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La luz en el cerro
(2016)

Interesting... not entirely satisfied.
After the mysterious death of a local shepherd. A remote village is overcome with fear as talk spreads of an ancient treasure hidden away in the hills where the body was found.

Lovecraft vibes (mainly Color of out Space) seeps from this Peruvian enigmatic drama - 'The Light on the Hill', especially in the promising, and richly layered first-half. Atmospheric locations, and a lingering sense of unease are wasted on an encroaching mystery that ends on a mundane revelation when compared to where it might have headed. Maybe I was just disappointed by its grounded denouncement, and a shifting focus from possibly eerie supernatural interference / superstitious fear as more of a facade to hide something much closer to home - human traits of greed and deception. So it surprised me. Not a bad film, just left me unsatisfied. Although the horror tag is very misleading.

Ruckus
(1980)

Not at all what I was expecting.
Similarities in structure and story beats to Sylvester Stallone's 'First Blood' are hard to shake. Yet the casual tone seems fall on the humorous side with its Dukes of Hazards/hicksploitation chaos and destruction. Amusing while it lasted, but very little to say. Therefore lacks any real intensity or lasting impact. And a few interesting faces (Linda Blair, Richard Farnsworth, Matt Clark, Ben Johnson etc) show up on the screen with some more prominent within their roles than others. I actually liked the dynamics shared between Benedict and Blair, even though those moments kinda take you out of the situation in favour for character building and understanding.

Belly of the Beast
(2003)

Finally... passable Seagal DTV.
Steven Seagal was phoning it, in what could be his best DTV feature from what I've seen thus far. There is a 'touch' of effort there on his part, but you can see he was still in half-ass mode and it's obviously a stunt man stepping in when he wasn't available or during the more psychical demands. Like, you know, jumping in the air. Although I see Seagal enjoyed laying on his a back a couple times while sliding across the screen. It's a funny sight, especially how they are edited and his expressions while in the motion. The first time it was across a polished floor when evading security men. It comes out of nowhere, as he gracefully slides by with a smirk on his face. While the other time was on a train tracks trolly. Seagal's steely glare focused in, shooting away with two guns in hand. While everyone around him is getting shot up in slow motion as he rides down the tracks in normal speed... slow without the need of slow motion. Both scenes would probably look much cooler if anyone else was doing the deed.

So 'Belly of the Beast' delivers non-stop fun and ridiculous thrills which can be attributed to Ching Siu-Tung's directorial talents. The story (while of no great shakes) thankfully moves at a good pace, throw in some mysticism and the action choreography is high-octane wire work, which snowballs into a rather exciting finale.

The Void
(2016)

"I see a monster who thinks he's god".
You like John Carpenter, how about Clive Barker, you know you can't go wrong with H.P Lovecraft and Lucio Fulci shouldn't be forgotten. Well, let's chuck 'em in a blender and see what we get; Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski's brooding, traumatic cosmic horror "THE VOID". Truly a thing of nightmares. Now was mixing all those together a good idea? In foresight, yeah, why not? The final result, for me at least, was entertaining, yet a disconnected mess. I won't knock its vision, as the twisted practical make-up/special effects were outstanding and a dread-inducing siege atmosphere is laid on thick, but it borrowed heavily upon its influences making it hard not to think of those better films, instead of what was in front of me. I thought with it not making much sense, things just happening with an emphasis on loud sound fx and being light on narrative structure, only magnified its loosely tied throwback ideas. Again, I enjoyed it in parts. Some set-pieces worked better than others. Performances are able, even if there's not much to work off making it hard to connect or feel anything. In the end it looks great, but I just found the plot to meander and none of the nightmarish visuals and pulsating intensity to be unnerving.

Night of the Living Dead
(1968)

Game Changer.
George A. Romero's regional b/w ground-breaking zombie classic laid the ground work for many to follow, often imitated, but few ever do come close to surpassing, let alone matching the raw, intense and simplistic horror experience of the straggling dead rising up to feast on the living. While the zombies were always a threat, Romero made sure that we never got too comfortable. By playing up the stress, fear and conflict of the self-preserved human nature between one another boiling to the surface, when encountering something you just can't comprehend and that's heighten by its close quarters farmhouse. When it came to the shocks, they're effectively staged, topical shades thematically underlined and the ending is so iconic. So what else can I say - it gets better, every time I revisit the film.

