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

Murder by Contract Review


It’s time to look at a thriller film from a while ago. It’s a pretty interesting hitman story and the writing/atmosphere keep this movie solid throughout its run. The dialogue is pretty solid and Claude plays a lot of mind games with the other characters. I do think his first boss should have probably been a little more prepared for what happened but I guess in his old age he started to drop his guard a bit more. It’s not exactly beyond the pale for that to happen so I could see it as being pretty reasonable. At most the ending just feels a bit on the lucky side for the character rather than a decisive victory. I would have made it a little different like letting a shot go through instead to stop things.

The movie starts with a guy named Claude deciding to get into the hitman business. The reason for this is that he wants to buy an expensive house and his day job will never get him enough money for it. He wants cash quick and the easiest way to do it is by bumping people off. He quickly manages to get hired into this job and proves to be a natural. Eventually he is given a big job which will really help him earn a ton of money at once. He has to bump off a witness before he can expose the main villain. What Claude didn’t realize is that the witness is actually a lady named Billie. He didn’t want to sign up for a job like this if it meant taking out a lady but there’s no way back. Claude decides to complete his mission but it definitely won’t be a simple one.

Whenever you have a villain as the main character the movie has to take a bit of a different approach. After all, we can’t possibly root for a character like that. So you’re rooting for the cops to stop him even though his target is hinted to not exactly be blameless either. The film has to be careful with the ending as well as the whole adventure so things don’t go too far. I thought this movie did a good job of handling all the points below. The ending is satisfying even if I would have played it differently and Claude’s character is handled well.

Claude seems a bit crazy at times and tends to ramble on about things but his speeches are always interesting to listen too. A quality villain should always be able to plan things out well and in an interesting way. He may be insane but at least he believes in his own ideals. The film has him try to offer up some philosophical takes as the movie goes on. He does have a point that it’s a lot harder to track a hitman than someone with a personal vendetta since there is no motive to be found in his case. This was in the era before smart phones and cameras so it’s also a lot easier for him to go into an area and leave undetected. He doesn’t use guns which also makes things tricky for him although he clearly trained in how to use them as well. When he needs to use a firearm briefly he is able to make a difficult shot with no real effort.

So Claude was a pretty fun villain. Meanwhile the two guys watching over him were pretty solid too. George is always trying to give Claude the benefit of the doubt while Marc plays hard ball with him. They get a lot of solid banter throughout the movie and do have some points about how Claude makes this harder than necessary. Either way it would have been difficult to stop Billie though. To her credit she takes a lot of solid precautions and the cops also look good in their protection. They do their best to really surround her with protection at all times. I do think that it got a bit dicey only having one guard at the end though. I would have liked for him to have looked a little better all things considered. Their only real loss against Claude was due to Billie’s demands. I do question how they didn’t have anyone patrolling the surroundings after the whole TV attempt though.

Part of what makes the film work is that it can also be fairly light hearted in its approach. It has an interesting tone blend there as you know something is going to happen soon but until then the film stays calm. It mirrors Claude’s disposition here as he doesn’t seem to get very invested in anything either. He does the job and then gets out as quickly as possible. Not all of his plans are perfect of course. There is one instance where he decides to act rather faint and realistically I don’t see how this would work. It’s probably the moment in the film where you will have to suspend the most disbelief. It does make for a pretty intense climax though. It reminds you why he became known as such a dangerous person to be up against. At the end of the day he can take anyone out in an instance.

Overall, Murder by Contract is an interesting film and a pretty solid one overall. The writing is solid and the cast of characters are good. There’s one character who is pretty annoying given that she talks about confidential matters with ease. I have to blame the guy who told her as well since they only needed to keep the secret for 1 day to save a life. Is that really so hard? It was a bit plot convenient there but I wouldn’t say unrealistic because this is exactly the kind of thing that could happen at any time. So, if you’re up for a solid action film from the villain’s point of view as they plan a murder this is a good one. I dare say it would be one of the best in its genre as it’s hard to get this one exactly right. It certainly never drags on.

Overall 7/10

Double Indemnity Review


It’s time to take a look at a retro noir film. This is one of those titles where you should be rooting against the main character from the jump. He’s definitely not one of the more trust worthy guys out there and ends up making a lot of foolish mistakes. It’s a good movie though with a fun plot and a lot going on. I also always enjoyed the noir narration going on throughout the movie. That’s something I’d like to see make a comeback in the modern movies at some point. It’s just a fun thing to do.

The movie starts with Walter trying to track down someone whose insurance is about to expire. Walter always likes to stay on top of these things after all as he is one of the best insurance people in the business. When he gets to the house the guy isn’t there, but his wife Phyllis is. She figures him as an easy sucker to manipulate and she’s right as Walter immediately ignores the fact that she’s married to make a move. She reciprocates and lets him know that all Walter needs to do is help her bump off her husband so they can get rich off the insurance. Walter likes the sound of this and the two of them start planning. Can they bump this guy off and get rich without the expert Mr. Keyes finding out about this?

