Son of Dracula Review

Given that I’m in the middle of a vampire arc in Detective Conan, it seemed like a good time to review a Dracula film. It’s definitely pretty odd to see Lon Chaney playing the role, but this way he continues to play all of the Universal monsters at some point so I can roll with that. Unfortunately, not even his acting can save the film as it still ends up being your standard Dracula film through and through. It’s just hard to make a good Dracula film whether it be in this day and age of even in the past.

So, the plot starts with a mysterious man moving into town. The main farmer dies very mysteriously during this time frame. That’s when Dracula shows up and suddenly Katherine marries him despite being seriously engaged to Frank. Frank suspects something is up and grabs his gun, but this Dracula fellow appears to be bullet proof and intangible so the bullet goes through and destroys Katherine. Frank is quickly arrested, but it appears that Katherine is still alive. She is now going to be doing experiments with Dracula at night and says she won’t be available during the daytime anymore. Something’s fishy here, but Frank’s in jail so he can’t do much about it. It’s going to be up to Lazlo and Brewster to see what’s happened. Can they really deal with two vampires though?

The film does have a unique twist that I can get behind. Usually the main heroine falls head over heels for Dracula due to mind control and just generally looks terrible the whole time. The twist this time is that Katherine actually went with him willingly as part of her own plan. She plans to murder him once she is undead as well but to do that she will need Frank’s help. She’ll bust him out of jail so he can go to Dracula’s coffin during the daytime and destroy him. Technically it’s a full proof plan, but he makes one big mistake…he goes outside while it’s still night time. Heh…..heh…..hahhahahahahahahahaha!! Of all the mistakes to make…..why is Frank so terrible? I mean, we finally have a good plan and then he messes it up. He even destroys Katherine afterwards because he doesn’t want to be a vampire. I wish I could say he made the right call, but I really can’t. He comes across as a very ungrateful guy who’s of no use throughout the entire film. While Katherine’s plan was extremely dangerous, risky, and probably not good at all, she did pull it off. Frank got the easy job and he still messed it up. That’s got to be a downer.

Dracula doesn’t look very good here. I mean that’s to be expected considering how many weaknesses he has, but it’s still sad for his fans. It’s gotten to the point where just being in the same room as a cross is enough to get him sweating and the doctors always handle him without too much trouble. Dracula is at his best when he’s just uttering threats as opposed to trying to follow up on them. At any rate, at least Dracula is fun to listen to. Seriously, Chaney has one of the best voices in cinema with ease. Most other actors can’t even get close to his level. Dracula is just not a good character though.

I felt like the rest of the cast were pretty slow on the uptake here. Katherine’s sister made a few half hearted attempts to see what was happening, but didn’t play her cards right. She basically told Frank that the cops were onto him and took forever to get out of harm’s way. Brewster noticed right away that Alucard is just another way of saying Dracula, but just brushed it off and didn’t remember until we were deep into the film. He could have saved lives if he had acted with a little more urgency. Lazlo was experienced at least so that was nice to see. He may have been the best character here even if that isn’t saying a lot. At least he was making a real effort to do his best.

The Sheriff meant well. When he investigated the place and found the dead body, it was certainly reasonable for him to suspect Brewster as an accomplice. It’s also hard to take their word for it that a vampire is on the prowl since that doesn’t seem all that reasonable. At least he was better than the other cop who couldn’t guard a man if his life depended on it and got scared of everything. If you’re going to be a cop, I feel like there’s at least a minimum level of bravery that you should have and it should be enough for you to not be scared of vampires.

