The Alphabet Murders Review


Time for a very different kind of Poirot film. Throw away everything you knew about the character beforehand as this one goes as far as to act like a parody the whole time. The movie even starts off with the lead breaking the third wall which is certainly something else. While I do like the film and will go into it in a second, I will say that the breaking the third wall gag felt flat as it often does. In very rare circumstances will I say that such a scene is good. It really just serves to take you out of the story in the same way as seeing the main character in the present talking about how he barely survived the events that we’re about to see. Fortunately the film didn’t go that far here.

So the movie starts with a poor clown getting murdered. He seemed to be shot by a mysterious woman. Then another victim takes their final dive and so Poirot will have to be the man to put a stop to this. Surely the world’s greatest detective can stop this criminal right? The only clue that the heroes have is that this villainous seems to be murdering people according to the alphabet. The first victim’s first and last names began with A, the second B, etc. Well, Poirot won’t have to search as hard as all that since the villainess confronts him straight up. She talks about how she doesn’t want to murder but that she must and other vague things as she beats the stuffing out of him and runs off

Prepare to see Poirot get beaten quite a bit in this film. He’s really not prepared for the kind of opponents that he is dealing with as this version is fairly weak and also not very intelligent. He has to rely on luck and physical ability in order to complete this case and I wouldn’t say that he is the toughest guy on the block either. Mix all of these things together and it doesn’t bode very well for him. The opening scene where he is getting choked by Amanda is also pretty odd. Perhaps intentionally and perhaps not but for me it didn’t even seem like she was seriously trying to murder him.

Or at least it was very half hearted with how they were tussling around. Poirot was calling for help the whole time but everyone would either misunderstand him or promptly get knocked out. It was crazy but I would say this was the best scene in the film partially because of how insane it all was. It can also be spooky, imagine calling out for help the whole time but nobody steps in because they think you’re all right? Now that will keep you up at night if you almost got choked to death. Poirot believes it was the lady’s way of asking for his help after it’s all over.

While Poirot is beaten and outsmarted throughout the film, he is a fun character. He does have some decent plans like pretending to choke himself to get Hastings to lower his guard. Poirot spends half the film trying to defeat the other good guys as opposed to going after the villains which is also meta in a sense. Fortunately for the heroes the villains don’t go around murdering too many people because they would have been in no position to stop these guys.

The hero is arrested and captured more than once. He’s not very good at being self aware like when he was chasing the girl. You’re actually rooting for the civilians to stop him since without context the whole thing that appear to be really crazy. It shows that these people aren’t just going to stand for this. The other main hero in the film is Hastings and he’s basically this film’s version of Watson. Hastings isn’t very smart and often gets outsmarted by Poirot but he means well.

What the man lacks in skill and bravery he makes up for in loyalty. You can always count on him to have your back and that’s a powerful thing. He even attempts to provide assistance during some of the more dangerous moments even if it doesn’t end up working out most of the time. I gained some respect for him when Poirot wasn’t able to outsmart him for once near the end of the film. It was almost like character development of sorts.

As for Amanda, well she’s a decent villain I guess. I think the whole plan was way more convoluted than it needs to be but granted, that could be due to the adaption. After all, in most cases it would be tough to murder Poirot or outsmart him so you can see villains coming up with all kinds of crazy plans to throw him off the scent. In this one though, well it would be extremely easy to bump him off. Poirot was being overpowered in the steam room after all and he was also chasing Amanda in the darkness with ease. Just set a trap for him at any time and I’m sure he would fall right into it. That’s absolutely the game plan the villains should have had without having to go with this whole ABC angle.

Amanda did a good job of completely tricking Poirot though so I have to give her some props there. All in all, the writing is good. It’s definitely not meant to be taken seriously in the slightest but you’ll get a good amount of witty dialogue. Some of the visual humor is nice too like when each character is snapping their finger at the other to grab a hat and other things. They had good coordination there and it made for a peaceful scene.

Ms. Marple also gets a little cameo here which was neat. It’s always good to establish a crossover continuity here and it also is a good way to show where Poirot ranks in comparison with Marple. In her one scene she was able to easily crack the case but presumably the cops didn’t believe her. Meanwhile Poirot “solves” the case by the very end and it took everything he had.

Overall, The Alphabet Murders is pretty good. It’s a shame that we didn’t get some kind of sequel. Who knows, maybe it’s better as a one off, but there’s a whole lot you can do with this concept. The bumbling detective and his witless sidekick is not something that’s done very often at all. I’d also have liked a full crossover with Ms. Marple. From what we saw of her, she would likely have the advantage in a fight but with both characters having such a strong ego, I’m sure this would be a lot of fun. This film goes by pretty fast and ultimately how much you enjoy it will be directly related to how funny you find the characters to be. Does the dialogue feel naturally comedic or does it all feel forced? This is the question that will determine it all.

Overall 7/10

Murder Most Foul Review


Marple returns for another adventure in my little marathon but this time she really has a time limit since an innocent man will die if she doesn’t solve the case in time. Unless of course she is mistaken and the cops did grab the right fella in this case. Only time will tell but Marple is also going to have to become an actress for a little while if she is to succeed.

The movie starts out with someone getting attacked and murdered but unfortunately the police officer who was passing by did not notice. A trial is held with the primary suspect who was found near the lady who was murdered. Everyone including the police think it is an open and shut case but fortunately Miss Marple was there as one of the jurors and prevented the case from being concluded. She believes that he has been framed and intends to prove it but the Inspector shows up and reminds her not to interfere with police business. She is going to have to be on her own this time along with some help from Springer.

