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Fright Night 2 (2013) (V)
Better than the 2011 version (at least for the first forty-five minutes) but not as good as the 80s Fright Night movies, 20 April 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I decided to check out the 2013 Fright Night. I wanted to see how well Jaime Murray (the Black Fairy from Once Upon a Time) did as a vampire because I love her girlish (original Dark Shadows' Angelique Collins-esque) giggle.

At first I was ready to heckle it, from the cheesy blue tint and an explosion at the one minute and thirty second mark but it fast improved. I'd say it was better than the 2011 version despite 2011's remake having David Tennant (Even that couldn't save it).

Charley Brewster, Amy, and Evil Ed (as I said it's not the same continuity as the 2011 film, so yes, Ed is alive) have decided to attend college in Romania. Their new professor is Gerri Dangridge (a female version of Jerry) is a vampire.

Like the original Fright Night Charley sees her taking victims from his window and at first no one believes him. She follows traditional Dracula-esque rules such as needing an invitation to enter a home, but unlike the gutter trash version of Jerry from the 2011 film she also has a lot of Dracula's traditional powers.

Her shadow can move of its own accord (I like that a lot). She can leap great heights and probably even fly. She can read thoughts and enter dreams. She can stop a moving car and damage it, with her own body. And she heals fast. I love her growling. Her powers put the 2011 Jerry Dangridge to shame. She also has more of the charm you would expect from a traditional vampire. Suave and seductive yet dangerous. I just wish that like the original 1985 Jerry Dandridge and 1988 Regine she could take bat, wolf, and mist form.

Also, much like how the original 1985 Fight Night suggested that Jerry Dandridge was really Dracula (at least in its novelization), this film heavily suggests (actually it out right tells you) that Gerri is Elizabeth Bathory, which I don't mind at all. She even has a hidden bathtub of blood in her flat along with a collection of clocks (much like the 1985 Fright Night).

There's a bit of a twist though that she has been searching, for centuries, for someone born on the blood moon (and still a virgin) whose blood can cure her of her curse. So though we see her revel in predatory behavior and seem to wickedly enjoy it, apparently she does not actually like being a vampire. The new Evil Ed is a LOT better than the 2011 version as well. This Evil reminded me of the original, right down to the facial expressions and eyebrows. He even has the laugh. He felt like Evil Ed, like he studied the original. This version of Gerri has UV filters over her windows, a very nice modernization without oing too far. I wish I had seen this when it first came out. It's not as good as the 80s version or even the 1988 sequel but it makes up for the 2011 Fright Night in its own way.

This shouldn't be called Fright Night 2. It should be its own movie, stand on its own, as its own attempt at a Fright Night remake since that's what it actually is. This version deserved to be more than a direct to video sequel to the 2011 film. Unfortunately it does have its flaws…

The new Peter Vincent is a TV host for a cheesy Syfy Channel-esque monster hunting reality show. I'm glad he has a TV show but he's still disappointing. He's too much like the 2011 version. I miss the timid horror host who finds his place as a real hero like Roddy McDowell's Peter Vincent. Becoming the hero he always wanted to be. The way the 2011 and 2013 Peter Vincent is tackled is all too cynical. Amy's a bit stand-off-ish and keeps ignoring Charley trying to give her chocolates and flowers but I still like her better than the "Hot chick" version from the 2011 film that completely obliterated her Girl Next Door quality from the original 1985 film. Evil Ed and Gerri Dandridge are fantastic and they make this movie! There are parts in this that actually managed to make me laugh. Nothing in the 2011 version made me laugh. This should have gotten its own theatrical release as its own Fright Night remake. It's NOT a sequel, it is its own reboot. This should not be called Fright Night 2.

I miss the 1985 gay overtones with Ed being in the closet but this version of Evil Ed is fun just the same. Every time a vampire screeches and all through the chase scene and later climax there is a flickering light effect that I absolutely hate. That's not scary. It's annoying and potentially headache inducing. The scene would have been a lot creepier without it. The chase scene and Peter Vincent are the biggest let downs of the movie but I love Evil Ed and I love Gerri Dandridge and her new array of powers that make the 2011 Jerry look pathetic in comparison. I just wish she would take wolf, bat or mist form.

I also don't like that the vampires won't show up on camera, a trope lifted from the 2011 film. Cameras never stopped Regine in the 1988 Fright Night Part 2, in fact part of the plot was her taking Peter Vincent's TV show and becoming it's new host. Not showing up in a mirror doesn't necessarily mean you won't show up on camera. The ending is a bit incoherent and has it that a mere bite will change you into a vampire and yet in the original 1985 Fright Night, despite the feeding decapitations we distinctly saw Jerry feed Amy his blood. The stupid flicker effect every time a vampire screeches is really obnoxious too,during the chase and the climax.

7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
It's actually kind of offensive..., 2 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just watched Magical Beasts and where to find them and I'm really turned off by the American Wizards.

1. The bad fake New York accents.

2. They all wear 1920s clothes, perfectly mundane 1920s clothes .Why do the British Wizards get to wear the cool eccentric robes but American wizards dress so plainly? And "No Maj" is really, really irritating.

3. Finally, the British Wizards have no death sentence but American wizards kill pretty eagerly. They know New York isn't Texas, right?!? Also why do the Wizards reflect the No Maj / Muggle politics? I would have hoped wizards (as they can travel anywhere very quickly) would have a more unified culture. And America wouldn't be treated as a uber modern / strict / harsh place. They need permits to have a wand?! And again... Why don't they wear robes? These are European descended wizards. Why wouldn't they have robes yet in the UK wizards wear traditional Wizard garb all the time. I feel J. K. Rowling is showing some innate bigotry against Americans here that has depleted the whimsy factor and made this portion of the wizarding world unnecessarily cold, sterile, and in certain aspects idiotic.

And don't get me started on their rules about wizards not being allowed to interact with "No Maj." God, I hate that term... America's English developed differently from the original British English partly thanks to the Webster Dictionary changing particular words. So WHY would Wizard slang be different?! It makes no sense! Perhaps someone should have shown her the Halloweentown movies from the Disney Channel featuring the late Debbie Reynolds. That was Harry Potter-esque yet set in America without taking away the whimsy and sense of Old World magical charm. And didn't require turning Americans into vaguely obnoxious stereotypes. It was charming despite the low budget. The wizards in America SHOULD have behaved just like the ones in the UK. People are people no matter where you are, after all. We are all human. Skip this. And re-watch Halloweentown in Debbie Reynolds memory. You won't regret it.

Also "I have trouble reading Brit minds because of the accent." WTF!???

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
This is a joke right?, 26 December 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a joke right? How does this self-absorbed, self-praising piece of garbage exist? If you know anything at all about science it's scenes that "successfully argue against evolution" will be painful, the sort of thing that makes your IQ feel like it's dropping or may cause an aneurysm.

I thought Narcissism was supposed to be a sin but this self-obsessed man seems to think he's a Messiah. Also why? Why is it popular to consider evolution to be anti-God? God (theoretically) created so many wonderful and complex things. Why couldn't he have deliberately brought about an evolving race? Hell, we humans forced a sort of evolution when we took wolves and domesticated them into modern dog breeds. Pugs were not created by nature, folks! Why wouldn't God have created evolving beings? There was a time when people thought that the Earth going around the sun was "anti-God." Science and spirituality do NOT have to be at odds. The two can and should co-exist as a quest for answers and that does not mean dismissing scientific evidence because it shakes your perceptions. It means embracing the new ripples in your reality and consider that maybe that's all part of the plan.

The most anti-semetic mess to be released in this century!, 26 December 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't know how to keep polite in this review so I'll try to keep my language clean...

The self aggrandizing writer says "Jewish people don't have to desert their Jewishness to accept Jesus" That's literally what becoming Christian is because in accepting Christ you are embracing Christianity in place of "jewishness". This truly is antisemetic, self-absorbed and creepy.

