Directed by: John Carchietta
Run time: 88 minutes
The Lowdown: I can’t think of anything more terrifying than raising a teenage daughter in this era of the digital apocalypse.
I mean, come on, it’s hard enough to keep up with the traditional teenage rites of passage – sneaking out, stealing a beer, lying about spending the night at a friend’s house, boys.
But when you add the Internet, and its myriad of pathways to the worst that society has to offer, all bets are off. Parents have no hope at maintaining 24/7 watch on a wicked young mind that aims to do as she pleases.
Teenage Cocktail is like a horror movie in that way. Annie (Nichole Bloom) is awkward and unsure of herself; Jules (Fabianne Therese) is confident and self-aware. She casually smokes between classes, dresses older than she is and knows a like-minded soul when she meets one.
As Annie and Jules begin to connect, director and co-writer John Carchietta frames their budding friendship and dawning feelings of intense affection and desire in the classic tropes of high school romances dating back generations. But then the here-and-now of modern technology creeps in, and Annie discovers that Jules is using an online persona and a webcam to make quick cash, which she socks away in the hopes of finally leaving their small town for good.
Amid the real-world distractions, the fights with her parents, and her failing grades, Annie becomes obsessed with the idea of leaving on an adventure with Jules, and so she encourages Jules to let her join in the online escapades to attract even more viewers.
That’s how they meet Frank (genre icon Pat Healy), a miserable, blue-collar married father with a penchant for spending cash as tip gifts to various young women he discovers online.
Frank is ready to take his online proclivities to the next level. Annie and Jules sense an easy mark. What could go wrong?
Teenage Cocktail is true to its name. Carchietta has created an intoxicating, unsettling and effective peek behind the curtain as puberty coalesces into young adult yearning and first love, and he doesn’t waiver in tracking the downward spiral down to its most uncomfortable depths.
This is a poignant and timely film, but also a queasy watch, especially for parents of high-school-aged girls. BVB highly recommends you check it out.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – Yes.
Gore – No.
Drug use – Yes.
Bad Guys/Killers – Pervy old guys cruising the internet.
Buy/Rent – Buy it.
Blade of the Immortal (Magnet Releasing, 140 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): True confession, I really don’t care for samurai films. I’m not sure why, but this particular subgenre has never been a go-to viewing staple for me.
That said, I am happy to report that Takashi Miike’s 100th feature film, Blade of the Immortal, does its very best to satisfy even more-discerning critics such as myself by opening with two epic sequences of sustained violence and brutality that immediately transport you back to the days of feudal Japan.
Directing 100 films is an incredible milestone, and as much as I or anybody who treasures some of his more diverse cinematic offerings would like him to return once more to the horror and gore of classics like Audition or Ichi the Killer, there’s no refuting that it’s still thrilling to watch Miike work his magic.
Blade of the Immortal isn’t a slam-dunk. It drags at times, especially during talky scenes packed with exposition, but boy howdy, Miike still knows better than most directors how to perfectly frame a lopsided battle to generate maximum tension and excitement.
Drag Me to Hell: Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory, 99 minutes, PG-13, Blu-Ray): It should be a crime to ignore a Sam Raimi horror film.
After all, Raimi is one of THE original masters of horror, and he also gave us the greatest first film ever made by a young director (The Evil Dead).
Which is why it perplexes me still to this day how Drag Me to Hell, a classic slice of Raimi-penned, gore-drenched insanity laced with pitch-black humor, was largely overlooked upon its release in 2009.
Drag Me to Hell is like a Saturday matinee feature that takes a hard swerve immediately following the credits, subjecting an unsuspecting audience to a thrilling and anxiety-ridden hell-ride into the abyss. It’s the stuff of classic lore, complete with a wretched gypsy hag whose first impulse is to place a curse; an ambitious young woman trying to please her boss before listening to her morality; and a goofy boyfriend who has no idea that he’s about to watch the love of his life get swallowed up by clawed hands stretching all the way up from a fiery pit.
In between, Raimi keeps his foot firmly on the gas, delivering one thrillingly unpredictable moment after another, none better than a vicious tooth-and-nail fight inside a parked car in a deserted parking garage.
Thanks to Shout! Factory for wisely reissuing Drag Me to Hell as a deluxe collector’s edition. Please, go show this true cult classic the rightful love it deserves.
The Aftermath (MVD, 95 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): VCI Entertainmenmt continues its rollout of long-forgotten cult classics with this 1982 sci-fi gem, The Aftermath.
Written and directed by Steve Barkett, who also stars in the lead role, The Aftermath is the greatest MST3K-worthy, post-apocalyptic dystopian nightmare ever committed to film.
Starring a young(er) Sid Haig as the leader of a band of mutated miscreants, and Barkett as the guy who happened to fall to Earth in a spaceship at exactly the worst time possible, The Aftermath is the epitome of drive-in cheese at its finest.
The Sinner: Season One
Broad City: Season 4
Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years Vol. 1
Act & Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials
Not to be Overlooked:
Red Eye (Terror Films, 73 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): Normally, my first instinct would be to thoroughly trash a movie that values wanton exploitation above basic filmmaking tenets, but I can’t lie – the longer I watched Red Eye, the found footage/straight slasher mash-up directed and co-written by Tristan Clay, the more I fell under its sick little spell.
Red Eye is least effective in its core narrative, which involves a group of friends heading out to a remote wooded area to document what is believed to be the killing field of a local urban legend named Red Eye.
This wannabe Blair Witch, at least early on, drags in large part to the overly-chatty, ridiculously serious discussions that the four friends engage in. You’ve got one guy, Jake, who is cheating on his longtime girlfriend Rykyr with another female friend Ryann, and both women are participating in the trip. Then you’ve got Gage (Scott King), the novice filmmaker purportedly making the documentary about Red Eye, who encourages those three to accompany to the mountains of West Virginia.
But once the killing starts, Red Eye finds its groove, and then some. Clay doesn’t hold back, throwing every conceivable atrocity possible at audiences, including an extended and graphic scene of necrophilia that is both shocking in its unexpected arrival and downright devious in its ability to add an even darker layer to the central antagonist.
By the time all is said and done, Red Eye has left a bloody mark. It may not be the best first film you’ll ever see, but you won’t easily forget it, and that’s saying something in today’s marketplace.