P.s looked great in 4K on the big screen after only ever watching scratched up prints of this benchmark horror classic.

The Boogey Man
(1980)

Entertainingly stylish low-budget horror.
Other than "THE DEVONSVILLE TERROR" (which I didn't particularly care for). I'm fairly new to Ulli Lommel's work, but I gotta say the shoe-string budgeted "THE BOOGEYMAN" was rather a nice surprise. In spite of its stilted nature (especially the scenes involving John Carradine's psychobabble), there's something rather interesting, creative, visually enticing and uncanny around its process of a supernatural slasher. Maybe even a pioneer for the sub-genre, as what felt like a thematic blueprint, still with some slasher influences, eventually goes down its own path. How the plot goes about it early, I thought it was going to be more traditional, where we get a psychological based psychopathic breakdown (the brother), and one's attempt (the sister) to overcome their demons, but once the mirror (the evil entity's source of power) comes into the picture. There begins the supernatural interference, and it doesn't hold back.

An invisible force, POV shots, heavy breathing, floating objects, glowing neon special effects and a growing death toll, as one by one people's fates end in a rather horrific, and jolting demise. These victims just seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's nothing out of the ordinary, can come across as crude, and at this point the story does begin to get sloppy in the details, yet it manages to pack a sting. Lommel's low-scale aesthetics do construct some stylish usage from its leering camerawork, moody lighting, stately rural backdrop (with a farmhouse resembling "AMITYVILLE HORROR") and minimal set-pieces. But the real talking point is that screwy electronic music score. It perfectly adds to the strange, traumatic vibe of the escalating insanity of the situations. Something that once it starts definitely won't leave your head. The acting is quite sound, and Suzanna Love shows she has quite a set of lungs on her.

War Hunt
(1962)

Well-meaning, but underdone.
It was interesting to see all the names attached to this project, especially those making their acting film debut (Robert Redford, Tom Skerritt, Sydney Pollack). However a quietly intense John Saxon, as a mentally deteriorating private who gets too comfortable (knife-crazy) with his solo late-night behind enemy lines objectives easily stole the show over lead Redford's idealistic greenhorn. The growing friction between the two characters was centred upon the well-being of a Korean war orphan, which Saxon's character looks after. This provides some rather well staged acts of tension between the two privates, especially the pent up aggression and confusion bubbling inside the unstable psychosis of Saxon's character.

This low-key, and budgeted Korean based war film is masterfully shot, but the material also tries to examine the harsh realities of war, and in doing so feels provocative for its time. But disappointedly it mainly comes off underdone in spite of the best efforts from its stellar cast.

Das Rattennest
(1988)

"It doesn't matter. Sometimes the innocent suffer, just like your daughter."
A fundamentally dry political thriller TV movie programmer boasting fine performances and on-location (Germany) action. Nothing particularly gang-busters here, as it steers towards dramatic tension, verbose conversations and character pathos before going in all guns blazing for its climatic payoff.

Two American parents, Paul and Anne Hobart travel to Germany when their stewardess daughter is kidnapped by home grown terrorists. She along with other flight crew members are being used as bargaining tools for the release of two prisoners.

The script does go down a predictable path. The ins and outs of political red tape getting in the way. There's a good hour of built up frustration, hopelessness and ponderous talk which feels like it's going nowhere in spite of the urgency of situation. This kinda gave it a realistic and calculative approach, although not a exiting one. And the lack of progress and information eventually sees the father seek outside help (mercenaries) to rescue his daughter. This is when the script begins to question what lengths someone would go to see it through. To the point of pushing aside their own morals. Brian Dennehy is perfectly cast to bring that to the fold. But by this point, certain actions by high brass become questionable, especially the twist at the end although its sort of telegraphed in the early stages. Ron Silver and Joanna Cassidy provided solid support, yet Dennehy pretty much holds it together.

