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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead (2011)

Most of us see a horror movie, like "The Grudge", or "The Ring", then learn it's a North American remake of a Japanese film.  And we think that the Japanese are pretty badass and awesome.  Then we see the Japanese version of a movie, like "Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead"... and then we're not sure what to think of them...

A group of friends are going camping in order to find Maki a tapeworm to help her stay skinny.  After swallowing a parasite found in a fish, the group are soon attacked by shambling people, and encounter Dr. Tanaka.  Soon, they discover the connection between Dr. Tanaka and the parasites...


Just wow.

This is not a film to take seriously.

At all.

Poo covered zombies.  Butt loving parasites.  Farting.  Tentacle loving.  Farting.  Martial arts.  Farting.  Boobs.

Did I mention farting?

The premise is enough to make you scratch your head, and wonder how they pull it off.  The actual story will have you switching between awkward chuckling and face palming.  There is so much of the stereotypes that North American's poke fun at in this movie, it's hilarious in an almost embarrassing way.

I'm wracking my brains trying to come up with a way to analyse and describe "Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead"... but all I can say is this:

You will either love it, or hate it.

I was entertained, and certainly amused by it- I can't deny that.  Would I watch it again just because?  No, I wouldn't... but I'm also not afraid to display it in my collection... and would maybe be willing to watch it with a friend and a nice big bottle of sake.  I have to put it on the shelf with The Bad.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Son of Ghostman (2013)

Sometimes, a movie comes along at just the right time, that not only entertains you, but reminds you WHY you do what you do.  For me, that movie was "Son of Ghostman"

Denny is unemployed, just got dumped, and is in danger of losing his house.  A chance drunken videotape, sends him on the road to a new life.  Unfortunately, he has to deal with an old rival, and the fact that he needs to keep his quest secret from the woman he's attracted to...

There have been times over the past few years, where I've wondered why I continue reviewing horror movies.  I have wondered if anyone would actually miss this blog... to the point where I've contemplated closing things down, and being... "normal".

Then I was approached by @SonOfGhostman on Twitter to view and review their movie.  I liked the trailer they sent first.  It intrigued me since it wasn't so much a horror film, as much as it dealt with some of the unsung icons of the industry- Horror Movie Show Hosts.

"Son of Ghostman" isn't a fancy film- but it is a smart one.  The story is on a more personal level- it's an ordinary person stepping into an extraordinary life... quite by accident.  I felt a real connection to the plot as a reviewer who WANTS to produce their own podcast and web series one day.  The humour is gentle, and natural, coming from the characters themselves, and the slightly silly situation they find themselves in.  The story doesn't slap you upside the head with it's message- though there is a scene just before the end where the moral is stated.  Up to the end, it seeps into you slowly.  I found myself smiling, laughing, and losing tract of the time as I watched it.

The characters are unique, interesting, engaging, likable, and relatable- even though the events taking around them would seem quite absurd to "normal" people.  I couldn't help but enjoy Denny's growth as a person over the course of the movie.  His relationships with his friend Carlo, brother, rival Rick, his ex, Claire and her nephew have echos that I think most people could feel in their own relationships.  Him, and all of the other characters are believable and bring a lot of charm and wit to the movie.

I'm going to have to say that the acting was pretty good in a subtly goofy way at times.  There is a nice balance of straight, and silly.  The actors worked off each other wonderfully- both visually, and character-wise.  You could really feel the chemistry between them- especially between Devin Ordoyne as Denny, and Angela Gulner as Claire.  The scene where they dance together was a wonderful example of this chemistry.  Marlon Correva as Carlo was charming, witty, and made you believe that Carlo and Denny had been close friends for years.  Zack- Claire's nephew, was played perfectly by Matthew Boehm.  He brought intellegence, and a nice sarcastic touch to the character.  I also want to give props to Kurt Edward Larson in the role of Rick, the rival.  I quite enjoyed his over the top acting in the "Count Dracool" persona, and the more snarky performance as Rick.

