As I sat watching Mike Flanagan’s “Oculus,” I kept thinking back to Brotman’s Law of Film, which states that if nothing happens by the end of the first reel, nothing is going to happen.  That bit of wisdom, coined by Chicago movie exhibitor Oscar Brotman as a barometer to tell you when you’re in for a bomb of a flick, was first introduced to me through the writings of the late Roger Ebert many years ago.  Unfortunately, Ebert never told me what to expect when nothing happens by the end of the final reel.  Here we have what is essentially a film built on anRead More →

(Note: I was fortunate to catch the stunning 40th anniversary print of this horror classic, presented by Cinefamily in Los Angeles and Dark Sky Films.  This is the very best you will ever see this movie look.  If you have a chance to see the restoration in a theater, do not hesitate to go.)   I’ve seen “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”  Countless viewings over the past three decades have left me with a deep appreciation of its style and tone, its seamless blending of the Grand Guinol, unbridled horror, and a twisted sense of humor.  This is not a film with which I am unfamiliar,Read More →

“Have you ever wanted something so badly, you’d be willing to do anything for it?” That’s the central question posed by the aspiring actress, Patti, in Richard Ciupka’s 1983 slasher mystery, “Curtains.”  When the line comes early in the film, Patti is feeding clunky one-liners to drunks in the smoky nether regions of a local comedy club.  She tells her audience that she’s only ever wanted to be in the movies (“I was so desperate to be in pictures, I screwed a guy at a PhotoMat”), and now she may finally get her chance: she and five other actresses are about to duke it outRead More →

James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” is the rarest sort of achievement, a spectacular summer entertainment that’s as exciting as “Stars Wars,” as subversive as “Heavy Metal,” and as goofy as countless Roger Corman space romps.  It also happens to be smart, wickedly funny, sweet in a way that seems new to the Marvel movie universe, and just about the best example of family entertainment to come along in some time. A prologue informs us that young Peter Quill was snatched unceremoniously from the jaws of earth by a giant spaceship in the year 1988, a time when cassette mix tapes could still be foundRead More →