horror, movie, movie review, thriller

April 23rd, 2018 Movie – Venom

venom (1981)

Ahh, another bit of nostalgia hitting me right here. Back when I was a kid, I saw this movie one of the days while at day care (I already explained my experiences with day care). I don’t know why this had such an impact on me but I vividly remembered this movie years later and would often decide to go look for it. After several instances of it popping into my head and my wanting to watch it again, I decided to buy a copy of it on DVD. There was just one problem, for some reason, I remembered this title as being Black Mamba, which it apparently wasn’t it’s title. I eventually learned the real title just as a Blu-Ray release came out. So I immediately pre-ordered it and have enjoyed watching Venom (1981) ever since.

The plot: Ruth Hopkins picks up her son Philip from the American Academy in London and when they arrive home, says that she would like to spend some time with him before she leaves on her trip but Philip rushes up to his “zoo” to feed all of his animals. Ruth asks her maid Louise if her father, Howard, is there and she tells him he is downstairs so Ruth heads down to see him, asking Louise to bring them some tea but after she leaves, Dave, their chauffeur, gets Louise’s attention and motions upstairs. Ruth enters her father’s room and asks how he is doing and Howard says he should be out of their hair in 4 weeks. Ruth then talks about her trip, wondering if she should cancel it as she is overly worried about Philip’s health but Howard tells her he will be fine taking care of Philip and she needs to go, as she hasn’t seen her husband in a month. Meanwhile, meets Louise in her room as she is cleaning some of Ruth’s jewelry for her trip and he worries that she might cancel her trip at the last minute but Louise assures him that she is leaving. He then asks if she is sure about Jacmel’s plan and she tells him everything will be ok, then starts taking off her clothes as she says she plans on showing him what they will be doing once things are finished. That night, Ruth says goodbye to Philip and Howard and Dave drives her to the airport for her trip, but after she heads inside and disappears from view, Dave heads inside as well and asks if a flight from Madrid arrived. He is told it has and when he turns around, he is confronted by Jacmel, who says he is late and they head off, with Dave handing him a gun as they drive. Dave drives Jacmel to a secluded house in the country, telling him it is paid for 3 months in advance like he asked, then hands him the keys to the house and the car and drives off. Jacmel enters the house and checks it out and is met soon by Louise, who reveals that her and Jacmel are lovers and worked together on their plan. The next day, Howard calls a cab and helps Philip get inside and head off, despite Louise’s protest that he can’t leave on his own. After heading back inside, Howard receives a phone call from Jacmel, who tells Howard he is organizing a safari and would like to meet with him to discuss his leading it and Howard agrees to the meet. After Howard hangs up, Louise attempts to call Jacmel to tell him that Philip left but he is one the phone arranging to have Howard told he is delayed so that he can ensure Howard is kept out of the house. Philip arrives at a exotic pet store and when the owner’s wife asks what he is there for, he tells her that he is picking up his order. She tells him where his crate is and he grabs it and thanks her, then gets back in the cab to head home. Meanwhile, at the Institute of Toxicology, Dr. Marion Stowe is told by her assistant that the snake they received doesn’t appear to be the black mamba they ordered and when she looks for herself, she agrees and says it is a harmless rat snake. Realizing the store must have mixed up their orders, she calls and speaks to the owners wife, who tells her about Philip, and then calls the police. She tells them the situation and tells them that they need to send someone to get the snake quickly before it bites Philip or someone else. Philip arrives at the house and Louise greets him as he gets outside, then tries to get him into Jacmel’s car, saying Howard sent it for him, but Philips insists on putting his new snake in it’s cage, slipping away while she is distracted by the cab driver. Racing up to his room, Philip passes by Dave, with Louise close behind him, and convinces her to help him put the snake in it’s cage. As Louise opens the box, she screams as the snake rears up and starts biting her, then slithers off under the bed. Howard, who had just arrived back home, hears the scream and races inside, followed by Jacmel, and asks what happened. When Dave explains what happened, Howard says it was a rat snake and Louise is probably in shock but leaves to call for an ambulance, only for Dave to rip out the phone and attack him. Jacmel chastises Dave for his actions, telling him not to do anything unless he says so, and then goes to get Louise and Philip and take them out of there. Dave goes and loads a shotgun and meets them downstairs, where Jacmel yells at him for getting the gun, when a policeman shows up at the house about the snake. Philip yells out for help and when the officer opens the door to see what is going on, Dave shoots him in the chest. As Jacmel quickly closes the door and yells at Dave for panicking, the officer manages to crawl to his car and radio for help before dying. Philip manages to get away and Dave and Jacmel go after him and when they finally catch him, they see Louise violently reacting from the venom before dying. Dave weeps over her body and Jacmel says they should leave when they hear sirens getting closer as the police seal off the street and surround the house. Commander William Bulloch assumes command of the situation and speaks with Jacmel, who yells out through the window for them to stay back. Jacmel has Howard examine Louise’s body and he tells them she was bit by a mamba, having seen their bites before while in Africa. Jacmel escorts him upstairs to try and locate the snake, but unknown to them, they snake has made it’s way into the ventilation system. Outside, Bulloch has sharpshooters stationed across the street and makes all of his preparations before having Jacmel’s car towed. Dave, seeing them tow the car, yells at them and threatens to shoot but Jacmel drags him inside and slaps him, telling him to get a grip. Bulloch then calls out to Jacmel and asks for his demands and after Jacmel lists them, Bullock heads back to the control van. One of his assistants tells him they received a call from Marion who told them about the snake and Bulloch asks that she be brought there. Inside the house, Philip starts having an asthma attack and Howard asks to be allowed to get his medicine but Jacmel refuses to let him leave. When Marion arrives, she explains the situation to Bulloch and he has her go with him to tell Jacmel. Jacmel tells them that Louise has been bitten and asks that Marion come in and treat her but when Bulloch refuses to let her inside the house, Jacmel says they will bring her to the steps for Marion to treat. When Louise’s body is placed on the steps, Marion goes to treat only to discover that it was really Jacmel, who quickly takes her hostage and brings her inside the house. Angered by the deception, Bulloch goes over the building’s blueprints and old maps to make sure there is no other way in or out and discovers that a shop close buy was built on an old stable house that was connected to the main building and sends some men to see if there is a servant’s entrance that might have been covered up. Inside the house, Howard makes another plea to get Philip’s medicine and Jacmel takes him upstairs to get it, leaving Dave to watch Philip and Marion. When Dave decides to get a drink from the liquor cabinet, he is shocked to find the mamba inside and quickly leaps back before it can bite him. Jacmel and Howard return and Jacmel quickly closes the door and moves the cabinet from the wall just as the mamba is making it’s way back into the ducts so he covers it with a pillow. Deciding to try and force the cops into giving in to their demands, he has Dave hold her up to window as she starts screaming in pain, then Jacmel tosses a box out to Bulloch, which contains a female finger inside. Bulloch has the car brought back outside the house and as Dave rejoices in seeing it, Jacmel orders him to check all over the house to make sure it is locked up. Dave takes Howard with him and they check the house, making their way to the basement, not knowing that the mamba had made it’s way down there as well. Meanwhile, Bulloch heads to the shop and prepares to head through the service entrance to reach the basement, accompanied by a member of the herpetology department from the London Zoo in case the mamba appears. He burst through the wall just as Dave and Howard enter the basement and Bulloch shoots Dave in the shoulder but the mamba appears, forcing Bulloch back through the shop door while Howard quickly heads upstairs, leaving Dave to be killed by the mamba. Ruth arrives at the scene, frantic with worry for Philip, and the money arrives so Bulloch heads out to speak with Jacmel. Jacmel has Marion go onto the balcony and tell Bulloch that everything is fine but as Jacmel keeps an eye on her, Howard notices the mamba entering the room and making it’s way towards Jacmel. The mamba strikes Jacmel, who thrashes about and struggles with the snake, ending up smashing through the window on the other balcony. As he attempts to shoot the snake, the sharpshooters begin shooting at him and Jacmel manages to kill the snake before falling off the balcony to his death. As Bulloch and his men advance on the house and make sure everyone is ok, they are unaware that the mamba had been pregnant and laid it’s eggs in the ducts, one of which had already hatched.