"You... are just means to an end".

Revenge of the Creature
(1955)

Diminishing returns.
After watching the film, I saw a picture still where Gill-man stares down John Agar and Lori Nelson through the aquarium glass window, while they are oblivious to the attention, as they are in deep discussion. You know work and play.

I couldn't help but think, by the way Gill-man was starring at them. Obviously it's meant to show the affection, and interest it had on Nelson. But l like think it was pondering -"Why are these two flirtatious scientists getting so much screen time. I'm the star. Just look at the film's title. It's my revenge. Did they forget"?

Takes awhile for this sequel to get going, as Gill-man spends a lot time chained up in an aquarium in Marineland, Florida being gawked at or prodded in the name of science. But when it does pick up the pace... it's a little too late. Imaginative concept to begin. Just the mid-section treads water for too long by shifting the narrative's focus to the boring leads sweet talking each other before settling on the kitschy formula of the creature escaping and kidnapping a 'pretty blonde'. As per the words of the concerned radio announcer when reporting the news. Then we see a lot frisky scenes of Nelson trying to escape by splashing in the water as Gill-man stands over her or laying unconscious on the beach like bait to lure concerned citizens for Gill-man to sneak up on.

The rubber-suit costume still looks great, underwater photography crystal clear and the scenes where Gill-man stalks Nelson's character at her motel had some striking shots. However the vicious beach encounter for two young men was probably the most memorable set-piece... well, maybe the chaotic aquarium breakout comes close. Actually who am I kidding. You could call it a minor scene, but Clint Eastwood's attempted comic relief and awkward punchline delivery had me lost for words.

Street Knight
(1993)

What a come down.
Jeff Speakman followed up his solid action fare 'The Perfect Weapon' with 'Street Knight'. A disappointingly bland urban action which has Speakman (an ex-cop) caught between a street gang war (actually orchestrated by a third party), but instead of busting his way out of it. Everyone decided to go down a different path, which goes on to waste his talents (unlike 'The Perfect Weapon'). Instead focusing on dramatic plot cues and a script lined with probing leads and deep conversations for Speakman to sink his teeth into... yeah, not much talent there. Unless you like waiting around for over an hour to see Speakman do what you were originally hoping. When it does happen, after being slowed down by its monotonous story. It's not often, or particularly exciting. Quite half-hearted to have any real impact. So, it's a waste.

Interestingly this was the last film Cannon Films produced before bankruptcy. A forgettable way to go out on.

Shadow Creature
(1995)

Patchy monster mayhem.
Watching someone's incompetence can be entertaining. Now the question falls down to intentional or unintentional? The low-budget indie comedy-horror "SHADOW CREATURE" obviously wants be a parody on shoddy filmmaking. What starts off amusing enough eventually grows tiresome in its witless try hard attempts of wanting to make you laugh than naturally letting it fall into place. In the end it becomes what it's mocking and in doing so it gives this tackiness an unwanted polish. It's no Ed Wood production, because it simply lacked the sincere charm and naivety amongst the ineptness. If you want a comparison think more along the lines of John Landis' "SCHLOCK!", but for me less enjoyable.

In "SHADOW CREATURE" the acting is stilted; script is exaggeratedly awful, direction virtually non-existent and editing is just as messy as the daftly patchwork plot. I just found the execution very drab, therefore the supposed thrills is diluted due to the overplayed broadness of the wink attitude making it miss more so than it hit. At times it could be a drag if it wasn't focusing on its titular reptilian monster. Sometimes the delirious plot had too many unwanted distractions (corrupt mayor) getting in the way of the fun, when I just wanted some monster-on-the-loose carnage. Those moments are clumsily staged, but they look better thanks to nice gore FX involving icky, bubbling makeup effects. Usually that's not case with these types of films. Even the monster design (namely the impressive mask) comes off to a certain degree. Despite seeing it dressed in jeans and a long sleeve business shirt as it moves around like an ape swiping at its victims.

