Thursday, December 1, 2016

Blood Orgy of the She Devils

Blood Orgy of the She-Devils (1972)

A couple of college students (Tom Pace, Leslie McRae), one of whom is actually a forty year old guy, start hanging out with a witch (Lila Zaborin) who performs seemingly harmless seances and age regressions and communicates with demons. Concerned, they enlist the help of one of their professors (Victor Izay) with an interest in the paranormal to ... I dunno, figure out if she's a real witch I guess? Meanwhile, she makes extra money by selling her witchly powers to politicians as a long distance assassin.

Which actually sounds like a pretty cool idea for a movie, right? And as far as cinematic witches go, the one in this movie was pretty legit. Like, she was casting some hardcore spells rather than dancing around at the solstice and whatnot, so that was neat.

There were some educational segments randomly thrust into the middle of the movie about the history of witchcraft detailing some of the atrocities committed against women accused of practicing black magic, including stoning and burning at the stake. That was kind of interesting and would have made for a halfway decent movie on its own, although I have no idea what the point of was in this context given that the main witch in the movie was straight up worshiping Satan and killing people for funsies. Like, you know, they killed a lot of innocent people in really horrible ways which was unacceptable, but I guess in this case it's the right thing to do coz this woman is an actual witch who will curse your tits off?

Really, this movie felt like it was assembled from three different movies, each of which might have been decent in its own right, but haphazardly slapped together ended up being a fucking mess.

It lacked any kind of internal logic. For example, there's this part where the witch gets shot and killed and then turns into a cat and fucks around for a bit, and then turns back into a people and goes back about her business cursing the tits off the dude that shot her. What the fuck was that? Why go to all that trouble? WITCHCRAFT, that's why. Satan is a strange bedfellow.

The political assassination subplot felt like it was written by somebody who had no earthly idea why a person would hire a hitman. Not only is there no real explanation for what the target was doing that warranted assassination (the only condemning line is "it is of the utmost urgency that these matters we face be brought to the attention of the President of the United States". I shit you not, that is what got this guy killed), but buddy (Ray Myles) goes out of his way to hire a witch even though he doesn't believe in witchcraft, instead of hiring a hitman with a gun like a normal person. Then after the witch demonstrates that she can, in fact, use black magic to kill people, he just decides to not pay her and tries to have her killed. By a hitman. With a gun. Brav-fucking-o, bud. Furthermore, while this idea, if properly handled , could have been padded out into a whole movie, they chose instead to just wrap it up after half an hour because this movie is sloppy and incompetent.

The other plotline involving the professor of bullshit 70s mysticism trying to either expose the witch as a fraud or stop her from doing witch stuff has the opposite problem. Him and the "kids" fuck around flapping their gums about psychic phenomena for the whole movie until the last fifteen minutes when his heretofore unmentioned professor friends show up and start shooting lightning out of their hands or whatever the fuck was happening in that scene. And yes, I know that sounds cool as hell. It's not.

On a different topic, Lila Zaborin's performance as the witch started out as sort of fun and campy what with her, uh, theatrical overenunciation of every single word, but got more and more grating to the point where I was worried I was going to die of old age before she finished a sentence.

There's a scene midway through the movie where she's channeling her Native American spirit guide which is not only annoying but also embarrassingly racist. Now granted, this movie was made in the seventies when ancient Indian burial grounds and black guys dying first were legitimate horror tropes but this scene was extra cringey and tasteless.

Even the way the movie was shot was weird and arbitrary, like an Ed Wood movie. There's all these shots of people sitting in a room not doing anything, or pouring drinks, or starting their cars that added absolutely nothing.

The final kick in the nuts that this movie delivers is that there is no orgy (although there are a couple scenes of scantily clad babes dancing around to funky music, highlight of the whole movie right there), and very little blood, giving it the feeling of a Herschel Gordon Lewis movie with all the good stuff taken out. The whole movie is available for your viewing pleasure on youtube, although the only thing that it's good for is telling your dowdy conservative great-aunt "I watched Blood Orgy of the She-Devils last night on the interweb", and you could do that without watching the movie.

-6/10 Thumbs Up

Written and Directed by: Ted V. Mikels.  Starring: Lila Zaborin, Victor Izay, William Bagdad, Tom Pace, Leslie McRae, Ray Myles.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Pandemic (2016)

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After a virus turns most of the global population into violent zombies, medical professionals are highly sought after in survivor compounds. One such doctor (Rachel Nichols) is sent with a scavenging team into the city to attempt to recover another doctor from another team along with a small group of survivors.

So, yeah, it's a zombie movie. It's also pretty much direct-to-Netflix, so my expectations were not terribly high. The set up where they introduced the state of the world and the different classes of zombies (ranging from class ones which are basically just people with colds, all the way to the "rare" class fives which are violent monsters) is pretty well done and sort of deviates from other zombie flicks which kind of just throw you into the fray. It's not necessarily a better way of doing things but in the stagnant pool of zombie cinema it's okay to do something different.

The main characters were sort of interesting as well. They were pretty generic - the woman trying to find her daughter, the man trying to find his wife, et cetera - but they behaved in a way I thought was believable and the acting was pretty good so I cared enough about their struggles that the moments of danger were pretty tense. The class five zombies were freaky looking too so that helped. There were a few nasty kills too which satisfied my gore-lust.

All that is run of the mill shit for a zombie movie though. What was genuinely interesting about this movie was that it went beyond the "everybody got killed and turned into a zombie and now we must survive" archetype and poked at the societal impact of a disease that wiped out a substantial chunk of the population and turned a fraction of people into bloodthirsty ghouls.

It's explained fairly early on that only certain people get to live in the relative safety of compounds, while the rest of the population is left to starve to death in the city. So most of the dangers that the main characters face are not, in fact, zombie related, but rather uninfected people doing what they have to to get food and so on. I know, that has a real "humans are the REAL monsters" vibe, but it's still more engaging than yet another "uh oh, zombies" movie. It gets to the point later in the movie where infected and uninfected are indistinguishable. All in all it's pretty fucking grim. Like 28 Days Later for people who've never seen 28 Days Later.

The movie was made fairly competently, apart from the audio which was terrible - it had that obnoxious quality of being way too quiet to hear the dialogue but also way too loud during the action bits to turn it up. The first fifteen minutes or so of the movie were well shot and aesthetically pleasing.

Unfortunately, this is also a POV movie, intentionally shot to look like a video game. Remember how in last week's review I said that doing first person shooter scenes in a movie is fucking tacky but excusable if the movie is based on a video game? This movie isn't. This is just a movie made by some dude who plays a lot of video games and thought "hey, what if I shot a movie in the first person, that's never been done before".

