Thursday, April 30, 2015

JACK THE REAPER

Jack the Reaper Movie Review

The first thing you need to know about this movie is that it has absolutely nothing to do with Jack The Ripper, and little to do with the Grim Reaper. With that out of the way, here's what you get: a group of high school students are involved in a bus accident in the desert, where, off in the distance, they see a carnival. When they go for help, they find something more sinister waiting. In all likelihood you will be turned off to this film almost instantly by the atrocious acting (though, mercifully, the pregnant girl from an early scene never reappears, so take solace in that). The special effects are pretty bad, but they are actually not used too much, so this is more a minor issue for me. If you can get past these couple things, you may find a bit of enjoyment in the film as it feels sort of like a throwback film. There isn't a ton of blood and gore, and all the death scenes happen off screen via quick cuts, so that may frustrate you in the same way many films from the 1980s did. The group of students also reeks of horror movie cliché--you have the jerk jock guy, his black guy with a good heart best friend, the girl who wants the jock, the sensitive guy, the stuck up girl, the fat kid--you get the picture--but they also throw in a deaf girl and a boy who looks like Powder from the movie of the same name, so there's that.

The cliché kids

The plot is filled with holes and the characters make some of the stupidest decisions one can imagine. The movie continues to rely on horror clichés with its good on paper but poorly executed twist ending. But not all is bad: the villain at the end of the movie is fairly well done and scary for such a low budget film, and I am sort of a sucker for films set in carnival atmospheres, so that earns it some points. The best part of the film, however, is the appearance of Tony Todd as the creepy guy warning the kids of their impending doom--sadly, he is only appears in an extended cameo.

This is a take it or leave it kind of film, and your enjoyment level will largely depend on your expectations of it, as well as your mood when viewing it. My girlfriend seemed absolutely tortured watching this, so I probably enjoyed it more than I should have.

On A Scale of One To Ten: 4

Jack the Reaper Movie Trailer 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

FINAL DESTINATION 5

Final Destination 5 Movie Review

While on a company trip, Sam Lawton (Nicholas D'Agosto) has a premonition of a bridge collapsing. He rushes off the bridge, followed by several of his co-workers, just in time to watch the disaster up close. Having cheated death, the group must now find a way to avoid death's revenge.

Pretty much my worst nightmare

Yes, it's essentially the same plot as the other four, but this one has a new twist--the returning Bludworth (Tony Todd) tells the group they can cheat death by offering it another life. While this is a nice little twist to what we have come to know, one can't help but wonder why Bludworth has never offered this up before. This is a little distracting when considering the series as a whole, but it's not enough to take anything away from the enjoyment of the film. This is the second film in the series to be released in 3D, but unlike part 4, when you watch it on DVD the 3D stuff isn't distracting, and it certainly does not come off as gimmicky. The acting is a step up from the previous installment, but still does not match the first two films of the series. The death scenes are actually really well done in this movie and look far more realistic than most since the first film. And the ending--I won't give anything away, but I will say I did not see it coming (my girlfriend claims she did) and it is very effective. The end credits serve as an additional bit of awesomeness. As of this writing there are no announced plans to make a sixth movie in this series, and considering the other ones were released about three years apart, and it's now been almost four years since this movie was released, I would say there's a good chance this is the last of the Final Destination films. I think this film wraps up the series nicely, and as much as I like this series, I kind of hope they are done with it (and I certainly hope it never gets a horrible reboot).

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

Final Destination 5 Movie Trailer

THE FINAL DESTINATION (aka Final Destination 4)

The Final Destination Movie Review

This one starts out with Nick (Bobby Campo) having a premonition of a disastrous car accident at a race car event. As in the first three, he warns everybody and runs for higher ground. The people who follow him or are forced out of the stadium survive this event, but have to figure a way to avoid death in the future.

Kissimmee traffic

The first thing you will notice about this film is stuff flying at you almost constantly--it will not surprise you, then, to learn this was done in 3D. I saw it in theatres in 3D, and for as good as it was then, it's distracting trying to watch it in a non-3D setting. Another thing you will likely notice is the acting drops off considerably in this outing. It's as if they found the biggest bunch of little-to-no talent television actors available and went with it. One face you may recognize is Mykelti Williamson of Forrest Gump fame. His performance is a fairly good one, though there's only so much he could do with the dialogue he was given. For what the movie lacks in all this, however, it makes up for with the sheer number of death scenes, albeit ones that are so far fetched they often border on comical. The visions Nick has of the next death are REALLY bad CGI that, again, looked decent in 3D but horrible on standard DVD. The opening and closing credits deserve mention as being really well done, however. Much to my dismay, this is the first (and to date, only) Final Destination film that Tony Todd does not appear in in some way. To me, this is the worst of the series, though it is still a decent horror film. The title would suggest this would be the final film in the series--I think somebody realized they can't possibly end it like this, so yes, there will be more.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

