Battle Royale

Taboo to mainstream.

What a long, strange trip for this tale of Japanese schoolkids forced to fight to the death on a far-flung island.

The final film from a 40-year career for director Kinji Fukasaku, it predates The Hunger Games novels by almost a decade, and originally could only be seen on often-fuzzy bootleg tapes.

Nowadays, I can just fire up my Roku and find this ripe slice of the ol’ ultraviolence on any of a hundred streaming channels.

Either way, it was, and is, a punch to the gut in a way no PG-13 blockbuster ripoff/homage can ever be.

Alone (2020)

Tired title, decent film.

There are two 2020 movies with the same name, and a brief look at IMDB finds about 12,000 other uses of the title.

The one we’re talking about is a tense thriller found on Hulu.

Keeping things lean-and-mean, it’s mostly a two-character piece, with a creepy dude and an iron-willed woman battling after the former kidnaps the latter.

Things take a turn when the grieving widow busts free, setting up a war of wills (and the occasional handy car jack).

Not going to win any Oscars, but perfect for a lazy afternoon under the blankies on the recliner.

Night Terror

Punch the gas and don’t look back.

Six years after Duel set the standard for the genre, Valerie Harper joins the “being chased by a psycho on the open road” club in this fun 1977 TV movie.

This time out, our heroine witnesses a police officer gunned down on a dark and desolate stretch of highway, then is pursued by the remorseless killer.

Played by Richard Romanus, the bad guy is extra-creepy, the kind of dude who terrorizes greasy spoon waitresses in his spare time, and speaks through a voice box for that added WTF effect.

Buckle up, folks.

A Quiet Place

Don’t make a sound.

A nerve-shredding tale of a family trying to stay alive after an invasion by very-hungry ET’s who respond to noise, this was a pleasant surprise when it hit screens.

John Krasinski, out of The Office and running through the woods, proves to be a triple-threat, directing and co-writing, as well as playing the head of the family.

Even better is his real-life wife, Emily Blunt, superb as always as one mad mama.

By focusing on the life-or-death situation primarily through the eyes of one family, the film keeps its focus, and its thrills and chills, sharp.

 

Delivered

You were expecting, but were you expecting this?

One second, you’ve found a cool new friend at your mommy and me class.

Then that new pal turns out to be a whack-a-doodle intent on stealing your offspring right after birth.

Awkward…

Tina Majorino, normally pretty easy-going in films from Waterworld to Napoleon Dynamite, gets a Misery-style makeover, abducting Natalie Paul and holding her prisoner at the family farmhouse.

Tragedy has marred her life, providing a rationale (of sorts) for her twisted plans, but that doesn’t change the fact the mom-to-be isn’t a huge fan of the proposed theft.