The New Mutants is a spinoff of Fox’s X-Men film franchise about some of the younger and lesser known mutants within that universe. A teenage girl named Danielle (Blu Hunt) is the sole survivor of a mysterious freak disaster and is brought to a special institute run by Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga), who informs Danielle that she is actually a mutant. At her institute, Reyes studies the behavior of young, struggling mutants and helps them control their abilities. But when the other patients (Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga) begin to experience nightmarish hallucinations, they start to realize that Reyes’ facility isn’t exactly what it seems.
In Unhinged, struggling single mom Rachel (Caren Pistorius) just can't catch a break. Her ex seems to have the better divorce lawyer, she's always running late, her career is slipping, and her day is only about to get worse. When she takes a detour to try to get her son (Gabriel Bateman) to school on time, she has a little road rage altercation with a disgruntled driver (Russell Crowe). Little does she know, this man has nothing left to lose, and he decides to stalk her, leaving a trail of destruction in his path.
Director Sergio Martino is a cult favorite among fans of Italian horror, having directed such classics as Torso, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, and The Case of the Scorpion’s Tale. But he has dabbled in other genres as well, albeit to varying degrees of success. In fact, Martino made two westerns in his career as a director Arizona Colt, Hired Gun and Mannaja (aka A Man Called Blade). I’m a huge fan of spaghetti westerns, and the latter of those two is actually one of my all-time favorites. For some reason, I don’t see a lot of people talking about this one, especially when describing the best spaghetti westerns. But since it’s one of my favorites, I’d like to talk about it here.
Shock value is a valuable, and versatile, tool in horror movies, and some types of horror are more reliant on shock value than others. Some movies, like Dead Alive and my personal favorite horror film, Evil Dead II, use absurdly excessive gore for black humor. Other horror films, like Pieces and The New York Ripper, show brutal violence in graphic detail for (consciously) cheap thrills. And some films, like Midsommar and I Spit On Your Grave, starkly depict abuse as a way of generating awareness for such atrocities. But whether it’s being used for comedy, exploitation, or social commentary, is it possible for a horror movie to go too far with its shocking content? Sure, plenty of films over the years have been accused of doing so, but pretentious critics have been dismissing horror movies as filth for decades, even going back to Psycho, a movie that, while fantastic, is incredibly tame by today's standards. But has it ever actually been true?
I’m somewhat of an aficionado of exploitation movies. The good ones are awesome and entertaining, and the bad ones are just plain fascinating. For those who don’t know, exploitation movies are movies that are typically low-budget, and whose major appeal/selling point is their (often excessive) lurid content, sometimes in reference to controversial topics of the time. And I’m certainly not the only fan of movies like these. Hell, I was born after the majority of the most beloved ones were made. But in the early 2000’s (beginning with movies Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever), people started becoming nostalgic for these movies, and thus began the market for exploitation throwback films.
In 1980, director Joe D’Amato made a movie called Antropophagus (aka Anthropophagus) (aka The Grim Reaper), and it’s quite... unique. It’s not unique in the way that surreal horror like Hausu or Eraserhead is; more so in its execution. I’ll elaborate on that shortly.