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

Arsenic and Old Lace Review


It’s time to look at a comedy/parody film from a while back. I’m always up for that combo that’s for sure. The plot is pretty out there but of course the unnerving part is that it may not have been all that difficult to pull off a scheme like this back in the day. With all of the characters acting rather insane here you’ll have to try to keep up and see who has the upper hand by the end of the film. The lead definitely changes a lot as things go on.

The movie starts with Mortimer and Elaine about to get married. He’s feeling pretty shamed about the whole thing because he was always a huge critic of marriage in general. He just changed his tune after meeting up with Elaine. After being married they’re ready to go to the Honeymoon but just have to go home for a few minutes to say their goodbyes and such. They live next door at least so they’re close to each other. Unfortunately, it turns out that Mortimer’s two aunts Abby and Martha have been going around murdering people. They have a sign that says room for rent and then any guy who walks through the door is promptly poisoned and buried. They have already bumped off 12 people. Mortimer decides to pin the blame on his brother Teddy who believes that he is actually the President of the United States Teddy Roosevelt. Complicating matters is the fact that Mortimer’s other brother Jonathan has escaped from jail and intends to make this his new home. Can Mortimer solve all of these problems in time to get back to Elaine and enjoy the honeymoon?

Mortimer’s character arc in the early part of the film is definitely the Hollywood dream. That while you may be a skeptic of falling in love and all you will eventually break once you meet the right person. Mortimer certainly didn’t last long after all since this was literally the first scene of the movie. I think being against marriage is definitely not the right play though. If you’re content to be single that’s one thing but if you still want romance without marriage then that’s a mistake. Being committed to one person for the longhaul is far better than deciding to stay free during the relationship. This doesn’t play almost any part in the movie though.

From all the plots, the one with him and Elaine gets the shaft. Basically any time she tries to enter the house Mortimer stops her or she gets involved with the murder conspiracy. Nobody’s really of any help to her when it counts aside from Mortimer so at least he helps out. He handles that situation rather poorly though. She has a point that they just married and he is already ignoring her and pushing off their events so that’s not a good start. Mortimer really doesn’t have any excuse for being like this either so that hurts him a bit as the main character. I think this plot almost should have been cut out or at least handled in a very different way.

The main plot is of course about how crazy the family is. It’s not every day you see old ladies like Abby and Martha just bumping everyone off like this. They were really on a roll with taking everyone out of the picture. I can’t say that I was a fan of them though. A more reasonable main character would have been able to win the verbal debates a little easier but Mortimer would keep on getting defeated at every turn. If anything Jonathan and Herman did better but that’s due to the fact that they’re total villains of course. Then you have Teddy who is pretty insane the whole time and never really ends up helping the heroes.

The cops show up a few times and I do like the younger one. He seems like a very earnest guy and just wants everyone to read his script. Nothing wrong with that although he does get quite distracted at times so he probably needs to show a little more restraint. Jonathan is certainly an intimidating presence here with the only character who is able to stand up to him being Mortimer. That’s one angle I would have liked to have seen more. Mortimer clearly doesn’t fear him the way the others do but they don’t get a lot of scenes together. Mortimer usually has to dash off to try and frame Teddy or something like that. The closest we get is when Mortimer is trying to blackmail Jonathan with the body in the chest.

Of course Herman is also a fun character. He certainly gets drunk a lot and constantly seems stressed out. He’s just as villainous as Jonathan despite being this timid though which is clear in how he still helps carry out these plans at the end of the day. Surely he would have put a stop to this if he had a moral compass. So there are quite a lot of characters running around here that’s for sure. The film is surprisingly long and that allows it to push all of these plots forward quite a bit.

