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.