Shaolin Vs. Vampire

Friday, January 20th, 2017

mv5bytvjmtlimditmgqxzs00nzq2lwexzdetmtu3ntk4mjg1mjvjl2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymzu0nzkwmdg-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Today we’re going to look at a movie which is available from Netflix, yet has only been seen by six IMDB users apparently.  Shaolin VS. Vampire is a Hong Kong film that is part of the Jiangshi genre, which features their version of Vampires.  The vampires in Chinese culture are somewhat different.  They are still undead, fanged, predators, but are more like a cross between voodoo zombies and ghosts otherwise.  The priests are able to control them with written spells they stick onto them, but if not they are usually evil and prey on people for their souls.  They’re also more zombie-like in appearance.

Films featuring these vampires were popular in Asian horror films of the 80s, so this one from 1980 was the first of many.  Having seen a handful of others, like Encounters of the Spooky Kind and Mr. Vampire, I can tell you that this is the most family friendly one.  The others are humorous, but this one stars two kids and has no blood or gore whatsoever.  The story revolves around a little girl, Bee, who becomes friends with a vampire boy who is lurking around the set of a vampire movie, which her dad is a stuntman on.  It turns out the ‘filmmakers’ are really there trying to scare off the villagers, as the director is really an evil sorcerer who wants to take control of the vampires there.  The girl and her father are the only ones who are brave enough to stay and fight him.

This is definitely a unique take on vampires, even knowing their lore in this part of the world.  The vampire boy reminds you a lot of Casper the Friendly Ghost, as he is kind and helpful to the girl and her family.  There are some sad, dramatic moments as well as a lot of fun, happy ones, and I liked how they balanced that.  It’s on par with anime films of the time.  The film isn’t very predictable either, which I love in any movie.

On the other hand, there are scenes meant to surprise the audience that came off as confusing or out of nowhere.  For instance, they start a fight scene and then cut to a dream sequence without ending the fight.  I’m still not sure when that dream started, and it was very unnecessary.  Then later, the vampire boy is able to control the weather all of a sudden.  In my research, I didn’t see anything about vampires being able to do that, so I can’t say why they added that in the script.  The filmmakers may have thought that we’d be so enchanted by how cute the kids are that we wouldn’t care about those things.

This isn’t a good movie, but it wasn’t really bad either.  It was interesting to see that one of the first in this genre was basically a kids’ movie, but the more adult ones that followed are much better.  I would recommend this for older kids that like scary movies, or anyone who likes both family friendly horror and Asian horror.  Overall, it’s an okay movie, and more people should check it out.

**1/2 Shaolin Vs. Vampire gets two and a half stars.

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Moving Violations

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

5831Moving Violations is a 1985 comedy film.  It is from the creators of Police Academy, and the director of Bachelor Party.  The film features an interesting cast.  The star is John Murray, one of Bill Murray’s brothers, who acts just like him in this movie.  Jennifer Tilly plays his romantic interest, and this was her second film.  We also see James Keach, brother of Stacey Keach, as the traffic school instructor.  That’s only the main cast, the supporting actors are also interesting.  Plus, there is a small part by Clara Peller that you can’t miss.

 

If it isn’t obvious from the title, I’ll tell you that this film is about a group of people who are sent to traffic school for their numerous moving violations.  We mainly follow the character, Dana, played by Murray, who just happens to help Keach’s cop character, Halik, get demoted to traffic school instructor through hilarious circumstances.  Although it is mainly his own fault, Halik wants to ensure that Dana fails the class to get his revenge.  A judge, played by TV star, Sally Kellerman, has been illegally making money off of the cars impounded from the students.  She gets Halik involved in her scheme.  So, he makes the class harder for the students.  Dana senses something is fishy, so he and the rest of the class fight back hard to graduate the class and make things right again.

captura-transito-muito-louco-dvdrip-xvid-dublado-avi-1I enjoyed this movie very much.  The humor is, more often than not, really clever and witty.  All of the characters are fun and interesting too.  Not all of them are introduced before the class begins, and the ones that aren’t really surprise you because they aren’t what they appear to be.  In other movies that can come off as stupid or out of nowhere, but here it felt more organic and realistic because that’s how the actors played it.  There was no bad acting from anyone.  The story included some situations that were far fetched, but overall it flowed organically, and the ending doesn’t disappoint you.