This is one of those movies that is not exactly a good movie, but can be entertaining. The acting was ok, though a bit stoic and somewhat slow at times, which could bore some people. The story was interesting, basically a simple kidnapping/ransom story line that gets messed up with the inclusion of the mamba. I will say that Susan George’s (Louise) death scene, as well as Klaus Kinski (Jacmel) end scene with the snake was a bit overly dramatic but they didn’t exactly diminish the movie and could be laughed at to a degree. The special effects regarding the snake were interesting, but the odd camera lens they used for the snake’s POV was a bit annoying. I am sure a part of my enjoyment of this movie is due to some nostalgia but it is still a decent movie that is worth giving a shot.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

horror, kaiju movie, movie, movie review, sci-fi

April 22nd, 2018 Movie – Varan The Unbelievable

The other day I had commented on it being a long time since I had watched a Ray Harryhausen movie for this blog. Well, the same thing can be said for watching a Toho Studios kaiju film. Don’t get me wrong, Godzilla movies are pretty much my go to when I want something to watch or I am feeling down. When I started collecting the movies in the unedited Japanese, today’s movie was one of the first ones I bought off of eBay. However, the seller never sent it, or the other movies I ordered from him. A few weeks later, I found the English version at a video store and quickly snatched it up, but I knew that I still wanted the original Japanese version. Almost a year later, the seller finally responded to my emails, and negative feedback and reporting on eBay, and sent the movies I had bought from him. Flash forward several years later and the original Japanese version was released on DVD and I bought that, then had a friend record my English version VHS to DVD so that I could have both movies in an updated format. Now, let’s enjoy this Sunday morning with today’s movie, Varan The Unbelievable.

