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Little Shop of Horrors

Big Shop of Horrors!
This is a musical - about nerdy Seymour who works for Mr. Mushnik at the Florists in a seedy part of town. Seymour falls for shop assistant Audrey and discovers a strange plant and names it Audrey II. While caring for Audrey II, he discovers the plant's constant appetite for blood and needs it to grow.

I thought this movie was going to give off some scares and thrills, but it's a lame, eccentric flick with overzealous acting. The plot about the carnivorous alien plant seems intriguing but putting it in musical form with endless annoying singing made the movie a drag.

***spoiler ahead***

The movie has two different endings - one where the evil plant is victorious and gobbles everyone up and the other where Seymour fries the plant. The ending where the plant wins really made the already bad film worse, making you feel sorry for the characters.

***spoiler ends***

The cinematography is colorful, and the movie features a big cast like Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, Jim Belushi, John Candy, and Bill Murray. But that is basically the bright spot of the film. I'm being generous with the three rating, but this movie really sucks.

Grade D-

Night of the Demons

Cheesy but mindless fun 80s horror fanfare.
The acting was cheesy, the make-up and hair were too excessive, the plot was mindless, and the music was funky, but hey - it was the 1980s.

This is another 80s horror flick- about ten teenagers who party at an abandoned funeral parlor on Halloween night. They encounter a demonic force, and they turn the teenage kids' party into a living nightmare. What results are some more of the usual screams, chases, and gore.

The creatures were quite creepy as a matter of fact and will give you some nice scares. Not much of a plot to the movie - just lots of running and screaming, but it's mindless horror fun for Halloween, so don't take this movie too seriously.

Grade B-

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

More slashing and dicing from Mr. Myers.
In this third sequel of the Halloween franchise, the filmmakers take us back to the continuity of Michael Myers' world (Part III was in its own canon). In this film, the psychopath was transferred from Richmond Mental Institute to Smith's Grove, where he awakens and goes after his niece in Haddonfield, going on a killing spree along the way.

Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is back and helps the Sheriff Meeker (Beau Staff) track down Michael and find Jamie to protect her.

This sequel has that terror and scare factor, with eerie moments that will make you sit at the edge of your seat, wondering if Michael Myers will jump out at you. The movie is fast-paced and contains decent acting and good intrigue and thrills. It is neat how they explore further into Michael Myer's past and learn more of his sinister self.

Grade B.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

A very uniquely creepy and eerie horror film.
In this creepy and eerie horror film, a father and son, both coroners, try to identify the body of a Jane Doe. But, once they do, nothing of the body is what it seems, and mysterious and horrific things start to take place.

Much of the movie takes place in the morgue, which already gives out an eerie and foreboding atmosphere. With the mysterious Jane Doe, you are left at the edge of your seat, wondering where those jump moments will come out at you. As the coroners attempt to identify the body and find a cause of death, mystery after mystery follow, and will leave you in creeped out at the occult, supernatural, and demonic aspects surrounding the Jane Doe.

The acting was good, and cinematography was great - all contribute to the right amount of horror elements. ***spoiler ahead*** The ending, though, was anti-climactic and will leave you wanting more answers and solutions to this supernatural case.

Grade B-

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

A very well-made horror drama movie!
This is a very well-made horror drama, a story about a young girl named Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter), who dies after an exorcism was performed on her by a Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson). He is subsequently arrested on suspicion of negligent homicide, but his attorney Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) attempts to defend him on the account that the exorcism is a true story.

While this is not your typical ghost horror movie, you do get some creepy moments courtesy of the exorcism scenes. But the dramatic moments of Erin Bruner going through challenges and obstacles to prove Father Moore's innocence deliver great suspense and intrigue and will keep you glued to the TV. Add onto the excitement is Erin Bruner's own personal backstory of her law career and her love/hate relationship with her boss.

The acting was superb - everybody gave a convincing performance. The courtroom drama will make you empathize with Father Moore and root for a positive outcome in the court case. Even the witnesses in the trial add onto the tension of the atmosphere. A highly recommended horror film.

