Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Screenplay by James V. Hart
Based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker
Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves
Budget $40M Box Office $215.9M
IMDb 7.4/10 Rotten Tomatoes 75% Metacritic 57/100
I recently watched this film for the first time. I have often seen vampire stories romanticized with this mushy dopey idea that being cursed as the undead for all of eternity and forced to feed on fresh blood merely to survive without feeling pain worse than opioid withdrawal is somehow beautiful and romantic and serene. Somehow the idea of a violent killer in defense of his church and faith being immortalized after denouncing his god when his true love is dead upon his return from war doesn’t seem like a cuddle-up and snuggle romantic kind of story.
Not to mention that the idea of living forever, alive or undead, seems depressing to me. How many times over the centuries would you fall in love? How many times would you have to let go of that love? How many truly beautiful human things would you miss out on once you were transformed into the undead? One has to admit there are certain highlights to being human. Highlights that truly make us feel alive.
As a vampire, I would think a being would lose a lot of what makes us human when changed into a creature of the night. The things that truly define our species as humans. Our emotions, our ability for compassion and empathy, some would say our opposable thumbs are key to our species (I don’t know if that’s one hundred percent true, I mean I’ve heard people say that it’s our ability to accessorize that separates us from the animals). The fact is we are animals and no matter what, that is never going to change. We may or may not continue to evolve but we will always be human.
Now, all that being said, they did try to make this film as much of a romance film as possible. It’s a love story…with some twists. Which is okay, I mean, I am human and I get why folks dig love stories, although I’m not really one of them.
But the general story is this…
Dracula was a defender of the church and the final living member of the Dracul family clan. The Prince Dracul was in love with a beautiful maiden and planned to marry her until his oath to protect the church drew him into battle once again. They parted ways with a final passionate kiss and professed their undying love for each other. He goes off to fight. Upon his return, he learned that his bride-to-be had received word through the trickery of his enemies that he was killed in battle. Overtaken by her grief and broken heart, she plummets to her death in the river below their castle. When he sees her dead upon his return to the church he was sworn to protect and God does not bring her back to him, he denounces his God and vows to return from death to avenge the death of his true love.
In his quest for vengeance, he finds his love again, albeit four hundred years later and she happens to be in love with someone else. But her current lover is no match for Dracula and he quickly dispatches anything and anyone in his way. It takes no time at all for Dracula to cut the ties that bind two lovers and two friends. Soon after he puts his plan into action to have his love by his side for all time.
Whether he is successful or not, I am not going to tell you. Though it is an older movie and I’m sure everyone but me has seen it, I just don’t want to tell the ending. You’ll have to watch the movie or read the novel. I have the Marvel Comics hardcover version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula that I will be reading soon to compare with the movie. I can already tell you the artwork is fantastic in this comic version. But that’s another post in another section of the website.
As for the overall entertainment value of the movie, it was okay. I expected a lot more violence and blood, seeing as how it is a vampire movie. But I was left somewhat disappointed on that front. I will say that the movie does give a nice all-around story of Dracula, from the beginning to where the film leaves off. I haven’t read the actual novel itself so I can’t compare the film to that unfortunately but, I did think it was good. In my opinion, it was a little long though. I felt that they either had to edit the film to make it shorter from the editing room or they skipped over some parts of the book that made the film a little stuttered in the plot flow.
Other than that, talk about some huge names in this film. I must confess, Anthony Hopkins was the reason I wanted to watch this film. I’m not much of a fan of the vampire genre. But Coppola did a decent job holding my attention. It is a two-hour flick so it does pack a lot into the film but it goes at a steady pace, so it does feel like it moves a little on the slow side.
I felt the acting, for the most part, was good. It was strange to hear Keanu Reeves with the softer voice and accent but I suppose that does help show he has more range than I thought. The film work itself was of course excellent. It was very dramatic. The way the movie was filmed drew specific attention to various aspects of the story, making them more impactful. While I can’t give the film a total five-star rating, I can say that I did enjoy it enough that I would watch it again. I have the feeling it’s one of those films that kind of grows on you as you watch it more and more. I’m sure there are things I missed that I would pick up watching a second or third time.
Directed by Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing
Written by Jill Awbrey
Jill Awbrey, Bart Johnson, Travis Cluff
Budget: No Data Box Office: $142.2K
IMDb 5.2/10 Rotten Tomatoes 37% Metacritic No Data
Well, judging by the looks of things on the other review sites this film did not impress many people in the film critic world. However, I thought that this was a pretty good film. We start with finding out that married couple Henry and Emma are in the midst of a heaping dose of marital discord. While no marriage is perfect, theirs is seemingly rocky at best. They decide to try for a new start by planning a romantic trip to a rental vacation house. They think the time away from the regular hustle and bustle of life and being allowed to focus on each other will be a huge step in the right direction in healing their broken marriage.
They arrive at a beautiful home with all kinds of lovely amenities and immediately start to try to make themselves comfortable, awkward as they feel the situation may be. Each seems to be struggling with their own demons. But both seem willing to make a true effort to repair their relationship. But things are not as they seem. Once they are in the house they soon find that they are not necessarily alone. Shortly beyond this discovery, they realize that they are locked in and trapped in this rental vacation home. But that’s not the worst part for this estranged couple.
Besides being locked in a strange house there is a voice that is speaking to them through the house intercom system. They discover that they are being watched by someone via cameras set up throughout the whole house. The voice is deep and intimidating. It dictates to Henry and Emma what they are to do when they are to do it, and how they are to do whatever the task commanded might be.