It’s definitely a pretty fun film. In some respects I felt the writing could have been better but there’s enough funny moments to keep the pacing tight. You won’t get bored or lose focus during the movie, I can definitely say that. Surprisingly the poisoned drinks don’t actually get much of a focus after the first scene. That’s okay with me though because it makes for a solid red herring throughout the film. You just never know when the characters are going to bust it out. The best scene in the film to me is when Mortimer tries explaining to Herman how the main characters of the plays he critiques aren’t very smart at all. Did I mention that he was an art critic? Like I said, there’s a whole lot going on here.

Overall, This is a pretty solid murder parody. It’s definitely been tough for the town with everyone getting bumped off though. It’s a subtle reminder that you can’t just trust anyone even if they appear harmless. As long as you like a good blend of thriller and parody you’ll definitely enjoy this film. There’s a lot to like here and quite a lot going on. The constant suspense of hiding the bodies keeps the film interesting and of course you have to decide who to root for. The only reasonable option here is the cops since everyone else is either a murderer, accessory to murder, or trying to frame someone else for the murders. It’s pretty fortunate for Elaine that she wasn’t in the house or she would have also gotten mixed up in all of this.

Overall 7/10

The Lady Vanishes Review


It’s time to look at a very old school thriller mystery. It certainly goes down a few unexpected paths and makes for a pretty enjoyable experience. As with all movies where someone vanishes you do have to suspend a little disbelief with how this would have worked out at all. That said, the movie makes a better attempt to hide this than most do. At least we do have a few characters who saw things and for their own selfish reasons are just pretending that they didn’t. That’s more of a plot point that I can get behind.

The movie starts with some train delays so Iris and a lot of other people are forced to spend the night at a hotel. Iris is with two of her friends so it’s a nice enough stay but their upstairs neighbor is making a lot of noise. Iris complains and the guy (Gilbert) retaliates by breaking into her room and making a mess of things. Iris is pretty happy to leave but on the way to the train she is nearly murdered by a falling rock that was seemingly aimed at an old lady by the name of Ms. Froy. Froy is also taking the train to she gets on with Iris. Unfortunately after Iris takes a nap Froy is gone and everyone claims she was never there. Iris needs to find some proof and fast because this could all be a part of some kind of conspiracy.

Iris and Froy didn’t do a whole lot after they got on the train but enough where you’d expect a good amount of witnesses. They went to the cabin to have some tea and even had a brief polite spat with Charters and Caldicott so I’m sure some people would have noticed this. Again, we do have at least 4 characters who saw them but have motives for not saying. For reasons involving the twist we can’t count everyone in the car so it’s a limited pool. That’s why, while I don’t 100% buy this, the film put in a great effort compared to most. I can definitely respect the hustle there.

Speaking of twists, the film also did good by not letting you know who the true main character was for a while. In Act 1 Charters and Caldicott gets much more screen time than Iris. They’re too comedic characters who just want to know what’s going on with the cricket matches but nobody is able to assist them. It’s definitely not the most popular sport out there although I know a few big fans. As a result you expect these guys to be in the thick of it but when the situation comes to them, surprisingly they lie their way out of it. I was pretty shocked since that seemed primed to be their big moment where they jump in and take center stage. That was a solid flip the script kind of moment if I’ve ever seen one.

As the actual main character, Iris does a pretty good job of holding the movie pretty well. She’s a nice character and definitely a determined one as she doesn’t buy into the deceptions that Froy was never really there. I’m pretty glad about that because I always thought it was rather weak to believe the opposite of what you saw with your own eyes. Let’s bee real about this, if you see something then you shouldn’t be convinced otherwise. That’s one of those things I always have to shake my head at when it happens. Iris was also quick to get with the program when the climax occurs.

Some characters were not quite so lucky with this. When people are actually shooting at you then the time for talking is certainly past. You have to fire back and a few of the characters here were definitely super naive. That said, the climax was definitely a lot of fun. It was pretty high energy throughout and a lot was happening at any given time. The whole conspiracy was a bit bigger than I had suspected. The film was pretty low key for most of its run but I’ll never turn down a sequence of solid action scenes.

