Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ghost Hunt: Paranormal Encounter At Burlington County Prison

A group of amateur ghost hunters investigates supposed paranormal activity at New Jersey's Burlington County Prison in this documentary reminiscent of Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. Although they admit from the beginning of the film that they are neither professional paranormal investigators nor parapsychologists, Ghost Hunt: Paranormal Encounter At Burlington County Prison resembles pretty much every other ghost program, as they use infrared cameras, EMF detectors, and digital recorders to document supposed paranormal activity. An affable crew and prison museum caretakers recount a sordid past, which is standard in paranormal programs, and doesn't really allow Ghost Hunt: Paranormal Encounter At Burlington County Prison to stand out amongst its competitors. There's an intriguing, unexplained light anomaly and a threatening EVP, but Ghost Hunt: Paranormal Encounter At Burlington County Prison is marred by excessive downtime, which leadens the pace, murky camerawork, and its fair share of inconclusive evidence.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Da Vinci's Darkest Secret

The tenuous connections between the Holy Grail, the Merovingians, the film The Matrix, and about a thousand other things is examined in exhaustive detail in this dull, convoluted, speculative documentary. After a lengthy drum solo which is totally fine, the film starts as if the narrator was in mid-thought. Amidst footage of sunsets and the sound of indistinct whispering, various historical etymologies are discussed at length, and Leonardo Da Vinci is barely even brought up. Bulls and snakes are mentioned quite a bit, and the film meanders about before pulling a Gotcha moment at the very end and telling the viewer *spoiler alert* the whole Da Vinci-Holy Grail-Merovingian-Matrix-connection thing was in your imagination. I'm going to let you in on a secret: Da Vinci's Darkest Secret is very, very boring and probably somewhat disappointing to conspiracy theorists.

The Vampire's Coffin

A vampire is accidentally awakened from his probably-not-made-from-real-stone crypt in this atmospheric Mexican horror film. Featuring misty cemeteries, lengthy shadows, barren trees, dramatic lighting, a crypt-like wax museum, a nearly empty hospital of some sort, and bats dangling from visible strings, a not-particularly-threatening vampire is unleashed after a thief removes the stake through his heart while trying to steal a very-important-to-the-plot medallion, and then there's two lackluster dance sequences. In spite of its low-budget, The Vampire's Coffin makes the most of lighting and atmosphere, and I was particularly impressed by the scene as the vampire is stalking a woman walking down a street, his cape billowing dramatically, as the lights cause his shadow to grow to enormous size, nearly engulfing her. The Vampire's Coffin is highly recommended if you like stuff that's kind of lousy.

Alien Encounter At Loch Ness

A story of an alien encounter with the Loch Ness Monster is recounted very briefly in this dull speculative documentary. Featuring lengthy sped-up nausea-cam footage of the loch from a motorboat, lengthy close-ups of handmade rock figurines of Nessie, interviews with eyewitnesses, and footage of sea turtles, jellyfish, cuttlefish, and moray eels (which I don't believe are native to Loch Ness, but whatever), there's very little footage of Nessie herself. Instead, the filmmakers discuss some of the more infamous footage of Nessie without showing any of it, and then spend several minutes interviewing crew members of a loch cruise ship with some really dodgy hand-held camerawork. Suddenly, an anonymous 'high-level' scientist is interviewed about the one time he sighted both a UFO and the Loch Ness Monster, but it's very brief and takes place during the last few minutes of the film.

Zombie Werewolves Attack!

Zombie werewolves attack partiers in Canada in this dialogue-heavy, slow-moving horror film, and by "partiers" I really mean "stoners sitting around playing video games" and by "zombie werewolves" I really mean "regular werewolves wearing bad werewolf masks".

The film opens as a man and woman battle werewolves on some playground equipment, but it turns out to only be a poorly mic'd dream sequence. Suddenly, some poorly recorded wind blows through the trees as a guy runs over another guy in his car. Then there's a very lengthy and tedious party where people explore their feelings and get high on a terrible couch for like forever, and then someone eats a bagel. Suddenly, werewolves attack again, but it isn't very interesting, but what is vaguely interesting for a minute is the distracting smudge on the camera lens.

Did you know that they sell ketchup flavored potato chips in Canada? Neither did I, but it sounds revolting.

Speaking of chips, I recently had a chance to try Cheeseburger Flavored Pringles. I had no idea such a thing existed, either.

Being a vegetarian and a vehement avoider of McDonald's, I haven't had a McDonald's cheeseburger in years. These chips taste nearly exactly like what I remember a McDonald's cheeseburger to taste like. It's the weirdest thing. Slightly cheesy, slightly ketchupy, slightly pickley, slightly smoky, I enjoyed them, though I'm not much of a chip eater. I have a tendency to binge on them, and it's best I'm not around them. In fact, as I've been writing this, I've gone back to the kitchen 3 times for more chips. I'm about to throw them out the window.

Anyway, after the werwolf attack, the survivors flee for the supermarket where the parking lot is littered with severed body parts, and by "littered" I really mean "there's an arm and a foot and the reflection of the cameraman in the supermarket's windows". Suddenly, there's another dream sequence. It isn't very interesting, although an attempt has been made to have the footage look like old scratchy film, and I don't know about you, but very few of my dreams look that way, although they probably should. Suddenly, a completely different guy starts killing werewolves with a silver axe amidst some dodgy editing, then the cast discusses time zones in the refrigerator case near the bottled iced tea, and then they start discussing Constantinople near the dried spaghetti.

Suddenly, there's a terrific battle against the increasing swarm of werewolves, and by "terrific" I really mean "the werewolves desperately try to hold their terrible werewolves masks on", and then the movie ends, and not a moment too soon. Talky, boring, and featuring very few zombies of any variety, Zombie Werewolves Attack! has one thing going for it, and that's its 70 minute runtime.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Dead Crossroads

A survival expert and a paranormal investigator spend the night in France's most haunted houses in this French TV series. Well-shot, with eerie images of the dark and dangerous interiors of crumbling, abandoned mansions, Dead Crossroads is very addictive, as episodes are only 15 minutes long. Functioning more as a show about illegal urban exploration, a few of the early episodes nothing paranormal seems to happen. Often the explorers have to deal with the living more than ghosts, where they sometimes have to hide from cops and prowlers.

The spooky stories combined with urban exploration makes an intriguing mix, which sets Dead Crossroads slightly apart from other paranormal shows. They use no technological tools like digital recorders or EMF detectors, it's just two dudes climbing through broken windows or trying not to fall through rotting floorboards. However, the program seems to be a mix of real footage enhanced with CGI-created special effects.

Yeti: The Last Witnesses

Utilizing interviews, drawings, and animations, this Russian documentary attempts to explain the many varied difficulties in locating a Yeti, postulating that it is due to the Yeti being capable of invisibility, mental telepathy, hypnosis, being able to stop time, whistling, riding in UFOs, giving people hangovers, and changing into stones or girls or trees or cats, none of which seems particularly likely. Thankfully, Yeti: The Last Witnesses is fairly brief, which is probably the only real positive I can think of for watching it other than unintentional LULZ.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to find a trailer, but the film is available to view on Amazon Prime.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


A shark/UFO hybrid creature terrorizes Seattle or Bulgaria in this made-for-TV sci-fi film. After a tiny, unconvincingly animated UFO is eaten by an unconvincingly animated shark, it turns into an unconvincingly animated roboshark, and uses its whirling mechanical teeth to eat into the side of a submarine for some reason.

OK, I'm going to have to stop this review right here, because I already wrote in my notes for this film the phrase "<what's the point?>" with brackets and everything, because I was either giving up on life because of this film, or I could already tell that there were going to be gigantic plot holes that won't be satisfactorily explained, like why a UFO would come to Earth to be swallowed by a shark, because that seems like a really pointless way to take on the US Navy, but I'm pretty sure I just gave up on life.

Anyway, Roboshark heads to Seattle, and a military general makes the prescient observation that it was heading to Seattle because of Starbucks and Nirvana, because I've often noticed that Robosharks really like terrible corporate coffee and 90s grunge.

Then Roboshark eats a plane and goes viral, because I find that interplanetary travelers are often concerned about earthly click-through rates.

Suddenly, a barista gets a face-full of steam as Roboshark tunnels through the Earth and destroys a non-Starbucks coffeeshop, and a Go-Pro-clad bicycler gets eaten by Roboshark as he Wilhelm Screams.