Henry and Emma soon figure out that they will have to work together if they are going to make it home from this vacation alive.
I liked this film a lot. I’m not sure why the professional critics gave it such bad scores but the average viewer, from what I can tell online, seemed to enjoy it. I felt like the film was well written with a relatable plotline and that the actors, although not known to me before this film, did an above-average job in portraying their characters on the big screen. The fact that the plot was something practically anyone can relate to makes it not mundane in my opinion but actually kind of smart and genius. You want your viewers to be able to relate to your characters if nothing else.
Plus, the film had an excellent suspense element all the way through. The film moves at a steady pace and that makes it easy to keep things interesting by having something new happening in almost every scene. There were also some things that one might not expect that add flair and punch to the impact of the film.
I think suspense, thriller, and horror lovers would dig this film. It’s certainly one that I am going to be watching more than just the one time. I’m not sure yet but, it could be one of those movies where you don’t catch every little detail the first time watching it and so if you view it multiple times you get a full understanding of what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish and how they were trying to do that. Worth watching at least one time though. I’d tell that to anyone who digs our genres, ya know?
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Written by Josh Stolberg, Peter Goldfinger
Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, Samuel L. Jackson
Budget $20M Box Office $36.3M
IMDb 5.3/10 Rotten Tomatoes 36% Metacritic 40/100
As you can see from the numbers above, the “professional” critics have not looked upon this film too kindly. I did not look up their reviews and truly, I don’t want to. I watched this movie with some pretty high expectations. The fact that we are coming out of the Saw franchise and this is a kind of spinoff of that franchise, those are some big screens to fill.
Almost all of us have seen at least one Saw movie, probably the first one or the last one, Jigsaw. Both films did very well at the box office and yet the critics gave those two movies about the same scores as this movie. I honestly believe that don’t employ any horror lovers as critics and therefore, horror will always get low ratings in general from these outlets.
However, if you look at the “user ratings”, those are much, much higher, showing that average people are enjoying these films. While this film Spiral didn’t gross near as much at the box office as the first or last film did in the Saw franchise, this film did in fact make money, about $16 million in profit. The other films I have mentioned each made approximately $100 million at the box office, give or take a little here and there. So no, this film didn’t do as well.
Still, it has all the beautiful and macabre elements of what we have come to expect from the epic Saw movies. We have big time actors. We have a solid plot. We have even more gruesome, gory and horrifying traps. Nothing has been repeated or replicated. This film stands on its own. And it’s a good film.
Like I said, I went into watching this with high expectations and I personally feel that those expectations were satisfied. And I will tell you why. But I am only going to give the necessary information in order to keep from spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it yet.
Detective Banks (Chris Rock) is a wild cop with an urge to do the right thing, no matter what the cost. His father Chief Banks (Samuel L. Jackson) has long retired from the department and a new Captain (Marisol Nichols) is now running things. Banks is considered a reckless rogue kind of cop. There are also other reasons that his fellow officers don’t like him. He ratted out his own partner to Internal Affairs for killing an eye witness. This never bodes well for an officer that is eventually going to need to call for back up.
Then he gets assigned a rookie partner to train, in theory to try to help calm him down a bit. Their first case is a victim. A man caught in a terrifying upgraded version of a Jigsaw game. After that, tapes start showing up at the precinct for Banks to listen to and watch and bodies are falling left and right.
There’s a new psycho on the loose and Banks has a very small window of time to catch him. Will he get the chance to come face to face with his foe? You’ll have to watch to find out.
I thought, despite the bad scores from the critics, that this was a very well-done spinoff. They didn’t rely on a whole lot from the franchise except the spiral symbol and the abhorrent traps that are inflicted upon the victims. But it is all original and that made for a very captivating viewing.
It was a little different seeing Chris Rock in such a serious role but don’t think for a second that quick witted, snappy, one liner comeback attitude is still there. Maybe he just can’t help himself. But he does pretty well in this role in the film.
Of course, we always love Samuel L. Jackson. I mean, how can you not???
The other actors were also a refreshingly strong cast for a spinoff. They all carried their parts in the film extremely well.
The writer of the film has a very active, vivid and fantastically morbid imagination. You’d have to in order to come up with these traps and then the messages that accompany them.
I was every bit as satisfied with this film as I was with any film in the Saw franchise.
I would recommend this to any horror lover. The gore is great, effects are well done, plot has no obvious holes, acting is good, some big names in the film, amazing traps for the victims. It’s definitely worth the watch and I can assure you this is a movie I am glad I have and I will be watching it multiple times. I am also anxious for the next one to come out because I think we are looking at a continuation of the franchise.
District 9 (2009)
Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Produced by Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham
Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
Based on 2006 short film Alive in Joburg by Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, David James, Vanessa Haywood, Mandla Gaduka, Kenneth Nkosi, Eugene Khumbanyiwa, Louis Minnaar, William Allen Young
Budget $30M Box Office $210.8M
IMDb 7.9/10 Rotten Tomatoes 90% Metacritic 81/100
Welcome to the world of chaos where the movie Outbreak mashes up with MIB. And it all happens right here, on Earth, in District 9, a small area in Johannesburg that houses aliens called “prawns”. These are definitely not the regular type of aliens we are usually presented with on screen in typical alien films (E.T. excluded) and it is clear that there is discord between the aliens and the people of Earth, but like I said, not fully in the typical way you would expect.
This film is so strangely and uniquely put together, some parts presented as interviews in a documentary, other sections are like home video research footage. Then there are the parts where it is filmed like any regular movie. Truly a very effective cinematic combination. Some would say this is a found footage film but, it goes way beyond that to me. And I don’t tend to like found footage films.
