Archive for July, 2012

The Geisha of Gore Practices Some KUNG FU FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (1982)

Posted in 2012, 80s Movies, Action Movies, Asian Horror, Colleen Wanglund Reviews, Geisha of Gore Reviews, Ghosts!, Kung Fu!, Martial Arts with tags , , , , , , on July 31, 2012 by knifefighter

The Geisha of Gore Reviews:
KUNG FU FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (1982)
By Colleen Wanglund

Everybody was kung fu fighting…..including the dead…..in this action/horror flick from the legendary Shaw Brothers. For those of you who don’t know (could there be that many of you?) the Shaw Brothers began their enterprise back in 1924, making and showing their own kind of silent films. The 1950s saw brothers Run Run and Runme Shaw establish Shaw Brothers (HK) Ltd., and that would lead to the most prolific decades for Shaw Brothers movies. Not only did they run their own movie studio/production company, but their film empire also included movie theaters and distribution companies. They even had exclusive contracts with many actors and actresses, just like the old Hollywood system. Their logo is, in fact, modeled on that of Warner Brothers Studios. In 2002 Celestial Pictures bought the rights to the entire Shaw Brothers library of over 760 films, and until this happened very few of the studio’s movies had appeared in any format other than original theatrical releases.

Enough with the history lesson, on to the film!

Directed by Chiu Lee (who also worked as an actor, writer and stuntman) KUNG FU FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (1982) begins with the Chinese Ghost Month, an annual festival that takes place in the seventh month of the lunar calendar, when it is believed that the spirits of the deceased visit the living from the lower realm. Chun Sing (Billy Chong) is visited by the ghost of his father, who tells Chun that he was murdered by Kam Tai Fu (Lieh Lo), a powerful lord, and that Chun must avenge his father’s death. On his way, Chun comes across the body of a sorcerer and finds the book of magic that the Dark Sorcerer killed him for, but couldn’t find (it was cleverly hidden in the hilt of a sword).

In the meantime, Kam has employed a Dark Sorcerer (Sai Aan Dai) to perform a series of rituals that will ultimately make Kam invulnerable to weapons of any kind. A series of murders have occurred at a local inn, among couples whose hearts have been removed from their bodies. These hearts are what the Sorcerer requires for his bloody rituals. A government agent has been sent to investigate the murders and is staying the inn when Chun arrives. Chun goes to Kam’s home and tells him who he is and that he is out to avenge the murder of his father. After some fights with Kam’s men, Chun leaves and goes back to the inn. Chun is told about a man who may know where his father’s bones are buried and is led to a hidden burial ground in the forest. The man, his daughter and Chun are attacked by an angry spirit and must flee for their safety.

The government agent and his recently arrived partner know what is happening and must put a stop to it. Two of Chun’s allies pose as a young couple in need of a room at the inn and they ultimately foil the plans to steal two more hearts for the final ritual. There is a final battle between the good guys and the Sorcerer with the help of the book of magic and some prostitutes with their monthly female business (don’t ask) and Chun and the government agents manage to rally the town against Kam, with a final fight between Chun and Kam in the hidden burial ground.

My bootleg copy of KUNG FU FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE came to me through a friend of mine who didn’t know what they were giving me. As a fan of Asian films, I knew immediately this was a Shaw Brothers B-movie….and watching it, you will recognize its very low-budget quality.

As to the horror aspect of the film, it’s kind of weak and cheesy. I still am not sure if the dead seen in the movie are supposed to be ghosts or zombies; I know the mythology used says they are ghosts but the laughable special effects seem to have them looking more like zombies. I do think the rituals using the hearts from a couple killed at the height of orgasm was a very cool concept, however I would have liked to have seen more in the way of the black magic and the Ghost Month and its significance to the story. There is a truly bizarre scene when Chun and the Sorcerer meet up and some ghosts “fight” for Chun—the Sorcerer calls on Dracula to come fight the spirits. These particular effects involve the sky turning to night and a wolf howling, introducing the only non-Asian guy in the cast. Alas, Dracula is quickly dispatched by garlic cloves that cause the vampire to explode. It’s weird and out-of-place, as though it was added as an afterthought to boost the horror of the film. I could have done without it. There was also an attempt at humor with these particular spirits, but in my opinion it falls flat.

What really makes KUNG FU FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE worth watching is the kung fu. The fighting is awesome to watch and is beautifully choreographed. Billy Chong is an Indonesian martial artist who also starred in KUNG FU ZOMBIE the same year. His character, Chun, is still just a martial arts student, so he is not the best fighter and that is what makes things interesting. Chun gets his ass kicked more than once but doesn’t give up and finds help along the way….from both the living and the dead. The movie’s bad guy, Kam, is played by another great Indonesian martial artist, Lieh Lo, who also starred in one of the best kung fu films ever made and really established the genre, 1972’s FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH. Lo seems to play his role with much glee, reveling in the badness of Kam. Lo joined the Shaw Brothers in 1962 and was a kung fu superstar before anyone had heard of Bruce Lee.

There isn’t much dialogue, which is at times a blessing, as the film’s English dub is atrocious—but makes for some very funny moments. There is also a lot of ghostly moaning and groaning going on in between the ghosts speaking actual words, of course. The basic story is pretty cliché—“find my body, bring it home, and avenge my death!”—but it works to set it all up, so I guess you just stick with what works. And as I’ve said the special effects are cheap and cheesy. The ghosts’ faces all look as though someone just threw some oatmeal at them, the wire work isn’t too impressive and the magic book shoots really bad looking laser beams to combat bad magic. Yes, I was rolling my eyes and laughing my butt off.

I will say, for all of its faults, KUNG FU FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE is an entertaining little flick. Not quite campy enough to say that it’s so bad it’s good, but close enough. What is especially disappointing to me as a B-movie fan—no matter what country it comes from—is that the latest DVD release of the film from 2003 gets the title wrong. That needs to be rectified when or if it’s ever rereleased to Blu-ray.

© Copyright 2012 by Colleen Wanglund

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THE WATCH (2012)

Posted in 2012, Aliens, Comedies, Controverisal Films, Kelly Laymon Reviews, R-Rated Comedy with tags , , , , , , on July 30, 2012 by knifefighter

THE WATCH (2012)
Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One!  Four Dumb Guys Find An Alien…
Review by Kelly Laymon

It’s been a rough week or so for cinema and film nerds.  On top of the massacre in Colorado at THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012), THE WATCH carries some unfortunate connotations.  Originally titled NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH, the studio changed the title and original ad campaign due to the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida back in late February.  And there are some lines I laughed at due to how ill-fitting they were in light of recent events.  (They were funny lines that will still be funny once we’re a bit more removed from the situation, but this was more of a cringe-laugh.)  Especially some scenes that relate to Jonah Hill’s character, who is a local police academy reject.