So in the interest of making a movie revolving around a stupid gimmick, they sacrificed clarity and made one more shaky, incomprehensible mess (see also: Clovervield, Diary of the Dead, Rec, Quarantine, and so on). The really frustrating thing about it was that it didn't even commit to the first person narrative. The movie jumps between first and third person indiscriminately, which completely defeats the purpose of making the fucking thing first person anyway. Seriously, though, why would anybody make a movie where the action scenes are shot in first person so it's impossible to tell what's going on, but large chunks of the other scenes aren't. Like what the fuck are you doing and why. I don't understand.

Anywho, this movie isn't terrible. It explores some less traveled territory but it doesn't break any new ground. If you're bored and cruising Netflix and not completely sick of zombie movies and/or POV movies, it will occupy ninety minutes of your time. It's definitely not worth going out of your way to see though.

4/10 Thumbs Up

Directed by: John Suits.  Written by: Dustin T. Benson.  Starring: Rachel Nichols, Alfie Allen, Missi Pyle, Mekhi Phifer, Danielle Rose Russell, Paul Guilfoyle.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Doom (2005)

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In the not too distant future, an ancient civilization is discovered on Mars and investigated by archaeologists. Something goes horribly wrong, a lot of people get killed, and a group of marines is sent in to neutralize the threat and secure the area a la Aliens.

I have never played any of the Doom games - my boyfriend tells me they're sort of like Duke Nukem - so I can't really attest to how accurate this movie is to the game series. I know that both the game and this movie include sci-fi elements and monsters and that's about it so this review is coming entirely from an outside space.

The best thing I can say about this movie is that it actually defied my expectations here and there. Within the first fifteen minutes I figured it was going to be a riff on John Wyndham's The Last Lunarians at best, or John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars at worst, and it managed to do something different from either of those which is commendable. As well, I was surprised that the singular female character in the movie (Rosamund Pike) was the sister of one of the characters rather than a love interest. Finally, I didn't expect Dwayne Johnson's character to deviate from the stoic, gung-ho sergeant stereotype so that was another bonus.

I liked what they were trying to do with the look and feel of the movie - it had that grimy aesthetic of darker sci-fi, like not everything looked shiny and new and high tech, and some of the props, like the skeletons in the archaeology lab, were cool to look at. The monsters were not too bad although they weren't overly interesting to look at. They were sort of big and slimy and violent and not too different from other big, slimy, violent monsters. The technology in the movie was pretty standard, except they had this "nanowall" that was sometimes a solid wall but also sometimes a door which was cool and at one point provided an interesting way of trapping a monster. Ultimately though I feel like the art direction fell short in a lot of ways. It wasn't bad by any means but it wasn't especially exciting.

As well, I liked what they were trying to do with the overall sense of something weird and unnatural going on, but like with the art direction and monster design, they missed the mark a little bit. Partly because I had little to no emotional interest in the characters, partly because nothing that happened inside the research facility was that weird. A movie like this should have at least one scene that makes me extremely nervous and/or uncomfortable and this didn't do either.

There's a three or four minute scene in first-person shooter style which was tacky as hell but I liked it. If I hadn't know that this movie was based on a video game I would have found it really stupid, but I looked up Doom and according to Wikipedia it was like the very first first-person shooter game so that's a cute way of representing the original idea.

As I mentioned earlier, none of the characters were good enough to warrant an emotional investment, not that any of the characters were particularly important to the plot, but I literally gave no shits about whether people lived or died. There was exactly zero chemistry between Rosamund Pike and Karl Urban making their brother-sister relationship (estranged or otherwise) unbelievable, and even less chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and everybody else in this movie.

One thing I gotta hand to Johnson is that his acting seems to have improved over the years. This was early in his career, back when he was still being credited as The Rock and dinosaurs roamed the earth, and watching him cycle between two facial expressions - neutral and somewhat perturbed - is painful.
Neutral (Source)
Perturbed (Source)
The pacing is also not good. It's a good thirty minutes before anything even happens and then it's just a space zombie which seemed like a waste of half an hour of build-up. Then after that, there were these long ass scenes where nothing was going on, punctuated by half assed jump scares It didn't help that all of the parts of the facility in which almost the entire film was set looked the same so I had a really hard time figuring out where in the building the characters were and by extension what was going on.

The other thing that was weird was that it was almost as though the characters knew that the movie was totally out to lunch. Like there's this scene they're de-fibrillating one of the marines that got attacked by a monster, and the Rock interrupts to basically say "hey, what happened to the dead guy that was here earlier". The dead guy had disappeared in a previous scene which surprised the characters but they apparently didn't do anything about it. Then after buddy is pronounced dead, instead of addressing the problem of where the hell did that other dead guy go they start yelling at each other about one of the monsters that they killed and brought back to the lab. It's a weird scene and pretty much sums up how random and arbitrary the pacing is.

I also felt like the filmmakers were trying to say something about judgement and the battle between good and evil but it didn't come up until late in the movie and as such was not a very prominent theme.

Furthermore, I felt that the whole movie really got bogged down with too much military protocol stuff. It was like somebody watched Aliens and was like, yeah, that's great, but there's not nearly enough detail about how marines do things. Like, the thing that made Aliens a great movie was not that there were marines in it doing marine stuff. The only people who are really interested in military procedure are people who are in the military, and I'm sure they found this movie glaringly inaccurate.

The same rationale applies to the sciencey stuff. First of all, nobody cares, second of all people who do care (like me) don't appreciate the effort the writers went to to make the movie sciencey. Like the whole thing about how the martian race was super strong and super intelligent because they had twenty four sets of chromosomes instead of our piddley twenty three. You know what else has twenty four sets of chromosomes? Fucking potatoes.

Anyway, besides irritation over the chromosome thing, I didn't have any strong feelings about this movie. It wasn't good by any means, but it wasn't bad enough that it was fun to watch.


Directed by: Andrzej Bartkowiak.  Written by: David Callaham, Wesley Strick, based on the video game series developed by id Software.  Starring: Karl Urban, The Rock, Rosamund Pike, Razaaq Adoti.

Thursday, September 1, 2016


R.I.P.D. (2013)

A Boston police officer (Ryan Reynolds) is killed in the line of duty by his partner (Kevin Bacon) over some pieces of gold they found at a crime scene. Upon dying, he is enlisted in the “R.I.P.D.”, which is exactly what you think it is, and becomes the partner of a crusty wild west law man (Jeff Bridges). Together, they return “deados”, that is, people who died and stayed on earth instead of going to the afterlife, to Hell. Basically, it’s Men In Black but with undead monsters instead of aliens.

