horror, movie, movie review

April 19th, 2018 Movie – The Vampire’s Night Orgy

the vampires night orgy

When it comes to the letter V, there is one thing you can always be sure of; a mass amount of vampire movies. That is just some common sense thinking since vampire starts with the letter V. Anyways, continuing with the vampire theme, today’s movie is one that comes from the Pure Terror box set. Now the title alone could make this seem like it is going to be some r-rated movie full of nudity, sex, and gore. However, having seen several of these foreign films from the 70’s over the years, I feel like it is a misleading title just to try and get more people to watch it. Let’s find out if I am right as I watch today’s movie, The Vampires Night Orgy.

The plot: During a funeral, the casket is being lowered into the ground but it ends up falling and breaking open and the onlookers quickly run from the smoldering, maggot filled corpse. Some time later, a group of workers are riding in a bus to an estate when the bus driver suddenly has a heart attack and dies. As some of the men take the body to the back of the bus and cover it, a little girl, Violet, goes playing on the side of the road and meets a strange young boy, who she tries talking too, but when she looks away for a moment, she discovers the boy disappeared. One of the workers wants to continue towards the estate in Bojoni but the others want to head to the nearby village of Tolnio to get some rest and help in dealing with the driver’s body. When they arrive in Tolnio, they find the town seemingly deserted except for a tourist named Luis, who was driving through the country in his new car. They all decide to stay the night in the inn but as midnight falls, one of the men, Ernesto, is woken up by the chiming clock and decides to step outside for a smoke. As he wanders around the village, he suddenly encounters the villagers, who swarm and attack him. The next morning, Alma is shocked to find a woman sitting on the bed she is sleeping in and the woman says that everyone else is eating breakfast. When she heads downstairs, she sits with Luis for breakfast and they are joined by a man called Major, who is the de facto mayor of the village. Major apologizes for nobody being in the village when they arrived, explaining that one of the villagers died and they were holding a ceremony at the cemetery to help see her on her journey. As they eat breakfast, one of the villagers pulls Major aside and whispers what they will do for lunch, as the people would want to eat some meat. Major says he will handle it, and has one of the villagers, Gigante, cut the leg off another man to use for the meal. After eating, Marcos is impatient to continue on to Bolina and complains about Ernesto not being there but Ernesto suddenly appears, looking as if he hasn’t slept. As they go to leave, both Luis’ car and their bus mysteriously have engine problems, preventing them from leaving. Marcos is furious that they can’t leave and Major offers to let them stay, as guests of the Countess. They go to see the Countess, who says it is no problem for them to stay, offering them more than enough money for the trouble, then asks if one of them would stay to keep her company. Cesar volunteers and as night falls, he ends up sleeping with the Countess. Later in the night, Cesar wakes up to discover the Countess is a vampire and he tries to get away but she catches him and bites him, drinking some of his blood, then tosses him outside to the other villagers, who quickly finish him off. Meanwhile, Ernesto has Marcos and Godo meet him at the bus, saying he fixed it, and when they enter, he reveals himself to be a vampire, and seals the bus as more villagers, who were hidden inside, reveal themselves and attack the two men. The next morning, Luis quickly grabs Alma as she heads downstairs and brings her into his room. She gets upset at first but he tells her about how he saw Ernesto lead Marcos and Godo onto the bus but they never left, and he heard strange sounds coming from it. He also says that he has seen no sign of Cesar since he stayed with the Countess and the bus is now missing. Meanwhile, Violet has found the boy she saw earlier and they decide to play hide and seek. As Violet ducks inside a house to hide, she sees Gigante come inside and asks the man to sharpen his axe, then tell him that the Countess says he can do his job with one arm, and proceeds to chase him down and chop off his arm. Later, Luis and Alma are sitting down for lunch, with Luis telling her to act normal. As Major joins them, Alma finds a finger in her food and starts screaming. Major quickly heads over to the inn’s owner and chastises him, then apologizes for the instance. Luis goes to check on his car and discovers it was sabotaged, then tells Alma he suspects Ernesto did it on purpose. He tells her they will leave and has her get ready, as they will take Raquel and Violet with them. Meanwhile, Raquel decides to explore the village, telling Violet not to leave the room, but the boy shows up and convinces Violet to come play with him. The pair end up at the cemetery and when the boy suddenly disappears again, Violet finds herself trapped inside. Meanwhile, Raquel makes her way back to the room only to find Violet missing and she goes looking for her. She encounters the Countess, who attempts to bite her, but Raquel manages to get away and heads back to her room, only to be attacked by Ernesto, Marcos, Godo, and Cesar. Later, the villagers all head into the cemetery and the boy tries to get Violet to hide, and puts his hand over her mouth to keep her quiet but accidentally smothers her to death. Upset at what he has done, he quickly buries her in the hole they had dug earlier but the now vampiric Raquel enters the cemetery and discovers Violet’s body and digs her out and takes her with her. Luis goes to get Alma and they quickly get into his car and as he starts it, Ernesto, Marcos, Godo, and Cesar attempts to stop him, jumping onto the car, but he quickly shakes them off. As they try to leave the town, they find themselves swarmed by the villagers, who try to attack the car and get to them but Luis is finally able to smash through the villagers and their barricade and escape. As they drive away, the Countess appears in the back seat and attempts to attack them but Luis hands Alma a shard of wood from the broken barricade and she uses it to stab the Countess, killing her. As they head to Bolina, Luis says they need the body to prove what happened but when Alma looks back, she finds nothing but a pile of maggots in the back. The reach Bolina and head to the police, but the police chief tells them that there is no village where they says they were. The chief takes them back there and they find all traces of the village gone and Luis and Alma are at a loss to explain what happened but as they drive away, the bus is seen hidden away on the side of the road.

Yep, this is what I thought. A misleading title to get people to try and watch it. Now, I have to admit that this movie is pretty weak. It’s hard to tell about the acting, due to the dubbing in this movie, but overall, I would say it was average at best. The story was honestly a mess, as they never really did a good job explaining what was happening in the movie. I mean, they didn’t explain how the vampires were able to move during the day, and I have no idea what was up with the boy that befriended Violet or how the Countess worked into the whole story. The one aspect that really seemed weird, and creepy, was when Luis discovered a hole in his wardrobe that looked into the room Alma was staying in, so he would watch her change clothes and get dressed all the time, then profess his love for her. IT honestly felt kind of stalkerish. The special effects were no existent in this and the make up to make the people look different when they revealed they were vampires honestly made them look stupid. The other thing I didn’t like was that they made the vampires act more like zombies in some aspects, such as their movements. Truth be told, this is probably one of those movies I would recommend skipping unless you are on a quest to watch every horror or vampire movie.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

adventure, animation, fantasy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

April 18th, 2018 Movie – Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

vampire hunter d bloodlust

About the time that I picked up Vampire Hunter D on DVD, I learned that a sequel had been filmed and was to be released soon. Well, this was something that immediately piqued my interest and I made plans to buy it as soon as it came out. When it did come out, I happened to be on a weekend trip to Savannah but I still went to the local Best Buy and picked up a copy to watch. I was not disappointed in the least in this movie and enjoyed every second of it. So let’s get on with today’s movie, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.