The main guy is a bit on the iffy side. Gilbert is pretty petty with breaking into Iris’ room the way that he did. It may have ended up turning out all right but it’s the kind of thing that would definitely not fly over very well if it actually happened. This leads us to a pretty rushed romance plot. Keep in mind that Iris already has a fiance so that’s pretty hard to buy into. She basically dumps him for no real reason. We barely even got to meet the guy which is pretty crazy. They could have just as easily written the film so that he didn’t exist and nothing would change. The romance is definitely not the best here but fortunately that plays a very small role.

I’d consider the writing in the film to generally be pretty solid. It has good pacing throughout and a nice set of characters. The film plays itself out a bit as an ensemble kind of movie with each character having his own plot and story to get back to. They all end up mixing together by the end of the experience so all of the characters feel pretty real. The movie doesn’t drag on and actually manages to capture quite a lot of story within the runtime. Mix that together with the explosive climax and you’ve got yourself a very satisfying ending.

Overall, The Lady Vanishes is a pretty solid movie. I’d definitely recommend it as this is a mystery film which has aged really well over the years.Some of the twists are still a bit unexpected which goes into how smooth the execution is. Gilbert does have a terrible final scene though as he ends up slipping on the most important assignment he was given. It’s one of those things that you just don’t do. You’ve got to at least make sure you get that right. Fortunately the real hero was ready to help as things could have gone badly otherwise.

Overall 7/10

Death on the Nile Review


It’s time to look at a mystery film. Both versions of Murder on the Orient Express were quite great. I do tend to enjoy a good mystery after all and a boat is a decent setting. It’s definitely not as good as a train setting but it’s close enough. This is a solid film although it can’t really hold a candle to the Orient Express. It would have been hard for any film to follow that up though and I’d say that this one does give it a good shot. There are a good amount of suspects and the film is fair in letting you decide who the culprit is.

The movie starts off with Linnet finally heading back home after being away for a while. She is quickly introduced as a very rude person who flaunts her wealth with no remorse. Her friend Jackie convinces Linnet to hire Simon as the head of the estate because Jackie and Simon are engaged but both don’t really have any money. This is a pretty iffy request if you think about it and while it’s not personal, that’s why you don’t hire friends. Regardless, Linnet hires Simon, but turns the tables on Jackie by quickly stealing him away. The two of them get married and now Jackie stalks them wherever they go. Linnet and Simon decide to get on a cruise to get away from her but Linnet is quickly murdered. Fortunately, Poirot was on the cruise and now it’s up to him along with Colonel Race to get to the bottom of this. It’ll be tough though since everyone on the cruise has reason to murder Linnet.

One thing about this film is it does take a loooong time for the murder to happen to the point where I’d almost consider that to be a spoiler. Still, it’s technically the main plot so I included it in the summary but if you go in blind it’ll probably be extra fun although you would suspect it early on. I think parts of the opening could have definitely been trimmed to get to the murder and investigation a little earlier though. We need a lot of the scenes to establish motives and all, but parts still could have been trimmed up some. It wouldn’t be necessary depending on the cast but most of the suspects aren’t all that interesting here compared to the first film.

The film successfully shows Linnet to be a rather mean person. I do think that her reactions were a bit extra the whole time though. Just having Jackie show up everywhere shouldn’t freak Linnet out each time. Just take it in stride already. I do have to question how Jackie has enough money to follow them everywhere though. She apparently didn’t have much money earlier and I don’t recall any scenes saying she inherited a ton of money or anything like that. These details are minor in some respects, but in a way the whole case depends on these two details which is a bit iffy. There are a lot of other things Linnet could have done that would have changed everything. I think in part that’s what also makes this a weaker case than the first movie. Everything has to go absolutely perfectly for the murder to work out to the point where it’s less believable than the events of the first film.

