The Beast of Love (Spring, 2014)

spring_posterEvan (Lou Taylor Pucci) is witnessing his life collapse…a friend suggest he pretty much run away, he runs off to Italy.  When he arrives in a small town, he fines himself drawn to Louise (Nadia Hilker), a beautiful resident.  She initially offers the promise of a fun night of sex, and keeps pushing Evan away when he asks for actual dates.  After a time she relents and they begin a fun relationship.  Louise has a dark and deep secret.

Spring is a romantic tale with horror elements.  When Evan discovers the dark reality of Louise, he is terrified, angry and yet still drawn to her.  As she tries to explain who and what she is, he is unwilling to hear it…but hen finds himself feeling the desire to continue on with her.  The film hinges on the time that follows changing Louis is one of two ways.  Either she will be made fully human…or she will become something new.  Will she truly love Evan?  Will she never love him and then place Evan in danger when she changes.

The film plays with the notion that she is something natural, rather than supernatural.  She is not any typical kind of monster, sometime she is reptilian, sometimes wolf like and so on.  It creates a unique mystery. The effects are primarily practical and look great.

Louise is alluring and mysterious. Hilker and Pucci have a real solid chemistry that draws the viewer in.  The visuals (filmed in Italy) are powerfully beautiful.  The settings that Louise and Evan traverse through are engaging on their own.

Directors Justin Benson (also the writer) and Aaron Moorhead are proving themselves skilled filmmakers who make strong films with genre touches that expand on the themes that are driving the film.  Their previous film is the critical but unseen Resolution.  Spring is a thoughtful romance that uses horror touches to explore the travails of growing love.

Finally, the film has a beautiful and simple score that is both hypnotic and emotional by Jimmy Lavalle.

Superman’s Infinite Rage (Vandetta, 2015)

vendetta-posterDean Cain is known for playing upright and noble types.  He played Superman for four seasons on Lois and Clark: The Adventures of Superman.  He has played police officers, angels and generally good guys.  The Soska Sisters (Jen and Sylvia) are known for gritty horror films.  Together (and with comic book writer Justin Shady) they give us a dark tale of the noble hero who walks away from his nobility and seeks revenge, going to great extremes.

Mason Danvers (Cain) and partner Joel (Ben Hollingsworth) capture Hardcore Criminal Victor Abbot (wrestler Paul Wight) and his brother.  They are released on a technicality, and Abbott cannot help himself and kill’s Mason’s pregnant wife.  Mason engineers to get himself into the prison where Abbott is serving his time for murder…by murdering Abbott’s brother.  In lesser hands, this would be a dreadfully dull and typical revenge flick set in prison (and there are a few).

The Soska sisters have a great eye and use perspective to great effect, and make the most of Cain visually.  He gives a strong performance as well.  Cain seems to relish this opportunity to be so out of character.  He is intense, and as he works his way through the prison inmates, he just gets more and more intense.  Wight’s performance is decent enough as a heavy, but what really stands out?  His size.  And the Soskas know how to frame him in camera to look like a house compared to Cain.  Seriously, there are time where Dean looks like an action figure next to Wight.

The standout performance, to me anyways, is Michael Eklund as Warden Snyder.  Snyder has mutually beneficial working relationships with the inmates, and he does not appear to be intimidated by them at all.  Unlike the Warden in Shawshank Redemption, he has no illusions of moral high ground over the inmates.  And this makes him a dark and creepy dude.

Make no mistake, while this is not a horror movie, it is a very bloody bloody and intense film.  But for action fans who are not to squeamish should really enjoy this.

War Comes Home (Rambo, 2008)

first_blood_4_posterAfter Rocky Balboa started Stallone on a comeback trail, he sought to revisit John Rambo.  This seemed a bit more far fetched and almost funny.  And yet, choosing to Direct John Rambo for the first time, Stallone managed to marry the different tones of the franchise.  Not only did it work?  Rambo is a pretty solid action movie.

Opening with Rambo yet again in a self imposed exile (this time in Thailand).  He is approached by some missionaries who are looking to get some associates out of Burma.  Initially he refuses, but when they try without him, he ends up being unable to ignore them.

Stallone is so buff in this film (20 years after Rambo III) it almost challenges the very serious tone of the film.  He was muscular in the previous films, here he is immense.  But Stallone really brings back the shattered John Rambo who is struggling to find peace.  And it is quite well done.

This is an ultra violent film, to the point the previous films seem somewhat soft.  Rambo still manages to be a one man army, blowing through the opposition with little effective resistance.  And yet, in spite of the extensive violence, Stallone give us a Rambo to root for.  He manages to do so in a way that makes you forget just how implausible his actions are, instead you can sit back and just follow Rambo on his adventure, hope he saves the missionaries and gets away.  The film mostly ignores the two prior sequels (as Rocky Balboa did with the Rocky films) and works nicely as a direct sequel to First Blood.

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