TV Review: What If…? (2021- )

Original Run: August 11th, 2021 – current
Created by: A.C. Bradley
Directed by: Bryan Andrews
Written by: A.C. Bradley, Matthew Chauncey
Based on: Marvel Comics
Music by: Laura Karpman
Cast: Jeffrey Wright, various

Marvel Studios, Disney+, 6 Episodes (so far), 31-37 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Marvel’s What If…? is like all things MCU since Avengers: Endgame, a mixed bag of good and stupid.

So let me start by saying that I did enjoy some episodes of this show, while others were absolute shit like the one that sees Black Panther become Star Lord, which doesn’t make a lick of sense and also had a side plot about Thanos not committing universal genocide because T’Challa simply talked him out of it. That episode made me facepalm, repeatedly, so hard that I broke my nose about seven times.

Anyway, it’s clear that Disney is using this show to push certain social narratives without really caring about what that does to the continuity of the second greatest franchise they’ve ever had. But just like the once greatest franchise, Star Wars, Disney is out to wreck this one too.

So for the positives, I mostly liked the Peggy Carter episode, as well as the Doctor Strange one. While the T’Challa one was, hands down the worst, the others weren’t too bad, they just didn’t do much for me.

I was most excited to see that they would do with the Marvel Zombies concept, as some of those comics were fun as hell. Well, I’m glad that they tried something original with it, story-wise. However, it just didn’t hold my attention and was really underwhelming.

Also, I’m not big on the animation style. I really didn’t like it at first but my brain did adjust to it fairly quickly. The main problem with it, is that it looks almost too generic and in the Marvel Zombies episodes, for instance, I had a hard time telling some characters apart because they looked too similar.

When Disney first announced all the Marvel shows that would be coming to Disney+, this is one of the ones I was most excited for. I have loved the What If? comics since I started reading comics. Out of all of the issues that exist with great premises and alterations to continuity, I found it really disappointing that these were the stories they went with to kick off this series. But I guess I just shouldn’t expect much from Disney, at this point.

Rating: 6/10

Film Review: City of the Living Dead (1980)

Also known as: The Gates of Hell, Twilight of the Dead (US alternative titles), Fear in the City of the Living Dead (literal English title)
Release Date: August 11th, 1980 (Italy)
Directed by: Lucio Fulci
Written by: Lucio Fulci, Dardano Sacchetti
Music by: Fabio Frizzi
Cast: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo de Mejo, Antonella Interlenghi, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Janet Argen, Michele Soavi, Lucio Fulci

National Cinematografica, Medusa Distribuzione, Dania Film, 99 Minutes

Review:

“Mr. Bell, if those gates are left open, it could mean the end of humanity. We’ve got to get them shut again. At midnight on Monday, we go into All Saint’s Day. The night of the dead begins. If the portholes of hell aren’t shut before, no dead body will ever rest in peace. The dead will rise up all over the world and take over the Earth! You must get to Dunwich, Mr. Bell. You must reclose those gates!” – Theresa

Lucio Fulci made a trilogy of similar themed films after he had a hit with Zombi 2. I’ve already reviewed the other two parts of this trilogy but I oddly left the first one for last, as I didn’t know that these were considered a loose trilogy until recently and even though I’ve seen all three, they kind of merged together in my brain.

The thing that links these three movies together is the concept of a gate to Hell opening up and spelling doom for Earth. The good people in all these films work towards trying to close these gates in an effort to vanquish evil but as these things go, many of the characters die very painful, extremely violent deaths.

This is Italian horror, though, and while Fulci’s movies don’t have the vivid giallo look, they still fit well within that Italian subgenre of horror. They’re like giallo’s dark, ugly, gritty, more realistic corner in the back of the vibrantly lit room.

Fulci pulls no punches with this one and no one should ever expect him to. However, I would say that this one is the tamest of the three films. I think Fulci kept trying to go for bigger, grosser and more fucked up with each chapter and since this was the first, the other two pushed the bar just a bit further.

This stars American character actor Christopher George and it was filmed in New York City, even if it was a very Italian production. George is pretty good in this but the acting in general is often times derailed by some shoddy English dubbing over the actors who were on set speaking Italian. This is pretty normal stuff for Italian horror flicks but it’s really noticeable and jarring in this one.

I thought that the special effects were as good as they could be and they do hold up well, presenting some really terrifying demonic threats.