There are some wonderful pieces of camera work in this film, which highlights the potential that first time director Larson displays.  There are a nice variety of angles, movements, and lighting.  My personal favorite for use of lighting was the above mentioned scene where Denny and Claire dance.  I'm eager to see what else he does in the future, and interested to see his growth as a film maker.

Earlier, I mentioned that this film came at a time when I was wondering why I do this blog- and why I continue.  watching "Son of Ghostman" helped to solidify in my mind- and my heart why.  I do it because I love horror movies, and I want to share that passion with those around me.  I write about older horror movies especially because I want to keep their spirit behind them alive- and possibly get people to fall in love with them as well.  I do this because I wan to entertain people... and maybe even inspire them to do the same thing.

That just added a level of enjoyment to the movie on a very personal level for me.  But even without that aspect of things, I would still enjoy "Son of Ghostman," and recommend it to others.  If I owned it (which I hope to soon, actually), I would have absolutely no problem popping open a bag of cheesy poofs, curling up under my warm blankets, and watching it again.  I'm placing it solidly into The Good.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Woman in Black (2012)

Growing up, I was a fan of the classic "Hammer Horror" films like Christopher Lee's Dracula.  So, when I heard that Hammer was back in business a few years ago, I was excited and eager to see what they had to offer modern horror fans.  I am also a huge fan of the 1988 BBC release of "The Woman in Black".  When I heard that their first submission to the world's scrutiny was to be "The Woman in Black", I was even more excited to see what they would do...

Solicitor Arthur Kipps has been assigned the task of preparing Eel Marsh House for sale, and getting the recently deceased owner's papers organized and settled.  Upon arrival, however, Kipps soon realizes that something is wrong with the town and the isolated manor.  Digging deeper reveals a tragedy that still lingers and brings grief to those that stay there...

Right off the bat, I have to say that I was impressed.  The story is different enough from the 1988 version that it's fresh, interesting, and draws you in.  The writers explore different aspects of the original 1983 novel, while maintaining a nice, tightly crafted plot.  My only real issue was with the ending- it was a little more... "positive" than I would've liked.  Other than that one little quibble, the story telling was really quite good.

The characters are also really well done as well.  They all have a lot of depth and facets to them- even more so than the 1988 version.  This is certainly helped by the slightly more in depth examination of the characters done by the script.  None of the supporting characters are trivial.  They are all woven together to create a believable atmosphere of sorrow and fear that pulls you in, and makes you want to know more about what's happened to the town.

These characters wouldn't have been as believable if it weren't for the performers.  I know quite a few people were surprised and even incredulous when it was announced that Daniel Radcliffe was to be in it.  Personally, I was intrigued by the choice, and was interested in seeing what Radcliffe would bring to the character and the genre.  I wasn't disappointed.  He has such expressive eyes, and used them to great effect in this movie to show the depth of grief Kipps feels at the loss of his wife, and the wariness he feels at some of the strange things happening at Eel Marsh House.  He did a great job in this film.  Ciaran Hinds as Sam Daily (a local landowner that befriends Kipps), was great.  He brought an understated performance to the role that helped add to the mood and overall feel of the town's tragic history.  Just wonderful.  I also thought that Janet McTeer did an outstanding job in the role of Elizabeth- Sam's wife.  The scenes where she goes into a psychic trance are especially interesting and well done.  She brought both energy and sadness to her character in a wonderful mix.

"The Woman in Black" is a visually beautiful film as well.  The heavy use of greys and earth tones, the overcast lighting, the large imposing Eel House Manor, and the thick, encroaching wall of gnarled trees and grass surrounding it, really helped to bring weight and a feeling of gloom to the movie.  The camera work is a great blend of close ups, large scenic shots, and movement.  In a world of gratuitous CG elements in movies, I was impressed with how subtle, and little there were.  What CG was used was there to enhance the scene, rather than distract from it.  The movie let the characters, story, and action pull you in- which it did a great job of doing.

I have to say that "The Woman in Black" was a great return to the movies for Hammer, and a great non-Harry Potter vehicle for Daniel Radcliffe.  I was both pleased, and impressed by it.  It's a movie I would not only recommend, but one I've bought for my collection, and would have very little problem re-watching.  It's going into The Good!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bride of the Gorilla (1951)

Werewolves are a staple of the Horror genre- but human transformation isn't restricted to wolves.  There have been human to spider transformation movies, human to wasp transformation movies, and human to ape ones.