Speaking of those far fetched situations, there are quite a few, and the movie asks you to just go along with it.  A couple of times the characters were being so unbelievably dumb, I had to ask ‘what’s wrong with you’?  In those moments, I felt that I was watching a bad sitcom on TV, and not a movie.  Towards the end, there are many crazy coincidences that were a bit hard to believe as well.  All of it is for the sake of comedy, of course, so I tried not to let it bother me, but I could see others being more bothered.

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I’ll say it again, I really enjoyed this movie.  It’s hilarious, and anyone who likes a good crazy comedy, such as Police Academy or Bachelor Party, should see it too.  I recommend it highly.  On the other hand, if you know that kind of humor is going to get on your nerves, stay away from this.  There are some very dumb moments, and far fetched situations, so be aware of that.

**** Moving Violations gets 4 stars out of 5.

Born To Defense

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

born_to_defence_dvd_coverBorn to Defense (or Defend, on some copies) is a 1986 Jet Li film from Hong Kong.  It was only released here in the U.S. recently.  So, chances are that most Americans in the 80s were not familiar with Li yet.  Nevertheless, Li’s career began in the 80s, and this was his fourth film.  Now let’s get into the plot of the movie.

Li plays a soldier in China.  It’s the end of WWII, and he and his friends are settling down to normal lives again.  They find that it isn’t that easy, as a bunch of American soldiers are sticking around.  The Americans have worn out their welcome, and are now a nuisance, pushing around everyone else.  Li and his friends are pushed to fighting with them.  Most importantly, Li’s friend’s daughter is having trouble with the American soldiers as she attempts to get out of the prostitution ring she joined during the war.  So, Li gets into a series of boxing matches to show up the Americans, and try to encourage them to leave, or at least leave them alone.image-w448

Jet Li is fantastic in this film.  I’d really like to see more of his early work because he was so great in this one.  He can carry a dramatic role as well as the incredibly intense fighting scenes.  The boxing matches are especially riveting because his character isn’t used to that fighting style.  The story itself has a good balance of emotions, it’s happy and a bit humorous at the right times, and then dark and gritty when you need it.  In the end, you’re surprised, sad, and delighted all at once.  Not many movies make you feel that way.

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What wasn’t so fantastic about this film was the rest of the cast.  They all play one dimensional characters, especially the American soldiers.  I had a hard time telling apart the two main bad guys Li was fighting throughout the film.  The only real difference is that one of them wears sunglasses, and is tougher to fight.  We don’t get to know the Americans at all, or even what reasons they have to be sticking around China at the end of the war.  I kept wondering why they couldn’t just go home.  The film seemed to show that they were just racist, egotistical, morons, which doesn’t make for compelling villains in a film.

If you can look past the way the film portrays Americans, you’ll get to see a really strong performance from a young Jet Li.  Although this isn’t the greatest film, it’s a really emotional story with intense action.  That’s really what good action movies should be too.  So, I recommend this film to any martial arts fans out there.

***1/2 Born to Defense gets three and a half stars.

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

death_wish_4This is the fourth in the series of Death Wish films, which began in 1974.  They returned with sequels in the 80s because of the popularity of vigilante justice in the action genre at the time.  It was also the perfect time for a plot focused on young people dealing and taking drugs.  By 1987, when this movie came out, those topics were well worn.  The film didn’t make an impact, nor did it fare too well at the box office, only gaining back the money spent on it.

 

As I said, the plot deals with drugs, dealers, users, and their families.  Kersey is in a new relationship with a reporter, who has a teenage daughter.  We don’t learn much about their relationship other than the fact that they all get love each other as family.  The daughter is an aspiring architect, and Kersey is impressed with her work, but neither he nor her mom are aware that she has a drug problem.  She overdoses when out with friends, and all of a sudden she dies.  A mysterious man tells Kersey that his daughter died the same way, and he hires him to go after the drug dealers responsible for the deaths.  So, this film turns him into more of a hitman than a vigilante, but he is still out for justice because of his girlfriend’s daughter at the same time.

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This movie gives us a very serious and sad look at what drugs can do to young people and families.  It doesn’t shy away from any of it, and that really moved me.  What this movie does best is make you feel for anyone in that kind of situation.  Kersey’s girlfriend, her daughter, and the other teens in the film, were all very interesting, sympathetic characters that I enjoyed.  It isn’t often that the supporting cast is more memorable than the main character, but this movie did it.

