized, however, as the monsters are clearly the main draw here. The series is at its best to me when it veers off into strange territory like with the episode “Kanegon’s Cocoon” which involves a greedy kid being turned into a money eating monster. It’s a whimsical change of pace from the norm. However one may feel about the series, it deserves credit for being a big budget (for the time) and ambitious piece of TV history as it spawned a major franchise that continues to endure. Speaking of which, that leads to the second installment in the franchise…

When the meds kick in.
After Ultra Q, Ultraman followed in the very same year. The plot of the 39 color episode series revolves around members of the Japanese branch of the International Science Police Organization (think Thunderbirds) comprised of Akiko Fuji (communications officer), Daisuke Arashi (gunner), Cap (self-explanatory), Isamu Hoshino (junior member), Mitsuhiro Ide (the Q of the group) and the main character Hayata (a pilot). The Science Patrol’s mission is to investigate strange phenomenons and protect Earth from alien threats. While Hayata is out on a mission, he collides with a red orb which actually an alien from Nebula M78 known as Ultraman. The two end up merging as one which enables Hayata to transform into the flying, laser shooting Ultraman when needed. Naturally, the transformation is frequently needed when the Science Patrol encounters monsters and aliens such as Zetton, Gavora, Mummy Man, Kemular, Jirass, Zarab, Red King, Pestar, Dada, Gubila, Baltan and more.

Ultraman is really the gold standard of Tokusatsu hero shows. There’s a reason it continues to endure in various incarnations to this day. It’s simply a fun show featuring epic battles with monsters, numerous vehicles, explosions, adventures, heroism, miniatures, characterization, and mythological exploration (such as the past Ultras and the Monster Gravyeard).

In terms of stand-out episodes, the premiere (“Ultra Operation #1) and the riveting finale (“Farewell, Ultraman”) are really quite exceptional. They’re intense, fast paced adventures with high stakes, drama, thrills, and sci-fi drama. They have everything you could want from Ultraman.

Both sets contain digital copies and fantastic handy dandy booklets containing credits, photos, episode, character, technology and monster guides, and brief histories about the shows and their productions.


THE LINGERING: Hey...Wait a Minute...

Starring Bob Yin-Pok Cheung, Kai-Chung Chueng, Athena Chu, Fung Lee, Yao Tong. Directed by Ho Pong Mal & Derrick Tao. (87 min)

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat😼

The ending of The Lingering vexes me. I’m stating this up-front because it’s a major bone of contention in an otherwise decent haunted house thriller. To explain further would provide a major spoiler to what’s obviously meant as a twist ending. However, unless I missed something, this resolution undermines the entire movie.

Until then, though, The Lingering is an atmospheric little film that initially has the viewer thinking it’s gonna be your standard bump-in-the-night spookshow, but takes a surprising narrative turn early on. It opens with a mother and her son, Dawa, waiting for the father to return home from work, which doesn’t happen because he died on the job. Meanwhile, the usual oddities start to occur – self-winding toys, photos dropping from wall, etc. - and everyone’s sure it’s his ghost.

Of course, now the phone rings.
Then suddenly, that storyline is dropped altogether, never to be mentioned again. It’s now 30 years later and Dawa’s all grown up with a rich girlfriend. He gets the news is mother has died and is forced to return to the childhood home he hasn’t visited since leaving – on bad terms – years before. Dawa considers selling the house to fund his restaurant, but has second thoughts when it appears to be haunted by his mother.

Despite the jarring shift in the story’s focus, The Lingering is mostly enjoyable and the characters are well-drawn. What we learn of Dawa and his mother’s disintegrating relationship – through flashbacks and letters – gives the film a climax that packs an emotional wallop. And had everything ended at that point, there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house. Instead, we get another revelation that not-only defuses the poignancy the film worked so hard to achieve, it doesn’t any narrative sense. Some viewers might find themselves saying, "Hey...wait a minute...how's that possible?"