The first thing she will have to do is join a local acting circuit and while she is initially turned down for being too old, her money has a clear voice and alters the outcome. She must figure out which member of the troupe committed this foul deed and bring him or her to justice. It’ll be difficult though because all of these guys are rather young and fairly quick on their feet. Underestimating them would not be a good idea. Can she crack the case?

Marple is about as solid as always here. She makes sure to have the upper hand against the villains at all times and even reminds us that she has her gun skills at the ready. She isn’t afraid of anyone and takes all kinds of risks in order to get close to the case. Her confidence never wavers and you could go on and on about what a quality character she is. The overall point is that since she can fight as well, that elevates her character since she now has ways to defend herself.

As for the Inspector, well by now he’s starting to play a really central role in these films. He’s also starting to take the whole battle with Marple a lot more personally or at least that’s how I see it. At first he may not have believed her but he didn’t seem upset about it. Now he throws fits and even tries to arrest her. He’s really not happy to see her at all and you’d think he would be since she is always solving cases and putting murderers beyond bars. The Inspector starts to appear very unreasonable but he’s still fun as an antagonist.

He may mean well but since the guy is constantly trying to get in her way it’s hard to call him a protagonist at all. It’s a shame since he does want to be a defender of justice. Springer is helpful here as well as he always gets orders from Marple to head to various places and gather intel. In some ways his missions are very dangerous as well since he’s really going places to find out information that the villains don’t want to get out.

As for the actors/actresses, some of them do seem a bit unhinged so you can definitely see how things would get a bit crazy. One of them tries to strangle another only to say that it was all a joke at the end. Then you have a girl who hears voices and talks about spirits as she loses her mind every night. She comes close to even stabbing Marple which is crazy and shows that there may not be just 1 villain around. The director of the troupe is desperate for money so he at least makes a show of trying to be helpful but you don’t buy it. He’s more obsessed with having a good show than with actually aiding the police which is not a good look for him.

All of the usual musical tracks are here along with the quality writing you would expect from the series. The case is interesting and the characters are good which is all that you need. The suspects may not be the most likable bunch but as they are suspects, this works well enough for me. That said, I would consider this to be the weakest film in the series.

For starters, having the court case be almost completely off screen was disappointing. There’s a lot you could do with Miss Marple in a court setting. It would be an interesting dynamic to have had her solve the case while in the room with the jurors. Maybe it would have been difficult to turn that into a whole movie but I think the idea has potential.

Then you have Marple’s tryout scene which I thought was rather dragged out and not too interesting. It’s easy to see why she was initially denied entry since she just wouldn’t work very well in the play. None of the actual acting scenes were particularly exciting though as you just want to get in on the action. Near the end you have the main plot going on at the same time which works better since there is a point to it. The Inspector’s right hand man looks pretty bad in the process though since he really left his post completely. When you’ve got one task and there are life and death stakes you definitely need to take everything rather seriously if you ask me.

Overall, Murder Most Foul is still another quality title overall. I would have played things out a little differently but at the end it’s a murder mystery that does deliver on both aspects. You shouldn’t have any serious issues with this one as stay engaged with the case. With the inspector even getting a promotion at the end you like to think that maybe he will be a little nicer to Marple going forward and can even help her out in her cases right? Well, we’ll see in the final installment in the series.

Overall 7/10

Murder at the Gallop Review


Miss Marple is back in action once more to stop the upcoming murders. We once again deal with a will and a bunch of very suspicious family members. This time though Marple will have to make sure that her horse riding skills are still on point because otherwise this could get a little tricky. It’s a solid follow up and continues with most of the positives that you would have enjoyed from the first film.

The movie starts with Marple and Springer collecting some funds for charity when they visit the house of someone who notoriously never gives his money. He won’t be given the chance this time though as he is dead. His family shows up for the will and they each get a nice chunk of real estate but one of them says that he was murdered. Before Marple can properly check with her, this lady is murdered as well. Now this definitely seems like it can’t be a natural death so Marple joins the horse club as she explains that she was a bit of an expert back in her day. She will have to do this without the aid of the police since they believe the earlier deaths were due to natural causes. Marple may be on her own but she isn’t dissuaded and will fight hard until she can get the proof that she needs.

It’s a pretty good change of scenery here at the horse club. It’s pretty much a fancy hotel out in the country side after all and there are a lot of rooms where murder can happen. Marple spends a lot of time trying to find the right boot since her main clue is something that fits into the boot. I forget what term they used for it but it looks like Styrofoam and she has to try matching it each time she gets an opportunity. Not necessarily an easy thing in a high speed place like this.

The Inspector returns of course and he’s fun as always. This time you’d think he would cut her some more slack but he doesn’t believe Marple as always. At least they hint that she calls on them a lot and we only see the successful attempts but it would still be nice for him to be on her side this time. He does try his best but the guy is completely out of his depth in these cases.

Part of why he’s still a great character though is because he does try really hard. No matter how many times he is proven wrong or outshined by Marple, he continues doing his best to try and serve out some justice. Now that’s the kind of attitude you need to have as an inspector or else you will quickly fall behind.

As always Marple is a solid character as well. She is good at getting right into the thick of the action and also doing so in a way where the police can’t just remove her. Like here for example where she is a proud member of the hotel right now. They can’t just boot her out and it’s a very clever way of also pressuring the criminal into making a move.

