Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Krampus: The Reckoning (2015)

I cannot believe that tomorrow will be New Years Eve. Looking back, I sucked at keeping up with the blog this year as I battled school, work, and the daughters’ softball schedule. Maybe next year, I will do a better job. Since we are still in the holiday season, I decided to watch another seasonal horror flick, the 2015 no-budget entry, Krampus: The Reckoning.

Plot/ Zoe is a strange little girl, with a not so imaginary friend the Krampus who is the dark companion of kindly old St. Nicholas. The Krampus has been unleashed upon a small town and the legendary demon will seek out all the naughty people to punish them at Christmas time. No one is safe as the Krampus hunts them down, tortures them, and then drags their helpless souls to the depths of hell.

Knowing this was a low budget flick, I went into it expecting the majority of flaws that are usually abound in this arena, and of course, they were there. Even with that, I have to admit that I actually enjoyed the plot and storyline, which while it was sprinkled with some clichéd moments, flashed at least a touch of originality. Yes, it is far from a perfect movie, as there were some pacing issues, uneven performances, and some head scratching moments with the scripting/scenes, but as I alluded to earlier, those were expected, as they are usually present in low budget flicks. In the end, this may not be a great movie, but it is not as terrible as some may say. If you love no-budget horror cinema and can overlook some of the budgetary issues, you may find some late night holiday cheer.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Atticus Institute (2015)

While I was writing up my new theory on who, Supreme Leader Snoke is in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I needed something to help soothe my mind. To help me through this process, I decided to watch something different, the 2015 mockumentary, The Atticus Institute.

Plot/ In the fall of 1976, a small psychology lab in Pennsylvania became the unwitting home to the only government-confirmed case of possession. The U.S. military assumed control of the lab under orders of national security and, soon after, implemented measures aimed at arming the entity. The details of the inexplicable events that occurred are being made public after remaining classified for nearly forty years.

Found footage and mockumentary styled films are always hit and miss, and that is again the case with this one. While I loved the setting, the idea, and some of the cinematography and plot elements used, it did not come off as well as it started out. This had potential, especially with the governmental experiment ideas that were presented inside. Having grown up in that era, the rumored government experiments always drove conspiracy theories, and as we have discovered now (decades later) most of those conspiracies were true. Unfortunately, the movie never builds on the hypothetical theories it is built upon, and at times becomes extremely predictable and falls flat. In fact, I believe in this case, the mockumentary style is what derails this one (although the clichéd and overdone possession angles do not help either). In the end, there was really nothing new inside this one and it never builds a suspenseful atmosphere that will draw you in. Sure, it is not terrible, but it is also just average-not good for a movie in a flooded genre.

Could Supreme Leader Snoke actually be Luke Skywalker???

While I am not one that usually speculates on movies I watch, especially about characters or plot lines, I have become obsessed by an idea that came to mind after watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Being a huge fan of the franchise, especially the different storylines and the way they interconnect, this theory came to mind, as soon as I first saw one of the characters, and his actions.

Before I move any further, there may be some spoilers, although that is in no way my intentions. So, if you have not seen this one yet, move along, there is nothing to see here.

Who is Supreme Leader Snoke? Yes, there are theories out there that he is Darth Plagueis (who survived the attack from young Darth Sidious), Emperor Palpatine (who survived in Return of the Jedi), and some other crazy thoughts and theories. While my idea may not be as crazy as say Jar Jar Binks, I also believe that it could be an interesting twist that could make for an amazing run of movies. What if Supreme Leader Snoke is actually Luke Skywalker himself? Yes, yes, I know that may sound insane, but think about it for a second and there are parts of the storyline that bring this into focus.

It was clear at the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke was torn and he could have gone either way, even attempting to strike down the Emperor. What if that turmoil became too much and he regretted not assuming the position with his father to rule the galaxy as father and son.

Now, fast forward to The Force Awakens. Snoke is a hologram, and at this point, no one has seen him except in that form. Plus, he does have a scar on his forehead (wampa attack?). OK, maybe that is a stretch, but, when you start looking at the entire puzzle, it may not be as crazy as some think.

What do we know about Luke? He failed in building a Jedi academy and had a pupil turn to against him, a student with Skywalker blood flowing through his veins. Couple that with the fact that no one has seen Luke since Kylo turned Vader and killed the young Jedi at the academy (until the end), and there is a strange mystery building.