The plot: When a rare species of butterfly, thought to only exist in Siberia, is found by a vacationing student in Northern Japan, the university sends two members to the region called The Japanese Tibet to see if more can be found. The two men make their way through the mountain road and eventually reach a village but when they ask if it is Iwaya Village, the villagers all walk away. Thinking the villagers are simply scared of outsiders, the two men continue on and attempt to locate the lake the butterflies were found at. AS some strange tremors occur, they are forced to stop the car and notice a butterfly nearby but as they go to catch it, they hear a strange roar and a sudden gust of wind knocks them to the ground, just as a landslide crushes them. As the newspaper reports on the mysterious landslide, the villagers say that the men were killed by their god. Back at the university, Yuriko, the sister of one of the men that died, arrives to collect her brother’s things and questions Dr. Sugimoto about what happened to her brother. When he tells her they aren’t sure but a second expedition is being prepared to journey there, Yuriko says that she is a reporter and is planning on going there to discover the truth about what happened to her brother. When he learns she is going to be accompanied by another reporter, Motohiko, Kenji, one of Sugimoto’s assistants, asks permission to accompany her as well. The three head out towards Iwaya Village and as they get close, they are met by Gen, the son of the village priest, who tells them not to go any further or else their god, Baradagi. Hearing a roar coming from the lake, the boy warns them not to be seen or else Baradagi will eat them, then heads towards the village, with the three adults following behind him. When they reach the village, they find the priest leading the villagers in a prayer towards a statue that represents Baradagi, begging forgiveness for the people that invaded it’s privacy. When the priest spots the intruders, he tells them to leave or Baradagi will kill them like the other intruders. Kenji tries to reason with him, saying there is no way Baradagi really exists. Hearing another roar coming from the lake, Gen goes rushing off to locate his dog, who had run off, and the priest refuses to let his wife go after him. Kenji, Yuriko, and Motohiko decide to go looking for Gen but as a fog starts coming in off the lake, they get separated and Yuriko ends up getting lost. Kenji and Motohiko return to the village and try to convince the villagers to help search when Gen’s dog returns, carrying a note from Yuriko that Gen is safe. When the dog heads back into the fog, Kenji and Motohiko go after it, followed by several of the villagers. They eventually locate Yuriko and Gen and as Gen’s mother embraces him, they are shocked to see a giant, lizard-like monster emerge from the lake. Everyone heads back towards the village and orders an evacuation, getting everyone out of there but the priest refuses to leave, choosing to stay and pray for forgiveness and mercy but he ends up being killed by the monster as it proceeds to destroy the village. As the observe the creature destroy the village, Kenji says it is Varan and is surprised to see that it could still exist. Some time later, Dr. Sugimoto discusses Varan with members of the Self Defense Force, who are prepared to lead a military expedition to the lake and destroy Varan. As the military begins setting up, Motohiko and some other photojournalists make their preparations to take pictures of the encounter. After all of the preparations are made, the Defense Force begins firing chemicals into the lake, in the hopes that it will lure Varan out from the bottom of the lake. After 25 minutes pass, dead fish begin floating to the surface, followed shortly after by Varan, who makes his way to shore. The Defense Force begins their attack but their weapons have no effect on the monster and they are force to order a withdraw. As Varan gets closer, Kenji tells Yuriko to leave but as she makes her way through the jungle, a tree falls and traps her underneath it. When Kenji returns to the base camp and finds she hasn’t returned, he heads back out and eventually finds her. Managing to pull her from underneath the tree, they attempt to make their way back to the base camp but since Varan is close behind them, they are forced to take shelter in a cave. Motohiko, Sugimoto, and some members of the Defense Force go looking for them and see Varan clawing at the hillside, attempting to open the cave wide enough for him to reach Kenji and Yuriko. Realizing they have to distract Varan in order to save them, Sugimoto has the Defense Force fire some flares away from the cave to lure Varan away. The plan works and Kenji and Yuriko are able to escape the cave but as they rejoin the others, they look on in horror as Varan climbs up the mountain, then spreads out it’s arms, revealing a membrane connecting his limbs, and flies away from the lake and out towards the sea. As the Defense Force begins searching the ocean for any sign of Varan, a meeting is held and Sugimoto says there may be know way for them to kill Varan. After Varan sinks a fishing boat, the Defense Force attempts another attack, using jets to fire missiles at it but Varan manages to grab one of the planes as it flies too low and drags it into the water with it, destroying it. When Varan submerges under the water, the Defense Force use destroyers to locate it and renew the attack, reporting that Varan is making it’s way towards Tokyo. They then try to use a fleet of mine sweepers to try and seal off Tokyo Bay but Varan is easily able to make his way through them. Ordering an evacuation of Tokyo, the Defense Force prepares to engage Varan outside Haneda Airport, where it is most likely to make land. Dr. Fujimara, an associate of Sugimoto’s, says that he has some special explosives that he uses to clear rocks for dam construction which might be effective against Varan and he is asked to go get it. As Varan heads towards shore, the trucks with the explosives arrive and they are asked to drive the trucks towards the shore, but the drivers refuse. Kenji gets in one of the trucks and drives it towards Varan, getting out right before Varan reaches the truck, and quickly runs back to the others. Fujimara detonates the truck just as Varan is right above it and they believe it worked only for Varan to get back up and continue towards the city. As the Defense Force attempts to stop it, some jets flying over head drop some flares to try and lure it back out to sea. Seeing Varan swallow one of the flares, they come up with a plan to load the special explosives in bomb casings and drop them from a helicopter. The helicopter takes off and Varan swallows two of the bombs and one of them detonates inside it, severely injuring the monster. Varan crawls back into the sea and disappears from sight and shortly afterwards, the second explosion occurs and when no sign of Varan is spotted, they all believe they have finally destroyed him.