I should also mention there is a bit of a running gag from the first film that continues here where someone falls in love with Marple at the very end. That happens here as well and it shows that while she makes a considerable amount of enemies in each film, people just tend to like her by the end. It is impressive to find an older lady who is still good at so many things but that’s just how good Marple is.

It goes without saying but the writing is solid here as well. The mystery is put together in a very solid way and the script is on point. The pacing is good and you’ll always enjoy the witty exchanges between the characters. Part of the fun in mysteries like this is seeing all of the characters quickly affirm their innocence as they grow more and more insistent on the fact. You know that one character is lying out of his or her mind but you just don’t know who yet.

The soundtrack also continues to be high energy as the main Marple theme plays whenever she is on the go. The fact that the soundtrack is memorable at all is impressive since a lot of films just don’t have a whole lot of music to keep you entertained.

It is nice how for once nobody has a proper alibi when the police show up. It makes sense though because in a hotel like this you would often be by yourself. 9/10 times in a movie like this I would have no alibi because I probably would have just been playing video games or eating somewhere. Of course some of the characters are quite happy to say they have no alibi but it’s hard to say if that makes then more suspicious or just bigger jerks.

Marple’s final plan involving a dance is a good way to get the villain to lower their guard even if it’s extremely risky. One thing you’ll notice about Marple is that her plans are as dangerous as they come. This one for example involves her pretending to be asleep and all alone in her room. It all tends to work out but in several cases you feel like she would have been murdered before anyone is even able to get close enough to save her. That’s my main critique of her strategy since I don’t think the results mean that the plan itself was sound.

Overall, This was a nice follow up to the series. Looks like the murder mystery series is on the right trail and Marple can hold her own with the rest. I’m slowly getting to learn more about her which is nice because if I ever watch Murder by Death again I’ll have an even better understanding of each detective. You can expect the third movie in the series to be reviewed in the very near future.

Overall 7/10

The Blue Gardenia Review


Time for a classic noir thriller. One of the key things to remember if you ever find yourself in a Noir type situation is that you shouldn’t drink. Getting drunk is absolutely without a doubt one of the biggest mistakes you could make here. It puts you in a bad spot right out of the gate and there is really no escape. The whole movie would play out a lot differently without that.

The movie starts with Norah getting ready to celebrate her birthday on her own. Her fiancée is still away at war so at least she can have a good time on her own. Unfortunately she gets a letter that he has decided to marry someone else instead. Broken and confused, Norah decides to go out with a local flirt and gets herself as drunk as possible. This leads to him driving her to his place and taking advantage of the situation. She fights back and when she wakes up he is dead.

Norah heads home hoping to put this behind her but it’s all over the news now. The cops badly want to find whoever murdered the criminal. They are slowly getting closer and Norah’s only hope may be reporter Casey. He claims that he will help protect her from the police and get her a reduced sentence but can she really trust a member of the media? Norah will have to decide quickly before time is up.

Getting drunk really does put you in a bind. It’s also why you don’t want to make any snap decisions when you’ve just had a bad day. Norah went on this date in large part just to try and get over her fiancé. Still not good to go with such a shady customer though. Now since Norah lost her memories of what happened after drinking she doesn’t know if she truly murdered him or not. It certainly appears to have played out that way but she can’t be sure.

On this note though, it is absolutely correct that she fought back. At one point when asking her roommates hypothetical questions about the situation one of them says you can’t just take down every guy who gets handsy. That seemed to be underestimating the situation quite a lot. Even if she ended up murdering him with the final strike, that was definitely in self defense so it’s not like she tried to destroy him. It was her or him at that point and she had to fight to survive.

Of course most of the film is really about Norah fighting her inner doubts. If she could at least remember what happened then she would feel a lot better about the whole thing. As it is, she is just very confused. I wouldn’t say she was a great main heroine but she’s okay. She doesn’t do the rest job of hiding what happened but granted, being in such a situation is pretty stressful so you can expect some slip ups.

As for the reporter Casey, he was a pretty fun character. He had some good banter with the local police as the chief called in during his attempts to find the identity of the murderer. It is quite brazen of him to be saying such things like trusting him over the cops in a public forum like that. He also underestimates how many people are keeping up with the case which ends up catching up to him. He was a charismatic guy though, same as the police chief. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of those guys.

The roommates don’t leave nearly as much of an impression though. I was expecting the big book fan to do a lot by the end but in a way her character never went anywhere. She’s knowledgeable about things as the smart member of the group but she never gets to use her intelligence for anything. The other one at least helps Norah out by the end and gives a good amount of moral support.

Compared to most Noir films there isn’t a whole lot to talk about though since the story is so direct. There’s really only one plot twist here and there’s virtually no foreshadowing for it so it just sort of happens without a lot of time to piece it together on your own. The movie has quality writing and an engaging story which is really what you want to see early on. It helps keep the rest of the film interesting and the pacing tight.

I’d put it under the average Noir film though as it is just lacking that depth some of the others have. There isn’t much to theorize or discuss which is not necessarily a bad thing but it does mean that this one won’t have the same staying power. I think I would have maybe added one more character, perhaps someone trying to throw some blackmail into the mix which would ultimately be a red herring. Just some kind of crazy twist, perhaps involving her Fiancé. Imagine he shows up and never told anyone that he didn’t even leave for war at all. Turns out the whole story was fake. At this point we’re discussing pure hypotheticals though.

