[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] Choose Or Die (2022) | Curse Text Adventure

It was just a matter of time before we got a movie like Choose Or Die, not only due to the rising prominence of videogames in popular culture, but also as a byproduct of the various legends like the Polybius one, and inadvertly of the metacurrent, as i got whiffs of an hypothetical Pony Island X Jumanji reboot crossover (plus references to the Waterworld Atari contest and the likes) from this.

Plus, it has Robert Englund in it. Always nice to see, regardless of the movie.

The plot sees two friends booting up an old 80s videogame, intrigued by the fact there was a competition with money on the line, but nobody ever claim the rewards in the following decades.

To their dismay, they actually enter the game, Curs<r, and will have to survive the surreal world laying before their eyes, as the game it’s actually, literally cursed, and can alter reality with destructive, immediate effect, forcing the player to make horrible binary choices.

It’s a simple premise but it’s novel enough, and the execution it’s surprisingly good, the direction is confindent has quite the bite, taking advantage of the premise (in this case the videogame elements) in a straightforward but also quite interesting and satisfying manner, leading to some really grisly (yet not over the top in terms of graphical violence) setpieces that show off some style to boot.

The likeable characters (especially the main protagonist), and compact runtime round up the package, making Choose Or Die a very nice surprise, overall, especially for Netflix’s often lacking offerings in terms of horror films.

It’s nothing special or deep, and maybe it was a bit longer it could have actually explored in any depth some of its themes, but regardless, a solid, fun, fresh teen horror romp with some pizzaz.

Resurrection (1999) [REVIEW] | In Lambert We Trust

You might or might not celebrate the upcoming festivity, be indifferent, but in the spirit of the holiday, let’s take a break of sorts and on this today go away from the non-budgets or the endless parade of director-actor-producer-writer one-man homegrown created film featuring either a giant or man-sized rabbity thing (NOT of Purcellian’s descent) going around killing people.

We already “did” Beaster Day/ The Beaster Bunny, and i will have that as a representative of the “ rabbit horror movies” subgenre, with 90 % of these belonging to the “no budget” category and often more than not just being more about rabbits than Easter, see for example the previously covered Bunnyman trilogy, which at least doesn’t pretend to be themed around the holiday (as it isn’t).

So instead we’ll talk about the 1999 crime thriller Resurrection, about a detective (played by Christopher Lambert) and his partner (Leland Orser) hunting down a serial killer emerging in the weeks preceding Easter, with the blasphemous plan of creating a new Jesus Christ by sawing together body parts taken from his victims, carefully selected by following the canon, literally.

I’m honestly surprised how – aside from the tired zombie jokes – there’s barely anything in terms of actual horror movies using a similar or the same macabre idea of “my very own flesh boy, JC”, or the theme of resurrection that’s the main point and what this holiday celebrates/it’s about.

And for a nice festive surprise, it’s actually a pretty decent detective thriller, and a solid film overall, the horror element is strong, the idea of the “DIY messiah” is quite grisly and unsettling, with some good gore effects, and yes, you get to see the final frankensteined flesh conscruct, quite the thing.

Sure, it ain’t too original in terms of characters (and the flashback of the incident involving the main detective’s son it’s so trite that becomes unintentionally kinda funny, given how cheesy it is), but it’s well acted, it has a recognizable cast with great actors, even David Cronenberg acting as the red herring creepish pastor, and Russell Mulcahy’s direction (with this movie marking his continuining collaboration with Lambert after the first two Highlander movies) it’s fairly gripping, hitting all the expected beats of the detective thriller flick, with the fake outs, the religiously obsessive serial killer leaving fittingly themed Bible references on the victims, supported by the great cinematography of Jonathan Freeman and decent dialogues with a few memorable quotes.

It’s no masterpiece, but it’s a really robust offering, definitely in the decent-to-good tier of detective thrillers, it has a very young looking Christopher Lambert in it, and to seal the deal, it’s most likely streaming on Amazon Prime Video in your neck of the woods too, so if you like the premise and-or don’t want to bother with crappy Easter themed horror movies, this is an easy recommendation.

I don’t have much to say about this, in all honesty, but in this case i’d say it’s a good sign, and i’m not gonna inflate this review for the sake of it.

[EXPRESSO] Morbius (2022) | Dr. Acula, MD

The “Sony” side of the Marvel movies now moves from fairly popular and well know Venom to a lot more obscure one, Morbius. General audiences sure aren’t familiar with him, myself i barely know of him as a saw a high quality collectable statue as an upcoming item years ago.

