Horns – Audiences didn’t seem to quite know what to make of Alexandre Aja’s detour from pure horror into blackly comic fantasy. Promoted as a scary movie, this Joe Hill adaptation features more laughs than thrills, and most of that strikes me as intentional rather than a misstep. Daniel Radcliffe plays a small-town burnout suspected of killing his girlfriend; already demonized by most of the locals, he becomes literally so when he one day starts growing horns. Along with the new protrusions comes a weird kind of power that forces anyone around him to confess their worst thoughts and secrets – a power he has to learn to use to his advantage if he is to find the real killer. Assuming there is a “real” killer that isn’t him. And yes, fanfic readers, you get your Harry Potter sex scene.
Sadly, there aren’t many extras on the disc – in their stead, I recommend you watch my video interviews with both director Aja and writer Hill.
Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt? and Left Behind – If these movies made by faithful fans of the respective books were intended to reach anyone other than the already converted, they failed miserably. Beloved by those who share the author’s philosophies, and ignored or demonized by everyone else, Atlas Shrugged and Left Behind were never going to get the epic Hollywood scope the stories suggest…but did they have to be so cheap and amateurish? Neither of these films was the first cinematic stab at the material – Atlas was the last part of a trilogy that completely recast every role each time, while Left Behind was an attempted reboot of a Kirk Cameron direct-to-video series of Christian fundamentalist fiction adaptations. In both cases, a long trail of red flags for failure were ignored, apparently in the hope that faith alone could save the final product. Even my Ayn Rand-loving libertarian friends get a little sheepish about the Atlas films, often offering their own ideas how it could have been done better; while Nicolas Cage fails to make Left Behind even so-bad-it’s-good, managing only to achieve so-mediocre-it’s-better-than-Kirk-Cameron status.
Archer: Season 5 – In which Archer and his team become a cocaine cartel, Cheryl tries her hand at country music and Kenny Loggins shows up. Damn, I need to catch up with this.
Black Swan – Apparently, Fox Searchlight may have been worried that a cover featuring Natalie Portman as a bird-monster was scaring people. Hence this rerelease, which now features a cover of her looking hot.
Black Sails: Season 1 – A Michael Bay-produced prequel series to Treasure Island. I don’t know anybody who’s seen it, and I’m not all that surprised, as that’s hardly the best logline I’ve ever heard. Anybody know if it’s decent?
Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh – Okay, raise your hand if you remembered that the sequel to Candyman was made by Bill Condon, director of Dreamgirls and the last two Twilight movies. Now raise your hand if you remember there was a sequel to Candyman.
As created by Clive Barker, the character was fascinating – an urban bogeyman who could persuade victims that they wanted to be killed. In Farewell to the Flesh, his past is revealed as a murdered slave who dared fall for a white woman. The idea of making him a victim like that never quite appealed to me, but the Scream Factory reissue is a solid restoration if you’re interested, with commentary from Condon, and interview segments with Tony Todd and Veronica Cartwright.
Dog & Scissors – A fascinatingly weird-sounding anime series about an avid reader who dies before he can finish his favorite series of books, is reincarnated as a dachshund, and adopted by his favorite author, who delights in taking the titular scissors to his fur. The Blu-ray features a new English dub, which may or may not clarify any of that.
Dinosaur 13: Director’s Cut – Documentary about the battle for ownership of the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil ever unearthed. Extras include a 17-minute mini-sequel that updates the viewer on what has happened since the events of the film.
The Sword of Doom: Criterion Collection – 1966 Japanese samurai movie that was intended to be the first part of a trilogy about an unrepentant, psychotic swordsman who uses his great skill for evil. I can maybe understand why the sequels never happened, but want to see nonetheless.
Those are my top picks for this week. What’s on your radar?