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A solid concept hindered by terrible execution.
Knowing nothing about PERNICIOUS I went in, kept my expectations low and maintained an open mind. The opening scene managed to draw my interest however it quickly dwindled because of an intro that was way too long. And that's the problem with this film. Many pointless scenes involving long conversations which are repetitive and do nothing to push the main plot forward. Very much like the torture scene that takes place early on. A scene that could've been kept short and to the point is stretch out and just plain boring and repetitive.
The three leads being teachers who go to Thailand to do volunteer work could've been an interesting trio but are rendered as the usual horror movie stereotypes. It's also a wonder that these three ladies are teachers since one of them struggles to describe what a life size golden statue of a little girl looks like.
On the plus side the film features good cinematography and a mildly creepy atmosphere. As well as a definite sense of foreboding in the final act. Unfortunately the film contains too many scenes stretched out unnecessarily that do little to push the main plot forward.
Carnival of Souls (1998)
A very highly misunderstood film.
Of course I know it doesn't come close to the original film. I saw it years ago and didn't think much of it. Then a few years later I bought it on DVD as part of a set along with LEPRECHAUN and two of David Cronenberg's movies RABID and SHIVERS. When I revisited CARNIVAL OF SOULS the plot made a little more sense. But when I read the reviews on it's IMDb web page I noticed that this film was somewhat misunderstood.
1. Like in the beginning of the film where Alex (Bobbie Phillips) drives her car into the ocean with Louis (Larry Miller) the man responsible for her mother's murder in the backseat. Right after this scene the film cuts to Alex waking up in her bathtub. Many seemed to have assumed she dreamed about the crash but that is not the case. When the film cuts to this scene it actually goes back a few days meaning Alex didn't dream about the crash it happened a few days later.
2. There is another scene where Alex goes to see a psychiatrist and she talks to him like they've had several sessions together. But the psychiatrist reveals that he has never met Alex before. This is representative of the reality setting in of what really happened after that crash that took place which would lead us to the final revelation or the big twist ending. Of course at one point Alex is shown climbing out of the ocean and on to the pier she drove off where she sees the abandoned carnival grounds. In fact this is really Alex's soul climbing out of the water and on to the pier. The whole part between the crash and the twist at the end is really what we think is reality that slowly turns into what is actual reality.
This is how I understand or interpreted it. CARNIVAL OF SOULS is really a thinking man's horror movie. You have to pay close attention to certain parts of the dialog to grasp what certain phrases actually refer to. Many plot elements are not presented in a very straightforward manner so it requires a long attention to figure out the plot.
Overall, it's not the worst film I've endured. I also agree that the original is way better. But since this film strayed from the original I didn't really try to make comparisons.
There is also an unofficial German remake entitled YELLA which is also better. and had it been an official remake it would be considered the more faithful of the two.
Southland Tales (2006)
Dwayne Johnson's worst film by far.
Never let it be said that Dwayne Johnson never appeared in a crap movie, when in fact he did. SOUTHLAND TALES has to be one of the worst films I've ever seen him in and not just him. There's a whole list of familiar faces with likes of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sean William Scott, Justin Timberlake, Jon Lovitz and many more.
You would think you'd have the makings of a fun film but instead it's a complete mess of a movie, and the actors are either underused or cast in lousy parts. I mean if the extent of an excellent actor's role in the film is to drive a van and smoke a cigarette as is really the case with Christopher Lambert, then your film really does suck.
Although Dwayne Johnson's output of films has ranged from excellent to decent to okay, this one is a turkey not worth recommending.
Brick Mansions (2014)
A decent and highly entertaining action flick on it's own.
If not compared to the original french movie DISTRICT 13, BRICK MANSIONS is a decent and highly entertaining action flick on it's own. If compared to DISTRICT B13 it's not as good but not as bad as people have been saying.
This version's biggest problem mainly resides in it's casting. Paul Walker as Damien is actually okay, his only drawback is he doesn't exactly pull off the kind of moves Cyril Raffaelli does in his fight scenes. Which is something I don't consider one of the films major issues. In the case of the lead bad guy I'm pretty sure they could've found someone better than RZA to play the role. The problem with RZA is that he always looks like he's sleepwalks through every role I saw him play from the one in THE MAN WITH THE IRON FIST to G.I JOE RETALIATION, and he sometimes sounds like he doesn't speak properly as if he always has a cold.
All in all, aside from the flaws BRICK MANSIONS is a decent action flick if not compared to the original french film. Although in all honesty I do prefer DISTRICT B13 as well as it's sequel.
A kind of MAD MAX meets BLOODSPORT featuring a great villain played by the late James Hellwig.
After hearing about James Hellwig's (a.k.a THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR) untimely death, I kept thinking about it not believing he was actually gone. But while going through my DVD collection I spotted this film and suddenly it hits me. James Hellwig played the villain in this movie and he was awesome. I remember when I first saw this film in the early nineties, the scene where Hellwig steps into the death ring to face Gary Daniels, I was so afraid for Daniels's character that I just kept saying, "please let him get out of there alive." That's how scary Hellwig's portrayal of The Swordsman was to me.
