Sunday, January 31, 2016

THIS ISLAND EARTH

This Island Earth Movie Review

At war in their own land, a group of aliens come to Earth to enlist the help of the best and brightest scientists they can find. They fly Dr. Cal Meacham (Rex Reason of The Creature Walks Among Us) to their base, where he is reunited with former colleague Dr. Ruth Adams (Faith Domergue from Cult of the Cobra). Together they try to determine if the leader of the aliens, Exeter (Jeff Morrow, also of The Creature Walks Among Us), is on their side--and lots of science fiction stuff happens from there. I know this movie was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, a fantastic show known for featuring horrible films, and yes, this movie absolutely screams 1950s B Sci-Fi, but honestly, there are a couple things to like about this film.

.....

...anyway, the version I watched was the Technicolor version, and for as much as I love black and white, I have to admit to really digging the way the color practically jumped off the screen in this version. In particular, when they arrive at Metaluna, the alien planet, the visuals are stunning.


Cool

Honestly, for it's time (1955), this film has some very impressive special effects and gives us a small peek into the future (ever wonder what Skype, 1950s style, would look like?) while also blending in doses of stuff that's so bad it's good (the spaceship chasing the car scene comes to mind). The acting is fairly good across the board, with the exception of Reason, who comes across as completely unbelievable as a scientist. Probably more than anything, This Island Earth is known for this guy...

Handsome fella

While not quite to the level of "iconic", this monster, described in the film as something akin to an insect on Earth, is pretty recognizable and would inspire alien designs for many movies to follow. This Island Earth is, for better or worse, one of the most known science fiction films of the golden age of them, and is certainly one that any fan of this genre should check out.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

This Island Earth Movie Trailer

DIRE WOLF (aka DINOWOLF or DINO WOLF)

Dire Wolf / Dino Wolf Movie Review

An experiment to bring back the extinct dire wolf and cross it with human DNA goes awry, leaving an escaped killing machine free to feast on locals in a small town. Now it's up to Sheriff Parker (Maxwell Caulfield of Empire Records), two special agents (John L. Curtis and Kristen Howe, a woman who bears a striking resemblance to a man I work with--sorry Ali), and the sheriff's son, Jim Martin, to stop the beast.

Not THAT Jim Martin

If you are familiar with the director, Fred Olen Ray, you know right off bat what you're in store for here--almost no budget, little to no acting ability in the movie, and, when it's all said and done, something that is probably going to be just a step up from your standard Troma film. As long as you recognize these facts and don't expect the next great American film, you may find yourself liking some of his work, and Dire Wolf is no exception. Sure, the premise is ridiculous, but that adds to the enjoyment of the movie. And yes, the acting is pretty bad, but you can tell that at least some of them are trying, so there's that. The wolf itself--truthfully, I was actually pleased with the wolf.


There he is now...look behind her...there

In a world of poorly executed CGI monsters it is oddly refreshing to see a good old fashion costumed monster once in a while. If you like tons of blood and guts (literally), you will find lots to like about this film, though practically every death scene is identical to the one before it. More than anything this will likely remind you of a SyFy movie, and sometimes that's not such a bad thing.
  
On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Dire Wolf / Dino Wolf Movie Trailer

Saturday, January 30, 2016

LET US PREY

Let Us Prey Movie Review

It appears to be another ordinary night at a small town Scottish police station until a stranger with no name (veteran actor Liam Cunningham) shows up. Soon we begin to see each person in the jail, as well as the officers themselves, have a dark past they are about to be held accountable for. This is a movie that starts slow--we get to know each character fairly well in the beginning, especially new constable Rachel Heggie (Pollyanna McIntosh of The Woman). As the secrets of the stranger begin to reveal themselves, however, the movie starts to take off.

Guess who

This is not an entirely original film--in fact, comparisons to both The Traveler and Storm of the Century would be fair. When the action does pick up it packs quite a punch--and plenty of blood. This is a well shot film, so visually you will likely be very pleased--the acting is less impressive. Cunningham does a decent job with the character he is given, and everybody else falls flat or goes way overboard. The CGI used in the film leaves a lot to be desired as well. Since we've seen so many movies like this come along over the years there's nothing really original or unpredictable about Let Us Prey--it's not a great film, but it's nothing horrible either.