So, now these aliens, let’s talk about them for a minute. They are really where the story begins and ends. Aliens come to Earth seeking refuge from their own planet. There is some disagreement as to whether they should be allowed here so, the government sections of an area of the land in Johannesburg and corrals the aliens there, naming it District 9. When that proves to be a no-go solution, the aliens residing there are “evicted” from District 9 by the government that put them there to begin with and are moved to an even more cramped and desperate living area.
One of the people serving and executing these “evictions” is a man named Wikus van de Merwe. Wikus is traveling through District 9 serving eviction notices, getting the aliens to sign in agreement to the new living terms and bus them out. He has a camera crew and military support following him through the process.
While he believes he is right in what he is doing by serving these evictions to these alien refugees from outer space, he does NOT agree with the tactics, treatment and experiments being brought upon this alien community by the science and military personnel.
During one particular eviction they happen upon a cannister filled with a black liquid. Wikus confiscates the cannister, seals it in a plastic bag and keeps it to take to the lab for analysis. However, he is exposed to something incredibly toxic at a cellular level. Soon, he is not just a witness to the horrors he protests, but also a participant…and a victim.
Time is quickly running out and Wikus’s options are becoming more and more limited as he begins to experience the fusion of his DNA with that of the alien’s DNA, creating the first successfully “infected” human being.
You’re gonna have to watch to find out anything more. I don’t want to spoil anything.
My opinion of this film was that it was damn good. I could barely take my eyes off the screen and when I did, I missed something. Thank you, technology, for DVR. This movie had nonstop interest and action from the very first scene. Plus, there was an enormous amount of intensity throughout the whole film. I was literally on the edge of my seat with my hands over my mouth through over half the film.
The beauty of this little gem is not only the genius direction of Peter Jackson but also the incredibly awesome gory kill and splatter scenes. Not to mention that the CGI work is pretty freaking good.
Then you have the characters, which I must admit, are played just about as human as you can get. The disdain for those unlike themselves, the segregation of different types, the hate and maltreatment and abuse in such societal structures, all perfectly projected on screen for all to see. Not to view in a romantic awe of gunfire and explosions but more to be viewed as an alternative mirror image of ourselves and the problems we create.
All of that put together creates a frightening and intense emotional rollercoaster that you surely won’t want to miss.
Gus Van Sant
Anne Heche as Marion Crane
Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates
Julianne Moore as Lila Crane
Viggo Mortensen as Sam Loomis
William H. Macy as Milton Arbogast
Based on the 1959 thriller novel Psycho by Robert Bloch
Budget $60M Box Office $37.2M
IMDb 4.6/10 Rotten Tomatoes 38% Metacritic 47/100
This was a true remake. They didn’t mess with anything from the original movie. They just updated it to a current era for the time of release and left the rest of it the same. It seems to take place in the early 90s when Walk-Mans and od school headphones were in style and new technology.
The story is almost word for word to the original. This is uncharacteristically parallel to the original film. It’s so hard to find a remake where they didn’t change the whole story.
The kill scenes are a nostalgic throw back to the 1960 film where we don’t see the actual blade slice into flesh but we see the screaming and panic, the blood and the fear, the dead lifeless bodies.
Vince Vaughn stepped completely out of his realm to play this role and he embraced it with the imitation innocence and constant aloofness of Norman Bates. He is excellent at giving the creepy vibes throughout the movie and he is perfect at turning from the well known extrovert that he is into a reclusive introvert. He seems to have done some research on the character.
Another fascinating thing in the remake film of 1998 is that the Bates house behind the motel looks exactly like the Bates house in the original. Even the interior is the same. A very nice touch to truly honor the classic genius of this film.
Definitely worth seeing. I don’t care what the critics say. I think Vaughn was spectacular and pulled off the Norman Bates character perfectly.
I would recommend this to any Psycho fan and almost all horror fans. It’s worth the watch.
Case 39 (2010)
Directed by Christian Alvart
Written by Ray Wright
Release Date: October 1, 2010 United States
August 13, 2009 New Zealand
Starring: Reneé Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper
Budget $1M Box Office $28.2M
IMDb 6.2/10 Rotten Tomatoes 21% Metacritic 25/100
Interestingly, this was a film I have wanted to see for quite some time. I think it was the idea of the creepy little girl because other than the movie Chicago, I am not a Reneé Zellweger fan. Yes, I know the whole “you complete me” scene from Jerry McGuire and that’s overplayed and completely unrealistic in love. But I’m going to leave that alone. This isn’t a daytime talk show episode I’m doing here.
Unfortunately, as I looked through reviews for this film, it seemed that nobody really liked it or gave it any kind of favorable review. But you know me. I am going to watch regardless of what the average review ratings are.
In this film we have Emily (Zellweger) who is a social worker. Her case load, as is all those of social workers, is outrageously beyond her capacity as one single human being. However, she does her best to do her job, which she sees is protecting children from abuse, neglect, and danger in and out of their home environment. That’s when she comes into contact with this one particular child, Lilith (Jodelle Ferland).
Now, on the outside Lilith looks and acts and seems very much like a normal little girl. It also appears that she is in an incredible amount of danger from her parents. Emily is assigned to investigate the circumstances at Lilith’s home and find out why her grades are slipping and what the problem is exactly between Lilith and her parents. Apparently there has been some emotional discord at the house and well, Emily is tasked with getting to the bottom of the issue.
