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

May 1st, 2018 Movie – War-Gods Of The Deep

war-gods of the deep

I wonder if Edgar Allan Poe had any idea just how influential his writings would become to future generations. I mean, how many movies have been released that are based or inspired by one of his poems or short stories. However many there are, today’s movie can be added to that list. Now I will admit that I never heard of the poem that this movie is loosely based on but that isn’t too surprising as he has a fair amount of work that I have never heard of. So let’s see just what kind of a movie we have as I watch War-Gods Of The Deep.

The plot: When the body of a lawyer washes up on the shore of Cornwall, England, Ben Harris, an American mining engineer, decides to head to the nearby hotel to speak with Jill Tregellis, whom the lawyer was working for. When he reaches the hotel, he finds the hotel suffering from a black out and the doorman escorts him to the library where Jill is. As he opens the door, Ben catches a rooster that flies up towards him and Jill explains the rooster is Herbert, then introduces Ben to an eccentric artist named Harold Tufnell-Jones, who is on top of a bookcase. After Ben helps Harold down, he asks Jill about her lawyer and she says he is in the study across the hall. When they head there, they hear a commotion from inside the room and Ben tells Jill to go back to the library while he heads inside. Ben finds the room ransacked and as he looks around, he is attacked by a gillman, who throws some items at him before disappearing through a secret passage in the wall. Jill and Harold enter the room just as the lights come on and when Jill asks where her lawyer is, Ben tells her he found his body on the beach. After questioning Jill about who would want to hurt the lawyer, Ben decides to stay the night and sleep on the couch in the study in case whatever was there decides to come back. Later that night, Jill enters the room to check on Ben when she is grabbed by the gillman and taken through the secret passage. Roused by the commotion, Ben looks around before he hears someone approaching and accidentally attacks Harold when he enters the room. Finding some seaweed near the fireplace, Ben explains what happened and tries locating the secret door when Herbert manages to push the button to open it. Ben, Harold, and Herbert head down the secret passage and come to a swirling pool of water, which Harold accidentally knocks them into. After being sucked down into the water, they find themselves in an underwater city and start exploring. The see a group of men chain another man to a pillar, then leave as the room starts to fill with water. Ben goes to try and free the man but the man tells them to leave before they drown with him. Continuing into the city, Ben and Harold are confronted by a man and Ben grabs him and asks where Jill is before knocking the man out. As a sudden tremor rocks the city, Ben and Harold are confronted by The Captain, who leads them to a window to show them the city in the sea. He points out the nearby volcano, and says that the tremors have been getting stronger and could be signaling the end of the city but doesn’t know when it will occur; a year, a month, perhaps even a week. Harold starts babbling and says that Ben could help stop the volcano and the Captain has them taken to the library so they can figure out a plan. Once they are alone, Ben asks Harold what he was thinking and Harold explains that he was trying to stall for time, as the Captain doesn’t know that Ben can’t help him. One of the Captain’s crew, Dan, enters the room and tells them that he can help them escape from there and says he wants them to convince the authorities to grant him a full pardon for his smuggling crimes. Suddenly, the Captain enters the room with some more of his men and they take Dan prisoner. The Captain explains that the gas that they breathe that allows them to survive down there for so long has altered there bodies, which would cause them to age quickly and die if they were exposed to sunlight, then orders Dan to be executed by taking him to the surface to see for himself. The Captain then has Dan and Harold blindfolded and leads them to the room where Jill is being kept so they can see she is still alive. After speaking with her, they are joined by another man, Reverend Jonathan Ives, who says he has been down there for several decades. The Captain then takes Ben and Harold from the room but Harold was able to count the steps they took and the two find their way back to Jill. Once they reach her, they try to get Jonathan to tell them of a way out of there but before they can leave, they are captured by The Captain and his men. The Captain says that he will let the gillman decide their fate and explains that the gillmen want to sacrifice them to the volcano, thinking it might appease it and stop the tremors. Ben and Harold are taken from the room and told that guards will be posted outside to keep them from escaping. As Ben and Harold try to figure out their next move, Jill and Jonathan enter the room, having knocked out the guard. Jonathan explains that they have to whisper, as there are listening tubes in the walls that allow the Captain and his men to hear them, and tells them that he knows the way out but the land passage is currently underwater so the only way they can make it out in time is to use the breathing helmets and walk across the ocean floor to the tunnel. Jonathan heads to the Captain’s room and sounds the bells, signalling Ben and the others to head out but as they enter the room, Jill notices a picture on the wall of the Captain’s dead wife and realizes she looks just like her, explaining the Captain’s obsession with Jill. As Ben, Jill, and Harold don the suits and head out onto the ocean floor, the Captain and his men follow after them, signalling the gillmen to help stop them. After struggling with the gillmen and avoiding the crossbows from the Captain’s men, they reach the tunnel and Ben goes looking for the passage to the surface, while Harold and Jill chase after Herbert, who had escaped from Harold’s suit. When a sudden tremor rocks the cavern, Jill and Harold find themselves trapped, just as the Captain and his surviving men arrive and attempt to kill Ben. Ben is able to knock out the men while a tremor cause part of the statues to fall onto the Captain, trapping them. Ben manages to free Jill and HArold but the tremors have blocked the passageway to the surface so they quickly don the suits and make their way to the surface along the sea bed. The gillmen attack Ben and the others but they manage to kill them with the underwater crossbows and make it to the surface. Meanwhile, as the tremors increase and lava begins to enter the chamber, some falling debris breaks the statue enough for the Captain to escape. e finds the passage to the surface cleared and he makes his way up towards the surface only to have the sunlight quickly age him and he collapses and dies at the chamber’s entrance. Ben, Jill, and Harold watch from the surface as the volcano erupts, destroying the underwater city for good.

