Dracula Has Risen from the Grave Review

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It’s time for another Dracula film. This series has never been particularly good and this one is no exception. Dracula’s a joke and everyone knows it. Even the poster knows this. Look at his facial expression above and tell me that this is a serious villain. He died from falling in a pool of water in the last film! This guy is played for laughs at times and if he is meant to be completely serious then that’s almost sad. Anyway, this film does nothing unique and instead just goes through the motions without doing anything cool or interesting. It’s definitely a very forgettable film and one that will soon blend in with the rest. There’s just nothing to really like here but it is always surreal to see some of the choices that the main characters make. Needless to say they were not prepared for a fight like this.

The film starts off with Dracula murdering someone and we then cut to the present where Ernest walks into that town. Everyone is still afraid of Dracula because while he may be dead at the moment, his aura is still enough to corrupt everything that it reaches. It apparently even gets into the Church so everyone just hangs around the bar now. Ernest laughs at them and runs over to Dracula’s castle which he seals with the Cross. Unfortunately, the drunk pastor who had been following him trips and breaks Dracula out of his tomb of ice. Dracula then decides to team up with this guy so they can get revenge on Ernest by getting his nephew, Maria. Will their nefarious plan succeed?

Dracula has just never been a good concept for a film. I still stand by that today. The writing is often terrible for these films and they just heavily rely on shock value the entire time. The heroes also never manage to stop him before he bites the main heroine so they’re simply too late. The fact that his victims all crumble into quivering children when faced with his power is also annoying. They’ll just start fainting and running away while in his presence which is not really the kind of thing you want to see from characters who are supposed to have strong wills. The pastor guy was drunk and apparently spineless from the start though so I suppose I shouldn’t use him as a base to judge anything.

Still, the characters are really annoying. First off we’ve got our lead Paul. He wants to leave a good impression with Maria’s folks since he is supposedly serious about her, but that doesn’t stop him from passing through the bar and deciding to drink a little. Naturally this doesn’t end well and he messes up the Uncle’s big return by ruining the mood. He decides to sulk by getting even more drunk and allowing himself to be ensnared by the waitress named Zena. He hardly resists her actions and just shrugs it off. Then when Maria actually needs his help he gets one shotted by Dracula several times. He missed with the fire shovel and then runs right into Dracula’s arms. Paul’s a terrible main character and I certainly couldn’t support him during the movie. He makes all of the wrong decisions and doesn’t come off as genuine. How do you lose so many battles in one film?

Unfortunately, Maria is just as bad. She gets mind controlled by Dracula and gets thrown into a dungeon by the waitress. The heroes get to her in time before anything drastic occurs and ask her what happened. Her response is to faint multiple times and to explain in the most cryptic and misleading ways possible. She doesn’t mention any of the people who were there, which puts the heroes at a disadvantage. Thanks to her weak mind, Dracula can also enter the house as she opens the windows for him. While not everyone can agree with me that mind control only works on the weak that quickly, we can all agree that she should have at least told everyone what happened the first time.

Meanwhile, we’ve got Ernest. He’s probably the only quality character in the film and even then he makes some of the same mistakes as the others. He is betrayed and knocked out to the point of death by the drunk. Later, we see the drunk arrive at his house with Paul (Paul invited him because he’s helpful like that) and instead of warning everyone that the guy is evil, Ernest faints from fright. It’s almost amusing since you Never see the old, experienced tough guy faint in a film like this one. It’s unheard of and also incredibly hard to wrap your head around this. It doesn’t make any sense and it feels like a lazy way for the writers to get Maria kidnapped. Otherwise there’s no way Dracula could have broken in.

Zena is the waitress and she’s certainly not a good character. She only exists to flirt with everyone and to get Paul on the wrong path. You know that she is doomed immediately since that always happens to these characters in horror films. Staying in the friend zone is typically the only way you’re safe. Zena didn’t and ultimately ended up paying the price. As for Dracula himself, he’s not really a cool villain at all. He blames all of his failings on Zena and doesn’t even look very good in combat. He shrinks away in fear whenever someone holds some fire or the cross. He trips over his own feet in the climax as he lands in his doom. He even sleeps in a coffin that’s in the basement of a busy bread shop so it’s easy for someone to murder him during the day. It’s almost hard to see why everyone fears him so much when the guy just isn’t very smart.

This film is also pretty violent as you would expect from a Hammer production. It really does its best to show blood whenever possible and lots of it. Everyone gushes blood as if we’re back in Bleach whenever they’re stabbed and you can tell that they’re just doing it because they can. The Vampire bites are still as iffy as ever and since the characters take so long so stop Dracula it can barely be counted as a win. The actual body count actually isn’t all that big in this film but the movie makes sure that each one gets enough screen time for two.

Overall, Dracula Returns is a pretty terrible film. The writing is lousy and the cast of characters are completely uninspired. There is nobody to root for and that is always a problem if you ask me. You won’t be able to stay invested in the film and the best way to get through it is to take a shot of water every time a character makes the worst move possible. Anything stronger than water and you’ll likely faint so try and stay safe. Still, I’d recommend watching many other films before I’d ever even consider this one. If you have to pick a Dracula film, at least pick the modern one from the new cinematic universe that Universal has been putting together. At least that one tries to stay classy.

Overall 1/10

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K-19: The Widowmaker

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It’s time to look at a historical film that adapts an event from a while back. Naturally with any adaption you look at it and absorb the story while picking and choosing which specifics make sense as some of it will naturally be dramatized for added effect. By and large this film seemed to play it straight though at least in the sense that nothing too fantastic happened.

So, the Widowmaker is a large submarine that the Russians want to bring to the Americas in case a cold war starts. They’re treated like the villains from start to finish which is interesting, but at the same time one of the big themes in the film is that the actual men on the ship are just your average 9-5 guys. They didn’t ask for this, but it’s their task so they’ll see it through to the end. Unfortunately, the ship isn’t ready for the sea yet as the captain Misha tries to tell the higher ups. They don’t listen and send in Alexei to spearhead the operation. Can the crew survive?

