Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #21 – Blood Glacier (2013)

Join Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Title: Blood Glacier

Year: 2013

Director: Marvin Kren

Starring: Gerhard Liebman, Edita Malovic, Brigitte Kren, Hille Bessler, Peter Knaack

Netflix Percentage that I’ll like it: 57% I’ll like it.

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: Back when Harbinger Down was my monthly Netflix Roulette someone told me I should watch Blood Glacier because it too was reminiscent of The Thing (The Carpenter version) and made a better prequel to The Thing than the actual prequel to The Thing (which I think everyone can agree was terrible). Which sounds pretty promising. So I may like it more than Netflix thinks I will. I have been promised monsters in the movie blurb and there better be monsters.

The Verdict: In the same way that Harbinger Down was a better The Thing prequel than the The Thing prequel, Blood Glacier is a better Prometheus than Prometheus was. The mutations have an explanation (not just monster making soup) and the scientists aren’t all dumb as doorknobs. Also, no one is going around touching alien penis-snakes. Also, there are no penis-snakes. Though I will say that the characters in Blood Glacier are as unlikable, if not more so than Prometheus.

A small group of climate scientists are studying the melting glaciers in the Alps. They are accompanied by drunk and irascible technician Janek (Liebman). When the glacier they’re studying starts “bleeding” the scientists are stunned. Not as stunned as Janek though, who discovers a mutant fox-beetle thing rooting through their garbage. Turns out the “blood” coming from the glacier is actually a single celled organism that recombines the DNA of anything it comes into contact with after being consumed. The three scientists demand Janek keep his mouth shut about their astounding discovery. Especially when they find out a government minister Bodicek (Kren) is on her way to see how their research is going. With a VIP and Janek’s ex-girlfriend, on their way, the mountain mutants chooses now to unleash hell. They find themselves trapped by all sorts of cheapish looking mutant animals, including a mutant bird that looks like it could have come right out of Birdemic.

Blood Glacier, despite cheap mutant monsters is a heck of a lot of fun. The Minister is the most badass bureaucrat in the history of cinema. The movie is worth it for the scene in which she takes she a giant drill to a mutant ibex, alone. There’s also a nameless female victim of the mutant bird who spends the entire film passed out then dies in a fire. Yes, a fire. Along with the mutant monsters, there is a good amount practical gore effects including blood spurting boils and a very nice impalement.

If you haven’t seen Blood Glacier yet, then go check it out. Especially if you like cheesy monster flicks with an ecological message (Thaw anyone?). If you have seen it, I only hope you had as much fun as I did. The only warning I would issue is for dog fans. Yes there is a dog. And no, he doesn’t survive.

Rating: 7/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #18 – The Babadook (2014)

Babadook posterJoin Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Title: The Babadook

Year: 2014

Director: Jennifer Kent

Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Hayley McElhinney

Netflix Rating: 3.5 stars

Seen it before: No! And OMG am I late to this party. I remember EVERYONE was going on about this movie when it came out. Everyone said it was terrifying, and it’s been on Netflix for ages, and it’s on my “to watch list” but I still haven’t seen it. So, no time like the present.

rsz_babadook_2First Impressions: How scared should I be? It has a decent rating and looks scary. Will I need to sleep with the lights on? Should I be watching this over lunch? (This is a bad habit…) Anyway, I hope it’s good and I hope it’s scary and I hope it holds together, and I’m excited a female director is helming it. So here we go! Or and one final observation, anything called the Babadook doesn’t sound scary. Because dookie….

The Verdict: Plot first. Stressed out single mom Amelia (Davis) has to deal with her needy, annoying, son Sam (Wiseman) who is a monster obsessed discipline problem. One night Sam picks out a bedtime story called The Babadook, the book has seemingly appeared from nowhere. This of course kicks off a series of escalating supernatural assaults. Amelia finally succumbs to the Babadook and almost murders her son. But, as annoying as Sam is he has some mad monster fighting skillz. So the worst outcome is avoided, but now Amelia is stuck with an evil supernatural house pet that lives in her basement, because, “You can never get rid of the Babadook”.

rsz_babadook_3OK. There is a lot to unpack about this movie. First off, the big lesson is never have children! LOL! But seriously, it does a great job examining the darker side of motherhood. The things people don’t like to talk about, like how sometimes kids are really hard to love. The scene where Amelia’s sister flat out tells her she doesn’t like her kid felt really true in ways that a lot of saccharine family dramas never do. It’s cold and brutal and a sharp moment that puts a nail in Amelia’s isolation.

