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September 29th, 2014 Movie – The Alien Factor

AlienFactor

Another day of playing catch up with the movie viewing. How the hell did I get in this position in the first place? Oh yeh. I went to Movie Stop and bought a bunch of DVD’s. Well, like they say, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. In this case, I bought these movies so now I have to watch them. Oh well. No choice but to get to it. Today I am watching The Alien Factor.

The plot: A spaceship containing specimens for an intergalactic zoo crash lands on Earth near a small town. The creatures escape and soon some of the townsfolk begin showing up severely mutilated. The local sheriff is doing his best best to try and figure out what is going on, but his job isn’t made any easier by the town’s mayor, who wants to keep the deaths under wraps so that a deal for a multi-million dollar amusement park will go through.

This is a perfect example of how a movie idea looks good on paper but fails in practice. It isn’t the fact that this had a low budget. I thought the idea was good and could have made for an decent movie, regardless of budget. The problem is that they took away all of the suspense out of the movie. Right at the beginning of the movie, you see one of the monsters attack two kids in a car. What they should have done was to just show the kids faces, maybe a shot of the monsters arm as it attacks, but don’t show all of the monster. Now the dialogue was pretty bad, which is nothing new with some of these movies, and the actors were only so-so at best.

I do have to say that the monsters did have me laughing. One of them was supposed to be a giant humanoid bug but it looked more like a guy in some weird armor than a bug. The next monster was some kind of weird ape/satyr type thing. The thing had some weird, furry, chicken legs that were almost twice as long as the rest of it’s body. But my favorite was the last monster. This thing was some kind of transparent lizard monster. The whole fight between it and a guy trying to kill it had me laughing because of how the guy was having to react to the creatures attacks when they were not even coming close to touching him, and would occasionally fall and roll through the creature. Seriously funny.

So if you are in the mood for a cheesy movie to laugh at, then feel free to give this a view

Rating: 2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: January 13th, 2014 Movie – 007: Octopussy

007 octopussy

Man, did they ever miss out on a marketing campaign in 1983. “Ladies and Gentleman! Children of all ages! Welcome to the match of the century! In the red corner, that man who likes his martinis shaken, not stirred. James Bond. In the blue corner, that dashing rogue agent of MI6. James Bond.” Well, when you have two Bond movies coming out at the same time, that is almost what it felt like. However, only one of the films was “canon” so for that reason, I am reviewing Octopussy today.

The plot: A British agent is found dead at the British Embassy in East Berlin, dressed as a clown and clutching a fake Fabrege Egg. Mi6 suspects Soviet involvement and when the real egg appears at an auction in London, they send Bond to investigate. Bond’s investigation leads him to India where he discovers an exiled Afghan prince named Kamal Khan is working with a Soviet general, Orlov, to expand Soviet control in Europe. He also discovers a woman named Octopussy who is helping Khan and Orlov smuggle smuggle Soviet treasures into Western Europe using a circus. When Orlov replaces one of the shipments with a nuclear bomb, attempting to cause an explosion during a performance at a US Air Force base, Bond must stop the bomb from going off and stop Khan and Orlov from succeeding in their plans.

Long story short, back in the 60’s there was a legal battle between Eon studios and Kevin McClory, the writer for the movie Thunderball. McClory won the legal battle and wanted to remake the movie but it would be years before he would get his chance, calling the film Never Say Never Again. Meanwhile, Roger Moore had actually been considering quitting the Bond movies but when the studio heard that Sean Connery was playing Bond in McClory’s movie, they decided they needed an established Bond in the movie, rather than risk a new one. So for the first time ever, fans had two Bond movies come out in the same year but starring two different Bonds. So who won? Well, Never Say Never Again had better reviews from the critics, but Octopussy was a bigger success, earning 187 million to Never Say Never Again’s 160 million. But to be honest, the fans really won.

So this was a fun movie to watch. Plenty of action and some tongue-in-cheek scenes and dialogue that you would expect from a Bond movie. The scene where Bond was being hunted in India was pretty good, although him doing the obligatory “Tarzan yell” when he swings on a vine was a bit much. Roger Moore turned in a pretty solid performance in this movie. Maud Adams, making the first time ever that someone who played a Bond girl in a previous film returned in a different movie, was great as Octopussy and matched up well with Moore.

So if you want to see the commercial winner of the Battle of the Bonds, or just want to watch a fun Bond movie, then watch this movie

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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September 28th, 2014 Movie: Abraxas: Guardian Of The Universe

abraxas, guardian of the universe

Jesse “The Body” Ventura. Most people know him as the former wrestler and ring announcer in WWF/E and WCW. He is also known for being the former governor of Minnesota. And of course, he is also known for his acting. Beginning with his role in Predator, Ventura would have numerous roles and bit parts in movies and TV series. Today’s movie, Abraxas: Guardian Of The Universe, is his first attempt at a starring role.

The plot: Abraxas is a Finder, a type of intergalactic police officer, who is tasked with bringing in his former partner, a renegade partner named Secundus. Secundus had traveled to Earth and managed to impregnate a girl before Abraxas manages to capture him. 5 years later, Secundus escapes from his prison and returns to Earth to find the girl in the hopes that her offspring will provide the answer for the Anti-Life Equation. Abraxas follows him to Earth so he can stop Secundus and save the girl and her child.

Ok, I am pretty sure this movie is a candidate for mocking on Rifftrax. Oh look, it is. This movie is terrible. The dialogue sounds very forced and unnatural throughout the entire movie. Jesse Ventura’s character is boring, the only real emotion he seemed to show was when he was arguing with his Answer Box. The bad guy, Secundus, acts like a poor man’s Terminator only without the credibility. The scene where Ventura tries to bond with the kid is kind of creepy. There honestly aren’t many redeeming qualities to this movie. One other thing I found annoying was the almost blatant rip off of plot ideas from DC Comics. Answer Box. Anti-Life Equation.. These are both themes prevalent among the comics featuring Darkseid and New Genesis, which came out some 20 years before this movie did. Maybe that’s why I didn’t like this movie. Because they took a good idea from a comic book and turned it into crap.

So if you want to watch a bland sci-fi movie just to kill some time, you could watch this. But I would go find something better.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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September 27th, 2014 Movie – 984: Prisoner Of The Future

984 prisoner of the futureSo funny story. I had to go into work today which honestly was no fun. While working, I was listening to some classical music on Spotify when Toccata and Fugue in D Minor came on. This got me to thinking about the Disney movie Fantasia and how I would like to watch that again. So I decided to stop by Movie Stop on my way home to see if there was a used copy I could rent. The bad news, they did not have Fantasia. The good news, they had a bunch of other stuff that somehow found their way into my hands. One of those items was the Alien Invasion 50 movie pack. Normally these things are 20 bucks but I saw this for $10 so it was a no brainer for me to buy it. Of course, now I have all these movies to watch before I get back on track. So let’s start with 984: Prisoner Of The Future.

The plot: Tom Weston is an executive that has been arrested and charged in a conspiracy to topple the new government. He and several other prisoners are sent to a detention center run by a ruthless interrogator. While there, Weston is tortured and hypnotized in an attempt to get his confession to the plot he was a part of. But Weston claims he is innocent and tries to find a way to escape.

So this was rumored to have been intended as a pilot intro for a TV series. Usually they try to make the movie interesting enough so that you would want to watch a TV show to see what happens next. In this case, they failed. This movie was just confusing. It would keep bouncing back and forth between what was happening in the detention center and flashbacks of Weston’s life before the arrest. There were too many plot threads going on that did not get answered to make this even remotely interesting. In this case, the producers should have used the motto, less is more. If they had left out the flashbacks and just focused on the interrogation and escape attempt, then this might have been more effective. Instead, you just get a somewhat hard to follow mess

So if you want to see what might have led to a TV series, then watch this. But honestly, spare yourself the headache and skip it.

Rating: 1 out of 5

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September 26th, 2014 Movie – Dick Tracy (1990)

dick tracy

I know we live in a digital age, but who remembers waking up Sunday morning and trying to grab the comics section out of the Sunday paper before anyone else gets a chance to read it. Be honest. Everyone probably did it. As Alan Alda said in a different movie, “Start with the comics. You’ll live longer.” Now, how many people would read some of the comics and think that they would make a good movie. Well in the 40’s and 50’s, a number of movies based on comic strips were made. After the bombing of some films in the 80’s (although they would essentially become cult classics), they decided to stop making them. Then Warren Beatty decides to do a movie based on one of the most popular characters from the comics. Which leads us to today’s movie, Dick Tracy

The plot: During an illegal poker game, several gangsters are killed by some hoods working for Big Boy Caprice. Big Boy is trying to take control of the local crime syndicate and is killing off anyone that stands against him. The only problem he has is Dick Tracy, who is making it his mission to put Big Boy behind bars. Meanwhile, Tracy is trying to juggle his duties as a detective and his relationship with his girlfriend Tess when he finds himself the guardian of a street urchin named “Kid”. As Tracy tries to succeed in his quest to arrest Big Boy, he suddenly finds himself framed for the murder of the D.A. Now Tracy must prove his innocence while dealing with Big Boy and his henchmen, as well as the mysterious figure, The Blank.

Now I was living in Arlington, Texas when this movie came out. And while I was aware of the comic’s existence, neither of the two major papers carried the Dick Tracy comics at the time. However, one of the TV stations did start airing reruns of the old Dick Tracy cartoon. So there was some exposure aside from the mass media promotion for the film. Now the reviews were mixed on this movie and it made over 150 million dollars world wide so it was successful although Disney was disappointed since it cost almost 100 million to make.

Now I liked this movie. It did have a certain amount of camp to it but I thought it actually worked with the movie because it made it seem like a real life comic strip. Warren Beatty was decent in the title role but the real star of this movie was Al Pacino. I honestly think Pacino was just having fun with this role. He was so over the top that you can’t help but laugh. To be honest, the main reason I watch this movie is to watch Al Pacino and have a laugh because he is that funny. It is no surprise that he was nominated for an Oscar.

So if you would like to watch a live action comic strip, then you should watch this.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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September 25th, 2014 Movie – The Devil’s Rejects

devils rejects

Rob Zombie. Front man and lead singer for the metal band White Zombie. So when he decided to take a break from making music and try his hand at directing, was it really a surprise that his first movie would be a horror film. Man, it’s been a while since I have seen House Of 1000 Corpses. I should probably try to rent it or maybe go ahead and buy it. But for now, I will settle for watching Rob Zombie’s second film, The Devil’s Rejects.

The plot: Texas Sheriff John Wydell leads a posse of state troopers on a raid on the house of the Firefly family (introduced in House Of 1000 Corpses). One family member is killed in the shootout, Mother Firefly is captured, and Otis and Baby manage to escape. Baby calls the family patriarch, Captain Spaulding, and warns him that the police are coming for him and they plan to meet up at a hotel. While waiting for their father, Otis and Baby kidnap and kill a group of singers. Finally the trio reunite and head out to meet Spaulding’s brother Charlie where they plan to hide out. But Sheriff Wydell plans on hunting the family down and killing every member as revenge for the death of his brother.

So after making their money back on House Of 1000 Corpses, Lions Gate wanted Rob Zombie to direct another movie. Zombie had already been considering a follow-up movie involving the Firefly family so now he had the go ahead. It got mixed reviews from the critics with some applauding Zombie’s storytelling and characters and some saying it had no depth and the characters were undeveloped. Personally, I thought this movie showed Zombie’s ability to mature in his directing and storytelling ability. Yes, there was some blood/gore, nudity, and lots of cussing, but this is a horror movie, what do you expect.

I liked the first movie but I loved this one. I thought the slow pace helped develop the story more. It honestly felt more like a really violent western or a biker/gang movie than an actual horror movie. While the main focus was on 4 characters, there were two people that really stood out in my opinion. Sid Haig was hilarious in this movie, having several scenes and lines that had me cracking up. William Forsyth did a great job as Sheriff Wydell, showing the difficulties he had walking the thin line between justice and revenge.

So if you liked Rob Zombie’s first movie, or you want to see a new take on a horror movie, then you will love this movie.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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September 24th, 2014 Movie – The Devil’s Hand

the devil's hand

If a movie is on multiple DVD collections, does that really mean it is worth watching? At the very least, it means that it falls into a variety of categories in order to be included in different collections. But does that mean the movie is good? With these collections, odds are that the movie isn’t necessarily good, but may be worth watching. Today’s movie, The Devil’s Hand, is on two collections that I own and is actually worth watching.

The plot: Rick Turner is having nightmares of a beautiful blond women dancing in the sky. One day he is drawn to a mysterious doll shop. When he returns the next day with his fiance Donna, they see a doll that looks just like Donna, however the shop owner gives him a doll that looks just like the woman in his dreams. Rick goes looking for the woman, Bianca Milan, who manages to seduce him and convinces him to join a cult that worships Gamba, the Devil God of Evil. Meanwhile Donna’s health is threatened by the shop owner and Bianca. Will Rick stay under the influence of the cult or can he free himself and save Donna’s life.

So this movie is on two collections that I own, Chilling Classics 50 Movie Pack and Gorehouse Greats collection. The movies in the Chilling Classics collection tend to mainly focus on the suspense side of horror. The ones from the Gorehouse Greats collection are a little more on the exploitative side. I can understand The Devil’s Hand being in the first set, not so much the second one.

This was a passable, but interesting movie to watch. Yes, it is low budget and fairly campy at times. I did think that they did use the practice of voodoo pretty effectively. I can’t really say that any of the characters stood out. I did like how the final scene really forced the main character to make a choice since all throughout the movie he was kind of a bland character.

Ok, I realize I’m not exactly selling the movie but it is worth a watch. And I should also not try and write blogs when I am half asleep.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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September 23rd, 2014 Movie – Devil Times Five

devil times five

So when people make a horror movie, mainly the slasher style movies, they almost always try to make the killer be scary. They want the audience to be scared of the killer so that it makes the movie more effective. But to me, a more effective tool is the creepiness of the killer. If the killer is so creepy that he makes you uncomfortable to watch, that tends to leave a more lasting impression of the character. And for some of the creepiest killers, you have to look at the child killers, as in the kids are the ones doing the killing. Today’s movie, Devil Times Five, has five such kids to terrorize the audience.

The plot: A van crashes down a snowy hillside and five children being transported to a psychiatric institute manage to crawl from the wreckage, followed soon after by the doctor in charge of them. The kids manage to make their way to the winter home of a wealthy business man, who is vacationing there with his friends. The first thing the kids do is kill their doctor, then they begin to kill off the other adults. By the time the remaining adults figure out what is going on, it might be too late for them make it out alive.

I don’t know why it is, but when the killer is a child, it just ups the creep factor for me. Maybe it’s the fact that children are supposed to be innocent so you don’t expect them to be plunging a knife into your neck. Even back in the 60’s when you had films like Village Of The Damned and Children Of The Damned, the children doing all the killings were just plain creepy. Now granted, with a lot of those movies, there was usually a supernatural or paranormal explanation as to why the kids started killing people. With this movie, there is no unnatural cause as to why these kids are killing people, they are just simply sociopaths.

There wasn’t anything exceptional about this movie. The adults were pretty forgettable in their roles, the main stars were really the kids, and what a collection of kids they were. You had one kid that acted like she was a nun, one kid acting like he was in the military, and one kid was a pyromaniac. They played the roles well of acting like scared children when they first ran into the adults but once they decided to start killing them, the gloves came off.

So if you want to see some creepy kids on a killing spree, then you can give this a watch.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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September 22nd, 2014 Movie – Despicable Me 2

despicable me 2

Ok. So we all know that sequels tend to be worse than the originals, but what about animated movies. Do animated movies tend to follow that trend? I think it is hit or miss. Disney released some direct to video sequels to some of their more popular movies in the 90’s that were not as good as the originals, some of them were quite bad. However, sequels that were released in theaters, such as Toy Story 2, were as good or even better than the first movie. Despicable Me 2 definitely falls into the second category.

The plot: Gru has given up being a super-villain in order to be a good father to his adopted daughters. However, when a mysterious craft steals an secret lab in the Arctic Circle, the Anti-Villain League recruits Gru to help find the people responsible. Partnered with a rather eccentric agent named Lucy Wilde, Gru goes undercover at the mall to try and locate the experimental mutagen that was stolen. While dealing with his attraction to Lucy and being overly protective of his girls, Gru fails to notice that someone is stealing his minions to be used for someone’s evil purpose.

So when Despicable Me came out, it was one of the most successful animated movies to come out. When Despicable Me 2 came out, it left the first movie in it’s dust. Despicable Me 2 had mostly positive reviews and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (it lost both to Disney’s Frozen). It grossed over 970 million dollars worldwide off of it’s 76 million. It was the second highest grossing animated film of 2013, the third highest grossing film of 2013 and the most profitable film in the history of Universal Studios. I’m pretty sure that spells success no matter how you look at it.

It’s hard to say which one I liked better because I love both of these movies. This had a great, feel-good story just like the first one did. There were just as many memorable scenes and lines in this film as there were in the first. Once again, the Minions kind of stole the show for me, in fact, they were part of the main plot. I did like how it focused on Gru, as a single parent, trying his best to raise three girls. It showed how, while not necessarily what he wants to do, he would make choices and decisions all for the sake of his daughters.

So if you loved the first movie, you will love this one too.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Flashback Review: January 12th, 2014 Movie – 007: For Your Eyes Only

007 for your eyes only

I have no way of verifying this, but I like to think that this was the conversation the higher ups had between Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only. “Ok, I admit that was a little much with the laser battle in space. Maybe we should tone it down a little.” “What, you mean make a more realistic Bond movie?” “Exactly.” That is what I like to think happened, Anyways, this is the halfway point for the bond series as we watch the 12th movie, For Your Eyes Only.

The plot: A British spy boat that contains the ATAC, the system used to communicate with all the subs in the Royal Navy’s fleet, has been sunk. Bond is tasked to retrieve the transmitter before the Soviets as the system could be used to order attacks from the fleet of subs. Bond meets a variety of people in his quest including Melina Havelock, whose parents were murdered by one of Bond’s suspects. With murderers and double crosses all around them, Bond and Melina work together to try and find the ATAC before it falls into Soviet hands.

When this film came out, it was met with mixed reviews by critics, but that did not stop it from being financially successful. It made 195 million dollars worldwide, making it the 2nd most successful behind it’s predecessor, Moonraker. Aside from all the monetary aspects of the film, this film was also the end of an era in a way. This was the last film released solely by United Artists as the studio merged with MGM so all future releases were released as MGM/UA productions.

I was rather impressed with this movie. The action wasn’t as over the top which was good as I prefer a little bit of realism in my Bond movies. I liked all the intrigue with all the characters as it keeps you guessing who is an ally and who is an enemy. It makes sense, from a spy point of view, as Bond would never really know who his allies are because other people’s loyalties could change at any moment for any number of reasons. Roger Moore had a solid performance with this film. The only problem I had was the opening scene with Roger Moore.

At the beginning of the movie, Bond is visiting his wife’s grave when a helicopter picks him up. It then cuts to a man in a wheelchair, petting a white cat, who manages to take over the helicopter by remote control in an attempt to kill Bond. Bond manages to regain control of the helicopter, snag the wheelchair with the landing strut, and drop the man into a large factory smokestack. Now this man was supposed to be Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE and the man responsible for the death of Bond’s wife. However, since the whole lawsuit over the rights to the character, he has not been used since Diamonds Are Forever as the producers wanted to break away from the past movies when Roger Moore took over. Hence the reason you never see the man’s face or hear his name mentioned. But any fan of the Bond series knew who it was supposed to be. It just made little sense as to why they put that scene in there unless they just wanted to give the metaphorical finger to McClory by killing off the character. For whatever reason, I thought the scene, while somewhat entertaining, was rather stupid.

So if you want a more realistic Bond than the last film, then you are watching the right movie.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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