Sunday, February 28, 2016

Extraordinary Tales (2013)

Having watched Crimson Peak last night, I needed something else to help me focus on my final script project for my film writing class. After some debate with the voices in my head, I decided to venture into the mind of Edgar Allan Poe with the 2013 animated adaption Extraordinary Tales.

Plot/ The film is an animation-accompanied narration of some excerpts of some of the short stories written by Edgar Allan Poe. The movie contains: The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell Tale Heart, The Facts In the Case Of M. Valdemar, The Pit and The Pendulum, and The Masque of the Red Death.

If you have read this blog, you should already know how I feel about Edgar Allen Poe. Not only was he a genius who set the stage for modern American horror, his influence on both the cinematic and literary community may never truly be matched. Unfortunately, some of his popularity has waned in recent years, as the rise of technology has reduced the amount of kids interested in the classics. While this may not be a perfect adaptation, it is an interesting journey into the mind of the master and some of his epic tales. Complete with a diverse animation backdrop, the segments range from great (The Pit & The Pendulum) to the uneven (The Tell-Tale Heart). Of course, the opinions will vary because of the different styles used. What made this even more intriguing is the group of actors used to bring it to life. Legends such as Roger Corman, Sir Christopher Lee, and Bela Lugosi, were joined by Julian Sands and Guillermo del Toro to create a movie that could easily serve as an introduction to Poe for a new generation of fans. In the end, this one will not be for everyone, but it is an entertaining journey into the macabre visions of a literary genius.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Crimson Peak (2015)

After taking the night off last night to relax and work on my script for class, it was time to get back to some horror and check out a flick that caught my eye some time ago. With a few hours in place and needing a break from scripting, I sat down to watch the 2015 gothic horror Crimson Peak.

Plot/ In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds - and remembers.

I had been waiting some time to see this flick, and was excited to see it finally sitting on the shelves at Family Video. As a fan of Guillermo del Toro, I love the way he is able to capture stunning visuals no matter the storyline. While this is not a perfect film, and at times feels forced and disjointed, there are many aspects that made it both intriguing and entertaining. The artistic characteristics are top notch, with an amazing combination of architecture, costumes, cinematography, and stylized visuals that were both dark and vibrant. Unfortunately, the characters and performances were uneven and the overall storyline was somewhat cliché and predictable. In the end, this may not be the best movie in the del Toro catalog, but it is not the worst. If you enjoy gothic dramas with a touch of horror, give it a shot.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Fury (1978)

Sometimes, I need to take a break and focus on homework and recovering from long days at the institute. The past couple days have been exactly what I needed, as I had excessively much going on. To get back in the swing of things, I decided to take a trip back in time for my next selection-the 1978 supernatural entry The Fury.

Plot/ A government agent is determined to come to his son's rescue when a sinister official kidnaps him to harbor his extremely powerful psychic abilities.

Sometimes it is fun to revisit the 1970s and the movies that helped shape the modern horror cinema. That was the case with this telekinesis/psychic thriller directed by Brian De Palma. This one definitely came with more blood, guts, and gore than Carrie, but it did not leave the same impact. This intriguing combination of horror, thriller, and even governmental espionage did have some outstanding effects, a solid cast with some decent performances, and some interesting ideas. Yes, there were some pacing issues, it feels a touch long, and some of the plot/characters tend to add confusion, but those do nothing to totally derail this underrated De Palma entry. In the end, it may not be the best flick from De Palma and at times, it feels dated, but it is still an interesting movie to watch and a film that should be seen. If you have not watched it, give it a shot, you could do much worse.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (2009)

Over the weekend, I took a few days away from the blog to focus on homework and writing the short film script that had kicked my butt over the week. Now, with a new week starting and my homework behind me, I decided to jump back in with the 2009 SyFy Channel entry Battlestar Galactica: The Plan.

Plot/ When the initial Cylon attack against the Twelve Colonies fails to achieve complete extermination of human life as planned, twin Number Ones (Cavils) embedded on Galactica and Caprica must improvise to destroy the human survivors.

After holding out for some time because I am a huge fan of the original series, I decided to venture into some of the newer Battlestar Galactica mythos with this entry. While I do understand that I may have to come back to this one after watching the series (and miniseries), I at least found this entry interesting with some outstanding performances and striking visuals. I will admit that I found some of the film disjointed and uneven. Of course, this could be from not watching any of the modern adaptations. In the end, this one is not my favorite entry, and does nothing to erase my memories of the classic Battlestar Galactica from my youth.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Crowley (2009)

With yesterday being my birthday, I decided to take a break from the computer after dinner. Yes, I did watch some more of Ash vs. Evil Dead and some homework, but other than that there was no writing or creative moments. Tonight was different, as I decided to find something a little darker than my recent entries. My selection for the evening was the 2009 entry Crowley (AKA Chemical Wedding).

