Throwback Thursday: Edge Of The Axe (1988)

“Where are you, Gerald?

I have to admit that 1988’s Edge Of The Axe slipped never hit my radar until a few days ago. I was completely unaware that the film even existed until it was recommended to me on Tubi. I was intrigued by the look of the slasher in the film and was familiar with some of the other work done by its director, Jose Ramon Larraz, so I decided to give it a shot. What I found was a really good standard slasher film that is just begging for a sequel.

The film opens with the brutal murder of a nurse in the middle of an automated car wash by an axe wielding assailant with a white mask that encompasses his head, save for two eye holes. From there we follow a young man named Gerald while he’s riding his motorcycle home in Paddock County. We get to see a ton of beautiful scenery while he’s riding along and then we are introduced to Brock, Richard, and a dead waitress named Maria. From there we are introduced to a number of other characters, many of which will end up on the business end of the killer’s axe. Of special note is Lillian Nebbs. Lillian works every summer at her father’s bar. She and Gerald become fast friends and connect with one another by chatting on computers. As the story moves along, the body count rises. The number of suspects also rises. Everybody from the local sheriff to the local priest have a turn at being a suspect in the viewer’s eyes, with a few characters blatantly tossed into the potential lineup. When we finally learn who the killer really is, it is revealed in a shocking way and the film abruptly ends with a closing shot that makes the viewer (or at least me) wish that a second film was made.

Larraz does a really great job of throwing viewers off as to the true identity of the slasher. The twist ending is also a nice touch. Larraz used a mishmash of American and Spanish actors in the film. Barton Faulks starred as Gerald Martin. Christina Marie Lane portrayed Lillian Nebbs. Patty Shepard, Jack Taylor, Conrado San Martin, Elmer Modling, and May Heatherly also appeared in the film. While the acting was nothing stellar, it wasn’t terrible, either.

The murders in the film were brutal. While a few happened off screen, most of them were shown in all of their gory glory. Viewers get to see the killer hack at victims with reckless abandon. While it’s pretty obvious that the axe isn’t actually penetrating the skin, practical effects were used to make blood spray all over the place. They did a great job with the effects considering the budget and the year. The film does have a look and feel of an early 80’s slasher film, however, and I had to double check the release date.

While it doesn’t break any new ground in the slasher genre, Edge Of The Axe is a serviceable genre flick that delivers decent thrills, brutal kills, and a pretty cool twist ending.

Thanks for checking out my post. Edge Of The Axe is currently available on Amazon Prime and Tubi. It’s also available on Blu-ray. If you haven’t seen it and love slasher movies, give this one a look.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

“My name’s not Kerri Tate.”

With a litany of disappointing and/or critically panned sequels following Halloween II (1981), the Halloween franchise was pretty much dead in the mid-1990s. Hoping to possibly resurrect the franchise and also to cash in on the resurgence of the slasher film thanks to the success of Scream (1996), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) hit the big screen with a story that ignores all but the first two films and celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the first Halloween film released in 1978. John Carpenter was originally offered the job of directing the film but he eventually backed out of the project whenever Moustapha Akkad, who produced Carpenter’s original Halloween film (and all of the sequels after it), refused to pay him ten million dollars and to agree to a three film deal. Jamie Lee Curtis returned to play Laurie Strode only on the condition that she would kill Michael Myers in the film in a way that would not tease a sequel. Also returning was Nancy Stephens as Nurse Chambers from Halloween II.

Kevin Williamson, riding a wave of success thanks to Scream, was brought in to help write the film. While his script wasn’t ultimately accepted, his input was utilized throughout the film’s production. Also brought in was newcomer Josh Hartnett as John Tate, Laurie’s son. He pulled double duty while working on the film as he was also working on The Faculty, another Dimension film production. Portraying John’s girlfriend, Molly, was Michelle Williams. Williams was also working on the first season of Williamson’s Dawson’s Creek television series at the time. Jodi Lyn O’Keefe and Adam Hann-Byrd portrayed John and Molly’s coupled friends, Sara and Charlie. O’Keefe was already in a successful television series, Nash Bridges, and Hann-Byrd was known for playing a young Robin Williams in Jumanji (1995) and starring in Little Man Tate (1991). Adam Arkin played Laurie’s love interest, Will, and LL Cool J portrayed a school guard named Ronny. It’s also noteworthy that Jamie Lee Curtis’ mother, Janet Leigh, herself a scream queen, also has a cameo as Norma Watson, Laurie’s secretary. Joseph Gordon-Levitt also has a small role in the film.

