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Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" RSS Feed (Shelby, North Carolina USA)
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Mega Shark Vs Mecha Shark
Mega Shark Vs Mecha Shark
DVD ~ Christopher Judge
Offered by Sparks DVD Sales
Price: $8.18
28 used & new from $3.10

3.0 out of 5 stars Women should not be allowed to drive sharks, July 29, 2015
This review is from: Mega Shark Vs Mecha Shark (DVD)
There’s only one thing in the world more dangerous than a megalodon on a rampage of destruction – and that’s a woman pilot pursuing that megalodon in a gigantic mechanical shark loaded to bear with torpedoes. Seriously, this woman wipes out almost as many lives as the prehistoric monster shark. Fortunately, Mecha Shark is smart enough to operate on his own, without a bad human pilot, but will his oh-so-powerful computer system with the voice of Knight Rider be able to outsmart the king of the very kings of predators?

So, let me get this straight. The UN has secretly commissioned the construction of a high tech mechanical mega shark (not to mention a much smaller prototype) just in case another megalodon turns up someday? Sure, it’s happened twice already (see Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus and Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus), but the odds of it happening again have to be extremely remote. Of course, it does come in handy when megalodon number three does turn up at the port of Alexandria, Egypt – as long as it’s not being controlled by Dr. Rosie Gray (Elisabeth Rohm), anyway. It makes for a classic The Asylum opening, as our sharp-toothed hero redesigns the Giza plateau with one simple flip. It’s really not his fault, though. There he was, encased for millennia in a mound of ice, not hurting anyone, when some boat comes along, tears away his personal ice shelf, and totes it down to a drought-stricken Egypt. When you’re suddenly awakened from that kind of epic sleep session, you’re going to be cranky. You’re going to be hungry, too – and then you’re going to want to look for a mate. It’s sort of unfortunate that our megalodon decides to head toward Australia rather than Japan, though – as much as I love Japan, I wouldn’t mind seeing a few of those Japanese whalers taught a hard lesson on natural selection.

Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark has just about everything you would expect from a classic Asylum monster epic – ridiculous science; lots of explosions and underwater action; attacks by sea, by land, and by air; and heroic characters pulling off one ridiculous stunt after another. As a bonus, the film does not inflict any kind of love triangle or love reconciliation subplot on the audience for once (the heroes are already happily married). Unfortunately, though, it gives Debbie Gibson (who, as we all know by now, is the world’s leading expert on mega sharks) scant screen time with just a few cameo scenes. Am I wrong to expect at least one hot babe getting significant screen time in a film of this type? Wrong or not, there’s very little eye candy to be found here. Overall, I have to say that this is still a pretty good movie – but it just never manages to get past third gear. It definitely falls short of the previous Mega Shark movies.


The Curse of the Pharaohs (English Subtitled) (English Subtitled)
The Curse of the Pharaohs (English Subtitled) (English Subtitled)
DVD
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Quite interesting Russian perspective on the curse of King Tut's tomb, July 29, 2015
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It’s interesting to hear a Russian perspective on the whole idea of the curse associated with the opening of King Tut’s tomb. This Russian documentary throws out all kinds of ideas concerning that subject – from pure coincidence to mold or bacteria in the long-sealed tomb or poisons in the mummy wrappings. One person interviewed even throws out the idea of AIDS, insinuating that Lord Carnarvon’s death could have been brought about by AIDS-induced double pneumonia. Thankfully, biologists weigh in to shoot that random idea down pretty quickly. Another suggestion attempts to answer the big question as to why Howard Carter, the man who opened the tomb and truly disturbed the young pharaoh’s eternal rest, lived to a ripe old age by suggesting that the curse only hit those who had what you might call ulterior motives. Thus, Carter – who wanted all of the treasures to remain in Egypt – was spared, whereas a profit-driven Lord Carnarvon, who wanted to take as much plunder back to England as possible, was the first to die. Of course, I don’t believe anyone interviewed for this documentary puts any real stock in the idea of a curse of the pharaohs, but almost all of them do give voice to the unique spiritual aspects of the discovery. The video also revealed something that I had somehow missed – the discovery of a hidden cache of Egyptian artifacts discovered inside the Carnarvon estate just a few years ago.


