horror, movie, movie review, mystery, sci-fi

May 24th, 2017 Movie – Ringu 2

ringu 2

So when the original Ringu came out, Rasen came out at the same time. However, while Ringu was a massive success, Rasen was considered a flop so a new sequel was planned. However, instead of basing it off the novels like Rasen was, they decided to base it off the first movie. This idea worked as this would become one of the biggest box office hits of 1999. So lets see just how good of a movie it is as I watch today’s movie, Ringu 2.

The plot: After the events of Ringu, Takaishi Yamamura is brought to the police morgue to identify Sadako’s body, though he say he will not be able to as he hasn’t seen her in 30 years. As he gets upset over the situation, the detective informs him that though the well was sealed up after the place was sold, Sadako only died 1-2 years ago. Meanwhile, the police are searching for Reiko Asakawa after the strange deaths of her ex-husband Ryuji Takayama and her father. As her friend Okazaki, another reporter, reviews some of the footage Reiko shot about the “cursed tape” with their producer, they are approached by Mai Takano, Ryuji’s assistant at the university, who is looking for Reiko. Okazaki and Mai go to Reiko’s apartment and find the remains of a burnt video tape in the bathtub and Mai has a vision of asking for her father to forgive her but she had to save Yoichi’s life. Thinking of Yoichi, Okazaki goes looking for a picture of him so they can check his school but stops when he sees a family photo and all of the faces are blurred out. Meanwhile, Detective Omuta arrives at the house of Reiko’s father and notices the two VCRs hooked up in order to copy a tape, as well as a note from Reiko. As Mai waits outside Yoichi’s school, she sees an image of Yoichi trying to talk to her but he soon vanishes as Okazaki returns and says that Yoichi hasn’t been there in over a week. That night, Omuta goes to see Mai and asks her about Ryuji’s death but as he discusses everything with her, Mai gets upset and asks him to leave. The next day, Mai is riding the train and sees Reiko and Toichi heading towards Ryuji’s apartment but is unable to get off the train in time. Okazaki is interviewing a high school student, Kanae Sawaguchi, about the cursed tape and asks if she can get him a copy but before she responds, he sees Mai outside the window and leaves to speak with her, telling his cameraman to get the tape. Okazaki tells Mai about 4 kids who died at the same time after watching the tape, mentioning that one of them, Tomoko, was Reiko’s niece. He then says that another girl, Masami Kurahashi, was with Tomoko when she died and has been mute and institutionalized at the university’s hospital ever since. They head to the hospital and speak with Masami’s doctor, Ishi Kawajiri, and he shows them the photos they took of Masami when she was admitted and they see a strange mist floating next to her, covering her right eye. Kawajiri explains that it is an example of spirit photography and as he continues explaining it to Okazaki, Mai leaves the office and heads towards the common area. She sees a nurse walking Masami towards the room, using a screen to shield her from the TV but when the nurse stops, Masami enters the room and stares at the TV. Suddenly, the picture changes and shows Sadako climbing out of the well, which frightens all of the other patients and causes them to cry out and collapse to the floor in fear. As the doctors rush to check on them, Mai checks on Masami but when she touches her, she sees what Masami witnessed when Tomoko died. The next day, Mai is able to track down Yoichi and Reiko and questions them about the tape and Ryuji’s death and Reiko explains that Yoichi has been mute ever since his father died. When Mai admits that Yoichi has been telepathically contacting her, Reiko says that his psychic abilities have intensified since Ryuji’s death and wants to see if Kawajiri might be able to help her. Meanwhile, Kanae shows up at Okazaki’s work and hands him a copy of the tape and says that she watched it and asks that he watch it but after she leaves, Okazaki puts the tape in his desk. Mai, Okazaki, and Omuta head to the hospital, where Kawajiri is attempting to purge the psychic energy that has been building up in Masami’s mind by projecting it onto a blank tape. However, the tape starts to show the recording of the cursed tape and the well and when Masami ends up dying, Mai smashes the monitor and destroys the video tape before fainting. Okazaki returns to the office, where he is told that Kanae has been trying to call him, and he gives her a call and lies to her about watching the tape before hanging up, then locks the tape back in his desk. When Mai comes too, Omuta and Kawajiri show her an article about the failed experiment involving Sadako’s mother and Omuta demands that she tell him where Reiko and Yoichi are hiding. When he gets word of Kanae dying, Omuta takes Mai with him to see the body and she reluctantly tells them where to find them. As the two are taken to the police station, Mai learns that they will be separated and telepathically warns Yoichi to run. Yoichi runs to Reiko, then uses his powers to stop Omuta and another officer from following them but when they get outside, Reiko ends up getting struck by a truck. As Mai goes to comfort Yoichi, Yoichi starts to use his powers to attack Omuta but Mai gets him to stop. Meanwhile, Okazaki is trying to erase his interview of Kanae but it won’t erase and as he watches, the footage changes and Kanae’s spirit appears and stares accusingly at him. Mai and Yoichi travel to Oshima island while Takaishi, who is also heading back to the island with Sadako’s coffin, asks Sadako why he kept him alive when he is the one to turn her and her mother into freaks and proceeds to give her a burial at sea. On the island, Mai and Yoichi stay at the Yamamura Inn and after putting Yoichi in bed, Mai steps outside and sees Takaichi sitting at the nearby water’s edge. He tells her that he put Sadako back in the sea and takes her to a small family shrine in a nearby cove. Meanwhile, Kawajiri appears at the inn and asks for Mai but when he is told that she is not there, he asks for his own room when he notices the lights starting to flicker. Mai rushes in and heads upstairs and Kawajiri follows but they stop when they see the ghosts of a young Sadako and her mother, Shizuro, appear. Mai is able to ward off the ghosts, then goes to check on Yoichi, who had been having a nightmare, which summoned the ghosts. Kawajiri believes it that Yoichi somehow absorbed Sadako’s anger when he watched the tape and he is unable to control it, which coupled with his psychic abilities,is causing the ghosts to appear. He decides to do an experiment to exorcise Yoichi’s psychis powers and drain the energy into a pool, where the water will neutralize the energy. Kawajiri hooks Yoichi up to his equipment and has Mai act as a conduit to expel Sadako’s anger but as the experiment proceeds, Mai, Kawajiri, and Takaishi begin seeing into the spirit world. Takaishi sees Sakado’s coffin and, asking Sadako to take him, walks into the pool and drowns while Kawajiri jumps into the pool holding a bunch of electrical equipment, killing himself. Mai grabs Yoichi and they both fall into the water but when they come too, they find themselves inside the well. As they struggle to climb out, Yoichi falls into the water and Mai jumps in after him but can’t find him. Suddenly, the opening is uncovered and a rope drops down, then Ryuji appears holding Yoichi. Ryuji tells Yoichi to give him his fear, then tells Mai to take Yoichi and use the rope to escape the well and not look down. Mai begins climbing the rope but looks down and sees Sadako’s spirit appear and start climbing the side of the well after them. Mai screams for help just as Sadako grabs the rope next to her and asks “Why were you the only one saved”, then falls back down into the water. Mai continues climbing and as the reach the surface of the well, they find themselves emerging in the pool. Climbing out of the water, the asks each other if they are ok and they admit they are both not really afraid anymore. Meanwhile, Okazaki has been institutionalized and when the nurse takes his picture, she notices something in it that shocks her as it is shown that Kanae’s spirit is behind Okazaki, tormenting him for letting her die.