Here is where it gets interesting to me, what if he did that as part of his training to help take over the galaxy with Luke? Many of Kylo’s actions and statements would fit. His grandfather wanted to rule the galaxy with Luke (finish what you started?), and Kylo could make that happen when and if the Rebellion, or Resistance falls to the First Order. Of course, there is still the problem of Rey, her bloodline, and powers that could cause a problem with this theory, but that too can be somewhat explained.

What if Kylo saved Rey, to potentially add a future ally? If Obi-Wan was able to hide Leia from Darth Vader and the Emperor, would it not be possible for Rey to be “dead” to the world, her hidden Jedi abilities tucked away on an outlying planet? It could be possible, if not plausible especially when you think about how she was received by Han, Leia, and even Luke at the end. There was almost a touch of shock in their reactions, almost to the point where they were speechless.

Knowing that Rey would want to search for Luke, especially not understanding her powers, Kylo has set up the perfect training scenario for the dark side, and potentially provided Snoke/Luke with two apprentices that can search out and destroy the Resistance in the name of the First Order.

Of course, this is just my theory, and I am nothing but a fan with an active imagination and a love of the dark side. Please let me know what you think? I would love to hear some feedback.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Having watched the behind the scenes for the upcoming X-Files miniseries, I was already in a retro mood. When Jillian asked if she could watch The Silence of the Lambs, my night was made complete. So, for tonight’s review, I will touch on that classic, although, it needs no review.

Plot/ A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

Since Jillian wanted to watch this classic, I felt it was time to finally kick back and absorb all that this classic has to offer. Having watched it dozens of times since first seeing it in the theatre when it came out, it is one of my favorites, and a movie that never grows old. In fact, it may be one of the best horror/thrillers to ever grace the screen, definitely deserving all of the accolades it received when it was first released. The scripting was outstanding, the cinematography, direction, and vision of the film were spot on, the subtle changes in atmospheres, the performances, and the exploration of the complex relationship between Hannibal, and Clarice was amazing. In the end, this is one of the best movies, regardless of genre, I have ever watched and it has left a lasting imprint on me. This one has stood the test of time, and is a movie that every fan of horror or thrillers must watch at least once in their life. If you fit that description, and have not watched it, you are wrong. Find it, and watch it!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Nightbreed (1990)

After suffering through a miserable low budget flick last night, I wanted something different tonight that could help make-up for yesterdays wasted time. After some debate with myself, I decided to venture into the mind of one of my favorites, Clive Barker, and his 1990 cult classic Nightbreed.

Plot/ A troubled young man is drawn to a mythical place called Midian where a variety of monsters are hiding from humanity.

I know this may sound off, especially being a huge fan of Clive Barker, But I had not ventured into the world of Nightbreed until tonight. What I found was something more than I could have imagined. Like some of Barker’s other worlds, this one was fascinating, with outstanding make-up and effects, beautiful sets and design, some solid performances (especially David Cronenberg), and a tremendously dark and heavy atmospheric tone. Yes, some of the characterizations were uneven and there were many non-linear aspects that the passive viewer may find overwhelming, but those did nothing to take away from the overall feel and message of the film. In the end, if you have not seen it, what are you waiting for? This is a dark and beautiful flick that must be seen. Of course, it is not for everyone, but if you are a horror fan like me, you should LOVE it.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Spirit Stalkers (2012)

With the Christmas holiday behind us, it was time to move forward and get back to the blog. Needing something horror related, I decided to find something with a low budget indie feel, that movie, and my next review, is the 2012 entry Spirit Stalkers.

Plot/ The Spirit Stalkers reality show, once a big hit, faces cancellation without a ratings boost, which leads the investigative team to Gloria Talman, whose house is rampant with unexplained ghostly activity.

I am all for low budget horror, and was hoping that this one would be as good as some of the tags I saw on Twitter. Unfortunately, there was nothing scary or riveting inside this one and it came off as a bad behind the scenes of a ghost hunting reality show with some blood scattered throughout. Sure, the performances were not bad, the cinematic qualities were better than a lot of low budget films, and the ideologies portrayed with the paranormal investigations seemed realistic. However, there was not much else there to keep your attention. The effects were lacking (although with a low budget that was expected), and it was extremely predictable. In the end, there is nothing memorable here and in the end it will just mesh with the other low budget paranormal movies that have become all the rage in recent years.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

There is nothing like kicking back and having a scary movie night, especially when I do not have to get up for work in the morning. With that being said, it is also an awesome treat when I can find something holiday related, and that was the case tonight, as I decided on the 2015 Christmas themed anthology, A Christmas Horror Story.

