Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: After defeating some villains, the Flash awakens in an alternate reality where he doesn't exist and the world is on the brink of destruction
Review: With "The Flash" TV show becoming quite popular I figured it was time to revisit this film. Besides the refreshing notion that the story focuses on the Flash, rather than Batman and/or Superman, this is arguably the best of the DC animated films--and that's saying something significant. You'd be surprised by how moving and deep this tale can be. Though the material is based around the "Flashpoint" comic series, the film version makes minor deviations and simplifies the storyline. This means the material is more accessible to casual fans, but you are expected to have a base knowledge in regards to things such as the speed force for example. There are also the usual contrivances you kind of have to ignore like Aquaman not dying in two seconds while fighting Batman, Cyborg, and the Flash; yeah okay, he'd stand no chance in hell against that trio. Speakings of Bats...I'm sure many are tired of him constantly getting the spotlight in every adventure, but this is one of the best and most original deviations of the character we've seen. Other than those excusable flaws, this movie has it all and then some. This is the perfect exemplar of DC's storytelling abilities in the right hands.
The story begins with the Flash (the Barry Allen version) fighting his usual rogue's gallery except Eobard Thawne is leading them. If you've been watching the show many of these characters should be familiar to you. Anyway, Thawne plans to blow up the city after trapping the Flash, but the Justice League comes to back up Flash--making short work of Thawne's scheme. After Thawne makes a jab at Flash's inability to save his mother, who was murdered when Barry was a child, we skip to Barry waking up in an alternate reality where there never was a Flash, the Justice League doesn't exist, and Barry's mom is alive now. Although it's never stressed, it's important to understand this isn't apart of DC's multiverse--time has altered the main universe; this means you have to actually fix this world or else you're fucked!
At first Barry is fine with no longer being the Flash if it means his mother was never killed, but this world has undergone drastic changes. Now, Wonder Woman and the Amazons have taken over most of Europe that wasn't flooded by Aquaman and the Atlanteans. The two factions are at war with one another, and this threatens to destroy the planet. This all began by Aquaman trying to make a peace offering with the Amazons, but he cheated on his wife with Wonder Woman. When the wife found out, she challenged Wonder Woman to a fight and lost her head. It's also kind of messed up that Wonder Woman then wore the queen's crown as a kind of trophy. Beyond this ordeal, the remaining heroes of the world are only recently united by Cyborg in an attempt to save everyone. Superman never came into being and has been locked up in a government facility with red sunlight blocking his powers or whatever. As for dear Batman...in this universe Bruce was killed by that gunman in the alley, and Thomas Wayne became Batman instead to avenge his son. They also include the idea that Martha Wayne became the Joker as a result which was cool. The thing I like about this Batman is that he's the darker side of Batman made dominant; this means Batman is more than willing to kill villains and use guns.
As Barry realizes he must help stop the chaos, he seeks out Batman in order to regain his powers; the two plan to recreate the circumstances that originally gave Barry his super speed. The two come to the conclusion that Thawne must have altered time in order to create this reality, and only a fully powered Flash can time travel to fix this mess. While this is going on, and it takes two tries to recreate Flash's powers, we get a glimpse at many alternate versions of numerous DC characters; it's definitely fun to see the ways heroes could have turned evil or villains turned hero. With Barry restored back to the Flash, and after failing to gain a freed Superman's assistance, the Flash, Batman, Cyborg, and a few others plot to assault Aquaman and Wonder Woman while they fight one another. They are also convinced Thawne is waiting for them in the area as he wants Flash to realize it was him who caused this disaster and is preventing the Flash from time traveling (it has to do with the way the speed force works). In the ensuing battle we see many heroes and villains bite the dust as it is revealed that Aquaman has a final doomsday device up his sleeve--a weaponized version of Captain Atom.
When the Flash finally comes across Thawne, the two fight but Thawne gains the upper hand. It is revealed that it was the Flash who actually created this alternate reality when he traveled in time to save his mother from being murdered. This alteration of time created a ripple effect that influenced many other moments of time such as preventing Hal Jordan from becoming the Green Lantern for example. Thawne now wishes to watch the world be destroyed knowing that the Flash is helpless to save it. Making matters worse is that the Flash must allow the murder of his mother as a necessary evil to stop a world like this from ever coming into being. While this is happening, Cyborg is killed by Aquaman who loses an arm to a reemerging Superman. Wonder Woman heartlessly kills the Batson kids followed by the weakened Aquaman; Aquaman triggers the weaponized Captain Atom right before his death however. With so much built up energy, the world is slowly disintegrated as Thawne taunts the Flash right before the end. Big shock, Batman saves the day and shoots Thawne in the head; this frees up the speed force for the Flash allowing time travel. Batman gives Flash a note to give to the Flash's reality of Batman right before he tries to run through the time barrier. This part was well done with foreboding music and the Flash limping away from the huge blast coming at him. Then we see this Flash racing against the original Flash trying to stop his mom from being murdered. This was a powerful scene as it goes against everything Barry has ever felt...he's actually racing against himself in order to allow his own mother to be killed! After stopping his past self from changing time, Barry returns to the normal timeline and visits his mother's grave. Shortly after this, Flash gives the Bruce Wayne Batman the letter from Thomas Wayne's Batman. This actually brings tears to ol' bats eyes as the film ends with the Flash running around the city looking for crime to fight.
Overall, everything just works with a lot of the second tier characters getting more time to shine. Alternate reality stories are also always fun to see as they offer up the unexpected and new ideas for old characters. Many of the twists and turns presented here are awesome and keep you engaged. Furthermore, the dark nature to the story is commendable; the dilemmas Flash must face are really depressing yet moving. The voice acting is worth mentioning as well since you get many of the beloved voice actors from the various animated series of shows. The Flash getting more attention is certainly long overdue, but I suspect the live action Justice League movie will drop the ball. Regardless, if you're a DC fan, this a must watch. If you're a fan of the Flash, how have you not seen this yet?!
Notable Moment: It's a tough call, but the best moment was probably when Batman gets the letter from the alternate reality Thomas Wayne. How often do we see Batman brought to tears?
Final Rating: 8.5/10
Friday, March 27, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A film crew documents the mystery surrounding various individuals experiencing supernatural phenomenon.
