(On Cable TV, September 2017) I have no fondness whatsoever for the home-invasion subgenre, in which randomly self-proclaimed psychopaths invade a house of innocent people and proceed to at least try to slaughter nearly everyone. The family often fights back, but there’s no telling how complete the body count will go. The Last House on the Left is one of those low-imagination, high-gore horror movies that really don’t bring anything new to the table … even considering that this is a remake. Seemingly trying everything possible in order to be repellent to viewers, it also hinges on an extended rape sequence, irremediable villains and a last shot that ramps up the gore to ludicrous levels just in order to be able to please the gorehounds in the audience. In-between, there’s not a lot to say: If there’s an intellectual subtext to, say, seeing good people answer violence by violence, then it’s nearly undetectable underneath the lavish attention spent on the horrors of the surface. It’s almost interesting to see actors with mild-mannered personas such as Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter turn homicidal as threatened parents, but really the movie itself isn’t special. The Last House on the Left certainly doesn’t manage to break out of its genre strictures to appeal to audiences who don’t like the essential premise of that sub-genre.
(On Cable TV, June 2016) There’s no denying that Ghost has ascended to the film pantheon as a romantic fantasy film (cue the pottery sequence!) but a fresh viewing shows that the film is a bit more than that: Beyond the romance, it’s got strong comic moments, a decent amount of imaginative flair and quite a few thrills. Anchored by Patrick Swayze’s fair performance and bolstered by a surprisingly funny and good-looking Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost is more interesting when it deals with the mechanics and complications of a ghost trying to make contact with the living. Suspense elements are woven (not always seamlessly) with comic sequences, giving the film a multifaceted appeal that doesn’t quite degenerate into abrupt tonal shifts. Demi Moore is a bit generic and baby-faced Tony Goldwyn is more fascinating than anything else considering how well he has aged in Scandal. Still, the film holds up relatively well beyond the pottery sequence, hitting marks on a wide spectrum of targets. It’s enough to make anyone wonder if today’s blockbusters have grown a bit too selective in their intentions for fear of tonal incongruity. Ghost, at least, deftly goes from romance to comedy to horror to thrills, and the result still speaks for itself.