The plot: Late one night, the vampire lord Meier Link drives his carriage through a city, causing all the crucifixes in the town to be twisted and ruined. The carriage stops at one house and Meier heads inside and grabs a young woman, Charlotte, carrying her away with him. Some time later, D arrives at a meeting with Charlotte’s brother Alan and her father John, as well as several armed men with their guns drawn on D. Alan offers D a down payment of $500,000 with a finished reward of $10 million for the safe return of Charlotte but warns that they also hired the Marcus brothers, a group of vampire hunters, to do the mission. When D asks what should happen if Charlotte is already turned, Alan says he has to get her before that happens but John tells D to kill her as humanely as possible if that is the case, doubling the reward so long as D brings proof, one way or the other. That night, the Marcus Brothers (Borgoth, Nolt, Kyle, Grove, and a female hunter Leila) arrive at a small town searching for signs of Meier and Charlotte only to discover that the entire population has been turned into zombies/ghouls. They attempt to drive through but when some of the villagers pull a giant crucifix down to block the road, Borgoth, Nolt, Kyle, and Leila head out of their armored transport to kill the swarming villagers. After killing the last of them, they hear the sound of approaching hoofbeats and Borgoth fires a crossbow bolt at where the rider should appear but D manages to snatch the bolt out of the air and break it. Borgoth applauds the feat and attempts to get D to join them but D simply rides off and Leila grabs a mechanical unicycle and follows after him. Coming to the desert, D allows the symbiote in his left hand to examine the tracks, then makes his way across a school of sand mantas to continue after Meier. The eventually reach a vampire resting house and the Symbiote says he can see two people inside but before they are able to locate the door, they are distracted by the arrival of Leila. Leila makes her way past the resting house’s defenses and rides up the resting house, just as the door opens and Meier drives the carriage from the resting house. Leila fires a shot at Meier but he is able to deflect the shell and send the shrapnel back towards her, which hits her in the chest and sends her crashing to the ground. D manages to drop onto the carriage as it enters a tunnel and faces off with Meier, who tells D that Charlotte is there by choice. As the two face off against each other, Charlotte cries out Meier’s name when it appears D has the upper hand, distracting D long enough for Meier to knock him from the carriage. D questions if Meier was telling the truth and heads back to his horse. As he goes to leave, he hears the wounded Leila call out for her mother and, despite the symbiote’s protests, stops to tend to Leila’s injury. When Leila regains consciousness, she questions why D did that as he leaves her, just as Borgoth and the others show up. The Marcus Brothers make their way towards the Barbarois, a territory full of mutants that are used by vampires as mercenaries and bodyguards, as Borgoth suspects Meier is heading there. When they spot the carriage in a clearing, Borgoth, Nolt, and Kyle head out to investigate only to discover it is a cloth decoy. Suddenly, they hear the sound of laughter and the Barbarois known as Benge, someone who can manipulate shadows, taunts them. Benge, creeping out of the shadows on the ground, stabs the shadow of Nolt, who cries out in pain and, seeing Benge jumping towards a cliff, swings his massive hammer at him. When Borgoth and Kyle ask what is going on, Nolt warns them to be careful of the shadows, just before he dies from the wound Benge gave him. D reaches the lair of the Barbarois and meets with their leader, an small old man on a unicycle. D asks that the Barbarois stop their protection of Meier and the Old Man says that the Barbarois have been serving the vampires for 5000 years and are not ready to break their record, though the Old Man adds they might be inclined to do so for D. When D comments about the fairness of having him face all of the Barbarois, Benge comments from the carriage, where he, Caroline, and Machira are sitting, and says he can face them. Meanwhile, Kyle is watching the meeting from a cliff while Leila monitors Grove’s vital signs as Borgoth gives him an injection, allowing Grove to send his astral self out to attack the Barbarois. Firing beams of energy, Grove’s astral form is able to kill several of the Barbarois but his beams have no affect on Benge, who simply absorbs them. Meanwhile, D chases after the carriage, slicing Grove’s astral form in half when it tries to stop him and the pieces return to Grove, who gasps out for breath at the experience. As D follows after the carriage but ends up getting caught in Benge’s shadow trap, which kills D’s horse before absorbing D. The Marcus Brothers chase after the carriage and Kyle fires a bazooka at it, knocking Caroline from the back. As their transport runs her down, Caroline manages to grab onto the undercarriage and uses her elemental shifting powers to send metalloic spikes through the transport, causing Borgoth to crash. Leaving Benge to deal with them, Caroline rejoins Machira while Borgoth, Kyle, and Leila check on each other. In the shadow trap, D has the symbiote dispel the spell so D can free himself, which distracts Benge. Benge goes to attack Kyle when Borgoth, remembering Nolt’s warning, fires several bolts into the nearby shadows, eventually hitting Benge and allowing Kyle to kill him as he tries to escape. Kyle and Leila go to get some fuel for their transport while Borgoth makes repairs and as they finish, they see D approaching the town. Leila sends Kyle back to Borgoth while she stays behind and tells the local sheriff about D. D heads to the town’s stable and buys a new horse from the stable owner but as D saddles the horse, the sheriff and some men show up and tell D to leave without the horse. The owner argues with the sheriff and tells him about how years ago, vampires kidnapped 10 children and a dhampir hunter managed to rescue them but was then run out of town by the townspeople. The owner then reveals that he was one of the kids and recognized D as the one who had saved them and holds the sheriff at bay so D can ride off. The carriage is stopped at a lake so the horses can rest and get water and Charlotte exits the carriage so she can enjoy the sun. D approaches her and Charlotte tells him that she is in love with Meier and as they argue, Leila appears and smacks Charlotte. Leila pulls her gun on D and tells him to keep back but D draws his sword and shouts a warning to Leila, just as Caroline attacks her and knocks her down. D faces off against Caroline but begins suffering from heat syndrome for being out in the sun too long. He finally manages to cut Caroline into pieces but as he works to dig himself a hole to heal himself, Caroline’s head is shown to still be alive. Leila observes D and when she is contacted by Borgoth, she tells him where the carriage is heading but lies about seeing D. As D rests, Leila is attacked by Caroline and Leila throws a knife into her head, which has no affect on her but when lightning starts to strike, the knife serves as a lightning rod and kills Caroline. Leila takes shelter from the rain in the same grove that D is in and starts talking to him, revealing that her mother was kidnapped and turned by a vampire, which is what led her to becoming a hunter. She says she worries about no one remembering her when she is gone and says they should make a pact to put flowers on the others grave if they survive. D agrees to do so and when she asks why he would do that, D says that because he is a dhampir, he doesn’t have the opportunity for a normal life like she could have. Borgoth and Kyle ambush the carriage on a bridge, with Borgoth shooting Machira off the bridge when he tries to stop them. Kyle grabs Charlotte from the carriage and as she struggles with them, they are all shocked to see Meier emerge from the carriage and head towards them. As Meier begins to smolder and catch fire, Borgoth shoots him in the shoulder and knees, taunting him and increasing the agony he is feeling. As Leila watches all of this from afar, Charlotte manages to get free of Kyle and rushes forward to embrace Meier, then pulls out one of the bolts and says she will kill herself so she doesn’t have to live without Meier. Kyle goes to grab Charlotte but is killed by Machira, who has turned into his werewolf form, and Borgoth is wounded and goes to detonate the charges in the bridge only to discover that Machira removed them and placed them in the river below. Machira helps Charlotte and Meier back into the carriage and drives off towards the Castle of Chaythe, home of the vampire Countess Carmilla. Sensing D’s approach, Machira leaves the carriage on it’s course and goes to delay him but is easily killed. At the castle, Carmilla greets Meier and Charlotte and says she is happy for their love, then shows them the rocket that will take them to the City in the Stars, a vampiric refuge on an orbiting satellite, though she isn’t sure if the rocket will still fly. As she shows them to their room, Charlotte tells Meier she wants him to turn her but he refuses, saying she doesn’t know what she is asking. Meier heads out, as he senses D nearby, but when he locates D, he is shocked to find that D has Charlotte with him. D says that Charlotte wants to go back and as Meier approaches in disbelief, an axe from one of the suits of armor suddenly cuts him in half and as he falls, it is revealed that D and Charlotte were merely an illusion cast by Carmilla. Meanwhile, D enters the castle and is soon confronted by Carmilla’s ghost, who says she loved D’s father and that he reminds her of him. Borgoth, Leila, and Grove arrive at the castle and despite Grove saying they should leave, Borgoth and Leila enter the castle and separate to find Charlotte. Borgoth sees two coffins flying towards him and shoots them but sees Kyle and Nolt emerging from them, distracting him long enough to be killed by his own crossbow bolts. Leila is confronted by an illusion of her younger self kneeling by the grave of her mother and Leila tries to comfort the little girl. D is able to dispel the illusion he is met by, then saves Leila from being killed but he is shot by Borgoth, who has been turned by Carmilla. Borgoth grabs Leila and threatens to kill Leila unless D drops his sword but he is attacked by Grove, who had injected himself with the drug, and uses the last of his life to kill Borgoth and save Leila. Meanwhile, Charlotte approaches an illusion of Meier, who embraces and bites her, then drops her to the ground. Charlotte’s blood runs across the ground and merges with Carmilla’s corpse, allowing her to start to revive but D fights with her ghost and manages to slay it, while a revived Meier destroys her corpse before it can reach Charlotte. As the symbiote absorbs the last of Carmilla’s spirit, Meier approaches Charlotte and holds her as she dies in his arms. As the castle begins crumbling around them, Meier moves to take Charlotte with him to the rocket but D stops him, saying he needs to return the body to her family. As the two begin fighting, Leila approaches Charlotte’s body and, having grown tired of all the fighting and death, takes the ring from Charlotte’s finger and tosses it to the ground. D gets the upper hand on Meier and stabs him, missing his heart. When Meier questions why, D picks up the ring and says that Charlotte is dead and the ring will serve as proof of her death. D leaves, with Leila following after him while Meier takes Chalotte’s body and boards the rocket. Outside, Leila asks D for a lift into town, joking that the reward should be hers since she grabbed the ring first, but as she goes to mount onto the horse, she stops to watch the rocket blasting into space, willing it to make it. Some time later, a funeral is held and a little girl spots D observing from the shade of a tree on a nearby hilltop. The girl approaches D and asks if she is here for her grandmother Leila’s funeral and when D turns to her, she recognizes him from her grandmother’s stories. She invites D to their home for dinner but D declines, saying he was merely there to keep a promise to his friend and is happy to see that she was wrong about not being missed. The little girl is sad that D won’t come for dinner but thanks him for coming to the funeral and D smiles at the girl before riding off.