Naturally I won’t say who the murderer is, but when the method of the murder is explained it’s rather hard to buy into. It seems as if everyone on the ship was deaf and didn’t have very good eyesight. I can’t say much more than that without it at least hinting as to who the murderer is, but I wasn’t sold. Even considering that though, the film does give you a fair chance at figuring out the murderer. You just have to decide whose motive is best and also how well each of their alibi’s stick. Since every character has an alibi you get to determine which one doesn’t hold true. It’s a pretty fun mental exercise as the film plays out. So even if the ending may be a bit tricky, the case itself is nice and engaging.

Poirot makes for a fun lead. He’s definitely very confident at all times which is really good for a detective. Who wants a detective who doesn’t believe in his skills and gives luck a lot of credit? Poirot also enjoys messing with the others quite a bit and also likes a nice meal. He doesn’t let a bunch of murders get in the way of his appetite. Race makes for a fun sidekick as he follows Poirot around. While he may not be quite as quick to figure things out as the sleuth, Race is definitely helpful here because without him Poirot wouldn’t be able to just run around everyone’s cabins so easily.

Lets take a look at all the suspects now. First up is Jackie who has threatened to murder Linnet quite a bit over the course of the film. She has a gun in her possession and the motive is naturally so that she can be back together with Simon. Simon’s motive is easy, the guy doesn’t have a dollar to his name and so if he murders Linnet then he gets everything. The guy is obviously flighty given how easily he leaves one engagement to the next so maybe he’s found someone else. You’ve got Louise who has worked for Linnet for many years. Unfortunately for her Linnet hasn’t given her any inheritance yet to go and be with a guy who’s already married. Linnet tried to explain why this would be foolhardy but Louise wants her married man and may do anything to get some money.

Then you have Andrew who has been stealing money from Linnet for years. Now that she’s married it will be a lot harder to do so without getting caught despite the husband admitting that he loves to sign things without reading them. If Linnet gets bumped off then nobody can ever prove that he swindled the money from her in the past and he will be home free. Schuyler is an old lady who loves precious gems like the ones Linnet owns. There’s no way Linnet would ever part with them so perhaps knocking her off would be the best way to grab them. That would settle the matter pretty quickly. Then you have Schuyler’s maid whose family was ruined by Linnet’s father. This forced the maid to lose everything and work as a maid to a cruel boss. The maid refuses to even talk to Linnet.

Salome writes a lot of romance books but she is being sued by Linnet for some similar characters. Salome doesn’t have a whole lot of money and wouldn’t survive this lawsuit so one way to end things would be to take Linnet down once and for all. Rosalie is Salome’s daughter and her motive is pretty similar. If she can take Linnet out of the picture then her mother won’t go bankrupt and their lives can resume as normal. Jim is a guy who doesn’t like rich people very much and especially not Linnet. He mentions several times that somebody should bump her off so perhaps he nominated himself for that role. If he were to take her out then the world would be closer to being balanced once more. Finally, we have Ludwig who has been taking a lot of heat by Linnet for various treatments he has given that did not work out. Several of his patients have even died and if this publicity keeps up then he will be destroyed. The only way to stop her from talking would be to silence her.

So those are all of the suspects and motives. As you can see there are a ton of suspects here. Part of why the film is so long is that it tries to develop all of them. Some of the characters look real similar too so it can be easy to mix a few of them up. Still, the more suspects the better because that gives you more options and makes picking the correct culprit a whole lot more difficult. One tough thing though can be that at times some of the accents are a little tough to follow. Race comments on that quite a few times since Poirot loves to troll him by speaking in French. It’s always suspicious when someone isn’t talking in English.

Overall, This is a pretty fun film. The first half is a bit on the slow side but once the murder happens then the film picks up as you would expect it to. The writing here is definitely pretty solid. While I do have some issues with how the death ultimately occurred I still wouldn’t say that it is totally impossible either. It just comes across as very convenient the whole time. I had no other real issues here. If you want to see a solid murder mystery with a lot of moving pieces then I definitely recommend checking this one out. You can’t really go wrong with a quality mystery after all.

