Friday, July 25, 2014

Iron Warrior (1987)

The Ator the Invincible series is a pretty storied one. Started in 1982 as a cash-in ripoff of Conan the Barbarian (the Italians loved their knock-off cinema!) by Italian director Joe D'Amato,  and was followed by a sequel in 1984 (to coincide with the release of Conan the Destroyer). The sequel, known as The Blade Master, and more notably, Cave Dwellers, became a cult hit after being featured on movie riffing TV show Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The film is full of hilariously poor special effects and stock footage, resulting in an unintentionally amusing flick. It is pretty entertaining in its own right, though. Good? Not really, but fun.

D'Amato lost interest in the series once plans for a third Conan movie were scrapped, and other genre director Alfonso Brescia took it unto himself to make the third entry in the series-Iron Warrior. Joe D'Amato didn't like that one bit, and in response to it, he made another Ator movie, Quest for the Mighty Sword, and it's the worst of the bunch!

Today I'll be looking at what's widely considered to be the black sheep of the Ator franchise-Iron Warrior...

Wicked sorceress Phaedra is imprisoned by her fellow sorceresses for her crimes, but they are too late to have stopped her from kidnapping one of two twins prophesised to protect the future princess Janna. Eighteen years later, Phaedra's sentence is up, and with her powers back (but unable to use them to kill anyone...directly) she heads for the kingdom where Princess Janna and her father preside. She takes it over with the grown-up boy she kidnapped, now warped into the formidable sorta-cyborg Iron Warrior, and Janna escapes, seeking out the help of Ator, the other twin boy, now a warrior himself...

Iron Warrior has a reputation for being an arthouse sword and sorcery flick, and it lives up to that, in a way. While the whole film is bizarre, I never really found it to be artsy. It just felt weird. The closing lines, however, are definitely pretentious as hell! Some find Iron Warrior to be boring and interminable, but I didn't. It just felt empty to me. The symbolism and surreal style of the film felt both pointless and meaningless.

The character of Ator is very different here than in the previous entries, both in looks and in backstory, but who does that surprise. He goes through huge continuity shifts each movie! Thankfully the character is still played by Miles O'Keefe (feel free to ask me how much Keefe is in this movie), who does a decent job. He's not great, but that's because the hollow script holds him back.

The whole brother dynamic between him and the Iron Warrior is completely wasted. He never utters a word, and just fights Ator, eventually getting killed

Another thing people (and Wikipedia) like to point out about the movie is how Miles O'Keefe barely has any dialogue, but that's not really true. He's pretty talkative, and he probably has the same amount of dialogue he has in previous Ator films.

The actress playing Janna does a decent job, despite how silly she looks with her hairstyle and the one eyebrow dyed pink.

The acting is all ok. The film is dubbed into English, and while the lyp-syncing is obviously non-existent, the dub acting is quite good.

The direction is good, and some moments are filmed really well. The location work is terrible, as the same place is re-used nearly a dozen times! It's painfully obvious, and it makes the film look cheap. The effects are decent though, thankfully (albeit cheesy in the way only the 1980's could be), and the fight choreography is good. The look of the villainous Iron Warrior looks kinda silly, what with the huge red scarf he has along with his chrome half-skull mask, but it makes him look unique and somewhat interesting, in my opinion.

The score is pretty good (though original to this movie, I don't know), and great in the scene when the Iron Warrior is defeated! I guess the production didn't have much music to work with though, as the main theme is re-used in full in one particular battle scene, where it feels totally out of place.

The film's whole tone is that of oddness (I guess if you're a fan of the series who wants everything to be in perfect continuity, imagine this film a dream Ator is having after taking LSD), but one scene in particular stands out, because of how baffling it is! Ator and Janna are trekking the landscape when they're set upon by a group of four brigands, who snatch Janna and tie each of her limbs to their horses. Ator chases after them on horseback, picking up a selection of ridiculously conveniently placed spears on the ground, which are all placed so evenly that you'd think this was a dream. Then, whenever Ator hits each bandit, both they and their horses just vanish in the next shot! I guess Brescia either had to pick bad editing, or risk quartering the film's lead actress.

Also off about the scene is the effect of the actress being suspended by four horses. In a Hollywood movie, it wouldn't be real, and there'd still be stringent safety measures. This is 1980's Italy though, and cast safety wasn't a concept they had quite grasped at this point, so I have no doubt that if those horses got spooked or startled, then this film would have a much more ghoulish reputation!

