The Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special (2022) Review

So I recently watched The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and I thought it was mostly good. James Gunn is back to deliver this first look at what the guardians have been up to since we last saw them in Avengers Endgame. I know they were in Thor Love and Thunder but that was more of a cameo and we didn’t get much of them in it. This special was written and directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Dave Batista as Drax, Pom Klementeiff as Mantis, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, and Kevin Bacon as Kevin Bacon. The Guardians, who are on a mission to make Christmas unforgettable for Quill, head to Earth in search of the perfect present (longline from letterboxed). This was a fun special that puts more focus on the relationship between Mantis and Drax and gives Mantis a bigger role in Quill’s life. Most of the special is a fish out of water comedy focusing on Drax and Mantis on Earth. Even though it is a fun part of the special, its also one of the weaker parts for me. I found myself pausing often and doing other stuff during this part. I do like how the whole reason for this special is a classic Christmas special trope of trying to give someone a good Christmas and remember what that is like…..even when they never forgot. This special really gives a lot for Mantis as a character as we get to see her do a lot more than we’ve seen her do in the movies. She gets to be funny as always, but we get to see her be angry and drunk and silly and do things action wise that we’ve never seen her do. Pom does a great job and you can tell she has a great time on this. In terms of performance the other best one is probably Kevin Bacon, you can see he probably had a great time doing this. Everyone else is good and serves their roles well, they’re just not in it much. I didn’t mention Drax earlier because I feel like there’s nothing all that new with his character and performance from what we’ve seen before. Having said that, I did enjoy how much he loves the inflatable Elf. Everything else with this special was good in terms of technically, like the music was good and I enjoy the songs made for this special, the little action is good, the effects are good, the sets look great. This is where we’ll get into my issues with this special. The first issue I have is that the fish out of water portion didn’t work great for me, as I said I found myself pausing and going elsewhere instead of watching it. The second issue I have is that it’s too short. They want to do a lot with this, but they don’t have the time to do it. It really feels like they had some time while filming the third movie that they decided to make a holiday special with it. It feels like it was shot in probably a couple weeks around shooting the third movie. For me this is a detriment to the special because its pretty noticeable, and because of that its not as satisfying as it probably should be for me. A good example of this for me is in the last half of the special, I don’t want to spoil it but I feel like the turn around wasn’t given enough time. One conversation is all it takes to go from being kidnapped to being friends and performing a song about Christmas. 

Over-all this was a fun special, not great but over-all a good watch. I give it One Thumb up, it’s an ok watch for this time of year. 

Violent Night (2022) Review

Poster: Violent Night by Bryan Johnson

So I recently saw Violent Night, and it was a fun movie. It works as a christmas movie and uses a lot of christmas movie tropes while also being a violent action movie about Santa rescuing a family from issues of its own creation. Violent Night was directed by Tommy Wirkola and stars David Harbour as Santa Claus, John Leguizamo as Scrooge, Alan Hassell as Jason Lightstone, Alexis Louder as Linda, Cam Gigandet as Morgan Steel, Editor Patterson as Alva Lightstone, Never D’Angelo as Gertrude Lightstone, Leah Brady as Trudy Lightstone, and Alexander Elliot as Bert. When a team of mercenaries breaks into a wealthy family compound on Christmas Eve, taking everyone inside hostage, the team isn’t prepared for a surprise combatant: Santa Claus is on the grounds, and he’s about to show why this Nick is no saint (synopsis from letterboxed). This is a movie that directly engages on its premise, and it delivers on it too. Its part gory action movie, part comedy, and part classic christmas movie. It uses a lot of classic christmas movie elements and formulas but also makes them kind of new since they’re being used in a gory action movie about Santa killing mercenaries. This is going to be a bit of stretch, but this movie kind of uses the now well known Hallmark romance formula in a way. Santa is a busy workaholic guy that has lost his christmas spirit. He comes across a family being held hostage and has to stay and help solve the situation. During this he is in contact with Trudy through a walkie talkie radio. This situation and Trudy’s belief in him bring back his christmas spirit and save the day. For this movie it works, and it works well for me. I enjoy how it gives Santa and the main family members an arc to go on through this movie. David Harbour is amazing as Santa and is the stand-out character of this movie. He’s badass but still has that wholesome energy in the character, even during the parts where he’s less than that. I do enjoy what they did with his backstory throughout the film, it does help explain why he’s such a badass and why he has a proclivity for a certain type of weapon. Everyone else in the movie did a great job, and you can see that everyone had a good time making this movie.

