Tuesday, October 31, 2017

TV Show Review: Stranger Things (Season 2)

Netflix's 80s tribute and sci-fi adventure returns with another great season of monsters, twists, and a charismatic cast. The film begins with a bizarre scene where a group of punks flee including Kali (Linnea Berthelsen) who shares a similar tattoo to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) continues to reach out to Eleven over the radio but he never hears anything. Eleven is hiding out in a cabin with Jim Hopper (David Harbour), kept isolated from nearby Hawkins. Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) are obsessed over a mysterious MadMax who continues to beat their high scores. Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) has some residual effects of staying in the upside down for so long and will warp into the other dimension to see a giant monster approaching. His mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) worries for her son and has started a new relationship with Bob (Sean Astin), a technology expert.

Mike's older sister Nancy (Natalia Dyer) continues to try to learn more about her missing friend Barb, enlisting of Will's older brother Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) much to the detriment of her relationship with Steve Harrington (Joe Keery). The new characters in town are Maxine (Sadie Sink) aka Max who has been beating Dustin's high scores and her bully of a stepbrother Billy (Dacre Montgomery). As the monster slowly creeps towards Will, stranger things happen around Hawkins even as Chief Hopper makes an arrangement with the Department of Energy's new project leader Dr. Sam Owens (Paul Reiser). Pumpkins patches are dying and the scientists continue to try to burn out the encroaching substance from the dimension hole. Halloween comes as the boys dress up as Ghostbusters. Jonathan is supposed to watch Will but he leaves to hang out with Nancy at a party where she has got obnoxiously drunk and fought with Steve.

Will has a major episode as the creature approaches and Dustin discovers a small strange creature that steadily grows. Lucas struggles to keep the secrets of the last season from Max who starts to hang out with the group and ask questions. Eleven grows impatient with her captivity eventually journeying out only to find Mike talking with Max, making her jealous. As Mike sees the monster more and more, he stands up to it under Bob's advice and is attacked. He starts to act strange and when Joyce asks him to show what he sees, he draws a strange map. Eleven uses her telekinetic ability to seek our her mom and after an argument with Hopper, she flees. Hopper is distracted as he enters a tunnel beneath the pumpkin patch that is part of the upside down. Nancy and Jonathan fall deeper into the conspiracy theories when the lab takes them in to put them off the trail but then they go to the investigator Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman), who helps them share the information with the public.


Eleven explores her past learning more about her mother and seeing Kali. She seeks out the fellow enhanced individual and they join up to take revenge on their torturers. Eleven doesn't support their brutal acts and when the police invade she decides to return to Hawkins. Will has grown worse so they take them to the lab as he is now linked with the large monster. Dustin and Steve work together to find the creature that had burrowed out of his cellar. Lucas confesses everything to Max and they join up with Dustin and Steve to fight the dogs, sorry Demodogs. They are about to be killed when the creatures retreat to the portal where they kill off the scientist. Bob sacrifices himself so Joyce, Hopper, and the kids can escape. They split up into three groups once Eleven, or Jane, returns. She and Hopper go to the gate so she can shut, Joyce, Jonathan, and Nancy take Will to the cabin where they use heat to get the monster out of him, and Steve, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, and Max go to burn the center of the monster growth but not before Billy fights Steve and Max has to stand up to her abusive brother. The finale is spectacular and the season wraps charmingly at a dance though there are hints at what will happen in the third season.

Stranger Things has lived up to its stellar first season making this one of my favorite television shows and giving the streaming service a new solid title to promote. All of the characters are fun to watch and the young cast is so impressive mixed with astounding visuals to tell a very fun story. The mystery makes the show very easy to binge in a weekend and superb viewing of consecutive episodes. I even had to revisit the first season again and it was easy to watch a second time since the show is so entertaining. I had binged it so fast the first time, I saw a few surprising things through the second time and this is a show I think I will revisit again in the future. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Movie Review: Cult of Chucky

Don Mancini brings back his killer doll Chucky (Brad Dourif) returning to a storyline that began it all. Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) tries to go on a date but his potential girlfriend googles him to learn about his past. He keeps the head of the murderous doll in a safe talking to it on lonely nights and burning its hair. Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) is transferred to a minimum security psych hospital where her fellow patients expect her of devious actions despite her claims that Chucky murder her family. Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly) shows up at the hospital to inform Nica that her niece died under mysterious circumstances and deliver a Chucky doll. The therapist Dr. Foley (Michael Therriault) takes the doll into his office where comes alive with a blink. 

Chucky starts to sneak around and taunt Nica while Andy tries to convince Dr. Foley that the doll is, in fact, a killer. The other patients are even more suspicious when another patient Angela (Marina Stephenson Kerr) ends up dead. Nica tries to prove she's right by burning the hand of Chucky but it doesn't react, however, another patient Madeleine (Elisabeth Rosen) has taken another Chucky doll as a substitute for her child. Yet another patient, Claire (Grace Lynn Kung) learns that Chucky is alive but Dr. Foley ties her down and drugs her. Malcolm (Adam Hurtig) believes Nica from the beginning but suffers from multiple personality disorder. Chucky uses compressed gas to break open a window above where Claire is strapped down and a falling shard of glass decapitates her.

Alone in his cabin, Andy follows the carnage at the asylum not understanding how another Chucky doll could be causing all these murders. Nica suspects that there is more than one doll killing people but Dr. Foley is skeptical. The therapist hypnotizes her to find out the truth but Chucky smashes his head open and gives Nica a piece of glass. Malcolm continues to switch personalities as Madeleine grows more attached to the doll. Dr. Foley confronts Nica the next day claiming to have a headache and to be insulted by Nica. Tiffany calls Andy as he drives to the asylum and tells him that there are three Chucky's and the cult is growing. Diane tries to suffocate Chucky and her insane actions put her on suicide watch where  Chucky doll forces an arm down her throat.

Dr. Foley makes another go at assaulting Nica but Chucky knocks him over the head again. Andy makes it inside the asylum by being committed and his other doll is given to the therapist. The multiple Chucky dolls come alive killing an orderly in front of Nica. Tiffany also arrives at the asylum slitting the security guard's throat. Chucky says the magic words and takes over Nica's body using it to stomp Dr. Foley's face in. Malcolm has another Charles identity in his head and uses a drill to take it out. The doll Andy brouth in attacks him but Andy hid a gun inside his stomach ripping apart the doll and shooting it in the head. Nica arrives in Andy's padded room taunting him but Andy runs out of bullets. Nica shuts the door on Andy and joins Tiffany. They drive away from the asylum laughing. 

Cult of Chucky is a mediocre latest installment that didn't make it to theaters. The show adds to the magic and mythos giving Chucky a new power while leaving it open for even more Chucky films in the future. The murderous franchise has taken off long breaks until the next installment but it may return for even more movies no longer having to go to theaters and utilizing Netflix. Fiona Dourif is a great addition to the series as she mimics her father's cackle quite well and has made a great new character. Bringing Andy Barclay with Alex Vincent in the role was also a nice tribute to the die-hard fans that have been watching since the beginning. I don't remember seeing the Chucky films all the way through when I was younger but it was nice to revisit. 

Movie Review: Curse of Chucky

Chucky (Brad Dourif) returns with a new look, a more serious tone, and back to the horror genre though it is hard to take the killer doll seriously. Nica (Fiona Dourif) receives a package in the mail, she's not sure it came from but gives it to her mother who ends up dead. Her sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) arrives to take care of her and brings her jealous husband Ian (Brennan Elliott), her daughter Alice (Summer Howell), and her expensive nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell). Barb wants to put her sister in a home for disabled people since she believes Nica can't take care of herself. However, Nica insists that she can take care of herself and even offers to cook dinner for the family and Father Frank (A Martinez), a visiting priest.

The chili that Nica cooks turns out a bit strange thanks to the strange doll sitting nearby. Father Frank excuses himself and ends up dead with all of his limbs and head severed in a brutal car accident. Nica tries to figure out where the doll came from and hears over the phone through a bad transmission that it came from an evidence locker. She does some research learning about all the unsolved murders. Alice and Chucky have grown close as the doll whispers terrible things in the little girl's ear, finally coming alive in front of her and scaring her. Chucky takes out Jill next by pushing over a pale of water into an electrical cord shocking the nanny to death just as she was flirting with Barb over video chat. Barb goes to investigate the strange sight and power outage only to find the Chucky doll. Despite Nica's protest, Barb takes the doll up into the addict where she reveals its scared face underneath before he comes alive and stabs her in the eye.

