Articles by Alex Kirschenbaum

Fade To Black

Fade To Black, released 40 years ago today, is a deliciously demented, and surprisingly tragic, slice of meta-cinema. The tale of a much-maligned matinee maniac gone sour, Fade To Black rides a riveting, tour de force star turn from Dennis Christopher into certifiable legend status. This criminally under-seen thriller received a chilly reception upon its…

Money Plane

This past summer’s VOD Lawrence Brothers sensation Money Plane marks a bit of a digression as a recommendation from this fan. It falls into one of those very lovable subcategories of critical appreciation this viewer likes to call the “Dumb Action Movie.” This cost-effective, near-camp shoot-em-up confection cheerfully weathers its budgetary and technical constraints to…

Mid-Quarantine Cinema

Four months ago, we assessed the possible futures of post-quarantine cinema. Premium Video On Demand (PVOD) was on the upswing, after apparently netting Trolls: World Tour a lucrative opening weekend in rental grosses when the studio behind it, Universal, opted to release the animated sequel on streaming services for an elevated rate. Since then, everything…

The Bill & Ted Character Power Rankings

“The only true wisdom comes in knowing that you know nothing.” -Socrates There’s a reason screenwriters Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson made a point of highlighting that quote in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), the classic science fiction comedy adventure that kicked off a most bodacious series of joyous cinematic quests. Like another surprisingly…

JustWatch Comes To Trailers From Hell!

Excellent news, TFH maniacs! Trailers From Hell now comes equipped with a JustWatch function for every single trailer commentary. What is JustWatch, you ask? JustWatch is a very, very helpful app that answers that age-old question, “Where is this movie (or television show) streaming right now?” Founded in 2014, JustWatch collates information from every streaming…

Wild At Heart

David Lynch’s demented crime fantasy Wild At Heart was unleashed upon an unsuspecting nation 30 years ago today. A violent, angry road trip romance, Wild At Heart boasts stars stemming from three cinematic powerhouse families — Nicolas Cage (a Coppola), Laura Dern (daughter to Corman and Dante stalwart Bruce) plus her real-life mother Diane Ladd,…

Flatliners

Late great visual stylist Joel Schumacher’s death-defying science fiction thriller Flatliners (1990) turns 30 today. It’s a classic, positively Frankenstein-ian examination of ambitious innovators prioritizing their careers in science over their own safety. Five enterprising Chicago medical students push themselves beyond the normal confines of mortality in a series of “flatlining” experiments, wherein one student…

Real Genius

Grab some popcorn and pull up a chair, it’s a moral imperative that we celebrate the 35th birthday of Martha Coolidge’s science whiz classic Real Genius! The wise-cracking Val Kilmer starrer, which details the adventures of a group of brilliant physics undergrads at the fictional Pacific Tech University (clearly a stand-in for Caltech), stands as…

The Lost Boys

“One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach … All the damn vampires.” -Grandpa (Barnard Hughes), The Lost Boys I respectfully disagree with Grandpa’s sentiment. My favorite part about watching the faux coastal fantasia of Santa Carla is all the damn vampires. Despite being very much a time capsule capturing a certain…

Palm Springs

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: Groundhog Day can never be touched. The “time loop” narrative conceit that brilliant Harold Ramis classic pioneered has been co-opted onscreen quite frequently over the past decade. It’s popped up in a horror franchise (the cheerfully re-watchable Blumhouse horror comedy confection Happy Death Day…

The Possible Futures Of Post-Quarantine Cinema

So what might movie watching look like after some brilliant scientists have innovated a widely-available vaccine for COVID-19? Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The bad news? Well, I can appreciate that. It’s been that kind of year. Movie Theaters As We Know Them Are Changing Movie theaters as we…

Bride of the Monster

Before we delve too deeply into the weeds, this viewer finds it imperative to make two big caveats. First, any finished movie, as TFH Fearless Leader Joe Dante often preaches, is a bit of a miracle. Completing a project, especially a low-budget indie like Bride of the Monster (1955) that culled resources together from disparate…