Keyes is the best character here. He’s always been really good at cracking down on criminals who try this kind of scam. Whenever someone submits a fake insurance claim he catches them in the act. It’s all because of the “little guy” who is basically his heart that lets him know when someone’s not being straight with him. Walter figures that he’s worked with Keyes for over 10 years so he can keep him in the dark. It’s a pretty high stakes gamble though but he’s already in it pretty deep and decides to go for the gold anyway.

So right away there’s no doubt about it. Walter’s one of the antagonists just as much as Phyllis. Only difference between them is Walter did it partially for Pyllis as well while she was just in it for the money. Walter tries to make a lot of justifications about it but at the end of the day he’s still pretty petty. His final plan was also pretty risky as Phyllis was one step ahead of him the whole time. He really underestimated her there and wasn’t even being all that subtle about what he was going to do. Closing all the windows and shades….really? He should have already known that Phyllis would be ready since the whole deal is that she’s pretty cunning.

The best parts of the film are definitely the cat and mouse games with Keyes. Keyes is always thinking up plan after plan to try and break down the story. There are quite a few similarities to Death Note here. At times Walter wonders if Keyes is on to him but is holding back to give Walter a chance to confess on his own. It gives you a lot to think about as you’re watching the film because this could really spin a lot of different ways. In terms of extra story beats, the only one I think we didn’t need was Lola’s plot. It makes Phyllis look pretty bad because of how obvious she was being.

So Phyllis was bumping off people left and right while trying on black to test it out? That’s the kind of thing you do when you’re trying to incriminate yourself, not when you’re trying to lie low. Lola ends up being a pretty big piece who could have blown the case wide open at any time. Instead she decides to keep quiet which is very fortunate for Phyllis but not very likely. At this point Phyllis bumped off both of her parents so what’ll it take for Lola to go to the cops? I think cutting her out of the film would have made sense. I suspect she was mainly there to give Walter some second thoughts about the whole thing.

Walter should have had second thoughts the moment he found out he was being the patsy in all of this though. He tries to play it off cool like most Noir characters by saying he didn’t care and all of that. I don’t really buy that for a second to be honest. Deep down he was hoping she really liked him and that was never going to work out. A romance built off of a murder is probably not going to last very long at all. He should have stuck to the content life of insurance selling. The company seemed really good to me to be honest and at least he had good friends. That’s not something he could say for after that. His final attempt was a bit odd but I guess at that point he was desperate.

Overall, Double Indemnity is a very solid film. While the main characters are pretty unlikable, you’ve got Keyes here to hold the whole thing together. Also, at least while Walter is a villain, it’s not like he’s portrayed as someone totally crazy that would hold the film back. He may be corrupt with all his justifications and all but at least he’s still got sound judgment which is needed for these battles of the mind. If you like Noir titles then this is definitely one to add to the books. It’s got a lot of different wrinkles to it and various story developments.

Overall 7/10

Doctor X Review


It’s time to look at a very old film. This is probably one of the oldest films I’ve seen at this point which is definitely saying something. Even though it’s from the 30’s it still feels pretty modern compared to some I’ve seen. It certainly has aged better in some respects than the original King Kong for example. The sound quality is definitely clear and the visuals work well enough. It’s definitely not going to remembered as one of the better murder mysteries but I would say that it was fairly decent. A little predictable in places to be sure though.

The movie starts off by introducing us to the Moon murders. Basically someone is going around and eating people in the dead of night. It happens whenever there is a Full Moon and unfortunately there seems to be a full Moon almost constantly in this town. The cops figure it has to be someone from Xavier’s institute since the murder weapon is there. Xavier is certain that none of his professors have done this but introduces them to the cops. All of the scientists are pretty quirky and have suspicious personas. Dr. Wells has often studied cannibalization and is fascinated by it. Another one doesn’t want the police around for some reason and the others range from rude to distant. The cops rule out Wells because the guy only has one hand and the victims were all strangled but are unable to further deduce who it could be. Xavier gets the cops to agree to give him 48 hours to run his own experiments and find out who the guilty party is. Will he really be able to crack the case.

Figuring out who the murderer is shouldn’t take you longer than 5 minutes once we’re introduced to all of the suspects. There are at least 2 big things that sell him out as the culprit. When you watch the film let me know if you spotted them. Still, the film keeps on going as the characters try to put the missing pieces together. Xavier’s idea to get everyone to a secluded place to find the killer is a good idea until you think about it. If one of these guys is the murderer then what’s he going to do about it? Most of the professors are quite old so it’s not like they could fight the guy off. This plan also has to hope that the murderer doesn’t make a move and agrees to strap himself to a chair. Additionally, the villain could also have the strength of will not to suddenly throw himself into a fit of rage after watching a play. The fact that everyone is convinced that the villain would expose himself like that is a bit much.

