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I just hope I can help you find an interesting and entertaining waste of time and not a complete waste of time that you can never get back.
Just remember, if you're watching a film and you really don't like it then turn it off and do something more productive like washing the pots or making love.
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An Okay Remake... Which Fails Slightly Because It's A Near Duplicate...
This is pretty much a straight photocopy of the original film, though, with a few extras thrown in and a couple of new ideas.
I liked the fact that the opening sequence is similar to the original. Initially, I was a little confused with the similarity but then the twist kicks in. It turns out to be the dance where the teenagers lose their lives and start the No-Dance Law. However, the parallels didn't stop at the start. Though I have to be grateful that the "Tractor Chicken" scene was changed out for the bus demolition derby. This added a nice bit of excitement. Though the cover of Holding Out For A Hero was atrocious.
Actually, Craig Brewer's direction is crisper than the first film, though it has less iconic moments as he just duplicated them. By doing this they lose some of their power. For example, Ren's "Dance-Angry" scene in the abandoned barn. When Kevin Bacon did it you thought, wow, this guy is angry, look at those moves, and what attitude. Now, when Kenny Wormald does the "Dance-Angry", even with the added moves and different camera angles you don't get the same thoughts... you're too busy thinking of Kev - sorry Ken.
This happens a few times throughout the movie. Though "Let's Hear It For The Boy" was a nice touch. I even preferred this version of the Reverend. Dennis Quaid gives a quieter and more controlled portrayal than John Lithgow (who was brilliant as the over-powering version). Quaid's Reverend is more fitting for this film.
In fact, I liked most of this cast. Julianne Hough's Ariel is a little dirtier and more wild-child than Lori Singer's. Though Singer's and Bacon's on-screen chemistry was better and more believable. The best casting decision was Miles Teller as Willard. He fits the country-hick better than Christopher Penn did. He's also not as wooden as Penn was - a great bonus, as I didn't feel embarrassed for him when he came on-screen. I just have one question though, why did Andie MacDowell take this part. It's tiny and not that important. MacDowell doesn't bring anything to the part. Any other actress could have done better. While writing this review I realised I'd truly forgotten she'd even starred in the film - thank you IMDb for the cast list.
I still prefer the original than this one, though only just. This is still a kick-ass rock-and-roll dance-to-live movie, which I found highly enjoyable. So if you like this sort of thing, give it a try - you shouldn't be disappointed.
From Beyond (1986)
Perfect Lovecraftian Insanity... A Must Watch...
HP Lovecraft gone insane... Thanks to the writers who adapted Lovecraft's short story to film we have a crazy and nasty tale of greed. Greed, not for money, but for knowledge... of everything.
Brian Yuzna, Stuart Gordon, and Dennis Paoli give the viewer a dark and twisted ride through the dark side. When Dr Pretorius (played perfectly lascivious by Ted Sorel - who should get a "Urgh!" from the audience) and his Student, Crawford Tillinghast (expertly portrayed by Jeffrey Combs - another of my favourite actors), get the resonator fully working it not only stimulates the pineal gland but opens a doorway to the dimension where the dark gods reside... and they can see us...
Stuart Gordon, wearing his director's hat, gives the audience a tasty eye candy flick. I loved the way that the house was surrounded by total blackness. No light bleeds. No twinkling stars. Nothing. But the house itself is in full light. Even the gothic gates and the long walk, with planted flower beds, are well illuminated. This does well to inject a creepy feeling into the brain. Gordon is great at creepy. He uses camera angles, lighting, and characters to freak you out. He's not afraid to try new ideas. Hitchcock did a great fall down a flight of stairs in Psycho. Similar to that, Gordon has a superb flight from terror scene, also down a flight of stairs. I loved this scene and the use of the camera and actors.
As for the acting, as previously stated both Coombs and Sorel are excellent in their characterisations. Barbara Crampton is good as Dr Katherine McMichaels... though she gets a lot better when the more sensual and sexual side of her repressed character comes through as this gives her more scope. Ken Foree gives the best performance of his career as Bubba Brownlee - he feels so natural and real in this strange environment. Even Carolyn Purdy-Gordon gives a memorable performance as the thwarted, but soon to have revenge, Dr Bloch.
Add to this, some excellent wet-work special effects and get a fabulous waste of time. On a limited budget, this is a tour-de-force. There are so many good effects I don't have an actual favourite. The Pretorius creature is nasty and scary. I loved the way his head constantly sways from side to side. The eels and the jellyfish floating in the air appear insubstantial until they attack. And, the wonderful melting man of... Ah, couldn't spoil it for you could I?
This is one to watch if you're a horror fan, an HP Lovecraft lover, or an aficionado of S/FX (as they said, way back in the eighties). In fact, if you want a film to get you into horror this is one that can; it has all the elements a horror film should have.
I loved this film when it came out. I love this film still. It will be a film I will always go back to. Hope you enjoy it too.
If you're interested in where this film rates in my lists, please feel free to come and check out Absolute Horror and Guilty Pleasures.
There's A Good Bad Moon On The Rise... Kung-Fu Cowboys & Biker Werewolves... YEAH!
Okay, I'll start by saying that this is not a horror film. If you're looking to be scared then this tale is not for you.
What this movie is more a dark western fantasy, set in present times, based around supernatural creatures; lycanthropes - werewolves. And, it's not that bad.
The story is way out there, quite a few miles past the twilight zone... It's a story of one man's revenge against the men-come-creatures who killed his beloved. The trouble is evil never dies and once the creatures draw breath into their lungs so does our good cowboy hero. As we progress through the story we learn more about the good-guy in black. Such as he was trained in the martial arts by a long-dead Asian Warlord who had pledged to defeat these demons. How much cooler could you get than when the werewolves dispatch a biker gang and take their leathers and rides. What more could you ask from a story - an undead ghost trained, martial arts cowboy killing lycanthrope bikers from hell.
If the budget had been bigger then this could have been a truly awesome B-movie. Luckily, writer and director, Josh Ridgeway infuses his film with as much imagination as he did within his story. There are some nice camera angles and pans that add to the strength of the film. He's even adept at using lighting to create an atmosphere. I believe that if he wanted his audience afraid he could have put the scare into them.
Though Ridgeway shoots his action scenes with skill and minimises the shaky-camera effect to good effect the fights are too slow. On the whole, they are well choreographed, they just need to be a tad faster to make them exciting.
The acting is also above par. Tom Zembrod as the Alpha Werewolf Willie Price is perfect. He has such a good repartee, especially when he's chanting and bating Colt, our kung-fu cowboy, that it keeps you smiling and watching. Matthew Tompkins as the Sheriff is gruff, strong, and ideally cast. I've liked Sean Patrick Flanery since I first watched him in Powder. However, in this film, he's not at his best. He seems to be lacking an "oomph" that his character requires. He gets the sleaziness across flawlessly but it feels like something is missing. The rest of the cast range from good to decent.
The special effects aren't brilliant but they do work. The worst, by far, is the rubber mask werewolf. The Willie Price werewolf is layered up and looks quite good - it's passable. But this only adds to the nastiness of ol' rubber-face. Good thing he's only around a few times. You can forgive and forget.
I would gladly recommend this Dark Western Fantasy to all. It's entertaining, humourous, and has its fair share of action. It's a bonus that the acting and the story are greater than the usual fodder of this type. A nice waste of an hour and a half. I'll even watch this flick again... Enjoy.
Feel free to check out my Obsidian Dreams list-come-chart to see where this places in my fantasy films.
Haunt!? It Didn't Haunt Me... Will It Haunt You?
To be truthful, most of the time this film is a yawnfest. The story has been done before. Quite a few times now... and a lot of them are better than this.
The story starts well enough. The teens are bored on this Halloween night (where's Mikey when you need him?) so they decide to go to an extreme haunted house. The trouble is they can't find it. However, while driving down a deserted country road Harper (Katie Stevens) spots they are being followed. In an effort to lose their shadow they take a turn off. This section is the tensest part of the film. Shame it's for nothing as the truck doesn't follow them... it was just a way to get the lost teens to an extreme haunted house, which may or may not be the one they were trying to get to. This scene is one of the better sequences in the film and wasn't even needed - why couldn't they just go to the haunted house? Why did the story need this nonsense? This is when the story started to slip for me.
I have to say that the haunted house and its inhabitants aren't too bad. Though more extremity in the scares would not have gone amiss. At the beginning, they have a silent creepy clown - nice. Inside and sans mobile phones they have a cheap plastic skeleton, a witch who supposedly tortures people (though, you never see much), a tacky maze made of pallets, a tunnel to crawl through, and a few holes to push your arms through. There's a couple of sections where spiders are involved but apart from that, there's very little to scare you here. Now don't get me wrong, the directors do an okay job of creating a little atmosphere and tension at some of these points to make you feel a little uneasy. However, should you have been in there, without the spooky music and ambience, then you'd, more than likely, just be bored. The story started to slip a little more. There had been plenty of opportunities to scare the bejesus out of the audience as well as the cast and the writers threw it away.