That being said, the plot of THE WATCH has little to do with reality.  Ben Stiller plays the manager of a Costco store where the overnight watchman has been murdered in an unusual fashion.  This is where Stiller slips into his semi-regular character of The Uptight Control Freak Guy Who’s Obsessed With Fitness and starts a local neighborhood watch chapter.  The turn-out of rag-tag weirdos…you can see them coming up Sunset Boulevard.

Vince Vaughn also slips into his almost-constant character of The Fast Talking Wise-Ass Who Just Wants To Party, Baby.  And, of course, Jonah Hill as the angry young police academy reject and pervy cop wannabe.  There are subtle jokes about how helpful it is to have a man of color, Richard Ayoade, rounding out the team.

They bust some silly teens, party, bond, get made fun of by the local PD, etc., as they close in on what turns out to be an alien conspiracy, which is occurring in the basement of the Costco.  To say much more about the plot isn’t really necessary.  The humor comes from four dopey guys acting like The Hardy Boys, and their throwaway lines.  When the guys in a film like this talk and reason with situations like me and my buddies would, I have a good time.

To be honest, I went in expecting a slightly better version of an Adam Sandler flick.  I was wrong.  This is actually pretty funny.  It’s not the kind of comedy that’s going to strike an emotional chord.  Nothing much will resonate with real life and you probably won’t develop a deeper appreciation for it with repeated viewings.  It’s not FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL (2008), THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN (2005), TED (2012) or FUNNY PEOPLE (2009).  That being said, it’s still solid entertainment.  I’d put it on at one of my small gatherings for background laughs.

THE WATCH was originally going to be called NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH, but the name was changed due to recent unfortunate events.

Okay.  Let’s start with the good: the cast.  As I hinted at earlier, everyone plays to their strengths and types, especially Stiller, Vaughn, and Hill.  I run hot and cold on Stiller, mostly cold.  However, it’s no secret that I enjoy Vaughn and Hill a great deal.  If Vaughn only ever really plays varying versions of Trent from SWINGERS (1996), I’ll still be smiling.  Hill’s had an up and down year, what with an Oscar nomination for MONEYBALL (2011), the slightly-better-than-mediocre THE SITTER (2011), and some decent success with the 21 JUMP STREET (2012) adaptation.  Having only been aware of Richard Ayoade by name only, I didn’t know what to expect from him.  I am now a fan.

The bad?  Well, my favorite incarnation of “the anti-funny,” Will Forte, has a small role.  Why is he in every movie or TV show I watch?  When will we all agree that this guy is NOT funny?  Haven’t half of my reviews been marred by having to mention this guy?  He’s about as funny as stepping on a broken bottle at the beach.

Also on the bad side: two fairly unnecessary plotlines that didn’t add much humor to the overall film.  In fact, the two subplots tried to add unnecessary depth to a film that should have just relied on the humor and the strengths of the cast members.  The subplots?  Vaughn has an ongoing feud with his teenage daughter about…teenage daughter issues, while Stiller and his wife (played by Rosemarie DeWitt) are suffering from infertility.  Sure, these subplots grab some laughs, but they aren’t needed.

I’ll give this a loose three and a half knives.  With a different cast, it could’ve been awful.  But Vaughn’s party boy and Hill’s loose cannon make it worth it.  If you don’t like those two guys and their style, you might prefer something else.

© Copyright 2012 by Kelly Laymon

Kelly Laymon gives THE WATCH ~three and a half knives.

Friday Night Knife Fights: NEAR DARK VS. THE LOST BOYS – PART 3

Posted in 1980s Horror, 2012, Friday Night Knife Fights, Staff Writers, Supernatural, Vampires with tags , , , , , , on July 27, 2012 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS
NEAR DARK (1987) vs. THE LOST BOYS (1987)
PART 3 of 3
With Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, Paul McMahon, and Mark Onspaugh

MICHAEL ARRUDA: Good evening everybody, and welcome to Part 3 of FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS. Tonight it’s the final segment of our NEAR DARK vs. THE LOST BOYS debate.

Up until now, it’s been all NEAR DARK.

LS: That comes as no surprise!

MA: After three rounds, it’s NEAR DARK 3, THE LOST BOYS 0. It’s time for the final rounds, where we’ll see if NEAR DARK continues its shut-out performance, as it hasn’t allowed THE LOST BOYS to score even one point yet. Or, will THE LOST BOYS finally muster some strength to get on the scoreboard and fight its way back to a comeback victory? Stay with us and find out.

Once again, I’m joined on our panel by L.L. Soares, Paul McMahon, and Mark Onspaugh. Thanks again for taking part.

MO: No problem.

LS: I say we skip the rest of the panel and grab some beers. We all know which movie is going to win.

PM: I don’t know about that, but the beer part sounds good to me.

MO: Me, too.

MA: Well, as good as it sounds, we don’t really know which film is going to win. There’s always room for a comeback. Let’s finish the panel.

LS: You’re never any fun!

MA: It’s time for Round 4. Which film’s director does a better job at the helm?

I’ll go first.

THE LOST BOYS was directed by Joel Schumacher, and the best thing I can say for it is the movie looks good. It’s a slick professional directing job by Schumacher. Too bad no one reminded him that he was directing a horror movie. I think he secretly thought he was making this for Disney, as it plays like PETER PAN: VAMPIRE.

LS: Good one!

MA: I can’t say that I liked the job that Schumacher did here. His work on THE LOST BOYS reminded me a lot of his two Batman movies—BATMAN FOREVER (1995) and BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997) —and that’s not saying much.

(The sound of someone gagging in the background)

MA: My favorite Schumacher movie is probably FALLING DOWN (1993) starring Michael Douglas, a movie I like much better than THE LOST BOYS.

LS: FALLING DOWN is a good one. I also enjoyed TIGERLAND and 8MM (both from 1999). So the dude is capable of making good movies. But the majority of his career has been garbage.

MA: So, it goes without saying, that I prefer the direction by Kathryn Bigelow on NEAR DARK. She did what Schumacher and the others who worked on THE LOST BOYS didn’t do: she took the subject seriously. NEAR DARK is a much more serious vampire film, and as a result, is a more rewarding experience, especially for the horror fan.