Most of the comedy in the movie works for me, but some of it is pretty cringy. Though I found that it was supposed to be cringy, as it was mostly tied to the more comic relief characters we’re not supposed to like. Probably the most effective comedy for me is the stuff related to people not believing in Santa when the actual Santa is in front of them, and the full on home alone scene. If you’ve ever wondered what Rated R home alone traps would be like, this is where you can find out. The action is pretty good throughout the movie. It makes good use of the setting with Santa using whatever he can find as a weapon, with decorations becoming deadly. They also got really creative with the hammer action in the movie. A stand-out action scene for me is when Santa is in the shed while a bunch of armed goons surround it and he finds a sledgehammer. It’s awesome and brutal and creative in what Santa is able to do in it. The action is all well-shot and well edited. No real shaky cam or fast editing. You can tell they put in the work to make it look as good as they can get it. The music is fittingly overtly christmas music and works for the tone of the movie. 

Over-all this is a fun movie and a good addition to your holiday action movie watch throughs. Some may see it as Die Hard in a mansion staring Santa as john Mclane, but I can safely say its if Die Hard was a full on outward christmas movie. Its a fun watch that’s worth seeing, Two-Thumbs Up !

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) Review

SO I saw Black Panther Wakanda Forever opening weekend and it’s taken me this long to gather my thoughts. It was a great movie. I’m going to try to avoid spoilers in this review as its a movie that should be seen. Black Panther Wakanda Forever is directed by Ryan Coogler and stars Letitia Wright as Shuri, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Winston Duke as M’Baku, Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda, Tenoch Huerta as Namor, and Dominigue Thorne as Siri Williams. After the death of King T’Challa, Wakanda must navigate a world gunning for its resources as well as a new power entering the scene of Talokan and Namor. Its really interesting to see how this movie utilizes elements from the first Black Panther movie to help its story and characters deal with the untimely death the character T’Challa, and by extension the death of Chadwick Boseman. It uses these similarities to help the characters and the audience grieve together, as their loss hit a lot of people hard in similar ways. This feeling continues throughout the whole movie and really colours the way the characters act and are motivated throughout. I think it is a great decision to have the movie be this way as it really helps create this sense of vulnerability within Wakanda and to outsiders, and especially to Namor and his new world of Talokan (this universe’s version of Atlantis, which could still exist somewhere). Talokan was an interesting world, different from anything else we’ve seen in the MCU. 

I’ll get a bit more about what I mean the movie uses the formula and elements of the first movie to enhance the story of this one. The movie follows a similar plot structure in that it begins with a cold open of people doing things and than a superpower attack on a military installation of some kind, we get scenes of wakanda talking to the world, introduce the villain, wakandans travel to find someone, there’s a car chase, introduction of a new world to the mcu showing off the people and the culture of this new world, freedom leading to war, a major attack on Wakanda that leaves it in the mercy of the Jabari tribes, herb stuff, that leads to the black panther driving to the jabari to lead the charge. Its a good way to keep that link with the first movie, while allowing it to tell its own story while dealing with the grief that the characters and actors feel.

The characters and actors in this movie are all great. Letitia Wright was great again as Shuri, really got a lot of interesting stuff to work with in this movie character wise. She hasn’t fully moved past her brothers death and blames herself for it. She has lost her faith and becomes angry and vengeful which is an interesting place to take the character considering her family. Angela Basset was great as Queen Ramonda. Tenoch Huerta was great as Namor, perfectly enrapturing the feeling and personality of the character even with the big changes they make to the character. He’s a stand-out character in this movie and gets a lot of great moments. Everyone else does a great job in their roles.

The effects are mostly great throughout this movie, Talokan looks great. Namor mostly looks great throughout, the only iffy spots are the panther suit in this. The fights were great throughout, Namor hasn’t really been nerfed and is shown to be very powerful. The final fight was pretty brutal for a marvel movie which I like. They way they depict his powers is great and the weapons of the people of Talokan are great as well. The music was amazing again.

Over-all this was a great marvel movie that should be seen on the big screen. Two-Thumbs Up !

A bit of a blog update now. I’m going to try to be more consistent again, the halloween thing almost worked out but I wasn’t able to post a last review for it. Than this took me longer to write than I wanted too as I was busy the weekend I saw the movie and got sick and wasn’t able to write anything. Should have some holiday stuff coming up though.

