dark comedy, horror, movie, movie review

June 30th, 2017 Movie – Santa’s Slay

santas slay

Ahh, a holiday themed B-movie that has been a long time favorite among my friends. So I am a long time wrestling fan and after Bill Goldberg left the WWE in 2004, this wound up being one of the first projects that he starred in. Now I was intrigued by the idea of this movie so I picked it up on DVD and was immediately hooked after the opening scene, which was ridiculously fantastic. When I had a holiday movie night a couple of years ago, I showed this movie to my friends and they all loved it just as much as I did. So let’s have some fun with today’s movie, Santa’s Slay.

The plot: On Christmas Eve, the Mason family is sitting down for dinner when their dog starts barking at the fireplace. Everyone is surprised to see Santa Claus come down the chimney and bursts through the fireplace and after saying that he is real, he proceeds to kill everyone there. That night, in the town of Hell’s Township, Nicolas Yuleson and his friend Mary “Mac” Mackenzie are working at Mr. Green’s sandwich shop and dealing with Mrs. Talbot, their cranky last customer of the night. After Mrs. Talbot leaves, she is swerving all over the road as she drives home when Santa, riding on his sleigh, is stuck behind her so he has his reindeer bump into her car, causing it to wreck. Back at the shop, Mr. Green gives Nicolas and Mac some Christmas gifts before sending them home and Mac offers to give Nicolas a ride, where they talk about how Nicolas’ grandpa doesn’t celebrate Christmas. When Nicolas gets home, he finds the house completely dark and goes down to the basement to check to power, where he surprises his Grandpa. Grandpa explains he was replacing the lights in the bunker, then shows a shocked Nicolas the bunker he built in the basement. Nicolas is worried that Grandpa might finally be going crazy but Grandpa says he knows what the people say but he would rather be safe than sorry. When Nicolas asks Grandpa the real reason why he hates Christmas, Grandpa heads upstairs and pulls an old book out of his safe. He begins reading to Nicolas about how there were two immaculate births; Jesus Christ and Santa, the child of Satan. Before Grandpa can finish the story, he is interrupted when Mac comes over, bringing a gift for Nicolas. Meanwhile, Pastor Timmons is holding a Christmas Eve service at the church but when it is over, he takes the money from the collection plate and heads to Gold Diggers, the local strip club. As Timmons heads inside, Santa arrives at the club and, after killing the doorman, heads inside and ends up killing the bouncer, bartender, and another patron that attacked him before heating up some coal and setting the place on fire, killing everyone inside except for Timmons, who had managed to escape during the fighting. Back at the Yuleson’s house, Grandpa says he is going to bed and when they are alone, Nicolas ends up insulting Mac’s family and she gets upset and leaves. Nicolas continues reading from the book of Claus and learns that Santa used to enact a Day of Slaying every year but when the people of Earth prayed for help, an angel was sent down. The angel, disguised as an old man, challenged Santa to a contest to see who could slide their stone across the frozen lake and get it closest to the opening in the lake without falling in. Santa goes first, managing to get his rock at the edge of the hole but when the old man takes his turn, his rock hit’s Santa’s, knocking it into the water and giving the old man the victory. As a result, Santa is now forced to give up the Day of Slaying for 1000 years and turn it into a Day of Joy instead. Nicolas sees that this occurred 1000 years ago and worries that Santa will be coming to kill people but after looking at the fake Santa tracker, and being told via their chat function that Santa isn’t real, Nicolas thinks Grandpa is just crazy and goes to sleep. The next day, Santa shows up at Mr. Green’s shop and kills Mr. Green then leaves, pausing as he notices a picture of Mr. Green with Nicolas and Grandpa. Nicolas goes to the gas station to get some gum when he hears on the police scanner about something happening at Mr. Green’s store and rushes there only to find Mr. Green pinned to the wall with his menorah. The police show up and Nicolas is taken to the station for questioning, where he tries to explain what is happening to Captain Caulk, but he doesn’t believe him and sends Nicolas away. As Mac shows up to pick up Nicolas and take him back home, Santa shows up at the police station and proceeds to kill all of the cops there, including Caulk. As they are driving to Nicolas’s home, Mac and Nicolas are pulled over but Nicolas realizes it is Santa and tells Mac to go, then shoots Santa with a shotgun when he manages to get on Mac’s truck. They make it to the house and tell Grandpa what is going on as he ushers them into the bunker. When some carolers show up at the house, Mac and Nicolas try to warn them away when Santa shows up and begins killing them. Mac and Nicolas ran back to the bunker as Santa breaks into the house and Grandpa has Mac grab a can with some secret keys inside, then leads them through a secret passage into the garage, where he has some snowmobiles ready to go. Santa sees Grandpa opening the garage from the bunkers monitors and goes out to confront him, distracting Grandpa long enough for Santa’s reindeer to run him over. Nicolas and Mac escape on the snowmobile but Santa chases after them, throwing exploding presents at them to try and kill them. As they try to make their way through the town, Santa follows and ends up grabbing Timmons. Nicolas and Mac break into the school to try and hide out until it is midnight at the North Pole. Santa follows them and chases them through the school into the hockey rink, where he tries to kill them with a zamboni. Suddenly, a glowing curling stone gets wedged under the zamboni, stopping it in it’s tracks, and Grandpa, revealed to be the angel that originally bested Santa, challenges Santa to another match. Santa sets the terms and Grandpa goes first but when it is Santa’s turn, he grabs Grandpa and slides him into the hole leading to Hell. Santa then goes to face Nicolas and Mac, just as Nicolas’s alarm goes off, signalling that it is midnight at the pole. Santa informs them that since all time zones converge at the poles, the actual time at the pole is discretionary, then launches a fireball at them but Nicolas uses a nutcracker to break open a chestnut, which disperses the fireball before lodging in Santa’s chest. Nicolas and Mac hear Grandpa calling for help and manage to drag him out of the hole while Santa escapes. Grandpa explains that he fell in love with Nicolas’ grandmother and gave up his powers to be with her, then tells them that Santa is powerless and they can stop him but he is unable to go with them. Nicolas and Mac head to where her brother and some other hunters are gathered and Nicolas signals for Santa’s reindeer, so the hunters can kill it. The reindeer is eventually killed by Mac’s dad, using his new bazooka, and Timmons body is found impaled on a flagpole where the sled crashed, causing people to believe he was the killer Santa. Nicolas chooses not to say anything, telling Mac that Christmas is over and Santa is gone so why should everyone live in fear. The two end up kissing while in Canada, Santa is seen getting a ticket to head to the North Pole.

This is not a “good” movie, as in one that will get rave critical reviews, but this is definitely an entertaining movie. Bill Goldberg made for a pretty intimidating Santa while Emilie de Ravin (Mac) and Robert Culp (Grandpa) were equally good, but I found Douglas Smith (Nicolas) to be rather annoying. There were a surprising amount of cameos in this movie that were all well done, some with bigger roles such as Dave Thomas (Timmons) and Saul Rubinek (Mr. Green), but the best was the opening scene, with Fran Drescher, James Caan, Chris Kattan, as part of the Mason family that gets killed in the first 5 minutes. The story was interesting, basically making Santa the Antichrist, which honestly kind of reminded me of an old Church Lady skit on SNL where Dana Carvey commented about how similar Satan and Santa were. The special effects were decent, though laughably bad at times. A lot of the kill scenes were pretty funny and as much as I love the opening scene for how funny it is (seriously, I can’t say enough on that scene), the scene in the strip club was also funny, such as when Santa went to grab the stripper pole to use as a weapon and he stops, makes a face, and proceeds to wipe it down first. A fun horror movie to watch when you get tired of all the holiday cheer.

Rating: 4 out of 5

comedy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

June 29th, 2017 Movie – Santa Claus Conquers The Martians

santa claus conquers the martians

A while back, one of my friends sent me a link to a list of 100 worst movies of all time and asked me if I had seen any of them. Going through the list, I said that not only have I seen many of them, but I actually own quite a few of them. Today’s movie is one of the movies from the list but I did not actively go out and purchase it, it just happened to be part of the Sci-Fi Classics box set. Now, let’s see if today’s movie, Santa Claus Conquers The Martians, is really as bad as people say it is.

The plot: Two Martian children, Bomar and Girmar, are watching a news report from Earth, where a reporter is up at Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole. The reporter heads inside and talks with Santa, who is busy making with the elves making toys, and Mrs. Claus and as they look through the workshop, they see one of the elves making a doll of what he believes a Martian looks like. Meanwhile, their father Kimar wakes up his assistant Dropo and asks where his wife, Momar, is and Dropo says that she went to the store to get some new food pills, as they haven’t been eating much recently. Kimar heads into the children’s room and tells them to stop watching the Earth programs and go to bed, finally having to use the sleep spray on them. When Momar returns, Kimar expresses his concern with the children, as they only want to watch the Earth programs. Gathering his council chiefs, Kimar heads to go see Chochem, an 800 year old Martian sage, to ask his advise but one of his chiefs, Voldar, is against the idea. Kimar explains what is happening to the Martian children to Chochem, who says he foresaw this happening centuries ago. Chochem tells them that the Martian children need to learn how to have fun again and that the only way for that to happen is for them to bring Santa Claus to Mars. Voldar is against the idea, saying that the Martian children are fine as they are, but Kimar orders a ship prepared and they fly to Earth. When they reach Earth, they try locating Santa Claus but see hundreds of men dressed like Santa Claus and decide to find some children and asks them to lead them to the real Santa Claus. After turning on their radar cloaking shield, they land at a lake and approach two children, Billy and Betty. Kimar asks them about Santa Claus and is told that he lives at the North Pole but Voldar says that they can’t leave the children behind to tell the authorities and Kimar reluctantly agrees and has the children brought with them. They head to the North Pole and make plans to use their robot, Togar, to kidnap Santa Claus but Billy and Betty overhear their plans. Billy secretly sabotages the radar shield, then he and Betty sneak out of the ship to go warn Santa. When the Martian’s learn of the children’s disappearance, Voldar goes looking for them, intending to kill them. The children see him and manage to hide, then escape from a polar bear but are soon caught by Togar. Voldar orders Togar to crush the children but Kimar, knowing Voldar would try something like this, programmed Togar to obey only him and orders the children released and taken back to the ship. Kimar and the Martians head to the workshop and send Togar inside but once it is inside, it stops following Kimar’s orders as it has become nothing more than a toy in Santa’s eyes. The Martians head inside and use their paralyzing ray on the elves and Mrs. Claus, then tell Santa he is coming with them. When news spreads of Santa’s abduction, the nations of the world combine their resources to send a team of astronauts in a rocket to chase after the Martians. When the Martians realize they are being followed, Voldar discovers Billy’s sabotage and decides to get rid of Santa and the children. He pretends to give them a tour of the ship and locks them in an air lock, then opens the door to outer space. Kimar catches him and the two begin to fight, with Kimar coming out on top, when Santa and the children appear behind them, laughing about the experience and Voldar is placed in a cell. When they arrive on Mars, Voldar manages to escape and hides in a cave with his assistants Stobo and Shim, where he makes plans to get rid of Santa Claus. Meanwhile, Kimar takes Billy, Betty, and Santa to his house and introduces them to Momar, Bomar, and Girmar. Kimar has a factory set up so that Santa can start making toys for the Martian children. Santa and all four children get to work with Dropo helping them but Billy and Betty appear to be growing more distant and Momar tells Kimar that he needs to send them back to Earth as they are homesick. After stopping their work in the shop one night, Santa shows the children the new coat that Momar made and Dropo asks to try it on but Santa says that he needs to fatten up first. Later that night, Dropo puts on Santa’s coat, using a pillow to give him the “extra padding” needed for it, as well as a fake beard and then decides to head back to the workshop to keep working. Meanwhile, Voldar, Stobo, and Shim head to the workshop to sabotage the machine and when they see Dropo enter, they mistake him for the real Santa and kidnap him. The next day, Santa and the kids notice the machine is not working right and tell Kimar, who believes Voldar is behind this. When Voldar and Stobo show up and start making demands, Kimar shows them that Santa is in the workshop and takes them prisoner but they manage to knock him out. Billy overhears their plans to attack Santa, and warns him so Santa comes up with a plan. When Voldar shows up, Billy and the other children begin attacking him with all of the toys, giving Kimar enough time to regain consciousness and recapture Voldar and Stobo. As Dropo rejoins the group, Santa tells Kimar that he doesn’t need to stay on Mars as they have a perfectly good Santa Claus in Dropo. Billy and Betty are given gifts from their Martian friends and they, along with Santa, say goodbye to their friends as they head back to Earth.

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians met with poor reviews from the critics, holding a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics mostly panned it but some found it enjoyable because of how bad it is. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians has made numerous “Worst Movie Ever” lists but it obtained a new level of cult status when it was spoofed on MST3K,  becoming a holiday staple on Comedy Central for years after it debuted. The movie is notable for being the first appearance of Mrs. Claus in a film, her next appearance being three weeks later when Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer premiered on television.

This is one of those movies that are absolutely terrible, you know it is terrible, and yet you enjoy watching it because it is so bad. The acting was so-so, with some actors, John Call (Santa) and Bill McCutcheon (Dropo) doing good jobs while Vincent Beck (Voldar) just seemed terrible, but I can’t say if it was him personally or the dialogue in the script. The story was actually pretty interesting, if a little hokey, and I think it would have been better if it had been made as an animated movie. The main reason that this movie makes so many lists is because of the bad special effects and camera work in the movie. Those aspects are incredibly bad; such as the lighting going bright to dark then bright again in some scenes. Still, I found myself laughing at how bad this stuff is, because of these aspects. This is not a good movie but it can be entertaining to watch.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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

June 28th, 2017 Movie – Sand Sharks

sand sharks

This is a fun movie for me to watch today for several reasons. On the one note, this movie stars Corin Nemec, which means we get to play “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Or Can He?” But another reason is because this type of movies is one of the reasons why the letter S is my second favorite letter for movie titles. Ever since I first saw Jaws, I have always loved shark themed movies and believe me, if you did not know this before, you will soon see proof of this in a few weeks. Anyways, I first heard of this movie on a B-movie blog and thought the idea sounded pretty neat, so I bought it as soon as it came out on DVD. Let’s see if that was a good purchase as I watch today’s movie, Sand Sharks.

The plot: Two guys are riding dirt bikes along the beach but when one of the guy’s bike’s stalls out, he is attacked by something in the sand. His friend turns back to go looking for him when he sees a fin moving through the sand and he quickly gets back on his bike and tries to escape but he ends up crashing down a sand dune and as he tries to crawl away, the sand shark grabs him and drags him through the sand towards the ocean. The next day, Jimmy Green heads to city hall and, after a brief run in with Sheriff John Stone, he goes in to see Mayor Greenburg, who happens to be his father, and he proposes an idea to hold an annual week-long festival called the Sandman Festival as a mean to help the town with it’s financial troubles. Meanwhile, John and his sister Brenda, who is also his deputy, are investigating the deaths of the two dirt bikers and argue about what could have happened. Brenda believes the wounds look like a shark bite and tries contacting Dr. Powers at the Pacific Marine Institute, who had helped them with a shark attack before, but he is not there so his daughter, Dr. Sandy Powers, offers to come take a look. Meanwhile, Jimmy meets with his assistants Willie and Erin, as well as Amanda, the representative for his investors, and takes them out to see the beach where the party will be held. As they are walking along the beach, they encounter John and Brenda, who used to date Jimmy, and when John learns that Jimmy is planning another party, he gets upset and says that 15 people died the last time he threw a party on the island. Suddenly a man that was riding on a boogie board along the water’s edge is killed by a sand shark and when his girlfriend yells and gets John and Brenda to help her, she is killed as well, causing John and Brenda to head back to the parking lot. Later that day, a town meeting is held to discuss what to do about the problem and the locals are upset about the beaches being closed, as they can’t afford to have another bad season. One of the locals, Angus McSorely, tells the crowd that he has seen the sand sharks and will kill them for $10,000, but the mayor dismisses him as being crazy. As John tells the people the meeting is over, Sandy, who had shown up during the meeting, introduces herself and after examining the recovered body parts, says that the wounds look like a shark attack but she can’t say for certain. That night, two men that are hunting the sharks are killed and only their hands are left, which Brenda and Sandy examine the next day. Sandy manages to find a tooth and when she shows it to John, says that not only does it appear to have come from a baby shark, though it is already bigger than any shark’s tooth she has ever seen, but it looks like the tooth from a prehistoric shark that her father had found. Meanwhile, Jimmy is upset that he can’t starting setting up his party on the beach and calls Sparky, his pyrotechnic’s man, and has him bring a dead shark that was used in a B-film to try and say that the killer shark was captured but Sandy is able to disprove their claims. That night, a sand shark chews through a power cord, blacking out part of the island and Brenda, Willie, Amanda head to Jimmy’s room, believing he had something to do with it. Brenda handcuffs Jimmy and takes him to the beach, where John has Sparky and his crew in custody. Meanwhile, Sandy is doing some tests on the beach when she sees a sand shark fin circling her. When the mayor shows up and questions what is going on, they notice Sandy and John heads towards her but she tells him to stop. They all see the fin starting to move towards John and Sandy pulls out her gun and fires into the sand next to the shark, causing it to change direction. Seeing this, Mayor Greenburg tells Jimmy that the party is cancelled until the sand shark is killed, as he has to ensure the safety of the citizens, but the sand shark kills him. When they see the sand shark heading down the beach, they realize it is heading towards Sparky, who had gone to fix the power, and Brenda and Jimmy try yelling out and warning him but the shark attacks him just as he connects the power, causing an explosion that kills the shark but also blacks out the island. The next day, Jimmy is getting things set up for the party and Brenda shows up to offer her condolences about his father. Meanwhile, Sandy is examining the body of the sand shark and tells John that it is just a newborn pup, which means the mother is still out there and probably looking for it. They go talk to Jimmy and try to get him to cancel the party but he says that he can’t, as thousands of kids are already on the beach, and since they have no proof that there is another shark, he won’t stop it but agrees to let them keep watch. As Jimmy is excited at seeing the party started, he is approached by Amanda, who begins kissing him but they are seen by Brenda, who gets upset and leaves. As Jimmy starts arguing with Amanda, another sand shark kills her and Jimmy doesn’t say anything to Willie and Erin when they show up until Erin sees Amanda’s head. Willie wants to tell the cops and cancel the party but Erin hits him over the head and tells Jimmy she will deal with him while he keeps the party going, but after Jimmy leaves, a second sand shark appears and Erin throws Willie’s body towards it as she hides in Jimmy’s trailer. The party continues on the beach but all of the vibrations attract the sand sharks, which begin attacking the crowd. John works on getting everyone off the beach, then goes to help Sandy, who is spreading synthetic chum spray to lure the sharks away from the crowd. Meanwhile, Brenda tries to get a drunken Jimmy off of the beach but ends up getting bit in half. Jimmy drags her up to her car, apologizing and saying he loves her but she tells him she hates him before dying. When John tries contacting Brenda, Jimmy answers and tells John that Brenda is dead and when he admits that he knew about the second shark, John says he plans on arresting Jimmy for what happened. Jimmy takes Brenda’s police car to try and leave but when John radios and says he needs Jimmy’s help, Jimmy tells John that the docks are crowded with people and that the ferry won’t get there until the next day. John tells Jimmy to get the people off the dock and Jimmy attempts to do so but is unable to get the people to leave until Angus shows up and helps him. Angus and Jimmy head to the police station and find John and Sandy there and Angus explains that he has a plan to kill the sand sharks. He takes them to a pit he excavated and explains that he knows how to kill the sharks but he needs something that burns at 2000 degrees. Jimmy says that Sparky has something that will do the trick and they decide to go with Angus’ plan, using Jimmy’s speakers to lure the sharks towards them. The plan appears to work but when the speakers stop playing, Jimmy goes out to check on them only to find that the wires are severed. With no other choice, and hoping to atone for his part in the tragedy, Jimmy begins loudly singing as he heads to the pit, then drops to the ground and makes sand angels, sacrificing himself in order to lure the sharks to the kill zone. Angus uses the napalm and a homemade flamethrower to melt the sand into glass, killing the sand sharks. As John, Sandy, and Angus start to celebrate, they see a giant fin moving on the cliff above just as the mother shark attacks and kills Angus. John and Sandy head towards Angus’ bunker but the shark bursts through the bunker floor and Sandy throws the napalm tank into the shark’s mouth as she and John escape out the window before the shark bites through the tank and explodes. Later that night, Erin leaves Jimmy’s trailer and answers a call from someone wanting to hire Jimmy to throw a beach party, but as she talks to the man, a sand shark leaps out of the sand to attack her.

