Monday, March 24, 2014

Updated Review #2: Muoi: The Legend of a Portrait

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A writer, desperate for a hit, reluctantly accepts an invitation to investigate a local Vietnamese legend about a vengeful ghost inhabiting a painting.

Review: As I mentioned, in one of my ramblings regarding these updated reviews, this film has been my most popular post, and I want to provide a better expression of my feelings on this tale. Upon further viewings, I have to agree with my original assessment: this movie would be a lot scarier if all but two or three scares weren't merely nightmares or hallucinations or whatever they're supposed to be. Despite this, the ideas are good and the scares are decent nonetheless. The plot can be overly convoluted, and there are still a few questions I have regarding what happened, but I think I have a stronger grasp on the film; also, I think I watched a better subbing of the dialogue so that may have contributed. Now let's have a second look at "Muoi: The Legend of a Portrait," shall we.

Let me first explain the legend of Muoi herself in order to establish some context. A hundred years ago in Vietnam, Muoi was an extremely beautiful woman, but was a commoner or something along those lines (wasn't everyone?). A painter, of some prestige it would seem, fell in love with Muoi even though he was already engaged to some bitch. In all fairness, I can't really blame the bitch for being mad that her fiance basically cheated on her. The painter had begun work on a portrait of Muoi, but did not finish it for some unknown reason...I guess he had to return to the bitch? Learning of this, the bitch spreads rumors that Muoi is bewitching men--I'd be kind of flattered if someone said my beauty was great enough to bewitch, but that's me. Seeing how this was lame and pointless, the bitch gets random flunkies to break Muoi's leg and the bitch personally pours acid on her face. Because no one ever talks to each other in movies, the painter thinks Muoi left him and gives up on her. Crippled, disfigured, and losing her love, Muoi chooses to hangs herself, magically knowing she will come back as a vengeful spirit (if you strike me down I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine). Muoi then seeks out revenge against the people that harmed her until the bitch seeks the help of monks. The painter lures the spirit of Muoi into the open, promising to finish the portrait he started, stalling long enough for the monks to corner and bind her spirit within the portrait--held at bay with a magic spike--hey, I don't know. Eventually, during WWII, a Japanese officer unleashes Muoi and no one knows anything beyond that point. The present day story is that Muoi will seek revenge for you if you ask, but she requires a human sacrifice, of sorts, with the details a little sketchy. And that is the legend of the portrait.

As for the main story, it involves a writer in Korea, named Yoon-hee, who has had one major success in which she wrote about her friends and divulged personal information about their lives while exaggerating certain aspects. More precisely, Yoon-hee sold out her best friend, Seo-yeon, describing her as a slut among other not so pleasant claims. Yoon-hee believes Seo-yeon has not read her book but is still reluctant to accept her help with the next book, using Muoi as the inspiration. Seo-yeon lives a lavish life in Vietnam and appears to wholeheartedly welcome Yoon-hee to stay with her and allow Yoon-hee to take whatever amount of time she needs to investigate and gather information about the Muoi legend. Almost immediately, Yoon-hee sees horrible visions of Muoi, ghosts, and the idea of Seo-yeon hurting her. The movie is never clear if these are hallucinations brought on due to Muoi or Yoon-hee's own guilt. This fact bothers me, because that makes most of the scares not even real. Plus, there's the cliched dream within a dream scare tactic which felt extra weak here; hell, one of the dreams actually manages to cancel out another scare, because Yoon-hee wakes up and it's an early scene! Oh come on! Obviously the audience realizes Seo-yeon knows about the book talking shit, but for some reason Yoon-hee is willfully ignorant or in denial or something; she completely ignores signs and moments of controlled outrage from Seo-yeon. Honestly, Yoon-hee is a bit of a bitch herself, and you may find yourself cheering on Seo-yeon as she enacts her scheme for revenge.

You see, unbeknownst to Yoon-hee, the reason why Seo-yeon moved to Vietnam was to avoid the betrayal she felt from all her so-called friends. We don't get a lot of backstory on the relationship dynamics, but we are introduced to some douchebags at the start of the film who hate Seo-yeon. Apparently Seo-yeon liked the one guy, but he had a girlfriend or's not clear. This guy arranges for Seo-yeon to meet him in a park where she is greeted with flunkies who beat her up. The guy then appears and tells the flunkies to do what they want with her, which is implied to be rape, as the guy looks on and that girlfriend videotapes it with glee. To make matters worse, Yoon-hee, as her best friend, writes the terrible things about Seo-yeon driving her into a deranged rage resulting in her mental instability and even her hair falling out. At some point Seo-yeon learns about Muoi and plans to use the ghost to seek revenge on her behalf. In essence, you can understand why Seo-yeon is drawn to the legend about Muoi, because their circumstances are similar. But this is where the movie starts to lose me. Like I said in the first review, why is Yoon-hee the focus of the revenge?! I get that they were close friends, but I swear there's more to their relationship than friendship, and there are moments to support this. I mean, come on, Seo-yeon says something about wanting a world with just the two of them and does that whole sharing the earbuds on the MP3 player're telling me this is all innocent friendship shit you do with your friends too? And you know what, Seo-yeon is rich, good looking, lives in a mansion, appears to have nice friends, gets flirted with casually and seems like a good sport...let the revenge thing go, I'll gladly date you! You're not the Count of Muoi Cristo. Okay, I apologize for that was both stupid and beyond lame, and I am a total disgrace.

By the end, we learn Seo-yeon bought this particular mansion because it was the current resting place of the Muoi painting. Yoon-hee consults the monks that were guarding Muoi in the past, and they believe stabbing Seo-yeon in the heart will somehow defeat Muoi. While it doesn't make much sense, Seo-yeon painted her own portrait and plans to exchange places with Muoi in a makeshift sacrifice. Yoon-hee does end up stabbing Seo-yeon which is the sacrifice needed in order to unleash Muoi, but apparently she needs a body to act through and, thus, possesses Yoon-hee. As I mentioned in the last review, Muoi coming out of the painting is the best part and looks impressive. The momentum is slightly hindered though because the possessed Yoon-hee decides to wait a few months before seeking revenge. Well damn, Muoi, what were you doing--taking in the sights? Get to work! Finally we see the bitches that messed with Seo-yeon get killed, but I feel they got off a lot easier than Yoon-hee. Seriously, these people are tormented all of two minutes before dying, but Yoon-hee is possessed seemingly forever. The film then ends with Muoi hearing some chick screaming and is going to turn into a superhero or something and save people? Well, at least that's what I got from the ending.

Overall, this is a good movie, but it has a lot of wasted potential. The acting is good from the leads, especially Ye-ryun Cha, who plays Seo-yeon. The mystery is compelling and comes at you in small enough doses to maintain a high level of intrigue. The legend surrounding Muoi is interesting and leaves a lot of room to expand in a sequel (although that is highly unlikely). I do like the joint effort of Korea and Vietnam working together to make this movie, and I always encourage such situations; furthermore, the landscape looks lovely. On the other hand, the scares are good, but would have been significantly better if they were genuinely integral to the plot rather than ambiguously tacked on as dreams to pad out the film. The plot can be overly complicated, and things don't always make sense especially in regards to Yoon-hee as the focus of the revenge. I do recommend this movie, but it's more of a revenge flick with horror elements shoehorned in as dreams at the last minute. Worth a view, for sure, but it helps having someone to explain things since the film itself doesn't present things as clearly.

Notable Moment: I still like the moment when Muoi comes out of the painting best. The noose, quite literally, tying Muoi to the painting as she claws her way out looks great.

Final Rating: 6/10

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sadako 3D 2 Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Sadako somehow has a daughter, or something, and the zany antics that ensue.

Review: What the hell is this? Remember when "Ringu" was considered, by many, to be the scariest movie of all time? At this point, Sadako has been reduced to the likes of Freddy, Jason, etc. Sadako's not scary anymore, she's essentially an actress in a dress and wig, her motives make no sense, and there are no longer explanations regarding how she keeps coming back. I'd like to say this movie is worse than the last entry, but in some ways it's better; however, this film is still loaded with plot holes, continuity errors, shenanigans, and flat out stupidity galore. Plus, I still don't know if this is supposed to be a reboot or if the past entries matter in the continuity? Obviously the whole VHS idea went out the window a long time ago. Regardless, as with the last entry, watching the other films in this series does not matter (not even "Ringu"), and you could probably still get by without watching "Sadako 3D" truth be told.

I guess I'll begin with the improvements, because there are only a handful. When compared to the last movie, there are a lot more scares and they are done better. "Sadako 3D" seriously was like "oh shit, Sadako's hand coming out of a computer aaaahhh so scary" then repeat that same scene five times over. This movie is filled with cheap, jump scares too, like Sadako pointlessly appearing and coming at the screen for no discernible reason, but there are cool moments like the psychiatrist blending in with the wall, Fuko's mom in the bathtub, and Takanori suddenly transforming into a monster; on the other hand, the better scares don't happen until the movie is at least half over. This time the story takes itself more seriously, for better or worse, and tries to present dramatic moments accompanied by scares rather than the over the top, borderline, action scenes in the last movie. The effects felt traditional, with less shitty CGI (although it is still present), and, thus, had me rolling my eyes less. Lastly, there was this indescribable sense that the production values were increased or the cinematography was better. I word it like this because the production value could have gone down, but they appeared to make better use of their money or used superior camera trickery; things just looked more aesthetically pleasing and fitting of the tone of previous entries.

