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I Frankenstein

Bluray Pile

I Frankenstein Bluray 001This my second attempt to watch this film without falling asleep to give it a fair review then I can just forget it existed. This film is certainly not horror but is more of a fantasy action adventure film and in tone and colour palette is very similar to Underworld, which means very stagey dialogue interspersed with bloodless cartoon fight scenes and a sense that it’s up itself with its own importance.

The film starts right where the novel finished with Frankenstein dead and his creature (Aaron Eckhart) brings his body home to bury him in his family plot. That’s when he gets attacked by demons that seem to have escaped from an episode of Buffy. He kills some of them before getting knocked out and a couple of CGI gargoyles fly to his rescue, transforming into humans as they land.

Ophir (Mahesh Jadu) and Keziah (Caitlin Stasey) take him back to the cathedral to see their queen Leonore (Miranda Otto). After reading the text of the book they found with him Leonore realises what the Creature is and takes pity on him, naming him Adam. She explains to Adam the war between the gargoyles who fight for good and the demons who fight for evil and that he is being sought by the demon Lord Naberius. Leonore offers Adam shelter but he’s not interested though he accepts the offer of a free dip in their armoury and leaves with two demon killing sticks.

Forward about two hundred years to the present (I think, it is difficult to tell since the only real world event ever referenced is the publication of the original Frankenstein novel). Adam hunts down and kills demons in an alleyway but a policeman gets killed by a demon and this apparently is such terrible event that the gargoyles grab him and hold him prisoner.

We finally get to see Naberius (Bill Nighy) the lord of the demons as he supervises an experiment by a scientist called Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) who is trying to reanimate a dead rat and the experiment works. Naberius wants to know when human testing is happening and Terra claims that reviving a rat is simple! and that humans are so much more complex than a rat. That is just ignorant bullshit and I have been given no reason to be kind to the writer of this garbage.

Naberius asks Terra about what she thinks of the story of Frankenstein and Terra dismisses it as fiction but Naberius pulls her up for her close-mindedness. Naberius is funding Terra’s research for the same reason he has been looking for Adam. He needs soulless re-animated corpses to house the demon army he has waiting in hell and wants to examine Adam because clearly Frankenstein succeeded. He sends one of his demon commanders to capture Leonore to force the gargoyles to hand Adam over.

Adam escapes the cathedral and breaks into the demon base and meets Terra who is very excited to see him. Terra wants to help Adam if he can help her but she has no idea what Naberius plans to do with her work.

Visually the film is okay but the story is dull and the characters are just flat creatures of the plot. The script tries to draw on emotional relationships during death scenes that were never given the time to be established. The whole story is ridiculous but the film has no humour or joy in it.

Rating 4.0/10

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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Supernatural Season One Episodes 9 – 15

TV Binge

9. Home 

S1HomeThe monster this week is an angry poltergeist haunting the boy’s childhood home back in Lawrence Kansas and threatening the lives of the young widow Jenny (Kristin Richardson) and her two children who are living there. Sam had a nightmare where he sees Jenny screaming for help so now he finally has to tell Dean about his precognitive nightmares and of course Dean isn’t happy about been kept in the dark.

They try looking into what John did after the fire and learn that he visited a local psychic called Missouri Moseley (Loretta Devine) so they pay her a visit. Missouri acts as if the boys are old friends and, to Sam’s amusement, she treats Dean like a naughty child all the time, scolding him for things he’s only thinking about doing. John had come to her after Mary’s death to try and find out what killed her but though she sensed powerful evil it was gone.

Missouri goes to the house with them and her warm sympathetic manner gets them in the house much faster than whatever lie Dean was cooking up. Missouri assures Jenny that they can help and she has Dean make up some hex bags to place in house to expel the spirits. The spirit tries to stop them but they they manage to do it  just in time for Jenny to return from a trip to the movies

Missouri is sure it worked but Sam isn’t so sure and they keep an eye on the house that night. Sure enough the spirits are back and the Winchesters leap to the rescue.  Sam gets grabbed by the poltergeist but then a second fiery spirit in the bedroom resolves itself into Mary Winchester and after greeting both her sons her spirit sacrifices itself to destroy the poltergeist.

I like the scene at the end where it looks like Missouri is talking to herself about Sam and his growing psychic abilities only to reveal that she‘s taking to John Winchester.

10. Asylum

The boys get an anonymous text message that is simply coordinates and Dean assumes it’s from their father giving them a job though Sam is sceptical. The coordinates are of the derelict Roosevelt Mental Hospital in Rockford Illinois which is full of ghosts but the ghost of the insane Doctor Ellicott (Norman Armour) who ran the place gives a homicidal rage to people he touches. Sam and Dean discover the place was closed down after the patients rioted and there were many violent deaths of both staff and patients with many bodies never found so plenty of potential for vengeful spirits.

The Abandoned Asylum is a popular location for many horror films and these places are always going have stories of grisly goings on and tales of the spirits who haunt the place. This means it attracts teenage thrill-seekers. Sam and Dean find themselves having to a rescue a teenage couple as they search the place. Gavin (Nicholas D’Agosto) and Kat (Brooke Nevin) are there because Gavin thought it would be cool to go somewhere that is like a film without thinking through the desirability of becoming a stupid character in a horror film since that is the only genre of film set in this location. Dean comments on this himself when he is talking to Kat, advising to avoid wandering into haunted places in future.

