Short Takes: R

Rabid (1977)

Producer: John Dunning
Director/Screenwriter: David Cronenberg

This is the film! After Shivers, you could still believe that Cronenberg was a regular director. But with Rabid it was clear that he was truly twisted.

A woman gets a skin graft after an accident. But it turns her into a kind of vampire. But not one of those wimpy ones who can live off rat blood. She needs the real thing. And as usual in a Cronenberg film, things just get worse.

The film stars Marilyn Chambers of Behind the Green Door fame. It features Joe Silver (Shivers), Frank Moore (The Third Walker), Susan Roman, and Howard Ryshpan. Director Allan Moyle (Pump Up the Volume) has a cameo.

The film is copyrighted. There is a “Roger Corman” DVD release with commentary by Cronenberg. There is also an amazingly packed Blu-ray version.

Raising Arizona (1987)

Producer: Ethan Coen
Director: Joel Coen
Screenwriters: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

A female cop and a male small-time thief marry. When they find they can’t have children, they kidnap one of a local celebrity’s recent quintuplets. Soon they are being attacked by prison friends, the boss and his wife, and a bounty hunter.

Although it’s generally too quirky for its own good, it’s a masterful and fun film.

Starring Nicolas Cage (Willy’s Wonderland), Holly Hunter (Broadcast News), Trey Wilson (Great Balls of Fire!), John Goodman (Matinee), William Forsythe (Out for Justice), and Randall “Tex” Cobb (Uncommon Valor).

Raising Arizona is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

30 July 2021

Rat Fink (1965)

Producer: Schuyler Hayden (as Lewis Andrews)
Director: James Landis
Screenwriter: James Landis (story: Matthew Cheney & Jack Miller)

A young man leaves his home to make it as a rock star. And he will do anything including theft, setting a rival on fire, and ultimately, murder.

This is a shockingly good film. It was shot by Vilmos Zsigmond in low-grain black and white. The acting is very good and that fire scene is impressive.

Starring Schuyler Hayden (Riot on Sunset Strip), Hal Bokar (Graduation Day), Warrene Ott (The Undertaker and His Pals), Eve Brenner, and Don Snyder (The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?).

Rat Fink is under copyright. RetroMedia has released quite a good 2K print with a few extras on DVD and Blu-ray.

23 January 2021

Ratched (2020-)

Creator: Evan Romansky
Executive Producers: Aleen Keshishian & Margaret Riley & Jacob Epstein and Michael Douglas & Robert Mitas and Sarah Paulson and Ian Brennan and Tim Minear and Alexis Martin Woodall and Ryan Murphy
Directors: Ryan Murphy (2), Michael Uppendahl (2), Nelson Cragg (1), Jessica Yu (1), Jennifer Lynch (1), Daniel Minahan (1)
Screenwriters: Ian Brennan (6), Evan Romansky (3), Jennifer Salt (2)

When a murderer is put in a mental hospital for observation, his sister gets a job there to help him. And she does anything necessary although there are many other characters with their own motivations.

This is a surprisingly good series with fabulous sets and acting. It also has an interesting visual style with overall good scripts.

Starring Sarah Paulson (Levitation), Cynthia Nixon (One Last Thing…), Judy Davis (My Brilliant Career), Jon Jon Briones (Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage), Finn Wittrock (Locating Silver Lake), Charlie Carver, and Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct).

Ratched is copyrighted. It is currently only available streaming on Netflix.

15 April 2021

Rated X (2000)

Producers: Dick Berg and Allan Marcil
Director: Emilio Estevez
Screenwriters: Horman Snider and Anne Meredith and David Hollander (book: David McCumber)

The true star of the rise and fall of the Mitchell brothers. They rose from suburban boys to be prominent producers during the Golden Age of porn and then to be innovators in live sex. And then they saw a spectacular though unsurprising downfall.

Estevez does a great job directing what is ultimately a pretty boring biopic. I’m just so tired of the usual: local boys make good and then do too many drugs. And the visual elements of cocaine sniffing have been overdone, to say the least. But I suspect most people will like it. It’s very well made.

Starring Emilio Estevez (St Elmo’s Fire) and Charlie Sheen (Major League). Featuring: Megan Ward (Encino Man), Rafer Weigel, Tracy Hutson, Terry O’Quinn (Blind Fury), and Nicole de Boer (The Dead Zone).

Rated X is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with commentary by the stars, interviews with Marilyn Chambers and Assistant DA Bernard Walter about the real-life story, and some minor things.

