I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

This is a classic piece of pre code social problem film making. What shocked me watching it in 2022 was how well it held up. 

The pacing and superb craft on display make this film feel incredibly relevant and modern. 

Based on the true story of a WWI veteran sentenced to hard labor in Georgia, the film doesn’t need to embellish as the true account is stranger than any fictional narrative could concoct. James Allen is a man lost after the war who tried to find engineering work only to be turned away in the midst of the depression. He ends up an unwilling accomplice in a robbery and sent to work on the chain gang. He escapes and builds a respectable life only to have his past come back to haunt him. 

Few scenes in the film last longer than 2 minutes. The script is ruthlessly efficient. It conveys all the emotion and plot in as few lines as possible. This is backed up by the filmmaking. James is stuck in a factory job, but he yearns to be an engineer. He works at his factory desk underneath a giant window. Outside the window he can see a major construction project. The job he wants is looming over him as he files paperwork. The visuals use a shorthand to reinforce the minimal dialogue. 

I loved the sound design which is unique among films of this time period. Sound design as a concept wasn’t really defined until the 70’s. This film from 1932 incorporates a rich sound design to bombard the viewer with the relentless noise of the chains as James Allen suffers on the chain gang. 

The performances usually trip up older movies. They’re often too showy and theatrical. Some verge on theatrics, but they are anchored by Paul Muni who brings a naturalism to his portrayal. 

The characters aren’t deep, but they all serve the narrative. That narrative proved life changing. This film and the true story it’s based on helped influence public opinion and abolish the chain gang system in America. 

The film has maybe my final line in any movie. The final scene is haunting and riveting. It’s a little melodramatic, but it packs a punch. I love this movie.

This movie is my cup of tea. A+

Battlefield Earth

We’ve watched a lot of bad movies. We thought we’d seen it all. But this week our special guest Rich Horecki brought us something that redefined our definition of bad.

In this sci fi epic, based upon the works of L. Ron Hubbard earth has been colonized by a race of aliens known as psychlos. When one human learns their language he leads an uprising against the Psychlos and their terrible teeth.


Halloween Month 2022

Well, it’s been a wild ride. I have managed to keep up my tradition and watch a different horror film everyday in October. I have not however kept up with writing a review each day for these movies. Sadly, my life and work schedule just have not allowed me to time to sit down and churn out the reviews in the way I would have liked. So here is my month in review. Each film I saw and a brief review of each.

  1. Eyes Without a Face – I reviewed this already. Super creepy. Great face removal scene

2. Nope – Artsy horror. Horror with a message. Jordan Peele’s latest is a solid movie and an interesting horror story

3. Umma – This movie was fine.

4. Scanners – Oh Cronenberg, you crazy body horror man. Really enjoyed this one.

5. We Are Still Here – Still sends chills down my spin. Good ghost story

6. House – Weird horror comedy. Still not sure what this was. Kind of entertaining though

7. Saint Maud – Oh jeez this movie. One woman’s descent into madness. Enigmatic and disturbing.

8. Hocus Pocus – I wish I loved this the way everyone else seems to. It has its moments, but didn’t really do it for me.

9. The Loved Ones – Ugh this movie is messed up. Completely disturbing.

10. Blair Witch – Zero for two in the Blair Witch universe so far. I know there’s another movie in the series, but I’m never checking that out. Bad movie.

11. My Bloody Valentine – This was a pretty good slasher. I liked it alright, but it didn’t leave a deep impact on me.

12. Mimic – Oh boy this was a strong movie. Great creatures. Awesome direction. Creepy and suspenseful.

13. The Bye Bye Man – Mostly forgettable in retrospective. It had a few moments, but it’s not a memorable movie.

14. Halloween Ends – I think this takes the crown for worst movie of the Halloween marathon. What a piece of garbage. See my full review for how much I hated it.

15. Prom Night – Here’s a much better slasher starring Jamie Lee Curtis.

16. X – Shocking, surprising, scary, funny, gross, its was everything I wanted it to be.

17. Pearl – Shocking, tense, and uncomfortable. Watch this woman lose her mind in beautiful technicolor.

18. Significant Other – Awesome. Really fun. Really cool. Interesting story. Unique premise. I don’t like the ending as I think bout it now, but I really liked this movie overall.

19. Disturbing Behavior – Interesting mess of a movie. I don’t recommend it unless you really want to see movie ruined in the edit.

20. Tremors – Oh boy what a fun movie. This was a really enjoyable creature feature.

21. Cape Fear – A different kind of horror. It certainly horrified me.

22. Frankenstein – As part of the podcast, we watched four scary movies. I loved this one again, and enjoyed sharing it with Michael.

23. Night of the Living Dead – I forgot how much fun this movie could be. I don’t like zombies, but they work here.

24. The Exorcist – The filmmaking is incredible. The pace is too slow at the start. Overall good movie.

25. The Ring – I enjoyed revisiting this one with Michael considering we have a shared history with this movie. It was a lot of fun to check it out again.

Now we’re getting into the movies I haven’t reviewed

26. Barbarian – This movie is unbelievable. It incorporates a unique story structure that keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat. I loved it. A full review will come.

27. The Black Phone – Ethan Hawke is superbly menacing and creepy in this abduction story that was really enjoyable if a divided in its attention.

28. The People Under the Stairs – Wow. This is the most movie I’ve seen in a long time. This one left me drained and wiped out because of how much happened. I loved it, but oh boy.

29. The Howling – A werewolf story that opened with a glacial pace and ended with a gripping conclusion. I really enjoyed this one once it got moving.

30. The Addams Family – I needed a break from the disturbing intensity, so I went spooky and cooky. I love both of these movies. A lot of fun.

31. The Addams Family Values – Once I watched the first, I had to watch the second. I just wanted to spend more time with this crazy family.

32. The Wretched – Terrible movie. This one is on Netflix, and it sucks. Don’t waste your time.

33. The Curse of Frankenstein – Awesome Hammer horror. I love that Frankenstein is the true monster here. I wish we had more time with his creation, Christopher Lee is fascinating here but gets too little screen time.

34. Horror of Dracula – I love this version of the Dracula story. It takes a lot of liberties with Stoker’s original film, but it’s so good. It felt perfect on Halloween night.

Well this has been my month. I wish I could have kept up with the reviews each day, but it just proved to be too much. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to tackle the month more effectively, but regardless I’m going to continue enjoying my month of fear and frights, and deeply disturbing behavior. More reviews will come, thank you for joining me on this spooky journey.