Mortal Kombat (2021) Review

Today I decided to go a little different. Instead of doing another horror movie I went horror adjacent, but still fitting the season with Mortal Kombat from 2021. Mortal Combat was directed by Simon McQuoid and stars Lewis Tan as Cole Young, Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade, Josh Lawson as Kano, Joe Taslim as Bi-Han/Sub-Zero, Mehcad Brooks as Jax, Tadanobu Asano as Lord Raiden, Hiroyuki Sanada as Hanzo Hasashi/Scorpion, Chin Han as Shang Tsung, and Ludi Lin as Liu Kang. Mortal Combat tells the story of Lord Raiden gathering the champions of earthrealm to fight in the tournament of mortal kombat against the forces of Shang Tsung and outworld. I’m probably gonna keep this review short as I don’t have strong feelings about this movie. For those who don’t know or know me, I am a fan of the franchise. It’s probably the only fighting game I’ve followed and I love the lore surrounding it, in all its versions. So I was excited when I heard they were coming out with a new movie. I think its interesting how the movie decided to go with some of the more different ides from the games in that a lot of stuff can happen outside of the tournament. Its a good idea and can make for a more interesting movie franchise instead of focusing on just the tournament. Though that can create some things that I’ll mention later that can have an unintentional affect. I think that the story and plotline of this movie is ok, its serviceable and works for the most part. It introduces some stuff that can work for this version of the lore, such as the dragon mark representing their champion designation. They also use it to explain why an average human can have super powers, but it has this unintentional affect of making it like an x-gene in practice. 

The characters for the most part all work. They’re pretty good adaptations of their game counterparts, especially Kano. He’s the most fun character throughout the movie. The performances are all good for the characters. It was cool to see what they did with some of the characters and what characters they would include. Cole was an ok new character, an interesting backstory but they gotta do more with him to make him interesting in the future. Sub-zero was a standout from just coolness alone, you can tell they wanted him to have an impact.
The movie looks great for the most part. The locations and sets are great and the cinematography is good at moments. The effects are mostly pretty good, some stuff could have used a bit more time, like Gorr and the compositing of the outworld scenes. Thought the ice effects were incredible, very creative use that sets it a part from the usage in the games. The score was ok, a little too dubstepy in some places for my taste. The action for the most part was pretty good, the best scenes being the opening and the ending final fight. Funny how the best fights all involve Scorpion and Sub-zero. Although that final fight was awesome. Though it would have been cool to see more of Scorpions abilities in that fight. The problem I have with most of the action is the editing, like its can get jumpy at times and really should have let the action flow instead. 

I had some big issues with this movie. I’ll start a bit smaller and work my way up. There are a few potholes to me in terms of the lore. So they mention that the tournament is held to protect the realms from each other, but then Shang mentions that none of the other gods are going to stop him from just invading earthrealm. They should establish why they have to work through the tournament, and why Shang is doing these underhanded tactics when they’re this close to winning. Although that could also be working towards some of the stuff the more recent story from the games did where the elder gods didn’t get involved with Shao Kahn’s workings until he invaded. The movie makes use of a lot of fan service, but it doesn’t really earn it. It’ll do stuff that only fans of the franchise would understand but doesn’t actually make use of them. Especially character wise, as there are some characters that are there just to be another score on the kill count. My biggest issue is that this feels like a generic blockbuster movie with mortal kombat paint on it. Like it’s just an ok blockbuster. It doesn’t do the work to get us to care about the characters, it expects everyone to know who everyone is to have us care for them. It’s hard to describe for some reason.

Over-all this was an ok movie. It could have been a lot better and just feels kind of generic. It has some cool moments and some cool kills, but it doesn’t earn it to me. I give it a thumb up, its not bad but not that memorable. 

Evil Dead (2013) Review + Franchise Ranking

Welp, went from Horror history to modern horror. Today i decided to finish off the Evil Dead franchise as it currently stands in movie format with the 2013 horror remake Evil Dead. This was another great movie in this franchise. It’s both different and similar to the original, which helps it stand on its own. Evil Dead was written and directed by Fede Alvarez and stars Jane Levy as Mia, Shiloh Fernandez as David, Jessica Lucas as Olivia, Lou Taylor Pucci as Eric, and Elizabeth Blackmore as Natalie. This movie takes a similar premise in that its about a  group of five friends going to a cabin in the woods, that was used as a place for the study of a demonic book of the dead that unleashes an evil force upon the group. This is the main plot line of the movie, where it differs from the original movie is in the characters and their motivations. They are not here for a vacation at a random cabin they heard about from someone, but they are here for a specific reason. They are here to help their friend and sister Mia quit drugs cold turkey. I really enjoy having this plot line here as it creates more personal stakes for the characters, it gives them a reason to be there and why when the supernatural stuff starts happening they don’t believe right away. It also really helps with the characters, in that they all have a stake in what happens here. There are all these interpersonal relationships here that didn’t really happen in the original that help this movie build the tension and the horror. We are able to care about these characters more. Another major change this movie had is the enemy. They decided to create a new book and a new demonic entity to haunt and hunt the characters. I do like how the book lays it all out for the people, it gives a reason to keep reading the book to keep it a part of the plot of the movie. It helps the flesh out the lore of this story and this demon. The entity, or the taker of souls as it’s called in this movie, is an interesting baddie. It has more agency and motivation than just having the characters join them. The soul taker also has  more of a voice in the movie and has less weird moments. I find it interesting that this enemy has to physically enter someone to possess them in some way. Mia through that woods scene, Olivia through the vomit, Natalie through the bite and Eric probably as a last resort. I also like the changes to the way the possessed act in this movie in comparison to the way they do in earlier evil dead movies. They’re strong, but not as resilient and only possess a person at a time. 