Overall 6/10

The Power Review


It’s time to look at a film about having powers. Similar to how characters love to yell “I have the Power!!!” there are some who prefer to be more discreet about it. That’s the setting for this film and it plays out as a suspenseful thriller. It’s a slow burner as the villain keeps on making little moves until the end of the film where the climax hits. Now, this is one of those films where if you think long and hard about it you’ll cringe at how nothing makes any sense, but that’s almost inevitable when you make a villain too powerful. It’s still a fun movie though and the ending was very unexpected so I’ll give the film some props there.

The movie starts with a government investor heading to a science firm to see how his money has been used. He is given the tour and this is basically a facility that explores pain. Every gadget in the building is wired to torture people in every which way. They get volunteers by paying people a ton of money although if you ask me it’s definitely not worth it to be put through this stuff. The government guy seems a bit unnerved but ultimately doesn’t mind and heads to the meeting. That’s when a scientist explains that he has proof that someone on the board has psychic powers based on a test he gave out. We never see this test in part because it’s a crazy concept in the first place that a test could measure something like that. If your IQ is above the max score that’s about it. Still, everyone agrees to do a quick experiment and we find out that someone does have psychic powers because a page moved all on its own. We just don’t know who did it.

The scientist is quickly murdered that night and Jim is the main suspect. Jim doesn’t like this but all of his so called “friends” betray him except for his colleague/girlfriend Margery. Together they are determined to get to the bottom of this. The only clue they have is the name Adam Hart. Looks like Jim’s going to have to do some detective work but he’ll have to be careful because danger can be anywhere. I mean that in a literal sense since the villain is able to murder people just by thinking about it and the heroes don’t know what kind of range the guy has. It seems to be quite large and the more Jim finds out about this Adam character, the more powerful the villain appears to be.

Right off the bat, let’s just look at the issue here. Adam has quite a lot of powers related to his mental abilities. He can cause illusions for starters and can appear to be anyone. He can alter your memories as well and even create solid light illusions to physically block you. Finally, he can give you a heart attack with a simple mental blast that can go through walls and appear from anywhere. As I said, the range is unknown but it seems to be quite long and there’s no defense against him since he can appear as anyone. So he takes his sweet time bumping everyone off but he could have easily taken them all out a whole lot sooner. There’s no real reason not to do it since he can assume a new identity and alter everyone’s memories so that he was always there. The guy is insanely powerful. The film offers up a decent reason for why he doesn’t finish off Jim despite attacking him several times. It only works a bit though, I can’t give it full marks there.

If we go with the reason that the film provides then that means Adam has some very severe limitations and that he is completely outclassed in some respects. It just doesn’t work because the psychic shields weren’t up yet and the guy should have tried harder especially since he already knew the twist before the audience did. I can’t really go any further than that but as I said the ending is quite excellent. It plays out a bit like a Shounen Jump title as we get a trippy scene of someone falling through darkness similar to many anime intros and then ultimately bursting out. This one does use some recycled footage and goes on for a tad bit too long but it’s still effective and the ending is quite brilliant. It also serves as a few twists at once. The way the scenes are shot just makes everyone look real suspicious.

I guess I can’t say who I thought was the culprit because just saying that would imply that it’s someone else. All I’ll say is the film gives you one obvious suspect and then a very subtle one which was who I assumed it was. Turns out that was not the case so the film did good with its misdirection. The writing was pretty solid in terms of script and pacing. Obviously the telepathic abilities are still an issue here as the heroes should have been completely wrecked the whole time but otherwise it was solid. I’d say the film just had a bit of a slow beginning as we explore the pain asylum. The place was really on the gruesome side. The first death was also a bit intense although after that it all stays rather normal.