The main character here though is the reporter Lee. He gets a lot of screen time. He’s very earnest about his work but definitely is not the most skilled agent. He tends to bump into just about everything and makes a lot of noise in the process. He does show up when it counts though and the final fight is pretty fun. There’s a lot of back and forth as he gets thrown around but keeps on getting back up. His fire idea was also pretty good. I’m not sure about his rushed romance with the heroine Joan though. It always seems suspect when they get together after one of them just had their life saved. Almost feels like gratitude going too far. Movies tend to always have rushed romances like this though.

Joan was ahead of her time in some ways though. I like the fact that she actually had a gun with her when confronting Lee the first time though. You definitely should have a gun with you when confronting would be burglars. She also foils Lee from stealing some pictures for the newspaper as well which is definitely good. Keep in mind that even after this deceit and such she falls for him. On the flip side, she does panic quite a lot. Screaming upon finding the father in his own room was rather odd. The dialogue makes absolutely no sense in that scene. Then later on she is unable to move while the villain is getting ready to move. She was not tied up or anything so why wouldn’t she at least put up a fight or attempt to escape? Joan definitely froze up at the worst possible time.

Overall, Doctor X is definitely a slow boil horror film as they examine all of the possibilities. It’s a pretty interesting film at least even if you already know the answer. The suspense will really come from trying to figure out how many victims the villain will get before he is caught. Some of the characters can be a bit annoying though like the butler. He went quite overboard in trying to scare the maid the whole time and she certainly made it easy on him. You’d think that Xavier wouldn’t be tolerating any of this but he doesn’t do anything about this. If you’re up for a classic horror film then this one could be up your alley. It’s not the best but I’ve certainly seen worse and it does avoid the animal violence error. Even the actual murders are largely off screen or not really violent which is nice since you never know what to expect if a film’s old enough.

Overall 6/10

Try and Get Me Review


It’s time for an old noir film that serves as a cautionary tale for why you don’t want to mix with the wrong crowd. Once you start committing crimes it is very hard to get out of them. A lot of people like to think that they can get out as soon as they want to, but it’s easier said than done. It’s a pretty good film that definitely has a bit of a dark ending. It’s all handled pretty well and the film even has more acts than I expected. It manages the pacing and run time very well.

Howard is pretty low on money and has a hard time landing a job. There just aren’t many openings right now and he gave his last coin to his kid so he wouldn’t feel left out when everyone else went out to the local game. Howard ends up meeting an eccentric man named Jerry who offers him a job. Howard finds out that it is for an illegal operation so he half heartedly says no but after double thinking it, Howard agrees to help. He is the getaway driver for Jerry’s various crimes. Things heat up one day when Jerry murders someone. Now Howard is really on the hot seat and reporter Gil is determined to nail him.

The film really has two main plots here. First up is Howard’s plot with Jerry as they go around robbing people. Then you’ve got the secondary plot with Gil where he doesn’t take the crimes seriously at first. Eventually he figures out that this is the real deal and decides to run some hard hitting pieces meant to ruin Howard’s life. Gil has no sympathy for murderers and the town is in full agreement on this. The mayor warns Gil that he is riling up the people a little too much but the reporter doesn’t see any harm in this.

Howard is a character that is hard to sympathize with because he had a few easy outs. When he initially says no Jerry starts to get sarcastic and even tosses Howard a 10 dollar bill. Howard should have taken it and left. Instead he decided to stay and get rich in part because he saw what a life Jerry led. That was Howard’s big mistake. Then there’s also the brief affair with one of Jerry’s friends. Jerry had them go on a double date to fool the authorities and while Howard initially just went along with the ruse he ended up getting drunk and making a fool of himself. There’s just no real sympathy to be had for Howard by the end. He was really annoying and talked a good game, but always backed off when the chips were down. He’s not the kind of guy that you want to have in your corner because you won’t have him there for long. He’ll be gone by the next time you turn around.

Then you have Jerry who is the main villain of the film. He’s definitely used to this kind of life and has been a criminal for a long time. You’re not even supposed to feel any sympathy for him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has murdered a lot of other people over the years since I doubt his crimes always go well. He’s likely slipped up before and every time he slips up someone ultimately pays the price. He does a better job of handling the prison riot at the end though as he at least tries to put up a brief fight. Realistically you aren’t going to be able to do anything when attacked by a whole mob though. The only outcome there is death.