After Barney Chavez murders his employer and seduces his wife, a series of strange animal killings begin.  His new wife, Dina begins to suspect that Barney's odd behaviour is connected to the events going on.  Soon she and police chief Taro close in on the truth... and find Barney's a changed man...

"Bride of the Gorilla" is a bit of a silly movie, but suitable for a night of B-movie guilty pleasures.  The story is an interesting twist on the classic werewolf tale.  There are some nice little threads put together to weave a decent little plot- though it the movie relies heavily on Raymond Burr's acting chops.

Other than Chavez, the characters are somewhat laughable and shallow.  Chavez is the only one that has any real depth for someone you're not supposed to like.  I also liked Taro- though only because Burr and Lon Chaney, Jr are great in their respective roles.

This movie really relies on Burr and Chaney to carry it along and keep people interested.  The two of them do a decent job of doing it too.  I was a little disappointed that Chaney didn't get more opportunity to flesh out the character of police chief Taro.  Burr's portrayal of a man slowly losing himself to the call of the jungle and the animal inside him was a joy to watch.

I was rather let down by the camera work.  The scenes in the jungle tended to be under lit, and hard to tell what was going on, and the camera was pretty static throughout most of the scenes.  A little more camera movement similar to the prologue and epilogue would've helped to make this movie a little more dynamic and visually engaging.

As much as this is a guilty pleasure for me, it's not one that I would recommend to people other than fans of B-movies.  But since I would have little problem pulling it out for a night of cheesy poofs and beer, I'm placing "Bride of the Gorilla" in The Good.

Kong Island (1968)

What can be more terrifying that gorillas going on a rampage?  How about gorillas going on a rampage because of implants in their brains?  How about it happening on King Kong's Island?

When Diana is kidnapped by gorillas during a safari, Burt Dawson sets off into the deep jungle to find her.  He soon encounters a jungle girl, a mad scientist, and a band of mind controlled gorillas...

Despite the title, "Kong Island", there is no island... and no King Kong.  In fact, the original Italian title, "Eve, The Wild Woman" is in reference to the jungle girl Dawson meets.  One can only assume that American distributors felt that it would do better if they inferred a connection to the popular big ape.

The concept is perfect for a low budget B-movie.  Mix together a mad scientist, a mercenary, a beautiful kidnapped woman, a beautiful jungle woman, and a bunch of mind controlled gorillas.  The story is actually, decent enough for a night of popcorn and relaxing.  While certainly not great cinema, it is definately entertaining and amusing.

The characters aren't deep, but fit perfectly into the B-movie mold.  They aren't meant to make a statement about anything.  They're place is to entertain us.  They know that, and they do it.  Burt's role is to be manly and offer women a nice muscular chest to stare at.  Diana's role is to be the beautiful damsel in distress, and Eve is the beautiful jungle girl that helps Burt, while offering up the sight of strategically placed hair that defies movement and keeps her breasts covered.  And of course, we can't forget that Muller's role is to be the bad guy.  The characters aren't meant to be anything more than that, and I liked that.

The acting was very much in keeping with the character types.  I couldn't help but smile at how silly and serious it all was.  Just simply entertaining.

There is some decent camera work among the rather average stuff, but it was sufficient to give the movie a suitable pace and feel.

Even though I'm disappointed that "Kong Island" had nothing to do with King Kong, I still found myself enjoying it.  Would I be willing to watch it again- probably, yeah.  I'm going to put it in "The Good".

The Wasp Woman (1960)

I enjoy movies that subtly include social issues in the story, and use social fears as the basis for the plot.  "The Wasp Woman" by Roger Corman does this.

Janice Starlin is desperate to save her cosmetic company, whose sales have dropped since customers have noticed that she's aging.  How far would she go to regain her youthful appearance... and at what cost?

