Victor has written 84 reviews for films during 2016.

  • Rhino!

    Rhino!

    ★★½

    Enjoyably mild “exotic” wildlife adventure with a decent enough (for the time) preservation message. If nothing else, this is likely the only movie you’ll ever see with a) a “Psychopharmacology by” credit, and b) Robert Culp sucking on Harry Guardino’s leg. Incredibly, these appear to be unrelated.

  • Savage Intruder

    Savage Intruder

    ★★★

    A lot better than I was expecting, with a memorably grim opening credits sequence that every self-punishing cinephile should see, and Ms. Hopkins dialing her screechy charm up to 11 (so 8 for her); she even gets a musical number! The movie fizzles a little when she bugs out before the last act (for health reasons?), but it’s still worth watching to the end. It’s on YouTube if you’re tempted, which you should be.

  • The Naked Zoo

    The Naked Zoo

    ★½

    The dreggiest of late-’60s exploitation dregs, and pretty putrid no matter how high your tolerance for sleaze may be. Grefe’s horror movies are silly and dull, but for the most part they’re entertaining, unchallenging fun in small doses. This is just mean, both to Hayworth (who seems game but also oblivious to the crud she’s slogging through) and particularly Spain. Grefe nails the degradation that drives Hag Horror, then, but the other key ingredients of the subgenre — admiration and…

  • The Telephone Box

    The Telephone Box

    ★★★

    More Buñuel than Larry Cohen (no disrespect), which was a pleasant surprise.

  • Always Shine

    Always Shine

    ★★★½

    I’m way too conditioned to horror-movie beats, so the lack of a third-act reversal here (or the inscrutability thereof) frustrated me before it won me over. Nice work.

    P.S. I dug the bossy one.

  • Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

    Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

    ★★

    This has a great premise and intermittently lush visuals, but it's too cheap and corny to pay off — the climax, such as it is, is antagonizingly disappointing. There’s also a preoccupation with putting the boy protagonist in the path of dirty, dangerous, naked old men, which ultimately becomes creepy in a way I didn’t sign on for. (Also, why/how are there no women in the village?) What a letdown.

  • Killer Bees

    Killer Bees

    ★★½

    Prime ’70s TV gothic melodrama curiously pegged to then-current events, but also a bit of a snooze.

    King of camp stealth feminism Harrington (with help from photographer Jack Woolf and production designer Joel Schumacher(!)) crafts some swoony, beautifully disorienting scenes, especially near the end in the attic hive, and the bee attacks — tiny effects budget notwithstanding — are convincingly squirmy. But it’s all played so straight that the outlandishness of the premise never really takes off.

    Swanson’s game if…

  • The Eyes of My Mother

    The Eyes of My Mother

    ★★★★

    Rarely diverts its gaze, and never offers any jump-scare tension release or lets us forget that we’re watching a multi-generational family tragedy play out over time with excruciating inevitability; in fact, it routinely slaps us in the face with the latter. Yet even in the thick of its grisly, unflinching set pieces there’s room for imagination and compassion and even a tricky kind of identification. My only complaints are one or two slack performances and an abrupt climax, but those are trifles — this is an impressive piece of shock horror that more than lives up to its hype.

  • Night of Terror

    Night of Terror

    ★★½

    Fun little low-aspiration TV thriller anchored by Martin Balsam as a nice-guy ex-cop who gets the dual honors of clocking Chuck Connors and giving Donna Mills several leisurely foot massages. The guy could've retired a hero right then.

    Mills is the star, though, and she doesn't quite work in heroine mode — that sunny/conniving quality that would later work so well for Knots Landing makes her a bit of black hole here, albeit one you can't tear your eyes away…

  • Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange

    ★★★

    Lots to like about this movie, particularly the Ditko love it wears on its sleeve and Cumberbatch’s perfectly applied (for once) snide vaporousness; he makes the pat character arc feel earned, which I didn’t see coming. The climactic dustup being a battle of wits instead of brawn was also refreshing, as was Tilda Swinton — ironically, she's the heart of the thing. It all almost makes up for how flat-footed Derrickson is with the story's humor, which admittedly feels shoehorned…

  • Manos: The Hands of Fate

    Manos: The Hands of Fate

    God, this just doesn't get any better with time. Half a star for the 'rasslin scene.

  • Don't Breathe

    Don't Breathe

    ★★★★

    So much more attentive than I was expecting, both to the details of the plotting and to the cannily overstated cultural backdrop. My only reservation was the indestructible wannabe-boyfriend character — the two younger male leads in general, really — but even that provided some welcome trope-taunting humor, along with genuine relief when they finally bought it. Jane Levy is a revelation, and it's nice to see that Stephen Lang is still the most self-abasingly courageous American character actor working.