A hearty Shane Minor did have his moments as the reckless meathead of a detective who finds himself investigating a very unusual serial killer(?) case that sees a hair serum the cause of a genetic mutation that goes on a brutal rampage. His character sure did have a weak stomach, compared to everyone around him and the stifled way he delivered his lines added to the stupidity. Interesting to see Buffalo, New York masquerading as Cleveland, Ohio.

It can entertain in parts, just I expected a little bit more in the way of bad monster fun.

Konchû daisensô
(1968)

"I love insects. I love them because they never lie".
"They're in my body... insects. They're crawling inside me. Running... it's coming closer... insects... insects... insects... insects. Insects are singing. Insects are talking...".

Gotta say, there's quite a lot talk about insects. Those abnormal insects they're talking about, look like a deadly new strain of bees. That believe a good human, is a dead human. How do they know, well these ones can communicate leading to some trippy, psychedelic colors. They're not happy about the reckless nature of mankind and their obsession for nuclear warfare. Asking the question can you really have faith in those (narrow minded individuals) with the power to flick the switch? Cue in world war stock footage.

"GENOCIDE" (aka "WAR OF THE INSECTS") is a peculiar, blunt and cruel Japanese Sci-fi film, which can get silly, but at same time remaining edgy the further along it progresses. Not even the daft dialogues (with numerous stern encounters) and outrageous plot inclusions (insect breeder with a James Bond villain-esque motive and an evil cackle to go along with it), could stop it from being strangely compelling and concerningly symbolic. Although the blaring dramatics of the island's inhabitants could at times grate on the nerves, but they do play a part to the overall scheme of things. Obviously the material's social themes are seriously critical and very anti-war, yet somehow it stays unique in its vision, despite the clunky and erratic low-budget execution. One thing I did like was how it doesn't play it safe with a disturbed finale, I didn't see coming. It's a stunning, relevant final shot that lingers on the mind.

Maggie
(2015)

Atypical Arnie.
Don't go in expecting a zombie action carve up. Instead you get a broodingly sedate and humanely intimate drama with grim epidemic horror shades of an encroaching apocalypse. Not just global, but more so on a personal level. Arnold Schwarzenegger's atypical lamenting performance paints an individual constantly fighting their own heavy conscious and aching heart. Knowing how it's going to end, doesn't make the choices any easier. Saying your goodbyes is just as hard, especially to loved ones and these decisions at that time and place under stressful circumstances can affect more than just one person. While ponderous in its progressively decaying structure. The threat is always there, but the fighting devotion between father and his ailing daughter to see it through stays strong til the foreseeable end. How it does finish is nicely captured with what has gone before it. Abigail Breslin does hold her own with a stout-hearted performance as the virus affected daughter.

Satan's Slave
(1976)

A great starting point for film-maker Norman J. Warren.
The 1970s sure had a thing for satanic/witchcraft horror and British independent filmmaker Norman J. Warren would decide kick off his horror stint with another addition to the gloomy occult horror cannon. The little known "SATAN'S SLAVE" aka "EVIL HERITAGE" (the more fitting title) is actually made to look a lot better than most low-cost exploitative productions. Having Michael Gough aboard, gives it a solid foundation. His collected performance before balefully hamming it up truly grounds the diabolically inconsistent storyline. There are definite issues with the plot's vague exposition and foreseeable conclusion, but the ever-growing strangeness and Warren's assured handling makes up for that by presenting an oppressive air from its remote gothic manor homestead.

Another factor that really sticks out is the grinding pace. There's no question it's deliberately slow, but it's broken up in the way of lead actress Candace Glendenning's piercing eyes, ghastly shock set-pieces (with decent gore FX) and a barrage of sleaze. Then it bombards us with an unhinged music score that gives it that sense of excitement, even when nothing much is happening.

In the end I won't argue that it's not pedestrian in style and senselessly written, but for my liking I found that there were enough sinister and tawdry incidents going on.

III
(2015)

Am I dreaming?
I must pinch myself, just to make sure I'm awake. *Pinch*. Talk about arrestingly hypnotic and abstract. And that's the contrasting imagery inside (dreams) and out (landscapes) of the subconscious. Watching "III" is like being caught in a trance. It's visually sublime captured by its elegant cinematography and otherworldly score, but frail storytelling does keep this grim, surrealistic Russian horror-fantasy from reaching great heights.

