Soul of the Dragon

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Uncle Dracula once owned a dragon?

Vampire Bat: Vampires don’t own dragons. The sorcerers do.

Vampire Owl: Well, with the rise of the witches, there are not many left.

Vampire Bat: At least, the necromancers live well with the zombies.

Vampire Owl: You should know that the dragons lived in the dungeons of this castle.

Vampire Bat: You are talking about a legend spread by the villagers.

Vampire Owl: Dr Frankenstein has assured me that it is true.

Vampire Bat: Well, he is one scientist who knows nothing.

Vampire Owl: You don’t know the doctor enough.

Vampire Bat: Well, I know Mr Frankenstein well enough.

[Gets a paneer biriyani and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman (David Giuntoli) has a visit from Richard Dragon (Mark Dacascos), an old from a very long time ago, and Bruce is very glad to see him again, but they are attacked by some strangers with axes in their hands. It is then revealed that before he became the vigilante crime fighter known to the world as Batman, he had traveled to Nanda Parbat, a secret monastery in the Hindu Kush area of the Himalayas where he received training in martial arts. There, he was trained by the master of the arts, O-Sensei (James Hong), along with other students, and Richard was one of them. The others included Lady Shiva (Kelly Hu), Ben Turner (Michael Jai White), Jade Nguyen (Jamie Chung) and Rip Jagger (Chris Cox), who are supposed to among his best students – those who are already well-trained in the art. Bruce decides to train among them despite the doubts being present there. He had also learned to control his emotions and redirect them efficiently, along with using the darkness to his advantage.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: O-Sensei bestows upon Shiva, the responsibility of guarding a Muramasa sword called Soul Breaker, after Rip who also claims the same is defeated by her with ease. But Rip has other plans with the sword. He takes the sword, murders Jade who seems to blindly trust him with everything, and ends up opening a portal with the weapon. The area has a magical gate which is guarded by the master, and it would open this portal to world of the serpent god who is mentioned more as a demon, Naga. They had closed the gate once after a long fight against the giant serpents, but not without the sacrifices which had to be made including that of the master himself. Richard had discovered that the millionaire Jeffrey Burr (Josh Keaton) who leads a cult based on snakes named Kobra had taken control of the gate, and hopes to stop him and his allies at any cost. The strangers who attacked them were also mercenaries sent by him, and were expected to stop any progress.

And what more is to be offered here with the bat and his people on the hunt? :: They look for allies, and also hope to find and protect the sword before it is used to open the gate to the other world. For the same, they travel all the way to the Chinatown in Gotham where Shiva who is still in possession of the sword, and is controlling the world of crime out there. Batman is aligned to the opposite side of the law, but she is only happy to see a good friend again. But they are attacked by a bigger group of trained cultists, and the sword is also taken. The cult now owns a highly fortified island where they hope to open the gate using the sword and along with the same, sacrifice a number of kidnapped children. Now, they have to think differently to stop the worst from happening. They do find Ben and manage to make him a part of the team. But will they be enough to stop the evil from spreading? Are they fast enough to make the difference around here? Can Bruce Wayne contribute to all of these better as the Batman with all the equipment?

The defence of Batman: Soul of the Dragon :: There is something divergent about this particular animated movie that we see as following a different path. We do have the feeling of watching something nostalgic around here, reminding us of the animated series which came in the television, and this one surely has a lot of action along with some nice background music to go with it. You know that there is something about those times which we would wish to remember. The memories of the old kung-fu and karate movies also seem to come back to us to make an impact. It seems that there is also the chance to bring a sequel which can prove to be better than the original – a lot of action seems to be waiting to be unleashed, as we look at the final moments. With a short run-time that goes even below one and half hours, there is no drag in this particular movie as it keeps on going quick and smooth throughout its run. The antagonist of this movie serves really well as the one force of another world which seems to be near impossible to stop.

The claws of flaw :: There is not that much of a strength as in a Batman movie, whether as a detective or a superhero thing; for this one chooses a different path in comparison. It is certainly not the kind of DC movie which is expected too. The title is rather misleading as this is not really about Batman, as not just battle is shared – we just have the superhero in this movie which belongs more to the other characters. Well, Batman seems to be more like the guest who has decided to stay and own parts of the flick. The myth on the demon could have also been used in a better way. This also changes the Batman a little too much than what we know from the other movies, and that feels strange as so many things about our dark superhero seems to go some other way. When you have Batman in what feels more like a martial arts movie, this is expected, but the question still remains if it is what the fans of Gotham’s favourite vigilante would want. Well, you have supernatural forces, and Batman is also forced to go Mortal Kombat against them instead of being himself.

How it finishes :: Batman: Soul of the Dragon reminds one of the many interesting animated movies which DC has come up with in the last few years. Justice Society: World War II, Batman: The Long Halloween Part One and Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two are a few of them which made the impact earlier, and there are a lot of more of them which seems to be ready to contribute further to the world of the live-action, supplementing Aquaman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman and everyone around. While Marvel doesn’t seem to have these, DC surely has managed to keep one in the animated world too. Well, we know that animated superheroes have been our first love, and any reminder of the same only helps things further. We are all waiting for the bigger movies from DC, and there is no shortage of love for superheroes. After all, there is none in real life, as the only people who are termed super in our world are the most evil among them all.

Release date: 12th January 2021
Running time: 83 minutes
Directed by: Sam Liu
Starring: David Giuntoli, Kelly Hu, Jamie Chung, Mark Dacascos, Michael Jai White, James Hong, Josh Keaton

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

A Classic Horror Story

Vampire Owl: We, vampires can make the classic horror story.

Vampire Bat: Don’t you know that most of the good vampire films were actually made by the elder vampires?

Vampire Owl: Isn’t that actually a myth which became part of normal lives later?

Vampire Bat: Their names were supposed to be in the the end credits.

Vampire Owl: Nobody got to see the end credits. They were removed.

Vampire Bat: Well, someone wanted to take all the credits, you know.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that those were some humans who played a small part in all of these.

Vampire Bat: Humans should have never been allowed to be part of vampire works, but at some point of time, there was not much of a difference between species.

Vampire Owl: Well, at least we know the human nature now.

Vampire Bat: The only true, classic inherent evil nature in the whole world.

[Gets an onion vada and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: Elisa (Matilda Lutz), an intern at a consulting firm, try a rideshare app to get to her parents’ home in Calabria in Southern Italy to get an abortion, even though she is not sure if it is the right thing to do. The recreational vehicle that she gets is driven by a travel blogger and a student of film, Fabrizio (Francesco Russo) – he is only happy to have some interesting people in his vehicle, so that his Youtube channel can get more visitors. A couple from the United States, Sofia (Yuliia Sobol) and Mark (Will Merrick) are also traveling in the vehicle to reach a wedding destination and have some good time. A doctor named Riccardo (Peppino Mazzotta) who joins them is also trying to get home as early as possible. When Elisa’s nausea causes the group to stop on the side of the road, Mark forcibly takes over driving for Fabrizio, only to hit a tree while trying to avoid hitting the corpse of a goat. Elisa wakes up in the morning and sees that the group is doing first aid on Mark’s broken leg, as the doctor takes over the procedure. They are not able to get any signal on their mobile phones, and even the emergency numbers don’t work.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: They soon realize that they are no longer on the road, but are lost in an open space surrounded by a forest. They are sure that they hit the tree on the side of the road, but now, no paths leading to anywhere can be discovered. It is like having an endless line of trees in all directions. They do find a house there though, but it is empty. It seems like a strange building, with some weird signs and heads of animals. The photos in the house has people wearing masks looking like heads of goats. There is also fresh blood and heads of animals in the woods nearby. At the same time, They see some paintings and writings in house about three brothers who came from another world, a long time ago. There is also the story of a strange ritual which was performed for the brothers, which involved a naked woman’s tongue, ears and eyes being cut out. Fabrizio had heard this story from his grandfather, and all of them decide to stay in the vehicle at night rather than the house.

And what more of horror is to follow here in the middle of nowhere? :: They feel that there is something going on in the house, and Sofia goes inside house with Elisa to explore further, only to find something in the attic. There is a cocoon, and inside that, there was a child named Chiara (Alida Baldari Calabria), who has her tongue cut out, and kept separately, making them remember the tale of three brothers. She is supposed to be the only survivor in the family, and writes down that there are not in a forest. They hide in the attic while Mark was dragged out of the vehicle by three masked figures, who torture and kill Mark by pulling out his eyes and also breaking his feet with a wooden hammer. After Mark’s body is dragged to the forest, they run to the woods. After finding a large number of abandoned cars, they understand that they are not the first victims of these people, and might not be the last either. When they walk through the forest, they end up at the same place, and also see that the vehicle missing. Is there any hope left now?

The defence of A Classic Horror Story :: The best thing about this movie might be its use of sound effects and also the music that relates to the situations so well, and works even better for the horror. One has to wonder how they find all the strength with the sound when we are less expecting it, and manage to have such an amazing effect. There is something for the Hollywood movies to learn here, and our films are not even close, as far as horror is considered. The visuals are amazingly good, and the beautiful scenes of nature combines with the terrifying ones really well. This strange, scary, beautiful world, is something that we can cherish, and be glad to see on the screen, wishing that this was actually there in any of those theatres. Yuliia Sobol and Matilda Lutz make pretty good screen queens, as we look at them wandering through the situations of horror – even though the latter is the female lead, the former is the stronger of the two. The male actors basically pales in comparison to these two who make have the better moments.

Positives and negatives :: The ending of the movie is a little bit of a struggle though, as it was not having some of the best twists around there either. There were so many routes which it could have taken, but it has chosen one which was so less interesting. There could have been so many terrifying truths about what is happening on the screen, and how this is like a world from where there could be no escape, but the film chooses to go through the path which is rather too easy to take, to create a twist. It might have been trying to become another one of The Cabin in the Woods, but that much of a satiric fun isn’t present in this one. There is a lot of blood and gore around here though, even as it doesn’t really go with the fully slasher horror model. The only other two Italian movies on Movies of the Soul are Pinocchio and Piranhas – this one is the first Italian horror film and the first full-thriller movie from Italy to be part of the reviews here. One has to say that as a horror fan, different people would enjoy this is different manner, depending on how much they like the ending.

How it finishes :: A Classic Horror Story surely lives up to its title, and this Italian movie has enough to keep it stronger than a good number of Hollywood horror movies. There are not many English movies which have used the available resources so well in comparison to this one. One has to question some other horror films about their use of the visuals and sound effects, as well as the urban legends which were available in a better way. If you forget the ending of this film, the rest of the whole thing makes one really care about the main characters and tensed and afraid of the terrifying world within what seems to be a forest. That particular hunt and torture are enough to wonder about the smartness behind this particular movie. Among the horror movies which have released in the last few years, this might be the one which can have the right to use this particular title. Enjoy this world, and hope that it can be inspiring for many horror movies which have lost their way completely in the beginning stages itself.

Release date: 14th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Roberto De Feo, Paolo Strippoli
Starring: Matilda Lutz, Yuliia Sobol, Will Merrick, Justin Korovkin, Peppino Mazzotta, Cristina Donadio, Francesco Russo, Alida Baldari Calabria

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sacrifice

Vampire Owl: Vampires have always been against sacrifices.

Vampire Bat: Yes, sacrifices are now limited to the Northern Witches.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that the Draconians don’t do sacrifices anymore.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it has been an outlawed practice throughout the realm.

Vampire Owl: Yet, they didn’t officially declare it so. Illegal sacrifices are still happening.

Vampire Bat: The Land of the Vampires shall have no part of it.

Vampire Owl: They even put up some posters inviting vampires for blood moon sacrifices.

Vampire Bat: We never accept the invitations of the Northern Witches. I am sure that they are completely aware of that.

Vampire Owl: You still cannot blame them for trying so hard.

Vampire Bat: The borders have been left open for too long these days. We need to have some control there.

[Gets some tapioca chips and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: Isaac Pickman (Ludovic Hughes) and his pregnant wife Emma Pickman (Sophie Stevens) travel to a remote island which is part of Norway, all the way from United States of America. After his mother’s death, he is hoping to claim a surprise inheritance which has come to his attention. The place is extremely beautiful, and there is so much of lovely scenery around. It would have been a perfect tourist destination for anyone from any part of the world, and also a great eco-tourism holiday. The home is also located by the same of a charming lake, which gives the feeling of being in a magical world. Some of the paintings at home seem to bring something back to the memories of Isaac, as they go on living as normal as they can. The locals don’t seem to like the British who manipulated the Nordic language and the Americans who claim that Christopher Colombus discovered America. They come up against a fight which Isaac seems to lose miserably, but when they realize that Isaac is from around there, they turn rather friendly.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: They also meet Renate Nygard (Barbara Crampton) who is the local sheriff – she wants to know about his father and his murder on that night when Isaac left Norway for the United States of America. Isaac understands that the police feels that his mother murdered his father, and lied to him that he had left him as he found a new family. The sheriff provides some updates about Isaac’s family after calling them for supper – they also come up against Astrid Nygard (Johanna Adde Dahl), the sheriff’s beautiful daughter. As they make their seemingly vacation-like visit, the couple discover some dark secrets which are related to the family. Then the sinister events that happen around there have other directions to follow. This seemingly charming trip turns into a nightmare without warning as Isaac and his wife comes across a secret pagan cult that worships a deity based on the sea and its waters. Astrid’s brainwashing of Isaac only makes things worse. Emma understands soon enough that the people have something more to provide than what meets the eye.