I am a huge sucker for stories about dead people doing jobs – my favourite show ever is Dead Like Me – so I figured this movie would be right up my alley. And this movie does not disappoint insofar as it is a movie about dead people doing jobs. It disappoints in a lot of other areas, though.

I liked the idea that the afterlife is a big bureaucratic department, I haven’t seen that done to death yet. I also liked that they didn’t specifically mention Heaven and Hell (although they are implied) and that whoever is in charge of the afterlife is only given as the Department of Eternal Affairs, which is as cute and punny as the title of the movie.

The repartee between Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds, and Jeff Bridges and Mary Louise Parker, and Jeff Bridges and everybody else in the movie is clever and mildly entertaining but didn’t really make the characters any more appealing or less boring. They were pretty much just cardboard cutout vehicles for the writers’ delightful banter.

The “deados” were sort of interesting – their whole deal is that if a soul stays on earth after it’s supposed to leave it rots and eventually turns into a monster which can only be seen when exposed to cumin (confirming my suspicions that there is something wrong with people who don’t like Indian food). The monsters they become reflect their character, so for example one guy who is a snitch ends up with a huge mouth, and Elvis is grotesquely obese.

That doesn’t change the fact that “deados” is a really stupid name for a thing. I would even go so far as to say it’s stupider than Dead Like Me’s “gravelings”, which is saying something. I get that calling them something cooler like, say, “deadites”, would draw an undeserved connection between this movie and Evil Dead but still, writers literally get paid to make shit up, they should at least be good at it.

Apart from the innovative view of the afterlife and the reasonably okay monsters, though, this movie is actually pretty boring. The non-banter dialogue is boring, the special effects are boring, even the music is boring which is something I never thought possible.

The characters are boring, Ryan Reynolds was a pretty stereotypical conflicted good guy, Jeff Bridges was everything you expect from the grouchy mentor, and Kevin Bacon was predictably evil, going so far as to do evil things just for the sake of doing evil things. Like, why would he kill his partner when he knew that the R.I.P.D. was a thing? Surely to god if he could wangle the gold out of the undead police’s evidence locker he could wangle it out of anywhere. The only character I found even remotely likeable was the chief of  ghost-police (Mary Louise Parker), because she was sassy and probably also because she didn’t have a lot of screen time.

The story is just Men In Black by way of Dead Like Me with some elements of Bladerunner and an ending that felt like somebody took all the fun out of Ghostbusters. It was like the filmmakers were just slapping scenes together from other movies – there’s even this thing where the characters say “relax body” before doing something a living person would not normally be able to do, much like the “there is no spoon” line in The Matrix.

Despite the fact that the writing does show a slight glimmer of intelligence, a lot of the humour is pretty stupid. For example, Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds don’t appear as their living selves to mortal eyes, instead humans see them as Marissa Miller, and James Hong, respectively. It’s kind of funny the first couple of times it comes up, I guess, but the joke (if it can really be called a joke) gets absolutely milked to death by the end of the movie.

The truly painful thing about this movie is that it’s a pretty good idea and has some potential, but completely, and knowingly squanders it.  There’s even a scene in which Jeff Bridges tells Mary Louise Parker “don’t be a cliché”, which is a piece of advice I really wish the makers of this movie had taken.


Directed by: Robert Schwentke.  Written by: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi, based on the comic Rest In Peace Department by Peter M Lenkov.  Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Baker, Mary-Louise Parker, Stéphanie Szostak.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

Banpaia Hantā Dī: Buraddorasuto (2000)

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When a young woman is abducted by a notoriously bloodthirsty vampire, her father hires a team of vampire bounty hunters to rescue her before she becomes a vampire herself, or kill her with dignity if she succumbed to the curse. As a backup should they fail, he also hires the famous half-vampire half-human bounty hunter known only as D.

I haven't seen the first Vampire Hunter D movie, nor have I read the books, but the story here is simple and straightforward and doesn't rely on an intimate knowledge of the series which is refreshing.

The simplicity of the story is this movie's greatest strength - because I wasn't sitting there desperately trying to parse out what the hell was going on and why, I could take the time to savour the other delights the movie had to offer.

Like the animation, which showcased a gorgeous blend of gothic architecture, and high-tech sci-fi elements, and rich natural backgrounds. Seriously, I think even if I turned the sound off and just watched this movie for the artwork I would have been happy.

The characters were well thought out and given plausible backstories and motives. They behaved rationally, and had a depth not often found in horror or fantasy flicks, especially the abductee girl. She could have been just like any other waify damsel in distress and it wouldn't have changed the dynamics of the movie a whole hell of a lot, but she wasn't, she was complex, going above and beyond my expectations. D and the other mercenary girl, even the vampire guy, are also interesting characters and as such I actually gave a shit about what happened.

My excitement about watching a movie with good characters was exacerbated by the similarities that movie Priest had to this movie. Even though Priest was loosely based on a comic series and had the same plot as The Searchers but with vampires, it could very easily have also been a live action remake of this movie, except that it was boring and predictable and the characters were terrible.

Another thing I liked about this movie was that it had a good old fashioned vampire because I for one am getting tired of all these new and improved vampires they keep coming out with. When I was a kid, vampires burned up in the sun, cast no reflection in mirrors, had noble titles, and were extremely difficult to kill, which is exactly what this movie's vampire, Baron Meier Link, delivers. As well, one of the characters is the old-school vampire Carmilla (if you're not familiar with horror fiction, Carmilla was the titular character of one of the first pieces of vampire literature ever written)

At the same time, the movie feeds my craving for weird and different monsters by featuring such innovative creatures a woman who can turn into trees, and a guy that lives in shadows.

Plus Bender plays like five different people in the English dub which is a nice treat.

The only qualm I had with the movie is that it does wander into the overly melodramatic which is difficult not to do in a vampire-romance I guess, but still. Like, D talks a lot about how ruthless and vicious this Meier Link is but all we get to see of him is a brooding, tortured romantic. Bram Stoker's Dracula already showed us that a man can be romantic as hell and also a throat-ripping vampire so I don't see much excuse for that. Also the abductee, while a good character, does have a bad case of "but daddy I love him" syndrome, which probably would have appealed to me ten years ago but does nothing for me now.

That being said, the movie is well written enough and has a good spattering of humour to keep the tragic love drama from getting overwhelming, and it all works out to be one of the best horror-scifi-fantasy-western-hardboiled-romance fusion movies I've seen.


