Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012) - Dread Central
Connect with us
gr2.jpg gr2.jpg

Reviews

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

Published

on

Cover art:

/reviews/gr2.jpg

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)Starring Nicolas Cage, Nicolas Cage’s hair, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Spencer Wilding

Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor


Some years back we got our first cinematic taste of Ghost Rider, and without too much bashing, we’ll just say the flick’s flames weren’t too hot. Now the guys who made the Crank movies so chaotic have put their stamp on this latest installment, thereby creating the ultimate high octane horror hero!

We pick things up eight years after the events of the first Ghost Rider film. Johnny Blaze is skulking around Eastern Europe doing his best to stay clear of every human being that he can as a means to keep his inner-demon Zarathos at bay. Should Blaze come across evil, the demon will begin manifesting as a blazing skeleton. This spirit of vengeance is an unstoppable force, turning flesh to ash with a whip of his chain or even just an accidental glance into his cold, empty eyes. Unfortunately for Johnny things are about to heat up as Moreau (Elba), the happy drunk battle monk, has come calling with news of a boy perused by minions of the devil himself. From there Blaze is reluctantly drawn into the battle and … wait for it … ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE!! (You see what I did there?) With the despicable Carrigan (Whitworth) following their every move with his right-hand man, The Wolfman (Wilding), Blaze’s more demonic half has plenty of evil men to chew on. This is the entire plot, minus the spoilery bits that would take up a single sentence.

What we have here is a far more intense, otherworldly Ghost Rider with eerie horror film-esque sound cues to announce the demon’s arrival. In the first movie when Blaze would flame up, it was as if he just put on a costume and went to work. Here the demon surfaces with a maniacal cackle that’s vintage Cage and erupts from under his skin. The Rider twitches like a being infused with too much power to contain and cocks its head like a bird of prey sizing up a meal. This performance is coupled with the sheer beauty of Ghost Rider’s carbonized skull, bubbling leathers and living flame. The whole effect is amazing. I’d watch “Ghost Rider Does His Weekly Shopping at Walmart” if it looked this good. Luckily, we get “Ghost Rider Goes Sickhouse on a Small Army of Evildoers” while answering the question, “If his bike erupts in flames when he drives it, what happens when he drives other things?!” INSANITY. The most excellent kind of insanity.

Acting performances, however, are a sort of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” type situation. Being a fan of over-the-top B-movies, I can tell when a director has told the cast something to the effect of “Pretend you are in a gonzo 80’s comic and have fun with it!” Wide-eyed exclamations and upturned lip grimaces are commonplace on the face of this film’s devil Roarke (Hinds) in counterpoint to Elba’s happy-go-lucky French party monk portrayal, with the baseline being Cage’s stony face when not in an action sequence of any kind. When evil is afoot, this all changes. Cage shudders like a recovering heroin addict off his meds … smiling … growling … laughing … wincing … looking as if he is trying to hold back the monster inside himself but bursting at the seams to let it out. You’ll sit there, jaw agape, wondering how soon you’ll be able to watch this spectacle again. I want to loop these scenes, set them to “Thieves and Liars” by Ministry and watch them until my eyes bleed. I loved every second!

Stylistically, Team Neveldine and Taylor have outdone themselves. They shatter the myth that post 3D conversion will always look horrible. This is some of the best 3D I’ve ever seen in a horror movie, if not some of the best I’ve ever seen. There are gimmicks surely shot with the effect in mind, but we are not left feeling like we are watching Jason Voorhees poking at us with a spear for two minutes for no good reason. Now think about Team Crank’s signature punk rock do-or-die shooting style, coupled with excellent 3D AND the beauty of the previously mentioned Rider himself, and you’ve got Saturday night movie gold.

Make no mistake; this film will play best on a giant screen, allowing you to drink it all in like some stunning, psychotic, post-apocalyptic landscape. Neveldine and Taylor also brought some new tricks to the table with pseudo Sin City-esque silhouettes against stark backgrounds and the ultra dramatic Carrigan demon power display which you’ll be treated to every time he kills. If I say any more, I’ll wreck it for you so just trust me when I say you are going to see some things you’ve never seen before in a 3D film. That alone is an amazing feat. It’s also worthy of mention that Neveldine and Taylor manage to create some seriously creepy moments without spilling more than a drop of blood. Modern filmmakers … take notes! This is the most excellent horror superhero movie since Darkman, and yes, that is high praise from me!

