by STEVE LeMASTER
Fourth of July weekend saw many distributors taking a vacation, with scant releases vying for shelf space. The good news is that this consumer “Dead Zone” is the perfect time to release edgy stuff that usually gets lost in the shuffle.
“God Bless America” — If Joel Schumacher had guts, he would have made “Falling Down” look more like this movie. The film charts the rapid descent of an ordinary schmuck who just can’t take it anymore. He gets fired from his job and then learns he has terminal cancer in the first 10 minutes. That leaves the rest of the movie for his strange rampage that sees him meting out violent retribution to lousy drivers and reality show numbskulls. The kind of film that could only come from Bobcat Goldthwaite (“Shakes the Clown”).
“Mannix: Season 7” — Mike Connors returns as the hard-edged private eye in this penultimate season. These episodes never made it to syndication and are finally available. There are less fisticuffs (Connors was well into his 50s), but Mannix still tackles puzzling enigmas with his standard sock to the jaw. Guest stars include Sam Elliot, Frank Langella and Claude Akins.
“The Entity” — A young woman is repeatedly assaulted by a sexual predator in this adult horror drama. The story is based on a real case and it is delivered in a straightforward manner that doesn’t shy away from the subject matter, but which also manages to be more of a drama than a terror tale. Taut direction by Sidney Furie (“The Boys in Company C”) is well matched to the performances of Barbara Hershey, as the victim, and Ron Silver.
“Joshua” — Child-based horror movies tend to fizzle out as they don’t reach their target audience (parents, who are too busy to watch horror movies about killer kids). This one works and charts the horrors that ensue when a second child comes along and disrupts the world of her older, and very nasty, sibling. This is more of an in-your-face yarn than the dramatic “We Need to talk about Kevin,” but it is well done. Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga star as the harried parents.
Next week brings the sequel that reunites the characters of “American Pie” in “American Reunion.”
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