Thursday, August 31, 2017

The 5th Kind (2017)

After a few days of streaming, I decided it was time to hit Family Video. Not knowing what would be there, I searched until I found something that caught my eye. That movie was the 2017indie flick The 5th Kind.

Plot/ Three best friends try to get 'internet famous' by filming their own survival show out in the woods. A weekend trip to accomplish this project turns deadly when a mysterious and foreign visitor ends up in their neck of the woods.

It has been a while since I sat down and watched a true piece of no-budget indie cinema, and I am glad that I did that tonight. While I am not going to sit here and say that The 5th Kind is a perfect film, but what was accomplished on the micro-budget was better than some of the bigger budgeted flicks I have watched over the years. Sure, the movie is dialog driven found footage without a tremendous amount of action or effects, but that worked within the confines of the short run time. The performances were uneven and the pace somewhat slowed, but those issues were expected. At least the idea was interesting and you could see what direction this one was moving in. Overall, it left me wanting more (of course, I am also a huge believer in the subject). In the end, are there better movies out there, absolutely; but this one is one that shows more than just potential. With a larger budget and an elongated script, this could be something even better.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Dead Zone (1983)

After last night, I wanted to watch something that was both older and entertaining. After some searching on my streaming services, I decided on the 1983 thriller The Dead Zone.

Plot/ Johnny Smith wakes from a coma due to a car accident, only to find he has lost five years of his life, and yet gained psychic powers. Foreseeing the future appears to be a gift at first, but ends up causing problems.

This movie often is overlooked when talking about David Cronenberg and his resume. Yet, this one may be one of his best films, albeit one that is nowhere close to being as graphic of some of his other films. Based on the novel by Stephen King, this one is definitely more of a thriller than straight horror film and it sits near the top of the King adaptations. Incredibly, this film holds up rather well considering its age and is a flick that is both atmospheric and enlightening. The performances are solid with Christopher Walken not only embracing his role, but also carrying the sadness of the part perfectly to add to the atmosphere. The entire cast works, the cinematography is outstanding, the soundtrack adds depth to the film, and the storyline is well constructed. Yes, there are some costuming elements that feel dated and the pacing is a touch slow, but for a thriller, neither of those do anything to damage the feel of the movie. In the end, I am not usually a fan of King adaptations, but this is a story that I loved when I read it, I loved the first time I saw the movie, and I still enjoy today. Plus, with it on Prime, it is a great movie to catch for free and feel a sense of dread.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told (1967)

There are times when I really want to watch something from the classic era of horror cinema and take a stab at something different. That was the case tonight when I picked the 1967 cult classic Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told (AKA Cannibal Orgy).

Plot/ A caretaker devotes himself to three demented siblings after their father's death.

This low budget Lon Chaney Jr. gem is quite different than what I would have imagined considering the era. A true cult classic, this one features a unique storyline that spans many taboo subjects including cannibalism, necrophilia, and inbreeding (as well as murder). The performances from the stellar cast, the cinematography, and the characterizations are all outstanding. Yes, there is some humor that may or may not have been intentional and there are a few directorial choices that seem a bit off, but those elements do not really damage the overall feel of the movie. In the end, this film is well worth finding and watching. Sure, it is a touch odd, but it is also an enjoyable 80 minutes of relaxation in a grim world.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Transhuman (2017)

Last night, I decided to spend my time focused on Twin Peaks: The Return, and I am glad that I did. This past episode was one of the most satisfying of the series and I can’t wait to see the final night. I did watch a couple flicks on Saturday and I have to finish those reviews. The first one is the 2017 low budget flick Transhuman.

Plot/ Transhuman follows a young journalist into the underbelly of a transhumanist cult, spanning generations leading back to the Nazi’s during World War II.

I picked this one up at Family Video on a whim, mostly because the combination of journalism and cults seem to go together nicely. Unfortunately, the synopsis was the best part of the film. Okay, the acting, the production values, and the scenery were not bad either, but those facets are wasted in the film. Unfortunately, the lack of depth within the storyline truly takes its toll, especially for those that do not quite understand the transhumanism movement. In case you don’t know, Transhumanism is an international intellectual movement that wants to alter humanity by using technologies to enhance intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. Actually, a pretty deep subject that was lost somewhere among the multiple flashbacks that overwhelm this film. In the end, this one really does nothing to make it likable and it is in no way memorable. Stay away from it at all cost.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Millennium (1989)

After watching the boy, I attempted to go back into Arthurian mythology, but I couldn’t sit through my low budget selection. Instead, I turned to some sci-fi from my formidable days, the 1989 time travel flick Millennium.