This was a pretty good movie. The acting was good, with Miki Nakatani (Mai) doing a great job as the lead. The story was good, picking up where the first movie ended, and doing a good job of continuing the story. I honestly liked how they took the pure supernatural nature of the story and added the psychic aspect to it, as it made for a nice twist to the story and mixed well with the supernatural story. The special effects and camera work were very well done, making for a very suspenseful viewing experience that did it’s job in sucking you in. I’m sure it is a worthy sequel but on it’s own merits, this is still a good movie that is worth watching.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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drama, fantasy, horror, movie, movie review, Uncategorized

May 23rd, 2017 Movie – Rasen

rasen

Ok, now this is a perfect example of me completely falling asleep on the job. Back in the dying days of Blockbuster, I was buying dozens of movies for cheap at the nearby stores. Well, one day I noticed that they had almost all of the Ring movies, both the Japanese and American remakes, and decided to purchase them. Key word there is ALMOST. See, the one movie that the did not have was Ringu, the original Japanese version of The Ring (2002). No worries though, I said to myself, I will simply find it somewhere else or buy it online. Obviously, I never actually got around to doing that which is why I end up watching the original sequel to that movie today. Well, time to stop kicking myself for being a procrastinator and watch today’s movie, Rasen.

The plot: Mitsuo Ando, suffering from his own bout of depression, receives a phone call telling him that Ryuji Takayama, a friend from medical school, is dead and he is to perform an autopsy on the body. When Ando arrives at work, he finds several police there discussing the matter and how there are no signs of foul play but no sign as to why he died either. Ando performs the autopsy but as it is nearly finished, he has a vision of Ryuji’s body suddenly sitting up and commenting about how Ando can’t even slit his own wrists but he can cut up his body. As Ando is washing off after the autopsy, one of his assistants hands him a note that was found inside Ryuji’s stomach. Ando speaks with the detective assigned to the case, who tells him about Ryuji having reconnected with his ex-wife Reiko Asakawa but the day Ryuji died, she disappeared along with their son Yoichi. The detective has Ando try and speak with Ryuji’s girlfriend, Mai Takano, and Ando asks her some questions concerning Ryuji’s health before he died. When the detective starts asking her questions, Mai ends up fainting and wakes up to find Ando looking after her. The two talk and Mai says that Ryuji had mentioned Ando before and talked about how they came up with coded messages during med school. She mentions the video and then says that Ryuji told her that only Ando could figure out what is going on. Mai heads back to Ryuji’s apartment, where she has a vision of how Ryuji died as well as a flashback to when she found him and she breaks down and cries over the chalk outline left in the floor. The next day, Ando is discussing the case with his boss when they receive a phone call from the police saying that they found Reiko and Yoichi, as she had been involved in a car crash. When Ando and his boss show up at the scene, the detective tells him that it appears that Yoichi was already dead before the crash occurred. When a man, Yoshino, photographs the inside of the car, the detective yells at him and Yoshino explains that he was Reiko’s boss and points out a smashed video deck in the car, which draws Ando’s interest. Later, Ando is talking to Mai about the crash and she talks about how Ryuji was acting before he died. Yoshino shows up at the med school to speak to Ando and shows him Reiko’s diary, which describes a video tape that somehow kills people. Reiko first heard about it when 4 people watched the tape and then all died a week later from heart attacks. She went and found the tape and learned of Sadako Yamamura, the young woman that is on the tape. Yoshino says that Reiko believed if you made a copy of the tape and showed it to someone else, then you would be spared from the tape’s curse. Yoshino then hands Ando the dub of the tape that he found in Reiko’s apartment and hands it to him, saying it is a present. When Ando gets home, he works on trying to decipher the coded message that was found in Ryuji’s stomach and realizes it spells present. Figuring it means the tape, Ando watches it and ends up being visited by Sadako’s spirit and he quickly smashes the tape. The next day, he goes to see Yoshino