The Tingler Review

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It’s time to look at an old film known as the Tingler. It’s a movie that will cause you to re-think everything you thought you knew about the notion of fear. At least, that’s what the film thinks. We even get an intro at the beginning where the writer is basically begging you to try and act scared during the film since the whole climax revolves around this. It’s a little rough since these films are hardly scary and you’d have to have a group of friends around to be bold enough to yell in the first place. All in all, it wasn’t the best film out there, but as far as horror titles go it could have been a whole lot worse.

So the movie starts off with Chapin figuring out that inside of every human is a giant worm known as the Tingler. It explains the back pains we get when we’re older. When people get super scared the worm gets huge and starts crushing us from the inside however as soon as you yell the noise vaporizes the creature. As such it is hard to capture the thing alive since this is the weakest monster in a very long time. Chapin tries to scare himself but he simply isn’t brave enough and ends up yelling. The effect also doesn’t work too well on his wife since she ends up passing out. No, he needs someone who can’t yell out. That’s where Martha comes in. She is mute and cannot let her fear out. She conveniently dies of fear and so Chapin gets a hold of the Tingler. Will this really make him rich and famous or has he done all of this for nothing?

Chapin is one of those eccentric main characters who wants to prevail in his scientific endeavors no matter the cost. Whatever it takes is what he will do, even if it means putting someone at gunpoint. He is rocky enough where the film is able to successfully pull off some misdirects with him. There are two times in the film where you think he is going to do one thing and he does the other. Both were unexpected and particularly the latter twist as it happens at the very end of the film. Even if these twists gave Chapin a little humanity I can’t say that he was a great character. Let’s step away from the moral ambiguities of even trying to capture a Tingler. Once he actually does have one he doesn’t even want to do anything with it. He decides that there are forces of nature beyond man. All I can say to that is it’s a little late for second thoughts at this stage in the game. At that point everyone suffered for nothing. Chapin is also rather naive.

In a subplot, his wife has been cheating on him for a while now and is trying to steal money from his employee’s fiancée. Chapin confronts her about this and then gets the gun ready. Later on she claims to have had a total change of heart and serves him a drink. He flips the cups thinking that he has outsmarted her but the plan was a little more intricate than that. What he should have done was not drink at all. How could he take such a big risk? The wife is naturally not a good character either. She’s basically just around to try and make everyone’s lives a lot tougher than they needed to be. The film never tries to make her sympathetic and that’s certainly for the best.

Then we have Oliver who seems a little unbalanced. He likes to drink a lot and just seems very off during the scene where he visits his brother’s body in the beginning. He wonders what it would feel like to be in the chair and stuff like that. Even Chapin has to cut him off a few times. Oliver never ends up becoming a decent character and if anything the lead was probably a little too polite to him by the end. At least Chapin is fearless I’ll give him that. Martha could be annoying at times since she would act very suspicious right from the start. She is clearly very connected to her money and didn’t want to let it out of her sight even for an instant. That being said, she is a little too rattled by basic things like a little cut. I suppose it can be unnerving, but all of this together just made her a little too eccentric.

As for the actual Tingler, it’s hard to the creature seriously. Essentially it’s just a big worm with pincirs. Once it has you in its grip then it’s all over. I can appreciate the threat that this would pose to most humans in this film, but he could have had a cooler design. At the end of the day it just didn’t seem that strong. The main characters seem to think that it cannot be destroyed, but they hardly even tried doing anything to prove that theory. As a result it is hard to really buy into that hypothesis. Where’s the proof?

The ending was certainly interesting with how we got a twist like in a modern horror film. Considering who was getting twisted you’ll be hard pressed to try and defend the guy. As they say, karma arrives awfully quick in most horror titles. Play the villain at your own risk there. I guess the film did a reasonable job of making most of the twists realistic throughout but it’s all still tragic for the victim. According to the villain the victim had tried similar deadly things on him off screen, but it’s hard to know if he was being legit or even if it matters.

Overall, The Tingler is a film that likes its plot twists. They actually did work rather well so I’ll give the film some props there. Still, the movie felt rather unfocused. I still can’t believe that Chapin would give up on his dream so quickly after being completely obsessed over the Tingler for many years. That is just too rushed. Most of the characters seem to be rather crazy as well so there’s no one to root for. Even Chapin’s employee is basically just going along with all of this for his paycheck even though he has a feeling that things just aren’t right at the moment. He may as well be an accomplice. He was also going to bring some animals to test the fear element on which is inhumane at best. No, the only character to root for here is the Tingler as it works to destroy all of humanity.