Chucky chases Nica who flees to Ian who didn't hear anything due to earplugs. He is skeptical of her claims but leaves her alone in the garage to investigate. Chucky sneaks into the garage, locks the door, and starts the car pouring fumes into the enclosed area. Nica uses an ax to break open the window but Chucky snatches the keys and eats them before she can grab them. Ian bursts in and believes that Nica was trying to kill herself after committing two murders. She needs an injection to stop a pain in her chest and sees Chucky staring at her right before she blacks out. She wakes up tied to her wheelchair as Ian check the nannycam to see where his daughter is located. The camera turns into a live feed of Chucky sneaking up behind Nica. The doll pushes Nica into Ian who flips onto the ground. Chucky takes an ax and chops of his lower jaw. 

Nica manages to stop Chucky's attack by deflecting with her legs which lack feeling. She grabs the ax and chops off his head but then turns her back to wrap her leg while he puts his head back on. Chucky grabs her wheelchair and pushes her off the second floor. He walks down and reveals to her that her mother was one of his last victims as a human and he's the reason she doesn't have the use of her legs. Nica taunts and escapes to the elevator while Chuky is distracted by the power coming on. The doll and the woman fight until a police officer arrives. He sees the mayhem and convicts Nica to an asylum. The police officer turns out to be the one that took Chucky to Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) at the start of the fourth film.

The Curse of Chucky adds to Don Mancini's growing work of killer dolls nearly a decade later. The film returns the franchise back to horror after going off the rails with silliness in the last two films. The murders contain a similar amount of gore as the others but with update special effects with the advanced technology. This sixth film in the long series is enjoyable enough but also cliche and somewhat predictable. The film does tie into the previous films nicely and explain a little bit more about the origins of the brutal killer Charles Lee Ray. 

Movie Review: Seed of Chucky

The murderous doll Chucky (Brad Dourif) procreated at the end of the last film so this film picks up with the ugly result Glen (Billy Boyd). Somewhere in England, the ugly doll has nightmares of killing a family and is used by a British ventriloquist to scare crowds and tell crude jokes. In Hollywood, the lifeless Chucky and Tiffany doll are used to make a Chucky movie. Jennifer Tilly voices the Tiffany doll while also playing herself as a struggling actress trying to land a big role. Glen escapes his owner and jumps into a garbage truck. He catches a fly across the Atlantic and arranges a delivery to the Hollywood prop room. He discovers his parents but they are lifeless so he reads the back of his necklace and brings the two murderous dolls back to life. 

The first thing the Tiff and Chucky do is kill a prop manager. Tilly tries to land a role as the Virgin Mary by seducing the director Redman. Once Tiff sees Tilly, who discovers the body, she knows she must get into the actress's body. Glen is unsure of his gender so Tiff refers to him as Glenda since he doesn't have any genitals. He does pee his pants whenever he sees violence and wants to know why his parents kill people. Tiff makes Chucky promise not to kill anyone but he crosses his fingers. The three dolls sneak into Jennifer Tilly's limo and ride with her back to her house where she prepares to seduce Redman. The dolls come up with a plan to artificially inseminate Tilly and to take the two bodies for their own. 

Pete Peters (John Waters) is a snoopy paparazzi photographer who catches the two dolls on camera. Chucky steals Redman's car, runs Britney Spears off the road, and sneaks into the magazine office. Chucky is about to kill the cameraman when Glen shouts out to warn him, stunning Pete who falls back into a bottle of acid. Tiff struggles with her vow not to kill anyone even calling a hotline for support but she can't control her impulses so she stabs Redman when he refuses to cast a pregnant Tilly as the Virgin Mary. Glen can't handle the sight of his mother killing another person. The voodoo pregnancy is accelerated so she shows signs of her baby belly after one day. Jennifer calls her assistant Joan (Hannah Spearritt) but Tiff uses her extraordinarily similar voice to say something different while Chucky attacks her and ties her up.

Glen becomes even more disturbed at his parents' vicious behavior. Since Chucky can't use Redman's body, Tiff summons the limo driver Stan (Steve West) to the house to tie up. Joan arrives as they are about to perform the ceremony. Chucky is about to stab Joan when Tiff uses hairspray and a lighter to burn her, but its actually Glenda who has snapped and decided to be a woman. Jennifer gives birth to twins; a boy and a girl. Chucky tries to do the transfer but Glen can't choose his gender. Chucky decides that he'd rather stay a doll but Tiff decides to leave him. Angry, Chucky kills Stan as the police burst down the door. The officers come across Jennifer still tied to the bed, her two babies, and a  ton of dead bodies. In the hospital, Tiff tries to take Jennifer's body but Chucky bursts in and puts an ax in her head. Glen stands up for his mother and fights Chucky chopping him into pieces. Five years later, Jennifer is possessed by Tiffany and lives the life of a star with her two trouble twins.  

Seed of Chucky is a little too silly stepping more away from horror and into comedy. The movie does still have grisly murders but all of them are tongue-in-cheek. Chucky is still the funniest part but gender confused Glen is also a source of amusement while Tiff's approach to murders as an addiction is good for laughs too. The film does point out the awful culture of Hollywood and the pressure put on female actresses to have sex with their superiors. Chucky has grown his family and his franchise and will continue on for at least two more films. 

Movie Review: Bride of Chucky

Seven years after the end of the Child's Play trilogy and ten years after the death of Charles Lee Ray, Chucky (Brad Dourif) returns thanks to his former girlfriend Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly). Stolen from an evidence locker by a cop whose life ends quickly at the blade of Tiffany, the doll is rebuilt and resurrected in a Voodoo for Dummies ceremony. Chucky takes his first victim, a punk who hangs around Tiffany. Meanwhile, Jade (Katherine Heigl) uses a ploy to get out of the watchful eye of Chief Warren Kincaid (John Ritter). Tiffany hopes to renew her relationship with Chucky foolishly believes that the killer had left an engagement ring but the doll wants no such thing. Tiffany locks him up in a playpen but he breaks out and pushes a television into the bathtub with Tiffany.

Revived as a wedding doll, Tiff and Chucky conspire to dig an amulet up that was around Charles Lee Ray's neck when he died. Tiff recruits Jesse (Nick Stabile), Jade's rebel boyfriend, to transport the dolls to New Jersey. Jesse gets sidetracked when he stops by Jade's and proposes to marry her. Warren tries to sabotage the trip by planting drugs in Jesse's van but Tiff and Chucky have other plans using a new creative method of murder, shooting a bunch of nails into his face. A pulls over Jesse and almost busts him for drugs but Chucky blows the cop car up by lighting a rag in the fuel tank. They set out for New Jersey but stop in Niagara Falls so Jesse and Jade can tie the knot. Chief Kincaid wakes back up but Chucky makes short work of him.

Two con artists try to rob the couple but Tiff throws a bottle at the ceiling mirror dicing up the two thieves. Chucky takes a ring of the dead woman's finger and proposes to Tiff which leads to some pretty funny doll sex since Chucky is anatomically correct. Worried that the other might be a serial killer, Jesse and Jade call their friend David (Gordon Michael Woolvett) so he joins them finding the Cheif's body. David freaks out but steps into traffic when he sees Chucky and Tiffany. They escape a high-speed chase with the police and Chucky takes the young couple hostage. Jesse sparks a debate between Chucky and Tiffany and Jade uses the distraction to kick Tiffany into the oven. Jesse pushes Chucky out the window but wrecks the RV. Tiffany is burnt to a crisp in the oven and Jade is taken hostage by Chucky. 

Jade is forced to open the grave of Charles Lees Ray and pull out the amulet. Jesse tries to trade Tiffany for Jade but ends up with a knife in the back. Chucky performs the ritual so that he and Tiffany can trade bodies with Jesse and Jade but Tiffany doublecrosses him. The two dolls fight and Chucky stabs Tiffany. Jesse knocks Chucky into his grave and Jade shoots him but not before a detective sees the revived doll. The cop lets the couple go but when he pokes Tiffany a little baby doll pops out of her. 