But we can't put it all down to the writers. The actors can share some of the blame for the weakness of scares. Especially the "holes in the wall" scene. Here was the perfect moment to show off your well-honed acting talent... okay, maybe not. To be honest, the cast is as average as it can get. The only one who brought some skill to the show was Andrew Caldwell who played Adam.
Then we get to the last third of the film and now the crap hits the fan... in a good way. You begin to realise that something isn't quite right about this haunted house. Yep, it may be boring as... hell, but what's happening behind the scenes? Blood, guts, and gore... that's what. The special effects are well decent. I especially loved the hayfork through the head... but not because of the hayfork through the head... but for the eye. Watch the eye of the attacked woman; it's details like this that adds the cherry to the top of the cake.
But all of this smacks as "too little too late". Some of the viewers may have turned off or switched over to watch Downton Abbey well before now. What the writers and directors, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, should have done was offer this excitement to the audience right from the off; or at least built up the story to this crescendo. Not put us through a dull two-thirds of the film and then dunk us into the mayhem all at once.
Then when the reason for the carnage is revealed it's weak and, well, rather silly.
Back in the fifties, it was the teenagers who were the evil ones. Dancing lasciviously to raunchy rock and roll and being wild and uncontrollable... with the latent desire to cause chaos and take drugs... In the seventies and eighties, it was the red-necks who could kill you and add you to the cooking pot. In the nineties and the noughties, the corporations were not to be trusted. They'd sell their souls and their families to be rich. For this film though, it's the body dysmorphic and the body modifiers who are evil... and for no other apparent reason but this. Come on guys, what did you do? Just pick a minority group - hey nobody's used these guys before, let's do it.
The thing for me is, I know a few people who have had implants and other modifications to their bodies. To me, it's not shocking. It just feels that Beck and Woods chose these just to shock... so for me, it was just a trashy gimmick.
In conclusion, I would only recommend this film to horror fans and only if you're all viewed out of the good stuff. You should enjoy the ending section though you'll have to wade through a lot of missed opportunities to get to it. But it's this climax that lifts the film into mediocrity and out of dreadfulness.
A Dark, Twisted, & Perverted Love And Revenge Story... With Clowns & A Black Elvis...
This is not a brilliant film... but it is awesome entertainment. I loved this B-Movie flick.
So the story isn't all that, but it isn't a rip off of Sharknado as the similar title implies. It's actually a dark and twisted love and revenge tale. After being caught in the process of stealing her husband's money - from the takings of his "Adult's Only" Circus - with her, soon to be deceased, lover Cash, Savanna and Autumn MoonSpell curse the hubby. This curse catches up with him and his sidekicks, still in clown make-up, hacking and slashing up dear dead Cash so he can be disposed of easier. The curse traps them in a Tornado. Only to be released to take revenge and spread chaos and mayhem... Which they do, oh, so, well!
For a low budget indie film, the surprising thing is the scope. The writer and director Todd Sheets isn't happy staying in one place. He takes us to a bar, a diner, on the road, to an airport, in a plane, and to some storage units. He gives us clowns, a sorceress, a stripper, an un-dead peed off anti-wifey, a corn-fed red-neck truck driver hero, and a black Elvis... what more could a story and a film need... Well, It is a horror film... so, lots of gore - yeah we get that too.
I should take this moment to warn you that this film does not fall into the clean-humour genre. The comedic element is dark, twisted, and macabre... but so much fun. So if you don't like dark humour then I'd stay away.
I also have to give Sheets credit for trying. This is not your average point-and-shoot movie. Sheet's works with light and colour to create and build his atmosphere. He uses camera angles and off-kilter pans to add unease. These don't always work, though most of the time they do. It's nice to see a director trying techniques to improve his craft and his skill. More power to you.
The special effects are on a sliding scale from bad to awesome. The bad being the weird bloody caviar jelly they use a lot in the beginning when throats are torn open. The awesome being the "Make a wish" wishbone pull apart of the diner waitress.
As for the cast... Well, it works. The strangest thing is the acting is the worst part of the film. John O'Hara takes over-the-top to new staggering heights, though his character, Big Ronnie, needs it. In fact when he becomes a little more "normal" you want him to get nutso again. Rachel Lagen as Savanna is wooden but the aggressiveness she put into her lines adds power to her character. These two are the married couple who initiate the chaos with their love-hate relationship. I especially loved the way that when these two talk to each other they do it as though they were in an old 50's noir movie. This way of communication only enhanced the film for me. The rest of the cast range between okay to passible to good.
The good thing is that there are so many different character types and so much happening that you can't help but be sucked into the movie.
This isn't a must-watch film but I would recommend it to anyone who wants to be entertained and doesn't mind a little bit of twisted fun. This has earned a place on my Guilty Pleasures List come Chart - come take a look to see where it placed... see if you agree.
Don't Go Down To The Desert Today, You're Sure Of A BIG Surprise... A Truly Awesome One...
"Them" has to be the atypical 1950's science-fiction horror monster movie flick. As such, it's also one of the strongest. This was a sheer treat to watch.
I like the way the audience comes into the story as it's just getting started. In quite a few films you have a little build-up or an opening sequence to thrill you. Here you get a nice black and white shot of the desert, some creepy opening music and the title... in colour. Nothing else is colour and that works brilliantly. It grabs the audience right from the start. Then we're in a cop car as the local bobbies head towards the scene of a sighting. A girl has been seen wandering through the desert. It's this girl that adds all the tension mystery to the film. Sandy Descher is awesome in this role as the Ellinson Girl. After being spotted by a pilot the police are directed to her whereabouts. Though they call to her she keeps walking. A steady straight as a dye path. Never faltering. Never slowing. When the cops catch her she is a total blank. Her eyes looking into the middle distance and seeing nothing. This is one of the eeriest moments I ever saw as a kid and the scene stayed with me... it sends chills down my spine today.
So now you should be hooked, there are so many questions that surround this silent vacant child you just have to keep watching. Luckily for us, the story that George Worthing Yates, Russell S Hughs, and Ted Sherdeman give us continues in a similar vein. Truthfully, the way this story continually unfolds until it's conclusion is ingenious. When you think it's over... it's not.
Add to this the great direction by Gordon Douglas and the films strength can only increase. Douglas can work all the angles. He gives the viewers a rollercoaster ride of tension, atmosphere, action, and stimulating sequences. His use of light and camera angles works wonders at bringing you to the edge of your seat. The scene where our group of heroes are in the desert looking for an answer to the child's predicament is one of my favourites. They are caught in a sandstorm and Dr Patricia Medford is detached from the team when a strange noise echo over the sands. The next scene where we see the noisemaker is well thought out (not going to tell you what is as I don't want to spoil it for you). But though the creature effect's, for their time, are pretty decent it still helps immensely when they are directed and shot well, as they are here... and as they are mostly throughout the film.
Sandy Descher isn't the only good actress or actor in the film. On the contrary, all of the cast give good performances and portrayals of their characters. Edmund Gwenn is particularly likeable as the professor, Dr Harold Medford, Patricia's father. Known as one of the best Santa's for his role in Miracle on 34th Street he's just as good here. There's even an early role for Mr Leonard Nimoy - he even has lines...
All in all, I would greatly recommend this to all. It's a great way to waste an hour and a half. This is one of my favourite movies of all time and if some of you also fall in love with it, all the better. This will be going in high on my Guilty Pleasures List-come-Chart. I cannot wait to watch it again... Hey, I think I have some time spare...
Now You See Me 2 (2016)
A Farfetched Sequel... Not As Enjoyable Or Magical As The Original...
What made the first film so good hinders this sequel. Trying to rival the original story's complexity, ingenuity, and content the writers, Ed Solomon and Peter Chiarelli, decided to go down the ancient secret organisation route. This makes it similar to John Wick's universe, though it's not handled so well. Whereas it's assassins in Wick, it's magicians and tricksters who are the secret hero watchmen.
You can just about believe a group of five people trying to make the world a better place. But make this into a shadow agency... of magicians and you're asking a lot of your audience. Also making it a continuation of the original instead of a new stand-alone story wasn't the best of ideas. Especially when you start to change the morality of the characters.
The director, Jon M Chu, does a fantastic job with the mess the writers gave him. In particular the electronic skeleton key theft. On paper, and in your mind, this entire routine is ridiculous in its absurdity. However, in Chu's hands, it comes off respectfully and almost believable. In truth, it's Chu who is the glue to this film. Without his, or similar directors, deft touch this movie would have been dire indeed.
