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Attack of the Mushroom People Review


It’s time to take a look at a really old school Japanese horror film. I didn’t really know what to expect with this one, but it’s definitely a little different from what I could have ever guessed. It’s definitely a slow burner so fans of the atmosphere approach could enjoy it, but unfortunately a very weak cast filled with terrible characters holds this one all the way back. It ends up being a bad film instead of a decent one. There are some good ideas here, but ultimately they cannot capitalize on them.

The film starts off with a group of sailors trying to sail away from the rest of the world. Each one has a different reason for being on the ship, but ultimately they will be heading to another part of the world where they can really live out their lives. Unfortunately the ship crashes and they all land on a foreign island. They quickly learn that there is more to this island than simple wildlife as the mushrooms are deadly. Left with dwindling resources the characters begin to turn on each other and allow their primal instincts to take over. Can any of the crew survive or at this point have they already lost enough of their humanity for it to not matter anymore?

As I mentioned above, the main problem with the film is the fact that the characters are so bad. I understand that the point of the film is about how all of the characters slowly succumb to the situation, but it’s a very negative outlook. The view that all humans will eventually turn evil is a common one, but certainly not an accurate view nor is it a very entertaining one. The characters start to become corrupt almost immediately and the ones who haven’t turned yet aren’t strong enough to defy them. It makes for a pretty mean spirited film where you know everyone is doomed from the start.

That’s not a bad thing per say as it can be fun to have everyone bumped off. There are quite a few good retro films with a plot like that which works out pretty well. The reason why this one doesn’t work well is because we don’t have the mystery angle to work with and the characters aren’t written nearly well enough to pull this off. The writing isn’t terrible, but I wouldn’t call it good either. The film ends up dragging on quite a bit despite not being very long which is always a very troubling sign.

Then we have the fact that the mushroom people don’t appear much at all. When they finally do show up it’s not as if they are all that impressive in a fight. They aren’t bulletproof or anything like that and are quite slow. The only reason they are even able to put up a basic fight is because the main character, Kenji, isn’t very smart and likes to waste bullets. By the time he is surrounded it is naturally too late as well….or it would be if they weren’t so weak. Kenji manages to overcome 20-1 odds which tells you all you need to know about the mushroom people.

From the rest of the crew we have 3 flat out antagonists. One is a girl named Mami who likes having everyone fight over her so she manipulates the men on the crew. That shows how weak willed they are. Ultimately her plan is mainly to call on everyone’s bluff and she still manages to get the last laugh in the end. Then the other two villains like making threats about how they’ll assault the other crew mates. This is the kind of drama that the film goes for and it’s the low hanging fruit on any situation like this. It doesn’t help the film’s writing at all. If anything it just diminishes the experience greatly like here. When nobody challenges the villains initially after the first threat there is no way to regain respect for the characters either.

Then you’ve also got the villain with a gun who manages to get the heroes at gunpoint 2-3 times. Did they really think they could be safe after locking him inside when everyone else is crazy? Their food supply is stolen several times as everyone else gets really greedy while on the ship. The only one who stays strong is Kenji and even then he seems rather naïve the whole time. Some of the characters get brief backstories but there isn’t much time to explore them.

Aside from the villains who are just plain unlikable, the main heroine may be the worst character here. Akiko is extremely timid and lets everyone walk all over her. She does her best to bring down the mood and atmosphere aboard the ship. Getting seasick is no fun so I won’t blame her for all of that but if she doesn’t get along with everyone then getting on this boat was probably a mistake. Even by the end she ultimately ends up cracking with everyone else. It’s possible that she was forced to eat a mushroom so I won’t be too hard on her, but it doesn’t help her case either. Naturally the heroine who was actually outspoken and ready for action turned out to be evil.

Most of the film is a flashback so you already know that at least one guy will get out safely. That does hurt the tension in the scene where villains surround him since you know that he can’t die there or even be transformed. It’s always an odd tactic to have a flashback be most of the film because you already know the ending. It’s just a huge spoiler. Kenji tries to sound deep and moving by the end, but since he’s already mostly crazy you can’t blame the doctors for keeping a safe distance. They are just looking out for themselves after all.

Overall, I guess I have to say that the film was a little disappointing. The film’s set up just isn’t all that great. I don’t mind the idea of a group of characters being stuck on an island and trying to survive, but then you’ve at least got to have a great group of characters who have solid banter with each other. It should be the group surviving against monsters or dangerous elements. If most of the group is either evil or unlikable then that’s going to take everything away from its potential. You don’t want to watch a civil war between the islanders, especially not with the stakes this high. If you want to watch a classic Toho film then I highly suggest sticking to Dragon Ball Z or Godzilla. This one’s just too much of a slow burner and ultimately doesn’t manage to keep its quality levels up.

Overall 4/10

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Cast Away Review


It’s time to look at a survival film. These are fairly hard to do. There are the easy ones where it’s a group of people stuck on an island inhabited by giant monsters or an enemy clan. Those can work because you’ve got a lot of dynamics at play. Then you’ve got a survival film like this one which is tricky because there is only one character on the island. As a result you run the risk of the film just being boring and unfortunately…that’s exactly what happens here. There is some spoilers for the ending of the movie below so you have been warned.

The film starts off pretty strong as we meet Chuck and see that he is a pretty fierce FedEx mail guy. He is pretty obsessed with his company being able to meet deadlines and wants them to achieve more. His advice seems to be working and so Chuck gets ready to make one last delivery/meeting before going back home for New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately the plane he is on crashes and now he is stuck on an island. He’ll have to try and survive for a long while as there is no way to get off this island and people may not find him for a long while. Can Chuck pull this off?

The film has a good beginning and an interesting ending. The problem here is the middle. As soon as the plane went down the movie basically went right along with it. There’s just not much to see or enjoy about Chuck’s isolated vacation on the island. There’s no one for him to talk to and not a whole lot for him to do either. As this is the bulk of the movie you can see how it gets old fast. It’s basically all of the usual survival tropes. He tries to make a fire, tries to make a boat, etc. Each attempt injures him further which makes all of his activities a lot harder than they would be otherwise. His attempts are pretty good for the most part and he’s definitely a creative guy so he is able to make things work out. You can respect that from his character, but again it doesn’t make for interesting viewing.

I’ll give the movie credit for not being nearly as gross as a recent film where a girl is stranded on a rock with a shark nearby, but it still does do some iffy things like having a crab get stabbed and eating raw fish. These scenes did the film no favor. It takes what could have been an easy 7/10 film and drops it a few stars until it’s under the baseline. If you want to do a survival film, you’ve got to have at least 2 characters. Yeah, you run the risk of adding romance to the movie but at least you can have some dialogue and maybe even throw some humor into the mix. With just one person there is no chance of that and it’s pretty much a waste for Tom Hanks since dialogue is his strong suit.

As I mentioned, the beginning of the film is pretty solid. It establishes Chuck as a pretty likable character. It’s a charismatic opening and the film has a lot of fun with the scenes. The writing is solid and a whole film could have been made about Chuck making the delivery times faster. Then once he gets off the island it’s like the film finally restarts. Of course now it isn’t quite as fun since everyone moved on without Chuck. His fiancee is gone and it’s like he has to start life over from scratch. At least he kept his job, losing that would have probably made the ending a little too grim. It speaks well to the company as FedEx just looks really good here. They even throw him a nice party and while part of that is for the PR, the guys in the office just seem like a lot of fun.

The movie does drop the ball with the climax though. As mentioned, the fiancee is with some other guy now and at first the movie is pretty tame here as Chuck accepts this and calmly tells her goodbye and wishes her well. Then she runs out of the house and cheats on her current husband one last (presumably) time. I think that scene didn’t need to be in the movie. She made her choice and now she needs to live with it. She makes it pretty clear that the new guy is just a rebound, but that doesn’t make the situation any better. Also, the fact that the other guy used to know Chuck just makes it worse. The fiancee moved on pretty quick after all since she already has a kid and it’s only been 4 years so that means she probably waited 2 years max. That’s a fairly quick rebound.

At least now Chuck will be able to focus on his job again. He’s definitely a solid employee as he gets right back into the field. The ending shows that he now has a passion for the work again and I expect he’ll be making a lot of deliveries. He also gets to meet the person who indirectly saved his life through the colorful package that he found on the island. I think that person could make for a good friend although I imagine that Chuck won’t be making a rebound anytime soon.

Overall, Cast Away is a film where the actual premise is really what held it back a bit. The characters are fun and all, but it feels like the film hits the pause button early on as we’re stuck on the island for an extremely long amount of time. Cutting part of that time out would have helped the film quite a lot. Being stuck on an island like that just limits the film’s opportunities. If you like films about experiencing nature and such then check this one out. If you’re hoping for a lot of fun dialogue and situations then you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Overall 4/10

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Malone Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

It’s time for a CIA type revenge thriller. Revenge films can always be tough since naturally the lead is getting revenge for something which means a tragic backstory. Some films take this as far as they can. What’s the saddest thing that can happen? Usually it involves family dying, sometimes it’s the film dying (By having the dog die) but there are many different versions. The film has to be careful not to make the scene too tragic/mean spirited or the movie is over before it has begun while still trying to make the scene reasonably emotional. It’s a tight rope act.

Richard used to work for the CIA, but lately he has a hard time murdering people. He wants out and decides to just walk away. Naturally you can’t just walk away from a job like this but he’s the best in the business so it’s reasonably easy to dodge his former subordinates. He finds himself in a small town that has been taken over by corrupt cops and thugs. They want to commit terrorist acts against the country and see Richard as a threat. They decide to destroy him and his newfound friends to teach the guy a lesson. Richard will have to either stop the enemies or avenge his friends.

This film has that gritty 80s vibe to it from the start. You never really feel like Richard’s friends have a shot here. They all mean well and are pretty nice but that’s exactly why they seem expendable. You have the kid who looks up to Richard, her father who refuses to sell his land to the villains (uh oh) and a CIA agent who has arrived to arrest Richard but decides to team up with him instead. Death flags will pop up for all 3 and the real question is who will live past this ordeal. Also since the cops are involved and corrupt this can lead to the frustrating scenario where they can and will arrest Richard for anything just so they can take his guns. They can even just handcuff him so the villains can beat him up without a fight.

When the cops are in on it the hero is put in a very bad spot. It’s pretty hard to overcome this because after a point the only option is to take down the cops and the villains which will lead you to becoming a fugitive across the country. It’s a tough spot for sure. The film does a good job of painting a bleak picture for Richard. It’s certainly a thriller with high stakes. I can’t say that Richard does a bad job against them as he reasonably does all he could, but I think he begins to falter with the romance angle in general and some of his decision making skills. He may not have had to go for revenge if he had planned things out better.

The romance angle here is definitely very weak though. The CIA agent coming over just to be swayed by Richard was certainly a bit much. There goes her professionalism. I can understand her not wanting to listen to the corrupt order to murder Malone, but there’s a fine line between that and getting together with him. Then the film also has the kid start to like Richard which makes for a very tricky plot. Especially since Richard is not nearly as firm as he should have been in declining her. He’s at least 30 years older than her, maybe more so. It was just a lousy plot. The film should have absolutely skipped the romance plots in this film and that would have been a really good idea. It’s all pretty unnecessary.

Naturally the film can also be a bit gritty. I wouldn’t say that it ever becomes over the top violent or anything but it’s definitely got that 80s vibe to it. The deaths can be pretty gruesome even if they aren’t all on screen. It’s basically what you would expect from the premise. Unfortunately the CIA part of it doesn’t get as much screen time as I would have liked. It would have been nice to see the CIA step in and start fighting with the villains. After all, while they want to cover all of this up you’d think that they would also be happy to take care of the local mob and cops right? Instead they also appear to be just as corrupt as the villains. The film tries to make it crystal clear that only Malone and the two people he’s living with can be trusted.

Overall, Malone isn’t a film that I would particularly recommend. It feels a lot like some of the wild west films like Hang em High and other such titles with the tough main character who shows up to take down the villains but simply isn’t nearly as engaging as those were. The main character isn’t quite as good and while the villains were reasonable I guess they don’t do anything to save the film. It’s not a very pleasant film either. Naturally it’s fun to see Malone go in and take down the villains, but by the time he does it feels like an empty victory.

Overall 4/10

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The Tingler Review


It’s time to look at an old film known as the Tingler. It’s a movie that will cause you to re-think everything you thought you knew about the notion of fear. At least, that’s what the film thinks. We even get an intro at the beginning where the writer is basically begging you to try and act scared during the film since the whole climax revolves around this. It’s a little rough since these films are hardly scary and you’d have to have a group of friends around to be bold enough to yell in the first place. All in all, it wasn’t the best film out there, but as far as horror titles go it could have been a whole lot worse.

So the movie starts off with Chapin figuring out that inside of every human is a giant worm known as the Tingler. It explains the back pains we get when we’re older. When people get super scared the worm gets huge and starts crushing us from the inside however as soon as you yell the noise vaporizes the creature. As such it is hard to capture the thing alive since this is the weakest monster in a very long time. Chapin tries to scare himself but he simply isn’t brave enough and ends up yelling. The effect also doesn’t work too well on his wife since she ends up passing out. No, he needs someone who can’t yell out. That’s where Martha comes in. She is mute and cannot let her fear out. She conveniently dies of fear and so Chapin gets a hold of the Tingler. Will this really make him rich and famous or has he done all of this for nothing?

Chapin is one of those eccentric main characters who wants to prevail in his scientific endeavors no matter the cost. Whatever it takes is what he will do, even if it means putting someone at gunpoint. He is rocky enough where the film is able to successfully pull off some misdirects with him. There are two times in the film where you think he is going to do one thing and he does the other. Both were unexpected and particularly the latter twist as it happens at the very end of the film. Even if these twists gave Chapin a little humanity I can’t say that he was a great character. Let’s step away from the moral ambiguities of even trying to capture a Tingler. Once he actually does have one he doesn’t even want to do anything with it. He decides that there are forces of nature beyond man. All I can say to that is it’s a little late for second thoughts at this stage in the game. At that point everyone suffered for nothing. Chapin is also rather naive.

In a subplot, his wife has been cheating on him for a while now and is trying to steal money from his employee’s fiancée. Chapin confronts her about this and then gets the gun ready. Later on she claims to have had a total change of heart and serves him a drink. He flips the cups thinking that he has outsmarted her but the plan was a little more intricate than that. What he should have done was not drink at all. How could he take such a big risk? The wife is naturally not a good character either. She’s basically just around to try and make everyone’s lives a lot tougher than they needed to be. The film never tries to make her sympathetic and that’s certainly for the best.

Then we have Oliver who seems a little unbalanced. He likes to drink a lot and just seems very off during the scene where he visits his brother’s body in the beginning. He wonders what it would feel like to be in the chair and stuff like that. Even Chapin has to cut him off a few times. Oliver never ends up becoming a decent character and if anything the lead was probably a little too polite to him by the end. At least Chapin is fearless I’ll give him that. Martha could be annoying at times since she would act very suspicious right from the start. She is clearly very connected to her money and didn’t want to let it out of her sight even for an instant. That being said, she is a little too rattled by basic things like a little cut. I suppose it can be unnerving, but all of this together just made her a little too eccentric.

As for the actual Tingler, it’s hard to the creature seriously. Essentially it’s just a big worm with pincirs. Once it has you in its grip then it’s all over. I can appreciate the threat that this would pose to most humans in this film, but he could have had a cooler design. At the end of the day it just didn’t seem that strong. The main characters seem to think that it cannot be destroyed, but they hardly even tried doing anything to prove that theory. As a result it is hard to really buy into that hypothesis. Where’s the proof?

The ending was certainly interesting with how we got a twist like in a modern horror film. Considering who was getting twisted you’ll be hard pressed to try and defend the guy. As they say, karma arrives awfully quick in most horror titles. Play the villain at your own risk there. I guess the film did a reasonable job of making most of the twists realistic throughout but it’s all still tragic for the victim. According to the villain the victim had tried similar deadly things on him off screen, but it’s hard to know if he was being legit or even if it matters.

Overall, The Tingler is a film that likes its plot twists. They actually did work rather well so I’ll give the film some props there. Still, the movie felt rather unfocused. I still can’t believe that Chapin would give up on his dream so quickly after being completely obsessed over the Tingler for many years. That is just too rushed. Most of the characters seem to be rather crazy as well so there’s no one to root for. Even Chapin’s employee is basically just going along with all of this for his paycheck even though he has a feeling that things just aren’t right at the moment. He may as well be an accomplice. He was also going to bring some animals to test the fear element on which is inhumane at best. No, the only character to root for here is the Tingler as it works to destroy all of humanity.

Overall 4/10

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The Return of the Vampire Review


It’s time to look at another vampire movie. It’s actually been quite a while since I’ve seen one. Have they gotten better over time or is it doomed just like the rest? This one’s basically the latter. It’s far and away not the worst vampire film I’ve seen, but it still isn’t particularly good. It deserves some props for trying to do its best within the genre, but at the same time it could have simply have chosen another genre and that would have been the end of that.

The film starts off with a vampire showing up and deciding to destroy someone. It’s what he has been doing for years so why stop now? He then claims another victim in a town so 2 of the locals head over to his coffin and murder the guy. (The vampire base gets less and less guarded in each film) Unfortunately the groundskeepers show up later and remove the stake since they were dismayed to see the corpses being defiled in this way. This allows Dracula to return from the grave (All right, I’ll start calling him Tesla from here since that’s his name in this film) and continue his hunt. Tesla decides to adopt a human identity once more so that he can attract more attention to himself and gloat in his self satisfaction. Can anyone stop him?

Right away I have to give the film some credit with how it treats Lady Jane as the lead. She handles the situation wayyyyy better than most of the other main characters who run around crying and screaming at the mere sight of Dracula. Nobody’s got time for that. Jane destroyed him once and when he returns she is ready to conquer him once again…I mean Tesla. Her best scene is when Tesla walks over to her room and boldly starts telling her every part of his plan. He’s going to take her family and rule the world from the shadows. She calmly ignores him during the whole speech and gives him a look that says “Are you done yet?” Tesla gets a little perturbed by this and approaches her. Jane calmly finishes her piano piece and then puts the book down, revealing a cross under it. Tesla runs away scared and you realize that Jane is a very sensible character. She also spends a great deal of time trying to convince everyone else that Tesla is real.

Of course, a vampire film wouldn’t be all there without that one skeptic who refuses to believe that vampires are a thing. He sees the bite marks and doesn’t care. It’s all superstition and hocus pocus. Even his two comic relief underlings eventually see the light while this guy doesn’t even at the very end. You always cut these skeptics a little slack since it would take a lot for me to suddenly believe they are real as well, but you should at least look at what is happening and consider the possibility. What does this guy have to lose? As a result he is rather slow and doesn’t help much at all. He brings a gun to the final fight where he panics and fires the first shot, but that doesn’t help his case either.

To quickly give the underlings a shoutout, they did put up a reasonable fight against the werewolf. It may have been futile, but I’m glad that they didn’t go down in one punch as you may have expected. The Werewolf himself is a little annoying. He can’t resist Tesla’s powers and even after being cured he allows himself to regress back into a villain. At the end it takes getting shot in the chest to finally get him to realize that being a hero is the only true path to take. Better late than never though so we take those.

What makes this film a little better than the other Dracula films is that it doesn’t go for the low brow vampire moments that doom the genre. We don’t see Tesla constantly draining people’s blood. Make no mistake, there are fatalities here and he’s still just as unlikable a villain as always, but the film doesn’t rub our faces in it. There is also no animal violence squeezed in this time. I still don’t find vampires particularly interesting, but considering the genre I think the movie did a fair job of it. The writing isn’t bad either. It balances in some humor and the characters sound reasonable. While the skeptic ultimately would not see reason at least he had some valid reasons for sticking to his version of events.

Overall, The Return of the Vampire is about what you’d expect from a Vampire film. It basically goes through all of the usual motions, but does its best to stay classy throughout. If you are a fan of these films then you’ll certainly enjoy this one. Get ready to see Jane dish out the damage against Tesla. While Vampires have quite a few weaknesses including Garlic and Stakes, I’m always glad that the Cross gets such a powerful effect against them as well. It’s used quite effectively here. The most random scene in the film is probably when a giant explosion occurs which prevents the cross from finishing off Tesla, but since the vampire was doomed anyway perhaps it was just a way to stretch out his inevitable end. Tesla certainly didn’t end up going very peacefully.

Overall 4/10

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Two on a Guillotine Review


It’s time to look at another old film from back in the day. This one is probably one of the oldest haunted house type films that I’ve seen not counting some comedies like the Abbot and Costello films. (If those were older) It’s not a particularly good one though as the film makes a few mistakes and I can’t say that Val makes for a very good main hero. He trolls Cassie quite a lot to the point where you sympathize with her a whole lot more than you do him. Val may have turned out to be a good guy, but from her point of view there’s no reason to trust him. Anyway I’m getting ahead of myself a little so lets talk about the plot.

A magician known as John used to be quite popular until one of his tricks went wrong and his wife ended up dying. John went crazy with grief and died as well. After everyone attended his burial and saw his body close up, his will was read and Cassie got his riches. The only condition was she had to stay in his manor for 7 days in a row without leaving. In his will he promised that his ghost would show up to meet her. Reporter Val decides to get the inside scoop and pretends to be a random guy looking to be friendly so Cassie will let him in. The two hit it off and now Val just needs to figure out what John’s trick is. After all, he doesn’t believe in ghosts!

The house does have a lot of tricks and such that keep on scaring Cassie out of her mind. Honestly she is way too jumpy all things considered. If she was by herself then I could understand that, but with Val she shouldn’t be so exaggerated the whole time. When you’re with someone you’re never quite as scared as when you’re by yourself. Val isn’t the most understanding guy either so he keeps trying to scare her as well. You’d think that since he wants to stay as her guest he would be a bit more tactful but that isn’t the case at all. Honestly during the entire film he just doesn’t act the way you would expect him to. I guess that’s because in part during this experience he started to grow attached to her and stopped being a reporter which caused his brain to melt. Only possible explanation I guess.

In case you haven’t guessed this I was not a big fan of Val at all. He was just really annoying the whole time. As I mentioned he kept on trolling Cassie for no real reason. Even at the end once he comes in to try and help her fight off the magician he fails quite epicly. Not only should he absolutely be winning this fight, but he should be well aware of where the switch for triggering the axe is. He literally triggers it himself which by all accounts should have destroyed Cassie. Fortunately she lived, but he came too close to destroying her himself and as far as I’m concerned she should tell him to pack his bags at that point.

Cassie isn’t all that good either though. As I mentioned she gets scared way too easily. Furthermore, I think she is way too easy on Val. Even after she finds out he has been lying to her she quickly takes him back since Cassie gets scared again. I suppose using him for that purpose is fine, but afterwards she should quickly distance herself again. Val just doesn’t seem like a great guy. Cassie also doesn’t put up any kind of struggle at the end of the film and just faints again so that didn’t help her either. The house maid had more grit and she was only around for 2-3 minutes. Dolly is one of the red herrings in the film who Val is suspicious of, but ultimately doesn’t do much in the film. She does try to hold Val back when the villain shows up so at least she is good for aiding the villain. Of course the characters don’t acknowledge that since they aren’t brave enough and Val should have just shoved her aside if he was really trying to protect Cassie.

All right, it’s spoiler time folks. Skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know the ending. It involves the main villain. It’s a big plot hole that I can’t overlook since the film couldn’t be bothered to address it. As I mentioned earlier, the magician had a very public funeral where everyone saw the body. In that case, how can he have avoided his fate? At the end of the film we learn that he was alive the whole time and merely faked his death. He was living upstairs the whole time and must have brought a lot of snacks with him. I’m cool with him being able to hide for a few days because the mansion is big and he just locked the door he was in. The problem is that someone had to have noticed that the body was fake. This isn’t a CIA film where the villains have access to a bunch of duplicate bodies and this magician is hardly a criminal mastermind. I just don’t believe that he had another body at the ready to fool everyone. At best he murdered someone else, but then why didn’t the town know that someone was missing? The whole thing was just rather unbelievable and the writers clearly just wanted the twist without thinking about it too much.

Overall, I can’t say that this film was all that good. It’s not a terrible film or anything, but at the same time there isn’t much to keep you engaged either. As I mentioned it is very by the books without anything particularly strong to make it stand out. It’s just another film that will fade in your memory eventually. It probably would have gone a little better had the cast been better. At least I can say that the writing wasn’t bad. I mean, the twist was bad and that is a part of the writing, but the script was solid. I also liked the reporter’s friend who quickly showed up just to spoil his cover. The guy was so oblivious that he stole the movie in one scene.

Overall 4/10

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House of Horrors Review


It’s time to look at a horror film that is very by the books. It follows the pattern of every other movie of this nature and doesn’t try to do anything different. I can applaud that resolve to an extent, but it’s not enough to earn this film a positive score. None of the characters act very realistically and the Creeper won more battles than he should have.

The film begins with a critic walking in and blasting the main character’s art. The critic points out that it is terrible and now he will end the lead’s career. Marcel isn’t happy about that and decides to do something about it. He runs off to go jump in the lake but finds a wanted serial killer named the Creeper. They decide to team up and destroy all of the critics out there along with any civilians who get in the way. The only things that can possibly get in their way…are more critics!

We’ve seen the Creeper type villain many times before. Perhaps at this point in time the villain felt a little more inspired compared to nowadays but I can’t say that he did anything for me to be honest. He is a very slow villain and the only thing going for him is his raw strength. While he may not look like the most pleasant fellow, it’s hard to see people literally being unable to talk or scream in fright when he approaches. That’s definitely one trope that has not been missed in the modern days.

I think one problem with these films is that by the time the heroes make a move pretty much every character is dead aside from the main pair. In particular it was annoying to see the critic who was acting as bait get murdered since the cops were right there at the time and should have been more prepared. Then you have the assistant who was kept waiting by the same cop until it was too late. They may have eventually gotten the Creeper but by then there weren’t too many characters to save.

The main guy is pretty annoying as well. Steven really goes out of his way to act as suspicious as possible. When the critic used himself as bait the lead couldn’t help but break into the guy’s room and assault him. The cops save the guy and then Steven quickly goes into damage control mode but it’s too late. This guy was actually choking the critic so I think it’s safe to say that he is just as unhinged as the villain. Is the film trying to provide some commentary on the state of the artist? It was interesting having the focus be on the main villain and main hero but you can’t have them both act like the villain. Also, as expected the lead doesn’t look very good in the climax as he keeps asking the villain to let him in. Good luck with that……

As for the heroine, she’s definitely very tough and sarcastic which is always a good thing. Joan doesn’t tend to think things through all that well at times though like when she stole the files from the villains desk and then returned them the next day. She figured that he wouldn’t notice them but how could he not? Also putting them right where they had been makes it even more suspicious. Still, mistakes aside at least she had a lot more character than the lead who was literally sitting at home and twiddling his thumbs.

There’s not much to say about the human main villain. Marcel tends to whine a lot which is why the Creeper ends up helping him since this brute just wants to eat his dinner in peace. The artist just complains about everything and is in denial about the fact that his artwork wasn’t actually that good. One critic may have been conspiring against him but even then it wasn’t personal since we learn that he went after all of the artists in the city. I’m assuming that the artist would have known that so it makes his overreaction look even worse.

Overall, The House of Horrors has a very retro feel to it. It has those writing elements that are always present in films of this era in both good and bad ways. The script is quite strong as always but everyone fainting in fear is the weak part of the writing. The pacing isn’t bad but there is nothing remarkable about this film at all. It just goes through the motions without thinking about it. I think if the heroes had been able to step in sooner and save a few more people the whole thing would have worked a lot better. If you want to see an old horror film then go check this one out but I’d highly recommend going with a different option like the Witch’s Ghost instead.

Overall 4/10

4 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Red Balloon Review


It’s time to look at a fairly short film. This is one of those movies where you have to really enjoy balloons as otherwise you might not get all that invested in the plot. I don’t use the word “plot” loosely either since there isn’t much to find here. It’s a very short film so I wouldn’t even say that it drags on, but the movie forgets to ever get interesting. As such you’re just watching things happen on screen but without any kind of payoff or punchline.

The film starts with a kid walking with a Red Balloon. This balloon is sentient which is handy for the kid since he would have dropped it ages ago otherwise. The Balloon isn’t allowed in the school so the kid goes on ahead and everything goes well for a while. Things deteriorate when a group of kids decide to pop the balloon. The kid doesn’t want this so he runs, but he’s up against an entire school so he may be a little outgunned here. I sympathize with the kid, but with the numbers advantage so clearly against him there just isn’t much that he can do.

The ending is a little emotional as the Balloon gets wrecked by the kids. It’s hard to feel too sympathetic though since the balloon played the match up horribly. He can fly and yet when the kids came he decided to go low. A low sweep is good when the opponent is expecting an aerial attack, but since the balloon has no legs to kick with it’s a pointless maneuver. Of course they ended up popping him. I guess they were trying to say that the balloon wasn’t very smart, but I could have told you that from the start. It’s also sad for the kid since he wasn’t very smart either, but he was pretty young so I guess I’ll cut him some slack. At the end the other balloons come together in one last act of unity and teamwork. It’s an interesting scene I guess as it does show their true colors. They didn’t come to help until after the threat was passed and the balloon was terminated. Some friends they were!

At its core the problem this film faces is that without dialogue and a plot no film can succeed. You can have a good film without dialogue or a solid one without a plot, but you can’t do both at the same time. You need something to keep the audience engaged. Even the main character wasn’t really a character. What could you tell me about him aside from the fact that he’s a kid? The guy has no real personality and just seeing him cross the street and walk around town is hardly entertaining. Kids can’t really hold their own films. This is something that has been true for decades and I don’t expect it will change anytime soon. I already talked about how I didn’t like the balloon so there were no likable characters in this film.

Also, as most of the film is just the bullies chasing the hero, you’re hoping that he will outwit them at some point or do something. At least head for the adults for backup right? Instead he just runs through a lot of empty alleys until he finally lands in a field where no one can come to help. Fortunately the bullies were only interested in the balloon, but it definitely wasn’t an optimal outcome for the kid. Things went better than they could have, but why did the bullies have to get away for free? When you stop to think about it, they ended up winning which sends the wrong message.

Overall, I can’t really see how you would enjoy this film all that much to be honest. Maybe it will generate a level of nostalgia if you used to have a pet balloon or something. I can’t recommend the film even with the length because there just doesn’t seem to be a point to it. If you just want to see the landscapes just head to Central Park or London’s tower. Sitting down to watch someone just walk around doesn’t strike me as something that would be entertaining to do. If we ever get a sequel hopefully this time it gets a bigger budget so we will have something to watch and be entertained by. In the meantime, you should watch a good cartoon like Arthur instead.

Overall 4/10

4 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Mission Impossible 2 Review


It’s time to look at the next Mission Impossible film. Unfortunately this is the weak link of the series as it lost its way and became your average James Bond film. No worries it’s still classier than that series but even going to that level at all is unfortunate. I suppose it would probably have been tough to follow up such a strong first film in general though.

The film starts with Ethan climbing a mountain as part of his vacation. Unfortunately the government finds him and tells Ethan that they have a new mission for him. Someone has stolen a bunch of military items and is planning to do something big. Ethan has to recruit a thief to help him break into the villain’s lair. After he brings her to the team the IMF reveals that they actually just need Nyah because she is the villain’s ex and she will be in change of recovering the documents. Ethan isn’t thrilled about this but because he has lost his edge in his film he agrees to his corrupt plan. Too bad it was super obvious and the villain knew from the start. Can Ethan find a way to turn the tables?

This film went south right away so let’s talk about the negatives. For starters the film really focuses on the 007 angle as I mentioned with Ethan quickly going past the friend zone with a lady he has only known for about an hour. Seems a little out of character if you ask me. Then Nyah is ordered to use her charms on the villain as well and is stuck with him for a very long time while the heroes twiddle their thumbs. The IMF makes it clear that she is expendable and up til now they had at least been portrayed as relatively heroic. Too bad they turned out to be just as villainous eh? It really comes out of left field because up til now they had been reasonable. (One film, but still) Mission Impossible cycles through the bosses very quickly as they change in almost every film. It makes sense because the bosses tend to be evil or at least someone inside is a mole. I think they should all be checked a little more thoroughly at this point. Back to the film though. The whole situation is too bad because Nyah seemed like a reasonable character but the film completely dropped the ball with her. Most of her screen time ends up just being completely unnecessary fanservice. That’s basically the entirety of her first scene despite it being a way to supposedly show you how skilled she is. This doesn’t change throughout the film.

Then we have the constant slow-mo scenes and zoom ins. These scenes don’t add anything to the film and if anything they are just distracting the whole time. If you’re going to use those techniques then use them wisely at select moments to really make the experience more memorable. If you start using this everywhere then it loses the point. Almost every time it was used incorrectly and so this film easily has the worst camera work. We get some decent cuts like Ethan walking through the fire, but on the whole it just dropped the ball as well.

Due to the terrible plot even the characters suffered. As I mentioned, Ethan doesn’t look good here since he was on board with this plan. Naturally he talks tough about how he doesn’t support it, but that doesn’t mean anything if he’ll allow it to happen anyway. He also has a lot more trouble with all of the villains here than usual as his attacks just don’t seem to have their normal weight behind them. It takes him probably around 30 hits to take out his final opponent. While this was most likely just a cinematic excuse so we could see him pull off those moves, it’s still something that you can’t help but notice. Ethan gets the job done, but he’s a shell of his former self.

I’ve already discussed Nyah quite a bit so there is not much more to say about her. Good concept for the character, but the execution just wasn’t there. Luther is still a fun ally like in the first film. In comparison he doesn’t get a whole lot to do here but he’s around as always to help out. He is probably the only guy that Ethan can really trust so if I was the lead I’d definitely do my best to keep that guy out of harms way.

Then we have the main villain Ambrose who is pretty generic. At the end of the day he’s just a normal guy who sad that he got rejected by Nyah and doesn’t take it too well. The film does its best to show us what a mean fellow he is by giving us several scenes of him making life miserable for everyone. The scene where he clips someone was definitely a bit much though and the kind of scene that the film should skip. Ambrose always comes across as more petty than likable. Even when he comes up with a counter plan to Ethan’s which was actually handled well, it’s too late for him to really rank with the better cinematic villains.

As far as the positives go, the film’s pacing is air tight as usual. While it does slow down a bit for the romance scenes, they don’t pop up enough to really derail the film. For the most part there is always something happening here and we do get many fight scenes. There’s even a prolonged motorcycle chase scene at one point where we see Ethan take on quite a few fighters at once. This might be the best moment to quickly point out that Ethan’s hair style did not age well here at all though. It’s just really bad tbh, but it could have been worse. Back on topic, the fight scenes are solid. The film is definitely going for a slower, more martial arts type approach than Ethan’s usual quick barrage style. It works pretty well.

