Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dagon (2001)

Stuart Gordon's 2001 film Dagon is sort of a culmination for the man';s career.  As far back as 1985, he wanted to do an adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft story The Shadow Over Innsmouth, a spooky little tale about a man who finds himself stranded in a town full of horrible fish mutations.

In the film, the young man is Paul Marsh (Ezra Godden), a young internet millionaire who is on a boat trip with his girlfriend Barbara and two other friends.  Paul is a bit of a wet blanket and he has been plagued by dreams of a strange underwater structure and an beautiful mermaid, no bonus points for guessing that both play a part in later events.

Paul and Barbara end up in a small Spanish village called Imboca where the weather is bad, the hotel makes New York in the seventies look like paradise and the locals are less than friendly.  Sprinkle of lemon and some tartar sauce though...

Ahem, sorry.

Dagon is a nicely creepy, though not really scary little horror flick that has pretty much everything a good horror movie needs.  Atmosphere out the wazoo, likable heroes (though Paul is a bit much to take at first), some nice gore effects, icky creatures and smattering of nudity.

For the most part, the film is fairly loyal to the text in that the hero is basically chased for most of the thing by horrid fish monsters, there is a dark secret revealed at the end and of course, like all Lovecraft stories, a happy ending is just as fanciful as some of his ideas.

Overall, it is a very strong movie.  Ezra Godden makes for a sympathetic lead (he also sort of looks like Jeffrey Combs which probably is not an accident) and the f/x work is good for the most part, save for a few obvious bits of CGI.  It's not the best Lovecraft adaptation (I sort of like From Beyond a little more and Re-Animator is just a classic) but it is still a damn fine piece of cinematic horror.

Die Another Day (2002)

This is a re-working of a piece I wrote for The Agony Booth last year.

Last year marked the tenth anniversary of two spy thrillers, both of which are incredibly silly, way too over the top for their own good, and pathologically obsessed with what’s been done before.

The first is the Vin Diesel flick xXx. Made in a blatant attempt to show up the Bond films, it featured Vinnie as Xander Cage, an extreme sports enthusiast with his own web show who gets roped into the secret agent game by Samuel L. Jackson. The film was fairly pathetic in how it conducted itself, opening with a secret agent clearly intended to be Bond getting killed after trying to blend in at a punk nightclub while dressed in a full tuxedo.

The rest of the movie was pretty much the same crap we’ve seen before in every other action movie from the early '00s, only with an unlikable jerk-ass of a hero, and a lame "we're cool and everyone else sucks!" attitude that’s truly off-putting. It’s funny; the other big spy franchises like Mission Impossible and the Bourne films have never felt the need to take down what came before.

Making the movie look even worse is how much better our feature today is. Die Another Day is exactly what I described above: silly, over the top, and obsessed with the past. The main difference is in this case, it works to the film’s benefit... More or less. To be fair, you can argue that it does some of the same things wrong that xXx does, and I readily admit that the fact this out-grossed xXx is more a reflection on how bad the Vin Diesel movie is than how good this one is.

Die Another Day is pretty much the Moonraker of its time, which is both good and bad, as we will see.

The film came out in time for the 40th anniversary of the series, so the film is chock full of references to the previous 19 movies that came before it. For the most part, they’re incorporated into the movie pretty well, but as with all things, perfection is unattainable.

We get tons of action, lots of good looking women, plenty of explosions, your prerequisite cheesy humor (actually, the entire film is quite cheesy), and most importantly, the great unanswered philosophical question of our era: If an invisible car is involved in a crash, will the insurance company cover it?