Rats: Night of Terror (1984)

Producer: Jacques Leitienne
Director: Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn)
Screenwriters: Claudio Fragasso and Bruno Mattei (story: Mattei)
Alternate titles: Rats: Notte di Terrore
Our review: Rats: Night of Terror

A group of bikers after a nuclear war scavenge for food in an abandoned town. But they are tormented and murdered by super-smart rats that live there.

This is basically Night of the Living Dead with rats. It’s got good and sometimes disgusting effects, and a compelling story. It’s all over-the-top but it works.

Starring Ottaviano Dell’Acqua (Zombie 3), Geretta Geretta (Shocking Dark), Gianni Franco, and Massimo Vanni (After Death).

Rats: Night of Terror may be in the public domain; there is a good copy on It is available on DVD with an interview with Mattei. It’s available on Blu-ray with Hell of the Living Dead with a 50-minute documentary.

23 May 2020

The Raven (1963)

Producer/Director: Roger Corman
Screenwriter: Richard Matheson
Our review: Roger Corman Poe Cycle

The Raven is one of my favorite horror comedies. It has nothing to do with the poem, of course. But it’s hard not to have fun hanging out for an hour and a half with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and Hazel Court (The Curse of Frankenstein). It isn’t quite up to the best of the other Poe Cycle films (eg, The Masque of the Red Death), but it’s still good. Jack Nicholson plays Lorre’s son. (Sure. Why not?)

The film appears to be copyrighted. I can’t recommend any discs. There is a Blu-ray that looks good, but it has Region B/2 encoding. The Vincent Price Collection 2 is probably worth checking out.

Ravenous (1999)

Producers: Adam Fields & David Heyman
Director: Antonia Bird
Screenwriter: Ted Griffin

A half-dead man shows up at a remote military post mid-19th century in the western United States. He tells them about escaping from a stranded party that had resorted to cannibalism. But wouldn’t you know it? It’s a trap!

This is a beautiful film that plays with different genres but is probably best described as a black comedy horror western. It’s fun watching different parts, which work as parodies of various styles. And, of course, the cast is excellent.

Starring Guy Pearce (Memento), Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty), Jeffrey Jones (Beetlejuice), and Neal McDonough (Minority Report).

Ravenous is under copyright. It is available on an expensive DVD. Shout Factory has put out an excellent Blu-ray.

21 February 2021

Rawhead Rex (1986)

Producers: Kevin Attew & Don Hawkins
Director: George Pavlou
Screenwriter: Clive Barker

In Ireland, a farmer removes a large stone from his field and unleashes some kind of pagan god who is perpetually pissed off. It goes around creating messes when it doesn’t have humans to kill and eat. A visiting historian and his family struggle against the beast.

Barker may not have directed this film but it’s very much like one of his films. It features loads of great scenes and a meandering plot. The monster is ridiculous but strangely compelling. If you liked Nightbreed, you’ll probably like this.

Starring David Dukes (Supreme Sanction), Kelly Piper, Ronan Wilmot, and Niall Toibin (Ballykissangel).

Rawhead Rex is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with a bunch of extras.

27 January 2021

Re-Animator (1985)

Producer: Brian Yuzna
Director: Stuart Gordon
Screenwriters: Dennis Paoli, William J. Norris, and Stuart Gordon (stories: HP Lovecraft)

A medical student, Cain, shares a house with a recently matriculated student from Europe, West, who behaves oddly. Eventually, Cain is drawn into West’s experiments to reanimate the dead. Things get completely out of control.

This is a classic. It’s shocking that it was made by a group of first-time filmmakers. It’s endlessly creative as well as professionally made. It rewards repeated viewings at the same time that it works as background entertainment at a party.

Starring Bruce Abbott (Bad Dreams), Jeffrey Combs (Bride of Re-Animator), Barbara Crampton (From Beyond), Robert Sampson (The Dark Side of the Moon), and David Gale (The Brain).

Re-Animator is under copyright. In 2007, Arrow Video released it on a great DVD with a great print and lots of extras. But in 2018, they released a new 4K version with even more extras on DVD and Blu-ray. There’s also a 2-disc box-set Blu-ray, but it’s very expensive.

21 September 2020

Renfield (2023)

Producers: Chris McKay & Samantha Nisenboim and Bryan Furst & Sean Furst and Robert Kirkman & David Alpert
Director: Chris McKay
Screenwriter: Ryan Ridley (story: Robert Kirkman)

In modern America, Renfield joins a support group for co-dependent people and learns he needs to take back his power in his toxic relationship with Dracula who reaches out to a local crime family to help him take over the world.