Almost any time that a Japanese kaiju film was distributed in America, the American studios would always make some changes to it; usually substituting some of the original music for some stock music from other movies or editing/cutting some scenes. However, when Varan was shown in the US, almost 20 minutes of footage had been cut, including all of the scenes where Varan is shown to fly away from the lake. Tt had been heavily edited to the point it was given a completely different plot. In the new plot, Commander James Bradley is sent to Japan to work on a desalinization project to convert salt water to fresh water. Setting up his experiments on one of the outlying islands, he asks for help evacuating the islanders but the military goes overboard in their eagerness, making for some bad PR for Bradley. As the experiments commence, they end up waking a giant monster that had been on the bottom of the lake. The monster goes on a rampage, destroying the village on the island and killing several of the villagers and soldiers, then making it’s way to the ocean. As the military works on trying to kill the creature, nothing seems to work. Bradley comes up with the idea of using his desalinization chemicals to attack the creature, Using flares to distract the monster, the chemicals are loaded onto a truck and driven out to where the monster is and detonated, causing a poisonous cloud to surround the monster, which roars out in agony before diving back into the sea and disappearing.

As much as I love kaiju movies, this one was honestly kind of generic. The acting was ok in the Japanese version but just weird in the English version. I liked the plot in the Japanese version of the movie much better than the English version. Not the bit about butterflies being the start of all this, but rather the whole focus on some of the rural, mountain villages in Japans held fast to their ancient beliefs and being challenged by more modern thinking and skepticism, which was a generational issue in Japan back then. As for the English version, that whole plot felt like a convoluted mess, as the English scenes honestly didn’t seem to mesh well with the original Japanese scenes. The special effects were ok and I did like the rather basic look for Varan, which actually made him appear as a more sinister monster than the earlier monsters of Godzilla, Anguirus, and Rodan. The one thing I honestly thought was weird about this movie is that it was shot in black & white, when Rodan, which was released 2 years earlier, was shot in color. Still, it’s a fun movie to watch, even though there isn’t as much mass city destruction to be seen.

Rating: (Japanese version ) 3 out of 5
(U.S. Version) 2 out of 5


comedy, drama, movie, movie review

April 21st, 2018 Movie – Van Nuys Blvd

van nuys blvd

Ahh, another Saturday and I have a movie from the Drive-In Cult Classic box set on my plate today. Now I honestly have no idea what sort of movie I will be getting today, as it is simply named after a street. That is like the worst thing in the world to try and guess a plot. I mean, if it was a building, you could have some fun trying to guess the plot; like is it a hostage movie, a natural disaster, or some sort of crazy house party type situation. But a street? There are too many things to even think about what could happen. Well, let’s find out as I watch today’s movie, Van Nuys Blvd.

The plot: A young man named Bobby heads over to his girlfriend Jo’s house and while she wants to fool around, he is more interested in a program talking about the wild antics on Van Nuys Blvd. After Jo turns off the TV, Bobby complains about how bored he is with their town and decides to head out to Van Nuys Blvd to see how things if the stories are really true. After driving all day, he finally gets into town and stops at a burger joint, where the waitress flirts with him and when she brings him his food, says she will join him in the back of his van. Meanwhile, a local man named Chooch is riding along the boulevard but when a girl moons him, he ends up running the red light and getting pulled over. Officer Albert Zass gives him a ticket for running the red light and when he decides to give him a ticket for noise violations due to his hot rod’s engine, Chooch jokes about Zass’ mother, causing Zass to arrest him. Elsewhere, Greg and his friend, pull into a gas station and when another car pulls in, Greg says he had dreamed about the girl in the car, Camille, for the last three nights. Despite his friend warning him not to, Greg approaches the car and tells Camille about his dream. Camille’s boyfriend, Jason, punches Greg and as he starts arguing with Camille, Greg uses a wrench to smash the headlights of Jason’s car, then speeds off when Jason tries to get him. Jason wants to follow after him when Greg suddenly slams his car into Jason’s, then continues to taunt him. Jason gets out and he and Greg start smashing each other’s cars. Another car pulls up and they all cheer the action as Greg’s friend and the gas station attendant get in on the action, while Camille simply gets a ride out of there with her friend Moon. Later, after things cool down and both cars are towed away, Jason catches a ride with another female friend and Greg’s friend goes with them, leaving Greg to sit on the side of the road by himself. Meanwhile, Camille and Moon end up at the burger joint and park next to Bobby’s van, where they are amused by what they hear coming from the van. Back at the gas station, Greg is picked up by a girl on a motorcycle and they pass by Jason and his friend, who were stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, and she takes him to a house party, where they proceed to have sex and afterwards, she drops him back off at the gas station. Back at the burger joint, Bobby and the waitress finish having sex when Moon talks to him about his van, and challenges him to a drag race. Bobby agrees and they head to a nearby road for the race but as they are racing, Zass pulls them over. Inside the cell, Bobby, Moon, and Camille are placed in the same cell as Chooch and Bobby is telling Chooch his version of what happened when Greg is added to the cell. Once inside, he immediately tries talking to Camille and when he learns they will be released in the morning, he invites them all to the amusement park, telling Camille it was part of his dream. Moon and Bobby agree to go and Greg convinces Chooch to come with them. The next day, they all head to the amusement park and Greg wants to ride the Revolution, the massive roller coaster, right off the bat but Chooch and Camille are hesitant and convince him they should check out some of the other parts of the park first. The group heads out and has fun, with Greg and Camille and Moon and Bobby seemingly getting closer. The finally decide to ride the Revolution, though Chooch is still hesitant, and afterwards, he races to the bathroom to throw up. When he returns, Greg teases him and taunts him about going on an even larger roller coaster, causing Chooch to run off to puke again. As they head off and catch one of the dance numbers, Greg continues to joke about Chooch, causing Moon to get upset at him, and at Bobby for sticking up for him. When she storms off, Camille and Greg tell Bobby that Moon really likes him, then head out to go dancing. Bobby tries to patch things up with Moon, who asks if they are on a date or just hanging out. When another guy asks Moon to dance, Bobby tells him that she is with him, but then reveals that he can’t really dance. Moon says it is ok and leads him out onto the dance floor and the proceed to start dancing. while Camille and Greg are dancing and kissing nearby. Meanwhile, Zass is attempting to have sex with a girl named Wanda, who he picked up for hitchhiking, but she tricks him into getting out of the car and as he tries to get back in, she handcuffs him to the door frame, then leaves him there. Wanda starts walking down the road and eventually ends up being picked up by Chooch, who takes her back to his place. As Chooch is talking to her, she reveals they hooked up once at the drive-in, and Chooch is embarrassed for not recognizing her, and they soon end up kissing. Meanwhile, Camille and Greg are makign out in Moon’s van after Greg drives her home and she tells him to sneak into her room so they can have sex but Greg goes in the wrong window and ends up in bed with her parents, which makes her mom scream and her father chase him out of the house. On the beach, Bobby and Moon are drinking and talking about what they should do next and end up having sex in Bobby’s van. The next day, Chooch goes with Wanda to race go karts, where he gets attacked by an old woman for breaking her course record. Later, they are playing air hockey when Bobby and the others show up and as Chooch introduces Wanda to his friends, Bobby is shocked to see that Wanda is the waitress he hooked up with, but he, Moon, and Camille keep that from Chooch. As the group hangs out and play video games, Bobby and Moon continue competing against each other, which starts to annoy the others. Chooch suggests they drag race early in the morning and Camille says she knows just the spot so they agree to do that. Meanwhile, Zass is still cuffed to his car and a biker shows up and taunts him before stealing his gear, wallet, and radio. Some time later, a dog shows up and Zass tries to get it to bring him the keys but it buries them instead. The group hang out at the beach, where Greg accidentally lets a pig loose on the beach, and when he goes to get a sandwich, he ends up injuring his jaw when he opens it to take a bite. Bobby, Camille, and Moon accompany Greg to the doctor’s officeso he can get it fixed, where they have to deal with the nurse who refuses to let them talk and forces Greg to try and explain the situation. After Greg gets his jaw fixed, Camille puts him in a dress so she can sneak him into her house that night but as they are having sex, her father shows up in the room trying to seduce Greg (not realizing he is a guy) and he is caught by Camille’s mother, who is shocked at what she sees. Meanwhile, Chooch lets Bobby and Moon use the garage he works at to do some last minute tune ups on their vans for tomorrows race and Greg ends up working on his van all night, which annoys Moon. The next day, Zass’ mother finds him and worries over her son and he tells her that the keys are buried and she leaves him to go get some help looking for them. On an unfinished stretch of highway, Moon and Bobby proceed to drag race and Bobby ends up winning. When he heads over to Moon’s van, she congratulates him but says that she is disappointed, as he seems to love the van more than her. Taking offense to that, Bobby gets in his van and drives off, heading towards a cliff, then jumps out before the van topples over it. Moon and the others rush towards him but as Moon questions why Bobby did that, he tries to embrace her but she yells at him and drives off. Greg and the others follow after her, leaving Bobby at the end of the highway, but Moon quickly turns around and goes back to Bobby and embraces him. Chooch decides to sell his hot rod, as he plans on marrying Wanda and heading to Tennessee to start a new life together. He ends up selling his hot rod to Zass, who has quit the police force and ends up getting busted by the police on a regular basis now.

I have to admit, that wasn’t quite what I was expecting to get out of this movie but it did get a couple of laughs out of me. The acting was ok but honestly, nobody really stood out enough where the parts couldn’t have been played by someone else. The story was decent, basically a trip down memory lane of sorts to what some felt was the antics going on those days. All I can say personally was that it had some of the good and bad that I have come to expect from movies about the 70’s. The comedy was mostly situational and there were some good bits, such as the cutaways to Zass as he is cuffed to his police car and nobody helps him, to Greg having sex with Camille when her dad walks in and starts feeling up Greg, all while Greg is trying to be quiet and Camille keeps responding to her father’s questions and comments, as she seems amused to see how this turns out. So it has some laughs in it but this is just a time killer movie, not really worth going out of your way to watch.

Rating: 2 out of 5

action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review

April 20th, 2018 Movie – Van Helsing

van helsing

You really have to feel bad when studios and directors have high hopes and expectations for a movie, only to have them essentially fall flat on it’s face. That is exactly what happened with today’s movie. This was supposed to be the first in a series of films starring the title character and incorporating many of the Universal monsters in them. Unfortunately for them, nothing much came of it as the poor opening weekend performance cause the plans for any follow up to be scrapped. However, I knew absolutely none of this when I went to see this movie in theaters. All I wanted was to be entertained and I definitely was entertained, though probably not in the way that it was intended. So let’s have some fun with today’s movie, Van Helsing.

