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Oct 262016

If there’s one gimmick that helps make horror movies interesting, it’s a trilogy of separate short stories put together into one film. So for Halloween this year, I’ll be going over two horror trilogy movies from the early 1960s. The first one is Tales of Terror, which are all based on Edgar Allan Poe poems. This was what first got me interested in the concept of horror trilogies, next to the Simpsons Halloween specials. Each tale begins with narration by Vincent Price and ends with a quote from the actual Edgar Allan Poe poem that it was based on.

It starts with Morella, which is about Lenora Locke (Maggie Pierce) visiting her father in a mansion that has so many cobwebs it’s unreal. Where’s the feather duster when you need it? However, Mr. Locke (Vincent Price) is drunk and blames her for his wife Morella’s (Leona Gage) death since she died in childbirth. This certainly brings the term “dysfunctional family” to a whole new level. Especially when the ghost of Morella gets involved by switching bodies with Lenora in order to avenge herself.

The second tale is The Black Cat. Despite how angry drunk Montresor Herringbone (Peter Lorre) treats his wife Annabelle (Joyce Jameson), this horror tale is a bit lighter than the previous one. The biggest highlight is when Montresor goes to a wine tasting and meets Fortunato Luchresi (Vincent Price). The way Fortunato tastes wine is by sniffing it and squishing it around with quick breathing gestures, which I find hilarious. Montresor just takes a big gulp. To each his own. Of course the biggest plot point is how Montresor hate’s his wife’s cat. Not to spoil the ending, but the cat does get even.

Then the movie goes in a dark direction again with the third tale, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar. M. Valdemar (Vincent Price) is a dying man that has a hypnotist, Mr. Carmichael (Basil Rathbone), use hypnosis to ease his pain. However, while under hypnosis, Valdemar dies but his spirit cannot move on until Carmichael releases him. When Carmichael refuses, things become really creepy. Even though the horror standards were different from what we have today, I believe the outcome of this story still has the potential to give people nightmares.

A year later, Boris Karloff starred in a horror trilogy movie of his own called Black Sabbath, which he also narrates. Just so you know, it has nothing to do with the rock band Black Sabbath, or any Edgar Allan Poe tales.

The first tale is called A Drop of Water. After an elderly medium passes away, Nurse Helen Chester (Jacqueline Pierreux) is summoned to the medium’s house to prepare the body for burial. However, Helen is warned not to touch any of her belongings or be cursed. Helen doesn’t listen and steals the ring off the medium’s finger. After getting home, Helen is haunted by dripping water and the creepy vengeful corpse coming after her. I guess that will teach Helen to heed a curse. Some mediums can be very sensitive when it comes to their belongings.

Tale number two is The Telephone. Long before the Scream franchise, as well as caller ID, this story is about call girl Rosy (Michele Mercier) getting frightening phone calls. They’re from someone that Rosy thought was long dead. He’s threatening her life and knows everything she’s doing to the last detail, which drives Rosy into hysteria. This story has horror, but on a much different level from the previous tale.

The final tale is The Wurdalak, which is a vampire story that takes place in Russia. When young nobleman Vladimir Durfe (Mark Damon) takes shelter in a cottage, he finds the owner Giorgio (Glauco Onorato) and his family. They tell him that Giorgio’s father Gorca (Boris Karloff) went to kill a wurdulak, which is a living cadaver that feeds on human blood, particularly the blood of loved ones. Soon Gorca returns and has become a wurdulak himself, slowly attacking his family. This story is an interesting one to end on. My only concern is that the pacing is very slow on at least several points.

I should also point out that even though Boris Karloff may be the star and narrator of Black Sabbath, he only appears in The Wurdulak in comparison to Vincent Price appearing in all three of Tales of Terror as well as being star and narrator.

These were both great trilogy movies of classic horror. Sometimes it’s nice to look back on old horror after so many years, especially on Halloween. As for remakes on old horror movies, well that’s another story.

Oct 192016

As much as I enjoyed the first film, I couldn’t wait to see its sequel Hotel Transylvania 2 and believe me it was well worth it.

Much has changed at Hotel Transylvania. Now that humans and monsters live in peace and harmony, Dracula (voice of Adam Sandler) approves of human guests and his daughter Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez) is married to Johnny (voice of Andy Samberg). Could things get any better?

Yes they can. Mavis and Johnny have a son named Dennis (voice of Asher Blinkoff), who is half human, half vampire, (a.k.a. a dhampir) and just adorable. Dracula is very close with Dennis. In fact, he even disguised himself as a nurse to see his grandson. That’s just not something you would ever expect Count Dracula to do.