LS: But LOST BOYS does take some of its story seriously. It just completely drops the ball when it feels the need to add the Coreys’ lame storyline.

As for which of these two movies had better direction, I’ll put it this way. Joel Schumacher ruined vampires in LOST BOYS, and he ruined Batman. Just keep this guy away from BATS!

Schmaucher has been working for decades and never seems to get any better at directing. Kathryn Bigelow is another level. Another league! You can’t compare them.

NEAR DARK all the way.

MO: These are two very different films.

I thought Schumacher made a wise choice showing almost all the flying from the vamp POV – especially when we see the terror on the security guard’s face (and taking the car door with him was badass) or the couple necking in the car.

MA: That was terror? I thought he looked constipated.

LS: He’s right about one thing, though. Flying vampires look pretty goofy. The POV scenes made them less so.

MO: But the bar scene in NEAR DARK, with the beer mug of blood, death by spur, etc., and the bits like the “old” kid downed on his bike or Paxton picking up lovelies… and the aforementioned bleakness… I go with Bigelow. It’s funny how you can see NEAR DARK leading to THE HURT LOCKER (2008), and THE LOST BOYS leading BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997).

MA: Very true. Good point!

LS: One trajectory is leading up, and one is leading down. Guess which is which.

Jamie Gertz plays Star in THE LOST BOYS.

PM: Joel Schumacher made an interesting choice in casting the vampires of THE LOST BOYS as teenagers. Even if he only did it to heighten interest among moviegoers at the time, it was still something that hadn’t been done to death yet. He also blends the younger and older actors pretty well. A lot was done to make it all seem” cool,” in an effort to soften the horror. Scenes that should have packed an emotional wallop were glossed over for laughs. Did I mention that the film ends on a friggin’ punch line? I agree with Mark. You get a premonition of Schumacher developing into the director who would put nipples on Batman.

Kathryn Bigelow sets an evil mood in NEAR DARK, gritty and dusty with big open spaces and lots of leather and Stetsons, calling up the Western tropes she was going for.

LS: There’s even a scene with a horse and a tumbleweed, for chrissakes! (laughs)

PM: She blends the elements of the story together smoothly, and gets solid performances out of all of her cast.

At the end, she seems to lose control of the material, though. She uses some ridiculous ‘Hollywood’ explosions to wrap things up (a tanker truck doesn’t even finish jackknifing before it blows sky-high), and like I’ve said, Jesse and Diamondback seem to just give up. As much as I hated the punch line ending of THE LOST BOYS, it’s only a few seconds and doesn’t interfere with what’s come before.

I’m going with Joel Schumacher and THE LOST BOYS.

MA: Wow. I agree that the ending to NEAR DARK isn’t all that great, but you think Grandpa coming to the rescue is better? I think you just might have been distracted when you watched this one!

LS: I’ll say!

MA: Okay, Round 4 goes to NEAR DARK, even though Paul tried yet again to get THE LOST BOYS in there.

Which means that after 4 Rounds, it’s NEAR DARK – 4, THE LOST BOYS – 0.

LS: Can we leave and grab those beers now?

Jenny Wright as Mae in NEAR DARK.

MA: Not yet! Because now it’s the moment everyone’s been waiting for. The fifth and final round. And let me just remind everyone how the scoring works. With this final round, should we all choose THE LOST BOYS, then that’s considered a “knock out” and THE LOST BOYS would win this bout, even though it has yet to score a point.

MO (points to LS): That means he would have to choose THE LOST BOYS over NEAR DARK?

MA: Yep.

(They all start laughing.)

LS: I’m telling you, let’s go grab those beers!

MA: Not yet! Hey, stranger things have happened, but don’t quote me on that. I’m not making any predictions!

The final question is: If you had to pick, which film do you think is better?

Mark, take it away.

MO: For jokey, family fun (with some good makeup effects), I’d go with THE LOST BOYS. It’s also a good time capsule for 80’s fashion.

But, if it’s straight-up horror with style (my preference), I’d go with NEAR DARK. So, it’s NEAR DARK for me.

One final note: I don’t mind vampire films setting up different rules than the ones we are used to, if they adhere to them—on the TV series BEING HUMAN I am fine with vamps being out in the sunlight, but prefer vamps like those in TRUE BLOOD or NEAR DARK, where the sun is death.

THE LOST BOYS also sets that up, but seems to break several of its own rules when Edward Hermann casts a reflection and is not affected by holy water—I thought this was a cheap device to throw us off his scent as lead vamp—that lame “Don’t ever invite a vampire into your house, you silly boy. It renders you powerless.” quote by Edward Hermann doesn’t excuse this sloppy writing.

MA: I completely agree. It’s one of the lamest moments in the movie. It’s one of the lamest moments in the history of vampire movies, period!

MO: Finally, I will say the Eddie Munster reference in THE LOST BOYS made me

laugh. It’s probably the only line that did make me laugh.

LS: That’s funny. That’s the only line that made me laugh, too.

MA: Lucky you. I didn’t laugh. Paul?

PM: THE LOST BOYS tried too hard to be a comedy, and as such never really punched the fear or danger buttons for me. There’s nothing there to earn the R rating. If the film were released today it would be PG-13 without changing a frame.

NEAR DARK was more of what I want from a vampire flick—more evil, more danger, more blood, more creepiness. NEAR DARK doesn’t try to be “cool” and doesn’t shellac the scariness with jokes and wacky characters. Plus, if it came out today, it would definitely keep its R.

My pick for the best movie is clearly NEAR DARK.

MA: Truth be told, I’m not a fan of either movie.

I saw THE LOST BOYS when it first came out, opening to strong reviews, but I hated it. I thought it was silly, the humor a misfire, and I couldn’t get into it.

I saw NEAR DARK later, after word of mouth had proclaimed it an excellent vampire movie. I saw it, but wasn’t wowed. In terms of 80s vampire movies, I like FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) much better.

But to choose between the two, there’s no comparison. I’d go with NEAR DARK, hands down. I like its story better, and the overall feel of the movie is much more to my liking. It’s scary, gritty, and realistic. THE LOST BOYS is ruined by its goofiness, and simply put, it’s a joke that I didn’t find funny.

LS: Yeah, we don’t need to belabor this, do we? NEAR DARK is head and shoulders (and everything else) above THE LOST BOYS. And I think it’s better than your beloved FRIGHT NIGHT, too (even though it did have Roddy McDowell in it). But that’s another argument for another time.

MA: Yeah, maybe we should have done that one! Because FRIGHT NIGHT is way better than NEAR DARK! But like you said, that’s for another time.