The film takes place twenty years after the events of the first two films. Laurie Strode is now living in California under the name “Kerri Tate” and is the headmistress of an exclusive and very secure school. She has a son named John and is developing a relationship with one of her co-workers, Will Brennan. John is celebrating his seventeenth birthday as well. Oh, and it’s Halloween. The rest of the school is getting ready for a trip to Yosemite National Park but Laurie/Kerri refuses to allow John to go in case Michael Myers shows up. John, convinced that Michael is long dead and not a threat anymore, decides to rebel by having a private party with Molly, Sarah, and Charlie while the campus is empty. Michael is on his way, however, having acquired Laurie Strode’s file from the home of Nurse Chambers. He arrives on the scene once all of the students have left for their trip and begins to eliminate people one by one as he makes his way to Laurie. Will Laurie finally kill her demented brother???? Watch Halloween H20: 20 Years Later in order to find out!

While it’s definitely an improvement over the sequels in the franchise, H20 is no masterpiece. It lacks the suspense of the original film and first sequel. Michael Myers is, at least in my opinion, entirely too clean and too slim to be a real threat to his victims. This is my least favorite portrayal of Myers in all of the films. Heck, they couldn’t even get his mask right (it changes throughout the film). The cast do a fine job but there’s just not enough substance to this film to really pull it out of its own mediocrity. I did enjoy all of the callbacks to other franchises. Scream, Friday The 13th, and Psycho are all given some pretty slick references (especially Psycho) that hardcore fans of the slasher genre will enjoy if they pick up on them. The climax of the film, while meant to shock, seemed to do nothing more than provide the film with a place to stop. Even back in theaters in the late 90s the ending didn’t hit like it was meant to when moviegoers witnessed it. In all, this is a serviceable sequel that could have been much better.

Is it worth watching? Yeah, especially if you really, really dislike the sequels prior to and immediately after it. It’s sad how this film provided such a decent starting point for a new series of sequels but instead we got the trainwreck that was Halloween: Resurrection (2002). Halloween is my favorite slasher franchise, but that’s primarily based on the strength of the first two films. I also enjoyed the Rob Zombie films (I know that they are pretty divisive) but the latest trio of films, especially Halloween Kills (2021) left me wanting.

Well, thanks for checking out my review. I know that I was kind of brutal about this film (at least “brutal” compared to most of my other reviews), but it just doesn’t meet expectations. I’ll be reviewing some more films later this month and throughout the rest of the year. I promise to find some good ones for you to enjoy!

Scream VI (2023)

It’s okay, Sid. This review is spoiler free!

Scream VI sliced and diced its way into theaters last week and I was fortunate enough to see it on Friday with my daughter. She’s a massive Scream franchise fan and was looking forward to the latest installment in the series as was I. We saw an early showing at a theater that lacked every single freebie and/or collectible, so we didn’t get any cool posters, cups, popcorn buckets, or plushies. We did, however, get a theater with just a few other people in it so we didn’t have to worry about anybody being loud or annoying during the movie.

In the film, viewers get to catch up with Sam and Tara, who have moved to New York along with their best buds and twin brother and sister, Chad and Mindy Meeks-Martin. Sam and Tara share an apartment with Quinn, their VERY sexually active roommate. Mindy has a steady girlfriend named Anika and Chad is rooming with the virginal and naive Ethan. Tara is trying desperately to break away from her overprotective sister and Sam is struggling with the events that happened in Woodsboro and attends therapy as a result. Also along for the ride is Detective Baily, Quinn’s father and the lead investigator trying to stop the newest Ghostface. Assisting him is a special agent from the FBI, Kirby Reed, who Scream fans will recognize as one of the survivors from Scream 4. While Sidney Prescott sits this flick out, her old pal Gale Weathers does appear in the film albeit in a reduced capacity.

The film poster teases “New York, New Rules,” and this Scream is different from the others in the fact that Ghostface has a somewhat unique and, at least in my opinion, believable motive for murder. The film has quite a few well orchestrated kills including one that I consider to be one of the best in the entire franchise. It also brings back some of the humor from the original film that has been slowly filtered out of the series over the years. Jenna Ortega as Tara is especially funny in some pretty perilous moments. I also loved the setting of the film’s final showdown. It definitely felt like it was a love letter to fans of the franchise.

As good as this film was it definitely had a few shortcomings. For starters, the signature opening kill was predictable. I believe that it was intentionally done this way in order to set up the rest of the movie but it felt a bit forced. As protective as Sam is, she (and the rest of the gang) makes some pretty dumb choices that leave her and others wide open to a Ghostface attack. Mindy really, really got on my nerves at times. Kirby seemed to be jammed into the film in order to fill the hole left by Sidney’s absence. In all honesty, I didn’t miss Sidney and Kirby was a bit of a nuisance. I also disliked the fact that many of Ghostface’s victims seemed to miraculously survive some very brutal attacks. I also managed to pick out one of the Ghostface killers not long after they appeared on screen.