This is definitely a worthy sequel to the original movie and a great movie in it’s own right. The voice acting was pretty good, with several known actors and voice actors being attached to the film. The story was interesting, adding a touch more sci-fi elements to it, primarily the rocket ships and vampiric cities in orbit around the planet, than in the original. I will say that there were some changes from the novel this was based on but some of them were definitely for the better, as there was some rape involved in the novel that was rather disturbing, not like any sort of rape isn’t disturbing on it’s own. The animation was great and had a much more gothic style to it than the original that really helped give the movie more of a fantasy/horror feel to it. It also felt like the character designs fit more with some of the original artwork used in the novels, which was pretty great on it’s own. A great movie and definitely something that is worth giving a shot.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

adventure, animation, fantasy, horror, movie, movie review

April 17th, 2018 Movie – Vampire Hunter D

vampire hunter d

The last of the three movies that really got my love of anime going. Years ago, when I first saw this movie, I thought it was great and had managed to set my VCR (yep, it was that long ago) to record the replay of it later that night. I was happy watching that recording for a while until I found a video store that rented and sold anime, at which point I ended up buying a copy. I probably watched that tape hundreds of times over the years before I bought it on DVD, and probably watched it just as many times since. Now let’s see if today’s movie, Vampire Hunter D, holds up or if I am simply looking at things through some fond memories.

The plot: In the distant future, nuclear war has ravaged the world and humanity has begun to rebuild itself but must deal with the rise of mutants and monsters that have started ravaging the planet. One night, a young woman named Doris Lang is out hunting a creature and believes she has killed it, only for it to rear up and attack her horse. Doris uses an electric whip to get it off her horse and finally kills it only for a werewolf to show up and grab her horse and run off. As Doris recovers from the shock, she sees the vampire Count Magnus Lee hovering in the air above her and she tries to defend herself but Lee easily deflects the bolts from her gun and, claiming she is trespassing on his land, attacks her. Some days later, a sword carrying man known only as D is riding his cyborg horse towards town when he is confronted by Doris. Doris asks D if he is a hunter, attacking him with her whip when he doesn’t answer, but D simply shrugs off her attack and continues on his way. Doris calls out to him and apologizes for attacking him, recognizing that D is most likely a vampire hunter and asks to hire him, showing him where Lee bit her. D approaches and examines the wound, then asks when she was bit and Doris happily asks if he will help her. Doris takes D to her home, where her younger brother Dan helps him stable his horse and starts taking a liking to the hunter. The next day, Doris, Dan, and D ride into town, where they are confronted by Greco, the mayor’s son, who asks to speak to Doris in private. When they head into an alley, Greco tells Doris that he knows she was bitten by Lee and says she should have told him, as he could have hired some vampire hunters to take care of him, and she could find some way to pay him back. When Greco tries to kiss her, Doris quickly punches him, telling him she would never accept any favors from him and when he continues to try and kiss her, she uses her whip to disarm him and trip him up. Doris heads back to Dan and D but Greco, feeling his pride has been slighted by her refusing him, follows her and proceeds to shout out to the town that Doris was bitten. In a meeting with the mayor, sheriff, Greco, and Dr. Fehring, D confirms that he is a vampire hunter hired by Doris. The mayor wants to confine Doris to an asylum outside of town but Dr. Fehring argues against it, as the last time Lee had bitten a young girl and they confined her there, Lee attacked and killed 31 villagers in retaliation and the girl committed suicide. D says that killing Lee will cure Doris and she won’t be a threat to anyone else and when the mayor asks for assurance that he can kill him, Doris says she will leave the village if he fails and Dan says he will go with her. Later, Doris and Fehring attempt to buy some supplies for Doris but the shopkeeper refuses to sell to her, as he fears no one will buy from his store if he does. Meanwhile, Dan is crying over everything that is happening and D tells him it is ok to cry but Doris will need him to stay strong and help keep her spirits up while they deal with this. That night, as D examines a sword that is hanging on the wall of Doris’ house, a voice is heard chastising D’s odd behavior and mockingly asks D if he is in love with Doris. Doris comes downstairs and seeing D with the sword, tells him it belonged to her father, who was a werewolf hunter. Doris asks D about vampires and D says that Lee will probably come to get her tonight, as the next night is a sanguine moon, which vampires feel makes women’s blood unclean. He asks Doris about Lee and she says that he is over 5000 years old and D remarks that old ones like him are very powerful, almost invincible. Sensing Lee’s minions approaching, D dons his hat and sword, then removes the glove from his left hand, revealing a face in the hand’s palm, and D touches Doris with his hand, placing her in a deep sleep. As a werewolf destroys some of the crucifixes outside the house, Lee’s daughter, Lamika and one of Lee’s mutants, Rei Ginsei, approach and Rei uses his curved blade to take out the rest. D shuts down the barrier and leaves the house to confront the two, telling them he has no quarrel with them and only wants to deal with the count. Rei attacks D, who easily overpowers him so Rei uses his curved blade, throwing it at D. D deflects the blade back towards Rei and follows it, intending to finish him off, but when Rei grabs his blade and uses it to deflect D’s thrust into his stomach, D is surprised to find his sword actually goes through his own stomach. As D withdraws his sword and collapses to one knee in pain, he says he had heard of a mutant that could warp space around him. Rei laughs and moves in to finish off D but D stops him, revealing his wound to be healing. Lamika recognizes D as a dhampir, a vampire half-breed, and wants to kill him herself but D is easily able to deflect her attack back towards them and gives them a message for the Lee. Back at his castle, Lee finds himself intrigued by the appearance of D, as Rei and Lamika should have easily been able to kill him. The next day, D heads out to the castle to confront Lee during the day, making his way past Gimlet, a winged mutant with blades on his ankles and wrists, and Golem, a towering mutant that throws explosive rocks at his foes. Entering a corridor, D is attacked by a spirit beast but he manages to avoid serious injury and bursts through the wall to confront Rei and the Old Witch that controls the spirit beast. Rei says he would like to kill him but Lee ordered D to be sent elsewhere and springs a trap, plunging D down into the catacombs underneath the castle. The symbiote in D’s hand mocks him for falling into the trap as D makes his way through the catacombs and encounters the Snake Women of Midwich, who manage to ensnare D and plan on draining his life force. Back at the ranch, Fehring is checking in on Doris and warns her about falling in love with D when they are attacked by Rei, Golem, Gimlet, and Chullah, a small, hunchbacked mutant with spiders living in his back. Rei plans on having his men kill Dan and Fehring but when Doris threatens to bite off her tongue and bleed to death unless they release them, Rei relents and orders them to let them go. At the castle, Lee confronts Doris and shows her images of D, revealing that he is a dhampir, and Doris is shocked by the news but begs Lee to spare him. Lee considers it, then renders Doris unconscious so she will be rested for their wedding the next day. Back in the catacombs, the Snake Women continue draining D’s life force but he suddenly bares his fangs and proceeds to bite into them, regaining his strength before killing them. Lamika goes to the room Doris is in, intending to kill her so she won’t marry her father but D arrives and stops her, the grabs Doris. D makes his way out of the castle, killing Chullah, the old witch, and Golem when they try to stop him. Rei and Gimlet follow him but Rei accidentally kills Gimlet, then continues after D, knowing Lee will kill him for failing to recapture Doris. That night, Lee’s messenger arrives in town and meets with Rei, giving him a candle that can paralyze anyone with vampire blood to use against D but unknown to them, Greco listens in to the conversation and makes his own plans. Rei kidnaps Dan and leaves a note for D to come get him and D heads out to confront Rei. Rei goes to use the candle only to find the light has gone out and D manages to cut off Rei’s hand, then says the candle was a fake. Meanwhile, Fehring goes to get Doris and take her to a safehouse he discovered when they are confronted by Lamika. Doris wants to fight but Fehring grabs her whip, revealing himself to have been turned into a vampire. As Lamika approaches, Fehring questions why she is there, as he was supposed to deliver Doris to Lee, and Lamika kills him. Doris questions if she is going to kill her as well but Lamika says that she wants Doris to leave and go far enough away to escape Lee’s influence. Suddenly, they are bathed in a bright light and Lamika begins convulsing before collapsing onto Doris’ lap. Greco walks up, having switched candles with Rei, and he tells Doris he will use the candle on Lee provided that she agree to marry him. When Lamika, unable to move due to the candle, taunts Greco, he moves to kill her but Doris shields Lamika with her own body just as D and Dan arrive and Dan shoots Greco, knocking him off a cliff and putting out the light. D escorts Dan and Doris home then lets Lamika go, who is confused by D’s actions and surprised that he seems to know what her noble ancestor, Count Dracula, would want. After returning home, Doris takes a shower and then goes to see D, asking him to run away with her so he doesn’t have to fight anymore. When D says that won’t work, Doris embraces him and D is tempted to taste her blood, with the temptation growing stronger when she willingly offers herself to him but D is able to refuse his urges. and after Doris goes to sleep, the symbiote taunts D for refusing Doris. Meanwhile, Greco has survived the fall and is walking back to town when he is confronted by Rei, who kills him and takes the candle back. Rei heads to Doris’ farm and confronts D, using the candle to paralyze D, then drives a stake into his heart and cuts off his left hand, in retaliation for his own hand. Meanwhile, Lamika feels D’s pain when he is staked and wonders if he is really dead as Rei grabs Doris and Dan and brings them to Lee’s castle. Lamika goes to her body and begs him not to marry Doris, saying she might be a danger to the House of Lee. Lee tells her that marrying a human every now and then will not damage their family, revealing that her own mother was human. Lamika is shocked by the news and attacks Lee but he easily places her in suspended animation. Lee is then confronted by Rei, who asks that Lee make good on his promise to make him a vampire but Lee laughs and says Rei is lucky to still be alive and maybe in 50-60 years, he will reconsider, angering Rei. That night, the symbiote takes control of D’s hand and heads towards his body, reattaching himself to the body. Noticing a mist monster nearby, the hand tries to remove the stake but when that fails, it eats some dirt and sucks in some air, attempting to gain some more strength. The mist monster sees D’s body and heads towards them as the symbiote tries to wake D but just as it envelopes them, D regains consciousness and kills the mist monster. At the castle, a mesmerized Doris is being led by Lee to the altar when Dan, who had escaped his cell, attempts to rescue her but is easily knocked away by Lee. Dan falls down towards the catacombs but is rescued by Rei, who then goes to confront Lee with the candle. Rei moves to kill Lee but Lee uses his powers to destroy the candle, then toss Rei around the room before making his head explode. Reaching the altar, Lee moves to bite Doris, turning her into a full vampire and making her his bride but D shows up, tossing a knife into Lee’s eye. D moves to attack Lee but his strikes can’t penetrate Lee’s defenses and Lee then uses his powers to toss D around the room. Suspending him above the ceiling, Lee plans on using D’s own sword to kill D but suddenly, waves of power radiate from D, negating Lee’s hold on him. Dgrabs his sword and plunges down towards Lee and Lee is barely able to grasp the blade, keeping it from plunging into him. Lee snaps off the tip and throws it at D, piecing him but D throws his broken sword at Lee and it strikes him in the chest and pins him to the wall. Lee takes control of Doris and has her move to kill D but Lamika, having been freed from her suspension when D wounded Lee, brings Dan into the room and he is able to stop her. Lee begs Lamika to kill D but Lamika refuses, saying that Lee has brought shame to their house and it must be brought down. Lee scoffs at that, then notices the resemblance between D and the picture of Count Dracula and asks if Dracula is his father before finally dying. Lamika realizes that Lee was right and D says she can travel with him, as they are both dhampirs, but Lamika refuses, choosing to die and end the house of Lee and the D, Doris, and Dan leave as the castle sinks down into the earth and is destroyed. The next day, D rides out of town and when Doris and Dan run out onto a hill and call out to him, reminding him that he promised to come see them again, D turns to them and, getting a smile on his face, nods to the waving brother and sister.

