Saturday, April 30, 2016

Netflix and Review: Daredevil- Season 2 (Part 2)

At last, I'm finally done.  Unfortunately...I'm done.  While we all bide our time until September, let me look at the rest of this Season.
With The Punisher temporarily put away, Daredevil can more easily split his focus to the personal issue he's having to deal with.
Elektra, the woman from his past, is trying to get him to uncover some deep evil in the City.
When Stick shows up, his offer of help is not exactly in the way that you might think.  It's almost like he's an asshole or something.
As a side-note, it is worth noting that Punisher still has one of the most bad-ass moments of the whole Season in his story.  It just gets less and less focus as the Season wraps up.
With all of their pasts coming back to haunt them, can Elektra and Daredevil win the day?
Or will these guys put a stop to any sort of happy Ending?  To find out, watch the Show('s second half).
The worst thing that I can really say here is that The Punisher becomes less and less shown as the Season comes to an End.  Mind you, this is Daredevil though.  Besides, Ninjas.

As was just announced, he's got his own Show coming soon, so bring on the punishment!

Friday, April 29, 2016

New Import Flix: Jeruzalem (2015) {SPOILER Version}

If you didn't get enough from the SPOILER-Free Version, this one allows me more freedom to explain all of the ridiculous stuff.  You were warned, so no bitching.  Deal?

Alright, now I have free reign.  Today's Film is Jeruzalem, a 2015 Found Footage Film made in and set in Israel.  You'd think that they'd be able to spell the City's name right then!  I kid, I kid.  I guess they were going for the whole World War Z thing...although it is hardly topical in 2015, right?  They are either too late to be topical or too early to be topical for the Sequel.  That's still happening, right?  This Story involves a young woman and her friend going to The Holy Land on Vacation.  Once there, they change their itinerary when they meet a guy.  This brings them to a place they won't want to be later when all Hell, somewhat literally, breaks loose.  This is Found Footage, so everything you expect is here.  Cutting away, annoying POV, pointless jump scares- the usual.  The Film has some new tricks to play, although they are mostly just the same tricks repackaged.  There's not much new here if you really think about it, which is kind of a shame.  They did replace the Camera with Smart Glass, so...2015?  As mentioned above and in the Title, this is the Review to see if you want SPOILERS.  I have to give them, since, well, I can't tell you the stupid stuff very well otherwise.  To find out more, read on..
Back in the 1970s, a lady returned from the dead, failed to be exercised by all 3 Religious Groups and was then killed.  Thankfully, someone was there with a 25-lb camera to film it!
In the Present, a young Jewish-American girl is given Smart Glass by her Dad before her trip to Israel.  This...this is your view now, folks.
They go to Jerusalem when they meet some guy who insists.  After some filler...I mean, a few days, he shows her some footage he found on the Vatican Darknet.  I've now used that expression twice.
So here is where the SPOILER stuff comes in.  You were warned...

Everyone is suddenly being rushed out as chaos ensues.  Our Heroine goes INTO AN ASYLUM to break out the guy and sees what is going on- freaky Demon People!
Oh and there's also a giant Golem/Demon/whatever in the City.  Much like Cloverfield, the Filmmakers aren't interested in showing you much of that, so enjoy cheap (both Budget and writing-wise) scares instead.
To keep the Cloverfield thing going, they eventually go into some Tunnels.

Oh and they take the shot from you-know-what...although it doesn't actually close out the Film.
Borrowing from REC 2 now, we have 'Zombie Rules' for Demonic Possession with bites/scratches turning you into a Demon-thing.  It may be a stretch, but the 'person killing themselves to stop the transformation' bit was in Diary of the Dead...so I'm counting that too.
As the Film comes to a close, our heroine transforms, with her POV saving the Film a few stacks by not showing the effect.