Review: I often like to think of this as Japan's answer to the Blair Bitch...except better with an actual payoff beyond some dude jacking off in a corner while a, literal, snot-nosed brat fumbles with her camera. Though, while I do think this is a pretty good movie, I feel it's greatness and scares have been grossly exaggerated by fans; I mean, this has the same rating as "Shutter," and that is simply preposterous. Sure, the mystery is intriguing and the final implications of the film can be unsettling, but, at the end of the day, there are, maybe, two legitimately scary scenes. The real strong point is more toward the atmosphere as it creates a feeling of uncertainty, but, fundamentally, the film heads in just the direction you would expect anyway.
The story is overly convoluted so I will try to sum it up chronologically from my own understanding. For an unknown amount of time, a small town full of cult-like individuals would summon a demon called Kagutaba to do their bidding. One day, Kagutaba said "fuck this shit" and the townspeople had to imprison the demon. This led to the tradition of a yearly ritual to keep the demon from going apeshit. By the late '70s, the town was to be flooded by a dam's construction which led to one last ritual for Kagutaba; this resulted in the daughter of a priest, named Junko, being possessed by the demon. Junko, seemingly possessed for years, came to be a nurse that worked at, what I'm guessing was the, equivalent of an abortion clinic where she was responsible for disposing of the embryos. I don't know exactly what happened next, but we can assume somehow Junko was able to secure a body or host for Kagutaba to grow within; he would take on the role of her son. This led to the transition of Junko from being possessed to enthralled by the demon. Junko and the son then traveled about Japan, for unknown reasons, as they semi-possessed/cursed people they came across.
At this point, we are in the present time as these activities catch the attention of a documentary crew that investigates various supernatural phenomenon; this consists of the director or whatever he is, the camera guy, and an actress that was inadvertently cursed. This portion of the film is presented with all manner of clips edited together that show the demon's influence on various people's lives with most ending up dead. One of the best aspects of the film is when they come across an extraordinarily psychic girl named Kana. Kana's immense powers are somehow needed to complete Kagutaba's full summoning within the boy as she must be fed the embryos Junko had kept. While the crew tries to piece the mystery together, they are assisted by a guy named Hori who knows what's happening, but he cannot properly communicate this due to his apparent insanity from his own psychic powers. Toward the end, Kagutaba appears to have completed his resurrection as Junko is discarded and kills herself, Kana is killed, and the director idiotically decides to adopt the demon boy--not realizing he is Kagutaba. One night, Hori, breaking out of a mental institution, tries to kill Kagutaba but fails as the kid regenerates from his wounds. Realizing the jig is up already, Kagutaba enthralls Hori and seemingly kills the director and his wife. The ending explains that Hori was found dead a few days later, no one knows for sure what happened, and Kagutaba is out there...somewhere.
There are definitely a lot of interesting and well done aspects to the film. The acting is commendable and, along with an accurate representation of Japanese TV and editing, this goes a long way to enhance the sense of realism. The few scary moments that do show up are unexpected and memorable while the mystery and atmosphere keep you properly engaged. On the other hand, the film is way too drawn out, the characters often make nonsensical decisions, and the buildup to the finale can certainly feel underwhelming. I would recommend checking this one out, but I would never think to hype this to be on the level of something like "Shutter" or better than the entire Grudge franchise.
Notable Moment: When we see Kana being tested for psychic powers. Her character was really cool--it's a shame they didn't spend more time exploring her importance in the plot. Hell, they slapped her on the poster even...she could have done some next level Sadako shit.
Final Rating: 6/10
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: When the Earth's plant life begins to die off, humanity reaches for the stars in order to survive.
Review: I had intended to see this film when it was first released, but I don't go to the theaters as much as I used to. Nevertheless, I was still hyped to see this film considering the reviews I've read accompanied by that ridiculously high imdb score (almost a 9/10!). Unfortunately, "Interstellar" does not come close to living up to that score. Sure, the film is incredible for the first two hours or so, but that ending is terrible--nearly defeating the purpose of everything! I was teetering on an 8 or 8.5/10 up until the end, but my image of the overall story plummeted to the 7/10 I am rating this film. The best way I can describe what we have here is that it's a beautiful film that is crippled by its glaring flaws. The one caveat I will add is that the positives do outweigh the negatives, but the problems are significant.
Starting with what works, I have to acknowledge Matthew McConaughey's fantastic performance. I have watched Mr. McConaughey over the decades do some of the absolute dumbest roles ("Tiptoes" comes to mind), while applying his trademark, shit-eating grin, but this was the antithesis of that. In general, Mr. McConaughey has stepped up his game in recent years and it's showing. I felt his pain, determination, and struggle through his portrayal as the lead, Cooper. In fact, the acting from all the players was well done with many accolades to give out. I especially enjoyed the subtle romance between Cooper and Brand, played by Anne Hathaway; this was a nuance that helped develop the characters perfectly. Speaking of which, the characters are quite moving as they struggle to deal with loss, dread, and the knowledge that the fate of humanity lies in their hands. I think it also helped to show the struggles of the humans on Earth in contrast to Cooper and his crew traveling across space. Can either one succeed? It certainly keeps you intrigued.
As for the story, it can be quite inspirational at times while always maintaining a harrowing journey for the characters to endure and overcome. The strongest aspect of the story is its ability to reach deep into the core of your being and make you appreciate life, love, and the human experience. There are multiple teary-eyed moments that touch and move you with their brilliance; you'd have to be seriously cold-hearted not to at least get a lump in your throat a few times. Actually, I was surprised by how much I came to adore the robot characters; I was genuinely sad when it appeared one died, and that's pretty damn impressive if I do say so. The themes are powerful and apply readily to all eras and walks of life. The film tries not to be too preachy and address current problems with grace while applying an appropriate sci-fi spin. There could have been more wonder and philosophical debate, but I believe Nolan and crew succeeded in telling the tale they intended.
Technically speaking, the film shines beautifully in a genre where it always seems like we've seen it all. The background shots of space, black holes, different planets, etc. are marvelously depicted. Even simple mountain shots can look quite impressive with all things considered. Enhancing the aesthetics was the awesome soundtrack. If I were floating endlessly through space this is the kind of music that would help me think critically about the larger picture at hand; the grandeur and scope of the film are captured near perfectly.