This movie is just as good as the first time I saw it, which is saying something considering how much animation has changed in the past 33 years. The voice acting was ok, with the actors doing a good job attempting to match the lip movements with the dubbed script and portraying a lot of the various emotions you would expect in this type of movie. The story was good though I will admit that there were a lot of changes from the novel it was based on. The animation was somewhat typical of the 80’s style, where the characters would be still but the backgrounds would be flashing by, and there was a lot of flashing lights during several scenes. However, the characters were well drawn and a lot of the background settings looked amazing. A great anime that still holds up to make for some entertaining movie watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

April 16th, 2018 Movie – Valley Of The Dragons

valley of the dragons

You know what the world needs more of? Movies composed of a lot of stock footage. Of course I am being sarcastic with that but there do seem to be a fair amount of movies, particularly of the low budget variety, that use a lot of stock footage in order to fill out the movie. Even in modern days, there are a number of movies that use stock footage for several scenes. Today’s movie is one that I ended up owning as part of a collection of movies and the first thing I noticed as I watched it was the stock footage pretty early on, mainly using some scenes from Rodan. So let’s see how good of a movie I have her in Valley Of The Dragons.

The plot: In 1881, American Michael Denning and Frenchman Hector Servadac are preparing to face each other in a duel outside a city in Algeria when a passing comet causes a massive storm and strong winds to sweep everyone away. When the storm passes, Denning and Hector find themselves alone, with all traces of the city and their friends nowhere to be found. The two men agree to postpone the duel, though their feelings towards each other remain somewhat hostile, and agree to work together to figure out what is going on. As they explore the area, they come across an oasis and decide to camp there for the night but are shocked when they see a giant winged reptile flying overhead. As night falls, Hector notices that the moon is nowhere to be seen and that they are seeing the wrong stars in the sky, making him think that they have somehow been transported into the southern hemisphere, or the Earth’s orbit has somehow changed. Realizing they only have one shot each in their pistols, they decide to take turns keeping watch throughout the night. During his shift, Denning hears something and goes to look but doesn’t see anything and heads back to the fire. As he starts to doze off, a group of neanderthals approach the camp but Hector , having roused from his sleep, is able to shout a warning and the two men fend them off. Recognizing them for what they are, they two men grab the fallen weapons, as their pistols had been used, and leave before the surviving neanderthals come back with reinforcements. Making their way through the land, they see several giant animals and take shelter in a cave when two massive lizards begin fighting outside. Exploring the cave, they are attacked by a giant spider but Denning is able to get free of it’s web and kill it before it kills Hector. As they work on cooking the spider to eat they look out at the sky through a hole in the roof and see the moon, only to realize they are looking at the Earth. They realize that the comet somehow transported them to a planetoid that was made up of a chunk of Earth’s prehistoric past, which somehow survived all these years. The next day, they see a herd of mastodons and other prehistoric animals and consider killing one of them for food and clothing but realize they won’t be able to separate one from the herd with just the two of them. Moving on, they spot a tribe of humans in a cave but before they can do anything, a lookout spots them and throws a spear at them, then calls out a warning to the other of it’s tribe and they cavemen quickly leave. Denning and Hector head into the cave and quickly eat some of the food the cavemen were cooking, and Denning finds some hides they can wear before Hector notices the men returning and they quickly leave. As they are changing into the animal hides, they notice a second group of cavemen, wearing shell necklaces, and Hector says they must be from another tribe. As they start to leave the area, they encounter a mammoth and the two men get separated as the mammoth chases after Hector, who climbs a tree to escape but the mammoth pushes the tree off the cliff and into the water below, with Hector falling with it. Hector floats along the river until he finally manages to climb to shore before collapsing in exhaustion. A blonde cavewoman, Deena, finds Hector and after making sure he is alive, she helps him back to her tribe, the River People, where she fiercely defends him from both the males of the tribe, and jealously prevents the other women from getting close to him. As the woman tends to his injuries, he attempts to teach her some words so they can talk and kisses her, which she eagerly returns. Meanwhile, Denning sees a member of the Cave People attempting to subdue a wild ox but is injured in the attempt. Denning goes to help the man and when the other members of the tribe appear and move to attack Denning, the elder waves them off, then has Denning accompany them back to the cave. In the cave, the elder has one of the cave women, Nateeta, bring Denning some food but as she sits with him, another caveman gets jealous and grabs her. Denning starts to fight with the caveman and knocks him down and the elder chastises the caveman for attacking Denning. Later, Nateeta is with Denning and tries handing him a stone axe, telling him to kill the other cave man, but Denning refuses, using a sling instead to incapacitate his rival and then chasing him off. Back at the River People’s tribe, Hector and Deena are getting closer and they head to the river together to swim. Afterwards, Hector notices sulfur in some of the soil and decides to explore the area, eventually heading into a cave with Deena. While in the cave, they become separated and they are attacked by some cave dwelling albinos. Deena is able to get away by crawling out an opening but as she tries to find Hector, she is captured by a group of the Cave People and taken captive. When they bring Deena to the caves, Deena spots Denning among the crowd and cries out “Help friend” and Denning shoves the other men away from her and speaks with her. When Deena mentions Hector, Denning realizes that Hector is still alive and quickly brings her into the cave. He unties her and gives her some water but when he notices that Nateeta is crying, he realizes that she thinks he loves Deena and he manages to explain that Deena is Hector’s woman while he loves Nateeta and she happily embraces and kisses him. Back at the River People’s tribe, Hector is mourning the loss of Deena when one of the tribesman, who had seen Deena being captured, shows up and tells him what happened and Hector gathers up a war party and they head off to rescue her. Meanwhile, Denning makes plans to take Deena back to Hector, kissing Nateeta goodbye and heading out, accompanied by several men from the Cave People. The two tribes encounter each other and start to fight when a nearby volcano erupts, killing several of the men while destroying the nearby jungle. As the tremors and lava flows subside, Hector reunites with Deena and Denning when two members of the Cave People approach and start talking. Denning explains that the volcano has driven some of the “dragons” up to the mountains and they have trapped the rest of the village in the cave. Hector says he will bring some help and leaves with Deena while Denning heads back with the other Cave People. At the River People’s village, Hector has Deena help him explain what he wants the people to gather and is able to fashion gunpowder from the components, then heads out to help his friend. At the caves, Denning tries everything to get the dragons to leave when they spot Hector and the River People approaching. Hector explains that he made gunpowder and Denning comes up with a plan to bring down part of the mountain onto the dragons, while the Cave People will be shielded from the land slide by a natural overhang. Hector and his group head out and plant the gunpowder where it needs to be and light the fuses, causing a rockslide that kills and buries the dragons and the trapped Cave People quickly head outside. The two tribes face off against each other distrustingly and Denning comments about how it’s not unlike modern man, then proposes he and Hector set an example for them. The two men greet each other in friendship, then have the respective elders do the same. As they manage to get everyone meeting in friendship, Hector tells Denning he thinks that they might be another comet passing by that can take them back to Earth in 7 years, and Denning, embracing Nateeta, says that 7 years won’t be that long and Hector, embracing Deena, agrees with him.

