The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Nocturne (dir by Stephen Shimek)


Have you ever noticed how movies about teenagers always treat the rules of the “Never Have I Ever” game like they’re some sort of legally binding contract?

Seriously, I’ve seen this happen in so many movies.  Someone has a deep, dark secret that they don’t want to reveal.  They know that if they reveal the secret, a lot of bad stuff will happen as a result.  Feelings will be hurt.  Friendships will be crushed.  Lives will be lost.

But then the minute somebody says, “Never have I ever fucked my best friend’s boyfriend,” they always drink up.  Half the time, they’re the only person to take a drink.  And, during all of the drama that unfolds, it never occurs to anyone to say, “Why didn’t you just not take the drink!?  It’s just a game, after all!”

Something like this happens in the 2016 film, Nocturne.  Nocturne takes place at perhaps the saddest high school graduation party of all time.  All of the cool kids have gone to another party, which means that only seven people show up at this party.  From that humble beginning, things quickly go downhill as the graduates hang out in the hot tub, play the Never Have I Ever game, and listen to Gabe (Jake Stormeon) ramble about religion and philosophy and stuff.  Gabe also demonstrates some card tricks so yeah …. that’s definitely the way to end your high school career.

Anyway, bad parties always seem to lead to people trying to contact the dead and that’s what happens here.  Gabe sets up a makeshift séance and the graduates ask the dead a lot of questions that they probably shouldn’t have asked.  (Seriously, I’ve been to a few bad parties in my lifetime and you an always tell that the party is officially dead once people actually try to talk to the …. well, dead.)

Needless to say, this leads to someone getting possessed and just about everyone else dying.  The other party was probably a lot more fun.

So, on the plus side, Nocturne is fairly well-acted and some of the death scenes were clever.  The film’s chronology is a bit jumbled, which is one of those storytelling tricks that can be really annoying but which is justified here by the fact that demon exists beyond our conventional understanding of time and space.

On the negative side, a cat dies about halfway through the film and, as I discussed years ago in my review of Drag Me To Hell, it’s hard for me to endorse any film in which a cat is killed.  I mean, honestly, I would think most supernatural beings would appreciate the fact that a cat can sleep through just about anything.  Whereas a dog would be barking and throwing a fit over all the murders being committed, a cat would probably just relax in a corner and play with a toy mouse or something.  In this film, there was really no reason to kill the cat and it felt a bit gratuitous.  It was hard not to tell that the only reason the cat was put in the film was so it could be killed.  My point is, if you want to me to like your movie, don’t kill the cat.

Anyway, Nocturne is a rather uneven film.  If you can see past the dead cat, you might find this one interesting.  It has its creepy moments, even if it’s hard not to feel that the overall movie doesn’t really work.

Val’s Movie Roundup #5: Dogs Edition


Beethoven's Big Break

Beethoven’s Big Break (2008) – Some months ago I watched a SyFy movie called Lake Placid vs. Anaconda (2015). During, or shortly after, one of the actresses named Ali Eagle reached out to me on Twitter. As a result, I added several of her films to my queue. I just happened to get around to this one recently. That’s her above. As for the movie, I grew up with the first two Beethoven films and have not seen the third, fourth, and fifth films that come before this one. The family from those films isn’t here. Now we get an animal trainer whose son finds a Saint Bernard and names it Beethoven because of it’s affinity for classical music. The father is helping another animal trainer who unbeknownst to him kidnaps the dog star of a movie in order to extort money from the production company. Problem is that they haven’t actually shot one scene with the dog. As a result, upon seeing Beethoven, they simply recast. What follows is possibly the largest collection of tired, overused, and old jokes I have ever seen in one film. It’s obviously supposed to be a parody in some ways of the Beethoven movies while also being a reboot, but it doesn’t work. There is no reason to see this stinker. I will probably see the other Beethoven sequels, so we can hope that they are at least a little better.

The Adventures of RoboRex

The Adventures of RoboRex (2014) – You know your Transformers movies suck when a children’s film about a good robotic dog and an evil robotic cat is better. This movie is about a kid whose mother passed away and left him with a crystal. He doesn’t know it’s importance until a capsule arrives like The Terminator with an evil robotic cat named Destructo Cat inside. Soon after, a good robotic dog called RoboRex shows up to help the kid. The cat is sent from the future by Professor Apocalypse to instruct and help his younger self get the crystal. What follows is a slow but sure trajectory toward a final battle. In between we do get a nice little fight between the cat and dog that is more exciting than anything in the 4,076 minutes of Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014). I definitely recommend this one, but two things kind of bothered me. Ben Browder is in this and although it’s only been about ten years or so since Stargate, he looks like he has aged quite a bit. The other part is that they never explain how RoboRex ends up at Ben Affleck’s place in Gone Girl (2014).

C.H.O.M.P.S.

C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979) – This movie has stupid characters and plot, but the dog is awesome! It’s like The Terminator (1984) and Superman (1978). It literally rips off the roof of a car with it’s paws. And you can see from the picture above that it’s a small dog. The movie is about a guy who works for a home security company. Instead of trying to make your standard security system, he looks to nature’s home security system and decides to improve it. He first thinks of creating a robotic Doberman, but probably realized that people had already seen Dobermans rob banks in earlier movies and just copied his own dog instead. The movie basically has three things going on. First, the dog is on an endless rampage to catch these two criminals that might as well have stepped out of Home Alone (1990). Second, the guy and his girl are trying to sell the company on the idea of a robotic dog. Third, is this big black dog that occasionally pops up whose thoughts we can hear. That dog has some mouth on it. It says, “Up your poop, granny” and “Shit”. With Hot to Trot, that makes two talking animal movies I’ve seen recently where the talking animal says “shit”. If you can put aside the problems and just focus on the cool dog, then this one can be fun. It’s a little weird to see the dog’s eyes light up and the head get removed though.

The Amazing Wizard of Paws

The Amazing Wizard of Paws (2015) – This is a movie that would have the Cinema Snob saying “What the fuck!” The script is a mess. The movie begins with what looks like Snape cornering Gandalf against a tree. Gandalf is holding a book. That book will be important…sort of. Next a dog meets up with a kid who has lost his father in a car accident. Snape visits him in the backyard, but doesn’t seem to do anything. Then we jump seven years into the future. That’s where this movie starts to just go wherever it feels like. It sets things up that the dog can talk, the book is magic, and the kid is supposed to protect it using magic. However, despite this evil wizard who wants the book, the kid spends most of his time signing up for talent shows in order to get money so his mother can keep the house. You will find yourself saying, “And the wizard went where? What happened to him wanting the book?” I can’t recommend this movie at all. A total skip. It’s sad because I really do like the dog.