While meeting with Lilith at her school Emily gives her her home phone number and tells her to call anytime if she needs anything or feels she’s in trouble. Emily gets this phone call in the middle of the night and upon hearing Lilith screaming on the other end of the line, Emily rushes over to intervene on whatever is going on.
Emily busts into the kitchen through the back door and finds Lilith trapped in the oven and both her parents fighting to keep her in and her poor little body struggles to get out. They’ve already turned the oven on as high as it can go so it is only a matter of time before the child’s airways are scorched and she dies. Emily springs into action and the good rescuer and after battling the parents for a minute, frees Lilith from the oven just in the nick of time.
Lilith’s parents are immediately arrested and sent to jail to await trial and such. They tell Emily that Lilith is not a normal girl, that she’s evil. They try to explain that this little girl is not a little girl, she’s a demon and she’s not to be trusted. Of course, Emily thinks they are nuts and they do in fact spend some time in a psych ward.
Meanwhile, Emily takes Lilith to her own home until the family services department can find her a permanent home. But since Lilith seems to be doing well, happy and healthy and thriving at Emily’s, the family services people don’t consider finding her a new home a priority. This is when things start to take a turn for the worse for Emily and her relationship with Lilith.
Emily soon learns that Lilith isn’t the sweet, charming and innocent child she seems to be. Once the truth is known, it becomes a battle of wills, a test of endurance, persistence and faith. The age-old battle of good against evil with the outcome unknown…unless you watch the movie.
As I said in the beginning, there were pretty much no favorable reviews for this film. I applaud Zellweger for trying to step out her comfort zone and expand her acting to other film genres. However, she falls just short of convincing as a terrified foster mother and victim. Although she seems to go to great lengths to show fear and always seems to have tears welling up in her eyes at every moment of the film, that’s about as far as her horror acting ability goes. I feel she is much better suited for the corny rom-coms and drama films.
Jodelle Ferland is spectacular at being a creepy little childlike thing. She reminds me of the little boy in the Twilight Zone episode called ‘It’s a Good Life’ where this young farm boy has incredible mental powers and can “think” anything he wants to happen into reality. Even the most unimaginable things one could think of, this kid does. This kid is able to materialize and terrorize those who live with him with these outrageous imagination creations.
Lilith is no different. She’s a “special” child with “special abilities”, to put it nicely. If we were to be blunt, this is a psycho evil little heathen with nothing but death and destruction on her mind until she gets exactly what she wants. She’s hard to fake out too because unfortunately, this little brat can read minds. So not good. So now, in order to win against her evil little ass, you have to be able to make her believe the opposite of the things you are thinking of doing to her.
Play complicated mind games much?
Anyways, I didn’t think the movie was as bad as the rest of the reviewers but it wasn’t something that I am going to rush to watch again. Even though I own it. But it wasn’t so bad that I would never watch it again. I’ll let you all make your own decision on whether or not it’s worth watching, let alone worth watching more than once.
Directed by John Carpenter
Screenplay by Bill Phillips
Based on the novel Christine by Stephen King
Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, Robert Prosky, Harry Dean Stanton
Original Release date December 9, 1983 Run Time 110 minutes
Budget $10M Box Office $21M
IMDb 6.7/10 Rotten Tomatoes 69% Metacritic 57/100
For the first time, I have two of the trailers included for this film. One is the original, classic trailer, the other is the typical trailer you would get after the movie had been released but was still being promoted before showings of other films or on video cassette previews.
This is one of my all-time favorite movie adaptations of a Stephen King novel. What’s so blatantly different about this particular story of King’s pretty much starts out with from the first scene with death and we just keep going. Now, since this film was release in ’83, I’m going to take a wild shot in the dark here and assume that this movie is old enough that it has been seen by the majority of my readers... However, if you haven’t seen it by now, before I go any further, here is your spoiler alert notice.
!!!!!!CONTENT BELOW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!!!!
There, now we can continue.
So, first thing we see is a Chrysler auto plant and auto workers making 1958 Plymouth Furys. All of the ones currently on the line are all the same boring grayish kind of color except for one. This one single solitary masterpiece of an automobile comes rolling down the line and she’s a pristine, gorgeous, sporty, candy apple red with a high gloss shine. By the time this sexy beast leaves the factory, she’s already claimed the life of one man, he ashes his cigar on her front seat and another man was messing around near the front end under the hood and well, she probably took off a finger or two when she let the hood of this American made tank of a car slam down on his hand, sending him into shrills of pain. Okay, that’s in 1957, got it?
Fast forward twenty-one years later to 1978 and we meet Arnie Cunningham. Arnie is the poster boy for the stereotypical of what my generation called a geek or a nerd. (Do kids still do that these days? I would think with all the progression that the school popularity hierarchy might have changed a bit by now. But what do I know? I don’t have kids. Anyways…1978)
It’s the first day of a year at high school. Luckily, Arnie is friends with a kid named Dennis Guilder. Dennis is a football player and he and Arnie are close buddies. And for Dennis, the first day of school isn’t a big deal or anything. But for Arnie, it’s the first day of a long line of upcoming torturous, embarrassing and demeaning encounters with Buddy Repperton and his cronies, Don Vandenberg, Moochie Welch and Richie Trelawney, the merciless school bullies.
On the way home, Arnie and Dennis pass by what looks like a junky old car parked in a junky old yard of a junky old house. Arnie tells Dennis to stop the car and go back. When they get to the car Arnie immediately falls in love with it, while all Dennis can see is a hunk of junk not worth anything. The owner comes to talk to Arnie and is happy to speak with him, since he is interested in the car, a 1957 Plymouth Fury. Dennis has some smartass comments to say and tries to talk Arnie out of buying the car but it’s no use. Arnie writes a check and Christine becomes his new baby.
