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

The Late Show Review


Noir films tend to be pretty fun with their chaotic plans. The lead is always thinking things through quite a bit to the point where they might even overanalyze things at times. Well, this film is no different and plays things out pretty well the whole time. It’s a pretty good film and you should have a fun time here. It may not go down as the ultimate film of the genre that you will remember for all of time but it does hit all of the right beets. The Late Show represents the genre really well so you can certainly recommend this to any fan of the Noir genre.

Ira used to be a pretty good detective in his day but he’s basically out of the business now. He’s quite old and just doesn’t get involved in those situations anymore. Well, one day his partner Harry shows up and dies. Ira realizes that the guy has been shot by someone and decides to avenge him. His only lead is that Harry had been helping out a lady named Margo with…her missing cat? This doesn’t exactly sound like a life or death matter but clearly there is more to this case than meets the eye. Getting information out of Margo will be difficult though. She is a very active person who likes to talk a whole lot so it can be tough to ever get to the bottom of things with her. Still, Ira knows that if he sticks close to her he will get his chance. You have conspiracies, lies, missing people, a possible cheating scandal, and more here. Ira will have to piece all of these seemingly unrelated plots together.

Part of the fun for Noir films is the twists and turns that come along the way so it’s harder to go more in depth with the story. A big emphasis is on Ira being old which the villains take advantage of but Ira dishes it out as well as he takes it. Several of the villains try to strong arm him and that always backfires. A good example of this is Lamar who beats up on Ira after getting in a surprise attack but he gets to feel the same punishment later on. Ira certainly holds a grudge and won’t forget things very easily.

He’s a fun lead and works well in this role. The character of the aging detective who knows all of the tricks works pretty well here. He’s not going to fall for any easy traps and the villains have to do everything they can to make sure they aren’t just completely squashed by this guy. Ira has some health issues in the film which do present an issue but he handles those pretty well too. So all in all I was definitely quite satisfied with this guy. Then you have Margo who is a solid sidekick. She really wants to be helpful so you can appreciate her drive even if she sometimes gets them into a bigger mess like with calling Ira’s other partner. To her defense I guess she may not have known better but considering how crazy things were getting she probably should have stayed quiet. Can’t trust anyone in this kind of situation I would say.

Margo handles the car driving really well as she escaped the tails though. The writing in the film is really solid with the banter between Margo and Ira being a nice highlight. Technically she is doing most of the bantering since he doesn’t talk a lot. He prefers to just think things through in his head while Ira likes to bring everything out into the open and just discuss everything until it makes sense. They have very different styles for sure.

On the whole the movie is just pretty fun so the whole thing goes by pretty quickly. It’s a solid plot and by the end you get to see which of the characters are able to stick the landing and which ones crack under pressure. In particular there is one character who looks terrible at the end. After getting beaten by the thugs in a theater this guy still decides to help them out for the money. I think just about anyone would realize that these guys probably wouldn’t give him the money anyway. Most likely he would just be shot in the back for his troubles. There’s no way things would end well for him either way so it makes his character choice even worse. All he is doing is digging his own grave but at least it gives Ira a chance to dish out some more solid burns.

The ending is pretty sudden with several shots being fired and the body count certainly rises. Nobody is really safe in a film like this, especially when you have villains running around. Everyone knows about two of the thugs for example but nobody does anything about them. It’s one of those interesting elements where you have characters uttering a lot of veiled threats against each other with the mutual understanding that no fights will break out as long as each person leaves the other alone.

Overall, The Late Show is a pretty good movie. The plot is engaging from start to finish and there is never a dull moment. You have to really stay on top of things here or you may lose track of a few of the twists. It works well as a slow burner film where we slowly find things out along with Ira until we have the full story. The movie balances the serious nature of the movie along with some quality humor the whole time. It’s done carefully so both tones are in tact. You never doubt for a second the high stakes of the film after all as we do get some intense scenes like someone literally being found inside of a fridge. If anything the humor makes these moments feel even more intense since they can really come out of nowhere. The ending even leaves room for potential sequels should they decide to go in that direction. Of course Ira is already quite old so the films would have to be careful not too stretch it too far or you’ll have a hard time believing that he can hold his own. At least as of this film he is clearly still tough enough to physically manhandle some of the villains though.