The acting is passable, though only Eisenberg and Harrelson go the extra distance. Eisenberg is spot-on as the assertive, confident, and powerful showman. Harrelson adds an extra dimension by also playing Merritt's twin brother and ex-partner Chase. He pulls the two personalities perfectly. The way they play off each other is great. It's Freeman, Caine, and Radcliffe that are the weaker actors. This could be down to the writing of the characters or how the director saw them. Freeman's Thaddeus Bradley isn't as well constructed in the sequel. I think this is down to the fact that he's now a minor background character. Caine does his Caine thing, though it would have been nice to see a softer side when he's with his son. Radcliffe doesn't do bad guy. In fact, with the beard he sports, I'm amazed the horsemen weren't rolling on the floor with laughter. If you have that amount of money wouldn't you have a well-styled and trimmed set of whiskers?
I would only recommend that you watch this film if you've watched and enjoyed the original. If you haven't seen the first yet, get it watched - it's a good movie - then, only if you're at a loose end with nothing to watch, you can give this a try. It's not as good, though on a cold wet afternoon it isn't a bad alternative to a soaking bicycle ride.
Look At Jenny Run... Run, Jenny, Run... Away From This Awful Movie...
What the hell was going on when the writers penned this mess and the director filmed it? They must have either been drunk or stoned. In fact, that may be the state required to enjoy this travesty.
Okay, so the story isn't that bad - it's just your usual regurgitated 90's horror tale. A group of teens go to prom. Though on their way home they get lost and end up being in an accident. Three of the four decide to go and find help while the remaining teen stays behind with the injured driver of the other car. What could go wrong? Well, they do try to get help from the Slaughter family...
It's here that things start to fall apart and everything collapses in on itself. The worst thing with the story are the characters. These range from believable to the truly ridiculous. All the teenagers are truthfully represented. Even Darla Slaughter is a reasonable character... up to a point. I even like the strange relationship she has with Vilmer. However, Vilmer is the most terrible and implausible character I've ever seen. Then you have W E Slaughter who likes to recite quotes; though you have to wonder where these references come from as you never see him reading - though it is a good hook. As for good old Leatherface, you're not afraid of him. You may feel sorry for him as he's bullied by everybody else in the family and is usually running around in fright... having this family I'd be sprinting about too.
Speaking of running, Rene Zellweger should have tried out for the Olympics. This beautiful lady can run like she's got wings on her feet. It's worth watching the film for... almost.
The performers do great jobs with their characters. Zellweger is the strongest in the cast. This is because she has the broadest personality and range of actions. She's a shy girl who has to come out of her shell and get ultra-tough so she can survive the night. Matthew McConaughey is insane... he is so over the top as Vilmer that scenes with him in are nearly unwatchable. Not only do you need to keep your finger over the volume button for his temper tantrums but also Leatherface's screams. Robert Jacks who portrays him can hit notes that can shatter eyeballs. All this does is add to the unwatchability of the movie.
Halfway through your wondering what's happening. By the conclusion, that question is still there but you'll have added, why did I just watch this? This is the second time I've watched this rubbish and I have to say I still cannot answer those concerns.
Though I will admit there is one scene I love, not because it's good though. Vilmer is having a rant in the kitchen and Darla starts to argue with her so he throws her headfirst into the fridge door. He kicks her a couple of times and then stands on her windpipe. This is a really violent segment and looks nasty. But then you get a distance shot and though Darla is fighting to breathe she still has time to straighten her skirt so you cannot see her panties. This is a woman who regularly flashes her boobs at passing teenage boys as they buzz her place of work. It unintentionally made me smile as I thought of all the wrestling matches where they did the same sort of thing...
Anyway, I've given this bad piece of filmmaking too many words and too much time. Only thing I have left to say is... If this hasn't warned you off the movie let me put it in more concise form - Do Not Watch This Film.
It's just not a good waste of your time.
Feel free to come on over and check my lists for other possible viewing pleasures and you can see where this flick landed in my Killer Thriller Chillers list come chart.
The 6th Day (2000)
Buy One Schwarzenegger Get One Free... Great Value For Money...
Arnold delivers again... twice.
The writers, Cormac and Marianne Wibberley give the audience a well-thought-out and structured science fiction tale of cloning. Adam Gibson is having a great life. A woman and daughter he loves. A successful business. A perfect best friend and business partner. What could go wrong?
Unfortunately for Adam, he's about to find out. The Wibberley's are masters at climax development. They start by slowly introducing Adam to a few strange situations. These start to pique his attention, though it's not until he returns home that the depth of the mystery hits him. Before he can open the door he spots a strange man with his family... it's him. Then before he can enter and confront himself the shooting starts as a mysterious team turn up to take him away. From here on in Adam start to workout and find the answers to the myriad of questions in his mind. This story in itself is strongly plotted enough to keep the attention of the audience.
There is one slight irk I have with the story and that is with the constant re-cloning of the team. I can understand them bringing the leader back, Robert Marshall, and maybe Vincent, whose the heavy-hitter - but the cannon fodder... If the process costs so much why re-clone useless mercenaries when it's probably cheaper and better to hire new blood.
Should the story fail to keep bums on seats, then Spottiswoode's direction is more than enough to make up the slack. Everything in this film is well choreographed. A few things are reliant on special effects. Especially Adam's flight business as he and his partner, Hank Morgan, fly whisper-craft. These are predominantly helicopters that can transform into jet planes. Even for 2000, these effects are so good it's still difficult to see they're CGI. The sequence where Adam tests his new remote control is filled with excitement, exhilaration, and humour. This is carried through to the characters action sequences, with the added emotions of tension and suspense.
The major trouble comes to two of the main actors. Robert Duvall is so bland in his role as the doctor who implemented and conducts the cloning that a cardboard cut-out could have replaced him. Even when he knows his wife is dying and the reason behind her fate his emotions never alter. The other actor who could have been substituted was Tony Goldwyn who played Michael Drucker the billionaire financing the cloning. For the most part, he's okay it's just that he doesn't come across as powerful and aloof enough.
The rest of the cast is spot on. Arnie is in Action-Arnie mode for this outing so if you enjoyed Eraser, Commando, The Last Stand, and the like then you'll be pleased with this. Michael Rooker is in his Don't Mess With Me persona, which he does so well because I wouldn't. Michael Rapaport is great as the unkempt and loyal best friend. I thought it was a shame that Sarah Wynter, who played the hard-woman Talia, didn't come across as hard enough. She's a major character in the film, but she was fading from my memory as the credits rolled.
At the end of the day, this is an Arnie action film. This doesn't mean that you've seen it all before. Schwarzenegger is good at choosing a good story. So, even though his characters don't alter too much the stories do. There isn't a single movie he's starred in that I haven't enjoyed. I enjoyed this film when it came out. I enjoyed it when I watched it on video. And, when it came on the telly... you guessed it... I still found it highly enjoyable.
If you want good-humoured kick-ass fun this is the film for you. I would recommend this flick to everyone, it's a truly wonderful waste of time.
Satanic Panic (2019)
Could Have Been A True Horror Epic... But It's Missing Some Major Elements... A Great Pity...
So if you're looking for a comedy horror to watch then let me inform you that there's neither comedy or horror contained in this film. What you do get is an okay story held together with good acting and average directing, though well-paced to keep the action going and keep the audience from being too bored.
With a title like Satanic Panic, I had to give this a look-see. Who knows it might have been brilliant. Even the fact that Fangoria had gotten involved in the project was a big draw. It didn't take long for me to start groaning in despair though.
The worst thing about this film is the immature humour. Evidently shouting rude slang about sexual organs is riotous... or being a completely weird macho arsehole is a laugh-riot. Well, if they'd been handled correctly they might have been. But all I wanted to do was slap the idiots because that's how they came across - idiotic.
The best comedy scene in the film is when Kim escapes the Satanists and runs into their twisted evil offspring. There's a little wordplay, a little situation comedy, and a lot of slapstick - though all of this has dark overtones it's still fun to watch and made me giggle (the first and only time).
The writers, Ted Geoghegan and Grady Hendrix, should have dropped the comedic element and focused and the occult and horror side of things. This is already pretty strong, what with spells being cast, daemons being summoned, and virgins being impregnated... This could have been a true horror epic of our time - but they tried to be too clever.
Another thing that needed a lot of attention is the directing. Chelsea Stardust doesn't live up to her precocious name. On the whole, her directing is average. The opening sequence has the feel of a Lost Tape film, which is always a bad thing for me because the majority of these films are rubbish and annoying. So she already strikes against her before we started the story. Luckily enough, for me, she changed to the third-person style, though there was a lot of sloppy shaky camera work. Especially apparent in crowded scenes as the cameraman tries to get through the melee. Doesn't anybody use dollies anymore - a nice easy glide works wonders in a lot of scenes?
