Wednesday, January 31, 2018

JIGSAW

***WARNING! This movie review is filled with spoilers. If you have not seen this film, and hate it when people ruin plot twists and/or endings for you, you may want to skip this review and check out the many other wonderfully entertaining reviews my little site offers--most do not contain spoilers. I promise. End obligatory warning, and on with the show***

Jigsaw Movie Review

Set more than ten years after the death of John Kramer, aka notorious serial killer "Jigsaw", this movie finds a new group of strangers navigating through various deadly traps; meanwhile, a dirty cop (Callum Keith Rennie, Memento), a clean cop (Cle Bennett from Urban Legend), a forensic pathologist (Matt Passmore), and his assistant--and Jigsaw fangirl--Eleanor Bonneville (Hannah Emily Anderson) try to unravel the mystery/become the main suspects. The movie starts out with a criminal using a remote device to start the game--we then see a group of five strangers playing the first part of said game.

I'd use a Buckethead joke here, but the movie already did...over and over again

As the movie moves along, we get what you would expect from a Saw film--lots of traps, blood, and death scenes, but these generally do not come close to the gore or, more importantly, the originality of most from the previous films. The general theme here is confessing your sins, and the people in the traps have a very difficult time doing this--naturally, the results are horrific. So as the four main characters outside the traps try to figure out how Kramer, who is long dead, can be behind everything happening (his blood is under a victim's nails, his voice is on a new tape, etc), the folks inside the traps are naturally terrified and have no idea what it happening--keep this in mind, and compare it to every single person who has been in these traps since the original film...this is perhaps the biggest clue of the twist--actually, lets just go ahead and skip to the twist ending. So we see the two remaining people from the initial trap in a room with John, while we also see two of the main characters from the outside now in traps themselves. One of the characters--well, I'm going full-blown spoiler here, so if you ignored the warning above and continued reading, this is your final warning.....still with me? Good. Okay, so Logan, the forensic pathologist, and Halloran, the crooked cop, are in traps that look like...well, they look like this...

Blinded by the light

These neck traps contain a laser that cuts sharper than anything else in the world, and to avoid them, each man has to admit his mistakes in life; Logan admits his, but is killed anyway. Halloran thinks he has won, but when his lasers light up and begin to move toward him, he spills the beans about letting killers, rapists, etc go free, including the man who killed Logan's wife. Suddenly, Logan stands, and explains he has been behind this the entire time--you see, he worked with John/Jigsaw after surviving the original buckethead game, and became John's FIRST pupil. The rest of the game we see throughout the movie was the original traps John had made, predating the original film, which is why we see John with the two survivors. The bodies Logan, Hallloran, and the others have been finding are so mangled that we, as the viewer, assume they are the people we are watching die as the movie progresses, but they are not--they are the bodies from Logan's duplication of what we are seeing. So half the movie is taking place in the present, while the other half is taking place ten years in the past.

Yeah...

So, okay, you got us...many didn't see this coming, but let us review why this twist ending fails, and lets begin with the timeline. They repeatedly make mention that John died ten years ago, but this throws off the entire timeline completely. If John had terminal brain cancer, and he connected with Logan as a result of Logan screwing up John's x-rays, and that's why Logan was in this at the beginning, this would have made their partnership begin eleven years ago...in reality, this would have had to have been AT LEAST fifteen years ago to fall in line with everything else we know about the series. Second, if Logan played such a large part of the genesis of this story, why is he NEVER mentioned in the first seven movies? Certainly John would have said something about him? Amanda would have been violently jealous of him? Detective Hoffman would have brought him up? None of this ever happened, making this twist terribly unbelievable and falling well short of the twist awesomeness we are used to from this franchise. Third, if you are paying even a little bit of attention to the scene when Logan and Halloran are in their traps, you will not be surprised when Logan stands--having just allegedly been killed by the most effective cutting tools in the world, Logan's head should have been obliterated, but when we see him fall to the ground, there is obviously no traumatic damage to his skull, so when he stands after Halloran admits his wrong-doing, it really isn't that surprising. Okay, with all that out of the way, and I realize this is called Quick Horror Movie Reviews and this one has been anything but quick, I will sum it up--Jigsaw is sort of like seeing a cover band in concert--it's close enough to the real thing that you can still enjoy it, but it's not quite on par with the original. When I reviewed Saw 3D, the movie that was supposed to wrap up the series, I said, quote, "To me, the end of the Saw series was about as perfect as could have been done, and as much as I love this series, I hope they do not make another one." I stand by this statement.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6