Plot/ An NTSB investigator seeking the cause of an airline disaster meets a warrior woman from 1000 years in the future. She replaces the people from airplanes before they crash with corpses with the same features.

Time travel movies can often be a mixed bag, and this one is no exception. A low budget sci-fi gem from the 1980s, this one actually has an interesting storyline and takes on time travel in an intriguing manner. The performances are solid, that cast is a fine mix, the scripting thought-out and layered, and for the era and budget, the effects are not that bad. Yes, there is some campiness and some of the elements are a touch over-the-top, the ending leaves a bit to be desired, and at one glance, you can tell the movie was shot in the 1980s, but those flaws do not bring the movie down. In the end, this is a good but not groundbreaking or memorable time travel film. Sure, it could have been better and the ending does hurt the overall feel, but for what it is, the movie is better than most of the low budget stuff that is forced upon us today.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Boy (2016)

With two of the daughters out at sleepovers last night, I let Jo pick a movie for our viewing pleasure. While at first, I hesitated, I eventually gave in and watched the 2016 mystery/thriller The Boy.

Plot/ An American nanny is shocked that her new English family's boy is actually a life-sized doll. After she violates a list of strict rules, disturbing events make her believe that the doll is really alive.

I had stayed away from this one for a while, but my daughter finally convinced me to rent it last night and I am glad that I did. While the beginning was somewhat predictable (exactly what I feared), those moments quickly faded and this one became something more than I expected. The performances were solid, the characters were actually developed, the cinematography was good, and the storyline actually allowed for some atmosphere to build throughout. Yes, I did predict the twist ending, but it was hidden well with only subtle hints dropped into the plot. Sure, there could have been more blood and gore, but for what this movie is, it worked really well. In the end, this was a solid movie to watch with the kids and would be a great addition to any type of Halloween party for kids. Maybe it isn’t intense enough for diehard horror fans, but sometimes even we need a break. Check it out.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Anomaly (2016)

I know I again took a break from the blog and that really isn’t something I should do. Unfortunately, I had to take some time away to deal with some things. Those are taken care of now and it is time to move toward my next review. After some thought, I decided on the 2016 mystery/thriller Anomaly.

Plot/ The terrifying story of a family that experienced the biggest demonic possession after moving into a house plagued by malicious spirits.

I rented this one at Family Video because the case and synopsis looked interesting. Unfortunately, those may be the highlights of this one. I have to say that I was extremely disappointed in the movie. While it seemed like there was some potential, it came nowhere close to meeting that level. Come to think of it, there were really no elements that made this one either memorable or worth watching. The performances, the script, the costuming, and the cinematography all ranged from mediocre to terrible. Plus, the predictability factor was so bad; I could almost narrate the story from the start. In the end, this one was bad and is really not worth watching. It is definitely a film that I suffered through, so you don’t have to. Stay away; stay far away.

Monday, August 21, 2017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

After making it through Alien: Covenant this weekend, I decided to change genres completely for my next flick. That movie is the 2017 action/adventure King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Plot/ Robbed of his birthright, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy - whether he likes it or not.

I can see why this is polarizing. On one hand, this is definitely not your traditional King Arthur movie, which would leave traditionalists up in arms. But, there are some interesting aspects that make it entertaining. Personally, I did enjoy the action sequences, the performances, and most of the effects. However, the lack of character development, the modern dialog, and the overall lack of Arthurian atmosphere did not do it for me. Was it a terrible movie? No, in fact, had it been made outside the King Arthur universe it would have likely received a better reception. In the end, if you like period pieces and can look past the idea that this is Arthur and Excalibur, then you may enjoy this one more than I did. Not a terrible movie, but not quite what I was expecting.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Alien: Covenant (2017)

I decided to take a couple days away from the blog to relax and to spend some time helping out a good cause by entering the dunk tank dressed as my favorite character Bert the Bird. That did not stop me from watching a couple movies. The first one that I am going to review from that group is the 2017 sci-fi entry Alien: Covenant.

Plot/ The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination and must attempt a harrowing escape.

