Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)


This will require some back story if you’re not familiar with the graphic novel. First, there’s the main theme: one bad day. The Joker gives a chilling monologue about how just one bad day could permanently change anyone, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the two characters that best showcase his point. We have Batman, created to make sure a city has a hero, and will bring justice to anyone that threatens it. Then we have the Joker, insanity and injustice incarnate. The Killing Joke also provides the series of events that finally drove Joker into madness…maybe. I don’t think we’ll ever find out his real story, but that’s for another time.

Second, we witness one of Joker’s most heinous acts. I would prefer not to spoil it because of those that still want to read the graphic novel, or see the movie adaptation. Let’s just say no one wanted to make a movie out of this because of that one particular scene, and the extreme torture and violence that occurs. Imagine my and almost every Batman fan’s shock upon learning that not only were we getting a movie, but that it would also be animated with several of the Batman: The Animated Series cast members lending their voices. On top of that, they officially gave it an R rating. This was pretty much my nerdy wet dream.

I was lucky enough to catch the premiere Fathom Event…and overall this is one of the most faithful adaptations I’ve ever seen, except for one glaring problem: the completely unnecessary “prologue”. For reasons that I still don’t understand, Batgirl was added, as well as a sex scene between her and Batman. My assumption is this was done to imply Batman had more than platonic feelings for Batgirl, which means what happens to her later on is even more horrifying. All this does is stretch out the run time from about 60 minutes to roughly 76. It just really doesn’t make sense, and it was a huge mistake on the writers’ part to add it in. Other than that, this…wasn’t completely terrible.

I give it 3/5. Ultimately, we get to see the symbolic relationship between Batman and  Joker played out: opposite ends of the spectrum in almost every aspect, and yet it’s almost impossible to have one without the other. Mark Hamill will always be one the best voice for Joker in my opinion, and Kevin Conroy once again manages to bring the iconic, brooding voice to The Dark Knight. The “One Bad Day” monologue is absolutely the highlight of Hamill’s stint as Joker. I don’t know whose idea it was for that damn prologue, but they need to be fired. There was no purpose for turning Batgirl into what is basically a sex object. Also, it’s not who Batman is as a character to do something like that. The only real reason to watch this is because it is R rated nostalgia for those of us that grew up with the original animated series. I still say get it if you’re a huge DC fan.


Lights Out (2016)


For those of you that are unfamiliar with this movie, just watch this: The first short film that scared me so damn bad that I threw my phone at the wall.

2 years later, and that damn face still gives me the willies. Naturally, I was kind of excited when it was announced this was going to be made into a feature length film, with James Wan at the helm. For those that aren’t neck deep into the horror community like I am, he’s best known for giving us Saw, The Conjuring, and Insidious. With his film-making skills, I figured the film adaptation was bound to be really creepy, atmospheric,  and very well done. Boy, did I misjudge this one. Take a look at that poster. Whose name is first? What would you assume if you weren’t paying attention to the conveniently small print next to Wan’s name? Wan is a producer, not the director. The director is actually David F. Sandberg (look all the way at the bottom), who actually made the short film. The person that made the source material also made the movie…and somehow managed to completely drop the ball and royally screw it up. How is that even possible?

While I was watching this in theaters, I could not figure out what was so wrong with this. I remember watching it, being extremely bored, and trying to figure out why this felt like such a mess. Then it hit me: it’s the plot. Obviously, there’s no real plot in the short film, but it’s creepy enough that it works. The main issue with the movie is that out of all the plots that could be created, we have the one that’s so unnecessarily convoluted. Also, I’m 99% positive that Lights Out combined about 3-4 different plots from other movies. We have the mental deterioration of a parent due to a supernatural force (The Taking of Debra Logan), a childhood “friend” that has a mysterious disease early life and died a tragic death (pick one of the many movies that shares this plot), and a bond between a mother and her children that is strained due to the untimely death of a father, and is then manifested in a demonic entity (The Babadook).

When you realize just how many times you seen this played out, it feels so watered down and lazy. There’s no passion behind it. Everyone is just going through the motions until we reach a very predictable ending. Even the parts where the ghost (?) attacks has been marred by the PG-13 rating. This is one of the few times where an R rating might have saved it. That says a lot when gore is the only thing that can make a movie remotely interesting.  The parts that haven’t completely ripped off other movies requires way too much suspension of disbelief. For example, if a parent has been proven by the state to be mentally ill and incapable of raising a young child, why the hell is that child still living with that parent? Also, the kid fell asleep in a classroom 4 days in a row before the school called to see if everything was okay at home. 4 days…before checking on the welfare of a student. Please explain to me how that makes any sort of sense. Don’t worry. I’ll wait.

This gets 1/5. There’s…just nothing to care about. It’s yet another PG-13, jump scare filled cash cow to get all the teens in seats. It’s another case where something semi popular gets made into a movie simply to cash in on it. This wasn’t about making a decent movie. It’s an overblown marketing ploy. It’s just infuriating to me because it’s taking the genre I’ve spent a good chunk of my life following, and it’s turning it into something cheap and gimmicky. All I see here is that Sandberg is incredible with short films, but obviously does not know what to do with anything feature length. But nevermind that because he’s our director for Annabelle 2. I don’t think anything is this world could prepare me for that upcoming train-wreck. Just watch the short film Lights Out, and don’t bother with the full length movie. If you absolutely just want to see it, be smart and take the time to watch the 3-4 different movies it stole its plot from.


Ghostbusters (2016)


I’d be lying if I said I actually wanted to see this. That wasn’t because I was one of the many that violently hated the idea that a classic was being remade. I just didn’t care. Hollywood is having a hard time finding original scripts, so to me it was logical that something like Ghostbusters would be the latest to be remade. But…then my curiosity got the better of me. We have a trailer that I believe holds the record for the most dislikes. The actresses are getting mercilessly attacked simply for just being in it, not because of their performance. And of course, it keeps getting negative reviews across the board. I just had to see for myself if this was really the abomination people claim it to be. Remakes are far from bring a new concept, so why was everyone collectively losing their shit about this one? After being able to see it after months of it being pummeled by the public, I can honestly say…

It definitely DOES NOT deserve all of the hate it’s getting. There are several different factors that go into why it actually works as a whole, so bear with me. The movie is set in its own time, and thankfully does not try to reference back to the original. Of course, we get cameos from many of the original cast members. However, they’re random bit parts that feel more like nostalgia than anything else. I will say it is the classic “bad guy trying to destroy NYC” plot, but it  doesn’t feel quite as predictable as you might think. I have to admit my biggest concern was the cast.

Each actress has a very strong personality, so I was fully expecting them to basically try and “out-act” each other. When the movie starts, that’s exactly what happens. The first 20-25 minutes is nothing but caricatures, and it just feels like everyone is trying way too hard to be a believable character.  I mean we’re subjected to a queef (you might not want to Google that) joke within the first 15 minutes, so I was worried that they would go with bathroom or sex humor to compensate. Thankfully, all that disappears around the half hour mark, and it’s actually kind of cool to see each actress play her respective part well. Also, I was probably way more entertained by Chris Helmsworth playing the idiot receptionist than I should have been, but whatever.

So the cast kicked ass, the story is borderline hokey and yet still tolerable…but there is one thing I kind of have to nitpick about: the ghosts. I felt like I was on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World for 2 hours. I didn’t expect actual scary ghosts, but I also didn’t think the special effects would be as bland as they were. They’re not horrible, but I kind of expected something a bit different since special effects have improved so much in the last 30+ years. Like I said, I had to nitpick. Overall, I think it earns  3.5/5. It has heart. It grows on you. It’s the classic underdog concept in cinematic form. It’s really not fair to try and compare this to the original, because it tried its damnedest to stand on its own. It is a victim of poor pacing and overacting in the beginning, but once that goes away it’s a lot of goofy fun. The idea to touch Ghostbusters is still debatable, however how these people chose to do it isn’t all that bad. So if you’re one of the many that’s boycotting this just because it exists, don’t. I legitimately cannot find a solid reason to hate this in any way. Support it, and respect those involved for being ballsy enough to actually do it.

Clown (2016)


I remember seeing the trailer for this sometime early last year, and I instantly fell in love with it. A demonic clown suit that possesses whoever wears it, and turns them into a child-eating monster? It sounds like the poster child for cheesiness, but based on the trailer I was more than willing to give it a shot. You have one of my generation’s well known gore-hounds Eli Roth backing it, so what could possibly go wrong? Almost 4 years after its initial development, Clown finally got a limited release in theaters June 17th, 2016. I even had to drive half an hour to see it So, was it worth the 4 year wait? Well…

Yes…and no. It is so deliciously twisted that I’m willing to say it’s one of the best movies to introduce someone to the body horror genre, if you don’t want to go with one of the many classics from the 80’s and 90’s. Also working in its favor is writers Jon Watts and Christopher D. Ford. I have nothing but respect for these guys. Why? They uploaded a fake trailer all the way back in 2010, and had the balls to say it was produced by Roth, even though he had no attachment to the movie at the time. I don’t care what you say, you can’t deny the genius of that. And it freaking worked because Roth is an official a producer of the film. As far as the actual movie is concerned, it’s shot brilliantly. As horrifying as it is, you never officially see the children get eaten on camera. All we see is is blood splatter and body parts flying. But…it works. It’s very close to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre: you never see the actual killing on screen, and it makes your brain work overtime to try and fit the pieces together. What you don’t see is way more terrifying than what you actually see.

Now, for the not so good parts. The biggest thing I noticed was that it feels like the writers had two visions, and picked the wrong times to showcase either one. You can see without a doubt when they wanted to go for bloody murder and mayhem, and then a more psychological  approach. The problem? They had no idea how to blend the two seamlessly. You go from child body parts flinging and blood everywhere, to the actors trying to show off their emotional sides. It’s like your best friend hitting you in the face with a brick, and then immediately giving you a hug to try and comfort you. It’s confusing, and you’re going to get mad by the drastic change in a matter of minutes.

Another theme in the movie is that everyone accepts everything without any sort of argument or initial disbelief. I can’t speak for everyone but if I put on a clown suit, wig, and nose that adhered to my skin overnight and I couldn’t get it off? Pretty sure panic would set in, along with flailing around trying to get that shit off of me, and a probable mental breakdown upon learning I’m basically being possessed by a demon. Kent (Andy Powers), spends all of 3-5 minutes trying to get everything off, then decides to just wear makeup, dye his hair, and wear a trench coat. When he finally discovers what horror awaits him once the clown fully takes over, he just kind of shrugs and accepts it. And that sense of “oopsie and oh well” plagues ever single character for the whole movie, even when Kent has gone full demon and eats a kid in a freaking ball pit at a Chuck E. Cheese knockoff.

I still have to give it 3/5. It has issues that could have easily been avoided, but it has this charisma about it that manages to still draw you in. The acting is very questionable, but I think it gets to a point where just accept it as the cheese filled mess that it is. There’s another scene where Kent breaks a guys arm, bone pokes through the skin, and the worst reaction is someone telling him to stop being a grumpy asshole. As dumb as that is, you have to laugh at it. The special makeup effects alone are enough to give it a chance. But I have to say the main reason why I like it because it attempted to do something different. We’re in a sea of remakes and sequels, and the horror genre is kind of flat-lining. Jon Watts and Christopher D. Ford didn’t make a perfect movie, but they weren’t afraid to step out of the box and give the horror genre a much needed jolt. And for that, I commend them.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)


Confession time: I always chose DC over Marvel (except for Deadpool, but we’ll save that for another time).  I was all about Batman…then I got older and got a bit tired of the depressing story-lines that DC is known for. My first time dealing with Marvel was the first Iron Man movie, and my love for Marvel just grew from there. However…I never got into Captain America. I just always felt like he was this overly eager goody two shoes, and that irritated the hell out of me. To keep things clear and simple, I’m only going to talk about the Captain America in the current Marvel movie universe, and not the new abomination in the comics. Anyways, my annoyance for him carried on even into his own movies. I haven’t even finished the first Captain America movie that came out in 2011, and didn’t bother with The Winter Soldier. I have asked friends for the basic overview of both, and have done enough research to confidently review the latest installment. So with that…

This is arguably one of my favorite Marvel movies. Yes, there’s the incredibly large (and high body count filled) action sequences, but Civil War goes in a different direction that I don’t think enough superhero movies explore: the psychological. Before anyone jumps down my throat, I didn’t say it hasn’t been done or that it hasn’t been done well. But seeing one man dissolve the “leaders” of the Avengers by himself? Damn it, I am impressed. Then there’s the title character who basically abandons his post just to help a friend from his past. Think about the implications here: Captain America, the symbol for everything good and righteous, turns his back on almost half of his team just to save one person from being wrongly accused, and leaves a substantial trail of damage along the way. This was not your standard “good will triumph over evil”. Honestly, the argument could be made that this whole situation was morally ambiguous at best.

I give it 4/5. The best part of the whole movie? Even after all is said and done, you still won’t be able to pick a side. We don’t get our usual superhero happy ending. We can’t really even say the bad guy won, because he’s just as broken as our heroes. Instead we see two of our favorite heroes and their friendship implode. They weren’t going against aliens or gods. It was human emotions and beliefs, and I’m pretty sure we can agree those are two of the hardest parts of the human existence to fight and try and conquer. So for the villain to aim straight for the most unstable aspect of our lives? It’s absolutely genius, and it creates a solid Marvel movie.

The Visit (2015)


I managed to see this in theaters when it came out last year. Like everyone else, I was very skeptical. Mr. Shyamalan hit a very rough patch over the last few years, and to preserve everyone’s sanity we’re just going to pretend The Last Airbender didn’t happen at all. The question was would he be able to find his way back to his own brand of suspense then grand reveal. I thought he managed to do just that when I first saw this. We have cute and quirky kids, creepy old people, and the sense of isolation. It also had a few good comedic one liners. I was impressed. I didn’t get to review this before my unexpected hiatus, so I decided to go back and relive some fond memories. Hindsight really is a bitch and a half.

It is still funny and creepy…but I did not realize how questionable the whole premise is. Let’s start from the beginning: woman leaves parents to marry man they don’t approve of, and they don’t talk for 15 years. The parents “randomly” decide to Google their own daughter to basically see if she’s still alive. Upon reconnecting with their daughter, they want to meet their grandchildren…before reconciling with their daughter. Now, let’s pause here. I’m not a parent, and based on all of the horror movies I’ve seen I can confidently say my womb is going to stay vacant indefinitely. But…I personally might think it’s odd that my own parents want to bypass reuniting with me, and just want to meet my kids. Am I the only one that thinks that’s weird? To make it even better, I agree to this…and send my kids to go stay with complete strangers for a week will I get my groove back with my new boyfriend on a Bahama cruise. I’m not saying this is a bad mother, but we’re 10 minutes into the movie and my suspension of disbelief is almost already on empty. We still have the kids and grandparents to talk about, so let’s keep going.

The kids…are so screwed up that I can’t poke fun of them. Both have severe abandonment issues due to their father leaving and ignoring their existence. Why are they not in therapy? Why is the mother’s concern to replace their father, and how can she blatantly ignore their cries for mental help? We’re supposed to ignore all of that because…creepy old people and a 12 year old that thinks he’s the next Slim Shady, I guess.


It’s not really their grandparents. After about 45 minutes of Pop Pop and Nana shitting themselves, attacking random people in the street, and running around the house butt naked, we kind of already know that. They’re escaped mental patients, and just like that we have the biggest damn question in the whole movie: How the hell do not one, but TWO elderly, escaped mental patients murder their counselors and go completely undetected? One woman from the facility they were hospitalized in sees what they’ve done, and managed to be dumb enough not to run and call the cops. How? Just…how? This gets 2/5. I cannot stand movies where everyone manages to ignore common sense and intuition. Yes, this is creepy at times and even mildly funny, but it’s not strong enough to ignore the fact that it makes no damn sense. You do realize that none of this would have happened if the mother had, oh I don’t know…shown the kids a picture of their grandparents to ensure they didn’t go to the wrong people? Then I remember who made this movie, and I realize that pointing plot holes in his movies are a full-time job that I do not have the patience for. If you want to see cute, emotionally damaged kids up against certifiably insane old people, boy is this the movie for you. Want something intelligent where the characters have common sense? Look anywhere but here.



ABCs of Death 2 U-Z

u is for utopia

Sometimes, I commend the directors that stick with the genres they know. Natali is no different. His most notable works include Cube and Splice. It’s pretty apparent he loves the Science Fiction genre, and feels no need to deviate from that. Some might think that’s lazy, but it works for him. This segment is no different. I give it 4/5. I like the concept of some kind of…well, utopia that will take any measure to insure perfection. I’m 99% positive there’s some sort of social commentary or criticism here, but that’s a little too far out of my range for me to comment on. Overall, yet another solid segment in this bunch.


v is for vacation

I’m starting to think that traveling outside of the country is horrid idea. Or…maybe you shouldn’t do copious amounts of cocaine with your highly unstable “best friend”, who hates your girlfriend for no reason? Why would you even travel with such an individual if you know they’re going to make your life a living hell? Why would you video chat with your girlfriend if you cheated on her with hookers the night before, who are also still in your hotel room? I know I’m asking a lot of questions, but this segment requires way too much suspension of disbelief. In order for the events here to play out, you have to be a complete idiot. The only payoff is when the asshole friend got stabbed in the neck by a rusty screwdriver-wielding, pissed off prostitute. I also don’t get why she got that mad in 30 seconds, but whatever. I give it 2/5. It’s way too hard for me to enjoy a segment where I know the events could have avoided in reality.


w is for wish.png

This starts off unbelievably cheesy, but the shit gets dark real quick. Childhood imagination turns into all circles of hell with a dash of war. I don’t know what’s worse: the He-Man knockoff mixed with nightmarish visions that seem like the world’s worse acid trip, or the He-Man knockoff in  glittery, red booty-shorts. Both terrify me equally. However, I have to give this 5/5. It’s the same director that gave us Manborg. This was bound to be perfect.


x is for xylophone

What did we ever do to deserve Béatrice Dalle? I don’t know how one woman can consistently portray a psycho so effortlessly, but here we are. Not one word is spoken during the entire thing, but it works. I give it 5/5. I think we’ve all had that one noise that seems to tap dance on your last nerve, but this segment decides to take that concept and run with it. I know I should be shocked by the meaningless maiming of a child that was only guilty of maybe playing the xylophone too hard, but I’m not. I laughed at the reveal of the corpse, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that that probably makes me a little warped in the head. Excellent work as usual, Maury and Bustillo.


y is for youth

I think we can all agree your teen years are a special kind of hell. But add in the death of your dog, incredibly neglectful and abusive parents, cutting, and facial scarring? I’m surprised this segment didn’t end with the poor girl actually mutilating her parents. I give it 4/5. It’s basically a child’s imagination desperately trying to escape her reality. While it’s a great segment, it’s pretty damn sad if you think about it. She’s so depressed and lonely that the only way she can mentally handle her situation is to think about killing her parents with the tools and vices that they chose over caring for their daughter. This just makes me really glad I’m in my late 20s, and I won’t have to experience anything like this.


z is for zygote

In the 4 years I’ve been writing reviews, I have seen some shit. Numerous penises being bitten or ripped off, children mutilated, sex with corpses, hell…I’ve even seen a woman cut off her own clitoris with a pair of rusty scissors. All equally disturbing. But…it wasn’t until today that I actually came close to vomiting. Long story short: a woman manages to keep her fetus in the womb for 13 years. So technically she has a teenager in her stomach. And since this is ABCs of Death, of course she gives birth. I thank God it wasn’t vaginal, but it’s still very disgusting. We see every single bone, organ, and nerve pour out through her mouth. I really could have gone the rest of my life without seeing anything like that, but oh well. To really top this all off, the segment implies this KEEPS HAPPENING. I guess I’ll give this 4/5 purely because all the gore looked so real that I have to question where the props came from. Also I would like to stop talking about this, because thinking about it is making me gag nonstop. Ugh.


end of lesson

In one final “screw you” to the audience, there’s actually an after credits seen. We’re subjected to Laurence R. Harvey furiously trying to masturbate to T is for Torture Porn. He’s known for being the villain in The Human Centipede 2. Why was this added? I don’t freaking know. Is it necessary? Far from it. Am I going to attempt to research why someone thought this particular scene was needed? Nope. I am 100% done with ABCs of Death 2 after almost a year. While the sequel is arguably better that the first, the franchise still needs to work on choosing it’s directors, establishing an overall flow, and maybe even giving better guidelines for segments. Maybe a 3rd film will finally work out those kinks. Oh wait…Nevermind.