and tells him not to report on Sadako and tells him to give him the copy of the tape that he made so that he can destroy it, so that he will be the last victim but Yoshino refuses and Ando ends up being knocked unconscious when he tries to attack Yoshino for the tape. Ando talks to Mai and says he believes Ryuji knew this would happen and he would ensure all of the copies of the tape were destroyed after he got what he wanted. When Mai asks what he means, he tells her about his son dying and how he wanted to kill himself but keeps chickening out so by watching the tape, he will get his wish but Mai says that Ryuji wouldn’t have wanted that. Ando goes to see Yoshino at his home and sees pictures of scenes from the tape and accuses Yoshino of watching it. Yoshino swears he didn’t and hands Ando the diary and the copy of the tape he had but as he heads to his room, he collapses to the floor. Ando checks on him and determines he is dead, just as Mai shows up and Ando quickly ushers her out of the room. Ando smashes the tape and says that he will be the curse’s last victim and Mai tries to console him as he admits that he is afraid of dying. Ando and Mai end up having sex and afterwards, Ando asks if Mai will stay with him when he dies but she tells him she is too scared. Ando then decides to figure out what the curse could actually be and thinks it could be smallpox, as there was a smallpox clinic in the area where Sadako was killed, and has some cultures taken from him to see if he has it. Meanwhile, Mai wakes up feeling sick and heads to her bathroom to vomit but when she looks in the mirror, she sees Sadako standing behind her and when Ando goes to see Mai later, she has vanished. The next day, Ando gets the results back from his cultures and is told that he shows no sign of the virus, but Ando notices that his friend Miyashita, is coughing much like Yoshino was. Ando sees Mai in the lobby and the two sneak off to a stairway to make out but Ando is shocked when Mai licks him much like Sadako did in his dream. When a body is fished out of an air shaft, Ando is called to the hospital and sees that it is Mai. The detective tells him that it looked like she had just given birth but there was no sign of the baby. As Ando heads back to his car, Miyashita approaches him, showing signs of infection, and says the diary also contains the virus, as both he and Yoshino never saw the video, and asks Ando how he cured himself but Ando says he didn’t do anything. Ando heads to the office to find the Mai look-a-like retrieving Reiko’s diary from his desk. She reveals herself to be Sadako, reborn when he had sex with Mai and explains how this came to be. She then tells Ando that the same process that allowed her to be reborn could let him bring his son back as well. Ando gets Miyashita to help him, though Miyashita says they are basically selling out the world to Sadako. Some time later, Ando is on the beach with his son when he is approached by Ryuji and Mai/Sadako. Ryuji says that Reiko’s diary is being turned into a novel and the virus will spread all over the world and after they leave, Ando feels guilty about what he did but chooses to accept it as he stares out into the ocean with his son.

Since I have not seen the original movie, I honestly can’t say how good of a sequel this is. On it’s own merits, this is a little weird and not quite what I expected. The acting was ok, with Koichi Sato (Ando) and Miki Nakatani (Mai) doing good jobs in their roles. The story was a bit confusing and tried to make this less of a supernatural horror movie and more of a medical/science style movie instead. From what I read, this is supposed to be closer to the book it is based on but it still just made it feel boring. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects but the camera work in the movie did a good job of giving this a more suspenseful tone than expected. A decent movie but definitely confusing and really serves to make me watch the first movie that much more.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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drama, Hitchcock, movie, movie review, romance, silent movie, sports

May 22nd, 2017 Movie – The Ring (1927)

the ring 1927

Two old school Hitchcock movies in a row. This is a great start to the week. So this is another of his early silent movies that had never heard of before. So this is going to be a little interesting for me because while I enjoy watching sports, I don’t necessarily like watching sports movies. Obviously there are some exceptions to that but in general, sports movies just don’t really hold my interest. So let’s see how this one does as I watch today’s movie, The Ring (1927).

