(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we dye our hair, throw on something from our bff’s closet, and get totally basic with the sequel to Single White Female.)

Single White Female opened in late summer of 1992 to become a modest hit – $48 million on a $16 million budget – and it went on to enter the pop culture lexicon as shorthand for a stalker, complete with a spoof on Saturday Night Live and a reference in the show Psych. It’s a solid, sexy thriller that satisfies even if it doesn’t wow, and if you’ve seen the film you know it’s not exactly one begging for a sequel. Nothing about it needed to continue, but for some people, that itself is a reason to continue.

So 13 years later, it did just that in the form of a direct-to-video sequel in name only. It’s only natural to wonder if the sequel tells a similar story about a female psycho obsessing over another woman, and I’m happy to report that it does indeed. There’s no pesky original plot to worry about here, and the filmmakers double down on their commitment to the bit by calling it Single White Female 2: The Psycho. It’s essentially the same as saying The Psycho 2: The Psycho, but hey, redundancy has its purposes.

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Human Hybrid Movies

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. In this edition, we mix it up with a look at movies featuring people who cross their DNA streams with non-people, with typically unfortunate results.)

I’m always eyeballs deep in genre movies, but with The Meg opening this weekend I’ve been digging into animal-related horror films a bit more. One of the best mentioned throughout my online travels is David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986) starring Jeff Goldblum as a scientist turned Brundlefly. It’s a phenomenal movie – horrifying, emotional grim, and utterly disgusting at times – and it got me thinking about other movies featuring some manner of human/? hybrids. The hybrid element can be anything from animal to vegetable to mineral, and it can be accomplished genetically (Splice), surgically (Tusk), through good old-fashioned fornication (Species), or even via a bite ,as werewolves and vampires are technically hybrids too.

The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977, 1996) is probably the most well-known with its island of lost souls howling their half human/half animal hearts out through the jungle, but plenty more have appeared on screen with decidedly less fanfare and staying power. The premise of people being enhanced, lessened, or changed altogether with the addition of some other form of life is an intriguing one, but I’m also the guy who enjoys Manimal and Automan – both short-lived TV series from 1983 featuring hybrid heroes – so maybe it’s just my own questionable tastes. Let’s find out together, shall we?

Keep reading for a look at some of the best movies you haven’t seen featuring human/something hybrids!

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the meg international trailer

The Meg opens this Friday, and if you’re not even a little bit excited about it, I have to wonder what it is you’re doing with your life. It’s about Jason Statham fighting a giant shark and is directed by the guy who made While You Were Sleeping (1995). How is this not amazing to you?! The movie promises a fun time for fans of water sports and sharp teeth, and while the film and its source novel are heavily influenced by Jaws (1975), they belong to a sub-genre predating Steven Spielberg’s summer classic that we’ll call Giant Animal Attacks – or GAA! for short.

Technically speaking, that could include films as diverse as Godzilla (1954) or Tremors (1990), but in an effort to avoid the usual suspects, I’m going to narrow the field a bit with three simple qualifications if they’re going to be mentioned here. One, they need to be current, real-world animals changed only in size, meaning no fictional monsters or extinct beasts. All due respect to dinosaur classics from The Lost World (1925) to Jurassic Park (1993), but they’re out. (And no, this rule wouldn’t eliminate The Meg as megalodons are definitely 100% still swimming around today.) Two, they need to actually be “giant” in relation to their normal size. Slightly bigger than normal just isn’t good enough, and this leaves me with a few judgment calls to make including having to decide if a Great White shark off Martha’s Vineyard measuring a mere five feet beyond the species’ previously thought maximum length counts as giant. And three, they should be the aggressor. Sorry Mighty Joe Young (1949).

Keep reading for a brief history of this very specific sub-genre along with a highly opinionated look at the most entertaining giant animal attack movies!

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(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we stop in for a drink and a bar fight with the sequel to a Patrick Swayze classic.)

If you’re like me, when someone mentions Patrick Swayze the odds are you think immediately of a single movie – Donnie Darko (2001). But while that’s guaranteed to be the first title to hit your brain there are numerous others waiting in the wings including The Outsiders (1983), Red Dawn (1984), Dirty Dancing (1987), Ghost (1990), Point Break (1991), and To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995) just to name a few. He was never less than an engaging performer, and while he passed away in 2009 he lives on through these titles and more. That’s the good news.

Three of his films were followed up by unexceptional sequels, and we’re here to talk about the best of the bunch. (Please don’t get your hopes up by my use of the word “best” as it’s a relative term.) 1989’s Road House is a cable mainstay and an eternally fun romp of old-school action/revenge, but its 2006 DTV sequel Road House 2: Last Call is neither of those things. It’s deceptively entertaining, though, as some solid action beats and a short running time combine to deliver minor thrills in a short amount of time. Not sold yet?! Keep reading!

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The Best Faux-Documentaries You’ve Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. In this edition, we explore movies that pretend to be true despite clearly not being true unless they’re actually true?!)

Documentaries are snapshots of real life and narrative films tell stories (true or otherwise) in fictional form, but resting somewhere in between the two sits the faux-documentary. They come in all manner of shapes, sizes, and genres, but the overwhelming majority seem to be comedies. From This Is Spinal Tap (1984) to Best in Show (2000), reality gets mocked quite a bit – hence the term mockumentary – but there are serious ones too including Punishment Park (1971) and Death of a President (2006).

