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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Lights Out (2016)



I am usually pretty good at buckling down around over the Halloween season. Unfortunately, this year I have been caught up with some of the stupidity that has made this one of the least fun seasons on record. When towns and stores are infringing on our rights as citizens to dress-up as common characters, there is a giant problem. Honestly, the amount of political correctness and attempts to sissify society is unbelievable. Next up for review is the 2016 ghost story, Lights Out!


Plot/ When her little brother, Martin, experiences the same events that once tested her sanity, Rebecca works to unlock the truth behind the terror, which brings her face to face with an entity that has an attachment to their mother, Sophie.


Personally, I have been having a hard time finding any type of ghost story that has been worth watching over the past few months. That changes with this one, as it was one of the best that I have seen in some time. There is so much to like about this one, with an interesting storyline (although a very basic premise), solid performances, and tight cinematography that marries every aspect of the film (visuals, sound, and tension). Yes, it is not a masterpiece and there are some predictable moments woven within the premise, but those are easily forgotten (especially with one of the best endings for a movie in some time). In the end, this is one of the better ghost story’s to come out in some time and a movie that would be perfect for Halloween. Check it out!


Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Da Vinci Code (2006)



After taking a few days off from the blog, I decided that I needed to spend some time catching up with some different movies. With that, I went on a retro type binge and watched a few movies that I had not seen in some time. The first of those is the controversial 2006 thriller The Da Vinci Code.  


Plot/ Professor Robert Langdon is in Paris on business when he's summoned to The Louvre. A dead body has been found, setting Langdon off on an adventure as he attempts to unravel an ancient code and uncover the greatest mystery of all time.


Being based on a huge best seller that just happens to be one of the most controversial books of the 2000s, there was no way that this movie could ever live up to the stir that was created when the book was released. As a movie, it is a fun, thought provoking watch that has just enough parts drama, thriller, and action film to draw every viewer in. The scripting is solid, the cast and performances are wonderful, and the cinematography and visuals pull everything together in a manner that makes everything flow together. Yes, there are some slower moments sprinkled into to the flow that were unnecessary and the long runtime, while needed, may turn some viewers off. 


Of course, one cannot talk about this as a book or movie without discussing the storyline. For many, this subject matter is taboo, and an impossible topic that has been thoroughly chastised as heresy by different religious sects of Christianity. However, from different research materials that exist on the topic, the subject matter does not seem that far outside the realm of possibilities. Could Christ have had a wife? Anthropologically, that answer is yes. Still, because of the documents sequestered inside the depths of the Vatican Vaults, we will never know for sure what the true story is unless the Pope decides to open those doors and allow all of the forbidden gospels to breathe. Honestly, if the Bible is a book of history, why is it being censored?


In the end, this movie has aged well and I actually enjoyed it more today than when I did upon its original release. If you have not seen it, it is a movie that you should check out. Just watch it with an open mind.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)



Last’s night’s debate was a strange, almost surreal watch. I honestly thought about entering it into the blog here at the Ringmaster’s Realm. Instead, I waited until tonight to both watch something new and make a new entry. What was my selection for the evening? I decided on the 2016 sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence.


Plot/ Two decades after the first Independence Day invasion, Earth is faced with a new extra-Solar threat. But will humanity’s new space defenses be enough?


I had heard that this was bad and waited for it to hit video, and, I am glad that I did. As much as I wanted this one to be good, I have to admit that I was completely underwhelmed and even more disappointed than I thought I would be. This one totally lacks the depths, the emotional connections, and the overall quality of the original. Everything just feels flat and disconnected, missing the moving elements that pulled the classic together. Yes, some of the performances are solid and characters work well together, and the CGI streamlines the scenes in an interesting way, but those elements really do nothing to help bring this one to life or strike a chord with the viewers. In the end, if you like movies that feel more like a sleek globalist propaganda piece than emotional Sci-Fi battle, you should check this one out. However, if you are looking for a quality action-filled Sci-Fi flick, look elsewhere.  


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Beta Test (2016)



After last night’s debacle with Sharkenstein, I had hoped that maybe my next selection would be better. Unfortunately, in some ways it may have been worse. What was that movie? It was the 2016 Sci-Fi/action flick Beta Test.


Plot/ Champion gamer Max Troy discovers events in a new video game are being mirrored in the real world, and must join forces with the game's protagonist, Orson Creed, to unravel the conspiracy before the game's sinister plot overwhelms the city.


This has definitely been a bad week for me with movie selection. Seriously, it feels like nothing I can throw on the television (except Darling) is worth watching. This one is bad, very bad. The acting ranges from poor to bad with cardboard characters and horrid/predictable dialog, the writing is all over the place, and the production values/cinematography is laughable at best. Although the movie is below SyFy Channel bad, the storyline did at least seem to have some promise when reading the synopsis, but other than that, there is really nothing that could make it memorable in any way, shape, or form. In the end, stay away from this one, it really is not worth your time.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Sharkenstein (2016)



After finishing American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson, I decided to jump back into some low budget horror tonight before diving back into AHS: Hotel. After doing that though, I quickly realized I made a mistake with my selection: 2016s Sharkenstein.


Plot/ In the final days of World War II, a secret experiment to weaponize sharks is shut down and destroyed by the Third Reich. But now 60 years later, a bloodthirsty, mysterious creature plagues a small ocean town, one built and reanimated using parts of the greatest killers to ever inhabit in the sea - the Sharkenstein monster!


While I expected this one to be bad, a small part of me held out hope that I was wrong. Unfortunately, my instincts were right, and this one quickly landed on the list as one of the worst films I have seen in some time. Actually, I would rate it beneath the presidential debates (which could be taken as horror/comedies from a certain perspective). There is really nothing redeemable in this film. The special effects range from bad to worse, the CGI horrible (I know it is an effect, but it is THAT bad), the scripting is flat, and the overall quality is just not there. Yes, I am a fan of no-budget horror, but this has nothing that I could immerse myself into to make it worthwhile. In the end, this is one of the worst shark films that I have seen, and would even be bad for a SyFy Channel original. Stay away, it is really not worth the 73 minutes that I took to watch it. However, if you do want to see something that is a true piece of independent horror cinema, check out THIS video from Project Veritas


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Darling (2015)



I had to take a couple days away from movies after suffering through Ghostbusters. Even my wife apologized at the end for picking it up, yes, it was that bad. Over this time, I decided to watch People vs. OJ Simpson (which is tremendous). For my next review though, I decided to watch something a little different, the 2015 horror/psychological thriller Darling.


Plot/ A lonely young woman descends into madness when she becomes the caretaker of a mysterious New York mansion that has a troubled past.


Before I dive into specifics, I have to say that this film is exactly what Hollywood should be producing instead of the overdone reboots and lame attempts at horror they are coming out with. Shot in black and white, this film has both a style and substance that pulls a viewer in. While it does build slowly, the cinematography allows the tension to build and grow throughout. The minimalist cast is tremendous and the performances fall perfectly within the storyline. Even the editing and soundtrack feel wholly immersed within the overall film. In the end, I am sure that this film will fall into the love/hate category as it may be too artsy for the hardcore gore fan. However, if you are into watching something different, especially viewing it with an open mind, than you should definitely enjoy this one. Check it out!


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016)



Sometimes movies do live up to their reputations (and not for the better). Of course, that is definitely something that movie watchers should determine on their own, and not always follow what different reviews say. That is what I tried to do with tonight’s entry: 2016s Ghostbusters.  


Plot/ Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.


As a huge fan of the original Ghostbusters, I had decided to wait until this one hit DVD to watch it. While I do think that this one does have some major flaws and there are many issues, it is far from the worst movie ever made. Besides the overuse of green screens and CGI that make the ghosts look subpar (even in comparison to the original from 1984), the writing does not do anything to add to the entertainment value of the film. There is no atmosphere or personality, and worst of all, it is extremely predictable, cardboard, and clichéd, which never allows the cast to fully connect with the audience. In the end, I wanted to like this one because of the interesting possibilities that could exist within the Ghostbusters mythos; unfortunately, the creative team attempted a reboot instead of a continuation of the potentially intriguing storylines that could have been explored in this universe and that decision failed. Not the worst movie ever made, but it is extremely disappointing.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sunless Sky - Flash Fiction



Something is clearly wrong; it has been weeks since the sun graced our skies. The once majestic kingdom in the clouds replaced by binding darkness, a forbidden black shroud drowning our life force. Yet, the heat inside this masked reality continues to rise. How is this heat is so overwhelming? Could Hell really be any worse?

I have no idea. All I know is that this is killing me, driving me to place even blacker then the dismay that extinguished our once beautiful skies. I know that I cannot endure this world much longer. I gasp for air, but the putrid pong of decay that surrounds me suffocates my every step. The blood, the bile, the intestines; it is clear that the sun was not enough for the evil that has risen from the pit. 

In the distance, I hear a call; the fallen ones again rise to prey on those of us that remain. The dark angel grows strong, and his reapers worse. His blade of sorrow steals another life and my faith shudders at his might. My soul mourns, as the merciless truth of my destiny becomes clear.

Thunder echoes in the distance. Dammit, they stole the lightning as well. I look back toward the Nephilim, as scarlet flows from the tears I cry. I can feel them burn through my entrails; my fate lay ahead. I can see my salvation and redemption inside the murky depths of his eyes. 

Alone, I bare my soul to the reaper. My pure heart shudders, as the tears cascade like a waterfall from my sunken eyes. I can feel warmth of the inferno radiate from his blade; my end is indeed at hand. The flaming gates open as his blade penetrates my soul. 

And the reaper laughs at my despair…

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Australiens (2014)



Now that I am finally trying to immerse myself in American Horror Story: Hotel, I figured it was time to catch up on some of the movies that I have skipped reviewing over the past few weeks. First up on that list is the 2014 no-budget horror flick, Australiens.


Plot/ Extra-terrestrials launch a nation-wide assault on Australia, much to the bafflement of the rest of the world.


If you have read my blog over the years, you would surely realize that I am a sucker for no-budget cinema and often am rather lenient when it comes to reviewing them. I usually look past the usual flaws held within them, and look at what could have been if the budget was larger. In this case, it is hard to see the overall potential of a movie when the storyline and scripting does not provide any type of excitement or interest. Billed as a Sci-Fi/Comedy, this one has almost no comedic elements, the performances are completely uneven, and there is nothing memorable about the movie in any way shape or form. While I see the budget is extremely small, it is still hard to see anything positive (maybe one scene with an interesting alien), and that is not usually the case from something Midnight Releasing is part of. In the end, this is a film that I would definitely stay away from; there are about a billion movies that are more entertaining.


Monday, October 10, 2016

The Funhouse Massacre (2015)



I was so turned off by The Levenger Tapes that forced myself to sit through the greatest reality train wreck ever: the second debate. What can I say; a debate between a psychopath and a sociopath (take your pick either candidate fits my diagnosis) gives more credence to the fact I think someone has created a butterfly effect. To help me recover from that, I decided to kick back and watch something mindless; just like the 2015 horror/comedy/slasher The Funhouse Massacre.


Plot/ Six of the world's scariest psychopaths escape from a local Asylum and proceed to unleash terror on the unsuspecting crowd of a Halloween Funhouse whose themed mazes are inspired by their various reigns of terror.


After my last review, I definitely needed something mindless, and this movie fit that bill perfectly. To me, there is something about movies that pay homage to the classic VHS B-movie craze of the 1980s that makes me want more. This one has a great mixture of comedic elements and gore, takes place with outstanding pace, and offers some solid performances scattered throughout. Sure, some of the scripting is uneven with jokes that range from bad to worse, there is a lack of originality in the kills (although there is a decent amount of blood), and there are the typical clichéd moments that plague a lot of lower budget films. In the end, this one is just a mindless, yet entertaining horror flick that offers an interesting plot. It is definitely fun to watch (especially if you are not hoping for a masterpiece).


Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Levenger Tapes (2013)



After watching House of Manson, I decided that I wanted to go in a different direction with my selection for the evening. After some thought, I settled on the 2013 found footage entry The Levenger Tapes that I found at Family Video.


Plot/ Detectives in a remote town pore through every frame of a troubling tape to find the whereabouts of three missing college students. The chilling footage becomes more and more disturbing when the students come upon the bloody dress of an 8-year-old girl in the secluded wilderness and take it upon themselves to find her.


After watching House of Manson, this one fell short and offered very little (even as a found footage types entry). In fact, this one does very little to build upon the found footage legacy and may be more proof that the subgenre has run its course. The performances of the minimalist cast are uneven at best, the storyline is cliché, vague, and offers very little excitement, and there are so many head scratching moments that it makes it difficult to watch. In the end, this one did nothing for me and was in no way memorable (unless you are a police officer and you reminisce about police work in the 1980s). I totally recommend that you stay away at all cost.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

House of Manson (2014)



As a huge history buff and a person that enjoys breaking down true crime documentaries, novels, and shows, there are two stories that truly captivate my mind and make me consume everything I can find. Those two subjects are Jack the Ripper and Charles Manson. Whenever I find something new, I have to watch it. That was again the case this weekend after I found the 2014 entry House of Manson (AKA Manson) at Family Video.


Plot/ An unflinching chronicle of Charles Manson, the ex-con who was able to amass a dedicated following of young people in the late 1960s. The era of peace and love was ultimately brought to its knees following his orchestration of the notorious Tate and LaBianca murders, which sent a shockwave throughout the USA and the world.


By now, everyone knows who Charles Manson is, and what he and his family perpetrated during their Helter Skelter rampage. This film, written and directed by Brandon Sagle, takes a different approach at looking at multiple aspects of the notorious cult leader and does it with a great mixture of action, crime, and horror. This one has many positive attributes including an authentic 1970s feel, solid cinematography, an outstanding cast with decent performances, good scripting, and offers an interesting perspective on one of the most infamous crime sprees in modern history. Yes, there may be a few choppy moments with pacing and editing, and there are a few disjointed moments when the sound quality does not flow smoothly within a scene, which adds to the overall unevenness of the technical aspects of the movie. However, those flaws are easily overlooked when one takes into consideration the smaller budget and views the movie from that prism. In the end, this movie is well worth watching and a film I totally recommend to fans of biopic/true crime/horror films. Sure, this one may not appeal to everyone and some may be turned off by the brutal realism, but to tell the story any differently would be a disservice to the truth. Find it and watch it!


Friday, October 7, 2016

Swiss Army Man (2016)



While I usually stick to horror movies in October, I decided to review something different last night. 2016 has been strange, and I expect that things will get weirder before the return back to normal. It makes me wonder if CERN has something to do with it. Talk about strange, that is my next review, 2016s Swiss Army Man.


Plot/ A hopeless man stranded on a deserted island befriends a dead body and together they go on a surreal journey to get home.


When I saw this trailer, I figured that it was going to be strange, but honestly, that was an understatement. This movie was even weirder than I could have imagined. This film will definitely either be loved or hated by those who watch it, because of the over the top uncouthness or bizarre overtones that keep you in the dark about the true intentions of the film. The performances, the scripting, and the cinematography are all solid, and there are enough surreal moments to keep you entertained. Of course, these surrealistic moments may turn some people off. Couple that with some of the disjointed moments toward the end of the film and the fact that it is not straightforward, and it is easy to see why some viewers could be turned off. In the end, if you want to watch something that is creative, weird, surreal, and makes you think, this movie is for you. It is quite entertaining.