Overall 7/10

When A Stranger Calls 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.

I can’t say the premise for this film filled me with any real hope after the disaster that was Black Christmas but maybe it would actually be good right? Unfortunately that was not the case. When A Stranger Calls is another film that you will want to absolutely avoid at all costs. It’s got a pretty bad villain and the main characters can be annoying. The main character from the opening segment certainly could have explained more on the phone but lets go back to that in a minute.

So the film starts with a babysitter, Jill, looking after two kids. She then starts getting a ton of calls from someone telling her to go check on the kids but 1. she isn’t getting paid enough for that and 2. this seems a little sketchy. So she calls the cops and when they ask her if anyone is threatening her, she says no. She’ll probably say that the caller is threatening the kids next right? Unfortunately she does not. She basically denies everything and just wants the cops to look into it. They tap the line at least but either way they’re too late to save the kids. The kids are murdered and the crook escapes into the wild.

I still can’t get past Jill not actually saying that the caller was making threats. Ah well, I suppose it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway at that point. Duncan is the guy we now know to be the murderer. He’s on the run in the streets after escaping an asylum so Clifford has made it his personal mission to take the guy down even if it costs him his career as a cop. He searches around the city for clues but of course this won’t exactly be easy. Tracking one guy down in such a huge crowd will not be easy. Meanwhile Duncan has found his next victim, a lady named Tracy. Will she be able to escape before he makes his move?

This film’s going for a different approach than most horror films like this. Usually you either don’t see the antagonist until the very end of the film or he only pops up when bumping off the main cast. Duncan is a bit different as the film actively follows him around a lot of the time. We see him attack other characters who have nothing to do with the main plot. So that’s a fresh take on the genre. It may not have even remotely saved the film but I will give it props for trying something different. Of course the downside of this approach is that Duncan’s an awful character so having to follow him around like that is pretty brutal.

At least in the bar someone stands up to him which prevents things from potentially escalating. Unfortunately he was still able to follow Tracy to her home. Duncan’s basically one of those obsessive serial killers who is completely insane but plays the victim card all the time. There’s nothing remotely redeemable about him and he’s not even a mysterious figure because of this since we see him constantly. On the whole the cast isn’t great. Tracy’s certainly a brave heroine at least. She is out at night a lot and all by herself but manages to keep her head held high and keeps on going. A lot of the other characters wouldn’t have been able to pull that off.

As for Jill, if you take away her messing up on the call I guess she was decent. As for Clifford, his drive was solid. He did keep his word on sticking around which helped Tracy out at the end. It would have been nice if at least someone would have tried to stop Duncan when he was running away though. Clifford was super close to catching him there but ultimately he just needed another step or two to actually make it. Close but no dice that time.

While the film isn’t all that violent for the most part, it goes out of its way for grit later on as we’re given a very descriptive account of what happened to the kids. Needless to say the film wants you to know that these murders were quite gruesome with a lot of unnecessary detail. We also get a flashback showing the aftermath of this later on which really comes out of the blue since I thought we were going to at least avoid the visual. I don’t see why we needed the extra shock value at that late stage in the game but it’s how it goes I suppose.

There aren’t really any fun scenes in the film. Even some of the more intense horror films like the ones with Jason or Alien usually try to squeeze in either a party scene or some character competition moments but you don’t really have any of that here. You have the first murder, then a brutal bar fight, then nearly a second murder, a final struggle and then the climax. The film really keeps a tight grip on the plot which does make sense to an extent but it means that the film keeps up a very dreary atmosphere throughout. There’s just no time for you to enjoy a scene before shaking your head at whatever fatal moment is next.

Overall, When a Stranger Calls is definitely a film I would recommend avoiding. The film is going for too much of a shock value vibe and the main villain’s pretty terrible. The idea of following him and the cop in random locations is interesting but following a villain around almost never works either. So at the end of the day what you have is a pretty unwinnable situation where the film has planted itself in the corner. It’s doomed to come out on the losing side there almost as soon as the first 20 minutes are up with what happens to the kids. If you want to watch a good film with some scary moments then I would recommend watching Dragon Ball Z: Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan instead. Now that’s a film that will probably get you a little scared while watching because of how intense Broly is.

