Eric Shirey's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Exterminators of the Year 3000 (Gli Sterminatori dell'anno 3000)

Director Jules Harrison's (aka Giuliano Carnimeo) low-budget Italian / Spanish blend of "The Road Warrior" and Death Race" blows up all over the screen with exciting car crashes and chases. To add even more camp to the movie, the most ridiculous dialogue you'll ever hear is overdubbed as half the cast speaks English and the others shout their lines in their native tongues.

In "Exterminators of the Year 3000," the post-apocalyptic earth is a desert and water is the most precious substance of all. A band of survivors must turn to a mysterious stranger (Robert Iannucci) to battle a ruthless gang of motorcycle psychos for control of the wasteland and the water. Can their reluctant savior defeat the sadistic outlaws and get the water back home before their supply runs out?

Every part of "Exterminators of the Year 3000" invokes images of other end-of-the-world films of the 1970s and 1980s. The demolition derby jousting and destruction is obviously heavily influenced by "Mad Max," "The Road Warrior," and the original "Death Race 2000." The survivor's compound, water plant, and other locations are extremely reminiscent of the ones seen in "Logan's Run" and "Battle for the Planet of the Apes."

Anti-hero Alien looks like he walked off the set of "Megaforce" wearing Barry Bostwick's hair and headband combined with Peter Hunter's costume from "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone." Alicia Moro's wardrobe and makeup department appear to have watched episodes of "Battlestar Galactica" and studied Farrah Fawcett's hairstyle in "Saturn 3" to get their inspiration. Head bad guy Fernando Bilboa looks as if he was given permission to raid the left-over wardrobe from "The Road Warrior" for his outfit.

Although it's nowhere near as graphic as movies of this nature would be today, "Exterminators of the Year 3000" is rated R. It contains violence and gore, profanity, alcohol use by a minor, and frightening and intense scenes. The scene of a young boy downing beer after beer as a pain killer might offend some. One other sequence has our heroes battling mutants that resemble the deformed ones from "Beneath the Planet of the Apes."

"Exterminators of the Year 3000" is the perfect film for those who have ran out of "Mad Max" and "Death Race" flicks to watch. It's a B-movie to top all B-movies that conjures up the same tingles and giggles you get when watching anything Roger Corman produced or directed in the 1970s and 1980s. With the release of "Mad Max: Fury Road" so close on the horizon, I can't think of a more fitting time for audiences to enjoy this little known cult classic.

Doctor Mordrid

Doctor Mordrid, Full Moon, Doctor Strange, Marvel, Charles Band

Marvel might be riding high now as a member of the Disney family, but twenty years ago it was literally taking any deal it could get from Tinseltown to make some money off the different properties they owned. Low-budget versions of "Captain America," "Fantastic Four," and "The Punisher" are perfect examples of where the comic book publishing giant was heading at the time. Even George Lucas's bigger attempt at bringing "Howard the Duck" to life was a miserable failure.

For those who might not know, Marvel gave rights to Full Moon Features in the early 1990s to adapt the mystical magician's adventures into a live-action movie. When time ran out and the property went back to Marvel, Charles Band decided to move forward with his rendering altered enough to keep from crossing any lines of copyright infringement.

Doctor Mordrid (Jeffrey Combs) is a powerful sorcerer who has sworn to keep Earth safe from the powers of darkness throughout the universe. His arch-enemy Kabal (Brian Thompson) arrives with plans to destroy the world. The two clash in an epic battle of good and evil that includes destructive mystical abilities and re-animated prehistoric creatures.

You can tell as soon as the opening credits roll on "Doctor Mordrid: Master of the Unknown" Directors / Producers Charles Band and his father Albert were quite passionate about bringing one of their favorite superheroes to life, even if he was under a new name with a re-tooled storyline and origin. Obviously, the movie was made on a budget that limited some of what could be done. It still looks great and the entire cast is fully invested in their individual roles.

"Doctor Mordrid: Master of the Unknown" is unrated but should hold an R for all intents and purposes. There's only one scene of nudity, which was really unnecessary and could've been cut or edited to open the picture up to even younger viewers. There was some violence and language as well, but nothing that would've caused it to be rated anything more than PG-13.

1992's "Doctor Mordrid: Master of the Unknown" still stands up well today even though elements of it might seem aged. It's a reminder of where comic book properties stood in the grand scheme of Hollywood at that time.


Disney's "Zootopia" is an amusing and action-packed addition to their long history of animated classics. However, at times, the message of the movie does start feeling heavy-handed. We got it the first three or five times: you can do or be anything you want as long as you believe in yourself and go for it. There's also nothing quite like a wholesome half-dressed pop star telling our children to "Try EVERYTHING", right? Aside from those two gripes, a great vocal cast and well-placed humor bring everything together quite nicely.

"Zootopia" is rated PG for some thematic elements, rude humor and action. Judy Hopps is bullied by her classmates, which might disturb younger viewers or ones who are victims of that sort of abuse. Christians will be offended by the use of God's name in vain in a couple of scenes as well. Judy and Nick visit a nudist colony where animals don't wear clothing. The sequence might stir up some questions about what exactly a nudist colony is.

Kiss Rocks Vegas

When four Liverpool lads stood onstage playing music and wagging their hair around in the early 1960s, it was easy to please a crowd. Rock 'n Roll was young and new. Fast forward a decade to the 1970s, and you had to do a bit more to thrill an audience. One band stood out above all others and continues to: KISS.

Whether you loved them or hated them when they hit the scene in 1973, KISS made an undeniable impression on anyone and everyone they came across. They were charisma. They were spectacle. They were energy. They were explosive. They were loud. They were bombastic. KISS WAS Rock 'n Roll!

Almost every word I used above to describe the "Hottest Band in the Land" could and is used when people think about Las Vegas shows today. When you think of what many consider the most entertaining and bright spot of entertainment in the United States, words like charisma, spectacle, energy, explosive, loud, and bombastic all come to mind I'm sure. What better home for KISS than this place?

Many die-hard fans of KISS will immediately throw up a wall of defense after reading my previous statement. "MY KISS is a rock 'n roll powerhouse too good to become just another staple of Las Vegas," they'll exclaim. Just like KISS deserved to be put in the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame for so many decades of hard work, they deserve a second home to hang their hats and call their own. A place where people come to them on their own turf to have their faces melted off instead of vice versa.

November of 2014 saw KISS take up residence at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. For nine eruptive nights, the group unleashed their powers and legendary songs on the masses who attended these special performances. Bringing with them all the show-stopping vivacity they've become known for, KISS left the venue in a shambles of explosions, smoke, confetti, and blood.

"KISS Rocks Vegas" is the quintessential KISS. It shows the band at the top of their game in every way. Both Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons unleash their vocals and tight musical fury to perfection on every tune. Guitarist Tommy Thayer shreds his instrument's strings for squealing leads that on multiple times conclude in a flash of sparkles and loud cracks in the sky. Drummer Eric Singer doesn't miss a beat as he pounds away on his multi-colored drums lit and strobing throughout the concert.

Every single wonderful trope of a KISS performance is included in "KISS Rocks Vegas", and they should be. Here is a band delivering the goods to many times folks from all walks of life. They've never seen them before in a live setting. Just as they always do, KISS puts their best foot forward and strives to win over newcomers and make new fans. That's how a rock group becomes immortal.

Starchild Paul flies out into the crowd and performs while strutting down a catwalk suspended above audience members. Demon Gene spits blood and fire before ascending to his pedestal high above and proclaim himself the "God of Thunder". Spaceman Tommy fires rockets and lights up the darkness of the arena. Catman Eric blasts away at his drum kit as it rises off the stage to reveal giant banners featuring ferocious felines looking like they're going to jump into the crowd and devour it.

"KISS Rocks Vegas" was a great balance of songs featuring both Paul and Gene on lead vocals. I was actually surprised at how many of Simmons' signature songs appeared on the set list. "God of Thunder", "War Machine", and "I Love It Loud" were all there. The only one absent that I would've liked to hear was "Unholy." Stanley brought the glitz and glamour to numbers like "Love Gun", "Do You Love Me?", and "Creatures of the Night". Singer even had the opportunity to shine through a soulful performance of "Black Diamond". I did miss getting to see Thayer belt out one of his excellent tracks off of KISS's latest albums "Monster" and "Sonic Boom".

The cinematography for "KISS Rocks Vegas" put the viewer in several different locations during the extent of the show. At times, you would be standing in the middle of the crowd where you could see the whole stage. Other times you'd be standing at the feet of the group front row. We also got to fly high above the crowd and the band thanks to some fabulous crane-shots. There wasn't a bad seat in the Hard Rock Hotel.

I took my nine-year-old son with me and was hoping that "KISS Rocks Vegas" would be appropriate for him. In other DVD releases of the band's concerts, we see girls pulling up their shirts and Gene and Paul's famous rock 'n roll "poses." While there are a couple of those here for the sake of keeping it real, all the girls keep their clothes on and the show is family-friendly.

"KISS Rocks Vegas" is a glimpse of things to come. I can see KISS taking up residency for a much longer time than nine days. I can see them becoming a permanent staple of the Town That Never Sleeps. I can see them building the ultimate tribute band and their presence being forever an essential part of the Las Vegas Experience long after the actual members are gone... but not forgotten.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" holds a special place in my heart as a horror fan. As a teen, I would go to my father's during the summer. I used this time visit him and the rest of my family in the area. During my downtime, I would catch up on movies I wasn't allowed to watch living with my mother. Many of the these were, of course, in the horror genre.

One of my favorite memories was watching a double feature one night with my father in the summer of 1987. We went to the local video store and rented "Psycho 2" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2." A funny side-note is that I had never seen either one of the original films. "Chainsaw 2" had a profound impact on me, as it was the first truly graphic and gory movie I had seen. It also had a far sicker sense of humor than what I had witnessed in other horror / comedies like "Fright Night" and the likes.

Revisiting "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" in its new 2K digital transfer was an interesting experience. The movie still holds up over all these years. There's nothing quite like seeing Dennis Hopper battle Leatherface in an epic chainsaw duel. Imagine Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader brandishing chainsaws instead of lightsabers and you get the idea.

Caroline Williams' screams rival those of Fay Wray's in "King Kong." I can't think of any way she could have improved her performance, from her Texan accent to the epic Chainsaw dance at the end of the movie. She is quite the trooper and deserves all the credit she gets as a scream queen being covered in bloody goo and dirt for much of the film.

Dennis Hopper comes alive as a police officer looking to avenge the deaths of his family and end the chainsaw massacre once and for all. He quotes the Bible and sings church hymns while destroying the lair of Leatherface and company, adding to the dark zaniness of the movie. He plays the role relatively straight where many other actors would have hammed it up.

I was very surprised upon re-watching "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" that there's no nudity. There's suggestive material throughout the movie. However, there's no actual sexual situations or topless women to be seen. That's a big surprise to anyone who grew up watching horror movies in the 1980s. I think there might be a pinup picture in the background of a couple shots. Granny Sawyer's decomposing dead body is shown sans clothing, but there's no detail in the body parts.

"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" still ranks as my favorite sequel to the original. Its combination of tension and wild violence with over-the-top black humor still stands as the blueprint for most of the gore fests we get today from folks like Rob Zombie and countless others. Thanks to great practical effects, on-location shooting, and Tom Savini's masterful makeup and prosthetics, the film stands the test of time and is a great example of a well-executed sequel.

The Witch
The Witch(2016)

"The Witch" is one of the most bizarre and disturbing coming-of-age movies I've ever seen. It's definitely not "Sixteen Candles" or "Pretty in Pink." The characters in those films may have their share of problems, but they're nothing in comparison to the ones the family members in "The Witch" are dealing with!

In 1630 New England, panic and despair envelops a farmer (Ralph Ineson), his wife (Kate Dickie) and four of their children when youngest son Samuel suddenly vanishes. The family blames Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), the oldest daughter who was watching the boy at the time of his disappearance. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, twin siblings Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) suspect Thomasin of witchcraft, testing the clan's faith, loyalty and love to one another in "The Witch."

There are so many different viewpoints you can watch the movie from. Christians might see it as either blasphemous or cautionary. Satanists consider it be an encouragement for people to look outside the box of conventional religious beliefs. Others will see it as just a modern folk tale warning of unhealthy family dynamics and the dangers of isolationism and paranoia.

Is it a cautionary tale warning of the dangers of playing with the occult and Satanism? Does the movie encourage audiences to explore life outside the "confines" of Christian religions? Is it warning us to always question our beliefs and not just follow the herd? Honestly, it could be any of these.

As a Christian, I find the ambiguity in the message of "The Witch" to be slightly dangerous for those not grounded in their own faith. You're led to believe one thing through three-quarters of the film, even if the family members are extremely fanatic. Suddenly, the direction we're traveling in seems to switch gears.

"The Witch" is rated R for disturbing violent content and graphic nudity. Much of the nudity is shadowed, blurred, or an old lady. I'm not defending it, just further explaining. Some of it is of oldest daughter Anya Taylor-Joy. She is underage in the film, even though in real life she's now 20. None of it is meant to be sexual in any way.

"The Witch" is a great psychological thriller that sets itself apart from the mainstream jump-scare horror films we're getting right now. It's a thinking man's fright fest that leaves viewers pondering what it's all about. Great acting, authentic-looking sets and wardrobe, and real shooting locations make everything feel even more authentic.

Death Becomes Her

A star-studded cast headed up by Bruce Willis, Goldie Hawn, and Meryl Streep all give elegantly wicked performances based on a story by Martin Donovan ("The Courtship of Eddie's Father") and David Koepp ("Jurassic Park," "Panic Room").

In "Death Becomes Her," two narcissistic arch rivals (Mery Streep and Goldie Hawn) discover the ultimate accessory - a potion that will keep them forever young - when they meet a mysterious enchantress (Isabella Rossellini) with deep ties to the Hollywood elite. But they get more than they bargained for when their newfound beauty only intensifies their vanity and rivalry.

Bruce Willis is absolutely perfect playing against his typecast at a time when he was known as a raging action hero ready to take out anyone who crosses him or his family. Here he's a whimpering mess being led around by two women who take advantage of and mentally and verbally abuse him. Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep are delightfully wicked as the two self-centered women who seek eternal life and servitude from Willis's character.

Director Robert Zemeckis captures the black comedy of "Death Becomes Her" and blends it with a shot of social commentary to give it more depth. Cinematographer Dean Cundey pulls us into the movie through his use of modern Gothic settings and wonderfully moody lighting. All his hard work truly gives the movie a noir feeling that somehow still works even in color.

If you look at the special visual effects through your 2016 glasses they appear dated. However, I remember seeing this movie when it came out 24 years ago and being visually dumbfounded by it. Industrial, Light, and Magic did an incredible job once again pushing the boundaries of their craft to a whole new level with "Death Becomes Her."

The movie is rated PG-13 for some nudity and off-color humor. The only nudity is a shot of Isabella Rossellini's body double from the back showing her rear. There are quite a few cleavage shots here and there as well. "Death Becomes Her" also has profanity, alcohol drinking, and comic violence.

"Death Becomes Her" is one of those films that stands the test of time when it comes to its dark humor and cautionary narrative. Sure, the primitive special visual effects stick out like a sore thumb at times when looking at it now. It's still a really enjoyable and entertaining film that explores the trappings of vanity, the dangers of chasing youth, and being afraid of growing old.

Justice League vs. Teen Titans

Warner Home Video and DC Comics unleash the fury in their latest direct-to-DVD offering "Justice League vs. Teen Titans." The all-new DC Universe Original Movie is brought to us by Director Sam Liu ("Batman: Year One," "All-Star Superman") from a script by Bryan Q. Miller ("The Flash," "Arrow") and Alan Burnett ("Batman: The Animated Series," "Batman Beyond"). It is based on an original idea instead of a comic book arc like most of the past animated films.

Frustrated and disillusioned about his work alongside the Justice League, Robin is forced into a new position with a younger super team, the Teen Titans. Readily welcomed aboard, he is immediately intrigued by the mysterious Raven and the unnatural force that looms over them - her father Trigon - a deceptive being powerful enough to destroy Metropolis by pitting the mighty Justice League against the Teen Titans. Loyalties are on the line and lives hang in the balance in "Justice League vs. Teen Titans."

"Justice League vs. Teen Titans" reminded me of what would happen if an old Satanic Panic flick like "Rosemary's Baby," "The Exorcist," or "The Masque of the Red Death" was blended together with a super hero movie. You have the mother who is deceived into giving herself over to a cult and spawning the daughter of Satan (or Trigon as they call him in the DC Universe). The offspring of the Unholy One fights her destiny and chooses to use her powers for good. The only difference between this and a classic horror film starring Vincent Price or Linda Blair is the inclusion of Robin the Boy Wonder, Starfire, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.

Writers Bryan Q. Miller and Alan Burnett are no strangers to the DC world of super heroes. Burnett has helped create some of the most adored animated television shows and movies from the past three decades, while Miller has brought to life several different comic book characters through live-action series starting with "Smallville." Director Sam Liu knows how to pull it all together and give it a breakneck speed while not skimping on the story.

I applaud the filmmakers for trying to reach out to a teen crowd with their use of rock and dance pop numbers as the Titans try to blow off some adolescent steam at a carnival. They also do a decent job of creating some convincing chemistry between Robin and Raven, who feel like they're the outcasts of the supergroup. At the same time, older comic fans might feel as if they're watching an episode of "DeGrassi: The Next Generation" or "The O.C."

"Justice League vs. Teen Titans" is rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence and some suggestive images. Several demons get their heads chopped off and regrow them. Our heroes also go to Hell and battle some very disturbing creatures that get hacked up. It's definitely not for younger audiences.

Just be warned, parents. These are not the happy-go-lucky super heroes you know from "Teen Titans GO!" The group of youthful crimefighters we see here tend to use some profanity and are dark, angry, and grim. Their leader, Starfire, enjoys wearing extremely short skirts and shirts fashioned with what I call a boob window. I think she might use it as a distraction for her enemies while she battles with them. There's plenty of fun for older teens and adults to be had, but intense and disturbing scenes and other adult content keep this from being something the whole family can watch.

With a great voice cast including Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman, Jerry O'Connell as Superman, Jason O'Mara as Batman, and Jon Bernthal as Trigon, "Justice League vs. Teen Titans" is another action-packed thrill ride from DC Comics and Warner Home Video. Although the frantic pacing and short run-times of these animated movies sometimes feel a bit light on story buildup, they accomplish what they set out to. They're a comic book put in motion before our very eyes.

Village of the Damned

"Village of the Damned" doesn't have that John Carpenter quality we've come to expect from the director's more "personal" projects. The passion we see in his remake of "The Thing from Another World" is all but absent here. I don't get a sense of emotional attachment to the source material like I do for Howard Hawks' original 1951film. Maybe that's because I've read and seen interviews with Carpenter and his production partner where they admitted they were less than enthused to take on the movie and had ulterior motives.

Since "Village of the Damned" was made before the CGI craze hit Hollywood, we get a lot of practical and traditional special effects. Director Carpenter features not just one, but two burned and charred bodies for horror enthusiasts to enjoy. The visual effects of the children's eyes are also a treat to look upon.

John Carpenter shares the responsibility of the musical score for "Village of the Damned" with The Kinks' singer, songwriter and guitarist Dave Davies. The combination of these two talents makes for an eclectic soundtrack. Let's just say it's not quite as menacing as what we've come to expect when sitting down to watch Carpenter's productions.

John Carpenter's "Village of the Damned" isn't necessarily a bad movie. It just feels like the iconic director was going through the motions. Almost like he really didn't have any personal stakes in creating something that would stand the test of time like his own "Halloween" or "The Fog." The acting isn't really bad and there are some chilling moments, but I couldn't shake the idea that I was being walked through an updated Reader's Digest condensed version of the original 1960 British film.

Cherry Falls
Cherry Falls(2000)

Just about everything in "Cherry Falls" is somehow clever and quick-witted. First of all, just take a minute to ponder the name of the town. The concept of a killer taking out virgins instead of disreputable teens is also something the movie has going for it. Another asset is a well thought out script by writer Ken Selden with a surprise reveal that hearkens back to the suspenseful who-dun-its like "Prom Night," "My Bloody Valentine," and even the later "Scream" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer."

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying "Cherry Falls" is perfect by any means. There are plenty of stale performances and overacting from a largely young cast. Honestly, that's my only complaint about the movie.

"Cherry Falls" is rated R for strong violence / gore, teen sexuality, language and some drug content. There's plenty of talk about sex, but no nudity. If you saw the movie when it premiered as the most expensive TV-movie on the USA Network, I'm sure most of the language and graphic violence was nowhere to be found. The version we get here is the home video cut, which features folks getting axed in the head and being impaled. Most of the killing is performed offscreen, however, in the fine fashion of "Psycho" and other early thrillers.

"Cherry Falls" is one of the more adept entries in the slasher genre. Much of this is owed to the combination of a sincere performance from Brittany Murphy, an ingenious turnabout in plot, and the familiar use of a surprise ending. It's an enjoyable addition to a horror fan's home entertainment collection.

Disturbing Behavior

Katie Holmes takes on the role of rebellious Goth teen Rachel Wagner in "Disturbing Behavior." She was doing her best at the time to break free of her good-girl typecast in "Dawson's Creek" where she played near-perfect Joey. What that means is she grimaces a lot and dresses up in half-shirts and rocker boots.

"Disturbing Behavior" has all the tropes you could ever want in a genre film from the late 1990s. You get over-the-top performances and bad acting mixed with hints of tell-tale talent. A melodramatic electronic soundtrack is mixed well with an alternative rock soundtrack and clothing styles that defined the decade.

The lesson to be found in "Disturbing Behavior" is that you must fight for your identity and individuality. Don't run with the crowd just to be accepted. There's a lot more social commentary here than what you would expect from a Hollywood teen flick.

The visual effect used to show the brainwashing really ages the movie as well. They're a sort of fractal imagery that would have looked advanced in a Pre-CGI world, but comes across as hokey today.

The movie is rated R for strong violence, sexuality, language, and drug content. There's nudity in a couple of parts and one definite scene suggesting something is going on out of frame. As usual, it's really all needless and might have been the reason the movie wasn't as successful as it could've been were it accessible to a PG-13 crowd.

"Disturbing Behavior" manages to provide some great thrills and chills. The best way to describe it is as a sort of teen slasher mixed with "The Stepford Wives" and "A Clockwork Orange." The ending seems rushed and comes with some cheesy one-line and a tacked - on finale that would lead you to believe they're might be a sequel in the works. Unfortunately, the movie didn't make enough money at the box office to merit such a thing.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Wow... I don't even know where to start with my review of "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice." Zack Snyder and the rest of his filmmaking crew have truly shown his utter disregard of the source material when it comes to at least Batman in this heaping mess of a film. We have a rather listless and mopey Superman mixing it up with a trigger-happy Dark Knight who goes against everything he ever stood for in the canonical comic books he's based off of. They're all angry and they're just not going to take it from Jesse Eisenberg's over-the-top annoying and crazy-on-the-surface Lex Luthor.

It's been nearly two years since Superman's (Henry Cavill) colossal battle with Zod (Michael Shannon) devastated the city of Metropolis. The loss of life and collateral damage left many feeling angry and helpless, including crime-fighting billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Convinced that Superman is now a threat to humanity, Batman embarks on a personal vendetta to end his reign on Earth, while the conniving Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) launches his own crusade against the Man of Steel in "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice."

I honestly don't know who to blame here for everything wrong with "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice." Is it Director Zack Snyder for not just saying no to all the many terrible ideas he saw when he read the script? Or is it Writers Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer who deserves to carry the heavy load of failure dumped on audiences.

Let's get the good out of the way first, since that's the easiest. There's not much to write home about when it comes to "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice." Not in a positive light at least. Ben Affleck plays a great Bruce Wayne and Batman. When he's not riddling people's body's full of artillery holes, he's brooding, grim, and tough just the way he's supposed to be. He has no mercy on the villains and doesn't care if they live or die as he makes his way to righting the wrongs they're doing. He'll be great in a solo movie not bogged down with the refuse he's surrounded himself with in this atrocity.

Also, Gal Gadot does a great job bringing DC's first lady of comic books to life onscreen. I wouldn't go as far as to say she steals the scenes she's in. However, Gadot does hold her own among the big boys and even saved their hides a few times. She'll definitely help get females (and fanboys) fired up for her solo outing.

I'll also go on record saying that the CGI and other effects weren't a problem for "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice." They were a bit shaky at times and could've been better. Overall, they weren't a distraction and blended well with their surroundings.

Apparently, no one involved in "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" has ever read a single issue of Detective Comics or Batman. The evidence is shown in the fact that he has the Dark Knight using all sorts of shooting instruments and artillery to KILL people. I'm not talking about like in Tim Burton's "Batman," where he would use bullets or exploding bombs to remove objects out of his way or scare his enemies. He actually killed people with them. Anyone with ANY passing knowledge of Batman knows he wouldn't do this.

The Lex Luthor we get in "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" is NOT the Lex Luthor we're given in the comic books we all know and love. Jesse Eisenberg's wacko, unmedicated and juvenile depiction of the character is so annoying you practically pray for him to leave the screen whenever he shows up. He's like a spoiled rich kid with power who accidently is smart.

I don't want to get into spoiler territory here, so let me be as vague as I can be. Everything you think or can imagine based on what you've read as a comic book fan, either passing or hardcore, happens just the way you fear it will. There are NO surprises to be found at all. Not unless you just know the names of these characters and have never seen a single animated or live-action film based on them in the past. I wouldn't say the script is absolutely terrible. Worse, it's just bland and predictable.

"Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality. A lot of people get killed in the movie - most of them bad guys. It might also disturb some younger children to see their favorite superheroes duking it out when they're supposed to be buddies. There's also a bit of profanity used here and there. The only sensuality I can think of is when Lois in the bath and they keep almost showing her breasts, but either cutting away or moving the camera up just in time to keep us from seeing anything. Still trying to figure out what the point of that was.

Is "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" the worst superhero film I've ever seen? No. Although I didn't hate it, the newest incarnation of "Fantastic Four" still holds that honor. If I had a close second, this would be it. I will say it offends me more than that movie because of it's blatant disrespect for the creators and source material it's based on. You can kick dirt in the face of the Fantastic Four or any other Marvel character out there, but don't start soiling the images of my beloved DC icons.

For more articles by Eric Shirey, go to

LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League: Cosmic Clash

Join everyone's favorite characters for the all new original movie, "LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League - Cosmic Clash." Director Rick Morales is in familiar territory as the man who helmed "LEGO DC Super Heroes: Justice League - Attack of the Legion of Doom!," "Beware the Batman," "and Green Lantern: The Animated Series." Writer James Krieg is known for his work as a scribe for "LEGO DC Super Heroes: Justice League - Attack of the Legion of Doom!," "Batman: The Brave and the Bold," and "Teen Titans Go!"

Voice actors include Troy Baker ("Batman: Arkham City"), Nolan North ("Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League"), Grey Griffin ("Star Wars Rebels"), James Arnold Taylor ("Star Wars: The Clone Wars"), and Phil LaMarr ("Justice League).

Villainous super-computer Brainiac (Phil LaMarr) decides to add Earth to his collection of worlds in "LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League - Cosmic Clash." The members of the team of super heroes will stop at nothing to fight back. Scattered through time by Brainiac's devious schemes, they'll have to reunite to save the world.

My son really enjoyed "LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League - Cosmic Clash." He took the time to give it his review. He stated, "Brainiac, the collector of worlds, has found a planet that comes between DZ and EB. He has taken captive of that world. Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman have been shot into different times. Wonder Woman is the Queen of the Cave in the time of dinosaurs. Green Lantern is the ship's cleaner in the time of pirates. Thunder Lad, Saturn Girl, and Cosmic Boy fight Brainiac-Superman in the future.

"What I like about 'LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League - Cosmic Clash' is Brainiac's super ship because it has many guns on it. I don't like Supergirl because of her whining. 'Cosmic Clash' is a movie everyone should see," Nine-year-old Ephraim told me.

"LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League - Cosmic Clash" is not rated and for a general audience. Of course there's the typical comic book violence. However, there's always a lighthearted tone to everything.

There's not much when it comes to bonus material for "LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League - Cosmic Clash." A gag reel entitled "The Justice League: Caught on Camera" is included as a special feature. All our cherished super heroes "candidly" cause hilarity for everyone to enjoy.

Any aged fan of super heroes will find something entertaining and funny when watching "LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League - Cosmic Clash." With a good balance of female and male role models to latch onto, it's the perfect film for a quiet night at the house with the whole family. DC and LEGO have once again proved their partnership together is a genuine success.


In the made-for-TV movie "Carrie," our young naive outcast (Angela Bettis) is tormented by her fellow high-school students. She learns of her telekinesis and begins using it as a tool for vengeance.

The 2002 version of Stephen King's "Carrie" is a lot better than it could've been. It was already fighting an uphill battle trying to recapture the same tense and gloriously haunting magic the 1976 movie did. Weak performances and cheesy dialogue by many of the actors doesn't help the situation. However, Angela Bettis's incredible performance as the title character virtually redeems any weakness shown by the other cast members. The one thing that hinders this update is the TV-quality production and cinematography. That being said, the special effects are a lot better than they should've been for a TV-movie made in the early 2000s.

Although 2002's "Carrie" is rated TV-14 and includes some questionable content for younger viewers. There's brief nudity, although nothing graphic is shown. The scenes are from the back or a profile of Carrie lying in the fetal position in the shower. There are adult situations, violence and gore, mild profanity, alcohol and smoking, and frightening and intense scenes.

If you give the update a chance, you'll find that it really isn't as bad as history remembers it.

Escape from New York

In "Escape from New York," it's 1997 and a major war between the United States and the Soviet Union is concluding. The entire island of Manhattan has been converted into a giant maximum security prison. When Air Force One is hijacked and crashes into the island, the president (Donald Pleasence) is taken hostage by a group of inmates. Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), a former Special Forces soldier turned criminal, is recruited to retrieve the president in exchange for his own freedom.

The thing that impressed me upon re-watching "Escape from New York" on Blu-ray was the practical effects, models, and background paintings utilized. In the age of CGI, they still look realistic and make you feel like you're watching something that's actually happening in front of you. You feel as if you've been dropped with Snake into the middle of the Rotten Apple.

"Escape from New York" is rated R for violence and gore, profanity, smoking, nudity, and frightening and intense sequences. A girl is seen topless in a rather darkly lit sequence that lasts barely five seconds. The rest of the "offending" content is rather tame by today's standards.

I'm sure there are not many out there who haven't seen "Escape from New York" in one form or another over the past 35 years. Besides the fact that it's set in the future 18 years ago, the movie still holds up because it's actually more realistic and grounded than most dystopic sci-fi films. Instead of the flying cars and advanced technology viewed in movies like "Blade Runner," we see believable and relevant settings that could transpire in the next decade or so.

Batman Vs. Robin

DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation bring fans of the Dark Knight his latest adventure "Batman vs. Robin." Writer J. M. DeMatteis does an incredible job blending together Grant Morrison's "Batman & Robin: Batman vs. Robin" and Scott Snyder's "Batman: The Court of Owls" graphic novels into one action-packed thrill ride through the darkness of Gotham City. It doesn't hurt that the ever angry and charismatic Damien Wayne and his strained relationship with his father Bruce are parts of the main focus of the story.

In "Batman vs. Robin," Damian Wayne has a hard time accepting his father's no-killing rule. He soon starts to believe his destiny lies within a secret society. The Son of Batman finds himself the target of a vigilante calling himself Talon. The mysterious man wants Damian to take his place as the lead assassin of the enigmatic Court of Owls.

I loved the way filmmakers incorporated parts of "Damien: Son of Batman" into "Batman vs. Robin." There's a small "dream" (or "nightmare?") sequence where Batman finds himself face to face with a grown-up Damien who dresses in a new version of the cape and cowl. A touching showdown between the two ensues which addresses the Dark Knight's insecurities about the way he's raising his offspring.

"Batman vs. Robin" is rated PG-13 for intense action and violence, suggestive images and thematic elements. There are some instances where dark silhouettes cover up nude bodies in the context of insinuated adult situations. For all intents and purposes, think of "Batman vs. Robin" as having the same content as "The Dark Knight Rises," but as a cartoon.

"Batman vs. Robin" is a worthy follow-up to "Son of Batman." I love the character of Damian Wayne and feel there's a lot more they could do with the character in further animated features. Might I suggest an animated adaptation of the "Damien: Son of Batman" graphic novel? The explosive relationship between Bruce and Damien is something that will not only find teens being able to associate with it, but fathers who struggle with their rebellious and independent-minded sons as well.

Invaders from Mars

Director Tobe Hooper's remake of the 1953 classic takes the always successful Amblin Entertainment formula made famous through films like "E.T.: The Extra-terrestrial," "Space Camp," and "Explorers" and adds his own flair. He takes those familiar ingredients and combines them with frightening aliens intent on taking over the world one small town at a time.

In "Invaders from Mars," a boy (Hunter Carson) begins seeing his parents and neighbors act like zombies. Is it a coincidence the weirdness all started after a flying saucer landed in his back yard?

The big genre star in "Invaders from Mars" is veteran genre actor Karen Black. She's perfectly cast in the role of the panicked and constantly tormented school nurse who believes our young lead character is telling the truth. Is she a little overdramatic and campy at times? Of course she is... she's Karen Black in a horror movie!

"Invaders from Mars" is rated PG in that wonderful way many 1970s and 1980s movies were. It contains a lot of content that would've merited it at least PG-13 today. The movie includes violence but no real gore. Many sequences will frighten younger viewers because of how the aliens appear and the intensity they'll feel as the lead characters are chased down. The young boy in the film has quite a filthy mouth, much like his counterparts in several other movies featuring children experiencing fantastic adventures in the 1980s.

"Invaders from Mars" will fit nicely with "The Goonies" and "The Monster Squad." It has all the elements of the coming-of age films of the 1980s directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, and others. The only difference is it delves a bit deeper into the horror and sci-fi realms. It's exactly the sort of genre movie you would expect "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Poltergeist" Director Tobe Hooper would want to watch as an alienated (pun intended) boy.

From a Whisper to a Scream

Some horror fanatics might know "From a Whisper to a Scream" by its other title, "The Offspring." Director Jeff Burr and the screenwriters take the portmanteau formula and inject their own brand of bloodletting and revolting deeds of dementia into it. Their approach takes the art form to a whole other level of graphicness and disgust that couldn't be explored in previous decades.

Beneath the small-town exterior of Oldfield, Tennessee lies a history of shocking violence and terrifying phenomena, as recounted by local historian Julian White (Vincent Price). In the '80s, an office worker (Clu Gulager) nurses a deadly crush. In the '50s, a witch doctor (Harry Caesar) holds the secret to unending life. In the '30s, fighting breaks out in a traveling carnival over forbidden love. Finally, in the 1860s, Union soldiers discover a group of orphaned children with a deadly agenda.

When you see Vincent Price's name attached to "From a Whisper to a Scream," your mind will drift to the classic films he made in the 1960s and 1970s, which were tame by today's horror standards. I assure you that's not the case here. The four tales presented come stuffed full of the gore and gruesomeness we all expect from 1980s genre movies.

"From a Whisper to a Scream" is rated R for violence and gore, adult situations, nudity, profanity, alcohol, drugs, smoking, and frightening and intense sequences. Necrophilia is insinuated which spawns a deformed monster baby in one of the most disturbing segments of the film. No nudity is shown in relation to sex. It was still unnecessary and added nothing to the story or plot.

"From a Whisper to a Scream" fits perfectly somewhere between other portmanteau films made in the 1980s like "Tales from the Darkside" and "Creepshow" and 1960s classics such as "Tales from the Crypt" and "The Vault of Horror." Vincent Price serving as the teller of the sordid stories lends an air of nostalgia which leads the viewer to expect a bit more quality to what might be mistakenly thought of as just another attempt at an anthology collection. However, you'll find yourself glad you made the trip to Oldfield as the ending credits roll.

Our Mother's House

Here's another forgotten piece of film history. So many great movies get lost in the shuffle of time and an always crowded box office. They never get the attention they deserve. Some just don't get the proper media coverage or struggle to find the right audience, which I believe was the case when this was originally released in 1967.

In "Our Mother's House," Mrs. Hook (Annette Carell) dies after refusing to take medicine owing to her fundamentalist beliefs. She leaves her seven orphaned children to fend for themselves. Not wanting to be put in foster homes, the siblings bury their mother in the garden and successfully keep her death a secret. When their long-lost father (Dirk Bogarde) returns, it's initially a happy reunion, as he helps perpetuate the fraud. But soon he shows his true colors -- drinking, carousing and scheming to sell the house.

What a touching and disturbing film "Our Mother's House" is. Every single actor onscreen is completely invested in their role. Dirk Bogarde makes you hate the scheming loser he portrays as he lies and mistreats the children. The child actors are incredibly talented and all establish their own individual characters so that the viewer truly empathizes with them.

I would consider "Our Mother's House" to be a drama with sprinkles of thrills and chills here and there. The scenes of the oldest daughter (Pamela Franklin) trying to contact their dead mother via a sort of séance add a little supernatural flavor to the movie as well. They never really tell you whether she's actually talking to the deceased or faking it to make the children listen to her. Franklin was perfect for the role and continued to freak people out as a clairvoyant in "The Legend of Hell House" a few years later.

Although it's unrated, "Our Mother's House" would garner a PG at the least by today standards. It's a pretty intense film that deals with death and the effects it has on children. The movie contains light profanity, brief adult situations, alcohol and smoking, and some frightening and intense sequences. The part where the mother is lying lifeless in bed with the children surrounding her is one of the most shocking and realistic depictions of death I've ever seen onscreen.

"Our Mother's House" is another fine example of a classic film somehow being overlooked by cinema enthusiasts. It's a brilliant family drama blended with just the right amount of effective creepiness to keep you in suspense. The child actors never failed to impress me as they moved from emotion to emotion.

The Babadook
The Babadook(2014)

"The Babadook" is an effective thriller which climbs inside your head and drags all your worst fears and insecurities to the surface. It will haunt not only your nightmares as some of the disturbing events take place in the "safety" of the day.

In "The Babadook," a troubled widow (Essie Davis) discovers that her son (Noah Wiseman) is telling the truth. He is seeing a monster that entered their home through the pages of a children's book. Together, they must fight to remove the sinister creature from their lives while they spiral more and more into insanity.

Although I've heard complaints from some that they never really show the monster, I find that to be a part of the mystery surrounding "The Babadook." You only get fleeting glimpses of what the creature truly is. I see it as a combination of Dr. Caligari and a Spanish horror icon known as Coffin Joe. That's all I'll give away about its appearance.

"The Babadook" is unrated but could hold an R. A sexually explicit scene with no nudity is found. It also includes violence involving a child. Many times the child is dishing out the violence. Frightening and intense sequences of the monster are guaranteed to frighten viewers. There's also profanity and the child is given a sedative to help him sleep.

"The Babadook" truly is an exercise in psychological horror that must be seen. It takes your worst fears and darkest thoughts and parades them onscreen in front of you to deal with and work out. You could even call it a sort of extreme grief and parental therapy if you truly dig into the meanings behind the movie.

Into the Woods

Walt Disney takes us on a dark and dazzling journey "Into the Woods" with this mashup of the many fairy tales they've so colorfully brought to the screen in animation form before. If you can imagine "Once Upon a Time" loaded with never-ending musical numbers you have a good idea what to expect from this impressive film. Besides a few spots where you know you're on a movie set, audiences will no doubt get lost in the land of make-believe Director Rob Marshall transports you to.

In "Into the Woods," a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) are childless as the result of the curse of a once-beautiful witch (Meryl Streep). Three days before the rise of a blue moon, they venture into the forest to find the ingredients that will reverse the spell and restore the witch's beauty: a milk-white cow, hair as yellow as corn, a blood-red cape, and a slipper of gold. During their journey, they meet Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) and Jack (Daniel Huttlestone), each one on a quest to fulfill a wish.

The movie is rated PG for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material. There are some surprisingly adult-type situations towards the end of the movie when the mood of the film switches gears. The nods to the original Grimm's fairy tales might be a bit too disturbing for younger viewers as well.

"Into the Woods" will be a big hit with audiences into the theater and musicals. It takes an interesting turn in its third act which, if you've never seen the production before, will come as a shock to those who want to live happily ever after. I do have to say some of the sets look and feel stagey, which took me out of the viewing experience at times. The singing and performances by the entire cast were spot-on. Unfortunately, I really don't enjoy this sort of thing and can't imagine I'll ever revisit the Woods.

It Follows
It Follows(2015)

"It Follows" has become the most talked about horror film of the season thanks to rave reviews and a ridiculous amount of press from not only genre outlets but mainstream ones as well. With so much hype surrounding it, I deemed it necessary to drop everything and see it as soon as possible. As I left the theater, I couldn't shake the feeling that while what I saw was both engaging and thought-provoking it still somehow missed the mark of true terror.

In "It Follows," a teenager (Maika Monroe) has disturbing visions following a strange sexual encounter. She has the inescapable feeling that someone -- or something -- is after her.

I couldn't help but be intrigued with the premise of what has now become a juggernaut of a horror film. As a Christian who promotes sexual abstinence before marriage, the concept of "It Follows" caught my attention right away. It's like taking one of the most important "rules" of slasher films and really pounding it home.

"If you have sex, you're going to die!"

Several viewers will take "It Follows" as a metaphor for the endless spreading of the AIDS virus through unprotected sex. Others might look at it as a warning that premarital sex never ends well. There's always emotional baggage we're left with after the experience. Either way, there's a lesson to be learned whether it was intentional or not.

Is "It Follows" actually THAT scary like everyone else says it is? Not really. Is there an ever-present sense of dread and gloom? I would say so. The main problem with the film is that you're expecting some over-the-top controversial ending thanks to all the hype the media is throwing at us. Sadly, I think most people will find the conclusion unsatisfying.

Another issue I had with "It Follows" is the way the horror is taken out of the lead character's head. At first, only she can see the evil coming for her and that provides a certain personal or first-person psychological appeal to the film. Once the "entity" manifests itself to the others like a poltergeist, you start to feel as if you're just watching another typical supernatural thriller. The novelty of the whole concept just wears off during those segments.

The movie is rated R for disturbing violent and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language. There was definitely way more nudity than there needed to be in order to get the point across. It's not sensual nudity, either. There's nothing attractive or stimulating at the flesh we see flash across the screen. The violence is gory and includes a few head shots and blood splatters.

"It Follows" succeeds in its suspenseful set-up and establishment of an atmosphere of dread and panic. Unfortunately, it fails to deliver any real closure at its conclusion. Some will find this fitting, where others will leave the theater unfulfilled. I was caught somewhere in the middle of dissatisfaction and contentment. Although I enjoyed the basic premise and the unique blend of 1970s and 1980s nostalgia with present day technology, I was left wanting more in the horror department.

Something Wicked

Arc Entertainment serves up another slice of thrills and chills with the suspense thriller "Something Wicked." Touted as Brittany Murphy's last performance, it delivers through deliberate psychological missteps and a lingering dark sense of dread that leaves the viewer wondering if all is what it seems. Although it's not quite up to par with most theatrical releases, it deserves a status a few notches above the Lifetime and TV-movies category it will no doubt be lumped into.

In "Something Wicked," a young couple makes their wedding plans shortly after the death of the bride's parents in a tragic car collision with a train. As they settle into married life, gruesome secrets from their past collide with the present.

"Something Wicked" achieves what all movies should aim for. It gives audiences a distraction from real life for over ninety minutes through a series of ups and downs and loops and sharp turns that any fan of suspense thrillers will enjoy. I had my suspicions of what might happen in the end, but it didn't affect the level of entertainment I experienced along the journey.

"Something Wicked" is rated R for violence, sexuality, and language. Although there are a few sensual moments that get a little steamier than what we see in made-for-TV movies, that's really the only thing that would push this into R-rated territory. Things never go overboard in the areas of violence and gore.

Brittany Murphy shows great emotional depth as the tortured sister-in-law of the lead character. She switches from grounded psychologist to a helpless, crazed, and empathetic shell with the sense of professionalism you would only hope for in a much more seasoned actor. I don't know whether it was for the role or not, but her greasy slick-backed hair and pale features matched her character's agonized and mentally drained personality.

"Something Wicked" is the equivalent of a Lifetime movie if production and the budget were taken one step further. One or two good twists and a big lie by omission fuel this suspense thriller. A cast who are invested in their characters lends a level of quality to a film that successfully rises above what could have been just another direct-to-DVD casualty. It acts as an acceptable tribute to the late Brittany Murphy, who turns out a fine performance in her last role.

Exodus: Gods and Kings

I'm not entirely sure if Ridley Scott even read the story of Moses and the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt found in the Holy Bible before agreeing to climb behind the camera and direct "Exodus: Gods and Kings." Here we have an extremely fallible attempt at re-visiting what Cecil B. DeMille already perfected twice in two different decades with "The Ten Commandments." While those movies still took artistic freedoms, they were one hundred times more close to the source material than what we see here.

In "Exodus: Gods and Kings," Egyptian Princes Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) are raised together as brothers. When Ramses becomes pharaoh, Moses is his most-trusted adviser. However Moses soon discovers his Hebrew parentage, and Ramses banishes him to the desert -- often a death sentence. But God has a mission for Moses: Free the Israelites from slavery. Moses returns from exile and demands that Ramses let his people go, but the arrogant ruler is unmoved, leading to a battle of divine wills.

I can't believe it took four writers to completely desecrate and butcher what many would consider one of the most vital stories found in the Bible. Even if you consider the Holy Bible just to be another great piece of literature, "Exodus: Gods and Kings" is a terrible adaptation for the big-screen of what many believe is a cornerstone of their faith and some respect as great fantasy. If Ridley Scott were Chris Columbus, this is his "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" versus "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" as far as imprecise and exact book adaptations go, respectively.

The acting in "Exodus: Gods and Kings" is all over the place in regards to performances. Christian Bale is completely wasted as Moses. He walks and stands around most of the film acting like a helpless bystander. Every once in a while he'll lead a revolt against the Egyptians, but for the most part he just observes God's spiteful punishment from afar.

John Turturro plays the King of Egypt and does his very best in the dramatic role. However, the entire time I watched him onscreen I kept waiting for him to exclaim, "I'm very sneaky" in a weird accent. Joel Edgerton's performance as the Pharaoh Ramses II shows he has the acting chops to take on better big-budget productions than this tripe. Sigourney Weaver floats through her fleeting appearances in the movie as if she's doing Ridley Scott a favor portraying the Queen of Egypt.

I won't deny it was cool seeing the plagues come to life through the use of modern CGI. The alligators ravenously devouring the fisherman and turning the Nile red with their blood is a fun scene to watch. It was also an impressive sight to see all the frogs and locusts invading Egypt and wreaking havoc. The parting of the Red Sea was a bit of a visual disappointment, however. The primitive visual effects from 1956's "The Ten Commandments" were more stunning than what we got in "Exodus: Gods and Kings."

"Exodus: Gods and Kings" is rated PG-13 for violence including battle sequences and intense images. There are some gory scenes of Egyptians being eaten by alligators and animals throwing up blood. We also see the lifeless bodies of Egyptian children as their parents cry in agony over their deaths, which will be disturbing to some.

"Exodus: Gods and Kings" completely belittles its reluctant hero and makes him nothing more than a raving mad bystander instead of the obedient instrument of God's just rule. On top of that, the once powerful God is whittled down to a spoiled child who is arrogant and prone to venomous temper tantrums. The supernatural plagues found in the scriptures are reduced to natural disasters for the most part, easily explained away by convenient scientific theory. When it's all said and done, the entire production is nothing more than a soulless and humanistic attempt at rehashing Cecil B. DeMille's original masterpiece "The Ten Commandments."

Frankenstein Vs. The Mummy

I love the classic Universal and Hammer horror and monster films. The Universal pictures of the 1930s and 1940s capture my fancy because of their black-and-white shadowing, atmosphere, and theatrical acting. The Hammer movies feed my appetite for Technicolor gore, gothic settings, and even more dramatic turns from two of my favorite genre actors - Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Writer / Director Damien Leone's "Frankenstein vs. The Mummy" puts a modern spin on and combines both the tales of Mary Shelley and the story for Boris Karloff's 1932 original conceived by Nina Wilcox Putnam and Richard Schayer.

In "Frankenstein vs. The Mummy," Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Max Rhyser) and Egyptologist Naihla Khalil (Ashton Leigh) are both professors at a leading medical university. Victor's latest grisly "experiment" is the re-animated corpse (Constantin Tripes) of a sadistic madman and Naihla's most recent find is the cursed mummy (Brandon deSpain) of an evil pharaoh. When the two monsters face-off in an epic showdown, no one is safe from the slaughter. Can the murderous rampage be stopped and the carnage contained before it's too late?

Writer / Director Damien Leone does his best at paying tribute to the classic monster mashups of Universal's heydays of horror. We got to see Frankenstein's monster go up against the Wolf-Man and team up with Dracula on a few occasions. For anyone who grew up watching these movies, it only makes sense that you'd want to see "Frankenstein vs. The Mummy." Who in their right mind wouldn't? Unfortunately, Leone's ingenious way of marrying the two tales together ends up leading to a rather lackluster battle between the two iconic creatures that will leave audiences feeling unfulfilled.

"Frankenstein vs. The Mummy" is not rated, but if it were would probably be a hard R or NC-17 because of the amount of graphic gore. It also includes adult situations and sensuality, violence, profanity, smoking, and frightening and intense scenes. The sensuality and adult situations revolve around an unnecessary sex scene that adds nothing to the story and a couple of attempted rape scenes with the monster assaulting Naihlia.

"Frankenstein vs. The Mummy" is an admirable attempt at capturing the glory days of the Universal and Hammer monster movies. Weak acting and lulls in action work against the film as a whole. I do have to give credit to Writer / Director Damien Leone for trying to build up the story and character motivations, but here it only serves to slow down and put off what everyone watches the movie for in the first place. We want to see the big showdown between Frankenstein's Monster and the Mummy, which is way too short when it finally arrives. In the movie's defense, there are some great gory practical effects and a few bloodcurdling scenes that made me cringe.

Fear Clinic
Fear Clinic(2014)

Director / Writer Robert Hall gives fans of Robert Englund another impressive movie to add to their collection with "Fear Clinic." Based on the renowned web series, the concept carries over to a feature length film magnificently. I was first exposed to the excellent talent of filmmaker Hall at a screening of his new slasher classic "Laid to Rest." With his latest endeavor in terror, he far surpasses that simple, yet genre-bending work of art.

In "Fear Clinic," five people with incurable phobias seek treatment in a machine that animates their fears. Unbeknownst to them, the machine's operator harbors an entity which feeds on terror.

Robert Englund proves once again that his acting abilities stretch much further than what many expect from the man who created the character of Freddy Krueger in one of the most popular horror franchises in the cinema history. His role in "Fear Clinic" dares the audience to not have sympathy for him as he strives to rescue the human race from the terrors they suffer from. The rest of the cast are visibly invested in their parts as well.

"Fear Clinic" is rated R for bloody horror violence, disturbing images, language and some sexuality/nudity. Many of the dream sequences and flashbacks feature hallucinatory cinematography and choppy editing that give the viewer a sense of anxiety. It's nowhere near as graphic and gory as the "Laid to Rest" movies.

Robert Hall has given horror fans a unique and engaging journey into the heart of our most dreaded nightmares. It's hard to compare "Fear Clinic" to any other movies out there. Imagine the artful abstract imagery from "The Cell" blended with a Lovecraftian creature feature and you'll halfway have an idea of what to expect. It also uses a familiar scenario which is becoming disturbingly more and more commonplace as its foundation.

New Year's Evil

Scream Factory will make many horror and slasher fans very happy with the release of the rare and long-sought-after holiday slaughterfest "New Year's Evil" on Blu-ray. They definitely missed the boat for the 2014 to 2015 festivities, but never again will I have to watch a bootleg copy or wonder if it it's streaming on Netflix. I have all the blood and guts in high-definition to enjoy from now on.

In "New Year's Evil," Diane "Blaze" Sullivan (Roz Kelly) is the host of a nationally televised punk-rock show on New Year's Eve. She begins receiving calls from a mysterious killer (Kip Niven) who tells her of his sadistic plans. The lunatic will off someone at midnight in each of America's major time zones... and she will be the last.

"New Year's Evil" takes an interesting approach to the typical slasher flick. Instead of the killer being masked and the audience being left wondering who they are, the murderer is identified almost immediately. The mystery we're left to solve is who they are and why they're targeting radio show host Roz Kelly. What is the endgame of the stalker and why is he targeting the DJ?

Scream Factory gives enthusiasts of "New Year's Evil" some engaging bonus material for its Blu-ray debut. Audio commentary from Director Emmett Alston is included. There are also new interviews with actors Kip Niven, Grant Cramer, Taaffe O'Connell and Director of Photography Thomas Ackerman. A theatrical trailer is found as well.

"New Year's Evil" is rated R for violence, gore, language, adult situations, and nudity. If you've seen any other 1980s slasher films, you know what to expect. There's also smoking and drinking at the big New Year's party.

I don't know how much more perfect "New Year's Evil" could be. It's a fitting and entertaining holiday slasher for a time of the year that usually gets lost in all the Christmas craziness. As a bonus, the movie is a reflection of the 1980s new wave and punk rock movements that defined the era. Blended together, we get a film worthy to be added to any horror fan's annual end-of-the-year home entertainment collection.

Big Hero 6
Big Hero 6(2014)

Disney has another hit on their hands with the big-screen adaptation of Marvel Comics' "Big Hero 6." They've accomplished exactly what producers set out to when scouring through the unused properties of the mighty publisher. Filmmakers took a forgotten super hero title and attempted to give it a new lease on life.

Prodigy Hiro Hamada and an inflatable robot named Baymax have developed a special bond with each other. The city of San Fransokyo suffers a devastating event that jeopardizes the safety of its citizens. Hiro joins forces with his friends adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred to form a team of high-tech heroes called "Big Hero 6." Together they must uncover the mystery of who's to blame for the damage which has befallen the great city.

"Big Hero 6" is filled with likable characters who contribute something to the team. Each one has their own unique look and attitude towards their heroic actions. Every child in the audience will find something in common with one of the different members of the group.

The visual concepts for "Big Hero 6" are breathtaking. The city of San Fransokyo is a clever mash-up of its namesakes. It's a futuristic metropolitan bringing together American and Japanese culture which doesn't seem all that far off from where we're headed in the real world.

The animation of "Big Hero 6" is a clever blend of Disney's signature CG look with an anime flavor injected into it. It's a smart move at a time when younger kids are into Asian movies and shows like "Fairy Tale," "Pokemon," and Disney's distributed Studio Ghibli properties. The combination of styles is a perfect way to attract a broader audience to the film.

The unofficial "mascot" of "Big Hero 6" is an inflatable robot named Baymax. His design is based on real world technology doctors have started using to treat patients that are sensitive to the touch. They take this idea and run with it as the loveable Baymax believes his teammates to be patients he needs to take care of and keep safe.

"Big Hero 6" is rated PG for action and peril, some rude humor, and thematic elements. All of these minor issues aside, it's a great movie for the whole family to enjoy together. I'm sure some younger children will find certain points scary for them. They might be frightened of the main villain's mask and look as well.

Everything about "Big Hero 6" points to it being a perfect movie to launch a new franchise for both Disney and Marvel. I find it strange that Marvel has gone out of its way to visually distance itself from the movie. You can't find a logo for the company anywhere in it. A surprise appearance in the post-credits scene definitely cements the comic book publisher's imprint onto the film, even if it isn't through the use of the familiar fanfare seen at the beginning of every live-action Marvel movie.

Trancers II
Trancers II(1991)

Charles Band takes the reins again on this energetic and enjoyable follow-up to his original 1984 cult film. Just don't expect the same hard-boiled noir feel as the first or you'll be disappointed.

"Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth" sees our heroic trooper (Tim Thomerson) returning again to save a Los Angeles commodities broker from zombies. Things get complicated when his wife (Megan Ward) from the future is sent back to help him. His wife in the present, Lena (Helen Hunt), is none too happy to see her. Jack is now stuck balancing two women and trying to destroy a sinister plot involving Trancers.

It's amazing that Band could bring together most of the cast from the first "Trancers" to reprise their roles. A lot can happen in seven years and Helen Hunt was about to blow up big-time on TV and the big screen. On top of that, he added impressive newcomers Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Richard Lynch, and Bond girl Martine Beswick to the mix.

"Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth" is rated R for adult situations, violence and gore, profanity, smoking and drinking, and frightening and intense scenes. If released today, the movie would be PG-13 at the most. There's some blood-splattering when the Trancers are shot, but nothing more since they then disintegrate in a flash of light. Adult situations are made up of some kissing and talk.

Sci-Fi actioner "Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth" makes the most of a low budget through its setting in the past and minimal need for special effects. The look of the title beasties is accomplished through practical make-up and the only need for VFX comes when the monsters evaporate in a haze of laser lighting. Writers Jackson Barr and Charles Band build an engaging story through the use of a bizarre love triangle, humor, drama, and adventure. Although this sequel doesn't hold quite the same charm as the original, it stands on its own and successfully continues the saga of Jack Deth.


I remain amazed with every new film the Chiller Channel unleashes upon genre fans. This new movie continues to campaign for a revival of practical and creature effects over the use of CGI and is obviously winning the battle.

In "Animal," plans for a weekend getaway hit a dead end when a group of close-knit friends finds themselves stranded in unfamiliar territory, pursued by a menacing, bloodthirsty predator. Holed up in an isolated cabin, they turn on one another as tensions mount and long-buried secrets are revealed. But when the body count rises, the group must put their differences aside and fight for survival.

"Animal" comes with a surprisingly eclectic cast brought together to pull in viewers from all different walks of life. Pop artists and actors Keke Palmer ("Joyful Noise") and Eve ("Whip It") star as meat for the beast. Other cast members from across the genre board include Joey Lauren Adams ("Mallrats," "Chasing Amy"), Elizabeth Gillies ("Victorious"), Jeremy Sumpter ("Friday Night Lights," "Soul Surfer"), Paul Iacono ("Return to Sleepaway Camp"), and Amaury Nolasco ("Prison Break," "A Good Day to Die Hard").

Director Brett Simmons knows how to evoke a level of suspense and anxiety. He also does a great job of revealing the physical details of the mysterious creature a little bit at a time. The beast is rather unique although you can tell by looking at it what it was based on. Elements of Pumpkinhead and Alien Xenomorphs covered in Bigfoot hair come to mind immediately.

The movie is Unrated, although I would consider it to hold an "R." "Animal" includes heavy violence and gore, profanity, and frightening and intense scenes. Plenty of chewed up body parts are left lying around after the creature gets through with the bits and pieces it's interested in eating.

"Animal" is another quality horror movie from Chiller Films. Melding together the best elements from classic creature features like "Pumpkinhead" and "Without Warning," the first-person monster filming style of "Evil Dead," and the isolated vibe from movies like "The Cabin in the Woods" and "Pumpkinhead" prove to form a solid foundation for a gory good time. Although it slows down a bit from time to time, it always throws the viewer right back into the blood-soaked thick of things.

101 Dalmatians

"101 Dalmatians" is a perfect example of classic Walt Disney animation and storytelling. It has an air of elegance thanks to its English setting and characters. The unforgettable villainy and look of Cruella de Vil will forever be imprinted in the minds of children and their parents alike. It's a tale of family loyalty that cautions us to always be wary of other people's motives and greed. And of course kids will find the puppies cute as well.

Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis

It's about time Aquaman got the limelight he deserves. Anyone who's kept up with his New 52 title knows the King of the Sea was resurrected with more powers than ever before when DC rebooted its universe. "Justice League: Throne of Atlantis" is the latest explosive animated offering from the comic book giant and Warner Home Video and proves to naysayers our fishy friend has what it takes to be a contender.

Atlantian troops assault Metropolis as revenge for the death of their King. But the Queen of Atlantis has different plans and requires the Justice League to find her lost son, Arthur. While they search for him, the Atlantian soldiers, led by Ocean Master, continue their assault.

"Justice League: Throne of Atlantis" is all the proof one needs to justify Aquaman's place on the greatest super hero team of all time. Whether on land or at sea, he can use his liquid-centric powers to bring down the law on all who oppose him or his friends.

I love the style for the New 52 animated movies and think the change that started even before "Justice League: War" was needed. The voice actors all fit quite well, too. Of course it's still hard to hear someone else besides Kevin Conroy voice Batman, but change occurs whether we like it or not.

"Justice League: Throne of Atlantis" is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action throughout. There's some profanity to be found as well. It was very unnecessary and really could've been avoided. The use of adult language is something that will cause some parents not to let their children watch the movie. However, I'm pretty sure no one would've avoided watching it if there weren't any curse words.

"Justice League: Throne of Atlantis" is one of my favorite animated offerings from DC Comics. I'm a big fan of Aquaman and it's nice to see him get his due finally. The movie never lets up in the action and adventure departments and moves forward at a breakneck speed. There's never a dull moment and it will leave you wanting more as the credits roll.


Based on author Joe Hill's critically acclaimed 2010 book, "Horns" comes across as a dark comedy blended with a murder mystery set to the backdrop of a YA novel if written by Stephen King or Anne Rice.

Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) is the number one suspect for the murder of his girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple). Hung over from a night of hard drinking, Ig awakens one morning to find horns growing from his head. He soon realizes their power drives people to confess their sins and give in to their most selfish and unspeakable impulses - an effective tool in his quest to discover what happened to his girlfriend and exact revenge on her killer.

On first viewing, it seemed ridiculous that most of everyone's secret desires and sins were based around sex. It then dawned on me that "Horns" really hit the nail on the head. If you think about it, we are a culture obsessed with sex. The proof is evident in everything from what we watch and read to what we wear. I don't think it needed to be so graphic in getting that point across to audiences, however.

The murder mystery in "Horns" is handled quite well. You really don't know who the killer is until they're revealed. The movie keeps you guessing up to the very moment the audience is let in on the terrible secret. Along the way, we're led in several different directions to throw us off the scent.

Most Christians will have a hard time with "Horns." Although the movie ultimately shows a man doing everything he can to redeem himself, it still could be seen as morally ambiguous. Should we embrace the powers of the Devil to do battle against evil? I think not. I do see what the film is trying to say: "You do what you have to do with the hand your dealt." Ig didn't make a deal with the Devil to get his demonic powers. He woke up with them.

"Horns" is rated R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, disturbing violence including a sexual assault, language, and drug use. The rape scene, although not too visual, might be uncomfortable or distressing for some to watch.

"Horns" will make you forget Daniel Radcliffe ever played Harry Potter. Gone is the sophisticated English accent he's become known for through the eight magical entries in the film series and his turn in "The Woman in Black." He's just as convincing as a tormented American crudely storming through life using any means necessary to find out who killed his girlfriend.


"Ouija" is somewhat of a paradox of a film. Imagine a movie made by the makers of a game warning you not to play the game. Now imagine the makers of a game warning you not to play it, but double-dog daring you to play it. I've pretty much just described Hasbro's supernatural horror dud "Ouija."

A girl is mysteriously killed after recording herself playing with an ancient Ouija board. A group of her friends investigate the spirit board. They soon find out some things aren't meant to be played with when they awaken the dark powers of the "other side."

"Ouija" is one of those movies where the kids involved do incredibly stupid stuff, make all the wrong decisions, and then die because of their bad choices. Unlike most teen slasher films, there's nothing fun or humorous here to be found. It's just one predictably bad action after the next resulting in death for whoever committed the transgression against the dead.

Set up like a visual instruction manual, "Ouija" teaches you how to play the board game you know you shouldn't. It's like they're taunting you to play with fire. Imagine someone telling you not to do something, but then giving you exact guidelines on how to do it. The actors say the words they're supposed to and follow the rules to communicate with the dead... which is never a good idea, by the way. It all plays out like an over-extended TV commercial to sell the game.

The ultimate message of "Ouija" is you shouldn't play with the occult. Unfortunately, the message gets a little jumbled up when the friends use it to do battle against the spirits. Okay... so don't use it unless you need to use it to fight the bad guys? Am I getting this right?

"Ouija is rated PG-13, of course. Why wouldn't it be since its target demographic is plainly teens looking for mild scares. It includes disturbing violent content, frightening horror images, and thematic material.

The only special features included for "Ouija" is a bland "Making of" featurette. It's around three minutes long and consists of the cast and crew yammering about being scared on the set. They also talk about playing with the board for a movie that tells you not to play with the board while being a commercial for it. I digress... much like the movie.

Any Christian is going to have problems with watching "Ouija." We're all warned from childhood not to play with the occult or communicate with the dead... and with good reason. It's pretty cut and dry in the Bible. When my wife found out I watched the movie in our home, she made me immediately take it out of the house and put it in the car. The film really does send a mixed message to younger viewers.

"Ouija" is obviously an attempt at both promoting a Hasbro board game and creating a teen version of "Insidious" or "The Conjuring." However, there's nothing to be found here that is even half as endearing or memorable as either of those two films. Even the little twist during the climax can't save the movie in the end.

If you want to buy "Ouija," you know where to find it. I'm not going to have providing a link to purchase it on my conscious.

Gnome Alone (Legend)

It was pretty evident from the moment I gazed upon the packaging for "Gnome Alone" what Lionsgate was trying to do. They wanted to launch a low-budget indie horror franchise in the vein of "Leprechaun." The only problem is the charm and black humor which awarded our little green friend's movies annual viewings at St. Patrick's Day is covered here in a layer of raunch that will detract many viewers from giving it the same respect.

