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11/20/2017 07:45

Film: The Legend of Hell House

Year: 1973

Director: John Hough

Writer: Richard Matheson

Starring: Roddy McDowall, Gayle Hunnicutt and Pamela Franklin

 

Review:

This film starts with a doctor being called into a room with a dying man. The dying man is played by Roland Culver and the man he calls in is played by Clive Revill. He offers him money to prove that there is life after death by conducting an experiment at the Belasco House, which is supposed to be the Mount Everest of haunted houses. It is commonly known as Hell House. Revill agrees, meeting with Culver’s helper, who is played by Peter Bowles about the equipment he needs.

The team that will be going is Revill, his wife played by Gayle Hunnicutt. Also going is a powerful young female psychic played by Pamela Franklin and the survivor of the last time a team went into the house. This man is played by Roddy McDowall.

Upon arriving at the house, they find a place that has a brooding atmosphere, but nothing happens at first. They go about getting settled and tour the house. They find there is a chapel, which seems odd for this house. They all go inside, except for Franklin. Something prevents her from going in.

Over their first meal, McDowall recounts the history of the house. He tells of when it was built, by whom and the depraved things that happened here. There was debauchery of all kinds including sexual depravity, drug use, bestiality and even necrophilia. It is after he tells what he knows that Franklin states that night she wants to sitting and tries to contact the spirits. Revill thinks this a good idea and will observe.

Franklin talks in a different voice than her normal one. No one really understands the things she is saying as they don’t make a lot of sense. She does have a phenomena happen that she produces plasma from her. Some of this is connected, but what shocks everyone is that she is not this type of medium.

It is from here that she starts to believe there is a spirit of the son of Emeric Belasco, the man that built the house. She does what she can to try to prove it to everyone there and that he needs to be set free. McDowall doesn’t believe her and is concern that she is too open to the house, that is going to kill her. Revill doesn’t believe there are any ghosts; just that Franklin is projecting these ideas and the energy trapped in the house is manifesting it. They do end up finding a body where she said they would and bury it.

Franklin tries to make him see that Daniel Belasco does exist and there is an event that happens in the dining room. The table shakes, food is tossed around and it is focused at Revill. This reaffirms his belief that Franklin is behind all of this.

Who is correct here? Can Franklin prove her point before it is too late? She is attacked by something in her room later that night as well by a cat later on. Or is Revill correct about the house and what is behind it? Can his machine fix the problem? Will they survive their time here and collect their reward?

This was the first time I had seen this film. I do believe that I caught part of it on one of the movie channels back when I was in junior high before going to school, but that would have been the extent of what I had seen. Prior to viewing the film, I actually had read the novel this is based on. What is interesting as well is the writer, Richard Matheson, is also the man that wrote this screenplay.

With that out of the way, the first thing I noticed from the novel to the film is that the sexuality and violence was toned down for a more brooding atmosphere. The house they used for the film definitely does embody that. To go along with it as well, they moved it from the United States to the United Kingdom. I didn’t mind this at all. This film does seem to move much faster than the novel and I think the film loses a bit by doing this. McDowall does seem to discover a lot of things without much backing of it and I think that hurts the film a bit. I will give the film credit, much like the novel the ending is a whirlwind and I liked it. I personally would like to see another adaptation of the novel that actually puts in more of the elements of the novel, than just hinting at them. I also really like the concept that we have supernatural vs. science. The film makes you question if it is haunted or if this is Franklin projecting and causing everything we see.

The acting in this film was really good. McDowall is really the star of the film and his acting is great. He is tame to start the film and I think the regret we start to see on his face as everything goes down is great. He is reserved to just surviving, but as bad things happen; he knows that he could have done more. Franklin is solid as the young psychic that is being played by the ghost. Revill comes off a little flat to me unfortunately. I also don’t see him as the doctor the novel puts out there. Hunnicutt was pretty good, but she doesn’t look as repressed as the character in the novel.

I really need to talk about the score here. I thought the choices for the music in the film were excellent. Coupled with the setting, it really helps to give the film that brooding feeling it needs. You feel that the house is oppressive and the soundtrack goes with it perfectly. I was a big fan. The editing of the film feels a little bit too fast for me. It moves through a lot of the story very quickly and I just wanted more. I feel this film could have been expanded to two hours and fleshed things out more while still building the tension that it did. Finally I come to effects. There wasn’t a lot that was done in the film. It all looked to be practical which helps the realism of the film.

Now with that said, I feel that for me reading the novel first hurt my impression of seeing this film for the first time. I loved the novel. I still enjoyed the film, but it was too tame for what I was hoping to see. I still really enjoy the story and glad that Matheson wrote both the novel and the film. I liked the ending of both. The acting was really good. The score of the film was amazing. The editing could have moved a little slower through the story and still built the tension that it needed, but it does at least build to the climax. There wasn’t a lot in the way of effects. The ones in the film helped build the realism. I think this film is an above average haunted house film that makes you wonder if it is really haunted or a medium projecting what is happening. I will warn you that this is from the early 1970s, so if you don’t like films from that era, I would avoid this one. If not, it is a pretty solid film to check out.

 

My Rating: 7 out of 10

11/19/2017 13:25

Film: House on Haunted Hill

Year: 1959

Director: William Castle

Writer: Robb White

Starring: Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart and Richard Long

 

Review:

This film begins with the screams of a woman and then we see a face appear. It belongs to Elisha Cook Jr. He warns us about the film before it starts up, that the house in this film has ghosts and is haunted. We then see the house that he is referring to and everyone in the film will be going to. Vincent Price’s face appears and introduces us to all of the characters. He is throwing a party for his wife in the most haunted house in the world and invited these guests for a good reason.

There is Richard Long, who is a gambler and a pilot. We have Alan Marshal, who is a doctor. Carolyn Craig is a woman that works for one of Price’s companies and she supports her whole family. Cook actually owns the house after his brother was murdered in it. Then finally there is Julie Mitchum. She is also a doctor of sorts as well. They are all coming to this house because Price, who is a millionaire, is offering everyone ten thousand dollars to stay the whole night.

