Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2045 (Season Two) [REVIEW] | To Doublethink Outside The Cage

Yeah, let’s tackle something a bit more challenging before we once again dip our toes in braindead killer animal exploitation crap.

When i reviewed the first season of this new Ghost In The Shell series back in 2020, i wasn’t expecting it would take 2 years before the second part/season would finally air, not because these projects aren’t time consuming (they are), but the general lack of interest in this new 3D CG iteration of the franchise shown by fans and the lack of much news at all almost made wonder if Netflix didn’t consider cancelling.

But then again, in the meantime we saw that it would take a gargantuan dumpster fire such as the live action Cowboy Bebop to make the streaming giant go and actively go “yeah, we’re gonna make more of this trash but we actually decided not to”.

A rare move, given WHAT this company is usually okay with greenlighting in excess, while killing stuff people actually likes.

Still, after a while it became clear this second season wasn’t exactly making anime fans go in the streets to demand it big time. Riots were not made for SAC 2045 Part 2, that much is undeniable.

Eventually, in late May 2022 the second season dropped on Netflix, preceded by a compilation film of the first season, called – fittingly so – GITS SAC 2045: Sustainable Warfare, which we talked about in its EXPRESSO review, and overall served as a good refresher since 2 years had passed.

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[EXPRESSO] Ghost In The Shell -Stand Alone Complex 2045: Sustainable Warfare (2022) | Cyborg Cut

I’ve reviewed the first season of Stand Alone Complex 2045 before in detail, but as a refresher for season 2 finally arriving (2 years after the first one, dang) later this month, i’d figured i watch the film-like compilation cut of Season 1, titled Substainable Warfare, recently arrived on Netflix.

Btw, yes, this actually follows the continuity from the older Stand Alone Complex series, being set 11 years after the event of the movie Solid State Society, BUT, in typical GITS fashion, it’s also a separate entity that can be enjoyed on its own… even though in this case you really need to have some familiarity with the Stand Alone Complex series to get the most out of it.

As a very quick primer, GITS it’s about an unit of elite special agents, Section 9, led by Motoko Kusanagi abd working for the Japanese goverment, with its members having various degrees of cybernetic implants and specialized skills used to deal in terrorist attacks, infiltrations, hacking incident, and all that cyberpunk jazz.

Here we have the group mostly disbanded and acting as a mercenary unit in America, until the rise of the so-called “Post Humans” leds to Section 9 being re-formed to deal with the issue.

The recut itself it’s well done (though it does away completely with the “geezers bank heist” episode, shame), in terms of the material… well, it’s still better than Arise, though it tries a bit too hard to update/modernize the cyberpunk themes, and this first part/season ends on a cliffhanger when it starts getting good.

Then there’s the okay but kinda questionable choice of artstyle, going for a fairly good 3D CG that sadly doesn’t feel THAT much improved upon, 11 years after the same animation studio (Sola Digital Arts) curated Applesee Alpha in similar fashion.

[EXPRESSO] The Privilege (2022) | Frozen Daiquiri Horror Of The Chosen

More german teen horror movies via Netflix, this time with The Privilege.

A rich teen and his fittingly rich private school classmates uncover a conspiracy while investigating a series of supernatural elements.

What conspiracy, you may ask? Cannibals? Cultists sacrificing students to Nyarlatothep? Me trying to distract you from the obvious social commentary a horror movie with this title is going for?

Worry not, the movie itself will confuse you quite enough, as it’s admittely bonkers and ambitious, but not in a good way, as it throws too many sub-plots and ideas into the script, resulting in a hodgepotche that’s simply WAY too ambitious for its own good, all made worse by desperate attempts at jumpscares and shallow teen characters.

Demons, parasitic fungi, seances, creepy laboratories with corpse cultures, rites, hauntings, the movie has them all, even if leads to congestion more than fun.

It’s not bad or boring, there are some cool ideas, and it’s kinda unpredictable, but that’s also because there too much on the plate and no focus, so the movie shifts from supernatural horror to psychological thriller and even to science fiction horror, and you keep wondering how the hell this all connects together until the very end… which you will still wonder about, as the clearly rushed finale leads to the “please franchise” cliffhanger, for a movie that otherwise feel quite longer than it actually is, just isn’t scary enough and baffles more than entertains.

I don’t think it’s outright crap, but i will admit i really, really struggled to get all the way to the end of The Privilege, more frustrated and annoyed than spooked or creeped out, a real shame since its well shot, there are some good gore effects, some interesting moments and the german cast it’s quite good.

A real pity.

[EXPRESSO] El Paramo (2022) | Thy Patience Consumed

Some really fresh (as in “new”) Netflix content for me and you, El Paramo is set in 19th centhury Spain, where a family living in a remote house is haunted by an entity that feeds on their terror, and it falls upon the young boy Diego to save his mother from the entity… and herself.

…. or so this is premise as Netflix puts in the description. A correct synopsis that doesn’t spoil the experience, i’m not harping on that, i just prefer to describe this movie as “mother simulator”, since the mother not only has to suffer her husband basically disappearing and never coming back most likely due to the wars happening outside their isolated refuge, having to defend herself from a supernatural beast that she thought was just a legend, but also having to put up with her son, one of the most annoying and dumbass child character i’ve seen in a recent horror film.

Stupid, grating and spineless too, just in case the kid wasn’t annoying enough to deal with, even though it eventually leads to his character arc going where you would expect…but until the last act he doesn’t come off as the more sane and kind character he actually is, but as cowardly dumbass that almost makes this movie an accidental “anti-Babadook”, as for most of it i was rooting for the mother to get rid of both “annoyances”, not only the monster, and have some peace.

That said, let me stress that the movie it’s not bad, the setting it’s pretty good, the cinematography it’s also quite nice, the creature’s lore and design are spooky enough and played fairly decently for tension instead of jumpscares, and there are some atmospheric moments, but there’s just not much to it and overall it’s mostly average.

What is Christmas without an Ice Cream Bunny?

Think watching The Star Wars Holiday Special each year it’s not the hipster “christmas tradition” it was before? If so, i will propose something that’s also not new, as it has a cult following, but very very smaller in comparison, since it doesn’t have the Star Wars branding.

Santa and The Ice Cream Bunny.

If this didn’t trigger a PTSD-like reaction, i’m here to share my cursed knowledge upon you, because in a way this fits the Christmas period, and its deranged insanity.

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The Spooktacular Eight #2: The Slayer (1982)

I did promise i would cover more Arrow Video releases.

I didn’t specify or pointed out that they also re-released a lot of slasher flicks, so we’re not talking about the works of Park Chan-wook, Miike or Buttgereit, not today.

Today we’re talking about one of the many cult slashers from the 80s (really, what slasher from that era ISN’T a cult sensation today?), The Slayer, the debut feature from genre director J.S. Cardone, and yet another one for the “video nasty” list, which in retrospect helped these movies gain more notoriety than they ever could wish for, so yeah, good one Thatcher and co.

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American McGee’s Alice PS3 [REVIEW] | The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

Oh yes, American Mc Gee’s most well known work, his take on Lewis Carrol’s Alice.

The story is not really that original in retrospect, it’s the usual “let’s give fairy tales an edgy reinterpretation with a grim, depressing tone” applied to Alice In Wonderland, so here Alice is Alice Lindell, a british orphan that by chance survived the house fire that took away her family at the age of 10 (or something), and was basically raised in an asylum, mostly likely treated to a Richard O’ Brian-less brand shock therapy as well.

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Shrooms (2007) [REVIEW] Trip Like I Do

Ah yes, the “weed slasher” subgenre. Which doesn’t exist… ok it does, but i’m not reviewing the Evil Bong movies. Just. No. Please no.

But cutting out the avalanche of Full Moon crap means there’s very little choice, and i did pick this movie called Shrooms up for 3 bucks on DVD while thrifting years ago, so yeah, it will do fine.

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