Sam tries to take Katherine and Gavin out of the asylum but discovers the place is on supernatural lockdown.  He gets a call from Dean who had gone looking into a lead in the hospital’s records. This turns out to be a fake call to lead Sam into the basement and Endicott zaps Sam with his rage power.

Sam has a lot of pent up rage and he lets it all loose on Dean, his frustration at Dean treating him like kid, deciding where they go and never getting them any closer to finding John and kiling the demon. After Dean has taken out the ghost Sam tries to protest that his words were from madness but Dean clearly thinks it was Sam’s true feelings that inspired them.

Back at their motel room Dean just crashes out and falls asleep. Dean’s phone ring and Sam answers only find out it is John Winchester.

11. Scarecrow

meg-samWe start the episode with the phone call from John Winchester that was the cliffhanger ending of the previous episode. Sam has so much to talk to John about and John tells them that he knows what killed Jessica and Mary was a demon. John wants them to stop following him and tries to give them a job to take care of but Sam is furious and really doesn’t want to talk to him any more so Dean takes over, noting down names John wants them to look into.

The names turn out to be couples who all went missing on road trips across the country. They all went missing at the same time of year and all their planned routes passed through the town of Burkittsville, Indiana. They have all been sacrificed to the Vanir, a pagan god that looks a lot like a scarecrow.

This episode features the first of Sam’s huffs where he gets pissed off with Dean and he goes off on his own, this time it is mainly about their father because Dean is happy to do whatever John says.  Sam wants to go to California to find John so he heads off on his own.

Sam meets Meg Masters (Nicki Aycox) for the first time, apparently just a young hitchhiker who gets chatty with him and he confides all his troubles to her.  Meg seems genuinely frustrated when Sam rushes off to Dean’s aid when he fails to get in touch with him for a few hours.  Dean has annoyed the local much that they are going to sacrifice him to the god of the apple trees but Sam gets there just in time  save him from the evil scarecrow apple tree god

At the end of the episode we see Meg on her own getting in some guy’s car. Meg seems nice and normal until she pulls out a knife an slits the driver throat, collecting his blood in a strange looking bowl. She stirs the bowl and recites a spell then.she talks to bowl as if talking to someone we can’t hear but the gist of the conversation is that Meg is tracking Sam and Dean and she is frustrated at the order not to kill them .

12. Faith

Dean is dying after accidentally getting an electric shock when killing a monster and rescuing two children. Sam is nearly in tears as he leaves a message for his father and he is calling all their contacts to find some way of curing Dean.

Sam is desperate so tricks Dean into thinking they are going to see some sort of specialist but instead he takes Dean to a faith healer in a tent in a muddy field. Dean is of course grumpy and cynical when the blind preacher Reverend Roy le Grange (Kevin McNulty) starts his sermon.  Unfortunately for Dean, Roy heard his smartass remarks and replies to him directly calling him onto the stage to be healed.

Roy puts his hand on Deans head and something start happening and dean goes down to his knees before fainting dead away. When he wakes up his feels better but sees a strange grey skinned figure in a suit walk behind Roy and vanish.

This episode is the first time the brothers have actually spoken about what they believe. They see things all the time that prove the supernatural exists and to Sam this is evidence that God might exist too and miracles are possible. But Dean has only seen evidence of the evil done by the supernatural so his feeling is that whatever is going here is some sort of evil con.

They get Dean checked out at a hospital where tests show that his heart was never damaged. When talking about strange things happening the doctor mentions a healthy young man dying of heart attack the day before. Dean gives Sam his patented “told you so” look.  Sam looks into the death and confirms Dean’s suspicion that it matches the time he was cured. It was not a miracle that healed him but dark magic that traded Dean’s life for another man’s.

They figure out that somehow Roy has bound a reaper using dark magic. These are beings who escort the souls of the dead into the afterlife and binding them is very dangerous. They have to stop Roy healing anyone else which is complicated for Dean because he was about to heal Layla (Julie Benz), a woman Dean spoke to before and who has an inoperable brain tumour. Dean stops the healing and discovers it is Roy’s wife Sue Ann (Rebecca Jenkins) that has bound the reaper.

This seemed obvious to me since Roy’s blindness would have been a hindrance finding the ancient book of spells never mind reading from it. Sue Ann bound the reaper out of desperation to save Roy when he was dying of cancer and kept it bound out of ambition, her fall to the darkside, echoing what Dean said earlier about what evil can do to good people.

They stop Sue Ann and the reaper takes its vengeance for being bound but Dean regrets taking away the hope of those people, especially Layla. Sam has laid on a little surprise visit from Layla to say good bye and reassure Dean that she’s okay.

It is interesting to note that Dean was nowhere near as upset about his imminent death as Sam was. This a shared characteristic of the Winchester family in this series, they are literally willing to move heaven and hell  to stop each other from dying but are also willing to sacrifice themselves for the lives of others. This is really why they need each other.

