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Birthdate: September 25
I bid you...velcome.
I'm a shameless movie fanatic who especially favours the following genres:
Favourite directors include:
George A. Romero
The Prophecy II (1998)
Slight and forgettable, but still entertaining for Walken fans.
So-so sequel to the original religion-themed horror film sees Christopher Walken return as the archangel Gabriel, who despises the human race more than ever. He leads one faction of angels that have turned against God, bitter over the love that He showed to mankind. The other faction of angels seek to stop Gabriel and his kind. The main story point of this sequel is that Gabriel is in pursuit of an innocent woman, Valerie Rosales (Jennifer Beals), because she has been impregnated by good guy angel Danyael (Russell Wong).
"The Prophecy II" feels pretty routine overall, although its theme of angels battling each other is an interesting one. It leans heavily on humour, with Walken obviously encouraged to be at his quirkiest and most Walken-esque. For one thing, Gabriel's no good with modern technology, so he keeps resurrecting a suicidal girl (sad eyed Brittany Murphy) so she can do such things as computer searches. It's got some very fun gore and visuals, but it's not until near the end when it really picks up. It also casts Eric Roberts, rock icon Glenn Danzig, and William Prael as assorted angels. Steve Hytner ("That's gold, Jerry, gold!") briefly reprises his role as Joseph, and Bruce Abbott of "Re- Animator" fame has limited screen time as he inherits the role of ex-cop Thomas Daggett from Elias Koteas, who played that role in the first film. Look also for Tom Towles and Kathryn Morris in small roles. The handsome Wong is sincere but bland; Beals is a reasonably appealing heroine.
The hook of a "Nephilim" (a half human / half angel offspring) helps to keep this watchable, for a fairly painless, short running time of just over 83 minutes.
One of only two directorial efforts for Greg Spence (most recently, a producer on 'Game of Thrones'), the other being "Children of the Corn: The Gathering".
Six out of 10.
Beneath Loch Ness (2001)
I'm a monster movie fanatic, but even so, I can tolerate only so much badness.
This modern, CGI-heavy creature feature is a waterlogged disappointment. The story has a research team investigating Loch Ness, so it's only natural that in this case "Nessie" turns out to be an all-too-real giant animal. When a paleontologist on the project is killed off, his protégé (Brian Wimmer, 'China Beach') reluctantly comes on board. This research team will have their hands full doing the things you'd expect them to have to do, like warning idiots away from the water, and dealing with a thick headed constable (Vernon Wells, "Commando").
The price we pay for the mega-success of "Jaws" can sometimes be a heavy one. Uninspired pictures are often the result. You'd think the filmmakers could have capitalized more on the premise and atmosphere, but they tend to miss the horror in the premise most of the time. "Beneath Loch Ness" is lacking in suspense, and features some pretty inane, uninteresting characters, not to mention bad dialogue. The CGI is actually not that unbearable, but this is due to the fact that our predatory monster remains underwater most of the time, and we usually just see quick flashes of it.
What's more, the movie takes a few generally good actors and makes a waste of them. You can't help but feel embarrassed for Patrick Bergin ("Sleeping with the Enemy"), cast as an unhinged, Captain Ahab-like local obsessed with vengeance. The lovely Lysette Anthony ("Krull") fares no better as a producer. Wells is usually fun to watch, but he's playing a caricatured role here (and one that's never really paid off, to boot). Robert Foxworth ("Damien: Omen II") appears unbilled as a network boss.
Apparently, some filming was done in Scotland, but it's all too apparent that this was primarily shot in the U.S., with far too many unconvincing Scottish accents.
Four out of 10.
Dracula II: Ascension (2003)
Not very good, but not without its little amusements.
This sequel to "Dracula 2000" follows a new bunch of characters as Draculas' charred corpse is brought into a morgue. Medical students Elizabeth (Diane Neal) and Luke (Jason London) are fascinated because they realize that this thing on the slab was an honest-to-God vampire. They're also quick to jump on a strangers' offer of $30 million for the body, so they sneak it out of there, and with two others in tow, take it to an isolated location to do all sorts of experiments. Dracula is naturally brought back to "life", and is now played by Stephen Billington. In search of the famed blood sucker is a vampire hunter named Uffizi (Jason Scott Lee), who's been sent by the Vatican.
This whole story is patently absurd, hinging on the absolute stupidity of our protagonists (also including Craig Sheffer as a wheelchair bound professor). You end up rooting for Dracula to snuff them all out. Add to that some highly variable acting. Some performances are passable, some just plain terrible. Veteran actor Roy Scheider is wasted in a very brief cameo as the Cardinal. Lees' performance is actually pretty good, and it deserves to be in a better movie. Some people may find it interesting to check out the early performance by the extremely prolific voice over artist Khary Payton, who more recently has been playing Ezekiel on 'The Walking Dead'.
Some things in the movies' favour are a decent forward pace, a sufficient amount of gore, amusing effects (such as a face munched off), and impressive widescreen photography.
The script by Joel Soisson and director Patrick Lussier comes complete with some twists near the end. The "conclusion" is obviously merely serving to set up the next sequel.
Five out of 10.
A Spanish vampire in London.
This alternate 1931 Spanish language version of the familiar Transylvanians' story was shot throughout the night, using the same Universal sets that the American production utilized during the day. Some buffs consider it superior, at least in a technical sense, but for this viewer, it was at least comparable to the Lugosi classic. Not really scary, per se, but atmospheric, literate, and fun.
The Count, played with a rather goofy charm by Carlos Villarias, comes to London to rent Carfax Abbey, and works his spell on local beauties such as Eva (Lupita Tovar) and Lucia (Carmen Guerrero). Those brave souls willing to fight him are asylum administrator Dr. Seward (Jose Soriano Viosca), Evas' handsome suitor "Juan" Harker (Barry Norton), and the determined, knowledgeable vampire hunter Van Helsing (Eduardo Arozamena).
Running approximately a half hour longer than the Lugosi / Tod Browning version, this is admittedly rather plodding, and thus not to all horror fans' tastes. For a while, it consists of more talk than action. But the characters, and performances, are entertaining, with Arozamena frequently mugging for the camera, Villarias keeping that silly smile on his face, and the majority of the cast playing it quite straight. Pablo Alvarez Rubio is wonderful as the nutty, bug munching Renfield; Dwight Frye may be more iconic in the role, but Rubios' performance is no less amusing. Some people will appreciate the attire of the ladies in this version, which is decidedly sexier.
An effectively roving camera operated by George Robinson is certainly an asset, with credited director George Melford and company making full use out of the existing sets.
Two years later, leading lady Tovar (who only recently passed away, at the impressive age of 106) married associate producer Paul Kohner.
Seven out of 10.
Children of the Damned (1964)
Provocative and interesting, if not as eerie as its predecessor.
"Children of the Damned" is a reasonably entertaining follow-up, rather than sequel, to the 1960 classic "Village of the Damned". It explains its core idea, of a collective of aloof, powerful children, as being something *other* than the product of alien insemination. These kids - six in all - are born to mothers around the globe, without the need for conventional procreation. Officials such as Dr. Tom Llewellyn (Ian Hendry) and Dr. David Neville (Alan Badel) bring the children together for study, only for the kids to break free and hole up inside an abandoned building. They bring along a concerned adult (Barbara Ferris), and are able to build something quite remarkable. Soon, it is determined that these children may pose a serious threat to mankind, due to their superior intellect.
Knowing some of the back story, and how this was intended to be a more ambitious examination of mankind and its relationship to its saviours, does give it some substance. Originally, there was a speech by the principal child, Paul (Clive Powell), whereupon he realizes what purpose he and his peers are here to fulfill. With it removed from the picture, the finale just doesn't carry the same weight, although we are still filled with a deep sense of regret. The screenplay by John Briley does a devastating job at showing how differences in thinking and methodology can lessen the chances for education and enlightenment.