The characters in this movie are all great in their own ways. They all have great motivations for being there and for acting the way they do in this movie. Mia is a pretty stand out character in this. She has gone through a lot in her life and goes through some major changes through this movie. Her story makes me feel like they used this experience as a way to have a metaphor for the struggle for sobriety. Her possession can be seen as the addicted side of her, and her becoming better in the end can be seen as her overcoming those urges. To be fair though the movie does kind of spell this out with her withdrawals coming right before her possession. Jane Levy is incredible as Mia, playing all sides to her amazingly. It helps that she probably gets the most to do in this movie in terms of acting since she also gets to play being possessed which was probably pretty fun to do. Her brother David is also a good character. He is someone who avoids the bad stuff, tends to run away and feels a lot of guilt for being that way. He wants to make right with his sister, to help her even though he hasn’t been there for years. He goes through the biggest character arc in the movie, growing to no longer taking the easy way. Learning to be there for the people that need it. Shiloh Fernandez is great in the role, carrying the weight of the guilt that the character feels. Olivia is an ok character, she kinda gets the short end of the stick as she’s not around for as long as the other characters. She’s a nurse trying to help her friend out of her situation, and is tired of constantly trying and her almost permanently dying from a previous attempt. Jessica Luca does pretty well for what she is given, though she doesn’t get to do a lot of the cool stuff the others get to do. Natalie is another ok character, she also doesn’t get to do much but does get some early stuff. Elizabeth Blackmore is also great in the role, helps she gets to do some of the more gnarly stuff in the movie. Finally we have the guy who started it all, Eric. He’s an interesting character, but also one of the more infuriating ones. He’s the one who read from the book with warnings on all the pages. In modern horror movie terms he would be the prick character. He’s the  closest to being a human antagonist and waits until like 2 people, including his girlfriend, have been affected to say anything. This movie kinda feels like its doing karma to him for being too curious for his own right. A lot of the bad stuff happens to him, and he probably suffers some of the most before he goes. Also Its funny how he started it and he was the one to fulfill it at the end. Lou Taylor Pucci is great in the role as well, though you can tell he probably had an uncomfortable time on set with all the stuff the character goes through.

This movie looks amazing, the cinematography and lighting all look great. The effects are all incredible. Much higher budget means more gnarly and graphic gore. Some real intense and crazy moments that make you wince a bit. Very well done and very brutal stuff. The final battle is a stand-out with some brutal and great effects, the blood rain is great and the effect of the demon sinking into the ground back to hell is great as well. The music is ok, pretty standard for a modern horror movie and I do enjoy the bigger moments of the score. The editing and pacing are well done and fit the speed of the movie. The set and props all look great and the Naturom Demonto, the new book of the dead, looks great as well. 

I do have a few issues with the film though. The bigger budget makes everything look great, but it makes it feel kinda generic. Its a good movie but the bigger problem with it is that it feels like a modern horror movie. In everything like tropes, the use of jump scares and everything. It doesn’t feel as unique or interesting as the original movies. The jump scares can be seen coming a mile away, the possessed feel more like traditional movie possessions and kind of take the movie down for me. The possessed feel like they can be from any possession movie, and don’t have that unique mental messing that the other movies have. They play more on the direct emotional connections of the characters and say stuff you can hear in other possession movies. The entity is a more traditional demon from hell and doesn’t have the strength o the mandarin demon of the other movies. Sure it makes it more real and emotional, but loses the charm of the other movies.

Over-all though this is a great movie. A worthy remake with some in tense gore. If you like modern horror this is right up your ally. I give it Two-Thumbs up!!!

Evil Dead is now finished in movie form for me, I guess I might as well rank where I see them. I do feel like this is the perfect franchise for this time of year as every movie has something for everyone. The good thing about the nature of the movies almost being mini-reboots between them all you don’t have to watch them all to get it. The Evil Dead is great for people who love classic horror and a little over-the-topness in their movies. Evil Dead II is great for people that want more comedy with their horror, and love more over-the-top style gore in their movies. Army of Darkness is great for people who want something not scary, that’s a bit more family friendly, and has more comedy in it. Evil Dead (2013) is great for people that love more modern intense horror with brutal gore. It is hard to rank these movies as they all have their merits and would be better to rank them by category. But if I have to rank them by what I liked more, than I’ll have to go like this. 