The acting is phenomenal. Essie Davis’s performance drips with agony. She’s overworked, underpaid, and can’t get a moment’s sleep. As the film goes on she grows more haggard and disheveled. The young actor playing Sam turns out a fantastic performance. In the beginning Sam is needy, clingy, and screams and kicks, basically he’s the kid on the airplane everyone hates. His obsession with home-built weapons gets him kicked out of school which means he only clings harder to his mother. This clinginess comes from the tragic shared past of mother and son. Amelia’s husband died in a car crash while driving her to the hospital the night Sam was born. Amelia is constantly reminded of the tragedy by Sam’s very existence and she is by turns, cold and supportive, but unable to settle on one.

Babadook 1The actual Babadook itself remains off-screen, unless you count the creepy/cute illustrations in the picture book which evokes it. It appears as shadowy dream creature, and empty suit of clothes, and twice as Amelia’s dead husband. Even when Amelia “tames” it and id forced to keep it in the basement the audience STILL doesn’t get a good look. I’m not sure how effective this is. Personally I love a creature feature, but there is something to be said for keeping it vague. Mostly budgetary, but maybe the audience can conjure something scarier in their mind. I was just frustrated.

But I honestly liked just about everything in this film including the color palette of cool grays, blues and browns. Definitely worth watching, although probably everyone already has…

Rating: 8/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #17 – Tucker & Dale vs Evil (2010)

rsz_tucker_and_dale_posterJoin Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Title: Tucker and Dale VS. Evil

Year: 2010

Director: Eli Craig

Starring: Tyler Labine, Alan Tyduck, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss

Netflix Rating: 4.5 stars

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: At first I thought I was in DEEP trouble judging by the dumb title. BUT then I saw who it was starring! Tyler Labine!!! He is a long time favorite of mine and tragically underrated. He’s a goddamn national treasure! Alan Tyduck is good too…So I felt assured by the stars and the rating that this will be good. It promises to be a horror comedy, let’s find out if it delivers. Fingers crossed.

The Verdict: Tucker and Dale VS Evil is a fun film that subverts the “killer hillbilly” trope so painfully common to horror films.

rsz_tucker_and_dale_3Tucker (Tyduk) and his friend Dale (Labine)are on their way to Tucker’s newly purchased dream vacation home. On the way they run into a group of college students who are on their way to get drunk in the woods over the weekend. Dale tries to talk to one of the college girls at a gas station stop but the college kinds, raised on a steady diet of Wrong Turn, flee. Dale and Tucker encounter the college kids again as they’re doing a little night fishing on the lake. One of the kids, Allison (Bowden) falls in the lake and hits her head. Dale jumps in to rescue her but all Allison’s friends see is a hillbilly taking away their friend. And so begins an epic case of misunderstanding and brutal accidental deaths, while a very confused Tucker and Dale think they are caught in a mass suicide pact of college kids.

The fun is both the college students falling into the assumption that any hillbilly must be a killer hillbilly, and Tucker and Dale’s reactions to all the death and mayhem happening around them. There are a number of great deaths, soured by an unfortunate amount of CGI. The CGI is very poor and very obvious. Most of the impalements are done digitally and there are quite a few impalements. The movie makes up for some of it’s worse effects with really good trauma make-up. Especially in the case of poor Tucker who takes most of the damage. But practical gore effects would have elevated the film and been a great parody of older horror hillbilly films like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

rsz_tucker_and_dale_2Still, that is a small complaint. The acting is great. The comedic timing of Tyduck and Labine is perfectly on point. The actual villain of the film emerges in the form Chad (Jesse Moss) a preppy college kid who slowly becomes unhinged as his personal demons overtake him. The death scenes are hilarious and there is a lot of great repartee.

This is an older film, but if you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it. It’s not the goriest horror comedy, or maybe even the funniest, but it’s an original and subversive take on a classic trope and manages to breathe new life into one of the more obnoxious horror tropes.