Okay, now let's tackle the faults by discussing the biggest offender: the ending. The time travel aspects simply do not work no matter how hard you try to theorize. They would have been better off leaving it ambiguous with aliens helping humanity for unknown reasons than to claim super advanced humans from the future are helping! Look, if you're changing time, that means there was a different future outcome. This is impossible as we are presented with humanity's demise had there not been intervention. What does this mean? A paradox. So...advanced humans from the future save humanity of the past yet humanity would go extinct without the future humans? Then how the hell were there ever future humans?! Besides, this is the worst "help" I could possibly imagine. These time-bending, godlike humans can't even tell the past humans which planet to travel toward? They simply open up a wormhole to 12 worlds? They also put the wormhole all the way at Saturn--what the hell? You couldn't bring things a little closer? And don't even tell me the future humans were pushing the past humans to succeed--you're dealing with the fate of your own species, not trying to help your kid win a race. On top of that, if future humans have reached godlike powers, who cares about the past? Wouldn't a thing like the past be a relative concept to a god? Wouldn't changing time theoretically negate their own existence to boot? Then we have to consider how the hell did the future humans know Cooper's relevance in this scenario? How did they know he was the key? How did they know their actions wouldn't fuck it all up? What was the significance of other "gravity anomalies" unrelated to the plot? If they're omniscient, then why go through the hoops? Why not tell humanity how to survive outright? And come on, going through a black hole now makes you reach a fifth dimensional rift where you can alter the past...except you already altered it? Whaaaat? The dumbest aspect was Cooper wanting to change time yet following the way time played out! This is nonsensical. If Cooper must still do these events in order to establish the past, he already knew his own actions...therefore, he simply had to not perform those actions and he would have changed time! The paradoxes are going to make my head explode! Bottom line, it does not make sense given the context. And future humans were the worst deus ex machina I could imagine outside of a literal appearance by god.
Besides the ending wrecking everything, there were aspects that didn't add up anyway. So we have robots, advanced spacecraft, stasis pods, video transmissions across millions of miles, drones that can fly on their own for 10 years, and we can create space stations that save humanity on a whim...yet we can't figure out how to stop this "blight?" I love the sci-fi aspects but, come on, the threat is unreal when you present this kind of technology that should counter it. I mean, the world is saved by simply figuring out a way to get artificial gravity for space stations--that's it. Say what?! It also bothered me that Cooper, who has traveled across space and time for like 90 years, survived a black hole, saved humanity, and appears to be greatly respected, must resort to stealing a spaceship to find Brand. I'd be saying Cooper was the damned savior at that point especially when they claim everyone didn't believe in him until he showed up just as young as the day he left. Plus, they know Brand is out there--hopeless and believing she must artificially recreate humanity on a new world--and they're just like "whatever?!" Was the last hour of the movie written by the studio or something?
In the end, this is an amazing film that is both beautiful to behold and thought provoking. You are truly engrossed to the point that you feel connected to the story and characters as if you are traveling across time and space in your own effort to save the world. So much of this movie just works on all levels with epic scope and presentation. However, all of this does not come without the price of a disappointing conclusion and many annoying flaws that build up when said ending comes abruptly. I'm sure some will claim I'm over thinking the story, or that I'm wrong in my interpretations of the events, but these flaws were a tremendous hindrance in my eyes that are hard to defend. You can ignore the flaws and take things at face value, but, when a film is trying to be this deep, one must take its analyses into consideration. I definitely still recommend checking this film out, as it is well worth anyone's time, but it's not nearly as mind-blowing as I had hoped. In other words, come for the characters and themes but ignore the explanations for why everything is happening and how it's resolved.
Notable Moment: When Cooper comes back from the water world, realizing 20 some years have passed, and watches all the videos he's missed. This was probably the most moving part of the film for me with Cooper's son "letting go" and Murph trying to come to terms with the situation.
Final Rating: 7/10
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A cliched, angsty teen realizes he's a werewolf and must get the girl and save the world or something.
Review: Now we come to the (hopefully) last installment in the Howling franchise. And, as it would turn out, the best way to describe this entry would be as "The CW presents: The Werewolf Diaries." What the fuck is this shit?! Reboot? Remake? Retarded? You decide! Yeah, I know, let's take the nonsense that has been going on in this franchise and turn it into teen angst--that will work. How the hell are you going to market a (then) 30 year old series toward the kiddies? Wow, way to reward the loyal fans who survived "Howling VII" and put up with all the other bullshit this franchise has offered. And goodness gracious, this movie sucks so much wiener it boggles my mind. Are you seriously going to try and make this Twi-wolf plot line about saving the damned world too? Really? Really?! The only redeeming quality, that makes this film barely edge past "Howling III," is Lindsey Shaw sporting a Catholic schoolgirl outfit--that's it! And yet this seemed to be a fashion choice rather than school uniform...huh.
There are many choice words I would use to describe the Howling films, but pretentious would not have been one of them...until now. The narration is delivered as if it's some next level Socrates shit, but it's typical emo drivel I'd expect from a cutter bitch. Hell, I'd humor it a tad if the film itself made sense or had consistency, but, of course, it doesn't. The movie begins with a dumb chick being attacked by a werewolf while pregnant; this attack appears to kill the mom and semi-turns the baby into a werewolf. Eighteen years later, Will, our little baby is all grown up and doesn't realize he's a werewolf, because he's taking silver supplements. Whaaaat? You're shitting me, right? Willy is obsessed with a little chickadee named Eliana whose name is so randomly specific I get the idea that this is mostly wish fulfillment for the writer. You know how it is, Willy does things that would be considered creepy in reality, but it wins the girl over in the movies. Listening to the two pine over one another is sooooooooo fucking pathetic and fake; I'd honestly rather listen to another one of Ted's jokes.
Idiotically, they've messed with the werewolf formula to screw everything up. Now werewolves can be killed by fire and silver unless you're an alpha werewolf. Oh god. Yes, a precious alpha werewolf can only be killed by another werewolf. How exactly does this shit work? At least the other sequels implied the magical properties of werewolves came from Satan. So Willy suddenly realizes his wolfie powers after his mom shows up with her three stooges. All of this just happens to coincide with...a blue moon...oh my fucking god, come on! The mom never explains why she chose to pretend to be dead yet she angrily kills the dad for no discernible reason. They also never explain who the hell was the werewolf at the beginning of the movie. My goodness, you thought this shit would get a sequel? How cute.
