Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Liam Neeson's Taken 2 (Part 2)

Click here for Part 2!

Old Man visits Bryan in his cell, revealing Marko was his son and that he's taking him to Albania to pay for his crimes against his family. He has Lenore brought in, cutting the side of her throat open and hanging her upside down for her to bleed out. He plans to put Kim in the worst brothel they can find, even worse than that weird construction site one in the first film. Damn, THAT'S a threat! Old Man gets call from the other thugs saying that they've lost Kim, so he leaves to deal with this himself. You want something done right... Bryan is able to get free and cut Lenore down, but does nothing for the gaping would on neck. Ahh, I am sure she's FINE.
He calls Kim again, having her use grenades as the most dangerous homing signals of all time. She arrives at the building he's in, dropping the gun she took down into a vent. Wait, that wasn't for her self defense? Why didn't Bryan have her take a gun too? He is kind of all over field with this whole “protecting his daughter from harm” thing.  The thugs spot Kim and begin to chase her across the closely knit rooftops of Istanbul. Bryan shoots his way out of building, arriving in time to save Kim. I would have really liked to see Kim deal with this herself to really cement how much stronger she has become. Oh well. Bryan and Kim steal a taxi cab and go back to the building to get Lenore, who is being loaded into a van by the thugs.

A Ghoul Versus Liam Neeson's Taken 2 (Part 1)

Come on Kim, move! Faster Kim faster! Go go go! Move! Come on, go! Move Kim! Keep going Kim! Move! Faster! Come on!”*

*Dialogue from Taken 2, NOT a pornographic movie

The first Taken came out in 2008 and was not expected to do much in terms of box office appeal. Instead it became a huge blockbuster smash, as it was first real action thriller in YEARS to have an actor who can actually act in it. While I was not a fan of it, I can appreciate why it was successful. But in this day and age of cinema, every single successful and unique property has to be exploited for maximum potential so Taken 2 was put into production no matter how ridiculous a sequel would be. After all, putting the same man in increasingly implausible situations never EVER gets silly, right Die Hard series?

The first movie was the major league debut of director Pierre Morel, a cinematographer who CERTAINLY knew his way around generically bland action movies with fare like the first two Transporter movie and War. He apparently too busy doing NOTHING when the sequel was green lit, so directing honours went to the awesomely named Oliver Megaton. Looking at his filmography, Megaton is also an expert in dull action movies, having directed the THIRD Transporter movie and Colombiana. He also served as the second unit director for your favourite film and mine, Hitman, so this man knows how to sterilize ANYTHING that might get exciting. Will Taken 2 be able to recapture the spirit of original, or will it end up like most action sequels and turn into a glorified remake lacking what made the original special? Let's see with A Ghoul Versus Taken 2!

A Ghoul Versus X-Files: I Want To Believe (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Amanda and Xzibit go to search their office, Mulder going with them and leaving Scully behind. This is the part of the movie where I realized I was utterly bored. I just can't believe the team that made the X-Files was behind this, it was always one of the slickest and most engrossing shows on all of television. You could say the same thing about the, first movie, but this one... it's torture. And the worst part is there's still have an hour to go.  AN HOUR.

Xzibit and his men search the office while Amanda and Mulder wait outside. Leoben, carrying an organ transplant bag, sees the FBI agents are quietly sneaks out. However he is spotted by Amanda and Mulder outside, dropping his bag and running off. They chase him in a VERY long sequence that unfortunately doesn't go through the back of busy restaurant, but instead winds up at a construction site.

Leoben manages to lose Mulder and gets the drop on Amanda, pushing her down an empty elevator shaft to her death. I sure am glad they gave her significant screen time for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON! Back at the offices, Xzibit opens the medical bag that Leoben dropped and finds the missing agent's head inside. Mulder meets with Scully at the hospital, where she tells him Joe has advanced lung cancer. They go to visit Joe, who has had a vision of Leoben. Scully shows him a picture of Baldie, whom Joe recognizes as one of his victims. He thinks that was his connection to the FBI agent, God sent him visions to save her. Scully asks Joe if the FBI agent is still alive, he replies yes. She looks knowingly at Mulder.

A Ghoul Versus X-Files: I Want To Believe (Part 1)

To find the truth, you must believe.”

In my previous review, I talked about how I was an obsessed X-Files fan back in the day. I was rabid about the show and my house was pretty much a shrine to it from books to magazines to toys, I even had the not-so-bad FMV PC game they put out. Like all love affairs, it came to a crashing halt with one party feeling betrayed by the other. Before I talked about how the fifth season of the show is where things started to go wrong, but it wasn't bad by any means. You could just see the cracks starting to form. As the years went by the cracks grew worse and worse until they gave way to the Doggett that was the eighth season. Disaster. I meant to say Disaster.

That's when I jumped ship and never looked back. I mean that too, I never saw another episode ever again. I've never even bothered to look up how one of my favourite shows of all time ended because I just quit caring completely. This also means I never saw the second X-Files movie when it came out in 2008, but judging from the box office receipts no one else did either. It's safe to say everyone was still watching this little indie film that came out the previous week that I'm POSITIVE you've never heard of, I think it was called the Dark Kite or something like that. It had a circus clown in it doing magic tricks with pencils, it was pretty freaking weird and has faded into the obscurity of time. Let's just hope this movie is Doggett-free because it's now time for A Ghoul Versus X-Files: I Want To Believe!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Ghoul Versus X-Files: Fight The Future (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Mulder goes to meet with Kurtzweil, catching him up on the bees and the corn. We learn Kurtzweil had no idea about any of this, and Mulder oddly gets mad at him for “using him” to get information. Um, didn't Kurtzweil help you out a ton Mulder? Mulder's reaction here just makes no sense. Speaking of no sense, how did Kurtzweil know all the stuff he did? He's not a member of the Syndicate but is involved with them enough to know some very specific stuff (i.e. the bodies already being dead) that the average person couldn't have. A little back story here would have been nice.

Later, Scully goes to Mulder's apartment where he tells him she's being transferred to Utah so she's decided to resign. Mulder gives a very heartfelt confession to her about how much he needs her in his life, which would so make my eyes watery if my tear ducts hadn't rotten away during my untimely death. They hug. Scully kisses Mulder's forehead, and he takes her face in his hands. The moment millions of fans have been rabidly awaiting nears. They draw closer, their lips millimeters away from touching... when suddenly that MOTHERFUCKING BEE crawls out from Scully's collar and stings her. OH MY GOD, I can't believe this didn't cause riots in theaters. This is the most cruel and insidious fake-out perpetuated on loyal fans since the Phantom Menace.

A Ghoul Versus X-Files: Fight The Future (Part 1)

"Trust no one."

The X-Files was one of those shows that owes its massive success to coming out at EXACTLY the right time, even moreso than its quality writing, excellent acting, and overall style. See also LOST. It started in 1993, an era where the cultural pulse was based around UFOs and massive conspiracies. Every year it grew bigger and bigger, until 1997 when it hit its pop culture zenith. Agents Mulder and Scully were THE coolest kids in school, and the show's influence could suddenly be seen everywhere.  Even Baywatch did a spin-off show ripping off the premise wholesale, only with a lot more mermaids and frozen Vikings.