  1. Evil Dead II
  2. Army of Darkness
  3. The Evil Dead
  4. Evil Dead (2013)

Why these rankings, to me these are the rankings that I had the most fun with and that probably have the most rewatchability. Evil Dead II is a movie I want to rewatch with moments I want to rewatch and find it would be a great watch with friends. Army of Darkness is a ton of fun and has some great slapstick moments that never fail to make me laugh. The Evil Dead is a classic and is well worth a watch, but I don’t know if I’d rewatch it all or just skip to when the action happens. Evil Dead (2013) I don’t know if I have as much of a desire to rewatch, other than just maybe the finale. Over-all this is a great franchise that is well worth its legendary status.

Nosferatu (1922) Review 

Today we move on from the Evil Dead franchise and into a piece of not only horror history, but also the history of film itself. Today I decided to watch Nosferatu, one of the oldest horror movies out there and also one of the most iconic horror movies of all time. Nosferatu is a German Expressionist horror film directed by F.W. Murnau, and stars Max Schrek as Count Orlock. Nosferatu is an unlicensed adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. The filmmakers did change a few aspect of the film to avoid copyright issues as they didn’t have the rights to the novel. Some changed aspects are the names, the look of the titular vampire, his abilities, the setting, and the ending. The changes help set it a lot apart from the base material, as well as to keep it shorter to keep it within limitations of the time. The characters work for the movie and are effective in their roles. Performance wise we can’t judge the film from our modern views and understandings of acting. This is a silent movie from the 1920s, which means they were under a lot of limitations in the way they can communicate everything to the audience. Due to that, the acting is more like stage acting, in that they have to play the motions and emotions a lot bigger than modern film actors, or even sound actors from the next decade would. The one that does stand out though is Schrek as Count Orlock. He’s pretty understated and creepy in the role. This is an example where being a silent black&white film really helps the feeling of the film. Everything of it comes together to help create this sense of despair and creepiness that is terrifying in its own way. The use of him rising out of the coffin, or the stares he gives, or the use of shadows to show his affect on a person works incredibly to the tone of the film. Its also those moments where the expressionism of the film comes into play for me. Being that it’s a silent film we can’t really talk about the dialogue as they can only really be really important moments because they have to use it in title cards. There’s only a certain amount of title cards you can use before affecting the flow of the film. Especially when you have to balance the dialogue cards with the act cards and the narrator/journal cards that show up. Although those  can also be because of the issues with the nature of the age of the film. Its a silent film that is now 100 years old there was  a point in time where it was lost, and has lost parts of it. It’s been remastered and re-edited with new titles and new music, but it still has an effect on the film since it’s not the original stuff from the film. Over the years there have been a number of restorations of the film, each with different tinting, titles and music. The version I watched is, or was, it is supposedly leaving Shudder’s Prime Video channel on the 31st, from 2006. With the film now being in the public domain (even though it’s always kind of been treated that way) there’s probably going to be a lot more ways to watch it. Though those versions might also be copyrighted. I’m not actually sure though, as would a restoration be counted like a recording of a piece of music in the public domain. I’ll have to look into that. The music chosen for this version is ok, fits a lot of the scenes but can take you out a bit. Though that is an issue I’ve had with some other silent films having a score that doesn’t fit. The changes don’t exactly ruin it for me anyways, it’s just a thing you have to accept with watching these films.  Another thing you have to accept, is that these are not films that you can put on in the background. You have to pay attention and watch it to understand and get the full experience. Over-all this is a historically important film that is still worth watching. Whether for the historical aspect  of seeing life from 100 years ago, it’s impact on film history, or even because you just like watching silent movies. Its the origin of a lot of iconic and legendary imagery and it’s important to see the origin. Although it’s an ask to get people to watch it outside of a film studies context. Still though, I give it two-thumbs up !!

Army of Darkness (1992) Review

So I just finished Army of Darkness, the third and final movie of the original Evil Dead Trilogy. Army of Darkness is an American comedy horror directed and written by Sam Raimi, and stars Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams, Embeth Davidtz as Shelia, Marcus Gilbert as Lord Arthur, and Ian Abercrombie as The Wiseman. Army of Darkness sees Ash being sent back in time to the 1300s, a time when deadites are more rampant in the world. We follow his journey as he retrieves the necronomicon, becomes the figure of legend, and returns home……… after a lot of shenanigans. I have to say I really enjoyed this movie. Its a major departure from the rest of the franchise, but it still works as a part of it. The story and plot line of the movie is good for the type of movie it is. It works for the genre and the changes made to the Ash character. It build off of the last movie by giving the characters more agency in their actions. As this time Ash has to go to the book and retrieve it, the characters make more decisions throughout more of the movie and have more active roles. A lot of this movie works to show how Ash has changed over the, (….centuries, week?) I guess, week that the events of these movies happen in. 

