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Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA)
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Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark
Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark
DVD ~ Christopher Judge
Price: CDN$ 16.98
2 used & new from CDN$ 16.20

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.

Godzilla 2000 (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
Godzilla 2000 (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Hiroshi Abe
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 19.26
29 used & new from CDN$ 4.31

4.0 out of 5 stars The welcome return of the real Godzilla, July 27 2015
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.

Amityville 3-D
Amityville 3-D
DVD ~ Tony Roberts
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 15.00
15 used & new from CDN$ 2.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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 ~ Sam Qualiana
Price: CDN$ 14.95
19 used & new from CDN$ 2.28

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.

UFO's: Above and Beyond [Import]
UFO's: Above and Beyond [Import]
DVD ~ James Doohan
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 65.14
8 used & new from CDN$ 11.50

2.0 out of 5 stars James Doohan is the only good thing about this documentary, July 2 2015
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
Price: CDN$ 16.98
6 used & new from CDN$ 16.97

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
Willow Creek
DVD ~ Alexi Gilmore
Price: CDN$ 8.88

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 (DVD)
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.

Sasquatch Hunters by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Sasquatch Hunters by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD ~ Fred Tepper
Offered by JnP Store Canada
Price: CDN$ 27.32
2 used & new from CDN$ 18.50

4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly serious and entertaining low-budget Bigfoot movie, June 6 2015
In a world full of low-budget Bigfoot movies, Sasquatch Hunters stands pretty tall among its peers. Some may complain about the special effects (a combination of CGI and costumes), but I thought they were pretty good. More importantly, the acting is excellent and the script is quite good – and surprisingly serious. Okay, the main character’s background is mentioned but never explored, but there’s very little cheesy dialogue and the characters continually react in believable ways to the frightening situations they find themselves in. Also, unlike most Bigfoot movies, the story doesn’t cram the whole Bigfoot thing down your throat. Heck, three-fourths of the way through, the characters are still trying to figure out just what they’re up against. I only remember hearing the word Bigfoot once, and the film’s original title was Primeval rather than Sasquatch Hunters. Of course, the latter title really poses the question as to just who is hunting whom here.

Apparently, it takes five rangers to escort three scientists deep into the woods in search of unusual bones or fossils. The discovery of an unidentifiable, gorilla-like bone matching a decades-old sample in museum archives sends paleontologist Helen Gilbert (Amy Shelton-White), anthropologist Ethan Edwards (Gary Sturm), and a student photographer on a quest to find more evidence of the mysterious creature. Former Ranger Roger Gordon (Matt Lattimore) joins his old boss and three young Rangers on the mission. After a couple of days hiking, the group arrives at the investigation area, where they find a burial mound stocked with unusual big bones – possibly an undiscovered relative of Gigantopithecus, according to the anthropologist. Unfortunately, something in the woods also discovers the party of humans – something big, dark, hairy, loud, and seriously pissed off. The excitement of the scientific discovery soon turns to fear as these intelligent creatures begin to make their displeasure crystal clear.

The film is almost completely free of campiness, which is why the story plays so well. I genuinely liked the characters and did not want to see any of them harmed. There’s some harmless flirting early on, but there’s no nudity or sexual overtones to distract from the story. There’s not much in the way of gore, either – although a poacher does meet his end in a rather enjoyable way at the very beginning. Most of the real action takes place at night. The lighting is well done, allowing you to actually see what is going on while still preserving a strong “we’re being hunted and picked off one by one by Bigfoot in the middle of the woods at night” feel throughout. I also liked the fact that no one really comes out and says “it’s Bigfoot.” The whole subject matter is treated here with a level of seriousness you won’t find in most films of this genre. This really is one of the best low-budget “Bigfoot” movies I’ve seen.

Witness To Roswell
Witness To Roswell
by Thomas Carey
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.90
23 used & new from CDN$ 3.13

4.0 out of 5 stars The truth about Roswell according to those who were there, May 30 2015
This review is from: Witness To Roswell (Paperback)
Witness to Roswell is one of the best books out there concerning the crash of a flying saucer outside Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947. It helps to have basic knowledge about the events surrounding the Roswell Incident before reading it, however, as it doesn’t lay out the story of what supposedly happened in a linear fashion. Instead, it presents different aspects of the case from the perspective of those who witnessed them somewhere along the line. Perhaps the main strength of the book is the authors’ revelations of the most recent deathbed confessions of several witnesses and participants in the cover-up, men such as Brigadier Generals Arthur Exon and Thomas Dubose who held fast to their oaths of secrecy until the end of their lives. Dubose, who served as General Ramey’s Chief of Staff in 1947, stated in recorded interviews as well as a signed affidavit that a weather balloon was switched for the actual material from Roswell in advance of Ramey’s famous press conference to kill the flying saucer story – and that the orders for the cover-up came from Washington, D.C. That is powerful testimony that the Air Force has essentially ignored in its third and fourth official “explanations” for the Roswell Incident.

Unfortunately, any evaluation of this book begs the question of Donald Schmitt’s credibility. No researcher has worked harder or longer at researching the Roswell Incident and attempting to get the most reluctant of witnesses to finally tell their stories. At the same time, he has hurt the very case he is trying to make by initially lying about his education, accomplishments, and research methods -- which led directly to the end of his research partnership with Kevin Randle. Through his partnership with fellow researcher Thomas J. Carey, Schmitt has worked hard to restore his credibility over the past two decades. Unfortunately, his involvement with Jaime Maussan and the laughable “Roswell slides” fiasco has once again left his credibility in tatters – and dealt ufology another serious black eye. Although he makes a point in this book about dismissing all of undertake Glenn Dennis’ testimony after learning Dennis had knowingly given them a fake name for the nurse that told him about the alien bodies, he does continue to put faith in some witnesses whose testimony has been questioned elsewhere. To their credit, though, the authors do not even mention the extravagant claims of Philip Corso. All of that being said, I do not believe that Schmitt and Carey put forth any information in this book that they do not believe to be true – but I can’t in good conscience give the book five stars.

If you want to know the names and testimonies of any and everyone involved in the Roswell incident, from those who saw the debris field and crash sites to those who guarded and transported the material and bodies from Roswell to Fort Worth and Wright Field in Ohio, you will find all of that information – and more – in Witness to Roswell. The book really represents the most timely of statements as to what those involved with the Roswell Incident – with the obvious exception of those who chose to take whatever they knew to their graves – had to say about their experiences. If nothing else, it puts the lie to each of the official explanations offered up by the Air Force over the years.

Icetastrophe [Import]
Icetastrophe [Import]
Price: CDN$ 24.13
21 used & new from CDN$ 9.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Baby, it's cold outside, May 23 2015
This review is from: Icetastrophe [Import] (DVD)
I pretty much live for bad, low-budget disaster movies, and with a name like Icetastrophe (or Christmas Icetastrophe, as it was called when it originally aired on SyFy), you know this one definitely qualifies. I was initially disappointed to learn that the film was not a product of The Asylum, but I needn’t have worried – Icetastrophe hits on just about every bad movie cylinder. It’s built on particularly ludicrous scientific foundation, features unknown actors portraying characters you hardly know and do not care very much about, delivers tons of CGI icy destruction that really doesn’t look all that bad for the most part – and, of course, you have the obligatory romantic subplot about the town’s very own version of Romeo and Juliet. On top of that, just for laughs, the story takes place at Christmas and features characters with the names Crooge, Marley, and Ratchet.

So here’s the deal. A small meteor splits in two just before colliding with Earth. The bigger chunk plows into Main Street of whatever town this is, then somehow begins to grow and initiate increasingly destructive flash freezing storms all over the place, turning those who get in its way into human ice-kebabs and plunging the whole area into sub-Arctic temperatures. It’s up to local Charlie Ratchet (Victor Webster) and plucky astrophysics grad student Alex Novak (Jennifer Spense) – who comes to see the strange meteor she had been tracking for weeks – to save the whole world from an icy holocaust while everybody else tries to find shelter despite their own stupidity.

I think my favorite aspect of the movie is Ratchet’s amazing ability to find anything he might need in his pockets or on the ground beside him – heck, he even has the ability to keep using a lighter he gave his son early on in the movie. That tells you just about everything you need to know about Icetastrophe. It’s just your average, run-of-the-mill SyFy disaster movie: a slightly amusing little romp for fans of bad movies but an insufferable viewing experience for those who expect their movies to actually make sense and tell a decent story.

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