Written and Directed by: Yoshiaki Kawajiri based on the novel Demon Deathchase by Hideyuki Kikuchi.  English Version Written by: Ellen Moore, Jack Fletcher.  Voices of: Andy Philpot, Mike McShane, John Rafter Lee, Pamela Adlon, Wendee Lee, John DiMaggio  (English Dub).

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sometimes They Come Back

Sometimes They Come Back (1991)

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A high school teacher (Tim Matheson) returns to the town where, as a child, he watched his brother get killed by greasers, and the greasers get run over by a train. Twenty seven years later and the greasers are back from the dead and thirsty for revenge. For some reason, they want revenge on the man and not the train, go figure. There's also something about how they have to recreate the events that lead to their death or else they'll go to hell or whatever.

This is based on one of Stephen King's less good stories and is even less good as a movie. The premise is interesting, and the whole thing about how the greasers have to kill a person in order to bring the next member of their crew back from the dead (they do so by killing buddy's students one by one and repopulating his classroom) is a good idea although it does beg the question of how the first one managed to come back. They sort of toy with the "maybe he's just going crazy" idea, although they didn't really commit to it that well, and the "I transferred up from Milford" thing is neat.

Plus I don't care what anybody else says, undead killer greasers are fun to watch. They have all the upsides of regular killer greasers without the drawback of themselves being killable. Plus they've got a sweet car. That being said, apart from being greasers, the angry dead in this movie are (much like the movie itself) really nothing special.

This movie is pretty much just a boring version of Pet Sematary. Like, if you thought that Pet Sematary was a good idea but the reanimated kid killing his parents was too deviant for you to handle, this is the movie for you. For the rest of us, though, it's just a run of the mill undead revenge movie where nothing interesting or frightening happens. Plus there's a nice dollop of weird christian bullshit to remind us all that while the dead are coming out of their graves and walking around, there is still a heaven and a hell and presumably a god who works in mysterious ways and what-not.

Furthermore, the ending turns the whole movie into a really obnoxious metaphor for grief. Spoilers lie ahead (although you can pretty much figure out everything that's going to happen in this movie within the first twenty minutes), but in the ending the guy manages to resurrect his dead brother to help him send the greasers to hell - putting his guilt over his brother's death where it belongs. The brother then asks buddy to come to Heaven with him, and buddy tells him basically "I can't because I have to stay here with my family but I'll always have you in my heart" or some other lame ass shit, thereby letting go of his grief and allowing him to move forward with his family rather than living in the past with his brother.

If there's one thing that turns my stomach it's when movies turn sadness into a tangible thing you can fight, because I always feel like I'm supposed to be learning something from it. Like, ohhhh, I'm supposed to fight my personal demons, jeez, why didn't I think of that. Fuck off.

Another thing that bothered me was the mechanics of the movie. As I mentioned before, how the first greaser managed to resurrect himself is still a mystery, although I like to think that the car was responsible. But also, like, why was all of this happening? I get that the teacher went back to his hometown and that made the greasers come back, okay, that makes sense to me. But why can't he just leave? His wife goes so far as to ask that in the movie and he's all like, "no, they'll find me wherever I go". But will they really? How will that stop them from going to hell? Because he has to face his grief.

This is a run of the mill Lesson movies, but the only lessons I learned from it are that if people try to rob you, you should just give them your money coz they might kill you, and that you should never park your car on a railroad track, both of which are things that I could have figured out on my own.


Directed by: Tom McLoughlin.  Written by: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, based on a short story by Stephen King.  Starring: Tim Matheson, Brooke Adams, Robert Rusler, Robert Hy Gorman, William Sanderson.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

House 2

House II: The Second Story (1987)

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A young couple (Arye Gross & Lar Park Lincoln) move into his old family homestead after his parents died mysteriously. Their obnoxious friends (Jonathan Stark & Amy Yasbeck) come to stay with them, and one evening the men-folk decide to dig up buddy's great-grandfather's grave to see if this legendary Mayan crystal skull is in there. The great-grandfather (Royal Dano) is still alive in the form of a cowboy mummy and comes to live with them as well. Unfortunately, the crystal skull which is keeping the old man alive is also attracting the forces of evil (which take the forms of a stone age pro wrestler, a group of Mayan priests, and a different undead cowboy).

Yeah this movie really doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's vaguely amusing in parts - like the bit with the eccentric electrician (John Ratzenberger) who also happens to be basically Indiana Jones - but it's all over the place, as though they took the worst things about House and decided to make a movie just about that.

The stop-motion creature effects are pretty good, but the things that they are effects of are really stupid. Like, okay, the two main characters find that one of the rooms is a portal to the stone age after aforementioned pro-wrestler crashes a Halloween party and steals the crystal skull. They follow him into the stone age and have to fight off stop-motion dinosaurs in a scene lifted from 1 Million Years BC. Only unlike 1 Million Years BC which was made in the 1960s, I'm pretty sure that by 1987 they knew that humans and dinosaurs did not live in the same time period which makes this movie annoying as fuck.

Also, there's a fucking dogerpillar, an animal invented for the sole purpose of annoying me. What the fuck.

The whole thing just feels like a really boring kids' movie the would've shown on the family channel in the 1990s, only the main character would have been ten instead of like thirty five. The characters are about as sharp as children, the cowboy-mummy grandpa being the worst offender. The main guys keep retrieving the crystal skull for him and he keeps losing it to other evil forces. Did I mention that the skull is the only reason he is still alive? You would think he would keep it somewhere safe. And every time he loses it, main guy is like "oh no, the skull got stolen, gramps will die if we don't get it back!" and it's like, man, gramps is 200 years old, his time is over.

I was seriously hoping the old man would get wasted (spoiler, he does, but not nearly soon enough) coz he's about as riveting as Grandpa Simpson. Yes, they found a way to make an undead mummy gunslinger boring. And now I've seen everything.

The ending - which I interpreted as the main character becoming his great grandfather - is terrible, a lazy cop-out, and really raises more questions than it answers. Did the house contain portals to other times or small pocket dimensions that look like other times (sort of like Indian in the Cupboard)? If the house burns down, which is implied, do the pocket dimensions collapse? If the house contains time-portals, what are the ramifications of the Idiot Friend leaving an Uzi in the Stone Age? Why was Bill Maher in the movie? These are questions that need answers.

Even the architecture of the house is really stupid. The outside is sort of a Queen Anne style spooky house, while the inside is half Victorian and half Aztec pyramid which does actually get explained but is still offensive to the eye.

Furthermore, it had nothing to do with the first House, really, except that it too was set in a house. Anyway, the only good thing about this movie was the title so my advice is to just read that, have a chuckle, and move on.