So, what lesson have we learnt today? If you're sentencing an evil sorceress who wants to destroy the world, don't let her go free after a scant few years in the hopes that she'll decide to become good again, otherwise you deserve the eventual and inevitable revenge that'll be inflicted upon you...

Iron Warrior is a watchable movie. I don't particularly recommend it, and if it's sword and sorcery you're looking for, stick with the Deathstalker movies first, but if you're curious, give this a watch. At the very least, it won't bore you...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Jack Hunter and the Star of Heaven (2009)

Treasure hunter Jack Hunter (hey, blame the movie, not me!) continues his work for the NSA to find a powerful magic artifact, the Star of Heaven, before murderous archeologist Albert Littman and his criminal associates can get their hands on it...

This is a very different type of movie to its predecessor The Quest for Akhenaten's Tomb, which threw me off at first, but I came to terms with that quickly and easily, and definitely prefer it being different to being a cookie-cutter carbon copy of the previous entry.

The plot to The Star of Heaven is entertaining enough, but not perfect. It doesn't do a good job-or any job for that matter-at establishing what the Star artifact is (until you see its use at the end), nor who Albert Littman is! I only knew the latter because I'd seen the previous film!

Ivan Sergei is still a semi-likeable Indiana Jones type (complete with the hat), and his performance is good, although one line he delivers at the start is hilariously under-emoted. Joanne Kelly continues to be good here, and she gets some more character with her added backstory, which is good. Mario Naim Bassil as comic relief sidekick Tariq is also good, but while he's in just about every scene of the movie, he doesn't get quite as much to do this time round (although he gets a great monologue at one point, and his ending is amusing, even if it is pretty obvious). Susan Ward is in Star of Heaven a lot more than the previous entry, and thankfully her performance is better.

Unlike in Quest for Akhenaten's Tomb, Thure Riefenstein's Littman is the main villain, and he definitely does the role justice, making for an entertainingly evil bad guy (although his sudden megalomaniacal turn in the climax is a bit out of nowhere).

The locale is pretty boring this time round. It's set in Turkey, but is mostly shot in the modern-day cities, rather than thousand-year old temples or ruins. There's a lot more crappy CGI here than in the previous film, and it drags it down, mainly in the climax. The gas explosion is great though! The stylish Egyptian tablet opening and ending credits are by far the laziest thing on display here, as they're completely recycled from the last film! And finally, the score is a lot less impressive than Akhenaten's.

The finale is overblown and silly, and the amount of NSA lives taken is hilariously and depressingly big!

Overall, The Star of Heaven isn't anywhere near as enjoyable as Quest for Akhenaten's Tomb, but is still worth at least a watch, and it doesn't finish the Jack Hunter series off too badly. As for me, I should get around to seeing the first entry in the series sometime soon!...

Jack Hunter and the Quest for Akhenaten's Tomb (2008)

Indiana Jones sure has inspired a whole genre of films, some more overt in their inspiration than others==. One example is the Jack Hunter trilogy. These are considered a miniseries, but only because that's how they were aired. In actuality, this is less a miniseries and more three individual but connected movies. I stumbled upon two of the three yesterday, and was pretty wary going in, but they actually turned out to be very good! I haven't seen the first film, but I won't bother tracking it down to review first before this, because unless you were looking for these movies, chances are you found them out of order, so I'm here to tell you that that's ok, and doesn't impede on the experience in the slightest.

Archeologist Jack Hunter has been forcibly drafted by the NSA to help them track down the powerful Star of Heaven artifact (said to wield extraordinary powers), and Albert Littman, a fugitive who used to be associated with Jack until he murdered his friend. Jack is called to Egypt by an associate who's discovered an ancient obelisk from the Ugarit civilization-who created the Star of Heaven-and Jack and his team desperately try to hunt down the Star before Littman and his mob associates close in...

The second entry in this series, The Quest for Akhenaten's Tomb doesn't require you to have seen the previous film, and does a pretty good job establishing everything (minus what the Star of Heaven is).

This film (and the series in general) continues the trend of archeologists being gun-toting adventurers who regularly come across supernatural artifacts, and more regularly shoot bad guys dead (though nowhere near as many as Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series). Is it goofy? Yeah, but you can't really complain about it, unless you're not a fan of the Indiana Jones trilogy, and are willing to levy the same complaints you have here against those.

Speaking of Indiana Jones, is this a blatant ripoff? Not at all, no matter what the hilariously plagiaristic foreign posters, or the DVD trilogy release's font would have you believe. The only obvious connection between the two aside from 'unrealistically adventurous archeologist' is the similar (if not identical) hat Jack wears.