Let’s take a closer look.
  •  First off, as I noted, this film is cheesy.  Really cheesy in parts, as can be seen with the CGI bullet rocketing towards us in the gunbarrel sequence.  This is a small taste though as most of the cheese comes in the second half.  I've come to the conclusion that this film is really a culmination of everything that the nineteen previous movies had been going for.  The film is a mix of the mildly serious but still fun tone you got in the first six films, the two Timothy Dalton entries and a few of Roger Moore's outings, the deliriously cheesy stuff the rest of  Moore's output provided and all mixed in with the "everything but the kitchen sink" approach Pierce Brosnan's films seemed to go for.  It works, more or less.
  • I love the opening scene with the surfers coming out of the waves.  It's just bombastically over the top (thanks in no small part to David Arnold's score) and, like the rest of the pre-title sequence, does a fair job of getting you in the mood for a really good Bond movie.
  • I get a chuckle out of Bond casually taking the sunglasses of the diamond smuggler he's impersonating.  Pierce was always good at the little Bondian touches like this.
  • Equally amusing is the first scene for Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee) who will be our villain for the day*.  Not often you get a villain intro that has the man beating the hell out of his anger management therapist who he has stuffed into a punching bag.  At least not since Cannon Pictures went out of business.
*Sure the guy takes a header off a waterfall about twelve minutes in but for anyone who has seen the film,  you know where I'm coming from with this.
  • While the opening action sequence is fun, director Lee Tamahori and his crew do make a few missteps,  First off, the sequence is shot with desaturated tones to give the sense that this is happening before the main action of the film.  This would be fine if not for the fact that right after the main titles, the first thing we see more or less is a big title caption telling us fourteen months have passed.  The sound mix is also off as the music is nearly drowned out entirely by the sound effects.  Call me crazy, but when the James Bond Theme kicks in as Bond is starting to win, I like to hear the damn thing!  Still, the hovercrafts were pretty neat.
  • I also like the notion of Bond being held captive for over a year which might be the biggest suspension of disbelief the viewer has been asked to make in the entire series.  And that includes Denise Richards as an atomic scientist.
  • Rick Yune is pretty good as Zao, our primary henchman though to be honest, aside from the diamonds that end up stuck in his face, he's a little dull.
  • The Madonna song for the movie is not entirely terrible.  In fact, compared to having hot wax poured on one's groin it's rather good.
  • Sort of fun to have Bond go for about eight minutes sorting the Robinson Crusoe look.  Might have been amusing to have him go through the whole film looking like that.
  • Okay, I'm probably the only one who would laugh but still!
  • Kenneth Tsang is pretty good as Moon's father (yet another in the long line of Generals in Bond films).  The role is surprisingly deep for such a relatively small part (there are father and son issues between the two Moons) and in a better movie this subplot would be actually sort of touching.
  • I enjoy General Moon getting irritated when Boind smarts off to him.  I can sort of relate to that in a way.  Fourteen straight months of Pierce Brosnan being a smartass would get on my nerves as well.
  • The Bond/Zao transfer scene is one I like to think of as "shallow suspense" as it would take a dangerously stupid fool to believe that the film would kill off 007 twenty minutes in.  Not helping matters is the really bad exchange between Bond and Zao.  The thing reads like it was written by the most unimaginative eight year old on the planet.
  • Actually, the dialogue is a problem throughout the movie as most of it is tired, lame puns and sort of bland exposition.  
  • No idea why they wasted money on Michael Madsen if they weren't going to do anything with him.  It would be fine if he turned out to be the guy who set Bond up (more on that later) but no, he just has a few scenes where he has that constipated look on his face Madsen uses to express disdain.
  • Evidently, Bond's liver is in such bad shape that it serves as a reliable means of identification.  Sort of logical when you stop and think about it.
  • Bond gets sent to Havana and it is here we meet Jinx (Halle Berry), our Bond Girl.  Jinx is not the best of the Bond Girls, really.  She's supposed to be another equal to 007 but considering she gets captured more than Bond does, I'd have to say she's not quite there.  If nothing else, she makes one wonder how good NSA training really is.
  • Berry is okay in her first scene though, which has a nice reference to Dr. No and Ursula Andress' entrance.  There is a bit of unintentional comedy though as Berry sashays towards Bond in such an over the top manner it's a wonder the poor woman didn't blow both her hips out.
  • The gene therapy clinic is probably the most ridiculous element of the film.  We find out that Moon has undergone extensive D NA replacement therapy to get a new face.  A fact we learn after Bond interrupts Zao in the middle of his treatment which ends up making him look suitably creepy.  Doesn't make him interesting but hell!
  • The action at the clinic isn't too bad, though the highlight for me Berry running out after Zao as he escapes.  She just stalks out in sort of a T-1000 way that makes me smile.  It's like Halle Berry prepped for her role as an action hero by just watching old action movies.  Granted, I feel that's a perfectly valid acting technique but the woman has a goddamn Oscar!
  • I like the use of "London Calling" by The Clash as Bond re-enters the UK.  It also segues nicely to Toby Stephens as Gustav Graves.  The reveal that he is really Moon is rather obvious seeing as A: it makes sense and B: Moon's theme plays as Graves parachutes down to be interviewed by a flock of Great Britain's finest journalists.  I get the feeling these were legit tabloid writers.  There's just a certain sleaziness that even the best actor would be hard pressed to duplicate.
  • Plus, the man looks dour while parachuting, how can he not be evil!  Not helping matters either is the reveal that he is set to be knighted...after apparently being a big shot for at least a year (no idea how long the therapy takes but it can't be a quick thing).
  • We also meet Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike), Graves' assistant (also an MI6 agent and the one who set Bond up)  who is, appropriately enough, a bit of an ice queen.  Her reveal as a villain doesn't really work either as there is nothing in her demeanor that indicates she and Bond will be knocking boots as the end credits roll.  Actually, given how over the top the film is, it might have been funny to have Bond get both girls at the end but I digress.
  • The best part of the film comes with Bond and Graves meeting and having a confrontation which leads to a very nice sword fight.  It's well shot, acceptably acted and there is no bad CGI or needless slow motion to louse things up.  Oh, if only it would last.
  • Interestingly enough, the first half of the film is a pretty decent, if quite loose adaptation of the novel Moonraker.  In both, Bond investigates a popular public figure who turns out to be a psycho with an unpleasant background.  The latter half of the film will prove to be more in line with the film version of Moonraker, though not as charmingly daft.
  • John Cleese is okay as the new Q, though I'd be hard-pressed to call him truly fun here.
  • The big knock on the film is the invisible car but to be honest, I sort of dig it for how silly it is.  Hell, like I said, the second half of the film is essentially a less charming version of Moonraker.  I'm sure if that film could have found a way to pout Roger Moore in an invisible car being chased by bad guys, they damn well would have!
  • The intro to Graves' ice palace in Iceland is pretty cool with a great rendition of the James Bond Theme.  Sadly, the nice scenic shots are shot to hell by some sped up footage courtesy of editor Christian Wagner.  I truly hate the choppy editing that comes up in films from this period and here it is just obnoxious.
  • The second half of the film comes off as very flat and predictable.  You can almost set your watch to the story beats.  Bad puns, Graves more or less flat-out telling Bond he;s up to something, the inevitable reveals of the bad guys, the captures and escapes, it's just sort of rote.  Hell, it's not like the first half is really innovative but when stacked up against the second half it's downright unique!
  • For all the script issues the film has, I do get a kick out of the exchange between Frost and Jinx.  Pike does haughty and upper class quite well.
  • It's corny, it's cheesy but damn it all, I love that in 2002 a James Bond villain has an orbiting death ray (ostensibly meant to provide artificial sunlight which doesn't really seem like a practical idea) not to mention later on, a rather silly looking battle suit with a bargain basement Nintendo Power Glove to operate said death ray.
  • Zao and Mr. Kil (oh yes, the film does go for the obvious pun when he meets Bond) menacing Jinx with a diamond cutting laser leads to a rather good fight with Bond and Kil.
  • Graves expositing to Bond is okay, though I really only get a kick out of how delighted he is that Bond guessed his true identity.  I am too, if the greatest secret agent can't put together an easy mystery like that, it's a real bad sign.
  •  After the non-surprise reveals, Bond has a rather nice escape scene by way of Graves' rocket sled.  He has to avoid the death ray and apart from the really bad CGI, it's a decent sequence.  If you can't make Bond escaping a huge wave caused by a death ray slicing into a glacier look great, do something else.
  • The showdown between Bond and Zao is good though, a nice bit of car action and a messy end for Zao.
  • The stuff on the plane is somewhat flaccid as Bond and Jinx hop onboard Graves' huge plane and have to stop him from precipitating WWIII.  There are some good bits: Graves/Moon killing his father, the nearly see-through sports bra Frost wears while fighting Jinx, the goofy great Graves has on for the last fight and his death scene, but it just doesn't click as well as it should.
  • The film ends with the usual stuff and after four films, Pierce Brosnan's tenure as Bond comes to an end.  He was actually quite good, sort of a blend of everything the other actors brought to the role.
Die Another Day is a flawed, watchable piece of silliness that fails more than it works but not enough to warrant a bad review from me.  Tamahori was the wrong choice for director, the casting doesn't quite gel and the editing is bad but there is still a strong element of fun to the film that makes me enjoy it.  Of course, it could just be the bikini Berry is wearing in her first scene and the sports bra Pike has on in her last but still!  On the flip side, while I like the film, I am more than happy with the reboot that started with 2006's Casino Royale.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

1982 was truly a banner year for the sword and sorcery genre.  We got the big budget Conan film, the low budget Beastmaster (coming soon, trust me) and this little gem which also happens to be the directorial debut of Albert Pyun.,  Pyun doesn't have the best rep when it comes to filmmaking but I find his early stuff to be generally entertaining for the most part.

The story is pretty basic, Lee Horsley is a Talon, young prince out to avenge his father's death at the hands of the evil Cromwell (B-movie staple Richard Lynch) and the wizard who aided him, Xusia (Richard Moll, another favorite of mine though due to issues with the makeup he only acted in the first scene and dubbed the voice for the other scenes he is in).  He is also looking to help a young rebel claim the throne which is a nice touch.

Talon has a hilariously cool and totally impractical triple-bladed sword that is one of those great examples of something cool for the poster and marketing of the movie that really plays a small role in the film for the most part.  It's pretty fun to see though as two of the blades can be fired at an enemy, which just leaves Talon with a regular sword but still!

Performances are about what you would expect with Lynch doing his usual great sneering low key villain routine and Moll is fun in his first scene and as always, he has a great intimidating voice.  Everyone else just does what is required and to be honest, in a movie like this that's really all you need.

Action is pretty decent, the story makes some nice choices in terms of complexity, the f/x work is pretty damn great considering the budget and the pace, unusually for an Albert Pyun film, is quite good.  The Sword and the Sorcerer is a fun pizza and beer fantasy film that goes down easy and in general is a fun way to kill 100 minutes.

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Favorite Era: The Shining (1980)

The Shining is one of the few horror movies I can genuinely say not only scared the crap out of me when I first saw it, but continues to creep me out today.  Even more impressive is that most of the times I've seen this have been during the daytime, and it still has an effect on me.  Hell, one time I had it on in the background while doing something else and I felt a chill race up my spine!  Now that's the sign of a scary movie right there, folks!

The story is pretty well known by this point struggling alcoholic writer takes a winter job as caretaker at a huge hotel with a dark past, brings his wife and kid along and gradually goes section 8 (or in the case of this movie, not so gradually).  It's one of Stephen King's best novels and this film is one of the best adaptations.  Granted, when most of the others stink like a wet dog that's not saying a whole lot but my point still stands.  It does have some issues, though.

Let's take a closer look.
  • First off, for the sake of full disclosure I should note that I am not the greatest Kubrick fan out there.  I respect his talent, he certainly was dedicated to achieving his vision, but really the only two films of his I genuinely love are Dr. Strangelove and this one.
  • Love the series of shots that open the movie.  They set a nice, eerie tone for the first part of the film.
  • The opening interview between Jack Torrance and Ullman (Barry Nelson) is exactly what you would expect, a well acted bit of exposition that sets up the plot.  Really, the only issue is that Nicholson, through no fault of his own really, looks positively demented...naturally!  I love the guy to death but when he smiles you get the feeling he just got back from an orgy and is eager to tell you every single detail.  In effect, he is both the best thing about the movie and the worst as while his performance is hypnotic to watch, it also sort of takes the whole point of the novel and sets it off to the side so we can just enjoy watching Jack Nicholson go cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
  • Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd are pretty good as Wendy and Danny, Jack's wife and kid.  Duvall is not quite my idea of a terrific casting choice (she comes off as a bit too much of a spineless jellyfish for most of the film which doesn't really work) but she does do gibbering hysteria well once things begin to go downhill.  As for Danny Lloyd, he's actually one of the better child actor's I've seen.  Kubrick did a good job of getting what he needed out of the kid and apart from a rather dopey finger puppet deal to represent Danny's inner voice or something, the character works just fine.
  • Scatman Crothers is enjoyable as Dick Halloran, though his death scene at the end is rather silly.  How the hell does a psychic get taken by surprise by a dude wielding an axe?  I think this is why King had the guy survive at the end of the book.
  • The design of the Overlook Hotel is just awesomely creepy.  Huge hallways, even the carpet is creepy.  I actually went to a medical plaza one or two times that had an elevator and carpet combo that reminded me of this movie.
  • The hedge maze is nicely creepy and it works for the film but the hedge animals that come to life on the book are also pretty damn scary.  Kubrick wanted a more psychological story, hence the maze I guess and to that end it works quite well.  The later shot of Jack overlooking his wife and kid in the maze is a little cheesy though.
  • The low angle tracking shots of Danny riding through the hotel are just utterly creepy.  The use of sound is fantastic too with the wheels of the Big Wheel being the only sound heard as they go over the hardwood floors and carpets adding tremendously to the sense of unease.  It's actually sort of a relief when the two ghost girls show up during one of his rides.  Not so much when we see flash cuts of them them axed to death but still!
  • One little beef I have is with the music during this scene, it's a little overbearing.  The scene would work just fine without it, or with something a little creepier.  Then again, expecting the subtle approach in an 80's horror movie isn't exactly rational.
  • Jack talking with the ghostly bartender is nicely creepy, as is him visiting the haunted room 237.
  • Actually in the case of the room, the decor might be more horrifying than the decaying naked ghoul in the bathtub.  Well, maybe not but it's damn close.  Green and purple carpet and lavender furniture?  I honestly do not miss the 70's.
  • On a serious note, Nicholson does play the fear pretty well in this scene.  I think it's really the only time he does it as every other ghostly encounter has him reacting relatively normally (for him at least).  I get that it's the hotel having an influence on him but it's still a little odd that he's only truly scared once in the film.
  • To be fair, he does get a little uneasy when confronted with the ghost of the former caretaker (who axed his family to death) but it doesn't quite track.  Actually, the majority of the film is creepy rather than outright scary.  Kubrick wanted to make an epic horror film and he did, turning in a 143 minute ghost story but that's a hell of a long time to try and sustain horror.  Even for a talented director like Kubrick.  To his credit, it does work most of the time.
  • The character of Jack Torrance just works a bit better in the book, he's actually rather likable at the start and the horror comes from him slowly unraveling under the influence of the hotel.  In the film, the transition isn't really there.
  • Actually, it can be said that none of the characters really make much an impression except for Jack.  Danny is not really used much, nor is Halloran.  Wendy probably comes off the worst as she is just way too timid and mousy.  I'm not sure what it says when even a great director ends up with a horror movie where the most interesting character is the "bad guy" but it probably isn't anything good.
  • As much as the character of Jack doesn't really work like it should, Nicholson's performance is still fantastic.  He just hams it up like crazy and it's never anything less than watchable.  Naturally, the easy highlight is him chopping through a bathroom door and telling "Here's Johnny!" but I also get a kick out of him locked in the kitchen pantry, taunting Wendy.
  • Wendy running through the hotel as the supernatural stuff begins to go full tilt is a wonderfully messed up sequence of events.  The river of blood in the elevator, the guy with the split head and whatever the hell was going on in that bedroom with the dude in the bear costume.  It's about as close as the film gets to being truly frightening.
  • The ending chase through the hedge maze is a nice bit of business, as is the image of a frozen Jack.  It's nicely creepy.
The Shining is an odd duck in that it is both wonderfully creepy with a great Jack Nicholson performance and some impressive production design and camera work but also flawed from a character perspective.  As an adaptation of the book though, it loses points for making it a little too easy for the viewer by having Jack start off rather unhinged and just get worse from there.  It's a well made but rather cold movie that nevertheless is still a very effective horror film.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thunderball/Never Say Never Again