Written and Directed by: Ethan Wiley.  Story by: Fred Dekker.  Starring: Arye Gross, Jonathan Stark, Royal Dano, Lar Park Lincoln, Amy Yasbeck, John Ratzenberger, Bill Maher.

Friday, August 12, 2016

City of the Living Dead

Paura nella Città dei Morti Viventi (1980)

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A priest (Fabrizio Jovine) hangs himself in a cemetery and opens the gates of Hell. The dead begin rising from their graves, and manifesting as ghosts, and giving people weird visions in the town of Dunwich. It's up to a medium (Katriona MacColl), a journalist (Christopher George), a psychiatrist (Carlo de Majo), and his patient (Janet Agren) to figure out what happened and prevent hell on earth.

The premise of the movie is pretty interesting, deviating somewhat from the regular old "dead walk the earth for no good reason" or "virus turns everybody into zombies" cliches. The blend of witchcraft with heavy duty Christianity (the events of the movie were foretold in the Book of Enoch, which I had to look up) is different and cool.

The gore is extreme and gruesome - there's one scene in particular where a young woman (Daniela Doria) pukes up all of her organs, which alone makes the movie worth watching. You can actually watch the full scene here if you're curious and don't want to bother with the whole flick, it definitely not safe for work and I wouldn't recommend watching it while you're eating. Consider yourself informed.

Overall the movie isn't especially action heavy, relying mostly on atmosphere to create a great sense of impending doom. Between the strange but appealing cinematography, the unrelenting soundtrack, and the uncomfortable feeling that something just isn't right make for an intense and creepy experience.

Surprisingly, the characters were likable and believable enough that I felt genuine concern for their well-being by the end of the movie, which is a very unusual feat for a B movie such as this. I found myself actually feeling bad when two of the main characters got killed towards the end of the movie because it seemed like they just worked so damn hard to save the world. That contributes to the stressful feeling this movie elicits.

On the downside, apart from the vomiting girl, the revenants really weren't anything special. Yes, their reason for being on the earth rather than under it were different from the majority of zombie movies, but visually they were pretty much the same, and they behaved more or less like most ghouls.

The plot is not so great, it meanders around and gets sidetracked pretty regularly, switching randomly between lots of stuff happening and long dialogue heavy scenes. However, I feel that the arbitrary story line contributes to the surrealism and dread of the unknown that makes this movie great, and stresses the viewer out more. Really, this movie is about stressing you out either by repulsing you with gratuitous gore, or by grinding down your nerves with its unpredictable pacing. I was very stressed by the end so I think it did a pretty good job.

There's a scene in which one of the characters gets buried alive accidentally, which is one of my personal greatest fears. That got me stressed, and I stayed stressed for the entire rest of the movie.

The major problem with this movie is the ending. I did a little hunting on the internet after I finished watching in an attempt to figure out what the fuck that was supposed to be about. From what I can tell, the original ending got lost or destroyed (the way in which this happened varies) and the ending we see was slapped together in haste. There are a few interpretations of what it means (I'll let you look into that on your own), but to me, it means that the filmmakers were cheap and lazy and should have ended the movie seven seconds sooner. That's all it would have taken and it would have saved the movie.

As it is, the crappy ending casts a shadow of sloppiness over the whole thing. Otherwise, the movie is really well done, the payoff is just terrible though. So, if you do watch this movie, and I recommend that you do, just do yourself a favour and stop it as soon as the people crawl out of the crypt. You'll be happier that way, believe me.


Directed by: Lucio Fulci.  Written by: Lucio Fulci, Dardano Sacchetti.  Starring: Katriona MacColl, Christopher George, Carlo de Mejo, Janet Agren, Fabrizio Jovine, Luca Paisner, Antonella Interlenghi, Giovanni Lombardo Radice.

Friday, August 5, 2016


Dèmoni (1985)
Image Source: Wikipedia
A couple of young students (Natasha Covey and Paola Cozza) receive invitations to a movie screening from a mysterious stranger on the subway. The movie is about a mask either found or made by Nostradamus who turns whoever wears it into a murderous demon. Meanwhile, another attendee tries on a similar mask in the lobby and (spoiler alert!) turns into a murderous demon who can turn others into demons by scratching them. The moviegoers find themselves being horribly killed one by one in an attempt to fight off their demonically possessed friends.

This is a pretty cool idea for a movie - the movie within a movie idea is a nice device because it heightens the sense of impending terror as the characters get a little preview of what's about to happen to them and it gives us twice as much violent death as we deserve.

The makeup and special effects looked great. The demons were utterly repulsive with their long fingernails, bloodshot eyes, and mouths vomiting what looks like paint. The transformations from human to demon was fantastic as well, starting with oozing pustules and including a nice long shot where the victim's teeth fall out to make way for scary demon teeth.

The gore was fabulous and disgusting, with people getting their scalps ripped off and eyes dug out, all in the glorious, over the top detail only a vintage Italian gore film can truly capture, all set to 80s rock and roll, lovingly interspersed with the sweet sounds of Claudio Simonetti for whom I expressed my love in my review of Warriors of the Wasteland earlier this week. 

Plus there's sexy, old fashioned Italian punks running around and adding absolutely nothing to the plot but so much to the aesthetic of the movie. 

There's next to no explanation given for the events of the movie, beyond the secondhand allusions to Nostradamus, who I'm not an expert on by any means but I'm pretty sure never predicted the end of the world by demons. There's also a part where one of the characters says that the movie isn't evil but the theatre is, a statement which isn't expanded on. I'm not adverse to things happening just because but there's a lot of stuff going on in this movie that could have used an explanation. For example, why did the moviegoers find themselves walled inside the building after demons started doing demon stuff? Since the demons do eventually get out of the theatre (for no really good reason), the global effect of the demon infestation would have been the same whether or not the people had been trapped in the theatre.

The characters are all painfully stupid, which is to be expected for this type of movie so I can't really fault it for that. But the demons are also stupid. Like, they jab the eyes out of a blind guy. What the fuck is that supposed to do? I mean, yeah, sure, it would hurt really really bad, but he's already blind so what's the point? Ripping somebody's tongue out would really hurt too and it would be more devastating than robbing somebody of a sense they already don't have.

Once the demons get going spreading their demonism, the movie turns into every zombie flick ever made only with "demons" instead of "zombies" (they act remarkably similar). They're fast moving and psychotically violent so they're more fun than the average zombie but still, the mechanics are the same. 

Furthermore, once the main guy (Urbano Barberini) hit his stride, ripping off his sleeves and chopping demons up with a sword, I realized that this was pretty much just Evil Dead but less clever and without the inconvenience of filming in the woods.