But her biggest shortcoming is the lack of atmosphere. This could have been down to the writing. If they were aiming for a more comedic movie then ambience may not have been what they were wanting. However, there are a lot of scenes where a darker atmosphere would have ramped up the power of the film. When Judi Ross is vomiting worms and earth. When the macho arsehole gets to meet his maker... and his entrails. When Baphomet enters the garden party. These are the major scenes that needed to be darker and broodier, but there are many lesser scenes also. This could have even helped with the comedic side of the story. As comedy always works better when it walks hand-in-hand with tragedy. The one thing Stardust excels at is pacing. The film jogs and sprints at all the right times and helps to keep the audience engaged and bums firmly seated.
Now the cast is superb in their roles and their portrays. I have to say though that it was difficult to make out Rebecca Romijn under the caked-on make-up. Her face must have been a few inches thicker. That said, she plays the perfect domineering leader, Danica Ross, who takes no crap and knows how to control her disciples. Jerry O'Connell is at his best womanising sleaziness as her husband Samuel. It's a shame that he has such a small part... Ruby Modine is delicious as their cunning and conniving daughter Judi. Even when she's forced to team up with our heroine your not sure what side she's on. Then we have our heroine, Samantha Craft, played by Hayley Griffith. Griffith does a good job with the naivety of the character, but it's this naiveness which causes me a problem. How does anyone be this innocent and gullible today? And the fact that she's supposed to be a virgin is farfetched... are things that different in America or are they trying to hold on to ideals of the past? Either way, it damages the character and the story since it's a major element to the plot.
At the end of the day, you have a movie trying too hard and missing the target. The acting is enjoyable and the story would be if treated better. But that's not enough to recommend the film. Is it worth watching on a cold wet day when there's nothing else to watch? At a push maybe, and then only if you're interested in acting. This is a real shame. As I said at the beginning of the review, this could have been an epic horror film.
Feel free to pop on over and check my Absolute Horror list come chart to see where this movie placed or to choose something for your viewing pleasure - you are more than welcome...
Itsy Bitsy (2019)
A Good Start... A Good Idea... An Average Horror Film...
This film started off so well. A tribal ritual. An ancient artefact. A vengeful primitive daemon. And a raiding party.
Then we're in small-town America and the story changes into your run of the mill terror tale... minus the terror.
This comes down onto the shoulders of the director, Micah Gallo. Even though he had half of his work completed from him - let's face it spiders will send shivers down your spine - he manages to suppress even their creepiness at times. The main problem is, even though he's a good director, horror is not his forte. There are some nice shots and his handling of scenes is good though he doesn't create an atmosphere to creep you out.
I believe the soundtrack is meant to do that. It's a weird cacophony that does little to add to the film but easily annoys the ears.
There is one scene though that should perch you on the seat edge. When the mother of two, Kara Spencer, checks up on her daughter in bed you get a nice sinister shot of the creepy-crawler lying in wait in the dark shadows. In fact, the close-ups of the spider are a little frightening. This could be put down to your own phobias more than the filming. The thing is I cannot figure out if it's CGI or a beautiful macro close-up of an actual arachnid. There are some scenes though where you can easily tell that the computer has taken over from reality. At these times the spider has a flat two-dimensional feel and I lost that fear the other clips gave me. Well, the horrid music was playing and the annoying lightning was flashing like a pervert on speed.
It's that simple to break the tension and eerieness you should be feeling - over stimulate the senses, and not in a good way.
As for the special effects, these should have gone an extra mile. There's a scene where the collector Walter Clark is looking through his library and comes across the story and illustrations regarding the Daemon. It shows the spider Daemon as having a human's head. If this had been incorporated right it could have been a truly fright-enhancing creature. Imagine a human head with spider-eyes and razor-sharp teeth. You could even have hands at the end of each of its legs... Imagination is your only limitation. Lamentably, there's very little imagination throughout the film and story.
The best thing is the relationships between the characters. This is at its most powerful when the cast is in conflict with one another. These scenes I found to be the most relatable and believable. The scene where Jesse argues with his mother, Kara, and gets a slap for his "insolence" is gritty and shocking. However, it's only in these moments that Kara begins to see the truth she's been running from.
I have to say that Arman Darbo, who plays Jesse, is an actor to watch out for. He is probably the strongest performer in the cast. Even the actress, Chloe Perrin, who portrays his younger sister, Cambria, is excellent at innocent naivety and infectious joyfulness. It's when you get to the main leads that the trouble starts. I like Bruce Davison, though I won't always watch a film in which he stars as he does more than his fair share of these turkey-esq flicks. However, this is the first one where he appears to have submitted and gives a performance lacking in character and strength. I'll put it down to an off-period. Elizabeth Roberts as the mother and nurse Kara is woefully under-skilled to pull off the emotional wreck that her character is. She suffers hallucinations of her past that bolster and boost her depression and anxiety. Now, this could be down to the writers understanding of these conditions, however, Roberts' puts this across by being a wild-eyed hyperventilater. Granted these are outcomes and coping methods for the symptoms but the way they are acted are too extreme. It would have been better and more believable had she gone with talking to herself, having jitters, walking around in a daze. Then we get to Denise Crosby... I was never a fan of her. I thought she was pretty average on Star Trek the next generation and unbelievable in the original Pet Cemetery... To be honest, she's better in this role. It's great acting... but it isn't bad.
The utmost worst thing in the movie is the two cliffhanger "Sequel Coming" phishing scenes. This type of sequence has now become compulsory in horror films and I hate it. However, this flick gives you two for the price of one. The last one is superfluous as there's no hook involved. A, I think it's a removals man, looks inside a trunk and finds a group of small spiders that sets him shivering. His partner finds this funny but in the end, he closes the lid and walks away. They don't even move the trunk and there was no reason he looked inside in the first place. How is this meant to encourage anyone to watch a sequel? Now if, when the camera panned backwards, we saw a giant spider leg land on top of the closed trunk that would have piqued my interest. And hopefully, send a shiver down the spine...
So, as I am finding on a regular basis with horror flicks this could have been and should have been much better. Would I recommend it? Not really... though if there's nothing else on worth watching then you could give it a go... you'll have probably forgotten about it by the time you wake up the next morning anyway.
There's No Compulsion To Watch This Average Film...
I feel that I may be in a minority over my review on this movie. I still don't know how the film came to its status. It's just average.
For me, this film feels like a concept project. This comes down to the major crime - the abduction, ransoming, and killing of a child - is all done off-screen. It's difficult to believe that our two lead suspects for the crime would have progressed from stealing a typewriter to such a heinous crime. Especially given the characters personalities.
Judd Steiner played over powerfully by Dean Stockwell, is a youth who believes he is intellectually superior to everybody else in his town... except for his loudmouthed best friend, Arthur A Straus, hammed up nicely by Bradford Dillman.
Unfortunately, it's this relationship that is its own worst enemy. If Judd is so intellectual why is he so blind when it comes to Arthur. Arthur is not intelligent he's just an average kid who likes to cause trouble for people. Including his "bestie" Judd. Granted he has a logical mind, but that is about it. Judd is unable to commit any crime unless ordered to by Arthur, but even that isn't correct. When ordered to run down the drunk, he can't... When ordered to rape Ruth Evans, he can't... so how did he kill the kid?
Arthur is the guy with the ideas but he doesn't dare to go through with them. When the typewriter is stolen, he's the lookout while Judd commits the offence. Arthur has the idea to kill a drunk by running him over, though Judd is driving. Arthur orders Judd to rape. The only time you even see Arthur considering committing an actual crime is when he's driving the car and aims at the drunk - only to have Judd steer them away and take over driving.
So the major crime isn't feasible to me. The story needed a stronger crime progression line.
It also feels like the entire story is constructed around Jonathan Wilk's closing statement in court. It's like the writer wrote this great speech and scene and then needed a story to get to it. It doesn't help that Orson Wells obliterates all the other actors, and his own character, in this scene. Though he gets top billing he doesn't appear until the last fifteen minutes. Up until his great speech, Wilk's is an overweight and sweaty lawyer. He shambles around looking confused and worried because his clients committed the murder and there's no way he can win... But he does, though not in the way you expect.
Again, Wilk's ideals are yet another concept...
All these concepts are good though it would have been nice to have one of them adequately thought through and accomplished.
It's the director, Richard Fleischer, that adds to the story. He does this with the wonderful use of slightly cock-eyed camera angles to give the viewer a sense of unease and perversion and badness. Though his opening title sequence is now laughable in its sensationalism.
