Castle Freak

Vampire Owl: This is certainly not the castle that I know.

Vampire Bat: Not all castles are related to vampires.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but I was expecting at least this one to be related in some way.

Vampire Bat: I wouldn’t question your right to be disappointed.

Vampire Owl: Disappointed at the time of Corona virus. It is two levels of sadness.

Vampire Bat: Well, all viruses will have to meet the end, one day or the other.

Vampire Owl: Yes, except for those viruses which makes people zombies.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that the apocalyptic event was postponed until further notice.

Vampire Owl: We might see it coming as a Corona virus variation some day.

Vampire Bat: You can surely use a computer virus in your head as of now.

[Gets a vanilla cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Rebecca (Clair Catherine) and her boyfriend John (Jake Horowitz) used to have some good time wasting their time, until a terrible car accident which was caused by latter leaves Rebecca blinded, and things wouldn’t be the same any more. But things seem to change for the better, as she is contacted by a real estate agent, Marku (Genti Kame) who tells her that she has inherited a castle in Albania from her mother Lavina Whateley (Kika Magalhaes) who had left her for adoption. Rebecca is interested in solving the mystery behind the death of her mother, who is supposed to have whipped herself to death, while John looks forward to selling the castle, and earn a good amount of money which would help them to have a better future. There seems to be sinister secrets about the castle, as she begins to have terrible nightmares, while the two also find out strange memories of a forgettable past within the stone building.

So, what happens with the events here? :: John also invites their old friends to the castle, even though it is not something Rebecca needed to see, considering their past which was full of alcohol, drugs and that one fatal accident which had her losing eyesight. What they don’t understand is that things are not that easy or direct as it seems, as they are being stalked by someone who seems less human, and more like a creature. Rebecca does realize that early enough with her ears set on the walls, but it is not easy for anyone else to believe in the same. They also find Necronomicon, the book of spells around there, and it only points out to the possibility of something too old and beyond their understanding in there. Shelly (Emily Sweet) who is still in love with John wants to claim him back as she returns with his friends who find out connections of the castle with monstrous entities from the past known as the Great Ones. Now, things can only get worse, as they understand.

The defence of Castle Freak :: The best advantage of this movie is its setting, which is beautifully Gothic in nature, with scope of horror being placed almost everywhere – the beginning scene itself is a sign of what can follow later. There is the idea of creepiness which is follow here, and the scenery is also as beautiful as the world is terrifying. It is also nice to have everything coming together towards something which we hadn’t imagined in the beginning, as the sinister plans quickly turn into more than what had met the eye before, towards something not of this world. The similarities to Lovecraft’s The Outsider are there, and in the end, the movie also seems to connect to a world of terrifying creatures reminding us of his own tales of horror. The movie makers seem to have made this with a low budget, and it has certainly been managed really well. The first flogging scene, murder of Shelley and the open space ritual can be considered as the three scenes of unexpected quick shock.

The claws of flaw :: There was surely some scope for improvement around here. We have such a grand setting in here, and it is only fair to expect more out of it. There could have surely been some more scares in here, as many occasions seem to be all prepared to come up with something, but suddenly leaves that behind. We also see that the blood and gore stuff go a little bit over the board with the violence really climbing over the usual limitations. There are many occasions when this one doesn’t seem to be the movie for everyone, with it taking many steps to make the film more and more weird. The quality of graphics is also quite low when we consider all those demonic elements coming into the picture. The movie is also quite slow in getting into the action after that first scene, as we get to the present – the party moments and the initial moments of the couple at the castle take a little bit too long to get things going here. The ending could have also been more polished with bigger and more terrifying moments supported by possible twists.

Performers of the soul :: Clair Catherine leads the way as the blind protagonist really well, and it is a controlled, realistic performance, something which is not easy to find in a horror movie. She can be seen here as more or less a stoic one, accepting her fate without complaining, but still can’t help being curious herself. One would want to see her in more horror flicks or thrillers. Jake Horowitz provides pretty good support too. Genti Kame suits the mood of the place really well, as the story moves forward. Kika Magalhaes as Lavinia Whateley is the one who sets things in motion in the beginning, and she does that really well with a very creepy start that might bring the early shock to some – she has that kind of looks which suit her character’s background. Emily Sweet plays the usual kind of role in a horror movie, but she makes it interesting in her own way – she could have more of the genre and be the perfect scream queen, even though stereotypical in nature. The unknown entity also has the creepy performance to do, which is indeed the usual thing.

How it finishes :: Castle Freak is the kind of horror movie which comes out of nowhere to score above expectations, and it comes out of the usual horror movie list, deviating on the repeated style. It has the Lovecraftian influence, and there is another movie of the same name which came in the 1990s, which people around here seems to have missed. The movie is somewhat disturbing with its content, and therefore not recommended for all types of audience. This is not for those people who get disgusted with such content, and are looking for those flicks to watch with family members. If you feel aversion for any kind of the usual old style slasher horror content, you would have to keep away. Otherwise, it is certainly an interesting watch for people who are tired of these usual movies on ghosts, vampires, zombies and werewolves. These have been the years of one freak virus, and so we can take this particular freak too.

Release date: 4th December 2020
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Tate Steinsiek
Starring: Clair Catherine, Emily Sweet, Kika Magalhaes, Chris Galust, Jake Horowitz, Klodian Hoxha, Elisha Pratt, Genti Kame, Klodjana Keco, Omar Shariff Brunson Jr

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Doom: Annihilation

Vampire Owl: Do you remember Doom? The only and only Doom?

Vampire Bat: Doom is not one and only. There are many Dooms.

Vampire Owl: What do you mean? How many do you know as of now?

Vampire Bat: I played the video game named Doom, in the 1990s.

Vampire Owl: Okay, the game which you played before you had Unreal Tournament, Warcraft, Age of Empires, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Hitman and Need for Speed.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and then I had a little bit of Doom II until it was replaced by Unreal Tournament and later adding some Quake 3 Arena.

Vampire Owl: I remember you having said something about Quake and Quake II. You had quite a metamorphosis with the computer games then.

Vampire Bat: There were others from the same video game developers, id Software including Wolfenstein, Heretic and Hexen.

Vampire Owl: So, your memories go beyond The Rock starrer movie of the same name.

Vampire Bat: Yes, those PC gaming memories are beautiful, and there was no reason why I wouldn’t watch this particular movie. Doom is like a legendary game during those days when I first had a computer. It was first love.

[Gets some french fries and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: United Aerospace Corporation (UAC) has established a base on Phobos, the innermost and the larger one among the two natural satellites of Mars. Dr. Malcolm Betruger (Dominic Mafham), after years of research, tries to teleport a volunteer from a UAC lab in Nevada to their lab on Phobos by using teleporters. Even though the experiment seems to be successful in the begining, with the subject travelling all the way to Phobos and returning in one piece, there seems to be some problem with him – there are some deformities with him, not just outside, but also inside, with nothing much normal about him. Against the wishes of the other scientists inclduing the senior Ahmed Kahn (Hari Dhillon), Malcolm decides to make one more teleportation, this time with himself on the portal. But things don’t go as planned, and there is a problem with the power supply, and things don’t go as planned.

So, what happens with the events here? :: On a UAC transport vessel, a group of Marines on a mission to guard the Phobos base wakes up from cryo-sleep. Joan Dark (Amy Manson), a disgraced lieutenant is among the first to wake up and go through the procedures. She is someone whom nobody in the team wants to work with, except for her former boyfriend Bennett Stone (Luke Allen-Gale), a scientist who is excited to be sent to that high tech facility on a moon far away from Earth. The team is led by Hector Savage (James Weber Brown) who is not happy about the fighting going on inside the team, and hopes that they will work together well during their next mission on Phobos, which could be more or less about making sure that nobody steals from the high-tech facility, as almost everything in there is supposed to be worth millions of dollars. Unable to communicate with the base, they enter through the emergency entrance only to find trouble. Can they survive the horror inside the facility and restore it, or will they perish?

The defence of Doom: Annihilation :: This movie brings that long gone video game feeling back, as it is something that we fans of the first person shooters have always wanted, getting that much needed nostalgia too. Even with a low budget, the movie has brought the looks of a moon and space station into believable mode. With the usual first person shooter look written into it, there are maps in the helmets of the marines which they can access, and the characters move accordingly – they also have different access cards, and entering some areas are prohibited just like in those good old video games. This movie is more or less deserving a gamer’s love rather than of the others. Still, you can’t deny its quality shooting sequences, creatures attacking all of a sudden and continuing to create a world of terror, simple but effective work of a facility in space, a hell being designed and looking pretty effective and above all, the idea which we know from the game itself. The movie also has its heart and soul at the right place, while it also adds some humour and hope for an even better sequel.

The claws of flaw :: Doom: Annihilation does suffer from the low budget, and the signs can be seen here, and with some of the demons and places showing missing links in the design. It could have actually had more demons, with some more locations inside the facility – each creature and space could have been different, with one grand antagonist in the end. But the movie doesn’t try that, and neither does it have as many weapons as the game, only trying to get one big gun before the ending moments. They could have brought some fine effects into place here with variety in demons and also the action sequences. Instead the movie chooses to go the straight path, which was too easy, considering the fact that a good number of games established the path a long time ago. It also has to be noted that some people had already declared this to be a bad movie because they didn’t like the previous movie, and because this is based on a video game, especially a first person shooter – that seems to have affected the number of people watching this.

Performers of the soul :: When a movie tries to live by the name of the highly successful, magnificent, nostalgic first person shooter gaming franchise, it would provide more action, thrills and even horror than dialogues, and we have the same here. The Scottish actress Amy Manson is in the lead here, and she has undoubtedly done a fantastic job here, as the marine punished for disobeying a direct order from the higher authorities. From the moment she gets out of the cryo-sleep chamber, we know that she is to play the determined marine is a very much believable manner – she keeps that level throughout the movie’s run. She has an emotional side, and is perfectly suited to action, making us hope that the movie’s possible sequel would also have her in the lead. After Amy, Jemma Moore is the next one we see early, among those marines, but she is not there to stay, while most of the marines follow the same pattern, except three who stays further, and you know who has to survive till the end, as it is no surprise. Dominic Mafham reminds one of Event Horizon, and does well.

How it finishes :: If you have played any of the games in the Doom franchise, there is a certain amount of nostalgia related to this particular movie. As far as I can remember, Doom was the first of the first person shooter games which I had played. There we fought our way through demons from the other world, playing the game which would be considered as a pioneer among the titles of the same kind. It had also inspired me to buy Quake, another video game built on the style of Doom. For all of us who have played computer games in the 1990s, this is a dose of nostalgia, and for others, there is that memory of the 2015 version – the one which had quite a star cast including The Rock, Karl Urban and Rosamund Pike. With the negative reviews all around, it was not quite a success, and even with a cast which is not that famous, this one manages to be a better adventure. It might have something to do with my love for the game franchise, but I did enjoy watching this movie very much.