Roger Corman's "The Wasp Woman" is not one of his better films.  There is the obvious influence of the classic movie, "The Fly", which only came out two years before.  While the concept isn't original, the story takes a different route, and offers up a lot of potential to include social commentary on the cosmetics industry, and humanity's fear of aging as well as its need to be beautiful.  While those are touched on (the fear of aging more so than the others), this movie misses some nice opportunities to bring even more depth to the story- and the characters at the same time.

While, most of the characters are rather flat, the character of Janice is a nicely complex and interesting character.  It is through her, that society's fear of aging and loss of beauty is explored.  Dr. Zinthrop offered up a great chance to also touch on the topic of animal testing in the cosmetic industry as well, but I felt that he was more of a plot device than a real character.  Once again, there was potential for some really good characterization that was passed up.

The best acting was done by Susan Cabot as Janice, and Michael Mark as Dr. Zinthrop.  The other actors seemed to just kinda walk through the movie, going through the motions.  Cabot was beautiful, while also having a look that reflected the more calculating and cold side of the character.  A great choice for the role.

The wasp woman make up was pretty much just a mask and fake hands.  Due to an accident on set involving liquid smoke, a part of the mask had to be removed to enable Cabot to breath.  Unfortunately, the mask also took of a bit of her skin.  You don't get to see much of the mask, as it's mostly kept in shadows- which is a bit of a shame.

The camera work for "The Wasp Woman" is pretty standard, and simply done.  There isn't really anything fancy to it, though there are some nice shots using shadows to good effect.  Still not up to Roger Corman's usual standard, unfortunately.

If you're a fan of Roger Corman's films, you'd probably really enjoy this one.  If you're a fan of B-movies, you'd probably like this one too.  Despite that, it's not a movie I'd watch more than once a year, so I'm putting "The Wasp Woman" in "The Bad".

Horrors of Spider Island (1962)

There is something to be said about horror movies that feature a group of scantily clad women being terrorized by an unknown killer.  Some of those things are good... others, not so good.

After Gary and several female dancers crash land near an apparently deserted island, the group begin planning how to escape the island.  When Gary disappears, the women begin to be killed one by one...

"Horrors of Spider Island" is a horror movie from West Germany, whose apparently reason for existance was to display beautiful women in bikini's being terrorized by a monster.  Nothing more, nothing less.

The title gives an expectation of an "Arachnophobia" type of movie.  Too bad, there's only one spider- and a really cheesy, cheap one at that.  When it bites Gary, you're given the expectation of possibly a cool spider transformation of Gary.  Too bad, the make-up on him looks NOTHING like a spider.  There was so much potential here for a decent story, but it falls far from the mark.

For a movie with such a large group of characters, you'd expect some really interesting ones, and some engaging interactions between them.  There isn't.  They're all pretty much in the movie because they're beautiful, and look good in bikinis... which they do.  Even Gary lacks any sort of development that makes you pity him as he transforms.  His purpose seemed to be mostly to run around without a shirt on.

Acting.  You would expect a movie to have some.  Well, you'd be disappointed.  Once again, the actresses were mostly present to present the male audience some eye candy.  It's a good thing I have a sweet tooth in that regard.  After this movie, Alexander D'Arcy (Gary) experienced a severe drop in his career.

The camera work isn't great either- not surprising, since this movie was filmed within the span of a month.  Once again, there was such potential to use shadows and lights, and angles to create tension, suspense (and better showcase the lovely ladies), but all such opportunities were missed.

I have no real choice, but to toss "Horrors of Spider Island" into The Ugly.

The Atomic Brain (1964)

One of the staples of horror movies from the 1950's and 1960's was the use of atomic power.  Whether it's the accidental creation of mutated animals through atomic tests, or the use of it in experiments by mad scientists, you will find a plethora of such movies during that time.  "The Atomic Brain" is one of them.

The rich and elderly Mrs. March has hired Dr. Frank to perform an experimental medical procedure that that would extend her lifespan... by implanting her brain in the body of one of three beautiful women, she's hired as domestic servants...

"The Atomic Brain" had some real potential for genuine eerie and creepy moments- but failed to meet that potential.  The concept was interesting, if not wholly original.  The story moves at an unfortunately plodding pace, and lacks any real suspense or tension.

