Comic Review: Justice League Dark: The Last Days of Magic

Published: July 25th, 2018 – September 26th, 2018
Written by: James Tynion IV
Art by: Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, Brad Anderson

DC Comics, 79 Pages

Review:

Man, this series is a lot of fun and this short, three issue arc was a great kicoff to this new version of the Justice League Dark team.

This squad consists of new leader Wonder Woman, as well as John Constantine, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Man Bat and Detective Chimp. Doctor Fate is also involved but there is a twist to his involvement. By the end of this arc, I’m not sure if he’s going to be a member of this team or not.

These first three issues of Justice League Dark serve to set up a crossover event called The Witching Hour, which just started. It’s a crossover between the regular Wonder Woman comic and Justice League Dark and sees Princess Diana gain some pretty powerful magical abilities that she’s never had before.

I love how dark and how fun this series is. I bought it because I liked the team and every member in it. Granted, I think Man Bat comes off as dumber than he should be, I mean, he’s a brilliant f’n scientist. But I love all these characters and it seems like a really cool and fresh angle for Wonder Woman. I like seeing her tap into the magical parts of her existence. I also like the stuff that was added to her backstory here.

I really dig the new villain that comes out in the third and final issue of the story. He’s creepy as hell but just freaky and badass enough to make things really interesting. Plus, his power level, as far as one can tell from this story, is pretty damn incredible. But this also leads to Wonder Woman evolving into something beyond her own power level. Is this leading to a Dark Phoenix sort of saga for Wonder Woman? It very well could but I don’t want to ruin this for those who want to read it.

James Tynion IV has written a damn fine and damn fun comic book story. I hope that this maintains its great momentum going forward, as it’s one of my favorite comic books being put out by DC, right now.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: The Witching Hour crossover that follows and the original Justice League Dark series.

Film Review: Curse of Chucky (2013)

Also known as: Child’s Play 6 (working title)
Release Date: August 2nd, 2013 (Fantasia International Film Festival)
Directed by: Don Mancini
Written by: Don Mancini
Based on: characters by Don Mancini
Music by: Joseph LoDuca
Cast: Fiona Dourif, Danielle Bisutti, Brennan Elliott, Maitland McConnell, Chantal Quesnel, Summer H. Howell, A Martinez, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly (cameo), Alex Vincent (cameo)

Universal 1440 Entertainment, Universal Pictures, 97 Minutes

Review:

“25 years. Since then a lot of families have come and gone; the Barclays, the Kincaids, the Tillys. But you know Nica, your family was always my favorite. And now, you’re the last one standing… So to speak! [laughs manically, then glares down at Nica]” – Chucky

This came out after a long break from Child’s Play films. The later sequels: Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky got so humorous and weird that the darker spirit of the franchise was gone and the films sort of became parodies of themselves.

Curse of Chucky did a pretty decent job at correcting the tone, as Chucky, while still humorous because he always has been, is much scarier, more evil and also back to being more patient in how he reveals himself to his victims.

The one thing that this picture does really well is suspense. It’s a slow build until we really get to see Chucky at his murderous best. Sure, he kills and at first glance, it might suck that these heinous acts aren’t captured on film as they happen but the wait is worth the payoff, as once Chucky reveals himself to one of the main characters, shit truly hits the fan.

Now the film does feel really confined, as it primarily just takes place within one house. However, this actually benefits the film, as you feel the doom closing in and tightening its grip. Add in the fact that the main character is stuck in a wheelchair in a multilevel house and you really feel like you’re stuck in a sardine can with a live piranha by the climax. Those two key elevator scenes were fantastic as well and really served to make the environment work for the movie.

It was nice to see Chucky return to a darker, broodier tone. However, the film, sadly, isn’t as fun as the original three. Those still had a real darkness about them but they were more exiting and they have actually aged really well, considering their budget and time of release.

But I think that this and its follow up Cult of Chucky were good entries in the Child’s Play franchise. I had hoped to see more but I guess they’re going to reboot the series in the near future for some dumb reason.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: he Cult of Chucky, it’s direct sequel and the original Child’s Play trilogy when they were still really dark.

Video Game Review: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation)

There are lots of great video games over all consoles and platforms, spanning five decades. Few, however, are actual masterpieces. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one of those rare masterpieces.

I can’t say a bad thing about this game. I love it wholeheartedly and playing it in 2018 made me weep for myself, as I haven’t replayed through it enough over the years. This experience though, has assured me that it is something I’ll have to play through over a weekend every couple of years. Man, I really enjoyed stepping back into this for the first time in over ten years. It also made me feel the sense of excitement and awe that I had for it when I first bought it and took it home in 1997.

I have always been a fan of the original three Castlevania games and this takes the best elements of the original trilogy of titles, mixes them together and pushes away all the negative parts.