So, my honest opinion on this is that it is somewhat stereotypical for the time, albeit a couple of years late. The acting was ok, with Cesare Danova (Hector) and Sean McClory (Denning) doing decent jobs in their roles. The story was interesting, in so far as the aspect of the two men being somehow transported to another world, but the whole cave people aspect and joining the tribe is so cliche it honestly gets old. The stock footage was entertaining as I could recognize the majority of the movies that they used; Rodan, King Dinosaur, and One Million B.C. (1940) being the primary ones. The thing that honestly surprised me was that this was a black and white movie and even the scenes with Rodan were in black and white, though Rodan is in color. It’s is a good time killer but there’s honestly nothing much more going for it.

Rating: 2 out of 5

adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi, western

April 15th, 2018 Movie – The Valley Of Gwangi

the valley of gwangi

It has been way, way too long since I have watched a Ray Harryhausen movie;  I mean for this blog, not on my own time. The fact of the matter is, I have simply gone watched all of his movies that I own (I am apparently missing 4-5) and this just happens to be the last one alphabetically. Anyways, I remember seeing this movie years ago when I was a kid and heavily into my dinosaur phase. There is something about this movie that has always held a place in my heart and is probably the only western, in a loose sense, that I have never grown tired of watching. So let’s have a bit of fun with today’s movie, The Valley Of Gwangi.

The plot: A group of gypsies are making their way through the Mexican desert looking for one of their group, Miguel. The eventually find him near dead by a small river and as his brother Carlos approaches him, Miguel manages to say “Gwangi” before dying. Seeing a sack with something crying out, Carlos grabs it but the leader of the gypsies, a blind elderly woman named Tia ,Zorina, says that the bag’s contents must be taken back to the valley, as stealing from Gwangi will bring a curse on them, but Carlos refuses to believe in her superstitions and leaves with the bag. Some time later, Tuck Kirby, a former rodeo stuntman that now works for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, arrives in a Mexican town and hires a young boy named Lope to take him to the arena. As Tuck reaches the arena, he is met by Champ, the manager of the rodeo, who isn’t happy about seeing Tuck back and says he doesn’t want to see T.J. get hurt. Before Tuck can respond, he hears the music for the finale starting up and, recognizing it as T.J.’s music, heads inside the arena doors so he can watch. T.J. is guiding her horse up a diving platform and is preparing to have her horse jump into a pool of water, with Champ lighting the outer base on fire. When she notices Tuck watching, T.J. gets distracted, missing her cue, but quickly recovers and successfully complete the jump. After T.J. and her horse are helped out of the pool, T.J. heads to her dressing room and Tuck follows after her, telling her he has a business proposition for her. Tuck tells T.J. that Buffalo Bill wants to her horse to use in his show and T.J. tells her she isn’t for sell and as Tuck comments on the dwindling audience attending their shows, she gets upset and yells at him to leave. Tuck and Lope leave the arena and encounter Professor Bromley, a paleontologist that is digging in the area. Helping take him back to his campsite, Bromley tells them about his discovery of a bone, with the footprints of an Eohippus, the early ancestor of the modern horse. Tuck talks with Bromley a bit longer and then decides to head back to the arena to try and convince T.J. to sell. At the arena, Carlos approaches T.J., who is excited about their new act, El Diablo, but Carlos wants to talk about the two of them starting a relationship. Tuck shows up and attempts to talk to T.J. again when Lope enters the arena and attempts to imitate the matadors. Lope is knocked down by the bull when it passes him and Tuck races into the arena and grabs Lope then runs for the wall and throws Lope over but is knocked down by the bull before he can climb over it. Carlos enters the arena and distracts the bull long enough for the matadors to enter and lead it away, but he gets upset when he sees T.J. rushing to check on Tuck, who kisses her. Later, T.J. is tending to Tuck’s injuries and asks why he left her and he says he doesn’t know, feeling apologetic about hurting her. T.J. tells him he can have the horse but Tuck gets suspicious and asks her why. T.J. reveals that she is starting a new act and shows him El Diablo, a live Eohippus. T.J. shows Tuck the poster for the act, having El Diablo dance on a platform atop another horse, and Tuck says it is amazing and sure to be solid gold, then realizes what El Diablo really is. Tuck sneaks Bromley into T.J.’s dressing room to show him El Diablo and says they most know where Carlos found him, as there could be more of them. Tuck and Bromley refuse to tell them anything, upset that T.J. told them about El Diablo, but when he mentions the gypsies, Tuck tells Bromley they should ask them. Tuck and Bromley ask Lope to help them find the gypsies camp and when they reach it, they try speaking with Zorina, but she refuses to help them, as she doesn’t want to anger Gwangi. Tuck decides to head back and get some sleep but Bromley approaches Zorina and offers to tell her where El Diablo is. The next day, Tuck is trying to decide if he should tell T.J. about what El Diable really is when he encounters Lope, who tells him he is meeting the Bromley for an expedition. Realizing that Bromley might have arranged to have El Diablo stolen, Tuck heads off to the arena. At the arena, the gypsies break into T.J.’s dressing room and steal El Diablo, knocking out Carlos when he tries to stop them. The gypsies race off back to the forbidden valley just as Tuck arrives and, seeing T.J.’s dressing room door open, he chases after them, followed by Bromley and Lope. T.J. and Champ see Tuck racing off and find Carlos, who tells them that Tuck stole El Diablo and Champ convinces T.J. that Tuck is no good and she orders him to get some of the men together so they can ride after him. The next day, Tuck manages to meet up with Bromley and Lope and asks Bromley where El Diablo is but Bromley says he doesn’t know, as he was merely following the gypsies to the Forbidden Valley, as if there is one Eohippus, there must be others and convinces Tuck to help him, though Tuck says he only wants to get El Diablo back for T.J.. Coming to a series of mountains, Bromley says this most likely is the Forbidden Valley when they hear the horses crying out and head back to find that Lope’s mule, Rosita, missing and blood all around the area, not knowing that it had been carried off by a Pteranodon. They eventually find where the gypsies released El Diablo and discover that T.J. and her group had beaten them there. T.J. lassos Tuck and calls out to Champ and the others when Bromley spots El Diablo next to Tuck’s horse. Everyone attempts to capture El Diablo, who manages to slip through a crevice in the rocks. Champ explores the crevice and discovers it opens into a large valley and they use the horses to pull some of the rocks free from the opening so they can ride inside. Once in the valley, they split up to look for El Diablo, with Tuck, Champ, Rowdy and Bean heading off in one direction, while Carlos, T.J., Bromley, and Lope in another. When a Pteranodon flies down and grabs Lope, Carlos gives chase as is drops to the ground, apparently unable to keep aloft with Lope’s weight, and Carlos manages to break it’s neck, killing it. Meanwhile, Tuck and the others spot an Ornithomimus and they attempt to capture it to bring back but as they chase it, an Allosaurus leaps out from behind some rocks and kills the Ornithomimus. Tuck and the others make a run for it, though Rowdy decides to try and shoot the Allosaurus but his gun is loaded with blanks for their performance and the noise only manages to attract it’s attention and it starts chasing after them. Carlos decides to go looking for the others, and finds them heading back just as the Allosaurus appears and Carlos whispers “Gwangi” when he sees it and turns and follows them. They reach T.J., Lope, and Bromley and tell them they have to leave but Bromley refuses to leave the dead Pteranodon so they are forced to leave him. When Gwangi appears, Bromley quickly goes and hides in a cave but he disturbs some rocks and Gwangi spots him and chases after him. Meanwhile, Tuck and the others are confronted by a Styracosaurus and quickly head in another direction as it makes its way towards where they were coming from. The Styracosaurus ends up confronting Gwangi and the two dinosaurs face off before heading their separate ways, with Gwangi grabbing the dead Pteranodon as it leaves. Tuck and the others find a cave they can stay at and as tensions start to flare, Lope tells them that Bromley and the gypsies had stolen El Diablo, while Carlos lied about who stole it. Tuck and the others work on making a pit trap near the cave opening to try and keep them safe, managing to catch Bromley in it, and they settle down for the night. T.J. approaches Tuck and tells him she wants to sell out, not just the horse but the entire show, and settle down, and Tuck admits that he is scared but he has been looking at a ranch in Wyoming which would be perfect for them to settle down and raise horses or cattle, and the two kiss. The next day, Tuck goes to get some water when he sees Gwangi nearby and Gwangi quickly starts to chase him. Tuck makes it to the cave but is thrown from his horse when it tries to climb up and is forced to hide in a crevice as Gwangi approaches. Champ and the others use some spears to try and fend off Gwangi and when it continues to chase after Tuck, they mount up on horses and chase after him. Carlos manages to get a lasso around it’s mouth but is knocked off his horse and Tuck quickly hops on and continues trying to hold Gwangi at bay. As Champ, T.J., Rowdy, and Bean all join in and use their lassos to try and subdue Gwangi, Carlos heads back to get Tuck’s horse only to encounter the Stracosaurus. Carlos ends up using a torch to light some nearby brush on fire, chasing the Styracosaurus away and straight towards Gwangi. As the two dinosaurs begin fighting, Tuck and the others race past them on their way out of the valley but Gwangi, after killing the Styracosaurus, chases after them and kills Carlos. Tuck and the others make it through the opening and Gwangi attempts to follow them but as it struggles to make it through the opening, it causes a rock slide that knocks it unconscious. Tuck quickly wraps a lasso around it’s mouth and ties it up and Champ is excited and makes plans to bring it back to the arena. Bringing back a cage, they secure Gwangi inside and start making their way to the arena when they are confronted by Zorina and her dwarf companion. Zorina says she foresaw Carlos’ death and says they will die to unless Gwangi is returned to the valley. When they reach the arena, Bromley is upset that T.J. is planning on using Gwangi as part of their show and after he leaves, Tuck questions her plans about a world tour with Gwangi, upset that she decided to ignore their plans of moving to Wyoming and pursue the fame that this world tour would give her. After Tuck leaves, Lope tells T.J. she needs to go after him and T.J. realizes that he is right and quickly rushes out and stops Tuck from leaving, and the two embrace. Meanwhile, Zorina and the dwarf gypsy make their way into the arena, and the dwarf sneaks backstage and works on releasing the pins for the cage so Gwangi can get free but he ends up being snatched up into Gwangi’s jaws. As an elephant in the previous act senses the danger and starts crying out, as the curtain is raised and the crowd gasps in horror as they see Gwangi with the dwarf in it’s mouth. Gwangi breaks free from the cage, crushing Bromley as it does, and begins fighting with the elephant as the crowd quickly flees the arena, trampling Zorina in the process. Tuck, Champ, and Rowdy grab some rifles and attempt to kill Gwangi but the bullets have no effect and Tuck is forced to take shelter inside a large church with T.J., Lope, and most of the other townspeople. Tuck and some men try and brace the door so Gwangi can’t get in but he easily forces the door open and everyone starts leaving out the back as Gwangi makes his way inside. Tuck tells T.J. and Lope to escape while he tries to lock Gwangi inside, then circles back to the front doors to lock them. T.J. and Lope get trapped by Gwangi and Tuck works to distract it, using a flag pole/spear to fend it off. When Tuck is accidentally knocked into the organ, the noise distracts Gwangi and Tuck throws the spear into it’s head, wounding the massive dinosaur. As it roars in pain, Tuck grabs T.J. and Lope and they quickly run for it, with Tuck throwing some hot embers at Gwangi when it tries to follow them. The embers set the pews on fire and Gwangi soon becomes trapped in the fire, knocking over some torches that cause the fire to spread. Tuck, T.J., and Lope make it outside and watch with the rest of the crowd as the church catches fire and starts to collapse, killing Gwangi as it is trapped under some debris and burned to death.