One of the interesting parts here is that the ship was seemingly very capable. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s something that the film altered a bit since based on the reputation you’d expect it to be less impressive. It would have easily made it all the way to the destination, but Alexei wanted to show off and kept making the mission more and more dangerous. Going lower than they were supposed to go, running drills nonstop, etc. Even then the ship did well enough, but it’s fair to say that at least in the film’s portrayal, Alexei is largely responsible for how the ship began to melt down and almost started the war on his own.

I liked how America was portrayed here. They were ready to forego country politics and save the crew from their sub. Sure, we would take control of the sub of course, but it is in our waters anyway and that’s a fair price for saving lives. If they had only listened to us, then maybe things would have been very different. At least their reasons for refusing aid were fairly decent as we wouldn’t take kindly to seeing a nuke on their sub. Especially since it was primed to detonate and nothing would have stopped it at that point. I’m sure we would have had some decent radioactive suits to try something, but there wasn’t much time either.

The film can be a little grotesque though like when the characters walk into the radiation chamber and try to turn the valve. We get that the radiation is super serious so we don’t need to see them puking all over the sub that I’m sure had just been polished. It adds that extra dimension of realism that nobody wants to see and that’s how you differentiate a movie from a great one. The greats know how to be realistic without going too far while the others go all the way. Other scenarios of lesser gravity in a film would be simple things like brushing your teeth or going to the bathroom. We know that the characters have to do that anyway so there’s no need to show it right? It’s just understood.

The characters suffer the same fate of being very realistic at times with painful dialogue and chatter amongst themselves. You just want them to stop talking and start working already. Of course, considering one of them is a drunk, another one is too nervous to tell his boss when the ship is sinking, and the rest of are being fed red wine every day, I suppose there isn’t much they can really do about that now is there? I would have liked to have had a comparison shot where we see a US sub where everyone is playing cards and the place looks nice and shiny.

There is one unfortunate scene that didn’t help this film’s plight and it also came out of left field. An animal dies. The instant it appears and got on the ship I knew this movie was going to go the dark route. Not taking shots at the film…but you could just tell. It simply is that kind of film and the fact that I was right just makes it all the sadder. If that really was in the true event then it should have been cut out and if it was made up for the movie for extra emotion then that’s even worse.

Overall, I’m sure this film will be a lot more powerful for people who are in the army or grew up during the tense cold war period. I find those topics decently interesting myself, but typically as a purely fictional movie or one that stays in the court room. I don’t need the gritty details, just the story. I also wonder how the Russian viewers would take this interpretation since I personally thought they were depicted as being quite cruel and unreasonable. Of course, that may be the facts, but the upper crust seems to just want a scapegoat whenever they are on screen. The jury didn’t seem very passionate and in general the air was always very dead. I know in general their culture isn’t quite as loud or in your face as America’s, but I still expected a little more than that. Even their style of humor like flashing the American choppers who were just doing their job was a little murky. Of course, I can easily see something like that happening with America too depending on the circumstances so I can’t speak for that much. So, if you’re interested in a sort of documentary film like this one then check it out, but I can’t say it was my cup of tea. Films based on a true story rarely work out for me.

Medusa vs The Son of Hercules Review

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It’s time for a really old film that basically nobody remembers at this point. It’s just very obscure and it’s easy to see why since it’s pretty low budget and feels kind of random. The good news about this is that the film can basically do whatever it wants because it’s not like there were any expectations for it. The film’s pretty fun and has some nice monster designs. I wasn’t sure if it would be able to stay the course for the whole film and cross the line into boring territory but it stayed entertaining throughout.

The character names are a little tricky, but I know the important ones. Perseo is just an ordinary guy living in the poor slums of the world. He doesn’t know that he is actually the son of Hercules so I’m assuming that as a baby he got lost or was banished for some reason. Either way, he’s content since the princess (He doesn’t know that she is royalty) comes to visit him every day but never tells him that her name. He vows to catch her one day before she escapes him. The problem is that Andromeda has an arranged marriage to Galenore in order to stop an impending war. Galenore and Perseo meet which ends up with Perseo getting humiliated in combat. He will get one chance to redeem himself as Andromeda saves him by initiating a tournament. The winner claims Andromeda so the stakes are high. Can Perseo win?

This is one of those films with a ton of different climaxes. There are many times you’ll think the film is about to end when it just keeps on going. I’d say that this is a good thing for the most part since it means that the film keeps up a very fast tempo. I’d expect nothing less. It’s old but the effects are actually pretty good for its time. Case in point, the monsters. There are two main monsters here. The first one is a Sea Serpent who picks off anyone who gets too close to the water. Fortunately for the serpent, everyone runs to the water and even the villain trips inside it towards the end for plot convenience. I liked his design and this monster was not to be trifled with. Nobody could stop him.

Then we have the Medusa. It’s a living Tornado with an evil eye that turns everyone into stone. It claims a lot of victims during the very first scene but sadly only appears once or twice after that. It’s definitely another strong opponent and this may be my personal favorite Medusa design. At the very least you have to admit that it’s very original and unexpected. Since the Medusa is even in the title, you want it to go down with a little dignity. It certainly had a lot more than the human villains.

Galenore is the main antagonist and he talks a good game while he’s winning. Once he suffers his first defeat, he quickly becomes afraid of his Perseo. He basically cowers behind his father from this point on and only fights when his opponent is at a disadvantage. Naturally I’m not a fan since his only motivation is basically that he wants to marry Andromeda. You can probably see why he’s not my kind of villain from that scene alone. His whip skills were fairly solid I suppose, buit I definitely don’t consider it t be one of the better weapons out there. Give me a sword any day.