Borrowing a little from Chronicle, she, now transformed, flies off as a creature to, well, end the World...or something.  The End.
Despite how it appears, nothing much has changed.  As stated, this is basically a mish-mash of stuff from previous Found Footage Films with a slight polish, but not much more.  The setting is Israel, which gives you some translation issues and 'fish out of water' stuff.  This could easily be anywhere though, be it Madrid, Paris or Tokyo.  The subbing of Smart Glass for the Camera adds some minor differences, but not much overall.  Note to Filmmakers- don't make this into a thing now.  The biggest draw or detriment to these kinds of Films is the Lead.  She has some good moments, but tends to break down pretty easily.  She goes right to yelling or crying way too easily.  Insert sexist joke here.  I'm not going to say that the Film doesn't do some of the cliche moments right or anything- they just indulge in them too much.  It is hard to avoid a sense of familiarity, that's all.  If a Film is good enough, I can give it more of a pass.  In this case, the Film just isn't.  The Pacing is all over the map, the good moments are too spaced out and it just too damn generic.  What do you think, never quite in frame Giant Demon?
Next up, some more mystery stuff.  Let's see if it can get stranger than this one.  Stay tuned...

Quick Reviews: Black Zoo (1963)

Approximately 30 years after Lionel Atwill went crazy working for a Zoo, we got to see Michael Gough go crazy running one...
One night, this random lady is killed by a Tiger while out for a walk.  New York City, right?
Later at a Zoo, the Owner- Gough- leads a Tour.

Yes, I do realize that this is a terrible Print.  Big deal- wanna fight about it?
As it turns out, Gough is WAY too into his Animals.  He also has a mute sidekick on loan from House of Wax.

He also kills people.  Way to bury the lead, me!
One of his men kills his Tiger, so he is, in turn, fed to a Lion.  The circle of life?
He's also part of a weird Cult that worships the Animals and does a Ceremony to put the Tiger's spirit in a young one.  Nice hat.
After a couple more killings, Gough turns on his wife when she tries to leave.  We eventually learn that the mute sidekick is Gough's son, who went mute when he saw did kill his Mother.

What an ignoble death for Alfred.  The End.
Fun, but dated stuff.  Black Zoo is a fun little Movie that just goes for the crazy.  Tiger attack in the park- check.  Lion attack at home- check.  Sneak attack by a Gorilla- big check!  It is all a bit silly, while also trying to be really dark.  As a result, it almost feels more so at times!  For example, he has a dramatic moment explaining how he won't sell the Zoo to some sleazy guy and then sics a Lion on him (which was just calmly waiting outside).  It is treated so seriously that it really works on a different level.  For his part, Gough nails the role.  He is maniacal in private, but puts on a good show around others.  That said, there is some odd filler with some school children and a monkey show.  I don't know how necessary it was to see the whole performance really.  I guess it was either that or have a really silly Comic show up every 10 minutes.  All in all, Black Zoo is a bizarre, hidden gem.  It is apparently available on DVD, although MGM only trusts the market enough for a 'burn-on-demand DVD-R' release and not a full-fledged one.  If you would market it, this kind of thing might sell, guys.  Don't make me sic the Gorilla on you...
Considering the quality of Print available, not a bad Film.  It is a bit dated, so just bear that in mind.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Quick Reviews: Jeruzalem (2015) {SPOILER-Free Version}

One one hand, this is a new Release (only playing in January in the U.S.) and I don't want to SPOIL it.  On the other hand, I can't explain how dumb it is without SPOILERS.  So let me give it two different Reviews.  Pick the one you like...

The struggle for the last 60 years (give or take) has been whether to have 2 States or 1.  What if someone else decided for them though?  Let's see...
Back in the 1970s, some Found Footage stuff happens in Israel with this seemingly-dead lady coming back.  Wait- did something actually happen before the last Hour in one of these?
Don't get your hopes up!

It is back to tedium as this girl in New Jersey planning to go to Israel in the present.  She got Smart Glasses from her Dad and, yeah, this is how the Movie is 'filmed.'
Her and her friend run across a guy who convinces them to go to Jerusalem first, but he discovers something weird on the Vatican Darknet.

I just used the words 'Vatican Darknet.'  How have things come to this?
A day later, he starts acting crazy and is taken away.  Our Heroines are confused, but go on with the trip until...
An average day in Jerusalem.