Overall, The Blue Gardenia is a good movie. It has strong writing and an engaging plot. At the same time, there aren’t a whole lot of stand out characters here. I would have liked one of Norah’s friends to defend her here by reminding her it was in self defense or something like that. The guy who got murdered was also extra sleazy, would have been nice if he wasn’t quite so morally bankrupt. The movie has a satisfying ending so you’ll enjoy the ride. I’d certainly recommend it if you like Noir titles or just want something suspenseful.

Overall 6/10

Bullitt Review


Bullitt is definitely a true noir film to its core but with a more modern aesthetic than the older ones. It’s a pretty good title with a lot going on at all times. It’s a bit on the longer side to be sure so that lets the movie really have a lot of characters the whole time. As I’ll mention below Frank doesn’t have to be a one man army this time as he actually has some good help.

The film starts on a really high energy note during the credits. We see the burglars taking a lot of guys out with hit and run tactics or just classic gunfire. It’s a pretty interesting start since we don’t yet know what’s going on but what better way to start a film like this right? The answers are all given slowly during the movie.

Frank is the main character here. He’s a detective who has been assigned to protect Ross, a mobster who is going to be a crucial witness against a big criminal organization. Frank is fairly confident that they can handle this so he and his two partners take shifts on who will protect the guy. Unfortunately his partner is not that smart and lets Ross get near the door. Not a great idea when you’re watching over someone and things are already getting suspicious…..Naturally both the partner and Ross get shot.

Well, now everybody’s in a whole lot of trouble. Chalmers, one of the higher ups is blaming Frank for this. Frank meanwhile thinks something is really fishy about the whole set up so he hides Ross’s body so nobody will know that he actually died from his injuries. In theory this will lead the hitmen out into the open. Of course this will put Frank at odds with both the cops as well as the villains.

It’s a classic revenge story here as Frank has gone off the reservation in order to get back at the guys who did this. Frank makes for a pretty good lead. He’s certainly not afraid to talk tough to anyone else, including his superiors. Even the plan to get the body tucked away was a risky one that not just any character would pull off. I wouldn’t say Frank is a spectacular character or anything but he does handle the situation well.

Then you have Chalmers who is one of the other main characters. He’s the guy who really wanted Ross for the court case and is the one who made the deal with the guy in the first place. Naturally he’s on Frank’s tail the whole film because he needs the body. The reason Frank doesn’t want to play ball is because this guy seems rather suspicious. His name was used for the burglers to break in and bump Ross off plus the guy seems really desperate to get Ross.

It doesn’t help that Chalmers is also a jerk the whole time such as a scene when he tries to effectively get one of the doctors fired by complaining about him for no other reason than he wanted the guy to give him a different answer. These elements add up to make him someone you don’t really want to partner with. He does make for a fun character because of how exaggerated he is the whole time though.

You’ve also got Frank’s direct boss who was very good. The guy was put in a rather tough spot with all the pressure coming down on him but he still held strong. The captain does have to make certain decisions as part of his job that don’t always align with Frank’s plans but he never turns tail and runs or anything like that. Frank also has another good partner who had a good interrogation at the cafe where he actually outdid Frank as the main guy was a little too much in a hurry. It was nice to see that Frank had some capable allies here.

There is a bit of an extended car chase we get midway through the film but it wasn’t as exciting as some of other classic chases you get in these films. I think part of the issue was the cars they were using couldn’t get up to great speeds so it’s a little less frantic. It’s probably the only scene that I would say dragged a bit here. Always fun to have an action scene though so that was neat.

As this is more a film about cat and mouse games, there aren’t a ton of action scenes. You affectively get 3, the opening shootout, the car chase, and then the climax. Each action scene is pretty solid though so it works out. The story is engaging too so you never really miss the action. After all in a mystery like this you’re most interested in figuring out who the villain really is.

The climax was a lot of fun though. We don’t get a whole lot of action scenes at the airport so it made for a good backdrop. The film even uses the overall layout of the airport to its advantage as it plays a role in dealing with the villain. All of the plots meet up in this section as the climax should.

The only plot here that felt like it didn’t really belong was some mild tension with Frank’s girlfriend Cathy. The case was dragging so she believes it’s taken a big toll on Frank and on them too. Now that’s not necessarily incorrect but considering the high stakes going on right now and multiple people dead as it is, it’s not like Frank can back out now. She also only appeared for maybe 2-3 scenes top in the whole film so it was easy to forget that she was even around.

Overall, Bullitt is a pretty good movie. It’s got a solid plot/premise and good execution all around. The soundtrack has some pretty good tunes thrown into the mix as well like the opening credits theme. If you’re looking for a pretty solid thriller to check out then this will definitely work out pretty well. It’s a strongly written film that doesn’t really have any weaknesses.

Overall 7/10

A Kiss Before Dying Review


Whenever you have a film trying to cross over some romance and horror you know that it’s a tricky mix to pull off. Both genres are already tough enough as it is and this movie definitely couldn’t defy the odds. You’re just waiting for the characters to solve the mystery and end things already but clearly it won’t be quite so easy.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Bud and Dorothy. They’re a couple who are seemingly getting along well but one day Dorothy finds out that she is pregnant. Naturally this was not exactly planned and Bud is now worried about his future prospects. He decides that he’s going to need to bump her off to get himself out of this. He’ll have to do it subtly though or people will suspect that something’s up. He ends up throwing her off a building. While the police believe this may have been a suicide, Dorothy’s sister Ellen isn’t convinced. She gets a local police assistant named Gordon to help her out with this. Can they reach the truth?