Well, that’s it, folks. The final tally is—NEAR DARK – 5 and THE LOST BOYS – 0. NEAR DARK pretty much smoked THE LOST BOYS the whole way. It was never that close.

LS: I’m exhausted. Can we those beers now?

MA: Yes, now we can relax and have a drink. Okay, everybody, thanks again for joining us! And thank you Mark and Paul, for taking part. Until next time—.

Good night everybody!

(FADE TO BLACK)

© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, Mark Onspaugh and Paul McMahon

Transmissions to Earth: ZONTAR: THE THING FROM VENUS (1966)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 2012, 60s Movies, Aliens, Based on a True Story, Campy Movies, Cult Movies, Larry Buchanan Movies, LL Soares Reviews, Monsters, Outer Space, Science Fiction, Trasmissions to Earth, TV-Movies with tags , , , , , , on July 26, 2012 by knifefighter

TRANSMISSIONS TO EARTH
ZONTAR: THE THING FROM VENUS (1966)
Movie Review by L.L. Soares

Welcome to the world of low-budget schlockmeister Larry Buchanan. Nick Cato recently reviewed one of his theatrical films, THE LOCH NESS HORROR (1981), for his “Suburban Grindhouse Memories” column, but that was just a warm-up for ZONTAR: THE THING FROM VENUS (1966), one of several TV-movies that Buchanan made in the 60s, ZONTAR has gone on to become a notorious cult movie.

In fact, it was inevitable that I would review this movie here, since the name of this column, “Transmissions to Earth,” was originally inspired by ZONTAR (you’ll see why in a minute).

A remake of Roger Corman’s IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (1956), with several scenes that are almost duplicates (but with different actors, of course), ZONTAR has no mention of the previous movie in its credits, in fact crediting the script to Buchanan and Hillman Taylor. So I’ll mention here that IT CONQUERED THE WORLD was written by Lou Rusoff and Charles B. Griffith.

ZONTAR begins in a NASA installation that looks like it’s made of cardboard, with doors that don’t shut properly, and oversized 50s computers that flash a lot of lights and beep a lot. Is this an Ed Wood production? Nope, but Buchanan is certainly in the same class as Mr. Wood. The men (and one woman) in the installation are overseeing the launching of a rocket bearing a “laser-satellite,” one of the first to be shot into space. Dr. Curt Taylor (John Agar) is in charge of the operation, and as they begin the countdown, his close friend and fellow scientist Keith Ritchie (Anthony Huston) arrives to beg him to stop the launch. Keith is certain that aliens are watching Earth and are concerned about mankind reaching for the stars. It seems that they don’t think we’re ready yet to leave our planet, and there might be dire circumstances if we put that satellite into Earth’s orbit. How he knows all this is anyone’s guess. Curt, despite being Keith’s friend, thinks that his friend is delusional (“How do we even know there’s any other life on other planets?”) and refuses to stop anything. Not only because he knows the powers that be would be furious if anything went wrong with the launch, but also because Dr. Taylor himself doesn’t believe anything that Keith is saying.

If this appears on your television screen – be very afraid!!

When next we see them, Keith and Curt are sitting at a dinner table with their wives at Keith’s house. There is a portrait of Keith’s wife, Martha, on the wall with no eyes! (Even the little details in a Larry Buchanan movie are strange). The two couples have been friends for a long time, and Keith admits that maybe he overreacted before when he tried to stop the launch. When Curt asks what changed his mind, Keith says that he has a secret he can’t hide anymore. He has to tell someone. And he brings Curt into his living room, where, behind a curtain, is a computer/radio device that looks like three air conditioners stacked one on top of another. Keith says this is how he communicates with someone on another world. He claims he has been “in communications for two months now, without the use of a satellite.” He plays some weird noises and Curt laughs at him. Keith says it is the voice of a being on Venus that has sent a transmission to Earth. Somehow, he is able to understand it via “hyperspace hypnotism.”

When Curt asks if this alien being has a name, Keith says “Although his name is untranslatable through any known Earth language, it would sound something like…Zontar.”

Meanwhile, the satellite that was launched months ago disappears. The scientists cannot locate it and are concerned that it has malfunctioned. Then, an hour later it reappears, and resumes its orbit. When the scientists try to bring it back to earth to examine what went wrong, the object takes control of itself and disappears again from the radar. This time, it has flown down to Earth on its own power. What is happening here?

Keith knows. He says that Zontar “diverted the satellite for a vehicle” so that it could get to Earth.

When Zontar lands on Earth, everything stops running, from all machines and power sources, to cars, trains..and even clocks. However, if you’re “in” with Zontar, as Keith is, your stuff works just fine. He’s the only one with a running car for awhile.

The first order of business for Zontar’s domination of Earth is the unleashing of the injectapods. These are ugly bat-like creatures (actually more like giant bugs) that Zontar grows on his body and then they separate on command. Their job is to bite someone, injecting them with some weird metal spike which takes control of their mind. The first thing a controlled human does is dispose of the body, since injectapods die after biting someone. The person they bite then becomes “a part of Zontar.”

We learn that Zontar (now holed up in a deep cave over a hot spring, which is supposed to “approximate the conditions on Venus”) can only grow eight injectapods at a time. The first batch are for the General, the Mayor, the Sheriff and Curt, and the men’s wives (it makes things go easier!). Keith and Zontar figure, with these people under their control, they can control the town.

Not sure where else to go, Curt and Anne go back to Keith’s house, where they resume their dinner party. When Keith goes on about how Zontar has come in peace to save us from ourselves, we get some good dialogue from the ladies:

Anne: Keith, you talk as if this “thing” is a personal friend of yours.

Martha: Oh yeah, they’re real chums.”

General Matt Young (Neil Fletcher) is the first to be bitten by an injectapod. He later shows up at the NASA installation, claiming that those damned communists have caused the power outage, and he declares Martial Law.

There are two soldiers who provide comic relief. They guard the installation, until the General tells them to round up some guys and go on a march into the woods (we have no idea why).  When one of the soldiers sees an injectapod flying around, he says, “I saw a funny-looking boid.”

Meanwhile, Sheriff Brad Crenshaw (Bill Thursman) is evacuating the town. When the newspaper editor refuses to leave, the Sheriff shoots him. (“We don’t need newspapers anymore, anyway!”) Curt witnesses this and gets in a scuffle with Crenshaw, who strangely lets him get away (no doubt because he knows an injectapod will be attacking him soon).