Plot/ Interwoven stories that take place on Christmas Eve, as told by one festive radio host: A family brings home more than a Christmas tree, a student documentary becomes a living nightmare, a Christmas spirit terrorizes, Santa slays evil.

There is nothing better than horror movies centered in and on the Christmas holiday. Personally, I love watching some good horror this time of year, especially because I have some time off work and time to spend diving into some projects. This one is much better than I expected with just enough blood and gut splattered in with the four stories to make it fun. Plus, it has William Shatner playing a drunken radio host, what could be better. Yes, some of the dialog is awkward and the acting is uneven, but that does not truly destroy this one in any way. In the end, this may not be the best of the genre, but it is a decently intertwined anthology that makes for a solid Christmas horror flock. If you are in the mood for something darker this Christmas, give it a shot.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Exeter (2015)

After taking a few days off from the blog finishing up my final papers for my college class and recovering from the late night trip to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I decided it was time to jump back into the blog with something a touch darker. After searching for something, I decided on the 2015 exorcism themed flick Exeter.

Plot/ A group of teenagers accidentally release an evil spirit that starts to possess them one by one.

Let me start by saying that this one is nothing that has not crossed your screen before, especially if like me, you are a horror fanatic. Exeter AKA The Asylum AKA Backmask, is definitely riddled with clichéd moments and will feel very familiar, but it does have some interesting moments with an outstanding soundscape and some decent effects and the storyline, while riddled with clichéd moments, at least attempted to put a different spin on them. Unfortunately, the mixture of horror and comedy did not quite come off as well as some others in the genre. Couple that with some uneven performances and an extremely predictable ending, and you have a movie that will fall into the love it or hate it category. In the end, I loved the movie, as the overall feel of the movie was probably better than I expected with the amount of cliché moments. It is definitely not for everyone, but if you like exorcism flicks, you could do much work.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Infini (2015)

While I try to keep my excitement tempered as I prepare to check out Star Wars: The Force Awakens tomorrow, I was definitely in a Sci-Fi mood as I worked on some paperwork for school. To help quench my mood, I decided to check out the 2015 entry Infini, a darker flick from that genre.

Plot/ An elite 'search and rescue' team transport onto an off-world mining-facility to rescue Whit Carmichael, the lone survivor of a biological outbreak.

As I sat down to watch this one, I really had no expectations. What I found was something much better than I would have expected featuring a tremendously atmospheric and claustrophobic Sci-Fi flick that I wish I had watched earlier. This one has a lot to like, with outstanding sets, solid production values, enjoyable characters with decent performances, and a nice blend of special effects. Yes, the scripting was a touch wordy in spots and there were a few head scratching moments, but those were minor in comparison to the rest of the movie. In the end, this one is well worth watching and a movie that much better than some of the other Sci-Fi entries that populates the market. If you are a true fan of science fiction, give it a shot; you should enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Magic Sword (1962)

I was searching for something different after the indie time travel flick 41 last night, and different is definitely what I found. Wanting something with a crusades type feel, I stumbled upon the 1962 low budget entry The Magic Sword, and that is what I decided on for my next review.

Plot/ The son of a sorceress, armed with weapons, armor and six magically summoned knights, embarks on a quest to save a princess from a vengeful wizard.

I wanted something Medieval and that is what I got with this one. While by today’s standards, this B-movie would suffer greatly. However, if viewing it inside the prism of the era of filmmaking, one would find this an fascinating journey into fantasy with some interesting effects, vivid imagery, and a solid cast that took on the low budget entry and made it likely better than it should have been. Yes, the scripting and dialog are laughable at best, some of the plot is insane, and some of the performances were uneven, but those add something to the schlock or cheese factor of this film. In the end, this one may not be the greatest of the era, but it definitely had some intriguing moments that made it entertaining. This one is certainly not for everyone, but if you are searching for a low budget schlockfest from the 1960s, give it a shot!