Again, going into further detail would spoil the party. Besides, The Lingering is still worth checking out for the effectively creepy moments, all-around dark tone and sympathetic characters. If only it knew when to quit.


October 13, 2019


Featuring Bill Wyman, Tony Chapman, Eric Clapton, Suzanne Acosta, Buddy Guy, Glyn Johns, Charlie Watts. Directed by Oliver Murray. (98 min)

Review by Fluffy the Fearless😼

How do you make an interesting documentary about The Rolling Stones’ least interesting member? Director Oliver Murray attempts to overcome that hurdle by introducing Bill Wyman as something of a hoarder.

When we first see him, he’s hunched over a computer like the 82-year-old man he is (though he still looks younger than Keith Richards). During most of The Quiet One’s present-day footage, he never leaves his desk, rarely speaking on camera as he peruses his many collections of photos, videos and...shelves & shelves of impeccably-arranged stuff. It looks like he’s kept everything he’s ever acquired, but least he’s an organized hoarder.

Elsewhere, The Quiet One chronicles Wyman’s life and career through vintage footage, along with interviews with friends and peers (though most of his ex-bandmates are conspicuously absent). Predictably, his tenure with The Rolling Stones dominates the film. Through voice-over narration, Wyman offers his take on their turbulent history, though he never discloses anything really revelatory.

In his spare time, Bill writes Beatles fan fiction.
More revealing is his life outside of the Stones, including a periodic solo career I’d wager most people didn’t know he had (after hearing some of his music, it’s understandable). Wyman is also candid about his scandalous – and brief – marriage to 18-year-old Mandy Smith (Bill was 52). Personally, I'd like to know more about all that stuff in his house he thinks is worth keeping.

Ultimately, The Quiet One is a mildly engaging documentary where the most reclusive of the Stones allows us a glimpse of his life, which has been nowhere nearly as crazy as those of Mick or Keith or Brian. Hence, his story isn’t as fascinating, but fans should find it worth their time.


NIGHT HUNTER: Gandhi vs. Superman

Starring Henry Cavill, Ben Kingsley, Alexandria Daddario, Stanley Tucci, Brendan Fletcher, Nathan Fillion, Eliana Jones, Minka Kelly. Directed by David Raymond. (99 min)

Review by Tiger the Terrible😼

I’ll say this much...Henry Cavill is more effective as a troubled cop than a troubled superhero.

Not that he stands-out in Night Hunter. Actually, nobody does. Writer-director David Raymond squanders the impressive cast he has at his disposal, which includes Ben Kingsley, Stanley Tucci and Nathan Fillion. Their performances are adequate, but they serve characters who are as generic as the film's title.

Night Hunter pits hard-ass cop William Marshall (Cavill) against psychotic serial killer Simon Stulls (Brendan Fletcher). Simon has abducted, raped and murdered numerous young women (the usual mommy issues). He’s captured right away, but soon after, people working on the case are being knocked-off, convincing Marshall that Simon is getting help. Marshall has some competition from Michael Cooper (Ben Kingsley), a judge-turned-vigilante who uses young Lara (Eliana Jones) as willing bait to capture and castrate predators. Alexandria Daddario is also on-hand as profiler Rachel Case, but both Rachel and Lara’s ultimate narrative purpose is to put themselves in peril.

Guess who didn't shower this morning.
The story has its share of plot twists, the biggest of which requires a major suspension of disbelief. For the most part, though, we’ve seen all of this before. Raymond directs with proficiency, but neither he nor his script do anything beyond simply propelling the story forward. And while Fletcher chews the scenery with gusto, Simon is a standard-issue psycho.

In an already overcrowded subgenre, Night Hunter does little to rise above the glut of other cat & mouse thrillers out there. The result is a movie that is watchable without ever becoming particularly involving. The cast earn their paychecks, but their efforts are about as memorable as the movie itself.