While most people don’t like Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, I always adored that game and how ambitious it was for the time. That ambition and it’s RPG like style mostly just upset people that wanted it to be more like its predecessor. But Symphony of the Night borrows the RPG elements, throws them in here and presents it all as something closer to Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, which was a much better version of the style of the original game.

Like Simon’s Quest, you have to round up pieces of Dracula’s body in order to fight him. And also like Simon’s Quest, you have the freedom to go where you please and obtaining certain items unlocks access to new areas.

The thing is, and most Americans in 1997 didn’t know this, but Symphony of the Night is actually a direct sequel to Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, which didn’t come out in the States until later and was then renamed Dracula X. I’ve never played Rondo of Blood but now I want to after revisiting this. Rumor has it, that a version of it is being released for PlayStation 4 soon.

Anyway, apart from this tapping hard into Simon’s Quest, I also love how many firggin’ boss fights you get in this game. There are bosses everywhere in the castle. It’s like you can’t go ten minutes without encountering another boss to fight. What’s also great though, is that the classic bosses return, as well. You get to fight the Grim Reaper, Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy and Medusa. You even get the annoying hunchbacks, the pain in the ass gillmen and the mindless zombies, as well as so many other regular enemies that every section of this game is new and fresh.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is absolute perfection in an artistic and interactive medium where such feats are incredibly hard to achieve. Kudos to Konami, as this is one of the best games the studio ever produced and my favorite in the great Castlevania series.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: The original Castlevania trilogy for NES, Super Castlevania IV for SNES, the Gameboy Castlevania games and Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (also known as Dracula X).

Film Review: Slice (2018)

Also known as: Kingfisher (working title)
Release Date: September 11th, 2018 (Internet)
Directed by: Austin Vesely
Written by: Austin Vesely
Music by: Nathan Matthew David, Ludwig Göransson
Cast: Chance Bennett, Zazie Beetz, Chris Parnell, Paul Scheer, Rae Gray, Joe Keery, Hannibal Buress

Frëhand, N2ition Cinema, A24, 83 Minutes

Review:

“Looks like I’m going on a wolf hunt tonight.” – Astrid

I was pretty hyped for this movie when I first saw a trailer for it. It looked low budget and cheesy but it also looked really creative and fun and I’m really liking Zazie Beetz after seeing her in Deadpool 2. Plus, this has Joe Keery in it and he’s my favorite person from Stranger Things.

But sadly, it was a big disappointment.

The film is a comedy horror story but if the comedy doesn’t work, you’ve got one big dud of a movie. Just nothing in this was all that funny and most attempts at trying to be funny where all pretty cringe worthy. It felt like a really stale CBS sitcom without the laugh track.

I mean, sure, it was bloodier than a CBS show with some decent slasher moments but this was poorly written grade school humor that was beneath the talents of most of the people in it. Paul Scheer can be great or he can be terrible but it’s based off of the material he’s given. And really, the same goes for Chris Parnell, whose scenes with the witches were like the worst shit that Saturday Night Live has pumped out in the modern era.

I really wanted to like this because on paper, this very much should have been my cup of tea. Instead, it was a luke warm cup of piss.

Some of the effects were good but it certainly doesn’t live up to the basic standard of what CGI should be in 2018.

Chance Bennett was really the high point of the film but by the time he takes the reins, in the second half, this cat turd was already dried up and ready to be scooped into a bag.

I guess I now know why this got a one night theater run on only a few screens.

If you have to see this, wait till it’s streaming free somewhere. I want my $5 back.

Rating: 4.25/10
Pairs well with: Summer of ’84, Blood Fest and Arizona.

Film Review: Ghoulies II (1987)

Release Date: October 5th, 1987 (video premiere)
Directed by: Albert Band
Written by: Charlie Dolan, Dennis Paoli
Music by: Fuzzbee Morse
Cast: Damon Martin, Royal Dano, Phil Fondacaro, J. Downing, Kerry Remsen, Dale Wyatt, Jon Pennell, Sasha Jenson

Taryn Productions Inc., Empire Pictures, 89 Minutes

Review:

“I am a magician, you sons of bitches. You can’t kill me!” – Uncle Ned

Ghoulies was a stupid, fun movie. It was hardly great and it certainly isn’t a film that will resonate with most people. I like it. However, I haven’t seen any of the sequels in maybe two decades or so. So how would Ghoulies II fair, after having just revisited the first movie?

Well, I actually like this better than the original film. So let me get into why.

First, as bat shit crazy as the first movie was, this chapter in the franchise really ups the ante and succeeds in making a bigger and even more bat shit crazy motion picture.

I love the carnival setting. Having the Ghoulies run rampant in a horror funhouse was fantastic and a nice nod, intentional or not, to the Tobe Hooper film Funhouse. I also like that the monsters eventually “break out” of the funhouse and take over the carnival itself.