On to the downside...I hardly know where to begin. First off, the story makes no sense. If you recall, Takanori and Akane somehow defeated Sadako in the last movie and now they suddenly have a kid and it has half of Sadako's spirit or some bullshit like that. I honestly don't know. Akane has contained the other half of Sadako within her body, and they don't want the two to reunite because it will magically bring Sadako back. What? How? What exactly are the limitations and parameters of Sadako's powers?! If this wasn't dumb enough, this entire plot is made irrelevant, because there's another kid out there that is supposed to be Sadako's daughter. Huh? Okay forget everything--how the fuck is Sadako even getting one person pregnant let alone two? What exactly is Sadako hoping to accomplish? I thought she wanted to possess Akane? Connected to this stupidity is the fact that Takanori and Akane are barely in the movie, which sucks, because Satomi Ishihara was like the best part of "Sadako 3D;" Akane apparently has spent five years in some room looking like a cross between sleeping beauty and rapunzel--isn't she supposed to be as powerful as Sadako? The new lead, Fuko, is okay, but she's got nothing on Ms. Ishihara--and what's up with this drama with a suicidal mom? I don't remember Takanori ever mentioning this fact which he would have considering Akane almost committed suicide! Why are characters we thought were dead alive? Seriously, that little bitch boy who allegedly brought back Sadako--how and why would he be alive? Didn't we see Sadako kill him? Wasn't the whole point of the idiotic "cursed video file" was that it showed his suicide at the hands of Sadako? Well, he's back and magically knows everything that's going on. Yeah, okay. Remember that dumb detective who died the moment they went to Sadako's well? He's back too! All he does is explain things to a different detective (that this detective should have figured out on his own) and then he dies anyway two minutes later! But then again, maybe he'll be back for part 3! Yeah, that's right, this movie tries to pull a fucking "Halloween 5" and set up some mysterious character lurking in the background that will segue into, what I hope will be titled, "Sadako 3DD." In this movie you have people committing suicide similarly to "Sadako 3D," but there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to how the victims are chosen since the video file is gone. It has something to do with the other Sadako daughter, but, still, how does that explain the random appearances of Sadako's classic form and the occasional person inexplicably possessed by Sadako? Another thing that annoyed me was reused sets. We see what has to be the bridge from "Occult" and definitely that spiral staircase from "Tormented 3D" and "Shock Labyrinth 3D." What the hell? It wouldn't be a big deal if these settings weren't crucial to those movies' plots yet trivialized in this film. Finally, I was bored a lot more compared to the last movie. As I said, it takes half the movie for the plot to get rolling, and at that point I'm already too annoyed with the plot holes, continuity errors, contrivances, and sheer shenanigans of the premise.

I don't know what to make of this. Everything that made "Ringu" great has been completely sucked out--the well has run dry (pun intended). I can appreciate pure lameness when a franchise is milked to death, but they better tie up the loose ends in a damn good way for part 3. As it stands, nothing makes sense and they couldn't even offer up a reasonable explanation as to why Sadako is still a threat. I mean, if she was out of commission for a decade, until some bitch boy offered up dead bodies in the well to somehow resurrect her, how does she come back this easily and can impregnate people? I know Kayako was inspired by Sadako, but now the roles have reversed...and it didn't make sense in "The Grudge" franchise either. Even though I'm rating them the same, I think the last entry was technically better and more entertaining; if you're looking for mediocrity, this may be the movie for you. I suppose if you liked "Sadako 3D," and are interested in the idea of further entries, this movie shouldn't disappoint since it's more of the same and pretty much establishes a part 3 to boot.

Notable Moment: When Fuko envisions her mom dead in the bathtub for the first time. It's quite sudden and she looked decently scary.

Final Rating: 5/10

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Shiver Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A serial killer relentlessly pursues his ideal victim in order to add her head to his growing collection.

Review: Time now to check off another film from Danielle Harris' resume as I review "Shiver;" which shouldn't be confused with the similarly titled "Shivers." God knows I can't go too long without watching one of Ms. Harris' films, or, for that matter, the films of Ami Dolenz, Haruka Ayase, etc.; it's actually a considerably long list of beloved babes! Anyway, this is another forgettable, Lifetime-esque movie with an okay story, but hilariously bad execution. It's a shame too, because this felt like a step up from Ms. Harris' usual low budget exploits. I think the main problem is that they didn't know when to wrap things up, and I felt there was a serious lack of a twist to spice things up. There's also a lot of filler despite the fact that they could have easily padded the film out with more creepy moments and backstory. Considering this was a 90 movie, you'd be annoyingly surprised by how little actually happens.

For some reason the film opens 12 years prior to the main events as we see the serial killer, who refers to himself as "the griffin," killing some little hotty. Surely, by establishing a scene in the past, that must hold some relevance to the central plot, right? Of course not! We are then introduced to our lead, Wendy, played by my dear Ms. Harris, who is set up to be a wimp in order for you to notice the not so drastic transition to becoming strong. I kept waiting for Wendy's past to cross with that of the killer, perhaps explaining why she seems sheltered, but I guess this was supposed to be character development? At the same time, I was expecting some visceral scenes showing us the deranged mind of the killer, but instead he seems to randomly choose girls and we hardly get an explanation concerning his motives except that he "had a rough childhood." Really--that's the best you got?! This is a guy who beheads his female victims, rapes their dead bodies, records their dying pleas, taunts the police, leaves griffin idols at the crime scenes, and seems to be fucking Houdini when it comes to escaping death, and all you've got is he had a fucking rough childhood?! Grrr! Basically, all that happens in this movie is that the killer comes after Wendy, she escapes, the police say she's fine, and then the killer pops up again. I'm serious, this exact scenario happens three times with a total of four encounters with the killer before he is finally killed. Obviously the killer is fixated on Wendy, because he can't seal the deal with killing her, but you'd think the police would keep an eye on her after the first debacle. And the only reason why the killer is after her to begin with is some half-assed explanation that he works at a jewelry story and goes after the ladies that shop there. How would no one have made that connection considering he goes after them the same night they buy something?! There's also some lame drama with Wendy's mom and the main detective and whatever. The movie tries to end with a fucking zinger too as if that was necessary. "We don't know how to end the movie even though it should have ended like 30 minutes ago"..."I know, add a fucking zinger shot as if the killer could conceivably be alive!" Even if he were alive, what, he's coming after Wendy for a fifth time?!

This movie started off with such promise and went downhill all too fast. The killer could have been memorable, if not awesome, if they had actually presented him as menacing and crazier; I'm dead serious, he reminded me more of Mr. Duncan from "Home Alone 2" than anything (and that's not who you want your killer to emulate). The background characters are all useless except to pad out the film with scenes that should have been about Wendy and the killer's past and/or connection; likewise, the opening scene should have been incorporated into the main plot at some point. I can understand a movie with the killer seeking out "the one that got away," but you can't have this same process repeated four times and call it a day. With all that said, it is mildly entertaining with a few cool moments and ideas. Of course the highlight for me is Ms. Harris herself which is the only reason I bothered to watch this. I can't recommend this unless you are accustomed to weak crime thrillers on par with Lifetime originals and/or a fan of Ms. Harris.

Notable Moment: Probably the opening kill. The girl was really cute and considering this scene is set 12 years earlier, you think it will have some relevance to the plot, but, alas, it does not.

Final Rating: 5/10

Friday, March 21, 2014

Tales From the Dead Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: East meets West in this horror anthology made by Americans but starring an all Japanese cast speaking Japanese.

Review: This is one of the most unique films I've had the pleasure to get a hold of in recent years--an American made Asian horror movie. This is the kind of dream project I'd want to be working on myself, although, I would have cast my darling Rika in it for sure! Actually, I think they missed an opportunity to have each segment feature a different culture (ala the "Three Extremes" movies) but that's fine; this film focuses on a Japanese cast. The stories are greatly inspired and modeled after "The Twilight Zone" with each segment possessing this, certain, nostalgic vibe while involving twist endings where the characters get their comeuppance; the wraparound is even in black and white. I really liked the approach to everything, but there are some noticeable flaws that bring down the, otherwise, original experience. First, the attention to detail is severely lacking in presenting a genuine Japanese tale. I understand the budget limitations were probably playing a major part in this respect, but there were aspects that could have been worked around. For example, we see shots of the houses, the architecture, the cars, etc. and it is clearly not Japanese. Some random guy has a pistol on him--uh, highly unlikely. The police literally have "police" written on their jackets and their uniforms are way off. The local police have weird badges to boot. Japan doesn't have giant, wide open cemeteries with big ass headstones. Eh I could go on, and I am nitpicking, but I'm just some white American guy and I can clearly see the flaws (granted, I am a dork who has probably watched more Asian movies than most Asians but still)...the Japanese cast didn't think something was wrong? My main gripe is that you can use filming techniques to mask these inconsistencies...unless this is supposed to be some magical world where everything is the same but all humans are now Japanese. Hmm...

Wraparound/Shoko the Widow: Surprisingly the wraparound is the best segment of this film. I really loved the idea behind how to connect the stories, the gradual buildup between each segment, and, as I mentioned, that black and white-look works wonders. The TZ sensation is definitely the strongest during these cutaways and it added to the intrigue. When the movie begins, we see a woman, named Shoko, ardently watching a news report about some woman getting away with murder. Later Shoko is shown to be stranded in the woods when she is picked up by a girl, named Tamika, who claims she has the ability to converse with the dead and offers some tea for Shoko to drink. As the two drive along, Tamika relates various tales to Shoko that all have some little lesson to be learned. Tamika typically tries to explain the morality behind the stories whereas Shoko takes a more pessimistic attitude. Eventually Tamika reveals that she isn't taking Shoko where she wants to go and has one last story that she thinks Shoko will like. We learn that Shoko was a part of some pact with a bunch of bitches to murder their husbands and take their money; yes, because it's just that easy to get away with murder you can openly admit it in front of tons of people. Shoko apparently was the last one left to follow through with this scheme, and, in turn, this motivates her to finally muster the courage to kill her husband who appeared to be a nice guy. Tamika explains that the husband's ghost came to her and said he wanted to be with Shoko forever, so Tamika obliged and put poison in the tea. The film ends with Tamika asking Shoko's ghost to tell her own story. Despite being predictable as hell, there was just something so satisfying to the wraparound and it felt original enough in presentation.