Andromeda was an okay heroine. She had bow and arrow skills which is more than I can say for most. I would have been happier if she had used them more during the film though as opposed to getting knocked out with ease. Granted she was in her room in the palace so you’d think that nobody would break in, but the guards were all dispatched in an instant. Honestly the security was pretty terrible. Going against the arranged marriage was good and all, but she could have been more direct with Perseo. The romance was pretty weak throughout though so I’m glad it was given a relatively small presence. I saw the comedy version on Svengoolie with the extra sound effects and I can certainly say that they did at least make all of the scenes a lot funnier. Enough that I’d possibly give it an extra star as most of the additions were pretty well placed and also made Andromeda a better character.

To round out the main cast, I can’t say that I like Perseo all that much either. He just seems a little desperate for Andromeda and yet he still gets completely wrecked in his first fight. I was expecting him to put forth a little more effort to be honest. It was just sad how he lost and even in the rematch he was not faring well for a while until Galenore got overconfident and went too close. It was interesting to see him suddenly become the head of the army and break into the villain base though. It was a pretty big shift in stature in just the span of a few minutes. The King of the heroes wasn’t even that grateful the whole time as he forced Perseo to get in the army. Then we got a plot twist about where Perseo truly belonged which was at least mentioned in the beginning so there was some foreshadowing. I felt bad for the Mom since it took ages for Perseo to arrive. I believe she ended up dying rather tragically as well but I don’t remember the specifics.

It would have been nice if Perseo’s army was a little stronger though. The difference in power was crazy and how did the villains get those overpowered monsters? The heroes losing everyone to the Medusa was also pretty suspect since you’d expect at least a few to throw some arrows or sword stabs into the tornado while it was busy freezing others. Of course, given their lack of teamwork and how they got picked off by random guys the whole time, I suppose it is to be expected.

Overall, This was a pretty fun film. It’s certainly not amazing or anything, but it’s surprisingly a pretty solid experience. Something is always happening and the film never got too fishy with Galenor’s obsession with Andromeda. Perseo was always ready to break things up. The action scenes are entertaining and this just makes for a really good light hearted action film. It’s certainly not serious and it’s not even self aware but you’d be surprised at what you can do with a limited budget. This film was clearly ready for it and I’d certainly be up to seeing more films in this series. I’d recommend checking it out but don’t expect the monsters to get a huge role. At the end of the day, it’s just a story of the hero trying to save the Princess from the villains.

Overall 6/10

Dracula: Prince of Darkness Review

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Time for more Dracula! This film actually had the best beginning out of all the Dracula films which was quite impressive. For a little while there, I actually began to think that this film could actually be good. The second half falls back down the rails into terrible territory but at least it actually tried this time. If only the film had stuck to being a slice of life with a few jump scares instead of a nitty gritty vampire film. Don’t we have enough of those anyway?

The film starts off with a bunch of savages about to impale a girl who’s already dead. They want to make sure she stays that way. A passing preacher/evangelist stops them with his pocket gun and tough negotiating skills. He then heads to a cabin where we meet the Kents. 4 people are going on a big tour of the world and are having fun stopping at all of the various bars. He warns them not to go to a castle coming up since it’s evil. To their credit, half of the party listens. The 4 people are Alan, Helen, Charles, and Diana. Helen really doesn’t want to go inside and Diana isn’t fond of doing so either. Luckily a carriage comes along so Charles proposes that they get on it and head for the next town. Unfortunately the Horses are uncontrollable and quickly take the heroes to the castle. It appears to be empty, but a butler remains.

Helen continues to believe that something bad is going to happen and her fears are put to rest as Alan is destroyed and she goes next. Unlike Alan, she is at least given the pleasure of becoming a fellow vampire who will serve Dracula. Dracula wants Diana next, but Charles intends to put up a fight to save her. Charles and Diana head to the old guy from the intro and hide in his church, but the Church has a traitor who works for Dracula and the guy invites him in. It’s now a desperate battle for time, can Dracula be stopped!?

I really did like the intro. The first 30-40 minutes are basically the heroes bickering among themselves and just enjoying the hospitality once they get into the castle. You know that it’s not going to end well for them but at least they are having fun in the meantime. Charles is a pretty good character as he’s not a nervous wreck like the rest of the heroes and doesn’t mind taking charge. Diana may not be as brave, but she always stands by Charles. Alan and Helen aren’t quite as good. Helen is extremely nervous of everything to the point of paranoia which gets old fast and Alan just barely seems like a character. He’s just along for the ride for the most part. Still, it’s a fun group dynamic. These are actually characters that I can get behind and it’s just an entertaining intro.

Then Dracula shows up and things get messy. First of all, the film is quite violent. The Hammer films in general are always a little more intense and this one is no exception. One character basically bleeds to death which takes a while and it’s on screen. Another character gets impaled with a stake on screen. Ironically, Dracula’s death at the end is the least violent since he simply slips on some ice and freezes to his doom. Not exactly the way you’d imagine the famous Prince of Darkness to go out. I’m aware of the Garlic and the Cross as counters to Dracula even if the former never works. I never heard about Vampires drowning in clear water though. I never assumed they could breath underwater, but it’s actually a weakness now? The deck is really stacked against Dracula since he is quite slow and is weak to just about everything under the sun. Good luck beating any more humans at this rate count.

The traitor inside of the Church was annoying as well. He’s a prisoner as they even say to take him back to his cell, but people still take orders from him? Clearly the guy isn’t the only crazy in the place. It’s also awfully convenient how many empty rooms are in the Church so it’s easy for Dracula to sneak around. I was hoping there would be more people running around trying to stop him. It’s also annoying how quick the hypnosis works on Diana. It’s essentially instantaneous which isn’t surprising, but still not all that great. Where is the will power in all of this?