The characters were rather flat, and seemed to rely mostly on the beauty of the female leads.  Mrs. March was suitably malevolent, but only marginally more interesting than the other characters.  Even Dr. Frank was bland and lifeless.

The acting wasn't much better, either.  Of the cast, only Marjorie Eaton displayed any real ability- but once again, only slightly more than the rest of the cast.  Essentially, the acting was very stereotypical of the era.  It offered very little in depth to the characters or a sense of any real tension to the story.

I can't say much about the camera, while there are a couple of interesting shots- mostly involving the naked women strapped to the table in the atomic chamber, it is pretty standard fare for a low budget horror movie like this.  Nothing to make you go, "Cool."

The best part of this movie is the fact that the cat, Xerxes is the best actor.  Which is saying something.  I'm going to have to put "The Atomic Brain" into The Ugly.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Creepshow (1982)

Growing up, I loved reading horror comics and magazine- "Vampirella", "Weird War Tales", and EC's "Vault of Horror, "Tales From the Crypt," and "The Haunt of Fear".  I also loved watching horror anthology shows like "The Twilight Zone".  This means I also enjoy horror anthology movies.

"Creepshow" features five short horror stories present to us as stories from a comic book being read by a young teenager:

  1. "Father's Day":  During the annual family get together, a family's deceased patriarch decides to drop in for cake;
  2. "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill":  After finding a crashed meteorite, Jordy Verrill watches as his farm- and himself, go through some changes;
  3. "Something to Tide You Over":  There are some people you never get on the wrong side of, because you'll wind up to your neck in deep water.  Of course... there are some people you never take revenge on either...
  4. "The Crate":  A professor finds a mysterious crate that holds a deadly secret... and the answer to his marital problems;
  5. "They're Creeping Up on You":  A ruthless, bug fearing businessman finds his sterile apartment under siege by cockroaches during a blackout.
Watching this movie is as fun as reading the old classic horror comics of my youth.  The stories were well written by Stephen King, with interesting characters, dark humour, and even some genuine creepiness.  Of the five stories, I would have to say that the weakest one would be "Father's Day", with "Something to Tide You Over," and "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" being the strongest ones.

The acting was great.  Stephen King, John Colicos, Leslie Nielson, Ted Danson, Adrienne Barbeau, Hal Holbrook, Fritz Weaver, and E.G. Marshall all turn in great performances in their respective stories.  I especially enjoy King's role in "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill".  He'll often have a cameo role in his movies, and it was nice to see him actually having a star turn.

While some of the effects for the transitions between stories could have been better, overall, they really captured the feel of the old EC horror comics, and added a nice variety to the movie.  George A. Romero did a fantastic job directing this movie.

I would LOVE to see King and Romero collaborate on a movie like this again.  "Creepshow" really brought back memories of my youth, the comics that helped shape the person I am, and makes me want to collect them again.  This movie is really one of "The Good".

Galaxy Invader (1985)

Sometimes, there comes along a movie that just fills you with amazement, awe, and wonder.  "Galaxy Invader" is one of those films.

After a strange object crashes in the backwoods of a small American town, a young man and a scientist embark attempt to reach it- and it's alien occupant... before a money seeking posse gets there first...

This movie filled me with amazement.  Amazement that it EVER got a green light to be made (even if it WAS direct to video).  It filled me with awe.  Awe that even a low budget movie could have such horrible acting.  It filled me with wonder.  Wonder at the fact that this movie still exists on DVD.

I mean it.  It's just a horrible movie.  The special effects are crap- even for a cheesy 1980's movie.  The acting was just outlandish.  The camera work was pitiful- though I do like the shot at the top of this article.  The characters were just inane, and didn't induce any feelings other than, "kill them, Galaxy Invader".  Even then, except for a couple at the start of the movie, the alien doesn't even really kill anybody... in fact, there isn't even any real indication that he WAS an invader, to be honest.  The plot was vague and simplistic.