The style is in the same mould of such psychophysiology films ("The Cell" & "Horsehead") dealing with a journey into the subconscious mind. What transpires is rather sobering and haunting, but how the journey plays out is uniquely puzzling. The natural performances of Piling Davidova and Luibov Ignatushko do share a touching bond as the two sisters caught up in a sickness infecting their small village.

Sendero
(2015)

I kinda liked it.
I guess every country has got their inbred countryside psychotics living off detour roads and kidnapping those who pry into their business. Well Chile gives it a shot in this strange, perverted, depraved and extremely violent rural indie horror.

It's nothing you haven't already seen before with the likes of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" & "Frontiere(s)". So it does the next best thing to combat the hackneyed structure. By upping the ante. After a slow set-up, it becomes alarmingly intense and kept it up til the pessimistic final frame. So before getting there, you get smashed heads, sexual deviancy, chopped off limbs, mental torture and gashing wounds. It's spiteful! The decent looking gore fx is virtually blood n' guts and well-delivered. Making sure that the atmosphere remains disturbingly bleak is the foreboding electronic score with it encroaching, uncanny sounds.

Where it got very perplexing though, was the reasoning behind their fiendish actions. As the captors are only the middle men/woman to something much bigger. There seems to be more to it with a mysterious stranger entering the scene. But the screenplay never really enlightens us on this figure. The local cast do a good job, especially those playing the demented family.

The Intruder Within
(1981)

At sea. No one can hear you scream.
"The Intruder Within" is your basic "Alien" knock-off (and probably one of the first), which was made straight for TV. Those origins can be seen as an limitation, as it was plain and lethargic in its build-up. Consisting of uninteresting filler and quite tame on the thrills (most things occurring off-screen).

Just imagination in the hands of a film production, it could've been a lot more daring and fun with its B-grade material. Although in its favour, it did build a grimy and claustrophobic air from its oil rig backdrop. While the character rapport of its hardy blue collar workers, had a genuine believability about them with stalwart performances led by Joseph Bottoms, Chad Everett and Jennifer Warren. Everything about it is competently executed with a raw edge, but a real lack of sustained suspense and energy even with the looming dangers really lets it down.

The influences of "Alien" are obvious (e.g birth scene, shady company man), but the theories of the discovered ancient embryonic life form is slightly interesting. Too bad the script only scrapes the surface, therefore the lack of commitment makes it sound silly.

The detailed creature design looks rather decent, despite being a rubber suit and not making an appearance until the last 10 minutes. Honestly it looked far more menacing, than its lacklustre actions inspired. As for the other creations, there's a life cycle where it starts off as a fossilised egg, then transforming into some sort of stiff looking worm-like creature. It's a cross between the classic chest burster and mutated worm. Like those out of "Prometheus".

One of these nasty creatures affects a crew member who aggressively changes, giving them super strength and he forcefully impregnates a female co-worker who would then later give birth to a monster. I thought this too, had shades of "Prometheus". That birth scene while off-screen, still had somewhat a disturbing vibe, because we still see the silhouette.

Rupan sansei: Babiron no Ôgon densetsu
(1985)

Fun ride, in spite of the bumps.
The third theatrical animated feature sees Lupin III going after the gold of Babylon with the New York mafia led by a fly-swatting Polish criminal boss, a mysterious old bag-lady and five beauty contestant policewomen under the control of Lupin's long-suffering foe Interpol inspector Zenigata also on the trail. Interesting to see Lupin III not in the recognizable green or red jacket, but decked out pink. Nice touch. This treasure hunting adventure is fairly screwball (motorbike pursuit) and ridiculously out-there (aliens/gods), where it's the unfocused plot that takes it down a notch. At least something is always going on, despite not knowing completely what. Once it hits Babylon the pace and thrills do pick up with those police women coming into their own. However the New York scenes can plod. That's mainly in the second half. Still the chase element is alluring, because of the familiar actions (playful double-crossing) and strong characters (Lupin & Co) involved. Animation looks basic, if scratchy, as the details are minor. For me it's one of Lupin's lesser outings, yet nevertheless, this caper is enjoyable enough.

