Movie Review: FRIDAY THE 13th Pt. 5

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friday the 13th part 5

“Aw, what’s the matter, Vinnie? You scared of the dark? You all creeped out by that murder at the nuthouse?”

  • Five years after killing the goalie hockey-masked killer Jason Voorhees, Tommy Jarvis has grown up in various mental hospitals unable to get over the nightmares about Jason’s return. When Tommy is sent to a rural halfway house in New Jersey for mentally disturbed teenagers, a series of grisly murders begin anew as another hockey-masked killer begins killing off all people at and around the residence. Has Jason returned from the dead to re-start his killing spree? Has Tommy decided to take over the reign of Jason, or has someone else?

Okay, so since the last Friday The 13th movie promised to be “the final chapter”, taking out Jason by way of Corey Feldman and making it all final and stuff…what compelled the suits at Paramount to make another sequel? If I were to wager a guess, I’d say “money” and “cocaine”. This was the mid-80s, after all. But, Jason’s dead. How do we make a Friday The 13th movie without Jason? Simple: make the grown-up character from the previous movie (not played by Corey Feldman, for reasons) think he’s going insane, and [SPOILERS for a 35-year-old movie] take up the hockey mask and machete at the end. Brilliant.

As a movie itself, Friday The 13th: A New Beginning is…watchable. Yes, it’s a low-budget slasher that’s mostly about the cheese and the kills. And my favorite scene involved an 80s Goth/Emo kid mope-dancing to post-punk music. Certainly it was a lot better than the bunch of other no-budget slasher knock-offs that were coming out in this era. Or since, really. It’s the same as a standard Friday The 13th…only, the obvious problem that this movie runs into is, Jason’s dead. He was pronounced living impaired in the last movie. And remember, this was before Jason was given undead status (that would be the next installment).

To have Jason be more of a concept that could be passed on like the Batman mantle…no. Just because you’re donning the hockey mask, doesn’t make you the slasher icon we know and love. To make Tommy suddenly become the killer because psychological reasons just…no, it doesn’t work. And I’m glad they retconned this completely by the next movie (oh, SPOILERS again…but really, by now you should know all this). Otherwise, this one is a good movie in and of itself, but probably won’t be revisited again any time soon.

Movie Review: PRAY 2 The Woods

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pray 2
Cross Shadow Production

  • Still riding high from her #1 Best-selling Book Tour, Laurie Curtis finishes what she thinks is just another Talk Show appearance. As the sun goes down and the shadows deepen, she heads home to enjoy what was supposed to be a quiet, relaxing evening alone…but her night is anything but peaceful! Meanwhile, across town, a Church Youth Group heads into the woods for its annual Fall camping trip…but they are not alone. He’s back! Exactly one year later, the mysterious masked villain is on the loose and striking fear into the hearts of his targets once again! Will the faith and heroism of the intended victims triumph over evil and darkness? Continuing the clean, heart-pounding suspense of “Pray” follow the characters from the original movie, as well as many new ones, as the thrill-ride continues…into the Woods!

Back in the fall of 2018, I watched and reviewed what was hyped as the first Evangelical Christian slasher horror movie: Pray. I was only aware of it because of a review done by YouTube sensation Say Goodnight Kevin. I knew what I was getting into. I have no one else to blame but myself. Still, I was unprepared at how bad this movie was. Then, I noticed that there were two (!) sequels to this made, available on Amazon Prime streaming as well. So, being the masochistic movie watcher that I am, I added them to my que. I figured, even if this was the film-makers’ first attempt at a movie (it was), they should have at least learned from the mistakes and made at least a marginally better sequel, right? Right?


Okay, look: I of course got the Movie Rundown part up top directly from the Cross Shadow Productions web page, so of course they’re going to be hyping their own movie. But, co’mon. “Clean, heart-pounding suspense”? Were they snickering as they wrote that? And believe me, the blatant lies that the movie description blurb spews forth is the least of this movie’s transgressions. Because somehow, some way, they have made something that simultaneously expands on the story in the first Pray., but made it an even more convoluted mess than before.