Overall 1/10

Evil Under The Sun Review


Murder mysteries tend to make for pretty exciting films. There’s a whole lot of suspects and you have to try and decide how to play things out. If you want to really make things exciting then you should try to pick out the suspect once they have all said their alibis and established motive. The film’s pretty fair with letting you make that choice. In fact I’m happy to say I was right on the money with this one. There’s just so many reasons why it made sense even if I wasn’t able to guess the full explanation. I was actually a little off on the motive as well.

The movie starts with Poirot not being able to solve a case. Or rather, he determines that no foul play was afoot aside from a normal murder. He then heads off to go on a quick vacation for some R&R. He meets up with a guy who lets Poirot know that he got swindled and he intends to destroy the lady who did this to him. Her name is Arlena. Poirot decides to go to this exclusive hotel as well because it’s supposed to be relaxing. Unfortunately it is anything but. Every family there has a lot of baggage and are not having any fun. Poirot does his best to ignore them all but then Arlena ends up getting murdered while she was on the beach. Who could have done it??

One thing that I always appreciate as that these films have a ton of details. So what happens is the film will throw you a lot of genuine clues and such to keep your eye on as well as a ton of red herrings. The film’s approach is to completely overload you with information. I appreciate this tactic because it’s counting on you overlooking something as opposed to straight up hiding it. It’s like that psych experiment they try where they show you a video filled with nonsense except for one little detail that’s legit. So it’s a really good structure.

As always the writing is pretty sound here as well. The characters all have distinct personalities as well as solid motives for wanting to bump Arlena off. At the same time you have to assume that it’s not a case of everyone destroying her this time because that kind of twist you should only end up doing once. Arlena is also shown to be as unlikable as possible. She’s incredibly mean to everyone and doesn’t even hide the fact that she is unfaithful to her husband. You certainly don’t miss her from the dynamic. So lets talk about all of the suspects.

First we have Arlena’s daughter Linda. Her alibi is that she was at the beach on the other side of the island around the time of the murder and this is corroborated by two other characters. Her motive would be that Arlena is cheating on Linda’s father and Arlena also tends to bullet Linda a lot. Having her out of the way would be pretty convenient for her. I wouldn’t say Linda is a particularly good character though. She lies about her story a few times which could get the wrong person hanged and I think she could have managed to have more fun on the trip even if she can’t quite stay at the grown up table.

Next is Kenneth. He’s Arlena’s husband so his motive is obvious. She’s been cheating on him for a while now. His alibi is that he was typing at the time and this story is corroborated by his letter which had to be a response to another one that was sent the same day. Unfortunately Kenneth isn’t a likable character either way. The fact that he just overlooks how mean Arlena is to Linda is pretty nasty. You wish the guy would just have more backbone about this. Instead he just keeps on going with the flow.

After Kenneth is Rex. His alibi is that he was on a boat during that time and his actions are corroborated by one person. His motive is that he wants to write a book about Arlena but keeps getting shut down at every turn since she doesn’t want people knowing about her book. So of course if she wasn’t around then this wouldn’t be a problem. He’s not a particularly likable guy either. He tends to be a little too informal with everyone which is why nobody seems to like the guy. As a result he has to hang out by himself a lot of the time.

Next is Patrick who is the guy Arlena is cheating with. He has no qualms about people seeing him either including his wife. His motive here would be to take her down so that he can finally get over her or at least so people wouldn’t be able to keep accusing him of this. His alibi here is that he’s the one who found the body which was corroborated by one character. It goes without saying that he’s not likable here. Cheating behavior like that will always make you shake your head at a character. He certainly gets real defensive about this as well considering that he makes no effort to hide what he’s doing.

Christine is Patrick’s wife so her motive is clear as well. If she bumps Arlena off then she won’t have to worry about any kind of affair going on. Her alibi is that she was sketching at the time. This was corroborated by one person. I’m not a fan of Christine…so you can kind of see that I don’t like any of these guys. That’s part of the point though as everyone is meant to look rather bad so they all appear more suspicious as well. Christine’s problem is she spends a lot of time feeling sorry for herself. She gets dizzy from vertigo, can’t go outside, cries a lot, etc. She tends to blow all of her problems up which makes them a lot bigger than they otherwise would be.

Then we have Myra. Her motive would be that Arlena is suddenly backing out of a play which is going to cost her a lot of money. If Arlena is bumped off then Myra would have a decent excuse to cancel the show. Myra’s alibi is that she was with Patrick when he found the body and her story was corroborated by one person. Myra’s at least more fun than a bunch of the other characters. She’s got a lot of pep in her step as she walks around and criticizes everyone. She can be very two faced at times but in this movie that’s fairly par for the course with most of these characters. Especially the murderer of course.

Then you have Odell. His motive would be the same as Myra’s since they have the same play. His alibi is that he was outside in the garden reading a book. He has a great deal of fun pointing out to Poirot that he doesn’t have an alibi but that this is normal. His speech was actually the best part of the entire movie because of how awesome it was. The guy was absolutely not holding back in the slightest with his intense comments towards Poirot. You’d think someone who’s at risk of being hanged would act a bit differently. For this reason I would say he was definitely the best member of the suspects. His performance there was just brilliant.

Finally we have Daphne. She’s the owner of the hotel. Her motive would be that she doesn’t like the way Arlena treats her family and they have been rivals for a long time. Her alibi is that she was in a meeting with all of her staff which is corroborated by no one except presumably the staff if they were asked some questions. Daphne can be pretty fun. She’s a solid rival and does her best to undermine Arlena with witty comments and last second zingers.

Naturally Poirot is a fun lead as well. He is always having a lot of fun when the missions pop up so you feel bad for the guy. He does make sure to still enjoy himself while solving this though. He has a lot of fun dialogue and does piece together the puzzles rather well. Nothing is ever able to shake his absolute confidence. Poirot has a smug air to him but it’s well deserved given his track record. At this point his name is known far and wide to everyone so even in the movies people recognize him immediately.

Really the only thing holding this film from getting a high score is there’s a very random moment of animal violence in the film. We see a dead rabbit or some kind of animal like that out of nowhere. It serves no purpose in the film whatsoever. Why was this added? Perhaps the film wanted to have some kind of illustration of death or the time passing but there are far, far better ways of doing it. All you get from this scene was that the film was clearly losing its marbles. It’s too bad because the rest of the film was rather solid but this certainly had to shave a star off. The film is fortunate we don’t see how the animal got destroyed or it would have been far worse.

Overall, Evil Under The Sun is a pretty solid mystery. It gives us a good amount of suspects and then the case to solve. The film is fairly long which gives each character a solid amount of detail. Additionally I like how the culprit acts towards the end of the film. The culprit continues to laugh off the theory and accusations the whole time yelling for proof and such. I always like when the victim is adamant about being in the clear the whole time. You don’t want to see anyone throw in the towel before then because it would be too easy. I’d recommend checking this film out if you’re looking for a good murder mystery.

Overall 6/10

The Devil Doll Review


When you see a film with a name like this you think of something like Talking Tina. The title isn’t quite as literal as that would have been but is still pretty fitting when you think about it. The movie manages to balance more of a down to earth drama plot along with a supernatural thriller storyline going on. The latter can feel quite sudden when it’s first introduced but the two plots mesh pretty well together. Ultimately I would definitely give this movie a thumbs up.

The movie starts with Paul in jail. He was framed for embezzling a lot of funds as well as murdering someone. He manages to escape along with as mad scientist. The scientist is able to shrink people and animals using a serum and can then control them using his mind. Effectively the shrinking process takes away your free will so you are now someone’s puppet to be used. He dies from the stress of it all and while Paul initially decides not to carry on the work, he sings a different tune when he realizes that he can use this to get revenge on the 3 people who wronged him so long ago. It may have been 17 years but when you’re rotting in jail for that long on a false wrap you don’t forget so easily. Those 3 guys better watch out!

Meanwhile you’ve got Paul’s daughter Lorraine who believes that Paul actually was guilty and blames him for a whole lot of things. She’s been estranged from the town due to her relation to him, her mother died, and now she has to work two jobs to keep a place for her grandmother to live as well. It’s definitely not a very easy life for her but at least she has her boyfriend Toto. Thing is, she feels like she has to decline his advances due to what’s going on. Paul decides he needs to find a way to fix things but he also doesn’t want to get her in trouble so he will have to tread carefully here. He also has to be careful because he is working with a maniac by the name of Malita who was the scientist’s wife.

I was not expecting the daughter plot so when it showed up it felt a bit sudden but I’d say that it worked well. It makes for a more personal note that keeps this from just being another film about someone murdering a bunch of people. You can also feel more sympathy for Paul on both fronts. One is the fact that he was betrayed by his closest friends and had to be in jail for 17 years. The other is the fact that he sees firsthand how this has destroyed his family entirely. It’s easy to see why he wants revenge and it’s a much better motivation than most antagonists. That’s not to say that you’ll be rooting for him to destroy them all but certainly you can see why he is doing this.

He even has a fun disguise the whole time as he pretends to be an old lady. It’s a nice bit of fun the film had with that and it does help to show how he is able to infiltrate all of the homes and get by the cops. Who is going to give an old lady a hard time right? His disguise is fairly ancient so there’s no way she could be going around murdering everyone. Paul’s just a fun main character that’s for sure. Malita isn’t the most interesting main villain though. She’s basically just insane and wants to continue the research but to what end? I don’t think she even had a tangible goal for it so I wouldn’t give her a ton of credit for that.

Toto and Lorraine are nice enough though. While Lorraine’s anger is misplaced it’s not like she actually got to hear Paul’s side of things. She’s done really well to support her grandmother during all of this as well which is definitely commendable. As for Toto, he’s a pretty loyal guy who does his best. I was also glad that he didn’t panic a whole lot when Paul showed up the way that a lot of other characters do. If I were him I’d still have blown Paul’s cover at the end to Lorraine though. Would have made for a much more complete ending.

I do feel like one plot point was abandoned though. At the beginning the scientist is working on having his miniaturized people gain free will. It was the one error in his research. I felt like the film toyed around with the idea that the girl had developed free will as she had been the latest creation. The film doesn’t really go that route though which I was surprised about. It would have been interesting but with Paul being more of a nice guy at the end I suppose it could have been a little tricky to handle. That’s why at the end you would then assume that Malita is just having the two dolls dance for her own amusement by controlling them but it seems like an odd thing to do. I can see why Paul was upset too since it’s a huge unnecessary risk.

Even though turning people small is the main plot you could easily get more engaged in the family plot at times. It’s not a strike against the film though. It’s just that the writing is so good that both plots end up being quite satisfying. The movie moves very quickly with its pacing so something interesting is always going on. I definitely found the film to be very solid. The characters were good, the story was solid, so there were no weaknesses her. At the end of the day it was just a very complete adventure.

Overall, The Devil Doll is a lot better than you would suspect from the title. It’s an engaging film about revenge with Paul still taking the high road at times. When you think about it he’s a lot more lenient than most main characters would be. The film tackles quite a lot to the point where it could have been a little longer and still been quite fun. Still, the pacing was on point and even the 3 villains get a good amount of development here. You can quickly gauge their individual personalities as well. If you’re looking for an old school thriller then you should definitely check this one out. The fact that the main character isn’t some random evil guy is already a pretty fresh take on this kind of flick.

Overall 7/10

Madhouse Review


Madhouse is one of those films that makes for a pretty engaging watch as you try to figure out who is responsible for a slew of murders going around. Its main weakness though is in how the plot only really works if one character makes all of the wrong moves. Switch him out and everything very quickly begins to change. Either way it is a pretty solid film though and doesn’t go for a whole lot of shock value here. You’ve just got an interesting adventure the whole time with a pretty surprising ending. You may not see some of the laughs coming.

The movie starts with Paul having yet another big film hit. He’s about to be on easy street and he is even getting married to a lady named Ellen. Everything is going well but then he finds out that she was an actress in rather mature work and allows another guest to bait him into throwing a fit. He takes a nap and goes to apologize later on but Ellen is dead and it looks like Paul is the one who did it. Unfortunately he doesn’t know what happened and thinks it’s possible that he did destroy her. This leads him to get some therapy on it. Years later his best friend Herbert invites Paul to don the mask once more and become Dr. Death for a TV show. When people start dying, Paul wonders if he may be doing this.

You can see how the whole mystery angle wouldn’t work if Paul really knew what he was doing. After all, the others can’t mess with him if he’s sure of himself right? You also feel like Paul should be able to recall at least sometimes what had happened. I feel like he cracked a little too easily which is unfortunate. He comes across as a pretty confident character otherwise. You also have to give him credit for not falling for any of the many temptations that would try to get in his path. Paul did well, he ultimately just couldn’t conquer himself. Still, Paul makes for an interesting main character at least.

He probably just should have gone with his gut and stayed home though. Maybe returning to films and shows would be a good thing but as Dr Death? Seems like a bad idea so thanks Herbert. Herbert gets a fairly big role here as well. He’s always enjoyed being a writer and it was his idea to reintroduce Paul to the world. He even gets Paul all of the old Dr Death films to he can rewatch them again to get into the role. He’s definitely quite enthusiastic about the whole time. You’ve also got a few other supporting characters like a director who helped cause Paul’s insanity in the first place. The two characters still don’t like each other at all but are willing to work with each other for the money. Then you have Julia who is the PR head. She tries to make sure Paul can get through this in one piece and sees to it that the media doesn’t hound him. She’s pretty good at her job and definitely has a more active role compared to most of the characters.

There are a pair of shady characters who have a backup villain role here. They’re not the brightest minds on the planet though. So, they’ve decided to try and blackmail Paul, a guy who may be a serial murderer. They go to his house on their own to keep messing with him and then forget their own bargaining chip in his front yard. What? Seems like a pretty bad idea since once he has this then they have no leverage. They they see him putting on the costume and still make the call to walk into his dark manor while he is not responding to anything they say. You can probably guess how their plot ends. They sort of came out of nowhere but I suppose it was a way to increase the body count without losing any more main characters so suddenly. They may not have been very smart but that still made for a pretty fun plot point. I was definitely up for having them in to keep the suspense.

A character addition that I didn’t think was necessary was Faye. She’s an actress who liked Paul but he would never give her the time of day. She ultimately sunk quite low in her despair and is a shell of her former self. She seems pretty crazy at this point and is super fascinated by spiders. It makes for a lot of disturbing imagery that’s for sure. I can’t say that her character was really a hit for me. As it was we already had quite a big cast all things considered. Still, it added another suspect which is probably what the film was going for. As it stands there were probably around 6-7 suspects here so you have to decide who you think the culprit is and that includes Paul himself. You may be able to guess the right person pretty quickly or you may double think yourself and choose someone else. Either way guessing is the fun part of mysteries.

Overall, Madhouse was actually pretty good. I wouldn’t say it was great or anything but I thought it was pretty interesting. There are quite a few deaths but the film doesn’t go out of its way to make them super bloody or violent. They just happen and each time Paul is left more and more depressed. His first yell was certainly something as the film even gave you a long zoom in. We also get to see the cops show up from Scotland Yard to take care of things so that was fun. It’s always nice to see them trying to put the pieces together. The whole glove angle was a fun little gag as well. The film definitely had some humor during this adventure. It never was enough to break the atmosphere and instead made for a nice ambiance. I’d definitely recommend checking this one out if you like murder mysteries like this.

Overall 6/10

Horror Express 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.

Whenever you have a mummy running around you wanna be careful since the heroes are in for a tough fight. This movie adds some tension by trapping all of the heroes on a train. It’s a pretty nice idea and with the body count growing quite high there is a real sense of danger. Unfortunately the film wastes quite a lot of its potential on going for a very gritty approach. The atmosphere is just right and the villain has a pretty interesting design but these factors are not enough to save the movie.

The movie starts by introducing us to the characters. Saxton has uncovered a rather big discovery and something that he hopes will further his research. He wants to keep this a secret though so he keeps a huge box locked up tight and forbids anyone from looking at it. Then you have the Count and Countess who are aboard this train as well along with a monk named Pujardov who is convinced that there is something sinister in the box. Then you have Wells who is hoping to have a relaxing time here. There’s also a lady who has seemingly snuck aboard without a ticket who convinces Wells to look the other way. We’ve got a whole slew of characters here but then one guy decides to open the box and it turns out to be more than he bargained for. The creature inside it is now unleashed and hungers for brains!

I’d consider the monster to be a mummy for the most part just with how he acts/looks. The whole absorbing brains part is more like a zombie though and then he has the stare of death which is like something out of Dracula. So they’re going for quite a lot with this villain and then the kicker is later on we see he’s from another planet. So really he’s an alien, but you could say that he’s an Alien mummy zombie at this point. You could use all 3 terms and it would still be pretty accurate so that’s neat. The villain can assume many forms and manipulates the cast quite a bit. When you mix in his quick stare of death you can see how he is easily able to overwhelm most fighters.

This is a horror film that loves showing everyone get murdered for as long as possible though. Prepare to see all of the characters get choked for a long time with epic zoom ins as they try to fight back. Everyone dies rather bloodily and there is a big body count here. We also see the characters run autopsies on screen which can be pretty brutal. The effects are on point but if you’re not a fan of scenes like that then you definitely may want to take a step back here. The film doesn’t shy away from these scenes and can definitely get pretty graphic.

As for the characters, Saxton is definitely quite sure of himself and has no real sympathy for anyone. He’s no hero so it’s an interesting change from what you would expect. I found him to be pretty fun even if he was part of the problem for the heroes during most of the movie. If he was a little more reasonable then things wouldn’t have gone this far. Then you have Wells who is a lot more heroic and willing to help out. He’s not exactly thrilled about this going on while he’s trying to enjoy the ride but at least he actually wants to help. He comes up with some good plans as well and helps make most of the discoveries on what is going on here.

The Count doesn’t get much of a role except to wave his death flag quite high. The Countess’ role is significantly larger as she gets very close to the action. Near the end it feels like she’s just running from zombie to zombie but she never fainted or anything like that which is good. You’ve got the monk Pujardov who cracked almost instantly. He’s definitely not someone that you want to have your back because you just couldn’t trust him to protect you when it counted. That’s the kind of support that you just don’t need. Then there’s the inspector Mirov who meant well. It’s always good to have a cop on board to try and keep everyone calm. At least he got a shot off which was definitely appreciated. Likewise you had Kazan who was a lot more extreme but at least threw a knife at the villain and even got a few shots in so tht was pretty impressive. just a little more and he could have won.

Of course, you do have to question how likely it is that this villain would be down for long. He is effectively living energy or a kind of being that is not physical the way that most are. I even doubt that in the ending of the film he is truly gone. These kinds of villains always seem to regenerate and try again in the future. Still, the heroes did pretty good. At least the fact that he has to body hop when the vessel is injured enough is a decent weakness since it buys you a lot of time to escape. The second half of the movie switching to more of a thriller on wondering which body was currently housing the villain was a nice approach.

Overall, There was definitely a lot going on in this train. The Horror Express is an interesting movie and one that is pretty unique. It’s very rare that you have a horror/survival film that takes place on a train. I’ll give the film kudos for that but ultimately it will still be doomed to a low score in the end. The violence can be over the top quite often and the surgery scenes don’t help matters. At times the film is just more focused on the shock value then on actually moving things forward. You could have easily handled this film a lot differently and would have come away with a superior plot. If you’re a huge fan of survival stories and don’t mind the violence then I would recommend it but otherwise you should check out a different option like The Green Slime.

Overall 3/10

Sinister Review

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

It’s time to look at a horror film that actually isn’t too old. I suppose the time is relative though, at this point maybe someone would consider 2012 to be forever ago. Sinister is definitely a pretty terrible horror film that plays out like you would expect. It’s certainly pretty grim and gets pretty dark right from the jump. It never really gets better from there but no worries, you do have your classic horror type ending here. That’s definitely a staple and Sinister made sure to abide by it so even if I wouldn’t give the movie a thumbs up, it does respect the traditions.