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Perhaps I enjoyed the other characters so much because Bronson’s character has become so predictable after three films.  I knew what he was going to do every time, and he didn’t even try to surprise the audience by doing something a little different.  I was actually pretty upset when the film veered away from his girlfriend’s sub plot, which was more exciting, and only got back to it close to the end.  The action in the film was on the same level as the previous films, but not as exciting for the most part.  For an action movie, it could have used a lot more action.

Overall, this fourth installment of Death Wish isn’t worth the time.  It feels more like watching an episode of a show most of the time, in fact.  So, I’d recommend watching Miami Vice instead.  Bronson’s Kersey is no longer an interesting character in this film.  It may have helped if they’d try to build on his character, but no such luck.  Perhaps Death Wish 5 will be better?

 

** Death Wish 4 gets two stars out of five.

1982 – Horror Movies (Part 2)

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Let us continue now to review the horror films of 1982.  So far, we’ve looked at only the most popular films of the year.  In this part, we’ll look at some of the others.  From the ones that were forgotten gems to the ones that were just okay, and a few that weren’t good but are interesting.

Amityville II: The Possession

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This movie is the prequel to the popular 1979 movie, The Amityville Horror.  Although, as you can see in my review, it wasn’t a bad movie, but it did have a lot of problems.  The critics at the time hated it too.  Since it was made with such a small budget, it was able to make a profit.  That meant that we would get more stories from Amityville in the future.  The next one came out in 1983, and was in 3D.

Silent Rage

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Here’s an oddity: a sci-fi horror film with martial arts action that stars Chuck Norris.  If you like mixed genre films, you have to check it out.  You get the sci-fi horror from an escaped madman who was being used in scientific experiments.  He’s super strong, practically immortal, and Norris is the only one who can stop him.  This movie’s either brilliant, or so bad it’s good.  See it for yourself.

The Forest

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The Forest is another camping in the forest related slasher film.  It is obvious that it’s riding on the tails of other slasher films from last year, like Friday the 13th and The Burning.  At least we can be thankful that this one doesn’t give us more kids at summer camps.  It gets right to the heart of things: people being in danger from a maniac in the forest.  Not a bad horror movie at all, it’s even a bit humorous, but it doesn’t do much to stand out from the rest.

The Beast Within

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Another horror film adapted from a book, although at the time that book may not have been completed.  Perhaps that is part of why this film is so messy.  It’s also been said that the studio cut out too many scenes.  Either way, the movie has a convoluted story about a woman who was raped by a creature and gave birth to a son who turns into a monster as well, hence the ‘beast within’ him.  The best things about the film are the good actors, the special effects, and that it helped launch Tom Holland’s (future director of Fright Night and Child’s Play) career.

Alone in the Dark

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This is a film I have already reviewed here, so I wont write too much about it again.  Alone in the Dark wasn’t noticed much at the time of its release.  Since it appeared to be so similar to Halloween, and other slasher films, it was most likely only seen by the die hard horror fans.  That’s too bad, since it is one of the better slasher films of the time.  The story is interesting, so I recommend checking out my review on here if you are interested.  It is also another early movie from New Line Cinema, and stars Donald Pleasance.

Q: The Winged Serpent

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Q is a favorite of mine from 82.  The winged serpent refers to the dragon you see on the poster.  It’s exactly what you see on this poster, a dragon loose in NYC swooping down and eating whoever he finds.  The cast try to figure out where the dragon is and how to kill it before it kills them.  It’s a simple, fun movie.  Check it out.

Visiting Hours

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Visiting Hours is a Canadian film, starring well known actors, Michael Ironside, William Shatner, and Lee Grant.  It’s the kind of movie that critics of horror can cite when they proclaim that the genre is all about attacking women.  The protagonist is literally a feminist activist and the antagonist a misogynistic slasher.  Since it’s not a really good movie, it’s hard to tell what kind of commentary they were trying to make on this issue, but I’d say skip it nonetheless.

The House Where Evil Dwells

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The House Where Evil Dwells may be one of the first horror movies to try and mix Japanese and American horror.  It’s about an American family who move to a haunted house in Japan.  The story reminds us of the Amityville films after that, though.  Not to mention how slow and boring it is for the most part.  This was an interesting idea for a movie, but I don’t think they got it right this time.

Humongous

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Humongous is a monster slasher film from Canada brought to us by the director of Prom Night.  It’s a poorly made film with a story that’ll remind you of Beast Within mixed with The Forest, which both came out the same year, and other similar slasher films.  Apparently the US version has a lot of the violence cut, so the uncut Canadian version may help it a little.  I wouldn’t recommend this one.