This is a fun film with a lot of very funny moments and tons of blood. But it’s also uneven. The plot involving the crime syndicate is forgettable. The idea for the film is brilliant and I can’t help but wonder what might have been produced on a much smaller budget. That said, it’s a perfectly rendered film that should appeal to those who love technique and don’t care too much about inspiration.

Starring Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road), Nicolas Cage (Willy’s Wonderland), and Awkwafina.

Renfield is under copyright. It is available on DVR and Blu-ray/DVD combo with a number of extras.

24 June 2023

Repligator (1998)

Producers: Wynn Winberg and Bret McCormick
Director: Bret McCormick
Screenwriter: Keith Kjornes

Scientists at a secret military lab invent a replicator that turns men and ugly women into hot women. But when the women become sexually aroused, they turn into alligators. Can the scientists set things right before it’s too late?

This is a really low-budget comedy with gloriously cheesy effects. It’s something of a male fantasy with lots of topless women sexually attacking men about as sexually appealing as I am.

Starring Gunnar Hansen (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), writer Keith Kjornes, Randy Clower, TJ Myers (Space Marines), Carl Merritt, and Brinke Stevens (The Naked Monster).

Repligator is under copyright. It is available on DVD with minor extras.

6 April 2020

Repo Man (1984)

Producers: Jonathan Wacks and Peter McCarthy
Director/Screenwriter: Alex Cox

A guy is driving around in a car with some kind of bright light radioactive trunk. The authorities want the car bad and so are offering $20,000 for it to be repossessed. Two repo men try to find it.

This is a really unique story. The directing is blessedly standard, which works with the quirky characters and general conceit of the story. It also features some excellent songs. A lot of bad films have been made trying to replicate the magic here.

Starring Emilio Estevez (Maximum Overdrive), Harry Dean Stanton (Paris, Texas), Tracey Walter (The Two Jakes), and Olivia Barash (Dr Alien). Fox Harris (Evil Spawn) plays the driver.

Repo Man is under copyright but there is currently a good copy on It is available on DVD with decent extras. You can get the Criterion Collection release on DVD and Blu-ray with a 2K print and a couple more extras.

21 November 2021

Resurrection (2022)

Producers: Tim Headington & Lia Buman and Tory Lenosky & Alex Scharfman & Drew Houpt & Lars Knudsen
Director/Screenwriter: Andrew Semans

A successful businesswoman and single mother begins seeing a man from 22 years earlier who abused her. She thinks he has come to harm her daughter and acts increasingly unhinged in her efforts to protect her family.

This is a deeply disturbing film that will keep you wondering what exactly happened long after the film is over. It features a particularly strong lead performance.

Starring Rebecca Hall (The Awakening), Tim Roth, Grace Kaufman, and Michael Esper.

Resurrection is under copyright. It is streaming on Shudder. You can get it on DVD or Blu-ray.

13 January 2024

The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)

Producers: Benjamin Melniker and Michael E Uslan
Director: Jim Wynorski
Screenwriters: Derek Spencer and Grant Morris (character: Len Wein & Bernie Wrightson)

Alec the Swamp Thing wanders around the swamp helping people. Then he falls in love with the step-daughter of the evil Dr Arcane who intends to use her to keep himself young. Alec gets killed halfway through but you know how hard it is to get rid of weeds.

This is a fun little action film. It’s fluff but pleasant.

Starring Dick Durock (Swamp Thing), Louis Jourdan (Count Dracula), Heather Locklear (Angels Fall), and Sarah Douglas (Nightfall).

The Return of Swamp Thing is copyrighted. It is available in a number of forms but you are best to just get the 30th Anniversary DVD. There’s also a combo Blu-ray/DVD.

5 June 2021

Return of the Blind Dead (1973)

Producer: Ramón Plana
Director/Screenwriter: Amando de Ossorio
Alternate titles: El Ataque de los Muertos sin Ojos, The Return of the Evil Dead

It’s the 500th anniversary of when the locals blinded and killed the Knights Templar. And they and their horses are back and are they pissed! They attack the local celebration but a small group takes shelter in the local church where they must battle themselves and the zombies.

This sequel to Tombs of the Blind Dead is quite good. In fact, many will like it more. It’s more action and less atmosphere than the first. But the zombies really don’t have the same creepy effect that they did in the first film. It’s quite enjoyable regardless.

Starring Tony Kendall (The Loreley’s Grasp), Esperanza Roy (A Candle for the Devil), José Canalejas, and Fernando Sancho (Django Shoots First).

Return of the Blind Dead is under copyright. It is available on DVD. You can get the whole Blind Dead series on DVD.