Home Sweet Home: This is probably the second best of the group with a cool twist and ironic circumstances--just the way the TZ would have handled things. A family that has recently found their son, in a mysteriously catatonic state, moves into a new home and begins to notice ghostly occurrences. Somehow this family contacts Tamika and her sister, Manami, as they try to get to the bottom of the situation. I wish more time was spent establishing the adventures of Tamika and Manami since they are ghost hunters of sorts, but I guess you can't have everything. Anyway, the previous owners of the home were murdered a year ago, and the current family would like Tamika to resolve the haunting. Tamika has a vision of the original home owners as a miserable couple prepared to murder each other: the husband has a gun and the wife has poisoned the husband's drink. But before the mayhem can commence, a thief or tweaker or whatever comes to the home and takes them hostage. The wife swipes at the thief's face and he stabs her to death; the husband runs and is shot. We discover that the thief was, in fact, the current family's son. As the son was about to make his escape from the home he drank from the husband's glass and was poisoned, leading to his catatonic state. Tamika tells the current family that the ghosts simply love the home and will go away on their own except, in actuality, the ghosts will torment the catatonic son. A just fate and fitting end for the story; this segment should have also led the viewer to understand the way Tamika would use her ability in the wraparound.

Chalk: This is probably the worst of the segments since its entire premise would appear to be a continuity error. Detectives are investigating a murder at a seedy motel that looks absolutely nothing like what you would see in Japan. The one douche detective is apparently a former member of the yakuza and there's something about the guy that was murdered knowing about this fact or whatever. The murdered guy had a flash drive with information on it, and, after stalling the investigation, the detective tries to recover said flash drive later that night. Supposedly after the detective murdered the guy, he drew a lame chalk outline of the body as if to be some kind of calling card although we never get an explanation of why, and he seems genuinely confused by this at first uhh okay. This is made more nonsensical when we see a flashback of the detective murdering the guy, and a maid hears the gunshot. So the detective would know police were coming and he needed to get out of there, yet we are to believe he spent time to draw that chalk outline?! Yeah, okay! The story ends with the detective about to leave the motel when he becomes engulfed in the chalk and crumbles to dust; later the other detectives figure out what was going on. I understand what they were going for with this segment, but they failed to deliver in pretty much every regard.

The Dirty Business of Time: This segment was so-so but could have potentially been more interesting; also, I don't know if this segment even understood its own rules since nothing makes any sense. We are introduced to a cliche, down on his luck, kind of guy, named Yoshi, who is on the brink of suicide. Earlier Yoshi was rescued by an unusual man and then this same man intervenes when Yoshi intends to shoot himself; you see what I mean with all the guns...Japan does not have guns this readily available to the public. The shady man offers Yoshi lots of money for the time left in his life. Yoshi agrees with this deal, for some odd reason, and immediately buys lots of random crap. The only problem is that Yoshi starts to lose the actual years from his life which makes any money pointless if you can't enjoy it. Yoshi learns his old love interest has been married and his mother died; then, after talking to some dead schoolgirl, he has rapidly aged into an old man. This segment ends with Yoshi using his remaining money to buy other people's time so he can live longer...I guess. Like I said, this doesn't make a lot of sense and was not entirely thought out, and who the hell was the mysterious man? I can appreciate the definite TZ feel, with weird bargains and learning a harsh life lesson, but the TZ episodes usually made sense.

Overall, I'm mostly rating this movie as high as I am due to the originality in the concept and using the TZ as the inspiration for the stories. The wraparound was a really cool idea and a fun way to tie the entries together with cohesion and intrigue. Obviously I am fan of Americans trying to tell their own Asian horror stories, but things could have been done better. The low budget is clearly visible and that amateur feel to the direction and presentation certainly wasn't helping anything. I'd love to see another attempt, maybe even a sequel, and this time apply more cultures in the process to spice things up. I mean, America is supposed to be known for its diversity, so let's have an anthology series with every kind of culture offering up horror tales. Either way, I would say check this one out merely to show support for the ideas, but understand that this isn't exactly going to blow you away.

Notable Moment: During "The Dirty Business of Time" segment when we see, perhaps, the worst striptease ever. I mean, that chick had a nice ass and all, but I haven't seen such lackluster dancing since my 6th grade formal. And she has on way too much clothes for me to believe it.

Final Rating: 6/10

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Atrocious Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Siblings, on vacation with their family, investigate a local urban legend only to discover more than they anticipated.

Review: I think this may be the first Spanish horror film I've, welcome to the party, Spain. For some reason this has been marketed as a "Paranormal Activity" clone, but, other than the found-footage style, they don't have a lot in common. I'd say it was closer to Blair Bitch if you feel compelled to make a comparison, but I think it can stand alone on its own merit. Anyway, this is another mixed bag for me. Unlike the numerous other films I've covered that wasted their potential, "Atrocious" had all the cards in place to make this an unforgettable experience and then completely blew it with an ending so unbelievably stupid and out of left field that I was genuinely infuriated. Even though the movie is fairly short, the buildup is calculatingly slow complemented by excellent atmosphere that immerses you in the story unfolding. Unfortunately, you are brought to the edge of your seat, expecting to be thrown off a cliff by all the tension, only to find yourself saying, "What?!" and "That makes no sense!." I suppose they were going for an unexpected twist, but, had they gone with a straightforward ending, it would have turned out more favorable; at the same time, the ending is not original, so what was the point?!

I want to go over the urban legend established in the story separately so you can understand the cool setup they had. Supposedly some girl (we can assume she's young), named Melinda, got lost in the woods or fell into a well (or both) and her body was never found. When people go into these woods, and become lost themselves, they may see or hear the girl. If you hear her in the distance, she is actually behind you. The stories are ambiguous as to her motives, with some saying she helps you find your way, while others make her appear more malevolent or even the devil in the form of a girl. To add to the intrigue, the main characters are staying at a home that has a hedge-maze attached to these woods. I think this material speaks for itself with endless possibilities, but most, if not all, turns out to be a red herring.

Okay, so the main story involves brother and sister combo, Christian and July, who have their own videos investigating urban legends and such, when they go on a vacation at a family mansion or something; along with them is their younger brother, mom, dad, and doggy. Christian and July are obviously interested in filming and understanding more about the story of Melinda so that's why the whole film ends up as found-footage; eh, it's not the most original motivation, but it works nonetheless. A friend of the family is the one that tells them about the urban legend, but the mom and dad are extra shady, telling no one to go into the hedge-maze and the gate leading into it is locked. Of course the two siblings don't listen and they come across various landmarks in the hedge-maze to help guide your way: benches, a gazebo of sorts, and, interestingly enough, a well that's off the beaten path. At one point they also think they see someone crouching in the maze, but, for some reason, don't bother to investigate further. If things weren't creepy enough, the siblings go into a locked basement at the house that has all manner of suspicious items that you know will have relevance by the end.

Later, the dog goes missing and the siblings try to find out what happened to him. The last we saw of him he was barking at something before July had cut out the camera feed for some unknown reason. While wandering around the maze, the two stumble upon a trail of blood that leads directly into the well--almost as if someone, or something, dragged the dog back into the well with them! The dog is, of course, dead and at the bottom of the well. I felt the siblings should have been a bit more unnerved considering the story about Melinda and that their dog appears to have been dragged into the well right after taunting Melinda's alleged ghost...but maybe that's just me. The two decide not to tell the youngest brother about the dog's death and plan to retrieve his body out of the well the next day. Oh, I should mention, at some point the dad goes back to work, for some reason, leaving the family alone in the woods; this will become important when explaining the idiocy of the ending!

At night, the mom explains that the youngest brother has disappeared and they suspect he went into the maze to find the dog. This leads to a frantic pursuit into the maze that you know won't end well. The mom and siblings are each separated by a considerable distance and none, except the mom, knows their way around the maze. The camera can be a bit shaky during this sequence, but I find that the anticipation as to what will happen next overrides that feeling. Christian and July find each other and hear a strange scream in the distance whereby Christian thinks it's the mom and July doesn't think it sounds the same. Even though they had just agreed to stick together, Christian goes running after the voice idiotically ditching July again. Finding only a flashlight on the ground, Christian becomes lost and wanders around aimlessly, unable to reunite with July either. Out of nowhere Christian is grabbed from behind and dragged a few feet before breaking free and sprinting his heart out. This is probably the most intense moment in the film as Christian frantically runs around bends and turns within the maze--we never know if anything is about to jump out and we know something is behind him regardless. Sadly, the tension just fizzles out as the scares are not capitalized upon. Things pick up again as Christian finds a bloody July tied to the gazebo, but she is conveniently unable to speak. Once more, instead of properly making use of the scares, we have a lot of tension but no followthrough as the two somehow make their way out of the maze. Yet again, the tension rises when the two discover, what appears to be, the charred body of their brother in the fireplace when the power goes out.