Overall 4/10

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The Masque of the Red Death Review

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It’s time to look at an old horror film where Vincent Price must take the stage once more. I’ve already seen this story adapted once and it got the flat 0. That wasn’t the most reassuring moment out there but maybe this one would be better? Unfortunately that is not the case and I’m afraid that we have yet another flop here. This movie just didn’t have the skills to pull off the win.

The film starts with a village being raided by the evil prince and most of the villagers are murdered. Only 3 are spared, a girl, her father, and her betrothed. The prince decides he will break the girl’s spirit so that he can take his ultimate victory. However, the villagers did speak of a day of deliverance so the prince has to watch out.

This film deals with a lot of satanic themes as the villains worship the demon. It’s about as hard to watch as you’d expect since most of the characters are devil worshipers. That makes it rather hard to root for anyone or to stay invested in the film. It’s all about showing how evil everyone is and there isn’t really much of a point that the film was driving towards either. It’s just a lot of scenes of nothing and dreams which last forever.

This film also manages to squeeze in some animal violence just so it could tick that box as a bird quickly gets destroyed by another. It’s yet another moment where the film keeps on trying to lower the bar it has set for itself. If there was some good writing or pacing then the film could at least try to survive some of this but nothing of the sort is to be found here so the film was doomed.

Unfortunately the main character is also a disgrace here as she ultimately ends up forsaking her faith under pressure. It’s another shame that this movie throws in to undermine her character arc and to try to say that everyone would falter at some point. Yeah in this world everyone turned out to be evil so the lead had no positive influences to turn to, but I don’t see why she had to quickly throw her soul away at that point.

The brother and the father also forgot their own character arcs as they swore not to fight each other and then went up against each other in a poison dagger match. Clearly one of them would die in such a match so they were destroying each other even if it was indirectly. These are the kinds of character consistency you would expect from this film.

By the time the Red Death shows up to finish everyone off you’re just waiting for the film to end. Could he have taken any longer? The villagers should definitely be upset since the guy didn’t ultimately help them much. I suppose it also shows why you shouldn’t just trust strangers with your life after meeting them once.

The film could also be rather violent at times. The dream sequence certainly comes to mind where someone gets axes quite a bit. The film just can’t help itself it would seem. When everyone gets infected by the red death they also begin to look quite grotesque which isn’t helping the film’s case either. At least we don’t see characters chopped up like in other horror films coming soon, but this film was just desperate to get everything wrong.

If this film could have attempted to show any class it would have at least made the main heroine a little more knowledgeable so she could talk back to the prince. He likes to bring up the same old talking points like if God exists then why is everyone so evil or why he won’t personally show up to save them. Each time the main character starts to stammer or just says that she doesn’t know. Those are basically the worst answers you can give to such questions. She could have responded with the basic concept of free choice and that’s why people can still be evil or how tribulations and trials make you stronger. Instead she basically gives up, just like the film gave up on having a good story.

Overall, The Masque is the Red Death is definitely a film that I would recommend avoiding. There are no redeemable qualities to be found here. If it did anything right it is that the film isn’t super long even if it does drag for quite a while. There’s no point in watching the villain’s worship satan and the scenes are way too long. It’s why films that are all about showing how depraved humanity is will always be destined to fail. There’s just no entertainment value there. If you want to go watch a good horror film, just stick to the comedic ones.

Overall 0/10

The Pit and the Pendulum Review

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It’s time to look at one of those horror films where you know that someone’s gonna turn crazy from the get go. It takes place at an old castle and people have been mysteriously dying. You can’t really draw any other conclusion than this as a result right? The cast of characters is rather small, but as all of them are fairly annoying you begin to wish there were even fewer characters. It’s a pretty bad film that just stays very dreary throughout. You’ll be waiting for some life to be inserted into the film only to no avail.

The film starts off with Francis running to the mansion of Nicholas since he has heard that his sister died. Nicholas explains that she was sick, but forgets to get on the same page as Doctor Leon so the story is botched from the start. Francis quickly demands an explanation, but he isn’t getting one. That’s when Nicholas starts to go crazy and the cast hears a ghost from the great beyond. Is it possible that the sister still is in fact alive or is there something else at play here?

First off, the villains aren’t very smart here. So of course, you’ve got the “ghost.” Her role is to convince Nicholas that he is insane so his mind can break and she can then finish him off. The problem is that turning him insane would likely just make him even more dangerous so I don’t see how that would help. The odds of Nicholas just fainting and dying the way that they all envisioned just doesn’t seem all that likely. Even when the plan seems to work they don’t try finishing him off. Instead they decide to waste time gloating about it and rubbing their victory in his face. Naturally Nicholas doesn’t like this very much and retaliates.

Meanwhile you have Francis who is oblivious to all of this. He starts off by talking a big game, but very quickly you realize that this is all hot air. He is completely outmatched against the others. Nicholas takes him out with a single back hand. Sure, Francis was right to be skeptical so it’s good that he didn’t leave but at the same time he should have been more afraid to fight. What was his plan if Nicholas was the cruel murderer that Francis thought he might be? The lead can’t fight for beans so I think he should have thought this whole thing through a little more.

Then you’ve got the tragic backstory for Nicholas which just makes everyone look even worse. It turns out that his Uncle and Mother colluded against his father in secret so the guy murdered both of them. Now in the present this situation has gone full circle with other characters. That’s why you probably want to be careful when your house has an actual torture chamber inside of it. Definitely a very dark element and it’s used in both the flashback and the present day adventure. Even the twist ending opts to go for a more tragic route as opposed to being a hype one where the monster escapes. Someone is stuck in a cage with no foreseeable way out which is a pretty brutal way to go.

I suppose the script isn’t all that bad. The characters are all very theatrical and like to make sure that everyone knows what a tough journey they’ve had. All of the characters throw a lot of banter around and speak on each other’s behalf. You’re supposed to trust person B because A says so and vice versa. With nobody willing to tell the full truth you have to discern what is happening based on obvious plot devices and the subtext of what they’re saying. Unfortunately Francis isn’t quite ready for such a revelation.

While the character he is playing is no good, Vincent Price still does a good job of playing the same character he always does. He’s one of the most consistent actors from back in the day. I can’t say that I really follow too many actors/actresses because acting ability tends to look basically the same to me regardless of who it is, but in the modern day Tom Cruise is an example of a solid actor who always seems to be playing the same character and that’s why it works well. Likewise Vincent Price seemed to be that way in the old adventures. No matter what character he is playing you will likely recognize the guy almost immediately. It’s also the tip off to how you know he will turn evil by the end. That’s basically how it always goes.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend checking this film out. If you want a grim tale from the olden days then this could work for you though. One aspect of these old films that makes the situations feel a lot more dangerous than modern ones is the fact that nobody is around to help. This film takes place in a very remote area where nobody lives for miles. You can’t hail a cab and there aren’t any cell phones either. Escape would be rather difficult at best and while Francis could still make a run for it, you can see why the situation is rather dire. It’s hard to recreate that sense of tension in a modern film although I’m sure they try their best. Now, if you want a much better horror film with plot twists and a character trying to find out the truth, check out the edited version of House instead. Now that one delivers on being quality entertainment.

Overall 2/10

The Mad Magician Review

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It’s time to look at the Mad Magician, a Vincent Price film that plays it by the numbers for better or worse. The instant you see him show up you know that things are going to be tragic for his character and that he will turn to a life a crime. This film does handle itself fairly well though and may be one of the better Price films. Most of the characters are not very smart as you would expect though.

The film starts off with Mr. Gallico getting ready to perform his first ever show. For years he has built the magic tricks behind the scenes that have allowed others to get famous. Well, this will happen no more! Gallico is determined to show that he can be a great showman too. Unfortunately his boss shuts the show down and informs Gallico that he will never be allowed to take any credit for as long as he lives. Gallico decides that this is acceptable and so begins his murder spree as he tries to stay off the radar but more and more people start realizing that he is guilty. Can Gallico ever find peace?

Naturally Gallico does dig his own grave with the first murder. Honestly he was doomed as soon as he let the heroine get away with the head during the opening scenes as it certainly did make him look suspicious. Otherwise he could have just not murdered anybody and could have acted innocent the whole time. This didn’t quite pan out but it shows how an early mistake can really have an impact.

At least you can feel a little sympathy for Gallico unlike the average villain. It’s always a shame when corporate takes someone hostage thanks to the contract. Apparently this one was unbreakable and basically the company owns Gallico for life. It’s definitely an extreme contract and I’m sure that Gallico is wishing that he had read the contract a little better now. As always Price makes his characters pretty interesting to watch as his voice is very charismatic. You always get the feeling that the character is up to something. He certainly was a great inventor here, just a mad one.

The supporting cast here was better than usual. First up is the cop who won’t take no for an answer. Alan certainly goes through a lot of work trying to prove his fingerprint theory. That being said, he is unfortunately very weak and not very smart. Even after Alan breaks into Gallico’s office and knows with a decent amount of confidence that the man is guilty, he allows himself to be caught by surprise. He goes down quite easily to Gallico’s impressive karate chops. So I can give the cop some props for his deductive skills and being pretty pro active but the climax didn’t help him all that much.

There is also the murder author who allows Gallico to stay over while he is disguised as his boss who he murdered. This buys him some time but certainly doesn’t help in the long run as she is very perceptive and has come up with some plots that involved a lot of murders. There is one odd scene where she almost seems nervous about Gallico’s crematorium but by then she may have started to piece the puzzle together so it makes sense. Unfortunately she also looks a little weak in the climax. While Gallico is beating the cop like a drum, the author and the main heroine don’t lift a finger to help and instead run to the window to yell for help. A little assistance would have been nice and they would have outnumbered Gallico 3-1 so I would have liked their odds.

As far as the meaner characters are concerned, Gallico’s boss was a fun character to watch. He was rather extreme the whole time but at least he acted with confidence. His end was certainly inevitable though. Likewise, Rinaldi was also doomed as he kept trying to rub it in to Gallico that the inventor would never be allowed to star in he show. Once he found out that Gallico had been murdering people you would have assumed that he would play it cautiously right? Instead he goes back to the house to brag when the two of them are all alone and doesn’t notice that Gallico has locked the door. At that point you knew that he didn’t stand a chance. The same goes for the ex wife of Gallico who left him for money. She doesn’t try to blackmail him for anything but seems like he type of character who would at some point. She also took a little too long to realize how dangerous he was.

As far as the deaths go, the film is fairly tame. Only the first death is rather violent and it is off screen so it’s really just the implied violence that makes the scene intense. The other deaths are totally off screen. The writing is pretty solid as you would expect from an old school film like this one. All of the characters are very confident and self assured as they talk with smug expressions on their faces. That’s why the characters can be charismatic whether they are heroes or villains.

The whole idea of using a realistic mask to make yourself appear to be someone else definitely is a bit of a stretch but I suppose none of the characters knew the magicians too well. Those who did were able to quickly see through the disguise so there is that. I think Gallico probably made a mistake in not giving his hand prints right away while disguised as Rinaldi. This is really what made the cops suspicious of him. If he had given his prints and they were seen to be the same as the guy who died, then perhaps the cops would have been forced to have forgotten about the finger print idea entirely. It was a gamble either way though, Gallico put himself in a bad spot.

Overall, The Mad Magician is a fun film that will keep you entertained. It may be part horror, but the film feels like it attempts to have quite a few moments of comedy that work well. Basically this involves any scene where Gallico is slowly walking towards his prey. The villains eventually drive Gallico mad but but at least he doesn’t start randomly taking it out on everyone and mainly sticks to his goals. The film doesn’t try to be extra gritty or anything and the pacing is pretty good all the way through. I’d recommend checking this film out and it’ll serve as a good reminder that signing a contract with corporate is always a risky endeavor at best.

Overall 7/10

Laura Review

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It’s time to look at a very retro mystery film. The cast is actually smaller than I thought it was as Wikipedia only lists 6 people in the film. Naturally, some of them may just not have been big enough to have their own section, but it goes to show that if the story is quick enough you won’t even notice this. It’s a solid movie that really does a good job of throwing in a lot of twists and turns without getting redundant. The cast is solid and this film really flies by. This review does have some big spoilers depending on what you count. It’s a big plot point that happens around halfway through the film so it’s pretty debatable.

The basic premise of the film is that a lady by the name of Laura has been murdered. She went up against a shotgun and didn’t exactly win the encounter. A private eye known as Mark shows up to get to the bottom of this. Waldo wants justice because Laura was a close business associate of his and he had been helping her rise up the business ranks until this happened. Mark continues his investigation which leads him to Shelby, a rather suspicious man who has many affairs and always seems to be after people with money. This mystery will be a piece of cake for this baseball master, but unfortunately Mark starts to realize that this case is quite personal. Can he put his feelings aside or has he always been on a path to destruction?

Ironically, the weakest character here may be Mark. Shelby is certainly more unlikable as he’s just a bad guy, but it’s incredibly difficult to sympathize with Mark’s plight. How can you possibly start to fall for a picture? If someone’s dead, they’re not exactly going to make for a very attractive prospect. What the film should have done was just doubled down on his tough demeanor to show that this guy was one detective who wouldn’t get pushed around by anyone. He would solve this case no matter how tough it got. By making him distracted it took away from his whole character. I did like his Baseball gimmick though. Right when he started taking out the game I knew that it would be the best part of his character.

At least the detective doesn’t look downright bad for the most part. His only unfortunate moment was at the very end of the film where he assures Laura that she will be safe and then runs out of the building so fast that you’ll think he’s a blur. This gives the culprit plenty of time to waltz in and finish the job. Laura is just lucky that the villain is such a poor shot or else this could have been the end.

Wait, why is Laura even being mentioned? Well, that’s one of the big plot points of the film. Laura isn’t actually dead and merely went to the forest for a while. Since these were the days before radio and internet nobody actually knew where she was and when they went to the house she had stepped out for a moment. Definitely some interesting logic there, but I can buy it to an extent as there wasn’t much else to do back in the day aside from walking so she may have just been adventuring all day. Laura isn’t a very likable character as she does lead everyone on and doesn’t even mind playing second fiddle after a while. It gets rather complicated, but she knows from the start that Shelby can’t be trusted and also allows Waldo to treat her to many meals. They may be platonic friends, but then she should pay the bill, otherwise things get dicey. She just seems rather easy and Mark should be careful what he’s getting himself into. Her web of deceit will continue to stretch farther and farther.

As for Waldo, he’s certainly the most amusing character in the film. He’s always got a snappy comeback at the ready and certainly doesn’t get intimidated by anyone. To think that he started out as a rather snobbish businessman before he got involved with Laura and changed quite a bit. You can’t deny that the guy does his homework though. He didn’t even need to make up lies about the people Laura hung out with, he just dug up the dirt that they left around the house. They made his job easy, but he always went the extra mile. Naturally a person this obsessive tends to be fairly dangerous in films like these but if the detective is going to make a move he better be careful about it.

Finally there is Shelby. It’s certainly different to see Vincent Price in a young role for a change. The character is fairly quick witted, but can never quite keep up with Waldo. He does make for a good rival though. He’s not exactly a man of principles, but isn’t ashamed to admit as much. Everyone knows what kind of a guy he is, but they don’t care because of his charisma. It’s definitely a credit to his character that he is able to deceive people so easily and he makes for a solid antagonist.

The only weak aspect of this film is naturally the romance. It’s just not handled very well at all. Laura basically plays everyone and they all fall for the game quite easily. It would have been nice if the same had been true for them and at the end they all admitted to just manipulating the others for personal gain. That’s practically what the situation was for most of them anyway. A film like this one should have everyone stay purely platonic as that would certainly add to the suspense and make the characters look a little tougher and more savvy on how things usually play out here.

Still, the writing was certainly great beyond that. The film did a good job of making everyone seem suspicious at times and having all of the characters stay on guard. The banter between all of the characters was on point as you would expect it to be. Dialogue is crucial for a noir film like this one and I’m happy to say that it did indeed deliver. It’s why its so hard to do a film like this one nowadays. The writing just isn’t up to par with the good ole days and it’s very rare that a film proves me wrong. There were just higher standards in the past and that’s why there were so many well written films like this one hiding in the cracks of time.

Overall, Laura is a really fun film. It’s a murder mystery that still has quite a bit of humor and solid pacing to go along with it. The romance is rather weak, but what else is new right? The twist of Laura being alive could have been rather disastrous if handled wrong, but since it rarely tends to happen the twist worked really well. I can definitely recommend this film to anyone who likes a little suspense and danger. There’s never a dull moment in this film so you’ll end up being on guard from start to finish. In a film like this one, you really can’t trust anyone.

Overall 8/10

Tales of Terror Review

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It’s time for a horror anthology. If there are any two words that should strike fear into your heart, it’s those last two words. Horror films don’t have a good track record and the same can and will be said for anthologies. Merging the two results in a lot of opportunities for the film to get ruined. Unfortunately this one is no exception and you’ll find yourself wondering what the point of this film was. The first of the shorts is easily the best one, but that’s not saying a whole lot.