Jigsaw Movie Trailer

ADDITIONAL PERSONAL NOTE:

This was the first Saw movie I didn't see in the theatre, and I don't regret that decision. Here are links to my reviews of the other seven films from the series:







Tuesday, January 30, 2018

HAPPY DEATH DAY

Happy Death Day Movie Review

A person with questionable morals and an overall bad attitude about life is cursed to live the same day over and over again--waking up to the same music at the same time every morning, seeing the same events unfold every day, and dying at the end of the evening, only to wake up the next morning to start it all over again.

Good guess, but no

Yeah, so Happy Death Day is almost the same movie as Groundhog Day (so much so a character actually references the Bill Murray film near the end)--the unlikable character, the repeating of the days, the multiple deaths, the building romance--except Happy Death Day isn't nearly as funny (though it does have its moments), adds more horror elements, and, despite all efforts, the lead character never does become likable. 

And this dude(?) shows up

Aside from the Groundhog Day effect, this is a pretty standard PG-13 rated slasher film that doesn't really bring anything new to the table--except maybe the Universal logo intro at the start of the film, which is fantastic. An R rating would have done wonders for this movie--Tree (Jessica Rothe), the lead character, is so unlikable that seeing her repeatedly die horrible, violent, and bloody deaths would have been very pleasing, but instead, we get quick cutaways before almost every death blow to keep us in the PG-13 zone. Probably the most frustrating thing about the film is that it teases Tree getting progressively weaker every time she wakes up the next day, but this angle is inexplicably dropped and forgotten about at some point. The movie teases a very disappointing ending but then takes a nice little twist to recover--for a better ending, check out the bonus features, or, if you get it from Redbox and the disc teases an alternate ending only to tell you you have to purchase the movie to see this, check out the scene on YouTube. My girlfriend and I contemplated seeing this one in the theatre when it came out in October 2017--personally, I'm glad we saved the thirty bucks on tickets and snacks.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5


Happy Death Day Movie Trailer

Monday, January 29, 2018

MOTHRA VS GODZILLA (aka Godzilla vs The Thing) (aka Godzilla vs Mothra)

Mothra vs Godzilla Movie Review

After a typhoon crashes into the island, a giant egg washes ashore, and Japan's most infamous nemesis in unearthed.

"Who dares disrupt my sleep?!"

It's now up to Mothra, and her offspring to defend the peaceful Japanese folks from the giant menace. This one was originally released in Japan as Mothra vs Godzilla, but when it received the Americanization, it was retitled Godzilla vs The Thing, and later, Godzilla vs Mothra. As any fan of these old movies can tell you, Godzilla has bounced back and forth from being a bad guy, to a good guy, then back again, but Mothra has always stood firm as a protector of the people, and she sure shines as such here. If you're wondering how a giant moth could possible fight off Godzilla..well...lets just say those are some powerful wings Mothra possesses.

She's pretty big too

Outside the battles, we have Mothra's speakers, the twin fairies, warning the people of Japan that the egg must be protected, and basically people running around trying to figure out what to do--none of that is really important, because we all know we watch these movies to see the monsters, and they don't disappoint here. This is when Godzilla was still a full-blown bad guy, and his battles with Mothra, and later, the larvae that inevitably hatch from the egg, are pretty impressive, as is the destruction throughout. The dubbing isn't even too horrible in this movie, though you will get some of the ridiculousness you come to expect. While not the best of the bunch, Mothra vs Godzilla is a fine example of how entertaining these Toho films could be.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


Mothra Vs Godzilla Movie Trailer

Friday, January 26, 2018

THE OMEN (1976)

The Omen Movie Review

Robert Thorn (Hollywood legend Gregory Peck) and his wife Katherine (Lee Remick) are raising their son Damien (Harvey Spencer Stephens), but don't realize until it's too late their boy is the Antichrist--you'd think the name would be a clue, but I guess not. This 1976 movie is regarded as one of the greatest horror films of all time, and many consider it one of the most overrated horror flicks ever made--I am going to make an argument for both sides, or play Devil's advocate, if you will.

