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NECRONOMICON (1993) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2012 by goregirl

Hey! Hey! It’s another 90s film! You can expect a couple more before the month ends! How wrong could you go with an anthology based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft (loosely based as it might be) with Brian Yuzna directing a segment and the wraparound story and the great Jeffrey Combs playing Mr. Lovecraft? There was definitely potential for awesomeness! Well, awesome it is not, but it does have some admirable qualities. Necronomicon is three stories with three different directors. The story that connects the trilogy sees H.P. Lovecraft finding the Necronomicon and reading three of its gnarly tales. Warning SPOILERS ahead.

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The Drowned

The Drowned is directed by Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf, Silent Hill) and is quite impressive visually. A dilapidated old mansion is the setting for this story. Edward de Lapoer has inherited the old mansion and finds the diary of his relative that tells of how he resurrected his dead wife and son. This great opening flashback scene was promising but the rest of the film that focuses on Edward was rather tiresome. The Drowned really does lose its mojo something awful once its story returns to the present which makes up half of its runtime. Edward immediately seeks out the Necronomicon which is hiding behind a portrait and bad things happen. What saved The Drowned from being a complete wash were some pretty damn nifty creature effects. It has an awesome Cthulhu-esque sea creature thing that makes an appearance in the finale. The Drowned was definitely my least favourite of the trio but it was not without a few highlights.

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The Cold

The Cold is directed by Shûsuke Kaneko (Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, Crossfire, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack) and has the most cohesive story of the three. I enjoyed this tale despite its rather obvious final twist. A reporter is sent to the home of a woman they believe is connected to several murders. The woman tells the reporter how she came to be in the former home of Dr. Madden. The story she relays is that of her mother Emily and how she came to meet and fall in love with the doctor who learned the secret of eternal life. I wasn’t super crazy about the Emily Character played by Bess Meyer but Dr. Madden played by the talented David Warner was a real highlight. I didn’t think Warner and Meyer had any chemistry and I found it hard to buy that Madden would fall for this woman. There isn’t much in the way of special effects in this segment; what little is included didn’t look too bad though. The Cold is flawed, but I enjoyed the story and Warner enough to say I found it fairly entertaining.

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Whispers

Whispers is directed by Brian Yuzna (Society, Bride of Re-Animator, The Dentist, Progeny, Return of the Living Dead III) and was my favourite of the three. It is definitely light on story but the visuals are something else! A pregnant cop named Sarah and her partner/lover Paul are in a car accident and Paul is pulled out of the vehicle and dragged away. Sarah frees herself and pursues the man they call The Butcher. This is definitely the nastiest and goriest of the segments. There are some really neato effects and creatures in this one. The building and its many room, halls and hidden passages are properly spooky and creepy. Nothing beats the cave scene with Sarah’s discovery of Paul and the ugly flying beasts! Oh and what a properly wonderful grim ending! Despite a flimsy story Whispers is a helluva lot of fun to watch!

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Necronomicon ends with the H.P. Lovecraft connecting story. The finale did feel a bit rushed and I think they re-used the monster from the first segment, but it is energetic and Yuzna throws in some funky looking effects and a pretty cool creature! Jeffrey Combs is always some fun ain’t he?

Necronomicon

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Necronomicon is flawed all over the place but definitely has its share of memorable moments. Most anthologies have a weak link and that is certainly the case with Necronomicon’s first story The Drowned. Each of the films, even The Drowned has at least a little something to offer although I can not say any of these stories blew me away. As is the case with most Lovecraft adaptations I’ve seen they take plenty of liberties with the material and a limited budget prevents it from meeting the sheer spectacularness of Lovecraft’s written word. That said there are certainly a few Lovecraft adaptations that kick some rather serious ass; I would not call Necronomicon one of them. My feelings about Necronomicon overall are a bit lukewarm, but it is not a bad way to spend 90ish minutes. Lightly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Christophe Gans, Shûsuke Kaneko, Brian Yuzna

Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Tony Azito, Juan Fernández, Brian Yuzna, Bruce Payne, Belinda Bauer, Richard Lynch, Maria Ford, Peter Jasienski, Denice D. Lewis, William Jess Russell, Vladimir Kulich, David Warner, Bess Meyer, Millie Perkins, Dennis Christopher, Gary Graham, Curt Lowens, James Paradise, Sebastian White, Signy Coleman, Obba Babatundé, Don Calfa, Judith Drake

BLACK DYNAMITE (2009) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in movies, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2010 by goregirl

The one problem I’ve found since starting this blog is finding the time to watch movies that aren’t horror! ‘Black Dynamite’ had been on my “to see” list for ages, but like many non-horror films on my list it kept getting pushed to the side in favour of genre titles. I love a good comedy; I mean who doesn’t like to laugh? The problem is too many comedies don’t make me laugh at all, so when I find one that does I get really, really excited! If you follow my blog then you already know I am a massive fan of all that is 1970’s cinema and that includes exploitation flicks in all their many and varied forms. Take two minutes and watch the kick ass trailer I’ve included! ‘Black Dynamite’ delivers everything the trailer promises, and more! The film looks completely authentic, the characters are spot on, the action is amazing and most importantly it is fucking hilarious!

Black Dynamite is on the road to revenge after his kid brother is gunned down for being a snitch. On his journey he discovers a conspiracy to keep the black man down by getting orphans hooked on smack and flooding the market with a malt liquor that shrinks the penis. He’ll have to fight his way through mobsters, drug dealers, Kung-Fu Assassins and the CIA to get to the man at the top.

‘Black Dynamite’ is a hilarious tribute to the Blaxploitation films of the 1970’s. The film has a completely authentic look and if you didn’t know any better you would think you were smack dab in the middle of the 70’s! The furnishings, the cars, the clothing, it is all spot on! Even the brilliant soundtrack from Adrian Younge successfully channels 70’s soul. It embraces the embarrassing gaffes, continuity issues and imperfections of flicks made on the cheap. Many of the laughs are visual and some are pretty subtle. A second viewing of the film is mandatory to catch all the craftiness. There are countless entertaining scenes like gangsters emerging from a car for a gangland style shooting and forgetting to put the car in park, an injured stuntman is replaced within a reel and a character is hit on the head with a boon mike. To really do a parody well it helps to know your source material and clearly the makers of ‘Black Dynamite’ did their homework. As a matter of fact there is a bonus featurette on the DVD from Comic-Con where they talk extensively on the subject.

The actors play it like they weren’t let in on the joke and every performance is top notch especially Michael Jai White who was born to play Black Dynamite. White embodies the role completely. He’s big, buff and dangerously handsome and gets to use his real life martial arts skills. Black Dynamite is not only skilled in martial arts, weapons, and hand-to-hand combat; he was a Vietnam vet and an ex-CIA agent! He is a man of action dedicated to righting wrongs and you best not get in his way! He strikes fear in men, and women hang on his every word. White has awesome presence and I never questioned for a second his ability to wipe out a room of bad asses or bed a bevy of bitches and he plays the straight man with perfect comedic timing. Among the great supporting cast is Salli Richardson-Whitfield who plays the smart and sassy Gloria, Byron Minns who co-wrote the film plays the hilarious Bullhorn, Tommy Davidson is classic as Cream Corn and there is an army of other memorable appearances from the likes of Arsenio Hall, Brian McKnight, Cedric Yarbrough and Nicole Sullivan.

There are so many funny lines and great scenes in ‘Black Dynamite’ I couldn’t possibly do them any justice. With character names like Tasty Freeze, Kotex and Chocolate Giddy-Up and classic dialog like “You can hit the streets or the sheets, it don’t make Dynamite no nevermind. That’s your bag, baby. You can go or you can come, can you dig it?” you can’t miss! Wait until you see the scene where Black Dynamite and his gang work out in the most convoluted way possible the nefarious plot of the man and Black Dynamite’s Vietnam flashback is hysterical! There’s also shitloads of impressive action. Not that I know much, or anything at all about choreographing fight scenes, but I thought every single one of them in ‘Black Dynamite’ looked fantastic!

This is one of the best comedies I’ve seen in years. I laughed out loud numerous times and even when I wasn’t laughing it kept a smile on my face from beginning to end. And I mean right to the end; because even the awesome animated closing credits are a treat! There are also some fun extras on the DVD including deleted and alternate scenes, commentary from director Scott Sanders, and co-writers/actors Michael Jai White and Byron Minns, and a couple featurettes. I can’t recommend this film enough! I absolutely loved it and it gets a perfect score from me! Highest of recommendations!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Scott Sanders

Starring: Michael Jai White, Tommy Davidson, Kevin Chapman, Richard Edson, Darrel Heath, Buddy Lewis, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Byron Minns, James McManus, Nicole Sullivan, Roger Yuan, Obba Babatundé, Arsenio Hall