A news weathergirl sent on assignment to do a spot on snow sees the whole ridiculous event, so she steals the news van and takes an unconvincingly green-screened trip to a waste treatment plant where Roboshark leaps out of the solids tank. Roboshark then heads for the mall, which is filled with suspicious stores named Authentic, More And More, and Home, and it destroys the mall as the military checks the mall map for Roboshark's location and as they shoot amidst unconvincingly fleeing bystanders. The mall Roboshark attack footage is uploaded to social media while a generic pop-rock soundtrack plays during a regular-people-internetting montage, and everyone retweets and likes it because I guess people will click on just about anything. Then an admiral crushes a can of energy drink in a threatening manner.

Suddenly, Bill Gates shows up, and someone mentions the phrase THX-1138. I'm not sure why.

Then Bill Gates is eaten by Roboshark, but not before he utters the phrase, "It's full of stars". Why did he say that? Unknown.

Then someone says, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few". I'm not sure why.

Then Roboshark gets a smiley face emoji on the internet, and it becomes a friendly Roboshark. I'm not sure why. Then Roboshark phones home.

Then the movie ends, and not a moment too soon.

Roboshark was pretty terrible, but I enjoyed the multiple film references. Unfortunately, I'm still not entirely sure what the point of the film was. Roboshark is mildly recommended if you like stuff that sucks or references to other, better movies not involving sharks.

James Batman

Batman, Robin, and some guy named James battle a vaguely communist threat from the nefarious CLAW organization in this Batman film from the Philippines. After a few moments of stock atomic bomb and post-typhoon footage, the leader of CLAW shoots gun-disabling finger beams at a guy and then disappears in a puff of smoke. Meanwhile in the Batcave, Batman and Robin smoke and drink coffee while discussing the possibility of meeting some chicks. Then Batman slides down the Batpole and eats rice from a briefcase and garnishes it with olives from his utility belt. He whips out his telescopic Batfork/Batcommunicator (which is an invention that's well overdue) and wipes his food-covered hands on Robin's cape.

Batman and Robin take a ride in their enormous Batmobile while the James Bond theme plays for some reason. Don't tell me it has something to do with this movie being a weird James Bond/Batman hybrid, because I refuse to believe it due to a plaid fedora, and if you haven't noticed, blatantly misunderstanding key elements of a film are kind of my thing. After being attacked by machine gun fire and threatened with a bomb, the Not-Exactly Dynamic Duo disappears in a puff of smoke and then fisticuffs ensue, but I'm unsure where all the guys with machine guns disappear to. Robin gets a beatdown, and then everyone discovers why capes aren't especially effective during hand-to-hand combat with members of an evil syndicate, because capes nearly always get wrapped around the heroes' heads as they escape. In a revealing sequence, Robin removes Batman's tights while they're dangling from a building, and it's revealed that Batman wears tighty-whiteys. During another dramatic escape sequence because it kind of seems like Batman and Robin spend most of their time escaping from stuff, the Batmobile squirts oil on the road and sets it alight, and Robin puts a lightbulb in his mouth and Batman calls him a freak.

Suddenly, James is involved in a gross, overly-plaid love sequence in extreme, blurry close-up, and it doesn't seem to involve Batman and Robin at all, for some reason. In an extended Batman-free sequence, a woman is punched in the crotch and someone else's pants smoke. I'm not sure why.

Suddenly, Joker, Penguin, and Catwoman sort of appear, but I'm not sure if the film-makers completely understand who these characters are, because Catwoman is called something else entirely even though it's pretty obvious she's supposed to be Catwoman, and Joker looks a little like he's in the Velvet Underground, and by "a little" I really mean "someone should hand him guitar because he's already wearing the cool shades".

Then someone crawls around underneath a palm frond.

Suddenly, Batman and Robin show up amidst a cool jazz soundtrack, and then a chick asks Batman out to dinner. Masked chicks with machine guns chase another chick wearing a bathing suit, and I don't really have anything negative to say about that. Then Batman, Robin, James, the bathing suit chick, and her mom and dad are captured by the machine gun chicks. The leader of CLAW blah-blah-blahs for nearly forever, then one of the masked chicks gets vaporized by a giant, metallic claw statue.

Suddenly, Johnny comes to the rescue! Who's that? I don't know. But it results in a lengthy fight sequence involving James, Johnny, Catwoman, Joker, and Penguin in some sort of factory. I'm not sure why. Then Robin inexplicably uses a gun, and then the movie ends and not a moment too soon.

Considering how little Batman and Robin actually appear in James Batman, it surprisingly has more Batman and Robin action than actual Batman movies, so go figure. James Batman is recommended if you like stuff that sucks.