Monday, June 12, 2017

The Web of Fear

Going in, I didn't have high hopes for The Web of Fear. I didn't really think that the Yeti deserved another shot at the Doctor, especially so soon after their debut. Thankfully though, with just a slight update to their appearance and a change of location, the Yeti have justified their existence. These new Yeti, dubbed Mark II, have flatter faces with big light-up eyes. Given that they spend the majority of the serial chasing people around in abandoned subway tunnels, they reminded me a lot of C.H.U.D.s, which is never a bad thing in my book. This serial also sees the return of actor Nicholas Courtney, in his first performance as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (though, he's only a Colonel here). We first saw Courtney playing a different character in the First Doctor adventure The Daleks' Master Plan. He'll return once more during the Second Doctor era before becoming a regular fixture during the Third Doctor era. Most of The Web of Fear was recovered in Nigeria at the same time as The Enemy of the World, though one episode of The Web of Fear remains missing.

Rating: We keep on landing on your Earth%

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Enemy of the World

Arriving in the middle of a season full of monsters is the unexpected gem, "The Enemy of the World." The serial finds the Doctor and his companions arriving in the far-off year of 2018. After some folks in a hovercraft attempt to assassinate him, the Doctor discovers that he bears a striking resemblance to a political figure known as Salamander. What follows is a twisty tale of murder, manipulation and madness. A complete version of the serial was discovered in Nigeria in 2013, prior to that only one episode was known to have survived. While it wasn't particularly well received at the time of it's original airing, the serial stands out now because of how different it is from the rest of its season and the Troughton era as a whole. This type of story was more typical of the First Doctor era, especially with the lead actor playing multiple parts (see also: "The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve"). And while I can understand that some people will be put off by his accent and the use of makeup to darken Troughton's skin while playing Salamander, this serial is also notable for being the first Doctor Who story to feature a character played by a woman of color. So I guess it all evens out?

Rating: See if there's any buckets and spades in the TARDIS%

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Ice Warriors

The Patrick Troughton era of Doctor Who gets a little flack for being formulaic. A lot of serials from this period were focused on "base under siege" plot lines and wave after wave of new monsters. And while you could definitely level some of those criticisms at The Ice Warriors, it's still a serial with a lot of charm. For the first time in a long time we get to see the TARDIS make an awkward landing, which makes for some funny business when the Doctor and his companions have to climb out the front doors. We get to see Jamie perv out a little bit over the body-hugging uniforms worn by the scientists at the ionizer base. And we get introduced to the Ice Warriors, a group of Martians who are revived after they're discovered in a glacier. (Side note: British people don't say glacier like those of us in North America would, they say "glassier." Kinda like if you were to cover a glass object with even more glass, you would have found a way to make it glassier.) The Ice Warriors are fairly well designed and they feature one of the key ingredients for enduring popularity as a Doctor Who baddie, they have voices that are very easy to imitate. And even though they only pop up a handful of times on the show, they're still highly regarded among the Doctor's rogues gallery.

Rating: We can't all be perfect%

(Image from pop-critica.com)

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Abominable Snowmen

What could be better than the Doctor going toe-to-toe with a Yeti? How about the Doctor having to face several robotic Yetis controlled by a mysterious disembodied entity? Because that's what we get in The Abominable Snowmen. The Yeti and their controller, the Great Intelligence, were the next attempt to find an enemy that the Doctor could face on a recurring basis. With the Daleks off the table, the show could not survive on Cybermen alone. And while the Yeti would make a couple more appearances on the show, they were hardly popular enough to become the next big thing.

Rating: This wasn't the welcome I expected%

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Tomb of the Cybermen

Finally, in his eighth adventure as the Doctor, we have a Patrick Troughton serial that has survived completely intact. The fact that it's also a fairly well-liked serial is just an added bonus. Typically, I only ever take notice of the direction and production value on these older serials when I notice the cardboard sets or when the camera literally bumps into something. But this time around I was fairly impressed with some of the directing and I loved the sets, especially the Cybermen's frozen tomb. This serial also features another all-time great speech from the Second Doctor, where he takes a moment to comfort his newest companion. Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor, has said that this serial was an influence on his portrayal of the character.