I don’t want to say too much more about the film because I’ll risk spoiling it. That being said, this movie was very good and I enjoyed it more than Scream (2022). Sam (Melissa Barrera) gets to flesh her character out a bit more this time. Tara is funny, perhaps unintentionally at moments, but Jenna Ortega really stands out in this film. Courteney Cox could have phoned in her performance as Gale Weathers but actually took the character to a different level. Even though her role is smaller in this film, Cox took advantage of every second of her screen time and pulled off one of the funniest moments in the film and the franchise. Of course, I can’t mention this moment because this is a spoiler free review but if you happen to see me in the real world or want to shoot me a message, do so and we can talk about THAT moment in the film. Jasmin Savoy-Brown’s Mindy got under my skin. I fully understand that she’s Randy’s niece and she has a penchant to act like him, but I really pulled for Ghostface to take her out in this flick. Unlike Mindy, I was glad to see her twin brother, Chad (Mason Gooding), actually get some character development. He’s more than just the “jock” in this latest Scream installment. Kirby always bugged me in Scream 4, which also happens to be my least favorite film in the franchise, and I saw no reason for bringing her back for this film. Hayden Panettiere’s performance seemed out of place and I wish that Kirby wasn’t even in this movie. Of the new characters, Quinn (Liana Liberato) is probably my favorite. She injected a ton of humor into the film. Jack Champion as Ethan was pretty quiet and stayed in the background a lot of the time. He did a decent job in the film. The only other character worthy of mention is Detective Bailey (Dermot Mulroney), who I enjoyed.

Scream VI is better than its immediate predecessor but it won’t dethrone the original as my favorite Scream film. It features excellent kills, great humor, and one of the most believable Ghostface motives in a long time. It’s also very predictable at times and suffers from annoying characters like Mindy and Kirby. Still, go check it out. It’s worth a movie ticket.

Thanks for checking out my post. See you again real soon1

M3GAN: Unrated (2023)

(from left) M3GAN and Cady (Violet McGraw) in M3GAN, directed by Gerard Johnstone.

“She’s More Than Just A Toy….She’s A Part Of The Family.”

With Blumhouse and Atomic Monster producing, Gerard Johnstone directing, and Akela Cooper and James Wan penning the tale, M3GAN had a solid foundation for its vision of AI horror. The original PG-13 version of the film was premiered in December of 2022 in Los Angeles and was released nationwide in January 2023. It raked in a ton of cash thanks to solid story and a stellar ad campaign that most notably featured the AI doll M3GAN dancing. Her dance became a viral hit on social media and some believe that re-edits were done in order to get a PG-13 rating for the film. This definitely allowed more fans a chance to see the film but it also proved to be one of the few complaints about the movie. While M3GAN definitely humor in spades, she proved to be lacking in violence. Peacock, eager to get their own piece of the M3GAN pie, released an unrated version of the film on its streaming service on February 24, 2023. It promised more gore. It delivered, but not in an excessive amount.

In the film, a young girl, Cady, loses her parents in an accident and is sent to stay at her single aunt’s home. Her aunt happens to be a robotics whiz for Funki, a toy company currently attempting to develop a cheaper version of its top-selling toy, Purrpetual Petz, an AI toy that adapts to and interacts with its child owner. Another toy company has developed a cheaper version of the Purrpetual Petz and Cady’s aunt, Gemma, is part of the team assigned to develop a more budget-friendly version of the toy. On the side she is developing a new AI doll, M3GAN (Model 3 Generative Android), that gets to know its owner on a personal level, provides companionship, and can even register a child’s body temperature, demeanor, and other things. When Gemma’s boss finds out that she has been using company resources to develop the doll, he becomes enraged. Hoping to appease him, Gemma introduces M3GAN to her niece who is having difficulty adjusting to her new, somewhat boring life with her aunt. The duo become quick friends and Gemma’s boss insists that she and her team continue with the M3GAN project. As Cady and M3GAN bond, Cady becomes even more distant with her aunt. M3GAN takes Gemma’s request of her to protect Cady at all times to a violent, bloody level, taking out threats to Cady. As the story continues, M3GAN becomes self-aware, begins hiding her activity from Gemma, and does everything that she can to eliminate any and all threats to Cady. In the end, M3GAN squares off against Gemma. Who wins? How sweet are M3GAN’s dance moves? Watch the film in order to find out!

(from left) Cady (Violet McGraw), M3GAN and Gemma (Allison Williams) in M3GAN, directed by Gerard Johnstone.