The plot: A man and his friend are walking along the grounds of a fair when they approach a tent where the barker is challenging members of the crowd to compete in a boxing match with the athletes. As the barker is promoting the talents of “One Round” Jack Sanders, the man becomes infatuated with the ticket girl, Mabel, and begins flirting with her. When Jack notices this, he challenges the man to be one of the fighters and the man agrees. Inside the tent, Jack easily defeats his first two opponents and then proceeds to fight the man, but the man is more of a challenge than Jack expected. When the fight last longer than one round, Mabel, who was watching the fight through a flap in the tent, informs the barker and he begins selling more tickets for people to watch it. The man eventually beats Jack and he leaves with his friend but as he starts flirting with Mabel again, she is upset because Jack and her were going to get married but Jack might have lost his job after he lost. The man’s friend hands her a card, revealing his name to be James Ware and that the man is the World Heavyweight Champion boxer Bob Corby, whom he manages. James and Bob approach Jack later that night as Mabel tends to his wounds and James offers Jack a job in becoming Bob’s sparring partner providing he win a trial fight. As they are talking, Bob continues flirting with Mabel and she leads him outside the tent, as some people were staring at them. Outside, they walk behind a trailer and Bob gives her a bracelet that he bought from the prize money as a gift. Mabel give his a quick peck as thanks but Bob kisses her again and she allows it but then reluctantly breaks it off when she notices Jack and James looking for them. As they are saying their goodbyes, Mabel does her best to keep the bracelet covered up, though Bob sees this and sneakily tries to get her to reveal it to Jack. After they leave, Mabel goes to the fortune teller’s tent and asks to have her fortune read but Jack shows up and believes the fortune is about him. The next day, Jack is washing his face in the pond behind his trailer and Mabel goes to talk to him when the bracelet falls off her arm and into the pond. When Jack retrieves it, he questions her about it and she admits that Bob bought it for her because he didn’t want to take their money. Later that day, Mabel receives a telegram from Jack stating that he won his fight and he would meet her at the church the next day so they can get married. Jack and Mabel get married, though Mabel appears a little reluctant to do so and at the reception, Bob, who had attended the wedding, jokes about wishing Mabel was the prize in their fight. Jack says he will fight any man to defend his wife’s honor and an exhibition match is arranged, which Bob ends up winning. Jack notices Mabel flirting and gets upset but his trainer has him take out his frustrations on the punching bag. Later, Jack tells James he wants to challenge Bob for the championship but James says that he is too far down on the list of contenders and will need to work his way up. Jack begins winning his fights and at a party at James’ house, James informs Jack that if he wins his next fight, he will be the #1 contender for Bob’s title. Jack worries about leaving Mabel alone while he goes to the fight, as he fears she is having an affair with Bob, but James says that he was doing this for her and to trust that she will be there for him. Jack wins his fight and afterwards, sees the barker and some of his friends from the fair were there to watch the fight. As the talk about the upcoming fight with Bob, Jack invites them back to his house to celebrate his win and surprise Mabel. When they get there, they find that Mabel is out and Jack pours some champagne, saying she should be back soon and they will drink when she gets there. As it gets late and Mabel still doesn’t show, their friends say their goodbyes and leave while Jack waits up for Mabel to return. Looking out the window, Jack sees Mabel getting out of Bob’s car and when she enters the apartment, they end up getting into an argument over her affections towards Bob. Jack then heads to the club to confront Bob over his spending so much time with Mabel and when Bob tries to punch him, Jack blocks it and knocks Bob down, then tells James that Bob can try and get revenge in the ring. When Jack returns home, he finds that Mabel is gone, having left a note saying she is staying with people that know how to treat her. On the night of the big fight, Jack’s trainer and the barker notice Mabel heading into Bob’s dressing room and they decide not to tell Jack that she is there. As the fight is about to start, Jack keeps looking out into the crowd to see if he can catch sight of Mabel but he doesn’t see her. As the fight commences, Jack notices Mabel sitting in the front row in Bob’s corner and it distracts him to where Bob is able to get the upper hand. As the fight continues, Mabel begins to get worried about Jack and starts making her way over tho his side of the ring. During the rest period before the final round, Mabel manages to reach Jack’s corner and tells him she is there in his corner and when he sees her there, he gets a second wind and manages to knock out Bob, winning the championship. As Jack celebrates his win, Mabel apologizes to him and he accepts and as they hug, she sees Bob watching them in the corner and takes off the bracelet he gave her and leaves it on the ground, which Bob’s trainer returns to him after the fight.

The Ring (1927) received high praise from the critics, holding a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all seem to feel like this was one of Hitchcock’s best silent films, praising all of the visual nuances and symbols used to tell a compelling story. Out of all of the movies that Hitchcock made over the years, this is the only original screenplay that Hitchcock wrote himself, having collaborated with other writers for all of his other films. The movie was a success during it’s initial release but when it received a more general release, it was considered a failure.

I have to admit, this was a pretty good movie. The acting was good, with Carl Brisson (Jack), Lillian Hall-Davis (Mabel), and Ian Hunter (Bob) doing good jobs in their roles, though I also liked Gordon Harker, who made for some funny comedic breaks as Jack’s trainer. The story was very good, with the main three actors showing a lot of emotions to help showcase the drama of the situation. To be honest, some aspects of the story and fight, primarily the whole underdog aspect, kind of feel a little similar to Rocky and makes me wonder of this might have influenced Stallone a little when he wrote that movie. The fights and camera angles during them did look a little off at times and didn’t seem as clear as the rest of the movie but that could have been intentional. Regardless, this is a great movie in it’s own right and definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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comedy, Hitchcock, movie, movie review, romance, thriller

May 21st, 2017 Movie – Rich And Strange

rich and strange

Ahh, I do love starting the day with a Hitchcock movie. Once more I find myself watching an early Hitchcock movie from the Legends Of Horror box set and am reminded of just how much I have been enjoying this collection. The only bad thing about all of this, if you can call it that, is that it has really made me want to buy several of his more well known movies. Well, maybe I can work on that at another time but for now, I’m going to focus on today’s movie, Rich And Strange.

The plot: After a rough day where nothing seems to go right for him, Fred Hill returns home to his wife Emily. As the two start to argue over finances, they receive a telegram from Fred’s uncle, who has decided to give them an advance of their inheritance so that they may, in Fred’s words, enjoy life a little more. Fred quits his job and the two decide to go on a cruise but as they are crossing the English Channel to Paris, Fred ends up getting sea sick. While in Paris, they decide to attend a show at the Folies Bergère but Emily wants to leave when somebody pinches her on the butt so the end up at a bar, where they proceed to get drunk and when they finally make it back to their hotel, they end up falling asleep on the floor with their heads on the beds. The next day, they board the ship to head to the Orient but Fred once again feels sea sick and heads down to their cabin, leaving Emily alone on the deck. While on the deck, she ends up meeting Commander Gordon and starts a friendship with him but as they spend more time together, they end up getting closer and Gordon kisses Emily on the deck before she heads back to her cabin. When Fred starts feeling better and is able to move about the ship, he goes for a walk on the deck and meets a German princess, who apologizes to him when she accidentally hits him in the eye with a rope ring from one of the deck games. As the voyage continues, Fred and Emily end up spending more time with their new partners and less time with each other. As the boat makes a stop in Columbo, they all head ashore, and Fred and Emily both tell their new lovers that they intend to dissolve their marriage and start new lives with the princess and Gordon respectively. When the boat arrives in Singapore, Emily leaves with Gordon and heads to his house. Along the way, Gordon tells Emily that the princess is really a con artist who is merely after Fred’s money and Emily, feeling bad about the way things became with her husband, leaves Gordon and heads off to warn Fred. Emily heads to Fred’s hotel and tries to warn him about the princess but Fred doesn’t believe her. As the two start to argue over everything that has happened between them during the trip, Fred leaves Emily crying in his room while he goes to locate the princess. As she is sitting there, a telegram from Gordon is delivered to her, stating that he understands her reasoning to stay with her husband. Fred returns, saying that the princess had run off onto a train for Rangoon and he finds a note stating that she was a simple street walker whose father owned a laundry in Berlin. Realizing that the fake princess took most of Fred’s money, they use what little they have left to pay the hotel bill and then book passage on a tramp steamer in order to return home. During the journey, the ship strikes something in the middle of the night and as everyone aboard begins to abandon ship, Fred and Emily find themselves trapped in their cabin as they see the water rushing up over the porthole. As they await their watery end, Fred and Emily apologize for how they have acted. In the morning, Fred and Emily discover that they are still alive and Emily opens the porthole so that they can climb up onto the deck and see where they are. They head into a nearby cabin to find some clothes, unaware that water has now started seeping into their cabin through the open porthole. When a Chinese junk appears and the crew begin looting the steamer, Fred and Emily manage to board the junk and the crew feeds them and tends to leave them alone. Fred and Emily eventually manages to make it back to London but as they get reacquainted to being home, they start arguing in the same fashion that they were before the telegram had arrived some months earlier.

Rich And Strange met with mostly positive results from the critics, holding a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most people felt that while it wasn’t one of his better films, it did provide a mature exploration of wandering affections and romantic betrayal. The movie was not a commercial success and most of this is attributed to the lack of dialogue, as the dialogue only occurs for about a quarter of the movie, and that there were several hold overs from the silent film style, such as scene captions and exaggerated acting styles.

Not exactly what I would prefer in a Hitchcock movie but it wasn’t that bad. The acting was decent, with Henry Kendall (Fred) and Joan Barry (Emily) doing good jobs in their roles for the most part. The story was interesting, pointing out something that can happen to every married couple if they stop paying attention to each other and work on strengthening their relationship, but the the mix between periods of dialogue and non speaking scenes and events made it a little difficult to fully grasp what all was going on. There wasn’t really any special effects as the movie used dialogue and situations to help carry the plot. An interesting take on relationships as only Hitchcock could tell.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

May 20th, 2017 Movie – The Revenge Of Dr. X (a.k.a. Venus Flytrap)

the revenge of dr x

After almost a week of zombie movies, it’s nice to be able to watch something different every now and then. Now today I find myself watching a movie from the Chilling Classics box set. Man, it has been a while since I watched something from this collection. Yes, I know that it is my fault for buying all of those movies at Christmas but in all fairness, the last movie I watched from this set was back in September so it honestly has been a while. So lets see what type of movie I am getting today with The Revenge Of Doctor X.

