Godzilla Minus One (2023)

Rated PG-13 124 Minutes

I like a good knock down drag out monster brawl as much as anyone. I sit like a kid and giggle with glee at just about any fight between any giant monsters in any Godzilla movie. But what I saw in the theater, while attending a showing of Godzilla Minus One, was nothing short of brilliant! I honestly think that the fact that it isn't primarily a Godzilla movie makes it the best Godzilla movie of all time... and that's saying something.

Written and Directed by Takashi Yamazaki, Godzilla Minus One takes you to places no Godzilla film has gone. It is primarily a story of family and love. Godzilla, although a major one, is just a set piece - a time stamp in the movie that helps propel the story through its different stages in the main characters’ lives. There are sections of the film where you actually forget the type of movie you’re watching. But when the Monarch comes roaring back to the screen, you’re left with every bit of the satisfaction that you’re in a giant monster movie that totally kicks ass. It really is the best of both worlds for those audience members who love Godzilla movies, but get tired of the same old basic plot line. This, most certainly, is not your father’s Godzilla movie. But that’s a good thing. If you can see it in the theater, please do so. If not, sit in front of your big screen TV, grab a soda and chips and prepare to be wowed.

10 out of 10

The Devil's Candy (2015)

Rated NR 79 Minutes

This is one of those movies that surprised me in every way. Ethan Embry shines, playing a struggling artist and father who thinks he is succeeding at one but not the other and truly believes he’s failing at the wrong one. But, there isn’t a bad performance in the whole pack of leads. I loved the music. It still crashes into the walls of my skull if I’m in just the right mood. The writing and direction – both by Sean Byrne - is unflinching.

The few times I wanted to look away from the sheer violence of the movie, The Devil’s Candy and everyone involved wouldn’t let me. It forced me not only to watch, but to get absorbed in the characters - ALL of the characters!

Working alongside Embry, but never merely as supporting actors, are Pruitt Taylor Vince, from Season 2 of The Walking Dead, Shiri Appleby and the brilliant young actress, Kiara Glasco. The amazing part is that each of them get some real moments to dazzle us – and they do.

The only plot details I’ll give you are that a family finds the home of their dreams in rural Texas, moves in and soon regrets every single thing about the choices that were and are made. If you haven’t seen this one, you need to go in as cold as possible and just let the story take you where it will.

If you like your horror with a steel-hard edge, you won’t regret it.

8 out of 10

Maggie (2015)

Rated R 95 Minutes

What if I told you that, eight years ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger made a zombie apocalypse movie? Well, he did, and it is great! But, I promise you, it’s far from what you think it is.

“Maggie” is artfully directed by Henry Hobson and beautifully written by John Scott 3. It stars Abigail Breslin and Joely Richardson (who eerily reminds me of Candace Hilligoss), with Schwarzenegger rounding out the three leads. And while each actor in this film truly shines, it’s Arnold who plays against type and absolutely kills it. I think it might be his best acting performance. I know it’s my favorite role of his. And I’m talking as someone who, more times than not, really likes Arnold and his movies.

The make-up, courtesy of a whole slew of talented professionals, is subtle but absolutely pitch-perfect for a movie of this nature. And the mood, set by Director Of Photography Lucas Ettlin, is spot-on in every conceivable way.

Per usual, I’m not going to go far into the plot. But I will say that while it does categorize as a zombie apocalypse movie, in that there are zombies and the outbreak appears to be going on all over the place, this is far from your typical humans-vs-zombie-horde flick. "Maggie" is an extremely personal story – one that had me in tears a few times. It’s a beautiful film in visuals, dialogue, performances and theme and should not be missed by any true horror fan.

8 out of 10

7 out of 10

The Autopsy Of Jane Doe (2016)

Rated R 86 Minutes

     “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” is a wonderfully frightful spook story, but without the grounding performances of two excellent lead actors, the film wouldn’t have had the punch it needed to carry it across the goal line.

     Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play a father and son who work at the family’s place of business: a morgue, which is where 82 of the 86 minutes of this movie take place. The film opens in one of the only scenes outside of the morgue, as local police comb through a house filled with a dead family; each bashed to bits. But it gets really weird when they check out the basement and find the body of a naked woman half-buried in the dirt floor. And while everyone else has been savaged, “Jane Doe” doesn’t have a mark on her.

     Director André Øvredal excels at making use of every darkened corner and each arthritic creak of the aging morgue. The music is tense, the atmosphere is so thick it drips, every second of the time we are in that old building. And although there are really strong performances by the few co-stars, this is The Cox & Hirsch Show. I can’t imagine you will find stronger performances in a twenty-first century film, at least up to this point.

     If you haven’t seen this one, please do yourselves the favor. I watch it often and ALWAYS the week of Halloween. I wouldn’t have it any other way – and neither would Jane Doe.

 You only have an hour, or so, to live and you just met the love of your life. How are you going to spend the rest of your time on Earth? Director/Writer Steve DeJarnatt's masterwork, "Miracle Mile" attempts to answer that near-impossible dilemma and succeeds, brilliantly.

The film stars Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham and boasts a sensational supporting cast of faces you've probably seen before.

This is one of those rare films that refuses to be placed comfortably within a genre. It is, at times, funny, beautiful, ugly, gripping, sad, scary, whimsical... But it's a safe bet that it belongs on these pages. It's rare to have a film that is, all at once light and dark, in both hue and mood.

The music, by Tangerine Dream, is everything one of their scores always is; sweet and laid back when it needs to be, but it can ramp up to a pulse-pounding rate in seconds. In fact, I rank it right up there with their scores for Thief, The Keep and Sorcerer.

You're going to want to go into this one as cold as possible. And because of that, I'm not going to give you any more of the plot than I already have.

Kino Lorber has done its usual bang-up job - especially when you consider that this one was tougher to find than a tick on a Sheep Dog, for a whole bunch of years. Now that you finally have the chance to see it, do so. 

Miracle Mile (1989)

Rated R 87 Minutes

8 out of 10