Documentary Spotlight: The Unbinding (2023)

by robotGEEK

The team behind the excellent docu-series Hellier (2019), Greg and Dana Newkirk, return with this documentary about a mysterious haunted object that was found in the woods that wrecks havoc on anyone who possesses it, and their attempt to return it back to it's original resting place. 

Occult experts Greg and Dana Newkirk, along with their eager friend Tyler, upon discovering the mysterious artifact, do a helluva job uncovering its secrets, history, origin and ultimately it's purpose. Then they need to figure out a way to return this artifact back to where it belongs, which is not as easy as you would think. 

Reteaming with their friend Kark Pfeiffer, who also directed Hellier for them, this documentary is a nice companion piece to their previous and effectively creepy series, especially if you're in the mood for something witchy. Greg is such a likable and personable guy while his wife Dana comes off pretty intense. It's a good balance really, while their young friend Tyler gets so excited about anything related to the paranormal, he adds that little bit of charming naiveté to the mix, like a little kid excited for his birthday.  

Available to rent on Amazon Prime


The Cult Corner: Altered States (1980)

by robotGEEK

"The most terrifying experiment in the history of science is out of control...and the subject is himself"

I forget what the reason was or how it was brought up, but recently Altered States was mentioned on my Instagram (@robotgeek) and it got me thinking that I hadn't seen it in ages. I grabbed my old snapcase DVD and threw it on that night and was completely floored by this experience for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I was floored by how good this was. Secondly, that I hadn't remembered a thing about it, and third, that nobody ever talks about it, which is kind of shocking to me.

This is one of those film experiences that I simply adore. The kind that sort of shocks you in a good way and reminds you why you love movies so much. Altered States, if I had to compare, reminded me a lot of David Cronenberg's The Fly (1986), a bit of The Exorcist and also Brainstorm (1983); a sort of hybrid of body horror and science fiction, even though this came out many years before The Fly. Everything about this production is top-notch. William Hurt was good and hungry (you can tell), Bob Balaban is always a treat to watch when he pops up in films from this period (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 2010), but the real scene-stealer was Blair Brown who absolutely delivers a knockout performance as the long-suffering wife. 

I think that one thing that dramatically elevates this film to a much higher level overall is the absolutely stunning cinematography by the legendary Jordan Cronenweth (Blade Runner). It's an absolute stunner to look at with every shot a breathtaking work of art. Coupled with director Ken Russell's direction, it's a masterclass in visual storytelling. It's so surprising to me that it didn't leave a stronger impression on me when I originally watched it the first time around years ago. It's now a personal favorite. I actually immediately got online to upgrade to blu ray but decided that I'm perfectly happy with the grainy look of the DVD. I feel it adds to the aesthetic. While I have seen a few of Russell's films such as Lair of the White Worm, Gothic, Crimes of Passion and The Devils, none of them really stood out to me in any fundamental way other than thinking they were strange films. I guess it's time to revisit them and see how I feel about them today. 

Wonderfully trippy, gorgeously executed with some stellar performances, stunning visuals and a riveting subject matter, Altered States is an overlooked gem that begs to be discovered. 


90's Action Attack!: Digital Man (1995)


by robotGEEK

80's & 90's low-budget sci-fi/action should be a genre all on it's own, because some real gems came out of that period, and I'm still discovering some of them even to this day, like this one. Funnily enough, I've had this VHS for so many years I can't remember, but I never got around to watching it for some reason. Recently when I decided to sell of the majority of my collection, I decided to finally give it a watch and well, I fucking loved it. I had no clue what to expect, only knowing that it has a kickass title and stars Mathius Hues (Dark Angel) as the titular Digital Man.

First off, it's awesome. What I took away from this was that it looked and felt like Captain Power (are you old enough to remember that?), only 100 times better. I guess with a title like Digital Man, I was expecting a lot of really bad CGI, thinking a good chunk was going to take place in a virtual reality world like a bunch of others that came out around this time, but I was wrong...thankfully. This film takes place primarily in a desert town filled with a surprising amount of notable character actors you'll surely recognize. And because it takes place in said environment, they can go crazy with the pyrotechnics, and boy do they ever. This this is filled to the brim with nonstop action and an insane amount of explosions. It's never boring, and overall looks surprisingly good. Hues barely utters a word, but is intimidating with his size and giant hand cannon. 