The plot: At NASA, Dr. Bragan is approached by his assistant, Dr. Paul Nakamura, and told of an approaching storm system that might delay the launch of their rocket. Bragan gets upset but he receives a call that the storm is shifting, giving them the window they need to launch. After the launch, Dr. Shannon and Dr. Stanley speak with Paul before all three of them approach Bragan and tell him that there might be a miscalculation in their flight data. Bragan starts yelling at them to fix the problem when he suddenly collapses. Paul suggests to Bragan that he take a vacation as the rocket won’t reach it’s destination for a few months and recommends going to Japan and Bragan tells him that he was going to go there once when he was studying botany but the war occurred and his studies shifted towards mathematics. As Bragan leaves Nasa to head for the airport, he stops at a garage to have his car checked out and notices a venus fly trap in the garage owner’s snake farm. He asks if it is for sale and the owner says no but says there are plenty more in the swamp behind his shop if he would like one so Bragan heads out to collect one. When Bragan arrives in Japan, he is greeted by Paul’s cousin, Noriko Hanamura, who says she has arranged for his use of the local botany lab at the university. When Bragan says he would prefer to work in solitude, she takes him to an abandoned hotel her family owns, where the only other person there is a caretaker and his dog. Bragan says the place is perfect and begins setting up the greenhouse in the back for his work. Although he forbids Noriko from touching the box he carried with her, he eventually shows her the venus fly trap he brought and begins working with it. After being unable to sleep one night, he decides that the fly trap is too weak and decides to cross breed it with another plant. Bragan goes diving to try and find a Japanese carnivorous plant that grows at the bottom of the ocean but is unable to find it. Noriko suggest asking some local divers if they have seen it and when he shows them a picture of the plant, they say they have and show him where to find it. With the diver’s help, Bragan is able to obtain one of the plants and place it in a container to take back to the greenhouse. Bragan begins working on genetically combining the two plants, intending to create a new species of plant and when Noriko states that it is impossible, he yells that he doesn’t believe in impossible and neither should she if she wants to continue working with him. Bragan begins combining various parts of the venus fly trap and the Japanese plant together, then uses lightning from a storm to jump start their biology and successfully fuse them into a single organism. The next morning, Noriko tries talking to him but Bragan becomes cross and yells at her but later apologizes. That night, as it begins raining, Bragan removes the coth covering his creation , and Noriko and the caretaker are horrified to see the humanoid plant creature moving before them. Later that night, Bragan is staring at his creation, which is dying, and starts laughing maniacally before collapsing. Noriko and the caretaker find him and help him back to his chair and he says he is all right. As he questions why his creation is dying, Noriko suggests starting over but Bragan says he doesn’t have time, as he has to be back at NASA in a month. As they leave to get some sleep, the caretaker grabs the puppies his dog had given birth too but one of them manages to stay inside the greenhouse and the plant eats it. The next day, Bragan is shocked to find the plant is alive and healthy and, theorizing what might have caused it, tells the caretaker to capture any animal he can so they can feed it. When he considers feeding the plant one of the puppies, Noriko is horrified and grabs the puppy from him so Bragan kicks her out of the greenhouse. As Bragan studies the plant, he remarks on it’s similarities to humans and decides to leave and sneak into a hospital, and steal some blood from a patient there, but injures his hand in the process. Bragan injects the blood into the plant and then leaves for the night. The next day, the caretaker is messing around with the plant when it suddenly lunges out and grabs at his head. The caretaker manages to escape and tells Bragan and Noriko what happened and Noriko says the creature should be destroyed but Bragan says that the caretaker must have done something to it. Believing the creature might be able to move soon, Bragan has the caretaker help him plant it outside. That night, they are woken up when something happens to the caretaker’s dog and Noriko says the creature did it but when Bragan argues that it is to far away from where the dog is, they see that it has the dog’s collar in it’s mouth/hands. Bragan has the creature moved back into the greenhouse and he and Noriko keep watch over it but unknown to them, the creature begins emitting a pollen that renders them unconscious. The creature then leaves the greenhouse and heads down to the nearby village, where it kills a little girl and later, a farmer walking his cow. Bragan and Noriko wake and find the creature is gone and Bragan argues they have to find it but Noriko says they should warn the villagers since the creature is made from carnivorous plants. When they learn what happened, Bragan agrees that he has to kill his creation and tells Noriko to stay where she is and keep the villagers from following after him, arguing that he is the only one that can get close enough to it. Taking a baby goat with him, Bragan heads up to the volcano where the creature was last seen and calls out for it, saying he will lead it to safety. When the creature appears, Bragan attempts to lure it away but when the creature tries to grab at him, Noriko is shown to have followed after Bragan and screams in horror as Bragan and the creature both end up going over the edge and falling into the lava below.

Well, I definitely did not expect to be watching a bizarre remake of Frankenstein this morning. This was a rather bizarre and odd movie to watch. The acting was ok, with James Craig (Bragan) and Atsuko Rome (Noriko) doing good jobs in their roles. The story was a little bit of a mess, starting off incredibly boring to be honest and didn’t really get interesting until it was almost halfway over. Bragan passing out due to stress and his becoming more erratic and manic was an interesting. I did think the fact that the 4 divers they talked to on the beach happened to be topless women was a bit gratuitous and honestly felt like it was done just to try and keep people’s interest in the movie because the first part was so boring. The plant creature did look interesting and had a certain Frankenstein’s monster appeal to it, but personally, I liked that the cheap look of the suit kind of gave it that Kaiju feel to it. An interesting movie and worth watching for the second half so long as you can get through the first part without falling asleep.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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comedy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi, zombie movie

May 19th, 2017 Movie – Return Of The Living Dead: Rave To The Grave

return of the living dead rave to the grave

We have come to the final entry in the Return Of The Living Dead series. The movie was filmed right after Return Of The Living Dead: Necropolis and debuted on Sci-fi the same night as Necropolis. Now when this debuted on Sci-Fi, I actually did not manage to see it that night and it would actually wind up being several years later before I got a chance to watch it. So let’s see how this series ends with today’s movie, Return Of The Living Dead: Rave To The Grave.