Release date: 1st October 2019
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Tony Giglio
Starring: Amy Manson, Dominic Mafham, Luke Allen-Gale, Nina Bergman, Katrina Nare, Clayton Adams, James Weber Brown, Jemma Moore, Gavin Brocker, Amer Chadha-Patel, Chidi Ajufo, Hari Dhillon, Arkie Reece, Louis Mandylor, Cassidy Little, Plamena Bozhilova, Lorina Kamburova, Nathan Cooper

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Haunt

Vampire Owl: Can this be more haunted than our own castle?

Vampire Bat: I don’t think so. We, true vampires provide top quality haunting all the time.

Vampire Owl: In this movie, they become part of a Haunted House attraction, only to find that it is real terror inside.

Vampire Bat: So, these humans want to get into a haunted place, but want to be haunted in a safe manner. It is a strange thing.

Vampire Owl: Yes, there should be no safe haunting. If there is such a thing, it is never really the haunting in the right form.

Vampire Bat: It is time that they realize that things just don’t happen as they want it to happen in a world of chaos.

Vampire Owl: Sooner or later, they would want to be murdered without being dead.

Vampire Bat: They are living in a strange and impossible world of their own.

Vampire Owl: They feel that they can make their own world according to the need, but that is a foolish thought.

Vampire Bat: Yes, sooner or later, they should understand that they are not the masters of this world, and they will never get even close to being something like that.

[Gets a marble cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: Harper (Katie Stevens) is not having a good time with her alcoholic and abusive boyfriend Sam (Samuel Hunt), and her friends so not approve of him for what he has been letting her go through. The two lovers are very close to breaking up, as the Halloween night arrives, and everyone dresses up in their favourite scary costumes. Her best friend Bailey (Lauryn McClain), along with two other friends Angela (Shazi Raja) and Mallory (Schuyler Helford) attend a party. There, they also meet two guys, Nathan (Will Brittain) and Evan (Andrew Caldwell), who together decide to go on a ride. It is then that Harper feels that she is being stalked by a man wearing a mask. The figure keeps staring at her body on multiple occasions, and she decides to keep close to his friends, as they go on the journey, and stops at a special Halloween attraction, a haunted house. They decide to give it a try, as it has a nice, spooky look suitable for the season.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Just outside the attraction, they meet the Clown (Justin Marxen) of the Haunted House, who makes them surrender their mobile phones and sign forms with their name, address and other details before they are allowed to enter the place. The group which enters the place together, is soon separated. On one side, Bailey, Nathan and Angela finds out that the haunting is real the hard way, as Bailey gets cut on her right arm. At the same time Harper, Evan and Mallory have to crawl through a series of tunnels as well as spend time in coffins as part of the game, but end up losing Mallory who disappears. The two teams meet up again only to find Mallory taken out of a bag by a masked figure who impales her through the head, seemingly killing her. It is then that the group realizes that this is a life-threatening situation, and if they can’t find a way out, they might be killed by traps or masked figures. But is there a way out from there?

The defence of Haunt :: The setting is the one thing that gives this movie the big advantage, and Halloween world with a haunted attraction is what the world never gets tired of watching, and has immense possibilities even without trying too hard. The movie does manage to keep the blood and gore checked, keeping the violence from going too far, as this is a slasher movie made to kill most of its characters in brutal ways, with a setting like this. There are some sequences of terror which comes in, and brings the needed feeling for the audience. It works with the usual fears, and uses them effectively on different occasions created here. There is also a likable protagonist being brought here, and due to what she has been going through, we support her all the time. The masks and the people behind them are terrifying enough to watch, and the movie lives up to its haunted environment, also adding something for the scream queen to shine in the end.

The claws of flaw :: Even though the movie has that haunted house attraction setting, it never really uses it to the full potential, and neither does it manages the best with the youngsters from a party looking for Halloween fun. If you have watched Escape Room, you will know how tricky and scary the rooms can get, even without qualifying as a horror movie in essence – a life-threatening crisis is always the biggest challenge which can be displayed in grand style, no matter what the genre is, and horror has it easy. Haunt does make much of an attempt at divergence and innovation which could have come naturally, as options were always open. The moments before they reach the haunted house are pretty much dull, and that takes some valuable time which could have been used to add more scares into the movie. The movie also adds a certain amount of flashback to its protagonist, which also drags a little bit here and there.

Performers of the soul :: Katie Stevens might be best known for participating in the ninth season of American Idol and also for being part of some of the popular television series, but she is a new figure for the audience here. She was there in the Kathryn Prescott starrer Polaroid in which she had a small role of the girl who was hosting the party, and the second person to be killed in it. The actresses like Samantha Logan and Priscilla Quintana had bigger role than her in that movie. But here, we can see that Katie establishes her very well as one of the best scream queens in her twenties, even though understanding her potential, we know that she could have been given more to do within that haunted house, and the whole thing should have been focused even more on her. Will Brittain plays the male lead pretty well. Lauryn McClain, Schuyler Helford and Shazi Raja manage their roles pretty well. Andrew Caldwell also adds a little, but the masked ones score above them all sharing the glory with Katie.

How it finishes :: It has to be noted that despite having such a fine setting for terror resembling movies like The Collector, Saw and Hostel, this movie is something which has not been watched much by the people from this part of the world, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most people do not know that such a movie exists. Haunt is a movie that deserves some audience, even though it still hasn’t used its elements as much as the horror fans would have wanted it to. When you are locked in a haunted house attraction with psychopath killers wearing masks, you would surely expect more. Otherwise, the move manages to do its job just fine, and the movie maintains the level it had in the beginning, never really altering the mode. You can watch this to add another horror slasher with some traps and killers walking around, and the main characters always in danger, death walking through every corner – you know the ways of evil. After all, each and every movie can’t be Doctor Sleep, Lights Out, It Follows or Don’t Breathe.

Release date: 13th September 2019
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
Starring: Katie Stevens, Shazi Raja, Lauryn McClain, Will Brittain, Schuyler Helford, Andrew Caldwell, Chaney Morrow, Justin Marxen, Samuel Hunt, Damian Maffei

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Divine Fury

Vampire Owl: We are certainly not used to watching Korean movies.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but we make exceptions with some of those films

Vampire Owl: I think that the last two Korean movies reviewed around here were The Wailing and Train to Busan.

Vampire Bat: They were the only two movies of that particular language which were reviewed here. The other big movies were Chinese.

Vampire Owl: Yes, The Mermaid and The Monkey King 2. I remember them. There were two short-films too, I guess.

Vampire Bat: After that, the total number of movies watched itself was decreased, and there was no chance for Korean and Chinese films.

Vampire Owl: Well, we are back here watching them though.

Vampire Bat: Yes, there is always more movies to watch, except at the theatres during the time of Corona Virus.

Vampire Owl: That time too will pass, and we will be back to watching the latest movies at the theatres.

Vampire Bat: I shall display no doubt regarding that statement, so that I can hold on to some more optimism at the time of crisis.

[Gets a pineapple cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: Yong-hoo (Park Seo-joon) is a martial-arts champion who keeps winning all his fights as if he is seeking revenge for the death of his father, who was murdered while doing his duty as a police officer in the city, and his mother who had died even earlier. He feels that God didn’t listen to his prayer when he was a child, and left him an orphan, and the wrath which he possessed from the same feeling helped him to become the fighting champion he ended up to be. But one day, he has an injury on his hands, which he shows at the hospital, but after a number of days, it only gets worse with the doctor confirming that it is not an infection, and he should show it at a bigger hospital in the city. Finally, he decides to meet a new shaman, a blind young girl who has a connection with the spirit world. The girl finds out that there is something evil about him, and refers him to the priest at a local church.

So, what happens with the events here? :: There he meets Father Ahn (Ahn Sung-ki) who is performing an exorcism, and with his wound, he is able to help him. The priest reveals that it is stigmata, the bodily wounds which were imposed on Jesus Christ while he was undergoing crucifixion. He also added that it would appear only on those people who have strong faith. It surprises him though, as he has never known faith after his father died. But, as time passes, he gets involved in what the priest has been doing, including getting rid of the demons, as there is nobody else who is willing to help him in the dangerous exorcisms. He slowly and steadily begins to regain his faith in God, but there is a bigger evil in existence in the city, and soon enough, they need to find it. When they exorcise a demon from a young girl Soo-jin (Park Ji-hyun), the priest comes to know about it. Can they do it early enough, or will darkness envelope the city? What would be the key to defeating the demons they don’t know much about?

The defence of The Divine Fury :: There is something about The Divine Fury that you will find different, or rather many things, as you approach it as a horror movie, but that is only one side of it, while having your journey through the film. The movie basically blends many things, including action sequences, mystery, thrilling moments and others of emotional bonding. The emotional side to the movie also remains strong between all these action and horror. The movie has a run-time just a few minutes more than two hours, and we get through that quickly, as there is no slowing down the action here, for the demonic presence is always there. The final action sequence somewhat reminds one of Constantine, even though not that much well done, and there are some nice punches and kicks being landed in the end. The final shot of moving hands from the well is really creepy, and so are the exorcisms which are well done, especially that of the young girl and the kid.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t really begin so well, and it gets interesting with the first exorcism which the protagonist partially witnesses. There are many other approaches which this movie could have taken too, but it often chooses the easy way, especially with some parts giving the impression that we have watched all of these before. People might think that there is a little bit of too much speech about God and faith going on right through it, but it is a necessary part of the movie. The final action scene could have been made somewhat like the John Wick fights between the lights, and the demon in the end could have also been scarier. We could have also used more exorcisms, and the philosophical dialogues could have been quickly done with. The villain could have actually had a better background and backstory too.

Performers of the soul :: Park Seo-joon plays the main character, and he has some interesting movie titles under his name. We can witness the changes that come across him clearly, as we see the journey shown nicely. Ahn Sung-ki as Father Ahn also makes a perfect priest, and his dialogues about almost everything catches our attention – there are words of wisdom from him which we might miss, if we are not careful enough. From the first moment he is seen in the exorcism scene, we know that he would be the right priest. The two also share some funny moments too, even though the seriousness of the situations stay as it is. Woo Do-hwan doesn’t really fall behind much either. It has to be noted that the movie has managed to have some fine performances from the supporting cast, especially those who plays the possessed, starting from the young girl played by Park Ji-hyun. You have to look out for them every time.

How it finishes :: The Divine Fury is the movie that deals with exorcism and the demons in a very different way compared to what we have seen in many different movies, from The Conjuring, The Nun and Annabelle series or the good old Insidious franchise. There is also the hope for a sequel known as The Green Exorcist. I will surely be looking forward to it, as this is the kind of movie which Hollywood will find difficult to make, and the Korean movie industry has nicely made one movie which could stand apart, even though not without its flaws. Do not get fooled by the comparatively smaller rating given to it when we consider some other popular Korean movies, because this one is not a pretender, and it goes through things directly. If you want to watch a good action horror movie with martial arts and exorcism running through it along with some philosophy, do watch this one.

Release date: 31st July 2019
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Kim Joo-hwan
Starring: Park Seo-joon, Ahn Sung-ki, Woo Do-hwan, Park Ji-hyun, Jung Ji-hoon, Sim Hee-seop, Seo Jeong-yeon, Jo Eun-hyung, Kim Seon-min, Jung Eui-soon, Kim Bum-soo, Lee Chan-yoo

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Void

Vampire Owl: I have always liked the Void. It made sure that there was nothingness in our realm. It was beautiful.

Vampire Bat: There is more than void that brings the nothingness.

Vampire Owl: Void is actually better than the rest. It is quite harmless, unless you use it to tamper with the wheel of time.

Vampire Bat: You can’t manipulate the wheel of time with just the void.

Vampire Owl: Well, you can’t just manipulate anything like the humans do. They just lie, cheat and steal as they want to.

Vampire Bat: These days, they are busy spreading the same on the internet, right into the social media.

Vampire Owl: Maybe, we can put them right inside the Void.

Vampire Bat: The Void doesn’t take anyone who tries to get in – it chooses people with quality.

Vampire Owl: What about the Shadow Domain?

Vampire Bat: The humans might be capable of entering that domain, because they are that evil. We can keep this in the list of suggestions.

[Gets three cups of Wayanad tea with Patanjali Doodh Biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A man named James (Evan Stern) is seen running away from two people who shoots him, but misses. They hope to continue the chase and find him, but he reaches the main road and stumbles across a police car which is parked on the side. The police officer Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) gets him to the nearest hospital which only has parts of it working after a fire, and will be closing down soon. There are only the minimum number of staff present there including Doctor Richard Powell (Kenneth Welsh), nurses Allison (Kathleen Munroe) and Beverly (Stephanie Belding), along with the inexperienced intern Kim (Ellen Wong) who was supposed to leave much earlier. Other than them, there are only a pregnant girl Maggie (Grace Munro), her grandfather Ben (James Millington), and the only patient admitted there, Cliff Robertson (Matt Kennedy).

So, what happens next? :: The hospital is not the best preference for anyone who is looking for the best of treatments, but its proximity makes it a good choice for the people living around. It is the only reason why at least three people from outside are already there for treatment. The state trooper Mitchell (Art Hindle) also follows there, as there has been a blood bath in a farm house, and he is also looking for James, who could be the one responsible for the same, as the is known to take drugs. Meanwhile, Beverly murders Cliff and attacks Daniel, who is caught with surprise by her skinless, bloody face, but manages to shoot her dead. Mitchell attributes this to James and some drugs which he was taking, which the nurse could have used for herself. Daniel who goes out to use the radio in his car finds things getting complicated as he is attacked by a cultist wearing a hood having the picture of a triangle.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: An escaped Daniel manages to get himself back into the hospital, but two strangers are also inside (Daniel Fathers and Mik Byskov) who wish to kill James – in the confrontation, the doctor gets killed. As more and more cultists gather outside the hosptial, they understand how messed up the situation is, and tries to have some control. But it turns out that Beverly has come back from the dead, and she doesn’t even come close to looking the same. After failing to get hold of James, this animated version of her takes Mitchell, and kills him. They survivors finally manage to kill the creature, but there seems to be some more evil lurking under the hospital. They can’t get out as the armed cultists are waiting outside, and something threatens to come up and finish them off from the hospital’s basement – what will they do? The pregnant girl’s time is running out, and Daniel himself was stabbed – will they survive the night?

The defence of The Void :: Without wasting any time, The Void is ready and right into action, and this one keeps building on what it has in the beginning, bringing more horror into the material. You can feel the evil present throughout, and there is almost no way of how terrible it is; we just keep knowing its existence, and understand the chance that it could be fully unleashed at any moment. The scary moments work really well, and we see the effective use of terror in the form of undead creatures which are not zombies by definition. There is one nice scene where the heroes are caught between the creatures seemingly right out of hell rather than becoming walking undead in the form of zombies. There is scope for unleashing the most ancient and the most powerful of evil around here, and we know that death is only the beginning, once again. The cast is also pretty good, even though there is nothing big done. Caught in a half-burnt hospital, it is a nice setting for all.

The claws of flaw :: The blood and gore in this movie is going to keep some people away, as the movie gets violent early enough, only to get a few steps further as it moves forward. The Void might also be a little late in its arrival; if it had come a lot earlier, we could have enjoyed it as the first flick of a franchise which would have a fine cult following. The movie could have also used some fine, detailed creatures for its horror rather than those half baked ones, which surely adds to the horror, but not as whole. There could have also been better clarity with its story, and it could have made up a grand one with its proceedings – with this kind of a premise, there are so many places that its tale could go. But its chances are not fully explored here, as it ends in just an ordinary way instead of making it a big terrifying finish to a journey resembling the idea of hell.

How it finishes :: The Void will get more of interesting horror, and there is not that much of delay for this movie to take you on the terrifying ride. Even if not as good as those divergent horror movies like Don’t Breathe, A Cure for Wellness, Get Out, Lights Out, The Autopsy of Jane Doe and It Follows, this one has also has its own variety in treatment, as horror gets its dimensions explored yet again. There will be those haunting tales about ghosts on one side, and then there are these stories, which takes it to a different level – we will always love those movies like The Conjuring, Insidious and Annabelle, but we want things to bring more twist like this one, even if it is not a perfect story with all things coming together. Maybe, there could be a nice sequel to this one, working on its established origins, and making things better. We can only hope and wait for that though.

Release date: 7th April 2017
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Steven Kostanski, Jeremy Gillespie
Starring: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Mik Byskov, Grace Munro, Evan Stern, James Millington, Art Hindle, Stephanie Belding, Matt Kennedy

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Lazarus Effect

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Vampire Owl :: The zombie minions have sent us a request signed by four hundred and fifty seven of them.

Vampire Bat :: As Uncle Dracula is in the hospital after watching a few terrible superstar Bollywood movies, I guess that we have to deal with this ourselves.

Vampire Owl :: It is sad. We have to accept their request though, or the Lich Queen will take away all our zombie labour.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, they consider the Lich Queen as a weird revolutionary ruler and we shouldn’t just give her the advantage.

Vampire Owl :: So, what do you think about this? They are asking for the review of a movie, The Lazarus Effect. It is about death and return to life.

Vampire Bat :: Coming back from the dead? I don’t believe that the zombies can come up with a better request.

Vampire Owl :: It is a horror movie, and so it should work for the vampire clan too. The request can be honoured without much trouble.

Vampire Bat :: It is a shame that we have to watch this movie without Uncle Dracula. But it is time he realize that he should choose actors over superstars when watching a movie.

Vampire Owl :: So, we will reply to the minions with a yes?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, and lets have some tea and get ready for a movie adventure.

[Gets a cup of tea and butter cookies].

What is it about? :: Two scientists, Frank Walton (Mark Duplass) and his lover Zoe McConnell (Olivia Wilde) have developed a special serum which they have named Lazarus. They are helped by Niko (Donald Glover) and Clay (Evan Peters), while they are joined by the videographer Eva (Sarah Bolger) as this particular serum attempts to do something huge. Even though it was intended to assist coma patients to give them a second chance at life, it turns out that it actually brings the dead back from life. They do manage to bring a dog back from the dead, and all of a sudden, a major pharmaceutical company buys the firm that funded their research and shuts them down. They decides to repeat the experiment, but Zoe gets electrocuted. Frank decides not to lose her and uses the Lazarus serum on her, but it turns out that the returning lady is not the same as the one who left.

The defence of The Lazarus Effect :: I am sure that most of you can agree to the fact that the movie is scary. It is loaded with the scary moments here and there. The moments of the return from the dead, for both the dog and the human are very well portrayed. Another nice design in relateed to the depiction of hell and the ideas behind the same. There are some jump scares which are very well used to make sure that the audience will feel that there is more horror coming. Not only the visual stuff, but the sound effects and the music contributes well to the frightening situations. It also asks us the relevant questions about life, death, soul and hell. The gore is also kept to the very least, even though a movie like this which combines science fiction and horror could have had a lot of it, especially with the death and return from the dead around. Over everything else, it knows how to entertain.

Claws of flaw :: There is no doubt that this movie could have been a better horror movie because it had all which was needed in its story, even though with similarities to other horror movies – the basic idea is not new and so are the scares. This one could have used the abundant darkness to a more creepy effect instead of using the same for some quick scares. The idea of life, death, hell and soul could have been expanded further more. The battle here between the living and dead is also too one-sided and predictable. With the movie being short in length, more scary and explanatory sequences could have been added here and there. The ending could have also been a little more creative. But it is surely better than what the critics claim that it is, no doubt about that – far ahead of this year’s other big horror; the remake called Poltergeist.

Performers of the soul :: The acting department looks safe around here. The best moments in the movie undoubtedly belongs the one who plays the returning loved one an scientists from the dead – Olivia Wilde as Zoe McConnell is clearly the leader here. She begins as the heroine and returns as the demon, balancing both really well. The transformation that happens is not that gradual either as she turns and embraces the dark side further and further after the return from the other world. She is not someone whom we usually associated with the horror genre, but it has suited her very well. Sarah Bolger plays the lead who doesn’t really belong to the group, and she does that fine enough. Mark Duplass has a good run in the movie, and the rest of the cast does some good job in this flick which mixes two genres effectively.

Soul exploration :: The three movies that come to your mind when you watch The Lazarus Effect are Event Horizon, Carrie and Lucy even though this flick is no match for all the three – consider the original movie from long ago when I am talking about Carrie this time. Do you know what else this movie is? It is Frankenstein, as here is an even more modern Prometheus than what Mary Shelley had intended. The idea of bringing back someone from the dead hasn’t gone that well for many characters; Victor Frankenstein paid for it. The Biblical Lazarus of Bethany on whom the title seems to be based did have a fine return from the dead after four days, and may be the serum in the movie was also supposed come out positive, but unfortunately for the characters in the movie and fortunately for the horror fans, it didn’t.

More of the soul exploration and the finish :: The movie’s idea of hell is also interesting; it talks about how hell is your worst nightmare repeated again and again. Its journey to hell and back is like Event Horizon, but not that strong. It has the returning person with the powers of Carrie, and also comparable to Lucy – there is also that idea about using more than ten percent of the brain. This movie has those elements which bring the horror about not just what is seen, but also what extends beyond that. Jason Blum who has been behind horror and thriller movies like Insidious, The Purge, Sinister, Dark Skies, Paranormal Activity, Ouija, The Lords of Salem, Jessabelle, Area 51, The Boy Next Door, The Gallows and The Gift along with the sequels of some of them, has produced this one too. With its collections, The Lazarus Effect will make into the list of the successful ones.

Release date: 27th February 2015
Running time: 83 minutes
Directed by: David Gelb
Starring: Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Sarah Bolger, Donald Glover, Evan Peters, Ray Wise, Amy Aquino

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Grey

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* Just a reminder about my Facebook page 😀 (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Movies-of-the-Soul/378583758873946)

On The Grey :: This is a relatively unknown thriller movie starring Liam Neeson in a human battle against nature and its creatures. The movie can be further remembered for the poem which is recited in the movie: “Once more into the fray Into the last good fight I’ll ever know Live and die on this day Live and die on this day”. These are very strong lines according to the situation, and written by Joe Carnahan the director of the movie, this poem is more suitable to the age of civilization rather than that of world in the middle of nowhere. It is more of a man against nature stuff for sure, but on another level, we can see a survivor horror of another kind, this one being a thriller which involves man fighting against forces which are stronger and smarter than the average zombie in the survival horror movies. It is also an action-adventure movie where a group of men, especially one man is brought down into a world of chaos just as he thought he would be back to civilization. Yes, where there is no order or civilization, there is to be chaos, and the ultimate result is mostly death.

What is it about? :: John Ottway (Liam Neeson) is the hero of the story, who works in Alaska. He is an efficient shooter whose job is to kill gray wolves which regularly threaten an oil drilling camp. He has visions of his wife and lives with a desire to kill himself, something which he just cannot accomplish. He is kind of a loner, and does what he is supposed to. But all these have to change as their plane crash on a return trip home. The survivors of the plane crash is lead by John, but not everyone agrees to his leadership. Soon they find that they are in the territory of a gray wolf pack, and as long as they don’t get out of there, the creatures shall hunt them. As one of them (Ben Bray) is killed by the wolves at night, they decide that they have to keep moving, and it would be better for them to be away from the crash site as much as possible. With no idea of which way to go towards civilization, or at least away from the wolf territory, all of them have to depend on their own instincts to survive in the extreme climate. Are they into the last good fight they will ever know? Only time will tell.

The defence of The Grey :: You might know that having Liam Neeson there is the biggest and the best thing for this movie. Let me tell you that this movie is not about wolves, and therefore lets not think about how they are acting in this one – for this movie is about courage and the humanity’s everlasting desire for survival. You already know that man can be destroyed, but can’t be defeated. It doesn’t matter how weak you are, it is the circumstance that makes you stand up and be tough. It has a powerful and yet never exaggerated depiction of a world which is cent percent against human existence, and ruthless instincts for survivals are asked for. Yes, people live and day on a day, and we are pushed into battles, sometimes you know that it is your last chance, and it is not an option to win. The Grey has beautifully captured all these scene by scene, with the acts and dialogues of the characters as well as the presence of snow and the wolves. The Grey is that thrilling movie which has nothing supernatural or extra-terrestrial and yet gives the feeling of something out of this world, and this success of the movie is a good sign for future.

Positives and Negatives :: There was a big chance that this movie was going to be set aside as just another movie which uses has a group of people trying to survive the snow and the wolves along with using Liam Neeson’s star value in attracting attention. But no, not with The Grey. It reminds us that movie is a craft and the director is the craftsman, and provided with someone of great caliber to support it from the inside, this is more than enough for making a fantastic movie. The first instinct of all of us might be to brand this movie as an action movie with Liam Neeson beating up wolves – partially right, and this one is also an adventure – there too somewhat right; but about all, this is a survival thriller, which keeps not only the wolves, but also ourselves in the hunt. There are no death-defying action – that should disappoint a few, and Liam Neeson is not right out of Taken or The A-Team, believe it. Instead, we have people who walk in the snow covered valley of shadow of death, with different beliefs, but hope for survival all the same. The movie’s snow world and repetitions might trouble a few, and it does have an unclear end and some drops of depression and pessimism at times.

Performers of the soul :: Liam Neeson activates the movie, runs the movie and ends it in style. The same director and actor comes together once again after The A-Team and unlike the strange modern world that our actor explored in the form of the thrillers Unknown and Taken, this one takes the viewers right back to an age where the animals and nature had the upper-hand. My favourite movie of his shall always be Schindler’s List, and I do feel that everyone would agree. His presence in Les Miserables would comes second best, in a role which involves selflessly saving the innocents yet again. I would say that his performance in The Grey stands next, as he plays a man who is himself a hunter, and becomes as much a predator as the wolf by the end. There are those moments of Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins that comes to the mind when this man who had made a great villain comes to the scene once again never to give up. Our character doesn’t lose hope, and neither does he loses his courage, and Liam Neeson makes sure that the character is awesome. I am looking forward to his A Walk Among the Tombstones, as it sounds interesting, and there is also the movie with an earlier release date – Non-Stop.

Soul exploration :: The wolves are more of the symbol of what attacks us in the real life, taking the individuality out of us, making us afraid and act like what we are expected to be. The nature has its fury and so do the wolves, but in our civilized world, we suffer from the same attacks, not just physical, but also of intellectual and spiritual nature, as we are forced to give away our beliefs due to many reasons – the wolves can be a lot of things, as our right to believe in something or the right to be someone is taken away. Yes, the future dystopia will be based on materialism alone, as art, literature and religion will be taken away. We already know how much the courses on arts are suffering and how the current society has taken away imagination in favour of logic. They have marked their territory, and wolves continues to take many new forms, and the support that most of them receives continues to increase. Obviously most of the society consider us students of arts as worthless, and they kill us like these wolves, with their teeth and claws supported by the climate which favours them. They try to make us believe that we have studied an inferior course – do survive, like Liam Neeson, for we struggle more than anyone else, caught between the community reservations after which we General category people get none.

How it finishes :: How well The Grey is taken, goes beyond comparisons. It doesn’t have that much inside it if you just watch it and leave it, and it will be basically a man – wolf battle against all odds. The wolf is often more than just a creature, and when the nemesis is also a philosophy, there comes the epic struggle. Beautifully shot with its visuals and sounds which produces depression as well as intensity, the movie will be a treat for most, and might not gather the attention of a few others. Liam Neeson is the catalyst that this movie needed, and anyone else would have not worked the movie in the same movie. The Grey is more of what the title suggests, it is more grey than anything else, with no black or white, just the struggle for survival as the humans face the sure mortality when they least expect it, and that too of a horrible kind. By the end, there is death, and still there is the courage to take the fight to the wolves as there is that last battle, to live and die rather than to live or die – for to live or to die is not an option, as people live and die and some part of us can always be dead and buried, even with immortality continued to be given that significance that it deserves.

Release date: 27th January 2012
Running time: 117 minutes
Directed by: Joe Carnahan
Starring: Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie, James Badge Dale, Jacob Blair, Ben Bray, Anne Openshaw

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

World War Z

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Even in the world dominated more by vampires as the popular fantasy creature, there is no lack of support for the zombies, even in India as shown in Go Goa Gone. Otherwise, the Resident Evil series always had the complete control over that zombie world which came up as the result of an infection. The animated corpses which were something more than just a mindless vampire or human, has had more success with the stories of science rather than magic, with virus infection rather than being resurrected by necromancy or being summoned from another world by a sorcerer or a witch. Even then, they would remain the most important weapon for the battle in the box-office, as vampires have had too much run on the big screen. I would still miss I Am Legend for the kind of vampire mix which was given to the zombies, a combination of intellect which has been completely destroyed by Twilight. There are many people whom I can recommend to be zombies without being dead and coming back, but I choose to remain silent now due to the respect which I pay towards them – not those people, but the real zombies of the world. Still, I can’t hesitate to say that the hunger of the human flesh or the human brain should exist with both of them. I would thank Mary Shelley and her Frankenstein more than anything else on this occasion, and move forward.

A global pandemic in the form of a zombie outbreak has become so interesting these days that even if someone prepares for it as if the end of the world is near, there is no need to be surprised. A zombie apocalypse is something which needs its own glorification, as it is already happening with some of the mindless hypocrites who are slave to logic. But here in this Brad Pitt starrer, we have the true, respectable undead zombies, based on the 2006 novel with the same name by Max Brooks. Even as seeing Brad Pitt among the list of producers reminded me of what happened with Will Smith’s After Earth which shattered those hopes made of glass into so many pieces that it was not easy mend, there was a certain belief about this one. In that case, it would have been surprising that this movie made it to the theatres here, as there was a great chance for this one to miss the multiplexes belonging to this part of the world. The presence of Man of Steel and its reluctance to move out of the theatres might be a major blow to this one as well as to Monsters University which has been restricted to a single show if present. None of these can give even a small fight to Superman and his impact on this part of the world, something which is rooted in the childhood memories – the presence of Now You See Me and Fast & Furious 6 shouldn’t really hurt this one though.

After Tom Cruise and Will Smith jumped into the world that was post-apocalyptic Earth in the same year, with the former been a vampire in Interview with the Vampire and the latter been a zombie-vampire killer in I am Legend, Brad Pitt already had the vampire experience as Louis de Pointe du Lac, the complete vampire despite of the human conscience and existential questions of life and death, good and evil, God and Satan, heaven and hell. This time, he is not part of the attacking gang, but still raises his own questions about humanity in not that effective manner. Anne Rice’s works had its own versions of zombies, even as they were also called vampires, like the ones the leading characters encounter in Eastern Europe, with no mind of its own, attacking everything that moves, driven by its own need to feed; the only characteristic that can define them. One has to wonder what differentiates a zombie from the human beings without civilization in a world which has quite a shortage of resources. Won’t each and everyone act the same as a zombie in such a situation, in the absence of the rules and regulations of the society and the restrictions of sin imposed by the religion? That should identify us more with the term zombie rather than the vampire, knowing our need for society and religion to keep us from becoming zombies or even worse.

It must be clear from the title by now that the “Z” stands for Zombies. There is no doubt about the fact that most of the people who came to the theatre were not expecting the same, thanks to the posters which gave no clue about such a thing. Another thing is that there is no scope for 3D, as those glasses give you almost nothing other than some words which would seem to project off the screen in the beginning of the movie. There are some good CGI moments for sure, and the special effects are limited; not a very good thing for a movie of this genre. There is a good chance that most of the comon zombie fans might choose to say a no to this one. It is the story of former UN employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family who are saved from a group of zombies who turn all who they bite into their kind, and after being taken to a US Navy ship in the middle of the sea, he is forced to invetigate into the matter using the special skills he achieved through his missions, so that the origins of the virus could be found out and the pandemic could be stopped. Not without reluctance, but still agreeing for the sake of his family’s staying on the ship rather than in a refugee camp on the land surrounded by zombies, Gerry joins the team of experts on a plane for a military base in South Korea from where some of this is supposed to have started in the first place.

