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John Allman

If you’ve ever wandered the aisles at the video store or surfed the DVR pay-per-view options and seen a bunch of movies that you’ve never heard of, chances are John has watched them. Why? He loves movies. All kinds of movies. Good, bad, so-bad-they’re good, even the truly unwatchable ones. He mostly loves horror and science-fiction and drive-in exploitation movies that most upstanding model citizens wouldn’t dare watch. Then he writes up his thoughts so you can decide - watch, don’t watch or avoid at all costs. Sometimes he even gets to talk to the cool folks who make some of your favorite films.

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New Releases for Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Posted Jul 21, 2012 by John Allman

Updated Jul 21, 2012 at 07:04 PM

What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:

Genre: Action/Space
Directed by: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Run time: 95 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Format: Blu-Ray

The Lowdown: It makes sense. After all, it has been 30 years.

Why someone hadn’t attempted to remake John Carpenter’s seminal genre masterpiece, “Escape from New York,” before now is a question, when seriously pondered, that does seem odd. I mean, they’ve remade so many other, lesser films. And Snake Plissken remains one of the all-time greatest movie badasses ever concocted.

Luc Besson obviously knows this. The prolific French writer/producer/occasional director, who seems to have his name on a new over-the-top action movie in theaters every six months, penned the story that serves as the plot of “Lockout,” but don’t be fooled into thinking that Besson came up with an original idea.

“Lockout” is “Escape from New York” – only it’s set in space.

Snake Plissken is now Snow, just Snow, although he has a funny first name that’s not revealed until the end of the film. And Snow isn’t played by Kurt Russell with a screwed-tight jaw and seriously bad attitude. Snow is played by Guy Pearce with 101 quips for every occasion, whether facing certain death or wooing the daughter of the POTUS.

That’s right, “Lockout” also has a member of the presidential family in jeopardy. Only it’s his daughter, not the actual president. And she’s played by Maggie Grace, not Donald Pleasance.

Crazy, violent criminals? Yep, “Lockout” has those too. Only instead of having isolated the island of Manhattan as a prison to contain the worst of the worst, the U.S. has created a giant maximum security prison in space, where all the murderers, rapists and serial killers are cryogenically frozen. But they can be thawed whenever the prison wants, which is convenient.

And the prison officials may be experimenting on the inmates, but that subplot is just briefly introduced and then abandoned altogether.

Oh, and the U.S. also has an orbiting police station in space, and police cars that look like F-16 jets.

But that’s not really important because no one bothers to spend much time explaining how and when we mastered intergalactic travel and such.

What is important is that “Lockout” so closely mirrors “Escape from New York” that you can make a drinking game out of it.

Looking for “Brain”? Here, he’s called “Mace.”

Want to see “The Duke”? There’s two big bads in “Lockout,” brothers called Alex and Hydell, although neither is as infinitely cool as Isaac Hayes.

Wondering if there’s some super secret, potentially damaging to the government, recording or document that Snake, er Snow, must retrieve? Take a big drink, sucker, because there is.

Will Snake, er Snow, walk off into the end credits unspooling the cassette tape with the President’s speech on it, chuckling to himself at how he’s just screwed the most powerful man in the world?

No, wrong movie.

But Snow might walk off into the credits with something other than a cassette tape because cassette tapes are so 1980s, chuckling about how he just screwed someone. That part of the movie isn’t very clear, to be honest.

And it features Peter Stormare, so you know he’s a bad guy because that’s all he ever plays, except in “Armageddon.”

The best part of “Lockout” is the fact that it is so ridiculously improbable, and just doesn’t care. I mean, Besson & Co. don’t even try to disguise the fact that 99.9-percent of the events depicted COULD NEVER HAPPEN.

My personal favorite – parachuting, from space, to Earth, with that burning atmosphere re-entry thing that looks like it might hurt, plus a plummeting fall, to concrete, at the exact spot where the police are waiting.


I’ll stick with Snake Plissken paragliding onto the top of the Twin Towers any day.

Oh wait, parachuting and paragliding. There’s another comparison. Take a drink, sucker.

The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Maggie Grace – hot or not? Discuss!
Nudity – No.
Gore – Yes.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – A couple of Scottish brothers, some government honchos and, oh yeah, Luc Besson, for thoroughly ripping off John Carpenter and not even having the decency to give him credit.
Buy/Rent – Rent it, if you must.

Midnight Son (Image, 92 minutes, Unrated, DVD): Vampire movies.

I know, I know. You’re burned out on vampire movies. So am I. “Twilight” and its endless sequels, and a host of bad B-grade bloodsuckers have literally drained (haha, get it) all the fun out of vampire movies in the past few years.