The Valley Of Gwangi met with relatively high praise from modern critics, holding a 78% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, many critics praised Harryhausen’s stop-motion effects, feeling it was the best part of the movie. The concept for the movie had actually conceived by Willis O’Brien, of King Kong fame, and was supposed to be a follow up to King Kong but was never made. O’Brien had actually produced a similar movie, The Beast Of Hollow Mountain,  a few years earlier however he died before this movie started, and the project passed on to Harryhausen. Unfortunately, the movie was not as successful as Harryhausen’s other ventures, as the market had started shifting away from giant monster movies and Warner Bros. management had undergone changes and they released it with little promotional effort.

I love this movie and I honestly don’t know why it didn’t do better in theaters, as it had most of what you would expect young boys to be drawn to; cowboys and dinosaurs. Anyways, the acting was pretty good, with James Franciscus (Tuck), Laurence Naismith (Bromley) and Freda Jackson (Zorina) doing great jobs in their roles. I also liked Curtis Arden (Lope) and Gila Golan (T.J.), but I wonder what Gila’s voice would have sounded like as they had her voice dubbed for the movie. The story was pretty good, and I liked the idea of Gwangi being captured and placed as part of a circus show and Bromley being upset about it. I might be biased but I honestly feel like Gwangi was some of Harryhausen’s best work, as his movements were incredible when translated onto the screen. Some of the blue screen work could have been a little better but on the whole, this is still a great movie to watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5

action, drama, movie, movie review, sci-fi

April 14th, 2018 Movie – V For Vendetta

v for vendetta

As the MCU set to storm theaters again with Infinity War, just after the theaters have started to recover from the showing of Black Panther, It can be hard to forget that there are other movies out there based on comic books. Now, I’m not talking about the DCEU, which has honestly been kind of a flop with the exception of Wonder Woman. I’m talking about some of the other movies that were based on lesser known comic books. Take today’s movie for instance. Granted, the comic it was based on was from DC’s offshoot company, Vertigo, but you aren’t going to see any of the famed Justice League members in this movie. That is because Vertigo comics focused on darker, and more adult themes that wouldn’t be able to make it past the normal comic censors. I remember being pretty excited to go see this movie in theaters when it came out, and had no problem attending a late night showing, even though I was leaving early the next morning to go out of town. So let’s all get a little bit of anarchy in our systems with today’s movie, V For Vendetta.