From that point on, Arnie starts to change and with every little thing he fixes, replaces or rebuilds on Christine, he becomes more and more unlike himself. Eventually, the only thing he cares about at all is that car. During the time that he owns it several bad things happen involving the car itself. His new girlfriend, Leigh, who also happens to be the hottest girl at school and won’t date anyone but for some reason chooses to date Arnie, almost chokes to death in the car at the drive-in theater. Certain other people are threatened by Arnie and others that seem to be problems in Arnie’s life seem to mysteriously die violent and ugly deaths.
Christine isn’t just any old car. She’s special. She’s got a history, a past, a string of pain and death in her wake. It’s almost like she’s cursed. But in the strangest of ways. She can actually rebuild herself so no damage is ever permanent. Her radio only plays old songs from the 1950s. She gets very attached to her owners, devoted in fact. If anyone tries to mess with Arnie or get in between the two of them, Christine can take care of whatever the problem is. And she can take care of Arnie. Even though throughout the movie we see Arnie get more pale and sickly looking, his eyes sunken with dark bags underneath, the change in his attitude becomes that of a cocky and indignant wretch rather than the sweet, caring and sensitive kid he started out to be. And there’s nothing anyone can do. For Arnie, to get rid of Christine, to protect anyone. Nothing.
Eventually, everything comes down to a battle between Dennis and Leigh versus Arnie and Christine. A battle that neither Arnie nor Christine is willing to lose and Dennis and Leigh can’t afford to not fight.
Okay, so this is one of my favorite Stephen King stories. I’ve watched this movie since I was a child. I love this movie. It’s not just the idea of this cursed car avenging his owner’s mistreatment or heartache or whatever. It’s also the idea that this car has a mind of its own. It can rebuild itself. It poisons the person who owns it. It kills those who try to take the owner’s love from it. It plays songs people don’t even hear on the radio anymore. This car is evil and magic at the same time. A blessing and a curse. If you own it, you can solve all your problems in your life, but if you own it, it is sure to kill you or someone you love, at minimum someone you know. All the while seemingly living off the very essence of life inside you, draining and expelling anything good or wholesome and replacing it with anything bad or evil.
Plus, for the era in which it was made, they did some fancy FX work to make this car do things that even KITT in Night Rider couldn’t do. Yes, I know what Night Rider is and yes, I know that shows my age and yes, if you don’t know what Night Rider is, you’re what I refer to as a young person. No offense. Just too many generations back for most of ya, that’s all.
Anyways, this movie is a classic. Not Oscar material by any means but one of Hollywood’s best movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novels by far. A must see for any horror fan. And if any of the younger people out there think that it’s gonna suck because there’s no CGI, I promise you, it won’t. I guarantee there were good movies and graphics prior to CGI and back in these days, we still required actors, directors and special fx techs to have talent because not everything could be fixed with the computer and digital programs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s a certain respect for the pioneers of special effects; the makeup, the puppeteer work, the robotic creations, everything that went into making us believe these people really looked this way and these things really did happen. This movie gets a lot of respect from me for the things they make this car do.
To Your Last Death (2019)
Directed by Jason Axinn
Written by Jim Cirile and Tanya C. Klein
Voices for animation:
Budget NO DATA Box Office NO DATA
IMDb 7.2/10 Rotten Tomatoes 64% Metacritic NO DATA
This is an animated adult horror film that first premiered at the London FrightFest Film Festival on August 23, 2019. It was then released on Video on Demand on March 17, 2020.
Before I get into my opinion, I MUST let you in on the general plot teaser on the box of the BluRay box.
It reads as follows:
After emerging as the sole survivor in a deadly revenge game set up by her father to his children, Miriam receives an offer from a supernatural entity to go back in time and try again. Now, Miriam must survive both her father’s blood lust and the Gamemaster’s ever-changing rules to save her siblings as she relives the worst night of her life.
Sounds pretty crazy right? So, here’s the set up…
Miriam gets called to her father’s place along with her siblings to have a discussion. This discussion is about how he truly feels about them. One he calls out for being a pill popper. Another for being a failed musician that gets his kicks utilizing sexual asphyxiation. He insults another for being gay even though he’s truly a genius for his father’s company. And Miriam, he just loathes for speaking out publicly against him, telling of his atrocious behavior over the years.
So, Daddy has decided to get them all together and play his own little sick and twisted version of being Jigsaw, setting traps for his children and requiring things of them promising their freedom and redemption if said tasks are completed.
Miriam must not survive her father, but also this supernatural entity, the Gamemaster, who is a real bitch, and her penchant for changing the rules mid-game. Though feeling set up for failure, Miriam will put forth all her effort to save herself, her siblings and win the game any way she can. The question is, with all the ever-changing rules, will her effort be enough?
This was a fantastic animated film to watch. I’m usually not a fan of animation but this particular film I couldn’t peel my eyes from.
I was fascinated by the artwork and the detail. It was like watching a comic book in motion. The artwork wasn’t like normal animation art where they have individual frames done one at a time, each frame is photographed one at a time and then they are all run together to make an animated cartoon or film. This film was as if the comic book art was lifted from the pages itself and put in motion. So, it didn’t have that Saturday morning cartoon fluidity of movement but it was an incredible creative wonder to experience in its entirety. Also, the artist (or artists) had a brilliant knowledgeable use of color that even further brought this would be graphic novel to life on screen. The range of colors give so much life and dimension to the characters and the scenery that this truly is an actual film, animated or not.
It consists of the kind of fantastic revenge story that so many horror fans love. It’s the battle between a rich and arrogant father and his disapproval and disappointment in his not-so-perfect children. The story consists of a fairly natural dialogue complete with the kind of foul language that anyone in that situation would use, so it is believable and at times flippant and amusing. The progression of the story is a great ride full of plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested, entertained and disturbed. There’s plenty of blood, gore and violence for those of us who love that stuff and it’s done very well for animation. The whole film was fast paced and stayed moving, making it so the 91-minute run time was nothing but a brief moment in time.
I would suggest any horror lover, especially horror comic book and graphic novel lovers, see this. You won’t be disappointed.
Chop Chop (2020)
Rony Patel and Andrew Ericksen
Atala Arce, Jake Taylor, David Harper, Jeremy Jordon, Mike Thompson, Mikael Mattsson, James McCabe, Nicholas Correnti, Natasha Missick, Lizzie Chaplin, Jazmine Jordan
Budget NO DATA Box Office NO DATA
IMDb 3.3/10 Rotten Tomatoes NO DATA Metacritic NO DATA
Here we have a brand-new film that releases October 20, 2020, giving us limited data available on the film as you can see. It’s really a very simple and basic horror flick in the best of ways. There’s a guy and a girl, they’re in love (of course). And there’s a killer, a gross, disgusting, creepy, grisly, psychotic looking pizza delivery man.
Here is the blurb:
An innocent night between a young couple takes a bizarre turn when a psychotic serial killer comes knocking at the door. As the couple starts to fend for their lives, we soon learn there might be more to the lovers than meets the eye. A long fight for survival leads them into a series of unsettling encounters within the criminal underworld.
Now, I have to be honest, I was surprised by how good this film ended up being. It definitely had a very Quentin Tarantino quality to the way it was filmed. You know how Tarantino goes through “chapters” and he titles them? They did that in this movie.
The movie is split into “chapters” like Tarantino did for Pulp Fiction, naming them such things as “Brother”, “Chop Chop” or “Package”. It’s a nice little interlude and a good way to lead into each group of scenes. I’ve always found that transition style to be quite entertaining and at one time very original, so original in fact that I still think it sets a film apart from the normal herd.
There is a strange comedic factor to the film that helps prove to viewers anything that can go wrong, will. Not to mention that there are some really strange and creepy characters in this film. There’s mystery behind this couple in love, not sure who they are or what they’ve done, some creepy dudes walking around in bathrobes.
The comedic value and strange levity and oddities build and structure a dark comedic theme throughout the film. I found this to be a fun addition and felt it added to the total enjoyment of the film. It is the perfect blend of comedy and sarcasm to balance out the horror in the film, making it nicely well-rounded as a horror flick.
Overall, the film had good acting, great special effects makeup, the regular special effects are good. Although the plot was a little thin and confusing, sort of unclear at times, it was still a very decent horror film. There’s a decent amount of blood and the kill scenes are done fairly well.
As for the total creepiness factor…this movie gets an 8 or 9 out of 10. The sheer amount of strange and unsettling characters is just absolutely awesome because they all add to the unsettled feeling, you’re supposed to get from horror movies. Some of these people are the same kind of people that would make the hair on the back of your neck stand up or give you the natural urge to cross the street to avoid them because they just FEEL wrong to you.
I do think horror lovers will enjoy this flick. I know I did. And my husband, who isn’t near as into horror as I am, even liked it. So, give it a go! Think Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses crashes into Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. I think you’ll dig it!
Welcome Home (2018)
Aaron Paul as Bryan Palmer
Emily Ratajkowski as Cassie Ryerson
Riccardo Scamarcio as Federico
Francesco Acquaroli as Eduardo
Budget $NO DATA Box Office $331,704
IMDb 5.2/10 Rotten Tomatoes 11% Metacritic 38%
It’s been a long time since I gave the ending to something in a review for you guys. But I can’t fully review this movie and have it make sense unless I can address the whole movie. Therefore, this review contains spoilers. You have been warned.
We start with what appears to be a young couple in love. The girlfriend, Cassie, has booked a romantic retreat vacation for the two of them in a remote luxurious refurbished monastery surrounded by a luscious award-winning vineyard. The perfect blend of romance and rustic that is sure to inspire the kind of wining and dining most women dream of.
On their way to their dream spot the cabbie first takes them to this somewhat rundown and distressed looking house. At first, they are thinking they got conned. That or Cassie made a mistake. They ask the cab driver as nicely and politely as they can if he’s sure they are at the right place. He checks his GPS and then starts driving off, filling the couple with a sense of relief.
So, they get to the house. It’s huge. Gigantic. It’s well furnished, well decorated and very well stocked. The owner of the house has left them a very nice bottle of wine, two glasses and a small note telling them to please treat the house as their own and to enjoy their stay. The owner says he is just a town away if they need anything at all.
They are excited by all the lavishness bestowed upon them for their stay and they decide to christen the all wood dining room table within minutes of walking in the door. That’s when we find out that this happy little couple isn’t as together as they appear.
The boyfriend, Bryan, apparently caught Cassie having drunken Christmas or New Year’s sex with a co-worker. Now, every time he tries to sleep with his lady all he can picture in his head is her having sex with this guy Justin, which is seriously affecting their sex-life as a couple. It’s like Bryan can’t perform anymore. Cassie’s cheating was a major blow to his ego and it seems that this is a pure example that mind really is over matter.