NOOOOOO!!!!. Parker Lewis lost this time. Oh well, at 5-2-1, he still has a winning record. This is still a really fun movie to watch. The acting was a mixture of good (such as Corin Nemec (Jimmy)),  over-the-top (like Brooke Hogan (Sandy) and Robert Pike Daniel (Angus)), and too stiff (like Eric Scott Woods (John)) which was a fun blend of styles. The story was interesting and honestly I thought it was funny how many references to Jaws there were in this movie, such as the meeting with the town about closing the beaches (and the mayor saying only for one day despite John’s protests), Angus parodying Quint’s speech at the meeting, and even Sandy’s last line at the shark with the tank was a parody of Brody’s line before he kills the shark. On another note, I personally think that Brooke Hogan was the second worst casting for a scientist since Denise Richards played Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough but unlike that movie, this movie was not intended to be taken as seriously. The special effects were pretty good, though for the most part it just involved a fin moving through the sand. There were a few times that the actors would react too early before the shark would attack but I have seen far worse problems in B-Movies. Definitely a fun movie to watch and good for some laughs.

Rating: 4 out of 5

action, horror, Maneater series, movie, movie review, sci-fi

June 27th, 2017 Movie – Sand Serpents

sand serpents

Once again, I get to watch one of my favorite series of sci-fi/horror movies; the Maneater series. Now I will be honest, when I first heard the premise of this movie, my immediate thought was that this was some poor attempt at remaking Tremors. Now I know that this is not actually a remake but come on; giant prehistoric worms that hunt by sound/vibrations is sooo Tremors. Regardless, since this was one of the Maneater series, I was going to watch it and ended up buying it as part of a three pack of those movies. So let’s see how good today’s movie is as I watch Sand Serpents.

The plot: In Afghanistan, Lt. Richard Stanley and his team are escorting military observer Jan Henle through the desert towards a mine, which was under Taliban control a month ago but now appears deserted. As they check out the mine, they are suddenly ambushed by Taliban fighters and two of the team are killed while the others, Richard, Jan, Sgt. Wilson, and Privates Andrews, Eno, and Kaminsky, end up captured. The soldiers are blindfolded and tied up and as Richard tries to bargain with them, the Taliban ignore him and begin discussing what to do with the soldiers. Suddenly, an earthquake occurs and the Taliban fighters leave the Americans inside the building as they rush outside, and Richard and his group suddenly hear shooting, screaming, and a monstrous roaring sound. Eno manages to free herself, then Richard, and he goes to check outside while she frees the others. Outside, Richard finds that all of the Taliban, as well as the two bodies of his men, have all disappeared. The group spread out to search the area for any weapons, food, water, or radios they can use and while they are looking, Andrews thinks he see something moving but Eno and Jan think he just saw a mirage. Unable to find a radio, they decide to head to their rendezvous point for extraction and begin walking when they suddenly feel another earthquake. They see a helicopter coming but suddenly, a giant worm-like creature appears out of the ground, grabs the helicopter in it’s mouth, and destroys it. The soldiers head back to the mine and Wilson gets the worm to chase after him in order to give the others time to get back into the building, but he is killed before he can get inside himself. As they catch their breath and regroup, Richard tells them that the worms can feel the vibrations through the ground so they have to be quiet. Spotting a truck nearby, Eno tells Richard that she should be able to hot-wire it and they slowly make their way towards the truck. As the worm heads towards them again, Andrews, Jan, and Kaminsky race for the truck as Eno gets it started and they drive off. The group make their way down the road when suddenly, a little girl, Isla, runs in the road and waves them away and Eno swerves the truck to avoid hitting her, causing the truck to flip over and Eno’s legs end up pinned underneath the truck. Richard and Kaminsky try to free Eno as Amal, Isla’s father, explains that Isla was trying to warn them that the road ahead was mined. As the worms come towards them, Eno tells them to run for it and they reluctantly leave her behind to be eaten by the worms. Reaching the refugee camp, they find it mostly deserted and Amal explains that most of the people left and those that stayed are there because the Taliban took their sons. Richard and the others arm themselves with the weapons and explosives the Taliban left there while Jan checks on the radio. She tells them that she can’t fix it but might be able to use it to fix the one back at the mine Using a truck that Amal has there, Richard and the others head back to the mine, taking Amal and Isla with them as Amal wants to try and find his son in Kabul. Along the way, they learn that there are four worms and as they run on foot after the truck runs out of gas, Richard manages to kill on of them with a grenade. Back in the mine, Jan gets to work on the radio while the others stand guard but Andrews grows distrustful of Amal. Jan finally manages to get a signal and calls for an evac, which initially is denied but when she lies and says the mine was operational and she had some sapphires from it, the base commander says he will send a helicopter for them in 30 minutes. Suddenly, a grenade is tossed into the building by Taliban forces, critically injuring Kaminsky. Richard, Jan, and Andrews begin fighting them off and Andrews is shot in the arm but the worms show up, attracted by all of the explosions, and begin attacking and killing the Taliban. Richard and Jan try to tend to Kaminsky’s injury and Richard asks Amal if there is another way to get to the evac site. Amal says they can use the tunnels in the mountains to cut through and get there and Andrews says he is leading them to a trap but Richard says that he trusts him and they leave, with Richard and Andrews helping Kaminsky. As they make their way to the tunnel, a worm chases after them and they are forced to leave Kaminsky, who had died by this point, behind to be eaten by the worm. Inside the tunnel, they find a Taliban weapon’s cache and re-arm themselves with some more explosives and Amal leads them to the way out. When they approach a blast door, they make their way through it but Andrews lets it close behind him, locking them in that part of the tunnel. Amal goes on ahead but ends up stepping on a landmine, causing the tunnel to collapse on the exit. They believe they are trapped at first but Richard notices a small air vent that leads to the outside and has Isla head through there so she can circle around and open the door for them. Isla makes her way through the vent to the surface but discovers the Taliban outside and tries to hide but she is soon captured. They ask her where the Americans are and start to take her with them to find them but the worms attack and she is able to get away. Isla makes it back to the blast door and is able to open it but Andrews is killed by a worm that was attracted by the land mine’s blast. Richard, Jan, and Isla reach the surface and see the worms killing the last of the Taliban and make a plan to head towards a nearby mine elevator, thinking it is tall enough to keep them out of the worm’s reach. Using grenades to mask their footsteps, they run for the elevator but are surrounded by the worms when they run out of grenades. Thinking it is the end, Richard readies the suicide belt and gets close to Jan and Isla, wanting to take the worms out when they try to kill them. Suddenly, a missile strikes one of the worms, driving them off and they see their evac helicopter arriving. When it lands, they quickly climb on board and the helicopter takes off but a giant worm suddenly bursts from the ground and attempts to grab the helicopter. Richard, still wearing the belt, jumps out of the helicopter and into the worm’s mouth, where he detonates the belt, killing himself and the worm, while Jan comforts Isla as the helicopter takes them to safety.

As far a a wannabe Tremors goes, this movie is so-so. Some of the acting was good, particularly Sebastian Knapp (Kaminsky) and Jonas Khan (Amal), but the two main leads were not that good while Chris Jarman was just too over-the-top to the point of being absolutely terrible. The story was interesting, making use of the current Afghan War for a good setting and plot device, while adding the giant monsters to spice it up. The special effects were decent and I liked the worm design but some of the scenes with the worms interacting with the people didn’t look that good. To be honest, you will get more enjoyment in watching Tremors but this is a decent killer worm movie to watch if you are bored.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

action, crime, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

June 26th, 2017 Movie – Salt


Ahh, now this is kind of a bittersweet movie. See I first saw this movie as part of a date but unfortunately, things did not work out with that girl. As I was walking through MovieStop one day, I saw this movie and had a serious debate on whether or not I should buy it. In the end, I did end up buying it, as I had enjoyed watching it, so let’s see if I made a good choice as I watch today’s movie, Salt.
The plot: Evelyn Salt is being tortured in a North Korean prison for being a spy, despite her protests that she isn’t one. Some time later, she is being released as part of a prisoner exchange and is met at the DMZ by CIA agent Ted Winter. As they are heading towards the border, Salt reveals that she is a CIA operative when she asks Ted what is going on, as policy dictates that she would have been left to rot in prison in order to maintain deniability. Ted says he had nothing to do with it and motions towards the border, where Salt’s fiance Mike Krause is waiting, and tells her that he raised such a public outcry that the CIA were forced to do something. Two years later, Salt is preparing to go home for her anniversary when she and Ted are called back to deal with a defector that walked into the building. As they head to the interrogation room, they are met by Counterintelligence officer Darryl Peabody, who is there to listen in on the interrogation. Salt heads in to begin the interrogation of the “defector”, Oleg Vasilyevich Orlov, who tells her about a Soviet Cold War program to install sleeper agents into the US and that one of those agents, KA-12, will be activated to kill the Russian president while he is in the US. As Salt goes to leave the room, Orlov says that the name of the sleeper agent is Evelyn Salt, causing Peabody and Ted to keep Salt from leaving while they get Orlov out of there. Salt demands to be able to use her phone to call Mike and Peabody watches her and has her put it on speaker so he can listen in, then has her go into the interrogation room so he can talk to her. Orlov kills his escort and escapes the building and while Ted and Peabody deal with that, Salt leaves the interrogation room and tries to make it out of the building. When they lock the building down, Salt disables the security cameras then uses some cleaning chemicals to fashion a rocket, which she uses to take out the security team trying to capture her, and manages to escape. Salt heads to her apartment and finds evidence that Mike was kidnapped so she grabs a change of clothes, a pre-packed bag and weapon, then grabs one of Mike’s spiders and their dog and climbs out the window before the CIA get there. Scaling the side of the apartment building, Salt manages to get the attention of a girl doing her homework and asks her to take care of her dog for a little while. Salt heads for a subway station but Ted spots her and gives chase and as she is boxed in, she tells Peabody and Ted that they should be worried about someone trying to kill the Russian President but she has to find Mike, then jumps off the overpass onto the roof of a passing semi. Peabody and Ted try to give chase but Salt manages to leap from vehicle to vehicle before grabbing a motorcycle and escaping as they get caught in traffic. Salt heads to New York City, where the Russian President is attending the funeral of the Vice President. As Ted and Peabody help the Secret Service keep an eye out for Salt, Salt causes a distraction on the subway to get the maintenance tunnels underneath the church. Making her way inside, Salt takes out the security she encounters and as the Russian President is giving his eulogy, she detonates an explosive that causes the floor to drop down into the basement, where Salt injects him with a syringe full of spider venom. When Peabody shows up, Salt gets the drop on him but chooses to allow herself to be arrested, and Peabody questions Ted as to why she did that. As Salt is taken away into police custody, she manages to escape and make her way out of the city, where it is revealed in flashback that she really was a sleeper agent. Salt meets up with Orlov on an abandoned barge and he greets her as reports come in of anti-American protests in Russia as the new president vows to strike back for the attack. Boarding the barge, Salt asks about her husband and Orlov shows him to her before having him killed and when Salt shows no emotion, he is satisfied that she has truly rejoined them. Orlov explains the next mission for her and as they toast each other, she kills Orlov, then kills the other KA agents that are on board. After pausing to stare at Mike’s body, she heads to the rendezvous for the mission and meets with agent Schneider, who has become a NATO liason to the White House. Schneider uses his credentials to get Salt inside, then activates a suicide bomb in his chest to cause a distraction, allowing Salt to make her way through the White House and into the elevator shaft that the President is using to head to his secure bunker. Inside the bunker, the President receives word that the Russians are moving their nuclear arsenal and the President orders America’s arsenal to be readied. When all of the security protocols are finished, Ted suddenly kills everyone in the secure bunker except for the President, revealing that he is also a KA agent. Ted then sets the US missiles to target Tehran and Mecca as Salt shows up and she is shocked to find he is a KA agent. Ted explains that his actions are step 2 in the attack on the US, and Salt asks to be let in but a news report broadcasts that the Russian President is still alive. Ted tells Salt that he was the one that told Orlov to break her cover and kidnap Mike and Salt manages to break into the bunker and begins fighting with Ted. Salt manages to get the upper hand on Ted and stop the launch but is taken prisoner by the secret service, who manage to break into the bunker. As Peabody heads down to the bunker, he tells his assistant that they need to find the rest of the KA agents and his assistant tells him someone already did, saying that someone killed several men, including Orlov, on a barge just as Salt walks by and winks at Peabody. As Salt is led past Ted, she leaps at him and uses her handcuffs to strangle Ted. Salt is taken to a helicopter and questioned by Peabody but when he receives word that her fingerprints are on the barge, he believes her when she says that she plans on killing the rest of the KA agents and punches her in order to disguise his unlocking her restraints then tells her to go get them. As they fly over the Potomac River, Salt opens the door and jumps into the river below, then makes her way to shore where, after catching her breath, she begins running through the woods towards her future.

Salt met with mixed to positive reviews from the critics, holding a 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Angelina Jolie gives it her all in the title role, and her seasoned performance is almost enough to save Salt from its predictable and ludicrous plot.” Originally, the role of Salt was written for a male lead, with Tom Cruise being cast in the role, but when he backed out, it was re-written for a female lead and Angelina Jolie was cast. The movie was a mild hit at the box office, earning $293.5 million off of an $110 million budget.

This is a pretty decent thriller that is a real throwback to some of the Cold War era spy films from the 60’s and 70’s. The acting was good, with Angelina Jolie (Salt), Liev Schreiber (Ted), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Peabody) did good jobs in their roles. The plot was actually a pretty basic double agent story with a revenge aspect thrown in as Salt had grown to enjoy the life she was living and hated Orlov for taking it from her. While I did like the remnants of the Cold War era story line, it felt a little weak at times. The special effects, primarily the fight scenes, were pretty well done and didn’t try to do anything too over the top so as to make it more realistic, which made the movie more enjoyable for me as I liked the realism. All in all, a decent thriller and worth a watch if you are in the mood for a spy movie.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

horror, movie, movie review, thriller

June 25th, 2017 Movie – The Sadist (1963)

the sadist

We go from my favorite box set to what is becoming one of those hit or miss box sets. Today’s movie comes from the Pure Terror box set and I admit to knowing absolutely nothing about this movie. I mean, I honestly know nothing about this movie; nothing about the actors or the director. The only thing I do know about this movie is the real events that it is loosely based on, the killing spree committed by Charles Starkweather during the late 50’s, and the only reason I know that is because Starkweather was also a basis for Natural Born Killers. Well, let’s see if this movie is any good as I watch The Sadist (1963).

The plot: Three high school teachers, Carl, Doris, and Ed, are driving to Los Angles to catch a Dodgers game when they have car trouble and are forced to pull into a gas station/junkyard. Ed checks the engine and says it is the fuel pump and when Carl asks if they will still be able to make the game, Ed says it should only take half an hour if they have the part, so they should still make the game. They look around to try and find the owner but there is no sign of anybody in the area. After taking a break for a few minutes, Ed gets to work searching the junkyard for a new fuel pump with Doris keeping him company while Carl keeps looking for the owners. Heading inside the nearby house, Carl is startled by a cat but find four place settings at a dinner table, with the food still warm but two of the meals have been eaten. Carl returns to the others and voices his concerns about the situation when Doris gives out a startled shout and they turn to see a man and a woman, Charlie and Judy, watching them, with Charlie pointing a gun at the three of them. Charlie tells Ed to keep working on fixing their car, telling them he plans on taking it and he will let them live. When Carl asks how they know he will keep his word, Charlie says they will have to trust him, then approaches Doris and starts to frighten her with the gun. He then has Carl give him his wallet and after taking the money out of it, Charlie proceeds to rip up the baseball tickets before pistol-whipping Carl twice. As Doris goes to tend to his wounds, Ed starts to move towards Charlie but Charlie taunts him with the gun before demanding his wallet as well, then grabbing Doris’ purse and heading over to sit with Judy so he can watch them. When Judy pleads with Charlie to let her get some water to help tend to Carl’s wounds, Charlie hands Judy the gun and tells her to watch Carl and Ed while he leads Doris to a water pump behind the house. While they are gone, Carl worries about Doris and Ed tells him that they should be worried, as he believes Charlie and Judy are responsible for a string of murders throughout the state. As Doris gets some water, she pleads with Charlie to just let them go but Charlie taunts her, threatens her with a knife, and briefly molests her before telling her to get back to the others. When Doris and Charlie return, Ed tries talking to Charlie but he ignores him and proceeds to start shooting around the three teachers. He then tells Ed to stand in the middle of the yard and get down on his knees and Carl tries begging for Charlie to spare his life but after taunting the others and asking if they want to take his place, Charlie shoots Carl. Doris yells at Charlie and Ed tries to calm her down as Charlie approaches her, then tells Charlie that he almost has the fuel pump pulled from the wreck and he is the only one that can fix they car so he can leave so Charlie agrees not to shoot her, for now. As Ed finishes pulling the pump and walks towards their car with Doris, they try to figure out what they should do next. As Ed works on the car, they suddenly hear the sounds of some motorcycles approaching and see two policemen riding towards the gas station. As Doris tells Charlie he is going to be arrested, Charlie has them lay on the ground while he figures out what to do. Seeing an open car truck, he has Ed climb inside, then hands Judy a knife and tells her to hide with Doris and cut her throat if she yells. Charlie then heads over to the police officers, who have reached the station and grabbed a pair of cokes from the icebox. Charlie talks with the officers for a few minutes, trying to pass himself off as a friend of the family, but when Doris screams out for help, Charlie is forced to shoot the two cops. Getting Ed out of the Trunk, Charlie yells at Doris for not keeping quiet and Judy proceeds to slap her. He then leads them over to the car and tells them that they have 15 minutes to fix the car or else he will go ahead and kill them now. As Judy and Charlie proceed to fool around with the motorcycles and loot the bodies, a report comes through on the police radios about the two killers. As Ed continues to work on the car, he tells Doris that he has a plan and, so long as Charlie doesn’t know anything about cars, it might work and give them a chance to escape. Ed tries to his plan, manually making the car sound like it is working but Charlie gets suspicious and has Doris get out of the car so he can try it himself. Accusing Ed of trying to trick him, Charlie plans on killing Doris but Judy whispers to let her do it and so he hands her a gun. As Charlie yells at Ed to fix the car, Ed manages to temporarily blind Charlie by throwing gasoline in his face. As Charlie screams in pain, Doris struggles with Judy and manages to get away from her. Charlie begins blindly firing his gun and accidentally shoots Judy and when he realizes what he has done, he cries out in grief, then goes looking for Doris and Ed, who are hiding in the junkyard. As Doris hides, she discovers the bodies of the owner and his wife and cries out, alerting Charlie to where she is. Ed sees Charlie approaching her and yells at her to run, causing Charlie to turn and shoot at him. Doris sees Charlie and manages to climb through a hole in the fence and begins running along the road towards town. Failing to shoot Doris, Charlie starts hunting Ed and chases him throughout the junkyard, finally killing him when Ed charges at him when he is cornered. Charlie then gets in the car and chases after Doris, who is happy to see the car until she realizes who is driving it. Running through the desert, Doris comes to the remains of an old house and hides behind the wall as Charlie gets the car stuck in the sand but Charlie finds her and chases after her as she tries to run. As Charlie is about to catch her, he falls through a covered mine shaft and lands inside a nest of rattlesnakes, which proceed to bite him. Doris continues running as Charlie tries to fend off the snakes and run away but is constantly bitten and falls back into the mine. Doris hears his cries of pain and pauses but then continues towards the car, catching her breath as the Dodgers game is broadcast on the radio, then begins walking again with the sound of a Dodgers home-run coming from the speakers.

The Sadist (1963) met with high praise from modern critics, holding a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all seem to feel that it was a well made thriller and praised Arch Hall Jr.’s performance. The movie was based on the killing spree of Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate, who murdered 11 people in Nebraska and Wyoming between 1957-58. The cops in the movie were actual off duty police officers who have their own bikes, which they use for funeral processions and VIP escorts.

I will admit, this was a very effective thriller. The acting was really good, with Arch Hall Jr. doing a phenomenal job in his roll, going from sadistic bullying the teachers to maniacally giggling with Judy and back again in mere seconds. Richard Alden (Ed) and Helen Hovey (Doris) were also good in their roles. The story was great, bringing a sense of real terror and drama throughout the movie from the moment the three teacers arrive at the abandoned junkyard. The special effects were minimal but the camera work was exceptional, actually making the tension more palpable so that it felt like you were the one being hunted by Charlie. A surprisingly good movie that is worth watching if you are in the mood for it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Hitchcock, movie, movie review, thriller

June 24th, 2017 Movie – Sabotage (1936) (a.k.a. The Woman Alone)

sabotage 1936

Well, well, well. It’s my old friend The Legends Of Horror box set or, as I like to consider it, “The mass collection of movies Hitchcock made before he came to Hollywood”. So once again, I get to watch a Hitchcock movie that I have never seen before, but I have heard of this one. This movie came up during a conversation I had with a co-worker, who is a big fan of classic movies, and when we got on the subject of Hitchcock movies, he recommended I watch this one if I ever got the chance. So I let’s see if the recommendation pans out as I watch today’s movie, Sabotage (1936).

The plot: In 1930’s London, the power suddenly goes out and panic grips the city, When workers at the power plant find sand in one of the boilers, they realize that it was deliberately sabotaged and wonder who did it, as a man is shown walking away from the power plant. At a downtown cinema, the customers are upset and demanding their money back and Mrs. Verloc, who is working in the ticket booth, wishes her husband was there to deal with them. Meanwhile, Karl Verloc, who was the man leaving the power plant, sneaks upstairs into the living quarters of the cinema and after cleaning up, lays down in bed and pretends to be asleep. When his wife comes upstairs, she is surprised to see him there, having thought he was gone, and asks what to do about the customers. Verloc tells her to go ahead and give them their money back, saying he has some money coming in to cover the loss. When Mrs. Verloc returns downstairs, she sees Ted Spencer, a helper at the greengrocer next to the cinema, telling the crowd that due to the power loss being outside the cinema’s control, the cinema did not have to refund their money. Mrs. Verloc argues with Ted about what he is doing and tells the crowd that she will refund their money but as the crowd heads to the ticket booth, the power suddenly comes back on and the crowd heads inside, with Mrs. Verloc thanking Ted for his help before returning to the ticket booth. Later that night, Mrs. Verloc is working on getting dinner ready and sends her younger brother Stevie to the grocer to get some lettuce. Ted comes back with Stevie and warmly greets Mrs. Verloc, then comments to Verloc about seeing him return during the bloackout but Verloc tells Ted he was mistaken and that he never left. After his shift is over, Ted takes a cab to Scotland Yard, where it is revealed that he is an undercover officer investigating Verloc, as they believe he is somehow involved in a plot of attacks against the city. His supervisor wonders if Mrs. Verloc is working with Verloc or merely unaware of his actions and recommends Ted get closer to her to find out. The next day, Ted talks with Verloc for a little bit as he leaves the cinema and then watches as Verloc catches a bus and Ted signals his assistant, Hollingshead, to follow him. Verloc heads to the zoo and meets his contact, who is disappointed that the papers are mocking the power loss and wants Verloc to place some “fireworks” at the Piccadilly London Underground station, though Verloc is uncomfortable doing something that can result in a loss of life. Meanwhile, Mrs. Verloc and Stevie are in town and Ted “runs into” them and invites them to join him for lunch, during which he speaks with Mrs. Verloc but she has no clue that her husband might be up to something. Later, Ted returns to Scotland Yard and yells his superior that he believes Mrs. Verloc is innocent and his superior tells him what Hollingshead discovered. Meanwhile, Verloc heads to a pet store and meets with the owner, who works as a bomb maker for the terrorist group, and is given a time bomb disguised as a bird cage and told to make sure to place at the station at noon on Saturday. As he is getting ready to leave the store, he sees a police officer walking by and worries about them investigating him or raiding the store and the store owner comments that it would be a bad idea if they did. The next day, Ted notices several men going to meet with Verloc and he buys a ticket into the cinema to see if he can learn what they are meeting about. Running into Stevie, Ted is shown a window behind the movie screen that opens into their living room and Ted climbs up and starts listening into the meeting. As the meeting goes on, one of the terrorists notices Ted’s hand propping open the window and he quickly grabs it and drags Ted inside the room. Ted and Stevie quickly apologize for the intrusion and leaves but one of the terrorists recognizes Ted as working for Scotland Yard and after Ted leaves, he informs Verloc and the others. The terrorists decide to cancel the planned attack and scatter and after they all leave, Verloc heads to the ticket booth to speak with his wife. He asks her if Ted had asked questions about him and when she asks why, he says that Ted was spying on the building. Verloc heads to the grocers and asks the owner about Ted and the owner confirms that Ted works for Scotland Yard but he figured that they thought the cinema was showing “funny pictures.” The next day, Verloc tries calling the pet store owner to take back the bomb but learns that he had left for the day. When Ted shows up with Stevie, Mrs. Verloc is cold towards him and he apologizes for doing his job, then tells her what they suspect about Verloc. Verloc has taken the bomb out of the cage and wraps it but when he sees Ted talking to Mrs. Verloc, he asks Stevie to take the package to the station for him, saying it is some film canisters that need to be delivered to Piccadilly Circus before 1:45. Stevie makes his way to Piccadilly Circus but ends up delayed by a salesman, who uses him for a demonstration, and The Lord Mayor’s procession. When  the parade is over, Stevie manages to convince a bus operator to let him onto the bus, even though it is illegal to carry film canisters on a public vehicle as they are flammable. As the bus makes it’s way through the city, Stevie keeps track of the time and when it is 1:45, the bomb goes off, killing everyone in the bus. Ted receives word of the explosion as he is finishing talking with the Verlocs and heads to the crime scene. As he looks around, he notices a film tin and realizes it is the one that Stevie was carrying. As the papers report on the explosion, Mrs. Verloc is worried about Stevie but when she grabs a paper and sees the article about the film tin, she faints in front of the cinema, and when she is revived, she goes to see Verloc. Verloc says he didn’t mean for Stevie to be harmed and says that if anyone is to blame, it is Ted, as he would have delivered the bomb himself if Ted hadn’t of been there questioning him. Mrs. Verloc is silent as Verloc tells her to pull herself together and later that day, as they are eating, she ends up stabbing him with a knife then, in a state of shock over Stevie’s death and her killing Verloc, she sits down motionless in a chair. Ted shows up and offers his condolences for Stevie’s death and says he has to arrest Verloc. When he discovers his body, he asks what happened and Mrs. Verloc tells him that he killed Stevie so she stabbed him. She plans on going to the police to turn herself in and Ted follows after her to try and stop her, saying he will do anything to protect her. Meanwhile, the bomb maker’s wife chastises him for using the bird cage to deliver the bomb to Verloc and she has him go get the cage back so they aren’t incriminated. As he heads to the cinema, he is followed by Hollingshead, who radios in his report and is told to head to the cinema and the chief inspector is on his way to meet them. Mrs. Verloc get’s upset and Ted comforts her and they end up kissing, then heading back to the cinema. As they near the cinema, they see the police arriving and Mrs. Verloc heads towards the Chief Inspector to tell him that she killed her husband but before she can, he is called away to oversee the raid. Meanwhile, the bomb maker makes it inside the residence but sees Verloc’s body and the police closing in. When the police knock on the door, he tells them he has a bomb and they, believing it is Verloc talking, quickly rush to clear the audience out of the theater before he can detonate it. The Chief Inspector returns to talk with Mrs. Verloc and ask if she can talk with her husband but she tells him that he is dead, just as the bomb goes off, obscuring all evidence that Verloc was stabbed. The Chief Inspector tells Ted to help Mrs. Verloc and take her away from there but as they leave, he tries to remember if Mrs. Verloc had said her husband was dead before or after the explosion occurred.

Sabotage (1936) met with unanimous praise from modern critics, holding a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all seemed to feel like this was one of Hitchcock’s best thrillers before he came to Hollywood. While the hostile powers behind the bombings was never actually named, many people feel like it was Nazi Germany, due to the time that the film was made. While the movie was based on the novel “The Secret Agent” by Joseph Conrad, Hitchcock changed the title for his film, as he already had another movie coming out that same year titled The Secret Agent, though it was based on stories by W. Somerset Maugham.

While I don’t think it was as good as I was led to believe, this is still an incredibly good movie and really showcased Hitchcock’s talent for bringing out the tension in films. The acting was pretty good, with Sylvia Sidney (Mrs. Verloc), Oskar Holmaka (Verloc), and John Loder (Ted) doing great jobs in their roles. The story was pretty good, with my only real problem being that they didn’t really seem to explain the purpose behind the bombs. Yes, I know it was supposed to scare the British people but I meant the meaning besides the obvious one; the actual plan of which the bombs were only one step. Of course, they could have actually explained it and I just missed it but I honestly don’t recall them doing so. Hitchcock did a great job of using the tension in this movie to set the tone, especially in the final scenes of the movie. The scene with Stevie getting on the bus, and it driving by the various clocks as the time got closer to 1:45 was incredibly suspenseful, as you know what is going to happen but you keep hoping that something happens that keeps Stevie from being killed on that bus. The same kind of holds true when Mrs. Verloc kills her husband, as you feel like she is going to just snap but when she finally does, there isn’t a frantic reaction or anything as she actually seems pretty calm, though sudden, when she actually stabs Verloc. Definitely a movie worth watching, regardless on if you are a Hitchcock fan or not.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

June 23rd, 2017 Movie – Sabretooth


Well, we have come to my second favorite letter that movies start with, the letter “S”. There are two reasons why this is one of my favorite letters, which we will get to later, but if there is a third reason, it would probably be Sci-Fi/Syfy original movies. Today’s movie happens to be one of those movies and is actually one of the first of those types of movies that I purchased. I remembered watching this movie years ago and was amazed to see John Rhys-Davies in it. So let’s have some fun with today’s movie, Sabretooth.

The plot: At a genetics lab called Science Frontiers, a janitor is working on cleaning up the labs late at night when he realizes that the cage inside the room did not close and he is killed by the animal inside. The next day, Casey Ballenger, assisted by her ex-boyfriend Trent Parks, is leading a group of junior guides (Leon Tingle, Lola Rodriguez, and Jason) on a training excursion in the woods. At the same time, a flatbed truck is carrying the animal from the lab to another location and as he stops for gas, the driver gets a call from Catherine Viciy, the scientist that cloned the animal, who is impatient for him to arrive with the animal. That night, the driver dozes off behind the wheel and ends up wrecking the truck and the container carrying the animal falls off the truck and breaks open. When the driver goes to check the container, he finds it empty and, hearing growling coming from the woods, runs back to the truck but the animal attacks it and kills him. At a mountain home, Anthony Bricklin, a wealthy businessman, is watching video Catherine is showing him of a baby sabretooth tiger that she had clones and when she says it is full grown, he is in shock as she had earlier said that it would take 6 months. Catherine tells him that her growth accelerator works and that they can use it to quickly grow new organs for people and Bricklin imagines the money he will be able to make. They are soon joined by Kara Harmon, who is there to study the sabretooth but since it hasn’t shown up yet, Catherine and Bricklin decide to see if they can find the driver, believing he might have stopped for something to eat. At the same time, the sabretooth attacks and kills a couple just outside of their home. The next morning, Bricklin and Catherine drive past the wreck and Bricklin worries that the authorities might have found the animal but Catherine says that the place would be crawling with reporters if they had. Trying to figure out what to do, Bricklin decides to call in Bob Thatcher to track the animal, though Catherine is reluctant to do so. Bricklin calls Thatcher and lies about what kind of animal he is hunting but tells him they need it taken alive. Meanwhile, Casey and the others are still hiking along the mountain when Leon starts goofing off and almost falls off of a cliff. Trent and the others manage to pull him back up but they don’t notice the sabretooth watching them at the bottom of the cliff. Thatcher leads Bricklin, Catherine, and Kara in hunting the sabretooth and as he finds the sabretooth’s trail, he starts doubting Catherine’s story about the animal. They come to the home of the couple that was attacked and Thatcher and Bricklin head inside and find the remains of the man. Thatcher tells Catherine to use his satellite phone to call the police but Catherine takes the phone and tosses it into the woods. As she is about to head back, her foot is grabbed by the girl, who is severely mauled and begging for help but Catherine quickly shakes her leg free from the girl’s grasp and heads back to the house. When Thatcher asks about the police, Catherine tells him the phone is gone and must have fallen out on the trail somewhere. That night, Casey and the others are passing around a bottle of tequila and playing truth or dare when Casey decides to go to sleep and Trent and Lola go for a walk. Meanwhile, Thatcher and the others have made their own camp and Thatcher decides to see if he can pick up the sabretooth’s trail. Kara and Catherine argue over whether they should tell Thatcher the truth about the animal when Kara is attacked by the sabretooth and dragged off. Meanwhile, Trent and Lola stop to sit down and Lola kisses Trent, then takes off her shirt and tells him to catch her. As she is running through the woods, she sees the sabretooth feeding on Kara and screams and runs away from it. Trent finds her and she tells him what she saw but he thinks she is overreacting and she heads back to the camp still frightened. When she gets there, Casey asks Trent what he did and he says she saw an animal and freaked out. In the morning, Casey is trying to get Lola to describe what she saw but thinks she might have overestimated the size of it. As they continue hiking, they come across a cave and Leon and Casey decide to look inside while Jason lays down outside and Trent and Lola head off on their own. Inside the cave, Leon and Casey find some cave drawings on the walls of the cave but as they are leaving, they find a mountain lion at the entrance to the cave. Leon manages to scare it off with the torch he was carrying and they head outside to see Jason had hidden on some rocks when the mountain lion ran out of the cave. Meanwhile, Lola tries to kiss Trent again but Trent turns his head, as he still has feelings for Casey, and the two head back to rejoin the others. Thatcher picks up the guides’ trail and notices the sabretooth is following them so he plans on following the guides to warn them. That night, Jason leaves the camp to use the restroom but is attacked and killed by the sabretooth. Casey and the others hear his screams but realize they won’t be able to find him in the dark and so they build up the fire and keep watch. In the morning, they split up to go look for Jason, with Casey and Leon going one way while Trent and Lola go another with plans to meet back in 20 minutes. Casey and Leon find the toilet paper Jason had but encounter Thatcher, who tells them Jason is dead and has them lead him back to their camp. Trent and Lola encounter the sabretooth and they try to run for it but the sabretooth kills Lola. Trent makes it back to camp and tells the others what he saw and Thatcher tells them to head to a nearby mine and hide while he goes and kills it. Thatcher gets the animal in his sights but before he can shoot it, Catherine tries shooting it with a tranquilizer and misses, scaring the sabretooth off. As they argue about what to do with the sabretooth, the sabretooth returns and attacks them, killing Brinklin. The sabretooth then heads to the mine and Casey and Trent try hiding inside while Leon tries fending off the sabretooth with a pair of knives but the sabretooth kills him. Managing to find a narrow crevice to hide in, Casey sees an opening at the top and is able to climb out but Trent is too big to fit. Thatcher and Catherine reach the mine and Casey sees them and gets Thatcher to help her rescue Trent. Thatcher loads up a tranquilizer but can’t fit inside the opening to use it so he hands it to Casey, who manages to use it on the sabretooth. When the sabretooth goes down, Trent is able to escape and Thatcher tells Catherine to take Trent and Casey down to the lake while he deals with the sabretooth. As the sabretooth emerges from the mine, Thatcher tries to shoot it only to discover that Catherine had taken the bullets out of his rifle. Thatcher manages to escape but his foot is caught in a trap and injured. Casey and Trent head back to help him and Thatcher hands Trent his knife and tells him to cut a few saplings down to use as spears, then they head off to find Catherine. They soon find her at the edge of the cliff and Catherine says they are trapped. When Thatcher says he still plans on killing it, Catherine pulls out the revolver she stole from him and threatens to use it. Trent manages to knock it out of her hand but not before she fires a shot and hits him in the shoulder. When the sabretooth appears, Catherine tries to get it to run but it attacks and kills her instead. Trent, Casey, and Thatcher climb onto some rocks and use their make-shift spears to fend off the sabretooth and eventually, Thatcher is able to kill it by jabbing it in the stomach with the spear when it leaps at him. As they make sure they are ok, Casey and Trent start kissing and Thatcher jokes about not minding him as they stop and help each other to get down from the mountain.

This was a fairly decent movie but a little boring at times. The acting was good, with David Keith (Thatcher), Jenna Gering (Casey), and Josh Holloway (Trent) doing good jobs in their roles. John Rhys-Davies (Brinklin) and Vanessa Angel (Catherine) were some surprising known names and I thought it added a bit to the movie but they were not entirely necessary. The story was pretty interesting, with the scientist cloning a dead animal and then doing whatever she can to keep it alive. The addition of the guides being stalked was pretty good but the whole romance side story just felt stupid and really a waste. The special effects were on the low end, as the sabretooth looked pretty blocky and off when it was interacting with the actors. Syfy original movies have come a long way since this movie but this can still be a fun movie to watch.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

action, animation, drama, movie, movie review

June 22nd, 2017 Movie – Rurouni Kenshin: Requiem For The Ishin Patriots

rurouni kenshin

Man, do I miss being able to watch Toonami on Cartoon Network. Back in the day, it was a great way to introduce US audiences to some Japanese anime. Now I had watched various animes before Toonami came around but one show that I was introduced to was Rurouni Kenshin, or Samurai X as it was sometimes called. I really enjoyed this cartoon as it had a great story with a nice mixture of actual historical events adding to the plot. So when I saw that there was a movie I decided to buy it since I enjoyed the anime so much. So let’s see if the feature film holds up to the anime as I watch today’s movie, Rurouni Kenshin: Requiem For The Ishin Patriots.

The plot: In the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, a group of swordsman attack a house but the end up being killed by Himura Kenshin, the Hitokiri Battosai or Manslayer. 12 year later, during the Meiji Era, Kenshin has long since given up killing people, choosing to carry a reverse blade sword instead. Kenshin travels to Yokohama with his friends Kamiya Kaoru, Sagara Sanosuke, and Myojin Yahiko to Yokohama to see the influx of Western culture and architecture that has occurred in the city since the borders have been opened. As they wander around the city, they come across some drunken Western sailors harassing a woman but as they are watching, they see a swordsman, step in and rescue the woman, then slice up the weapons the sailors attempt to use on him. When some more sailors go join the fight, Kenshin deals with one of them who attempts to bring a rifle into the fight, but his actions are noticed by the swordsman. When the police show up, Kenshin and the swordsman leave the area, while Sanosuke tricks the sailors into fighting the police, then makes his own escape. Later, Kenshin and the swordsman are talking and when the swordsman introduces himself as Shigure Takimi, Kenshin seems to recognize the name. As he leaves, Kenshin encounters Hajime Saito, a former rival during the war who is now a police officer, who warns Kenshin to stay away from Takimi, as Saito believes he is up to something. As Kenshin rejoins his friends, a group of men attack the British embassy, killing all of the guards there while using explosives to torch the building, then quickly leave as reinforcements, led by Captain Tomono, arrive to try and capture them. Some time later, in Tokyo, Takimi is at his home with Toki, the girl that the sailors were harassing, and the are kneeling before a memorial for Toki’s brother, who was killed during the war. When the man that led the attack on the British embassy arrives, Toki leaves as the man tells Takimi that the British ambassador has changed his plans and will be arriving in Tokyo earlier but he should be ready and wants Takimi to lead the attack. Takimi says he was planning on it as he wants to make up for the decision that cost his friend his life. In flashback, it is revealed that Takimi was one of the leaders of the Izu clan and when they were planning to attack some targets during the war, he chose to split up their forces but when he realized the location he went to was wrong, he raced to the other location to help his friend but got there just in time to see Kenshin kill him. When Takimi leaves with the man, Toki goes to see Kenshin and ask that he talk to Takimi, as Takimi speaks highly of him. When Yahiko walks Toki back home, he meets Takimi and is introduced to Musashino, a young man whose father was in the same samurai clan as Yahiko’s father and the two become friends. The next day, Sanosuke visits his friend and learns that Takimi might be planning a revolt, while Saito’s spy is killed by Takimi’s men. Yahiko had followed Musashino and overhears Takimi telling the assembled men his plans and when he is captured, he asks Takimi to let him join them. Meanwhile, Kenshin and Sanosuke arrive at Takimi’s house but before they can enter, Toki opens the door and, seeing Kenshin, she hands him a note that Takimi left her. When Kaoru arrives and says that Yahiko is missing, the four search the city for Yahiko and Takimi. Takimi leads his men to the dock and they head out in some small boats but Takimi knocks Yahiko unconscious, as he feels Yahiko is too young and he doesn’t want to have one of Kenshin’s friends killed. Elsewhere, the man that led the attack on the embassy in Yokohama secretly meets with Tomono and it is revealed that they are working together to discredit the commander of the Japanese army, so Tomono can take his place, and frame Takimi for everything. After searching all night, Kenshin and the others finally come across Yahiko and Kaoru slaps him before hugging him and saying she is glad he is ok. When Kenshin asks if Yahiko knows what Takimi is planning, Yahiko says they said something about a foreign visitor and Kenshin realizes they plan to attack the ambassador, who will be part of a parade in his honor. As the parade commences, Saito is keeping watch as he also believes the rebels would attack during the parade. As the ambassador reaches the embassy, the rebels attack with cannons, killing several of the guards before charging in to attack the remaining guards. When Takimi goes to kill the ambassador, Kenshin stops him and the two begin fighting, while Sanosuke deals with the other rebels and Saito takes out the cannons. Tomono, seeing his plan falling apart, orders his men to start shooting and ends up killing several of the rebels, including Musashino when he shields Takimi, and Takimi and the others escape. When Kaoru, Toki, and Yahiko arrive at the scene, Yahiko discovers the body of Musashino and cries for his friend while Kenshin stands amidst the bodies and recalls what brought him to give up killing people. When the location of Takimi and the rebels is discovered, Kenshin approaches the commander and asks that he be allowed to go in and talk to Takimi, in order to try and arrange a peaceful end to the fighting. Tomono doesn’t like it but the commander overrules him and allows Kenshin to proceed. Kenshin and Sanosuke head to the rebel’s hideout and after Sanosuke has a brief fight with some of the rebels, Kenshin gets his audience with Takimi. Kenshin tries to get Takimi to surrender but Takimi refuses, saying he doesn’t blame Kenshin for his friend’s death but does blame him for what the government has done since then. The two men start fighting and Takimi appears to have the upperhand, saying he had memorized Kenshin’s fighting style since he first saw it years ago. Kenshin is finally able to defeat Takimi but when Takimi tries to continue fighting, Toki runs up and embraces Takimi and begs him to stop fighting. Takimi agrees to give himself up but before he can, Tomono and some of his men appear and begin firing into the crowd of rebels. Several of them are killed, including Takimi as he tries to shield Toki but before anyone else can be killed. Kenshin renders Tomono unconscious. The commander orders his men to stand down and tend to the wounded while on a hill overlooking the hideout, Saito confronts the man that was working with Tomono and kills him. Some time later, Kenshin goes to see Toki and he admits to her that he killed her brother. Toki accepts Kenshin’s apology and says she plans on taking some of Takimi’s things and burying them next to her brother, and says that she hopes to see Kenshin and the others again.

This was a pretty good movie all in all. I was disappointed that they did not get the same American voice actors from the TV anime to do the movie but I thought the voices for Kenshin and Kaoru were pretty good but Sanosuke and Yahiko’s voices were annoying. The story was good, using a recurring theme from the TV show of former samurai and other people dissatisfied with the current government trying to make changes and Kenshin and his friends trying to stop anyone from getting hurt or killed. The animation was very well done and had a mixture of dark and light tones and colors that did it’s own part in setting the tone as effectively as the story itself. If you are a fan of the anime or martial arts movies, you will probably enjoy this movie.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

action, adventure, comedy, movie, movie review

June 21st, 2017 Movie – The Rundown

the rundown

Folks, have you ever wanted to go out to the movies with your significant other but couldn’t agree on what movie to see? Well, allow me to introduce you to how my ex-wife and I used to solve this problem back when we were married. First, each of you pick  two movies that you want to see. If both of you pick the same movie then obviously, you go see that movie. However, if you both pick two different movies, then you look up the reviews for those movies on Rotten Tomatoes and whoever’s picks have the highest combined rating, then that person wins but the loser picks which of the two movies you go watch. If you are wondering why I am bringing this up, that is because the first time we did this, I wound up winning so we went to go see today’s movie, The Rundown.

The plot: A “retrieval expert” named Beck is in his car listening to a cooking show on the radio until his associate yells for him to come into the club. As his associate points out the man Beck is there to collect from, a professional quarterback named Knappmiller, Beck notices that he has his team’s offensive line with him. Beck goes down and tries talking to Knappmiller, telling him he needs his championship ring as collateral but Knappmiller throws some drinks in Beck’s face and tells him to leave. After heading to the restroom to clean up, Beck calls his boss, Billy Walker, and asks to do it another night as he doesn’t want to hurt the other football players but Billy demands he get the ring so Beck heads back out to the club and proceeds to beat down the other players before grabbing Knappmiller and taking the ring from him. As Billy heads out to his car, he is shot by a man with a bean bag, who then grabs the ring from him. Beck heads to Billy’s house, upset that he sent another retriever to steal from him and demands his money. Beck tells Billy he wants out, as he plans to open a restaurant, and Billy says he will give him one last job and if he complete is, he will walk out a free man and with the money for his restaurant. Billy hands Beck a folder and tells him to bring his son Travis back from a mining town in Brazil and his slate will be wiped clean. Beck heads down to the Amazon and is driven to the mining town by Declan, who explains the dangers in the area. In the town, Declan takes Beck to see Hatcher, the man who runs the town, and Beck asks Hatcher if he has seen Travis and Hatcher says he allowed him to do some excavating around the mine, then gets curious as to why Beck is there. Meanwhile, Travis is at the town’s bar, trying to flatter the bartender Mariana into letting her borrow her uncle’s boat so he can find a priceless artifact called El Gato do Diablo. Leaving Hatcher’s office, Beck borrows Declan’s jeep, telling Declan to head back to the airfield and get the plane ready to fly out. Beck heads to the bar and confronts Travis, who tries to resist when Beck says he is taking him back to his father, but Beck easily overpowers him. As they are about to leave, Hatcher and his men enter the bar and Hatcher tells Beck that Travis is staying, as he wants Travis to lead him to El Gato. Beck manages to beat several of Hatcher’s men and then get into the jeep with Travis and drive off but Travis, refusing to go back to his father, kicks the steering wheel and causes them to crash off a cliff.  After tumbling down the cliff and falling into a lake, Travis tries to get away but Beck captures him again and they start walking through the jungle. When Travis notices a rebel snare, he tricks Beck into triggering it and Beck finds himself dangling from a tree. Travis is able to grab the key that falls from Beck’s pocket and free himself from the handcuffs but as he taunts Beck, he accidentally triggers another snare and ends up hanging next to Beck. The two try to work together to free themselves but as they cling to a tree, a group of monkeys appear and attempt to hump them but are quickly chased off by the rebels. Beck and Travis are taken to the rebel camp and Travis speaks with the rebels and tricks them into thinking Beck is an assassin sent by Hatcher. The rebels release Beck so that they can fight him but Beck is able to mount a comeback and almost gets the upper hand. Suddenly, Mariana appears and stops the fight, revealing herself to be the rebel leader. That night, Mariana explains to Beck why she is leading the rebels to stop Hatcher’s exploitation of the workers and why she needs Travis to find El Gato. Suddenly, Hatcher’s men show up and attack the camp, killing most of the rebels and capturing the others but Beck, Travis, and Mariana manage to escape. As they travel down the river, Beck agrees to help Travis find El Gato so Mariana can sell it as long as she tells him how to get out of the jungle, though Travis isn’t happy about the deal. Travis leads them into the jungle towards a waterfall, which they swim under to find a hidden cave. Inside the cave, they find a series of booby traps but Travis is able to figure them out and grabs the statue before the roof collapses. As they make camp for the night, Mariana feeds Beck and Travis some Konlobos, which temporarily paralyzes them, and she thanks Travis for finding the statue, then tells Beck that he kept his word so she will keep hers and tells him how to get to the airfield. Beck and Travis recover from the paralysis in the morning, just in time to scare away some monkeys that had approached them, and make their way to the airfield. When they reach it, Beck is in a hurry to leave, as he doesn’t want to run into Hatcher or his men, but Declan says that Hatcher doesn’t care about them as he captured Mariana and took the statue from her earlier in the morning. Beck plans on going back to save Mariana but Travis says he will die if he goes in on his own and convinces Beck to let him help. Declan heads into town playing a set of bagpipes, which serves as a distraction as Beck and Travis make their way into town and start taking out Hatcher’s men. When Travis ends up pinned down by gunfire in a bus, Beck, who has avoided using guns before, finds himself forced to use guns to kill Hatcher’s men and save Travis. Hatcher tells his brother to take Mariana and the statue and head to the airfield but Travis crashes a car into them, saving Mariana and grabbing the statue. Beck finally beats the rest of Hatcher’s men, then shoots Hatcher’s gun out of his hand before he can shoot him but Travis uses the opportunity to disappear. As the town folk surround Hatcher, he yells that they would be nothing without him but he ends up being shot by them. Beck releases Mariana and they are surprised to see Travis has returned and hands the statue to Mariana to sell. Beck takes Travis back to L.A., and walks Travis into Billy’s house and asks if they are square. Billy says they are good and Beck tells him they should celebrate by having some Konlobos. After handing the fruit to Billy and his bodyguards, the three men fall victim to the paralysis and Beck frees Travis and they leave the house, with Travis jokingly messing with Beck the entire time.

The Rundown met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Rundown doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s a smart, funny buddy action picture with terrific comic chemistry between Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Seann William Scott.” The film’s original title was called “Helldorado”, and then changed to “Welcome To The Jungle” before eventually changing to the final title, and references to the previous titles can be found throughout the film. The Arnold Schwazeneggar cameo had many people feeling like it was a metaphorical passing of the torch to the next generation of action stars. Despite the critical praise, the movie failed at the box office, earning $80.9 million off of a $85 million budget.

This is a great movie to watch. Dwayne Johnson (Beck) used his time in the WWE to create a great blend of action and comedy in the movie. Seann William Scott (Travis) tried to break out of the “Stifler” stereotype somewhat and the dynamic between him and Johnson was a good bit of adversarial camaraderie, while Rosario Dawson (Mariana) and Christopher Walken (Hatcher) both were fantastic as well. The story was a pretty interesting mix of treasure hunting and bounty hunting that worked very well together. The comedy aspects of the film were a little juvenile, or adult depending on how you look at it, but they did work as effective tension breakers to keep the movie from becoming too overly serious. The special effects were ok but the fight scenes were definitely well done, especially the fight between Dwayne Johnson and Ernie Reyes Jr. (of The Last Dragon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame). An entertaining movie that is worth watching any time you get the chance to watch it.

Rating: 4 out of 5