The defence of Sacrifice :: What catches our attention the most around here is the visuals, as the natural beauty is almost everywhere, from the smallest detail to a world of nature’s visual splendour – add a few beautiful people around to go with the same, among which Johanna Adde Dahl stands apart, and has her moments rising out of a lake which would have been iconic in cinema if this film was more popular. Along with the usual things of beauty, these moments from her might be the creepiest thing of beauty like nothing else that we see – one would also wonder here, whether she is of this world or a human manifestation of an ancient demon, as she appears with the northern lights from the freezing waters of the lake, naked and with only a few words of mystery. There are mysteries that runs through the movie, and it also has some scares going on with it, mostly related to the location itself, and related to the waters that surround the water and imprison its people. The mystery here does live on, and doesn’t depend on the ending to provide that usual conclusion.

Positives and negatives :: The movie might feel slow, and a little bit predictable at the final moments, but the slow descend towards horror is not to be considered a negative. Just like the film Castle Freak and the direct adaptation Color Out of Space, this is also closer to the definition of Lovecraftian horror which focuses on the incomprehensible and the unknowable. Even though there might be some shock and gore added to the newer films which take these features, this one is without them. Our movie here thrives on the mystery, as we don’t know what is real and what is not, for there are so many dreams and nightmares around here, with the cult not really showing what it is really about, and what Johanna Adde Dahl is all about, whether she is a figment of one’s imagination or a human representation of the goddess that they worship. It doesn’t have much of the special effects to go with it, and also hesitates to have that huge an ending, but it leaves the scope for a sequel, and we can always hope for the Lovecraftian world to find new life in everything around.

Performers of the soul :: Sophie Stevens does a great job as the pregnant woman who is caught among things that she doesn’t seem to be able understand. She is the only one who feels that there is something strange around there, and the feeling of being alone in a terrifying world. There is fear and helplessness being portrayed, after the beauty and bliss earlier. Ludovic Hughes’ descend into madness is also portrayed well, as it is an even better performance from him in the final stages of the movie. Barbara Crampton remains solid throughout the movie as one character who seems to know almost everything, and also does decide most of the things around there. Johanna Adde Dahl has our attention more than anyone else, even with very less dialogues spoken – the creepy beauty that she brings makes sure that there is something terribly divergent about the movie, as she her appearance out of the lake is one of the most magical moments in the film, unclothed and supported by the magical aura of the nothern lights, with the scope to be iconic if the movie gets more popularity later. She has her dialogues only then, and they enchanting as much as creepy in nature.

How it finishes :: Sacrifice is a surprisingly interesting film as you look at it, and the same suits more than just the genre of thriller. Brought into a Lovecraftian world, it is your need to understand this kind of a thriller, horror or drama, and what kind of a universe it would be depending on. For those who are looking for usual horror and thrills might not be that happy about it, but that is indeed a problem with their understanding, with expectations for a usual Annabelle, The Nun, The Conjuring, Sinister or Insidious. This film is much more than that, as it transports us to this particular world which boasts of both beauty and creepiness – the strange universe is something that we can cherish, with a few things to keep us guessing. After all, such an isolated world might be completely free from Corona virus and certainly free from its newly formed mutation which threatens to conquer the world again, Omicron. As we fear more pandemic induced lock-downs, keep looking out for some good films while you can. Christmas is on its way, and as the grand celebrations arrive, you stay safe.

Release date: 22nd October 2020
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Andy Collier, Tor Mian
Starring: Barbara Crampton, Sophie Stevens, Ludovic Hughes, Lukas Loughran, Johanna Adde Dahl, Jack Kristiansen, Erik Lundin, Dag Soerlie, Ingeborg Mork Haskjold, Edwin Roseth-Oye, Annika Josefine Stromblad, Balder Bjorke

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.