When the mom tries to free Willy by killing Eliana, Will gets pissed and decides to pull a flamethrower from his ass to fight the werewolves. This is when things got completely out of control as we learn the mom has been stacking bodies in the school basement to create a werewolf army to...TAKE OVER THE WORLD! Right. When Willy can't summon up his true power, Eliana is like, "bang me," but he wimps out I guess; the schizophrenic editing was giving me a seizure so I don't know. Willy does scratch Eliana though. Willy ends up killing the mom's flunkies but learns mommy is an alpha werewolf. Yeah, okay. Like a bitch, Willy gets beat up by mommy, but Eliana has turned into a werewolf all of a sudden and sneak attacks the mom--killing her. The two then blow up the school to stop the werewolf army as they show up to graduation naked. And how exactly did Eliana gain mastery of her powers faster than the werewolf army? Then there's some shenanigans during the credits, but I'm all outta fucks to give.
Clearly I was not the demographic this garbage was intended for, but, then again, this was part 8 in a franchise teen girls would never have heard of so who really wins? This film is simply terrible! It seriously attempts to do to werewolves what "Twilight" did to vampires. They pay no respect to the previous installments or lore and try to create a stand alone entry that fails in most regard. There is significantly more focus on the cornball as fuck romance than the actual horror. What am I saying--what horror?! Sure, it's better than "Howling VII" but what movie isn't? Please, no more of these movies or get funny and take the franchise to space or the hood.
Notable Moment: When Will kills one of the werewolves with his silver medal. You went there? They don't actually make them out of the material you're awarded! Yeah, every stupid little gold medal someone wins is made of pure fucking gold! How was this not written by a little kid?
Final Rating: 4/10
Friday, March 13, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: There are no words...
Review: Arrrrggghhhh. So hard to stop laughing. My fucking goodness. Rika...my goddess, help me! Well...it's the second Friday the 13th in a row so I had to go out with a bang. I proudly present, "Howling VII," the worst movie I have ever seen! I have discussed this travesty on multiple occasions, but my first review doesn't come close to doing this "film" justice. To put things into perspective, if you are not, at least, borderline suicidal and/or homicidal by the 10 minute mark, you may not be human. I mean, whatever you think is the worst movie you've watched, forget it, as nothing is going to adequately prepare you for "Howling VII." How this piece of shit escaped the attention of "MST 3000" is beyond me, but many of the films they watched pale in comparison to the painful nature that is this "film." Alright, here we go...
For some reason, they pathetically attempt to tie together parts 4-7 into one plot line, but it fails...miserably. The main character, Ted, is played by Clive Turner who has had numerous production credits within this franchise; he supposedly helped write part 5 which is certainly questionable! This time he serves as writer, director, and a million other titles due to the fact that no one in their right mind would work on this abomination. Having no money for the production, the "actors" enlisted to star in this gem were selected from the colorful characters that reside in a living hell known as Pioneer Town. Translation: the acting rivals a preschool play, and the "characters" are simply the actual people playing themselves. Believe me, this is significantly more torturous than you could possibly imagine. Like, we've seen annoying, Jar Jar-esque pains in the ass before, but then there are these people! The only thing of any concern is why did they kill Jaro?!
Adding salt to the gaping wound, the dialogue is mostly comprised of inside jokes, remarks about fucking George Jones, and cochlea-rupturing "singing." As for the jokes, they are beyond childish, stupid, and told with the worst delivery conceivable. Speaking of which, all line delivery in this film is nauseating to the senses. However, the truly annoying aspect is that these fucking imbeciles laugh incessantly after every single joke...which is essentially all any character fucking says! My god, everyone is either telling a dumb joke or laughing at one! IT'S NOT THAT FUCKING FUNNY! In regard to the music...I am told there is a thing called good country music, but it's all unendurable to me; I get the feeling even a fan would have trouble stomaching this shit. Besides, these songs are mostly about this godforsaken town anyway! I mustn't forget that we also get frequent shots of line dancing in the shadows while this terrible screeching is occurring. Who does this, and can you please stop forever? The ambient music is not any better though so...
Right about now, you're probably thinking what the hell does any of this have to do with werewolves?! Well, nothing...absolutely nada! In fact, 95% of this movie has nothing to do with anything. Most of the time it's nothing more than Ted making retarded jokes, idiots laughing at said jokes, cue shitacular music, Ted flirting with this fugly ass bitch (not that he's any better), random shots for the lulz, then a two minute scene of a priest and cop discussing the plot continually (with more stupid jokes). The pacing is really quite remarkable--one might say a thing of beauty. Once in a blue fucking moon, a pointless character will appear and immediately get killed by the werewolf who simply exists as red lens POV--wannabe predator-vision or something. Ugh...so embarrassing. I promise you, anyone out there could pull off better special effects than this film. ANYONE.
So what the hell is even going on in this catastrophe? Apparently Mary Lou, from part 5, is about to take the next step in her pokemon evolution. Of course they didn't get the same actress, but they claim now she has the ability to take over another person's body. Yeah okay. They now claim that after 3 years a werewolf will fully mature and then on the following full moon they gain the ability to turn others into werewolves. I'm glad they were able to pull that contrivance from their ass. Mary Lou has gained mind control conveniently as they claim she can control Marie from part 4. Since that dumbass Clive Turner did play bit roles in parts 4 and 5, they try to claim he's the guy from part 5 in the worst of ways; they say he survived part 5, and decided to change his name for no reason, while ignoring his role in part 4. Mary Lou supposedly arranged for Ted to go to Pioneer Town so that she could set him up as being the werewolf in order to...uhh...draw attention from herself...when there was no reason to be suspected as a werewolf? Wait, what? But the question remains, why kill Jaro?!! Oh fuck. What the hell am I even typing?
Alright, I don't care if this makes sense or not--this is the story: Mary Lou takes over the form of an idiot at Pioneer Town. She mind controls Marie from part 4 to hire Ted to come to Pioneer Town for inconsequential reasons; by the way, Ted magically survived part 5 and changed his name. Ted easily befriends the mindless morons living there since he wrote the script. Mary Lou kills people to make Ted look guilty. The town believes Ted is a werewolf quite easily after realizing he was spying on them at the behest of Marie who was controlled by Mary Lou. Mary Lou is about to digivolve into ultimate werewolf so she decides to scapegoat Ted for no reason. Ted manages to convince everyone of his innocence as they catch Mary Lou in the act. Mary Lou transforms into a werewolf which is simply a cheap Halloween mask and hairy gloves. Mary Lou is shot by a silver bullet. The end. I hope you can make sense of that because I can't.
