• Juice

    Juice

    ★★★★★

    Film noir is a term that was used to describe the bleak themes and shadowy visuals of American dramas and B-movies that thrived during the 1940s and 1950s, reflecting uneasy times on theater screens with pessimistic tales about dishonest characters and world-weary antiheroes whose best-laid plans were usually shattered by the hands of fate as they succumbed to weaknesses and small desires. If I had to use one sentence to describe classic-era film noir, then that sentence would be, “This…

  • Breakdown

    Breakdown

    ★★★★★

    When their brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee breaks down during a cross-country drive from Massachusetts to California, Jeff and Amy, played by Kurt Russell and Kathleen Quinlan, find themselves stranded on a remote desert highway. Jeff stays with the vehicle after Amy accepts a ride from a friendly trucker, played by J.T. Walsh, to a nearby diner so that she can call for road service. Jeff shows up at the diner shortly after, only to find that nobody there has…

  • Trog

    Trog

    ★★★★★

    When a prehistoric half-man half-ape troglodyte is discovered in a cavern beneath the English countryside, Dr. Brockton, an anthropologist played by Joan Crawford in her final feature film role, attempts to quell public fears by studying the creature in her laboratory. When Trog is set loose by a nefarious businessman, played by Michael Gough, however, it embarks on a terrifyingly murderous rampage in a nearby village.

    I have strong sentimental ties to the 1970 British sci-fi horror film, Trog, directed…

  • Hunting Ground

    Hunting Ground

    ★★★★

    Adela, a left-leaning Madrid defense lawyer played by Assumpta Serna, has earned a reputation for her leniency on hardened criminals, believing that they are simply victims of circumstance and that society shares the blame for their poverty-stricken desperation. When she and her family are targeted by a gang of ruthless thieves during Christmas season, however, their lives are shattered in a nightmare of brutality.

    Early on during my first viewing of the 1983 Spanish thriller, Hunting Ground (Coto de caza),…

  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

    Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

    ★★★★½

    The 1986 science fiction series sequel, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, is a whale of a tale. I was 14 years old and a freshman in high school when a friend and I saw this film upon its release at a hometown theater. During the months, and even years, that followed, the two of us would occasionally joke about “colorful metaphors.” 

    The driving force of this fourth franchise entry, directed by Leonard Nimoy, is its humorous fish-out-of-water plot developments,…

  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

    Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

    ★★★★

    Some neighborhood friends and I went to see the science fiction series sequel, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, upon its release at our hometown theater during the summer of 1984, just before I started middle school. To my 12 year-old self, this follow-up lacked the awe-inspiring punch of its 1982 predecessor, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but it still possessed traces of the old fun-spirited magic. My primary memories of that initial viewing are of my…

  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

    ★★★★★

    When I was 10 years old, my brother and I saw the 1982 science fiction sequel, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, upon its release at our hometown theater. The summer of 1982 was a magical time, with a lineup of blockbusters that made a permanent mark in my psyche and shaped my lifelong love of cinema. Despite the fact that four decades have passed since then, I clearly remember venturing to the big screen to see this film,…

  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture

    Star Trek: The Motion Picture

    ★★★★★

    I first saw the 1979 science fiction film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, by way of a showing on HBO shortly after I saw its series sequel, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, at a local theater during the summer of 1982 when I was 10 years old. Even in its pan-and-scan incarnation on my family television at home, this original Star Trek cinema endeavor captivated me with its expansive visuals and its comparably reverent tone, showcasing a movie…

  • Island of the Fishmen

    Island of the Fishmen

    ★★★★

    Shortly after Lieutenant Claude de Ross, a military doctor played by Claudio Cassinelli, and some convicts under his transport are shipwrecked on a remote Caribbean island, their numbers are dwindled by amphibious half-human half-fish creatures that pick them off one by one. Claude finds temporary shelter at a plantation house owned by Edmond Rackham, played by Richard Johnson, and Rackham's female companion, played by Barbara Bach, but he will soon be fighting for survival again when he discovers that his…

  • Scream

    Scream

    ★★★★

    A ruthless killer is on the loose, and it will not stop until it leaves its mark on everything that we love. This killer is the “soft reboot” concept, a cinema trend that, by functioning as a combination of a sequel and a reboot, markets a beloved older movie franchise to younger audiences by introducing sufficiently engaging new characters while also preserving the continuity of the series by featuring cameos from legacy characters in order to to appeal to longtime…

  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

    ★★★½

    I saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at a newer Atlanta area theater on its opening night in 2008, when I was 36 years old. This theater sported modern stadium seating, fresh carpet along the corridors, and perfectly clean chairs. The sticky floors and popcorn smells that I normally associate with such an experience were nonexistent. This theater looked bright and shiny, but it did not feel “lived-in.”

    The circumstances of my viewing suited the movie…

  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

    ★★★★★

    Some friends and I went to see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade on its opening night at the theater just before the end of my junior year of high school. I had seen the previous two films in the franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), upon their theatrical releases during my childhood, and had held them both in high esteem as all-time favorites. As is with most young people,…