Where do I even begin with this? Well, the story seems to be a bunch of different bits smooshed together without care for context or editing or whatnot. It starts off with what is presumably a flashback to the convenience store lady who was abducted at the beginning of the first movie (in case you were wondering where she ended up at), tied up in duct tape and kept in the shoddiest outdoor shed in existence. It looks like one stiff breeze and it’ll come crashing down. She escapes that one easily enough, and the bad guy gives chase in the poorly lit woods. Oh, hey, that’s the subtitle of this flick. They got something right. So, she’s rescued by a passing truck, and we then get a title sequence that clearly used various pictures and .gifs from a Peninterest Halloween sub-thread. Booga booga booga. This is a “horror” movie, after all. Then, a year later (not that the movie tells us this, we had to learn this from the movie blurb description again) a bunch of 20-something youth group teens are packing up to go on a camping trip, with all the lame shenanigans that come along with that. Then, we find ourselves at a taping of a daytime talk show where the lady who escaped in the opening credits is now a famous author, having written about surviving her abduction and peddling DVDs of the first movie, for some reason. Then she goes back home, and has to take her dog to the vet because he seems to be choking on something lodged in his throat. Meanwhile, back at the Camping Retreat, the kids are montage-ing setting up their tents, chasing each other with fake snakes and silly string, and havin’ themselves a good ol’ fashioned wholesome Bible study with the hip, happenin’ director Pastor Dave. Dave ain’t here, man. Anyway, back in the other storyline, the lady gets a frantic call from the vet explaining her doggie was the victim of one of the oldest urban legends in the book, and CALL THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY! Then, back at the camp, the kids and the director Pastor are sitting around the campfire with the Day-For-Night filter going, toasting marshmallows (though you never see anyone eat one of ’em), and the Pastor decides to tell everyone the Oldest Sermon Illustration in the book, and claim it actually happened to him. Yadda yadda yadda, buncha police trying to find the guy, bad guy is riding an ATV into the woods, the kids mistake it for a motorcycle because they’re stupid, then they chase down the guy after he falls off of the ATV–presumably for blood loss–and then the police show up, and he’s taken in and gets a phone call from (GASP!) HIS TWIN BROTHER WHO IS THE REAL STALKER GUY! I mean, you can’t really call him the killer, be cause NOBODY HAD DIED YET. There’s also no bloodshed whatsoever. Cue the end credits and blooper reel.

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. Pray 2: The Woods sucked so hard that the gravitational pull caused us to hit the singularity where time slowed to a perceivable halt and space is infinitely curved. We saw only blackness and darkness. We were inside of the black hole that was this movie. I want to have a human avatar of this movie, so that I may choke it and watch the life ebb away slowly from its eyes, as it sees the void beyond my face, as I scream “LOOK! LOOK UPON THIS FACE AND DESPAIR! FOWL, WRETCHED MOVIE!!!” Then I shall feed its body to swine, then kill the swine and burn it, then shoot its ashes into the howling silent void of space, where it can never inflict such (ironically) unholy pain on anyone ever again.

I did not like this movie. You would think that, as an advocate for Christians to get involved with the horror genre, I would be all about promoting this. No, you see, I’m an advocate for Christians to make good horror movies. Pray 2: The Woods is a badly written, badly acted, badly shot, badly edited, badly produced piece of evangelical crap that wouldn’t scare a 5-year-old. Actually, scratch that, I did see an actual 5-year-old freak out over one of the camping scenes while sharing the pain watching it with a couple of friends. You take your victories where you can get ’em.

In short, unless you’re as incredibly masochistic as I am when it comes to these kind of movies, pass by this one if you know what’s good for you.

Movie Review: The MUPPETS

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“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were reciting some sort of important plot point.”
“I hope so. Otherwise, I would’ve bored half the audience half to death.”
“You mean half the audience is still alive?”

  • While on vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world’s biggest Muppet fan, his brother Gary, and friend Mary uncover the diabolical plot of a greedy oil millionaire to destroy the Muppet Theater. Now, the Muppet-loving trio must reunite Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and their friends to stage the greatest Muppet telethon ever and save their beloved theater.

I remember the Great Muppet Dry Spell of the Aughts. The last theatrically-released Muppet movie was 1999’s Muppets From Space, and that one was…not good. It was better than the direct-to-video and television specials that were being released at the time; however, I remember watching that in one of Omaha’s Second-Run theaters at the time, when the price was still hovering around $1.50 a ticket, and thinking I may have been overcharged for the movie. Between the years of 2000 to 2010, we got a couple of televised Christmas specials, a broadcast of the Muppets’ take on The Wizard of Oz, and a direct-to-video prequel movie of sorts, as well as a web series featuring Statler and Waldorf, so it’s not like we were completely bereft of Muppet goodness. It’s just that, there hadn’t been an original theatrical movie since The Muppets Take Manhattan in 1984, let alone a good, fun movie since 1996’s Muppet Treasure Island.