Johnny’s family is introduced in this sequel. His father Mike (voice of Nick Offerman) is always so serious as he tolerates everyone around him. Johnny’s mother Linda (voice of Megan Mullally) tries to be kind but always ends up putting her foot in her mouth, making things become awkward.

Dracula has high hopes for Dennis to show his vampire side, but it hasn’t surfaced yet. Secondly, Dennis’s favorite monster is Kakie (voice of Chris Kattan) a TV monster that’s friendly like Elmo and bit corny.

After seeing how the numerous wolf pups can move around like a wild tornado, Mavis believes that the hotel is not a good place to raise Dennis and considers moving to Johnny’s hometown in California. While the two of them are gone, Dracula sees this as an opportunity to inspire Dennis. So Dracula and his friends Frankenstein (voice of Kevin James), Wayne the Wolfman (voice of Steve Buscemi), Griffin the invisible man (voice of David Spade), and Murray the mummy (voice of Keegan-Michael Key) take Dennis on a road trip to their old haunts. Even Blobby the blob monster comes along for laughs.

Once Mavis finds out, she is so determined to get back to the hotel, she actually carries Johnny and their luggage herself while flying back to Transylvania as a bat. I never thought Mavis was that strong. I guess it goes to show that you should never underestimate the power of a concerned vampire mother.

Here’s a cool addition. The hotel has an organ player, who is none other than the Phantom of the Opera (voice of Jon Lovitz). It’s neat how he was thrown in so randomly. That got me thinking. There’s no mention of what became of Quasimodo after how he was left in the first movie.

It isn’t until much later when we see Dracula’s father Vlad (voice of Mel Brooks). Although Vlad dislikes humans even more than Dracula used to, the real threat is Vlad’s servant bat monster Bela (voice of Rob Riggle) and his bat crew, since they’re always up front about it.

I really like this movie and find it even funnier than the first one. I also saw online that there is a third installment in the works. I have no doubt that it will only get better from here.

Oct 122016

Unlike many zombie movies, Grindhouse: Zombiethon is mainly about a compilation of clips from several different zombie movies from the 70s and 80s. It starts with a young woman running from a zombie and hiding in a movie theater that’s playing old movies. Apparently, there are a bunch of zombies in the audience as well.

The movies featured include Zombie (1979), Zombie Lake (1981), Oasis of the Zombies (1982), Fear No Evil (1981), and The Invisible Dead (1970). Many of the clips that are shown have very creepy zombies often attacking attractive women who are at least half-naked. It’s like one cliché after another.

I should also point out the level of gore, which is so disgusting I always need to look away. You’re probably thinking, “These old zombie movies can’t be that creepy compared to the zombie movies of today.” Oh, yes they can.

Between each “movie”, there’s a scene featuring a different young woman running from a zombie and hiding in that same movie theater. As tiring as it may appear, I think it’s vital because it’s hard to tell where one set of movie clips end and another set begins. Especially since there is hardly any dialogue in the entire thing.

Later on, the in-between scenes are about the zombies in the movie theater struggling to sit still due to problems with the film projector. With a zombie running it, what would you expect? On the other hand, the way the zombies in the audience react is actually pretty funny. After showing all that gory drama, this movie really needed some comic relief.

Zombiethon wasn’t a bad movie, since I liked the idea of featuring old zombie movies in a series of clips. If it was meant to be a documentary style movie, couldn’t there have been a narrator or something? That way it would’ve been a little easier to follow. However, if you like zombie movies from that era, I think Zombiethon is at least worth checking out.

Oct 052016

The Scooby-Doo franchise has gone in many directions over the years. So why not a LEGO feature like the TV special LEGO Scooby-Doo: Knight Time Terror.

This time the Scooby gang arrives at a secret treasure is hidden. However, a Black Knight ghost also haunts it. The story plot may sound cliché, but the common gags used in many LEGO features add some great touches to it.

Running the mansion are Charlie Grimsley, his brother Kyle, and their cousin Wanda who is a mechanic and groundskeeper. They are struggling to get customers by providing a treasure hunt. Also at the mansion is Adam the house historian, who Velma has a crush on. This makes how many crushes now?

After the Mystery Machine crashes, it shows more stuff inside than usual. It has a small computer, a bulletin board, and luggage which includes a box of monster traps. Most of the time, the Mystery Machine appears empty.