Overall, Son of Dracula is more of less what you’d expect from the series. There’s not a whole lot to say about the film that I haven’t already. At least there was no animal violence this time. That’s certainly a nice start. The supporting cast was also quite reasonable for a change even if it could still be annoying how they wouldn’t realize anything until it was too late. The cops were a nice addition. I wouldn’t recommend this film and you should probably stay far away. Just remember for the next time that while Dracula can be scary, it can always be worse. You could be dealing with the Wolf Man who has less obvious weaknesses. With Dracula you can hold up to sticks and cross them and that’s enough to deter him. The ending to the film was pretty weak and here’s how it should have happened. Frank becomes a vampire along with Katherine and then they play it off like she was in the woods or something and that’s why her body vanished. She explains that they were just imagining they saw her dead body and this way everyone lives happily ever after. Sure, Frank didn’t get a choice on if he wanted to be a vampire or not, but it can’t always be perfect for the guy.

Overall 4/10

Weird Woman Review

It’s time for a fun retro film with Lon Chaney. I have to admit that he is to the 40’s-50’s what Tom Cruise is to the 2000s. He’s easily the best retro actors and his films have definitely been pretty fun. This one is no exception and while everything about the film from the posters to the premise is misleading, it makes for a nice ride. The film is only about an hour so it has to make haste, but it develops soundly. There is time for some nice monologues and nothing ever feels too rushed.

Norman is a respected professor who’s been doing rather well for himself. He visits a tribe in order to gather some intel for his book about Facts vs Myths and Superstition. There he meets a girl named Paula who knows English because her father was a professor. Norman is a little too eager to finally meet someone who can understand him and goes past the sacred line of no return. Paula saves him along with her guardian with the voodoo practices. The two heroes head home and are immediately married, much to the scorn of Ilona. She had previously been with Norman and wasn’t really given a heads up on this. Norman lets her know that they never loved each other though so that makes it okay. She decides to get revenge by getting everyone to dislike Norman so they can all murder each other, but this may not be as easy as it sounds. Paula has a lot of protective magics from her tribe to block all such attempts, but Norman destroys them so that she can put the superstitions away. Has he just doomed them all?

It’s a pretty fun film from start to finish. Norman does a lot of inner monologue about what is happening. While he may over analyze everything and ultimately confuse himself, it’s fun to see the step by step logic to what he is doing. Eventually, he begins to think so much that he starts to lose confidence in facts and believes in myths a little more. This begins to be his undoing, but Norman won’t lose so easily. He’s a solid main character and he even takes care of the gun wielding student who ambushes him at the gym. His one character flaw is from the intro of the film and it’ll depend on how you interpret it. Based on how Ilona was talking to him, it sounded like they were still together when he returned before letting them all know that he was actually married. If so, then that does make Norman pretty inconsiderate, but there is the chance that they had already broken up and Ilona was just making life hard on him. It’s hard to say one way or the other since Ilona is pretty desperate and crazy by the end.

Paula is a nice enough person. She never actively curses people and just puts in clauses. If someone tries to hurt Norman, then the person will die, but she sets it up in a way where the mystical trap won’t activate unless someone does act with malicious intent. That’s awfully considerate of her right? Lying to Norman about this was a little iffy though. She does begin to crack once she loses her protective armaments though. I would have liked for her to have been a little more confident and aggressive. Perhaps that will be the case if the film ever got a remake or a reboot.

Ilona is the main villain and at the very least, you have to admit that she planned things out rather well. She blackmails one of the professors, encourages a young student to work for Norman so her boyfriend would get jealous, eggs on that very student, spreads a lot of rumors about Norman, and finally terrorizes Paula by playing a death chant over the phone. Ilona really covers all of the bases and because she very subtlety eggs everyone on, nobody ever thinks to blame her. Only one of the Deans seems to know that something is going on, but she can’t even begin to suspect the complete depth of the plan. It’s simply too ingenious and radical for someone to guess at a moment’s notice. Ilona’s motives may have been rather petty, but she was a nice villain.