The characters are okay although not amazing. Considering that they’re in a pretty hopeless spot they do their best. Margery definitely takes on some pretty dangerous situations and does a good of coming out on top. Jim makes fewer good decisions though. I still don’t know what he was thinking getting in the car with someone who he was being quite aggressive to the entire time and trusting that things would go well. That scene made him look pretty terrible. I also thought Jim was unnecessarily rude to the car mechanic guy right from the jump. It’s a bit odd as he is incredibly hostile to the guy before they even exchange a word. I guess they got off on the wrong foot. There are a few other members of the council of course like the friend who is quick to not have Jim’s back and then the German professor who falls asleep rather easily and doesn’t really help the heroes out. There wasn’t a whole lot the guy could have really done anyway though.

Overall, The Power is an interesting movie. Parts of the movie can be a bit slow like the whole party scene that goes on for a bit longer than it needs too. The heroes also sure do get distracted by romance a lot during a pretty serious situation. Jim is super reluctant to even look into a possible murder near the beginning of the film since he just wants to hang out with Margery. You know, Jim sounds worse and worse as I write this review so maybe he was just a bad character. While all of these factors keep it from being a very good film, I’d still call it a good one. The ending alone helps make this worth a watch because I really like how the twist was implemented. The murder mystery at its core is also pretty interesting as everyone gets bumped off one by one. If you want to see a paranormal hunter gunning after everyone then this is the film to check out. It is a unique premise as I can’t recall seeing another movie quite like this one.

Overall 6/10

The Medusa Touch Review


It’s time to look at a detective film. This one’s definitely a mystery that as it goes on you have to decide if the cause is supernatural. The movie has an interesting premise but it starts to drop the ball by the end and you get a little more annoyed with the characters. The flashbacks aren’t nearly as interesting as the present story either which doesn’t help the movie’s case since that is probably over half of the title.

The movie starts with Inspector Brunel showing up to an apartment after someone named Morlar. was murdered by a Darth Vader statue being smashed into him multiple times. The assailant is unclear and nobody heard anything because the land lord was busy watching his TV at max volume. Brunel isn’t happy about this but he decides not to dwell on it for now. He heads to Dr. Zonfield who was seeing Morlar as a patient for a while. Brunel figures this will help him determine if Morlar had any enemies and if this was a random crime or not. What he learns is that Morlar was fairly disturbed and believed he had supernatural powers.

As Zonfield recounts the various events to Brunel we see how Morlar used his powers in the past. He murdered quite a lot of people by moving cars and planes to ensure their demise. The guy didn’t really like people in general so he was always pretty quick to use his abilities. Zonfield was convinced they were fake even as Morlar continued to escalate his crimes over and over again. Surely they were all coincidences but Brunel begins to think they could have been real. Personally, upon hearing this fantastic story I wouldn’t have been convinced either. Mainly because most of these stories are just word of mouth so it’s hard to believe such a thing. For all we know Morlar was lying about most of those events.

As you can imagine though, the powers are quite real. I won’t reveal who finally had enough of this and tried to destroy Morlar, but they did a lousy job. Look, if you’re going to murder someone who has such powerful abilities then wouldn’t you make sure of it? The injuries would have been lethal to an ordinary man, but this person believed Morlar wasn’t ordinary so you’d expect a more thorough job. It was certainly convenient for the main characters I suppose.

The climax is also a bit tiring as a result since we see Morlar murdering just about everyone at a church and nobody wants to do anything. They’re all just watching and wondering what’s going on. The cops don’t want to listen and evacuate the place either for some reason so the body count grows quite high. The ending also implies that this is just the beginning and the roll will begin to rise even quicker with the explosion of a nuclear reactor. The heroes really don’t get much of a win in this one.

What holds the film back is how it all feels a bit mean spirited the whole time. Morlar continues to murder person after person with no real repercussions. Nobody ever does anything about it and I’d say that the flashbacks were pretty unnecessary. Even the Landlord wasn’t safe as he got thrown into this for some reason or other. Throw in the fact that he was basically unstoppable and it all feels pretty futile for the heroes the whole time.