I kid, I kid...although something bad does happen.
With all Hell breaking loose (somewhat literally), can they make it out?  To find out, watch the Film.
A slightly-interesting veneer on the same old stuff.  Jeruzalem has some legitimate scares and unique visuals.  The change of setting is an interesting one at times.  Monster taught us that just going to somewhere Foreign is not enough though.  Thankfully, this is not nearly that bad.  It isn't really good though.  The gimmick of it being Smart Glass only goes so far and doesn't factor much into the Plot.  Basically, it plays the part of a Cell Phone, only it is attached to a person's face.  Once you get past that, this is pretty routine.  Our Heroine, for example, is really strong...until she starts yelling and crying all the time.  The situation is big and grand...but they don't focus that much on it.  Without going too in-depth (I'll save that for the SPOILER Review), the thing has a real Cloverfield vibe to it.  That's the biggest problem- familiarity.  The Film feels like every other Found Footage Film at some point, varying from moment to moment.  On the surface, this is different, but it is the same thing deep down.  Need more proof?  Well, case in point...
More exciting at times than some of these...but just as dumb.  Being marginally-better at times is just not enough for this Sub-Genre.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Old School Quick Reviews: Murder in the Zoo (1933)

A special thanks to Svengoolie for sending a strange gem my way.  This is some old-school, pre-Code goodness...
In this Film, a crazy guy (Lionel Atwill) is a super-jealous Big Game Hunter (before the Game Series) that does a horrible thing to a guy who dares talk to his wife.

To note, the infamous Hays Code put rules (sometimes Racist) in place to control content.  This was before said Code...
Basically, situations keep arising that put Atwill's wife near other men.  To be fair, she does plan to leave him later, so it's not like he's paranoid for nothing.

Unfortunately for the other people, there's a snake involved (even if it is from the wrong Continent).
The guy is so crazy that he kills a suitor at a Party designed to raise money for the Zoo he helped fill...thus ruining everything.
To break up the vicious killings- which include tiger attack, alligator attacks and poisoning-, there is lots of random Comedy from this guy.  He's not subtle.
As things escalate, he even kills his wife!  All of this can't come to a good end, can it?
Nope.  He tries to escape by setting the big cats free (letting them legit fight on-screen...damn!), but is killed by a snake.  He truly was a pioneer.  The End.
Damn!  For a Universal Film older than any living relative I have, this one is dark.  Mind you, this is actually a Paramount Film sold to Universal for...well, you know.  In any case, this Story sure is bleak and not as dated as you'd think.  The only parts that stand out (for the wrong reason)- the Charlie Ruggles bits.  Don't get me wrong- I can see why many people found him funny.  Here, though, his presence is just plain bizarre.  It would be like if you had Carrot Top working at the Murder Hostel in Hostel to cut back to between bleedings and maimings.  Mind you, Carrot Top's plastic surgery-shaped face is scarier than most things in Hostel- boom!  The Hays Code is controversial for a number of obvious reasons.  It set arbitrary guidelines for Films, led to censorship and talked quite a bit about adhering to 'divine law.'  Yeah, that's just code for 'Racist White Folks hiding behind the Bible.'  That said, stuff like this shows you that there was at least some sort of controversy to inspire it.  It is certainly 'worse' than Dr. Frankenstein referring to himself as God or Scarface (the original, kids) being a glamorous criminal.  Censorship is still wrong, but damn this stuff can be dark at times.  It makes you wonder how it would work in the 1960s...
Dark stuff- even by today's standards.  Sometimes the stuff that freaked out your Grandparents still has some life.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Quick Reviews: The Blood Harvest (2016)

My sort-of-native-Homeland has given the World a great many things.  Is Ireland's greatest gift this 2016 Slasher Film though?  Let's see...
A masked killer is on the loose in Ireland and he's killing young women in gruesome ways.  As long as the Potatoes are safe though...
A rough-around-the-edges Detective has worked the case for years with no luck.  Well, it gets worse- he's fired!
The killings continue, in spite of one victim lamenting how odd and cliche her situation is.