The movie starts with Edison and his family moving over to a new house. Edison writes books about grisly murders which were never solved. He figures that this will help bring justice to the victims who need it. After all, they died before they could do everything they wanted to do so at least now he could help put the villain away for good. This case looks like it’ll be a lot more difficult to crack than his last few though. The murders have some very occult elements to them and there really might be something supernatural in the works here. One thing’s for sure, Edison can’t lower his guard here if he wants to leave the place alive.

Well, Edison does everything he can to make sure you can’t root for him all that much. He literally takes out the beer bottles and starts drinking as soon as the first tape is in. He makes sure to mention quite a lot that he isn’t an alchoholic or anything like that but his actions don’t always match up. Edison also never seems to really follow what he is saying. For example, he says that writing books isn’t about the money or the fame and that he wants justice. Yet, all he can think of are the possible TV deals and such when discussing the book. He is actually quite obsessed with being famous to the point where it seems to matter more to him than the justice part.

He also lies to his wife right away when saying that their house isn’t related to the murderer’s one. Now, he words his response in a way where he later tries to say that it wasn’t a lie, but that’s a technicality at best. He knew exactly what she was asking and said the opposite anyway. Edison’s made life rather difficult for the rest of his family. His son suffers from night terrors which have gotten worse ever since they moved, his daughter had to part with all of her friends, and his wife is certainly not well liked by the neighbors thanks to all of the murders going around. It’s just not a pleasant environment. It’s one that Edison is certainly okay with but now that he has a family he has to include them in his considerations as well.

Edison also makes a lot of typical horror protagonist mistakes. For starters, while he doesn’t believe in the supernatural, he’s given a lot of opportunities to figure things out and escape. The kids start learning things they couldn’t possibly know, names they shouldn’t recognize, and his projector keeps turning on by itself at night. Shouldn’t this be enough for him to let the family know that something is up? “Best” case scenario is that someone just keeps breaking into the house and worst case is that the demons are around. Either way this is something that he needs to explain at least to his wife so that they will be ready. By not telling them anything then they’re just going to go down like all the rest.

The villain himself doesn’t really appear much. Based on what we learn from the lore and what not it’s basically a demon with quite a lot of power. While it isn’t able to possess adults very easily it can do so with a little practice. Beyond that it has the usual reality warping skills and slight of hand. Not the most imaginative villain out there but I will give him props for the costume. At the very least that one looks pretty decent whenever we actually get to see it appear which isn’t very often.

The Deputy was pretty neat though. He kept it 100 with Edison and was always trying his best to help. Edison might have actually had a shot to last longer if he had just listened to the guy instead of hitting ignore on his phone the whole time. Again, Edison really helped to wrap himself in all the trouble he caused. If he had listened to his wife earlier then nothing would have happened. Additionally once the supernatural stuff started to happen he should have clued everyone in. This is really just a case of Edison ignoring all of the signs until it was too late.

The whole gimmick of having to watch the tapes each time doesn’t do the film any favors either. Each tape is about a family getting bumped off in pretty violent ways. Whether it is by drowning or burning, they never quite survive. There’s no way they could have since the whole point is that the villain has been bumping everyone off for a long while now. In a way that makes the tapes worse since you know that they’re all doomed from the start so it’s not like watching them will change anything. Additionally, expect to see each tape several times as they cut to flashbacks quite often. You’ll know each of the tapes quite well by the climax because of that. With the kids dying in those tapes as well they’re definitely no good. There are a bunch of different jump scares in the film though so we’ll see if any of them land for you. I’ll say this at least, I was expecting the dog to die so when he didn’t I was happy about that. It sort of cancelled out though as a dog died in one of the videos…so there goes that. For every step the film took forward it took about 5 back.

Overall, Sinister is one of those films that’s pretty mean spirited and doesn’t really add anything to the cinematic world. Edison does the genre leads proud with how he misses every clue though. He is determined to crack this case and seems to think that he is tough enough to survive all of the scares. That is clearly not the case but I guess I’ll give him some points for bravery…or I would if he didn’t lose them all by running to the beer bottle and lying about it. This is the kind of movie where he probably would have been doomed either way but at least Edison could have given the others a chance. I also think it’s worth pointing out that the Deputy was able to notice things that the lead did not despite working on this case for a much shorter period of time. The Sheriff claimed that Edison was washed up and maybe he was right.

Overall 0/10