The Skull Review


Whenever you have one of these old horror films with Peter Cushing you can expect a lot of drama and tension. He doesn’t scare easily from the villains but they do give it their best. Having a villain be an actual skull is definitely a bold move for sure. It’s not every day you have a skull floating around like this is some kind of Youtube fan video but it works rather well.

The movie starts with a guy running home because he finally got this skull he was going for. He’s so focused on the skull itself that he even tells his friend to go away after she went to the trouble of preparing for his arrival. When he tries melting the skull, it quickly takes him down for the count. It proceeds to mind control another guy to destroy the friend.

In the present, Christopher is competing in an auction with Matthew on a bunch of items. He ends up losing on a batch of evil looking dolls since Matthew overbid for them by a large sum. When asked why, the guy says he has no idea. Ah well, Christopher heads back home to his business of writing about the occult and accepting odd gifts from suspicious characters. This time the guy has brought him a skull belonging to the most dangerous murderer in existence. This could be the break Christopher has been looking for, but will it only bring him doom and despair? Only time will tell.

The film isn’t afraid to get rather crazy as well. At one point, a group of fake police show up and kidnap Christopher. They take him to a church where these guys are having a crazy ceremony and force him to play Russian Roulette several times. Fortunately luck is on his side so Christopher is able to escape and live another day. Things definitely could have been a whole lot worse for him so he should really consider himself fortunate.

Now, he does make some dicey moves like keeping the skull even once he knew it had been stolen. It seems like he’s not very particular about where he gets his objects from so long as it helps is research. So in that respect it’s not like he’s a hero or anything. Still, he is a fun character in large part due to how confident he is. Nothing shakes him in the slightest. Even as he sees multiple dead bodies he keeps it moving.

At one point he even notices that the Skull seems to keep being in a different place but he just rolls with it. The skull stares at him all night and Christopher doesn’t really care. In fact, they even have a staring contest at one point and you could argue that Christopher won that one. Of course, ultimately you get the feeling that he’s probably doomed but at least he put up a good fight.

As for the Skull, well it’s not very scary. You have doubts on if it is even alive for most of the film. It seems like it emits negative aura or something which is why anyone associated with the skull starts going around murdering people. You can make a strong case that this doesn’t have to mean that it’s sentient though, but that it’s cursed. Of course, all the stare downs do give the impression of it being alive of course.

Then by the climax it is clear as the skull is able to fly around with some retro special effects and even summon a book. So, I have to give the film kudos for making one of the most surreal villains of all time. Being unique doesn’t always mean good though. I’ll take most creatures over this guy but as a one time adventure it works well enough.

I would say how effective the film is will really depend on how much you enjoy the suspense. The characters are very slow to do much of anything. The movie is on slow burner mode the whole way through with only a few jump scares to break things up from time to time. The writing is really solid though which helps. It’s why a modern remake would have a hard time matching up to this one. At least here you get the solid dialogue between the characters and everyone talks in a rather distinguished way.

It would have been nice if Matthew had appeared more. A lot of the best scenes in the film are the dialogue scenes between him and Christopher. For example, the auction scene was handled really well. Both of these guys are rich and used to winning. So when it becomes a bit of a challenge none of them back down. They also seem to have a good working relationship when they aren’t competing. It’s part of what makes the climax rather emotional, or at least as emotional as this can get.

You can kind of tell how this film is going to play out from the start though. In these kinds of films where the villain relies on mental hypnosis to take the heroes down, they ultimately never end up standing tall against it. Without fail you can always count on the hero succumbing to the darkness which is unfortunate. Otherwise you can applaud their determination about not believing in such superstitions. It just falls flat once they actually lose to it.

Overall, The Skull is a pretty solid horror film from back in the day. The whole thing is built around a lot of suspense as each scene is played quite dramatically. The score is good with each tune underscoring how scared you’re supposed to be. Even Christopher’s character goes from being absolutely confident to slowly starting to feel some terror as he knows that the Skull cannot be beat. The very final scare scene is almost a bit humorous in how over the top it gets. So next time someone tries to give you a skull that is supposedly haunted and lets you know that it has also been stolen, you should probably stay on the side of the law and refuse it.