Just when Zoe (Kerry Knuppe) thinks she's all alone in this world, an old woman (Willow Hale) passes on her bewitched Gnome (Verne Troyer), who is bound by magic to protect his master. Zoe quickly realizes that he isn't your garden variety gnome, when he begins eliminating her enemies in extravagant displays of revenge. Zoe must find a way to stop this mischievous gnome, before Zoe and her friends become victims of his trickery.

I know what the makers of "Gnome Alone" are shooting for. They are looking for a chance to connect to an audience seeking holiday horror movies to add to their list of yearly programming. People will pick it up mistakenly thinking it's a genre Christmas tale because of the title's resemblance to "Home Alone." After getting into it, they'll find ties to leprechauns, which will lead viewers to link it to St. Patrick's Day.

"Gnome Alone" has some entertainingly gory kills, but nothing that will stick in your mind the way the ones in the "Leprechaun" movies do. How can you top being pogo-sticked to death or having a weird little green creature climb out of your stomach? I can't even remember one of the death scenes from this movie right off-hand.

What I do remember is a lot of sexual situations that seemed like they were trying to one-up their 1980s horror / slasher counterparts. I don't particularly like nudity or adult situations even being in genre films. "Gnome Alone" definitely takes it to a whole other level of smut.

Verne Troyer plays the little monster in "Gnome Alone" giving the title character an air of creepiness and a pinch of sleaziness. Most folks will identify him as Mini-Me from the "Austin Powers" movies. The only other noticeable face for me was that of Bill Oberst, Jr. He's had roles in several grade B and Z horror films like "Krampus: The Christmas Devil," "Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies," and "A Haunting in Salem" to name a few.

"Gnome Alone" will no doubt find an audience who doesn't mind its descent into raunchiness. It goes too far in that direction for my tastes. I prefer holiday and creature feature slashing and bloodletting that doesn't make me feel like I need to take a shower afterwards.

Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse

It's hard to do anything new when you're making a disaster film these days. That means the effects better be good and the calamities happening onscreen should be of epic proportions. When putting together a B or C-type movie in the genre, it needs to be as ridiculous and humorous as can be (think "Sharknado"). SyFy Channel and Anchor Bay's newest offering, "Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse," doesn't meet either of these criteria.

When a primitive astrology carving is unearthed in Peru, it triggers explosive meteor storms around the world. But this is only the beginning: Tsunamis, lightning storms, lava geysers, and giant waterspouts erupt globally, each disaster corresponding to a specific sign of the zodiac. Will a mysterious government agency now kill to hide a shocking planetary secret, or can a group of rogue scientists race against time and carnage to activate an ancient civilization's Armageddon machine?

"Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse" takes itself way too serious to be looked at as a fun escapist disaster film. There's no giant piranha or wacky hipsters to add a level of fun to the events transpiring onscreen. All we get is a group of somber scientists running around while trying to keep from getting wiped out by CG walls of water and raining meteorites.

The special effects make it hard to fully immerse yourself in "Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse." They look even worse than the typical Asylum films... and that's bad. Sometimes, bad effects can work when they're meant to be funny. The filmmakers made "Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse" way too solemn for that to be the case.

The typical mix of genre actors that help lure fans in star in "Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse." Aaron Douglas from "Battlestar Galactica" plays a government agent. I did snicker when he used the word "frakkin'" as a tribute to his character on the epic sci-fi series. Christopher Lloyd plays an eccentric inventor (sound familiar?) who gets about five minutes of screen time before being killed off. Upon experiencing one of Lloyd's inventions in the movie, a character wittily exclaims, "Great Scott!" These precious moments made my viewing experience at least partially tolerable.

"Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse" is unrated because it premiered on the SyFy Channel. The movie is tame and relatively family-friendly. There's some violence, profanity, and frightening and intense sequences. It never gets too graphic or gory and I would recommend it for anyone 12 or over who know the difference between real life and make believe.

Some religious folks might be put off by the movie being based on the Zodiac signs. They're never referred to in the astrological sense. The actual shapes of the symbols and their order are used to pinpoint the different disasters coming next. A couple of the characters insinuate their agnostic or atheistic views as well. Most sci-fi enthusiasts will find "Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse" to be a waste of their precious time. It would be better spent re-watching "2012" or "Armageddon." As far as SyFy films are concerned, they've made better and wittier ones in the past. "End of the World" comes to mind immediately.

Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone

"Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" is a blend of a couple different influences on science fiction flicks of the 1980s. Imagine if a reluctant hero-for-hire in the vein of Han Solo traveled to a planet where the inhabitants live in a society that resembled the dystopian world of "The Road Warrior." It comes complete with scavengers, mutants, and a makeshift city whose citizens enjoy watching people fight for their lives in a deadly maze. It all sounds a little familiar, eh? It also sounds like a lot of fun!

In the year 2136, Wolff (Peter Strauss), a wily salvage pilot and intergalactic bounty hunter, answers a distress signal on Terra Eleven. Agreeing to pick up three women who've been shipwrecked, he lands on the planet only to discover they've been kidnapped. Following their trail, Wolff soon encounters Niki (Molly Ringwald), a spunky orphan who agrees to guide him across the Forbidden Zone, a vast wasteland populated by plague-infested mutants. After many battles, Wolff and Niki finally reach the lair of Overdog (Michael Ironside), the planet's half-man / half-machine ruler. Discovering the women are held captive in Overdog's slave pens, Wolff's rescue mission finally begins.

"Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" was originally released during the 3-D craze of the early 1980s. "Jaws 3-D," "Friday the 13th, Part 3-D, and "Amityville 3-D" are other movies which are more identifiable from this era. The film is presented in 2-D on DVD, but you can definitely tell where the 3-D would've played a part at times.

The cast of "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" was made up of some familiar 1980s faces. Peter Strauss is known for his many roles in television shows and movies. Ernie Hudson is best known for his character Winston Zeddemore in "Ghostbusters" and "Ghostbusters II." When the movie came out in 1983, Molly Ringwald's only major parts were in "Diff'rent Strokes" and "The Facts of Life." She comes off as an annoying tag-along here until the end of the film, where she makes an attempt at redeeming herself by facing down her fear and working hard to stay alive. Michael Ironside fully embraced his role as the cyborg tyrant Overdog.

"Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" is rated PG. It includes mild violence and gore, profanity, and frightening / intense scenes. One of the bat creatures in the film is shown topless, but it's not known whether the monster is male or female. There's definitely nothing sexy about the scene.

Newer viewers might find "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" a bit heavy on the cheese and slow in stride. The special effects are all practical as well. It's nice to see all the hard work the crew put into the visual look of the film. If you love the original "Star Wars," then you'll no doubt enjoy it. Watch it through the eyes of a 10 year old in 1983 and everything will be fine.


I remember seeing "Supernova" back in 2000 when it originally came out on DVD. Like most people, I thought it looked great at the time, but really didn't have much else going for it. My opinion hasn't really changed since re-visiting it. The special effects and design are still the highlight of a sci-fi film that suffers from simply maintaining the status genre quo and offering nothing new.

The medical ship Nightingale 229 travels through deep space in the early 22nd century taking on search and rescue missions it's assigned to. Its six-member crew includes a Captain and Pilot (Robert Forster), a co-pilot (James Spader), a medical officer (Angela Bassett, a medical technician (Luo Diamond Phillips), a search and rescue paramedic (Robin Tunney), and a computer technician (Wilson Cruz). When their vessel, the Nightingale 229, answers an emergency distress signal from a comet mining operation in a distant galaxy, the crew soon finds itself in danger from the mysterious young man they rescue, the alien artifact he's smuggled aboard, and the gravitational pull of a giant star about to supernova. The resulting explosion will be the most massive explosion in the universe.

What was originally planned as a low-budget study of human relationships amongst the stars quickly mutated into a rather lackluster action yarn about picking up a stray and his alien artifact. Of course we all know the object can't be good and the whole situation goes south very quickly in a matter of 90 minutes. It's evident by the way the movie progresses in a very choppy and rushed pace that there was more to the story than what we get here. There were 15 minutes of deleted scenes for the movie included, so I can only imagine there has to be even more footage lying in a box somewhere out there.

The cast would be considered an ensemble these days since most of the actors have gone on to do bigger and better things since "Supernova." James Spader, Lou Diamond Phillips, Robert Forster, and Angela Bassett were already established stars at the time of this movie's release. Peter Facinelli went on to play the patriarch of the Cullen vampire clan, Carlisle, in "The Twilight Saga." Robin Tunney worked on "Prison Break" and continues as a member of the cast of "The Mentalist." Here they just walk around angry with grim looks on their faces.

"Supernova" is rated R for sci-fi action violence and sensuality / nudity. There are at least two topless shots of Robin Tunney and a rather explicit love scene. Director Walter Hill (operating under the pseudonym Thomas Lee) was definitely fascinated with the human body. He stalls on one shot of Peter Facinelli's backend for what seems like an eternity. Angela Bassett gets her opportunity to bare all, albeit in the shadows, as well. There's an acceptable amount of gore as Facinelli's character continuously gets beat upon. However, even this aspect of the film seems uneven. Sometimes we get to see the carnage, while at others it's edited out nice and neat.

Although there really isn't much going on here in a spiritual sense, one line of dialogue that James Spader utters stood out to me. When the crew is coming to grips with the chain of events Peter Facinelli's character has unraveled, he makes a bold statement. Spader proclaims, "What if they didn't crucify Christ, but they did!" He uses such an extreme example to explain that it doesn't matter what could've been. What's more important is dealing with what is. Angela Bassett's character also dramatically makes a comparison between aliens and God when she says, "Whoever they are, they're as smart as God and a lot less nice." I don't think so.

"Supernova" isn't completely void of any entertainment value. It just lacks the endeavor to be anything more than a slick sci-fi action yarn. It will remind you of the awkward era of filmmaking when studios were transitioning from working with real models and sets and moving into the arena of CGI effects. If you've ran out of other alien encounter movies, this will tide you over until something new and bolder comes along.

Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh

Although its roots lie in the legend of Bloody Mary, the "Candyman" franchise built a mythos all its own in the span of three movies. Actor Tony Todd would argue that the entire series revolves around a tragic story of unrequited love and the vengeance rained down upon those who dare disturb the tortured soul of the title character. I would absolutely agree with him, especially after "Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh" expands on the backstory of our antagonist.

Candyman moves on to New Orleans and starts his horrific murders once more. This time, his intended victim is a school teacher. Her father was killed by Candyman, and brother wrongly accused of the murders.

Instead of the usual horror film retread we get when it comes to sequels, "Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh" actually expands on the history of the character by visually telling his tale onscreen. It pounds home the tragedy surrounding Candyman and brings more of a sense of humanity to the "villain" of the story.

Tony Todd brings Candyman to life and makes you both feel sorry for and fear his character. He brings an air of refinement to what could have been just another slasher icon. Veronica Cartwright plays a widowed southern belle who has a secret of her own to keep. Even in 1995, she was already a veteran of the horror genre because of roles in "Alien," "The Birds," "The Witches of Eastwick," "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," and more.

I'm fascinated by writer and atheist Clive Barker's attraction to Christian religion and Catholic imagery as showcased once again in "Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh." This time it's exemplified through the events of Mardis Gras in New Orleans and the religious meanings behind the celebration. I also found it interesting that one of the main focuses of the lynch mob was a middle-aged lady carrying her Bible and encouraging the torture of Candyman.

"Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh" is rated R for violence and gore, and for some sexuality and language. There's the expected amount of blood and onscreen butchering you would expect from a horror movie. A couple are shown having sex in public on two occasions. They're nude and shown from the side, but no actual privates are shown.

"Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh" rises above what could have been just another pedestrian follow-up to a slasher flick. Instead of simply lining up new faceless victims for the killer to take out with his hook hand for no reason, our dreadful anti-hero is given substance and motivation for his actions. An air of mystery and a dark family secret add another level of elegance to the movie.


"Tusk" is one of those films the saying "There are things you can't unsee" was created about. Kevin Smith's latest horror film is like the car wreck you can't keep from looking at. Unfortunately, the horrific images in front of you stay in your psyche well after the credits roll.

When podcaster Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) goes missing in the backwoods of Manitoba while interviewing a mysterious seafarer named Howard Howe (Michael Parks), his best friend Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) and girlfriend Allison (Genesis Rodriguez) team with an ex-cop to look for him.

"Tusk" is a great contemporary horror movie that engages the viewer through connections you make with Justin Long's character. Even though he's shameful, you can't help but feel sorry for him. "Tusk" also leaves you contemplating how awful it would be to live your life out as a monster no one can stand to look at.

The cast of "Tusk" all perform their parts well. They deliver their lines and portray their characters with all the sincerity you could muster for an irreverent Kevin Smith vehicle. Just like all his other movies, there's a lot of dialogue between the scenes of terror and zaniness to wade through.

"Tusk" is rated R for some disturbing violence / gore, language and sexual content. There are no sex scenes or nudity, but plenty of innuendos just like you would expect from a Kevin Smith film. Severed body parts are seen throughout. Take my word for it when I tell you what you see here truly can't be unseen.

I don't condone much of what Kevin Smith is known for and definitely don't share his same stances on many issues. However, he is an admirable filmmaker who takes real life experiences and characters you can identify with and relate to and puts them onscreen for you to enjoy and ponder.

I wouldn't go as far as saying "Tusk" is a perfect movie. There will be moments where you wonder why certain stretches of dialogue are being uttered or what the point of a scene was. You'll ask yourself the question, "Was Smith trying to stretch the story out to make it a full length film?" Overall, if you like unsettling creature features with a good amount of build-up, you'll enjoy "Tusk."

The Woman in Black 2 Angel of Death

There's no possible way "The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death" could've lived up to the original. Hammer Films did it's very best to follow it up, but didn't have much of a chance. The first movie was a pure piece of gothic horror that didn't need a sequel. Although not a complete bust, what we get here is an unnecessary add-on to a story that really needed no continuation.

40 years after the first haunting at Eel Marsh House, a group of children evacuated from WWII London arrive, awakening the house's darkest inhabitant.

I'm a huge Hammer fan and I'll never give up on seeing anything the studio offers me. "The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death" has everything it needs to be a great gothic supernatural piece but can't prove its worth in the end. There's an old dilapidated house located in the middle of nowhere. Psychologically damaged children and adults, played by capable actors, who are dealing with their own personal traumas are the helpless protagonists. We also find frightening visions that could or couldn't be really happening. Unfortunately, because of the original, we already know something supernatural is going on and there's no suspense.

"The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death" is rated PG-13 for some disturbing and frightening images, and for thematic elements. You're not going to find anything here near as disturbing as what was seen in the original. There was an entire 30 minute segment in the original where you couldn't even catch your breath.

The whole time I watched "The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death," I kept feeling like there really wasn't anything innovative for the filmmakers to say. We already knew the backstory of the hair-raising ghost of the story. She just wanted to claim more victims in the same way she did the first time around. The only thing the movie can rely on is its opportunity to offer a few legitimate jump scares thanks to quick flashes of creepy faces and jolting sound effects or sharp peaks in the musical score. It all ends up feeling like a quick money grab with a tacked on ending leaving room for another needless sequel if the box office justifies it.

Lord of Illusions

For someone who claims to be an atheist, Clive Barker sure does delve into the afterlife and spiritual realm a whole lot. From "Nightbreed" to "Hellraiser," the author / director seems to have an obsession with what's to come once we shuffle off this mortal coil.

Private Detective Harry D'Amour (Scott Bakula) is caught up investigating the deaths of several reformed cult members. As he digs deeper for one of the victims' widows (Famke Janssen), he is exposed to the dangerous worlds of illusions and magic. D'Amour soon learns that illusions are trickery, but magic is very real and very deadly.

The Director's Cut is unrated and with good reason. There's loads of violence and gore, nudity, language, sexuality, and adult situations. Not only are we exposed to female nudity, we get full frontal male nudity as well. Some of it is shrouded in shadows, but still visible.

"Lord of Illusions" reminds us all of what a great blend of noir and horror Clive Barker's film is. It does an excellent job of showing us what can happen if we become obsessed with attaining power and forbidden knowledge through the occult. Even though he might not fully believe in it, Barker teaches us that playing with magic and supernatural forces can only do harm. You might not want to own it, but it's worth a watch just for its interesting take on the subject matter.

Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings

Scream Factory follows up its release of the original horror classic with the sequel "Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings." While not quite as satisfying as its predecessor, you can't help but have a level of respect for screenwriters Ivan and Constantine Chachornia for trying to change things up a bit when it comes to the storyline of the film. We get the same premise, but with a little detective work and two intertwining motivations for the title creature to go on its killing spree to mix it up. The acting is a bit cheesy, but what can be expected from a movie made in the mid-1990s that obviously would feel more at home in the 1980s.

A group of teen troublemakers resurrect the spirit of vengeance known as Pumpkinhead (Mark McCracken). Trapped inside the monster is the tormented soul of a young boy named Tommy (J.P. Manoux). First, pieces of the bodies of the gang who murdered him begin to pile up. After that, the creature's focus changes to the high schoolers who mortally wounded his caretaker. Pumpkinhead will stop at nothing until those who have wronged him are served bloody justice.

"Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings" is presented in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1). Its video upgrade provides a clearer picture while not sacrificing its original film flavor. Made up of all practical special effects, the clarity doesn't showcase CGI limitations the way it does with newer movies. There's nothing quite as satisfying as looking at the TV and knowing what you're seeing is actually tangible and not an X that an actor is staring at on a green screen. However, the creature's point-of-view vision is rather dated and comes across as a bit hokey.

Given a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo upgrade, "Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings" isn't quite as fulfilling in the sound department as a 5.1 surround mix would be. It still gets the job done, blending together the musical score, sound effects, dialogue, and ear-piercing screams of the fiend's many victims. The shrills of the tormented and growl of Pumpkinhead will still leave you looking over your shoulders and nervously twitching.

"Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings" is rated R for horror violence, sexuality, nudity, and language. It's unfortunate that the filmmakers felt it necessary to sink into typical slasher territory with one avoidable topless sex scene and another dream sequence that feels forced by producers to be included. These two sequences are part of the reason this sequel doesn't measure up to the superior original when it comes to rising above average teen fare.

Scream Factory includes some entertaining special features. There are interviews with Director Jeff Burr, Special Effects Artists Greg Nicotero and Gino Crognale, and Actor Mark McCracken. We also get a featurette entitled "Re-creating the Monster."

"Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings'" debut on Blu-ray will please fans of the franchise and horror movie buffs. Special appearances by genre regulars like Linnea Quigley and Kane Hodder add to the fun. Although originally a straight-to-video offering when released in 1993, it still fares well in its HD format thanks to good video and audio transfers and a suitable dose of bonus material.

Wicked, Wicked

Sometimes ideas work better on paper than they do when put into action. The movie experience Duo-Vision was one of them. The ill-fated idea had an entire movie presented in split-screen. Each half showed a different angle or scene taking place during the movie with them merging together at certain pivotal moments. 1973's slasher film "Wicked, Wicked" is the first and only movie to utilize this unique viewing experience for an entire movie.

A masked killer (Randolph Robert) is stalking women at the upscale Grandview Hotel in California. Bodies begin to pile up as the manager does his best to hide the murders from guests. All the victims have one thing in common - they're all blond. Brunette lounge singer Lisa James (Tiffany Bolling) becomes a target when she dons a blond wig for her performances. Can her ex-husband and former police officer Rick Stewart (David Bailey) keep her safe?

"Wicked, Wicked" is one of those movies that would have worked beautifully as part of a Horror Remix. If you aren't familiar with Horror Remixes, let me enlighten you. Three films with the same themes (Christmas, Sharks, Sorority Houses) are put together as an anthology. Each one is edited down to its basic ingredients. For example, if all the superfluous narrative and dialogue is cut out from "Silent Night, Deadly Night Part II," the 90 minute movie would end up clocking in at around 30 minutes. Most of the time all that is left is the killing sequences, nudity, and basic plot points.

The good parts of "Wicked, Wicked" are fun, while the bad sections are exhausting to watch as characters yammer with each other back and forth. Things get entertaining when the masked killer shows up onscreen and takes out his victims. Actor Randy Roberts does a great job keeping the viewer bouncing back and forth between empathy and fright. Flashbacks help communicate the murderer's tragic past.

Most of the action in Wicked, Wicked is accompanied by the original Phantom of the Opera score. It's awkwardly played by an old lady sitting at an organ. Many times she's shown in one frame as the killings and drama unfold on the other half. It seems like the director was trying to fill space on one side because they didn't have enough footage to accompany certain scenes.

"Wicked, Wicked" is rated PG for adult situations, violence, profanity, alcohol and smoking, and frightening and intense sequences. If released now in theaters, it would be given a PG-13 rating. There are some bloody scenes with victims gawking wide-eyed out from the screen. Sexual situations are insinuated and include hints at incest.

Viewing "Wicked, Wicked" is an experience everyone should participate in at least once in their life. It's tiring at points and will no doubt test your attention span, but must be seen since the concept died with this film. By no means is it a good movie. However, the event is worth the headache you might get darting your eyes back and forth from left to right to take as much in as possible from each side of the screen.

The Expendables 3

After one of his team is gravely injured on a mission, Barney (Sylvester Stallone) retires his old crew. He seeks out new members for the Expendables who are younger and more tech-savvy to go after an old enemy. When his campaign of revenge goes south, will Barney's former gang be willing to step up and save the day?

So much was made of "The Expendables 3" being PG-13 that I think the movie wasn't given a fair shake from the beginning. The only thing different about "The Expendables 3" when it comes right down to it is the fact that there aren't ounces of blood splashing all over the screen. The chemistry between the characters and the storyline are no better or worse than the previous two entries. The mix of younger and more seasoned generations of team members was a genius way of showing the differences between the new technological ways of fighting a war in contrast with the old more physical approach.

The Doctor and the Devils

For all intents and purposes, "The Doctor and the Devils" is a Hammer horror film. It might be produced by comedian Mel Brooks and his Brooksfilms imprint, but all signs point to this being made by the British house of terror had it been conceived during the 1960s or 1970s. A strong English cast directed by Freddie Francis while surrounded by a period piece atmosphere completes the successful formula for such a film.

Thomas Rock (Timothy Dalton) is a young anatomy professor who feels his hands are tied to make new discoveries for the advancement of science. Rigid moral laws of the day limit him to the amount of cadavers he can research on. He receives the rotting bodies of a few hanged criminals every year to work with. Rock needs fresher specimens to work with, and two grave robbers (Jonathan Pryce and Stephen Rea) will do what it takes to provide fresher corpses for the professor - at a hefty cost.

"The Doctor and the Devils" is rated R for sex and nudity, violence and gore, profanity, alcohol and smoking, and frightening and intense scenes. The sex scenes take place in a brothel where the prostitutes work. There's brief upper nudity in one part that takes place in the house of ill repute. The blood and guts are about the same amount you would expect from a Hammer horror film of the 1970s.

Director Freddie Francis is no stranger to English horror films set in 1800's England. He helmed many a Hammer movie and uses the same ingredients to put together "The Doctor and the Devils." Screenwriters Dylan Thomas and Ronald Harwood takes the Burke and Hare tale and puts his own spin on it.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Although it's been done before several times now, I can only imagine how hard it must be to decide exactly where to split a book in half to make it two or more movies. Most novels have a beginning, middle, climax, and an end. What can a filmmaker do to leave audiences feeling satisfied when there's no big payoff or conclusion to what they're taking in? Here is where the problem lies for "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1."

Katniss has brought down the Hunger Games. President Snow and his forces look to stomp out a revolution that could end his reign. Katniss reluctantly accepts her place as the symbol of freedom for the band of rebels quickly rising in each District. She must also find a way to save Peeta from certain doom as he's been captured and is being held in the Capital.

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" feels exactly like what it is. It's half a book and movie that leaves you starved for more. Many will say that's exactly what it is and I understand that. However, I've seen several other franchises do the exact same thing and it felt way more satisfying. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" and "Twilight: Breaking Dawn" immediately come to mind.

Jennifer Lawrence is definitely one of the "It" actors of the moment. I must say I was surprised at her performance in many of the more emotionally charged scenes in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1." It was as if she was having difficulties connecting with the character of Katniss Everdeen when it came to her crying or showing anxiety over the events she's dealt with. It was as if she couldn't find that place within her that helps to muster the tears or empathy it takes to appear convincingly tormented.

As the series moves forward towards its epic finale, I'm impressed with how they expand on social issues we're dealing with in real life. The one that stood out to me in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" was Finnick's revelation that the President uses the attractive tributes as sex slaves to serve his political purposes. Sex trafficking and slavery is something that's happening today in our own backyards and not many people know how serious or prevalent it is.

With the continuing success of each film before it, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" ups the ante when it comes to special effects and visual splendor. The CGI and what appear to be location shots are fabulous and lend an air of authenticity to the movie. Whether filmmakers shot more in actual settings or just utilized improved computer animation, the outcome is a grander piece of art.

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, and thematic material. It's no more graphic than either of the previous films when it comes to battles. There are scenes of charred and burned bodies twisted in the ruins of District 12 which many might find uncomfortable. The only other warning I would give concerns Finnick exposing the President for using him as a sex slave.

If you go into "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" knowing it isn't as fulfilling or exciting as the first or second entries in the franchise you'll be alright. Entering the theater with the expectation that you're watching the first half of a movie which will provide no sort of closure or satisfaction is your best bet. Maybe it does exactly what Lionsgate and Director Frances Lawrence wants it to do. It leaves you frustrated and wanting the rest of the meal immediately.

Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear

"Monkey Shines" is a genre cult classic which earns its title through solid character foundations and excellent pacing.

After an accident leaves him paralyzed from the neck down, Allan Mann (Jason Beghe) is a bitter, angry, and vengeful man. His mother is overbearing. A once loyal girlfriend turns his back on him. The doctor he once trusted seems to have ulterior motives when it comes to his well-being and recovery. Everything changes when Allan is given a trained monkey suited to meet his every need. Even if that need possibly leads to tragic accidents which befall those the creature feels threatens its master.

"Monkey Shines" is rated R for sex and nudity, violence and gore, profanity, alcohol and smoking, and frightening and intense situations. The "F" bomb is dropped quite frequently throughout the movie. There's a rather detailed sex scene, although I don't recall any nudity. Watching a monkey maim and kill people could be pretty traumatic for younger (and even some older) viewers I would imagine.

I found "Monkey Shines" to be an entertaining film which establishes its different characters rather quickly without sacrificing substance for scares or gore. It's a good balance of all the necessary ingredients for a rich psychological thriller.


Chucky and Annabelle didn't have anything on Mr. and Mrs. Hartwicke's terrifying collection of "unique" toys. Charles Band and Stuart Gordon's 1987 classic "Dolls" reminds horror fans what came first. It's the perfect film if you're looking for a means to help encourage your children to stop playing with their Barbies or action figures.

A group of travelers caught in a fierce storm are forced to find refuge at the mansion of an elderly couple. The two live alone in the large house amongst their homemade dolls. As the night goes on, strange occurrences lead the guests to believe something besides the two old folks live in the dark old manor.

"Dolls" is rated R for violence, language, and adult situations. Surprisingly, there's no nudity to be found. There's talk about sex, but never anything blatantly shown. The film does contain graphic scenes of folks being carved up by the title oddities. I'd have to say this is pretty tame in comparison to what we're used to seeing now or even back then when it comes to nudity or sexual situations.

"Dolls" is the perfect blend of haunted house gothic thrills and fairy tale frights. Its classic storm-drenched setting and creepy cast of characters guarantee the film to go down in horror history as a 1980s classic.


Not many directors these days have the lofty ambitions Christopher Nolan possesses. He goes against the grain of Hollywood more so than any other modern filmmaker. Even his "Dark Knight" Trilogy wasn't as conventional as many would think a super hero movie would be. His latest endeavor, "Interstellar," pushes Nolan even further into the realm of exceptional and atypical storytelling.

In the near future, Earth is plagued by a blight that is quickly wiping out all the natural resources left on the planet. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a former NASA test-pilot and Engineer who took up farming when the world gave up on space exploration. After stumbling on to a secret base, he discovers that the supposedly dismantled space administration has been secretly looking for ways to re-establish humanity on another planet and save it from extinction. Cooper finds himself leading a crew of explorers on a perilous exploration beyond our galaxy for a world we can colonize and begin again on.

The best way to describe "Interstellar" is as Christopher Nolan's version of "2001: A Space Odyssey" for the ADHD generation. Unlike Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's 1968 classic, there's a whole lot more talking and human interaction. The action and drama moves at a quicker pace as well. The Nolan Brothers wrote the script and knew that a movie without dialogue that crawled along to its dramatic and existential climax wouldn't work for today's fast food multiplex audience.

I applaud Nolan for his use of models and other practical effects versus today's CGI shortcuts. It gives "Interstellar" an authentic look lacking in other science fiction and fantasy films today. The use of actual sets, locations, and props keeps the audience immersed in the movie and not constantly anticipating the next overly-synthetic orc or dragon walking into the scene and pulling you out of the cinematic experience.

One thing that makes me laugh about "Interstellar" is the way the characters refer to the intergalactic entity contacting humanity as "they." Not for one moment do the scientists and explorers take into account that it could be God. After all, the idea of God sending us messages and leading us anywhere is so much more ridiculous than aliens from another galaxy.

"Interstellar" is rated PG-13 for some intense perilous action and brief strong language. Profanity goes beyond the usual expletives and includes the "ultimate" bad word at one point. The movie gets stressful at points and could give younger (and even older) viewers bouts of anxiety. Some might also feel a sense of claustrophobia in certain instances.

Although "Interstellar" definitely contains some of the very same concepts and encourages humankind's exploration of space just like "2001: A Space Odyssey," that's where the comparisons end. Christopher and Jonathan Nolan's story is much more rooted in our sense of preservation than Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's complicated and inexplicable masterpiece. It's a lofty and complex commercial which urges us to look beyond our own world and regain the sense of wonder and curiosity we used to have when it came to the Universe that infinitely surrounds us.

Life After Beth

"Life After Beth" seeks to use the quickly tiring Zombie subgenre and give it a new spin. I wouldn't say its equal parts life lessons, horror, and comedy as it very much feels off-balance much of the time. What I will say it does well is make the viewer think about regret and taking the opportunity every day to let people in your life know what they mean to you.

Beth (Aubrey Plaza) is shuffled off this mortal coil by a deadly snakebite. Her boyfriend, Zach (Dane DeHaan), is devastated by her death and by all the things left unsaid and done in their relationship. He's miraculously given the opportunity to make up for all his regrets when Beth shows up at home after digging herself out of her own grave. While at first relieved to have her back, Zach soon discovers nothings perfect or will ever be the same. Beth now has a taste for human flesh and a furious habit of lashing out violently when things don't go her way. Relationship issues can be hard to deal with between a boy and his undead girlfriend.

"Life After Beth" is rated R for pervasive language, some horror violence, sexual content, nudity, and brief drug use. The nudity comes completely out of left field and really is unnecessary. The entire scene could've been cut out of the film and never missed as it contributes nothing to the storyline at all. There's some gore, but I consider it no more intense than the PG-13 rated "Warm Bodies." The sexual content boils down to a couple rather explicit love scenes and intense pawing of each other by the two leads.

Imagine "My Boyfriend's Back" and "Warm Bodies" if they took the darker aspects of the walking dead even further into bleak psychological territory. "Life After Beth" is an independent filmmaker's personal and sensitive look into the world George Romero fashioned with "Night of the Living Dead." Instead of using the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse as a way to comment on the terrible state of social upheaval we're in, this movie uses the concept to explore more intimate individual issues.


I'm no stranger to looking past how certain movies have aged over the years. I can still enjoy a film from decades gone by and overlook their special effects and production values from the time. However, there are certain aspects I have a hard time ignoring. A lack of cohesive editing and scrambled arrangement is the downfall of "Nightbreed."

There's always been a lot of talk about studio tampering when it comes to the theatrical version of "Nightbreed." Clive Barker's cut of the movie is a disjointed mess of scenes that jumps back and forth giving it a scattered and clumsy feel. It doesn't convey its creator's genius the way it should.

If you look past all its negatives, "Nightbreed" does a great job showing Clive Barker's talent at manufacturing characters that are both sympathetic at a human level and unique in design. The creatures found in the movie each have their own characteristics and look, much the way Barker did for the Cenobites of "Hellraiser." You empathize with each one even if they do appear frightening on the outside.

From a religious standpoint, most fundamentalist Christians are going to have serious issues with "Nightbreed." The title group worships Baphomet, which is an idol or deity most commonly associated today with the Church of Satan. Aside from that, it's referred to as a representation of the sum total of the universe - male and female, good and evil, etc. From what I understand, Barker is an atheist so it's safe to say he uses Baphomet as a symbol of the latter. Either way, its pagan in design which won't make Christians comfortable watching it.

"Nightbreed: The Director's Cut" is unrated but could easily hold an "R." There's some nudity and gore, but nothing that sends it into NC-17 territory. There's the usual amount of violence and gore found in horror films as well.

It's said that Clive Barker was attempting to create a world of horror the likes of what "Star Wars" did for science fiction. As far as characters and settings go, he accomplished his goal. However, the breakdown for "Nightbreed" was in its lack of cohesion when it comes to narrative arrangement. Its unconventional editing and thrown-together feel hijacked any chances of conventional moviegoers catching on to it. I do believe it's ripe for a sequel in a day and age where older concepts and movies are being re-booted and given another chance.


A failure at the box office when it originally came out, the cult classic "Krull" blends together the best elements of "Star Wars," "Excalibur," and "The Lord of the Rings." The end result is an occasionally slow-paced swashbuckling sword-and-sorcery tale guaranteed to thrill those waiting for it to get a high-definition release.

The mystical planet Krull is light-years beyond our universe. After it's invaded by a malevolent creature referred to as the Beast, Prince Colwyn (Ken Marshall) must rescue his damsel-in-distress (Lysette Anthony) from its deadly clutches. He journeys across the dangerous plains of his world to the sinister Black Fortress where she is being held captive. The fearless warrior recruits a motley band of wizards, thieves, and mythical beings to go up against the Beast's army of Slayers.

The movie is rated PG for violence, gore, and frightening and intense scenes. Things get gooey whenever a slayer or agent of the Beast is killed. Their blood-smeared heads split open and a slimy alien parasite squirms out. If it takes on a human form and is killed, the body deflates like a balloon as it collapses to the ground. There's no profanity or nudity found in "Krull."

If "Krull" is trying to tell any sort of moral story, it would be that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to. You just have to work hard to reach your goal. It also teaches that good will always triumph over evil in the end. Some will consider that idea to be old-fashioned and naïve, but I still believe.

"Krull" might take place in another galaxy, but it's still a very human and age-old medieval tale where the hero's journey leads to battling a vicious enemy and his minions. It just so happens that the Beast here resembles Sauron and his cronies are reminiscent of stormtroopers and Cylons. Set against the backdrop of breathtaking location shots and realistic soundstage sets, the movie is a testament to the art of filmmaking before the advent of CGI. A solid roster of actors, including Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane in one of their earliest roles, adds even more substance to a film that's a welcome addition to any science fiction or fantasy enthusiast's library.

The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill

I'm not a fan of "found footage" movies at all. First, they give me motion sickness to the point of projectile vomiting. Secondly, it seems like a gimmick filmmakers use as a way to make a cheap movie they can market to millions and profit off. Every once in a while, one comes along and makes me second-guess my attitude towards the horror sub-genre. However, it's always at home on a much smaller screen than the one found at your local multiplex.

When I received "The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill" in the mail, I immediately dismissed it as another "Paranormal Activities" wannabe. After being "harassed" by the movie's publicist (she's great at her job) for my review, I finally gave in while expecting nothing good to come of the experience. I was very wrong in my presumption.

"The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill" sets just the right mood to pull people into its hysteria. What could be more frightening than an old desecrated church in the middle of nowhere rumored to be used as a location for satanic worship? Add to that a disturbing history of death and tragedy and you have a perfect foundation for ghostly sightings and supernatural disturbances. Did I mention the church is surrounded by a graveyard?

The entire movie is made up of faux interviews with researchers and eyewitnesses mixed with video footage of the investigation. Old photos documenting the history of the church and its clergy add more of a realistic flavor to it. Every actor in the film is intent on proving to the audience what they are seeing is genuine.

"The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill" is unrated, but would earn an R if assessed by the MPAA. Frightening images, profanity, and nudity would garner the decision. Honesty, the full frontal nudity was unnecessary and could've been avoided. The scene pops up towards the end of the film and lasts about one minute.

Another subject I would like to address is the religious factors alluded to in "The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill." Some of the concepts explored in the movie point in the right direction if you're a Christian. One guy prays for protection and another man warns against the dangers of using Ouija boards to contact the dead. He also states the difference between ghosts and demons, which many people confuse when it comes to the supernatural.

The investigators in "The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill" still use a Ouija board and other similar tools to contact the dead. They just "hope" that any doorways they open while doing so will be closed afterwards. How often does that happen? It doesn't happen very often as you'll witness here.

Does "The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill" pull every cliché punch possible when it comes to the "found footage" technique of filmmaking? You bet it does... and it does it darn well. Every camera angle and every sound amplified leaves the viewer in a constant state of panicked anticipation, just waiting for something to jump out at you. It's the perfect example of the cinematography technique being utilized correctly.

I Know What You Did Last Summer

A group of partying teenagers accidently hit someone while driving home on July 4th. Scared of what might happen if they report the incident, they proceed to dump the body. Unfortunately, the unrecognizable person isn't dead and, in a panic, is thrown into the sea still alive. A year goes by and the friends start receiving notes from someone who obviously knows their dark secret.

I saw "I Know What You Did Last Summer" in the theater in 1997 and remember what an entertaining thrill ride it was. Everyone was amped up for teen slasher flicks at the time after the re-invention of the genre by Wes Craven's "Scream." Writer Kevin Williamson penned the script and gave the film the same exciting twists and turns that made it a rousing success.

The cast of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" helped pull in audiences from all directions. Jennifer Love Hewitt was familiar to many from her role in the successful television series "Party of Five." Sarah Michelle Gellar played the lead in the smart and scary "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Pretty boys Ryan Phillipe and Freddie Prinze Jr. were just starting to make a name for themselves in Hollywood. It was what every teen wanted at the time and even now; Beautiful people getting hacked up one by one by a masked killer.

"I Know What You Did Last Summer" is rated R for strong horror violence and language. It's rather tame by today's standards. The violence hearkens back to early "Friday the 13th" and "Halloween" movies. Although there are some adult situations, no nudity is found.

Leprechaun: Origins

I have a feeling most fans of the early movies are going to be surprised when they delve into "Leprechaun: Origins." Much like the "Evil Dead" reboot from a few years back, there's nothing to laugh about here. Gone is the dark humor and puns Warwick Davis rained on his victims starting with a young Jennifer Aniston in 1993.

The comparisons to "Evil Dead" don't stop there. It's evident that writer Harris Wilkinson used the remake of Sam Raimi's classic as an example to pattern "Leprechaun: Origins" after. Much of the movie takes place in a cabin in the woods. Even the camera shots from the Leprechaun's perspective mimic that of the demon in the aforementioned movie.

Just to ease everyone's fears, this isn't a straight remake of the original "Leprechaun." Although it does have certain elements from the first movie like the setting of a secluded cabin or house and a basement where much of the action takes place, it's really a completely different animal altogether. Filmmakers did a great job establishing the right mood for the film locations and set designs.

Two young couples backpacking through the Irish countryside make a stop at a secluded pub. While the townsfolk seem warm and welcoming, their politeness has an underlying sinister motive. They owe a Leprechaun sacrificial lambs for stealing his gold. The group of young hikers has unwittingly become his victims.

I was impressed by the direction the script takes for "Leprechaun: Origins." Producers and writers easily could've dumped another entry in the franchise full of comical killings in absurd locations like space or the hood. However, they actually took the time to come up with something sensible and "believable," if that's even possible when we're talking about little magical imps searching for their stolen gold.

The mythical creature found in "Leprechaun: Origins" couldn't be more different than the one we've become accustomed to. Gone is the quick-witted and strangely "cute" little man dressed in a green hat and overalls. We're given a growling Gollum-like beast that resembles a reptile more so than a chubby little dwarf.

Although WWE Superstar Dylan "Hornswoggle" Postl portrays the title character in "Leprechaun: Origins," not much should be made of the casting. It's not like he has any actual speaking parts that would make him recognizable. He's buried underneath layers of prosthetic makeup. Unlike Warwick Davis's character, he doesn't get a chance to inject any personality into the character. He comes across as a smaller version of the monster in "Pumpkinhead."

My only real complaint about "Leprechaun: Origins" is its cinematography. While I can respect the cameraman's attempts at concealing the actual appearance of the creature, there has to be other ways to do so besides shaking the camera and making abrupt cuts from one short scene to the next. It makes you feel like you're having an epileptic seizure. Many of the shooting techniques used in the movie are annoying and come across as juvenile. Some viewers might find it unwatchable at times.

"Leprechaun: Origins" is rated R for horror violence and language. The gore doesn't quite reach the level of what we see in "Evil Dead," but still surpasses that of a PG-13 genre film. There are no scenes of nudity or sex. The extent of adult content are kept to a few scenes of two girls in their underwear and bras while making out with their boyfriends. They all take place at the same time.

Those who have been interested in a serious take on the subject will enjoy "Leprechaun: Origins." If you're one of those who adored the humor and slapstick killings of the previous entries in the franchise, this isn't going to fulfill your cravings. There are virtually no comparisons to be made between the original cult classic and this version. If you're a well-rounded horror and gore enthusiast you'll find something to enjoy here.


An eccentric young couple (Dan Aykroyd and Cathy Moriarity) move in next door to a reserved man (John Belushi) and his wife's (Kathryn Walker) residence. It's evident from the start that these two misfits are out of place in the cul-de-sacs of the suburbs. As the night progresses, things get more and more zany and out of control.

Whether John G. Avildsen's cinematic adaptation of Thomas Berger's best-selling novel "Neighbors" is cinematic gold is still up for debate 33 years later. Some call it an uneven comedic misfire. Others would claim it to be a foreshadowing of the darkly and quirky genius that would become a popular and respectable sub-genre thanks to Tim Burton's rise to fame a few years later.

Although "Neighbors" has Belushi and Aykroyd successfully switching roles, it's still a perfect example of the charisma the two had when they paired up together. Belushi would usually play crazy to Aykroyd's straight man. However, the two decided to switch parts at the beginning of production for this film. It gives the movie a unique spin that sets it apart from all the other team -ups the two engaged in.

One thing "Neighbors" does well is suck you into its crazy world. You truly forget it's a movie and are taken on a wild ride that unfolds over the period of one Friday night. It gives you that fuzzy buzzy feeling you get when you stay awake all night long after the last day of the work week. The sensation adds to the quirky viewing experience.

Although it's rated R, "Neighbors" would achieve nothing above a PG-13 if released today. There's quite a bit of profanity and adult content. However, no nudity is found. It's tame by today's rating standards.

"Neighbors" is a welcome addition to any film enthusiast's library of 1980's comedy classics. It captures a unique moment in the careers of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

When it was announced that Bryan Singer was returning to the Director's Chair for "X-Men: Days of Future Past," fanboys and girls everywhere squealed in excitement. Finally, the series was going back into the hands of the man who helped start the whole film franchise. I, on the other hand, groaned and wondered why "First Class" helmsman Matthew Vaughn couldn't return to push the story further. It was my favorite entry in the series and took the bad taste out of my mouth created by the mess referred to as "The Last Stand."

In the distant future, robots known as Sentinels have all but wiped out both mutants and humans. Wolverine is sent by the X-Men to prevent an event which will send history down this path to destruction. First he has to find a way to unite Professor X and Magneto in a search for the harbinger of doom - Mystique.

My worries over Singer's return to steer the franchise were all realized after the first hour or so of "X-Men: Days of Future Past." The first portion of the film moves ahead and sets the viewer up for a powerful and epic thrill ride. Unfortunately, like most of the director's movies, it starts to meander and get tedious right after the halfway mark. The action and excitement gets bogged down in a lot of dramatic narrative which feels as if it was injected into the script to make the movie more analytical than it really needed to be.

One thing I was pleasantly surprised by was the way the massive amount of cast members and the parts they played in the story were handled. I was concerned when it was announced that the original and new actors who portrayed their respective characters were going to be jammed into one movie. How in the world were filmmakers going to keep the movie from becoming overcrowded and derailing?

Director Singer and Screenwriter Simon Kinberg handled the whole affair quite well. Instead of trying to cram as much of a pleasurable thing down our throats as they could, they worked towards the greater good of the whole. They didn't play favorites and shove certain popular actors into scenes just to give them more face time.

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" is rated PG-13for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity, and language. I've seen Hugh Jackman's butt enough now. Does it really have to be showcased in every one of these films?

Although I did enjoy "X-Men: Days of Future Past" to a certain degree, I felt myself getting lethargic as it moved along towards its inevitable climax. By no means is it a bad movie, but I think it could've been better under Matthew Vaughn's direction. I do give it props for fully embracing its science fiction roots.

Sleeping Beauty

The evil sorceress Maleficent places a curse on Princess Aurora after being slighted by the royal family. She will die by pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel before her 16th birthday. The king puts his daughter in the care of three fairies who take her into hiding to keep the tragedy from occurring. Maleficent becomes obsessed with finding the girl and fulfilling her evil spell.

I was pleasantly reminded of the dark elegance of Maleficent and the strong gothic overtones presented in "Sleeping Beauty." They reminded me of the atmosphere found in the underrated "The Black Cauldron" and "Hunchback of Notre Dame." Being a fan of horror movies, I was attracted to the last quarter of the film more so than the first three.

H2: Halloween II

Rob Zombie's 2007 remake / reboot / origin story of John Carpenter's classic tale took the first half of the film to give us exhaustive information on Michael Myers' past and his reasons for becoming the cold-blooded killer he turned into. The second part was a rather faithful re-tooling of the original 1978 classic.

His "Halloween II" does the exact same thing as the remake. It loosely takes the storyline from Rick Rosenthal's 1981 follow-up to Carpenter's masterpiece and runs with it for the first 30 or so minutes before heading in a completely different direction. In a nut shell, Michael Myers is viciously making his way back to Haddonfield to finish the business he started in the first chapter. This time he's being led by the specter of his dead mother riding a white horse while leading around a vision of his childhood self. It seems Judith Myers wants Michael to bring his sister Laurie "home."

Tyler Mane portrays Michael Myers as a coherent demonic force with an unquenchable fury. When he wants someone dead, he sees the job through grunting and viciously thrusting his weapon to the bitter end. Carpenter's Myers was more calm and passive in his approach. Although cut from the same cloth, these are two very different versions of the same character.

Where the original 1978 film and even its sequel were studies in gore minimalism, Rob Zombie's "Halloween II" revels in its onscreen gruesomeness. From the graphic opening scenes of Laurie Strode being put back together on the operating table to each and every kill performed by Michael Myers, it's an exercise in excess blood and guts. Just what audiences crave in their horror films now.

Taking in "Halloween II" for a second time has revealed it's not quite as cerebral as I originally thought on first viewing. Don't misunderstand me. There's way more thought put into the script here than a slasher film really demands, but at its core it's still just a modern update of a good old-fashioned stalking killer flick. I still think there are points in the film where it's insinuated someone else besides Michael is doing the butchering.

"Halloween: The Complete Collection" features the unrated Director's Cut of Rob Zombie's "Halloween II." It's 14 minutes longer than the version seen by audiences in the theater. The extended edition is made up of 94 altered scenes including 42 examples of alternative footage and 14 re-cuts. What's strange is there's no extra violence or sexual situations among any of the unused and amended material.

While still a worthy entry into the "Halloween" franchise, Rob Zombie's sequel isn't quite as fulfilling on a second watch. I remembered it being a whole lot smarter than it really is. It does deserve props for trying to take the slasher genre in a heavier psychological and abstract route. However, at the end of the day, it's still just another entertaining episode in the legend of Michael Myers.

Left Behind
Left Behind(2014)

Going into "Left Behind," I was expecting a low-budget attempt at the disaster genre much like producer Paul Lalonde promised in interviews he conducted prior to the movie's release. I have to say I was impressed with the new direction and take on Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins' bestselling novel. I wouldn't necessarily call it an improvement over the original version, but it looks and feels more like a genuine independent Hollywood production.

Millions of people suddenly vanish across the planet as the world is plunged into chaos and destruction. A small group of survivors are left behind to figure out what's happened to their friends and family. The happening leaves pilot Rayford Steele (Nicolas Cage) and investigative journalist "Buck" Williams (Chad Michael Murray) 37,000 feet in the air trapped inside a plummeting airliner with panicking passengers to contend with. On the ground, his daughter (Cassi Thomson) wanders the streets of New York looking for her mother (Lea Thompson) and brother (Major Dodson) amidst the chaos and devastation.

"Left Behind" is very much set up like a 1970s disaster film. "Airport" immediately came to mind as the different characters and their motivations were set up. It was in the vein of a mini-version of a huge ensemble cast the likes that we'd see in "The Poseidon Adventure" or "Earthquake." The situations play out a bit overly dramatic at times, but it doesn't completely derail.

Nicolas Cage plays pilot Rayford Steele, who must keep his passengers calm while trying to find a way to land the damaged plane. He doesn't play "Crazy" in "Left Behind" the way you would expect him to in a religious film about the Rapture. After a bit of a shaky start, his performance is very sincere, reserved, and genuinely emotional.

Last time around we had former child and teen actor Kirk Cameron step into the spotlight as investigative journalist "Buck Williams." This time we have Chad Michael Murray in the part and he seems a bit more adventurous and daring than Cameron did. Instead of wandering the world trying to figure out how millions of people have disappeared in the blink of an eye, his investigating is secluded to the damaged commercial airline Nicolas Cage is piloting.

Lea Thompson, on the other hand, has a small role as Cage's wife who recently turned her heart to God. She comes off as over-phoning it in and seems artificial in her scenes. It's really not what I was expecting from an actor I'm used to seeing give strong performances in hit television shows and movies like "Switched at Birth," "Red Dawn," and "Some Kind of Wonderful."

The special and visual effects in "Left Behind" were actually well done. granted, there weren't anywhere near as many scenes of destruction and chaos as I would've hoped for. All the disastrous occurrences were isolated to one plane, a single car, or a school bus crashing over the edge of a bridge. They also seemed to only happen to the main star of the movie as she wandered around the chaotic city. It all seemed a bit convenient from a story angle and affordable to pull off from a budget standpoint.

"Left Behind" is rated PG-13 for some thematic elements, violence/peril and brief drug content. A extra-marital affair is insinuated but never really shown. One of the passengers of the airplane is a drug addict and they show her getting ready to snort some cocaine. The only violence is some car and plane crashes and people rioting and looting in the streets.

There are only three opinions you can have walking out of the movie. One is to take it as scripture and believing the things you see onscreen. The second opinion is that it's a piece of fictional entertainment not to be taken seriously any more than other disaster films like "Airport," "The Towering Inferno," or "Meteor." The last choice is to totally write off the entire concept and chuckle at how ridiculous the whole thing seems.

Is the Rapture and Tribulation Biblical? Are millions of believers going to disappear one day and leave non-Christians to fend for themselves against the Antichrist and his minions? I tend to believe in the concept as a Christian who was raised in the Southern Baptist Church. However, I can't sit here and prove to you that's how the end will come. The only thing I can say is that I respect anything that makes human beings dig deep into their hearts and attempt to figure out who they believe in and what they're going to stand for in their lives. "Left Behind" accomplishes this feat and gets viewers to take a little personal time and reflect on those notions.


Arriving thanks to the great success of James Wan's "The Conjuring," "Annabelle" picks up where its predecessor began. I know that doesn't make much sense, but think of this supernatural thriller as a companion piece versus a sequel. While not as frightening or complex as the original, "Annabelle" is an effective scare fest filled with characters set up well enough to empathize with.

A couple's home is invaded by satanic cultists. Shortly after, they begin to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll. Upon further investigation, the couple discovers the cultists have summoned an entity so malicious that nothing they did will compare to the sinister conduit to the damned that is now... Annabelle.

Set in the 1970s, "Annabelle" plays out just like a lost film from that era. It takes time to set up each character and give the viewer a reason to invest in their lives. You get attached to them before unholy terror and tragedy reigns down upon each one.

Another reason it plays out like a genuine treasure from the decade of "The Exorcist" and "The Omen" is its focus on the satanic panic movement of the time. The drama unfolds as the Manson Family trial is playing out on the couple's television. It captures the paranoia of a time when cults and a serial murderer known as the Zodiac Killer was on everyone's minds. The American public was either fixated or unhealthily fascinated with the dangers of the occult.

"Annabelle" is rated R for intense sequences of disturbing violence and terror. Blood is definitely shed onscreen and I agree that some imagery is beyond what we've come to expect from PG-13 movies. However, there's no nudity to be seen.

For those walking into "Annabelle" expecting a "Chucky" movie, you'll be sorely disappointed. The doll is only one plot device used. The demon manifests itself using several different avenues which I don't want to spoil entirely here. The most prevalent one is that of the female cult member who "infects" the doll with her tainted blood.

One thing I really enjoyed about "Annabelle" was its confidence in waving the flag of Christianity in a mainstream movie. The writers had no problem giving mention of God and Jesus Christ throughout the film. I'm not saying that everything in the movie is theologically sound, but the spirit and intention is there. I also agree with most of the explanations as to how demons come to be attached to objects.

"Annabelle" is a worthy follow-up to "The Conjuring." It comes as no surprise that producers would focus on the deadly doll as a means of carrying on what could become a franchise all its own. The creepy plaything almost stole the show. Just like Disney is doing with "Star Wars," Warner Brothers could push out a spin-off film for each object in the Warrens' occult museum every other year directed by up and coming talent while James Wan handles the "The Conjuring" sequels.

8 Days
8 Days(2015)

There's an unspoken lie Americans have unwittingly given into. Without even knowing it, they've convinced themselves that sex trafficking is only a problem in other countries. How could something so horrific be happening under our very noses in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Our ignorance and denial of the problem is the very reason why.

Independent film "8 Days" looks to expose audiences to the truth about human trafficking in our own communities and the great U.S.A. Director Jaco Booyens does a phenomenal job setting up all the characters in the film very quickly so that there is an instant connection. It's amazing what he achieves on a micro-budget of a rumored $40,000.

Inspired by actual events, "8 Days" revolves around 16-year-old Amber Stevens (Nicole Smolen). She goes missing after sneaking to a party with her friends. Amber is forced into the sickening world of sex trafficking. The young girl's family and community fight to get her back.

Much of the camerawork in "8 Days" is handheld and with good reason. It makes the audience feel as if you're present in every situation that plays out onscreen. The experience seems all the more real as it unfolds before you.

Although "8 Days" is centered on one girl, it does a good job giving viewers a bird's eye view of the entire age range and sexual orientation that are the prime targets for traffickers. Statistics show that ages 12 to 15 are the main danger zone and boys are becoming more and more sought after. There's nothing as impacting as seeing children the ages of our own sons and daughters locked up in cages to be shipped off to do the unthinkable.

I didn't find "8 Days" to be as graphic as I thought it was going to be. Obviously there's frightening and intense scenes mixed with some violence. Sex and nudity isn't present, but the aftermath and consequences of rape and molestation are presented for all to see. The prostitutes mask their pain and suffering by using drugs and alcohol most of the movie. Profanity is used throughout as well.

"8 Days" is the sort of film everyone needs to see. The director made a profound statement at the Dallas premiere. He stated that most people won't discuss or expose their children to the reality of sex trafficking in their own backyards.

Many feel it's a taboo subject or their children are too young to know about the terrifying predators that are scouting out schools, shopping malls, and grocery stores in search of another victim. If they aren't exposed to it by their parents and friends, many could end up experiencing the very perversions we never revealed to them. We can talk about it now with them or they might suffer the consequences of their parents keeping them oblivious to the facts.


In the early 1990s, my Friday and Saturday nights were spent at home watching movie after movie of whatever I could find in my local video store. I would first scour the shelves for the newest horror, sci-fi, or action flicks and then move on to older or lesser known titles. Thus, my love affair with Full Moon Features and straight-to-video fare began.

I would literally scoop up anything with a Full Moon logo on it and spend hours in the dark of my living room devouring "Subspecies," "Puppet Master," "Demonic Toys," "Robot Jox," and anything else I could get my hands on. The "Trancers" movies were among those B-movie gems I would pick up.

Let's face it. Without Charles Band and Full Moon Features, there wouldn't be the Asylum, SyFy Channel, Anchor Bay, or any other independent genre companies giving us "Sharknado," "Mega Piranha," and "Metal Shifters."

Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) is an Angel City trooper sent back in time to the Los Angeles of 1985. He is assigned to inhabit the body of his ancestor in order to find his arch-enemy, Whistler (Michael Stefani), who turns people into zombies. Deth must stop him before is able to kill all the ancestors of the members of the future governing council.

"Trancers" is a perfect example of everything Full Moon and Charles Band was creating in the early and mid-1980s. It's obvious they saw blockbuster films and wanted to make their own low-budget versions of them for genre fans to enjoy. After all, once you saw "Blade Runner," "The Terminator," and "Total Recall," where could you get more of those types of entertainment to enjoy? Band and his army of filmmakers filled that niche perfectly.

You don't get any more 1980s than "Trancers." As the director and producer of the movie, Charles Band injected it with as much noir flavor as he could wring out of "Blade Runner" without being sued for plagiarism. You've got the long trench coats with the added flare of shoulder pads. Couple that with weird bolos, shirt collars, and ties and you have a futuristic beat cop ready to take down any zombie or android he comes up against in the past.

Let's not forget Helen Hunt's crazy puffed-up hair and her fixation with punk rock. Just like Kyle Reese in James Cameron's "The Terminator," Jack Deth somehow makes his way into a nightclub to enjoy some tunes from a bygone era as he pursues his murderous target. Like they say, "Imitation is the greatest form of flattery."

"Trancers" is unrated, but would be worthy of a PG-13 if put before the MPAA. There are some adult situations with no nudity. The language and violence is what you would expect from any genre movie these days.

All in all, enthusiasts of 1980s B-movies will love "Trancers" The film is filled with fun practical effects, film noir overtones, and plenty of action for everyone to enjoy. It's an essential item for any sci-fi devotee's home entertainment library.

The Rover
The Rover(2014)

I can't think of a movie I've been more disappointed by recently than "The Rover." There was so much good said about it and it really does look intriguing on the surface. Unfortunately, it's the perfect example of the phrase "Don't judge a book by its cover" working against itself.

Australia is a financially crippled wasteland ten years after a worldwide economic collapse. After his car is stolen by a trio of criminals, a wandering nomad named Eric (Guy Pearce) comes across the wounded brother (Robert Pattinson) of one of the thieves. He tends to his wounds before telling the disoriented man he must lead him to his brother's band of delinquents. Eric wants his car back and will stop at nothing to reclaim it from the thugs.

Let me tell you the good things about "The Rover" first. Robert Pattinson takes his role as a mentally challenged Australian redneck outlaw and runs with it. There isn't a single hint of Edward Cullen to be seen in the dirty unkempt façade of his character in this film.

Cinematographer Natasha Braier delivers stunning camerawork for "The Rover." She fully captures the depressing atmosphere of a world that has collapsed in on itself. Antony Partos accents Braier's work with an unsettling musical score that adds another layer of menace to the film.

All the good still can't save "The Rover" from being one of the most tedious viewing experiences I've experienced in a very long time. Shots go on way too long for one. One profile scene at the very beginning felt like it went on forever.

"The Rover" is rated R for language and bloody violence. There's no nudity or sexual situations to be found. Child prostitution is insinuated when Guy Pearce's character visits an opium den while looking for his car, which might (and should) disturb some viewers.

The entire film feels like a boring road trip that will never end. I'm not saying that nothing happens along the way. However, it's certainly not anything you'd want to send a postcard home about. Imagine "The Road Warrior" with all the cars chasing each other at ten miles per hour instead of at breakneck speeds. "The Rover" just ends up feeling lethargic and overlong.

The Pact II
The Pact II(2014)

It's hard to surprise people anymore when it comes to supernatural thrillers or mystery films. The best any writer or director can do these days is institute great pacing and hope that an engaging storyline will keep spectators invested as they deliver their version of something we've all probably witnessed before. "The Pact 2" successfully does this and delivers some truly great scares in an era where everyone knows exactly when and where to expect something to happen.

June Abbott (Camilla Luddington) spends the days cleaning up crime scenes and the nights using her experiences as fuel for a book she is illustrating. She begins having visions of the Judas Killer (Mark Steger) and his victims just as her police officer boyfriend (Scott Michael Foster) starts investigating a new case. It involves a psycho patterning his killings after the infamous murderer. Are her nightmares trying to warn her of something genuine she has to fear? When real life begins to spiral out of control, June contacts a former victim of the Judas Killer named Annie (Caity Lotz) to help her make sense of the events unraveling around her.

Many out there are reading this with a furrowed brow while thinking, "I've never even heard of the first 'The Pact.' How did it get a sequel?" The original 2012 flick terrified crowds on the festival circuit and gained critical praise before being picked up by IFC Films for home entertainment distribution. It did well enough that producers felt it warranted a sequel.

It's not often that a sequel to a movie is effective at following up its predecessor, but "The Pact 2" makes a valiant attempt at doing so. Instead of retreading the same ground the first one did, it continues the story and moves into unexplored territory. I'm highly impressed at how great this turned out without the hands of original Director / Writer Nicholas McCarthy so far in the background. The only credit he gets here is as an executive producer.

Good horror movies need to build up the tension to scare people now. The days of a black cat jumping out of a closet and making you pee yourself are long gone. Now it's about the anticipation of something happening that keeps people on their toes and the edges of their seats. "The Pact 2" had me recoiling in fear throughout its entirety thanks to the navigation of fairly new directors Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath.

A lot of the eerie and unsettling atmosphere instituted in "The Pact 2" comes from its sinister musical score supplied by composer Carl Sondrol. It perfectly complements every scene in the movie and conjures feelings of dread in the viewer. Just the music alone could make your hair stand on end, even without the help of any visuals.

Caity Lotz returns from "The Pact" to help link things to the first film. She acts as a sort of guide to the subject of the Judas Killer's torment this time around. You can tell Lotz doesn't think of "The Pact 2" as just another independent job to collect some quick cash. She pours herself into the character and genuinely delivers a strong performance.

"The Pact 2" is unrated but doesn't cross any lines that would keep it from gaining an R or even PG-13. There's some sensuality with no nudity. Frightening sequences overpower any gore seen onscreen. The language is nothing we haven't heard in any other PG-13 or R rated movies.

Although you have your suspicions of how "The Pact 2" is going to turn out in the end, the journey getting there is rewarding and entertaining. Much like "Insidious Chapter 2," it doesn't settle with just repeating what its predecessor did. It builds on the mythos already established and takes you further into the nightmare Director / Writer Nicholas McCarthy originally conceived.

The Guest
The Guest(2014)

It didn't take much nudging to get me interested in seeing "The Guest." After watching Director Adam Wingard and Writer Simon Barrett's horror masterpiece "You're Next," all it really took was an engaging trailer with their names attached to it. Let's just say that the duo have another sleeper hit on their hands.

A military veteran returns from his tour of duty overseas. David seems to be the genuine article. A soft-spoken and well-mannered young man, he arrives on the doorstep of a fallen comrade's home to tell his family his dying words and wishes.

With nowhere else to go, the family invites David to be their guest for a few days as he makes plans for the future. It gradually becomes all too apparent that their new visitor might not be who he claims to be as his behavior becomes more and more erratic. What sort of skeletons does David have in his closet and where did he really come from?

While the story isn't all that complex, "The Guest" works on so many genre levels that it can't help but rope in and keep the attention of a diverse audience by offering something somewhat unique. As you walk into the theater, you think you're getting a straight-ahead thriller. Halfway through the film, you discover Director Wingard and Writer Simon Barrett aren't satisfied with just offering you the status quo. They're driven to throw caution to the wind and deliver something unexpected to viewers.

Actor Dan Stevens has a bright future ahead of him. He takes audiences through a rollercoaster ride of emotions as you get to know his character and re-discover him all in the span of 99 minutes. There's points where you love the guy and then want to see him get his own come-uppance in some violent and horrible manner. Stevens does all this with steely charm and commanding eyes that have a sort of mesmerizing effect on whoever he's interacting with.

"The Guest" is rated R for strong violence, language, some drug use and a scene of sexuality. The violence in the film is really no more than what you see in a typical action movie. There's some female upper nudity in one particular spot, which in my opinion could've easily been avoided and opened the movie up to a broader audience. Women get an eyeful as well when David comes out shirtless and wet after taking a steamy shower. He also likes to mellow out at parties with a few drags off a joint.

Director Adam Wingard and Writer Simon Barrett definitely have a formula that works for them and it shows once more with "The Guest." They take everything you know about the action, horror, and thriller genres and blend them together into a tasty and compelling concoction. However, they find a way to turn all of it upside down just as soon as you ease into what you're experiencing.

Ginger Snaps
Ginger Snaps(2001)

On the surface, "Ginger Snaps" is a wonderful addition to the werewolf sub-genre that is rarely toyed with. Dig deeper and you find commentary on the difficulties girls face as they journey into womanhood. It should be required viewing for every male so they can form a sense of empathy for their female friends and family.

Brigitte (Emily Perkins) and Ginger Fitzgerald (Katharine Isabelle) are sisters and the best of friends. They're also the town outcasts and parade their obsession with death in front of their classmates, teachers, and family. As they walk home one evening, Ginger is attacked by a ravenous beast.

