Category Archives: Leave it

Movies I wish I had skipped. This could be for any number of reasons: the film was made sloppily, the narrative didn’t engage me, or I simply could not connect with the film in any way for whatever reason.

The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Vampires Suck (2010), The Starving Games (2013)

This is the fifth installment in “The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-Handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre.”

In this penultimate installment, we will examine two of the late career parodies of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer: Vampires Suck and The Starving Games. As I see it, Friedberg and Seltzer’s career can be separated into two distinct phases. There are two reasons why I think about it this way.

For one, there is an easy delineation one could make between the writers’ 2000s output and their 2010s output. As I outlined in previous articles, the 2000s saw a healthy resurgence of the spoof movie, but by the end of the decade it was starting to become clear that the poor quality of these films were catching up with them. Through the 2010s, parody films grew increasingly less popular at the box office.

As such, Vampires Suck serves as a crucial turning point in Friedberg and Seltzer’s career. It was the last of their films to Continue reading The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: Vampires Suck (2010), The Starving Games (2013)

The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-Handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre

This is installment one in “The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre.” The series, a career retrospective on the works of parody film writer-directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, aims to put their heavily maligned work into perspective. Why were their films equally successful and hated? And why did the pair disappear from Hollywood? Moreover, can anything good be said for the directors, whose films are widely considered to be some of the worst of all time.

Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer achieved their first credit as a writing team on Spy Hard, the 1996 Leslie Nielsen espionage spoof. Their names appeared in the credits for the hit horror parody Scary Movie. Then, they went on to write and direct some of the worst comedy movies of the 21st century. Date Movie. Epic Movie. Disaster Movie. Meet the Spartans. Vampires Suck. The Starving Games.

Let’s not dwell on these parody clunkers, though. Not yet, at least. Let’s begin with Scary Movie, a very successful film that had a hand in reinvigorating the parody genre for a new generation. It launched a franchise. It launched the career of Anna Faris. It was truly influential in steering the broad comedy into the 21st century, at least in the short term.

Scary Movie was an ambitious pitch. Not because it was a parody of the entire slasher genre with the audacity of having a name as blunt as Scary Movie. But because it is a beat-for-beat broad comedy re-enactment of Scream, which had already Continue reading The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-Handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre

Glorious (2022) Movie Review

Imagine being trapped in a road stop bathroom with a Lovecraftian creature that has the voice of J.K. Simmons. Congratulations, you have found yourself in Glorious, the cosmic horror indie where there’s no toilet paper or paper towels but enough gooey surprises to satisfy some.

Rebekah McKendry’s film cloaks a character drama underneath the cosmic tellings of its mysterious visitor (whose name is as difficult to spell as it is for protagonist Wes to say, so I’ll just hold my tongue). As the ethereal mythology of Simmons’ creature is divulged, Wes (Ryan Kwanten) is weighed down by memories of his ex-wife. All the while, Wes must decide whether to continue trying to escape or help the thing on the other side of the stall door.

The first act of Glorious comes off like a character trying to have a conversation with Continue reading Glorious (2022) Movie Review

Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022) Movie Review

Bodies Bodies Bodies, on its surface, is a movie I should instantly fall in love with. It is a light horror comedy riff on the whodunit with a cast so stacked with great young talent that I almost couldn’t believe it when it was announced. Drop the cherry on top that it is an A24 picture, and my fears that this was a half-thought-out satire churned out as a genre programmer went out the window.

Churned out genre programmer Bodies Bodies Bodies is not. As for the satire, I must admit I was unimpressed. Early buzz from critics and audiences alike is Continue reading Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022) Movie Review

2022 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Megalomaniac, Incredible But True, The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra

Megalomaniac, The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra and Incredible But True are screening as part of the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival, which runs from July 14 – August 3.

Megalomaniac

Megalomaniac is the bleakest film I’ve seen at this year’s Fantasia (and I also watched Speak No Evil, so that’s a high bar to clear). In the case of Speak No Evil, I could better stomach the Continue reading 2022 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Megalomaniac, Incredible But True, The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra

Review: Punta Sinistra — Fantasia Festival 2022

Director Renaud Gauthier came into my radar with the 2019 film Aquaslash, a bare-bones slasher film taking place in a water park where a serial killer has inserted large blades inside of a water slide. It appeared to me that Aquaslash was the sort of movie that hearkened back lovingly to the B-movie slashers of the day. The problem was that the film was not well-made in its own right, so instead of coming off as a B-movie homage it came off as a purposeful attempt at the “so bad it’s good” variety (emphasis on the bad). At the very least, Aquaslash was good for a few cheap laughs.

Gauthier’s newest feature, Punta Sinistra, is an ultra low-budget crime film set in Mexico. From its protagonist’s half-baked voiceover, it feels like Gauthier is going for a neo-noir vibe. This hero, a journalist from Canada, travels to the island of “Punta Sinistra” to investigate a Continue reading Review: Punta Sinistra — Fantasia Festival 2022

2022 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Swallowed, Special Delivery, Employee of the Month

Swallowed, Special Delivery, and Employee of the Month are screening as part of the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival, which runs July 14 – August 3.

Swallowed

Benjamin (Cooper Koch) is moving away to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the adult entertainment industry. During their final night together, he and his best friend Dom (Jose Colon) tie one on, culminating in a surprise Continue reading 2022 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Swallowed, Special Delivery, Employee of the Month

Crimes of the Future (2022) Movie Review

The near-future of Crimes of the Future is marked by the progression of medical technology. And the progression of human evolution in the form of biological mutations. For some, vestigial organs and appendages serve as performance art pieces. Inner beauty takes on new meaning in a world like this. Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and Caprice (Lea Seydoux) have grown a reputation in the art world by performing live surgeries, during which Caprice removes useless organs which Tenser’s body spontaneously produces.

It is also implied that, in this future, “surgery is the new sex.” People’s tolerance for pain has drastically increased. Tenser remains wide awake as Caprice uses a mechanical autopsy machine to open his Continue reading Crimes of the Future (2022) Movie Review

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) Movie Review

In my review for Spider-Man: No Way Home, I didn’t call it superhero fatigue that fueled my lack of enthusiasm for Marvel. It was ambivalence. No greater evidence do I need for this ambivalence than meeting the trailer for a movie directed by Sam Raimi, one of my favorite directors, called Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness with a resolute shrug of the shoulders.

The very premise of this movie should boggle the mind. A superhero sorcerer from Marvel comics with a sentient cape and a young woman trying to control her power to jump between universes are tasked with stopping Continue reading Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) Movie Review

Deep Water (2022) Movie Review

Deep Water, following a rocky release schedule hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic, finally landed on Hulu this weekend. It is a less-than steamy erotic thriller from Adrian Lyne, a director known for his work in the genre (most notably the 1987 film Fatal Attraction). The film is Lyne’s first crack at directing in 20 years, and it stars former couple Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck as spouses whose marriage is on the rocks.

Vic (Affleck), a retired microchip engineer, has tolerated a tacit agreement with Melinda (de Armas) in which she escapes their passionless marriage by making “friends” with a few local bachelors. Her flirtations and flings are Continue reading Deep Water (2022) Movie Review