24 August 2021

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Producer: Tom Fox
Director: Dan O’Bannon
Screenwriter: Dan O’Bannon (story: Rudy Ricci & John Russo & Russell Streiner)

Two guys working at a medical supply company accidentally release a chemical that reanimates the dead. Soon the dead are walking around looking for brains to relieve their painful rigor mortis.

This is a funny and fast-paced horror comedy with lots of great gore effects. The ending is kind of a copout but it fits with the original Night of the Living Dead.

Starring Clu Gulager (From a Whisper to a Scream), Don Calfa (Weekend at Bernie’s), James Karen (Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster), Miguel A Núñez Jr (Juwanna Mann), Thom Mathews (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives), and Beverly Randolph. Linnea Quigley (Savage Streets) is naked through most of it.

The Return of the Living Dead is under copyright. It is available on DVD with both crew and producer commentaries and some featurettes. There’s also a cheaper widescreen DVD release, but I don’t know what it comes with. There is a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray with a huge number of extras, but it’s really expensive.

14 November 2020

Retro Puppet Master (1999)

Producers: Vlad Paunescu and Kirk Edward Hansen
Director: David DeCoteau
Screenwriter: Neal Marshall Stevens (story: Charles Band)

A young puppeteer in Paris learns the secret of putting human souls into puppets by an ancient Egyptian magician. An Egyptian god reanimates three mummies to search for and kill the magician and, eventually, the puppeteer.

This is the origin story of the Puppet Master franchise. It’s a solid little entertainment even if it seems to have the makings for about five different films.

Starring Greg Sestero (The Room), Jack Donner (All About Evil), Brigitta Dau, and Guy Rolfe (The Spider and the Fly).

Retro Puppet Master is under copyright. You can get it widescreen on Blu-ray. If you don’t mind it being cropped, you can get The Puppet Master Collection, which has the first nine films.

Revealer (2022)

Producers: Sarah Sharp & Brett Hays and Robert Patrick Stern & Aaron B Koontz
Director: Luke Boyce
Screenwriters: Tim Seeley & Michael Moreci (story: Tim Seeley & Michael Moreci & Luke Boyce)

An outspoken stripper and a judgemental Christian find themselves trapped in a strip club as the end times take place. They must work together to escape but to what?

This is an alternatively scary, funny, and sweet film. It’s got tons of atmosphere, good effects, and great acting.

Starring Caito Aase, Shaina Schrooten, and Bishop Stevens.

Revealer is under copyright. It doesn’t seem to be available on disc yet. You can stream it on Shudder.

2 July 2022

The Ring (2002)

Producers: Walter F Parkes & Laurie MacDonald
Director: Gore Verbinski
Screenwriter: Ehren Kruger (based on Ring written by Hiroshi Takahashi)

A woman investigates people dying a week after they watch an unusual video tape. She sees it and must solve the mystery before she too dies.

This is an excellent, slow-burning horror film that is genuinely scary at times. And its popularity means you can probably pick it up for a buck at a yard sale. Don’t pass it up!

Starring Naomi Watts (King Kong), Martin Henderson (Flyboys), David Dorfman (A Wrinkle in Time), and Brian Cox (Red).

The Ring is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with a couple of interesting extras.

22 March 2021

The Ritual (2017)

Producers: Jonathan Cavendish and Richard Holmes
Director: David Bruckner
Screenwriter: Joe Barton (novel: Adam Nevill)

Four friends go camping in Sweden after the brutal murder of a friend. As they bicker, it becomes increasingly clear that they are being stalked by some creature with very ill intent.

I know Bruckner’s work from V/H/S and Southbound. This isn’t quite up to the level of those shorts (he made the best one in each), but it’s still excellent. It’s gorgeous to look at, the acting is great, and the monster is beautifully designed.

Starring Rafe Spall (Prometheus), Sam Troughton (Spirit Trap), Arsher Ali (Four Lions), and Robert James-Collier (Downton Abbey).

The Ritual is under copyright. It seems only to be available on a Region 2 DVD. You can find it on streaming services.

22 January 2021

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)

Producer/Director: Mel Brooks
Screenwriters: Mel Brooks & Evan Chandler & J David Shapiro (story: J David Shapiro & Evan Chandler)

Robin Hood has come home to fight with the Sheriff of Rottingham and Prince John while he wins the favor of Maid Marian.

This is another of Brooks’ film parodies, this time primarily of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991). It’s far superior to Spaceballs, which isn’t saying much. It features lots of meta and literal humor if that’s your thing.