The Final Destination Movie Trailer

FINAL DESTINATION 3

Final Destination 3 Movie Review

Wendy Christensen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a premonition of a roller coaster disaster, freaks out, and gets off the coaster, followed by several of her classmates. After the coaster does, in fact, come off the rails, death comes after Wendy and her friends, clearly upset they have interfered with his design.
This looks fun

This installment of the series does not stray too far from the formula set forth by its predecessors, even mentioning the first two as blueprints on how to cheat death, all while adding a new wrinkle--Wendy can see clues to future deaths in photographs she took the night of the coaster accident. This movie maintains the general feel of the first two, and though the acting comes down a notch, the death scenes are equally brutal--the tanning bed scene may be the most horrific of the deaths scenes in the entire series. Unfortunately, this also has the most irritating character in the entire series, Frankie Cheeks--he's such an annoying character I think I may be taking away an entire point just for his existence--well, that and the fact that Bludworth makes no appearance in the film (though Tony Todd himself does do some voice work for the movie). Some of the special effects in the movie also leave a little to be desired. Overall, however, I still enjoy this movie quite a bit. Also, I very much recommend getting the DVD of Final Destination 3. There is a really fun bonus that allows you to choose the fate of the characters as you watch the movie, unleashing alternate versions of some scenes from the original.

Cool

This bonus allows you to save certain characters, one option reveals the fate of two characters from Final Destination 2 (it's not pretty), and even unlocks two alternate endings, one that is so abrupt it had me wondering what in the world I was watching and how did I get here.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

Final Destination 3 Movie Trailer

Saturday, April 25, 2015

FINAL DESTINATION 2

Final Destination 2 Movie Review

Just before pulling onto a highway, Kimberly (A.J. Cook) has a vision of a multi-vehicle accident that claims many lives. She blocks the ramp leading to the highway, saving the lives of several people who must now try to survive death's vengeance.

Cue chaos in 3...2...1...

Yes, the premise of this film is almost identical to the first, but this time it does include a new rule (delivered by the returning Tony Todd in another fantastic cameo): new life can defeat death. This gives us a storyline that leads one to believe the movie will head in one direction, but it does deliver a nice swerve at the end. It is also revealed that many of the characters in this film are indirectly related in some fashion to characters and events from the first film. This is a strong follow up to the original film--the acting falls a bit, but not too much, and some of the death scenes are on par with the first. I actually like the disaster sequence at the start of this film more than the first (it's probably my favorite premonition of the series and forever changed the way I looked at certain trucks). The lead, Cook, doesn't do a particularly good job here. To me she fails, through her practically emotionless performance, to make us care a whole lot for her character. The rest of the survivors are a more mixed bunch than in the first--in the original film, with the exception of the school teacher, the survivors were all high school students. Here they are many ages, races, backgrounds, etc., and there are more of them--I personally think this is a nice touch. Final Destination 2 is a step down from the original film, but it's not a huge step whatsoever. I highly recommend this film as well.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

Final Destination 2 Movie Trailer

Friday, April 24, 2015

FINAL DESTINATION

Final Destination Movie Review

As he sits on an airplane awaiting his departure, Alex Browning (Devon Sawa, SLC Punk!) has a premonition of the plane exploding. He races off the plane, followed by a few of his classmates and a teacher. After the plane does, in fact, explode, the survivors are left to face the consequences of cheating death's design.

At least Billy sees what's happening

This is a really original horror movie that hits on almost all levels. The writing, and especially the concept of the movie, is really unique, and has triggered many imitation films since. The gore and death scenes are really intense, and considering this pre-dates the Saw and Hostile films, they are somewhat trend-setting, in particular for a movie that was released theatrically. The acting is pretty good throughout--there is nothing Academy worthy in the performances, but there is nothing offensively bad either. Much to my delight, Tony Todd (Candyman, Night of the Living Dead) stops by for one of the all time great cameos. I remember questioning my own mortality after seeing this in theatres when it opened, and after watching 15 years later, it still somewhat gives me the same feeling. Final Destination set the bar high for horror films of the new millennium, and it remains one of the finest of it's genre to this day.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 9

Final Destination Movie Trailer

Monday, April 20, 2015

STITCHES

Stitches Movie Review

Years after being accidentally killed at a children's birthday party as a result of a prank the kids pulled on him, a psychotic clown returns to seek revenge. This Irish horror-comedy is a true hidden gem among a sea of mediocre films of the same genre, though it does lean far more toward the comedy than the horror. Ross Noble does a fantastic job as Stitches, the most dysfunctional clown this side of Shakes.