Then, in 2008, it was announced by Disney that they were set to produce the first original Muppet movie in decades, and it was going to be helmed by a couple of uber-Muppet fanboys to boot. Things were looking up. Then word came out that it was going to be an old-school Muppet story, involving the entire gang of favorites, as well as some new characters, with a story that involved the gang being brought back together to help resurrect the Muppet Theater. I couldn’t wait. Then the film was finally released in 2011, and I went to see it with Boz-Man.

Sure, I may be just not getting around to pounding out a review of the movie. Don’t let that colour your impression of what the movie may be like. I’m just weird about getting reviews on stuff out, because I’m not paid to do ’em. However, as a Muppet movie, I have to give my own overly-enthusiastic two thumbs up on The Muppets.

Yes, The Muppets is very much a classic Muppet movie. Yes, I did laugh out loud at various, many points, sometimes with tears streaming down my face. Yes, this captures what made The Muppet Show essentially lightning in a bottle, and yet manages to do its own thing rather than rely on just nostalgia. And with maybe the exception of the “Me Party” segment, most of the musical numbers manages to hit the right places.

Overall: I never had the chance to watch the first two Muppet movies in the theater back in the day (or if I did, I was too young to remember doing so); watching The Muppets in the theater with other Muppet fans was one of the most memorable theater experiences I’ve had. This is something I still rewatch frequently. Highly recommended.

Book Review: AMISH WEREWOLVES OF SPACE (Peril in Plain Space #3)

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amish werewolves of space
Kerry Nietz
Freeheads Publishing

“Can’t drive a hover, or fly a ship,” Greels said aloud. “But the Amish sure can bake.” He noticed a package of noodles was in danger of falling and paused to adjust it. “Bread and noodles. Noodles and bread.”

  • Some say death comes in threes. For the Amish community of Alabaster, it seems to. They’ve maintained an uneasy alliance with the vamperkinder, the altered humans that rescued them from the zombies seven years ago. But after several vicious attacks–nighttime slaughters that could only have bee perpetrated by the kinder–the union of the two peoples is shattered. Meanwhile, a resurgent zombie horde and mysterious nightly howls signal doom, not only for the Amish, but for the entire galaxy. As more and more planets fall, the Raven survivors hunt for a solution. Can they restore the peace? Escape the horde? Save the galaxy? Or is it already too late?

Oh, hey, look! My prayers have been answered! There’s been another Peril in Plain Space series book published this past year (2019), and on Halloween, appropriately enough. And in keeping with the classic monster terrorized space Amish motif, this time around it involves werewolves. Eh, not exactly my favorite classic monster, but really the logical way to go with a series like this. I can’t wait to see if the the good people of Miller’s Resolve will have to tangle with the likes of the mummy, a Frankenstein’s monster, or even some Lovecraftian elder god aliens. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a look at this third tome in this delightfully entertaining series, shall we?

It’s been several years–seven, if you read the above blurb–since Miller’s Resolve was invaded by the nanobites that turned every living thing it touched into undead zombies. The genetically-altered “Vampire Children” have been blending in with the Alabaster Amish community, a couple of the children having been adopted by one family as well. Everyone’s favorite ex-Amish couple, Jeb and Sarah, have opened up a shop in the nearby town, and even Greers seems to have settled in, having opened up a a general goods store himself. Everything seems just peachy…until some of the livestock gets slaughtered at night by what seems to be a vicious beast, and the Amish community begin pointing the fingers at the vamp kids. Meanwhile, on a busy metropolitan planet, another one of those bone-shaped spacecrafts seen in the previous novel crash-lands and send out its nanotech infestation, turning every living thing into the living dead again. And this is happening on many other planets as well. So now, it’s a race against time to get to the source of the nanotech attacks and stop the genetic mutations once and for all…before the population in Alabaster rise up against the Vamperkinder and the discovery of a werewolf in an adjoining community brings in the gov’ment taking over…

Just like the others in the so-called Peril In Plain Space series, Amish Werewolf of Space is a well-written, well planned out and just overall fun sci-fi action adventure that just happens to have the Amish in there. All of the key players get some further character development, some ending up not the same as they were when this story began, for the good. It’s satisfying how far everyone has come since beginning this fun series, and if there’s only going to be these three titles and no more, I’m satisfied with how this ties everything up. Well done, again. Highly recommended, especially if you’ve read the other two books.

Movie Review: TRANSFORMERS The Last Knight

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Transformers The Last Knight

Paramount Pictures

“One hundred billion trillion planets in the cosmos. You want to know, don’t you, why they keep coming here?”