The plot: One year after the events from the previous film, Charles Garrison meets up with some Russian government officials at a mortuary with the intent of selling one of the drums of Trioxin to them. The Russians want to test the Trioxin first and have Charles take the drum inside the mortuary, where the mortician has three bodies available. Charles attaches a hose and releases the gas onto one of the bodies but when it doesn’t appear to the work, one of the Russians thinks Charles is trying to trick them and uses the gas on the other bodies. As the bodies start to come to life, Charles is killed, along with the mortician and one of the agents, while the other two agents kill the zombies and leave. Julian, now a freshman at college, gets word of Charles’ death and heads to his uncle’s house to start cleaning out some of the stuff when he discovers a hidden room in the attic just as his girlfriend Jenny shows up. They enter the room and discover the two remaining drums of Trioxin and try to figure out what it is. They grab one of the drums and head over to a party that Jenny’s brother Jeremy to find Cody to get his help in figuring out what is inside. Meanwhile, the two Russians, who are actually Interpol Agents Aldo and Gino, break into Charles’ house and find the other drum but when they notice that there was another drum stored there that is now missing. Back at the college, Cody examines the liquid from the drum and says it’s chemical make-up is similar to ecstasy. Hearing that, Jeremy decides to dip his finger in the liquid and try some and Julian, Jenny, Cody, and Shelby watch as he starts to seize, then go into a catatonic state before quickly coming out of it. Julian tells Cody to disconnect the drum as he plans to get rid of it since they don’t know what that stuff is and Cody says he will in the morning as it is after 4am. When Julian and Jenny leave, Cody, Jeremy, and Shelby work on extracting more of the liquid and placing it in pills, which they then sell to Skeet, the local drug dealer, who begins selling them across campus. Cody and Julian see someone acting like Jeremy did when he tried the liquid and realize that Cody lied to them so they head back to the chemistry lab and chastise Cody for his recklessness. Julian takes the drum to the genetics lab, where Jenny plans on running some test on the liquid. That night,  two frat boys that bought some of the drugs, take too many pills and end up turning into zombies, then chase their fried through campus. Along the way, they end up scratching Becky as she is getting in the car with her boyfriend Artie and she ends up turning and killing her boyfriend as they are parked by a lake. As the two zombies continue to chase their friend, he is starting to feel the effects of the drugs himself and ends up running into a room where a band is practicing. The zombies kill the guitarist but the drummer stabs through the eyes with his drum sticks while the other kid decapitates the other zombie with a guitar. Aldo and Gino arrive at the crime scene and then go question Julian about Charles’ death and his house. Julian says he doesn’t know anything and closes the door but Aldo believes Julian is hiding something and tells Gino they will follow him. Julian leaves with Jeremy to help him set up for his rave that night and Jenny heads to the genetics lab to run tests on the liquid. At the rave site, Jeremy is complaining about a cough and Cody suggests seeing if Skeet has anything. They see him tripping nearby when suddenly a zombie Becky and Artie show up and try to attack him. The two are restrained by Jeremy and Cody and they have two stoners drive them to the emergency room. As they are driving along the highway, Becky and Artie get free and attack the stoners and Aldo and Gino use a bazooka to blow them up. Back at the genetics lab, Jenny places some of the liquid inside the water bottles for the lab rats, despite the objections of Brett, who ends up getting bit by his pet rat Mr. Sticky. While Jenny goes to her study group, Brett tries to open the canister but notices his bite looking infected so he leaves, not realizing the canister opens after he leaves. Brett goes to his dorm, where some friends are there and ends up attacking them, then the four students begin attacking some other students but Aldo and Gino arrive and begin shooting them. Meanwhile, Jenny returns to the lab to find the canister opened and calls Julian and Cody, who show up. When they see that the rats have all escaped, they work on finding them when Julian sees some zombies approaching. The three manage to kill the zombies but notice Tarman at the top of the stairs when Aldo and Gino show up and begin shooting at him, driving him off. When Cody admits to making using the liquid to make a drug to sell to Skeet, they all head to the rave to try and stop people from taking more Z and becoming zombies. Jenny heads up to the DJ booth to find Jeremy but he has already turned and tries attacking her but ends up falling out of the booth. As more people start turning and attacking people, Cody manages to save Shelby but he ends up getting killed by Skeet. Julian saves Jenny and she is forced to kill Jeremy when he attacks them. Aldo and Gino find the remaining pills on Skeet’s body, then call in reinforcements. As a helicopter arrives and begins firing into the crowd to kill the zombies, a missile is fired which kills everyone in the crowd. Julian and Jenny manage to get to safety before the missile hit and as they look around, they see Aldo, who suggests they leave before the military arrives. Meanwhile, Tarman is seen on the side of the highway with a sign reading “Rave or Bust” and when nobody picks him up, he begins walking along the highway towards where the rave is located, calling out “Brains” as he walks.

I am little conflicted regarding this movie. On the one hand, it felt like they tried to go back to some of the slapstick humor that made the first movie so much fun, but on the other hand, some of their attempts at humor just felt stupid. The acting was ok but John Keefe (Julian) still just felt to weak to be the male lead. The story was good and a pretty interesting way to showcase a new way of becoming zombies. The special effects were pretty decent and the comedy was good at times, with Claudiu Bleont (Aldo) and Sorin Cocis (Gino) making for some good comedy relief. Not the best way to end a series but it is a decent zombie movie to watch.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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comedy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi, zombie movie

May 18th, 2017 Movie – Return Of The Living Dead: Necropolis

return of the living dead necropolis

The perils of getting old and not keeping up with things like you used to. Once again, I came across a movie on TV that I honestly had no idea was even made. So while channel surfing years ago, I stopped on Syfy channel, back in the days where it was Sci-Fi and showed all sorts of awesome B-movies, and this movie happened to be on. I was surprised that I hadn’t heard this movie was being made and even more surprised that this movie had been intended to be released theatrically but an edited version wound up being released on Sci-fi early. So let’s see how things turned out with today’s movie, Return Of The Living Dead: Necropolis.

