BARE BONES: DRAGON WARS: D-WAR (2007)

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DRAGON WARS: D-WAR (2007)

Korean monster movie finds a young woman named Sara (Amanda Brooks) being the reincarnation of the Yuh Yi Joo, a being able to give great power to a chosen one amongst dragons, here called imoogis. An evil imoogi named Buraki comes to Los Angeles to track her down and steal that power, and brings a formidable army of monsters with him. With the city under siege, chosen protector Ethan (Jason Behr) must also find Sara to keep the Yuh Yi Joo from falling into Buraki’s hands.

Dragon Wars: D-War is a lot of fun as long as you’re willing to put up with a lot of nonsense to have that fun. Flick is directed by Shim Hyung-rae from his own silly script. The plot is goofy, as is the dialog, and the acting is fairly wooden. This Korean fantasy makes up for all the campiness, though, with some top notch SPFX and spectacular battle sequences, including a climactic battle to the death between good and evil imoogis. The siege on L.A. by an army of monsters is alone worth the price of a rental on Amazon Prime, at least for kaiju fans. If you like monster movies and don’t mind the campy silliness that can come with some of them, then this should be an entertaining evening on the couch. Some of your favorite brews might help. Also stars familiar faces Chris Mulkey, Elizabeth Peña, Craig Robinson, former Jason Voorhees Derek Mears as a bounty hunter and the legendary Robert Forster as Ethan’s mentor. Supposedly there is a prequel from Shim Hyung-rae in the planning all these years later.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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HORROR TV YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SWAMP THING season 1 (2019)

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SWAMP THING season 1 (2019)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Swamp Thing was sadly canceled after it’s first episode aired and before it was even given a chance…and it’s a shame. The ten episode first season nailed so many aspects of the comics and also managed to be one of the better horror shows currently on TV. Was that the problem? Was it too edgy? Right now there are few answers to the questions of why a great first season was also it’s last.

The story takes place in Marais, Louisiana, where an outbreak of some strange illness has occurred. CDC doctor Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) arrives on the scene to try to find some answers and a cure. She meets eccentric scientist Alec Holland (Andy Bean) who tells her the answer is in the swamps. There they find that someone has been dumping a chemical growth accelerator in the swamp that has had a bizarre effect on the plant life. Alec is murdered in the swamp one night for what he knows and his body is regenerated by the plants into a massive human/plant hybrid..The Swamp Thing (Derek Mears)! Now Holland must not only come to terms with what he’s become, but protect Abby from those who would harm her and protect himself for those who find him a curious object of study.

Written and directed by a number of talents (see list below) Swamp Thing is a fun, atmospheric and delightfully gory show, that takes itself seriously despite it’s comic book roots. The show uses the North Carolina locations very well and the production and set design is perfectly spooky and fitting of the overall tone. There is a lot of action and intrigue as Abby and Holland uncover a conspiracy led by local businessman Avery Sunderland (Will Patton), his chief scientist Jason Woodrue (Kevin Durand) and crooked sheriff Lucilia Cable (Jennifer Beals), who are trying to exploit the swamp for profit. This puts Abby in danger and makes Holland/Swamp Thing a hunted man/thing. The episodes are each slightly under an hour and with the variety of directors and writers, the show maintains a consistent look and tone. The FX are good, especially the prosthetics and the CGI ranges from good to passable with some weak spots here and there. This show had a lot of potential and whatever the reasons for it’s canceling, unfortunately there will be some loose ends that will never get tightened unless, somehow, there is a continuation either by revival or a feature film. Sad, this show had a lot of potential and a strong first season start that was thrilling and enjoyable for comic and horror fans especially.

The cast really click here. Crystal Reed makes a solid heroine in the determined and resilient Abby Arcane. The actress presents a strong, intelligent and caring young woman that makes her very likable and endearing. Andy Dean is good as Holland, thought we only see him in the first episode and a few other spots. He builds a likable character in limited time. Derek Mears shines as the plant hero. He does a very good job giving Swamp Thing some complex emotions as he tries to figure out who and what he has become. He can be fierce and dangerous and yet kind, gentle and very sympathetic. Too bad we can’t see where he could take the character. Mears and Reed also had some nice on-screen chemistry, too. Patton makes a nice villain as the scheming and greedy Avery Sunderland, He’s a man that will kill for what he wants and does. Kevin Durand’s Woodrue is a scientist blinded and made cruel by his work. The post credits scene at the end of the last episode signals a side of him we would liked to have seen more of. The rest of the supporting cast, including Jennifer Beals and Ian Ziering, all play their parts well, A very solid cast for a really well done production.

In conclusion, This is a sad example of studio chaos ending a good show before it had a chance. This had some great atmosphere, a cool horror movie tone, yet didn’t ignore it’s comic book roots. There was some great production design, some spooky visuals and settings and a healthy amount of blood, gore and creatures. One of DC’s best representations of their properties as of late and it’s canceling is as mysterious as it’s swamp setting!