Once you get over the fact that this is a different variety of sci-fi, with less accent on horror elements, from "Village of the Damned", this does start to look better. If you compare them too much, this is naturally going to come as a letdown to some folk. It's still somewhat sad and scary, just in a different sort of way.
The acting is solid from the adults - also including Alfred Burke, Sheila Allen, Patrick Wymark, Harold Goldblatt, and Bessie Love - and just right by the blank-faced children. Powell and the others do a capable job of barely showing any emotion, right up until the end.
It's slowly paced, and low key, but it does have its rewards for patient viewers.
Seven out of 10.
Killing Birds: Raptors (1987)
The script is for the birds.
Under developed, underwhelming addition to the Italian "Zombi" horror series tells another self- contained story; you don't need to see previous entries before seeing this one. The tale sees a Vietnam veteran return home to slaughter his loved ones, before the many hawks on their property attack him. Many years later, a bunch of dumb chump college students go in search of an elusive woodpecker species, and come upon this old abode, which is now a house of horrors.
Not much could be done to save this movie, not even a guest star role for 'Man from U.N.C.L.E." star Robert Vaughn, who plays a one-eyed old bird expert. The young cast is definitely attractive but otherwise nondescript. You don't really care for their characters, and don't mind seeing them knocked off. The script by Daniele Stroppa is one of those deals where it's short on sense, and long on nonsense. It doesn't bother giving you a lot of details or exposition, and actually waits until the dying minutes of the movie to pay off Vaughns' character. The plethora of feathered co-stars, however, never does amount to much. Also, while "Killing Birds" does feature zombies, there aren't that many of them. It isn't until around the one hour mark that this even becomes somewhat interesting / entertaining. The gore effects are quite grisly and enjoyable. The music score by Carlo Maria Cordio is also good.
Directing credit goes to Claudio Lattanzi. Joe D'Amato also directed & produced, without credit, and served as cinematographer under a pseudonym.
Five out of 10.
The Mummy's Curse (1944)
Mummy's the word.
A slight improvement over the previous sequel, "The Mummy's Curse" brought some sort of closure to Universals' "Kharis" series of Mummy pictures. It benefits from being more atmospheric and eerie, and having a brighter leading lady than usual. When in doubt, flee the monster!
The story is somewhat ignorant of the end of "The Mummy's Ghost". Kharis and Ananka sank into a New England swamp at the end of that one. Now, Kharis (Lon Chaney, Jr.) has been dug up from a *New Orleans* swamp during an irrigation project. Ananka is now played by Virginia Christine (a beauty), yet houses a dual, modern personality, the alternate being somewhat confused by her predicament. The last in the line of Egyptian high priests determined to unite the two is the nefarious Ilzor Zandaab (Peter Coe). Helped by an associate named Ragheb (Martin Kosleck), he spurs Kharis to do what he does best, and to kill anybody in his way.
Chaney is decent here, getting to be somewhat more expressive. Dennis Moore is the requisite studly hero, Dr. James Halsey. Kurt Katch gets to ham it up as N.O. character Cajun Joe, and Ann Codee is fun as singer / saloon owner Tante Berthe. Lovely Kay Harding is engaging as the niece / employee of ill-tempered boss Pat Walsh (Addison Richards); Richards is an absolute hoot as a born skeptic. And Coe & Kosleck are effective villains. Christine is definitely a standout.
Although not in the same league as the film that began Universals' Mummy franchise, this does offer some fun, and at least concludes things reasonably well.
It does go awfully heavy on the exposition / back story, though, utilizing archive footage from both "The Mummy" (1932) and "The Mummy's Hand".
Seven out of 10.
The Mummy's Ghost (1944)
John Carradine plays an Egyptian high priest named Yousef Bey, commanded by a superior (George Zucco) to travel to America to locate Kharis (Lon Chaney Jr.) and properly lay him to rest. The current reincarnation of Kharis' long ago beloved Ananka is Egyptian born New England gal Amina Mansouri (the incredibly lovely Ramsay Ames), and Kharis will seek to be reunited with her. Aminas' boyfriend Tom Hervey (Robert Lowery) and the cops & local townsfolk end up giving chase.