They go inside the house and realize that none of them know each other. They introduce each other to themselves and Cook immediately starts in that the ghosts are moving that night. The steel door to the outside closes and locks on its own. This scares them. Craig is then almost killed when a chandelier falls and almost hits her. She is saved by Long who tackles her out of the way just in time.

Price then goes into a room where he meets with his wife; she is played by Carol Ohmart. She is not happy that he invited none of their friends and will not attend the party. Price tries to change her mind, stating he chose the guests for good reason. He then goes to take a drink of champagne and forces her to as well, thinking it could be poisoned.

He then goes down and meets with all of his guests. He informs them of the rules for the night and that they have until midnight to decide to stay before the caretakers leave. They go on a tour of the house, led by Cook. He takes them to the basement. He informs them that his brother was murdered by his wife and she killed herself. They are part of the ghosts that roam the house. Price reveals that there is a pit of acid under a trap door. Craig asks if it is still acid and a rat is tossed in. It becomes a skeleton almost immediately. Everyone goes upstairs, but Craig. She then sees a ghost appear in a doorway. It floats in and then leaves the same way. She flees to the group. Was what she seen really a ghost or something else?

Price then gives out party favors after his wife finally comes down. Everyone gets a gun and Cook tells them that it will have no effect. Long and Craig decide to go explore the house again.

Is this house really haunted or is there something else going on here? Are all of these people really strangers to each other? Can they survive the night?

Now I have to admit that I saw this film for the first time after I saw the remake. The first time I did see this film, I hated it, mostly because of the ending. This is now the third viewing I have had of it and I have to say that I appreciate it much more with each viewing. The first thing about the story that I love is that this film makes you wonder if the house is really haunted like Cook keeps carrying on or if it isn’t. We get a few things that we see show that the place isn’t haunted, but there are things that still make you wonder as well. I also love that everyone is skeptical except Cook. I still am not a fan of the ending though, because it just ends. From what I gather, everything that happens after the final scene is of no consequence. This film does a great back and forth though.

The acting in this film is amazing. I don’t have much to say about Price except that he is at his best and shows why he truly is a horror film legend. Ohmart is solid as his wife that despises him, but is still coy about it. Craig does a lot of screaming and she is great at it. Cook is actually very good in this film as well. He is the only believer that it is haunted at first and even though Craig starts to agree, he doesn’t waiver at all in his beliefs. Leona Anderson plays a creepy woman and does it very well. The rest of the cast round it out as well.

I have to point out here the music. The selections they made for the score was absolutely amazing. It makes each scene feel so creepy and I loved it. I think without this, I might not be as big a fan of the film, but whenever they need to build tension, they have the right selection of music playing. I thought the editing of the film was good. It builds tension as it goes and I have no complaints there. There isn’t a whole lot in the way of effects in this film, but the ones they use for the most part look good. Seeing Anderson float, you can tell a dummy is used, but I thought that made it look even creepier than having her move that way. I give it props for that actually.

Now with that said, I would recommend this film if you are in haunted house films. Now this film makes you question if there is technically a real haunting here or something else happening here. I’m not a huge fan of the ending, but I get what they are doing. The acting in this film is amazing as well as the score of the film. The editing is well done in building tension and I thought the effects were good for the most part. I need to warn you that this is a classic coming from 1959 so it is in black and white. If you have an issue with that, avoid this film. If not, I definitely recommend this if you are into the genre.

 

My Rating:  out of 10

11/18/2017 10:29

Film: Cold Fish (Tsumetai nettaigyo)

Year: 2010

Director: Sion Sono

Writer: Sion Sono and Yoshiki Takahashi

Starring: Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Denden and Asuka Kurosawa

 

Review:

This film begins informing us that this based on a true story. We then see a woman grabbing some things from the store. She is played by Megumi Kagurazaka. She then goes home and starts dinner. Everything that she makes is from the microwave. We then see that she is married to Mitsuru Fukikoshi. He has a daughter who is a teenager, played by Hikari Kajiwara. We learn later that Fukikoshi’s first wife passed away and Kagurazaka is the younger stepmother to Kajiwara. The daughter is currently rebelling and leaves with her boyfriend.

We see from their interactions that Kagurazaka is unhappy and Fukikoshi is too quiet to do anything. It is raining and Kagurazaka sneaks off to have a cigarette. Fukikoshi gets a call that his daughter has been caught shoplifting. Fukikoshi runs a pet shop that specializes in fish. The married couple goes off into the night to the store that is detaining his daughter. Before they do, Fukikoshi finds Kagurazaka smoking, but doesn’t say anything. He pretends not to notice and calls her name, allowing her to pretend like he didn’t see it.

They go to the store and the man who caught her is going off. He wants to prosecute and call the police. Another man comes into the room though. He is played by Denden. He calms the man down and then invites the family to his pet shop, which also specializes in rare fish. The family is grateful and takes him up on his offer. It changes their lives completely.

Denden offers to give Kajiwara a job and have her stay at the shop like the rest of the girls he has working for him. Fukikoshi doesn’t say a whole lot about it, but Kajiwara really wants to do it. Denden is married to Asuka Kurosawa. Denden has Fukikoshi go on home and has Kagurazaka stay behind. He comes on to her roughly and she resists at first. They end up having sex on the floor of his office. He then returns her home, where she shows she enjoyed their interaction. While there, he tells Fukikoshi to come back to his shop. He declines at first, but Kagurazaka explains to him that he has a business opportunity.

Fukikoshi relents and goes back. There he sees his daughter who blows him off. He goes into the office to find Denden, Kurosawa, their legal counsel, who is played by Tetsu Watanabe, and another man. We learn later that he has Yazuka ties. They are talking business about going in together to purchase two rare fish, which Denden already has, and then to breed them. He claims that each fish will sell for 10 million yen. Fukikoshi was brought in to convince this man to buy into this opportunity. Fukikoshi thinks he is being asked to pay in as well, but he is there to take care of the fish since Denden thinks he is the best.

A much darker thing happens though. The man is murdered and Fukikoshi is forced to help Denden and Kurosawa get his body into a car. Fukikoshi then drives them to a shack on a nearby mountain where they dispose of the body. The man’s watch is given to Fukikoshi. He doesn’t know if he wants to get mixed up in this, but no matter what happens, he gets pulled into it. This will lead into more murder and backstabbing, as well as the cops. Can Fukikoshi get out of this with his family or will they fall victim to this psychotic man?

I came in viewing this film due to a podcast and a movie challenge. I didn’t know much about it other than it stated to be based on a true story. I did see that it is loosely based on couple that did murder people, but this story of the film is mostly fictional. My favorite part of the story though is Fukikoshi and his character. He starts off as a timid man and he is pushed farther and farther until he finally snaps. I loved this turn in character for him. I was actually surprised how the film ended though, but it didn’t bother me. Any ending that isn’t Hollywood or happy, I’m a big fan of. The atrocities they commit are crazy to see as well.

The acting for this film is really good. Fukikoshi plays the role great. He was very timid in the beginning and I believed it. As you see him getting pushed and pulled each way, you see him starting to break and I loved it. The way he snapped and what happened seemed very believable. Denden was great as well. He was so happy and then you see the horrible acts he performs. It is a great look at the character you portray to the public and can hide a monster like this behind closed doors. The rest of the cast also helps support these two.

The effects of this film were good. The gore looked real and it was quite gross at times. Seeing Denden and Kurosawa covered in blood as they are trying to make people to disappear was interesting to see. I believe the effects were all practical and were very well done. The editing of the film was good to me as well. The film runs a little over two hours and it really didn’t feel like it. Things happen in a whirlwind, yet it works. There are parts that let breathe for a second before craziness starts up again. I thought the score of the film was good. It doesn’t stand out, but it also doesn’t hurt the film either.

I would recommend this film. I thought the story was quite interesting in that you have a timid man who is losing his family, but in turn loses everything as he things a man with more money than him tries to help him. It is great to see Fukikoshi pushed to the edge and losing control. Denden is a psychopath that hides it well which was something else that was great to see. The effects of the film look realistic and I was a big fan. The editing of the film was well done. The score didn’t stand out, but it also doesn’t hurt it. Now I will warn you that this film is from Japan and I had to watch it with subtitles. If that is a problem, avoid this. If not, I definitely think this film is good and worth a viewing.

 

My Rating: 8 out of 10

11/15/2017 20:22

Film: The Fly II

Year: 1989

Director: Chris Walas

Writer: Mick Garris, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat and Frank Darabont

Starring: Eric Stoltz, Daphen Zuniga and Lee Richardson

 

Review:

This film begins with a woman who is having a baby; she is played by Saffron Henderson. She is taking over the role of Geena Davis from the previous film. In an observation room above is the man that is running the company that was paying for experiments that Jeff Goldblum was conducting in the pervious film as well, the head of the company played by Lee Richardson. He is upset that he wasn’t inform of her going into labor until now and apparently it was sudden. Also watching is the ex-boyfriend of Henderson, played by John Getz. He isn’t happy that she is in so much pain. Richardson gives birth to a giant maggot baby and then she dies from complications. Emerging from the maggot though is what looks to be a normal human boy.

The baby has genes that cause it age much faster than it should. At 11 months, the baby already looks like he is four years old, played at this time by Matthew Moore. Richardson states that he will only answer to God in terms of the child, but he tasks two doctors to look after him and conduct experiments. These two are played by Frank C. Turner and Ann Marie Lee. Richardson gains the boy’s trust telling him that he should see him as his father.

This child grows in a couple years to be Harley Cross. We learn that he has a photographic memory and absorbs a lot of information. He has an attitude toward his doctors. Turner wants him to do tests that are below his intelligence level and Lee is not very nice when it comes to giving him his shots. These are to keep his rapid growth in check. Cross learns to sneak out of his room and then get to a different level where Richardson spends most of his time. Cross befriends a dog and sees a traumatic event where the dog is attempted to be teleported by the pods his father created, but it comes out wrong and agitated.

At the boy’s fifth birthday, he is now Eric Stoltz. He is allowed to leave the room he has grown up in and Richardson gives him his own apartment on the campus. He is also given a job working on the research his father created. He successfully teleports a phone, but cannot get anything living. He ends up meeting Daphne Zuniga. They hit it off and start to hang out. Their feelings grow, but there is a problem with Stoltz. The shots are no longer stopping what his happening to him. He isn’t getting older, but other changes are taking place. He also learns that Richardson might not be the nice guy Stoltz that he was.

Can Stoltz cure what is happening to him before it is too late? Has he found a way to stop it? What is Richardson’s real plan for Stoltz?

I should lead off stating that I am a huge fan of the original. This film picks up months after the original. It is interesting in that Davis’ nightmare from the original actually comes true in this one. I thought the concept was good. It seems somewhat realistic that the boy would be born as a maggot, much like a fly. Now someone brought up the point on a podcast I listen to that the gene splicing would mean he would come out merged with it and not grow like he did. This actually goes for the original and this film. I am willing to overlook that. I did have an issue that Stoltz goes into a cocoon before becoming the monster in this film. The reason I have a major issue is that flies do not go into cocoons so it doesn’t make sense. This film has pacing issues, but the overall story isn’t bad. I also absolutely hated the ending. I don’t mind a happy ending if it makes sense, this one doesn’t. For one thing the teleportation wouldn’t work like he has it since one of the people is wearing clothing. Teleporting requires the person to be naked or they could be fused together with whatever comes through.

For the acting, I thought that Stoltz did really well in the lead actually. He needed to play someone who doesn’t have a lot of emotions which he did. He is socially awkward, which makes since being that Stoltz is still a five year old boy in a man’s body. He is also super smart which can hinder someone being able to connect with others. I liked Zuniga as his love interest. She is smart and plays the Davis character in this one well in my opinion. I liked that Getz reprised his role for the minor character that he was. I thought Richardson did great as well. What is interesting about him is that he does come off really caring about Stoltz and then we get see the truth behind him. It isn’t a shock, but still interesting. Turner and Lee are great as the fed-up doctors as well.