I guess the makers wanted this sensation of a roller coaster, going up and down, but I felt a steady barrage of scares with a maintained momentum would have served to be more effective. Christian hides July in a large closet as an axe plunges through one of the entrance doors; Christian himself flees to the third floor and locks himself in his room. Someone or thing pulls at the door, but then we cut to daylight and Christian slowly makes his way downstairs believing the coast may be clear. He checks on where he left July but only finds signs of a bloody struggle. Then he hears a voice coming from the basement and idiotically goes down there instead of running away! There is a pointless interjection of news reports explaining to us that the bodies of the three kids were found dead along with the family friend from earlier, but then we cut back to Christian for a final explanation. So the voice that is playing is from an old VHS of the mom dealing with a psychiatrist. We learn she has had various mental problems as a child but more so since she killed her third kid, a girl born after Christian and July, but before the youngest brother. She has some split personality, named Elvira, that apparently the mom claims talks and visits her. In other words, the mom's other personality is the one killing everyone all along. The movie simply ends with a close up of the mom when taken over by the Elvira personality on the VHS. LAME! There are more problems with this scenario than you could possibly fathom! How could this plot point, about the mom being crazy, not be mentioned earlier? No one is worried about setting her off? Why would the dad moronically leave the kids alone knowing his wife was like this? Christian and July don't remember any of this? What exactly did the mom do to allow herself to be released and maintain custody of her kids? Why the fuck would you have another kid with this woman? How does she have this many mental disorders all at once--postpartum depression, some weird childhood psychosis, and dissociative identity disorder?! Oh come on. What exactly brought this on right now? The movie makes you think it's the dark or something as a trigger...uh hello, this isn't her first night ever is it?! As many endless directions they could have taken this movie in, that's how many  problems there are with that ending. And no, it's not original in the least and would have been a thousand times scarier with an actual ghost. In fact, the movie deliberately fakes you out with contrivances that add to the stupidity rather than enhancing what would have made for a badass ghost story. Imagine how awesome of a final shot it could have been with maybe Christian being dragged into the well backward by a mysterious force and then the camera cutting out as it hits the bottom. I kept thinking we'd at least see some Samara/Sadako-esque moment!

Overall, it's tough to rate this film, because it's really great leading up to the disappointing ending. I mean, they nailed the atmosphere and tension perfectly; I was completely engrossed in the action and was seriously on edge wondering what may be lurking around the maze or be caught momentarily on the camera without the characters aware of it. The urban legend works well enough and opens up all manner of directions to take the plot while simultaneously establishing potential scares galore. Without a doubt, the first hour of this film is amazing and puts you on edge. Unfortunately, I have to lower the rating tremendously for making the entire experience feel pointless due to a nonsensical twist that was trying to step out of the box, only to step into another box of cliches. And for realzies, it takes a special level of incompetence to turn your own cool ideas into contrivances needlessly; who does that, and why would you? I want to recommend this film, but it's hard to do when I know most will be as disappointed as I was.

Notable Moment: When Christian and July find a trail of blood leading back into the well. Oh man, what a waste to do something truly crazy with this material.

Final Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Double Feature: The McPherson Tape and Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County Review

(I couldn't even find a real poster for this so enjoy the snapshot)

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Aliens rudely crash a family get-together in these found footage films.

Review: First, let me say I will refer to "The McPherson Tape" as "TMT" and "Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County" as "AA" from here on out (no, not alcoholics anonymous); I really don't feel like writing out these ridiculous titles over and over again. Second, these films have multiple alternate titles and edited versions, so I have no idea what title or variation an individual may come across when dealing with these bad boys. Anyway, you may recall back to "My Top 10 Scariest Movies of All Time" list where I mentioned "AA" as an honorary mention. You were probably thinking, "what the hell is this guy talking about?" Well, "AA" needs a bit of an explanation for why I found it to be really scary upon an initial viewing when it first aired on TV. Before Blair Bitch had become popular, and epitomized the found footage concept, there were a handful of films that existed beforehand establishing the genre; as you may have easily guessed, these are two such films.

Essentially, "TMT" is the original version of "AA," but its release was so miniscule it's no wonder hardly anyone was aware of its existence. However, almost a decade later, "AA" was made by the same director as an update of "TMT" with more money and played into perfect timing to freak me out. Around this late '90s era there was a plethora of shit like "Alien Autopsy" that were purported to be real, and "AA" exploited this newfound trend. The version I remember originally airing was displayed in such a way to lead the viewer to believe the events were real...or the possibility to be real. I distinctly remember no ending credits since that obviously would have been a dead giveaway. At the same time, the ending to the version I saw was much creepier and foreboding than the ending you typically find while scouring the internet; the two movies depict people being aggressively abducted by aliens (in case the title didn't give that away). I was very much confused and thought in terms of whether it was a hoax or real, and the thought of it being real disturbed me greatly! Suffice to say, it was the way in which the network edited and aired the film that made it much scarier than it truly was--leading the audience to believe these people were genuinely missing and that it was up to the individual to believe whether or not the events were real. I know now that it was merely a movie, but, damn it, the context can really shape things differently! To sum my experience up: an unassuming, 13 year old boy casually watches a "movie" one night alleging to be the found footage at a missing persons crime scene. Said film depicts a family realistically abducted by aliens while interjecting "experts" discussing the validity of the tape. The film then ends with an alien coming out from behind a door and closing text explaining that the family has not been seen since. Keep in mind, there were no disclaimers or warnings, and in the version I saw those bastards deliberately cut off the ending credits--oh, and I had no internet in those days!

"The McPherson Tape:" I should mention how rare this movie is--I didn't even know it existed until very recently and thankfully someone uploaded it on youtube. So, the story is that, while celebrating a little girl's birthday party, three brothers stumble upon an alien spaceship in the woods. The aliens, noticing the brothers, follow them back to their home, and the rest of the family, as they slowly torment the group. At one point you think one of the brothers kills an alien and they lock it in one of the bedrooms, but you never get a good enough look at the creature. The aliens employ various technological and, seemingly, psychic instruments as they pick off family members. In the end, the alien in the bedroom escapes and later we see the aliens come into the home as the video cuts out. Then we receive a prompt to call a number if you know the whereabouts of any of the missing people; sadly the number is an obvious fake with the infamous "555."

There are two huge things they did right when making this: fantastic improvisation in the dialogue and that natural '80s graininess works wonders. At times the acting can appear a bit fake, but, for the most part, it feels convincing considering how few cuts there are; we're talking huge intervals of dialogue before a cut (which are masked or timed well). More so, there is a natural flow to the banter between the family members that felt realistic and much appreciated. As for the look and feel, it was genuinely shot on a cheap '80s camera and that indirectly lends to its sense of realism especially to today's audience; it looks exactly like the kind of shit you'd have in your own "home movies" collection. On the other hand, while the running time is odd enough to enforce the sense of realism, it hurts, in a way, because the movie is way too short. The budget is noticeably low when dealing with the aliens themselves who look like kids in black clothes with a Halloween mask on. You'd think with a shorter running time, they'd cram as much action in as possible, but there were many boring moments where it's like, "okay, anytime now, aliens!." Finally, there are blatantly stupid blunders like photos showing the missing family members and then forgetting to include the guy holding the camera! Overall, it's cool for what it is and I commend the ingenuity in its production and originality, but not much happens, it feels cheap, and noticeable flaws hinder the aimed goal of making you think it could be real. Oh, and there's not a single scare to be had.

"Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County:" I've already gone into great detail relating the circumstances and context as to why I felt this film was scary, so let's talk about the changes compared to "TMT." The story now takes place on Thanksgiving, includes more family members, higher production value, increased focus on the scares, and the acting has less improvisation. There was definitely a greater attention to detail and emphasis on wanting the events to feel real--adding fake experts to provide various testimonials helped add a certain flair absent in "TMT." The acting is debatably the same, more or less, with a decent sense of realism occasionally cancelled out by bouts of outright shoddiness (you don't know how often I wanted to kill that stupid little girl!). The aliens look better, but this is due to a better understanding of how to distort the camera to hide flaws; although, the aliens sheer presence distorts the camera? Uh huh. There is more room for speculation toward the alien's motivation since the original was like, "how dare you see us!" This time the brothers interrupt the aliens messing with a cow and shoot at them at one point--possibly provoking the aliens to become aggressive. But fuck, if I saw an alien trying to steal a potential cheeseburger in the making, I'd go all Will Smith on them and punch them in the face saying, "welcome to Earth!"

This may be redundant, but I'll quickly break down the story since I want to address certain ways the film was edited. With the family gathered for Thanksgiving, we get a better feel for who each character is and the relationship to one another that "TMT" lacked. Furthermore, the aliens cause electrical problems which leads the brothers to investigate, thus, running into the aliens and their shady operations; I don't know if the brothers had a real reason to be in the woods in the original. The brothers are more reluctant to get back to celebrating than they were in the original which makes more sense. The aliens break into the house early on in a "Signs" manner. Right about this point is when a major deviation occurs between different edits. In every version I've watched since the original airing, the alien that comes from behind the door is at the middle of the film rather than the end. I don't like that edit, so I will stick to the original order of events for dramatic purposes. One of the brothers locks an alien in a room and then when it tries to break free they shoot it...they think it's dead as with the original. This comes back to make more sense with the original ending given that this particular alien is seen to disappear. The brothers, other than camera man, still run off to disappear permanently, but during this time the aliens screw with the family in new ways not present originally. Not everything makes sense, because there appears to be no limit to what the aliens can do. So...they can lock and unlock doors, turn on and off individual appliances as well as all electricity, send out little laser probes that make you have seizures until you die, telepathically control your mind to the point that you seem possessed, use sonic weaponry of some kind or it's more use of the telepathy, freeze you in place while wiping your memory, distort the camera's focus at their mere presence, and turn off a camera with a Jedi-like wave of the hand? Oh come on. That's a bit much for some little bitches wearing black jumpsuits and seemingly wielding only a flashlight lightsaber! Anyway, the typical edits end like the original film with the aliens coming into the home and cutting out the footage. In the ending I prefer, the camera man appears like the last one left and he goes to his room when an alien suddenly appears from behind the door and slams it shut. This imagery is fucking scary, and considering you are to assume its the alien that was shot, you know he's pissed. This makes for a more fitting ending since we see the little guy coming right at the camera as the film ends leaving you unnerved as to the fate of our dear camera man.