13. Route 666

1120954_1348375236757_fullAfter one Dean-centred story we get another when he gets a call from an old girlfriend, Cassie (Megalyn Echikunwoke). She called Dean because her father has been killed by a ghost truck. Cassie is a journalist and Sam finds it hard to believe but Dean had told her that he was ghost hunter and that’s why she called him. Sam is shocked that Dean told Cassie the big family secret while he kept his hunter background secret from Jessica for over a year. This lapse is how Sam figures that Cassie was more important to Dean than he lets on.

The Ghost Truck appears to killing off important black men in the town and their investigations lead them back to the death of a serial killer Cyrus Dorian who targeted black men in the 60s. Cassie’s father had killed Dorian in self defence but the law at the time would not guarantee a black man a fair trail so he called his friends and they pushed the truck with the body into a swamp. The local deputy investigating Dorian’s disappearance figured it all out but covered it up. He grew up to be the mayor and also becomes a victim of the ghost truck.

Sam keeps trying push Dean and Cassie together and this works eventually. It turns out Dean opened up to Cassie about hunting because he loved her but she thought he was making up a crazy excuse to leave so she broke up with him.

The usual method of destroying vengeful spirits involves dragging the truck out of the swap then salting and burning Dorian’s body but that only seems to make the ghost truck angry so Dean leads it on a chase around the country roads while Sam tries to find another way to destroy the spirit. He has Dean wait in the grounds of an old church that Dorian burnt down when he was alive. When the truck tries to ram Dean car it vanishes away completely. Sam explains that there’s a story that spirits are destroyed by hallowed ground.  Dean is bit worried at Sam using him to bait the truck based on nearly nothing.

14. Nightmare

This episode is all about the psychic Sam plot. He has a vision of a man being killed and rushes them to Michigan to try and stop it happening but they get there too late. While they Investigate what happened Sam has another vision of the man’s brother being killed, this time he’s awake.

They find out Max (Brendan Fletcher), a young man who is the son of the first victim, with powers similar but different from Sam’s. Max is telekinetic and used his power to kill his father and uncle to pay them back for a lifetime of physical abuse. Sam has a vision of Max killing his stepmother and so they try to prevent it.

Max lost his mother the exact same way that Mary Winchester and Jessica died but instead of hunting down whatever killed her Max’s father drank and took out his anger on Max. Sam realises no matter how screwed up his life was it could have been a lot worse. When Sam is trying to talk Max out of killing his stepmother Max traps him in a cupboard.  Sam has a vision of Dean getting shot dead and his desperation seems to unleash a new  telekinetic power just like Max’s and he frees himself in time to stop Max.

Sam is very worried about his powers and whatever the demon wants with him. The most obvious fear is that he turns kill crazy like Max but Dean claims he isn’t worried because Sam has one thing Max didn’t have – he didn’t have Dean watching out for him.

15. The Benders

While investigating a possible supernatural attack Sam gets captured by a family of red neck torture cannibals who capture people to hunt and kill them. This episode is one I often miss out when I’m watching this season because… well I just prefer the other episodes.

The episode is definitely inspired by Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the family of back woods psychos who decorate their house with mobiles made of animal bones. I think there may be elements of other films that I’ve never seen but humans hunting humans is a common plot in episodes of many TV series. The Bender clan are  Pa Bender (John Dennis Johnston) and his three unwashed children and they have made some pretty elaborate cages for their victims.

Dean has to team up with a local cop Officer Kathleen (Jessica Steen) to rescue Sam but only after he convinces her not to arrest him for impersonating a law enforcement officer. Kathleen had younger brother who went missing ten years before so she understands how Dean feels. Dean thinks taking on monsters is easy compared to humans. There is logic to evil of monsters but the evil of humans is just madness.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Entertainment, Television

 

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Supernatural Season One Episodes 1 – 8

TV Binge

1. Pilot. 

marywinchesterThis first episode starts with the events that initiated everything so I’ll go into a bit of detail with it. At the home of John and Mary Winchester. Mary is awakened by noises from baby Sam’s room and goes to investigate. She sees the silhouette of a man and just assumes it is John and heads back to bed. The she hears the TV on downstairs and sees John asleep in front of it. She screams Sammy’s name and run up to nursery. John wakes up and goes upstairs to Sammy’s cot and at first he sees nothing. A drop of blood on his hand makes him look up to see Mary slashed across her stomach and pinned to the ceiling. Flames erupt around her body and John lifts Sam from his cot before the flames engulf the room and gets the boys to safety giving Sammy to Dean to carry outside.

Forward 22 years to the present and baby Sammy is now straight-A student Sam studying law at Stanford and looking forward to a future with his girlfriend Jessica Moore (Adrianne Palicki). Then Dean turns up in their apartment wanting Sam’s help to track down their father John who’s gone missing. In the intervening years John has been on a single-minded quest for vengeance against whatever supernatural entity killed his wife, hunting and killing every evil thing they come across and when his sons were old enough training them to be hunters too. When Sam left for college John took it badly and they fought so Sam has mixed feeling about seeing John again. Dean really turns on the guilt-tripping and pleading and persuades Sam to come with him.

The brothers investigate a missing person’s casein Jericho California that John was investigating and found it is a Lady in White style haunting though he left before getting rid of the ghost. These are the spirits of women who were driven mad by their husband’s unfaithfulness and murdered their children then killed themselves. Now she haunts the road and bridge where she died, getting a ride from cheating men who she kills and makes vanish.