Starring Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride), Roger Rees (Crazy like a Fox), Amy Yasbeck (The Mask), Dave Chappelle (Half Baked), and Richard Lewis (Curb Your Enthusiasm).

Robin Hood: Men in Tights is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray and plenty of other ways as well.

13 February 2021

RoboCop (1987)

Producer: Arne Schmidt
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Screenwriters: Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner

Detroit is kind of a hellscape and when a cop is killed, his body is used to create a new crime fighter: RoboCop. But a corporate leader wants to destroy it to sell his own badly-working crime robot.

This is a wonderful film: satirical, exciting, and above all fun. It also has some impressive gore. It’s definitely a must-watch for psychotronic fans.

Starring Peter Weller (Prey), Nancy Allen (Blow Out), Ronny Cox (Courage), and Miguel Ferrer (Crossing Jordan). Ray Wise (Shattered) has a small role.

RoboCop is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. You can also get the first three films on DVD or Blu-ray.

8 March 2021

RoboCop 2 (1990)

Producer: Jon Davison
Director: Irvin Kershner
Screenwriters: Frank Miller & Walon Green (story: Frank Miller)

Detroit is in debt to a corporation that is going to foreclose. And there is a madman flooding the city with a new drug. The corporation is trying to come up with a new version of RoboCop but they keep killing themselves. So they turn the madman into a RoboCop.

This isn’t as good as the original but it’s still quite enjoyable. It’s funnier with more violence.

Starring Peter Weller (Of Unknown Origin), Nancy Allen (Carrie), Belinda Bauer (Samson and Delilah), and Tom Noonan (Synecdoche, New York).

RoboCop 2 is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. It’s cheaper to get the trilogy on DVD or Blu-ray.

8 March 2021

RoboCop 3 (1993)

Producer: Patrick Crowley
Director: Fred Dekker
Screenwriters: Frank Miller and Fred Dekker (story: Frank Miller)

OCP is back again trying to bleed Detroit dry. They effectively control the police and are using that power to force people out of their homes so that they can build Delta City. A group of poor people fight back — eventually with the help of RoboCop.

This is probably the silliest of the RoboCop films. It still works well. We have a cool little girl who is a computer genius. And it doesn’t suffer from some of the less-than-stellar stop-motion in the second film’s climax.

Robert John Burke (Thinner) takes over as RoboCop this time. With Remy Ryan (Monkey Trouble), CCH Pounder (Bagdad Cafe), John Castle (Blowup), and Rip Torn (Heartland). Nancy Allen (Dressed to Kill) dies early in the film. Stephen Root (Office Space) has a small role.

RoboCop 3 is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. Or get it (for less) along with the other two films on DVD or Blu-ray.

8 March 2021

Robot Jox (1990)

Producer: Albert Band
Director: Stuart Gordon
Screenwriter: Joe Haldeman (story: Stuart Gordon)

In the future, international conflicts are addressed by having men inside large robots battle. Achilles is the best such warrior for the “good” side but he wants to retire. Everyone calls him a coward. There’s conflict and it ends with a big battle.

Gordon’s clean visual style really works a lot better for horror than it does science fiction. This film is fine though. And the David Allen stop-motion animation is great. But I like Crash and Burn a lot more.

Starring Gary Graham (Alien Nation: Body and Soul), Anne-Marie Johnson (Strictly Business), and Michael Alldredge.

Robot Jox should be under copyright but it is available on You can get it on DVD and Blu-ray but they are really expensive.

18 January 2022

Robot Monster (1953)

Producer/Director: Phil Tucker
Screenwriter: Wyott Ordung
Our review: Everybody Loves Robot Monster

What is there to say? Robot Monster is one of the greatest films ever made and Ro-Man is the greatest monster ever created. People who hate it almost always haven’t seen it and base their opinion on clips of Ro-Man wandering around. But the film is delightful and always interesting.

It features George Nader and the gorilla in countless films, George Barrows.

The copyright status of Robot Monster is unclear to me. has a good print. You can get it on DVD but the film has never been released as it should be. DVD Party has released the old Rhino VHS 3D version on DVD. It’s not bad. But there is a Blu-ray coming out restored from the original 35 mm 3D print, so watch for that!

Robot Ninja (1989)

Producer/Director/Screenwriter: JR Bookwalter

The cartoonist of “Robot Ninja,” Leonard, is not happy. They’ve turned his serious work into a campy TV show. So Leonard becomes the real Robot Ninja, fighting crime and largely getting his ass kicked.

Despite the premise, this is an exceptionally gory film. There’s one scene where Leonard repairs his arm (an homage to The Terminator) that’s hard to watch. An excellent party film!