First I want to talk about the effects in this film. I actually think they are good. The creature at the end of the film looked to be done with practical effects and I liked it. Now it does have issues like the teeth that it has. Flies don’t have them, but it used the bile that is acid-like which is good. I hated the cocoon though since that doesn’t make sense. The blood and violence of the film was good, but there really isn’t much of that. It all comes at the climax. This film does have editing issues to me. The story coupled with that resulted in the film being boring to me. I was disappointed there. The soundtrack does have a classic feel to it, which I did enjoy.

Now with that said, I wouldn’t recommend this film. The story has a lot of problems. I liked that it continued the first one, but I had an issue in that they should have thought out some of the things a little more to build more realism to a film that we have to bend disbelief so much for. The acting is actually pretty solid and a bright spot of the film. I liked the practical effects that were used. There isn’t a lot of blood and violence, but when we get it, it is good. The editing has some issues and results in a pacing issue. The soundtrack was good though. This is a very average film that is a sequel to a great film. I would only recommend if you want to see the story concluded, if not then I’d avoid this one.

 

My Rating: 5 out of 10

11/14/2017 19:40

Film: Jigsaw

Year: 2017

Director: Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig

Writer: Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg

Starring: Matt Passmore, Tobin Bell and Callum Keith Rennie

 

Review:

This film begins with a police checkpoint. There is a man who is running through it and gets his tires blown out by a spike strip. The criminal is played by Josiah Black. He runs into a warehouse building and goes up to the roof. He finds a tape recorder. He plays it and he is part of a Jigsaw game, even though John Kramer has been dead for ten years. He is played again in this film by Tobin Bell. Black learns that he needs to hit a trigger to start a game for five people or he will die.

He is held at gunpoint as a detective shows up; he is played by Callum Keith Rennie. His partner with him is played by Clé Bennett. Rennie commands to aim on the remote that is in Black’s hand and to shoot if he pulls it. Black pulls it and they shoot his hand. Someone also hits him in the chest. He is taken to the hospital where they put him in a coma to try to save him.

We then see the game that is being played. There are five people who are in this one. The game tells them that they need to shed blood. There is a woman who puts together how to get this to stop and starts to change the minds of everyone else in the game to cut themselves as well. They have buckets on their head with eye slits and chains around their neck, pulling them to saw blades. The two males in the game follow her lead, but a woman doesn’t. She ends up getting her back cut up. There is another male who doesn’t wake up in time and is killed by the blades.

This then unlocks the helmets. We see that the woman who discovered how to get free is played by Laura Vandervoort. The two men are played by Mandela Van Peebles and Paul Braunstein, the latter being the asshole that is rude to the rest of the group. The other woman is played by Brittany Allen as well. During the first game they’ve played, they were told that they need to repent for their past sins if they want to survive this game. Can they come to terms with what they did and survive the other games or will they fall victim?

Running concurrent to this are the two detectives, Rennie and Bennett, trying to find it if there really is a game going on like Black stated. They start to believe when the body of a man is found hanging from a bridge. There is a bucket on his head and chain around his neck, just like in the game that the others are playing. The pathologist in charge is played by Matt Passmore. His assistant is played by Hannah Emily Anderson. They find a jigsaw cut on the dead man’s face and inside of the wound is a flash drive with information on it. They hear Bell’s voice as well as that there are 4 other victims that will be coming.

Is Bell really dead or is this a copycat? Can the truth be discovered before it is too late?

Now I will give the Saw franchise credit, in that they continue to add films to the series, but keep the story going forward without violating what happened in past films. This film does do that as well, which is impressive the amount of time that has gone on between films. I thought the story of this film was pretty solid even as a stand alone. There were a couple of things that happen that I’m not sure are possible, but it doesn’t ruin the film. There were a couple of twists that I thought were good as well as some red herrings who the killer could be. I’m proud of myself for not falling for them and guessing who the killer was, but I didn’t mind that aspect of the film. The story was well done in my opinion.

The acting in this film was pretty good. I thought Passmore played his role very well. He was quite convincing and his back-story was solid. Bell did great as usual in his role. I liked Rennie as the asshole detective. Anderson looked great and played her role very well. Bennett was solid. I was glad to see Vandervoort and I have to give her a shout-out. I’ve had a crush on her ever since I saw her in V and I thought she did a solid job in this film as well. The rest of those in the game I thought were good too. They showed real terror and pain as they are tested.

Next I should touch on the effects. I do think some of them might have been done practically, but for the most part they are definitely CGI. It looked good despite this and some of it made me cringe. That to me is something I really like when that can be done. I thought the editing of this is well done also. It never really drags at any point and they do a solid job moving between both the ones in the game and the much larger game of finding out the truth of all this. It had a good balance to me. Finally I will touch on the score. I love the Jigsaw theme. This film I believe had a couple of variations on it and I was impressed with that. I love the orchestra sounding music as it has an epic feel for a film that has such an intricate story. It fits perfectly.

Now with that said, is this film best in the series? No, but I do think that it is better than some of the later installments. The story fits with the other ones and now has opened itself to more sequels if they would like to do that. I think the individual story for this one is good. The twists they have are interesting and I liked the ending. The acting was good in the film as well as the effects. I thought the editing of the film helped to build tension and keep you guessing as to what would happen next. The score of the film fits perfectly in as well. I think this film is above average if you the main-stream ‘torture porn’ films. I think the story of this one is much better than most in the genre. I would recommend giving this one a viewing though, especially if you like the series.

 

My Rating: 6 out of 10

11/12/2017 14:59

Film: The Eye III (Gin gwai 10)

Year: 2005

Director: Danny Pang and Oxide Chun Pang

Writer: Mark Wu

Starring: Bo-lin Chen, Yan Kam Ching and Ng Wing Chuen

 

Review:

This film starts off showing us a woman, played by Tanyapan Jansiw, that is possessed. She is placed in a circle of monks and we see they are chanting. She levitates off the ground and spins around. She starts to attack the monks with her tongue and other parts of her body.

