DVD Movie Review Round-up

DVD Movie Review Round-up
Theatrical reviews of In Time and The Millennium Bug. DVD reviews of The Shuttered Room / It Combo Pack and More Brains!.
Updated: 10-26-2011
Sometimes dystopian thrillers or comic book movies with a dark edge will work for horror.com readers, but I am sorry to report that In Time is a standard, homogenized sci-fi actioner with little to recommend it to anyone, let alone genre fans.
Actually, it's not that bad. It's just not that good, either. An all-star cast (Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, and Vincent Kartheiser [the dude who plays Pete Campbell on Mad Men]) recounts the timeless tale of the human race running out of time (think: Logan's Run). In so doing, as the impossibly good-looking and righteously ripped heroes zip through several gauntlets risking life and limb, true love is found along the way. Cue the sappy score and the "time is so precious" dialogue refs.
Basically, in this alternate reality people stop aging at the quarter century mark but are engineered to live one more year. This means they have to start taking active steps to earn more life-time. The idea is interesting, but it's not really explained too well. (I'd also like to know why there are no ugly, fat, or slouchy people on the entire planet — just because they quit ageing at 25, doesn't mean they started out as supermodels and athletes!) Its sorta-kinda creepy conceit and could conceivably be scary in parts (like, the death lottery in Logan's Run), but the story settles for chase scenes and stolen kisses.
Writer / director  Andrew Niccol also did Gattaca, and while there are some similar beats, In Time is much-less weighty. Timberlake and Seyfried make a cute onscreen couple, and Murphy conveys a mean tenacity while Kartheiser is smarmy. Nothing unexpected here, though there are a few clever moments involving the conceit that money is time (there's a "99 Seconds Only" store, for example).
While In Time is getting a big time theatrical release, our next film, The Millennium Bug, is making the horror festival rounds. It played recently here in Los Angeles, at the Shriekfest Film Festival.
I don't usually check out other reviews on a film before writing my own, but I'd already known of The Millennium Bug prior to having the screener find its way to me — and people seemed to dig it. It is ambitious for a super low-budget indie (a fairly large cast, locations and interiors, the mutated bug itself) and while I appreciate the effort, I just could not get into the story or characters at all.
Set in 1999 on 12/31, the plot unfolds around a family of Y2K-disaster believers who flee to the Sierra Diablos mountains in order to avoid the technological terror they are sure is coming. While in the isolated forest, they of course encounter another family… ones of the demented, deformed hillbilly persuasion. An early, gooey and hairy scene involving birth-canal crowning and merkin, will surely separate the men from the boys — and so, in that case, call me Boy and send me on my way. (I watched a little more of The Millennium Bug, but not much more.)
The Shuttered Room & It DVD Combo Pack DVD Movie Review
Sort of a supernatural Straw Dogs — though this 1967 spookfest predates the Peckinpaugh pic by a few years — The Shuttered Room features the stunningly beautiful Carole Lynley as a fresh-faced bride (her husband is played by Gig Young, once married to Elizabeth "Bewitched" Montgomery and whose own life story is a lot scarier than any movie he was ever in) who contends with a mob of small town rapists led Oliver Reed. The Shuttered Room also has a sort of gothic/giallo/voyeur vibe running through it, not unlike a cross between Wuthering Heights, Psycho, and See No Evil. But The Shuttered Room is also uniquely itself, and that is why I so delighted to have discovered it through this review.
I had not heard of The Shuttered Room prior to receiving the DVD, but within just a moment, I was hooked — there's a ghostly POV scene in the beginning which is stylishly shot and well-acted, tense seconds of sheer suspense as the past shows itself, then an opening up into the world where we'll be spending most of our time, the New England countryside circa late 1960s. Based on source material written by contemporaries August Derleth and H.P. Lovecraft, this atmospheric mood piece features creatures in the attic, phantoms afoot, and the dangers of flesh and blood men. Off-set by things of beauty (an immaculate Thunderbird convertible, experimental cool jazz courtesy of Basil Kirchin, and Lynley's soft golden blonde locks), the ugliness and violence is made that much more astringent.
Granted, The Shuttered Room is a bit creaky and more than a little dated — but I loved it. It's a great companion piece to other super-60s/70s slow-burn suspense films like The Wicker Man, And Soon The Darkness, See No Evil, and Lynley's Bunny Lake Is Missing.
Also on this disc is It (aka, Curse of the Great Golem), a 1966 Roddy MacDowall monster movie that's also a bit creaky and more than a little dated. It's not an art piece by any stretch (even though it does take place in a museum), but it's a fun little clunker and MacDowall's histrionics are always welcome. 
More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead: The Definitive Return of the Living Dead Documentary DVD Movie Review
Since I wasn't terribly familiar with the ROTLD films, I learned a lot by watching this exhaustive 2-hour documentary and enjoying the cinematic war stories from the likes of Clu Gulager, Linnea Quigley, Stacey Q, Don Kalfa, Miguel Núñez and Brian Peck (who also narrates).
Covering everything from sexy actress Quigley's shocking public show of pubic hair (hm, another of my movies this week has a merkin… a most unfortunate theme, it would appear) to how the grungy, gloppy zombie makeups were applied, More Brains! definitely lives up to the 'more!' part of its title.
Two hours is a pretty long time (plus there are a couple more hours of extras buried alongside the feature — these include  the final interview on the series with Dan O'Bannon, short before his passing in '09) and while I must confess to not remembering much about the movies themselves (meaning: I may have seen them once, back in the day, and they were not at all memorable), I liked the presentation of the doc (the lively Tales from the Crypt style transitions from realism to cartoonish are fun), the content of the interviews, and the choice of subjects.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson
Latest User Comments:
Super Happy!
Pleased you liked "The Shuttered Room", based on an H.P. Lovecraft short story. I also liked the fact that The Fixx (a rock band from ancient times you youngins may not be familiar with) :P! named an album after this same short story. ROTLD is a really funny series of films. I liked how the "Living Dead" were re-released due to the fault of the Army Corps of Engineers designing their "un-escapable" containers. Terrific stuff, especially considering I HATE zombie films. Looking forward to your coming review of "Paranormal Activity 3". (I saw it and saw the ending coming about 3/4 of the way in, but hey...while I think this should be the END of the series, I doubt this series can be killed even with a stake in the heart, and yes...I slightly enjoyed the third instalment.)
10-27-2011 by Sparky discuss