Rating: Well, now I know you're mad. I just wanted to make sure%

(Image from kotwg.blogspot.ca)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Evil of the Daleks

I won't pretend that I understand the various ins and outs of copyright law, especially not the copyright laws of other countries. I will say that I'm amazed that Terry Nation, the man who created the Daleks, was somehow able to hold the copyright to the Daleks despite having created them specifically for Doctor Who. Jack Kirby is probably still spinning in his grave over that one. Since Nation was trying to get a Dalek show off the ground in America, The Evil of the Daleks was intended to be the last time our beloved Doctor faced his most famous foes, and it was the last time... for about four years. At least it made for a pretty good serial, with several twists and turns and the introduction of a new companion, Victoria. And as an added bonus, there's definitely a hint of I, Borg in there too.

Rating: The Daleks will take pleasure in killing everyone in sight%

(Image from tardis.wikia.com)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Faceless Ones

In the previous serial, we got our first glimpse of Doctor Who's new title sequence. Now, in The Faceless Ones, we get an updated theme song to accompany the new intro. Doctor Who is, after all, a show that is continually trying to update itself. Out with the old, in with the new. And so, in this serial, we say goodbye to Ben and Polly. As this particular adventure ends, we come to find out that the TARDIS has brought the Doctor and his companions to London on the exact day that Ben and Polly had initially left with the First Doctor. Leaving them free to pick up exactly where they had left off. It's an awfully lucky coincidence considering that all of the Doctor's previous companions were either left stranded, killed, or returned to their homes years after they first left. The Doctor doesn't exactly have a great track record when it comes to parting ways with his companions.

Rating: Some sort of official mumbo jumbo%

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Macra Terror

I guess there's really no getting around it, The Macra Terror is a story about giant crabs. Not giant crab people, just giant crabs who've found a way to enslave a human colony on some distant planet. Giant crabs who would have just kept on enslaving generation after generation of colonists if it weren't for the Doctor and his friends. You know, giant hypno-crabs from outer space. That old chestnut.

Rating: ___% (Rating Missing)

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Moonbase

When the Daleks first showed up on Doctor Who, they were a cultural sensation. Without the Daleks, the show probably wouldn't have lasted this long. But the Doctor can't fight the Daleks every week. And, by this time, with a new Doctor in the TARDIS, the show's producers were desperate to find a few more iconic villains. Hence, the return of the Cybermen, only a few months after they first appeared in The Tenth Planet. Here, in The Moonbase, they've received some upgrades. Their costumes have changed, giving them more of a robotic quality. And their bizarre sing-song voices have been modified, courtesy of the Radiophonic Workshop. At times, it can be difficult to understand what they're saying, but typically their dialogue boils down to, "do what we say or we'll kill you." The Cybermen's design would change slightly with each additional appearance, a trend that has continued in the revived series. The Moonbase is also notable for containing one of the first truly iconic moments for the Second Doctor. During a tense moment, the Doctor tells his companions and the occupants of the titular base, "There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought." The First Doctor would have shouted such a statement to the rafters, though he probably never would have said it in the first place. The Second Doctor delivers these words with a deadly, quiet seriousness. The Second Doctor loves to goof around but when the shit hits the fan, he can be as serious as a heart attack.

Rating: There must have been a reason for that%

(Image from avclub.com)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Underwater Menace

The Underwater Menace is a real hodgepodge. It's got mad priests, mad scientists, caves, mines, fish people, and a plot to blow up the world. This probably isn't anyone's favorite serial from the Second Doctor era, but it's the earliest one with any surviving episodes. This is our first real opportunity to see the Second Doctor in action. Luckily, the main villain, Professor Zaroff, makes for a memorable adversary. His plot to destroy the planet is ridiculously dumb, but he's super evil and has a fantastic Austrian accent. Also, the Doctor dresses up as a gypsy at one point.

Rating: Just one small question: Why do you want to blow up the world?%

(Image from basementrejects.com)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Highlanders

In the beginning, Doctor Who's producers tried to balance the tone of their show by contrasting the sci-fi serials with ones based around historical drama. The First Doctor certainly spent a lot of his time rubbing elbows with famous figures. But, by the Second Doctor era, the historical serial had fallen out of favor. The Highlanders would be the Doctor's last historical adventure that didn't contain sci-fi elements for a long time. While this serial is hardly one of the best of the historical serials, it's not without it's charms. The new Doctor continues to assert himself with a series of comical disguises and accents. William Hartnell's Doctor never had as much in the past as Troughton's Doctor does in this serial. We're also introduced to Jamie McCrimmon, who joins the Doctor, Ben and Polly as the newest companion. Jamie will go on to be one of the longest lasting companions in the show's entire run.