The set-work here is fine, although there is some subpar CGI in places for certain effects, such as stone doors opening. The score is very good, accentuating moments badass and triumphant very well. And the Egyptian locale looks very pretty.

The acting's all good. It was off to a shaky start, but it's all mostly fine. Even the constant mispronunciations of Akhenaten's name stop after the first twenty minutes.

Ivan Sergei is pretty stoic as the main character. Jack Hunter is kind-of an asshole, but not really. He's almost likeable. Joanne Kelly of Warehouse 13 fame is very good here (even if she's not Syrian like her character's meant to be), and you stop seeing her as Myka Bering pretty quickly (although this film will probably leave you with an insatiable desire to rewatch that show).

One of my favourite aspects of this film is definitely comic relief sidekick Tariq. When he first appeared, I thought he would only appear in this one scene, which I thought a shame, as he seemed entertaining. I wished he'd be a main character...And he is! In fact, he is in not only this entry in the Jack Hunter series, but the other two as well! Some, however, find him too silly, and I can't blame them, really. He's like a human Jar-Jar Binks, just not annoying (to me at least).

Another character who also appeared plenty, just as I hoped, is the Egyptian Colonel, who's also likeable, even if the actor's soft-ish line delivery can sometimes be hard to understand (not helped by a lack of subtitles on the DVD). Susan Ward is pretty meh. Her performance here isn't as good as in other films I've seen her in, but she only shows up for a couple of short scenes, so she's not unbearable or anything.

Thure Reifenstein's Albert Littman isn't in the film much, as he's predominately a sub-villain for this outing, with the evil Cult of Akhenaten taking centre-stage. They're fine villains, even if their leader is pretty sucky (in the respect that he kills a henchman at the start for failing to capture Jack Hunter, then promptly spends the rest of the movie failing to capture Jack Hunter!).

The Jack Hunter series is no Indiana Jones, but really, what is? And it is in the same league as the Librarian trilogy, and that's a pretty good place to be. I recommend The Quest for Akhenaten's Tomb, although you'll probably want to hunt down the first movie beforehand...

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Daria (1997-2002)

Ah, Daria. One of the quintessential shows of the '90's!-A popular comedy cartoon about the high school life of sarcastic monotone teen Daria Morgendorffer. I used to watch it quite a bit when I was a kid, but I probably didn't get even half the jokes, and was all-round too young to appreciate what I was watching. Last week, I got the full series DVD out of a library, and have had a marathon of all 67 episodes! Now that I've properly watched Daria, I feel empty knowing that there are no more episodes to watch...

The show is frequently hilarious, and the only episodes that aren't very funny (minus the two fantasy ones-more on those later) are so because they're more dramatic and/or emotional. Daria portrays high school perfectly. This is a show definitely best watched post-high school, when one is able to look back and reflect on their time there, although obviously it's perfect for teens too.

The characters are all fantastic, from the acerbic Daria, her workaholic mother Helen, high-strung father Jake, fashion-obsessed sister Quinn and her fashion club, Daria's cynical artist best friend Jane, dumb jock Kevin, ditzy blonde cheerleader Brittany, the sensitive Mr. O'Neill, the constantly angry and stressed-out Mr. DeMartino, misandristic Ms. Barch, and many, many more. The characters can definitely be exaggerated at times, but they're very relatable, and many people can point and say exactly what kind of a person they and their friends were in high school by pointing at whichever Daria character they best resembled. As for me, I was definitely like Daria! (Although I was marginally more successful in keeping to myself in my later years of school than Daria ever is). I went through the same feelings as she does. Yeah, I may have missed out on some really good things by being a loner, but I honestly feel like they weren't necessary for me, and that my attitute was right...Granted, the fact that I'm part of Gen Y didn't exactly help matters. Have you ever tried talking to a Y'er about books older that ten yearsErr, I mean books period?! Etc, etc, etc, lots of Gen Y sucks-At least where I went to school anyway. But enough about me, this post is about Daria.

There are 65 normal episodes, and two TV movies-One in-between Series 4 and 5, and the other the show's grand finale. If I have to pick a favourite episode, it might be Is it Fall Yet?, the first TV movie. That's probably subject to change over time though.

There are only two bad episodes of Daria in my opinion, and they're both completely superfluous from the rest of the series, as they're baffling out-of-place fantasy stories! One's a musical, and the other is about Daria helping the holiday spirits of St. Patrick's Day and Valentine's Day capture three rogue holidays who escaped from Holiday Island! What?! On their own, they're not technically bad episodes, but they're just not funny, and unequivocally not Daria.

The animation for the show is very good, and most definitely a more visual treat than the show the character of Daria originated from-Beavis and Butthead! (Not to trash B&B in any way, mind you).

The soundtrack by Splendora is pretty good too. The main theme You're Standing on My Neck is great, as are the songs from the two TV movies. Not exactly the longest or most complexly written of songs, but that's understandable, since they're for a TV show, not an album.

And finally, Daria hasn't just been a great show to me, but its final season actually got me thinking about going to college. So Daria may have actually literally changed my life! Take that for what it's worth!

I really did mean it when I said I felt bummed out that I have no more episodes of Daria to watch, and I almost feel it'd be a crime removing the last disc from my player! I will tomorrow though...Because I'll be marathon-ing the first half of the series again! As for you readers at home, if you aren't already a fan of Daria, I wholeheartedly recommend it to you if it's your kind of show!...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Labyrinth (1986)

I'm of the opinion that there are way too many fantasy books, and not enough fantasy movies. Even if you lump in all the ones not deserving of a mention in a post about today's movie, you'll still probably only come up with a pretty small number. Hell, Charles Bronson probably starred in more action/cop films than there are fantasy flicks! *sigh* Well, tonight I'll be talking about 1986 fantasy Labyrinth!...

Teenager Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is a pretty miserable teen, with parents she doesn't like much, and her baby brother Toby, who really annoys her. One night, she has to babysit Toby, and his incessant crying infuriates her enough that she pretends to call on The Goblin King to take him away forever, acting out a scene from The Labyrinth, a book of hers. Unfortunately, Sarah's faux desire is taken all too seriously when Jareth, the Goblin King (David Bowie) shows up at the house and steals Toby away to his kingdom, where the baby will turn into a goblin. Desperate to get her baby brother back, Sarah travels into the strange fantasy world of the Labyrinth before time runs out...

Jim Henson's Labyrinth is considered to be one of the best fantasy flicks out there, and for good reason. It's not my favourite (chalk that up to Deathstalker II, and Krull), but I'm sure it'll become a permanent viewing staple for me (I technically saw it for the first time only a few hours ago).
It can look childish, and at times, it is a bit, but it's still a great sit for all ages!...Except for those stupid little kids who think it looks 'stupid' and 'too kiddy'. God I hate kids like that!...And I am fully aware that that make me a hypocrite...As I said, I technically saw this film for the first time today...

The plot is well-written and interesting, with many cool plot points, and a multitude of very good dialogue (mostly from David Bowie). And there's that riddle, which you know you understand, but can't wrap your head around without pausing the movie for five to ten minutes. Thankfully it does at least make sense, unlike that goddamn 4 gallons riddle in Die Hard With a Vengeance, wherein the film had Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson speed-talk quickly in that scene so you don't hear the solution not being said.

Some take issue with the end, as they feel it's an anti-climax, and tantamount to the happy sunshine and rainbow fairies climax resolution to A Nightmare on Elm Street, but I think otherwise. It works thematically, and it's a very good scene. And besides, having some epic magic duel or sword-battle with Sarah and Jareth would be the real anti-climax if it happened. This isn't like Lord of the Rings!

The animatronics and puppetry are all great! They look convincing, lifelike, and it's all actually really there, rather than be done by computers. As for the set design, it's a great sight too, even if there are a few onvious matte paintings here and there. The Labyrinth has many varied pathways, mazes, and rooms-No two sets look alike...Or they deliberately look identical to up the surreal factor. The best by far is in the finale.

The acting is all good. Jennifer Connolly makes a decent lead, while David Bowie is a very good villain (and his infamous crotch-bulge isn't as big or noticeable as the internet seems to make out).

There are several musical numbers, almost all sung by Bowie, and they range from pretty good to very good. "It's only forever, not long at all"... Anyone who can't rock along to Magic Dance officially has no soul. Although on one hand, it doesn't exactly do wonders for your villain when they turn into Ziggy Stardust, but on the other hand, haven't you ever wanted to see a villain singing Magic Dance? And besides, David Bowie can do whatever he wants. One of the best scenes in the movie is the surreal ballrom scene, set to As the World Falls Down.

One of the only problems I have with Labyrinth is the song with the red imp things. Not only could I barely understand what the hell they were singing about, but the green screen use in that scene is obvious. Also, the battle with the goblins at the end is a bit of a clusterfudge.