You know, a lot of adventure/fantasy style movies came out in the late 50’s/early 60’s and no matter the plot, they all had the same basic feel to them. Today’s movie is no different, a decent movie but honestly lacked that true original feel to it that would make it stand out from the others. The acting was ok, with Vincent Price playing his usual stoic persona, while David Tomlinson was really funny in his bizarre antics as Harold. Unfortunately, I thought Tab Hunter (Ben) and Susan Hart (Jill) both seemed too bland to really garner any sympathies from the audience. The story was pretty interesting but there were elements that seemed to play out in a lot of other movies, such as the volcano playing a integral role in the movie’s climax like in Atragon or Journey To The Center Of The Earth. The special effects were ok while the costume designs for the gillmen, as well as the diving helmets, were actually pretty good. A good movie but nothing especially noteworthy about it.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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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

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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

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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

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

April 16th, 2018 Movie – Valley Of The Dragons

valley of the dragons

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

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

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

Rating: 2 out of 5

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action, fantasy, horror, movie, movie review

April 5th, 2018 Movie – Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans

underworld 3

Shortly after Underworld was released, the studio green lit a sequel and prequel to be made, solely on the basis of the early ticket sales. Well, the problem with prequels is that you are only going to get half of the known characters at best. Still, the idea of a prequel was pretty well set up in the first movie because the start of the war between the Lycans and vampires was really the only story they could possibly tell and I was interested in seeing how they set up the story. So let’s see how this war really got started with today’s movie, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans.

