Film Review: Metal Lords (Netflix)

By: Jesse Striewski

I really wanted to like Netflix’s attempt at appealing to the metal community with this new teen comedy/drama. But while the film is harmless enough, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling there was just something missing from it the whole time.

The plot follows high school outcasts Kevin (Jaeden Martell) and Hunter (Adrian Greensmith) as they navigate through bullies, parents, and trying to find a bass player for their would-be metal band in order to play their school’s “battle of the bands” contest. They eventually find some camaraderie via an equally awkward social misfit (Isis Hainsworth), but not before some predictable “but she’s a girl!” arguments first.

While the music is spot on and the metal references are heavy, nearly everything feels driven by cliche and predictably. Not even some cameos (and some fairly bad acting) from metal greats Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Scott Ian (Anthrax), Kirk Hammett (Metallica) and, um, Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) can save things in the end.

Is Metal Gods a bad movie? No. But is it really anything we haven’t already seen before? Not really. In the end, it really is “just there,” and the world would not miss a beat with or without its existence.

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Film Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Netflix)

By: Jesse Striewski

My interest in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise as a whole has steadily been waning for years. But this latest incarnation/wanna be direct sequel to the original (Tobe Hooper already did that in the mid-’80s, and much better at that) is almost as painful to watch as that last sorry excuse for a Halloween movie.

Never before has a franchise film felt like such a waste of time, with characters I could not care less about. The weak storyline involves a bunch of (surprise!) obnoxious influencers going to small town Texas to shoot some videos or something, and of course they unwittingly come across good ol’ Leatherface (who looks more like Wrinkles the Clown this time around), and Sally Hardesty (originally played by the late Marilyn Burns, but this time by Olwen Fouere), the lone survivor from the original film.

It’s also annoyingly obvious what audience the filmmakers are playing towards here (should have just called it The “Woke” Chainsaw Massacre), and nearly every scene is cliched and predictable. The writing is lazy, and there’s nothing of redeeming value here. What’s left of any menace from the Leatherface character at this point is long gone, too.

The problem with shameless “retcons” like this, that ask you to forget all its other sequels that came before it, is there’s absolutely no artistic value to them. The people who make this kind of trash are literally counting on you, the audience, to be stupid, and not care about the fact they’re using cheap gimmicks to appeal to your emotions (Think, “If we use an already established franchise, who cares if it’s actually any good or not, these morons will keep coming back for more, because we TELL THEM TO.”) Save yourself the time; this is one pitiful excuse for a film that should not even exist (give it a few more years and I’m sure they’ll just retcon and redo this garbage again soon, anyway).

Rating: No Stars

Series Review: Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer (Netflix)

By: Jesse Striewski

When I was a kid growing up in the ’80s, my first impression of a serial killer wasn’t the likes of John Wayne Gacy or even Ted Bundy, who were both before my time. Yet I can vividly recall seeing the 1989 TV movie Manhunt: Search for the Night Stalker, and always remembered the ending where an angry mob takes down and catches the so-called Night Stalker (I can even remember thinking in my young mind, “so that is what happens to serial killers.”). Ever since then, my idea of a serial killer, of pure evil personified, has always been – and always will be – Richard Ramirez, a.k.a. the Night Stalker.

Netflix has compiled a stunning, four-part documentary series, detailing the crimes and footsteps taken by Ramirez during his 1985 California killing spree. But don’t get it wrong, the purpose here isn’t to glamorize Ramirez’ crimes, but rather give voice to the actual victims, family members, witnesses, reporters, and several other key figures linked to the rampage at the time. But it’s the firsthand accounts from the likes of Gil Carrilo and Frank Salerno, the homicide detectives assigned and closest to the case at the time, that truly offer the most gruesome insight. Hearing many of these horror stories at times are as heartbreaking as they are disturbing.

It’s safe to say that shows/mini-series like these are not for everyone’s tastes. But those who have the desire to get inside of and learn more about the mind of a truly disturbed individual such as Ramirez, will no doubt be able to do that here. It’s a fascinating, albeit harrowing road to go down, that’s not for the faint of the heart.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars