Leprechaun 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.
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It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a horror slasher film with the antagonist bumping off everyone he runs into. It’s definitely a tried and true formula for failure that many franchises have gone for. I can’t say that Leprechaun did anything to try and save the genre, but I suppose I will give it some props for at least embracing the fact that the film was never going to be good and making everyone over the top. If a film is going to be bad it may as well have some fun moments right?

The film starts off with a drunk guy beating up a Leprechaun and stealing his gold. Unfortunately it seems like the guy may have cheated so the little villain wants his gold back. The drunk guy doesn’t care about this though and locks the guy up. A year passes and some new people are moving into the house. The heroine doesn’t like the place right off the bat, but the neighbors convince her to stay. Then the Leprechaun is let out of his box and the heroes start to get murdered left and right. Can they learn how to fight in time to stop this guy or will it be curtains for them? Either way their days may be numbered.

As I said, the film is very by the books. If anyone who isn’t one of the main characters shows up, he/she is doomed. We have the greedy store owner who tries to talk tough to the Leprechaun and he is quickly destroyed by his own toys. We have the overconfident police officer who immediately starts to make fun of the Leprechaun’s size and he is done away with. The villain really didn’t like him though and makes his death the longest by far. Then we’ve got other guys running around, but you get the basic idea. Even those who survive don’t get away without a few bites and scratches.

Of course the film is super violent as you would expect. They make sure to throw a bunch of blood in every possible scene to the point where you may wonder how much of the budget was spent on the paint. That’s already going to limit the film’s possible score, but that’s not its only weakness. There is also the fact that the writing is very lackluster. Good luck finding any remotely good lines in this movie. The characters panic a lot and none of them are very smart. They don’t really know how to fight and even figure that splitting up is in their best interest. Hint…it’s not.

As far as the Leprechaun goes, he isn’t a very intimidating villain. Of course that is likely intentional, but you almost want to snicker whenever he is on screen. The characters seem to get this inclination as well, but it never goes well for them. The villain has some basic magical abilities like teleportation and telekinesis, but his abilities are very weak unless he is with the gold. Even once he is back to full power the guy never seems very impressive. Shotgun bullets will put him down for minutes at a time. Judging by how effective they are, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few shots at once would put him down for good. Either way, his regeneration isn’t amazing. The guy has some basic super strength as well, but it is rather inconsistent throughout the movie. He’s a step below some of the cooler designed monsters like from the Grudge, but higher than the normal humans like good ole Jason.

Tory, Nathan, and Ozzie are the 3 main characters. Tory likes to be in high class places where the area is already clean and she doesn’t have to fix it up. Naturally this place in the middle of nowhere wasn’t exactly her style, but she tries to work with it after a while. She isn’t a terrible character and the film actually avoids going into the romance trap for the most part. She is rather easy to manipulate though as when Nathan tricks her into staying at the house. Tory could have been a lot worse which is probably the nicest thing to say about her. Nathan is your typical male lead. He’s fairly well built so naturally it’s more of a shock when the Leprechaun is able to overpower him. Nathan actually does try to fight back though which is a welcome change of pace from everyone else here. He was actually winning his initial confrontation with the Leprechaun even without a gun and once he had it then the match was over. To write him out the film had him get caught on a bear trap to limit how well he could fight. Ah well, he was still doing good for the most part beyond that.

Then we have Ozzie who isn’t very smart at all. He convinces the cops not to come to the house by calling since he always calls for fake incidents. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway though since the Leprechaun would have just switched his voice like he did later on. Ozzie also managed to swallow the coin somehow which is still rather hard to believe which causes the Leprechaun to not be very happy. The kid who hangs out with Ozzie is a little more reasonable. He points out that nothing can stand up to a 57 Magnum. Still, he is annoying beyond that and seems to think that even in the midst of a monster destroying everyone he should keep a few secrets. This kid needs to get his priorities straight.

Overall, Leprechaun is not a good film. There are some films that are terrible but enjoyable and this is not one of them. It’s not as bad as some films where the whole duration is unbearable as this film isn’t terrible 100% of the time. Still, it’s brutal and graphic enough to wreck any of the decent scenes in the film and the lack of quality writing hurts it as well. It’s safe to say that I don’t recommend this film and I’d sooner recommend watching Inspector Gadget if you want to see toys used as weapons. This film just has to get the hard thumbs down. Maybe the sequels will manage to beat it, but I can’t say that I have high hopes for the films in general.

Overall 1/10

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The Mad Magician Review

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It’s time to look at the Mad Magician, a Vincent Price film that plays it by the numbers for better or worse. The instant you see him show up you know that things are going to be tragic for his character and that he will turn to a life a crime. This film does handle itself fairly well though and may be one of the better Price films. Most of the characters are not very smart as you would expect though.

The film starts off with Mr. Gallico getting ready to perform his first ever show. For years he has built the magic tricks behind the scenes that have allowed others to get famous. Well, this will happen no more! Gallico is determined to show that he can be a great showman too. Unfortunately his boss shuts the show down and informs Gallico that he will never be allowed to take any credit for as long as he lives. Gallico decides that this is acceptable and so begins his murder spree as he tries to stay off the radar but more and more people start realizing that he is guilty. Can Gallico ever find peace?

Naturally Gallico does dig his own grave with the first murder. Honestly he was doomed as soon as he let the heroine get away with the head during the opening scenes as it certainly did make him look suspicious. Otherwise he could have just not murdered anybody and could have acted innocent the whole time. This didn’t quite pan out but it shows how an early mistake can really have an impact.

At least you can feel a little sympathy for Gallico unlike the average villain. It’s always a shame when corporate takes someone hostage thanks to the contract. Apparently this one was unbreakable and basically the company owns Gallico for life. It’s definitely an extreme contract and I’m sure that Gallico is wishing that he had read the contract a little better now. As always Price makes his characters pretty interesting to watch as his voice is very charismatic. You always get the feeling that the character is up to something. He certainly was a great inventor here, just a mad one.

The supporting cast here was better than usual. First up is the cop who won’t take no for an answer. Alan certainly goes through a lot of work trying to prove his fingerprint theory. That being said, he is unfortunately very weak and not very smart. Even after Alan breaks into Gallico’s office and knows with a decent amount of confidence that the man is guilty, he allows himself to be caught by surprise. He goes down quite easily to Gallico’s impressive karate chops. So I can give the cop some props for his deductive skills and being pretty pro active but the climax didn’t help him all that much.

There is also the murder author who allows Gallico to stay over while he is disguised as his boss who he murdered. This buys him some time but certainly doesn’t help in the long run as she is very perceptive and has come up with some plots that involved a lot of murders. There is one odd scene where she almost seems nervous about Gallico’s crematorium but by then she may have started to piece the puzzle together so it makes sense. Unfortunately she also looks a little weak in the climax. While Gallico is beating the cop like a drum, the author and the main heroine don’t lift a finger to help and instead run to the window to yell for help. A little assistance would have been nice and they would have outnumbered Gallico 3-1 so I would have liked their odds.

As far as the meaner characters are concerned, Gallico’s boss was a fun character to watch. He was rather extreme the whole time but at least he acted with confidence. His end was certainly inevitable though. Likewise, Rinaldi was also doomed as he kept trying to rub it in to Gallico that the inventor would never be allowed to star in he show. Once he found out that Gallico had been murdering people you would have assumed that he would play it cautiously right? Instead he goes back to the house to brag when the two of them are all alone and doesn’t notice that Gallico has locked the door. At that point you knew that he didn’t stand a chance. The same goes for the ex wife of Gallico who left him for money. She doesn’t try to blackmail him for anything but seems like he type of character who would at some point. She also took a little too long to realize how dangerous he was.

As far as the deaths go, the film is fairly tame. Only the first death is rather violent and it is off screen so it’s really just the implied violence that makes the scene intense. The other deaths are totally off screen. The writing is pretty solid as you would expect from an old school film like this one. All of the characters are very confident and self assured as they talk with smug expressions on their faces. That’s why the characters can be charismatic whether they are heroes or villains.

The whole idea of using a realistic mask to make yourself appear to be someone else definitely is a bit of a stretch but I suppose none of the characters knew the magicians too well. Those who did were able to quickly see through the disguise so there is that. I think Gallico probably made a mistake in not giving his hand prints right away while disguised as Rinaldi. This is really what made the cops suspicious of him. If he had given his prints and they were seen to be the same as the guy who died, then perhaps the cops would have been forced to have forgotten about the finger print idea entirely. It was a gamble either way though, Gallico put himself in a bad spot.

Overall, The Mad Magician is a fun film that will keep you entertained. It may be part horror, but the film feels like it attempts to have quite a few moments of comedy that work well. Basically this involves any scene where Gallico is slowly walking towards his prey. The villains eventually drive Gallico mad but but at least he doesn’t start randomly taking it out on everyone and mainly sticks to his goals. The film doesn’t try to be extra gritty or anything and the pacing is pretty good all the way through. I’d recommend checking this film out and it’ll serve as a good reminder that signing a contract with corporate is always a risky endeavor at best.

Overall 7/10

Bedlam Review

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It’s time to take a look at an old asylum horror film. It’s not by the Asylum crew but it takes place in one and I can’t think of too many settings that are worse than this. Bedlam just isn’t the kind of place that you really want a film to take place in. The whole film is rather dreary and it can get rather dark for the inmates. While the film has a happy ending it does take a long while to get there and in the meantime there just aren’t many reasons to like this film. The characters can also be annoying and I’m basically spoiling my review here so lets get started.

The film starts with a prisoner trying to escape Bedlam, but quickly being murdered by the warden. His name is George and he runs a tight ship around here. He is called in by the rich to explain what happened and George responds by showing the world how enslaved his prisoners are. The corrupt laugh at this spectacle and decide not to press charges, but one rich lady decides to put a stop to this. Her name is Nell and she decides to remodel the prison. George can’t have that so he has her arrested under guise of insanity and through Nell’s poor choice of words at the event she is found guilty. Nell is thrown inside the prison and must now try to communicate with them or she may not make it out alive.

First of all, we have to look at how bad Nell is throughout the film. She doesn’t make a stand against the malicious practices of Bedlam until she is goaded into it by a Quaker. Once she does make a stand, she really doesn’t do a good job of it. She doesn’t enact any actual changes until she is in the prison. Before that she goes to court to prove that she isn’t crazy. You’d expect her to have a calm head on her shoulders as she answers questions without sass right? No, instead she is sarcastic to the council and insults them quite a few times. She refuses to answer their questions and admits to doing crazy things like eating money. Naturally the council banishes her. Sure, the council was definitely bribed here, but she made their job so easy. Why did she have to be so antagonistic right from the start?

Then, Nell doesn’t even give the prisoners a chance once she is in the cage as she asks the Quaker for a weapon to defend herself. She considers the prisoners to all be savages and you wonder what happened to her lofty goals. Gradually the prisoners get her to join them in a game of cards and she realizes that they can be good. From here she is a good character who does make things better for the prisoners but it sure took her a while. I don’t blame her for not getting in the cage with the violent prisoner as that really could have ended pretty badly, but otherwise George actually had a point that she was all talk for a while.

Naturally George isn’t a very likable main character as he plays the cruel villain role. He likes asserting his dominance over the criminally insane and as we saw with Nell, he basically chooses who he thinks is insane. A lot of these people may be innocent but apparently the whole town is rather corrupt. Everyone looks the other way when it comes to George but that does backfire on him in the end. His end definitely plays out as you would expect as there was no way that he was going to live through this. He had simply done too much by this point.

Then we’ve got the Quaker. Unfortunately he is a very annoying character the whole time. He wants George to stand trial instead of being murdered by the inmates. A noble sentiment, but since he owns the town we all know that he would have gotten away scot free and then he would have murdered the inmates. The Quaker refuses to lift a hand to help anybody since he is a complete pacifist so it’s not like he would have helped to protect them. He comes across as oblivious to the world and rather naive. He could have been a good character, but they took him to the extreme and anyone could do what they wanted to him. It’s a shame since otherwise he probably would have been the best character here.

The film never actually shows much so it isn’t all that violent or anything, but things definitely get rough for the characters. The prison implies as much violence as it can and the living conditions are certainly abysmal. There is also a parrot that gets arrested by the end and I don’t really like where that plot may have gone even if we didn’t see the conclusion. This just isn’t a good film and it drags on quite a lot. At the end of the day, the only way to fix the prison is to get rid of the head so if George wasn’t forcibly removed then it’s not like Nell would have actually fixed much. Given that he was going to experiment on her and nobody was going to stop him, it just shows how far gone the town is.

Overall, Bedlam definitely isn’t a fun watch. While it has a happy ending, that’s only the final minute or so as the rest of the film can be rather dark. The only happy scenes before the ending are when Nell is talking tough to George, but she never ends up with the last laugh there. George is always one step ahead of her which severely limits how entertaining the scenes can possibly be. Prison films in general don’t tend to be great as even the Naruto film that dealt with this was one of the weaker installments in that series. I suppose at least some of the prisoners like the ex judge were fun characters. If you want to watch a good film about overthrowing a corrupt person in power…then you better start looking as I can’t think of a good one off the top of my head. Still, I’m sure that there are more than a few out there, you just have to know where to look.

Overall 3/10

Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo Review

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The animal based horror films continue as we get to see what the spiders can do this time around. I can confirm that they have the upper hand on the humans as expected. However, the film does rely a lot on your suspense for disbelief once again. Spiders are certainly more intimidating than ants, but still within reason. It’s about what you’d expect which at least means that the film lived up to the premise as best it could. It simply couldn’t rise above and beyond it.

The film starts off with two aspiring entrepreneurs trying to get coffee out of the country. They realized that they could get rich from it, but the problem is that the corrupt government officials want a bribe first. The two guys get the money by smuggling some people out of the country, but what they didn’t count on were a few extra stowaways in the form of spiders. These spiders murder the crew and crash land the plane over by the real main characters. Charles and Cindy were looking forward to having a nice vacation when the crash happens and they quickly go investigate. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that it is related to spiders for quite a long while.

It’s pretty straight forward as the spiders start murdering everybody as they head for the orange farm. See, what makes the situation very tough for the heroes is that the town isn’t very well off. It’s actually quite poor and the only thing that keeps the society okay is the fact that they sell off their oranges at great prices. That’s why the mayor has decided that nobody is going to mess with the crop. He will have the town’s citizens/slaves work on it day and night even though they may get bitten by the spider and then die. The poison in this film is shown to be so lethal that you are dead in under a minute so at least it’s very quick. The Mayor is corporate to the core and does a good job of keeping everyone out of his way. Even when the crash first happens he refuses to use any of his water so the fire chief has to handle it. You can’t say that this guy isn’t consistent. As much as the other characters don’t like him, they still have to admit that he has some points. If the crop spoils then the whole town is doomed just as much as if the spiders got to them. They just can’t be too extreme either so it’s a tough balance.

The film would have largely been avoided if not for one very forced scene near the beginning. So, the plane has crashed and it’s leaking gasoline. The fire chief and his men have the situation under control but then a biker dude shows up and decides to play a game of chicken with the plan. He loses of course and crashes the bike into the gas which blows everything up and gives the spiders a chance to escape. You’re just wondering quite a bit what that guy was thinking and why he would lose control so easily. I guess it’s the only way that the spiders could escape but you have to question how smart this town is. Even Charles and Cindy don’t seem like responsible characters since they were going to go on vacation during work hours so any pilot in the area would have been doomed. Not very professional if you ask me.

The film also got a little darker than I thought it would be with the deaths as a kid actually doesn’t make it through this experience. Based on how long he lived after the bite I expected it to be a false alarm, but the film actually went all the way. The kid was a really bad character but it’s still not a fate you would hope for. He knew that the spiders were poisonous so he shouldn’t have tried to grab one with his bare hands. What was he thinking? That’s just not a very good idea on his part and he ended up paying the price for his mistake.

The climax of the film has a forced moment much like the beginning. So, there’s this minor subplot that comes out of nowhere and has no bearing on the film where a girl is cheating on the main police officer with another guy and then she dies. Well, the rebound guy decides to avenge her by blowing up the orange plant and all of the spiders inside of it. The only problem is that he trips multiple times until he finally lands in the middle of the factory and shuts off the power to the whole place so now everyone is stuck with the spiders. That whole sequence just made no real sense. I can buy into the factory being completely electronic so if the power goes off then you’re toast, but it is still a minor stretch since you would usually expect to have some kind of manual override system in place. I guess Mr. Corporate just didn’t figure he would need one and decided to cut down on costs.

I do think the humans should have more confidence once inside though. They have the high ground and are armed with gloves. They can just start punching and kicking rapidly. The important thing is to move quickly and to avoid having any of them over you. Follow those steps and you should really be quite fine. The very ending of the film will also make you shake your head since the main characters basically ditch everyone. Based on the numerous spiders in the facility, I doubt they made it by 8:00 clock so the place likely fell into bankruptcy. It’s rough, but trying to cheat the health regulations just doesn’t pay off.

The film doesn’t really go for too much shock value or violence which is nice. It’s not quite as plot convenient as Ants either where they had hundreds of chances to escape. It’s still not really a good film though. We get some spider violence like where someone crushes one and a kid keeps poking one. The only real highlight of the film is that the cast of characters is a little better than I expected they would be. At the very least I liked the Fire Chief, Charles, and the Mayor. Some characters were essentially filler and didn’t need to be around like Mr. Rich. The scientist was also fairly reasonable as he at least figured out that they died of poison pretty quickly. Based on how swelled up the first bite we saw was though, I don’t know how nobody else noticed this.

Overall, Tarantulas plays it by the books. The Spiders take over the town with frightening speed and you’re left to wonder how 3 spiders became around 300 so quickly. I guess they breed and insects/small creatures do tend to breed very quickly, but isn’t this stretching it? I suppose that I don’t really know one way or the other. If you like the ideas of animals vs people then this is the film for you. There are a lot of films about the food chain trying to change and all, but I’d say this is probably one of the better examples of it. I’m not really a fan of the genre by nature, but considering that then this one wasn’t too bad. If you want a giant animal though, then you’ve come to the wrong place.

Overall 4/10

Contagion Review

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It’s time to look at a flu horror film. I don’t think I’ve seen too many of those. The last one would be Resident Evil I suppose. I guess Maggie would probably count as well. Of course, this film is going for a more realistic angle than those as we get corporate business trying to keep the cure for themselves and a lot of other conspiracies. Contagion is a bad film, but at least there are parts of it that are enjoyable so that’s still better than some of the competition. To put it one way, it’s a better film than Resident Evil, but the latter is more enjoyable.

So, the film starts off with a bunch of people getting sick everywhere. They decide to infect the healthy people by coughing and sneezing everywhere. They’re successful and quickly the Earth starts to be overrun by the flu. The government doesn’t know what to do about it either so they decide to stay quiet. The problem is that an online blogger has figured out the issue and even the cure to it. People quickly turn into mobs to grab it all so now the world is in peril. Can this outbreak be contained or has it already spiraled out of control? Only time will tell.

There are several plots in the film. Most of them are relatively separate, but they interconnect once in a while. The best plot is probably Mitch’s as he tries to keep his daughter safe from the outbreak. His son and wife were hit by it, but the daughter is safe so he aims to keep it that way. Unfortunately they are living next to the worst character in the film, a guy who likes the daughter. He keeps trying to infect her, but fortunately Mitch has his shotgun. He’s the only sensible character in the household so it looks like he is on his own. The daughter isn’t very smart of grateful either and she keeps trying to meet up with the neighbor, but fortunately Mitch is always ready. I don’t think this plot needed the extra tragic bit of his wife cheating on him though. I guess it’s to make the plot a little less sad in a way since now he knows why she died and how she made a fatal mistake, but it’s not like it really changed anything about the story.

Another big plot is with an online blogger who claims to have found the cure. His name is Alan and he doesn’t particularly trust the government or any of the big pharmaceutical companies. He claims that they’re all working together against the everyday man and he’s not wrong. The problem is that when you make enemies out of powerful entities like this you’re always going to be in a world of hurt. He’s kidnapped and taken to their base where they threaten him quite a bit. He’s probably the best character in the film. You have to love the bravery he has and the guy definitely doesn’t back down so easily. He’s someone that you want in your corner.

The final main plot is with the researchers who are trying to make the world a better place. They work on quarantining the place and stopping the virus. One of them ends up getting sick during the film, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise since she contacts everyone without a mask of gloves on. Considering how she explained that touching anything could make you sick, she really wasn’t smart about how she handled the situation. I can’t say that very many of the characters were all that smart though. One guy calls his wife to tell her to get out of the city, but rather than use his cell, he uses the company phone. Naturally this call is monitored and someone even overhears him. The Cell could have probably been tapped as well, but his odds would have most certainly been a lot better.

What really hurts this film though is the senseless animal violence that occurs at various points of the film. We randomly see meat markets with a lot of animal violence and other moments throughout. These scenes come out of nowhere and don’t contribute anything. It’s just hear for the edgy factor and tears the film down. We also see someone get operated on which is fairly violent. Again, this scene comes out of nowhere. There’s quite a few scenes here that are just for shock value. Cut out these scenes and this would be a relatively tame film. I guess, they just didn’t want to go for that angle though. Bad move if you ask me. it’s an unfortunate truth that animals are always the first test subjects, but the film doesn’t need to go out of its way to remind us of that.

One thing that is in the film’s favor is the soundtrack though. There are actually quite a lot of solid musical themes that play throughout the film. They really stand out and are quite memorable. Other thriller/horror films could certainly learn quite a bit from this one in that regard. Having good music always helps make a scene more engaging/interesting since you at least have something nice to listen too throughout.

Now, the film does throw out a statistic that is sure to make you roll your eyes. The stat is that people touch their face thousands of times a day, 3-5 times a minute. We all know that this is hogwash and the test group used for the study must have caught Chickenpox or something beforehand. If you just think about it logically then it makes sense. When you’re watching a movie you aren’t touching your face like that. Likewise when eating or playing video games. Just take a look around outside and you can debunk this. When you’re trying to add drama to a film with a fake statistic you need to make sure it at least sounds realistic.

Overall, Contagion definitely isn’t my kind of film. I don’t usually even care much for the cliche “main character gets sick” episode in most shows. It’s just not really a great plot and while a worldwide virus is certainly something to try out..it’s just not terribly interesting. The most enjoyable aspects of a film like that one are just seeing the government talk about it around a table. This film had some scenes like that and those were always a blast. Going to ground zero and actually seeing everyone get sick though? Yeah, that’s not really something that’s very exciting. I’d recommend skipping this film and just walking outside to see how everyone is always getting sick. Just be sure to keep a mask on or to walk briskly so that you don’t get sick as well. That certainly wouldn’t be worth it.

Overall 2/10

Before I Wake Review


Before I Wake is a horror film where the title just makes sense. If you just hear the title you can probably guess the general synopsis of the film. The quick response you will always think of though is just “Wake the Kid up” Well, one character tries at any rate. Probably should have tried harder though. It’s a decent film if we go by horror film standards, but it still couldn’t cut the mustard overall. It just mainly lacks a good ending but more on that later.

The film starts off with an edgy opening as a Dad tries to murder his son but isn’t able to do it and the cops arrest him. It turns out that this kid’s dreams become reality as long as he is asleep. When he wakes they all vanish. Unfortunately, the more Cody uses this ability, the more the monster that is inside of him shows up. His monster has already destroyed the last few families he was with so now we are introduced to the latest foster parents, Mark and Jessie. Unfortunately they may not be ready for this kid as they are dealing with their own issues. Can they defeat the monster?

I admit that if I had Cody’s powers I would barely even notice. I rarely dream which is kind of unfortunate but it’s because I found the trick to it. If you start thinking about 2 stocking people and winning Super Smash tournaments, you eventually black out and then it’s the next day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve won EVO. All right, back on topic. I have to say that the kid dreams extremely fast since the visions seem to occur the moment his head hits the pillow. The dreams are awful convenient but as the kid is fairly young I Guess it makes sense that he would dream about his latest thoughts. The kid isn’t a bad character. Cody is pretty cryptic but at least he has good reason to be since people try to destroy him and even monsters are on the hunt. He does have his iffy moments though as he will intentionally ask the parents personal questions about how their son died in order to take attention away from him. It does show that he’s not a very nice kid at times and is mainly looking out for himself.

Mark is definitely a solid character. He does his best to get along with the kid and gives him a lot of fun days. It’s not enough to totally get rid of the sleeping problem but the Dad does his best. He also charges at the monster which is more than I can say for 90% of horror protagonists. He got a decent grab in but since the monster assimilates anyone it touches, this didn’t work out too well.

Jessie was not a good character though and realllly takes a long time to get over her past. The film does give a nice misdirect here we initially you may think the Dad is the one who isn’t coping well. He stopped coming to the grief club to wallow in sorrow and Jessie claims that he has been distant. The film quickly shows us that it is the opposite way around. She just can’t get over her last kid, Sean, and as soon as she learns that this one can make dreams real she exploits the ability to make Cody dream of her son. Even though the son is fake it’s good enough for her but of course this means she is neglecting her current son. She even goes as far as to drug Cody to keep him asleep. While she sees the light by the end, it certainly took a while and I can’t say that I’m a fan of hers.

The ending also isn’t great. Basically, they can’t bring any of the victims back since they were completely eaten but the heroes take solace in the fact that they can all be together in the afterlife or whenever the kid dreams about them. That’s a small consolation at best and it probably would have been better if at least the Dad had survived. The people from child support lived, but I guess it’s because they were assimilated into walls instead of the monster. Also, the film quickly teased a fight between the monster and the mother as they ran towards each other but it ended up being a hug instead. I was really hoping for the fight as she would try to avenge her husband.

The tragic backstory for the main characters was also needlessly tragic. Instead of having their kid drowned and then they couldn’t have more kids, the film could have skipped the former and started with the latter. Maybe even just have the kid get sick or something. Drowning is a bit much for a child. I also have to then question the handle bars that the family added for when they have more kids. They looked to be a little too high up if the kid was the same height so what was the point again? I think the bars would have to be lowered a little more to serve their intended purpose.

I’ll give the main characters some props for figuring out how the kids powers worked very quickly. Usually most of the film is spent just trying to get the supporting characters to re learn what common sense is. Here that wasn’t really a problem. Finally, I should also talk about the monster’s design. It’s pretty good and sort of looks like Slenderman. The monster has a few nifty abilities like assimilation and super strength. He isn’t very fast, but doesn’t trip so he will eventually catch you. Assuming that this monster will help the heroes in a sequel, we’re going to need a new monster.

Overall, Before I Wake definitely has an interesting premise. It also is classier than most horror films but still gets needlessly grim at times. The beginning and ending are weak. While the middle is decent, the repetition of the drowning scene doesn’t help it either. I don’t expect many horror fans will find this all that scary so you’ll have to enjoy it for the plot. I’d sooner recommend a film like Poltergeist 3. That one had everything you could ask for from a horror film.

Overall 4/10

Ants Review

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It’s time to look at another animal based horror film. Fortunately it’s not about birds or dogs as that would give off even more warning bells right out of the gate. As it stands, the film actually manages to avoid any real violence against the ants which is pretty cool. Of course, we do get a montage which doesn’t help the film’s case but one thing at a time.

The film starts off with a wealthy member of corporate heading over to a family hotel to buy it out. The current owner doesn’t like this idea but she is getting very old and won’t be able to stand up to the power for very long. It doesn’t help that her daughter will not continue the legacy either. As the old lady gets ready to relent, the hotel gets overrun by bugs. Ants to be precise! They are biting everyone and plan to eventually take over the building. It is only a matter of time before they finally claim victory. How long can Mike The Construction Worker protect the hotel crew?

One thing you’ll notice right away is that the film relies an incredible amount on your suspense for disbelief. The Ants aren’t exactly subtle as they swarm everyplace they can find, but nobody ever notices them. Clearly they all need glasses as you can usually tell if around 6-10 Ants are cluttered, much less hundreds. Whether it be the kid in the dumpster or the cook in the kitchen, you can’t possibly expect us to believe that they didn’t notice hundreds of ants. That’s just not possible and the film probably knows it. It’s just that there is not really any other way to get the ants into place except by having them walk there. The film should have had them crawl in at night or something like that since the darkness would give a better reason as to why they couldn’t be spotted.

We also can’t forget the plot convenience of the ants deciding not to attack the guy who was trying to shut the place down. They mentioned that the ants won’t hurt you if you don’t move but this guy was lightly aggravating then by moving his hand around and yet they didn’t bite. I suppose they were just smart enough to realize that attacking someone like this just wasn’t worth it? I dunno, it’s a bit of a stretch but if you see this as a very sentient takeover by the Ants, then I guess it helps a bit.

As mentioned earlier, there is a montage where the ants destroy a bunch of other animals which definitely wasn’t a good idea. I don’t want to see them challenging a bunch of innocent animals. Keep their victims human, but don’t throw in the animals. It’s just not right, not right at all. I suppose it’s a good time to talk about the characters. Certainly an intriguing cast, but not a good one I’m afraid.

First off we have one of the supporting construction guys. He was tending to the front yard when a girl shows up and basically asks if he’s free. You can take that two different ways, if he’s not busy right now or if he’ll fool around with anyone. He basically says yes to both and their terrible/out of nowhere romance begins. Not only do these characters not add anything to the film but they aren’t even fun. I don’t see the point of including them here and that was probably a mistake on the film’s part. Another pair of big characters were the corporate takeover guy and the girl he was with. They certainly don’t get along very well as the guy constantly insults her intelligence. She always gets him to half apologize but this happens at least 3 times so talk about de ja vu. His corporate side was fun as he always seemed to have the edge when it came time for the talks. He was good at lying to a person’s face with no remorse. You can certainly tell that corporate taught him well. You know how his character arc is going to end right from the start but at least it’s a fun ride. He’ll stand up to anybody!

The old lady who wanted to keep the house was decent. At least she knew that if she sold the house it would probably be the end of the building. Still, it’s not like you can keep it forever anyway, eventually she would be forced to let it go. While she may have made the climax a little more difficult for the heroes, it wasn’t exactly her fault so she can’t be blamed for that. Her daughter is the main person running the show while the lady rests and she’s not a bad character. Her romance with Mike is pretty bad though. The trope of someone winning an argument by pulling the romance card just isn’t good. Mike had a good reason for barging into the hotel and should have just explained it better. Mike has a big role in the film and could probably be called the lead. He does figure out the true culprit of the attacks before anyone else so I’ll give him some kudos there. Beyond that, he doesn’t really have much character and I can’t say that I liked him. He does ultimately back off from the environmental protection guys and Mike could have handled the situation better.

The climax is another part of the film where you will have to shake your head. Ants have begun to surround the house so the main characters are trapped inside. It’s unfortunate for them, but they knew the risks. The problem is that they should be able to just run out of the house. The only decent case you can make here is that it would be tough for the old lady, but Mike could have carried her. The Ants are numerous but as long as you’re careful you should be okay. One character does run out of the house, but he puts his hand on the rail which is a big no no and then trips. Since the other characters know to respect the Ants, they’d run down the stairs without grabbing anything. It’s not like the Anta can fly and while they could jump off the walls, they didn’t do that in any of the other scenes so why start now? Don’t even get me started on how slowly they were getting into the helicopter. It’s a matter of life and death, you’d think that they would show more initiative. Then sitting still and hoping the Ants wouldn’t bite ends up being the right answer.

These Ants are mad because of the environment so I figure they would throw in some bites anyway. They don’t care about how normal Ants would act, these are Eco-Warriors and they will die fighting. The whole climax revolves around you believing that these are just normal ants again. It’s also a big gamble that the ants don’t bite when they are blasted by the sleeping gas. I certainly wouldn’t have gone along with the plan and I can safely say that I prefer not to have Ants crawling all over me.

Overall, Ants isn’t a very good film. In fact, it’s a bad one. It’s filled with so many leaps in logic that you will be wondering why the film made the decisions it did. If it really wanted to trap he heroes in the house, it should have had more Ants on the ground to show that with every step they would get bitten. Maybe the budget had something to say about it as well though. Seeing Ants crawling around on everyone definitely isn’t all that enjoyable and I think a film about any kind of insect like this would be rather difficult to get behind. Better luck next time I suppose. You’re better off watching THEM.

Overall 3/10

Tentacles Review

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Tentacles is one of those films that sounds like a really old giant monster film. However it is more of a horror film than one about monster attacks and it just lacks that classic Toho feel. I’m still not the biggest fan of underwater films in general but I suppose the effects could have been worse. This is certainly a film that won’t really be remembered but at least the ending went a different route than I had expected.

The film starts off with a Giant Octopus murdering a bunch of people. The film was trying to go for an edgy approach right off the bat so the first victim is a toddler. Another kid ends up dying by the end as well. It’s definitely the film’s attempt at shock value which shows right from the start that it probably isn’t too confident in its abilities. Well, the Octopus keeps murdering people so finally a water expert by the name of Will decides to avenge his wife by destroying it. This will be a tough challenge but he has no choice. Honor dictates his actions now.

Of course, while Will has no choice, he has no plan either. The whole time I was wondering when he was going to load his gun and fire, but he doesn’t actually do anything. This is the worst attempt at avenging someone that I have ever seen. We then see him joking around in the next scene as the film ends even though he didn’t actually do anything. It was definitely annoying to say the least. Of course, the characters here were not very smart from the start so it’s not too surprising.

After several murders have occurred at the ocean and her husband is sent in to investigate them…his wife decides to take a boat to the middle of the ocean. It’s probably the most random moment in the film and of course she is destroyed. I don’t know what her plan was here, but once again I can confirm that it was not a good one. Then the town as a collective whole isn’t great either. Amidst the murders they decide to still go ahead with their water boat competition. Now, it’s hard to say just how much they know but at least the first murder was in the papers and I’m inclined to think that the rest would be as well even if there are no details to be found. The cops apparently had a little part of the Ocean surveyed so it couldn’t get near the boats without a warning but with its speed that barely even matters. Fortunately the film didn’t want to get quite that grim (Although I thought it was getting there for a moment) and most of the kids survived as opposed to all of them being destroyed but it doesn’t reflect well on the town. No way do you hold a contest at a time like this. The police also seemed surprised at remembering that there was a contest, but the contestants got a police escort and there were a bunch of copters in the air so were they just not on the same page?

Well, the film did have a soundtrack so I’ve definitely got to give it some proper kudos there. It has its own interpretation of the Jaws theme but really slams it in your face with how often it is played. I understand that it’s supposed to be scary but if you play it in every scene then it won’t work anymore. There are a few fake jump moments to get you scared as well. You can call this film many things, but subtle is certainly not one of them.

The film would also lose its budget at times as the screen would freeze and nothing would happen. There’s also a long speech given during a rather disjointed set of screenshots and the opening moments of the film are practically filmed in first person. I’m not sure who thought this was a good idea. What I do know is that it was not executed well at all. It’s rare to find camerawork so bad that it has to be mentioned but I just have to do my part to show directors that you never want to go down the Cloverfield route. It’s just not worth it and this film gets dangerously close.

The highlight here is definitely the two Killer Whales. Those characters were definitely emotional and made the tough calls when the main character wouldn’t. They proved that they do in fact have sharp teeth and a good grip and they completely rip the Octopus apart. I was totally expecting the Killer Whales to kick the bucket so the film actually did manage to surprise me in a good way. Who knew that it would have a classy ending like this.

Now if only the writing could have been better. Unfortunately it is quite bad. Any scene with the sister talking to her kids is fairly brutal and this is supposed to be the comedy part of the film! Then you’ve also got subplots that never really go anywhere like the corporate business guy whose subordinate apparently broke the law in order to speed up the business. This is the film’s way of explaining why there is a Giant Octopus but we never learn what the experiments were or why it would create a giant monster. How did the researchers not notice that a giant octopus had suddenly popped up? A lot of plot convenience here for sure.

We did have a confident reporter known as Ned to try and keep everyone honest though. I’d say that he is a good character but still comes off as being less impressive than the usual character archetype. He plays off everyone’s egos in order to get them to work. It’s a sound strategy and works well enough so you can’t fault him there. If he picked up a gun and also went on the mission to stop the Octopus, then that may have helped his case.

Overall, Tentacles was a little better than I thought it would be. It has less shock value than you would expect from this film and the Killer Whales actually defeating the giant monsters was a real treat. Of course, being better than terrible still isn’t something to be too proud of so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I don’t think this movie is good enough to pass the ground floor (5/10) but at least it got this far. If you really want to watch an underwater monster film then this is for you but I would much sooner recommend the Scooby Doo Loch Ness Monster film.

Overall 4/10

The Black Cat (1934) Review

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It’s time for a big team up between the big horror actors of the old days, Karloff and Lugosi. Although in the actual movie they are going up against each other with two travelers being caught in the crossfire. Suffice it to say, we’re in for another old school horror film where the main characters are terrible and the villains spend more time bantering than actually doing anything. We’re definitely at the right film.

So the film starts off with Peter and Joan taking a train for their honeymoon. It’s all going well until a mysterious man shows up and asks if he can share the room. Peter already gives off some red flags since he isn’t intelligent enough to refuse. Once the couple appears to be asleep this man, Vitus, attempts to get a little too comfortable with Joan. Peter wakes up and glares at Vitus but doesn’t do anything reasonable like kicking this guy out of the car or even becoming big time enemies. Instead he decides to forgive and forget. One thing leads to another and the couple follows Vitus to the mansion of Hjalmar. The old man is a big time enemy of Vitus since he stole the guy’s daughter and murdered his wife. Vitus has come here to get revenge while Hjalmar wants to take Joan since she is the reincarnation of the late wife and he aims to use her vessel as a way to bring her back. It’s all pretty twisted and clearly we are watching two villains go at it. It’s hard to pick any one of them to root for.

This film is fairly dark and not in a natural atmospheric way, but in an artificial gritty sense. Characters are tortured both on screen and off screen. Vitus’ family certainly gets the short end of the stick since they are all murdered by Hjalmar. The ending is even someone getting skinned alive. You can tell that while this is an older film, it’s not one of the classier ones. It’s going for the shock value scenes and it takes away from everything else.

Alas, it wouldn’t be a terrible horror film without an animal showing up in some capacity right? Well, Vitus is afraid of cats so the other villain always uses this against him. Vitus will destroy the cat but it just comes back for more since it has 9 lives. As a result, not only is the scene terrible but it’s pointless. The cat phobia never actually does much and at the end of the day it’s just a random excuse for the film to bump off a cat. Pretty disgraceful if you ask me.

I suppose the writing is decent although you will have to stretch your disbelief to its absolute limit. The whole point of Vitus coming over is to murder Hjalmar and he has dozens of opportunities to do so. In fact, his subordinate is an inside agent working for Hjalmar. He is Hjalmar’s only minion so the two of them can beat the old guy easily. Instead Vitus is constantly content to simply watch things play out and just go with the flow. There’s no narrative reason for Vitus to totally disregard his actual mission for 90% of the film.

As for Hjalmar, he is just as bad. He already murdered the first two people he was with so now he wants Joan even though it’ll probably just be to murder her at some point. Considering that he never poisoned them or anything the same question about waiting rears its head. Why not just destroy them right away or in the dead of night? It’s his house and the main characters are gullible enough to actually go to sleep at night. They’d be easy pickings.

We also can’t forget to talk about Paul and how terrible he is. He gets knocked out several times and never puts much of an effort. The only time he is finally able to air up the nerve to do something he manages to shoot the guy who was trying to help Joan. Clearly he isn’t good at reading body language but I can’t honestly say that I was too broken up about the whole thing since Vitus is basically still a villain in my book. Paul just comes off as really incompetent. Even after seeing how shady everyone is he decides to leave Joan by herself while he sleeps in a room way down the hall. He was just accepting this until Vitus came over to switch rooms. What this means is Vitus would have been in the room next to Joan and since the connector isn’t locked he could have gone to her room whenever he liked. Did I mention that Paul was terrible yet? You get the idea of why this guy was so bad. He doesn’t even understand a threat when it’s being blatantly said right in front of him.

Unfortunately Joan is no better. Not only is she fainting too much, but she gets possessed rather easily. I can’t blame her for falling off the rails after this since Paul lets the villains inject her with something while she asleep. Joan just never seems like a real character during this adventure. She ends up being in a state of shock throughout the movie instead and lets everyone else make decisions for her.

While the premise of someone going to get revenge may sound good on paper it’s clear that the execution is just off from start to finish. Subtle banter between the villains is a decent concept even if they are really trying to destroy each other. At the same time, it just gets unrealistic if it goes on for too long. We could have also been given a motivation for why these two are to be locked in combat without going full tragedy. Considering that Vitus basically knows for a fact that the other guy is guilty you’d think he would make a move of some sort before he is put in a bad position. You just end up questioning the characters quite a bit here. The highlight would be the Chess game. I definitely wasn’t expecting such high stakes for a mere board game, but if that had to be the case then Chess is naturally the perfect pick.

Overall, This definitely isn’t a good film and the other Black Cat films I’ve seen seem to have had more quality. The actual Black Cat in this film certainly doesn’t get the respect he deserves. What really buries this film in the long run is the fact that it is too dark at times and there is nobody to root for. The main characters certainly aren’t very smart and make all of the wrong choices while even the villains don’t seem to think things through. The polite banter that I like from these films only hurts it in this case since these characters should be doing something as opposed to doing nothing.

Overall 1/10

Maggie Review

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It’s time for a zombie film that manages to make an already weak genre even weaker. This one takes everything you don’t like about zombie films and doesn’t even bring in any of the positives. At the very least, Resident Evil had some nice action scenes once in a while and a good soundtrack to boot. It was an interesting film even if it was a bad one and kept your attention from start to finish. Maggie never gets interesting and is so focused on being emotional that it forgets to actually do anything. There’s no subtlety to this film and while it’s hitting you over the head with how sad the film is, you’re waiting for the zombie apocalypse to start.

So the film is about a man named Wade and his daughter Maggie. She has been bitten by a zombie and is doomed to become one of them. The process is randomized so nobody knows when she will turn, but Wade is encouraged to destroy her or take her to a facility where she will be canabalized. See what I mean about the lack of subtlety? The film could at least give him a decent option as opposed to dark and gritty for everything. So what will Wade choose?

This film is just a cluster of nonsense from start to finish with forced drama at every turn. Let’s look at the obvious here. Once you are a zombie you are taken to a place to get eaten alive by zombies. Why? What purpose does such a place realistically serve? I get that this is a dystopia but why not just a quick death if they’re going to bump these guys anyway? Are there no more poison pills in the future? Why bother with a tonic that will torture you for hours before you finally die when you can swallow a little poison. If that doesn’t work then I’d like the film to address this.

The film also adds in animal violence for no real reason. It just comes out of nowhere and tries to be as violent as can be. The film was already garbage before this scene but it certainly didn’t help matters. I don’t use the term lightly but for a 0 Star film like this one it’s only fitting. It’s basically the tv version of The Walking Dead and the atmosphere and writing are like Attack on Titan, only worse somehow. While the movie is beating you over the head with a stick as it tells you to feel bad for the characters, it also keeps reminding you that they’re not even thinking about the consequences. For example, Wade doesn’t have any safe guards for when Maggie turns. He says he does, but he clearly doesn’t since he leaves her unsupervised for ages. I’m cool with him wanting to save Maggie because yes that is the right call. Still, you need to at least build some kind of large cage around the premise or something to make sure she can’t escape and destroy everyone. Instead he makes everyone feel uncomfortable about the situation. Although in a world where all of the kids hang out without suits and keep on infecting each other, it’s certainly a matter of time before humanity is wiped out.

Wade is a reasonable character since he at least didn’t destroy Maggie. That would have been another big facepalm moment had that happened. He stayed strong and confronted everyone who tried to put her down. You do question why he would still risk leaving home for hours at a time to work in the tractor since he could walk home to an empty house but I guess he figured Maggie could stay strong and fight the virus. He was wrong.

Maggie does last for a while, but from the start you know that she is doomed. This is just that kind of movie, one where there is no hope from the start and a sad ending is guaranteed. It could have been even more grim I admit so I’ll give the film some kudos there. Not much though since it’s not like the film could have gotten a worse score at this point right? She gets a really random subplot with some annoying teenagers which was fairly forced and didn’t add to anything. We learn more about how evil society is and how the kids have no options so I guess the film just wanted to remind us of how grim the world is. We are reminded so often that it makes you wonder what the purpose of the film is again. Is it an emotional story about letting go or a director’s true vision on how the world is?

Ultimately the teenagers are only introduced so we can see one of them dragged off in tears to the boot camp where he will suffer a lot before dying. The edge levels are still high so I’m sure the film makers were particularly pleased with this moment. I can imagine them singing the Infinite song from Sonic Forces while making this film as it would fit the tone pretty well. Although I’ll take the song over this movie any day.

Aside from all this negativity let’s look at the world in general. The cops and authorities certainly aren’t doing a very good job of preventing the outbreaks. They don’t know what’s causing them and can’t cure it. They don’t even have a way of knowing where these zombies are so now we live in a world where they can be around any corner. Based on how everyone acts in this film they should all be turned already since it is supposedly contagious. The world seems semi ruined already in some parts while quite civilized in others so maybe the virus is just spreading really slowly? At any rate my money’s on the zombies to win in the long run.

Overall, This is definitely a very dark and gritty film. It’s quite mean spirited and does all it can to show you there is no way out of the situation. There is no big climax or moment where the heroes think they have a chance. It’s a film that starts at the bottom and is content to stay there for the duration. The colors are very dreary and dark so there isn’t anything good to even look at. I like to think this film was simply made in a dare to see if anyone would actually watch this movie. The only thing it did right was to further convince me that zombie films are going to almost always simply be a waste of time.

Overall 0/10