As a side note, this is probably the worst Dracula design. The red eyes just make him look super weak and then the actual movie certainly doesn’t do anything to dissuade you of that notion. Anyone can out run him and while he has super strength, he tends to let his opponents go. He’s also lucky that Alan was quite naive and not too smart as he otherwise wouldn’t have gotten resurrected in the first place. The heroes make a bunch of bad calls throughout the movie. In another scene they see the butler with a baseball bat or some kind of knife, but just shrug. All 4 of them agree that the butler seems crazy and likely dangerous, but they are still fine with sleeping in the manor. At worst they should have just overpowered him and then gone to sleep. They could have woke up the next day with a “Nothing personal” story and that would have worked. Well, I suppose at least some of them got the last laugh in the end so that’s a start.

Overall, This film is really just more of the same. Once Dracula shows up you can switch the footage with any other Dracula film and it’s basically the same. The film goes through the same beats as he takes the heroes down one by one but then plot armor comes to help the heroes. Dracula gets Charles in his grasp at one point, but then throws him away. He completely had the victory sealed up there, but lets him get away. Why would he do that? Seems like it was a bad move to me. Ah well, I’d recommend staying away from this film. You can watch other Dracula films that aren’t as over the top violent and at the end of the day, vampires are past their prime anyway. If you don’t mind stopping early, then the film is quite good if you just watch right up til Alan says he is going to check downstairs. Stop the film right there and it’s a solid 7/10 with a good cast and solid writing. If every film ended as well as it started, a lot of scores would be quite different in the horror genre.

Overall 2/10

Son of Dracula Review

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Given that I’m in the middle of a vampire arc in Detective Conan, it seemed like a good time to review a Dracula film. It’s definitely pretty odd to see Lon Chaney playing the role, but this way he continues to play all of the Universal monsters at some point so I can roll with that. Unfortunately, not even his acting can save the film as it still ends up being your standard Dracula film through and through. It’s just hard to make a good Dracula film whether it be in this day and age of even in the past.

So, the plot starts with a mysterious man moving into town. The main farmer dies very mysteriously during this time frame. That’s when Dracula shows up and suddenly Katherine marries him despite being seriously engaged to Frank. Frank suspects something is up and grabs his gun, but this Dracula fellow appears to be bullet proof and intangible so the bullet goes through and destroys Katherine. Frank is quickly arrested, but it appears that Katherine is still alive. She is now going to be doing experiments with Dracula at night and says she won’t be available during the daytime anymore. Something’s fishy here, but Frank’s in jail so he can’t do much about it. It’s going to be up to Lazlo and Brewster to see what’s happened. Can they really deal with two vampires though?

The film does have a unique twist that I can get behind. Usually the main heroine falls head over heels for Dracula due to mind control and just generally looks terrible the whole time. The twist this time is that Katherine actually went with him willingly as part of her own plan. She plans to murder him once she is undead as well but to do that she will need Frank’s help. She’ll bust him out of jail so he can go to Dracula’s coffin during the daytime and destroy him. Technically it’s a full proof plan, but he makes one big mistake…he goes outside while it’s still night time. Heh…..heh…..hahhahahahahahahahaha!! Of all the mistakes to make…..why is Frank so terrible? I mean, we finally have a good plan and then he messes it up. He even destroys Katherine afterwards because he doesn’t want to be a vampire. I wish I could say he made the right call, but I really can’t. He comes across as a very ungrateful guy who’s of no use throughout the entire film. While Katherine’s plan was extremely dangerous, risky, and probably not good at all, she did pull it off. Frank got the easy job and he still messed it up. That’s got to be a downer.

Dracula doesn’t look very good here. I mean that’s to be expected considering how many weaknesses he has, but it’s still sad for his fans. It’s gotten to the point where just being in the same room as a cross is enough to get him sweating and the doctors always handle him without too much trouble. Dracula is at his best when he’s just uttering threats as opposed to trying to follow up on them. At any rate, at least Dracula is fun to listen to. Seriously, Chaney has one of the best voices in cinema with ease. Most other actors can’t even get close to his level. Dracula is just not a good character though.

I felt like the rest of the cast were pretty slow on the uptake here. Katherine’s sister made a few half hearted attempts to see what was happening, but didn’t play her cards right. She basically told Frank that the cops were onto him and took forever to get out of harm’s way. Brewster noticed right away that Alucard is just another way of saying Dracula, but just brushed it off and didn’t remember until we were deep into the film. He could have saved lives if he had acted with a little more urgency. Lazlo was experienced at least so that was nice to see. He may have been the best character here even if that isn’t saying a lot. At least he was making a real effort to do his best.

The Sheriff meant well. When he investigated the place and found the dead body, it was certainly reasonable for him to suspect Brewster as an accomplice. It’s also hard to take their word for it that a vampire is on the prowl since that doesn’t seem all that reasonable. At least he was better than the other cop who couldn’t guard a man if his life depended on it and got scared of everything. If you’re going to be a cop, I feel like there’s at least a minimum level of bravery that you should have and it should be enough for you to not be scared of vampires.

Overall, Son of Dracula is more of less what you’d expect from the series. There’s not a whole lot to say about the film that I haven’t already. At least there was no animal violence this time. That’s certainly a nice start. The supporting cast was also quite reasonable for a change even if it could still be annoying how they wouldn’t realize anything until it was too late. The cops were a nice addition. I wouldn’t recommend this film and you should probably stay far away. Just remember for the next time that while Dracula can be scary, it can always be worse. You could be dealing with the Wolf Man who has less obvious weaknesses. With Dracula you can hold up to sticks and cross them and that’s enough to deter him. The ending to the film was pretty weak and here’s how it should have happened. Frank becomes a vampire along with Katherine and then they play it off like she was in the woods or something and that’s why her body vanished. She explains that they were just imagining they saw her dead body and this way everyone lives happily ever after. Sure, Frank didn’t get a choice on if he wanted to be a vampire or not, but it can’t always be perfect for the guy.

Overall 4/10

Duel Review

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It’s time for an old thriller with a truck as the main villain. We’ve done the evil car trick a few times in the past, but this film is fairly old so it might have been one of the first times we’ve seen it in cinema. Level up the car to a truck and you’ve got yourself a good thriller that’s ready to go. The film does fumble the ball a little in the second half and the main character doesn’t always make the right moves, but it’s an enjoyable film. I do like the lead’s name.

David is a struggling 9-5 worker. He gets the job done, but at home there is a lot of stress and drama over something that we never quite learn about. That’s not too important. What’s important is that David has to be home in time or it’s going to get tricky. He sets off on the road, but a giant truck starts honking at him. David pulls out the sweet moves and slows down enough for the truck to pass him. The problem? Now the truck has slowed down just enough so that he will miss a big meeting. David passes him but the truck takes it personally and decides to murder him. Can the hero get out of this?

The whole film centers around the fact that this truck is trying to murder the hero. However, he is limited by a set of rules. One, he’ll only go after the main character if he is in his car and ahead of the vehicle or if he drives backwards. David is safe if he stays parked. Next, the truck will attack if he tries to get help from other drivers or alert the cops. Finally, the truck is faster than David’s car so he can’t be out driven. Those are the basics of the situation so you can see how it’s tough for the main character. It doesn’t help that his detective skills aren’t really on point.

David could be rather annoying at times though. After being passed by the truck 2-3 times and finally passing it again, he lets go of his lead so he can go fill up on gas at the nearest station. Big mistake since the truck just follows him. We learn by the end that the truck is super fast so it probably would have passed him anyway, but it wasn’t a great move. Then he considers stopping at a cafe later although the truck doesn’t give him a chance. Once in the restaurant, David gets a little too eager and attacks the wrong guy. I had actually thought it was a misdirect and the driver was the lady in red who appeared out of nowhere, but it was apparently someone who got out when the main character wasn’t looking near the beginning or there’s a back exit.

David started making some decent moves by the end since there wasn’t much he could do at that point. It was a little late though and he cracked several times so I wouldn’t say that he took the situation particularly well. He wasn’t exactly Tom Cruise. The driver of the truck really liked messing with David though as he even saved a school bus just to show off. At the very least that was a nice thing to do even if it was just a PR stunt.

The first half of the film is pretty tense as a result. At first it seems like the driver is just in a hurry or maybe he had some kind of reason for slowing down after that. Gradually it becomes apparent that this guy is crazy and just wants to murder the guy. It’s pretty nice and atmospheric. The occasional change in scenery like the cafe was also pretty good. I liked the scenes in there for sure as we got some nice suspects even if they may have all been red herrings.

My problem with the film is that the second half just feels like a rehash of the first. He gets back on the road and into the exact same situation that he was in the first time. I feel like the film may have limited its options a little too much with the plot so they were forced to just keep on going with the same plan. They should have changed things up a bit in the second half. As a result, the film did drag on a little as the pacing completely died. If you watched the first 15 minutes of the film and the last 15, the bulk of those scenes would look very similar. David is driving away from the enemy car. It was a little repetitive and even if you cut out a big chunk of the film, it would have still worked out quite well. The film’s plot is very direct and there really isn’t much of a cast so it didn’t need a full film’s length to tell the story. What it could have done was add some extra characters or a new sub plot. Maybe add that extra climax at the end where a driver steps out to have a fight with David.

There really weren’t any subplots which I was fine with. No need for random filler plots, but it is a way to pad out the story. On the other hand, I’m glad we didn’t see more animals. As it is, it was iffy when the trick attacked a place with a bunch of bugs and a dog. Fortunately they seemed to make it out all right. It was a pretty intense scene since it showed that the truck was finally getting serious. I was also glad because it confirmed that the whole thing wasn’t fake. For a little while there, I was worried that the truck was going to be a figment of his imagination or something. The film would have very quickly dropped down quite a bit if that had been the case. Fortunately the film took the high road.

Overall, This film is definitely more of a slow burner than Jaws or Godzilla. It’s also a fair bit more repetitive so find something to focus on in the film or you may get bored watching the same roads over and over again. With the effects being rather limited back in the old days, I suppose the movie may not have had a very many options. I’d recommend checking it out if you want to see a good ole speed race. The stakes are high here so they definitely have to go as fast as they can. The lesson to learn here is that if you’re going to race, make sure that you’re ready to win!

Overall 7/10

The Truman Show Review

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What would you do if someone was going to record the rest of your life? I’ve always wondered that as I forgot to save my latest replay in Super Smash. If someone had been filming me, then they would have been able to see it and I could have rewatched it through the video on demand feature. I’ve won so many good matches and had many epic gaming moments that I feel should be preserved in the video game hall of fame. Naturally not every part of this would be glamorous and overall I’m glad that I’m not part of a reality show.

Truman doesn’t actually know that he’s on a show though. He grew up in this world and just enjoys leading a rather ordinary life. Every day he goes to his job and works to get more clients to buy things from him. He had a good time in school and made a lot of friends. Truman is even married. Truman starts to feel like something is weird when his dead father shows up out of nowhere and is quickly kidnapped by the proper authorities. He also notices people following him and even talking about him on the radio. The whole town seems to be trying to keep him from leaving the city as well. Is it all some conspiracy? Truman doesn’t know what to think, but he needs to get out of this town before it’s too late.

It’s definitely a pretty interesting concept. I do think it’s a little tricky in the sense that I just don’t see how it would work all that well with the amount of crazy variables at play. They’ve essentially hired everyone in the town as an actor. They all actually live there and to an extent it is their life. They can probably leave for a while under the context of it being a vacation, but I feel like a bunch of them would spill the beans at some point or cause some complications. The film briefly shows people breaking in to warn Truman, but fortunately for the studio the lead character is extremely slow on the uptake. We’ll suspend some disbelief though as the film did a fairly good job at taking the premise as far as it could go.

The other main part that could be a little tricky was Truman’s big escape plan at the end. How did he figure out exactly where the cameras were? Furthermore, he was able to move at an angle where nobody could see what he was doing at all? I had to suspend a little too much belief here as even when he was running to the boats nobody saw him. Surely there were a bunch of cameras in that area so it should not have been possible to escape them for any longer than a minute or two. Still, at least Truman kept trying even if it took him a while to get there.

Truman definitely got a lot of warnings even if he didn’t listen to them. Whether it was the ramblings of his school friend who told him it was all an illusion or seeing his father again, you’d want him to get a little suspicious. Then actually seeing first hand that everyone was performing the same actions every day and that they were following him was odd. The signs everywhere telling him not to leave the city…I just don’t see how he didn’t connect the dots sooner. The twist about his plan certainly helped him salvage some of his dignity though as it opens up the door on when he really found out. Perhaps it was a lot sooner then we expected.

The best scenes in the film were probably the early middle ones where Truman was trying to prove that he was in a show. Driving around town and outsmarting the NPCs was definitely fun and breaking into their base for a moment was pretty good as well. It would have been nice if he had kept on doing that. An interesting part of the dynamic is for once, the show isn’t evil. It’s not like they’ll murder him if he keeps on trying as they’re still paid actors who want their salaries. The country has probably lost some of their ethics by letting this go on and allowing a corporation to own someone in the first place, but there is probably still some humanity left. The final boat scene may disagree to an extent, but the show would probably be sued.

The people watching the show were definitely suspect though. Personally I’m not sure how it would be such a hit. People like watching others as you can tell from Twitch, but I do think they wouild grow bored after a while. Especially if the show is always on 24/7. You’ll want to watch something else after a while. Still, I guess Truman can at least he satisfied with the fact that he’s the star of the highest rated show in Earth’s history.

The main villain was pretty good. He definitely embodies the corporate image and is always a quick thinker. He doesn’t care about the ethics, just his check. He wants to keep making money and doesn’t want the show to stop. Of course, the show must end at some point and even he is forced to acknowledge this truth. The rest of the characters were okay I suppose. Truman’s wife was pretty iffy, but she was paid to keep getting in the way. Truman’s beer buddy was equally annoying for the same reasons. I do wonder what the show would have done if Truman had accepted the offer to move away in a few months. Would they have been able to create a set that massive to simulate the city? I think they actually would have written themselves into a dangerous situation there and would need to fake an accident or something.

Overall, The Truman show is a pretty enjoyable film. Truman himself may go overboard with the facial expressions, but the show probably influenced him to act like that right from the start. It may be a tough premise to really buy into, but it was still fun to watch. It would certainly be interesting if your life turned out to be a show. I always treat life as if I’m the main character of my story anyway so it wouldn’t really change much. I may try a little harder in eating competitions though for style points if I was on a show. I’d recommend checking this film out. It’s certainly pretty unique.

Overall 7/10

Diary of a Madman Review

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It’s time for a tale of Man vs Demon. Force of Will vs Temptation. Justice vs Vengeance. Unfortunately, the hero is a guy named Simon who doesn’t have a whole lot of will power to defend himself with. What follows is a painful adventure where Simon is wrecked at every corner and the Horla gets to have his way. It’s not as bad as it could have been, but I’m afraid that it’s not a good film regardless.

Simon is a judge but his life has been empty lately. His wife ended up destroying herself a while back and ever since he has thrown himself into his work. It’s just not enough anymore though and his possessions keep getting flipped around even though the butler claims innocence. Things come to a boil when Simon destroys one of the criminals who was going to be executed. The demon that was attached to the guy transfers over to Simon. He now wants Simon to murder everybody and follow his commands so that he can be provided with some entertainment. Simon struggles against him, but this seems to be futile.

I guess one of the main issues that a film like this one will have is that the hero’s lack of willpower gets to be annoying pretty quickly. Simon tries to resist, but then the Horla just takes physical control of his body and makes him murder people. The instant Simon lost the mental battle, you could say that the film lost as well. The demon is just stronger than Simon so clearly there can’t be a battle anymore. It’s not like Simon can take a do over. He’s already murdered someone. Naturally the film makes sure that the victim was cheating on her husband so you aren’t supposed to feel as bad for her, but it’s still a rather gruesome fate.

The scene is rather violent and the film definitely shows that it can be dark when it wants too. We also get some animal violence right on schedule when Simon is forced to destroy his own bird. Game Set and Match for the film. You’ll just be interested in seeing what form of plot hax the film will use to have Simon turn the tables on the Horla. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t even try to make it all that believable. So, the Horla is essentially the invisible man. The film doesn’t seem to be too confident on what his powers are. Can he teleport? Move really fast? I mean, you’d think that he can go through walls based on how he appears to be everywhere, but he can’t in the climax. So, we’ll go through this next paragraph assuming that he has no powers aside from hypnosis and invisibility.

The big plan is to douse the house in gasoline, lock all of the doors, and close the drapes. Once the Horla walks in the room, Simon will fling some fire bottles at him and take the whole house down. Now, here’s the problem with that scenario. Up til now the Horla has been spying on Simon 24/7. Even if we assume that he went out for a late night stroll for some reason…how long was he gone? Did he not notice that Simon had made all of these preparations before walking in? Was he not able to break through simple curtains or the locked door? The villain apparently panicked as he couldn’t even be bothered to destroy Simon first or grab the key. I get that he’s scared of fire, but I had some trouble believing that this trick would work. If anything, Simon’s strategy to take a train out of the country had a better chance of working since if he had gotten on the train he would have been out of reach for the Horla. Well, I suppose we’ll take this plan over nothing.

Technically you do know that Simon is doomed right from the start as the film opens with his funeral. The rest of the story is simply a long flashback as we learn how he went insane. Of course, he didn’t actually go insane, but since he let a spirit control him so easily he may as well have been. Meanwhile, he wasn’t a pleasant guy from the start either. He flirts with a married woman and even if he didn’t realize that she was taken at first, he made no attempt to stop being with her once he found out. The whole message of moving on past the wife’s death and straight into rebound territory was also a little tricky. He met with the lady for about an hour and that was all it took for him to fall for her. It all happens so fast in these films that you can see why so many rebounds are always happening.