Monday, December 14, 2015

41 (2012)

Having taken my final quiz in my class, I decided that I wanted to watch something with a medieval feel. While searching for something in that genre, I stumbled on a time travel flick that I had never heard of. While this film did not take me back to the era that I had hoped for, it was one of the better indie flicks that I have seen in some time. That movie, and my next review, is the 2012 low budget entry 41.

Plot/ A young man discovers a hole in the floor of a local motel that leads to yesterday.

When I stumbled upon this one, I had no idea what to anticipate. What I found was definitely different than what I would have expected, as this one did not play out like any of the typical time travel movies that I have come across. Personally, I love the subject, and believe that we today are living inside some type of time ripple, because that is the only thing that can explain the strange occurrences that are plaguing society. This is an excellent film, that features an intriguing storyline that is both layered and thought provoking, as well as some solid cinematography and a perfect soundtrack the creates an outstanding atmosphere. Yes, the dialog was uneven in spots and some of the scenes felt forced (especially the ones centered on the police), but those flaws were easily overlooked. In the end, this low budget flick was a joy to watch and a movie that should have definitely received more fanfare than it did. Check it out!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Visitant (2014)

After watching the Steelers beat the Bengals and keep their playoff hopes alive, and then finishing my freelance article assignment with a piece on Hollow Earth theory, I decided to kick back and watch something mindless. After some searching, I settled on the 2014 thriller, The Visitant.

Plot/ Samantha plays the role of a Fortune Teller, but she is a thorough skeptic about the paranormal and all things supernatural. One night alone in her house, she learns that there are dark forces that do not care whether she believes or not.

I am all for independent cinema, and I love when I stumble upon interesting movies within that realm. Unfortunately, this one was nothing that I had hoped for reading the description. The acting is uneven, pacing is off, the background music is overdone and excessively loud throughout, and the scripting is rather unoriginal and riddled with clichéd moments. Yes, there are a couple of creepy moments sprinkled inside and the cinematography is better than many movies that sit inside this realm, but those elements can do nothing to save this one. In the end, this movie is not memorable in any way, and does nothing to make it worth watching.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Frankenstein vs. The Mummy (2015)

This has been a long day. While the Nightmares first tournament at Thiel was a mixed bag and at times frustrating, the girls definitely got better as the day progressed and put up an outstanding battle with in the knockout round. With five hours of driving, and five hours of softball behind me, I needed a mindless break. After some searching, I settled on the 2015 monster flick, Frankenstein vs. The Mummy.

Plot/ The mummy of a cursed pharaoh and a reanimated corpse terrorize a medical university. Only an Egyptologist and a college professor, the deranged Dr. Frankenstein, may be able to stop the creatures before it is too late.

I honestly did not expect much from this one, and that is exactly what I got. Unfortunately, my selection for mindless horror was not a tight 90 minutes, and it was definitely longer than it should have been. Yes, there were some decent effects that were better than CGI and the quick mention of ancient alien theory was nice, but that was about it. The scripting and characters were flat, the horror sequences were not memorable, and the performances were average. In the end, this film is one that did help pass my evening, but it is also one that I will likely forget by the morning. Unless you have no other choices, you may want to pass on this one.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Frame (2014)

After spending some time playing umpire tonight at Nightmares practice, I was in the mood to just chill when I got home. To get my mind right, and possibly make some progress on my Diablo inspired contest entry, I decided on something a little more surrealistic for my next review with the 2014 entry, The Frame.

Plot/ Two strangers find their lives colliding in an impossible way. Alex is a methodical cargo thief working for a dangerous cartel. Sam is a determined paramedic trying to save the world while running from her past.

I had no idea what to expect when I found this one tonight, and what I found was actually a lot better and more surreal than I could have imagined when first turning it on. Yes, it did not have great pacing and was slower than I would have expected from the description, however, it is definitely an original storyline that transcends multiple genres. The cinematography is amazing, the storyline is solid, and the dreamlike atmosphere is tremendous. Yes, some of the performances may be uneven, and some of it may be difficult for everyone to follow/understand, but that dies not hurt this film in any way. In the end, this one may not be for everyone, but it is clearly a movie that should be seen, especially if you are a huge fan of surrealist movies. This one is a must see!