The fourth James Bond film is probably my favorite of the entire series, it is easily my favorite Connery outing and while Goldfinger set up the template, Thunderball is more along the lines of how the series would go for the most part.  Never Say Never Again is one of the few times it can truly be said a movie was confined by the very letter of the law...Or a court ruling at any rate.The legal stuff and backstory elements can be found elsewhere on the web (and handled considerably better than I could ever manage) so we'll keep the intro brief.  In 1965, Thunderball was adapted for the screen after some legal issues which came up again a few decades later, leading to our second feature for this article.

Now then, let's examine two movies that are, in fact, two sides of the same coin.

Thunderball (1965)

Thunderball is, to me at least, the ultimate over the top Bond film as it pits Bond against SPECTRE as he races to stop them from setting off a couple of atomic bombs they've hijacked. Sean Connery is as cool as ever, the action is spectacular, the villains are nasty as hell and the women are beautiful.  It's everything you could want from a Bond film, let's take a closer look.
  • First off, I love the pre-credits scene which manages to not only give us a nicely brutal fight between Bond and a SPECTRE agent, but it also gives us the awesome sight of Bond strapping on a frigging jet pack to escape!
  • Tom Jones' main title song is a nice one, though like the pre-title scene and everything else in the film, it's clearly trying to top Goldfinger in every way possible.  Happily, it succeeds for the most part.
  • Adolfo Celi is great as the main bad guy, Emilio Largo.  He's tough, ruthless and quite nasty at times while also being quite suave and debonair.  In  a way, he is a darker version of Bond.
  • I get a chuckle out of SPECTRE using a charity organization as a front for their base of operations.
  • The Shrublands sequence is nice blend of plot developments (a SPECTRE agent is putting together the bomb hijack plans) and Bond seducing a nurse before investigating the plot after he discovers a dead man who the bad guys are using to get to the bombs.
  • John Barry's score is fantastic as usual.
  • The traction table scene is a nice bit of tension that is well shot and edited quite nicely.
  • Another great villain is Luciana Paluzzi as Fiona Volpe.  She's one of the better femme fatales I've ever seen: sexy, dangerous and ruthless as all hell.  I also get a kick out of the way they get onto the base, going to the trouble of having a mercenary get plastic surgery to impersonate the VIP on the plane they're taking down.  It's nice plot.
  • The great thing about this film is how it handles the exposition.  For the first forty minutes or so, Bond is actually doing some real spying, finding out little bits of info here and there until the actual hijacking sequence occurs.
  • Really, the only issue I have with the film is the actual hijack scene.  It's fine until the plane crashes into the sea, then it sort of drags as the bad guys make off with the bombs.  It was done better in a later film in the series, but that's a story for another day.  Here, it's really a minor flaw in an awesome movie.  The common knock on this film is that the underwater scenes bog it down, but really it's just this bit that slows the pace.
  • Funny bit I only noticed now: on the side of the bombs it reads "Handle like eggs".  Makes sense, really.
  • Funnily enough, as over the top as the film is, the gadgets are just right for the mission.  Bond gets an underwater camera, a watch with a Geiger counter and a homing beacon plus a few other small items, everything else is just stuff lying around that proves to be useful.
  • The Nassau stuff is great as it is not only a beautiful location but it also  introduces us to our two other key players: Bond Girl for the evening Domino (Claudine Auger) and Felix Leiter (Rik van Nutter).  Leiter's role is more or less just to be Bond's yes man but Auger is spectacularly attractive and considering her voice was dubbed, Auger does fine with the acting side of things.  She and Connery have good chemistry (though to be fair, the man is so magnetic you almost have to be dead to not do well in a scene with him).
  • The connection with Largo and Domino is a rather convenient plot device but it works well enough.
  • The casino stuff with Bond screwing with Largo is great.  I always enjoy seeing Bond poking and prodding at the bad guy, it always makes for a good show.  We get even more of this when Bond visits Largo at his house.
  • Another thing I enjoy about the middle of the film (along with the rest of it) is how the plot just unfolds at a leisurely pace, letting the audience luxuriate in it.  That's what I've always loved about the series, especially seeing an entry in the theater for the first time.  It's sometimes fun to just sit back in your seat and let the film wash over you.  Skyfall, Casino Royale and Goldeneye do this, as does Octopussy.  No shock that those are my favorites.
  • I also enjoy Martine Beswick as Bond's assistant Paula.  She's not in much of the film, but she does look great.
  • I enjoy Philip Locke as Vargas, one of Largo's henchmen.  His death is one of the best moments in the film.
  • The parade sequence with Bond evading Fiona and her goons is a nice bit of action.  I especially like the music used, Barry always did well with action scenes.
  • Fiona's death is nicely done, I also find it rather amusing how after she's shot, the bad guys sort of lose interest in chasing Bond down.
  • I love the way the bad guys covered up the location of the downed plane with a tarp.  Setting it down in shark infested waters was another nice touch.
  • Bond finally getting Domino on his side is done very well.  This is probably Sean Connery's best overall performance as Bond.  He's cool throughout, even when telling Domino Largo killed her brother.  In a nice bit of subtle acting, Bond's hand shakes a little when he hands her her brother's dog tags and watch.  Connery also puts on a pair of sunglasses, a nice little bit of business that gives the indestructible 007 a bit of humanity.
  • Contrast that with The World is Not Enough where the film basically bashed us in the head with the whole "Bond is also human" angle.
  • Sure the beat that follows this nice bit of acting is Bond shooting Vargas dead with a harpoon gun as he sneaks up on them but that's just part of what makes the film cool.
  • The thing that really stood out for me once I got this film on VHS and later on DVD) was just how damn brutal it is!  I had mostly seen the film in a cut down for TV version on ABC and boy did they ever chop the hell out of it.  The fights underwater have quite a bit of blood, the scene where Largo tortures Domino after catching her spying on him is completely gone and the overall tone of the film is quite choppy in that version.
  • The biggest change is the underwater showdown between SPECTRE and I guess the Navy.  I'd love to see another army vs. army sequence at the end of a Bond film, it's been quite a while since we've had one.
  • As for this one, It's quite brutal, set to John Barry's thunderous action theme and is a real highlight.  I especially love Bond leaping into the fray after it's been going on for a bit and absolutely slaughtering SPECTRE.  I can only imagine the cheers this must have gotten during the film's theatrical run.
  • Even better is the fight on Largo's boat as he tries to escape.  First off, the fact that his yacht can convert into a hydrofoil is just plain cool.  Second, it's just a thrill to see Bond taking on four guys at a time and more or less thrashing all of them while also trying to control the out of control boat.  The capper of Domino being the one to kill Largo is just icing on the cake.
  • Sort of an amusing bit to end things on for this film, apart from the opening gunbarrel sequence, the end credits are the only time we hear the James Bond Theme.
Thunderball is, quite simply the best Bond film.  It's large in scope, has great action, acting and humor and is still as fun to watch now as it was when it first came out.

