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Review: Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

Review: 2016’s Suicide Squad is probably one of my least liked in the DCEU brand. There were a lot of great ideas behind it, but ultimately it’s potential was wasted with a poorly constructed plot and bad editing. But one thing that truly stood out as a saving grace for the film was without a doubt, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. There is simply no denying that she stole the film with her larger than life performance as the character, which generated major demand for more Harley Quinn in the DC Universe. For a while the potential of a solo Harley Quinn movie seemed very promising, even a Joker/Harley film which would have seen her fabulous emancipation from the clown prince of crime. But alas, none of those panned out quite as hoped. Instead, we got “Birds of Prey: & the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn.” A mouth full, for one, and almost nothing to do with the actual Birds of Prey. But that isn’t to say Birds of Prey is by any means a bad movie. It does have it’s pros and at it’s core, is quite entertaining. However, it is also a very problematic film, which I will elaborate on later in this review. 

Let’s get started by addressing the acting here, which is largely well done! Mary Elizabeth Winstead is amazing as Helena Bertinelli aka Huntress. I would dare to say that her portrayal as the character was perfection. And while at first glance one might argue that she doesn’t dress like her comic book counterpart. Her counterpart from the source material was usually reduced to eye candy outfits that left very little to the imagination as where Winstead’s take has the character donning tracksuit look that comes off as tactical and more combat-like. And overall it just looks amazing as fuck if I may say so. My favorite scene with her happens in the 3rd act during the Funhouse raid. It’s probably one of the best moments in that sequence and it honestly had me thinking “she is one badass motherfucker!”. Winstead owns the role, there is absolutely no debating it. However, it Is somewhat disappointing to see her presence in the film being somewhat small. Initially I had my doubts about Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, but thankfully they were proven wrong. Smollett-Bell brought a new take to the character that was both fun and fresh. And even though she doesn’t wear the character’s signature fishnet stocking, Smollett-Bell totally rocks the gold pants like a freaking badass! I also liked Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain. It took some time warming up to her take on the character, but once I did I enjoyed it a fair bit. 

Moreover to some of the other performances like Ewan McGregor, who I think did a fine job portraying infamous gangster Roman Sionis. Although there is a something done to the character I was kind of furious about, but we’ll get back to that topic later when I point out the things I did not like. But I digress, McGregor really immerses himself into the role and becomes this short tempered, easily set off type of gangster that is determined to get what he believes is his by right. McGregor is a seasoned actor and it’s evident here with the quality he pours into his performance. Margot Robbie once again shines bright like a diamond as Harley Quinn. It’s almost as if the character and herself were destined for each other. The only complaint I have with her performance is that there were a few instances in which she over does the Brooklyn accent. Which was a little annoying, but it’s a minor nitpick that can be easily overlooked. But I digress. Robbie has a lot of fun with Quinn this time around and some of it pretty damn amazing, especially with the choice of color pallets they went with in the cinematography. It’s really colorful like earlier we see Quinn blow up the Ace chemical plant as the ultimate “fuck you!” to the Joker in a drunken rage for dumping her and throwing her out into the streets. This platter of colorful shots is seen again later on in the film during the police station raid, in what I consider the film’s best moment. Harley basically goes in with a teargas gun and it taking on the cops with gas and glitter grenades. The scene is colorful and hilarious, and I adored the slapstick sense of humor that was incorporated into the action sequence. Now I would be doing the film a massive disservice if I didn’t mention the film’s soundtrack, which is pretty amazing. Love or hate the movie, you cannot deny that the soundtrack is on point and kicking all kinds of ass. 

Now that I’ve said everything I loved about Birds of Prey, and it was a lot great stuff to unload. Now I have to talk about the things I did not like. And here is where things may get a tad bit controversial. Some may agree. And some may outright lambast me for saying it. But the film’s overall tone handle’s the topic of toxic masculinity all wrong by painting literally every male character in a negative light. Seriously, you will not find a single male character in BoP that is in any way good towards women. The film portrays all men as sexist, violent towards women, or having violent tendencies. And are untrustworthy towards women. I get what message BoP was trying to get across with this narrative. But the way it went about it was all wrong. Yes showcasing toxic musicality and the violent patriarchal system of misogyny against women is something that is deserving of being told on the big screen. But not all men are trash, which is something the film failed to grasp in it’s plot. A great example of praising feminism and putting patriarchal misogyny on blast is 2017’s hit Wonder Woman, and 2019’s Captain Marvel. Both films showcased the uphill battle women face in a man’s world, but also portrayed male allies. Men who did not look down on the opposite sex, but rather respected them as equals and fought alongside them in the good fight against evil. This is storytelling done right, sadly a memo that BoP must not have received during it’s developmental phase. Which while I’m on the topic of it’s development, whoever chose the title of the film really needs a demotion. “Birds of Prey: & the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn” is simply too long of a title. To be frank, I don’t think the movie should even be called Birds of Prey as none of the Birds are formed together until the very last 15 – 20 mins of the film. Nor do the birds really get ample time to shine since Harley hogs the spotlight from start to finish. A more appropriate title for the film would have been “Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey.” Which is ironically similar to what the studios went with after it’s opening weekend. But to be frank, it’s too little, too late. 

I love actress Rosie Perez, she’s a very talented actress that is highly underrated in my opinion. She  a good match for the role of Renee Montoya. However, the way the plot portray’s the character was irksome. In the movie Montoya is seen as a joke in the GCPD. No male cop respects her. And her own boss basically steals every single bit of credit that rightfully belongs to her. This does the source material of the character a great disservice. In both the comics, novels and even animated series Montoya is viewed as a highly respected member of the GCPD. Often at times she is considered as one of Commissioner Gordon’s right hand LieutenantEven taking charge when Gordon himself is out of commission for whatever reason. Yet, here theres no indication that she and Gordon are even colleagues as she doesn’t work at the main station nor is he even referenced. This is the first time Montoya is given time to shine on the silver screen and her debut is massively botched not by Perez by any stretch, but rather by poor writing. Which is another thing. Early on WB made it clear to fans that BoP would have an LGBT+ presence in a really big way. Yet, moviegoers were queer-baited with a scene so short it lasts for maybe 1.5 seconds. A literal blink and you’ll miss it early on in the movie. And as for Montoya? The only indication made that she is a lesbian is through a voice over done by Margot Robbie as Harley in one scene when referring to Montoya’s ex girlfriend who happens to work in the Gotham City DA’s office. The characters have zero past romantic chemistry between them and the only thing suggesting that they once dated is a the voice over. In my opinion, the studios likely did this to avoid issues in certain markets. Which is honestly a lazy cop-out. Which is a running theme you will notice with BoP. It has a plethora of brilliant ideas but never quite follow through with them to be great. 

Another example of queer-baiting that the film mildly suggests that Victor Zsasz and Roman Sionis might be gay, or bisexual at the very least. But beyond hints and suggestions, just like the Montoya fiasco BoP never quite settles on it. Which is a real shame because it could have worked. But more on Roman Sionis, for those who aren’t aware, he’s a mid tier villain in the Batman rogue gallery and is most notorious for his signature black mask, hence the name Black Mask. But we don’t really get to see him in the mast a whole lot here. In fact, he doesn’t done the mask until midway into the 3rd act, for which he is seen wearing for mere portion of the climatic final battle sequence in the funhouse. After that he, surprise surprise, takes the goddamn mask off! Really? That’s like Bane taking his mask off after wearing it for a mere 5 mins. Or Joker deciding to take a wet wipe to the face because he can’t have all this makeup on before his big showdown. Which while I’m on the topic of Joker. McGregor does a fantastic job as Sionis. But he never quite achieve’s the presence of main villain in the film. Because even though he isn’t at all in the movie. Joker casts a massive shadow over the entirety of the film. From members of the BoP continuously bringing up his name, to Sionis and his gang to the officers of GCPD. Joker is literally everywhere in this movie and at the same time not. And it’s hard to take the threat of a big bad gangster like Sionis seriously when you’re constantly asking “I wonder what Mr. J is doing right now?” Or “Where is the Joker’s gang in all this?”. I’m no fan of Leto’s Joker. To be frank, he’s my least liked incarnation of the character. But considering this film is a direct sequel to Suicide Squad, it’s a damn shame we didn’t true closure to the Harely/Joker arc that began in the former. 

Final Verdict: BoP is a lot of things. It’s wild and full of stylish creativity that it deserves credit for. What it was really trying to be was a fun lighter tone answer to the dark gritty nature of Joker (2019). In some ways it succeeded, while in other ways it failed. I’ve bounced back and forth wether or not I liked or hated BoP. There is no true short answer. Because there is enough stuff in BoP that I absolutely loved, but also there were stuff I really hated. All in all, BoP isn’t a terrible movie, but it isn’t the masterpiece that it could have been. It’s still a watchable film, if you keep expectations at it’s lowest. 

Rating: 6/10

Review: Ocean’s 8 (2018)

Directed by: Gary Ross
Written By: Gary Ross, Olivia Milch
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime

Plot: Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.

Reviewed by Clifford Kiyabu

Rating: 6/10

for months now the 4th installment in the Ocean’s series, Ocean’s 8 (2018), has sparked my curiosity. Especially after learning that it was not a remake, reboot, or reimagining, but rather a spinoff from the existing Danny Ocean storyline, which had me excited with anticipation. Considering that I have not seen any of the films in over a decade, I recently decided to do a complete revisit of the Steven Soderbergh Trilogy in preparation of the spinoff. Revisiting them have left me with mixed feelings, however. Ocean’s Eleven is, in my opinion, the superior in the trilogy, with Ocean’s Thirteen coming in a close second place. don’t get me wrong, Ocean’s Twelve is a good movie, just not nearly as entertaining as id like it to be. It suffered from being the middle child that tried a little too hard to win their parents approval.

this review will contain spoilers to the current installment so if you have not seen it yet and do not wish to be spoiled I recommend you stop reading now…

Ocean’s 8 picks up present day, following the release of Debbie Ocean (Bullock), younger sister to Danny Ocean. After meeting up with her longtime friend and partner-in-crime, Lue (Blanchett), the two set off to recruit a ragtag team of uniquely skilled women to aid them in the ultimate jewel heist, and possibly, get some much-needed revenge in the process. Overall I had a fun time with Ocean’s 8. Like its predecessors before it, the film has a certain charm to it that wheels you in from the start. However, while it did hold my attention for the entirety of the runtime, I was somewhat disappointed. To say Ocean’s 8 is a bad movie would be quite a stretch. however, it wasn’t really a great movie either. Much like Ocean’s Twelve, 8 tries too hard to capture the personality and magic of its predecessors and falls flat on doing its own thing. While the heist scene was pretty entertaining, it felt too safe. Never once in the film did I feel any risk for these characters. In the previous films, the main characters were constantly put in situations where it seemed like failure was more than a possibility. In Ocean’s 8 we never quite feel a sense of danger for any of Debbie’s crew.

Another issue lies in the fact that this film is filled with a cast of top-tier talent. Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter. each of these amazing ladies is truly a force to be reckoned with. They can, and have proven how marvelously talented they are. Bullock and Blanchett aside, the rest of the cast feels so underused here. But, the biggest sin Ocean’s 8 committed, in my opinion, lies with its villain. Claude Becker (Richard Armitage) is so forgettable as a character and villain, that you already begin to forget him by the time the credits start rolling, which is a real shame. Because for the Ocean’s films the villain has always played a key role in the formula. Terry Benedict (Andy García) is a character that you could help but love to hate, and he was nicely fleshed out and given some depth over the span of the entire Trilogy. In Twelve, we had Baron François Toulour AKA The Night Fox (Vincent Cassel) an egotistical thief who proved to be a formidable adversary to the Donny and the gang. And in Thirteen we got Willy Bank (Al Pacino), a narcissistic casino resort owner give’s Terry Benedict a good run for his money. As you can see each of these villains stand out. They’re almost iconic in their own way for the franchise. But as for Becker, he comes off as a throwaway character that didn’t deserve the effort put in for such a noteworthy revenge. And that’s a real problem for Ocean’s 8. The villain is so two dimensional that you really don’t care why Debbie is going out of her way to pay him back for selling her down the river.

Overall; Ocean’s 8 isn’t a bad film by any means. it’s easily much better than Ocean’s Twelve. but struggles behind Eleven and Thirteen. would I recommend seeing it? Sure, if you’ve got time to spare, then it’s an okay way to kill a couple hours. Otherwise, don’t waste your time.

Review: The Mummy (2017)

Directed by: Alex Kurtzman
Written By: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe, Jake Johnson.

Genre: Action/Horror/Fantasy

Plot: An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.

Reviewed by Clifford Kiyabu (The Doctor)

Rating: 5/10

Shared universes are all the rage among moviegoers currently, so it’s only fitting that the film industry would as well too. This, of course, is partly due to the success of Marvel/Disney’s MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), and more recently Warner Bros’ DCEU. Despite the bombardment of criticism the franchise has received by critics (pre-Wonder Woman), it has still proven to be very lucratively pulling in well over $2.9 billion to date at the worldwide box office. Ultimately, it is the moviegoer, not the critic who decides its fate. But I digress, just about every major studio in Hollywood has joined in on the current trend in some compacity may it be by entering a partnership with another competing studio or starting a shared universe of their own. Which brings me to Universal’s Dark Universe, an extended universe which serves to reboot all of their classic Universal Monsters with a more modern take on them. Yeah sure the idea does sound somewhat intriguing to hear, but in all honesty, there hasn’t been any real demand for it.

Despite all the negative reviews published on The Mummy, I still went in with a relatively open mind. And as a credit to the movie, I actually got some entertainment out of it. Likewise, I also had some grievances, too. The Mummy commits quite a few cinematic sins. Most notable is the lack of character development. It seems as though most of these characters are launched into the plot with very little development. Now that is not to say there is zero character development here, of course, there is some, just not enough to give us any real clear cut vision behind some of these character’s motivations and hints as to where their developing agendas lie. It also has a problem with delivery and execution on humor. Yes, it is first and foremost a horror/action. But it also attempts to tap into the same formula the Brendon Fresher Mummy films succeeded with when mixing action-horror with a subtle touch of humor. The problem here is unlike the Fresher films which came off as charming and engaging. This flick, however, comes off as dull and out of place. A good example of this comes directly from my experience. There are a few particular moments in the mummy that I felt were crafted to incite the audience into a roar of laughter, or at least a few chuckles at best. Instead, my theater room was so soft that the sound of a pin hitting the floor could be heard from across the theater room. It was during these moments during the movie that I would recall the long-running gag on the animated series Family Guy in which a lone ostrich sat in the stands giving a single sarcastic “HAHA!”.

Moreover, I felt an issue that kept coming up in The Mummy was its chemistry. More particularly the chemistry between Tom Cruise and the impressive Annabelle Wallis. Both of them are great respectively on their own, but as a pair, I wasn’t feeling it. Their romance felt more manufactured than organic. And that is, in my opinion, a major mistake when trying to establish a sense of history and weight in your characters. However, despite all the problems I’ve pointed out about The Mummy, and I’m sure I could go on about it even more. I honestly felt that some critics were a bit harsh. And I especially believe that some of that stem from the constant reminder that it truly wasn’t all that long ago that we got the last Fresher installment. Yes, it’s been nine years since The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) was released, and yes I guess that is considered a long enough gap of time to warrant a full reboot to the franchise. But it doesn’t change the fact that the impact of the previous films still lingers in our minds. It also had a lot riding on it for being the flagship film of the Dark Universe. Which caused a lot of raised eyebrows considering that there were last minute reshoots made for another Universal film called Dracula Untold (2014) which was originally meant as the official launch of the Dark Universe, but was later extensively downplayed when The Mummy was in development. There is no doubt that some felt rubbed the wrong way by this sudden change of direction, especially since Dracula Untold was a success at the box office for Universal. And despite its problematic plot holes and over the top cheesiness, despite all its flaws, it was still a somewhat decent popcorn flick.

But I firmly believe there is still hope for this franchise that nobody asked for, and it will depend on the steps Universal make in the upcoming years. Especially with its next installment. Right now the franchise is at a critical crossroads point. Some might argue that the franchise is already dead on arrival, but while that might be the case from a critical viewpoint. Money speaks louder than words. And right now The Mummy is sitting on a $377 million intake at the overall box office and still counting. It is also one of the largest box office openings in history for any Tom Cruise film in the European market. And the movie hasn’t finished debuting in the Asian market yet, so it’s world wide box office numbers is expected to continue growing as time continues. While The Mummy isn’t something I would recommend to see at the cinema, it is by no means the worst film of 2017.


91R2u84-EFL._SL1500_THE HOUSE OF SEVEN CORPSES (1974, DVD/Blu-Ray Combo)

I actually bought this movie on DVD way back in 2000 when Image Entertainment had the rights to it. At that time I had never heard of the movie and was only made aware of it, I believe, through some mentioning of it in Fangoria. That mentioning is what got me to buy it. But, it was another matter altogether when I settled down to watch it. I think I got about a half hour in when the tedium of the plot finally destroyed any and all interest I had in it.

Just this past Halloween TCM aired it one late night. I recorded it and again tried to watch it. This time it wasn’t the storyline that derailed my desire but the god-awful transfer and audio. Still determined to see this movie through to the end, I finally managed to score a review copy of it from Severin and this time managed to see it through to the end. I wasn’t totally put off by the tedium of the story this time, but the ending was a headscratcher.

Okay, so, the story goes like this, horror movie director, Eric Hartman (John Ireland), whom I will always remember as the local sheriff in The Incubus (1982), takes a film crew to this haunted mansion to make a horror movie. Among the cast members of the movie within the movie is Gayle Dorian (Faith Domergue), whom I will always equate with It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955), and the mansion’s caretaker, Edgar Price, played by horror icon, John Carradine.

About 90% of this movie is focused on Hartman’s making of his horror movie with for the first hour at least smidgens of supernatural activity mixed in between. Those smidgens focuses on one of Hartman’s actors, David (Jerry Strickler) who finds a shelf full of “forbidden tomes,” one of which is the Tibetan Book Of The Dead, and I think we all know by now what happens when unsuspecting people read and/or recite passages from these kinds of books. And that’s exactly what David does at the behest of Hartman who wants to add some of the passages to his movie.

In that first hour we get the unexplained death of Gayle’s cat; David and his actress girlfriend spotting Price going behind a tombstone, lifting something up and disappearing into the ground; and the history of the Beal mansion which involved the inexplicable murders/suicide of the family. Nothing that goes on in the movie is ever explained. We never find out why or how Gayle’s cat was cut in half, where the hell Carradine went when he went into the ground, or why David goes mad and tries to push Hartman into an open grave as they’re out in the cemetery getting exterior shots for the movie.
Even more inexplicable is when Hartman flips him into the grave and two pairs of desiccated undead arms appear seconds later and tries to grab Hartman. Did David turn into this corpse? Unknown. But before that event even happens, a corpse comes out of that same open grave, staggers into the mansion and kills everyone there. So, there were two corpses? Unknown, we never see them together, or why the corpse carries a dead, naked actress back into the open grave with it as the credits roll.

As of this writing I have yet to listen to the commentary, which I’m thankful there is one. And I’ll be checking it out tonight for some kind of explanation.

Putting all other releases to shame Severin Films released this movie back in August in a DVD/Blu-ray combo with a transfer that’s ten times better than the one TCM ran. It’s not perfect, it still shows some minor print damage in places, but the colors and the dark levels are striking.

Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen—DTS-HD Master Audio Mono—No subtitles.

The audio commentary with Associate Producer Gary Kent, moderated by Lars Nilsen was a great one full of information about the location, the actors, low-budget filmmaking in general but it didn’t shed much light on the plot. In my second viewing, though, I finally noticed the connection between the murders of the original family members seen in the prologue and the murders of the film crew at the end and how they mimicked one another, and then had that fact backed up by Kent in the closing moments of the movie.

Along with the movie’s theatrical trailer the main extra here is the newly discovered interview with John Carradine that runs 28:03. It was a very enlightening one, too. It’s obvious from the start Carradine was never a horror movie fan. He clearly states he’s made over 400 movies, with only 25 of them being in the horror genre and towards the end he states he’s never understood people’s fascination with them. He reveals theater is his first love and anything that took him out of it was only a job. He was also grateful for those “jobs” for they allowed him to see a lot of the world.

This film reminds me of Jim Wynorski’s remake of Not Of This Earth (1988) in that I had vague memories of seeing it on cable but was unsure if the eventual DVD I had ordered would be a keeper. After finally seeing it after all those years I didn’t think it was all that great, then I listened to the new commentary included with Wynorski and Traci Lords and I suddenly found myself actually appreciating the movie. The House Of Seven Corpses is exactly like that. The commentary was so insightful I now like the movie and deem it a keeper.

Review: THE ALIEN WITHIN (1990)

802993215603THE ALIEN WITHIN (1990)

What’s not obvious from Retromedia’s new The Alien Within DVD, front cover and back, is that it’s a double feature. Paired with Evil Spawn (1987), Alien Within is the remake of that flick. I’ve heard of Evil Spawn but had never seen it until now.

It stars Bobbie Bresee as Lynn Roman, an over the hill starlet who wants to be anything but. Just when things seem to be at their worst, a strange woman pays her visit and tells Roman she works, or had worked, for skin specialist, Dr. Zeitman (John Carradine from an earlier scene) and that these routine injections can give her back the youth she’s been sorely missing. As predicted she starts injecting herself with this untested serum, gets her young again, but also transforms into this monstrous insect-like creature when she gets enraged. This results in a few deaths, two of which are her assistant and her cheating boyfriend.

One of these people deserved it, one didn’t; can you guess which is which?
I knew you could.

The movie is told from the flashback of this guy writing Roman’s biography, or autobiography? I always get them confused. I guess it doesn’t matter for things don’t work out so well for him in the end and that (auto)biography never sees the light of day.

This movie reminded heavily of The Wasp Woman (1959) and it almost feels like an unofficial remake. Carradine’s performance in the film, I believe, is the last thing he ever acted in before his death. It’s filmed with generic dialogue so it could be reused for other films but was initially intended to be used in a Frankenstein movie thus making Carradine the notorious doctor himself but that movie never materialized.

The monster FX was very good. Of course this was back in the heyday of movie making when CGI was nothing but a Hollywood nerd’s wet dream and the main monster was a man-in-a-suit with animatronic mouthparts.

The transfer is widescreen, but not anamorphic. You’ll need to do some pix shape adjusting to get the picture to fill the screen. None needed if you’re still using a tube television though. Though zooming in gives it more of a VHS quality.

The Alien Within version ports over the main story of Roman, her plight with wanting to be younger and the monster she turns into, while implanting a “B plot” that for the most part is integrated fairly well into the existing footage. The Evil Spawn version makes mention of a movie being filmed, ‘Savage Goddess’ and the name of the director and the starlet being used in it are mentioned but never seen, in Alien Within, they are now played by Richard Harrison and Melissa Moore, while Gordon Mitchell takes up the role of the movie’s producer. Recruited to investigate Zeitman and his unsavory skin care procedures is private detective, Jay Richardson and his female assistant, Suzanne Agar.

Forrest Ackerman, who played the pool cleaner in the first film, is the only actor to make a second appearance, playing the same character, but with new lines, to link his old scene and his new scene together.

SOTA FX contributed two new monsters, a mutant dog and a lizard creature that Harrison turns into in the end..
The aspect ratio of Alien Within is 1.33:1 windowboxed.

Extras you’ll find on this disc is an Evil Spawn trailer, Roughly four minutes of outtakes by John Carradine, a general Behind The Scenes (2:26) featurette, photographic evidence (1:16) of The Missing Monster that was originally used in the movie but scrapped for a more elaborate and better looking creation. The first monster was clearly and admittedly in the vein of The Wasp Woman. Those photographs are the only existing proof it was used. No footage exists any longer. And finally you get a pretty damn good and informative commentary by Fred Olen Ray and Ted Newsom that covers varied topics about the movie, Evil Spawn, filmmaking, dating actresses/marrying them, friendships lost but not forgotten, and other sundry anecdotes which I loved hearing about.

Aside from the commentary, the well-executed monster FX and the well-photographed nudity (partial and full frontal) nothing else, unfortunately, about these movies worked for me. However, Ray does tease that he should do a proper remake of Evil Spawn/Alien Within and I actually hope he does one day.

Review: NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984)


Exactly like the two previous reviews I recently did—Saturn 3 (1980) and Body Bags (1991)—I have not seen Night Of The Comet in decades, specifically speaking not since cable circa 1985. And again like those two previous movies my initial reaction was lukewarm. In 1984 I was 15; I have no memory of it’s theatrical release, but a year later, when I presume I saw it on cable, I do have a vague memory of seeing it one day in the living room. I also think I read about it Fangoria, but alas I no longer have any of those mid-80s issue due to two factors: a bad decision that resulted in me cutting some of them up and using them in a collage for art class, and years later the remaining issues were destroyed by cat piss.

In 1984 everyone on earth is waiting to see this comet that’s supposed to pass by the earth. Not so sure if that’s a good thing to celebrate for the last time it visited this neck of the woods the dinosaurs “went missing.” Yeah, that’s right, every single one of them. So, you can see where this is all leading.

Teenager Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart) works as an usher at a movie theater and she’s working there the very night the comet comes. Her sister, Samantha (Kelli Maroney) is home contending with her “evil” stepmother who actually slugs her in the face when she mouths off to her.

The next morning earth turns into a whole new world. Regina didn’t go home, she spent the night with her “boyfriend” in the projection booth, and Samantha ran away from home and spent the night sleeping in the shed out back. Both girls were in rooms made from steel, which is what kept them alive. For everyone else who was fully exposed to the comet they got reduced to red dust. People who partially exposed suffer a more gruesome fate before eventually turning into red dust; they become “comet zombies.” And like regular zombies they crave live flesh, unlike regular zombies most of them still have full possession of their faculties and can communicate, shoot guns and menace a person like any regular earth bound psychopath would, except the end result in their case is the complete and total cannibalization of the person they are menacing.

The seemingly still in operation radio station is the first place the girls venture to hoping to find survivors. Here they encounter Hector (Robert Beltran), a truck driver who lost his girl to a ravenous comet zombie.

In another part of the state a “thinktank” of scientific researchers—notable among them is Geoffrey Lewis (’79 version of Salem’s Lot) and Mary Woronov (Terrorvision)—have survived, barely, and think they can produce a cure for the comet zombie plague, but they need blood doners for that, which is a bad thing, for the doner that is.

The girls pit their gun/survival skills (their father was military) against any comet zombie they come across not to mention the thinktankers, by the end of the film they gain a pseudo-family in the form of two children the thinktankers kidnapped. Samantha even stumbles across another guy, since Hector and Regina are already paired up, and with that New Adam and New Eve are ready to repopulate the earth.

Under their Scream Factory sub-label Shout Factory! finally brings this cult classic to blu-ray and DVD in a combo that came out on November 19th.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p High Definition 1.78:1 widescreen—5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio—English only subtitles.
The transfer on this one is extremely good looking and colorful where it needs to be. I had no problem with the audio.

Extra features are plentiful. To start off with you get not one, not two, but three separate commentaries: One with the two lead actresses, Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney, moderated by Edwin Samuelson, one with the director, Thom Eberhardt moderated by Michael Felsher and one with Production Designer, John Muto, again moderated by Micheal Felsher (owner of Red Shirt Pictures).

There are three featurettes on the DVD & the Blu-ray:
‘Valley Girls At The End Of The Earth’ (14:59): Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney reminisce about the film and still remain good friends to this day.

‘The Last Man On Earth?’ (12:32): Robert Beltan is interviewed and he turned down the role twice until the filmmakers promised he could play it like he wanted and not as it was written since it was written similar to the role he played as Raoul in Eating Raoul (1982).

‘Curse Of The Comet’ (6:32): Interviews FX Artist David B. Miller recounts his work on the movie; he was in charge of creating the “zombie” effects.
Rounding out the extras is a Film Photo Gallery (3:27), a Behind The Scene Photo Gallery (5:02) and the Theatrical Trailer.

Even though Night Of The Comet was never a favorite movie of mine, and after finally seeing it again it still registers non-existent on my list of movies I need to collect, it always comes to mind whenever I hear the names of the two lead actresses. I should say the first movie that comes to mine whenever I hear their names. For Catherine Mary Stuart it goes like this—Night Of The Comet, The Last Starfighter, Nightflyers and for Kelli Maroney it’s Night Of The Comet, Killbots (hard for me to think of that film as Chopping Mall since I first saw it on cable under it’s Killbots title) and the ’88 version of Not Of This Earth.

Also whenever I come across Robert Beltran’s name Night Of The Comet hits me right in the ol’ brainpan, and then Lone Wolf McQuade and then his stint on Star Trek: Voyager. Plus, it just reminds me of those good ol’ days of being a teen in the 80s. I don’t know how you all view the 80s now, speaking strictly to the Gen-X crowd, but I loved that era and miss it badly. Huh, for a movie I’m not a fan of it seems to certainly play an integral part in my life.

Review: The Avengers (2012)

MV5BMTk2NTI1MTU4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODg0OTY0Nw@@._V1._SX640_SY947_Directed by: Joss Whedon
Written By: Joss Whedon (screenplay) & Zak Penn (story)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Alexis Denisof.

Geren: Action / Fantasy

Reviewed by: Mike Huntley (The Dark Knight)

Grade: A+

When Marvel decided to form their own studio and started building solo superhero movies that existed in the same universe, fans were pumped for the inevitable Avengers team up movie that would be the icing and cherry atop an already delicious cake. Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk in summer 2008. Iron Man 2 in summer 2010, which was basically a prelude to The Avengers. Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger in summer 2011. And now the moment fans old and new had been waiting for: The Avengers in an already packed superhero movie summer in 2012. Going up against both Batman (The Dark Knight Rises) and Spider-Man (The Amazing Spider-man) is never an easy task to pull off, but The Avengers was probably the highest grossing film that summer and even sorta beat out The Dark Knight, which before Avengers was considered the best superhero movie of all time. Now, fans are kinda divided on which one deserves that mantle. While I do love The Avengers and it is the best Marvel Studios movie aside from Thor and Iron Man 3, I still prefer The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel, and The Amazing Spider-Man for personal reasons. I didn’t grow up with The Avengers the way I’m sure many kids who loved superheroes did. Yes, I had heard of Iron Man and Captain America, but aside from the outfits and names, I didn’t know shit about them. Yes, I knew who The Incredible Hulk was, mainly due to the short animated series. But all the others? Nope. Growing up, Batman and Spider-Man were and still are my top two favorites in the costumed hero department. Superman was popular on TV. The X-Men were a hit in animation. So, while I still love The Avengers and am a new fan, I will always have Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman closer to my heart. But that’s not to say that I wasn’t super excited to see Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye take on aliens and the God of Mischief!

Loki survived his fall into a black hole and has come to Earth to steal the source of power that S.H.I.E.L.D has in their possession. First, Loki puts a spell on Dr. Selvig and Hawkeye to help him open a portal that could damn our world. This causes S.H.I.L.D’s director Nick Fury to take action by assembling a team of the most powerful people on this planet. Those powerful people are Tony Stark/Iron Man, Steve Rogers/Captain America, Thor, and Dr. Bruce Banner/Hulk. Together they form a super fighting force to stop Loki from letting aliens destroy New York City.

I will never forget my theatrical experience with The Avengers. I went with my Dad opening night and the showing we were going to see was already sold out so we went ahead and bought tickets for the next show. We sat around in the van for a little bit till it was close to time for the movie to start. Just about every damn row from the very front to the very back was jam packed full of everybody from the elderly to parents taking their children. I remember getting the distinct pleasure of sitting next to some big guy who had serious B.O. and having some boys sitting in front of me giggling and texting during the show. But, once the lights dimmed and the movie began, I forgot all about those annoying little boys or my nose begging me for Oxygen. You know why? Because I was having a total blast watching Iron Man and Captain America stand side by side, Thor knocking Iron Man across a forest, and who can forget Hulk giving Loki a professional ass whoopin’? Yep, that was The Avengers. A total blast of fun, excitement, amazing visual and special FX, Hulk/Bruce Banner finally done to perfection, aliens crashing through a city, explosions, Scarlett Johansson giving me a nice boner, Tony Stark making me laugh my ass off, and just being the definition of a summer blockbuster. It’s that roller coaster that you want to catch the thrill again and again. Yes, I am not as attached as I am a Batman, Superman, or Spider-Man, but it doesn’t matter. I had a great time at the movies despite the unpleasant theater conditions.

When I first heard that Joss Whedon was set to write and direct The Avengers, I was more than happy. This is the same man who gave me two kickass TV shows during my childhood with Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. Sure, he had not had much movie making experience outside Serenity, which was the movie version of his short lived TV series Firefly. But, I always knew that Whedon had the potential to make it huge beyond the small screen and 2012 was the year of Joss Whedon with The Avengers and the horror film that he co-wrote and produced, The Cabin In The Woods. Whedon directs The Avengers with honor, respect, and love for these characters. The film never misses a beat and Whedon’s outerspace stuff looks frickin’ phenomenal. If he hadn’t already played in Marvel’s toychest, I would have said that he would have been the perfect filmmaker to bring that Justice League film to life. Still curious who gets that gig unless Zack Snyder jumps up and decides to or maybe Ben Affleck although I have a feeling he will get to direct the solo Batman films. Whedon also handles the screenplay well. We get that classic Whedon humor like when Stark tells Banner that he loves it when he turns into a giant green rage monster. And Hulk kicking Loki’s ass certainly made me cheer and giggle in my seat even though I had to hold the breathing part thanks to B.O. guy. Nick Fury making a flying monkies reference and Captain America picking up on it made me chuckle. Speaking of Captain America, I LOVE his new suit. It’s very classic Captain America whereas the suit in his solo film was more a military war suit. And that finale in New York City has gotta be one of the single greatest scenes in superhero cinema history. Words can’t describe how awesome it was seeing all these characters come together as a team.

The cast was spot on in their respective roles. Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark/Iron Man. The dude has enormous humor and tons of charisma that you just love. He’s the kinda dude you just want to chill with. Chris Evans was a great pick for Steve Rogers/Captain America. Finally, that 1990 movie is wiped away from the character’s identity. Chris Hemsworth is still thunderously awesome as Thor. The man is the definition of a superhero. Mark Ruffalo replaced Edward Norton, but ended up giving us the best portrayal of Dr. Bruce Banner/The Hulk applied to film. Ruffalo was a nice surprise. I hope he eventually gets that Hulk movie that he deserves. Scarlett Johansson is smokin’ fuckin’ hot as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. Plus, she can kick a lot of ass. My kinda woman! Samuel L. Jackson is great as the slick and cool eye patched Nick Fury. Clark Gregg is great as always as Agent Phil Coulson who is most likely not dead and is sadly on that God awful Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D television series that failed to capture the awesomeness of these movies in every way. Jeremy Renner is really good as Agent Barton/Hawkeye. But, Tom Hiddleston just about steals the show in his reprisal role as Loki. I love Hiddleston’s menace as a villain. You can tell that the guy is having a major blast playing this character and us audiences are therefore having a blast watching him having fun. Hell, the man even came to Comic Con in character and talked to the fans as Loki. So awesome, this guy.

Overall, The Avengers is the best Marvel Studios movie to date. Love it and look forward to Phase Two going forward and leading up to summer 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. The team will be expanding and the universe getting even more fascinating than it already is!

Review: Body Bags (1993)


I remember Body Bags. I remember reading about it in Fangoria and then seeing it on Showtime. I liked the second story the best but overall didn’t care for it. Haven’t seen it since then. I just watched it for a second time last night and now I like it. I had a feeling this would be the case after all these years.

Body Bags is an anthology movie comprised of 3 stories (The Gas Station, Hair and Eye) that was specifically made for Showtime by John Carpenter. The wraparound tale is about a dead “coroner” played by Carpenter himself who’s hosting shtick is similar to what The Cryptkeeper did on HBO’s long running Tales From The Crypt series. He clowns around with jet black humor and then introduces each tale:
“The Gas Station”—Haddonfield, 1993, Annie (Alex Datcher), a collegian, is starting her new job on the graveyard shift at a gas station. Over the radio as she’s being dropped off by her friend we learn a serial killer is stalking the town killing women. Christ, that poor town simply cannot catch a break ever since Micheal Myers cut a swath of carnage through it back in the late 70s. She quickly introduces herself to her departing co-working, Bill (Robert Carradine), and gets to work. Through out the night she serves various patrons, some are creepier than others but most are played by recognize stars. Wes Craven buys some cigarettes; David Naughton forgets his credit card; transient, and Carpenter regular, Buck Flower, needs to use the rest room; Peter Jason (another Carpenter regular) and wife show up to get gas, and Sam Raimi puts in two cameos: one in an Employee Of The Month photo and one as a dead body that falls out of a locker.

One of these men she’s recently met this night is the killer and it isn’t long before he reveals himself and the machete he plans to kill her with. The music, the pacing, the terror is classic Carpenter. I think this is my second favorite tale now. I even saw a couple of scenes Carpenter recreated from Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981).

“Hair”—Stacey Keach plays Richard Coberts (IMDB says his last name is Coberts but in the actual movie it sounds like they say Kobritz, which is the last name of the ill-fated babysitter in Carpenter’s The Fog) losing his hair and simply cannot stand it. Megan (Sheena Easton), his girlfriend, is constantly frustrated as well by his desperation for a solution. Richard comes across a commercial where a Dr. Lock (David Warner) claims he has the perfect solution. Richard pays him a visit, gets his head treated and wakes the next morning with incredibly long hair. There’s a catch, though, and its one that has already sealed his fate.

This was always my favorite of the three tales. It’s kind of similar to Carpenter’s own They Live (1988) where the aliens are already here on earth. In “Hair” they come in the form of the hair itself, which when inspected up close with a magnifying glass look like snakes brought to glorious life by Jim Danforth’s (Equinox) stop motion animation. This animation was so smooth for a minute I thought I was looking at some really early CGI.

“Eye”—This particular tale was my least favorite. Directed by Tobe Hooper it fits in nicely with The Hand (1981) and Body Parts (1991), with a basic plot that is pretty much identical to those two movies. A “family man” gets into a car accident, loses an appendage and then gets a new one grafted on to him, but the new one comes from a serial killer and that “evil cell memory” infects the man and influences him to do evil things. In this case that “family man” is Brent Matthews a professional baseball player who loses his right eye one night in a car accident. A couple of doctors played by Roger Corman and the late John Agar (Tarantula, Creature From The Black Lagoon) give him an eye transplant. Said transplant comes off successfully but he’s plagued by horrific visions of being a child abused, dead bodies appearing in the dirt in his backyard, body parts grinding up in the garbage disposal and sex with his pregnant wife that turns into the rape of a corpse.

A confrontation with Agar and research at the library reveals his eye came from a serial killer, but this does nothing to help him. His decent into madness becomes total at the end, with one final act of redemption. If thine eye offends thee pluck it out . . .

Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p High Definition 1.78:1 widescreen—5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio—English only subtitles
Body Bags hits DVD and blu-ray in a combo from Shout Factory through their Scream Factory sub-label and the transfer looks real nice. The audio is where I had a problem. It has the same problem as Retromedia’s Octaman (1971) release. I listen to all my movies through cordless headphones and through them I could hear occasional pops and cracks. The overall crispness was not very good either. The 5.1 audio was basically the lesser of the two evils. Listening to it through the TV’s speakers, however, did not reveal any problem, as was also the case for Octaman. They are minor and don’t totally detract from the viewing the experience, but having said that you can’t help but notice them.

Extras include a very good commentary with Carpenter and Robert Carradine on Gas Station, Carpenter and Stacey Keach on Hair and Justine Beahm and producer/Carpenter’s wife, Sandy King on Eye. Augmenting this commentary is a 20:08 doc titled, ‘Unzipping Body Bags.’ Mark Hamill’s two cents, however, was sorely missed on the commentary and the doc.

Highlights of both commentary/doc was that Showtime wanted Body Bags to be a series but they didn’t want to spend the money Carpenter said he would need to make it something of quality; Rick Baker’s hands shake when he has too much coffee; Carpenter enjoyed his acting stint as the “coroner” host, and Sandy King reveals that she and Carpenter are working on a PG-13 version of Darkchyld.
You also get Body Bag’s “theatrical trailer.”

Like Saturn 3, which I just reviewed, and initially didn’t care for until now, Body Bags is a noteworthy entry in Carpenter’s career, coming in between Memoirs Of An Invisible Man (1993) and In The Mouth Of Madness (1995).

One last thing, Scream Factory’s version marks the first time the Uncut version has hit home video. As King states in the commentary it got edited for its overseas release and that release just carried over to the US. But if you saw it on Showtime you already saw the uncut version. Most of the edits were made in the “Eye” segment.

Review: SATURN 3 (1980)

saturn3SATURN 3 (1980)

In grade school I had two friends that had cable before I did. Back then it was HBO that was the big boy on the block, the only boy now that I think about it, and I can’t rightly recall which one it was, Mike or Rob, that told me about this movie. And I’m not sure if it was after they had seen it at the movies or from cable. Anyway, the thing I remember the most from their talk of the movie was that this giant robot rips off Harvey Keitel’s head and uses it as its own.

For a young kid like myself who wasn’t totally into horror movies back then, well, I was, but they frightened me something awful until a traumatizing night at the drive-in to see The Thing in 1982 hardened me up real good, an image of a robot with no head using a torn off human’s one as its own certainly burned itself into my memory.

I have vague recollections of Starlog covering the movie so I already knew what the robot looked like. Eventually it hit TV but to this day I have only snippets of it still lodged in my brain. One of those snippets was being sort of under whelmed when it came time to seeing the robot with its human head. Just goes to show you imagination can sometimes be more potent than the real thing. Sometimes but not all the time. In this case it certainly was.

I haven’t seen Saturn 3 again since that TV viewing and was curious to know if Shout Factory!’s DVD/Blu-Ray combo would be a keeper. I’ve learned in the last few years that movies I used to either dislike or feel indifferent towards when I was young I now find appealing and vice versa. Saturn 3 now falls into the former category.

In an undisclosed future Adam (Kirk Douglas) and Alex (Farrah Fawcett) work on a hydroponics base on of one Saturn’s moon with their dog (Spoiler: dog gets iced). Everything is going along just fine until Captain Benson (Harvey Keitel) shows up to upgrade their system with a robot that’s the first in the Demigod line. It’s supposed to replace either Alex or Adam, much like we have nowadays where companies go the automated route to replace human workers.

We have two problems with this scenario: Benson is mentally ill, as in psychopathic and the robot he constructs, who he names Hector, gets it’s systems upgrade by connecting directly into Benson’s head, which means we now also have a mentally ill robot.

In the opening, we learned through a brief scene that Benson was not scheduled to go to Saturn 3 due to his psyche exam failure but takes it upon himself to go anyway by killing the guy who took his place.

Benson is certainly an odd person, which you get the sense of when you finally meet him on Saturn’s moon. Very unemotional, has an odd way of talking and not shy about asking Alex if he can bang her. When Hector is finally constructed and starts running amok the Frankenstein vibe is more than obvious. And this is where the movie settles in with Adam and Alex trying to survive Hector’s psychopathy and eventual delusions of grandeur. Harvey Keitel is eventually dispatched and that aforementioned “torn off head scene” surfaces where Hector puts Benson’s decapitated head upon his own. You see he’s basically a humanoid shaped creation with only a rudimentary neck armature and two lenses that act as a head.

This is not a gory movie, with more science fiction and action than horror. Despite that we do get a hand and a head that gets severed. The former happens right on screen, while the latter occurs off screen with only a brief reveal later on of where Keitel’s head went.

Video/Audio/Subtitle: 1080p High Definition 1.85:1 widescreen—5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio—English only subtitles.

Saturn 3 hits DVD and Blu-ray in combo form from Shout Factory! under their Scream Factory sub-label on December 3rd and the blu-ray transfer is gorgeous. Especially when we get into the Saturn 3 moonbase where there is fluorescent white lighting and blues in the architecture. This new remaster brings out those colors fantastically.

As extras go, first off, you get a commentary with Greg Moss who has a very thorough fan site that covers everything you ever wanted to know about Saturn 3 (http://saturn3makingof.com/) and Film Critic, David Bradley who moderates.

There are also two separate interviews, one with Voice Actor, Roy Dotrice (6:29), whom I will always remember from Space: 1999. He guest starred in two epsiodes from Season One. Here he talks about his dubbing of Harvey Keitel’s voice. The reason he was given was that he sounded too American. Dotrice is British, but he makes the argument what was Kirk and Farrah speaking? And one with Special Effects Director, Collin Chilvers (15:55) who was coming off of Superman (1978) when he took this job.

Other features included Additional Scenes From The Network Version (9:55) which kind of make the film a little better. No idea why they were cut. A Deleted Ecstasy Scene (3:32) with audio that cuts out near the end. A theatrical trailer, 2 TV spots and a Still Gallery (5:22).

Saturn 3 is a strange movie and one you wouldn’t associate with Kirk Douglas but I dug it.

Review: The Batman vs. Dracula (2005)

1382348_10152412537304968_673143980_nDirected by: Michael Goguen
Written By: Bob Kane (character: Batman) & Duane Capizzi (written by)
Starring: Rino Romano, Peter Stormare, Tara Strong, Tom Kenny, Kevin Michael Richardson, Alastair Duncan.

Geren: Animation / Action

Reviewed by: Mike Huntley (The Dark Knight)

Grade: B+

When it came to superheroes during the 1990s, Batman was all the buzz in both cinema and in animation. Coming off the wide success of Tim Burton’s 1989 blockbuster hit Batman and its controversial yet popular sequel Batman Returns, Batman The Animated Series was a dominant success on Fox. The series ran from 1992-1995 and then was revived with a new style on The WB to go along with Superman The Animated Series, which was also done by animation team Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and many others. In 1997, Batman The Animated Series was cancelled after completing a total of 109 episodes. Still the longest running superhero animated series to date since most animated shows for kids are restricted to having around 65 episodes total now. After the cancellation of Batman, The WB wanted Bruce Timm and company to make a teenage Batman show for them that would cater to an even younger audience as they thought Batman The Animated Series was a more mature themed series aimed more towards an older audience. This little experiment became known as Batman Beyond, which dealt with an old Bruce Wayne mentoring a teenager who in this futuristic Gotham City donned the Batsuit and played as a spinoff series. Batman Beyond was a nice little surprise that lasted 3 seasons and spawned a movie that brought back The Joker. A few years after Batman Beyond ended, Timm and Dini entered The Watchtower with the amazing Justice League/Justice League: Unlimited series that brought the most powerful beings in the DC Uiniverse all together. During this time, Alan Burnett who had worked on Batman The Animated Series got together with another team of animation producers to bring Batman back to being a solo TV series again and not be in continuity with the Justice League show. Taking place in Bruce Wayne’s 3rd year as Batman, The Batman explored The Dark Knight of Gotham facing many of his twisted adversaries for the first time. After the show’s first season was a success despite many Batman fans hating on it for not being as good as The Animated Series or the character design of The Joker, the producers decided to make an animated movie. After all, The Animated Series saw success with Mask of the Phantasm, Subzero, and Mystery of the Batwoman. With The Batman taking on a much more fantastical direction than The Animated Series yet still being kinda dark and somewhat morbid, they decided to pit The Batman against an equally iconic character who preyed on people when the sun went down: Count Dracula!

The Penguin and Joker have escaped yet again from Arkham Asylum. While The Batman chases after Joker, Penguin ventures out to the old Gotham cemetary in search of gold that may be buried in the catacombs. What Oswald Cobblepot discovers instead is a weird coffin. Penguin opens the coffin and cuts his finger in the process, thus awakening the ancient Count Dracula from his beauty sleep. Dracula places Penguin under his hypnotic spell and makes him his mindless slave. Meanwhile, billionaire Bruce Wayne has started dating the beautiful News reporter Vicki Vale. Soon, Gothamites begin turning into blood thirsty vampires including Batman arch nemesis Joker and Dracula targets Vicki to be a sacrifice in order to bring his wife back to the undead. Can one legend defeat the other?

The Batman was an animated show that I seriously didn’t want to give a fair shot to. It wasn’t Batman The Animated Series, which still is the best TV series thus far about Batman. Sorry Adam West. But after finding myself loving Beware The Batman after thinking it was going to suck for about a year, I decided to give The Batman another shot, a more open minded shot. And I really dug it. Sure, I still am not fond of Joker looking like a part of Insane Clown Posse, but the show was fun, entertaining, and surprisingly psychological in some episodes especially that Bane episode where Bruce flashes back to that night in the ally and we see Gordon comfort the traumatized youth. Anyway, I had always been intriqued to watch The Dark Knight go up against The Prince of Darkness. Who would win? A mortal billionaire who dresses up as a bat for effect or an ancient evil Count who is cursed to be immortal only by drinking the blood of living beings.

This 84 minute animated feature like the series is a fun time. The vampires are creepy looking. Dracula is awesome. Batman is awesome. Joker gets vamped and looks even more twisted. Vicki Vale is introduced who many Batman fans may remember as Kim Basinger’s character in Batman (1989).

I absolutely love the way the opening credits are done, giving this animated superhero/horror show a dark and gothic vibe. The Batman vs Dracula really shows how great of a detective that Batman is as he looks for a cure to vampirism.

The voice cast is good. Rino Romano may not be any Kevin Conroy but I thought he made a decent Batman/Bruce Wayne. Alaistair Duncan fit the role of Bruce’s long time loyal butler Alfred well. Kevin Michael Richardson was an odd choice to play Joker, but he did okay although I dug Mark Hamill a lot more. Tara Strong who many remember as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl on The New Batman Adventures era of The Animated Series plays Vicki Vale good enough. Tommy Kenny is perfect as Penguin. Kinda reminds me a bit of Danny DeVito’s Penguin voice. And Peter Stomare was creepy as Dracula.

Overall, The Batman vs Dracula is a good Batman film even though there are far better animated Batman films out there. It’s a good time for superhero and horror fans alike if you can look past the mere fact that it isn’t nor is it trying to be Batman The Animated Series even though the show borrows some characters that were popular on The Animated Series. But, good Batman and vampires movie that doesn’t suck the life out of you. Seek it out.