Grade A.

The People Across the Lake

Not scary - don't let the genre label fool you.
The TV movie is labeled as a horror and thriller as the genre, but don't let that fool you. This movie is anything but.

The premise sounds creepy enough - a family moving to a big old house in a peaceful lakeside town to escape the city life finds corpses in the lake and another body in the woods. But what results is some pretty boring tongue-in-cheek acting that tries hard to be a murder mystery thriller, but even with the supposedly scary scenes, which I admit there is qute a few, much of the horror elements are overtaken by the goofiness and eccentric acting.

It's not all horrible to watch this movie on a dreary day, but only if you have absolutely nothing else to do and nothing else to watch.

Grade D.

A Christmas Carol

A pretty good animated version of Charles Dickens' classic.
This is a pretty good, animated version of Charles Dickens' Christmas classic - telling the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and him facing the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future, telling him to mend his bitter and greedy ways to help those in need and show kindness toward his community, including to that of his loyal and trusted employee, Bob Cratchit.

This film was released from Australia. While the animation wasn't top rated, it's still a nice piece of entertainment to get you into the spirit of Christmas and remind you of the purpose of kindness, generosity, forgiveness, and letting go.

Grade B.

The End of the Golden Weather

This movie will take you to a whimsical world.
This is a New Zealand drama about young Geoff Crome (Stephen Fulford) who meets Firpo (Stephen Papps), an odd guy who dreams of being an Olympic athlete.

The friendship of the two leads is odd but touching. Firpo's Olympic aspirations along with Geoff's imagination of medieval times provide a creative but odd mix. Throw in the loving parents (Paul Gittins and Gabrielle Hammond) and the love-hate relationship between Geoff and his younger brother (David Taylor), you will get quite the dose of dramatic misadventures.

Much of the characters' acting is whimsical with a childlike innocence.

This can be both touching and annoying at times, especially having to deal with the Firpo character's yells, screams, and squeals. You will definitely have to suspend reality to soak in movie's entire beachside setting, Firpo's Olympic fantasies, and Geoff's imaginative medieval world. While the story is touching, the plot does drag at times.

There is a racing scene which will make you root for Firpo, but of course, the harsh feeling of reality sets in afterward. But this movie does remind you it is OK to escape the sufferings of reality at times and let your imagination take center focus. That is what all we have sometimes to escape this harsh world.

While this movie might be obscure to most Americans, those who watch it might find some familiar actors if they're into the Hercules and Xena fame: Lucy Lawless, Ray Henwood, Alison Bruce, and David Taylor.

Grade B-

Murder or Memory: A Moment of Truth Movie

Always tell the truth when questioned.
This is a little intriguing made-for-tv movie, where teenager Christopher Hansen (Karl David-Djerf) is accused of murdering a young lady friend and confessed to the crime while under hypnosis. However, his mother (Leigh Taylor-Young) tries to prove his innocence because the evidence does not add up.

Along the same lines of another made-for-tv movie called My Son is Innocent, the journey toward innocence is mixed in with the neighbors turning against Christopher and his parents, taunting phone calls, and an inept police investigation into the case. This all give the movie a fast-paced plot and gripping drama that puts into focus the flaws of investigative techniques and the importance of evidence, telling the truth, and good legal representation.

***spoiler ahead***

However, the movie does suffer from an anti-climax, as we don't see those responsible for the crime brought to justice.

***spoiler ends***

I remembered first watching this movie when I was a teenager but didn't finish it. Glad I found the title of it on IMDb and the movie on YouTube years later. It has some very good and convincing acting, and the plot leaves you eager to find out what happens next.

Grade B.

The Three Lives of Karen

An interesting mystery drama.
This is an interesting mystery drama about a woman who seemed to develop three personalities: soon-to-be wife of a cop, missing wife of a businessman, and foster child of a bitter mother. This of course develops a crisis for the woman because of her impending wedding with the cop and her being already the wife and mother to another family. The riff and unknown situation create an interesting level of suspense.