Never Say Never Again (1983)

After a protracted legal dispute, producer Kevin McClory was finally able to mount his own Bond film, the only caveat being that the story had to be based on the Thunderball novel.  In essence, the only way he could make a Bond film was to remake the fourth.   I watched this a lot when I was a kid (along with Swamp Thing, Conan the Destroyer and Yor, the Hunter From the Future) and honestly, it doesn't hold up to well.  Let's take a look at why.
  • Since it had to be the same as Thunderball, the story hits all of the same beats only with some location changes and other minor alterations.  Fiona is now Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera), the plot involves something about destroying the oil fiends on North Africa, screenwriter Lorenzo Semple does what he can but this is no Die Hard.
  • The opening titles play out over an okayish war games session where Bond infiltrates a base to rescue a girl, only for the girl to stab him in the side (turns out she was brainwashed).  Much is made of Bond (and by virtue of that, Connery) being older but while it adds a few humorous bits in the beginning, it just sort of peters out.  Sort of like the rest of the film.
  • The music is not that good either.  The best part of it is the main title song and even that is sort of crappy.
  • The spa stuff follows more or less the same sequence of events as in Thunderball, though in the case of this film we see Bond being sent to the spa.  Unfortunately, Edward Fox makes for a rather shrill, unlikable M and Moneypenny is a non-entity.
  • As for the actual content, it's way too drawn out, though we do get a decent enough SPECTRE intro with Max von Sydow as Blofeld.  Barbara Carrera and Klaus Maria Brandauer are also good as the villains with Brandauer's Largo standing out.  Unlike the earlier version who was classy but ruthless, this version is just a psycho.  It works fairly well, though.
  • In an odd nod to the novel, Largo is referred to as "Number One".  In the book, this was also the case and Blofeld was "Number Two".  The bit seemed strange in the book (why would the guy in charge take the lower number?) and here it's just dialogue.
  • The biggest flaw in this film is the pace.  The spa stuff takes too long, the action is rather languidly paced (odd since the director also did The Empire Strikes Back) and there is no real sense of urgency.  In the original, even with the rather relaxed pace, the sense of danger was always present.  Here, the real plot doesn't get going until about an hour in when Bond arrives in France and hooks up with Felix Leiter (Bernie Casey).
  • While it is sort of a letdown to have the character Bond spies on at the beginning of Thunderball reduced to just a huge thug here, his fight with Bond is a fun one and the payoff is amusing.  It would have been nice if there was a little shot of him arriving before he attacks but the fight is still decent.
  • The hijacking is done more or less the same way, though in a more high-tech fashion (it being the 80's and all).,  I do like Gavan O'Herlihy as a heroin addicted SPECTRE dupe, he's not too bad but the bomb stealing sequence is just a little too slow.
  • One touch I do genuinely like is Blofeld announcing his demands and the traditional "Blofeld's hands and the cat" shot is accomplished simply by having the man sitting on a table.  Could have done without the NATO reaction which comes off like something from a badly dubbed monster movie from the sixties.
  • The stuff with Q (or as the film calls him, Algernon) is okay.
  • The Nassau stuff comes off as being there simply because the other film was set primarily in The Bahamas.  The bombs end up being nowhere near there and the scenes do little to advance the plot.  Hell, most of the important stuff takes place in France and the Middle East.
  • Rowan Atkinson is truly annoying in his supporting role as an inept agent sent to help Bond.  I like the guy, Blackadder was hilarious but here he's just terrible.
  •  Even after the film gets going, it goes about its task in a clumsy manner.  Domino's brother being revealed is not really handled well, Bond's contact in France delivers lines offhandedly offscreen while Bond and Felix are chatting, and the scene where Bond and Domino (Kim Basinger) meet is really more focused on finding Largo.
  • The best scene in the film is the charity event where Bond and Largo meet for the first time.  They have a duel with a video game about the domination of the world that is very good and nicely acted by both Connery and Brandauer.
  • Unfortunately, the dance scene with Bond and Domino doesn't work as well.  Connery is fine, Basinger is...Well, she's hot but not much of an actress here but the nice subtlety on display in the original is lost by Bond bluntly telling Domino her brother is dead.  The script essentially takes the casino and beach scenes from the first film and violently Hulk-smashes them into one muddled mess of a sequence.  It doesn't work.
  • Another rather bad bit of writing is how Largo invites Bond onto his boat, and then lets him just wander around unsupervised.  The scene that follows with Domino is okay but the relationship between the two is so shallow that it doesn't really track.
  • The bike chase in France is an acceptable bit of action, though even then it's nowhere near as good as it could be.
  • The latter third of the film is very uneven with the North Africa stuff barely registering outside of Brandauer's insanity and some nice sits of action at the end.  The finale goes down more or less as it did in the book with Bond and Largo fighting underwater until Domino shoots Largo.
  • Really, the only truly good things in the film are Connery and Barbara Carrera as Fatima Blush.  She's a great over the top villain and once she's dead after the bike chase the film just drags along in as dull a manner as you can imagine.  Her last scene is good, though as she is just insanely egotistical.
  • Connery is his usual cool self, though to be frank, he is on full auto-pilot here.  He wasn't too thrilled about doing the movie and the making of it did little to improve his mood about it.
On the whole, the film is watchable but very, very sloppy.  It has a good cast but horrible pacing issues, dull action and the energy level is barely there at times.  It's a very poor imitation of an excellent movie.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Phantasm II (1988)