Being as it's never been officially released on any other format other than VHS here in the states (maybe Laserdisc?), I think I'm going to hang on to this tape and keep it with my collection of films that have never made the leap to digital yet. 

You can score the VHS for generally cheap, but I know there's an upload of it on YouTube somewhere. Other than that, I don't know of it streaming anywhere. 

New Film Review: Spaceman (2024)

by robotGEEK

I caught this today and I absolutely loved it. Slow sci-fi is my jam, but slow surreal sci-fi drama? Even better. Adam Sandler plays a cosmonaut named Jakub who is on a year-long solo mission to Jupiter to collect samples from a mysterious pink cloud that has been coloring the skies of the planet earth for 4 years. Jakub and his wife Lenka (Carry Mulligan) also happen to be in relationship turmoil as she’s about to give birth to their child on earth while Jakob is away, coincidentally dealing with his inner demons, when an alien visitor suddenly appears on Jakubs ship. This alien (voiced by the tremendously soothing voice of Paul Dano) is fascinated by this human cosmonaut, and even more so by the emotional and psychological toll this trip has taken on him. Is Jakub hallucinating? Is the alien real?
I can already tell this is going to be a hot one they will divide people. I thought it was fantastic. Bleak drama-driven sci-fi is a genre I adore and Sandler gives a haunting performance as a man who’s tired, lonely, stubborn, and oblivious to the fact that he has personal demons he’s never addressed. Mulligan (who was just nominated for an Oscar) plays his long-suffering wife and does a great job. I loved the tone, the effects, the surreal aspect of not knowing of what is happening is really happening or not, the beautiful haunting score and the retro aesthetics. Ultimately it’s a film about love, a connection, our self-sabotaging tendencies and what matters the most. I can’t recommend this one enough. What a pleasant surprise.

Streaming on Netflix


New Film Review: Poor Things

by robotGEEK

Generally I tend to focus my reviews and posts on older films, anywhere from the 70's on through the early 2000's, which is wild to think that the aughts era is already sort of retro. Time flies! But I just saw this film last night and I thought it was incredible and I haven't stopped thinking of it since. 

I knew nothing going into this. I hadn't seen the trailer (not sure why), and to be honest I've never seen a film from director Yorgos Lanthimos. It looked fantastical and I found it an unusual film to get so many Oscar nominations, but since it did, I figured it would be worth checking out, and boy was it. 

Bella (Emma Stone), a recently deceased woman, is brought back to life (re-animated is a more appropriate term) by an eccentric doctor, brilliantly played by Willem Dafoe. As Bella begins to experience life with a new brain, she becomes deeply aware of both the pleasures and cruelty's of the world. We follow her life and these experiences through her naive eyes as her adventures take her all over the world, culminating in her discovery of her former self before she died. 

Poor Things is one of the best film experiences I've had in years. Think something along the lines like as if Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton and Jean-Pierre Jeunet had gotten together and made a film when they were in their prime. It's a strikingly beautiful, fascinating and unusual film, yet a very special experience. Wildly eccentric, whimsical, bizarre and unconventional in the most unexpected way. It was also shockingly erotic, which was a surprise. I mean, there is a lot of sex in this film. Hugely fantastical with a bit of steampunk and a lot of imagination, I can wholeheartedly say that Poor Things is unlike anything I've ever seen. 

As I mentioned earlier, I was surprised to hear of all the nominations for a film of this genre, but after having finally seen it, I get it. It absolutely deserves all of those nominations, even if it doesn't win any of the major ones. The recognition is completely deserved, not the least for Emma Stone's thunderous and brave performance, Yorgos' incredible and unconventional direction, the jaw-dropping set, art, costume and makeup design, and a haunting score by Jerskin Fendrix. If you're a fan of visual arts, this is a must-see experience. 

Streaming on Hulu Plus

I'm Baaaaaaack.....