The plot: In 1887 Transylvania, a mob of villagers storm the castle of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who has just finished bringing life to his monster. Seeing the villagers coming, Frankenstein wants to flee with his creation but his partner, Count Dracula, says he can’t allow him to leave, as he has plans for the monster. Victor refuses to allow Dracula to use his creation for evil and calls out for his assistant Igor to help him, only to learn that Igor has betrayed him and sided with Dracula. Frankenstein attempts to kill Dracula but Dracula mocks him, running himself through with his sword, then grabs Frankenstein and kills him. As this is going on, the monster breaks free from it’s restraints and throws some of the equipment at Dracula, knocking him into the fire. The monster then grabs Frankenstein’s body and escapes out a side passage as the villagers make their way into the castle, but Igor calls out to Frankenstein, alerting the villagers to their presence. They chase the monster to a windmill and set fire to it, and the Monster make’s it’s way to the top and yells out “Why” to the villagers, just before the fire weakens the building and he falls into the burning debris. Dracula makes his way out of the fire and rejoins with his three brides, chasing off the villagers before landing at the base of the windmill, where his brides cry out as Dracula simply stares, believing the monster to be destroyed. One year later, Van Helsing tracks down the monstrous Mr. Hyde to Paris and confronts him in Notre Dame Cathedral. During the fight, Van Helsing manages to cut off one of Hyde’s arms but Hyde gets the upper hand and, after throwing Van Helsing through the roof, he taunts him briefly before dropping him off the roof of the cathedral. Van Helsing grabs a grappling gun and shoots it through Hyde, stopping himself from falling, then attempts to pull Hyde off the roof but Hyde is able to stop himself from going over. Hyde then grabs the cable and runs across the roof, pulling Van Helsing back up with him, but he loses his balance and falls off the roof, then ends up swinging through the cathedral only to fall out the other side, transforming back to Dr. Jekyll before he hits the street. As Van Helsing looks down from the roof, a crowd gathers at the body and the police spot Van Helsing and yell out for him, as he is a wanted man. Van Helsing makes his way to Vatican City and attends a confession, where Cardinal Jinette admonishes him for breaking the window and killing Hyde, as it brings too much attention to the Holy Order. Van Helsing says he doesn’t like being known as the most wanted man in Europe and asks the Order help him but the Cardinal says the Order doesn’t exist, which is why it is a secret order. He then says that Van Helsing’s lack of memory is due to his past sins and his dealing with monsters is how he can recover it. He then tells him that he will be going to Transylvania to help a Romanian family kill Dracula, as their ancestor swore he and his family would not enter Heaven until they did so. The family is down to the last two members, Anna and Velkan Valerious, and if Dracula is not killed before they die, the entire family will be doomed to limbo. Van Helsing goes to see Carl, a monk that helps make him weapons to use, and after being shown the latest weapons, Van Helsing tells Carl that he is coming with him to Transylvania. Meanwhile, in Transylvania, Anna and Velkan lead some villagers in an attempt to kill a werewolf. The werewolf manages to escape it’s trap and chases after Anna, who gets trapped on the edge of a cliff, but as the werewolf leaps at her, Velkan pushes her aside and shoots the werewolf, just as it strikes him and knocks both of them off the cliff and into the water below. Some time later, Van Helsing and Carl arrive in the village, but are greeted by a mob of villagers. Anna appears and demands that they be disarmed, telling the villagers to kill when they refuse. Van Helsing says he is there to help her, pulling out his crossbow just as the three brides appear and begin attacking the villagers. The brides are focused on killing Anna and Van Helsing is able to save her just before the sun coming out from behind the clouds forces the brides to hide. When the clouds cover the sun again, the brides renew their attack, with Verona and Aleera going after Anna while Marishka goes after Van Helsing. Van Helsing dips his crossbow into some holy water from the church and fires the bolts at Marishka, killing her, and the other brides, sensing her death, scream in rage and fly off. Back at Dracula’s lair, Dracula wakes from his sleep and mourns the loss of Marishka, chastising Verona and Aleera for failing to kill Anna. Dracula says that his plans are almost finished and he tells Igor to finish training his new werewolf to kill Anna, while he retires with his brides to Castle Frankenstein. Back at the Anna’s home, Van Helsing speaks with her about where to find Dracula but Anna plans on going after him on her own, as she doesn’t want anyone else to die, so Van Helsing knocks her out. When Anna comes too, she senses movement in the castle and discovers Velkan is still alive but as he tries to warn her, he suddenly transforms, revealing himself to be the new werewolf. Van Helsing shows up and stops Velkan from killing Anna but as he attempts to shoot him, Anna stops him and when Van Helsing asks her why, she says that Dracula has a cure for lycanthropy and she wants to find it to save Velkan’s life. The two track Velkan to Castle Frankenstein, where Dracula is attempting to use Frankenstein’s experiment to bring life to his dead-born offspring. Using Velkan’s body to help channel the electricity, Dracula has Igor begin the experiment and the baby vampires come to life and Dracula has Verona and Aleena take them to the village to feed. Van Helsing starts shooting the baby vampires, enraging Dracula and he goes after him while Anna goes to the lab to find the cure. Van Helsing manages to stab Dracula with a silver stake but Dracula survives and calls Van Helsing Gabriel. Realizing that Van Helsing doesn’t remember his past, Dracula taunts him with his past and asks if he wants to know the truth. Meanwhile, the vampire babies attack the village and Carl attempts to help the villagers when the babies suddenly begin exploding. Verona and Aleena cry out in grief and head back to the castle, distracitng Dracula long enough for Van Helsing to escape. Meanwhile, Anna makes her way to the lab and after fending off Dracula’s minions, the Dwerger, and makes her way to Velkan but she is unable to save him. Velkan starts to change just as Van Helsing reaches her and they manage to escape while Velkan falls in the river trying to stop them. Van Helsing and Anna take shelter in the remains of the windmill and start to bond when the floor gives way and they fall into a chasm underneath it. As they recover, they encounter Frankenstein’s monster, and he tells them that he is the key to bringing Dracula’s children to life just before Van Helsing knocks him out. Anna wants to kill him but Van Helsing stops her, saying evil may have played a part in his creation but he senses no evil from the creature. When they spot Velkan above them, Anna tries to shoot him but he escapes and she realizes that he will tell Dracula that the creature was found so Van Helsing suggests they head to Vatican City with him. Meanwhile, Carl discovers a hidden painting depicting a vampire and a