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Content by Daniel Jolley
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Reviews Written by
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA)

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Kiss Him, Not Me 1
Kiss Him, Not Me 1
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.09
38 used & new from CDN$ 6.15

5.0 out of 5 stars Never thought I'd read a shojo manga, but I actually did enjoy this, Nov. 22 2015
This review is from: Kiss Him, Not Me 1 (Paperback)
What am I doing reading a shojo manga? I’m a grown man, not a teenaged girl, and I try to stay as far away from boys’ love territory as I possibly can. I can identify with the main character of this story being an otaku, but that’s about it. I am trying to build up my manga collection, though, and that’s really the reason I plucked this book off the Vine (meaning I got it free from Amazon) – that and the fact that it seemed rather cute and innocent in terms of the BL component. I have to admit, though, that I did enjoy the story and actually might consider following the series a little longer. The main character only fantasizes about the boys she knows getting friendly (and her fantasies aren’t that vivid), so I can handle that. Plus, the girl’s cute.

Serinuma Kae starts out as an awkward, chubby, and rather forgettable young high schooler – and serious otaku. When her all-time favorite anime character shockingly dies, she spends the next week grief-stricken. Apparently, that’s the magic formula for dramatic weight loss because the Kae who eventually emerges from her locked room is a slender cutie that immediately attracts the attention of four guys at school. Now she’s popular and dating all four guys, enjoying a new confidence that makes her game to take on challenges she would never have considered before. Of course, as much as she enjoys all of the attention from her four male pursuers, she can’t help fantasizing about the guys getting friendly with each other.

Kae’s fantasies about the guys are really just a small part of the story – here in Volume 1, at least. This is more about a shy and awkward girl suddenly blossoming and gaining self-confidence without really changing who she is inside. According to Junko, the writer and illustrator, the foundation of the story is based on her own youthful experiences, and I think that gives it a sort of endearing quality. It has plenty of funny moments, as well. So, in the end, I did enjoy this first volume of Kiss Him, Not Me!

All Hallows Eve [Import]
All Hallows Eve [Import]
Price: CDN$ 36.36
22 used & new from CDN$ 17.24

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An underrated little horror film with quite a memorable killer, Oct. 26 2015
This review is from: All Hallows Eve [Import] (DVD)
Let’s face it – clowns are just about the creepiest things to be found on this earth. No normal adult would ever smear makeup all over his face, dress up in some ridiculous outfit that even Liberace wouldn’t wear, and go out in public. And they’re mimes, which makes them pure evil in my book. That silent laughter bit isn’t funny, and that whole bucket-throwing shtick was old about a hundred years ago. I say we wait until these freakish buffoons are all crammed together in their little cars and wipe them out. Why am I ranting about clowns? Well, obviously, All Hallows’ Eve features a killer clown, one who has gone even farther down the path of evil than John Wayne Gacy.

It all starts with a videotape, which little Timmy discovers when he dumps out his bag of Halloween candy on the table. Now, when I was a kid, I watched what people put in my bag, wanting to know who was giving me fruit instead of the good stuff, but Timmy has no idea where the tape came from. Unfortunately, babysitter Sarah (Katie Maguire) gives in to Timmy’s and his sister’s demand to watch the thing. It appears to be some kind of unnamed horror anthology featuring a sinister clown doing unnamable things to people. It’s just the kind of thing to get under the skin of horror novices like Sarah and the kids. After the first of the film’s three stories, Sarah finally shuffles the kids off to bed, but she continues to watch in an effort to convince herself that what seems increasingly real is not in fact real at all. That, of course, is a big mistake.

The middle of the three anthology stories is pretty darn weird and barely features the clown, but the first and third are pretty good examples of your typical slasher fare. Two of them look like drive-inn shlock from the 1970s, so I was surprised to learn that all three scenes came from recent other films made by director Damien Leone. They do have that old-school look and feel to them, though, and that’s a plus in my book.

All Hallows’ Eve doesn’t deliver any surprises, but I enjoyed it. The director wasn’t shy about using blood and gore, and Mike Giannelli puts in a memorable performance as Art the Clown. He’s even more sick, twisted, and evil than your average killer clown, and that makes All Hallows’ Eve eminently worthy of a spot in your Halloween week horror movie rotation.

DVD ~ Stephen Lang
Price: CDN$ 9.88
15 used & new from CDN$ 9.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent watch for horror fans, Sept. 22 2015
This review is from: Exeter (DVD)
Who thinks it’s a good idea to throw a massive, drug- and alcohol-fueled party in a run-down mental asylum infamous for the abuse and suffering of its patients? Anyone? Well, in this movie, only one person objects – but he’s helpless to stop it and goes right along with the crowd once he meets a certain raven-haired young beauty. By morning, only our central gang of characters remain, and they decide to do what all hardcore partiers do – try to levitate someone. Yes, like a bunch of prepubescent girls, they decide to play “light as a feather, stiff as a board.” That’s where the trouble really begins. The next thing you know, they’re looking up how to perform exorcisms and discussing ways to hide bodies. Of course, there’s a backstory to all of the demonic goings-on they experience throughout the film. It all goes back to an uncontrollable former patient named Devon whose unspeakable powers led to the deaths and misery that finally got the asylum shut down over a decade earlier.

There’s really nothing original about this entire film, but it does differentiate itself somewhat by placing its most climactic scene about one-third of the way into the movie. After that, it’s just your typical survival horror film where characters try to avoid getting killed or possessed. There’s blood and gore and some less than spectacular special effects along the way. On the positive side, the film does manage to maintain some level of suspense about what actually happened to Devon, and I guessed wrong about what the inevitable twist to the story turned out to be.

Honestly, the whole “trapped in a creepy mental institution with a demon” thing would have been a lot more effective if there was no way for these kids to escape. They have every opportunity to get out before things really hit the fan. Then, when they do want out, they just make a few weak attempts to rattle doors. Most of the windows in this place were already shattered, but no one tried a window. Even worse, they had Internet access the whole time but never tried to contact anyone outside for help. I mean, come on.

Still, it’s a decent effort. The pacing is good, the girls are pretty, the acting isn’t bad, and the filmmakers did actually try to tell a story here, so I have to give them some credit. There are no scares to be found here, though. It’s worth watching if you’re a horror fan, but don’t expect to be blown away.

Alone in the Dark [Import]
Alone in the Dark [Import]
DVD ~ Jack Palance
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 141.20
7 used & new from CDN$ 102.96

5.0 out of 5 stars A cult classic thriller with a stellar cast, Sept. 19 2015
This review is from: Alone in the Dark [Import] (DVD)
OK. If you’re going to depend solely on electricity to keep the dangerous psychopaths from escaping your mental institute, you really need to have a wholly dependable backup system. Unfortunately, the Haven’s backup system fails when the power goes out, which allows the dangerous guys on the third floor to escape (along with everyone else in the institute). That is most unfortunate for Dr. Dan Potter (Dwight Schultz) because paranoid schizophrenic Frank Hawkes (Jack Palance) has convinced his buddies that Potter killed the previous doctor who was working with them. That includes Byron “Preacher” Sutcliff (Martin Landau), who likes to cry out about the Lord’s vengeance while setting fires; Ronald “Fatty” Elster, a serial child molester; and “The Bleeder,” who has the embarrassing habit of suffering nosebleeds while he’s committing murder and chooses never to show his face if at all possible. Dr. Potter does have one guy in his corner, Dr. Leo Bain (Donald Pleasance) – but this version of Donald Pleasance actually thinks he can simply reason with the criminally insane. Ultimately, it’s Dr. Potter’s whole family that finds itself “alone in the dark” with four unpredictable, psychopathic killers trying to get in the house. That includes his wife, young daughter, and sister (who – wouldn’t you just know it – has a lifelong fear of the dark).

Few horror thrillers can boast of such a stellar cast as that of Alone in the Dark. Martin Landau, Jack Palance, and Donald Pleasance have a presence that none of today’s actors can even begin to match. Schulz was pretty much a lightweight compared to the three big names in this film, but he acquitted himself quite well. Palance and Landau steal the show, though – as you would expect. As for the storyline, it isn’t all that original overall, but I have to give major props to the writers for introducing one major plot twist I didn’t see coming. I didn’t fine the film scary at all, but there are some uneasy moments involving Potter’s little girl and one jump-scare that is pretty effective.

I would highly recommend this film to fans of horror and suspense. Just look at the cast list, for crying out loud. Who wouldn’t enjoy watching Jack Palance and Martin Landau get in touch with their psychotic sides?

DVD ~ Rachel Melvin
Price: CDN$ 9.88
7 used & new from CDN$ 9.88

1.0 out of 5 stars A stupid movie that fails to meet even the lowest of expectations, Sept. 17 2015
This review is from: Zombeavers (DVD)
Zombeavers did absolutely nothing for me. There is absolutely no fear factor involved, the so-called disgusting parts are just desperate attempts at shock value, and the humor falls completely flat, especially the constant supply of beaver jokes. I have to believe that the target audience is middle school boys who will laugh at all of the beaver innuendoes, whether they actually get the jokes or not. The special effects aren’t realistic at all, especially that of the zombeavers. I can’t argue with the filmmakers’’ decision not to use CGI, but the animatronic beaver effects they give us aren’t any more ambitious than beavers on a stick, with someone shaking the stick back and forth. I couldn’t even find a single character to like or root for, apart from a small dog. The young people being attacked are the epitome of dumb, self-centered kids. I couldn’t even rustle up any support for the girl who just found out her boyfriend was cheating on her. And do I even have to mention the fact that the entire script is utterly predictable?

I am more partial to these kind of dumb, low-budget movies than most, but one word – stupid – seems to say everything I want to say about Zombeavers. That is why I am so surprised that a lot of people actually seemed to enjoy this crude horror-comedy. I got no enjoyment out of this film at all. I can only hope that nothing ever comes from the obvious setup for a sequel thrown in following the credits.

Paranormal Extremes: Text Messages From the Dead [Blu-ray] [Import]
Paranormal Extremes: Text Messages From the Dead [Blu-ray] [Import]
Price: CDN$ 16.15
20 used & new from CDN$ 16.01

1.0 out of 5 stars Run -- do not walk -- away from this awful movie, Aug. 15 2015
Paranormal Extremes: Text Messages from the Dead is just flat-out awful. The storyline is terrible and full of gaps, the special effects are embarrassingly bad, the acting is stale and oftentimes painful to watch, and the editing is just atrocious, with no transition between one scene and the next. Most of the homemade videos you'll find on YouTube have a higher production quality than this film. Some plot elements seemed to have been added on a whim midway through the story, and the ending makes this whole bitter pill even harder to swallow.

The film stars Colie Knoke as Addison London, a young model who begins seeing and hearing things in the wake of a personal tragedy. After consulting everyone from a tarot card reader to a neurologist, she finally begins to face the fact that scores of dead spirits are trying to communicate with her. I'll bet you're thinking they communicate with her via text messages ' you are thinking that, aren't you? Well, you're quite wrong. She only receives a couple of text messages from one spirit ' and she pretty much just ignores those. Knoke does a horrible job playing the part of a distraught and scared woman battling grief and an unceasing assault by spirits looking for help ' and, unfortunately, she's probably the best actor/actress in the entire film.

Most movies this bad have a comparatively short runtime, but Paranormal Extremes drags on for an excruciating 100+ minutes. Most viewers won't make it through the first ten. It really is that bad.

Price: CDN$ 16.99
17 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Just when you thought it was safe to watch another bad movie, Aug. 3 2015
This review is from: RAIDERS OF THE LOST SHARK (DVD)
I’ve seen worse movies than Raiders of the Lost Shark – but not many, and not in a pretty long time. The only creativity and actual thinking that seems to lie behind this wretched film is limited to the title. Man oh man, this is a stinker. True fans of bad movies might relish the excruciating experience in a twisted kind of way, but I fear that even the short seventy-one minute runtime will be much too much for the average mainstream viewer to possibly stomach. And don’t go getting overconfident two-thirds of the way through this thing because that is when the film really – and I do apologize for this – jumps the shark. I don’t think the person who wrote the movie summary even watched the film because the summary really isn’t very accurate. The cover image definitely has no relation to the actual film.

We start with an abandoned lake being guarded around the clock by pairs of true yokels. Why would you need to guard an abandoned lake? Well, these yokels find out. Then we go to a professor telling her class of four whole students about megalodons while pausing to experience flashbacks of her own terrible experience on “the island” (which isn’t even an island). Learning the story, three of her students naturally decide to check the place out for themselves. Meanwhile, the owner of the lake property comes calling our professor for help. Throw in a sailor channeling Blackbeard, a mad scientist, and the absolutely worst shark special effects you will ever see in your life, and you’re left shaking your head in disbelief, partly just to make sure you still have a brain left to rattle around above your eyes. And the “sheriff?” Oh, good lord.

Apart from the entertainment factor inherent in its pure and utter awfulness, there is nothing good about this film. When I say that bad movie lovers might get a kick out of watching it, I do not mean that in a “so bad it’s funny” kind of way – more like an “I watched Raiders of the Lost Shark and lived to tell about it” kind of way. This one definitely earns a notch in any bad movie lover’s belt.

Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark
Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark
DVD ~ Christopher Judge
Price: CDN$ 16.98
3 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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$ 21.17
26 used & new from CDN$ 5.99

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 BonnieScotland
Price: CDN$ 8.05
20 used & new from CDN$ 3.95

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.

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