October 11, 2019

Rest in Peace, Robert Forster

Gary Kent...DANGER GOD

Featuring Gary Kent, Tomi Barrett, John “Bud” Carlos, Monte Helman, Bob Ivy, Richard Rush, Chuck Bail, Esai Morales, Marc Singer, Samuel M. Sherman. Directed by Joe O’Connell. (100 minutes)

Review by Fluffy the Fearless😸

As a stuntman and actor, Gary Kent has been working on the outer fringes of the movie business for over six decades. If you’ve never heard of him, it’s probably because the closest he ever came to mainstream Hollywood was a walk-on role in 1974’s Freebie and the Bean. However, Kent’s filmography is long and varied, from B-westerns & biker flicks in the ‘60s to his latest, the highly-anticipated Sex Terrorists on Wheels.

He was supposedly the inspiration for Brad Pitt’s character in Once Upon a Time and Hollywood – including being at Spahn Ranch while the Manson family was there – but there’s a lot more to Kent than that infamous encounter and he discusses it only briefly. The rest of Danger God is a charming documentary of his entire life and career.

Gary Kent vs. the paperboy. Kent lost this round.
And what a life. It doesn’t look like Kent ever raked in millions, but sure loved what he did. He performed and coordinated stuntwork for all sorts of low budget films, even directing a few here & there. Some of them are cult classics, but most have faded into obscurity. He remained life-long friends with many of the directors he worked with, who share plenty of anecdotes with each other and through individual interviews.

Kent also talks about his upbringing in Washington State, quitting college to work in Hollywood and eventually meeting the love of his life, Tomi Barrett, his wife and occasional colleague until her death in 2005. A particularly bittersweet moment is a largely unspoken one, when he’s revisiting his hometown and alma mater. With Tomi gone and having outlived all his siblings, he’s fighting tears as he passes through town. The fact that he comes across as a sweetheart of a man might make the viewer a little misty, as well.

Yet as of this writing, even with ongoing health issues, Gary Kent is still working! We see him on the set of 2018’s Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains, and while he’s no longer physically able to fall off a horse, he obviously still loves what he does. That love may not compel one to explore Kent’s decidedly dubious filmography, but his own story is a must-see for movie history buffs.


3 FROM HELL Brings the Pain...Again

3 FROM HELL (2019)
Starring Sheri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley, Richard Brake, Sid Haig (RIP), Pancho Moler, Dee Wallace, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Emilio Rivera, Daniel Roebuck, Danny Trejo. Directed by Rob Zombie. (115 min)

Review by Tiger the Terrible😾

I’ve always been a Rob Zombie fan, though never really cared for most of his movies. I get what he’s doing – parlaying his love of the same sleazy horror he embraces in his music – and he’s actually a pretty skilled director. But he also tends to overindulge in excess for its own sake.

For me, The Devil’s Rejects was an exception. Not that Zombie backed away from the usual mayhem and parade of sideshow freaks, but this time his over-the-top style completely suited the story. While still an homage to the grindhouse aesthetic of the ‘70s, it was more than just the sum of his influences. The murderous Firefly family may have been introduced in House of 1,000 Corpses, but Rejects is when they got interesting.

Though one would assume the climax of that film precludes any notion of a follow-up, Otis, Baby and – very briefly – Captain Spalding return for more nastiness in 3 From Hell, Zombie’s belated sequel. It turns out that even though each was shot more than 20 times, they were only mostly dead (to coin a phrase). Sure, their resurrection is contrived and health issues relegate the late Sid Haig to a mere cameo, but while 3 From Hell does not reach the heights – or depths – of The Devil’s Rejects, it’s arguably Zombie’s best film since.

Body by Bud.
3 From Hell is essentially divided into two stories. Following Spalding’s unceremonious exit (by execution), the first half has Otis (Bill Moseley) escaping prison with the help of half-brother “Foxy” Coltrane (Richard Brake). A massive manhunt ensures, during which time these two force sleazy warden Dallas Harper (Jeff Daniel Phillips) to break Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) out of jail by holding his wife and friends hostage. Afterwards, the three hole-up in a seedy Mexican village. This sets-up the second half, in which druglord Aquarius (Emilio Rivera) seeks to avenge the death of his father, Rondo (Danny Trejo), who was murdered by Otis during his escape.