Brunel is an okay main character. I do think he started to get convinced a little too easily though. He did a good job of trying to get the information the whole time although he definitely didn’t make things easy on Zonfield since he kept delaying her actual plans. He also seemed to slightly start getting interested in her by the end which wouldn’t be very professional but the film doesn’t really pursue that so we can roll on with the assumption that no such romance was developing. Zonfield was a pretty solid character who did well in not being intimidated by Morlar the whole time. She continues to press her points and resist his declarations that he had powers. She wasn’t going to believe so easily and she had more reason to than Brunel. Ultimately, once the plane scene happened you can see why she would believe at that point. There wasn’t really any other explanation.

The character cast is pretty small here. You’ve only got the main characters and a sidekick who’s also around. So this is a very character driven movie as we learn more and more about Morlar. The film does decide not to try and make Morlar sympathetic which is probably a good idea because that would have been very hard to believe. It does mean that we have a lot of scenes just focusing on the villain murdering people though which doesn’t make for very enjoyable moments. There isn’t a lot of fun to be had in the movie and the climax with the church being destroyed does drag on as I mentioned. The film isn’t particularly violent although those scenes do have some intense moments.

Overall, The Medusa Touch wasn’t a good movie. It could have certainly been worse, but throwing in an actual Medusa would have been a good idea in my opinion. It would have been a better villain. I would have liked to have seen more detective work in the present. The present scenes were the most interesting ones and if the film had stayed there more I think that could have worked out quite nicely. You could have a few characters giving Brunel the run around the whole time as he narrows the suspects. The problem with only having 3 characters for the whole movie is that it does make it very easy for you to figure out who the murderer is early on.

Overall 4/10

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Review


It’s time to look at a fairly recent horror film. You’ll probably remember hearing the name from a while back even if the film was pretty quiet once it came out. I remember thinking the trailer didn’t look so good and the film follows suit. It does its best to be pretty edgy and give you some stories that are both dark and gross, but the end result is a mess that I can’t recommend. It’s not the worst horror film that I’ve seen, but it’s about average for the genre. Average for a horror film is not very good overall.

The film starts with a group of teens deciding to get revenge on the school bully. For years he has tormented them quite a lot and so this Halloween they are going to load their treat bucket with things other than treats. When Tommy steals it they realize that they didn’t have much of a plan beyond that. They meet up with a guy named Ramon and then the whole crew gets locked by the bully inside a haunted house. There Stella finds a mysterious book that was written by the girl who used to live here before everyone got murdered. Now the book is writing a new story every night and the person whose name is on the page dies a gruesome death. Can Stella break the curse or are all of her friends about to be destroyed?

It’s a pretty standard horror plot. When you awaken an evil being from the past she always tries to murder everyone. The nice ghosts never come out to play, but I suppose it’s because they are always willing to move on. The main characters definitely aren’t the most sympathetic figures around though. Their whole intro is about getting revenge on Tommy and two wrongs never make a right. Additionally the film does its best to make each character as unlikable as possible. Auggie is always insulting his sister and Chuck can’t help but stare at her through the window. Stella is ultra goth and loves talking about all these gruesome murders that used to occur. Naturally the group would awaken a monster by breaking into a house and reading a book they shouldn’t have. The whole thing started because they broke the law and busted in the house after all.

The characters never really improve. Chuck is pretty bad from start to finish. He panics quite a lot and quickly makes all of the wrong moves possible. Ditching the other main characters to run on his own is one of the worst things you can do when someone is bumping people off one at a time. If you’re with someone else then usually you’re at least a little safer. I’d make the case that his death did break the rule of each character being murdered at night though, but why should villains follow the rules right? His murder is probably the most interesting one though and easily had the best visuals. The monster who got him looked like a legitimate video game character and was also one of the toughest dilemmas to get out of. Since this villain controlled space and time there isn’t much you can do. Certainly one of the scariest hugs I’ve seen in a while.

Then we have Auggie who is also pretty bad. He’s shown to be way too desperate the whole time and only slightly more mature than Chuck. His death was pretty awful in part because Auggie was given every opportunity to escape. It’s one of those scenes that exposes the film’s writing and nothing in the scene makes sense. Auggie knows that the story is about eating a toe and the heroes keep telling him not to eat the stew, but he does anyway. He doesn’t even look before taking a bite. The scene was terrible in every way possible and it’s just hard to have more sympathy for him at this point because it’s like he wanted the monster to show up. How do you still eat the stew even when everyone told you not to do so at least a dozen times? He hides under the bed and closes his eyes so afterwards he doesn’t know where the villain is. Great…

Stella at least has an origin story to explain why she is so into murder. Something happened with her Mom a while back which messed her up and with these murders being activated by her she is not taking things so well. Still, she’s just not much of a fun character and is hanging out with a pretty bad crowd. Getting knocked into the parallel dimension didn’t do wonders for her. By virtue of being the main character she does get a lot to do and is better than her two sidekicks but never really made it into the next tier of being a solid lead.

The best character in the film is easily Ramon. He’s actually a quality character who is trying to get out of the town without getting into trouble. He’s in the wrong town for that though and you feel bad for him when the characters jump into his car and get him into trouble. Ramon can take care of himself pretty well but there’s not much you can do against super powered monsters. He still lasts for quite a while on his own though. His backstory is also pretty sympathetic since it’s hard to do something when there’s a good chance you’ll be murdered. At least his decisions actually made a lot of sense from start to finish.

While this movie isn’t an anthology you could say that the murders follow that style. Each murder is pretty different as everyone faces a different kind of threat. The hug one was pretty cool and the Scarecrow was also intense. The guy probably could have handled the situation a little better but it was another reality warping kind of threat so ultimately it would all be futile. You still shouldn’t trip so often though. The guy was drunk which didn’t help matters for him. The monster under the bed was pretty hype as well.

The spiders was definitely the worst one though. That one’s more gross than scary with spiders that defy logic. I’d argue that it was probably the most vicious way to go with the hug being the easiest since it didn’t look particularly painful or anything. The film did seem to like its more gross plots though like the toe and the bag or stuff that the heroes used early on. The scenes are brief but don’t really help its case. The film couldn’t resist and gets quite dark by the end with the backstory of the villain who is murdering everyone. We get a pretty long torture scene which is always a quick way to lose a lot of points. I feel like almost every horror film has a backstory for how the villain became all powerful and it’s always completely unnecessary. Keeping that out of things would have been good. The film should have focused on the old lady and the dog more although of course that’s always risky. The film actually did good in not letting the dog get destroyed in this film. I was pretty worried about that for a while there.

The film tries to have an emotional subplot with Stella’s Dad. He doesn’t get to appear much but he seems like a good guy. He gives her a lot of good advice throughout the film like not going outside after dark but she never listens. It’s a pretty tough situation for him too. He’s not handling it perfectly but he’s trying. It’s a plot that largely gets pushed to the side though as the movie has no real time for it. In theory a sequel would explore this more based on the ending although that doesn’t seem like it’s likely to happen. I also think a sequel wouldn’t be needed if Stella had just written a few more lines. I can’t say much more than that for spoiler reasons but if you watch the film you’ll see what I mean.

Overall, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is basically your average horror film. I’d say that it has above average graphics as some of the monsters were pretty good. It’s still held back by the usual elements though like some overly dark details and terrible writing. The characters really could have played things out a lot better than they did to the point where it was almost like a parody at times. It’s all played deadly serious though so hopefully the writers were self-aware but it’s really hard to say. If you like horror films then you’ll probably enjoy this one, otherwise I’d recommend going back and watching some Scooby Doo features instead.

Overall 2/10