The film is very good. I’ve only seen the unrated version and based upon what I’ve heard of the original film, the only additions to the unrated version are a bit more gore and quite a few more F-bombs. The film isn’t very scary and I figured out who (or what) would be the end of M3GAN near the beginning of the film. The movie spends a good deal of time developing the relationships of Gemma and Cady and M3GAN and Cady. One could easily see the film as a look at the ethical and moral difficulties that arise as a result of humans depending upon AI or replacing human interaction with AI. While M3GAN is definitely creepy, the attempt to make her sinister was often derailed by the film’s humor. Overall, though, it’s still a pretty fun ride.

The film’s cast is pretty solid. Allison Williams stars as Gemma and Violet McGraw plays Cady. They have excellent uncomfortable chemistry at the beginning of the film and McGraw takes it to another level once she becomes fully captivated by M3GAN. M3GAN is played by Amie Donald (voiced by Jenna Davis) and she does a very convincing job in the roll. The cast is rounded out by Ronny Chieng, Lori Dungey, Jen Van Epps, Stephane Garneau-Monten, and Brian Jordan Alvarez. The biggest star of the film is the special effects by Morot FX Studio and Weta Workshop. Morot gave life to animatronic puppet versions of M3GAN while Weta digitally enhanced Amie Donald’s performance to give her true doll-like looks.

M3GAN has already been given the green light for a sequel and it is expected to hit theaters in January 2025. Social media hacks have pushed for her to face off against Chucky in a Child’s Play/M3GAN battle royale. Hopefully this doesn’t occur as I’d much rather see M3GAN develop on her own without having to piggyback on an established franchise.

Check out this film. If you love horror with a bit of humor tossed in, this will definitely please you. Thanks for checking out my review. See you again real soon!

On The Trail Of Bigfoot: Last Frontier (2022)

The Hunt For Bigfoot In Alaska

Whether you believe in Bigfoot or not, you cannot deny that he is excellent at picking beautiful real estate to call home. That’s one of the highlights of Small Town Monsters’ 2022 documentary, On The Trail Of Bigfoot: Last Frontier. Written and directed by Seth Breedlove, this documentary features breathtaking visuals and bone-chilling eyewitness interviews about my favorite cryptid in Alaska. The film opens with a young man explaining his sighting and then goes on to uncover more exciting and creepy interviews with a number of people, some brought nearly to tears as they describe their encounters.

Some of the best segments of this film involve the tales told by Native Americans and discussions about their beliefs that were written off as myth by European settlers in the area. The Natives recount stories about not going into the woods after dark, not following whistles in the forest, and ignoring the cries of a child or baby in the forest because something sinister actually awaits them. We also learn about Otter Man and other beings as well. The film closes with a group of people spending time in a remote cabin where activity is said to be particularly high.

If you’re looking for fuzzy photos or blurry video of Sasquatch tromping through the snow, you won’t find it here. Breedlove instead keeps his focus on the stories of witnesses and laces them together with beautiful cinematography and the occasional CGI rendering of Bigfoot. In all honesty, the CGI creatures could have been left out of this production. The visuals alone are worth watching this film and so are the interviews.

Seth Breedlove.

Be sure to check out On The Trail Of Bigfoot: Last Frontier. You won’t regret it. If you are interested in Small Town Monsters, be sure to click here and take a look at their latest Kickstarter, previous projects, their online store, and more.

Thanks for checking out my post. See you again real soon!

Throwback Thursday: Legend (1985)

“What is light without dark?”

Ridley Scott has directed some of the biggest feature films of all time including Alien, Gladiator, The Martian, Blade Runner, and Thelma & Louise. Most of his films have been financially successful, including those that failed to impress critics. One of the few films that Scott directed (and developed the story for) that failed to win over critics and audiences was 1985’s Legend. It starred a young Tom Cruise who was just beginning to catch fire in Hollywood after starring in All The Right Moves and Risky Business. It was also the film debut of Mia Sara who would appear in the wildly popular Ferris Bueller’s Day Off one year later. Rounding out the film’s major cast members is Tim Curry as the Lord of Darkness. Curry was handpicked by Ridley Scott due to his experience on the live stage. Scott believed that Curry could add something to the role based on his performance in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Supporting cast included Billy Barty, David Bennent, Alice Playten, Cork Hubbert, and Annabelle Lanyon.

In the film, the Lord of Darkness sends one of this favorite goblins, Blix (Playten), out to kill the last two unicorns in the world in order to wipe out the light and allow darkness to rule forever. Blix happens upon Princess Lili (Sara) about to touch one of the unicorns while Jack (Cruise) watches from a distance and warns her not to put her hand on the unicorn. Blix poisons the unicorn with a blow dart when Lili is about to touch the animal. This makes Jack believe that her touch has cast the world into darkness. The unicorn is later found by Blix and he cuts off the animal’s horn. This casts the world into an eternal winter that freezes nearly everything. Heartbroken and confused, Jack meets up with a small group of headed up by the dwarf Honeythorn Gump (Bennent). Together they find the wounded unicorn and are told that the only way to bring the light back is to defeat Darkness and return the unicorn’s horn. Lili is captured by the goblins and brought back to Darkness’ stronghold to become his bride. Jack and his comrades battle a swamp witch and end up imprisoning themselves in Darkness’ castle. Managing to break free, they pursue Darkness while Lili makes plans of her own to save the unicorn. Who wins? Will light be restored? You’ll have to watch Legend to find out!

The film’s visuals are brilliant. Robin Bottin handled the makeup effects for all of the creatures in the film and was nominated for an Academy Award as a result. His work on Tim Curry’s Lord of Darkness is still considered to be some of the most amazing makeup effects ever done. Curry was completely unrecognizable in the role. The film was shot on six soundstages at Pinewood Studios. Assheton Gorton was the film’s production designer, developing the film’s look and creating the sets. Music was handled by Jerry Goldsmith in the film’s UK release and by Tangerine Dream in the United States. This was done due to the fact that parts of the film were edited differently in the two releases. As a result, the film has three different endings, all of which are available in numerous formats.

As far as the cast is concerned, Tim Curry gives a solid performance as Darkness despite being covered in makeup. David Bennent gives a creepy performance as Honeythorn (voice dubbed by Alice Playten). Annabelle Lanyon is captivating as the fairy named Oona. Alice Playten is sinister as Blix. Tom Cruise is serviceable as Jack but is probably the weakest actor in the bunch. Mia Sara turns in a great performance as Lili, who uses her sex appeal to play tricks on Darkness. She dances with perfection between being a sweetly innocent maiden and a wicked seductress. It’s also worth noting that Robert Picardo, best known by genre fans as the Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager, portrays the swamp hag named Meg Mucklebones.

While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Legend to everyone, it’s definitely worth a look for fans of 1980’s fantasy. It has the same look and feel of better fantasy films of that time like Ladyhawke and Willow, but suffers from a rather thin storyline. I also recommend that fans of makeup effects check out this flick for no other reason than to see the amazing work of Robin Bottin.

Thanks for revisiting this oft-forgotten fantasy flick with me. I appreciate you taking time to read my post. See you again real soon!

Cult Classic: Troll (1986)

“That’s my job, kiddo.”

June Lockhart and Noah Hathaway team up to battle the evil Torok in 1986’s Troll. Opinions on the film range from it being one of the worst films ever made to being a cult classic. It’s a cult classic in my opinion, and there are plenty of reasons to watch it. For starters, it features an amazing cast of actors, many of whom were well established in other films and television shows and one particular actor who would go on to be a big sitcom star a few years after the film’s release. It also has some solid creature effects. Sonny Bono has a small role as a swinging bachelor. To top it all off, the actor who portrays Torok, Phil Fondacaro, also turns in one of the best performances in the film as Professor Malory.

The film’s plot is pretty simple. The Potter family moves into an apartment complex on the same day that an evil troll decides to restore his fairy world and overtake humanity. He takes on the appearance of the Potter’s daughter, Wendy, and systemically changes each apartment into a magical forest and the tenants into fairy world creatures. Realizing that his sister is acting strangely, Harry Potter, Jr. (no relation to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter) seeks out the help of Eunice St. Clair, an elderly tenant of the complex who is actually a witch in disguise waiting to fight Torok when needed. Can Harry and Eunice defeat Torok before he completes his transformation of the apartment complex? Watch Troll to find out!

As I already mentioned, many of the film’s stars were well established actors when they appeared in this film. Noah Hathaway was a veteran of Battlestar Galactica and The Neverending Story. His costar on Battlestar Galactica, Anne Lockhart, also has a role as the young version of Eunice St Clair whose elder version is portrayed by Lockhart’s real mother, June. June Lockhart was a veteran of television shows like Petticoat Junction, Lassie, and Lost In Space. She was also in a number of films including She-Wolf Of London before appearing in Troll. Harry Potter, Sr. is portrayed by Michael Moriarty. He appeared in a number of films and television series over the years including Bang The Drum Slowly, L.A. Law, Holocaust, and Shiloh. Shelley Hack portrayed Anne Potter, Harry’s wife, in the film. She appeared in Charlie’s Angels prior to being in Troll and went on to star in The Stepfather and multiple TV films and shows. Jenny Beck plays the Potter’s daughter, Wendy, and the Wendy version of Torok. She’s probably best known for starring as Elizabeth in V: The Final Battle and in the first episode of the series as well. She’s had multiple guest starring roles over the years including shows like Roseanne and Gimme A Break. Sonny Bono, half of Sonny & Cher and a future politician, plays Peter, the resident bachelor of the building. WKRP In Cincinnati alum Gary Sandy has a small role as the pumped up Marine, Barry. Phil Fondacaro stars as Torok and Malcolm Malory in what is arguably the best performance of the film. Fondacaro has steadily acted in a number of popular genre films such as Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi, Willow, The Dungeonmaster, Bordello Of Blood, and The Garbage Pail Kids Movie as well as having tons of guest appearances on television.

