Archive for the Monsters Category

MOVIE REVIEW: TREMORS: A COLD DAY IN HELL

Posted in DVD, Gore, Monsters, Movies, Sequels with tags , , , , , , , on May 4, 2018 by darklordbunnykins

graboid in air

The timing of the announcement seemed both odd and strangely fortuitous. Just one day before the May 1 home video release of the latest Tremors sequel, A Cold Day in Hell, the Syfy network declared that it was not picking up the Tremors TV show after all, despite shooting a pilot with the original film’s star Kevin Bacon last year. And while the prospect of seeing Bacon reprise his Valentine McKee character was tempting, perhaps it is for the best, as two Tremors franchises would be just too many Graboids for anyone’s taste. Plus the film series, starring the first film’s other star Michael Gross as cantankerous survivalist Burt Gummer, is, against all odds, entertaining as hell in its own right.

Tremors 6

This sixth Tremors film sees Burt on the verge of having his property in Perfection seized by the government – truly his worst nightmare come true – when he receives a call from scientists in the Canadian Arctic who report Graboid sightings. An incredulous Burt, accompanied once again by his smartass son Travis (Jamie Kennedy) and a small arsenal, hightails it to Canada to deal with the creatures, who turn out to be ancestors of the desert varietals previously seen, this time stirred up by global warming.

burt and graboid

Helmed by Tremors 5: Bloodlines director Don Michael Paul, A Cold Day in Hell sticks to the series’ strength: lean, mean Graboid action and snarky banter between Burt and Travis. The creature effects are impressive, and Gross and Kennedy are endearing as macho idiots who every once in awhile let their guards down to acknowledge their humanity and love for one another.

graboid pounces on jeep

There are weaknesses. Despite plenty of our flags being on display, the film’s Canadian credentials are a bit dodgy. (Even the excuse of global warming cannot hide the fact that the film was shot, like Tremors 5, in South Africa.) And a subplot involving a local military base that feeds into Burt’s conspiracy mindset is never really explored.

But those issues aside, A Cold Day in Hell is a strong Tremors film. Gross’s Burt Gummer is one of the great action movie heroes; a man motivated by resentment and paranoia but also fear. Despite Burt’s bravado, Gross engenders real affection and pathos with his portrayal of a rugged individualist whose devotion to his ideals has cost him dearly.

Leaving that seriousness aside, Cold Day is also fun, with lots of ooey, gooey Graboid guts splattered across the screen. We’re not sure where the franchise can go from here (Graboids in space? ), but wherever Burt Gummer goes, we are sure to follow.

MOVIE REVIEW: PACIFIC RIM UPRISING

Posted in Aliens, Eye Candy, Monsters, Movies, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Sequels with tags , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2018 by darklordbunnykins

Film Title: Pacific Rim Uprising

No, Pacific Rim Uprising is not horror, but it has monsters – sorry, kaiju – so close enough for The DLB. It’s also not horrible, which was what I have to admit I was expecting from this sequel to Guillermo Del Toro’s only okay original. In fact, in many ways, it is a better movie that is even more fun.

Uprising takes place a decade after the Breach was closed. Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), son of war hero Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba, seen here in hologram), has been living a life of petty crime in a coastal city devastated by the giant monsters when he meets Amara (Cailee Spaeny), an orphan with a talent for making Jaegers out of junk. Arrested together, they are sent to Jaeger pilot boot camp where we learn that Jake washed out of the academy years ago, despite his potential. Now, in a bid to both honour his father and get out from underneath his shadow, he agrees to train a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including Amara. Activate redemption narrative now.

Film Title: Pacific Rim Uprising

Less obvious are some of the rather clever plot twists that follow, involving, sorry, cool new iterations of both Jaegers and kaiju. In fact, Uprising is surprisingly clever, despite a fellow critic’s not disrespectful pronouncement that it is “big, dumb, and fun.” Big and fun? For sure, but I also admired how director/co-writer Steven S. DeKnight and his team found a way to both honour Guillermo’s first film – which, to me, always felt more like one of his one-for-the-studio films, like Blade II, than, say, something personal The Shape of Water – and expanded that universe.

Film Title: Pacific Rim Uprising

Credit much of that success to Boyega’s charisma and humour, as well as expanded roles for scientists Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) and Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day). Their dynamic is particularly entertaining, even if it has changed significantly from the first film. (Go see it to find out what I mean.)

Film Title: Pacific Rim Uprising

Yes, there are some amazing new kaiju and some awesome mayhem, but the focus is as much on relationships and story, making Pacific Rim Uprising that rare sequel that, to my twisted mind, surpasses its predecessor.

 

MOVIE REVIEW: ANNIHILATION

Posted in Aliens, Beauty, Eye Candy, Fantasy, Monsters, Movies, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2018 by darklordbunnykins

ANNIHILATION

Paramount’s decision to sell Annihilation to Netflix for all territories outside Canada, the US, and China is great if it gets the film a wider audience than would pay to see it in a theatre. The shame is that Ex-Machina writer-director Alex Garland’s adaptation of the Jeff VanderMeer novel is a stunning work of art whose natural home is a darkened movie house. Indeed, on a big screen with a great sound system, Annihilation‘s thrills, chills, and ideas are that much more profound and intense.

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Left to right: Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson in ANNIHILATION, from Paramount Pictures and Skydance.

Natalie Portman (Black Swan) plays Lena, a soldier-turned-scientist whose military husband Kane (Ex-Machina‘s Oscar Isaac) returns to her a year after going missing. His assignment: to investigate the Shimmer, a mysterious phenomenon slowly engulfing the southern coast and making its way towards populated areas. An ill Kane is re-captured by the military, and Lena goes with him. Eventually she persuades Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the leader of the next team to go into the Shimmer, to let her come along. What she discovers there is best left unexplained, as it is alternately astonishing, beautiful, and terrifying.

poster

Indeed, while the IMDb classifies Annihilation as “Adventure, Drama, Fantasy,” it possesses a bloody streak of body horror. Some of the most genuinely weird and wild images ever seen in a big-budget Hollywood production are on display here, and its visual and thematic debt to both John Carpenter’s The Thing and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Annihilation mark it as a bold work of imagination.

WRETCHED REVIEWS: TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D

Posted in Gore, Monsters, Movies, Reviews, Sequels, Serial Killers, Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2013 by darklordbunnykins
Heather (Alexandra Daddario) is menaced by Leatherface (Dan Yeager)

Heather (Alexandra Daddario) is menaced by Leatherface (Dan Yeager)

TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D

Starring Alexandra Daddario, Trey Songz, and Tania Raymonde

Directed by John Luessenhop

Written by Adam Marcus & Debra Sullivan and Kirsten Elms

VVS Films

 

Nearly 40 years after its release, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is no longer “just” a horror classic. It is a brand, with the direct sequel Texas Chainsaw 3D, out today, just the latest iteration in a line of sequels, prequels, and remakes. The fact that this new Chainsaw manages to draw fresh blood makes it all the more impressive because, really, who thought this might actually be good?

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WRETCHED REVIEWS: CITADEL

Posted in Devils, Monsters, Movies, Reviews with tags , , , , , , on November 16, 2012 by darklordbunnykins

CITADEL

Starring Aneurin Barnard, Wunmi Mosaku and James Cosmo

Written and directed by Ciaran Foy

Mongrel Media

With the DLB about to become a father himself, the Irish horror film Citadel (which was mostly filmed in Glasgow) – about a single father trying to protect his infant daughter against evil – hit home pretty hard, even if its foundation is not quite rock solid.

Aneurin Barnard stars as Tommy Cowley, a young father left to raise his infant daughter Emma alone when his pregnant wife is attacked by a gang of hooded thugs in their crumbling council estate high rise. She is left comatose and he is left a single father crippled by agoraphobia. Tommy is helped by a caring (and attractive) nurse (Mosaku), but an encounter with a volatile priest (Cosmo) leaves him fearing for his and Emma’s safety as the thugs – who may in fact not quite be human – return.

Barnard is utterly convincing as the fearful Tommy. Beyond the makeup that makes him look as though he has not slept in a year, Barnard radiates sheer terror but also evinces a steely strength as a poor young dad who will do anything to protect the only family he has left.

Writer-director Ciaran Foy, making his feature debut, is smart enough not to reveal too much too soon. The nature of the hooded creatures that attack Tommy remains mysterious until near the film’s end, and Foy drops enough strange visual cues (empty buses, deserted streets, half-glimpsed horrors) to evoke Adrian Lyne’s classic mindfuck film Jacob’s Ladder. Things get a bit silly at the end as Tommy and the priest face off against a high rise full of the feral things, with back story filled in a bit too quickly by the priest, but the end result is mostly horrifying.

With its near-apocalyptic vision suburban blight and a creeping sense of menace, Citadel is one of most dread-filled (and least dreadful) horror films of 2012.

 

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Citadel opens in Toronto at Yonge & Dundas, with more cities to follow.

 

WRETCHED REVIEWS: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4

Posted in Devils, Ghosts, Halloween, Monsters, Movies, Reviews, Rue Morgue, Sequels, Supernatural, Witches with tags , , , , , , , on October 19, 2012 by darklordbunnykins

 

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4

Starring Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively and Katie Featherston

Directed by Ariel Schulman & Henry Joost

Written by Christopher Landon

Paramount

 

Rue Morgue Magazine received a lot of incredulous feedback when they published my review of the first Paranormal Activity film. I had written that it was the scariest filmgoing experience I had ever had; that was misinterpreted as “Paranormal Activity is the scariest movie ever made.”

It is true: the Paranormal Activity films are best experienced in a movie theatre, which is why Paramount uses night vision footage of screaming preview audiences to hype each new film.

So it will be interesting to see how audiences react to PA4. The guy to my left at last night’s screening was talking, checking his email and texting throughout, and said, “Thank God that’s over” at the end, while the four teen guys to my right were vocal about their enthusiasm for each set piece. (“Bitch got owned!” greeted the death of one character.)

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WRETCHED REVIEWS: FRANKENWEENIE

Posted in Art, Eye Candy, Fantasy, Goth, Monsters, Movies, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 5, 2012 by darklordbunnykins

FRANKENWEENIE

Voice cast includes Charlie Tahan, Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara

Directed by Tim Burton

Written by John August

Disney

It is slightly ironic that 30 years after Disney allegedly fired then fledgling animator Tim Burton for wasting their money making his (somewhat) macabre short movie Frankenweenie that the studio would hire the iconoclastic director to flesh out the concept in stop-motion and at feature-length. But Burton’s legacy of creativity and profit (he returned to the Mouse House to direct Alice in Wonderland) means that the professional oddball can pretty much do what he wants, with or without Johnny Depp.

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