Rating: ___% (Rating Missing)

(Image from naturalscotlandfilms.org.uk)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Child's Play

I always wrote of this franchise as goofy pseudo horror, but I never actually sat down and watched the first one til the other day. It's good! Not that gory in the style of most mainstream 80s slashers, but great doll effects especially when he gets all burnt up. I imagine the late sequels don't get as bad as the late sequels of say Hellraiser, but that's a theory best left answered another October.

RATING: 76%

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Neon Demon

A girl runs away from home to become an LA supermodel but older models get tres jelly. The movie looks terrific and it's got like one of the most uncomfortable/gross scenes in any movie in recent memory (corpse masturbation).

RATING: 75%

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cat's Eye

This is an anthology of Stephen King shorts, adapted by King himself, that maybe is more Twilight Zone than true horror. Anyway, the first one is about a dude who hires a company to torture his family if he doesn't quit smoking (um divorce city?), the second segment is a fantastic short about a gambling dude who forces a tennis player to walk around the ledge of the twentieth floor, and the third segment a cat fights a troll for Drew Barrymore's soul (bad but good creature effects I guess). Anyway, it's a good PG13 horror movie to catch late at night on TBS or something.

RATING: 60% (82% for the second part alone)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Kuroneko

A couple women are murdered and worse by some samurai so they turn into cat ghosts trying to get revenge on all samurai ever which goes pretty well until the older woman's kidnapped son/younger woman's kidnapped husband (same guy) shows up. It gets real sad!

RATING: 71%  

Madman

I can understand why Madman has a cult following. The movie has a good theme song. The killer, Madman Marz, is fairly original. And the lead actress is Gaylen Ross, who's only other acting credits were Dawn of the Dead and Creepshow. It's a backwoods slasher film set around a camp where the counselors seem to outnumber the kids three to one. It's a little slow and none of the kills are all that remarkable. It's also the kind of movie where characters are constantly looking for other characters. "We've got to find so-and-so." But little do they know, so-and-so is dead. It's not the easiest movie to get your hands on but it's worth a watch.

Rating: Axe me later%

(Image from Wikipedia)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Final Girls

Six years ago I watched Midnight Movie. I hated Midnight Movie. So it was definitely a bad sign when I couldn't help but think about Midnight Movie while I watched The Final Girls. The problem with Midnight Movie was that it was relentlessly stupid and poorly made. The problem with The Final Girls is that it isn't capable of balancing a variety of different tones. A lot of the movie is a send up of '80s slashers and the trappings of the era. But, at the same time, the movie is also about a girl trying to save her dead mother, who is an actress in the film within the film. The emotional through line is constantly undermined by poorly written Reagan-era gay panic jokes and surface level observations about the difference between the '80s and modern times.

Rating: 6.6 on IMDB is probably fair%

(Image from Wikipedia)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Night Breed

Hm I don't mean to quibble about what exactly makes a horror movie a horror movie, but this movie, where a cool dude dies and joins a cabal of cool undead monsters in a monster city seems more like a fantasy adventure? Although the monsters (who are good monsters) must unite to kill some bad cops and a serial killing David Cronenberg, and the latter is sorta horror I suppose. Anyway it's fun!

RATING: 65%

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Blob

Well I watched the remake first and loved it, so I figured I better give the original a shot. A blob falls out of space and eats people, and the local police won't believe those crazy teenagers when they try to warn them. Judged by the standards of 2016 (I'm only human!) the remake is more fun, but this one's pretty good for a 60-something year old independent horror flick.

RATING: 63%

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Blood Rage

I have to assume that Blood Rage doesn't have a particularly large fan base. Shot in 1983 but not released until 1987, it arrived a few years after the '80s slasher boom had cooled off. And this is definitely a movie that was made in the mold of a typical '80s slasher. I'd be curious to know how many people actually saw Blood Rage during its brief theatrical run or during its life on VHS. As of this review, Blood Rage has only 870 user ratings on IMDB, while movies like Sleepaway Camp, The Burning and My Bloody Valentine each have over 10,000. Still, it warms my heart that there are people and companies out there that continue to find, restore and re-release movies like Blood Rage. Even though I may never watch it again and I don't necessarily recommend that anyone else go out of their way to see it either.