Hello everyone, and if you're one of my regular followers, thank you for having stuck around during my very long absence. I had a very difficult 2 years. The worst 2 years of my life if I'm being honest, and needed to step away and focus on my life, which had completely fallen apart in December of 2021. It's taken me this long to pull myself together and while I can't say I'm back to my old self 100%, I do feel a lot better than I have since 2021. 

Despite my life being in turmoil, I still managed to watch an insane amount of films and shows during this hiatus, and pretty much kept my focus on my Instagram page, which is where I have my biggest audience. I do love it on there though because it allows me to interact in real time with my followers through commenting and private messages. So if you're on Instagram, please give me a follow at @robotgeek. I'd appreciate it! 

So just wanted to say that I'll try really hard to get back to posting regularly, along with some paid review gigs here and there. 

Thanks for sticking around. 



Lost Cos: The Genre-Bending Feature Debut From Robin de Levita Hits Theaters December 8th


Directed by: Robin de Levita

Lost Cos, the directorial debut of renowned theatre producer Robin de Levita, who's producing credits on the stage include Chicago, Titanic, 42nd Street, Into the Woods, Contact, West Side Story, The Who's Tommy and a host of other projects, makes his feature film debut blending a slew of genre's that is a little hard to categorize, but also the reason that makes it quite unique, something most films are scared to do. That in itself makes it stand out from the crowd. 

Eni (Evgeniya Radilova) is a dental assistant by day, who finds solace and comfort in the underground world of cosplay and burlesque at a club called Lost Cos. At Lost Cos, she feels at home and considers her fellow performers family. Scarred by a traumatic childhood and still reeling from the loss of her true love in a brutal manner, she is sucked into a mystery when a fellow performer and cosplayer known as Merman is found dead on the beach. As the investigation into this mysterious death unfolds, she begins to receive mysterious messages from a stalker, her trauma comes flooding back and Eni is forced to deal with her past head-on. Will it be the final tipping point and break Eni? Or will it force her to confront the danger and past trauma head on? You will have to watch it to find out. 

Blending the cosplay, comic book and burlesque community into a story wrapped around a detective mystery, with some slight comedy, is a bold choice, but I feel those in the cosplay community in particular will enjoy this one. Let's face it, what other film can you name off the top of your head that includes that community in a film that's so integral to the story? Think about it. I'll wait. You can tell de Levita is passionate about that and seeing everyone with their invented characters and especially with their stage performances in the club is truly inspiring. There is a deep passion there, and a LOT of this film is centered around that. So cosplayers, there is a film out there for you, and it's called Lost Cos, made and performed by those with a real love for that art. 

With multiple storylines going on, I will admit it's a bit all over the place, but also a bit refreshing. It's different, and I always welcome different. The acting is surprisingly good all across the board, and the music soundtrack will definitely have some people on their feet. Not surprisingly, considering de Levita's background, the stage and production of the burlesque shows are very impressive and take center stage for large chunks of the film. It's also nice to see those communities having a spotlight for a change, and done in a very real-world way. 

It's an artistic film experience all around, which also dives deep into comic book lore, which I also found refreshing. There are even a couple of animated sequences that were impressively done. I enjoyed these segments so much that I kind of wish there was more. They were really fun. All in all it's clearly a passion project done by someone who's love of comic books, art, animation, stage design, cosplay and burlesque shines through and elevates the film. And that surprise ending really caught me off guard. 

Lost Cos hits theaters December 8th



The Cult Corner: Barb Wire (1996)

by robotGEEK

Recently, I dove hard into the Hulu original series Pam & Tommy, which chronicled the tumultuous relationship between Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee, and their infamous sex tape. If you haven't seen it (the show I mean), I highly recommend it. It's an absolute gem of a show. Trashy, riveting and a ton of fun from start to finish, full of shocking moments and really great performances. I just loved the tone of it and it's such a wonderful look back into the 90's. But with that series, I was reminded of Anderson's attempt at breaking into big budget mainstream Hollywood with her depiction of the Dark Horse comic book character. Sadly, the film didn't ignite her film career the way they had hoped, and ultimately it ended up a flop. What makes matters worse is that the release of the film coincided with the unauthorized release of her sex tape and while some will say that the sex tape derailed her film career, the reality is that Barb Wire just isn't a very good movie. 

