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Dragonslayer (1981) – To This Day, Still One Of My Favourite Movie Dragon Designs

DragonslayerPoster1981’s movie, Dragonslayer, blew my twelve year old mind when I fist sat through this movie with my good friend, Robin. Now, 23 years later, I am still liking this movie.

Staring Peter MacNicol (better known to some as the short, curly haired lawyer, John Cage, from the TV show Ally McBeal), as Galen Bradwarden, a young apprentice of the Wizard, Ulrich of Craggenmoor (Ralph Richardson), who takes up the Wizard’s quest to slay the Dragon, Vermithrax Pejorative, after Ulrich is apparently killed while proving a point by brutish henchman Tyrian, right hand of King Casiodorus (Peter Eyre). Ulrich had just accepted the task of killing the Dragon when a delegation of peasants approached him asking for his help. Kind Casiodorus had implemented a lottery, offering up a female virgin each year to appease the beast. The people have had enough of the Lottery and living under the fear of the Dragon, and are at their wits end. Now seeing their hopes die almost immediately, with the death of Ulrich, they head back to their town. Soon, though, they are joined by Galen, who has just inherited the Wizard’s magic amulet, who states that he will take up his former Master’s task and slay the Dragon himself. Along the way he risks strong resistance from the King, who believes his lottery system is best for his people, and is temporarily jailed so as not to meddle with the lottery. It’s not until the King’s own daughter is in jeopardy that the King releases Galen in the hopes Galen can actually end the Dragon menace. Along the journey, Galen discovers one of their party is not what they seem (no, not a traitor)…

So, this early 190’s fantasy film still looks beautiful (not something that most movies with special effects from that era can say), and is still interesting. As stated in the title of the review/write up, the Dragon in this movie is still one of my favourite designs of a Dragon in movies, ever. Maybe it’s second to Smaug, now, though I’ll decide that after the third and final Hobbit movie. Still, this movie, in my opinion, still hold up well. I heartily suggest this as a must watch for any fan of the Fantasy genre.

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Vampire Week Movie 5 – Shadow of the Vampire (2000)–The Troubles of Casting a Vampire – In Your Vampire Movie

ShadowoftheVampireposterSet during the shooting of the iconic 1922 Vampire film, Nosferatu, Shadow of the Vampire tells the tale of the dangers that can face you when you look for too much realism in your films. Staring John Malkovich as famous German Director, Frederich Wilhelm Murnau, during his filming of the above mentioned Nosferatu. Taking his cast and crew to film on location in Czechoslovakia, where he instroduces the rest of the crew to the star of the film, Max Schreck, whom, Murnau explains, will be in character for the entire time of the filming, and will only be seen at night. Schreck is played masterfully by Willem Dafoe. When members of the crew start to disappear, we see interesting back and forth  between Murnau and the Vampire, in which we find out that Murnau has made a very interesting and questionable bargain with the Vampire: His good behaviour for the life of one of his cast. Shame it’s so difficult to deal with the undead. 

Shadow of the Vampire puts a new twist to the Vampire movie: it’s a movie about the making of a vampire movie – wherein the Director of said movie chose to hire a real Vampire to play the title role. The cast is composed of a lot of “A” Listers and they all do an amazing job in this unusual film. The story is gripping, and the switch between regular filming, and the representation of what Murnau is capturing on his cameras is a great way to capture the dualism of the story. After watching this, I was compelled to watch the original, 1922 Nosferatu the very next day. If you enjoy horror movies, plot twists and damn good acting then you owe it to yourself to watch this film. Check out the trailer below:


Suspiria (1977)–Witchy Italian Movie Weirdness at an German Ballet Academy

SuspiriaItalySuspiria is a 1977 horror movie directed by the Italian master, Dario Argento, and the fist of a trilogy of horror. And it’s weird… and loud.

Suspiria tells the story of America ballet dance student, Suzy Bannion who takes up study at a prestigious dance study in Germany, but quickly discovers that things are not what they may seem.  Upon arriving at the school on a ridiculously rainy night, only to see an upset girl fleeing and mumbling something about a secret and a flower – and then to be refused entrance. Next we see a girl die in an artistically weird stabbing… The next day Suzy manages to get to the school, meets Madame Blanc and Miss Tanner, and is shown around the school and introduced to the girls in the locker room. Suzy is told that the room she was to stay in is not ready and that she will stay with another student for the time being. At the school, Suzy has a fainting spell (after a weird encounter with the school’s cook)… later she seems okay…

Alright: All I am doing is describing what happened in the movie – and that is a silly thing to do. It’s al artistic Italian Horror by the master Dario Argento and it is about a Ballet School run by witches…

Argento manages to create a creepy, artistic weird horror flick of sorts that keeps you watching. The strong uses of colour is very jarring as well as is the cacophonous soundtrack which built up so much tension in me that I almost felt nauseous. Seriously, I have never had a soundtrack for a film affect me so… and it was loud. This is a trippy experience of a film and definitely bot for everyone. If you have an open mind (and not overly sensitive ears)  , then this will be a memorable watch. Will you like it? Many won’t – I did, but with reservations. You check it out and tell me what you think. Here’s the trailer:


Remake Week Movie #5 – Fright Night (2011)

FrightNight2011We decided to take on the 2011 remake of the 1985 classic Vampire film, Fright Night last night and were not disappointed.