Two other actors make appearances in the film that are noteworthy for multiple reasons. Both Brad Hall and Julia Louis-Dreyfus appear in the film. It’s Louis-Dreyfus’ feature film debut. The duo met in college in Hall’s comedy troupe, The Practical Theater, at Northwestern University and would go on to appear to on Saturday Night Live together. They married in 1987 and have been together ever since. Hall would go on to be a writer on Brooklyn Bridge and both wrote and created the series The Single Guy. He also wrote and created the series Watching Ellie, which starred Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Of course, Louis-Dreyfus has had an amazing career that has spanned decades. She’s best known for her work as Elaine Benes on Seinfeld, but has also appeared in numerous films including National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. She has remained successful on television as well with shows like Veep and The New Adventures Of Old Christine as well as brief appearances in the Disney+ MCU-related series, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier. Oddly enough, Hall and Louis-Dreyfus appear as a couple in Troll. Louis-Dreyfus plays Jeannette, a tenant of the building, and Hall plays her boyfriend, William. Louis-Dreyfus is transformed into a nymph by Torok because he is mesmerized by her beauty. She spends much of the film nude with strategically placed vines wrapped around her body. She has often stated that she is embarrassed by the role.

The film’s makeup effects were handled by John Carl Buechler, who also directed. While the sets were very lush with greenery, it was pretty obvious that most of it was fake. Torok uses a magic ring to transform the apartment tenants into creatures and it uses some pretty cheesy “Green Lantern” type effects to get the deed done. The makeup on Torok was very well done and the puppets used for the fairies, gnomes, goblins, and other creatures were very cool.

While many people hate this film, there’s something about it that I really enjoy. Yes, it’s lame. Yes, some of the acting is subpar. Sure, Harry Potter, Sr. dancing around was weird, but overall this film has a bizarre appeal to it. Check it out if you’d like to see some mid-1980s hokey weirdness…..or if you want a peek at Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a vine thong.

As always, thanks for checking out my post. See you again real soon!

Black Adam (2022)

“Tell Them The Man In Black Sent You.”

Sometimes the world needs a big, loud movie that simply entertains. The plot remains simple and predictable. The action occurs often and with a ton of slow motion moves that highlight the strength, speed, and powers of the heroes and villains. Those elements, with a larger than life anti-hero thrown in for good measure, is exactly what you get with Black Adam (2022). It’s nothing special but it is very fun.

Spoilers follow…’ve been warned!

In the film we are given a brief origin story of the creation of Teth-Adam/Black Adam (or that’s what we are led to believe). From there we find ourselves in modern day Kahndaq, a Middle Eastern country being oppressed by a collective known as Intergang. A small group of resistance fighters are in search of the legendary crown of Sabbac, hoping that it can be used to fight Intergang. When they find the crown they are attacked by Intergang mercenaries. One of the resistance fighters, Adrianna, releases Teth-Adam from his grave and he destroys the Intergang squad. Teth-Adam then breaks out of his tomb to fight even more Intergang mercenaries. Eventually one of them hits him with a missile that subdues him but Adrianna and her brother, Karim, save Teth-Adam and bring him to Adrianna’s home to recover.

Teth-Adama awakens in the bedroom of Amon, Adrianna’s son. Amon tries to convince Teth-Adam that he is the champion of Kahndaq and that he must protect his people from Intergang. Teth-Adam goes into action when Amon gets in trouble with Intergang guards and immediately attracts the attention of Amanda Waller and the Justice Society. She calls on Hawkman/Carter Hall, to assemble a team to stop Teth-Adam. Hawkman gathers up Dr. Fate/Kent Nelson, Cyclone/Maxine Hunkel, and Atom Smasher/Albert Rothstein to help him and the group arrives in Kahndaq in the middle of one of Teth-Adam’s attacks.

The group slows Teth-Adam down but cannot stop him. After Ishmael, one the resistance fighters thought to be dead, reveals that he is the leader of Intergang and wants the crown of Sabbac in order for his family to rule Kahndaq once again, the Justice Society and Teth-Adam work together to defeat him and Teth-Adam agrees to be imprisoned for eternity…..until Ishmael manages to return from Hell with the powers of Sabbac. The Justice Society battle him with Dr. Fate managing to hold him off just long enough for Teth-Adam to return. Sabbac is destroyed and Teth-Adam takes on the new name of Black Adam, protector of Kahndaq.

I enjoyed this movie. It didn’t break any new ground in superhero films but that wasn’t expected in the first place. Despite a few nods, a “super” appearance in the mid-credits, and the presence of Amanda Waller in the film, it was free of all of the weight of the DCEU, managing to be a standalone film. The action did get weighed down a bit by all of the slow motion shots, but overall it was pretty good. The CGI was decent. Thankfully the film was rather dark so the limitations of the CGI were hidden fairly well. Sabbac was the weakest CGI creation in the bunch. He looked obviously fake. As much as I loved seeing Hawkman on the big screen, I wasn’t a fan of his suit design in the film. Dr. Fate was handled extremely well and Atom Smasher and Cyclone were pretty much window-dressing. They were in the movie but didn’t really add much to it.

The cast was surprisingly strong. Dwayne Johnson definitely looks like Black Adam in the film and he does a pretty decent job of acting as well. Pierce Brosnan was perfection as the all knowing, all seeing Doctor Fate. Sarah Shahi was fine as Adrianna. Mohammed Amer provided plenty of humor as Adrianna’s brother and Bodhi Sabongui did a great job as her son, Amon. Quintessa Swindell and Noah Centineo, Cyclone and Atom Smasher, did fine in their severely limited roles. Marwan Kenzari was sufficient as Ishmael/Sabbac. The real standout to me in this film was Aldis Hodge as Hawkman. He commanded every scene that he was in, even the ones that included Pierce Brosnan.

Black Adam, specifically the film’s apparent poor performance and the shakeup at Warner Bros. involving James Gunn, has been in the news a lot recently. As they say, bad news is still news, so I hope that more interest is generated in this film with all of the talk about Dwayne Johnson locking horns with Gunn and others over the future of Black Adam. It really is a solid action film and I hope that more people discover it. With Marvel losing steam, it’s the perfect time for DC to push their big heroes.

Thanks for checking out my post. I hope that you get to check out Black Adam if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s much better than the critics say and it’s a whole lot better than Marvel’s recent superhero offerings.

The Northman (2022)

To Valhalla!

Alexander Skarsgard co-produced and stars in the talent heavy Viking epic, The Northman. The film is based upon a tale recorded in the Gesta Danorum, a 13th century record of Danish history penned by Saxo Grammaticus, a theologian and author. Specifically, the film is based upon the legend of Amleth, a Scandinavian figure who also appears in other histories of Denmark, most notably the Chronicon Lethrense (author unknown). Amleth is also considered to be the inspiration for William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, as both characters share similar stories but different fates.

The film’s director, Robert Eggers, teamed up with Sigurjon Sigurosson (Sjon) to write the film. While the tale of Amleth provided the basis for the film’s plot, Eggers and Sjon drew inspiration from a number of other sources including the Prose Edda. With Alexander Skarsgard in tow, the film’s production began meticulously creating the villages, costumes, weapons, and other things needed for the film. Historians were brought in to verify that the production was staying accurate with everything in the film, from religious practices to the look of the characters.

In the film, Amleth watches as his father, King Aurvandill, is murdered by his jealous brother, Fjolnir the Brotherless. Fjolnir then gives the order to have Amleth killed as well in order to end any potential threat to his newly acquired crown. Amleth manages to escape, swears vengeance, and ends up living amongst another group of Vikings. He grows up to become one of the group’s greatest berserkers. After an attack on another village, Amleth hears of Fjolnir’s whereabouts, encounters a seeress who reminds him of his vow of vengeance, and sneaks onboard a ship as a slave headed to Fjolnir’s home. He plans to take save his mother whom Fjolnir has taken as his own bride, murder Fjolnir, and have his revenge. He teams up with another slave headed to Fjolnir’s land, a young woman named Olga of the Birch Forest, in order to execute his plans.

In Fjolnir’s lands, Amleth encounters a he-witch that tells him the location of Draugr, a sword that can only be unsheathed at night, that will be used to end Fjolnir’s life. After finding the sword, Amleth begins murdering key members of Fjolnir’s village, creating a panic amongst the people and making Fjolnir wonder if the gods are angry with him. As Amleth continues his reign of terror, he soon discovers that some people do not wish to be saved. In fact, he learns of betrayal and begins to question whether or not he should even seek revenge. What happens next? You’ll have to watch The Northman to find out!