The supporting characters were a little less charismatic. The female student (Who seems just like Simmons from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the point where I think the latter got inspiration) is pretty over dramatic and too extreme about trying to get Norman to betray his wife. Her boyfriend was just as drastic as he quickly grabs his gun (Doesn’t everyone have one?) and immediately goes to destroy Norman. This doesn’t go too well though since Norman is surprisingly tough. You rarely get to see him fight so that was certainly pretty fun. There’s also the wife of the professor who was being black mailed and she certainly gets pretty heated about the whole thing. Her rage is probably the most justified even if it is reaching a little to blame Norman for what happened. Even with the false intel that was being supplied to her, you can’t really blame someone else when the guy just decided to take the easy way out. You can’t just give up on life and leave everyone else to pick up the pieces.

The misleading part is really about how the Weird Woman was portrayed as some very powerful mystical person with malicious intent. Sure, Paula may have had some special powers, but she was never mysterious in the slightest apart from the very beginning of the film. The film actually had a large chunk of time where Paula didn’t even appear. There’s not a lot of suspense and danger like you would assume from the poster although there is a decent level of tension. While there aren’t many supernatural elements here, the stakes are still real since the body count starts to rise. I’ll take this over a classic horror film any day.

The final plan that the heroes put into place is thought out reasonably well although it does ride on the assumption that someone would take the threat seriously. I think most villains wouldn’t take a threat too seriously after they’ve been the ones dishing it out and Ilona just seemed to be too confident to actually buy into any of this. At least she didn’t escape though and attempted to make a break for it in the end. I won’t say how it goes, but you do have to admire her can do attitude and refusal to give up.

Overall, Weird Woman was a fun film. As someone noted, the tribal dance and chant even seemed to be inspired from the Mothra films. The main characters are all either likable or make for good villains. The cast can easily hold this film up and keep it interesting. The writing is very solid and there’s really no big negatives to speak of. The short length helps to keep it from getting a really high score like an 8, but considering this isn’t an action film, a 7 is certainly solid. It’s just a fun way to pass the time by and ultimately you just want a film to be fun. It’s hard to say if this one beats Calling Doctor Death since they are really close, but I might give this one the slight edge. It also certainly beats the Frozen Ghost even if there wasn’t a Dog here. That film was a lot more emotional. This one never tried to be too sad and it’s just popcorn fun. It also reminds you to choose your friends carefully as just about everyone in this film is (not so) secretly a gossip so word travels fast. Norman’s good reputation did help him out quite a lot in the end though as it bought him some time to get to the truth. I definitely recommend it so you can see how well written films like this one are just a lot of fun. I wish we still got films like this, but unfortunately, they are all but extinct from Hollywood now.

Overall 7/10

The Frozen Ghost Review

It’s time to look at a retro Lon Chaney film. I’ve seen quite a few of his films and still have a bunch of others to see someday. This one is a classic tale of hypnosis and whether it is real or not. There are certainly quite a few antagonists in this film and their plans are so risky that they can even prove fatal. It’s a pretty interesting film, even if it can get a tad convoluted at times.

Alex is a skilled master of mental abilities and has been working in this trade for a long time. One day a drunk individual shows up declaring that Alex is a fraud. Alex decides to prove him wrong by hypnotizing the guy, but then he also ends up wishing that the drunk would die. The drunk does abruptly die and Alex is thrown into a state of shock. It can’t be proven that he did it of course and everyone tells him that it was a coincidence, but Alex doesn’t think so. He moves into a wax museum to try and get past this and even breaks up with his fiancee Maura. Unfortunately, he has just entered the Lion’s Den as George, Rudi, and Valerie all want him dead. Nina is the only person in the Wax Museum who doesn’t have any ill will towards him, but it’s rather easy to be fooled when everyone around you is giving you false intel. How will Alex get out of this situation without using his mental abilities to fatally end this?

Alex is a good character as always although he can maybe be a little too low in confidence. He immediately blames himself quite a bit and goes into mourning so fiercely that he just tries to make life as tough for himself as possible. It’s not really necessary and pushing Maura away was also a little too extreme. Dishing out his own punishments was definitely not a great call on his part. Alex did have a good plan at the end though and at least he didn’t totally lose himself in what was happening. Maura was a good heroine and she never stopped trying to help Alex. She was able to persevere and was definitely a trust worthy ally that Alex could depend on. He was lucky to have her around.