I might as well talk about him already but Ash is great in this movie. He’s changed a lot and because of the stuff he’s much more of an asshole. I mean he’s tired and pissed off about everything that’s happened to him and is happening to him. This is also the first time we get to learn more about Ash’s history in the franchise. It establishes that he has a job and is I guess recently out of school. We also get to see more of his ingenuity from the second movie, although now he’s an expert mechanical engineer being able to make a fully functioning prosthetic hand in the 1300s. This is the movie that would go on to define the character’s personality going forward in the franchise. He’s a prick, he has a ton of memorable lines, and he’s a bit of a smart moron. His characterization is a big departure from the prior movies, like the rest of this movie. Performance wise Bruce Campbell is having a ball. He’s supremely confident, and gets to play a bunch of different versions of himself again. Funny to think about how this movie would also go on to define Bruce Campbell’s career and persona going forward. This is also the first time we see the character go on an emotional arc. He starts off the movie selfish and just wanting to get back home after all the shit, and throughout the run time we see him go through more shit, but come around to be the hero he’s destined to be. The character has developed a lot in the time we’ve been following him. From meek and timid in the first movie, to a full on action badass. This movie is the first time we get an actual villain, at least a characterized villain with Evil Ash. He’s a fun character that is as wild and wacky as the rest of the movie. Though I guess that can be considered one of the downfalls of the movie. The deadites in this movie are a lot more wacky in their characterization. I mean the army of the dead are like battledroids from star wars. They all have different personalities and are useful in the numbers they have. I do enjoy them though. The rest of the characters and performances are all effective and work in the wacky and over-the-top world of this movie.

While this movie is incredibly different than the first two, where it stands out is in production value. This movie has a much bigger budget and the movie makes great use out of it. Taking a page out of classic action and adventure movies, it makes use of stop-motion, puppets, a big castle set, lots of extras, and a classic army of skeletons. It also makes use of professional stunts and choerographers. A lot of use of fire and explosions which is fun. The skeleton puppets are hilarious and you can tell they had fun with them. We also get more of Sam Raimi’s interesting camera work and ideas for how the deadites mess with Ash. The deadite make-up and costumes have also changed a lot to resemble over-the-top demons, vs the changed facial features of the first 2 movies. Everything comes together to create this cartoonish atmosphere which really works for me. That’s actually a good way to describe this movie. It’s a live-action cartoon. We get over-the-top action, we get funny skeleton army, we get a massive battle sequence. Everything comes together to create this fun experience. The music is great again, fitting the kind of movie this is. The comedy also really works for me. I love the physical slapstick comedy that this movie decides to focus on. Like just everything at the windmill is hilarious, and the skeletons are funny. Oh I almost forgot about the skeleton scene when Ash is fleeing the cemetery. It’s a full on 3 stooges sketch and it just works so well for me. 

Over-all I had a ton of fun with this one. It’s very different from the rest of the franchise, being more slapstick and comedic than the second one. It has very little horror elements in the movie. To me this wouldn’t be a comedy horror, it’s more of an action/adventure comedy with horror elements in it. It still makes for a great experience though. It’s the perfect movie for this time of year. It just fits the halloween spirit for me. I mean it has some spookiness, skeletons, fun, funny, and mostly family friendly. If you haven’t watched it yet I highly recommend it. Just don’t go into it expecting anything like the other 2 movies in this trilogy. Two Thumbs Up !!

Evil Dead II (1987) Review

So I’ve finally watched Evil Dead II and holy fuck, what a movie. Sorry, I’m still collecting my thoughts after finishing that movie, it’s such a ride. Evil Dead II is a 1987 horror comedy written and directed by Sam Raimi, and stars a returning Bruce Campbell as Ashley J Williams, Sarah Berry as Annie Knobby, Dan Hicks as Jake, Kassie Wesley DePaiva as Bobby Joe, Ted Raimi as Possessed Henrietta, and Denise Bixler. This movie is a reboot/retcon of the first movie, due to movie rights issues from the original movie. Evil Dead II catches us up with Ash after the “first” movie where he is continuing to be assaulted and tortured by the demons, now named deadites. We are also introduced to a new group of characters lead by the daughter of the archeologist who owned and lived in the cabin. Shit hits the fan when Ash meets the new group and the deadites come to play. 