Let me be clear – this is not a thinking man’s film. You wouldn’t drop in on a film called Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance looking for steely glances, pursed lips and heartfelt tirades concerning love and loss now would you? This is CAGE … the man … the myth … the legend … directed by madmen who “get him” and let him loose in a world he is perfectly at home in. What we have here is a “Shut your brain off, shut the hell up and have a killer time” movie, best viewed with a beer shoved in your face ten minutes prior. Strap in and take the ride.


4 out of 5

Discuss Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance in the comments section below!

Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading
Comments

Reviews

DIS Review – Not for the Faint of Heart!

Published

on

Starring Bill Oberst, Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon

Directed by Adrian Corona


I’ve made this claim many a time on this website before, and in the company of film friends as well: Bill Oberst Jr. is one of those actors that can literally be thrust into ANY role, and deliver a performance with so much harnessed electricity that you couldn’t believe that it was possible. I was the lucky recipient chosen to get a look at his latest project, titled DIS, and I think that I can honestly say – this is the stuff that nightmares are constructed of.

Directed by Adrian Corona, this 60-minute dive into the black depths of hell, and in actuality DIS is located between circles # 6 and 9 in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and trust me when I tell you – there’s not a shred of comedic relief in this demented presentation. Oberst Jr plays an ex-soldier named Ariel, and his seemingly harmless jaunt through the woods will become anything but that, and judging from the film’s opening scenes, you are meant to feel as uncomfortable about this watch as any you might have checked out in recent memory.

Perversion is the norm here, and lord help you if you’re caught where you shouldn’t be…my skin’s crawling just thinking about what I saw. Ariel’s travels are basically dialogue-free, but it only adds to the infinite levels of creepiness – you can tell he’s being stalked, and the distance between he and the horrors that await are closing in rather quickly.

Visually by itself, this hour-long chiller can sell tickets without any assistance – hollowed-out buildings and long sweeping shots of a silent forest give the movie that look of complete desolation. Sliced up into three acts, the film wastes no time in setting up the story of a killer needing fresh blood to appease his Mandrake garden – seriously guys, I can’t type as much flashy stuff as there needs to be in order to describe this innately disturbing production.

If you’re one of those types who tends to shy away from the graphic side of things, then I’d HIGHLY advise you to keep your TV tuned to the Hallmark Channel for some holiday entertainment, because this one registers high on the “I can’t believe someone thought of this” meter. So the quick recap is this: Oberst Jr in a standout performance, visual excellence, and an unshakable sense of debasement on a cellular level – keep the kiddies out of the living room with this one. Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended, and one that I’ll throw down as a top 5 for me in 2017.

Powered by WP Review
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Reviews

Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End Review: A Heavy Metal Massacre In Cartoon Form

Published

on

Starring Alex House, Bill Turnbull, Maggie Castle, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins, Jason Mewes

Directed by Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace


“Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil” – Canadian television’s greatest blend of Evil Dead, Superbad and Deathgasm? Yes. That answer is yes. For two face-melting seasons, Todd “protected” Crowley High from episodic villains who were bested by metal riffs, stoner logic and hormonal companionship. Musical interruptions showcased stage theatrics like Sondheim meets pubescent Steel Panther and high school tropes manifested into vile, teen-hungry beasts. It was like a coming-of-age story got stuck between Fangoria pages – all the awkwardness with 100x more guts.

That – for worse – was until Todd fell to a premature cancellation after Season 2’s clone-club cliffhanger. Indiegogo became the show’s only way to deliver a feature-length finale, except to reduce costs and ensure completion, the project would have to be in cartoon form. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End suggests an animated curtain call for this otherwise live-action production, and from a fan’s perspective, familiar maturation follies befall our favorite bloodsoaked friend group. But for new viewers? Start with the far-superior original show – you’ll be lost, underwhelmed and baffled otherwise.

Alex House retains his characterization of Todd Smith (in voice only). At this point, Todd has thwarted the book’s apocalyptic plan, Hannah (Melanie Leishman) has died, longtime crush Jenny (Maggie Castle) isn’t as horny for Todd anymore, and best friend Curtis (Bill Turnbull) has sworn Todd’s name to Hell (since Hannah was his girlfriend). Guidance Counselor Atticus Murphy Jr. (Chris Leavins) is now Janitor Atticus Murphy Jr. because Janitor Jimmy (Jason Mewes) is now Counselor Jimmy, yet Crowley High finds itself plagued by the same satanic uprisings despite these new changes. Why is evil still thriving! How is Hannah back in class! Who is the new “Pure Evil One” now that Todd has denied the book! Welcome to the end, friends – or is it a new beginning?

At just north of 80 minutes, structure runs a bit jagged. We’re used to Todd battling one baddie over a half-hour block – backstory given time to breathe – but in The End Of The End, two mini-boss cretins play second fifth-fiddle to the film’s big-bad monster (well, monsters – but you’ll see). A double-dose of high school killers followed by a larger, more important battle with the gang’s fate hanging in the balance. Not a problem, it’s just that more length is spent singing songs about Todd’s non-functioning schlong and salvaging relationships from the S2 finale. Exposition (what little there is) chews into necessary aggression time – fans left ravenous for more versatile carnage, underwhelmed by the umpteenth cartoon erection gag. Did I mention there’s a lot of boner material, yet?

These two mini “chapters” – “No Vest For The Wicked” (yarn demon)/”Zits Alors” (acid acne) – never come close to rivaling Hannah Williams’ doppelganger bombshell (“Songs About Boners”/”This Is The End Of The End Of the End”). Hannah [X]. Williams waking up in a room full of other Hannahs, emerging from some sleep-pod chamber; Todd’s gang facing off against this new “chosen one” in a way that erases “Sack Boy” and “Pizza Face” from memory. The End Of The End dashes dildoes-swinging into the show’s biggest mystery while dropping call-backs and bodies with equal speed – maybe too hastily for some.

Now, about the whole pivot to animation – a smooth rendering of Crowley High and all its mayhem, but never representative of Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil‘s very Ash Vs. Evil Dead vibe. All the practical death effects (gigantic man-eating cakes, zombie rockstars) are lost to one-dimensional drawings, notable chemistry between cast members replaced by edited recordings lacking signature wits. This isn’t Metalocalypse, where dismemberment and bloodshed are gruesome on levels that outshine even live-action horror flicks. There’s no denying some of the magic is missing without Chris Leavins’ “creepy uncle” overacting (a Will Forte breed) or the book’s living incarnations of evil. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End plays hooded minion to Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil’s dark ruler – less powerful, a bit duncier, but still part of the coolest cult around. Just try not to think about how much radness is missing inside hand-traced Crowley High?

It’s hard not to strike comparisons between “reality” and ‘toon, because as noted above, live actors are sorely missed in a plethora of situations. Be they musical numbers, heretic slayings, Todd and Curtis’ constant references to wanking, wangs or other pelvic nods (no, for real, like every other sentence) – human reactions no longer temper such aggressive, self-gratifying cocksmanship. It doesn’t help that songs never reach the memorable level of “Horny Like The Devil,” but the likes of House, Leishman, Turnbull and Castle were masters of selling schlock, shock and Satan’s asshole of situations. Instead, lines now land flat like – for example – Leavins’ lessened ability to turn pervy, stalkerish quips into hilarious underage stranger-dangers. Again, it’s not Metalocalypse – and without that kind of designer depth, a wall prevents inter-dimensional immersion into Todd’s extracurricular madness.

If this review sounds over-negative, fret not – it’s merely wishes of what could have been. None of this is to say Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End should be skipped. When you’re already known for masterstrokes of ballbusting immaturity, metal-horned malevolence and vicious teen-angst creature vanquishing, expectations are going to be sky high. Directors Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace successfully service fans with a smile, ensuring that rivers of red scribbled blood spurt from decapitated school children just like we’re used to. It’s just, I mean – ugh, sorry, I just have to say it one more time. BY DIMEBAG’S BEARD, this would have been an epic live-action flick. As is? Still one fine-with-a-capital-F-YEAH return to Crowley High for the faithful who’ve been waiting some 5-or-so years in a Todd-less purgatory.

Powered by WP Review
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Reviews

The Shape of Water Review: A Quirky Mix of Whimsy and Horror That Does Not Disappoint

Published

on

Starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stulbarg, Doug Jones

Directed by Guillermo del Toro


“True Blood,” Beauty and the Beast, and Twilight aside, the notion of romantic love between humans and otherworldly creatures has been a popular theme throughout storytelling history. The ancient Greeks told tales of Leda and the swan, while stories of mermaids luring sailors to their lusty demise were met with wonder worldwide, stemming from Assyria c. 1000 BC. To this day, there’s Creature From the Black Lagoon fanfic that’s quite racy… for whatever reason, some people are fascinated by this fantasy taboo.

The new period film from co-writer/director Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water, dives right into the erotic motif with the tale of how Elisa (Sally Hawkins) and Amphibian Man (Doug Jones) fell in love. (While I personally could have done without the bestiality angle, I do applaud del Toro for having the balls to show what’s usually implied.) Having said that, The Shape of Water is about more than just interspecies passion.

The Shape of Water is a voluptuous, sumptuous, grand, and melodramatic Gothic fable at times (there’s even a lavish 1940s style dance routine!), but mostly it’s an exciting and gripping adventure, pitting the good guys against one very bad buy – played with mustache-twirling (minus the mustache), bug-eyed glee by Michael Shannon. Shannon is Strickland, a sinister and spiteful Cold War government operative who is put in charge of a mysterious monster captured in the Amazon and shipped to his Baltimore facility for study. When using cruel and abusive methods to crack the creature’s secrets doesn’t work, Strickland decides to cut him open to see what’s ticking inside.

Elisa, a lowly cleaning lady at the facility, has meanwhile grown fond of “the Asset,” as he’s called. She’s been spending time with him on the sly, not even telling her two best friends about her budding tenderness for the mute and isolated alien. She relates to him because not only is she lonesome, she’s unable to speak (an abusive childhood is alluded to – which includes water torture). Using sign language, she first tells out-of-work commercial illustrator Giles (Richard Jenkins), then her co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer), about the need to rescue her waterlogged Romeo from Strickland’s scalpel. Needless to say, it won’t be easy sneaking a classified government experiment out of the high security building.

The Shape of Water is vintage del Toro in terms of visuals and accoutrement. The set-pieces are stunning to say the least. Elisa and Giles live in cozy, cluttered, age-patinaed apartments above a timeworn Art Deco moving-pictures palace; Strickland’s teal Cadillac is a collection of curves and chrome; and the creature’s tank is a steampunk nightmare of iron, glass, and sturdy padlocks. DP Dan Laustsen (Crimson Peak) does justice to each and every detail. Costumes (Luis Sequeira) and Creature (Legacy Effects) are appropriately stunning. The velvety score by Alexandre Desplat (“Trollhunters”) is both subdued and stirring.

While the film is a fantasy-fueled feast for the senses, it’s really the actors who keep you caring about the players in such an unrealistic, too-pat story. Jones, entombed in iridescent latex and with GC eyes, still manages to emote and evoke sympathy as the misfit monster. Jenkins is endearingly morose as a closeted gay man surrounded by his beloved cats and bolstered by the belief his hand-painted artwork is still relevant in an ever-more technical world. Spencer is the comic relief as a sassy lady who’s hobbled by her station in life but leaps into action when the chips are down.

Del Toro cowrote the screenplay with Vanessa Taylor, whose credits in the television world are numerous – but she’s probably best-known for her work on “Game of Thrones” – which adds an interesting and feminine perspective. The story definitely feels more comic-book than anything, which is okay I guess, but I prefer del Toro’s deeper delves into history and character (The Devil’s Backbone is still my fave). But, for those who love del Toro’s quirky mix of whimsy and horror, you will not be disappointed.

The Shape of Water is a dreamlike, pulpy adult fairytale that dances on the surface of reality while remaining true to the auteur’s vision.

Powered by WP Review
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Go Ad Free!

Support Dread Central on Patreon!

Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

* indicates required

From Around the Web

Trending