Bride of Chucky ups the camp and pays homage to plenty of other horror films that are part of the canon. The film has a ton of tongue-in-cheek references to its predecessors and other films. It's a fun movie with more humor than horror. There are not any scary scenes but the series has never had a ton of genuinely scary stuff. This fourth installment begins a new set of movies in the series tha move beyond the Child's Play trilogy into even more campy horror territory. 

Movie Review: Child's Play 3

The Child's Play trilogy tops out with a new setting and an old er protagonist. After the events of the first two films, the toy company that produces the Good Guy doll is trying to make a financial recovery and they can't do that without their best selling product, despite the terrible press. The same plastic that consisted of Chucky was melted down and used to make the new dolls. Chucky (Brad Dourif) wakes up in the highrise apartment of the toy company executive Sullivan (Peter Haskell) and uses the surrounding toys including marble and a yo-yo to trip and strangle the old man. Chucky looks up the whereabouts of his one ticket out of being a doll, Andy Barclay (Justin Whalin). Andy has been shipped out to military school where he is roommates with a nerd Whitehurst (Dean Jacobson) and is bullied by the drill leader Shelton (Travis Fine).

Chucky sends himself in a package to the school where he is intercepted from delivery by a young boy Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers). Chucky tries to take the boys soul but the ceremony is interrupted by Colonel Cochrane (Dakin Matthews) who throws the doll away. Chucky smashes the garbage man in the dumpster and sneaks into Andy's room. Andy tries to smash Chucky but Shelton walks in and takes the doll back to his room. Andy sneaks into Shelton's room that night to find Chucky but the doll is missing along with a knife. Shelton exacts punishment on all the cadets making Andy a pariah. Tyler plays hide-and-seek with the knife-wielding Chucky but they are discovered by De Silva (Perrey Reeves) and her friend. They put lipstick on Chucky which enrages the demented children's toy. 

Cochrane returns to his office to find the doll left behind. Chucky comes alive and scares the Colonel giving him a heart attack. Chucky's next victim is the school hairdresser Sergeant Botnick (Andrew Robinson) who attempts to cut the doll's hair but Chucky slashes the straight razor across his throat. Whitehurst sees Chucky but is too afraid to say anything. A large capture-the-flag game plays out over the next few days. The cadets should be using paint cartridges but Chucky replaces them with live ammo. Tyler realizes that Charles is an evil spirit and runs away. Chucky tackles De Silva and calls in the enemy team forcing a deadly confrontation. Whitehurst sacrifices himself to save the team when Chucky throws a live grenade.

Tyler runs to a nearby fair hoping to get away from Chucky but the doll kills the security guard and takes the young boy hostage. Andy and De Silva follow Tyler and Chucky into a haunted ride. Chucky and De Silva exchange gunfire and De Silva is hit. Chucky is maimed by a grim reaper robot losing half his face. Chucky prepares to take over Tyler's body chanting the words but Andy blasts his arm off. Andy's second shot hits Chucky in the heart but the doll revives attack Andy and Tyler. Andy cuts Chucky's hand off with Tyler's knife and the doll plummets into a whirling fan that dices him into pieces. 

Child's Play 3  adds to the campy horror and the mythos of Chucky while retaining the same gruesome murders and comedy. The new setting of the military school added more victims and an even more destructive nature to the rampage of the evil doll. Chucky had a new victim to focus on showing that he had other options besides Andy but it kept the same storyline through the trilogy. The acting wasn't great and the effects are still cheesy but the story of Chucky is fun enough to watch and Dourif's voice does well conveying the monster Charles Lee Ray's identity. This film rounds out the first three Chucky movies signaled the end of the series for most of the nineties but this doll doesn't stay down for too long. 

Movie Review: Child's Play 2

Chucky (Brad Dourif) returns for a new horror in the sequel to the frightening classic original. Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) has been put in foster care as the original story proved too crazy for the authorities. The toy company tries to cover up a PR nightmare by finding out what happened, rebuilding the Chucky doll in the process from the remaining eye. The evil killer takes his first victim by electrocuting a dollmaker. Andy is fostered by Joanne (Jenny Agutter) and Phil Simpson (Gerrit Graham). He still has terrible trauma and the sight of a Good Guy doll terrifies him. Chucky murders the toy company executive Mattson (Greg Germann) and discovers where Andy lives.

Chucky destroys another Good Guy doll and replaces it with himself but he causes trouble for the two foster kids. Andy bonds with Kyle (Christine Elise), a young woman about to be out of the Simpson's foster care in a year, over their shared punishment. Chucky ties up Andy at night and attempts to take his soul but Kyle sneaks back in through his window interrupting the ritual. Phil is angry about the troublesome behavior and throws the doll in the basement. The evil killer sneaks onto the school bus the next day and messes with Andy's assignment. Andy's teacher Miss Kettlewell (Beth Grant) punishes Andy and locks him in the classroom. She throws the Chucky doll in the closet before she leaves. Andy escapes out the window before Chucky can break out. 

When Miss Kettlewell returns, Chucky stabs her with a basketball pump and kills her with a ruler. Phil punishes Andy by showing him the doll who has returned to the same spot. Andy takes it into his own hands and tries to cut Chucky with a carving knife. Phil finds Andy with the carving knife in the basement but as he descends the stairs Chucky hooks his leg and kills him. Horrified, Joanne sends Andy back to the foster home with Grace Poole (Grace Zabriskie). Andy warns Kyle before he leaves and she finds the destroyed Good Guy doll buried out in the yard. She goes back inside to find Joanne dead with her throat slit. Chucky threatens her and makes her take him to Andy. 

Grace takes the Chucky doll from Kyle but gets stabbed. Chucky orders Andy to take him into the back of a newspaper truck and Kyle chases after them. The boy and his doll run into the Good Guy factory and Chucky attempts to complete the transformation but it's too late and he's trapped in the doll. Kyle follows them into the warehouse and helps Andy escape by slamming a door onto Chucky's hand. Kyle and Andy can't get out of the factory, and Chucky replaces his severed hand with a blade. A maintenance worker tries to fix the machine but he's attacked by Chucky and has his eyes poked out by the machine. Chucky attacks Kyle and Andy but they push him onto the conveyor belt where he is soaked in acid. Of course, Chucky isn't dead and still fights until Andy soaks him with molten plastic. Andy saves Kyle and Chucky bursts out to attack them again, this time receiving an air hose to the mouth until he fills up and explodes. 

Child's Play 2 is a solid sequel living up to the original with the same campy horror that is both amusing and slightly disturbing. It doesn't add much to the mythos of Chucky but it continues to entertain in the same fashion. Only a little older, Alex Vincent does a decent job again leading a feature film at such a young age. The added character of Christine Elise's Kyle makes the film a little more of a typical horror and an adult eliminate where Andy's mother did not return. The film is a decent stop along the way of this iconic horror series. 

Movie Review: Child's Play

The classic horror film birthed the iconic character Chucky that haunted children and told a pretty decent spooky story. When the escaped convict Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) is shot in a toy store, he performs a ritual that transfers his soul into the creepy looking Good Guy doll. Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) is a young boy obsessed with the Good Guy show and he really wants a doll for his birthday. His mother Karen (Catherine Hicks) manages to buy one in the back alley and brings it home to her excited son. Karen's friend Maggie (Dinah Manoff) notices strange noises that night when she watches Andy and is hit in the head with a hammer sending her flying out the window. Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon), the same detective who shot Charles Lee Ray, treats Andy like a suspect and hits on Karen.

Karen notices that her son is acting strange and talking to the doll. Listening to the odd instructions whispered by the doll, Andy takes Chucky to an abandoned house. Chucky turns the gas on and blows up his partner in crime in an explosion. The cops find Andy nearby the explosion and take him referring him to the psychiatrist Dr. Ardmore (Jack Colvin). Karen takes the doll home and is about to throw it out when she finds the batteries still in the box even though it has been talking all this time. Karen threatens to burn Chucky and it comes alive biting her on the arm and escaping. Karen tries to convince Detective Norris that the Chucky doll is alive but the cop does not believe her. She heads off to a dangerous neighborhood to find the man that sold the doll to her and Norris follows.