But even if you can’t bear the thought of sitting through another vampire movie because you think there’s just no idea even remotely interesting or original that could possibly be harvested from the genre, I implore you to check out “Midnight Son,” the first full-length feature from Scott Leberecht, the visual effects artist from such films as “Sleepy Hollow.”

“Midnight Son” is a vampire movie, and it’s a love story, but it’s also an origin story of sorts of an entirely different kind of vampire. It feels fresh, alive and surprisingly original.

“Midnight Son” is the story of Jacob and Mary. He’s a quiet emo kid who works security on the graveyard shift. She’s a cocaine addict who sells cigarettes and lollypops at a nightclub.

Jacob has a problem. He can’t quell a growing hunger that is slowly ripping him apart from the inside, and no matter how much he eats, he keeps losing weight.

He also has a skin condition, one that forces him to live with the windows blacked out, rarely venturing outside during the day. When he was a boy, his parents discovered this anomaly because Jacob’s arm burst into flame when it was exposed to direct sunlight.

Jacob is dying, literally and metaphorically, and he doesn’t know why. Until one night when he buys a steak to cook and instead finds himself eagerly lapping up the blood pooled in the container.

Mary is dying too. She drifts through the nights, high and empty and alone, unable to make any kind of lasting connection.

When they meet outside a nightclub, there’s an instant attraction, a raw sexual energy, that can’t be denied even if it’s in its sweetest infancy. Only when they try to consummate their feelings, things get weird.

Jacob’s hunger gets weird too. It keeps growing, forcing him to make some decisions that will ultimately change his life forever. Or will they finally give him the life he’s never lived up to that point?

“Midnight Son” is not a big-budget movie. It’s flawed. It has plenty of moments that you could pick apart if you wanted. But I would ask that you overlook those minor quibbles and instead just enjoy a vampire story that doesn’t feel like every other run-of-the-mill vampire story that has been released in recent years.

This one feels special. It’s different. And it’s definitely worth your time.

Intruders (Millennium, 100 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has given us two movies, both of which offer a glimpse of the potential he likely holds.

The first was “28 Weeks Later,” the surprisingly unsucky sequel to the great Danny Boyle sleeper that revitalized the zombie genre back in 2002.

Fresnadillo’s follow-up is “Intruders,” a dark fable told through two interweaving stories, one in English and one in Spanish. This bold artistic decision makes or breaks “Intruders,” depending on your tolerance for subtitles and your ability to closely follow the mythology that is unspooled about the villain, an ominous, soul-sucking reaper of children known as Hollowface.

There is much to marvel at here, particularly early on, in the opening sequences told in Spanish, where a young boy is tormented by Hollowface in a thrilling, rain-drenched set piece atop scaffolding. Hollowface instantly establishes himself as an original creation, despite the logical comparisons to the main ghost in “The Frighteners” and the Death Dealers from the Harry Potter books and films.

When the film switches to England, where a father, Clive Owen, tries to soothe his daughter’s paranoia that there is no boogeyman in her closet, there’s an equally terrifying scene where that age-old parental calm proves to be entirely wrong.

The main issue with “Intruders” is one of repetition. Fresnadillo shows his hand early on, and too much of the rest of the film is filled with chases and jump scares. There’s only so many times you can be plopped into a darkened bedroom and not know to expect Hollowface to suddenly pop out.

Still, this is an enjoyable haunted house ride that, despite a surprisingly pat ending, manages to surprise with solid special effects, especially the unnerving scrub shown on the cover whenever a character is revealed to have a stark, blank, smooth swath of skin devoid of features.

Get the Gringo (Fox, 95 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): “Get the Gringo” is the Mel Gibson film you never expected to see again, the kind of hard and dirty action flick he used to make before he lost his way and fell victim to the Hollywood hubris that seems to infect a few chosen celebrities, making them feel invincible to backlash and free to say whatever they truly feel.

“Get the Gringo” is “Payback,” albeit on a lesser scale. It’s Mel doing what he used to do best, smirking and brooding and exploding in violent rage.

It’s slight and fast-moving and Gibson’s weathered face shows the wear of so many years of being beaten up by the backlash from his divisive words. That strain and drain works to his advantage, however. He truly looks like a desperate man clinging to the life he once had, the bag of cash that drives the plot sitting in for the well-regard and respect he once enjoyed among his peers.

It’s a shame that it was released direct-to-DVD, but sadly, that decision too makes sense.

Also Available:

Friends with Kids

The Three Stooges

Casa di me Padre

Designing Women: The Final Season

Different Strokes: The Complete Third Season

Doomsday Prophecy

Dan Vs: Season One


Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

The Inbetweeners

Alphas: The Complete First Season

Eureka: The Complete Fifth Season


Storage Wars: Season Three

IRT: Deadliest Roads – Season Two

Sanctuary: The Complete Fourth Season

Leverage: The Complete Fourth Season

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