The first segment sees Lenora get home. She has visited her father to guilt trip him one last time before she moves away. He doesn’t want to see her because he blames her for the death of his wife. They argue quite a bit with Lenora constantly explaining how she never should have come here and her father insulting her. Eventually the ghost of her mother wakes up to murder Lenora and then take down the father. They all die together in the mansion. It’s a pretty somber ending to what was overall a somber special. The whole time you just have to wonder why Lenora would possibly want to come over. It’s well known from the start that her father had never even talked to her because he was so upset at what happened in the past so it all came off as rather strange. I couldn’t understand Lenora’s motivation here.

Even worse is the fact that she made sure to come after the last bus had left so she would be stuck there for the night. It’s almost as if she came over purely to start complaining and egging the father on into doing something he might regret. I thought the film was going to have him murder her which would have been super dark so I’m glad they didn’t go that route. It was the best special of the 3, but that’s really not saying much at all.

The 2nd segment is about a drunk guy named Montresor. He is always mean to his wife and cat (Points deducted instantly!) and keeps on stealing money from them. He doesn’t care if they starve as long as he gets his beer. He breaks into a wine testing convention and manages to snag 2nd place. Fortunato doesn’t like being humiliated so he quickly gets together with Montresor’s wife in secret. Montresor finds out and murders them, but luckily the cops come and put him away.

Another rather grim story and one that is completely unenjoyable from start to finish. I don’t want to see the cat getting threatened with murder and being thrown around the whole time. Those scenes are just terrible and the cast puts up with Montresor the whole time. Why isn’t the guy in jail yet? It’s all rather hard to watch as you are tempted to go and rent something a little classier at the special is playing. Sure, they caught Montresor but only after he murdered the two of them. Justice was a little late to say the least. The sad thing is that this wasn’t necessarily the weakest story as the third one also gets a little dicey.

The third story probably has the least intelligent characters of the bunch. An old guy is on his death bed and agreed to let a scientist hypnotize him at the very end. The experiment is to see if the hypnosis can prevent his death for a little while. The scientist quickly launches into his experiment and sure enough, the old man won’t die. Finally the living corpse begs for death, but the scientist merely laughs. Months pass and he is still forcing the corpse to live. So in this time…everyone just allowed that to happen? Geez, some friends.

The main heroine then decides to confront the scientist on her own even though she knows that he is dangerous and criminally insane. Her friend even comes along with his gun to protect her but she tells him to leave and then locks the door. In the most predictable move ever, the scientist then decides that he’ll take her by force and she’s only saved when the corpse wakes up and murders him. That still has to take the cake as one of the worst decisions out there. Why would you knowingly put yourself in such a terrible position. Going 1 on 1 with someone far stronger and confirmed to be dangerous? Clearly this heroine wasn’t very smart and the low quality attempt at creating tension in the film was just pitiful.

Overall, This film was pretty bad. I’m pretty confident now that Edgar Allan Poe’s stories are not nearly as good as you’d suspect from his reputation. I’ve now seen two anthologies based on his stories and they were both pretty dreadful. They’re just not good and while making good horror stories is difficult, it can be done. You just have to construct quality stories with no short cuts or characters making terrible decisions. It shouldn’t be a story about everyone dying just for kicks or to see the spirit slaughter them all. A good story should give the heroes a chance. Sad endings definitely can work as well so long as they have a purpose. This film just didn’t have one and comes across as incredibly mean spirited the whole time. So, like pretty much every other Roger Corman film, you’ll want to skip this one.

Overall 1/10

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

The Bat Review

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It’s time for a retro film from the late 50s. The Bat definitely played out very differently from what I had pictured based on the title but I would actually say that this is a good thing. It’s an old mystery with a lot of misdirection as we get three different suspects and only one of them can be the Bat. I am happy to say that I figured it out pretty early on, but the film is quite discreet so don’t expect it to be a cakewalk.

The film revolves around a mystery novelist known as Cornelia. She has moved into a house that is supposedly haunted as bad things always happen there. In fact, its owner had said nobody was ever to rent the place, but Cornelia got it through his nephew. See, it turns out that the Uncle had wanted to use the mansion as a place to stash the 1 million dollars that he stole from the bank. The plan doesn’t go over very well as he tries to murder Dr. Wells to keep his silence except the tables are turned on him. At Cornelia’s neighborhood, The Bat has resurfaced. He is a mass murderer who attacks a bunch of people and likes causing mayhem. He keeps appearing in Cornelia’s house so she hires some guards. Gradually as most of the characters get bumped off, we learn that The Bat can only be one of three different people.

