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Review Fatman (2020): Santa is taking it to the next level!

genre: action, comedy, fantasy

First Hollywood star Kurt Russel took a jab at playing Santa Clause in The Christmas Chronicles and now it's Mel Gibson. In both cases you would not expect these characters to take on the role. While Kurt took the more traditional approach Mel does it a little differently.

At first glance it may look like Fatman is demystifying and mocking Santa Clause. However in hindsight I don't think this is the case. All the traditional elements are here but with a twist. Santa is a little out of his element. He is grumpy and doubting himself. Then an event occurs which makes him realize he needs to change things up. What is this event? Well, spoiled brat Billy Wenan puts out a hit on Santa since he is disappointed with what he received as a gift from Santa. Since when is not getting what you want a reason to kill someone? How demented and evil do you have to be to even consider something like that? Then again, what is wrong with the hitman played by Walton Goggins? Should he even accept this job from this evil kid? Worst of all is the fact that he has been doing jobs for the kids for a long time. So again this kid is real bad news.

Meanwhile Santa is trying to keep his enterprise afloat. The Christmas spirit is at an all time low and because of that is forced to outsource his elves to the US government. As you might have guessed things seem to be real bad for Santa and his wife. You won't see happy faces or the usual magical stuff in most Christmas movies about Santa Clause. It's something you need to get used to since the film therefore is less festive. And I must admit that I didn't actually like the way this film ended. Then I gave it some thought and it dawned on me that it is very possible they wanted to bring back the old Santa Clause. The one who would let Krampus devour bad kids. But only if they ignore the last chance given by Santa. I kind of like that idea. Evil kids like Billy need to have put the fear of god into them. Otherwise they will never ever learn. Except this Santa Clause doesn't need Krampus to do the dirty work.

For some reason this film is being branded as a black comedy. It certainly is darker than you would expect. But I wouldn't call this film funny. While the premise might seem funny they way events are presented and acted I wouldn't call this a laugh riot. Actually I don't think apart from a few adult jokes there are any jokes. Naturally the concept is weird and bizarre there is nothing truly outrageous going on except for the violence. Somehow Mel Gibson and violence go together. So you shouldn't be surprised by that.

Overall Fatman certainly is a film that deserves to be watched. Just don't go expecting it to be something like Bad Santa or The Christmas Chronicles

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Review Vanguard (2020): Heavily flawed but leagues better than Kung-Fu Yoga!

genre: action, martial arts, bullet ballet

Stanley Tong and Jackie Chan used to be a golden duo. However after the travesty that was Kung-Fu Yoga my trust in both them was gone. So naturally I was a little cautious with Vanguard. And yes Vanguard is far from perfect and heavily flawed but action wise it certainly is a return to form for both of them. Although not exactly in the way you would expect.

While Jackie Chan does take part in the big action scenes he is not at the forefront of them. Most of the ass kicking is done by the younger actors, Yang Yang, Ai Lun and Miya Muqi. 

Especially Miya Muqi stands out as she is is graceful but super though. She did all her stunts herself and she spent three years learning jiu-jitsu, mixed martial arts, free diving, parachuting, motor-biking and racing. You can really tell because she does look like she is very experienced. She definitely is one of the highlights of this film.  

Yang Yang also impresses. I think he he is supposed to take over the wand from Jackie Chan as he is always the one initiating the action scenes. I am not sure if he has any martial arts background though. It doesn't really matter since it does look like he is very capable in choreography. That being said. There aren't that many fights. Most of the action consists of gun combat and an occasional punch, kick and throw. It makes sense since when people are shooting at you from left to right wouldn't you shoot back? Would it have been nice to see Jackie Chan do a proper fight scene? Sure but let's face it. He is 66 now. It just wouldn't be the same as he used to fight. However him doing gun combat is the smartest move ever since he does still have the agility and strength to make him look like a veteran soldier. It's my wish that Jackie Chan will either join The Expendables franchise or make his own Expendables film with veteran actors of Hong Kong cinema. 

Unfortunately the film does suffer a bit in narrative, characterization and climax. Even for a Jackie Chan film the plot is incredibly minimal. This would not have been a big deal had the characters been fleshed out a little more. I mean more than to point out how special and super they are. One of them is even being called Captain China. I know it's intended as a joke but still it is left ambiguous so that some can take this claim seriously. I don't mind propaganda when it's in service of the action but this kind is just too much. The finale which should have been explosive is rather anti climatic. And I don't really understand why that is. It almost felt like they already just had shot the biggest action sequence and then decided to the finale as an afterthought. Actually if it were up to me I would have finished the film right after the big action sequence since that would have provided a stronger ending. 