Overall, these are decent movies and make for an interesting watch one way or another. I like "AA" more, because it holds a special place in my heart, and I know how unexpectedly scary it could potentially be with the right editing and situation. I mean, people were freaked out when "AA" originally aired, and I was unfortunately one of those initially duped. While both have serious flaws, they more than compensate in other avenues. Both deserve extra praise for probably inspiring Blair Bitch; yes, I know these weren't the first found-footage films, but they established the model Blair Bitch would later make famous, and that goes double for "The Last Broadcast." I know these are obscure films (check out youtube if in doubt), but if you can get ahold of them, I think you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Notable Moment: In "AA" when the alien comes out from behind the door and approaches Tommy. It still kind of unnerves me and made for the superior ending.

Final Rating: TMT: 5.5/10 and AA: 6.5/10

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Curse of Chucky Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After receiving a mysterious package in the mail, a woman and her family are tormented by Chucky.

Review: You may recall back to my "Seed of Chucky" review--I HATED it! Well, thankfully this newest entry is a step in the right direction and a huge improvement over all the sequels in general. I'm still kind of baffled this movie was released as direct to DVD rather than theatrically, because it would have done well considering it was the fans that requested the change of pace. I know this film was rumored to be a reboot, side story, or was going to selectively ignore some of the sequels (ala "Halloween: H20"), but, for the most part, it is a genuine followup to part 5 except that it changes the tone back to being serious. We finally see a return to form with an attempt to make the events of the film scary again; whether it succeeds in this regard is up to you to decide, but I thought it was effective. Now this doesn't mean Chucky isn't acting like his typical self, because he is, it just means it won't be as off the charts stupid as parts 4 and 5. At the same time, those expecting to see more of Glen and Glenda will be disappointed, although, is there really someone out there that wanted to see that storyline continued? If so, please punch yourself in the face for me...thanks.

First I'll go over all the improvements that brought the story back on track. The best aspect is that they were still able to maintain continuity while altering the comedic tone back to being serious. This transition wasn't flawless, by any means, but nothing felt lost in the process and, in fact, added more room for the mythos to expand. Every entry has a moment that is referenced in some way, or is outright continued, with special attention to Andy, who makes a wonderful cameo...played by Alex Vincent no less. Obviously Chucky's reversion to the doll form helped increase his creepiness. Granted, the audience knows Chucky will come to life, so to speak, at one point, but the anticipation of when keeps you engaged. And, in all honesty, there are a few scary setups that make use of how part 1 approached things. The look, feel, and tone of the film is a return to classic horror albeit cliched at times. Chucky's kills are once again stealthy since that is when he's most effective; people seem to forget he's not Jason or Michael Myers here...he can't just overpower a grown adult despite what the retarded sequels want you to believe. There is a mystery as to why Chucky chose to attack this particular family that keeps things intriguing and was a major factor absent from every entry except part 1--which kept you wondering whether the killer was Chucky or Andy. Speaking of which, we eventually learn what led to the opening of part 1 with Chucky fleeing from the police. I usually don't like altering established storylines, but this revelation doesn't hinder or take anything away from part 1 so I'm okay with it. In case you're wondering, the mom was the seemingly last victim from Chucky's "Lakeshore strangler" days--you know, that title he never once lived up to--and he wants to finish the job. And finally, it was nice to see Brad Dourif in the flesh again as Charles Lee Ray rather than "Chucky" per se. I have been waiting for this entry to express that Mr. Dourif has done a fantastic job bringing the character to life throughout the series and putting up with the increasingly asinine situations the character has experienced.

Okay, so on to the negatives and some aspects I'm sure will annoy others. I've read many complain about Chucky's appearance, but I'm not seeing a problem necessarily, or, at least, it may be explained later. Chucky is wearing various prostheses to cover up the stitches from parts 4 and 5, but, when, most or all, are peeled away, his look continues to be off. I simply assumed not all of the prosthetics had been removed since there hadn't been a reason to take them all off, or maybe we will get an explanation in another entry. I'm more concerned with how Chucky was resurrected after part 5. Perhaps the two problems can reconcile together, but I hate it when one of these horror icons are killed and no explanation is given to how they come back. The possibility Chucky has a new body is apparent by the fact that he has stuffing in his body and that his head can come off and it not kill him. But if Chucky has a new body that hasn't turned "human" yet, then why would he still have the stitching? Right now these are continuity errors and/or plot holes, but they are clearly eager to make new entries with this serious tone again so I will be hopeful for an explanation. Anyway, there are some pointless characters added for the sake of bolstering the body count, again, but it's more annoying because it appeared they would have a more significant role to play. Why does no one find it suspicious that a mysterious doll is delivered the same day the mom appears to commit suicide? I'm not saying they should suspect the doll to be alive, but no one thinks to make a connection? Like maybe it meant something traumatic to the mom driving her to suicide? Eh, I'd find it suspicious as hell. I'm okay with Tiffany somehow possessing Jennifer Tilly, but why would she continue to help Chucky? Is she bipolar? It's also wonderful that we never hear mention of Glen, Glenda, or that stupid little amulet, but those plotlines continue as loose ends one way or another. Why would you end your movie with Chucky finally possessing some little girl only for him to be shown 6 months later back in the doll? Is that another plotline that will be dealt with in an upcoming sequel--what happened in those 6 months? And my last gripe is toward the absolute ineptness of the police in this franchise. Don Mancini must really hate the police or something, because they're always doing something deliberately stupid.

My best way to interpret this entry is that it's as loyal to the original as part 2 was, but it fails to truly capture the awesomeness of the original. There are certainly flaws present, but, for the most part, this is the Chucky movie we've been waiting for since part 3 came out. The main reason why I rated this movie higher than part 2 was because the nods to previous entries provides a certain level of entertainment that slightly makes it cooler. Overall, this movie greatly impressed me since I had zero expectations going into this. I was under the impression this was going to be a standalone entry involving Chucky, so I was pleasantly surprised they were able to include as many aspects from the other entries as they did while going back to a proper representation of the character. As for the franchise as a whole, it is weaker than other icons, as I expressed in the review for the first film, but at least it has ended stronger than most. At the same time, I commend the creators for not resorting to a remake yet since that's the point you're officially all out of ideas. A part 7 has been announced, and with all the room now open for expansion, I look forward to the next entry for the first time since part 2.

Notable Moment: The scene after the credits with Andy of course. Even though it contradicts the ending of the movie itself, it was a nice little bonus nonetheless.

Final Rating: 6/10

Seed of Chucky Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Once again, Chucky is resurrected to do whatever it is he's supposed to be doing in this franchise.

Review: If you want to skip everything I wrote, suffice to say, I can sum up my feelings as this: I HATE this fucking movie! I'm like Anakin burning from lava in Episode III, screaming at this piss poor excuse for a film. I hardly know where to begin with this entry, because I honestly never wanted to watch it again. Obviously it's, by far, the worst film in the entire franchise and plain stupid naturally. Chucky 4 tried to be comedic and they mindlessly chose to continue with that path despite the fan outrage. If you imagine pretty much every facet of storytelling that can go wrong in a production, this film suffers from virtually every single one of those problems. Of said problems, the biggest offenders are that the story makes no sense and lacks continuity, and the characters are annoying, idiotic, and inconsistent. I should also mention, from my perspective, the film failed hardest at the thing it was striving to accomplish most: to be funny. There wasn't a noticeable logic to the movies it tried to parody nor was there as much mockery of the franchise itself as with Chucky 4.

This is the first Chucky that doesn't open by showing us how Chucky comes back to life; even part one technically did this. Changing things up might not be too bad, but instead we have P.O.V. from Chucky's kid, who I will refer to as Glen, dreaming about killing. We learn that through some incomprehensible contrivance some random guy found Glen in the cemetery after part 4. Wait, what? How? Where were the rest of the police? This guy decides to keep Glen despite the fact that Glen would have just killed the one detective? Why is a random English guy roaming around a cemetery in the USA? Why would he keep that fucking amulet from part 4? And why would he think to keep Glen for a ventriloquism show rather than trying to profit off of reporting him to some scientific journal or something? Anyway, Glen doesn't know who or what he is until he sees a show promoting a Chucky inspired movie. Again...WHAT?! They are making a movie on the mere assumption that Chucky and Tiffany are killer dolls simply because they were at the crime scene? How the fuck do they know their names were Chuck and Tiffany?! What about all of Andy's ravings from the first 3 movies?! No association whatsoever? How do they know what Tiffany looked like considering she was burnt to a crisp? Oh how fucking convenient that Jennifer Tilly is cast in the film too, right (although I did like that)? Why would Glen have "Made in Japan" printed on his arm? Let's just say maybe Good Guys were manufactured in Japan (which is highly unlikely), why would we only be seeing this now? On top of that, it stills makes no sense why the Hollywood Chucky would have this mark since he's a production animatronic! How the hell does Glen go from the UK to the USA unnoticed? For the love of FUCK! The amount of contrivances, plot holes, and continuity errors apparent are nauseating.

The only good thing at this point is that the aforementioned Chucky-based movie takes place at Christmas--that would have been a better idea than this whole damn movie that's for sure! And Ms. Tilly making fun of herself is somewhat amusing, but you kind of need a working knowledge of her film career to fully appreciate it. I should stress that, while I do like the movie within a movie concept, this time it serves as yet another contrivance to offer up a way to bring the two dolls back to life without explaining how they could be reconstructed after part 4; and after a certain point we don't hear shit about that Hollywood movie what was the point really?! They don't even properly parody Hollywood since the jokes are sporadic, and they only point out the annoyance of the paparazzi which isn't exclusive to Hollywood to boot. Whatever, so Glen finds the animatronic Chucky and Tiffany dolls at the studio and only says the first line in Chucky's voodoo chant and apparently that's all it takes now to bring the two dolls back to life. I thought the fucking point of all this voodoo crap was that it let you switch bodies? What happened to that? Wasn't the point of why Chucky kept coming back was because he specifically possessed that Good Guy doll?! If you could bring Chucky back so easily, why did Tiffany need the original body from part 3? And when the dolls are brought back, their bodies automatically become "human" despite still having screws and shit? How convenient that now Chucky and Tiffany are on such good terms considering how they ended things in part 4. And why would Ms. Tilly show up looking for a candy bar? She was already shown at an audition, with some dude named "Redman," yet we are to believe she'd come all the way back for a fucking candy bar? And there's a pointless bonus plotline about Ms. Tilly and her driver somewhat having a relationship...why? Nothing makes sense no matter how hard you try to rationalize this shit. "It's not supposed to be serious, Ryan!" It doesn't have to be, but at least be respectful to your own stupid material that fans liked, and, on top of that, don't bombard me with constant retardation as if I should simply accept it. me here!

There are multiple characters added for the sake of bolstering the body count, but most interesting is Hannah Spearritt from "S Club 7" (ain't no party like an S club party!). Well, don't worry, she gets killed off needlessly and her character serves no purpose except to help with the Ms. Tilly related jokes. Moving along, the Chucky family somehow goes unnoticed as they get a ride in Ms. Tilly's limo and further go unnoticed hiding out in her attic as well. They concoct some idiotic plan to impregnate Ms. Tilly with Chucky's sperm to give birth to a voodoo baby for Glen to possess and Chucky and Tiffany will possess "Redman" and Ms. Tilly. In the meantime, this film stresses its unusual homage to "Glen or Glenda" since Glen is androgynous and Chucky and Tiffany would prefer he pick a gender respectfully; Glen also has some crazy, killer split personality conveniently. You'd think they would spend time parodying, I don't know, maybe horror movies! This is just like in part 4 where they appear to be inspired by "Bride of Frankenstein" but then use "Romeo and Juliet" instead. There is yet another pointless plot line about how they need to stop killing since Glen doesn't like it and they want to be a more normal family. this a fucking family drama or a Chucky movie?! I keep thinking of "Child's Play" and then back to this movie, and I'm trying to reconcile their coexistence in my mind but it's not working!

Eventually the voodoo baby is born, but it turns out to be twins as like the millionth contrivance thus far. Chucky comes to terms with being, well, Chucky, and expresses he likes being a killer doll; this is one of the few highlights all film. Tiffany doesn't like this, and neither does Glen I suppose, and they momentarily fight. This is pointless, because they still end up at the hospital and continue fighting after a nonsensical "The Shining" reference. Tiffany is seemingly killed before transferring her spirit into Ms. Tilly which is followed by Glen killing Chucky by dismemberment--oh come on!.We skip to five years later and obviously Tiffany was successful in possessing Ms. Tilly as if this is some cool twist. Glen has somehow possessed both voodoo twins...but having split personalities doesn't mean you have two souls, it would mean you have one fractured soul and then...oh fucking forget it! So blah blah blah, Chucky mails his arm to a birthday party they're throwing for the twins and it comes to life...the end? Uhhhhhhhhhhh aahhhhhh. I hate this movie.

The stupidity and asinine nature of this film speaks for itself I think. I swear, not a scene goes by without having a contrivance and/or continuity errors and plot holes. There were rare good ideas, like making fun of Ms. Tilly and the movie within a movie concept, but they are totally wasted and ultimately amount to padding or more contrivances. With every passing second of this film I could feel my blood boiling and my desire to go homicidal increasing. This movie sucks, plain and simple. There's nothing left to say.

Notable Moment: When Chucky appears to kill Britney Spears. This is mildly amusing and the lookalike is impressive.

Final Rating: 3.5/10

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bride of Chucky Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Chucky is resurrected, yet again, and tries to get a new body or something like that.

Review: Chucky may get lucky, but that's the last thing you will get after dragging a date to see this. So after a seven year hiatus and part 3 being a huge disaster, they decided to turn the franchise into a complete joke. And while it's true the sequels were becoming more idiotic, this film unintentionally continued that trend--somehow exceeding the over the top nature of part 3. The "Child's Play" title is dropped in favor of going with the apropos "Chucky" moniker with a vague reference to "Bride of Frankenstein" even though the plot borrows more from "Romeo and Juliet" for some strange reason. I wouldn't mind this comedic direction if it weren't handled mindlessly. Other horror franchises, like Jason, have showed you can change the tone yet maintain a faithful presentation of a beloved character and the ongoing continuity. "Bride of Chucky," on the other hand, not only fails to be true to the characters, but also creates plot holes and comes off blatantly stupid rather than funny. Although this has nothing to do with Chucky, I want to mention that Universal Pictures turned down this very concept (of making a serious franchise comedic) in regards to "Jaws," but they felt it was okay with Chucky? I don't get that one.

Obviously the biggest fault of this movie is that the plot makes no sense and has nearly no connection to the previous three entries. In other words, they made this film specifically so audiences didn't have to watch the previous films to "enjoy" this one; as Mr. Sullivan prophetically alluded to, you must always think about the bottom line after all. The film begins with a slightly amusing moment as we learn Chucky's remains, after being shredded in part 3, are held at some evidence locker alongside signature items from the other major horror icons (like Freddy, Jason, etc.); this was clever, but they blew their best gag out the gate. Also, it's about fucking time this bitch ends up in evidence, although, how ironic since this is the one time I'd say he might not have ended up that way! Screwing with the audience's understanding of the continuity, we are introduced to a new character, Tiffany, who claims to have been Chucky's girlfriend...I'm assuming right before he was killed. And where exactly was this chick during the events of parts 1-3? Couldn't she have simply been an obsessed groupie or something along those lines? That might have been excusable, albeit moronic, but it would fit our flow of the events more concisely. Whatever, because she bribes some cop to steal Chucky's remains, and then she materializes out of thin air and kills the cop. I don't know how else to explain this minute the cop is sitting in his car and then he is somehow having his throat slit. If she opened the door, why wouldn't he react? His window was up as well and she was not in the backseat. Editing at its finest, folks. Tiffany reconstructs Chucky with extra doll parts that conveniently bring our beloved dolly to a somewhat recognizable state; I must stress the contrived nature of this since clearly Chucky would be unsalvageable after part 3. Then, to show us the level of "comedy" they were striving for, we see Tiffany reading "Voodoo for Dummies" that conveniently has Chucky's little chant from the movies. Wouldn't this feasibly put her soul in the doll though? I guess they are claiming the hexagram on the ground somehow makes a difference? Ugh, I don't know. Thinking the chant didn't work, we meet Tiffany's lover who is supposed to be some Marilyn Manson wannabe. After a bunch of corny jokes, that I guess may have been more amusing in '98, Chucky comes to life and kills lover boy. Instead of being grateful for his revival, Chucky starts talking shit and Tiffany locks him in a playpen she needlessly has.

You know, as stupid as this movie is, it might have been mildly acceptable if the entirety of the film was about Chucky and Tiffany wreaking havoc, "Bonnie and Clyde" style, but they had to throw in idiots we don't care about. Enter Jade and Jesse: two rejects with one of the worst, dumbest, and most pointless plotlines I could possibly imagine. Where is Andy? Why doesn't Chucky even mention him considering he's been the focus for three straight films?! Jade and Jesse have this "Romeo and Juliet" thing going on that I mentioned earlier, but we never learn why Jade's uncle, Warren, wants them separated. Warren is the chief of police so you know what that means...that's right: SHENANIGANS! And I love me some zany antics! I feel like "Bride of Chucky" is to "Child's Play" what "Batman & Robin" was to "The Dark Knight;" nah, that's not fair, "Batman & Robin" was actually funny (though unintentional). Chucky escapes from his little playpen and for some inexplicable reason, he kills Tiffany yet is able to transfer her soul into a different doll. I don't even know where to begin with this scene; it pretty much speaks for itself in terms of idiocy, but, seriously, why would Chucky do this? It's okay though, because the best way to handle a stupid scene is to one-up it in the very next scene as we learn more bullshit that conflicts with the continuity. Apparently now Chucky's original human body was buried with some amulet that can let him and Tiffany transfer into human bodies. Well, we can clearly see from the first movie that, no, he was not wearing any amulet when he was killed, but, besides that, they would not simply bury you in the clothes you're wearing when you die, you fucking imbeciles! This is like a fan script written by a 10 year old, although that is insulting to 10 year olds. It's bad enough we are left to assume the two have "turned human" while in the dolls, but did we really need to introduce a plot hole in the process?

Later Tiffany pays Jesse to transport our dear little dollies to the cemetery where the amulet is at, but this leads to Jesse feeling like he can run away with Jade...all because he has $500. This is 1998 and not 1898, right? I should probably mention the audience is torturously subjected to lame toy-related jokes like "Barbie, eat your heart out," as well as the most cliched of humorous setups like some pothead seeing Chucky. Blah blah blah, people start to get killed in contrived ways making Jesse and Jade suspicious that perhaps the other is the one murdering people yet this doesn't stop them from getting married. This plotline could have worked if it were played up more as the central theme, but instead we get a sex-scene between Chucky and Tiffany who also decide to get married; commence eye rolling. I can just picture Don Mancini writing: "And then the gay friend gets run over by a truck after seeing Chucky come to life! Hah, they'll love it!" Anyway, the couple realizes the dolls are alive, Chucky and Tiffany force them to go to the cemetery, but on the way Jesse and Jade easily turn Chucky and Tiffany against each other. For contrivance's sake, Chucky's body was exhumed that night by one, lone guy who was apparently dedicated to helping skip exposition. Tiffany is burned inside an oven and captured by Jesse while Chucky holds Jade at knifepoint to help him get the amulet. The two guys trade their respective gals, but Chucky stabs Jesse and then ties the two up with rope he pulled out of his ass. Tiffany, realizing Chucky is a douchebag, tries to kill him allowing for Jesse and Jade to get free. Tiffany is seemingly killed off by Chucky who is immediately knocked into the grave with his own corpse. Chucky is shot to death in the lamest defeat yet as some detective pops up to help them clear up the situation in yet another contrived moment. The film ends with Tiffany giving birth to some creature that attacks the detective.

I know there will be people who will defend this piece of shit and say they meant for the movie to be stupid, but I honestly think Universal and crew thought people would find it funny as is; the stupidity is not as intentional as people are led to believe. At the same time, I really don't mind Chucky being humorous, since he was joking more and more in part 2 and 3, but this film is not faithful to the story, characters, or franchise as a whole. Freddy is a good example, because he became more humorous as the sequels went on, but the films mostly stayed true to that character and continuity. Not to mention, when Freddy did become overly comedic, that's when fans got tired of why would anyone think this was the right direction to take Chucky? I would argue the same reason Chucky 3 failed is the same reason why this Chucky succeeded: the era they came out in. As I mentioned, Chucky 3 came out in the worst time for horror films, but this Chucky came out in the wake of a horror boom thanks to "Scream" and its clones. So what do we really have here? You have a ton of contrivances, plot holes, and continuity errors, stupid and boring characters, cliches galore, lame and often idiotic jokes, and the ruination of a horror icon (though he was the admitted lamest of the bunch). But why am I rating this movie on the same level of part 3? Well, there are moments when the comedy works, I can't decipher exactly how much of the stupidity was intentional so I can't completely use it against the film, the production value was surprisingly high with a nice gloss the other entries lacked, and it was somewhat entertaining in an offbeat kind of way. However, to clarify, I think Chucky 3 is better storywise, but it sucks in its own special way.

Notable Moment: When Warren is shot with the nails and Chucky mentions that he looks familiar. This little nod to Pinhead was amusing, I'll admit, and made me smirk.

Final Rating: 4.5/10

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Child's Play 3 Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After magically resurrecting himself, Chucky once again seeks out Andy who now resides at a military boarding school.

Review: I know a lot of fans regard this as the worst Chucky movie, but I humbly disagree. Sure, it's the worst "Child's Play" movie, I'll give you that, but I loathe Chucky 4 and fucking hate Chucky 5. Now I am not saying this movie is good, because it's not, but it's not as bad as it would appear at a glance; I rank it more as below average with its lame attempt to keep the story moving. They clearly had no idea what they were doing with this entry, but decided to try and milk the franchise for all it was worth. Unfortunately, this film suffers from being made in the early '90s, when horror movies were at their worst (financially and often story-wise), and that's honestly the biggest reason for its failure. And, as most know, the main reason this era is notorious for bad horror movies is because audiences were burned out on the icons, ridiculous sequels, and the fans had "grown up" (at least that's what those sellouts told themselves).

The movie actually opens eight years after part two and with the original ending to "Child's Play's" script with the Good Guy's blood pouring into the plastic at the Play Pals factory. Although, I don't know how that translates into Chucky magically resurrecting himself...but sure! This doesn't even make sense, how were Chucky's remains once again not collected as evidence?! Someone did die at the factory. This movie implies they just abandoned the factory and left it as is. That doesn't even follow common business practice of liquidating your assets. Killing me here. Plus, Play Pals is shown to not be out of why was the factory even abandoned to begin with? Wouldn't it be converted to keep producing whatever other stupid toys they sell? And the cobwebs too--wasn't that a bit much? Okay, I need to stop thinking about this film rationally. All we need to know is Chucky is back...yay! And first order of business: kill that asshole, Mr. Sullivan, who surprisingly survived part two. This part tried to be scary but ended up making no sense, but at least we got to see some corporate douchebag die and that's all the audience really wants, right? Besides, Mr. Sullivan conveniently had the records pertaining to Andy's whereabouts, in a pre-internet era, even though Andy hadn't arrived there yet. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. I mean, who cares about how Mr. Sullivan would know this, how that computer would access such information, or how the fuck Chucky even knows how to operate a computer! Okay, to be fair, I like this opening and kind of wish they spent more time with Chucky at Play Pals; that scenario actually opened up some options to do things interestingly with the plot.

For those that have been hating on Alex Vincent, he's obviously been replaced as Andy since this is supposed to be a futuristic setting; though, the new guy, Justin Whalin, admittedly looks like Andy all grown up. Putting Andy in military school is...uhh, unique, to say the least. I don't see him ending up at a place like that, but when you have to keep writing Andy's mom out of the script, I suppose this was the best they could come up with. I'd like to say the military school allowed for some cool ideas to be presented, but I'd be lying. It's pretty much the same bullshit as usual with Chucky trying to get Andy until he realizes he can possess someone else. Hmm, you mean, like possibly possessing the CEO of Play Pals and having a lot of power and influence to get away with your alleged strangulation fetish?! And you know what, no one thought it was suspicious, yet again, that now their CEO is murdered right after discussing how a killer doll took down the company to begin with? And they decide to release the toy anyway? And the police didn't notice that the last thing active in Mr. Sullivan's computer was Andy's current whereabouts? AND how the fuck did Chucky mail himself to the military school?! Ahhh!

Anyway, all that happens at the military school is we meet douchebag characters we know will die and Andy's little love interest. Pretty much Andy is being a little bitch trying to stop Chucky while Chucky is going about getting a new body in the most roundabout way imaginable. Eventually the school plays some annual war-game in which Chucky has replaced the paint-pellets in their rifles with real bullets. Besides not having enough time to accomplish this task, didn't Chucky think it could be, I don't know, just a tad dangerous for himself and could possibly get his new body killed along with the kid he's trying to possess?! After some zany antics, the main characters all end up at this carnival coincidentally nearby. As with Chucky at Play Pals, I wish this carnival setting would have played a more significant role in the story since it opened up a lot of possibilities that end up being shoehorned in at the last 10 minutes. Chucky continues to get fucked up before technically succeeding at possessing the dumb kid he's after. But since we can't have that, we change Chucky's little voodoo chant to be like 2 minutes longer than usual so Andy can save the kid and knock Chucky into a large, industrial fan, chopping him to pieces. The film ends with Andy acting like everything will be fine even though more than likely he will be blamed for multiple murders with him being the only likely suspect after all. I love happy endings.

Alright, so maybe the movie is bad. But hey, there are one liners, Chucky has on lipstick while trying to be scary at one point, Chucky screams like a little girl when almost being killed in a trash compactor, and we learn what a "gun" really is--so there's that. Eh, I don't know, I want to say the whole movie just sucks, but I have to factor in that this is Chucky and you can't exactly expect much. Everything simply feels so bland and predictable with major emphasis on mediocrity. Chucky himself is still amusing, while not being too over the top, and watching him lose limbs and get half his face ripped off comes with the territory. I'd place this entry right in the middle as far as quality--it sucks but not as much as part 4 and 5.

Notable Moment: When Chucky kills that little bitch, Mr. Sullivan. Well, it took three movies, but it's about time this asshole lives up to the title Lakeshore strangler.

Final Rating: 4.5/10

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Child's Play 2 Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After being pointlessly reconstructed, Chucky once again tries to gain control of Andy's body who is now staying with a foster family.

Review: I want to say that this is the second best of the Chucky films, but I think part six may be slightly better. I used to really like this entry, and it is great when compared to the likes of part 4 and 5, but it is heavily loaded with contrivances. Certain aspects do surpass the original, but, for the most part, they took the franchise in the wrong direction--away from the horror. Surprisingly a large portion of this movie employs unused elements from the original script except, once again, making room for Chucky to establish himself as a horror icon. In fact, they stretched out material from the original script across parts 1-4; that's either saving a lot of money or they are lazy as hell. I guess in the late '80s and early '90s this just seemed like the way you create a franchise: with a likable villain and fans won't care what you do with them.

I've already gone over how great part one was, and how it's a genuinely scary movie if you don't think about Chucky's current image, but this film decided to be more action-oriented. You will notice fairly early on that the pacing is even faster than part one and somehow it works successfully. The music is the best in this entry and that faster tempo translates into the pacing of the film--allowing the viewer to be more engaged in the events. Chucky is more aggressive in this entry, killing pretty much anyone who gets in his way as he pursues Andy; the stealth and intrigue go out the window although there is a tiny attempt to showcase these plot elements. For those that didn't like Alex Vincent's portrayal of Andy in part one, he does a better job this time around (although I thought he was fine before). The incorporation of the fictional Play Pals company, the makers of the Good Guy dolls, was interesting and feels somewhat believable. Having the climax at the Good Guy factory was also fun and opened up a lot of cool scenarios for mayhem. They continue the theme of Chucky taking all manner of abuse before finally dying...which is always amusing. Lastly, there is a certain flow in the continuity of events that makes this entry and part one feel complementary to each other.

Typically I would be more annoyed they abandoned the horror elements in favor of action and comedy, but I'm actually more angry with the overabundance of contrivances; it honestly feels as though it would be safe to say the entire film is a contrivance. First off, why is Play Pal rebuilding Chucky instead of merely examining the audio recorder as they claim is the reason for this? How convenient that they only have Chucky's head when the body of the doll would have been "human" supposedly. Actually, if they did examine the audio recorder, are they saying it was in his head?! Why aren't the remains of Chucky being kept as evidence? Oh yeah, here ya go, have evidence that you could destroy that potentially damages your company! What were they planning to do with him afterward, resell him?!  How does giving Chucky a new body resurrect him? If shooting him in the heart is the only way to kill him, then why would the head mean shit? The good eye is on the wrong side by the way. "Give us a minute, we're not used to making them manually"--shut the fuck up, bitch, you're in a room called "Prototype Lab" what else do you do in there?! The Play Pal CEO doesn't think it's suspicious that a doll claimed to be alive just happens to be involved in a freak accident killing someone the moment they rebuild it AND his crony is murdered later that night?! I should have brought this up about part one, but why is Chucky always killing people in weird ways? Isn't his M.O. supposed to be strangulation? He was nicknamed the Lakeshore strangler, right?! I can understand the cops being written out of the script, but Andy's mom too? Not even a phone call from her at any point since they claim she supports Andy's version of the events. Why is Andy's foster dad such a fucking douche about Andy being afraid of the Good Guy doll? The audience knows that he knows Andy thinks the doll came to life and fucking killed people who did really die! Why does Chucky still need to take Andy's body? So some rules are still applying but not all? You know, how did Chucky even get to the foster family's home? Are they claiming that the Play Pal crony drove them close enough? But wait, how the hell does Chucky even know where Andy is?! Oh yeah, that's right, he calls the orphanage or whatever the hell late at night and they just say, "Sure, here's the address to the foster home of a kid embroiled in a lawsuit and allegations of a murder spree." Seriously?! I know they make it seem like Andy's teacher is mad that she thinks he wrote "FUCK YOU BITCH" on his paper, but she was actually just mad he didn't write "FUCK YOU, BITCH!" And, for realzies, they're reading "Pinocchio" in class that day? The school doesn't call to say the teacher was murdered? No, Chucky sure as hell didn't clean up since it is implied he raced home like Andy to continue the facade that he's been lying in the basement all day. Speaking of which, how does Chucky get around so easily? The foster parents argue loudly with Andy ten feet away just so we can see the camera man's reflection. And why does this milfy foster mom have her house designed like a grandma? Wait, what...the Play Pal toy factory was like a couple miles from the orphanage?! And they have their factory up and running all night with only one guy watching the place?! Exit doors are locked? And how the fuck did Chucky jerry rig some dead body up on a cable? There's plenty more, but I think you get the idea.

Okay, I've been kind of harsh, but while the other sequels were simply stupid, this entry had potential and I expect more. It was clear that they sloppily pulled together a script that heavily borrowed from the original film's while adding stupid elements to play up Chucky's role more. Basically, all the best parts of this film are the original ideas while the padding is noticeable and Chucky trying to be, well, Chucky, is lame as hell. I mean, come on, he's just a fucking little dolly, he's not a damn threat when you remove the stealth. The knives he carries in half the movies are bigger than him! Overall though, I do like this movie despite its flaws. There is a certain amusement to the story and the contrivances can be great in the so bad it's good way. Andy and his foster sister (?), Kyle, are likable enough and their fight against Chucky is entertaining especially at the toy factory. While this wasn't the best sequel you'd hope for, it feels like "T2" when compared to the likes of part 5.

Notable Moment: When Kyle slams on the breaks of her car and Chucky goes flying through the windshield. I mean, seriously? No one stopped and thought that made no sense? Plus, they're right next to the orphanage already, or whatever the hell it was, so what's the point?!

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Child's Play Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Unbeknownst to a boy and his mother, the boy's new toy is possessed by the spirit of a serial killer.

Review: Now we come to my least favorite of the major horror icons: Chucky; I will also refer to the franchise and its sequels as Chucky part whatever--just as I had with Jason and Freddy. It's not that I don't like these films or the character, but, unlike the other horror icons, Chucky drifted into the realm of comedy far too quickly and most of the movies suck in general; I was half expecting him to end up in space alongside Pinhead and Jason. If it weren't for how scary this first entry was, I would probably lump the franchise, as a whole, merely one or two notches above the horrendous "Puppet Master" franchise (maybe that's a little too rough). Anyway, some people may know this, but the original idea behind "Child's Play" was that the doll was meant to be a physical manifestation of Andy's rage--Andy being the protagonist in the first three movies. The "Good Guy" doll was an obvious ripoff of "My Buddy," yet is remembered far more easily than that god awful toy. Chucky's backstory and the whole voodoo crap was tacked on later for better or worse. In fact, if you watch this film but skip right to the introduction of Andy, it makes the movie feel way more scary. Therefore, we must understand, the first movie was meant to be more psychological and scary, but the lameness that is Chucky simultaneously is what established this film as a it's a tossup. I do feel as though they needed Chucky or else we'd essentially have what would later become "Pinocchio's Revenge," (another forgettable piece of shit) but I do wish he stayed creepy rather than trying to be funny like Freddy with stupid one-liners after each kill.

Okay, enough talking shit on Chucky, let's discuss why this movie is actually scary and address that it contains one of the scariest moments in film history. The pacing helps ease the viewer in gradually, balancing storyline aspects evenly, but the scary shit starts fairly early on. The music is decent and does leave a haunting image especially during the end credits. The acting is good, and I don't care what people say about Alex Vincent as Andy--his acting was great at times. The doll moving around on its own and Andy talking to it feels unsettling as it is, but imagine if you were the parent and how weird it would be that people are dying and your kid is the main suspect. Either that or you must come to terms with the fact that your kid's stories about the doll being alive are true. This is an added layer of disturbance, because both outlooks are grim since you're kid is either crazy or you have to deal with supernatural forces. You have the cliches like someone running by in the background and other nuances, but they still work well enough to add to the mystery as to whether or not it's the doll or Andy. Chucky admittedly looks creepier as the normal Good Guy doll than when he is "alive," so the eyes turning to face people and those kind of details are cool early on. Obviously the best scene is when Andy's mom, Karen, played by milf Catherine Hicks, discovers Chucky never had batteries all that time. This scene alone is beyond frightening and easily one of the scariest moments of any movie ever. Sometimes you forget how scary this scene can be when you imagine all the implications it expresses, but the sequels have, unfortunately, overshadowed this fact. Another part that is severely overlooked is when they burn Chucky and he comes after Andy in the hall. That shot of the charred Chucky lurching over Andy is genuinely creepy! I mean, seriously, why does Chucky never try to scare people on this level ever again? Oh right, 'cause he's too busy saying shit like "Don't fuck with the Chuck." One final thing I rarely see others mention is the inference that somehow Chucky does possess Andy in the end. Even as a kid I thought that when Chucky "dies," and his voice goes back to the Good Guy voice, I thought that it sounded like Andy. Then you consider that awkward look on Andy's face and the freeze frame final shot making Andy look suspicious. I just felt they might have been leaving the option open for making Chucky be inside Andy. Maybe they were hearkening back to "Trilogy of Terror" with that killer doll possessing someone after being burned.

To remember the better days of when Chucky was scary:

So if this film was legitimately scary, why did the franchise spiral into idiocy? I hate to admit it, but the foundation of Chucky as the horror icon were in the making from the beginning, and so were the stupid plot elements. First off, there are moments when Chucky is dicking around and trying to be funny from the onset; there aren't a lot of these moments, but they are there nonetheless. The voodoo plotline makes no sense and is stupid to boot. If Chucky can put his spirit in a doll, wouldn't it stand to reason he could put his spirit in any inanimate object? It would make more sense if he could only put himself into living things. I'm only mentioning this, because of the whole "turning human" plotline this franchise brings up often. It makes no sense, and is inconsistent, as to why being in the doll would make the doll more human-like. Plus, why would that voodoo guy teach Chucky any of this shit and why would that imbecile keep a voodoo doll of himself lying around AND tell Chucky about it?! But to be fair, the voodoo plot elements were not in the original script which is why I judge it less harshly. Beyond that, we have the sheer realization that Chucky is not intimidating in the least. Other than the initial fear, you quickly realize he's maybe two feet tall, at best, and should be light as hell; flailing about in a cartoonish manner when he attacks doesn't help things either. Thankfully Chucky is not as blatant, in this first movie though, and works more by stealth until everyone knows he's alive.

This is one of those cases where the sequels have drastically weakened the impact of the first film, but I still love this movie. It's scary naturally, but is so much better if you haven't watched the sequels or can be objective while watching this one. The killer doll idea is nothing new, but they work with the material in a way that instills dread while providing a modest mystery with cool intrigue until the reveal about midway in. I think it goes without saying that the scares are the best in this entry, and that one particular scene is among the best ever which gives this film bonus points for having such a truly memorable scene that can stand up in light of all the detractors. All the facets of the film somehow work successfully and there is even some '80s magic adding icing to the cake. Overall, this is the best entry in the franchise, hands down, and definitely worth a view.

Notable Moment: When Karen is examining the Good Guy box and the batteries fall out. Then, with glorious tension, she inspects Chucky and discovers he, in fact, has no batteries. This is quickly followed by Chucky's head spinning around as he says, "Hi, I'm Chucky, wanna play!" So creepy and unsettling to say the least...definitely one of the scariest moments of all time. It also helps that Chucky is in the normal Good Guy form.

Final Rating: 7/10