I hesitate to even put in the part about Bud taking out Dorothy but that is really the main plot even if it takes a rather long time for that plot to end. There’s a ton of build up to it first as the film milks each scene. I guess the intent is so you can think that maybe Dorothy has a shot at escaping but that never seemed very likely so I don’t know about that one. It does mean that the first half feels really long though and tends to drag on.

Perhaps if there was some reason the film gave us on why Dorothy might escape then you would be able to enjoy this as a rather thrilling moment. Thing is, we know Bud will be able to take her out so then instead of tension you’re just waiting for the film to get on with it and go to the next scene already.

Bud’s definitely one of those guys you’re not meant to sympathize with or even find interesting as a villain. He’s always running around scared and hoping that he’s in the right place at the right time. The film really makes sure to double down on this as he’s even extremely rude to his mother the whole time. Nobody notices what a guy he is though so unfortunately he lasts for quite a while as everyone cheers him on for being a rather intelligent guy who is very studious.

As for Dorothy, she was a good character but definitely not quick on the uptake. Bud wasn’t exactly subtle at his displeasure of her getting pregnant. By the time he would put on his happy face it should have been way too late. She somehow didn’t notice when he pushed her down a flight of stairs as well. The guy’s just way too suspicious throughout the movie but I suppose in a way she just wanted everything to work out. You can sympathize with her a lot to be sure though. You really wanted her to have some kind of happy ending.

Then you have Ellen who is a very proactive character. It is cool to see her do some detective work of her own. Her first adventure almost backfired but at least she is trying to find clues and everything which is a big step up from doing nothing. Now, she does start to slip a whole lot towards the end of the film though. Refusing to listen to new developments and such is a bad look. I can understand if it was only Mr. Kingship but when the cops show up with this info as well you should probably listen.

It was a little disappointed that she then drove up with Bud to a rather abandoned area without bringing a handgun or something. It’s why you certainly can’t let romance blind you or that’ll put you in some sticky situations for sure. It’s part of why Gordon was good since he clearly liked Ellen but at the end of the day his job came first. Even if it meant she wouldn’t be his friend anymore, he had to pursue the case. He also managed to pursue it rather well. He isn’t a full fledged cop yet but you can tell that he will have the skills to make it.

Certainly more skills than the DJ. The problem with that guy is one I have with many characters in a hold up situation. Okay, put it this way, Bud has already said he’s going to murder the guy. It’s quite clear that the DJ isn’t leaving the room alive. In light of that, why not at least make a try for the gun or something? This guy is trying to play this up as a suicide which only works if the DJ sits on the chair real quiet like and allows himself to be shot in a way that is easy to fake.

If he struggles, wrestles with Bud or gets shot as he runs, it’ll be very obvious that it is not a suicide. Effectively you’re calling the killer’s bluff. Still, there is a good chance you’ll die but isn’t it better to take a chance then go for the 0% survival rate of just sitting there and taking it? The DJ was massively disappointing there. I’ll never understand why a characters just accepts his death in such a situation.

Finally, Mr. Kingship was a good character as well. There’s a lot of tension between him and Ellen. From what we see of him in the film he’s definitely a nice enough character but clearly prior to the film’s start he could be a little controlling. We can only really judge on what’s going on now though so I thought he was fairly supportive and did his best.

Overall, I wasn’t really a fan of this film. It certainly comes off as quite a bit mean spirited with almost a third of the film being devoted to scenes building up the main heroine’s death when we know she has no chance of escaping. Bud managing to hook up with her own sister was also quite sketchy and just kept the drama going. It’s rather convenient that Bud got away with so much or that nobody knew he had been going out with her. It’s a small town so I don’t care how secret they were about it, it should have come out during the initial investigation. As Bud’s such an unlikable character having him as the main protagonist for so long also didn’t help matters. You’re just waiting for him to eventually go down which ultimately makes the pacing feel slow as well. If you want to check out a thriller, this definitely isn’t the one to pick.

Overall 3/10

Night Must Fall Review


When I saw the remake of this film I remember thinking that the whole thing was definitely quite bad. Still, the original ought to be a little better right since it usually gets a bump for having better writing? Well, that wasn’t quite the case here or at least it wasn’t enough to make a tangible difference. It’s the story itself that’s pretty bad so I suppose there is no saving that.

The movie starts with Mrs. Bramson getting ready to fire her maid Dora. Dora has been getting a little sloppy around the house but pleads for mercy as she tells Mrs. Bramson that she wants to marry a guy called Danny. Bramson meets him and is quickly won over so she hires him as a servant. Danny quickly begins to take over the house though as he and Bramson get quite close. Bramson’s nice Olivia isn’t thrilled about this as she’s pushed further and further out of the picture. The true threat here may be more serious than that though. Olivia suspects that Danny may have murdered a girl who went missing recently.

The characters all make a lot of really questionable decisions throughout the film in order to help Danny get ahead. For starters, Mrs. Bramson falls for his tricks way too quickly. Within minutes he’s got her completely suckered. Based on how tough she was talking at first you would think she would have done better than that right? She is harsh with everyone else but can’t bring herself to stand up to Danny. What’s worse is the fact that by the end she is panicking just for being alone which causes her to lower her guard immediately to the point where she nearly dies of a heart attack.