This film is a Sunday afternoon watch. You've had a great family dinner and you want something easy to view while you dose. Because everything is summed up in the grand final closing statement, you can wake up and not miss a thing and still catch the best thing about the film.
Bad Blood (1981)
A Well Filmed Tale Of Madness In The New Zealand Countryside... Well Worth A Watch...
This film is based around a true story and the factual novel Manhunt - the story of Stanley Graham. One of the better things about this movie is the lack of sensationalism. Usually in stories of similar content the writers or director choose one standpoint from which to tell the tale. Here though, the writers, Andrew Brown & Harrold Willis, along with the director, Mike Newell, have decided in neutrality. This gives the viewer full control over what they choose to believe.
Newell chooses to keep the pace steady and even. This works well with the concept of setting the facts before the audience. It allows them to have time to consider what's happening in the story and to draw their own conclusions. This is one of the types of movies I prefer. One that wants and requires audience participation. There's nothing new or exciting about the camera work or the direction. Though, Newell does give his public some nice iconic shots to keep their interest.
As for the story, Brown and Wills give the audience a straight-forward facts based tale of a mentally confused man... or was he?
For some reason, during World War II the New Zealand government sequestered fire-arms. Farmer, Stanley Graham, will not give up his rifle. I have to admit the law appears strange. If you were in the National Guard you could keep your fire-arms and even if you were a woman you could keep your guns. Graham's wife is allowed to keep her .22 rifle and later she purchases a .33 to replace her husbands. I'm not sure if it was farmers who the law applied to. Or if Graham was of Germanic descendants. Either way, the law only helps to cement Graham's paranoia that the government and the townsfolk are out to get him.
The townsfolk are ambivalent towards the family. As time passes though they become more concerned and worried and the gossip starts. When Graham and his wife hear the hushed tones of their neighbours as they pass by their paranoia grows. So when anything bad happens on the farm it's not the hand of God or bad luck; it's the work of their neighbours. So when the police come to take away the rifles it's not surprising when things get out of hand.
The way the story is told you're not sure that the townsfolk aren't responsible for some of the family's bad luck. You also get the idea that Dorothy Graham may be a major contributor to her husband's persecution complex. Is she as broken as him? Or is she being a good wife and standing by him, come what may? Sometimes a good wife can get you killed...
The actors are good in their parts. None of them stands out as being better than the rest and this is perfect for this movie. It adds great strength to the normalcy of the characters and situation. This is one of the rare times that being average actually helps propel the story and make the movie stronger.
This is a movie I would recommend if you like reality-based tales. It's enjoyable, thought-provoking, and powerful. I'm still thinking about the story and it's been three days since I watched the film. I'm also thinking about hunting out the book as novels tend to go into more depth... Well worth a watch.
A Septuagenarian Film That Can Out Run Most Newcomers Today... An Oldie And Still A Goody...
Alfred Hitchcock kicks arse. Even today, this seventy-four-year-old movie can show a few directors about how it should be done. The only thing letting this down is the slight male chauvinism. Hitchcock not only had an eye for direction but for a story.
Psychology at this time was still a burgeoning field and people looked at it with more than a smidgen of distaste and weariness. But Hitchock treats it with respect and reverence making it a strong driving element to the story. It was also great to have a strong leading character to be female. Not just a female but also at the top of her profession and with the admiration of her colleagues. This was before it's time too. But this is where the male chauvinism comes through. It's more noticeable in the scenes where Dr Constance Peterson takes John Ballantyne to Dr Alexander Brulov's to lie low. Peterson and Brulov have a discussion about her love for Ballantyne and the words "female mind" are said a few times. We know there are differences between the sexes but this scene and narrative come across as chauvinistic. Even though it's a tiny scene it still lowers the film too much.
I think one of the main reason's for Dr Peterson being such a good character has, in some part, to be thanks to having a couple of female writers on staff. Though, it comes down to Ingrid Bergman's magnificent portrayal of her. I've not been a great fan of Bergman and it was Hitchcock's name that drew me to view the film... but I have to say, I now see her in a much stronger light. I wish I could say the same for Gregory Peck. I loved him in both To Kill A Mockingbird and Cape Fear, for which his acting style was perfect. Ballantyne though, with his broken psyche, was not the best role for him. Hitchcock did most of the work to build up this personality - long pauses, tight close-ups, work with light and shadow - while Peck pretty much just starred wild-eyed. This led to the thought of what does Dr Peterson see in this fellow to make her swoon? Could it be she was more in love with his condition than with him?
As for the rest of the cast, they give well-rounded performances all around and I cannot fault them. I particularly liked John Emery as Dr Fleurot. He was one of these self-confident men who like to hold court at all times, though he never came off as pompous. He also had a good eye for detail as he shows when he deduces where Dr Peterson had been when she comes into the mess hall all ruffled. It would have been nice to have more of his character.
Overall, this is a good and highly enjoyable movie. It's not your standard Hitchcock red-herring and twist-laden tale. By the halfway mark, you know what's going on but the film has you hooked, so you keep watching. Then when we get to the reveal at the conclusion you're happy the bad guy gets caught but you don't care too much. You're more invested in the characterisations than you are with the mystery.
This isn't my favourite Hitchcock film - that may be Rope... or Rear Window - though it is well worth a watch. I may even come back to it again in a couple of years time. I would recommend this to all film lovers, especially if you're interested in mystery thrillers or Hitchcock.
A Better Batman Than Of Late... A Great Comic Book Adaptation...
Firstly, let me allegorically state, "This Is AWESOME! - Nuff Said."
So there are a few differences between this screen version and the DC and IDW's comic Team-Up tale... but they work. The major one being the reason why the Turtles are on the same earth as Batman. In the comic, they come through a portal, with Master Splinter, Shredder, and The Foot Clan, and find themselves stranded. Shredder has plans to open a portal and rule both worlds. Whereas in the film, the Turtles are of the same planet as Batman. They've just followed Shredder from New York to Gotham. Shredder has some ingenious plan to conquer the world; with the help from his partner in crime - Ra's Al Ghul. Splinter isn't with them in this adventure and neither is Casey. But that doesn't matter as the writer, Marly Halpern-Graser, does a fantastic job with the alterations.
Even the fact that a small one issue sub-story was extended to brilliant proportions in the film only sings to Halpern-Graser's talent and imagination. As does the change in the technology being stolen and the purpose of the said machinery. The extended Arkham Asylum sequence also shows appreciation and understanding of Batman's Rogues Gallery. Each character utilised is perfectly thought-out... I especially loved the rooted Poison Ivy. Though I would've kept Bane as a Bull Elephant and not altered him to whichever wild cat he was. The Elephant is definitely more Bane.
The strange thing is... where are we?
I know that we're in Gotham but in which Multiverse? In the comic book, we were in the New52 era, Gotham. However, in this city, we have the flying GCPD blimps - which Michelangelo LOVES - so we're in the animated series? Which the vocal talents of the actors and actresses support. Batgirl is the Burnside Batgirl - so we're in the new DC Universe Era? Which Damian Wayne as Robin endorses. While Batman and the Batmobile come from Neal Adams '70's run...
But hey, who cares(?) It's Awesome.
Truthfully, I love the fact that they've taken the best elements from the Batman history - or as Mikey would be wont to say, "Bat-story!" It all adds to the wackiness that makes this so enjoyable.
It also allows Mikey to be full out A.D.D. and go nuts with everything in, on, over, and under Gotham City. As for the characters these are on-point. The Batman is Batman - The World's Greatest Detective. It's nice to have his deductive reasoning back to full power as it's been lacking of late in the new comic run. The Joker and Harley-Quinn are superb. But it's Mikey who steals the show.
This isn't just down to the writing, which is great. The vocal talent giving the characters life is another major asset to the film. Every single actor and actress puts their all into their portrayal. Troy Baker as Batman really gets the power of the man and the hero. As Joker, he nails his lunacy... and his snakiness. Kyle Mooney is just a brilliant Michelangelo. He exudes his naive joy at all things and his wonder at the strange and new. Tara Strong perfectly fills Harley's voice with insanity and Ivy's with graceful sensuality.
There's not much wrong with this film at all. I even preferred this animation style to the usual DC Animation studios type. The artists on this seem to have added a missing depth, though I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what it is. Maybe it's atmosphere - there does feel as though there are more emotion and feeling throughout. Whatever it is, thank you to the director, Jake Castorena, for giving us this marvellous film. This is jumping straight onto my watch again pile.
This is a fun film for all the family. It's highly entertaining and funny while giving you a mystery story worthy of Batman and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So do yourselves a favour watch this film and have some laughs. Enjoy.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)
A Highly Enjoyable Detective Romp... That Should Have Been Better...
So there's finally a live-action - nearly - Pokemon movie... I thought it would be better.