On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6



Let Us Prey Red Band Movie Trailer

Thursday, January 28, 2016

THE 5TH WAVE (From The Theatre)

The 5th Wave Movie Review

A large U.F.O. is spotted in the sky (think Independence Day) and as people begin to panic, the aliens (called "Others" here) inside begin a series of attacks, known as "waves". Teenager Cassie Sullivan (Chloe Grace Moretz of Dark Shadows and Let Me In fame) is now on the run as she attempts to make it from somewhere near Cleveland, Ohio to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. Here's the thing about this movie, and why I chose to see it (and put it on this site)--first and foremost, it's an alien invasion sci-fi disaster film, and I am a big fan of this genre; unfortunately, it doesn't keep this theme up for long, but more on that in a moment. This movie comes out swinging, and the first part of the movie is really, really good. The tone is one of helplessness, the cinematography is wonderful, the characters are developed well, the acting (with the exception of Zackary Arthur as Cassie's little brother) is impressive (especially Moretz), and all hell begins to break loose as we see the waves come on.

A different sort of wave did this

People are dropping dead left and right, and we are shown many very impressive visuals to hammer home the message. Unfortunately, the movie takes a nosedive the second we see this guy...


Things are about to get weary

Not that I'm not a fan of Liev Schreiber--I actually am a fan and was happy to see him in this, but absolutely everything that happens from the moment we see him in this film all the way to the very end is so predictable it becomes painful to watch. Did I say painful? You ain't seen nothing yet. This just-a-second ago alien attack sci-fi awesomeness film quickly implodes and spews out a teen romance film...A TEEN ROMANCE FILM!!!!! 

Watch where you're putting that hand fella

To make matters worse, the popcorn was all gone by this point and my girlfriend, left on her own at the concessions, got a medium instead of a large, so refills were out of the question. After suffering through what seemed hours of scene switches between Cassie and her new boy Evan (English chap Alex Roe) flirting about and Cassie's former crush Ben Parish (aka "Zombie", played by the stone faced Nick Robinson, an actor who, given more screen time, may have single handedly ruined the latest Jurassic Park film and does his best to do the same to this film--not that it needs much help...) and other children being trained by the Army in Dayton to battle the Others, leading to exactly one battle that more closely resembles a bad video game than a box office film, everybody finally meets up and...well, I guess we have to wait for the sequel to see anything actually happen. Anybody familiar with the Dayton, Ohio area (I lived in, and visited, Dayton for many years) will get a few additional laughs in this film. These will include the notion that all land between Cleveland and Dayton is wooded, seeing a sign that indicates Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is 46 miles away, the very large hills surrounding said sign, and constantly hearing people say "Wright-Patterson" instead of the norm: "Wright-Patt"--it's not hard to figure out that nether the writer of the book the film is based on, nor the film's director (J Blakeson), have any idea of this area and likely chose Wright-Patt based on the long-standing belief that aliens and U.F.O. aircraft are stored at the base. Lets get back on the tracks--if you have any intention of seeing The 5th Wave I recommend turning it off once you see our friend Liev make his grand entrance and spend the next hour and a half imagining what could have been.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

The 5th Wave Movie Trailer

Monday, January 25, 2016

DEAD MAN'S EYES

Dead Man's Eyes Movie Review

Artist David Stuart (Lon Chaney Jr.) accidently rubs acid into eyes, rendering him completely blind--however, Stuart's fiancĂ©'s father, Dr. Stanley Hayden, offers to donate his eyes to Stuart after his death. Soon after, the man with the generous offer is found killed, and all fingers at pointed at Stuart as the culprit. For being such a short movie (just over an hour long), there's a lot going on here--we have the question of who killed Hayden? Did model Tanya Czoraki (Acquanetta of Captive Wild Woman, Jungle Woman and Tarzan and the Leopard Woman fame) intentionally cause Stuart to lose his sight? Was the surgery successful? Who stole the eyes? Throw in a web of lies and loves and it's enough to make your head spin.

It did his

This is enough to keep you interested in the film, but unfortunately, the delivery doesn't quite live up to the premise. Chaney, who I am typically a fan of, is fairly dull and seems uninterested here--maybe he was tired, having appeared in 8 films the year this came out (1944)--in fact, a quick look shows he appeared in no fewer than 33 films between 1941 and 1945! The acting beyond Chaney gets even worse, especially Acquanetta, who turns in as wooden a performance as one can imagine and was no doubt cast on her looks alone.

