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Movie reviews (titles starting with B)
02-03-2017, 02:39 AM (This post was last modified: 02-04-2017 06:18 AM by goodcop2000.)
Post: #1
Movie reviews (titles starting with B)
The Babadook (2014)
4 children's books

The Babadook tells an interesting story about a single mother's struggles to raise a young boy who is terrified of a monster in their home. The actors do a fine job and the film makers adeptly create a tense atmosphere. With most of the drama focused on the relationship between the mother and her child, I feel like viewers who are parents will be impacted on a deeper level. Unlike most horrors, I actually found this one to be scary.

Baron Blood (1972)
3 haunted castles

This is not one of director Mario Bava's best films but it has some nice moments and a pretty strong ending. The plot involves a young man named Peter Kleist who returns to Austria to learn more about his family history. Peter and a local woman named Eva foolishly perform an occult ceremony to resurrect Baron Otton von Kleist, one of Peter's ancestors renowned for his cruelty and brutality. Bloodshed inevitably follows.

Barrio Tales (2012)
1.5 spicy tacos

Barrio Tales is a horror anthology including several grisly tales that are connected to the town of Barrio, Mexico. The film is an amateur production in every way with weak storylines, poor dialogue, horrendous acting, and very few special effects. The characters are such one-dimensional stereotypes that their fates really make no difference to the viewer. I do not recommend this even to B-movie horror fans.

Bates Motel: Season 1 (2013)
4 stuffed dogs
Alfred Hitchcock's classic film Psycho is one of my favorites and features motel owner Norman Bates. The series Bates Motel, although set in modern times, reaches back to explain what happened when Norma Bates bought the motel, moving her teenage son Norman to a small coastal town to get a fresh start. The writers for the show create very complex characters which are expertly played by the cast, especially Vera Farmiga (Norma Bates), Freddie Highmore (Norman Bates), and Max Thieriot (Norman's brother Dylan). The story line for season one strains believability a bit but is very entertaining and the season ends with a bang.

The Battery (2012)
2.5 radio transmissions
The Battery is a movie about two friends on the road trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. On the positive side, I enjoyed the music used in the soundtrack. Unfortunately, the film features a bare bones plot, bad acting, and no special effects. The actors playing zombies are particularly bad. Still, this would have made for an interesting short film but it's way too long at an hour and 40 minutes. One scene where a character is just waiting for another character probably lasts about 5 minutes but feels like a half hour because nothing is happening.

Battle Royale (2000)
4 crouching tigers

Battle Royale is often mentioned as an earlier version of The Hunger Games, although the films are quite different. The plot follows an unfortunate class of high school students who are chosen by the government to participate in a battle to the death on an island. Each student receives a backpack with supplies and a random type of weapon or tool. If more than one competitor is alive after three days, then they will all be killed. There is very little setup before we get to the violence and action. The special effects are very good. The characters and some of the action scenes could be considered somewhat campy but I would characterize it more like a live action version of Japanese manga. There are probably hidden social references in the story that I am not aware of since I have no exposure to Japanese culture but for me it is just a really fun story.

A Bay of Blood (1971)
3.5 bloody axes

In pretty much every movie I have reviewed that was directed by Mario Bava, I have mentioned that he concentrates on the visual imagery and story is secondary. A Bay of Blood takes that notion to the extreme. The basic story is that a wealthy woman is murdered and much bloodshed follows as different people vie for control of the dead woman's estate. However, the details of the plot are almost incomprehensible and character development is non-existent. Of course it is hard to develop much depth to characters when they die so quickly! Despite the shortcomings in the plot, Bava delivers mystery, tension, and a number of amazing murder scenes. Until I watched this film, I had no idea that Friday the 13th Part II blatantly copied two of the gruesome deaths. A Bay of Blood is a definite must-see for those who love slasher movies.

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
3.5 bloody axes

I watch many bad, low-budget horror films so that I can find the few fun, clever ones like Behind the Mask. This is a horror film making fun of horror films (kind of like Scream) and I enjoyed both the humorous parts and the slasher parts. The performance of the lead actor playing the would-be psycho killer Leslie Vernon makes the movie for me. He could easily have gone way over the top and ended up acting like Jim Carey but instead he did a really nice job of playing a crazy but charming guy with a sense of humor.

The Beyond (1981)
4 crawling tarantulas
This is director Lucio Fulci's follow up to [/i]City of the Living Dead[/i] as part of his Gates of Hell trilogy. Catriona MacCall again stars but is not as good as she was in the earlier film. In fact, the acting is not very good overall. I suggest watching the film with Italian dialogue and English subtitles because the English dubbing is not great. The soundtrack is cool and adds to the film's atmosphere. The strength of this movie is memorable imagery. Some of the gore special effects are pretty spectacular. Don't expect a clear and cohesive plot but for Fulci fans this is stylish fun.

Beyond Re-Animator (2003)
3.5 buckets of blood

This 3rd installment in the Re-Animator series finds mad scientist Dr. Herbert West in jail for crimes against humanity committed in the earlier films. Fortunately, Dr. West has a fan of his work who finds a way to help him continue his experiments to defeat death. Beyond Re-Animator is definitely more of a comedy than a horror but be prepared for huge amounts of gore! Viewers who enjoyed Evil Dead 2 will feel right at home as copious amounts of blood and body parts splatter across the screen. The acting performances are second rate as you would expect in a campy horror/comedy but Jeffrey Combs is perfect in his role as Dr. West.

Big Bad Wolf (2006)
3 full moons
This horror comedy features decent acting, most notably by actor Richard Tyson who does a nice job as a villain. There is also a cameo appearance from David Naughton for fans of An American Werewolf in London. I didn't mind the wisecracking werewolf because it showed some originality but I wasn't a fan of the monster's appearance or movements. There is some pretty good gore done with practical effects but some less effective CGI effects are also included.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)
4.5 black gloves
Director Dario Argento hits the ball out of the park with his first film, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. The plot of this clever and entertaining giallo features an American in France who gets tangled up with a series of murders. There is minimal gore and the film is more low key than Argento's later works. The acting is good for the most part and there are some great moments of suspense.

The Black Cat (1981)
3 cat treats
The Black Cat is a supernatural thriller from Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci. It has a decent story about a murderous cat and some of the effects and kills are pretty good. There are much better Fulci movies to watch but this is worth a viewing.

Black Christmas (1974)
4 lovely unicorns
Black Christmas is generally known as one of the first slasher movies but director Bob Clark considered it a psychological horror. This movie is centered around an interesting villain who is fixated upon a sorority house. It is not gory by modern standards but does have good special effects. Very effective sounds effects also add to the creep factor. I enjoyed the acting, especially from John Saxon as a police lieutenant and Olivia Hussey as one of the sorority girls. This original is far superior to the 2006 remake.

Black Christmas (2006)
2.5 bloody axes

Despite some decent gore and moments of suspense, this movie does not live up to the original. The acting is pretty bad which is a bit surprising because the cast includes legitimate actors like Michelle Trachtenberg and Lacey Chabert. The backstory about the psycho killer who escaped from a mental institution is somewhat interesting but probably goes into too much detail as the mystery surrounding the killer was a great part of the 1974 film. There are a few parts of the movie that are really ridiculous, including one scene with an icicle and all of the final scenes at a hospital. I hated this film when I first watched it. A second viewing reduced my feelings to mild disdain.

Black Death (2010)
3.5 bloody swords

This is a fun tale about a young monk who accompanies soldiers working for the Church as they seek out a suspected witch during the Great Plague. The action is exciting and the actors were excellent, particularly Eddie Redmayne as the young monk. The cast also includes Sean Bean (Boromir from Lord of the Rings).

Black Sabbath (1963)
3.5 bloody fangs

Black Sabbath is a nice horror anthology from Italian director Mario Bava and hosted by Boris Karloff. One story features a woman receiving mysterious phone calls from her deceased lover who she double-crossed. A second story which stars Karloff is about a man who ends up stranded with a family facing the possibility that their patriarch has been turned into a vampire-type creature called a wurdulak. The final story features the death and return of an old mystic. It's important to watch the Italian language version with English subtitles where the order of the three stories is The Telephone, The Wurdulak, and Drops of Water. In the version of the film dubbed into English, the plot of the telephone story is radically changed to remove a racy angle. The edited version is left with an ending that makes no sense. The only downside to going with the Italian dialogue is missing the great voice of Boris Karloff.

Black Sheep (2006)
2.5 tasty brains

This is not Chris Farley's Black Sheep but a zombie sheep horror/comedy of the same name set in New Zealand. It's mildly amusing at times and the acting is pretty decent. I really wanted to like it because, c'mon, it's ZOMBIE SHEEP! But sadly it was not a very good movie.

Black Sunday (1960)
3.5 Satanic masks

Black Sunday is the first full-length movie for which Italian legend Mario Bava was credited as the director although he apparently worked on several prior without credit. Bava's background is as a cinematographer and his visual artistry does not disappoint in this film. While Bava's strength is his imagery, the storyline is decent enough in this movie. A witch in Moldavia who was killed by outraged citizens is accidentally brought back to life 200 years later by two men traveling through the area. It is interesting to see the various influences on Bava's work. The striking black and white images, the huge sets, and the dramatic music all remind me of the classic Universal monster flicks from the 30's and 40's. However, a shocking scene in the first few minutes of the film mimics the graphic violence of Hammer horror films in the 50's. The special effects, with the exception of a ridiculous super-sized bat in one scene, are outstanding for the time. The weakest areas of the film in my opinion are the mediocre acting and some less than inspired dialogue, but it is definitely worth watching nonetheless.

Blade (1998)
3.5 underground raves

This is a fun action film that stars Wesley Snipes as a half-vampire who battles the undead. The acting is okay and the special effects are good for the time period. As with most action films, the plot and stunts are best enjoyed with a little suspension of disbelief.

A Blade in the Dark (1983)
3.5 smelly pools

This giallo is directed by Lamberto Bava who gave us the very fun Demons. It's slow moving at first but builds the tension up well and the pace really gets ratcheted up by the end. The murder mystery plot is a good story but tries to hide the killer's identity a few minutes too long. If you pay attention you can figure it out before the reveal. There are some good gory special effects, including one spectacular murder scene. The actors are average. The English language dubbing is okay for the main characters but pretty bad for some of the others. For some reason, bad dubbing is common in films directed by Lamberto Bava and his father, Mario Bava. In this case, there are also some strange translations of the dialogue into English including use of the word "perspicacious", a character hurling the insult "Are you a vacant nerd?", and an amusing moment where a spider is called a cockroach.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)
3.5 urban legends

This film tells the story of three aspiring documentary film makers who venture into the Black Hills in search of a legendary witch. The story is imaginative and the acting is decent. The Blair Witch Project popularized the "found footage" cinematic technique although it was not the first movie to use the method. The film enjoyed incredible financial success with an estimated budget of $60,000 and a worldwide box office gross of over $248,000,000.

The Blob (1988)
3 piles of goo

This remake of the classic 1958 monster movie is an unashamed B movie with cheesy dialogue. It stars various second tier actors including Jeffrey DeMunn from The Walking Dead, Shawnee Smith from the Saw series, and Kevin "I'm not Matt" Dillon. The movie has some pretty good effects for the time. I didn't find it greatly entertaining but I will definitely give it another look in the future because many horror aficianados rank it as one of the best horror movie remakes.

Blood and Black Lace (1964)
4 fashion models

Blood and Black Lace is an early entry in the giall genre from Italian horror master Mario Bava. It is a good murder mystery with plenty of suspense and red herrings. The movie is violent but not as bloody as a typical Dario Argento film. I enjoyed the soundtrack and the cinematography. I recommend watching the film with Italian dialogue and English subtitles because of poor English language dubbing. In one scene in particular, a character who is having a medical emergency makes ridiculous cartoonish animal noises in the dubbed version.

Bloodstone: Subspecies II (1993)
3 bloody fangs

This sequel to Subspecies is not as good as the original, although I do prefer the performance from Denise Duff as the leading lady Michelle to that of Laura Mae Tate who had the role in the first film. The most entertaining part of this movie is a scene in a dance club featuring some bizarre dance moves.

Bloodlust: Subspecies III (1994)
3.5 bloody fangs

This third entry in the Subspecies series is an improvement from the second. The evil vampire lord Radu is fun to watch in this one and there are some really good special effects.

Bloody Birthday (1981)
3.5 bloody axes

I found Bloody Birthday much more entertaining than I expected. Although the production quality is at a made-for-TV level, the movie is fun to watch. The story is about three kids who were born on the same night under a foreboding astrological configuration. When the children approach their 10th birthday, they start exhibiting violent tendencies. The young actors do a nice job in their roles. There is some mild gore and a decent amount of nudity.

Bloody Pit of Horror (1965)
1.5 pairs of red tights

This oldie stars Hungarian bodybuilder/actor Mickey Hargitay (father of Law and Order SVU star Mariska). The plot follows a group of photographers and models seeking a gothic location for a photo shoot. The group ends up trapped in a castle with a homicidal maniac with henchmen in matching outfits. There is a lot of death in the movie but it is not gory. Bloody Pit of Horror does not work as a horror and is not scary. Some people enjoy it as a campy cult classic because of the outrageous over the top performance from Hargitay and the ridiculous dialogue. I am not one of those people.

The Boogey Man (1980)
1 floating pitchfork

This movie features a bad synthesizer soundtrack, ridiculous dialogue, poor acting, and atrocious special effects. The death scenes are so bad that they made me laugh.

Boogeyman (2005)
2.5 dark closets

Boogeyman is not connected in any way with the similarly named 1980 movie. This film is about a young man trying to overcome his childhood fear of a monster. The opening scene of this one is very promising but overall the movie is disappointing. The acting is okay with the best performance coming from Emily Deschanel. For the second half of the film, the plot is all over the place. Instead of a cohesive storyline, it feels like a bunch of different ideas are all jammed into the script. The CGI effects toward the end are not very good. The monster would have been more effective with the use of practical effects.

Boy Eats Girl (2005)
3 tasty brains

This Irish film is really a romantic comedy with zombies thrown in. I thought it was pretty well done and there are some impressive special effects once the zombie battle has begun. In particular a scene where one of the heroes is battling zombies with a thresher is entertainingly gruesome.

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
4 dismembered corpses

The Bride of Frankenstein is a rarity: a sequel that fully lives up to a classic film. It helps that Bride brings back director James Whale and the original actors in the two most important roles. Colin Clive again plays Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the great Boris Karloff reprises his role as the monster. Karloff is actually able to enhance his performance in the sequel because the monster is allowed to speak (as he does in the original Mary Shelley novel). Ernest Thesiger is also very entertaining as Dr. Pretorius, a character that makes Dr. Frankenstein look like the model of sanity. Pressured by Dr. Pretorius and the monster himself, Dr. Frankenstein takes on the task of creating a mate for his creation. Whale does a nice job blending some humor into the film without lessening the tragedy of the whole situation.

Bridge Across Time (1985)
2 life guards

Local police try to deal with a modern-day Jack The Ripper copycat. The idea for the movie is interesting and there are a couple of decent scenes. However, sub-par acting (led by "star" David Hasselhoff) ruins this film's chance to actually be any good. The over the top acting and dated wardrobe do offer some unintentionally funny moments, though.

The Brood (1979)
3.5 bizarre children

The Brood is about a man trying to investigate strange circumstances at a mental health facility. Director David Cronenberg keeps the atmosphere eerie and the movie does not feel cheesy despite the presence of killer dwarfs. The acting performances are decent. There is not a lot of gore in the movie but it is effectively used. The film features a memorable shocking scene at the end.

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)
3.5 howls in the night

This movie is an interesting blend of action, horror, martial arts and romance. The entertaining plot is about some men's efforts to find out why large numbers of people are being killed by a mysterious beast. The acting performances are good and the movie has very nice visuals with the exception of some weak CGI effects towards the end.

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
3.5 bed pans

Bubba Ho-Tep is part quirky, offbeat comedy and part cheesy, low-budget horror but for some reason it works! Bruce Campbell does an excellent job (as usual) in the role of an elderly Elvis Presley (impersonator?) stranded in a cheap retirement home. The rest of the cast is not bad, especially Ossie Davis who plays Elvis' buddy. Toss in an undead redneck mummy and you're in for a fun ride!

Byzantium (2012)
4 bloody fangs

There are various types of vampire movies and Byzantium is much more in the style and pace of Let the Right One In than an action-oriented film like Underworld. We slowly unravel the mystery surrounding two young ladies, played by Gemma Arterton and Saiorse Ronan, who are on the run from something or someone. The acting is very good, with Ronan giving a particularly fine performance. The musical score is beautiful and enhances the movie's bleak atmosphere. There is enough bloodshed to satisfy horror fans but Byzantium is really all about the story and I found it quite entertaining.
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