The alien- which should've been the showpiece of the movie was really quite a disappointment.  It looked almost like a copy of Swamp Thing- but wearing what very well may have been a bondage harness.  When it ran, it looked like a man in a rubber suit.  I felt sorry for the guy who had to wear that costume.

Don't watch this movie.  Seriously, folks.  Don't.  It's a waste of time, electricity, and brain cells.  "Galaxy Invader" is truly one of "The Ugly"

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Psycho 2 (1983)

Normally, sequels tend to get a bad rep- though there are a few rare ones that either do as well as (or better than) the first installment.

After 22 years in a mental institution, Norman Bates is finally coming home.  As he tries to put his life back together, and move forward into a healthier future, a shadow stalks him and the house.  Soon, the killing begins.  Has Mother returned as well?

Considering that the original "Psycho" was such a hit- and is considered one of THE greatest horror/suspense films of all time, you certainly wouldn't be able to blame Universal for wanting to see if they could capture lightning in a bottle again.  But would someone OTHER than Hitchcock be able to pull it off?

Fortunately, Director Richard Franklin does a great job tackling this franchise.  Of course, it helped that the story itself was interesting, and took a look at Norman from a totally different angle: as the victim.  This approach brought a depth and fullness to the character that was engaging and unique.  It also showed courage on the part of the studio, since it would've been so much easier to simply have Norman killing everyone again.

The story is filled with suspense, and twists that keep you watching and thinking about what may be happening, might happen... and even if it did happen at times.  Is Norman the killer?  Is it the girl from the dinner that moves in?  Is it Lila Loomis- sister of Marian Crane, who was killed by Norman in the original?  Or has Mother come back somehow?

Of course, there ARE a couple of moments where physics and time collide with the needs of the story.  The biggest one involves Mother's room.  One minute it's all dusty, then set up nicely, then all dusty again.  But they are minor and are easily forgotten for the most part.

The characters are well done also.  I liked them and found them engaging.  I especially enjoyed the juxtaposition of Norman and Lila's characters.  It was interesting to see the change 22 years had brought the two characters.  Norman has come out of it "cured" and sane- while Lila has grown obsessed with Norman and keeping him locked up.  Mary was a great character as well- she plays a subtle role at the beginning, but grows into a vital piece of the story.  Every character fit nicely into the story and served a purpose.

Meg Tilly did a wonderful job as Mary- she had a sweetness, and a touch of darkness to her that gave the character depth and realism.  Another great actress was Vera Miles- who plays Lila Loomis.  She brought such energy and intensity to her character that you could almost see her taking a knife to someone just to put Norman away again.  She switched between cold calculation and firey anger with great skill and smoothness.

And then there's Anthony Perkins.  His acting is what really tied the movie together.  Just a phenomenal piece of work by him.  The modulation of his voice, the way his expressions changed, and the way his body moved.  He made Norman more than just a slasher killer.  He made him human- and made watching him fall apart bit by bit a deeply engrossing event.  It was a shame that it was hard for him to get past being typecasted as a Norman Bates type character.  Just a master actor in my opinion.

This movie tip-toed the fine line between suspense and gore really well.  It would've been so out of character if they had simply gone a gorey route since the slasher horror film was so popular at the time.  Other than one scene, there is very little gore- it's all left up to your imagination.  Loved the suspense.

In the final analysis, I'm going to have to say that "Psycho 2" is one of the few sequels that lived up the expectations of its franchise by providing a quality story, while taking that story in a different direction.  I'm going to put it in "The Good".

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Alone in the Dark (2008)

You wake up after having been drugged, with no memory of who you are.  Soon afterwards, people start dying, and you are in a race against a dark organization to control the release of demons of Hell.  Who are you- and what is your connection to the evil that is razing New York?

This is going to be a very short review for "Alone in the Dark".  Why?  Because, to be honest, I wound up violating one of my rules for reviewing.  I became so frustrated with the game that I stopped playing.

It didn't take me all that long either, actually.

In fact, I didn't even get out of the building I woke up in at the beginning of the game.


It wasn't the story.  The premise was great: solve the mystery of who you are, and stop Hell from coming to Earth.  I'm down with that.