When Curt’s wife, Anne, is bitten and controlled, she lets an injectapod loose in their living room and leaves. Curt fights the thing off and kills it with a fireplace poker (a close-up shows up that the injectapods are just silly-looking puppets!). When she returns, he pretends to be controlled, then shoots her when she gets close. How horrible! Can’t he even try to remove the metal spike in the back of her neck and see if that works before he kills his own dear wife?

Showing no sign of grief about Anne, Curt then goes back to Keith’s place (again). With all of the cars not running, Curt sure does a lot of walking in this movie!

Curt: Okay, I believe you now. And I also believe you are an accessory to murder!

Keith: Is that the way you greet an old friend?

It turns out Zontar’s mission isn’t so peaceful after all. He’s actually part of an advanced race that can only live if they can control other creatures with their parasitic injectapods. All of the creatures they controlled on Venus have died out. In order to survive, they have to find new species to infect and control.

When I saw this movie as a kid, I remember John Agar was my favorite character, and it’s true that this is one of Agar’s more memorable roles. But watching it again now, my favorite character is easily Pat Delaney as Martha Ritchie, Keith’s wife. Throughout the movie, she continually mocks Keith and ridicules what he says about the great Zontar. For some reason, Zontar does not try to silence her (I guess because she’s a woman, and in the 60s women weren’t seen as much of a threat). She is also the only one with guts enough to face the monster from Venus. She steals Keith’s gun and takes one of their working cars to the caves to confront the creature who has manipulated her husband.

Martha (talking to Zontar on the radio unit): I hate your living guts…and I’m going to kill you.

When she gets there, Zontar looks like a guy wrapped in a black garbage bag, or covered in papier mache, with lots of fake eyeballs glued to him and giant, cloth wings.

Martha: So that’s what you look like, Zontar. You’re slimey. Horrible!”

Behold ZONTAR – the true face of horror!!

When Keith hears Zontar kill Martha over the radio, only then does he come to his senses and agree to help Curt get rid of the menace. Curt and Keith then head to the caves to save the Earth from the evil Zontar!

As you can see, this movie is incredibly silly and doesn’t make a helluva lot of sense. But that’s precisely why it has become such a cult favorite over the years. If you get a chance to see this one, check it out. It might just be Larry Buchanan’s crowning achievement as a bad filmmaker.

-END-

© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares

The DVD version of Zontar comes with another Larry Buchanan feature, THE EYE CREATURES!

Meals for Monsters: DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS (1977)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 2012, 70s Horror, Demons, Evil Furniture, Jenny Orosel Columns, Meals for Monsters with tags , , , , on July 25, 2012 by knifefighter

MEALS FOR MONSTERS: DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS (1977)
Review and Recipes by Jenny Orosel

Some ideas are so brilliant you wonder why no one ever thought of them before, like Tivo and deep fried bacon.  Other ideas are so completely bizarre that you can’t imagine how somebody ever thought of it.  DEATH BED: THE BED THAT EATS (1977) is in the latter category.

There is nothing subtle or ironic about the title of DEATH BED.  It’s about a possessed bed that eats people.  Over a century ago, this above said bed was created by a demon to seduce the woman he loved. It worked, but his being a demon was too much for her to handle, and she died during the deed.  Now this bed can and will dissolve anyone (or anything) laying on it.  And the story is narrated by the ghost of an artist trapped in the walls of the house.

As long as you can keep yourself from thinking too hard about the subject matter, DEATH BED is a pretty decent movie.  It was beautifully shot, the performances are workable, and the pacing doesn’t leave a boring moment.  But, just as you get sucked into the movie, you realize you’re watching a movie about a bed that eats people.  It’s hard to take it seriously if you are constantly aware of the absurdity of the premise.

And, for that reason, I don’t have a specific drink recipe for this column.  Instead, I recommend shots of Everclear.  Perhaps some Bacardi 151.  Hell, any high-proof alcohol will do the trick.  Drink until you are intoxicated enough that a people-eating bed makes perfect sense.

Instead, for the first round you have a salad.  In the film, one of the women is fed a bug-laden salad.  Don’t worry—the “bugs” for your salad will be much more delicious.

SPINACH SALAD WITH BACON ‘WORMS’ AND BALSAMIC VINEGRETTE

INGREDIENTS
1 bag baby spinach leaves
6 slices bacon
1 shot balsamic vinegar
2 shots olive oil
1 stem fresh rosemary
Pinch of salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS
Cut the bacon in half crosswise, then lengthwise so each piece is cut into four strips.  Cook until crispy, put on paper towels, and set aside.  Meanwhile, pull the leaves off the rosemary stem.  Chop them finely, then whisk together with vinegar and oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve the spinach with bacon on top, and drizzle with the amount of dressing you so desire.

One of the first sequences involves a young couple on a date, and the bed eats their picnic lunch.  The lunch consists of fried chicken, apples and a bottle of red wine.  To be honest, I’ve done a lot of fried foods in this column.  Instead, I’ve taken those ingredients and make a different main dish altogether.

CHICKEN WITH APPLES IN A RED WINE-RASPBERRY SAUCE

INGREDIENTS
Olive oil
2 small chicken breasts, pounded flat OR one large chicken breast, halved long-ways.
½ apple, Granny Smith preferably, sliced
¼ onion, sliced in strips
2 stems rosemary
Salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup red wine
1 pint raspberries, minus twelve (set aside for the dessert)

DIRECTIONS
Place 2-3 slices of apple, 2-3 onion slices, and a stem of rosemary in the center of the chicken breast.  Roll up, and secure with toothpicks.  Salt and pepper the outside.  Sear in a frying pan with olive oil until browned on all sides.  Add the garlic and cook about a minute.  Smash the raspberries until completely decimated.  Add them and the wine to the pan, and reduce to medium.  Cook for about a half hour, turning the chicken occasionally.  Serve over potatoes or hot cooked rice, topped with the pan sauce. NOTE—either remove the rosemary before serving, or instruct who you’re feeding to do so.  They are not very tasty eaten whole, but flavor the dish nicely.

Dessert had its own problems.  There weren’t any sweets eaten during the flick, so I had to think: if I were a demon trying to seduce someone, what would I use?  Chocolate, of course!  And raspberries.  Raspberries are sexy.   And it’s an easy thing to prepare, so you can get to another shot in no time.