Also don't get me started on the warped, ill-conceived and misguided nature of having the protagonist codemn a book series (Harry Potter) just because it has the use of magic in it. You can't preach "keep an open mind" while telling people to burn a book series. That's literally the opposite of open mindedness!

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Far better than I expected. It deserves a DVD release, 4 November 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell was much better than I expected. Why is there no disc release of it? I would like to have a physical copy for my private collection. I haven't liked an animated Marvel feature this much in years.

Why does that terrible "Superheroes Frost Fight" (Essentially "How the Loki stole Christmas") get a DVD but not this?! The plot is this. Nightmare is abducting children in astral form as they sleep and replacing them with monsters from their nightmares. He tries to manipulate Hulk with his secret fear of Banner. And it involves a team consisting of a zombie SHIELD agent Sitwell, Vampire by Night (werewolf by Night's niece), Warwolf and Man-Thing. One of the best lines is Banner: "Are you going to give me the old Magick is science we don't understand yet?" Dr. Strange replies "Has it occurred to you that science is magick we don't understand yet." This was far better than I expected. I wish Marvel would utilize it's selection of Gothic Monsters and not just for a Halloween direct to streaming movie. This deserved a DVD. I hope next time they incorporate their Frankenstein Monster. And I don't mean the Ultimate Spider-Man Universal Studios knock-off version. I mean the shaggy haired (not flat headed) and well spoken Frankenstein Monster like who appeared in Daredevil 033 2013.

I miss the Marvel monsters. We need more stuff like this. It was well animated and though appealing for kids it does not talk down to it's audience.

"Lucifer" (2015)
5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
I love Lucifer (Never thought I'd say that!), 23 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a surprisingly addictive show called Lucifer. I originally wasn't going to give it a chance but I really, really like it.

It airs on Fox here in the US on Monday nights at nine PM and it's loosely based on the version of Lucifer created by Niel Gaiman for the Sandman comics for DC. It's already been renewed for a second season so once you catch up (if you want to watch it) a new batch of episodes will be on it's way.

The premise is this. Lucifer (Yes, the Devil) quits. He up and quits. Think Jack Skellington bored with Halloween. He quits Hell and goes to Earth to open a Night club and the longer he stays on Earth the more human-like he becomes. He's slowly learning things like love, mercy, honor, and a longing to protect the innocent. It's a story about The Devil on a redemption arc if you can believe that. It's a very, very unique twist on The Devil.

An Angel named Amenadiel tries to make Lucifer go back to Hell because Hell needs a ruler and he knows if Lucifer doesn't go back then God might appoint someone else to be The Devil (as apparently this can happen). But the longer Amenadiel stays on Earth the darker he is becoming. As Lucifer rises, Amenadiel is falling. He's doing some twisted and evil things to try to make Lucifer go back so it's likely he'll end up the next devil.

There's a female homicide detective named Chloe. She and Lucifer are friends. She doesn't actually believe he's The Devil. She thinks he's just crazy but oddly useful in solving murder cases. And he's oddly drawn to her so Lucifer becomes a police consultant to hang around her and he slowly comes to realize he is PHYSICALLY mortal around her. He could die if she harms him. Also he gets a literal drug-like high whenever she acknowledges he's done something good. And that's just really adorable.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
I just saw Stranger Things and... I liked it, 13 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just saw Stranger Things and I liked it. Stranger Things is a new Netflix mini-series set in the early 1980s. The first season deals with the mysterious disappearance of a little boy named Will, a sinister government organization and a little girl with psychic powers.

It's good to see Winona Ryder in something big again. I know she has been in other things but I haven't paid much attention since Girl Interrupted. That was the last Winona Ryder movie I can recall watching.

It truly felt like something from the 1980s, from the music to the sets. It also had the right ambiance- that particular style of Gothic atmosphere that recent horror has lost. It felt like a 1980s science fiction / horror / fantasy with a bit of mystery. Unlike American Horror Story it did not rely heavily on gore or sex. You could have convinced me it was made in the 1980s.