Rating: Eating leftovers on the kitchen floor%

(Image from thewolfmancometh.com)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Witch

Some puritans in the olden days deal with a witch and witchy feelings. It's real slow and atmospheric, and the kid actors are great. It's the scariest witch movie for sure (second place is um Practical Magic?).

RATING: 83%

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Event Horizon

This movie has a great premise (spaceship goes to Hell), and looks great, but I dunno, the execution makes it really boring and not scary. Many of my friends tell me how terrifying the movie is, but I'm willing to bet it's only scary because they last saw it as a child, sorta like that one Herbie movie with the nightmare is scary to me now as an adult.  Anyway, there is a cool scene where somebody briefly survives being shot out an airlock, which oughtta count for something?

RATING: 37%

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Creature From The Haunted Sea

As a relic of late 50s pseudo-sleaze this is interesting but as a movie for human consumption?

RATING: 11%

Friday, October 14, 2016

Cabin Fever

Ya know, Eli Roth gets a bad rap - the Hostel movies are actually solid flicks, great structural deviations from standard horror fare. This one, his debut, is also pretty weird and fun and I'm sorry I scoffed at it these past 14 years without watching it ever. A group of "friends" (in horror movies these friend groups all seem to hate each other) go to a cabin and catch a little case of the flesh-eating whatsits. It's actually a lot less gorier than it sounds.

RATING: 55%

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Nightmare Castle

This is a mostly boring (though surprisingly gory) movie but there is one real cool freakout dream sequence a half hour in.

RATING: 31%

Monday, October 10, 2016

WolfCop

I don't know if there are any other movies out there about an alcoholic cop who becomes an alcoholic werewolf cop but I do know that there probably aren't any other movies where the violent transition from alcoholic cop to alcoholic werewolf cop starts at the dick. And that's because WolfCop was clearly a passion project. It was made by people in Saskatchewan who knew that the story of an alcoholic werewolf cop was clearly a story that had to be told. And it had to be made with a lot of practical special effects. And it had to have nudity in it. And explosions. And there had to be a scene where the wolfcop rips a guy's face off and then throws it onto the windshield of a cop car. And knowing full well that it would be funny to see that ripped-off face get caught up in the windshield wipers, there still had to be a shot of the guy, now without a face, screaming. And the gore had to look good. And you know what? They were right. They were right about everything. So, if you have to see a movie about an alcoholic cop who becomes an alcoholic werewolf cop, see WolfCop because it will be the best movie about an alcoholic cop who becomes an alcoholic werewolf cop you will see all year. And that is my solemn guarantee.

Rating: All the ripped-off faces%

(Image from thedudedesigns.com)

Bruiser

A dude wakes up one day with no face (well, a blank white mask where his face was) and decides to finally kill all those people who cheated on him or denied him a promotion or took five bucks out of his jacket.

RATING: 53%

(Here's my old reviews of Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, and Survival of the Dead, which wraps up George Romero!)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Dark Half

A supposedly literary author who writes trash under a pseudonym starts to let his pen name take over his life and kill his enemies etc. Ya know, for an author with untold success, Stephen King sure has a literary fiction complex that seems to rear its head in his work an awful lot!

RATING: 51%

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar

This half of the movie Two Evil Eyes, for which Romero and Dario Argento each adapted a Poe story. Anyway, while trying to hide a hypnotized dead body, a doctor and his mistress accidentally put ghosts into the corpse, and believe me, you don't want ghosts in a corpse!

RATING: 44%

Friday, October 7, 2016

Monkey Shines

Monkeys aren't exactly scary but I guess if you had to rely on a monkey and it was giving you a bad name by killing birds and your friends you'd probably be a bit stressed out?

RATING: 41%

(Here's Ryo's take)

(Also here are my reviews of CreepshowDawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead.)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Knightriders

I think it's a sign of a true artists that when you have a massive hit, say, zombie movie, you follow it up with swashbuckling motorcycle jousters who reenact King Arthur's court at various Ren Fairs. I can't recommend it enough!

RATING: 88%

(Here's my review for Dawn of the Dead from six years ago)