Army of the Dead

Vampire Owl: We are the Army of the Dead. This movie should be about us.

Vampire Bat: We are not the Army of the Dead. We are the Army of the Undead.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that they are different from each other.

Vampire Bat: Yes, there is also an Army of Darkness, you know.

Vampire Owl: Okay, still it is the dead that becomes the undead.

Vampire Bat: Well, death is a beginning, and for the undead, it has already begun.

Vampire Owl: I think that you are pointing to the zombies as the dead.

Vampire Bat: Yes, without full brain acitivity, they are to considered dead rather than undead, as we look closer at them.

Vampire Owl: Well, not all of the dead are undead, we can be sure about that.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that this one has some fine zombies though.

[Gets a vegetable pizza and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: A convoy coming from Area 51, the highly classified United States Air Force facility located within the Nevada Test and Training Range collides with the car of a newly married couple on a highway near Las Vegas. The high level of secrecy surrounding the base had already brought enough conspiracy theories to the scene including UFOs and aliens which are regular part of such talks. This time, the package which was part of the convoy is revealed to be a zombie, a very strong muscular creature which escapes, and during the process kills all the soldiers, among which some of them are infected and transformed into similar creatures, seeking to attack more humans. The zombies do head to the city, and infect most of its population. The United States military faces suffer heavy casualities, and is forced to retreat while facing the ever increasing hordes of zombies which are not that easy to kill as they only get stronger. The government decides to do what they considers to be the last resort, to deploy a tactical nuclear strike on the city to end the zombie threat forever, even though there are protests against the same.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Later, the very rich and influencial Japanese casino owner Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his associate Martin (Garret Dillahunt) asks a former resident of Las Vegas and earlier mercenary, Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) who is currently working at a burger joint to take over a job to recover two hundred million dollars from his casino vault in the quarantined Las Vegas. The time is running out, with the nuclear strike coming up. Ward agrees and recruits his former teammates Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera) and Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick) as the maim mercenaries, along with a helicopter pilot Marianne Peters (Tig Notaro), a safecracker Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighofer), and a sharpshooter Mikey Guzman (Raul Castillo), who also brings his associate Chambers (Samantha Win). Martin also joins them to make sure that there is access. They have a thirty two hour window to do what they have done the best in history, and even though they cannot fly in due to flight restrictions, they can fly out in one of the rescue helicopter located at the top of the casino.

And what is with the humans and the zombies which we have around here? :: As they are not able to find a way inside, Scott searches and finds his daughter Kate Ward (Ella Purnell), and offers her his share of the millions, asking her to help him get into the city. Kate directs them to Lilly (Nora Arnezeder) or coyote, a smuggler who knows the city. Burt Cummings (Theo Rossi), an abusive security guard who knows exactly what happens inside with the zombies. When Kate understands that Geeta (Huma Qureshi) also went into Las Vegas with two others, she feels that she should also be inside. Being the badly raised dumb kid that she happens to be, she stops at nothing to get what she wants, and the returned father figure can only agree. When inside, the common zombies are not the only ones that they have to face, for there are zombie animals too, including a zombie tiger. There are also a different kind of zombies, which are not the usual mindless ones. They are smarter, faster and better organized, with a mark on their territories. It won’t be that easy to dupe these zombies. Can they get what they want and make it out?

The defence of Army of the Dead :: It is clear that we haven’t had a full fun zombie movie like this one for a long time, and there is a lot of entertainment with the action, thrills and even a certain amount of horror that has been going on with the undead creatures. It also has some humour in between, and a fine detail of the post-apocalyptic world as well as the zombie attacks with descriptions to support them. Among the performers, Dave Bautista and Ana de la Reguera are at the top, with Nora Arnezeder and Matthias Schweighofer following closely. The man who is known as Batista in WWE is another one of those ring performers who has done so well in cinema, after Dwayne Johnson’s classic performance, and also John Cena up-to an extent. Ana de la Reguera and Nora Arnezeder are perfect lady soldiers who know exactly what they are doing. The movie, with its ending, also leaves something for a possible film in the future. Even though it is pretty much a long movie, you don’t really feel the length, as there is so much of action going on at all times, and we are indeed taken to this world of post-apocalyptic chaos.

Positives and negatives :: There are moments which this movie could have avoided to cut down the length, and it also kills one of its interesting characters too early – Samantha Win played quite a strong soldier who is lost before the big battles begin. Ella Purnell, even if meant to be irritating, plays the character that causes the death of most of the character – one of the most foolish characters ever in an action movie, for only horror films have dumber characters suiting them. Huma Qureshi is also here, but she is also wasted in a character which provides nothing good to the movie – without her, the film could have been shorter as there was no need to spare some time for the unnecessary. At least half of the characters are not made to be memorable either. This is also a movie about which not many people knows, and that is a disappointment – it could have had some advertisements in this part of the world, as it is something which will appeal to our audience too. Zombies will catch our attention as much as any undead creature rising from the dead.

How it finishes :: With the title, one wouldn’t really know if this is about vampires, zombies or ghosts, but the zombie idea also does work that effectively as any other monster, proven already in Warm Bodies, World War Z and so many Resident Evil films which kept coming back again, one after the other. This one makes a fine progress with the story, even with some predictability in store, and as it does have a lot of action to go with it. The movie is indeed an all-rounder, and you can feel that quite early itself. Even though the corona virus pandemic didn’t create the zombie apocalypse as a gamer or zombie-movie lover would have anticipated, it is only safe to say that there is always hope for something like it in the future. When that zombie pandemic happens, we will have watched some quality undead hunting movies like this one, and we will be ready. After all, Zombieland already has us partially prepared for the big event. For the rest of the procedure, the next sequel of this particular movie will keep us prepared.

Release date: 14th May 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 148 minutes
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Dave Bautista, Ana de la Reguera, Ella Purnell, Nora Arnezeder, Omari Hardwick, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighofer, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tig Notaro, Raul Castillo, Huma Qureshi, Garret Dillahunt

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Victor Frankenstein

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Vampire Owl :: None of our undead doctors have approved of this movie.

Vampire Bat :: That will not be a problem at all, because neither have the critics.

Vampire Owl :: So, we should still watch this one?

Vampire Bat :: As long as there is no ban, we can surely do that.

Vampire Owl :: Thankfully, we are not from a realm where there are bans on certain types of food, cinema and clothing.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, unlike these humans who are elected for no reason, Uncle Dracula is a lenient and intelligent ruler. Even the brain-dead Lich Queen knows better.

Vampire Owl :: We should let the clever film makers from the human side to work on their movies here.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, that will also be a big bonus for tourism; all is well as long as they keep their hatred, vanity, greed and envy outside our realms.

Vampire Owl :: And to avoid any temptation for the vampires, they should lock their necks, especially those veins…

Vampire Bat :: Stop! I am going to pretend that I never really heard that!

[Gets three cups of tea with tapioca chips].

What is it about? :: The tale begins and goes through the perspective of a nameless hunchback (Daniel Radcliffe) who works as the clown in a circus. He has been part of the circus for so long, and is more of a property of the circus, treated badly by most of the people there. But he secretly reads books that are stolen, mostly related to science, particularly human anatomy. He has feelings for an aerialist, Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay) who is injured during one of the shows. With no hope for her survival after falling from a good height, the hunchback tries his best to do anything, and at that exact moment, is aided by a stranger known by the name Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) who was attending the circus performance. Both succeeds in saving the girl who is taken to a hospital. This becomes the turning point in the life of the hunchback.

So what happens next? :: Victor Frankenstein has been a very ambitious medical student who has been working on something special. His aim has always been to make a discovery that would change the future. He has been scarred by his earlier experiences and wishes to make amends with his father (Charles Dance) who thinks that he is good for nothing and will never be anywhere close to his brother. He wanted to create life, and fascinated by a simple, uneducated hunchback’s knowledge in human anatomy, decides to recruit him for the cause as his assistant, and make things better and easier. So, he plans and manages a grand escape for the hunchback whom he names Igor, after his former room-mate. He drains the new assistant’s hump with his expertise and successfully hides him as the room-mate that he once had.

How does the journey go? :: The newly named Igor instantly impresses Victor, and they realize that they can go a long way forward. The police inspector Roderick Turpin (Andrew Scott) who investigates the disappearance of the hunchback realizes that something strange is going on, and it is against God. Considering Victor’s experiments as sins and his creations as unholy, he decides to stop him, whatever it might cost. They also come up against Lorelei once again, but this time as a different person. She also asks them to rethink about going against the natural order of things. But Victor and Igor are so close to their first case of success, but will that bring them glory or terror? What role will Lorelei play in this dangerous attempt at glory? Is it really an act against God, and what danger can this new creation from the grave bring?

The defence of Victor Frankenstein :: The visuals are really good with this one; there is a lot of style associated with the movie, and the cast also saves the day. Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy are good, especially the former who seems to have more control over his character. Jessica Brown Findlay also brings some charm while Andrew Scott is a fine opponent to the protagonists. The differences when compared to the original story has been nicely created. The messages are well placed, and they are mostly against vanity and the false ambition which stay strong within the main protagonist – he is so close to becoming Doctor Faustus, not just Doctor Frankenstein. It also asserts that there are things that cannot be changed and we have to accept them. There are some nice dialogues which keep making the point too. It has its own dose of entertainment too, and that matters.

The claws of flaw :: Victor Frankenstein needed a better flow in its story. It surely begins nicely, but gets lost at times. It is quite strange that the movie doesn’t try that hard to deviate from its source material from which it hasn’t really followed – there seems to be an attempt to return but at the same time staying different. The movie needed to be more certain with its story, and also could have dealt with its main characters differently – even though the main actors handle the whole thing well, better characterization and a much better background would have done them all, some more good. More horrors and thrilling moments could have been added to make its central idea about life and death more appealing; for now, they have done well to do that with the dialogues – maybe they could have done so without speaking that much about the same.

How it finishes :: Victor Frankenstein is another interesting movie based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 Gothic horror novel. The different versions of the same story or newly written extensions always bring something that can catch our attention, just like I, Frankenstein which extended the tale very nicely. In another case, there was Dracula Untold which brought another angle to the popular 1897 Gothic horror novel by Bram Stoker. If you are going to judge this one based on the many years old story, this is not the movie for you; but if you are ready to think from another angle, and understand the imagination behind making such a different attempt, you can surely go for this one, as despite not being that big Frankenstein movie, this is a fun movie which also leaves the viewers with some interesting messages to take home.

Release date: 27th November 2015 (India); 25th November 2015 (USA)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Paul McGuigan
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, James McAvoy, Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, Charles Dance, Freddie Fox, Mark Gatiss, Callum Turner, Daniel Mays, Spencer Wilding

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ouija

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Vampire Owl :: Halloween and no horror. Never thought that such a day will come in this century.

Vampire Bat :: There is horror. We can watch Ouija.

Vampire Owl :: Really? The Vampire Panda told me that it was a bad movie and critics gave bloody low ratings to it.

Vampire Bat :: Lets not trust the critics on a horror movie. Besides, that panda is not a vampire. He is just the Kungfu Panda on disguise attempting to sell his noodles and action figures among vampires.

Vampire Owl :: I shall deal with him later. For now, I can surely use a summoned spirit. According to the latest version of the Book of the Dead, the Undead and the Brain dead, they are very useful creatures. We need to get an Ouija Board.

Vampire Bat :: Do you realize that you already create enough problems for yourself?

Vampire Owl :: Absolutely yes. See, I am an evil entity. I am supposed to create problems for the world which includes myself.

Vampire Bat :: You should have a dosa. You turn evil when you need it.

Vampire Owl :: No. I am a dangerous owl. I need to keep it that way.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, dangerous to yourself.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: The protagonist Laine Morris (Olivia Cooke) is searching for answers as she hopes that she could have done something for her best friend Debbie Galardi (Shelley Hennig) who had committed suicide, and she laments the fact that she was the last one to talk to her and yet couldn’t stop her from doing such an act. As she finds an Ouija board in her house, along with her sister Sarah (Ana Coto) and other friends of Debbie, Pete (Douglas Smith), Trevor (Daren Kagasoff), and Isabelle (Bianca A. Santos) decides to try and contact their recently deceased friend. Soon, they contact a spirit which addresses them as friends, but what they are not aware of is that Debbie already had made a connection to the other world which lead to her death, and they understands that more than one entity is now free. The friends realize that they will just be killed one after the other and there will be no stopping the terror. A relative to the dead people returning as spirits, Paulina (Lin Shaye) who resides in a mental asylum seems to be the key to stopping the evil, but will it work?

