Robert Wm. Gomez's

What We Do in the Shadows (7/10)

A decent entry in the never-ending series of mock documentary films. This one follows the mundane lives of three New Zealand vampires. It has its moments and is a zillion times better than the various attempts to make a monsters in the real world story like True Blood.

Four Riders (8/10)

Not all Shaw Brothers martial arts movies take place in ancient China. Four Riders is set in Seoul during the weeks following the Korean War when bell-bottoms and disco hair were apparently all the rage. Not much in this movie makes any sense, but if you can take a deep breath and ignore the gaping plot holes, it's a fun ride with a wild climax. Features: a dart throwing hentchwoman, apocalyptic biblical references, gym-kata and a shorty-robe wearing crime boss.

Saturn 3 (5/10)

I remember seeing this movie in the video store with its super-cool robot on the cover and thinking, "This rated R so it is probably a super graphic and scary sci-fi movie like Alien." Alien kinda traumatized me as a kid so I was never in a rush to rent this one. Now, thirty years later I have finally mustered the nerve to watch it. Dear gawd, it's low budget crap. The R rating is mostly from the inclusion a seventy-year-old Kirk Douglass's naked bum.

Green Room (8/10)

The first fifteen minutes of this movie are noteworthy for accurately depicting what it's like to be a touring punk rock band. Sleeping on floors. Scrounging for gas money. Playing for nobody in the middle of the day. The rest of it is a thriller in which the band needs to figure out how to get out of a deadly situation involving a calculating club owner and his neo-nazi followers.

The Killer Is on the Phone (7/10)

Not that it matters, but the title of this film has nothing to do with what happens on the screen. There are maybe two seconds where we see the killer on the phone but it is just a throwaway moment. I wanted wicked taunts and heavy breathing! I assume the Italian producers were just trying to cash in on a 70s telephone-based murderer craze? In any event, this is a mystery thriller which is pretty light on the thrills and very heavy on the talky bits. Despite this abundance of dialogue, Telly Savalas is underutilized having maybe three lines.

Rage on PC (5/10)

Going Down to Brown Towne

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. This game is the epitome of bland first person shooters and Id Software should know better. They still seem not to know that there are colors beyond brown. There are no attempts at originality here. The post-apocalyptic setting is like a colorless, un-fun Borderlands. The barely-there plot is a rehash of the Fallout fish out of water structure.

The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper (7/10)

Pulpy science fiction about a remote planet on which the inhabitants are convinced exists a super-computer that could solve all their problems. The characters search for it, and, in the process, build a thriving planetary economy.

The Last Jedi (8/10)

I went into this having avoided the trailers or anything that could potentially spoil this for me. Despite its flaws I really liked The Force Awakens and was excited to see the story continue. For the most part I enjoyed The Last Jedi, but the plot was extremely clunky. There's a whole section where Fin and annoying girl go to space Monte Carlo and rescue space horses. The entire fin plotline could be removed from the movie without consequence.

Grave of the Fireflies (7/10)

This classic Studio Ghibli cartoon is about the horrors of war. But it's really more about the horrors of a teenager who is too much of a stubborn jerk to get help for himself and his toddler sister.

To Build a Castle: My Life as a Dissenter by Vladimir Bukovsky (7/10)

A memoir of what living in The Soviet Union was like in the 60s and 70s. Bukovsky spent most of that time in prison camps and mental institutions. His big contribution was exposing the use of psychiatric evaluations to label dissenters as mentally unfit for trial. Despite being the harrowing nature of his predicaments, he makes it seem like routine daily life in the U.S.S.R.