Nina was rather naive and didn’t handle any situation too well, but it can’t all be blamed on her. As I mentioned earlier, it’s hard to really get what is happening when there is nobody around to give you even a semi-accurate account of what has transpired. She wasn’t a villain at least so that was someone else that Alex could trust or at least not fear. George and the other villains were rather petty and did all they could to smear Alex’s name and erase whatever confidence he had left. They were decent in their roles, but not nearly as interesting as Ilona from another film that I have a review coming out for soon and other such antagonists.

I did like Inspector Brant and while he kept on doubting Alex and not believing in mind powers, I can’t really blame him for that. At least he was doing his job well and quickly hustled to take down the villains. He even swallowed his pride and asked Alex for help at the end with a particularly difficult case. In a rare moment of selfishness, Alex declined as he claimed that he didn’t have any powers just to mess with Brant. I thought that was a little mean of Alex and his decision could have some real consequences. He could have saved a person or even many depending on what kind of crime he may have been able to stop. The fact of the matter is that he let his personal grudge with Brant interfere with his job to help society. Even if it wasn’t a grudge and Alex just wanted to have some fun, it was certainly at the wrong time and I can only hope that Brant was able to solve the case by himself.

You can draw a lot of similarities between this film and Calling Doctor Death. There was a lot of betrayal and hypnosis going around between the main cast. The climaxes may have been a little different, but overall it felt like two alternate routes to what was essentially the same main plot. This film had less monologue from Alex though. Both films were solid, but I might have to give the ever so slight edge to Calling Doctor Death. Regardless, both are rather short films and you can even see them back to back since they’re both pretty fun and fast paced.

You may just lose track of some of the characters after a while. It’s not so much that the cast is big, but everyone has quite a few motives and since Alex is oblivious to everything around him, it’s sometimes hard to tell exactly what is happening. I still say that the villain’s plans also were a little iffy and they definitely wouldn’t work too well against a different main character. There were a lot of gambles here, but most of them paid off I suppose. Without Maura, the villains probably would have had the last laugh here.

Overall, this is definitely another fun film to add to your collection. It doesn’t take itself too seriously aside from Alex since Chaney always takes himself very seriously and always makes sure to be an upstanding guy. Seriously, it feels like people try to tempt Alex to the dark side in every film or give him chances for revenge, but Alex never cracks. He always stays as an upstanding hero and makes all of the right calls. The plot is pretty good and will keep you guessing the whole way. One villain’s fate is rather sad since the plan backfired a little, but that’s why you shouldn’t lock yourself away in a freezer. I forget if that was purely part of the plan or not, but even if it was an improvisation, it’s a sad way to go out. You’ll probably sympathize with Alex as the film goes on and his strong conscience just makes it all the worse for him. I definitely recommend checking this film out and then you can make your own guesses as to whether or not his powers were actually real. For the record, I’d definitely say that they are based on the very first circumstance. I don’t buy into coincidences and it just makes sense. It’d be cool to see how this version of Chaney would stack up against the Werewolf. I may have to actually give this one the edge although the Man-Made Monster, electric version of himself is probably the most lethal. It’s cool to see how many different monsters he’s become over the years.

Overall 7/10

Man Made Monster Review

It’s time for another old film. The Man Made Monster is interesting because it takes your usual creature feature transformation film and throws in a little electricity to make it unique. It works well enough to be sure, but at the same time, the main character is extremely unrealistic. He even brings the film down to an extent because of how annoying he is. It’s a decent film I suppose, but it makes its share of errors along the way.