The plot: 10 year after the last zombie incident was dealt with, Charles Garrison is travelling to Chernobyl with some Russians, Boris and Nicholai. When they get there, the two Russians that accompany him take him to the heart of the facility, where three drums of Trioxin are being kept. Boris sends Nicholai upstairs to get the other three drums but when Nicholai reaches the room, he notices one of the drums has fallen over so he sets it upright but ends up with some of the Trioxin on his hands. When Boris goes to see what is taking Nicholai so long, he is attacked by Nicholai, who has been turned into a zombie. During their struggle, Boris’ gun is knocked from his hands and Charles picks it up just as Nicholai bites into Boris’ skull and kills him. When Nicholai turns his attention towards Charles, Charles shoots him in the head. Some time later, Julian and Jake “Pyro” Garrison are living with their uncle Charles after their parents died in a car crash. After school lets out, Julian and Pyro go hang out with some of Julian’s friends as they ride dirt bikes when one of them, Zeke, crashes after jumping a ramp and is taken away to a hospital due to his being unconscious. Meanwhile, Charles, working for a company called Hybra Tech, has been doing experiments with the Trioxin gas, reanimating a severed arm. As he continues experimenting with the gas, reanimating a corpse this time, some of the gas escapes through the pipes and ends up infecting a homeless man and a rat he was cooking, which attacks another homeless man as he is eating it. Julian heads to the hospital to check on Zeke but is told by the doctor that he suffered a reaction to the painkillers and died. Meanwhile, Zeke’s ex-girlfriend Katie works at Security for Hybra Tech and sees Zeke being brought to Hybra Tech and calls Julian to tell him. When Julian asks Charles about it, he lies about Zeke being there so Julian, Katie, Cody, Becky, Mimi, Carlos, and Darren work at a plan to break into Hybra Tech and rescue him, unaware that Pyro is watching them. Julian, Becky, Cody, Carlos, and Darren ride their dirt bikes through the sewer system and get into the building through the loading docks, taking out the two homeless men turned zombies on the way. Meanwhile, Katie disables the security cameras while Mimi distracts Hector, the other security guard. As Katie uses a radio to give them directions, the group make their way through the ventilation system when they discover that Pyro followed them. The group reach Charles’ lab, where Charles confronts them and denies knowing anything about Zeke but Carlos pulls a gun on him and forces him to show them where he is. As the make their way along the corridor, they ask about the zombies that are being kept there and Charles says it is part of their research. When they reach Zeke, Carlos is forced to shoot the lock to open the door, causing an alarm to go off. They manage to free Zeke and Cody discovers another room where Hybra Tech appears to be cloning their own zombies. Carlos tells Julian to ask Charles about his parents and when Julian presses him, Charles admits that Julian and Pyro’s parent’s bodies are at the facility. Charles manages to get away from the kids and the group goes to leave but Katie, while trying to shut off the alarms, accidentally releases the zombies from their enclosures. Darren is killed and Zeke is bitten as the group manage to escape, then arm themselves with some guns from a security room outside Charles’ lab. Meanwhile, Katie turns the cameras back on to see if she can find everyone and sees the zombies attacking people. She goes to get Mimi and Hector but as they are trying to leave, Hector and Mimi are killed by some zombies. Julian and the others are making their way through the ventilation system when a zombie tries to attack them through the grate and causes Julian, Cody, and Carlos to fall to the floor. After killing the zombie, they tell the others to go ahead and get out of there, then Julian says he is going to go find his parents and Cody and Carlos agree to help. Making their way towards the building his parents are in, Julian, Cody, and Carlos fend off the zombies but Carlos ends up getting killed by one of them. Meanwhile, Becky, Pyro, and Zeke make their way to the garage and manage to steal a car but as they are trying to escape from the zombies, Zeke succumbs to the bite and turns into a zombie and then tries to attack Becky, causing them to crash. Julian and Cody reach the bioweapons lab and discover that Julian’s parents have been turned into cybernetic zombie soldiers. When they leave the lab, they find themselves surrounded by zombies and make their way to the roof, where they use the ropes they brought to rappel down the building, but Charles heads into the lab and proceeds to activate Julian’s parents and sends them after the kids. When Julian and Cody reach the ground, the run from the zombies there but are suddenly confronted by a zombie Mimi and Hector. Julian grabs a gun from a fallen security guard and reluctantly goes to shoot her but the gun is empty. Before they are killed, Katie slams into Mimi and Hector with Humvee and yells at them to get inside, then takes off. Elsewhere, Becky and Pyro are trying to fend off the zombies when Zeke tries to attack Becky again but Pyro pushes her out of the way and ends up getting killed instead. When Zeke approaches her, Becky grabs Pyro’s homemade flamethrower and uses it to set Zeke on fire. Katie and the others show up and Julian is upset at seeing Pyro is dead but the others drag him into the truck and they drive off. As they go to leave, they encounter Julian’s father, who uses the twin gatling guns on his arms to shoot up the humvee. Becky uses a grenade she grabbed to blow up Julian’s father, seemingly killing him but as they run past, he is shown to still be moving. The group encounter Zeke and Julian’s mom, and Zeke attacks Julian while Julian’s mom attacks Cody and Becky. Becky manages to trick Julian’s mom into using her chainsaw hand to cut through a power line, causing her to electrocute her self while Julian pulls the pin on the grenade Zeke had with him, blowing him up. The police arrive and proceed to kill the remaining zombies at Hybra Tech, even Julian’s father when he gets up and attacks the kids again, but Katie was killed by Julian’s father. Later, Charles is seen leaving Hybra Tech with the Trioxin while a news caster reads a statement from Hybra Tech saying there was not a zombie outbreak but an accident occurred that did result in some deaths. As the newscaster turns it over to sports, a zombie suddenly attacks him as the camera cuts off.

All things considered, this wasn’t that bad of a movie. The acting was ok, with Peter Coyote doing a good job as Charles but John Keefe (Julian) just came off as weak and whiny. The story was interesting, keeping some aspects of the original series intact, mainly the Trioxin gas turning people into zombies and their craving brains, but some other aspects were off, mainly that the zombies appeared weaker and were able to be killed by chest shots as opposed to head shots only. The special effects honestly looked a little weaker than I expected but the zombie makeup was pretty good, especially with the burned Zeke zombie. The cyborg zombies of Julian’s parents were interesting but I honestly felt like they were trying to imitate Nemesis from Resident Evil: Apocalypse but it came across as cheap looking. It has some faults but it is a decent zombie movie at times.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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