Movie Review: Triangle (2009)

Hellooooooooo! The spooktacular festivities continue! So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries, don’t be square, because this is… “Triangle”.

After a storm strands them during their boating trip, a group of people soon find find a bit of hope when they manage to board a passing yacht. But as they explore the big boat, they find themselves in a situation even worse than they could’ve ever imagined. Talking about the story of “Triangle” without revealing too much is tricky. But I’ll try my best. I find the story of it to be quite interesting, as it takes some of the hallmarks of supernatural/slasher films and twisting it into something that feels fresh and quite unique. It’s tense and unpredictable and quite fun. I’m sorry for the vagueness, but I’d rather someone who’s never heard of it going in as blind about the narrative as possible, as I feel that it’d make for a much better experience. But yeah, it’s really enjoyable.

The characters in this are alright. Development among them is not necessarily equally distributed, but I can at least say that I didn’t hate any of them… okay, one of them was a bit of a bitch, but there were none I just wanted to throw to sharks ASAP. Cast’s really solid too, featuring people like Melissa George, Michael Dorman, Henry Nixon, Liam Hemsworth, Rachael Carpani, and Emma Lung, all delivering really good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Christian Henson, and I really liked it. It’s a nice mix of strings, synths, piano, and even some vocals, making for a really eerie and emotionally charged score that really helped in elevating the various scenes it was used in.

“Triangle” was written and directed by one Christoper Smith, and I must say that I think he did a really good job with it. Smith has a really energetic style that gave the movie a decently snappy and tense feel, which kept it from ever getting stale. It was constantly crackling with energy, which really added to the intensity when something needed to happen. I also really like the editing here. Admittedly a few cuts feel a little quick, but most of them work really well in building intensity and a sense of unease. It’s just a solidly crafted film, yo.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

Yeah, “Triangle” is a really enjoyable little horror movie that puts some nice spins on familiar ideas. It has a really good story, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Triangle” is an 8.87/10. So I’d definitely say it’s worth buying,

My review of “Triangle” is now completed.

I should make a sequel to this and call it “Rhombus”, just for the hell of it.

Movie Review: The Karate Kid (1984)

Your suspicions are correct, I only saw this classic for the first time today. I know, shame on me for being late to the party, yada yada yada. Now, for those who haven’t left me over this horrific revelation… let’s talk about the movie.

Ladies and gents… “The Karate Kid”.

Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) has just moved to California with his mom (Randee Heller). However, things aren’t just sunshine and palm trees for poor Daniel, as he soon starts getting bullied by a group of karate-proficient bullies. This soon leads him to befriending an older Japanese man (Pat Morita) that may or may not be able to teach Daniel how to defend himself. So you get yourself a bit of an underdog story, a bit of a coming of age story, and a bit of martial arts (and even a few drops of philosophy). It’s a narrative that encompasses a lot of things, and handles most of them with a surprising amount of grace and nuance. This does add a little bit to my main criticism with the film, which is that the runtime really could be felt at times. I wasn’t necessarily bored per se, but let’s just say that those 2+ hours do feelt like 2+ hours. Overall it is a fun story that I found myself pretty engaged with, even if it felt like it dragged at points.

The characters in this are colorful, entertaining, and surprisingly layered. Ralph Macchio plays Daniel LaRusso, the Jersey kid forced over to California. At first he can come off as that typical angsty teen, but soon shows that he is more than that. He’s charming, he’s funny, and he’s a good dude who just wants to live his life. And to see that personality get tested through Daniel’s various trials and tribulations is quite interesting, with Macchio giving a great performance. Next we have Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi, the older man that Daniel befriends and (as you all know) agrees to train. He’s a bit of an eccentric man, which makes him a really entertaining character, with Morita being really good in the role. And I have to say, the chemistry between Macchio and Morita is stellar, and is arguably the best part of the entire movie. We also get supporting work from people like Randee Heller, Elisabeth Shue, Martin Kove, William Zabka, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Bill Conti, and it was a lot of fun. It has a lot of familiar 1980s cheese to it with big, inspirational brass and what I’d like to call “montage synths”. You know, those kinds of synths that only show up in old underdog stories to serve as some sort of personal growth/montage thing for the character (you’ll know ’em when you hear ’em). Either way, I think his score is a lot of fun and works well for the movie. There’s also a bunch of licensed songs used through, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

“The Karate Kid” was directed by John G. Avildsen, and I think he did a good job. Shots have a nice flow to them, and his direction has a certain type of energy that really helps bring you into the scene. He also makes the story feel a bit more grandiose than it is. Because if you think about it, the story itself is relatively small scale, but Avildsen has a way of making it feel quite substantial. I will also say that I enjoy the way he shoots martial arts. It doesn’t show up that much in the film, all things considered, but when it does it’s nicely shot and gets properly shown off.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best supporting actor (Morita).

So while it does have some mild pacing issues, “The Karate Kid” is still a highly entertaining coming of age story that I really enjoyed. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Karate Kid” is an 8.60/10. So while flawed, it’s still certainly worth buying.

My review of “The Karate Kid” is now completed.

You’re the best around, nothing’s gonna ever keep you down…

Movie Review: All the Money in the World (2017)

I’m back! To clarify: I took a little break from writing for a little over two weeks because I just didn’t have much energy, but now I’m here again! And hopefully I’ll be able to keep this shit up semi-regularly again. So yeah, let’s goooooo!

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “All the Money in the World”.

Italy, 1973. Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) finds herself in a precarious situation after her son (Charlie Plummer) gets kidnapped one night. And we follow her as she tries anything to save her son, which includes trying to get help from her son’s billionaire grandfather (Christopher Plummer). So what we have here is part kidnapping thriller and part domestic drama, and for the most part I think it holds up well. The movie jumps between Gail’s struggle with her former father-in-law, and her son being stuck with the kidnappers. And both stories are pretty solid, with one half being a really fascinating character drama, and the other being a tense as hell thriller. The only issue I do have is that the pacing does suffer a little bit towards the middle. It doesn’t break the movie in half, but it does bring it down a little bit.

The characters in this are all pretty interesting and all bounce off of each other quite well. First up is Gail, played by Michelle Williams. A tough, yet also vulnerable woman trying her damndest to just get her son home safe and sound. She is a pretty interesting protagonist to follow, and Williams is great in the role. Next we have Christopher Plummer (R.I.P) as J. Paul Getty, the billionaire whose money the kidnappers want. He’s a stubborn old man who can often come off as a real son of a bitch, which makes him a wonderful counterpoint to Williams’ Gail, making for some interesting drama and character dynamics. And Plummer is just terrific in the role. Then we have Fletcher Chace, Getty’s number one guy. While not the most fleshed out character in the movie, he does make for a nice addition to the cast as a way of briding the gap between characters. And Wahlberg is really good in the role. And Charlie Plummer is an absolute standout as J. Paul Getty III, he is so god damn good in his role. We also get supporting work from people like Romain Duris, Andrew Buchan, Marco Leonardi, Giuseppe Bonifati, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Daniel Permberton, and I thought it was pretty good. It’s not exactly groundbreaking in any way, and I don’t I’m gonna remember it in a week, but overall it did work well within the movie itself, and I think it helped out the various scenes where it could be heard. There’s also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and those work pretty well too.

Based on a book by John Pearson, “All the Money in the World” was directed by Ridley Scott, and I think he did a damn good job with it. He clearly still has such a grip on how to really pull the viewer into a scene. From a basic enough wide shot to bits of action, the man has a masterful grasp of the film. And I don’t think I can go on without mentioning the mad lad’s reshoots. For any cave dwellers that might be unaware, this movie originally starred Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty, but after all the sexual assault/harassment allegations against him came out, the studio pulled the movie from a festival. Ridley Scott, being the marvelous jackass that he is just said “Delay the movie a few days and give me some money for reshoots”, after which he pulled in Plummer (and any of the non-predatory actors left) and reshot all the Getty stuff. And the mad son of a bitch pulled it off. So yeah, Scott is a god damn pro.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 7.2/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.8/10.

While not within the upper echelon of Ridley Scott’s filmography, “All the Money in the World” is still a damn good biographical thriller. It has a really good story, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “All the Money in the World” is an 8.42/10. So while flawed, I’d still say it’s worth buying.

My review of “All the Money in the World” is now completed.

Ridley Scott, you glorious madman.

Movie Review: The Hidden Fortress (1958)

Hello there, my friends! I hope you’re day is going well. Anyway, it’s once again time for Akira Kurosunday. So let’s chat about this movie.

Ladies and gents… “The Hidden Fortress”.

The story follows Tahei and Matashichi (Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara), two lowly peasants trying to get by. But then one day they get the opportunity of a lifetime when they meet a man and a woman (Toshiro Mifune and Misa Uehara) who promise the pair a bunch of gold in exchange for helping escort them across hostile territory. What the pair o’ peasants don’t know though is that the man and woman may be more than meets the eye. “The Hidden Fortress” is slightly different from the previous Kurosawa flicks we’ve covered so far. It’s not an examination of truth and lies, or a deep dive into the darkness of a man’s soul, or even a four hour epic about different people coming together. This is a more straightforward adventure story, going for less of a deep, nuanced thing, and aiming to be more of a fun affair. And I think it succeeds at that quite well, telling a very entertaining story with enough little turns to make it a little more interesting. I do feel that the pacing isn’t the best in this movie, as it drag a little in parts for me. It doesn’t completely break the experience for me, but it’s noticeable enough to bring it down a little bit. But otherwise I highly enjoyed the story told here.

The characters in this are all colorful and entertaining. First up we have the two peasants, played by Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara. They have a very fun dynamic, and they help add a lot of comedy throughout the entire movie. And Chiaki and Fujiwara both give really solid performances. And I think it goes without saying how good Toshiro Mifune is in his role. And Misa Uehara does a solid job with her role too. It’s just generally a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Masaru Sato, and I think he did a really good job with the music here. It very much fits the fun adventure style that the story is going for. It has enough grandeur to add some weight to proceedings, but it also clearly never goes for anything too serious. It’s just a fun score that works very well for this movie.

As you already figured, “The Hidden Fortress” was directed by Akira Kurosawa, and as per usual he of course knocked it out of the park. This was also his first venture into widescreen filmmaking, and he took full advantage of that fact. He has stuff going on throughout the entire screen, giving us a lot of beautiful wides of both action and stillness. He and cinematographer Kazuo Yamazaki really outdid themselves here in giving us a lot of breathtaking shots and sequences. Must’ve dented the floor with how many times my jaw dropped.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.1/10.

While the pacing drags a little bit in parts, I still find “The Hidden Fortress” to be a highly entertaining piece of filmmaking. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Hidden Fortress” is an 8.87/10. So I’d say that it ‘s definitely worth buying.

My review of “The Hidden Fortress” is now completed.

Fortress: Hidden
Movie: Very visible.

Movie Review: Rashomon (1950)

Not too long ago I bought a box set featuring six movies from acclaimed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. And today I decided to finally start getting through it. And I thought that it could be fun to talk about each movie as I get through them. Sound good? Cool. Let’s do it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Rashomon”.

Kyoto, Japan. We follow a group of people as they recount the various perspectives on the tragic events that transpired between a bandit (Toshiro Mifune), a samurai (Masayuki Mori), and the samurai’s wife (Machiko Kyo) that happened in the woods on one fateful day. Perspective is the name of the game within “Rashomon”, as each retelling of the events changes some minor details to make the momentary narrator seem like the better person, which does present some interesting ideas about truth, lies, and how we perceive people telling us about things they’ve seen and done. And the way it’s used within “Rashomon” is actually pretty clever and interesting, often making for really compelling drama. Admittedly it doesn’t always hit bullseye with its various sections, as there are times where the storytelling feels like slightly weaker than in others. But overall I can’t say that there’s anything outright bad in the story of “Rashomon”, as it’s still an ambitious and interesting piece of psychological drama.

The characters in this I found to be pretty interesting. Seeing how they either react to the different retellings or even how they are the one being the teller makes for some interesting character studies that aid the storytelling in really compelling ways. And with actors like Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, and Minoru Chiaki all delivering top notch performances, you get one hell of a compelling cast of characters.

The score for the movie was composed by Fumio Hayasaka, and it’s great. It often plays into the whole unreliable narrator aspect of the story, having this unsettling vibe that helped in putting me on edge whenever it was heard within a scene. But I also appreciate that it isn’t overused. There was a lot of restraint shown in how it was used as sparingly as it did, giving it a much great effect whenever it popped up. It’s just really solid and works very well for the movie.

Based somewhat on a pair of short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, “Rashomon” was co-written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. And I don’t think I’m bringing anything new to the table when I say that his direction here is top notch. His framing, his movements, everything about his directing is just superb, adding so much to the storytelling. His direction manages to be big and bold, while also having a lot of subtle nuances to it. It’s just great stuff, yo.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic is has a score of 98/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10 and is ranked #130 on their “Top 250” list. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best art direction. 

So yeah, “Rashomon” is a really good psychological drama that, while not perfect, still manages to engage for its runtime. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Rashomon” is an 8.80/10. So I’d say that it’s most definitely worth buying.

My review of “Rashomon” is now completed.

Feels good finally getting ’round to Kurosawa.

Movie Review: Bad Day for the Cut (2017)

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya! Wait, can I say that if I’m not Irish? Anyhow, hope you’re doing well. Let’s get into some movie talk.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Bad Day for the Cut”.

Irish farmer Donal (Nigel O’Neill) must go on a quest to find those responsible for his mother’s murder. That is a very basic way of putting it, but stick with me for two seconds. While at the surface it might seem like another revenge thriller, it doesn’t take long for the movie to reveal that there’s more to it than just “person kill person who killed person that knew person“. Yes, some of the revenge elements are very familiar. But it a lot more fleshed out thanks to plenty of heart, and also a surprising sense of humor. Now, this movie isn’t a comedy per se, but the filmmakers were smart enough to realize that the movie might’ve felt a tad dry had they played it completely straight. And a lot of the humor comes from our main character, whose reactions to people, things, and situations around him make for some excellent levity that add a bit of flavor to this soup. And that’s not to say that the serious parts of the story are uninteresting, because they’re solid enough on their own, with some decently engaging drama going on at times. I’m just saying that those humorous elements help make it stand out a bit more. I do feel that the narrative loses a little bit of steam around 60-65% into the movie, but it picks itself back up soon enough and gives us a riveting finale.

The characters in this are pretty interesting and are, for the most part, sympathetic in some regard. I will only go into detail about one of them though, and that’s Donal, our main man. He is a kind, quiet, middle-aged farmer living in a remote part of Ireland with his dear mother. He’s a good man who goes to some dark places, but without ever truly losing himself, and that makes him a fun character to follow. And Nigel O’Neill is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Susan Lynch, Józef Pawlowski, Stuart Graham, Ian McElhinney, Anna Próchiak, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by James Everett, and it was pretty good. It’s not one of those I can remember much of off the top of my head, and I certainly couldn’t hum it to you either. But as far as being a moody, somewhat ambient score for a revenge thriller/drama, it’s solid enough stuff. There were also a handful of licensed tracks used through, and I liked how they were incorporated into their respective scenes. So yeah, music overall was pretty good.

“Bad Day for the Cut” was co-written by Chris Baugh and Brendan Mullin, with Baugh also serving as director. And I will say that it’s really well handled for a low budget thriller. Baugh shows that he knows how to build a decent bit of suspense in a scene, and he really manages to bring us into a character’s mind when simply sitting with them in a scene. It’s also decently well shot, so that’s a nice bonus.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating. On Metacritic it has an audience score of 5.8/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.5/10.

While it does lose some interest at one point, “Bad Day for the Cut” is still a fun and engaging revenge film that feel fresh thanks to its unique main character and tone. It has a good story, pretty good characters, really good performances, pretty good music, and really good writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Bad Day for the Cut” is an 8.87/10. So it’s certainly worth buying!

My review of “Bad Day for the Cut” is now completed.

Good stuff.

Movie Review: The Wolf Man (1941)

Oh hi there, I hope you’re doing well. Our journey through the Universal Monsters box set continues. So let’s go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Wolf Man”.

After he returns to live with his father, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) finds himself on a late night trip with a beautiful woman (Evelyn Ankers). This trip takes a sinister turn however when Talbot has a violent encounter with a wolf. An encounter that would change his life forever. While not the first movie to feature a werewolf, it’s definitely the one that set the standard for that type of story. Several tropes originated from it, and that legacy can’t be ignored. And I enjoyed the narrative here. I don’t necessarily think it’s the most nuanced or even most well told of these Universal monster stories, but I did most certainly enjoy it. The tone is the right balance between the campy monster stuff and something more somber and dramatic. The storytelling hits just the right mark for me. Nothing overly special, but definitely quite enjoyable.

The characters in this have a decent bit of nuance to them, and I found them to be decently entertaining. Lon Chaney Jr. plays Larry Talbot, AKA the man who is a wolf. And he is definitely the most nuanced character here. Seeing his arc, from smooth talking and charismatic man to someone more tragic is genuinely engaging, and Chaney Jr. is fantastic in the role. Next we have Claude Rains (the Invisible Man himself) as John Talbot, the father of our protagonist. A man of god and science, he serves as an interesting dramatic foil in Larry’s development, and makes for an interesting presence. And Rains is great in the role. We also get supporting work from Evelyn Ankers, Maria Ouspenskaya, Warren William, and Bela Lugosi (fuck yeah), and they were all great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Charles Previn, Frank Skinner, and Hans J Salter… not often we see a trio of composers, so I’m just gonna let this moment simmer for two seconds. One, two. Okay, how was the score then? Pretty good. It was decently atmospheric and eerie, perfectly complementing the vibe the movie was going for. It’s good.

“The Wolf Man” was directed by a man named George Waggner, and I would say he did a really good job with it. Shots flow nicely into each other, and the man shows here that he haad great skill when it came to create a gothic sense of dread, without making it feel too overbearing in any sense. Speaking of gothic, I love the sets here. Yes, they often look like just that: Sets. But they’ve been coated in this dark, eerie, gothic atmosphere that just makes me so happy.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.3/10.

While not a top tier Universal monster movie, “The Wolf Man” is still a highly enjoyable one. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Wolf Man” is an 8.66/10. So I’d say that it’s definitely worth buying.

My review of “The Wolf Man” is now completed.

Of WOOOOOOOOLF, AND MAAAAAAAAAN!

Movie Review: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Our journey through the Universal Monsters blu-ray set  continues, with the first (and only) sequel within it. So let’s put our neck-bolts on and get ready to talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Bride of Frankenstein”.

Set immediately after the horrifying events of the first movie, we follow the Monster (Boris Karloff) as he makes a daring escape, trying to just be left in peace. All while the somehow still alive Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) once again is in the business to create life. This movie is a little falsely advertised. The bride does technically exist in this movie, but spoiler alert, she’s barely fuckin’ in it. She only shows up for a minute right at the end, barely playing any role in it. The story leading up to that is excellent, and I don’t mind the bride scene either… but when your movie is named after something that’s only there for a minute, then you kinda fucked up, I feel. It’s like if you took “Fight Club” and named it “The Harassment of Raymond K. Hessel”, yes it happens in the movie, but it’s such a minor element that it’s not worth naming the movie after it. Wow, I spent a lot of time on that one thing… but I guess I can justify that with “the movie is very mismarketed”.  Anyway, the rest of the story is great, they get some excellent drama of the Monster being on the run from the mob of scared people. There is a lot of nuance within the narrative, it is emotionally engaging. But man, that title snafu really bugs me.

The characters in this are colorful (ironic, given the monochrome) and entertaining. Let’s start with Boris Karloff as the Monster. He’s a tender creature, someone who doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but is sometimes forced because he’s trying to survive. He has such a beautifully tragic arc in this movie, and Karloff’s performance is fantastic. Colin Clive returns as Dr. Frankenstein, and he’s a little more reserved this time around… and Clive does a good job with his performance. And the supporting cast, containing people like Valerie Hobson, Ernest Theisger, Elsa Lanchester, Dwight Frye, O.P. Heggie, and more, all do quite well in their respective roles. Theeeeeen there’s one cast member I don’t like. That is one Una O’Connor. She was also in “The Invisible Man”, in which she was kinda fun. Here however she doesn’t fit. Her performance doesn’t work with the serious tone of this… and she has a lot of screen time. Do you see the problem with that one? But yeah, one really big sore thumb in an otherwise great cast.

The score for the movie was composed by Franz Waxman, and I think he did a good job with it. It’s fun, it’s decently emotional, and it overall does fit the whole mad science/gothic vibe for it. It just works for this movie pretty well.

The director of the first movie, James Whale, came back to direct “Bride of Frankenstein” as well, and once again his direction is spectacular. This man was very much ahead of his time, giving scenes a lot of exciting camera movements and angles that almost felt ahead of their time. Whale’s direction is electrifying, and when you combine that with the cinematography of John Mescall’s cinematography, you get a movie that is beautiful to look at.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 95/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10. The movie even was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Sound.

So yeah, I don’t love “Bride of Frankenstein” as much as most people. It has some flaws within its title-story ratio, and also one painful performance… but it’s still a solid flick. It has a good plot, okay characters, great performances, good music, and great direction/cinematography. Time for my final score. *ahem*. My final score for “Bride of Frankenstein” is an 8.11/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Bride of Frankenstein” is now completed.

The film twitter people are gonna kill me for me… and then reanimate me so they can kill me again.

Movie Review: Cronos (1993)

More spooky content coming your way. And this one kind of fits within a Month of Spooks tradition. For multiple years now, I’ve covered a movie from this director. And this is the only one of his movie’s I had not seen yet. So yeah, this is exciting for me.

Damas y caballeros… “Cronos”.

The story follows Jesús Gris (Federico Luppi), an antique dealer who one day comes across a strange device. And when he activates this device, it does something to him, something that starts turning him into something… not very human. So to put it bluntly, this is a different take on vampire mythology. And I found it to be quite enjoyable. Like with most other movies by this director, “Cronos” focuses more on the heart and humanity of the situation, leaning in towards the emotional spectrum of it all. And I found myself quite engaged by that. The only parts that didn’t fully click for me is the central antagonist, who is an old, sickly man (Claudio Brook) seeking eternal life. I don’t mind that cliché being used in a story, as I think it has some merit. But the way it’s used here feels a little undercooked. If a little more time had been spent with the antagonist, allowing us to get to know him more, then maybe I had been a little kinder to that aspect of the narrative. Or hell, maybe it could’ve been dropped to focus more on the antique dealer’s transformation and personal plight. But you know what? As it stands, I do still enjoy the narrative and its very charming narrative, as it does have cool ideas and plenty of heart.

The characters in this I find decently interesting and entertaining. Federico Luppi plays Jesús Gris, the antique dealer who goes through this strange vampiric transformation. He’s a kind, warmhearted man who lives mainly to take care of his wife and his granddaughter. And that’s where a lot of his personal conflict lies, between the rising bloodlust of his transformation and simply wanting to care for those he loves. And it’s quite the interesting character arc, with Federico Luppi giving a fantastic performance. Claudio Brook as the old man seeking the eternal life gives a solid performance, though as previously stated, I wish there maybe was a little more to him as a character. And then there’s Ron fucking Perlman as Angel, the old man’s nephew, a tough guy/charismatic dick. And he makes up for some of the old man’s shortcomings purely by the virtue of Ron Perlman being fucking awesome. And in supporting roles we see people like Margarita Isabel, Tamara Shanath, and Daniel Giménez Cacho, who all give really solid performances.

The score for the film was composed by Javier Álvarez, and I think he did a good job. It’s pretty unique for a horror score, going for a weirdly charming and quaint vibe that I guess is to catch the vibe of the quiet life our protagonist lived before the device. And I do think this unique soundscape works to the film’s advantage.

“Cronos” is the feature film debut of one Guillermo del Toro. And talk about starting your career with a bang. Even in this first feature, while not perfect in its construction, del Toro’s style shines through brilliantly. The tone and style we enjoy in his later movies is very much here, just on a smaller, slightly less refined scale. And that I think largely helps the movie stand out a lot. He knows how to bring us close to the characters, to feel intimate with their situation. And when you mix that with Guillermo Navarro’s beautiful cinematography, you get some of the most impressive craft I’ve seen for such a small, low budget feature debut.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 70/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.7/10.

While not my favorite of del Toro’s movies, “Cronos” is still a highly entertaining and impressive little movie. It has a good story, pretty good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/cinematography. *Ahem*. My final score for “Cronos” is an 8.32/10. So while flawed, Is till think it’s worth buying.

My review of “Cronos” is now completed.

So now I’ve seen all of del Toro’s films. Whoa.

Movie Review: Dracula (1931)

The Month of Spooks is something I do every year as a celebration of the spookier side of entertainment. However, I have seldom looked back on the REALLY old stuff, the big classics. So this year I sought to change that ever so slightly. This means that every other review you’ll see this month will be of a film from the Universal Monster Classics blu-ray set. So there… variety!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Dracula”!

Transylvania. A real estate agent named Renfield (Dwight Frye) finds himself a guest of the enigmatic Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi), only to succumb to the Count’s will and become his servant. The two then set out for London, where Dracula will continue his reign of terror. We all know the basic setup for this story, let’s not kid around with that. But how does it hold up in terms of storytelling here? Pretty good, actually (fucking anticlimactic, I know). It’s a simple gothic tale with occasional hints towards more nuance within certain developments, and I like that stuff. I do however have some issues with it. Those issues pertain mainly to the pacing throughout. Sometimes it rushes through parts and sometimes it drags a little. It doesn’t completely break the film in half, but it is noticeable enough that it should be mentioned. But overall it’s still an enjoyable little tale.

The characters in this are fine, they serve the story decently enough. Bela Lugosi plays the titular vampire in this. A silver-tongued, polite gentleman who also occasionally gives people a nibble or two on the neck. I enjoy his presence, he’s a good villain/monster for this story. And Lugosi’s performance is of course great, a wonderful mix of quiet menace and mildly campy flamboyance. The other one I wanna go into some detail with is Dwight Frye as Renfield, the poor fool who becomes Dracula’s pawn. A seemingly decent dude turned madman. He’s probably the most interesting character in this, as we see he’s seemingly both intelligent and crazy, making for a surprisingly nuanced character. And Frye is great in the role, really selling Renfield’s recent insanity in a way that genuinely creeps me out. And the rest of the cast, including people like Helen Chandler, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan, and more, all do really well in their respective roles.

What’s fascinating about this movie’s score is that it doesn’t really exist. The movie does use excerpts from one or two stage shows at certain points (mostly notably one from “Swan Lake”), but for the most part this film lacks any real score. But that’s okay. Not every film or scene needs music.

Based on the book of the same name by Bram Stoker, “Dracula” was directed by Tod Browning (with uncredited help from Karl Freund), and I think the craft on display here is terrific. While we’ve seen many homages and parodies and references to the visual style of this movie in tons of other projects, there’s something truly special about seeing this original take on the classic gothic visuals. The visuals in this are fucking breathtaking, from the sets to the lighting to the framing, it all just looks amazing to this day. Sure, some of the effects don’t look as good today, but I think that adds to the charm of it. I just love that old school gothic aesthetic.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.5/10.

While its occasionally wonky pacing drags it down a little, “Dracula” is still a really good gothic horror flick. It has a good store, okay characters, really good performances, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Bleh*. My final score for “Dracula” is an 8,77/10. So while a little flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying!

My review of “Dracula” is now completed.

Bela Lugosi, legend. Dwight Frye, MVP.