The third personality of the foster child caught in an abusive relationship adds onto the intrigue of the movie. All the personalities were delivered in suffering and dramatic fashion, and actress Gail O'Grady gives a convincing performance. It's not multiple personality disorder, but three different lifestyles in one body unbeknownst to one another.

Most of the characters' performance weren't bad. The daughter character was annoying though. The plot was steady paced, though left some lose ends, and could have used more exciting moments. It's not a bad movie, though, to spend an hour and a half on a weekend.

Grade B-

Someone Is Watching

A spooky made-for-tv movie.
This is a spooky TV movie about a woman and her young son who has just moved into a new house. The son develops a relationship with an "imaginary" friend who lives in his closet, and people around them start to die mysteriously. This gives the audience a good dose of mystery and horror, leaving you wondering who did it and if the "imaginary" friend has any connection to it. Even the title of the movie gives you a creepy feeling.

It's a somewhat exciting movie from start to finish, with descent acting, though, some of the dialog and language were forced. Barry Flatman as the lead's boyfriend was annoying. But I thought Margot Kidder gave a convincing performance as the pesky but helpful neighbor who plays an important role in solving the mystery.

It's overall entertaining for a TV movie.

Grade B.

Kong bu li fa dian

Not a bad horror flick from China.
This is not a bad horror flick from China that takes place in a barber's shop, where a bunch of crimes that might be related to the paranormal occurs. The thrilling introduction grabs your attention, giving you a good dose of ghostly action.

The barber shop setting gives you a spooky feeling, with the hidden room behind a forbidden door will leave you guessing - adding to the tension and mystery of each character's motives.

Though there really isn't much new material you haven't seen before in a horror movie (almost feels like a slasher film with a little dose of paranormal stuff), the feeling of intrigue and suspense will grip you from start to finish, all resulting in a surprising climax.

Grade B-

Fright Night

A great vampire 80s vampire flick with a comedic flare!
The 80s have dished out a slew of comedic paranormal flicks from the United States, most of entertaining cheesiness and scares. This movie is among the best of them, I think - about teenager Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale) who discovers his new neighbor Jerry Dandridge (Chris Dandridge) is a vampire. As a result, he turns to television actor Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) of a horror show for help.

Although somewhat cheesy, the acting in this film is quite good from its memorable cast. Just the parts where Charlie Brewster is suspicious of new neighbor Jerry Dandridge will give you suspense and the parts where Peter Vincent do battle with the vampires are entertaining to watch. Thrown in the mixture are some great comedic moments, and the make-up for the creatures were convincingly creepy.

I especially enjoy the theme song "Fright Night." It definitely has an 80s feel to it but is catchy and fun to listen to. Just the right amount of horror elements is mixed into this flick and will give you a satisfying viewing experience.

Grade A.

Wu ye chu zu

Amateurish and horrible!
This is a direct-to-video ghost movie from Hong Kong about a woman's husband who has gone missing after going on his taxi night shift job. Even for made for video movies, I seen some with decent acting and a good storyline. This one appeared the filmmakers did not put any efforts to it at all. The acting was amateurish at best - absolutely awful - and the cinematography was poor. It looked like it was filmed with a video camera.

Even with A-list HK actors like Teresa Mak, Edmund Leung, and Fui-On Shing, they gave a below average performance and couldn't save this film from being a horrible viewing experience. The supporting actors were probably picked out randomly from the streets or from entry-level film class, especially the medium; I have to shake my head at the way she plays with her crystal ball.

There are some ghost action that gave me jumping moments. But, other than that, nothing in this movie is worth watching due to its lack of suspense, plot, and redeemable characters.

Grade F.

Dian ti jing hun

A suspenseful thriller from China.
This is a suspenseful thriller from China that takes place in a hospital, where a killing spree occurs. It is connected to an old elevator which goes underground to the 18th floor and the story leaves you guessing if the perpetrator of the crime is man or ghost.

