Tag Archives: Movie Reviews

Metamorphosis (1990) Review

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

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Here is the first of a series of reviews in which I will select a perfectly random film and give my thoughts on it. The selection will be completely randomized and will reflect neither pattern, rhyme, nor reason. One day I may review an obscure horror flick (like I am doing today), a mainstream blockbuster, a classic comedy, a silent film, or a TV movie. With a catalog of over a thousand films at my disposal I have opted to shuffle the list and pic which one comes to the top. Today’s shuffling has presented me with this early 90’s flick by Italian filmmaker George Eastman who, among other things, had achieved a certain infamy for writing such sleazy films as Anthropophagus and Porno Holocaust. Metamorphosis may not be as grotesque as those two, but I would not call it a good movie by any means.

Metamorphosis is an exercise in stiffness and apathy. There is not a shot in this movie that doesn’t look stale and there isn’t one scene where an actor doesn’t seem either bored or emotionless. Even the obligatory sex scene is stiff and passionless.

The main character is a geneticist who is experimenting with a serum that he hopes will end aging. Instead, in typical mad scientist fashion the serum backfires after he tests it on himself and it slowly causes him to transform. His aggression increases and he has lapses in memory in which he switches back and forth between his normal self and a vicious violent criminal. He has dreams and visions in which he sees himself raping and beating a woman that later he finds out are memories coming to the surface of his actions during one of these lapses. As he grows more violent and vicious his body begins to transform as well. By the end of the film he turns into a giant lizard monster that rasps and growls and kills anyone who gets in his way. At the end of the movie the police gun him down as his girlfriend and her son look on in horror. A cop asks another scientist “what was that?” and the scientist responds “a nightmare from the past.” I am not invested enough to really care, but if I was forced to interpret I would think the scientist was suggesting that our anti-hero had de-evolved into a lizard. Which is kind of stupid since humans are derived from apes not lizards. But who really gives a shit about accuracy with films of this type?
But to be honest I really don’t give a shit about anything in this movie at all. Accuracy least of all. The story is beyond ridiculous and the acting is so stiff that nothing said or done makes me root for anyone. The only thing I rooted for in this movie was the short run time.

The film finally ends with the girlfriend’s son talking about how the geneticist can never die as he holds a small cage with his pet lizard inside. His mother looks at the lizard in horror as if to suggest she suspects her ex is living on inside her son’s pet. Whether he does or not is of no consequence to me. I really don’t care. None of these characters are given any time for development so I cannot give a flying fuck about what makes them tick or what makes them happy or unhappy.
Metamorphosis feels like a bad X-Files episode getting away with something. In fact if one was to excise the gore and nudity this plot would make for any cheesy episode of any supernatural TV show of the 90’s.

Next time I will stick with Kafka if I want a story about a metamophosis.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers Review

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

4

Five years after the debacle that was Halloween III Halloween 4 came along to bring the series back to the character that made it famous. I would make a comment about how it is usually a sign that a series is going downhill when numbered sequels shift from Roman numerals to the more common Arabic ones, but since this movie is not that bad I won’t bother.

The film is set ten years after Halloween and Halloween II and throughout that time Michael Myers has been kept at a sanitarium very much alive. Apparently both Michael and Dr. Loomis had survived the explosion at the hospital a decade ago with only some scars to prove they were there at all.
Without Dr. Loomis’s approval Michael is moved via ambulance out of the sanitarium to be relocated someplace else. In the ambulance Michael decides it is time to come out of retirement when one of the paramedics mentions that he has a niece and kills everyone in the vehicle. The ambulance crashes into a river and Michael Myers escapes still wrapped in bandages from head to toe. At a gas station he kills all of the employees and finds a new mask for himself there. Why a local gas station out in the boonies had a mask for sale modeled after the one a serial killer wore ten years ago is beyond me. You would think that after 1978 it would have been considered tasteless to continue selling these masks and they would have instead become vintage, hard-to-find rarities like Song of the South or Richard Bachman’s Rage.
Dr. Loomis arrives at the gas station and finds Michael still there. Why Myers lingered is unclear since he makes no attempt to kill Dr. Loomis. Instead he just steals a tow truck, destroys the doctor’s car, and heads toward Haddonfield. With no vehicle the doctor hitches a ride with a crazy preacher ranting about prophecy and Judgment Day. The crazy religious person gimmick in horror movies is getting a little old ever since Stephen King did the cliche to death in recent years. Especially when the nutjob serves no substantial service to the plot. Well, at least he is not carrying around a rotting eye ball like the hermit in Friday the 13th Part III

Elsewhere, the aforementioned niece is suffering from insomnia. Her name is Jamie Lloyd and she is the orphaned daughter of Laurie Strode. It’s not made clear what happened to Laurie in this movie and all we know is that Jamie is living with a foster family. The family has a teenage daughter named Rachel who often babysits and watches over Jamie even though she would much rather spend time with her boyfriend, Brady, than watch an eight year old.
None of the adults in Jamie’s life have felt the need to suppress the truth of Michael Myers from her so she knows all about her uncle and the murders he committed ten years ago. At her foster family’s home she has been having nightmares about Michael in which he is under her bed or lurking on the other side of her bedroom door. While I have nothing against the nightmare scenes per se there is one thing about them that really annoys me. The dream occurs at night during a thunderstorm so there is a lot of lightning flashes illuminating the bedroom for split seconds. While Jamie is heading toward her bed for her nighttime prayers she passes her mirror just as there is a lightning flash that reveals Michael reflected in it standing in the middle of her room. The villain reflected in a mirror cliche is a common staple in horror movies, but the problem here is that he is only a figment of Jamie’s imagination and not real. Yet when she passes the mirror Jamie doesn’t notice Michael reflected in it. Only the audience does. How? If he is not there and is only a figment of her imagination then how could she not see him? How do you miss a hallucination? That’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard!
Anyway, Jamie eventually does see the apparition and screams prompting Rachel to rush into the bedroom and wake her up. The following day Rachel takes Jamie out to a store to pick a Halloween costume where she meets her boyfriend Brady. While Jamie is browsing the two teens end up fighting over something petty which leads Brady to go find a different girl to sleep with behind Rachel’s back. Rachel discovers this when she takes Jamie trick-or-treating and head to the Sheriff’s daughter, Kelly’s home. When the door opens the girl is dressed in nothing but a t-shirt with Brady clearly visible standing in the hall. Rachel leaves in a huff and Brady rushes out to try to apologise and explain that he was “just angry.” When Rachel makes the logical choice of telling him to buzz off the supposedly contrite Brady goes back to Kelly.
Now I have to stop to ask how this guy Brady is even worth fretting over. The kind of fellow who will go roll in the hay with some random bimbo because of a little fight is probably not the best guy to shed tears over. When his apology was rejected instead of going home humiliated and contrite he just heads back to Kelly’s house. If getting laid is so much more important to him than being a decent human being then Rachel should just let Kelly have the loser.
And another thing that I don’t understand is why Kelly is wearing only a t-shirt in this scene. I mean, I know that is one of those things a lot of women do to turn their partners on, but if you are going to do that then perhaps you shouldn’t be giving out Halloween candy as well. It’s not as bad as giving out apples with razor blades I suppose, but I am still fairly certain most parents would not be pleased to learn that while their kids were ringing door bells asking for candy they were greeted by some slut wearing naught but a t-shirt with obviously no bra on and showing off her legs. If I had a son the object of letting him go trick-or-treating would be to let him have some fun and get treats. Not ease him into puberty.