  • The Last Knight shatters the core myths of the Transformers franchise, and redefines what it means to be a hero. Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past. In the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. Saving our world falls upon the shoulders of an unlikely alliance: Cade Yeager, Bumblebee, an English Lord, and an Oxford professor. There comes a moment in everyone’s life when we are called upon to make a difference. In Transformers: The Last Knight, the hunted will become heroes, heroes will become villains. Only one world will survive: theirs, or ours.

Oh, Sir Anthony Hopkins. Why? Why did you feel the need to be in this movie? Certainly, it wasn’t to lend a bit of legitimacy to an otherwise floundering and bloated franchise? Because Kelsey Grammer has already done that in the previous movie. *sigh* I digress. Let’s get to this, shall we?

So, after the great and disappointing spectacle that was Age Of Extinction, Michael Bay said he was done with doing any more Transformers movies. Presumably because he was off to ruin other 80s properties like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And that seemed to be that. No more Transformer movies to threaten our sanity and make us sad. But then, after Paramount decided to go ahead and do another Transformers sequel, it wasn’t long before Bay went back on his promise and jumped on directing the fifth installment. This time around, it looked like the movie was taking a look at the transforming alien robots’ influence throughout Earth’s history. Or something. I was too busy shaking my head in sad disbelief when I first saw the theatrical trailer. Also, Anthony Hopkins was in this, for some reason.

The film begins in Ye Olden Days–484 AD, to be exact–where King Arthur and his knights are upping the irons against the Saxons*, and seem to be losing until Merlin convinces some local Transformers called the Knights of Iacon to help them win the war. So they give Merlin a cool mechanical staff, group-transform into a dragon, and help out, but not before giving Merlin the standard Ominous Maguffin Prophecy about the staff. Fast forward to the year Present Day, and Optimus Prime has arrived on Cybertron, where he meets his alleged creator named Quintessa, who blames Optimus for the destruction of Cybertron and then brainwashes him to be EVIL! So they’re gonna go back to Earth and get the McGuffin Staff to drain the Earth of it’s energy and make Cybertron great again! Meanwhile, back on Earth, Transformers are still persona non grata (except in Cuba, for some reason), and Marky Mark Cade Yeager is helping the refugee Transformers to evade the Gov’ment. They come across a scrappy young scavenger named Izabella (because Cade’s daughter isn’t in this one, and they needed a replacement) and her two Transformer companions in the war-torn Chicago, then a dying Autobot knight gives Cade a mecha-talisman McGuffin, and next thing you know he and his Funky Bunch are being pursued by the Gov’ment who has enlisted the help of Megatron and some Decepticons ready for toy manufacturing. In the meantime, giant horns have begun poking out of the earth at certain places, because it turns out that the Earth is actually (dum-dum-duuuuuuum) the ancient enemy of Cybertron, Unicron! Because…reasons. A little part of my childhood just died, there. Anyway, Cade and an Oxford professor are brought together to the castle of Sir Edmund Burton (played by Anthony Hopkins himself), who exposition dumps the entire history of the Transformers helping out the humans throughout the centuries, their existence hidden by a secret society called the Order of Witwiccans (*groooooaaaan*), of which he is the last living member (of course), and that the talisman will help lead to finding the McGuffin Staff, but only the descendant of Merlin himself can weild it, which is fortunate then that the Oxford professor just happens to be that descendant. So then, they go off to find the staff, Evil Optimus arrives with Cybertron in tow, the Knights of Iacon awaken again to join the fight, all looks lost, Cade turns out to be the descendant of King Arthur or something (because of course he would be), Evil Optimus is turned good again through the power of love and friendship, the good guys win but not without massive losses, and a mid-credit scene threatens another Transformers movie. The End.

If it seems like I yammered on for forever, it’s because Transformers: The Last Knight yammered on forever. And just like the other four movies in this franchise, someone wrote the script, and someone approved of the script. It’s all fine and good, except that the leaps of logic and plot contrivances were such that my brain almost shut down at least three times. And yet, these movies still make oodles of money. So there’s gonna be a sequel. And no, Bumblebee doesn’t count because it was more of a spin-off movie, and also IT WAS A GOOD MOVIE. The Last Knight is merely another hot mess. Pass.

[*=this has been a Metalhead Joke(TM)…for further clarification, please reference your nearest Metalhead at your earliest convenience ~ Uncle NecRo]

Movie Review: GODZILLA King Of The Monsters

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godzilla king of the monsters
Warner Bros. / Toho

“They’re everywhere. Battling for dominance. Arrival alpha to Godzilla.”

  • Members of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species–thought to be mere myths–rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.