The atmosphere surrounding inside and outside of the hospital gives you an eerie, foreboding feeling - adding to the tension and mystery of the deaths. The acting was pretty good, though, could have used some more emotion at times.

The feeling of intrigue and suspense will grip you from start to finish, all resulting in an unpredictable and surprising climax.

Grade B+

Guan ren gui shi

A blundering Hong Kong horror comedy.
Hong Kong pop culture is popular with its comedy ghost and vampire horror comedies, especially those released in the 1980s and 1990s. They contain a good mixture of scares and laughs, with an excellent cast of characters. However, many of those movies lost steam by the late 80s and 90s, and this one is among them.

This movie is about a group of female cops who do battle with Hong Kong Triad members, who indirectly resurrected a hopping vampire while trying to steal a valuable pearl from its coffin.

The gangsters were portrayed as bumbling idiots and the cops acted like they were running around in circles without a clue what they're looking for. It appears there wasn't much effort put into the plot, as the story goes back and forth between the criminal element to the vampire element in a quick and messy way. It was somewhat amusing, though, to watch the people fight with the vampire. The acting wasn't too horrible - nice to see veteran Hong Kong actresses Sibelle Hu and Kara Hui in a horror comedy.

But, in the words of the English title of this film - Who Cares? It won't hurt to give this one a pass.

Grade D-

Ban wo chuang tian ya

HK Stars Chow Yun-Fat and Cherie Chung in a fine action drama!
Chow Yun-Fat stars as Hong Kong cop Inspector Lau, who meets Cher (Cherie Chung) in a homicide case, which involves an arms deal gone wrong. It's a good mixture of action and drama, as Lau falls for Cher while he protects and questions her connection to the case; Cher is the sister of arms dealer Elaine Lee (Elaine Jin), killed during the gunfire, and Elaine's daughter is left in Cher's and her father's care. However, the daughter is repulsed by her grandfather because of Elaine's criminal involvement.

This movie is nothing short of wild car chases, gun battles, and fights, and the plot is fast paced from start to finish. Mixed in with all the good guys vs. Bad guys suspense is the touching drama between the grandfather and the little girl, with Cher acting as the mediator and bridge between the family relationships.

There's great chemistry between Chow Yun-Fat and Cherie Chung, who have starred together in a large number of movies. This one is another fine piece of Hong Kong entertainment that is a treat to watch.

Grade A.

Jue di tao wang

Not quite Rush Hour material.
Jackie Chan stars as a Hong Kong detective who teams up with an American gambler to battle against a criminal kingpin known as the Matador.

While I thought this movie has a little bit of reminiscence to the Rush Hour movies, it has limited action and humor (except from some attempts at slapstick comedy) and the plot drags somewhat.

The acting wasn't bad and there are some surprises and twists and turns to the storyline; however, the movie could have used more emphasis on the criminal organization plot device and the detective's partner's daughter relation to the mob. Overall, though, it's OK entertainment - always nice to see Jackie Chan do his wild stunts.

Grade C-

Halloween: Resurrection

Not the best of the series, but it's still somewhat entertaining and humorous.
The ongoing Halloween series continues with Michael Myers going back to his old house to scare the cast and crew of a reality show that is being filmed and broadcasted from the home. It's more of the same running and slashing stuff, but the live film action via the internet premise was somewhat interesting and you get quite the dose of humor from some of the characters.

The acting wasn't bad and, at just ending 90 minutes of film time, the movie doesn't drag endlessly. The plot is quite fast paced. And, while the film does leave some unanswered loose ends, is not bad popcorn entertainment.

Grade B-

Doll House

I felt embarrassed for myself watching this.
The summary of this UK movie sounded intriguing - a girl moves into a foster home with a doll she couldn't be without, and strange things take place as a result. But what really takes place is some very awful acting. The actors lacked emotion and suspense, and some sounded as if they were reading off of a script. The psychic lady tried to be dramatic but fell flat on her face; the Heather girl couldn't be more stoic; the foster kid was annoying; and the maintenance guy was just too weird to be weird. I can't help but think they were theatre school students who haven't overcome their amateur status.

