The Blue Gardenia Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

Bullitt Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

A Kiss Before Dying Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 3/10

Night Must Fall Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 2/10

Fallen Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 4/10

Shock Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

Cast a Dark Shadow Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

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