Every Wednesday and Friday
Live animals starts with the radio report of a missing girl in a rural area as a rancher picks up the feed for his animals. We shift to young people at a bonfire, somebody cloaked in darkness taking photos of them from the car. As the couples break apart from the group to go get busy, we see hands grabbing equipment – a gun, drug darts and needles – and a creepy rubber mask… Oh I’m so happy! These kind of movies are always more interesting when we have a creepy masked killer rather than just some dude walking around with an axe or something! The night atmosphere is beautifully lit, dark with just enough light to make out characters and details but will be enough to create dread. Despite the gun, the killer has the rough and deliberate movement that you see in Jason Vorhees. His murderous rampage makes for a surprisingly long opening sequence, eating up well over 15 minutes at the beginning of this 84 minute film.
Things don’t let up though, we had back to the psycho’s place to find people chained up in the stable. He announces that they are all his property now, and that just like a horse, they need to be… broken. We spent the next 20 minutes watching them be tortured and abused, and then a car pulls up to the stable; A prospective buyer. The unlucky girl chosen, is created up in a wooden box and shipped out.
Overall, live animals is standard torture porn fair, a little on the light side when it comes to gore (with the exception of a couple of scenes towards the very end). I suppose I should be grateful that the rapey parts are merely suggested, but all in all the films a drag and I’m not digging this one. I ended up watching the last third of this on fast forward because there’s not really enough dialogue to make a difference. Indeed, I almost wonder if this was a case of the filmmakers having a location – the stable – and then because they have a location they build a story around it . I almost wonder if this would’ve been better off as a short, there doesn’t feel like there’s enough for to really be a full feature. In any event, it really doesn’t work for me – even with the attempt at a slight twist ending . It may be the first real misfire in this set. Not a big recommend.
The first thing I noticed about prophecy five is that the runtime is only about 75 minutes – and they waste the first three of those with flashbacks from the previous film. Still, I noticed that Tony Todd will be in this one, so I’m hoping it’ll be cool.
It looks like he’s an Angel this time, hiring a hitman to go after Kari Whurer, the current guardian of the prophet’s lexicon. The long black angel cloak gives him a very candyman vibe – which I have no doubt is intentional. Because he’s an angel, Todd, can’t get his hands dirty, but his assassin, Dylan, for him, the dirtier, the better. Angel John is back at the beginning here as well, delivering Wuhrer a message through a dead girl.
Our hitman Dylan is quite intense, loading his guns and prepping his gear, he obviously doesn’t want to work for Todd, even committing suicide to try and escape. But the angel bring some back, and now, with a vision of hell in his mind, the hitman is more bound to the angel than ever. We cut to Kari’s apartment, where Dylan has very suddenly arrived, threatening her as he searches for the Prophet’s Lexicon. Wuhrer assures him that he won’t find it if she’s dead.
His hitman turns on him, and he whisks Kari away. it’s an attack of conscience that transformed him into her protector. In the meantime, Todd’s Angel finds her apartment and searches for the book – he finds the hiding place almost immediately, hidden behind a layer of drywall, but the book stash there is merely a dummy copy, and the chase is onin the warm orange tones of Bucharest.
Everyone drives such small cars!
Dylan makes a quick stop to find iron pills that will alter the smell of Kari’s blood (making it harder for the Angels to hunt her), and a new dress, complete with a wig to throw everyone else off. (better to look like a cheap hooker I guess then be angel fodder). He explains that there’s a chance he can still denfend her and hurt the angels stalking them if he can squeeze off a good kill shot… Right through the third eye.
“The one you use to see God.”
It’s interesting to turn this into something more like a road film, along with a dash of paranoia – we are constantly looking around to try and figure out if the people on the street are angels or not. We get a cameo appearance from the angel from the previous installment, as Kari goes to investigate what the Prophet’s Lexicon actually is. Even disguised, The other angels are onto her, Curiously enough, they don’t seem to have the supernatural speed that I’m used to seeing from the first three installments- More evidence to me that this is a completely separate tangent.
It doesn’t stop them from being creepy and intimidating. Tony Todd in particular is perfect for this sort of role, and every time he’s on screen he elevates the film with that deep, true voice of his. He truly exudes the sense of superiority that has always been insinuated with these creatures.
Wuhrer heads back to the mansion from the previous film, looking for more information. There she finds Angel John lurking in the darkness. He explains some of the theory (such as Angels being bound by rules) as well as some of the plot in case you may have missed the previous film… all while devouring a Twinkie.
“I have a weakness for these.”
“Maybe it’s the angel food cake?”
Well Kari hides in a funeral procession, Todd tortures Dylan, attempting to drive him back to his cause. He’s valuable because Wuhrer trusts him now and he can get close to her. A storm rages outside the small church Wuhrer has taken shelter in. Lightning flashes, thunder rumbles, wind blows out the candles and then… there’s the dead girl. Standing before her. She tells Wuhrer that she died for her, so that she could use her funeral to escape the angels but now she has to wait in the cold ground, because the bad angels won’t let her into heaven. She implores Wuhrer not to give them the book… even if they tear her apart. Once again, I feel more Hellraiser vibes off of this than I do The Prophecy, not that I’m complaining. As soon as the ghost vanishes, Assassin Dylan arrives. Outside, the angel start to gather, and Dylan betrays her, leading her out and into their clutches. Wuhrer is now face-to-face with angel Todd, while Dylan goes off to try and drink his guilt away.
The problem is, the rules come in to play. Todd can’t kill Kari, and he can’t drive the information out of her, so he lets her go…
Wuhrer just sort of wanders into the next scene, it’s a clunky transition to a park where she spends some time talking to Angel John. Kari is conflicted – because Todd’s Angel wants to prevent Armageddon, where as Angel John wants to start it. It’s hard for her to pick a side and that internal conflict takes center stage in this installment. She makes a decision to head off and retrieve the profits lexicon from its hiding place, but Angel Todd and assassin Dylan are right on her heels.
I’ve got to admit, the film has an ending that I did not see coming – and yet it’s completely satisfying. Four and five together make a really fun narrative and create their own little series within a series – it’s very strange, but I dig it. Again I feel the need to mention this doesn’t feel like the first Prophecy, it doesn’t feel like that first trilogy – it shares some of the same DNA but it’s definitely it’s own thing… and that thing isn’t bad. I’m probably more likely to watch four and five again then I am to ever crack out one through three.
I’ve been struggling with how to talk about the new Mortal Kombat movie. I’m not huge into doing reviews a big blockbusters anyhow, because everyone and their brother does it… This little blog in the right hand corner of nowhere probably isn’t going to provide any new or meaningful insight.
The other problem is because this is a franchise actually have a certain weird attachment to. Not a sacred cow like Superman, but I was there when Mortal Kombat took over the world as a video game. You were either a Street Fighter guy or a Mortal Kombat guy… and I was definitely a Mortal Kombat person. I was there when the first movie came out… and became widely considered the first good video game movie. I still have great affection and nostalgia for it. Yeah this new film is good. In fact it may objectively be a better film than the original… But do I like it better?
When the first Mortal Kombat film came out it was at the height of the franchise popularity. They really could’ve done anything that they wanted and slap that label and characters into it and been successful. I mean, just look at the success of that dreadful cartoon they half heartedly put together. But for the live action, they chose to basically rip off Enter the Dragon… And if you’re going to copy, steal from the best. They created a fun buddy cop sort of film with the relationship between Liu Kang and Johnny Cage, with it being very much a martial arts tournament movie. That’s where the new film really diverges. The fighting, the tournament, it’s all secondary. We do get some one on one matches, but their montage and we blow through them surprisingly quickly. The focus here is more on an almost superhero fantasy.
The big problem with the new movie is there’s no story. They drift from set piece to set piece, and the narrative is a very weak string that ties it all together. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie, Star Trek first contact, arguably considered the best of the next generation films, is very similar. Light on story, heavy on spectacle. That’s what this is. The characters look great, most of them looking very much like they should.(I’m a little unnerved to see scorpions real face… And not just a skull) There is an attempt to really build some drama and pathos between the subzero and scorpion story, something that was missing from the original film. Back then, I remember liking the fact that those two are the only ones who look like they should, but simultaneously being pissed that they were on the same side. Definitely not a mistake they make here. There’s some influence that’s obviously been taken from the Mortal Kombat Legacy DVD we talked about earlier this week, and really, it would’ve been nice if they brought Michael Jai White over as Jax. Casting Mechad Brooks from Supergirl instead… Yeah, I just don’t buy it. However the rest of the roles feel right.
One of the things I kept thinking was “they could’ve done this in the original if they just had the technology”. The original Mortal Kombat makes innovative use of CG and puppetry, cutting edge at the time but limited by today’s standards. The new film really leans into the FX for the powers… Especially with Subzero. The ice effects are brilliant, and they genuinely look good. Ice is a tough sell, but they manage to nail it every time.
At the end of the day, I’m really pleased with this movie. It’s not necessarily my Mortal Kombat. It feels less like a comic book, it takes itself way more seriously, but I enjoy the fact that it’s harsh and bloody… Delivering on the promise that we got from the original video game. I’m eager to see more, and I hope that they’ll actually throw more money at the sequel. The greatest downfall of the original Mortal Kombat is that they slashed the budget for the sequel, going direct to video and devolving into what looked like a weekday afternoon kids show – Power Rangers or VR troopers. Mortal Kombat Annihilation just fails to work on most levels, not to mention killing one of your main characters in the first scene is always a downer from the word go. The new franchise hopefully has learned from the missteps of the past, with the promise of more characters from the franchise to come.
For the moment, I’ll just leave you with this bit of snark. (It made me laugh)
I haven’t done a TV blog in weeks because first off, Superman and Lois is on hiatus. The Flash has been solid. Good stuff, nothing extraordinary,… Just a good solid average TV week in and week out. Remember when television was like that? Of course it’s taking a few weeks off too. Falcon and the Winter Soldier actually started out in that same mold, solid entertainment, but then got a little more woke than I prefer towards the end. So all in all, I haven’t had much to talk about. I’ve been seeking elsewhere for my television entertainment.
The Food That Built America has come on my radar with a vengeance. It’s a documentary series on the history channel and in it’s second season, that has absolutely shocking marvelous stories about very familiar food. Nathan‘s hotdogs, white castle, Hershey, but the one that really pushed me over the edge and made me a devotee was the McDonald’s versus Burger King episode. See, if you watched Michael Keaton in The Founder, you know how McDonald’s started, but this episode really tells the second part of the story – how it expanded and the birth of the Big Mac as a reaction to Burger king’s Whopper. You get some amazing insights as to both McDonald’s and Burger King, moreover, it’s fascinating to see the development of such familiar comfort food as white castle, and hotdogs in general. Hershey’s Chocolate and all sorts of other things that just seem a part of normal every every day life. Seriously, I’m riveted.
The other television I’m obsessing over is the Big Bad B Movie Show. That one may take some explaining.
The Big Bad B Movie Show is a horror host show, much like Elvira or Svengoolie on MeTV. There was a time when every city had their own unique horror host. It’s an art that’s slowly fading away, but in Cleveland, we don’t let go of things quite so easily. We had Big Chuck and Lil John right up through the 90s, and there’s something in the water here that grows horror hosts at a faster rate than any other state in the union. So the newest crop are Leopold and Lenora… And they’re brilliant. The most significant thing about Leopold and Lenora, is that they’ve found a fairly original formula to do the whole horror host thing with, and that’s no mean trick. Leopold is a hipster doofus, and Lenora is a glam airhead counterpart. They’re both brilliant and hilarious. I’ve watched sketches that involve terrible children shows… “So kids, come on let’s start with grabbing the kitchen knife!” And Gwar as a personal injury firm, as well as terrible horror scopes, parodies on the purge, and the worst imitation of Vincent Price I’ve ever seen. It’s all glorious. If I have any complaint, it’s that they also incorporate other local (Somewhat opportunistic) horror hosts the mummy in the monkey, eating up one hosting segment that would be better served by Leopold and Lenora. Nevertheless, the big bad B-movie show is easily one of the best horror host shows in decades… And I should know. I am a bit of a horror host groupie, and yet I can’t sing the praises the show enough. I’m enjoying every second of it.
Well, perhaps not every second of it, they are still stuck with public domain films… Which means they’re showing the same set of movies that every other Internet horror host Joe’s. It’s really the one weakness of the series, but on the other hand, I don’t mind watching Robot Monster and the Last Man on Earth quite so much with these companions to join me. You can watch Leopold and Lenora on the Channel 19 news app, available on fire stick… Or do a web search for WUAB TV Cleveland, and you’re sure to find The Big Bad B Movie Show. It’s absolutely worth your time, and is now the highlight of my week.
I’m a fan of Moral Kombat, indeed I was always more of a MK guy than a Street Fighter person and absolutely love the film with Robin Shoe and Christopher Lambert . With the new movie in theaters this weekend, I wanted to also revisit some of the old stuff! We’re going to start with this Dollar Tree find.
When I pulled out the MK legacy DVD, I was shocked to see it cut into episodes. I suddenly assumed I was looking at a TV series instead of the movie I expected. Turns out these are actually about 10 minute webisodes that all collect into a sort of feature anthology. Not a terrible idea, so we’ll still treat this as a film.
Part one actually starts off very industrialized, and believe it or not it’s actually a good look for Mortal Kombat. The factory building robots, this heavy foreshadowing for things like Sektor’s head and Kano’s mask. Sonya’s there though, and I’ve got admit, I think I actually like Jeri Ryan in this role even better and I did Bridgette Wilson (the actress in the original film). She’s got a harder edge t her than Wilson, though I think I would’ve preferred her a bit younger, nevertheless Jeri Ryan still pulls off the part. Michael Jae White as her partner Jax on the other hand, kind of strikes me as a bulkier Shemar Moore.
Sonya reports back in that she’s found Kano in the factory, and hearing this, Jax knows she’s gonna go off half cocked and sets off to rescue her. He’s not wrong, in the next scene we see her in a lonely hallway, chained to the ceiling with Kano coming in menacingly. Elsewhere in the factory, Jax and his team arrive in the rescue mission. It’s a good fire fight, not necessarily what you expect from Mortal Kombat but definately well choreographed action.
As the melee continues between Jax and Kano, Sonja frees herself and we get to explore the complex. Jaxdelivers one mean roundhouse punch to Kano and we pretty much see why he wears a mask now! It ends up when A bomb explodes and we see everybody recuperating how they can.
Our next is Johnny Cage, being hyped up in a sort of reality TV feature documentary. Unlike the original film, where Cage is at the height of his power, this shows him all washed up, unable to make the transition to big budget action films. It’s not his talent that’s in question, it’s his bad behavior off screen, picking fights with random people and getting into trouble with the law. I cringe a little bit when he tells is it agent “I haven’t worked since Power Rangers went off the air”. I hope this isn’t really a swipe at the green ranger Jason David Frank (a great martial artist, nice guy and regular on the con circuit). It might not be, actor Matt Mullins did in fact star in one of the Power Ranger spinoffs, Kamen rider. Either way, they’re honest in thier evaluation of film culture in 2010…The action film is dead, and you can see why he’s having a hard time…except he’s getting stabbed in the back by his agents and they’re pitching his show other people now.
Cage gets into a tussle with security and he takes them reasonably easily because, course hes Johnny Cage! Suddenly, time stops. A mysteries man walked out of the darkness offer him a place in the tournament.
I’m reminded again that these are a bunch of separate little vignettes when we transition to the next set which is a combination of animation and live action. It’s the story of Outworld and Sho Kahn’s rise to power, with his General Baraka. But it’s really the story of Princess Kitana , Princess Mylena and Queen Sindel.
The combination of animation and live action is bizarre, jarring in places. I was wondering if they went this route because they didn’t have enough footage shot. Either way though the character development is marvelous, far greater than anything we’ve seen before and generally more than the subject matter deserves. They really lean into the Game of Thrones fantasy aspects and it works.
Raiden’s story fast forwards us back to the present, here on earth and see him in a mental facility. It’s a strange take on the character and continuity.
Using a taser on Raiden is probably the worst idea ever.
Ultimately, he has to transcend his human form and release the god within. Of all these segments, it’s probably the most out of place, and were I watching just a film, I would have assumed it was added to fill time rather than as a passion project for the director, Kevin Tancharoen.
It doesn’t matter that much though, because the next section is what I’ve been waiting for. Subzero and Scorpion! We get an interesting origin for our two archetypal ninjas. It feels like a snowy ninja movie, and the first time those familiar robes are unveiled, sent a shiver down my spine. It’s a well done piece of homage to the kung fu films that Mortal Kombat draws it’s inspiration from. We have ninja clans and a dead shogun and a generational grudge and it’s beautiful.
Traditionally, we’ve spent more time following Sub Zero, but this time Scorpion is the star, and it’s really fascinating to explore how he became this kind of ghost, why he’s filled with vengence and why he’s back. It sets up the grudge match in the tournament perfectly.
We end the series with the robots, and interesting concepts where a particular clan has trained and brainwashed assassins for generations now turning towards cybernetics. Assasins are transitioned from humans and rebuilt into robots. It’s definitely a the section with the most body horror, but I do come I feel like I know a lot more about Sektor and Cyrax, and it brings the story full circle as we can see that this is what Kano’s factory was working on at the beginning.
Mortal Kombat and example of a dollar store find that isn’t at all what I expected it to be but still a nice hidden gem. Wish I’d had this movie 20 years ago at the height of my fandom, but I’d still be content to pop this in and watch it as a prequel anytime before I dig into the classic film. I recommend. Good action and good sci fi.