Finally, the ending dragged on way too long in order to set up a sequel (of which, I might add, there were eight), when really it could have ended right after the last guy and gal escape the theatre and find that (spoiler) the world is overrun with demons. It goes on like nine minutes after that which is way too long.

Anyway, this movie isn't bad, but it's nothing special and not something I would recommend going out of your way to watch. If you've seen Dawn of the Dead and Evil Dead and can use your imagination to picture them in a movie theatre, you've pretty much seen this movie. That being said, if you're a fan of non stop gratuitous gore with little to no plot, this is worth a gander and is actually available on youtube so you don't have to work that hard.


Directed by: Lamberto Bava.  Written by: Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Franco Ferrini, Dardano Sacchetti.  Starring: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Geretta Giancarlo, Paola Cozza, Nicoletta Elmi, Michele Soavi, Alex Serra. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


House (1986)

Famous horror author Roger Cobb (William Katt) inherits a spooky old house after his spooky old aunt hangs herself in it. He had previously suspected that the house may be haunted when his young son disappeared without a trace from its swimming pool a few years before - turns out that the house is sort of sentient and evil and inhabited by otherworldly creatures and also the ghost of one of his dead 'Nam buddies.

I was surprised that this movie was as good as it was. It was well written and funny without being a full tilt horror comedy, just sort of utilizing the ridiculousness of the situation.

The character development was good, particularly the character of the neighbour (George Wendt) - there's a scene where he steals buddy's address book, I figured it was because he was a creepy stalker or whatever but actually he just wants to call buddy's erstwhile wife to let her know that her former husband is having some mental problems. He's actually concerned. It's nice.

They also delved fairly deeply into Roger Cobb's character to make his descent into possible insanity more convincing. The fact that he's a horror fiction writer actually gets brought up when he starts seeing demonic entities in his closet, it's not just something the writers did to make it easier for other writers to identify with the character. His acting is also pretty convincing so that's good.

The fact that the house is not necessarily haunted but rather straight up evil is sort of Lovecraftian, as are the creatures that crawl out of the evil Narnia in the closets and medicine cabinets and pools and so on, which makes the whole movie more appealing. A little Lovecraft goes a long way into making a movie seem more interesting.

Plus the idea of a house that hates people and makes them go crazy and kill themselves, like Shirley Jackson's Hill House, or to a shittier extent, the hotel room in 1408,  is pretty cool anyway.

So this movie starts out with a pretty neat idea and, like the foundation of a house, builds a pretty solid story on that idea. But then my house metaphor and the movie itself fall apart towards the end. The problem with this movie is that there is waaaaaaay too much stuff going on. The guy is living in an evil house that killed his aunt, cool, he's also suffering PTSD while trying to write a memoir of his experiences in Vietnam, and investigating the mysterious disappearance of his son, and trying to fend off the weird lumpy creatures that live in his closet, and trying to nail the hot blonde neighbour lady, and possibly going crazy.

All of this stuff is really interesting and gives a depth not found in the average horror flick, but when it comes time to wrap the movie up it makes for a disorderly jumble. Pretty much everything gets resolved which is impressive, but isn't that satisfying. I could have done perfectly well without him finding his kid, or resolving his Vietnam guilt. As it is, it feels like they couldn't decide what they wanted the movie to be about so they kinda threw everything in there and ended up with plot salad.

This movie is good but not great 80s horror, good for an evening when you want to have a few laughs and see a few monsters but you find Stuart Gordon movies too scary.


Directed by: Steve Miner.  Written by: Ethan Wiley.  Starring: William Katt, George Wendt, Richard Moll, Kay Lenz, Mary Stavin.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Warriors of the Wasteland

I Nuovi Barbari (1983)

In a post apocalyptic wasteland, a gang of violent marauders called The Templars is going around murdering survivors of the nuclear war in an attempt to rid the earth of what's left of humanity. An equally violent dude named Scorpion (Giancarlo Prete) drives around the desert with his friends killing Templars and protecting innocent pilgrims.

If you can't tell from that brief synopsis, this movie is a painful, low budget rip-off of The Road Warrior. Only where Road Warrior is fun and fast paced, this movie is weird and boring.

The costumes are really lame - the main dude and the girl wear what look like sweaters from the Sears catalogue circa 1980, and the Templars wear rejected Star Wars storm trooper uniforms with huge shoulder pads. Scorpion's buddy (Fred Williamson) has kind of a cool garbage-armour thing going on, but it still looks like it would be horribly inefficient in the desert.

The cars are really stupid looking too, which is disappointing in a Road Warrior rip off. Scorpion's car has a big ol' bubble dome on the back and that is not cool whatsoever, and most of the other cars look like they were freshly made from cardboard and silver paint, unlike the dirty and worn-out looking cars in the Mad Max series.

Furthermore, there's this weird religious angle throughout the movie which didn't sit particularly well with me. Early on, one of the Templar dudes rips a bible in half, which tells you that they're godless heathens (!), and the people they're trying to kill are followers of some new age prophet who lead his people out of the ruins of the old world or some shit. It didn't really get into it enough to really make a point, it was just this annoying thing in the background.

The film is not without its merits. There aren't a lot of merits, but there are a few. The throbbing 80s synth soundtrack by Claudio Simonetti, keyboard player from Goblin, is pretty sweet - you can sample its sweetness on youtube here.

The main girl, Anna Kanakis, was pretty and had cool hair and make-up. Her character only shows up for like fifteen minutes though and basically she just bangs Scorpion and then he ditches her with some pilgrims so not much interesting going on there.

Fred Williamson is in this movie and he has a bow that shoots exploding arrows so, you know, that's pretty cool. Again, he sort of wanders in and out of the movie almost at random so not super interesting.

Speaking of exploding arrows, there are a bunch of decapitations which is always amusing to watch. Like pretty much every time somebody gets killed in this movie it's by decapitation. One person actually gets decapitated by the wheel of a car which was neat. The special effects weren't that good but the thought was there.

The only interesting point of the movie was a scene where Scorpion gets anally raped by the leader of the Templars (George Eastman), which is only worth noting because it's unusual in a movie that otherwise seems to celebrate conventional masculinity. It also feeds the whole "homosexuals are depraved and scary" thing which is dumb and boring, but at least having a super macho male hero getting sexually assaulted is sort of different.

Ultimately, though, this movie is pretty tedious for one about people driving around the desert killing each other, and not something I would recommend to those who value the hours in their day.