The sequel to the 1979 classic Phantasm is one of the few sequels that is not only as good as the original, but in certain areas surpasses it.  More an action flick than the surreal nightmare the first one was, this picks up some time after the first film (though not before an explosively awesome prologue that builds on the first film's shock ending) and Mike (now played by James LeGros) has been going through psychotherapy sessions (oddly enough the setup for Fright Night Part 2  from the same time period is similar though not as well executed) but they haven't really worked.

Drawn by dreams of a young woman he has an apparent psychic bond with, he and Reggie (Reggie Bannister) embark on a hunt for The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) after the aforementioned villain blows up Reggie's family.

That's pretty much all the plot there is as the film turns into a gory road trip chase film with multiple shootouts in mausoleums, killer dwarfs, great f/x from Mark Shostrom, the welcome return of the brain drilling spheres and all of it crisply directed by Don Coscarelli.

Acting is solid with LeGros doing a good job as Mike, Reggie Bannister being his usual entertaining self and of course, Angus Scrimm looming over the proceedings as the creepiest undertaker in film history.

What's really great about the film is how the director was willing to tell a different type of story.  While the first film was a bizarre, nightmarish bit of surreal horror, this is essentially a kickass 80's action film with horror elements mixed in.  I first saw this at about two in the morning on KTLA and have loved it ever since.  It's truly a worthy sequel to the first film.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Quantum of Solace (2008)

The 22nd James Bond film is rather problematic as the more I watch it, the less I tend to enjoy it.  I saw it in theaters twice and dug it but subsequent viewings have not helped it.

A direct follow-up to Casino Royale (actually more of a continuation of that film's story), it pits James Bond against the evil Quantum organization and the action is plentiful but the stuff that makes a James Bond film what it is is missing. Marc Forster keep the pace up but it comes at the cost of the heart and soul of the franchise.  Let's take a closer look.
  • Rather than the traditional gun barrel sequence, we are thrown right into a car chase as Bond escapes with Mr. White, the prisoner he took at the end of the previous film.  It's a good enough way to start the film but if you haven't seen the previous film, it;s just a hollow action sequence.  This is a problem with the whole film, in fact.
  • The main title song "Another Way to Die" is alright but the title sequence that goes with it is a little underwhelming.  Nothing in this movie is outwardly bad (save for one scene I'll get to later) but nothing really sticks with you as remarkably good.
  • Daniel Craig makes for a great James Bond and he does quite well, though we do have to slog through endless scenes of M (Judi Dench) questioning his competence.  I like Dench but after Tomorrow Never Dies, M sort of began to great in the way of the film to a degree.  I totally get the need to give an accomplished actress like Judi Dench something worth her time and the money you're paying her but quite often it just bogged the film down.
  • Making it even more frustrating is that the film is so compressed (106 minutes, roughly half of which are action scenes) that she never really gets a chance to shine, her first real scene is cut short by a foot chase breaking out.  It's a good one with a nice climax but this film seems to mistake action for plot development.
  • I do enjoy the sequence of events that leads Bond to meeting our heroine for the day, Camille (Olga Kurylenko), Bond casually flipping the bike out from under a random goon is fun, but we end up intercutting from that with M at the office keeping an eye on Bond.  I get that the spy game is more high tech but really, we go to a Bond film to escape, not dwell on reality.  There are times when the film comes off a bit like a Jason Bourne film and the constant tracking of Bond's movements is one of them.
  • One of the highlights of the film is Mathieu Almaric as Dominic Greene, our main villain.  He's your typical millionaire who is trying to help a deposed Bolivian American dictator regain power.  Almaric is pretty good (it helps that he does the whole crazy eyes thing to perfection) and he is nicely menacing.  As for the deposed dictator, General Medrano is well-played but ultimately just there to provide Camille with a reason to be in the film (she's gunning for him because he killed her family).
  • The boat chase that follows the intro of the bad guys is okay but ion the first thirty minutes of the film, we get three big action scenes.  You know, the part of the film that is usually meant to set up the plot?  Hell, even the lowliest Cannon production gives the audience a chance to get an idea of where the film is coming from before Michael Dudikoff and Steve James begin kicking people in the face.

