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Page last updated:
2017-05-20
Most movie-reviewers drone on about "symbolism" and "visual style" and "composition," but the films I watch don't have those things. Really, what ya want to know is what's worth watching and what's garbage—and ya want to know quickly. So, this PopCultureShack.com column is dedicated to mini-reviews of things that have graced my TV screen as of late, for better or worse.
Home Page and Special Features
Wisdom from the Double-Wide
Totally Twisted Video Review
Cute Guy Gallery
Babs Tells It Like It Is
My Li'l Corner of Hell
Mr. Grouchy vs. the Business Bozos
Dallas Health Inspection Horrors
Two Minutes of Ecstasy

What's There to Do in Dallas?
It's a "Gay" Thing
The Rest of this Mess
I Think the TV's Talkin' to Me!
Write Me!
The Abandoned
(2006)
[R]


Horror
Who's in it: Anastasia Hille, Karel Roden

The Plot (straight-up): Marie inherits a Russian home where she lived as a baby before moving to America. The bad news is that it's a creepy wreck in the middle of nowhere that is filled with zombies. There's only one way to get to the home, and that's a bridge which you just know will collapse at that point; additionally, the home is surrounded by water on all sides, and Marie doesn't know how to swim. As the story progresses, we learn the dark secret behind the house and her parents, as she eagerly tries to escape. But, will it be too late for her to find her way to freedom, alive?

The Take: Relatively suspenseful, with some beautiful photography and great special effects involving the house. There are a couple of rather nasty scenes that will make you want to turn away. Perhaps it's more in the "Thriller" category than a horror film, but it works either way. There's also a weird plot twist involving killing the zombies that you won't anticipate. Worth a rental if you have the time.

The Dish: Although set in Russia, this flick was actually filmed in Bulgaria, largely inside a film set which looks effectively like a real house. The director/co-writer is Nacho Serda, a Spaniard who has made a few extremely gory flicks and who takes a turn into the suspense genre with this film. Actress Anastasia Hille is particularly effective and believable, and substitutes her native British accent for an America one.

What ya get:
*Number of nekkid women in the film: 1
*Number of undead bodies in the film: 2
*Number of dead bodies in the film: 3
*Number of freakish attacks by hogs: 2

The Rating (out of 5):Thumbs upThumbs upThumbs up
Cyclone
(1978)
[NR]


Action

Horror

Who's in it: Arthur Kennedy, Carroll Baker, Lionel Stander

The Plot (straight-up): Folks on a fishing vessel, a tourist boat, and a plane are all prisoners of the ocean after a cyclone wipes out their forms of transportation. With time ticking away, no food and little water, and hungry sharks circling, will they find a way to be rescued?

The Take: This partially-dubbed Mexican and Italian co-production manages to drag a bit at 113 minutes, which makes you root for the sharks. But, we have our usual bunch of suspects: A rich businessman who thinks of no one but himself, a pregnant woman who's about to pop, a religion-spouting priest who has a one-way connection to God, a lady with a dog, some injured passengers who are facing death, and a few assorted children.

So, what do you do when you're hungry and there doesn't seem to be an impending rescue? Why, you cut up one of the dead and make yourself some jerky! (Brings a whole new meaning to, "You want a piece of me?") Despite the lack of water, we never quite progress to the part where it has to be, erm, "recycled". And no, there's no baby-eating here. (This is a family film.)

The 1970s was a time for disasters, what with The Poseidon Adventure, Avalanche, The Towering Inferno, multiple Airport flicks, Earthquake, The Cassandra Crossing, and Jimmy Carter. How did we ever survive?

What ya get:
*Number of dead bodies: 17
*Number of fake dogs killed for bait: 1
*Number of simulated childbirths: 1
*Number of dead bodies served up for lunch: 1

The Rating (out of 5): Thumbs upThumbs upThumbs up

No Way Back
(1990)
[R]


Drama
Who's in it: Campbell Scott, Virginia Lantry

The Plot (straight-up): Fletcher and his friend Joe are out in the woods on a hunting trip when they encounter a group of hillbilly men who finish quickly finish Joe off and seriously injure Fletcher. Fletcher escapes to a house where he's taken care of by Hallie, a young woman, in a shack with her brother and father. The hillbillies are on a mission, however, and they don't want Fletcher to escape alive. And as romance blossoms between Fletcher and Hallie, Fletcher's not so sure he wants to leave, either.

The Take: Since this movie was released by Troma, you'd anticipate that it would be full of action, gore, and general sleaze. Expect to be disappointed (and quite a bit drowsy). Although it's promoted as a horror flick similar to Deliverance, it instead turns out to be a dreary drama along the lines of Little House on the Prairie, but without catty Ellie Olson or her evil mother Harriet. (It's as dull as PBS's American Playhouse series, but with a rating that leads you to believe that it has some level of edginess. Let me tell ya--that blade needs some sharpening.)

Things worth knowing before you waste your time:
*Number of naked folks in the film: 0
*Number of minutes before you figure out the trick ending: 5
*Number of times I smacked myself for watching the entire thing: Too high to count

The Rating (out of 5): Thumbs upThumbs up