Labyrinth is one of the best fantasy movies out there, and while that might sound like it isn't saying much, it's a great watch if you're in the mood, and keen on the genre.

Friday, May 30, 2014

May Monster Madness: A Lot of M's

Well, here I am for yet another year of May Monster Madness! It's taken some time to put this together, what with my efforts to get to my 200th review before this date (explained here), but my large post of 'M' movies is finally up!

It was originally going to be thirteen mini-reviews (13 because oooOOOooOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!), buuut I discovered webcomic Dumbing of Age, and I couldn't stop reading. Seriously, go read Dumbing of Age! Right now! But be warned, you'll want a few days free in your schedule when you do, because if you're anything like me, you'll binge read it!

...Aren't I meant to be talking about horror movies?...

The Manster

Larry Stanford (Peter Dyneley) is a foreign correspondent working in Japan. He goes to the secluded house of mad scientist Dr. Robert Suzuki (Tetsu Nakamura) for a story, and, unbeknownst to him, is injected by Suzuki with a mysterious mad science drug that starts warping Larry's mind, and soon his body...

The Manster is ok. The plot's watchable, but not particularly good. I was staring at my watch the entire time, and I didn't particularly care about any of the characters.

There's blood splatter at the start, and implied nudity. I'm surprised the Hays Code didn't come down upon the film like a sack of bricks! Sure, those are only two tiny moments, but this is the same kind of system that thought murdering the woman with the control link lifeline to MechaGodzilla was more moral than her bravely sacrificing herself.

It's hilarious how many B-movies ended with a moral monologue tacked on at the end, when the Hays Code was so psychotic (for example, no crime in a film could ever go unpunished when the Hays Code was around. The perpetrator HAD to die. No room for a sequel, no room for sympathy or redemption-They're fucking dead!).

The effects are ok. Some are laughable, and some are actually pretty neat, like the eye in the shoulder bit.

The monster's destruction at the early part of the climax is pretty amusing, in that all he's doing is knocking over small lamps, balustrades and angrily pushing doors open. And there's a punch that doesn't connect at all!

The acting's ok, despite the Yellowface with the main Japanese character. Tetsu Nakamura is decent as the main villain, but after the first fifteen-or-so minutes, he pretty much vanishes from the movie, save for a scene here and there.

This is a pretty meh monster movie. Don't bother, and instead opt for something with a little more fun to it.

Oh, and no, the word Manster is never mentioned in the film. I assume it's just the work of some jackass who though Man and Monster were words that could be combined to great effect. They are in fact not.


'Based on a true story' (something the opening credits feel the need to tell us twice), Monstroid is about a small Hispanic town where a big American company has set up shop. Having been accused of pollution by a kinda-racist eco-terrorist, a representative is sent over to survey the supposed damage, and do what he can to fix the problem...

Oh, and apparently a monster is in it. Who'd'a fudgin' figured! I thought I was watching Monstroid: It Came from the Deep, not Vindictive Reporter acts like a Bitch to a Mitchum while Townspeople hate on an Apparent Wiccan!

As you can tell from my rant, Monstroid follows the Rule of Jaws, and it fails! That's not to say this is like Razorback, where most of the film isn't even about the monster, but a lot of this movie is comprised of soapie character interactions.

As for horror tropes, there's one character who almost dies, but it's a fake-out, but then a few minutes later, she gets killed anyway after a scene with her ex, which makes that storyline that dominates a lot of the film's first twenty minutes completely pointless.

Oh, and on the subject of her demise...Horror Movie Rule No. 666: RUN, BITCH, RUN!

Monstroid also gives into the won't kill a dog cliche, but really, when is that a bad thing?

There's also a clumsily done Gilligan Cut. For those who don't know, that's when, for example, a character's saying about how they absolutely won't do this certain thing!...And then the movie/TV show jump-cuts to them doing it.

The acting ranges from decent to meh. RoChriJames? Mitchum is pretty ok, as is John Carradine in a semi-minor role (an actual role though nonetheless, not a Trojan Carradine), and the actress who plays the reporter is annoying at first as the vindictive reporter bitch, but she becomes tolerable as her character becomes more likeable...Well, less dislikeable.. Everyone of note here is pretty wasted.

The plot point of the townspeople thinking an innocent woman is a witch is completely wasted, and the resolution is insanely confusing! All I know with certainty is that it didn't end up being quite as depressing as Don't Torture A Duckling.