Starring Michael Todd, Bogdan Pecic (Chickboxer), and Maria Markovic (The Dead Next Door). With Floyd Ewing Jr (Skinned Alive), Michael Kemper (Zombie Cop), Bill Morrison (Ozone), and James L Edwards (Bloodletting).

Robot Ninja is copyrighted. It is available on DVD. But you are better off getting the Tempe Blu-ray because Bookwalter fixed numerous problems with it based on the original 16 mm footage. There is also a widescreen version available on iTunes, which you should only buy if you are a complete freak. I own it, of course.

The Robot vs the Aztec Mummy (1958)

Producer: William Calderon Stell
Director: Rafael Portillo
Screenwriter: Alfredo Salazar (story: Guillermo Calderon and Alfredo Salazar)
Alternate titles: La Momia Azteca Contra el Robot Humano

Dr Krupp survived his apparent death in the last film and again tries to steal the gold breastplate. This time, he builds a robot to destroy the mummy. If he spent half the time on his research that he does trying to steal to fund his research, he would have won the Nobel Prize by the end of the first film.

Half this film is just a rehash of the first two. It does move events around, which makes for a nice ending. Overall, this film is not as good as the first two. But it’s worth checking out just to watch the mummy tear the robot apart.

Starring Luis Aceves Castañeda, Ramón Gay (The Curse of the Aztec Mummy), Rosa Arenas (The Aztec Mummy), and Crox Alvarado (The Miracle Roses).

The Robot vs the Aztec Mummy may be in the public domain; there’s an okay print on It is part of the expensive Aztec Mummy Collection. But it’s all over the internet. And, of course, you can get the MST3K version. It’s from the first Comedy Central season, so the film is not destroyed with over-riffing.

26 February 2021

Robot Wars (1993)

Producer: Charles Band
Director: Albert Band
Screenwriter: Jackson Barr

A reporter and a scorpion shuttle pilot must combine forces when a Chinese (?!) general steals the scorpion shuttle and kidnaps a bunch of people.

This film exists in the same universe of Robot Jox and Crash and Burn. The effects by David Allen are excellent. But overall, the characters aren’t that interesting. I think it’s best to stick to the other two films.

Starring Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator), director Don Michael Paul, Lisa Rinna (Another Woman’s Husband), James Staley, Danny Kamekona, and Peter Haskell (The Eyes of Charles Sand).

Robot Wars is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

4 April 2021

Robowar (2018)

Producer: David S Sterling
Director/Screenwriter: Mark Polonia
Alternate titles: Battle Bots

In 2039, after a global nuclear war, two remaining groups remain in the US. First is the New Order, a cult that basically enslaves everyone and worships robots. The second is the Fighters. You know: the Nazis against the resistance. The Fighters learn of a dead robot that they send out a search party for. Eventually, they destroy the New Order.

No-budget science fiction is hard. The film suffers from the feeling that the leader of the New Order is hanging out in a junior high auditorium. But it’s strangely engaging and the robot fights are pretty cool. Don’t mistake it for the 1988 Bruno Mattei film.

Starring Danielle Donahue (Bigfoot vs Zombies), Jeff Kirkendall (Jurassic Prey), and Marie DeLorenzo (Empire of the Apes).

Robowar doesn’t seem to be available on disc. It is available on Amazon Prime.

17 July 2020

Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979)

Producer: Michael Finnell
Director: Allan Arkush & Joe Dante
Screenwriters: Richard Whitley & Russ Dvonch and Joseph McBride (story: Allan Arkush

The new high school principal is cracking down on the students’ wicked rock ‘n’ roll ways but alpha-female Riff Randell is having none of it. Eventually, The Ramones show up and play a song. And they burn down the school as the principal is thrown into insanity like her predecessor.

A fun film with lots of great music. Doubtless more interesting at the time when The Ramones weren’t quite the legends they became. And the plot is episodic. But many of those episodes are classics like the “date practice” scene.

Starring Dey Young (Tactical Assault), PJ Soles (Halloween), Clint Howard (Ice Cream Man), and Vincent Van Patten (Hell Night). Featuring Mary Woronov (Night of the Comet), Paul Bartel (Eating Raoul), and Dick Miller (Matinee).

Rock ‘n’ Roll High School is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. Better to get the Shout Factory Blu-ray with a ton of extras.