BED DEMON’S BERRY DISCS

INGREDIENTS
½ bag chocolate chips (semi-sweet or bittersweet, depending on your preference)
12 raspberries

DIRECTIONS
Get twelve mini-muffin liners ready.  Put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and, in 30 second increments, heat the chips at full power, then stir.  It will take a few times to get the chocolate completely melted (2 minutes worth in my case).  Drop a spoonful in each of the paper liners.  While the chocolate is still liquid, press a berry into the center.  Set somewhere cool to harden.

DEATH BED was director George Barry’s first film.  It was also his only.  I completely understand it.  There is really no way to top the story of a bed that eats people.   If he went on to do a mundane, straightforward movie, then people would want to know why he abandoned his surrealistic sense of style.  And if he were to continue making evil inanimate object movies, it would become a kitschy gimmick instead of the fascinating oddity that is DEATH BED.  All I know is that I’m glad he made this one, because it certainly is fun to watch.  And, hopefully, something fun to eat during, too.

© Copyright 2012 by Jenny Orosel

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)

Posted in 2012, Action Movies, Based on Comic Book, Cinema Knife Fights, DC Comics, Revenge!, Superheroes with tags , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2012 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)
By Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares

(SCENE: INTERIOR OF THE BAT CAVE. MICHAEL ARRUDA enters and presses a button that opens a secret panel. Inside is a BATMAN costume, which he puts on. He is next seen standing in front of a mirror, looking at himself)

ARRUDA
(Looks very serious)

I’m Batman.

(L.L. SOARES suddenly appears behind him, also wearing a BATMAN costume.

SOARES

No, I’m Batman.

ARRUDA

Not this again! We can’t both be Batman!

SOARES

That’s right. So you’ll have to change.

ARRUDA

I was Batman first.

(ALFRED the Butler arrives and pushes the two of them apart)

ALFRED

Enough of this fighting! You two hooligans have a movie to review.

SOARES

He’s right, you know. Alfred’s always right.

ARRUDA

Then why don’t you start it off, then.

SOARES

Maybe I will!

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012) is the third movie in the Batman trilogy by director Christopher Nolan, which began with BATMAN BEGINS (2005) and THE DARK KNIGHT (2008). As this new movie begins, it is eight years after the events of the last one. The death of Harvey Dent, the crusading district attorney who was also the villainous Two-Face in the last movie, has been blamed on Batman. Bruce Wayne—who is Batman’s alter ego for anyone who just arrived from Mars…

(JOHN CARTER walks by.)

JOHN CARTER

Thanks for letting me know.

SOARES

So, as I was saying, Bruce Wayne not only retired his caped persona, he completely retired from the outside world, holing up in his room and becoming a mysterious, unseen figure who everyone thinks is a reclusive nut like Howard Hughes. Wayne now walks with a cane and has his meals delivered to his room by servants.

Enter Selina Kyle, a waitress for a party at Wayne’s mansion, who is really a nefarious cat burglar (although she is never called it in the movie, she’s obviously the Batman nemesis Catwoman!!). She sneaks up into Bruce Wayne’s room to deliver his dinner, and robs his safe in the process. He lets her get away because he has a tracking device on the pearl necklace she swiped.

ARRUDA

Actually, the movie begins with a bang with the villain Bane kidnapping a Russian scientist from an airplane in mid-flight. It’s a rapid-fire action scene, that was very Bond-like.

SOARES

True enough. I liked that scene a lot, by the way, and I wish the whole movie was as action-packed.

What makes Bruce Wayne return to the world, especially his beloved Gotham City, is the arrival of the murderous Bane, who takes up residence in the sewers of the city, with an army of mercenaries who will do anything for him, even die. As Wayne (and we) eventually learns, his past and Bane’s are actually linked. And in this bad guy, Batman might have finally met his match.

So Bane is the main baddie here, but Selina Kyle shows up a lot to provide more villainy, although hers is less obviously bad, since there’s a lot of sexual tension between her and Batman. In a lot of ways, Catwoman seems more like an anti-hero who makes her living stealing expensive stuff than a true villain. And while there are moments when she proves she might not be the best person to trust, there are other scenes that give her a chance to redeem herself.

By the time Bane has taken over Gotham City with his gang of thugs, cutting the city off from the outside world by blowing up all ways out, and getting that previously mentioned Russian scientist to activate a nuclear bomb (formerly a fusion device to create unlimited clean fuel, but now turned into a weapon)in order to hold the city ransom, the story has become a comic book-inspired epic with only Batman standing between the life and death of Gotham! Bane tells the citizenry that he is doing this for their own good—leading a revolution to give the city back to the people—a revolution that includes freeing all violent convicts from their prison for some reason…

Of course, Batman isn’t much help later on in the movie when his back is broken!

ARRUDA

Yes, his back is broken, but not his spirit.

SOARES

Well, once again, Christopher Nolan delivers a big, nicely shot film with lots of atmosphere. Let’s face it, Nolan movies look great.

ARRUDA

I agree.

SOARES

But I had some big problems with this one. While I thought it looked good, and I liked the story for the most part, I thought THE DARK KNIGHT RISES was way too long, and that the pacing was incredibly slow at times.

ARRUDA

I don’t know if I’d call it incredibly slow, but yes, there were some parts where things slowed down a bit.

SOARES

This is not the first time I’ve felt this way about a Nolan movie. Both of his previous Batman films were over two hours long as well, with BATMAN BEGINS clocking in at 140 minutes and THE DARK KNIGHT coming in at 152 minutes. But THE DARK KNIGHT RISES has them both beat, clocking in at 164 minutes—well over two and a half hours!—and there were lots of times when the movie felt that long to me, if not longer. Instead of being an action movie, more than half of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is an inaction movie. But this isn’t just the case with his Batman movies. I felt the same way about Nolan’s INCEPTION (2010), which was also big and complex and ambitious and flashy, but also painfully slow at times. This guy needs an editor who can actually say “no” sometimes. And if he finds one, he should lend the person out to Martin Scorsese, too, who has been just as indulgent the last couple of decades.

I just really don’t like the pacing here at all. And I think Nolan is only able to get away with this because he’s considered a director with “vision” —and the fact that these movies make a ton of money!

In comparison, a movie like Marvel’s THE AVENGERS is a lot less complex, but twice as much fun.

ARRUDA

Yes, THE AVENGERS is more fun, and I definitely liked THE AVENGERS more than THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, but it’s more fun because the whole Marvel superhero world is more fun than the darker DC Batman world.

 SOARES

But there’s a lot to like here as well. The performances by the lead characters are great. Christian Bale again plays Bruce Wayne/Batman, and he does a decent job here, even if I think Batman is a lot more interesting than Wayne.