Which is good, makes sense to make movie about lesser known characters from the huge roster of Marvel’s back catalogue (with beloved popular actor Jared Leto in the lead to also ensure huge turn-out) and this one if nothing else follows the trail of the two Venom movies, as in it’s an anti-hero, the doctor Michael Morbius, plagued by a rare blood disease and wanting to save everyone with his illness, Morbius takes a desperate gamble in a remote cave with bats.

What seems to be the long awaited cure turns out to be also a curse, as he start developing a craving for human blood and powers akin to a vampire bat.

If Venom was a reminder that superheroes movies could be sketchy but still entertain despite having a lot of problems, Morbius it’s a throwback to the early to mid-2000s era of the genre, as in, despite a lot of money in effects and a fun premise, they often turned out irremediably boring as shit, lifeless despite the fantastical elements, and a pile of hot garbage overall.

Formulaic, tiresome, boring everything, from plot to characters to themes, even the shitty fights way too overreliant on FXs (complete with an underwhelming final confrontation), Morbius has it all, takes itself seriously, and sequelbaits hard to boot.

You don’t always need to be good or perfect, but when everything it’s so shoddy, trite and not very interesting, at least you could be entertaining.

This is sadly just boring garbage. Pity. 😦

Shikari (1963) [REVIEW] | Circus Cyclops Bollywood

Meant to get around this one last year, but this time i did manage to find a way to watch it with subtitle, as i don’t speak hindi, and what could be called “the Indian King Kong” – to no one’s surprise – was never dubbed or re-released westward. Still easier to find than the dreaded Bacalhau.

Yep, among the many King Kong knock-off, there’s an old Bollywood (kinda) version from 1963.

Gotta love the shit-not giving use of stock footage “ice skating ballet girls, chimps & clown” that a crowd in India it’s supposedly watching, sure it has a dissonant color that makes it more even obvious, but who cares. And it’s not just 1 minute or two of stock footage from a non-indian ice skating show, when the head of the circus and the sponsor set down to see it in order to understand why it’s supposedly taking away business from them… you’re gonna see a good chunk of the show.

Well, at least we start the movie with some ape action, but not of that kind.

Continua a leggere “Shikari (1963) [REVIEW] | Circus Cyclops Bollywood”

Where the on-rail shooter compilations at?

(A review of Mamoru Hosoda’s Belle is coming VERY soon, btw)

As the remake of the first House Of The Dead game is set to release soon on Switch (as a retail packaged release too), i’ve just realized how incredibly really no company before Sega with this remake has tried to bring on-rail shooters to the only current-gen (kinda) popular console that still retains Wii style pointers controls via the Joycons.

Given how the nostalgia market will only grow even larger in time, i’m surprised Namco didn’t dig from its huge backcatalog and pushed out a Point Blank or Time Crisis collection, or made compilations of some of the many others games of this kind that only existed as arcade cabinets.

I named Namco, but heck, even Konami and Sega were quite prolific back in the day, though Konami nowadays it’s better when they just licensed compilations-ports of their older titles to people who care (like Digital Eclipse, also handling the recently announced TMNT Cowabunga Collection), and Sega quite likely simply doesn’t care.

Continua a leggere “Where the on-rail shooter compilations at?”

Agon The Atomic Dragon AKA Giant Phantom Monster Agon (1968-1990s) [REVIEW] Uranium Chorogon

Digging deeper into the kaiju crevices, we find a lot of minor monster flicks from the “monster factory of Nippon”, Toho, in this case being a mini-series made of 4 episodes and with a confusing release history, as it was completed in 1964, but wasn’t broadcasted on Fuji TV until 1968, after Toho realized the project involved two of their own talents, with Fuminori Ohashi (Tsuburaya’s special effects apprentice) and writer Shinichi Sekizawa, already proven for penning other kaiju classics such as Mothra, Mothra Vs Godzilla and Godzilla VS Mechagodzilla (the 1974 one), and the company was convinced that Agon didn’t directly step on the nuclear toes of their monster star.

I said a confusing release history because in mid 90s the episodes were recompiled into a feature lenght film and distributed internationally onn VHS as Agon: Atomic Dragon… and i can’t find any source that actually pinpoints when exactly it was released in the 90s, Letterboxd instead says it was in the 80s, and there’s also a japanese DVD release in 2005 by King Records.