Handsome fella, no?

The rest of the acting in the film varies--some performances are pretty good, some a little less so, but nothing here is too terrible. The budget of this is really low, but good directing and camerawork do a wonderful job of masking its shortcomings. There are some very bloody and gory scenes throughout, but they are primarily done with tongue planted firmly in cheek. There is some crude comedy in the film--I'm not typically a big fan of this sort of thing, but it's not so abundant that it takes a whole lot from the movie. Also be warned--some of the comedy falls under the category of "British humour", so if this is not your thing, you may want to steer clear. Stitches will never be considered one of the greatest films in movie making history, but it is a fun film that I enjoy and believe to be worth a look.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

Stitches Trailer

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS

 The Cabin In The Woods Movie Review

A group of young people go to a cabin (in the woods, naturally) for a little relaxation. While there they discover there is evil abound, but what (or who) is behind it is what is truly shocking. I remember walking out of the theatre after seeing this film and thinking it was going to end up being a horror favorite of mine, and having just watched it again (for probably the fifth time) I think I can confirm this initial belief. The idea of the film is original, yet is a nod to MANY horror films in the past. The comedy in it is genuinely funny. The special effects are very well done. The acting is good for the most part--the stoner character is even likable. The monsters/creatures are a combination of terrifying and jaw dropping in their detail and sheer coolness. The scene when all the monsters are finally revealed is an instant classic in the realm of horror films (if you want to watch it, see below). The only real drawbacks to the film for me are a rather slow opening and an ending that leaves a bit to be desired--these are small complaints, however, and certainly not enough to detract from the film by any significant measure. I highly recommend this film to any horror fan.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 9

The Cabin In The Woods Trailer

The Cabin In The Woods complete monster scene.
Warning: This contains spoilers, lots of blood and
gore, and a little colorful language.

Friday, April 17, 2015

HAUNT

 Haunt Movie Review

Evan (Harrison Gilbertson) and his new neighbor/girlfriend Sam (Liana Liberato) explore the supernatural in the house Evan and his family just purchased. This movie really doesn't bring anything to the table we haven't seen dozens of times before--it is a slow burn build, complete with ghostly figures appearing as a scene closes (for no apparent reason other than to remind you there are ghosts in the house)...

like this one

...and a visit to the one person in the world with all the answers, all leading to a scare-packed ending that includes a little twist. Not that this is a bad formula--it's just one that has been overdone at this point. The characters in this film are actually fairly likable (yes, even the teens), which adds to the enjoyment of the film. For the most part the ghosts are effective in their appearance. As an added bonus, fans of the 1980s will be pleased to see Ione Skye of Say Anything fame show up in this film. One thing to know going into a film like this is that you have to have the patience to sit through at least forty-five minutes of seemingly nothing happening before you see the story really unfold. This movie does a decent job with this, and it's a fair movie all around, but it is nothing I would go out of my way to see again.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

Haunt Movie Trailer

STORAGE 24

Storage 24 Movie Review

Five people (a girl, her best friend and her boyfriend, her ex, and her ex boyfriend's best friend) find themselves in a storage facility a short time after an explosion rocks London. As they attempt to sort out their personal issues they are being stalked by an alien that has emerged from a crashed aircraft. This English film is a pretty good balance of horror, sci-fi, and drama with dashes of comedy sprinkled about. There is not a ton of gore in this movie, but when there is, it is done very well. The best part of the movie for me was the alien itself. It is actually fairly scary looking, while at the same time looking like something from a 1950s creature feature. For the most part the acting is better than I expected it to be, with the exception of Antonia Campbell-Hughes as Shelley, the lead character. Campbell-Hughes' performance was so boring and uninspired that practically the entire time she was on the screen I thought to myself "This is what Falcor from The Neverending Story would look like if he were human".



Anybody else see it?

If you can look past this distraction, you are a fan of a good creature feature, and you enjoy nice little twist endings, you may find yourself enjoying this film--I did.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