Karen confronts the homeless man who sold her Chucky but is attacked until Norris helps her. They discover the doll came from the burned down toystore where Norris shot Charles Lee Ray. Norris is still skeptical but the Chucky doll attacks him in the car nearly killing him before it runs off. Chucky heads to Dr. Death (Ray Oliver) and learns more about his condition through voodoo torture. Chucky needs to take the body of Andy so he heads to the psych ward where Andy is locked up while Norris and Karen are one step behind. Andy manages to escape but Chucky kills Dr. Ardmore making it look like Andy. 

Andy returns home pursued by Chucky and the boy and the doll fight as Norris and Karen run up the stairs. Chucky attacks them all until Karen traps the doll behind a fireplace grate and Andy sets him on fire. The doll takes forever to kill taking bullets from Norris and Karen and even choking Norris's partner. A shot to the heart finally brings Chucky down and this movie tells a sort of complete story though we know in hindsight that this was only the beginning of a major franchise.

Chucky is not a scary film in comparison with horror movies today but it is an enjoyable watch with a steady moving plot and an iconic villain. It is not lost on writer Don Mancini and director Tom Holland the comedy of a little doll running around terrorizing people and is used effectively to add humor to the gruesome scenes of torture by the doll. There were solid performances from most of the cast but Alex Vincent as Andy and Brad Dourif doing the classic Chucky voice really stand out. I look forward to recapping this series as we move closer to Halloween as there is a new movie that went straight to video and it's Halloween soon. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sports: College Football (Week 8&9)

There wasn't enough movement in the rankings two weeks ago for me to write a whole post about college football so I'll recap the last two weeks. A lot happened this last week to really change the landscape of college football and it sets up a lot of interesting matchups moving forward as nearly every conference has two top teams that will compete either in a regular season game or in a conference final. There is only a month left of football so every big game counts extra in these next four weeks. I wasn't sure how this season would play out and it has followed through being quite a shocking season with new teams showing up while other standard teams who have been dominant the last few years are still in contention. I'll look at each conference and their divisions to see who might be showing up in the College Football Playoffs.

SEC
SEC West
I don't see anyone one beating the Alabama Crimson Tide who started at the top and have stayed that way through the whole season. With eight wins, they are one of five undefeated teams left in the league. Alabama has been blowing out everyone but they haven't played a lot of ranked teams beyond their win over Florida State in the first week of the season. They had a bye week this last week after destroying Tennessee the week before. Looking ahead, they will have some lower ranked opponents like LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn in their final four weeks.

SEC East
The Georgia Bulldogs have stunned me this season by becoming the second-ranked team overall with their powerful play against some great teams. Their early win over Notre Dame propelled them into the top rankings and a follow-up blowout two weeks later over Mississippi State confirmed their position. They have taken out every SEC East opponent, most recently Missouri and Florida. The Bulldogs have a challenge of Auburn and Georgia Tech but I doubt either of these team will prevent them from entering the SEC Championship and moving to the playoffs.

Big Ten
Big Ten East
The Big Ten had an interesting run of games the last two weeks but a sudden comeback and upset has tipped the rankings around in this division. The Ohio State Buckeyes looked to be defeated by the Penn State Nittany Lions when they scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to come back and win. Ohio State now has one loss to Oklahoma that tarnishes their record but if they can win out and triumph in the Big Ten tournament, then they'll get a place in the playoffs. Their biggest challenge in the next four weeks are Michigan State and Michigan who have both been falling off in recent weeks.

Big Ten West
The Wisconsin Badgers are the other undefeated team in the top five who hasn't had enough wins yet to put them at the top of the rankings. Barring any upset, their eight-win record should be enough a platform to build off of making them a contender in the finals. Their biggest challenge will be a fight with Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship. 

Independent
Notre Dame has risen up suddenly to be a contender for a fourth spot in the college football playoffs knocking off another champion from a big conference. Their loss to Georgia in the second week is a blemish on their record but they've put together six consecutive wins since then including over top-ranked USC and NC State. They still have challenges ahead like undefeated Miami and Stanford but these wins will also propel them up the rankings to a top spot.

ACC
Atlantic

Clemson suffered a rough loss to Syracuse two weeks ago but after a bye week and a win over Georgia Tech, the reigning champs can still make the playoffs as they lost a bad game last year and still went on to win it all. They'll face a tough battle with NC State next week but after that, they should be able to cruise into the ACC Championship. 

Coastal
The Miami Hurricanes have yet to earn the respect of the ranking committees as the Coaches' Poll has them at sixth and the AP has them down at nine. Still, two rankings in the top ten are great for a team that wasn't getting a lot of early attention. Their path ahead is not an easy one with Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in the next two weeks. Miami could prove that they are deserving of a spot in the playoffs.

Big 12
Iowa State may not make it into the college football playoffs but after a defeat of Oklahoma and now TCU this last week, they are good at playing spoiler to other Big 12 team hopes. Still, Oklahoma may have a chance if they can beat Oklahoma State next week and TCU the week after that. There is also a Big 12 championship to consider as one of these teams fights to prove they are ready for the playoffs.

The PAC-12 has pretty much been eliminated from any chance of entering the playoffs. Washington has one bad loss but they would need to win out while others lose badly. College football heads into November with the final four weeks of the season that will provide a lot of suspense, great games, and great football action. My prediction is that the SEC gets two teams into the playoffs and Ohio State and Clemson also slip in. I look forward to seeing how it all plays out. 

Movie Review: Jigsaw

The franchise that appeared dead and over returns to life with a mediocre entry that has a predictable and boring twist and a moderate amount of gore compared to some of the other gross films. Jigsaw sets itself apart from the previous franchise picking up a story ten years after the death of John Kramer (Tobin Bell). The story does utilize multiple timelines as it has done in other films to confuse the viewer but since this has happened several times before the shock has worn off. Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) is called to a chase when a perp Edgar Munsen (Josiah Black) demand he speak with him. Edgar claims that if he presses the button on a transmitter then the game will begin and right as he does, five people wake up with buckets on their head and chains around their necks.

Halloran and his partner Detective Keith Hunt (Clé Bennett) shoot Edgar in the hand but one bullet hits him in the chest. He's put into a coma so they can't get any answers. Bodies do start showing up around the city. Medical examiner Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) is called in to look at the victims finding a microchip in the puzzle piece wound on the decapitated man's neck. His colleague Eleanor Bonneville (Hannah Emily Anderson) has a strange fascination with Jigsaw and his murders making Halloran suspect there might be something more there. The five people in the main trap all have to put blood on their bucket head sensors or their chains will drag them into the spinning saws. Four of the five make it out but the fifth is dragged into the saws.

The four remaining victims include Carly (Brittany Allen) a purse-snatcher who let a woman die without her asthma medication for three dollars and fifty-three cents. She has a poison in her body that another victim Ryan (Paul Braunstein) has the cure for in one of three syringes if she can decide which one. Jigsaw wants them all to confess to their crimes but each of them seems reluctant. Ryan injects Carly with all three of the fluids including one that kills her a bloody death. They were about to be hung by the chains around their necks but when Carly is injected, they are dropped to the ground. The next room has a sign on a door that says NO EXIT but Ryan steps forward to smash open the door. Instead, his foot crashes through the wood and a wire is wrapped around his leg.

The other two victims Mitch (Mandela Van Peebles) and Anna (Laura Vandervoort) move into the next room, a grain silo when the door swings shut behind them, a classic move from the previous films in the series. Grain starts to pour in and will only stop if Ryan pulls a lever that will cut off his legs. Even as blades and spikes fall down on Mitch and Anna, Ryan is reluctant to pull the lever but he finally does and his leg is sliced into pieces as the other two are let out. Logan confronts Eleanor about her obsession and she shows him his studio where she has made several Jigsaw weapons. Detective Hunt trailed them and takes pictures of the interaction among the torture devices. Hunt worked with Logan in Iraq where Logan was captured and tortured. Meanwhile, Mitch has to go through another test because he sold Jigsaw's nephew a motorcycle with brakes that don't work. He is diced up even as Anna tries to save him.