Although completely lacking in suspense and atmosphere by this point, this series still manages to provide a decent amount of fun. Chaney shambles his way through his role capably, sporting yet another impressive makeup job by talented Jack Pierce. Carradine is terrific as always. Also among the solid supporting cast are Frank Reicher as the doomed Professor Norman, Harry Shannon as the Sheriff, Lester Sharpe as the helpful Doctor Ayad, and the always welcome Barton MacLane as a clever police inspector who tries to come up with an alternative means of dealing with the mummy on the loose. An adorable little dog named "Peanuts" has his moments, as well. Martha Vickers has a bit as a student in Reichers' class.
The story is pretty routine, for the most part, until that unforgettable and haunting ending. Director Reginald Le Borg keeps it moving along adequately, to help it clock in at an appreciably brief running time of 61 minutes.
Six out of 10.
The Majorettes (1987)
Stick with this one.
A big, camouflage wearing psycho killer is going around offing the girls in a high school cheerleading squad. It's up to the local Sheriff (Mark V. Jevicky) and a big shot detective (Carl Hetrick) to weed through the possible suspects. One recurring clue: this killer seems to have a thing for the purifying qualities of water.
At first glance, this would seem to be a VERY typical slasher, albeit one directed by the legendary Cemetery Zombie of "Night of the Living Dead", S. William Hinzman, and scripted by John A. Russo, based on his novel. There's zero suspense and zero scares, but Hinzman goes through the motions adequately, serving up lots of nudity and violence. Some of the actors are reasonably amiable, but the performances are, by and large, amateurish and dull. (Russ Streiner, a.k.a. Johnny in NotLD, appears here as a pontificating priest.) The trying-to-ape- John-Carpenter electronic score is good for some chuckles, to be sure.
Where this actually gets interesting is at the two thirds mark. Here, the killer gets revealed, and even if you've guessed their identity correctly, it's a hoot that the way that the plot thickens. Then the killer, due to their compromising position, is obliged to help a character from a subplot take care of their problem. (Reminding this viewer of the 1975 Giallo "The Killer Must Kill Again".) Things go bad for almost everybody, and eventually the story turns into a tried-and- true revenge saga! This finale comes complete with some nifty explosions and bloody squib action.
The final third of the picture may be a turn-off for some die hard slasher fans, but just speaking personally, it's what helped to make "The Majorettes" more than just run-of-the-mill for this viewer.
Seven out of 10.
A Horrible Way to Die (2010)
A solid, if unmemorable, serial killer drama.
AJ Bowen plays Garrick Turrell, a serial killer with a pathological need to kill. He escapes from custody, and while he is on the lam the story of Sarah (Amy Seimetz) plays out. Sarah is a recovering alcoholic just trying to get from day to day; she is romanced by a member of her AA group named Kevin (Joe Swanberg). Eventually the connection between these stories is revealed.
While absolutely no match for "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" (the high water mark for this genre), "A Horrible Way to Die" is an entertaining, and very grim, independently made film. It's noteworthy for the way it portrays average American folks living their lives, and for taking a fairly low key approach to its darker material. It's gory enough to suit certain tastes, but director / editor Adam Wingard doesn't concern himself with being overly stylish. He deliberately goes for a rather drab look for the film, and the only major annoyance that this viewer had regarding the technical aspects was the way that damn camera would refuse to stay still. The soundtrack choices are somewhat amusing / interesting, considering the choice of a choir at times.
The performances are naturalistic and absorbing. Bowen remains utterly calm throughout; you won't see any scenery chewing on his part. Seimetz, very attractive but in a non-flashy way, is very appealing. Swanberg is quite likable in his role.
The script isn't perfect, but it is intriguing the way that it jumps forward and backward in time. It might not be that easy for people to follow it. The tale does come complete with some "big" plot twists.
Overall, a decent attempt to take a look at the fascination - and even hero worship - lavished upon serial killers by some of society's individuals.
Seven out of 10.