26 December 2021

Rock’n’Roll Wolf (1976)

Producer: Raluca Sterian-Nathan
Director: Elisabeta Bostan
Screenwriter: Vasilica Istrate
Note: These are the credits of the English-language version. The Romanian print lists some different people. There is no producer listed. It says the directors of the film are Nicolae Codrescu & Anatolie Olontev. But the credits also end with, “A film made by Elisabeta Bostan.” The story was by David Vinitki based on “The Goat and Her Three Kids” by Ion Creangă. The music is by Themistocles Popa and Gérard Bourgeois. The English lyrics and dialog are by Alec R Costandinos.
Alternate titles: Mama, Ma-Ma

A wolf is pissed off about a goat mother’s kids who don’t show the wolf enough respect. He’s going to punish the kids. The mother goes out shopping and tells the kids not to open the door until they hear her sing a particular song. The wolf makes several efforts but can’t sing well enough to fool the kids. Finally, he practices…

This is a strange one. It was clearly a prestigious project featuring the best ballet dancers, ice skaters, and actors of the Soviet empire. The art direction is amazing. The songs are excellent. It’s just really well made from top to bottom. It seems to be going for something like Tommy. But I think this works better. You should definitely watch this just for its pure oddness.

Starring Mikhail Boyarsky (D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers), Lyudmila Gurchenko (Carnival Night), and many other notables from the late Soviet art world.

The copyright status is unclear for Rock’n’Roll Wolf. There is a DVD copy of it, but it is not in English. You can easily find online a wonderful widescreen (2.35:1) print in Romanian (or Russian, I don’t know). There is also a savagely cropped TV version in English. The two are edited quite differently so it isn’t trivial to switch back and forth.

14 August 2021

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Producer: Michael White
Director: Jim Sharman
Screenwriters: Jim Sharman and Richard O’Brien (songs: Richard O’Brien)

A young couple must seek refuge in a local castle where a mad scientist is doing his thing. The couple is gradually seduced into his world.

The first half of this film is very strong. The ending lags a bit but the excellent songs pull it through. It’s not as much a tribute to 1950s science fiction and horror films as I would personally like. But “Science Fiction/Double Feature” is close to my heart.

Starring Tim Curry (Clue), Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise), Barry Bostwick (The Selling), Patricia Quinn (The Lords of Salem), and Charles Gray (Diamonds Are Forever).

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is under copyright. It’s been released in various forms. If you love it, you should probably get the 35th Anniversary Blu-ray.

10 November 2020

Rolling Thunder (1977)

Producer: Norman T Herman
Director: John Flynn
Screenwriters: Paul Schrader and Heywood Gould (story: Paul Schrader)

An American POW comes home to a hero’s welcome — and a wife engaged to another man. Mentally unstable, things get worse when four thugs torture him trying to get his money. So he spends the rest of the movie killing them.

The screenplay by Paul Schrader certainly brings to mind his then-recent success, Taxi Driver. Regardless, this is a really good revenge film.

Starring William Devane (Knots Landing). Featuring Tommy Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men), Linda Haynes (Human Experiments), James Best (Shock Corridor), Dabney Coleman (9 to 5), Lisa Richards, Luke Askew, and James Victor (Stand and Deliver).

Rolling Thunder is copyrighted. It is available on a meh DVD and a Blu-ray with some interviews.

Room 33 (2009)

Producers: Eddie Barbini and Craig Piligi
Director: Eddie Barbini
Screenwriters: Eddie Barbini and Donnie Dale

A group of roller derby players and their friends take a wrong turn and end up at an abandoned mental hospital without enough gas to get out. They find a confused and frightened young woman who seems to be psychically connected to a man roaming the woods killing people.

I really liked this film. The acting is first rate and the story unfolds in a constantly engaging way. It also cleverly uses normal violence caused by the fear of the supernatural forces at play.

Starring Austin Highsmith (The Unwilling), Adam Key (Terrordactyl), Nicole Dionne (Leading Ladies), Ace Gibson, Nina Hauser, Kim Manning, and Olivia Leigh.

Room 33 is under copyright. It is available on Amazon Prime. It is also available in The Midnight Horror Collection: Bloody Slashers, 5 Movie Horror Pack, and 6 Movie Horror Pack.

13 October 2020

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Producer: William Castle
Director/Screenwriter: Roman Polanski

A young couple, Guy and Rosemary, moves into an apartment next door to an odd old couple. Guy becomes strangely close to the couple while Rosemary thinks they are creepy. Then she has a vivid dream in which Satan impregnates her. Then she finds out she is pregnant, and things take a turn for the worse.

About an hour of this film is straight body horror. It’s fantastic. The last part of the film is more like The Stepford Wives. Overall, a very engrossing and well-rendered film.