Here is the paragraph which might give you the spoiler – and the story till the end. From there the journey is to Jerusalem, as the nation of Israel seems to have had a prior knowledge about a possible zombie infection, as they did already bring up some walls. But he gets nothing useful from there, and Jerusalem is also attacked, as the zombies climb over the wall, as they form a ladder by piling on the top of one another. As the ultimate chaos follows, he manages to escape from there by boarding a Belarus Airlines flight with his escort soldier, a journey which is cut short when one of the zombies get to bite an airhostess from where hell breaks loose, and Gerry manages to throw a grenade which divides the plane into two and leads to a crash from which the two survive. They finally reach a World Health Organization research facility and assists them in finding a cure, and the find out that the virus needs people who are healthy, and those ill and therefore unsuitable as hosts for viral reproduction are not bitten, and are rather more invisible than anything else. This camouflage helps them to fight zombies, and that should save the day for the world, but the war would continue, as it might seem to the audience. There might be a question though, about this being all that we have been waiting for.

The huge pile-up of cars and the zombie attack in the beginning as well as the Jerusalem zombie attack forms the highlights of the movie. But it remains without enough moments when these two sequences are removed. The attack on the plane is the only other thing worth mentioning. Brad Pitt has done a great job to add to it. He plays an effective character, and without him, this movie would have surely collapsed. The zombies are fine, with their own pros and cons added in this one. But this movie remains slow, and without a good enough reason other than Brad Pitt to attract the viewers. All the awesomeness which was expected to follow after the initial zombie attack never comes, and as it doesn’t attempt to do anything extraordinary, the expectations are scattered and the 3D glasses are wasted. The catchy dialogues might be about the mother nature being a serial killer and how she disguises her strengths and weaknesses. The noises that the zombies make are somewhat attractive too. I would still prefer the zombies and special effects of Resident Evil, and it is a little depressing that this one lacks action, but the advantage is that this one is closer to reality and there is absolutely no exaggeration at any point of time.

The movie is just a little scary and a little thrilling. It might be the slowest zombie movie of the recent times and the most realistic of them all – it is an exaggeration, as these hardly get close enough to reality to be identified with. This world war of the zombies never tries to expand its entertainment elements beyond what is ordinary. It could have been its achievement, but for now, it is clearly working against it. Zombies and vampires have been too commericalized these days, and when the entertainment value is somewhat drained from it, there is only a little to gain. If this was about the wars from A to Z, and this one is the final one of them, there could have been a slightly better chance. World War Z does its job and there is no denying it. With Brad Pitt’s never ceasing charm and acting, and the realistic portrayal of a supernatural world stained with scientific curiosities, this one can go the distance, and stay there until something bigger comes its way and take over. One should choose to watch this one for the one leading actor who carries the movie on his shoulders, and a zombie world which takes a different stance. It is a war which this movie got to face now, as a certain amount of uncertainty is ready to pounce over it.

Release date: 21st June 2013
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Marc Forster
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, Daniella Kertesz, David Morse

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Hotel Transylvania

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This review features the major excerpts from the interview with Count Dracula by the Vampire Bat during the last full moon night when both the Vampire Crocodile and the Vampire Owl were able to predict what was to expect in the movie After Earth and initiated a cryo-sleep on themselves to save themselves from visiting the theatres, something of which they are incapable. Any relation to any person living, dead, undead, going to die, half-dead, partially alive or those watching Malayalam new generation rom-shit movies/Hindi supposed-to-be-romantic movies (Eg: Annayum Rasoolum/Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani) might be a co-incidence and never practical. To add to it, no vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, monsters or aliens (both Avatar blue and general green) were harmed while this interview was going on, but there is no guarantee about what happened after that. Well, this is that kind of an animated movie which can’t stand alone without Count Dracula, the supposed to be proud owner of Hotel Transylvania, where the world’s most awesome monsters can get away from human civilization and take rest. No, he is not the one who should not be named, so lets not call him just “D” or “CD”, and lets get on with what he thought about this flick.

Count Dracula: Oh its you again. Welcome to Hotel Transylvania! No, wait, welcome to Dracula castle. Hope you will never enjoy your stay here and get lost as soon as possible. You called my place a hotel in your letter – how can you even think so? I have a reputation to keep here, and movies like Twilight and whatever followed already took away half of it, and I am adjusting with whatever is left. Do I look pale? Do I sparkle right now? It has been so difficult to keep up with the new vampire fake myths. Nobody thinks that I am a vampire any more. To add to it, they are using the names like ward and swan related to vampires. And now, you come here with your fangs thinking this is a hotel. This is the worst thing that has happened to me since Twilight, New Moan, Ellipsis and Breaking Teeth – I lose my mind thinking about them and can’t even pronounce them right! Make it quick, Vampire Brat!

Vampire Bat: Well, this is the seven hundred and twenty seventh time in he last five hundred and one years of acquaintance that I am telling you that it is not the Vampire Brat, but the Vampire Bat. The “R” is not there ; it doesn’t even exist. Where do you think you are? In The Matrix trying to be Neo and bend the spoon even as there is actually no spoon? Is that what you want?

Count Dracula: Neo and spoon! Can I feed a little bit of that Neo thing in the spoon to my Zombie Dog who is caught in a loop chasing that local Vampire Cat for eternity? He can’t even stop for death; isn’t that the worst thing that can happen to anybody?

Vampire Bat: The first thing is that I hate that dog. The second thing is that there is no time. The third thing is about your home and your lovely monster friends who come to visit you very often.

Count Dracula: You are talking about Frank frankie freak? Frankenstein’s monster as you call him, is my oldest and the best friend even as he belongs to the zombie category which gives him reservation. He used to get thirty five marks moderation in his exams for which the pass mark for his category was twenty five. We vampires used to be given a maximum of thirty five out of hundred in all exams so that the balance was maintained! He even passed the interview for the job at The Demon’s Keep soul ferry service by only pretending to apply for it. But he is a good friend as I can murder him so many times and he won’t mind as he is already ugly and dead.

Vampire Bat: This doesn’t really feature in the movie, and I would like to stick to it. Your best friends include Wayne the werewolf, Frank the zombie, Griffin the invisible man and Murray the mummy. Your wife was murdered by a mob who set fire to your house and it was for your daughter Mavis that you built this hotel, I mean castle.

Count Dracula: That doesn’t make any sense as I was never married and neither did I have a daughter. I do call doctors here though, most are dentists. Do you like my golden tooth or the silver one? Never mind, please continue, as I like that story even as it is in no way related to me as a vampire.

Vampire Bat: On your daughter’s 118th birthday, you use your zombie minions to trick her and make her stay away from the humans whom you consider dangerous. But a human named Jonathan arrives, and you are forced to make him look like a monster to the other monsters to save your hotel. But soon, your daughter becomes attracted to him and the rest is history. Any part of this which you agree to?

Count Dracula: None of it. This mortal-immortal love story is the worst thing in the world. But I am glad that they didn’t add wolves to it this time. There is still a little bit of attraction which even a vampire would feel to such a simple, and yet different story. Was the movie a good watch for you?

Vampire Bat: I think it was very good during most of the parts. But the death of that mortal and Mavis living the right immortal life would have made it more interesting. She is the most evil one among the monsters as she chooses to go after a mentally retarded creature of modernity who doesn’t care about anybody but himself and his personified stupidity, a characteristic which changes only by his stay with the Count. She will surely be in hell for making such a nasty decision out of pure selfishness, but as it is fiction, let her rest in hell, for that Lucifer, Belzebub and Mephistopheles won’t mind. The visuals were pretty good, but the characters were kind of shallow. You are kind of strange in that movie and so is your daughter. To be frank, none of the monsters retain their basic qualities except for the looks which are made funnier, and this fun is the bright side along with the variety which has been brought.

Count Dracula: I would watch it then. I have many ways of watching a movie undetected by the humans at their own places. Do you think it deserves me by its portrayal of the great Count Dracula of Transylvania?

Vampire Bat: I would say yes. You have been depicted more good than ever, which is not always a bad thing. It is shown that you are a loving and caring father, and also has concern for the fellow monsters. You would even do anything to make all which you believe happen. If you can forget the funny part as just part of the complete fun, you surely won’t find it humiliating or anti-vampire.

Count Dracula: I shall watch it on next full moon with Frank. I trust you on this, and if you fail me, I shall make you watch some movies of nothingness – like that Malayalam movie Kili Poyi.

Vampire Bat: I have watched it and died many times in my immortal hours, Count. Now, it is the time to take my leave, until we collide on a hunt again. Good bye, Count.

Count Dracula: Good bye, brother; for now.

Vampire Bat (to himself): It might have been sad for such a legendary Gothic horror character to live through something as modern and horribly romantic as Twilight. The same would have happend to the Frankenstein monster as well as the Mummy, but in a lesser manner. This movie doesn’t give him his lost glory, but it surely does provide an alternative to Twilight for the faint-hearted ones who can’t really handle the supreme vampire with all his horrifying powers.

There a few things which are to be kept in mind while going for this movie. It has great animation, and the way in which each monster is detailed needs special mention, especially the Mummy and the Frankenstein monster. But the plot doesn’t stay that powerful, and there is the lack of use of the evil side of each and every monster except Quasimodo whose dark side is not that black to be explored in such a way. The characters are not that strong enough to create a grand experience. It is perfect for the kids with its lovable characters who show no shade of their original evil, and the love between a mortal and an immortal would interest many, as a Twilight inverse made in a cute way. Even Count Dracula gets his due, still not in the way he might have wanted; yet, works in the right manner. But, each and every second, you know what is going to happen, and there are no surprises in this one. If you are expecting something like Megamind, Monsters v/s Aliens, Finding Nemo or Kung Fu Panda, you are going to be disappointed. The attempt is still good, and I would wait for its sequel supposed to release on September 25, 2015 – lets see how much they can improve on this beginning. Adam Sandler voices Count Dracula and Selena Gomez is the daughter Mavis; that should add to the need for watching the movie.

Release date: 28th September 2012
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
Starring (voice): Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Cee Lo Green

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Cabin in the Woods

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On one of those days which supported flashbacks in a big way, I could unintentionally fall into the wonderful trap of horror which was this movie. In this trap that is a horror movie, there was another world, which had a lot from the former horror movies, thus serving as a tribute along with being a great horror treat. It is a perfect story of five friends who become part of a perfectly executed horror reality in an environment which is more of a cage – they are watched through hidden cameras, and are made to act in the way the people watching them wants them to act. But the fact remains that this not just a horror movie, as it drains energy from the earlier slasher movies and along with paying homage to them, there is a little bit of satire involved in the treatment. There are elements of The Evil Dead, Hellraiser, as well as all the vampire, zombie and werewolf movies, and not even leaving the mythological as well as the natural beasts behind. The movie has combined all of these to create an astonishing effect, a mixture which can be scary and creepy enough as well as funny enough. It leaves the horror movies with lots of nostalgia with all these, and there might surely be pure satisfaction on most of those faces. This is a mixture which leaves a long-lasting impression on one.