The story is the best thing about this film. The concept of making it a detective story is brilliant. So a big thanks go to all the Nintendo people who came up with the idea when they created the game. It allows the writers to develop stronger characters and a more convoluted and conspiracy-driven story than with the original concept.
When Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) receives word that his father is missing he decides to head to Ryme City to investigate. Ryme City is an evolved city. Both humans and Pokemon live together and work together in peace and unity. While in the city Tim comes across a Pikachu who only he can understand. The Pikachu. who used to be Tim's father's partner on the police force, teams up with Tim to find Harry. While investigating they find that something strange and dangerous is happening to the other Pokemon in the city.
The comedy element comes chiefly from Ryan Reynalds as Pikachu, with his wise-cracks and his brilliant vocal acting talents. There are a few slapstick moments thrown in for extra laughs.
The direction by Rob Letterman is above average but this film is missing something that his others had. It's hard to put my finger on but I think it's the lack of atmosphere. Though you relate to the characters you don't quite feel for them. It would have been nice to have some tension intermingled with the excitement. There were quite a few scenes where this could have been achieved. The secret lab. The fall from the Torterra. The first meeting with MewTwo.
There's also missing chemistry in the relationships. Though Tim is completely heartbroken by Pikachu being injured you only see it and don't feel it. Other relationships in the movie would have added strength to the film had there been emotion and feelings between them, even negative ones.
Now to the special effects. These are not always at their best. Most of the time the CGI is beautifully constructed and rendered. In particular, the Torterra is superb and looks the most realistic. Pikachu is good but Psyduck looks better, he even wears dirt better. It's MewTwo that lets the artists down. Its rendering makes it appear two dimensional at times. If this was their intention it doesn't quite work as the other Pokemon have far more detail to them. At the least, they could have textured the skin a little. This would have allowed for slight random shadowing giving it a more realistic appearance.
Then when we get to the climax of the story the conclusion feels awkward and unrealistic.
All that said, this is still a humorous and mightily enjoyable film and well worth a watch or three. I know I'll be hitting the play button again on this feature. I would readily recommend it for all the family... and you don't have to wait until it's raining outside... just put it on and enjoy.
Batman: Hush (2019)
An Abridged Hush... Fell Across Gotham... But The World's Greatest Detective Couldn't Be Found...
One of the reasons I enjoyed the comic book was the story. Jeph Loeb does a fantastic job of showing Batman as the world's greatest detective as well as delving into his relationship problems and issues. This Batman is an intricate character. Though Batman isn't the only complicated thing in the story. Loeb keeps the reader turning the page by constructing a complex and interesting epic.
What the film does is stick to the basics of the story - well it does have to fit into an hour and twenty-one minutes. It also appears that writer, Ernie Altbacker was given instructions to bring this into the DC Universe at this time. So to tie it in with the Tim King story run on Batman a few scenes have been altered. The major trouble with this is that the Batman King writes isn't the world's greatest detective. Removing the deductive elements from the story hurts it. It might not have been too bad if it had been replaced by the logical-minded combat statistician Batman that King writes. Though it wasn't. He just kinda stumbles onto the solution.
The alterations to relate the story to what's happening in today's DC Universe is particularly evident in the changes to the characters in the story... though this doesn't always work. Killer Croc becomes Bane, the relationship between Batman and Catwoman is expanded upon (in the build-up to the Batwedding), But Clayface, as a bad guy, is a major element to this story, as is Ivy and Harley - though all of these appear to be wearing a white stetson these days. Batman, himself, even has a change of costume as he does in the ongoing King story arc. Though it's the ending I disliked the most and this is because I do not like the new version of...
Well I can't spoil it for you can I(?)
I will also warn you that there are a few expletives, though these are not required when an "Oh, Crap!" or a "Damn!" would have done. I could understand it in the Suicide Squad flick, but here it feels like a cheap gimmick just to say, "Look we're adult!"
I cannot fault the animation. This is done to the same standard of recent DC animation movies. Which, unfortunately, doesn't have the same power as Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair. The director does a good job of giving the audience a fast action-packed kick-ass face-pounding slice of entertainment.
Where it does fall a little flat is in the acting. For me, the actors and actresses who voiced Damien Wayne, Richard Greyson, Harley Quinn / Batgirl, and Joker stood out. This is a shame as, apart from Richard Greyson, the rest were bit-players. Both the leads Jason O'Mara (Batman) and Jennifer Morrison (Catwoman) sounded unemotional and bored for the most part, The rest of the cast glided through on the plane of averageness.
This is not the best of the DC Animation films but if you like what's happening at DC today then you should enjoy this film. However, I would highly recommend you buying the HUSH graphic novel and see how the story really should be told.
Five Golden Dragons (1967)
Your Standard Sixties Action Spy Thriller...
To call this a strange thriller would be an understatement. The strangeness comes from the story itself. In the blurb for this flick, it declares a young naive American Playboy in Hong Kong finds himself caught up in international crime. Even though, at first glance, Bob Mitchell is just that - and he plays the part - he's actually a middle-aged Doctor. Bob, for some reason that is never explained, is to meet up with a businessman he talked to onboard his cruiseliner. This man is followed from the moment he disembarks. He rushes to an abandoned apartment in a block on the outskirts of the city and is promptly thrown over the balcony to his death. On his way to the apartment, he hands the taxi driver a cryptic note for Bob, which just reads Five Golden Dragons.
From here on in we enter a cat and mouse chase as Bob tries to find out about the dragons while staying out of the reach of assassins.
This film sports a marvellous cast. Christopher Lee, George Raft, Brian Donlevy, Klaus Kinski, Roy Chiao, Rupert Davis, Margaret Lee, Maria Rhom, and Robert Cummings. However, the majority of the talent, though consistent, is underused, Even the supplemental cast is strong in their portrayals. It's just the story that lets them down.
I cannot believe for a second that the Dragons are not Chinese and yet they run and control every illegal operation in Hong Kong. Let alone that these five crime lords are about to sell their enterprises to the Mafia. In fact, as the story progresses you begin to wonder if the writer, Peter Welbeck, wasn't just bolting things on as he went along. "Oh, I've had an idea, let's throw it in an see if it sticks." If this is the case then I take my hat off to the director, Jeremy Summers, who still created and crafted a nicely shot movie.
However, I'm not too sure if this was meant to be a comedy or a straight action spy thriller. There are times when everything is played as straight as a ruler. Then Summers throws in a curveball, such as a chase scene where Bob is being pursued by some assassins up one of the iconic period towers in Hong Kong. For some reason, the music being used is lighthearted and uses the "Shave And A Hair-Cut, Two Bits" refrain... Da... Da-Da Da Da... Da Da. As well as having a comedic sound when one of his pursuers is tossed over the parapet. Also, a lot of Bob's narrative has humorous overtones. All of this keeps the film light and makes it enjoyable in a weird kind of way.
This is pretty much your standard sixties action spy affair - though nowhere near James Bond's calibre. It's entertaining in its way and the peculiarity of some of the scenes will keep you watching. The ending may leave you feeling a little cold. This could have been so much better. It's one of those scenes that feels and looks rushed and "bolted" on. You should never do that at the climax it can easily ruin a film, which this so nearly does.
If you like lighthearted action thrillers with beautiful scantily clad ladies and a pinch of humour and a smattering of oddness then this could be your film. I enjoyed it but I doubt I'll watch it again - even though I now have a crush on Margaret Lee and Maria Perschy... Ah, if I could only time travel...
Doll Cemetery (2019)
Beware... Here Be Dragons... or in this case... An Atrociously Written And Directed Movie...
As I stated in my review for The Convent, when a successful film is released a lot of people jump on the bandwagon to sell their goods. However, unlike The Convent, this snake oil is putrefied.
There are only two minor elements within this picture that are decent. The first is the actor you portrays the literary agent. He's the only one in the cast who appears to take his craft seriously. Jon-Paul Gates isn't too bad as the lead Brendon but he does get wooden and hammy throughout the film. However, I cannot help thinking how much better this piece of trash would have been had the roles been reversed between these two.
Second is the filming - though only in a couple of scenes. The scene where Brendan meets with his agent. This is nicely directed and nicely shot. And there are a couple of drone-cam shots that work well also.
So that's the good bits over...
The story is horrendous. There's a scene where Brendon is talking to the local, walking-talking able-bodied mute paraplegic, harlot at his writing retreat. He informs her he never wanted to write horror he wanted to be more of a Dylan Thomas. He chose horror because it was easy. You take a few situations and put them together and hey-presto. This is how the writer and director (both loose terms here) Steven M Smith cobbled this monstrosity together. Well let me tell you Mr Smith Horror isn't easy but CRAP is, as you have proven here.