I agree with one reviewer's comment stating this movie looked like it was filmed using a handheld camera. The music sounded haunting but was out-of-place for the movie scenes. The plot was slow. Just about everything about this movie was bad.

Grade F.

A Xiu Luo

A humdrum saga.
This is the sequel to the adventurous and action-packed Peacock King, returning Biao Yuen and Gloria Yip in their respective roles. This time, Ashura (Yip) is trapped by a Buddhist monk so she wouldn't fall into evil hands and use her power to destroy humanity. However, the Abbot Jiku (Hiroshi Abe) grants her wish to enjoy the human world for seven days.

While this movie has some exciting action and whimsical magic scenes, much of the plot suffers from dragged-out attempts at comedy and the romantic themes between the male and female leads. This distracts from the main point of the story and actually can bore the audience. It takes a while for the movie to tread back to the good vs. Evil themes.

The acting wasn't bad, but the movie is overall average at best.

Grade C-

Sang yan mat kan: Che fa

Anti-climatic mess.
This movie is labeled as a sequel to Horoscope I: The Voice from Hell, starring Anita Yuen. However, the stories between the two movies are not related or are in any way connected.

This movie deals with a mysterious woman who allegedly curses a couple with black magic, resulting in a series of horrifying events. The premise for the plot is quite good and there are some suspense build-ups; however, the movie suffers from excessive twists and turns with anti-climactic results you're left scratching your head.

The acting is average at best. Not one of the finest horror movies from Hong Kong. Stick with the first movie.

Grade D+

Qian nian nu yao

Boring and awful - could have had potential.
This Hong Kong horror comedy, about a Demoness from a thousand years ago threatening to break into the real world to wreak havoc while two fairy disciples attempt to destroy, could have had potential. The opening of the movie with the creatures doing battle in martial arts fashion delivered some promise, but much of the movie scenes that follow quickly went downhill.

Rather then focus on the main plot of the two fairies dealing with the Demoness, the movie instead delves into the boring romantic subplot of the police detective (Jackie Cheung) and one of the fairies (Joey Wang). Along for the ride are the detective's goofy colleagues and dumb wannabe ghost catcher, delivering nonsensical comedy crap. There's also this cop vs. Bad guys subplot that adds onto the stupidity of the plot.

Much of the acting is childish and the boredom of the love subplot really drags on and on; there is unfortunately no suspense or intrigue in the film - everything was just thrown in like a mess. The only redeeming quality is the villainess (Meg Lam). She plays the part of the Demoness quite well and is the only actor in the movie that delivered any type of dramatic fashion.

For some reason, many of Hong Kong's ghost and horror comedies focuses too much on the subplots rather than the actual paranormal points. This movie is no exception, but unfortunately, nothing much can be said for any entertaining values.

Grade D--


Typical B-horror flick with a 70s taste
This is a typical B-movie horror flick about a man summoning a demon called Pumpkinhead to do away with a group of teenagers. It's like those teenagers in 90s slasher flicks meeting a 70s-style monster with similar results - running, screaming, hiding, more running, and twists and turns.

It's not an extremely captivating movie, with few new materials here (though, the witch character was quiet amusing). But, it's mindless fun if you're into horror films and will give you some nice entertainment and a little scare.

Grade B-

Ôsaka-jô monogatari

A good mixture of drama and samurai action.
This is one of many samurai movies starring the great Toshiro Mifune. Here, he plays wandering swordsman Mohei, who is accepted by the Toyotomi clan in Osaka. Conflict erupts when the Osaka Castle is attacked by the opposing Tokugawa clan.

Even for a movie made in the early 1960s, the cinematography and special effects were realistic and believable, really capturing the intensity and trauma of war. The samurai action illustrates the courage and skills of Mohei and the love subplot between Mohei and Ai (Kyôko Kagawa) blends together with the plot well, enhancing the drama of the film.

It's not the most exciting or edge-of-your-seat material, but does give you a hour and a half of worthy entertainment.

Grade B.

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