The plot: As Lewis Prothero starts giving his usual propagandist speeches on the television for his show, a man dressed in black and armed with several knives dons a Guy Fawkes mask, cape, and hat, then heads out. At the same time, Evey Hammond is also watching Prothero’s program as she gets dressed, turning it off as he goes on his fevered pitch against immigrants and homosexuals. Realizing how late it is, Evey quickly heads out, trying to reach her destination before she is caught for being out past curfew but she ends up being detained by 3 Fingermen, members of the ruling Norsefire party’s secret police. The Fingermen intend on raping Evey as punishment for being out past curfew but she is rescued by the masked man, who introduces himself as V. V invites Evey to join him for a concert and takes her to a rooftop just as midnight sounds and the date changes to November 5th. Referencing “The Bonfire Prayer”, V begins waving a conductor’s baton and Evey hears “1812 Overture” being broadcast over the speakers on the street, attracting the attention of the residents in the area who go outside to see what is going on. As the crescendo hits, the Old Bailey, London’s main criminal court, is destroyed by explosives, while fireworks going off in the pattern of the letter V light up the sky. The next morning, High Chancellor Adam Sutler holds a video conference with his cabinet; Eric Finch (The Nose) – head of Scotland Yard, Peter Creely (The Finger) – head of the Secret Police, Brian Etheridge (The Ear) – head of the government’s audio surveillance, Roger Dascombe (The Mouth) – head of the government’s propaganda machine, and Conrad Heyer (The Eye) – head of the government’s visual surveillance. The cabinet tells him that they are stepping up their various surveillance measures and doing their best to capture the terrorist, as well as try to identify Evey to find out her role in the matter. The next day, Evey reports to work at BTN and apologizes to her boss, Gordon Deitrich, for standing him up the night before. When Evey delivers some packages to one of the studios, she is shocked to discover that they all contain Guy Fawkes masks and quickly grabs her things to leave. Meanwhile, Finch and his partner, Dominic Stone, get a lead on Evey’s identity and after breaking into her apartment, realize she works for BTN. As they head to the studio, Finch looks up her information and decides to call in some back up. At BTN, V shows up, wearing an explosive vest, and takes one of the studio’s hostage just as Finch and his men show up. Finch spots Evey and tries to capture her but they lose her just as V has the studio play a pre-recorded disk he made over the emergency network, causing it to reach every TV in Britain. In the video, V speaks out to the citizens of England, telling them there is something wrong with the country and inviting them to join him outside Parliament in one year if they feel the same way. The police, accompanied by Dascombe, manage to break into the studio only to find that V had made all of the hostages wear Guy Fawkes masks and cloaks in order to help cover his escape. Dascombe works on defusing the bomb V left on the control panel while Stone manages to get the drop on V as he tries to leave. Evey, who had seen V and quickly hidden, decides to help him but ends up getting knocked unconscious and V quickly knocks out Stone, then carries Evey away. Later, BTN shows edited footage of the police shooting V (in reality it was one of the hostages by mistake) and saying he was dead while trying to paint him in a bad light but the seeds of doubt have already started to grow among the people. Evey wakes up in a strange room and as she explores her surroundings, encounters V, who says that she is in his home, the Shadow Gallery, which is a collection of items that have been deemed forbidden by Sutler. Evey says she has to leave and V tells her that the police were there looking for her, which means they know where she lives. He then apologizes and says that he can’t allow her to leave until after Guy Fawkes day of the following year, which upsets Evey. The next morning, Evey apologizes to V for her reaction and noticing his severely burned hands, asks about them but he tells her he was in a fire a long time ago and quickly changes the subject. That night, V uses Evey’s ID to gain access to the BTN building and Prothero’s studio apartment in the building. V confronts Prothero as he gets out of the shower and reveals they share a history back when Prothero was in the military. Some time later, Dascombe calls Finch, who arrives to find that Prothero has been murdered and Dascombe tries to find a way to spin it while Finch works on finding any trace to link it to V and find him. The next morning, Evey is woken by the sounds of struggle only to find it is V reenacting scenes from The Count Of Monte Cristo as it is playing on the TV behind him. V apologizes for waking her and invites Evey to watch the movie with him. Afterwards, a news reports talks about Prothero’s death and Evey realizes the news anchor is lying about how Prothero died. Evey asks V if he killed Prothero and when he admits he did, she gets upset. Meanwhile, Finch and Stone are looking into Prothero’s history and are trying to figure out why he was put in charge of the detention center at Larkhill and go looking for more information about it. Back in the Shadow Gallery, Evey tells V her history and about how her parents were grabbed by the Fingermen one night and offers to help V if he needs it. V does so and has her dress as a school girl and meet with Bishop Lilliman, who has a fetish for young girls. Evey tries to warn Lilliman about V but the bishop doesn’t believe her until V bursts into the room. Evey apologizes to V and quickly flees and V calls out for her but turns his attention to Lilliman when he tries to shoot him. An audio surveillance van picks up on V’s altercation and alerts Finch but he arrives too late to save Lilliman. Creedy shows up and tells Finch that Sutler is not happy about Finch’s poking around into Larkhill and tells him to focus on finding V before his own loyalty comes into question. Finch speaks with the medical examiner, Dr. Delia Surridge, and she confirms that the same poison killed Lilliman and Prothero and when he asks her about the flower V places on the bodies, she gets a shocked look on her face and identifies it as a Scarlet Carson, a species thought to be extinct. Stone calls Finch back to the office and shows him that all of the staff at Larkhill are now dead with the exception of one doctor, who they are unable to find due to the doctor changing his name. Meanwhile, Evey makes her way to Gordon’s house and he quickly brings her inside. After she explains what happened to her, Gordon shows her a hidden room in his house filled with forbidden items and reveals that he is gay, which would mean the end of his career and possibly his life if anyone were to know. Late that night, Surridge is woken by V and the two talk briefly before V admits that he already killed her and she dies peacefully. As this occurs, Stone learns that Surridge is the doctor from Larkhill and Finch rushes over there only to find her already dead, with her journal lying on her night stand. Finch speaks with Sutler, who tells him that the journal is a matter of national security and not to be told to anyone. Disregarding the order, Finch reads the journal and learns that Larkhill was used as a testing facility for biological warfare before it was destroyed and while most of the patients were killed by the experiments, Surridge said she had hopes for one man who was known as Prisoner 5 (the roman numeral V). Finch finds himself questioning what really happened at St. Marys’ school and Three Waters, which were the sites of terrorist attacks, and asks Stone if perhaps they incidents were not what they have been led to believe. One night, Gordon informs Evey that he changed the script of his show and as they watch, Evey is shocked to see he made a satire/parody skit, with an actor portraying Sutler chasing after V. When V is captured, he is revealed to be another Sutler and they two men fight before being killed by the police. Later that night, Evey is woken by the sounds of struggle and Gordon bursts into the room and tells her to hide just before the door is smashed and he is assaulted and captured by Creedy and the Fingermen. After they leave, Evey sneaks out the window and attempts to escape but she is captured and a bag is placed over her head. Evey is interrogated and tortured for the location of where to find V but she refuses to tell them. Evey discovers a note from the prisoner in the cell next to her and reads it in between her bouts of torture. The note is from an actress named Valerie Page, who was a lesbian and describes her life up to the time of Sutler’s rise to power and how both her and her girlfriend were taken by the Fingermen. When Evey is threatened to be executed by firing squad unless she tells them what they want to know, Evey, inspired by the note, refuses to give them what they want and chooses the firing squad. The guard says she is without fear and free to go and walks away, leaving the door open. Confused, Evey walks out the door and discovers that she is in another part of the Shadow Gallery. V apologizes for what he did and when she asks about Gordon, he tells her he was executed when they found a Koran inside his house. Evey yells at V for what he did to her before collapsing to ground in anguish and he leads her outside onto the roof for some fresh air and she walks out into the rain and cries out in release. Later Evey tells V she is leaving and offers him back the note but he reveals that Valerie was a real person and happened to be in the cell next to V’s in Larkhill. V asks Evey if she would come see him before Guy Fawkes Day and she agrees to see him, then leaves the Shadow Gallery and heads out to start a new life. Meanwhile, Stone uncovers that there were 3 covert ops who knew the truth about Larkhill and while two of them are dead, one of them, Rookwood, knows they are looking for him and contacts Finch to arrange a meeting. Finch and Stone meet with Rookwood, who tells them about Sutler’s rise to power and how the weapon that was developed at Larkhill was used on the British people, under Creedy’s suggestion, as a means to instill fear in the populace and ensure Sutler’s winning the election. Rookwood says that he will give them all the proof they need once they place Creedy under surveillance so that he feel safe from being killed. As Creedy is placed under surveillance, V approaches him and offers a deal to Creedy, saying he will turn himself in to him in exchange for Creedy bringing him Sutler. Meanwhile, Finch discovers that Rookwood had really been dead for years and realizes that the man they met was really V. As Guy Fawkes day approaches, masks, hats, and cloaks are delivered to every person in London and more and more instances of unrest occur throughout the city. When a Fingerman shoots a little girl who was wearing a mask, he is attacked by several bystanders, leading to riots throughout the city and martial law being declared. As day breaks on November 5th, Evey returns to the Shadow Gallery to keep her promise to V, who is honestly surprised she came. V asks her to dance with him and as they dance, they talk for a bit before he shows her a subway tunnel with a train loaded with explosives that is pointed towards Parliament. He tells her that the decision to blow up Parliament lies not in his hands, but in hers, and says that she must be the one to shape the new world, as he is part of the old. V says he must go to meet his maker and Evey begs him not to go, saying they can leave together and kisses him but V apologizes and leaves. As a televised speech by Sutler appears on the television, Creedy and his men enter an abandoned Subway tunnel and meet with V. Creedy reveals that he has brought Sutler and V speaks with him briefly before Creedy kills him. Creedy then turns his attention to V but V kills the two Fingermen that try to take off his mask. V mocks Creedy, who orders the rest of his men to fire and they shoot V but when their guns are empty, he is shown to still be standing and begins slaughtering the men, leaving Creedy to be last. Creedy fires at him but V continues towards him, then proceeds to break his neck. V removes the armored breast plate he was wearing to try and protect him from the bullets and makes his way through the tunnels back to Evey and admits his love for her before dying in her arms. On the streets of London, hundreds of citizens donning V’s garb march towards Parliament, ignoring the military barricade that are in place. Evey places his body inside the train and prepares to pull the lever when Finch shows up and tells her to stop but when she refuses, he lowers his weapon. As midnight sounds and the crowds gather around Parliament, Evey pulls the lever and sends the train on it’s way, then asks Finch if he likes music. They head up to the roof and watch as Parliament and Big Ben explodes and Finch asks who V was and Evey tells him he was all of them.

V For Vendetta met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Visually stunning and thought-provoking, V For Vendetta‘s political pronouncements may rile some, but its story and impressive set pieces will nevertheless entertain.” The domino scene, where V tips over black and red dominoes to form a giant letter V, involved twenty-two thousand dominoes. It took four professional domino assemblers two hundred hours to set it up. Alan Moore, who wrote the graphic novel the movie is based on, was upset with several of the changes that made V more “morally appealing” and felt that the “fascist government” he created had been defanged. This led to him refusing to have any credit listed in the film and any money he received was given to his partner on the book, David Lloyd. The movie was a success at the box office, earning $132.5 million off of a $54 million budget.