Spread throughout is all the sadism, murder, blood and flamboyant performances that have become hallmarks of this franchise. Zombie’s penchant for ugliness is on full display and he skillfullly maintains the same greasy look and tone of The Devil’s Rejects. However, 3 From Hell doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. It’s another film of bad guys squaring-off against worse guys, which is perfectly fine if more-of-the-same is what you’re looking for. Spalding is also sorely missed. “Foxy” Coltrane is obviously introduced to keep this group a trio, but he’s not as interesting and Richard Brake is no Sid Haig. Additionally, Sheri Moon’s “look how insane I’ve become” performance grows irritating after awhile.

But while there aren’t any real surprises, 3 From Hell is seldom boring, the worst sin a movie can commit, good or bad. Like The Devil’s Rejects, it’s fast-paced and unquestionably horrific (though I still don’t understand how either are considered horror films). Storywise, Rob Zombie hasn’t figured out anything new to do with his characters, but it more than justifies his ongoing second career as a director.

"TO HELL AND BACK: THE MAKING OF 3 FROM HELL” - A feature-length, 4-part documentary with cast/crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.
AUDIO COMMENTARY – By Writer-Director Rob Zombie

October 9, 2019

Three Times the MALEVOLENCE


Ever since the original was released in 2004, grassroots auteur Stevan Mena has more-or-less been in the Malevolence business, which chronicles the violent misadventures of Martin Bristol, a serial slasher not unlike Michael Myers. Like most franchises, the quality of these films vary and, depending on the viewer, are either respectful homages or blatant rip-offs. Originally released years apart, all three are now on Blu-ray from Mena himself.

Starring Samantha Dark, Brandon Johnson, Heather Magee. Directed by Stevan Mena. (89 min)
Considering it’s an utterly derivative & predictable slasher film, Malevolence is a better movie than it has a right to be. Writer-director Stevan Mena approaches the material as though he originated every trope in the genre. But he does it with so much sincerity, without a whiff of irony, that it's hard not to be impressed. The plot is standard slasher fare... after a bungled bank robbery attempt, three felons escape to rendezvous at an abandoned old house out in the boonies. Though the place is secluded, they are not alone. It ain’t long before a masked lunatic stalking the area. A flashback prologue gives away its climactic revelation to all but the most simple minded viewers, but the story unfolds like it’s still a great mystery. Getting there, however, is half the fun. What Mena may lack in originality, he more than makes up for with style and pacing, which makes this relatively cheap film look and feel like it’s much more than the sum of its parts.

Starring Alexandra Daddario, Michael Biehn, Peyton List, John Savage. Directed by Stevan Mena. (111 min)
The best of the three, Malevolence 2: Bereavement is a prequel that shows us how young Martin Bristol grew up to be the killer from the original, under the tutelage of zealous loony, Graham Sutter, who sacrifices young girls while spouting his own brand of religious babble. Horror origin stories are almost never necessary - their very nature precluding any question of how things will end – and this one is no exception. But in addition to some holdover slasher elements is an aesthetic more akin to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Again, writer-director Mena wears his influences proudly, achieving a suitably bleak tone and making great use of stark midwest locations. He’s also aided immeasurably by a better cast that includes Alexandra Daddario in the lead, as well as Michael Beihn and John Savage in supporting roles.

