FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Sergio Leone |||
Sergio Leone

Leone’s career is remarkable in its unrelenting attention to both American culture and the American genre film, exploring the mythic America he created with each successive film examining the established characters in greater depth.

Only his second feature (a remake of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo), Leone's landmark "spaghetti western" caused a revolution and features Clint Eastwood in his breakthrough role as "The Man With No Name". This classic brutal drama of feuding families wasn’t the first spaghetti Western, but it was far and away the most successful up to that time.

Plot is of minimal interest, but character is everything to Leone, who places immense meaning in the slightest flick of an eyelid, extensively using the extreme close-up on the eyes to reveal any feeling, as demonstrated by Clint, who squints his way through this slam-bang sequel to A Fistful of Dollars as a wandering gunslinger that must combine forces with his nemesis to track down a wanted killer.

The final chapter in the groundbreaking trilogy follows Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach as they form an uneasy alliance to find a stash of hidden gold. Leone focuses on his central theme as they find themselves facing greed, treachery, and murder, showing that the desire for wealth and power turns men into ruthless creatures who violate land and family and believe that a man’s death is less important than how he faces it.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Skinwalkers

By BrianOrndorf

August 10th, 2007

Uh-oh, the Baby Huey of the horror genre, After Dark Films, is back, and this time they're ruining multiplexes with a werewolf movie. But not just any werewolf movie: a hastily-edited-to-a-PG-13 werewolf movie, with acting so dreadful it makes "Troll 2" look like a Mercury Theater production.

Skinwalkers

It seems an ancient curse that keeps werewolves alive is about to be shattered by a special 13-year-old boy’s prophecy-fulfilling birthday. Playing for the evil werewolves is Varek (Jason Behr), who leads his team of killers to the boy’s hometown for a hunt. On the flip side are the peace-loving werewolves, led by Jonas (Elias Koteas), who want the boy to live so their curse is broken. Counting down the hours until the prophecy takes hold, a war is waged between good and evil for the boy’s life, leaving his innocent mother (Rhona Mitra) in a state of shock.

What works in favor of “Skinwalkers” is that it isn’t a horror movie, but more of a monster picture. It doesn’t follow any currents trends in scare tactics, which is admittedly a nice change of pace. However, that’s where my praise of the film ends. After all, you cut out the werewolves, and what you’re left with is one idiotic movie.

Most of the blame can be pinned on director James Isaac, the man who previously gave the word the rotten, franchise-killing “Jason X.” Isaac doesn’t show all that much interest in werewolf lore, electing to lead the film into more action-oriented terrain, where more time is spent with bullets than horrific bodily transformations. Isaac is disturbingly comfortable with a majority of the asinine elements of “Skinwalkers,” from the generic (and unbelievably tedious) prophecy material to the costumes of Varek’s crew, who look more like roadies for the Allman Brothers Band than agents of part-dog doom.

Isaac also lacks a single clue how to instruct his actors, leaving them to their own devices for much of the film. With vacant pretty people like Behr and Mitra, this leads to great swells of silly soap opera reactions and fumbled emotional cues. Granted, “Skinwalkers” isn’t top-shelf screenwriting to begin with, but basic talent goes a long way to making mediocrity sparkle. Casting Jason Behr is not a step in the right direction.

The PG-13 curse strikes “Skinwalkers” in a very big way. With black blood replacement and profanity squeegeed off the film, this werewolf saga is sorely lacking any zest. The editing also wreaks havoc with the action sequences, with cuts and angles all over the place trying to cover up whatever made this film an R-rated venture in the first place. Also gone is the curious sensual element of the werewolf transformation. Apparently, when the werewolves blossom they burst into lustful stances, but in a PG-13 world, these scenes of sweaty, writhing bodies look more like a Spike TV cologne commercial.

One would think the combo of werewolves, Stan Winston’s make-up effects, and...well...werewolves would be more than enough to slap together a howlingly good time at the movies. However, put those elements in the hands of After Dark and it’s no surprise “Skinwalkers” is a stinker.

My rating: D