Still, as an action flick this certainly will give you the goods. Perhaps not as grand as we are used to from Jackie Chan and Stanley Tong. But still a whole lot better than most recent Hollywood action films which weren't superhero films. 

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Review Greenland (2020): Surprising disaster film!

genre: disaster, action, thriller, adventure, drama

Gerard Butler sometimes has the knack to be in really bad films. This never has been a problem for me since some of them even offer something entertaining. Even if there are exceptions to the rule like for example Geostorm. That one was bad without any redeeming factors. Fortunately Greenland is nothing like Geostorm.

Greenland in essence is a disaster film. But it's one that focuses on other matters. Usually you would have Butler be the one to stop the disaster somehow. In this one Butler is one of many people fighting to survive. Gerard Butler's character John Garrity does whatever he can for his wife and son to be save. John is burdened with guilt. We will find out why that is. It's a bit cliche. What's not cliche is the fact how his wife responds to it. Granted she is not really been given time to consider an alternative. However I would like to think that this disaster has put matters in perspective for her and others. That being said these characters are very flawed. Morena Baccarin's character Allison for example is a bit in denial when events start to happen. Especially considering her son. He is diabetic and apparently not very aware of this fact and constantly has to be told to take in insulin. Then why would she let him pack his own bag and not make sure he has it with him at all times? Or at least she should carry it for him. Still the son is a bit annoying in how he behaves. One could argue that he is still very young and not worldly. But I promise you even then you will shout at the screen for his passiveness. 

When events start to happen it looks like you can predict what is going to happen. And it's here where Greenland is different. Because it then points out issues you weren't expecting at all. Once you fully are into this mindset you will also find yourself screaming or arguing about what is transpiring. Since these are very sensitive topics. Greenland is very confronting with some harsh truths. Especially if you aren't paying close attention to the situation in the film. Mind you it does seem most people are kept in the dark about the situation. Still, if certain potential catastrophic events could happen would I be calm, composed and passive? Or would I be a little paranoid and prepare myself the best I can? 

In any case Greenland is quite intense and super thrilling at times and you will definitely have an entertaining viewing experience. 

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Review Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018): Like Spider-Man Noir says, this is a hardcore origin story!

genre: animation, super hero, comic book adaptation, action, adventure

The first time when I watched Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse I loved it. And like with most films I watched it was my intention to write a review for it. Only turned out that I had forgotten quite a lot about the story and the events in the film. So I decided to watch it a second time and I can tell you that I love it even more now. 

A possible explanation for why I probably have forgotten so many details is the fact that a lot is happening in the film. It's immensely fast paced and it throws too many events, characters and plot lines at you which is rather overwhelming. This animated film is trying to do too much. While Into the Spider-Verse makes up for many of it's flaws, I can't help but think that had they cut down some of the plot lines, Into the Spider-Verse would have been a far stronger film. Now that would suggest that this isn't the case now. Don't worry, this origin story of Miles Morales is very powerful. It hits the right notes more than it doesn't. 

It's strange. When I watched this the first time, I found it really refreshing how funny the film was. The lighter tone in the beginning was what drew me in the story. And it was a nice contrast with the darker tone. Now the second time, I thought that some of the comic relief wasn't as effective as it could have been. And at times I also thought that it was a bit inappropriate. But that was because this time around I was more invested in the dramatic side of the story. I would have liked to have seen more of Jefferson Davis and Miles Morales together. Especially since Jefferson is a very pivotal character for Miles. However it was nice to see an older Peter Parker / Spider-Man be a mentor and father figure for him as well. He is more cynical and pessimistic than Morales and provides a good contrast between older Spider-Man and him. Another fun element was to get introduced to other versions of Spider-Man than the usual suspects. Although if you pay attention you will also be able to detect them.

Not going to lie while I appreciate the animation now, I did have to get used to it. It's immensely stylized and sometimes makes it look like the animation isn't flowing quite right. Although the 4K UHD version is buttery smooth. So I guess it depends on what medium you watch it. An extra consequence of this style of animation (stepped animation) is that it literally looks like a live action comic book.  The visuals are outstanding. Do I really have to mention the HDR makes the colours pop? 

As stated before I love this animated film. It does exactly what a superhero is supposed to do. I wished time travel is possible and the makers of this film could go back into time and fix the X-Men movies. Since it's clear that they know and respect the source material but aren't afraid to infuse their own ideas. So definitely a must watch!