Finally we have Gil. His sub plot appears a bit at the beginning but doesn’t really appear again until the end when Howard is already captured. I was impressed at how the film maintained the two plots. The moral for his plot was a bit mixed though. Basically the film tried saying that her should have held back in his reportings and then the mob wouldn’t have murdered the two murderers. Sure, he wrote his pieces pretty hard but it’s not like he lied about any of it. Not everyone can handle listening to the news on a daily basis because of how graphic and intense it can be at times. It’s just how it is.

Gil’s doing his job in reporting and I think the characters were rather hard on him for that. If anything based on how unhinged the mob was it may have happened anyway. The guy Jerry murdered to which Howard was an accomplice on was clearly a very liked and respected figure. It’s not a crime that people would have a lot of sympathy on. It’s similar to how based on what kind of crime you land in jail for odds are that you wouldn’t survive back in the day. People would make sure you didn’t return. The law system can also seem a bit iffy at times with how sentences are dealt out. One of Gil’s papers was warning people that Howard may plead temporary insanity and then he’d be let go without a jail sentence. It’s something that people actually do try. Then you have others who are in jail for murder and when released they go right back to it.

The law’s not perfect, but nobody should be skipping due process to play vigilante. That being said, I just didn’t really see a problem with what Gil was saying. He didn’t beat around the bushes with his takes but he wasn’t using hyperbole or being too over the top either. It is what it is I suppose. Once the mob lined up there really wasn’t anything the cops could do. It would definitely be a scary situation to be in though for all parties involved. You’re effectively locked in with a few hundred crazy people and no escape. Even if you aren’t their target you have to be careful that you aren’t attacked in the mix up.

Overall, Try and Get Me is a pretty solid film. It can be rather tense at times and quite a lot of things happen during the film’s length of time. If you’re up for a good suspense film then this is a nice one to check out. We’ll see what you think on the matter with Gil. The ending is definitely intense and ends on a pretty somber note. The writing is solid and I don’t really have any negatives to report here. It’s just a pretty good movie that has mostly flown under the radar over time.

Overall 7/10

The Two Mrs. Carrolls Review


It’s time to look at a film about deception and betrayal. From the start all of the characters are fairly complicit in what is going on so you have to take a double look to see who you’re supposed to be rooting for. By the end it’s pretty obvious who the worst party is though. This movie has the honor of being one of the only films I’ve seen to have a kid character who is actually very likable. Trust me when I say that this is a very rare thing indeed. This is a pretty fun film and works well as an old school thriller.

The film starts off with Geoffrey deciding to have an affair despite being married. He meets up with Sally and this goes on for a while but eventually she finds out that he is married and breaks things off. Shortly afterwards Geoffrey returns and says that his wife died of completely natural causes so Sally whole heartedly believes him and they get married right away. The old wife was apparently very sickly and so this was natural but Sally begins to learn things that hint otherwise. One day her old flame Penny shows up with some guests including a rich lady named Cecily. Sally suspects that Cecily and Geoffrey are having an affair and starts to feel very sick every day. Is she about to meet the same fate as the original wife?

So one iffy thing about Sally here is the fact that she believed Geoffrey. Isn’t it awful convenient that the original wife should pass away so suddenly after Sally turned down his advances? She really should have written him off entirely because of the fact that he tried to deceive her the first time. You can’t have a proper romance built on deception so if she had done this then none of this trouble would have started in the first place. It would have been the cleanest way to end things right out of the gate but of course things don’t normally end quite so cleanly.

By the end Sally makes almost every mistake in the book. I think her worst scene is in the climax where she actually grabs the gun and has the drop on Geoffrey but ends up not having the nerve to shoot. Look, if you’re worried about murdering the person (which you shouldn’t be in this scenario) then just shoot the leg or in the chest. Odds are that one shot won’t be fatal and now you also get to live to see another day which is a pretty good bonus if you ask me. More characters need to try and consider this sort of thing. It would definitely go a long way.

As for Geoffrey himself, it’s always odd to have an antagonist as the lead. It can be an interesting concept as you see the villain’s descent into darkness or a time when they were the lesser of two evils. Madoka Rebellion and the Star Wars prequel trilogy are famous examples of that although for the latter “infamous” may be a better word. It doesn’t work for Geoffrey because there is no way you can sympathize or even understand where he is coming from here. He has no good reason to bump off the characters. The guy is just crazy and all the bravado in the world can’t save his character. If anything it makes him all the more fake because you never buy the act for a second. He was going to cheat on his second wife right from the start.

Cecily is the next lady in line and she is pretty bad. She knows that Geoffrey is married and wants to steal him away regardless. She makes her advances quite public and really doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Sally continues to invite her for events as well which emboldens her even more. Definitely not a quality character. You’ve also got Penny who liked Sally a lot back in the day. He’s not very subtle about the fact that he still loves her which makes him a bit annoying. If you fall for someone who is married then it’s really your obligation to ignore those feelings and bury them as far as you can. Being obvious about it is just being annoying and adding pressure to everyone around. He helps out a bit at the end but really does take a long time to do anything.

