• Maxwell J.

April 2022 Review: The Best Movies I Saw Last Month

It’s been clear ever since I recovered from COVID-19, my movie watching habits have been slowly fizzling out. Thankfully, I still got to see some great stuff last month, so it's a fine trade off. The first few days of Panic Fest through a loop in this list as I had to rush to get reviews ready for two of the three films that I watched prior to the end of the month. This is a great problem to have, however, as I have been truly enjoying myself the past week. I look forward to all the entries that May’s list will inevitably have on it. After thirty days my total for the month is 32 first time watches and 4 re-watches. This month, and moving forward, I decided to change up how I do my monthly wrap-ups. Instead of doing the three best and worst, I am simply changing to the best six films. Truthfully, it is much easier to talk about the films I like than rag on the films I don’t, especially when I try my best to be respectful and fair about my reviews.


Anyway, let’s get into the best of the best!


Re-Watch Highlight: The Fog (1980); Director: James Carpenter; United States

On the eve of a small coastal town’s centennial, a thick, mysterious fog rolls into town, confounding weathermen and fishermen in the area. What’s more, as the fog covers more of the town, residents of the town are attacked by phantoms in the mist. Several interlocking stories of townsfolk discovering the origin of the fog culminate in a confrontation demanding answers for a tragedy that sullies the town’s history. I’m not entirely sure what made my teenage heart so hateful against classic horror films, but I’m glad I am revisiting them now. The Fog rules. Between its stacked cast, beautiful setting, and impressive set pieces, there are so many aspects to appreciate. Beyond that, it is truly an unsettling film. Much of the horror comes creeping in just like the fog does on a somber weekend morning. Throw in some great commentary on confronting the sins of the past and holding people accountable and you have a film that is tailor made for me. At the end of the day, I blame my past self’s contrarian nature for disliking it. If you are a fan of classic 80s horror but want something more deliberate and less in-your-face with the terror, check out this John Carpenter flick and enjoy a nice evening.


Previous Rating: 5/10

New Rating: 8/10


BEST #6) Virus: 32 (2022); Director: Gustavo Hernández; Argentina/Uruguay

Please check out the full review here.


Overall Score? 7/10



BEST #5) Bitch Ass (Panic Fest); Director: Bill Posley; United States

Please check out the full review here.


Overall Score? 7/10


BEST #4) Videodrome (1983); Director: David Cronenberg; Canada

Small time tv station programmer Max Renn is known for curating a collection of underground adult entertainment on his channel. Accessed only by a few patrons, his channel has been stuck in a rut for a while. That is true until his engineer comes across a livestream called Videodrome. The broadcast is provocative in nearly every way. It’s highly sexual, intensely violent, and, to the naked eye, seems totally real. Or is it real? That is the question that begins haunting Max. He scours his circles to find out more intel on the broadcast and learn what is really going on behind the puzzling videos. This must be reconciled with the fact that he cannot shake his desire to see more of it. As Max goes down this path, he learns that the lines of reality and production blur seamlessly. I have been putting this one off for so long and decided to finally pull the plug on it. David Cronenberg is a master of visuals and Videodrome is a feast of bizarre imagery and body horror. James Woods gives an authentic performance as a sleazy television executive falling victim to the terror of the product he so wishes to sell to the masses. There is much to be said about consumerism, technology, and attitudes of sex and violence in Videodrome. It is a wonderfully deep sci-fi horror with plenty to chew on afterwards. What's not to love?


Overall Score? 7.5/10


BEST #3) The Dark Half (1993); Director: George A. Romero; United States

At a young age, Thad was passionately devoted to writing. His mother worried but supported him anyway until his pounding headaches sent him to the emergency room. Astonishingly, doctors located and removed a tumor on his brain leftover from an undeveloped twin brother of Thad’s. Flash forward to the present day and Thad is a successful author both in his own right and under his pseudonym: George Stark. While Thad writes more respectable novels, George Stark pounds out sleazy best sellers without any issues. After word gets out, Thad decides to go public with the knowledge that he is Stark, burying his old persona in the news. Thereafter, a series of grisly murders commences with the true killer framing Thad as the culprit. Has the pressure of newfound media spotlight gotten to Thad or is Stark out real and out for revenge? This little Romero adaptation of a Stephen King novel has been an obvious oversight on my part for years and I am so frustrated that it took me so long to watch it. Teetering between wondrously camp and truly psychologically unsettling, The Dark Half is an entertaining slasher with plenty of grisly kills and solid body horror to entertain. It doesn’t quite make perfect sense, especially with its bizarre ending, but The Dark Half succeeds in being good popcorn fun.


Overall Score? 7.5/10


BEST #2) Malibu Horror Story (Panic Fest); Director: Scott Slone; United States

Please check out the full review here.


Overall Score? 7.5/10



BEST #1) The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920); Director: Robert Weine; Germany

In a quiet village, a hypnotist controls a sleepwalker in an effort for him to carry out a series of calculated murders. Detectives are baffled at the nature of the crimes and are certain that the hypnotist is behind the spree but are unable to pin him for it. They either must use their deduction skills to catch the hypnotist slipping or wait until they can intervene with the next attack before he claims another victim. Quite literally the grandfather of horror, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a peculiar and intriguing classic. To the modern viewer, it won’t be scary per se, but it is fascinating to examine where many modern tropes and tools got their beginning. For the time, the film is absolutely a marvel. Its set is dazzling with enough dreamy visuals and surrealist structure to make the film feel more cinematic than it truly is. I may be biased in my rating based on the materials on hand at the time, but The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is still an entertaining film. While silent films and classics in general may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I encourage you to seek out the blueprint for the modern horror film.


Overall Score? 8.5/10



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