Meanwhile Michael Myers arrives in town and goes right into the Police Department and kills virtually the entire Haddonfield police force. This leaves the town only protected by the sheriff and a few deputies who were on duty at the time. When this is discovered an army of hicks decide to round up a posse and go hunting for Michael. And while they are running about feeling important the Sheriff takes Dr. Loomis, Rachel, and Jamie to his home where Kelly and Brady are still enjoying each other’s company. Using this house as a base of defence fails miserably when Michael breaks in, kills the deputy, and then kills Kelly with a shotgun. And by killing with a shotgun I mean he speared her with it. A stupid way to use a shotgun, but Michael dislikes using guns the conventional way it seems. Brady attempts to defend Rachel and Jamie with a shotgun of his own, but the weapon jams and before he can fix it Myers reaches him and breaks his neck.
Rachel and Jamie escape onto the house’s roof and they climb down toward the yard. Jamie is unhurt, but Rachel falls and knocks herself unconscious. Michael, still hellbent on getting to his niece, chases after Jamie who runs away and finds Dr. Loomis. The doctor takes her to her school and sets off the alarm. The lynch mob hears the alarm and rush to the school. At the school Michael attacks Loomis and Jamie, but Rachel rushes in and sprays Michael in the face with a fire extinguisher. This stops him for a second or two while they meet up with the mob who agree to take them to safety in one of their trucks. Unbeknownst to them Michael had sneaked out and was clinging to the underside of the truck and while on the road he crawls onto the top of the vehicle and kills the driver. Rachel takes the wheel and drives like a maniac trying to shake Michael off. He eventually does fall off and she rams the truck into him shoving him near an abandoned mine. The rest of the posse show up and they gun down Michael repeatedly until he falls over into the mine and gets buried under the debris.
Assuming he is dead Rachel, Jamie, the sheriff, and Dr. Loomis head to the girl’s foster family’s house to settle down. Jamie’s foster mother prepares a bath for her when Jamie suddenly goes berserk and stabs the woman with a pair of scissors. Dr. Loomis becomes horrified and begins screaming over and over again “No! No! No! No!” before slumping to the ground sobbing.
This ending comes completely out of left field, but close examination does reveal some interesting things about what Dr. Loomis must be feeling right about now. After Michael had murdered his sister Judith when he was only six the doctor had studied the boy for 15 years. He eventually reached the realisation that Michael had no vestige of humanity in him, bur was only a mindless shell of a man whose essence was pure evil without any feelings of remorse, compassion, or morality. Michael Myers was a strange enigma. The fundamental qualities that make humans human were absent in him and this frightened the doctor enough to insist that this person be locked up forever. He was proven right in 1978 when Michael escaped and murdered several people. The event left Loomis permanently scarred while having to endure ten years of waiting while Michael was once again incarcerated. After escaping again and killing more people Dr. Loomis is understandably tired and worn out. 25 years of dealing with Michael Myers does that to a person. After Michael is presumably dead Dr. Loomis feels that perhaps now he can finally rest. Perhaps retire in peace knowing that he accomplished what needed to be accomplished. Dr. Loomis is feeling serene in the knowledge that he doesn’t have to face a being like Michael unleashing itself upon the world in his lifetime again.
But this is all shattered to pieces when Jamie attacks her foster mother. The inhuman essence of Michael Myers is living on in his niece. Loomis now understands that his work may never be over. Whatever happened to Michael as a boy that sent him into this state of inhumanity is passing itself onto the next generation of his family. Dr. Loomis is a tired old man with hardly any energy left and probably fears that Michael Myers, in whatever form he takes, will outlive him and flourish in the world for a very long time to come.

This is one of the few good sequels in the series. While it is a bit more bloody than Halloween II it doesn’t have the same exploitative feel. Halloween II felt like the franchise was trying to cash in on the success of Friday the 13th by replacing the suspense with gore and pointless nudity. While Halloween 4 may not be as subtle as the original it still tells a decent story. The heroine, Rachel, is likable and Danielle Harris gives a good performance as Laurie’s daughter. Dr. Loomis is still a lot of fun and seeing him as a much older and more subdued man is a nice bit of development for the character. He’s not as crazy as he was in Halloween II although he is still very much obsessed. The scars and his cane accentuate his brokenness and that he is not the same virile zealot he was in Halloween and Halloween II.
Halloween 4 is a good sequel that may not live up to the original, but was still a much needed revitalisation after the nonsense that was Halloween III.

Halloween II (1981) Review

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

2

If the first Halloween was a well-made suspense story exploring the embodiment of evil, then Halloween II is a weak follow-up that tried too hard to cash in on a genre that was itself born as an attempt to cash in on the first Halloween. No one can miss the irony, but indeed, Halloween II follows in the footsteps of Friday of the 13th more than it does its predecessor. Friday the 13th was a cheap slasher flick that was imitative of Halloween, but lacked its subtlety and suspense going instead for more exploitative directions.
It is a sad sight to see Halloween follow in this pattern. Halloween II is a bloody slashfest that is packed full of action, screams, and sex; but devoid of suspense, fear, or contemplation.

The story is set immediately where the original film left off. Dr. Loomis leaves the house to find Michael Myers who is still evidently roaming Haddonfield wounded with the six bullets Loomis shot into him. His murderous rampage continues and it makes less sense than it did in the first film. In the 1978 film all we knew was that he was pure evil and so killing for him was a natural act. Here we discover that he, for some reason in connection with the festival of Samhain, is attempting to kill his entire family and that Laurie Strode was his little sister.
This, of course, presents a series of problems for the franchise. If his mission all along was to kill his entire family out of some cultic loyalty to a pagan holiday why the hell did he kill all those babysitters? And why is he continuing to kill other people? You can’t say he killed people that got in his way to Laurie because he was right in front of the house. If he is so active after getting shot six times why didn’t he just walk back in while she was still vulnerable? Why go several blocks away to kill people that have nothing to do with the Myers family? He is supposed to be insane and evil. But he isn’t supposed to be stupid. Giving Michael Myers motives was the worst mistake the writers made. Now nothing he does can make any sense.

