The Vampire Bat Review


It’s time to look at a really old film about Vampires. This one definitely goes pretty bold with the premise of this vampire attacking while the main detective doesn’t believe in it. It’s always fun to see a lead who is super skeptical like this because it makes for a nice contrast to the rest of the townsfolk who have completely jumped head over heels for this superstition. They basically become hysterical in the very first scene. The movie may be short but I feel like it still captured a lot and was a pretty fun experience. It’s a good example of why you always gotta keep your guard up.

So as I mentioned the movie starts with the town telling Karl about the vampires running around. The reason why they believe that the vampire is running around bumping people off is because each of the victims have the classic 2 fangs mark on their neck. The villagers point out that only a vampire leaves this kind of mark, not to mention that all of the victims have been completely drained of their blood. Karl dismisses this theory and runs off. Unfortunately the bodies continue to pile up. There is currently only one suspect, a suspicious guy named Glieb who is completely obsessed with bats. Is this too obvious? The town is ready to condemn him but Karl doesn’t want to be too hasty. After all, a man’s life is at stake here.

A good chunk of the film is really about balancing the mystery angle of the movie along with watching people get bumped off one by one. There’s a decent body count here. As always it can be sad to see some of the heroes go down because they were handling things as best they could. Unfortunately it’s just hard for everyone to be able to walk away here. The villain is pretty tough after all. I won’t say if the villain actually turned out to be a vampire or not but I will say that the ending at least hints that something slightly supernatural was going on. That or someone had a very big change of heart which could be possible but I like to think that this was not something quite so explainable. The climax itself could be a little suspect at times though with how someone turned the tables.

Karl is definitely a solid lead. He really does a good job of not panicking like the others. Karl likes to look at things step by step until he gets to the right answer. It’s a slow but methodical approach that really helps him in not making any real mistakes. He may not have a ton of character but Karl has enough charisma to hold the film. He has a very solid scene at the end which really helped him as well. The heroine Ruth isn’t bad. She’s certainly a lot braver than Gussie who kept on fainting as the film went on. Ruth made sure to hold her own with the characters even if she didn’t really go to the front lines much. There’s just not a whole lot to say about her as a result.

Then you’ve got Dr. Otto who is here to try and make sure that justice is serves. He isn’t quite as dismissive of the supernatural element as Karl but still thinks it’s something practical as well. It’s always good to have a Doctor on board since things can get out of hand with how many people keep dying here. I do think his idea to keep the windows open doesn’t make a lot of sense when there is a murderer running around though. Seems like it’s better to just endure the stuffy air in that circumstance. Better than being bit right?

Then we have Glieb who is the big suspect. The guy doesn’t make things easy on himself. He always looks really suspicious and knows about the vampire rumors but still makes sure to run around playing with bats. He doesn’t have a whole lot of awareness here and going to each of the murder scenes wasn’t really a good look. The guy’s also not that subtle with how he was trying to steal the fruits away from the table. The worst part is that Gussie would have given him some so why try to steal them the whole time? I definitely wasn’t a fan of this guy but I suppose you always need the “obvious” suspect to keep us guessing.

The movie really flies by so all of the plot elements occur pretty seamlessly. There isn’t a whole lot of action as the final scene is the only real battle moment. Still, the mystery keeps you engaged. It’s a very simple story but one that is executed well so it all works out. The writing is on point and it doesn’t go for any real shock value type moments. It’s all just about the atmosphere and watching Karl try to piece things together while being ridiculed and distracted by Gussie. She certainly wasn’t making things easy on him.

Overall, The Vampire Bat is a pretty solid film. I suppose it’s probably one of the first big vampire type films since 1933 was so long ago. It definitely beats most vampire movies that I’ve seen. Of course it’s going for a pretty different feel than something like Dracula but I dare say that it nails this approach quite well so maybe more films should be like this. Mystery is a good genre that works well with most so it comes as no surprise that it would pair well with vampires as well. Right from the start you have to decide if you’re on Karl’s team or not and that will affect how you view the rest of the film. The important takeaway from the film is naturally that you should always lock the doors and definitely do not under any circumstances leave the windows open while a mass murderer is at large. Do those things correctly and you reduce the chance of being murdered. That or get a guard dog, the dog did very well in this movie. It only appeared for a scene but definitely took charge.

Overall 7/10

The Heiress Review


It’s time for an old school romance film. This one definitely serves to remind you that trust is something that needs to be earned. If you’re rich then you end up with a lot of advantages in life but also some unique disadvantages. One is that you never know if people are being straight with you anymore or if they’re just watching your pockets and trying to get some money. You need to be aware of this at all times. People say “More money more problems” which is probably a saying from someone who had a lot of money since I don’t buy into that, but being rich certainly doesn’t mean you’re problem free. Oh no, you’ll definitely have a lot of new worries so in a way it’s a trade off. You may have to live a bit more of a lonelier life if you’re rich so you’ve got to be clever and discrete. The main character was neither here.

The movie starts off by introducing us to the family of Catherine, her father Austin, and her aunt Lavinia. The three of them now live under one roof with Catherine feeling like the odd one out. Lavinia’s had a very social life and just has a lot of fun in day to day activities. Then you have Austin who has built an entire empire although he is now old and getting closer and closer to death. Catherine has an inheritance of 10,000 dollars a month and once Austin dies that will go to 30K. The only issue is that right now she has no suitors. Catherine hasn’t done a lot to really stand out in appearance or in manners. This created a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy where she has lost all confidence in herself and can’t hold up even the beginnings of a normal conversation.

Time after time she is taken to parties but nobody wishes to dance with her or anything like that. Then one day she meets a man named Morris who is incredibly interested in her. He claims this to be love at first sight and wants to marry her that same week. He quickly pressures her into agreeing to engage and then get married a few days later. Catherine’s father Austin is not thrilled at this. He claims that Morris is a bounty hunter just looking to take her money. He decides to try and prove this to Catherine but she simply won’t believe him. Is it really true that Morris is just using her or is he actually a good guy? The stakes are quite here as she might lose her one true love or prepare for a loveless life.

There’s definitely a lot to say on this matter. For starters, this is why you can’t just fall for someone so instantly. I’ve never believed in love at first sight. I believe people mix that up with infatuation or a crush. Those things can happen in an instant since it’s purely superficial attraction. Love is something you build up as you hang out with such a person and begin to admire their other traits. There’s a world of difference between a crush and love. So even if Morris is on the level with his feelings, they come across as quite shallow here. The only reason he has so much sway over Catherine is because she is so desperate for love after being turned down for so long. She is quite desperate to be in a relationship.

It’s why you have to be content with yourself first. If you’re not having a good time then getting into a relationship is hardly going to change things. At most it’ll just tide you over for a little while but you need internal happiness as well, you can’t just be happy when someone else is around. It’s also a fair point that Catherine didn’t put in a lot of effort if she really wanted to impress the men around. There’s a whole lot you can do with your appearance to try and catch someone’s eye. Assuming that she simply preferred this look which is fair, she could have learned some talents. Dance for example is something she could have definitely studied and I also question why she was so slow on the uptake with everything. Catherine never seems to understand what is going on even if it’s being done right in front of her face.

While the film sometimes uses this as dark humor, it doesn’t really hurt her case. Either way you’ll feel bad for Catherine regardless. The film can be quite tragic and even if she should have picked up on some of the things everyone was saying, you can’t help but empathize with her plight. It may not be all that relatable but she does get crushed quite a few times in this film. That’s not to say that other characters don’t make mistakes though. I liked Lavinia quite a bit and for a while she was the best character in the film. Then she starts to get played as a sucker towards the end which really hurts her. I suppose you could make the case that she knows how this will end but still feels like Catherine will be happier. I don’t see why she would believe that though. It’s just not a good look there. I did appreciate the energy and spunk she gave the film though.

The best character in the end would be Austin. Austin was looking at things scientifically right from the start. He may come across as rather cold and aggressive but at the end of the day he was still looking out for Catherine. He figures it’s better to stop things now even if it hurts her a bit rather than letting them go too far and then having her realize what is going on. As a result he has to play the bad guy for most of the film. He does go a bit far at times like not being able to see any qualities in Catherine. If she doesn’t currently possess any skills then it’s his job to help her acquire them. We know that he has made a reasonable attempt at this but he could surely do more. Even in terms of looks he has wealth and means so he could take her to beauty salons and such. If he were more helpful to her during all of this that would have been nice as well.

Finally we have Morris who certainly gets a pretty big role in the film. He’s certainly bold if nothing else like his final scenes. You’d have to be living under a rock to really accept what’s going on at the end there. If anything I’m not sure the jewels were needed, but I guess to build up the anticipation further so there’s a bigger fall to rock bottom. I get the concept at least. I can’t say that I was a big fan of Morris from the start though. You really should never come across as too desperate and he seemed desperate from the start.

The writing here is pretty solid. The movie does a good job of keeping a sad tone afloat the whole time for Catherine without going over the edge with it. You’ll definitely feel bad for her the whole time and you don’t even need a lot of sad music tunes to get that across. There’s one section in the film where she wears the Sith Lord cloak from Star Wars and that was pretty intense. Her character definitely started to change towards the end and it made for a very interesting character shift. I wouldn’t have minded if that had been her regular attire for more of the film. It has aged pretty well.

Overall, This film definitely reminds you to play things close to the vest. If someone tries to rush you into something then you should think twice about it. The film has a pretty satisfying conclusion so it makes this a very complete experience. At times you’ll definitely wish Catherine would be more active or at least a little smarter but it is what it is. If you like a good romance drama film then I’d recommend checking this one out. The pacing is good and quite a lot happens here. You also get a few verbal debates with solid back and forths like the scene with Austin vs Morris in the dining room. Now that’s the kind of scene I would definitely like to see more of.

Overall 7/10

The Mad Genius Review


It’s time to look a a film from a while back that shows why you’ve always gotta stand up for yourself. If you just allow yourself to be a tool you’ll always end up on the losing side. Part of why this film ultimately ends up failing on every level is that the main characters don’t handle the situations very well at all. They end up appearing to be quite gullible and have low will power. It’s never fun to see them get tricked by the villains so easily. They just were not ready for the real world and it shows.

The movie starts off with Ivan deciding to adopt a kid. Ivan was never able to be a world famous dancer but he will make sure that Fedor will succeed where Ivan had failed. Things are going quite well for many years as Fedor is shaping up nicely. Unfortunately that all changes when Fedor falls in love with one of the dancers named Nana. Falling in love with a co-worker is pretty dangerous and usually doesn’t end up working out but that’s just how it went in this case. Ivan is determined to break these two up even if he has to use trickery to do so. Will he be able to keep Fedor as his living puppet or will he ultimately be unable to truly control Fedor’s life to such a degree?

To start with, Fedor is a pretty terrible character. Ivan’s a villain so that goes without saying for him, but Fedor handles himself poorly in every regard. Once he finds out about Ivan’s deception he quickly runs off with Nana which is at least a good start to what’s going on. That’s the right approach but where things go wrong is he starts sounding like Ivan and even guilt tripping Nana a bit. This leads her to decide to sell herself off to one of Ivan’s friends. Fortunately that guy ends up being rather decent to her the whole time but it felt like we went to 0-100 in an instant. Why couldn’t they just have talked things out real quick? Why did Fedor suddenly change overnight? He is a large part of why Nana felt so desperate in those scenes.

Fedor was also quick to believe Ivan and go back to being on his side. You’ve got to be a real sucker to believe someone who has made a career out of tricking others. Whenever Fedor showed up you could count on him to make the wrong decision. While Nana was a nice character she makes a lot of the same mistakes as well. She makes massive assumptions throughout the film and is too quick to ride the waves or go along with what the others are saying. She shouldn’t have even gone to meet Ivan the second time around as there is no way that could have ended well. It’s not so much a case of Nana being too nice as just being overly naive the whole time.

As for Ivan, he’s definitely one of those guys who quickly abuses his power as soon as he gets it. He allows his dancers to move up the ranks by giving personal favors. It goes against his entire motivation of wanting to have the best ballet. You can’t take his goal seriously if he doesn’t. That’s one of those things a villain just can’t do. If he can’t stand by his goal then that means it wasn’t really much of one to start with. Ultimately things start to catch up to him by the end of the movie but it certainly took a while for this to occur.

The Mad Genius can be rather slow paced at times and the weak characters don’t help matters either. You’ll struggle to find the film all that entertaining or interesting. The title also gives Ivan more credit than he is due as the guy doesn’t seem particularly intelligent. He could have very easily allowed the two main characters to be together and then they would have stayed in the show. By getting rid of them he lost his two best dancers so of course the show wouldn’t be quite as good. Ivan really didn’t think anything over particularly well.

Overall, The Mad Genius is definitely a film that you can skip. The writing isn’t all that good and the film can be quite slow. It feels like not a whole lot happens during the movie and with the characters making so many illogical choices it’s hard to sympathize with them either. The film also loses track of time within the scenes. There’s one scene where one of the ladies tells Ivan she will be right back. We then get a very long scene of a drunk Ivan talking to his partner, listening to his ideas and having an argument. After the argument they go back and forth a bit and then the girl finally returns as Ivan is leaving. That was a whole lot of time to vanish and didn’t really make sense. The film doesn’t really dwell on this though so neither should you. If you want a more interesting piece of media about ballet I would advise you to check out Princess Tutu instead.

Overall 3/10

Solomon’s Key Review


It’s time to look at a pretty big puzzle game for the NES. Solomon’s Key is one of the titles that looked pretty fun and I saved it for the end of my NES run. Outside of the more RPG type titles the NES collection is now done. Solomon’s Key is a pretty fun way to end off. There are a lot of puzzles here and it’s pretty fun to figure out a way to clear the level. Due to the nature of the game there are many different ways to clear the stages although I imagine that near the end of the game you’ll have to follow more of a set strategy. The game certainly does start to get pretty difficult towards the end.

The idea of each level is to make it to the key and then to go through the door. Both of these items are strategically placed somewhere in the level. Usually to taunt you the exit door will be right near the entrance so you know it’s super close but it doesn’t matter until you get the key. The way you navigate the level is by jumping and summoning boxes. You can make a box appear which you can then jump on and make more boxes appear. There does seem to be a limit to how many boxes you can create at a time, but it’s fairly high up and shouldn’t matter. Either way the enemies eat your boxes very quickly. In a lot of the levels you have to go very quickly but also try to take into account the fact that the enemies will definitely not let up as they try to take you down.

It’s a lot of fun trying to outwit the computers. You have to predict what they will do ahead of time. It’s a great brain teaser and I made it pretty far through the game. I didn’t quite beat all of the levels as I stopped around halfway but it would be a great conquest for someone to beat them all. The dificulty noticeably spikes as you go through the game. While the first few you could just power through with experienced platforming that just won’t cut it later on. One thing I would try to do is box the enemies in but that only works on the first kind of enemies. The rest of them slice through your blocks like butter so it’s almost pointless to even try. It can at least slow them down though.

The toughest level for me was one where a lot of statues are constantly shooting fireballs at you. It’s a straight forward level design wise as you just have to climb up around 12 stories without a ladder. Naturally this means you will be using your blocks but as they are getting destroyed right as you are creating them you have to keep using others as a shield. The difficult part is as you go up you can only make a shield on your level so they can shoot out the ground from under you. Ultimately what I did to get around this was to always create in sets of 2 and 3 so there would be enough ground for me to keep climbing up. It took a ton of tries along with different variations of the plan but ultimately I made it through. The game definitely feels very rewarding after pulling that off.

The graphics are definitely fun and pleasant. This is a game that has aged rather well. Part of this is because there aren’t a lot of assets or characters on the screen so the developers could really focus on the ones they did have. The core gameplay is also timeless since this is a logic puzzle game that anyone can get behind. The music is also decent although I dare say a little too peaceful. Throw in some electronic music or something a little more rock based and that would really help you begin to crack the code. If you ask me that would be the perfect way to give the game a little extra boost that it could use.

Overall, Solomon’s Key is pretty fun. It’s also longer than the average NES game with how many levels it has. You can really test your puzzle abilities and with the NES Access States so you can always save your progress and try more the next day. That’s something I’ve always really enjoyed about the online state. I look forward to more games being added at some point. I’m guessing we already have most of the games available but certainly there are some more out there right?

Overall 6/10

Clu Clu Land Review


It’s time to take a look at an old NES game that I actually wasn’t really a fan of. The gameplay is unique so that is always nice to see. I haven’t played a game quite like this one. The closest would probably be DK King of Swing which has a similar concept just with a completely different gameplay style. That one succeeds a lot more than this one though. Clu Clu Land is ultimately okay in a small batch but beyond that you need to really enjoy the gameplay to stick with it. Considering all the other games on the NES I wouldn’t really be spending much time with it.

So here’s how the levels go. You play as a creature that automatically flies through the stage. The goal is to turn the stage into an image or something. As such, there are hidden coins around many of the turns. You have to bump into them all to complete the picture. Since you don’t know what the picture even looks like at first your opening strategy is really to bump into as many corners as possible. Once you’ve got the general idea of the shape then you can target the gates that you want to pass. You turn by sticking your hand out and grabbing a pole and use that momentum to go in a new direction. You can only reach out one hand at a time so try to plan your movements a few steps ahead of time. After all, each action will need another one.

Additionally you need to avoid the enemies. A single hit will take down your life so you want to live for as long as possible. The lives aren’t exactly easy to come by after all. I liked seeing the various shapes that would form. Clu Clu Land definitely has really nice visuals that have aged well. I can definitely appreciate the difficulty of making so many images using only coins. The stages remind me a bit of Pac Man with how they’re set up. It looks like a very similar style at least even if the gameplay is different. The music is less memorable, but fast enough where it’s pretty fitting while going through the levels.

So in the end the reason the gameplay didn’t click with me is that it just didn’t feel like enough was going on. Ultimately all you’re doing it turning. While you can probably break many games’ core gameplay down into a simple structure like that, you still feel like a lot is going on. This game doesn’t disguise that quite as well to me. I think a lot of the appeal will be from seeing the pictures that you create which are nice to look at, but I need more. Throwing in some physical movement would have been nice. Maybe allowing you to move the character back and forth and then you only need to use the hand feature when you want to turn. Ultimately that would still be very similar though so maybe that wouldn’t change very much at all.

In terms of replay value this game technically has quite a lot. You can keep on playing the levels over and over again to improve your score and move on to the next. I assume the game basically has unlimited levels although I imagine there will be a point where they start to loop. At that point you can really say that you conquered the experience and it really would be pretty impressive. These games were definitely not a walk in the park back when they came out and certainly not today either.

Overall, Clu Clu Land is the weakest NES game I’ve played in a bit. I definitely wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s the weakest NES game or anything like that but it just didn’t work out for me. If you like the general concept then I believe you’ll enjoy the execution. The gameplay is pretty smooth and I certainly didn’t notice any lag or anything like that. The gameplay’s also a bit familiar so I believe I probably played a demo at some point like in NES Remix or something. I think this game would be more enjoyable as a minigame.

Overall 4/10