This isn’t exactly a 0 star film though so there are some positives. The scene where the cross scares off the Horla was pretty good. It was nice to see that at least someone had power over him. Too bad Simon didn’t take the hint and instead of hiding out in the church or buying the cross….he went right back home. Another solid for the film is that the writing is fairly decent. Simon was a likable character for the first minutes of the film as he goes to the prison and tries to learn about the criminal mind. He goes downhill from there, but overall the writing wasn’t all that bad. It’s just the direction that the film went in which didn’t work out so well. Also, if someone ever asks you to model for them, it’s probably a good idea to say no. That job always seems to end badly in films.

Overall, Diary of a Madman is a pretty mean spirited film. There’s no real enjoyment to be had from it. Is it really fun to see a spirit tormenting the main character throughout the whole film as he forces him to murder people including his potential future wife? Then we have the animal violence and Simon giving into despair. The ending may give Simon the last laugh, but more literally than you’d expect. I have no problem with it, but just another example of how they couldn’t even grab a happy ending. I think you can definitely do much better than this film if you’re looking for a good thriller so I’d advise you to skip it. If you want a film where a character has to combat good and evil, check out Advent Children. Cloud finally realizes that he can hope again by the end and even while he was downcast he never did anything unforgivable and still always tried to help out. That’s just the kind of guy he is.

Overall 2/10

Breaking Point Review

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It’s time for a story of corruption and moral choices. I saw another version of this film a while back, but could the remake prove to be as good? I’d say that the original was a little better but this was still a good film. The main character was just less sympathetic and never got to the point where he was
likable, but he still gives us some nice banter.

The film revolves around a struggling fisherman named Harry. He uses his boat for a living to catch fish and let other people aboard for travel. That being said, it just hasn’t been enough to pay the rent so he decides to go into the underworld to help illegally transport people across the border. The cops start to get wise to this and it turns out that the gangsters aren’t too pleased with Harry as well. He’ll have to destroy them all or try to skip town. Otherwise it’s curtains.

From the general premise you can already tell that everything here is Harry’s fault. He should not have stepped into the dark side because there is simply no return from those dark doors. He should have been content with his fishing business and everything would have turned out okay. He also had the option of going to the farm as Lucy suggested where they would have had a good amount of food. The problem is that Harry didn’t want to be a farmer and his pride stood in the way of making the right decision. All of this is bad enough, but then he even decides to cheat on his wife with a passenger known as Leona. That was Game Set and Match. It’s hard to really like a main character like that at all.

Leona is the passenger who pulls the moves on Harry. She’s not a good character either as she intentionally goes after him to prove that she can break everyone. It’s a rather sad moral but the film proved it to be correct here. She gets by since she has a lot of talents and everyone wants to hire her and as a result she has enough money to follow Harry around everywhere. He just can’t escape from her. Lucy is Harry’s actual wife. She’s a much better character than the first two, but she still isn’t great. I suppose she made the right choice in finally leaving Harry after the whole situation went down but falling for the peer pressure and dying her hair was pretty drastic.

Finally there is Wesley. He’s a nice guy although he can be very slow on the uptake at times. Harry is constantly trying to get him out of the way so the villains don’t murder him, but he can’t take a hint. He follows Harry around everywhere and it ultimately ends up costing him dearly. A good friend should always try to bring the others back from the dark side, but after a while you have to cut your ties. Wesley knew that Harry kept on breaking the law and then lying about it so maybe he shouldn’t have been to quick to keep working for him. Even if it was the only job available, he should have at least figured that something was strange with the situation when Harry kept acting rushed.

It makes for a pretty tragic end to Wesley’s son though. He was looking forward to just having a normal day. Little did he know that he would never see his father again. Nobody even stopped to break the news gently to the kid so it almost comes off as a little mean spirited. I can’t say I was thrilled about the ending and I’m not sure about Harry living either. At the very least shouldn’t he have died? Not that I’m advocating for him to die or anything but it just seems like that would have made sense with his whole character arc. He also had two daughters who were main supporting characters but they were fairly annoying. There were a number of villains in this film. The lying Chinese leader was pretty fun to have around. Stopping him was one of Harry’s better moments. I rather liked the quick talking minion who would always introduce Harry to the villainous circles but the guy wasn’t so bright. He got in a little too deep and it ended up costing him big time.

The writing was pretty strong as you’d expect. The banter was on point as always with these retro films. The dialogue was engaging and all of the characters came off as pretty professional individuals. Even the villains conducted themselves a little more subtly than they would in the modern films. Harry could also act hardcore at times by standing his ground with the villains as opposed to “acting” hardcore by throwing in a lot of swear words and panicking the whole time.

The film moves at a pretty good pace and something is always happening. It’s a fun movie even if the end is definitely somber. I’m not usually a big fan of boats and the ocean in movies as I prefer the city backdrop but you can easily forget that they’re even on water as the boar is quite big. The gun fight at the end is also pretty solid even if Harry didn’t play the situation very well at all. He just felt out of his depth when he was looking around instead of firing off his shots.

Overall, Breaking Point is a solid film that is really only brought down by its bad-underwhelming cast. Harry is just not a character that you can sympathize with at all and the story would have worked a lot better with a hero who was more noble and a family man through and through. Someone who could have easily resisted the worldly temptations of the passengers and made the right choices. I’d also let Wesley’s kid have a happier ending like he won some money or at least got a pat on the back, but that’s more minor. Fix the main character and then there really isn’t anything wrong with this film. Either way I’d recommend checking out this film although you should start with the original.