  • As I said, Craig makes a great Bond, though he is hampered a bit by the requirements of the plot.  As a direct sequel to the previous film, he is still dealing with the events of it (the Bond Girl killing herself for him after betraying him).  As a result, Craig is colder than usual and while he's quite the badass throughout, a little more humanity would have helped.  Happily, Skyfall gives us just that.
  • The CIA sort of backing Greene is an okay twist as it brings Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) back but it just comes off as superfluous seeing as it doesn't factor in outside of two scenes.
  • Bond getting info on the bad guys at a performance of Tosca is one of the few standout scenes in the film that really feels like it belongs in a 007 epic.  It's well shot, paced nicely and Craig is just utterly cool.  could have done without M basically taking away Bond's gun and badge after he inadvertently kills a guy who turns out to be one of his own but dropping the ball is par for the course for this movie.  The action beat leading up to it is nicely done but given that it follows thirty minutes of nearly endless action, it comes off as rather hollow.
  • Giancarlo Giannini makes a welcome return as Mathis from the previous film.  He's warm and funny buy the way the film handles his death later in the film rather callously.  After a touching death scene, Bond unceremoniously dumps the body in a dumpster and lifts his wallet.  It sort of fits the situation (Bond is being framed for the death and is in a rush) but the way it's done generates an unintentional laugh.  Hell, Camille even calls him on it!
  • There is a little bit of stuff with Bond not being able to sleep but as with everything else, it;s quite superficial.
  • I do get a kick out of Gemma Arterton as Agent Fields (no prize for guessing her first name given the franchise this is).  Bond moving them to a better hotel is also a fun bit.
  • The stuff at Greene's party is pretty good, though it comes off as more arbitrary than the "Bond meets the villain at a social event and screws with him" thing should.  Maybe it would work if there hadn't already been one scene of Greene ordering a bunch of guys to kill Bond.  In fact, the focus seems to be more on Camille embarrassing Greene than anything else.
  • Camille is, in fact, sort of reminiscent of a Fleming Bond Girl in that she has a tragic past and in the books, Bond always had a thing for a bird with a wing down.  Olga Kurylenko plays the part well enough but apart from the back story, there isn't a hell of a lot to her.  She and Craig have a little chemistry but not enough to really make one give a crap.
  • The plane shootout after Mathis dies is a nice bit of business though once again, it's hard to really give a damn when the film has been mostly action.  Marc Forster isn't a terrible director but he just doesn't work as a director of a James Bond film.  The action would be fine with a more defined plot (the bad guy trying to stage a coup in order to control the water supply is actually sort of neat) but the film, barely stops long enough to give more than bits and pieces.  He does do some interesting things like giving the caption for each new location a different look depending on the setting.
  • I think the Writer's Guild strike had an affect on the film's screenplay.  It definitely comes off like an early draft in dire need of fleshing out.  Still, that's no excuse for a director who wasn't a fan of the series (not that that's an essential) and seemed to be more interested in pace than telling a good story.
  • The Goldfinger homage when Fields is found dead, covered in oil, is a nice touch.
  • The CIA aspect of the plot is dealt with quite offhandedly as Felix simply gives Bond info on where Greene is even though his boss wants 007 dead and then ends up taking over the man;s position offscreen.
  • The finale at an abandoned hotel (or maybe its under construction, I don't know) is a pretty good one with a cool location and lots of stuff blowing up.  It's a decent enough wrap-up to the plot, or would be if there had been any true focus on it.  Still, we do get some good bits with Greene going psycho with an axe and casually eating an apple as he puts the screws to Medrano before the shooting starts but outside of that, it's just more vapid action.
  • The last few scenes wrap up things well enough with Bond confronting Greene in the desert; finding the man who got Vesper to turn traitor and getting over his loss.  It would work better in a complete film with a good script, but sadly it's in this one.
  • The gun barrel logo comes at the end of the film and is followed by a nice rendition of the James Bond Theme and another piece by David Arnold.
  • One last little amusing thing (for me at least), in the time between Casino Royale and this film, home video rights for the franchise went to 20th Century Fox so in a technical sense, the old days of Bond films being released by CBS/Fox Home Video are back.  Neat!
 The follow-up to Casino Royale is a problematic, flawed film with good acting from Craig and Almaric and some nice action but precious little of it matters thanks to a muddled script.  It's well shot, looks nice and sounds great but at the end of the day it's just another hollow action movie.  Happily, the next film would be much better.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

In the Mouth of Madness (1995)

Oh man, how I wish this film had made its original 1994 release date!  It would have been a shoe-in for the My Favorite Era series!  Regardless, this is quite possibly my favorite John Carpenter film, it's definitely his best 90's film.

In the Mouth of Madness is a masterfully unsettling pastiche of H.P. Lovecraft's notions of terrifying old gods  who once ruled the world and very much want to do so again.  Sam Neill plays John Trent, an insurance investigator who is called in by a publishing house run by Charlton Heston to try and track down a famous horror author named Sutter Cane who is Stephen King's career (biggest author in the world) mixed with Lovecraft's story ideas.

Trent, accompanied by Cane's editor Linda (Julie Carmen) tracks the author to a little town called Hobb's End, the same town he writes about and gradually, the line between reality and fiction starts to fracture.  We get the usual Lovecraftian elements in the film: a doomed to insanity protagonist, creepy small towns, horrible mutations, it's all there and it all works.

Carpenter directs with his usual flair and the film has a wonderfully creepy vibe to it, a vibe helped by Carpenter's score.  Acting is also top notch with Neill turning a great performance as a man slowly losing his grip on reality, Carmen does pretty well with what she has to work with and Jurgen Prochnow is fun as usual as the author.  I also enjoy David Warner and John Glover who appear in the beginning and end scenes as a psychiatrist and mental hospital administrator respectively.  Warner is his usual reliable self but Glover just decides to make his character so damn odd that it becomes awesome.

The f/x stuff is good too as KNB turns in a nice variety of bloody hits, creature f/x and creepy visuals.  The only issue I can think of is that you don;t really get a good look at the monsters that appear towards the end, but then again not seeing them makes them a bit scarier anyway so it's all good.

In the Mouth of Madness is a great, wonderfully creepy little flick that I've always enjoyed.  It's well worth checking out.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My Favorite Era: Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Little something different this year as I decided to extend the Halloween Countdown to a two month thing (because damn it all, my favorite holiday deserves it) and also add in Spies, Swords and Sorcery.  With that in mind, let's kick off two months of Spies, Swords, Sorcery and Screams in barbaric fashion.
What better way to kick off the sword and sorcery part of this project than with the film that really started the 80's phase of it?  Conan the Barbarian is both majestic and hilarious as while director John Milius seems to take the story as seriously as one possibly can, everyone else appears to be there just for the fun of it.

