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Louis Black muses on holidays

Louis Black muses on holidays
Nov. 15, 2010
By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor

Some films you'll find a local video outlets and some you'll have to order through Netflix are featured in this week's DVD column.

Surviving the Holidays with Lewis Black
The release of this holiday special produced for the History Channel is timely as it deals with the history, traditions and psychology of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's Eve.
Black is the host and one of my favorite comedians. He comes across as a slightly deranged college professor and is perfect as our guide through these holidays.
If you have ever cringed at going through a family holiday event, worried about what gift to buy or dealt with stress caused by relatives you see once a year, this DVD may provide some solace for you and some laughs as well.
Historians, a family therapist and a bevy of fellow comics relating their own observations about the holidays join Black on screen. Among the contributors are Bob Saget, Joy Behar, David Alan Grier, Larry Miller and Dom Irrera. I particularly liked Miller's comments about families.
Black and company address the inequities between Hanukkah and Christmas, assuring Christian viewers the eight days of gift-giving does not necessarily bring more or better presents.
Viewing this DVD may become a holiday tradition for me or just therapy.
Night of the Demons
While I've been a serious horror film fans since high school, there are hundreds if not thousands of fright films I've somehow avoided or missed seeing and the original "Night of the Demons" is one of them.
Therefore I have no idea if the new remake with the same title is a worthy successor of the previous film or just a pile of trash.
Judging it on its own merits, I have to say it's a pile of trash.
Shannon Elizabeth plays a party promoter who is staging a boozy sex party at a long- abandoned mansion where, in the 1920s, there were multiple homicides. What she doesn't know is that demons seeking entrance into this world were involved and they are still on the premises.
Toss in the necessary amounts of drunk and amorous young people, some special effects gore, a couple of demons and add scene after scene of people running from room to room and you have a movie not one that is any good, but it is a movie.
Perhaps the most distressing thing is seeing Elizabeth, who is an appealing performer, in a thankless role and Edward Furlong, who has done some really good work, in an even less appealing role as a drug dealer.
Yecch.
Altitude
I'm not sure what is worse a film like "Night of the Demons" that tosses together the proven elements of sex and violence or a film like "Altitude," that tries hard to be different but fails miserably.
When a group of college students get into a small plane to travel to a concert one quickly sees the filmmakers have stayed to the beaten path. There is the heroine who has learned how to fly as a tribute to her mom, a pilot killed in a plane crash years before; an obnoxious wrestler who is the boyfriend to a girl constantly video-taping everything; a cynical musician; and the pilot's boyfriend who is scared of flying and whose parents died in a plane crash.
Coincidence? No, plot point!
For the first third of the film, these characters bicker back and forth as the plane in which they are flying heads into a ominous cloud. Once in, they can't get out and in the middle of the cloud spoiler ahead is a giant flying demonic octopus thing with a lot of teeth and tentacles.
I know the writer and director of this film were trying hard to come up with a narrative that was different, but this film takes a turn for the ludicrous and it never recovers.
If you rent this one, brace yourself for a crash.

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