From Beyond

Indescribable shapes both alive and otherwise were mixed in disgusting disarray, and close to every known thing were whole worlds of alien, unknown entities. It likewise seemed that all the known things entered into the composition of other unknown things, and vice versa. Foremost among the living objects were great inky, jellyfish monstrosities which flabbily…

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Happy Friday the 13th, Campers! It’s time to talk about the high water mark of the Friday the 13th saga, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984), the action-packed fourth entry that was decidedly not the final chapter of this twelve-part (so far) series. Reader beware: this review is not devoid of spoilers, though this…

Beetlejuice

There never has been (nor will there ever be) anything quite like Beetlejuice, that inimitable horror comedy concoction hailing from the demented minds of screenwriter Michael McDowell, plus writer/producer Larry Wilson and script doctor extraordinaire Warren Skaaren, filtered through the wacky gothic lens of director Tim Burton. To celebrate Beetlejuice’s Los Angeles return to the…

The Muppet Movie

“A frog and a bear, seeing America!” -Fozzie Bear, The Muppet Movie There was a time, not too long ago, when the world was swept up in full-on Muppet Mania. Adorable felt-and-foam constructions brought to convincing life by an array of artisans first overtook TV airwaves, then graduated to vinyl and celluloid. The excitement peaked…

Pet Sematary (1989)

Spoilers for all three Pet Sematary films abound throughout this review. Read on, if you dare. TFH Guru Mary Lambert‘s excellent, intense and darkly funny film adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary debuted on April 21st, 1989. 30 years later, it has terrified untold oodles of pet owners, who’ve no doubt pondered the lengths to…

Lords of Chaos

Writer/director (and former Bathory drummer) Jonas Åkerlund’s new black metal murder dramedy Lords of Chaos has really stuck with this critic since I first saw it two weeks ago. The controversial true crime tale has plenty to say about the lives of fringe musicians, the dangers of toxic masculinity and groupthink, and the tenuous nature of friendships…

Misery

Author’s Note: Some spoilers populate this review, because it’s impossible to thoroughly appraise Misery without unpacking some of the film’s more macabre elements. The uninitiated are advised to watch the film ASAP, then return to this space. The most famous non-fiction line coined by the recently departed screenwriting genius William Goldman is undoubtedly “Nobody knows anything,” a…

The Halloween Film Power Rankings

John Carpenter’s immortal 1978 Halloween was never built to have one sequel, let alone eight (plus two movies in a remake series). Though it left us with Michael Myers still on the loose, an omnipresent, almost metaphysical boogeyman, in a lot of respects, the movie is utterly self-contained. The immediate threat of Myers has been quelled by…

The Halloween Timeline Power Rankings

Happy Halloween, Trailers From Hell miscreants! The latest Halloween film premiered stateside on October 19th to stellar reviews and brisk business, proving that this 40 year-old cinematic franchise, much like its signature character, refuses to die. Upon leaving their local theater, I’m sure several of the flick’s many, many millions of patrons had questions. Some…

Fright Night

Why does Fright Night, the 1985 vampire teen horror-comedy curio, endure as a great movie long past its expected sell-by date? Because writer/director Tom Holland’s Fright Night extends its core subject matter, vampiric transformation, into a studied allegory for the painful, violent uncertainty of adolescence. And because it unflinchingly tackles the two underlying themes at the…

Evil Dead II

With Halloween fast approaching, this writer wanted to unpack one of his all-time favorite horror movies, Evil Dead II (a.k.a. Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn). The first time I beheld the original The Evil Dead (1981), I found myself utterly terrified by the movie’s grisly carnage, completely charmed by its obvious low-fi origins, and wholly bewildered…

King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen

TFH Fearless Leader Joe Dante very astutely tip-toes around Larry Cohen’s stylistic filmmaking identity early on in King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen. Dante notes, “I would hardly call him the John Cassavetes of exploitation movies, but he does have a certain raw, visceral, realistic style.” Indeed, Larry Cohen’s signature film, Q:…