I have always been a fan of the Alien universe and was looking forward to this installment. Unfortunately, for me, this one did not leave me wanting more as it felt extremely forced and less organic than some of the earlier films that made the franchise great. While it was not terrible, it just lacked the dark and foreboding atmosphere that saturated the earlier entries. Plus, the characters left nothing to be desired and were flat and predictable throughout. Even the Xenomorph and the effects lacked the feel and intensity of the source materials and the ending was expected. The cinematography and scenery worked, the performances were not terrible, and there was potential within the storyline to create something interesting, this one just missed the mark. Overall, it just did not hit home like the originals. In the end, I really wanted to like this film, but I couldn’t. Sure, it was not completely terrible or the worst sci-fi flick out there, but it just did not resonate in the same way that the original Alien films did.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Attack of the Monsters (1969)

As I said yesterday, I needed something mindless and turned to my 12 Creature Features set. Even after the first movie from the set I watched last night, I needed more. That is when I broke down and continued a Gamera marathon with Attack of the Monsters (AKA Gamera vs. Guiron) from1969.

Plot/ Aliens kidnap two children and take them to another planet for the purpose of getting knowledge from their brains, but Gamera follows and tries to rescue them.

So, I went down a Gamera rabbit hole last night and did not come out until I was two movies into it. Incredibly, this flick was even more ludicrous than the first one, but it was also quite entertaining and laughable. This entry had everything fans of this genre will appreciate including crazy monsters made from rubber suits, uneven audio dubbing, and a fascinating storyline that goes off in multiple directions when you least expect it. More of a kid-centric film than the tamest Godzilla entry, this schlockfest is both entertaining and comical, plus it features some decent acting and decent cinematography for what it is. Yes, all of those technical aspects could be considered flaws (and will be from those who didn’t grow up with these creatures), but they are part of the charm. In the end, while I did like Gammera the Invincible more, this one was rather entertaining and did a great job taking me back to my youth. If you are like me and a fan of 1960s monster driven schlock, give this one a shot. It is a blast and kept me entertained.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Gammera the Invincible (1966)

All right, I had planned to review a film that I rented at Family Video, however, that movie was even worse than some of my latest selections. Needing to clear my mind, I decided to head back into some of the schlockfests that came with my 12 Creature Features set, after some debate, I decided on the 1966 American release Gammera the Invincible.

Plot/ An atomic explosion awakens Gammera--a giant, fire-breathing turtle monster--from his millions of years of hibernation. Enraged at being roused from such a sound sleep, he takes it out on Tokyo.

Fans of no-budget monster flicks from the 1960s and 70s should already know what expect from this one; a lower budgeted Godzilla type flick full of cheese and schlock. In fact, this one offers that and more. Yes, there are the cheesy effects with a rubber suit and miniature cities, the storyline is unfathomable and hilarious, the dialog and dubbing while bad and uneven make this one extremely entertaining and laughable. Plus, the soundtrack is awesome and the Cold War tensions are perfect! Of course, for non-fans of this genre, they will say this is a miserable movie with very few redeemable qualities; to them, I say grab some popcorn and free your mind. In the end, technically, there are definitely many flaws, but then again, that was part of the charm of these movies when watching them on the Saturday morning creature features on a UHF channel. If you are from that generation, you should definitely agree with me on that. This one is easy to find in the bargain bins, find it and check it out.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Blessed Ones (2016)

Last night I made it through a couple of movies, but unfortunately, neither did anything more than help me pass time. The first one of those was the 2016 flick The Blessed Ones (AKA Polaris and The Divine Ones).

Plot/ The Blessed Ones shadows a tightly knit cult hiding in a remote desert enclave as they prepare for the impending apocalypse. Two dissenters try to escape through the vast desert wasteland as the cult embarks on a mass suicide pact.

When I read the synopsis of this one at Family Video, I was drawn in. Disturbed cults and serial killers are always great subjects to watch or write about. This low budget indie flick was an interesting film with a storyline that I thought explored many of the darker facets that exist within a cult. The problem is that the budget in no way helped bring what could have been an extremely entertaining and possibly surreal movie to life. Yes, there are some positive moments with solid cinematography and interesting concepts, but overall, the film felt disjointed, the scripting and performances uneven, and the pace felt predictable and forced, unfortunately, these flaws also left the film somewhat unmemorable and left me wanting more. In the end, while I loved the concept, it never really reached its potential. Yes, it has a few moments, but not enough to make it worth watching. Stay away.