Trick or Treats

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Trick or Treats is a movie I hope no one ever mistakenly watches.  It’s a terrible attempt at a Halloween rip off film.  It’s got the babysitter and the psycho out to get someone, but they got everything else wrong.  The boy she babysits is a prankster, who has a lot of fake looking gags and none of it is funny.  Plus there are a ton of plot holes.  It’s really a mess, and I don’t recommend it.

Weird Science

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

weird-science-poster2_1225835424_51 Weird Science is a 1985 film from the greatest teen filmmaker of the decade, John Hughes.  This was his most unusual teen film.  The movie includes the romance, understanding of teen culture, and starred teens like the other films did.  This time, though, we get a coming of age through a fantasy adventure.  It’s also sci-fi, but obviously a very goofy sci-fi comedy type.  I doubt that anyone in 1985 really believed a computer could create life, no matter how mysterious and wonderful we believed them to be.

Since this film has become a classic among 80s movie fans, you may already know the plot, but I will describe it briefly for the anyone who doesn’t know.  Friends, Wyatt and Gary, are geeks with no social lives who sit around wishing they could go out to parties and get girlfriends.  While watching Frankenstein, during their sleepover at Wyatt’s when his parents are away, Gary has the idea that they could use a computer to make a girl.  So, they hack into secret government computers, input a bunch of data for the perfect woman, and hook up a doll to the computer.  Miraculously, it works, and the doll comes to life.  The woman they create turns their world upside down, doing all kinds of crazy things to make her creators the cool dudes they wish to be.  Things get out of control fast, and they need to put everything right before Wyatt’s parents get home.

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I first saw this movie when I was thirteen, I last saw it yesterday, and it is still the hilarious, fun, adventure of a movie it was back then.  Hughes knows comedy as well as he knows teens, so he could make any kind of comedy he wanted.  He must have had a love for the Universal monster movies to make this, though.  Their creating life sequence is very impressive as well as funny.  I was always intrigued by the computer images too.  Imagine seeing all of that unfolding on your screen, it’s pretty frightening.  Luckily they don’t go into too much detail about how it works, so you can suspend your disbelief easier.  It was also nice that Lisa didn’t act like she was created from a computer, or like a robot.  LeBrock may have only been a model with very little acting experience, but she is electric as Lisa in the movie.  The rest of the cast is filled with fantastic teen actors too.  And Bill Paxton’s Chet is the most obnoxious brother you’ve ever seen on film.  For all of these reasons, this movie is a delight to watch.

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It is hard to say anything bad about a film that is so great, but no movie is perfect.  First, I want to warn anyone who hasn’t seen this film yet that it is extremely goofy.  There are even jokes where the actors will look at the camera, knowingly.  It may be too silly for some people, as we all know that humor is subjective.  A few scenes, like the one with Gary’s parents meeting Lisa, get so out of control that it’s hard to believe they could be resolved realistically.  Of course, it doesn’t, and those quick and easy explanations for such situations may irk some viewers.  If you think too hard about the realities of what is going on in the film and why, you wont get much enjoyment out of it.

So, to conclude, don’t think of this movie as science fiction.  It’s all about the fantasies of teenage boys on the surface.  Under the surface, it’s another classic coming of age story from Hughes.  All of the teens learn and grow throughout the film, with the help of Lisa.  We all get to see and learn how letting loose and shaking things up a little can bring about change, how strange situations can give us courage, and that real life can be better than fantasy.

 

***** Weird Science gets five out of five stars.

Graduation Day

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

graduation-day-1981Graduation Day is one of the many 1981 slasher films.  It is also one of the many horror films that use a specific special event or holiday as its setting.  I have yet to see any other horror films that are set around a graduation day, so it definitely is unique in that regard.  What also makes it interesting is the cast.  The film was one of the first horror movies for scream queen Linea Quigley.  We also get to see Vanna White, right before she started her role on Wheel of Fortune.

The story is about the death of the track team’s star runner, Laura.  She mysteriously collapses dead after winning her last race.  Her older sister, Anne, returns home from the military for her sister’s graduation, but instead has to investigate what happened to her sister.  Meanwhile, the other members of the team are being murdered one by one.  She, the coach, Laura’s teammates, and even the other teachers at the school, are all suspects with motives.  Who is the killer?  Will anyone make it through this graduation day alive?