I really enjoyed this film. It’s fairly predictable, especially if you’re familiar with the story of Hamlet or pretty much any other vengeance story. The action is swift and brutal. The scenes involving supernatural encounters with everything from foxes to ravens could be a tad trippy at times but that was intentional. The acting was especially strong as was the cinematography. Overall, this was a really solid film that should have performed better on the big screen.

Of special note are the performances of Skarsgard (Amleth), Claes Bang (Fjolnir), and Anya Taylor-Joy (Olga). All three of these actors did amazing jobs. The rest of the cast included Ethan Hawke as King Aurvandill, Bjork as the Seeress, Willem Defoe as Heimir, Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson as He-Witch, Ralph Ineson as Captain Volodymyr, and Nicole Kidman as Queen Gudrun. Gustav Lindh portrayed Fjolnir’s oldest son, Thorir the Proud, and he did an amazing job in the role. Eldar Skar played Finnr the Nose-Stub and Elliott Rose played Gunnar, Fjolnir and Gudrun’s son and Amleth’s half brother. The entire cast did extremely well and fans of Eggers’ The Witch will recognize many familiar faces.

According to a number of sources, the film fared much better once it hit video-on-demand. That’s good news, as a quick look at a number of reviews of the film weren’t very kind. Most of the negative reviews that I read focused on the predictability of the film. It’s based upon a Viking legend and, not surprisingly, those tales (as are most historic legends) are pretty predictable. These reviewers couldn’t get beyond that and failed to see just how great the actors’ performances were and how well this film was shot and edited. This IS a good film and if you enjoy epic tales on an epic level, you can’t go wrong with The Northman.

Thanks for checking out my review. If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend giving it a look. I think that you’ll enjoy it.

Louisiana Comic Con and Lake Charles Film Festival

First Two Weekends In October!

I had a very busy month in October. I spent the first two weekends at two excellent events. First up was Louisiana Comic Con in Lafayette, LA. Between COVID-19 and a few hurricanes, I believe that this is the first Louisiana Comic Con since 2019. It’s been a long time for me, that’s for sure. Thankfully I was asked to present a panel and I did just that on Sunday, October 2. My panel was The First Superheroes, which focused on the first comic book superheroes to appear on the big screen in cliffhanger serials. Some of the heroes that I talked about included Captain Marvel (Fawcett/DC Comics), Spy Smasher (Fawcett/DC Comics), and Batman (DC Comics).

I also got to hang out with Orey Kimbler of Geeky Vengeance, chatted up a few friends like Patrick Bennett (POP Ninja, Filmsquatch), Jamie Ray (Fave Five From Fans), and Nick Foreman (Toad Sage Cosplay), and checked out the amazing vendor area. The layout was a little bit different than I remember from previous events and I have to say that I loved the way that the crowd flowed this time around. There were a ton of fans at the event and plenty of amazing guests as well. Highlights for me included meeting the amazing Kristy Swanson (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Phantom) and Judith Hoag (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Halloween Town) and seeing the beautiful siren singer/voice actor/all around awesome lady, Bonnie Gordon (Star Trek Prodigy, Library Bards), for a second time!

Louisiana Comic Con has already announced next year’s event which will hit on March 11th and 12th. Check that date! The convention has been bumped up a bit to avoid hurricanes and (hopefully) any potential pandemics! Be sure to check their web page as they have been announcing some amazing guests already and are blowing the competition out of the water! Louisiana Comic Con is quickly becoming my favorite in-state convention. They cater to fans, give big support to their panelists (including an in-room assistant), and seem to cater to multiple fanbases from anime to horror to science fiction. I can’t wait to attend next year. I am planning on going for the full weekend.

One week later I assisted (ran the projector and whatever else was needed) Patrick with the Lake Charles Film Festival. I didn’t get many photographs because I was working, but the event was an amazing success. The special guest this year was Jean Bruce Scott of Airwolf, St. Elsewhere, Magnum PI, and tons of other shows from the 80’s. She and her amazing husband, Randy Reinholz, were at the festival all weekend. It was great to get to talk with both of them and learn about their careers. Plus, Jean is definitely one of those childhood heroes that one will not regret meeting. She was so friendly (as was Randy) and it was cool to see Caitlin O’Shanessy/Lt Cmdr Maggile Poole live and in person.

Yours truly, Ken’s Alternate Universe, was a sponsor in kind this year as was Pop Ninja and Fave Five From Fans and the awards ceremony was held at MacFarlane’s Celtic Pub (which is always amazing). We also showed 1922’s Nosferatu in celebration of its 100 year anniversary on the Friday evening of the festival. This event continues to grow each year and it was great to see a few new faces this year.

Thanks for checking out this post! I’ve got a few more things to post from last month that had to take a backseat to the Reign Of The Scream Queens, so keep an eye out for them later this month!