Repeatedly frustrated after a number of failed attempts at romance their first night there, Cassie goes to bed angry and Bryan ends up nosing around the homeowners record and book collection. He finds a book on Eros, the Greek god of love, and soon begins to pleasure himself to the graphic images depicted in the book. Then he starts to fantasize about his girlfriend and finishes himself off. After that, he passes out on the couch.
Here’s the kicker. This is where we see that there are hidden cameras in the house. In fact, all over the house. Someone…is watching.
When Cassie gets up in the morning, she sees Bryan on the couch and gets frustrated again. She makes some breakfast for herself, leaves him a plate and a note and goes for a run. (People exercise while on vacation???? Okay….)
While on this run, she, of course, falls and sprains an ankle. Hobbling down the road on her way back to the house a local in a pickup truck stops to play Good Samaritan. He introduces himself as Federico and gives Cassie a ride back to the house.
Cassie introduces the two men, of course Bryan is immediately insecure about another man honing in on his non-territory territory. Federico is a good-looking young man, quiet, athletic and healthy looking, Italian. He seems a little awkward around Cassie and Bryan. At least, at first. Trying to create small talk Cassie brings up to Bryan that Federico lives in the house they accidentally went to before they arrived at the vacation house.
During the conversation, Federico offers to give them a ride into town, recommending a market there. Though Cassie is excited at the idea of exploring and thankful for the offer, Bryan is not so accepting and tries to refuse the generosity. After some back and forth, it is settled that they will take the ride, however much it is against Bryan’s many protests.
Federico drops them off in town later that day and Cassie very kindly thanks him for the ride. He points out a few points of interest and Bryan basically says that they have it from there and shuts the door on Federico. This infuriates Cassie and Bryan, of course, starts hurling insult after insult about how she just can’t help but open herself up to guys and implying that she basically welcomes men’s advances and such. This sends her into a whole new realm of pissed and she storms off to go back to the house and he storms off to go get drunk.
Cassie tries to get a cab but she needs cash so she tells the cabbie to wait while she hits the ATM right across the street. But she’s so upset she’s having trouble getting through the prompts. Lucky for her Federico shows up and once again, saves the day. He puts her in the cab and she goes to the house.
Then we see Bryan in a bar. Next thing he knows Federico is there and buying him a drink, trying to be cordial. So, Bryan figures he might as well at least be nice. Over a few hours, not only does Federico get Bryan completely sloppy drunk, he also gets him talking about his problems with Cassie and their relationship, such as her cheating. Bryan starts running off at the mouth about how he’s thought about cheating on Cassie and how he wishes he could just so she could see what it felt like to have those images in her head every time she looked at him, just like he does when he looks at her. Lo and behold, a couple of attractive women walk into the bar and what do ya know, they know Federico.
They sit down and start drinking with the guys and talking…flirting. Poor Cassie is calling Bryan but she’s not getting ahold of him. While the girls are getting all up close and personal with Bryan, Federico is still feeding Bryan alcohol, some of it laced with some drug of some sort. At the end of the night, the girls help Bryan to a hotel room that they all share for the night…and there’s video on his cell of it. The next morning, he wakes up and has no idea what happened. He grabs a cab and goes back to the house.
Once again Cassie and Bryan have an argument and Bryan tells her he doesn’t want Federico coming around anymore. He tells her nothing of what happened the night before. Only that he doesn’t like the guy and that he doesn’t want him there. He also tells her he thinks he lost his phone because he can’t find it anywhere. He tried to go to the bar to look for it when he woke up but bars aren’t open in the morning usually so, no luck. Afterwards, he leaves to go for a walk.
Two things happen while he is on this stroll. First, Bryan finds out that no one is living in the house Federico claims to be his home. Second, Federico shows up at the vacation house door with a dead rabbit in hand, determined to make rabbit stew for the two of them for dinner. Cassie and Federico prepare the stew while Bryan is out walking. When he returns, he is less than thrilled not only to see this man sitting at the table with his girlfriend but also that they seem to be getting along famously. In fact, Federico has apparently been telling Cassie about the previous night…but not everything. What fun would that be?
They have dinner and during their meal, Bryan and Federico go back and forth in a boxing match of semantics and insults, toeing the line but not quite crossing it. Saying just enough that if you know all the details you know what he’s talking about but, if you are on the outside it seems like regular conversation that has an awkward tense vibe.
After dinner, Bryan walks Federico to the door and tells him not to return. He then turns to Cassie and they have a quick exchange in which he thinks she’s going to push back on the issue but instead she agrees that dinner was weird and that she’s not comfortable with Federico coming around anymore either. Bryan locks the doors and places a call to the owner, leaving a voicemail about the strange neighbor of his that is bothering them and that they thought he should be aware.
This leads to the two of them having an emotional moment together and they start to make up. Cassie tells Bryan to give her ten minutes, get some wine from the wine cellar and meet her upstairs in the bedroom. She goes upstairs to get herself ready and he goes to the wine cellar.
Once in the wine cellar, the door suddenly closes behind him and locks. He’s stuck down there and can’t get out.
Meanwhile, upstairs, Cassie hears music being put on and comes out of the bathroom into the bedroom. She sees one of her bras and a pair of her underwear laying on the bed with a satin blindfold and a note. The note instructs her to put the items on and wait. She does so.
So, Cassie is there sitting on the side of the bed in full view of one of the hidden cameras. Then we see Federico enter the room. He begins to, shall we say, gently dominate Cassie and start to kiss and caress her body. Now remember, she’s blindfolded. So, she thinks this is Bryan doing all this to her.