I think this might go down as one of the most impactful comic book movies to ever come out as you will always be able to find a real life situation that mirrors the political aspects in this movie, albeit hopefully not completely. The acting in this was pretty good, with Hugo Weaving doing a good job giving voice to V while Natalie Portman was equally good as Evey. As good as they were, I honestly think Stephen Rea helped set the undertone for the movie as Finch, as he went from loyal party member that didn’t question anything to beginning to doubt what is being told and wanting to learn the truth for himself, while John Hurt and Tim Pigott-Smith did well in their roles as Sutler and Creedy respectively. The story was toned down from the comics but is still well told and really can be used as a showcase of how a fascist government operates. The special effects in the few fight scenes V felt a little over dramatic at times in the use of the slow motion but I know it was meant to showcase his superhuman strength and speed. Still, the choreography was well done and, while slow, the fights were no less exciting. One of my favorite comic book movies to make it to film and definitely one that should be watched.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

crime, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

April 13th, 2018 Movie – The Usual Suspects

the usual suspects

Some times, the best way to hear about a movie is word of mouth. If a movie gets a lot of good word of mouth among people, then their friends will be more likely to go see it. That is definitely the case with today’s movie. Everyone that I knew who had seen it had enjoyed it and I ended up seeing it myself. But that word of mouth extended even further when it came out on video, as even more people were talking about it who missed seeing it in theaters. I liked this movie and would always watch it when it came on TV, then finally decided to go ahead and get it on DVD after a while. So let’s enjoy today’s movie, The Usual Suspects.

The plot: On a freight ship docked in San Pedro, California, a badly wounded man, Dean Keaton, lights a match book and drops it to the ground, setting fire to a trail of gasoline. As the flames head towards the gas tanks, the flame is put out by a man urinating off of an upper deck. The man then approaches Keaton, who calls him “Keyser”, and the two talk briefly before Keyser shoots Keaton, then drops a lit cigarette onto the gasoline, reigniting it and causing the ship to explode as the man leaves. Some time later, Roger “Verbal” Kent, a con artist with cerebral palsey, is being interviewed by the police. Verbal tells them that the whole thing started 6 weeks ago when a shipment of guns was hijacked and while the drivers didn’t see anything, they heard one of the thieves speak. The New York Police Dept. pick up Verbal as well as Keaton, Michael McManus, Fred Fenster, and Todd Hockney, and placed in a police line up and each are made to read the line on a card before beginning to interrogate them. When they are placed in a holding cell, McManus and Hockney discuss the rumors about Keaton going straight since hooking up with a criminal defense attorney. They then all discuss why they are there and realize that they are being set up as the police have no real idea who stole the guns and  McManus wants to get back at the cops. Back in the present day, FBI Agent Jack Baer arrives at the dock and asks one of the officers if there were any survivors and learns that there were two; one who was badly burned and taken to the hospital, and one, Verbal, who was taken into custody by the police. Baer heads to the hospital and learns that the injured man had regained consciousness and as he goes in to try and speak to him, he recognizes him as Arkosh Kovash, a Hungarian Mobster. Baer makes a call to arrange for a security detail and an interpreter but as he is on the phone, Arkosh starts yelling out the name “Keyser Soze”, making Baer pause briefly before telling the person on the other phone to locate Dave Kujan. U.S. Customs Special Agent Dave Kujan has flown down to San Pedro to question Verbal but learns that he is going to be posting bail and released the next day. Kujan manages to get in to talk with Verbal before he is released and asks him what happened after the police line up in New York. Verbal explains that McManus had come up with a plan but they needed 5 men to pull it off and Verbal goes to try and convince Keaton to help them. The men all work together to rob some crooked cops that operate an illegal taxi service, robbing the recent customer of some jewels he was carrying, then torching the police car. Keaton calls in an anonymous tip and the media arrives and they end up bringing down the whole ringing, which extends all the way to the chief. McManus plans on heading to California with Fenster to meet with a fence that he knows but Hockney and the others don’t like the idea of them going alone and decide to go with him. Back in the present, Baer has his superior and the interpreter brought into the room and when he learns that Arkosh has seen Keyser Soze’s face, he has a sketch artist brought forward so they can get a sketch from Arkosh’s description. Back in the San Pedro Police Department, Kujan continues to question Verbal and Verbal tells him that after they arrived in California, they met with the fence, Redfoot, who paid them then offered another job. Keaton didn’t want to do it at first but finally relents and goes through with it. They go to steal a suitcase from a courier but unlike the police heist, this time they end up having to kill the men they were stealing from. When they open it, they find the suitcase contains heroin instead of jewels and McManus gets upset and when they meet with Redfoot, he accuses him of setting them up. Keaton calms him down and then questions Redfoot about who hired them and says he wants to meet him and Redfoot says the man has already said he wants to arrange a meeting. Back in the present, Baer heads to the station and meets with Kujan, telling him that according to Arkosh, the Hungarians were meeting with some Argentinians to buy some cocaine when Keyser Soze showed up and killed everyone. When Kujan returns back to the room and asks Verbal about Keyser Soze, he gets visibly upset. Verbal explains how they met with a lawyer named Kobayashi, who tells them he works for Keyser Soze. Kobayashi explains that Soze wants them to do a job for him, which could kill them but if they survive, they will get $91 million to split between them. When Keaton starts to refuse, Kobayashi explains that all of them have stolen from Soze at one point or another, and the only reason they are alive is because they didn’t know they were stealing from them. Soze feels this is simply making things even between them, and Kobayahsi leaves his suitcase on the table and leaves. When Keaton opens it, he finds envelopes with each of their names on them, with details of their lives contained in each one. Back in the present, Verbal tells Kujan a story he was told about how Soze was simply a low level dealer in Hungary when the mob wanted to expand into his territory. They held his wife and children hostage and killed his son in front of him, demanding he turn over his territory or else the others die. Soze proceeds to kill two of the mobsters, then kill his own family, telling the lone survivor he would rather see his family dead. After letting the man go and burying his family, Soze proceeds to go after the mob, killing their children and wives in retaliation, which led to him becoming a myth among criminals. After meeting with Kobayashi, Fenster decides to try and run but he is killed by Soze and Kobayashi tells the others where to find the body. As they argue over what to do, they bury Fenster, then decide to go after Kobayashi but he warns them against killing him, saying that their loved ones will end up dead, showing that he has brought Keaton’s girlfriend to be part of a trial and telling Keaton that the bodyguard he arranged will kill her if he turns up missing. Realizing they are trapped, Keaton and the others head out to the dock and await the meeting between the Hungarians and Argentinians. When the men show up, Keaton, McManus, and Hockney head out to deal with them, leaving Verbal, due to his disability, to cover them. The three men proceed to kill the guards outside and as Keaton and McManus head onto the boat, Hockney heads to a nearby van and finds it full of cash but ends up getting shot. Keaton and McManus make their way through the ship but find no sign of any cocaine on board. Verbal is tired of waiting and goes trying to help but when he finds Hockney’s body, he closes the van doors and goes to drive off but is unable to find the keys. Meanwhile, McManus is stabbed in the neck and as Keaton checks on him, he is shot in the back, which paralyzes him and brings us to the beginning of the movie. Back in the station, Kujan asks Verbal why he didn’t help his friends and he says he was too scared of Soze. Kujan then tells him that there were no drugs on the ship, but it was a witness who had knowledge of Soze, including who Soze really was. Kujan believes that Keaton was really Soze and tries to convince Verbal of that and turn state’s evidence but Verbal refuses and leaves, as his bail has been posted. After Verbal leaves, Kujan is talking with Sergeant Jeff Rabin about the situation and as he looks at the cork board behind Rabin, he realizes Verbal had lied to him, using names and elements from the cork board for his story. Kujan goes chasing after Verbal, just as a fax comes in from the hospital, with Verbal’s picture being listed as Keyser Soze. Outside, Verbal reveals that his disability was faked and he gets into a car that Kobayashi is driving and they drive off, leaving Kujan standing there frustrated at ebing unable to catch Verbal/Soze.

The Usual Suspects met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Expertly shot and edited, The Usual Suspects gives the audience a simple plot and then piles on layers of deceit, twists, and violence before pulling out the rug from underneath.” The line-up scene was scripted as a serious scene, but after a full day of filming takes where the actors couldn’t keep a straight face, director Bryan Singer decided to use the funniest takes. A making-of documentary shows Singer becoming furious at the actors for the constant cracking-up. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $34.4 million off of a $6 million budget and would win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and while Kevin Spacey would win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

This is a great movie but I will admit that the ending was a little predictable. The acting was great, with Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, and Chazz Palminteri doing great jobs in the roles of Verbal/Soze, Keaton, and Kujan respectively. Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Pollack, and Benicio Del Toro were also good as McManus, Hockney, and Fenster while Pete Postlethwaite did a great job as Kobayashi. The story was interesting and I liked the concept of the mysterious puppet master pulling the strings for all of the events. However, I did think that it got predictable that Verbal was really Soze before the “big reveal”. I did like that they showed Kujan realizing that he had been played and chasing after him before the sketch of Verbal gets faxed in, as his reaction and the slow motion showing all of the names Verbal had used was revealed was definitely a good way to start the close of the movie. The drama was well choreographed and the special effects in the final fire fight and explosions were well done. This is definitely a solid thriller of a movie and one that everyone should watch at least once.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5