Since Stranger Things was so successful I hope other horror and scifi projects imitate it. I often hate when something popular is leeched but this is a style of film making I had missed.

Noticeable Homages and references: Stand by Me / The Body, Firestarter, Carrie, The Shining, Stephen King's It, Sometimes They Come back, Poltergeist, The Thing, H. P. Lovecraft, Star Wars, E.T: the Extraterrestrial, Dungeons and Dragons, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Evil Dead, The Twilight Zone (two episodes: The Monsters are due on Maple Street and Little Girl Lost), Nightmare on Elm Street, Watcher in the Woods, and even Let the Right One In (The girl going by the name El (short for Eleven) and how The Bullies were handled).

The one thing that I felt made Stranger Things shine above American Horror Story is that Stranger Things is not excessively sexual or gory. It has just enough gore where the gruesome scenes do horrify you and stick with you but there is also a subtlety so that your imagination can take over and you do not become desensitized to things. You actually form an emotional connection to the characters and care what will happen to them. There's also enough mystery left to make you hungry for more and for your imagination to run wild about certain details.

I liked it a lot. My one complaint has to do with the flicker light effect in the very first scene and later in high abundance in the final episode. I do NOT recommend anyone with Epilepsy watching Stranger Things, at least not the first scene of the first episode or large parts of the season finale. I'm somewhat photosensitive myself (though I don't have seizures from it) and I was bothered by the constant flashing in the final episode, I say this as someone who does NOT have epilepsy, I know it would be far worse for those of you that do have the condition. The first scene was bearable though it was a relief when it was over with but the final episode's flickering lights was dragged on and on and on. They also had unnecessary jump scares and some wall ghost CGI that unfortunately reminded me that yes, this was recently made (and would have looked better entirely done with practical effects). But otherwise I loved it.

I recommend Stranger Things to anyone who likes 1980s horror, scifi or fantasy. If you miss traditional horror in a semi-modern setting this is the show for you. I personally would have preferred more supernatural / fantasy elements as opposed to the X-Files-esque pure Science fiction but I found it likable. There are lot of classic tropes and clichés that some of us adore. And some of the tropes are turned on their head- like expecting the one character to end up with the girlfriend of the bully, or that bully showing he actually has depth and can grow as a person. That one, in particular, was a wonderful and welcome twist on the 1980s film stereotype. I liked Stranger Things and I hope it's second season is equally enjoyable.

4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Gorgeous, 2 November 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Crimson Peak review: (Mild spoilers) So I just saw Crimson Peak and yes, it was very good.

Doug Jones was masterful playing all the ghosts (except for certain ones near the end). The score was haunting. The visuals fantastic, particularly the "red clay in the snow." Gorgeously ominous.

The film reminded me a lot of the Vincent Price version of The Fall of the House of Usher and Tales of Terror with Tom Hiddleston in a role that would have befitted Vincent Price in the early to mid-sixties.

Like all Guillermo del Toro films there is at least one subtle Frankenstein reference. In this case it's toward the beginning where the protagonist Edith says she'd rather be like Mary Shelley (a widow) as opposed to Jane Austen (A spinster). This also works for foreshadowing for the end of the film.

Guillermo del Toro really needs to get on the ball about making an adaptation of the Frankenstein novel with Doug Jones as The Creature. Please! I also believe Edith's maiden name (Cushing) was a subtle homage to Hammer horror icon Peter Cushing who starred in many spooky movies of the 1950s into the 1970s.

I strongly recommend the movie. Yes, it is very much a haunted house movie but it is also a gorgeous period piece, a homage to traditional haunted house stories you don't see much of anymore, and a good murder mystery as well. If not for the fact that I know this to be a new story you would swear this was actually a much older sory being adapted into a film, it feels Victorian- as it should.