Dora is another pretty bad character. Danny manages to trick her with ease by continuing to promise that he will marry her but not doing anything about it. You’d think that Dora would pick up on the context clues and several characters even try to put her on the right track but she won’t hear of it. Considering that she’s the main reason why he got the job that makes her a little responsible for everything going on too.

We mustn’t forget Olivia either who is practically an accomplice by the end. She really thinks Danny committed the murder and as the film goes on this becomes plainer and plainer. Surely she will tip off the authorities or get out of there right? Instead she actively disrupts the investigation such as when she took the bag away that probably had the victim’s head in it. Why do that? There’s no good reason for it except that she wanted to help Danny.

Her character is certainly an odd one throughout. At times she tries to talk tough about how she will never like Danny but then she caves rather quickly. She doubts herself a lot and always ends up running back to the mansion. Each time she won’t actually tell Bramson anything. Olivia quickly ended up becoming the worst character in the series. She just wouldn’t stop putting everyone in danger. Her long speech about how the first lady may have been murdered was also rather disturbing. There was something a little off about her all the way through.

Then you have Justin who seems like a nice enough guy but he’ll certainly have a tough time of things with Olivia. Hopefully she should be okay now that the main adventure is over though. Finally we have the main villain Danny who’s just awful the whole way through. He certainly talks fast but I wouldn’t even call him a smooth talker. The guy makes a ton of rookie mistakes. He leaves out details with the cops that they quickly track down later on. He keeps incriminating evidence with him at all times and makes other mistakes like that.

He’s really quite lucky that he hasn’t been caught yet despite how tough he talks the whole time. Danny randomly fainting in the middle of the room was also a scene that showed he wasn’t quite ready for this level of excitement. If not for Olivia constantly covering for him the guy would have been in some pretty steep trouble.

I should mention he’s also not very pleasant to the cat like in one scene where he basically throws her. I wouldn’t even say the writing is all that good here because everything is so convenient in order for Danny to have a chance. Why are all of the characters living in this house so insane? His plan revolves around so many things to work out just perfectly that you really can’t believe it when it all lines up.

The film also drags on as a result. A whole lot of the scenes are just him complimenting Bramson over and over again as she falls for each comment. If you’ve seen one of their scenes then you’ve seen them all. Since Olivia’s not even remotely a good character it’s not like her scenes help to balance things out either. Of course after that you have the maids but they tend to vanish for large parts of the film so you even forget they are there. Dora also looks pretty bad since she also falls for his tricks.

Overall, Night Must Fall is a fairly annoying movie filled with bad characters. The main plot is just so preposterous as each character falls for Danny which lets him continue with his plans. The only good character would be the police officer and even he didn’t exactly do anything big until the end. A film like this will usually live or die on the intrigue of seeing how the heroes manage to solve the clues and figure out that Danny is the crook. The issue is that this never gets started since Olivia finds out very quickly and still chooses to do nothing. When that’s the case…it’s like the film gave up. Danny was even able to psycho analyze Olivia a few times which didn’t help her case.

Overall 2/10

Fallen 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

This next film is definitely a different take on your usual murder mystery. After all, we’ve got some supernatural elements here. The film throws this part in rather early on so I would say it is part of the actual plot. It’s certainly one of those films where you feel the hero has no chance from the start so you’re wondering what he will do to try and extend his time.

The movie starts with John visiting the mass murderer that he caught. The guy is about to be executed but wanted some last words with John. He starts speaking a lot of gibberish, singing songs, and trying to grab John. John lets the guy have his fun but then leaves so he can get his seat for the execution. The guy is promptly smoked to death and that should have been the end of it, but the murders start up again in the same exact way. The issue is that the murderer keeps changing. Here’s the thing, there was never just a man murdering everyone. John has to figure out what all these cryptic warnings mean before it’s too late. Then again…..it may already be too late.

You see this kind of predicament in a lot of horror films where the average joe angers some kind of lost spirit and has to figure out a way to win. Sometimes the main character did something wrong that comes back to bite him and sometimes it’s just a demon that wants to mess with people. This one is more the latter and the demon has taken a special interest in John. Azazel is his name by the way. Now the tricky thing with this is when you write a character that can’t possibly be stopped.

The Grudge and the Ring are examples of this where it’s a supernatural monster that has the powers to do just about anything so how are you going to stop it? Sometimes these creatures even allow you to find out their weakness like Freddy Krueger but then at the end of the film you find out they were trolling all along. That’s basically how it is with this guy. He’s portrayed as so invincible that you don’t see how the humans will ever have a chance.

Azazel has the ability to possess people. A fairly basic ability on its own I suppose but if you murder him then he can just body hop to someone else. He can possess anyone just by making physical contact with them. For those who have abnormally strong supernatural defenses, he can bypass them by dying and accessing his astro form. His only limitation is that he can only fly 1/6th of a mile when he is in his astro form so in theory the way to beat him is to try and murder his poor host somewhere where there isn’t anybody around. The film is fair about explaining why this weakness isn’t a big deal early on but it’s a small scene so I won’t spoil the twist there.

Now you know that sometimes the hero can activate a plot shield or something to try and get out of this mess but otherwise you can’t see how John will come out on top. It’s why you usually want to either not make the horror villain too out of the realm where nobody can do anything or give the main character some way of fighting back. That said, I suppose it’s not quite as crazy as some other monsters in that this one can’t alter reality or anything like that.