The Secret of the Egyptian Pyramids (English Subtitled) (English Subtitled)
The Secret of the Egyptian Pyramids (English Subtitled) (English Subtitled)
DVD
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars No revelations but a good overview of alternative views on Egyptology, July 27, 2015
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Alas, there are no shocking answers revealed in this Russian television documentary. It basically frames the discovery of what is behind the door found in one of the shafts of the Great Pyramid’s Queen’s Room as the big payoff at the end, then quickly exits stage left after revealing what Gantenbrink’s UPUAUT 2 showed us in 2002. Along the way, though, the documentary provides a good overview of a lot of alternative historical and scientific thought about the Giza monuments, the building of the pyramids, the age of the Sphinx, and the true origins of human civilization. If you’re already familiar with the works of John Anthony West, Robert Schoch, Gordon Hancock, Robert Bauval, and other researchers, you probably won’t see or hear anything you’re not already familiar with. Anyone unaware of the increasingly shaky ground on which traditional Egyptology sits, however, may well find this video fascinating. It is certainly interesting to hear Russian scientists openly embrace ideas concerning Atlantis and the existence of a lost, highly advanced civilization – the existence of which would, as one interviewed scientist points out, overturn the dialectical materialism argument of Karl Marx.


Godzilla 2000
Godzilla 2000
DVD ~ Hiroshi Abe
Price: $5.49
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4.0 out of 5 stars The welcome return of the real Godzilla, July 27, 2015
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This review is from: Godzilla 2000 (DVD)
Once upon a time, Toho actually killed off the Big G to make way for a trio of Godzilla films to be made in America by TriStar. Fortunately, 1998’s Godzilla proved to be more than enough of this American kaiju nonsense, opening the door for Toho to bring the real Godzilla back well ahead of his 50th birthday in 2004. Thus was born Godzilla 2000, the first film in the Godzilla Millennium series. So, you basically have to forget everything that happened in the previous twenty-three Godzilla movies, apart from G’s appearance as a monster brought to life by tests of the atomic bomb. Godzilla 2000 actually serves as a darn good comeback for the champ, who had never looked better than the mean, green, fighting machine he is in this film. With redesigned scales and a more ferocious mouth, Godzilla actually looks like the monster he’s supposed to be. The special effects are good, too – featuring a nice blend of the crappy CGI and “guy in a rubber suit” shots that I frankly expect and want to see in a Godzilla film with a pretty impressive extended boss fight scene at the end.

Godzilla 2000’s only real weakness is the story. We’re barely introduced to the main characters before Godzilla shows up and starts stomping his way toward energy sources, including a nuclear plant. The writers apparently didn’t want anything, including character development, getting in the way of their good, old-fashioned, Tokyo-stomping fun. Snippets of backstory are added to a couple of characters but are never developed at all. A larger problem is, of course, the English dubbing. Tri-Star actually forked out a good deal of money to secure this film’s American theatrical release, shaving off about seven minutes of running time and adding far too many classic American expressions like “Great Caesar’s Ghost” and “Bite me.” I swear they even have one Japanese guy inexplicably yell “Gott in Himmel” when he sees Godzilla.

Godzilla’s opponent begins life as a rock. When a team of Japanese scientists try to recover a 600 million year old meteorite from the seafloor, the thing floats up on its own and soon takes off into the sky. In reality, it’s a UFO that draws power from sunlight. Godzilla isn’t buying the whole rock routine, though, immediately attacking the thing. After feeling each other out in that first round, both sides return to their respective corners, with the UFO hacking Japan’s computers and learning about Godzilla’s remarkable regenerative process while Godzilla bides his time waiting for the real confrontation. Weak storyline and characterization aside, the penultimate rumble in central Tokyo really delivers – and that’s what we care about the most, right? I just don’t consider Godzilla 2000 as forgettable as a lot of other fans seem to consider it. This Godzilla looks great, and he isn’t playing around, and that’s why I’m quite fond of this film.