All I can say is: wow, what a journey into oblivion. Movies like "Troll 2" can be quite fun, but "Howling VII" isn't fully there. Sure, it can be entertaining under the right conditions, but, for the most part, it is mercilessly pure, unending torture through each and every excruciating second. If I had to listen to those jokes each day...ughhh...let's just say the world's population would begin to shrink rapidly. Should I ever find myself at Pioneer Town I will realize hell is real, and I've been sent to it. To put it simply, "Howling VII" failed at every single aspect in the film making process. Absolutely nothing was done correctly except keeping the camera steady. I don't know what more to say--I've been making fun of this movie for years. I do think everyone should experience this debacle for themselves, but be extremely wary. Now excuse me while I cleanse my soul in the warm embrace of my Rika-sama.
Notable Moment: Without a doubt, when the cop is beating up Ted, and Ted says, "YOU'RE FUCKING DONE!!!" and knees the guy in the face. Oh man...too funny. Almost brings a tear to my eye.
Final Rating: 1/10
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A werewolf travels across the country seeking revenge against his maker.
Review: While "Howling VI" is generally one of the better films in the franchise, it simply has too many holes to overlook. Sure, part 5's plot was Swiss cheese at various parts, but a lot of those problems can be explained away through in-film inferences. Here, there's virtually no conceivable way to address the problems without making shit up. On the other hand, the story tries to invoke classic werewolf lore accompanied with the introduction of a cool-looking vampire. The freak show aspect also serves as an interesting novelty to the series. Had they only stopped while they were ahead this could have easily been on part 5's level. I don't know...maybe the flaws had something to do with this being made in the dreaded early '90s.
The main guy, Ian, is tracking a traveling freak show run by a guy named Harker, played by, the always villainous, Bruce Payne. Ian manages to pick up work in a shitty town as he masks the fact that he's a werewolf. Right from the onset, the problems begin as Ian is a traditional werewolf in the fact that the full moon triggers his transformation uncontrollably. I typically wouldn't have a problem with this notion, but they just had to throw in the werewolf from part 5, Mary Lou, in a small cameo! That means we are still technically dealing with the same universe of werewolves as always who can transform at will; making matters worse, the werewolf design is horrendous. This cameo does help us conclude that perhaps Mary Lou was looking for a mate in part 5. Still...they wasted an opportunity to expand upon the storyline.
Anyway, wherever Harker goes, people end up dead which once included Ian's family. Again, things make no sense as Ian claims Harker turned him into a werewolf yet we learn Harker is really a vampire. Uh...how is that possible? Keep in mind I'm stretching to the heavens with this theory, but what if Harker was the one killing off the parents of those cursed from part 5? Since the cursed descendants had the potential to be werewolves, maybe Ian being bitten by a vampire caused this abnormality of a werewolf form. This theory wouldn't explain why Ian follows the typical lunar cycle bullshit, but it would address how Harker can use a crystal and a chant that forces Ian to transform when the moon is not full. Harker clearly knows about werewolves, Mary Lou did show up, and Ian's back story does match that of the cursed descendants. I suppose you could make up a flow of events that explains most of it away.
By the end, one of Ian's friends at the freak show helps Ian transform in order to fight Harker. This was questionable since Ian as a werewolf couldn't even break shackles, yet, Harker could flip a truck with one hand, take multiple shotgun shells to the chest without flinching, and move so fast it was like teleporting. Yeah...goodnight Ian. I am glad that they made vampires extremely powerful, but Harker is killed extremely easy as they realize it's daylight all of a sudden. Funny, I was thinking it was closer to midnight when the final showdown occurred but whatever. Harker appears to just keel over dead the moment sunlight hits him and turns to dust. With that said, I did enjoy all the nods to "Dracula" they included.
Despite the holes, I still think this was a decent entry that is actually worth watching--independently of the Howling franchise if need be. Similarly to part 5, this can stand on its own, but you do have more plot holes from that perspective. The take on the werewolf and vampire felt reminiscent of Universal's take on the creatures which was a nice touch. The story is surprisingly engaging and evenly paced as part 5 was. Although I would have preferred a direct continuation of part 5, this was still a decent entry in the grand scheme of the franchise. In fact, considering what little they had to work with, part 5 and 6 turned out remarkably well. As for part 7 on the other hand...
Notable Moment: When Mary Lou appears at the freak show. They could have made so much more of that plot line in the right hands.
Final Rating: 5.5/10
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Strangers are invited to a castle's reopening as they discover a bizarre connection to one another--I wonder if it has anything to do with werewolves...
Review: Setting aside that this is a blatant ripoff of "The Beast Must Die," I feel this is the best film in the franchise--easily rivaling part one. I'm sure many Howling fans will not agree with that assessment, but, unlike part one, this film was actually pretty creepy and didn't overkill with the werewolves. They also wisely removed the horny werewolves, added moody atmosphere, unsettling music, and an intriguing mystery. On top of that, none of the entries in this franchise, including part one, could be considered remotely scary except this one; you really had no idea when or where the werewolf was going to appear. I'm not saying this film is perfect, because it is quite flawed with all manner of plot holes the viewer must fill in on their own or accept the nonsense as presented. However, for what it was, and considering this is a part 5 after all, they managed to pull off a respectable addition that avoided a lot of the pitfalls of the past entries.
The story begins 500 years ago in Hungary as a castle's court are either killed or kill themselves. They later explain that this was due to them all being cursed to be werewolves or to have the potential; I really don't know. In the "present" we meet a handful of people who have been invited to the castle's reopening, but, in actuality, they are the descendants of a baby that survived that massacre. There are some problems with this plot that needed fleshing out or they hoped to fill in the gaps with future installments. They imply each descendant grew up as an orphan--how? This would imply someone or thing was actively consolidating the descendants, but for what purpose? This movie briefly explains that there is an order of werewolf hunters (never shown), but it wouldn't make sense that they would spare the offspring if they were worried about one being a werewolf. Does the birth of a new cursed person magically kill off the parents? Ehh...we can make up whatever. Nevertheless, one of the people invited to the castle is secretly a werewolf.
As they investigate the castle, the visitors quickly realize the organizer, a count, is hiding something just as a blizzard rolls in to trap them all. Shortly after this, isolated individuals are picked off one by one by the werewolf. You might not think they would set this scenario up competently, but the atmosphere is surprisingly well done; the claustrophobic corridors and effective lighting were great. Of course I question the werewolf's ability to know the castle's layout, but they do infer a telepathic link between the descendants and a sort of longing to be at this location; maybe there was more to those birthmarks or something. On the other hand, fans have theorized that there were two werewolves all along. I do agree, there are quite a few inconsistencies that could be explained away by a second werewolf. There was the whole subplot about the group hitting "something" on their way to the castle. One character claims to suspect there is more than one, and the werewolf does do a few teleportation acts. Bad editing, plot contrivances, or was there more to it? I will say this, when you learn the werewolf is one of the ladies, I think it could have been very plausible that she was drawn to a mate already at the castle. At the same time, there is the ambiguity of the werewolves being magically birthed from Satan so maybe the devil himself was creeping about.
So yes, you eventually discover the werewolf was this one girl, an actress, who tricked everyone into thinking she was innocent. The movie actually ends with only her and another guy alive, but she gives a creepy smile at the camera as the other guy says werewolves aren't real--believing the count was crazy. Despite a kind of cool twist, there are problems with this revelation. For one, she wears the same set of clothes all movie yet it is implied she transforms on a whim in front of some victims. Continuity error or bullshit? When one guy gets killed we are meant to believe she was just soundly sleeping right there?! There are multiple instances where the girl is isolated with someone but chose not to kill them for whatever reason. Why does the count and everyone else assume the werewolf is among the remaining cast instead of a character who disappeared?
A few other things worth mentioning: they never explain if the bullets in the count's gun were silver. This werewolf is a lot more powerful than the previous ones we've seen, yet, it has no desire to turn others into one? I wish they didn't leave so much ambiguous in regard to the mythos since we're ignoring the other installments. Are there a bunch of werewolves out there? Is this the last one? Is this supposed to be the origin of all the other werewolves we've seen in this franchise?
I have my issues with this film, but I see a lot of potential to be explored compared to the other disasters. The movie was successful at presenting an engaging mystery that isn't overtly obvious and leaves plenty of room for further speculation; that old school, "whodunnit" plot line worked wonders in breathing new life to this series. Having the werewolf lurking more in the shadows, with only sporadic shots, worked in their favor in a manner similar to "Jaws." The tension is decent as you are on guard for when the werewolf will appear next. While the flaws I've outlined are considerable, they don't ruin the experience in the way the shoddy editing kills the fun of part 2. Overall, this was the best entry for me, and I actually believe this is a cool movie in general that stands on its own merit without the other sequels.
Notable Moment: When the one guy gets killed out in the snow. Yeah...because the werewolf was totally like, "Okay, I'm going to let you live since you're unconscious, but I'm going to build a little snowfort to pop out of since I psychically know your next move will be to go outside." Come the fuck on!
Final Rating: 6/10
Monday, March 9, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Recovering from a psychotic episode. a writer stays at a cabin nearby a town full of werewolves.
Review: After the overwhelming levels of shenanigans in the last two entries, they tried to go back to the basics with part 4. Perhaps they went a little too far back? The story is all too similar to the first film, albeit, a closer adaptation of the book. At the same time, they made a few missteps that could have been golden opportunities to put this franchise on track. For one, the werewolves don't show up until extremely late in the game, and it didn't help that the only good shot of a werewolf we got looked like Cellar Dweller; the rest appear as mere wild dogs. Then there were those dumb psychic visions--where did those come from? I have my own explanation that could have worked, but the movie doesn't acknowledge this and they sort of lose relevance by the end. I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of horny werewolves. We're four movies in and all these dumb creatures ever seem to do is want to fuck. I prefer my werewolves as bloodthirsty killers who rip you to shreds. Plus, this film and the last both imply werewolves die to any old method. What the hell? It's silver or get the fuck out.
So the story focuses on a writer, named Marie, who inexplicably pulls psychic visions out of her ass. I suppose we could assume she's had them her whole life, and used them for her writing, but, given the events of the film, that would be highly unlikely. Sometimes she can see the past while other times it's the future. Right. Using these visions as a contrivance to get the plot rolling, Marie and her wannabe Richard Marx husband...named Richard...stay at a cabin in the woods so that Marie can regain her focus with writing. Needless to say, the whole town near the cabin is infested with werewolves yet again. Though, why is this town supposed to be redneck territory despite being in driving distance from Los Angeles? And again, the husband is seduced by a werewolf girl. But of course! Surprisingly, the intrigue isn't too bad as you are left wondering what's going on for a time; there is this whole subplot about a nun that tried to exorcise the werewolves believing them to be demons.
We get a lot of howling and POV shots of the wolfies, but that doesn't cut it; I don't think the first legit shot is until the hour mark. Richard Marx becomes a werewolf at one point, but I don't fully understand his transformation. So each time the werewolves transform they become chocolate milkshakes or is that supposed to be what happens when you pop your wolfie cherry? And were those assholes chanting something about Satan? Uhh...okay. By the last 15 minutes or so, the movie finally picks up with a pretty cool final showdown with the werewolves. One of Marie's friends, another nun, lures the werewolves to a bell tower while Marie burns their candy asses. Don't worry though, we get a nice cornball zinger to close it out.
Overall, this was an improvement over the last two movies, in terms of quality, but nothing really happens and things get boring quick. I felt like the biggest waste was not throwing in a twist that was sitting right there. Make Marie the werewolf! Forget the whole town of werewolves bullshit as that is seen coming a million miles away. That should have been the red herring. The visions shouldn't have been stupid visions in the first place as that makes no damn sense anyway. They should have been memories of Marie as a werewolf. In other words, instead of visions of dead people, she is remembering people she killed. Plus, she's supposed to be a writer with a vivid imagination, right? Her "imagination" should have been the things she saw and did as a werewolf. Besides, we don't know what kind of books she writes--a great opportunity for a hint. When the husband explained how he chose the cabin, they could have threw in a subtle hint that Marie had been there before to help inspire her writing. The whole movie could have been a buildup to the revelation that Marie, was, in fact, a werewolf all along and end it with her eating Richard Marx or getting shot by Christoper Lee for all I care. Finally, this would fit the notion of "original nightmare" better as they would go back to the roots of werewolf lore; people who are cursed to be werewolves and don't necessarily even know what they're doing. Oh well. For what it is, this is one of the moderate entries in the franchise--it's not terrible, but it's not good either.