Halloran suspects Eleanor and they search her studio finding another dead body. They put out a search and Hunt confronts Logan about what he saw, but Logan explains that he thinks it's Halloran doing the killing. Eleanor takes Logan to the farm where she believes the murders took place. John Kramer drugs and chains up Anna and Bryan, who is missing a leg. He gives them an option with a gun with one bullet in it. Anna shoots at Bryan but the gun backfires and blows her face off and since the bullet contained the keys, their freedom was denied. Halloran trails Eleanor and Logan to the farmhouse and he confronts them but he is drugged and tied up in the same spot as Anna and Bryan. Logan is also tied up and they are wearing collars with laser cutters. Halloran betrays Logan but it turns out that Logan is the killer. The trap was playing out ten or so years ago as Kramer's first Jigsaw game and Logan was the first victim but Kramer had a change of heart. Jigsaw continues the series but it is a weaker installment with not as much a connection to the earlier series. The story and mystery were not nearly as interesting and the gore seemed less creative than before. This film feels like a cash grab more than an actual attempt to revive the franchise. 

Movie Review: Saw 3D: The Final Chapter

Not predicting human behavior very well, the creators of this film believed it to be the last of the franchise so they went more for spectacle while dropping significantly in quality. Jigsaw murders happened way more frequently and some of them are used as a disturbing performance art in public spaces. The first trap has two competing lovers trying to decide who will sacrifice themselves for the woman they both claim to love only to let her be sawed in half. Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell) was unable to kill Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) who escapes and sews his face back together. Jill goes to the police hoping to expose Mark but she's haunted by nightmare after she confesses. 

Several traps play out ass Jigsaw takes his revenge on racists and liars. Detective Gibson (Chad Donella) is the only police officer Jill can trust. He discovers another Jigsaw trap that is overly outlandish and receives a taunting message from Hoffman. Bobby Degan (Sean Patrick Flanery) leads support groups for Jigsaw survivors and promotes his survival story as a memoir. He is confronted by Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes), a survivor of the first film. Bobby is then assaulted by a pig-masked figure and wakes up in the main trap of the film. It turns out that Bobby had been lying about his story of survival so he must go through a series of tests. He has to pull a fish hook out of his publicist's stomach through her mouth without making a certain amount of loud noise and prevent a machine from piercing the eyes of his lawyer by lifting another painful device. Bobby is not very good at saving any of the victims.

Hoffman continues to taunt Gibson and demands that the detective give up Jill Tuck. Bobby has to help his best friend by guiding him across a hallway full of boards blindfolded but he fails when he throws his friend the key and it drops to the floor, leaving Cale to hang. Gibson has a history with Hoffman who saved his life back when he was a uniform cop. He was assaulted by a bum but Hoffman shot the man before he could attack Gibson. Following more clues, Gibson figures out where the trap is playing out just as Bobby has to do some awful dental work to find the combination. The police follow Bobby's trail coming across the victims of Jigsaw latest trap. Gibson gets a call and heads back to the junkyard where an earlier Jigsaw trap had gruesomely played out. 

Jigsaw's final test for Bobby to save his wife Joyce (Gina Holden) and himself is to carry out the trap that he had lied so easily about to garner fame. Hoffman is one step ahead of Gibson having tapped into the security cameras back at the police station so he fools them with a dead body and sets an automated machine gun to kill him. Hoffman hid in a body bag to infiltrate the police station. He stabs and shoots his way through the remaining officers and makes it to Jill's cell but she stabs a pen in his neck to escape. Bobby fails at his last task and Joyce is burnt alive. Hoffman catches Jill and attaches the reverse bear trap to her jaw splitting her face open with extra splatter. Hoffman blows up the evidence and is about to get away when three pig-masked figure assault. Dr. Gordon had been helping Jigsaw this whole time pull off these complicated surgical procedures. Hoffman is left chained to a pipe in the room where the first film took place. 

Saw 3D goes more for gimmicks than solid plotting with the formula laid out in the previous films still being followed here. The story concludes the rampage of Mark Hoffman but keeps open the possibility that another follower of Jigsaw could take over in his stead. The film had a lot of over-the-top deaths but was gruesome enough to have me cringing and feeling sick just from watching. The franchise looked to be at an end with a final chapter but the only reason I'm revisiting these disgusting films is because yet another entry is coming out in theaters. Revisiting the Saw series has been something, both disturbing and entertaining as the mystery always made me want to keep watching but the gore was often too much. 
  

Movie Review: Saw VI

Jigsaw returns for the sixth time to further the horror story and continue the gruesome conquest of punishing those the killer deems guilty in terrible ways. Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) carries on the legacy of John Kramer (Tobin Bell) but he has to work harder to cover his tracks. Dan Erikson (Mark Rolston) leads the FBI investigation though he has a misguided belief that a former agent is guilty. He kept it a secret that Agent Lindsey Perez (Athena Karkanis) had survived a Jigsaw attack back in the fourth film. John's ex-wife Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell) holds on to a box of Kramer's last wishes but hands over the folders inside when Hoffman demands them. This installment is about Jigsaw continuing his revenge even after he has died.

William Easton (Peter Outerbridge) is the focus of this film's terrifying puzzle. He is attacked in his office and wakes up attached to a breathing machine. His decisions at the health insurance company have resulted in people dying so his first task is to hold his breath against a chronic smoker or whoever breaths will have their abdomen squeezed. William makes it out of this test but has to continue forward or explosive bracelets and anklets will explode his limbs. He also must continue forward because his family is held in a cage with a tank of acid above it. It looks like an abandoned zoo and his next step is in a glass observatory. He must choose between his older secretary with her family or a lonely intern. He chooses the intern to die by releasing a chain that makes the young man hang by barbed wire. His third task is to help a lawyer through a maze by stopping steam jets but in the process, he'll get burned. He helps the lawyer through but balks when she tries to cut a key out of his side. A device goes off ripping open her skull. 

Hoffman has to continue to carry out Jigsaw wishes and assist in the investigation, which is closing in on the true identity of the killer. Flashbacks show how Hoffman helped Kramer to lift the bodies and prepare for his death. Kramer begged William Easton to allow him to take an experimental treatment but the insurance executive refused to pay for this cure that is outside the bounds of the policy. Pamela Jenkins (Samantha Lemole) is an investigative journalist who wrote a book on John Kramer's life. She tries to interview his wife Jill but is turned away and attacked in the hallway only to wake up in a cage with acid hanging above her. William's final task is a carousel of his six best policy readers who have a shotgun aimed at one of them when it stops. William must choose two save two of them and let the rest die. He makes his decision and moves tot he final cage.

The family of a man who William turned down for money is in one cage while Pamela Jenkins, William's sister is in the other. The wife can't decide but the man's son pulls the lever which shoots down needles into his back that inject acid. Hoffman is nearly caught by Agent Perez and Erikson but kills them both and returns to his monitors of the awful trap. Jill kept one last envelope and carries out the instructions to add one last test for Hoffman. The cop turned serial killer manages to dull the effects of the trap and only rips off apart of his cheek. Hoffman had foiled some of Jigsaw's plans because of his knowledge of what Amanda had done to Kramer's wife. The sixth film, like the others, ends abruptly.

Saw VI did not have quite an impressive twist as many of the others as the series appears to be running out of steam. It has always been a bit unbelievable that the traps were so intricate yet worked flawlessly and Hoffman staying ahead of the investigation and walking away from gruesome crimes so easily. The film continues the revenge of John Kramer and does not let up on the high level of gore. Jigsaw still has two more movies in the tank already released and this series may go on forever as long as the writers can come up with another deranged character to keep creating these awful puzzles. The unique part of this film was that it had some cultural commentary about predatory lenders and insurance companies. While the quality has steadily declined, the story is terrifying enough to keep the franchise going.  

Movie Review: Saw V

The fifth installment of the prolific and grotesque horror series picks up where the previous film left off but this time whoever is carrying out the terrible Jigsaw murders is not giving any mercy to the victims even after they comply with the sick rules. Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) stumbled onto the scene of the third film and was set to die but made a last minute decision to puncture his throat so he can breathe while his head is trapped in a box full of water. Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) is surprised to see that someone has survived the horrors of Jigsaw. Jill (Betsy Russell), the wife of John Kramer (Tobin Bell), is given a box of John's belongings after his death. Hoffman must cover up his role in Jigsaw latest puzzle even as he receives a note that someone knows his identity. With a hole in his throat healing, Strahm suspects Hoffman of some wrongdoing.