Fright Night tells the story of Charley Brewster (played by Anton Yelchin, now famous as Chekov from the Star Trek reboot) a teenager living in the suburbs of Las Vegas. Charley discovers that his neighbour, Jerry Dandrige (played by Colin Farrell) is actually a Vampire and must defeat him to save his family and friends.

Initially Charley just thinks Jerry is a normal guy that just moved in next door – that is until former best friend, Ed (played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) opens his eyes to what is going on around him. Ed and Charley have become distanced and do not hang out any more, but Ed blackmails Charley to come with him to one of there mutual friend’s place to check on him as he seems to have disappeared without a trace. When they get there they find no trace of either their friend or family. It is here where Ed reveals that Charley’s new neighbour is a Vampire – something that Charley refuses to believe. Events at home, between himself and Jerry change his mind when Jerry asks him if he could borrow some beer for an upcoming liaison between himself and a girl – Charley obliges, and notices that Jerry cannot go past the threshold of his open door… Everyone knows a vampire cannot enter a home without being invited.

Soon things ramp up, and Jerry, being a Vampire starts feeding more and more and more people that Charley knows start disappearing. Jerry discovers that Charley has learned his secret and tries to get to Charley and his family, in any way possible. Charley seeks the help of a world famous occult/vampire hunter/Vegas Magician guy, Peter Vincent (played by David Tennant who at first just kicks him out, but eventually looks over a pile of information Charley left behind and realizes Charley is dealing with a real Vampire and decides to help… well, is forced to help when Jerry forces his hand. A note: in the original Fright Night, this character was played by the late and very great Roddy McDowall, and was the host of a late night horror movie show.

What follows is an action packed human’s versus Vampires battle(s) that is actually quite entertaining. There’s a cool battle between Charlie and former buddy, now turned Vampire Ed that in a way made me sympathetic to Ed. The final battle between Charley, Jerry and Jerry’s new brood of freshly changed Vampires is exciting and in a way pays homage to the original.

Is this better than the original? Oh, hell no. Is this movie good? Oh, yes. I found it a fun, entertaining Vampire movie and would not hesitate to recommend it as a watch.

Check out the trailer:


Remake Week Movie #3–Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Texas_chainsaw_massacreGood remakes may be hard to find, but I’ve been doing pretty good lately.

2003’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TCM), revisit’s Tobe Hooper’s ground breaking horror classic of (almost) the same name (add “The” to the beginning of the original), and gives it a great, modern refresh.

Inspired very loosely on the horrendous crimes of Ed Gein in 1950’s Wisconsin,  TCM tells the story of a group of young 20 somethings on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert in Dallas. Along the way they stop and pick up a dazed, confused woman who is walking around in the middle of the road by herself, almost unresponsive. They take her into the van in order to get her some help, but in a short time she kills herself using a pistol that she had concealed… Forced to look for help from authorities, they drive into a small town…and perhaps Hell on Earth.

What ensues is a battle between this group of youths and a hillbilly clan that seems un escapable. Call the Sheriff? Sure – too bad he’s mixed right up in this hillbilly killer family. No matter where they turn, the group finds themselves deeper and deeper in crap -  One by one, they fall gruesome victims to Leatherface and his family.

If you haven’t seen the original, you can still watch this movie without missing anything, but seeing the original’s stature in the horror world, you would be doing yourself a dis-service. Is this better than the original? Well, it really is good – maybe not as important as the original – but possible as good. Jessica Biel does a great job (and looks great), and the rest of the cast is good to.

Watch it!

Here’s the trailer:


Pawnshop Chronicles (2013) – Not 100% Sure Just What I Watched, But I Know I Liked It

pawn_shop_chroniclesWhat a weird film, Pawnshop Chronicles is… What a weird film.

Chock full of actor’s you’ve heard of, Pawnshop Chronicles is a circular tale of lost love, meth heads, kidnapping and the battle between good and evil.

Mathew Dillon plays Richard, a man about to begin his honeymoon with his second wife when they stop by a Pawnshop, hoping to get a little extra cash when something goes wrong with their banking. Quickly he spots a ring – the ring he gave he had custom made for his first wife, who disappeared without a trace 6 years prior. Abandoning his new wife, he takes off on a renewed search for his long missing love.

This begins a twisted tale that brings the viewer on a roller coaster ride – we encounter meth-heads, murder and white slavery (hint: you might not look at Frodo the same again). You’ll meat a failing Elvis Impersonator (played compellingly by Brendan Fraser). You’ll see bad guys screwing over bad guys, and a town split down the middle by which Barber they choose.

Add to this a character that offers salvation for your soul, leaving you wondering if he’s God or the Devil…

This movie may be weird, but I freakin’ loved it.

Check out the trailer below:


Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) – Like a Lamborghini With a Lawnmower Engine

Jack_the_Giant_Slayer_posterI was looking forward to 2013’s Jack the Gian Slayer since I saw the trailer in the theatre a number of months ago.

I wish I stuck with the trailer.

Jack the Giant Slayer is a very pretty looking movie – very pretty.

Jack the Giant Slayer is also quite boring.

Looking like a live action film meets the 2007 Beowulf animated film, this film drags most of the way through with dashes of action. Yes, there’s a great giant versus human battle at the end but it’s too little too late.

Jack the Giant Slayer bored me and I won’t forgive that. Should you watch it? I don’t know, are you having trouble sleeping?