The fifth season is where everything began to go wrong. The show began making all the mistakes that these shows do when they get too popular: it began doing everything it could to try to bring it every type of viewer imaginable. We got episodes written by famous authors that had no idea how to write within the show's rules, gimmick episodes, and all kinds of distracting celebrity cameos. By now it was a fully established cultural phenomenon, so naturally the next step was the big budget feature film. Sadly X-Files: THE BROADWAY MUSICAL never materialized.

Now the puzzling thing is they wanted to make the movie accessible to non-fans, so what did they do? Create a Monster of the Week film that wouldn't require any knowledge of the show besides “they're FBI agents that deal with weird stuff”? No, they went with a movie completely based off the show's insanely dense and complicated ongoing storyline, something so difficult even the hardcore fans couldn't fully explain it. It's okay though, the show's creator couldn't either.

A Ghoul Versus Christmas Evil

Happy holidays from here at A Ghoul Versus! Let's celebrate this cherished time of year with the only way I know how, watching poorly written characters kill other poorly written characters!”

Silent Night, Deadly Night exploded onto the scene in 1984 amidst endless controversy, as it was the world's first Christmas horror film to feature a killer Santa Claus. Parental groups and critics rallied against it and its tasteless subject matter and marketing, which was plastered everywhere with the image of Father Christmas carrying an ax. Horror fans ate it up with a spoon though, as this film actually BEAT Wes Craven's epic A Nightmare on Elm Street at the box office on their opening weekend. The film was eventually yanked from theaters in response to the controversy, but its legacy was already cemented.

However, it WASN'T the first “psycho Santa” movie. That honour goes to today's film, 1980's Christmas Evil, or You Better Watch Out as it was originally known. Written and directed by Lewis Jackson, this film came and went without making a sound but has gone on to earn a substantial cult following in the years since. I'm choosing to review this one not because I seem to only review horror themed holiday films, but because this is LEGENDARY for having one of the most WTF endings in movie history. That's certainly more than enough to earn it a spot in my review queue, so let's see if it can live up to the hype with A Ghoul Versus Christmas Evil!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Stripped To Kill

Take a chair as we welcome the Wonderful World of Roger Corman to A Ghoul Versus...!”

It is almost mind blowing it's taken me this long to review a film that wasn't produced by the immortal Roger Corman. For those few of you not familiar with the name, he is a producer who has made a career out of making VERY cheap movies in a VERY short time, having over FOUR HUNDRED credited to his name and is still going strong. Although he has definitely helped create some all-time classics in the form of Death Race 2000, Rock 'n' Roll High School, and Children of the Corn, he is probably best known for hundreds of exploitation films featuring everyone's favourite sex and violence.

One such example is today's film, 1987's Stripped to Kill, a certified cult classic that RULED late night Cinemax broadcasts back in the day. With it's awesome tag line of “A Maniac is killing strippers. Detective Sheehan has one weapon to stop him. Her body.”, what's NOT to love about that premise? Chosen to play the title role was Kay Lenz, an actress of minor acclaim in the 1970s and 80s, including a highly memorable spot as the object of Rod Stewart's crossing the line stalker affections in the 1984 music video for his hit “Infatuation”. Helming the director's chair was Katt Shea, an actress turned director like many of the alumni of the so-called “Corman Film School”. Stripped to Kill was her debut film, though she would go on to find much bigger success in Poison Ivy and the Rage: Carrie 2.

Stripped to Kill has maintained an enduring legacy over the years to the point where it was just released on DVD earlier this month by the MAGNIFICENT distribution company Scorpion Releasing, who specialize in reviving long forgotten films that deserve some love. They're even planning a blu-ray release of this down the road, showing they have a true understanding of how movies should be done. I think it's high time to see what Stripped to Kill has done to inspire such a loyal fan base, so get out your dollar bills and get ready to make it rain with A Ghoul Versus Stripped To Kill!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Uwe Boll's House Of The Dead (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Jordan and Greg run afoul of some zombies, leading to a HILARIOUSLY bad sequence featuring the actors running straight into the camera while it's held about a foot away from their faces. Greg manages to evade the zombies by hiding under a hill while they sniff around overhead in a shot that looks SUSPICIOUSLY like when the Hobbits did the exact same thing with the Ringwraiths in Lord of the Rings. Boll must have really liked that movie a lot. This only buys him a few minutes though, as he eventually gets surrounded by the zombies who can now leap into frame like Spider-Man. They dogpile on him to put him out of our misery, but then he's... standing all alone in the forest while the camera rotates around him?! Ohhhhhh, my head hurts so bad right now.

Back to Kirk and the gang of idiots, where they've decided to return to the cabin for some reason. Jordan returns, having written off Greg as a lost cause when she found the pistol she gave him lying on the ground. Kirk takes everyone to one of his crates so they can arm up, cracking “Let me introduce you to my little friend!” as he opens it up. Hey now Kirk, you're in my good graces, don't go fucking it up with shitty one liners ripped off from infinitely better movies. He pulls out a giant gun, joking that size DOES matter. FUCK. YOU. KIRK. Now armed to the teeth, and breasts in the case of Fencer, they approach the cabin. The outside is swarming with zombies, so it's time for another insanely dull shootout! Yay... Only THIS time Boll splices in more footage from the video game, and it's not transitions, it's just... shots of someone playing the game. I don't... how...NO ONE told Boll how imbecilic this looked?! I can literally feel my brain cells dying every second I spend watching this, and I already have a dead zombie brain!

A Ghoul Versus Uwe Boll's House Of The Dead (Part 1)

A Uwe Boll movie? More like House of the DREAD!”

What is there to say about writer/director Uwe Boll that hasn't already been said? To call him a schlockmaster is almost a complement since schlocky films are among some of the most enjoyable type of movies to watch. His films are famous for redefining terrible thanks to his lack of cinematic skills, scripts that all feel like rough drafts, Amateur Hour actors, and WOEFULLY low budgets. In his case though, none of this comes off charming like it does in some of film's more famous movies, where directors were at least TRYING to make a good film despite their limitations.

In Boll's case they aren't made for the love of the “language of cinema”, but for the love of money. No duh, right? What movie isn't? In Boll's case however, it's a little different. Thanks to the batshit crazy tax laws of Germany, if you invest money into a movie that is filmed there not only is it fully deductible from your taxes, you get a DELAY in having to pay your taxes for the year AND your tax bracket lowers. If you're rich enough in a high level tax bracket, investing in one of Boll's guaranteed to flop movies, you will actually MAKE MONEY BACK. This is how Boll has become one of the most prolific directors of the decade, as I imagine there are German mutli-millionaires tripping over themselves to throw money at Video Game: The Movie Part 26.

The more shoddy and haphazardly he makes a movie, the more money he makes for himself and his investors. I imagine he's probably a HERO to the wealthy class of his home country by now, because he's been at this for well over ten years now. Germany has since changed this crass exploitation of its laws, but considering he's made TWENTY-TWO films since 2003 it's safe to say he's found another loop hole in the system.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Ghoul Versus The November Man (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Alice, in all her infinite wisdom, goes to meet with Edgar instead of hopping the first tram out of Belgrade. Good to see Kurylenko is still playing complete idiots, because Peter told her that Alexa was a world class assassin. The same assassin who saw her meeting with Edgar at the diner, but I'm sure she wouldn't, you know, BE FOLLOWING HIM OR ANYTHING. Edgar takes her back to his hotel where Alexa pops out and kills him. Oh gee, what are the odds? Alice runs, but we can't see what happens next because this film was edited by someone with extreme ADHD, so we go back to David who is going through Pierce's CIA file.

He discovered Natalia wasn't just Peter's lover, but was also the mother of his daughter. Oh snap! Well, it's been a minute already, better see what Hanley's doing. Pierce pistol whips his way into the shipping yard the CIA is holding him at, confronting him over why he lied about Natalia wanting him to rescue her. Hanley says Natalia had been acting strangely the last few months of her assignment, so the CIA planned to take her out. He figured sending Peter was the only way to save her life, because he really wanted her information about Mira witnessing the bombing. Hanley tries to say Federov masterminded the whole thing, but Peter knows better and asks who in the CIA was behind it.

A Ghoul Versus The November Man (Part 1)

James Bond is back, and this time he's brought an R-rating!”

I think it's safe to say Olga Kurylenko is the Patron Saint of this blog. Some of my earliest reviews were of her video game based films Hitman and Max Payne, where she captured the spirit of what A Ghoul Versus... is all about with jilted line delivery and general vacuousness in regards to acting. She was dramatically improved in Joseph Kosinski's Oblivion, where she turned in a pretty good performance, but was right back to her bag of tricks in this year's DELIGHTFUL atrocity that was Vampire Academy.

This leads us to her latest film, the November Man. I know next to nothing about this film, as it was in and out of theaters pretty quick because Pierce Brosnan quite isn't the box office draw he used to be. Despite this short window, it did turn a profit, so much in fact that a sequel is already being planned. I saw a few trailers for this, it looked like James Bond only not quite. This film is based off the novels of the same name, and in true Hollywood fashion it's based off the SEVENTH book of the series. Chronology, what's that?

The movie is directed by Roger Donaldson, who has a somewhat respectable and varied filmography with films such as No Way Out, Cocktail, Species, and Dante's Peak. The movie was co-written by Karl Gajdusek, who was also the writer of Oblivion so hopefully he can continue his streak of making Kurylenko sound intelligent when she opens her mouth. Interesting bit of trivia here, the other writer of this movie is Michael Finch, who is currently writing the reboot to HITMAN. Good God, it's Six Degrees Of Olga up in this piece! And with that, it's time to see is Pierce Brosnan still has the suave and sophisticated spy game with A Ghoul Versus The November Man!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones (Part 5)

Click here for Part 4!

Instead of freeing the others, Padme climbs to the top of her pole and out of harm's way. That's quite smart of her, figuring out that both Anakin and Obi are going to be in the next trilogy so they won't need her help. One of the arena monster scales the pole in pursuit and slashes at her, but only succeeds in tearing her shirt into a belly-baring midriff. Spellbound by the sight of Padme's toned abs, it decides not to kill her and instead just descends to the ground to ogle her. Can't say I blame it... Nute watches this unfold, suggesting someone just shoot her. Congratulations Mr. Gunray, it took you nearly the length of two films but you finally said something INTELLIGENT!

No one does though, because having another boring battle is much more important than the carefully crafted plan of the Separatists. Anakin and Obi manage to get free while dodging the attacks of their monsters, and this goes on for awhile as tediously as possible. Nute orders Jango to fly in and kill them, but Dooku tells him to have patience. How is it Nute is suddenly the smartest person in this movie?! And where does Palpatine find these morons to serve as his apprentices, you'd think after Darth Maul he would have really stressed that whole “kill your enemies the first chance you get, DON'T give them time to regroup because that never ends well” thing.

A Ghoul Versus Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones (Part 4)

Click here for Part 3!

Bail tells him the Senate will never approve using a clone army, and this is where the infamous “Star Wars Brain Pains” strike me. While I'm well aware that if I didn't over think this damn movie so much I might actually enjoy it (false, there's still the acting and dialogue) but this vital plot point is incomprehensible to me. And since it's the crux of the entire movie, that's a problem. WHY does the Republic, which consists of well over 10,000 worlds, NEED to create an army through the military creation act? I get they don't want to go all militaristic because they're dedicated to peace, but no one wanted to step up and defend their home worlds? It is acceptable to take up arms to defend your home and your loved ones.

We saw freaking WOOKIES were a member of the Senate in the last movie, a race that lives for violence to the point they rip the arms off their opponent when they lose at space chess! You're telling me the Wookies wouldn't want to throw down with some stupid robots? Hell, even the Naboo had a fully trained space armada and they were pacifists. I just find it really hard to swallow that billions upon billions of people would be perfectly content to just sit around and get killed in the face of a war. Which leads me to another point of contention with this plot: why exactly are the Separatists trying to break away from the Republic? We're never told any details besides Dooku's political ideals, whatever that's supposed to mean.

A Ghoul Versus Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones (Part 3)

Click here for Part 2!

Lucas tries to quickly distract us from how head smashingly stupid Obi is by returning to Anakin and Padme back on Naboo, where they've set up shop at the place Padme is going to be hiding. And by hiding, I mean walking around in public while wearing the least amount of clothes possible. The rest of the Anakin/Padme scenes are going to be very similar: they go on some ultra romantic date while Padme teases Anakin then shuts him down when he starts getting too close. This one is notable though as it's probably the most famous bit of dialogue in the entire movie: Anakin's sand metaphor.  Padme has returned to her Queen Monotone voice and is putting us to sleep about how she used to swim at this beach as a kid, prompting this GEM from Anakin:

“I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything’s soft... and smooth...”.

I've seen smoother lines from guys in rape/revenge movies. I laughed out loud when I first saw this, and I'm laughing out loud while typing this. Padme doesn't laugh though, even when Anakin starts caressing her bare skin and kissing her. The kiss is VERY rough looking, so the movie starts playing this huge orchestral swell to make it seem romantic. Padme breaks the kiss, saying she shouldn't have done that while Anakin looks around shocked. Yeesh.

A Ghoul Versus Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Obi and Anakin are still boring us with politics, Anakin saying not all politicians are bad by citing Palpatine as an example. Obi actually starts talking smack about him too, something that he'll instantly forget the next scene. When the centipedes start crawling closer to Padme, this somehow notifies the Jedi and they rush off to her rescue. I guess the Force can detect when a bug has murder on its mind, something you think they would have sensed a bit earlier. Anakin runs in and lightsabers the centipedes to death while Obi looks out the window at the droid... and LEAPS OUT THE WINDOW TO GRAB IT.

Oh God. This is one of the more memorable scenes in the film and one I do remember seeing the first time, but like all of those scenes, it's for entirely the wrong reason. Okay yes, it looks BADASS as hell, which is what Lucas had in his mind when he wrote it. The PROBLEM is that (and get used to reading this sentence) it makes no sense! First of all, why wasn't it Anakin recklessly jumping out the window without a second thought while Obi killed the bugs? In the few minutes that we've gotten to know him, we've already learned Anakin's whiny ass is a hot headed punk who acts without giving a single thought to what he's going to say or do while Obi is cool, calm, and reserved.

Second, how in the world did Obi know this tiny little droid would be able to support his weight? Is he an expert on assassin droids and their weight limits? Maybe he's using the Force to keep himself from falling to his death, but somehow I doubt it. And why isn't the droid trying to shake him off, either through its laser or by smashing into nearby buildings?

A Ghoul Versus Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones (Part 1)

Previously on Star Wars...

Writer-director George Lucas set the bar for CGI and green screen usage in blockbusters, while simultaneously lowering the bar for quality in blockbusters. We journeyed back to the days when Darth Vader was a young boy, and two hours of ENDLESS BULLSHIT followed. The important takeaway is Chancellor Palpatine is in the middle of executing a brilliant master plan to become the unopposed dictator of the galactic republic, and EVERYONE is too stupid to figure this out. He also apparently knows everything that is going to happen in explicit detail thanks to his Sith powers, so any of the actions of our heroes are completely futile. Whoo, that makes for an exciting film!

Star Wars has been dominating the news headlines lately, all thanks to the release of the highly anticipated release teaser trailer of the RABIDLY anticipated new film The Force Awakens. This minute and a half trailer shed a light on a great deal many things we can expect from the new movie, but I think the most important was the revelation a great deal of Star Wars fans are racist degenerate fuckwads. That... was probably something I didn't want to know, since I REALLY didn't need another reason to hate one of the former loves of my life.

The trailer opened with a shot of one of the stars of the movie, John Boyega, in a Stormtrooper outfit and BOY did this piss off the KKK card holding contingent of Star Wars fandom. To their credit some fans only complained about the fact all Stormtroopers should look like Jango Fett, which I will admit is a fair criticism since there's NEVER EVER been an established moment in the franchise where characters impersonated Stormtroopers by wearing their armour. EVER. Like, NO ONE has ever dressed up like a Stormtrooper that wasn't a Stormtrooper in Star Wars before.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Maleficent (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

With Aurora's sweet sixteen fast approaching, Maleficent asks her to come live with her in the Moors. Aurora happily consents to this, rushing off to tell her aunties. Oh, I guess they are still in this thing. However Aurora can't quite think of how to break this news to them, so she stops in the forest to rehearse her speech. She runs into a young man who is on his way to Stefan's castle and has managed to get lost in the woods. He'll be instantly recognizable if you've seen the recently reviewed film The Signal since he was the star of it, Mr. Brenton Thwaites. Here he is Prince Philip (now spelled with one “L” because screw those hacks from the 1950s), like that's any surprise in the slightest.

He and Aurora have Insta-Chemistry, achieved even without the magic of a song and dance. Aurora asks him to visit her after his trip to the castle, to which he QUICKLY agrees to. Maleficent and Diaval have been watching this whole thing play out, Diaval excitedly speculating Philip could be the answer to the curse. Maleficent dismisses this, as she says there's no such thing as true love. Diaval counters with it's fine she believes that, but what about Aurora's belief on the matter? You know, with the exception of the idiot fairies, every actor in this film has been good to great. Jolie has been awesome, but that's a given. However, Diaval's actor, Sam Riley, has completely OWNED this movie. This guy has stolen every scene he's in, which is really saying something when all of those scenes were shared with Jolie.

A Ghoul Versus Maleficent (Part 1)

Original Vs. Remake Part 2: Disney's Sleeping Beauty vs. Maleficent / WTF Happened To Fairy Tales?!”

Click here for the first half of Original Vs. Remake: Sleeping Beauty!

Of all the things to come out of the 1990s, I think BY FAR the worst was the “Grim 'n Gritty” trend: the making of everything into dark and stylistically bleak because it's KEWL. It spread across all forms of entertainment, most prominently comics where EVERY one became a badass anti-hero more vicious than any villain of decades before. In movies, the Matrix was the genesis for most movies copying the formula of disaffected and monotone heroes clad in black blasting the shit out of everything indiscriminately.

The success of Christopher Nolan's Batman films only served to crank this to eleven, as damn near every superhero movie since has tried to copy that formula. This brings us to the latest feature on A Ghoul Versus..., something I'm going to simply call “WTF Happened To Fairy Tales?!”. One of the many trends happening in today's Hollywood has been giving classic fairy tales this same treatment, which I'll concede isn't totally unwarranted given most fairy tales originated with stories that were FAR from happy, but now that ALL OF THEM are aping this concept, it's gotten very annoying.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Disney's Sleeping Beauty

Original Vs. Remake Part 1: Disney's Sleeping Beauty vs. Maleficent!”

Disney's Sleeping Beauty is a film that needs no introduction, but here's one anyway. This timeless animated epic was released in 1959, and actually was a financial failure at the time. Boasting a budget of over six million dollars, it failed to even make that back upon release and resulted in Disney posting a LOSS for the fiscal year. Keep in mind this was the 1950s, if you adjusted that number for inflation it'd be like 90 trillion dollars or something. People were fired right and left to the point where Disney didn't attempt another fairy tale based animated film until thirty years later with the insanely successful Little Mermaid.

Critics were fairly harsh on virtually every aspect of the movie, which certainly hurt its box office receipts. It also didn't help the film is incredibly similar to Disney's 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, both featuring an evil witch whose jealousy of a younger woman causes her to curse her into a deathlike state that is only curable by the kiss of true love. Hell, Snow White and Aurora both even hide out in a cabin with a gang of goofy little people. But, like many great films that missed their mark upon release, Sleeping Beauty eventually carved out its own legacy and now is regarded as one of the greatest animated films of all time. Time to see why this is with the first half of the latest Original Vs. Remake showdown, as it's time for A Ghoul Versus Disney's Sleeping Beauty!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Home Sweet Home (1981)

Come celebrate Thanksgiving on A Ghoul Versus... as we try to find a movie about the red headed stepchild of holidays!”

You ever notice there is a dearth of movies about Thanksgiving in the same vein that there are a trillion Christmas and Halloween movies? Hell, even freaking PRESIDENT'S DAY, the lamest holiday of all time, got its own damn movie! Sure, there's stuff like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Dutch, and the Ice Storm, but in those Thanksgiving is more a plot device than the actual focus of the story. There is last year's animated Free Birds, which features turkeys TRAVELING BACK IN TIME to prevent turkeys becoming the main course of Thanksgiving dinners everywhere, which is certainly batshit crazy enough to qualify for this blog buuuuuuuuut... I don't know, I have no desire to watch that.

Since I already screwed up this holiday review by already doing Liam Neeson's Unknown, as it was took place during Thanksgiving, I made a list of all movies associated with the holiday to find something else. I found most of them were comedies and immediately crossed them off, since those are just no fun to review for reasons I've mentioned before.  Naturally I found myself left with horror movies because OF COURSE I FREAKING DID. No matter how hard I try, I just can't escape horror movies. What, was that a whopping THREE movies I managed to watch without a horror one? GO ME!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Melancholia (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

The screen fades to black and is replaced with a title card reading “Part Two: Claire”. It's been an undetermined amount of time since the wedding, I would guess a few weeks at most. Justine has come to stay with John and Claire, and we see she's regressed to an almost catatonic state as she can't do ANYTHING by herself. As they wait for Justine's taxi to arrive, John and Claire discuss Melancholia: a rogue planet that is due to fly by the Earth in five days. Claire worries it'll hit the Earth, but John assures her it's completely safe and it'll pass them by.

Justine can barely even walk, Claire forced to guide her to the bathroom and bathe her. John is just DISGUSTED by all this, and again I say: GET HER SOME FUCKING HELP! A few days later Justine is beginning to get more functional, Claire taking her riding again. Just like last time, Abraham will not cross the bridge so Justine begins to SAVAGELY beat him with her riding crop until Claire intervenes. Mmm, there goes all that sympathy I had for Justine. Will that damn planet get here already? That same night Claire sees Justine walking outside, almost in a trance. She follows her, finding her lying naked on the ground and basking in the moonlit grow of the approaching Melancholia.

A Ghoul Versus Melancholia (Part 1)

"Dueling Movies: Another Earth Vs. Melancholia!"

Click here for the Another Earth review!

To say that Lars Von Trier is a polarizing director is like saying smoking cigarettes are bad for you: it's a fundamental fact. An experimental Danish filmmaker that LOVES to push buttons in both his films and his endlessly entertaining interviews, Von Trier has been creating critically divisive films since the late 1970s. You can always tell you're reading a review of a Von Trier film because critics will break out their biggest and fanciest words to either praise him or decry him, a lot of these reviews often turning into miniature theses that you just might need a dictionary to decipher.

After several little known releases, Von Trier really put himself on the map with 1996's Breaking The Waves, which served as his introduction to a larger portion of the film viewing world, including myself. Personally, I was spellbound by his SHARPLY unique visual style and deep storytelling, while at the same time finding the film very accessible compared to a lot of the foreign films I'd seen up to that point. Really, Breaking The Waves is solely responsible for opening my tastes up and getting me interested in films deeper than ones such as Star Wars or Horror Franchise #8,409.

Von Trier likes to make his films into trilogies, but based about themes instead of a continuing storyline. He started with his “Europe” trilogy detailing Europe's dark history, then followed it up with the “Golden Heart” trilogy, which was launched by Breaking The Waves and showed us three women with kind hearts being put into awful circumstances. His next trilogy, “USA: Land of Opportunities” remains unfinished as the third film, Wasington, will likely not get made at this point but one can always hope.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Mike Cahill & Brit Marling's Another Earth

Dueling Movies: Another Earth Vs. Melancholia!”

I had never heard of Another Earth in my life... err, afterlife before starting out to watch it. The only reason it came to my attention is recently was having a 50% off sale on all their blu-rays so I stocked up LIKE A BOSS! Being that I'm constantly on the hunt for intriguing films that have slipped under the radar of most people, my attention was immediately drawn to this one as it looks like a unique take on the concept of alternate worlds. It also stars Brit Marling, who I only know from her guest appearance on an episode of my favourite TV show Community, where she played a woman named Page that Britta befriended only because she thought she was a lesbian. She had a really good presence in that episode, so I'm curious to see what she can do in a feature length movie.

Upon doing the briefest of online research before writing this introduction, I discovered it had a plot very similar to another film that came out a few months after it: Lars Von Trier's Melancholia in that both films involved a planet being discovered very close to our own Earth. I'd been planning to review Melancholia sometime early next year, but this discovery changed all my plans especially since I haven't done a Dueling Movies feature in quite some time. A Ghoul Versus..., a place where plans are as fickle as Sir Anthony Hopkins questionable role choices!

A Ghoul Versus William Eubank's The Signal

"Can you recall for me the first time you encountered The Signal?"
"Yeah, I was sitting on my couch watching it and getting more ticked off by the second."

Do you realize the last SIXTEEN movies I've watched have been horror movies? 17 if you count David Fincher's Gone Girl, which I saw by sneaking into the theater in a lowered hat and a trenchcoat thanks to their oppressive “no flesh eaters” policy. Ironically, Gone Girl was scarier than all over those movies combined and multiplied by ten, but we'll get to that when it comes out on home video. Regardless, I am BURNT THE HELL OUT on horror so it's time for some variety on this site.
As a reward to myself for enduring a month of nothing but Hellraiser movies, I'm going to review a good movie. At least I hope it's good, it sure looked amazing from the trailer I saw. The movie in question is The Signal, the second feature film from writer/director William Eubank. Like a lot of directors, he got his big break making music videos and transitioned it into a film career where he has become known for having a very distinct visual style.

I don't really know anything about the film's plot, but that's undeniably the best way to enter an abstract looking story like this one promises to be. Let's try and erase the Godawful atrocity that was Hellraiser: Revelations out of our eyes and minds, because it's time for A Ghoul Versus William Eubank's The Signal!

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Revelations

Previously on Hellraiser: Hellworld...

Evil went online. Or did it? You know, if you sit down and think about it the internet barely even figured into the events of Hellworld. I mean, Adam killed himself because of the game for reasons that were NEVER explained and everyone got their invitations to the party via a computer game, but that was it. The rest of the movie was just Lance Henriksen playing mind games with a bunch of idiots, which was OH SO satisfying to watch.

Movies, like nearly everything in life, aren't exempt from contracts. Contracts lay out the numerous legal provisions and rights involved in the production of a movie, one of the aspects involving the expiration date of said contract. That is to say if a movie isn't made in a certain amount of time the rights expire, and either go back to the original holder or can go up sale so anyone can buy them.

This isn't usually a problem for most franchises, as the Sequel Train is the strongest force alive in Hollywood besides greed and Nicholas Sparks movies featuring pretty white people.  But in some extreme cases a movie can't be made during the agreed upon time frame, so to keep the rights the producers will make what is commonly known as an “ash can copy”. This term originates from the world of comic books where publishers would throw together a cheaply made comic book (usually with unfinished art and lettering) to maintain their copyright on a certain character or title and then throw all the printed copies away into the “ash can”.

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Hellworld (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

The movie takes a break to play a music video called “Welcome To Hell” because I'd like to see YOU think of a way to make a movie feature length. What's that? Write a coherent story that doesn't need endless padding? Have you been READING these reviews so far? Surprising me yet again the police do show up, Chelsea banging on the window to get their attention but she's now joined the ranks of the invisible people so they don't see her. She pulls out her phone and calls 911 again, getting patched directly to one of the officers but he still can't see her in the window so thinks the whole thing is a stupid prank and leave. You COULD try breaking the window Chels...

Mike takes his new friend into the basement to have sex, but she pushes him into the remains room and locks the door. He finds Derrick's body and has the appropriate response, his horror cut short by a random Cenobite that kills him with a giant hook. I call BULLSHIT on this one! I saw Man of Steel, there is NO WAY a hook could pierce his super strong skin. You know the WORST thing about this though? Cavill ruining the tone by having a comical reaction to the Cenobite by quipping “Not good!” when he sees him? No, it's the fact we just lost the only interesting character in the movie not played by Lance Henriksen and there's still THIRTY MINUTES to go in this damn thing.

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Hellworld (Part 1)

Previously on Hellraiser: Deader...

Ever since the third movie, the Hellraiser movies have had a pattern of the odd numbered ones being decent(ish) and the even numbered being atrocious. Hellraiser 7: Deader was no exception, as the movie started off GREAT and even though it fell apart like all these movies do, it still didn't make me all that mad like Hellseeker did. Going off that criteria, that makes it one of the best Hellraiser movies ever!

Like I said in the last review, Deader and Hellworld were filmed back to back in Romania. Since all of these straight-to-video sequels are just repurposed scripts, instead of trying to create some kind of interesting two part story (like the Romanian-filmed Prophecy movies did) the filmmakers just went with another totally unrelated script. This was wasn't even a script, but simply a treatment called “Dark Can't Breathe” that was written by Joel Soisson and turned into a screenplay by our old friend Carl V. Dupré. Soisson's name should ring a few bells, as he directed both those aforementioned Prophecy movies.

I've always maintained this is a huge lost opportunity, because with basically the same guys working on both series, how the hell did this not result in a Prophecy/Hellraiser crossover? It's things like this that just go to show Hollywood doesn't get “it” and is afraid of taking any chances, especially when we're talking the realm of straight-to-video. For crying out loud, Dimension Films owns the right to both franchises!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Deader

Previously on Hellraiser: Hellseeker...

I don't want to talk about it. I don't even want to be reminded that movie EXISTED.

Romania has slowly become one of THE go to places in Hollywood to make a movie. Thanks to the insanely low costs of shooting there, combined with its varied landscapes and endless pool of citizens that'll work for peanuts, it's the new Canada. While it had yielded some B-level 1990's fare such as Dark Angel: The Ascent (a personal favourite of mine), Highlander: Endgame, and a couple of the Trancers movies, it wasn't until 2003's Civil War era blockbuster Cold Mountain was filmed entirely there did the floodgates open and filmmakers began trampling over each other to shoot there.

Primarily horror films were made there thanks to its oppressive looking architecture leftover from its Communist days that really lends itself to the genre, but it's also produced comedies like Van Wilder 2 and Rian Johnson's The Brothers Bloom. Action blockbusters? It has those too, giving us Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and the third Expendables movie. In 2005, two movies near and dear to my heart (well, near at least) were filmed there back to back in the form of the Prophecy: Uprising and the Prophecy: Forsaken.

Both of these starred Kari Wuhrer, who was already a veteran of the Romanian film scene thanks to today's film, Hellraiser: Deader, which she filmed right on the heels of the Prophecy films. And just like those films, two Hellraiser movies were filmed back to back but Wuhrer only took part in the first one. I guess even she has her standards, because TWO Hellraiser straight-to-video films is too much to ask from anyone.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Hellseeker

Previously on Hellraiser: Inferno...

Hellraiser: Inferno was a nightmare, literally. The whole damn movie was a nightmare experienced by Detective Joseph Thorne, so at least the series has hit rock bottom and has nowhere to go but up, right? Right? Hey, where are you going? Get back here!

Now that Hellraiser is straight-to-video, these movies are going to be coming out much faster than the past few ones did. Hellseeker came out in 2002, only two years after Inferno did. Taking over direction this time is Rick Bota, who would go on to do the next three films in the series until it was mercifully put out of its (and our) misery for a few years. Before landing this gig, Bota was mostly a cinematographer who did a lot of television shows but also had the celluloid gems Barb Wire and the House On Haunted Hill remake under his belt. Yikes and double yikes.

Writing duties fell to Tim Day and Carl V. Dupré, the latter name should sound familiar if you remember a little film called Prophecy 3: The Ascent because he co-wrote that as well. Their script was not written to be a Hellraiser movie (which, just as I suspected, was the same case with Hellraiser: Inferno), but Dimension Films had it rewritten to throw some Cenobite action in and BOOM! Instant sequel. BUT there's some really good news to help balance the rest of this out: this movie marks Ashley Laurence's return to the series that REALLY went downhill after she left. Not that it started on that high of a hill, but you get my point.

I no longer have any optimism left in me for this series, but if anyone can change that it's Scream Queen Kirsty Cotton. Let's get ready to seek... Hell?, because it's time for A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Hellseeker!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Inferno

Previously on Hellraiser: Bloodline...

Studio executives meddled with Hellraiser so bad the director bowed out and left us with an Alan Smithee movie. That's really all there is to say about that one, because I've forgotten almost everything from it already due to it being so “memorable”. Oh right, Pinhead was in outer space on a space station. Hellraiser!

Fast forward to the year 2000, the dawn of a new millennium. What better way to celebrate than by releasing another Hellraiser film? This time the honours went to relative newcomer Scott Derrickson, who would go on to turn a career of mostly high quality horror films (including The Exorcism Of Emily Rose and Sinister) into a HUGE opportunity as he'll be bringing us Marvel Comics' Doctor Strange in 2016. In addition to directing Inferno, Derrickson co-wrote it with his longtime friend Paul Harris Boardman, who has worked with him on pretty much every movie he's ever done.

Despite getting burnt by being excited to see the last film, I'll admit to being somewhat excited here because it's always fun to see the early works of directors before they got big. Let's cue up some cautious optimism because it's now time for A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Inferno!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Bloodline

Previously on Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth...

Director Anthony Hickox tried to put us to sleep for an hour, and then pushed the OVERDRIVE button as everything got more awesome than the Lego Movie. We had Cenobites shooting rockets out of their eyes, killer CDs out of their chests, and one of the best club scenes I've ever seen. Storywise, Pinhead got banished to Hell but that's never exactly stopped him before, has it?

Based off the last movie, I was already pumped for this one. But then my personal overdrive button got pressed when I saw it's an Alan Smithee movie! For those who don't know, Smithee isn't a real person but instead is a pseudonym used by a director when he or she does NOT want their name attached to a movie. This is usually because of a dispute with the studio or some such reason, bottom line is the director is ASHAMED to be associated with the film.

So what happened with Hellraiser: Bloodline? The film was directed by Kevin Yagher, who is one of the most famous special effects wizards alive. He created Freddy Krueger, Chucky, and the Crypt Keeper, as well as doing the effects for movies as varied as Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure to Face/Off to Adaption. Despite his pedigree of knowing his shit, the studio clashed with him constantly over the direction of the movie and what should happen in it. He finally had enough and walked off the set before it was even done, Dimension Films bringing in Joe Chappelle to salvage the whole thing. Chappelle was one year removed from helming the DISASTEROUS Halloween 6: The Curse Of Michael Myers, but that's a story and a review for another day.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth

Previously on Hellbound: Hellraiser II...

Our intrepid heroine Kirsty Cotton became besties with Pinhead and the Cenobite Crew, who then all went on to get slaughtered by a guy with a vagina tentacle growing out of his head. Also a mute girl did stuff... I think, honestly I have absolutely NO IDEA what happened. Sure looked cool, though.

The second Hellraiser movie came out in 1988, amidst its distributor New World Pictures having major financial issues that resulted in a massive slash and burn on the budget. Fast forward four years later to 1992 and New World Pictures had completely gone under, and the rights to the franchise now resided in the hands of famed Dimension Films. They brought back director Tony Randel and writer Peter Atkins to make a third movie, but decided Randel wasn't experienced enough so replaced him with Anthony Hickox. Hickox was famous at the time for directing the horror series Waxwork, a moderately successful series that was a borderline parody of the genre.

Atkins was kept on to write the script, which I'm not sure is a good thing considering how mind bogglingly absurd his previous one was. However, he did end that movie on a cliffhanger of sorts so maybe he had a bigger story in mind that'll tie up all the loose ends from- HAHAH, I couldn't even say that with a straight face. Buckle up folks, it's time for A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth!

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Previously on Hellraiser...

We entered the world of Clive Barker's Hellraiser. A very dull and confusing world in which nothing made sense or was even remotely explained, but hey the Cenobites sure looked cool!

Flash forward to a year later, and a sequel was given the green light based off the success of the original's first week box office. Barker didn't return to the director's chair, instead handing the duties over to his friend Tony Randel who had helped edit the first movie. Barker wrote the film's story, with his good friend Peter Atkins turning it into a screenplay. Fun fact: Barker, Atkins, and Doug “Pinhead” Bradley were once a theatre group in the 1970s. Bet those were some very interesting performances.

Before we get underway, I want to address two messages I got concerning my last review. One was that I was WAY too hard on the first movie, but I stand by what I said: it's a fantastic premise with some very poor execution and direction. Second was what the hell is Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, which I described as a cult classic. Yes, it IS a sequel to the Jamie Lee Curtis classic slasher film, which would go on to spawn three weird ass sequels. It's actually a lot like Saw, where the sequel was a vastly different movie they repurposed into a sequel to build off the success of the original film. They went a supernatural direction, introducing ghosts and alternate worlds, but unlike a lot of horror films it WORKS. It's far from perfect, but I give it a strong recommendation because it has some amazing visuals.

Speaking of sequels, it's time to see if the Hellraiser sequel can bring some much needed sense to the franchise. Grab your favourite bondage gear, forget your safe word, and get ready for A Ghoul Versus Hellbound: Hellraiser II! Why isn't it called Hellraiser II: Hellbound like it should be?

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser

"Happy Halloween!  Hopefully you have some delicious candy to snack on to help ease the pain of enduring Hellraiser..."

Clive Barker is one of the founding fathers of modern horror, helping to shape it through nearly every medium possible including books, movies, art, comics, and even video games. One of his short stories, “The Forbidden” was the foundation of one of my all time favourite horror movies Candyman, which starred one of the heroes of this blog: Mr. Tony Todd.

However he is best known for creating the Hellraiser franchise, which was also based off another story of his “The Hellbound Heart”. Despite featuring one of the all time iconic horror movie villains in the form of the terrifying looking Pinhead, this franchise has always kind of been the red-headed stepchild of the genre. It's the lowest grossing series out of any major horror franchise, but to be fair only four of the NINE movies in the series were released theatrically. Wait, nine movies? They've made nine of these things? Bloody hell, what have I gotten myself into?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Saw VII: The Final Chapter In 3D (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

A flashback from the last movie plays, as we see the aforementioned envelope was indeed placed into Gordon's office. More flashbacks follow, showing Gordon becoming Jigsaw's disciple after surviving his test just like Amanda did. This all fits perfectly and fixes various plotholes such as “how the hell could a civil engineer perform such advanced surgery?!” that has been hovering around these movies since the second one.

What's REALLY fascinating about this reveal has nothing to do with the movie whatsoever. January 18th, 2009 YouTube user Toberoon uploaded a video called “Dr. Gordon is alive!” where he posited a theory that Gordon survived the events of the first movie and became Jigsaw's apprentice. One of his biggest pieces of evidence was the opening Billy tape from Saw II, which showed a cloaked “Jigsaw” limping towards Michael's unconscious body to implant a key in his eye. Remember in Saw II when I asked you to remember that? This is why.
Toberoon turned out to be 100% correct, as the movie even shows him doing the surgery on Michael. Keep in mind, this was uploaded before even Saw VI came out with its spoilery envelope scene, so this video is some kind of amazing. Many people have speculated the producers of Saw viewed this video, smacked themselves on the forehead, and changed their plans to copy it because it makes so much damn sense. Now I doubt this, as the limping man HAD to always have been intended to be Gordon but still... it does make one wonder.

A Ghoul Versus Saw VII: The Final Chapter In 3D (Part 1)

Previously on Saw VI...

Jill Tuck finally showed her true colours, as we learn she's been fully aware of everything her ex-husband has been up to the entire time. She hasn't been helping him, but hasn't been trying to stop him either. She got her hands bloody this time around, turning the tables on the maniacal Mark Hoffman and put him in a trap she thought inescapable. Unfortunately for her though it was, and now he likely has bloody vengeance on his mind to go along with the remains of his face.

Here we are, at long long LONG last, the conclusion to the Saw saga. Six films later, six films after the first chapter gave the horror genre a much needed kick in its arse but then caught a NASTY case of sequelitis... four times over. Saw VI got things back on track with a refreshing blast of originality, but unfortunately no one really saw it because A) Saw V was an abomination that drove everyone away and B) there was a new arse kicker in town in the form of Paranormal Activity.

Director of VI, Kevin Greutert, sprang at the chance to direct the sequel to this young and fresh upstart, but at the last second Lionsgate was all “Aww, HELL NO dawg!” and used a clause in his contract to make him return for Saw VII, or Saw 3D as it was called at this point. Greutert was NOT pleased about this, leading to a memorable blog rant where he wrote:

I just had the task of telling my 83 year old mother that no, I’m not going to be allowed to direct the movie we were all so excited about when my family last got together, and that I’m being forced to leave town before getting a chance to see her again. Yes, I’ll be filming people getting tortured YET AGAIN. So we’ll have to put off me making a film she can actually watch for another year. I’m not making this shit up.”.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Saw VI (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Jenkins arrives at Jill's apartment thanks to a note from Hoffman, Jill not pleased to see the reporter. Jenkins hands her a letter that was taken from the plant where Jigsaw died, which I think is supposed to be Amanda's letter from Saw III but it looks a lot bigger so I'm not sure. Jill shuts the door in her face, Jenkins returning to the elevator and becoming the next to fall to Pig Mask. I'm guessing her crime is going to be putting her recyclables in with her regular garbage.

Easton makes his way through whatever building he's is, using a key he found to remove one of his explosive shackles. Under one of them he finds “The party” tattooed on his arm, which begins a flashback of a party he hosted for Jill's clinic back in happier times. He gets into a conversation with John, getting a lecture about the power a person can unleash when their life is on the line, the will to live. Yes movie, WE GET IT.

A Ghoul Versus Saw VI (Part 1)

Previously on Saw V...


Oh alright, FINE, if you insist. Ultra-memorable and fleshed out hero Paul Strahm- no wait, Phillip? Patrick, it was Patrick right? Ah, PETER Strahm died in the garbage compactor from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Hoffman successfully framed him for being Jigsaw, while a bunch of nameless characters tried to recreate the plot from Saw II.

Like MANY people, Saw V was the final straw for me and I jumped ship. Saw VI limped into theaters greeted by sparse audiences, as this was the first movie in the series to not be a runaway success. Oh sure, it still made nearly $60 million dollars worldwide but this is nearly HALF of what the previous lowest grossing movie in the series (to no one's surprise, Saw V) made. There is no better example of what pissing off your audience can do than that.