Laurie is taken to a hospital and while she is being treated by the hospital staff Loomis is still outside obsessively hunting for Michael. The hospital staff deserve some special note. I have never seen such absurdity in the sheer number of nurses, paramedics, and doctors completely without competence. It’s almost surreal. The doctor is an alcoholic, the nurses when they are not stupid they are lecherous, and the paramedics when they are not unprofessional are also lecherous. We have one pointless scene in which a paramedic and a nurse decide to get intimate in a hot tub while on duty. Once the woman removes her top you realise immediately that there is more plastic in her body than Michael Myers’s mask. They are eventually killed by Michael and so is most of the staff at the hospital. But before this happens Dr. Loomis is making an ass of himself outside hunting for him. His relationship with the police is disintegrating as his obsession becomes dangerous and after it is revealed that one of the babysitters was the daughter of one of the cops. The police’s patience for the man reaches an understandable limit when Loomis harasses a trick or treater wearing a mask similar to Michael’s. Why a Captain Kirk mask painted white was popular that year is beyond me, but Loomis scares the teen enough to walk to the centre of the road where he is hit by a cop car and killed. After the body is examined it is discovered to have belonged to Ben Tramer the boy Laurie had a crush on. When it rains it pours.
Despite being forced to face his own actions Loomis’s obsession reaches maniacal levels and he eventually hijacks a police car at gunpoint and demands to be taken to the hospital where Laurie is staying. They make it just in time to find most of the staff dead, but Laurie is alive and trying to survive Michael Myers stalking her.
Loomis lures Michael in a room that he fills with ether and oxygen gas and while Laurie flees the Doctor lights up a lighter which ignites the gas causing an explosion that presumably kills him and Michael. The film ends with Laurie (who is obviously having the worst night of her life) being taken in an ambulance alive but shaken.

Since the story takes place right after the ending of the first one a meticulous fan could edit the two films by seaming them together. They would just have to remove Halloween II’s opening credits and the first film’s end credits and they would have one three-hour long story about Michael Myers’s return to Haddonfield on the Halloween night of 1978. Unfortunately, one problem persists when one does this. Halloween II’s tone is so vastly different from the original that the second half would still feel like a separate movie. In Halloween the violence was virtually bloodless and the sexual content was relevantly connected to the story. In Halloween II the violence is bloody and gruesome featuring hypodermic needles inserted into eye sockets and floors so splattered with blood that people trip over them. And the nudity takes on an exploitative eroticism with the same unrealistic look and feel of softcore pornography. All subtlety was thrown out the window to be replaced with a juvenile love of violence and sex. That may work and be appropriate for films like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but its presence is unwelcome and insulting to Halloween. We moved from the style of Hitchcock to the style of Roger Corman in one sequel. And it’s a damn shame. A descent from greatness was observed the day this film was released.

Short n Sweet Review “Kingsman Secret Service”

Walking into this one, I wasn’t really aware of this films origin. It was kind of surprising to me because I consider myself an avid Comic Book reader/collector. I’m sort of glad that I didn’t read it prior to the experience, because I know I would have had high expectations. And more than likely wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I actually did. While there was greatness about this film, it seemed as if this film was an outright parody of Spy films. I suppose one of the best utilized things about this film, was the slow motion panning of the camera angles. It didn’t become an annoyance in the actions sequences, like so many times where you wanna throw something at the screen. I thought the actor choice for the villain could have been better. I wasn’t threatened at all by Jackson, he wasn’t scary but I suppose it wasn’t really the point. Not every bad guy in films is so cut and dry, if they were it would be boring, and there would be zero depth. It’s also refreshing to discover younger actors, that will more than likely have a big future. If they keep on picking films like this to bring our there talents more frequently.

Contributor- Chris Ballenger

Short n Sweet Review “The Imitation Game”

I had seen several of these types of films in the past, and a few had stood out from the pack. This was without a doubt one of those particular pieces for me. It of course focused in on the life and times of the late Alan Turing. Who had many titles to his name I might add, but in this review we will only focus in on what he is most known for. Which is being pretty much the first person to make strides in designing the technology, of what we call today “Computers”. I really loved this, I don’t think a person could have handled such a role better than Benedict Cumberbatch. He approached it with such reverence and grace, it seems almost as if he’s not playing a part. One of the main issue’s with the story I felt, was the fact that I felt it was a bit rushed. Mainly with the so called “Bullies” of the story, that gave him so many issues early in life. I didn’t feel as if at the time that was properly expounded upon, and we never got an understanding of why he was attached relentlessly. Despite some of the holes, which weren’t what you’d call gaping. I really did enjoy the relationships surrounding this film, none of them felt forced onto the audience. I’d recommend this to someone whom has an appreciation for period pieces. It of course isn’t lacking in the suspense category either.

Contributor- Chris Ballenger

Short n Sweet Review “Exodus God’s And Kings”

I think I will do these more often…

I still prefer “The Ten Commandments” however, Exodus seemed to stand on it’s own quite well. Moses was a liberator more than he was a prophet in this one. And God just seemed liked a pissed off little kid, which was literally how he was portrayed at times. Joel Edgerton stole the show without a doubt as Ramses. It kind of made you almost feel sorry for him as man, even though equally the damage done was massive on both ends. Seeing it from a Secular viewpoint was interesting, it didn’t feel as shoved in your face. It was as if these two people were just trying to find their way. Scott know’s how to do visuals, and battle scenes with the best of them. 7/10

Contributor- Chris Ballenger

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes Analysis And Review

I will be going over these two films, not really reviewing them exactly. I suppose it’ll be more like a comparing of which I thought was better. And then talking a little bit about what I think of the series of films as a whole body. I may also push in a tiny little nugget of where I see the series going after this. I do hope you guys enjoy!! =)  This is part one of that, I will be writing part two at some point probably starting tomorrow.  

I thought to myself when I saw this trailer, that the title of this and the sequel were some what backwards. I’m sure as you could very well see, Dawn should be the beginning of the uprising of the Apes society. Am I right? And then of course, you have Rise which come’s just shortly after and we get into the thick of everything else. But, that’s not really why I am talking about these films is it? I remember seeing a couple of the old films and thinking, that most of these Apes were just a bunch of elitist assholes. And I really got nothing from them character wise. 

Rise centers in on a young Ape by the name of Cesar. You basically see the entire world or at least most of it from his perspective. And that is one of the reason’s why I was so invested in this experience from the get go. He feels like he wants to be human, and understands the Humans more than even some people do. And yet, deep down as the film goes along he know’s he’s different. And it slowly begins to get to him deeper into hot water as we continue down the journey with him. He longs for freedom, as well as companionship from his other peers whether they be Human or Ape. 

When he is separated from the family that raises him in their home. You see that even with his overwhelming intelligence and prowess. The animals he is surrounded with are almost compared to the school yard bullies. They see him as almost sort of a joke, he even has a rivalry with a couple of Alpha Male’s in there jungle like play pen. Not only that, but Cesar has bouts with unkind workers who mess with him constantly. So, he is generally confused as to what to do. 

But as we go along, he finds a way to get control of the vast majority of the basic Prison for his kind. By despersing the enhancement, and what would later of course be the detriment to most of humanity. I always saw Cesar as sort of a patriarch of both world’s he bridge between them. He wanted things to stay peaceful since day one, but always knew that it may lead to something hostile. Because how could humanity coexist with another race just like them? And of course we find out later, that this bridge is slightly snapped and can’t stay up with to much weight. 

The military realizes that it has to take action, when the Apes start to become so enhanced that they push there way out of their holding facility. Not really wanting to cause to many disturbances. Just wanting to find a place where they can call their own and be by themselves. Because that’s all ever anyone wants right? Just to be left alone in peace and quiet and not be told what to do. I feel like a lot of this movie points towards how oppressive society can actually be. Ton’s of undertones, that really fit in with how we see our lives even today in our world. 

We come to the end of the film, where he Apes are fighting with the police on the bridge. Which is sort of a metaphor of that tension boiling over actually. Cesar finds himself losing control of not only his faction. But everything he wanted to be for so long but lost out on. He is able to get to the woods with the other Apes towards that latter half. But meet’s his care taker and realizes finally, as they both kind of do at the very same moment. That Cesar and his new found family are where they need to be. That Humans and Apes in their current state cannot exist any longer. Where will it go from here? Guess you’ll just have to wait and see tomorrow!! =) 

Contributor- Chris Ballenger