The plot: 200 years after vampires and werewolves first came to be, Viktor has worked on killing off all of the werewolves until he finds a werewolf baby that was able to change back into human. Viktor decides to spare the baby, calling it Lucian, and as Lucian grows and becomes a formidable warrior, Viktor decides to have Lucian create more “Lycans”, which the vampires will train and use as their protectors during the daytime. Meanwhile, the woods in the area are still filled with savage werewolves leftover from William Corvinus’ rampage and the local villagers offer tributes of silver to Viktor in exchange for protection. One night, as Viktor’s daughter Sonja is riding back to the castle, when she is attacked by a pack of werewolves and she manages to kill 2 of them but three more are close on her heels. As she nears the castle, guards begins firing at the werewolves but it is Lucian, who works as a blacksmith, who manages to kill them with a crossbow. After safely making it inside, Sonja curtly greets Lucian and Viktor chastises her and says she should show some gratitude towards him for saving her life, then quietly admonishes Lucian for not showing the “proper reverence” towards his daughter. As the night continues, Lucian disposes of the dead werewolf bodies but feels increasingly frustrated over the vampires using himself and the other Lycans as mere slaves to be abused. Meanwhile, inside the council chamber, Viktor is being informed of the humans’ anger that the werewolf problem is not being dealt with and one of the vampire nobles suggests that while the Death Dealers patrol the woods at night, they could send some of the more trusted Lycans, led by Lucian, to look for the werewolves during the day. The noble asks for Sonja’s opinion on the matter only to find her seat empty and Viktor has his aide, Tanis, go and find her. Meanwhile, the Lycans are being returned to their pens but Lucian manages to sneak away to a remote part of the castle, where he is met by Sonja. The two reveal themselves to be lovers and after making love, Lucian talks about leaving the castle. He shows Sonja a key he made to remove the shackles and collar around his neck and Sonja begs him not to use it, as he would be killed on sight. The two dress and make their way back to the main courtyard but as they go their separate ways, they are spotted by Tanis, and Lucian notices him as he leaves. The next night, the human nobles head towards the castle to pay a visit to Viktor and Sonja rides out to escort them to the castle, defying Viktor’s orders to stay in the castle. As Lucian continues working in the castle, Tanis approaches him and warns him about where he fixes his gaze, as it might betray his secret. When Sonja reaches the carriage, the horses all start getting nervous and she orders her men to form up so they can escort the carriage. Back at the castle, Lucian hears the werewolves moving through the woods and realizes that there are too many out there and tries to warn the guards that Sonja is in danger. When they don’t listen to him, Lucian steals a horse and rides off to save Sonja. Back at the carriage, Sonja and her men come under attack by werewolves and find themselves overwhelmed when Lucian arrives and helps out, as does Raze, one of the captured slaves. After rescuing Sonja, Lucian realizes he has no choice and removes his collar so that he can transform and as he roars out at the other werewolves, they back away into the forest. Viktor’s troops arrive and shoot Lucian and Sonja tells them to stop, then pulls out the silver barbs before they kill him. When Viktor approaches, Sonja says he did it to save her life but Viktor says that he is the leader of the coven and despite the good intentions, Lucian broke his rules and has to be punished. Viktor has Lucian whipped in the courtyard as a warning to the other Lycans not to disobey, and also to serve as a means to dissuade the other vampire nobles from trying to trust the Lycans, hoping to instill his own xenophobic beliefs into the others. After Lucian is returned to his cell, Raze gives him some water and the two begin bonding before Raze and the new slaves are taken away to be turned into Lycans themselves. Meanwhile, the other human nobles arrive and pay their tribute of silver to Viktor but when one man refuses, saying that werewolves have attacked his workers and that Viktor can barely protect his own castle, Viktor kills him in order to dissuade the other humans from backing out on their tributes. Meanwhile, Sonja goes to speak with Tanis to find out what he told her father and Tanis says nothing, as he hopes to use his knowledge to get her to relinquish her seat on the council to him. Learning that Viktor plans to have Lucian killed, Sonja sneaks down to the cells and tries to convince Lucian to flee but he refuses to do so without the other Lycans, as he doesn’t want them to remain slaves forever. Tanis manages to sneak Lucian the key to his collar and when the torturer goes to kill Lucian, Lucian transforms and kills him instead. Lucian quickly works on freeing all of the other Lycans and they try to quietly leave the castle but the vampires catch wind of the escape and begin firing bolts from their scorpions through the walls to try and stop them. The vampires manage to kill some of the Lycans and fire enough bolts to form a barrier, stopping most of them from escaping but Lucian, Raze, and some others manage to escape, with Lucian promising to come back for them. Making their way into the woods, they stop to rest and Lucian has Raze lead them back to the noble’s house that he came from, and Lucian begins recruiting humans to his cause while gathering weapons. Sending Raze and the others to go gather more people to their cause, Lucian heads out into the woods and encounters the savage werewolves, hoping to bring calm them and bring them over to his cause as well. Meanwhile, Viktor tries to figure out how Lucian escapes and accuses Tanis of helping him but Tanis reveals that Lucian must have made a key to free his collar. Viktor then goes to see Sonja and ask her if she helped Lucian and then decides to see if she is lying by biting her. After drinking her blood and seeing her memories, Viktor learns of Sonja and Lucian being lovers and he tells her she betrayed him and orders her confined to her room. Meanwhile, more people have been gathering to Lucian’s cause, causing some of the nobles to grow worried and ask Viktor to do something about him. One of the noblewomen rides out to Lucian’s camp and tells him about Sonja’s imprisonment and Lucian wants to go save her. Raze tries to talk her out of it, saying that it is obviously a trap but Lucian says that if he doesn’t return, Raze should continue the fight or lead the people to safety. Lucian makes his way into the castle and frees Sonja, then tries to lead her out through the sewer entrance but Viktor, having discovered Lucian’s use of the sewers, drops barrels of oil and torches to light the tunnels on fire, attempting to trap him. Lucian and Sonja try to fight their way to freedom, with Sonja facing off against Viktor. Sonja manages to get the upper hand on Viktor and when he says killing him won’t spare Lucian, Sonja tells him that she is pregnant with Lucian’s child, saying that it is a merging of the bloodlines. Viktor becomes enraged and manages to grab Sonja and hold a knife to her throat while Lucian is captured. A trial is held and Sonja is sentenced to death so she is placed in a chamber with Lucian and the roof is opened up to allow sunlight inside, burning her to death. When night falls, Viktor enters the chamber to look at Sonja’s body and Lucian, enraged at what happened, manages to force the silver bolts from his body and transform, knocking Viktor down. As Death Dealers start to arrive, Lucian grabs Sonja’s necklace and attempts to escape the castle but he is shot several times by the guards and as he reaches the castle wall, he roars out into the night. In their camp, Raze and the other Lycans hear Lucian’s roar and are unsure what to do until the witness the savage werewolves all racing out of the woods towards the castle and they decide to follow. The vampires begin firing at the werewolves but there are too many and the castle ends up being overrun. Raze helps Lucian remove the silver bolts from his body and Lucian tells him to go free the others while he heals for a bit before joining the fight. Viktor tells Tanis to get the Elders (Marcus and Amelia) out of there while he enters the fight, Lucian makes his way towards him and the two eventually begin fighting in one of the lower chambers. As they both blame the other for Sonja’s death, Lucian traps Viktor in some chains as the sun starts to come up and stabs him in the mouth before letting him fall to the water below. Lucian emerges from the building to find the Lycans have won the battle and Raze says it is finished but Lucian tells him it is just beginning. Elsewhere, Viktor is shown to have survived and made it onto the ship transporting the other Elders and Tanis seals him into a hibernation chamber to heal.

Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans met with poor results from the critics, earning a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Despite the best efforts of its competent cast, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is an indistinguishable and unnecessary prequel.” This movie is the first, and so far only, movie in the franchise not to star Kate Beckinsale. Rhona Mitra, who stars in this movie, was actually considered to play the role of Selene but was passed over for Beckinsale. The movie was a modest success at the box office, earning $92.1 million off of a $35 million budget.

I will be honest, I am a little underwhelmed on this movie. The acting was ok, with Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy doing good jobs reprising their roles of Lucian and Viktor respectively. I also thought Rhona Mitra did a good job portraying Sonja but felt like the character herself was a little bland (no fault on Rhona’s acting). The basic story was pretty good but I felt like they spent too much time trying to set things up for the first movie instead of letting things flow naturally and telling a story on it’s own that would explain how things happened. The lighting worked well and helped make the settings more dramatic, especially the few times that the scenes were brighter, which really emphasized the moment in them. However, I was a little disappointed in the special effects, as there seemed to be no real improvement in them, despite the fact that 6 years had passed between the movies. It’s a decent entry in the series but I feel like they could have done more with it.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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action, fantasy, horror, movie, movie review

April 4th, 2018 Movie – Underworld: Evolution

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Sequels, sequels, and more sequels. Sometimes it seems like if a movie has even a hint of making a profit, Hollywood will make a sequel to try and get as much money as they can off of it; sort of a “strike while the iron is hot” mentality. That seems to be the case with today’s movie. Despite the poor reviews from the critics, Underworld made a decent profit and Len Wiseman decided to pitch a sequel to the studio and the agreed to go for it. So let’s see how good of a job they did with today’s movie, Underworld: Evolution.

The plot: In 1202, the three vampire elders (Viktor, Amelia, and Marcus Corvinus) arrive at the edge of a town that has been slaughtered by Marcus’ brother William, the first werewolf. Viktor says that William must be stopped and Marcus reminds him of his promise not to kill him. As the vampires head down into the village to take care of the bodies, the bodies begin transforming into Lycans and attacking the vampires. As the battle continues, Viktor orders Marcus to retreat into the woods, saying that if he dies, they all die, as Marcus is the first vampire. After Marcus leaves, one of the vampires approaches Viktor and tells him they located William and Viktor tells him to get Amelia to help capture him, but Marcus sees her leaving with her men and follows after him. Marcus finds Amelia’s men using crossbow bolts with chains to capture and demands they leave William in her care but Viktor refuses, saying that William is to be imprisoned for all time and kept far away from Marcus, who is never to know the location of the prison. In the present day, Selene and Michael Corvin make their way to a vampire safehouse so they can rest but knows they won’t be able to stay there long, as the other vampires will know she is there and come looking for her. Selene starts grabbing weapons and supplies, hoping to get to the coven before sunrise so she can wake Marcus, the last surviving vampire elder before Kraven kills him and when Michael wants to go with her but Selene says she is going alone. Meanwhile, Kraven and his surviving men arrive at the coven and head down to kill Marcus before he awakens only to discover that Marcus has been woken by Singe’s blood when it dripped down into his coffin. Marcus, now a hybrid, kills Kraven’s men, then confronts Kraven, drinking his blood so he can access his memories, and after learning of Michael and Selene, he kills Kraven. Back at the safehouse, Michael still argues about Selene going to the coven alone but she tells him she might have a chance to survive and plead her case to Marcus but Michael will be killed on site. Elsewhere, a helicopter arrives on a cargo ship and some armed men disembark and approach their leader, and tell him the witnesses were silenced without being harmed as he ordered. They then show him footage of their getting rid of the bodies from the various vampire attacks and says that Marcus had killed and razed the coven. The leader heads to the morgue and examines Lucian’s body and is upset when he finds that the necklace Lucian wears, which once belonged to Viktor’s daughter Sonja, is missing. Examining Viktor’s body, the man finds a disk inside Viktor’s chest, which he quickly cuts out of there. Back in the safehouse, Michael is holding the bag of blood that Selene told him to feed on but, still coming to grips with what all has happened, he sets it down and leaves the safehouse. Heading to the nearby bar, he orders some food and starts eating only for his system to reject it. As Michael starts crying out in pain, a news report flashes on the TV showing him to be a wanted man and two police officers that are at the bar go to arrest Michael. Meanwhile, Marcus had gone to the safehouse where Selene and Michael had been attacked previously and accessing the computers, determines where the two are hiding now. As Selene makes her way through the woods, she sees Marcus flying towards the safehouse and quickly turns around and heads back herself. Back at the bar, Michael attacks the police officers, stopping himself from killing them and as he tries to escape, he is shot repeatedly. Selene hears the gunshots and quickly knocks out the police, then forces Michael to drink some of her blood so he can heal. As soon as he recovers, Selene tells him they have to leave but they are suddenly confronted by Marcus. When Selene tries to argue about Viktor deserving his fate, Marcus says he deserved worse and believes Selene knows some of the secrets Viktor was hiding. Michael shoots Marcus and he and Selene make a run for it, commandeering a truck to try and escape. As Selene drives the truck, Marcus and Michael begin fighting but Marcus throws Michael from the truck, but he is able to grab some chains to keep from falling onto the road. Marcus then tries attacking Selene but she manages to slam Marcus into the side of the mountain, damaging his wings so that he can’t follow them. As they continue driving, the sun starts to rise and Selene’s skin starts to blister and peel. Michael has her head into an abandoned factory and, leaving her in the shade of the truck, he works on covering as much of the windows he can, then uses a blanket to cover her and guides her towards a storage container. Seeing her injuries Michael goes to get a first aid kit and treat them but Selene shows that she is healing now that she is out of the sun. Continuing to check her, Michael and Selene get closer and begin kissing and eventually have sex in the container. Meanwhile, Marcus finds a hiding spot so he can rest while his wings repair. Elsewhere, some police discover the safehouse and the dead werewolf inside when they are confronted by the “Cleaners”, who knock them out, grab the werewolf’s body, and blow up the safehouse. The Cleaners contact their leader, who tells them to stay in the air so they can try and locate Selene and Michael. Back in the container, Selene is examining the necklace when she triggers a hidden button and as it opens, she has a memory of seeing it back when she was human. Selene tells Michael they need to go see Andreas Tanis, a vampire historian who was exiled, as he might know more about it. When they get to the monastery where Tanis was exiled, Selene falls into a trap and both her and Michael are confronted by Lycans but they are able to kill them and confront Tanis. Selene learns that Tanis was the one who created the UV bullets that the Lycans had been using and Selene threatens to use them on him unless he tells them what they want to know. Tanis tells her that Viktor was not the first vampire, like everyone was told and believed, but Marcus really was. Marcus had turned Viktor and his army so that they could deal with William, as he had no control over his actions when he turned. When Tanis reveals that Selene’s father was the one to build William’s prison, Selene realizes that that was the reason Viktor killed her family, as they knew too much once Lucian escaped. Tanis says that he can’t help them any more but directs them to go see Lorenz Macaro as he might help them. After they leave, Marcus shows up and talks with Tanis, who tells him about the double keys for William’s prison, just before Marcus bites into him to drink his blood and absorb his memories. Selene and Michael head to the ship and meet with Macaro, who Selene realizes is actually Alexander Corvus, the first immortal and Marcus and William’s father. Corvus reveals that he couldn’t bring himself to kill his sons but spent his life cleaning up after their endless wars and rampages, trying to keep the existence of vampires and Lycans from the humans. Suddenly, Marcus attacks and grabs Michael and impales him onto a pole, apparently killing him. Selene goes to fight Marcus, despite Corvus telling her she is no match for him, and Marcus easily grabs her and impales her arm, drinking the blood so he can learn where William’s prison is as well as the fact that Macaro is his father. When Selene attempts to shoot him, Marcus drops her into the water below and flies back up to the ship and Selene goes to Michael’s body and attempts to revive him but Michael shows no sign of recovering. Marcus makes his way to Corvus and reveals that he plans to use William to create a race of hybrids, with himself as their god, then impales Corvus with his own sword and grabs Viktor’s key from him. Marcus leaves as the helicopter returns and the last of the Cleaners find Corvus mortally wounded. They want to help him but Corvus tells them to bring Selene to him and when they do, Corvus slits his wrist and tells her to drink his blood, telling her it will help her be able to defeat Marcus. Selene and the surviving Cleaners fly off in the helicopter, carrying Michael’s body with them at Selene’s request, and after they leave, Corvus uses an explosive disk to destroy both himself and the ship. Meanwhile, Marcus has arrived at William’s prison and opens the chamber and heads inside. With Selene’s childhood memories coming back to her, Selene leads the Cleaners towards the prison and, finding the entrance underwater, she dives down to enter the prison, accompanied by the Cleaners. As they emerge from the water, William has already reached the cell and freed William, who moves to attack Marcus but Marcus is able to calm him down. Leaving two men to guard the entrance, Selene leads the other three forward only to find they are too late. Selene grabs the key just as they hear gunfrie behind them and they find William has attacked the guards and they move to kill him. Selene is suddenly attacked by Marcus and the two fight briefly before Selene uses the lock to seal Marcus in the prison room, not realizing that some debris kept the door from closing fully. Selene returns to the other chamber to find that there are only two Cleaners left, and they only have UV rounds so they can’t kill William with them. William attacks the two surviving Cleaners and Selene tries to shoot him and when the runs out of bullets, uses some exploding disks, succeeding in blowing a hole in the roof. As Selene grabs a weapon from the fallen Cleaners, she sees them suddenly starting to turn into Lycans and recalls Tanis’ warnings about the Lycan’s William created. As Selene attempts to kill them, the helicopter moves into position to try and help but they can’t shoot at them without risking hitting Selene. Suddenly, Michael is shown to have revived and he leaps from the helicopter and begins helping Selene deal with the new Lycans. After the kill them, Selene approaches Michael but he is suddenly attacked by William. Selene and the helicopter begin shooting at William when Marcus, having finally freed himself from the crypt, attacks the helicopter and brings it down. Marcus then begins fighting Selene while William fights Michael but Michael is able to kill William by ripping his head off. Michael screams in rage at the death of his brother and impales Selene with his wing talon, claiming Viktor should have killed her along with her family but Selene breaks off the talon and stabs Marcus in the head then knocks him into the spinning helicopter blades, slicing him to pieces. Michael and Selene approach each other when the sun starts to rise and Selene discovers that drinking Corvus’ blood has given her an immunity to sunlight, much like a hybrid, and she and Michael embrace each other.

Underworld: Evolution was mostly panned by the critics, holding a 16% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A visual and aural assault on the senses, this vampire-werewolf sequel makes a lot of noise and features a heavy-handed, overly convoluted story.” The girl who plays young Selene is Lily Mo Sheen, Kate Beckinsale’s daughter with Michael Sheen, her co-star in Underworld. Like it’s predecessor, the movie was a hit at the box office, earning $113.4 million off of a $45 million budget, which was a higher box office return but slightly less profitable than the original.

As far as sequels go, this wasn’t bad, but didn’t exactly blow my socks off. The acting was good, with Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman doing a good job reprising their roles of Selene and Michael. Tony Curran and Steven Mackintosh were both pretty good as Marcus and Tanis respectively while Derek Jacobi did a great job in his role as Alexander Corvus, giving it the depth that the character needed. The story was ok, attempting to close up some loose ends that were left open from the first movie, though I feel like they tried to do a little too much when it came to Marcus and his hybrid abilities. The special effects were good and the lighting was about the same, with the bluish tinge to the darkness for the most part while there were some scenes that were brighter which felt like it was meant to indicate a brighter future for both Selene and Michael. If you liked the first movie, you will probably like this one as well.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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