Overall 7/10

The Crawling Eye Review


This movie’s definitely a little interesting with the promotion. See, the name of “The Trollenberg Terror” sounds a little more hype to be honest and also doesn’t spoil the final boss too quickly. Although if the poster is the same then it doesn’t matter either way I guess. I decided to do a quick check and the Eye doesn’t appear until the final 17 minutes. Of that time I’d guess its screen time is probably more like 12 minutes or less when you factor in all the planning and the ending after him. To think people said Godzilla didn’t appear much in his films…

The movie starts with showing us a mountain climbing “accident” where one of the climbers quite literally lost his head. A lot of people don’t want to come to Trollenberg anymore and why should they right? Climbers are vanishing left and right and there is rarely even a trace of them. Now, that part was interesting since they explicitly say that people always vanish entirely so I guess the alien monster got sloppy on that one?
We then get our main characters Anne, Sarah, and Alan. Alan is a UN worker who has dealt with the occult before and it didn’t exactly go very well for him the last time. It was a very similar circumstance with clouds showing up and then people going missing. He gradually lets us know more about the last incident but conveniently always waits until events happen. For example, last time he also witnessed zombie survivors who tried to murder everyone but doesn’t tell anyone here until someone is nearly murdered.

Still, while he knows that this is real, he is hesitant to actually make a move due to the fact that last time there was no evidence. Then you have Sarah and her telepathic sister Anne. Anne feels some kind of urge to want to stay in Trollenberg. Unfortunately, she is a telepath who is quite susceptible to the alien’s attacks so she keeps trying to climb the mountain where she will be murdered. Fortunately, each of her attempts are always foiled or things would have gotten pretty dicey for her. I’m glad she is trying hard but you wish she could do better. In general that’s the issue with telepaths at times.

Throughout the movie she keeps on saying things like “Watch out!” “Stop!” and things like that. The problem is that her warnings are never very specific and if you listened to them then the heroes would never make a move against the villains. Additionally, she is trying to fight the enemies on her own so of course when she tries to climb the mountain then it makes the others think it can’t be that dangerous right? Even by the end of the film she just gets choked by one of the villains so her powers never end up helping. Sarah does her best to help Anne but doesn’t end up doing much in the film.

From the main characters I would say Alan is the best one. Put it this way, he didn’t want to try and tell people or the government about what was going on but only because when he did the last time he got burned for it. So at least he tried once and in this film he punches out the villains several times so you have to give him some credit there. He is also the one who comes up with the fire bombs plan which ended up being incredibly effective as well so there’s that.

As for the eye monster…well it doesn’t look great. Like I said, he barely even gets to appear and is defeated almost instantly. I have no doubts that he is actually very tough of course but….you just can’t go down that easily. Aside from the people he took out off screen he basically beat like 2-3 people max. That’s not a very impressive number. The monster’s yell is pretty intense though, it really has quite the voice so you’ll hear it for miles.

Part of the plot here is that the monster can mind control people for a limited time after murdering them. Of course…this only works if it doesn’t rip their heads off like the first guy so again I have to admit that the first scene just seems like it’s just there for shock value. The bodies all vanishing makes a lot more sense for what the villain is going for here. The humans look terrible though as two of them lose to a dead guy with an axe. The first guy you could give the excuse of being caught off guard but the second guy? I don’t think so….

The writing is pretty solid as you would expect for a retro film like this. It builds up the suspense pretty well and this could even feel like a Twilight Zone episode. You see the fog coming over to the mountain although probably due to budget reasons don’t expect to get a clear view of it. You may be reminded of The Fog horror films but just remember that this one came first so it actually had the initial idea. That’s what I like to see, it’s most impressive.

Aside from having low screen time though, the creature should have been buffed a little more though. The main characters should not be able to push it back with a single axe. That just looks pretty bad for it and one stick with some fire at the end of it should not be enough to do much of anything. Nah..I can’t buy that. It’s a giant monster, it should be causing massive damage right? If you ask me that makes the most sense so we should have had it completely crushing the mountain and storming the base. Of course the humans would be a little doomed of course.

Overall, The Crawling Eye is a good creature feature movie. Lets face it though, the movie would be even better if the monster had gotten to appear more of course but as it stands, it still made for a pretty interesting villain. What the film should have done was just reduce the amount of time put into the intro. The dialogue is all pretty compelling but we’re here for the monster. Alternately, extend the run time of the film by around 20 minutes which should cover you pretty well on that avenue and then also get you more time for the hype action.

Overall 7/10

Woman on the Run Review


Woman on the Run is a very old school noir title that makes for a good thriller. The film definitely feels like it ends rather quickly but the movie has fast pacing so something is always happening. You’ll also have to decide who you’re rooting for since in this case each character has a reason for why they’re either running or in pursuit.

The movie starts with Frank walking his dog when he witnesses someone trying to arrange a solid deal for himself. It clearly wasn’t the right move as the guy gets shot and Frank almost meets the same fate. The cops quickly show up and explain that this is relating to a mob investigation and the guy who died was going to be the big witness. They now want Frank to be the witness. When he askes if he will have any real protection they basically say no so he dashes out of there. Inspector Ferris is forced to ask Frank’s wife Eleanor for help but unfortunately the two are having a bit of a rocky time in their marriage and she is very uncooperative.

Despite her front with the cops, Eleanor is a little concerned particularly when she finds out that Frank has a relatively serious health condition and needs some pills as soon as possible. She heads out to find him only to be caught by a reporter named Danny. He decides to tag along with her since he really wants a scoop. Will they be able to find Frank before the cops do or are his days of running over?

First off, while I understand this is an important case for the police, I absolutely get why Frank would bolt. The fact of the matter is that he wouldn’t have much protection. If the case falls through or the guy doesn’t get convicted, they will hunt him down right away. Even if he is convicted, depending on the size of the mob they will certainly retaliate to send a message. In both scenarios Frank is taking an awfully big risk whereas if he escapes, as long as he stays out of touch until the trial is over then he’s set.

Escaping for so long would probably be tough nowadays but back then without cameras and such it wasn’t such a tough plan for him. What helps is that Frank has a lot of friends all over the city. It’s a case of Frank’s good deeds ultimately catching up to him here which worked out well. We don’t see him for most of the film but the guy’s a likable character. He’s got a quick wit as well and just does a good job of staying one step ahead of everyone.

Eleanor is really the main character here and she does a great job. She gets a lot of the best lines in the first half of the film as she constantly has something sarcastic to say about about Frank. It’s clear that she isn’t even trying to help solve the case either. She is very much a person who likes to do everything on her own and this is what leads to her own personal investigation. It also helps her understand Frank more and leads to a solid character arc there.

As for Inspector Ferris, he’s a good guy. He may have the rather unpleasant task of having to search for Frank right now but he seems like a good guy. Ferris is also thorough in his searching and does pick up on a lot of clues. The ones he doesn’t quite win are clues he couldn’t possible understand since they are based on experiences only Frank and Eleanor would know. Ferris also has good aim with his weapons and doesn’t freeze up under pressure. He’s someone that you will want to have in your corner.

Then there’s the reporter Danny. Well, he’s fairly clever in his own right but I can’t say I was a big fan of the guy. He was openly flirting with Eleanor quite early on despite the fact that she is married and has a hard time recovering from that. He does come in handy with helping get her through the plan to find Frank but that’s about it. He’s a crucial part to the story and it was nice having someone who was trying to compete with Eleanor intellectually but he doesn’t quite stack up against the other characters.

Where the film really shines here is with the writing. It’s a classic race against time with everyone trying to find Frank. The film isn’t doing anything wildly different or being super ambitious but the execution of the plot is quite strong so it really works out. The movie has no real weaknesses. Everything adds up and turns this into a great film. Each character comes out of this stronger. Frank was a little over the top with trying to be a perfectionist even if it meant bringing no money in so by the end you feel like he’ll be better with this. Eleanor didn’t always take the right message from things but wouldn’t actually talk about it and now I think she would be ready to have more of an open dialogue. I don’t think Ferris would really change but he doesn’t need to anyway since he already did well.

Overall, Woman on the Run is a great film. Sometimes it’s a simple film like this that can really shine because then everything is all on the writing and this film delivers. If you like a solid thriller then I’d recommend this film. Don’t expect a ton of big action scenes or things like that though as this is more of a low key adventure. We do have a real climax though but you shouldn’t be here for the fights in this case. It’s more about finding Frank and getting some answers out of him.

Overall 8/10

Gone Girl 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

Time to look at a pretty ambitious murder mystery film that certainly takes you through quite the roller coaster. At around 2 and a half hours you can imagine that a lot is going to happen here. It’s the kind of film where there will be a lot of debate on what part of the story would be considered a spoiler. Where should you stop the summary if you want people to get the full experience? Typically for convenience I’d just say anything in any of the main trailers is not a spoiler and anything beyond that is. That said, I haven’t seen the trailers for this film so lets see how this goes.

My spoiler free summary would be: Nick heads home on his 5th anniversary to celebrate with his wife Amy. Unfortunately she isn’t there and there are several signs of a struggle in the house. He calls in the cops who do an investigation but they quickly begin to suspect that Nick is the one who bumped off his wife. The setup just doesn’t look right and he keeps on missing details or giving them incorrect information about his wife. Either he didn’t know her very well or he is hiding something. Can Nick prove his innocence and find out who really attacked his wife? He will have to hurry before his life is effectively over.

It’s definitely a pretty intense premise partially because you don’t know if you can trust Nick or not. The very first scene is him thinking about murdering Amy after all so the film is immediately giving you reason not to trust him. He keeps on saying that Amy had no friends and basically no life outside of being at home all the time so that sounds a bit shady on its face as well. There are just a lot of angles to tackle this at so you’re left to your devices as the film keeps things rolling.

Gradually we learn more and more to the point where the film’s plot completely changes from how it started. This wouldn’t be a proper mystery film if you could easily guess the ending right? The main cast is fairly small so each player is able to do a lot. Nick doesn’t make for a likable main character though and in general you may find it hard to find anyone to root for. The two best characters in the film were easily the main cop Rhonda and Nick’s lawyer Tanner. Both of them were always ready for whatever the next step was and how to get ready for it.

There’s more to say on this but I think it’s time to jump into the spoiler part of the review so if you haven’t seen the film yet you can skip the next _ paragraphs as we dive into the nitty gritty details here. So you have enough time to escape as you speed read this I am putting this empty sentence of nothingness/filler that I am typing up as I type this, but then it’s time to dash because we’re going right into this. Are you ready?

So what I wrote so far is what I would consider the spoiler free version of the story. You should really not have any idea that this is something beyond a classic murder mystery film when you’re going into the film and see if you can figure it out for yourself or if not, be surprised with the characters. It turns out that Amy faked her death so that Nick would take the blame and ultimately be put in jail. She’ll then destroy herself which will lead to Nick being destroyed. It’s her ultimate end game plan. The reason she did this is because Nick was cheating on her with one of his students so she figured this would make things even.

Naturally it’s quite the diabolical plan but as we learn about her past, it’s not exactly out of character. She framed another guy for rape, sabotaged various careers, and was extremely unstable throughout her life. Amy is very quick to try and ruin lives whenever she can. So even if Nick hadn’t cheated I don’t doubt that she would have come for him at some point although it’s still important to note that he is the one who made the first move. He began acting distant and messing around with someone on the side before Amy went this far. She also tried to talk with him a few times but he declined each time so she took her drastic measures.

Amy’s an intense antagonist to watch since she has everything so carefully planned. She’s certainly not a likable character in the slightest though and it’s easy to see why people didn’t get along with her. She has a huge superiority complex where she is always insulting someone and has the grossest scene in the film when she spits into someone’s drink. That’s always just super nasty to even think about, much less see. The film makes it clear that she is not exactly going to get redeemed anytime soon and will keep up her antics to the end.

The scene where she flat out murders someone is quite intense. Gone Girl isn’t afraid to really go all out with being rather explicit about her plans and how she accomplishes things. To pull off her claims she does let the guys actually have their way for a bit like Desi who got used from start to finish. You know from the jump that she is going to murder him, the only question is how. That scene certainly got violent fast.

The writing is good with the characters explaining each step of their logic and how it went down. Again, it can be a bit too detailed/explicit if you ask me on explaining how you fool people with these tricks and such. I don’t need all the gritty details and you can put the dots together yourself. One of the themes in the film is pretty much that both Nick and Amy are such corrupt characters that you may wonder who you should be rooting for. Nick’s is clearly the lesser of two evils though so if we’re being honest I would say Amy is clearly the antagonist.

Ultimately it’s the extra details in the writing and the grittiness of the film that holds this one back from being a winner. There are quite a few bits of fanservice here along with one night stands that show more detail than you would expect in the average film. While this is intentional, most of the characters are not likable either so you aren’t exactly left with anyone to root for. These various elements quickly add up to strike points away from the film. It’s got a very interesting plot but it should have focused more on that with the TV commercials and getting the characters debating back and forth and less on making sure each character was thoroughly corrupted. I could also due with two of the more gross scenes in particular.

Meanwhile Nick’s more like an annoyance who talks a lot to say the right things but he clearly doesn’t mean any of it. To finish up with Amy before I move on though, she does occasionally overestimate herself though. Her plans are really well thought out but she doesn’t think as well under duress as seen when she was mugged by her neighbors. It was a pretty bad mistake that she dropped the money the way that she did. They probably would have attacked her eventually but it certainly sped things up.

Now for Nick, so he was cheating on Amy so right off the bat he’s a pretty terrible main character. It gets worse when you see the depths he went through to hide this and that he was going to confess on their anniversary. It’s just a bad way to do things. Then you have to consider that he didn’t know Amy was so psychotic initially so it just seems like he is being mean to her for no real reason. He just fell out of love for her out of the blue. He also hides clues from the cops which just puts him in even more trouble. It may not have gone super well for him but getting in their way wasn’t helping either.

Rhonda is very good at her job and she really thinks about each piece of evidence. She isn’t as quick to condemn Nick the way everyone else is but eventually the evidence is a bit much to ignore. Especially when you consider how unstable Nick is the whole time. Her partner was a lot of fun though, I liked how he was constantly taking shots at Nick the whole time. Clearly he wasn’t having any of this.

Nick’s sister Margo is pretty supportive of him the whole time although she gets rightfully upset when she finds out about the cheating. He wasn’t exactly careful doing all of that while she was right there in the house. The odds of her finding him were pretty high. Finally we have Tanner and his role may not have been large but he was definitely a lot of fun. The guy was good at his job and even though Nick kept sabotaging himself, Tanner did a good job of keeping him in the race.

The movie ends on a rather ambitious note. It’s not quite the ending I would have expected that’s for sure. With this ending there are any number of ways that this could play out. In most cases I would say Amy probably takes the final win but I suppose Nick would have a shot. I think a sequel could take this in some interesting ways by introducing new villains but it still makes sense as a stand alone ending as well. I was pretty satisfied with the ending overall.

Overall, Gone Girl is a pretty intense murder mystery. It’s the kind of film that has its story change so dynamically that it’s hard to really look at in depth without mentioning some spoilers. That said, the less you know about it, the more effectively you will be able to watch it. With all that said, it can get a little too graphic and gritty with setting the stage here. As you do learn more and more about what is happening in the film, you see that the manipulations can go quite far and at high cost to get someone to do what they want. I think you could cut some things out and easily raise the score here but as it stands I would advise checking out Sherlock Holmes or some of those classic mystery films instead which also have a lot of solid twists.

Overall 3/10

Invisible Ghost Review


It’s time to look at a retro horror film from quite a while back. The title right away tells you that this is gonna be pretty good though. How can you go wrong with a ghost who can’t be seen? If you could see the ghost then I’d wager that it wouldn’t be nearly as spooky. That’s just me of course, but I think the logic of it is quite sound when you really think about it. The plot is nothing like what I expected but makes for a quality adventure nonetheless.

The movie starts off by introducing us to the rich Charles and his daughter Virginia. Tragedy struck this manor one day as Charles’ wife ran off with another man and died in a car wreck. He now has an annual dinner with her ghost but otherwise leads a normal life. There is one odd thing about the house he lives in though. A maid/butler tends to die every so often in this place. Over the years there have been a ton of deaths here but the cops are never able to figure out why people keep getting murdered. They’ve advised Charles to leave the house but he refuses since it means a lot to him since it’s where his wife used to live. Well, I suppose the cops can’t force him to leave. Still, the murders continue to strike at an alarming rate. Paul shows up to end this after his brother was framed for the murders and hanged. Can he really get to the bottom of this?

This is a very old school horror. You know who the guilty party is fairly early on so the tension is seeing if the cops can figure it out. It makes for a lot of entertaining scenes though since the villain is quite smug the whole time. Of course, whether or not he actually knows what he is doing may be slightly debatable due to the ending. Personally I would say he was aware. See, my theory is that he realized that the scales had to be balanced. Each visit required another sacrifice to keep the ritual going. It was all in a rather crazy set of circumstances and you’d have to stretch logic a whole lot for this to make sense but it’s not like he was a very balanced individual to start with.

The writing is very well done here. There’s quite a good amount of humor to be found here although the movie is still serious by nature. Characters just have a lot of fun with the facial expressions and quick jabs here and there. Evans for example was a very solid character. He took everything in stride and tried not to get involved in people’s affairs. Of course he still can’t help but notice all of the people getting bumped off and starts to keep his eye on everyone around. Evans doesn’t let his guard down the way that the others do. He even starts the day whistling as he tries to focus on his work. He’s rarely allowed to as things keep on happening in the manor but he does his best. He certainly steals the show.

Otherwise Charles is very solid as you would expect as well and would be another contender for the top spot. His accent is definitely iconic at this point and he has a way with words. Nothing phases Charles in the slightest and he always does what he can to help. Charles is to first one to start with the pleasantries and he always acts with a lot of empathy towards everyone. The guy appears to be as nice as can be on the outside and does his best to cope. Then you have Virginia who has a pretty rough time of it in this film. She has a fiance but things don’t go very well for him and otherwise her role isn’t huge here. She’s a fun character either way though.

As for Paul, I liked the guy’s confidence. He’s the kind of character you always gotta bring into the mix because you know that he’ll shake things up. He acts like a detective and does more sleuthing than the actual investigators. He quickly goes to find some hair and even thinks of bringing in the psychiatrist. I can’t say that the guy was of much help, but at least he was trying a lot of things. It’s hard to say if the cops were trying much of anything here. I suppose as the murders kept on going with no end in sight there came a point where they just threw in the towel. It’s pretty unfortunate when you think about it but that just seems to be how it went down.

There aren’t any supernatural elements to be found in this film but even without a ghost the film is able to keep your attention. That’s due in large part to how good the film’s writing and pacing were. There’s not much more to be said about the film though due to how direct it is. At the end of the day I didn’t really have any issues with the film. It accomplishes in what it sets out to do. There may not be any ambitious story behind the film or anything like that but sometimes you just need to nail down the fundamentals and the rest will follow. This is one of those cases.

