You know a movie people love to riff and is unbearable without anyone talking over it? Birdemic. That movie has characters with zero chemistry, no charisma, horrible acting and even worse editing and special effects. The whole point of that movie is to warn people about global warming and the effects it would have on the environment and the inhabitants of this planet. Why am I mentioning such a movie? Well, because in 1977, a movie called Day of the Animals was released in theaters and it also deals with animals and the environment also. The main difference is that this movie was done so much better with a better budget, “good” actors and it also has a plot that actually is easy to decipher without any monologue scientific babble going on that comes out of nowhere and delays the movie from finishing. With that being said, comparing the two movies isn’t fair and should not the best reference to go on. The one question to ask is this movie enjoyable to watch? We’ll be breaking down the movie based on plot, the suspense/animal attacks that are frequent throughout the movie and the overall message of the movie. Let’s roll up our sleeves and put on plenty of sunblock as we take a dive into the mountains and explore Day of the Animals.
We open the movie with a text scroll. It warns us about aerosol canisters and its harm on the ozone layer and what it can do to the environment. It sets the mood for the movie. The movie is about a bunch of weekend hikers who go into the woods with a guide to get away from the city life and get back in touch with nature. We have a bunch of characters including a professor, former football player, two young lovers, a couple going through a rough patch, an ad executive, mother and her son, an anchorwoman, a Native American and the tour guide. So, it’s a great turn out. They take helicopters and go into the woods where they start to hike but notice that it is very quiet out there. They don’t hear any animals except for a lone screech/caw of a hawk. As they get further and further into the woods, they notice the animals stalking them. The birds are gathered together on the branches and just stare at them. It only becomes a problem when a woman (the one in the rough patch) gets attacked by a lone wolf. After the wolf retreats, the rough patch couple split from the group to get help while the rest of the tour continue. This is when the audience will start to know this is the beginning of the end for many of these characters. We just don’t know yet who will die and who will survive. The plot has a nice beat of the drum with the movie. It doesn’t really try to hurry up the action and the animal attack scenes but rather have the tension of the people grow and start to splinter as they start to lose hope that they will make it out alive. Though the pacing in the beginning could be a little contrived and not too interesting, it does make up for it with exposition of different characters just so we know a little bit more about them and give some sort of humanity to them so they don’t feel like a cardboard cutout of stock characters. I do enjoy each character has some sort of personality and even if it is annoying or racist, they still have their defining characteristic as well as a defining moment in the movie whether its a fight scene, a death scene or just for surviving.
From the beginning of the movie, we get lots of different scenes with animals and reptiles in their habitat doing their thing. It it shot very nice with just a nice hint of that 1970’s grainy film that we often associate with this time period. It would be nice having Morgan Freeman narrating the nature shots for how frequent they were using them but I digress. The animal attack scenes are done very well. The protagonists have their uneasiness in the wild and the animals are constantly stalking them throughout with a lone hawk seemingly being the boss/lookout. It’s when the music builds to that uneasy sound or the dead silence is when the animals will attack. Though they don’t get graphic with the blood and the final cue de grace, the shots being implemented show the animals attacking with some angles of the animals mouths, humans screaming and the rest of the characters reacting to the attack. It creates the uncomfortable image of an animal attacking and what it will look like if you were on the other end. In the pack attack sequences, there is so much going on and all you see are swarms of the animals and a lonely body on the ground squirming and the fighting. I enjoy the scenes with the animals because it offers us variety. We get a chance with swarm of hawks, mountain lions, wolves, rats, rattlesnakes, and even German shepherds’. I think the suspense of the animals and what they can actually do to a human offers us a glimpse of what to do and not to do when confronted by animals in the woods or even on your own street.
With the action sequences and the animals going crazy and attacking people, what is the message the director is trying to tell us? Is this supposed to have a profound impact on the consumers daily life or is the movie a cash grab to incite the same kind of uneasiness and fear like The Birds did with Hitchcock? I think with the text scroll, it has a little bit of both. The director, lead actor and producer of the movie did Grizzly the year before to much success. That movie was compared to a knockoff of Jaws. This movie is I guess the knockoff of The Birds. I don’t really think the director was trying to give a profound message about the environment but rather used the ozone depletion as a way to give a reason to why the animals are attacking the people.
Though the director might not have given us his reason, it does offer questions about the ozone layer in general. With all the devastation happening currently right now in America with the hurricanes and a giant earthquake hitting Mexico, how has ozone depletion really affect the planet? I’m not going to go Al Gore on anyone talking about the polar ice caps melting and sea levels rising and the temperature on the planet continually rising (Oh snap, I did say that. Oops). Either or, the radiation that protects us is in the ozone layer and with it constantly decreasing, would radiation poison be a factor in animals natural behavior? Could this be a precursor for things to come? Will we expose enough animals to radiation that they can mutate and there could be an actual Planet of the Apes where humans becomes the endangered species? Maybe? I doubt it. Or, do I?…
Overall, this movie was fun. It tells a concise story and the action and suspense keeps me interested in who will come out on top and who will become the next victim. Some of the acting is a little hokey and it can have extra exposition at the times we don’t really want it, but, it does give the characters a background and some personality instead of stock characters who we don’t know much about and are just scene fillers. The animals are trained very well in the movie and it is nice to have a variety instead of just bears and wolves. If you want to see a movie that is about animals attacking humans caused by poor environment, watch this and avoid Birdemic.
“Day of the Animals” is available on Amazon Prime.
Written by Leon Rudzin
Joy Ride Is An Extremely Raunchy And Hilarious Comedy
Joy Ride is an extremely raunchy and hilarious comedy that takes the mantle of ensemble risky
comedies that at times, leave your mouth on the floor. Joy Ride focuses on two best friends
Audrey and Lolo (Ashley Sullivan and Sherry Cola) end up getting roped up into a trip to Asia,
they end up on gals pal cross-continent trek to find Audrey’s long lost birth mother so she
doesn’t lose a huge business deal.
The chemistry in this movie is superb. Every character has their moment to shine and there’s
rarely a scene where you don’t get a belly laugh. I was shocked at how crazy and bold this
movie got, continually pushing the line to get a laugh. The movie does a good job of getting to
the point and getting to the scenes that really make you chuckle. There are some editing choices where the story flies by some stuff, and it feels a little incomplete, but never at the expense of really enjoying being around for the journey.
I thought that this was a sleeper for this year and certainly a movie worth watching with your
friends some weekend. It’s great to throw on if you want a laugh and really just enjoy some
great actors riffing off each other. The focus on culture was a nice touch and really elevated the movie to another level. While I would say if you’re easily offended, this movie is not for you – if you’re looking for a no holds barred comedy, Joy Ride is a trip worth taking.
Who Doesn’t Want To Wear The Ninja Suit Of Snake-Eyes Or Dress Like The Mandalorian?
Hasbro has had their pulse app out for a while now. It allows for access to items to buy, preorder, and a look into future projects and releases. It also allows for a very cool thing most nerds (a group of which I am a proud card-carrying member) have always wanted, the ability to make yourself into an action figure. I’ve contemplated making one for a time but, I finally got my chance to get my hands on one at Comic-Con this year. Now, of course, I had to wait in line as it was a pretty sought-after item. Who doesn’t want to have themselves wear the ninja suit of Snake-Eyes or dressed like a Mandalorian? I was approached by one of the booth staff as I was showing my nephew all the cool ways we could get him his own MIles Morales action figure with his face (as he’s a massive fan) and invited to take a seat and scan our faces into the Hasbro Pulse app with the help of their awesome team and make this dream a reality. My wife was with us, so of course she got in on the fun too. We scanned our faces in and it was very simple and quick. Then we all selected our figures to add our heads to. We all chose Power Rangers(Me as the Black Ranger, my wife chose the pink ranger and the nephew got the red ranger). Then we were told that we needed to wait about 4-6 weeks and we’d have our custom action figure team in our hands. This was a major part of our Comic-Con adventure and definitely, a memory my wife and nephew won’t forget (as it was both of their first Con ever). Thank you to Hasbro for being so generous(also getting me brownie points that home) and I highly suggest checking out Hasbro Pulse and all the cool stuff it has to offer.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter: Double-knock on wood!
Adapted and written largely from the Captain’s Log chapter of Bram Stoker’s magnum opus Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the story of Dracula’s journey by ship from Carpathia to London, and what happened to her crew in the interim.
So here we are in Bulgaria, middle of 1897, and Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) of the Russian schooner Demeter is here to take on some strange cargo from some unknown client and transport it to Carfax Abbey in London. In need of some extra hands, the Captain sends out his capable Second Wojchek (David Dastmalchian) to scout for some, and initially the roving black doctor and aspiring philosopher Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is passed over in favor of more work-roughened men. The adorable cabin boy of the Demeter, Toby (Woody Norman), narrowly misses being crushed by the mysterious dragon-marked crates being loaded onto the ship, saved by Clemens himself and switched out with the superstitious sailors running from the Demeter like they had been poisoned by the sign of Dracul. And now, armed with some nine or so crewmen, Doc Clemens, and Captain Eliot himself, the twenty-four strange what looks like coffins adorned with dragon signs brought mostly safely aboard, the Demeter can make for open water and the Hell that awaits them there.
The duty of showing Clemens around the ship falls to a cheerful Toby, who proudly shows him the living areas, the Captain’s quarters, the very-large cargo hold, the galley and kitchen where the overly-devout Joseph (Jon Jon Briones) cooks the crews meals, the various above decks, even the sails, and the rigging are all at least touched on, and the livestock pens that Toby himself is in charge of, including the handsome good-boy doggy Huckleberry, or just Huck. We the audience get a very clear feeling of what it’s like to actually be aboard the Demeter, just how large she really is, and what living on a ship for months at sea is really like, the reality and practicality and the dangers of it.
Everyone more or less settles in for a hopefully uneventful voyage, taking mess around the common table and exchanging ideas or aspirations for when they arrive in London early thanks to the fair winds, and receive a handsome bonus for their troubles. But that involves being alive and making it to London to spend said bonus and pay, and the coffin crates spilling dark soil from the motherland and disgorging all sorts of other nasty secrets, have some serious plans to the contrary.
First, it’s the livestock, innocent and shrieking in their locked pens as a monster takes great furious bites out of their necks, and of course, the creature just straight up ruins poor doggy Huck. Then there’s the fully grown girl that gets dislodged from an open coffin-crate, covered in bite scars and as pale as death, she eventually starts interacting and talking after several blood transfusions from Doc Clemens, Toby learns her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi). And then, as the weather turns foul and the winds begin to be a serious problem, the attacks turn toward the remaining humans onboard the Demeter.
Most people these days are familiar with Dracula, that gorgeous cunning vampire Elder who can supposedly transform into a bat or a wolf, seducing women to voluntarily offer up their veins like an unholy sacrament, a being at once beautiful and powerful, but also horrific and murderous if given half a heartbeat to smell your blood. This is not Dracula.
Instead, the creature that hunts the humans occupying the Demeter is an absolute monster, not a single human feature left to it, barely even recognizable as humanoid-shaped, instead boasting not just full-length bat wings but an entire exo-skin of bat membranes that can be used for feeding, a mouth full of needle-like teeth akin to a predator of the deepest darkest parts of the ocean, those yellowed Nosferatu eyes that will not tolerate light in any way, and of course giant pointy bat-ears. This is a thing, a grotesque straight from the depths of Hell, and no amount of glamor magic can make this Dracula (Javier Botet) seem like anything other than what he, is – a parasitic demon who only wants your blood. There is no reasoning with it, no trapping it, not even really any talking to it (kinda hard to talk when your throat has been ripped out), and, like the much more frightening Dracula stories of old, no amount of pure faith behind a symbol does anything other than give false hope.
Coming face to face with an actual abomination does different things to different people. The formerly delightfully foul-mouthed Abrams (Chris Walley) dissolves into a blubbering mess; poor Larsen (Martin Furulund) didn’t even get to see his own death coming; and it turns out Olgaren (Stefan Kapicic) wants to live so badly, he’ll suffer becoming a blank-eyed Renfield if that’s what it takes. All of Cook Joseph’s purported pure faith didn’t stop him from trying to take the coward’s way out and didn’t save him anyway when the sound of unnatural bat wings descended on him. I find that kind of irony delicious. Dear Anna, resigned to her fate to be eternal food for the horror that terrorized her village, nevertheless wants to try and save whoever is left of the Demeter with her own sacrifice, and there aren’t many. Wojchek of course wants to kill Dracula, but for all his logic and solid practical nature, has no experience whatsoever with this sort of thing, and sure doesn’t want to sacrifice the Demeter, the beloved ship he called home that was promised to him by Captain Eliot himself, in order to destroy that demon. Even poor sweet Toby isn’t safe from the creature’s clutches, and what happens to the cabin boy of the Demeter is what finally sends Captain Eliot over the blooming edge. And who could blame him? For this sort of thing to happen during the last voyage of such a proud, solid ship as the Demeter, is some serious bullsh*t.
To leave such a film open for a potential sequel, especially when called the last voyage of something, was a pretty hefty ask, and somehow the filmmakers managed it. I personally think a different version of Van Helsing, the infamous vampire hunter, teaming up with a certain black doctor who nurses a serious grudge against Dracula, could be a kickass sequel. Until then, experience the doomed final journey of the Demeter and her poor crew in all it’s bloodstained glory, in theaters now!