Her wounds heal at an astounding rate and she soon realizes that her body is undergoing two very extraordinary changes. One is fairly normal for all teenage girls: the arrival of her menstrual cycle. The second change is an ever-accelerating transformation into a werewolf. Can Brigitte save Ginger from her insatiable bloodlust before she fully turns into a voracious creature of the night?

The version of "Ginger Snaps" I'm reviewing is Unrated. There's a lot of graphic violence and gore in this fine example of a Lycanthropy-centered film. I would consider it to be "R" rated because of strong language, adult situations, and scenes of female werewolf nudity. Ginger's hairy upper torso makes a cameo appearance during the movie's exciting and emotional conclusion.

Rarely does a horror movie come along that infuses such immense chills and thrills while so beautifully capturing the pain and awkwardness we all feel journeying from childhood to adulthood. In my humble (yeah, right) opinion, this is the wolf-woman equivalent of the touching-yet-disturbing vampire tale "Let the Right One In" if fused together with the wit of "Heathers."

Batman: Assault on Arkham

The world of the "Batman: Arkham" video game is brought to vivid animated life with DC and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment's "Batman: Assault on Arkham." The Dark Knight takes a backseat to the bad guys in what is the comic book equivalent of a heist or search and rescue flick much like "Red," "Ocean's 11," "Escape from New York," and others. The movie takes place after the events in "Batman: Arkham Origins." It's an exciting and humorous romp that will thrill fans of the game franchise and "mature" enthusiasts of super heroes.

Amanda Waller puts together a team of super villains to infiltrate Arkham Asylum and complete an unfinished job. She wants the Riddler assassinated for secret knowledge he possesses. Black Spider, Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Frost, KGBeast, and King Shark are all forced to comply to her wishes thanks to an explosive planted in their necks which Waller can detonate if they won't fulfill her demands.

One thing DC animated movie buffs will be happy about is the return of Kevin Conroy in the role of Batman. The rest of the voice cast is fine, but they're overshadowed every time the Dark Knight appears onscreen. Troy Baker does his best Mark Hamill impersonation as the Joker. I really thought it was Hamill until the credits rolled at the end.

A word of caution to parents out there with children who love super heroes. "Batman: Assault on Arkham" isn't kid-friendly in any form or fashion. It's rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content, and language. We're not talking your typical comic book violence, either. Several heads are blown off for example. Harley Quinn shows quite a bit of skin and there's a scene of Deadshot and her tumbling around in bed together. The language is on par with what you would get in any action movie released today starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Liam Neeson, or Sylvester Stallone. However, the "F" word is never dropped.

"Batman: Assault on Arkham" will thrill fans of the video game franchise it's based on. People unfamiliar with the "Arkham Asylum," "Arkham City," and "Arkham Origins" universe need not worry. I don't play the games and had no problem jumping right in.

The Remaining

There was a time when the idea of a Christian-themed horror film would be laughed at by genre fans everywhere. Many still do giggle as they read a synopsis or watch trailers for faith-based movies and assume the worst when it comes to anything Bible oriented. Directors like Scott Derrickson are doing their best to change that pre-conceived notion by successfully giving audiences scares that do more than just award you a momentary jolt. They leave you with something to think about after the credits role.

Directorial newcomer Casey La Scala aims to do the same with his passion-project "The Remaining." Many will recognize his name as the producer of notable films like "Donnie Darko," "A Walk to Remember," and others. He is also involved in the latest chapter of the infamous "Amityville Horror" franchise entitled "Amityville: The Awakening."

Equal parts disaster film and end-of-the-world supernatural thriller, "The Remaining" focuses on a group of friends making their way through the aftermath of the Biblical Rapture. For those who somehow haven't been exposed to the "Left Behind" movies either by seeing or hearing about them, the Rapture is a worldwide event talked about in the Book of Revelation where Christians are suddenly taken up to Heaven when Jesus Christ returns and seven years of horrific Tribulation begin.

Basically, God turns his back on the World and gives it over to the Antichrist and his minions to do with as they will. There are plagues, natural disasters, and other catastrophic events which unfold as the clock to Armageddon counts down. Many people will realize what's going on around them who were taught the Truth but never truly believed what they were heard. They will form factions who will help lead others to make a decision to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ or turn their backs on him.

In "The Remaining," the events of Revelation are accelerated to keep the action moving forward at a break-neck speed. By no means am I a scholar or student of the final book of the Bible, but just remembering as I was instructed, the things that take place in a couple of days in the movie transpire over a period of years in scripture. As a piece of Christian fiction designed to make an impact on viewers within an hour and a half, I think "The Remaining" accomplishes its task quite well.

It's safe to say this isn't your parents' (or grandparents') Rapture movie of the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s. People don't just disappear off the face of the Earth leaving their clothes and accessories lying in piles where they were once standing. Their souls depart from the body, which is left slumped over steering wheels, dinner tables, or collapsed in the middle of sidewalks and streets. They look as if they've suddenly just died. The eyes of the taken are glazed over with an eerie white film.

Backed up by Sony Pictures, "The Remaining" actually had a budget to work with. The visual effects all look great and keep the audience from being distracted by inferior CGI. The images of jumbo jets crashing into buildings and monstrous chunks of hail hitting the ground as people scramble for safety are believable and frighteningly effective.

Aside from a couple of genre favorites, the cast of "The Remaining" is made up of faces actors won't immediately recognize. This helps to keep audiences detached from familiar faces that would take them out of the viewing experience. The two actors many sci-fi and horror fans might identify are those of Alexa Vega and John Pyper-Ferguson. Vega played Carmen in the "Spy Kids" films and also appeared in "Machete Kills," "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," and "Repo! The Genetic Opera." Pyper-Ferguson is seen in cult classic shows like "Alphas," "Caprica," and "Battlestar Galactica."

Although at times it felt like the plot and message of "The Remaining" began to slow things down a little too much, I give props to Writer / Director Casey La Scala for trying to inject as much character and story development into the movie as he could. Some might feel that it's a bit too "preachy" for their tastes. I think the engaging journey from one place to another, frightening sequences of impending peril, and the tense race against time more than outweigh any lags in action due to narrative or pushing of doctrine.

"The Remaining" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of terror, violence and destruction throughout, and thematic elements. There are definitely some scenes which rival those in films like "The Conjuring" or "The Last Exorcism." The demons reminded me of the Dementors in the "Harry Potter" movies. Aside from some minor bloodshed, the violence is comparable to what we see in "Transformers," "G.I. Joe," "Star Trek," and countless other teen-oriented horror films.

While it's not perfect, "The Remaining" brings Christian horror one step closer to being as good as any mainstream genre film coming out in theaters these days. It successfully marries elements of creature features and supernatural thrillers to create a unique take on what is a common subject in faith-based entertainment. Those who don't frequent scary fare need to be warned. This is a much darker take on the Rapture than what we've seen in the "Left Behind" or "Revelation Road" movies.

The Sacrament

"The Sacrament" is certainly Ti West's crowning achievement as a director and writer. He successfully builds up its suspense by slowly revealing things are not as perfect as they seem in the little community known as Eden's Parish. Knowing what the outcome of the story is going to be in this case makes the journey towards its conclusion even more nerve-wracking.

I'm not a huge admirer of the "found footage" movement made popular as of late by "Paranormal Activity" and its clones. The concept works for "The Sacrament" because it's done in a professional documentary style that gives it a network news feel versus the sensation of some guy running around with a camcorder videotaping stuff. That's not to say scenes don't get jumpy or shaky at some points. However, they're sequences that make sense in the grand scheme of things.

Another aspect of "The Sacrament" that makes it feel so genuine is its casting. It's hard to immerse yourself in a movie and fully detach when you see well-known actors like Brad Pitt or Amy Adams battling zombies or vampires onscreen. The trick that works for West's independent thriller is having a bunch of virtually unknown faces onscreen that make it impossible to associate them with other projects they've starred in. The viewer can actually disconnect from a preconceived entertainment mindset and trick themselves into believing what they're seeing is authentic.

Gene Jones portrays the enigmatic and sinister Father. If the actor ever gets another job after "The Sacrament" it will be a miracle. He's too perfect in the frightening role of the charismatic leader of "Eden's Parish." Even when he's being interviewed for the "Making of" featurette for the DVD, I couldn't stop thinking about the atrocities he instigated in the movie.

"The Sacrament" is rated R for disturbing violent content including bloody images, language and brief drug use. Although there's talk of sexual activities, there's nothing depicted onscreen. What we do get is extremely unnerving scenes of people convulsing and dropping dead while foaming at the mouth. These include children which, as a father, bother me more than anything else. My stomach was in sickly knots through the entire climax of the film.

I didn't find "The Sacrament" to be hostile towards religion or organized church. What I took from it was we all must be cautious and listen intently to what our leaders might be saying between the lines. If what you hear doesn't sound right, it probably isn't. Always investigate something before jumping into it.

If you're looking for a movie to help steer people clear of getting involved in religious cults or communities, "The Sacrament" will no doubt get the job done. For all intents and purposes, it's a condensed version of 1980's "Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones" for a new generation. Director / Writer Ti West hits all the high and low points of that three hour plus film in an hour and a half. The abbreviated running time adds a level of franticness and panic to an already discomforting visual experience that leaves the audience unsettled and efficiently agitated at what they've just witnessed.

Toy Story of Terror!

fans with kiddos too small to enjoy scarier fare during the holiday. I actually enjoyed this 22-minute short more than I did any of the actual movies.

Woody, Buzz, Jessie, and the rest of the gang go on vacation with Bonnie and her mother. The curious toys decide to explore a mysterious roadside hotel when their car's tire blows out. They find themselves captured by the owner of the inn and put up on the internet to be sold to the highest bidder. When Woody is bought, the rest must come to his rescue before he's shipped out via mail. They face perilous adventures and a dangerous "creature" along the way.

Although "Toy Story of Terror" is rated G, there might be some scary moments for younger children and possibly older ones as well. My 13-year-old daughter jumped at one scene and almost flung her ice cream all over the place. Between a lizard trying to eat Woody and other tense moments, it really might be too much for toddlers to take.

"Toy Story of Terror" is a perfect way to get ready for the Halloween season. It might be a month out, but it can never be too early to start the celebration. Although the actual feature presentation is only 22-minutes long, the addition of three additional cartoons and the special features make this a must-have for anyone's Disney home entertainment library.

Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy

Everyone's favorite canine mystery solver returns for his 22nd direct-to-video adventure with "Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy." You'd think he and the Mystery Incorporated Gang would be ready to retire after such a long and satisfying career. However, they continue to make their way around the world in their trusty Mystery Machine seeking out one crime caper after the next.

Velma discovers she's inherited a cursed castle from her great-great uncle Doctor Von Dinkenstein. After much coaxing, the team talks her into claiming her birthright in Transylvania... Pennsylvania. They arrive and discover the dark secret Velma has kept hidden from them all these years.

I was surprised at the new tone Director Paul McEvoy and Writer Jim Krieg took "Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy" in. Most of the direct-to-video entries in the franchise have the same feeling and look to them. Here we have very different "camera" angles (or whatever you call cinematography when it's referred to in animation) being explored. Whether or not you like them, it's still refreshing that the producers and filmmakers are trying to change things up a little.


?Oculus? is one of those rare supernatural horror films that take a little time to set in. If you don?t give it some reflection (believe it or not, pun unintentional) after your initial viewing, you might walk away disappointed or shrugging it off. It?s the type of film that demands you watch it multiple times to take it all in and fully enjoy all its chills and excitements.

As a child, Tim (Brenton Thwaites) was convicted of the murders of his parents (Rory Cochrane and Katee Sackhoff). Upon his release from a mental institution, his sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan) takes them to their childhood home to put an end to what she believes destroyed their childhoods and family. Kaylie is bent on finding a way to destroy the Lasser Glass, which is an antique mirror with a horrific history of death and violence.

Although we do get some jump scares, ?Oculus? doesn?t just rely on those types of cheap thrills. There are plenty of slow-burning moments that will have you tensing up and retracting in nervous anticipation. As a longtime lover of horror films, I found myself embarrassed at how frightened I was of certain scenes.

All the actors in ?Oculus? give their best with convincing performances. Katee Sackhoff goes against typecast playing a damaged and sensitive wife and mother versus the rough-and-tumble roles she became famous for. Karen Gillan sheds her English accent to confront the demons of her past and put an end to the curse that has followed her throughout her life.

?Oculus? is rated R for terror, violence, some disturbing images, and brief language. Overall, there?s a good mix of visual gore for those looking for that sort of thing. At the same time, what you don?t see is just as frightening. I did enjoy the fact that the filmmakers didn?t feel it necessary to bombard audiences with needless nudity or sex scenes. It?s just good old fashioned horror fun.

With ?Paranormal Activity? producer Jason Blum involved, you can only imagine he somehow fits in at least one ?found footage?-type gimmick into the movie. It wouldn?t be a Blumhouse Production if he didn?t. One of the characters uses their cell phone to see spirits they can?t with their naked eye.

Although it isn?t the only mirror-related film ever created, ?Oculus? does feel unique in its own way. It fits nicely into a sub-genre that includes ?Mirrors,? ?Amityville: A New Generation,? ?Poltergeist III,? ?Urban Legends: Bloody Mary,? and the likes. However, it more than holds its own and rises above with a somewhat original take on the subject.


It's amazing how what appears on the surface to be another creature feature dressed up as a teen slasher film can have so much to say and deliver a morality fable for a modern age. Much like the fairy tales of centuries past, 1988's "Pumpkinhead" not only aimed to please horror junkies but teach them something along the way. At the heart of all the gore and scares are a few different messages like, "Be careful what you ask for," "Be sure your sins will find you out," and "The price of revenge is your soul."

Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) is a simple farmer who runs a general store in a remote community. He keeps to himself and raises his son alone after the death of his wife. Ed's life is turned upside down when a wild group of teenagers come through town on their way to a summer cabin. His son is struck down and killed by one of them riding a dirt bike. After they flee the scene, the boy dies.

Ed takes the body to a local witch who is rumored to be able to bring people back to life. She says she can't bring him back but will help the mourning father take revenge on the people who caused the senseless tragedy. She conjures the demon of vengeance, which goes by the name Pumpkinhead, to serve bloody justice on the teenagers responsible. But with every victim the creature claims, there comes a price.

The movie is rated R for violence and gore, profanity, alcohol use, and frightening / intense sequences. I know many people have issues with children coming to harm in movies, but "Pumpkinhead" doesn't feel exploitative when it comes to this. There's also no nudity, which is surprising for a movie made in 1988 which includes a group of male and female friends on a weekend party retreat.

"Pumpkinhead" is a truly endearing and touching film it is. I had only seen it once as a teenager and barely remembered all the gory details. With great pacing and something to say for itself, it really does succeed at being a contemporary fairy tale for today.

The Quiet Ones

If there's one thing that can be said about "The Quiet Ones," it's that the movie is definitely an extension of Hammer's classic films of the 1960s. Not content to just throw out some monster scares, they delve into the Satanic cult themes of classics like "The Devil Rides Out," "To the Devil a Daughter," and "The Satanic Rites of Dracula." Although not perfect by any means and a bit confusing in plot if you're not paying close enough attention, the famous production company delivers a creepy new entry to add to their rich cinematic history.

Much like Hammer's early works, "The Quiet Ones" is a gothic period piece. However, instead of it taking place in the eerie 1800s or early 1900s, it takes place in the 1970s in a secluded and mysterious mansion. A University professor (Jared Harris) leads a group of students in an experiment to help an emotionally disturbed young woman. Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke) believes she is followed by a sinister spirit who manifests itself through violent outbursts. Is something supernatural occurring or is Jane somehow willing herself to harm others and wreak havoc wherever she goes?

"The Quiet Ones" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, sexual content, thematic material, language, and smoking throughout. There are also a couple scenes of brief nudity of the male and female persuasion. The brief nudity was so quick it could have been completely cut out in editing.

It might not be the greatest example of a modern Hammer horror film, but "The Quiet Ones" does successfully carry the torch passed on by so many great genre classics of the past many grew up watching. It has all the ingredients you'd expect from the English House of Horror, though they might not follow the recipe as closely as you'd hope. Chillingly convincing performances from Olivia Cooke and Jared Harris more than make up for any narrative muddiness viewers might find themselves wading through.

Without Warning (It Came Without Warning) (Alien Encounters)

When people think of alien movies from the 1980s, a few come to mind right away. I can only imagine one of those is "Predator." Tons of sequels and Arnold Schwarzenegger forever cemented the hunting space creatures in the brains of sci-fi fans worldwide. Unfortunately, "Without Warning" is probably not found on many of those lists. The movie featured a traveler from another world bent on collecting human trophies and preceded John McTiernan's blockbuster by seven years.

Slasher and sci-fi enthusiasts will find something to love within the film. Imagine "Friday the 13th" or "Halloween" with an alien doing the stalking instead of Jason or Michael. Instead of butcher knives and machetes, the killer's weapons of choice are parasitic throwing stars reminiscent of the jellyfish from the classic "Star Trek" episode "Operation: Annihilate!" and the Starro invaders from the Justice League comic books.

An alien hunter is lurking in the woods outside a small town. Two teenagers (Christopher S. Nelson and Tarah Nutter) on a weekend getaway find themselves running for their lives after stumbling on the shack where it collects its trophies. Can a gas station owner (Jack Palance) and a paranoid military vet (Martin Landau) put an end to the creature's slaughter?

"Without Warning" is rated R for violence and gore, adult situations, profanity, and frightening / intense scenes. By today's standards, this would merit a PG-13 rating at the most. Surprisingly for a 1980s horror flick with camping teens, there's no nudity to be found. The after-death scenes of the alien's victims really aren't that graphic.

With its special blend of sci-fi, slasher, and horror elements, "Without Warning" is a must-see for anyone who enjoys those genres. While it maintains a low-budget independent film vibe throughout, it rises above other B-rated fare through charismatic performances by legendary actors Martin Landau and Jack Palance. "F-Troop's" Larry Storch and "CSI's" David Caruso also star as victims of the alien's blood sport. An extra incentive for seeing it is to experience the fun practical effects and early creature design work by Rick Baker.

Motel Hell
Motel Hell(1980)

Once again stumbling through the archives of undiscovered horror gems courtesy of Scream Factory, I've come across 1980's "Motel Hell" Collector's Edition. It's quite obvious from the film's tagline what inspired this darkly humorous tale of one man's quest to serve up the best meat he can to his customers. Tobe Hooper decided to collect some indirect royalties in 1986 by taking the idea of a chainsaw duel for "Texas Chainsaw Massacre II."

Farmer Vincent is famous throughout the county for his special blend of smoked meat. People come from miles around just to buy it in bulk. They wouldn't be so thrilled if they only knew what the mysterious ingredients were that he used. With the help of his devoted sister, Vincent would do anything to keep the family recipe a secret.

"Motel Hell" is rated R for all the same reasons every horror film from the 1980s holds the certification. There's plenty of gore splashing around onscreen. Explicit language and nudity are part of the list of ingredients, too. A full-frontal nude scene was completely unnecessary and added nothing to the storyline.

What makes "Motel Hell" such a highly recommended movie for me is its entire tone. It's directed as a straight horror film with crazy people doing crazy things, but believing what they're doing to be right and justified. This aspect makes the movie all the more disturbing and keeps your attention by being completely bonkers.

Lake Placid
Lake Placid(1999)

If I had to pick one movie that I believe jettisoned the current craze for schlocky creature features to where it's at now, it would be 1999's "Lake Placid." Full of ridiculous characters, gory killings, and a cameo from Betty White in which she swears not like one but several sailors, it paved the way for today's fun B-movies in the vein of "Sharknado" and pretty much any film in the Asylum catalog.

A group of investigators are called to a remote lake in Maine after the mysterious death of a police officer occurs in the usually calm waters. Upon arriving, the team discovers that a crocodile has somehow made its way into the lake and is feeding on anything big enough to satisfy its appetite... whether it be animal or human. Where did the beast come from and how can they stop it before it kills again?

"Lake Placid" boasts an ensemble cast of actors who looking back now would consider this slumming it by how they're viewed today. Bill Pullman portrays one of the crocodile hunters and puts forth every effort to take the material seriously. Bridget Fonda is a paleontologist who delivers an emotional performance completely unnecessary for such a lighthearted adventure romp. Brendan Gleeson plays the local sheriff and you'd never know he would grow into such a respected British thespian of cinema. Oliver Platt fully embraces his role as an eccentric rich boy obsessed with the oversized scaly lizards.

"Lake Placid" is rated R for violent creature attacks and related gore, and for language. There's no nudity but plenty of conversations about sex and innuendos. If you have a weak stomach when it comes to onscreen carnage, you might find yourself hurrying to close your eyes at points.

Clocking in at an hour and twenty-two minutes, "Lake Placid" is a great example of the term "less is more." It doesn't overstay its welcome and accomplishes what it wants to within its run time. I think its legacy of made-for-TV sequels speaks for its appeal to monster movie enthusiasts who enjoy a little humor and cheese with their severed limbs and decapitated heads.


I saw Joel Schumacher's "Flatliners" during Summer vacation while visiting my father. I was dropped off at the theater and remember the movie being tense and frightening. I was curious how well it would stand up on a watch twenty five years later.

Five students at a prestigious medical school want an answer to one simple question: "Is there life after death?" After hearing several first-hand accounts from other people, they decide to experiment on themselves. Each one crosses over from life into the beyond and return. Now the question they want answered is, "What have we brought back with us and what do they want?"

"Flatliners" is rated R for violence, language, adult situations, and nudity. It gets a bit brutal in some places, but nowhere near like most movies today. Without the unnecessary nudity, this very well could have been PG-13.

Boasting a great line-up of actors who went on to do great things, "Flatliners" captures them in all their fresh-faced glory. It's a melodramatic thrill ride that draws you back for multiple viewings. Although some of the horrors the group members bring back from their near-death experiences seem silly, the concept as a whole is endearing. The gothic settings, dark ambiance, and elegant lighting add more reasons for you to re-visit the film or see it for the first time.

The Legend of Billie Jean

The mid to late 1980s and early 1990 were the golden age of television for me. Every Summer I would go to my dad's for three to four weeks to visit. I loved hanging out with him as much as I could. However, after he went to bed around 9:00PM every night, the TV came on and the world of cable was waiting for me to ferociously engulf anything I possibly could in the late hours of the night.

This period of my life molded my healthy appetite for movies about renegade robots, slashing killers, deadly monsters, troubled teens, and any number of classic actors taking pratfalls for my own pleasure. "The Legend of Billie Jean" just happened to hit HBO and Cinemax around the particular time I was most ready for it.

When "The Legend of Billie Jean" was playing every few hours during the Summer of 1986, I had just embraced skateboarding culture and discovered the world of punk rock music. Helen Slater's transformation from homegrown Texan good girl to rebel outlaw really hit home for me subconsciously. Being 13, I highly doubt I put together the fact that I mirrored what I saw on the television. I was in the middle of finding my own identity at that time.

There's two ways people should judge the movie. One is as an example of pop and teen culture in 1985. I would say it should get at least an "A" for this aspect. The second way to look at the movie is to gauge whether its message still stands up today. The recurring themes throughout the movie were "Always stand up for yourself no matter what" and "Don't let people walk all over you, no matter how old you are." I believe those principles are just as important today as they were some thirty years ago.

"The Legend of Billie Jean" is an accurate depiction of PG-13 films made for teens in the early and mid-eighties. There are a lot of kids using bad language. Helen Slater wears some skimpy clothes to attract the "target" audience. We also get some adult situations and violence to top it all off.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Although I'm not a big Marvel Comics fan, I have no problem admitting that they've found a successful formula for their cinematic universe and stuck by it justifiably. After testing the waters with the "Thor" movies and "Avengers," they've fully committed to the genre and jumped into science fiction territory with "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) was abducted by intergalactic mercenaries moments after his mother died of cancer. He grew into manhood searching the universe for valuable items to sell to different collectors of all species. After finding a mysterious orb, it seems like everyone in the known galaxy is hunting him down to take possession of it... including the evil Thanos (Josh Brolin). Quill puts together a team of misfits to keep the object out of the villain's deadly clutches.

Director / Writer James Gunn has captured the magic of "Star Wars" and mashed it together with the Marvel Universe to give audiences an exciting experience they won't soon forget. "Guardians of the Galaxy" is shameless sci-fi gusto with a healthy shot of humor along the way. I can't imagine how anyone wouldn't enjoy it.

The CGI work for "Guardians of the Galaxy" takes the viewer to so many unusual worlds and leaves you believing you're really there. There were a few spots that took me out of the experience, but I was sucked back in almost immediately. Everyone interacted with the CGI characters and blended well with them onscreen. Chris Pratt looked like he was having a little trouble talking to an "X" in early scenes in the film, but he comes around quick enough.

The 3D for "Guardians of the Galaxy" is even well-done. There aren't random items constantly jumping out at you off the screen. It simply and successfully used to give the picture depth, which is very rare. Most movies really don't make good use of it or completely go overboard.

Each actor in "Guardians of the Galaxy" fully embraces the character they are portraying. You can tell they love what they're doing onscreen and are happy to be a part of the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. Bradley Cooper's voice is unrecognizable as Rocket Raccoon, but definitely shows a range many wouldn't imagine the actor tackling. Chris Pratt is as sarcastically charming as he always is as Peter Quill / Star-Lord.

Guardians of the Galaxy is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language. I found it interesting that through most of the film, the good guys use shock guns that knock out their enemies like a more powerful Taser. Of course people die, but it seems like the movie is steered in a certain way to make it appropriate for all ages. There are some sexual innuendos, but nothing graphic. The scene in the trailer where Zoe Saldana is taking off her shirt with her green back to the camera isn't even in the film that I remember.

There are so many Easter eggs within "Guardians of the Galaxy" for die-hard Marvel Comics fans to look out for. I don't want to spoil anything, but keep your eyes open for a few different treats. Chances are if you blink at any given moment, you'll miss one of them.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" is pure unadulterated sci-fi fun! Marvel has delivered their version of "Star Wars" for a new generation. It's going to make people want more from its characters and seek out the adventures found in the comic books. I would consider it to be one of the best entries yet on the ever-growing list of Marvel movies.

Rigor Mortis
Rigor Mortis(2014)

I make it no secret to anyone that I love the movies of Takashi Shimizu. One of the most exciting moments of my career as a movie blogger was getting the opportunity to interview the talented Writer / Director / Producer. While many grew weary of "The Grudge" after so many spin-offs and sequels, I actually enjoyed and found most of them terrifyingly entertaining.

His other works like "Reincarnation," "The Shock Labyrinth," and "Tormented" are all fine examples of what Shimizu can do outside the box of his most famous creation. I've been waiting years for his film "4700" to be released either straight-to-DVD or in theaters. It looks like we'll have to settle for projects produced by him for a while. One of those was recently released by Well Go USA Entertainment.

"Rigor Mortis" is a supernatural tale featuring vampires, zombies, ghost hunters, and other creatures that haunt your nightmares. They all seem to have a fixation on the apartment building a washed-up suicidal actor moved into. As you can imagine, all sorts of very strange and disturbing occurrences unfold. Mix in some martial arts and you have a perfect homage to the classic Chinese vampire films of the past.

Although "Rigor Mortis" is unrated, I would give it an R. There's a lot of gore and disturbing horror imagery. Bad language and some nudity can be found as well.

I can definitely see why Takashi Shimizu took a liking to "Rigor Mortis." After seeing the filmmaker's more bizarre stylings in "The Shock Labyrinth" and "Tormented," I perceive why he was drawn to the strange characters and peculiar phantasmagorias Director Juno Mak came up with for this unique genre entry. If you grow weary of the typical American monster movies we constantly get, "Rigor Mortis" is a step in a curious direction.

The Purge: Anarchy

Much like the "Saw" films, it looks like Producer Jason Blum plans on making it an annual summer tradition to visually take part in "The Purge." I'm sure many critics and audiences were surprised when the modestly budgeted $3 million horror flick made almost $90 million in its theatrical run. I found the first movie to be a thrilling study in one of the most frightening concepts a devious mind could come up with for a countrywide "holiday." "The Purge: Anarchy" takes the concept to a whole other level.

Where the first film kept audiences in the confines of one home, "The Purge: Anarchy" puts us out in the streets of the big city where a group of characters must rely on each other to stay alive through the night. It's a journey through madness as the group of survivors makes their way through the deadly streets, alleys, and subways of the metropolis. It becomes all too apparent that nowhere is safe on this terrifying and vengeful night.

While it's the natural progression from the first movie to the sequel, I can't help but feel it lost a certain personal charm the confines of one home and its family provided. That being said, the characters are brought together quite sensibly and in a manner that is believable even if it does seem convenient at times. They're well-established and give you some personality to latch onto and become emotionally involved with.

"The Purge: Anarchy" reminded me of "Judgment Night" in the beginning. Everybody is running around the streets trying to survive one attack after the next. However, it switches gears and starts getting a bit political as it strays into territory explored previously in Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and an independent film recently released entitled "Butcher Boys." It was written and produced by "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" co-creator Kim Henkel and explores the different classes humanity is broken into and how they treat each other.

When first taking it all in, "The Purge: Anarchy" seems to have trouble figuring out where it stands or what it's trying to say morally. What I came up with was that guns don't kill people. People kill people. That sounds like a rally cry for the NRA and Republicans everywhere. On the flipside, I felt another politically correct message was being given. It doesn't matter why or who you kill. It's still killing and still wrong. Both ideas have their merits.'

"The Purge: Anarchy" is rated R for strong disturbing violence and for language. Honestly, the movie is nowhere near as graphic as it could've been. People get shot, stabbed, beaten, and ran over. It's really no worse than anything we've seen in any of "The Expendables" movies.

I couldn't help but snicker at a few scenes in "The Purge: Anarchy." Producer Jason Blum is seriously obsessed with the "found footage" concept. Every movie the guy has worked on finds a way to fit shaky-cam shots somewhere. Here we get a cam mounted on a motorcycle filming the driver as he races around the city. There's also surveillance, night vision, security, and traffic light footage people use to track their victims as they scramble around on the streets.

"The Purge: Anarchy" doesn't quite live up to its predecessor. At the same time, it is entertaining and keeps the audience's attention through it's fast-paced energy and edge-of-your-seat thrills. It gives people who wanted to see more of what went on in the cities exactly what they craved. I'm just wondering how they're going to follow this one up next year.

The Monkey's Paw

Although I can't remember a Chiller movie I couldn't stand, their entertainment value and production qualities do vary. I always try to go into a film without any sort of pre-conceived notions, but let's be honest. That's nearly impossible to do once you've read any type of publicity material on a movie. I was carefully optimistic as I placed the Scream Factory's Blu-ray release of "The Monkey's Paw" in my player and sat down to review it.

As many of you may know, "The Monkey's Paw" is an updated version of W.W. Jacobs' supernatural short story from 1902. Three wishes are granted to the owner of the title object. Unfortunately, the wishes come with a terrible price.

Director Brett Simmons and Writer Macon Blair did a great job of establishing a group of engaging personalities through quick character development. It's a simple and entertaining tale that keeps your attention as it plays out. The solid camerawork for this independent genre piece also came as a surprise.

"The Monkey's Paw" boasts an ensemble cast of stars to help draw in their individual fans. Some of them fully committed to the movie, while others appear to have been paid as much as the budget would allow to get them for a day's work for name recognition. Charles S. Dutton plays a detective who pops up a few times before making his dramatic exit. He might be in the movie for a sum total of ten minutes at the most.

Corbin Bleu continues to shake his Disney stigma by taking on a more mature role for "The Monkey's Paw." He plays a blue-collar factory worker named Catfish. It's much different than his roles in "High School Musical" and "Free Style." He also looks like he's bulked up a bit over the years. This isn't Bleu's first genre film, as he was also in "Nurse 3D" and "Scary or Die."

"The Monkey's Paw" was given a 1080p high-definition transfer and is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The video quality is clear, clean, and easy on the eyes. 5.1 surround sound puts the viewer right in the thick of the action. There are no recognizable issues with either the video or audio transfer of the movie.

Scream Factory included a minimum amount of bonus material for "The Monkey's Paw." Audio commentary is provided by Director Brett Simmons, Cinematographer Scott Winig, and Actor C.J. Thomason. The featurette "Making 'The Monkey's Paw'" includes interviews with the cast and filmmakers. A trailer for the movie is found as well.

"The Monkey's Paw" is unrated, although I would consider it PG-13. You won't find anything out of the ordinary for supernatural horror films. There's some violence, gore, adult situations, and language. The one thing we don't get surprisingly is any nudity.

If you like supernatural thrillers, "The Monkey's Paw" will provide some entertainment for horror hounds looking for an old-fashioned tale in a new package. Some might find vague comparisons to "Pet Semetary" are in order. I found it to be satisfying and was pleased by its overall quality and level of suspense.

Final Terror
Final Terror(1985)

A group of young campers travel into the wilderness to perform community service. After getting settled in at their remote site, the group is left by their bus driver to get to work. After a hard day of labor, many of the workers explore the woods. One by one, the bodies start piling up. Someone is slaughtering the group and, with no way out, it looks like they're left to fend for themselves from an unseen evil.

"The Final Terror" is exactly what it sounds like. It's an old-fashioned slasher thriller where there's a nutcase in the woods taking out sexually active pot-smoking teens. What makes it work is the fact that it's very survivalist-based. The campers are thrown into primal situations where they either do what they have to do to stay alive or die. Another reason it works is because of the time period it was made in and its setting. The group is isolated out in the middle of nowhere and not only do they not have cell phones, but the technology wasn't readily available yet.

The death scenes in "The Final Terror" are rather convincing. The movie has a certain "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" charm to it. It feels like it could really happen and puts you in the middle of all the mayhem. The most intense moments occur when the bodies are found. You'd think the director didn't tell the actors where the corpses were on the set and they just ran into them by chance. Their reactions are very believable and it's where we get to see the most carnage.

The movie features two actors in the early stages of their careers. Adrian Zmed plays a studly rebel who wants in on the pot crop two of his associates are looking for. The role foreshadows his future career playing the same type of cocky, party animal characters he did in "Bachelor Party," "Grease 2," and other movies of the era. Daryl Hannah plays a teen who just wants to make the most of her time off from community service by hanging out and smoking some weed. Joe Pantoliano ("The Matrix," "The Fugitive") plays the creepy mechanic / bus driver that leaves the group stranded in the wilderness.

"The Final Terror" is rated R for graphic violence, gore, language, sexual situations, and nudity. The bloodshed is highlighted many times when the bodies are found, although there are scenes of violence present onscreen. The sex scene is what you would expect from a slasher film released in the early 1980s.

Although it's rather predictable and plays out the way you figure it will, "The Final Terror" still holds the viewer's attention and deserves respect simply because of its storytelling process. You know what's going to happen, but the journey to get there in this case is worth the trip. Great location shooting, solid camerawork, and convincing practical effects are the icing on the cake.

Deliver Us from Evil

I've always enjoyed Director / Writer Scott Derrickson's work over the years. Not just because he's a Christian like myself, but because his choices in projects are so hard to pinpoint. He started in the horror genre by penning the slasher sequel "Urban Legends: Final Cut" before tackling the fifth installment in the "Hellraiser" franchise entitled "Inferno." He then co-wrote the drama "Land of Plenty" before launching into the worlds of horror and science fiction with "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" and the ambitious "The Day the Earth Stood Still" remake.

However, "Sinister" is the movie that completely sold me on Derrickson's talent as a filmmaker. Any time I'm asked to suggest a horror film to someone, the first one that comes to mind is this wonderfully creepy genre piece. Every time the movie is brought up in genre circles, I make it a point to let people know it's one of my favorite supernatural thrillers of 2013.

After witnessing a string of unexplainable occurrences while working his beat as a police officer, Ralph Sarchee comes into contact with a Catholic Priest named Mendoza. Mendoza is convinced that the crimes Sarchee is investigating are tied to demonic possession. The two work together to solve what is beginning to look like a dark wave of supernatural atrocities.

From the first trailer I saw for "Deliver Us from Evil," I was excited to see the movie opening weekend and show my support for Derrickson. I missed the advanced screening and had no problem shelling out money to see it at its first showing Friday morning of its release. I left the theater with mixed feelings as the credits rolled.

It's not that I didn't like "Deliver Us from Evil." I can't complain about the story, which is based on the true life experiences of NY police officer Ralph Sarchie as he accompanied Father Mendoza on a series of exorcisms. I think Derrickson was aiming for a slow-burner. He was and attempting to achieve the sort of 1970's build-up the classics like "The Exorcist" and "Rosemary's Baby" are known for. I can appreciate that, but at the same time felt like the pacing was a little off.

One thing I appreciated about "Deliver Us from Evil" was the way he handled the exorcisms and demon possessions. As a believer in the supernatural and spiritual world, they were what I would expect to witness in real life. There was no projectile vomiting or head-spinning like what we see in Hollywood versions of the same subject. Some might even find them too tame.

After watching an interview with the real Ralph Sarchee, I was very curious as to how Eric Bana would do with his New York accent and mannerisms. I couldn't believe how well he nailed it. Bana was completely believable in the role. Everybody did a great job embracing their characters and taking the material seriously. I would like to give Olivia Munn special praise. I know many people like to throw rocks at her because of the whole "Attack of the Show" ordeal, but she really shows a lot of potential in "Deliver Us from Evil."

"Deliver Us from Evil" is rated R for bloody violence, grisly images, terror throughout, and language. Although the movie definitely has gore, it wasn't enough to make me wince at any particular moment. The characters all speak the way you would expect hardened police officers and other Bronx roughnecks to talk.

"Deliver Us from Evil" strives to show demonic possession as a believable phenomenon by keeping the sequences as far from sensationalism as Director Derrickson can get. If you're expecting the over-the-top antics of Regan in "The Exorcist" or Anthony Hopkins in "The Rite," you'll need to mentally prepare yourself for a less flashy visual approach. What we get here is a movie that wants to convince you of the reality of a dark spiritual realm versus parlor tricks and other typical shocks we always find in these types of movies. I find myself wanting to re-visit the film in the future to see how it plays out on a second watch.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

When you walk into a Michael Bay film, you know what you're getting yourself into. An exercise in excess in every way you can possibly think of. He is intent on giving audiences more explosions, more energy, more action, more EVERYTHING than he gave you in the last movie he made.

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" is a perfect example of Bay's obsession with this philosophy. The battle of Chicago has left all alien robots the target of the U.S. military. A CIA agent named Harold Atinger (Kelsey Grammer) leads a task force in hunting down every last Autobot and Decepticon and exterminating them. He is secretly aided in the search and destroy mission by the Decepticon Lockdown. An inventor (Mark Wahlberg) and his family become a target of the group when it's discovered he restored Optimus Prime to working condition. Prime must track down the other Autobots and find a way to stop the destruction of the remaining Transformers. That's the first plot.

The second plot involves a business tycoon (Stanley Tucci) who wants to make his own Transformers out of an element his scientists discovered. He creates these new shape-shifting robots through the use of "Transformium" mined from the head of Megatron. Why do all of his creations seem to have an evil streak to them? As if Optimus Prime doesn't have enough to deal with already, he must lead his companions to China and stop the Decepticons from obliterating the country.

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" is 2 hours and 45 minutes long. Let me stress that again in a different way: it's 165 minutes long. That's only 18 minutes shorter than Bay's patriotic epic "Pearl Harbor." Imagine non-stop action, robot-on-robot carnage, and mass destruction filling almost every second of that 165 minutes and you have an idea of what to expect walking into the theater.

Writer Ehren Kruger fills the 2 hours and 45 minutes with two different intertwined storylines. Although they tie together, "Transformers: Age of Extinction" easily could've (and should've) been two separate movies. An hour and a half into the movie, you can literally feel the movie's plotline shift from one concept to another.

Although they're likable, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, and Nicola Peltz don't have the same charisma Shia LeBeouf, his family, and John Turturro had in the original "Transformers" trilogy. There was a playful humor to their characters that is missing from the new bunch. That's not to say you don't feel a genuine connection with Wahlberg's character, especially if you're the father of a teenager.

One thing I do have a problem with when it comes to the "Transformers" movies is their inclusion of so much bad language. Is it really necessary to the action and storyline? Millions of kids are going to see these films and I don't see why it's so important to have the heroes of the movie blurting out cuss words the entire time.

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" is another perfect example of Michael Bay's drive to squeeze as much bang for the buck into a movie as he possibly can. When you walk away from his dinner table, you're not just satisfied. You're stuffed to the gills with every appetizer, main dish, and desert he can get down your throat.

You can't say you don't know what you're getting yourself into. The posters for "Transformers: Age of Extinction" are easy to read. They clearly say "Directed by Michael Bay." I can't think of anyone who could bring the Robots in Disguise to life better than him. It's more of the same, but who turns down extra helpings of something they love.

Independence Daysaster

It's early afternoon on the Fourth of July. You've already grilled out and ate lunch with the family. While you were going in and out of the house, you watched the one movie that is an absolute must for the holiday. Everyone knows "Independence Day" is required viewing on this great patriotic day of celebration. What do you do after the credits roll on Roland Emmerich's blockbuster gem? Anchor Bay and SyFy Channel answer that nagging question with their release of "Independence Daysaster."

An alien invasion strikes the Earth from above and below on the birthday of the United States. The President is on his way to his hometown festivities when his helicopter is knocked out of the sky by one of the intergalactic enemy's ships. After meeting up with his son and a group of survivors, he must lead them to safety and discover a way to stop the imminent destruction of the entire planet.

"Independence Daysaster" is a combination of every alien invasion film you've ever seen. They come from the sky and under the Earth just like in "War of the Worlds." We discover their goal is to wipe out humanity and terraforming the planet like in "The Arrival." I think the description above makes it obvious how it compares to "Independence Day." If you're wondering if there's anything original about the film at all, I give you a resounding "no."

The good thing about "Independence Daysaster" is that it's clean fun for the whole family. There's no over-the-top gore or bloodshed. People get smashed and sucked up, but there are never any graphic mutilations or decapitations seen onscreen. It's just old-fashioned PG-rated disaster movie mayhem and relatively inoffensive as far as language is concerned.

The cast of "Independence Daysaster" is made up of familiar TV stars and supporting actors. Tom Everett Scott is present from "That Thing You Do" and "An American Werewolf in Paris." Andrea Brooks of "Supernatural" plays a teenager in love with physics. "Pretty Little Liars" villain Ryan Merriman gets to embrace the good as a heroic fireman.

Notice I didn't use the descriptive word "good" before "clean fun" or "old-fashioned?" That's because I wouldn't consider this flick to be necessarily good either as an actual feature film or a "so-bad-it's-good" B-movie. It takes itself way too seriously to be lampooned and isn't engaging enough to hold your attention past the casual look up every minute or so while flipping through Facebook on your cell phone. However, "Independence Daysaster" can provide some light entertainment if you're looking for something to help pass the time between lunch and dinner or before heading out to watch fireworks.

The Human Race

Indie movie "The Human Race" has an impossible task ahead of it. How will audiences take it seriously when it so completely reminds them of bigger and better films? "The Hunger Games" already referred to as a young adult version of the superior gore fest "Battle Royale." Arnold Schwarzenegger even found himself sprinting for his life in "The Running Man."

A group of people from different walks of life find themselves in a race to the death. After witnessing a blinding flash, they awaken in a strange obstacle course. Among the runners are two handicapped military veterans, a pregnant woman, a mother and daughter, and two school children. Voices in their heads tell them if they break any of the rules given to them, they will die. There can be only one winner, but what is the prize for reaching the finish line? And to what lengths will people go to make sure they win "The Human Race?"

It would help if "The Human Race" added anything new to what we've already seen, but it doesn't. When the "contestants" veer off the path, their heads explode just like they did in low-budget 1990's sci-fi flick "Deadlock (aka Wedlock)." Director / Writer Paul Hough refuses to play it safe in terms of the victims he decides to dispose of. He also does his best to come up with new and more despicable ways for the racers to treat each other in an attempt to compensate for a lack of originality when it comes to the story.

In the production notes for "The Human Race," Hough stated, "Unfortunately in life, death has no prejudice. It doesn't discriminate. It will go after both the good and the bad. The abled and the disabled. The young and the old. The faithful and the faithless. I wanted to create a world in which anything can happen to anyone at any time."

He continued, "Further, it was important to me to have characters that one didn't pander to. That are flawed. That are actually a reflection of the society we live in - not just a wishful perception." I will say he did accomplish what he strived for as far as making each character an example of a certain section of humanity.

"The Human Race" is Unrated. I would give it an R-rating if I were a member of the MPAA. Lots of blood, violence, and disturbing images are the main factor for my decision. Another is a scene of attempted rape that many will find disturbing and quite intense.

Everything about "The Human Race" will remind you of another better movie you saw. The attempt at a shocking ending just feels like a major letdown crafted by a fan who's watched way too much "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits." The only viewer who won't feel this way is one who somehow escaped ever seeing "The Hunger Games," "Battle Royale," "The Running Man," or "Deadlock (aka Wedlock)." If you've already witnessed these fine films, then just move along. There's nothing new to see here... unless you just want to witness CGI-enhanced exploding heads and other sequences of blood and gore.

300: Rise of an Empire

Sometimes there are movies that escaped me along the way. A film that, for whatever reason, I never caught in the theater or on Blu-ray / DVD. One such ridiculous example of my oversight is Zack Snyder's adaptation of Frank Miller's "300." I've always wanted to see it and heard how great it was. The fact that it was based on a graphic novel by the same genius who wrote "The Dark Knight Returns" and "Batman: Year One" makes the whole situation more unacceptable. To make matters even worse for myself, I did the unthinkable. I watched "300: Rise of an Empire" before seeing the original.

Some will gasp in utter disgust and immediately stop reading this review. Others will find my fresh eyes and impartial opinion of the sequel a breath of fresh air. I went into "300: Rise of An Empire" with nothing to compare it to or any preconceived notions of what it should be. All that being said, I found the movie to be an entertaining (if not completely accurate) telling of the Battle of Salamis.

After his defeat of Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae, Persian god-king Xerxes marches forward toward the city-states of Greece. With Athens as the first stop on his path of destruction, the city's admiral Themistocles must lead his garrison of soldiers against Xerxes and his new vengeful ally, Persian naval commander Artemisia. Will his soldiers fight alone, or can Themistocles convince Leonidas's widow to send the Spartans into the fight again?

Director Noam Murro brings every gory element you would expect from an R-rated sword-and-sandal epic to "300: Rise of an Empire." There are no quick slashes or splashes of blood to be found here. Every swing of a sword and puncturing of skin is slowed down to give viewers the optimum amount of time to take in all the bodily harm and decapitations.

I will say that at times the narrative parts of "300: Rise of an Empire" seemed like minor segue ways to the different fight scenes put in front of us. However, Screenwriters Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad did do a good job of weaving the backstories of Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and Artemisia (Eva Green) into all the bloodshed and action. Santoro is as equally creepy in "Rise of an Empire" as he is in the first film. Green comes very close to stealing the show and making the "manly" Spartans and the Persian armies both look like sissy boys.

"300: Rise of an Empire" is rated R for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity, and some language. The sex scene is quite graphic and borders on sadomasochism. I found some of the bad language to be a little out of place for a period piece.

I did watch the superior "300" the next night to see what I'd been missing all these years. "300: Rise of an Empire" does a great job following up the original. Director Murro and Cinematographer Simon Duggan do a great job mimicking what Zack Snyder and Larry Fong created. It definitely feels like a direct extension of "300," which it should. This is the perfect example of imitation being the best form of flattery.

The LEGO Movie

What can be said about "The Lego Movie" that already hasn't? I think the millions upon millions of children singing the songs from the blockbuster sum everything up quite well. Warner Bros. Pictures and the Lego brand have most definitely hit pay dirt with a film that attracts not only rough and tumble boys looking to build something to knock it down, but even gentle little girls who dream of princesses and Uni-Kitties.

The evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) plots to glue the Lego Universe together in permanent harmony. A construction worker named Emmet (Chris Pratt) is believed to be the "Special" who will deliver the Lego world from the grasps of the tyrant. He teams up with feisty female Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), Superman (Channing Tatum), and other reluctant heroes to stop the oppressor and his minions.

The film is rated PG for mild action and rude humor. Although some might say there's some violence, it's always meant to be lighthearted and never taken seriously. After all, they ARE only Legos. The only people who will have a problem with this movie are ones who don't like the violent silliness of "The Three Stooges."

"The Lego Movie" is a rousing good time for the whole family. It's front-loaded with enough juvenile humor to satisfy any child and packed with a sufficient amount of pop culture references to attract older audiences and members of the geek illuminati. The only thing you have to worry about is the annoyance you'll begin to experience from having your kids run around the house singing "Everything is Awesome" day and night.


"Pompeii" came and went in theaters while not making much of a splash along the way. Many blame the release of "The Lego Movie" at the same time for this misfortune. Others blame it on poor word-of-mouth and a lack of interest in the subject matter.

On the eve of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, a slave named Milo (Kit Harington) is brought to the great city of Pompeii to participate in the gladiatorial arena. Upon his arrival, he catches the eye of the daughter (Emily Browning) of the city's ruler (Jarred Harris). As the arena battles rage on, the towering volcano begins spewing molten lava and raining fiery rock onto the citizens of the ancient metropolis. In the midst of all the confusion and destruction, Milo escapes and finds himself leading the ruler's daughter to safety as the city crumbles around them.

First off, if you're walking into "Pompeii" expecting complete historical accuracy you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Keep in mind that it is a Hollywood film. Although Director Paul W.S. Anderson went to great lengths to make the eruption of the volcano and the layout of Pompeii as authentic as possible, he himself even admits that the story and other scientific elements aren't completely precise.

What Anderson and Writers Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler, and Michael Robert Johnson do is build up a few characters the best they can in a movie with a running time of an hour and forty-four minutes. If this were an old-school 1970's disaster film, they would've made it over two hours long and spent the first hour and a half getting the audience acquainted and invested in all the lives of the people seen onscreen. In a world where there has to be an explosion every four to five minutes or viewers lose interest, that's just not possible.

The cast of "Pompeii" seems legitimately interested in participating in the movie. Leads Kit Harington and Emily Browning both fit their roles of star-crossed lovers quite well as they gaze into each other's eyes from afar and Harington risks life and limb to save Browning from certain doom. Kiefer Sutherland chews the scenery every chance he gets as the deplorable Roman Senator Corvus.

"Pompeii" is rated PG-13 for intense battle sequences, disaster-related action, and brief sexual content. Plenty of people die horrible deaths in the movie for all to see. Some die bloody deaths as gladiators while others perish from being buried in volcanic debris. The "brief sexual content" refers to scenes of women shopping for slaves to have their ways with them and some passionate kissing between characters.

As a fan of disaster films, "Pompeii" successfully met my expectations. It's not often you can find a way to blend together the destructive elements of "Armageddon," "The Poseidon Adventure," "Earthquake," and "The Day After Tomorrow" into one movie. When you add a hefty spoonful of "Gladiator" to the concoction, there's not much more you can do to satisfy the hunger of action movie fans anywhere.


At 62 years old, Liam Neeson has managed to carve quite a niche out for himself within the world of action movies. He's spent the last few years of his career fighting, jumping, shooting, and rescuing his way on to movie screens worldwide at a time when most stars would be settling in to nice quiet roles as an elderly statesman or wise old man. "Non-Stop" sees Neeson fully embracing his hero side once again in a thriller that is equally parts mystery and thriller as it is disaster and adventure film.

Bill Marks is a weary air marshal on another non-stop flight from the U.S. to Europe. His worst fears are realized when he receives text messages from an unknown person on the flight claiming they will kill one passenger every twenty minutes until their ransom demands are met. Now he must figure out who he can trust to help identify the sadistic individual before they strike.

"Non-Stop" teams up Liam Neeson with "Taken" Director Jaume Collet-Serra for another thrilling go-round at saving the day. Collet-Sera likes to helm movies that deal with controversial subject matter. It's obvious he wants people to walk away from his films not only entertained but with something to think and talk about.

"Non-Stop" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some language, sensuality and drug references. I can't think of a single moment of sensuality or drug references. Neeson enjoys his alcohol and smoking but I'd be hard-pressed to consider that "drug references."

I would be lying if I didn't tell you that "Non-Stop" does feel like an extension of "Taken." Liam Neeson's character might be a bit more hard-boiled, but he's in essence cut from the same pattern. If you can just get past that and enjoy a suspenseful hour or so of action movie clichés, get a first-class ticket for "Non-Stop" excitement. Do you see what I did there?


All but ignored upon its initial theatrical run, this effective little horror thriller deserves to be seen by all genre fans.

After being released from active duty in the military, Captain John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is stationed at an out-of-the-way outpost in the Sierra Nevada wilderness. In the cold of winter, he and his fellow officers find a wanderer (Robert Carlyle) who tells a disturbing tale of his struggle to survive the grips of a cannibalistic traveler. He leads a rescue team to save the last remaining survivor of the slaughter. What will they find when they arrive?

"Ravenous" is rated R for considerable gore, strong violence, language, and brief nudity. Besides the cannibalism, there's also a disturbing scene containing a broken bone sticking out of a soldier's leg. We get a nice quick glance at Robert Carlyle's skinny hind-end as well.

Director Antonia Bird and Writer Ted Griffin fill "Ravenous" with all sorts of surprises, gory thrills, and sheer lunacy thanks to a great performance by Robert Carlyle. Here's the perfect example of a movie where, even though it's been out for over a decade, no one wants to spoil its shocking revelations. Paired with a very bizarre musical score, it makes for a cinematic experience no horror enthusiast will want to miss.

Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu the Vampyre)

It's widely accepted that F.W. Murnau's 1922 silent film "Nosferatu" is one of the greatest horror films of all time. The epic scene of actor Max Schreck rising from his coffin is easily one of the most frightening moments captured on celluloid. Francis Ford Coppola even mimicked it for his big-budget 1992 adaptation, "Bram Stoker's Dracula." The very look of Count Orlock has been imitated in cult favorite vampire films like "Subspecies" and the 1979 TV mini-series "Salem's Lot."

"Nosferatu the Vampyre" is a perfect example of cinematic genius and a remake that reverently improves on the original in some aspects. Every scene found in the film drips with chilling atmosphere and historic accuracy. For 107 minutes, Director/Writer Herzog transports us to the year 1850 and takes us on a journey from Wismar, Germany into the Carpathian Mountains and then back to Wismar, where a horrific plague is the perfect cover for Count Dracula's (Klaus Kinski) insatiable hunger.

"Nosferatu the Vampyre" is rated PG for violence, sensuality, and frightening/intense scenes. There's not as much blood and graphic brutality as you would expect from a horror movie made in the late 1970s. Herzog relied on the mood he set for each sequence, leaving the gore and violence off-screen and to your imagination. There's no nudity or sex scenes, although Dracula does some suggestive touching as he feeds on his prey. We're also privy to some heavy breathing by both the vampire and his victim.

It's extremely evident "Nosferatu the Vampyre" is Werner Herzog's grand homage to the original silent film. It was the Director's way of bringing the masterpiece to the big-screen in a way F.W. Murnau could've only imagined when he made the original: in color, featuring audio, and using the actual names of the characters found in Bram Stoker's "Dracula" novel. Murnau was never allowed to do this because Stoker's widow wouldn't give him permission. It's Herzog's ultimate tribute to what he considers "the greatest film ever to come out of Germany."


"Fractured Fairy Tales" used to be a comical segment on "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show." Nowadays, they're serious moviemaking, TV, and book business opportunities that have inspired films like "Snow White and the Woodsman," "Mirror, Mirror," "Jack the Giant Slayer," "Enchanted," and primetime hits "Grimm" and "Once Upon a Time." Let's not forget to mention bestselling graphic novel series "Fables" and all its spin-offs and companion pieces. Disney's "Maleficent" is the latest entry in this new line of re-tooled legends.

Once a beautiful fairy living in the magical outskirts of a great kingdom, Maleficent's life is forever changed when she's betrayed by the human she loves in his quest to become the ruler of the great land. In a fit of rage and jealousy, she curses the King's newborn baby to fall into a deep sleep on her sixteenth birthday with only the touch of true love's kiss to break the spell. She grows to regret the curse as she witnesses the girl growing up. Is there a way she can take back the spell or will the girl find true love in time to save her?

Imagine everything you know about "Sleeping Beauty" being turned on its head. Some children (of all ages) might feel like they've been living a lie by the time the credits roll on "Maleficent." One thing I can tell you for sure is you're guaranteed a good time along the way. The story gets a little weighed down with drama in some parts, but overall there's enough action and special effects to nudge you back to consciousness right when you're eyelids start to get heavy.

Angelina Jolie proves she was the right choice to bring the tragic character of Maleficent to life. She revels in the delicious havoc she wrecks on screen, while also emoting the remorse she feels as she oversees Aurora grow into a young woman. She fully embodies the part in her physical look and emotional demeanor on screen.

All sorts of CGI creatures and creations fill "Maleficent." Most of them look completely believable and blend well with all the practical sets and actors. There are points where the limitations stand out more so than others, but nothing too distracting.

"Maleficent" is rated PG for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including frightening images. Things might be a bit too dark for the younger girls who love Disney's animated "Sleeping Beauty." Tree monsters and hedges of giant thorn bushes smashing soldiers might scar them for life.

"Maleficent" is more positive proof that fairy tales still have a place in our society and hearts. It also proves that there's a lot of great entertainment to be experienced if you're not afraid to take a little creative license with the classics we've grown up admiring. After all, the only thing that's important is that everyone lives happily ever after... right?

Devil's Knot
Devil's Knot(2014)

First off, I never gave much thought to the controversy surrounding the West Memphis Three. I was always around bands who protested their sentencing and read about the objections to their trials, but never gave it any more thought than that. I never watched or reviewed any of the "Paradise Lost" documentaries so I didn't feel like I had the right to take a side on the subject. All I knew was three little boys were murdered and it was a horrible tragedy.

In 1993, three young boys go into the woods of a small town in West Memphis, Arkansas. After their bodies are found in the river, the entire region is turned upside down as the murderer is tracked down. Three teenage locals accused of being Satanists are suspects in the killings. Have the authorities found the killers or is there more to the story that we've never heard?

When I saw a movie was being made based on the murders at Robin Hood Hill in West Memphis, Arkansas, I didn't even entertain seeing it. Not that I'm an unfeeling human being. I just try to put my focus on certain types of films and stick within those parameters because of time constraints. My mind was changed when I found out Scott Derrickson co-wrote and executive produced "Devil's Knot."

Scott Derrickson is a Hollywood director who shares many of the same Christian beliefs I do. It just so happens he wrote and directed what is in my opinion one of the finest examples of a supernatural horror film in 2013 - "Sinister." He also directed "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," "The Day the Earth Stood Still" remake, "Hellraiser: Inferno," and the upcoming "Deliver Us from Evil." Recently, Derrickson announced he's attached to helm the upcoming "Doctor Strange" movie for Marvel and Disney. Needless to say, I have a deep respect for his work and anything he puts his name on.

Director Atom Egoyan's "Devil's Knot" isn't meant to break any new ground in the investigations of the West Memphis killings. I see it as a tool to expose and tell the story to new people who might not be interested in watching documentaries or reading pages of case studies. It's an easy way to get people educated about one of the most infamous murder trials in American history.

"Devil's Knot" encouraged me to do some research on the killings. As soon as the credits rolled onscreen, I hit the internet and compared what I'd seen to the actual evidence and professional conjecture I found. It's safe to say Egoyan's movie doesn't embellish much and sticks to the facts.

I was very impressed by the cast assembled for the indie film. "Devil's Knot" boasts Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth as the two lead characters. Supporting actors include Stephen Moyer, Bruce Greenwood, Elias Koteas, and Alessandro Nivola. It's obvious they all took the movie seriously and put their heart and souls into their performance.

"Devil's Knot" was never rated for the U.S. and contains disturbing images, language, and nudity. The crime scene photographs and sequences were enough to make me cringe and look away at points and I'm a horror film fanatic. It's just something about knowing this was based on true events that made me uneasy watching those scenes. The only nudity is of the bodies of the three murder victims. Trust me, there's nothing gratifying or attractive in what we are shown. It's purely used to display the severity of the perverse and sick nature of the crimes.

If you're uneducated on the events surrounding the murders at Robin Hood Hill in West Memphis, Arkansas, I highly recommend you seeing "Devil's Knot." If you've seen all the "Paradise Lost" documentaries, chances are you'll feel like you're seeing a basic retread of the information already shared in those films. According to my research, it seems to be the perfect opportunity to get educated about the tragic murders and the three boys accused of the crimes.

JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time

I'm a huge fan of the DC Universe animated movies. There's always been one thing that bothered me about them, though. They were aimed at an older crowd and borderline inappropriate for anyone under the age of 13 for sure. I still don't understand why filmmakers can't cater to both younger and older audiences at the same time.

It's not like they're going to lose an older audience if they take away the sexual innuendos, bad language, and adult content. However, those elements will keep parents from letting younger children watch them. There's more to gain from removing the offending material than keeping it in there and alienating an entire group of potential viewers (and buyers). I wish there were more neutral DC Universe movies like "JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time."

Lex Luthor captures an entity named the Time Trapper who controls the Sands of Time. Superman's arch nemesis and his Legion of Doom use the mysterious being's powers to travel back in time and wipe out the very existence of the Justice League of America. Can the super powers foil Luthor's evil plans before they're erased from history and mankind is left to fend for themselves?

"JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time" came out as an exclusive release a few months back through Target stores. It just recently was released to the mass market on DVD only. The movie is good clean fun for the whole family. Female fans will embrace Wonder Woman and identify with teen super hero Dawnstar. Boys will want to emulate Batman, Superman, the Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, and teen marvel Karate Kid as they defend the world from the Legion of Doom and the Time Trapper.

Bonus material for "JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time" includes 2 bonus cartoons from the DC Comics Vault. They include "The Mysterious Time Creatures" from "The All-New Super Friends Hour" Season 2 and "Elevator to Nowhere" from "Super Friends" Season 5. It also contains trailers for "Teen Titans Go," "Beware the Batman," "The Lego Movie," "Tom and Jerry," and "Tom and Jerry's Giant Adventure."

"JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time" was almost perfect in every way possible. It was a clean movie which didn't lose its potency without any of the questionable material found in the other DC Universe animated films. The animation is vibrant and technically superb. It's only 53 minutes long, which is just the right amount of time for an animated movie to pick up, establish characters quickly, and then go full-speed ahead with action up to the very end.

Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow

There are a few things you can gather from a list of Tom Cruise's films. Obviously, he likes being the lead man and hero who saves the day. Second, he loves doing his own stunts and getting in on the serious action. Thirdly, the guy seems to hold an affinity for science fiction.

Sprinkled throughout his career, you'll find films like "Minority Report," "War of the Worlds," "Oblivion," and even "Vanilla Sky" which touch on sci-fi and fantasy elements. The only butt he seems to like kicking more than those of international spies and government traitors are aliens. He returns to the screen right after saving the world from otherworldly invaders in "Oblivion" to meeting them on the battlefield in "Edge of Tomorrow."

Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is a military spokesman talking up the public during a world war against alien invaders. After being literally dropped into the middle of combat, he is killed almost instantaneously. Cage awakens to the harsh realization that he is trapped in a time loop and forced to die over and over again. Each time he returns from the dead, his skills are increasingly sharpened and he is one step closer to saving the world with the help of a Special Forces soldier named Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt).

Director Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity," "Mr. and Mrs. Smith") does a great job taking Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth's action-packed script and bringing it to the big-screen with all the intensity and excitement you would expect from a sci-fi / action flick. It's well-paced and takes itself seriously while injecting elements of dark humor into the equation.

Tom Cruise is his usual lovable self and delivers a performance that reflects his love for these types of roles and movies. You can sense his enthusiasm for his work every day when he hits the set. He's a guy that acts for a living and doesn't hate a single second of it. I know many people can't stand Cruise, but you can't deny the guy's a good actor and seems to genuinely love what he does.

Emily Blunt is perfect in the role of tough-as-nails Special Forces soldier Rita Vrataski. She's the Ripley (Sigourney Weaver in the "Alien" movies) or Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff in "Battlestar Galactica") character for "Edge of Tomorrow." She definitely holds her own next to Cruise as they partner up and make their way through packs of deadly aliens.

Speaking of the aliens, I was impressed at their design. It's relatively hard to come up with an original look for a space invader these days no matter how hard you try. "Edge of Tomorrow" comes close to providing audiences with something as unique as they could in a world where there's nothing new under the sun.

A couple of questions on everyone's minds are, "Is it worth seeing in IMAX" and "Does the 3D make any difference?" My answer would be no to both. I really didn't see anything so spectacular in the IMAX or 3D experience to merit paying the extra money. The 3D is used to give the picture depth more than anything. There are those few spots where something flies out of the screen at you, but nothing too memorable.

"Edge of Tomorrow" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive material. Cruise drops an "F" bomb, although I'm pretty sure the "ck" is cut off by an explosion. The rest of the language is pretty much what you would expect from a film that takes place in the military and on the battlefield. The battle scenes are pretty intense and I'd suggest leaving younger kids at home.

If you're thinking "Edge of Tomorrow" sounds like a science fiction mash-up of "Groundhog Day" with "Starship Troopers," you're not far off-base. Although the concept has been re-visited a few times, the movie succeeds in creating something entertaining. This is accomplished through a great cast, some humorous moments, and action that keeps the story moving forward at a smooth stride.

House In The Alley

Known mainly for its re-releases of classic horror titles, Scream Factory goes outside its norm once again by releasing Vietnamese supernatural thriller "House in the Alley." Just like with the foreign-made "Dead Shadows," they're taking a step (albeit smaller) in the right direction with this entry in the haunted house sub-genre. I wish I could report that I was completely enthralled by the film, but a very slow start and questionable pacing left me unconvinced.

Just as a young couple is settling into their new house, they suffer a miscarriage. Thao is traumatized by the event and becomes withdrawn. Her husband, Thanh, does his best to console her amidst the stresses of everyday life, a demanding mother, and their family business. When Thao starts hearing and seeing things, she begins to think she's losing her mind. The couple becomes more unhinged when Thanh starts experiencing strange phenomena around the house as well. Are they cracking under the strain of the death of their child or is something unexplainable happening in their home?

Writer/Director Le-Van Kiet goes out of his way to set up and slow-cook the tension into "House in the Alley." I think he was on the right track, but got a bit too heavy-handed along the way. The first two acts drift uneasily in and out of long bouts of dialogue, creepy jump scares, and suspenseful stretches.

The third act of "House in the Alley" is what saved the movie. It's jam-packed full of violent outbursts and some of the most unsettling shots of a possessed Thao. The woman who plays her does an incredible job transitioning between tense calm and rabid psychosis very quick. The last ten minutes of the film come close to redeeming the first seventy or so. I don't want to insinuate that all of acts one and two are disposable, but there is a whole lot of talking that I think could've been trimmed down.

Although it's not rated, "House in the Alley" could easily get away with an "R" if put in front of the MPAA. The movie includes language, violence, gore, and adult situations. There's no nudity to be seen. Instead of unnecessary sensuality and foul language, we get a film that attempts to rely on story and character development.

"House in the Alley" comes with no special features. An interview or commentary with Writer/Director Le-Van Kiet would have been entertaining. A "Making of" featurette with cast interviews might have enhanced the viewing experience as well.

Writer/Director Le-Van Kiet's attempt at fashioning his version of a tension-building 1970's supernatural thriller isn't a complete write-off. Some might feel "House in the Valley's" slow movement towards an explosive climax to be welcome. I just think it has too much extra padding added to stretch it out to feature length. Maybe it would've worked better as a short film or as part of an anthology collection.

Way of the Wicked

Religious horror and thriller movies are a dime a dozen these days. Ever since "The Exorcist" hit screens in 1973, the world has been in a state of satanic panic. There's always a constant flow of possession or devil-baby flicks being released in the independent world of horror and touched upon in the mainstream at least once every six months or so. Some of them rise above the standard fare, while others fizzle out and are forgotten. "Way of the Wicked" falls short of being memorable by offering nothing new to audiences.

Robbie (Jake Croker) is a disturbed young teen suspected of causing a mysterious death. After five years, he returns to his hometown to start anew. Still pining for the local police detective's (Vinnie Jones) daughter Heather (Emily Tennant), he befriends her and incurs the wrath of the girl's popular schoolmates and suitor. They begin turning up dead as each torments Robbie and bothers his love interest. Can Father Henry (Christian Slater) use the powers of his faith to stop the killings?

"Way of the Wicked" plays out like a mashed-up version of "Carrie" and "The Omen." Although the image used to promote the movie screams "The Exorcist," what viewers find inside is a hodge-podge of elements taken from other films featuring teens with telekinetic powers. The only tie to religious thrillers is a prophecy Father Henry is investigating. Upon first viewing, it's vague whether the foretelling is from the Bible or another book associated with it. I doubt anyone would want to view it a second time just to catch whether it's one or the other.

The acting in "Way of the Wicked" never comes into question. Both Vinnie Jones and Christian Slater act like they're personally invested in the film. Emily Tennant does a great job emoting as Heather. Jake Croker is absolutely creepy as Robbie. His performance and haunting stare made my skin crawl.

"Way of the Wicked" is unrated. It features violence, adult situations, and language. Viewers don't have to sit through any unnecessary nude scenes. I can see this airing on the Chiller Channel on a Friday or Saturday night.

Even "Way of the Wicked's" attempt at a twist ending ends up falling flat. It just makes the whole thing more of a copycat of past movies much better than this. Even though you don't see it coming and it's well-delivered, you still are left with a sense of déjà vu as the credits roll. I can think of films that are a bigger waste of time, but you'd still be better off re-watching "Carrie," "Firestarter," or "The Omen."

Beyond the Poseidon Adventure

Irwin Allen's "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" does the unthinkable in this follow-up to his blockbuster 1972 film. Instead of people trying to get off the sinking luxury liner, he has two crews trying to get on to it for different reasons. Michael Caine leads one group into it to claim salvage rights to what's been left behind. At the same time, Telly Savalas heads up a team of murderous plunderers in search of a cargo of plutonium. Along the way, they both happen upon survivors frantically trying to get off the ship. Will Caine and Savalas find their treasures and a way to get back off the ship before it plummets to the depths of the sea?

I have to give props where they're due, no matter how ridiculous it sounds. The fact that Irwin Allen had the audacity to attempt a sequel to "The Poseidon Adventure" deserves a strange amount of reverence. Can you imagine the power of suggestion he must have controlled. He walked into the offices of studio executives six years after the original left theaters and said, "Hey, I have an idea for a sequel to that movie where the ship sinks. What if people tried to get on the ship instead of off of it?" "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" is proof he convinced them to do it!

"Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" is nowhere near as bad as you'd think it would be. It has everything a great disaster movie should. An ensemble cast fighting for their lives as water levels rise. Escape routes becoming blocked as the people fight their way back to the surface before the ship's hull becomes completely submerged. People who you don't want to die do and others you wish would but don't. I wasn't disappointed in it by any means.

A PG rating was given to "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure." It contains violence, language, and intense sequences of peril.

"Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" is one of those movies that never should've happened. All I can say is thanks to all the studio executives with dollar signs in their eyes who greedily greenlit this wonderful piece of cinema history. For those of us who love unnecessary sequels and crave a little 1970's cheese, it's a rare gem that's been found and preserved for us to enjoy over and over again.

Mr. Jones
Mr. Jones(2014)

Rarely do I ever finish watching a movie and truly wish I could regain the ninety or so minutes I spent taking it in. It takes a lot for me to completely write off a film. Unfortunately, Anchor Bay's "Mr. Jones" is one of those rare dead weights which cause me to flip the TV off in despair and regret. The only thing I can compare the experience to is watching paint dry or a form of Chinese water torture.

Scott and Penny move out to the wilderness in order to film a nature documentary. The two soon discover they're not as alone as they thought they were. While exploring the land they live on, the couple stumble upon a mysterious man living in seclusion. Could he be the eccentric artist known to the world as Mr. Jones?

"Mr. Jones" is a hodge-podge of found footage and faux-interviews that quickly becomes tiresome and annoying. I really enjoyed Writer/Director Karl Mueller's work on the apocalyptic film "The Divide," but this movie is a true test in patience and endurance. I literally spent the last twenty minutes of the movie wondering where it was going storywise and how it could take sooo long to get there.

I would like to add that Mueller does provide some nice visual work through his influence on Director of Photography Matthew Rudenberg. While the images might shake around like they were shot during an earthquake, there's still a disturbing dynamic to them that could work if utilizing an actual mounted camera.

Jon Foster and Sara Jones play the lead characters of Scott and Penny. They do an admirable job of arguing with each other and running around in a panic from every noise and shadow that falls across their paths. The rest of the supporting cast is made up of actors from different television shows and movies carrying on about the enigmatic Mr. Jones.

A rating of PG-13 is given to "Mr. Jones" for terror, frightening images, a scene of sexuality, and brief language. There's no nudity to be found. Even though it says there's brief language, the "F" word is used at least once or twice.

"Mr. Jones" will no doubt find a cult following who enjoys its trying blend of "The Blair Witch Project," "Jeepers Creepers," and "Jacob's Ladder." I think most fans of the horror genre will be like me. They'll be cursing themselves for not finding a better way to spend the ninety minutes that slipped through your fingers while watching this. I think Director/Writer Karl Mueller has what it takes to put together an entertaining film, but this isn't it.


About an hour into "Godzilla," my son summed Director Gareth Edward's reboot up with one simple statement. He tapped me on the shoulder and whispered in my ear, "Dad, this movie is boring except for the fights." He captured my exact thoughts about almost every film starring the King of the Monsters. I take a mental nap when humans are onscreen and get jolted awake by the noise of two giant monsters fighting each other.

Two giant creatures that feed on radioactivity head on a collision course towards each other, destroying everything in their path. Drawn to each other's mating calls, they follow their instincts to the greatest feeding ground on Earth: the nuclear waste dumps of Nevada. Godzilla must stop them before they destroy the world. However, will the he succeed in annihilating them without wiping out the human race in the process?

Nobody watches a "Godzilla" movie for the plots or human interaction. Except for the first film's warnings against nuclear devastation, the other entries in the franchise revolve around aliens or diabolical Earthly powers trying to take over the world using some sort of Kaiju. Audiences fumble their way through long stretches of narrative to get to see 20 minutes of Monday Night Smackdown between two giant creatures using Tokyo as a wrestling ring.

If you walk into "Godzilla" expecting to see a "Godzilla" movie, then you'll be just fine. If you go into it anticipating what I did, you'll probably leave disenchanted. I don't know why, but I was expecting Director Gareth Edwards to up the amount of battle scenes and appearances by our title character. I wanted him to make the "Godzilla" flick I wanted to see - less yammering and more hammering.

The acting in "Godzilla" isn't bad, but it isn't phenomenal either. Everyone takes the attitude that audiences aren't coming to the movie to see humans, so why put forth too much effort. That's what it felt like to me. After watching so many disaster films over the past few months, I wanted a human story with as much weight as it had wanton giant monster destruction. I think I set myself up for disappointment.

I was quite impressed with most of the CGI in "Godzilla." The King of the Monsters looked like the menacing one we've wanted to see all along. There's no signs of a man in a suit to be found here. The MUTOS creatures were much cooler than I expected from seeing still shots of the film.

I did find it amusing that most of the effects-heavy sequences took place at night as to mask any CGI limitations. It's obvious the filmmakers for both this and "Pacific Rim" didn't have the type of faith in the quality of their work that Michael Bay does with his "Transformers" movies. They keep the Kaiju masked by the dark while Bay rolls his robots out into the exposing rays of the sunlight.

The movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence. There's no gore to be found and very little blood. A few soldiers and bystanders have a little blood caked on them, but that's about it. I was also impressed at the lack of bad language and adult situations. "Godzilla" is surprisingly family-friendly and as tame as the older entries in the franchise.

"Godzilla" is, well, a "Godzilla" movie. You have to decide for yourself if that's to be considered a good or bad thing. The only difference between this and the older films is a lack of more Japanese people and the absence of a Toho logo at the beginning of the title credits.


I'm sure the entertaining "Evilspeak" hit a nerve at the time as the world was being introduced to personal computers and technology they weren't accustomed to yet. The idea that a demonic spirit could be conjured through your PC can be a scary thought even today. As a matter of fact, the concept was so interesting that an episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" addressed the same issue over a decade later.

Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard) is the runt who always gets picked on at his military school. That all changes one day when he is assigned to clean up the basement of the campus's chapel. As he moves around dusty boxes from one corner to the other, he discovers the hidden tomb of a 16th Century Satanist (Richard Moll). After finding the madman's book of incantations, he types them into his computer to be translated. Stanley soon realizes that he's performing a Black Mass which conjures the evil spirit of the Satanist and unleashes an ancient evil power. It's an evil power which could be used to exact revenge on the students and teachers who torture Stanley.

Originally rated X by the MPAA, "Evilspeak" is presented here in an unrated version. It has everything you would expect from a 1980s fright flick. There's plenty of gore and violence as Coopersmith uses a sword to decapitate his victims. You can tell most of it is fake, but the shock value is still there. It also contains the usual foul language. A couple of nude scenes are found as well.

"Evilspeak" is definitely not for everyone. Religious folks will no doubt find all the Satanic chanting to be unnerving. I completely identify with how they feel. I believe in the power of words and do my best to steer clear of anything that sounds authentic. I think it says something when the leader (Anton LaVey) of the Satanic Church considers your movie to be "very Satanic." The only lessons you can take away from "Evilspeak" is you'll go insane and become a slave to the devil if you mess with unholy powers and conjure demons.

"Evilspeak" is one of the earliest movies to address the growing importance and place technology would take in our society. As strange as it sounds, it fits perfectly on the shelf next to "Wargames," "TRON," and the likes. Although I think the Satanic chanting could've been toned down, the story is one many an outcast can relate to. It's also timely with the recent release of the "Carrie" remake fresh on everyone's minds.

Son of Batman

The DC Universe continues combining its New 52 Universe and its animated movie universe with "Son of Batman." It was a lot easier to adapt "Justice League: War" for the big or small screen given that it was already rooted in the rebooted world we've come to know in the past few years. The real question everybody wanted to know the answer to was, "How will a book written before the launch of the New 52 fit into the new cosmos?" Whether you like the outcome or not, credit has to be given to DC for accomplishing the feat.

When Ra's al Ghul is assassinated by Deathstroke and his army, his daughter Talia and her son Damian are left on the run for their lives. She takes the boy to the only place she knows he'll be safe: Gotham City and into the custody of the only man she can truly trust - The Batman. The Caped Crusader is caught off guard when he finds out he is the father of Damian. The heiress to the throne of the Demon leaves the 11-year-old under the wing of the Dark Knight. Batman soon finds himself partnered with a new Robin when he is put in the middle of a battle between Talia's new brigade of Man-Bats and Deathstroke's squad.

If you've read Grant Morrison's graphic novel that "Son of Batman" is based on, then you know right off the bat (pun intended) this is not as faithful an adaptation as you might have expected. Whether or not you find this to be a good thing or bad is up to you. I personally found it to be entertaining and quite a brilliant way to pull the saga of "Batman and Son" into the New 52 world.

"Batman and Son" is rated PG-13 for Stylized violence including bloody images, and some suggestive material. There's more gore than usual as members of the League of Assassins and Deathstroke's army get stabbed and shot. Several lines of dialogue are rather racy, but most pre-teens probably won't get them. I still don't really know why they needed to be included. Why not just leave them out and know that the movie is safe for everyone without question?

Some will see DC's use of Deathstroke to be a desperate ploy to promote and push the character further into the spotlight while cross-promoting his presence on "Arrow." Hey, business is business. DC executives and writers gotta eat, too. I like the character on the television show and I like him in the comics. If you don't like him, then you're probably going to have a problem with his inclusion in "Son of Batman."

"Son of Batman" is made up of the first quarter of Morrison's book sans all the romantic elements and other extraneous elements which could be trimmed out. A little shuffling is done to certain plot elements and events, Deathstroke is thrown in, and "Voila!" We get an energetic and fast-paced 74-minute movie.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I have to tell you that I had absolutely no expectations walking into "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." The trailers and teasers for the movie never pushed any emotional buttons for me. Although Marc Webb's second film in his series was looking to be overstuffed with villains, I never made any negative mental comparisons to Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 3" because I actually liked it.

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is having trouble in his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). The constant reminder of his promise to Gwen's father (Denis Leary) makes it virtually impossible to keep a clear conscience while courting his high school sweetheart. Meanwhile, a timid worker (Jamie Foxx) for OsCorp is transformed into a dangerous electrical force bent on draining New York City of its power and gaining notoriety through his acts of terrorism. The wall crawler also finds himself going head-to-head with both the Goblin (Dane DeHaan) and the Rhino (Paul Giamatti) as they seek to satisfy their own diabolical agendas.

It goes without saying that "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" sounds a bit hectic. The biggest question on everyone's mind is if the villains all feel jammed into the movie. The answer is yes AND no. There are times when it feels like the characters were shoe-horned in to make way for the much-talked about "Sinister Six" movie. At other points, everything feels cohesive and not forced. Harry's transformation in particular seems a bit hurried, but not enough to ruin the viewing experience.

I've heard grumblings about "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" being considered nothing more than a gateway or segue way to the "Sinister Six" and "The Amazing Spider-Man 3." I did get that feeling at times. There was an underlying vibe I could compare to "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" and "Star Wars - Episode II: Attack of the Clones." They existed because they had to in order to bridge the gap between two other pieces of an epic puzzle.

I will say that some of the dialogue and acting in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" lacked. Dane DeHaan seemed a little out of sorts at times with his performance as Harry Osborn. Surprisingly, Jamie Fox did a great job adding humor to his character of Max Dillon/Electro. There were spots where his dialogue veered into corny territory as well. It's hard to blame dialogue problems on anyone but the writers, though.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence. There was also some bad language. If you and your children were fine with the first movie, this is really no different when it comes to content. It gets a little intense at times, but my seven year old handled it well.

As far as sequels are concerned, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" successfully follows up the first chapter with tons of dizzying excitement, romance, and superhero fun. Although it feels a little overloaded at times, in the end it captures the essence of what comic book fans crave. It's a summer blockbuster with intentions of being taken seriously at the same time through elements of human drama and teen angst.

Sleepaway Camp

1983's "Sleepaway Camp" has everything one could want in a genre piece and more. Not only does the movie have one of the best surprise endings ever conceived, it also does a better job than most at establishing characters you can truly identify with emotionally.

After a tragic boating accident, Angela is taken in by her kooky Aunt Martha and Cousin Ricky. Angela and Ricky are sent to summer camp to enjoy themselves and make new friends. Not long after arriving, a series of accidents begin occurring. Are they all mishaps or has someone returned to the camp looking for some type of retribution?

Writer / Director Robert Hiltzik has fashioned one of the finest examples of the slasher genre with "Sleepaway Camp." All the right ingredients are here. There's suspense, mystery, gore, and characters you actually feel sorry for. Don't get me wrong. You also want to see several of them die as well.

I can't think of a more perfect film to sit next to your copies of "Friday the 13th" and "The Burning" on your shelves. The new Blu-ray edition of "Sleepaway Camp" is an essential piece of slasher and horror genre history. If reflected upon through the mind of someone watching it in 1983, you begin to realize just how pioneering its surprise ending was.

Final Exam
Final Exam(1981)

For every good slasher film in the 1980s, there were ten that should've never seen the light of day. Some of those misfires have gained cult status over the years for one reason or another. It's tough to truly judge a movie in a genre that celebrates bad acting, cheesy dialogue, and nonsensical plots. 1981's "Final Exam" is a perfect example of one such film that is beloved by many today for, in my opinion, no good reason at all.

A serial killer walks the streets of Lanier College as the students prepare for a week of final exams and frat hazing. With no apparent motive or target demographic, the murderer hunts down both jocks and nerds without prejudice. Can anyone stop the madman before he takes his next victim?

I can appreciate what Writer/Director Jimmy Huston was trying to do with "Final Exam." He was attempting to make a film in the vein of "Halloween" using Hitchcock's sensibilities and techniques. Huston did his best to establish characters the audience would connect to. Unfortunately, the fact that none of the performers playing them could act annihilated any hopes of that happening.

It would've also helped if the murderer had ANY sort of motive for his killing spree. It's just some guy following college kids around and butchering them. B-O-R-I-N-G! Slasher movies either have to have one thing or another going for it. It has to be suspenseful or graphic and gory when it comes to the violence. "Final Exam" doesn't excel in either of these areas. The suspense is smothered by a lack of motivation and the kill scenes are absent of any real substance or bloodshed.

"Final Exam" is rated R for violence, language, adult situations, and nudity. Of course, there's the obligatory boob shot all slasher films must have. There's so little onscreen gore that the movie quite possibly could air right after an episode of "Goosebumps" on Teen Nick. If made today without the one scene of nudity, it might earn a PG-13 rating for its content.

As far as slasher movies are concerned, "Final Exam" is a weak entry into the genre. I'm sure many fans of the film will disagree with me and they have every right to. I can't consider it an essential piece of horror history based on its lack of motivation, suspense, and gore. Without those elements, it's just another bland B-movie with bad acting.

Camp Dread
Camp Dread(2014)

There's a fine line between respectfully imitating the slasher genre and failing at it. I can't quite tell you why it works at times and why the concept falls flat at others. The "Scream" movies did a great job of being self-aware, celebrating all the typical ingredients of a good killer flick, and then expanding upon it. "Camp Dread" is a movie that gets the overly-tried and true formula for fun, sophisticated gore, and thrills right for the most part.

A group of troubled young adults are recruited to attend a summer camp at the location where a series of slasher films were made in the 1980s. Director Julian Barrett (Eric Roberts) invites them to take part in a reality TV-based reboot of his franchise where the last person left alive wins a million dollars. The attendees think it's all staged until corpses are found strewn out all over the campgrounds.

"Camp Dread" tries very hard to rise above the countless other clones of "Friday the 13th" that are released weekly straight-to-DVD. Although not perfect, its genuine effort through the use of practical gore effects and an attempt at a fun surprise ending far outweigh its sometimes tedious checklist of genre do's and don't's. In a world firmly submerged in the use of CGI, it's a breath of fresh air to see the use of theatrical blood and prosthetics, even if they don't always look as "real" as they should.

The cast of victims are your typical bunch of multi-cultural types from all walks of life. Each one is given traits that instill in the viewer a sense of urgency to see each of them die a horrible death. The actors play their roles quite well on a B-movie level. Eric Roberts is as smarmy and loathsome as ever in his role as the washed-up and desperate movie director. Danielle Harris gets far too little screen-time playing the token sheriff of the small town where the camp is located. It's entertaining to see the little scream queen from all the "Halloween" movies grown up and playing an adult in a position of power.

"Camp Dread" is not rated, but could easily carry an R. There's bloody violence, language, adult situations, and nudity. It has everything long-time audiences of slasher films have come to expect... and in one scene a little more possibly.

"Camp Dread" is a fun rollercoaster ride of thrills and gore that commemorates the slasher films that came before it. The movie mimics its predecessors on purpose while wanting to be taken seriously through throwing in some interesting plot twists and turns in its finale. Fans of "The Burning," "Friday the 13th," and other similar films will take pleasure in this bloody romp through the woods.

Dead Shadows
Dead Shadows(2012)

Imagine "Night of the Comet" blended together with "The Thing" and you get an idea of what to expect from this creepy little flick.

Chris has been a recluse ever since seeing his parents die eleven years earlier on the eve of Halley's Comet's fly-over of the Earth. Deathly afraid of the dark, he keeps to himself and doesn't leave his flat very often. He decides to break his own rules to celebrate the appearance of another comet at a party with his beautiful neighbor. As the comet passes by our planet, the people around him become increasingly violent. He soon discovers there's more behind their erratic behavior than just a gravitational change or ingesting too much alcohol.

"Dead Shadows" is considered to be not rated. If put before the MPAA, it would easily earn an R rating. There are plenty of gory and disturbing sequences of violence and alien transformations. I found myself even cringing at some points. The movie contains some sexual content, nudity, and language as well.

"Dead Shadows" is one of those great "straight-and-to-the-point" movies. It doesn't take thirty minutes of your valuable time gearing up and going through the motions. It establishes characters quickly and gets to the meat, potatoes, and gore. The movie is such a thrill-ride that when the credits roll you're left begging for more. That's how you know you've just seen something unique and different. How often are you left feeling like that these days?


For over a century now, Hollywood has been obsessed with Biblical epics. Blockbuster filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille's fortune was partially built on not one but two different versions of "The Ten Commandments." Let's not forget box office hits like "Ben-Hur" and Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." "Noah" is the latest in the line of Tinseltown takes on God's Holy Word.

I would imagine almost everyone knows the tale of Noah as it is told in Genesis Chapter 6 through 10 of the Bible. God tells Noah he is going to destroy the world through a flood because of how evil mankind has become. He instructs him to build an ark, which will hold two of every animal and the man's family. God floods the Earth for forty days and forty nights. Noah, his family, and the animals are left to re-populate the planet after it's all said and done.

Let's be honest. No story ever brought to life on the big screen about the Bible has ever been 100% accurate. "The Ten Commandments" added all sorts of little side-stories to up the human drama. "Jesus of Nazareth" fills in gaps left open in the scriptures for interpretation. Director Darren Aronofsky does the same with "Noah" and adds it to a growing list of controversial-yet-successful religiously-based films.

I found "Noah" to be an entertaining and action-packed re-telling of the Biblical tale. Did Co-Writer/Director Aronofsky add things to it and fill in some gaps along the way? He sure did. However, I don't think he stepped over the line into the region of irreverence or blasphemy. Aronofsky captures the essence of the story even if he does tend to add some ideas of his own to it as well.

Yes, there are rock monsters called Watchers that help Noah build the ark. They are fallen angels God banished to the Earth and cursed. They are looking for redemption and want to help Noah do the Will of the Creator to gain the Almighty's forgiveness. What's wrong with that? It doesn't try to change the main gist of the story. There are verses in the Bible that talk about fallen angels living on the earth at that time.

Another complaint I've heard is that God wants to destroy the Earth because man has used up its natural resources and abused the animals. Many conservatives see this as the filmmaker pushing his own agenda and propaganda by making God and Noah into hippy environmentalists. However, it's made very clear in the movie that this isn't the only reason the Creator wants to kill off humanity. Noah takes a trip into the city and bears witness to all sorts of violence and degradation.

There are also those troubled over the fact that Noah loses his mind and misreads God's messages. I really don't see how this is that far off from the Noah of the Bible. He was not perfect by any means. The Bible makes it very clear that he was a drunkard and fornicator. I found Russell Crowe's portrayal of Noah to be spot-on and showed the humanity and flaws in the Biblical hero many of us grew up hearing about in Sunday School class.

"Noah" is rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content. I would imagine that scenes of people drowning and dying would be considered disturbing. There are two scenes of kissing and a tiny bit of sensuality, but no nudity to be found. People do battle each other and the rock monsters annihilate crowds of people trying to get on the ark when the rains come.

"Noah" might take some artistic license religious groups might find offensive. I prefer to look at the movie as an opportunity to get people talking about the Bible. As a Christian, I hope Darren Aronofsky's film is giving audiences a reason to think about God, faith, the modern plight of man, and what their greater purpose or calling in life might be.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Of all the mainstream Marvel super heroes, Captain America is my most cherished. His first adventure was hands down my favorite of the Phase 1 films. The classic WWII setting and epic feel is what captured my fancy. It was like an Indiana Jones movie blended together with the comic book world. It makes perfect sense, as it was directed by a guy who cut his teeth working with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Although it doesn't have the same historic flavor as its predecessor, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" still succeeds at being the second-best of all the Marvel movies up to now.

Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) have continued to work for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and S.H.I.E.L.D. after the events of "The Avengers." When it's discovered that the evil organization Hydra is still running strong and has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., Cap and Widow go rogue to help discover who the enemy plants are. They team up with the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and find themselves confronting a powerful assassin named the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) as they embark on their mission.

Everything about "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" contrasts the hero's first movie. It takes place in the present day instead of the 1930s and 1940s. Cap has to deal with advanced technology versus the tanks and simple guns of the past. He's also immersed in a political world that's less cut and dry as it was in the good old days of World War II. The musical score is more modern and chaotic versus the symphonic patriotic-sounding orchestrations of the original.

I can't say that there are any real surprises in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." It plays out exactly the way you think it will. The main villain is who you know it's going to be from the first sequence of the movie. However, it's still fun seeing everything unfold before you.

Whether it's predictable or not, it's nice to see a movie attempting to deliver a strong and complex storyline along with its over-the-top action sequences. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" gets an "A" for effort across the board. I also give it props for being a game-changer. Things happen in it that will shake the foundations of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general.

The addition of Falcon as one of Cap's sidekicks is a welcome one in the hands of actor Anthony Mackie. You can tell he's genuinely excited and honored to be a part of the Marvel movie world. He takes the part seriously and pours everything he's got into the role. It also helps that he doesn't wear a red jumpsuit with wings attached to it. His suit in "Captain American: The Winter Soldier" is much more advanced and modernized.

It's pretty obvious in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" that they're setting up Scarlet Johansson's Black Widow character for her own film. I just can't see the idea ever getting off the ground. I could see her guest-starring in episodes of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." where they explore her checkered past while she helps that team out on a few missions. I can't comprehend how the character could carry a full-length theatrical release.

The special effects and CGI in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" look good for the most part. There are a couple scenes where human movements look a little sketchy. Overall, the real and the digitized blend well together.

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout. It also has some bad language sprinkled throughout. There's nothing here you wouldn't expect after seeing all the other Marvel movies.

As "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" came to a close, I found myself wanting more. I was already anticipating its follow-up and felt anxious knowing I'm going to have to wait another couple of years before getting some closure to the story it left open-ended. "The Avengers: Age of Ultron" will at least serve as an appetizer when it comes to our Star-Spangled hero. I want a third giant helping of the main course again, though!

The Invoking (Sader Ridge)

Southern gothic supernatural thrillers seem to be gaining some momentum lately. "Last Kind Words" and "A Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia" immediately come to mind. The middle of nowhere is a cheap and easy place to make a movie. There's no denying that there's very little creepier than the darkness of the woods and the isolation felt in a rural setting. RLJ Entertainment's "The Invoking" is another fine example of what can be done with a small budget in the backwoods of any state's countryside.

Samantha Harris and her friends embark on a trip to visit a house she's inherited from a family she's never met. As soon as they arrive, Samantha starts having terrifying visions she can't explain. Are these haunting experiences trying to reveal something about her forgotten past? Can she trust the young man commissioned to watch over her new property as he slowly opens up to Samantha about their past friendship she can't remember?

Producer/Director/Co-writer Jeremy Berg knows how to drum up scares without the use of fancy special effects and CGI. His style is reminiscent of Hitchcock and the likes. He works more on your nerves and jump scares than most new filmmakers. Sometimes having less money to work with makes you try harder to create genuine scares without the crutch of modern technology.

Although it's not rated, "The Invoking" does contain material some might find objectionable. There's violence, adult situations, and language in it. However, no nudity is found. I would say if it were put in front of the MPAA, they'd give it a PG-13 rating.

"The Invoking" is a worthy entry in the gothic horror sub-genre. The movie is made even scarier because it takes place in a house that's fairly modern (think 1980s style) versus the overused centuries-old mansion we're so used to seeing in supernatural films. Although it's not perfect and some of the acting is rough, the overall atmosphere and story trumps any negatives you could pick out.


Ever since "Jaws" hit theaters in 1975, filmmakers have attempted to cash in on the killer sea monster craze. We've seen three sequels to the original Steven Spielberg classic alone. When sharks lost their charm, other sea beasts were drafted to take their place in the world of horror cinema. "Orca, the Killer Whale" and "Piranha" come to mind right away. Now we can add the over-sized razor-toothed catfish of "Beneath" to the list.

A group of high school students head out to Black Lake in celebration of their graduation. Ignoring the folk tales of the area, the bunch load up a small fishing boat and paddle their way to the other side. As their partying and swimming gets increasingly noisier, something deep in the depths of the lake is awakened and begins looking for its next meal.

It's very apparent Director Larry Fessenden was influenced by "Jaws" and "Piranha" when bringing "Beneath" to the screen. The aerial camera shots showing the creature swim below the boat are ripped right out of a page of the cinematographer's diary for "Jaws." As a matter of fact, most of the camera angles and shots in this are taken straight out of Spielberg's original.

The great thing about "Beneath" is that it isn't content with being an homage to "Jaws" and "Piranha." Writers Tony Daniel and Brian D. Smith make the movie a study on human relationships and the lengths we would go to for self-preservation. It makes for a pleasantly uncomfortable and shockingly horrific viewing experience.

"Beneath" is not rated, but should be stamped with an R for gore, violence, language, and adult situations. There's no sex or nudity, but the kids do talk about it. Although there's a lot of blood, it's no more than what we've seen in any of the "Jaws" films.

As far as any sort of messages "Beneath" might be trying to get across to audiences, I would say there's maybe a couple. You can't trust anyone comes to mind. It also makes you think about what sort of horrible things people will do to save their own skin. Let's just say that in the end, nobody's a good guy or girl and everyone's to blame for something in "Beneath."

Imagine a character study the likes of Hitchcock's "Lifeboat" blended with the bloody terror of "Jaws" and fun of "Piranha" all swirled together in a small indie horror package. If you can do that, then you have an idea of what to expect from "Beneath." Just don't go into the movie with any hope of a positive outcome. You won't find that here for sure.

The Appearing

I'm always fascinated by a movie that starts off with the use of a Bible verse. Sometimes it's just a dramatic way to kick things off and means nothing more than that. Other times, the filmmaker is alluding to a message we'll be exploring for the next couple of hours or so. As a Christian, I like when that happens. Lionsgate's newest indie horror film "The Appearing" really surprised and impressed me using this approach.

After the death of their daughter, Rachel (Emily Brooks)and Michael (Will Wallace) move to a small town to forget the past and start over. Shortly after they arrive, Rachel begins seeing disturbing visions that seem linked to an old abandoned house. It's the very same location of several disappearances over the years. As Michael digs deeper into the vanishings, he discovers there might be a more sinister power at work.

"The Appearing" works because it isn't just a possession film. We get plenty of those every year already. It's successful at holding your attention because it blends the aspects of movies like "The Exorcist" with ingredients from supernatural thrillers and mysteries with surprise twists in the end.

Lead actor Emily Brooks does an adequate job of portraying the schizophrenic and seemingly bi-polar Rachel. What she lacks in one area she more than makes up for when she lets her hair down and gets demented for the camera. "The Appearing" also stars Patrick Swayze's brother, Don. He puts in a heartfelt effort as the God-fearing Sheriff Hendricks. Dean Cain plays a doctor who believes everything can be explained away by science.

Extra points are awarded to "The Appearing" because of the religious and Biblical angle it comes to the table with. The people that are possessed in the movie aren't just innocent bystanders. Each one harbored some sort of deep-seeded anger or other negative emotion that acted as a doorway for the demonic force to let itself in. The film serves as a reminder to everyone that we're all capable of committing heinous acts. It's only through faith and self-control that we can overcome temptation and wrong-doing.

"The Appearing" is rated R for bloody horror violence. However, it includes language and adult situations as well. It's not a movie you'll probably want to use as a study tool for your youth group. Just because it promotes Christian themes doesn't mean it's appropriate for all ages.

For those looking for a movie that reaches out past the boundaries of most demonic possession films, "The Appearing" adds the spices you can find in supernatural outings and crime thrillers. While it's not perfect, enough effort was put into creating the movie to warrant a viewing by any fan of multiple horror sub-genres. It also provides some food for thought in a spiritual sense, which is never a bad thing.


There was a time in the early to mid-1990s when Disney started making animated movies without musical numbers. I can't tell you how relieved I was. I'm not a big fan of musicals at all. Do I like a lot of the classic films the Mouse House released early on? Of course I do. However, that's not to say I don't take a restroom break or frantically search for the remote to fast-forward through the songs in movies like "The Jungle Book," "Cinderella," and "Sleeping Beauty."

Parents who share my aversion to musicals can now look forward to suffering through even worse tunes geared towards the pop-infected ears of tween and teens everywhere thanks to "Frozen." Before I go into my personal tirade against "Frozen," let me state something very clearly. Children and musical-loving adults will adore the film. Besides its new style of animation, this is a classic Disney outing through and through. There's a princess, a prince, an inanimate object that talks, the dumb peasant who deserves love, and a kingdom in the grips of fear and trouble.

Without going into any spoilers, I will say that I was impressed with one plot twist that set "Frozen" aside from other Disney movies. Since I'm reflecting on the good found, I'll also mention that the snowman Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad delivering his best impersonation of Jonah Hill I've ever heard) provided just enough comic relief to keep me on the inner edge of sanity.

Let's take a moment to reflect on the incredibly annoying theme song "Let It Go." Where we once would get operatic and symphonic numbers, we're now cursed to slosh through a whiny pop track tailor-made to be played to death on top 40 radio stations for eternity. Entertainment Weekly's Marc Snetiker described the song as "an incredible anthem of liberation." Liberation from what? Being a cartoon character that freezes stuff with her hands? Just keep the gloves on and get over it!

If you have kids who enjoyed "Tangled" and "Brave," then "Frozen" will give them something else to watch. Parents who loved those films will embrace this one as well. If you're like me, you'll find yourself darting out of the room every time someone turns it on.

In Fear
In Fear(2014)

Although it's easy to see why "in Fear" was chosen to be showcased at the event, it still doesn't quite measure up and falls short of taking home any awards. While it does its job by putting audiences in the grip of fear and tension, you're still left feeling much like the tormented couple lost while driving through the woods. I begged the question, "Where is this going?" as I couldn't shake the sensation of going around in circles and not getting anywhere.

Tom and Lucy have known each other for two weeks. Wanting to get acquainted with each other, they embark on a road trip to a music festival in Ireland. The two decide to stay at an out-of-the-way hotel for a romantic evening alone before meeting up with their friends. After being led out into the middle of nowhere, they discover they've been the victims of someone's sick and deranged plans to torture and stalk them.

"In Fear" is rated R for some disturbing violent content and terror, and language. There are really no adult situations or nudity involved. Tom and Lucy kiss at one point and that's it. Things definitely get very tense at times and you're left sympathizing with the couple as they suffer through one frightening ordeal after the next.

Although it's far from perfect, "In Fear" does what its creator wanted it to. It strikes fear and anxiety in the hearts of the viewing audience. There's no way you can watch it without experiencing some level of stress or panic.

The problem isn't really with the establishment of the atmosphere "In Fear" exudes. What it's missing is any sense of bearing or end goal. We're given a series of tragic and formidable events spread out through 85 minutes with no sort of plausible course trajectory or satisfying motive for the torment being brought down on them.

Odd Thomas
Odd Thomas(2014)

RLJ/Image Entertainment brings Dean Koontz's best-selling supernatural thriller "Odd Thomas" to life for the big-screen. Judging the movie on its own merits without having read any of the novels, the low-budget movie is an entertaining "who-dun-it" featuring ghostly and ghastly guest stars. It feels like it might be better suited to being a weekly television series.

Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) is a short-order cook in the seemingly lovely little town of Pico Mundo, California. However, both Pico Mundo and Odd Thomas harbor dark secrets. Odd has a "gift" for seeing dead people and sensing evil. The town is a haven for brutal murders, supernatural mayhem, and a feeding ground for the festering demonic specters known as bodachs. Odd teams up with his girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn (Addison Timlin) and Detective Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe) to solve a string of killings that somehow tie together.

While I was watching "Odd Thomas," I was jolted by my recollection that Stephen Sommers directed it. The SAME Stephen Sommers who produced and directed the blockbuster "The Mummy" movies and helmed "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra." You'd never know it from the independent atmosphere this carries.

You can tell "Odd Thomas" was a labor of love for Sommers and the proof is in the credits. Not only did he direct, but he produced and wrote it. There are rumors of a lot of drama in production, but the director saw it through to the end and worked with the budget put before him.

Although the budget might've been small in comparison to Stephen Sommers' other franchise films, the special effects of "Odd Thomas" are actually close to on par with those blockbusters. In comparison to the CGI seen today, they're a tiny bit aged but get the job done. The only noticeable digital creatures are the bodachs and they actually look a heck of a lot better than the Scorpion King did in "The Mummy Returns."

"Odd Thomas" isn't rated, but does include violence, gore, adult situations, and language. For all intents and purposes, it should hold a PG-13 rating at the most. There's nothing too graphic and no nudity is included.

I felt "Odd Thomas" reflected some Christian beliefs well. The character speaks about how he believes in Heaven. The bodachs are obviously demonic forces that are attracted to evil, much like the fallen angels read about in the Bible. Odd also tells the killer's victims they're going to a better place. They dissolve into either glittering dust or flowers and float off after they've made peace.

"Odd Thomas" might not be as good as it should've been had it been given more financial backing. For what it is, I found the movie charming, gleefully campy in places, and ripe for another entry in the series if this one can just pay back its budget. It's not often Dean Koontz has liked the movie adaptations of his books, but he actually likes this one.

"I'm just happy. You never know if anything's going to be a success or not, but I can watch this again. And the rest of them I couldn't watch again. Some [of my movies] I couldn't watch the first time," Koontz told website io9. If anyone knows if his book was adapted correctly, it would have to be the author that created the world and its characters. I still think it would work great as a weekly TV series, but I'll settle for a movie every year.

The Jungle Book

Mowgli is a boy raised in the jungle since infancy by the animals. As he grows older, he journeys into the wild to discover who he is. He's accompanied on his trip by a bear named Baloo, who helps keep him safe as he meets all sorts of friendly and malicious creatures along the way.

I wish I could say I appreciate this as much as others. However, I don't find it as charming and irresistible as some. There's too much song and dance and not enough action for my tastes. Kids love it and that's all that counts in the end.

Battle of the Damned

Ever since "The Expendables" graced theater screens, it seems every veteran tough-guy star from the 1980s has become hirable again. Dolph Lundgren has starred in his fair share of straight-to-DVD action flicks in the past few years. He now moves into the sci-fi / horror B-movie arena with "Battle of the Damned." A movie that has Lundgren kicking butt and blowing away the "enemy" can only get better when you add zombies AND robots to the equation.

Commander Max Gatling enters Thailand to rescue an industrialist's daughter from the clutches of populace infected with a virus that turns them into ravenous cannibals. He soon finds himself leading a small band of survivors across the destroyed city to be picked up by helicopter. As the masses of ferocious sick begin to overtake them, he does what any desperate hero would do to keep himself and his rag-tag group alive... he trains battle-ready robots to help take out every hungry creature they see.

There's plenty of action, gore, and wanton destruction in "Battle of the Damned." It's about as good as it gets when diving into the world of sci-fi / horror B-movies. Did I mention robots? The real surprise with the robots is that they actually look good for a low-budget indie flick. The CGI used for them is quite convincing.

"Battle of the Damned" is rated R for violence throughout and language. There's lots of digitally enhanced blood splatter as Lundgren chops and shoots his way through the crowds of walking dead. Of course you can't kill zombies without shouting expletives. One thing the movie doesn't have is any nudity or sensuality.

"Battle of the Damned" will entertain anyone who loves B-movies that fit into the action, sci-fi, and horror genre. The best way to describe it is as a mix of "Night of the Living Dead" and "Escape from New York" with a sprinkle of "Battlestar Galactica" when it comes to the robots. If you can excuse some of the bogus digitally-enhanced explosions and fire, you'll find yourself pleasantly distracted for an hour and a half.


There's nothing fanboys and girls hate more than remakes of classic properties deemed untouchable. I can think of several reboots which were greeted with disdain when they were released. "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "Clash of the Titans," "Dark Shadows," and "Friday the 13th" are just a few that come to mind right away. However, I've rarely heard more condemnation and anger than what's been targeted at the reboot of "RoboCop." After seeing the film, I can tell you it's completely unjustifiable.

Director José Padilha and screenwriter Joshua Zetumer have successfully delivered a "RoboCop" for a new generation. The movie is packed with violence and truckloads of action, but doesn't falter by watering down the meat of the message and the questions it asks. "What makes a man?" "Does man have a soul; and if so, where?" "Do we have free will?" In between all the gunfire, pyrotechnics, and CGI, we get asked some philosophical questions that might leave you thinking after the credits roll.

Is the biting satire of the original "RoboCop" present in the remake? No, it isn't. I don't think it was the intentions of Director Padilha to mimic the style of the first movie. That would come across as a sad attempt at trying to be as good as the 1987 version. I choose to look at this "RoboCop" as a completely different animal. It's not trying to be as good as the original. It's trying to be its own thing and rest on its own merits.

I really enjoyed how they delved more into the personal life and emotional damage done to Alex Murphy's family when he's transformed into "RoboCop." It's heart wrenching when he sees his wife and child for the first time after his rehabilitation and conversion. I couldn't help but be shocked at the sight of how much of his actual body is left when they show it in graphic nature.

None of the actors are just walking through their roles in "RoboCop." You can tell each one was personally invested in proving to the world that this new version had something to add to the franchise. Joel Kinnaman portrays Alex Murphy as a man trying desperately to find a balance between maintaining the tough ways of being a street cop with the gentle and loving attitude it takes to be a father and husband. Michael Keaton is just as flailing and kooky as he's ever been. Gary Oldman perfectly captures the role of a doctor torn between doing right and wrong while dancing in a gray area becoming more and more dark.

The movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality, and some drug material. Is there as much gore as the original movie? To be honest, no there isn't. The graphic nature of the 1987 version is toned down. I don't think it affects the quality of the movie, though.

"RoboCop" is a perfect blend of action movie mayhem, sci-fi excitement, and emotional drama. It's proof that people can use their heads and evaluate social issues while watching things blow up. I have to say that the CGI work was some of the best I've seen as well. This is one remake worth taking the time to see, but with an open mind not expecting a carbon-copy of the look and feel of the 1987 original.


Many people think the "Spider-Man" trilogy was director Sam Raimi's first crack at the comic book and super hero genres. Although Darkman was an original creation of the "Evil Dead" helmsman, the character was born out of Raimi's frustration at not being able to acquire the rights to make a Batman or Shadow movie. In essence, he worked backwards. The movie came first and then the comic followed.

Dr. Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) is on the brink of discovering the secret to creating synthetic skin when his laboratory is raided and destroyed by mobsters. Left for dead, the scientist is scarred and deformed beyond recognition. He takes on the alter ego of Darkman, using his synthetic skin to take on the identity of his enemies and exact revenge upon them for his plight.

"Darkman" Collector's Edition is rated R for violence and language. If the movie were put out today, it easily would've been given a PG-13 rating. There's no nudity or adult situations.

Some people might be offended by Darkman's willingness to take a life. Unlike Superman or even Batman these days, the character has no problem dropping bad guys from a flying helicopter or blowing them up in his lab. You might say he lives by the credo "An eye for an eye."

The movie also delves into the concept of unconditional love. Can Dr. Westlake's girlfriend (Frances McDormand) accept him the way he looks now? It also begs the question, "What are you willing to give up to get revenge?"

"Darkman" is a great example of Sam Raimi's early work as he climbed the ladder to become one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood. It's a testimony to the perseverance of a filmmaker doing what he wants. If Raimi couldn't make his Batman or Shadow movie, he'd just combine the two into one character and do his own thing. He was successful as is proven by the large cult following the movie has.

Justice League: War

DC Comics shook up the comic book world in 2011 by completely rebooting their entire line of comic book titles. It was a shake-up that left many fanboys and girls angry, while others just embraced the change and moved on. I was one of the folks who jumped on the train and went along for the ride.

With the monthly titles continuing to develop, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. trudged on putting out animated movies the same way they always had. None of the modifications made to the new Universe were addressed... until now. It's 2014 and the time has come for the New 52 world to bleed over into the DC animated cosmos with "Justice League: War."

When agents of a devastating intergalactic power named Darkseid start planting doorways to another world, a team of super heroes must reluctantly join forces. Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and Shazam come together to keep the armies of the evil Lord of Apokolips from entering our cosmos. Can the costumed champions stay united long enough to save our planet from certain doom?

Let's address a few issues quickly before moving on with the review. Aquaman is replaced by Shazam in the animated adaptation of the graphic novel "Justice League: Origin." By the end of "War," it's evident they wanted to give the King of Atlantis a much bigger introduction. Also, if you're expecting a familiar voice cast you better forget it. Moving into the New 52 obviously means moving into new vocal territory.

"Justice League: War" is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and some language. There's nothing out of the ordinary for super hero movies to mention here. Parents need to remember that just because it's a cartoon doesn't mean it's appropriate for everyone.

Although it's voice cast will likely take a bit of getting used to for people accustomed to the past DC television shows and movies, "Justice League: War" will entertain with non-stop action and quick pacing. It almost seems like it moves along too quickly at times if that's possible. The teaser during the credits definitely got me excited for the next installment, so be sure and watch until the end.

Escape Plan
Escape Plan(2013)

Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger return to do what they do best in Director Mikael Håfström's "Escape Plan." They kick butt, blow things up, kill a lot of folks, and rise victorious in the end. It's a fun ride fueled by enough testosterone to power a bulldozer and knows its target audience: men.

Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) spends his life breaking out of maximum security prisons. When he's asked to find a way to escape from a super-prison, he can't resist the challenge. After being locked up, Ray realizes he's been set up. His only chance of escape is with the help of a convict (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who wants out as bad as Breslin does.

"Escape Plan" is rated R for violence and language throughout. There are no sexual situations or nudity to be found. What we do get is a whole lot of shooting, stabbing, and bare-knuckle brawling. It's definitely NOT fun for the whole family.

If you're a big fan of overblown action films of the 1980s, you'll love "Escape Plan." Imagine Stuart Gordon's "Fortress" blended with "Escape from Alcatraz" and you have an idea of what to expect. It's not set in the future, but the technology used for the prison gives the film that sort of feeling.

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

Do you love slasher films as much as I do? Do you find yourself blocking off every Friday the 13th off for screenings of Jason Voorhees' many killing sprees like it's a holiday? If you answered yes, chances are you love other movies in the genre such as "Halloween," "My Bloody Valentine," "The Burning," and others.

One of those "others" is a little franchise that goes by the name "A Nightmare on Elm Street." The burned up and razor-gloved Freddy Krueger has come to be known as a member of what many would call the horror trinity. The other two members of this infamous trio are the hockey-masked Voorhees and creepy William Shatner-faced Michael Myers.

Having already tackled the "Friday the 13th" series through his extensive documentary "Crystal Lake Memories," Director Daniel Farrands teamed up with Editor Andrew Kasch to provide the same service for fans of the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise. Together, the two helm a 238-minute journey behind-the-scenes of this equally terrifying and fun bunch of films with "Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy."

Passing fans of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" might find "Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy" a bit tedious and long-winded for their taste. However, hardcore Freddy fanatics will find themselves camped out on the couch for hours taking in all the captivating background information on one of the three largest horror franchises in the world. Just hope you don't accidentally drift off into dreamland while watching it all!

Die, Monster, Die!

I do love the old American International Pictures films from the 1960s. Many of them were directed by Roger Corman, starred Vincent Price, and were based on Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft stories. What did AIP do when they couldn't rely on Corman or Price to head up one of these moneymaking projects? They replaced them with other reliable talent like Boris Karloff and Set Designer / first time Director Daniel Haller.

The outcome of this pairing was 1965's strange mix of sci-fi paranoia and classic haunted house themes entitled "Die, Monster, Die!" Imagine a 1950's space invader film like "The Quartermass Xperiment" and "The Thing" colliding with the setting of "The Haunted Palace."

An American scientist (Nick Adams) is summoned to the secluded estate of his fiancée (Suzan Farmer). Her home sits on the edge of a crater in the center of a countryside devastated by what appears to be fire. Upon arriving, he is met by the woman's embittered and secretive father (Boris Karloff). After he's urged by his girlfriend's sickly mother (Freda Jackson) to take her as far away as possible, he begins investigating the mysteries surrounding the old house and its devastated grounds.

"Die, Monster, Die!" is not rated. There are some rather graphic and gory death scenes which would merit a PG rating now. They're not going to freak out anyone who's used to the realistic effects of today. However, they quite possibly could frighten children.

Although not directly related to the storyline, I found "Die, Monster, Die's" use of Biblical and religious elements fascinating. The mother talks quite openly about the sins of the father coming down on the son. She also states that one can be a man of strong faith and lose it only to become a tool of the Devil.

In hindsight, "Die, Monster, Die!" is a unique little film that isn't what it appears to be from the get-go. Screenwriter Jerry Sohl and Director Haller did their best to lead audiences in one direction before banging them over the head in the climax of the movie with a twist on the haunted house genre. It suffers a little from pacing, but one could almost explain that away to the era it was made in. People didn't demand such quick delivery in the 1960s and 1970s.


After nearly a 10 year gap between films, many were wondering if we really needed a sequel to "The Chronicles of Riddick." The 2004 follow-up to "Pitch Black" veered off from the simple "fight-to-survive" scenario and took us into a world overstuffed with CGI razzle dazzle. What would Vin Diesel and Director Dave Twohy do with the third installment in the franchise, simply titled "Riddick?"

What they've done is return the lead character to what he does best. I can't completely say this is a good thing. Riddick is a survivor. Whether you think him to be good or bad, the guy has a way of saving himself while "accidently" saving others at the same time. Strange thing is he's always rescuing people he doesn't even care about.

Director/Writer David Twohy has found a way to mash together elements of "Castaway" and "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" with "Aliens" and "Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation." In the first part of the film, the title character is banished from the city of the Necromongers. He's making his way solo through the desert fighting off all sorts of alien beasts. The second half has Riddick trapped in an abandoned outpost with a group of mercenaries and bounty hunters while fending off water monsters that have surrounded the motley bunch.

The CGI and practical effects in "Riddick" aren't so bad. They're a lot easier to stomach than what we were served up in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." The visual effects are scaled way back from what we saw in "The Chronicles of Riddick."

You can tell Vin Diesel loves the character of Riddick. He fully embraces the role and savors every moment onscreen. Katee Sackhoff portrays one of the bounty hunters like she's playing a grimier version of Starbuck from "Battlestar Galactica."

"Riddick" is rated R for strong violence, language, and some sexual content/nudity. The only nudity is an extremely brief and very unnecessary shot of Katee Sackhoff in the shower. The rest is just sci-fi gore and bounty hunters cussing like sailors.

For the most part, "Riddick" gives the viewer a sense of déjà vu. The survivalist beginning of the movie does keep it from completely falling into retread territory. However, I'm still pretty sure it wasn't the sequel people wanted from this franchise. I can't tell you exactly what I wanted from it, but it was something different from this.


I still remember my friends talking about the surprisingly good "Witchboard" when it first came out in 1986. 28 years later, it still both holds up well and reminds viewers of the cheese served up in the greatest decade of horror.

Linda Brewster is introduced to a centuries old tool of communication with the dead called a Ouija board. Although warned of the danger it holds, she begins summoning the spirit of a 10-year-old boy named David. She soon realizes that her dalliances with the dead were a mistake as the presence becomes stronger and violent. What sinister entity did Linda let loose in our world?

"Witchboard" is presented in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1) and DTS-HD Audio Mono. Like most of the Blu-ray upgrades we get from this era, the movie looks and sounds better than it ever has. However, its digital transfer hasn't sucked all the "real" film feeling out of it. Its upgraded audio enhances every scream and dramatic crash of the musical score.

Loads of bonus material is included with "Witchboard." New audio commentary is provided by Writer/Director Kevin Tenney and actors Stephen Nichols, Kathleen Wilhoite, and James Quinn. Additional commentary features Tenney, Executive Producer Walter Josten, and Producer Jeff Geoffray chatting about the film. There are also new interviews with Kevin Tenney, Tawny Kitaen, J.B. Luebsen, James Quinn, Walter Josten, Todd Allen, and others. A vintage "Making of 'Witchboard'" featurette, theatrical trailer, TV spots, still gallery, and much more can be found.

"Witchboard" is rated R for violence, language, adult situations, and nudity. Everything you would expect from a 1980s horror film is what you're served here. Is the nudity necessary? Of course not, but sadly producers felt it was a needed item to sell genre films at the time.

Most religious folks will definitely give "Witchboard" a thumbs down, and with good reason. The movie doesn't really tell people not to play with Ouija boards. It warns that you shouldn't play with them alone. This can cause one to become obsessed and then possessed by the spirit attached to it. What people should take away from the film is that it's just not smart to try communicating with the dead or get involved with the occult or anything with the power to unleash a malevolent entity.

"Witchboard" is full of all the wonderful schlock you would expect from a horror film released in 1986. There are naïve characters doing incredibly dumb things and meeting horribly entertaining demises. Why would someone continue to communicate with a spirit that is growing constantly more violent and active? How many weird accidents have to happen around you before you realize something's not right? Also, was it really legal to smoke in the waiting room of a hospital in 1986? None of those questions are answered in the movie. However, there are some fun scares to be had in the journey to its climax.

Night of the Demons

Weirdo party girl Angela (Amelia Kinkade) invites a group of school friends to a Halloween party at the secluded Hull House. It's the perfect place to host the get-together, considering it was once a funeral home with a mysterious past rooted in the occult. It doesn't take long before the good times go bad, as each attendee becomes possessed by demons or killed by them.

I remember seeing "Night of the Demons" back in the early 1990s and thinking it was absolutely awful in every way. I thought the acting was bad. I thought the special effects were unbelievably cheesy. Watching it again now, I realized that the acting really WAS bad... really bad. However, I would categorize it as "so bad, it's good." I was completely wrong about the special effects. Every severed limb and gory sequence is handled with care and efficiency.

There certainly is a lot of blood dripping and oozing out of people. There's also some full-frontal nudity and these characters curse like sailors. It's pretty standard stuff for a 1980s horror film.

The movie might have demons, but don't expect anything remotely theologically sound from a religious standpoint. That's not the point of "Night of the Demons." Nothing is to be taken seriously in this fun and entertaining grade-B flick. I guess you could say the message of the movie is don't conjure demons or mess with the occult.

"Night of the Demons" is a near-perfect example of schlock 1980s comedy/horror with parts that will have you laughing out loud. It also reminds the viewer how much fun movies were when there were practical effects versus everything being CGI the way it is today.


"The Outing" is the edited and shortened version of 1987's "The Lamp." Filled with idiotic teens doing even more idiotic things in a closed museum, it revolves around an evil genie released from its bottle to wreak havoc. There are some great scenes in the film, which is basically your typical teen slasher flick with supernatural elements added in. You can't help but feel like this would make a brilliant companion for a double feature with "Leprechaun."

The Vagrant
The Vagrant(1992)

"The Vagrant" stars Bill Paxton in the role of a yuppie that is haunted by a deformed homeless man after he moves into his new house. Talk about a fun 1990's black comedy with some nice thrills and chills. Paxton is fabulous as the anxiety-driven suit being terrorized by the deliciously vile Marshall Bell playing the vagrant.


1980's "The Godsend" is the British equivalent of "The Bad Seed." It's obviously not as well-executed as the 1958 original, but the creepy little girl (Wilhelmina Green ) causing all the commotion is effective and gives you goose bumps at the proper times throughout its run time. Playing out a bit like "The Omen," the Marlowes adopt the baby girl a strange woman gives birth to in their home. Suspicions arise when the couple's other children begin dying from freak accidents that occur when little Bonnie is around.

What's the Matter with Helen?

1971's "What's the Matter with Helen?" is a great thriller that constantly reminds the viewer of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford's "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" Shelley Winters and Debbie Reynolds take the lead spinster roles that Davis and Crawford made famous and mold them into their own. Two women move to California to get a fresh start after their sons are indicted for murder in their small hometown. Just as they are settling into their new glamorous lives, the past comes back to haunt them in the form or mysterious calls and shadowy figures following them.

You're Next
You're Next(2013)

I've been excited to see "You're Next" ever since reading about it what seems like over a year ago. Sometimes it takes indie genre films a while to find the right distributor and studio that will give it a chance. "Everybody Loves Mandy Lane" is an extreme example of the long time it can take for a movie to make it from festival to Blu-ray and DVD release. I can honestly say that the wait for this home invasion/slasher/horror mutation was worth the wait.

Crispian (AJ Bowen) and his fiancee, Erin (Sharni Vinson), travel to his family's rural Missouri vacation house to celebrate the anniversary of his mother (Barbara Crampton) and father (Rob Moran). His brothers (Nicholas Tucci and Joe Swanberg) and sister (Amy Seimetz) join them at the secluded mansion for the festivities. As the dysfunctional bunch sit down for a nice dinner, they are brutally attacked by a trio of armed killers. The group must now find a way to survive and fight for their lives as the masked murderers attempt to pick them off one by one.

Although "You're Next" isn't perfect or the most original film to be released, it does its job as a thriller and slasher piece. There are some nice twists and turns in the plot, even if you see them heading at you. I compare it to riding a rollercoaster for the third time, but still being excited and taken aback when you hit that familiar loop you know is coming.

"You're Next" is rated R for strong bloody violence, language, and some sensuality/nudity. A lot of blood is shed as you would imagine. The nudity is brief and just at the beginning of the film. It's completely unnecessary as usual and adds nothing to the big picture.

There's really no message or lesson to be found in "You're Next." I guess you can stretch and say it warns not to trust anyone. It might also encourage some to take a survivalist class to learn how to live in the wild and be prepared for anything. Aside from that, it's just a gory and gruesome thrill ride.

"You're Next" will excite fans of home invasion films like "The Strangers," "Cherry Tree Lane," and even "The Purge." I consider it to be highly recommendable to genre enthusiasts. One bonus offered by the movie is the chance to see the director of the lame "The House of the Devil" flick, Ti West, die a horrible death. That's worth the price of admission alone.


Unlike many people, I have no problems with remakes of classic films. Who's to say that someone else's take on a character or universe wouldn't offer something new to the cinematic world? I actually enjoyed the "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "Friday the 13th," and "Fright Night" reboots. The upcoming "Robocop" looks to be entertaining as well.

I especially don't mind alternate versions of movies when they were originally based on a novel. Many times, one screenwriter or director's interpretations of a book can be vastly different from another's. Just look at the difference between the two "Total Recall," "The Shining," and "Salem's Lot" movies and mini-series. Many have said one follows the author's writings much better than the other. Unfortunately, that doesn't always mean we get a better movie just because it's more faithful. That's the case with Director Kimberly Peirce's vision of "Carrie."

Carrie's (Chloe Grace Moretz) life can only be described as miserable and lonely. An outcast in school, she finds no solace at home. Her overbearing mother (Julianne Moore) is a misled and overzealous religious nut that constantly condemns Carrie and everyone around her for the sins they have and will commit. When the young girl finds she possesses telekinetic powers, it opens up a whole new world to her. It won't be long before both her psychotic mother and bullying classmates will regret everything they've ever said and done to Carrie.

Several things are wrong with "Carrie." First off, it's very hard to buy Chloe Grace Moretz as a "Plain Jane" girl who is the blight of the school and the outcast everyone picks on. She's too cute to be playing this kind of character. That's not to say she didn't do her best in the role. I just think she was miscast.

Secondly, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was watching a made-for-TV movie through much of "Carrie." The camerawork and overall look reminded me of something I'd see on Lifetime. It's passible, but doesn't give the movie the cinematic feel it should have.

2013's "Carrie" does take viewers in a couple different directions that weren't explored in Brian De Palma's version of the story. However, that doesn't necessarily translate into being a good thing. Moretz's portrayal of Carrie doesn't leave the audience with the sense of empathy Sissy Spacek's did in the first adaptation of Stephen King's bestseller.

The title character's telekinetic powers are much more fantastical in the new "Carrie." Instead of just being able to move things with her mind, she can also stop cars in their tracks, fly, and cause the ground to split open. Whether more accurate to the book or not, these powers feel like a bit much and don't hold up well on film.

Finally, some of the special effects and CGI were less than spectacular. My biggest complaint is that the explosions suffered from looking a bit too artificial. More time in the image editing process could have cleaned these issues up.

The real diamond in the rough when it comes to "Carrie" is Julianne Moore. Her portrayal of Margaret White is absolutely wonderful and disturbing. She perfectly captures the desperation and lunacy the character bounces through with complete sincerity.

"Carrie" is rated R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language, and some sexual content. It's definitely gory enough for a restricted rating. There's one scene where two teens are having sex that was unnecessary. They didn't show any nudity, but it was still too much. If it weren't for that scene, this could easily have been rated PG-13.

I really respected the way Bible-based Christianity isn't thrown under the bus in 2013's "Carrie." As the mother is spouting off religious banter, Carrie points out that what the mother is reciting isn't even found in the Bible. This gives viewers a clearer picture that Margaret isn't practicing traditional living through scripture. Her beliefs are more cult-like and not limited to true Biblical teachings.

2013's "Carrie" isn't going to please people who loved Brian De Palma's version. It might be more accurate to Stephen King's written word, but it lacks the tension and emotion of the 1976 film. However, it will appeal to those who never saw the first screen adaptation of the book and teenagers will find it easy to relate to. It's safe to say they'll definitely think twice before bullying someone in the future after watching this.

Insidious: Chapter 2

"Insidious: Chapter 2" creeps its way on to Blu-ray and DVD for horror fans to either take in for the first time or enjoy again. Most people rightfully go into sequels with low expectations. They'll be happy to know that the bar has once again been raised by this thrilling follow-up to the highly successful 2011 haunted house spectacular.

The Lambert family moves into Josh's childhood house to escape the supernatural powers which manifested themselves in their own home. It doesn't take long to realize that whatever Josh (Patrick Wilson) brought back with him from the spirit world has followed them. The family must come together to uncover the dark secrets of the past and put an end to the otherworldly reign of terror they've been subjected to.

Director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell fabricate a disturbing and complex tale that perfectly extends the story started with the first "Insidious." They've crafted something that stays with you rather than just being a short-term influence on the viewer. I walked away from it thinking I was fairly safe from any after-effects. It wasn't until I slipped into bed, fell asleep, and started having nightmares that I began to comprehend the sort of long-term influence "Insidious: Chapter 2" had on me.

"Insidious: Chapter 2" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of terror and violence, and thematic elements. It's a straight-shooting supernatural horror film with no detours into adult situations or nudity. I wish more genre movies would borrow from this playbook.

If you look at "Insidious: Chapter 2" from the point of view of a Christian, it might not be for you. It features astral projection and communication with the dead. The afterlife begins with a pit-stop of sorts that seems to be purgatory. However, it's not a nice place as reflected in its dark and shadowy atmosphere. If you can look past these different elements and just enjoy a creepy flick for what it is, this is guaranteed to satisfy.

"Insidious: Chapter 2" starts off a little rough because of its awkward editing. The acting was a bit rusty at first as well. The movie finds its footing and makes up for all the above complaints. It has a well-thought out story that builds on, instead of repeats, what we experienced in "Insidious."

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I really wanted to have a good experience going into "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. " Ten minutes in, I realized it would not be the entry in the series that would change my opinion of the long-winded and over-stuffed franchise. It's more of the same sweeping scenes of walking, overlong action sequences, and bouts of mind-numbing dialogue that only a literature major or studied fanboy or girl could understand or even care about.

Bilbo Baggins and a band of dwarves follow the wizard Gandalf on a journey to reclaim a great kingdom conquered by a dragon. Not only has the dragon stolen their homeland, but he also greedily guards the dwarves' treasures of gold and a mystical jewel. Orcs and elves try to stop the group every step of the way.

Let me be the first to scream a couple of things from the mountain top and say what everyone else is too afraid to. First off, Peter Jackson is a liar. "There is no desolation by Smaug in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." If you count him banging around and destroying the Lonely Mountain as desolation, I guess you could excuse the title away. I would consider that to be grasping at straws, however.

Secondly, would somebody PLEASE stop Jackson from being allowed in the editing room when these movies are being trimmed and tightened up. It's very evident that Editor Jabez Olssen is working with a metaphorical gun to his head when working on both "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" films. ANYONE in their right mind knows there's at least 30 to 45 minutes of completely useless footage that could be chopped out of any of the films. Jackson should direct the movies and then all the footage needs to be taken away from him. He shouldn't be allowed to touch them after that.

Jackson overdoes everything in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." He's one of those directors that takes a good thing and runs it into the ground. He's the wife or mother whose family tells her they love her pasta, so she makes it for them every day from then on.

He knows we want to see Smaug. However, we don't necessarily want to watch him sneering and leering at Bilbo and the dwarves for fifty minutes.

This is the fifth film in "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" franchise. We get it. New Zealand is beautiful. You don't have to keep beating us over the head with long stretches of footage of people walking through the country over and over and over again.

Here are the few things I can say positive about "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." The special effects, for the most part, look great. However, they do devolve horribly in a scene where a gold statue is melting.

Any sequences featuring the Necromancer are awesome. Interestingly, I was told that those scenes aren't even in the book.

The first time you see Smaug is very impressive as well. Unfortunately, the novelty wears off after the first five minutes pass. Suddenly, you realize that the sequence with the dragon talking to Bilbo is going to be as tedious as the one in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" where they quiz each for twenty minutes.

There's nothing new to say about "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" that I haven't already covered in the past. It's long. It's tedious. There's a smothered hope that somewhere amongst the two hours and fifty minutes you invest is a good movie. "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" movies are both sources of frustration. Never have I been so ready for a film to be over, yet utterly frustrated by the way it ends. The "desolation" in the new movie's title doesn't even happen. I really hate these movies! Why do I keep going to see them?!?!?

Trail Of Blood

Lionsgate has done nobody a favor by releasing the catatonia-inducing slasher flick "Trail of Blood." Whoever tricked Joe Dante into putting his name on this should be awarded greatly. All we get here is a complete retread of every camping trip-gone-bad movie that's been forced on us since "Friday the 13th" hit theaters in 1980.

A group of friends head out on a weekend camping trip of drinking and debauchery. They've apparently never seen "The Burning," any of the 12 "Friday the 13th" movies, or the countless other slasher movies warning them this is a bad idea. They stumble on a couple who have been brutally murdered. As they try to figure out what to do, the group find themselves being held captive by a crazed Marine and his bleach-blond girlfriend. The two believe the bunch are responsible for the deaths of the slaughtered couple and plan to make them pay for it.

Yes, "Trail of Blood" really is as ho-hum and forgettable as it sounds. There's absolutely nothing here to get excited about. It looks like it was shot with a typical HD camera that anyone could pick up at an electronics store. Granted, the shooting quality doesn't look like it was the cinematographer's first time behind a lens. I'd say probably their third or fourth. One good thing is it's not a "found footage" film.

The only star actor in "Trail of Blood" is Robert Picardo. He must have had a large traffic ticket to pay off or used this as a means to grab some extra cash to play with while in Vegas or something. All I can say is Picardo is much too good to be doing drivel like this. He does a great job lingering behind trees and looking menacing, though.

"Trail of Blood" is rated R for strong bloody violence, language, brief nudity, and drug use. In other words, it's just like every other slasher movie released in the past few decades. Why would they break the stale mold here of all places?

I love slasher movies and I really don't feel like I ask much when watching them. However, when it's so obvious that you're following a checklist of things to do with no inspiration to go outside of the box, I completely lose interest. If you're going to pay homage to the great gory thrillers of the 1970s and 1980s, at least try to add something new to the formula.

The Horror Show

Although "The Horror Show" was marketed outside of the U.S. as a sequel
to the "House" movies, it has nothing to do with either of the previous
entries in the series. The only thing in common with those two is the
movie's production crew and the fact that it's about a house in which
supernatural happenings occur. There are a few unintentionally
hilarious parts to be found in the film, but overall it's a mess that
really comes unraveled in the end.

After seemingly dying in the electric chair, mass murderer Max Jenke
(Brion James) returns from the dead seeking revenge on the detective
who captured him, Lucas McCarthy (Lance Henriksen). The killer is now
in spirit form and able to manifest himself anywhere he pleases. He
begins terrorizing McCarthy's family with every intention of killing
them one by one. The desperate McCarthy must find a way to put a stop
to Jenke's bloody trail of retribution.

"The Horror Show" is rated R for violence, gore, adult situations,
nudity, and language. It's pretty much par for the course when it comes
to horror movies of the 1980s and 1990s. I'm positive it was mandatory
to have at least one nude scene in all of these types of films during
that era.

There are those who say it's all about the journey and not where you're
going. If that's a mantra you live by, "The Horror Show" may be worth a
watch for you. I would like to mention that throughout the film, Lance
Henriksen and Brion James do pour their hearts into their respective
roles. All I can say is it's nowhere near as entertaining as I remember
it being when I first saw it on cable back in the day. I'm rather
lenient when it comes to my horror and slasher films, but this was a
bigger mess than I'm able to make excuses for and just accept.

Are You in the House Alone?

In "Are You in the House Alone?!," teenager Gail (Kathleen Beller) begins receiving threatening phone calls and notes. At first, she and her friends believe them to be just cruel pranks. As the calls and letters become more aggressive, she starts fearing for her life. Who is stalking her and why?

I can't begin to tell you how tedious and slow "Are You in the House Alone?!" gets towards the end. The last 30 minutes are unbearable. The final six minutes trudged along at a snail's pace that has to be experienced to be believed. It's evident this was meant to be a social statement about rape and encouraging victims to speak out against their attackers. I'm not knocking it and think that's important. However, it would help if the movie didn't cause you to fall asleep before the message is fully delivered. Early appearances by Blythe Danner ("Meet the Parents") and Dennis Quaid ("Frequency") makes this a little easier to sit through.

The Initiation of Sarah

"The Initiation of Sarah" tells the tale of a college freshman (Kay Lenz) with telekinetic powers. She is pressured to join a sorority after her sister (Morgan Brittany) is recruited to a rival chapter run by a group of popular bullies. It just so happens that the house Sarah pledges is run by a witch (Shelley Winters). She wants to use the girl to exact revenge on the daughter (Morgan Fairchild) of the sorority girl that spurned her when she was a student 20 years earlier. Will Sarah give into the temptation to put her and the house mother's tormenting rivals in their place or resist the unrelenting anger brewing within her?

Although it's a bit slow, "The Initiation of Sarah" serves up some fun TV-safe scares. I can see this airing the week of Halloween in 1978 and doing quite well in the Nielsen ratings. No one can deny the influence "Carrie" had on this movie. Shelley Winters ("The Poseidon Adventure") effectively plays the creepy old house mother with diabolical plans for the naïve Sarah. Morgan Fairchild ("The Seduction") is perfect as the venomous leader of the mean sorority girls who pick on poor Sarah. Morgan Brittany ("Dallas") and Kay Lenz ("Moving Violation") are wonderful as the two sisters torn apart by their rival houses.


If you have a franchise that people love and you know it, there's only one thing to do. Exploit it by coming up with ways to expand on the concept to maximize the amount of money you can make from it. Disney took its "Cars" series into the sky with the Pixar-less "Planes" and instead of soaring high, the movie coasted along the lower atmosphere.

A crop-dusting plane named Rusty (Dane Cook) dreams of being a racer. There's only one problem with this: he's afraid of heights. A veteran fighter named Skipper takes Dusty under his wing and trains him to enter a prestigious race. Dusty's determination to participate in the event inspires his competitors to either love or hate him, leaving the outcome of the contest a mystery.

Those expecting Pixar animation quality from "Planes" will no doubt be disappointed. It doesn't have the same essence and depth audiences have come to expect from the studio that brought us "Cars," "Toy Story," and "The Incredibles." However, it will please the target demographic it was designed to. Parents might be disappointed in its presentation, but children won't notice the difference as they're captivated by the excitement on the screen.

Mickey's Christmas Carol

Although Charles Dickens' classic tale has been adapted for the screen dozens upon dozens of times, "Mickey's Christmas Carol" stands out as one of the best. Its use of everyone's favorite cartoon characters to bring the story to life is charming and the pace is perfect to keep the attention of children of all ages.

The greedy Ebenezer Scrooge (Scrooge McDuck) doesn't understand the meaning of Christmas. Four ghosts (Goofy, Jiminy Cricket, Willie the Giant, and Black Pete) visit him Christmas Eve to show the old miser the error of his ways. He'll also get a sneak peek of what he can expect if he keeps traveling down the same road in life.

I remember seeing "Mickey's Christmas Carol" when it came out paired with "The Rescuers." Talk about making someone feel old. It stands the test of time and remains as entertaining for the whole family as it was when it first hit movie screens.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

"Warm Bodies" Director Jonathan Levine's "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane" plays out like a typical slasher film for 75% of its run time is saved by a dose of indie charm and wit, some clever social commentary, and an ending you never see coming. It also gives actors Amber Heard ("Zombieland") and Michael Welch ("The Twilight Saga") a chance to shine brightly as the two main characters.

Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) is constantly pursued by every male in the small Texas high school she attends, much to the dismay of her best friend Emmet (Michael Welch). He has a secret crush on her. Mandy surprisingly accepts an invitation from her new-found friends to join them in a weekend getaway fueled by drugs and alcohol. Each guy fails when taking their turn trying to get together with Mandy. As the sun sets, a mysterious figure begins picking off the partiers one-by-one.

"All The Boys Love Mandy Lane" is justifiably rated R. It contains strong disturbing violence, pervasive drug and alcohol use, sexuality/nudity, and language - all involving teens. The movie would have you believe that all teens act in the manner shown onscreen. Not to sound like an old man, but I certainly hope not.

The kids are the bratty and bullying "cool" crowd and jocks in school and, as much as I hate saying it, didn't get much sympathy from me when getting axed. I'm not condoning violence towards anyone in real life. However, it sure looks good on film sometimes.

"All The Boys Love Mandy Lane" serve as social commentary on teenagers' obsessions with their appearances and fitting in. It also touches on the negative effects of unrequited love, deception, and rejection. Although the film isn't perfect by any means, it tackles a lot of issues for a micro-budgeted independent slasher flick.

Saturn 3
Saturn 3(1980)

From its first shot of the underside of a space cruiser flying into the frame towards a planet, you feel the influences of "Alien," "Star Wars," and every other genre film of its type put out in the 1970s. The only difference is in the lower budget the studio had to spend on models, props, and other special effects.

Scientist Adam (Kirk Douglas) and his colleague/lover Alex are stationed on an experimental hydroponics research station on one of the moons of Saturn. Their peaceful existence is interrupted by the arrival of Captain Benson (Harvey Keitel). He's been sent to assemble a robot named Hector who will likely replace Adam in the hopes of making the station run more efficiently. It slowly becomes obvious the robot has a mind of its own. It will stop at nothing to take over the station and liberate itself from the control of any humans.

"Saturn 3" is rated R for violence, language, adult situations, drug use, and brief nudity. The brief nudity is basically a flash of Farah Fawcett's breasts and the butt of Kirk Douglas. Both are unnecessary and add nothing to the story. Harvey Keitel and Hector both lust over the scantily-clad Fawcett. Keitel tells her that on Earth, everyone is promiscuous in the future. They've come to all just enjoy each other sexually with no inhibitions.

To common everyday movie audiences, "Saturn 3" will come across as just another misstep for any of the actors and filmmakers involved. Cult classic enthusiasts will understand it for what it is. It's an overlooked and slightly damaged gemstone worthy of its place next to "Meteor," "Outland," "Lifeforce" and other forgotten treasures of the era.

Red 2
Red 2(2013)

"Red 2" hits Blu-ray and DVD and begs the question, "Does it live up to its predecessor?" All of the gang from the original is back for more action hijinks minus Morgan Freeman and Karl Urban. While this sequel doesn't hold the same charm, it still makes for an entertaining diversion from the anxieties of real life as we're taken globe-trotting around the world for a couple of hours.

Ex-CIA Black Ops agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and his girlfriend (Mary-Louise Parker) find themselves teaming up with their old friends to find a portable nuclear device that went missing. They soon discover they're in a race against time with other organizations wanting to get their hands on the deadly weapon. The adventures take them around the world in their dangerous search as they try to stay alive amongst the crossfire of friends and foes.

The audio and video transfers for "Red 2" are wonderful. The movie is presented in 1080p High-Definition (2.40:1). The picture is clean, vibrant, and easy on the eyes. The 7.1 Dolby Digital Surround drops viewers right into the thick of the action with plenty of explosions and gunfire to keep them alert.

Some might feel "Red 2" is a little light in the special features department. "The 'Red 2' Experience" takes audiences behind-the-scenes with an array of featurettes centered on the weapons, cast, and stunts in the movie. A gag reel and deleted scenes are the only other items included.

"Red 2" is rated PG-13 and with good reason. There's a lot of blood and violence as one would expect from an action/spy thrill-ride. Adult language is used as well. In a world of over-the-top R-rated action flicks, "Red 2" is really a rather tame good time for the mature members of your family.

I couldn't help thinking something was missing from "Red 2." It feels like a reunion with characters you came to love in the original. At the same time you still mourn the absence of Morgan Freeman and Karl Urban. Anthony Hopkins does a relatively good job filling their shoes with his charisma as the scientist who created the lost nuclear device. While it's technically more of the same that we got from the first film, "Red 2" has enough humor and energy to keep viewers interested.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The much-anticipated follow-up to "The Hunger Games" arrives in theaters and many wonder if it lives up to its hype. With a new director taking over for Gary Ross, it's only fair that many have reservations as to whether or not "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" can live up to the high expectations of audiences and critics. I, for one, feel that the movie succeeds in entertaining and keeping viewers on the edge of their seats (if they haven't read the book already, off course).

The celebration of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) proves short-lived after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games incites rebellion in the Districts of Panem. The two find themselves drafted into the 75th Annual Games, where they must battle all the past victors. Dubbed the Quarter Quell, it's part of a scheme the President (Donald Sutherland) has hatched to rid the world of the winners of the Games and put an end to the rebellion which could change the very way of life he's helped to establish.

Director Frances Lawrence ("I Am Legend," "Constantine") makes the world of Suzanne Collins' beloved novels his own with "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." Gone is the shaky cam vibe felt in Gary Ross's original film. It's replaced here with steady and sweeping camera work that gives the audience a third-person perspective of all the action and drama.

Let me be clear from the get-go. I haven't read "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," so my response to what unfolded onscreen comes from that perspective. That being said, I found the first half of the movie to be highly engaging and entertaining. A lot of time is spent developing the story and characters and setting the mood for the film.

The second half of the movie takes us into more familiar territory. I don't want to say that it becomes predictable, as new scenarios are introduced and experienced by the characters. However, I couldn't shake this strange feeling of "been there, done that."

The special effects and CGI for "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" are impressive. The actors blend nicely with the digital backgrounds and creatures. I can't think of a single time that I was mentally pulled out of the film because of shoddy craftsmanship.

All the actors do great jobs in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." Surprisingly, the only one that loses some credibility is Jennifer Lawrence in a few of her highly emotional crying scenes. She looks like she's having a little trouble connecting with her character's feelings of sadness and despair at some points. It's amazing how easily Stanley Tucci slips into the role of the overly charismatic and hilarious Caesar Flickerman.

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" is rated PG-13. Obviously, we get a lot of violence. A few bad words are uttered as well. There's also a scene where one of the victors of the Hunger Games strips naked in front of an elevator full of people, but nothing graphic is shown.

Although it slips into ground already tread in the first film, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" merits the admission price to see it on the big screen. It builds up a captivating story and leaves you wanting more at the end. While it doesn't have the same urgency as the original, it does its very best to prepare the way for something much grander.


"R.I.P.D." is yet another example of a film killed by early bad press. Based on the Dark Horse comic book, this supernatural action/comedy is quite a bit of fun. Is the storyline predictable and recycled from other films of this nature? Of course it is; but you don't stop riding rollercoasters just because one has the same amount of loops another one does at the other end of the amusement park.

After meeting his own demise, a crooked Boston cop (Ryan Reynolds) is given a choice in the afterlife. Join the forces of the "Rest in Peace Department" and hunt down Deados or take his chances on Judgment Day. He partners up with a former Wild West lawman (Jeff Bridges) to hunt down criminal souls who refuse to vacate the Earth after death and face their eternal punishment. The two discover a plot to reverse the tunnel to the afterlife, allowing millions of corrupt and angry souls to invade the world.

Jeff Bridges pours himself into the role of an old-fashioned Wild West sheriff struggling with the modern excesses of the world. Ryan Reynolds looks like he's having a good time, as well. You can tell Kevin Bacon loves playing a bad guy and he shows it here.

The DVD version of "R.I.P.D." includes a few bonus features. There are deleted and alternate scenes accompanied by a gag reel. A featurette entitled "Transferring 'R.I.P.D.' - The Making of" takes viewers behind the scenes of the film.

"R.I.P.D." is rated PG-13 for violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality, and language including sex references. I agree with all of the above warnings. Also, the monsters in the movie are rather cartoonish and not as scary as one might think. There's nothing too over-the-top visually to be found. It's as safe as any of the "Men in Black" movies.

As you would imagine, any references to God are removed from "R.I.P.D." Instead, Jeff Bridges' character refers to the ruling power as "The Universe." However, there's nothing I would say is religiously offensive as far as content is concerned.

Although the CGI shows its limits quite a bit, it's not enough to rob "R.I.P.D." of the humor, wit, and energy it exudes. If you long for a light-hearted supernatural adventure you can enjoy while veg'ing out on the couch and eating popcorn, this is your movie. It very much wears its influences on its sleeve - a nice mix of "Men in Black" and a tamer "Constantine." Basically, just replace aliens with dead people who mutate into monsters and you have a good idea of what to expect.


RLJ and Image Entertainment are known for giving independent filmmakers an avenue to get their movies out to the masses. They continue this trend with the supernatural thriller "Aberration." While not as bad as it could be, it comes across as a TV-movie-of-the-week designed for Lifetime to show during the Halloween season.

Christy Dawson sees dead people. Lately, she's been catching glimpses of the ghost of a boy. He's warning her where certain students in her high school are going to turn up murdered. It becomes obvious that someone close to Christy is taking out her childhood friends. Can she figure out what the specter of the boy is warning her about before she meets her own end?

"Aberration" looks good visually. It's just that nothing out of the ordinary happens in it as far as the story or scare tactics are concerned. Audiences are beyond the thrills provided to them here. "The Conjuring," "The Grudge," and other films like them have ruined the child ghost sub-genre as we know it. Filmmakers have a tough road ahead of them from here on out when it comes to these types movies.

Although the movie isn't rated, I would give it at least a PG-13. There's no nudity, but some sexual content is seen and insinuated. There's bad language, violence, and mild gore as well.

The only people who will be frightened by "Aberration" are those that don't watch horror movies or supernatural thrillers on a regular basis. If they occasionally take in one while sitting around on a Sunday evening watching Lifetime, this will provide them with ample moments to jump out of their seats in terror. Hardcore horror fans need to scroll past this one when adding items to their IMDb Watchlist.

All Hallows' Eve

Sarah (Katie Maguire) spends Halloween babysitting her friend's son(Cole Mathewson) and daughter (Sydney Freihofer). After an evening of trick 'r treating, the three settle down in front of a scary movie to empty out the children's' goodie bags. Timmy finds an old VHS tape in his stash and quickly talks Sarah into letting them watch it. They soon find themselves immersed in an anthology of disturbing short films that fit the chilling holiday they're celebrating. Thank goodness they're only make-believe... or are they?

"All Hallows' Eve" is definitely a treat for the Halloween season. It's an interesting blend of intertwining tales in the spirit of "Creepshow" and "Tales from the Crypt" with an evil clown that would rival Pennywise from Stephen King's "It." Art, the evil clown, is the constant throughout these macabre stories.

Director/Writer Damien Leone knew what he was doing when having musicians Noir Deco handle the score for "All Hallows' Eve." They drum up memories of the electronic soundtracks for John Carpenter's "Halloween" and "Halloween III: Season of the Witch." I can only imagine this was intentional. It definitely adds to the creepiness and atmosphere of the film.

Although it's not rated, I would give "All Hallows' Eve" an "R." It has a lot of graphic violence and gore. There's also adult language and situations. I was a bit disappointed in the full frontal nudity in the last segment. Before that, there was no nudity at all. I think Leone could've gotten his point across without it. I know it doesn't seem like that big of a deal to some people in a movie that has so much blood and violence. However, to some viewers it's a deal-breaker that causes them from recommending the film to others.

"All Hallows' Eve" is perfect for an adult night of horror festivities. The stories range from old-fashioned "Rosemary's Baby"-type thrills to sci-fi schlock and slasher scares. Each segment is seen as a film within a film, so there's added dirt and scratches to the picture to give it grindhouse and classic flavors. Let me also add that if you weren't already scared of clowns before now, you will be after watching this.

Eve of Destruction

The movie was a box office disaster when originally released, but found a second life on VHS and DVD. It's been largely ignored over the years, partly because it's rarely shown on television.

Eve VIII (Renee Soutendijk) is a deadly android created in the image of her maker. After years of research, the machine is sent out on her first test mission. Things go horribly wrong when she's damaged and short-circuits. Now, Eve VIII is maiming and killing anything it perceives as a threat. Terrorism expert Jim McQuade (Gregory Hines) and the android's creator must track it down before she goes nuclear.

I remember seeing this little slice of cheese in theaters when it first came out and often wondered what happened to it. It's not a great movie by any means. However, if you're looking for some additional cyborg fun after exhausting your copies of all the "Terminator" movies, look no further. The best way to describe this is as the "Terminator" if Arnold Schwarzenegger was replaced by a middle-aged blonde in a mini-skirt and high-heels.

The late Gregory Hines does a wonderful job playing the no-nonsense terrorist expert assigned to track down Eve VIII. He marches around convincingly with his oversized pistol wondering why they didn't give the android an "f@3!ing off switch." Renee Soutendijk portrays both the doctor and the Eve VIII robot, switching back and forth from panic-stricken to emotionless, seductive, and angry. The movie really gave the actor a wide range of emotions to bounce through in her first American role.

The movie is rated R for strong violence, language, adult situations, and nudity. it really feels like the boob shots in "Eve of Destruction" are needless and tacked on to tantalize male audiences. They don't help to further the story or plot, except to show that Eve VIII looks real in every way. I still don't think they were necessary to get the point across.

"Eve of Destruction" is a perfect example of the sci-fi movies audiences were getting in the early and mid-1990s. It fits nicely next to such cult classics as "Mandroid," "Nemesis," "Hardware," and "Universal Soldier." Is it as entertaining as "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" or "Total Recall?" Of course not, but it still has its place in the Museum of Schlocky Genre Cheese.

The Conjuring

"The Conjuring" is my favorite type of supernatural horror film. It has deeper meaning to it than just getting people scared. Everything about it is top shelf solid quality horror. I also applaud any movie that makes people think about the reality of God and the Devil.

The Perron family is terrorized by what they come to believe is a spiritual presence in their home. Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren come to the family's aid and discover that it's not only haunted but dwelled in by the demonic spirit of a witch who cursed the land she was hung on. Can the Warrens find a way to rid the house of the evil before it takes a tragic toll on the Perrons?

Although it's based on actual events, everyone knows "The Conjuring" has been sensationalized for a movie-going audience. That doesn't change the fact that it demands its audience ponder the existence of a spiritual world outside of the physical one we can see, touch, hear, and smell. It also makes a point of letting you know that just because you don't believe in something doesn't mean it's not real.

The biggest scares you'll get from "The Conjuring" aren't even necessarily the ones you'll see and hear onscreen. I found myself more frightened after the film ended. I was left thinking about it in the "real" world. That's the beauty of a great horror film - it stays with you long after the credits have rolled.

Let's just call it like it is. "The Conjuring" is the "Amityville Horror" of this decade. There's a lot of speculation around the Amityville house, but it's famous and put this movie's paranormal detectives in in the headlines and on TV. This is a story so fascinating that you don't want to believe it. However, somewhere in the back of your head you know it's true.

"The Conjuring" is rated R for sequences of disturbing violence and terror. There's no nudity in the film. Some bad language can be found as well.

Many Christians and religious folks will no doubt disagree with demonic possession being used as a vehicle for entertainment. I look at it as an opportunity to expose and educate a generation of people who have come to believe in nothing and just live life the best they can in spiritual darkness. I know that's pretty heavy thinking put into what most look at as a horror movie.

"The Conjuring" has everything you could want in one supernatural film. There's the old creepy house, demons, ghosts, a hanging tree, a freaky doll, and so much more. I can't think of a single genre item it missed. The funny thing is, it doesn't feel over-stuffed or like it's going to burst at the seams. It's just a good old-fashioned supernatural thriller that will entertain and make the audience ponder it well past the closing credits.

Night of the Comet

Here's another perfect example of a movie I grew up on and spent many summer days watching while on vacation at my father's house. A combination of "Night of the Living Dead," "The Omega Man," and "Valley Girl" makes this quirky film an essential addition to any fan's 1980's genre collection.

Everyone is celebrating the return of a comet that hasn't buzzed by the Earth in 65 million years. The last time it swung by, the dinosaurs went extinct. How can it come as a surprise that this time around it incinerates humans and leaves survivors mutated and ravenous for human flesh? Two Los Angeles valley girls (Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney) join forces with a truck driver (Robert Beltran) as they run for their lives from the walking dead and scientists intent on draining their blood in an attempt to find a cure for the zombie outbreak.

"Night of the Comet" perfectly captures the tone of the 1980s in every way. The feeling of paranoia about the world coming to an end is one element. I remember reading about the planets aligning and how this could cause the apocalypse. It seems like every day the papers or television would feature stories about impending nuclear Armageddon.

It was a scary time for kids and the fact that two valley girls in a big city like L.A. could survive gave many a teenager hope they could as well. In what other time period besides the 1980s would we see two high school girls raid a shopping mall and try on clothes while listening to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" on a jam box. Keep in mind, this is right after discovering the world had come to an end? However, the best part comes when they wield semi-automatic rifles dressed to the nines against mutated delivery boys. These are just a few of the reasons why "Night of the Comet" is such a charming part of horror cinema history.

On top of all that, we also get the usual "Don't Trust the Older Generation" message. There's nothing adolescents distrust and hate more than authority figures telling them what to do. "Night of the Comet's" examples of these suspicious characters come in the form of a group of scientists willing to kill survivors in search of an antidote for themselves.

The film is rated PG-13 for violence, language, adult situations, and gore. "Night of the Comet" is tame in comparison to most zombie and horror films. This is the type of movie designed for the masses. You could watch it with people who don't frequently watch scary movies. It's perfect for helping get lightweights into the Halloween spirit without completely freaking them out.

Fright Night 2

I have nothing against straight-to-DVD sequels to theatrical films. If a movie does minimally well in the theater and there's an audience for a lower-budget and less risky follow-up, I say why not? With that being said, sometimes it works and other times it doesn't. I actually enjoyed "30 Days of Night: Dark Days" and even "The Scorpion King" sequel and prequel. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about "Fright Night 2: New Blood."

Charlie Brewster, his ex-girlfriend Amy, and best friend "Evil" Ed are part of a group of high school students studying abroad in Romania. At the same time, ghost-hunting reality TV host Peter Vincent is exploring the haunted castles of the area. Charlie's professor, Gerri Dandridge, has a hidden motivation for teaching at a school full of teens. By night, she's a vampire searching for the blood of virgins to bathe in to keep her beautiful form. The bloodthirsty creature sets her sights on Amy and only Charlie and Peter Vincent can stop her from taking the essence of the new moon virgin.

Why "Fright Night 2: New Blood" is even advertised as a sequel is beyond me. It's more a remake of a remake, which is awfully (literally) redundant. Instead of the vampire antagonist being a male, this time around it's a female. To add even more insult to injury, her name is Gerri Dandridge versus Jerry Dandridge. Wow, how original.

The uselessness of this "sequel" or "reboot" doesn't end there. The characters in the film don't even acknowledge the events in the first "Fright Night." It's as if they never happened. Charlie and Amy are broken up. "Evil" Ed isn't a vampire. Peter Vincent is some loser who hosts a reality TV show about ghost-hunting and frequents topless bars. Yes, it really is as bad as it sounds.

"Fright Night 2: New Blood" didn't have to be this bad. Granted, it had a lot going against it from the start. The original actors wouldn't or weren't asked to come back. Most fans of a film aren't very forgiving when different actors take the place of familiar faces. The straight-to-DVD route is also a point of contention and warning to many that producers and studios are just trying make a desperate cash-grab. Filmmakers of this sequel could have at least put forth some sort of effort to do something decent with this new entry in the series.

They could have Charlie, Amy, and "Evil" Ed studying abroad in Romania and Gerri Dandridge following them to exact revenge for the death of her brother. "Evil" Ed could be a vampire who decided to try to be good but still battles with his temptation for human blood. All screenwriters needed to do was switch up some dialogue and add a few different establishing shots of the characters. I can't see how it would have boosted the budget in any way.

"Fright Night 2: New Blood" is rated R for graphic violence, gore, adult situations, nudity, and language. The 1980's "Fright Night" had a couple of scenes of nudity, but nothing compared to this. It's very obvious that the nudity in this film is used to make up for a lack of talent and for a weak script.

Being a huge fan of the original "Fright Night" and its sequel, I was very disappointed in "Fright Night 2: New Blood." I knew I shouldn't have such high expectations, and I really don't think I did. That's why I was so sad about my whole experience seeing the film. I had low expectations already and even those weren't met.

Very rarely do I come right out and say this, but avoid "Fright Night 2: New Blood" if you have fond memories of the 1980s movies and the 2011 remake. The only way anyone could like this is if they've never seen any other "Fright Night" movie and are looking for a low-budget vampire film to waste 90 minutes of their life. In that case, they need to pick up a copy of either versions of "Fright Night" and see what they've been missing.

Curse of Chucky

It's been almost a decade, but Chucky's back! Universal Home Entertainment gives fright fans "Curse of Chucky" just in time for Halloween. There's no doubt that decades down the road, the image of the deranged Good Guys doll will be immortalized right next to the Universal Classic Monsters like Frankenstein's creation, Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Right or wrong, the "Child's Play" movies and their sequels have made that big of an impact on pop culture.

Wheelchair-bound Nica (Fiona Dourif) and her mother (Chantal Quesnelle) live alone in a secluded mansion. When a mysterious package holding a vintage Good Guys doll named Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) is delivered to their doorstep, they think it's just a mistake. After being tossed in the trash, Chucky is found sitting near the bloody corpse of Nica's mother. As the house fills up with guests for the funeral, the body count rises. The malevolent soul inside Chucky needs a body to inhabit, and Nica's niece (Summer H. Howell) meets his deranged requirements.

Director/Writer Don Mancini brings the "Child's Play" movies full circle with "Curse of Chucky." After two entries in the series many would call more camp and humor than horror, he re-injects this entry with a healthy dose of suspense and thrills. His choice of an old dark mansion also helps by giving the film a classic gothic atmosphere. I would say this is the perfect balance between the original and its lighter-hearted sequels.

The special effects team is hard at work in "Curse of Chucky." This is not the sanitized PG-13 or R-rated slasher films we saw in the late 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. It's graphic and the gore is here for everyone to enjoy. Whether running, smiling, turning his head around, or slashing away at someone, Chucky looks fabulous.

Brad Dourif is every bit as humorous as we've come to expect when he voices Chucky. You can't help but giggle every time you hear the childhood toy utter foul language and say inappropriate things. He really is perfect in the role.

"Curse of Chucky" is full of skepticism towards religion and Christianity. Chucky tells the little girl he terrorizes that there is no God several times. Nica and her mother both left the church after an obvious period of disillusionment. The priest (A Martinez) also seems rather judgmental and Nica's sister presents herself as a Christian but definitely doesn't live that way. You can take all this as an attack against Christianity or as a general example of how Director/Writer Mancini sees hypocritical "followers" of the faith.

The Unrated version of "Curse of Chucky" didn't strike me as any worse than what would be considered an R-rated movie these days. There's plenty of graphic violence, foul language, and sexual situations. However, there's no nudity to be found.

I'm actually quite surprised that "Curse of Chucky" didn't get a theatrical release. I know it boils down to Universal wanting to test the waters for their upcoming reboot of the franchise without investing too much in promotion. The film really does a great job revitalizing the series and reminding genre fans why they fell in love with the maniacal character in the first place.

After Earth
After Earth(2013)

En route to another planet, Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his father Cypher (Will Smith) must make an emergency crash-landing on one of the deadliest worlds in their solar system - Earth. The human race was forced to leave the planet after generations of destroying and depleting it of its natural resources. Left to its own devices, Earth has become a wild kingdom of dangerous and deadly plant and animal life. Their ship split in two, Kitai must make his way across dangerous terrain to recover an electronic signal which will call for a rescue team.

"After Earth" is about the relationship between a father and son. It shows how a father can have unreachable expectations for his offspring but mean well at the same time. It's also a movie about overcoming your fears and doing what you have to do to survive. Lastly, it shows one boy's journey to becoming a man - not because he wants to, but because he has to.

Whether you want to admit it or not, every male child wants to win the approval of their father. "After Earth" captures this perfectly. Everything Jaden Smith's character does during his hero's journey is based upon what he thinks his father would do.

I really don't understand where the animosity toward Jaden Smith comes from. He's actually quite a good little actor. The emotions he runs through in "After Earth" come across as genuine and his interactions with real and CGI characters and beasts are convincing. Again, I think the media wanted to hate this kid from the get-go and just spread the disease from one outlet to the next.

The CGI and special effects in "After Earth" were well-executed for the most part. They weren't perfect by any means. There were parts you could tell were obviously digitally animated. However, for the most part everything looked good.

"After Earth" is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some disturbing images. I can't even recall there being any bad language in the film at all. I would suggest it for anyone over the age of 13 and can see where a father and son could use it as a portal to communicating with each other and bonding. Contrary to what many have said, I didn't picked up any strong or dangerous Scientology messages being thrown at audiences.

"After Earth" is a casualty of pre-conceived notions by the press. People responded to the film based on the fact that Will Smith was supposedly shoving his son down our throats in a movie made by a director who's hit a couple bumps in his career recently, but still has more good features under his belt than bad. Judged on its own, "After Earth" is a touching and action-packed sci-fi film with something to say about relationships between a father and son.

Psycho III
Psycho III(1986)

The state of mind you watch a film in makes all the difference in the world. This is something I've faced quite a bit recently when revisiting old movies being released on Blu-ray for the first time. While I could never bring myself to say out loud that I didn't like any of the sequels to "Psycho," the third one was always my least favorite. Thanks to Scream Factory, I was given a reason to refresh my memory and change my opinion after viewing the "Psycho III" Collector's Edition.

Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) can't seem to get a break. In the short amount of time he's been back running his infamous motel, Norman has dealt with an elaborate attempt to send him back to the nuthouse and faced a revelation about his mother that could send anyone over the edge who's already jumped off it once (or twice) before. Just as he is about to continue his renovations of the Bates Motel, a young stranger (Diana Scarwid) who resembles one of his previous victims shows up on his doorstep. Can Norman finally get out from under his mother's shadow and find love or will he slip into insanity once again?

What I once considered merely a slasher film now ties with "Psycho II" as one of my favorite of the sequels. Most follow-ups pale in comparison to the originals, but that's not the case with the "Psycho" films. "Psycho III" excels thanks to it being directed by the man who not only brought Norman Bates to life, but also dedicated a great portion of his life to the character and living in his shadow.

I believe Anthony Perkins did what he felt was necessary when taking the reins of "Psycho III." He knew there was more to tell of Norman's story, but was terrified of what might happen if someone else was put in charge of the project. Instead, he took the Director's chair and did his best to stay true to Alfred Hitchcock's cinematic vision of Robert Bloch's novel.

Perkins is given a chance in "Psycho III" to show the softer side of Norman to audiences. He reveals that Bates wants to be normal and have a life away from Mother. It also does a great job of showing the inner conflict he has with himself (and Mother, if you will).

It almost seems like Perkins was trying to take "Psycho III" where Hitchcock wanted to go with the original in regards of graphicness, but the censors at the time wouldn't allow him. There's quite a bit more sexual content and even the scenes of violence are amped up. It's as if he's trying to reach some level of shock that Hitchcock was trying to achieve but couldn't get there in 1960.

The Little Mermaid

Mermaid Princess Ariel wants to live up above the ocean floor in the world of humans. She makes a deal with an evil sea witch named Ursula and leaves the ocean for life on dry land. When things go array in both her beloved worlds, Ariel must enlist the help of her fish friend Flounder and crab Sebastian to set things right.

What can be said about "The Little Mermaid" that already hasn't been? I think its award nominations and wins speak for themselves. Boys and girls of all ages adore this treasure. It's even found life as a stage play performed around the world by children's and adult theaters.

Zombie Hunter

"Zombie Hunter" is an absolutely ridiculous film. That's not meant to be a putdown in this case. If it were anything but ridiculous, it just wouldn't work. It's what makes the movie watchable and gives it such an entertaining air.

After a zombie apocalypse, a loner (Martin Copping) with nothing left to lose drives cross-country taking out the walking dead whenever he crosses paths with them. After a car crash, he's brought to a remote refuge of survivors. He soon finds himself leading the misfits as they flee for their lives when the flesh-eaters discover their hideaway.

What could have easily been lost in a never-ending sea of movies centered on the walking dead rises above thanks to an obvious influence taken from Japanese films like "Mutant Girl Squad," "Helldriver," and "Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl." All the hyper-tense action sequences, vivid colors, and ultra-violence found in those are mimicked here to mostly successful results.

If what you're looking for is the realism of "Night of the Living Dead" or "The Walking Dead," don't gaze in the direction of "Zombie Hunters." There's tons of gore and beheadings, but everything's done in an extremely animated and tongue-in-cheek manner. Instead of the dark crimson colors audiences expect when zombies are butchered and bludgeoned, blood flows in ultraviolet hues of pink and purple here. Just like the Japanese films this movie is influenced by, the brightly colored blood splatters across the screen as the zombies are sliced and diced.

The special effects for "Zombie Hunters" are also intentionally cartoon-like. Somehow they fit in with the absurdity of the rest of the movie. You can tell filmmakers deliberately used certain CGI and practical effects which transition in appearance from fake to realistic. It's evident because the quality shifts from scene to scene.

For instance, the film will go from a scene of zombie monsters which look like Ray Harryhausen models to a sequence of a person getting a chainsaw drilled through their stomach with lifelike blood pouring forth. The next scene features a zombie getting his head cut off as purple day-glo gore sprays out of it all over the camera lens.

If you're a fan of the excessively gory and irreverently silly films of Yoshihiro Nishimura, then you'll no doubt enjoy "Zombie Hunter." Just don't watch the movie expecting Academy Award-winning performances or the serious atmosphere of George A. Romero or Robert Kirkman's post-apocalyptic worlds. While nowhere near as good as the Japanese films it attempts to imitate, I have to give director Kevin King at least a B for effort.


It doesn't matter what time of year it is, any time you watch "Halloween" it becomes October 31st for an hour and a half. It's always a pleasure to re-visit Haddonfield and spend a little more time with Michael Myers, Dr. Loomis, Laurie Strode, and all her friends.

Does "Halloween" really need any introduction? It might not be the first slasher film in horror history, but it's certainly the one that jump-started the genre and is still being imitated today. After the image of Michael Myers' famous white William Shatner mask hit screens, things were never the same. Suddenly, every psychotic in these types of films was covering their face using gimmicky guises. We've seen every sort of mask cover the maniac's identity, including hockey, gas, jester, cherub, and firefighter.

"Halloween" captures the time period and small-town feel of its setting so perfectly. Anyone who lived through the late 1970s and trick-or-treated as a child in a suburb can attest to this. If you happened to grow up in Illinois like I did, the movie hits home even more. Honestly, Director Carpenter couldn't have done a better job establishing a believable atmosphere for this suspenseful and thrilling masterpiece.

Day of the Dead

I don't know if it's my imagination, but it seems like it was the intent of both Romero and makeup artist Tom Savini to step up the gore a few notches with 'Day of the Dead.' This third entry in the franchise moves forward with a few more buckets of blood and body parts.

Military and scientific personnel hole up together in an underground hideaway to keep away from zombies who walk the earth in search of their next meal of flesh. The military are looking for a way to exterminate the walking dead, while the scientists strive to re-civilize them through horrific experiments. The scientists and soldiers find themselves at odds with each other as the zombies close in on their subterranean bunker.

I'll be honest in saying that the first hour of "Day of the Dead" was slow. Just as I was giving up on it, the pace picked up and the movie was saved in the last 30 minutes. Although it might seem like it moves at the speed of a snail and is talky, I give props to Romero for taking the time and energy to actually establish character development and a storyline that reaches beyond simply finding ways to kill zombies.

Something else I noticed about "Day of the Dead" is that it feels timeless. Even though it was made in the mid-1980s, it isn't aged by the clothing, hairstyles, or even technology worn and used by the characters in the film. Romero found a way to remain neutral in these areas, giving it a longevity not found in many other movies in this genre.

"Day of the Dead" isn't simply a zombie film, but a study in human behavior and ethics. It doesn't only give viewers plenty of blood and guts to gawk at, it gives them something to think about as well.

Butcher Boys
Butcher Boys(2013)

"Butcher Boys" has a tough road ahead of it. Thanks to its writer and producer, the movie will inevitably be compared to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" as soon as the opening credits start to roll. It's unfair and a shame, because the movie once entitled "Boneboys" actually isn't a bad little independent horror piece.

Four friends are out on the town for a birthday celebration. After provoking a couple troublemakers, the group get into a high-speed chase through a bad part of the city. They drive up on a gang hanging out in the street, causing a wreck that kills the dog of one of the thugs. Little do they know that their actions have brought them into the world of a cannibalistic band of psychopaths bent on making them their next meal.

Kim Henkel is probably best known as the producer and writer of the original "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." After the runaway success of that film, he wrote a script for a sequel which was never used. What do you do with a script that never saw the light of day, but you spent hours of time writing? You turn it into something else!

If you're in the know about the history of where "Butcher Boys" came from, then you can't help but draw comparisons to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." There are many elements and characters in the movie which you can see were slightly altered to change them into something else. However, it's hard to call a movie a rip-off when it was written by the guy who helped make the original that influenced it.

Duane Graves and Justin Meeks are master craftsmen at creating low-budget films that look fabulous and feel genuine. If you haven't already seen "The Wild Man of the Navidad," you need to do yourself a favor and do so right away. No matter what anyone thinks about the actual storyline of "Butcher Boys," they have to admit it looks good. Graves and Meeks work with the cameraman to establish a voyeuristic feeling that makes you feel like you're running right alongside the poor kids being hunted down in this nerve-wracking movie.

Can you really blame Graves and Meeks for doing the film? If you were an independent filmmaker and the guy who wrote and produced "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" approached you to do his next movie, would YOU tell him no? Yeah, I didn't think so.

I don't believe any rating has been given to "Butcher Boys," but I would certify it "R." There's plenty of foul language, some nudity, sexual content, and a healthy dose of cannibalistic gore. As usual, I felt the nudity was a bit much and unnecessary.

"Butcher Boys" isn't breaking any new ground. I don't really think it was trying to in the first place. If I were to give readers a description of the movie, it would be a mix of "Judgment Night" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." The greaser look of the cannibalistic gang members might even bring about memories of "The Outsiders." I get the feeling Kim Henkel wanted audiences to see his take on Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal." He took his un-filmed "Chainsaw Massacre" sequel and mashed the two together. If taken for what it is, most horror fans will enjoy the ride.


I consider myself easy to please when it comes to genre films. I don't expect any movie to venture too far outside of the lines these days. As much as I hate saying it, there really is nothing new under the sun. I just want the filmmakers to take what's been done before, shake it up a bit, and give it their own spin. Unfortunately, Image Entertainment's "Evidence" falls short of achieving the aforementioned goal.

Five people are murdered at an abandoned desert gas station. Two detectives are given the job of sifting through the only evidence left at the crime scene: video footage from the cell phones and cameras the victims shot. It soon becomes evident that the killer is playing with the two investigators. The two must now piece together what happened before the psychopath decides to strike again.

A friend of mine gave me some good advice one time. He told me that any drink or food that has more than one synonym in its description can't be good for you. I find this can apply to movies as well much of the time. "Evidence" is one of those films. It can be described using several different terms like horror, thriller, slasher, and found footage. If you can do it successfully, it really doesn't sound so weird to have these different elements mixed together.

The two biggest issues with "Evidence" is pacing and believability. Long stretches of nothing happen while people walk around with flashlights and cell phones, which gets old quickly. It sort of sabotages the element of surprise. How can we be surprised by something unexpected happening when we're constantly waiting for it? I can't even begin to tell you how implausible the outcome of the movie is.

The cast of "Evidence" is impressive for an indie film. It stars Stephen Moyer ("True Blood") and Radha Mitchell ("Silent Hill," "Olympus Has Fallen") as detectives investigating the killings. Torrey DeVitto from "Pretty Little Liars" plays lead victim Leann.

As I watched "Evidence," I kept wondering if I would find Oren Peli's name among the producers of the film. It plays out like a drawn-out version of "Friday the 13th" meets "The Chernobyl Diaries." At least director Olatunde Osunsanmi was smart enough to pull out of the found footage enough to give audiences a break from the overused filming technique and show what sort of chops he really has.

If you like found footage and slasher movies, then "Evidence" might appeal to you. It tries really hard to mash the two sub-genres together. However, the film falls apart due to poor pacing and an unbelievable finale.

Psycho II
Psycho II(1983)

22 years after being institutionalized for several murders (including his mother), Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) returns to his home and the motel he ran. Settling back into normal life is made difficult when the sister (Vera Miles) of one of his victims begins taking drastic measures to have him sent back to the mental institute. The disappearance of some locals raise suspicions that Norman might be up to his old tricks again.

Director Richard Franklin compels Director of Photography Dean Cundey to both mimic certain shots from the 1960 classic and come up with new ways to visually fray the edges of the audiences' sanity. The angled shots of Norman Bates looking up at the house are some of the most unhinging moments in horror history. Cundey's use of sweeping overhead shots are captivating as well.

Prince of Darkness

A priest and a scientist join forces in order to find a way to stop a mysterious evil from entering the world. The two must find a way to overcome their differences in beliefs in order to save the world from the coming apocalypse. A horde of possessed homeless people and their associates stand in their way.

"Prince of Darkness" dares to tread in dangerous territory. Director/Writer John Carpenter (penning the script under the pseudonym Martin Quartermass) blends together science and religion, knowing full well this is sure to offend zealots on both sides of the fence. It's no surprise the movie didn't garner the sort of widespread notoriety and acclaim Carpenter's "Halloween" did. Things tend to get uncomfortable when Christians and atheists compare and contrast the Bible with theoretical physics and atomic theory.

As a Christian myself, I find the subject matter of "Prince of Darkness" interesting yet flawed. I still think it's a lot of scientific hooey and mumbo-jumbo, but appreciate the fact that Carpenter's trying something outside of the box. Most Christians will no doubt be offended by some of the concepts presented in the film.

I hadn't seen "Prince of Darkness" in probably 20 years when I popped it into my Blu-ray player. There was a lot more moving around than I remembered. For some reason, I thought most of the action occurred in the main room where the container of liquid evil is kept. In fact, quite a bit of the film takes place in different parts of the abandoned church and outside. It was much better than I recalled it being.

Carpenter brings along Donald Pleasance to add that bit of class and professionalism the actor is known for. He plays the priest who will do anything he has to in order to keep the evil at bay and avoid the apocalypse. Alice Cooper portrays the leader of a possessed horde of homeless people who have gathered outside the church in anticipation of the coming of the Anti-God. Jameson Parker ("Simon & Simon") and Victor Wong ("Big Trouble in Little China") round out the cast.

"Prince of Darkness" is rated R for graphic violence, language, and adult situations. Strangely for horror movies of the 1980s, there's no nudity to be found. Anyone who grew up watching genre films through that decade knows exactly what I'm talking about. There had to be at least one nude scene to make it a legitimate horror movie.

"Prince of Darkness" is an essential piece for any horror aficionado's home entertainment library. Although I don't support or buy into the film's theories, credit must once again be given to Carpenter for his attempt at creating something unique within a genre that many times plays it safe.

Oliver & Company

Sometimes the movies you see as a child don't hold up so well when you experience them again as an adult. "The Rescuers" and "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" still carry the same magic they did when I first saw them. I've also discovered a few I didn't see the first time around which now hold a special place in my heart, with "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" immediately coming to mind. Unfortunately, there are also a couple that lose their luster when viewed again through older eyes, like "The Sword in the Stone." I'll be adding "Oliver and Company" to the last category.

A wayward kitten named Oliver spends his days and nights wandering the streets of New York City. While searching for food, he runs into a dog named Dodger who spends his days scrounging up food for his misfit family of stray dogs and assisting their homeless human friend Fagin make ends meet. Just as Oliver joins the canine clan, he is adopted by a girl named Penny. Danger materializes in the form of a pack of Dobermans that Penny's parents. They take a disliking to Oliver and plan to remove the threat to their home any way they can.

"Oliver and Company" is nothing more than a water-downed version of "Oliver Twist" that injects the sounds of Billy Joel, Bette Midler, and Broadway musicals together into one intolerable experience. Replace the humans in Charles Dickens' classic novel with animals and you have a recipe for annoyance. It's 74 minutes of sheer pain and agony for parents to endure while their children smile and giggle at the cuteness unfolding onscreen.

One of the biggest problems with "Oliver and Company" is they dumb down the main villain of the book. The character of Fagin from Dickens' novel is a perfect example of evil and cruelty. Disney makes him a sympathetic bumbling bad guy with a good heart in this animated version.

Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment recently released "Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map" exclusively through Wal-Mart. Imagine the familiar characters from "Scooby-Doo" if they were turned into Muppets. The 45-minute mini-movie will thrill children and even parents who don't dig too deep below the surface.

Scooby-Doo and the gang embark on a search for buried treasure when a map is accidently left in their pizza. The lost treasure belongs to a pirate named Gnarlybeard. The quest gets difficult when the Phantom Parrot steals the map from the sleuths and their clue-sniffing canine. They must track down the mysterious bird and recover the map if they ever want to find out what's inside Gnarlybeard's treasure chest.

"Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map" is based in the world of "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo." To jog memories, the Saturday morning cartoon series featured Scooby and his pals as children. Remember back when every cool cartoon franchise was intent on turning their characters into pint-sized ankle biters? "The Flintstone Kids," "Tiny Toons Adventures," "The New Archies," and "Muppet Babies" are perfect examples of this obsession.

If you don't get too picky, "Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map" is entertaining. The sets and backgrounds all look good. It does seem like the filmmakers had a hard time figuring out exactly how to get the puppets properly framed in the picture at times. However, none of that really matters when your target market are children who aren't going to complain about those sorts of things.

Most of the familiar voice actors who we've come to identify as these characters lend their talents to "Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map." Frank Welker plays both Scooby-Doo and Fred as usual. Matthew Lillard breathes life into Shaggy and Grey DeLisle Griffin portrays Daphne. Mindy Cohn is replaced as the voice of Velma by Stephanie D'Abruzzo ("Sesame Street," "The Book of Pooh").

"Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map" knows exactly who its target audience is and hits the mark. I can see where they could take the puppet concept of this movie and make it work as a new TV or movie series for the franchise. There's no better time than now to push the idea with the renewed interest in the Muppets at a fever pitch.

The Amityville Horror

Everybody knows about the legend of the Amityville House at 112 Ocean Avenue in Long Island, New York. A family moves into the house and the older son murders them all in their sleep. When he's apprehended, he tells the authorities a voice told him to do it. Another family moves in a year later and they're plagued with paranormal incidences. Things get so bad, they abandon the house and never return.

Whether or not you believe the stories are true, " The Amityville Horror" provides good times for horror fans. Some want to revisit their childhood fears. Others want the opportunity to share the experience with their children for the first time and scare them to death.

Upon watching the first two films again for the first time in over a decade, I realized a couple things. "The Amityville Horror" isn't as hokey as I remembered it. The last time I watched it, I was disappointed by how tame it was. I found it to be a satisfying watch now. Maybe I've come to appreciate its subtleness in the wake of so many graphic gore fests and torture-porn films.

The Cloth
The Cloth(2013)

I love a good religious horror or demon possession film. My background as a Christian gives me a certain appreciation for what many critics call hokey sensationalist cinema and B-movie trash. I've seen the good ones ("The Exorcist," "Devil") and I've seen the bad ones ("The Exorcist Tapes," "The Last Exorcism Part II"). Unfortunately, Uncork'd Entertainment's "The Cloth" falls well below the threshold of bad and plunges into the abyss of laughably unwatchable.

Cases of demonic possessions are on the rise across the country. A faithless young man (Kyler Willett) is recruited by the Catholic Church into a secret organization of demon hunters. He teams up with a priest (Lassiter Holmes) as they track down the forces of evil and strive to put an end to Satan's stronghold on humankind.
I can only describe "The Cloth" as a horribly made Christian film clumsily fashioned together by mainstream independent movie producers devoid of any real religious slant who own an HD camera and iMovie program. Imagine graduates of Roman Polanski or William Friedkin's school of filmmaking being to blame for those "Tribulation" disasters and you get where I'm going with this. Its sexual content makes it pretty clear a Christian audience was not in mind while making the film.

Imagine an Asylum film completely devoid of the self-aware humor and wit we've come to expect from films like "Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus" or the more recent "Sharknado." "The Cloth" takes itself seriously all the way to the closing credits. This makes scenes of a priest shooting possessed people with a demon-killing gun as they explode into digitally animated pieces even harder to sit through. As hard as it is to believe, the CGI is worse than anything you've seen in any Asylum movie or SyFy Channel original movie.

The one character in the film that I found humorous and likable was the guy who provided the holy weapons to the two lead characters. If the movie was focused on him, it would've been a lot more enjoyable. His British accent and punk rock look and sensibilities added a level of fun to his scenes that the rest of the movie is sorely lacking. The guy wears t-shirts with slogans like "Exorcise Regularly." Need I go into any more explanation?

I will say that the scenes of demonic possession which aren't cluttered with bad CGI look good. Whoever did the makeup and practical effects deserve some applause for the most part. The exorcism scene at the beginning showed promise that the rest of the film couldn't deliver.

Danny Trejo is featured on the cover of "The Cloth" DVD as if he appears in the entire film. Be aware this is not the case. He is in what amounts to about 5 minutes of the 89-minute running time. Eric Roberts is also named as one of the main actors. He plays a priest and figures into maybe 5 minutes of screen time as well.

As much as I hate saying this about any movie, "The Cloth" has absolutely no redeeming qualities. It's a haphazard attempt at combining the elements of much better films like "Constantine" and "End of Days." I hope Danny Trejo and Eric Roberts were paid well enough to justify them wasting their time and talents on this drivel.

Deadly Swarm
Deadly Swarm(2003)

I don't even know where to begin as I sit down to review "Deadly Swarm." Here is a movie about killer wasps with absolutely no sting. I know it sounds like I'm trying to be witty, but it's the truth. Miramax and Lionsgate definitely played it smart when dumping this straight-to-DVD and Blu-ray.

Crazed scientist Jacob Schroeder (J. Patrick McCormack) stops at nothing to trap thousands of killer wasps in the jungle of Guatemala. He's convinced that the venom from their stingers can be used for medicinal purposes to fight serious illnesses. The truck they are smuggled in crashes during an attempting to transport them across the border into the U.S. The container the wasps are held in breaks open, unleashing them on the innocent citizens of a small town. American entomologist Daniel Lang (Shane Brolly) and a meddlesome writer Sandra Kern (Kaarina Aufranc) must find a way to stop them before they wipe out everything in their path.

"Deadly Swarm" does have an interesting story to tell and a simple question to answer. The plot is well thought out but loses its potency somewhere in the transition from script to screen. The question asked is one brought up by Mr. Spock first in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan."

Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one? Are the deaths of a couple thousand residents of a small town insignificant if it helps to create medicines that can cure millions? Pretty deep stuff for a film about killer wasps to tackle.

The special effects for "Deadly Swarm" are what we've come to expect from these types of nature-gone-awry flicks. The cloud of wasps is evidently CGI and filmmakers don't really try too hard to hide it. How much extra money could it possibly take to make a cluster of wasps look more realistic? The giant welts found on the bodies of their victims are convincing and rather nasty looking, though.

The biggest problem with "Deadly Swarm" is it isn't visually graphic enough. People who watch these types of horror movies want to "see" the wasps stinging and crawling all over the victims. They want more gore and graphic imagery. This seems intent on playing it safe to appeal to a wider audience. Many viewers attracted by the "Not Rated" tagline are going to be angry or disappointed as the credits roll.

Even though "Deadly Swarm" is "Not Rated," it really should be PG-13. There's some bad language sprinkled throughout and scenes of victims with welts all over their bodies. The film is devoid of any nudity or sexuality, unless you consider a girl in a half shirt obscene.

I'm not entirely sure how "Deadly Swarm" came to be released by Miramax and Lionsgate. It's tailor-made for the SyFy Channel and obviously barely missed the clutches of Roger Corman. The only reason I could see Corman passing this up is if the filmmakers just flat out refused to allow him to have bikini-clad women running around senselessly while trying to escape being stung by wasps. It's B-movie fodder without the self-aware charm found in the Asylum or Corman's releases.

Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec (The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec)

Originally released in 2010, this big-screen adaptation of Jacques Tardi's acclaimed graphic novels is every bit as potent as any of the ones being made in the U.S. from the likes of Rick Riordan, Stephenie Meyer, and others.

In 1912, reporter and adventurer Adele Blanc-Sec embarks on a journey to Egypt to unearth the mummy of Ramses II's personal doctor. Her plan is to bring the mummy back with her to France, where she'll raise him from the dead and ask for his assistance in healing her catatonic sister. Little does she know of the perils awaiting her when she returns to Paris. While she's been away, a 136 million year old egg has hatched in the Natural History Museum. A wild pterodactyl now flies the skies in search of its next meal. Only Adele possesses the knowledge to tame the prehistoric beast.

Director Luc Besson successfully blends together the excitement of adventure movies like "The Mummy" and "Indiana Jones" with an emotional depth usually only found in foreign romantic dramas. He finds a perfect balance of quirkiness, action, comedy, romance, and crisis. With these ingredients, Besson creates a truly unique fantasy film that will appeal to female and male audiences alike.

Louise Bourgoin is perfect in the role of Adele Blanc-Sec. The role appears to come naturally to the actor, as she hops on the back of a pterodactyl for a ride or falls through the floor of a pyramid inside the coffin of an ancient pharaoh while dressed in a petticoat and bonnet. It's very much like witnessing Mary Poppins work as an archaeologist instead of a nanny.

The special effects and CGI used in "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec" look just as good, if not better at times, than anything we see in American-made films. The pterodactyl and mummies we see are frighteningly lifelike. This keeps the audience from being taken out of the viewing experience or getting distracted from the storytelling.

The movie is rated PG for some violence, language, brief sensuality, and rude humor. There's really only one scene of a "dancer" wiggling around on a man's lap making sensual noises for parents of youngsters to deal with. The rest of the content isn't anything we haven't already seen in a Harry Potter or Indiana Jones film.

"The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec" will appeal to fans of Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and other film adaptations of YA novels. Imagine any of those movies given an injection of French sophistication and classiness and you get a good idea of what to expect. It also puts a female in the lead role of an adventure film, which we don't see very often and will no doubt please many women (and men).

The Demented
The Demented(2013)

Does the world really need another zombie movie? Walk into any store that sells DVDs and most people would scream "No!" I've said it before and I'll say it again. There must be three zombie movies coming out every week. The hard thing for viewers to do is try to pick which one they should devote an hour and a half of their time to. Thankfully, you have a guy like me who wastes way too many moments watching movies like Anchor Bay Entertainment's "The Demented" to keep you from doing the same.

Six college friends meet for a fun weekend at a Louisiana bayou estate for beers, water sliding (yes, water sliding), and good times. Just as the fun begins, the group is warned that the U.S. is being attacked by terrorists using biological weapons. Their hopes of being far from the danger zone are dashed when one of the enemy bombers crashes outside the nearest city. The chemical the plane was carrying infects the entire community by turning them into ravenous flesh-eating killers.

If this setup sounds familiar it should. It's been used in 95% of every zombie film you've seen. The problem with "The Demented" is it's a zombie movie with no "oomph!" Sure, the ones here are wild-eyed, bloody fast-running zombies and all. None of that matters, though, without some solid headshots or real gore.

"The Demented" is edited like the "Friday the 13th" movies in the late 1980s and early 1990s. All the graphic violence happens off-screen. While that "less-is-more" technique works with some horror thrillers, it really doesn't with films featuring the walking dead or undead.

I will give credit to Director/Writer Christopher Roosevelt for one thing. The guy tries to get you to care about his characters. Even if they all come across as a bunch of whiny rich kids, he takes the time and attempts to give them some sort of personalities and backgrounds. This always helps to get the audience connected so we care when these people die horribly later on.

There's also an interesting characteristic the zombies have that sets them apart from their counterparts in other movies of this nature. They freeze when they can't sense any activity around them, resembling the disturbing nurses in the "Silent Hill" movies. The concept is intriguing, even if it does borrow a bit from the zombies that sleep while standing up in "Steve Niles' Remains."

Director/Writer Roosevelt pulled out all the stops when picking an affordable cast that would appeal to horror fans and teens. "The Demented" stars Michael Welch ("The Twilight Saga"), Sarah Butler ("I Spit on Your Grave"), Kayla Ewell ("The Vampire Diaries"), and Richard Kohnke ("The Carrie Diaries"). They'll all no doubt grab individuals familiar with their separate works in those movies and TV shows.

"The Demented" is rated R because of its strong language. I've seen more gore and violence and heard heavier sexual innuendos in a PG-13 film. No flesh is bared besides the girls running around in their bikinis.

If you're hanging out with someone who doesn't like overly graphic movies but is looking for some scares, "The Demented" might come in handy. True gorehounds looking for decapitations and gunshots to the head need to move on to something else. There's nothing to see here.

Robin Hood
Robin Hood(1973)

"Robin Hood" 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Brings the Classic Home in Hi-Def
Robin Hood (a fox) and his merry band of animals steal from the rich and give to the poor. It just so happens that most of the riches come from the greedy paws of Prince John (a lion). He constantly has his henchman, the Sheriff of Nottingham (a wolf), collect taxes from the poor animals of Sherwood Forest to line his own pockets. Even though Robin is wanted by Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham, he risks his life to enter an archery contest and win the hand of Maid Marion (a vixen).

This classic has everything we've come to expect from a Disney movie. Basically, it's filled with talking animals in the roles of characters dancing and singing merrily. I'm not a huge fan of musicals, but the story in between more than makes up for the moments I sit waiting for the crooning to end.

Much like "The Aristocats" was a product of its jazz and big-band cultural surroundings in 1970, "Robin Hood" features a soundtrack influenced by the folk artists of that same period. It fits the atmosphere of the movie perfectly. There's no doubt children and fans of Gordon Lightfoot, Peter, Paul and Mary, and other singer-songwriters will be delighted.

The Fog
The Fog(1979)

I led a rather sheltered life as a child and teen. My parents were strict about the movies I could see and were completely against me taking in any type of supernatural horror films. I would go to my father's house during the summers and that's when I would catch up on all the great films I missed for the past year. One of my fondest memories is watching "The Fog" one night around dusk with my cousin.

It made a lasting impact on me that was evident five minutes after the credits rolled. Back in the early eighties, big trucks would drive through my father's neighborhood right before the sun went down and spray for mosquitoes. The insecticide created a thick fog that slowly crawled up to the house from the street. Needless to say, I was terrified.

The little coastal town of Antonio Bay is about to pay for the sins of its forefathers. 100 years after being misled to their rocky demise during a dense fog, a phantom ship full of ghostly specters exacts their revenge on the ancestors who plotted their deaths. No one is safe until the six living relatives of the conspirators are put to death.

"The Fog" is rather tame besides some bad language and a scene of Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Atkins discussing her art in bed together. For all intents and purposes it's a study in visual minimalism. A lot of violence and killing is insinuated but happens off-screen, which gives it a classic feel missing in more graphic and gory films. It's truly a practice in the school of "What you don't see is scarier than what you do." It's a lesson many filmmakers could stand to learn today.

"The Fog" is one of those special horror films I hold up as one of the greatest ghost stories of all time. I look at it as an introduction to horror movies and used it as such on my son. It's dear to my heart and my experience seeing it for the first time will stay with me forever.

DCU: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

DC Comics definitely hits its stride with "Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox." Never have I been more impressed with an animated adaptation of a comic book story arc than I am with this spectacular straight-to-DVD movie. At the same time, I am not without complaints in regards to it.

Everyone wishes they could go back in time and right the wrongs they or others have committed. The Flash (Justin Chambers) is no different... and he has the power to do so! Unfortunately, his selfish desires to bring his mother back from the dead causes a ripple in the time stream which looks to cause the destruction of the entire world at the hands of Aquaman (Cary Elwes) and Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall).

The two super heroes are at war with each other in this skewed reality. They could cause the outbreak of World War III and the deaths of millions of innocent people. Can the Flash and the alternate versions of the Justice League band together and keep the Atlantean and Amazonian warriors from destroying the entire world in their vengeful crusade?

The animation style of "Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox" is very much unique to what we've seen before from the DC animated features. Something about it just gives the entire movie a bigger and more epic feel than what we've experienced in the past. Like me, some might find the new artistic renditions of their favorite super heroes off-putting at first. As the film moves on, I found myself embracing and crediting the style change with giving it an extra dimension and setting it apart as something distinct.

Writer Jim Krieg does everything he possibly can to bring Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert's graphic novel to life for the big or small screen. He successfully pulls in all the necessary elements from the book to give it a solid foundation and keep it moving forward at a breakneck pace. "Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox" begins to unravel when he tries to fit too many extraneous Easter eggs and backstories from the individual books published outside of the main graphic novel into 81 minutes.

Krieg takes the source material from "The World of Flashpoint: Batman," The World of Flashpoint: Superman," and "The World of Flashpoint: Green Lantern" and tries to add too much depth to the alternate universe storylines of these characters. He ends up making the movie feel like it's about to burst at the seams. Krieg does do a good job fleshing out the Aquaman and Wonder Woman conflict which acts as the backdrop of the tale.

"Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox" is definitely rated PG-13. There's a lot of violence, some being very graphic. There's also adult language and situations. As usual, some of the female characters barely wear any clothes. The artists of the film also enjoy drawing Wonder Woman's butt bursting out of her costume.

Although it has its problems, I consider "Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox" to be a big step forward for the DC animated features. It kept my attention through great storytelling, extraordinary battle sequences, and a legendary face-off between Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Flash fans will find the movie to be everything they've ever wanted as their favorite character takes front and center.

The Sword in the Stone

A young orphan named "Wart" wants nothing more than to be the squire to his older foster brother. Merlin the Magician sees more potential in the boy and begins training him for a greater destiny. "Wart" accompanies his brother to a tournament in London, where he will discover his true fate as Merlin's visions of greatness unfold.

We all know how it feels when you remember a movie one way from childhood and realize as an adult it's not quite as it seemed. That was my feeling as I watched Disney's "The Sword in the Stone." Far be it for me to start slinging mud at what is considered to be a classic in the eyes of many. However, it became tedious watching Merlin the Magician teach "Wart" life lessons through turning himself and the boy into one animal after another and breaking into song.

I've never been a big fan of any musicals. I'm sure this factor has everything to do with my lack of enthusiasm for "The Sword in the Stone." My preferred version of the Arthur story would lean more towards the adventurous "Excalibur."

"The Sword in the Stone" does contain quite a bit of magic. Some people with certain religious convictions will find this a good reason to steer clear of the movie. However, I would have to say that anyone who watches "The Lord of the Rings" films has no right to throw rocks at this one.

My 7-year old loved "The Sword in the Stone," so maybe I've just outgrown it. He's watched it twice already, where I found it near impossible to sit through once. If children like it, does it really matter what this old reviewer thinks about it anyway? It's been proven time and time again that Disney movies are critic-proof.

Detention Of The Dead

Do you remember all the typical garbage you had to deal with in high school? You had to wear the right clothes, hang out with the right crowd, and get all your homework done so you could pass. All those seem hard enough to handle. Now add to your laundry list of things to do "Escape from my fellow students who have turned into zombies." High School was bad enough before. Imagine having to attend "Detention of the Dead."

A nerd, a jock, a cheerleader, a bully, a goth, and a stoner are stuck together in detention. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? It's just a typical afternoon in high school until ravenous zombies overtake the hallways. Now the motley crew of teens must put aside their differences in order to survive a terrifying night of the walking dead.

"Detention of the Dead" is exactly what it looks and sounds like. It's "The Breakfast Club" and "Night of the Living Dead" blended together. It's impressive how well Director/Co-Writer Alex Craig Mann takes a zombie apocalypse and uses it for the backdrop of a film about six high schoolers from different walks of life. Not only are they struggling to fight the stereotypes, but now they have to save themselves from being devoured by masses of teenage walking dead.

There are several ways "Detention of the Dead" pays homage to "The Breakfast Club." Each of the characters here are basically updates of the ones in John Hughes' legendary film. At one point, the kids climb through the air ducts, just like Judd Nelson's character did in the classic 1980's film. No matter how tough Nelson's character was, he would have freaked out and ran in the other direction if he came face-to-face with these flesh-eaters.

It's nice to see a movie where practical effects take front and center. Every scene of zombie carnage uses real props, giving the film a classic flavor sorely missing these days. The makeup for the living dead is good for the most part, with only a few missteps here and there when it comes to detail. This minor fault can be overlooked if you take into account how many people had to have makeup applied. Add to that the fact this is a low-budget flick shot in a small time frame.

The cast of "Detention of the Dead" is an impressive mix of television and movie stars. Christa B. Allen of "Revenge" plays the cheerleader. "Greek's" Jacob Zachar portrays the nerd. Alexa Nikolas of "Zoey 101" and "The Walking Dead" takes on the role of the goth girl. Jayson Blair from "The Hard Times of RJ Berger" and "The New Normal" is the bully. "The Twilight Saga's" Justin Chon plays the stoner. Max Adler of "Glee" portrays the jock.

"Detention of the Dead" is unrated, but if put before the MPAA would be given an R. There's plenty of gore and bloody violence to satisfy bloodhounds. The language is what you would expect from a movie set in a high school. There's no nudity, but plenty of adult situations and sexual humor.

Zombie films are a dime a dozen these days, and they're all preaching some type of serious social commentary. "Detention of the Dead" rises above the multitudes of "Night of the Living Dead" and "The Walking Dead" impersonators by injecting a dose of comedy and relatable characters to the recipe. Everybody went to high school and they all fell into one of the social circles represented in the movie. The only difference here is that viewers probably didn't have run-ins with zombies stumbling through the hallways. Okay, I'm not counting the potheads or druggies shuffling by as you ran to class before the tardy bell rings.

Bullet to the Head

I'd start this review off with a strong "Sylvester Stallone is back," but it's just not true. He's very much been in the limelight recently. The 67-year old actor won't be held down by his age. After a 3-year hiatus back in 2003, he returned to the ring by acting in and directing "Rocky Balboa." Not content to just re-visit one of his most well-known characters, Stallone also put the headband back on for a fourth helping of "First Blood" in "Rambo."

James Bonomo (Sylvester Stallone) is a New Orleans hitman whose partner (Jon Seda) was just murdered in a double-cross. Washington D.C. detective Taylor Kwan (Sung Kang) is sent to Louisiana's capital city to investigate the death of his former colleague (Holt McCallany). Bonomo and Kwan form an unlikely alliance after they discover the two killings are somehow linked.

After the two star-filled "Expendables" films, Stallone obviously felt it was time to test his merit as a one-man show with "Bullet to the Head." Unfortunately, audiences didn't respond so well to his first solo outing as an action anti-hero. It's a real shame, because the movie is an entertaining return to the high-octane and high body count days of the 1980s and 1990s.

I'm not saying "Bullet to the Head" features only Stallone providing all the excitement. It's very much a buddy-cop film and co-star Kang provides plenty of thrills himself. Nonetheless, Stallone is obviously the one carrying all the star power.

We can debate all day whether he's right or wrong in his use of steroids. Let's just talk about the surface issue here. Stallone looks darn good for a guy who could be a great-grandfather. He's ripped and his upper body resembles a King Cobra about to strike. He doesn't look half-bad in a fitted three-piece suit, either.

Stallone does what he does best in "Bullet to the Head." He plays a tough guy with a calm demeanor who doesn't say much. Instead, he lets his fists and guns do the talking. He might have a stunt double that does all his fighting for him, but Stallone still moves effortlessly in every scene. You never stop once to ask whether Director Walter Hill yelled cut and put someone else in to fight Jason Momoa or any of the other guys his character gets into scraps with.

Director Walter Hill uses "Bullet to the Head" as a reminder to audiences that he once made violent action films like this for a living. He's the same guy who gave us such classic popcorn flicks as both the "48 Hrs." movies, "The Warriors," "Red Heat," and others. I'm not going to say that this is better or worse than any of those films, but it's an enjoyable way to blow 90-minutes after a hard day at work or on a Saturday afternoon.

"Bullet to the Head" works hard to earn its R rating. Like any good action film from the 1980s, there's plenty of violence. The blood spray from gunshot wounds and actual onscreen carnage is much heavier here, though. There's also plenty of nudity and loads of bad language. Its everything one would expect from these types of movies.

If it weren't for the cell phones and computers, "Bullet to the Head" could easily be mistaken for any of the great action movies of the 1980s and 1990s. The Louisiana setting is a welcome change from the typical LA or New York City locales we see in these movies. There are points where things get a bit predictable, but instead of being annoying they provide a warm feeling of nostalgia.

The Incredible Melting Man

Astronaut Steve West (Alex Rebar) wakes up in a hospital after a trip to Saturn and discovers he's melting. His body is literally turning gelatinous before his (and our) very eyes. His new "condition" drives him mad and gives him an appetite for human flesh. When word of Rebar's escape gets out, Doctor Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning) and General Michael Perry (Myron Healey) must track him down before he does any more harm to innocent civilians or himself.

If ever there was a film ripe to be given the Mystery Science Theater 3000 or Horror Remix treatment, "The Incredible Melting Man" would definitely be a "high-priority" candidate. Everyone knows about "Mystery Science Theater 3000." If you don't live in certain areas of the country, you may not be familiar with a Horror Remix. Horror Remixes whittle your standard 90-minute horror or slasher film down to its bare necessities, which usually brings the running time in at 30 to 35 minutes. As they say, "It's All Killer, No Filler."

So much time is wasted with the Incredible Melting Man stumbling around through the woods. We also get highly awkward close-ups of actor Burr DeBenning. Another entertaining sequence features some of the most useless bantering between an old idiotic couple who run into our tragic anti-hero while walking in the woods to steal lemons. Yes, it's as ridiculous as it sounds... and I love it! Add to all this a giant dose of awful dialogue and badly timed editing and you have a true low-budget feast.

The real star of "The Incredible Melting Man" is Rick Baker's makeup effects. The oozing and dripping globs of dissolving flesh are genuinely nasty. Scenes of half-eaten limbs and a partially disintegrated head only add to the stomach-churning fun. There's nothing quite like watching an eyeball slip slowly out of its socket and run down the gooey face of the lead character. Baker's handiwork leaves you wanting to take a shower after viewing the film.

"The Incredible Melting Man" was originally released in 1977 and was rated R. It has everything you would expect in a low-budget sci-fi/horror flick from that time period. There's plenty of gore, violence, bad language, and one scene of nudity. Did we need the nudity? I don't think so, but every producer of these types of films did back then.

"The Incredible Melting Man" is obviously not for everyone. If you're a film snob only interested in high-brow cinema you won't appreciate this piece of horror history. This is for lovers of B-movies dripping with terrible acting that are so bad they're good.

The Host
The Host(2013)

I'm one of the only males on the planet Earth who actually admit to liking the "Twilight" movies and books. That being said, I have to say I was excited when I heard sci-fi Director Andrew Niccol was adapting Stephenie Meyer's other novel, "The Host," for the big screen. "Gattaca" was widely acclaimed and even "In Time" received mixed reviews. I was hoping Niccol would at least find a happy medium in between those two and give author Meyer's fans something to be proud of. Unfortunately, I didn't get what I wanted upon viewing the movie.

Aliens have invaded Earth and taken over the bodies of humans as hosts. The process erases the memories of most of the victims. However, a select few have been found to be strong-willed and fight for their individuality and humanity. Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) is such a person. Her drive to save her brother (Chandler Canterbury) and boyfriend (Max Irons) from being captured by the aliens creates turmoil within. Melanie battles the entity inside her for control of her body and mind.

I'm going to compare "The Host" to "Twilight" throughout this review. There's no way to avoid it, so I'll just embrace it and suffer the wrath of millions of Meyer's enthusiasts worldwide. The similarities are too obvious. Both feature a love triangle and deal with a female facing the loss of her humanity. Yes, one is a vampire and the other is an alien. Aren't we just splitting hairs here?

Let's talk about the good aspects of "The Host" to begin. The cinematography looks beautiful and adds grand scale to the production. With the exception of one or two scenes, the CGI is convincing and doesn't pull you out of the film. That's more than can be said about the "Twilight" movies. Most the acting comes off as genuine, although there's definitely some heavy-handed dialogue for the actors to fumble through.

We now move on to the negative aspects found in "The Host." Saoirse Ronan's inner dialogue gets tiresome very quick. I can't necessarily tell you what filmmakers could have used in place of it, but it became painful within the first few minutes after it started. Secondly, the action sequences in the film almost feel forced. I haven't read the book, so I can't tell you if they were added or expanded to give guys ANYTHING to enjoy when they're girlfriends make them watch this.

There's nothing too threatening about "The Host" as far as subject matter is concerned. It's a bunch of new age-sounding gobbledegoo about living in harmony with everyone and striving for peace on Earth. It also endeavors to show people can overcome incredible obstacles if they just put their minds to the task. There are a few scenes of sensuality between the three main characters which some will find offensive.

"The Host" isn't going to satisfy anyone except possibly fans of the book. It definitely won't win over any serious sci-fi fans or compel them to pick up the novel. The movie is another failed and dull attempt at starting a young adult fantasy franchise. It's even left open for a sequel, which given the movie's poor box office performance, we'll never get (at least on film).

The Last Exorcism Part II

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has generously released "The Last Exorcism Part II" on Blu-ray and DVD for those smart enough to have avoided it in theaters, but brave (or stupid?) enough to give it a chance at home. I know it's too late for some. Hopefully, my review can still save thousands of others from making the same mistake I did.

Eli Roth's "The Last Exorcism" was a "found footage" movie I really wanted to like. Against my better judgment, I went to see it in the theater and weathered through the first 70 minutes fighting off motion sickness the entire time. I was pleased with it until it unraveled in the last 5 minutes into a disappointing blend of "The Blair Witch Project" and "Rosemary's Baby."

"The Last Exorcism Part II" picks up with Nell Sweetzer going to live in a girl's home after the tragic events of the first movie. Things seem to be going well as she settles in to her new life by making friends, getting a job, and experiencing her first romantic relationship. Unfortunately, the demon Abalam has followed her to New Orleans and is jealous of her newfound friends and love life. He wants Nell for himself and will stop at nothing to re-take her soul.

How I thought a follow-up with the ridiculous title "The Last Exorcism Part II" would undo any of the damage done by the first film's pedestrian conclusion remains to be seen. It's my own fault for having ANY expectations going into this completely unnecessary sequel. To say there's no reason for this to exist would be foolish, as the box office take proves otherwise. Good or bad, it paid for itself and made enough money to justify its existence financially.

There are a couple positive aspects I can talk about in regards to "The Last Exorcism Part II." Ashley Bell's performance as demon-oppressed Nell Sweetzer is so captivating and heartfelt that it gives the movie an emotional depth it doesn't deserve. She's been rightfully compared to Sissy Spacek in "Carrie." Bell is destined to shine in much better films in the future.

The second thing that makes this movie easier to stomach than the first is its lack of shaky-cam cinematography. What you see on screen might be mediocre and dull, but at least your eyes can focus on it. You'll have no need for an airplane barf bag when watching this.

Everything else found in "The Last Exorcism Part II" is recycled filler at best. We're supposed to believe the demon is in love with Nell. This is displayed in an awkward scene where she is levitated off her bed "Exorcist" style and then sexually manhandled by the invisible Abalam. All this is happening right next to her sleeping roommate.

The physical embodiment of Abalam is laughable at best. Basically, it's a person in regular street clothing and hoodie wearing a mask for a masquerade ball. This is the best idea Co-writer Damien Chazelle and Director / Co-writer Ed Gass-Donnelly could come up with?

Although the rest of the movie is nothing to get excited over, the climax and ending of the film is where it completely falls apart. Once again, a horror movie about demon possession finds the "good guys" seeking out a solution to the problem through other avenues besides the obvious. It's convenient that in every one of these movies there's never a priest or pastor around who truly has strong enough faith to exorcise the demon from the victim.

This time, a secret organization known as the Order of the Right Hand who use Haitian voodoo rituals and the conjuring of Baron Samedi is called upon to lure the demon out of Nell's body. Use the powers of a Haitian Voodoo spirit known for disruption, obscenity, debauchery, and his love of tobacco and rum to battle a demon intent on possessing a girl? If it doesn't sound like this strategy makes a lot of sense, it's because it DOESN'T!

Extra features for the DVD release of "The Last Exorcism Part II" are more entertaining than the movie itself. A featurette entitled "Hair Salon Scare" shows people getting groomed in front of a two-way mirror. The image of a freaky girl resembling Nell appears through the glass and scares the customers. The "Shooting in New Orleans" featurette will interest anyone wanting to watch Producer Eli Roth make a fool of himself by admitting he had any part in the making of this dreadful film.

"The Last Exorcism Part II" is as senseless story wise as its name. It's a string of redundant horror movie clichés only held together by Ashley Bell's wonderfully plausible and overly qualified acting. Count yourself blessed if you haven't already wasted your time watching this mess.

Last Kind Words

Image Entertainment always gives independent filmmakers an outlet to get their projects out to the masses. Many of these movies fall into the extremely competitive genre of horror and suffer from collapsing into the realm of cliché. "Last Kind Words" is one of the rare exceptions to this unfortunate trend.

17-year-old Eli (Spencer Daniels) and his family move to the Kentucky backwoods after the father (Clay Wilcox) loses his job. He decides to work on the secluded farm of a childhood friend and recluse (Brad Dourif). Upon exploring the woods near his new home, he meets a girl named Amanda (Alexia Fast) and feels an instant connection to her. His journeys also expose him to a dark secret the dead want restitution for from beyond the grave.

It's always a treat when you put in a movie expecting nothing more than a one-dimensional horror yarn but you get so much more. Looking at the cover of "Last Kind Words," you'd think it was just another typical angry ghost flick. Instead, Director / Screenwriter Kevin Barker and Storywriter Amy Riherd Miller fashioned a touching feature that takes a coming-of-age tale and gives it more depth by combining it with an old-fashioned Southern gothic ghost story. It keeps the viewer's interest and slowly leads them to the answers to their own queries without losing any potency along the way.

The acting in independent or low-budget films can be questionable at times. That's not the case with "Last Kind Words." You can tell every actor in the movie was dedicated to the film and put their best foot forward. Brad Dourif completely embraces his role as the enigmatic hermit and landowner. Spencer Daniels commands every scene he's in. You can see the emotional depth he invested in the role in his eyes. Alexia Fast is passionate as the character of the mysterious and tragic Amanda.

"Last Kind Words" is only available in a regular DVD format. Those looking for a high-definition experience will find this disappointing. While we're addressing unsatisfactory elements of this release, I find it necessary to comment on the lack of special features. This is an independent movie made by filmmakers hungry to tell their stories. I refuse to believe that Director / Screenwriter Kevin Barker and Storywriter Amy Riherd Miller weren't willing to do feature commentary or at least put together a short "Making of" featurette.

I have a hard time using the term "horror movie" to describe "Last Kind Words." There's so much more to it than the usual jump scares we're used to getting these days. While the film does provide adequate thrills and chills, they're accompanied and spread throughout a grievous tale of isolationism, selfishness, loss, and the quest for closure.

Pacific Rim
Pacific Rim(2013)

"Pacific Rim" is going to be a hit with fanboys all over the planet. It's the type of movie that they feel obligated to love because of what it's about and who made it. In this case we have a movie about alien dinosaurs (Kaijus) fighting giant robots (Jaegers) directed by Guillermo del Toro (filmmaker who most Comi-Con attendees think can do no wrong). Sounds like it should work on every level doesn't it? Yeah, well it doesn't!

Alien monsters named Kaijus come up through a rift in the Pacific Ocean (Get it, "PACIFIC Rim"). Giant robots steered by military officers are used to battle these ferocious extraterrestrials. Our military must join forces with the world's most annoying scientists to find a way to seal off the portal between our world and the dimension they come from.

Let's start out my review on a positive note. The CGI in "Pacific Rim" looks great. The aliens and robots blend very well with all their surroundings.

And that's the only thing I can come up with positive about "Pacific Rim." As a whole, the movie is absolutely unbearable to sit through. It escapes me how sequences of robots and aliens fighting each other could be so uninspiring that I literally dozed off at points.

The design of the Kaijus are completely unoriginal and nothing we haven't seen before in a dozen other sci-fi movies. The Jaegers are basically souped-up giant robots that resemble what we've seen in "Power Rangers" dressed in "Halo" armor. Booooring.

Now we move into character development. The entire middle of the movie is one big, long, drawn-out attempt at developing characters we will feel emotionally tied to. I completely understand the writer's motivation for doing this.

The problem is that every character in "Pacific Rim" is so annoying you actually want them to die or exit the screen as quickly as possible. Add to this the fact that not a single one of the actors seem to give a crap about their stereotypical role in the film and you have a serious problem. In a nutshell, the acting is absolutely horrid.

"Pacific Rim" is a tired conglomeration of clichés we've already seen in way better movies in the past. There are so many recycled ideas mashed up in it that you could almost put them down on a call sheet as bullet points. Character who lost his brother in a past battle and retired? Check. He's being called back into duty by his old military leader? Check. Military leader gets a chance to be the hero and sacrifice himself in one last battle? Check. Military leader gets to give long rousing inspirational speech just like the one the President gives in "Independence Day?" Check. They're all here for your predictable enjoyment.

Let's just call "Pacific Rim" what it really is. It's Guillermo del Toro's failed attempt at making what he wished was his essential "Ultraman vs. Godzilla" homage. As I was running out of words to use in place of "unoriginal," I came across several synonyms that describe this movie to a tee: dull, unoriginal, corny, heavy-handed, humdrum, ordinary, phoned in, stale, uncreative, unexciting, unimaginative, unimpressive, uninspiring, uninteresting, and uninventive.

I'm giving parents a warning in closing. There's no way any child under the age of 12 will sit through "Pacific Rim." Absolutely nothing exciting happens for 45 minutes in the middle, at which time they will get uncontrollably antsy and beg you to leave. This won't bother you because you'll be ready to run out of the theater screaming by then anyway.

Dead Souls
Dead Souls(2012)

When reviewing movies, it's sometimes hard to judge them fairly by the mediums they were created for. For instance, to come down as hard on a TV-movie created on a small budget as you do a bigger one like the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" remake would be unjust. That's how I tried to look at Chiller's "Dead Souls."

Johnny Petrie (Jesse James) inherits an old farmhouse on his 18th birthday from a family he didn't even know he had. Tired of living under the thumb of his overprotective aunt (Geraldine Hughes), he decides to visit his boyhood home and solve the mystery as to who he really is. Upon arriving, he discovers his father (J.H. Torrance Downes) was a local preacher in the small Maine town. He went crazy one night and murdered his entire family, leaving the restless spirits of his mother (Elizabeth Irene) and siblings (Kyle Donnery and Bridget Megan Clark) trapped in the house for eternity.

"Dead Souls" is an effective little supernatural thriller from Chiller directing regular Colin Theys. He does as well here with the haunted house genre as he did with the zombie genre when he helmed Steve Niles' "Remains." That might not win many over, but I thought the Las Vegas-set living dead tale was an entertaining entry into the world of Saturday Night straight-to-cable B-movies.

Things tend to happen quickly in a 90-minute movie based on a 295-page novel. Yes, character development in the movie feels a bit rushed and it would have been nice to get them a little more fleshed out, but overall I thought director Theys and screenwriter John Doolan did what they could with the time they had allotted.

Just like most low-budget horror films, "Dead Souls" has one big genre actor it relies on to help bring in fans. In this case, we have Bill Moseley ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre II," "The Devil's Rejects") playing the retired town sheriff who's privy to the dark secret the old farmhouse and its property holds. Moseley adds a level of legitimacy to the movie, as I'm sure filmmakers were counting on.

"Dead Souls" is presented in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.78:1) and both DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo. The picture quality is clear, clean, and easy on the eyes. Whether you watch it utilizing the 5.1 surround sound or 2.0 stereo, there are plenty of creepy bumps, screams, and jolting sound effects to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat in anticipation of jumping through the roof.

Special features on the Blu-ray release of "Dead Souls" include commentary provided by Director Colin Theys, Producer Andrew Gernhard, and Screenwriter John Doolan. There's also a tour of the set guided by Director Theys. Bloopers and TV spots round out the bonus material.

Whether it was his intentions or not, "Dead Souls" writer Michael Laimo did a great job warning audiences what happens when you lose faith in God and begin to think you need something else as a religious supplement to the Bible. I'm speaking as a movie critic who happens to be a Christian, of course. This shows the tragedy the fallen preacher's family suffered all because he didn't fully believe and rely on God to take care of them and their eternal souls. To make a long explanation short, it highlights the dangers of mixing cult and Biblical beliefs together.

I'm a sucker for ghost stories and, while not being as solid as theatrical releases like "Sinister" and others, "Dead Souls" still delivers enough scares to make it worth the viewer's time. The film does leave a little too much to the imagination sometimes when it comes to minor plot points. It relies on the audience's common sense to come into play and fill in what we don't see transpire onscreen. However, if you can get past its weak points and just enjoy the movie for what it is, you'll find a decent little thriller here to keep you entertained on a Saturday night at the house.

6 Souls
6 Souls(2013)

There's nothing worse than a supernatural thriller that has you mesmerized for the first two acts only to lose your respect in the last two. That's exactly how I felt when I pressed "Stop" after watching "6 Souls." All the warning signs for a movie that doesn't deliver were there. For instance, it was originally released in 2010 with a different title ("Shelter") and just now is seeing the light of day.

Dr. Cara Harding (Julianne Moore) is introduced to a patient named Adam (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) who has multiple personalities. After researching some of them, she realizes they are all actual murder victims. Cara starts digging into the man's past to discover how or if his personalities all tie together somehow. Her investigations lead to encounters with the victim's relatives and mysterious religious fanatics.

Talk about a movie showing promise and then just falling off the deep end halfway through. "6 Souls" carries itself quite well with good pacing, creepy sequences, and a mystery that keeps you wondering what is really going on throughout. Suddenly, the whole thing derails and becomes a confusing mess which pits the followers of a weird mix of voodoo and Christianity against a crazy faith healer in a fatal spiritual battle.

One really positive aspect of the movie is we get to see Jonathan Rhys Meyers really flex his acting muscles. He plays several distinct characters that each carry themselves uniquely and are from different parts of the country and use different accents. We get to see firsthand how talented Rhys Meyers really is.

"6 Souls" gets points taken off with me because it exhibits mixing voodoo and Christianity together. As a Christian, the film loses any credibility with me when the crazy old Granny Holler Witch (Joyce Feuller) is shown chanting over a body, sucking a man's soul out, and putting it in a jar before she begins curing him. People aren't supposed to combine pagan practices with Christian ones. The very idea is completely un-Biblical.

"6 Souls" looks and sounds wonderful. The 5.1 surround sound enhances the viewing experience by sonically submerging the audience directly into the center of the action. The picture is clear and the melancholy colors used for the movie fit its bleak tone.

There's no bonus material featured on the Blu-ray version of "6 Souls." I can't believe there isn't audio commentary or a trailer for the movie included just to give the release some type of supplements. It would've been nice to hear what writer Michael Cooney or directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein were thinking when the movie comes unhinged and veers off-track in the end.

I wanted to like "6 Souls" as I popped it into my Blu-ray player. I was engaged and caught up in its initial narrative for about 70 of its 112 minutes. Unfortunately, the tale comes unraveled and spins out of control leaving an incoherent mess in its wake. Not even great acting from Julianne Moore and an even more impressive performance by Jonathan Rhys Meyers could save this from coming across as an inept attempt at making a supernatural thriller or psychological horror film.

The Lone Ranger

Disney certainly has their hands full these days. It seems like the Mouse House owns the rights to almost every successful franchise on the planet. You've got Marvel Comics characters, the world of Oz, the Muppets, "Star Wars," and now "The Lone Ranger."

Most Disney films do quite well at the box office, but every now and then a flop comes along. Even though I loved the movie myself, the studio considers "John Carter" to be a miserable failure. Westerns don't do very well in the theater these days. One would think a producer investing in a movie about a masked outlaw and his Indian companion in the Old West would work out about as well as putting the money in a few bags and throwing it into a fiery furnace. Apparently, not if the Indian happens to be Johnny Depp and the director is "Pirates of the Caribbean" helmsman Gore Verbinski.

John Reid rides along with his Texas Ranger brother to track down a ruthless bandit. After the group of lawmen is killed in an ambush, Reid is left for dead. Native American Tonto finds the injured Reid and nurses him back to health. It's now left up to the unlikely union of these two very different men to track down the killer of Reid's brother and bring him to justice.

Are American audiences ready to accept an old-fashioned Western? I think they are. Especially if it's disguised as a summer action / adventure blockbuster from explosive producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp is leading the way. And let's be honest, Johnny Depp IS leading the way. He commands every scene he is in and his presence overshadows Armie Hammer's.

The movie might be called "The Lone Ranger," but its Tonto telling the tale and he basically guides the title character throughout. The hero's Indian friend saves his life countless times and even creates the masked alter ego. The Lone Ranger just sort of eeks his way through all the trials and tribulations thrown in front of him.

By no means am I saying I didn't like "The Lone Ranger." It's packed full of great action sequences and delivers all sorts of thrills. Armie Hammer does a great job showing the difficulty his character of John Reid has taking on the role of the Lone Ranger. It's a true origin story, showing a man's burdensome transformation from proper lawyer to gun slinging servant of justice.

I enjoyed how "The Lone Ranger" felt like a true Western. Every character was dirty throughout the entire film. There were no fashion cowboys to be seen anywhere. All the sets looked genuine and what CGI there was blended well with the actors and props. It was a well-made and believable period piece that will age gracefully.

I was surprised by the amount of violence in the film. The movie wasn't overly gory, but was graphic. There's a lot of deaths portrayed onscreen. Parents should definitely heed the PG-13 rating.

One thing that bothered me in the movie was when a lady asks John Reid if he wants to sing church hymns with her and he replies that his book of the law is his Bible. He insinuates he doesn't believe in God. That goes against the moral code laid out by "Lone Ranger" creators Fran Striker and George W. Trendle. One of the masked hero's creeds reads, "I believe in my Creator, my country, my fellow man." Of course this happens before he turns into the Lone Ranger and realizes that his idea of serving justice doesn't always work. Maybe he has a change of heart when he accepts his destiny.

"The Lone Ranger" delivers plenty of action and a solid storyline which, though predictable, will hold the viewer's attention. I just hope that if there is a sequel, we'll get more of the Lone Ranger with our Tonto. Next time, let's have a fully trained and action-ready masked avenger who can hold his own. I understand there had to be some character development in this origin film, but let's move on now that we have all that established.

Kronk's New Groove

"Kronk's New Groove" is the direct-to-DVD sequel and obviously concentrates on Yzma's dim-witted henchman. When Kronk finds out his demanding father is coming for a visit, he becomes concerned that his new life as the chef of his own restaurant won't be enough to please him. The devious Yzma uses his insecurities to her advantage and lures Kronk to assist her in an evil "get-rich-quick" scheme. After realizing the consequences of his actions, the loveable lunkhead must find a way to fix all the damage he's caused to his friends.

The Emperor Kuzco shows up briefly to provide commentary for "Kronk's New Groove." However, that's all we see of him. This is a delightfully funny sequel to the first film and teaches children the importance of being honest and thinking about the consequences of your actions before doing something.

The Emperor's New Groove

Kuzco is the selfish emperor of the large Incan kingdom. His scheming advisor, Yzma, turns the self-absorbed king into a llama to gain control of his throne and become its new ruler. The transformed Kuzco awakens to find himself banished from his royal city. He must join forces with a villager named Pacha to regain his leadership and find a cure that will turn him back into the man he once was.

"The Emperor's New Groove" is one of my favorite Disney animated movies. It features an all-star voice cast including David Spade, John Goodman, Patrick Warburton, and the late Eartha Kitt. Each one of these actors gives their characters depth and successfully brings them to life. This launched enough audience interest to convince Disney to make a direct-to-DVD sequel and a television show.

There's some great humor found in "The Emperor's New Groove." Of course, we get David Spade's sarcasm and wit. Patrick Warburton keeps audiences laughing in delight as he plays the "no brains - all brawn" henchman of Yzma named Kronk. It also helps that the movie isn't a musical. There's some musical numbers, but the character's don't stop dead in their tracks and start bellowing out a song every five minutes like many of the classic Disney films.

"The Emperor's New Groove" is a great tool to help teach children the importance of thinking about how your actions affect others. It also shows how selfishness can cloud your judgment and hurt people. Disney continues to find entertaining ways to tell a tale of morality and be enjoyable at the same time.

Atlantis - The Lost Empire

In "Atlantis: The Lost World," historian Milo Thatch leads a crew of the world's greatest archaeologists and explorers in a search for the lost city of Atlantis. They travel through the depths of the dangerous sea aboard the submarine Ulysses. Only expecting to unearth ruins and artifacts, the team is astonished to find the ancient city still thriving with life.

This is one of my all-time favorite animated Disney features. It's a masterful blend of Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and "Journey to the Center of the Earth." "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" is an adventure tale mixed with everything you could ever want in a fantasy film. There are elements of science fiction, mythology, and mystery all combined to form a highly exciting and entertaining tale.

Steampunk fans will find something to enjoy in the film, as well. All sorts of interesting advanced mechanical technology appear that shouldn't exist in the early 1900s. It has a "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" vibe to it as well, which isn't surprising since comic book artist Mike Mignola was one of the production designers for the movie.

Any fan of hand-drawn animation and Jules Verne will love the blend of science fiction, action, and fantasy you'll get from "Atlantis: The Lost Empire."

Atlantis: Milo's Return

The reformed crew from "Atlantis: The Lost Empire"returns to the ancient underwater city and recruit Milo and Kida to help them battle a sea monster in "Atlantis: Milo's Return." The two are eager to return to their world, but keep getting drawn into different adventures by eccentric Preston B. Moore. They find themselves going up against vicious coyote specters, a vengeful spirit, and a madman who believes he's the god Odin.

"Atlantis: Milo's Return" suffers from being a compilation of the three episodes finished for a television series which was scrapped after the first movie didn't perform as well as Disney expected. They're interesting yarns somehow all connected to Atlantis. Ultimately, they fall short of living up to the greatness of their predecessor.

The animation for "Atlantis: Milo's Return" is way below that of "Atlantis: The Lost Empire." It resembles the Hanna-Barbera cartoons from the late 1990s / early 2000s, which isn't bad. It's just not what you expect from Disney. The different episodes reduce Milo, Atlantean Kida, and the rest of the rehabilitated mercenaries from the first movie to a sort of "Scooby-Doo" gang of mystery solvers.

Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch

"Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch" finds the cuddly rascal from another planet helping Lilo get ready for the big island hula contest. When there's a malfunction, his destructive programming is restored and he goes back to acting the way he did before he was "tamed." Will Stitch glitch out for good, or will he recover and repair his friendship with Lilo?

This sequel might not be quite as good as the original, but it still has a lot of going for it. As a direct-to-DVD project, you can't expect the same animation quality as you get from a theatrical release. "Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch" is still a charming and thoughtful follow-up.

Lilo & Stitch

In "Lilo & Stitch," a lonely Hawaiian girl looks to fill the void in her life with a pet she adopts from an animal shelter. Little does she know that she hasn't taken in any ordinary dog. What she's brought home is a mischievous alien who's an escaped fugitive from another galaxy. Can Lilo tame the little creature before he complicates life for both her and her sister?

"Lilo & Stitch" is one of my favorite "new" Disney classics. What's not to love about a terrorizing extraterrestrial that has no sense of self-control and acts like an untamed beast? Add to that his love for classic rock 'n roll and you've got the equivalent of E.T. on crack. The rotten little brat inside me loves the little monster with all my heart.

The other reason I adore "Lilo & Stitch" is because it's not littered with characters breaking out in song in awkward places. There's music worked into it, but they're believable parts like a dancing number, a surfing scene, and a couple of songs Stitch performs for people or dances to with Lilo. Let's just sum it up by saying this isn't a typical musical.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

If you haven't seen the "The Road Warrior" by now, what are you waiting for? Any fan of action, sci-fi, or post-apocalyptic films will love thids movie. You better get educated now before the upcoming video game and new movie, "Mad Max: Fury Road," hits theaters and you're left in the dust wondering what all the fuss is about.

Max is an ex-police officer that gets caught up in other people's problems in a post-apocalyptic world where gas and other everyday commodities have become extremely scarce. In order to get these people out of trouble, he somehow always ends up in a fast-paced battle between futuristic weaponized cars built out of junkyard scraps. Just watching these vehicular skirmishes will provide therapy for anyone's road rage.

"The Road Warrior" contains some unnecessary scenes of brief nudity. Who can forget those buttless chaps the one guy in wears? Obviously, there's graphic sequences of violence and some bad language as well.

Jack the Giant Slayer

Bryan Singer has never been a filmmaker whose work I've celebrated and adored. It's not that his films aren't entertaining to some degree. However, they always seem to have an issue with pacing, which could just as well be blamed on the writers he chooses to work with. Most of them feel as if they lose their footing in the last act. His latest movie, "Jack The Giant Slayer" is no different.

A younger farmer named Jack (Nicholas Hoult) accidently drops a magic bean under the floorboard of his shack, resulting in a monstrous beanstalk growing into the heavens and bridging the gap between a world of giants and the Earth. The giants want their land back, which was taken from them in battle centuries before. When a princess is caught by the vengeful behemoths, Jack joins the King's(Ian McShane) rescue team to get her back.

"Jack The Giant Slayer" starts off well enough and establishes all the important characters and their motivations. Screenwriters Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie, and Dan Studney even set up a solid foundation for their story to be told through flashbacks to the legendary events of the past that occurred between the giants and the humans.

Instead of building up excitement and tension for the climax to the film, Singer manages to wind things down and then rev them up again. He can't seem to find a satisfying or fluid way to end his films. I ultimately blame this on Singer and not the writers because he's the one constant element of each movie of his this tends to happen with (the first two "X-Men" movies come to mind).

The visual effects for "Jack The Giant Slayer" look good for the most part. There are spots that could and should have been better. The beanstalks and their foliage definitely looked animated in many scenes. I always walk away from these types of CGI fests wondering why or how filmmakers would leave certain aspects looking the way they do. I know it ultimately all boils down to budget and a production's deadline.

The cast of "Jack The Giant Slayer" is filled with talented actors who give their all. Nicholas Hoult is enjoyable and likeable as Jack. Ewan McGregor has a lot of fun with his character of Elmont, the witty and loyal protector of the King and his daughter. Stanley Tucci does an excellent job of making you despise the King's devious confidant, Roderick.

"Jack The Giant Slayer" may lose steam towards the end, but the journey is still exciting and humorous. It's family-friendly fun and blends together fairy tale elements that will appeal to both girls and boys. Fans of damsels in distress and Disney Princesses will be pleased just as much as guys wanting an action-movie fix.

Man of Steel
Man of Steel(2013)

Just like many children of the 1970s, I had a hard time accepting what I saw in the first trailers for "Man of Steel." How dare someone come along and try to tell me someone else could be Superman besides Christopher Reeve! I do love those movies with all my heart (yes, even the third and fourth ones), but it's been 35 years since we've really seen a new and truly unique vision of the world's first super hero. As much as I protested, the time had come.

Let's be completely honest going into this review. Both "Superman Returns" and "Smallville" rested on the concepts made popular in Richard Donner's 1978 movie. For all intents and purposes, "Superman Returns" was a direct sequel to "Superman II." Brandon Routh completely channeled Christopher Reeve and while Kevin Spacey added his own flare to the role of Lex Luthor, he still fit into the same character mold Gene Hackman created. "Smallville" had numerous cameos by the stars of the original films and set designs and music were even used for the hit TV series.

Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) has known since his early childhood that he's endowed with super powers and an orphan from another planet. As he grows into manhood, he begins to drift from one job to another on his journey to discover who he is and why he's here. When the Earth is threatened by an extraterrestrial invader, Clark must embrace his destiny to save mankind from certain doom.

"Man of Steel" does its very best to stand completely separate from anything done before. There are no glowing crystals, no familiar score, or anything visually reminiscent of the past five films we've seen. The Clark Kent we get here is one drifting around looking for the right opportunity to show himself to the world. He doesn't act clumsy, inept, or naïve. Instead, he's a working man who uses his powers when it's absolutely necessary and then disappears afterward. That's really the biggest difference in character portrayal you'll see between the Clark Kent / Superman of Richard Donner's and Zack Snyder's films.

I have to give Director Zack Snyder and writers David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan credit for taking on the responsibility of rebooting the Superman legend. It's a task that could quite frankly destroy a filmmaker's credibility in the world of comic book movies and geekdom. Thankfully, all their hard work paid off with "Man of Steel."

Instead of "Man of Steel" just being another retread of the character's origin story, it revisits his past and childhood through flashbacks much like Bruce Wayne did in "Batman Begins." It isn't mapped out from start to finish like "Superman The Movie." This works perfectly for the fast pace Snyder and company chose to take. We're thrown directly into the action in the film and get the backstory as we move along.

Although there are absolutely no direct ties to the 1970s and 1980s "Superman" films in terms of the visuals, one could argue that "Man of Steel" is an upgraded version of "Superman II." There are a couple of definite parallels between the two. General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his army first destroy Smallville, much the way they destroyed the little town in Richard Lester's 1980s classic. They then move on to Metropolis, where Superman dukes it out with Zod's cohorts.

I also found it interesting that Superman mainly battles two individuals in Smallville. One is the female Faora-Ul (Antje Traue) and the other is an unnamed giant of a being that pummels our hero and tosses him back and forth through the town's streets. Comparisons could be made to Zod's partners-in-crime, Ursa and Non, in "Superman II."

One thing that bothered me throughout the film was a seemingly lack of concern over what sort of havoc and destruction the battles between Superman and the Kryptonians were wreaking on both Smallville and Metropolis. It didn't seem like our super hero was giving much thought to who he might be injuring as he pummeled and pounded through buildings and other objects and they fell to the ground on innocent bystanders. I tried to explain it away in my mind that it was out of his hands and he was just trying to do his best to end the battles quickly with as little collateral damage as possible. All I can think about is a scene in "Superman II" where Christopher Reeve is concerned with moving the action away from populated areas so no one is harmed.

Hans Zimmer's score for "Man of Steel" fits the movie's somber and explosive tones. However, it never grabs you the way John Williams' iconic theme for "Superman The Movie" does. Instead of having a life of its own, it's really used primarily as an accent to what we're seeing on screen.

The CGI and special effects in "Man of Steel" are incredible. There were a few scenes on Krypton that still had that animated feel, but this is more than made up for in the incredible action sequences and battles in Smallville and Metropolis. I would almost go as far as to say that the boundaries of human interaction using CGI excelled with this movie. The fight sequences between Superman and Zod literally had me stunned with mouth ajar.

I appreciated all the ties to Christianity screenwriters Goyer and Nolan brought to the film. I think Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster would have been pleased. We're talking about two guys who originally named the super hero's parents Mary and Joseph before they were changed to Jonathan and Martha.

There are a few examples of this. Clark goes to a church to get advice from a priest while an image of Jesus Christ adorns the background. He basically states in one scene he found his calling after 33 years of searching, which was the age of Christ when he began his ministry. In another scene, he asks his earthly father, "Did God do this to me?" He didn't question whether God was real, but insinuated that he knew He was there and wanted to know if He gave him his super powers. Of course, we also get the legendary arms outstretched as if he's on the cross as he dives back to the Earth to save mankind.

"Man of Steel" successfully brings the iconic super hero into the 21st Century. With the relaunch of the entire DC Universe on the printed page, it was the perfect time to take Superman in another direction. It's a great foundation to build on and has a likable and believable actor in Henry Cavill to help carry it along for as many films as he and filmmakers want to make.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown

"The Town That Dreaded Sundown" is based on a true story that occurred in 1946. Famed Texas Ranger J.D. Morales is called into Texarkana by Deputy Norman Ramsey after one young couple are beaten and tortured and another murdered on back county roads. Ramsey and Morales both suspect the incidents are tied together. They combine the forces of the local police and the Texas Rangers to catch the "Phantom Killer" before he can strike again.

I've found a new favorite director in Charles B. Pierce. He is the perfect example of a filmmaker who doesn't need to lean on graphic imagery and gore to get a viewer's blood pumping. He is a believer in the "less is more" school of thought and it works perfectly for him. Pierce slowly builds tension and then lets it explode on you at the last minute. You know something dreadful is coming but are still creeped out about it when it finally arrives.

Although "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" isn't completely a true story, all you have to do is a little investigating to know there's still quite a bit of validity in what happens onscreen. I think that's what makes the film even more frightening. The thought that real people went through these ordeals in some form or another.

I also found it interesting that besides some bad language, "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" was rather clean for this type of movie. There wasn't any nudity to be seen. I was wondering why this was until I read that director Pierce was a Baptist. A scene in "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" featuring a preacher praying at a school dance suddenly made perfect sense to me as well.

The Evictors
The Evictors(1979)

"The Evictors" takes place in a rural Louisiana town in 1942 and is also based on a true story. A young couple from New Orleans move into their dream house in the woods of Louisiana. The home seems ideal for a wife to fix up while the husband is out working his new job. The previous owners are still attached to the house and will do anything they have to in order to get it back for themselves. The new owners begin to fear for their lives as a mysterious stranger stalks and violently threatens them.

I've found a new favorite director in Charles B. Pierce. He is the perfect example of a filmmaker who doesn't need to lean on graphic imagery and gore to get a viewer's blood pumping. He is a believer in the "less is more" school of thought and it works perfectly for him. Pierce slowly builds tension and then lets it explode on you at the last minute. You know something dreadful is coming but are still creeped out about it when it finally arrives.

Although "The Evictors" isn't a completely true story, all you have to do is a little investigating to know there's still quite a bit of validity in what happens onscreen. I think that's what makes the film even more frightening. The thought that real people went through these ordeals in some form or another.

I also found it interesting that besides some bad language, "The Evictors" was rather clean for this type of movie. There wasn't any nudity to be seen. I was wondering why this was until I read that director Pierce was a Baptist.


Although Tobe Hooper's blend of sci-fi and horror didn't fare well at the box office when first released, it's gained a cult following over the years thanks to video and DVD.

An alien spacecraft is discovered in the midst of Halley's Comet by astronauts sent to investigate. Upon entering the ship, they find three humanoids which are in a type of sleep state. They bring the bodies aboard their vessel and discover too quickly that was a mistake. The aliens take over the Earthbound craft by killing everyone on board. Led by their seductively beautiful leader, they arrive on Earth and begin draining the life out of everyone they encounter.

I would say that "Lifeforce" is probably Tobe Hooper's biggest film in regards to production and budget besides "Poltergeist." The special effects quality for the time was top notch thanks to John Dykstra ("Star Wars," "Battlestar Galactica"). To be honest, this is an impressive film altogether which was worked on by many great genre talents of the 1970s, 1980s, and beyond. Besides the strong presence of Hooper and Dykstra, it also included Dan O'Bannon's touch on the screenplay. O'Bannon is known for his writing work on "Alien," "The Return of the Living Dead," "Heavy Metal," and "Total Recall." We also can't ignore a pre-"Jean-Luc Picard" Patrick Stewart playing a doctor possessed to kiss another man by an alien force.

"Lifeforce" is a successful blend of modern vampire, sci-fi disaster, and post-"Night of the Living Dead" zombie films. I know it sounds like a lot of different sub-genres to shove into one movie, but it works. The different elements are all so well mixed together and make sense thanks to a great script by O'Bannon and Don Jakoby.

To say there's an abundance of full-frontal nudity in "Lifeforce" would be an understatement. Director Hooper and actress Mathilda May would like you to believe it isn't done with the intention of being erotic. They might not have intended it to be taken that way, but let's be honest. A woman and man naked kissing and pawing all over each other passionately in an embrace can only be taken one way.

"Lifeforce" is an entertaining marriage of sci-fi and horror that will bring to mind "Alien," "The Return of the Living Dead," and other similar films of those decades. It's pacing might be a little slow at points for a modern audience, but it more than makes up for that with it's technically beautiful "2001: A Space Odyssey"-influenced cinematography.

The Howling
The Howling(1981)

After news anchor Karen White (Dee Wallace) is attacked by a mysterious stranger (Robert Picardo), she starts having bizarre dreams and night terrors about the incident. Karen's doctor (Patrick Macnee) convinces her that she and husband Bill (Christopher Stone) should go through his treatment at "The Colony." Strange things start to happen as soon as they arrive. Could Karen be cracking up or is there something sinister going on in the secluded resort?

Like most movies from the 1970s and the 1980s, "The Howling" is a slow-burner. This isn't one of those horror films that starts with a bang, keeps a frantic pace, and goes out with a bang. It slowly establishes its plot and characters and gives the audience a little at a time until the climactic and shocking end. Things might move too slowly for today's impatient audience. I even found it tedious at times. The scenes get choppy throughout and it seems like director Joe Dante was rushing things at some points.

Rob Bottin's special effects for "The Howling" are still just as effective today as they were in 1981. The werewolf transformation scenes are unnerving and quite detailed. One transformation takes what seems like three to four minutes. It's all about attention to detail when it comes to Bottin's practical effects and animatronics versus today's obsession with rapid fire CGI scenes of metamorphosis.

"The Howling" does feature quite a bit of the usual unnecessary nudity found in 1980's horror films. However, this time around director Dante attempts to justify it by analyzing our need to let the beast within out, mostly through sexual and physical acts of violence. The doctor, played by the late Patrick Macnee, convincingly regurgitates a lot of "primal scream" mumbo jumbo throughout the movie.

Although it's a bit slow and takes some time getting started, great special effects and interesting, albeit hokey, social commentary set "The Howling" apart from the normal monster movie fare.

The Purge
The Purge(2013)

From the moment I saw the first trailer for "The Purge" and read its synopsis, I knew I had to see it. The concept was so frightening yet intriguing. One thing's for sure. No one will leave the theater and immediately forget the film. I'm willing to bet many audience members will reflect on it for the next couple of days.

In the year 2022, crime and unemployment are at an all-time low in the United States. It's a wonderful time in the history of our great country. However, freedom and prosperity don't come without a price. To keep order, the government has sanctioned one night a year for citizens to "purge" themselves. During this twelve hour period, all crime is allowed and the emergency services and police are off-duty. This is an opportunity for people to get their aggressions out any way they need to, whether it be looting, murdering, or some other means.

The Sandin family (Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, and Adelaide Kane) is spending the night of the Purge barricaded inside their high-class mansion. The home's intricate security system is nearly full proof. When the Sandin's son (Burkholder) sees a man (Edwin Hodge) begging for his life in front of their house, he opens the door and lets him in. Unfortunately, the group seeking their would-be victim want to "purge" and will stop at nothing to get the man back from the Sandins and punish the rest of the family for helping him.

Writer / Director James DeMonaco does a great job leaving you stunned, disturbed, and frightened all through "The Purge." The very idea that the U.S. could sanction such an event is terrifying. What's even scarier is how the people in the movie just accept this yearly activity as the norm. They believe it's for the greater good of mankind and the country.

The scenes of violence range from gang wars to office killings and, of course, home invasions. The group that attack the Sandlins can't be more than eighteen years old. To see these kids commit random acts of violence to relieve their stress is unsettling. Some die very horrible deaths themselves because of their gruesome deeds. At times, I didn't know whether to cheer or feel sorry for them as they met their ends.

Many people see a movie's running time and judge it by that. If it's less than ninety minutes long, it's under suspicion and usually labeled a dud. "The Purge" is the perfect example of a film that's just as long as it needs to be at eighty-five minutes. For the most part, it has good pacing. There's a spot in the middle of the movie that felt dragged out a little. However, once the action and terror kick into gear it's a non-stop rollercoaster of a ride.

It's evident what drew Producer Jason Blum to "The Purge." He's one of the guys responsible for the "Paranormal Activity" movies. Most movies he's involved with feature some sort of surveillance or found footage and this is no different. "Dark Skies" had security cameras in all the rooms. "The Bay" was filmed with everything from news cameras to iPhones and home video cameras. "Sinister" featured 8mm home videos.

Blum hit the jackpot with "The Purge." Not only does it have surveillance and security cameras, there's a remote control car whose passenger is a doll with a spy camera lodged in his eye. This little contraption rolls back and forth throughout the house looking for the bad guys and lost family members. I have to admit, it's a pretty ingenious way of fitting some type of "found footage" into the movie. It's getting to the point where every time I see the Blumhouse Productions logo, I spend the entire movie waiting for surveillance and security camera footage to pop up. It's like anticipating Stan Lee's cameo in whatever the latest Marvel movie is.

There's a little something for everyone in "The Purge" if you enjoy a good action or horror flick. We get some great fight scenes, quite a bit of tension and suspense, and some effective jump scares that will leave you breathless. Though it has its flaws, the movie works as a combination of entertainment and social commentary in the end.

Warm Bodies
Warm Bodies(2013)

Zombie movies are a dime a dozen right now. This charming little mix of action, horror, and a love story changes things up a bit. It provides a satisfying experience, yet left me surprised there wasn't more funny parts.

"Warm Bodies" tells the tale of a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult). R spends his days wandering through an airport aimlessly. One day he saves a girl named Julie (Teresa Palmer) from an attack by the walking dead. The two become unlikely friends, which appears to restore R's humanity over time. Have they discovered a way to bring the zombie masses back to life?

As a whole, "Warm Bodies" works. I have to say I was expecting more humor than I got. While it was funny, it fell short of delivering the grins trailers promised. Director / Writer Jonathan Levine did a great job with creating a bond between the two lead characters. However, Julie accepts the fact that R ate her boyfriend way too casually.

The zombie carnage and gory imagery isn't downplayed anywhere near as much as one would expect in an adaptation of a young adult novel rated PG-13. There's plenty of scenes of the living dead eating dinner. Creatures called "Bonies" also offer a higher level of horror than what one would expect from a zombie romance / comedy.

Although "Warm Bodies" doesn't deliver the laughs I was expecting, it's still an entertaining and warm film. It's a less campy and more serious mix of 1993's "My Boyfriend's Back" and "I Am Legend." There's something for horror fans and romantics to enjoy in this movie.

LEGO Batman: The Movie - DC Super Heroes Unite

Not content to just be plain old building blocks, the LEGO brand has grabbed up licenses to create products based on everything from "Star Wars" to "Harry Potter" and competitors Marvel and DC Entertainment. What was once just a toy has transformed into an animated phenomenon that simultaneously lampoons and pays homage to the biggest franchises in pop culture.

There have already been a couple LEGO "Star Wars" movies and a new TV show entitled "LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles." Anyone who casually keeps up with the world of children's programming and toys knew it would only be a matter of time before the super hero industry got in on the LEGO animated action. DC Entertainment beat Marvel to the punch with "LEGO Batman: The Movie - Super Heroes Unite."

In a plot to get himself elected president, Lex Luthor joins forces with the Joker to build a Black LEGO Destructor Ray and incite fear in the citizens of Gotham City and beyond. Batman reluctantly teams up with Superman to take on the destructive duo.

Things get even more complicated when Two-Face, Harley Quinn, the Penguin, Catwoman, the Riddler, and Poison Ivy join the fight. Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the rest of the Justice League storm into town to help the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel battle the super villains and stop their devious plan.

"LEGO Batman: The Movie - Super Heroes Unite" is the sort of self-referential entertainment that reaches out to both children and their parents. I can't necessarily say it's easy to sit through seventy minutes of this type of humor. However, it still provides some light chuckles and a few smiles. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out this is targeted at kids.

The high-definition audio and video transfer for "LEGO Batman: The Movie - Super Heroes Unite" will keep your child's attention. There are plenty of stimulating explosions and other exciting noises circulating through the 5.1 surround sound mix. Just like the comic books, the vibrant and contrasting colors will have their eyes glued to the screen.

There are a few extra features which kids will enjoy. Their parents might find the bonus material more intriguing than the movie itself. "Building Batman" is a fifteen minute featurette consisting of DCU Lego Video Contest Grand Prize winner Garrett Barati taking us on a tour of his LEGO studio. He also provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the making of his Batman short film.

We also get to see the top five contestants in "Winning Shorts: DCU Video Contest." "LEGO Batman Jumps Into Action" is a promotional clip with some stop motion thrown in. Lastly, we get nearly seventy minutes of episodes from "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" and "Teen Titans" dragged out "From the DC Comics Vault."

You'll find "LEGO Batman: The Movie - Super Heroes Unite" will get a lot of repeat viewing from your children. Just like the LEGO "Star Wars" ones, my sons never seem to get enough of it. I highly recommend this for anyone looking for a kid-friendly super hero gift that won't just get tossed to the side after one watch.

Dark Skies
Dark Skies(2013)

When first viewing the trailer for "Dark Skies," I was immediately excited to see it. It appeared to be another supernatural horror film concerning a creepy little kid. You can never go wrong using that concept. My interest waned a bit upon learning the movie revolved around an alien encounter. I don't dislike movies about aliens, but they just don't excite me as much as a good ghost story or haunted house flick.

I still held on to hope as I put "Dark Skies" in my Blu-ray player and settled in to watch it. I can happily report that my hopes weren't dashed. The commercials and trailers for the film captured its essence perfectly.

Daniel (Josh Hamilton) and Lacey Barret (Keri Russell) and their two children are just like any ordinary family struggling to make ends meet and pay the mortgage on their suburban two-story house. That is until a seemingly invisible visitor begins invading their home. Things get more serious when the sinister activities begin to focus on their youngest son (Kadan Rockett).

Director Scott Stewart knew exactly what to do to make "Dark Skies" work. He took typical alien abduction films like "Fire in the Sky" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and injected them with all the positive aspects of newer horror films like "Insidious," "Paranormal Activity," and "Sinister." He tossed in some classic supernatural flavor via "Poltergeist" for good measure. The recipe works to the extent that I actually jumped at one point so hard I moved the area rug out from underneath me in my living room.

The entire cast of "Dark Skies" fully embraces their roles. Each one gives you something emotional to grab on to. This awards the viewer attachments to each of them that carry you through the movie and invest in the journeys they take as characters.

"Dark Skies" looks and sounds great thanks to a favorable high definition transfer. The picture is clean and the darkness of the color palette guarantees a creepy mood and great jump scares. There are tons of little sounds and special effects to take in through the 5.1 surround mix.

Special features included on the Blu-ray version of "Dark Skies" are the usual. There are alternate and deleted scenes which contain a different ending. Audio commentary is provided by Writer / Director Scott Stewart, Producer Jason Blum, Executive Producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, and Editor Peter Gvozdas.

"Dark Skies" will appeal to both horror and sci-fi fans looking for some new thrills and chills. I give props to Director / Writer Scott Stewart for finding a successful way to marry together alien abduction films with the new style of supernatural horror films coming out these days. It's much more exciting than having to sit through another "Paranormal Activity" film.

Sadako 3D
Sadako 3D(2012)

Oh, "Sadako 3D." How unfulfilled I was left after watching you. I waited many months for a proper U.S. release and Well Go USA fulfilled my want. Unfortunately, my excitement was drowned out by an offensive mish mash of "A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge," "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors," and "The Exorcist: The Version You've never Seen."

A high school teacher named Akane (Satomi Ishihara) hears rumors of a cursed video clip circulating online. The clip is said to show a man, Kashiwada (Yûsuke Yamamoto), commiting suicide. Supposedly, anyone who watches the video is driven to commit suicide themselves. Akane refuses to believe the rumors until one of her students mysteriously dies after viewing it.

Akane soon discovers that Kashiwada intends to use the clip to cause chaos and death, which will help the spirit of Sadako (Ai Hashimoto) find a host body for her to possess. Akane and her boyfriend (Kôji Seto) must find a way to stop Kashiwada from accomplishing his terrifying goal.

I can't believe for one second that anything in the last act of this film is taken from the novel "S," which it's based on. Judging from the other entries in the "Ring" series, writer Koji Suzuki seems way too sophisticated to stoop to the monster movie clichés we get in the "climax" of "Sadako 3D." I can believe the first and second acts of the film might be based on the actual source material. However, I can see producers and writers trying to up the scare ratio for audiences and completely ruining the film.

The general idea for "Sadako 3D" isn't the problem. The cursed video tape from "Ring" being converted into a file and uploaded to the internet is a natural progression that is very believable. The spirit of Sadako being able to manifest through any wireless device or computer hookup makes complete sense and is justifiably frightening. I just wish filmmakers would have spent a little extra time and money on CGI and practical effects to successfully convince me that what I was watching was authentic.

This is the perfect example of business executives and studio heads taking a simple, sacred, and tragic concept like the ghost of a vengeful girl and turning her into a monster movie icon the likes of Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers. It's not enough that Sadako climbs out of TV or computer screens. Now she has the ability to extend her long black CGI hair and wrap people in it as she pulls them to their deaths. As if that's not ridiculous enough, she also causes her victims to turn into spiderlike creatures.

"Sadako 3D" does have a few chilling moments where we see traces of the main character we got to know in the first few films. Unfortunately, it's not enough to merit someone wasting their time on this. Do yourself a favor and re-watch "Ring" or "Ring O: Birthday" and witness Sadako the way she was originally conceived to be.

Captain America

Before 1998's "Blade," Marvel Comics couldn't seem to catch a break when it came to movie versions of their different properties. In the wake of "Iron Man 3" and "The Avengers," I know that's very hard to believe. There was a serial for Captain America released in 1944 through Republic Pictures. George Lucas executive produced a live-action adaptation of "Howard the Duck" in 1986.

The next few years up to Wesley Snipes' take on the legendary vampire slayer were plagued with low-budget versions of the comic book publisher's characters. Dolph Lundgren's "The Punisher" couldn't even muster a theatrical release in the U.S. Roger Corman's "The Fantastic Four" never officially saw the light of day anywhere, although bootleg copies float around.

21st Century Film Corporation released "Captain America" straight to video in the middle of those two disasters. For many years, the movie was hard to get a hold of and only released on VHS. Shout! Factory released it on DVD and made it widely available to those who sought it out for so many years as a sort of Nerd Holy Grail.

Several years after being caught by Red Skull and left for dead, Steve Rogers is found frozen in the ice and thawed out. He discovers Red Skull received plastic surgery to hide his true identity and is heading up a group of world leaders set on kidnapping the President of the United States for their own diabolical ambitions.

Is "Captain America" filled with cheese? If you judge it from a modern standpoint, of course it is. If you look at it as being a piece of World War II propaganda filmed in the 1940s, you'll find it totally hits its mark. That's the standpoint I choose to view it from.

My only real issue is that we only get about 5 minutes of face time from the real Red Skull. The rest of the film features actor Scott Paulin in flesh-colored make-up topped with scar lines. It's a real letdown for fans of the Red Skull who wanted to see the character the way he looks in the comic books.

I still think that "Captain America" gets way more flack for being cheesy and low budget than it deserves. Is it on the same quality level as "Captain America: The First Avenger?" No way! However, it has an inviting and personal flavor to it that still works 23 years later. Real comic book fans will find value in this adaption and appreciate it for what it is.

Star Trek Into Darkness

Remember that excited feeling you had when seeing "The Empire Strikes Back" for the first time ever? How about that stunned feeling you felt when Darth Vader tells Luke Skywalker he's his father? That's the sort of feelings I walked away with after watching "Star Trek Into Darkness." I'm so happy I avoided all spoilers for it. I walked into the movie blindly and was so thrilled I couldn't stop smiling through the entire thing.

After a terrorist attack on the Federation council, James T. Kirk sets out with the crew of the Enterprise in search of the man. The terrorist, John Harrison, has fled into Klingon territory. Kirk is ordered to take him out through the use of a torpedo. Kirk disobeys orders and travels into Klingon space to capture the terrorist and bring him back to Earth where he will stand trial for his crimes. However, a rogue Starfleet officer wants to take justice into his own hands and only Kirk and the Enterprise stand in his way.

I've read a few of the reviews floating around out there and must say I agree with some of them. "Into Darkness" is a true "Star Trek" film. While the 2009 film was full of action and humor, it didn't have the social commentary Trekkies came to expect from earlier entries. That's not the case with "Into Darkness." What we get here is the best of both worlds. The action aspect of "Star Wars" is still present, but it's coupled with the smarts "Star Trek" is known for.

There are so many fun little tributes to the original series in "Star Trek Into Darkness." What's crazy is none of them feel desperately forced into the story. Writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof peppered the homages throughout an already exciting storyline, which helped long-time "Trek" lovers find something familiar to latch on to. At the same time, the references wouldn't leave someone new to the franchise wondering what's happening.

My only real complaint with "Star Trek Into Darkness" is the handling of the McCoy character. Writers took a funny habit the good doctor had in the original TV series and drove it into the ground. Every time we see McCoy, he uses some sort of metaphor to describe the situation. It starts to feel like the stale joke your buddy tells every time you see him. After the first ten times, it's just not funny anymore. How many different plays on, "Dammit, Jim! I'm a doctor not a speed boat captain!" can you laugh at before it gets old?

I was impressed with the CGI and special effects in the film. The movie looks beautiful and the actors meld seamlessly with their artificial backgrounds. There are times where the Enterprise looks a bit animated, but it's nothing to complain about.