Atomic Twister (PAL System)
Atomic Twister (PAL System)

5.0 out of 5 stars A great made-for-TV movie, July 12, 2015
This review is from: Atomic Twister (PAL System) (DVD)
Originally aired on TBS in 2002, Atomic Twister is a darned good made-for-TV movie showing how deadly a combination tornadoes and nuclear power plants can be. Critics say it bears little relation to how nuclear power plants are run, but who cares? Let them start their own Nuclear Physicist Channel if they want to show us how things really are. The fact of the matter is that – as we saw with Chernobyl – bad human decision-making is really what leads to nuclear disasters. You can have all of the redundant backup systems in the world, but they won’t do you any good if some bonehead turns them off. Truly, this film does little to inspire public confidence in the safety of nuclear power, but it does make for a surprisingly gripping hour and a half of entertainment.

All of western Tennessee is in danger of being wiped off the map when a string of tornadoes bear down on a town adjacent to the Helman-Klein Nuclear Power Plant. The town is apparently free of any trailer parks whatsoever, so two of the tornadoes head right for the plant. The place is supposed to be able to handle two tornado strikes, but that’s according to the same people that tell us nuclear power is safe to begin with. Cut off from contact with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and working on partial backup power only, plant supervisor Corrine Maguire (Sharon Lawrence) finds herself trying to avert the unthinkable. With a serious leak in the pipes, the water in the waste pool is evaporating quickly; offline systems prevent her from shutting down the main reactor; and the plant apparently has only a crew of four people on hand to prevent a complete meltdown. Not good.

Despite all hell breaking loose in his town, the local sheriff (Corbin Bernsen) never leaves the office throughout the entire film. All of the real work is done by his daughter’s former fiancée Jake Hannah (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), who serves as a tornado spotter, helps rescue tornado victims, searches for Corrine’s lost son, and helps out at the nuclear plant. All of the personal storylines are clichéd, but they still play quite well. I also have to mention that Olympian Carl Lewis also appears in this film and answers the question for anyone wondering if Carl Lewis could outrun a tornado.

If most made-for-TV movies were half as good as Atomic Twister, the world would be a happier place. Just don’t want it with some know-it-all who likes to nitpick every inaccuracy he sees in a purely fictional movie.


Amityville 3-D
Amityville 3-D
DVD ~ Tony Roberts
Offered by kylakins
Price: $8.34
60 used & new from $0.33

3.0 out of 5 stars Not scary but still worth watching, July 11, 2015
This review is from: Amityville 3-D (DVD)
Beginning with this third film in the Amityville series, we’re no longer dealing with events that purportedly took place in the real house at 112 Ocean Avenue. Of course, the legacy of those events provided plenty of fodder for this and a seemingly endless number of sequels, and Amityville 3-D doesn’t do anything to curb the series’ momentum. That being said, this is a much different film than its predecessors – no one gets possessed, there’s really no blood and gore to speak of, and there are no real scares to be found. With its PG-13 rating, it’s the one Amityville film you can watch with your whole family. It was also the last Amityville film to get a theatrical release until the 2005 remake of the original. The filmmakers seem to rely on the 3-D effects to press the buttons of the audience. Only recently has a 3-D version actually been released – available as part of Scream Factory’s Amityville Horror Trilogy Blu-ray box set – but I’ve only seen the 2-D version. Still, you can at least tell which scenes were intended to bling things at the eyes of the audience. The 3-D technology also allowed Orion to release this film with a 3 in the title – a pending lawsuit with George Lutz forbade them from describing this as a sequel to either of the first two films.

I love the film’s opening scene featuring a séance conducted in the house. That indirectly leads to journalist John Baxter (Tony Roberts), who makes his living debunking haunted houses, purchasing the place. Obviously, he did not believe in the paranormal, and the house was a great buy for a man having to move out of his old house because he was divorcing his wife. Naturally, tragic “coincidences” begin happening almost immediately, but John won’t listen to the warnings he receives from his work partner and soon-to-be ex-wife, who forbids the couple’s daughter Susan (Lori Loughlin) from ever going back there. Susan’s friend Lisa (Meg Ryan) has other ideas, though, as she’s fascinated by the murder house. Enter a team of paranormal researchers, and everything is in place for an explosive – but less than thrilling – ending.

Amityville 3-D pretty much tanked at the box office and has never fared well at all with film critics. It also tends to disappoint any fans that expect the kind of scary experience offered up by the first two films. This film simply wasn’t designed to be scary; if anything, the story served as a vehicle for jumping into the brief 3-D craze of the early 1980s. If you accept the film for what it is, though, I think the story still manages to play fairly well – especially all of these years later. It certainly takes nothing away from the legend and mystique of the Amityville house – and it gives you a chance to see Meg Ryan and Lori Loughlin before they were stars.