Five college students Dana Polk (Kristen Connolly), Jules Louden (Anna Hutchison), Holden McCrea (Jesse Williams), Marty Mikalski (Fran Kranz) and Curt Vaughan (Chris Hemsworth) travells to a remote cabin in the distant woods away from civilization for a vacation. But the abandoned cabin is more of a controlled environment, as a number of people manage whatever happens in that cabin as they view each and every incident in there with hidden cameras. It is seen that they have an influence throughout the area and not just the cabin. They also give drug the students to reduce their awareness and capability to think in a rational manner. A cellar opens automatically which they feel a result of the wind. Inside the cellar, they find many strange items, including a diary of Patience Buckner, a girl who was abused by her sadistic family. Reciting a Latin incantation from the diary, Dana accidentally summons the whole Buckner family in the form of the walking dead, a group of zombies. Jules is the first one to be killed by the zombies outside, and soon the cabin is attacked by the monsters. With a number of people frequently monitoring and guiding the monsters, as well as trying to weaken the possibilities of the remaining four friends in surviving the horror, it will be a perfect hell-ride for each of them, and escaping the living dead might be more difficult than death itself.

The movie keeps giving that feeling of The Evil Dead throughout its first few minutes in the cabin. There is going to be a little bit of a spoiler from now on, and the base of this movie lies on ritual sacrifice. This is about the need to appease the ancient gods, resembling more of giant monsters who live beneath the facility under the cabin and are kept there in satisfaction by these rituals. The sacrifice should have five constituents, the Whore (Jules), the Athlete (Curt), the Scholar (Holden), the Fool (Marty) and the Virgin (Dana), and the Virgin is supposed to die last with the process usually starting with the Whore. All of these begin with the future victims choosing their method of torment and death, in this case the diary of Patience Becker. They are lead to choosing these, and being unaware through the careful tactics of the people in control, who always check the camera for each move, and manipulate the environment so that the victims will fo what they want, including opening a door or window as well as closing it, or drugging them. Another person could have unleashed the Lord of Pain, a vampire, a merman, an anaconda or a werewolf – the list is almost endless as these creatures are all locked away in the facility.

Kristen Connolly as Dana Polk a.k.a the Virgin; the first movie I ever watched starring her, and she is one of the characters who are in control, keeping within the limits, thus surviving much longer. Even as she keeps tp herself, she is still part of the gang, very unlike Amber Heard’s character in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. But it is debatable if she is really a virgin from what they talk about in the beginning of the movie. She does seem surprised when the director mentions her as the Virgin, and the facility had to admit that they work with what they have, which should imply that she was clearly the better of the two, consider the character of her only female friend in the gang. Jesse Williams as Holden McCrea a.k.a the Scholar is her lover in a relationship which seems hundred percent platonic for now. He works as the perfect gentleman who doesn’t force her into anything and even decides not to look at Dana’s nudity through a one-way mirror and alerts her of the vision he is having in the other room while she undresses. There he also put a block on the desire of the facility’s employees who are watching the same scene to see something. But he is still proud and very confident about his skills, which doesn’t really serve him that well when affected by the drugs.

Chris Hemsworth as Curt Vaughan a.k.a the Athlete is the strongest member of the group, and is extremely confident about his power, and this confidence leads to his death. Anna Hutchison as Jules Louden a.k.a the Whore is a character which proves to be closest to the title from the beginning itself, and even solves the employers’ sadness of seeing no nudity. Her death occurs right after she undresses, about to make out with her boyfriend Curt, as she has completed her role as the archetype which is seen in most of the horror movies. She had already done a sexy dance and even kissed a wolf-head on the wall before this, thus reiterating her position as the one stereotype, the immoral one who gets killed first, and at its perfection, when topless – the facility works with what they had, and therefore, considering her abstinence and also her relationship with the lover, Dana had to be the Virgin, and therefore, Jules had to be the Whore. In that case, even Holden is not too less of an athlete and just loses out to Curt. These roles might have been assigned by the facility’s helper at the petrol pump, who already called Jules by the same title. The employees looking to the screen and waiting for her bare bosom or even extended nudity as well as the betting is less a result of their prejudice and more based on what information the man outside had already given them.

Fran Kranz as Marty Mikalski a.k.a the Fool is the most intelligent one among them all, and the only one without a heroine; no Virgin and no Whore. He is more of the lone wolf who still sticks to the gang without any problem. As he is always on drugs, the drugging never really works on him and he remains in control of his full brain. He might be the first person ever to kill a zombie out there, or at least semi-murder or half-murder those undead creatures. He doubts the presence of puppeteers around right from the beginning, which Dana acknowledges only after the death of Curt. He also saves Dana from sure death in the hands of a zombie. His intellect seems to be more based on movies, and not what is taught in the school and the college which might have helped him to guess things that others couldn’t in such an environment of horror. With his limited arsenal, he has humiliated both the Hercules equivalent and the Socrates equivalent in survival, and he still had remaining darts in his quiver. He even fooled the experts who spent most of their lives in front of the camera, and thus even faked his death, something which might have been unintentional, but still, perfect.

Well, other than the facts that the monster details are awesome, and the leading ladies do a great job along with looking stunning, the more interesting thing is the philosophy involved in it. The gods who are kept underground by ritual sacrifice are more like the viewers who need those good doses of movies in a certain pattern, and the breaking of that pattern might destroy the movie by depriving it of the common viewers, but the gods are change, and variety would come in another generation of movies. May be for a change, the Whore survives, or the whole situation might be reversed. In the case of the giant monstrous gods coming out of the ground to destroy humanity, as the Fool would agree at any point of time, there is the need for another species to be given a chance where humanity failed in its treatment of its own species as well as nature. This movie is a surprise, and it leaves so much for its viewers, to find and deconstruct in their own world, as the gods that they are, and not as the voyeurs who look on the screen from darkness with full confidence that nobody is watching them. There are so many possibilities for imagination related to this movie, and the movie audience got the power. It would have surely been a grand success if its had released here, but what to do for people who can’t even release Evil Dead.

Release date: 13th April 2012
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed by: Drew Goddard
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Amy Acker, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mama

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This one goes back a little to the past in this year itself, and this is one of those movies which could easily initiate such a sequence in the eternal time machine. This is rather more of the present than the past, as it doesn’t really go back that far if there is an intellectual consideration in depth. It was different in being different, and therefore its influence had to be such a lasting thing. There is one point where all the interest about this movie begins, and that is when one reads these lines from its cover – “Presented by Guillermo del Toro, creator of Pan’s Labyrinth“. He serves as executive producer, and as far as it is known, the movie is based on a 2008 short film of the same name in Spanish, about which there is nothing more to shoot in the quiver which is short of its crossbow bolts from that part of the world. The movie comes up with the dark tale of two little girls left in a seemingly abandoned cabin in the woods, taken care of by an unknown person or creature that they call Mama, and the same entity even follows the girls to their new home to which their father’s brother takes them after finding them as two feral children.

During a financial crisis, a disappointed and depressed man, Jeffrey Desange (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), kills his business partners and wife before taking his little children Victoria and Lilly away from home. Driving too fast on a road paved by snow and upset with all the thoughts about his failures and the crimes he had committed, the car slides off the path and crashes in the woods. Jeffrey takes the children and walks away from civilization, finally reaching something that seems to be an abandoned cabin. He plans to murder his daughters and commit suicide with a gun, but then a mysterious figure arrives in time to instantly kill him and it also feeds the two children. Victoria talks about the figure as a woman whose legs don’t touch the ground. Then the scene shifts to five years later, with Jeffrey’s brother, the kids’ uncle Lucas Desange (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), living with his girlfriend Annabel Moore (Jessica Chastain). They don’t live under good conditions, but Lucas haven’t lost hope about finding the children of his brother. He still sponsors search parties hoping to find some trace of his brother and children.

One of them find the children alive in the same cabin, but dirty, half-naked, horribly thin and with an animal-like behaviour – walking on four legs and talking like making some strange noises. The girls are put under the care of psychatirst Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash). They keeps talking about someone called “Mama”. He feels that it is just a creation of the girls’ minds as they were alone in the woods without help. But soon, Lucas is attacked by the same shadowy figure known as Mama and enters a comma. Annabel is forced to take care of the girls all by herself even as Mama’s visits continue. Annabel does get close to the elder child, Victoria, but Lilly remains hostile and highly attached only to Mama. Meanwhile, Gerald finds out something about this mysterious figure from the clues which Victoria gave away. Mama is a mother separated from her child – she used to be Edith Brennan, a mental asylum inmate in the 1800s. He also finds a box containing an infant’s remains from that former mental asylum which was kept as her belonging there. Meanwhile, Annabel has a nightmare revealing Mama’s past which reveals more about her. Lucas also has a disturbing dream of his dead brother Jeffrey telling him to save his kids.

But there might have been more about Mama that what met the eye. She is undoubtedly supernatural as well as tormented. The problem remained if she is normal and thus if she is reasonable. The psychatrist might have thought so, but the experience doesn’t go well for him. Even Lucas and his wife has to go through near-death experiences. So the question would be more about “why mama why?” rather than “who is mama?”. Well, mama is undoubtedly a former mother who no longer exists as a human mother. The nature of her strange love for her child is evident from her asylum background. The question might be about how much torment a mentally unstable ghost can cause to a group of normal, living people. That would be a lot of it, much more than what the mentally unstable father of two little children could do. How much is the chance of one making peace with her? It wasn’t possible when she was alive, and considering the fact that she is more motivated by the love for children rather than anything else, the solution becomes even more complicated in the human world.

Mama is a visual treat of a horror film, and not part of the gory ones which take over in the usual style. There is a well-created world of horror right in front of you all the time, and then suddenly there is a scene that takes your breath further away and then it goes back to normal to await the next thing. Welcome to this story of old-style less bloody horror movie of low gore level. There are signs of Guillermo del Toro’s magical extravaganza Pan’s Labyrinth or El laberinto del fauno, are evident in both the characters as well as the environment. There is the feeling of a dark fantasy through out and there is the lack of sunshine which is more motivating than the depressing thing which it might have become, which is a success in all ways. It’s just how horror films should be, without using any cheap or low class tricks. The looks of Mama is also a revelation, as she emerges from the walls or closet, sometimes suddenly and on other occasions as if part of all the horror that surrounds them. The use of moths to show Mama’s presence is a further effective thing, as it shows more of her tormented sould which is not completely evil, thus owl, crow or bat not chosen; neither is the wolf or cat given a chance at it. Mama is more of a butterfly rather than anything else, but a fierce one.

The movie’s dark world move along the path of Pan’s Labyrinth, but it is still not of that class of ultimate perfection and awesomeness, and still is close enough. It meets Hansel and Gretel in its witch-like creature who is less of a ghost and more of an undead freak of nature. There it shows the qualities of The Orphan meeting The Grudge and The Ring in a good way. Mama could have even made a good creature in Alien or The Exorcist, and the creature’s success is in its strange, but “suitable for almost every genre” looks. She is a dark fairy, the nature’s spectre, the tormented undead mother and the dark elf. She belongs to nature and as a creature to the living, she is more moth or a group of moths rather than anything else. They signify her presence, and if she takes the children with her, there will be more moths for sure. There is the positive thing – the innovation, for how the ghost is treated around here with a difference. The movie is fresh in its treatment of a new ghostly creature with heavy parental instincts. Such a creature is not onne would expect in such a movie, and until it appears everything might look more psychological than supernatural, even if the signs are already there from the beginning itself.

While Mama is a benevolent spirit when it comes to two children, but she is a malevolent and even a death-dealer with everyone else. She hasn’t yet become pure evil, even as her allignment away from goodness and sanity is clear by the climax scene. Even her unseen presence suggests the same. Her moths symbolize the little beauty that she has lost to death and decay and the beautiful world which was lost to her more due to the people around rather than her own madness. There are no usual suspects of the common supernatural, as there is only the variation which is Mama. The movie is very much dependent on your taste to survive, but the fact remains that it is more close to being suitable for all people with not that much blood and gore, or the display of any kind of nudity – well, this one never needed it considering its content and presentation. There is not much of a male gaze or a possible female gaze working out in this one. It is story of an undead mother’s love and with the addition of insanity to it, there is a lot to think about. There is no compromise in being spooky or creepy enough though.

Release date: 18th January 2013
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet, Jane Moffat

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Silent Hill II

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This is the time for flashback, to a few months ago. This is the time when the thirst for horror has reached its zenith. This movie series itself is a legend in quenching this thirst, as it comes up with that horror which is so difficult to fathom as a simple horror fan. The movie is not just an enigma, for it gives everything away; but the problem is about what we take in. I have to admit that I am at loss; for none of the horror movies came here this year; guess they can’t take the terror from Hollywood, and it must be so beyond them. Did the good horror die a painful death? The answer would be no, as I would try to resurrect this one out of my mind and have that vision of horror which the critics never liked, but I enjoyed without that sceptical mind. There will be no bones scattered and no blood spilled in the review; there would be the horror of returning to the Silent Hill that will be horrifying enough. There will be pain and suffering, for this dimension is not for the faint-hearted. Well, one just doesn’t go to Silent Hill on vacation and come back refreshed with a heart full of immense happiness and pleasure, so as if there was the chance to dance with the daffodils. They can still flash upon that inward eye and fill the world with fear; for nightmares of the night are outdated and those of the day take over.

Welcome to Silent Hill. Welcome to the fictional foggy American town of Silent Hill far beyond the reach of the electronic equipments, and its dark alternate dimension. There is the original world and the Otherworld, both separated by nothing but time. The Silent Hill has a cult, “The Order” which does ritual human sacrifices and awaits the rise of their diety, something which could be equated with the anti-christ. But the concepts of good and evil are inversed in this Otherworld of Silent Hill, and they would stop at nothing to bring the goodness that is pure evil upon Earth. They have their priestess and the good amount of blind followers. Their attempt to create the pseudo-paradise on Earth will unleash the inferno, or the original hell on the planet. It shall be the beginning of the end. Considering such a background which is firmly based on a highly successful video game, people tend to expect more, which would lead to disappointment. But as long as this one is considered, what it does is performing its duty to its genre and scare as much as possible; its scary elements remain strong, and may be it works even better than its predecessor. Everything else will slowly come into terms as the base is still strong, even as the influence is less.

Continuing from where the first part had left off, Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell) has managed to save her daughter from Silent Hill, even though she gets caught in that dimension. She made the choice so that the girl as well as her world would be safe from whatever evil lurks inside the foggy dimension of the abandoned town. But the horrors of the alternate dimension hasn’t left Sharon Da Silva (Adelaide Clemens) who is currently living as Heather Mason with her adoptive father Christopher Da Silva (Sean Bean) in another town, as they go on changing places every now and then making sure that the people from the cult of Silent Hill won’t find her. But she is plagued by consistent hallucinations and nightmares, and she even feels the shift from this world to the other. She still believes that they are on the move because her father killed a man in self-defense and the police are seeking him. She is also made to believe that her adoptive mother Rose had died in a car crash. Now, as time has passed and she has grown older, the cult has increased the frequency of their search for her.

Heather fails to belong to the class or the school where she studies, and successfully becomes a complete outsider right from the beginning itself with a speech warning the other students against befriending her. She is approached by a private investigator named Douglas Cartland (Martin Donovan) who explains to her that he was hired by the Order to find Heather, but has decided to help her as he come to know some disturbing information about his clients. He also tells her that she is not what she thinks she is, and the life she is living is more of a lie than anything else. Heather is curious, but before he tells more about it, a fierce demon from the other world, the Missionary, kills Douglas, and Heather becomes a suspect to his murder as all the clues point to her. She finds that her father is missing, and at home, she finds a message instructing her to go to Silent Hill. She learns the truth about the place by reading a letter from her father, and decides to go to Silent Hill to rescue him even as the letter prohibited her from going anywhere near the foggy town.

Her classmate Vincent (Kit Harington) who helps her throughout reveals that he is the son of the cult’s leader Claudia Wolf (Carrie-Anne Moss), and was there to convince her to willingly come to Silent Hill, as it would really work if she is forced to be there. But he changes his mind and wants her to survive and therefore he tries to stop her in her attempts to rescue her father. He further tells her that Heather is actually a part of Alessa Gillespie, a girl who was burnt thirty eight years ago by the same cult but never died, leading her to create the town’s shifting dimensions. Heather is the manifestation of Alessa’s remaining innocence and goodness, as the other side knows only pain and suffering inflicted upon herself as well as the others of the town. A quick shift to the Otherworld occurs unexpectedly, and Vincent is dragged away by the same demon, Missionary. Heather enters the other dimension to find her dad as well as Leonard along with knowing more about herself. This is where the next level of horror begins.

I have believed in Silent Hill as much as I had in Resident Evil, as a computer game. The latter had been with me till Resident Evil 4 and has been my favourite video game adaptation so far along with Hitman and Tomb Raider, and the former is more of memories, mostly of Silent Hill 3 which was similar enough to this movie title. For me, this genre of fear was mostly about Undying, the first graphically good enough horror game which I had played. Well, these three games together make such an impact which nothing else can; the horror is possibly better than most of the horror movies around. The world of gaming has almost ended for me, even as there is a little dose of Age of Empires, Age of Wonders and Unreal Tournament at times – who can forget the classics, right? I would wait for the release of the games based on Need For Speed, Deus Ex, Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed though, for they have memories of the other dimension, that reality where I spent a good amount of my life. There is another parallel world, that of computer games, and some games like Silent Hill got another reality inside its reality; sounds complicated enough. But the question would be about which reality being the most evil of them all, and the present human world qualifies for a race to that position.

For a movie made more for maximum horror than anything else, this one has done a very good job. If you are looking for ambiguities, come with a big truck as there might be a huge load of them. Well, it works on parallel universe or alternative reality. When a video game based horror movie deals with the self-contained separate reality which co-exists, there is always going to be loose-ends. Even the first half had its own collection of ambiguities, some which has carried over to this sequel. We can still consider the Silent Hill as that alternate reality which always co-exists, as a place for those belonging to the evil, for they are there even without themselves knowing. For them, it should be the original place and where they live should be their Silent Hill where they do not belong; a place which scares them with the goodness. But considering where the world is going, there is going to be the same reality here and there. There will be two Silent Hills and the choice would create more ambiguities. Still, this alternate reality helps one to live another life, something different, but all the online world which creates a second life can turn into another Silent Hill all of a sudden. It is always about faith which keeps the Silent Hills away, or without evil.

Release date: 26th October 2012
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Michael J. Bassett
Starring: Adelaide Clemens, Sean Bean, Carrie-Anne Moss, Kit Harington, Deborah Kara Unger, Martin Donovan, Malcolm McDowell, Radha Mitchell

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Up and Down

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We all get stuck in the lift. Those who haven’t are the ones who are waiting to get stuck there. Two years after the release of his Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty, this director has returned with what is listed as a psychological thriller – Up & Down: Mukalil Oralundu, which deals with the same issue. But I would not say that it is psychological, as it is more of a murder investigation; a suspense thriller of the recent Mumbai Police model, but the style resembles Banking Hours 10 to 4. But this surely has a good advantage over that; the advantage of the powerful base plot which forms the undercurrents. But the question would be about how it surfaces and faces those ships and boats, the critics and the common man who watches them after watching Neram, English and Mumbai Police in the other theatres. The more famous movie review sites doesn’t seem to have taken this one well, but as long as I am concerned, this is surely above average, and this successfully entertains more than any other Malayalam movie after the age of Amen. Even with its flaws, and the times when sharks become little crocodiles, this wide sea of thrills manages to make an impact on the viewers.

The whole thing happens in the tallest building in the city, a flat where a major event is taking place at the top, that is the twenty fourth floor. There is a lot of preparation going on, and there are many important guests arriving on the day. But it is not in a room, in a hall or at the premises of the flat that the story takes place, as the film is a story of eight people and a kid who gets stuck in the lift on a day when there is a major program there. The trapped people include the lift operator of the flat (Indrajith), the city police commissioner (Ganesh Kumar), the flat’s builder and a major businessman (Baiju), his wife who is a dancer and is dressed for an item in the program (Remya Nambeesan), an alcoholic writer and a stoic personality with a “Carpe diem” attitude to life (Prathap Pothen), an IT professional who plays the role of Godse in a drama for the program and also the secretary of the residents association of the apartment (Rejith Menon), his girl friend and the one in charge of the program (Sruti Menon), a former NRI from the United States who play the role of Mahatma Gandhi for the program’s drama item (Nandhu) and a little kid (Master Devaraman).

The writer keeps telling everyone that he reached there early morning; the kid keeps enquiring about his mother (Meghana Raj) and the lift operator himself tells the police commissioner about his doubts on the missing person. They are on their way to the top of the flat for the program when the lift gets stuck. The man who comes to repair the lift is an alcoholic (Koch Preman) and this delays the process further. The lift has a lot of problems, and this time, it causes bigger trouble as the function has to begin, and soon the writer has chest pain. They also find that there is a dead body on the top of the lift, and the police commisioner guesses that one of the people in the lift is responsible for the murder. He pledges to find the real victim before the lift is opened. But the question remains if it is possible in such a small space with so many people being related to the murdered person in one way or the other. The talks and actions of the people in the lift keeps on raising more and more suspicions. Even the investigator and the most respected people in the lift doesn’t seem to the kind of righteous people who can’t commit a brutal murder. Slowly, a good number of secrets are revealed, which would change their lives once they get out of the trapped area.