The first suspect is Dr. Wells. After all, he was rather quick to murder the original thief and claimed that he would take the money for himself. He runs a lot of bat experiments and always seems to be around right after The Bat leaves. He offers a lot of cryptic advice and silent threats throughout the film but maybe they’re all in good fun. The other suspect is Lieutenant Anderson. Anderson is the chief of police and has sworn to protect Cornelia. However, while he is tasked with protecting the house, he vanished right before The Bat appears and only returns after he is gone. He claims he was chasing someone in the forest which, true or not, seems rather negligent. Finally, there is Warner. He’s always very curt and rude to the cast not to mention that his arms are rather stiff as if he were carrying a bunch of claws a lot of the time. He has a criminal record in his past and also tends to disappear quite a lot. Cornelia needs to figure out who it is fast or she’s doomed.

The writing is particularly strong in this film. Retro films like this one tend to always have consistent dialogue, but this movie sets a high standard even for those. The banter between Wells and Anderson is great throughout the whole movie. They each have great lines and I love the veiled threats mixed in there. The film was also good at really twisting the situation like how Wells turned the tables in the opening act. I wasn’t expecting the guy to beat Wells, but the whole scenario played out a lot sooner than I had expected. The movie definitely knew how to handle its tense moments. It also did a good job of seamlessly switching genres as it starts out as a slice of life adventure that seems like it’ll be pretty happy before turning into a thrilling horror film and finally into a mystery.

Wells is easily my favorite character by the way. He’s certainly no hero but you can’t deny that he is a very capable guy. Nobody is going to walk all over him. Wells always has an ace up his sleeve. Honestly, I think the film had a missed opportunity here as his final confrontation should have played out a little differently. Perhaps the film didn’t want Wells to look downright invincible, but it would have been pretty awesome to say the least. Warner was pretty unlikable the whole time. He was just a little too curt and showed a lot of blatant disregard for the authorities. I don’t even know how he was promoted since he’s never all that polite or nice. I suppose he is just that good at his job. Anderson is good for the threats and he does a pretty good job as the policeman in charge.

Cornelia is a pretty good main heroine. She certainly knows how to keep her cool under pressure. While the rest of the characters are panicking she is usually thinking of a plan on how to stay alive or how to counter attack. The rest of the house guests were pretty annoying or helpless throughout the film so Cornelia really had to do everything herself. She has a gun with her and knows how to throw a crowbar as well. It would have been nice if she could have gotten the final blow in at the end of the movie, but I’m still pretty satisfied with what happened overall.

The only thing that slightly hurts the film is naturally Wells Bat experiments. One scene looked as if a bat was trying to eat the other one which was pretty odd and out of nowhere, but the whole scene was pretty blurred so it was hard to tell what was happening. I got nervous as soon as the animals appeared at all, but nothing really ended up happening so that was good. The film was so solid that it would have been an absolute shame for something like that to have wrecked it all.

This definitely feels like an old school horror film at some points as each character is bumped off one by one. It’s always been a great concept so it’s too bad that most modern films can’t do it justice. This film takes them out without having to be super dark or violent which really sells it. For example, we have a backup cop in the movie. I won’t go into details, but his tragic ending is both serious and quite funny at the time time. It works well despite sounding like a contradiction. It doesn’t help that the guy was extremely unintelligent so you were rooting for him to leave as soon as possible. Someone’s life is in danger and he’s still asking for more details before going in to help. This is not the guy you want to be your defender in a time of crisis.

Overall, This is a mystery thriller that you should definitely add to your list of films to watch. The 3 suspect dynamic is handled extremely well here and I dare say that it is probably one of the best film examples out there where all 3 are given a sufficient motive and hints so none of the options are too obvious. It’s a fair mystery as well and you can potentially solve it before the film ends. Dr. Wells makes for a pretty great character especially since you never know whose side he is really on. The cast is pretty solid overall even if you know that some characters are going to bite the big one before it gets close to ending. Some characters were simply made for that role. They don’t really get to mourn the dead characters much either since they are always on the run or preparing for an attack. The film doesn’t overdo it with the drama which is a good thing. Several of the deaths could have been prevented if the heroes played things out a little better, but they were simply too curious for their own good. The Bat may not be a giant monster, but he is still a pretty intense villain.

