Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Tale of Zatoichi

This is the third Zatoichi movie and the first one in color. Here our pudgy blind samurai friend returns home to find out his old mentor has turned into a bad guy! Zatoichi considers retiring with the woman he loves and having a nice life where he doesn't slice up evildoers but there are, like, twenty movies left in this series so I'll let you guess what he decides.

RATING: 76%

Thursday, September 11, 2014

V/H/S/2

So I didn't really like the first movie in this anthology series, but then a few different people told me the sequel was worth it because there was one great segment included. Unfortunately, every person forgot which number segment it was so I was doomed to watch this whole movie. Like the first one, some people are compelled for some reason to watch a bunch of snuff films, which, despite the fact that this takes place in modern times and every individual short film was shown in context to be shot digitally, have all been transferred down to big ol' unreliable VHS copies. Anyway, there's a boring ghost one, a boring zombie one, A TOTALLY BONKERS AMAZING SHORT HORROR FILM THAT DOES NOT DESERVE TO BE PACKAGED IN THIS SHITTY DEAL, and a boring alien one. Just watch the third segment and you'll be fine.

RATING: 85% (Third segment)
RATING: 26% (Whole movie)

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Crusade

Early Doctor Who serials are divided up pretty evenly between those with historical premises and those based in science fiction. It's my understanding that the historical serials were never particularly popular and were eventually abandoned after the first few seasons. Having seen about a half dozen of these historical serials, it's easy to see that they often follow a basic formula. One or more of the travelers get captured and those remaining find themselves rubbing elbows with a famous historical figure while the rest of the plot unfolds. The Crusade definitely has some of this formula working for it/against it, but for the first time you get a sense that the characters have learned from their previous experiences. Barbara is captured in the first few minutes of the story and yet she never despairs and never stops trying to escape. Having survived more than a dozen impossible scenarios by this point, she remains unfazed in the face of certain death.

Rating: You ask for the impossible very lightly%

(Image from aintitcool.com)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Tale of Zatoichi Continues

This is one of those sequels that returns exactly to the scene of the first movie, like Back to the Future II (time travel) or Return of the Jedi (Death Star). Here Zatoichi returns to the place he was sort of forced to honor-kill the dying samurai in the first movie, but a buncha people are super pissed at him! Unlike the first movie, Zatoichi quickly and frequently fights large gangs of assassins because we don't have to wonder if it's a myth that he's so great (because why would they make 26 fucking movies about him being a good liar). It's not as good as the original but it's still fun to watch Zatoichi act like a loveable clumsy doofus until he's forced to kill approximately 100 people with his cane sword.

RATING: 66%

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Tale of Zatoichi

I just recently finished watching all twenty-whatever James Bond movies and wanted a new series to watch, so why not the Zatoichi samurai movies I asked myself, and I said ok, sure, just watch 'em. In this first film of the 26 film saga, Zatoichi, a blind masseuse, shows up to a gambling house. It turns out Zatoichi is basically the Japanese Daredevil (though, hm, it beat Daredevil's creation by a year so I suppose Daredevil is the American Zatoichi) - he may be blind, but he has enhanced other senses and swordsmanship to take over. Anyway, he's one of those swordspeople who realizes killing is bad, m'kay, so he doesn't want to get involved in a big gambling house war, even after he meets a dying samurai named Hirate who befriends him and begs him to fight him. I'll let you guess whether or not these two swordsmasters fight by the end of the film!

RATING: 76%

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Web Planet

This is a serial that really pushed the limits of what Doctor Who was capable of accomplishing, despite its meagre budgets and limited technical resources. Yes, you can spot the seams rather easily, but you can also tell that the cast and crew of the show were giving it their all. Time, unfortunately, has not been kind to The Web Planet, it's generally regarded rather poorly when compared to other serials from Doctor Who's early years. The Doctor and his companions don't really drive the plot of The Web Planet, they're mostly supporting characters in a larger, unfolding story. But at six parts, the serial ends up dragging on too long. Also, most of the alien creatures encountered by the Doctor and his friends speak in halted speech patterns, making their scenes feel endless. And while some of the effects are impressive, some merely distort the recorded images making everything hazy and out of focus.

