Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Blade in the Dark (1983)

After spending a lot of time binging on a few different television series, I decided that it was time to take a look at something a touch older and in ways darker. That is when I stumbled on the 1983 giallo A Blade in the Dark in Shudder.

Plot/ A killer stalks a composer staying at a posh Tuscany villa while writing the score to a horror film which has an incriminating clue to the killer's identity.

To me, there is nothing more fun in cinema than sitting back and taking in a classic Italian giallo flick and that is what this Lamberto Bava entry is. This one has enough mystery and suspects to offer many different avenues for Bava to orchestrate the formula perfectly. While there are some flaws (which we will get to), it is the positives that make this one an entertaining watch.  The pacing is solid, the atmosphere dark, and heavy, the performances are decent, and the storyline is detailed and layered (plus, there is a decent amount of blood and gore). Sure, there are some head scratching and uneven moments, the body count is relatively low (up until the ending), and there are times where things do feel a touch rushed with the dubbed dialog, but those elements are easy to overlook when thinking about the entirety of the film. In the end, this is both an entertaining and finely crafted thriller that is a solid entry into the giallo archives. Sure, there are things that could be debated, but for me, I think it is a great entry in the Bava catalog and a movie that should be seen.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Mindhunter - Season One (2017)

After finishing my binge of Salem, I was drawn in by the idea of creating a true crime series off a nonfiction best seller. What I found was amazing, as the Netflix Original series Mindhunter is truly captivating.

Plot/ In the late 1970s, two FBI agents expand criminal science by delving into the psychology of murder and getting uneasily close to all-too-real monsters.

Having read Mindhunter when it came out, I was fascinated by the subject matter. When I found the show on Netflix, I had no idea what to expect, but what I found was better than I would have imagined. With a heavy atmosphere and dark storyline, the show comes across in much the same manner as the true crime serial killer entry Zodiac (a must see by the way). While the series does differ from many crime dramas, with little to no actual crime scene visits, the information and power of the dialog truly bring this true crime series to life. The series features solid characters that are perfectly captured by the outstanding cast and their performances, dark and detailed cinematography, and an amazing storyline. Yes, the pacing at times can feel uneven and there is little mystery involved in the overall plot, but those elements are easily overlooked. In the end, it appears that Netflix has hit another home run with this true crime drama. Mindhunter is a tremendous achievement and a show that demonstrates the power of storytelling in a truly educational psychological drama.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Salem - Season Three (2016)

With this being eight days into NaNoWriMo, I am spending time breaking down my own characters in my book. While my project is supernatural in nature, it is not a straight supernatural entry. With that in mind, I decided to binge watch the final season of Salem over the past couple days.

Plot/ The witches’ plan to remake the New World by bringing the Devil to earth and making Salem his capital, but the Devil is a liar, and instead of a New World free from murderous Puritan hypocrisy, his own plan will bring nothing but death and slavery with the ultimate aim of leading humanity to destroy itself. And there’s only one person on earth who can beat the devil — the very witch that birthed him, his mother, Mary Sibley — the only problem is she’s dead. Or is she?

In some ways, I am upset that I finished watching Salem and really think that I may have to break down and purchase it. In many ways, Season Three takes the series to an entirely different arena featuring an insane storyline the delved in many different and darker directions. In fact, the writers seemed to embrace ever taboo that was thought of and decided to bring them to life on the screen. In many ways, this season came across as a modern, almost more action-packed version of something that would have been perfected by Argento or Bava during their artistic peak. The cinematography, performances, practical special effects, and storyline are amazing, and the character development is brought to life perfectly by the cast (Marilyn Manson was crazy) and honestly, it was a shame to see the series end. Yes, there are still some dialog issues that felt out of place and too modern for the period and there were a few disjointed moments that felt out of place, but those issues are extremely minor and did not impact the overall feel of the series in any way. In the end, this was a series that left the air too soon and one that should be seen (especially now that it is available on the different streaming services). If you have finished Stranger Things and are in the mood for a darker more adult period piece, give this series a shot. You may be like me and become a huge fan.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Saw VI (2009)

After being disappointed by both Annabelle and Clowntergeist, I decided that it was time to finish what I started last week and write my last review from the Saw franchise. With that plan in place, here is the review of Saw VI from 2009.

Plot/ Agent Strahm is dead, and FBI agent Erickson draws nearer to Hoffman. Meanwhile, a pair of insurance executives finds themselves in another game set by Jigsaw.

I remember originally watching and now after watching it again, how much better this installment was than Saw V. This movie definitely channeled some of the power of the initial installments and created a movie that brought everything back to where it should have been. This one did make some needed changes to the formula and those were for the better. The performances were solid, the pacing felt perfect, the storyline featured a nice mixture of flashbacks and modern musings, and as usual, the traps were awesome. Yes, there were some uneven moments and the ending did not have quite the effect that the twist endings usually had, but those flaws are minor in comparison to some of the other flaws in the series. In the end, this entry was one of the better installments in the series and a film that must be seen by horror fans and those of the Saw franchise.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Clowntergeist (2017)

Last night when I picked up Annabelle, I also wanted some type of low budget horror. After walking through Family Video with Jo, she picked out the 2017 entry Clowntergeist.

Plot/ Emma, a college student with a crippling fear of clowns, must come face to face with her worst fear when an evil spirit in the body of a clown is summoned terrorizing the town she calls home.

As I have said on here many times, I am all for low-budget to no-budget horror and can usually look past the inherent flaws and find the potential that will exist inside a film. That was not quite the case with this one, as the production values and sound are actually the primary positives in this one. Unfortunately, the storyline is riddled with predictable and clichéd moments, the performances were beyond uneven, the clown was laughable at best, and nothing within the film makes works. In fact, it felt as if the writer used a cookie cutter to cut out and splice together parts from popular movies to make this one. Hell, even the title makes little sense after watching the film. In the end, if you are searching for a thought out low budget flick trying to capitalize on the IT popularity, then this one is for you. If you want something that is entertaining and will offer more than clichéd jump scares, fund something else. I am sure that there are plenty of options out there.