"Star Trek Into Darkness" is the movie die-hard Trekkies wanted to see in 2009. All the elements creator Gene Rodenberry wanted the show to have are present. However, it comes wrapped in a package that will appeal to a broader audience.

Texas Chainsaw

Imagine, if you will, a world where "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2," "Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III," and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation" never happened. We won't even mention the remake and its sequel since they're not part of the original canon. The slate of what many consider inadequate follow-ups to the original is wiped completely clean. This scenario is exactly what "Texas Chainsaw" asks of its audience.

Picking up immediately after the original 1974 film ended, "Texas Chainsaw" takes audiences back to the Sawyer homestead. Shortly after the police show up to arrest Leatherface (Dan Yeager), an unruly mob decides to take the law into their own hands. They burn down and kill all the family holed up in the house, with the exception of Leatherface and a woman protecting a baby. One of the townspeople kills the woman and takes the baby to raise on their own.

Years later, the girl, Heather (Alexandra Daddario), discovers she was adopted and is a member of the Sawyers. Her grandmother (Marilyn Burns), who she never knew, dies and leaves her Texas home to the girl. Heather and her friends decide to take a road trip to see what she has inherited. They soon find out she's been left with a lot more than just an old house. She's also responsible for keeping the Sawyer family's secret locked safely away in the basement.

Director John Lussenhop does a great job in his first foray into the horror genre. He attempts to bring a fresh approach to "Texas Chainsaw" and not rest on the laurels laid out by past entries in the franchise. He picks little bits and pieces from the original 1974 film and inserts them in certain scenes to pay tribute to it and give fans of the original some easter eggs to hunt.

The Sawyer homestead was rebuilt from scratch based on screen captures and a visit to the original house, which is now a restaurant. Every detail of the house inside and out has painstakingly been reconstructed. It's eerie and gives the beginning of the movie an authentic flavor.

My only minor complaints about "Texas Chainsaw" is the lack of the family dynamics seen in the first film. This movie focuses on Leatherface only. The absence of a psychotic ensemble of characters and the dark humor of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" are sadly missing. Those are both elements I believe drew audiences to the first two movies and set them apart from other slasher films.

"Texas Chainsaw" alumni play the different members of the Sawyer family. Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface in the original film), Bill Moseley ("Chop-Top" Sawyer in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2"), and Marilyn Burns all play members of the Sawyer clan. John Dugan returns to play Grandpa again as well.

Alexandra Daddario shows a different side of herself in "Texas Chainsaw" than we saw in "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief." She gets down and dirty and commands every scene she's in. Leatherface might have finally found a worthy guardian to keep him in line.

I really had no major complaints about "Texas Chainsaw." I found it to be an entertaining and engaging start for a whole new series of films they're planning to release. It was graphic and gory like we've come to expect, but still had a sense of suspense to keep a viewer's attention.

Superman Unbound

For the past eight years, Batman received all the love at the movies when it comes to DC Comics' characters. That's all about to change on June 14 when "Man of Steel" hits theaters. DC and Warner Premiere aren't going to settle for TV commercials and trailers to get people pumped up. Two new comic books and a DC Universe Animated Original Movie entitled "Superman Unbound" are keeping the super hero fresh on everyone's minds as well.

"Superman Unbound" serves as a tasty appetizer for the main meal coming up. The Man of Steel joins forces with his cousin, Supergirl, to battle Brainiac after the super villain shrinks down Metropolis and adds it to his collection of cities from different planets he's destroyed. Superman must find a way to keep Braniac from destroying the Earth and save all the captured cities of the universe, including Krypton's capitol Kandor.

As is usual with the DC animated movies, "Superman Unbound" is loaded with action from the beginning to the end. Director James Tucker and writer Bob Goodman know how to keep the pace moving at a breakneck speed and demand the audience's attention. You take a 128 page graphic novel and shove it into a 75 minute film. There's no time for the viewer to get distracted or for the movie to lose steam.

The animation for "Superman Unbound" differs from what we've come to expect from the DC animated features. It varies in style greatly from "Superman vs. The Elite." One example is the Man of Steel's facial features. The other characters look different as well.

"Superman Unbound" is definitely a PG-13 movie. There are scenes of Braniac changing himself into a cyborg that would freak out little kids. His robots drill into the heads of their victims, which splashes a lot of blood around onscreen. Lois Lane also flips Braniac the double birds in one scene. Superman even says a bad word at one point. There are also some light sexual references most kids won't pick up on, but they're still present.

"Superman Unbound" is a super tag team smack down with none of the heavy-handed social commentary or politically correct propaganda we experienced last time around.

The Burning
The Burning(1981)

I believe I've found what must be the seminal summer camp slasher film of the 1980s. It captures every element of the decade's obsession with movies like "Friday the 13th" and "Meatballs" and puts them in one package. Shout! Factory has scored again with their Blu-ray release of "The Burning."

The caretaker of a summer camp is burned alive and left deformed after a prank goes wrong. Years later, he's released from the hospital and returns to the area where the accident occurred. A new group of campers have arrived for the summer and he has horrific plans for them. Hedge clippers in hand, the caretaker begins his reign of terror on the counselors and attendees.

"The Burning" has the raunchy toilet humor of "Meatballs" mixed with everything you came to expect from slasher films like "Friday the 13th" and "Sleepaway Camp." You have nice girls making bad decisions by hooking up with bad guys. Unfortunately, the killer sees all and punishes them for their perverse deeds.

I always thought the killer in "Friday the 13th, Part V: A New Beginning" was the first to utilize hedge clippers. I was very wrong, as you can see in "The Burning." It's obvious the psycho in "A New Beginning" took inspiration from the crazy caretaker.

It's unbelievable how many big names are attached to "The Burning." Harvey Weinstein created and co-wrote the story. Bob Weinstein co-wrote the screenplay. Special Make-up Artist Tom Savini returns to camp for a second time after his classic work on "Friday the 13th." His handiwork keeps the blood flowing efficiently.

Brian Backer plays a character more annoying than the one he did in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Jason Alexander (yes, George Costanza) portrays a sporty and popular high schooler. He has a full head of hair and doesn't wear glasses. Holly Hunter can be seen briefly as a camper. She looks like she was maybe 13 years old.

"The Burning" is another one of those cult classics many people forget about in the shadow of "Friday the 13th." If you're a fan of 1980s slasher movies, it's a must-own.


The first time I watched "Mama," I walked away disappointed. For some reason, the special effects looked extremely artificial to me. That was my only real complaint, but it hindered my enjoyment of the film.

As I was getting ready to write my review, I had this nagging feeling I needed to watch "Mama" again. Rarely do I watch a movie twice in such a short period of time, but I was drawn to give it another chance. I can't begin to tell you how glad I am that I did.

Two little girls stumble upon a cabin after a car wreck. Five years after their disappearance, they're found and taken into custody by their uncle Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel. The two bring the children into their home and attempt to give them a normal life. As bizarre circumstances unfold, Annabel starts to get the feeling something sinister has accompanied the girls and is "protecting" them.

For the most part, director / writer Andrés Muschietti adheres to the saying "less is more." We get quick and creepy glimpses of the supernatural entity. As the movie moves along, we are given longer and greater detailed glances at her. What looked very CGI the first time I took it in proved to be more convincing and practical at second look.

I found "Mama" full of great moments of genuine thrills and chills upon giving it a second chance. You'd think a horror movie you've seen before wouldn't hold as much tension when watching it again, but that's not the case with "Mama." It had more of an effect on me the second time around.

Every actor in the movie is convincing in their role. Jessica Chastain transforms from a 1960s blond southern belle into a black-haired punk rocker incredibly well. The girls are absolutely phenomenal and their authentic reactions to the events occurring to them are noteworthy.

"Mama" isn't going to satisfy gore hounds with its "less is more" approach and lack of gore. However, gothic horror enthusiasts and those who love a good ghost story with substance will thoroughly enjoy this. It's a creepy suspense-filled tale that you'll find yourself wanting to watch multiple times.

State of Emergency

In a day and age where zombie movies are a dime a dozen, filmmakers have to do something in order to stand out from the crowd. It's not enough to just show the walking dead running or lumbering toward victims and then eating them. There's only so many times you can be shocked by a flesh-eater getting plugged in the head with a rifle. George Romero, Danny Broiled, and countless other directors have already given us those moments hundreds of times over. Unfortunately, "State of Emergency" is another in a long line of films that brings nothing new to the table at all.

A chemical plant explodes outside a small town. The residents soon show signs of contamination and become ravenous animals with an appetite for flesh. The government closes off the town, leaving any survivors in the area to fend for themselves. Four people holed up in a warehouse must find a way to stay alive and keep the rabid mutants at bay as they await rescue by the military.

There's really not much to say about "State of Emergency." It's a fast-moving zombie movie where they have bloodshot eyes, growl, and attack people ferociously. The whole film is forgettable and gives us little to nothing to get excited about. You get mentally and emotionally numb after seeing dozens of these with the same basic set-ups.

Another of my complaints is that we get one zombie at a time in "State of Emergency." There's never a ferocious pack of them attacking anyone. One at a time they come out the grassy fields and attack one of the four survivors. It was as if the filmmakers were trying to save money on make-up by only showing one mutant at a time. Granted, the make-up looked good. It should have. There was only one person to apply it to at a time.

Now that I've completely trashed the film, let me give some positive feedback. There are a few moments of genuine suspense when you're waiting for something to jump out from behind or beside a character. The scenes of various mutants standing alone in the distance are also strangely disturbing.

"State of Emergency" is the type of movie you watch when you've ran out of all other options. If you're a zombie fan, it will temporarily satisfy you're hunger on a boring Saturday night. However, chances are you're not going to remember it in a week. You're definitely not going to remember it after seeing just the trailer for "World War Z."


Tom Cruise never ceases to amaze me. People can go on and on about his crazy behavior and couch-jumping antics all they want. The bottom line is the guy is a good actor and isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. It's obvious he loves his job and goes to great lengths to do it, which includes doing his own stunts as much as a director or producer will allow. "Oblivion" is another excellent example of Tom Cruise at his finest.

The great thing is "Oblivion" benefits from having Cruise in it but doesn't rest on that alone. It's a great movie with beautiful scenery, above-average CGI, and an interesting blend of several different plotlines from classic sci-fi films of the past. The story elements aren't breaking any new ground. However, director Joseph Kosinski's concept of taking science fiction into the daylight should be recognized as a step in a different direction.

Jack Harper and his partner, Victoria, are the last remaining humans on the war-torn Earth. They're assigned to watch over powerful machines used to collect what's left of the planet's natural resources for use on a moon being colonized by the survivors of an alien invasion. As the job is wrapping up and it grows closer to time for them to leave and move on to their new lives, bizarre dreams and occurrences awaken Jack's suspicions about his mission and who he is.

Most sci-fi films take place in a constantly dark world that conveniently helps hide any CGI limitations filmmakers might run into. Kosinski's "Oblivion" embraces the light and no doubt made it a bit more difficult on CGI artists whose jobs it is to blend the animated images with the real. They did a good job for the most part and the movie looks breathtaking.

It's interesting to see how Kosinski incorporated the stark whites and bubbly numbers of the 1970s and 1980s science fiction classics without making "Oblivion" look aged. Any number of those films will come to mind while watching it. It's hard not to draw comparisons to "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Alien," "Outland," and many others.

The story isn't the strong point of the movie, although it shouldn't be looked at as a straight retread of anything before. It's more a conglomeration of several plots from different sci-fi movies of the past. There are key ingredients from "Highlander 2," "City of Ember," and any number of movies addressing the issue of cloning or an alien race's need of our natural resources for survival ("War of the Worlds," "Battle: Los Angeles," and "Independence Day").

Cruise's supporting cast in "Oblivion" includes Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, and Andrea Riseborough. Freeman plays the leader of an underground resistance in the same way he plays everything. He's the wise man who doesn't take crap from anybody. Kurylenko and Riseborough play the two women in Cruise's life. They portray their individual characters with convincing emotional ranges.

The last thing I'd like to address is the musical score by M83. It sounds very much like the music heard in "Tron: Legacy" by Daft Punk. The soundtrack here resembles "Tron: Legacy" layered on top of Hans Zimmer's score for "The Dark Knight Rises." it fits the film's tone and enhances the viewing experience for the audience.

"Oblivion" is an entertaining journey into a grim future that doesn't look as dark as most genre films make it out to be. There's no real lessons to learn here, except maybe don't trust anyone at face value. It's just a good old-fashioned sci-fi action piece with a bit of a twist and more emotional depth than we're used to from these types of movies.


Zombie movies are the flavor of the moment and have been for a while now. At least one film featuring some variation of the walking dead is released a week. However, I wouldn't necessarily call the creatures we see in "Infected" traditional zombies.

The "Infected" people in this never die. They get sick from exposure to Lyme disease by being bit by an animal or person who contracted it or ate something it was in, such as contaminated meat. The individuals who are infected don't just lumber around aimlessly. They actually resemble rabid animals, talk, and move rapidly.

Although the zombies in "Infected" aren't typical, the set-up of the movie is. We have a group of people trapped in a cabin in the woods. They must fight off the diseased as they attempt to break into the house and eat every living thing inside. The characters end up having to make the choice to kill off their friends and relatives who are bitten and contaminated.

Veteran actors Michael Madsen and William Forsythe take their roles more serious than they should for an independent horror film like of this caliber. The two of them give "Infected" a touch of class that elevates it above other zombie movies being released. Forsythe does ham it up a little and adds some campiness to the film. Madsen plays serious throughout the entire thing as if he's targeting an Oscar for his part.

Christy Carlson Romano ("Even Stevens") stars as a woman concerned about her grandmother as she gets sicker from the mysterious illness. She's the focus of one of the most spectacularly gruesome parts of the film.

"Infected" as a whole isn't anything we haven't seen before. Sure, the main cause of the epidemic is unique. That doesn't change the fact that the gory details and the outcome of the movie remain the same as any other living dead flick. It will no doubt thrill viewers who aren't used to watching horror movies as well as genre fans looking for the week's zombie fix.

The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia

First off, let's just get something out of the way. "The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia" never had a chance to succeed. With a paradoxical title like that, audiences are given a red flag immediately. If the producers of a movie can't decide on a better name for a film, then how could they make bigger decisions during production? Just pick a name! Was "Ghosts of Georgia" any more generic than "The Haunting in Connecticut?" The reason I sound so frustrated is because it deserves better.

The Wyrick family moves into a country house in Georgia. Their daughter, Heidi, soon begins telling her parents she talks to a man who warns they're in danger. Upon investigating, they find out their house is located on land once owned by a stationmaster of the Underground Railroad. The souls of the slaves are restless and begin haunting the family for unknown reasons.

Director Tom Elkins and writer David Coggeshall put together quite an impressive ghost story with "The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia." While "based on a true story," it's obvious some creative license is utilized to spice things up. However, there are some genuinely frightening moments that will resonate with viewers. Let's just say Elkins and Coggeshall know our innermost fears and exploits them.

The entire cast of "The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia" put forth their best efforts and embrace their individual characters. You can tell they took the material seriously and ran with it. Chad Michael Murray plays the father of the family. Abigail Spencer takes on the role of the mother. Katee Sackhoff portrays Spencer's free-spirited sister who comes to live with them. Emily Alyn Lind is perfect in as the little girl Heidi. She embraces the role straight-faced with an air of authentic innocence.

"The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia" is a good supernatural tale that should have been released in theaters like its predecessor. There are nice twists to the story, the acting is good, and the scares are genuinely creepy. Maybe it's selfish, but I was looking forward to seeing the movie on a big screen in a quiet atmosphere where it could have my full attention. Seeing the movie at home will provide genre fans with a satisfying experience, too.

The Bay
The Bay(2012)

I can't begin to tell you how much I detest a majority of the "found footage" films. Every time I see a new released, my eyes roll into the back of my head and I sigh heavily. The only reason I picked up "The Bay" when I saw it was the box and tagline caught my attention. If it wasn't for Director Barry Levinson's name attached to it, I would have put it back. After watching it, I'd say it's definitely one of the better films using the shtick.

In 2009, the town of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland discovers its water is infected. The mayor refuses to admit the seriousness of the situation even as people begin turning up dead and sick. After several more victims die in public, the town goes into a state of fear and closes down. Several eyewitnesses capture the entire incident on camera and cell phones.

I still can't believe a renowned director like Barry Levinson would helm a "found footage" movie. The entire concept just seems so below him. It's fairly obvious "The Bay" was a pet project for Levinson. He's credited as a co-producer and co-writer of the film. Regardless, he accomplished what he set out to do through adequate pacing and some great stomach-churning scenes, which quite possibly could have some individuals scrambling for a barf bag.

The visual effects for "The Bay" are impressive. They might be doctored a little with CGI, but for the most part they look practical. I don't know what they used for the nasty little creatures, but I was convinced they were real. That's how you know you're seeing a good movie. You're pulled into it and are never distracted by bad special effects or acting.

I have to admit that I laughed while watching the credits as they rolled. I saw Oren Peli's name as one of the producers for "The Bay" and said to myself, "Of course." I've got to hand it to this guy. He's taken an old gimmick and struck gold with it over and over again.

"The Bay" includes a couple special features. There's audio commentary with Director Barry Levinson. We also get a featurette entitled "Into the Unknown: Barry Levinson on 'The Bay.'"

I can't deny "The Bay" is worth a watch. The concept of the film is very believable. That's what makes it so frightening. You come away from it with this nagging suspicion that what you just saw quite easily could happen.


Shout! Factory is always ready to pounce on a great opportunity. They show their smarts again by following up Warner Home Video's release of "Westworld" on Blu-ray with their very own high definition version of its 1976 sequel, "Futureworld." Although the film is considered by many to be a poor excuse for a sequel,it has its own cult followers who are more than happy to see it getting an upgrade.

After the tragic deaths of several guests at the hands of robots in "Westworld," Delos decides to invite reporters Tracy and Chuck to the rebuilt resort. Delos representatives want to prove to the public that their new vactioning spots are completely safe and their robots are under control and harmless. As Tracy and Chuck investigate "Futureworld," they begin to suspect there's something sinister behind Delos' welcoming embrace.

Judging "Futureworld" on its own merits, I found it to be a mildly entertaining slice of 1970's sci-fi. The movie's warnings against allowing machines and computers too much control and relying on them too heavily seems prophetic in hindsight. For 1976, I'm sure it felt fresh and was terrifying for a world that was just barely embracing electronics and the technology we take for granted today. Director Richard T. Heffron and writers George Schenck and Mayo Simon don't really do much more here besides expand on the concepts Michael Crichton came up with for "Westworld."

The only actor to return from "Westworld" for this sequel is Yul Brenner. He isn't given much to do here. He basically walks around and has an awkward love scene with Blythe Danner. Honestly, it's uncomfortable to watch. Peter Fonda is great as a chauvenistic wisecracking 1970's reporter that could never get away with his treatment of Danner's character in modern times.

The high definition transfer for "Futureworld" cleans up the picture and presents it as clear as one can expect for a low-budget film from the 1970s. Thankfully, the Blu-ray upgrade didn't rob it of any of the beautiful graininess and nostalgic flavor of the movie. The 2.0 stereo doesn't immerse home viewers in a sea of sound effects, dialogue, and music like they're accustomed to. However, it still sounds better than it ever has in its past home video formats.

It's no surprise that this edition of "Futureworld" doesn't feature much in the way of bonus material. The film wasn't given much thought at the time of its release. MGM dropped the ball on the production and gave it away to AIP (American International Pictures).

I highly doubt anyone was thinking about preserving the history surrounding the making of "Futureworld." Unfortunately, this means no "Making of" featurette or interviews with the filmmakers or producers. The only special features we get are a theatrical trailer, radio spots, and a still gallery.

"Futureworld" is a fun and nostalgic journey back into the 1970s. Its interesting to see what the state of science fiction cinema was even a year before "Star Wars" breathed life into a dying genre. You'll not find any of the carefree advetnure and joy we found in "a Galaxy Far, Far Away" in the dystopic and doomed "Futureworld" of our making.

From Beyond
From Beyond(1986)

"H.P. Lovecraft's From Beyond" marks the second entry in Director Stuart Gordon's slate of films based on the writer's works.

Two scientists use a device called the Resonator in an attempt to stimulate the pineal gland. After lead doctor Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel) experiments on himself, he discovers a side effect is seeing creatures from another dimension. They pull the scientist into their invisible world.

His assistant, Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs), Psychiatric Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton), and Detective Bubba Brownlee (Ken Foree) return to the house where Pretorius performed his experiment to investigate his disappearance. Dr. McMichaels becomes obsessed with repeating the experiment and finding out where the creatures come from and where the missing scientist vanished to.

Director Stuart Gordon does a fabulous job taking an 8 or 9-page story and transforming it into an 85-minute movie. It doesn't feel like screenwriters Brian Yuzna, Dennis Paoli, and Gordon purposely added fluff or stretched out the source material to get it to a feature length running time. The pacing is good and the setting and atmosphere pull you into it.

The special effects in "H.P. Lovecraft's From Beyond" are a testament to the hard work artists used to put into creating physical models, monsters, and mechanical prosthetics. The practical effects seen here are so much more effective than what we get now with CGI. There are times when the hideous twisted creatures onscreen might make viewers feel queasy and exclaim, "Gross!"

"H.P. Lovecraft's From Beyond" is a delightfully grotesque film. There's plenty of gore and slime for everyone to enjoy. It will once again remind you why horror movies of the 1980s still resonate with people 27 years later.

Phantasm II
Phantasm II(2000)

"Phantasm II" is one of the best representations of the Hollywood horror movie boom of the 1980s. After years of genre filmmakers scrambling for cash to get their productions up and running, many studios were looking to cash in on the terror craze. Universal chose to throw money at "Phantasm" and give it the opportunity to go bigger and better.

"Phantasm II" picks up immediately after the first film. Mike convinces Reggie they must track down the Tall Man before he and his minions kill everyone in their path. The two go on the road, traveling one dead town to the next while following a trail of unearthed graveyards.

Director Don Coscarelli did what any filmmaker would do in his position. He took the studio's money and ran with it. "Phantasm II" is a horror spectacle to be seen. He ups the ante on everything. There are huge explosions, more mechanical flying balls, and things get visually existential to the point of confusion. It's not a bad type of disorientation. It reminds me of a terrifying version of "2001: A Space Odyssey" and other films that don't fully explain what's going on.

"Phantasm II" will make viewers fear not only how they might die, but what could happen to their bodies and souls after wards. What could be worse than being conscience in your body but not have control over yourself? Thankfully, my beliefs give me a level of comfort the Tall Man would tell you is foolish and false.

"Phantasm II" serves as a nostalgic look back at a special era in the history of horror films. It was a time where practical effects still ruled and green screen didn't dominate every frame. Great gore and a truly creepy storyline make this a welcome addition to any genre fan's home movie collection.

The Frankenstein Theory

When I saw the promotional material for "The Frankenstein Theory," I admit rolling my eyes and thinking the movie sounded ridiculous. I couldn't help but have low expectations going into it with cover art exclaiming, "From the creators of 'The Last Exorcism.'" Whenever a movie carries a bi-line like that to promote it, you can bet it's going to be a disappointment. This indie found "footage" film is the perfect example of a concept that shouldn't work but did.

Desperately driven to prove himself to the world, Professor John Venkenheim leads a documentary film crew to the edge of the Arctic Circle. He intends to expose to the world his inconceivable theory. He believes that Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" is a work of non-fiction disguised as fantasy and that the creature is alive and well. As they travel deeper into the desolate snow-covered plains, strange events and happenings unfold around them. Is someone or something stalking them? If so, is it human or is it the unnatural creature Venkenheim is searching for?

Writers Andrew Weiner and Vlady Pildysh found a compelling way to take some of the original ideas from Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" novel and incorporate them into a modern day suspense thriller. It's a well-paced movie that gives viewers several opportunities to jump out of their seats and flinch at every loud sound they hear.

There is a humorous yet respectable nod to "Jaws" in "The Frankenstein Theory." The guide for their trip out into the wilds of the Arctic Circle is obviously fashioned after Quint in Steven Spielberg's hit film. His characteristics and the way he tells a story completely reminded me of when Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw are sitting around drinking and telling stories on the boat. I couldn't help but smile every time he showed up on screen.

It's brilliant how elements of Shelley's classic novel are used in "The Frankenstein Theory." Writers Weiner and Pildysh tie them into the film in such a way that something many might consider hokey doesn't come off that way here.

I detest most "found footage" movies for two reasons. First, they make me sick with all their shaky camera work and bouncing around. Secondly, there's too many of the films being made and they're a lazy way for producers to push product out and make a quick buck. This being said, "The Frankenstein Theory" took the method and successfully ran with it. The cameraman is portrayed as "professional" and most of the footage is steadier than usual for these movies.

"The Frankenstein Theory" doesn't come to the "found footage" table with any new tricks up its sleeves. However, it does take all the good aspects of the filming style and fashion something fun, startling, and exciting. The atmosphere and setting of the movie gives viewers a sense of dread and isolation that, mixed with a "less-is-more" visual approach, delivers true scares.


I love a good slasher movie just as much as the next horror fan. The sub-genre is so hit-and-miss these days. For every "Cold Prey" or "Laid to Rest," we're given 10 more entries that leave you feeling mentally drained by the time the credits roll on them. Anchor Bay Entertainment's "Escapee" is just lucky enough to fall right in the middle of good and bad in the realm of watchable mediocrity.

Psychology student Abby Jones (Christine Evangelista) makes the mistake of locking eyes with a murderous patient named Harmon (Dominic Purcell) while on a class trip to the local mental institute. Unfortunately, Abby resembles Harmon's girlfriend that he brutally butchered. He escapes from the hospital and heads out in search of Abby, leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake.

Director / writer Campion Murphy put together the right ingredients for "Escapee." The problem is the formula he concocts is overused. This would be a shocking and suspenseful film had it come out in 1980. The problem is, it's a by-the-book slasher / thriller with nothing to add to the mix. Many of these types of films at least give the viewer a sense of mystery by keeping the killer a secret to the end. Murphy tries to save "Escapee" about three-quarters of the way in with a bit of a twist that comes off as desperate and ill-conceived.

Dominic Purcell ("Prison Break") is perfect in the role of the towering and bulky killer Harmon. Christine Evangelista ("The Joneses") plays Abby with a perfect level of innocence and terror. Carly Chaikin ("Suburgatory") and Melissa Ordway ("90210") are perfect for Abby's stereotypical roommates. One is bratty and boy crazy while the other has a steady man and a decent life to conveniently lose to the killer. TV veteran Faith Ford ("Murphy Brown," "Hope and Faith") plays Detective Alison Jensen and also co-produced "Escapee."

"Escapee" reminds me of a less thrilling version of "Halloween." You have an escaped mental patient out to get a certain girl and killing anyone who gets in his way. The problem is, there's no creepy mask and a sense of déjà vu haunts you throughout the entire movie. I consider it passable entertainment if it's the only slasher flick you can find that you haven't seen already.

Earth's Final Hours

If you've seen one SyFy Channel Original Movie, then you know what to expect from all of them. The simple formula consists of a couple of familiar television or genre actors, some type of otherworldly threat or attack, and some budget special effects that aren't quite as bad as what we get with The Asylum's movies. However, they still don't quite live up to the expectations set forth by years of watching films crafted with the help of ILM.

"Earth's Final Hours" is no different except for a premise that isn't quite as hard to swallow as an alien attack or over-used as a giant asteroid on a collision course with Earth. Don't get me wrong; matter from an asteroid figures into the story. It's just not the size we're used to from years of movies like "Meteor," "Armageddon," and "Deep Impact."

The dense matter from a white hole in "Earth's Final Hours" is about the size of a soft ball and hits one side of the planet and exits through the other. This causes Earth's rotation to stop, leaving one side facing the sun to fry while the other freezes in darkness. One stripe down the middle of the planet will be inhabitable. Government officials want only the world's finest to gain a spot in this limited "Green Zone." A group of CIA agents and scientists are more concerned with saving everyone by finding a way to set the Earth's rotation back to normal.

I admit the concept behind "Earth's Final Hours" is way more intriguing than another film serving us more of the same collision course / end of the world fodder we're used to. Instead of pieces of flaming rock smashing into buildings and people, we get solar beams and flares that burn up everything in their paths.

The problem lies in the pacing of the movie. It gets tedious watching individuals run around shooting at each other in between momentary spatters of someone being incinerated. There has to be more writers can do with this concept than what they gave us here. Unfortunately, chances are there isn't on a SyFy Channel Original Movie budget.

Bruce Davison is the big-name celebrity for "Earth's Final Hours." He's starred in the "X-Men" movies as well as "The Practice" and "Last Resort" TV shows. Julia Benson is no stranger to SyFy Channel projects, having starred in "SGU Stargate Universe" and most recently "Chupacabra vs. the Alamo." Cameron Bright is recognizable by most as vampire Alec in the "Twilight" movies. Robert Knepper is on the CW's "Cult" and also had roles in "SGU Stargate Universe" and "Heroes." Roark Critchlow pops up on "Pretty Little Liars" occasionally and also starred in SyFy's "The 12 Disasters of Christmas" and "V."

"Earth's Final Hours" provides an alternative to the usual end-of-the-world scenarios we're handed. That doesn't mean its quality is any better as far as filmmaking is concerned. It will mildly entertain and serve as a distraction from real life as SyFy Channel Original Movies are intended to.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

I've never been a big fan of "G.I. Joe." As a child, I would play with the original dolls which had the pull string on his back, poseable arms and legs, and real hair with a beard. Every version of the toy looked the same except that they'd give him a different uniform and hair color.

When the "G.I. Joe" boom hit in the 1980s, I really wasn't too interested in army men with fancy weaponry. All my attention at the time was spent on "Star Wars," "Star Trek," "Batman," "Planet of the Apes," and classic horror monsters. The whole franchise just didn't appeal to me.

There were many fans upset by Stephen Sommers' first live-action entry in the "G.I. Joe" series. Some complained about the fact that the "Real American Hero" tagline was removed. Others felt the actors chosen for the parts were miscast. A few felt the movie relied on gadgets and CGI too much. Whatever the reasons were, director John M. Chu felt the need to make it up to the disappointed masses with "G.I. Joe: Retaliation."

After Duke and his team of Joes are ambushed and left for dead, three survivors find themselves fugitives on the run. The President declares the group traitors for the assassination of a foreign government's leader. However, the President isn't who everyone thinks he is. Zartan, an evil minion of Cobra Commander, is disguised as the Commander-in-Chief through advanced technology.

Cobra Commander plots to use Zartan's position to convince all foreign countries to throw down their nuclear arms. Little do they know his real plan is to have them disarm their missiles while he conquers the world with the use of a new kinetic weapon. It can do the same damage as a nuclear bomb but with none of the atomic fallout. Roadblock and the other survivors call upon the man who started the elite military team, Joe Colton, to foil Cobra's plans and clear their names.

"G.I. Joe: Retaliation" will satisfy fans upset by "The Rise of Cobra." There's nowhere near as many cool gadgets as there were in the first film. It's not devoid of tricked-out weapons and vehicles, but it doesn't rely as heavily on them.

Most of the action sequences are human-based versus bombs blowing things up and ships shooting at each other. I can understand why audiences want more interaction between real people and less CGI animation. However, there's just so many different ways you can run around shooting each other before it all starts to run together in the viewer's eyes.

I found myself missing elements of the first film, such as the spectacular scene where Duke and Ripcord run through the streets of Paris in their cyber suits while Scarlett and Snake Eyes chase down the Baroness and Stormshadow in their SUV. The sequence where Snake Eyes and Jinx are battling Cobra ninjas on the side of a cliff in "Retaliation" comes close, but still didn't quite top it.

There's also nothing in "Retaliation" that matches the visual eye-candy of the green clouds of nanotechnology devouring the Eiffel Tower and anything else in their path. The closest thing we get to that in this is a short scene of London being destroyed by a kinetic bomb and satellites blowing up.

The casting for "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" is hit and miss. Dwayne Johnson plays the same character he always does, which is fine because he's always likeable. He's not quite as humorous but gets the job done. Bruce Willis is great as Joe Colton, although he's only seen on screen for maybe twenty minutes. They could've done so much more with his role. I think it's pretty obvious why Adrianne Palicki was chosen to play Lady Jay. Guys love to look at her and she's adequate at playing a tough girl who's easy on the eyes.

I doubt any blame can be directly laid on D.J. Cotrona, but the character of Flint was absolutely useless. I don't know why they didn't just keep Channing Tatum in the film or bring back Marlon Wayans as the comic relief, which is noticeably missing here. At least the role of Ripcord served some type of purpose in "The Rise of Cobra."

I would love to find out what took Paramount so long to get this movie out. They reported that they wanted to do a proper job of converting it to 3D. Then word hit the internet that test audiences wanted more Channing Tatum and Dwayne Johnson interaction.

First, I can't imagine what the 3D adds to the movie. I can usually tell when seeing a movie in 2D what would be highlighted in the 3D version and there wasn't much here. How long can it possibly take for a professional 3D transfer to be completed? I can't imagine it merits enough time to set a release date back almost a year.

Secondly, anything extra they would've shot with Channing Tatum in it didn't add anything to the film in hindsight. If I were to make a guess, they shot the intro "James Bond" mission sequence for the beginning and a scene of the two actors playing a video game at Roadblock's house. There's no way the additional scenes could've taken any longer than two to three weeks to finish.

When I see a big popcorn blockbuster sequel like this, I expect it to attempt to outdo its predecessor. That's not the case with "G.I. Joe: Retaliation." If anything, it's director John M. Chu overcompensating for what he thinks fans were disappointed with in "The Rise of Cobra." With all its flaws, I would still recommend it to moviegoers looking for something fun to watch on a Saturday afternoon.

Evil Dead
Evil Dead(2013)

The day Sam Raimi fans have been either anticipating or dreading for 30 years is upon us. The remake of "Evil Dead" has taken over theaters. Most enthusiasts of the original horror trilogy wanted another sequel. That's definitely not what we get in this gore fest.

Don't expect dancing decapitated corpses, funny one-liners, and other slapstick elements found in "Army of Darkness." You'll be gravely disappointed. What we get here is full-on blood and guts with a dash of more blood and guts.

There are no college kids heading up to the woods to party for the weekend this time around. Setting a serious tone from the very beginning of the film, a group of old friends come together to help one of their own kick a drug habit. The plan is to keep her locked up and restrained in the family cabin until the girl is fully detoxed. She's relapsed once and they're going to make sure it doesn't happen again.

While cleaning up the old place, the bunch stumble on what appears to be an old book bound in a plastic bag by barb wires. One of them opens it and begins reading the words inside. By reciting the ancient sayings, they release a long dormant evil that takes possession of them one by one. As the friends begin dying, they frantically search for a way to bring an end to the demonic force.

I am very impressed with the depth of the story here. It would be so easy to go down the stale "kids going to a cabin to party" route again. Although the acting is wooden at times, the characters are a bit more noble and sympathetic than the usual dumb college types we get in these types of movies.

There's no end to the visual gore in "Evil Dead." From the very beginning, the viewer knows what they're getting into. They're going to see it all in full color. This isn't the usual PG-13 jump-scare fiesta we've come to expect from today's horror movies. Brace yourselves to see arms and legs get hacked off and gallons of blood dripping in puddles everywhere. I cringed and gritted my teeth just thinking about the pain during most scenes.

If there's a message to "Evil Dead," it's really quite simple. Don't screw with demonic forces or read magic incantations or passages out of an evil book. All you're doing is asking for trouble with a capital "T." Whether you think it's silly or not, I'm a firm believer in this advice.

I enjoyed the dual finale of the film. It had a happy ending while leaving the audience with a warning that evil never really goes away. It's just left waiting for some other poor soul stupid enough to give it a means to be reborn.

If you've been waiting for a movie to come along and satisfy your taste for graphic violence and gore, "Evil Dead" will quench your thirst for blood. Those looking for pure "Hitchcockian" suspense with a "less-is-more" attitude when it comes to horror movies need not purchase a ticket for this one. Stay after the credits to see a "groovy" surprise!


I've been fascinated by Abraham Lincoln my entire life. I'm sure it has to do with the fact that he was assassinated and there's quite a bit of mystery and intrigue surrounding his presidency and personal life. He did so much in his terms in office and changed our nation for the better while overcoming all sorts of political opposition. I knew I would need to see Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" as soon as it was announced in production.

"Lincoln" focuses on the man's obsession with getting the 13th Amendment pushed through Congress before the Civil War ended. Abe was honest, but would see his mission of obliterating slavery accomplished by any means necessary. His drive and the toll it took on his family life are explored in great detail.

Director Steven Spielberg takes what could have been a disastrously boring two and a half hours of non-stop dialogue and somehow makes it engaging and tolerable. The success of the film is based around Spielberg's casting of Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role. Day-Lewis owns every moment he's on screen and demands your attention with every word he speaks. He's merely the cherry on top of a brilliant and dedicated cast that includes James Spader, Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Fields, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Hawkes, David Strathairn, and many more.

Although they only took up a few moments of screen time, the scenes of the Civil War battlefields bore a lasting impression on me. The savageness of hand-to-hand combat was hard to watch. These soldiers fought hand-to-hand, which made it more personal. It wasn't a faceless war like today's, where we just drop bombs on each other and never have direct contact with the people we're fighting.

The fact that I stayed awake through two and a half hours of talking is a true testament of how well-paced and captivating "Lincoln" is. I'm really not one for talky and long-winded movies, but Spielberg's devoted obsession with the historical figure and Janusz Kaminski's masterful cinematography make the movie stand out and demand your undivided attention. It's a movie that requires multiple viewings, as there is so much being said so quickly that you're guaranteed to miss something important.

I've been fascinated by Abraham Lincoln my entire life. I'm sure it has to do with the fact that he was assassinated and there's quite a bit of mystery and intrigue surrounding his presidency and personal life. He did so much in his terms in office and changed our nation for the better while overcoming all sorts of political opposition. I knew I would need to see Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" as soon as it was announced in production.

"Lincoln" focuses on the man's obsession with getting the 13th Amendment pushed through Congress before the Civil War ended. Abe was honest, but would see his mission of obliterating slavery accomplished by any means necessary. His drive and the toll it took on his family life are explored in great detail.

Director Steven Spielberg takes what could have been a disastrously boring two and a half hours of non-stop dialogue and somehow makes it engaging and tolerable. The success of the film is based around Spielberg's casting of Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role. Day-Lewis owns every moment he's on screen and demands your attention with every word he speaks. He's merely the cherry on top of a brilliant and dedicated cast that includes James Spader, Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Fields, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Hawkes, David Strathairn, and many more.

Although they only took up a few moments of screen time, the scenes of the Civil War battlefields bore a lasting impression on me. The savageness of hand-to-hand combat was hard to watch. These soldiers fought hand-to-hand, which made it more personal. It wasn't a faceless war like today's, where we just drop bombs on each other and never have direct contact with the people we're fighting.

The fact that I stayed awake through two and a half hours of talking is a true testament of how well-paced and captivating "Lincoln" is. I'm really not one for talky and long-winded movies, but Spielberg's devoted obsession with the historical figure and Janusz Kaminski's masterful cinematography make the movie stand out and demand your undivided attention. It's a movie that requires multiple viewings, as there is so much being said so quickly that you're guaranteed to miss something important.

Shadow People (The Door)

Rarely do I come across anything in my viewing of horror movies that makes me jumpy or paranoid after turning the TV off. Most times I enjoy the film and then go on about my business with no worries. However, every once in a while a true gem of fear comes along and leaves its imprint on me as I shut off all the lights in the house and head to bed. Matthew Arnold's "Shadow People" had me searching the walls and windows for ghastly spots of unexplained darkness after watching it.

Participants in an experimental sleep study in the 1970s report seeing strange shadowy figures. They and several hundred other individuals die in their sleep soon after. The phenomenon was given the name SUNDS, which stands for "Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome." Doctors wouldn't talk about the shadows.

In the present, failing radio talk show host Charlie Crowe begins receiving calls from a teenager claiming shadowy intruders are coming for him. At first, Charlie believes the kid is mentally ill. His theory is challenged when the boy dies in his sleep. Things get even weirder when listeners of his talk show and people he tells about the mysterious shadowy figures begin dying in their sleep. Are these clusters of deaths a coincidence or are there sinister nocturnal forces at work?

"Shadow People" takes the sort of ideas our nightmares are made of and puts them in a visual package. Everything you've ever thought about someone or something watching you in your sleep is brought to life in this creepy little indie film.

Director Matthew Arnold shows great promise through his mastery of timing. He has a knack for setting up what you would expect to be your typical jump scare and somehow delivering it in an off-tempo manner that leaves the viewer surprised and shuddering.

I can't say I completely agree with every choice of filmmaking he used for "Shadow People." The movie is presented in the manner of many true crime TV shows are. It's a re-enactment of "true events" with the actual people involved giving their commentary along the way. The concept is interesting but gets a bit distracting as the terror unfolds.

Many religious individuals would express their belief that shadow people are demons or evil spirits. Much like in "The Possession" or "The Exorcist," the person has brought something into their house that allowed the entity access. I am of that mindset more so than any other concept brought up in this.

If I were to compare "Shadow People" to other movies out there just as a way to spark people's interest, "The Ring" and "The Apparition" immediately come to mind. By no means is this a carbon copy of either of those films. They just came to mind as I sat watching it.

"Shadow People" is that rare horror movie that leaves a lasting impression on its audience. The fear might wear off over time, but you'll never completely stop thinking about it. We all wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air, feeling like something is sitting on us, or thinking we're being watched. Is it just our imagination or could it be the shadow people?

The Hunchback of Notre Dame II

There's a big difference in the quality of animation and storyline between this and the original film. It's still entertaining and has a villain you quickly grow to dislike. However, it doesn't measure up to the original at all. It's much more child friendly, which is what Disney is known for.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Whenever someone asks what the greatest animated Disney film is, you'll invariably get the same answers from everyone. People will exclaim titles like "The Lion King," "Sleeping Beauty," "Cinderella," or "Snow White." You'll never hear anyone campaigning for "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Well, I mean to change that!

I know "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" doesn't have a chance put up against a bunch of soft-spoken petite princesses, but it should. I would argue that it has more heart and reaches a whole new level of grandeur in visual scale. The gothic setting and massive background art casts a huge shadow over anything else the studio has ever done.

When you're watching "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," the tragedy unfolding in front of you just sucks you in. I imagine it's how audiences feel when they're viewing a Broadway version of "The Phantom of the Opera" or "Les Miserables." You truly feel as if you're taking in an animated epic which could measure up to any Cecil B. DeMille live action production.

While the songs might not be as memorable as "Under the Sea" or "Beauty and the Beast," they're more dramatic than any of those combined. Alan Menken stepped outside of the box and composed operatic numbers for the tale of Quasimodo. To top it off, they're filled with dark lyrical subjects I would imagine young children would be afraid of or just not understand.

Fritt vilt II (Cold Prey 2)

There's just something about the country of Norway that lends itself to being the perfect location for a horror film. Maybe it's the image most people have of it being desolate, cold, dark, and isolated. It might also have something to do with the fact that 90 percent of the music we hear coming out of the country is death or black metal. "Cold Prey II" definitely doesn't help give movie audiences an alternate view of what to expect if you plan a ski trip to that part of the world.

After surviving a horrific killing spree at an abandoned ski lodge, a college girl named Jannicke (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) is taken to a remote hospital for treatment. She tells her story to the local police who decide to investigate her claims. They return hours later with the bodies of her four friends and the mountain man responsible for the massacre. Unfortunately, the monstrous murderer isn't dead and begins slaughtering the patients, nurses, and doctors in his mission to finish what he started with Jannicke.

"Cold Prey II" is the perfect example of a modern slasher film done right. Although it brings nothing new to the table, it manages to keep up a level of suspense and delivers some legitimate jump scares at the same time.

I couldn't shake the feeling that director Mats Stenberg and writer Thomas Moldestad were doing their own version of "Halloween II" and "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter" for a Norwegian audience. Like those classic 1980s films, much of the action takes place in a hospital. The vision of the giant killer in "Cold Prey II" standing at the end of a corridor with the lights blinking reminded me of the same type of scenes in the sequels to John Carpenter and Sean S. Cunningham's iconic originals.

"Cold Prey II" is a welcome addition to the slasher genre. It's not doing anything new, but continues passing the torch to a new generation of horror fans and filmmakers. It will give viewers a sense of hope we don't get much anymore when it comes to these types of movies.

Oz the Great and Powerful

Journeys to the Land of Oz have been few and far between when it comes to the world of cinema. Many projects have been in development over the years, but none of them can get off the ground. It's not hard to understand why. MGM's 1939 musical version has long been recognized as the definitive film version of L. Frank Baum's magical tale. Walter Murch's attempt at a sequel fell flat in 1986, even though "Return to Oz" has gained a cult following over the years. Walt Disney Pictures has successfully beaten MGM to the punch by providing what I and many others will see as the "official" unofficial prequel to the original.

In "Oz: The Great and Powerful," a crooked circus magician named Oscar Diggs is swept away to a magical land. Upon arriving, he is mistaken as the mystical wizard who is foretold to be the deliverer of its people from the grasp of an evil witch. In order to free them from her clutches, he must steal her magic wand. Oscar embarks on a dangerous journey to find the witch. He's accompanied by a flying monkey and a china doll on his adventures through the whimsical and dangerous land.

I'm going to get brutally honest now. "Oz: The Great and Powerful" uses every bit of imagery it can legally get away with from MGM's "The Wizard of Oz." Director Sam Raimi isn't trying to exploit or make money off of someone else's concepts. You can tell the only thing he's concerned with is paying homage to the 1939 classic. Although there are slight (and I do mean slight) alterations to the designs of the characters and sets, this looks exactly like the original classic for the most part.

The Wicked Witch might be a different shade of green and not have a wart, but the rest of her features are a younger version of Margaret Hamilton's depiction of the character. Another perfect example is the design of the Wizard's Throne Room and the way he appears in a cloud of smoke and fire to his audiences. Did we mention the movie starts in black and white and changes to color when the Wizard gets to Oz? I think I've made my point.

Another thing I've noticed many critics complaining about is the acting. It's being called dull, lifeless, and other such things. I didn't find this to be true at all. You can tell James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, and Rachel Weisz all respected Sam Raimi's vision and wanted to do their best to make "Oz: The Great and Powerful" a visual experience no one would forget. Is Franco a bit heavy-handed and corny at times? Of course he is. That's how the Wizard acted in the original movie as well.

The special effects continued to get better and better throughout the film. The flowers and backgrounds looked rather artificial at first. I could also tell that the film would be headache-inducing in 3D. The camera was sweeping across the scenery way too fast. I would like to note that much of the background resembled a sunnier version of Wonderland from another recent Disney fantasy adaptation directed by Tim Burton.

"Oz: The Great and Powerful" will satisfy fans of L. Frank Baum's books and the original 1939 classic. It's an action-packed journey through a whimsical land you won't forget. While it's a new story using modern special effects, it will leave you wanting to return to the whimsical land as soon as you leave the theater.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

I am one of very few men in the world who actually find "The Twilight Saga" to be watchable. Most are dragged to the theater or plopped down on the couch at home against their will while their girlfriends or wives view them. My experience is the exact opposite. My wife hates the films and I'm forced to see them either alone or with my son amongst a sea of teens and their mothers whooping over Jacob or Edward.

Sometimes it can be hard to evaluate a film accurately sitting at a midnight screening surrounded by fanatics of the franchise. Surpisingly, my opinion of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" didn't change much between seeing it in the theater and in a home entertainment environment. I would say it's by far my second favorite of the movies right behind "Eclipse."

"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" picks up with Bella awakening as a vampire and trying to control her powers and thirst. Edward and Bella's child, Renesmee, is growing at an incredible speed. This makes the Volturi nervous, which in turn causes Aro to investigate the child and decide if she poses a danger to the existence of vampires.

Meanwhile, the Cullens travel the globe and gather witnesses to prove to the Volturi that Renesmee isn't a threat to the vampire's way of life and anonymity. When the Volturi travel to Forks to confront the Cullens, Jacob and his werewolf friends join Bella and her new family in what could be a battle to the death for many.

Director Bill Condon does a good job with pacing for "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2." Although most of the real action doesn't come to the very end, he keeps things interesting through international travels and the suspense of what the Volturi are going to do to rid themselves of Renesmee and the Cullens.

I do have a couple complaints about the movie. The CGI is less than spectacular. Most sequences with CGI are overly glossy and way too noticeable. Renesmee as a baby is a perfect example of this problem. Edward and Bella's run through the woods tests the limits of the movie's budget for more green screen work as well.

Some of the acting comes across as a bit awkward and over-dramatic at times as well. However, it fits with the soap opera-like tone of the movie. Let's just say it will find a nice home on the Lifetime Movie Network a few years from now after FX is done with it.

"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" is a fitting end for the franchise. It ties everything up quite nicely while not completely shutting out the possibility of another movie at some point. A rather smart twist in its third act elevates this movie above the rest of the entries in the series. Although I do have to say that as a whole, "Eclipse" is still my favorite with this coming in at a close second.

Wreck-it Ralph

I don't play video games. Although I work at a store that specializes in movies first and video games second, I get the strangest looks from people when I tell them that. My first reaction is hand gestures that define how much of the store is made up of Blu-rays and DVDs in relation to video games. I didn't get the job there because of my love for video games. That's why I can't say I was all that excited when I saw the trailers for "Wreck-It Ralph."

After 30 years of playing the bad guy in his own video game, Ralph (John C. Reilly) is ready to move on to bigger and better things. All he wants is to be accepted by the other characters of the game and be recognized as a hero instead of a villain for once. In order to prove he can be just as good as he can be bad, Ralph embarks on an adventure to other video game worlds to win an award and the respect of his associates. His journey pits him against the ruler (Alan Tudyk) of a racing game obsessed with keeping a glitching character named Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) from participating.

I'm more than positive that "Wreck-It Ralph" pleases gamers with its homage to video games past and present. The characters are all charming and filmmakers did a wonderful job capturing the looks of different types of old and new games. The only thing I couldn't quite get over was why Ralph and Felix looked so new, but their companions from the 30-year-old game still stuttered a bit when walking and talking.

One thing that impressed me was how animators found a way to keep the style of the different characters consistent while being from different games and decades. Each game had a unique look but still somehow fit together in the grand scheme of the film. A good example of this was the blending of the vastly different "Hero's Duty" and "Sugar Rush" worlds.

The voice cast for "Wreck-It Ralph" is an interesting mix of actors. Instead of the usual Disney TV stars and A-list celebrities we're used to, filmmakers dug a little deeper here. John C. Reilly ("Step Brothers") lends his voice to the title character while Jack McBrayer ("30 Rock") plays his nemesis, Fix-It Felix, Jr. Sarah Silverman ("Crank Yankers") takes on the role of mischievous racer Vanellope von Schweetz. Jane Lynch ("Glee") voices Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun from "Hero's Duty." It's quite a "mature" casting choice for a family film, but it works.

Although being a bit complex for younger viewers, "Wreck-It-Ralph" will win children over with its mesmerizing animation and appealing characters. Its family-friendly fun which parents who used to play "Pac-Man" and "Super Mario Bros." can find something humorous in as well. However, it might not have the same appeal to those who never played video games.

Silent Hill: Revelation

"Silent Hill: Revelation" is a convoluted and confusing mess that expects way too much from a movie audience.

"Silent Hill: Revelation" is one of those films that asks way too much from its audience to be successful. The original film came out six years ago. That's a long time for regular moviegoers to remember what the first one was about without doing some sort of research.

Basically, it asks all its viewers to invest an extra 90 minutes of their life in seeing the first movie before taking in the new one. That's a lot to expect from people who may not feel like catching up with a film released in 2006 that critics flamed and many audience members were on the fence over. In a nutshell, "Silent Hill: Revelation" takes a whole lot for granted.

Another thing filmmakers expect from viewers of "Silent Hill: Revelation" is a knowledge of the video game. If you haven't played it, chances are you're going to be completely lost as far as plot or characters go. The uneducated will likely feel as if they've been thrown to the proverbial wolves.

It feels like script and dialogue writers tried to put together a sensible explanation of what's happening in the film, but somehow everything got jumbled up in front of the camera and when actual actors had to recite their lines. The whole movie just feels like someone is telling a joke and everyone around is in on it except you.

For a movie that is 90 percent CGI, producers sure didn't feel the need to up the budget enough to keep "Silent Hill: Revelation" from letting everyone in on the very apparent secret that it was entirely shot in front of a piece of green cloth. I can't believe a mining town in the middle of nowhere covered in soot and dust could look so shiny and glistening. I will say that the interior sets were rather impressive and did emanate a sense of grime and claustrophobia.

"Silent Hill: Revelation" might be attractive to gamers who are familiar with its world. However, if you walk into it blindly with no prior knowledge of its characters or the first film, you'll be lost in a sea of confusing dialogue and convoluted storytelling that rests on the laurels of its gore. If you have a limited amount of time to dedicate for movie watching, you might want to take a pass on this one.

The Video Dead

"The Video Dead" fails on all levels because it won't accept itself as a horror / comedy and tries to be serious. It's hard to believe this was made through MGM. The film couldn't have had more than a $5.00 budget if even that. Bad acting, a 36-year old lady trying to play an early-20s college girl, flimsy zombie make-up, and bizarre ways to kill the TV creatures all add up to an unintentionally hilarious movie that borders on unwatchable."The Video Dead" fails because it's meant to be taken seriously to an extent. One is intended to be completely funny and enjoyable while the other is to be taken as scary with a touch of black humor. It misses its goal.


"TerrorVision" perfectly encapsulates every aspect of the 1980s into one film. You've got the old grandfather who thinks TV rots your brains and lives in a military bunker while waiting for a third world war. The young son is innocent and loves horror and sci-fi movies. The daughter is a new wave / punk hybrid with multi-colored hair that dates a head-banger named "OD." Their parents are still living in the 1970s and don't want to give up their swinging lifestyle.Top all that off with a big slimy monster that looks like a twisted version of Jabba the Hutt, an alien taken straight out of a 1950s sci-fi film, and a late-night TV host and you have all the ingredients for a film written and produced by B-movie king Charles Band. I would put it up there with fine examples of the decade like "Valley Girl" and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." It's definitely essential viewing for anyone reflecting on the era.


I've been interested in the work of Director / Writer Scott Derrickson since hearing he was a Christian many years back. I was fascinated to find someone else who shared not only my basic religious beliefs but also had a passion for the horror and science fiction genres I love so much. It's not often you hear of Christians who are successful in Hollywood.

Derrickson has an impressive resume of films and actors he's worked with over the years. His early endeavors consist of writing "Urban Legends: Final Cut" and directing and penning "Hellraiser: Inferno." He moved on to take the helm of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "The Exorcism of Emily Rose." Both of these films starred well-respected actors like Keanu Reeves, Laura Linney, and Tom Wilikinson. His latest film "Sinister" ranks at the top of his filmmaking career.

True crime writer Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) gained notoriety ten years ago with a book about a grisly murder. After a couple unsuccessful novels, Oswald is looking to repeat his success and return to the top of the bestseller list. He takes up residence in the home where the victims he's investigating actually lived and were killed.

While moving in, he discovers a box of Super 8 movies which hold footage of several brutal murders that he believes somehow tie together. As Oswald digs deeper into each crime, his world begins to crumble around him. Is he losing his sanity or is there a supernatural force out to get him and his family?

"Sinister" is the culmination of everything good about several horror sub-genres. You have the "Paranormal Activity" found footage concept covered through the use of the Super 8 films. People who enjoy movies with supernatural entities like the ones in "The Grudge," "Boogeyman," and others of that nature will enjoy it. Those who crave modern day ghost stories like "The Pact," "The Apparition," and "Insidious" will love it as well. There really is something for every type of horror enthusiast in "Sinister."

The movie isn't a sloppy hodge-podge of those movies, either. Derrickson ties everything together with a script that makes sense and a story that is well-paced and intriguing. It has slow-burning suspense and jump-scares combined together to keep you on the edge of your seat and nervously awaiting the next disturbing scene.

"Sinister" is a satisfying horror film which will appeal to many types of fright fans. It's a successful combination of old and new tricks. When it comes to what we see onscreen, it has more in common with Hitchcock than it does gorier fare like "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and the likes. Viewers who like a twisty storyline which leaves something for your imagination visually will enjoy "Sinister."


I don't usually go out of my way to see political thrillers. If I catch them on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I'll end up liking most of the ones I watch. "Argo" is one of those movies I would have passed up watching had it not been for one catch. The idea of the government using the making of a fake space / fantasy film to free hostages from Iran intrigued me. Once again, I'm very glad I listened to my instincts and took it in.

In 1979, six Americans are put in hiding by the Canadian Embassy when the U.S. Embassy is raided in Iran by militants. Everyone else in the building is taken hostage. The U.S. government decides to take the unconventional advice of CIA operative Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) to get the six diplomats out of the country. He will enter Iran and smuggle them out as a group of filmmakers scouting for shooting locations for a fake science fiction / fantasy film entitled "Argo."

Ben Affleck continues to surprise me. He's always done his own thing in Hollywood. He'll do smaller films playing less conventional characters like "Dazed and Confused," "Mallrats," and "Chasing Amy." The next thing you know he's taking the lead in blockbusters and popcorn flicks such as "Armageddon," "Daredevil," "Pearl Harbor," and "The Sum of All Fears." Affleck's had his share of stinkers and received some unwanted attention in the tabloids as well. What actor hasn't?

One thing Affleck has done is prove he's a versatile talent in Tinseltown and isn't going away any time soon. He won an Oscar for his "Good Will Hunting" script and continues to collect awards for "Argo." The movie is nominated for an Oscar for "Best Picture" and it deserves the honor.

"Argo" appealed to me in so many ways. I was born in 1972 and was completely caught up in "Star Wars," "Star Trek," and "Planet of the Apes" fevers. A movie based in that time period about people making a fake sci-fi movie as a front to save hostages is captivating.

Add to that the fact that award-winning "Planet of the Apes" makeup artist John Chambers helped the government get the hostages out of Iran. I remember seeing the news broadcasts about the hostage situation as a boy, but I didn't understand what was going on at the time. The whole event is interesting to learn about.

"Argo" is an exciting political thriller which will have you white-knuckled and gripping the edge of your seat. Director Ben Affleck did a great job keeping up the suspense and pacing in the film. Even though you know how it's going to end, you are still nervous for the characters as you watch. That's just good filmmaking in my book.

Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon

When I first heard about "Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon," I was giddy as a schoolboy. What could be more perfect than a movie combining two of my favorite Hanna-Barbera characters from my childhood?

I would spend many Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons watching Scooby and the gang solve mysteries and then Blue Falcon and Dynomutt, the Dog Wonder, chase down whatever criminal they were up against. After watching this new animated feature, there's one thing that could make it better. It would be nice if it actually featured the super hero and his canine sidekick.

Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Incorporated gang head to California for the annual Mega Mondo Pop Cartoon-a-Con. Shaggy and the crime-solving canine are most excited to meet their favorite actor who portrayed the Blue Falcon. The celebrity's appearance at the convention is overshadowed by the release of a new modernized movie featuring the classic super hero.

A sinister villain named Mr. Hyde is intent on bringing the advanced screening of the new "Blue Falcon" film to a grinding halt. Can Scooby and his sleuthing crew capture the ghoulish Mr. Hyde and discover his motives before it's too late?
What we get with "Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon" is a movie ABOUT the super hero, but not including him. To say I was disappointed when watching this after seeing the original trailers for the film would be an understatement. That's not to say it isn't hilarious or good. However, I was really looking forward to a team-up reminiscent of "The New Scooby-Doo Movies."

Besides the fictional Blue Falcon actor donning the costume momentarily at the end, all we get is some footage from the old show. The rest of the time we get scenes from the "new and improved" Blue Falcon and Dynomutt movie. Although it's a hilarious jab at the way super heroes are updated and made current by movie studios, it didn't satisfy me as a viewer.

In the update, Blue Falcon resembles Batman in "The Dark Knight" movies and Dynomutt looks like a Cylon mashed up with Ravage from "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." All I could think while watching it was, "That would be a pretty cool movie!" Of course Blue Falcon purists and fanboys would cry over this the same way they do about any remake or reboot of an iconic character.

The whole movie takes place at a comic book convention and it does a great job lampooning the pop culture events and the people who attend them. Nothing is held sacred when it comes to poking fun at the different aspects of any comic book convention you'll attend.

There are overweight attendees dressed in ill-fitting super hero costumes, vendors selling over-priced collectibles, old actors trying to make a living off selling autographs, and studios trying to pitch their newest movie releases. It's funny to see Warner Brothers poke fun at themselves.

As an exciting mystery movie featuring the Mystery Incorporated Gang, "Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon" gets the job done. It's family fun that will appeal to parents and their children alike. Just don't go into it hoping for a team-up between Blue Falcon, Dynomutt, and the Scooby Gang or you'll be as disenchanted as I was.

The Awakening

What is it about England that makes it the perfect setting for ghost stories? Is it the rainy and bleak weather? The turn-of-the-century period décor has something to do with it I'm sure. From Sherlock Holmes mysteries to "The Woman in Black" and "The Others," it seems Merry Ole England stands in the public eye as one of the most haunted countries in the world. BBC Films continues to feed this perception with the beautifully frightful "The Awakening."

The England of 1921 is suffering from the aftermath of World War I. Many people look to spiritualists for comfort by contacting those dead and missing through different occult avenues. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart travels the country debunking charlatans who use rigged séances and elaborate trickery to fool the innocent looking for answers from the afterlife. The skeptical woman is hired to investigate the appearances of a ghost boy at a secluded boarding school in the countryside. After several attempts at pinning the specters on mischievous students, Cathcart fights to prove to herself that the supernatural events she's experiencing aren't real.

It's evident that Director / Co-writer Nick Murphy had more on his mind when making "The Awakening" than what initially shows up on screen. He states in the extra features that the movie explores the reaction England had to the First World War and uses that as the basis for the events and attitudes of the characters. Florence Cathcart lost her belief in God or the afterlife because her fiancé was killed in the war. Almost everyone in the film was affected in some way by the war, whether it is directly or indirectly.

Murphy used the time period to his advantage and created an effectively disturbing and gripping tale. It has some great twists and a wonderful setting in the quiet gray halls of an abandoned boarding house. Just don't expect the same types of jump-scares we get in Hollywood horror stories. "The Awakening" is sophisticated and provides its frights a little at a time.

Every actor in "The Awakening" delivers a standout performance. Imelda Staunton does a fabulous job playing the over-protective and nervous housekeeper named Maud Hill. Rebecca Hall completely embraces her unbelieving character and shifts through a huge range of emotions with ease as Florence Cathcart.

Viewing "The Awakening" is as pleasurable an experience as you can have watching a gothic horror story. Everything you want in a classic ghost tale is present - a big dark house, suspicious characters, and spectral presences. It also offers many deeper reflections on life than what we get from most modern American horror films.

Cherry Tree Lane

Filmmakers love to exploit people's worst fears. Think about all the films made over the years about plane disasters, natural disasters, zombie outbreaks, airborne pathogens, serial killers, and any and everything else released in theaters or on DVD weekly. For some reason, we're all drawn to seeing what might happen in any of these situations and experience them from the outside looking in. "Cherry Tree Lane" gives us a "glass house" view of what many people would consider one of the most frightening horrors they could experience: the home invasion.

An ordinary middle-class couple named Christine (Rachel Blake) and Mike (Tom Butcher) arrive at home and settle in for an evening together. Their son, Sebastian (Tom Kane), hasn't arrived yet. You can tell the two have issues between them through awkward talk at the dinner table.

The evening takes a turn for the worse when Christine answers a knock at the door and returns to the dining area held captive by a thug with a knife to her throat. The couple soon find themselves bound, gagged, and beaten as their captors await their son's arrival. It seems Sebastian is running with a rough crowd and turned in one of the young delinquent's brothers.

"Cherry Tree Lane" is a slow-burning and tense movie that does its best to explore every aspect of a home invasion. However, instead of showing you everything, it leaves much to your imagination. It's not worse than seeing horrific actions onscreen, but creates a more stressful viewing experience.

Director / writer Paul Andrew Williams definitely knows how to pace a good suspense yarn. This has been referred to as a real-time thriller by some people. Let's just say a lot can happen in 77-minutes. "Cherry Tree Lane" shows audiences that it doesn't take too much time for lives to be destroyed and bad decisions to change the course of one's future forever.

Williams does a great job showing how messed up these thugs are throughout the film. One calls their parents and argues with them about a TV show they want recorded. Another one invites their girlfriend over to the scene of the crime to hang out. She brings her friend and a young boy with her. To them, this is just business as usual. It reminded me of how Alex and his droogs acted after a night of ultra-violence in "A Clockwork Orange."

Another way of looking at "Cherry Tree Lane" is as a cautionary tale. You never know how your actions are going to affect others. Sebastian's actions caused his parents to come to harm. He not only set himself up to be oppressed, but got others involved as well.

Although the movie is Unrated, it features violence, partial nudity, and a whole lot of bad language. This is definitely not for the squeamish. It's also not something you probably want your teenager or young children watching.

"Cherry Tree Lane" only comes in a regular format DVD edition. There are no special features included in the packaging. It would've been nice to see a "Making of" featurette and get a little background on the project from director / writer Paul Andrew Williams.

At first, I felt "Cherry Tree Lane" was a bit slow-moving for my taste. After reflecting on it, I realized that it's actually a well-paced little film that explores an invasion of our privacy and humanity without being too exploitative. Don't get me wrong. It's disturbing and unnerving, but never steps over the line into "torture-porn" territory where a lot of movies like this tend to go.

Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

"Battlestar Galactica" is the franchise that will not die. The original television series in the 1970s was cancelled because of the cost of production. It was then revived for a short-lived budget-crunched version named "Galactica 80," which brought the rag-tag fleet of star voyagers to the Earth and less special effects. The franchise was kept alive throughout the 1980s and 1990s by way of comic books and novels.

2003 saw the launch of the rebooted version of "Battlestar Galactica." After a mini-series, the television show went on for four seasons. It also spawned two TV movies and several web series. "Caprica" premiered in 2009, proving once again audiences just couldn't get enough of this sci-fi phenomenon. Unfortunately, the show ended abruptly after two seasons.

"Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome" once again proves you can't keep a good show down. Originally filmed to be the pilot for a new SyFy Channel series, it was decided to split it up into 10 parts and aired on as a web series. The entire pilot has now been reassembled and made available on Blu-ray and DVD in an "Unrated Edition."

Young William Adama graduates from the Academy in the tenth year of the First Cylon War. He's appointed to serve aboard the Colonial Fleet's newest battlestar, the Galactica. His first assignment is as a pilot for a Raptor transport ship. Adama, his co-pilot Coker, and former Graystone Industries employee Dr. Beka Kelly are sent on a secret mission that will take them deep into Cylon territory.

I refer to "Blood and Chrome" as the "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" of the epic "BSG" franchise. It takes place between "Caprica" and the 2003 series. Just like "The Clone Wars," there's a surprise tie to the rebooted series as well. As R2-D2 and C-3PO do for those particular films, we have a certain character that ties the different eras together here.

Director Jonas Pate takes series creators Michael Taylor and David Eick's script and successfully drops us back into the world of "Battlestar Galactica." Pate has a history working within the universe, having helmed episodes of both "Battlestar Galactica" and "Caprica." This helps give "Blood and Chrome" a familiar look that matches that of the earlier shows.

"Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome" is another essential piece to the franchise puzzle for fans. It will satisfy their taste for more of this intriguing and complex universe and its characters. As a big enthusiast of all the shows myself, I look forward to more movies like this in the future.


Let's begin this movie review with a quick definition of the word "mimesis." The Free Dictionary by Farlex states that "Mimesis" means "the imitation or representation of aspects of the sensible world, especially human actions, in literature and art." Now you don't have to wait for genre legend Sid Haig to explain it to you three-quarters of the way through "Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead."

"Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead" tells the story of a group of fans at a horror convention who are invited to an exclusive after-party. After passing out, each one awakens in the woods outside a farmhouse to find themselves dressed up in different clothing. They soon come to realize that they are pawns in someone's sick re-enactment of "Night of the Living Dead." This time it's not a movie. Its real-life... and people are really dying.

I must say that director / writer Douglas Schulze truly has utilized an interesting concept. Many remakes could save themselves the embarrassment of being inadequate carbon copies if they would take the route "Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead" does with its namesake. Instead of making rehashed updates of iconic films, producers could make a movie about fans of the original who want to act out the events in real life. It could be applied to any horror or slasher movie.

Just picture this: a franchise of films based on the idea. We could have "Mimesis 2: A Nightmare on Elm Street," "Mimesis 3: The Amityville Horror," Mimesis 4: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." The possibilities truly are endless. SyFy Channel or Chiller could even have a weekly "Mimesis" television show. Contestants have to re-live a classic horror film to win prizes and such. I know, this is a review and I'm starting to digress.

Sid Haig ("The Devil's Rejects") is really the only actor in the film who's recognizable in the movie. He plays a horror director who is tired of everyone blaming violence in films for tragic events that happen in real life. I was giddy over a short cameo by Courtney Gains who played Malachai in the original "Children of the Corn." The rest of the cast are basically just victims for the audience to see disposed of in various gory manners.

"Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead" isn't a complete failure as entertainment. It addresses the idea of "life imitating art" that we see come up in the news all the time in a clever manner. However, I can't help but feel that "Scream" did it better back in 1996. A lack of any special features isn't going to help convince consumers that this is the horror movie of the week to spend their hard-earned money on.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2

Adaptations of beloved books are hit and miss most of the time. Many people would say more miss than hit. DC Comics has again dodged what could've been a fatal bullet with "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2." What fans get is a faithful animated feature that captures the spirit of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson's critically acclaimed graphic novel.

There's no break for the Dark Knight (Peter Weller) after his defeat of the Mutant leader. Batman is immediately thrown in to a battle with two of his biggest opponents: the Joker (Michael Emerson) and Superman (Mark Valley). The Joker has once again escaped imprisonment and is more obsessed with destroying Gotham City than ever before.

At the same time, the Man of Steel has been commissioned by the President of the United States (looking a lot like Ronald Reagan) to put an end to the Caped Crusader's vigilantism. Things get even more complicated when a nuclear missile combined with an EMP detonates and everything electrical shorts out. There are riots in the streets of Gotham and it looks like anarchy may reign supreme. Can Batman and his new army of Batmen get things under control before the city annihilates itself? Can the Dark Knight hold his own in a battle against the Last Son of Krypton?

Director Jay Oliva does a standup job of combining Bob Goodman's script and Andrea Romano's casting choices to come up with an action-packed and emotional film that perfectly captures Books Three and Four of Frank Miller's legendary work. There are many parts of this adaptation that follows the novel right down to the printed panel.

I'm not saying the animation matches the book to the tee. If that was the case, we might as well just have a motion comic. However, it certainly comes as close as possible without being a carbon copy.

I have to hand it to voice director Andrea Romano. She did an excellent job coming up with a top-notch cast for "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2." Peter Weller is superb as an older and angrier Batman / Bruce Wayne. Both Michael Emerson and David Selby give their characters of the Joker and Commissioner Gordon unique flavors we haven't heard before. Emerson does come dangerously close to impersonating Jack Nicholson in some spots, though.

"Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2" is an energetic and faithful adaptation of what is considered one of the greatest Batman graphic novels ever written. I close my review with one question: "Are we ever going to see an animated feature film for 'The Dark Knight Strikes Again?'" Feel free to argue amongst yourselves, comic book geeks of all genders.

Paranormal Activity 4 (Unrated)

Every time I watch a "Paranormal Activity" movie, I walk away from it wondering why I put myself through the experience. I loathe them more than anything in cinematic history. I vainly hope that the next one couldn't be any worse than the one before it. However, they continue to disappoint me with "Paranormal Activity 4."

A family takes in a little boy when his mother is hospitalized. Unexplainable things begin happening shortly after his arrival. Is it all coincidence or did the child bring something supernatural into the house with him?

Writer Christopher Landon and directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman really have nothing new to add to what has come before in the "Paranormal Activity" franchise. Sure, we get some new ways to incorporate found footage into the movie like computer and iPhone cameras as well as Kinect sensors. The visuals and outcome are all the same, though. We get shadows, bumps, flickering lights, books falling, utensils floating, and a laundry list of other hoaxes and illusions too long to list.

I'm not going to say there aren't some genuinely scary moments. They're few and far between. Viewing "Paranormal Activity 4" is the equivalent of watching paint dry for 90 minutes with a bubble rising and popping every 10 minutes.

I have the formula for the films figured out as well. There's a low rumbling every time something "scary" is about to happen. Unfortunately, nothing every REALLY happens until the last 10 minutes. All we get before that are some loud bumps and a few elaborate but mostly elementary parlor tricks.

Creator Oren Peli does deserve a standing ovation for tricking so many people (not me; I see them for free, thankfully) into wasting money on these films year after year. "Paranormal Activity 4" alone brought in $140,706,358 off of a budget of $5 million. The entire series so far has cost $13,015,000 to make and grossed $714,788,650. Now that's just smart business!

Something else that eludes me is why they rate these movies R. There's nothing here that isn't seen in a PG-13 horror film or watered-down teen sex romp. All they'd have to do to make even more money at the box office is cut out three or four expletives. They'd then have a teen-friendly horror movie tailor-made for kiddies to enjoy.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The "Paranormal Activity" films are made for people who don't regularly watch horror movies. Anyone who tells you any differently is lying. "Paranormal Activity 4" is another lackluster entry in a franchise which will continue to be a successful Halloween novelty until they stop making money. Therefore, I see no end in sight.

All Superheroes Must Die

When I saw the box art for "All Superheroes Must Die," the first thing that came to mind was "Watchmen" and "Kick-Ass." The two masked men on the cover reminded me of Ozymandias and Dave Lizewski because of their costumes. I was immediately intrigued when I read the synopsis and found out who directed, wrote, and starred in it.

The name Jason Trost will be known to many quirky film lovers who delighted in "The FP." Who wouldn't want to see another project made by the guy who brought us a movie about an apocalyptic world where people fought to the death playing a sadistic form of "Dance, Dance Revolution?" I could only imagine where he would take the superhero genre with "All Superheroes Must Die."

Four superheroes named Charge (Jason Trost), Cutthroat (Lucas Till), Shadow (Sophie Merkley), and The Wall (Lee Valmassy) wake up in what appears to be an abandoned town. They discover their super powers were taken away by their arch nemesis, Rickshaw (James Remar). The villain puts the heroes through a series of challenges that test both their mental and psychological strengths. They find themselves racing against the clock to save abducted civilians which Rickshaw is using in his insane game.

"All Superheroes Must Die" is a unique, dark, and twisted take on the genre it addresses. It's a little slow at times but delivers some great violent spurts and causes the viewer to think about the questionable actions the characters make throughout the film. The concept of superheroes dealing with saving people without their powers leads to some disturbing outcomes.

I wasn't wrong in my initial comparisons to "Watchmen" and "Kick-Ass" as I perused the cover of the Blu-ray. The homemade costumes and colored language the heroes use heavily resembles the Minutemen and the empathetic characters in "Kick-Ass." Whether they were born with their powers or gained them later in life, these individuals are very "human" at heart.

Everyone in "All Superheroes Must Die" put forth their best effort in their roles. James Remar ("Dexter") portrays the villain Rickshaw with devilish delight. Jason Trost plays Charge successfully as a downtrodden hero who is mentally exhausted by his work. Lucas Till is in familiar territory as Cutthroat, having already starred as Havok in "X-Men: First Class."

Superhero fans of "Watchmen" and "Kick-Ass" will find something to appreciate in "All Super Heroes Must Die." They'll be especially pleased with its foundation in reality and violent sequences which bring to mind the newer "Before Watchmen" stories being told about the different members of the Minutemen. It does get bogged down in dialogue in some spots. One big complaint I have is that it ends abruptly leaving you unsatisfied. However, don't let that keep you from enjoying everything else about it.


"Branded" is the perfect example of a movie that doesn't deliver what is promised on its packaging. The box art and synopsis leads one to believe they're getting a smart sci-fi alien invasion conspiracy film. What we get in reality is a metaphysical art film delivering heavy-handed social commentary.

After a terrible accident caused by one of his advertising schemes, Misha Galkin moves from the big city of Moscow to the country to get away from Russia's newfound obsession with capitalism. After performing an ancient Red Heifer ritual in which he sacrifices a red cow and bathes in its ashes, he starts seeing bizarre creatures feeding off of people's marketing desires. Misha becomes driven in his mission to destroy the monstrous things and free Moscow and the world from their brand obsessions.

If nothing else, directors Jamie Bradshaw and Aleksandr Dulerayn have successfully crafted a cerebral journey for those who enjoy that sort of thing. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people. I do respect them for coming up with something different. It still feels like a whole lot of effort just to tell us that we're consumed with commercialism and victims of marketing and branding.

"Branded" might have worked better and felt more threatening had the creatures appeared more realistic. If you didn't know what year the movie was made, you'd think it was from the early 1990s based on the wretched CGI. There's something unsettling about the balloon-like creatures, but you can't shake the feeling you're viewing an eighth grade student's computer art project.

I will award "Branded" a gold star for an eclectic cast who put forth their best efforts for such a strange film. LeeLee Sobieski, Jeffrey Tambor, and Max Von Sydow somehow wade through this esoteric indie flick maintaining straight faces the entire time. How does a bizarre project like this even catch the attention of someone as legendary as Von Sydow?

Most people who buy or rent this based on how it looks are going to be disappointed. The audience "Branded" was made for will never even give it a chance because it's going to appear to be just another "Independence Day" knock-off to them. It's ironic that a movie about the evils of branding and marketing was advertised so falsely.

Peter Pan
Peter Pan(1953)

This beloved 1953 animated adaptation of J.M. Barrie's book was the last of Disney's films to be distributed through RKO Pictures. That fact gives it even more historical significance for cinema buffs. It's easily one of my favorite movies from the Mouse House because of its quick pace and borderline dark humor.

Peter Pan returns to the nursery of Wendy, Michael, and John Darling after losing his shadow. He visits them frequently in secret to listen to Wendy's tales about himself and his adventures in Neverland. Peter accidentally wakes the children up and agrees to take them to Neverland with him. They soon get tangled up in a battle between with Captain Hook and his pirates. Joining them in their fight are the Lost Boys and the fairy Tinkerbell.

"Peter Pan" has something for everyone. There's a girl yearning for adventure, an Indian princess, a beautiful sparkling fairy, and mermaids for the younger female audiences out there. Boys can get excited over pirates, Indians, and mischievous little troublemakers who like to fight with each other. Adults will enjoy it because of its humor and ability to take them back to a more innocent time when they weren't bogged down with so many grown-up responsibilities.

It's funny to watch "Peter Pan" now in the politically correct environment we live in. It's a children's cartoon in which we witness Captain Hook shoot a pirate for singing too loud, Peter make rude comments about girls, a little boy smoke a peace pipe, and listen to Indians sing about "What Makes the Red Man Red." Isn't it strange how what's acceptable changes over the years?

The Possession

I think I've seen it all now. Never in a million years did I anticipate it was possible to make a movie about demon possession and have it completely devoid of the utterance of the name of Jesus Christ or the symbolism of the cross. "The Possession" has accomplished both these tasks in the space of one film.

To say this Jewish take on "The Exorcist" is unique would be both true and false at the same time. It's more of the same in the fact that it tramples the frequently treaded grounds explored by "The Last Exorcism," "The Devil Inside," "The Rite," and countless others over the years. Where it's unique is in the fact that it explores the concept from the viewpoint of the Jewish faith instead of the usual Judeo-Christian one.

In case you're not in the religious know, most Jews don't believe Jesus is the Son of God. Therefore, there's no name of Jesus or sign of the cross they can use to battle demonic forces. Although I don't share their beliefs, it's fascinating to explore the idea of possession and exorcism from a different angle.

Clyde Brenek (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) takes his daughters to an estate sale on their way home one afternoon. The youngest one, Em (Natasha Calis), is captivated by an antique wooden box with bizarre writing on it. Clyde buys it for her and they take it home. Em becomes obsessed with the box, going as far as to sleep with it and take it to school with her.

Clyde and ex-wife Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) become more and more concerned as Em's behavior becomes unpredictable and violent. Clyde takes the box to be examined and finds out that it is a container for an evil spirit known as a Dibbuk. Once the box is opened, it slowly and completely consumes the human it has bonded with. The two parents must get past their disbelief and find someone within the Jewish religious community who will step out in faith and help them.

Director Ole Bornedal ("Nightwatch") is no stranger to the art of creating a suspenseful atmosphere in his films. "The Possession" also shows that he knows how to take what many would consider tired subject matter and breathe new life into it. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the movie doesn't have any flaws, but for the most part it's genuinely creepy and provides some frightening visuals.

I would recommend "The Possession" to those horror fans tired of the same old boring take on territory "The Exorcist" explored in 1973. Although my own beliefs are Christian, I found the Jewish take on the concept of possession to be fascinating to examine. There might be many "déjà vu" moments, but it's light years better than other exorcism movies we've been bombarded with recently. I'm looking at you, "The Last Exorcism" and "The Devil Inside!"

Deadly Blessing

Jim Schmidt (Doug Barr) turns his back on his Hittite faith and moves to the city to start a new life. He returns with his new bride, Martha (Maren Jensen), to the place he grew up. His father, Isaiah (Ernest Borgnine), and family have disowned him for leaving the Hittite faith. They will have nothing to do with him or his bride. When Jim is killed in a mysterious tractor accident, Martha begins to suspect that the Hittites are trying to drive her away from the land she lives on and still claim is theirs. A series of brutal murders further prove something's not right in the little country community.

Director Wes Craven obviously used "Deadly Blessing" as practicing grounds for his future horror exploits. One example is a very familiar camera angle used in "Deadly Blessing" that he re-used in the original "A Nightmare on Elm Street." It left me smiling throughout the entire sequence. One thing I'll give Craven is he knows how to drum up enough suspense to make you nervously bite your fingernails through pacing and editing alone. There are some genuinely nerve-wracking moments in "Deadly Blessing."

The movie boasts an interesting variety of cast members at various times in their careers. "Deadly Blessing" is Maren Jensen's ("Battlestar Galactica") last big-screen role. It features Sharon Stone in one of her first film appearances. Genre-favorite Michael Berryman ("The Hills Have Eyes") appears as a creepy mentally handicapped Hittite.

Ernest Borgnine had already won Academy and Golden Globe Awards before taking the role of cult leader Isaiah. Any other actor of his caliber probably would've stuck his nose up in the air and walked away when offered this role in a low-budget horror film. Borgnine instead throws himself into the character and adds a level of class to the movie that takes it to a whole new level.

The Last Stand

Arnold is back just like he's always claimed! No matter what you think of him as a politician or family man, one thing is for sure. Nobody can kick as much booty as Arnold Schwarzenegger. The man has fought and won against robots, drug dealers, terrorists, giant serpents, politicians, and the Devil.

He's battled everyone and everything in his forty plus year career in films and TV. What do you do for an encore after taking a break to be the governor of California? You jump back in the ring and do it all over again! That's exactly what Schwarzenegger does in "The Last Stand."

Ex-LAPD officer Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has retired to the small border town of Summerton Junction and taken the position of sheriff in the quiet community. Things get heated up when Ray discovers the leader of a drug cartel, Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), is heading through the heart of Summerton Junction as he speeds toward Mexico and freedom. It's up to Owens and his inexperienced deputies to stop Cortez and his gang as they prepare for a daring escape across the border.

Although the film starts out rather slow, it picks up and never lets the audience back down. I was getting a bit restless as they took their time establishing the story. As soon as those first explosions and gunshots went off, I knew I was in for a bloody and gory good time.

"The Last Stand" is the perfect movie for Schwarzenegger to return to the silver screen in. Its violence, gun fighting, and hand-to-hand combat are over-the-top in that wonderfully excessive 1980s style. However, the story and Schwarzenegger's role as an aging lawman are quite convincing.

Owens just wants to get away from the rat race of being a big city cop and settle down in a quiet little country town with one road. That doesn't stop him from wanting to protect his home and its citizens. It's completely believable that a gun-toting patriotic sheriff and his deputies would do anything they could to protect their town from harm at the hands of murderous drug dealing criminals.

Johnny Knoxville and Luis Guzman both do a great job of providing the comic relief we've all come to expect from these great action films. You can't have a great hero without having his inept sidekicks that accidentally help save the day. It just so happens that we get two for the price of one in "The Last Stand."

Eduardo Noriega is excellent as the pretty boy drug kingpin who lets other people do all his dirty work while he reaps all the benefits. He races towards the Mexican border in a fancy race car with a woman by his side while his gang members get blown away by Schwarzenegger and company. I spent the entire film just waiting for him to come face-to-face with Schwarzenegger and get what was coming to him.

"The Last Stand" shows that even in his 60s, Arnold Schwarzenegger still has what it takes to carry a big-scale action movie. It might take him a little longer than it used to, but he'll still end up handing your tail to you when it's all said and done. From the looks of his upcoming films, he's just getting started.

House at the End of the Street

Producers of "House at the End of the Street" couldn't buy better advertising for their low-budget thriller. First, the movie is given a boost by the success of "The Hunger Games" and the spotlight it shined on Jennifer Lawrence. Secondly, Lawrence wins a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical a mere five days after the movie's release on Blu-ray and DVD. This further guarantees that more people who weren't familiar with the star now are and will likely give any project she's in a chance.

Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and her mother (Elisabeth Shue) move to the suburbs to start a new life. They lease a home in an upper-middle class neighborhood that's affordable to them because of the horrific murders that took place in the house next door. A few years before, a girl killed her mother and father there before running out into the woods and disappearing. She's been long thought dead, but some residents believe she still lives in the woods next to the neighborhood. Elissa befriends the killer's brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot), against her mother's wishes. She soon discovers the boy might be hiding a dark secret from her and the rest of the town.

If "House at the End of the Street" is guilty of anything, it's trying to be everything to everyone. It feels as if writers David Loucka and Jonathan Mostow couldn't figure out what genre they wanted to tackle, so they just touched on all of them. While sometimes this can work, it really creates a schizophrenic vibe here. They throw in everything AND the kitchen sink. We get a pinch of slasher films, a handful of ingredients from both thriller and suspense movies, and it gets topped off with the recently overused twist ending everyone's come to expect from these types of movies.

The pacing is erratic under the helm of director Mark Tonderai. However, I'll give credit where credit is due. The camerawork helps to redeem it by capturing a sense of creepy nostalgia thanks to cinematographer Miroslaw Baszak. He chose to use a type of film that makes it look grainy and similar to older classic horror movies.

Jennifer Lawrence puts forth her best effort in the role of flirty and rebellious teen Elissa. Max Thieriot is convincing as the enigmatic Ryan. He's both creepy and charming at the same time, which can be hard to pull off by some actors. Elisabeth Shue does an adequate job portraying the concerned, yet distant mother. Although, she sometimes feels a little disconnected from the role.

I'm not going to say that "House at the End of the Street" doesn't have some enjoyable moments or isn't worth your time. It's just more of the same thing we've come to expect from these types of films. It's like a meal you walk away from full but not satisfied. Nothing you ate was necessarily bad, it just wasn't fantastic. It's one of those PG-13 thriller films we'll see being played repeatedly on the Lifetime Movie Network in a year or so.


A love / hate relationship has always existed between Tim Burton and critics. Ever since "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" hit screens in 1985, the renowned director / producer / writer is constantly put under a microscope over every project he's attached to. He's been praised for triumphs like "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and ridiculed for heavily panned for movies such as the "Planet of the Apes" remake. "Frankenweenie" should be added to his list of successes.

Vincent is a loner who loves making homemade movies with his dog and best friend Sparky. After Sparky is hit by a car and killed, the boy is distraught and lonely. Thanks to his science teacher, Vincent is shown how to re-animate dead tissue and uses it to bring Sparky back from the dead. Things get out of control when the other students in class start bringing their pets back to life with less successful results.

I've always liked Burton's movies. I loved "Dark Shadows," "Planet of the Apes," and all of the other films he's been involved with throughout his entire career. Looking through his filmography, I can't locate a single movie I hated or consider unwatchable. The man has a wonderfully dark sense of humor and a great admiration of cinema history, which he shows off through "Frankenweenie."

"Frankenweenie" is classic Tim Burton at his best. It has crazy characters with the looks to match. A couple of them are patterned and named after classic horror actors and characters like Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Igor, and others. The entire movie serves as a beautiful homage to Universal and Hammer horror. I smiled in delight when Vincent's parents are cuddled on the couch watching "Horror of Dracula" with Christopher Lee.

My only complaint with "Frankenweenie" is it's too clean for what it's trying to emulate. This is even more evident when the film is seen in high-definition. A movie that celebrates the monsters of yesteryear would have been more effective if they had added some artificial film scratches and grain to give it an aged "retro" look.

Danny Elfman's musical score for the film brilliantly blends his trademark orchestration with splashes of what you would expect to hear in movies like "Bride of Frankenstein" or "Dracula."

Anyone who enjoyed "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "Corpse Bride," "Coraline," or "James and the Giant Peach" will embrace "Frankenweenie." It's an elegant tribute to the classic horror films of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s that will entertain children and their parents. It's definitely a return to form for Tim Burton. This is a successful culmination of what was obviously a 28-year labor of love for the eccentric filmmaker.


Let's get one thing out of the way up front. The only thing 2012's "Dredd" and 1995's "Judge Dredd" have in common is a name. For those who have somehow escaped seeing a trailer for the new take on the futuristic lawman, let me just say there's no comparison between the two. Sylvester Stallone's adaptation of the character boasted stylish clothing, props, and special effects. Karl Urban's has style, but it's in the form of an interesting combination of artsy cinematography and violent grit.

The America of the future has been reduced to a desolate wasteland known as the Cursed Earth. The only civilizations left are overcrowded metropolitan areas called Mega Cities. Inside each of their walls, hundreds of thousands of citizens fight for some semblance of a life amongst the decay and crime.

The only thing standing in the way of the gangs and other lawbreakers taking over the cities are the Judges. They act as judge, jury, and executioner when they encounter "Perps." Joseph Dredd is the most notorious Judge in Mega City One. His skills are put to the ultimate test as he and his new partner, a psychic named Anderson, are commissioned to take down a drug kingpin housed atop a sealed-up tenement where everyone is on the hunt for them.

Screenwriter Alex Garland and director Pete Travis did a bang-up (literally) job of delivering a satisfying vision of 2000AD's legendary comic book character. I don't think Dredd fans could have asked for more. All the graphic violence and cynicism readers came to enjoy on the printed page is brought to vivid life with plenty of splashes of bright red to quench the bloodthirsty hordes.

I'm extremely impressed with director of photography Anthony Dodd Mantle's work. He creates a beautiful balance between gut-level grime, realism, and a hyper-colored drug-induced world of art house / indie film glitz. It's a unique mash-up that works effectively within the confines of "Dredd."

Alex Garland's screenplay is simple and to the point while staying engrossing. Everything moves along quite well until the last ten or fifteen minutes. Unfortunately, we run into some action / cop movie clichà (C)s which don't completely ruin the experience but come dangerously close to tainting it. A simpler ending might have brought the film to a close quicker, but would have served it better in the long run.

Longtime enthusiasts and action movie fans will delight in the gory ultra-violence of "Dredd." It delivers on every level and only meanders into overly familiar territory momentarily. Great cinematography and a simple-yet-satisfying story make this recommended viewing.

Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo(2003)

"Finding Nemo" is a new classic for both the Mouse House and Pixar and continues to charm children of all ages. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who follows the success of Pixar, who very rarely has a miss among its hits.

Little clownfish Nemo is caught by a diver and taken away from his home in the Great Barrier Reef. While he tries to find a way to escape from his life of captivity in a fish tank full of other interesting characters, his father Marlin sets out on a search for Nemo. He encounters all sorts of dangerous and eccentric aquatic personalities. Can Marlin and Nemo survive their misadventures and reunite with each other?

This is another example of a Pixar film I just don't enjoy. It trudges along at a pace too slow for my tastes. My opinion doesn't matter when the film is aimed at children and parents who love it.

It does have its moments. I enjoy the sequence with the sharks. I think this has more to do with the fact that filmmakers chose to name the great white shark Bruce in homage to the mechanical one Steven Spielberg used while directing "Jaws." It's also one of the more exciting moments in "Finding Nemo."

The movie carries a great message about the importance of family. It's also a cautionary tale pounding home how important it is for children to obey their parents for their own safety. Strangely, it somehow delivers an edict addressing overprotective parents who won't give their children room to grow on their own.

I doubt my dispassion for "Finding Nemo" will keep anyone from watching or purchasing this new Blu-ray edition. Who am I to argue with the members of the Academy or millions of people who love it?

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

I remember the first time I saw a trailer for "The Odd Life of Timothy Green." My eyes rolled so many times I think I actually lost balance. However, at my wife's request we sat down and watched it. I held on to the hope that this would be one of those films I ended up enjoying when the credits rolled at the end. It wasn't nearly as painful as I thought it would be. The movie still felt like it was missing something in the end, though.

A happily married couple who long to start a family find out they are unable to have children. After they bury a wish list of what traits they would want their imaginary child "Timothy" to have, they awaken in the middle of the night to find a boy on their doorstep. As Timothy is introduced to the townspeople of Stanleyville, wonderful things begin happening that can only point to his arrival.

Writer / director Peter Hedges constructed a touching film on the surface. It's only when you dig deeper into "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" that you get the feeling there should be more of a reason for the movie to exist. I found myself dreading the end because it was all too obvious how it was going to pan out. The conclusion left both my wife and I with a sensation of dissatisfaction. This is what I would call a "feel good" movie that doesn't leave you feeling so great.

"The Odd Life of Timothy Green" tries very hard to give viewers an emotional and entertaining experience. An unsatisfying finale is likely to ruin it for most audiences. It's a shame because the first 95-minutes promise a favorable film that isn't granted.


The only thing I can think of when it comes to Christmas movies that could be better than ones about killers dressed in Santa Claus outfits are disaster films centered around the holiday. I don't know if it's just coincidence or if Anchor Bay Home Entertainment is trying to start a new tradition, but last Christmas they gave us "Ice Quake" and now this year we get the gift of "Snowmageddon." SyFy Channel does deserve some of the credit for these entertaining low-budget time-wasters since they originally aired there first.

Christmas Eve in Normal, Alaska is anything but its namesake when a string of seemingly natural disasters occur. The tiny town's residents find themselves running for their lives from bizarre earthquakes, fiery explosions, meteoric ice, and protruding underground spikes. Could a mysterious cursed snow globe be the cause of all the mayhem?

"Snowmageddon" is glorious disaster-film fun for everyone who enjoys B-movies made on a one-shoestring budget. This has everything you could ever want in this sort of film and more. The CGI and special effects are maybe two steps above what we've come to expect from C-grade Asylum movies.

Filmmakers definitely know what they need to do to attract a good mix of genre fans for projects like these. Magda Apanowicz ("Caprica") does an incredible job of running around while screaming and crying. Michael Hogan ("Battlestar Galactica") trades in his eye-patch for a tool smock in the role of a wise old antique dealer. Laura Harris ("Dead Like Me") and David Cubitt ("Medium") play the parents of the little boy (Dylan Matzke, "Criminal Minds") who finds the mysterious snow globe.

One thing I find interesting about these particular SyFy Channel movies is their family-oriented tone. Both "ice Quake" and "Snowmageddon" are aimed at an "all ages" audience. Besides a few scenes with blood, there's nothing too gory about it. They also center around families trying to save each other while staying united during incredible events.

"Snowmageddon" gives disaster film enthusiasts something to watch over the Christmas holidays. The "cursed snow globe" is a unique fantasy element we don't get often with these types of movies. The lack of any real gore and graphic violence also makes it easier to watch with family and friends when you run out of other seasonal activities or just need a little downtime.


It's rare these days to find a truly exciting and thought-provoking science fiction film. When one does come along, it should be cherished and talked about among genre fans so the joy of viewing it is spread throughout the community. "Looper" is one of those prized treasures that deserve to be talked about and doted on.

Time travel is invented and declared illegal in the near future. The mob uses it in a very inventive way. Disposing of a body after eliminating a target has become very difficult thanks to science and forensic advances. They use it to transport a target into the past where a hired assassin called a "looper" kills them and then burns the bodies. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one of these highly-paid gunmen who are living the high life. That is until he's contracted to kill his future self (Bruce Willis) and things get complicated.

Writer / director Rian Johnson ("Breaking Bad," "The Brothers Bloom") has created an intelligent and complex story that keeps viewers glued to the screen. It's been a long time since I've seen a film that so wonderfully blends together science fiction, action, and such a high level of emotional depth.

I couldn't stop thinking about the premise of the movie throughout its two hour running time. There's never been a better visual illustration of the tragic aphorism, "Eat, drink, and be merry; for tomorrow we die." "Looper" also drums up some paranoia and makes you re-examine the statements "Every action has a reaction" and "Everything we do matters."

"Looper" is everything a science fiction movie should be. It uses entertaining storytelling to deliver a message or social commentary in a non-threatening and exciting way. I would use "12 Monkeys" and "Source Code" as comparisons to "Looper" if someone wanted an idea of what to expect from the movie. Great performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, and Jeff Daniels only add to the quality of this soon-to-be classic film.

Resident Evil: Retribution

I always find it interesting when an action film feels weighted down in tedium. No matter how many things explode onscreen or how much people jump around shooting with semi-automatic rifles, it just can't rile up any sense of excitement. These were my thoughts when reflecting on "Resident Evil: Retribution" after weathering through an hour and a half of tired action movie clichà (C)s, slow motion cinematography, and 3D gimmicks.

Alice (Milla Jovovich) wakes up in an underwater Umbrella facility where she must travel through different T-virus testing simulations to escape. Along the way, she meets up with an associate of Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) named Ada (Li Bingbing). She informs her that Wesker is trying to help her escape to join his fight against the Umbrella Corporation and the undead. Wesker also put together a team made up of Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb), Barry Burton (Kevin Durand), and Luther West (Boris Kodjoe) to retrieve the two girls.

Alice and her rescuers come up against different varieties of the undead as well as a group of familiar faces the Red Queen (Ave Merson-O'Brian) is using to intimidate and fight against them. The team is led by a brainwashed Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and made up of clones of Alice's dead associates including Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), Carlos (Oded Fehr) and James "One" Shade (Colin Salmon). Can Alice get to safety and discover why her old opponent Wesker needs her help so bad?

I know the movie is based on a video game, but does "Resident Evil: Retribution" have to feel like I'm just watching someone else play it? A script is almost non-existent as the film takes viewers through different simulated "testing" grounds for at least an hour of the 95-minute running time. Just like in a video game, you go into a room with a character, defeat whatever monsters are in it, and then move on to the next one and do it all again. If I wanted to play the game, I would have just rented the latest version and skipped this mess.

Director / writer Paul W.S. Anderson found a way to shove as many of the old characters from the other movies into this one through his use of clones as assassins and gunners for the Umbrella Corporation. Besides Michelle Rodriguez's Rain, the other returning actors have little to do except shoot guns while running and jumping around on wires.

The CGI and visual effects aren't too bad. However, the final sequence of the movie looks like it was pulled straight off of Capcom's game. It looks ridiculously animated and really closes the film on a negative note. There also seems to be some kind of synthetic sheen over any scenes featuring Jovovich that give them an artificial air.

"Resident Evil: Retribution" is a disappointing entry in the franchise. I watched "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" after watching this and it just furthermore pounded home how laborious "Retribution" is. Many enthusiasts of these movies may find themselves feeling like they're sitting on a couch with their hands tied behind their backs while being forced to watch a friend play "Resident Evil 6" for an hour and a half. It's just not a very pleasant predicament to find yourself in.

The Island
The Island(1980)

It is hard to believe "The Island" did not do well when it came out three decades ago. You would think that audiences would have clamored to see it after the huge successes of "Jaws" and "The Deep," which was author Peter Benchley's other big screen adaptations.

Investigative reporter Blair Maynard (Michael Caine) heads to the Caribbean with his son (Jeff Frank) to solve the mystery of disappearing boats, their crews, and passengers. He is obsessed with debunking the myths surrounding what many call "the Bermuda Triangle." During his search for the truth, Blair and his son are apprehended by marauding pirates. They take the two to their island where they are still living life as centuries-old buccaneers. Blair must find a way to escape the island and save his brainwashed son from the pirates and their leader (David Warner).

I imagine the movie version of "The Island" can be trusted as what Peter Benchley wanted viewers to see since he wrote the screenplay. The film moves along at a nice pace and establishes its characters strongly. It does a good job of building up to its climax even if the ending does feel abrupt.

Director Michael Ritchie did a great job capturing the beautiful locations used to make the film. Everything from the tattered clothing of the pirates to the natural settings evokes a sense of authenticity. His knack for timing shines through in particular scenes with suspenseful build-ups. Richard A. Harris's editing gives viewers just enough of shockingly brutal scenes to induce a queasy feeling in the stomach of viewers who aren't regular watchers of gory genre films.

Michael Caine does his usual wonderful job portraying Blair Maynard. He keeps Maynard balancing desperately between calm and frenzy as he sees how the pirates live and what they plan to do to his son. Jeff Frank is convincing in his role of Caine's son, Justin Maynard. He might possibly have the toughest role in the film. He has to convince the audience he is a true convert and has become a buccaneer. David Warner is perfect as the reserved-yet-volatile leader of the pirates.

"The Island" is an unnerving suspense thriller which holds just enough violence and gore to please horror and slasher fans. I recommend it for viewers who enjoyed "The Wicker Tree" and Benchley's "The Deep." Although it is not perfect, this is a film that deserves more recognition than it received in its initial release.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I'm not a huge fan of the three "Lord of the Rings" films so my expectations were pretty low walking into "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." I'm not saying that I don't acknowledge J.R.R. Tolkien's genius and the fact that the movies do look great. I just think that they could have been half the length in their theatrical releases, much less their extended editions.

With all that being said, I must admit this wasn't nearly as painful to sit through as I expected. There was still plenty wrong with it, but it could have been much worse. Strangely, I can only think of a few reasons why the movie appealed to me; I just know that as I left the theater I knew I wanted to see it again.

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" tells the story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventure outside his comfort zone of the Shire in the wilds of Middle-earth. The wizard Gandalf and his band of dwarves need a master burglar to accompany them on their quest to retake their kingdom from the evil dragon Smaug. Along the way they run into a number of different obstacles including orcs, goblins, and a strange creature calling himself Gollum.

Let's get the things I remember enjoying about the film out of the way first. I liked getting to see Christopher Lee as the very suspicious Saruman, even if it was only for a few minutes. I also was delighted to see Gandalf being a lot more active in battles; even if I knew it really wasn't Ian McKellen doing the fighting.

The other two things I really appreciated were the Pale Orc and the story of the Necromancer. According to people I spoke with after the movie, neither the Pale Orc nor the Necromancer was even in the book. Basically, what I loved about "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" had nothing to do with its source material. The last thing I was thankful for was the limit of only two annoying folk-songs sung by the dwarves.

I was told that I shouldn't see the movie in 48fps and 3D as it would require me bringing an airplane barf-bag to the theater with me. I really had no intentions of seeing it in 48fps at all, but it was the only way I could at a time I was free. The negative aspects of 48fps are getting blown way out of proportion. It didn't make me ill the way I was told it would.

The experience is comparable to watching a Blu-ray on a hi-def TV, but it's magnified onto a big-screen. That doesn't help when it comes to make-up showing on actors and things of that nature. It also caused scenes with fast movement to blur as well. It wasn't as bad as it was made out to be by people I spoke to before viewing it.

I was very surprised by how bad the CGI in the film was. I would say that three-quarters of the CGI was absolutely dreadful. Everything from Rivendell to the smoke coming out of Gandalf's pipe reminded me that I was watching a movie mostly created on a computer. I wouldn't expect that WETA will be getting much business outside of Peter Jackson after other filmmakers see this.

There were many points during "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" where I found myself drifting off. As usual, Jackson has a tendency to not know when enough is enough with lengthy scenes of landscape, mountains, and walking. He sure loves to watch people walk. The sequence where Bilbo and Gollum quiz each other was also a chore to get through.

I know many people who had high expectations were let down by "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." Maybe my lower expectations made the film seem more acceptable to me. One thing I will say is it's jam-packed full of Middle-earth facts and background information; so much so that at times it feels as if it's going to burst at the seams and spill out all over the audience. I definitely don't think we'll have to worry about any more movies after these three "Hobbit" ones. Jackson will have nothing left to exploit if this first entry is an example of what to expect from the next two.


The year 2012 sure is getting a raw deal when it comes to being associated with catastrophic events. First, we're speeding towards the end of the Mayan calendar which supposedly signifies the coming of the apocalypse. Now the Asylum marks the actual beginning of the end as "12/12/12."

Armageddon might occur on December 21st, but the official kick-off begins on the 12th when the son of the Devil is born. At least that's what this over-the-top and completely disgusting low -budget mix of "It's Alive," "Grace," and "Rosemary's Baby" wants us to believe.

Baby Sebastian's birth on December 12, 2012 is marked with tragedy from the moment he arrives in the delivery room. The doctors delivering the baby are brutally and inexplicably murdered. After taking the newborn home, it becomes evident to mother Veronica that something is very wrong with her child. Death seems to surround him wherever he is. She soon realizes Sebastian is the child of Satan and will fully embrace his evil calling on December 21st.

As a movie, I have to say that "12/12/12" isn't all that badly paced or put together. There are still the amateurish camera angles and bad acting we're all used to with the Asylum's movies. What ruins this is its mission to push the envelope of tastelessness as far as they can and get away with it. I'm all about giving the audience something shocking they can drop their jaws at, but they go way too far in my opinion.

Let me give you just a few examples of sections of the film where I was looking away and closing my eyes in abhorrence. They show the demonic child coming out of the woman's private parts. You want to talk about causing someone to never want to undergo natural childbirth. Now add a highly inappropriate incestuous situation between the mother and child. Top it off with a rather graphic rape scene and you get a good idea of the sort of quality you can expect from "12/12/12."

I love horror movies and enjoy the "Satanic Panic" films of the 1970s and 1980s just as much as the next fan does. I understand why the Asylum felt the need to exploit such foul matter. Many genre fans are always looking for someone to push the visual limits of gore and violence. The Asylum wanted to get those people's attention. I just think there are certain places you don't go and many of them were visited in "12/12/12."

Movies like "12/12/12" make me angry. I enjoyed the idea of the movie going into it. It sounded like a fun little flick that would scare up memories of several other classic films I've appreciated. It turned out to be a completely joyless experience I found myself abhorred by. I actually turned it off and then decided to watch the entire thing so I could properly review it and warn potential viewers about it before they see anything they'll never be able to unsee.

Death Valley
Death Valley(1982)

"Death Valley" is the film that introduced the world to little Peter "Ralphie" Billingsley of "A Christmas Story" fame.

"Death Valley" centers on a young boy named Billy who accidentally stumbles upon a murder scene while taking a road trip with his mother and her new boyfriend. He unknowingly picks up the only thing that can tie the killer to the location of the crime - a necklace dropped during the struggle with the victim. Billy's mother and her boyfriend attempt to bring the psychopath to justice before the murderer tracks the child down.

This is one of those forgotten films of the 1980s. It's not bad by any means. It just didn't make enough of an impact on moviegoers to grant it cult classic status. Many would consider it a slasher film and they have every right to. There are graphic scenes of blood and violence, but not enough to place it in a category with "Friday the 13th" or "Halloween."

The cast of "Death Valley" is relatively impressive in hindsight. Many of them hadn't hit their successful strides yet and were still on their journey to stardom. Catherine Hicks ("7th Heaven," "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home") plays Billy's mother. Veteran actor Edward Herrmann ("Gilmore Girls," "The Lost Boys") has a bit role as Billy's father. Wilfred Brimley ("The Firm," "Cocoon") plays the town sheriff.

"Death Valley" will provide genre fans and ordinary movie viewers some thrills and entertainment. It's interesting to see Peter Billingsley perform in this type of atmosphere after spending so many years seeing him as baby-faced Ralphie in the safety of "A Christmas Story." I might have to have a "Three Degrees of 'A Christmas Story'" party this year and screen "Death Valley," "A Christmas Story" and "Black Christmas," which were both directed by Bob Clark.

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2

"Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2" is nothing but so bad it's good. Most of Eric Freeman's acting is done with his eyebrows. This begs the question, "How can someone overact using their eyebrows?" Believe me when I say it can be done.

It's easy to get through "Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2" if you just fast forward through all the scenes from the first film. You're left with about 45 minutes of wonderfully bad dialogue and a few madcap slayings you'll never forget. Just don't mistakenly skip through any of the parts in the room where the psychiatrist and Ricky are talking. There are some funny exchanges between the two of them you won't want to miss.

Silent Night, Deadly Night

The ffilm centers on little Billy, who sees his parents brutally murdered by a man in a Santa Claus costume one fateful Christmas Eve. After spending time in an abusive Catholic Boy's Home, he is given a job at a toy store.

Everything goes fine until images of Saint Nick start popping up in the store. He suddenly begins having mental breakdowns at work. Things only get worse when he's asked by his boss to don a Santa suit and greet children. The sight of himself in the outfit drives him over the edge. Billy decides it's time to start punishing all the naughty folks he comes across.

"Silent Night, Deadly Night" is one of those films that I hate to say is so bad it's good. It genuinely tries to explore what makes people go crazy. You feel sorry for little Billy more and more throughout the film. No matter how it ultimately turned out, you can sense that director Charles E. Sellier, Jr. was trying to have a good time making a shocking movie with some interesting social commentary.


Amy Heckerling's name on a film as director is usually enough to get me to watch it. She has an undeniable talent for presenting life lessons through her work while capturing a snapshot of a certain cultural time period, whether it be the 1980s through "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," the 1990s with "Clueless," or the 2000's with "Loser" and the CW's successful "Gossip Girl." "Vamps" is Heckerling's latest movie and continues the trend.

Goody (Alicia Silverstone) and Stacy (Krysten Ritter) are modern day vampires living life to its fullest. Every night they feed on rats which are easy to come by thanks to the rodent control business they work for. They're part of a new movement of vampires who don't drink the blood of humans. After work, they hit the clubs and hot spots of New York City before heading home at dawn for a good day's sleep in their coffins.

The girl's soon begin to realize that being young forever isn't all it's cracked up to be. Goody has trouble adjusting to the modern technologies and trends of the 21st century. Stacy finds herself falling in love with the son (Dan Stevens) of the descendant of Van Helsing and longing to be human again. Unfortunately, the only way for the two to get their wishes of ending their immortality and getting on with their real human lives is by killing their maker, Cisserus (Sigourney Weaver).

Heckerling does a superb job exploring the mid-20s age range and our difficulty facing the fears we have or had of growing up and getting older. Being a woman in her late 50s, she has a lot of experience dealing with the subject matter. It just so happens this time around she uses vampires as her vehicle to deliver the messages. What viewers get is an entertaining and humorous film that leaves you with something to think about in the end.

The cast is a very impressive combination of talents. Many of them have appeared in Heckerling's films in the past, giving this a sort of "connection" to her other works. Besides Silverstone, we get Wallace Shawn ("Clueless"), Meredith Scott Lynn ("Night at the Roxbury"), and a cameo by Brian Backer (Mark "Rat" Ratner in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"). Add to that the star power of Sigourney Weaver, Malcolm McDowell, Richard Lewis, and Marilu Henner and you have a winning combination.

Amy Heckerling's trademark off-beat charm, sincerity, and wit emanates from the film. Fans of light vampire fare will probably find more enjoyment in this than ones who enjoy the harder edged gore flicks like "30 Days of Night" and "Fright Night." I'm a huge horror fan and still found it enjoyable.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

It's hard for any of the 1990's Muppet movies to escape the shadows of the first three classic entries in the franchise starring the charming creatures. "The Muppet Movie," "The Great Muppet Caper," and "The Muppets Take Manhattan" are looked at by many to be Jim Henson's sacred trilogy of films starring the beloved characters.

The title is a good indication of what viewers can expect from "The Muppet Christmas Carol." Michael Caine is old miser Scrooge, who plays straight to a cast of everyone's favorite critters including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and the rest of the gang. He's visited by three angels on Christmas Eve who teach him the importance of the holiday and showing good will toward men.

"The Muppet Christmas Carol" isn't a bad movie. It's just another unnecessary re-telling of a classic Christmas tale. The concept of adapting Charles Dickens' short story and adding wacky characters or updating it was already played out even in 1992. I'm sure children will find it amusing, but their parents will be catching a quick nap amongst the tiny laughter.

Michael Caine is absolutely perfect in the role of Scrooge. He pours his heart and soul into it. The fact that he is surrounded by Jim Henson's hand puppets doesn't affect his performance at all. As far as Caine's concerned, he's starring in a version of the famous tale surrounded by other Oscar-winning actors.

The film provides good clean family entertainment for everyone. I'm sure it'll be and is considered essential viewing for many during the holiday season. Just don't expect the magic and wit you get when watching 2011's "The Muppets."

Red Dawn
Red Dawn(2012)

Remaking beloved classic films is a dangerous job for directors and studios. Many times they find themselves treading on what is considered hallowed ground. The latest trend in revisiting old material is to take a concept from an old movie and loosely use it as the framework for something new yet familiar. A good example of this approach working is "Fright Night." We can now add "Red Dawn" to the list of successful updates.

Everyone knows the basic premise of "Red Dawn." The United States is invaded by a foreign country and certain regions are annexed. Some citizens go on living their lives in oppression while others are sent to re-education camps. A group of high schoolers escape and wage war on the military forces occupying their territory. They must find a way to free the enslaved people and retake their hometown.

Who is the enemy in the remake of "Red Dawn?" That's the main question being asked by people. The Soviet Union teamed up with Cuba and Nicaragua in the original movie. The revamp has North Korea invading the U.S. with some weapon support from Russia.

I know what everyone is thinking. "How realistic is it that any foreign country could attack and take over part of the United States?" It's highly unlikely, but with our military so ingrained in the use of electronics for their weaponry and vehicles, it could potentially happen. The way the countries in "Red Dawn" hit us is by using electromagnetic pulses to black out our computers and communication centers, thus leaving us blind and unable to use any sort of electronic equipment.

Upon revisiting the original film, the first thing I noticed was the contrast in the amount of graphic violence between the two versions. The 1984 movie was more intense and heavy than the 2012 adaptation. It's obvious the 2012 "Red Dawn" is made for a contemporary teen audience. Whether it was director Dan Bradley's intent to make the film for that demographic when he shot it in 2009 doesn't really matter. With the recent success of "The Hunger Games" and other young adult movies, Distributors FilmDistrict and Open Road Films fashioned it to appeal to that audience.

Much like the original 1984 movie, the new "Red Dawn" features a cast of popular young actors of the day. Chris Hemsworth ("Thor") takes over as Jed Eckert in the role Patrick Swayze had. Josh Peck ("Drake and Josh," "The Wackness") inherits Charlie Sheen's part as Matt Eckert. Josh Hutcherson ("The Hunger Games") is a tamer version of Robert, who C. Thomas Howell played in the first version. Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey, the girls of the group, are replaced by Isabel Lucas ("Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen") and Adrianne Palicki ("Supernatural").

What we get with this remake of "Red Dawn" is a tamer film that still addresses all the issues the first one did. However, it's done in a softer, gentler way. The important thing is that it will hopefully make teenagers and even adults reflect on how reliant we've become on technology. Most importantly, it should leave the audience realizing how completely unprepared we are to "live off the land" if any sort of disaster ever occurred that took away all our modern conveniences.

They Live
They Live(1988)

John Carpenter has an interesting track record of films. Many are considered cult classics like "Halloween," "The Thing," and "Escape from New York." Others are held in high esteem by some and shunned by others. I'm referring to "The Fog," "Prince of Darkness," and "Vampires." A select few are seen as outright disasters. One prime example everyone would agree on would be "Ghosts of Mars." A film that seems to fall just a little shy of being considered a shining example of his work is "They Live."

Two drifters try to make ends meet while working construction and living in a shanty town. One of the men, Nada (Roddy Piper), begins to notice suspicious activities occurring in the church across the street. He investigates and finds a small group of people who discovered aliens have taken over the world and dominate us subliminally through hidden messages delivered via television, billboards, newspapers, and magazines. The only way someone can see who is or isn't an alien is by putting on sunglasses that act as x-rays and expose the otherworldly intruders. Nada must find a way to convince his friends and fight back against the evil beings.

It's obvious that writer Frank Armitage is using aliens as a representation of corporations, the government, and the controlling upper class in "They Live." He clearly has issues with anyone trying to oppress the "little" guy or the less fortunate. His story works beautifully as a sort of parable exposing this idea.

Where the movie breaks down is in its pacing. The set-up, beginning, and end of the film move along quite nicely. Things start to drag a bit in some middle spots, but it doesn't completely ruin the viewing experience. It redeems itself every time the sunglasses are put on and we get a glimpse "behind the curtain."

The age of "They Live" is clearly seen in its visual effects. The alien faces look like rubber masks but still look good for a low-budget sci-fi / horror film in 1988. This doesn't make it unwatchable. If anything, it adds a feeling of nostalgia and appreciation for this genre masterwork.

Although I wouldn't put "They Live" on the same level as "The Fog" or "Halloween," it still deserves a mid-range spot in John Carpenter's repertoire.

Night of Dark Shadows

"House of Dark Shadows" is an abridged version of the Barnabas Collins storyline of the popular television show. However, creator / director Dan Curtis was forced to explore different plot avenues with "Night of Dark Shadows."

"Night of Dark Shadows" focuses on the arrival of artist Quentin Collins (David Selby) and his wife, Tracy (Kate Jackson), to his newly inherited home, Collinwood. He's greeted by the mysterious housekeeper, Carlotta Drake (Grayson Hall), and the caretaker, Gerard Stiles (Jim Storm). Quentin begins having visions of a past existence in which he's having an affair with his brother's wife, Angelique (Lara Parker).

As he digs deeper into the family history, he discovers Angelique was hung on the property for accusations of being a witch. Are his trances truly memories of a former life? Can he keep the evil spirit of Angelique from destroying his family and friends and driving him insane?

Where "House of Dark Shadows" is quickly paced, this indirect sequel plods along nicely and establishes a storyline and a sense of fear and creepiness. The problem is what it builds up to. The conclusion of the film is rather abrupt and unsatisfying. There's also a similarity to director Curtis's ending of his 1976 film "Burnt Offerings," which I find interesting in hindsight.

It's obvious when viewing the movie that it suffered some final cuts in the editing room. Long-time enthusiasts of the show know the history behind the making of the film and the existence of lost footage. Director Curtis was given 24 hours to re-cut the movie from 129 minutes to 94 minutes by MGM.

Fans of the film petitioned to have the chopped sequences restored and a director's cut released. The footage was found in 1999, but it was without sound. The scenes are said to give "Night of Dark Shadows" a darker mood and reinstate the original cohesion and framework of the film. The movie might have some problems, but it's still an entertaining watch.


As I begin this review, I should confess I'm not a big Pixar fan. Although I do recognize the charm the films hold, I don't find them as entertaining as most people do. Much of that has to do with the animation style. The environments look great, but I find the human beings to resemble lifeless marionettes many times. The atmospheres of the movies are too "cute" for me as well. I'm not big on "cute" when it comes to animated movies.

All that being said, Disney and Pixar's "Brave" is as good as their films come. It has all the right elements of a classic fairy tale with a few twists thrown in to keep things modernized. There's a princess, a witch, and some kooky animals in a faraway land.

The only thing missing is a prince to save the day. Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) makes it very clear to her parents that she doesn't need a prince to fulfill her life's ambitions or save her. She wants to live life on her own terms free of the trappings and responsibilities of being royalty.

Merida stumbles upon a witch (Julie Walters) that gives her a spell to change the Queen's (Emma Thompson) mind about marrying one of three suitors from other clans. The spell does more than change her mother's mind; it physically transforms her into the most feared creature in the kingdom - a gargantuan bear. Merida frantically looks for a way to change the Queen back before her father (Billy Connolly) and fellow huntsmen track her down. They mistakenly believe her to be the bear that took the King's leg.

In usual fashion, there are lessons for everyone to learn in "Brave." One is children should be careful what they wish for and value their parents. The other is that parents should give children the freedom to choose their own paths in life. It wouldn't be a Disney or Pixar movie without some sort of words of wisdom.

"Brave" is successful as a whole. I'm glad I gave it a chance after skipping it in theaters. The initial marketing campaign for the movie offered no real motivation for me to see it in theaters. I did get a bit frustrated during the climax with some of Merida's illogical decisions. The different settings in the film really do carry you away to a fantasy world and help put you into the middle of the story and action.

Blade Runner
Blade Runner(1982)

Watching "Blade Runner" is an emotional investment no matter how many times you see it. I don't know if it's the lighting, the music, the dialogue, or a combination of all of the above. How a science fiction film from 1982 can still have that effect on me after seeing it dozens of times is beyond my comprehension. I always come away from the film with my insides all mixed together with sadness, excitement, and that warm feeling of happy nostalgia you get when you experience something you never thought you could again.

No matter what version of the movie you watch, they all tell the same story. In the year 2019, a group of organic robots called replicants kill a ship full of people while escaping an interstellar trip and head to Earth. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is hired to hunt the fugitives down and destroy them. Deckard is what is referred to as a "blade runner" - a special police officer that "retires" replicants when they wander back to Earth where they've been banned.

I've seen "Blade Runner" in many different environments and formats. I've seen it on VHS on a 25-inch television. I had the opportunity to see it on the big-screen a couple of times at revival screenings. I've watched it on a 50-inch flat screen in a regular DVD format. I can wholeheartedly tell you that if you haven't seen this amazing piece of cinema history on Blu-ray in its restored "Final Cut" version then you've never properly viewed it.

Each version of the film has something different to add to its viewing experience. There are different endings, additional footage, and even a monologue by Harrison Ford that tells you everything you need to know (and many fans would say some things you shouldn't) to help explain what's happening throughout. I suggest watching every version of the film to truly appreciate and take it all in.

Douglas Trumball's special visual effects are a step beyond stunning. The use of models and practical effects gives "Blade Runner" a realistic look that filmmakers today using CGI only wish they could achieve. Everything from the architecture of the buildings to the designs of the vehicles still influences designers to this day.

The Great Mouse Detective

"The Great Mouse Detective" is based on Eve Titus's "Basil of Baker Street" book series. The movie paved the way for the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s. A great mix of adventure and humor makes this an entertaining homage to the world's greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Master of Disguise and detective Basil of Baker Street lives under the home of his sleuthing hero, Sherlock Holmes. The sinister Professor Ratigan kidnaps the greatest toymaker in London to create a mechanical version of the Queen of Mice in a scheme to take over the country. Basil and his new sidekick Dawson embark on a rescue mission and must also find a way to stop Ratigan's evil plan.

I recommend this for those who enjoy other hand-drawn films from the Mouse House and Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Do we really need a synopsis for this movie? A group of aliens leave behind a member of their landing party. The short creature finds his way to the suburbs of California, where a little boy takes him in and names him "E.T." The alien soon becomes sick and must contact his home planet to be rescued before he dies.

A heartwarming science fiction film that explores the wonder, awkwardness, and fears of adolescence. Steven Spielberg once again successfully returns the audience to their childhood for a nostalgic visit.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

There's no denying the power in the performances of both Joan Crawford and Bette Davis as they spar off each other throughout this brilliant thriller. My only complaint is that the 133-minute running time could have been cut down by trimming some of the fat off the edges.

Two sisters live together in a large house in the heart of Hollywood. Ex-child star "Baby" Jane Hudson is forced by circumstance and guilt to take care of her crippled ex-movie star sister, Blanche. "Baby" Jane begins to descend into madness as she reflects on her loss of celebrity. She takes her frustrations out on Blanche in many maniacal and cruel ways. The handicapped sibling must find a way to escape the clutches of "Baby" Jane before it's too late.

The black and white picture gives it a moody atmosphere it wouldn't have achieved in color. The shadows and camera angles are key to the tone each particular scene is trying to evoke.

The movie stretches itself a little thin at times and could have been a bit shorter. A great ending, elegant cinematography and disturbing performances by the lead actors more than make up for that shortcoming.


What looks to be a promising concept for a horror movie once again collapses under the weight of its running time. "247Ã,°F" would be a great short film, but as a full length feature becomes tedious and redundant. It feels like the writers were setting you up for something shocking or a big reveal at the end but fail to deliver on their assumed promise. It's the perfect case of not wanting what you think is going to happen actually not happen, but leaving disappointed because nothing better transpired.

Four friends head up to a lakeside cabin for a weekend of fun and fireworks. Their good times go south when three of them are accidentally locked in a sweltering sauna. They must find a way to escape before the temperature reaches the lethal 247Ã,°F limit the human body can withstand before shutting down.

Here's another perfect example of a movie being too clean and clear. It was obviously shot on an HD camera and it shows. The clarity of the picture does nothing to hide the fact that what should be an old cabin looks to have been just assembled by a set crew. The cinematography doesn't completely detract from the movie but it fails to keep the viewer immersed in what they're watching either.

"247Ã,°F" will no doubt pull in a horror / slasher audience just because of its two main actors from Rob Zombie's "Halloween" and "Halloween II." Scout Taylor-Compton (Laurie Strode) plays one of the trapped friends and Tyler Mane (Michael Myers himself) plays the suspicious owner of the cabin. Unfortunately, the two of them can't save this slow-burning and monotonous thriller from descending into obscurity.

Secret of the Wings

Disney continues its "Fairies" franchise with the latest entry in the series, "Secret of the Wings." This marks the fourth movie and there doesn't look to be an end in sight with next year's addition already scheduled. Timing couldn't be better to release the newest sequel since it takes place in the land of Winter and would make the perfect gift for Christmas for any little girl.

A curious Tinker Bell ignores the rules of warm fairies and ventures into the forbidden world of winter. Her dangerous excursion leads her to uncover a mysterious secret and almost break a wing . A bizarre glow overcomes her wings during the quick visit, which drives Tinker Bell to return and delve deeper into the winter woods in search of the Keeper of all fairy knowledge.

"Secret of the Wings" looks fabulous. Its CG animation is clean and picture perfect. A greater amount of visual depth can be felt when watching the 3D version of the film. However, the 2D version is stunning as well. The color schemes are beautiful no matter if the screen is filled with striking whites or darker tones.


Jennifer Lynch's "Chained" is one of those films I walked away from completely disturbed but also captivated by. I find it hard to even call it a horror film because it doesn't fit in to the definition of the genre. A horror film to me is one that you walk away from with a sense of fun from being scared. There's nothing fun about "Chained." All I kept thinking the entire time I watched it is, "This really could and does happen." It's a gripping psychological thriller that throws in a few twists here and there to keep the viewer on their toes. Basically, it's exactly what you would expect from the daughter of director David Lynch.

Bob (Vincent D'Onofrio) is a cab driving serial killer who picks his victims up and takes them to his rural house. One afternoon, Bob picks up a little boy named Tim (Evan Bird) and his mother (Julia Ormond) from the movies. He takes the boy and his mother to his home. After killing Tim's mother, he chains the boy up and tells him he'll be his servant for the rest of his life and his name is now Rabbit. As Rabbit (Eamon Farren) grows into a teenager, he realizes the only way Bob will allow him to survive is by following in the killer's footsteps. He must find a way to escape from the psycho before it's too late.

If you're looking for a fun horror movie for Halloween, steer clear of "Chained." There's nothing enjoyable about it. That's not to say it isn't a great piece of cinema. I've never seen Vincent D'Onofrio play someone so disturbing. I don't know whether I should applaud him for his performance or be scared he was so good at playing the part. It's a serious film you'll cringe at in several parts because of the horrific things unfolding in front of you.

Little Shop of Horrors

Iâ(TM)ve never been a fan of musicals. Although I enjoyed âAnnie,â? âThe Wizard of Ozâ? and other movies of that nature, I always found myself fast-forwarding through the musical numbers to get to the real meat and potatoes of the plot. Thatâ(TM)s how I felt for the most part watching âLittle Shop of Horrorsâ? on Blu-ray for the first time. I did find a few of the songs humorous, but for the most part I found the musical numbers to be a distraction and break from the actual storyline. Thatâ(TM)s a funny thing to say about a beloved movie based on a hit play but thatâ(TM)s how I feel.

Seymour works and lives in a plant shop where he eeks out a sad and lonely existence. His work mate is the lovely physically and emotionally abused Audrey. He pines for her day in and day out but never tells her about his true feelings. While shopping one day, Seymour sees an interesting plant heâ(TM)s never encountered before. He buys it and takes it home, only to find out itâ(TM)s a blood-thirsty man-eater. The more it drinks and eats, the bigger it gets. Will Seymour give into its demands to be fed or will he destroy the plant before it gets out of control?

I found both the theatrical and Director's Cut to be entertaining. However, the Director's Cut could have five minutes trimmed down from it and still be effective.


When people talk about Disney Princesses, Cinderella is the first one that comes to mind. Although it's obviously targeted to a female audience, there's enough humor found in the antics of the mice, the cat Lucifer, the Prince's father, and his assistant to keep male audiences at least mildly entertained for the movie's 75-minute runtime. This is an exceptional fairy tale film, although a true element of evil like a witch or a sorceress who can turn herself into a dragon is sorely missed. Evil stepmothers just don't hold the same peril for me as something supernatural.

After her father dies, Cinderella is left to the mercy of her stepmother. The wicked lady puts her stepdaughter to work as a servant. She cooks and cleans after the vile stepmother and her two daughters with a constant fear of being cast out of her own home. The Prince of Cinderella's homeland puts on a ball to find a wife. He demands the attendance of all the maids in the kingdom and the poor girl sees an opportunity for a temporary escape from her miserable day-to-day routine. Unfortunately, the depraved stepmother and her daughters have plans to keep Cinderella from attending the ball and meeting the Prince.

The Funhouse
The Funhouse(1981)

Tobe Hooper's "The Funhouse" failed to make the impact his earlier "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" did on horror audiences, but still delivered a few solid shocks for viewers in 1981. Much like that movie, It consists of twisted characters and fun-loving youngsters being brutalized by them. However, this time around carnival workers get a bad rap versus backwoods rednecks like in Hooper's 1974 spine-chiller. Seeing "The Funhouse" now doesn't quite deliver the same jarring surprises it did thirty years ago. The horror genre has seen it all since then.

Amy goes against her father's orders and accompanies high school rebel Buzz and her two friends to a traveling carnival. Two kids were murdered the last time it was in town. On a dare, the four teens decide to stay overnight in the carnival's funhouse. They soon find themselves trying to stay alive as they are chased through the locked up ride by a psychotic mutated killer.

While "The Funhouse" might not be as shocking as it was thirty years ago, it still provides some nice scares and creepy deviants that will make your skin crawl. Shout! Factory once again delivers a solid high definition edition of this cult classic for its fans to enjoy. A great picture and plenty of fun extra features outweigh the lack of any stereo audio im