At the same time, Bryan is in the cellar trying to figure out a way to free himself. He finds a secret door behind the wine racks. It leads to a tunnel. Of course! Tunnels! It’s an old monastery. Why wouldn’t there be tunnels for easy hiding and escape? He finally finds a way out and comes up through a pantry or linen closet of sorts on the main floor of the house. When he does, he makes some noise. This scares Federico away. But not before he takes the time to leave Bryan’s phone behind in the bed for Cassie to find.
When she finds it, she finds messages from the girls from the night before and the video of Bryan having sex with them. At the same time she’s finding this out, Bryan is finding the fresh video of Federico licking and pawing all over his girlfriend and her obviously getting turned on by it.
Now the both of them are pissed as all get out. They find each other in the house and immediately start yelling at each other. As the quarrel escalates, Cassie throws her phone at Bryan. She misses him and hits a large mirror on the wall. That’s when THEY become aware that the house has hidden cameras all over the place.
This is when things go sideways…for EVERYBODY. Cassie and Bryan start freaking out because they realize Federico has been watching them the whole time. Federico realizes he’s been discovered and goes to the house to confront his victims. During this confrontation, he admits that he is watching them and he just couldn’t help himself from interfering, Cassie was too beautiful. A fight ensues and, in the struggle, Cassie beats Federico to death with a cane. Aware that everything they’ve just done was caught on video, they decide that they must hide the body and destroy the video evidence and the cameras.
But, then there’s a knock at the door. They don’t answer but someone lets themselves in the house through a side door. The owner. Eduardo.
After a brief exchange with Eduardo, Bryan is unable to convince him that this pesky neighbor is no longer a problem. Eduardo wants to check the house, just to make sure everything is okay. While he is looking around, Cassie and Bryan go to the room where the body of Federico is and panic. Meanwhile, Eduardo makes his way through the tunnels to the little room where all the video screens are that Federico watched Cassie and Bryan on. Now it’s clear, he’s in on it.
Eduardo goes back upstairs. He comes up on Cassie and starts talking to her. He takes his jacket off and covers the hidden camera in the front hallway that captures where they are at that moment. He then begins to slowly advance towards her, gun in his hand pointed at her, asking her what she did. As she continues to assert she did nothing, he continues to advance. Behind him, Bryan is sneaking up with the cane in his hands, ready to strike. Just as Eduardo is about to attack Cassie, her eyes clue him into Bryan’s position. He turns the gun to Bryan and Cassie stabs him with some object she grabbed that was close. He falls. Bryan hits him multiple times with the cane. Eduardo drops the gun. Cassie grabs the gun and is going to shoot Eduardo but, Bryan takes it from her and does it for her.
They spend many hours afterwards cleaning up the house, burying the bodies and destroying the cameras and video equipment.
Once it is all over, the two lovebirds decide to take a shower. Trying to wash away their sins, their guilt, the blood and dirt, who knows? This time though, Bryan IS able to perform.
Cassie asks him if he got all the cameras. He tells her that he’s pretty sure he did but that he also destroyed the hard drive they upload to, so that should take care of everything either way.
As we fade out, we go to a computer screen that is watching what looks like a security camera. It’s Bryan and Cassie burying the bodies via the hidden camera in the garden gnome. It’s then that we realize that everything that happened in the vacation house was being uploaded to the internet to a site called “Eye See You”, a voyeur site, and that many people already saw what they did.
What creeps me out the most about this film is the invasion of privacy. I don’t like the idea of paying money to go stay in someone else’s home but that’s just me personally. I don’t even like hotels. Then again, I travelled for a living for ten years or so. I guess that can make a difference.
Here’s the thing. This film could be the chilling cautionary tale for those sites where you book to go stay at someone else’s pad for five days for a vacation. There are a lot of sites that do it and we all know what they are and to avoid any chance of any type of lawsuit I am not going to mention their names in this article. People are too sensitive nowadays. Not worth the risk.
But this does show how, in this day and technological age, our assumption of privacy can easily be taken advantage of or manipulated. I mean, this couple straight assumes that some stranger that they’ve never met in person, never even talked to on the phone, is just as honest, if not more so, than they are. They assume that they will have privacy in someone else’s home??? Why??? That’s like assuming you have privacy in a government building or on the internet. You don’t by the way. Nothing is anonymous. Don’t kid yourselves.
This film eerily walks through the chilling sequence of an already dysfunctional relationship being invaded and dismantled all for the bleak entertainment of others. Although voyeurism is intellectually understandable with my psychology background, emotionally I have a hard time processing that kind of intrusive abuse of trust.
We’re talking about a stranger in a foreign and unfamiliar country filming you in your most vulnerable and private moments and uploading those to the internet for other complete strangers to view, comment on, pick apart, make fun of, exploit or worse. With geo-tagging and exif-data our world is getting more and more complicated, more and more dangerous. Certain things can actually tell the predators where you are without them even trying. The thought of your most intimate life details being broadcast on some random public access website…that should scare the crap out of anyone.
There wasn’t anything bad about this movie. There wasn’t anything spectacular either. I would call it average. The little twist at the end where we find out everything goes to the internet and that there are more people being watched than just Bryan and Cassie, that was good.
The acting wasn’t bad at all and the filming was definitely very decent. I just wish there had been a little more punch. Ya know? A film with this story, I feel like there could have been more weight to it, more heft. I was waiting for a real WOW moment and other than the little AH HA at the end, we didn’t really get one.
That doesn’t mean this was a bad movie and it’s one that I would probably be willing to watch again. I have a feeling this is one of those movies that tends to grow on you the more you watch it. So, I’m not going to count it out completely. And I do think suspense and thriller lovers should give it a go and at least see it once.