Overall 7/10

Return of the Fly Review

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It’s time for the sequel to the original Fly movie. For the most part it’s not bad as the film goes on. The pacing is decent and the plot is fairly good, but the film ends up falling into a massive pot hole with an animal violence scene. Beyond that, it can also be annoying to see the heroes lose so badly to one opponent the whole time. It’s certainly a rather unique film and while you feel bad for the main character, you also can’t help but wish Francois could have said “I told you so” at one point.

Phillipe is in shambles over what happened to his father. After all, how can anyone take the fact that their father turned into an insect and died? Francois warns him not to go down the same path, but Phillipe laughs him off and decides to rebuild the experiments room and do the exact same things his father did. He wants to prove that the concept is sound and his father grew careless. He hires Alan as an assistant and they decide to live in the house of his child hood friend’s house and they’ll work in her basement. She doesn’t seem to mind and even though a romance may be lightly hinted, the film never takes that anywhere. I was pretty impressed although, that’s probably because the main heroine and her mother barely appear at all. They’re in the film, but their role is quite small. You wouldn’t be wrong to say that they were filler characters.

So, lets get the elephant out of the room first since it is of massive importance. What destroys the film is a scene with the rat as he grows human hands and feet. Alan ends up crushing him in a very long, drawn out death scene that is shown to be exceptionally painful to the rat. Animal violence is one thing and animal death is another, but a scene this intense and long is something else altogether. The film was in the grave from this point on in the film and it’s not as if anything could possibly save it. Even if the film was decent otherwise, it was doomed at this point.

Still, lets look at the rest of the film. The Alan subplot felt wildly out of place to be honest. He’s actually an international fugitive who earns money by ripping off inventions and giving them to local crooks. The cops have been after him for years, but the guy is too slippery. Fortunately he got a steady job over here just in time to rip Phillipe off. One of the cops did a good job of finding him, but ended up choking his accomplishment away by getting shot so easily. That was definitely not a great moment for him. It’s too bad since the cops never seem to win in these things. Ah well, at least he tried. Things don’t end well for Alan in this film but he still looked a little too good during the middle. He took down the cop, Francois, and Phillipe back to back to back. It was a little too much hype for one guy, but I can see why he evaded capture for so long.

Phillipe isn’t a very likable main character since he intentionally decides to bring the experiments back. He knows that they were the end of his father so why go through it again? It seems to be more about pride than anything else so it’s hard to say that his soul was really in it from the start. As such, it’s a little hard to sympathize with him at times. I suppose he gets his revenge and a pretty happy ending though so he probably won’t regret it much. On that note, the ending was surprisingly happy. I certainly wasn’t expecting that, but it’s a good thing I’d say.

The film didn’t really have a role for the two heroines or Francois. Francois offered words of advice, but Phillipe ignored them all and then Francois spent the rest of the film getting wrecked and blackmailed. It wasn’t a very flattering appearance for him. The design for the fly monster and the mini fly wasn’t bad. It’s certainly interesting even if it doesn’t make for a downright epic design. I suppose we’ll take it since it’s fairly unique although almost the same as the first film.

Return of the Fly’s main issue aside from the animal violence is pretty much that nothing happens for large chunks of the film. It’s very dialogue based which isn’t a bad thing, but it comes across as more uneventful than deep. We didn’t need more action, but more likable characters. All of the dialogue just doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere and since none of the characters are developed, we don’t need to hear about their childhoods. I also don’t get why Phillipe is so scared of flies when he didn’t actually live through the events of the first film. It would have made more sense if Francois was the one who was scared of them.

Overall, Return of the Fly suffered from one major scene. It’s a bit of a shame for it since it probably could have scored a 5 or a 6 otherwise. It can be a little dull, but the writing was still fine and it didn’t make a bunch of mistakes. It could just be a little annoying to watch Alan trick everyone, but seeing Phillipe connect the dots was fun. That would certainly have helped to an extent. Still, the rat scene was in very bad taste and one of the worst animal death moments I’ve seen in a very long time. That sunk the film all the way to the bottom. One scene can absolutely change a film and this one is living proof of it. I highly advise staying away from this film and never looking back!

Overall 1/10