The plot line of this movie worked for me. It tries to keep some similarities with the first movie, but it also works to set up things that will be used down the line in the franchise. It works to set up more of the lore and mythology of the deadites, while directly leading to its sequel. The one thing about the story and plot line is that it takes a little long to get going with the full group, and spends a lot of time in the first act showing Ash being tortured. I get why they did it this way, as it allows us to see more of what Ash is going through since a lot of the first movie was retconned in the opening recap. That’s one thing I would change about this, is that I would add more to the recap about the rest of the friend group from the first movie vs just having linda. To me it helped to show Ash’s determination and toughness that he’s still going strong, even after losing his girlfriend, sister and his friends. I guess it helps to view this as a different timeline version of events as a lot is different between the movies. 

This movie is a pretty big departure from the first movie, the first one was more serious in tone and in the things that happen. Whereas here the movie is more comical, especially in the scenes where the deadites are messing with Ash. The comedy doesn’t  take a way from the movie for me, it adds to it’s charm and works with the over-the-top nature they’re going for with this movie. The movie also has a much bigger budget than the first one does, and it uses it well. The sets, the effects, the blood all of it is at another level compared to the first. This one also has more thought behind it as well as you can tell they know where they want to go with it in the future. This was a movie made with a sequel in mind, but even if it didn’t get a sequel there’s enough established here to be a satisfying conclusion to the story. Whereas with the first movie, other than the ending scare, it feels like a complete story with the book being destroyed and the deadites defeated. 

Another big difference between are the characters and performances. Bruce Campbell goes full balls to the wall with his Performance as Ash. He has a lot more to work with in this movie since he basically gets to play 4 versions of Ash. He gets to be normal, losing his mind crazy, possessed hand, and full possession. I think it comes through how much fun he had on this movie. He’s a lot more experienced and confident this time around, he doesn’t have a timid voice anymore and gets to be more badass and heroic. This also comes through in his characterization, he’s more of a ladies man, he cracks one-liners, more no-nonsense after his experiences the cabin, and seems like a more traditional action hero. This version of Ash also makes great use of Bruce Campbell’s physical comedic talents and timing. I know he roughed up in the first movie, but the bigger budget allowed for likely better safety protocols to rough him up again. He takes a beating in the first half of this movie. 

The rest of the characters are pretty  good and interesting. Probably the best new character is Annie, as she has the most to do outside of Ash. She is the most related to the story and plot of the movie. Her performance is great as well. Everyone else does a great job with what they’re given. Its interesting though how many characters in this movie are done in because of people’s choices vs the first movie. Though I like the dynamic of the group more in the first one than I do here. Where this group shines is that the actors feel more experienced, or at least are given better direction when compared to the first movie. Which makes sense though as he had more experience by this point, as well as working with more experienced producers. 

Everything technical about this movie is incredible. It’s visually stunning and interesting and makes great use of all kinds of special effect tricks. The gore is more over-the-top and surreal, and not as gritty as the first movie. It’s not as brutal as the first movie as well, but makes up for it in just the sheer amount of blood that is sprayed in this movie. The music is great as well, just as good as the first one. One thing that’s not really technical is that this movie uses a lot more jumpscares than the first movie did. It’s not a knock against the movie as I feel like they’re used to help balance out the more comedic elements and moments. 

Over-all Evil Dead II is an incredible movie. Filled with scares, gore, fun, and some incredible one-liners. For those that haven’t watched it yet it is well worth the watch. Two-Thumbs up for me !!

The Evil Dead (1981) Review

So I’ve finally watched The Evil Dead for Halloween Week. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m going to (try to at least) watch and review a horror or horror-adjacent movie every day leading up to Halloween next monday. I don’t have a planned list of movies, jut going off of feel. Though I guess I’ll be doing the rest of the original Evil Dead trilogy this week at least. The Evil Dead is a 1981 horror movie written and directed by Sam Raimi, and stars Bruce Campbell as a Ashley J Williams, Ellen Sandweiss as Cheryl, Richard DeManincor as Scott, Betsy Baker as Linda, and Theresa Tilly as  Shelly. For those that don’t know, The Evil Dead is the story of a group of friends going to a cabin in the woods for a vacation. While there they discover a basement with an ancient evil book and a tape recording of the archeologist that was studying it. They unleash all kinds of evil and chaos upon the playing of that tape, possibly even of apocalyptic proportions. At least if you bring the rest of the franchise into it. It may be a simple set-up, but its one of the originators, at least from my knowledge. I think it works in the movie’s favour though, as the movie is able to put more focus on the characters as well as the demons. It allows for the more creative elements of the movie to come out. 