There are also horror-themed ones including Noroi: The Curse (2005) and The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) though they’re often lumped incorrectly in with found footage films. Incorrectly because while found footage is exactly that – footage that’s been supposedly discovered and presented as is (hence the usual long, dull build-up to the final minutes where something frightening actually happens) – fake docs are properly edited for official release, include interviews, and feature music scores.

Keep reading for a look at six great “documentaries” you probably haven’t seen.

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‘Slap Shot’ Sequels Are 0 for 2

(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we take a look at two belated sequels to a classic goon-filled sports movie from the 70s.)

I’m in Canada this week for a film festival, so when it came time to pick a DTV sequel to cover the only real choice was something Canadian. And what’s more Canadian than hockey? That’s not rhetorical, I really don’t know. I’m a tennis guy — it’s the only sport I can stomach playing or watching — so sports movies aren’t typically my scene, but there are plenty that deliver the goods alongside their on-the-field/court/rink antics. One example? 1977’s Slap Shot.

The film is ridiculously funny and even more crass, and while it wasn’t a big hit in theaters it’s only grown in cult-classic status in the decades since. Twenty-five years after its premiere the brain trust at Universal Pictures Home Entertainment decided it could be milked for some quick straight-to-DVD dollars and released two DTV sequels. The first is an attempt to ape the original’s R-rated fun, and the second? A PG-rated teen movie. That’s PG. It’s not even PG-13. Have the suits at Universal even seen Slap Shot?! Madness.

Keep reading for a look at Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice (2002) and Slap Shot 3: The Junior League (2008).

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Quick, what’s your favorite action franchise (two films or more) starring a black lead? Without knowing your exact pick, I’m going to do a little prognosticating and guess that you’ve gone with an action/comedy. If I’m wrong, it’s either because you’re old and have chosen something from the ’70s or you’ve picked Blade.

This week’s biggest new release sees the return of Denzel Washington’s Robert McCall in The Equalizer 2, and not only is that good news for action fans – the movie’s a solid character piece punctuated with thrilling action beats – it’s also something of a milestone for black-led action franchises. While there’s no rarity of action movies with black leads, even a cursory look at the ones that spawned sequels over the past 30 years reveals something odd.

They’re all action/comedies.

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The Best Kidnapping Movies You’ve Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. In this edition, we’re stealing your time with a look at good movies about bad abductions.)

There are no “good” abductions, of course, but sometimes you’re compelled to use an adjective. It’s not fun, but as compulsions go there are far, far worse examples. Like being compelled by force to go with someone who plans on holding you prisoner until your loved ones pay a hefty ransom for your safe return. Kidnappings and abductions are horrifying to consider in the real world, but the trauma, suspense, and terror sure can make for some stellar cinema.

To clarify, we’re talking strictly about movies involving kidnappings for ransom, so while Misery (1990) is a brilliant movie (and too well-known for this column anyway), it doesn’t fit the category as Annie Wilkes wants no ransom and has no intention of returning Paul Sheldon back to his normal life. Think movies like High and Low (1963), Fargo (1996), and Taken (2009), and then think about the ones that aren’t already beloved by you and millions of other movie-lovers around the world.

Keep reading for a look at six good to great movies about kidnappings and abductions that you’ve probably never seen and that are ripe to steal a little bit of your time.

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american psycho 2

(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. In this edition, we find out what happens after Patrick Bateman realized he would never be caught or made to pay for his crimes.)

The poster for 2002’s American Psycho II: All American Girl promises a killer who’s angrier, deadlier, and sexier, but not only does it fail to deliver on all three it also fails to understand that none of those adjectives speak to the appeal of its predecessor. American Psycho (2000) is a time-capsule by design, capturing the excess of the 1980s through the eyes, words, and severely damaged imagination of one of its apparent “winners.” Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman has everything he could want, including an ax to grind against those who annoy him, disappoint him, or simply cross his path at the wrong time. But while the film focuses on one man, the story being told is about something much bigger.

The direct-to-video sequel is about a girl who really wants a professor to pick her as next semester’s TA.

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The Best Canadian Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. In this edition, we look towards our neighbors to the north for some chilly tales of terror.)

2018’s only half over, but it’s already been a pretty fantastic year at the movies for horror fans. One of the best and creepiest is Adam MacDonald’s Backcountry follow-up, Pyewacket, which is as terrifying a feature as you’re likely to find from an otherwise polite and kind-hearted Canadian filmmaker. Canadians are a humble people and don’t often brag about their accomplishments, but the country has gifted us with numerous horror gems over the years including acknowledged classics (Black Christmas, The Changeling), slasher favorites (Happy Birthday to Me, My Bloody Valentine), early David Cronenberg flicks (The Brood, Shivers), and ridiculous cult favorites (Cathy’s Curse, The Pit).

There are plenty more where they came from – the country’s filmmakers didn’t earn the Canuxploitation label for nothing – and in the spirit of this very bi-weekly column, I thought I’d point you in the direction of a few films that aren’t talked about nearly enough. Keep reading for a look at six of the best Canadian horror movies you probably haven’t seen.

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