January 2022 Mini-Reviews – In Search of Dracula to Archer (S12)

Here we are, 2022 already — and already nearly the end of February.  Where does the time go?

Well, some of it — a big chunk of it in our house — went into the Winter Olympics, but the 3-8 hours a day we spent watching that for 2 weeks won’t even count on next month’s movie/short/show count (because it doesn’t qualify as genre).  But… What did I watch in January 2022?

I teased that in January I found 2 shows that now number among my favorites of all time.  Sadly, one only lasted 2 short seasons — so I blasted through that right away.  But the 8 seasons of the other will last me at least into March (ha ha).  The 2 shows?

Galavant – A half-hour fantasy action-comedy series with surprising twists and turns.  Did I mention it’s a musical with music by Alan Menkin (Little Mermaid, Aladdin, etc. etc.) and clever rhymes?  And the cast is great, too, and even includes an appearance or two by Weird Al Yankovic.  Sadly, I missed the 2 brief seasons of this when it aired, but honestly, I’m surprised it got a 2nd season — and the characters sing about, as well.

Castle – Is a modern mystery series combined with a cop series.  It’s like Murder She Wrote mixed with Moonlighting — that is, by turns suspenseful, funny, and sexy.  The brilliant cast is headlined by Nathan Fillion (Firefly) and is strong end to end.  I love mysteries, so it’s strange that I never tuned in during it’s 8 seasons.  Watching 500 films a year, how could I miss it?  Ha ha.

As you might guess, I highly recommend these shows if you haven’t seen them, or even if you have.  They’re on Hulu.

But what else did I watch in January?  It was a pretty great month full of stuff, though the last show had a sad ending.  Find out what a that was and all the rest below…

Ratings are out of five stars. Here’s what those stars mean to me…

* – This film is not good. Avoid it unless you tolerate dreck well.
** – A flawed film. You may enjoy it if you like this genre or the folks in it.
*** – A good solid film. If you like this genre, you’ll probably like this film.
**** – A superior film within its genre. Thoroughly enjoyable.
***** – An outstanding film on many levels. A great example of its genre

In Search of Dracula with Mark Gatiss **** Strong British documentary with actor/writer Mark Gatiss delving into the origins of Dracula in book & film thru the modern era.
Bat, The *** Agnes Moorehead & friend are trapped in a house being cased by mysterious criminal the Bat. Low budget Vincent Price.
Playgirls & the Vampire *** A troupe of chorus girls ends up in a castle run by the descendant of a vampire. What you’d expect but still fun.
Slaughter of the Vampires *** After the slaughter at the beginning, the vampires retreat & skulk around trying to prey on young people. Standard Euro fun.
Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (Sven) **** Harryhausen classic about an un-frozen dinosaur running amok on way to NYC. Inspiration for Godzilla & much more.
Galavant (S1) ***** How did I miss this fairy-tale musical when it was on TV? Dunno, but it’s great. Fun & funny songs & some great medieval twists.
Galavant (S2) ***** Season 2 is has a few slow spots, but the rollicking end is so worth all of it. Great series. Too bad there are only 2 seasons.
Castle (S1) **** A mystery writer decides to tail a detective as research when starting a new book series. Murder mysteries & clever dialogue follow.
Bleeding Steel ** Jackie Chan headlines this hot mess mash-up of cop flick & SF with little of his trademark humor but a lot of sturm & drang.
Machiste in Hell **** Silent film of the strongman trying to save some friends, ends up captive in super-cool movie version of hell. Great production.
Atom Age Vampire *** Mad doctor helps a disfigured woman by draining fluids from others & ends up turning himself into a monster. (Not a vampire.)
Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks *** Euro horror about Dr. Frankenstein, a dwarf, a couple of cavemen, & other freaks up to shifty stuff like carrying off women. A mess.
Death Smiles at a Murderer *** A hot mess in places, with characters in and out, but ends as a stylish tale with more than a bit of Carmilla & a high body count.
What We Do in the Shadows (S3) ***** The house full of vampires deals with becoming vampire leaders, returns of old foes, & some unexpected twists. Hilarious as usual.
Stalker **** Tarkovsky SF about a “Stalker” who leads people into a forbidden zone to a room that grants wishes, maybe. Surreal, brooding.
Castle (S2) ***** Castle really hits its stride as the subplots with the characters come together & the mysteries get even more creative. Great fun.
Magician, The (1926) **** Silent classic melds a bit of Frankenstein with some Mad Love. Mad scientist enchants a woman he’s in love with. Great production.
Hunchback of Notre Dame, The **** Lon Chaney’s classic horror makeup & performance plus great production highlight this version of the classic tale of love & betrayal.
Tarantula (Sven) **** Universal classic about attempt to feed the world that results in a giant spider running amok. Agar stars, Eastwood appears at end.
Eternals **** Beautiful production is a bit of a hot mess & I hate ancient astronauts, but Kirby ideas shine through & some fun SPFX & teasers.
Crazed Fruit *** Teen falls for girl at the beach who his brother then discovers dark secrets about & falls for, too. Soap & tragedy ensue. Good.
One-Way Ticket to Love *** Japanese saxophonist helps suicidal girl get job as a stripper which turns into Elvis-like star macking on her & lives become a tangled mess.
Warped Ones, The *** Teens get out of jail & go on a spree to avenge themselves against those who fingered them, tangling their lives beyond hope.
War of the Zombies ** AKA Rome vs. Rome – Fairly standard sword & sandal battle film with one side eventually using zombies (blurry filter effects). Okay.
Hercules, Prisoner of Evil *** AKA Ursus, Terror of the Kirghiz – In the time of the huns, strong man hero is enchanted to also become monster. Nice twists.
Minotaur, The (1961) **** Muscular hero must rescue kidnapped princess from titular monster amid usual peplum trappings. Good production a cut above.
Goliath & the Vampires *** When village women are kidnapped by a “vampire” leader, Maciste (Goliath) must battle the evil overlord to save them.
Smuggler’s Cove (1948) *** The Bowery Boys believe they’ve inherited a mansion, when actually it’s a case of mistaken identity & the hideout of bandits.
Whole Wide World, The **** Woman writer & “The Greatest Pulp Writer in the Whole Wide World,” Robert E. Howard struggle to build a relationship in biopic.
Magic Christian, The *** Rick Peter Sellers adopts hobo Ringo Starr & the two start testing the limits of their wealth & privilege to strange comic effect.
Insect Woman *** Lowborn Japanese woman uses prostitution to rise in power until conflicts with her daughter derail her self-destructive plans.
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers **** Harryhausen’s flying saucers highlight this alien invasion movie, easily the best flying saucer film. US capital destruction rules.
Happy Death Day **** It’s Groundhog Day with a horror twist as a co-ed wakes up every morning after being murdered at night. Fun, funny & scary, too.
Happy Death Day 2 You **** Sequel to the fun horror hit reveals why the first film happened & puts our heroine & her friends into even more jeopardy. Fun, too!
Castle (S3) ***** The fun detective series continues with clever episodes, romantic denials, & Kate’s search for her mother’s murderer. Top notch.
He Who Gets Slapped **** Betrayed by his wife & a rich man, Lon Chaney becomes a circus clown (who gets slapped), but his past catches up with him.
Batman and Robin (Serial 1949) *** The caped crusaders return for their 2nd serial in which they battle the mysterious Wizard & his men with usual cliffhangers.
Haunted Strangler, The *** Karloff stars as a man pursuing a notorious killer believed hanged, who turns out to be Karloff himself.
After the Thin Man ***** Nick & Nora return home to discover a part at their house & a family friend accused of murder. Oh, & Jimmy Stewart, too.
Shadow, The **** Alec Baldwin is excellent as Lamont Cranston & despite a few camp moments, the SPFX are great & the pulp hero shoots true.
Tad the Lost Explorer **** Spanish animated film has some stock situations & characters but a lot of heart & fun action sequences, including hot lava.
Banana Splits Movie, The **** Turning a beloved children’s TV series into a horror film is a terrible idea. Yet, this flick pulls it off, with robot Splits on a rampage.
Three Outlaw Samurai **** A samurai with a consciences gets involved in a peasants’ protest & must battle & join 2 others to seek justice for all. Strong.
Archer (S12) **** Archer is back for another season of irreverant, saucy, lewd espionage, this time while trying to build a reputation & facing off against a rival agency. Sadly, also the last for Jessia Walter as Malory Archer. The actress died after recording her voice work. Adieu! 🙁

So, that’s it for the new year of 2022.  Total so far is 44 films/series/noteworthy shorts.  Not a bad start.  With the Olympics next month, I’m not sure whether I’ll hit that number.  And I also realized that the Summer Olympics in 2021 was probably one reason I didn’t log as many shows in 2021 as I did in 2020.

What will 2022 have to offer?  Stick with me another 11 months and find out!

Next Month: The Olympics eats up a big chunk of my time — but I still watch a lot of movies… And discover another hidden gem of a series that I missed while it was airing!

Until then, I live for the day when I won’t have to say:

Stay Safe!  Get Vaccinated!  Tell your family & friends! Let’s End the Pandemic!

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