Five years, and we finally got a sequel to the 2014 second attempt for America to make a good Godzilla movie. Mind you, this seems to be a part of a larger “Monster Universe” that included King Kong: Skull Island back in 2017. And now, after watching Godzilla: King Of The Monsters, I once again find myself hungry for more giant monster goodness.

Of course, like with any Godzilla movie, this one really works best when the monsters are throwing down, rampaging and causing the destruction we all paid to see. And here, we get plenty–Godzilla, along with Toho classics Mothra, King Gedorah and Rodan, along with brief cameo appearances by other giant beasties that I certainly hope to see go up against Godzilla in future installments. And King Kong is definitely one of the cameos here, and is slated to go up against Godzilla in the next movie in the Monster Universe. But, I digress, before I completely geek out all over everyone.

For the most part, Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (not to be confused with the re-edited American title of the very first Godzilla from 1956) makes for a fun, mindless summer popcorn flick with plenty of ‘splosions and big monster fights and destruction. For the most part. See, like the other Godzilla movies (it’s not just the 1998 and 2014 American versions, either), all the fun stuff we came to see is interrupted periodically to focus on these boring human drama bits that, sure, I can understand why you would want to put something like that in these movies. They’re stand-ins for the, what do you call ’em, the people watching the movie…surrogate something-somethings. Of course, the underlining theme in this is that it’s the humans who are the real monsters, and it’s an eco-terrorist organization wanting to use the titans (as they refer to the giant beasties) to cleanse the world of humanity and begin anew as it always was meant to be. You know, that old gem of an intelligence insult.

Anyway, if you can get past the human focused part of the story, Gozilla: King Of The Monsters is some fantastic giant monster-whompin’ fun. Recommended for a rental.

Movie Review: STARGATE Continuum

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stargate continuum
MGM Home Entertainment

“Have you ever tried to find the bathroom in a pyramid?”

  • While SG-1 attends the execution of Ba’al, the last of the Goa’uld System Lords, Teal’c and Vala inexplicably disappear into thin air. Carter, Daniel, and Mitchell race back to a world where history has been changed: the Stargate program has been erased from the timeline. The remaining SG:1 members must find the Stargate and set things right before the world is enslaved by the Go’auld.

The second of the direct-to-video sequel movies to the Sci-Fi favorite Stargate: SG1, this one involves time travel, that favorite go-to plot device employed in rather good science fiction. Of the two, I believe I like Continuum over Ark Of Truth…but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, here.

The story of Continuum brings back the SG-1 crew from the last season of the show, as well as fan-favorite Richard Dean Anderson and my personal favorite from the earlier seasons, the late Don S. Davis, in a story that involves that pesky Goa’uld system lord Ba’al managing to go back in time and killing the crew of the Achillies, the ship that carried the Stargate to America back in 1939. This means now the Stargate program never happened, Teal’c and Vala never existed in this timeline, and somehow Samantha Carter, Daniel Jackson and Cameron Mitchell retained their memories into this tangent universe. They somehow convince General Landry that they’re not raving lunatics (probably due to the fact that this reality’s Carter died previously in a space shuttle accident, and Mitchell doesn’t exist at all due to it being his grandfather being one of the the people who perished on the Achilles), but are denied permission to change the timeline, and ordered to lead separate lives with no contact between any of them. Then about a year later, Ba’al’s posse shows up at Earth, along with Vala–the Qetesh symbiote still residing insider her–and his First Prime Teal’c to totes take over the Earth, much to the chagrin of the other System Lords. So now SG:1 is reassembled to get the Antartic Stargate working, but things happen that prevent them to do that, so now they have to team up with the Russians, who had retrieved the Achilles’ Stargate, who agree to become friends with benefits, but then Qetesh-Vala and Teal’c show up, things go boom, and it looks kind of bleak with everyone dying, but then Mitchell manages to time-machine back in time and set everything right again. Hooray. And The End.

Oh, I loves me a good convoluted time machine story. A nice slice of “What If?” to dig into, here. Mainly, what if the Stargate was somehow lost, and the Stargate program never happened, and then the System Lords finally show up. What kind of wackiness would ensue? Also, what kind of paradoxes can we nit-pick?

As I mentioned earlier, Stargate: Continuum is my favorite of the two direct-to-video movies produced by MGM in leu of giving us more episodes of the show. Pity they didn’t produce more featuring the SG:1 cast. Regardless, Continuum works as a rather satisfying send-off to the cast and crew that kept us entertained all these years. Very much recommended to check out. Now, if only we can get some closure with both Atlantis and Universe…

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