The characters and situations are ludicrous and unbelievable. The most realistic thing about this film is... the cottage. I had to think long and hard about that. But even the cottage isn't perfect. Places like these, that are let out to people as holiday homes or getaways, at least have some objet d'art in them. This house is cold and bare and devoid of any atmosphere... oh, was the cottage supposed to be an allegory of this film?
As for the relationships between the village folk and our hero well, strange is a word that comes to mind. For example, one moment he's wary of the roving and raving madman. The next they're knocking back a few in his cottage. No rhyme - No Reason.
This also falls into bad continuity. Which can also be laid squarely at Arthur The Doll's feet... literally. This doll, which is just a person in a wooden mask has a laughable way of moving around. He walks upstairs slowly, He nearly falls over when going around corners. And, when you get a shot down at his feet he does running baby steps. None of which screams walking doll at me. But why does he need to move around when he can magically teleport between reality and the mirror world(?) In one scene he appears in bed in the mirror but he's not in the bed in the room. Then he's in the bed in the room but not in the mirror bed. This carries on for a few cuts to drive our hero mad. However, if he has this wonderful ability why does he need to walk at all?
I will say this for Arthur though, he does like his hammers. He mainly dispatches his opponents by hammering them in the stomach... while they just calmly lay there and let him. But when Arthur transforms into giant Arthur his hammer becomes an iron mallet. Surprising thing is, the claw hammer could kill with a few taps of the hammer side, whereas, the mallet which is thrown full force squarely at our hero's head only knocks him out. The thing should have taken half his skull off.
So if you're still thinking about watching this rubbish then I wish you all the best of luck. This film stole an hour and a half from me. It doesn't have to steal it from you too. If you require a horror fix then feel free to pop over and check out my Absolute Horror List / Chart. You can see where this film ranked and choose something better to view.
This film is so bad I rated it a 1.5 which equates to a 2 on IMDb, but it's not worth a 2... I just can't do it.
Fear Clinic (2014)
No Fear Clinic... No Imagination Clinic... Welcome To The... Yawn Clinic...
Boy, was this ever a wasted opportunity?
There are two presentable features to this film. One is the story; or at least the premise of it. The second is the acting.
The premise of the story is that Dr Andover has found a way to combat fear by taking on the amygdala itself, through the use of a deprivation tank style piece of machinery called the Fear Chamber. The trouble is something else is using the chamber... to come through into our world.
This concept allows for a lot of leeway in the story. The only constriction is your imagination. Shame that the writers, Aaron Drane and Robert Hall, were lacking in the inventiveness department. There's a nice moment when entomophobic Megan is in the clinic claiming to have insects burrowing under her skin. She's opened up a wound by constantly scratching. Dr Osborn cuts into the wound to lessen the swelling and the fear essence starts to seep out. Spiders start to leave their burrow and scurry over her body onto the floor. They leave this idea right there... on the floor.
This would have been the ideal way for the fear essence to get around. Manifest itself os one person's fear and infect the next person they come across, rinse and repeat... Just imagine a hundred spiders crawling into peoples open mouths, ears, and nostrils. Then their fears would manifest, say, a fear of rejection. The infected could become multiple personalities speaking in different voices, each of which rejects the main host. What would be worse than you rejecting yourself? These screams and arguments could then infect anybody within hearing distance... and their fears would manifest... rinse and repeat.
This would have opened the way for a more script-driven movie and the inventiveness in the story may have made it into the filming too. Unfortunately for the viewers, the writer Robert Hall is less imaginative in his direction. There really is nothing new here. Truthfully, the direction appears below parr. There is one scene where Sara returns to the clinic where Hall tried to get creative. The camera is about twenty feet off the ground looking at the clinic. It drops down to shoulder height. I thought it would then move towards the clinic, which would have been nice and then Sara could have walked passed into the vision and on to the clinic. What happens after the drop though is a nasty cut to Sara's back as she strolls to the clinic. This feels not only nasty but looks awful. And the film is filled with similar camera work.
Luckily enough all the actors and actresses are more than passible in their portrayals. I enjoyed Fiona Dourif (she has those same scary killer eyes of her father - you can tell she's Brad's daughter) in the two Chucky flicks she's been in and she's better in this as the lead, Sara. It's a solid and engaging performance. Robert England, who drew me into watching this film, comes across, as always, perfectly. This guy has scared me in the Nightmare films, made me laugh in V the series, and entertained me in everything else. As Dr Andover, he comes across as confident, controlled, and ambitious. His ambition is to help people. However, when this ambition gets tainted by the fact that the people he's helped are coming back to the clinic because their fears are resurfacing, he starts to fall apart. His confidence is knocked and is usurped with doubt. England does a great job of showing this change in his character. Shame the direction damages his performance.
Doing a little research, I cannot believe this film came from a TV series. There were five episodes back in 2009, five years before the film. I have to say I'm not going to hunt them out as both the writer and the director for the series were the same as the film.
All in all, I wouldn't advocate watching this movie unless you're a die-hard England or Dourif fan. If you like horror, there is very little in this film as it lacks atmosphere. Something you would really expect would be evident in a film based on fear itself. So if you want a horror flick to watch and enjoy there are plenty more. Go check out my Absolute Horror list for an idea and to see where I've charted this miserable waste of time...
I'd rated this as a 4.5 so it should have been a 5 on IMDb but I just couldn't bring myself to do it...
A Truly Beautiful Piece Of Filmmaking... A Must Watch...
So this is a strange, dark, and brooding film. I admit I chose the film because of the blurb, once again. Luckily, this time it worked to my favour. The promotional text states this is a folktale set in Wales and for this, I picked it up. However, it's not. I cannot see this story being passed down from generation to generation as there's little morality within. There's also little superstition which is also a major element to folktales.
I should have been upset as I chose this for my Friday Night is Fright Night viewing pleasure. As the story progressed and nothing supernatural happened, even though it is hinted at, I still couldn't feel let down. This is due to one main fact. This is a good film.
It is a strong historical drama that exudes atmosphere, all of it dark. The director, William McGregor is a master at his art. I would gladly watch more by this man if they're all this good. The only drawback is the story, written also by McGregor, which is basic, to say the least. However, that isn't too big a hindrance as the direction and acting lift the film above the story.
McGregor uses his cast ascetically. For the most part, there's very little dialogue the characters tell their story through their actions. You know the sisters are close and loving as they sleep in the same bed. The older one tickles and plays with the younger. When the family walk anywhere the two girls are side by side. You even know who the bad guys of the play are even though they seldom speak. In fact, it's because McGregor records some of their speech in hushed tones, too quiet to make out, that your mind informs you they are up to no good. You also know that this small family isn't completely trusted or thought of in high praise by the community from the furtive glances they receive. I think it's because your mind engages to pick up these nuances that this film is so powerful.
All of this also adds to the oppressive atmosphere of the film. Even the slow pace of the film works to add an unease and an eerieness to the proceedings. Though the tempo of the film is slow it never feels sluggish. Truth be told, when the film ended I was surprised. I hadn't even realised I'd been watching for an hour and a half. I wanted more. I wanted it to continue.
This is not only down to the wonderful direction of the film - the iconic shots, the use of light, the landscape, and the constant howling wind - but also with thanks to the great cast.
Maxine Peake is a wonderful actress and I will check out a film or a series should she be in the cast. Unfortunately, this included the dreadful Keeping Rosy, of which she was the strongest cast member - should've had this guy directing. However, she's on top form as the stoic mother, Elen. This woman gives new meaning to strength. Being alone in the Welsh wilderness bringing up two girls and running a farm... her portrayal is worth watching this film for alone.
Though it's Eleanor Worthington-Cox as the title role, Gwen, who shines the strongest. Life for a teenage girl was much different back then. Cox superbly embodies the strength required to survive in the dire conditions, as well as showing love and concern for her sister and mother, both of which are different. She also expresses the eagerness of youth. All of this is performed subtly and falls perfectly into the context of the movie.
I would highly recommend this picture to historical drama lovers and lovers of film alike. I would also say; if there are any filmmakers out there who want to know what atmosphere looks like, sounds like, tastes like, feels like, then watch this film. I am so glad I did.
What About Bob? (1991)
Baby Steps Watch The Film... Baby Steps Watch The Film...
Back when American comedy films were still funny we were given the excellent What About Bob? This movie is the embodiment of what great humour is.
The writers, Alvin Sargent & Laura Ziskin along with screenplay writer Tom Schulman, give us plays on words, such as the Baby Steps sequence. They give us situation comedy moments, like that of the Diving Scene between Bob and Sigmund, with Dr Marvin and his wife watching from the house window. They even give us personal traits comedy, Bob's phobias are so acute and his way of coping so profound, at times it comes across as funny (you even find yourself thinking I shouldn't be laughing... but you just can't help yourself.).