The soundtrack is still good as well. I really enjoyed the opening theme remix when the film’s opening scene concluded. It’s more rock based which is always a good thing and gets you pumped for the film. In general the soundtrack is very high energy and it works well for this film since that’s the approach that the movie was going for as well.

Overall, It’s just a shame that this film wasn’t better than it was. It just lost focus as to what makes the series so great. It tried to add a lot of extra gusto to the series which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it targeted all of the wrong demographics here. The series doesn’t need to be edgy or have Ethan Hunt be over the top suave as he gets everyone to fall for him. What made the first film great was the writing and the interesting plot. This one basically ditches all of that. Considering that this film is basically the definition of filler as nothing of importance happens here, you’re probably better off jumping from the first film to the third one and bypassing this entirely. It’ll keep the series in a positive light for you.

Overall 4/10

4 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

A Wrinkle in Time Review


It’s time to look at a recent book adaption. Unfortunately the book wasn’t good so an adaption was ultimately doomed to not be very good either. It’s a real shame since there are better books that we still need proper adaptions of like Daniel X. The film’s plot is just really weak, the characters aren’t likable or enjoyable, and the climax has a lot of plot hax. Yes, you have made it to the final Wrinkle in Time movie!

The plot starts off with a little girl named Meg getting in another fight. Her Mom is worried since this has been happening a lot lately. Meg’s father vanished a while back and he probably isn’t coming back so now at school everyone messes with Meg about it. That’s when an alien breaks into the house and tells Meg that they can find her father. Meg’s brother Charles is cool with this and her friend Calvin is game as well. The alien transports them to another world and now they have to use the powers of friendship and hope to break reality and free her father. Can they do this?

Keep in mind that the plot isn’t really the focus of the film. You can argue that it’s all just an abstract roundabout way of trying to get Meg to come to terms with her feelings. A big chunk of the film is about getting Meg to accept the unexplainable and to believe in the impossible like her father coming back. It’s an interesting moral since usually it’s more about letting go. Honestly this should have focused on the mother more as she knew about the dad’s experiments about teleportation and never did a thing to try and find him. Shouldn’t she have suspected the most what had really happened as opposed to just buying into his disappearance?

Meanwhile the 3 aliens are extremely annoying and don’t contribute anything interesting to the film. For starters, they don’t know how to interact with humans which gets really grating right from the start. They constantly insult Meg (Okay, just the main one throws the insults, but the others express their doubts a lot) just like the bullies in the real world. Are these really the cosmic beings that we are supposed to root for? They don’t get any good scenes and throw Meg into this world with no context so of course she is having some trouble. They should be more concerned with how Charles is taking everything in stride.

Charles was the worst character in the book and that hasn’t changed here. The film did a good job of reducing his scenes quite a bit which was great but at the end of the day nothing can really save his unfortunate ending. He’s very weak willed so the darkness can control him quite easily. It makes for a visually interesting climax where he gains telekinesis and super abilities but that makes him too strong. Meg is just a kid so keep that in mind and he has super powers. She literally has no chance of victory but even after getting thrown around the room multiple times to the point where she should have died, Charles is convinced to turn good again through the power of friendship. I think the climax should have been handled way differently. As it is Charles was less shady than in the book but either way the betrayal was a bit much.

Then we have Calvin who is just annoying the whole time. He’s pretty much here just to try and add in a bit of romance. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t work very well. He adds absolutely nothing to the film and just seems unrealistic. He helps her self esteem a lot and seems like a nice kid, but of course he needs to have a sob story as well. Why can’t he just be a nice guy who isn’t trying to compensate for something? The romance doesn’t get much of a focus fortunately but you do have to question why it was around in the first place.

The cast is rather small as the film is focusing on the visuals and not developing everyone. Unfortunately that means that every bad character really hurts the film and that is the case here. Lets make sure we have the record straight. We have Calvin who is a filler character. He’s not terrible, but he isn’t good. Then we have Charles who is a terrible character. The 3 Aliens are also super annoying. Meg isn’t very likable either as she is simply too mopey and constantly doubting herself. By the end of the film she finally gains confidence but it’s too late. We have the school personnel who are bad at their job like expected and then the bullies are added in as fluff. The Father is a poor character as well if you ask me. Maybe he shouldn’t be blamed for being powerless to escape his prison, but the guy just came across as really unprepared and had a tendency to give up easily.

As you can see this film just really didn’t hit the right notes for me. Granted, its biggest offense for the most part is simply that it was very boring. It’s not as if it made huge mistakes that would make me give it a terrible score like a 2. It won’t be positive either though since I just can’t recommend a boring film either. The film just has no life in it or any real imagination either. It just feels soul less and never gets you engaged. It’s like a fantasy film without any good lore behind it.

Overall, A Wrinkle In Time gets a hard pass from me. If you want to watch something that makes you feel like you’re watching a real film then check out something like Narnia instead. You will leave that film feeling a lot more fulfilled and it’ll probably age better as well. Perhaps a sequel to this film would work better now that the introductions are out of the way but it would still need a plot that is actually interesting to back it up so that may be a little too much for this series to handle as well. Still, with a sequel there is always hope I suppose.

Overall 4/10