It wasn't the graphics.  They are phenomenal- especially the fire.  The way it looks, and the physics of how it interacts with the environment, etc was really good.  The details in side the halls, elevator shaft, and rooms that I did see where really good too.  While the NPC's could've been a bit more detailed, they were decent enough.

It wasn't even the music or sound effects.  I liked them.  The crackling of the fire, the footsteps, and the music really helped to set a good mood, setting, and tone to the game.

No, I didn't stop playing because of any of those things.

I stopped because the game mechanics were a bloody mess.  The manual dedicates FOUR pages to the controls. You had your Basic Controls (Hands-Free), Basic Controls (First Person View), Inventory, Focus on Item, Using a Rope, Gun Use, Vehicle, Bottle/Throwable Object in Hand, Handling Objects, and Gas Bottle/Extinguisher.  Seriously, does a game REALLY need that sets of controls?  Trying to remember what control set I needed led to me dying several times (15 times to be exact) in one spot.

Also, the game has a First Person option- but kept kicking me out of it into Third Person... which is harder to move around in.  This tendency led the game to kill me about ten MORE times in another spot... each death occurring pretty much right after I spawned.  I'd hit First Person, get kicked into Third Person, die.

If the developers had kept the game mechanics simple, and allowed me to stay in First Person when I selected that option, I probably would've enjoyed myself more.  As it is, I will never put this game into my X-Box again.  It's getting a big "Ugly" from me.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Profile of a Killer (2012)

Once in awhile, a movie comes along from an independent film maker that just makes your breath catch in your throat with how skillful they are.  One such movie was sent to me recently by Jasmine Reid- the Producer of Caspian Tredwell-Owen's "Profile of a Killer"

Saul, an ex-FBI profiler is called in to consult on a case, only to find himself the target of the killer.  Soon, he finds himself face to face with the ruthless murderer, and engaged in a game of wits as he is forced by his captor to profile him.  If he's wrong, people die... and if he's right?

I was really impressed by "Profile of a Killer".  The story is tight and flows smoothly throughout.  It's not intense, but certainly enough to engage you in what is happening on the screen.  There is hardly any wasted puzzle pieces in this plot.  The story is more character driven than action driven- which is something I really liked about it.

The characters really helped propel the story.  I liked Saul, and found his quite believable, and relatable.  The same could be said for David- the killer.  But only because we all ask ourselves the same thing as he does at the end.  Rachel, while a cold, emotionally distant character (her expression hardly EVER changes throughout the course of the movie), was still interesting.  I would've liked to have seen the relationship between her and David (the prey/hunter relationship) fleshed out as much as the relationship between Saul and David.  I think it would've added more depth to her, and made her a little more sympathetic and less flat.

All I can say about the acting was that it was fantastic.  I was pleasantly surprised, and quite pleased with the quality of it.  Gabriele Angieri as Saul really brought warmth, desperation, and poise to the character.  His face was so expressive, and his voice just a great match for the role.  I liked Emily Fradenburgh as Rachel- even if the character herself didn't feel completely formed.  You could tell though from her acting that her character had some serious issues in her past- and made you want to learn more about her.  Teamed up nicely against Angieri's character, Joey Pollari as David was just amamazing.  He covered the gamut from uncertain and scared to chilling delight in what he was doing.  Few actors can make their eyes look dead and bottomless, but Pollari did it wonderfully.  His acting balanced nicely with Angieri's more understated style.  Just a great cast.

I was also quite pleased with the camera work.  Director Tredwell-Owen would make for a great TV director, as his shooting and editing style is very much in that vein.  I didn't feel like I was watching a two your movie.  Instead I felt like I was watching a high quality TV show, and didn't even notice the time passing by.  The lighting is very natural and subtle- unlike the rather glossy look that so many big budget Hollywood films have.  The editing flowed nicely and smoothly, with some nice examples of creative cutting, angles and even visual effects.  It is a beautifully shot movie.