ARRUDA

I would have to say that of his three performances as Batman, Bale impressed me the most here in this movie.  I bought that he had given up on the world, after the death of his girlfriend Rachel in THE DARK KNIGHT.  I liked his Bruce Wayne scenes here much more than in the other two movies, I think because he wasn’t going around as the silly billionaire playboy.  Bruce Wayne seems to be facing some problem in nearly every scene he’s in.

And I really felt his anger as Batman when he was trying to defeat Bane and failing.  Batman feeds off this anger as the movie goes on, and he uses it to drive himself to get back into shape, to heal his body and break out of prison and eventually get back to Gotham.

I really enjoyed Christian Bale’s performance in this movie, more so than in the previous two Batman movies.

SOARES

Anne Hathaway actually surprised me as Selina Kyle/ Catwoman. I have to admit, when I first heard she had been cast in the role, I thought it was a mistake, but she turns out to be one of the best things about THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. She’s pretty much perfect in her scenes, and I wished she was onscreen more!

(CATWOMAN pops up in a window)

CATWOMAN

That’s a simply puuurrrr-fect description of my role in this movie.

SOARES

Why thank you!

ARRUDA

I liked Hathaway a lot too.  She delivers a fine performance. However, I was more wowed by Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman in BATMAN RETURNS (1992).  Of the two, Pfeiffer delivered the more dominating performance.

(THE PENGUIN pops up from under the floor)

PENGUIN

But how come I’m not in this one? Quack quack quack.

CATWOMAN

You can’t be in all the movies.

PENGUIN

But I’ve never even heard of this Bane guy before. Quack quack.

SOARES

I always wondered, Mr. Penguin. Why do you always quack like a duck when you’re supposed to be a penguin?

PENGUIN

How dare you, you whippersnapper! I might just whack you with my old umbrella. Quack quack quack.

ARRUDA

I always wondered that too.

CATWOMAN

Me, too!

SOARES

I don’t think he knows a whole lot about birds.

ALFRED

The real Batman is on his way! He’s coming!

PENGUIN

Yikes! I better waddle out of here! Quack quack.

CATWOMAN

Me, too!

SOARES

I also really liked Tom Hardy as Bane. Not only is he a character who underwent the same physical training as Batman, and is not just brawn but brains as well, but his fight scenes with Batman are very intense and really seem dangerous. He’s a formidable bad guy who isn’t afraid to get his hands (or anything else) dirty, and Hardy makes him pretty menacing. With his thick, muscular body, and a freaky mask that looks like something out of the SAW films, Bane is visually intimidating as well.

ARRUDA

I liked Hardy a lot too, and his performance as Bane was one of my favorite parts of the movie. As you said, he’s a formidable foe—brutal, scary, and intense—and that first fight scene between Bane and Batman is one of the better scenes in the movie.  You really feel that Batman just wants to pound this guy, but since they’re so evenly matched, he can’t, and then, once Bane gets the upper hand, the shift in power make Bane all the more deadly and reduces Batman to a near-dead prisoner.

SOARES

I thought that fight scene, especially, was amazing. It’s so visceral. It has more in common with a great boxing movie than a superhero movie.

ARRUDA

I had heard that it was really difficult to understand what Bane was saying in the movie, but I didn’t find this to be the case.  Other than maybe for a brief line here and there, I understood him fine.

SOARES

Yeah, I understood him for the most part, too. But with that intricate mask of his, it is sometimes a little difficult to hear what he’s saying. Before I saw the movie, I’d heard a lot of people saying it was hard to hear him, too, but I noticed, if you listen carefully enough, it’s not that bad. Rumor has it that, for the final movie, Hardy redubbed some of his lines to make them more understandable, and yet sometimes you still have to listen closely to figure out what’s being said. For a big summer blockbuster, I don’t understand why his voice couldn’t have been even clearer. You shouldn’t have to struggle at all to hear a main character talk every time he’s onscreen.

ARRUDA

Like I said, I didn’t have a problem with this at all.

SOARES

I also thought Hardy should be applauded for keeping his mask on throughout the movie. If you notice, most actors want you to see their real face as much as possible. Think of Iron Man, who, even when he’s suited up, we get to see inside the helmet to see Robert Downey Jr.’s face a lot. It’s no doubt a matter of ego—actors, by nature, want to be seen—but in the comics, masks are a big party of the story, and movies that give us a lot of unnecessary unmaskings just to appease actors’ vanity (the Tobey Maguire SPIDER-MAN movies come instantly to mind) just annoy the hell out of me. If you’re going to play a masked character, go all the way with it, and Hardy does just that. But it doesn’t matter if you get to see his real face or not; he’s terrific in the role, and not seeing his face actually makes his character even darker. You forget that Tom Hardy is playing him and believe that this is Bane onscreen. The illusion isn’t broken.

As for the other characters in the movie, I always feel that the masked characters are the most interesting ones in a Batman movie, and I don’t care about the “normal” people as much. And the same is true here. No matter how much I think Gary Oldman is a great actor, his Commissioner Gordon mostly bores me to tears, as do most of the characters who aren’t the “big three.” Even Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a “cop with a secret,” while he might be the most compelling of the “civilian” characters, wasn’t exactly all that riveting a lot of the time. And Michael Caine is an acting legend, but his Alfred Pennyworth is one of his more mediocre roles at best.

ALFRED

How dare you!

ARRUDA

The role might be mediocre, but Caine certainly isn’t!  He’s excellent here as Alfred.  The same can be said for Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon.  Neither one of these guys is boring.

SOARES

Says you!

ARRUDA

And while Joseph Gordon-Levitt is very good here, I felt the movie spent too much time on him.  I would have rather seen more Catwoman scenes.

SOARES

Me, too. More Catwoman!!

But I’ve felt this way about all of the Nolan Batman movies, and thought this was the most glaring in the middle film, THE DARK KNIGHT, which might also have been the best film of the trilogy, where compared to Batman, Two-Face and especially Heath Ledger’s amazing turn as the Joker, the normal people were a total snooze.

ARRUDA

I completely disagree!  There’s not a boring nanosecond in THE DARK KNIGHT, what are you talking about?

SOARES

Maybe if you weren’t such a fawning fanboy, you’d know what I’m talking about. The whole Asian gangster storyline in THE DARK KNIGHT especially, is tedious as hell. The slowness of the rest of the movie is what makes the Joker scenes even better, because Heath Ledger is the only one in the movie with a real pulse!