Overall 6/10

Phoenix Forgotten Review

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Uh oh, it’s time for a found footage film. Honestly this is one of the worst genres out there. I already don’t like horror films, but found footage films tend to be even lower on the totem pole. The two genres do like to blend together as well although I think this would be considered more of a thriller than a horror. The film moves incredibly slow and by the end all you’ll be thinking is…”If I’m buying 4 slices and a drink from Little Caesars for 5, maybe I’m better off going to Little Italy and getting 2 slices but the infinite refills with it”

The story follows a reporter who is going around trying to find intel on 3 teenagers who went missing. Their names as Josh, Mark, and Ashley. The reporter has an interest in the case since Josh was her big brother. The problem is that the government keeps stiffing her and since this disappearance happened years ago, all of the trails have gone cold. Fortunately, Sophie is told that the school found a camcorder at a secluded facility in the middle of nowhere that actually still works. Sophie pops it in and finally learns the truth behind the mystery. She is stunned at the results!

So, that’s effectively the subplot as it takes place in the present, but most of the film is in the past. Since Sophie is making a documentary, naturally all of her scenes are filmed as if they’re found footage as well. We jump to the past where Josh decides that he wants to find some aliens. After all, he saw some strange lights a while back that seemed like UFOs. Mark and Ashley join him and the three decide to run through a bunch of mountains. They do this for a while and then get lost once it’s late. They do what any other mainstream teenager would do, they break open the beers and start panicking. Before long the aliens show up and take them down.

There are so many problems with this film that it’s quite tragic. For starters, we have the token animal violence. Why is there animal violence in this film? Well, apparently the aliens are still working on their tractor beams as they tend to burn the targets up instead of sending them into space. It’s also awfully fast since they burn parts of the animals but then leave them on the ground. The scenes are utterly pointless much like the film itself and you’ll wonder just how low this film will stoop before it finally ends.

The writing is terrible as you’d expect. All of the characters are really annoying and since the camera work is terrible on purpose, you’ll find yourself cringing the whole time. I don’t use the word lightly, but this is another reason why I don’t like the found footage genre. The zoom ins on all of the characters are much too close and the ametuer style in which they’re filmed is just not entertaining to look at. Honestly, I’m not even a big fan of the old family videos everyone made back when it was trendy but at least I was starring in those so it made them a little more fun. I don’t want to watch a video of strangers just hanging out and drinking beer. It’s just not cool.

The aliens don’t actually do anything for the first 60 minutes so that time is just the heroes chatting about nothing really and trying to be as unlikable as possible. The film never even tried to make them good characters if you ask me, but there were none in the whole film. Even the government turned out to be evil and corrupt as always. It’s sad that the government is almost always either incompetent or evil. It’s rare to find movies where they are portrayed as capable heroes but I’m always glad when I see that happen.

The film’s plot is also just barely held together. See, the writers needed the whole story to be filmed on camera, but this wasn’t even possible without plot holes. Towards the end of the film we see Josh taken up by the aliens as he drops his camera and it gets thrown around in the twister. Then….Josh somehow fights his way through the alien ship in a matter of seconds, escapes through the hatch, makes his way back and grabs the camera, runs to a bathroom…and is then kidnapped again. Then the camera is sucked up again, survives a vicious crash, and then someone mails it to the school. The whole thing was super convenient and also unbelievable. I don’t see how Josh could have gotten out of the tractor beam when nobody else could have. I don’t see how nobody would notice the aliens this time when they’re so bright and loud. People would definitely notice that kind of thing. I just couldn’t get past this ending.

The aliens also don’t really show up. We see a claw or a foot for a split second and that’s it. Clearly this film didn’t have much of a special effects budget so this turned into an alien film without the aliens. That’s just peachy. Back to the humans not being likable, the film maybe tries to hint that the aliens mess with your mind. I’m not too sure about that and prefer to just think that the humans are terrible. Mark constantly panics and drinks. He refuses to talk with the others even though it would make the whole process quicker and is the main reason everyone was talking in circles for a while. They could have stayed in the car where it was semi safe, but he wanted to run the 15 miles to the nearest gas station. Even then he got distracted within seconds. Ashley also panics at everything and keeps forcing the group to stop so she can tie her shoes or panic about her hair falling out. The only guy I almost felt sorry for was Josh because he would have escaped the aliens if he didn’t have to stop for the other two every 5 seconds. Clearly he should have gone on by himself. He wasn’t a cool character either though so I was cool with the aliens claiming the win here. They just need to take on the rest of the town n ext.

The film is super dramatic and tries to be emotional constantly. We have a divorce subplot and they really try to forcefeed you the “You have to be sad now” memo as we see the parents cry about the teens being gone and everyone assuming the worst. The home cam videos are supposed to really reinforce this. All it does is stretch the film out even more and completely destroy whatever pacing the film could have had. This film could have been shortened to 30 minutes and you wouldn’t have missed a thing.

Also, why was Sophie’s camera man never really shown until the end? I thought the film was gearing up for some kind of big twist like he was Josh or something and that’s why everyone kept looking at Sophie like she was crazy. The twist would have been terrible but at least it would have been something. Otherwise, the camera man is just another empty character whose existence is only to hold the camera so Sophie can get a good shot.

Overall, As you can guess I really didn’t like the film. It’s basically just 90 minutes of nothing happening. The alien “jump scare” scenes are pitifully bad and wouldn’t scare a kid. The repetition is annoying and since the aliens keep taunting the main characters instead of doing something to them, I have to assume that they’re just petty. They don’t seem to have any actual goals so I’ll assume that they are mindless as well. There’s really only negative things to say about the film so as you can tell I really didn’t like it. I’d say that Cloverfield was a better found footage film and even Paranormal Activity which by all accounts should be worse as it’s a full horror plus this genre, but was actually far superior. Next time you secretly want to make a film about teens just running around and just acting like terrible people with no extra plot…don’t. Instead of this film I recommend watching something a little more intense like the first Jumanji.

Overall 1/10