He likes what I did there

Proponents of this being one of the all-time greats will point out the unsettling story, the fact that a legend such as Peck came out of retirement to make the film, the masterful directing of Richard Donner, and these are all fine points, but my favorite things about this movie are the death scenes. Coming spread throughout the film, and starting with the famous hanging suicide, this movie has no shortage of memorable death scenes, and the brutality, without the benefit of a ton of gore, is surprising for its time and widespread release. On the flip side, there is a LOT to sit through to get to these scenes. Before I watched this movie (I had not seen it in many years), I asked my girlfriend if she wanted to watch it with me--she replied "No, it's too seventies for me". I didn't think a lot of it, and didn't ask what she meant by that, but watching this film, and thinking back to other films I've heard her comment on, I think I get it--much of this film plays out like a Hammer film--the English setting, the plodding pace, the questionable dialogue--and one can certainly understand how these elements can turn a viewer off. The movie had the potential to grab you by the throat and not let go, but instead you will find yourself drifting away a bit--shaving about twenty minutes off this one would have done wonders. Is The Omen one of the greatest horror films ever made? No, it's not. Is The Omen a good horror movie that is worth watching? No question. 


The Omen Movie Trailer

Thursday, January 18, 2018

THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Movie Review

A young man named Francis (Friedrich Feher) tells the story of how he and his fiancee Jane (Lil Dagover) survive the madman Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss) and his murderous, sleepwalking sidekick Cesare (Conrad Veidt). This 1920 German movie has been on my list of movies to watch for many years, but for whatever reason, I never got around to seeing it--having little else to do at work this afternoon, I decided the time had finally come, and my goodness, do I ever wish I had watched it many years ago. The term "ahead of its time" is used far too often in describing movies, but this film is the epitome of those words. The twists and turns are frequent and, at times, shocking, the ending is as mind-blowing and unexpected as anything else you will ever see, and the political themes would influence many films to come. As if all that isn't enough, many people consider this to be the first true horror film ever made--though, to me, it is more a psychological whodunit type movie than a horror flick, there are some truly terrifying scenes here.

Hold your breath

Visually, this movie is nothing short of stunning. The colors and shadows used certainly set the mood, and the background--actually, you can tell the film was shot on a small stage, and at times you think to yourself "this looks like somebody filmed a theatre performance", but once you accept that, you truly appreciate what is happening here--anyway, the backgrounds are painted beautifully and are so twisted (both literally and figuratively) they draw you into the film more than push you away from it. Speaking of visually stunning...


Jane

The movie is tragically just 74 minutes long, moves at a wonderful pace, and that ending--I REALLY want to talk about the ending, but I don't want to spoil it for anybody. Oh yeah, this is a silent film, and I know that's not everybody's cup of tea, but the accompanying music is fantastic and the dialogue shots are even really cool--even if you're not into silent films, give this one a shot. Honestly, there's not a whole lot not to like about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari--I recommend this to not just horror fans, but movie fans in general.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Complete Movie

ATTACK OF THE LEDERHOSEN ZOMBIES

Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies Movie Review

A professional snowboarder, his buddy, and his girlfriend get stranded in the mountains after a commercial filming goes wrong. The trio stumble across strangers in a small resort and soon, as the result of a chemical spill, zombies are on the loose. This weird 2016 Austrian film is a horror/comedy that leans very heavily on the latter--as I have said many times before, however, in order for a horror/comedy to work, the comedy part of it has to actually be funny, and very unfortunately, most of what we get in this film simply isn't. For every witty pun we get, we are thrown a few painfully unfunny moments. On the fortunate side, the movie is somewhat saved by the impressive visuals and over-the-top gore.

"Eye can't find my poles"

This movie proves that you can make a more visually appealing horror film with a shoestring budget than many in Hollywood make with many millions, and it's simply a matter of using practical effects instead of computer generation--the amount of gore and even some scenes may remind you of Dead Alive, but this movie doesn't come close to matching the awesomeness of that masterpiece, which I am realizing just now I have yet to review for this site--one of these days...anyway, Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies is a fun little film that you will watch once and forget about, and will ultimately be lost in the pool of many other similar movies.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies Movie Trailer (I wish the movie turned out as entertaining as the trailer is)

GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS!