Tuttle is the main doctor who looks after Sally but unfortunately he is not very good at his job. He’s quite insecure and always loves talking about the burglar who has been running around. That subplot is unfortunately a red herring. I thought it would have been awesome if the robber had shown up to try and get Geoffrey near the end but the film didn’t go that route. Either way Tuttle will give you some pretty fun scenes here and there. The guy is a hopeless drunk which doesn’t help with all of his other issues but at least the guy always talks tough.

Finally we’ve got Beatrice who is Geoffrey’s kid. She’s pretty rational and doesn’t even talk like a kid. She likes using really big words throughout the film. At times you suspect that she knows more than she’s letting on but the film doesn’t go in that direction so it’s left to your own interpretation. She means well and Beatrice was definitely the best kid I’ve seen in a while. It’s probably not a very realistic portrayal of a kid, but it was still pretty cool all the same.

The film’s final scene is definitely pretty awesome though. Part of how the film’s murders worked was that Geoffrey would use the milk to poison everyone so in the end he offers the cops a cup when they come to arrest him. The whole scene is pretty tense for a second as you think the film will end with them thinking about it, but instead they give him a hard no. It was a solid attempt but I’m definitely glad that the cops didn’t make that kind of mistake. It would have been a pretty tragic ending for everyone if that had happened.

Overall, This is a pretty solid thriller film. It’s one of those rare movies that is able to succeed despite pretty much everyone being unlikable. Geoffrey is easily the worst character here as everything is really on his head. Sally didn’t help matters by not shooting and by pursuing a relationship with Geoffrey though. At least she was smarter than Horace who thought that blackmailing a serial killer was a good idea. What did he really think was going to happen? Blackmailing a normal person is already risky but someone who doesn’t mind crossing the line? Now that’s a bad plan if I’ve ever heard one!

Overall 7/10

The Night Visitor Review


It’s time to look at an old school horror that takes place back in the olden days. There’s a lot of snow everywhere and you’d possibly think that the film takes place in Russia. That at least would have been my guess as the characters also look Russian although the film was made in Sweden so that’s probably where it takes place. It’s not one of my favorite horror films and if anything I would have to give it a thumbs down here. Right away the film starts digging some holes and by the end of the film it is 6 feet under.

The movie starts off by showing Salem travelling through the snow until he ultimately reaches his destination which is the family’s house. He was sent to an asylum a long time ago for insanity, but has escaped to gather his revenge. We learn during the film that his stay there was orchestrated by the family. Was it Emma, Esther, Anton, or all 3 of them? Each character has some justifications for their actions which amount to nothing more than their greed for money and power. Salem intends to finish them all off and the only defense against him is a young police officer who isn’t the smartest chip around and the old boss who isn’t what he used to be.

You can see why the family is doomed. No worries, the film makes sure to show you repeatedly why none of them are characters you should be rooting for. Alton is guilty of this whole mess and even worse, he tries to murder the parrot merely for speaking the truth. It doesn’t help that the bird looked a lot like my Green Cheeked Conure from back in the day so that definitely meant that Anton had no chance for mounting a comeback at this point. The character was just absolutely terrible and also not that realistic. I know it’s a common theme for the villains to actually be cowards. The irony and all that. It’s just too extreme when the guy literally faints just from seeing Salem. He can’t do anything right and the guy isn’t even remotely clever when dealing with the cops. How he managed to survive this long without dying of stress is beyond me.

Then you have Esther who is also fairly manipulative. For a good chunk of the film she tries to act fairly innocent, but by the end that guise starts to fall apart. She’s probably the boldest of the villains as she actually faces off with Salem and even tries to murder him. That plan was ultimately a little too bold though. She’s fairly strong considering her build, but in a fist fight with someone who is crazed with revenge that just isn’t going to cut it. She didn’t have a whole lot of options at this point, but antagonizing him did not help. Emma’s role is a lot smaller than the other two so you can probably guess what that means. She’s just another villain trying to get away with wrecking lives.

2 wrongs don’t make a right though and none of this makes Salem any more likable. His very first scene where he murders someone completely destroys his character because he goes down the skeevy route of possibly using the victim a bit before finishing her off. That also wrecked the movie right from the start as well. A slasher film is already dark enough, you really don’t need to introduce any more themes at that point. Likewise for the repeated attempts at animal violence. The bird managed to dodge all of Anton’s attempts fortunately but it was still no fun seeing the guy throw things at him and such. I’m sure the bird was pretty scared during all of that.