We then shift to follow a group of five people that are on vacation in Thailand. They are at an amusement park having a good time and get on a bus. They are played by Bo-lin Chen, who has a video camera. His cousin is played by Kate Yeung. There is a couple played by Isabella Leong and Yu Gu. Then finally Ray MacDonald is their other friend on this trip. The bus slows down when it comes upon an accident where a young woman was killed. Chen videos it as they go by, with Yeung hitting him for it. A woman then gets on the bus with two little boys, she is played by Bongkoj Khongmalai. The group messes with the kids until they get her to smile.

They go back to MacDonald’s house and tell ghost stories. When it finally comes to him, he tells them about a book he purchased that tells you how to contact the dead. The first two stories in it are actually the stories from the previous two films, the first of a transplanted corneas making a woman see ghosts, while the other is a pregnant woman attempting to commit suicide. He was warned when he bought the book never to turn to the final page though.

The group then decides to do this to try to see ghosts. It is pointed out that they might not all see them as people are different with their abilities. The first one they try is an Asian version of an Ouija board. Gu sees a smoky thing come into the room and help move the glass. They all start to scream and MacDonald’s mother scolds them for being up and loud, she is played by Pisamai Pakdeevijit.

The next one takes them outside where they try to lure hungry ghosts with a meal and tapping chop sticks on bowls. This draws a lot of them freaking out Chen. Everyone ends up seeing the ghosts, but Yeung. She forces them to continue on to the next one.

This one takes them out into the woods to play hide-and-seek. One of them will not be able to be found due to ghosts. They have a cat with them that will help break the spell. The person ends up being Gu. He urinates on a ghost without knowing it and disappears. The cat dies and they can’t find him.

Leong freaks out. She wants to find her boyfriend so she tries to do the next one. This involves her digging up a corpse and rubbing the mud of it on her eyes. She has visions of the spirit world and her eyes falls out. There is a red world behind it. She is saved by Pakdeevijit who cleans her eyes off and scolds them for what they are doing. She doesn’t know how to save Gu who is still missing.

Chen and Yeung return to Hong Kong, much to the displeasure of Pakdeevijit, who thinks they are cowards. Leong continues to try to find Gu and does the next one, which involves combing her hair at midnight. MacDonald looks more into the book and finds at the bookstore there is a bunch of copies, but the drawings inside have changed. It now shows him and his friends inside of the version he has. Pakdeevijit claims that he has casted a spell on them and that they have to finish what they started to break it.

Can Chen and Yeung flee from this or will it follow them to Hong Kong? Chen starts to see Khongmalai from the bus ride as well. Leong also vanishes and MacDonald tries to get the two to come back to Thailand. Can the two missing friends be found before it is too late?

I have to say that I liked the original film in the series as well as I thought the sequel wasn’t bad. I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. This one went too comedic at times for me and doesn’t feel like it belongs in the series. What I did like was all of the different ways that they state could conjure up spirits. I don’t know if this is really part of their culture or not, but I found it interesting if it was. There was a twist at the end that I liked, but it kind of doesn’t make sense though. The person wouldn’t have disappeared like they stated or it just wasn’t explained enough. I did like the ending though and thought it was against the norm of what you see in a lot of films.

The acting in this film was not as good as the other films in the series. I had to watch it with subtitles on, since I don’t speak the three languages used, so that does make it harder for me to judge as well. Much like I said with the story though, this one took the roles a little bit more comedic and it didn’t fit the film or the series to me. I did like Leong and wanting her to find her boyfriend. Same with MacDonald, even though his mother is a medium and he still tempted the spirits like he did. I did feel that all the actors did show genuine fear, even if they kept tempting the spirits after they were seen early on.

I was not impressed by the effects of this film. All the films in the series seemed to use CGI, but this one was the worst with it. During the Ouija game, the ghost looked fake in that. When they are in the spirit world trying to keep spirits away was another point that I was annoyed with the film. The spirits during the food one I did like though. The editing of the film was fine. It has a low running time and I felt it did build tension that you need to the climax. The score of the film didn’t stand out to me though. It also doesn’t hurt the film either.

With that said, I was disappointed in this film and it doesn’t seem to fit in with The Eye series of films. I did like the continuity of referencing the previous two, which was a good touch. I also liked all the different ways they could contact spirits. My issue came that they tried to go comedy with this one and I felt it didn’t fit. The acting for the most part is pretty good, but there are some moments I had issues with. The CGI was bad aside from a couple spots to me. The editing was okay and the score didn’t hurt or help the film. I felt this was just average by itself of people being haunted by ghosts that they conjure up for fun. I will warn this film is from Hong Kong and I had to watch it with subtitles, so keep that in mind coming into this one.

 

My Rating: 5 out of 10

11/09/2017 19:05

Film: The Eye II (Gin gwai II)

Year: 2004

Director: Danny Pang and Oxide Chun Pang

Writer: Yuet-Jan Hui

Starring: Qi Shu, Eugenia Yuan and Jesdaporn Pholdee

 

Review:

This film begins with a woman in a store; she is played by Qi Shu. She is trying to buy a tie for her boyfriend, but he won’t answer her. He tells her that he can’t talk right now. She gets upset and continues on her shopping spree. She ends up getting a hotel room where she goes to commit suicide. This is a cry for help. She takes a lot of pills in a new red dress. She hallucinates that there are people around her bed that she talks to. It turns out to be ghosts. She tries to call her boyfriend back and he shuts her down again. People bust in to save her.

She recovers and learns that she is pregnant. She tries to call her boyfriend again, but he is ignoring her. The other problem is that she is seeing ghosts everywhere. At first she doesn’t know they are, but the more they go on she starts to lose her mind.

Her boyfriend is played by Jesdaporn Pholdee. We see him leaving his office and checking his phone. Shu is watching him as she is ignored. She then goes to the doctor and she asks to abort this baby. He informs her that this would be her second abortion and he doesn’t recommend it. She might not be able to bear children when she decides to if she takes this route. He talks her out of it.

Pholdee finally breaks down and visits her. She was having her furniture taken out, but she stops them. They talk for a little bit and we see that he doesn’t want to be a part of her life. Also around this time, there is a moment where Shu sees a woman staring at her. She has a stroller and moves toward the rails of a subway. The woman is played by Eugenia Yuan. Shu tries to save her and then she blacks out.

Shu then wakes up in the hospital. They accuse her of trying to kill herself again and she informs them that this is not the case. She was trying to prevent the other woman from doing this.

We then see that Shu has decided to keep the baby and starts going to a class to prepare1 for having her baby. There is moment where she goes into the locker room and sees someone from the class crying, she is played Yuan Yuan Ren. She tells her husband has disappeared. Shu then asks about the man that is sitting across from her, played by Chuwong Earsakul, if that is her husband. Ren tells her not to try to scare her.

Shu sees more ghosts as she goes that freak her out. She sees some fall to their death in front of her. She also sees on in the back of a taxi that causes her to vomit. She also goes to the hospital with bleeding from her vagina. While in the elevator, she sees a ghost float down and try to go into a pregnant woman. She freaks out.

We also get a scene where Shu is almost raped and she attacks her attacker. She goes into a trance and leaves the rapist, played by Chi Tai Lam, with bad injuries. She is shook by this as well as realizing who Yuan really is. Knowing now what the ghosts are out to do, can she prevent Yuan from taking over her baby? Is there a way to prevent it without hurting herself or her child?

Now I watched this one, because I didn’t mind the American remake of the original film, which led me to the sequel of the Japanese film. I liked that they did something different with the story here. The myth they use for this film is that near-death experiences or having a baby cause people to see ghosts. Shu has experienced both of these recently which is why she is plagued. I also liked that we see why those that are pregnant tend to see ghosts and it makes sense. It is an interesting concept that I didn’t mind. I did find the film to be a little bit boring. We did get to see more ghosts in this one, but it didn’t carry as much fear with me. That was disappointing. I did enjoy the ending though.

The acting is something hard for me to grade in this. I thought everyone I saw was solid, but it is hard when you are watching a film with subtitles on and trying to focus on the performances. What I saw I thought Shu did solid. She comes off very immature to start, but being pregnant really makes her grow up. I thought there was a lot of character growth there and it was solid. Pholdee wasn’t bad and his character is realistic. I feel overall the acting was solid.

This film was good in the effects department as well. Some of the ghosts were done with practical effects and they looked realistic which is a plus. Some also had to be CGI and I thought those even looked real. I’m impressed that they utilized both of these very well. The editing of the film was okay. I did find myself a little bit bored at times and think that it could have been tightened up. I think they tried to show more ghosts, but it doesn’t add more tension. Some of just seemed unneeded. The score of the film also didn’t stand out to be, but also doesn’t hurt the film either.

Now with that said, this isn’t a bad sequel. I would recommend this one, especially if you liked the original film. I think this one tried to add to the mythology with doing something different. I didn’t mind this at all. The point they are trying to get across with the ghosts was good. I thought the acting was solid from what I could tell. The practical and CGI effects of the film looked good to me and I had no complaints there. The editing could use some work and I think needed to be tightened up. The score also doesn’t add or hurt the film in my opinion. Now I will warn you that I watched this with subtitles on, but I also think there could be a dubbed version as well. If that is an issue avoid this. If not, I feel that this is an above average ghost/haunting film with an interesting premise.

 

My Rating: 6 out of 10

11/07/2017 18:50

Film: The Eye

Year: 2008

Director: David Moreau and Xavier Palud

Writer: Sebastian Gutierrez

Starring: Jessica Alba, Alessandro Nivola and Parker Posey

 

Review:

This film follows a young violinist, played by Jessica Alba. She plays in an orchestra that is led by Rade Serbedzija. The first images we get though are of another woman, played by Fernanda Romero. There is fire and that’s when we cut to Alba.

She is nervous because she has not been able to see since she was five years old. The following day she is going to get a cornea transplant. Her sister, played by Parker Posey, is coming to take care of her as well.

The surgery is a success. She has bandages over her eyes and during this time she is visited by a little girl, played by Chloë Grace Moretz. Moretz has a tumor in her head that she is getting removed and Alba promises to officially meet her once she can finally see.

The doctor who performed the surgery is played by Obba Babtundé. He takes off the bandages and Alba can see, but everything is very blurry. In the background she notices a shadowy figure that leaves the room.

Later that night, she sees one of these blurry dark entities again, but it takes the woman in bed next to her on a walk. Alba then learns the next morning that the woman passed away. She is upset by this and wonders who the visitor that came to her was.

Now with her sight back, she has to work with a doctor to learn what things are in her life. She hasn’t been able to see for so long, she has forgotten. This doctor is played by Alessandro Nivola.

The visions do not stop for Alba though and they are starting to bother her. She goes to get coffee with Serbedzija and while he is at the counter, she sees a woman. This woman comes at her, causing Alba to fall over. We do see when the sugar that was spilled is getting cleaned up; there are four fingers like marks in it. Alba also wakes up after one A.M. every night and her room is changed to another.

This causes Alba to start to look into who the eyes she has came from. There are more ghosts and these dark entities that she sees, with the entities only appearing when someone is about to die. Alba does do research and figures out that there is some evidence that cells might hold memories and that could be causing what she is seeing.

Is that what is happening? What are the visions she is seeing mean? Can she solve this problem before it drives her insane? Will she figure out who the corneas belong and be able to see what the other person wanted?

This is my second time viewing this film. I wasn’t a huge fan the first time that I saw it, but I did watch the original Japanese film that is a remake of. I did like that one and that helped me with have a new appreciation of this one. Now I am not going to compare the two all that much, I just wanted to point this out. I will say that this version does have a much more coherent story. It follows a path that makes sense and I liked that about this one. I liked the idea that she is seeing things, but doesn’t know what is real or what is fake. I think this is something we would have issues with if we didn’t have sight. It would be something that would drive you mad, which is what is happening to Alba in this. I liked the story and how it plays out as well. This is one is not as much horror though as the original version unfortunately.

I will say that the acting of this film isn’t bad. Alba is okay in the main role. She is very attractive, but her acting isn’t the greatest. I thought she was decent in this film though. Nivola is kind of arrogant and I wasn’t a huge fan of him. He does make a solid turn by the climax of film though. Posey doesn’t have a lot of screen time. The time that does have is pretty good. I also liked Romero, I thought she was very attractive. She plays a minor role, but did it pretty well. It was good to see Rachel Ticotin and Moretz in this film as well.

I thought the effects of this film were well done. The dark entities that we see are CGI, but it looked pretty realistic. I thought some of the ghost jump scares which were done similar also looked good. The blending of her room was done with computers as well and I found that to also be well done. The score of the film does have Alba playing violin. I did read that she actually learned how to play it, but not sure if that is actually her we hear. The score stands out at times where they are trying to ramp up the tension, but at other times it didn’t. This part of the film didn’t hurt it either way for me. I did also find the editing of the film to be good, as the film never really drags and does move through at a good pace.

Now with that said though, this film isn’t great. I think the original is much better, but this is a decent American remake. This story is much more concise and there is a part in this one that is much less confusing that in the Japanese counterpart. I did find the acting to be okay, but no one really stands out. Alba and Romero are quite easy on the eyes and that helped the film for me. I thought the effects of this film were good. The score was good at times. The editing of the film was well done as well. I just think that his film is slightly above average. They toned down the fear and that hurt it for me. If you liked the original, I would say give this a viewing. If you are into these types of films, I think you will find it at least fun to view.

 

My Rating: 6 out of 10

11/06/2017 18:50

Film: Happy Death Day

Year: 2017

Director: Christopher Landon

Writer: Scott Lobdell

Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard and Ruby Modine

 

Review:

This film starts with a sorority girl, played by Jessica Rothe, waking up in a dorm room. The room belongs to Israel Broussard. He is interested in her and she doesn’t seem to be as thrilled. His roommate busts in as she leaves. As she is doing her walk of shame, she sees some weird things, including a guy she went on a date with. Rothe has an attitude and goes back to her sorority house. She is stopped just inside by one of her sisters, played by Rachel Matthews. Matthews asks her about what happened last night and Rothe is cryptic in her answers.

She gets up to her room and talks with her roommate, who is played by Ruby Modine. Modine tells her the embarrassing things she did that night and then reveals that she knows it is her birth date. Rothe blows her off and realizes she is late for class. She makes it there and it is being taught by Charles Aitken, who doesn’t say anything about her disrupting.

Rothe then goes to a meeting for her sorority at lunch. Matthews leads it and starts to belittle another of the sisters for what she is eating, this woman played by Cariella Smith. Smith goes to leave and bumps into Broussard, spilling a chocolate shake on Rothe. They talk away from the group and he leaves in embarrassment.

We then see that Rothe is fooling around with Aitken. Modine tells her before she gets up there that it isn’t a good idea. We also see that there is someone who is under arrest, but currently hospitalized as well. Rothe goes into Aitken’s office, but they are interrupted by his wife, who is played by Laura Clifton.

There is a party that night and Rothe is going later. It should also be pointed out that her father keeps trying to get a hold of her that day and she is ignoring him. The power goes out around 9 and it seems to be something that is happening regularly on this campus.

Rothe walks toward this party until she gets to a tunnel. She finds a weird music ornament. As she looks at it, we see a killer step out behind her, wearing a baby mask that is the mascot of the college team. Rothe tries to flee, but she is murdered.

She then wakes up again in Broussard’s room. She isn’t sure if she really lived through what she experience or if she is just having déjà vu. She goes about her day in the same way she did the first time, but instead she takes a different route to the party. It turns out to be for her birthday. She punches a guy out when she steps in, thinking it is the killer. It turns out to be Blaine Kern III. Rothe shows some interest in him, but Matthews wants him too. Rothe ends up in his room. It is cut short when the killer kills them both.

Rothe wakes up yet again in the bedroom of Broussard. Rothe again goes about her day and is murdered. She tells Modine about what is happening to her and one of the days she goes out with Broussard, telling him what happened to her. He tells her that if she keeps reliving this, then she should use this to her advantage and try to solve her murder. The problem though is that every time she dies, the trauma that kills her has its effect on her body internally.

Can she find who the killer is before it is too late? Is it this man that is being watched by the police or is it someone else? Can this curse be broken?

I became interested in seeing this film after seeing a trailer for it. My initial thought was that this is the horror version of the film Groundhog’s Day, which is funny that Broussard actually brings up this film. I like this concept. It would be horrible that every day you die, no matter what you do. I also like the idea that the trauma she experiences has its effect on her as well. This film has a solid twist at the end of it that I didn’t see coming, which I was a fan of. There are so many red herrings, but I’m fine with that. This film though is somewhat of a chick flick. The character arch of Rothe is solid, but I could have done without what she does as it was a little bit too happy go lucky for my liking. We also never learn why it is happening to her, other than it is her birthday and she has to solve it to break the curse.

There was some decent acting in this film. I thought Rothe was pretty cute and she did a solid job. She comes off as a bitch in the beginning and I hated her. The more times that she dies, the more that she realizes how she is living her life isn’t good and that it isn’t too late. By the end of the film, I thought she did portraying her character arch. I actually really liked Broussard. He has that loveable loser about him and I wanted him to get the girl. I also loved his ‘They Live’ poster in his room. The rest of the cast were solid, even though Matthews overplays her role. I think she was required to be that way, so I won’t hold it against her too much.

I was disappointed in the effects of this film. They decided to go PG-13 for this film, so all of the deaths are done off screen. They set up some that would have really helped this film to show them. The little blood we got did look good though. The editing of this film was fine. It runs 96 minutes and it builds tension through the story. It would have been better though if they would have allowed it playing up the horror. The score was decent. The normal music they used was too much pop for a film like this. It just didn’t fit. The dramatic score they used was fine though.

Now with that said this horror film I’d actually recommend to people that like chick flicks. It plays a lot like those films. Diehard fans of the genre are not going to be big fans in my eyes. The story is an interesting one and I like how they played it. I just think that they should have showed the deaths on screen and it would have helped the film. The acting is good; I don’t really have any complaints there. The two leads did really well. The editing was fine, but the film just wasn’t exciting and it does make it slightly boring unfortunately. The score was also decent, with the pop music being too much and the dramatic score helping build the tension. This film is slightly above average, it does some good things, but just fails to live up to the potential it had in my eyes.

 

My Rating: 6 out of 10

11/05/2017 12:33

Film: The Eye (Gin gwai)

Year: 2002

Director: Danny Pang and Oxide Chun Pang

Writer: Yuet-Jan Hui, Danny Pang and Oxide Chun Pang

Starring: Angelica Lee, Chutcha Rujinanon and Lawrence Chou

 

Review:

This film follows a young woman played by Angelica Lee. We learn that she has been blind since she was two years old. She goes into the hospital where they perform a cornea transplant that will allow her to see. The doctor that performed the operation is played by Edmund Chen.

Lee is in recovery when a girl wakes up her, played by Yut Lai So. She has a brain tumor and has a lot of surgeries to correct it. They make a deal to go outside once Lee can see. She has bandages over her eyes. Lee is taken to a room with Chen, a nurse, her grandmother played by Yin Ping Ko and her sister played by Candy Lo. As they are taking off the bandages we see that it is too bright and hurts. Everything is blurry, but Lee sees a figure in a corner away from everyone. They delay taking them off.

Soon after this, Lee gets up in the night to see an old woman, played by Jinda Duangtoy, in a hallway. There is a shadow figure with her that frightens Lee. It turns out that Duangtoy has died in the night. Before Lee is discharged, there is a scene where Lee takes a picture with So.

Lee is taken to another doctor that will help her with learning what things are in the world. During this drive though, she sees a figure on the highway. She is used to touching them and needs to learn what they look like by sight. It turns out this doctor is played by Lawrence Chou. He is the nephew of Chen. Lo is a flight attendant and asks if Chou can make sure her sister can make it home as she has a flight to catch.

Ko starts to show Lee videos her father made for her when she was a girl. There is a knock at the door and there is a boy there. He asks if she has seen his report card and she tells him no. Ko asks who it is and she tells her, Ko then responds he is messing with her. The boy is gone from the door and Lee goes into the hallway. She sees him outside of a door, eating a candle. She joins him, but when the door opens and boy is gone.

Lee starts to think that she is seeing ghosts. This is confirmed when she goes to a restaurant and woman working sees them too. She goes to Chou for help and he doesn’t believe her at first. This is starting to drive her crazy, to the point where Chou goes to Chen to tell him he has to help her. Chen doesn’t believe, but Chou is out to help her in anyway that she can.

Lee goes to visit So and learns she has passed away. This shadow figure appears again as well as with a boy who was hit by a car. Lee is given a card and sees inside of it a picture of her with So. She asks who the woman is in the picture and Chou asks if she doesn’t recognize herself. She freaks out, because that’s not how she looks in the mirror. She is haunted by nightmares and another room.

Can she figure out the truth? Who is the person she is seeing in the mirror? Did something happen to her? Is Lee the one with the powers of sight or was it the transplant that gave her this?

Now I have to say that I did see the American remake years ago and I normally prefer the Asian version better and this is definitely the case here. I felt that this film delivered on the scares where from what I remember about the other version was that it didn’t. Many of the ghosts we see are really creepy. The two that really stuck out to me is a woman with her baby in the restaurant and an old man in an elevator. I felt the story for this film was solid. The film does present that Lee might be sensitive to ghosts to start with, but then we really see that the corneas she is given was from a person who had visions. It ties in the concept of unexpected death as what keeps ghosts here and suicide as well. The shadow men were a creepy concept and I like how the beginning and ending come full circle as well at the climax.

I felt the acting was pretty solid. Lee did a great job as the lead. She played being a blind person well and I even believed when she got her sight that she had trouble understanding it. She hides her eyes a lot and uses sunglasses even after it should be healed. Now part of this is due to the ghosts she is seeing, but it even happens before she really starts to fear. I thought Chou was good as the doctor who wants to help her as a patient, but the deeper he gets the more he is willing to do. So was cute and I liked the role she played. I also liked that Lo and Ko seemed to slightly believe in the supernatural. I don’t know if this is something in the Asian culture or not, but it played well.

Now for the most part this film used practical effects. I thought the ghosts looked creepy and some of them actually got me to jump. They did use computers at times and I wasn’t a fan of that. It made some of it look really fake and unrealistic. This is definitely the case at the climax. That did disappoint me. Now I thought the editing was good, especially at the climax when they are trying to sync it with what the original owner of the eyes did. I thought that was a good touch. The editing was also very good when Lee’s room is changing when something is swinging. The soundtrack also was very good in setting the mood of the scenes. I was a big fan there.

With that said, I would recommend this one. This is a solid Asian ghost horror film. I think it is much better than the remake, but I will need to revisit that one to say how much better. I thought the story to this film was good and builds well to the climax. I liked how the climax mimicked what Lee learns in the film and that it comes full circle. Lee was great and the rest of the cast rounded it out nicely. I thought the effects and make-up of the ghosts was good, but I did have issues with the CGI that was used. It doesn’t hold up well at all. The editing and soundtrack of the film were both solid as well. I would say this is an above-average ghost film. This is from Hong Kong and Singapore, so keep that in mind. I actually watched it with subtitles, so if that’s a problem, then you should probably avoid this.

 

My Rating: 7 out of 10

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