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If you enjoy a fun slasher film as much as I do, you will enjoy this movie.  It’s got everything you expect from the genre, and makes sure that the characters are likable too.  The best thing about the movie is the killer and the killer’s motives.  I’m not going to give it away, but once you figure it out, it makes a lot of sense and you even feel bad for what happened to the characters.  At the same time, the killer delivers some really good scares, especially towards the end.  Not to mention how they add more unique qualities to the story by having the killer’s weapon be a fencing sword, and using a stopwatch during every kill.  Little touches like that make this movie stand out from other slasher films of 81.

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Unfortunately, there is also a lot going on in the movie that is cliche and corny.  For instance, there are a lot of fake outs.  Meaning, scenes where there is tension built, as if they killer will soon strike, only to be revealed as something nonthreatening or ordinary.  Sort of like a jump scare without the jump.  That, and other filler scenes, draw out the time in between the kills so much that you get a little bored from time to time.  The deaths in the movie are mostly generic too.

To conclude my review, let’s see how this film rates on blood and gore.  I counted six kills throughout the film that were bloody.  Three scenes had non-bloody violence, although one of those was probably because the lighting was bad.  There is only one scene where we get a bit of gore, and it comes at the end, so it is well deserved and memorable.  Graduation Day may not be one of the best from 81, but it’s a fun slasher movie that’s worth watching if you’re a horror fan.

*** Graduation Day gets three stars.

The Stuff

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

the_stuff_variantThis 1985 film is totally a forgotten gem.  It was a low budget sci-fi horror, with a bit of a comedic tone, yet it also had a real message.  The movie did fine when it came out, but there were so many other big movies in 85 that it got pushed to the side.  That’s really too bad, because it’s a great movie.  On the surface it may appear to be a Blob rip-off, but it’s really like The Blob meets The Thing, with a dash of Scanners.

The story begins with the discovery of a strange substance in the ground, which a man promptly tastes and goes to market it as a desert for profit, calling it The Stuff.  Then we meet a young boy, who goes to the fridge in the middle of the night to find a container of their Stuff spilled out and is roaming the fridge on its own.  The boy rightfully is disturbed by this, and runs around trying to warn others and get rid of The Stuff at his local store.  No one believes the kid, but at the same time owners of rival desert companies hire a man to get some dirt on The Stuff for them, a man named Rutherford who plays by his own rules.  Rutherford teams up with the kid, and the woman responsible for the Stuff’s advertisements, to discover the secrets behind The Stuff.

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This is a movie I came across pretty randomly years ago, it isn’t talked about much even by 80s fans, but the themes it presents are as relevant today as they were in 1985.  Throughout the film there are commercials, jingles and print ads for The Stuff everywhere we look.  It almost makes you want to taste it yourself.  This shows you how effective ads can be, even for products we know are bad for us.  The Stuff is an obvious allegory for the drug problem in America, especially with over the counter drugs.

We see throughout the film how everyone becomes addicted to The Stuff, how it hurts their relationships with one another, how they become dependent on it, and eventually how it kills them when they’ve had too much.  The film doesn’t mention explicitly that The Stuff is alien, like in The Thing, but it does show right away that it comes from the ground, as many real life drugs do.  Other great things about this movie: the actors and the effects. Not every actor in the movie is a big star, but they all do a great job with their role.  The special effects, especially for the gorier scenes are also phenomenal.  It’s tough to make a desert scary, but this movie did it.

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Now that I’ve praised the film so highly, what could I have to say against it?  Only very minor things that that I noticed upon my re-watching the film, that’s what.  These are things you may or may not notice the first time around.  For one thing, the fact that the advertisement lady, Nicole, doesn’t do much of anything for most of the movie nor does she have many lines.  After Rutherford teams up with the kid, Jason, he leaves him alone on a plane asleep and seemingly forgets all about him until he finds him again later in the middle of the night.  Not the guy anyone would call on to babysit!  Lastly, if you do look at the effects with a more critical eye, it’s easy to spot when The Stuff is really on set and when it’s green screened into the movie.  Nothing too terrible here, though.

I highly recommend this film to all my readers.  It’s a fun sci-fi horror movie with more than enough humor and gore.  In fact, there were at least four scenes with wonderful 80s special effects gore.  There were a few other violent scenes, but nothing bloody.  Instead of blood, most people eat so much Stuff that they bleed that out instead.

****1/2 The Stuff gets four and a half stars.

Story – Doubles

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

Steven desperately wanted a friend.  Living out in the middle of nowhere, there were no kids his age around for miles.  All he had to keep him company was the TV set and his mom’s movies.  They were enjoyable for a while.  That was until he grew tired of the school bullies mocking him and his lonesomeness.

They could really get to him sometimes.  Except that he knew something that they did not.  He was a genius.  If he told anyone, they might think he was only bragging.  He knew it was true.

Science was Steven’s realm.  His mind could concoct the most elaborate and intricate experiments of anyone in his class.  When he was four, he invented a time travel device.  Unfortunately, it only took him back five minutes.  That night, he cleaned his room twice.  When he was six, he found a way to make conversation with honeybees.  They misunderstood his communications and stung him.

Now he was ten, and it was time that he invented something that worked how he intended.  While his mom was at work, he put on one of her VHS tapes.  He liked the noise in the background while he worked.  The latest invention was intended to create life, like Frankenstein had done.  Either this would work, or he would cause an electrical explosion in the house.  The device used television rays, microwaves, and his old time travel model 2 device.

Flickering lights signaled to Steven the imminent failure of his experiment, or so he feared.  A musical hum came next.  Sparks flew from the microwave and into the TV set.  Steven’s eyes widened.  He knew something was wrong.  His hands flew across the buttons and levers to try and shut down the new device.  Seemingly out of nowhere, a metal pan him him in the head.  Everything went black.

Once Steven woke up, he was laying in his own bed.  It was as if nothing had even happened.  At least until his mom entered the room.  Her face was full of worry and dust.  She came to his bedside, and gave him a hug.

“I’m so glad you’re alright, honey.” she said.

“What happened?”

“There was a fire.  Something went wrong with the TV.”

“Is that all?”

“Well I think that’s enough excitement for one night, don’t you?  Just get some sleep.”

The door opened again.  A man stepped into the room.  Not just any man.  It was the actor from the movie Steven had put on the TV last night.  Yes, that was Bruce Ferrell, action star.  He played Captain Amazing in the movies.

“Mom, that’s Captain Amazing!” he exclaimed.

His mom shook her head.

“No, he’s just a man who was passing by last night.  He saved you from the fire.” she told him, “Get some sleep and no more movies for now.”

Steven was certain the man was Captain Amazing, but he had no way to prove it.  All he had was the satisfaction that one of his experiments may have worked.  All in all, he was still a genius.  A genius who almost burned down his own house, but a genius nonetheless.

Amityville II : The Possession

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

amityville_2_possession_poster_01The prequel to 1979’s Amityville Horror came out in 1982.  It came out three years later, and eight years after the actual events it’s based on.  The poster says 1976, which is a typo, the movie is set in 1974.  This one also got a new director and writer (Tommy Lee Wallace, the original Michael Myers).  As a prequel, it tells the story of what happened to the family who lived in the house before the family from the first movie moved in.  So, if you’ve seen the first movie, you know that they are going to end up dead.

The film tells the story of the Montelli family who, as I said, move into a new home.  The house is already haunted, but they only discover this as many strange incidents occur over the length of the film.  The worst of things happens to their eldest son, Sonny.  He does and says strange things.  That’s where the possession part comes in, and where I will end my summary of the plot.

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Sonny is the best part of the film.  They handled his possession very well, making sure it was believable that no one suspected anything until the end.  The audience may not even be quite sure if he is really possessed or not, which gives off a more mysterious vibe in the end.  The filmmakers add in little creepy scenes too, like one where they use weird angles, and another with great special effects.  This film does a wonderful job of creating a creepy atmosphere around such a seemingly normal family.  The absolute best thing about this film is that, unlike most possession movies, we get to see what would really happen to a family living with a possessed family member.

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The worst part of this film is simply that it’s an unnecessary prequel.  If you paid attention to the first movie, or read the book at all, you know this family’s story already.  There are no real surprises or scares in the film because of that fact, so it basically fails as a horror film.  This is more of a docu-drama type of movie with a big budget.  The violent scenes of the film are also treated as such.  So, in addition to failing to scare the audience, it fails to deliver any of the blood and gore scares of a horror film as well.

In conclusion, if you are interested in the story of the family who lived in the Amityville house before the one made famous, you should either read the book or watch this film.  If you’re looking for a good horror movie, don’t look for one here.  Now, I will recount the instances of blood, violence and gore in the film.  There were four instances of non-bloody violence, one for bloody violence, two scenes with blood but no violence, and two jump scares.  There was no gore that I could find.  A lot of the real disturbing stuff happens off screen, so we don’t see anything too frightening.

 

*** Amityville II gets three stars out of four.