The main trap of this film starts with five people tied together. They each have on a collar that will pull their head back into a sharp blade. There are boxes with keys on them that they can only reach if they hurt someone else. Charles (Carlo Rota) seems to know something about the other victims. Mallick (Greg Bryk) goes for the key first but Charles pulls him back and gets his own key first. Four of them make it out while one woman has her head cut off. Dan Erikson (Mark Rolston) tells Strahm to take time off but the FBI agent pursues his investigation of Hoffman learning that the detective's sister was murdered by a man who was sliced in half in the first scene by a scythe. The four survivors learn more about each other. Luba (Meagan Good) is the daughter of a wealthy sports team owner, Charles is a reporter, Mallick a trust fund kid, and Brit (Julie Benz) just has a boring job in real estate.

The second trap makes them smash glass jars to find keys and get out of a room before an explosion burns anyone inside. Charles beats up Mallick and smashes the jars but as he tries to take the last key, he is hit over the head by Luba and left to burn. A flashback shows how John Kramer recruited Hoffman. Strahm revisits the old cases figuring out how Hoffman helped Kramer catch his victims and elude the police. They return to the previous films showing how Hoffman pointed the investigation in the wrong direction that served Jigsaw's purpose. The third task requires the victims to attach electrical cords to a bathtub. Luba tries to take out Mallick but Brit stabs her in the neck. Brit and Mallick use Luba's body to conduct the current and move to the next room. Hoffman is monitoring this latest game and leading Erikson to suspect Strahm.

Britt and Mallick learn that they all could have survived if they hadn't double-crossed each other. They had to move out of each previous room to avoid a nail-bomb that exploded after fifteen minutes. Strahm follows Hoffman just as Erikson tracks his phone. Mallick confesses that he started a fire in what he thought was an abandoned building and Britt admits she led him to do that while the other three victims helped in the cover-up. They both put their hands into the holes with running saws in order to fill up a jar with blood and open the door. Strahm walks into a room and finds a tape from Hoffman. Erikson enters the room where Hoffman had been planning the awful game and finds Britt barely alive. Strahm believes he has turned the table on Hoffman by locking him in the glass box full of broken glass but the box is actually the only way out of a room that has walls that come together. 

Saw V continues to explain how Kramer pulled off all these complex tortures diminishing some of the mystique and horror behind Jigsaw's games. The mystery was still pretty interesting while the gore is at a high enough level to appeal to horror fans. While maybe not the best acted, the investigation by Strahm was the most interesting part for me while the gruesome games have become a bit repetitive at this point. The Saw franchise has still managed to go strong for five films which is pretty impressive. This horror series isn't the easiest to watch but the mystery is compelling enough to get through the sick traps and each film has had a solid twist. 

Movie Review: Saw IV

The fourth installment in the gruesome series picks up with the autopsy of the brutal killer Jigsaw aka John Kramer (Tobin Bell). A tape is discovered in his stomach after he covered it in wax and swallowed it during the events of the third film. Lt. Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) hears the killer's voice tell him the game have just begun before the film cuts to two men chained together with a strange machine in the center. One man has his eyes sewed shut and the other has his mouth sewed shut. The two men fight until the man with his mouth sewed shut kills the other to get a key and free himself. Lt. Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent) is distraught when he finds the body of Detective Kerry. The FBI gets involved in the case through Agent Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) and Agent Lindsey Perez (Athena Karkanis). 

Rigg is still trying to search for Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) but after his wife leaves him, he's attacked in his apartment. He wakes up to find a video of Detective Matthew and Lt. Hoffman tied up and is given a challenge by the Jigsaw puppet. His first test is to save a woman whose hair is being pulled through a ring by the killer's vicious machine. She is half scalped when she  is set free but she tries to kill Rigg who manages to fight her off and discover that she too has a Jigsaw tape. Meanwhile, the FBI has found Rigg's fingerprints on a shell casing. In a flashback, a large figure is seen imprisoning Detective Matthews for the six months he's been missing. The FBI enter Rigg's apartment and find the picture of six people. The one that stands out to Agent Strahm is Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell), Kramer's ex-wife. 

Rigg goes to a motel that's name was on a key he's given and he finds that spooky pig mask used in the previous three films. The next Jigsaw tape points out another target, the motel front desk worker. The motelier is forced to poke out his own eyes before his body is torn apart. The FBI is one step behind Rigg.  More of Kramer's past is revealed like his relationship with Jill who ran a clinic with the motto Jigsaw uses "Cherish Your Life" and his interactions with former Jigsaw victims. Jill loses their child when a crazed clinic patient hurts her. A past case also haunts Rigg who is directed to return to a closed down elementary school where another ruthless Jigsaw game has played out with the perpetrators of that past abuse case. Rigg is starting to catch on to what he has to do but the FBI who arrive behind him are ambushed and Agent Perez is hit in the face with an explosive.

The lawyer Art Blank (Louis Ferreira) arrives at the building where Matthews and Hoffman are held captive and his name shows up as the owner of the buildings where these horrors take place. The first act of the Jigsaw killer is shown through a flashback. The movie's climax brings together Agent Strahm, Rigg, and Jeff (Angus Macfadyen) with all the captives. The twist is confusing since Agen Strahm and Mark Hoffman look so alike but it ties into the first scene since that was Art with his lips sewn shut who now has a crazy tool attached to his back. Jeff encounters Mark right after he kills Jigsaw and was convinced to work for him. All Brigg had to do was not investigate the capture of Detective Matthews. The timelines really tricked me because this film is actually happening at the same time of the previous film and the autopsy is actually happening later. Mark Hoffman has taken up the cause of Jigsaw and the tape he found in the stomach was only furthering Jigsaw's purpose.

Saw IV impressed more than I thought it would and while the story is pretty confusing upon further thought, it's pulled off pretty well. This fourth installment lives up to the previous films and is actually a step above the previous one though ties into that one well. Not only does it serve well as a direct sequel to the previous film but pays homage to the earlier two films. The mythos of Jigsaw grows even larger as we learn more about Kramer's past and a new person to carry on the legacy. I'm looking forward to the second half of the franchise as it crossed over the halfway point pretty strongly. 

Movie Review: Saw III

Moving the franchise into a trilogy, the third brutal torture horror film explains a bit more how Jigsaw pulls off the sick games while showing even more gore. The film begins with Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) breaking his leg in an attempt to escape captivity. Detective Kerry (Dina Meyer) searches for Eric but she also falls victim to Jigsaw's awful torture. The main story consists of John Kramer (Tobin Bell) and his pupil Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith) kidnapping a surgeon Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) in order to keep John alive. Jigsaw wants to oversee one last game before he finally passes away so attaches a deadly necklace to Lynn's neck that has shotgun cartridges all around it and will go off if John's heart rate stops.

The test revolves around Jeff (Angus Macfadyen) who must go through a series of awful tortures. He lost his son in a drunk driving accident and has never recovered. His first test is to help the woman who witnessed his son's death, Danica (Debra McCabe), from freezing to death. She is hung up naked in a frozen locker and has water sprayed on her periodically unless Jeff grabs a key. He burns his cheek grabbing the key but doesn't save her in time. The next round is the judge who let the killer go, Judge Halden (Barry Flatman). The Judge will be drowned in rotten pig guts if Jeff doesn't burn his son's possessions to get the key. 

Amanda does not get along with Lynn but she needs to keep the surgeon alive so she can cure Kramer. Lynn doesn't think she can relieve the pressure on his brain but Amanda steals the supplies needed to perform the surgery. In one of the most disturbing scenes, Lynn drills holes in Kramer's skull and saws off a piece to relieve the pressure. Jeff saves the Judge and they move to the third round where Jeff's son's killer Tim (Mpho Koaho) is stuck on a torture machine that twists his limbs. Jeff manages to get the key but triggers a shotgun that blasts the Judge and doesn't free Tim in time. 