Sam and Dean investigate the case with their usual brand of wit and deceit including impersonating state marshals which gets Dean arrested and this means he can get his hands on his father’s journal that the Sheriff (R.D. Call) has been reading. This journal has a record of every evil thing John has hunted and how it was killed as well as relevant passages copied from old books.

The ghost attacks Sam and he comes up with a very original solution – the ghost would ask to be taken home but then say she can never go home so Sam smashes the car into the house. This gives the two ghosts of the murdered children a chance to get their vengeance on the spirit of their mother and the ghosts consume each other and vanish.

They find coordinates left by their father in his journal as some sort of message but Sam wants to go back to his college and really has no interest in returning to hunting. He has no memory of his mother and so is not motivated to avenge her death Dean is disappointed but he drops off Sam at his apartment. Sam relaxes back on his bed and drops of blood hit his head. Jessica is pinned to the ceiling with her stomach slashed and there is an eruption of flames that engulf the room. Dean kicks down the door and drags Sam out to safety. Now Sam is just as committed to the hunt as his father was in his quest for vengeance.

2. Wendigo

A group of campers go missing in the wilderness at Blackwater Ridge Colorado, captured by a wendigo, a creature from Native American legends. It used to be human but it has gained powers including speed, strength and immortality from cannibalism and is a fantastic hunter.  Sam and Dean find themselves having to take care of a brother (Alden Ehrenreich) and sister (Gina Holden) who are searching for their older brother (Graham Wardle) and the smartass guide (Callum Keith Rennie) they have hired when they realise what they are up against is immune to their guns. Fortunately their father taught them what was effective if they survive long enough to use it.

Sam and Dean are following coordinates left by John in his journal as a message to the brothers hoping they will lead them to him.  Sam is twisted by grief and rage and this is making him impatient to find John and then find whatever killed Jessica but Dean tries to get him to realise that their search may take time and he can’t run on rage all the time. Their mission is to stop people getting killed by things and they have people to take care of right there.

3. Dead in the Water

The spirit of a young boy is haunting Lake Manitoc, Wisconsin and taking vengeance on those who killed him by killing their families before killing them. Dean and Sam have to keep the local sheriff’s (Daniel Hugh Kelly) daughter Andrea (Amy Acker) and his grandson Lucas (Nico McEown) from the clutches of the spirit who can travel through the pipes to attack people anywhere in the local town. Since the dead boy’s body was lost in the bottom of the lake they cannot get rid of his spirit by their usual method of by salting and burning the remains. The spirit does seem to be appeased when his killer sacrifices himself willingly to save his family.

Dean forms a connection with Lucas who is mute since seeing his father killed on the lake which reminds Dean of how he lost his mother at a young age . The boy seems to have precognitive powers and tries to warn Dean of the attacks through his drawings.

4. Phantom Traveller

A black smoky spirit creature is entering frightened air travellers and causing them to crash the planes they are on 40 minutes into the flight. This is the first demon the Winchesters come across in the series but this is very low level demon. They learn that it was a demon from the sulphur residue it left behind on the wreckage of a plane. The plan is to find the demon then exorcise it from whomever it is possesses and banishing it to hell.

They are brought into this case by a guy Jerry (Brian Markinson) that Dean and John helped before with a poltergeist so he knows this the sort of thing they deal with.  Sam learns that when John spoke about him it was with pride which surprises Sam since they had big argument when Sam left.

They learn that John has put a message on his phone telling people to contact Dean if they need help. This seems to suggest that John knows what they have been doing and Dean is right that he wants them to take over his work of saving people by hunting things.

Dean like likes to act like he is the fearless one and he certainly has no fear when taking on supernatural creatures but he’s afraid of flying in airplanes which isn’t even an irrational fear since if they cannot stop the demon the plane they are on will certainly crash.

There is a running sub-plot about Sam’s difficulties getting to sleep without nightmares that gets first mentioned in this episode and so far it’s just the recurring memory of her death and though Dean is concerned he doesn’t push it.

5. Bloody Mary

In Toledo Ohio three young girls on a sleepover are playing truth or dare and one dare is the old Bloody Mary thing – say her name in the mirror three times ans she”l gouge out you eyes. It is treated as just a stupid easy dare but the audience gets to see a spirit in different mirrors when no-one is looking. This example of the urban legend turns out to be a ghost in a mirror who kills people who have been secretly responsible for someone’s death but not necessarily the person who called her. The victims are found with dead with eyes burst and massive cerebral haemorrhaging.  Sam and Dean use ultraviolet light to reveal the names of people who have died on the back of the mirrors and they discover the link between those names and the people killed by the spirit.

Once they figure out the spirit’s MO Sam thinks he has the right qualifications to attract the spirit which basically means he’s been keeping something important secret from Dean. Though Dean knows Sam has been having nightmares about Jessica’s death Sam has never mentioned that these nightmares started before Jessica died and his guilt is that he said nothing to her out of fear of revealing the secret of his life as a hunter. Psychic Sam is a long-running plot that sees many twists along the way.

They find the original mirror that Bloody Mary was murdered in front of and Sam calls to her and sure enough she appears and attacks him but Dean manages to smash her mirror but this just frees her from the mirror. She attacks both of them but Dean holds up a mirror and her spirit is compelled to attack her own murderous manifestation and destroy itself or something.

6. Skin

Skin-1-6In St Louis one of Sam’s college friends Zach (Aleks Holtz) is arrested for murdering his girlfriend but his sister Rebecca (Amy Grabow) insists he was with her when the murder happened. They discover there is a shape-shifter in town and even though they are very familiar with the method for taking down a shape-shifter this one causes extra grief for the brothers when it takes the form of Dean and gets his face noticed by the police.

This shape-shifter changes form by shedding its skin, teeth, hair, everything and it seems to have a psychic link to whoever it impersonates so it not only looks the same, it has the same memories. While in Dean’s form it is a lot more frank with Sam about Dean’s feelings than Dean ever is. It talks about Dean’s fear of abandonment with both Sam and his father leaving him and about how much Dean has sacrificed to follow this mission and keep them together

Sam realises at the end of the episode that he really can’t have a normal life now that he has seen how much keeping things from his friends could hurt them and that Dean may be right about keeping attachments to a minimum.

7. Hook Man

Another urban legend gets an outing with a killer with a hook killing people off around the Eastern Iowa University campus with deaths staged just like in the tales children tell to scare each other. They seem to be associated with a young student Lori (Jane McGregor) who is the daughter of local church minister Reverend Sorensen (Dan Butler)

This is a fairly straightforward case with investigations uncovering a hook handed killer pastor in the past and this is the spirit who is killing people now. The only complication is that after salting and burning the remains the spirit is still active.  Sam figures out that the hook also counts as remains but it was reforged. They have to get all the silver in the church and put it in a fire to destroy the spirit. I always notice this solution as it makes no sense since this exactly what happened to the hook when it was reforged so that surely must have destroyed the spirit.

This episode didn’t have very much to do with main series story arc. There was a bit of a mention at the start of Sam’s effort to find John and the trail going cold.

8. Bugs

A series of deaths in a brand new housing development called Oasis Plains Oklahoma are caused by bugs and creepy crawlies. After investigating it turns out to be down to a Native American curse and there is no getting rid of the curse, there is just getting away from it.

Matthew (Tyler Johnston) the teenage son of property developer Larry (Andrew Airlie) gets a hard time from his dad and Sam sympathises with him and offers advice to the boy that Dean takes as an indirect swipe at their father. It seems Sam is having mixed feelings about meeting their father since in many ways he is still angry about many things but by the end of the episode he accepts he may owe his father an apology.

We see Dean raising funds by hustling pool at the start of the episode. This was mentioned back in the pilot but this the first we actually see how the boys make a living since hunting doesn’t earn any money and is quite costly at times. Sam complain that they could get day jobs but Dean is having none of that.
As soon as they get to Oasis Plain Dean expresses his disdain for suburbia with its manicured lawns but knowing Dean this is him discounting the life he could never have to convince himself that he’s lucky to never be cursed by a life of boredom.

While investigating the brothers pose as potential buyers and there is a running joke of everyone mistaking brothers for a gay couple. It is taken in good humour by Dean who even makes joke of it himself. There’s another nice scene where they go talk to an old Yuchi man who takes instant dislike Dean for trying to lie to him but happily answers all Sam’s questions

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2014 in Entertainment, Television

 

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Supernatural Season One

TV Binge

Supernatural Season 1 DVD 001I spend so much time watching TV series, binging on entire season in one go so I thought I may as well write about them. I cannot see how to avoid spoilers since even the presence of a character in one episode is often a spoiler to previous episodes, especially in this series. I’ll give an overview of the season as a whole before discussing the episodes in more depth in later posts.

Supernatural is about two brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester who travel around the United States hunting down dangerous supernatural creatures or phenomena and putting a stop to them. They have been raised in this life by their father John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) after their mother Mary (Samantha Smith) was killed by the demon Azazel in Sam’s nursery when he was a baby. Azazel’s signature method of killing is to slice his victims open and pin them to ceiling then set the place on fire. This scene is recapped at the start of every early episode so they really get their money’s worth out of it.

Sam and Dean are very different. Dean is the older brother and never lets Sam forget it, always calling him Sammy just to annoy him. He’s brash and straightforward while Sam is more studious and thoughtful. Dean is totally committed to his family and sees their life as hunters as an important task in itself while Sam hopes to see an end to their troubles and a return to normal life. Dean is always trying to live up to what he thinks his father wants while Sam questions his father in everything. These differences lead to a dramatic tension that runs through all the seasons.

Each season does have its own story arc but in the earlier ones most episodes are standalone “monster of the week” episodes where the Winchesters discover something strange is killing people and they figure out a way of putting a stop to whatever is happening. Although the episodes stand on their own there is often a development related to the main story arc and there’s usually an important lesson for one of the brothers.

The story of the first season is about the quest for vengeance for the murder of their mother and Sam’s girlfriend Jess (Adrianne Palicki). First they need to find their father who has been on this same quest for 22 years. He has left behind his journal with details of all the supernatural creatures he has dealt with over the years and it contains many scribbled notes and newspaper clippings and is one of their most valuable sources of information.

After ten episodes of running all over the country Sam starts getting the impression their father is keeping them out of the way. John does finally contact them only start giving them orders but his only pisses Sam off and he goes off on his own which is something that seems to happen at least once every season. He wants to find John right away while Dean carries on with the job that John gave them. While he’s gone he meets a young woman called Meg Masters (Nicki Aycox) who is actually possessed by a demon. Meg is a recurring character in this show and is actually working for Azazel. As soon as Sam thinks Dean is in trouble he rushes back to rescue him but the episode marks a change to increased emphasis on the search for a way to kill Azazel.

John discovered the existence of a revolver created by Samuel Colt that  according to legend can kill any supernatural creature and this is what he needs to kill Azazel. Acquiring the Colt and keeping it out of the hands of Meg and her demon buddies is a good part of the end of the season and leads to a very violent and intense climax.

This series really got off to a strong start with its first season thanks to the main characters that really get fleshed out. Sam is a fiercely independent man on a mission of vengeance and is much more similar to his father John than Dean is and this why they are always butting heads. Dean is much more committed to his family than the mission and is not prepared to see either Sam or John throw their lives away for vengeance. Dean’s the joker, the jock, the lad but that is really a front for someone who is terrified that those who he loves will leave him.

There are a few important supporting cast member who often return but none are more important than the grouchy old drunk Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) who in later seasons becomes like a surrogate father to the boys as well as providing important knowledge, helping to back up their cover stories when they are on jobs and having to listen to brothers bitch about each other. He only appears in the very last episode of the season but it is nice to see him

There is nice mix of stories with some more serious than others.There is quite a bit of humour in the stories mostly from Dean quipping and making references to films and making jokes at Sam’s expense. Late in the season in the episode Hell House the boys meet a pair of ghost hunters called Harry Spangler (Travis Wester) and Ed Zeddmore (A.J. Buckley) who think they are experts because they have website. They return in later seasons so we can enjoy seeing the brothers taking the piss out of them again. The more serious side comes in episodes like Faith in which Dean is dying and Sam takes him to faith healer. It is the first time that the series actually discusses the beliefs of the brothers.

This is series where bingeing on one season is not enough for me and I often go on to watch all the available episodes again

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The Last Exorcism

The DVD Shelf

the-last-exorcismI saw this film when it first came to DVD but my main memory was of the over the top ending which took me out of the film. After seeing the sequel I decided to give first film another watch and this time I got a lot more enjoyment out of it second time around and could actually see the way the ending was being set up. I think I was more committed to the type of film this was initially pretending to be when I first saw it but now that I know it is a supernatural horror I can appreciate the way they mislead the audience.

This is done by use of a documentary style which is setting out to be an exposé of the fraudulent practices of exorcists or at least the practices of the main character, Evangelist preacher Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian). The documentary format does at least do the job of justifying the presence of the camera and the shaky cam. There’s only a guy with a camera and a sound recordist so there isn’t a big crew following him around.

Cotton was brought up by his evangelical preacher father to be a preacher from an early age to impress the flock with his showy style of noisy preaching and the novelty of his yourh. Part of the act is performing exorcisms which were fine while Cotton believed he may be doing good but when he read of child being horrifically killed during an exorcism he wants to expose it as the dangerous fraud he now thinks it is. He seems to have lost his faith and after this last exorcism he is quitting

He picks a letter at random from Louis Sweetzer (Louis Herthum), a farmer who is convinced his daughter Nell (Ashley Bell) is possessed by a demon. Louis is a widower trying to raise his two children Nell and Caleb (Caleb Landry Jones) while they are all still grieving over the death of Louis’ wife. Louis is a very religious man and is worried about the forces of evil getting to his children so he has taken Nell out of church and school. Caleb is openly hostile to presence of Cotton and the documentary crew but when he spots Cotton pulling off a stunt he seems more amused by the show.

Cotton goes through with his performance but lets the documentary team in on the tricks. It manages to impress Nell and Louis and Cotton leaves with crew. They are staying in nearby hotel but it is far enough away that when Nell turns up barefoot at Cotton’s door in some sort of delirious state they take her to the local hospital.

This event sees the focus of the film move to Nell. Cotton and the crew are genuinely worried about Nell. They see her problems stemming from the isolation being imposed by Louis and when they speak to local pastor he reinforces their fears. Cotton and the crew try to talk Louis into getting professional help for Nell but when she attacks Caleb it drives Louis to seek drastic action. Even worse for Cotton the idea for this action came from something he said during his con script to convince Louis that the exorcism was necessary.

This leads to final act where Cotton desperately tries another exorcism and the film takes its final twist into full on supernatural horror. I had missed all the clues about what the film was really up to so this seemed at odds with film I was enjoying – I’m just guessing here but basically I just didn’t get into the ending. In the second viewing I was watching out for the clues and they are pretty clear.

The film plays about with the idea that our outlook on the world depends on our beliefs about it, especially in the middle of the film where assumptions about Louis are based the belief that he’s wrong in how raises his daughter because he’s obviously an ignorant superstitious man. The film then smashes away the foundation of those assumptions in the final act and it manages to bring things to a horrific conclusion a bit better than most other found footage films. It isn’t the most original of stories and it has elements inspired some classics of the horror genre but the set-up was very well done and the main cast are all great.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on January 19, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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October Horror Day 1

Horror Journal

This year rather than trying to do a full review every day I’m just going to post a diary with short summaries of the films I’m watching this October.

Frankensteins Army

There are some concepts that no matter how badly they are done I’m going to be watching them so I was eagerly anticipating the release of Frankensteins Army which promised to glory in the excesses of mad science. A group of Russian soldiers come across a German village where everyone is dead and underground they discover a mad scientist, a descendant of the famous Frankenstein, who is creating monsters out of fusions of machines and human flesh. The creatures are every bit as effective as the concept promises and Karl Roden is great as the titular Dr Frankenstein. The downside is that the film is more spectacle than story and the film is without a protagonist and feels bit aimless. It is shot in the found footage style and this leads to a lot of confusion during the action as the camera shakes around and it was only when thing quietened down that I could tell what had happened. Overall the film was fun and Frankenstein’s Army would be amazing in a computer game or as a theme for Halloween haunted house attraction, which nicely leads into the next film I watched

Jack’s Motel

On IMDb this film is called “Six Degrees of Hell” which has the benefit of being similar to a line in the dialogue. I mainly picked it up because Corey Feldman‘s name was across the top of the box but his part seems to be a later addition since he only interacts with one other cast member in a kind of wraparound story. This story is set around a Halloween haunted house attraction called Uncle Jack’s Hotel (not a motel like in UK DVD title). Jack gets some powerful magic relics from psychic to decorate the attraction but with these relics comes a supernatural force that brings the horror to life. This one is okay for low-budget horror and it makes great use of the haunted house setting and its cast of actors. I did get a bit confused because some the cast look quite similar which made it tricky to tell what was going on

The Last Exorcism Part II

This sequel continues the story of Nell, the girl who was possessed in the first film. She is determined to create a normal life for herself so she moves into a halfway house and gets a job but the past will not go away and she must face the demonic forces closing around her once more. It’s a very typical horror with nothing to really make it stand out from the crowd but the lead performance is very good.

Texas Chainsaw 

Another sequel, this time to the Tobe Hooper`s classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I was fully expecting this film to be dreadful and while it never approaches the fever-induced nightmare of the original, the story was okay. Apparently after the first film a group of locals laid siege to Leatherface’s family home and killed everyone except a baby and Leatherface . Two decades later and the grown up baby Heather learns she has inherited what looks like a massive plantation house in Texas from her grandmother. Heather goes there to check it out with her boyfriend and a couple of friends and soon the chainsaw engine is roaring again. There is certainly plenty of gore buthat doesn’t substitute for pervasive atmosphere of horror that he original did so well. At least they seemed to mainly use physical effects but it’s a bit vanilla compared to the original and won’t change the genre. It has mainly left me with a desire to see the original again.
 
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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in Film

 

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Review: Hellraiser – Hellworld

Hellraiser Reviews

hellworld 001

Look at this crude photoshop job with the head of Pinhead and the green Matrix text you can tell from the cover how much writing effort was put in

I don’t think I’d have bothered with this film if not to complete my reviews of all the Hellraiser films. It is the film that’s furthest from the original film, being little more than a slasher film tarted up in Hellraiser trappings and fused with a thin veneer of cliché computer gamer. The direction is okay, the acting variable but good enough but what really lets it down is the story. I never felt involved in the story because it never felt like a Hellraiser film and the Hellraiser trappings were a constant reminder of that.

The film opens with a teenager digging a hole in a cellar. This is Adam () and although he is central to the story we don’t get much insight into his character apart from flash backs to this scene where he kills himself by pouring petrol over himself and burning himself to death.

At Adam’s funeral we learn from his buddies that Adam killed himself because he was obsessed with a computer game called Hellworld. I have no idea how that is supposed to work but the film will not be exploring this deadly game in any way at all. Hellworld seems to be this film’s introduction the Hellraiser mythos, showing that film is flirting with fourth wall. Adam’s friends are the usual gang of five clichés of the genre: there’s the pretty jock Mike (Henry Cavill in a pre-Superman role), the perky punky Allison (Anna Tolputt), the cheerful asthmatic joker Derrick (Khary Payton), walking cloud of depression Jake (Christopher Jacot) and last of course Chelsea (Katheryn Winnick) the nice girl destined to be the last one standing. None of Adam’s family is present because his mother is in a mental hospital after finding his body while his father has never been around is constantly abroad on business. And that’s it for Adam’s backstory. The friends are all feeling guilty for not intervening to prevent Adam from killing himself but it’s difficult to justify blaming them even if they were all playing the Hellworld game too. Unfortunately the theme of guilt and blame are going to be central to the story. The funeral scene ends with Chelsea opening the coffin and getting grabbed by the corpse before waking up because she was having a nightmare.

Forward two years and Chelsea is studying in her when Mike comes to her door to try to scare her with a Cenobite mask. He’s really there to show her a Hellworld website with a game whose prize is an invitation to party at somewhere called Leviathan House, a reference so obvious it gets lampshaded by Chelsea rolling her eyes. Mike tries to talk Chelsea into going but she really doesn’t and remarks that Derrick and Allison wouldn’t be interested. Cut to Derrick and Allison who are eagerly playing the game at their computer to win themselves invitations. This means that only Chelsea doesn’t want to go but on the day of the party she shows up in her SUV to drive them up there.

They get to the very large Leviathan House and inside the party is in full swing. The place is decorated with Lament boxes and bright neon signs and there are several bars for the partygoers. By an amazing coincidence Jake arrives just behind them to open contempt from Allison and fake friendliness from the others.

The host of the party (Lance Henriksen) bursts out a pair of double doors and greets the five, identifying them as newbies and after seeing their invitations he invites them in for drinks and an introductory tour of the house. Only Jake and Chelsea turn down the offer of drink, Jake because he doesn’t drink and Chelsea because she’s driving. His office is full of Hellraiser paraphernalia and busy hands are soon picking things up and playing with them. Allison quickly regrets spraying herself with perfume from a bottle and Mike finds his fingers stained with ink from the Cenobite design tarot cards he plays with. There’s a sense of significance about these events.

As he takes them down to the basement he tells stories about the house’s past as a convent and then later as a mental hospital with the tragedies involved in both periods. The basement basically looks like a pathology lab with shelves full of specimens of deformed foetuses and body parts and surgical tools lying around. Allison, Mike and Derrick seem impressed but Chelsea needs a bit more than theatrical props to scare her. She gets it when the host grabs her arm and sticks a pin deep into it. Chelsea feels strange she has a sudden vision of Pinhead pulling the pin out. It only lasts for a moment then everything’s back to normal but she’s very wary of the host and tells him to stay away from her.

The host takes them back upstairs to enjoy the party and introduces them to some fairly pointless scheme where everyone has a numbered mask and a mobile phone and if you fancy someone you call their number. It sounds something from a middle class middle aged swingers party and not really something for college students. While on the subject of the party goers the whole thing seems very tame and vanilla and the crowd are a bit plain and boring despite the sex and gratuitous bare breasts. There is no difference between this crowd and that of any other nightclub and they don’t seem like Hellraiser fans. This might be justified by later revelations but it goes unnoticed by the friends.

They split up at the party so of course this is when they start dying off. Aliison sees a room with a large “Keep Out” sign on the door so she enters because she’s naughty. She finds a torture chair and sits on it and suddenly it locks her in place and a nasty looking pair of rotating saw blades lock in place in front of her face. The host appears and engages the motor for the blades which slowly come towards Allison’s throat and slices it open. Pinhead appears and tells her Adam was right

This is followed by a scene where Jake meets the host who gives him a puzzle box made by Adam. When Jake examines it nails spring out and pierce his fingers. This is a bit strange because it seems this scene should have come earlier.

Derrick is dancing with a woman when he loses in inhaler and it falls down a grate into the basement. He wheezes down stairs and recovers his inhaler in the pathology lab. He takes a puff and lies down to recover. Pinhead appears and chops off his head.

Mike got together with a woman who gives him a blowjob. Afterwards she takes him down to the basement with promises of more sex but when they get to pathology lab she locks him in and leaves. Mike tries to pretend he’s not freaked out by the props and by the headless corpse dressed in Derek’s clothes but they unsettle him then he sees Derrick’s head in a jar and freaks. A Cenobite enters the room an operates a winch that drives a huge hook into Mike’s back and drags him around until he dies and then Pinhead appears and tells us that it just beginning.

This just leaves Jake and Chelsea among the friends and the film changes pace. Jake goes to bar to try to get a drink but everyone ignores like he’s not there. He follows a woman into an upper gallery area and they make love but she turns out to be a ghost of a nun. Chelsea was following someone who looks like Adam and ended up locked in a room. She tries to call the police but when they arrive the host convinces them that one of his guests is drunk and playing joke. Chelsea tries calling them and telling them to look up at the window she is watching them from but they can’t see her and eventually leave.

I’ve talked about this long enough and this film’s last act has a fairly uninteresting series of chases and fake outs around the house by Chelsea and Jake as they figure out what’s going on. Jake realises that whole thing was set-up to get them there and what they are experiencing has stopped being real some time ago. Chelsea has discovered that their host is actually Adam’s father and he blames them for Adam’s death. The whole thing was a very elaborate murder plot but the host wanted to make them suffer using the Hellword he blames for the death of his son. He drugged them with some kind of magic drug that can somehow fully create a convincing reality with help of subliminal suggestions. All five have been buried in coffins since their visit to the basement and everything since was created by suggestions delivered through the phones left in the coffins. It just seems too elaborate and would only ever work because it is written that way in the script. Anyway Chelsea and Jake are both rescued by the police who got phone call from this place, probably from Adam’s ghost since the house is empty and the host has fled.

All the earlier appearances of Pinhead and the Cenobites in the film were just from the imagination of the victims, explaining their out of character behaviour but as the host sits in hotel examining the puzzle box he brought with him it turns out to the genuine article and it opens. Pinhead and the Cenobites arrive and introduce the host to hell with an impressive blade on a chain and one of those CGI effects of a body falling to bits after a cartoonish delay. It is far too little and far too late.

I think the problem with this film is that it was thrown together with a low-budget and a script that was barely more than an outline. It was made back-to-back with Deader but instead of incorporating the Romanian location into the script this tried to pretend it was somewhere in America.Overall is it is just a run-of-the-mill slasher film and Pinhead and the Cenobites are reduced to a mere cameo

Rating 5.0/10

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Posted by on September 28, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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