The characters for the most part are also pretty simple and fit into certain archetypes. Ash is a stand-out character in this movie, even though he’s not the over-the-top character of the later movies. Though you can see the origins of a lot of that eventually characterization with the things he goes through and does in this movie. He really fits the “final girl” archetype here, he’s more quiet and respectful vs his more prickish friend Scott. The other characters all work in their roles, and work well when possessed. The performances are okay, which is good considering the experience level of the actors at this point in time. You can tell they had fun when in the possessed mode. You can see their development throughout the run time of the movie, and Bruce Campbell is the best showing of this for me. He starts off unsure and uneasy of himself, but by the end he’s grown a lot and seems more confident in his reactions to everything happening around him. 

This movie is very low budget. There are points in time where (at least where I was watching it) the camera is either out of focus or the film wasn’t great so it looks a little strange. Other than that the budget really does end up adding to the movie, helping to create that sense of dread and uneasiness that is around throughout the movie. It also made the filmmakers get really creative with it, as the movie makes use of interesting camera shots and techniques that Sam Raimi would continue to use throughout his career. Probably the most famous and interesting one is the POV of the demonic force which helps give the feeling that it is ever present. You can especially see the creativity in the latter half of the movie when it goes balls to the wall and the demons are everywhere in the house. The camera work and cinematography also help with the atmosphere of the movie, letting you know from the beginning that something is off and wrong. 

The horror elements all work for me, they’re effective at giving scares as well as establishing the character and power of these demons. They really love messing with people before outright trying to kill them. The gore and effects are amazing, they all look great which is astounding considering that everything was basically done by kids out of college. It helps that the biggest stuff was saved for the later parts of the movie. A stand-out is the final sequence of the demons possessing Cheryl and Scott dying. That was insane with the mix of stop-motion effects, the blood and what i guess are miniatures for the hands that come out of the torsos are just incredible. The music as well is great, helps build the tension and is very memorable. The end credits music does make me laugh as its up beat after all this horror. 

Over-all this was an incredible movie. One of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen (although that’s not saying much as I haven’t seen a lot), an incredible ride that justifies its legendary status. Well worth a watch or rewatch if you haven’t seen it or haven’t seen it in a while. Two Thumbs Up !

PG: Psycho Goreman (2020) Review

It took me long enough but I’ve finally watched PG: Psycho Goreman to celebrate the beginning of Halloween week. Wow I really enjoyed this movie. For those that don’t know PG: Psycho Goreman is a Canadian science fiction horror fantasy comedy directed by Steven Kostanski. It stars Nita-Josée Hanna as Mimi, Owen Myre as Luke, Adam Brooks as Greg, Alexis Kara Hancey as Susan, and Matthew Ninaber & Steven Vlahos as the titular Psycho Goreman (Ninaber in the suit and Vlahos as the voice). Psycho Goreman tells the story of Mimi and Luke, a pair of siblings with wild personalities (in the case of Mimi), that unwittingly discover the prison of an unknowingly ancient and insanely powerful demonic alien warlord known to his allies and enemies as the Archduke of Nightmares. Shenanigans ensue as the kids teach PG the power of love. Brutal, bloody, violent love. I gotta say this movie plays right into my proclivities when it comes to B-movie schlock. It’s fun, bloody, but with a heart to it that brings it together. It definitely feels like an over the top 80s nostalgia movie with the family relationships and interactions, but it does it all in good fun. The family are fun, very pop culture inspired with how the kids can go wherever without parent’s questioning, how used they get to the situation and the things they are seeing. The kids are stand out characters, Mimi being the aggressive one in control and Luke being the calmer one that over-time loses his cool with the abuse his sister dishes out to him. They do feel like kids though coming up with crazy games to bide their time. The parents are ok, pretty typical for this type of movie. The aliens are all fun characters and have cool designs. Kostanski is able to build a surprisingly deep and rich universe of aliens and monsters of different designs and abilities that all somehow work together. It adds to the heart and feel of the movie, you can feel the fun they had and the passion they had come out through the screen. You can tell the movie is low budget, but that adds to it’s appeal. Even though it is it still looks great. The suits are all creative and cool, the effects all look great, and the gore is over the top and incredible. It all blends together to create this incredible mix of gore, toku, and fun that I just love. The music is great as well, having a memorable score with a big feel to it, and the original songs are fun. I know this is a short review but I just had a blast with the movie. Its fun, it doesn’t take it self seriously and its awesomely brutal. I mean there’s a kid that gets turned into a waddling brain with tentacles and it just continues on as if it’s completely normal now. Even his parents are just used to it. It’s well worth the watch if you’re into this kind of movie. Where else are you going to find a movie where you’re happy to see the main character go on to destroy the universe. Two-Thumbs up!!