Amanda thinks back on how she helped Jigsaw pull off all the elaborate crimes from the original and the sequel. Kramer orders Amanda to let Lynn go but Amanda admits that she killed Detective Matthews breaking Jigsaw's code. Amanda shoots Lynn just as Jeff arrives in the surgery room and it shows that Jeff is Lynn's husband. Jeff shoots Amanda in the neck and Kramer explains how she failed him in taking on the Jigsaw legacy. Jeff is given a choice to save his wife's life and Kramer's or let them die. Jeff slices Kramer's throat killing his wife but before Jigsaw dies he plays a tape that tells Jeff that his daughter is still held captive.

Saw III increases the violence of the sickening Jigsaw series with even more brutal torture murders and awful choices. The film also continues the tradition of having a plot changing twist at the end that makes previous events clear. The ending leaves the series at a crossroads with a conclusion that kills the monster villain but leaves another test to solve. This film was the last of the Saw series that I kept up with but revisiting it, I liked it a little more than I had the first time.

Movie Review: Saw II

The ruthless, manipulative killer is back at it in this twisted horror sequel. Jigsaw's evil is exposed in the first scene where a man must choose between carving out his eye or having a deathmask full of spikes close on his head. The man makes the wrong decision and leaves a crime scene to be investigated by Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg). The body had puzzle pieces carved out of it. His ex-partner Detective Allison Kerry (Dina Meyer) tries to convince Matthews to work with her on the case. He can't help it and figures out a clue that leads to a SWAT team raid on a booby-trapped hideout and the surrender of John Kramer (Tobin Bell). Jigsaw takes the upper hand when he reveals a set of monitors that show a group of people captures including Matthews's son Daniel (Erik Knudsen).

The eight people trapped in the factory all wake up with no knowledge of how they got there. Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith) is familiar with how Jigsaw operates having survived the ordeal before. She finds a tape recorder hidden in the wall which plays the tape of Jigsaw rules. They only have two hours after breathing in a deadly nerve agent and must find an antidote by solving the killer's riddle. Xavier Chavez (Franky G) disobey the order and a man has his head blown off as a result. Matthews must watch his son and the other victims explored the house in search of a way out. It is revealed on another tape that Obi Tate (Timothy Burd) kidnapped the others so he has to crawl into a furnace to get an antidote. He's gets burned alive. 

The SWAT leader Lt. Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent) wants to move forward but the cops have no clue how to find the victims as Matthews tries to convince Kramer to let his son go. Jigsaw's next challenge is for Xavier to crawl in a pit of needles to find a key but Xavier throws Amanda into the pit so she must search through the syringes. The timer goes off before they can open the door wasting Amanda's effort. As the effects of the nerve gas worsen, Xavier fights Jonas (Glenn Plummer) smashing a spiked bat into the back of his head and discovering that the number for the combination is on the back of each victims neck. Before she dies Laura (Beverley Mitchell) sees an X on a picture frame that reveals a clue. Addison (Emmanuelle Vaugier) and the others were arrested by Detective Matthews, Daniel's dad.

Eric Matthews takes matters into his own hands beating up John Kramer. Amanda and Daniel try to escape Xavier as Addison puts her hand into a trap box to get a syringe of the antidote. Xavier takes advantage of her helpless state to get the number off her neck but then leaves her to suffer. Detective Matthews helps Jigsaw escape believing that the killer will take the cop to his son. Amanda and Daniel prevent Xavier from getting into a room and find a trap door in the floor. They find themselves in the room from the first film. Detective Matthews enters the house finding the dead bodies. The SWAT team traces the signal of the camera to an empty house. Amanda convinces Xavier to cut the skin off the back of his own neck to learn his number. Daniel pretends to be passed out and uses one of the saws to cut Xavier's throat. The SWAT team learns that the monitors were actually playing a recording. Eric enters the room from the original but he's too late. A masked killer injects him with a substance that knocks him out while a safe opens back at the warehouse where they found Kramer to reveal Daniel inside. Eric is trapped in the same room as Amanda leaves a tape for him. She had been helping Kramer the whole time to pull off their latest macabre crime.

Saw II keeps the interesting twists of the first one and enough callbacks to be a solid sequel while still standing on its own. The traps are still gruesome and hard to watch as Jigsaw's disturbing plans play out. The movie relies more on the horror than any acting performance or solid directing. The story adds enough trap to keep the plot moving forward and the twist is enough of a payoff to sit through the disgusting images, though the memory of the film is a lot worse than the actual violence. The second Saw film escalates the franchise and shows that the film can be more than just one good story. 

Movie Review: Saw

This clever horror film set off one of the more gruesome and disturbing horror franchise to date that found a  ton of success in its run and has sparked a new film to be released this Halloween. James Wan's gory mystery begins with two men waking up in a room with no idea how they got there. Adam Faulkner-Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) finds a tape in his pocket along with a dead body in the center of the room. He reasonably freaks out as his leg is chained to pipes. The other man in the room Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) is also chained to pipes and has a tape in his pocket. The dead man in the middle of the room has a tape recorder in one hand and a gun in the other. Adam drags the tape recorder and listens to his tape that tells him he is going to die. Dr. Gordon's tape threatens his wife and children if he does not kill Adam by a certain time.

Dr. Gordon knows of this modus operandi as he was the suspect in a similar murder case. Detective David Tapp (Danny Glover) and Detective Steven Sing (Ken Leung) investigate a string of brutal murders where the victims were forced to perform ridiculous tasks that usually resulted in them dying or being so traumatized that survival was difficult. Lawrence Gordon's penlight was discovered at a scene so he was brought in for questioning. The doctor had to admit he was having an affair to establish an alibi. He is kept on as a consultant and hears more about the sickening murders. The two men work to solve the clues they are given finding a pair of saws and more clues.

Dr. Gordon's family is kidnapped but across the street watching Detective Tapp who has become obsessed with finding the killer. Detective Tapp came close to finding the killer but he escaped killing Detective Sing in the process. The captured men find another clue that leads to a cell phone with no service and a cigarette. The man who captures Lawrence's family is Zep Hindle (Michael Emerson), an orderly at the hospital where Dr. Gordon works. The doctor pretends to kill Adam but the chain electrocutes him. Adam remembers how he got there as Dr. Gordon gets a call from his wife warning him not to believe Adam. It is revealed that Adam was taking pictures of Dr. Gordon for Detective Tapp. 

Time runs out and Zep attempts to kill Dr. Gordon's wife Alison (Monica Potter) but she steals the gun from him. Detective Tapp bursts and exchanges fire with Zep. The cop chases the kidnapper back to an abandoned warehouse as Dr. Gordon is shocked by the chain. The doctor decides to cut off his foot with the saw to escape the chain. Tapp catches but is shot in the fight over the gun. Free from his bond, Lawrence grabs the gun, loads a bullet, and shoots Adam. Zep comes in to find the carnage. He prepares to kill Lawrence but Adam is still alive and stops him. Dr. Gordon crawls out the room with his one leg promising to bring help back. Adam searches Zep's dead body to find a tape recorder. The dead body in the middle of the floor stands up to reveal Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) aka John, a patient of Dr. Gordon, who had been watching the whole time. Jigsaw leaves Adam screaming for help.

Saw has an amazing plot with tons of twists and one final one that shocked me the first time I saw it. It is a fun movie to revisit to see how the pieces all fit together. The first film does have some gore but does not buy into the same gruesome shock horror of the sequels. The film introduced me to James Wan who went on to make some of my favorite horror films. This first film was only the beginning but it is my favorite of the ones that I have seen. I look forward to revisiting the first few and finishing off the series before the new one in theaters. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sports: MLB (World Series)


The World Series this year will have two teams from West divisions facing off with great pitching and stellar hitting. The Los Angeles Dodgers are my pick to win this year and so far they've only lost one game this postseason. They have home field advantage due to a rule change that gives the team with the best record the four games in their stadium. The Dodgers also have more recent postseason experience but have been foiled in recent years. The Houston Astros have improved dramatically over the last few years from one of the worst teams in baseball, an embarrassment, to a powerhouse with the strongest pitching lineup and a powerful offense. The Astros had to battle all the way to game seven to get out of the American League but I'm not sure if that will leave them exhausted or energized. Houston, the city, has been through a lot this year so I'm sure a huge win here would be truly inspiring. October is a great time for sports and the MLB Postseason is a big reason.



Game 1
The Dodgers sparked early with a first-pitch home run from Chris Taylor (CF) off of Dallas Keuchel. Clayton Kershaw kept the Astros contained until Alex Bregman (3B) homered in the fourth inning to tie the game 1-1. Both pitchers didn't let up more than a run until the sixth inning when Justin Turner (3B) hit a two-run home run to put the Dodgers up 3-1. The Los Angeles Dodgers won the first game of the World Series.
Game 2
The Dodgers looked to sweep the first two home games but the Astros struck first with a single by Alex Bregman (3B) to go up 1-0 in the third. Joc Pederson (LF) homered in the 5th to tie the game 1-1. Corey Seager (SS) put the Dodgers up the next inning with a two-run home run to make it 3-1. Astros began mounting their come back in the 8th with a single from  Carlos Correa (SS) to narrow the lead to 3-2. Marwin Gonzalez (LF) homered in the ninth to tie the game 3-3. The extra innings were crazy as the Astros jumped up in front with back-to-back home runs from Jose Altuve (2B) and Correa to make it 5-3. The Dodgers bounced back in the bottom of the tenth when Yasiel Puig (RF) homered and a single from Enrique Hernandez to make it 5-5. George Springer (CF) hit a two-run home run in the 11th to make it 7-5. The Dodgers almost came back with a home run from Charlie Culberson but only made it 7-6. The Houston Astros win an astounding game to tie the series.

Game 3
Capitalizing after a win in Los Angeles, the Astros return to Houston and start an early game rally in the 2nd. Yuli Gurriel started the rally with a home run then he made some racist gesture which got him suspended for only four games during next year's regular season. Marwin Gonzales singled, Brian McCann (C) singled, and Alex Bregman (3B) hit a sac-fly to put the Astros up 4-0. The Dodgers chipped away at the lead when Corey Seager grounded into a double-play but Joc Pederson scored to make it 4-1. Evan Gattis (DH) singled in a run in the 5th to make it 5-1. Puig grounded out but knocked in a run and the Dodgers scored another on a wild pitch in the sixth to make it 5-3. The Houston Astros win their first game at home to take a 2-1 series lead. 
Game 4
Undefeated at home in the postseason, the Houston Astros scored first in the 6th inning with a home run from George Springer to go up 1-0. The Dodgers tied when Logan Forsythe (2B) singled in the 7th to go 1-1. A ninth-inning rally for the Dodgers including a double by Cody Bellinger (1B), a sac-fly from Austin Barnes (C), and a three-run home run from Joc Pederson (CF) to make it 6-1. The Astros only managed to get one back with an Alex Bregman (3B0 home run to end the game down 6-2. The Los Angeles Dodgers tied the season at 2 games in Houston.  
Game 5
Looking to capitalize on their first win in Houston and having their best pitcher Clayton Kershaw on the mound, the Dodgers struck first with a bases-loaded single from Logan Forsythe and adding an extra run on an error to make it 3-0. Austin Barnes (C) singled in the fourth to drive in Forsythe to make it 4-0. The Astros finally got on the board with a rally in the bottom of the 4th with Carlos Correa hitting a double and Yuli Gurriel hitting a homer to tie it at 4-4. The Dodgers jumped back ahead in the 5th with a three-run home run from Cody Bellinger (1B) to make it 7-4. Jose Altuve hit a three-run home run of his own to tie the game in the 5th 7-7. Bellinger tripled in the 7th to drive in a run to go up 8-7 Dodgers. The Astros rallied in response with a home run from George Springer (CF), a double from Altuve, and another home run from Correa to go up 11-8. Corey Seager doubled in a run in the top of the 8th to shorten the lead 11-9. Brian McCann homered in the bottom of the 8th to make it 12-9. Los Angeles rallied to stay alive with a two-run home run from Yasiel Puig and a single Chris Taylor to tie the game at 12-12. Alex Bregman drove in the game-winning run with a single in the 10th to lead the Astros to win at 13-12. The Houston Astros win the fifth game of the series to go up 3-2 and only one win away from being champions. 
Game 6
Returning to Los Angeles with the Astros in the lead, Houston scored first with a George Springer home run in the 3rd to go up 1-0. The Dodger would have all the rest of the offense with a rally in the sixth including a single from Chris Taylor and a Corey Seager sac-fly to go up 2-1. Joc Pederson homered in the 7th for the last run of the game as the Dodgers won 3-1. The Los Angeles Dodgers tied the series at 3-3 and forced a game seven.  
Game 7
With the World Series on the line, the Houston Astros came out hot with their first run from a throwing and a second from a Jose Altuve groundout to lead 2-0 in the first inning. The Astros added it on in the 2nd with a groundout from pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. and a two-run home run from George Springer to grow the lead to 5-0.

TV Show Review: Mindhunter

Netflix's new crime drama explores the origin of the term "serial killer" as it explores the development of behavioral science at the FBI. Holden Ford (Jonathan Goff) is a hostage negotiator that has had a bad run of luck understanding these new types of crimes without a clear motive. A conversation with an expert gives him interesting ideas and when he meets a graduate student Debbie Mitford (Hannah Gross). She opens his mind to new sociological questions that pushes him to new methods of teaching. Unit Chief Shepard (Cotter Smith) is skeptical of this new take but allows him to start taking classes at the nearby university. The first episodes are a bit slow as David Fincher directs the first two and definitely leaves his imprint on the series but the series picks up as the main conceit begins to play out.

Holden is recruited by Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) to be a part of the behavioral science division. Bill teaches local law enforcement techniques of the FBI and consults on unique cases of a brutal nature. Holden uses his FBI credentials to gain access to Edmund Kemper (Cameron Britton) who is willing to discuss his vicious murders. Shepard discourages this approach to violent criminals but Holden believes the information could help them stop these murders in the future.  The study expands as they recruit academic Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) to help them turn the interviews into something more scientific. Wendy pushes for more interviews and a focus on the data while the two agents work to solve cases in all the places they visit to teach police and learn from killers. They begin to classify the different types of criminals and come up with a language of which to speak about the deranged personalities. They received funding from the Justice Department that makes their progress more legitimate.

An exceptionally difficult case has the Holden and Bill returning to Pennsylvania where their profiling discovers a murder involving a whole family. Wendy struggles with moving to Washington D.C. full time to work at Quantico as her liberal girlfriend in Boston looks down on the FBI. She decides to make the move and becomes curious about a cat outside the laundry room window and so she feeds, the opposite behavior the study is discovering killer exhibit towards small animals. Holden becomes suspicious of a school principal who is tickling kids. He believes the man exhibits the same characteristics as killers and doesn't want to risk allowing a crime to happen. His investigation ruins the life of the man and his self-centered focus on his work causes issues with his relationship to Debbie.

The investigation takes a toll on all the team as Tench argues with his wife since their adoptive son in uncommunicative and stumbles upon a gruesome picture in his home office. Wendy is approached by Shepard since there have been complaints by the murderers against the FBI, especially Holden and his strange approach to get killers to talk. The team adds a new member of Gregg Smith (Joe Tuttle) who rubs Holden the wrong way and eventually rats him out when asked to lie about a recording of an interview. Holden's life spins out of control as Bill refuses to go on interviews anymore and Debbie breaks up with him. Holden goes to the hospital to speak with Edmund and has to run out in fear. Throughout the show, a silent killer prepares for murder but these separate scenes never come to anything in this season.

Mindhunter is one of my favorite shows of the year utilizing Fincher's style to explore the horrifying true story of the origin of the study of serial killers. Goff is great as the optimistic young agent who slowly turns bolder as the effects of the awful stories take their toll. Holt McCallany plays my favorite character Bill Tench whose gruff responses to the killers answer counters well against Goff's understanding tone. I've seen McCallany in other films but this role really suits him well. Torv is also great as the analytical mind of the group while the scenes of Hannah Gross's discussions with Ford help center the series and explain the thinking of the agent. I am interested to see where this show goes if it goes through with a second season.