The defence of Ouija :: The name would be enough to draw people to the movie, and the Ouija board has always been the centre of curiosity for a lot of people for a good amount of time. We have a lot of curious cats among us, don’t we? This movie banks in the same with the board at the centre, throws the usual stuff at us again and again, and there are some scares as one would expect from it. The sewn mouths are not something new, but they surely work here especially according to the circumstance, and the twist, even if small is a working one. There are possessions, suicides, murders, sewn mouths, blank eyes, with some scares here and there, and a creepy environment of the house. The sound effects are very good and the visual horror has its moments. It is quite a success as a haunted house movie, with the board being found from the home where evil has happened sometime ago. Some moments near the end are good, even as their failure to end the movie with the same surprises me.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t try anything new at all. Its biggest asset is that one board, but the flick fails to capitalize on the same. There is not much about that one big thing that it could have used to its effectiveness, and instead the same becomes only the means to what is to come next. It only does the job of any other possessed item which could gain the attention of the spirits. The movie should have stuck to its title, explaining more about the board and how things come to this dimension in relation to the same. But it tries to make the movie go on in the usual pattern often forgetting that the movie is about the board, with the existence of a house where something terrible did happen a long time ago and there is a spirit waiting to possess or murder people. Even a good number of scares are not that effective, but there are a few which work nicely. The plot and the narrative could have had some more attention to make the whole thing better.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has a rather cute lead at the top, and the performances are overall decent. Olivia Cooke plays the protagonist here, the lady who is hopelessly trying to connect to her dead best friend, and she has indeed played this role with such expressions of fear and uncertainty which makes this character so much believable here. Her cuteness helps the cause a lot, and she is a perfect one for this role which has more hopelessness and desperation which she could nicely reflect on her face. You will instantly like her, that is for sure. The next one is Shelley Hennig, and even as she dies early, has her moments too, and is not done even with that separation of the soul. She adds to the beauty of the cast and does enough, while the rest of the cast manages to hold on, but not with anything special. Meanwhile, Lin Shaye is here too, and she is once again impressive in another horror movie – catches our attention.

Soul exploration :: In its search for the spirits within the Ouija board and also outside it, the movie losses its soul. It can’t realize what it has in its soul, whether it is to focus on the board or the haunted house and its scary past. When we finally decide that it is on the latter, then comes the board again as if it is Count Dracula who wants to be part of everything vampiric. The spirit also works a lot like the Final Desination series, planning to just kill them all in freaky ways, even as it is not that heartless to make things too violent. Then you realize that Ouija is a mixture which is created to make it a safe bet, and it adds so many things to itself and makes those factors work in parts even as in totality, there is some mess. There is the lack of soul to hold it together, and it is the same reason why we are unable to bring much of it back home – even Annabelle living in the shadows of The Conjuring had more for us. Ouija boards can inspire better horror movies, and this one has the spirits not that powerful.

How it finishes :: The conclusion is still that even with its list of flaws, Ouija is your movie of the Halloween, even as Annabelle does exist at selected theatres with less number of shows. It will be the choice of the Halloween enthusiasts as Ouija board is not something that is not tried that much, and there are not other big Hollywood entertainers released this weekend. I have successfully kept my distance from Bollywood since Diwali as I had sensed certain danger. Meanwhile, I wish all the followers of this blog and the readers of this post a very Happy Halloween, and the November first is also the birthday of the Indian state of Kerala, the occasion known as Kerala Piravi, so I wish all my fellow Keralites a Happy Kerala Piravi too. For more details about the same, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala_Piravi and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala. Happy Birthday, Kerala 🙂

Release date: 31st October 2014 (India); 24th October 2014 (USA)
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Stiles White
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Shelley Hennig, Daren Kagasoff, Douglas Smith, Bianca A. Santos, Ana Coto, Matthew Settle, Lin Shaye, Vivis Colombetti, Robyn Lively, Bill Watterson, Sierra Heuermann

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.