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Reviews The New Mutants (2020) and Books of Blood (2020): Nightmares? Ha Ha. don't make me laugh!

genre: horror, mystery, action, adventure, comic book adaptation, super hero

The New Mutants (2020)

When the teaser trailer was shown on Youtube the film definitely peaked my interest. Since it was oozing with potential. Mutants who aren't aware what they are capable of and have no control can be immensely dangerous. What would prevent them from embracing their dark side?

So the horror approach made sense to me. However not in the way it was actually executed. The fright or dread simple wasn't present. Nor did the film succeed in putting me on the edge. There was enough there to make the viewing experience incredibly terrifying yet apparently they were more interested in being woke. Characters who never have been gay now apparently are? Why? It didn't add anything special to these characters other than love interest. Completely pointless if you ask me. (And no I am not a hater, I just think it's weird that they went out of their way to add this detail without actually doing something substantial with it. 

Now one could argue that a large part of the film is dependent on the surprise factor. Sounds logical since if you are unfamiliar with The New Mutants then chances are you won't see things coming. Well, I am not familiar with any of The New Mutants and still could predict what was going on. Granted I looked up the characters on wikipedia and quickly had deduced what was going on. It's puzzling to me why the people who were involved in making this film didn't take that in account and at least put some twists and turns into this film to also make it interesting for people who do know about these characters or just googled them like I did. 

That being said. The film was kind of entertaining although it felt like a lot of ideas and plans had been scrapped so that the production could be rushed for released. In origin films it's vital to explore the characters so that we get to know them well and what they are about. Seemed like all the focus went to Illyana Rasputin, Dani Moonstar and Rahne Sinclair. But even then we only get snippets of who they are. These characters are considered to be dangerous. So why not show or explain how powerful they really are? Even the original X-Men films showed situations of mutants losing control which usually had dire consequences. It's one of the main reasons why people fear mutants. They should have gone into this territory a little deeper.

Overall I think as a first film in possible new franchise this could work. Provided they amp up everything in future films (if they have plans of doing that of course now Disney has taken over.). As a stand alone film it's subpar. There is not that much happening. Nor does it feel there is something at stake. It's also not really clear how and where this fits in the X-Men franchise. There are just so many elements missing to make this compelling. But if you aren't that demanding The New Mutants is entertaining while it lasts. Pretty forgettable though!

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genre: mystery, horror, drama

Books of Blood (2020)

If this film is supposed to bring you nightmares then something is wrong with me since I was sleeping like a baby after I had watched this!

Books of Blood is an anthology film that completely lacks coherency. The three stand alone stories are connected and you will see how. But it's not really done that well. I mean it didn't provide that wow or wtf factor you normally get. For the most part I liked the premises of the stories. Only they were never terrifying or disturbing. And that is saying something since the writer of these stories is Clive Barker of all people. If you are familiar with his work and then watch this film you are definitely going to be underwhelmed. Especially if you are going to compare it to earlier adaptations of the stories written by Clive Barker. A couple of them are even part of the Books of Blood book series. The Midnight Meat Train, The Lord of Illusions (adaptation of The Last Illusion) and Candyman (adaptation of The Forbidden). 

So how is it possible that this film is so tame? Was it a budget thing? Or was did they tone down everything because it's made for television? Still doesn't explain the lack of tension and dread. That to me is this film's biggest problem. That and the pacing. I really needed to get into it and once I was it was already close to the end. By that time I really didn't care about anything.

Overall Books of Blood is incredibly underwhelming and boring. There are some moments that come close to the terror depicted in Hellraiser. Mind you those moments (20 seconds or so) are over before you know it. But they could have meant something if they actually had some impact on these characters.


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Review Dragon Squad (2005) a.k.a. Mang lung (2005): Worth it because of the action! But everything else should be ignored.

genre: action, crime, bullet ballet

It's been a while I have seen this originally but for the sake of fairness I wanted to watch it again. That had proven to be quite difficult since I couldn't find the film. However after some intense browsing and searching I finally I got hold of a copy. First I will give my original thoughts then I will tell you what I think of the film today.

Original review written 27 january 2007 on imdb.com 

The cast in the movie do their best to give this movie an edge. That they fail at it is not their fault. Because at least they try to make something of it. When i heard that Michaell Biehn would star in this movie I honestly didn't know what to expect. A Hollywood actor in a Hong Kong film? Apart from the language barrier would Biehn be able to get with the program and fit in? To my surprise he (together with Jun-ho Heo and Sammo Hung) provides some good acting to make the story believable. 

As for the direction I am a bit disappointed. The first half of the movie is too chaotic for my taste. In the second half the action scenes do pick up. Nice shootouts and one big martial arts scene between Sammo and Jun-ho Heo. This is what the fans want. It is too bad the director didn't use the actors to their fullest potential. This is a flaw on part of director Daniel Lee. He did the exact same thing in What Price Survival which also was more style than substance. It is a shame to see he hasn't learned much from his mistakes. I don't mind people making mistakes as long as they at least try to do better.

The only reason this film works is due to to the cast who try their hardest to make the movie fun. That being said don't expect anything special, it's pretty average.

My thoughts now:

After having seen it for I think a third time (properly) after so many years I think I need to alter my initial thoughts somewhat. 

Action wise it's a whole lot better than I stated before. There are some truly exciting action scenes although some of the choreography doesn't flow well because of Daniel Lee's insistence on adding style and camera trickery when it's not needed. I mean how many times do you need to cut to the faces of the villains to establish it's them. We aren't all suffering from short term memory. You keep getting taken out of the action which is incredibly annoying. However with some patience I was able to enjoy the action.

I also had stated that Michael Biehn was solid acting wise. And yes non verbally he certainly is on the best of his game. Verbally however you can sense there is something off. It's the way he delivers his lines. If I had to guess this must be because he dubbed himself but probably was in a hurry so didn't take the effort to put his heart into it. At least that is what it sounded like. A real shame since from all the characters he actually has somewhat of an arc that is compelling. 

But what really makes this film hard to sit through is the slow and uneven pacing. This is because also in the non action scenes director Daniel Lee found it necessary to add style and camera trickery which gets super tedious very quick. On top of that it slows down these scenes that already have little to no substance to them. The film has a duration of one hour and fifty minutes but with barely a story in it you probably can imagine that this affects your viewing pleasure considerably.

Overall Dragon Squad a.k.a. Mang lung is worth it because of the action. I suggest to skip through all of the non action scenes since they won't do that much for you. The supposed dramatic scenes are predictable and have very little impact. I came up with my own plot elements to feel something for the characters. It's beyond me what Daniel Lee was going for. Although I think maybe in his mind he was making his own Hard Boiled. In one of the final scenes you can hear and see scenes from that masterpiece. It's safe to say that Daniel Lee obviously is suffering from delusions of grandeur. 

Some trivia for you. Apparently Bey Logan and Steven Seagal of all people was one of the producers of this film. I don't have a clue how he got involved with this. One of life's mysteries I guess. Buddies Philip Ng, Andy On and Vaness Wu also have a role in the film. Wu could even be considered the lead. Maybe he brought his friends on board. Ng also was active as action and stunt director. Maggie Q's role is small but decent as she is portrayed as a badass hitwoman. Fan Bingbing is adorable as the innocent girlfriend of a notorious crime boss who crosses path with Michael Biehn. And had Daniel Lee been a competent director he could have made their dynamics pop. But no, now it's just a pointless distraction in a film that goes nowhere. 

Overall this film will require a lot of patience from you. But the action is more than solid and worth it!

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Reviews The Witches (2020), Tremors: Shrieker Island (2020), Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996) and The Blob (1988)

The Witches (2020)

It's been a while that I have read the book and have seen the adaptation. Although I do remember that both of them were very good. In my opinion this remake or reboot therefore is completely pointless. 

Honestly I wasn't really planning to watch this. Then controversy on social media sparked for its portrayal of three-fingered witches which many argue perpetuates negative stereotypes about people living with ectrodactyly. The whole outrage BTW is one of the most idiotic things these SJW's have complained about. Because this would mean that anything in a film that resembles a disease, culture or whatever could be seen as offensive and therefore should never be depicted. Even if this were true then so what? Sometimes films are intended to provoke you or confront you with the harsh realities that exist. Sometimes it's just a coincidence. Besides you can't and shouldn't shield people from truths no matter how painful or confronting. The real world and real life is hard. Better get used to it.

Had these SJW's not cried murder I probably would not have bothered with this film and not felt that I have wasted precious time. First of all there is nothing remarkable about the three-fingered witches. They aren't scary nor are they made fun of. And if they are ridiculed it's because of their terrible attitude and behaviour. There were some scenes where Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch goes ballistic with her insults towards Grandma. They easily could have been interpreted as racist. And guess what? Some people are like this. Should we never depict this just because some people are offended by this? The whole notion is ridiculous and pathetic. You can't rewrite history. But we should never forget and learn from the mistakes we made in the past and aim to do better. How can we better ourselves if you are going to pretend bad and evil things don't exist. And sorry to say but some of you really need to grow a thicker skin. 

Speaking of Anne Hathaway. For some reason she is doing some kind of accent. Sort of Bela Lugosi like with hints of French. I could have appreciated it if she had stuck to one accent. But hers changed from moment to moment. I have no real problems with Anne Hathaway. Actually I think sometimes she is a real good actress. However in this film she misses the mark completely. Perhaps she thought she needed to be theatrical and over the top. However that is not the same as dark and menacing. 

BTW I watched the 4K HDR version and most of the time the film looks beautiful. Especially when the scenes are taking place in daylight and CGI is applied. Although there are moments when you can clearly tell CGI is used and makes normal people look funny as well. Like in the scene towards the end when Mrs. Jenkins finds out her son has turned into a mouse. I know she is supposed to be shocked but was it really necessary for her to have a cartoon like face? The way they skip over such tragedy is a bit weird but could be that Roald Dahl had written that way. I can't remember.

In any case Anne Hathaway is terrible as the Grand High Witch. She is too ridiculous and cartoony. Never scary or creepy. The Witches from the original adaptation were far more terrifying. Sure there are some funny scenes but for the most part this remake is unimaginative and boring. 


Tremors: Shrieker Island (2020)

Not going to lie. I wasn't expecting much from this film. Still I was intrigued. It's the one franchise where I only had seen the original and for some reason never bothered watching the sequels. In hindsight I think this was a mistake that needs correcting since from what I have seen so far the sequels (Aftershocks and Shrieker Island) are pretty on par with the original. 

Michael Gross as Burt Grummer is almost just as iconic as Ash Williams played by Bruce Campbell in The Evil Dead franchise. He is the one who steals the show even when Michael Gross clearly has gotten too old for the role. But even if you didn't know anything about the legend he will make sure you will never forget. Yes, he is that impressive. Also kudos for Michael Gross being able to keep his character fresh and compelling at all times.

It's obvious the film had a low budget. However like with most films where money is tight people tend to be more creative and this is the case here. It does look like that they made the most of it with what they got. Apart from a few moments the creatures look real and menacing as they have been before. Plus like with every entry the graboids have proven to be very smart and seem to be constantly adapting. It's one of the elements that make them fun. And like with most horror films. Less is more. The fact that graboids aren't on the screen all the time makes them scarier. 

This last entry in the franchise (at least for now) is surprisingly good. Tremors: Shrieker Island also is a prime example how to deal with a beloved character and honour him properly. Take note Rian Johnson! A must watch for sure.

Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996)

Usually with franchises like this the sequels are nothing more than a repeat of original events in different settings with different characters. Aftershocks is the rare sequel that builds on the original but adds enough new and fresh plot to give a spin on previous events.

Aftershocks marks the return of Fred Ward without Kevin Bacon. Now Ward is partnered up with Chris Gartin. He is not bad but tries a little too hard to be funny which can be annoying at times. Fred is such a good professional though that he still manages to have good chemistry with him on screen. Burt Gummer also returns this time without his wife. His explanation about that is hilarious. In truth Reba McEntire was touring and therefore was written out. In hindsight that might have been the best move since it helped made Burt Gummer into an intriguing character. 

From start to finish Aftershocks is incredibly entertaining. Like Shrieker Island is a must watch for sure!

The Blob (1988)

For a long time I had no desire to watch the remake of The Blob. The original was something I had seen several times on Sky Channel since that one got repeated over and over again. I do have to admit that there is something really creepy about slow moving jello or jam killing everyone in it's path. Even when to some it might seem like one big joke, the film took itself very seriously. Normally this would make it campy. However in this case it made it an effective horror film. As much as I liked the original I couldn't see what more they could do with the premise.

But damn, The Blob (1988) not only improves upon the original it actually manages to be super creative with whatever the blob is made of. Maybe it's me but the creature does tend to look like certain sexual organs at times. The tentacles and penis shapes are rather obvious. But there are times the creature also resembles a vagina and clitoris. No, I am not imagining things. The way the creature moves and acts truly resembles those organs. I mean just look at the gif I made underneath and tell me I am wrong!

Point is that this blob is a force to be reckoned with as it can do more than just move and devour. They went crazy with the design. And make no mistake. I know that it seems comical but the terror and gore is impressive. There are certainly some scenes that can be considered disgusting and shocking. I liked it that despite the outrageous concept that the entire cast took the material seriously. The Blob is ruthless and relentless. And if you think about it could also be seen as social commentary on the government and how they inform us about certain matters in crisis situations like the one we are all in the middle of today. Can we always trust the government and should we blindly follow and uphold the rules concerning Covid-19? Or should we be vigilant and critical?