John’s a good main character. He’s really always done his best to do the right thing and help people out when he can. He doesn’t want to compromise on his ideals and makes that clear in the opening scene. He’s been pretty good at his job throughout his career and he handles this case as well as he can. If there’s anything he could have done differently, I’d say it would be to have just have talked to Gretta more. Maybe have her train him in the art of psychic defenses or something. I liked the scenes where he would have an internal monologue though. It felt like something out of a Noir title and was always interesting to listen to.

That said, when it came time for a battle she got wrecked anyway so that may not have really helped him at all either way. She talked a tougher game than she could back up when it was all said and done. Gretta was a decent character even if maybe she was a bit too reluctant to give him details, but who wants to get involved in a demonic fight anyway right? She probably figured that staying away was her best bet.

John’s colleagues were also fun. His best friend was quite loyal and in general it was a pretty good work atmosphere. Fallen is not a very happy movie though so usually John doesn’t really have time to just pal around with the gang or anything like that. Some kind of tragedy is always occurring. Azazel puts John into a lot of unwinnable situations. Where the film has most of its tragic elements is in how nobody can possibly understand what Azazel is doing so John just looks crazy any way you slice it. It’s just not possible for him to get people to help him against a supernatural threat.

Overall, Fallen is really about putting the lead in a completely hopeless situation. It’s rough because there is really absolutely nothing he can do about all of this. He was just unlucky enough to have angered a demon who wants vengeance on him. Azazel taunts John throughout the film by singing, quoting the Bible, and destroying John’s reputation as well. By the end of the film there isn’t much that can be salvaged. The film has a true horror type ending which was definitely pretty intense. Fallen’s a little tamer than I had expected but I wouldn’t call it a good film. My main problem with films that have a completely hopeless outlook for the main character is that you wonder what the point of it all is. If there is nothing John can do against the demon, then the journey of him trying to resist it just won’t be all that fun.

Overall 4/10

Shock Review


Shock is a pretty old movie about why you have to be careful how you word things. The main heroine could have saved herself a lot of grief if she had handled things better and on the other hand, the main guy should have been more on the ball. Throughout the movie you may be wondering how the heroes can get out of their fate since they are falling into all of the old traps. The movie is pretty short so you won’t have to wonder for too long.

It’s only around an hour after all so there is definitely not a whole lot of time here. The movie starts off with Janet arriving at a hotel to prepare for her husband’s arrival after being a prisoner of war for many years. Unfortunately either the hotel lost her reservation or she forgot to make one but they say she can stay for a day. She goes to her room but then witnesses Dr. Cross murdering his wife through the window. This puts her in a state of shock so fantastic that she is unable to move or make a sound. Her husband Paul arrives and sees her in this state so he quickly calls the doctor who then calls in Dr. Cross since Cross is the world’s leading expert in this kind of thing. Cross explains he can fix her but he’ll have to do it in his private hospital. Cross takes her there and his new girlfriend Elaine realizes that Janet is the only witness to the murder. They will have to make sure she never recovers.

Now this plot does hinge on quite a few things. One of the big ones of course being the fact that if Janet had been able to react even slightly or do anything other than panic the whole time then they wouldn’t have even taken her to the hospital. Paul did a pretty bad job of trying to wake her up as well to be honest. You’d think there are a lot of things you could try before taking her to a private hospital.

The only thing I would say on Paul’s behalf is at least the hospital doesn’t seem shady on its surface. It has a great reputation along with the lead doctor and it has been generating positive results for an incredibly long time. There is no reason to doubt that he would heal her…initially. As the film goes on Janet flat out tells Paul why she got traumatized and how Cross murdered his wife, but Paul doesn’t believe her at all. Throughout the film he gives authorization for all kinds of treatments to be used on her which just makes you shake your head.

As Paul even notes many times, Janet is not getting better so why let this continue? The fact that she was able to recognize him and have a discussion…multiple times should have told him that something was up. That’s why Paul ended up being my least favorite character in the film. He could and should have handled everything so much better than he did. He just ended up putting Janet in a lot of danger the whole time.

As for Janet, she’s not innocent either. Really, she could have framed things so much better. Put it this way, when she first woke up she could have quickly played along so everyone would see she was sane and she could have left the hospital immediately. She could have told Paul she wanted to leave with him or even said something like they had not been letting her see him for a while. Something to put him on high alert so they could leave. Jumping right into the story about Cross murdering the wife and yelling just helped make Paul think she was crazy. Now, either way Paul should have helped but this didn’t do her any favors. Same with her initial escape attempt.

Then we have Elaine who is definitely portrayed as the most sinister character. She has absolutely 0 qualms about just murdering everyone in their way. She’s consistent in that degree which doesn’t bode well for her by the end. Then you have Cross who tries to be a lot more wishy washy about the whole thing which is hard to buy. You don’t just murder someone without meaning to do so and you especially don’t end up doing that twice. I wasn’t buying that in either instance. So when he keeps on talking about how he didn’t mean to and everything it’s hard to buy into that. Even his quick change of heart at the end doesn’t amount to much because he had already gone this far. Such a character just can’t be trusted.

Shock is a film where it can be tough to see how everyone is manipulated so easily. I can cut some characters a break like the inspector and the number 1 authority on shocks because from what both of them saw there just wasn’t anything to suspect. It’s a little harder to buy into some of the staff but the trickiest characters are absolutely Paul and Janet because there just isn’t a whole lot of defending either one of them. They just keep putting themselves in worse and worse positions.