Directed by: Enzo G. Castellari.  Written by: Tito Carpi, Enzo G. Castellari.  Starring: Giancarlo Prete, Fred Williamson, George Eastman, Massimo Vanni, Venantino Venantini, Anna Kanakis, Giovanni Frezza.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Return of Swamp Thing

The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)

In the sequel to Swamp Thing, nefarious geneticist Dr. Arcane (Louis Jourdan) survives being turned into an anteater/warthog monster and killed, and continues his genetic tampering in the Louisiana swamp. The only downside to his miraculous recovery is that he is slowly disintegrating or something, and can only stop the process by harvesting genes from his genetically perfect stepdaughter (Heather Locklear). Meanwhile, Swamp Thing (Dick Durock) patrols the bayou, protecting lost hunters and trailer park residents from Arcane's escaped experiments.

This movie was way better than Swamp Thing. From the opening credits - old school comic book covers set to "Born on the Bayou" - you just know that where the first movie took itself way too seriously and was kinda dull, this one is fun and silly.

The special effects and costumes were way cooler in this movie. There's a dude whose head is basically like a giant cockroach, that was decent. And remember how in the first movie Swamp Thing's costume was basically a green-grey jumpsuit with a couple shitty looking vines glued to it? In this movie he's all slimy and shaggy with all kinds of shit hanging off of him and a face that's reminiscent of the Creature from the Black Lagoon

There were also a bunch of goofy one-liners - for example, when Swamp Thing explains to Heather Locklear that he can't be her boyfriend because he's actually a plant, she replies with "that's okay, I'm a vegetarian". Hilarious, right?

Also, and this is a little bit nitpicky but whatever, the first movie had all these gimmicky wipes between scenes which seemed totally out of place considering that movie was pretending to be serious. This movie had them too, but they were way more appropriate.

The acting wasn't great. Heather Locklear in particular was pretty bad but it fit with the cheeziness of the movie. Swamp Thing goes from sounding tired and sort of in pain in the first one, to perky and matter-of-fact which is sort of weird but makes the movie more amusing.

The plot didn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense - Dr. Arcane for some reason needs genetic material from Heather Locklear, and Swamp Thing (I think), and his mistress (Sarah Douglas) who is also his housekeeper and a brilliant geneticist in order to not die, and the process of extracting said material will be lethal. There were a bunch of characters and subplots that serve next to no function - like the two little boys from the trailer park who are trying to get a picture of Swamp Thing, and this talking parrot who I was sure was going to give away some crucial piece of information coz why the fuck else would you have a talking parrot in a movie, but nope, it was just there - which is weird and sloppy.

Realistically, Swamp Thing is not that great of a hero because, as he demonstrates halfway through the movie, he can regenerate his entire body after being blown to pieces. Also, his ability to heal others has seemingly no limit, so neither he, nor his friends, can ever be in any real danger.

There are also some weird discrepancies between this movie and the first one. Dr. Arcane's regeneration is, surprisingly, explained. However, the magic serum in the first movie was supposed to enhance attributes the person taking it already had (which is lame), whereas in this movie it's used to make Dr. Moreau-esque animal/human hybrids (which is FUCKING DOPE AS SHIT). Also, Adrienne Barbeau's character got chucked out the window and replaced by a blonde California ditz which sucks a little bit.

But, you know, on the plus side, we find out how Swamp Thing has sex. Spoiler ahead, he doesn't have a peen so he has to get it on like Barbarella.

All in all, this is by no means a sleek piece of sophisticated filmmaking, but it's fun to watch and a better movie than Swamp Thing. It even sums up what happens in Swamp Thing so you can just skip that movie without missing a whole lot.

Directed by: Jim Wynorski.  Written by: Neil Cuthbert & Grant Morris, based on the character Swamp Thing created by Len Wein & Bernie Wrightson.  Starring: Dick Durock, Louis Jourdan, Heather Locklear, Sarah Douglas, Ace Mask.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

End of Days

End of Days (1999)

In this movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a former police officer who dramatically lost his faith and winds up having to protect a young woman (Robin Tunney) from being impregnated by the devil who happens to be walking around New York in the body of an investment banker (Gabriel Byrne). Said impregnation is scheduled to happen between eleven and midnight on New Year's Eve 1999 and will open up the gates of hell and bring about the, you know, End of Days.

The movie has some gruesome parts which held my attention for a little bit. There's one scene in particular where a guy gets crucified to the ceiling with surgical tools which was almost reminiscent of something out of Seven although not as gross and a lot more ridiculous (which is saying something).

There's also some weird Christian stuff which was vaguely interesting - for example, a woman with stigmata and speaking in tongues I guess hanging out in a church basement - but the movie didn't go into any sort of depth about that. They mentioned that there were more cases, but they didn't show it, thereby failing to capture the sense of impending doom one would expect from a movie called End of Days.

Gabriel Byrne did a reasonably good job playing the devil incarnate. He was definitely less obnoxious than, say, Al Pacino in Devil's Advocate or Jack Nicholson in Witches of Eastwick, but also less intimidating than Peter Stormare in Constantine or Sam Neill in Omen 3. In fact, I feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger would have done a much better job as Satan in this movie - they could have made him a robot devil and called it, oh, say, Terminator: Revelations or Terminator: Judgement Day.

Anyway. The plot was predictable, following all of the cliches you would expect in a run-of-the-mill Satan-walks-the-earth movie. There's a scene with a snake and a weird ritual; a scene where the main character's judgement is called into question due to debilitating alcoholism; the obligatory "I'm not really the bad guy, God is the bad guy" speech followed by the Devil proving that yes, in fact, he is the bad guy; the scene where the main character gets his faith back and is powered by God's love or whatever; the scene where the Devil sheds his human appearance and reveals himself to be a big stupid looking monster. It's all there, and while it's comforting in its familiarity, this movie didn't deviate from the formula enough to be interesting.

The characters weren't strong enough to hold the lazy plot, as we're given almost no information about them. Schwarzenegger's character is mourning the sudden, violent loss of his family, whoopty fuckin ding, how many action movie characters have had that happen? The only reason we're given to care about the female lead is that she's cute and in distress. She's also super rich and if life experience has taught me anything it's that nine times out of ten rich people are fucking dicks so maybe they should've just killed her to prevent the apocalypse.

The worst offender for shoddy character development , of course, was Gabriel Byrne's character. Not Satan, but his actual character. We see him early in the movie sitting down to dinner with some woman and an older dude, he goes to the bathroom and then BAM he's possessed by Satan. He gets no backstory at all. How do we know that he wasn't a violent, oversexed arsonist before he was possessed? We don't. Maybe all Satan did was give him the ability to piss gasoline (that happened in the movie, no lie)? Maybe that was a weird, pre-existing medical condition. We'll never know. The fact that we know literally nothing about the character makes it really unsatisfying when the body gets killed because technically he didn't even do anything wrong. I mean, yeah, he was supposed to be an investment banker, so probably super rich and you can re-read the above paragraph to see how I feel about that, but still, maybe he wasn't, we don't know, nobody does.