I had a hard time finding negatives in "Profile of a Killer", because I got sucked into it nicely.  I would certainly watch it again- AND I recommend watching it to everybody.  I want to thank Jasmine Reid for sending me this movie so I could put it in The Good!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Friday the 13th (1980)

In this era of remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, remixes and rehashes, I like to go back and look at the original version of many of the films being made these days- like 1980's "Friday the 13th".

Twenty years after the death of a some camp counselors, Steve Christy hopes to reopen Camp Crystal Lake- despite the claims made by "Crazy Ralph" that the place is cursed, and that him and the rest of his staff will die.  While getting the camp ready, staff members start to disappear...

What can I say about "Friday the 13th"?  Just this: iconic movie.  Pure and simple.

While, the plot is basic and simple, it is still enough to allow the movie to develop the characters- and give us a movie twist that- at the time of release, was unexpected, and unprecedented.  It is this twist that helped to differentiate it from John Carpenter's "Halloween".  It also helped to keep it from simply being another slasher film.  A great little bit of storytelling.

The characters were decent, and helped to serve as the basis for slasher films of the future, by having the different "types" of characters.  I actually LIKED the characters- which is a rare thing for me to say about most of the more recent horror movies.

Of course, the characters wouldn't have been as likable if the acting hadn't been really good for a low budget horror movie.  Adrienne King as Alice was great.  She really brought her character to life, and made you want her to survive.  It was also fantastic to see Keven Bacon in one of her earlier films (it was his fifth movie in a two year span- starting with "Animal House" in 1978).  I absolutely loved Crazy Ralph- played by Walt Gorney.  The joyful expression on his face as he pronounces the camp staff as doomed was just an excellent touch.  He made that small role a memorable one.  Of coruse, we certainly can't forget the wonderful performance given by Betsy Palmer as Mrs. Pamela Voorhees.  Once she appears, she OWNS the screen.  She gives us a great example of "Crazy Eyes" in this movie.

I have to say that I also really quite enjoyed the kills in "Friday the 13th".  While not all of them are on screen, and there isn't a whole lot of grue shown, they are still good.  Kevin Bacon's death was especially good.  The first time I saw that years ago, my jaw dropped.  And the "banana death scene" was also a great one to see too.

The camera work isn't superb, but was certainly enough to frame the action in unique and interesting ways.  There are some stills that are just great to look at.  I loved the way the lighting seemed so natural, while still allowing us to actually see what was happening.

When all is said and done, "Friday the 13th" is a great film to watch by yourself, or with friends.  I'm putting it in The Good.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Glint in the Dark (Lori Kay)

Welcome to the first review for 2014!  Woo Hoo!

I was approached by Lori Kay about review her book, "Glint in the Dark", and she even sent me a nice hard copy version of it.  It's taken a little while due to one thing after another happening in my Life- but I've finally been able to sit down and write up the review.

Glint is a rock star with a dark past.  Unexpected coincidences soon bring him to the attention of radio station owner Grant Templeton.  Grant begins a journey to find out the source of Glint's success... and what connection he has to the death of his daughter years previously...

While there are some horror elements in this story, it's more a dramatic one than a simple horror story.  It's about finding closure after the tragic death of a loved one, and the path that Justice can sometimes take in order to be served.  Those two themes add a nice depth to the story, and puts it above most in the genre.

The writing style is fairly smooth and easy to follow.  It flows nicely- with only a few spots where you might be jarred out of the train of thought you might be in while reading.  This isn't so much a real style problem as it is minor errors in grammar and spelling.  Despite those small issues, I still found myself not wanting to stop reading.

I really liked the protagonist, Grant.  He was a finely crafted, and almost a complete personality.  He had depth to him, and felt quite believable and likable.  The same can be said for the rest of his family as well.  They were all well written, and served a purpose within the story.  Even the antagonists were good to read.  You wanted to learn more about Glint and his band- especially his girlfriend Mercy.  Just a great job of bringing the characters to Life.

Since the horror element is more just window dressing, and there were a couple of moments that knocked me out of the world on the pages, I can't put "Glint in the Dark" in The Good.  Despite putting it in The Bad, I WOULD re-read it, AND I would recommend it to others for at least one reading.  I would like to read more of her work- especially if she were to bump up the horror content.