Rating: 8/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #16 – Last Days On Mars (2013)

last-days-on-mars-posterJoin Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Title: Last Days on Mars

Year: 2013

Director: Ruairi Johnson

Starring: Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, Romola Garai

Netflix Rating: 2.8 stars

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: Another movie I’ve never heard of starring people I have heard of. So it must be some direct to video thing. Which doesn’t mean it will be bad. It does look a lot more sci-fi than horror. But we’ll see. The synopsis promises mutating microbes turning humans into killers, so zombies… zombies on Mars… le sigh… I was at the very least hoping for some body horror or a knock-off of “The Thing”.

last-days-on-mars-1The Verdict: Yup. Space zombies. Or zombies on Mars. Call it what you want but that was about as deep as this thing got. Which is disappointing. Or maybe it’s just because I don’t like zombies. Fans of zombies will probably enjoy this though it doesn’t go into the psychological depths that are the (overplayed) backbone of most walking dead films.

The incredibly wooden Liev Schreiber plays Vincent Campbell one of the Mars astronauts on a six month mission to the Red Planet. They are only hours from getting picked up by the main ship The Aurora, and going home to Earth. When, of course, one of the scientists discover bacteria on Mars. So, of course, he doesn’t tell anyone else about his discovery because he’s going to take all the credit and glory, and whatever. He lies to commander Brunel (Elias Koteas) and goes out to visit the discovery site. Disaster ensues. Long story short a couple of astronauts get infected, head back to base and begin picking off/infecting their cohorts in gruesome ways.

Campbell and the others fight to survive the onslaught and rendezvous with the ship that is coming to pick them up. But of course, one-by-one the remaining astronauts get infected by the zombie bacteria.

rsz_last_days_on_mars_2The problem with ‘Last Days on Mars’ is how painfully typical the plot is. Considering how many of the characters are scientists part of me was desperately hoping they would “science the crap” out of the problem, to borrow a line from ‘The Martian’. But that hope was dashed when a hasty attempt at treating the Martian microbes with antibiotics fails. The biggest twist in the film is that the zombies aren’t after brains, they are after water. And barring water will make do with blood, as shown in the ONE scene of zombie chowing down on a human in the entire movie. Honestly, if the scientists had wanted a REAL distraction to keep the zombies busy, they would have turned on a tap. Not ONE of them remarked on the water drinking at all.

The acting is good, aside from Liev Schreiber, arguably the biggest name in the film, but let’s be honest, I have no idea how he manages to talk let alone act without ever moving his face… There are a bevy of British actors who all do a good job of running, screaming and dying. But the script wasn’t exactly challenging fair. Zombie die-hards may enjoy the unique setting and science buffs will enjoy the Mars rovers and sets. But a change of scenery can’t make a mediocre zombie film stellar. And those same zombie-diehards may lament the lack of actual onscreen zombie killing and zombie feasting that are the hallmark of the genre.

last-days-on-mars-3Still, ‘Last Days on Mars’ looks like money and you could do worse. Just don’t plan on having your blown. It treads the well worn tropes of every other zombie film out there.

Rating: 5/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #15 – The Diabolical (2015)

diabolical-posterJoin Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Title: The Diabolical

Year: 2015

Director: Alistair Legrand

Starring: Ali Larter, Arjun Gupta, Max Rose

Netflix Rating: 1.8 stars

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: From the description it sounds like a decent haunted house flick. But the low rating doesn’t look promising. The description promises it’s a Supernatural Vs. Science smack down, so let’s see what wins!

The Verdict: That was unexpectedly good. Not amazing, but good. The Diabolical (misleading title by the way) takes an entirely scientific approach to ghosts. In fact the ghosts aren’t ghosts­– and here is where I spoil the entire film for you, but science experiments gone wrong! Take a pinch of Looper and sprinkle it on top of Insidious and you have The Diabolical. Or maybe it’s more of a Terminator meets Poltergeist. Basically is involves time travel and teleportation gone wrong.

diabolical-1Ali Larter plays single mother Madison whose house is haunted (or not as we find out later). She has to deal with not just spooky occurrences in her house, but her tween son Jacob(Max Rose) who has anger issues and a five-year-old daughter. The film kicks off with the ghosts front and center, literally one appears in the first scene of the film as Madison is reading a website about bankruptcy.

Meanwhile Jacob struggles to get over an incident from five months ago so severe that a social worker drops in for interviews. Aside from his anger issues Jacob is a good older brother and a brilliant student preparing to skip ahead a few grades and go right to high school. His tutor, Nikolai (Arjun Gupta) has eyes for Madison and they date, which leads to Nikolai witnessing firsthand the supernatural occurrences in Madison’s house. Nikolai applies his scientific knowledge to figuring out what is going on. It all links back to Nikolai and his former job with a shady corporation performing shady experiments.

The effects are pretty good, with at least one grossly gooey ghost who keeps appearing, a second one in slightly better condition, and one that just looks like a big threatening guy. The scares aren’t particularly scary but the mood maintains the mystery and suspense. The acting is really good, even the two child actors are excellent, which can be dicey. But they carry their roles admirably, especially Max Rose. A great deal of the plot revolves around his character Jacob and if he hadn’t done such a good job the whole film would have dragged. The movie is also worth it just to see Ali Larter try to punch a ghost.

diabolical-2Despite its strengths The Diabolical is just a little bit on the boring side. There’s nothing really obviously boring, it just creeps in around the edges when a scene or two drags on longer than necessary and the haunting isn’t that scary. After that it just becomes a matter of waiting for the explanation. Which is obvious about fifteen minutes from the end. Still, it’s a pretty decent watch and don’t let the low rating on Netflix fool you, it might not be extraordinary, but I’ve certainly seen far worse.

Rating: 6/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #12 – The Vampire’s Coffin (1958)

Vampire Coffin Netflix posterChe Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #12 – The Vampire’s Coffin (1958)

Join Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Title: The Vampire’s Coffin

Year: 1958

Director: Fernando Mendez

Starring: Abel Salazar, Ariadna Welter, Germán Robles

Netflix Rating: 2.8

Seen it before: No, I don’t think so, but I’ve seen an awful lot of old vampire movies…

Vampires Coffin 1First Impressions: Oh shit… buckle up for BAD dubbing! I had to IMDB this to find the director and it’s just as I feared. A Mexican B-movie which will be dubbed in English because Americans are too lazy for subtitles.

The Verdict: Huzzah! To my surprise and delight The Vampire’s Coffin was in its original Spanish! No bad dubbing to sit through. And what a difference it made to the performances. This assessment is based solely on other dubbed films from the 50s I’ve seen. MAYBE the dub for Vampire’s Coffin was good, but I sincerely doubt it. Anyway, on to the plot!

Dr. Mendoza (Guillermo Orea)steals the body of the vampire Count Karol de Luvad with the help of hired thug Barraza (Yeire Beirute). When Barraza removes the stake form the Count’s heart the vampire comes back to life to seek his revenge on Dr. Enrique Salvidar (Abel Salazar) and his girlfriend Marta (Ariadne Welter) who apparently put him in the ground to begin with. I say apparently because apparently The Vampire’s Coffin is a sequel. A lot of references are made to events in the earlier film. Luckily The Vampire’s Coffin stands on its own enough to be enjoyed without having to see the first one.

Vampires Coffin 2And by enjoy I mean only if you enjoy cheesy B-movies from the 50s. Because boy howdy, this movie has it all! Rubber bats on strings (that are still visible), cardboard set, props made of Styrofoam, ridiculously imperiled heroines who trip over nothing, and even the mandatory 1950s dance routine! A lot of the action takes place in a “wax museum” which is really a museum of department store mannequins dressed in funny clothes and wearing paper name tags. The entire movie is pretty bloodless. The Count de Luvad gets to bite a few people but the vampire bites on the victims neck’s are some of the funniest and badly done I’ve seen. They are also nowhere near a vein or artery.

Vampire Coffin other posterThe acting is surprisingly good for a B-movie at least where the main cast is concerned. There is a terrible child actor playing a patient in the very beginning. Luckily she isn’t in it much. But everyone else gives a great performance. There are even a few moments of genuine comedy INTENDED to be funny that actually are.

But all the cheese adds up to a delightfully bad film that richly deserves to be riffed on. This is another one I recommend getting a group of like-minded friends together, watch and mock all the way through.

Rating: 6/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #11 – Harbinger Down (2015)

harbingerdownChe Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #11 – Harbinger Down (2015)

Join Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Title: Harbinger Down

Year: 2015

Director: Alec Gillis

Starring: Lance Henriksen, Camille Balsamo, Matt Winston, Reid Collums

Netflix Rating: 1.8

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: The low rating is not promising and the description sounds exactly like Virus and or Leviathan, both of whom were just rip-offs of The Thing. This isn’t exactly a promising start, although I DO love a creature feature. So let’s find out if it’s good, bad or just plain ugly.

Harbinger 3The Verdict: Well that could have been significantly worse. Ever since John Carpenter’s The Thing came out it has spawned imitations like spare body parts. Most are terrible, the better ones are fairly watchable. And happy day, Harbinger Down falls squarely into watchable.

University student Sadie (Balsamo) along with fellow students and Professor Stephen (Matt Winston) are studying the effects of global warming on whales. They sign on board the Harbinger, an Alaskan crabbing vessel captained by Sadie’s grandfather Graff (Henriksen). Frozen in the ice they find an downed Soviet moon lander from the 80’s. The deceased cosmonaut inside is the product of human experimentation. The Soviets were trying to make a radiation proof astronaut using tardigrades. That’s right, tardigrades. The adorably fugly micro-organism also known as a water bear. Harbinger down is perhaps the one and only tardigrade based horror film in existence.

And you know what? It’s worth watching. Harbinger Down makes a better The Thing prequel than The Thing prequel. The ropey tentacular mutating Thing monster doesn’t look much like a tardigrade, which is actually something of a letdown. I was sincerely hoping for a giant tardigrade. But as the film explains that the tardigrades have been picking up extra DNA from the ocean and integrating it into themselves. Of course the tardigrade invasion begins with the super obnoxious Professor Stephen being infected. That’s the price you pay in a horror movie for being a cartoon villain. Things escalate from there as Graff’s crew and Sadie’s fellow grad students are picked off one by one by pink goo and tentacles with built in lighting effects.

Harbinger 2Yes, the effects in Harbinger Down are practical. Made by director Gillis who has years of experience in film make-up and FX. It’s kind of nice to see a creature feature with a practical monster but it definitely doesn’t bring anything new to the table and frankly looks cheaper than John Carpenter’s The Thing, a movie 33 years its elder.

Plot-wise Harbinger is also an almost blow-by-blow remake of The Thing (maybe homage would be kinder). Including icy weather and tentacles popping out of people, pipes, and mysterious shafts. Harbinger substitutes flamethrowers for liquid nitrogen and a ship for an Antarctic outpost. But the general spirit is there. The only thing the tardigrades didn’t do was try to build a spaceship.

The acting was surprisingly excellent. Lance Henriksen is perennial favorite in genre films. The other actors names might not be household words but that doesn’t mean they are novices.

There are more than a few unintentionally funny moments, everything from the goofy tentacles wired with LEDs to dialogue pulled almost wholesale from other movies. But the movie as a whole is entertaining, well paced and with more compelling, better developed characters than The Thing prequel (which is an admittedly low bar). One of stand-out characters is Svet, a hardcore Russian badass played by Milla Bjorn in what looks to be her first acting gig. Unfortunately I can’t talk much about her without spoilers.

Harbinger 1Yes Harbinger is derivative. But it’s derivative in a loving way and Gillis’ love for genre films shines through. If you’re looking for an original film this isn’t it. But if you want a few good laughs and a decent way to kill a few hours, give Harbinger a chance.

Rating: 6/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #10 – Galaxy of Terror (1981)

got1Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #10 – Galaxy of Terror (1981)

Join Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film (usually but not this month) . Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Title: Galaxy of Terror

Year: 1981

Director: B.D. Clark

Starring: Edward Albert, Erin Moran, Ray Walston, Robert Englund, Sid Haig, Grace Zabriskie

IMDB Rating: 5.1

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: Full disclosure, I picked this film because a bunch of people on Twitter were talking about a maggot raping a woman to death and it sounded so insane I had to see it for myself. It is NOT promising that it is produced by Roger Corman. That automatically means it’s going to be cheap. But, will it live up to its infamous hype? Let’s find out.

The Verdict: Soooooo, what the hell was that anyway? Besides a confused and underwhelming mess full of weird and interesting ideas that go nowhere and accomplish nothing.

got2Basically the crew of a spaceship is sent out to rescue another spaceship and they discover an alien pyramid that is killing them off with their own fears. A bunch of really goofy stuff happens to some pretty decent actors and then Edward Albert becomes the new planetary Master of where ever they started form (sorry I didn’t take notes and I’m not going to watch it over to get this right).

There is zero explanation of the Planetary Master- who he is and why he’s master of this planet or why he plays games with an oracle/witch, who opens the film with voice over and then is never heard from again. There are so many confused ideas in this it’s bizarre, and it seems like some of them COULD have gone somewhere with a little extra effort at explaining things to the audience. Instead it feels like a mishmash of Dune/Alien/Solaris/Battle Star Galactica but without any of the cohesion of those other films.

The effects are as cheap as expected. Say hello to some old school, and not very well done matte paintings. Though I guess James Cameron needs to get some props for the Gigeresque pyramid.

Galaxy could almost be saved by the acting, which is decent. A lot of TV and movie stars are in this. A young Robert Englund was very good and Grace Zabriskie as the intense-as-hell Captain Trantor was a real treat. I’d actually watch the hell out of a movie about the origin story of her character.

Biggest complaint, aside from the script, special effects and whatever that ending was, is the lighting. Everything is dark and murky with poorly lit monochromatic sets. The planet itself looks like a purple junkyard full of car parts and rocks. And for some reason in the future giant backpack lights are more reasonable than flashlights?!

got3And I know your all waiting for the verdict on the maggot rape scene. Well, it too was underwhelming and honestly a bit goofy (much like everything else in this mess). The giant worm looked like a Power Rangers villain and how it got that poor woman’s clothes off I’ll never know. It only had squishy appendages that didn’t look like they could get a grip on anything let alone fabric. The scene was also mercifully short, but if you are looking for outré horror sex scenes just watch Naked Lunch again.

Galaxy of Terror is sort of so weird it’s worth watching once but no more than that.

Rating: 4/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #9 – Russell Mulcahy’s Tale of The Mummy (1998)

Join Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

taleofthemummy1Title: Russell Mulcahy’s Tale of The Mummy A.K.A Tale of the Mummy

Year: 1998

Director: Russell Mulcahy

Starring: Jason Scott Lee, Louise Lombard, Sean Pertwee, Jack Davenport

Netflix Rating: 3.0 stars (I think Netflix Roulette is lying. It has 1.5 stars when you go to Netflix)

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: This has made for TV knock off of “The Mummy” written all over it except for the fact that it came out a year before “The Mummy”. I think I’m going to believe the overall rating from Netflix proper and assume this is a really bad movie. But let’s find out for sure, shall we?

The Verdict: It was about as bad as I expected. There were watchable moments and some good ideas, but not enough to balance the cheap special effects with terrible CGI and many of the plot elements did seem to be pulled from the script of “The Mummy” but given a spin.

taleofthemummy2So, the actual plot; Christopher Lee and friends open an Egyptian tomb in 1948. They are instantly ravaged by the curse of bad CGI effects and die, but not before Christopher Lee dynamites the cave. Skip up to 1998 and Lee’s descendant played by Louise Lombard is re-opening the tomb with a new crop of scientists (this time wisely wearing biohazard suits). The curse is still in effect. One guy dies instantly and Sean Pertwee is driven mad. Skip ahead again seven months and the mummy, well, the wrappings of the mummy Talos are finally going on display in the British Museum. Mayhem ensues when Talos, in the form of a bunch of mummy wrappings (made, I would like to point out, of strips of latex)flies around London gathering his reincarnated organs, not unlike Imhotep from “The Mummy”. Enter Jason Scott Lee and Jack Davenport who play detectives trying to solve the mysterious murders.

There is no sense of how much time passes in the movie. At one point it is said that weeks have gone by between Talos murders and my impression was only days had passed. The two detectives banter like they’ve been working together for months but it feels like they just met. The script glosses over other things and tosses in characters as needed. Hence Shelly Duvall popping in without introduction to play a psychic that Sean Pertwee visits. Her character doesn’t serve any function and is introduced late in the film.

taleofthemummy3The practical effects are as painful to watch as the CG too. The mummy Talos shows up at the end and looks like a badly sculpted anatomical model from a biology class. There’s a bit of blood and guts and the VFX crew managed some decent injury make-up.

The most watchable and interesting scenes were those in which Talos is in mummy wrapper form. He floats around as a swirling mass of ribbony… latex and CGI. The latex mummy wrapping bothered me so much. I’m guessing the film makers needed something that would stream about nicely but still have weight, but fabric would have done the same thing and not been so distractingly inaccurate. Material choice aside, Talos has some good kills as a mummy wrapper and it’s an interesting idea to have the mummy come in a form other than just shambling corpse.

The actors are all very good. In fact too good for the movie. Everyone turned in a really good performance and no one hammed it up or fell flat. There is an OK twist of an ending that was no surprise but it certainly could have been worse.

taleofthemummy4This isn’t one I recommend unless you are having B-movie night and want to laugh at some bad special effects while still enjoying some decent acting.

Rating: 3/10