You could see the writing was on the wall for the series at this point, as it was soundly beaten out of box office dollars by what you can easily call the next Saw-like phenomenon: Paranormal Activity, which was in its second week of release. Rest assured, the Paranormal Activity franchise is in my review stack because HOLY SHIT there is some stuff to say about that one.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Saw V (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Brit, who is going to be our Voice of Reason, tries to calm everyone down and get them to brainstorm a way out of this. They pretty much ignore her and go back to bickering, Mallick finally getting pissed off and making a run for the keys. This activates the 60-second timer, everyone making a haphazard run for their keys and freeing themselves. Everyone except Ashley, who soon becomes the latest member of the Marie Antoinette Reenactment Society. The door to the room pops open at the conclusion of this, everyone leaving before the nail bombs go off. Brit has the bright idea of taking all five keys with her, just in case.

Hoffman leaves his base, trying to call Strahm but learning Erickson is now handling things. What? The omniscient Hoffman doesn't know something?! What madness be this? We find Strahm is currently busy researching Hoffman, pulling his files on the Jigsaw case. We learn one of the Jigsaw victims was a man named Seth Baxter, a name that should sound familiar to you. He killed his girlfriend Angelina Acomb in a domestic dispute, Angelina revealed to be Hoffman's sister. Putting two and two together, Strahm heads to the building where Seth was killed. He finds the eye hole, which smoothly transitions to a flashback of Hoffman watching his sister's killer die. Apparently Strahm was WATCHING the flashback, because at the end he concludes out loud that he now has Hoffman.

A Ghoul Versus Saw V (Part 1)

Previously on Saw IV...

Rhargh, do not make me recap all that again! Let's just say Detective Mark Hoffman is the new Jigsaw but his deceased master still intends to test him from beyond the grave. Also, FBI Agent Peter Strahm is the fourth straight lead to end a Saw movie locked in a room full of dead bodies.

As horror movie franchises continue along their bloody ways, you understandably begin get diminishing returns on quality. When the crux of your stories is thinking up different ways for dumbasses to get killed, eventually you're going to start running low on ideas. Let's take a quick look at some other iconic movies to see how they dealt with the fifth chapter of their stories.

Friday The 13th Part 5: A New Beginning: like the title says, this was an attempt to reboot the dying franchise with a new villain and a new atmosphere of psychological horror its previous slasher tendencies. It didn't work, and Jason was quickly brought back for the next movie.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child: a pseudo reboot of sorts, this was meant to return the series to its darker roots with the added concept of bringing Freddy into the real world. Again, it didn't work because the tone was all over the place and ended up being the second lowest grossing film of the series.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Saw IV (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Following this clue to a map in the classroom, Rigg finds a box with his next destination: go home. Only the “G” in “go” is written in a specialized font that matches the same lettering used in one of Jigsaw's properties, the Gideon Meatpacking Plant.  Hmm, you think the second the police got his name they would have started searching all the properties registered to his name.  You know, just in case he might have had a hidden base there or something.  A quick montage of the various traps used in the movie shows them branded with the telltale letter. Instead of helping Morgan, Rigg simply hands her Jigsaw's key and tells her she has to save herself. He leaves, pulling the fire alarm on his way out.

This draws Strahm and team, constantly one step behind it seems. Perez gets a call where she learns all of tonight's victims were all represented by Art Blank at one point of their lives, who also JUST HAPPENS to be Jill's lawyer. Wow, there are a lot of elements in play right now. It's gonna take a HELL of a montage to tie all this together smoothly. The reveals keep coming though as Perez finds out Jill also owns the school, leading to her and Strahm searching the rest of it.

In an office they find a Billy puppet with a note and a tape player on his- and you know what? How come they never tried tracing the guy who's buying thirty million tape players in the city? This film was made in 2007, when digital recorders were long since the norm so this outdated technology would be bound to stand out when it's being sold by the pallet load, wouldn't you think? Anyway, Perez reaches out and hits play like the genius she is. Good thing that doll wasn't a pressure sensitive explosive or anything! I love how all these highly trained professionals can't grasp the concept of securing a crime scene first.

A Ghoul Versus Saw IV (Part 1)

Previously on Saw III...

Jigsaw? Dead. Amanda? Dead. Kerry? Dead. YIKES! The film makers do know another trilogy was planned after this, right? Did they miss that memo?

After seeing Saw III in 2006, I said they'd need a HELL of a strong sequel to make me come back. Sure, I would have eventually seen the next movie regardless but it sure wouldn't have been on opening night with my hard earned money in hand. Right off the bat they announced the movie would center around Lyriq Bent's underutilized character Daniel Rigg, so just like that I was all in. And I'll admit to being intrigued about where the story was going to go next, seeing as how the majority of the cast was saddled with that whole “We are totally dead” business.

Director of the last two films Darren Lynn Bousman said he was done with the series but upon reading the script was convinced to come back one last time. He said the film's huge plot twist surprised him, something he didn't think was possible after two years of guiding the franchise. The script came from four different scripts floating around Lionsgate, the original idea coming from writer Thomas Fenton, who had mostly served in Hollywood as a behind the scenes player.

The actual script was written by the team of Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, who had made a name for themselves with the horror comedy Feast. They obviously impressed their bosses with their writing, as they would go on to pen the rest of the movies in the series. Having some fairly big shoes to fill after following the guys that transformed the genre forever, let's see what kind of approach the new team brought with A Ghoul Versus Saw IV!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Saw III (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

The judge pleads for his life, busting out the old chestnut of “don't become a killer like the guy you're after!”. This gets through to Jeff so he goes over to the incinerator and reluctantly pushes the button. Heartbroken, he watches his son's favourite toys burn away in what I'll admit is a very well done scene. The key pops out, Jeff using it to save the judge from the vat of never ending horrors. You think that was gross though? You ain't seen nothing yet, as the next scene is Lynn performing GRAPHIC brain surgery on Jigsaw.

Bousman shows this with medical level details of realism as I long for the days of Wan's restraint and off camera gore. The shit we've been subjected to so far even makes the last movie look tame, but sadly Bousman hadn't even hit his stride yet. I LOVE bloody horror movies but only when there's a point to it. Here, it's just gratuitous for the sake of being gratuitous because THAT'S what horror is all about, right? RIGHT?! This wasn't even some poor victim getting eviscerated, it was just to be a gross as humanly possible.

A Ghoul Versus Saw III (Part 1)

Previously on Saw II...

Just pretend the first Saw never happened and the rest of this gets much, much easier to process. Jigsaw upped his game to Batman-levels of mind games, anticipation, and resources, as his efforts went city wide. We also learn he has an apprentice in the form of Amanda Young, the first survivor of his traps, who is being groomed to take over when he succumbs to his rapidly growing cancer. His latest target, Detective Eric Matthews, failed his test about as hard as possible and is now trapped in the iconic bathroom to slowly die.

After Saw II, filmmakers Darren Lynn Bousman, James Wan, and Leigh Whannell were ready to wash their hands of the franchise and finally move on with their lives. But then a very sad thing happened: Gregg Hoffman, one of the producers behind the series, unexpectedly passed away at the very young age of 42. The three agreed to make one last final movie in his name, so production was begun right away.

The marketing for the film basically boiled down to “It's Halloween, time for another Saw movie! Come on, what else are you going to go see?”. That's good and all because I am literally the target audience for that mind set, but it's just so devoid of any kind of creativity whatsoever. If you need further proof of this, Lionsgate didn't even bother to screen the film for critics which is NEVER a good sign. The studio knows it's not a good movie, so there's no point in everyone else telling them it sucks.