Starring Katie Gibson, Kevin McKelvey, Ashley Wolfe, Jay Cohen. Directed by Steven Mena. (88 min)
I don’t know what happened between 2010 and 2018, but this plays like Mena has lost interest in his own franchise. Malevolence 3: Killer is a tired rehash of every teen slasher flick that ever oozed out of the 80s. Picking up immediately after the events of the first film, Martin Bristol stabs his way through a variety of college kids. But unlike those in Malevolence, these characters are walking cliches, as are the jump scares and Mena’s own Carpenteresque score. With the exception of Kevin McKelvey as a dedicated agent and an all-too-brief cameo by Adrienne Barbeau, the performances are strictly amateur night. Working with a script as lazy as the title, Mena doesn’t even seem to be trying. Devoid of tension or atmosphere, the entire film feels hastily slapped together. The door is, of course, left open for another sequel, but I suspect even Mena would agree it’s time to move on.

Fans of the franchise will, of course, snap-up all three and won’t be disappointed by the abundance of bonus features included with each disc. For the curious or merely budget-minded, the first two are worth checking out, especially the latter, since it’s the bleakest, bloodiest and best-directed. Skip Malevolence 3 altogether.

Trailers for all three films (as well as a horror-comedy Mena directed in 2007) automatically play at the start-up of each disc. Each film also includes a DVD copy.

FEATURETTES - “”Back to the Slaughterhouse”; “Leatherface Speaks” (featuring Gunnar Hansen); “The Dark Side of Horror with Samantha Dark” (the film’s Final Girl)
AUDIO COMMENTARY – By Stevan Mena and actor Brandon Johnson
FEATURETTES - “The Making of Bereavement”; “First Look: On the Set”

FEATURETTES - “The Making of Malevolence 3: Killer”; “Composing the Score”

October 8, 2019

KUNG FU MONSTER and the Gizmosonic Spawn

Starring Louis Koo, Cheney Chen, Bea Hayden Kuo, Taili Wang, Bao Bei’er. Directed by Andrew Lau. (104 min)

Review by Stinky the Destroyer😾

For a movie titled Kung Fu Monster, there’s damn little of either. And that’s the least of its problems.

Though there’s plenty of fighting, it mostly consists of swordplay and a few characters who display unexplained supernatural abilities. A few martial arts mercenaries show up in the first act, but they’re essentially cannon fodder who are easily dispatched by a rolling ball of foliage.

As for the “monster”...if Gizmo from Gremlins and Sonic the Hedgehog ever mated, their offspring might look something like this. At least until it’s pissed off. Then it morphs into something one might see on an ‘80s heavy metal album cover. In either case, the creature is rendered by some of the worst CGI I’ve seen in recent memory. But despite the film's title, 'Gizmosonic' has relatively little screen time.

The perfect plushy for that nephew you can't stand.
What really kills the film is the story and its characters. Taking place during the Ming Dynasty, the great Louis Koo seriously slums – or collects a serious paycheck – as Ocean, a warrior who absconds with the evil emperor’s title creature, which he’s supposed to train as a vicious weapon. Instead, Ocean treats it kindly and the two become pals. Meanwhile, the emperor offers a huge reward for whoever can capture them both, bringing a variety of mercenaries out of the woodwork.

This is where things fall apart. Despite the ominous cover art & tag-line (“The hunt is on”), Kung Fu Monster is mostly played for laughs and Koo is essentially the straight-man to a collection of obnoxious buffoons. They bicker incessantly, engage in broad slapstick, deliver dialogue with the subtlety of a mallet and even break into song on occasion. None of it is even remotely funny or entertaining. Worst of all, these scenes are interminable, comprising most of the running time. It’s almost a relief when 'Gizmosonic' finally returns in the final act to remind us the film is supposed to be about a monster. Still no kung fu, though.

Kung Fu Monster reaches a point where it’s actually irritating. This is one of those movies where the cast and crew are clearly having a lot more fun than we are. It might amuse undiscriminating 12-year-olds, but most others will likely be insulted by the filmmakers’ apparent contempt for the audience’s intelligence. A depressing waste of time and talent.