I was honestly hoping for a good bad movie, or an entertaining one at least. I mean, I know it didn't do well, but I know that Pamela had a lot riding on it, despite the bad timing. I knew it was directed by famed music video director David Hogan (Most Wanted), marking his feature film debut, and I was honestly surprised at how badass the supporting cast was. But more than anything, I was curious to see why nobody ever talks about it. Surely there's "something" to like here. Was it literally just bad timing tied to her sex tape? On the surface, it has all the right ingredients and it should have been a blast, even if it was unintentionally bad. So I intended to find out. 

While there is some good stuff going on in here, I think the biggest issue this film has is that it's so dull. It spends way too much time focused on the "politics" of this apocalyptic world and not nearly enough time on the action. Other than the final 20 minutes, I only counted one other action sequence in the entire film, and that's honestly a huge travesty because I'm sure like most people, I thought I was going into an action film, but there was very little action to keep things going. Instead, it's a lot of talk, and when the majority of the film takes place inside a bar, well you have to keep things interesting. But they don't. It was shockingly dull, and a lot of that could have been fixed by simply throwing in either large amounts of unnecessary nudity (which it surprisingly doesn't have), or lots of action. Instead we get lots of talking. 

On the plus side, Pamela is actually really great in it. She was made for the role and genuinely gives it her all. David Hogan's direction is mostly solid. I was actually a bit surprised in this area. Typically music video or commercial directors go all out their first time out making a feature film, throwing out every trick they know to impress the hell out of us, the way Michael Bay and David Fincher did when they first burst onto the scene, but Hogan's direction was surprisingly restrained here, even a bit amateurish at times, which was a shame. 

Like I mentioned earlier, it has all the right ingredients. It should have been fun. I wasn't expecting it to be great, but I was expecting to be entertained. I was expecting action, unnecessary nudity, and even some camp. Instead, I was incredibly bored. Such a pity. I think what most people will find shocking is that it's co-written by Chuck Pfarrer, who wrote classics such as Hard Target and Darkman. I just don't know what happened here though. I mean, the guy even wrote Virus, which was an absurdly hot mess, but oh so entertaining. I think that's what I was hoping for here. We just didn't get it. 


Documentary Spotlight: Life After The Navigator (2020)


by robotGEEK

Hello, and welcome back. I know it's been a long while since my last post, but I'm still around. My personal life took a serious detour into shit. But I'm still around. I just haven't had the drive or motivation to really do anything that I enjoy. But I'm slowly trying to get back into it and put my life back together after the hellish 4 months I've experienced. But...moving on. 

While diving back hard into films, I've recently found myself really getting into documentaries all of a sudden. But that shouldn't be too much of a surprise as documentaries have gotten really, really good lately. So expect a few more documentary recommendations in the next coming weeks. First up, the excellent Life After The Navigator, which chronicles the sad troubled life of Flight of The Navigator lead actor Joey Cramer before, during and after his experience making the cult classic Disney film. We all know the general story of how he ultimately became a drug addict after the film, which would eventually lead to his now infamous arrest after robbing a bank. But there is so much more to the story and so much more to his life story that I just didn't know and it's truly quite fascinating. 

This also acts as a great "Making Of" documentary that dives deep into the making of this cult classic. While there has been some great new stuff regarding Flight of The Navigator to come out lately, especially with the release of the Limited Edition Blu Ray from Second Sight in 2019, which included brand new interviews with most of the cast and filmmakers, there's still so much to discover regarding the making of this film, and this excellent and touching documentary delivers so much more new information and behind the scenes goodies that haven't yet been revealed or touched on. 

Life After The Navigator is touching, sad, poignant, gripping, entertaining and an immersive experience into the sad life of a gifted young actor who battled demons his entire life, working hard to overcome them and re-emerge triumphant on the other side. 

I'm not aware of it being available to purchase on physical media in the U.S., other than the Out Of Print VHS release via Lunchmeat VHS release, but it's currently streaming FREE on TubiTV and The Roku Channel.