ARRUDA

That’s crap.  The Asian gangster storyline in THE DARK KNIGHT isn’t dull at all.  Have you forgotten the scene where Batman abducts the head Asian gangster from his heavily guarded skyscraper in a daring airplane escape, not to mention the scene where the Joker humiliates the Asian villains in front of the other gangsters?

But we should move on from THE DARK KNIGHT and get back to today’s movie, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

SOARES

What this means is when costumed characters on not onscreen, the movie lags. And when a movie has as many pacing problems as THE DARK KNIGHT RISES does to begin with, this can be a little painful.

(A strange little creature appears out of thin air, dressed in a little Batman outfit)

SOARES

Who the hell are you?

BAT MITE

I’m Bat Mite! Don’t you recognize me from the old Batman cartoons of the 1970s? They added me so that little kids would watch the show. How come I’m not in this movie?

ARRUDA

Maybe because you’re awful.

SOARES

Yeah, for some reason I think you’d be out of place in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. You’re kind of a silly character.

BAT MITE

Silly? How dare you! I’ll have you know that I was even more popular than Scrappy Doo!

ALFRED

The real Batman’s coming! He’s almost here!

BAT MITE

Yikes, I better get out of here before he yells at me!

(BAT MITE disappears in a puff of smoke)

SOARES

I never understood what kind of creature Bat Mite was supposed to be. Do you know?

ARRUDA

Enough about that. Finish the review before the real Batman catches us here!

SOARES

Okay.

The screenplay by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan (based on a story by Christopher Nolan and comic book-screenwriter extraordinaire David S. Goyer)is uneven, but has a lot of potential. With a decent editor, tighter pacing, and the removal of unnecessary scenes that do not further the plot, this script, and the movie, could have been terrific. But it’s weakened a lot by its inability to keep things brisk and exciting throughout.

There are also lots of holes in logic if you look at it closely, one of which is how Bane and his gang were able to occupy Gotham for three whole months without the government or anyone else being able to stop them. And where are the other superheroes in the DC Universe? I guess they don’t exist in Nolan’s movies, but Superman could have been a big help here.

And, when Bruce Wayne finds himself in a weird prison called The Pit in another country, how does he get back to Gotham City when he finally finds his way out? It looks like he’s in the Middle East somewhere. And it’s not like they left him with his wallet and American Express traveler’s checks.

And did I mention the movie lags at times?

I thought there was a lot to like about THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, but also plenty that inhibited it from being the masterpiece Nolan set out to make. It’s more a movie with lots of potential than one that totally delivers the goods. For that reason, I give it three knives out of five,  mostly because of the film’s epic scope and the fine acting of the leads.

What did you think of it, Michael?

ARRUDA

I liked it, but I can’t say that I loved it.

I can’t ignore the inevitable comparison to THE DARK KNIGHT, a movie that fired on all cylinders and was nearly perfect in its execution.  It’s nearly impossible to repeat perfection, and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is no exception.  I agree with what you said about it being uneven.

First and foremost, the story isn’t as strong as the story in THE DARK KNIGHT.  I understood completely where the Joker was coming from in THE DARK KNIGHT and what he was doing.  He was all about one thing:  chaos.  It was simple, but it worked.

SOARES

Not entirely. The Joker’s storyline worked. Even the Two-Face stuff was pretty good. But the rest of it wasn’t all that compelling. I actually think, in some ways, the story in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES was a little better.

ARRUDA

I thought THE DARK KNIGHT story was tighter and much more compelling from start to finish.

Back to THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, I didn’t find Bane’s motives quite as easy to understand, and as much as I liked Bane as a villain, Tom Hardy doesn’t quite match the brilliance of what Heath Ledger did with his Joker.

SOARES

The characters are as different as apples and oranges. Bane was powerful and visceral and mostly spoke with his fists. The Joker was compelling because he was completely insane and unpredictable. Of course the more flamboyant role is going to be more entertaining.

ARRUDA

I don’t care if they’re not the same type of character.  They’re both villains, and as such, Ledger’s performance as the Joker was off the charts.  Hardy’s performance as Bane wasn’t.

The action scenes all looked good, but none of them really blew me away.  I did like that first fight scene between Batman and Bane, but the second time they meet, the fight should have been better, but it’s not.  That was disappointing.

I mentioned earlier how the opening scene was very James Bond-like, but at times, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES reminded me of another movie series:  ROCKY.  Like Rocky Balboa, Batman loses his “bout” to a stronger foe midway through the film, and then he has to train his older, broken body to fight against a stronger foe.  I could almost hear Bill Conti’s ROCKY theme playing when Batman was building himself back up in that prison.

Like you, I wasn’t wowed by the screenplay, thought there were too many characters, and would have preferred a tighter story about Batman, Catwoman, and Bane, because I really liked these three characters.

And again, I think this was Bale’s best performance as Batman.

I place THE DARK KNIGHT RISES in the middle of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, behind THE DARK KNIGHT but better than the first one, BATMAN BEGINS.

I give THE DARK KNIGHT RISES three knives.

 SOARES

That’s all? I was sure you were going to like this movie more than I did!

ARRUDA

In my book, three knives is a very good rating.  I view two and a half knives as average, and I certainly found THE DARK KNIGHT RISES to be above average.

SOARES

Barely…

(The REAL BATMAN enters the room and is shocked to find two imposters wearing his costume)

REAL BATMAN

Alfred, what’s going on here? Who are these two idiots?

ALFRED

I have no idea, sir. I told them they couldn’t stay here, but they won’t leave.

ARRUDA

Uh oh, I guess we’ll have to wrap this one up.

SOARES

Yeah, thanks a lot for finking on us, Alfred! (to Arruda) We better get out of here before he tries to break our backs.

REAL BATMAN

(Shaking his fist)

I’ll get you two yet!

-END-

© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares

Michael Arruda gives THE DARK KNIGHT RISES~three knives.

LL Soares also gives THE DARK KNIGHT RISES ~three knives.

Something to Hold You Over Til the Reviews Come Back…

Posted in 2012, Staff Writers with tags , , , , on July 23, 2012 by knifefighter

One of the rare times that a bunch of Cinema Knife Fight staff members had a chance to get together and hang out.

(From left to right): Michael Arruda (holding black cup), William Carl (“Bill’s Bizarre Bijou”), Nick Cato (“Suburban Grindhouse Memories”), Sheri Sebastian-Gabriel (“Lady Anachronism’s Fallout Shelter”), L.L. Soares (wearing baseball cap), Peter Dudar (“Me and Lil’ Stevie”) and John Harvey.

With a few people crashing in the background.