Godzilla, King of the Monsters Movie Review

In 1954, the Japanese film Godzilla was released—this film introduced the world to, well, Godzilla, a sea creature that was sort of the result of nuclear attacks, and whose destruction of Tokyo kind of reflected the damage done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a result of atomic bombs near the end of World War 2–Godzilla, King of the Monsters! is almost that movie, but not quite. Essentially what happened was, in 1956, the original film got an Americanized makeover--about sixteen minutes from the original were cut, English dubbing was done, and new scenes, primarily featuring Raymond Burr of Perry Mason fame were shot, all in an attempt to make the film more appealing to the American audience--it worked. Godzilla, King of the Monsters! is the film most of us referred to as the "original" Godzilla movie growing up, and is the film that holds a special place in many of our hearts. If you are only familiar with the later Toho versions of Godzilla--ones where Godzilla has become a hero and even a comedy act--seeing the big guy here might be a bit shocking to you--there is no comedic nonsense, and instead of a hero, he is a destructive force, truly annihilating anything that gets in his path.

This plan doesn't work

Some reports state the Americanized version pulls back on the political overtones of the original, while others say this isn't the case at all--regardless, this version does, in fact, imply Godzilla is the result of H-bomb testing by the United States, an interesting story that vanishes after this film. As is customary with this genre, you have to have patience before seeing the monster completely unleashed, but this story moves along at a better pace than in many similar movies. Burr, who was typically a pretty good actor, really drags this movie down with a performance that is as wooden as any you will see--Burr simply seems uninterested in what he's doing here. The ending is also disappointing, but really, other than these couple things, there's not much not to like about this movie. If you're a fan of creature features, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! is a must-see.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8


Godzilla: King of the Monsters Movie Trailer

Thursday, January 11, 2018

THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE

The Autopsy of Jane Doe Movie Review

Father and son coroners Tommy (Brian Cox of Trick R Treat) and Austin (Emile Hirsch, Into The Wild) are puzzled when they try to figure out how a Jane Doe (Olwen Catherine Kelly) died, and the more they examine, the more horrific it gets. This one starts off with something most of us find rather unsettling--an autopsy--so right out of the gates this movie is creepy. For much of the film we see Jane Doe lying on the table, and get plenty of shots of her lifeless eyes, missing tongue, and torso split open--I'll spare you the pictures of any of this and instead present one of the few pictures of this movie I could find that isn't disturbing...

"You're getting soft, old man"

There are a few twists and turns along the way, but you will likely see the major spins coming. The acting here is decent, much of the dialogue is interesting, and the film moves along at a good pace. The major strength of the movie is in the sheer scare level--as if starting off with an autopsy wasn't enough to make you on edge, we are later introduced to themes involving claustrophobia, darkness, and the supernatural. The build up of the film is intense, and there are moments that are genuinely frightening, but unfortunately, the ending is somewhat disappointing--still, this has to be one of the finer films to fall under the IFC Midnight banners, and is a movie worth checking out.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


The Autopsy of Jane Doe Movie Trailer

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

THE SCAREHOUSE

The Scarehouse Movie Review

A house of sorority chicks prank a college dude by drugging him and taking embarrassing photos of him, but when he dies, two of the sister, Corey and Elaina (Sarah Booth and Kimberly-Sue Murray), are prosecuted and sent to prison. After being released, the two girls open a haunted house to seek revenge on the six sorority sisters who played an equal role in the crime but were not punished for it. Released in 2014, this Canadian horror flick has plenty of potential, but fails terribly in its delivery. The most glaring problem with the film is the setup of it--why did Corey and Elaina take such elaborate measures to seek out their revenge? Though the victims enter through an entirely different area of the building, there are still hundreds of potential witnesses in the same building--why?! Where did they get the money for this? The film goes down the torture porn road, but much of what we see is so far-fetched that it isn't interesting in the least.

Eye got nothing here

The acting is the second level of awfulness you will notice--actually, you will notice this fairly early on. Murray is a bore, and Booth's overacting is so bad it makes you uncomfortable. The dialogue is appallingly awful, and forget character development--there's little to the two main characters, the remaining sorority sisters are interchangeable parodies of themselves, and the few guys who show up in the film are essentially the same person. There are attempts at dark humor, but it is so poorly written and delivered that the attempts are futile. It's not until near the end of the film that anything even remotely interesting happens--there are a couple twists and turns that, while not good, seem genius compared to the rest of the movie. Take away the haunted house, improve the writing, and hire better actresses and you may have something in The Scarehouse--unfortunately, in reality we're stuck with a movie that floats just below the surface of mediocrity. 

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4


The Scarehouse Movie Trailer