This is also the sort of dumb that I can get behind because it does completely nonsensical things, ignores physics and doesn’t give two shits about it. For instance, in one scene, a Ghoulie bites through a power cable to use it to shock and kill a character. A few minutes later, a Ghoulie is shown to have a weakness to electricity. I mean, what the shit? But I love this sort of nonsense in these kind of movies.

A big highlight was also the big finale, where the heroes summon a large Ghoulie that then goes around and eats all the little ones. However, once that’s done, the big Ghoulie wants to eat the humans that summoned him. It’s not what I would call a twist but it isn’t a situation you probably expected to go down in the movie. I loved it, especially the large Ghoulie’s rubber suit.

This is mindless fun for about 90 minutes. While there are probably a hundred ’80s horror movies that are better than this, this one is too stupid to be ignored.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: The other three Ghoulies films, the Munchies films, Hobgoblins and Sorority Babes In the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama.

Video Game: Dragon Warrior (NES)

The original Dragon Warrior or Dragon Quest was the first legit role-playing game that I ever played as a child. I played this before I touched any of the Final Fantasy games and just after I had conquered the original Zelda, which was more of an action RPG.

My childhood best friend and I spent a lot of time on this but we weren’t in a rush. We loved the experience of playing through this and not having the Internet around to walk us through the tough bits. We spent months on this after school but eventually we got to the end and beat the big bad. We actually saved the game in a way that we could both have a shot at fighting the final boss.

Dragon Warrior was such a great experience that I got RPG fever and had to play through its sequels, as well as the Final Fantasy games that came out for the original Nintendo and the Game Boy.

Whenever I play any RPG, I can’t stop myself from comparing it to my experience playing this game. The only other game in the genre that made me feel like this was Final Fantasy VII for the original PlayStation, almost ten years later.

Dragon Warrior was an imaginative game that gave me the Dungeons & Dragons experience that I missed out on because my uber religious mother wouldn’t let me play the “Devil’s Game” with my cousins in the ’80s.

Having just played through this masterpiece again, I was transported back to the late ’80s and felt the excitement and emotion that this gave me back then. Truth be told, I have to fire this up every few years, just to bask in its awesomeness and perfection.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: The other Dragon Warrior a.k.a. Dragon Quest games for the original NES, as well as the NES Final Fantasy games.

Film Review: Ghoulies (1984)

Also known as: Beasties (working title)
Release Date: November 8th, 1984 (UK)
Directed by: Luca Bercovici
Written by: Luca Bercovici, Jefery Levy
Music by: Richard Band, Shirley Walker
Cast: Peter Liapis, Lisa Pelikan, Michael Des Barres, Scott Thomson, Mariska Hargitay, Jack Nance

Ghoulies Productions, Empire Pictures, 81 Minutes

Review:

“They call me Dick, but you can call me… Dick.” – Dick

The Ghoulies films were never something that I was all that into. I watched them a few times in the ’80s and ’90s but there were so many better horror films from those decades, that Ghoulies really got lost in the shuffle and only ever seemed to resurface in my mind whenever someone else brought it up in conversation.

That being said, this is a better movie than I remembered. I can’t say the same about the sequels, as I haven’t revisited them in years but I plan to do so in the near future.

First off, I didn’t even remember that Michael Des Barres was in this. As a kid, I always loved him as Murdoc, the total bastard that loved to fuck with MacGuyver on MacGuyver. He is great at being insanely dramatic and he really ups the ante in this film, as the evil Malcolm Graves. The opening scene with him presiding over a demonic ritual was absolutely fantastic and so full of insane ’80s cheese that nearly everything after that scene is a disappointment.

Not to worry though, Des Barres comes back into the film in the third act and the big finale is friggin’ bananas.

The film deals more with witchcraft than just being about little carnivorous killer creatures, though. It’s that witchcraft that brings the creatures to life but this film has a lot of other layers to it. There is a terrifying clown doll for one thing, then there is a pair of weird midget minions and some undead shenanigans.

The highlight of the film is the finale, which sees the monsters tearing shit up while the evil wizard battles the main character and then Jack Nance, who you will probably recognize from Eraserhead or Twin Peaks.

The film has some serious flaws and a lot of mistakes in it but that stuff just adds to the charm.

One mistake that is hard to miss is in the confrontation between Malcolm Graves and his son. Malcolm’s eyes glow green and then they don’t from shot to shot. I don’t know how they fucked this up. Maybe there were some re-shoots done and they didn’t have anymore money for effects, I’m not sure. Point is, this mistake sticks out like a sore thumb.

This is a silly, stupid movie but the formula works. You can’t watch this and take it seriously and it is self-aware enough to know that it just needed to be ludicrous and fun.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: The other three Ghoulies films, the Munchies films, Hobgoblins and Sorority Babes In the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama.