Franchise Weekend – From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999)

Director: Scott Spiegel

Writer: Scott Spiegel, Duane Whitaker (Screenplay) Scott Spiegel, Boaz Yakin (Story)

Starring: Robert Patrick, Bo Hopkins, Duane Whitaker, Muse Watson, Brett Harrelson, Raymond Cruz, Danny Trejo

 

Plot: More people are turned into vampires as they go around spreading their evil satanic hate.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sucks the life out of you

 

Story: From Dusk till Dawn 2 Blood Money starts when criminal Buck (Patrick) is offered a new job from his partner Luther (Whitaker), he puts a teams together including C.W. (Watson), Ray Bob (Harrelson) and Jesus (Cruz) and sets off to allude Sheriff Otis Lawson (Hopkins) who believes he is about to get involved in a new job.

It isn’t long the crew finds themselves at the Titty Twister bar and being hunted down by the vampires that are trying to rebuild their numbers and the five thieves seem to be their choice.

 

Thoughts on From Dusk till Dawn 2 Blood Money

 

Characters – Buck is a thieve that has claimed to have gone clean after his recent stint in prison, the cops do still watch him, only now he gets a chance at a new job which will see him put his crew together, he has a way to work with his men, well that is about it, his character doesn’t have much more to him, Sheriff Otis Lawson has been waiting for Buck to make a mistake for years now, using the latest former member of his crew as hope that he could catch him in the act once again. Luther is the one that brings the job to Buck, only on his way back to the crew, he ends up at the Titty Twister grabbing the attention of the vampires, looking for spread the curse to a new selection of victims. C.W. is another member of the crew and just like the rest they don’t get much to make them stand out.

PerformancesRobert Patrick does try to make the most of his character only he doesn’t get anything to work with here. This is the big problem for the rest of the cast, nobody gets a chance to make anything from their characters who all end up being painful bland.

StoryThe story follows a group of criminals that are looking to head to Mexico for their latest job, only to attract the attention of the vampires using the Titty Twister becoming the latest target, can they survive the night? The story here is very weak, we get five criminals with little to no character development, not making us care about what is happening. We get thrown into another direction with the story which doesn’t help because we know what is happening, while certain members of the crew don’t, this does against what we learnt about the vampires in the first film. this story just feels like a forced sequel nobody really asked for.

Crime/Horror The crime side of this horror comes from seeing just how the crew is operating, how they plan to get the job done, the horror comes from the vampire side of the film, it does have darker moments, only it still doesn’t feel like a scarier film.

SettingsThe film is set between Mexico and Texas, no location involved does make us feel like we are in iconic location the first one did.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are not at the same standard either, with most of the attacks being from bats which seem to be extreme close ups that just feel too difficult to watch.


Scene of the Movie –
A helping hand?

That Moment That Annoyed Me The lack of interest around the characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is a disappoint sequel that pulls the quality level right down to just a basic sequel that just so happens to visit the same bar, having no connection to the previous film.

 

Overall: Bland sequel.

Rating

 

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Franchise Weekend – From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Writer: Quentin Tarantino (Screenplay) Robert Kurtzman (Story)

Starring: George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Ernest Liu, Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo

 

Plot: Two criminals and their hostages unknowingly seek temporary refuge in a truck stop populated by vampires, with chaotic results.


Tagline – How far can Too Far go?

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Blood Splattered Blast

 

Story: From Dusk till Dawn starts after Seth Gecko (Clooney) is broken out of prison by his brother Richard (Tarantino) before they commit a daring daylight robbery as they race towards the Mexican border. They have a hostage which Richard soon kills, meaning they must find another one. The brothers pick a family the Fuller family, whose loss of faith priest father Jacob (Keitel) and his children Kate (Lewis) and Scott (Liu) are just travelling.

Once across the border the five head to a bar known as the Titty Twister for bikers and truckers alike, but soon they must put their differences aside when it turns out to be a vampire hideout, where they must fight to daylight.

 

Thoughts on From Dusk till Dawn

 

Characters – Seth Gecko has just been sprung from prison by his brother, he wants to get across the border to complete a deal which would see them both have freedom, he is the one that remains in control wanting to keep everything calm, which would mean not leaving a pile of bodies behind them. He does deliver the threats which would see them as a danger, though he does just want things to be simple. Richard or Ritchie is must more of a loose cannon, he is paranoid and this makes him more dangerous, as he will kill people putting their safety at risk. He is protected by his brother, as he doesn’t seem like he is capable of putting a plan together himself. Jacob was a priest that has lost his faith after his wife’s death, he I taking his family on a vacation and gets forced into helping the brothers, he wants to keep them safe, willing to risk his own life to make this happen. Kate and Scott are his children, they are dealing with their own loss the best way they know how to and being supportive to their father. Santanico is the beautiful dancer that will stop a bar with her dance, she is one of the leaders of the vampires who has been waiting for the food in human form.

PerformancesGeorge Clooney is great to see in this role, after this we only usually see him in smooth talking roles, rather than a rough criminal, showing he could become any role offered to him. Tarantino in this film is creepy and putting himself in the supporting role does hide any restrictions he might have as an actor. Harvey Keitel is great showing a character that is meant to be hating his life choice, but remaining strong for his children. Juliette Lewis and Ernest Liu are both solid enough in the supporting roles without getting too much more to work with, while Salma Hayek turns heads with her performance.

StoryThe story here follows two criminals trying to get to Mexico, the family they force to help them across the border and the bar they find, filled with vampires that they must fight to survive the night. Where this story stands up on its own, is by making it a criminal tory to start with, having no hints of horror or vampires involved, as we just watch the two loose cannons trying to get to safety, by pulling the rug out from under us to thrown us into the horror idea is genius switch of pace for the story. we do have themes going on especially with the Jacob character needing to find his lost faith which finding it will become the big part in fight the vampires. The story also exists in a world where vampire stories do exist, which gives them ideas on how to fight back, which was the main attraction to the 90’s horror stories.

Action/HorrorThe action in the film involves the fighting with the vampires, we get to take everything to a new level for this side of the genre, with the blood splatter in the action, which the horror gives us because we vampires which are a staple of horror, but we do focus on the action over the scares.

SettingsThe film uses the getting to the location setting of the camper van which does show us the road trip feel to the film, but it is the bar that will be one that is always going to be hard to forget, being a run down biker and trucker bar.

Special EffectsThe special effects are some of the best you will see in the vampire genre, it shows that you can get plenty done with practical effects, with the only weakness come from the human to vampire transformations, which look CGI and have dated.


Scene of the Movie –
The battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The transformations have dated badly.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most fun vampire movies you will ever see, it has plenty of blood flying around the screen and will keep you entertained from start to finish.

 

Overall: Purely entertaining vampire movie.

Rating

 

 

Robert De Niro Weekend – The Family (2013)

Director: Luc Besson

Writer: Luc Besson, Michael Caleo (Screenplay) Tonino Benacquista (Book)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron, John D’Leo, Tommy Lee Jones, Jimmy Palumbo

 

Plot: The Manzoni family, a notorious mafia clan, is relocated to Normandy, France under the Witness Protection Program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging, as their old habits die hard.


Tagline – Some call it organized crime. Others call it family.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Twist on the Mafia Movie

 

Story: The Family starts when the Manzoni family head into witness protection in Normandy, France, under the names, Fred (De Niro), Maggie (Pfeiffer), Belle (Agron) and Warren (D’Leo) where they must start new lives. The problem the family have, is that they keep getting themselves into troubles with their violent behaviour, which sees Robert Stansfield (Jones) needing to keep moving them around.

The family are also being hunted down by Fred’s former boss, who is the reason why he has gone into hiding which will see the family needing to improve their behaviour just to survive.

 

Thoughts on The Family

 

Characters – Fred Blake is a former Mafia leader that has gone into hiding after taking a deal, he is trying to remain calm for the most part, but his violent tendencies take over whenever things are not going his way, while he tries to write his memoirs. Maggie is the wife that has gotten used to the lifestyle, now she has got just as a dark side towards people that upset her. She is turning to religion for answers in her life once again. Belle and Warren are the teenage children that use their skills to stay ahead in school even if it means they show their own violent side too. Robert Stansfield is the agent that is trying to keep the family away from the spotlight, finding it more difficult because of their actions.

PerformancesRobert De Niro gets to poke fun at the idea that he was famous for his gangster roles and now needs to be put in a retirement age, where he is strict, smart and able to stay ahead of the game. Michelle Pfeiffer brings us the frustrated housewife that wants more normality in her life. Both Dianna Agron and John D’Leo bring us strong teenage character performances. Tommy Lee Jones is great too as an FBI agent that is struggling to keep the lid on everything.

StoryThe story follows a former Mafia family that have gone into hiding after giving up other members of the family to the authorities, the problem with the family, is that they are too violent and often bring attention to themselves, as they are still being hunted down. The idea that a Mafia family is living in the shadows only they can’t stay out of trouble, does feel original in how everything is executed. The number of times we have seen a Mafia story end with ‘they are not in the witness protection program’ without following the life they end up living. This almost feels like the next chapter that we have never gotten before because they will still be wanted for their action. Each of the family members does get their own issues to deal with too which makes them feel like real people too.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy in the film comes from just seeing how the criminal fan acts once they are meant to be out of the criminal life, it does create laughs through the film.

SettingsThe film is set in a small Normandy village which shows the new life the family must adapt to after the life in New York City.


Scene of the Movie –
The showdown night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The family must surely need to learn to act better with this world.

Final ThoughtsThis is a nice spin on the Mafia film, it gets plenty of laughs when it needs it, while trying to show the world could still be looking for them.

 

Overall: Fun twist.

Rating

 

 

Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

Director: David Leitch

Writer: Chris Morgan, Drew Pearce (Screenplay) Gary Scott Thompson (Characters)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren, Eiza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan

Plot: Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity.

Runtime: 2 Hours 14 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Stunt Work of the Year

Story: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw starts when MI6 Agent Hattie Shaw (Kirby) is framed for stealing a deadly virus that Brixton (Elba) is after, using her ability to go into hiding comes in handy, Luke Hobbs (Johnson) and Deckard (Statham) are recruited to work together to help find her and get the virus out of her before it becomes a threat to the world.

With the three teaming up, they must use their connections to stay ahead of Brixton who has been enhanced to make a deadly threat that neither can defeat on their own, can they put aside their different and save the world again?

Thoughts on Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Characters – Hobbs is still working in the field to hunt down bad guys, but he remains family based with his daughter being the most important part of his life, he gets the call to save the world once again and doesn’t say no, heading to London to team up with an old enemy and friend in Deckard. He does play the I am bigger than you card, as the two constantly try to play the alpha male card. Deckard must come out of hiding to rescue his own little sister, he is better designed to the spy like side of this mission, we do get to learn a lot more about his past in this film too. Brixton is the big bad, he even introduces himself as ‘the bad guy’ he has been enhanced, making him a proper deadly weapon that will win any one on one fight, he isn’t afraid to fight with his men, though he is only part of a bigger plan going on. Hattie is the MI6 agent that gets framed, she is Deckard sister and knows how to get off the grid, she can handle herself in a fight and isn’t afraid to use a few tricks she learnt from her mother to get out of a sticky situation.

PerformancesDwayne Johnson and Jason Statham must be looked at as one, they are excellent when it comes to the action sequences, you wouldn’t expect anything less, when they have a moment of serious material they do well, it is part of the back and forth between them which does get slightly tiresome after a while. It is almost like the film must stop for 30 seconds to a minute so they can go at each with insults. Idris Elba does look like he is having a hell of a time as the villainous figure, while Vanessa Kirby keeps up with the action heavy stars with ease bring another aspect to the styles of the three.

StoryThe story here follows Hobbs and Shaw as they must once again put their differences a side to help Shaw’s sister get away from a deadly enhanced soldier and the virus he is threatening the world with. Breaking down this story, it does feel like any Fast & Furious film, there is no questions there, we get everything we expect with cheesy dialogue to match. If we do look at the story it is strange because we could easily have had this as a Hobbs or Shaw solo film with the way everything unfolds, with only one aspect of the film truly needing them to work together. The pair do seem to lose certain parts of the chemistry and respect for one an other they got from Fast 8, which again confuses why we need so much bickering between the two, as they are both the alpha, neither comes off as the comical side of the buddy relationship, meaning a lot of the jokes just hold up the film. It is nice this story could build on both the pairs backgrounds more, with slightly more focus on Deckard. If we are being honest, we don’t need a deep story here, we just come for the action.

Action/AdventureThe action in this film is huge, the fights, the chases and the explosions, though when it comes to the fights we do get a lot of cuts in them, which just doesn’t work as well as other action heavy films. The adventure does take the crew from London, to Russian to Samoa proving it to be an international mission.

SettingsThe film uses the tight streets of London for the spy side of the movie, along with one big car chase, we use the other cities for the wide-open big action sequences in the film.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are also a mixed bad, certain bits look wonderful, including how Brixton is almost attached to his motorbike, it is the couple of moments which you can see the CGI effects at work which let it down.


Scene of the Movie – The base escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The bickering gets tiresome.

Final Thoughts This is everything you expect in a Fast & Furious film, it is big, the action is ridiculous, and you can just sit back and enjoy.

Overall: Big dumb fun

Rating

The Faceless Man (2019)

Director: James Di Martino

Writer: James Di Martino (Screenplay)

Starring: Sophie Thurling, Lucas Pittaway, Andy McPhee, Roger Ward, Albert Goikhman, Brendan Bacon, Daniel Reader

 

Plot: Emily is a recovering cancer survivor of three years. Faced with her fear of getting sick again, her best friend Nina plans a weekend away. Six friends venture out to a country holiday house to party over a weekend. Cut off from the rest of the world they soon learn the inhabitants are unsettling red neck individuals who terrorize and humiliate travelers. At the same time a para-normal monster seen as the faceless man haunts the house pushing the friends to their limits.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Splatter-fest

 

Story: The Faceless Man starts when Emily (Thurling) a recovering cancer survivor who has starting to put her life back together is spending a weekend away with friends, Nina (Kauffeld), Kyle (Pittaway), Brad (Facciolo), Dave (Astifo) and Chad (Walia) are having a weekend away for parties.

It isn’t long before the group of friends have upset the local rednecks who decide to terrorize them, a ruthless drug dealer Viktor Nov (Goikhman) searching for them, while Emily is dealing with her own insecurities about her recover, which manifests itself in a faceless figure haunting her.

 

Thoughts on The Faceless Man

 

Characters – Emily is a cancer survivor, she made it with friends, not family and has just started to put her life back together, despite having the fear that one day it would return, which appears to her in living nightmares including a faceless man figure, out of the group of friends this is the only character that gets much outside the generics traits we learn, we have the friend that wants more of a relationship, the one that will push the limits of drugging people, a few jokers and the best friend who can’t handle their substances. Eddie is the owner of the rented house, he comes off creepy to the city slickers as he puts it, he doesn’t want trouble in his property and will deal with anybody that causes it. Viktor Nov is the ruthless drug dealer that has been hunting for his drugs which have a connection to the group of friends, he uses his muscle to kill anybody that disrespects him.

PerformancesSophie Thurling in the leading role is one of the highlights in the film, seeing Sophie balance the mindset of her character through the film will keep us wondering just what will happen next, Albert Goikhman as the ruthless drug dealer is fun to watch, we always know something violent is going to happen when he is on the screen. Andy McPhee does bring the awkward local to life well too.

StoryThe story follows a group of friends that want to go on a drink & drug filled party weekend, only to end up in a town that isn’t happy with this lifestyle and that want to send a message to them, while we also see one character haunted by a terrifying looking faceless man. This story does have plenty going on, which works in and against it because you could easily drop one of the side stories and still have an enjoyable horror movie, but mixing them together does add to the mystery of what will happen next, because it does feel like nobody is safe from what is going on. We could have had more development on the group of friends, as it they end up coming off like your usual slasher cast. With the different arcs we do get plenty of violence which is what the film wants to pay respect to the Ozploitation era of cinema, which will help understand the tone of the film.

HorrorThe most impressive part of the horror in this film comes from the Faceless Man himself, it comes early in creepy moments, but the reveal of the creature is one of the most terrifying figures in horror this year.

SettingsThe film is set in a small town location, with most of the action happening in the one house picked for the party, it shows how things can get out of hand and how uninvited guests can cause more problems in life.

Special EffectsThe effects to create the Faceless Man are brilliant, he will scare you, where this film also shines is by letting us imagine the damage being down, with the chainsaw scene being played out longer than needed, which only adds to the horror being inflicted.


Scene of the Movie –
The Faceless Man, first full reveal.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The group of friends are not that interesting.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror film built of paying respect to the Ozploitation era of cinema, it brings us plenty of blood and keeps us guessing along the way.

 

Overall: Ozploitation has returned.

Rating