The subtle inclusion of late nineteenth century supernatural / parapsychology theory was well done. And the fact that the first ghost Edith ever saw (her own mother) was roughly around the time of the first murder was well done too and left open possible twists and interpretations never addressed in the film. Did her mother have something to do with Crimson Peak? Do ghosts have some sense of the future or was her mother's ghost chatting with Thomas' mother's ghost on the other side and went "Uh, Oh. I'd better tell my daughter just to be safe." It's not so much a plot hole as something deliberately ambiguous. Was it really her mother or a premonition taking the form of her mother? Any fans of Penny Dreadful, Hammer horror, Gothic literature, Mario Bava or Guillermo del Toro should really check out the movie.

This is an excellent haunted house movie right up there with The Legend of Hell House.

I recommend this film to anyone who loves traditional Gothic Horror.

11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Decent but there is a part that bugs me, 30 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So I just saw Hotel Transylvania 2. And yes, it is funnier and more enjoyable than the first Hotel Transylvania. I just have one complaint. One little thing undermines the entire moral of the film.

The whole film is about how it doesn't matter what you are and that those that love you will accept you. The whole film is about how even if he is human Dennis will be accepted. However Mavis gives serious consideration to moving to California and nearly does even though Dennis AND Jonathan clearly want to stay in Transylvania.

Here's the spoiler. Toward the end of the film it's revealed that Dennis actually is a vampire. His vampirism emerges when his best friend / possible future romantic interest, the little werewolf girl is in trouble. Here's the problem. The whole film has this ham handed message about acceptance and how it doesn't matter what Dennis is. Yet it does. It really, really does. As soon as things calm down he asks "Since I'm a vampire does this mean we can stay at the hotel?" And Mavis says "Yes." Just yes. Nothing about how she might have stayed if she had just known and accepted that's what he really wanted. This "cute" moment under cuts the entire message of the film.

I know that as an adult I'm probably over analyzing but it kind of bothers me because otherwise it's a very sweet and funny film.

I actually don't mind Dennis becoming a vampire. That was kind of cute, especially the reason as to how. What bugged me was "Since I'm a vampire does this mean I can stay ant the hotel?" and Mavis says "Yes." So much for what he is not mattering. What he is should not have anything to do with if they stay at the hotel or not. That undermined everything!

Since there are so many complaints about Hotel Transylvania 2 I will give it this one nod of appreciation. I am very grateful that the cartoon Dracula can shapeshift into multiple forms. I miss depictions of Dracula that can become more than just a bat. Little things like that please me.

6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
I don't usually review individual episodes..., 24 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't usually review individual episodes but this is the most shameless and insulting cash grab of a cartoon "cross over" event I have ever seen. What does the Disney Channel sitcom Jesse have to do with Spider-man or Halloween for that matter? absolutely nothing. There were more coherent and reasonable cross-overs with the 1970s Scooby Doo.

The first Ultimate Spider-man Halloween special involved "The Howling Commandos" and that version of the Howling Commandos was more or less a compilation of the modern Legion of Monsters and The Midnight Sons but for some reason lacking the character of Michael Morbius AKA Morbius The Living Vampire. Oh, don't let the name fool you. Morbius isn't quite living or dead, he's very much a vampire but unlike the supernatural vampires of Marvel he was accidentally created through scientific means, making him a uniquely self-made breed of vampire with all the traits of the supernatural vampires but lacking the aversions to symbols of faith, silver, or a need for an invitation to enter the home.

I had hoped that this year's Halloween episode would finally get us to see this animated universe's incarnation of Morbius. Poor Morbius has only had one TV incarnation and that was the 1994 Spider-man animated series. Admittedly he had appeared in several episodes, roughly equal to the number of episodes Loki has appeared in the current cartoon universe but Morbius hasn't had a TV incarnation since then.

So instead of giving us Morbius or any of the other Marvel monsters we get... A cross over with a tween sitcom... A tween Sitcom that most Spider-man fans had never even heard of. This was probably the most disappointing thing Marvel has done since canceling Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

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