To me Kevin Dillon was never leading man material. However in this film he proved me wrong by playing a character I wanted to root for. The same goes for Shawnee Smith. She is actually likable in this. Unfortunately for the rest of the cast they barely get the chance to shine since they merely serve as food for the monster. Overall The Blob (1988) is a horror classic in it's own right and is still very relevant today.     

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Review Jack's Back: Flawed but pretty good!

genre: mystery, thriller, horror, crime

I could have sworn I already had written a review for this film. But I guess I always intended to and then forgot to. Better late than never I always say!

You might have guessed that the title refers to Jack the Ripper. A 100 years later some copycat serial killer is committing murders exactly the same way as Jack the Ripper did. If that premise isn't compelling on it's own another element is added on top. I admit it's a bit far fetched but one that is quite effective. Now I could reveal what that is, then again in this case the least you know the better it is. It really will enhance events considerably. Basically this element works because of James Spader and his acting abilities. Actually I have to commend the whole cast for taking the material serious. Except maybe Robert Picardo as Dr. Carlos Battera. I am not sure if he understood that he wasn't in a comedy. He plays his role like he is in a spoof where he adds something goofy to his serious mannerisms. I think it's the way he delivers his lines. Picardo is a very good actor and I am sure he would play his part the correct way had he been properly informed. It could very well be that director Rowdy Herrington was a little inept in explaining his vision to Robert Picardo. 

Jack' Back in my opinion is very gialloesque. The film oozes style and cool cinematography. You are left in the dark pretty much until the very end and it's filled with red herrings and misdirection. Some of these miss the mark completely but it's always good when you are left with many potential candidates to be the killer instead of being blatantly obvious. I do feel that the film is either heavily cut or it's production was rushed since a very essential element, namely the murders themselves are hardly shown. Perhaps this was a budget thing and they never intended to show these in the first place. The film certainly doesn't spare you with showing you all of the blood and gore they did have money for. 

Overall Jack's Back is a pretty creative whodunnit that does more right than wrong. Certainly a must watch for fans of the genre.

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Halloween / Dia de muertos weekend 2020 - Day 2 en 3: The Craft (1996), The Craft Legacy (2020), Candyman (1992), Come Play (2020) and The Call (2020).

My traditional horror weekend didn't exactly pan out the way I had intended. In large part due to disappointment. One of the reasons why I felt obligated to watch some older ones to balance out my viewing experience and make it more fun. 

The Craft (1996)

We wanted to see The Craft: Legacy. However my friend had never seen the original. So we decided to what that one first. And I must have seen it 4 or 5 times now. It still holds up pretty well horror wise. 

Four outcasts join up and call upon Manon for their own personal reasons. Some of those are understandable. Some aren't. Manon is a pagan deity supposedly superior to both god and the devil. It's safe to say that this ritual will have some big consequences for the young witches. Will they be ready for the force they unleash? I like how initially their wishes are granted and they are very happy about it but then start to learn that there are some unfortunate side effects too. Basically they learn the lesson Peter Parker has learned a long time ago. That with great power comes great responsibility. Actually only a few of them take this to heart. For some it's not enough. They want more. It's then when events start to spin out of control. 

Overall The Craft is an energetic and fun ride from start to finish. There are a few scenes with horror elements in this film that are still very effective even after multiple viewings. Sure the first time you will watch this will be more impressive due to the surprise factor but it's nice to see that a film doesn't feel outdated after so many years.

The Craft: Legacy

Now all pumped up we thought we were ready for the craziness that The Craft Legacy would offer. 

The film indeed offers craziness. Unfortunately not the kind I was hoping. Honestly I wasn't asking much. I would not have minded if this soft reboot would be more of the same with upgraded effects. However in their infinite wisdom they opted to be woke. One of the witches is a trans-girl and the main villain is the patriarchy. I wished I was kidding. Mind you, if this would bring us bone chilling scenes of terror or at least some very entertaining moments then I would have applauded this approach. As it turns out it there is not much to the political activism. It doesn't go far enough to be outrageous. Take Zoe Luna as Lourdes for example. The trans-girl. Apart from this fact there is nothing that makes her stand out from the other girls. The original might not have contained fleshed out characters. They did have certain characteristics and quirks to them that were unique. It's like these witched barely have personalities of their own. They also don't have solid reasons to call upon Manon. 

David Duchovny and the supposed surprising cameo could and should have been THE highlights. But it didn't look like they actually wanted to be in the film. And I can't really blame them. Worst of all is the fact that The Craft: Legacy isn't scary or creepy in the slightest. Such a waste of potential! 

