Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

Director: Lana Wachowski

Notable Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Jessica Henwick, Neil Patrick Harris, Jada Pinkett Smith, Priyanka Chopra, Christina Ricci, Lambert Wilson, Chad Stahelski


There’s a joke somewhere where I sarcastically connect the term ‘reboot’ between a computer being reset to cleanse itself of running programs and the idea that this long awaited sequel, The Matrix Resurrections, serves as both a sequel and a reboot to the series as it attempts to enter into its next phase of existence. It’s an easy joke to make and I spent a stupid amount of time sitting in the theater prior to the start of the movie trying to craft the wording and introduction to this review. 


Too bad The Matrix Resurrections beat me to the punch. 


This fourth film in the series, although one might consider it the fifth since the Wachowskis consider the spin off film, The Animatrix, as canon in the series, knows exactly what purpose it serves. This is a film that’s meant to recapture the delights of the original 1999 genre-bending classic while pushing the franchise into a new age for possible new sequels and IP creation while feeding into an audience’s nostalgia. It’s the quintessential reboot. That’s the definition. That’s what a reboot is and does. 


Saturday, December 18, 2021

King Boxer (1972) [Shawscope Volume 1 Boxset]

King Boxer
, or as it may be more widely known in the US as Five Fingers of Death, is such a seminal kung fu film in the history of cinema that it absolutely had to be the first film featured in this latest boxset from Arrow Video, Shawscope Vol. 1. Now I won’t review the film in whole here, as I have said what I had to say over in an article on the impact and strength of the film at the 36 Styles website (link below for those interested), but I did want to make mention that it’s one hell of a way to kick off a box set. 


Not only is this the best the film has looked in release in the US, although my Dragon Dynasty DVD certainly holds up, but it has a ton of fantastic features worth mentioning. In particular, the Tony Rayns commentary about the history of the Shaw Brothers studio as it led up to the release of King Boxer - including a fantastic discussion on its director, is one of the highlights of the entire box set. 


It also features a slick little documentary about the Shaw Brothers studio, the first of three parts, that covers a ton of ground and is a nice feature to add to the mix. A plethora of interviews, alternative titles to feature the US titles, and commentary by David Desser cap off the features and all of them are worth the examination if you are cinephile - and not just ones interested in kung fu. 


As mentioned, if you want to read my full review of the film, please visit the 36 Styles website here: 


Written By Matt Reifschneider

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Disciples of Shaolin (1975)

Director: Chang Cheh

Notable Cast: Alexander Fu Sheng, Chi Kuan-Chun, Chen Ming-Li, Wang Ching-Ping, Lu Ti, Chiang Tao, Fung Hak-On


There are an epic amount of kung fu movies that start off with a demonstration of the martial arts that will be shown in the upcoming film, performed in front of a starkly colored backdrop. It’s a commonplace occurrence in many of these films, particularly from a specific time period, that fans of the studio’s output will be familiar with. 


With Disciples of Shaolin, there is a specific tone to how the film starts in this style. The bright yellow background allows a shirtless Alexander Fu Sheng to pop, as he runs through a series of kung fu movements. There is no score. The sound of the metal rings on his arms clank and jingle. His face is dour and intense. He moves to practice on a set of Shaolin poles as a soundtrack finally sneaks in for the last portion. 


This routine carries on for almost five minutes before the film leaps into its main story, following a bullheaded and cocky young fighter, played by Alexander Fu Sheng, as he attempts to make a name for himself on the hard streets while befriending another mysterious fighter played by Chi Kuan-Chun. 


Saturday, December 11, 2021

The Monkey King Reborn (2021)

Director: Wang Yunfei

Notable Cast: Bian Jiang, Cai Haiting, Su Shangqing, Zhang Lei, Zhang He, Lin Qiang, Liu Sicen, Wang Chenguang, Song Ming, Feng Sheng, Zhang Yaohan, Bai Xuecen, Qiu Qiu


At this point and time, with the boom of the Chinese film industry still refusing to slow down, bolstered by the emergence of new avenues like straight-to-streaming and animation studios, it’s always good to know that there will now be an exponential amount of Monkey King movies to flood my viewing queue. I mean, there was already an entire industries’ worth that has already been released, but now there are further avenues to make even more.




The latest is the animated feature, The Monkey King Reborn, which is granted a very gracious US release via our friends over at Well Go USA on both DVD and Blu Ray. It’s not the first animated feature of the Monkey King to drop in the US, although I’d be hard pressed to find anyone that remembers Monkey King: Hero Is Back from five or six years ago (even with Jackie Chan voicing Wukong in the English dub). And, quite frankly, Monkey King Reborn may not quite find its American audience either. 


Sunday, December 5, 2021

Antlers (2021)

Director: Scott Cooper

Notable Cast: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, Amy Madigan, Cody Davis, Sawyer Jones, Arlo Hajdu


Back in early 2018, Guillermo del Toro made a phenomenal speech after winning the Golden Globe for Best Director. He spoke about how his dedication to telling stories about monsters was driven by their meaning beyond scares and fear and how their representation of our flaws as the human race made them incredibly provocative and meaningful. 


With a speech like that, it’s not shocking that most of the films he produces, even when wavering in quality, tend to aim for that same layered storytelling. That’s why when it was announced he would be producing the Scott Cooper-directed horror film, Antlers, it was hard not to get excited. Unfortunately, a pandemic and some studio delays made sure that the film didn’t get released until the latter part of 2021 for the Halloween season, but strong trailers and an interesting combination between producer and director crafted one of the most hyped films of the year. 


Unsurprisingly, I suppose, audiences and critics panned the film. 


Antlers does represent an intriguing mixture of balancing and tones underneath a film that is both perhaps too mainstream for the A24 crowd and too vaguely layered in its offbeat artistic choices for the mainstream crowd. It walks an achingly wound tightrope of expectations and the results were going to disappoint at least one of the two sides of the audience it was aiming for. However, Antlers is hardly the tragic misfire of talents that so many of its critics and fans claimed it to be. While it does make a variety of perplexing decisions with its material, there is such a daunting and haunting undercurrent of its themes that deserves far more credit than it was given. 


As the film follows its main characters, led by schoolmarm Julia and her local sheriff brother Paul, it does play itself on two levels. The surface level is the classic “nature fighting back against the grievances of man” where a Wendigo is unleashed upon a small town in Oregon due to the results of over-foresting and mining. Julia, played with the now natural ability of Keri Russell to feign confidence and capability over a traumatic character’s past - mostly likely refined by her stint on The Americans, starts to investigate a young boy in her class who she sees signs of domestic abuse. It doesn’t take long to escalate as the Wendigo the young boy is trying to keep at bay, releases its fury at people in the small community. 


For this level, Antlers hammers into the formulas of the creature feature in some interesting ways. The film avoids showing the ravages of the incidents on the town as a whole, avoiding some of the cliches of the townsfolk up in arms about murders or disappearances, and instead focuses on the tale of the two main families - that of Julia and her brother and the young boy tormented by the Wendigo. Cooper cakes the film an atmospheric visual fog, utilizing impressive cinematography to create a fairytale-like tonality to this story. The performances are impressive enough between its three leads - strongly using Jesse Plemons to balance out Keri Russell in a thematic way (more on that in a second) and benefiting from a screen stealing performance from Jeremy Thomas as the young boy, Lucas, which garners an uneasy relationship with film’s viewers in his blank, vaguely sad eye acting and emaciated physical performance. 


It’s ultimately an intimate film in how it approaches its story, something that doesn’t necessarily lean on the spectacle of its monster that people might have been expecting, and it tends to leave a lot of its backstories and explanations vague and subtle. At times this can be frustrating, particularly how the film leans heavily away from the Native American roots of its creature and only brushes by those in a way that feels like it might have been a studio note on the script, rather than a fully realized thematic element. Yet, it’s hard for me not to buy into the larger choices that Cooper is making for its narrative and the overall creature feature of its surface story. It’s enough to capture my attention with some strong visuals and entertaining horror sequences that build on the accumulating dread of its mysteries around the Wendigo. 


Yet, it’s the thematic elements and allegories that are the reason Antlers hung with me long after its credits had rolled by. It should be notable that the film brushes along a slew of various themes from the previously mentioned resource mismanagement or the Native American lore, but it also touches on a couple of key ones with the human condition like alcoholism or addiction and the circular cycle of domestic violence. It’s in these latter themes that Antlers thrives. The manner that it ties these thematic ideas into the Wendigo lore and how the characters interact lifts the film above the usual creature feature material. There’s a lot to chew on in these portions and it’s worth noting for its layered approach to the material. 


Perhaps Antlers was just a film that could not live up to its own hype created by its strong marketing and balancing act between cinematic approaches. At least in the public’s eye. Its allegories are layered in multiple ways and its tale of a creature is far more concerned with its themes than consistency in narrative.  That’s the trick of the film, ultimately. Its unique choices and bold topics are not necessarily in the best balance, but it's through those choices that Antlers finds its voice - in between the styles and in between the tones.  


Written By Matt Reifschneider

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021)

Director: Johannes Roberts

Notable Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Robbie Amell, Hannah John-Kamen, Neal McDonough, Tom Hopper, Avan Jogia, Donal Logue, Nathan Dales, Josh Cruddas, Lily Gao


After grossing an insane amount of money and making it one of the biggest box office horror franchises of all time, Sony wasn’t going to take long to reboot the Resident Evil franchise. It’s not like Sony has a lot of load-bearing franchises to begin with under their belt and letting this one stay dormant for too long would be asinine. 


To their benefit, this reboot of the long-running video game series does go back to the source material roots and away from the Matrix-knock-off action meets the inescapable silliness of Paul WS Anderson throwing random shit at his audience. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, while still sporting one of the worst titles I can think of in recent history, is a fantastic idea on paper. Go back to the horror. Go back to the much-loved characters. Go back to the fear that the Resident Evil game series used to launch an entire subgenre of gaming.


It’s a shame that Resident Evil - I refuse to use its full title from this point on - is a middling effort. 


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Shock Wave 2 (2021)

Director: Herman Yau

Notable Cast: Andy Lau, Sean Lau, Ni Ni, Philip Keung


After the first Shock Wave blew me away (I apologize) with its blend of tension, thrills, and weirdly effective emotional weight, waiting for sequel, Shock Wave 2, to finally receive a release in the United States was a bit of torture, a burning fuse that just kept burning and never reaching its end (I apologize again). After being released in 2020 to some decent box office numbers and word of mouth in China, the lack of interest in releasing the internationally well-regarded sequel - with significant star power behind and in front of the camera - didn’t bode well for its quality. Was Shock Wave 2 just aftershocks to the big shock of its predecessor? I won’t apologize for that joke. Nope. 


Sunday, November 7, 2021

Eternals (2021)

Director: Chloe Zhao

Notable Cast: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Ma Dong-seok, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Bill Skarsgard, Harish Patel


Disney and Marvel have always been very particular with how they expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The introduction of mysticism was in a wholly generic and formulaic origin film with Doctor Strange, the leap with Thor into the cosmos happens mostly on Earth, and the introduction of the multi-verse took two entire Avengers films to pull off. The latter is a choice that will now seemingly dominate the entirety of the franchise for the foreseeable future and allow for MCU to exist until mankind burns to the ground.


For Eternals, a full-on expansion of the MCU into epic cosmos insanity, Marvel and Academy Award-winning director Chloe Zhao attempt to ride that fine balance once again by introducing an entire new squad of Space Avengers. They are not the Guardians, for the record, but they do ask the hard questions to each other like “who will lead the Avengers now?” to make sure we don’t forget the film is part of the franchise, I guess. These Eternals have been patiently waiting on Earth to receive the call from Space Dad, a six-eyed stone-looking red space god named Arishem, to go back home. Naturally, not all is what it seems and the Eternals’ natural enemy, animal-like bundles of tendrils named Deviants, arise on Earth once more as a pending disaster looms on the horizon. 


Unsheathed and Ambitiously Flawed: The Emperor's Sword (2021) Review

Director: Yingli Zhang, Haonan Chen

Notable Cast: Fengbin Mu, Yilin Hao, Qihang Zhao, Qiyu Yang


The pandemic changed a lot of things in the film industry. At this point, discussion about the box office and the explosive expansion of streaming services are well-known discussion topics. To be fully honest, I’m a bit tired of talking about the birth of streaming, the death of ‘cinema’, and whether or not films that are released straight to a streaming service count as TV movies or Movie movies. I can only get into so many fights on social media before it ceases to be interesting. Let’s not forget though, that this change is happening all over the world. 


Case in point, The Emperor’s Sword was released to the Chinese streaming service Youku was picked up for distribution in the US via Well Go USA where it received its premiere on their streaming services, Hi Yah, before receiving a full-fledged Blu Ray release. It’s not the first film of this ilk to receive this kind of treatment and, yes, there is a cheaper look to the film and budgetary restraints that tend to limit the film’s tonality and approach, but The Emperor’s Sword is a much better film than expected. Perhaps I was just craving a newer wuxia film that doesn’t bombard its audience with bullshit CGI monsters and wanna-be Hollywood blockbuster spectacle, but there is a simplicity and classic tone to the core of this flick that hit me just right. 


Saturday, November 6, 2021

Yokai Monsters Collection: Along with Ghosts (1969)

After unleashing the Daimajin on collectors with their three-film box set only a handful of months ago, Arrow Video continues their Daiei run with the Yokai Monsters Collection. Complete with the original three film run of the Yokai Monster trilogy and auteur director Takashi Miike’s love letter to those films, this collection brings together four films that were not regularly available (if at all) to Western audiences. Whether you’re a fan of supernatural monster flicks, strange genre-bending slices of cinema, or Japanese film history, it’s hard to go wrong with this boxset as a collector.


The mileage that one gets from the films included in Yokai Monsters depends on their ability to roll with the shifting genres and a sense of artifice within their stories. This review covers the third film in the series, Along with Ghosts, but stay tuned for more reviews for the rest of the series. 



Directors: Kimiyoshi Yasuda, Yoshiyuki Kuroda

Notable Cast: Pepe Hozumi, Masami Burukido, Toura Sakiichi, Yoshito Yamaji, Bokuzen Hidari, Kojiro Hongo


After bouncing through the second film of the series, Spook Warfare, with all of its comedic elements and humorous and heartfelt yokai monster chemistry, the third film Along with Ghosts causes some significant whiplash. While all three films lean into the period set horror-tinged supernatural basics, this third and last (of this original run) of the series finds itself as the most cohesive and cinematically sound in its storytelling. It may not feature nearly as many yokai as the previous entry - or, quite honestly, as the first film, but it makes up for it by being a better film. 


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Last Night in Soho (2021)

Director: Edgar Wright

Notable Cast: Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, Michael Ajao, Terence Stamp


At this point, I'm feeling a bit out of the loop. I adored Edgar Wright as a director in decades previous, but his last two films - including Baby Driver and Last Night in Soho, have left me oddly cold. I think it’s because I feel like Wright has started to write his scripts to match visuals versus crafting visuals to fit the depths of the script. It's a small and nuanced change in approach, but one that I feel undercuts many of the interesting elements in his latest film, Last Night in Soho


With his love letter to giallo and the murder mysteries of the 1960s (some serious Mario Bava vibes here which is always a plus), Last Night in Soho is a gorgeous piece of cinema, and its direction and editing are impressive. The use of dream-like flow and fading with the narrative is artfully done. If anything, Wright is definitely soaring with his visual pops, use of mirror tricks, and creating that sense of "parallel" timelines that evokes a sense of fantasy that slowly seeps into nightmares. 


Monday, November 1, 2021

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin (2021)

Director: William Eubank

Notable Cast: Emily Bader, Roland Buck III, Dan Lippert, Henry Ayres-Brown, Tom Nowicki, Colin Keane, Jill St. John, Alexa Shae Niziak


Paranormal Activity is back. It’s a franchise that has always held a special place for me that was fascinatingly created almost completely in retroactive continuity between entries. In fact, just this October the Blood Brothers cousin podcast, No Franchise Fatigue, spent three entire episodes digging through the films of the series. You can listen to those episodes at the following links: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3. Nonetheless, it’s a series that is far more interesting as a whole than people usually give it credit for even when the quality of individual films waivers immensely. 


However, after an unmemorable and misguided “finale” to the Katie and Kristi Meet Tobi the Demon saga of the first six entries, Paranormal Activity was in desperate need of an injection of life. After six years, the seventh entry, under the title Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin, has been uploaded to the streaming service Paramount+ for our enjoyment. The latest entry represents an interesting shift in style and an entirely new story as a reboot of the series. It’s ultimately a mixed effort, but it does showcase the potential of the future for the long-running series. 


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Medium (2021)

Director: Banjong Pisanthanakun

Notable Cast: Sawanee Utoomma, Narilya Gulmongkolpech, Sirani Yankittikan, Yasaka Chaisorn, Boonsong Nakphoo, Arunee Wattana, Thanutphon Boonsang, Akkaradech Rattanawong


After spending a large portion of this October revisiting classic found-footage horror films and series for the Blood Brothers cousin podcast, No Franchise Fatigue, it seemed like a coincidence that Shudder’s latest exclusive film, The Medium, would utilize the format. The 00s and early 2010s trend of found footage horror is hardly dead, but it certainly has taken a step back as dramatic arthouse horror and slashers have started to make strong comebacks to dominate the genre lately. 


Despite its generic title, The Medium not only understands how to maximize the striking power of the found footage style, but its pacing, balance, and grounded execution make it one of the most terrifying films of the year. It’s a film that works on the surface as a slow-burning story of possession but also manages to embed a thematic religious layering that deepens the experience in some fascinating ways. Not only is it one of the best of the year, but The Medium may also just be one of the best found-footage horror films in the history of the genre. 


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Legend (1985)

Director: Ridley Scott

Notable Cast: Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Alice Playten, Billy Barty, Cork Hubbert, Peter O’Farrell, Kiran Shah, Annabelle Lanyon, Robert Picardo


It’s no secret that Ridley Scott is one of the most prolific directors still working. At the age of 83, the man is releasing two films in the final quarter of 2021 (The Last Duel and House of Gucci for those wondering) and his career is just as diverse in subject matter as the gap between those two films. However, while his directorial trajectory over the decades has had its roller coaster moments of quality, his early work is essential viewing. Genre fans, in particular, owe a great deal to the semi-auteur director.  Whether it’s Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, or Gladiator, Scott has produced films that have a significant legacy to them. 


Of course, then there’s Legend


Scott’s 1985 fantasy opus, starring an up-and-coming who’s who of young talent and featuring a truly ethereal sense of whimsy, darkness, and adventure, was actively met with disdain or apathy at the time of its release. It was often compared by critics and audiences to his previous film, Blade Runner, as a film lost in technicality and missing real characters or plots. Keep in mind that the mentioned science fiction epic was also met with disdain and/or apathy on its release. Yet, just like that film, Legend has garnered a vivacious cult fan base since then for all of the same reasons it was dismissed. Enough so that Arrow Video has deemed it worthy of a luscious new 4K restoration and collector’s edition package. 


Friday, October 22, 2021

Yokai Monsters Collection: Spook Warfare (1968)

After unleashing the Daimajin on collectors with their three-film box set only a handful of months ago, Arrow Video continue their Daiei run with the Yokai Monsters Collection. Complete with the original three film run of the Yokai Monster trilogy and auteur director Takashi Miike’s love letter to those films, this collection brings together four films that were not regularly available (if at all) to Western audiences. Whether you’re a fan of supernatural monster flicks, strange genre-bending slices of cinema, or Japanese film history, it’s hard to go wrong with this boxset as a collector.


The mileage that one gets from the films included in Yokai Monsters depends on their ability to roll with the shifting genres and a sense of artifice within their stories. This review covers the second film in the series, Spook Warfare, but stay tuned for more reviews for the rest of the series. 



Director: Yoshiyuki Kuroda

Notable Cast: Yoshihiko Aoyama, Akane Kawasaki, Takashi Kanda, Hideki Hanamura, Chikara Hashimoto, Hiromi Inoue, Mari Kanda, Gen Kimura


Although the first film in the Yokai Monsters series, 100 Monsters, told its story in full, that has never stopped a franchise from kicking forward. The first sequel, Spook Warfare, aims to take the same basic concept, people who accidentally unleash some classic mythological Japanese spirit monsters, and gives it a tonal and structural overhaul. The results are fascinatingly more entertaining as a whole and it easily fulfills the promises made with the title. 


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning (2021)

Director: Keishi Otomo

Notable Cast: Takeru Satoh, Kasumi Arimura, Issey Takahashi, Nijiro Murakami, Masanobu Ando, Kazuki Kitamura, Yosuke Eguchi, Towa Araki, Shima Onishi, Takahiro Fujimoto


With the fifth and (possibly) final installment of the Japanese box office juggernaut series, Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning might be one of the boldest ways to cap off a franchise. After the successful trilogy run previously, the series came back with what constitutes a two-part finale. The first portion of that, Rurouni Kenshin: The Final, was only released a handful of months prior to this one and acts as a final stamp on the series. It gives the red-haired wandering swordsman his peace to cap off a rather remarkable character arc that covered four films and featured some of the best action set pieces of the series, a bombastic set of spectacle-driven moments, and all of the characters that fans loved. It was the feather in the cap of one of action cinema’s most balanced and effective franchises. 


In the fourth film though, there are flashbacks to an origin for the titular character, Kenshin, that are the core for this prequel. Hence the title, Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning. Just in case there may be those who are new to the series or simply want to know just how upfront the filmmakers wanted to be with this entry. Yes, this fifth entry is a prequel to the entire series and, no, it does not suffer at all from the narrative setbacks and leaps of logic that plague so many prequels. 


To be frank, The Beginning might be the most daring in its tone, atmosphere, and artistic merits of the series. It’s an almost fully different experience than the others, cinematically speaking, and yet is the perfect lead-in for the story, character, and narrative build for all of the rest. It’s incredibly well-executed and ranks up there as one of the best. 


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Halloween Kills (2021)

Director: David Gordon Green

Notable Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Dylan Arnold, Robert Longstreet, Anthony Michael Hall, Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards


The revitalization of the Halloween franchise with 2018’s self-titled sequel, one that ignores every other film post the 1978 originator, is one for the history books. It reset the already over-complicated franchise to go back to the roots but it still managed to progress the lore forward in its own ways and inject a bit of social commentary that hit a lot of the right buttons. Its massive success in the box office and a strong love from the overall horror community made it ripe for reigniting one of the archetypal slasher franchises. It wasn’t a shock that Blumhouse was quick to capitalize on its success by announcing a sequel. 


However, it was tempting fate that they would announce two sequels to cap off the trilogy...a trilogy of four films, for the record, if you count the 1978 original. Still, it was hard not to get expectations up considering the strength of Halloween (2018), and a title like Halloween Kills does sound pretty legit and stroked the excitement of my inner teenager. 


With a half-melted ghostly mask in tow, Michael Myers once again stalks the silver screen with Halloween Kills and returning director David Gordon Green (along with some returning writers a slew of other filmmakers) aim to jack up the body count and set up a finale with the upcoming Halloween Ends that will bring his portion of the franchise to an end. The results are, in a fitting twist, incredibly problematic in their ambitions. 


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Yokai Monsters Collection: 100 Monsters (1968)

After unleashing the Daimajin on collectors with their three-film box set only a handful of months ago, Arrow Video continue their Daiei run with the Yokai Monsters Collection. Complete with the original three film run of the Yokai Monster trilogy and auteur director Takashi Miike’s love letter to those films, this collection brings together four films that were not regularly available (if at all) to Western audiences. Whether you’re a fan of supernatural monster flicks, strange genre-bending slices of cinema, or Japanese film history, it’s hard to go wrong with this boxset as a collector.


The mileage that one gets from the films included in Yokai Monsters depends on their ability to roll with the shifting genres and a sense of artifice within their stories. This review covers the first film in the series, 100 Monsters, but stay tuned for more reviews for the rest of the series. 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

V/H/S/94 (2021)

Directors: Jennifer Reeder, Chloe Okuno, Simon Barrett, Timo Tjahjanto, Ryan Prows


Another Halloween and another horror anthology film. One might read that sentence as a bad thing, but - hey - I’m all in on this trend. Particularly when it’s a revival of the impressive V/H/S series that were rocking the rails on two different horror cinema trends. The fourth film in the series, V/H/S/94, is a hell of a return to form after the forgettable misfire of the third film, V/H/S Viral. It’s a fun horror mixture of stories and approaches, it features some fun new reasons for people to be recording their stories, and there is a ton of new talent in executing those stories. For fans of either anthologies or found-footage horror, V/H/S/94 represents some of the best of both and kicks off the October spooky season nicely. 


Monday, October 4, 2021

No Franchise Fatigue Movie Podcast - Extended Cuts on Patreon!

If you love what we do here at Blood Brothers and if you have already checked out our podcast cousin, The No Franchise Fatigue Movie Podcast, then can we recommend checking out our latest adventure over on Patreon!

The No Franchise Fatigue Movie Podcast goes further with Extended Cuts, where Blood Brothers writers Matt Reifschneider and Sean Caylor tackle film commentaries and add bonus episodes for the podcast for our Franchisee fans.

Click the link below to join now! We'll see you at at the next sequel! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

No Franchise Fatigue Movie Podcast: The Ones That Mother Gives You Don't Do Anything At All [The Matrix Franchise Part II]

No Franchise Fatigue co-hosts Sean and Matt get RELOADED for the REVOLUTIONS of our discussion on The Matrix franchise. That's right, they are talking about the "end" of one of the biggest trilogies in modern cinema. Do the guys of NFF disagree on the films? Do they suggest you take the Red Pill or the Blue Pill? 

So join them as they chat about damn near everything under the sun including incredible car chases, machines who overthink drilling, how Colin Chou loads a gun, and whether or not floaty fights are real fights. 

Also, Sean declares war on Neill Blomkamp. Kind of.

Hosted by Matt Reifschneider and Sean Caylor

Produced by Matt Reifschneider and Sean Caylor
Edited by Sean Caylor

Reach us at:

Thank you for listening.

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Boy Behind the Door (2021)

Directors: David Charbonier, Justin Powell

Notable Cast: Lonnie Chavis, Ezra Dewey, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Micah Hauptman


As a father, nothing is more terrifying than all of the horror that can happen to my children. As vigilant as I may be in security, safety, and instilling common sense into my children, there is always the possibility that something truly terrible could happen regardless of my effort or my children's diligence. The Boy Behind the Door is a realization of these greatest fears, as two twelve-year-old boys, Bobby (Lonnie Chavis, This is Us, Magic Camp) and Kevin (Ezra Dewey, Criminal Minds, Teachers) are abducted for nefarious purposes somewhere in rural (redundant) South Dakota. The ensuing game of cat and mouse is a terrifying testament to the dangers that children face in today's world, as well as their resilience in the face of seemingly comprehensive danger.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

No Franchise Fatigue Movie Podcast: Through the Looking Glass [The Matrix Franchise Part I]

Get jacked in, franchisees! NFF Agents Mr. Caylor and Mr. Reifschneider hack their back after hiatus to talk about one of the most influential franchises of all time, The Matrix! 

Part I of the two-part episode covers 1999's The Matrix and 2003's spin-off The Animatrix and we take a digital deep dive into why The Matrix works as a remix, who the real hero of the Matrix is, and how there needs to be anime anthologies for a lot more franchises. 

So get logged in, follow the white rabbit, and bend physics with the NFF team.

Hosted by Matt Reifschneider and Sean Caylor

Produced by Matt Reifschneider and Sean Caylor
Edited by Sean Caylor

Reach us at:

Thank you for listening.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Malignant (2021)

Director: James Wan

Notable Cast: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White, Jake Abel, Ray Chase


There’s intriguing divisiveness that exists around James Wan and the popularity he has achieved with his films. The divisiveness that, in all honesty, I am not sure I fully understand. Perhaps it's one of those situations where individuals feel attacked because a non-mainstream genre has suddenly had some crossover into mainstream territory and that’s offensive to them. My love for the director, writer, and producer has certainly earned me some ill will from very boisterous negative commentators, but quite frankly, I find his style of modernizing classic genres and giving them his own auteur twist is fun and refreshing. 


After dropping one of the biggest box office hits ever (edit: I just looked it up - yes, it currently resides in the top 25 globally) in Aquaman, Wan - in all of his audacity - took his massive blank check and used it on Malignant. Granted, Wan has always been one to go back to his mid-budget horror films in between larger projects as a director. Not to mention, he always keeps one foot in the door as a producer to shepherd in new talent under his guidance, but Malignant is next level. Not only does this film deliver on the usual Wan elements - atmosphere, supernatural aspects, and sharp visuals, but its absurd blending of genres, mixed with a hyperkinetic build in its pacing, and a blisteringly outlandish third act make it one of the most potent “instant cult classic” films I’ve ever had the chance to see. Malignant is brash in its love letter to the past but also brings such strange energy to the fold that it slices n’ dices its way to being one of the best of the year. 


Copshop (2021)

Director: Joe Carnahan

Notable Cast: Alexis Louder, Gerard Butler, Frank Grillo, Toby Huss, Ryan O’Nan


Joe Carnahan has had a prolific career in stylish action flicks. Whether it was his debut film Smokin’ Aces or his other film in 2021 Boss Level, Carnahan is a fairly safe bet when it comes to entertaining action films loaded with interesting choices. His latest, Copshop, follows very closely in those steps and maybe, just maybe, perfects it. Built on the foundations of using 1970s cop thrillers as its basis, but also as some stylistic choices, Copshop is a romp and a half. It’s littered with broad stroke characters painted with bullets and quick banter, a slow-burn build to set the chessboard, and some fantastic performances. It’s a smartly written mid-tier action thriller with some scene devouring casting that ought to curb the craving for most genre fans. Copshop, like so many of Carnahan’s films, is already a cult classic. 


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Vengeance Trails (2021) Part I: [Massacre Time (1966) / My Name Is Pecos (1966)]

Although most of the films included have been released previously, it’s hard not to be extremely excited for Arrow Video’s recent release of Vengeance Trails. This four-film box set includes a fantastic set of films for any western aficionado from some of the biggest directors and stars of the time period. The new high-definition restorations are gorgeous, the extras are solid as expected, and the packaging is a delight to have on a collector’s shelf. This review is meant to cover the films included in the set - although any previous coverage we have run at Blood Brothers will be linked below, but if you’re a fan of those classic Italian gritty westerns, it’s hard not to recommend Vengeance Trails upfront. 


For more information about the set, please see the details following the film reviews below. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Kate (2021)

Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

Notable Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Miku Martineau, Woody Harrelson, Tadanobu Asano, Michiel Huisman, Jun Kunimura, Miyavi, Amelia Crouch, Ava Caryofyllis, Kayuza Tanabe


“Death is the time for beginnings.” 


Maybe I’ve said this before in one of my previous reviews, but it’s worth noting again. At this point, it’s hard not to look at action cinema as Pre-John Wick and Post-John Wick. While the film in reference is in itself a love letter to the action cinema of the 80s, a vicious combination of the untouchable heroes of Hollywood and the brutal action excellence of Hong Kong heroic bloodshed, the combination and stylistic choices have proven to be wildly influential since its release. 


Mid-tier action films, where this style lives, has been mostly relegated to streaming services and Netflix, in all of its domineering power, has delivered one of the best post-John Wick flicks. Kate rampages about in rapid-fire pacing, gorging on the Black Rain influenced style of a neon-soaked Tokyo night and immersing a classic yakuza war story with brash modern characters and enough action sequences to make John Woo jealous. Kate is a film built on the shoulders of giants, but it’s incredibly well-executed style, action, and pacing make it one of the best bullet-riddled pieces of genre cinema of 2021. 


Friday, September 10, 2021

Don't Breathe 2 (2021)

Director: Rodo Sayagues 

Notable Cast: Stephen Lang, Madelyn Grace, Brendan Sexton III, Stephanie Arcila, Rocci Williams, Bobby Schofield, Adam Young, Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Steffan Rhodri


Ten times out of ten, I’m the kind of person that will defend a franchise. There’s a reason that Blood Brothers is the mothership of the No Franchise Fatigue Movie Podcast and I’m one of the co-hosts of it. I am not the one to ever say that a sequel (or any other additional entry to a franchise) ruins the original. No one says Halloween (1978) is a worse film for the fact that Halloween 6 exists. With that being said, boy howdy, do I find Don’t Breathe 2 to be a wholly perplexing sequel that takes bold (and confusing) swings with its premise and rarely connects despite some solid execution on a visual and atmospheric standpoint. Don’t Breathe 2 is tonally more exploitative than its predecessor and yet the film feels the need to over-explain itself. 


Monday, September 6, 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Notable Cast: Simu Liu, Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Michelle Yeoh, Yuen Wah, Florian Munteanu, Andy Le


As a fan of martial arts cinema since I was, oh I don’t know, born, the recent obsession with the genre has been a roller coaster ride for me. A large part of me never expected that Hollywood or the American TV market would embrace the genre as it has in the last half of a decade. Whether it is shows like Warrior and the reimagined Kung Fu or Hollywood blockbusters like Snake Eyes and Raya and the Last Dragon, this latest boom is a welcome change of pace and to see mainstream audiences cheer for and consume one of my favorite and oft-maligned styles of filmmaking couldn’t make me happier. 


It’s not that cinematic martial arts on the screen doesn’t go in waves, it does. Anyone old enough to remember will note that it usually pops up every 20 years or so, with the last pop coming in the late 90s and early 00s with the arrival of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and The Matrix (fight choreographer Yuen Woo Ping) in Hollywood. What makes this latest boom so fascinating is the arrival of the latest Marvel film, their 25th of the MCU if I’m counting properly, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings


Not only is Shang-Chi a film that attempts to bring the newest kung fu craze to the world’s biggest franchise, but it’s one that sincerely wants to adapt - and sell, this is Disney after all - Chinese martial arts, culture, and their cinematic history to a wider western audience. It’s a film that often tries to rectify so many of the mistakes made by the original Shang-Chi comic, a cringe-worthy series at best, and thrust its audience into a mystical world of Chinese lore (made up or adapting popular elements) while retaining that now formulaic Marvel brand. The combination is thrilling, fun, dynamic, and most importantly heartfelt. I might be biased thanks to my love of kung fu cinema, but this is easily the best Marvel film to date. 


Sunday, September 5, 2021

Death Screams (1982)

Director: David Nelson

Notable Cast: Susan Kiger, Martin Tucker, William T. Hicks, Jennifer Chase, Jody Kay, Andrea Savio, Helene Tryon, Hanns Manship, Larry Sprinkle


As the boutique label wars continue to happen within the realms of genre cinema, more and more fans clamor for the next “long lost classic” from the slasher genre. Whether it’s Vinegar Syndrome, Severin, 88 Films, or Arrow Video, the labels are all happy to dig into the deep, dark caverns of horror to unearth what could possibly be the next classic. These forgotten films occasionally do reach that echelon, but more often than not, it’s a stretch. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m happy these labels are rescuing films from oblivion, but after watching Death Screams last night - just know that it can be a chore to get through some of them. 


Arrow Video’s track record has usually been fantastic in finding those lost classics. They’ve unleashed The Mutilator and Blood Rage. As of late, the label has been scraping some questionable pieces of cinema though and a handful of their latest stuff (sans The Slayer which is a film that I weirdly liked when no one else did) and Death Screams can be added to that list. Although this 1982 slasher has its moments, it’s a relatively meandering slog to work through and the overall story and characters are undercooked in a way that’s not nearly as fun as it might have been with more gimmicks or charisma. 


Thursday, September 2, 2021

The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch (1968)

Director: Noriaki Yuasa

Notable Cast: Yachie Matsui, Mayumi Takahashi, Sei Hiraizumi, Yuko Hamada, Yoshiro Kitahara


With most of his career dedicated to shepherding the Gamera franchise throughout its original run in the 1960s, 70s, and (unfortunately) 80s, it was a pleasant surprise that Arrow Video grabbed one of the few ‘other’ films that Noriaki Yuasa directed. Released the same year as Gamera Vs Viras (see my review for that film HERE), The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch is one of his best efforts. 


For a film that regularly feeds off of the same child-focused themes that he embedded throughout the Gamera franchise, he utilizes a fantastical horror story to sell thematic morals and he does so with an admirably odd and offbeat manner. There’s a child-like whimsy to much of its approach, but the balance of its silliness, creepiness, and heartfelt moments make it a refreshing watch that feels far more impassioned than his later Gamera entries. 


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Candyman (2021)

Director: Nia DaCosta

Notable Cast: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Colman Domingo, Kyle Kaminsky, Vanessa Williams, Brian King, Miriam Moss, Rebecca Spence 


The original Candyman was a seminal part of my childhood and my growth as a horror fan. It was a staple of our weekly video store rentals as a family and watching it as an 8-year-old certainly elevated my love of horror. It’s a film that makes it into my rotation on a yearly basis and one that I still uphold as one of the iconic horror films to push the genre forward, particularly in 1992. The first set of sequels, however, sincerely fail to recapture so much of the original’s brilliance, although each one certainly tries to embed their stories with their own take on social commentary. They just lose a substantial amount of the themes and storytelling as they move further into generic slasher territory. 


The latest sequel, Candyman, following the titling scheme of the 2018 Halloween sequel, ignores Candyman 2 and 3 (Farewell to the Flesh and Day of the Dead respectively) to go back to what made the original one such an iconic horror film. The film is intentionally engrossed with taking the Candyman lore, expanding it, and deepening its engagement with the racial and social commentaries from the original and pushing them into a new century. It’s also a film that doubles down on the horror elements, moving further from the inherent sadness and gothic romance of its predecessor, and kicking the supernatural slasher elements to the forefront. The combination proves impressively buzzworthy, carrying quite the sting, and providing an instant classic that brings the mythological ghostly legend to the modern age. 


Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Green Knight (2021)

Director: David Lowery

Notable Cast: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Barry Keoghan, Erin Kellyman, Ralph Ineson


It ain’t easy being green. Although that phrase comes from a far different period of time and from a much different world of entertainment, the phrase seems fitting when looking down at the CinemaScore and Rotten Tomatoes audience reactions to The Green Knight. It’s a film that was relatively well-received by critics (and if you’re tempted to look down - you’ll see my own very favorable score for this one) and yet reads divisive among audiences. The appreciation for its bold visuals rings true across the board, but the rest… well, the rest of The Green Knight is up for debate. 


This is not an unusual place to be for film studio A24 or director David Lowery. Both have had their fair share of critical acclaim and audience push back through their careers. Having Lowery jump on board the A24 train is a natural progression, but it’s the choice of subject matter with The Green Knight that is most surprising. An artistic fresh and bold take on the classic Arthurian legend and poem, The Green Knight is both a heightened and abrasively artsy assault on its viewer, but it’s also a slow burn and grounded version of it that focuses on realistic character emotions. It’s not easy being green and balancing those two often very different approaches in one film, but The Green Knight smoothly accomplishes the task with striking effectiveness. 


Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Fatal Raid (2019/2021)

Director: Jacky Lee

Notable Cast: Jade Leung, Patrick Tam, Kristy Yang, Andrew Yuen, Jeana Ho, Lin Min-Chen, Michael Tong, Elaine Tang, Rosanne Lui, Sharon Luk


Nostalgia in cinema is not new. The 30-year window, where films will often look back 30 years into the past for period settings or cultural touchstones for current art, is real and relevant to most any time frame. Anyone that has been partaking in the sheer amount of late 80s and now 90s focused genre cinema in the last five years can attest to its power. The latest trailer for the upcoming Ghostbusters film uses it in all of the worst ways possible, but I digress. I’m already off track and I’m only four sentences into this piece.


This phenomenon is not just an American trend either. The Fatal Raid, a love letter to the 1980s ‘girls with guns’ subgenre of Hong Kong action cinema, reeks of a desperation to recapture the fun and flippancy of the genre with a modern sense of style and look. It’s a film with tongue often planted firmly in cheek, particularly with some of the secondary plot lines, that wavers in tone and effectiveness. However, for those looking for a fun and silly way to burn 90 minutes, The Fatal Raid is hardly a fatal choice. It’s just not the best one, even for the genre, but with the right mindset it suffices.


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Reminiscence (2021)


Director: Lisa Joy

Notable Cast: Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Daniel Wu, Cliff Curtis, Angela Sarafyan, Natalie Martinez


I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm a sucker for strange and off-beat projects that attempt to do a lot of things. If they have an A-budget and attempt to slam multiple genres together, then even better. A-budget B-movies are my favorite and I refuse to just write them off even if they miss the mark.


Reminiscence is exactly that kind of movie. Big cash on the screen, strange combinations of genre work, and a film that regularly punts logic to the curb for the sake of embracing an oddity or two. Even with its many, many flaws, I found myself quite enjoying the weird of it all. 


Sunday, August 22, 2021

Rising Shaolin: The Protector (2021)

Director: Stanley Tong

Notable Cast: Wang Baoqiang, Ni Da Hong, Du Gui-Yu, Solange Maggie, Ng Man-Tat, Yu Hai


When the initial teaser dropped for Rising Shaolin: The Protector, a film that definitely doesn’t need such an unnecessary subtitle, the hype became overwhelming in my soul. As a massive fan of the Jet Li Shaolin Temple series, seeing a modern action icon like Wang Baoqiang pull off the series of Shaolin kung fu forms in various seasonal weather was all that I needed to justify seeing this film. 


Granted, that hype was tempered by the phrase “directed by Stanley Tong.” Just the thought that a Stanley Tong film would be a red flag appalled the 15-year-old version of me in my heart. His early work on Super Cop 3 and Rumble in the Bronx helped guide me into Hong Kong cinema, but his recent work - the inept lunacy of Vanguard and Kung Fu Yoga - is incredibly disappointing. Even with a passion project like Rising Shaolin, it was hard not to have traumatic flashbacks to his recent films. 


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Hand Rolled Cigarette (2020)


Director: Kin Long Chan

Notable Cast: Gordon Lam, Bipin Karma, Tai Bo, Ben Yuen, Michael Ning, Chin Siu-Ho Aaron Chow Chi-Kwan, Tony Ho, To Yin-Gor, Bitto Singh Hartihan


“To those who keep working hard for Hong Kong cinema, passing the flame to future generations.” 


These are some of the final words that scrawl across the end credits of Hand Rolled Cigarette, the 2020 Hong Kong crime thriller which has quietly earned a fistful of accolades prior to its most recent screening at the New York Asian Film Festival. For a film so indebted to recapturing some of the gritty artistic merit of late 80s and early 90s Hong Kong capers, it’s a resounding punctuation to the film’s punchy third act. However, it’s a fitting one that exists as a magnetic pole to guide the themes, style, and choices being made throughout the film.


Considering the director, Kin Long Chan, is crafting his debut with Hand Rolled Cigarette - it’s also a statement of intent, shepherded by an obvious love for the heavyweights of the previously mentioned ‘golden era.’ The choices laid out on the table by Chan should not surprise, really, particularly with his past cinematic history.


Thursday, August 12, 2021

The Brotherhood of Satan (1971)

Director: Bernard McEveety

Notable Cast: Strother Martin, LQ Jones, Charles Bateman, Ahna Capri, Charles Robinson, Geri Reischl


As a cinephile dedicated to the strange corners, odd trends, and genre aspects of the cinematic world, Satanic cult films are a subgenre that I often visit and revisit from time to time. It’s not unusual to partake in a few new ones a year, whether they are recently made or re-released relics of a mostly forgotten era. Although The Brotherhood of Satan popped up occasionally in my exploration of the genre, it was a film that never piqued my interest enough to seek out. Especially after noticing the lukewarm reception even from the diehard fans. The announcement that the film would be part of the Arrow Video slate in 2021 was a bit of a shock considering its lack of stature in the genre. It’s not that the iconic distribution label, one that has made it a goal to uncover long lost “classics,” is above misfires. Hardly. This company did release Blu Rays for Satan’s Blade and Microwave Massacre after all. Yet, my expectations were relatively middling going into this oft overlooked early 70s flick.


Consider the expectations met.


However, The Brotherhood of Satan is both a surprise in quality and perplexingly off the mark. It falls in a strange place between exploitation fun and artistic merit, never hitting the wild roller coaster thrills of a film like Devil Rides Out or the artistry and smarts of a film like The Wicker Man. It’s better than expected in its attempts at uplifting its meandering script, but it’s also utterly bogged down by odd structure, leaps of logic, and glacial pacing.