Overall, Invisible Ghost is a very old school horror film with a rather basic plot. Someone is murdering a bunch of people and so we have to expose the culprit. You don’t really see stories quite like this nowadays as everything usually has big twists or a much larger plot. Still, you just can’t beat the basic bread and butters of the genre. I would recommend checking this one out whenever you have a chance. The movie has aged exceptionally well and is just a lot of fun. It can be pretty serious and there is a body count but the film sprinkles in just enough humor to give it that nice balance as you eagerly awaits what happens next.

Overall 7/10

Sinister Review

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

It’s time to look at a horror film that actually isn’t too old. I suppose the time is relative though, at this point maybe someone would consider 2012 to be forever ago. Sinister is definitely a pretty terrible horror film that plays out like you would expect. It’s certainly pretty grim and gets pretty dark right from the jump. It never really gets better from there but no worries, you do have your classic horror type ending here. That’s definitely a staple and Sinister made sure to abide by it so even if I wouldn’t give the movie a thumbs up, it does respect the traditions.

The movie starts with Edison and his family moving over to a new house. Edison writes books about grisly murders which were never solved. He figures that this will help bring justice to the victims who need it. After all, they died before they could do everything they wanted to do so at least now he could help put the villain away for good. This case looks like it’ll be a lot more difficult to crack than his last few though. The murders have some very occult elements to them and there really might be something supernatural in the works here. One thing’s for sure, Edison can’t lower his guard here if he wants to leave the place alive.

Well, Edison does everything he can to make sure you can’t root for him all that much. He literally takes out the beer bottles and starts drinking as soon as the first tape is in. He makes sure to mention quite a lot that he isn’t an alchoholic or anything like that but his actions don’t always match up. Edison also never seems to really follow what he is saying. For example, he says that writing books isn’t about the money or the fame and that he wants justice. Yet, all he can think of are the possible TV deals and such when discussing the book. He is actually quite obsessed with being famous to the point where it seems to matter more to him than the justice part.

He also lies to his wife right away when saying that their house isn’t related to the murderer’s one. Now, he words his response in a way where he later tries to say that it wasn’t a lie, but that’s a technicality at best. He knew exactly what she was asking and said the opposite anyway. Edison’s made life rather difficult for the rest of his family. His son suffers from night terrors which have gotten worse ever since they moved, his daughter had to part with all of her friends, and his wife is certainly not well liked by the neighbors thanks to all of the murders going around. It’s just not a pleasant environment. It’s one that Edison is certainly okay with but now that he has a family he has to include them in his considerations as well.

Edison also makes a lot of typical horror protagonist mistakes. For starters, while he doesn’t believe in the supernatural, he’s given a lot of opportunities to figure things out and escape. The kids start learning things they couldn’t possibly know, names they shouldn’t recognize, and his projector keeps turning on by itself at night. Shouldn’t this be enough for him to let the family know that something is up? “Best” case scenario is that someone just keeps breaking into the house and worst case is that the demons are around. Either way this is something that he needs to explain at least to his wife so that they will be ready. By not telling them anything then they’re just going to go down like all the rest.

The villain himself doesn’t really appear much. Based on what we learn from the lore and what not it’s basically a demon with quite a lot of power. While it isn’t able to possess adults very easily it can do so with a little practice. Beyond that it has the usual reality warping skills and slight of hand. Not the most imaginative villain out there but I will give him props for the costume. At the very least that one looks pretty decent whenever we actually get to see it appear which isn’t very often.

The Deputy was pretty neat though. He kept it 100 with Edison and was always trying his best to help. Edison might have actually had a shot to last longer if he had just listened to the guy instead of hitting ignore on his phone the whole time. Again, Edison really helped to wrap himself in all the trouble he caused. If he had listened to his wife earlier then nothing would have happened. Additionally once the supernatural stuff started to happen he should have clued everyone in. This is really just a case of Edison ignoring all of the signs until it was too late.

The whole gimmick of having to watch the tapes each time doesn’t do the film any favors either. Each tape is about a family getting bumped off in pretty violent ways. Whether it is by drowning or burning, they never quite survive. There’s no way they could have since the whole point is that the villain has been bumping everyone off for a long while now. In a way that makes the tapes worse since you know that they’re all doomed from the start so it’s not like watching them will change anything. Additionally, expect to see each tape several times as they cut to flashbacks quite often. You’ll know each of the tapes quite well by the climax because of that. With the kids dying in those tapes as well they’re definitely no good. There are a bunch of different jump scares in the film though so we’ll see if any of them land for you. I’ll say this at least, I was expecting the dog to die so when he didn’t I was happy about that. It sort of cancelled out though as a dog died in one of the videos…so there goes that. For every step the film took forward it took about 5 back.

Overall, Sinister is one of those films that’s pretty mean spirited and doesn’t really add anything to the cinematic world. Edison does the genre leads proud with how he misses every clue though. He is determined to crack this case and seems to think that he is tough enough to survive all of the scares. That is clearly not the case but I guess I’ll give him some points for bravery…or I would if he didn’t lose them all by running to the beer bottle and lying about it. This is the kind of movie where he probably would have been doomed either way but at least Edison could have given the others a chance. I also think it’s worth pointing out that the Deputy was able to notice things that the lead did not despite working on this case for a much shorter period of time. The Sheriff claimed that Edison was washed up and maybe he was right.

Overall 0/10

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 Boy with the Striped Pajamas Review


It’s time to look at an old tragedy film and unfortunately this one did not manage to really get anything right. You get the feeling that it’s not going to be a very good movie early on when you learn that the main characters are Nazi’s. Two of the main characters are kids so the adults are trying to indoctrinate them into this. As you can probably guess the film tends to be quite mean spirited throughout and ultimately by the end of it you’ll feel like the experience was a waste of time. Any message the film was trying to get at was quickly washed away.

So the film starts with Ralf getting a promotion. He is to move closer to one of the concentration camps to oversee the atrocities being committed over there. Ralf is eager to get started and so the whole group moves in where they will now be accompanied by soldiers at all times. His wife Elsa didn’t realize just how close they would be to the farms but that seems to be more of a concern than what is actually taking place. Their children Bruno and Gretel aren’t quite old enough to understand this either although they have begone to be molded into future Nazi’s by their tutor. One day Bruno meets a kid in the camp named Shmuel and decides to be friends. Bruno is convinced that Shmuel is just enjoying a game on the other side even though Shmuel tries to explain what is happening. Can there possibly be a happy ending here?

So there are a ton of issues. One of the more basic ones is that it’s always been very hard for children to hold their own films. They just aren’t interesting enough to work as the lead and that ends up holding them back quite a bit. Bruno is portrayed as being so slow to understand the situation that it gets old pretty quick. At the very least seeing that Shmuel is behind a cage should make things pretty obvious. It’s not like he appeared to be in good condition either so the whole “game” idea didn’t make sense from the jump. Bruno also has enough knowledge of the situation to sell Shmuel out later on in the film.

The betrayal scene was definitely pretty bad as Bruno allowed Shmuel to be beaten for a lie that was entirely Bruno’s fault. Definitely not a good scene. Bruno also watches Ralf stand by as their house attendant was beaten to death for pretty much no reason. It’s a pretty toxic environment he was in and Bruno never put the pieces together. Gretel gets less of a role but she is very easily thrown into full mania over the cause so I wouldn’t say that she looked very good either. It was very easy to convert her.

Naturally when it comes to the adults they are even worse. The kids at least have the excuse of being children so not only is there not much that they could do, but they don’t have all of the information at hand. Ralf and Elsa certainly do. Elsa is portrayed as being a little more sympathetic than Ralf as she is not completely on board with the cause but she does go along with it enough to have gotten to this point. Ralf on the other hand is definitely one of the main villains here as he fully supports everything that’s being done. Part of the problem with having the Nazi’s as the main characters is that there is no way to sympathize with them so no matter what happens you’re left feeling that it is all due to what they have done. They’ve murdered numerous people already and likely even after this event there will be more to come.

Pretty much every other scene is something bad happening to someone. Someone’s being beaten or intimidated at all times. The ending keeps that mean spirited approach as well and you’ll probably understand what is about to happen as soon as the final scene starts to develop. I suppose it at least doesn’t leave much room for a sequel. The plot just never stood a chance from the start. It’s conceivable that you could try to have some kind of a decent film with a Nazi main character who learns the error of his ways and truly converts out of that. It would still have to be handled with the utmost care though and more times than not I would expect the attempt to fail. This film didn’t even try to go for that. The main characters are still Nazi’s by the end even if they are not pleased with what went on. I don’t really expect that to change in the end either. Maybe Elsa will put some distance but I’m not really sure about that.

In general if you’re going to have the main characters be on the villain’s side then there’s one of two ways to handle that. One is to make the villain fairly likable. The way to do that is by having a motive that you can understand and root for the villain to an extent or by having the villain be super charismatic so even while things are going on it’s not a tough watch. The other is to have the main character grow up on the villain’s side but realize it isn’t the right way and revolt. To do that the main character has to be old enough to make a difference though. So having a kid as a main character wasn’t going to work either way.

Overall, Even the name of the film will remind you of Bruno’s odd attempts to escape reality. It’s always tough when a film has no real redeemable qualities but I would have to say that this film fits the bill. There’s never a moment in the film where you will actually be enjoying it and that’s the problem. It tends to drag on for quite a long while and I would highly recommend skipping this film and going for something else instead. You’ve definitely got many better options for titles to check out.

Overall 0/10

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

The Third Day Review


It’s time to look at an old film that really starts to fall down towards the end. It’s a mystery film that tries to throw in a lot of twists and turns to the point where the red herrings start to not make any sense at all. The movie’s a little compelling at the start but gradually it gets less and less interesting which is really not a good thing for a mystery film. If anything it’s probably one of the worst things that could happen to a title in this genre. Quite unfortunate but not every mystery film is destined to be a winner.

The movie starts with Steve walking out of a car crash. It was a close shave for him but he’s alive which is what counts. Unfortunately he has no recollection of his life prior to waking up. The man has complete amnesia and that’s not good. It turns out that he’s rich and about to make a deal that will earn him and his company a ton of money but at the expense of all the jobs in the town. Effectively he is about to sell out to corporate and his wife is also upset at him. Nobody seems to like Steve and according to his mother in law it’s because Steve has been acting pretty terrible lately. His father in law is in a coma as well and Oliver despises Steve as well. Steve needs to find out what happened and also try to lead a better life, but is it too late?

Amnesia is definitely one of those things that is pretty scary to think about. Waking up and suddenly not knowing anything about yourself is intense. Even when people try to give you the full scoop there will always be some nagging doubts that they could be lying to you or something. This case of amnesia is pretty convenient as Steve remembers how to do everything. He has memories of everything not relating to his life, but I believe this does have some basis in fact as amnesia patients sometimes do remember lots of things due to muscle memory. It’s just the recollection that is gone. Films about amnesia can be pretty hit or miss. This one was handling the concept well until it wasn’t.

One random red herring is a scene with Alexandria and Oliver. Her dress was apparently a little too low so he helps her push it up. The whole scene seems way too familiar and at that point I figured perhaps they were both traitors and in on the conspiracy. I believe the film is actually trying to push that thought as well but in universe Alexandria has no reason to do this. At best you could say she is still upset at Steve and wanting to mess with him, but she also dislikes Oliver and so I can’t picture this chain of events happening at all. It’s a pure red herring.

Additionally what hurts the film is the annoying climax. So part of what was going on with Steve in the past had to due with Lester’s wife. The guy has sworn revenge and made this clear to Steve several times. He should definitely have let his wife know to watch out for him. The scene of him walking into the house and telling Alexandria to get in the car with him is pretty suspect. Most likely he would have just taken a gun out if she hadn’t gone with him, but going with the guy in the first place is a stretch. You just don’t hop into a car like that, even if this was the 60’s. Lester is also a character that we absolutely didn’t need. The film definitely wanted to have some kind of dramatic final showdown but it should have definitely skipped out on that. The whole climax is pretty bad and adds a darker layer to the film.

Unfortunately the flashbacks also hurt Steve quite a lot. He was definitely being pretty unfaithful there and the ole “he was feeling weak” excuse doesn’t cut it. Even in the present you can make the case that his moral compass isn’t great as he lets quite a few people kiss him. One of them does this multiple times and he just seems to find it amusing. Keep in mind that his wife is standing right next to him the entire time. No matter how you slice it Steve is just a pretty terrible character so I couldn’t even root for him. When you’ve got a film where the lead is bad like that it definitely hurts quite a bit.

Alexandria is a solid character. She definitely seems to have very valid reasons to be upset with him as the film goes on. If you ask me she appears to be totally justified and unlike Steve she wasn’t being unfaithful. Alexandria puts up with quite a lot throughout the film. Finally you have Oliver who gets a pretty big role in all of this. He certainly has a few twists. The guy definitely doesn’t like Steve but puts up with the lead so he can get his cut of the big pay day. The old Steve seemed to not have realized this although Oliver is pretty obvious about it from the start so it’s hard to see why.

One final issue I had with the film is how everyone is intentionally vague to prolong the plot. When Steve asks his mother-in-law to explain things she intentionally never says anything. She talks a lot without saying things of substance. Can’t she just quickly tell Steve what is going on? She’s cryptic and this is something that happens a lot in mysteries. People just don’t give you straight arrows and it’s particularly annoying in this film since the writing isn’t particularly amazing or anything like that. It’s decent writing I’d say, but not in a way that doesn’t make this feel forced. It’s probably the worst element you could do in an amnesia type film.

Overall, The Third Day isn’t a particularly good film. Usually you get more engaged as the mystery starts to be explained while this one did the opposite. At times the resolution of a mystery may not be as grand as you had hoped so I can see a slight dip, but this one just crashed. The film had a ton of potential and I feel like it was ultimately squandered here. The film could have been so much better but that was not to be. If you want to watch a good mystery film I recommend checking out one of the Sherlock Holmes films instead. Those are all much better than this one.

Overall 3/10