Man Vs. (2015): written by Adam Massey and Thomas Michael; directed by Adam Massey; starring Chris Diamantopoulos: Filmed north of Guelph, Ontario, Man Vs. pits Doug Woods, a minor reality show star, against Something. Woods is filming an episode of his show in the Northern Ontario woods. It’s a wilderness survival show in the tradition of so many shows on television. But then something happens, and someone or something starts stalking him.
Man Vs. is a fairly enjoyable, straight-to-cable movie with an affable protagonist in Chris Diamantopoulos (a recurring bit on Silicon Valley as a the guy who ‘invented’ Internet Radio definitely shows that he has acting range). The revelation of the menace is a bit of a letdown, as these things go, though the climax manages to throw in a gratifying extra twist. But the movie does do a nice job of slow-burning the tension in its first 70 minutes or so. Recommended.
Hobo with a Shotgun (2011): written by John Davies; directed by Jason Eisener; starring Rutger Hauer (Hobo), Brian Downey (Drake), and Molly Dunsworth (Abby): The gory, hilarious expansion of a gory, hilarious fake trailer in Grindhouse was filmed in and around Dartmouth and Halifax, Nova Scotia. In a grimy, horrible city controlled by a grimy, horrible crime boss (Lexx‘s Brian Downey, chewing the scenery for all he’s worth), only the arrival of Rutger Hauer’s Hobo brings hope. Especially once he gets a shotgun.
The film-makers turn the luridness of the colour up to 11 in an homage to exploitation movies of the 1970’s and 1980’s. The gore is often crazy, but framed in such ridiculous, parodic circumstances as to remove much of its shock value. I enjoyed this a lot — it’s a far better and more faithful nod to exploitation cinema that the two movies by Tarantino and Rodriguez that made up the bulk of Grindhouse. Rutger Hauer acts the hell out of his Hobo. He’s utterly invested. Recommended.
The Hidden (1987): written by Jim Kouf; directed by Jack Sholder; starring Kyle MacLachlan (Lloyd Gallagher), Michael Nouri (Sgt. Tom Beck), Claudia Christian (Brenda Lee), Clu Gulager (Lt. Flynn), Ed O’Ross (Detective Willis), Richard Brooks (Detective Sanchez), Clarence Felder (Lt. Masterson), and Chris Mulkey (DeVries): A great cult movie of the 1980’s that should be as fondly remembered as The Terminator, but isn’t. Plot revelations are part of the fun, so I’ll only say that mismatched cop and FBI partners Michael Nouri and Kyle MacLachlan are terrific as they pursue a puzzling series of normal citizens who suddenly turn into crazy killers.
A great cast of character actors helps elevate the movie, as do Claudia Christian’s killer stripper, some extremely good creature effects, and a narrative that’s lean and compact. Science-fiction historians can note the movie’s extreme similarity to both Hal Clement’s classic sf novel Needle and Michael Shea’s 1980 novella “The Autopsy.” Twin Peaks fans may note that MacLachlan’s performance here seems like a practice run for FBI Agent Dale Cooper. Highly recommended.