Dan the man was an ordinary guy until one day he he survived an intense electrical crash. Paul realizes that this could be the breakthrough that he had been waiting for so he could create his army of thunder zombies. He convinces Dan to come for the experiments and he would be providing a home in the meantime. Dan agrees because the older scientist is a fairly nice guy and technically, it’s his house. Unfortunately, the doctor isn’t very smart so Paul is able to zap Dan with increasing doses until Dan starts to slow down. He then becomes a thunder monster and can no longer reason….a perfect zombie slave for Paul. Can the cops stop this? Can Dan fight for himself? These are the questions that you will be asking.

Lets talk about why Dan is so annoying. You can’t blame him for taking advantage of the free lodging for taking part in the experiments. It sounds like a good plan and it’s not as if they will zap him with a lot of electricity. However, once Dan noticed that he was starting to get weaker he definitely should have said something. Instead, he kept on going for the treatments and getting slower and slower. By the end, he had gotten addicted to the electricity so he needed the shocks even though they were hurting him. He couldn’t really move and had to be helped there. It cost him his life since he would now be a slave. Once he got his thunder powers, he was then forced to go on a murder spree. Even once he regained parts of his mind, he couldn’t convince people not to grab him. A guy would tap him on the shoulder and die instantly since Dan was now made of electricity.

You feel bad for Dan of course, but he really created this situation himself to a large extent. He really should have tried a lot harder to explain what was happening or just leave in the middle of the night. He never stood up for himself and that’s why the character was annoying. At least he still has the same catchy voice though. The characters that the actor plays all talk and act in roughly the same way. It just turns out that his personality worked against him this time.

The actual plan that Paul had was also rather suspect. Does he really think that he’ll be getting a zombie army any time soon? He’d have to kidnap a whole bunch of people and he never really learned what made Dan immune to thunder in the first place. I don’t think the plan would have panned out at all, but I suppose I’ll give him an A for effort. He’s just not a likable villain though and if the characters weren’t so gullible, they could have stopped him already. It’s why you should never trust your lab assistant or go away on long vacations when you have a guest. It just doesn’t pan out well.

I have to give the film some credit for not doing anything to hurt the dog. I was worried that he would get zapped or something, but luckily that did not happen. He just started to avoid Dan once he sensed the thunder and that’s definitely the wise thing to do. It’s a little sad for the dog since he lost his play mate, but he’ll be able to find someone else to play with him eventually.

As for the other characters, I can’t say that June was very good. She was the main heroine who endured flirting for a while before relenting and deciding to go with a reporter. She suspects that Dan is in trouble for most of the film, but she ever acts on it. She even lets the Doctor know and he just claims that Dan must be tired. By the time she decides to make a move, it is already too late. Again, it’s rather sad for Dan. All of the obvious signs were present, but nobody connected the dots. The reporter was all right I suppose, but he did start flirting awful quickly. He needs to focus on getting all of the facts first.

When it comes to the climax, Man Made Monster does a good job. The villagers don’t look too smart though as one of them tries to hit Dan. Lets just say that it is a shocking experience for him. Get it? Shocking? Hahahaha…..ha. Dan also lasts quite a while considering that he supposedly only had a very limited amount of time left in him. It’s a rather sad fate as well since he knows that once the electricity runs out, he will die. Not that he had much of a mind left anyway. It was interesting seeing him survive the electric chair as well. It certainly wouldn’t have any effect on a guy who is immune to electricity. If it did, then that would have been pretty underwhelming. It’s also good that he survived since seeing an innocent man die in the chair would have been pretty grim.

Overall, Man Made Monster is a decent film. There are a lot of times where you will need to stretch your disbelief though. Everyone should have noticed what was happening to Dan. Dan should have taken steps to end things on his own as well. Those parts make the film annoying. On the other side of the spectrum, the writing is fairly solid. The characters are reasonable and the thunder form is pretty neat. While the film is never insanely captivating, it never gets very boring either. It’s just an entertaining film that you’ll watch. You won’t be looking at your watch or anything like that so that’s a success. If you haven’t watched a lot of old monster films, then this one is a good place as any to start. It hits enough of the right notes by the end.

Overall 6/10