October 6, 2019

HOUSES OF HELL: There Goes the Neighborhood

HOUSES OF HELL: 4 MOVIES (2008-2012)
American Horror House (2012), The Dunwich Horror (2008), House of Bones (2009), Mask Maker (2010). Various Directors. (354 min)

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

This DVD set from Mill Creek Entertainment collects a batch of derivative haunted house thrillers. Like other recent collections, all four films come courtesy of Active Entertainment, long-time purveyors of SyFy Channel schedule fillers. As usual, each features a recognizable face or two showing up to pay the bills, and if expectations are kept in check, a couple of them are sort-of enjoyable.

American Horror House is probably the best of the lot, which still doesn’t make it all that great, but at-least it appears to be trying. The basic premise is decent, though it’s ultimately a supernatural slasher film punctuated by some nifty death scenes. House of Bones trucks out every haunted house trope in the book, with the added bonus of Corin Nemic, whose goofy performance suggests he’s well-aware this ain’t exactly The Haunting. Still, the movie’s kinda fun.

For some, it takes only one lick to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.
On the other hand, The Dunwich Horror, another adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s story, is a colossal bore that wastes the talents of cult legend Jeffrey Combs. Finally, Mask Maker is more-or-less a Friday the 13th knock-off with a batch of obnoxious college kids providing the body count. Some familiar character actors pop-up here and there (what were you thinking, Treat Williams?), but gory kills are its only virtue.

Unless you’ve never seen a horror movie in your life, all four of these films are predictable to a fault and virtually fright-free. Still, House of Bones and American Horror House are watchable enough. The other two are strictly for undiscriminating die-hards. 


CRAWL: Reliable Reptiles

CRAWL (2019)
Starring Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Ross Anderson, Moryfydd Clark. Directed by Alexandre Aja. (87 min)

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

Using truth-in-advertising as a barometer, Crawl is the movie of the year.

I’d been pretty jazzed to see Crawl ever since the first trailer, being that it looked like a mash-up of my two favorite genres: disaster and killer animals. As fans of either genre will attest, such movies are either good, terrible or good because they're terrible. Crawl turns out to be a good one, partially because of its straight-forward approach – no Sharknado silliness - but mainly because it delivers exactly what it promises. There's something strangely reassuring about that.

Taking place in Florida during a hurricane, Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) is a collegiate swimmer who reluctantly returns home to look for her estranged father, Dave (Barry Pepper), because he isnt answering his phone. The town is already beginning to flood by the time she arrives. When she gets to the house, Haley learns why her dad didn’t return her calls: He’s stuck in the crawlspace below with serious injuries. She also discovers – the hard way – what injured him in the first place. Lurking under the house with them are a couple o’ big-ass alligators.

"No one tells me 'See ya later.'"
With the water rising, Haley and Dave need to get out, which is easier said than done. Not only are both of them hurt, their phones don’t work, the town is evacuated and hungry gators are everywhere, as a boatload of looters and some local cops fatally discover. This is all before the hurricane reaches full force. Then there’s Dave’s mangy mutt, Sugar, and goddamn if he isn’t just personable enough to have the viewer going Oh, no! Not the Dog!” every ten minutes or so.

None of it is very plausible, but it’s deftly directed by Alexandre Aja, who knows how to build suspense and put-together some great, well-timed jump-scares, most of which do not come when expected. He also knows a movie like this needs characters we care about for any of it to work. Most of the secondary cast is simply gator fodder, but Haley and Dave are sympathetic and likable, the complexities of their volatile relationship explored with a surprising amount of depth.

Crawl won’t make anyone forget Jaws, but it’s reliable fast-paced fun, with visual effects that are more-or-less convincing and a few great critter kills. At the very least, the film delivers exactly as-advertised. In that respect, I can’t imagine anyone walking away disappointed.

FEATURETTES - “Beneath Crawl” (a 30-minute making-of doc, featuring interviews and a lot of behind-the-scenes footage); “Category 5 Gators: The VFX of Crawl
ALLIGATOR ATTACKS” - A montage of every attack & kill in the film.
ALTERNATE OPENING – Never actually filmed, presented as a motion comic. They were wise not to go with this opening.