werewolf fighting against each other and he tells Van Helsing about it, but they aren’t sure what it means. Van Helsing loads up Carl and the monster into a carriage and takes off through the forest, only to be attacked by Verona and Aleena. As Van Helsing struggles with them, the carriage races towards a broken bridge and though the horses, and Van Helsing, make it across, the carriage doesn’t and starts to fall into the ravine. Verona attempts to rescue the creature but when she opens the door, she finds it was a booby-trapped decoy and she is killed by the stakes that fire out of it when it explodes. Van Helsing meets up with Anna, who is driving the real carriage, but they are attacked by Velkan, who sets the carriage on fire. Frankenstein’s monster helps rescue Anna and Van Helsing and they jump to safety, as Van Helsing shoots at Velkan when he leaps at them. When Anna recovers, she finds Velkan is dead and yells at Van Helsing for killing him only to discover that he was bitten. As Anna backs away in terror, she is knocked unconscious by Aleena and flown away to Budapest. Van Helsing, Carl, and Frankenstein’s monster make their way to Budapest and are met by Aleena, who tells them Dracula is willing to make an exchange; Anna for Frankenstein’s monster. After she leaves, Frankenstein’s monster discovers that Van Helsing has been bitten and Van Helsing apologizes to him just before knocking him out. Van Helsing places him in a crypt in order to hide him and he and Carl make their way to the masquerade ball to rescue Anna. Van Helsing manages to rescue her before Dracula makes her his new bride but Igor shows up with Frankenstein’s monster. The other guests all reveal themselves to be vampires and take off after Van Helsing and Anna but Carl manages to kill them with a sunlight grenade as they jump out a window. Seeing Igor carrying away Frankenstein’s monster in a boat, Van Helsing chases after them but is stopped when a gate closes and he yells out that he will find and free him. Carl tells him that Rome ordered Frankenstein’s monster to be destroyed and Van Helsing asks if he is to be killed as well, the apologizes to Carl for his actions. They return to Frankenstein’s castle to find all of the equipment has been removed and are at a loss for how to find them. Heading back to Anna’s place, Carl tells them everything that he learned about Dracula and Van Helsing figures out where the door to Dracula’s castle is. Giving Carl the missing piece needed to read the inscription, they are able to make their way to the castle, and Van Helsing uses his newly enhanced strength to carry Anna and Carl inside. Once there, they capture Igor and locate Frankenstein’s monster, who tells them Dracula has a cure for lycanthropy just before he is taken up to the tower. Van Helsing wonders why Dracula has a cure and Carl realizes a werewolf is the only thing that can kill Dracula, so he kept the cure with him in case one ever turned against him. Van Helsing has Igor lead Carl and Anna to get the cure while he goes to rescue Frankenstein’s monster and Anna and Van Helsing embrace and kiss before they separate. In the lab, Frankenstein’s monster is attached to the machine and Dracula has him lifted up to channel the lightning so he can bring his children to life. Meanwhile, Igor leads Anna and Carl to the cure but traps them in the room, where Aleena is waiting for them. Anna knocks over the container the cure is floating in, revealing it to be some sort of acid, and as Aleena screams in pain from where the liquid hit her face, Anna tells carl to grab the cure while she scoops up some of the liquid and uses it on the locked door. Burning away some of the bars, Anna tells Carl to get the cure to Van Helsing just as Aleena recovers and goes after Anna. Carl makes his way across the bridge towards the lab but is attacked by Igor, who uses a giant cattle prod to try and force Carl off the bridge. Van Helsing makes his way to the roof of the tower amd works on freeing Frankenstein’s monster just as the first bolt of lightning hits him, starting the process. Noticing Van Helsing trying to free the monster, Dracula transforms and flies up to attack him, knocking him back down into the lab. Frankenstein’s monster tries to finish freeing himself just as a second bolt hits, bringing all of the babies to life. The resulting burst of electricity also serves to free Frankenstein’s monster and send him plunging over the edge of the roof. He manages to grab onto some of the cables as he falls towards the bridge, inadvertently knocking Igor off the bridge as he does. As Frankenstein’s monster clings to the rope, he begs Carl for help and Carl, disobeying the Vatican’s orders, agrees to do so, freeing the cable from where it is stuck so that Frankenstein’s monster can swing to safety. Meanwhile, Anna is knocked down by Aleena, who moves to kill her when Frankenstein’s monster comes crashing through the window, saving Anna as he knocks Aleena away. Back in the lab, the Dwerger all flee from the fires inside as Dracula swoops down to face Van Helsing. As the clock strikes midnight, Van Helsing transforms into a werewolf, shocking Dracula, who tries to reason with him but quickly transforms as the two begin fighting. Elsewhere, Frankenstein’s monster starts battling Aleena, yelling for Anna to go help Van Helsing, and she thanks him before leaving the room. Seeing Carl unable to cross the bridge due to most of it being destroyed, she uses the cables to swing over to the lab, having Carl toss her the cure as she passes him. Suddenly, Aleena slams into Anna, knocking her off course, and Aleena taunts Anna as she moves to kill her but Carl throws a silver stake to Anna, who quickly plunges it into Aleena’s chest, killing her. Back in the lab, Dracula and Van Helsing continue to fight and Van Helsing gets the upper hand when he suddenly transforms back into human due to the moon being covered by a cloud. Dracula taunts him and tells him part of his history, how he is actually Gabriel the Archangel, the Left Hand of God, and was the one who originally killed Dracula 400 years ago. Dracula offers to tell Van Helsing more but Van Helsing says sometimes the past should stay forgotten, just as the moon reemerges. Transforming back into a werewolf, Van Helsing quickly overpowers Dracula and bites him in the neck, causing him to whither and die, as well as all of the baby vampires. Anna enters the room and goes to plunge the cure into Van Helsing but he senses her and charges towards her. Carl enters the room and sees Van Helsing standing over Anna and goes to kill him, like Van Helsing wanted, but Van Helsing stops him, revealing the needle with the cure protruding from his chest. Carl then sees that Anna is dead and Van Helsing grabs her and howls out in grief as he transforms back into human, crying in grief over being responsible for her death. Some time later, Van Helsing and Carl place Anna’s body on a funeral pyre and set it ablaze, while Frankenstein’s monster pilots a raft away from the shore, taking one last look at his friends before continuing his journey. As Carl reads a prayer over the pyre, Van Helsing senses Anna’s spirit and he looks away from the fire to see her reunited with Velkan, her father, and the rest of her ancestors as they all finally make their way towards heaven. As he watches Anna smile and shed a tear before turning and making her journey, Van Helsing gets a smile on his face and rides off with Carl back towards Rome.

Van Helsing was mostly panned by the critics, holding a 23% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A hollow creature feature that suffers from CGI overload.” The place where Van Helsing and Anna fight Dracula’s three wives is the same place where Frankenstein (1931)Dracula (1931), and The Wolf Man (1941) were filmed. The set is called the Court of Miracles, and it’s part of the studio tour at Universal Studios Hollywood. In 2012, Universal announced they were rebooting the franchise, modernizing it as part of a shared universe, with Tom Cruise to star but the idea stalled out and Cruise left the film only to resign onto the rebooted movie, The Mummy (2017). Despite the poor reviews, the movie was a modest hit at the box office, as it’s $300.3 million worldwide gross almost doubled it’s $160 million budget.

This movie is entertaining to watch because of how bad it really is. I mean, I was almost rolling on the floor laughing when I saw this in theaters. The acting was decent, with Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale doing good jobs in their roles of Van Helsing and Anna respectively. I also liked David Wenham (Carl) and Kevin J. O’Connor (Igor) as they both provided a fair bit of comic relief, but I hated Richard Roxburgh’s Dracula. The story was interesting and I liked the idea of having a different Van Helsing, as opposed to the traditional Abraham Van Helsing, but I think they tried to push the idea of him really being an archangel a bit much. I also thought the idea of Dracula’s children being still born and needing to be brought to life via Frankenstein’s monster being a neat idea and actually a decent plot point, but it could have been better served as the plot for a later movie instead of the first installment. However, those good parts don’t make up for some of the most ridiculous and somewhat pointless dialogue that occurred through this movie, as there were several times where it was just absolutely stupid. Now, I am kind of split on the special effects, as there were some good parts and some really cheesy parts involved. I will say that I liked the concept of having the werewolves ripping their skin off to reveal the werewolf emerging, giving a rather literal depiction of “the Beast within”. However, I hated the way the vampires looked, as they seemed way too blue in hue that just made it rather odd looking. I also thought Frankenstein’s Monster was a little too steampunkish in appearance, and the clap trap head of his was just ridiculous and only seemed to be there for a cheap laugh. So on the whole, this is not a good movie, but it can be a lot of fun to watch just so you can make fun of it.

Rating: 3 out of 5

horror, movie, movie review

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

the vampires night orgy

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

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

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

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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

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

vampire hunter d bloodlust

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

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

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

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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

April 17th, 2018 Movie – Vampire Hunter D

vampire hunter d

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

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

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

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5