Horror Bites - Castle of Illusion

BARON BLOOD (1972)


It shouldn't really be that difficult to put a horror story together when filming out on location with a real castle. With a few good cast members and the expertise of Carlo Rambaldi at hand, what is there to do but write an engaging yarn? A cursed nobleman being resurrected by his foolish descendants seems like a straightforward enough plot, and just for fun throwing in some elements about witchcraft and spiritual mediums adds a little variety to things. Unfortunately none of this has been given any thought whatsoever considering how easy it should be, and the result is a very weak effort from director Mario Bava.

Review Roundup - You Better Watch Out

KRAMPUS (2015)


There aren't that many films which combine Christmas with other elements and still have it as a central theme; one main idea usually takes centre stage. Sure we can all watch Gremlins repeatedly on an annual basis, but as a mixture of festive themes and puppets the monster elements have always been the focus - it was originally a summer release after all. Michael Dougherty's Krampus (not to be confused with the countless low effort releases to feature the same Yuletide figure) is all about the holidays. Part Scrooge, part creature feature this is certainly a low budget affair, but you'd never notice during the story since this is a film made with a maximum effort from everyone involved involved.

Review Roundup - Laser Moon Awakens

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)


I had a lot of ... well let's call it anxiety about this one. After all, the debut of the first Star Wars anthology story marks a major transition for the franchise. The long gestation period of past movies (once 3 years between episodes not counting the major hiatus or spin-offs) has now officially been reduced so that a boardroom friendly annual release can be deployed. Playing it safe while using fan service nostalgia has become an obvious tactic. Why take risks when you can foster positive casual audience reception, while also keeping long term followers sated with things they know and love? But this level of jaded cynicism isn't entirely justified. Well maybe some of it. But there's still plenty of room for the basic ingredients that add up to a good time in front of the silver screen. But just how many of those are included this time around? And how much of this story really needed telling in the first place?

Review Roundup - Replication Errors

X-MEN APOCALYPSE (2016)

The original X-men series has its detractors, but I always found the original two to have plenty of likeable elements despite the changes to the source material. Part three on the other hand ... falls short of the mark. A lot of time people cite Bryan Singer's departure as a reason for this, unfortunately the same excuse cannot be used to explain this latest outing. As a third entry to a pretty loose prequel trilogy, it delivers well below what should have been expected. But why should it not be a winner after the last two? Building on what worked should have been an easy task. However for reasons that are just not clear this really isn't up to scratch, so let's explore what we are left with.


Review Roundup - Odd Couple

THE NICE GUYS (2016)


It's been a distressingly long time since Shane Black's last crime thriller, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. In the meantime we had a mixture of his usual material under all the blockbuster spectacle of Iron Man 3, but this is more in line with what I'd be expecting; a detective plot full of silly lines and idiosyncratic characters. I suppose the problem is that back in 2005 the formula didn't bring in enough of a return at the box office, and unfortunately the same is true here. Call it what you will, bad luck, poorly planned release dates, or lack of audience buzz. Maybe in another decade we'll get a third one of these types of stories. Such a wait is not a prospect that I welcome, since this one of 2016's best releases.

Scorecard

NOVEMBER


FILM OF THE MONTH Police Story ☆☆☆☆
Baraka ☆☆☆☆
Blackfish ☆☆☆☆
Crippled Avengers ☆☆☆☆
Nosferatu the Vampyre ☆☆☆☆
Predator ☆☆☆☆
Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny ☆☆☆☆
The Five Venoms ☆☆☆☆
Into the Inferno ☆☆☆☆
Five Elements Ninjas ☆☆☆☆
Gremlins ☆☆☆☆
Die Hard ☆☆☆☆
The Thing ☆☆☆☆