Plot/ In 1947, noted Neo-Pagan Aleister Crowley dies. In Cambridge, 43 years later, with the help of a computer, Crowley's spirit takes over the body of Haddo, a mild-mannered, stuttering don. Over four days, as Crowley prepares for an occult extravaganza, bodies pile up, Crowley's elect engage in rites of passage, and Lia, a red-headed campus reporter, sniffs out a story that puts her in grave danger. Mathers, a scientist recently arrived from Cal Tech, may hold the key to her destiny.

It is funny, as Crowley (the man and his works) has come up in many conversations over the past week, so it was awesome to sit back and enjoy a movie with him and his works at the core. Yes, this movie will not be for everyone, and I am sure there will be many that are offended by some of the material, but that is to be expected will the subject matter. Personally, I enjoyed it tremendously, especially the mixture of Satanism and sadism sprinkled inside. As a low budget entry, there was a lot to like with an interesting storyline, some intriguing theories, and some decent performances. Yes, there were some confusing moments, the pace started in a slow manner, and some of the scripting was uneven, but again, for a low budget entry, it was not bad. In the end, this may not be for everyone, but if you sometimes enjoy a trip into the dark arts or some surrealistic worlds, give it a shot. You could do much worse.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)

After having an enjoyable birthday dinner last night, I decided to bypass the blog (and twitter) for most of the day today. But, that could only last for so long, and I decided that it was time to enjoy some type of sci-fi/horror flick for the evening. After some debate, I decided to breakdown and watch the 2004 entry AVP: Alien vs. Predator to see two of my favorite characters in action.

Plot/ During an archaeological expedition on Bouvetøya Island in Antarctica, a team of archaeologists and other scientists find themselves caught up in a battle between the two legends. Soon, the team realizes that only one species can win.

I have stayed away from this movie for some time because I had a feeling that I would be disappointed by the results. While I was not very disappointed, I was not overwhelmed either. In fact, while there were some positive aspects, I could not help but think that this could have been better if it would have pushed past the PG-13 threshold into an R category. I did enjoy the storyline, some of the visuals, and the cinematography and pacing, and felt it was really well done. Unfortunately, scripting was an issue where the characters felt flat and much of the dialog was beyond forgettable. In the end, this was not a terrible movie, it just did not move me as much as I expected. If you have not seen it and are a fan of the two franchises, give it a shot. However, unless you are looking for a flick to introduce a younger generation to these classic creatures, stay away.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Supernova (2000)

After spending yesterday tied up with homework, I decided that I needed a break today wanted to just watch something mindless. My selection for the evening was the 2000 Sci-Fi entry Supernova.

Plot/ When their vessel, the Nightingale 229, answers an emergency distress signal from a comet mining operation in a distant galaxy, the crew soon finds itself in danger from the mysterious young man they rescue, the alien artifact he's smuggled aboard, and the gravitational pull of a giant star about to supernova. The resulting explosion will be the most massive explosion in the universe.

Craving a Sci-Fi fix, Supernova was a movie that I did not ever remember seeing. Now, after watching it, I can understand why. Honestly, there is nothing remarkable or memorable inside this one. Yes, it is not all bad, as the storyline had promise, the performances were solid, and there was a touch of atmospheric tension throughout. Unfortunately, it was riddled with clichéd moments (I could almost see four different films as main influences), the scripting is all over with uneven dialog, and the visuals were flat and uninspiring. In the end, this was not a terrible movie, but unless you are a huge Sci-Fi fan, you will get nothing from watching it. Its up to you, but I think you could find something more entertaining.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Deep in the Darkness (2014)

After spending the afternoon watching my talented daughter Genesis perform at the West Virginia University high school honors band performance, I decided to sit back and watch some mindless creature feature as I dissected my homework assignments for the weekend. My next selection was the 2014 Chiller Films entry Deep in the Darkness.

Plot/ A doctor and his family move to a quiet, small town. Soon he discovers the town's dark secret: A terrifying race of controlling creatures that live in the darkness in the forest behind their home.

Sometimes you find movies that just keep popping up, and that was the case with this one. What I found was something I did not expect. A lowered budget creature feature, this movie did have some positive moments with some decent performances, some common sense, and a decent concept within a weird atmospheric premise. Unfortunately, it was also somewhat predictable, the creatures unveiled early, and it felt like it ran a touch long. In the end, this one came off better than I originally expected and did have a few entertaining moments. While it is not the best in the genre, it is also better than most low budget creature features that have overtaken the genre. Give it a shot; you could do worse.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Hollow (2015)

After enjoying The Veil last night, I decided that I wanted to venture toward something different. After some thought and intrigue, I decided on the other movie The Hollow, this one from 2015.

Plot/ It's Halloween eve on Shelter Island, and the small town is preparing for a killer storm. But the dark clouds gathering over the island are bringing with them a curse one hundred years in waiting. As the woods give birth to an ungodly and insatiable creature of fire, bones, and earth, three sisters must scramble to stay alive through the long dark night of the hollow.

While I had no expectations for this one, it was still difficult to watch and did not bring anything but cliché to the screen. Between the uneven acting, a riddled storyline that was both incoherent and unbelievable, and predictable and cheesy CGI effects, this movie really did nothing to make it feel redeeming. In fact, it was one of the first movies in some time that I just wanted to turn off and go to sleep. In the end, I cannot in any way recommend this movie to horror fans. Unless you are a giant fan of SyFy Channel creature features and have a bucket list to watch all of them, stay away!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Veil (2016)

Since the cold and snow outside led to the cancellation of bating practice for the Nightmares tonight, I was able to kick back and enjoy some early evening horror. After searching the Netflix, I decided to watch the 2016 cult driven entry The Veil.

Plot/ Twenty-five years after members of a religious cult committed mass suicide, the lone survivor returns to the scene of the tragedy with a documentary crew in tow.

When I sat down to watch this one, I expected it to be full of many of the clichéd moments that usually rise in cult based movies. While there were some clichéd aspects and the flick was somewhat predictable, there were also a few positives that I did not expect. This is an extremely atmospheric movie that has heavy and dark moments, with an interesting storyline, and a solid cast. Yes, there were some uneven performances, it was predictable, and some of the scientific aspects mentioned in the script felt out of place, but that did not truly bring the movie down. In the end, this was entertaining, and should definitely appeal to anyone fascinated by the cult culture. Not for everyone, but if you enjoy dark, cult driven movies, give it a shot.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Encounter (2015)

Last night I took a break from the blog so I could focus some on my upcoming script project for class. At this point, I am still struggling to solidify an idea, but believe I have it narrowed down. Tonight, I did want to get back at it, and my selection was the 2015 found footage entry The Encounter.

Plot/ What started as a simple camping trip in the mountains of Northern Arizona quickly descended into an amazing and terrifying story that is truly out of this world. As the sole survivor of this deadly close encounter, Collin must try to explain the unexplainable.

Found footage movies are often a mixed bag and really, no one knows what to expect until watching them. Unfortunately, that was definitely the case with this entry, which takes on an interesting topic in a rather clichéd manner. Yes, there are a few intriguing moments, which featured some atmosphere and suspense, along with some outstanding special effects and make-up. Other than those brief moments, much of the movie suffers from the typical ailments that plague low budget found footage entries, such as uneven characterization, jagged performances, rough dialog, and an overwhelming amount of repetitive/clichéd moments. In the end, this was a low budget entry that did not inspire or create anything memorable or groundbreaking. Plus, it is a found footage flick, which as a whole, is a genre that needs to disappear for a while. While it is not the best in the genre, I have experienced much worse on a larger scale with a bigger budget. Not for everyone, but if like me you enjoy supporting low budget cinema, give it a shot. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Lily Grace: A Witch Story (2015)

After taking a journey into the surreal with Star Leaf, I needed to watch something different. That selection was the 2015 low budget entry from Midnight Releasing, Lily Grace: A Witch Story.

Plot/ After the death of his estranged father, Ron returns to his childhood home. His first night there he is visited by a supernatural being. Haunted by feelings of guilt, convinced this entity has something to do with his father’s passing, he stays to uncover the truth behind the witch named Lily Grace.

When I grabbed this one, I was unsure of what to expect. What I found was something different that took a basic storyline and created a solid low budget entry. While it is not terrible, it is also not that memorable. Full of heavy atmosphere and subtle dialog, the movie is definitely an unconventional but simplistic journey into something dark. Unfortunately, it does suffer from some of the same elements that plague low budget cinema, with uneven performances, an underdeveloped plot, and an odd pacing structure that focused on characterization more than the horror elements that were set to come. In the end, this one will not be for everyone, but it is an interesting piece of storytelling that does help pass some time on a chilly evening.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Star Leaf (2015)

With the kids selecting another play of the horrid Poltergeist remake earlier, I needed something mindless to get that misery out of my mind. After some debate with the voices in my head, I decided on the 2015 sci-fi flick Star Leaf.

Plot/ Hikers find a secret grove of extra-terrestrial marijuana and must fight for their lives when they anger the otherworldly forces protecting the plants.

This flick is definitely a mixed bag for viewers. Not really a horror movie, not really a thriller, I guess it would have to sit inside the sci-fi arena, although that is a touch of a stretch as well. Honestly, it is a hard movie to classify. While the storyline was actually a entertaining with some trippy moments and aliens thrown in for good measure, it was far from a perfect film and was extremely uneven. The scripting was all over, the characters imbalanced, and the dramatic elements seemed a little forced at times. In the end, this movie was better than I expected, but it was nothing like I anticipated when I picked it up at Family Video. Not for everyone, this one will be an acquired taste, and a movie that will fit with the stoner crowd.