What did this film even do right? Not really much of anything to be honest. The Night Visitor doesn’t even succeed on a technical level as the snow backdrops don’t work for me. There just isn’t much to look at. The film isn’t very long, but since it’s pretty predictable that doesn’t work in its favor either. Throw in the completely unlikable cast and you’ve got yourself a problem. The best character by default is probably the police chief’s sidekick. The guy falls for every trick in the book and definitely isn’t ready to be the main police officer, but at least he tries. That’s more than you can say for a bunch of these characters in most horror films. I didn’t mind the main police officer too much, but he had less personality and took forever to really do anything.

I’m afraid that the film also fumbles with the premise as well since it all boils down to whether or not you believe that Salem can escape a jail, murder some people, and then run back in before nobody notices. I don’t buy this premise. It’s not like this is a silent endeavor and there would be so many tracks. He has to throw his rope just to make it around and as we saw in the opening scenes of the movie, it’s a very long route to the house. There’s no way you’re going to make the rounds and be back in your cell before time is up. We can assume that the guards are slacking and don’t check, but it’s all incredibly convenient for Salem. He’s also crossing this snowy wasteland in shorts and still has enough strength left to take everyone down. Adrenaline is a powerful thing, but he should have died of pneumonia by the end.

Overall, The Night Visitor is really a cautionary tale about how your past crimes will catch up to you at some point. Perhaps not as dramatically as in this film but it is true that you will always answer for your crimes in the end. These kind of revenge stories don’t really work though as the character might win out in the end but by then everyone is so steeped in darkness that it’s a case of winning the battle but losing the war. In general I rarely care for slasher films as it is, but this one really didn’t do anything to try and change that. It just went with the waves and sputtered out. If you want to watch a good horror title, check out something like Zombie Island instead.

Overall 1/10

Pretty Poison Review


It’s time to look at the film known as Pretty Poison. I actually did review this film once, but my whole review got deleted so this is version 2. I’m not sure exactly why it didn’t save, I’m thinking somehow I lost signal so the transfer didn’t go through or it got archived somehow. It’s happened to me in the past, but it’s been a while. Usually I also keep a copy offline just in case until I see it go through, but I had seen it in my gmail so I thought it went through. I dunno, tech can be a little weird sometimes. Regardless, reviewing the same thing twice was an interesting exercise.

The film starts off with Dennis meeting with his probation officer Morton. Morton lets him know that Dennis now has a job at a chemical company and so he should be good to go. Just keep in touch for a while. Dennis already seems a little crazy but agrees and then quickly stops making contact. Once in the area he meets up with a girl named Sue Ann and decides to recruit her to his cause.

Dennis is convinced that he is a foreign agent meant to shut down various companies in the US. He tells Sue Ann that he is from the CIA though and his first act of terrorism will be to sabotage the chemical plant where he works. Yes…the main character is literally a terrorist and targeting the place where he works at almost right after joining makes it all so obvious that you have to wonder what his plan is. Most likely he doesn’t have a plan, but things take a turn for the worse when it turns out that Sue Ann is even worse than he is. She just wants to watch the world burn and is ready to murder as many as it takes.

This movie has a lot wrong with it. One of the primary factors here is the weak main cast. First you’ve got Dennis who is just a terrible lead. The guy’s not heroic in the slightest and his delusional fantasies turn him into a complete villain. There’s nobody to root for here and his final decisions in the movie make no sense. The final scenes have him refusing to state his side of the story and he doesn’t co-operate with the cops at all. It’s some misguided passion to let others die as he says that the poison was pretty. It’s a metaphor for how nobody will understand how evil this person is until they’re stung, but then he is simply accepting the fact that there will be more victims. He’s not helping anyone so that just makes him part of the problem. After all if you aren’t stopping evil then you are aiding it. You’re never given the impression that he was ever trying to help the heroes either which just makes things even worse.

Then you have the main villain Sue Ann who definitely isn’t a likable character either. The whole point of her character is that she is even worse than Dennis after all so this likely won’t come as any kind of real surprise. It’s just how it is and the romance plot between her and Dennis was also doomed from the start. It’s not a well developed romance with both of them using each other the whole time. Dennis is really slow on the uptake here.

Then you’ve got Morton who was the parole officer, but never really did a good job of reigning in Dennis. From the start Dennis breaks the laws and his probation so I would have liked for Morton to have gone after him a little more. You gotta do something when the rebellion is so open the way that it was here. If Dennis had at least made the effort to look like he was going to change then that’s different. Instead he basically just threatens Morton and somehow the guy decides to look the other way. I dare say that this makes him at least indirectly responsible for some of the damage that happens later on.

There’s really nothing good about this film and it’s a crawl from start to finish. A good chunk of this film is really just about showing how delusional Dennis is and how out of his depth he is as well. It’s all played seriously so it’s not even a comedic plot where you can mock Dennis for not being able to keep up the act once Sue Ann really starts testing him. She really figures him out pretty early on if you ask me. The ending of the film can be interpreted a few different ways. Sue Ann definitely isn’t going to stop taking people down, but the latest guy seems obviously shady as well. I can see them both bumping each other off so it’ll probably all depend on who goes out first.

Ideally the cops will have figured all of this out by then though. While Sue Ann got rid of a lot of the evidence there should still be some things that pop up eventually. Her finger prints would be all over the bodies, even the guard who was drowned unless the water gets rid of it. I don’t know exactly how all that works, but I feel like some evidence should still remain. If not….well I guess the town is basically doomed.

Overall, Pretty Poison is definitely one of those films that you will want to completely sidestep. It’s a pretty dark film that doesn’t have good pacing and gives you nobody to root for. The romance is one of the worst that I’ve seen in quite a while. You’ll be checked out early on and the title will become pretty obvious near the start so you don’t even have that to keep you engaged. I think what could have helped the film would have been if Dennis actually wasn’t insane and aliens ended up arriving near the middle of the film, but I suppose this would be a very different kind of movie at that point.

Overall 1/10

Julie Review


It’s time to look at another film with an annoying main character. This one’s not the worst lead or anything, but she does seem to be incredibly naive and not one of the smartest leads out there. Still, when it was crunch time Julie did her best to stand up to the danger. This is a pretty good thriller that builds up to a nice climax. You will need to suspend a lot of disbelief of course, but that’s to be expected.

The film starts with Julie running to her car after her husband Lyle had another public episode of getting upset over her. He gets violently dangerous whenever a guy even talks to Julie. She gets in the car and warns Lyle that maybe they can’t be together anymore. He responds by forcing her to drive the car at max speed for a while and they nearly fall off a cliff. He then warns her that it was an accident and he’s sorry about it. Another way to think of it is that these accidents will occur more and more unless she stops talking to other men. Julie is surprisingly fine with this so then her friend Cliff shows up and reminds Julie that Lyle is a dangerous murderer. Lyle murdered her first husband and will stop at nothing to claim her. Julie must now escape from Lyle and try to establish a new identity, but Lyle seems to be around every corner. Can she possibly shake such a skilled stalker or is this the end for her?

A situation like this is always pretty tough to escape from and Julie’s first actions don’t help matters. See, you’ve usually got just one shot to get out because after that the guy will suspect something. So Julie tries to leave first thing in the morning, but Lyle is already up so she has to make a ton of excuses to leave. He doesn’t buy any of them but decides to pretend to leave to see what she’ll do. Here’s where Lyle slipped up since he damages her car but goes so far away that she is able to run to town. (Thanks in part to hitch hiking) From there the film is mainly about Julie running from place to place and trying to stay ahead of him.

This is where it’s a little hard to buy that Lyle is following her everywhere. He finds out what state she is in, which hotel, etc. The film does try to give reasons for how he finds these things out like by asking operators for her place or just deducing which state she would likely flee to. At the same time, you still can’t help but feel a little skeptical at times. Julie used a pseudonym for these journeys and there are still a lot of hotels in each state. Just knowing what state Julie is in wouldn’t be enough for Lyle to find her so easily. The whole time I figured that Cliff was a traitor leaking info to Lyle or just a villain who wanted Julie for himself. It’s good that Julie did actually have an ally, but at the same time it did mean that it was harder to buy into the Lyle scenes.

Meanwhile, while Julie may not have been the best character, you could still root for her. As far as villains go Lyle definitely wasn’t anything special. He’s one of those petty villains who just wants Julie at any cost. You really can’t even like him as a villain because his motivations aren’t solid and there’s nothing interesting about him. Also, since Julie was 100% fooled if he had just played the part of the nice guy they could have actually been together. When the villain creates his own problems then that just makes him even worse.

As for Cliff, he is a good guy. His arc really didn’t go as I expected it to, but at the end of the day I can’t hold that against him. He probably could have handled some of the early situations a little better though. He was being pretty obvious with Julie in front of Lyle, but at the same time it was imperative that he convince her of the truth right away so in that sense his plan worked. He also did at least try to escape when he was held hostage although I dare say that going for the gun is always the best move in that situation. I dare say that it’s best to make a final lunge and attack the guy with the gun rather than getting in the car. Once you’re in the car your chances of survival are close to 0 unless you’re in an action film. So, even if you might die during the charge your odds are better. Trust me, getting in the car is never the right move.

Unfortunately the film does end on a bit of a whimper. It probably has one of the worst climaxes that I’ve seen in a very long time. Nothing happens for a long period of time and what should have been a very thrilling plane sequence ends up feeling rather dull. You’re just sort of waiting for the film to get on with it. Whatever the idea was for the ending it simply should have gone with a different option. I did like the tension on the plane before this, but it all doesn’t play out as you’d hope. I also felt bad for the pilot who was doing a good job the whole time, but faltered at the very end.

Overall, the script is pretty solid and the film will definitely keep you engaged all the way through. It’s a pretty classic thriller and definitely one that holds up. It actually grabs a lot of the beats that you might see in a modern film even if the effects don’t allow for it to go all the way with big car chases or anything like that. Of course, how much you enjoy the film will probably depend on how the first half affects you. Julie is just a very tough lead since she isn’t very sharp which can make it a whole lot harder to root for her. Still, I think you’ll be fine and while it’s not a great thriller, it’s a solid one nonetheless.

Overall 6/10

Double Jeopardy 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 murder thriller from a little while back. The concept of Double Jeopardy is definitely an interesting one. I get the feeling that there is a little more to it than what the film would have you believe, but it certainly works for the premise. Of course, that’s part of the problem. The film keeps building up to this but we ultimately don’t really get to see it in action. I was expecting the heroine to use it to her advantage but in the end it feels like more of a red herring/missed opportunity.

The film starts with Libby and her husband Nick finally getting ready to take the voyage they had been planning for a while. Unfortunately after Libby goes to bed she wakes up to find that he is seemingly dead. (No body tho) The cops arrest her and blame her for the murder. There’s way too much evidence for this to be an accident and that’s when Libby finds out that Nick faked his death so he could go live with her best friend. Libby’s kid is also with them naturally so she swears revenge against him. Another inmate lets her know that because of double jeopardy she can go destroy Nick now since she already did so once and can’t be tried again. After 6 years Libby is out of prison and ready to begin the hunt. Unfortunately, officer Travis is on her tail so Libby’s really gonna need to hurry here.

Naturally it’s tough to track someone down when you haven’t seen them in years and there’s no handy Google to check things out. Fortunately Libby is pretty good at social engineering and quickly begins to break the human element that always fails the various computer systems and works her way to Nick. She’s definitely very determined in that goal and makes for a fun lead. Libby’s tough and to the point, definitely well ahead of her time as far as protagonists go. She does get a bit iffy towards the end though which is where the writing drops the ball. So at one point she finally finds Nick. At this point there is no reason why Libby shouldn’t just shoot him. Keep in mind that she’s not a super hero or anything like that. Libby’s here for her kid and could care less about the rest. The justice system failed her so she wants to make things right. By that logic shooting Nick is the quickest way to end things. She can easily prove that he was her old husband after that through photos and then she would get her kid.

I suspect that her kid is the only excuse as to why she wouldn’t do that, but logically it would all work out. Just take Nick down and you’re good. Instead she falls for one of the most obvious tricks in cinema and then gets tricked a second time in the climax. It was hard to watch this because she had been looking so good for quite a while to slip up like that. It’s a shame, but I guess the character couldn’t be perfect. She’s far and away the best character in the film despite this though as you can only be so hard on her for making these mistakes.

Then you have Travis who certainly isn’t having a fun time. He gets beat up by his own captive and then is playing catch up for the rest of the film. He’s a bit slow on the uptake but ultimately does try to look into the situation so I’ll give him some credit there. He is a fun character and while the characters give him a hard time for not giving someone a second chance, he made it crystal clear from the start that they were already on their last shot. Miss the curfew and it’s back to prison for you. He’s also pretty sloppy towards the end of the film though. I guess maybe the lighting messed with them all or he popped off too soon thinking the case was over.

Finally you’ve got the main villain Nick. He’s pretty much your average rich villain. The guy switched identities twice which is impressive enough and goes farther than you’d expect. Still, nothing much to like about his character. He just wanted to escape the taxes and all of his excuses are pretty fake. I do also have to wonder how he was able to escape so smoothly in both cases. I get that everything was more lax back in the day, but in all 3 identities he kept the same exact job and status. Didn’t anyone in those fancy art circles recognize him? You’d think that they would.

Before Nick’s death the film tries to sell you on what a good guy he is, but you’d likely know the premise of the film so it doesn’t work. Even if you don’t, the film lays the seeds of doubt early on as he jokes with the friend that Libby won’t like the truth when she finds out. There’s a lot of dialogue between the words hinting at his cheating the whole time. As such, we could have cut down on the romance scenes early on as they don’t add to anything. If the film was determined to try and show us that Nick was a good guy for a while, maybe show scenes with people in the neighborhood saying what a great guy he was. Otherwise he just seems like a corrupt rich guy from the start.

Overall, Double Jeopardy is a pretty decent thriller, but really missed the whole point of its title by not actually utilizing Double Jeopardy intentionally by the main heroine. She should have shot him in the middle of the big parade to prove the point or something like that. Instead the law never really gets taken into effect as the ending can still be considered self defense. Still, that aside it’s solid. The opening is a bit slow but things pick up once she’s on the hunt. The story of the lone vigilante is always an enticing one and this film handles it well. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I recommend checking it out once it’s on TV again. Once she’s in jail the film really starts.

Overall 7/10