Notable Moment: The moment those opening credits roll. If you had any concern whether you were watching an '80s movie, those doubts should be immediately alleviated.
Final Rating: 5/10
Friday, March 6, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Werewolves. Australia. Shenanigans. 'Nuff said.
Review: Every horror franchise, with at least three sequels, must have its obligatory "Halloween 3" equivalent. You've got Jason 5, Freddy 2, Leprechaun 4, Hellraiser 4, and the list goes on and on. You know...that sequel that makes no fucking sense and stands out among the others due to its oddity? Well, this is that entry for the Howling franchise. The sheer amount of shenanigans plaguing this movie is truly astounding. Again, I think we have a case of a script written in crayon--maybe finger paint this time around. While "Howling II" was no stranger to zany antics, and the editing was mental patient-chic, it at least had the gravitas of Christopher Lee, Sybil Danning's ample milk dispensers, that theme song, and a certain charm to the cornball nature of it all. "Howling III," on the other hand, has none of those things and takes itself far too seriously. But hey, at least it's still better than part 7 so it has that going for it!
Hmm...how to explain the events of this film. Huh. Well, the story has nothing to do with the other films or even common werewolf mythology. Now the werewolves are, you guessed it, fucking marsupials (not that this even matters). There's something about them coming from a wolf spirit or some shit...whatever, dude. The main werewolf girl runs away from the pack for the lulz when she is spotted by a guy working on a movie who wants her for a part. Apparently this guy has fallen in love at first sight which was pure bullshit and quite sad really. They fuck and the girl is pregnant almost immediately. I like how the guy doesn't question her kangaroo pouch or excessive amounts of body hair. Good lord. Also, how do werewolves breed? Look, I've read all kinds of shit over the years, like drinking water from the paw print of a wolf will make you a werewolf, but it's always a case of a human becoming one. This just doesn't work for me.
Anyway, while this nonsense is unfolding, scientists, with the assistance of the world's governments, are acknowledging the werewolf discovery. Except they already know they exist...and they thought they killed them all...or something along those lines. All of a sudden we get a random, Russian werewolf ballerina as she feels drawn to Australia. Half the time, you will probably be wondering what the hell is even happening in this movie so don't fret. The scientists study the werewolves after discovering their location in Australia. I will admit, the one thing I did like was that the town was called "flow" or wolf spelled backward; kinda reminds me of a certain "Nilbog" town. One scientist loves ballerina werewolf as he decides he will sabotage everything and free the beasts. There's something about hunters running around looking for them too. These hunters are then killed by a werewolf who turns into a spiritual monster...I guess. This werewolf dies for no discernible reason as well, but his skeleton can still fight? Uhh, okay. Then the government says, "Okay, send two guys to kill the werewolves and if they die never, ever send reinforcements." These two soldiers appear to be killed by a giant werewolf god that is thankfully blown up by a bazooka. Considering no one witnesses this scene, and it's not mentioned again, it really makes you wonder what was the point.
Next thing you know, the main werewolf girl, her loverboy, the scientist, and ballerina werewolf are just living in the outback having the time of their stupid lives. The entire last act of the film is all upbeat as we see the werewolf families grow up; in fact, the scientist's werewolf daughter was pretty cute. It's like 25 years later or something as everyone has moved back to civilization since the government, along with the pope, has given amnesty to werewolves. Psssssssssst...oh fuck...that's a good one! Everything seems to be going great with the main girl winning a fake Academy Award as she randomly turns into a werewolf on stage. The end. Yeeeaaah. Umm...I'm just gonna leave it at that.
What can I say? The story is a complete mess from start to finish with little to no direction. Events are strung together aimlessly, and they appear to forget this is a horror movie about an hour or so in. There are instances where they try to have fun with the material, but it's hard to have fun when they keep pushing this "can't we all just get along together" message every two seconds. I also don't understand why they wasted the chance to link this story to the last film; just throw in a line about the Australian werewolves distancing themselves from Stirba or whatever. As you will come to realize, parts 4-8 have nothing to do with this entry so this is a parallel universe at best. While this is a more competently made film than part 7, part 7 needs to be experienced! I wouldn't even bother with this entry unless you want the werewolf version of "Twilight."
Notable Moment: When all of the hunters' rifles coincidentally jam at once. The contrivances, baby. Must have been more of that wolfie magic.
Final Rating: 3/10
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Misfits try to stop a werewolf queen from taking over the world or something along those lines.
Review: What kind of dumbass title is that for a movie? It's supposed to have ellipses in it too...fuck that (see what I did there?). I like the original title, "Stirba--Werewolf Bitch," a helluva lot better! Goodness gracious this movie is a mess, but it's certainly worthy of a so-bad-it's-good title. You have one of the worst examples of editing--EVER--with random scenes inserted, the same shots repeated, and nonsensical cuts left and right. Was someone's cat just running around on the equipment, and this is what came out? The story is hilariously moronic with all manner of shenanigans and zany hijinks. None of this matters, because the cornball nature of the production is enjoyable. Then you've got the great Christopher Lee--clearly embarrassed--accompanied by Sybil Danning's tits almost as a character unto themselves. If werewolf orgies are your thing, this film has you covered! What can I say...the '80s, man.
Well, this story has virtually nothing to do with the original which is a nice way to kick things off, right? They claim the main dude is Karen's brother, but, come on, you're not fooling anyone. Plus, they screw up the continuity with a new actress playing Karen, they claim no one saw the news boradcast where she turned into a werewolf, and somehow she's still magically alive because they took the silver slugs from her body; uhhh...that's not how it works but okay. All of this is inconsequential, because the story focuses on some kind of werewolf queen named Stirba, played by Ms. Danning and her two best friends. I guess werewolves can age since Stirba absorbs the life force of some girl in order to be young again. From there she will use her wolfy magic to turn the world into animals...or something...hell if I know. Mr. Lee and the two main idiots, Ben and Jenny (Jerry), decide to go to Transylvania to fight Stirba; yeah, Transylvania. There are werewolves everywhere, and it's ambiguous as to whether they control the area or simply hide out there. I do like the random instance of eating, seemingly gay, German tourists. Yes, that was a totally necessary scene.
Even though silver still kills the werewolves, a few, like Stirba, can only be killed by titanium all of a sudden. No explanation on that? Sure! Mr. Lee has a few flunkies that are completely useless in fighting werewolves. In fact, the werewolves are so incompetent that they too can only kill someone when the script demands it. One of the worst parts is when Mr. Lee and his last flunky split up for no discernible reason except so that the flunky can get killed by a werebat(?). They eventually claim Stirba is Mr. Lee's sister despite her trying to flirt her way out of death. If that weren't ridiculous enough, I think they forgot the part where they said Stirba was like 10,000 years old or whatever. So...either Stirba's parents really get around or Mr. Lee is still playing Dracula. I guess that makes sense considering her did pull "the blood of Christ" out of his ass at one point. And there was that revolver that fired infinite bullets--can't forget that. Come to think of it, Stirba's flunkies had machine guns and yet they chose to consistently ditch those in favor or turning into werewolves. Where was I? Oh yeah...Stirba dies and lights on fire which kills Mr. Lee. Ben and Jerry somehow instantly get back to the USA just in time for Halloween. A little werewolf boy trick or treats at their apartment, and they simply laugh it off. Wow, what an exciting conclusion. Then we get to see the two best parts of the film featured SEVENTEEN times during the ending credits! Gotta give credit where credit's due for that one.
Needless to say, this is a colorful little tale. It's certainly memorable that's for sure. Just try and get that idiotic theme song out of your head. The acting, special effects, story, etc. are all pure shit. The editing is in a league all by itself with very few comparisons in cinema to match (probably worse than "The Haunted Dollhouse's" level). However, it's hard to ignore the over the top nature to the production. Only a total hardass isn't going to be laughing during this catastrophe; this is like movie magic right here. Hell, watch this simply for Ms. Danning if need be. While this is nowhere near the best entry in the franchise, it's undeniably the most enjoyable!
Notable Moment: That ending montage. Dear lordy--the same titty shot 17 times!
Final Rating: 5/10
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A traumatized reporter stays at a wannabe hippie colony that is home to werewolves.
Review: The time has finally come to review this godforsaken franchise. Actually, the films in this series aren't that bad; it's mostly just part 7 that leaves its ugly stain upon cinema. The first entry was based on a book of the same title, but all the other sequels make up whatever they want. Speaking of which, there are a lot of inconsistencies, plot holes, and contrivances throughout the franchise. I find it's best to simply take each movie on its own rather than trying to create an overall continuity; the films try, and fail miserably, to establish a flowing narrative. Other than these odd deviations between sequels, there isn't much that is exceptional about this franchise. If anything, the truly notable aspect to this series is the fact that they kept making them! How in the hell did they muster the funds and interest for 8 films?! My goodness...
A few ground rules probably need to be established regarding how werewolves work in this universe. They loosely touch upon the notion that werewolves are shapeshifters--a myth which is attributed to explaining away werewolves and vampires alike. What this boils down to is that they don't need a full moon to transform--they can do it at will in broad daylight if need be. This leads into the idea that they are mentally in control of their werewolf side unlike Universal's classic depiction of the Wolfman; but you'll notice they play fast and loose with this idea too. They still die to silver but that kind of gets tossed up in the air from time to time in the sequels. Also, silver kills them, but they can still be hurt and slowed down by conventional means of death; their regenerative abilities are questionable as well from film to film. However, the aspect that fluctuates the most is their strength. Sometimes they can rip you limb from limb while other times they are laughably weak and slow; it all comes down to the contrivances that keep the story rolling.
Setting all the bullshit aside for a second, the first film is decent but there isn't a lot going on. Dee Wallace plays a mildly famous reporter, named Karen, who makes contact with a serial killer. Surprise, he's really a werewolf and is shot by the police. Traumatized by this incident, for whatever reason, Karen and her annoying husband stay at a kind of retreat in the woods at the behest of a psychiatrist. Of course everyone at this place, they refer to as a colony, are werewolves as well. See, you can't trust hippies...ever. As it turns out, that psychiatrist was a werewolf trying to help the serial killer live a normal life, but the killer couldn't keep his shit together. This was a cool dynamic as the psychiatrist wants the werewolves to fit in and control their wolf side. Unfortunately, a lot of the werewolves don't enjoy the idea of being tamed and act out through killing people.
The psychiatrist wants Karen and her bitch boy husband to join the colony, but Karen says hell no; the bitch boy becomes a werewolf though. After one of Karen's friends gets killed, another guy Karen works with shows up with silver bullets and incredible marksman abilities pulled right out of his ass. The psychiatrist gets killed and thanks the guy; you always have to throw in at least one character thankful to be dead in werewolf films. After killing nearly every flunky werewolf, Karen and her friend escape but not before Karen is bit by her stupid husband! This is what I meant about how they present the werewolves as in complete control of themselves, with their personalities intact, yet the husband goes berserk? Hmm. Karen and the friend go to the TV station they work at and Karen transforms into a werewolf during a live broadcast. The friend shoots Karen, and we cut to one of the werewolves hanging out at a bar ordering a burger. Well, I like her style. They wanted to be original, and amuse me greatly, so they end the film and rolls credits while this burger is being cooked. You have to give them points for style.
I know it may not sound like it's worth a view, but the first entry was pretty good. There is a certain dark humor to the experience with various cameos and other shenanigans going on in the background to enhance the fun. The main werewolf transformation is cool, but it's also funny how they have Karen kind of just looking around while it takes 3 minutes to wrap up. I thought the idea of the werewolves trying to domesticate themselves was interesting and probably should have been fleshed out more. For what it was, "The Howling" was a respectable addition to the werewolf sub-genre. The sequels on the other hand...well, we'll just have to see!
Notable Moment: When the one cop remarks that they're getting interference from too much neon. Welcome to the '80s, pal!
Final Rating: 6/10