Sorry David

There's no blood or gore, and truly this is more a murder mystery than a horror film of any kind. The movie does throw in some twists and turns, and it is a good enough story to keep you hooked until the end. If you're looking for a Chaney movie to watch on a lazy day, you can certainly do a lot better than Dead Man's Eyes.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5



I couldn't find a trailer for this film, so instead please enjoy this Lon Chaney Jr. documentary

Sunday, January 17, 2016

KING KONG ESCAPES

King Kong Escapes Movie Review

Every once in a while, you see a movie that truly is best explained through a series of pictures--King Kong Escapes qualifies. If you are paying attention during the opening credits (as I was), you will notice something that may catch you a bit off guard (as it did me)--this is a Rankin/Bass production. If this sounds vaguely familiar but you can't quite place it, it's the same production company that brought us...

this...

this...

this...

and even this.

But back to our story...the evil Doctor Who...

Not THAT one--this one

...and his assistant Madame X...

Or Madame Piranha, if you please

...create a robotic version of King Kong...

Him

...to dig through the North Pole in search of Element X. When he fails miserably, they go in search of the real King Kong...

Him

...to get the job done. Naturally, Kong is busy fighting off other monsters... 

Such as Gorosaurus...

...and this snake...

..., but if there's one thing we know about Kong it's that he always has time for the ladies. So once our dastardly duo figure out Kong's latest crush...


Her

...they decide to use her to lure Kong into their treacherous hands.


Via his hands on her

Throughout the film you see scale model action such as...


...this...

...and this...

...all leading to the inevitable...

...this.
 
Throw in fantastic English dubbing, rear projection shots that will have you laughing out loud, and  Ishiro Honda (Godzilla Godfather) directing it all and you have almost two hours of must-see monster movie madness.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

King Kong Escapes Movie Trailer

Friday, January 15, 2016

HIGH LANE (aka Vertige)

High Lane Movie Review

A group of friends go mountain climbing in Croatia, but after passing an off limits area, they get more than they bargained for. This 2009 French film actually starts off really well. We have five somewhat likable characters, including one who bears a striking resemblance to 80's movie icon Kerri Green.

Anybody else see it?

The group faces a number of obstacles on their way, and if you are scared of heights, bridges, mountains, or all of the above, some parts of this movie may make you terribly uncomfortable, turn your stomach, or make you lightheaded.


Maybe even faint

The tension is high, the scenery gorgeous, and just when you find yourself really getting into this movie, as the body count begins to rise...you realize this movie could have just as easily been titled Wrong Turn 7: Croatian Vacation. Honestly, from the time you see the first bear trap, the movie plays out just like a Wrong Turn film, which is unfortunate as that series should have died off years ago. So instead of something unique, we get...that. Some viewers may also be turned off by the dubbing (it's French but with English dubbing instead of subtitles), and at times it is really bad, but believe me when I tell you I've seen a lot worse. Besides, you will likely be so distracted with the horrible shaky camera work you won't be too bothered by the dubbing. The acting is actually fairly decent, and the tension between the group is played out very well, but the "twist" at the end will leave you fairly unsatisfied. High Lane had incredible potential to makes its mark in the horror world, but instead chose an all too familiar path, damning it to an eternity of mediocrity.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

High Lane Movie Trailer

Thursday, January 14, 2016

HOLD YOUR BREATH

Hold Your Breath Movie Review

A group of young people on a camping trip pass a cemetery that holds the spirit of a 1950s serial killer. One girl, aware of the superstition my girlfriend also abides by, warns the group to hold their breath (see there?) as they cross the cemetery, but one (the stoner, naturally) doesn't, and is soon possessed by the unhappy eye-seeking spirit.

See what eye did there...and there?

My first movie of the new year from production company The Asylum offers up pretty much everything you expect from them--poor acting, a laughable script, horrendous CGI--you get the picture. But challenge yourself to look beyond the obvious horrible and you will land firmly on the level of ineptness that makes this film so enjoyable--the continuity (or lack thereof). The film is set in Florida, but anybody who has spent any time in Florida (or has the misfortune of living here) will know right off the bat this ain't no Flor-da picture. Mountains? At most, Florida has a few hills. The rocky desert terrain? Not in Florida! We're not even going to mention the license plates. Want more hilarity? See what the killer does with connections to car batteries. How about a girl getting her head bashed in on a steering wheel spitting up blood but having not a single cut, or even bruise, or her head? Want to see perhaps the worst Ahab in horror film history?