We follow Conan from his youth to adulthood as he struggles against an evil snake cult led by James Earl Jones, falling in love along the way and encountering tons of wild characters.  It's bloody violence, some unintentional comedy (with Arnold that just comes with the territory) and general coolness all thew way,  Let's take a closer look.
  • Right off the bat, we get a sense of where the film is coming from as it begins with the quote"That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Pretty sure that was a Milius idea.  I like the guy as a writer/director but boy he takes his stuff way too seriously!  The commentary track on the DVD is a marvel, 129 minutes of Milius getting really, really intense about the themes in the film and Arnold chiming in with jokes and simply describing the action on screen.  It's quite a fun track to listen to.
  • This the first collaboration of Arnold and Dino DeLaurentiis, and definitely the best.  The others, Raw Deal, Red Sonja and Conan the Destroyer range from, okay to bad.
  • The Basil Poledouris score is quite impactful, definitely one of his best efforts.  The narration by Mako (who also has a role later in the film) is also fun.
  • The attack by Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones and his Cher wig) and his goons is a nicely done bit of mayhem.
  • An interesting thing I noticed, before the attack we see Conan's father lecturing him on how important steel is...Only for him to turn out to be not all that great with a sword during the attack.  In fact, he sort of goes down easy all things considered.  That might be the only way the 2011 Conan film improves on things, Ron Perlman goes down hard in that one.
  • James Earl Jones is really good as Doom, he;s got a low key manner and is just damn creepy.  The fact that he can stare at you and somehow make your neck extend a little so he can m,ore easily decapitate you is another nice touch.
  • Obligatory reference everyone makes time: Yes, the Wheel of Pain is a weird concept.  The best guess I can make is that it was just a cool way to transition to Arnold in all his muscled up glory.
  • A funny thing regarding the "What is best in life?" scene: I didn't pick up on this until listening to the Greatest Movie Ever! podcast on the film but apart from the gladiator stuff, Conan has only experienced the whole "Crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of the women" thing from the side getting its butt handed to it.  I can only guess he's thinking during the question is "Well the crowd cheering me whenever I gouge a guy's face out is cool,  and the guys who slaughtered my people and beheaded my mother right in front of me seemed sort at ease with themselves, may as well go with that."
  • I also just noticed that in the beginning of that scene, the guy in charge is worrying that his sons will never understand him.   Interesting.
  • It's nice to see that some things never change.  Whether his character is bonding with his daughter or mastering the art of swordplay, Arnold Schwarzenegger looks like a mildly challenged special needs adult when he smiles broadly.   Poor bastard.
  • Conan being set free is done without any pomp or circumstance and the next time we see him, wild dogs are chasing him.  Okay...
  • Actually, it's a pretty neat sequence as Conan gets his sword and you have to give Arnold all the credit in the world for doing some of his own stunts here.
  • The scene with the wolf witch is interesting in that when you're a kid and you first see it, you don't notice that the scene serves no purpose other than throwing in some nudity.  When you're an adult and you see it, you notice the scene serves no purpose and is only there for some nudity but you don't give a damn.
  • I do like Arnold's performance here though, he just has a great "WTF?" face for most of it.  Classic.
  • Gerry Lopez is fun as Subotai, Arnold's sidekick for the film.
  • Milius adds a little bit of Norse mythology here and there with a reference to Valhalla at one point and one other thing I'll get to later.  It doesn't quite fit the Conan character but it's not really a major issue.
  • I love the film's rather bizarre sense of humor: Conan and his buddy drunkenly walking through a village, asking about the snake symbol Doom uses, getting high, seeing people screwing livestock and punching out a camel.  It's not high comedy but if it makes you laugh...
  • The sequence of them sneaking into the snake tower to steal a jewel is a fun set piece with a nicely fake looking snake and the decidedly very real Sandahl Bergman as Valeria.  She's quite good in her role.
  • Even better is the aftermath of their success which has Arnold wooing Bergman for a bit and then just falling face first into a bowl of food.
  • Max von Sydow is fun in his one scene which basically gives us the main plot for the film almost an hour in: he sends the trio to rescue his daughter who has fallen in with Doom's cult.
  •  Mako is fun as the wizard who ends up helping Conan.
  •  The one issue I have is that the film's pace slackens a little in the beginning of the second hour.  There's a little too much travel footage.
  • Conan infiltrating the snake cult is amusing.
  • Now is as good a time as any to mention Doom's main henchmen: Thorgrim (Sven Ole Thorsen) and Rexor (Ben Davidson).  Both are intimidatingly large and fun to see in action.  Sure, neither one is really a match for Conan but still!  I also get a chuckle out of Thorsen being a bit of a dullard.
  • Dooms' speech to Conan before having him crucified is a nice bit of acting from Jones.
  • As horrific as the scene is, having Conan bite the vulture nibbling at him was an inspired idea.
  • The sequence where they bring Conan back from the dead is nicely over the top, though how to do this sort of scene in a subtle manner is not something I can imagine right now.
  • I never noticed the snake cult was also a bunch of cannibals until the film came out on DVD.  Not sure how I missed that little detail, I guess it helps I saw the sequel more than the original when I was a kid.
  • The orgy scene that leads into the big fight in the temple is amusing, if only for Arnold's comment on it during the commentary track which more or less amounts to "Look, everybody is banging!"  Well, he did marry into the Kennedy family, we can all guess why he fit in so well.
  • I have no idea why Doom can just turn into a snake, but damn is it cool!  Equally cool is the fight that ensues, capped by Doom using a snake as an arrow to kill Valeria.
  • I think the funeral pyre scene is maybe the one time a film has found a good reason to not have Arnold try to emote.  As anyone who has seen Batman & Robin will tell you, it's not a pretty sight.
  • Sort of funny that the big ambush Conan plans for the remaining villains is really the only time he's actively barbaric.  Good deaths for Davidson and Thorsen though.  I also love how Conan's idea of a prayer is to say "Help if you can but if not, screw off."
  • Valeria coming back as a Valkyrie was another Milius idea.  To be fair, Bergman does look good in that outfit.
  • Doom's death is gruesomely satisfying.  He's not politely beheaded, it takes a damn bloody long time to pull it off.
  • I also find it amusing that Jones has built up a track record of hit movies where him mentioning that he either another character';s father or father figure ends up costing him.  In the Star Wars films, he ends up losing a hand and here he loses his head.
The first Conan is a solid, entertaining bit of action that is still entertaining today.  A good cast, decent enough script and solid production design make for a fun movie that's even more amusing when you consider how damn seriously the director took it.  Good stuff.

About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.