Rating: We've been dragged off our course. The question is, is it some natural phenomena, or is it intelligent, deliberate, or for a purpose? Hmm%

(Image from bbc.co.uk)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Romans

It's 64 AD in Rome and the Doctor couldn't be happier. It might actually be the first time we see the Doctor in a really good mood. We also get to see the Doctor in a fight at one point, his first real physical altercation in the series. And not only does he kick the guy's ass, afterwards he gloats that since he's so used to outwitting his opponents he forgets how much he enjoys "the gentle art of fisticuffs." The Doctor also seems very much in his element when he inserts himself into a conspiracy by assuming the identity of a murdered musician. In hardly any time at all, he gets up close and personal with Nero. Things don't go so well for Ian and Barbara though. Ian gets beat up, he becomes a galley slave, he gets shipwrecked, he gets captured, he almost gets thrown to the lions, and then he's forced to fight a friend to the death. Barbara has a rough go of it too, but even though people are trying to kill her it's mostly just her running away from a horny Nero Pepé Le Pew style. Throughout their ordeals, Ian and Barbara remain pretty calm and focused on escaping their captors, which they eventually do. But while all that is going on, the Doctor is living it up in Nero's court. He plays tricks on everyone as he pieces together the murder mystery that landed him in Nero's lap. He even ends up inspiring Nero to start the Great Fire of Rome. And then, as the city burns in the background, the Doctor and Vicki slip quietly out of Rome and head back to the TARDIS.

Rating: There's one thing you've got to learn about me. When I say we go to Rome, then we go to Rome%

(Image from Wikipedia)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hellraiser: Revelations

Ok, so I got caught up in studying for my doctoral exams or whatever, but I couldn't just let this rest because if I didn't review it then I watched it in October for nothing. Nothing! Anyway, this movie, the 9th entry in the Hellraiser series, was made to retain copyright, and has just about as much cinematic quality as any legal rider. The lesson that I learned in October so you don't have to is that only the first two Hellraiser movies are worth watching. You're welcome!

RATING: 6%

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Rescue

After the opening credits, The Rescue starts with a brief shot of an empty cave. The TARDIS slowly fades into view. The police box's overhead light blinks. The episode's title is shown. The writer's credit appears. Normally these events would be followed by a cut to the people inside that police box; the show's main cast. Instead, we cut from the TARDIS to a crashed spaceship and the first of it's two survivors: Vicki. In 1965, when this episode first aired, Vicki was kind of a big deal. She was to be the first new companion to join the Doctor's escapades through time and space. The Rescue isn't really an important serial because of its story*, it's important because it establishes that the characters on this show are temporary. The cast could and would ebb and flow around our titular Doctor. Though no one at the time, probably not even the show's own producers, had any idea just how temporary that Doctor could also be.

Rating: Yes, I see. An easy way to get out of a locked room%

(Image from doctorwhomindrobber.com)


*I'll break it down real quick for you: Vicki and Bennett are stranded on the Planet Dido (make your own jokes here). Their rescue ship is still a few days away. Periodically, a scary bug man named Koquillian comes by and freaks Vicki out. Long story short: Koquillian is really Bennett in disguise. He was just trying cover up for killing a whole bunch of people. The Doctor and his companions show up, bust Bennett Scooby-Doo style and essentially nag Vicki into joining them.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Right place, wrong time. While the Doctor finally succeeds in getting Ian and Barbara back to London, he overshoots the date of their original departure by about 200 years or so. In this era, the Daleks have already managed to invade and conquer the Earth. While some resistance fighters do persist, the bulk of the remaining human population have either been forced to work in the Dalek's deep mines or they have been converted into remote controlled slaves (aka Robomen). When the group gets separated after their arrival, Barbara and Susan find themselves travelling through London's sewers with a group of resistance fighters while Ian and the Doctor fall into and out of the Dalek's custody. The serial ends with the Doctor leaving Susan behind on Earth, in a move that is somewhat cold (she is his granddaughter and Earth isn't exactly in great shape when he leaves) but would prove to be only the first in a never-ending series of cast changes.

Rating: One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back%

(Image from littleredumbrella.com)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Planet of Giants

As our intrepid band of travellers prepare themselves for their next adventure, the doors of the TARDIS fly open unexpectedly while the ship is still in transit. At first it seems as though everyone has survived this latest snafu unscathed but after briefly exploring their surroundings our heros come to realize that they have been shrunk down to an inch in height. If that weren't enough of a setback, the Doctor and his companions must deal with a powerful insecticide that has killed everything around them as well as a Film Noir murder plot that is unfolding among the regular sized inhabitants of the area. While there's great potential in shrinking down our characters, the serial does so little with the premise. Two of the three episodes end in cliff hangers that are immediately undercut in the following episode, wasting any possible payoff they offered. The serial also pales in comparison with other properties that have used similar premises, so don't hold your breath for any man vs giant insect battles à la The Incredible Shrinking Man (which had come out seven years previously). The show's producers must have known they had a bit of a dud on their hands as the serial was edited down from four episodes to three.

Rating: It's most puzzling. It's a big mystery, my boy%

(Image from avclub.com)

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Reign of Terror

In his haste to return Ian and Barbara back to their original time and planet the Doctor ends up setting the TARDIS down just outside of Paris during the French Revolution, which just happens to be his favorite era of human history. After a brief period of exploration in the French countryside Ian, Barbara and Susan are all arrested and taken to jail while the Doctor gets knocked unconscious and left behind in a burning building. From there it's a series of schemes and prison breaks as our heros try to avoid a date with the guillotine. The Doctor provides some good comic relief with his impersonation of a French public official while his companions are mostly left alone to contemplate the ethics of participating in historical events while knowing they are ultimately unable to alter the course of history. Two of the serial's six episodes are missing but have been reconstructed for home video in various forms, including animated versions using the original production audio.

Rating: I'm rather tired of your insuations that I am not master of this craft%

(Image from starburstmagazine.com)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ghoulies IV

Ghoulies IV isn’t really a horror movie so much as it’s an action movie with some supernatural elements. Heck, it’s barely even a Ghoulies movie. The familiar puppety oddballs we’ve seen in every other installment in the franchise have been replaced by two little people in Ghoulie costumes with inexpressive masks. The story follows Jonathan Graves, the lead from the first Ghoulies movie, who’s become a play-by-his-own-rules cop who is really into kinky sex. One of Jonathan’s ex-girlfriends is attempting to steal a jewel that will allow her to release her dark master from Hell. She coincidentally brings two Ghoulies to Earth who proceed to watch the events of the film unfold without ever really getting involved. It’s literally 75 minutes into the 83 minute film before any of the characters directly interact with the two Ghoulies. At one point I was impressed by an action sequence involving a runaway car and multiple vehicle crashes, but it turns out that said sequence was edited into the film from an entirely different Jim Wynorski production.
 
Rating: 36%
 
(Image from racksandrazors.com)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Critters 2: The Main Course

The original Critters movie ends with the ominous reveal of a batch of Critter eggs left behind in the Brown family barn, making a sequel all but inevitable. It would seem though that these eggs have a seriously long incubation period as at least two years pass between the events of the first two films. The eggs eventually hatch after being purchased by an unscrupulous junk dealer, unleashing a new wave of killer Critters on the small town of Grover’s Bend. Critters 2 is a good companion to the original film, much more so than the two direct to video sequels that would follow a few years later. The effects still look good and the overall tone of the movie blends horror and comedy effectively.
 
Rating: 67%
 
(Image from impawards.com)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Jaws 3-D

There are two constants in the Jaws franchise: each film contains a giant great white shark and in each film members of the Brody family are terrorized by said shark. The third film in the series, which debuted during the brief revival of 3-D movies in the 1980s, shifts locations from Amity Island to a Sea World park. Dennis Quaid plays Chief Brody's grown son Michael, a Sea World big shot, who once again has to face great white terror after a shark gets locked inside the park. I can't imagine how anybody at the actual Sea World park thought it would be a good idea to let them make a movie wherein a number of patrons and park employees are brutally killed. The only way you're likely to see this movie today is in its current 2-D home video version, which renders the 3-D efforts comically anticlimactic.

Rating: 65%

(Image from impawards.com)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

C.H.U.D. II - Bud the C.H.U.D.

If you dialed the wayback machine to 1999 you'd find a young Quammy digging through boxes of VHS tapes at his local flea market. It was there that he would find a copy of C.H.U.D. II - Bud the C.H.U.D., just a loose tape with no case or artwork. He would buy said VHS tape and take it back to his dorm room to watch on his roommate's VCR. If you were to watch his expression, you would see the enthusiasm slowly disappear from his face as the movie played out. Many questions came to his mind, questions like: "Hey, wasn't that guy on Head of the Class?" "How can this be a sequel to C.H.U.D. if none of the C.H.U.D.'s look like the C.H.U.D.'s from the first movie?" and "Why does this suck so hard?"

Rating: 44%

(Image from moviepostershop.com)

Hellraiser: Hellworld

The 8th film (why) is about a bunch of kids who play an Internet game based on the Hellraiser series. Of course, nobody in Hollywood knows how the internet or video games work, so it doesn't really translate. Anyway, this movie is essentially a slasher movie that is only tangentially related to Hellraiser in any way, almost like the script they used wasn't even supposed to be a Hellraiser movie (it wasn't). To top it all off, and I'm not spoiling anything because you're spoiling your own life by watching this garbage, the whole movie basically turns out to be a wacky, murderous dream! I feel like I've made some great choices this October.

RATING: 19%

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hellraiser: Deader

A reporter goes to investigate some zombie cult in Hungary and ends up accidentally solving the Lament Configuration. In the first movie it seemed so difficult for Frank to actually figure out how to open the box and summon the Cenobites, but by part VII everybody just does it as soon as they pick up the box first thing. This movie is terrible, but it has two notable scenes. The first is a legitimately visceral scene in which the reporter is trying to pick up a folder in a cramped bathroom without touching a suspended rotting corpse. The second is a legitimately silly scene in a goth club on a moving subway train in which there are naked twinks, topless grandmas covered in flour, and speakers blasting public domain elevator music. These movies want to portray some type of goth counter culture but they are so very clearly made by a bunch of squares.

RATING: 19%

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hellraiser: Hellseeker

This is the 6th Hellraiser film, so you'd think they'd do something clever with "666" for the title, but that's expecting a lot of this series! Instead it's called "Hellseeker," which is ridiculous because nobody is really seeking Hell (or whatever dimension the Cenobites inhabit), but in part five there was no "Inferno," so they're just slapping titles on these shits, all the more obvious in the 7th film which is called (seriously) Hellraiser: Deader. Deader!? Back to part VI though - this one is actually pretty good because after an opening car accident that apparently kills the main character's wife the movie's linearity is incomprehensible and hallucinatory. I think it's technically just bad filmmaking, but it actually makes the movie kind of freaky and enjoyable until Pinhead shows up to explain everything into banality in the last ten minutes or so. Anyway, Dean Winters is pretty good but you should've taken out some better insurance buddy!

RATING: 61%

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Sensorites


Our intrepid band of time/space travellers turn up inside a spacecraft being held captive by the Sensorites, a race of aliens with highly advanced psychic abilities. Though they appear to pose no physical threat, the Sensorites steal the TARDIS's locking mechanism and take our heros captive alongside the spacecraft's weary crew. Susan reveals an aptitude for telepathy, pretty much everyone except for Barbara gets brought down to the home planet of the Sensorites, Ian gets poisoned, the Doctor gets attacked in an aqueduct, a murderous plot is revealed, and a member of the Sensorites high elders is killed. Sounds interesting and yet The Sensorites is generally regarded as overall boring serial. This is probably because of the basic design of the Sensorites themselves. Despite their aforementioned psychic abilities, the Sensorites are easily harmed by loud noises and are effectively blind in low light. The TARDIS's crew are pretty much immune to the Sensorites psychic powers for some reason so their captivity doesn't really come with life or death stakes. The Sensorites prove to be the most benign of the alien threats so far encountered by the Doctor and his companions. Also, the Sensorites look like Admiral Ackbar with a chinstrap toupee.

Rating: It all started out as a mild curiosity in a junk yard%

(Image from theruedmorgue.blogspot.ca)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hellraiser: Inferno

This is the fifth installment in the ever-worsening Hellraiser series, so you know what that means: I have less than half to go! In this movie, a corrupt detective who likes prostitutes or what-have-you tries to track down some missing child after he finds and opens the Lament Configuration. I fell asleep during the movie's climax to be honest, but at least Pinhead's not bent on world domination anymore, just pain and suffering (but not pleasure anymore? booo). Anyway, one interesting fact is that this is the first of the Hellraiser movies to go straight-to-video, which means that Hellraiser IV was released in the theaters for actual human beings to sit in and supposedly enjoy if you can believe it. I know I can't!

RATING: 28%

Lake Placid 2

The Syfy channel is in the business of making garbage. For the most part this means combining various predatory animals with really bad CGI special effects and D grade actors. In the case of Lake Placid 2, Syfy shuttled Bo Duke and a handful of other actors off to Bulgaria in order to put together what is essentially a remake of the original Lake Placid, a process they would repeat at least twice more. Every aspect of the movie's production (ie: acting, directing, special effects, story, etc.) has been dialed back. It's as though someone at Syfy said: "You know that Lake Placid movie was really good. How can we piggyback off their success, but for a lot less money?"

Rating: 36%

(Image from ablogofhorror.com)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College

Mixing comedy and horror is not an easy task, it’s a delicate balancing act that requires a fundamental understanding of what makes each one work on their own and how to shift from one to the other. There are countless movies that have attempted to combine horror and comedy only to wind up failing on both fronts, Ghoulies III is one of those movies. The humor is, at best, at the Troma level with only the most obvious jokes being delivered at the most obvious times. Most of the jokes come from the Ghoulies themselves, since they’ve been given the gift of speech in this installment of the franchise. When they first started to speak I thought, “Oh, they’re kind of referencing the Three Stooges here.” Then the slapstick came into play and I realized, “Oh, they’re just ripping off the Three Stooges here.” If you’ve ever seen Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds or UHF, you’ve pretty much already seen all of the best parts of this movie.
 
Rating: 42%
 
(Image from imdb.com)

Hellraiser IV: Bloodline

This is a convoluted and horrible entry in the Hellraiser series that takes place in the modern (1996) day, Victorian times, and the future (spaceship). Directed by everybody's favorite pseudonym, Alan Smithee, the movie features a super young Adam Scott of Parks and Recreation fame. The plot is that something happened in one time and continues in the next time and gets resolved in the last time with a big space explosion, the hallmark of the Hellraiser series. I think maybe Pinhead wants to take over the world, but really, nobody cares.

RATING: 21%

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth

Whelp, things really went downhill fast. In this movie, released in 1992 as evidenced by the "dangerous youth" dressed in jean jackets, a "goth" club owner (but all they play is Motorhead???) gets the puzzle box and then Pinhead comes out oh no! Now he is more of a Freddy Kreuger comedy type mass murderer saying jokes when he kills people and also turning a DJ into a Cenobite that shoots CDs into people's faces. Cop cars explode on ill-lit city streets with all the cinematic quality of a Darkman sequel, and I can't believe I've committed to watching six more of these shits.

RATING: 31%

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lake Placid

The first Lake Placid movie reminds me a lot of Joe Dante's 1978 movie Piranha. They're both unabashedly Jaws ripoffs, but they have sense enough to throw in some colorful characters and humor to offset all the people getting eaten. Having been made by a legit movie studio means that Lake Placid has some decent actors in it, including Betty White (kids love Betty White). The special effects from Stan Winston Studios hold up well considering they came about during the early CGI era. It's a better movie than the string of SyFy sequels would have you believe.

Rating: 60%

(Image from impawards.com)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hellbound: Hellraiser II

This is one of those rare sequels that is if you ask me way better than the original. The color palette and cinematography are still kinda bland, but we frequently are treated to bizarre and terrifying imagery as we enter the Cenobite's dimension, like a clown juggling his own eyeballs par example. The plot is some people want to get to this horrible pain dimension because WHY NOT? Again Pinhead and his pallies show up to save the day after they're convinced that it's a good idea to feel feelings. Speaking of feelings, I have one that the series is all downhill from here, but we shall see!

RATING: 68%

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hellraiser

This movie is about a magical box that whisks its users away to a fanciful dimension where pleasure is pain and pain is pleasure and gumdrops are, like, scarabs I guess and rainbows are the screams of a thousand dying soldiers. A girl's uncle gets the box and then these painlovers, cenobites, rip him apart with some chains but he manages to escape and needs fresh blood to get his body to not just be guts or whathaveyou so he gets his lover/brother's wife to kill people for him. Eventually (practically the whole movie later) the cover dude, Pinhead, and his cenobite pals show up and save the day. I had this movie as a kid on one of those bargain cassettes where the movie would be recorded in EP to save the company money so I always thought it was bland and boring as a result of the tape quality, but to be honest it was kind of bland and boring even in hi-def. A+ for mythos building, D+ for execution.

RATING: 58%

Friday, October 4, 2013

The ABC's of Death

Ok, well, why not take the horror anthology to the extreme? This movie of 26 short films made by directors from around the world, each one (as you can probably guess) taking a letter of the alphabet and figuring out how somebody can die with that letter is a good example of why not to do that thing I asked in the first sentence. There are only three that are any good - A, Q, and R - which is not a terrific percentage IMO, IMHO even. Stick around to the end if you want to see a giant severed penis ejaculating rice as a symbol for Western nuclear imposition on Japan I guess.

RATING: 20%

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ghoulies II

Ghoulies II is not a very good movie. It is, however, better than the first Ghoulies movie. The puppet demons look a lot better this time around and they're aided by some passable stop motion animation. Black magic is only a minor part of the movie, leaving room for a great deal more Gremlins style puppety mayhem. Once again there are no Ghoulies wearing suspenders featured in the film, but at least they had the decency to reflect that in the poster art.

Rating: 46%

(Image from impawards.com)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ghoulies

The best part of Ghoulies would have to be the poster art. If you haven't seen the movie, you might think it was a creature feature à la Gremlins. It's actually a very boring movie about a guy who inherits a creepy old house and gets really into black magic. Sure, there are some gloppy puppet creatures roaming about but they're pretty lame. Also, none of them wear suspenders in the movie.

Rating: 38%

(Image from impawards.com)