I've been very fortunate these past two weeks or so on viewing some terrific fare on DVD, due to the recommendations of Axis members.
[b]I, Madman[/b] - deliriously campy fantasy horror sporting a light Lovecraftian universe, somewhat akin to the little seen [i]Cast a Deadly Spell[/i], with a villian who seems to be the spiritual brother of Darkman and The Shadow. It's topped off with some strong makeup effects contrasting howlingly bad special effects on some stop-motion sequences, you can literally see [i]strings[/i] attached to the figurines. Yes, it's [i]that[/i] kind of film, and despite that or maybe because of it entertaining. A strong love of "80s cheese," as Mr MASSIVE would say, is required.
[b]Ginger Snaps[/b] - part [i]American Werewolf in London[/i] and part [i]Heathers[/i], it takes a somewhat fresh angle on the werewolf mythos and combines it with a wry, acerbic sense of humor and a certain amount of teenage-angst driven comedy. The final act abandons the characters and most of the developed themes in favor of a rather by-the-numbers 'action-packed,' as they say, finale, but it's worth a view for the first hour alone. I eagerly anticipate a view of the sequel, already released, I believe, in Canada.
[b]Three O'Clock High[/b] - One of the best teen-comedies I have ever viewed, with one of the tighest scripts I have come across since [i]The Apartment[/i] every scene moves the story forward and increases the tension, with not one bit wasted. A few surprising turns add to the fun and I found myself literally cheering out loud at the climax. I seem to remember this 'falling under the radar,' as they say, at the time of its release, which is a danged shame. Although it doesn't have the sensitive character depth of a John Hughes film from that same era, it easily stands in their company and outshines them all in terms of pure story. I just may have to purchase this one.
[b]Pumpkinhead[/b] - A recent re-viewing has changed my opinion of this film completely; I was surprised to find a strong amount of character depth, a compelling start, as well as multiple character driven conflicts throughout. The level of writing here is stronger than most of the horror films. Unfortunately, as with [i]Ginger Snaps[/i], the film lacks 'the courage of its convictions,' as they say, and opts for a more action-oriented climax, which undermines several interesting themes it spent a great deal of time developing. It wants to be a pure dramatic tragedy, but misses the mark and feels as if the filmmakers wrote themselves into a corner and didn't know how to get out of it. Despite this, and my desire to see a remake with a re-written third act, it's still one of the more intelligent modern horror films, and worth a view if you're a horror fanatic.