Yì du mí jú
(2012)

Poor cat...
To bad I can't say the same about the rest. I should have saw it coming, especially since the cat gets a real close up shot of its face. Don't know why? Maybe trying to telegraph wants coming, but I was waiting for that dada music. And this film does that a lot. There's nothing subtle in how it telegraphs what's coming. There's even a laughable sequence obviously trying to set-up red hearings. The camera pans around the room with everyone having that suspicious look on their faces. You know, *that look*.

Still, you'd be constantly asking yourself; "What's going on here"?! This was pure basket case. It just didn't know what it wanted to be. I thought I was getting a spooky haunted mansion film... there are supernatural moments, but in the end it's never expanded and becomes redundant to everything else going on. It's like they forget all about that mysterious angle with those moments only there to insert meaningless jump scares. Or maybe to make us think the leading lady had lost her marbles, despite not really developing on it. For the majority of its time, it's a lousy, shallow, overcooked and convoluted dramatic thriller involving the kidnapping of a young girl. The screenplay seems to throw around ideas without convincingly connecting them together and then it gives you a rather cop-out final reveal. Nothing makes sense. Be careful your head might implode trying to make sense of it. Also don't let that tempting poster artwork mislead you either.

Dick Tracy's Dilemma
(1947)

"You know I run a respectable joint".
That's what they all say. But we all know better.

The 'Dilemma' is a crisp, shadowy, well-paced minor b-picture Dick Tracy serial with a striking villain in the shape of Jack Lambert as "The Claw". He's very memorable in appearance and of course his unsparing actions, like the use of his claw and how he drags his foot as he goes about stalking his victims. Despite some dark and atmospheric passages with film noir shades. There's a real quirkiness to some of the characters (eg Pat & Vitamin) and dialogue exchanges. But it seems to effortlessly fit.

Ralph Byrd returns as Tracy, after Morgan Conway portrayed the character in the previous films. Byrd gives the part a bit more charm and character, but I do prefer the psychical appearance/presence of Conway. So I'm caught right in the middle here.

A fine Dick Tracy pic.

Island of Terror
(1966)

"Science has its risks, but the risks aren't enough to hinder progress".
"Island of Terror" is a modest, little workmanlike British sci-fi-chiller. Director Terence Fisher and genre stalwart Peter Cushing added class to proceedings. Throw in a creative concept involving bone-sucking organisms, who leave some icky effects behind. Cup of chick noodle soup anyone? These nasty creatures (silicates) looked less than threatening in appearance and let out one eerie slurping noise (straw sound fx?), even though some of the attack scenes were in slow-motion (they move real slowly) and daftly pitched (tree dropping). However sometimes it manages to be uncanny, other times silly developments occur, but the danger is always felt. This leads to a couple of intense and surprisingly brutal moments. The choice of location (island) adds to the atmosphere and isolation. At best, a fun low-budget fare.

Out of Reach
(2004)

You get what you get... dtv Seagal.
Softly spoken, and well mannered Steven Seagal plays an ex-CIA agent who heads to Poland to rescue his special penpal - a 13 year old girl - from human traffickers.

Very sluggish straight to DVD vehicle for Seagal. Talky investigating for most part, but it had a frenetic final 15 mins with a typical unexciting sword duel climax. Also Seagal's feeling extra lazy. Those watching, know he likes to give his stuntman a lot work. Like wandering forests and walking down stairs, but on this occasion since it wasn't entirely action packed. He gave the voice over department time to shine. At times you can laughably tell his dubbed voice changing in-between scenes. The opening narration in the early scenes of Seagal sharing his thoughts in the cornball letter readings particularly takes the cake. Some laughs, but mainly a bore.

Lupin the IIIrd: Jigen Daisuke no Bohyo
(2014)

Loving these new incarnations of Lupin the 3rd.
The haunting guitar riffs opens to a shot of someone standing over a gravestone... Jigan's gravestone. Gary Stocksale's rocking tune "Revolver Fires" is the theme song, which I thought should've opened with (then finished off), as it would've come out with a bang setting up quite a high-octane and edgy Lupin the third animated outing. Not to say it loses its playfulness between the characters (as the combinations still crackle, even if a little dry), but it's mainly kept in check steering closer to something darker, considerably violent and matured based.

This 50 minute spin-off (broken up in two parts) from the animated TV series; "Lupin the Third: A Woman Called Fujiko Mine" mainly centers around Lupin and Jigen performing a heist to only come up against a mysterious, but well-dressed assassin who has marked Jigen as his next target. As the elaborate plot moves along it begins give out the details of why he's targeted, and not Lupin, while Fujiko working another job, soon enough finds her amongst the complicated web. One thing Jigen learns is that he might have found his match, someone possibly quicker than him on the draw, as this man rolls a dice to predict maximum amount of shots he has of getting his target.

While never a dull moment, the plot is knotty and scenes of cat-and-mouse between the assassin and his target/s are the best moments, as the breakneck excitement and bloody confrontations engulf the screen. At the end we get two cameo appearances; one before the credits and the other just after of familiar characters of the manga. As for the gorgeous looking animation, it's impressively slick, flashy in design with a kaleidoscope glow of color. Making it a highly entertaining, and striking addition to the Lupin the 3rd universe.

The Woman in Red
(1984)

Gene Wilder in his comfort zone.
While not perfect, the nutty romantic comedy "THE WOMAN IN RED" had its laughs, especially coming from Gilda Radner's mistaken identity scenes. Even the dumb gag of Charles Grodin pretending to be a blind man in a restaurant got a laugh out of me. Gene Wilder does carry it along, directing and starring, managing to be charming in a naïve sort of way, in spite of the infidelity he's planning. I never once thought we were meant to feel sorry for his character, but Wilder's comic timing and delivery for most part is so spot on, as the lengths this guy will go, turns into many situational red-faced mishaps. Throughout you learn nearly everyone is getting in on the act in some shape or form. Family-man Teddy has always played by the rules, never a thought crossing his mind of temptation, until one day he laid eyes on the woman in red. Wanting to make something of it, his affections for this fantasy woman can only end in comical consequences. Once Kelly Le Brock makes her first appearance in red, you won't be forgetting her risqué Marilyn Monroe homage anytime soon. The loveable Judith Ivey plays the unknowing wife. Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick contributed to the soundtrack too.

Ji su jiang shi
(2001)

Messy is an understatement.
One character gets their neck snapped, as the lifeless body is flung straight back to their colleagues with one of them replying with the subtitles "How are you"? And this happens more than once. Obviously something lost in translation there. "THE VAMPIRE COMBAT" feels like something that's 10 to 15 years late to the party. Looking at it, you'd think you're watching a film from the 80s or 90s. You can't help but think it was purposely filmed that way, almost homage in its styling, but I'm not arguing.

HK horror-action-adventure that sets up occult cannibalistic ghouls, vengeful spirits, a pasty looking vampire master known as Devil Monster and supernatural hunters(?) with rollicking martial arts, ruthless acts of violence, moody atmospheric lighting and cheap, yet charming special FX all wrap up in a neat bow. Well, that's within the first 20 odd minutes, after that the plot confusingly chops around, stalling too often, by becoming that invested in its layered narrative of fate and future life's incarnations. There it centers on a couple of characters, as they try to understand how they connect to all of these deaths, visions and supernatural occurrences. While at the same time, the master's evil followers are trying everything to find and break the seal that traps their master. I was at a lost to what was happening, as my interest did begin sway.

Not helping either is the flat acting, as the lively bit parts overshadow the drab, straight-talking leads. And there's not enough Devil Monster... even though when around he doesn't get up to a lot, but his eccentrics were much needed, some blood sucking, eye gouging and especially towards the end when he goes about confessing his undying love for the male heroine. Shouldn't surprise you though. The anticlimactic climax provides CGI that doesn't look out of place in the scheme of things, yet what occurs is dumbfounding, which is only matched by its sudden ending. This would be one of Lo Lieh's last films.

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