Even the action scenes in this movie were ludicrous at best - for example this part where Schwarzenegger dangles by a cable out of a helicopter trying to snag a gunman on the roof of a building - and incomprehensible at worst. There's a scene where Schwarzenegger fights like forty people and the editing was so choppy that it's nearly impossible to tell what was going on. Although, to be fair, I was starting to fall asleep at that point.

The biggest problem I had with this movie, though, has nothing to do with the half-assed writing, or the mediocre acting, or the incomprehensible premise. Although, to be fair, that was a little frustrating too. Like, is the devil trying to father the Antichrist? Or open the gates of hell? Coz like from what I understand of Christian mythology, before the second coming of Christ, there will be a false messiag (or Antichrist) born of a virgin and presumably the Devil, who will be vanquished by Christ when he does show up. But if, as this movie suggests, the gates of hell will swing open the moment Satan's proxy ejaculates into the diabolic receptacle, then really what's the point of siring a false prophet?

I can't believe I'm actually trying to rationalize this movie.

But I digress. The real problem I have is that we are no longer in the year 1692 and the Devil isn't scary anymore. It doesn't matter what you do, you can make him a flame peeing psychopath, the idea of Lucifer actually walking around murdering people is too silly to be frightening. That's why most movies that feature Satan as a major character are a joke, like Ghost Rider, and films featuring Satan that are actually scary focus more on human actions, like Rosemary's Baby and The Witch.

The conclusion that I drew from this movie is that the Devil trumps God as evidenced by the fact that apparently the entire population of New York worships Satan (if I was a savvy New York writer I would make a joke about that), and that he can walk into a church and kill a bunch of priests without the slightest interference from the Almighty. But Arnold Schwarzenegger ultimately defeats the Devil so therefore worshiping Arnold puts you on the winning team.


Directed by: Peter Hyams.  Written by: Andrew W. Marlowe.  Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney, Kevin Pollak, CCH Pounder, Udo Kier, Miriam Margolyes.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Shallows

The Shallows (2016)

Blake Lively plays a girl who dropped out of med school to go surf in Mexico after her mom died of cancer. Unfortunately for her, the secluded beach that has sentimental value to her mother and sweet waves also has a gigantic, bloodthirsty great white shark patrolling its waters. What follows is a battle of wits between the former med student and a big angry fish.

The movie looked great. The cinematography was gorgeous, and the surfing stuff made surfing look fun. I don’t surf because I have a deep terror of water, but, you know, it looks pretty cool. I also really liked how they did the phone stuff – cell phones are obviously a huge part of everybody’s life but I haven’t seen them incorporated into a movie in such a stylish and visually interesting way before.
So in all the technical filmmaking aspects this movie was acceptable. I’ve never seen Blake Lively in anything before but I heard her name on the radio so I assume she is important, anyway, her acting was good. This is one of those movies where the main character is in horrible debilitating pain for ninety percent of the time they’re on screen, and she made it convincingly cringey. 

That being said, the real MVP of this movie, the only character that was even remotely interesting was the seagull. It had an air of mystery that Blake Lively’s character did not, and, unlike Lively, I was unsure as to whether the seagull would survive to the end of the movie, which made me genuinely concerned for its safety.

Anyway, that’s all the good things I have to say about this movie. I am a little bit impressed that they managed to make a movie about a gigantic shark swimming around eating people so boring, although the fact that the main character basically doesn’t move for an hour doesn’t help with that.

While I understand that there are only so many things to make a movie about, but this movie is literally Gravity but instead of a comet or whatever the fuck the thing in Gravity was, it’s a shark. And, you know, Sandra Bullock is a better actor than Blake Lively and Alfonso Cuaron is a way better filmmaker than Jaume Collet-Serra, the guy responsible for such films as House of Wax (the Paris Hilton one) and Orphan. The predictability made it really hard for me to really give a shit about what happened.

Another reason giving a shit was nearly impossible is the almost insultingly trite main character. The only reason we’re supposed to care about her is because, you know, she’s cute, and also her mom died of cancer but she was a fighter so like if Blake can fight off the shark than it’ll be like her mom’s cancer battle wasn’t for nothing or something fucking stupid. Fun fact: shit like that doesn’t make me go “oh wow, she has such an interesting backstory I hope she survives this ordeal”, it makes me go “you can’t make me feel feels, I’m onto you, you bastards”

The shark was also kind of disappointing. I have often complained about the use and abuse of CG in movies, and I’m going to again because a CG shark does not do it for me. I will grant that they used to shark fairly sparingly, but the final woman versus shark battle left a lot to be desired. Which is too bad because the only reason I actually went to see this movie was because there was a shark in it and I really like sharks.

Furthermore, although I am by no means an expert on sharks or their behaviour – I consider myself to be more a fan of sharks than an amateur sharkologist  - I do understand a little bit about basic predator behaviour and I do not for one minute buy that if a shark had a dead, rotting whale carcass in front of it, it would waste its time fucking around with a live human. Like there’s a part where it swims through a field of stinging jellyfish, and another part where it basically eats a buoy trying to get at this girl and I’m like, there’s easily accessible food RIGHT FUCKING THERE. Unless it considered her to be a threat or competition, it would probably leave her alone.

Speaking of competition, I also don’t buy that there was only one predator animal there. To quote something my dad used to say to me about wildlife, "where there's one there are probably more" and the big juicy dead whale and buckets of blood in the water would likely attract another shark. Even if not another great white, there are other types of shark in those waters that would probably do some damage if hungry or provoked.

So, you know, that’s sort of annoying. My final qualm with this movie comes in the form of a spoiler so if you’re still gung ho about seeing it than I guess turn away now. Are you ready for the spoiler? 

The girl makes it. She wins the fight with the shark. That’s right, the only way that she can survive is to kill the majestic beast, which I will remind everybody is actually a protected species. Yeah. I didn’t feel satisfied by that at all. I mean, I get it, the shark symbolizes her mother’s death and by defeating the shark and surviving she is really defeating her grief and getting on with her life. Whatever. My dad died but I didn’t feel the need to go throttle a California Condor to stop feeling sad.

All in all this movie was not very interesting, and I would have been way happier if the shark had eaten the girl.  


Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra.  Written by: Anthony Jaswinski.  Starring: Blake Lively, Sully the Seagull.