Thankfully is not hard to find in any form, as the english subbed episodes can be found on Youtube, and you might stumble upon fansubbed releases of the feature lenght compilation version.

Continua a leggere “Agon The Atomic Dragon AKA Giant Phantom Monster Agon (1968-1990s) [REVIEW] Uranium Chorogon”

The Giant Claw (1957) [REVIEW] | Battleship Buzzard

You know we had to do this one eventually, as The Giant Claw’s titular monster is the stuff of b-movie legends, for hilarious reasons etching the movie in the history of monster movies with one of the most laughable creatures ever conceived and built.

And if you never saw it before, it was eventually released in the Cold War Creatures boxset by Arrow Video, alongside three other Sam Katzman produced films, The Werewolf, Creature With The Atom Brain, and Zombies Of Mora Tau.

A pretty good boxset that in the case of The Giant Claw contains extras such as a video essay by Mike White on Sam Katzman’s output and the theme of Cold War paranoia in his produced movies, alongside a theatherical trailer, the usual photo gallery and a condensed 8mm version of the movie.

Continua a leggere “The Giant Claw (1957) [REVIEW] | Battleship Buzzard”

[EXPRESSO] Occhiali Neri/Dark Glasses (2022) | A Knife For The (Blind) Ladies

You know, this movie just existing should be reason enough to celebrate for many invested in horror movies and adiacent cinema grounds, i mean, a new movie from Dario Argento, and one that sounds like a throwback to old giallo thriller-horrors…. sounds promising, doesn’t it?

At least it does if you’re thinking of Suspiria’s Dario Argento, not the one who cursed us with the abysmal shlockfest of Dracula 3D back in 2012, i remember distinctly that one and will always bring it up as a testament that sometimes, yes, you can lose the “touch” (or the “power”) in a dramatically disastrous and disheartening fashion that shits on your entire legacy.

So yeah, i didn’t set myself for unwarranted expectations of competency… and sadly i was right.

Set in a solar eclipsed Rome, the plot of Dark Glasses see a young escort named Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli) being stalked by a serial killer, leading to a tragic car crash which makes her blind and with vague memories of the incident, and also makes orphan a young chinese boy called Chin (Xinyu Zhang). Diana receives help, a guide dog, and tries to make amends to Chin, but the serial killer comes back to finish the job….

I’ll say this: where Dracula 3D was the depressing kind of bad, Dark Glasses is so bad it’s actually laughable, with the trifecta of main characters where the best acting is actually provided by the seeing-eye dog (i’m not kidding, some unbelievably bad acting, especially from the lead actress), a formulaic and ridiculous script filled with embarassing dialogues, questionable editing, and a fuckton of not giving a shit.

Also the old-school practical gore effects by Argento’s regular Sergio Stivaletti are fun, it’s short and the soundtrack genuinely slaps.

Still crap, but better than Dracula 3D, at least.

[EXPRESSO] Seance (2021) | Spooky Slashing Schoolgirls

Late February isn’t exactly the usual “dumping ground” in terms of releasing horror movies that actually came out last year in most english speaking market, but whatever, i’m game.

Didn’t exactly heard much about this one besides being kinda ok… and i’m not gonna tell you it’s this underrated gem mistreated by a cruel and fickle press. I just can’t.

Set in an elite women’s college, Seance tells of the new enlisted student, Camille, able to join after the mysterious death of a student named Kerrie, following a prank at her expenses to try and scare her with the legend of the ghost of Eveldyne, a female student who killed herself there decades ago.

The newcomer gets herself and some of her bitchy asshole classmates in detention by standing up to their bullshit, but they do get spooked and intrigued when they try to make a seance to contact Kerrie… and it seems to work, but things soon get worse as the girls are stalked and killed like flies by someone or something …

Yeah, it’s teen slasher…. a very middling one at that.

It’s not that bad as a first time directing piece by Simon Barrett, who previously produced and penned horror movies such as Frankenfish, You’Re Next, 2016’s Blair Witch… and 2017’s Temple.

Sure, it’s pretty obvious who the culprit is, most of the kills leading to the reveal are very limp…. but it’s short, it redeems itself enough in the final act in terms of both gore and entertainment, helped by a good cast, decent acting and solid production values.

Thought it’s really predictable, and it’s basically the director hodgepotching horror cliches more to see what sticks than using them in service of a precise vision or tone, making for a watchable but forgettable and throwaway flick.