Storage 24 Movie Trailer

Thursday, April 16, 2015

THE ABCs OF DEATH 2

The ABCs Of Death 2 Movie Review

Much like the first The ABCs of Death, this installment is a 26 story anthology, each representing a letter in the alphabet. The gimmick is this: 26 different directors from around the world are assigned a letter, and they must create a short that represent death at the hands of something to do with their assigned word. Also, like the original, this one is very hit or miss (the scale tips toward the latter). There is some really good stuff here: S Is For Split, to me, is topped only by D Is For Dogfight from the first film as being the best story from the first two films of this series. Q Is For Questionnaire is a close second in this sequel. N Is For Nexus is another strong segment, F Is For Falling and R Is For Roulette are also pretty good, and W Is For Wish is a really creative look at the world of action figures. Unfortunately, there are some segments that are just...bad. Z Is For Zygote leans on the disgusting (though it doesn't come close to the gross level of some of the stories from the first ABC's). G Is For Grandad and V Is For Vacation are also lame ducks here. My biggest problem with this movie is M Is For Masticate--this segment touches way too close to a real life occurrence and does so in a way that is so distasteful it is offensive (a word a seldom ever use) and illustrates how much disconnect there is between common decency and respect and American society in general. If you don't want to read a spoiler, skip ahead to the next paragraph, though I encourage you to just skip this segment completely if you watch this film (aside from the fact it is disgusting, it is also very poorly shot, written, and delivered)---this segment exists to make light of the 2012 incident that saw an idiot allegedly high on bath salts attack a homeless man, chewing his face off, before the police arrived to kill the attacker. In this segment, we see a man run through a crown of people in slow motion, tackle a man, take a bite out of him, and get gunned down by the police. We then get a joke about the guy being on bath salts. To mock this real life incident in a film is deplorable.

Most of the rest of the segments in this outing muddle about in a state of mediocrity. Some, oddly, even deliver a political message, and others, naturally, deliver the bizarre. Many rely way too heavily on very cheap CGI that does little more than remove the mood set by otherwise decent stories. Overall, if you have seen the first ABCs Of Death, you pretty much know what to expect here. You won't be overly impressed with much here (S and Q notwithstanding), but, with the exception of M, there isn't anything horrible either.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5


The ABCs Of Death 2 Movie Trailer

Saturday, April 11, 2015

SLEEPY HOLLOW HIGH

Sleepy Hollow High Movie Review

As an alternative to being expelled from school, a group of high school trouble makers are sent to clean up the woods around Sleepy Hollow. What they don't know is that evil awaits them. This is a very low budget film (to give you an idea, the same two or three names appear dozens of times in the end credits) that has a fairly simple but promising premise, and manages to fail in its delivery in every way possible. The lighting, sound, sound effects, and especially the directing are all dreadfully bad. To call what we see the people doing on the screen "acting" is an insult to the profession, especially Ruben Brown as "Z" and Kevin Summerfield (also the writer, director, producer, makeup artist...you get the idea) as Mr. E. Also, I don't know their ages, but the high school students look to be in their late twenties to early thirties. These things all combine to produce what comes off as a bad college project.

Still, one could overlook the bad of this film if it had redeeming qualities. For example, good death scenes can make up for this. Did this movie have that? No. It had slow motion off screen death scenes. A scary Headless Horseman villain? Forget it. Instead, we get a fat dude in a cheap Halloween costume.

THIS is our villain?!

Likable and/or entertaining characters? Not here. You will find yourself begging for their demise. At the end you find yourself thinking "I've sat through all this, so now the ending will be so incredibly original and unexpected that it will have made the last hour and a half of my life worth living!"--and you will be disappointed. They go with perhaps the most overdone, clichéd ending in film history. If you have managed to make it through this movie, do yourself a favor and watch the credits. It is at this time you will enjoy the only two positive things I can say about this film: the credits look cool and there is a catchy song that plays through most of it (and if you're really bored, take a shot every time you see the names Kevin Summerfield and Chris Arth appear on the screen).

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 2

Sleepy Hollow High Movie Trailer 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

THE BEES


The Bees Movie Review

African honey bees are mating with other bees in Brazil, unleashing an onslaught that spreads to the rest of South America and, via corporate greed, makes its way into the United States. This 1978 B movie (I won't make the obvious pun here) is filled with the same nonsense of 50's creature features that no doubt inspired it: bad dialogue, poor acting, a plot that is nonsensical...you get the picture. The special effects of the bee swarms are so bad they're hilarious. The accents of the actors are so insulting at times you have to laugh. As the movie moves along you are also treated to stock footage war against the bees and a realization that the bees are actually trying to communicate with the humans, all laid out in gibberish filled dialogue that would make Ed Wood himself proud. There are, surprisingly, a couple recognizable people in this film, including John Saxon of A Nightmare On Elm Street fame giving one of the most over-the-top overacting performances one can imagine, and John Carradine, who appeared in no fewer than 347 films and television shows in his career! Be mindful that this movie is rated PG, so don't expect much gore or blood--in fact, there is none. Also be prepared for one of the most abrupt endings you are likely to ever see.

This is not a good movie by any stretch, but it is a nod to 50's B cinema, and as long as you know not to take it too seriously, you may have fun watching this one.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4

The Bees Trailer