THE MUTILATOR (1984)

THE MUTILATOR is a surprisingly entertaining slasher, a sort of SAVED BY THE BELL meets FRIDAY THE 13TH – except with a little more beer. Directed by the incomparable Buddy Cooper with co-director John S. Douglass, the film is also known as FALL BREAK and contains a theme song of the same name. That extraordinary tune comes courtesy Peter Yellen and the Breakers.

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SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS (1988)

Five years after the scandalous events of Robert Hiltzik’s SLEEPAWAY CAMP comes SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS, a 1988 horror that jacks up the comedy and has no lack of sexual obsession. This time, however, the focus is on punishment and castigation. It’s a lot of stupid fun.

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SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)

A campy horror in more ways than one, Robert Hiltzik’s SLEEPAWAY CAMP is as demonic as it is peculiar. This 1983 picture is a wicked slasher, showing us a world that is insane and wholly recognizable. Its placement at a deliriously detached and amoral camp plays to the fears of anyone who’s been dropped off in the middle of nowhere to “enjoy the summer.”

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BLACK CHRISTMAS (2019)

Directed by Sophia Takal, the 2019 version of BLACK CHRISTMAS has a clear task. That task is presumably controversial, as many a viewer was allegedly triggered by the “feminism” prowling within. This film is guided by feminism, the sort of thing sure to offend some of the pill-popping typecasts that call themselves horror fans.

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W. (2008)

Oliver Stone’s W. resonates today like an artifact from another reality, sometimes even another planet. This 2008 biopic of George W. Bush explores a political and personal life that was, at the time in many circles, judged for its ineptitude. In the light of this year and this time, it feels downright picturesque.

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UNDERWATER (2020)

“Derivative” is not the best word to describe a movie, but it’s hard to escape using it to cover UNDERWATER. The 2020 science fiction directed by William Eubank is notable for being almost exactly like the 1979 science fiction ALIEN, except it takes place in the titular environment and pulls its monster from a somewhat different mythology.

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CATS (2019)

When the trailer for Tom Hooper’s CATS came out, the reaction was immediate. This was some weird-looking shit. At best. But the 2019 film itself is somehow far, far more peculiar than anything the trailer hinted at. That is no small feat, especially when you consider Hooper’s track record and the impressive cast.

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SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (2018)

It’s hard to come up with words to describe exactly how full of energy and joy SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE really is. The 2018 picture scooped the Best Animated Feature Oscar and for good reason, as this foray into the Marvel Comics universe is a truly special experience. It takes the superhero genre and remembers what it should be: a fantastical, almost euphoric romp through worlds of possibility.

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JOKER (2019)

If you were to simplify Todd Phillips’ JOKER and perhaps observe the battered flesh scraped over the bones of its star, you might find the villain. This 2019 picture has been polarizing critics the world over, as if the goal of art is accord and like-mindedness. The themes, however, are bare as greasepaint.

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