The tease at the end annoyed me, as I felt it made the entire movie, especially the climax, pointless.

One stupid moment is when a caucasian local is talking to the reporter about superstition and the supposed witch-"It's ridiculous. But you know how backward these people are"-She says this right in front of a massive crowd of these 'backward people'! Way to go, dumbass!

The creature design is pretty crappy, and the film makes the mistake of showing the shoddy monster prop in broad daylight for the finale! I at least appreciate that though, as it's better than having the final fight in your low quality monster movie be completely shrouded in darkness. The finale is actually pretty damn impressive, minus the 'hiYAAAH!' motorboat matador, and the complete lack of problems Uh Mitchum goes through when swimming near the monster to retrieve a fallen detonator.

Some have the same complaints with Rana: Legend of Shadow Lake as they do with this, but I like that movie, and I can easily recommend it over this dull piece of meh any day of the week.

The Mighty Peking Man

Hunter Johnny is sent into the wilderness of the Himalayas to find the mysterious Peking Man-A cryptid. After multiple hardships, Johnny finally finds the giant ape, as well as a Tarzan woman named Samantha, who he falls in love with and vice versa. Johnny takes both her and the Peking Man to the city, where problems begin pretty quickly, and soon the massive behemoth is loose in China...

With plot points such as a giant gorilla, his fascination with a blonde caucasian woman, and him being taken to the city for business, where he ends up wreaking havoc, eventually climbing the tallest building in the city, The Mighty Peking Man obviously takes inspiration from Godzilla.

This film came highly recommended by fellow blogger Maynard Morrissey, who's a fan of it. As such, I was looking forward to it, but...

...Yeah, I didn't like it.
*ducks rotten fruit*
Ok, I really enjoyed the first half hour, which was a goofy jungle adventure, but the moment Samantha came into the movie, it just stopped to a dead halt, and never recovered in my eyes. And plus, the ending's a real downer!

The acting is hard to gauge, seeing as how this is (poorly) dubbed, but from what it looks, the original actors didn't fare much better.

The effects are ok. The giant ape is obviously a guy in a suit, but it's a pretty decent suit,...mostly. Its feet look like plushy slippers! Minus the obvious green screen shots here and there, the movie does a decent job of scale with its giant ape. The effects for the buildings he destroys, however, are terrible! Hilariously so!

This is a pretty boring movie, and I don't really recommend it, but who knows, maybe you'll like it.

The Mutilator

Young kid Ed is cleaning his father's guns as a birthday present, anc accidentally kills his mother, something that drives his father crazy. Years after, Ed and his high school friends are going to the family beach condo, because he has to do some chores for his dad. However it turns out that his supposedly absent father is hiding in the house, brandishing deadly weapons and harbouring murderous thoughts...

This is a horror movie (slasher to be specific), but there are some scenes where you'll wonder. The music, the dialogue, and the characters are big factors in this. Were it not for the opening prologue, you'd think this was just about a bunch of teen friends on Fall break, ready for some wacky hijinks.

By the way: Horror Movie Rule No. 789 to the power of binary 91: Don't ever, ever split up in a horror movie unless you're at peace with the fact that you're going to get a fishing gaffe stuck up your lady parts, doing what the laser in Goldfinger didn't.

The ending is pretty baffling. The killer literally gets sliced in half, yet he still gets up again, slices off a cop's leg, and laughs maniacally! Jeez, I guess I can cut the mains some slack for not making sure the slasher film killer is really dead, because he seemed pretty fucking out of it to me!

The acting is decent, and the characters likeable. Such is the trap of the slasher film-Either you care about the characters and are bummed out when they die, or you hate them and don't mind them dying horrible deaths, but you have to bear them for the whole movie.

The gore is pretty good, but there's not much of it. We get a hilarious decapitation, a chainsawing, and more...

The score is pretty good, and the main theme is fun, but it gets repetitive a few choruses in. Speaking of, the opening credits aren't until ten minutes into the movie! Jeez!

Overall, The Mutilator is a decent slasher film. Nothing special, but you could do far worse and far more cliched than this.

Manos "The Hands of Fate"

Mike and his family-wife Margaret and daughter Debbie-are driving through the El Paso countryside, looking for Valley Lodge. Unfortunately for them, they get lost, and soon find themselves in the terrifying clutches of The Master, and his bizarre manservant Torgo...

Yeah, I know it's a bit of a cliche to talk about 'worst film ever' Manos "The Hands of Fate", but not everyone has heard of it. Maybe someone will read my blog and find out for the very first time. So, what are my thoughts on this cult 'classic'? I don't think it's that bad...Yes, really.

I've seen some bad movies, believe you me, and Manos "The Hands of Fate" is so not the worst! Not by today's standards, and not by 1967's standards.

While the execution *ahem* leaves something to be desired, the plot to Manos is actually pretty interesting. And visually, for a no-budget first attempt from a non-filmmaker with zero experience and a terrible camera, it's actually pretty good. The voice acting is *pretty* decent for the most part, although the visual acting is bad for a few of the actors. The editing is of course what's really crummy. Understandable, given this was shot with a camera that could only shoot fifteen seconds at a time (and had no sound) though. The only reason I'm not assuming Hal P. Warren got a 60 year old camera to shoot Manos with is because of the recent resurfaced HD print. So I guess it just must have been that bad of a camera.

Onto the more famed aspects of the movie-Torgo!With his giant knees, stuttering repetitive dialogue, and crazy acting by John Reynolds, why wouldn't you feel for poor old Torgo!

Tom Neyman makes for a pretty decent villain as The Master, visually, and actingwise. He was also a pretty decent set decorator.

One moment I actually find to be potentially creepy (that is to say, if this was a better movie) is when Torgo is talking about how The Master is 'Not with us anymore', then goes along to reassure Margaret that she shouldn't be afraid, because 'The Master likes you', and how he's 'Dead, but not in the way you know it. He is with us always...'.

Aside from the completely superfluous couple making out in random shots here and there, the biggest problem with Hands "The Hands of Fate" is the extremely repetitive dialogue, which can get pretty repetitive pretty quickly, because it's extremely repetitive. But this adds tenfold to what makes the movie memorable, rather than crippling it. Hell, if it wasn't for the repetition, how much of a cult presence would this movie even have?!

The score is ok-Akin to 70's porn music. It's pretty repetitive, but not annoyingly so. And I'm not the only one who quite likes the song that plays over the ending credits-Forgetting You. And of course, who could forget the haunting Torgo theme!

In closing, go watch Manos! It's one of the all-time cult movie 'greats'!


Well, that's another year of May Monster Madness out of me. No, I didn't originally get to review thirteen movies, because of the above reason, and reviewing fatigue (don't worry, only the very slightly temporary kind), but I've still got a sizeable post up, so hey, I'm fine. Hopefully every other participant has cool posts to read, which I shall do right away!...Once the time zones catch up...It has in fact been the 30th of May here for the past 18+ hours... See you all next year!...

Friday, May 23, 2014

200th Review: Krull (1983)

I've been working extra busy over the past two weeks, as not only do I have to watch and write reviews for thirteen films for May Monster Madness on the 31st, but doing so would go over my 200 review point, so I've spent the last several days watching numerous movies, so I could get from 185 to 200 before the 31st of May...Aaand it turned out I could've just left things alone, because 184 plus 13 is NOT over 200! God, I'm an idiot!...But to be fair, at that point, MMM was about 18-19 days away, and that long without a review wouldn't be something I'd want to do, so I guess I would've been caught in this time trap anyway.

So, I wanted my 200th review be for something special, and for it be be its own post, not a random B-movie sandwiched in-between six by six reviews on both sides. And the movie I've picked for the 200th is not Hard Rock Zombies as was originally intended, but 1983 British fantasy film Krull!...

The magical world of Krull has been invaded by an evil alien army know as The Slayers, and Prince Colwyn (Ken Marshall) and Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony) the children of two feuding royal families want to get married, so their kingdoms can unite against the shared threat. Things go badly, however, when the Slayers attack Colwyn's family castle, killing everyone save for Colwyn himself (who's merely wounded), and Lyssa, who they kidnap. The next day, Colwyn wakes up to find himself being tended to by Ynyr, the old one (Freddie Jones) a wise hermit from the mountains, who has come own to teach Colwyn of the Glaive-A Powerful weapon capable of destroying The Slayers and their leader The Beast. Colwyn retrieves the Glaive, amasses a team out of bandits, and heads for the Slayers lair-the Black Fortess-to stop their evil once and for all and to rescue his lost love...

First and foremost, the score to Krull is one of the best in film history! It's sweeping, epic, and orchestral, and truly makes an already great film and makes it amazing! Seeing these vistas and hearing that music is one reason why Krull is one of my favourite movies, and my all-time favourite fantasy. Yes, even over the Deathstalker series! And obviously over the Lord of the Rings films-9 hours is a bit too epic for my tastes!

And while the huge score is a big part of Krull, it never does all the talking like Basil Poledouris' in Conan the Barbarian. That movie's basically a damn opera with a few bits of dialogue here and there. Not that I dislike Conan's score at all-It's great. But there's too much of it, and too little plot.

There are so many movies out there that make you disgusted that they cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make, as the budget in no way comes across on the screen, but with Krull on the other hand, you can see the work done on the film. The sets are extravagant, and a feast for the eyes, while the creature effects are elaborate and interesting. The only bad effect is the pretty obvious green-screen during the Fire-Mare sequence. But the Fire Mares themselves are realised pretty awesomely!

The plot is actually pretty simple, but still thoroughly entertaining, and very well-written. There are numerous great scenes, such as the "Love is fleeting, Power is eternal" part, and the Widow of the Web section.

The protagonists are entertaining for sure. With his American accent not nearly standing out as much as you'd think in a purely British film, Ken Marshall is a very good lead, whereas Freddie Jones is great as mentor Ynyr, and David Battley is good as the likeable and surprisingly not annoying comic relief Ergo the Magnificent. His friendship with Rell the cyclops (played well by Bernard Bresslaw) isn't given a whole lot of screentime, but in many ways, that is rather the point-"We had no time.". And for Rell himself, his arc is very good. All cyclops' know the time of their death, and trying to prevent it will cause them great pain-How this is realised is the epitome of great storytelling!

The most-welcome pre-famous Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane get a pretty decent amount of time here as minor main characters, with Coltrane getting more screentime here than he does in Goldeneye (that being Goldeneye's biggest sin!), which is a great sign. Lysette Anthony is wasted here, as her voice is overdubbed, because the producers felt an American lead would sell more seats than a British one. Damn racists! And poor Lysette Anthony! She doesn't really get much to do in the film other than be a damsel, and interact with The Beast.

The Slayers are pretty memorable villains. I say 'pretty', because there's not really anything to them, which is both good and bad. One one hand, not knowing anything about them adds an air of mystery to them, and makes them intriguing. But on the other hand, we know nothing about them, so why the hell should we give a crap?

And there's The Beast, the lead villain and head of all the Slayers. Unfortunately, while he's very imposing, and the actor turns in a great performance, he's slightly underused, and aside from fighting Colwyn at the end, he does very little aside from taunt Lyssa. He does make the most of his scenes though, thankfully.

The Glaive is a pretty cool iconic weapon, even if use in real life would slice your hand open when you try and catch it. Some people dislike the movie's use of the Glaive, as it's only used in the climax, and 'does nothing'. True, it doesn't kill The Beast, but it does hurt him badly. The Glaive is also used against regular slayers in the Black Fortress to cool effect. Some don't care though, as they feel the Glaive should have been used all throughout the movie. I feel the opposite-Having Colwyn use the Glaive to easily solve every problem the group comes across would feel cheap and unsuspenseful. And such regular use of the Glaive would remove any mystique it has.

The way Colwyn gets the Glaive is pretty anticlimactic. He climbs up a mountain, goes up a steep incline where a few boulders come down, then he goes into the cave containing the weapon. That's it! And the Glaive rests in a pool of lava, which Colwyn just digs his arm straight into to get the weapon! That's a pretty ballsy assumption that he could do that without turning into a red mush!

Speaking of  the Fire Mares come pretty out of nowhere. 'Oh no, the Black Fortress is 1000 leagues away!' 'All hope is not lost, as the Fire Mares can travel that fast!'. I wish they would have established or name-dropped them at an earlier point in the movie.

The other issue with the film is the death toll. EVERYONE dies in this movie, save for a select few! It borders on ridiculous! "Hide your grief, boy", Ynyr says to Colwyn after the castle massacre, and apparently Colwyn takes that to heart, as he's nothing but smiles for the rest of the movie!

And funnily enough, despite the massive death toll, and a neck impalement more brutal than the one in Barbarian Queen, Krull is rated G!

I also have a couple of problems with the finale in the Black Fortress. For one, we barely see much of what Ergo and the boy Titch do when stuck on their own, which is a shame, and the way a character dies in a spike-trap room is pretty stupid (they were pointlessly trying to grab something, Plus, they don't move at all when the spikes are coming for them, despite having ample time to escape)

And that's it. I have no more issues with this film. Krull is a perfect example of fantasy cinema, and I implore all fans of the genre to watch it! There's a void in your heart until you do!...