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Candyman (1992)

After the disappointment that was The Craft: Legacy we felt like watching an older horror film. Since the reboot of Candyman is almost upon us I wanted to watch and review the original. Mostly to see if it still holds up today.

For some reason I remembered that Candyman had a large body count. Except there isn't. it's rather surprising to find out how little of Candyman is in the film. I mean he is talked about and certainly is present but there are only a few scenes you actually get to see him in action. And even then some of that is off screen. In hindsight this could be the reason why Candyman is very effective. It's a good example of that less is more. Candyman is so feared that just the mere mention of his name brings you chills which is exactly the point.

Make no mistake. The horror is real. Candyman's tale is disturbing but not in the way you expect. Instead of relying on blood and gore (which it has plenty of) you get a good buildup of myth and atmosphere. One of the biggest contributors to this is the superb acting and the soundtrack. It's also quite refreshing to see that the exploration of the urban legend is taken seriously.

Come Play (2020)

Come Play is a title I was looking forward to. It looked like it was going to be similar to The Babadook. And for about 15 minutes it did. 

Then it forgot about the basic and essential purpose of a horror film which is to scare you. Sure I dug the premise. And it was refreshing to see that the parents took their kids seriously and believed the supernatural elements. However antagonist Larry who does look like a scary and creepy monster fails to truly make an impact. I think it was a mistake to out him so quickly as they did. Still what was really bothersome was the reaction of the parents to him. Especially Sarah played by Gillian Jacobs. I know Jacobs from Community and not much else. But it is clear to me that she doesn't have that much range as an actor. When she is supposed to look scared and terrified it looks like she is mimicking the gestures without truly understanding or feeling the fear. Kinda like an android would do. In films like these it's the terror that sells. So the reaction should look and feel real. And apart from the first 15 minutes and some moments with the kids it there is no terror or sense of dread. 

Of course I am willing to acknowledge the somewhat optimistic and touching ending. Still it would have made more impact with fright. A missed opportunity!

The Call (2020

Lin Shaye and Tobin Bell in one film. Surely that must lead to something good. And for a while it looked like it was.

The Call is a throwback to Eighties horror. That for me is always a good thing. Plus it does feature a heavy Saw vibe. I mean Tobin Bell looks and acts like Jigsaw who is retired and out of the game but pulled back in. If only this would have been the case. It would have been real compelling. Still most people knowing Tobin Bell and his work might have expected this so in a way it could be considered good that it's not like Saw. However I did think of a scenario myself where the Saw elements, Lin Shaye's involvement and seemingly supernatural elements would have made sense. 

Unfortunately what you see is what you get. You are supposed to believe the supernatural elements are real. And had they been scary or terrifying I would have embraced them. Although I would have liked it had they made them ambiguous since most events also could have been explained psychologically. 

Overall The Call is one big mess that never convinces. They should have kept it simple and made this a slasher where the teens who pranked Lin's character get killed one after another. 

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Halloween / Dia de muertos weekend 2020 - Day 1: Spell (2020), Tremors (1990), The Maid (2020) and comments about Black Water: Abyss (2020), The Turning (2020) and It Chapter Two (2019)

As tradition dictates nothing will stop me from holding my yearly ritual, which is watching as many horror films I can in one sitting. Or technically, in one weekend. No apocalyptic pandemic is going to ruin that for me. That being said I wish everyone a very Happy Halloween. Let the fun begin!


Spell (2020)

Honestly I was bracing myself for the worst. However the trailer surely looked intriguing. Sure enough it delivered that and then some.

Spell is about a man who has fled his hometown and state because of his abusive father. He has made quite a life for himself but perhaps is a little too accepting when it comes to his spoiled kids. Then he receives a phone call and is told his father has passed away. The wife then convinces her husband he should go there for closure. Without hesitation the whole family fly in their plane to the far countryside where soon after disaster strikes. I am not going to reveal what will happen after. But the whole journey until the credits roll is definitely worth it. 

Of course one could be overly critical and say that this film is not breaking new ground. Then again why would that even matter if every second is thrilling. Spell certainly is not playing it safe. It has no problems grossing you out with blood, gore and other vile things. So refreshing to have a horror film not subject itself to a PG rating. And all those people saying it's bad, sorry to say but those people don't know anything. 

Tremors (1990)

Since I wanted to keep things fun I interchanged serious creepy horror with some comedic antics. Tremors: Shrieker Island seemed to be the ideal film for that. However my friend who had joined the Halloween weekend hadn't seen the original yet. So I decided to watch that one first.

