The Black Cat – Rating 3.5 out of 5

Part of the Master of Horror series The Black Cat is based on the short story by Edgar Allen Poe. The story unfolds as we find Poe in a desperate situation of poverty with his wife suffering from consumption. In order to deal with his predicament Poe takes to drink. He uses the meager wages he makes from a magazine to supply his bottles of alcohol. And while intoxicated he goes into fits of rage and takes out his aggressions on the canary and on the cat. The cat meets its end within his violent grasp and the cat takes a pen quill to the eye.

This is an interesting tale in that it takes the Black Cat story and weaves it together with the circumstances under which Poe wrote it. He’s broke and desperate. His wife is dying and he can’t afford the doctor. As she slips away due to her illness, Poe delves deeper into his bottle. Desperate to make some money he tries to craft a sensational story for the magazine, one which will thrill the audience and bring him fame and reward.

As he tries to work while his wife coughs and spews blood in the next room, every noise and distraction seems like a nail in her coffin. The canary and its cheery chirp is the first to go. The cat with its stare gets dealt with soon after.

The eye removal is only the start and Poe tracks down the cat to finish the job. He chases it down into the basement and using an axe, does his best to send it to the hereafter. His wife hears the raucous and comes to investigate and of course stop him. She gets in the way and gets an axe to the head. Poe then goes with the quick cover up by putting her in the wall and daring the police to find her.

The movie is shot in quasi black and white which gives it an old style feel. The alcohol fueled delusions of Poe, his wild yelling and bizarre behavior add to the mix. A well shot and well acted piece gives us a glimpse into the dark life of Poe while one of his more famous stories comes to life around him. We get some gruesome shots of Poe removing the eye of the cat of the axe crushing his wife’s skull. It all blends together in a creepy and atmospheric tale of a man’s decline into madness as he watches his wife die right in front of him.

Well worth watching just as a short piece and especially if you’re a fan of Poe. Good stuff and on sale at BestBuy for $4.99. Definitely worth that price!

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Flatliners – Rating 4 out of 5

This is still one of my favorite movies even after all these years. Five medical students get drawn into trying to find the answers to life after death. Instead of trying to create life, they try to induce death and go “exploring”. As each one goes into the hereafter they are confronted with their demons that seem to manifest themselves in the present. They must face and conquer their demons before they’re destroyed by them.

Despite Julia Roberts being in this movie, I love it. It as comedic elements, suspense, great atmosphere and a story that makes you wonder. Kiefer Sutherland is intense and driven by his own ego. Kevin Bacon is driven and obsessed with helping. Roberts is caught up in the ghosts of her own troubled past. Stephen Baldwin has his own commitment demons to tend to and Platt is the designated driver on this one and adds the excitement of being the guy who is caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. “I did not come to medical school to kill my classmates!”

Flatliners works because it deals with the question of life after death. It deals with the idea that our past defines who we are. And we also have the notion of what if we were to die with a heart full of regret. Would we be at piece?

It’s an exciting movie that keeps the action and suspense moving. It instills real fear with dark settings, the unnerving stories and the fact that things keep happening in the present. The characters are truly scared and they show it. When Billy Mahoney comes calling you see Kiefer crap his pants as he gets the snot beat out of him.

The soliloquy at the end by Labraccio (Bacon) is a little over done with the whole stepping on Gods territory rantings, but the rest of the movie is great and I’ve watch this one a dozen times so far and still like. Plus it’s also amusing that the height of the movie kicks in on Halloween night as a part rages on outside.

Moody and suspenseful this is still a good story.

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The Number 23 – Rating 2.3 out of 5

This movie was nowhere near as bad I had lead to believe. Jim Carrey pulls off the roll of the Animal Control Officer with an offbeat sense of humor just fine. The problem with the movie is the script. The movie is narrated by Carrey who is reading the book “The Number 23” and informing us of all the 23s there are in the world and how the number is everywhere and how you can do mad by seeking them all out. Wow, scary stuff!

The movie starts off like some old detective novel mixed with heavy sarcasm and dark comedy overtones. His voice is flat and deadpan, which works great, except nothing about the subject matter or the Number 23 ever feels threatening.

There is no tension is this movie whatsoever. There is no sense of fear, or dread or anticipation. The movie is dull and lifeless and while Carrey is going crazy and obsessive over the 23 we’re all sitting there wondering why. We sit there like his wife asking, “What the hell is the big deal?”

Try as it might to install a fear of numerology and symbolism, this movie goes nowhere. What could have been a surprise ending was merely interesting since there was no lead up to it.

A few slashes with the knife and a couple of sex scenes are about the only scary things in this. Who wants to see Carrey’s ass? No offense Jimmy.

The failed plot was the death of this movie, not Carrey in a serious role. He probably could have pulled of Amityville without too much trouble or something else with a tangible plot.

It’s good to see the dark side of Carrey, but this movie didn’t let him grow. I’d like to see him take on another darker role, but something with more meat and something that makes more sense.

Sadly this movie has already hit the bargain bin due to its numerous flaws… It’s worth a rental, but don’t expect much.

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Count Dracula – BBC Mini-Series – Rating 3.5 out of 5

Count Dracula – BBC Mini-Series – Rating 3.5 out of 5

“For those familiar with Bram Stoker’s novel, this adaptation follows the book quite closely in most respects. Jonathan Harker visits the Count in Transylvania to help him with preparations to move to England. Harker becomes Dracula’s prisoner and discovers Dracula’s true nature. After Dracula makes his way to England, Harker becomes involved in an effort to track down and destroy the Count, eventually chasing the vampire back to his castle.”

A remake of the old classic that is indeed much longer than the original (150 minutes) and stays with the low budget end of movie making. I hadn’t heard of this version before, but it was just released on DVD recently so I had to check it out. There are more editions of Dracula out there than you can plunge a stake into, but this one is worth looking into.

There is a lot more revealed in this version of Dracula. First off though, you have to put aside some of the 70’s elements that go into this movie. Some of the hair and speech is a little off, and some of the editing looks a little off (scenes look like they were re-shot and stitched together even though the lighting isn’t the same), but overall this is a decent rework of the story. Delving much more into the story of Dracula we see Mr. Harker fall victim to Dracula, but we see more of what happens and how he tries to make his escape, how he writes the letters at the behest of Dracula and how Dracula uses his wives to seduce him.

We also see more of why Dracula has to move away from Transylvania, he’s drained the herd. He’s taken so much from the village that there is nothing for him to survive on and he is off to England for a more fertile hunting ground.

I like this version because of the low budget quality, it works with the story and tries to build the characters. There weren’t many special effects for the time and the movie is the better for it.

We see more in the way of tracking down Dracula and dealing with him and more story is revealed. Definitely worth watching to get a better rendition of this often told tale. Special effects nuts and gore fans won’t like this on, but those who want a good story will find plenty here to like.

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