The film itself is actually very entertaining and a bit fun. I kind of thought of it as a MAD MAX meets BLOODSPORT type of film. The two lead characters played by Chad McQueen (the son of Steve McQueen) and Gary Daniels are quite likable and do grow on you after a short while. The film's only less impressive sequences are the two car chase scenes, but the majority of the film mainly consist of a reasonable number of fight sequences all well choreographed and directed.
As far as recommending it goes, I'm not entirely sure what audiences today might think about it, although if someone is curious enough to see it then I would strongly recommend it. As well if the person happens to be an early nineties "B" movie enthusiast.
The Expendables 3 (2014)
Superior action film, hurt by many flaws.
The action star studded dream team are back for another outing. Yes, I had a blast watching this film, I thought it was extremely fun and Antonio Banderas was hilarious, but there are things that could have been done better and certain flaws that could've been avoided.
1. Like the choppy editing, I understand Stallone wanted the film to have a PG-13 rating in order to draw a broader audience, but that only resulted in the film looking amateurish at times and like it was rapidly jumping from scene to scene for no real reason. Plus, having made this film PG-13 doesn't make sense, it being a third installment it would've made more sense if Stallone wanted to draw a bigger audience to make the other two PG-13 as well.
2. Stallone could've picked a way better set of actors in the roles of the kids, neither of the four made any kind of impression. They brought nothing to their characters. The film would've succeeded in getting it's audience if Stallone rewrote the characters and had picked actors who were already familiar with action roles, like Scarlet Johanssen, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, etc.
Overall, the film as is is still loads of fun, despite the kids not making a notable impression and Jet Li not having a fight scene. Fans of the previous two can certainly check it out.
The Girl from the Naked Eye (2012)
Interesting little indie film noir.
THE GIRL FROM THE NAKED EYE is an interesting little indie film noir yet when it got started I almost turned it off. Mainly because at first glance it looked like the kind of low budget movie I usually have a bad experience with but I did give it a chance. Luckily the film managed to redeem itself by featuring some good acting all around and a plot that was interesting enough to hold my attention.
It also had some fight sequences that I didn't expect yet they didn't feature anything spectacular but they were engaging and well done.
The acting is above par for this type of film but the actress who steals the show is Samantha Streets in one scene where she recites a poem. Leading man Jason Yee also does very well although sometimes he slightly appears as if he's trying a little too hard.
Overall, when the film finished I was glad I didn't turn it off as I almost did. It turned out to be a good film in the end and I would recommend it. Although I do believe it might be for an acquired taste as it does have a somewhat unusual style.
Non ho sonno (2001)
Solid thriller gaillo from Dario Argento.
I'm still sort of new to Argento's films but I found this film of his to be one very solid effort. The first half has this very unusual tone and atmosphere that makes you feel both uncomfortable and creeped out at the same time. The death scenes in my opinion are more tense here than in some of his older films.
The acting is very good although the occasional dubbed voice causes some actors to look like their facial expressions almost don't match their voices.
One outstanding feature is the cinematography. The camera constantly moves around and many of the settings are lit up just right enough to create it's atmosphere.
Overall, it's a very well made and solid gaillo from Argento and is well worth the effort even for fans of the genre and not necessarily Argento.
The Shrine (2010)
The kind of horror movie that could catch you off guard.
THE SHRINE is one of three films I put in a category along with THE PACT and THE CONJURING of horror films that could catch you off guard. The reason why I say so is because everyone is used to the everyday bad horror movies Hollywood pushes out. While THE SHRINE which is a lesser known little gem is one of the more very effective horror movies in recent years along with the two aforementioned.
The acting is exceptionally better than average, the characters do share a few stereotypical traits but sometimes they manage to actually react with a degree of common sense.
The plot itself is an interesting one, most of which is told in subtext shown by the fact that there are no subtitles when the polish characters all speak polish as if treating the none polish speaking viewer as an outsider like the main characters who are from the states.
Overall, THE SHRINE along with THE PACT and THE CONJURING are three of the better horror films I've seen recently and THE SHRINE being the lesser known title among them certainly holds it's ground very well.
K-20: Kaijin nijû mensô den (2008)
A fun and enjoyable superhero movie from Japan.
I bought K-20 without knowing it was a Japanese movie but it didn't keep me from watching it since I already own a few Japanese movies. However this film turned out to be very fun and enjoyable with well done special effects, awesome stunt work and a plot that manages to hold your interest from start to finish.
Although the film does feel a tad long sometimes it's still a fun watch. The characters are all likable and do eventually grow on you thus encouraging you to watch on.
Overall, it's a fun and enjoyable superhero movie from Japan highly recommended if your are a fan of Japanese films.