Even after having seen this film several times I am happy to report that Tremors stills hold up. I was forgotten that it also contained genuine thrills next to funny moments. Plus the fact that the graboids learn from their mistakes and adapt themselves so they continue to be a threat is a very strong and compelling element. It's easy to understand that it has spun off so many sequels. And yet I have never seen any of them. At least not that I can remember. Well, that is about to change for sure.


The Maid (2020)

The Maid is an example of a film that plays around with expectations and convention by giving you exactly what you think it's going to be to then change up things. Not that it's entirely unpredictable. Actually if you are paying attention enough you will be able to see where the film is heading. But I have to give the film credit for making you think anything could happen.

Misdirection is key. There are moments when the horror is too on the nose and then there are moments that simply are too subtle. However it's these moments that are the creepiest. While most of these moments seem bad they do seem to have a purpose and therefore are intentional. As is the use of the setting and the surrealistic characters. Had they not shown electrical ovens and smartphones they could have fooled me by thinking this film took place around the Fifties. Femme fatale Uma played by the gorgeous Sawika Chaiyadech basically sits around being pretty. I mean she is real good at it. She definitely draws all attention to her. It's as if the film is trying to tell us there is more to her than we realize. Her character even tells us in her opening dialogue. 

Another good character is Joy played by Ploy Sornarin. Another example of misdirection done right. Her innocence is convincing as you do feel like you have to root for her. But you really shouldn't as you can tell at times there is something off about her. It's obvious Ploy Sornarin had fun and to be honest it is fun to watch her in action. Most of the cast do a good job selling you the plot and surrealism even if at times events are too pretentious for their own good. The film has a fresh and clever take on horror only it's not nearly as clever as it thinks it is. Yet I enjoyed it immensely and is definitely one I can recommend!

While I had anticipated to watch more old age took me hostage. I had to take a nap. But unfortunately forgot to set my alarm only to find myself waking up the next morning. This does make me determined to do better today. Before I forget. I want to add my thoughts on Black Water: Abyss (2020), The Turning (2020) and It Chapter Two (2019). I watched this on Friday night but forgot to write reviews for.

Honestly for what it offers it's quite decent. The monster is not some omnipotent being who would do extraordinary things beyond it's capabilities. However the adventurers who cross it's path do make it very easy to target them. If you are in an area where people pass through constantly and you are being missed very easily then perhaps it would be understandable. But they are literally in the middle of nowhere with no one to guide them or to call in help if necessary. Would that really destroy the sense of adventure? Even if it did. Wasn't the purpose of the trip to explore the area to see if they could turn it into a profitable tourist attraction? Not exactly good business to get killed yourself before you can enjoy the fruits of your labour now is it? Even when the characters are irresponsible and bland I didn't want to see them get hurt. They were just likable enough.  Still the film is a pretty forgettable. 

The Turning is a pretty solid horror film until the ending. The ending is so bad that it completely ruins the overall viewing experience since you realize you wasted precious minutes. I am aware that the the story is based on the original he Turn of the Screw. But without having read it I doubt that it slapped on the ending like this adaptation did. It comes out of nowhere and doesn't give you much to think about. If you are going to be ambiguous you at least have to make either solutions seem real and viable. Plus it needs to motivate you to watch the film again in order to make sure you didn't miss something essential. The only thing I was motivated to do was to put on another horror film. 

In this case It Chapter Two. And I was prepared for this to be bad. But this bad? The original was already a total crapfest. Surely that can't be possible can it? I gave it a shot for at least one hour until I couldn't take it anymore. I was bored out of my mind. Is it fair of me to judge a two and half hour film on that one hour? Probably not. Then again if you can't manage to grab your viewer in the first hour chances are you won't be able do anything beyond either. 

12 november 2020:

So I gave the film another shot. And I think my exhaustion actually helped me appreciate a little better than I should have. Because now watching the remaining hour and a half more or less well rested made it clear to me that It Chapter Two is easily one of the worst films ever made. It doesn't work as a horror, nor as a psychological thriller, nor as a fantasy drama and not even as a comedy. That is almost an accomplishment in itself since this second part is a sum of ludicrous scenes which are never creepy, scary or thrilling. CGI Pennywise simply is not menacing. There is one moment probably stolen from The Thing where something interesting happens with a character's head. In The Thing this was one of the scariest WTF moments in film history. Here in It Chapter Two it was the exact opposite. 

The real horror is that quite a few people think this film is excellent. Even if you solely would view this as a film about friendship it lacks every fundamental element to make you care for the main characters. Only in a few scenes towards the end do you get to witness touching moments. But it's far too late.

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