The writing in the film is solid even with the characters acting like this though. I always like the script and dialogue with films back in this era as all of the characters just sound very regal and sophisticated. The style works out rather well. The pacing is naturally pretty decent with the film being so short and all. There’s no way this movie could end up dragging out at this point.

Overall, Shock is a film that has a pretty direct plot from start to finish. You do feel like the characters could have handled this a lot better though which can be a bit annoying at times. It’s a shame since the actual hospital did end up being rather legitimate but having someone corrupt at the top is all you need to completely destroy the whole environment. It’s a decent film so I’d recommend it if you want to watch an old school thriller but there are better options out there.

Overall 6/10

Cast a Dark Shadow Review


Usually characters making a lot of shaky decisions is thought to be more of a horror trope. Well, this film manages to give that a run for its money since none of the characters are all that smart here. They make a ton of mistakes so by the end there is a lot of tension since you can’t trust them to pull through. It’s always a bit of a twist to have the main villain act as the main character and it works rather well here. The film keeps you guessing.

The movie starts by introducing us to Edward and his much older wife. It’s one of those age gap marriages where Edward did it for the money while Monica doesn’t notice this since she just wanted a companion. Well, Edward had been slowly accelerating her death by constantly feeding her wine but one day she mentions that she will be setting up a will so Edward quickly murders her. He figured that she would be giving all of her money to family when in fact she was going to give it all to him. Edward now realizes that he should have held off on the murder for another day at least but it’s too late. So he quickly goes on a trip and finds the rich Freda and decides to marry her. He’s back to being rich but can he keep the truth from her?

I want to say that the writing is pretty good. While a lot of the characters act rather questionably, I wouldn’t say this is a writing thing but simply that the characters were not meant to be all that smart. It’s not exactly unheard of after all. At best I would say Freda is the character where you have to wonder what she has done to secure herself if anything. But lets take a step back and talk about some of the characters and why I didn’t think they handled things well.

First up is Edward. So of course if he had just waited 1 more day he would have been rich beyond belief. Considering what a final moment this was and how big a deal it was, he definitely could have asked her a little more directly about her intentions. I also dare say he could have read the room a bit more when her attorney was around and how displeased he was. That should have been a big tipoff that she was about to give him a lot of money. It just makes the most amount of sense and yet Edward did not realize this which cost him. He’s certainly not a good character anyway though so you’re glad to see him fail.

Then you have Monica who just didn’t see the writing in the wall here. She didn’t realize that he was after her money and ultimately didn’t last too long. It’s tough when you’re rich since peo0ple may want you for the money so it’s always hard to know when the love was genuine. It’s too bad she couldn’t have found companionship through a club or something instead. Then you have the maid Emmie who you’ll feel bad for. She has done a good job for the family and yet Monica left her with almost nothing. I feel like she should have gotten more. Then you feel bad for her with Edward just tricking her the whole time and not paying her. Definitely another underhanded trick. Emmie gets tricked a lot and is just too trusting for her own good.

Then you have Phillip who is the most sensible member of the cast. He doesn’t trust Edward and has no reservations about saying this to his face either. Phillip puts the guy in his place and does a really good job of it too. He really deserves a lot of credit in this film for always staying one step ahead of Edward and also for not getting intimidated. With this we’re down to the final two main characters who both get sizable roles.

First up is Freda who is the lady who ends up marrying Edward. She talks a really good game about not getting tricked and keeping close watch of her money but to marry Edward so quickly was a rookie mistake. Naturally he was hiding a ton of secrets even if she never could have guessed to this extent. So, she did make sure not to cut a check so I wonder if when marrying they signed something keeping the money separate. Otherwise I was surprised he couldn’t just take her money or sign in his name. It’s fortunate it wasn’t that easy at least. She held her ground but there were so many red flags here after they were married. Yelling at her for going into the old wife’s room is a big one and of course all the threats of violence and such against her. She made sure to always see things in a humorous light but she really got herself into a bad situation. Her final scene nearly made things even more dangerous.

Finally you have Charlotte, a rich lady who showed up recently and is looking to buy a house. Naturally Edward has an interest in her as well. Charlotte’s role here is pretty solid and I do like her plan. Admittedly, it is still an incredibly risky plan. She made a lot of rational points which in theory guarantee her safety but when you’re dealing with a psychotic murderer there is no guarantee that they will act rationally. She was risking an awful lot with her plan so I appreciate the fact that she stuck to her guns but things almost got dicey anyway. Particularly in the final scene as well things almost went sideways.

Cast a Dark Shadow is definitely a film that reminds you to always be cautious around people you don’t truly know. Just because you meet someone for a few minutes and they seem nice doesn’t mean that you should suddenly marry them or go over to their house past midnight when you give a call. People can lie after all and then suddenly their nice story isn’t as pleasant as it appeared to me. A lot of the characters in this film took way too much at face value which is what really let to things being pretty difficult for them. Edward was outsmarting most of the cast for quite a while and the whole time you’re waiting for him to be defeated.

Overall, Cast a Dark Shadow is a very interesting villain. It can be annoying seeing everyone fall into Edward’s traps though. Particularly Freda since I liked her tough personality and how she would stand up to him. Just after all the bravado it would usually lead to her falling into the trap anyway so I wouldn’t say it went perfectly. The lawyer Phillip definitely deserves a lot of credit though because he was definitely crucial to making sure things go well. In general he was just a fun guy too. If you’re up for a solid thriller then this film is good to watch. Have a glass of water with you and take a shot every time a character says or does something that makes you shake your head.

Overall 6/10