Ladies and gentlemen, meet McBride

If you can laugh your way through all the nonsense, you will be treated to an interesting twist on an otherwise boring plot--honestly, why any movie would want to essentially steal the plot of one of the worst horror films in horror film history is beyond me--naturally, the excitement of the little twist is ruined by the final scene in the film, but you expect that by the time you get to that point. If you're looking for a genuinely scary movie, don't hold your breath here, but if you're looking for an unintentionally funny film, give this one a shot.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4



Hold Your Breath Movie Trailer

Sunday, January 10, 2016

WEREWOLF OF LONDON

Werewolf of London Movie Review

Dr. Glendon (Henry Hull) visits Tibet and returns to London with very a mysterious flower. As fate would have it, it's the only thing that can cure him of the "werewolfery" (Dr. Yogami's term, not mine) he contracts after being attacked by a hairy-handed gent. This 1935 Universal film predates the much more known The Wolf Man by about 6 years, and is the first stab at the werewolf genre for the company. Hull refused the makeup that would eventually be used on Lon Chaney Jr. six years later, opting a for a less hairy, but still scary, look.

This look

To me, this was a wonderfully shot film, and, visually, is absolutely beautiful. Some of the dialogue is witty and clever, but can also veer the opposite direction so far is becomes mind numbing. The story itself is fairly uninteresting, and there are long periods of time when little to nothing to happening to advance the story. My primary gripe with this film, however, are the wolves. They just come across as so...physically weak. Glendon has little trouble swatting away the wolf he falls victim to, and when Glendon has a confrontation with a human near the end of the film the outcome is similar. Werewolf of London is not a terribly memorable film, and is not considered one of Universal's Classics as a result, but it does a nice job developing the blueprint for The Wolf Man and countless werewolf movies that would follow. It's worth watching for that reason alone.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Werewolf of London Movie Trailer


Because I know you want it...

Saturday, January 9, 2016

TALES FROM THE CRYPT PRESENTS: RITUAL

Tales From The Crypt Presents: Ritual Movie Review

After having her medical license revoked, Dr. Alice Dodgson (Jennifer Grey of Dirty Dancing and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, post nose job) answers an ad to go to Jamaica to care for a man's ailing brother. Naturally, being in Jamaica, the plot revolves around voodoo and zombies. This 2002 film was meant to be the third installment of the Tales From The Crypt movie trilogy of the 1990s, but since those movies didn't exactly fare well in the box office (for good reason), this one was shelved and Universal eventually sold it to Miramax, who shelved it a little longer before removing all references to Tales From the Crypt and releasing it. I understand the DVD reinserts our beloved Crypt Keeper, but, sadly, he is absent from the Netflix version, which is what I just suffered through.

Awesomeness you won't see on Netflix

I tell you all this because, frankly, that story is far more interesting than the movie itself. It feels like a somewhat updated version of 1950s and 60s voodoo films that included a lot of dancing by "tribal" people and not much else. They attempt some twists and turns, all of which you will likely see coming. The acting, aside from the performance from the legendary Tim Curry, is flat. The film has none of the humor and charm of the old television show. There's practically no gore or bloodshed to keep you interested. The use of slow motion and repetitive flashbacks slows down an already slow moving film. The only redeeming qualities to this film, outside of Curry and short appearances from Erick Avari and Stephen Tobolowsky (Ned! Ryerson!), are the locations and the ending, which is so fast, abrupt, and absurd it almost made up for the 100 minutes that preceded it...almost.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4

Tales From The Crypt Presents: Ritual Movie Trailer

Saturday, January 2, 2016

HAUNTER

Haunter Movie Review

Lisa (Abigail Breslin, Signs) keeps reliving the same day over and over. She soon discovers this is happening because she is dead, and she and her family are not the only ghosts in her house. This 2013 film is an interesting take on the haunted house story--the main character is a ghost trying to contact the living for answers and to warn them of what is to come. Throw in a bit of time travel and possession and you have a nice melting pot of horror that has the potential to explode in awesomeness or awfulness--thankfully, this one leans toward the latter, though it does come up a bit short in attaining it. There are not a ton of scares in the movie (though it certainly presents a creepy vibe). There is no gore to speak of. Everything is just more...subtle.

Like this

There really is a lot to like about this film. The story moves on at a really good pace, something rare for a horror film that is not filled with the aforementioned bloodshed. The characters are likable, and the actors do a good job across the board. Lisa is an 80's New Wave fan (she sports a Siouxsie and the Banshees shirt throughout, quotes The Smiths, has posters of Joy Division and The Cure, etc), so naturally she gets points for that. The jumping between time is done in an interesting way, and the movie makers do a fine job visually defining each decade. The main drawbacks of the film are the beyond questionable actions of some of the characters, the ending seems way too much a cop out, and it just feels like the film never delivers that knockout blow you expect. All this said, Haunter is a nice little film that is certainly worth a viewing.


On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7



Haunter Movie Trailer


As a bonus, I share with you the song that repeated itself in my head throughout the entire movie.


You're welcome