Starring Mia Farrow (Broadway Danny Rose). With John Cassavetes (The Dirty Dozen), Ruth Gordon (Harold and Maude), Sidney Blackmer (High Society), and many other familiar faces. William Castle plays the man waiting for the phone booth.

Rosemary’s Baby is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Criterion Collection.

Rounders (1998)

Producers: Joel Stillerman and Ted Demme
Director: John Flynn
Screenwriters: David Levien & Brian Koppelman

A professional poker player goes bust and lives a regular life. But when his best friend gets out of prison, he is drawn back to the game and loads of trouble.

This is a quality melodrama that for all its common tropes is still very compelling. Sure the main character’s arc is clear from the beginning but that doesn’t make the denouement any less delicious.

Starring Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting) and Edward Norton (Leaves of Grass). With John Turturro (Barton Fink), John Malkovich (In the Line of Fire), Martin Landau (Ed Wood), Gretchen Mol (The Thirteenth Floor), Michael Rispoli (The Rum Diary), and Famke Janssen (The Faculty).

Rounders is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. It’s also available paired with other films.

Rubber (2010)

Producers: Gregory Bernard and Julien Berlan
Director/Screenwriter: Quentin Dupieux
Our review: Rubber (2010) Review and Analysis

An abandoned tire comes to life with psychic powers — in particular, the ability to make people’s heads explode. Throughout the film, it falls in love, fights off attacks from the police, and raises an army of tires that descend on Hollywood.

This is one of my favorite recent films. It’s very postmodern — fully self-aware. I would caution not to overthink it. It’s about a tire that rolls along killing people in spectacular ways. What more do you need?

Starring Roxane Mesquida (Fat Girl), Stephen Spinella (Virtuosity), and Jack Plotnick (Space Station 76). It has a large cast with a number of other notable actors.

Rubber is certainly under copyright; however, there is a copy on It’s available on DVD with some interviews and test footage. It’s also available on Blu-ray. There is also an expensive Region 2 version with 2 DVDs and a Blu-ray, but I don’t know anything about it.

The Rubber Gun (1977)

Producers: Allan Moyle, Stephen Lack, and Paul Haynes
Director: Allan Moyle
Screenwriters: Stephen Lack

Steve is the leader of a small group of drug addicts and artists. He allows in sociologist Allan to observe them. The group is on the verge of breaking up due to economic issues and Steve’s cautious leadership.

Although it sounds boring, this is a fascinating movie — probably the best illustration of the lives of drug addicts I’ve ever seen. It really feels like you are hanging out with these people for an hour and a half. The film features a number of songs by Lewis Furey off his first album.

The film stars Stephen Lack (Scanners). It features a number of fine actors who haven’t done much in film (neither has Lack), Pierre Robert, Peter Brawley, Pam Holmes, and the film director Allan Moyle.

As far as I know, The Rubber Gun has never been released on disc or even video! You can find it online, but be careful. The film is 86 minutes long. There is a 74-minute copy floating around and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But it does give you a sense of the film.

The Ruins (2008)

Producers: Stuart Cornfeld & Jeremy Kramer & Chris Bender
Director: Carter Smith
Screenwriter: Scott B Smith (novel: Scott Smith)

A small group of young people vacationing in Mexico go to visit a remote ruin. The local Mayan people freak out that they are there, killing one of them when he is scratched by a plant. They eventually trap the group inside the ruin where they are attacked and killed by the plants at the site.

This is an intense film. The gore is great but the visual effects are often disappointing. But it’s hard to look away, even if you don’t care about the characters.

Starring Jena Malone (Time Out of Mind), Jonathan Tucker (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Laura Ramsey (Whatever Lola Wants), Shawn Ashmore (Earthsea), and Joe Anderson (Cold Blood).

The Ruins is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with commentary, a half-hour of featurettes, and deleted scenes with two alternative endings.

19 May 2021

Run Silent, Run Deep (1958)

Producer: Harold Hecht
Director: Robert Wise
Screenwriter: John Gay (novel: Edward L Beach Jr)

A slightly crazy (But right!) submarine commander wants to take revenge for his previous defeat. He is removed from command but his XO sees that he was right and implements the plan.

Despite its Cold War authoritarianism, it’s a pretty enjoyable submarine story with two of cinema’s iconic stars.

Starring Clark Gable (Gone With the Wind), Burt Lancaster (Birdman of Alcatraz), Jack Warden (…And Justice for All), Brad Dexter (The Magnificent Seven), and Don Rickles (Kelly’s Heroes).

Run Silent, Run Deep is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. There are various versions.

2 October 2021

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