Just to note: saying that you're acting that way and still doing it is not ironic.
With the Police pretty ineffectual, will the killings ever stop?!?
Will this young woman eventually be killed or will they just keep moving her around for half the Film?
Will our grizzled former Cop solve the case or will he just be another victim?  To find out, watch the Film, me lads!
Not too bad, but not too great.  The big problem- variety.  The Film tries to compensate for a lack of variety in its action by moving it around.  Seeing what is basically the same Scene/moment in four different shacks- not much better.  Admittedly, the repetition can be done worse- like in Mummy Maniac or Kill the Scream Queen.  I will say that their low-budget F/X work is not bad at all.  It is a shame that is mostly being used for Torture Porn stuff like sewing lips shut or cutting out eyeballs.  I've said this before- gross isn't scary.  I'll recoil from seeing a roadkill skunk in the road, but I'm not 'scared' of it.  How is that distinction so hard to figure out?!?  This is mostly just a Gore F/X Demo Reel for the people behind it- kind of like Morbid.  Both Films are okay as stand-alone ventures, but probably do more to help get the men behind the make-up some work (hopefully).  I won't SPOIL the twist that comes, other than by saying that there is one.  Honestly, I doubt too many people will see the out-of-left-field reveal coming...mostly because it isn't set up at all.  It would be like if Unbreakable had no Scenes of Bruce Willing being invulnerable and then told you that he had super-powers.  In some way, the twist either kills most of the Film or makes it infinitely better.  I can't say how you'll feel since I haven't yet mastered Omniscience.  If you like low-budget gore, this is for you.  If you like a real Story, look elsewhere.  Speaking of looking, I swear to you that this is a Shot from the Film (honest)...
A decent, low-budget effort that turns out to be a little one-note.  You'll definitely love or hate the twist though.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Holiday Flix: The Last Days of Man on Earth

Well, it's less about Earth than I thought...but screw it.  Today's Film is The Last Days of Man on Earth, also known as The Final Programme.  Let's be honest- the first Title is better, right?  Besides the Title connection, why am I doing this Movie?  The answer- Robert Fuest.  If you don't know, Fuest Directed the greatest Film ever made- The Abominable Dr. Phibes.  Need I say more?  Well, I will anyways.  He also made the quirkier Sequel, the surprisingly-straight ...And Soon the Darkness, as well as numerous Episodes of the original Avengers TV Show.  His big thing- amazing Set Direction.  It may not sound like much, but his Films always looked great!  Unfortunately, his downfall was The Devil's Rain and he slowly degraded into doing TV work before retiring.  While it saddens me that the man is not alive to see people like me praising his work, I will do it all the same.  Yes, I will also eventually do his TV work, though I'm somewhat reticent about it.  Before his sudden fall, he managed to make this weird Film.  It is about...well, alot of weird things.  It is part-Science Fiction, part-Thriller and part-Spy Film.  I really want to check the book out to compare it- even if there are like 65 books ahead of it.  It is hard to sum up, so let me just jump right in...
A rich guy- Cornelius- is pondering the fate of mankind after his father's death.  His creepy pal ain't helping matters.
As he plans to save his Sister and blow up his house (don't ask), he goes through some very Fuest-like Sets.

Don't you wish this was a real place?!?
This mysterious group agrees to help Cornelius, but they have an ulterior motive.  What is it?
At the house, the step-brother has set up a serious of bizarre traps that involve gas, hidden doors and lights that induce seizures.  Wait- he invented Anime?!?
After a series of fights, Cornelius has one last chase with his rival- in some beautifully-shot locations- and kills him.
With nothing left to do, he joins the woman on a trip to Lapland.  He learns of the secret cabal of which she is a part.  They have planned for the end of the world with the power of Math and a computer that is probably less powerful than an iPhone4.
So what is their big plan- which involves a bunch of suspended brains in jars- and what is their goal?
They want to create a self-sustaining lifeform.  That means that it is both Genders and somehow reproduces with itself.  No, really.
After some 2001-style imagery, the creature- which is the woman and the man together- emerges as some sort of primordial ape man and leaves (to some ironic Jazz Music).  The End?
 Weird.  Double weird.  Triple weird!  This whole thing is just bizarre and banal.  It is an early version of such oddities as The Lobster in that regard.  It is a bit flipped though.  That Film was all about people saying weird things in a plain-spoken manner with really normal visuals.  This Film is about people saying fairly-normal things surrounded by bizarre visuals.  Aside from the ones I showed you, Last Days features lens effects, colored gas, background mud wrestling and a Nazi Submarine.  The pace is slow and steady, but the mysterious Plot should keep you hooked.  Strange things happen at every corner, be it shifting rooms or a creepy guy more interested in straightening a Pinball Machine than a woman in front of him.  Besides, our Hero says 'Napalm' like 'Nah- palm' a few times- gold.  It is definitely for everyone.  It veers quite a bit into 'arty for arty's sake.'  I'll grant you that.  In the End, The Last Days of Man on Earth is a weird little gem that needs to be celebrated with its kind.  You never know what you'll find if you stop to take a second look sometimes...
A whole lot of weird that eventually pays off for the more patient viewer.  If you like this kind of stuff, it is right up your alley!