Snow Shark
Snow Shark
DVD ~ Michael O'Hear and Jackey Hall Sam Qualiana
Price: $4.99
28 used & new from $2.65

1.0 out of 5 stars An abominably bad movie, July 3, 2015
This review is from: Snow Shark (DVD)
Any self-respecting quest to seek out the worst movie ever made must go through Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast at some point. While this isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen, it is bad – really, really bad. But, heck, you know that already based solely on the title. Now don’t go picturing deep Arctic snowdrifts in your head – this ancient snow beast, despite its significant size, somehow swims beneath two or three inches of snow on the ground. Even the rapidly decreasing hick population of the town doesn’t believe in the snow shark, despite the fact that a local teenager claimed he shot and killed one twelve years earlier. The evidence was destroyed in a fire, you see. Nothing kills tourism like wild stories about snow sharks.

It all started with an earthquake (presumably, that awoke the prehistoric shark from his millennia-long nap). Soon after, a scientific team came to investigate why all of the local forest animals seemed to have disappeared – and disappeared themselves. Now, twelve years have passed, and the snow shark is back. The mayor calls in a biologist, a cryptozoologist, and a famed hunter to find and neutralize whatever is killing local citizens on a daily basis. Locals ammo up and go on the hunt themselves. Yes, there will be blood – lots and lots of fake blood strewn across the snow.

I can’t point to any positive aspect of this film. All of the outdoors scenes look like they were filmed in somebody’s back yard. The acting is just horrible all across the board – which may be for the best given the fact that the script and dialogue is so stilted and abysmal. You can’t look forward to the shark attacks, either – they usually just amount to somehow hollering as “blood” is thrown across the camera lens. On the occasions when we do get to see more than the fin of the shark, you end up wishing you could have just left it to your imagination because it’s not impressive in the least. Even the scene with a couple of topless women coming out of a Jacuzzi is hard to watch – frankly, I found the shark more attractive. Unless you are determined to seek out the very worst movies ever made, just leave Snow Shark alone.


UFOs: Above and Beyond
UFOs: Above and Beyond
DVD
Price: $2.99

2.0 out of 5 stars James Doohan is the only good thing about this documentary, July 2, 2015
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Like several other reviewers, I only watched this documentary because it was hosted by James Doohan. Having watched it now, I would say that James Doohan is the only reason you would want to watch UFOs: Above and Beyond. I am convinced that Earth is being (and has long been) visited by extraterrestrials, but this video doesn’t make a very strong case for UFO reality. Some of the photo and video evidence may have been presented here for the first time, but virtually all of it is familiar to anyone with an interest in ufology today. Indeed, a lot of it goes back to the 1950s and 1960s. Those types of grainy images are far from conclusive, and you don’t get a lot of time to study anything you’re seeing. It appears obvious that the makers of this documentary tried to cram in as many images as possible; these things come at you faster than the chocolate came at Lucy and Ethel on that classic episode of I Love Lucy. More unfortunate still is the fact that two of the few times the video slowed down to focus on a single witness, the subjects were Bob Lazar and Billy Myers, neither of whom are given any credibility among ufologists. I really can’t recommend this documentary to anyone apart from James Doohan fans. It’s not going to convince anyone that UFOs are real.


San Andreas Quake
San Andreas Quake
DVD ~ Grace Van Dien
Price: $8.75
40 used & new from $3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another entertaining Asylum knockoff disaster film, June 26, 2015
This review is from: San Andreas Quake (DVD)
Once again, The Asylum shows why it is the king of low-budget knockoffs. Sure, the story is old and formulaic, some of the CGI effects are pretty bad, and some of the acting doesn’t measure up, but I still think this is a pretty darn good Asylum disaster movie. I sort of feel sorry for those who can’t just sit back and get some enjoyment out of a silly little film like this. I, for one, love Asylum disaster movies, and this one has all of the standard Asylum elements: one or more parents – one of whom has detailed knowledge of the natural disaster taking place – fighting to reach and save a child, a scientist with information no one takes seriously, “on the road” conversations about how bad the traffic is when we the viewers never see another single car going in either direction, periodic “news updates” on the deepening crisis, and, of course, the wholly predictable ending.

Molly Dunn (Jhey Castles) is a seismologist who has developed a system capable of predicting earthquakes up to several hours before they hit. Unfortunately, her inability to back up those claims several years earlier means that no one believes her – not even her step-daughter Ali (Grace Van Dien). As a series of increasingly large quakes begins to strike the Los Angeles area, though, Molly alone knows and believes that the long-dreaded “big one” is going to decimate Los Angeles within just a few hours. Even though she has a strained relationship with her step-daughter, she insists on trying to reach Ali in downtown L.A. and usher her to safety. She doesn’t go alone, but the identity of her companion and Molly’s interaction with that person is a major part of the story I don’t want to reveal.

I really like Grace Van Dien, and not just because she looks like a hot clone of Avril Lavigne in this movie. She’s a promising young actress I hope to see more of in the future. Molly’s traveling companion also turns in a good performance. As with pretty much all Asylum films, there are several goofs and mistakes – but I actually find these little things sort of endearing; they’re like the Asylum’s calling card. Still, the whole zoo-related scene is really pretty bad – terrible CGI and one shot against blatantly wrong scenery. Now, I understand that most people do not share my appreciation of the Asylum’s body of work, and I readily admit that some Asylum movies do indeed merit one star only – but San Andreas Quake really isn’t a bad film. I say try it – you might just like it.


Willow Creek [Blu-ray]
Willow Creek [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Bryce Johnson
Offered by Big_Box_Bargains
Price: $18.90
29 used & new from $10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily one of my all-time favorite "found footage" films, June 24, 2015
This review is from: Willow Creek [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Willow Creek easily lands itself a spot in my top five “found footage” films. This, my friends, is found footage done right (and, as for Bigfoot films in general, Willow Creek is the new champion). I was rather shocked to learn that Bobcat Goldthwait wrote and directed this gem, but it’s clear that the funny man knows how to make an effective horror thriller. Rare indeed are the films that can invoke an element of the creeps in this horror veteran’s bones, but Willow Creek succeeds in doing just that with one of the most atmospheric and uncomfortable (not to mention longest) scenes I’ve seen in years.

The first half of the movie comes across as pretty formulaic. Jim (Bryce Johnson) and his girlfriend Kelly (Alexis Gilmore) head off to Willow Creek, California, to fulfill Jim’s lifelong dream of exploring the very area where Roger Patterson (alongside his buddy Bob Gimlin) filmed the most compelling video footage of Bigfoot ever captured. Kelly isn’t really the outdoors type, and she does not share her boyfriend’s belief in the existence of Sasquatch, but she agrees to go along just to make Jim happy. That right there is love, people. First, of course, they do the whole tourist thing in Willow Creek – grabbing a Bigfoot Burger, filming landmark signs and statues, and interviewing locals for Jim’s documentary of the trip. For those interested in Bigfoot, it’s a lot of fun stuff, including a little Tom Yamarone performance of his tune “Roger and Bob (Rode Out That Day).” A couple of locals do warn the couple not to go into the forest, but Jim’s not about to give up on his dream. Once they do hike deep into the woods, this film hits a whole new gear, best exemplified by an unforgettable twenty one and a half minutes long “one take” scene. Goldthwait peels back all the layers of modern horror theatrics to expose the audience to raw, gradually building terror. It’s brilliant – it really is.

Another positive aspect of this film is the fact that it’s not wrapped in the trappings pervading this particular genre. There’s no introductory bit with law enforcement asking for help with the case, no news report of anyone getting lost in the woods – none of that crap that tends to reveal what is going to happen. The ending of the film is also praiseworthy – and not just because it is well-done by all involved. It also starts some neurons firing, leading you to suddenly grasp additional insight into what you’ve seen well after you finished watching the movie.

If your high hopes for Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes were dashed or if you generally enjoy “found footage” films, I highly recommend that you give Willow Creek a try. This film avoids all of the mistakes that afflict so many films of this genre. I know I’m going to enjoy returning to this movie again and again in the future.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 25, 2015 8:17 PM PDT


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