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Dorfman Pacific Indiana Jones Men's Outback Hat 555, Brown
Dorfman Pacific Indiana Jones Men's Outback Hat 555, Brown
Price: $26.20 - $68.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Indiana Jones hat for an adult Lost Ark costume! Surprisingly high quality and a great replica!!!, October 2, 2015
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I love this hat. When it arrived with an Indiana Jones tag attached to it, I wondered if I just ordered some uber-cheap kids prop for a costume. It's not. Fits great and, might I add, this hat (at $26) is far superior to the half dozen other hats ($15-30) I found in Halloween stores--some calling their hats Raiders replicas, others not. Regardless of quality, this also appears more like the Indiana Jones hat than ANY other I could find. What a nice surprise!

6 Leather Whip Indiana Jones
6 Leather Whip Indiana Jones
Offered by Great Price Fast Service
Price: $6.22
49 used & new from $2.65

5.0 out of 5 stars This looks shockingly legit; add it to your ADULT Indiana Jones costume, as well as for kids. This was a steal!, October 2, 2015
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This review is from: 6 Leather Whip Indiana Jones (Toy)
I just received this order for my Indiana Jones costume. As an adult, I want more legit looking costume pieces. I ordered this with much skepticism, expecting it to be an obvious kid's toy (it is rather cheaply priced). Even though it's not very long, it actually looks shockingly real for something so inexpensive. Since all the time it will be hanging from my waist and coiled up, no one would ever know it wasn't the real thing unless they closely inspected it. This thing (which I'll never actually use as a whip for even a moment, granted) is GREAT!

Price: $6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, flesh-eating horror comedy that is as fresh as the flesh it infects., October 1, 2015
This review is from: Cooties (Amazon Instant Video)
Within minutes of hitting play I already love this film. It’s well-scored, much like some dark children’s fantasy in fact, and visually visceral for reasons having nothing to do with conventional gore. During the playfully-fonted opening credits we enjoy a serious sequence depicting a chicken factory of sorts complete with neck-breaking, rich bright colors as a fly defecates on the chicken carcass (hinted as the cooties virus introduction), limbs being clipped with sheers and separating organs while music reminiscent of child-like discovery plays in the background. From the slaughterhouse and factory, to the fryer and the elementary school cafeteria we are welcomed to Cooties with a sense of jovial adventure.
When we meet Clint (Elijah Wood; Maniac, The Faculty) and his mother (Kate Flannery), they instantly resurrect an almost resentfully nostalgic and entertaining dynamic. Poor Clint is a good-intentioned, likable loser substitute-teaching at his elementary alma mater which is now overrun with over-entitled, legally empowered kids with profanely bad attitudes. These kids are heinous and say some truly awful things (that made me laugh out loud).

A sort of viral, flesh-eating zombie outbreak ensues when a pig-tailed patient zero eats a contaminated chicken nugget and bites off a 10-yr old douchebag’s cheek. After opening with loads of awkward humor, the film now builds comedic inertia in the form of the most forgivably zany mayhem of violence against children accompanied by a storm of snippy quips which will draw smiles until the movie’s end. Why is this violence against children so acceptable? Because it’s completely cartoonish.

Wonderfully written by Leigh Whannell (Saw 1-3, Dead Silence, Insidious 1-3) and directed by a pair of newcomers, Cooties is as fresh as the flesh it infects. Everything about this movie is done well: the camera-work, the writing, the characters and the decisions they make, the story, the humor, the gore and the acting. I rarely get to say this about horror, but I just loved these characters. Jorge Garcia (Lost) is a joy as the drug-using crossing guard; Leigh Whannell is delightfully awkward as a socially disconnected science teacher; Alison Pill (Snowpiercer) is the sweet, unavailable love interest; and Rainn Wilson (Six Feet Under, Super) and his handlebar mustache dominate the screen as the jockish gym teacher.
Everyone had something valuable to offer! This goes doubly for the filmmakers on the other side of the camera of this film which knows exactly what it is in all the best ways. Deviating from recent horror comedies like Zombeavers (2014) or Love in the Time of Monsters (2015), Cooties delivers a high quality product whose re-watchability does not rely on alcohol; rising far above the likes of “fun B-movies.”

This is more than a B-movie, but falls shy of the theatrical greatness of Shaun of the Dead. We have a disembowelment-dismemberment scene that tips its hat to Dawn of the Dead (1978), Rainn Wilson goes all-state football (complete with spins, fakes, clotheslines and spins) through a horde of children, and a guy dies right after saying “Follow me, I do CrossFit!” The humor is sharp and abundant, right up until Rainn goes Rambo, the janitor turns out to be a Japanese martial arts master, and they medicate the ravenous kids with Ritalin and Adderall.

It’s surprisingly satisfying seeing teachers kick the crap out of these kids and, just as we’d want it, Rainn Wilson gets all of the most dramatic scenes. He may hog them, but he owns them. We even enjoy some jabs at the state of overly regulated workplaces, political control over teaching material, and contemporary views on cellphones in schools.

Fresh, hilarious and smartly scripted, this film was a joy. The gore, humor and story fall shy of Shaun of the Dead, but this horror comedy remains something very impressive. I was impressed. Everyone should see and enjoy this movie. Think of it as Shaun of the Dead’s younger brother; he shows loads of promise but hasn’t fully grown up yet…but just wait until he does.

Harbinger Down
Harbinger Down
Price: $3.99

3.0 out of 5 stars The entertaining yet lackluster mutant monster lovechild of The Thing (1982) and Leviathan (1989)., September 26, 2015
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Before seeing the film, the trailer appeared to have all the makings of an admirable callback to The Thing (1982)…along with the newer The Thing (2011) and Leviathan (1989). Instead this was more like a lackluster rehashing and--while I must admit I had A LOT OF FUN watching this flick--it failed in properly honoring anything of the aforementioned sacred horror canon. But again, it remains a solidly entertaining way to spend 90 minutes of a monster movie lover's evening. Especially if you enjoy tentacle monsters and squishy effects.

The meager budget is evident from the opening sequence, featuring a space shape "CGI-crashing" through the Earth's atmosphere. Not gonna' lie…I wasn't impressed. The film quality (to a trained eye anyway) offered further indications of financial constraints. Worse yet, as we are introduced to the characters I feel I am also being introduced to writer/director Alec Gillis' first time writing. I'm really not impressed. But hold on just a second! We're not here for CGI space ships, gorgeous film quality or Oscar-worthy scripts are we? No. We came here with the promise of creature effects. So while I felt obligated to warn of the aforementioned flaws, these are not the kinds of flaws that should deter monster movie overs from watching this kind of movie.

The story follows an academic troupe (two grad students and their professor) who join the crew of the Harbinger, an Alaskan crabbing boat in the Bering Sea. The scientists aim to study a pod of Beluga whales and how their biology has been affected by climate change. After recovering some Soviet space wreckage embedded in an iceberg, the scientists' interest change. It seems that this Russian space crew was returning from a moon mission researching tardigrades (also known as water bears or Tardigrada; biology's most extreme environment-tolerant microorganisms known).

As quickly as characters are introduced, they find reasons to be catty or confrontational--not a good sign for when things undoubtedly take a bad turn later. After recovering the contaminated wreckage, we get the news that radio and phone communication is down because of the approaching storm! Making the smartest decision in the entire movie, the Harbinger's captain (Lance Henriksen; Aliens, AVP, The Pit and the Pendulum) orders that the wreckage be placed in the ship hold until they return to the mainland. Much as in Species (1995) and Apollo 18 (2011), and much to the delight of horror fans, the astronauts were exposed and their remains are now thawing in the Harbinger's ship hold; safely away from the crew. But of course, some scientists just can't wait and sneak down there. Upon examination, the scientists and Harbinger crew are exposed to the tardigrades, which evidently mutate at an alarming rate, even hijacking and changing the DNA of those they infect.

First time writer/director Alec Gillis has had loads of experience with special effects: Aliens (1986), Leviathan (1989), Starship Troopers (1997), Evolution (2001), AVP: Aliens vs Predator (2004) and AVPR (2007) to name a few of his wins in terms of creature effects. The effects in this film may roll a few unconvinced eyes, but he did all right with the creature effects. The effects were abundant, often gross or somewhat disturbing, and quite squishy! Contrastingly, Gillis has had no experience with writing or directing, so we hear terms like "climate change" thrown around a dozen times among a sea of stale line delivery. We even endure a crooked nod to Jaws (1975) in the form of "we're gonna' need a bigger bucket." But let's focus on the good, shall we?

We see many call backs to the familiar. An infected victim's bloody goo self-coagulates and moves around on its own like The Thing (1982; blood test scene), the scientists seem to be experts on all things science (an annoying trait among scientist characters across the genre), the monstrous infection lies latent in the infected for a time like The Thing (1982), we have a scene with a woman waste deep in dangerous water reminding us of Newt in Aliens (1986), a naked woman is monstrously modified like The Thing (2011), the monster combines with the sum of its victims and eventually assumes a semi-insectoid crustacean-like form (after absorbing two tons of crab) like in Leviathan (1989), and in the end (like in The Thing (1982)) we resort to refreezing the monster (and everyone infected) in the ice.

Overall, this movie is simultaneously disappointing and entertaining at the same time. It captured none of the urgency, care for the characters, creepy atmosphere or gravity of those films it clearly emulated. Steering clear of the dire fear of "who goes there?" we know almost right away that just about everyone is infected, and no effort is properly manifested to make us fear who is or isn't infected. On the other hand, there were loads of satisfying tentacles and monster shots! I, for one, will not be buying this for my collection. However, I do not at all regret spending a few bucks to see it OnDemand/PPV.

The Visit (DVD)
The Visit (DVD)
DVD ~ Olivia DeJonge
Price: $16.76

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars M. Night Shyamalan’s latest twist into a very credible dark fairy tale., September 16, 2015
This review is from: The Visit (DVD) (DVD)
This film is strange, loaded with disarming comic relief, geriatrically creepy, twisted, and doesn’t feel like found footage…all in a good way. The theme would have worked better if rated-R, but this still stands out as an exceptional with solid performances from our young actors.

More playfully approached than in his past endeavors, Shyamalan returns to tell the Grimm-undertoned story of two young children going to meet their estranged grandparents for the first time. Their mother (Kathryn Hahn) is conflicted about the visit, having not spoken to her parents in the fifteen years since she left on bad terms as a teenager. We all know from the trailers that the grandparents seem nice yet weird. Perhaps just early onset dementia…? Or perhaps a big Shyamalanadingdong twist! Because that’s what we’ve come to know Shyamalan for, right? Big twists. Bruce Willis was dead the whole time! Sam Jackson was the villain! Everything happens for a reason—SWING AWAY! So it’s fair to say that there is almost definitely something behind the curtain that isn’t evident from the trailer.

The performances by the two child actors are compelling and manage to direct us through the story surprisingly effectively. The 13 yr old boy Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) seems gawky at first, but he turned out to be great and what seemed the least credible about him at first quickly became his most endearing characteristic. He provides the more naïve perspective along with the comic relief, rapping in front of Nana, joking about dead bodies in the work shed (far before anything strange has happened), and being the first to frighten. The first two thirds of this film will find you smiling quite often and nearly entirely due to this character’s welcomed antics. It may downplay the urgency but it also contributes to lowering our guard.

The older sister Becca (Olivia DeJonge), our filmographer in this odyssey of estranged family reunification, is the serious one. Intent on uncovering and documenting her grandparents’ forgiveness for her mother’s alienation, she keeps the story grounded and provides a credible case for found footage as she sets out to simultaneously feed her hunger for filmmaking and mend a sundered family. She is articulate, perceptive beyond her years, and along with Tyler she harbors a powerful insecurity after recently being abandoned by her father.

Both children excel in offering refreshingly sincere performances and credible characters. Between their anxious mother and their quirky senescing grandparents, these children serve as our home base in terms of sanity. But we also watch as they turn a blind eye to some red flags in the name of senility and their desire to have a more complete family.

After some understandably awkward introductions, their week of family bonding kicks off with some home cooking by day and an intro to the weirder side of senility by night. It turns out that Nana (Deanna Dunagan) suffers from a form of nocturnal dementia called sun downing. Her mornings are filled with a sweet, meek farmhouse manner. But her late nights are filled with projectile vomiting, charging through the hallways, and nude wall scratching—making her a good candidate for a home visit from an old priest and a young priest. But it’s not just Nana. Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie; Daredevil) is occasionally non-responsive, paranoid, confused, and he’s doing something in his work shed. He also doesn’t want the kids in the basement or to leave their bedroom after 9:30pm. Many elderly folks run a tight ship and have some reasonable rules of the house, but these just raise suspicions.

With each day they seem to encounter increasingly strange behavior lending less and less credence to the grandparents’ mental wellness or the kids’ safety. However, our guard is dropped with the understanding that “they’re just old.” We are reminded of this notion repeatedly by the grandparents themselves. We want to accept their frailties and overcome our feeling of uneasiness. We, too, have grandparents and we don’t want to take away their independence should they start to fade…at least, not until they’ve faded too far. And how far is too far? This story tests that boundary.

As if serving as a countdown of some horrible conclusion, each day is marked by a caption on the screen…Monday….Tuesday…Wednesday… The visit wears down to its last days and the weird behavior mounts, and so does Becca’s penchant to film interviews and capture the catharsis of forgiveness to help heal their long-estranged family. No matter how strange (or bad) things seem, she still wants her interview—and Nana really doesn’t seem comfortable giving that up. One must wonder why.

I often questioned just where this ride was taking us? Some people stop by the house and I start to wonder if the grandparents are possessed by some unconventional means, or if they are part of a cult, or if they are being compelled or threatened to do something to the kids. Was their mother unknowingly going to be a victim of one of these things until she escaped by running away?

With The Village (2004) and The Lady in the Water (2006) under his belt, it should come as no surprise that Shyamalan festoons his story with dark fairy tale imagery. “We’re off to grandmother’s house” located far from the nearest neighbors with Nana filling her fare with freshly baked confections, a Grimm flashback as she urges her granddaughter into the oven with a bizarre smile, a grandfather smacking of a twisted “woodsman” role, things start out so nice but slowly degenerate into their true nature, and all of the house “rules.” Further seasoning this fairy tale stew is Becca’s reference to a magical elixir (i.e., forgiveness) to cure her mother and Nana tells tales of another planet where everyone can be happy together. This is framed as a cautionary tale, but with the caution kept secret until the end.

More creepy than scary, littered with down-to-earth comic relief, and with a premise that makes found footage appropriate--this is an example of film done right as it distracts us from the finish line while providing all the signs that clearly point us in the right direction. It also hardly feels like found footage after the first 10 minutes as the shots are typically steady.

The final twist is horrifying in concept but doesn’t translate to film as effectively as Shyamalan’s past reveals have. But I don’t care. I liked it a lot for what it was. The scenes are all entertaining, whether funny or tense. Truly, though, from the light-hearted and often comical opening acts, Shyamalan was trying to transition us to more dire feelings. It only sort of worked. I must also admit that this was something that really wanted to be rated R. Of course, that’s not Shyamalan’s style. But I think that an R-treatment would have improved it; it would have fueled the shift from comic relief in the beginning to a third act of greater gravity.

Overall, I was very pleased with this.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Featuring a very different setting and more creative kills, this may be the most re-watchable NOES film., September 11, 2015
The saga continues as Freddy returns to kill off “the last Elm Street kids,” whose parents took part in burning the child murderer Fred Krueger to death years ago. Director Chuck Russell (The Blob) delivers this third franchise installment in a mental hospital (6 years after the events of part 1) which houses several teenagers who all share the same nightmare of a man with claws on one hand, a burnt face and an ugly sweater. Coming to their aid, Nancy (Heather Langenkamp; A Nightmare on Elm Street) returns to Springwood with a Master’s Degree in psychology and supports the young patients’ claims, which are largely dismissed as mass hysteria by the staff. How convenient [diabolical laugh].

The five troubled teen patients are an eclectic bunch and include Patricia Arquette (Stigmata), Rodney Eastman (I Spit on Your Grave) and Jennifer Rubin (Screamers, Bad Dreams). You’ll also enjoy a young Laurence Fishburne (Event Horizon, The Colony) as an orderly to round out a solid cast in this surprisingly well written horror movie in which, as seems to be a trend in the NOES franchise, Freddy’s menace becomes increasingly iconic of sick humor rather than terror.

The by-now iconic Freddy (Robert Englund; Wishmaster, Hatchet) returns as the same demonic power with the red and green sweater, a single clawed glove, a face still-moistly burned beyond recognition, and a penchant for painfully raking his claws over metal objects. However, unlike part 1 and Freddy’s Revenge, Freddy is now more outspoken and no longer hides in the shadows like a mysterious boogeyman. He has a much more active role on screen.

What makes this sequel completely dissimilar to its predecessor is that it doesn’t take place in the residences or high school on Elm Street. The mental hospital offers an eerie new medium for Freddy, and a convenient one since the hospital staff readily considers the teen deaths (as they mount in the story) to be the suicides of troubled youth!

Another interesting touch is that, in their nightmares with Freddy, each of the teen dreamers retains a sort of special power they always had in their dreams. A wheelchair-bound Dungeons and Dragons dork becomes a physically capable wizard, the attitudinal token black guy has super strength, the drug addict becomes a mohawked punk knife fighter, the mute gains the ability to speak, and our heroine becomes an acrobat. These abilities help them combat Freddy in the dreamworld while, in turn, Freddy uses their fears and weaknesses against them.

This third installment also plays with the rules of Freddy’s dreamscape. In part 1 we were introduced to the terrifying notion that someone can kill us in our dreams (and we really die!) and Nancy was able to pull Freddy into reality, part 2 removed from us not only control of our dreams but also control of our body while awake, and now in Dream Warriors people can pull each other into their dreams and Freddy is able to depart the dream world and enter reality on his own—which doesn’t seem to follow “the NOES rules.” That last bit (Freddy choosing to crossover into reality) may seem like a horrible rule violation, but I forgive it. It happened only once, it was prefaced with his increased power from accumulating souls, and it made for a great scene in which he possessed his own burnt remains (a charred skeleton) to prevent Nancy’s father (John Saxon; Blood Beach, A Nightmare on Elm Street) from burying his remains on holy ground. Watching the skeleton battle Nancy’s father and the hospital psychiatrist was pure joy!

This sequel has also steered clear of the unease of Freddy’s Revenge, instead offering more diverse kills to the Krueger formula. The wrist tendon puppeteering scene was brilliant and very hard to watch; “welcome to prime time” is one of Freddy’s best lines ever; a cripple faces the wheelchair from Hell; an addict meets a syringe-fingered Freddy; Joey and the sexy Freddy-succubus nurse was a great teen-fantasy-gone-wrong; and the Freddy-snake swallowing scene was appropriately shocking, unique and gross. Overall, this was the Freddy movie that started making the kills “fun” in addition to being creative. Freddy’s dreamscape has become a twisted carnival funhouse.

This is the kind of sequel the franchise deserves! We call back to many elements that worked before, like replacing shadowy, steam-spewing boiler rooms and the creepy power plant where Freddy worked in life with the junkyard where his remains were hidden; instead of face impressions on Nancy’s bedroom wall and Freddy’s form emerging through Jesse’s stomach and his claws piercing through his fingertips, we find Freddy manifesting himself through a television set; where once Freddy licked through the phone or lengthily licked the stomach of Jesse’s love interest, he now tethers a teenager’s limbs in a sick fantasy; and rather than slicing off his own fingers or revealing his own brain, he uncovers his soul-embedded chest. Also continuing to flavor the franchise, we revisit Nancy’s dilapidated dreamworld house and unnerving little girls, likely the ghosts of Freddy’s victims. I should add that I still enjoy ALL of the practical effects in all three of the first NOES films. Sometimes the simplicity makes it more gross, weird, off-putting, or even a bit funny; and thrillingly FUN.

Oh, right! And Dream Warriors has contributed to the Freddy mythology in the form of Amanda Krueger, a ghostly nun tells the horrible story of Freddy’s conception, the product of rape in a mental hospital. “Son of a hundred maniacs.”

Being presented in a completely different style, this is not comparable to the original. It remains a fun movie experience and well worth the ride for the first time or for a good re-watch. It certainly made me smile.

DVD ~ Hal Holbrook
Price: $4.57
60 used & new from $0.21

4.0 out of 5 stars This is one of the campier, fun anthologies from the days before anthologies were "in"; by Stephen King and George Romero!!!!!, September 3, 2015
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This review is from: Creepshow (DVD)
This is one of the more campy, nostalgic and fun anthologies from the days before anthologies were the “in” thing. Looking for a film that features sea zombies, silly murderous revenge, alien weeds, angry arctic man-eating primates and goofy bug infestations? Then this may be for you.

Much like Tales from the Crypt (1972) and The Vault of Horror (1973), Creepshow sweeps us away to a youthful horror comic nostalgia characterized by uncomplex (often unreasonably silly) stories of various hokey campy flavors. So if you’re one to analyze plots or the decisions of characters, you’ll surely find yourself frustrated. Consider this film to be scary only for much younger and more virginal horror fans and more of a nostalgic throwback to lifetime lovers of the genre. Not that I know anything about it, but I’ve read that this is an homage to 1950s EC horror comics. It certainly does have a comicbook-esque simplicity to the stories.

Featuring five stories written by Stephen King and directed by George Romero (Dawn of the Dead), this anthology is often revered as a fan favorite. The movie opens with a young boy, his Creepshow comicbook, and a disapproving father, and we subsequently flip through the comic pages in cartoon clip scenes delivering us to the short stories within…

Father’s Day is about murdered father who returns as a zombie to exact his revenge on…you guessed it…Father’s Day. This is an excellent example of how analyzing the plot will only upset you. Our zombie father’s grave is right next to his estate and, for whatever reason, it’s only after years and years of posthumous family Father’s Day dinners that the undead patriarch randomly rises. I found it enjoyably hokey and laughed. But make no mistake, this is stupid. LOL. The highlight for me was seeing a young Ed Harris (Snowpiercer) dancing the night away.

The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill offers a similar pleasure in that we find a young Stephen King playing a seemingly retarded hillbilly who discovers a meteor in his backyard. The meteor cracks open and oozes a glowing slime which our simpleton touches and finds himself “infected” with some sort of alien weed that grows all over his body, house and yard. The plot may be simple, but it’s not dumb. Sure, there are some hilariously stupid sequences with lame dialogue, but these are the fantasies of a simpleton. So it makes sense. It is funny, a bit creepy, and ends in a brutally practical manner.

Something to Tide You Over may have been the most dramatically engaging of the stories, about a methodical husband (Leslie Nielsen; Dracula, Dead and Loving It) who exacts his revenge against his adulterous wife and her lover (Ted Danson) in a rather cruel way…and he records it!!! In this story the humor is subtle and dark, and only campy in the very end for our surprise ending. This and the remaining stories are all a bit more mature.

The Crate is far-fetched but I certainly enjoyed the ride. A professor (Hal Holbrook; The Unholy) with a domineering alcoholic wife (Adrienne Barbeau; The Thing, Swamp Thing) encounters a crate that has been long forgotten in storage in the zoology department. Inside the crate waits a hungry, humanoid monster from an Antarctic expedition at the dawn of the century. This story features the most elaborate plot.

They're Creeping Up On You was by far my least favorite story of the anthology (followed by Father’s Day). Some rich business man with an overly modern, tech-rich condo and a roach-centric germophobic hypochondriasis finds himself plagued with his perceived incompetence of others and a domestic insect infestation. This drives him mad and drove me to boredom. Roaches crawling all over everything is not creepy or satisfying to me; it’s just dumb. That’s what this short story was: dumb.

OVERVIEW: I found the middle three short stories to be very engaging and the first and last to be considerably less satisfying (with Creeping Up being almost intolerably awful while maybe drawing one grin). This anthology would have been considerably better in my opinion if it was limited to the middle three stories (Jordy, Tide and Crate) and reduced from 120 to 90 minutes. But I know some people (e.g., the occasional Amazon reviewer) rather enjoyed Father’s Day and Creeping, so I’ll just say the middle stories are what won me over and got me to buy this.
In either case, this is a classic anthology from the days before anthologies were the “in” thing. You should probably watch it.

A Nightmare On Elm Street II: Freddy's Revenge
A Nightmare On Elm Street II: Freddy's Revenge
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Telling a very different story while keeping eveything we love about Freddy., August 25, 2015
This sequel maintains everything we love about Freddy while delivering a very different (however sloppily told) story. I think it’s a worthy sequel even if not comparable to the original…after all, so few sequels are.

With the original written and directed by Wes Craven (Cursed, Deadly Friend, Deadly Blessing), our new director Jack Sholder (Wishmaster 2, The Hidden) has some big shoes to fill. Thankfully, much as with Clive Barker’s step back after the first Hellraiser (1987) film, the original writer/director (Craven) contributed to the writing of this sequel. And further similar to Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988), Freddy’s Revenge continues where the original left off (5 years later anyway) but advanced with a unique storyline clearly separating this second installment as more than simply a rehashing of the first with a different set of victims.

Opening as playfully as the original ended, an obvious nightmare depicts a school bus ride gone wrong accompanied by some effects that could only be described as silly by today’s standards—yet I still love them. Clearly this sequel has brought every bit of humor from the original, and then added more of its own—but we also maintained the dark and dire evil aspects. From his very introduction Freddy laughs noticeably more frequently in this film as his malicious and cruel humor cuts into our moral fiber. This notion was a trend set in part 1, but now Freddy has a new dark desire; he wants Jesse (Mark Patton) to kill for him now!

The new kid attending the same school as part 1’s victims, Jesse learns that his family has moved into the very house in which Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) killed Freddy five years ago. The timeline offers a new student body of potential victims including classmates Lisa (Kim Myers; Hellraiser: Bloodline) and Ron (Robert Rusler; Weird Science, Sometimes They Come Back, Vamp).

Things get more than a little weird in this sequel. At one point Jesse wanders off to an “alternative lifestyle” bar of sorts (or some metal/biker bar with some BDSM undertones) and encounters his gym coach (Marshall Bell; Total Recall), who takes him back to the school gym to run laps and shower it off. During this surreal sequence, his coach is killed. I was 100% certain this zaniness was a dream, but apparently I was wrong. On top of that, at one point a finch becomes murderous and kills its mate before attacking Jesse’s father and then exploding for no apparent reason; no one questions this as unnatural. Speaking of weird, Freddy seems to be crossing over into reality on his own accord, which seems to violate the rules we once learned about him.

Freddy (Robert Englund; Wishmaster, Hatchet) returns as the same demonic power with the now iconic ugly red and green sweater, a single clawed glove, a face still-moistly burned beyond recognition, and a penchant for painfully raking his claws over metal objects. The main difference is that he is no longer a shadowy mysterious entity of few words. He is now a known quantity with more lines and screentime.

What makes this sequel completely dissimilar to its predecessor is that almost everything takes place in a dream-touched reality rather than in the victims’ nightmares. Freddy uses Jesse’s unwilling body as a conduit to exact his revenge. Whereas part 1 introduced us to the terrifying notion that someone (or something) can hunt and kill us in our dreams (and we really die!), this sequel removes from us not only control of our dreams but also control of ourselves. This sequel also largely replaces “scary” with an almost “perverse awkward unease” and injects a bit more humor into the Krueger formula. For example, we briefly see twisted distortion of a cat attacking a monster rat, and there are two sort of guard dogs with evil baby faces. This does well to keep us out of our comfort zone and taunts the line between reality and Freddy’s dreamworld.

Freddy is a twisted and pure evil. It’s intended to be sick and disturbing, and more perverse than humorous—although fans laugh at it today. We find these kinds of scenes delivered with a deliberate humor in Hatchet (2006), Wishmaster (1997) and so many more releases of the past 20-30 years…and also blatantly more deliberate in later installments of the Nightmare on Elm Street or Leprechaun franchises.

This film isn’t “great” but I find it a worthy successor to the original and still a more-than-decent 80s horror movie; it’s good. We call backto the elements that worked before, replacing shadowy, steam-spewing boiler rooms with a creepy power plant where Freddy worked in life; instead of impressions on Nancy’s bedroom wall we find Freddy’s form emerging through Jesse’s stomach and his claws piercing through his fingertips; and rather than slicing off his own fingers he now peels away the flesh of his scalded head to reveal “I’ve got the brains!” Without going into detail, I should add that I still enjoy ALL of the practical effects in this film. Sometimes the simplicity makes it more gross, weird, off-putting, or even a bit funny—and I loved the transformation scene. But these crowd-pleasing callbacks pale in the novelty of the story, however sloppily it may be told.

The ending is deliberately sort of silly and illogical, leaving us with the tongue-in-cheek play that Freddy wasn’t really defeated. But that was and remains a fun staple of horror—twists and surprise endings, even if stupid, that make us smile. Perhaps not comparable to the original, this remains a fun movie experience and worth the ride. It certainly made me smile.

Hellraiser: Inferno
Hellraiser: Inferno
DVD ~ Craig Sheffer
Offered by Ultimate_Discounts
Price: $19.99
7 used & new from $2.98

3.0 out of 5 stars My least favorite of the first five Hellraisers, but it still has a story to tell that adds a minor little something to the fran, August 6, 2015
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This review is from: Hellraiser: Inferno (DVD)
Directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Deliver Us from Evil), this fifth installment to the Hellraiser franchise continues to follow the pleasant trend of presenting a new infernal chapter in yet a different style from its predecessors; never does a sequel feel like a rehashed facsimile. Hellraiser was a dark chamber thriller fueled by lustful desire, Hellbound more of a curious exploration of Barker’s Hell-ish Labyrinth and his Cenobites, Hell on Earth was a troped-up action/horror movie chronicling Pinhead’s own escape from Hell, Bloodline an anthology story illustrating the creation and lineage of the Puzzle Box, and now we find a crime thriller neatly packaged in the dark trappings of the Puzzle Box. There may be an admittedly significant drop in quality in the third and fourth films from the original two, and yet another such drop for this fifth and direct-to-video installment, but it remains comforting that we never seem to find the same story recycled and retold with different victims.

Our latest story revolves around Detective Thorne (Craig Sheffer; Nightbreed), who is perhaps the least likable protagonist of the series so far as a drug-using adulterer who neglects his family and frames his partner. Thorne discovers the Puzzle Box and some macabre clues at a murder scene where the victim was apparently torn apart in his luxurious home, decorated and candlelit for an occult ritual. Thorne solves the Puzzle Box and encounters some Cenobites, but is neither shredded and taken to Hell nor forced to bargain for his soul. Instead he wakes up (as if from a dream) and is occasionally haunted by Cenobites. Well this is a strange and welcome change…

The franchise continues to expand the Hellraiser mythology, although with less impact here than before. Whereas parts 1-4 revolve around the Box or Pinhead (Doug Bradley), this chapter is illustrative of what experiences befall those damned souls who open the Box. As a result, we see much less of Pinhead and focus more on our curious and potentially damned soul. Thorne’s journey begins as a rational investigation, shifts to something supernatural, and ultimately steers us into what feels like a surreal dreamscape of his life.

This film opens with the scoring, lighting, style and plot of a Skinemax softcore porn. It didn’t quite grasp the noir-ish detective film tone for which I think it was reaching and I was almost embarrassed to be watching it. Thankfully, it shifted more to the point (and story) about halfway through and the sleazy feeling washed away. A major fault of Hell on Earth and Bloodline was the nuisance of over-exposition. I didn’t find that to be a problem here. Although some strange things certainly happen that make me question the quality of the writing and direction at times…to that end, I’ll just say three words: “Ninja Cowboy Cenobites.” Clearly, this concept has no place in any Hellraiser movie ever. LOL.

These ninja cowboys are among some new Cenobites. The gore (while toned down here in part 5) is well done, the effects satisfactory, and the Cenobite make-up is cool. One Cenobite resembles the head and arms of Chatterbox (without legs or even the rest of its torso), menacingly hand-walking around like a Silent Hill monster. There is a pair of twin female faceless BDSM Cenobites with long tongues involved in a macabrely sexualized scene with hands rubbing “under” Thorne’s skin. And, of course, there’s Pinhead.

We are re-introduced to The Engineer. In Hellraiser, The Engineer was the dweller of the halls of the Labyrinth who is never given a name in the film. Back then it was a monstrous aberration of uncertain purpose. Having heard nothing of this character in parts 2-4, we now find The Engineer wandering Los Angeles, assuming the role of a murderous pimp. How this character fits into the story is revealed in due time, along with how Thorne truly fits beyond the capacity of solving his case.

Parts 1-3 of this franchise should be watched in order. After seeing them, there seems to be no consequence to seeing part 5 before part 4 outside of the fact that Bloodline is much better. This film is nothing special, nor is it even a “good” Hellraiser story. But I take it for what it is and appreciate of it what I can. I didn’t regret watching it, and this is the first in the franchise that I don’t really recommend seeing.

Hellraiser: Bloodline
Hellraiser: Bloodline
DVD ~ Bruce Ramsay
Offered by Collectible Media
Price: $8.87
99 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars An anthology of sorts that is so much more than simply Pinhead in space; although nothing to parts 1 & 2., July 31, 2015
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This review is from: Hellraiser: Bloodline (DVD)
A nice change of pace as the franchise reviews the past and future of the Puzzle Box in this anthology of sorts. This franchise remains worthy through the fourth film, even if pale in comparison to the first two films.

Jason X (2001) took Jason Voorhees to space, as did Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996). I think we can all agree these were bad, but fun and campy ideas. Thankfully Pinhead's (Doug Bradley) legacy retains some value as this film actually rights its swervingly uncertain path in the wake of Hell on Earth (1992) and returns the franchise to a more worthy storyline than Pinhead on a killing spree or simply giving us "Pinhead in Space." Yuck. If you want Hell in space, you want Event Horizon (1997). Period.

Entering the fourth installment of the franchise, Bloodline opens on a 22nd century space station where Dr. Paul Merchant (Bruce Ramsay; Alive, Continuum) uses what I can only describe as a 1990s Nintendo PowerGlove operating a robot to open the Puzzle Box. A team of “space marines” manages detain him (after he opened the box), and he reveals that the Puzzle Box has been in his family for centuries and he must put an end to its lineage of terror. As he explains, we are told of two past generations in his bloodline that possessed the very same infernal artifact.

I was most pleased with the very different approach in storytelling in this movie. This film is essentially an anthology in which the space station story wraps around two other stories within, all three being of different time periods.

Merchant explains (in the first encapsulated story) that in the 18th century, his toymaker ancestor Phillip L'Merchant (also played by Bruce Ramsay) commissioned the Puzzle Box for a twisted cultist magician who, along with his young assistant (Adam Scott; Piranha 3D), used this device to summon a demon. They skinned a young woman as a sacrifice such that the demon Angelique (Valentina Vargas; Faces in the Crowd) may inhabit her skin and walk the Earth. Contrary to past Hellraiser canon, if you summon a demon you control that demon "as long as you don't stand between the demon and Hell."

Part 3 (Hell on Earth) ended with the Puzzle Box being dropped in wet cement, which was revealed to be the foundation of a business class skyscraper with the interior decorated with the famous Puzzle Box design all over the walls like modern art. Accordingly our second encapsulated story advances Angelique and her master to present day (1996) as she “senses” the presence of the Puzzle Box and is drawn to America where another of Merchant’s ancestors has been inspired by the designs of the box. She makes some temptations and summons Pinhead. As usual, Pinhead wants the box. Merchant successfully thwarts Pinhead, Angelique (now in Cenobite form) and their newly created “Twin Cenobites” but the box remains in the wake to threaten future generations.

I was pleased with the stories underlying all of the Hellraiser films so far. Even though Hell on Earth felt too much like an action horror with some silly troped-up components, I remain pleased with it as it refrained from the all too often exploited cartoonishness of 90s horror. It remained dire and creepy with a rich story leading up to the "Pinhead action sequence." A major fault of Hell on Earth was the blatant over-exposition. While this fault did not keep me from enjoying the movie, it is a bit frustrating nonetheless, and we find this fault here in Hellraiser IV. Directly paralleling the degree of over-exposition is the drop in acting quality of these two movies. I find the acting completely forgivable, mind you. It's worst in the opening space station sequence and becomes more tolerable later on.

An interesting notion in this story is that the rules continue to change from film to film. Or, if they haven't changed, then they're not being properly explained. In 18th century Paris, he who summoned the demon controlled the demon. I'll bet Hellraiser's Kirsty wished someone had told Pinhead that in 1987! And, like in all the sequels, innocent people grow less safe with each movie. In Hellbound the Channard Cenobite goes on a mental patient killing spree, in Hell on Earth Pinhead tries to kill EVERYONE, and now Pinhead continues to kill without reservation once summoned and converts Cenobites at will. Back in the original Hellraiser, Pinhead couldn't touch anyone unless he at least believed that their "desire" was behind opening the box. My, how times have changed with now a fourth director and set of writers for as many films.

Our story finally returns us to the space station where Pinhead now wanders. The effects remain entertaining and gory. The Cenobites have a more traditional appearance again, except for the Cenobite dog (where did that thing come from; did Cujo open the Puzzle Box and go to Hell?) and the franchise mythology continues to expand our interest in the Puzzle Box. In the end Pinhead is perhaps permanently deported to Hell in an interesting and clever story development involving the space station itself, which Merchant designed. Lucky for us, this is about 200 years in the future. So we’re good for as many sequels as they want to make until then.

Perhaps nothing in comparison to the first two films, I consider that this film (and part 3 as well) remains worthy for viewing pleasure.

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