-MonsterZero NJ

Photo Credit: Fred Norris / 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

EPISODE LIST

  1. Pilot – directed by Len Wiseman and written by Gary Dauberman and Mark Verheiden
  2. Worlds Apart – directed by Len Wiseman and written by Mark Verheiden and Doris Egan
  3. He Speaks – directed by Deran Sarafian and written by Rob Fresco
  4. Darkness on the Edge of Town – directed by Carol Banker and written by Erin Maher and Kay Reindl
  5. Drive All Night – directed by Greg Beeman and written by Franklin Rho
  6. The Price You Pay – directed by Toa Fraser and written by Tania Lotia
  7. Brilliant Disguise – directed by Alexis Ostrander and written by Andrew Preston and Rob Fresco
  8. Long Walk Home – directed by E. L. Katz and written by Doris Egan
  9. The Anatomy Lesson – directed by Michael Goi and written by Mark Verheiden, Noah Griffith and Daniel Stewart
  10. Loose Ends – directed by Deran Sarafian and written by Erin Maher, Kay Reindl and Rob Fresco

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-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 (out of 4 ) swamp things.

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: FRIDAY THE 13th (2009)

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FRIDAY THE 13th (2009)

Remake…reboot…re-imagining…whatever you classify this 2009 attempt to breath new life into this time-warn series, Marcus Nispel’s Friday The 13th is basically just more of the same with a bigger budget and glossier look. It’s basically just another Friday The 13th movie that, once it briefly replays the series’ origins in it’s first few minutes, cuts to modern day and just becomes another entry in the series. As such it isn’t all that bad, it’s just that it gives us very little that we haven’t seen before. The film opens on Friday The 13th 1980 with a re-enactment of the final moments of the original film with a pretty and imperiled camp counselor taking the head off crazed Mrs. Voorhees (Nana Visitor) in self defense. We then cut to modern day where a group of campers, some of whom are looking for a nearby marijuana crop, enter the woods surrounding Crystal Lake near the old camp where the 1980 murders took place. Of course, the story of the massacre of the camp counselors by crazy Mrs. Voorhees and her subsequent death, is told around the campfire along with the tale of son, Jason who witnessed his mother’s beheading and now stalks the woods looking for revenge. Before you can say ‘sharp objects’, a mysterious figure wearing a bag over his head is slaughtering the campers one by one in gruesome fashion. Six weeks later a group of attractive young twenty-somethings are heading up to a house on Crystal Lake while Clay (Jared Padalecki) roams the town with fliers looking for his missing sister Whitney (Amanda Righetti), who was among the previous group whose fate we saw moments earlier. Meeting at a general store Clay bonds with pretty Jenna (Danielle Panabaker), but earns the ire of the party house owner Trent (Travis Van Winkle). The group has also caught the attention of another individual, one whose has made this area his home and deals harshly with anyone who intrudes on his turf. While Jenna and Clay roam the ruins of Camp Crystal Lake looking for clues of Whitney’s whereabouts, a hulking killer in a hockey mask…and we do see him obtain this…starts to decimate the young party-ers in blood soaked ways. Will any of these unsuspecting young people survive the wrath of this very real and very lethal local urban legend?

Marcus Nispel does a fairly good job of bringing some impact back to proceedings that we are all too familiar with, but it is that very familiarity that is the film’s Achilles Heel as well. He does create some suspense and tension and gives some strength back to the stalk and kill scenes, but aside from a few new twists such as Jason living in an underground lair beneath Camp Crystal Lake and keeping Whitney as a hostage as she bares a passing resemblance to his mother, the film is basically just another Friday The 13th movie and we know what to expect even if it’s done well…right down to the ‘shock’ ending. It looks good, Nispel’s movies always do. The gore is top notch and very plentiful and the movie moves quickly once it gets going. As for the last act when these films generally kick into gear, Nispel gives us one that is fairly intense with a lot of action and gore leading up to the expected showdown between Jason and whomever is left.

As for the cast… Derek Mears, as Jason gives, the iconic killer a presence and this goes a long way to make things work, as his Jason is imposing. Leads Panabaker and Padalecki work together very well as the strong willed heroine and determined hero, respectively. The rest of the characters may be stereotypical for this kind of movie, but the attractive young cast give all their characters a little life and personality, so they are not just generic victims even if some do not have a lot of screen time.

As this series as a whole goes, this re-whatever probably ranks among some of the better sequels when all is said and done. It’s lively, and returns the series to it’s more serious tone and makes Jason someone to be feared again. It may not have the classic aura of some of the original entries and if it was the first of it’s kind, it may be an enjoyable, but forgettable horror flick. When grouped in with the rest of this classic franchise, it’s an entertaining and slick enough entry that manages to return a bit of the old thunder to a familiar format…even if it’s basically more of the same and adds little new to a decades old formula.

3 hockey masks.

friday 13 original rating

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