The mansion contains quite a few traps like a swinging morning star that Shaggy and Scooby find by accident.

Speaking of Shaggy and Scooby, those two are always looking for food. However, we don’t actually see them eat since everything is made out of LEGO pieces. Of course that doesn’t stop the giant plant monster from devouring everything.

This was an interesting feature. What LEGO sets will come to life next?

Sep 282016
Many pop culture villains are straightforward with their evil plots. Then there are ones that use a more creative approach to either terrorize the innocent or force the hero(s) to alter their tactics when challenged. Here are some of my most favorite interesting villains who stand out in that unique manner.
#10) Cheapo from Stripperella: Of all the villains on this series, he is the most unusual because he’s very cheap as a crime lord. Cheapo’s resourcefulness is based on how he plans everything the cheapest way possible. However, it affects his common sense. So much so that his own henchmen appear to be smarter then him. Seriously, what criminal mastermind prefers copper to gold?
#9) Floatzart from Ghostbusters (1986 version): This ghostly maestro uses music to subdue his victims, whether it’s to conduct ghosts with his baton or play his float flute that’s made from a long bone. Very little is known about Floatzart since he was only in a few episodes and, like the other evil ghosts, his background from when he was alive is not revealed. I do like his style though. He is one of few musical villains that aren’t annoying.
#8) Leaky Faucet from Power Rangers Zeo: Many of the monsters on Power Rangers normally don’t stand out too often because they’re only featured once before getting destroyed, twice if they’re lucky to be brought back. In this version, Leaky Faucet is different than most. He can liquefy at will and easily sneak into water pipes in order to spread his toxins. For a machine monster, that’s quite impressive.
#7) Dr. Bad Vibes from C.O.P.S. the Animated Series: He’s a brilliant scientist that invents high tech gadgets for the Big Boss. Along with his robot companion Buzz Bomb, Dr. Bad Vibes commits crimes with unusual inventions from a circus train that can bash through buildings to speed suits that make criminals run really fast. I still can’t get over the fact that he has his brain under glass and never takes off his wild shades. I wonder why that is.
#6) Ty-Lee from Avatar: The Last Air Bender: There are many benders, but this cheerful acrobatic girl has the skill to chi block a bender’s power using pressure points. This makes Ty-Lee a very dangerous opponent along side her friends Mai and Azula. It just goes to show that Ty-Lee may be beautiful, but looks can be deceiving.
#5) Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons: Bob Terwilliger used to be Krusty the Clown’s sidekick until he was put in prison for framing Krusty for armed robbery. On each of Bob’s return appearances, he seeks revenge on Bart while coming up with crazy but ingenious plans like running for Mayor of Springfield and abolishing television, yet it’s always Bart and Lisa who defeat Bob and put him back in prison. Aside from Bob’s dangerous persona, he always ends up in funny situations. That always makes me look forward to Bob’s next appearance, since he’s only a reoccurring villain.
#4) Mystique from X-Men franchise: If there’s one mutant power that makes a villain tough to beat, it’s the ability to shape shift. Mystique is a unique mutant with smooth fighting abilities, but what really makes her interesting is that she can turn into anyone. If she turns into another mutant, she can use their powers against her opponents. It’s very difficult to see through Mystique when she takes another form. This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “Master of Disguise”.
#3) Live Wire from Superman franchise: She was once a radio personality named Leslie Willis. After getting struck by lightning, she became a super villain with the power to control anything electrical. Not only are her powers smooth, Live Wire can easily travel through electrical wires anywhere. What I like most about Live Wire is her witty personality. She always has something funny to say while fighting her enemies, next to Harley Quinn of course.
#2) Baxter Stockman from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise: Once again, the most creative villain is the deranged scientific genius. Stockman isn’t really a much of a fighter on his own, but he can be a very tricky adversary. Whether he’s leading an army of mousers, wearing advanced battle armor, or fighting as a mutant fly, Stockman’s skills always give him an edge that even some of the strongest villains don’t have.
#1) The Riddler from Batman franchise: Batman has faced a huge number of creative villains, but none come as close as Edward Nygma a.k.a. the Riddler. Using his brilliant mind, he comes up with brainteasers that are so advanced that they often have a double meaning. Somehow, Batman is always able to figure them out. After he does, it’s so interesting to see the different angles from the advanced riddles. I’m not sure how the Riddler comes up with those so efficiently, but it’s so cool how he can make a game out of a crime caper apart from the Joker.