With so much content on Netflix Instant it is easy for some titles to just get lost in the shuffle, and with Netflix streaming now accounting for the majority of all American internet traffic, someone needs to start sorting this all out. Welcome to Netflix Top Picks, where I will select items from the Netflix Instant service you just have to add to your queue. Today’s focus: chicks who kick all sorts of ass. Or kill all sorts of ass, really.
Title: American Mary
Genre: Horror Movies Slasher and Serial Killer Movies
Run Time: 1hr 42m
Directed By: Jen Soska Sylvia Soska
Starring: Katharine Isabelle Antonio Cupo Tristan Risk David Lovgren Paula Lindberg Clay St. Thomas
Synopsis: Medical student Mary Mason is becoming dissatisfied with her path in life, mostly because she’s piling up massive debt. But when she’s offered a lucrative opportunity to get involved in extreme body-modification surgeries, she jumps at the chance.
My Analysis: What’s a pretty young medical student to do when faced with looming bills and sexually reprehensible male colleagues? Bone up on her skills, of course, which is exactly what Mary Mason (Ginger Snaps’ Katherine Isabelle) does when approached by a human Betty Boop (seriously!) looking for an off-the-radar plastic surgeon. Simultaneously entering the world of body modification and seeking revenge on an unethical superior, Mary becomes a successful, celebrated, unlicensed surgeon, trying to cover the gory trail left in her wake. While clumsy in spots, the Soska Sisters’ sophomore effort gets by on its witty disposition and charming lead. In fact, it’s so full of well-played, strange ideas that the unfocused final third still retains interest, even as it devolves in to a ho-hum revenge fantasy.
Title: Battle Royale
Genre: Foreign, Action Thrillers, Foreign Action & Adventure, Thrillers
Run Time: 1hr 53m
Directed By: Kinji Fukasaku
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Tarô Yamamoto, Takeshi Kitano, Chiaki Kuriyama, Sôsuke Takaoka, Takashi Tsukamoto, Yukihiro Kotani, Masanobu Andô, Ko Shibasaki
Synopsis: When even schoolchildren begin to abuse a system on the verge of social collapse, the Japanese government introduces a strict new punishment whereby randomly chosen students are taken to a deserted island and forced to fight each other to the death.
My Analysis: Kinji Fukasaku’s unprecedented take on “Lord of the Flies” is more of an ensemble, but for my money the star killer is put-upon student Mitsuko (Ko Shibaski). While her peers are short on character and gravitas, Mitsuko’s few appearances showcase a teenager bullied to the edge, and empowered to seek vengeance. You almost root for her, since her plight, although a bit ham-handed (alcoholic mother? Really?), resonates so heavily. Especially despicable/delightful is her cunning attempts to briefly befriend unsuspecting classmates just before using her scythe to slice them to bits.
Title: I Spit On Your Grave (Day of the Woman)
Genre: Cult Movies Horror Movies Cult Horror Movies Slasher and Serial Killer Movies
Run Time: 1hr 41m
Directed By: Meir Zarchi
Starring: Camille Keaton Gunter Kleeman Anthony Nichols Richard Pace Eron Tabor
Synopsis: When writer Jenny Hill rents a remote cabin, she’s surprised to find the locals far too friendly. But what follows is decidedly unpleasant: After being violated and left for dead, she goes on her own spree of killing, mutilation and castration.
My Analysis: What a waste of such a great exploitation title; the ubiquitous box art (sadly, I’ve been aware of that iconic image for at least 30 years) is the beginning to the purposely titillating rape/revenge flick, in which…well, a woman is raped – a lot – left for dead, then charms the rapists with her wiles before killing them in awful ways. (Spoiler alert: she cuts one dude’s dick off). Revenge movies are easily tedious and pointless, and Grave seems to lead them all, with its nihilistic view of humans and, especially, the use of sex and sexuality in society, all in the name of entertainment.