The director then adds to this by sliding in his own comedic elements. The long pause at awkward moments. Getting the cast to cast furtive looks. And as we all know comedy is about...
Frank Oz is perfect at this. The entire meltdown of Dr Marvin is superbly structured and filmed and leads up to one of the best blow-outs on film - the scene where Dr Marvin throws Bob out of the house while having a major rant (a rant which is expertly written and clean in language) only to have his family complain he's not being fair to Bob. He pulls the door open, without looking, ranting that Bob is still there... and there is Bob, goofy happy expression on his face. this is just an excellent scene.
Of course, none of this would have been great had the wrong actors been chosen. Which they weren't. Bob was written for Bill Murrey, who has a great ability to style his characters perfectly. He is also able to add quirky character traits to them too. The moment when he tries to get on the elevator is both sad and funny. Sad because here is a man unable to get through life because of his anxieties. Funny because Murrey adds a silly stuttering walk to his trying to enter the lift.
Richard Dreyfuss nails the psychiatrist. He gives the character an aloofness and self-confidence, which verges on egotistical, that are truly believable. It's your belief in this Dr Marvin's persona that helps create the comedy when Bob starts to chip away at it... with a jack-hammer. The scene of the TV Show interview is brilliant. Dreyfuss sells the broken Dr perfectly. This guy is close to being a gibbering wreck. Then when Bob takes control, the Dr looks completely lost. I was laughing my head off by this time.
The rest of the cast is just as good in their portrayals, though this is a story about the two men and it's these two personalities which carry the story and the film.
I would recommend this film to everybody who likes a good laugh. This is the way comedy should be done. It's not all about toilet humour and expletive explosions. So do yourselves a favour, get yourself a copy, find it on an online vendor, or look out for it on the telly and enjoy.
Schwarzenegger Kicking Ass, Looking Cool, And Bringing The Fun...
Arnold Schwarzenegger doing what he does best... Kicking ass and looking cool doing it.
Ever since I saw him in Conan I was a fan. This guy wasn't just muscles but he could act. Unfortunately, he got locked into the stereotypical hero-guise that everybody loved him for. Eraser is a good example of this, even though it's not his best acting role.
The three-word catch-phrase for this film is "You've been erased...", not too original but, as always, he sells it - and you will be saying it.
The big bonus to this film, however, is the cast, which is as top-notch as they come. Arnie in the lead role, John Kruger, is forever cool, unfazed, and pretty much unstoppable. It's this invincibility that teeters the film on the edge of silliness. However, because of Arnie's character your sort of forgive the writers and director their crazy antics. Vanessa Williams as the damsel-in-distress, Lee Cullen does a superb job with her character, I always thought she was one solid actress. The wonderful James Caan is perfect as the US Marshal Robert DeGuerin. He carries off the subtle air of authority and power perfectly. Then we have the great James Coburn - the actor, that if this film was made in the sixties or seventies, would have been a great John Kruger - who still has a strong persona when he appears on the screen. Even though it's a small role he was perfectly cast.
Even the secondary actors give their all, especially Robert Pastorelli who plays wiseguy Johnny Casteleone, Nick Chinlund as Agent Calderon, and Danny Nucci as Deputy Monroe. If you check out the cast list you'll see some names and faces you'll recognise. All of them are first-class actors and actresses.
The writers, Tony Puryear, Walon Green, and Michael S Chernuchin, give the audience a winding and twisting tale of politics, greed, and gun running. This is kept light by the humour, which is peppered throughout - usually coming in the guise of Kruger's retorts - or the over the top action sequences. For example, the parachute versus plane sequence. This begins with a cool and witty comeback from Kruger. Which, leads to him exiting the plane only to find it's turned around and is about to run him down. Now we know this is ludicrous and preposterous, though with thanks to Director Charles Russell's skill it's entertaining, exciting, and played for laughs. At the end of this, we have further comic dialogue, this time between Kruger and a couple of kids. It's the humour that alleviates the silliness of the whole sequence...
...oh, and the great crocodile scene... AWESOME!
Hat's off to the special effects guys also as the crocs look and move realistically. I loved the effect of the air-ripple when the new rifle is fired.
What everybody gives us in this film is pure fun wrapped around a good story.
If you want a slice of escapism theatre then do yourselves a favour and watch this film. At the moment it's doing the rounds on the ITV channels in the UK. I would also say it may be worth getting a copy just to lift you out of any blues you may find yourself in. It's not a great film but it is definitely one worth watching.
Wrongfully Accused (2019)
Awful In Paradise... Wrongfully Accused Of Being A Good Film...
Okay, this film drew me in with the blurb. In my defence, I have watched a few decent and a couple of excellent TV Movies based on the blurb alone. Unfortunately, this doesn't fall into those two categories.
The story has been done before - haven't they all? It comes down to how well it's handled. Well, the writer, Michael Feifer (who also directed) gives the audience a nice twist ending. One, I have to admit I didn't see coming until a few seconds before the reveal. This would have been truly brilliant if he hadn't spoiled the story and film way before this point.
My main dislike of the story is the prison. Evidently, when you're in a female prison you're in a sisterhood that wants to help you out. They even find evidence for her that her Lawyer mother couldn't find. Then she needs to follow up this evidence. She can't do this from behind bars so she just walks out. Well, she doesn't just walk out, it only feels that way. This is one underfunded and understaffed prison.
Feifer's direction is about as poor as his writing. In fact, the most awful scene incorporates the worst of both. It's when Liz and her family meet her inlaws who totally blame her for their son's death, though there's still no body. This confrontation should have been venomous and a pivotal point in the story but the arguments were puerile and unrealistic. Added to this the poor direction and filming and this major scene look nothing more than a "my dad is bigger than your dad" slanging match.
At least all of this made an average cast appear better. The strange thing was that Kate Vernon, who was the strongest actress in the cast wasn't on-screen that much. When she was though, she outshone all the other members. She needed a larger and meatier role, though she did add a fair bit of muscle to her character. The other decent members of the cast were the female prisoners. If I'd been the casting director I would have changed out AnnaLynne McCord as the lead, Liz, for Jessica Anderson who played Sam. Anderson was a lot stronger in the minor part than McCord was in lead.
I won't be watching this film again and I would advise staying away from it too. There are plenty of better TV Movies out there, come and check my lists to find one or two for your perusing pleasure - and to see where I've charted this dross.
Is That My Film Your Watchin'?... Now, Why Would You Be Watchin' My Film?...
This was an enjoyable film when it came out and it's wearing well.
What holds this film together is the story, which is superb. Ann Biderman and David Madsen give the audience a well structured and built psychological thriller. Even though you find out early who the psychopath is this is not a whodunnit. It would have been nice to draw out the reveal a little longer, at least until Daryll Lee Cullum tells Helen and M J. This would have put the audience in a position similar to that of the two leading ladies, making the audience feel more a part of the tale. This is just a small thing though.
The stories strength comes from the characterisations. Having both the lead roles as strong women was great. Even the psycho they're chasing is only a secondary character to these. Another great hook is the murders themselves. As each stage is revealed and you learn more about what is happening you begin to think that this is one clever guy. Then you start to learn why he's committing these murders in the styles he is and you begin to see his end-game. Everything is revealed in slowly peeling layers. Director Jon Amiel superbly crafts a dark and brooding atmosphere into these scenes.
His use of camera effects to show Helen's agoraphobia works brilliantly. Sigourney Weaver sells the fear, anguish, and anxiety perfectly as Helen. Though she suffers these mental illnesses after her torture and torment at the hands of Cullum (surprisingly well played by Harry Connick Jr) she's not a weak woman. She's the opposite. She gets angry and views herself as vulnerable, though it's that anger that gives her the strength to keep going. This is not a woman you want to cross swords with.
Neither is M J Monahan, who Holly Hunter does a perfect portrayal of. To look at she's demure, slight in stature and quiet by nature. However, under the skin is a quick-witted, intellectual, problem-solver, who has no problem using her gun. This juxtaposition makes her one of my favourite characters on film, especially when Hunter carries the character off so well.
Some things aren't so well thought out. For example, there is a section where the bad guy breaks into Helen's apartment. Why does this woman who has this fear of being attacked only have locks on her doors? If she'd had bolts fitted it wouldn't have happened. If she'd had an alarm fitted the scene could have been written differently. Why doesn't she have an alarm? She's very gadget-minded as she spends most of her day online chatting with people, playing chess, and researching? It's these little things that spoil the story for me, just a little, but enough to lessen the rating a little.
However, at the end of the day, you do have a very enjoyable, well thought out and filmed psychological thriller that I would recommend to all thriller lovers out in the world. I'd also ask you to take a chance with it, should there be nothing else on the telly. It's a great waste of time...