This one is more of Meghana Raj’s movie than anybody else. She is present in most of the flashbacks where the core of the movie is revealed. It might also be Ganesh Kumar’s best police role ever. Indrajith has very little to do as the serious lift operator who never has a moment of happiness in life. Prathap Pothen has the most interesting role in the movie, as an alcoholic who enjoys his life without worrying about the past, present or future. He provides the best comic relief with Nandhu. In many ways, this might be one of the most interesting intellectual alcoholics, a reminder of the wise fools of William Shakespeare (that was a little far-fetched) who provides those funny lines as well as the words of wisdom. It is the strangeness of his character that works the best in a situation of being trapped in such an environment. His character is most well-drawn, and the rest are just a little less developed. Some of them really don’t have any interesting character traits at all. The presence of flat characters subtract some points from the situation, and the scenes outside the lift losses in comparison to what happens inside the lift.

So where does the 2010 American supernatural thriller film come into the picture? No, The Night Chronicles: Devil doesn’t really come into the scene here. It had the supernatural within modern city life while this one has the usual crime within the modern urban life. There is no people getting killed one at a time, and there is surely no devil. The only common thing is the lift and the only similar event is the people getting trapped in the lift. So there is no place for Lucifer, Beelzebub, Satan or whoever he is. But in a world where the humans can do his job better than him, who needs that personality from the depths of the pain’s own abyss called inferno? There are satan’s little helpers who are both intellectually and spiritually better people of evil than the prince of darkness and eternal pain. Well, this one is successful in building that tension which remains there for most of the time. It is close to being brain dead in the end due to its attempt to come up with something strange and the requirement of another twist, but still, considering the fact that we have seen much worse Malayalam movies, and the greatest disasters of the Malayalam movie industry, this is not at all a bad thing in its glory.

The movie would have been better if the creators had simply forgotten about everything outside the lift and there were more incidents inside rather than the outside. That would have been more of the psychological piece as expected. May be the makers thought that the common movie watcher of this world who hasn’t watched movies like Buried might not stand a chance if they had to face with a monotonous environment such as a plain lift. The need for some colourful factors always comes to the scene when entertaining crowd-puller movies are considered. The movie’s subtitle “Mukalil Oralundu” would signify God, but there is no such direct involvement. The operation of the lift can be related to that divinity, but it is not something that can be directly connected. If the title means the dead body on the top, that would make more sense, but that would turn the usage into a rather funny thing. The more interesting thing might be about considering the lift as a character, which works as it wants itself to. Such a thing can’t be avoided even if that factor is also not explored. The supernatural clearly takes the backseat when the not-so-natural human beings takes control and leads the way.

To be frank, I have been waiting for this one for quite a long time, as the release date was changed from 17th May to 24th May; something unusual for me to long for a movie which had no special cast or nothing to boast about – I was impressed by the trailer and this being a thriller added to the longing. But the movie doesn’t seem to give what the trailer conveys to the viewer. The mystery should have been a little more bifurcating for my mind if it was so. But here, the mystery is straight, but still strange. This suspense works very powerfully throughout the first half and the movie soars high despite of some small troubles, and goes through with half of the second half without too much trouble, but it is the end that fails to justify the means. It was as if everything was made just to make the end happen, or the finish was just made for the movie to end. It is somewhat uninspiring, but everything else throughout the movie is worth all the attention. It might not be what one expect after watching the best of the world, but with the limited resources, it has been turned into something which can be watched for the fun and thrills, especially that first half which keeps one guessing about what happens next, or what can’t happen next.

Release date: 24th May 2013
Running time: 115 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: T. K. Rajeev Kumar
Starring: Indrajith Sukumaran, Meghana Raj, Prathap Pothen, Remya Nambeesan, K. B. Ganesh Kumar, Baiju, Nandhu, Sruti Menon, Rejith Menon, Master Devaraman, Kochu Preman, Vijayakumar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Django Unchained

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The Vampire Bat knew only one Django and was planning to give him knighthood for being such a wonderful coffin-dragger. It would have been an awesome feeling to have one’s own coffin. What about the awesome graves where he could have worked with the Ghost Rider with a stylish motor-bike or a horse-on-fire burning bright? This bat has always dreamt about those coffins, graves and wastelands along with ghost towns. But he could get none of them in this one. Still, there were those strange horses which were not really on fire. May be this new breed of horses could go to school and end up as smart toothless people. Well, they would still be highly vulnerable to being shot by the new Django who can shoot like a gun’s ghost in a human-spirit form who has come back to seek revenge. The number of vengeful spirits never seem to throw the Vampire Bat into that bloody abyss of nonstop boredom, as he had so much of those intolerant revenge stories that he could see only one side of this world which is full of evil and supposed-to-be-evil followed by glorified revenge full of blood and scattered body parts which might have brought the most evil vampire and the most stupid zombie into that Ring girl’s well of eternal shame.

What the Vampire Bat had was a Mango Icecream so that it could rhym with the movie, and that was indeed a success and would later prove to be an even better experience than the movie itself. The movie starts with the shots of several male slaves being chained and transported to work in a possible plantation which run on slave labour. Among the slaves is Django (Jamie Foxx), who has been sold away from his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) – a name which the Vampire Bat heard as many things other than this certain one. They encounter Doctor King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German dentist and a bounty hunter in the shades of an abandoned area on the way. After getting rid of the trouble from the slave owners, Schultz offers Django his freedom and a reasonably good payment in exchange for helping him track a number of people whom he has been tracing as part of his hunt. After they find and hunt down the targets, Schultz continues with Django as they do the same work. During this period of time, Schultz trains Django in the art of bounty hunting and on using a gun with efficiency.

After collecting a number of bounties and surviving with ease, they go on to free Django’s wife Broomhilda, whose current owner is Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the charming and stylish, but cruel owner of a plantation in Mississippi. They come up with a certain plan to make a big offer for one of the slave fighters of Candie, who fights till death, a offer which he can’t refuse. This catches both the curiousity and attention of the slave owner and he immediately agrees. But the seemingly flawless plan which was so close to success is shattered as the expressions of the two lovers raise the suspicions of Candie’s loyal and senior slave, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) who finds out that Django and Broomhilda know each other very well and that the sale of the slave fighter is just a trick meant to hide another big plan which lies beneath. This is where all the fun ends, and the death of Schultz would leave the Vampire Bat with nobody to root for. From this, the age of boredom begins. There are stupid shootouts and ridiculous explosions, with the presence of “the people of the night cooling glasses” and “the strangest of the strange horses”. The nonsense would reach a new level and ends with a ridiculous smile.

Well, Django’s “D” is silent, as he himself mentions, but the movie is anything but that. There is lot of violence and I am pretty much confident that there is the presence of even more violence around as the Censor Board has surely tried hard to make this PG-13 and give it an 18+ Adult rating in India. Django Freeman is evil, not by choice but by circumstances. He has so much body count that would make Count Dracula and Lestat de Lioncourt retire and beg for mercy from a dead wood elf with no teeth. Meanwhile, Doctor King Schultz is of lesser evil, as he works with his white man’s guilt to save one man, and to save the man’s wife, he loses his life. Now, that should balance his life and make it rather neutral or a little aligned to the side of good. But Django is away from redemption. He chooses the path of revenge without remorse, and thus the path to hell and may be even compete for a hell-hot cup of tea from the hands of the devil. He is highly hostile to anyone of another race, the only exception being the man who saved and trained him; he is also hostile to one person of his race, the man who is loyal to the people of the other race. That brings such a huge equation of race into the situation – bombarded to be exact.

Jamie Foxx’s Django is a very good potrayal, even as the character is at no point likeable – he has done well to make it so. There lies his success of showing the forced evil. Christoph Waltz winning the Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actor would be no surprise to anybody who has watched the movie. His character rules the movie, with the witty dialogues, action and lots of fun. He provides some of the best lighter moments, and also does the serious side with an incredible amount of mastery. Leonardo DiCaprio comes up with the power of extreme evil which seems inherent in the character. He should still be remembered for his Inception and Shutter Island, but this one also comes up with a memory leaf. Samuel L. Jackson hasn’t really fallen behind, as his character makes a powerful impression. Kerry Washington also contributes in the expected way, making this a movie of performances rather than anything else. It is here, in the acting department where the movie scores the most, followed by the one-liners which creates a great first half only to be made powerless by the second part of the second half and the climax scenes.

As far as Quentin Tarantino is concerned, this is still inferior to Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds. Those stand a few Petronas Towers higher than this one. But there is no shortage of blood and violence here too. One has to wonder if these movies should belong to a new bloody genre. There are too many killings and in many sequences, blood and gore has the upper hand and humanity becomes mere spectator in chaos and brutality. There is no sympathy or empathy throughout the movie, especially when the guns take over and spits hell like fire-breathing dragons. Still, its treatment of the racism and slavery could have been better if it was done in a more realistic fashion. Well, not all movies can be “the art”, and this is that moment when the grand wish was to focus more on creating that entertainer which could gross a lot rather than something which could have made humanity aware of the truth. But this shall make the waves, even as not in the way it should have, if thought about from a righteous side – a sad movie for humanity indeed, as even movies like Hostel and Saw knew what was good and evil. Well, one can say that Django Unchained is a true torture porn of the worst level.

The more important of the questions might be about which kind of audience this movie targets. They are surely not for the intellectuals nor for the faint-hearted. The next doubt would be if this is a story of the revenge of a certain race or the story of a pure hearted man of one race helping the man of another race and even facing death in that process. This is surely no respectful treatment of anything, but for the mindless fans with its weird style, glorified violence, senseless admiration and huge historical twists, this might be a treat. There might be disrespect (to which side – or to both?), and there might be too much easiness, but as far as I know, this is a little too much to take as a movie treating such a subject. Satire? May be a little bit, not that much – can we really separate the reality of tragedy to have that feeling? In simple words, one race shedding the blood of others and vice versa – colouring the walls with shades of red is not what I wished for; I would have agreed to the same on some other occasions, but not on this. The movie came to India kind of late, and I am not really unhappy about it, as watching this one late has had its advantages – to hear about it and disagree on many occasions. There is the first half which gave hope, and what follows is not of expectations, and therefore clear thumbs down for the second. Another thing – beware of a drag and length.

PS: My rating for this movie has come down a lot since writing this, but I am not bothering to bring it down just because I don’t want to think about this again. I wish that I had asked only to the right people before watching this movie!

Release date: 22nd March 2013 (India); 25th December 2012 (United States)
Running time: 165 minutes
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar, Michael Parks, Don Johnson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.