Night flights

Apartment Zero
Anchor Bay

Adrian LeDuc (Colin Firth) is watching his life come apart. He's a lonely Brit living in Argentina, forced to rent a room from his mentally ill mother due to lackluster ticket sales at his revival movie theater. When the tall, dark and handsome Jack Carney (Hart Bochner) enters his life, the isolated Adrian falls for his charming demeanor. They forge a friendship despite being polar opposites; Jack is unkempt and relaxed while Adrian is stiff and aloof. All goes well until Adrian discovers that Jack may not be who he says he is. What little stability Adrian has collapses under the weight that Jack may actually be a hired mercenary responsible for a series of politically motivated killings. The menagerie of tenants in his apartment building suspects that Adrian may be heading down the same paranoid path as his mother. But nothing is what it appears as the plot twists reveal a wicked tale of two men without a sense of self who're desperate to make a human connection. Rightfully praised in 1988 for its stylish Hitchcockian atmosphere, Apartment Zero proves itself a film for film fanatics, littered with sly references to The Tenant, Rosemary's Baby and Midnight Express. Writer-producer-director Martin Donovan deserves the acclaim for this indie film's success; what could've been a vanity project proves to be the perfect combination of political thriller and diabolical journey into two men's psyches. His original script is chock-full of crisp, subversive dialogue — punctuated with words like persuasion, switch and special — which hint at the film's darker erotic subtext. When Adrian pleads, "If that is a mask please take it off now, or keep it on forever," you'll wonder which option is worse. Two commentary tracks are found on the DVD; one from the director who claims to have not seen the film in years and other from director Steven Soderbergh. His affectionate commentary is all the more poignant since Soderbergh's film Sex, Lies and Videotape was in competition with Apartment Zero at the Sundance Film Festival. Neither film won the Grand Jury Prize that year. Go figure. —Paul Knoll


Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave

In keeping with the previous Return of the Living Dead installments, this entry isn't going to make anyone think of George Romero, except to say, "See? This is all your fault." What this lacks in suspense it more than makes up for with good old reliable predictability, and like a bad restaurant with speedy service, you don't have to wait long for your first brain mastication scene. A scientist (played for all of two minutes by Peter Coyote) is killed over the experimental drug he's been working on. His nephew gets a hold of the drug's last canister, as do his friends, including an eager-beaver dealer named Skeet who samples it and thinks it's the logical successor to X, despite his eyes bulging and entire face stretching like a Tex Avery cartoon. Undaunted, they unwittingly market the drug as Z, which, irony of ironies, will shortly turn everyone into zealous zombies. You can argue that the rave angle is about 10 years too late and they're playing nu-metal instead of techno but at least these suburban ravers-turned-zombies get one thing right — they have the good sense to replace smart drinks with actual brain fluids. Best scene, when a girl drops a Z before orally pleasuring her boyfriend who crows, "Girl! Slow down! Usually I don't get none of that unless I take you to the Olive Garden!" —Serene Dominic


First Born
First Look Pictures

From Adventures in Babysitting to infanticide in two decades of moviemaking, Elizabeth Shue has demonstrated that caregiving and undertaking need not be mutually exclusive activities. She plays a retired dancer turned stay-at-home mom whose loneliness is compounded by being plunked into a big spooky house in the country and a husband who always has to work late. Matters take a turn for the worse when she gets her hair shorn Sharon Stone short and starts acting, well, crazy. On hand to ease her into uneasiness is a Third Reich nanny and an infant doll that everyone keeps confusing with the genuine gargler. (Hint: The real baby is the one that's breathing — or at least it was the last time someone checked.) Don't let the upside-down cross in the title lead you into thinking this baby has some demonic upper hand. With one or two amendments, this could be a Lifetime flick about post-partum depression. Or Munchausen by proxy. Or the psychological ramifications of bad hair days. —Serene Dominic


Masters of Horror: Pro-Life
Anchor Bay

It's heartbreaking when filmmakers become shitty, which is exactly what happened when the great John Carpenter tackled the controversial topic of abortion with this entry in Showtime's Masters of Horror cable series, entitled Pro-Life. Actually, it's too bad the project didn't get aborted itself because this is one ugly kid. The story follows an anti-abortionist (Ron Perlman) who plans a siege on a clinic that's housing his daughter, who just happens to be giving birth to the spawn of Satan. It's an interesting premise, but don't be fooled by its non-assy exterior. With zero Carpenter style and a baby's daddy cameo by some schmuck in a laughable rubber demon suit, this episode simply screams amateur hour. If the filmmakers wanted to piss people off, they succeeded only by skull-schtupping Carpenter's legacy. Have sex, get an abortion, worship the devil, but by all means, stay away from Pro-Life! —Jeremy Wheeler

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