Out of the three films in The Gates of Hell Trilogy, I’d say that this one is my favorite. It felt more grounded and the effects were effective. I think it’s also made better by Fulci not trying to top his previous work and just focusing on making a fucked up demon zombie movie. 

Rating: 6.25/10

TV Review: 100 Years of Horror (1996-1997)

Original Run: 1996 – 1997
Created by: Ted Newsom, Dante J. Pugliese
Directed by: Ted Newsom
Written by: Ted Newson, Jeff Forrester (uncredited)
Cast: Christopher Lee (presenter), Roger Corman, Hugh Hefner, Fred Olen Ray, Richard Denning, Bela Lugosi Jr., Hazel Court, Robert Wise, Beverly Garland, Gloria Talbott, Sara Karloff, Dick Miller, Caroline Munro, John Agar, Ralph Bellamy, John Carpenter, Richard Matheson, Linnea Quigley, various

Multicom Entertainment Group, 26 Episodes, 22 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I’m glad that this documentary television series was made when it was, in the mid-’90s, as it allowed for the children of multiple horror icons to be involved and to tell stories about their fathers, their careers and their personal lives outside of the public eye.

Additionally, I love that this was able to include a lot of the filmmakers, writers and actors that were involved in a lot of classic horror films. Had this been made today, a lot of these people wouldn’t have been able to tell their stories in their own words, as they’re no longer with us.

Also, I love that Christopher Lee was the presenter of this series, as there wasn’t a more perfect choice available.

This series features 26 episodes, roughly 22 minutes apiece. Each episode tackles a different subject, be it a type of monster or a legendary horror actor. Plus, each episode covers a lot of ground for its running time, jumping through history and trying to show the audience everything it possibly can on the subject.

There really isn’t a dull episode, as there are so many different things that can be covered. There could’ve been more episodes and there still would’ve more topics to explore.

I like that this just dives right in and delivers so much. In fact, every episode showed me something I wasn’t aware of and helped me expand my list of old school horror movies that I still have left to watch and review.

All in all, this was pretty great and classic horror fans will probably find themselves lost in each episode, traveling through time and seeing things they still haven’t seen before.

Rating: 7.5/10

Film Review: Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Also known as: The All New George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (poster title)
Release Date: October 19th, 1990
Directed by: Tom Savini
Written by: George A. Romero
Based on: Night of the Living Dead by George A. Romero, John A. Russo
Music by: Paul McCullough
Cast: Tony Todd, Patricia Tallman, Tom Towles, Bill Moseley

21st Century Film Corporation, Columbia Pictures, 92 Minutes

Review:

“This is something no one’s ever heard about, and no one’s ever seen before. This is hell on earth.” – Ben

Other than the solid special effects, I’m not a fan of this movie. And that does kind of suck because I am a fan of Tom Savini, the special effects master turned director.

I think what I don’t like about this movie is that everyone in it makes the worst decisions possible. Also, they’re all pretty unlikable because all they do is make dumb choices and scream the entire time with all the lights on in the house and zombies outside listening for food. I also should mention that everyone is hammering fucking boards over the windows for almost the entire length of the picture!

Now I know that this was a remake of the original 1968 film and that the script was pretty damn close to the source material. However, by 1990, zombie movies had been around for a long time and with that, there are much smarter films on the subject that George Romero, himself, had written.

While this was his attempt to start over with his original concept, it doesn’t mean that it has to be populated with really stupid, self-sabotaging assholes. A person in 1990, whether they know what zombies are or not, should still have the common sense to shut the fuck up and act like you don’t exist when there is literally death surrounding your house. No, not these dopes, they might as well have been banging pots and pans outside screaming, “Come and get it!”

By 1990, you can’t suspend this much disbelief. Well, I guess some people can because many consider this to be better than the original. Well, if I’m being honest, I was never a huge fan of the original either. In fact, I much prefer the sequels that started a decade later.

Whatever, no disrespect to Tom Savini but fuck this movie. His special effects were great, though.

Rating: 4/10

Film Review: Train to Busan (2016)

Also known as: Busanhaeng (original title), Invasion Zombie (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay), New Infection: Final Express (Japan – English title)
Release Date: May 13th, 2016 (Cannes)
Directed by: Yeon Sang-ho
Written by: Park Joo-suk
Music by: Jang Young-gyu
Cast: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi, Kim Su-an, Kim Eui-sung, Choi Woo-shik, Ahn So-hee

Next Entertainment World, RedPeter Film, Movic Comics, 118 Minutes

Review:

“Sorry, but you’re infected.” – Seok Woo

Apparently, this South Korean zombie film came out with a lot of praise and fanfare but I guess it just passed me by. That’s honestly my fault, as I barely pay attention to modern horror, as it just hasn’t been up to snuff for about two decades now, despite the occasional gem.

Well, this is one of those gems and I even liked it considering that I am most definitely exhausted with zombie flicks since they have legitimately monopolized the horror space in more recent years after vampire films cooled off and The Walking Dead became the most watched thing on television.

This film’s plot is pretty damn simple; a dad and his daughter get on a train to take them across South Korea just as a zombie outbreak happens. While on the train, people get infected and all hell breaks loose.

As the film progresses, we go from survivors trying to stay barricaded in train cars with zombies just a car away, then we get a great sequence in a train station and eventually, back on another train, as the few people left try to escape the hell that is chasing them.

As far as zombie movies go, this one, by the end, is one of the most emotional and heartbreaking ones I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to spoil anything but if you get to the climax and don’t feel like you’ve been mule kicked in the heart, you might not be human.

Additionally, the character arc of the little girl’s father in this is fucking superb. The guy goes from being a selfish coward to a real hero, after being challenged by his own daughter and another passenger that continually risks his life to save this sap, even after he nearly sacrificed the guy and his pregnant wife.

This was just a solid, fast paced movie from beginning to end and I couldn’t believe that it was nearly two hours as it flew by like it was only 80 minutes.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other foreign zombie movies with fairly fresh takes on the genre.

Film Review: Spookies (1986)

Also known as: Twisted Souls, Goblin (working titles)
Release Date: March, 1986 (Paris Festival of Fantastic Films)
Directed by: Brendan Faulkner, Thomas Doran, Eugenie Joseph
Written by: Thomas Doran, Brendan Faulkner, Frank Farel, Ann Burgund
Music by: James Calabrese, Kenneth Higgins
Cast: Felix Ward, Dan Scott, Alec Nemser, Maria Pechukas, Charlotte Alexandra (as Charlotte Seeley)

Twisted Souls Inc., Miggles Corporation N.V., Safir Films, 85 Minutes

Review:

“Uuuuuuhh, look at me: I’m Duke, the horny ghost.” – Duke

Spookies is a pretty awful movie. However, it’s one of those awful movies that is so crazy and ridiculous that it’s hard not to love if you’re into premium schlock. Especially, of the ’80s, no budget, horror variety.

The film features two different casts and frankly, two different stories. The movies are then edited together as one film and nothing makes much sense. Who’s the real villain? What’s really going on? How many types of creatures and monsters are they going to throw at the audience? This is a clusterfuck of biblical proportions but still, it’s an entertaining, lovable clusterfuck.

The special effects are pretty damn bad but they’re still kind of a visual treat in their awfulness.

The thing is, I still applaud the effort by the filmmakers as they employed a lot of practical, physical effects and there are just a ton of different creatures and deformed people wearing everything from mud-man zombie suits to spider-lady prosthetics and makeup.

Additionally, this is one of those movies where it appears like everyone is having a blast making this thing.

Still, the acting is pretty close to atrocious and not much makes any sort of real sense.

As a film, it’s certainly way below average but its creativity and heart really gives it a few extra points in my book.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: other ’80s haunted house movies.

Video Game Review: Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (Sega Master System)

Ghouls ‘n Ghosts was the first sequel to the hit Ghosts ‘n Goblins game. This port to the Sega Master System actually came out a year after it was ported to Sega’s more advanced Genesis console.

However, this version of the game added in some cool stuff that the arcade and other ports didn’t have.

The Master System port features a unique upgrade system. The biggest thing that stands out is that the player can now enter shops and purchase better armor, weapons and magic.

The graphics on this version are also pretty impressive considering that the Master System console was a step behind the Genesis. This game looks visually better than the more comparable Nintendo Entertainment System’s Ghosts ‘n Goblins game from a few years earlier.

I thought that the controls were a bit wonky, though. Then again, they’re not that different from the older NES game that I spent hours upon hours playing in the late ’80s.

Like its predecessor, this game is also really damn difficult and frustrating. I didn’t get anywhere near completing it before giving up in frustration to go smoke a joint and grill a steak.

Despite being a visually alluring installment of the series, this one does fall kind of flat. It’s more frustrating than fun, the levels aren’t that great and the overall level design is kinda meh.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: other games in the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise.