board musings for those films without a main review.
A mixed bag of genres for you to explore.
In Alphabetical order.
I - P
SELL THE DEAD
Meh...Some interesting visuals (and some technically flawed and cheap ones) are used to tell this atmospheric tale of Ye Olde bodysnatching in Ye Olde England with a solid cast giving perfectly okay performances with just the right amount of tongue in cheek attitude.
Soem surprisingly bloody gore
turns up in the latter part of the film, but mostly this is Halloween party levels
of macabre shenanigans that somehow seems like a private film between friends
rather than a real movie as it's just so flimsy and simplistic as far as its,
anthology style flashback, screenplay and half-asleep direction goes.
It's just....there. Barely average flim-flam more at home, as said, playing quietly away in the background at a Halloween party where everyone is half-drunk.
Even the one real moment of truly bizarre and unusual scripting backfires (though it's hard to fathom why logically, as it's far more based in scientific possibility and basic biology than any of the other, blatantly supernatural, events in the film) when the film suddenly, and truly unexpectedly, lurches into Sci-Fi territory and loses its way.
Nice try (and a nice return to an almost 60's style of British horror at times), but far to lightweight and just plain...meh...to truly succeed, sadly.
ICHI - 1
Not really gory (though it gets pretty damn bloody) but very violent and a good liitle introduction to the character from Takashi Miike's infamous "Ichi the Killer".
Low budget, but very well made. Worth a look for "Ichi" fans.
INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN (THE)
Lon Chaney Jr slums his way through a film that had potential as far as the idea went (a ruthless crook comes back from the dead, finds out he is indestructible, and goes out for revenge) but is let down by the cheap-ass production values, crap support cast, invisible directing and a screenplay that stupidly makes Chaney mute so we have to put up with a droning 'Noir' narration by a boring puddle of nothingness Cop who's on the case.
Despite the fast start in getting him
revived the film then has Chaney take an awfully long time bumping off two of
the three men he's after (the third he never even gets!) and then has him do it
in very boring ways.
In-between a mute Chaney stumbling around, while his eyebrows and face wildly overact (in close-up, the same close-up reused no less then three times in three different scenes), we have to put up with 'Noir Cop' romancing the leading lady and endlessly repeated scenes of people in offices having the same 'in can't be true' conversation about Chaney coming back to life.
the end entertains, where Chaney is in the sewers and gets repeatedly shot at
and roasted by flamethrowers.
This results in a strikingly burnt-up face for Chaney as he stumbles around some more to reach the rather 'did that go wrong or was it intentional' finale for himself, before we go out on the 'Noir Cop' smooching with his new love. Yuk.
So we have 5 minutes of entertainment
in a 70 minute film.
Nothing special spook tale that has the odd effective moment and jump scare but then goes to pieces in the last 3rd.
It suddenly turns into a "Twin Peaks"
Black Lodge deleted scene as we enter the 'spirit realm' with its stupid looking
Darth Maul demon.
But unlike "Twin Peaks" this is not actually good and has a shameful lack of dwarves.
Some things should stay as imagination.
all climaxes in an unsatisfying and complete non-ending (if you think any way
passed the final shot) which is what I feared all along.
FROM MARS - (orig)
Historically something of a classic. In reality though this is achingly dated, badly made (even for the time) and very very silly.
The outside-inside sets (that damn fenced hill!) are awful, everything is shoddy (even if it's on grass the same sandy shot of a hole opening up in the ground is used every time a nasty Martian is about to grab someone) and the script is as clumsy as it is simplistic.
After a very good start (the most 50's
Americana kid ever - "Gee", "Gosh" - sees Aliens
land but no one believes him) the film suddenly stops dead for a stupendously
laboured lecture by a scientist (the kid has gone to see) about space, the solar
system, UFO's, space travel, biology, etc etc obviously there to explain everything
and anything to the (as then) space ignorant general public.
It's so clumsy and tedious.
And, obviously seeing too much time had been spent not believing
the kid, the rushed second half is just as unsatisfying in a different way.
Although things are happening now it's laughable how easily the entire military set-up of America believe in Aliens invading we no proof at all.
And then we have the oh so funny stock footage of seemingly endless armoured might converging on this tiny studio set hill as we see only 5 guys and a jeep standing around it.
Add the dopey looking Alien leader in a gold fish bowl and the rubbish looking 'mutants' (or "mu-TANTS" as they say in the film) to the mix and it's all pretty rubbish.
So a very good start and an intriguing pseudo-"Invasion of the Bodysnatchers" set-up, turns into a dated, clunky and outright silly sci-fi schlock fest.
MAN (THE) - 1933
Universal's groovy, pretty faithful, adaptation of HG Wells' story of the same name still holds up on many levels.
are still damn good and effective, with no wires on show for the many moving objects,
and the clever (and damn hard) invisible man effects are also fine...with the
Black and White cinematography ensuring that the ancient matte work looks great
thanks to none of those typically awful colour problems.
Hell , look at the truly dire matted Alien FX (a green hued blob on a wall more like) in "Alien 3" to see how even decades later colour problems could ruin many a matte shot.
Away from the great FX we have a fast pace, some great sets, a brilliant
support cast of whacked out and theatrical local yokels (with the great Una O'Connor
in top camped up form as the shrieking landlady and a top 'comedy cop' performance
by E.E. Clive) and a wonderfully mixed brew of slapstick comedy, black comedy
and out and out nastiness.
And it is Claude Rains who superbly utilises this mix of horror and humour.
Wrapped in bandages or quite simply not there at all Rains has only his commanding voice to make an impression. And he does.
His psychotic rants, mad cackling and comic singing as he causes mayhem all help to essay one of the most whacked out and downright nasty characters in any film ever.
Something I think people tend to forget.
Today, we mostly think of an invisible man
as a purely comical creation or a good guy figure.
Add this to the fact that a man you simply can't see is somehow not as scary or visually impressive as a werewolf, vampire or man-made monster and the character has been rather pushed aside when we talk about great screen villains and threats.
But in reality...The Invisible Man is by far the most deadly figure in any 'Universal' horror film!
Dracula, The Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster are novices in death dealing!
The Invisible Man racks up a body count of...wait for it...122!
By the time he has bashed in heads, rung necks, pushed people of cliffs, sent a man (who screams in a genuinely unsettling way) crashing to his death in a runaway car as well as derailed a damn train...he's bumped of 122 human beings!
As such there is real sadism in the film, as the laughing killer routinely kills people with psychotic glee.
A few plot hiccups (a guy is murdered and next
we see that the national press is reporting the murder in blazing newspaper headlines
and yet the scene of the body being carried out of the room comes after this press
coverage! Must have started to smell a bit!) fail to hurt the film to any degree
and in fact the great dialogue given to the Invisible Man is so memorable it bulldozes
everything else out of the way.
The embracing of the violence and mass death that is constantly on occurring, when added to the great FX, wonderful cast and generally effective black comic styling, ensures that "The Invisible Man" has dated less than many other 'Universal' horror films and still retains a genuinely horrific edge.
A couple is terrorised at home by a gang of hoodies!
Hmm....got rave reviews
when it came out, but quite frankly I've seen better French Horror films recently
The main problem is the fact the director seemed reluctant to shout "cut".
Scenes go on for too long, thus mutating the tension initially built up into something approaching tedium.
An effective opening for example loses steam when we
spend a good minute with a girl calling out to her missing Mother. On and on she
The same happens with an early driving sequence involving our main woman character.
We know nothing is going to happen to her yet! We all know! The director knows we know as well, surely.
And yet the car is filmed creeping along roads (with a sinister plinky plonky piano score for company) as we wait for her to actually get home and start the film!
The same extended into
boredom, where initially we had suspense, problem happens in a sequence where
the woman slowly creeps through a (rather bizarre) room hung with dirty plastic
sheets. Again, it goes on and on and on.
The couple like to talk, walk and move in slow motion too, as they endlessly gaze into each other's eyes in that cloying and sickly way good looking French couples seem to manage so easily.
would anyone else like to see a home invasion/avoiding the psychos plot where
the house isn't a mansion!?
The terrorised couple have so many rooms, crawl spaces and corridors to creep around in it seems they could live in the same house as the killers and not even meet them!
How about seeing if you can keep the tension and suspense up by setting the film in an average home, made up of a sitting room, kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom! That would really be clever (and actually far scarier!).
And it goes beyond stupid to think that the couple would
do what they do during the final chase as well. Idiots!
And talking of the final chase...where the hell did that gigantic, lit by a few hundred electric lights, underground labyrinth come from!?
It seems to be very close to their house and yet completely unknown to anyone, despite the obviously huge electric bill all those lighted corridors must chalk up.
But there are some effective
Some of the scare scenes are well done with a nice use of camera angles and sudden reveals.
And the thing that I noticed got the most criticism when the film came out (though the film did not get much and was certainly over-praised) I actually liked.
Many seem to dislike the eventual revealing of who the
killers are, as if it makes it an anti-climax. To me though it gave the film it's
only real powerful and disturbing aspect.
GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA
Damn funny, this astute and affectionate parody of 70's Black street culture and Blacksploitation films delivers more hits than misses.
Good, solid comedy fun with a nice cast of new comedy blood and veteran Blacksploitation faces.
Meg Tilly returns home after her Mother shoots herself.
As Mum lies in a coma, Tilly and her boyfriend, Tim Matheson, notice that the townsfolk are acting very strange. They seem to be acting on their most anti-social, dark and deadly impulses with not a care for the consequences....
Very good, well acted little horror/sci-fi thriller with a nice support cast (including Hume Cronyn, John Karlen and a young Bill Paxton) for Tilly and Matheson to play off, and an interesting set-up.
With a film like this the set-pieces are vital and this has some memorable moments of the respectable townsfolk going nuts. Old men pissing in the street, old women grabbing money from the bank, the Sheriff taking an automatic rifle to kids who commit the most petty of mis-deeds, people screwing in public, kids setting fire to things and a Vicar swearing like a trooper!
It's all played deadly serious as well which is nice to see. It's a dark, bleak but entertaining little movie and deserves a higher profile.
"In Hell" delivers not only a very good Van Damme acting performance, but also some brutal, realistic, un-flashy action and even a big chunk of soul in this prison set tale.
Like "Wake of Death" this latter day Jean Claude movie is a real return to form.
Director Ringo Lam goes back to prison and the move was a good one for him and his star.
Still a great watch!
Peter Falk and Alan Arkin are in top form in this mix of typically smart and funny 70's dialogue and slapstick.
Arkin's dentist gets involved in the complications of Falk's eccentric CIA agent...all before their kids are about to marry.
Falk and Arkin play off each other
wonderfully, there's a good support cast of characters (the barmy South American
general with his painted on hand puppet is a gem and James Hong's airplane safety
routine speech that he gives to the almost catatonic Arkin in the tiny private
jet, all done in frenzied Chinese and mime, is a blast!), it's fast moving and
just plain out and out fun in that unique 70's way.
Which of course meant it got yet another pointless re-make recently.
Jane Campion's erotic drama/thriller is a very strange, but interesting, beast.
More of a character/relationship study than a thriller (the psycho plot is purely there to propel the characters along) it's an engrossing mix of the rough, the dark, and the raw with the sureal and the dream-like.
It looks great, sounds great, is well acted and is surprisingly frank, open and explicit. Not just in the blood and body parts, or the nudity and the sex (Meg Ryan and Mark Ruffalo both bare all for the cause, and very nice it all is too, and the blow job scene may be a dildo but it's a damn realistic one) but also in the shockingly honest and raw dialoge where the sex is concerned. If the sex itself is not hardcore it's verbal description is.
The finale is a bit simple and rushed given the build-up and the style that has gone before, but all in all this is a solid, serious, well made, well acted, beautifully raw and open example of film making for adults.
Seriously forgotten 80's sleaze horror that sees John Cassavetes (whoring himself out to finance his own art house films) in what must be the most unusual movie choice (even when you include the human explosion cheese of "The Fury") he ever made.
John Ireland joins him in
the investigation of a number of brutal rape/murders that has literally seen the
victims fucked to death and filled with litres of mutant sperm!
Add to this the very creepy attitude Cassavetes' character has towards his teenage daughter (eyebrows from hell), a smattering of groovy 80's gore, violent/scream drenched rapes and a nasty ass finale and you have a delightful slice of fetid horror/exploitation worthy of better distribution on standing.
Okay, we have a plot hole filled script that at times annoys with how silly it all is, but also some finely crafted chaos.
Guy wants to see suicidal Sister in Psychiatric Hospital.
Guy pretend to go nuts in the local park, gets sent to Psychiatric Hospital.
While there he finds out the the loony head of it, Peter Stormare, is experimenting on the patients by removing the higher brain functions (!) so he can get to the lower brain functions (those pesky primordial suckers like to hide) and cure madness.
On top of this he's also been injecting himself with the experimental serum for some reason never really made clear.
Despite the fact a load of the patients now have seriously weird eyes, act like wild animals around blood and rip the heads of cats, no one thinks anything is wrong until it's too late.
Too late means lots of primordial nutters escaping their very chic glass cells and eating everyone...or themselves!
well made, violent, gory with a splash of exploitative goodies (2nd best blood
covered bared breasts in cinema after the mighty "Alucarda") this moves
at a good pace as it builds the (very silly and unlikely) 'lunatics running the
asylum' plot towards its manic, blood caked conclusion.
Some moist deaths and munching scenes are here for our delight (plus a groovy cleaver to the face demise that is something we see too little of in Horror cinema these days) but very little actual flesh biting is seen. Thus showing just how cutting edge, and stunningly extreme, Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" was and still is in this department.
film's problems though are the aforementioned plot silliness and glaring stupidity
(for example a Nurse gets bitten, in a hospital no less, but simply wraps an increasingly
blood dripping bandage around the wound and carries on without a care), some very
bad dialogue and needless, 90's style Horror, one-liners.
But the real drop in quality comes from a truly annoying turn by the ever barking Peter Stormare.
Hell fire and cobble stones! This makes his turn in "Armageddon" look like the height of subtlety.
He's an eye-rolling, word slurring pain in the ass! And that's before his character really starts to turn psychotic!
good twist ending caps off what is a very retro feeling Horror movie (has that
80's Euro trash/gore film feel) which delivers a no-nonsense, if rather silly,
viewing experience but utilises lots of modern and well executed gore FX to really
drive the crimson covered carnage forward during the balls-out last half.
We needed more mayhem though, and less Peter Stormare, who needs to see The Cohen's again for a lesson in the difference between an annoying, hammy, silliness packed performance and an effective, off the wall, exciting and scary performance.
Otherwise though..We have another good, graphic, 21st century Horror flick.
Check this out for cannibal carnage galore.
OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
One of the only worthwhile remakes.
And one of the reasons why are those (still) superb effects.
Add and excellent cast giving their all, a cloying sense (even down to the camera angles) of paranoia and fear, some effective emotional drama and a superb ending and you have yet another example of why the 70's were the best damn decade in film...from Hollywood productions to skid row Grindhouse fare.
Oustandingly cheesy, with a few flat action scenes (the Mall shootout is awful, you can see why Hong Kong films blew so much life into action cinema when you see this badly made set-up) but it's a lot of violent fun, with some great stunts in that unique 80's American way and with a suitably nasty and theatrical villian in the shape of Richard Lynch.
Breasts, more breasts, arses, forced sub sandwich eating, death by being jumped upon, even more breasts, shotgun splatter, crappy/fun acting, dead jocks, a few more breasts, more arses, bad jokes, flying bras, a fight between *two* invisible people and damn it...MORE breasts!
Not a good film though!
Still holds up and quite frankly, truthfully, sadly...Hong Kong cinema simply doesn't make films like this any more, instead even action films nowadays are not really 'fun' and all seemed aimed at festival awards ceremonies and broadsheet newspaper reviews. BAH!
from another time, when the most outrageous, over the top, wild, violent, bloody,
masses of extras dying all over the place set-pieces were the norm and at least
one sequence in "Iron Angels" (aka "Angel") pushes all these
An attack by the Angels (including the ever lovely Moon Lee) on a house is a thing to behold!
Tons of extras and stuntmen get machine-gunned down with blood spattered abandon, good looking men and women leap through windows, hang off helicopters, slide down stairs and dive through the air with guns-a-blazing, everyone fires millions of bullets, legs and fists slam into body parts with delightfully gymtastic skill, explosions blow whole groups of stuntmen through windows at the same time (with the explosion blasting over their bodies as they fly out) and all the walls get a crimson paint job.
But we have lots of other set-pieces
We open with an extra, explosion filled attack by the army on poppy fields, then go into some nicely bloody and violent assassination scenes, then a few martal arts smackdowns, before we get to the babe on babe finale where Elaine Lui and Moon Lee take on the amazingly nasty and sadistic Yukari Ôshima with explosive earrings, explosive buttons, planks of wood, fuel hoses and pointy poles.
Moon Lee shines here next to the amazing legs goddess Oshima.
We will forget the awful 'comedy freeze frame' ending and the fact that the (otherwise great) R3 DVD is missing The Osh's stunt breast scene, and instead simply concentrate on the sheer good times offered with its wildly over the top violence, crazy and dangerous looking stunts, blazing guns, blood spatters, utterly unique HK action staging and energy and sexy looking fighting femmes...and relish the days when 'critics awards' were the last thing on a Hong Kong action movie's mind.
Why the moaning?
Sure it tries to fit a lot in and there is a bit too downtime...but people bitched about "Transformers 2" being nothing but a CGI robot orgy, and yet when given a film made up of a plot/action ratio of about 65%/35% in favour of plot people still bitch.
The FX are
stunning, most of the fights expertly crafted and exciting (the very end fight
though being far too much of a, short, anti-climax) Downey is in top form and
straddles a fine line between annoying jerk and cool nice guy perfectly, the dialogue
between him and Paltrow is still fun and the addition of S.H.I.E.L.D means some
non-Iron Man action can add variety in the shapely (if rather nosey) form of Scarlett
Rourke is also fun (and looks amazingly mad) but is a bit wasted at the end and Sam Rockwell's astute turn gives us a nasty comedic gem of a villain character to back up Rourke.
Some pacing flaws, Rourke a bit wasted in the finale, but overall a damn fine slice f high tech fun-stuffs that bodes well for the Marvel Universe future on film.
given the 'backwards' flowing narrative I did think that once the 'action' (for want of a better word) was over in the beginning the film would fizzle out.
I was wrong.
By the time the normal, before tragedy, moments were shown you had really come to feel something towards the main characters and it created a very odd, but pretty unique, mixture of sadness and happiness.
It also made you think just how fragile life can be...to see the horror and then to see the innocence before it was far more powerful than the conventional timeline method of telling a story.
The fact that the revenge
was a failure and that the man responsible for all the hurt simply smiled and
walked away just made the tragedy even greater, but that after such brutal and
tragic events the film actually ends on a light and romantic note means we are
left with wonderfully conflicting emotions towards what we have witnessed.
Powerful, hard and very well made I thought it pretty much lived up to it's hype and praise, with the rape being as brutal as anything seen in the likes of "I Spit on Your Grave" and the uncut "The Klansman", despite not being as graphic visually.
IT CAME FROM KUCHAR
Fine documentary about idiosyncratic underground film makers Mike and George Kuchar who made horror/sci-fi/Hollywood melodrama influenced 8mm/18mm (and now video) films that mixed the personal with pop culture to make some very weird and often wonderful creations indeed.
One of the biggest influences on John Waters in particular and indeed influences on a lot of film makers including Buck Henry, Wayne Wang, Atom Egoyan and Jim Jarmusch and on 60's/70's film aesthetic in general the Kuchars' mass of often no-budget shorts have had little distribution on legit DVD or even VHS.
A paltry 4 short film compilation on UK VHS ("Color
me Lurid") is perhaps their biggest legit release full stop.
Even the late Curt McDowell's oh so mighty "Thundercrack" (which George Kuchar co-wrote, did make-up for and co-starred in) that perhaps had the highest global profile and distribution has been relegated to low quality, truncated, VHS/DVD dupes for years..
As such The Kuchar's tend to live solely
in a documentary world for most people, but at least this particular one is packed
with great information, fascinating insights and some marvellous interviews with
the Brothers Kuchar themselves.
And often these interviews reveal a darker side to their upbringing for sure (when asked if their parents simply "got along", George comes out with the blackly hysterical "I wouldn't go that far") but most of these moments reveal seemingly happy and fulfilling lives packed with crazy revelations and filled with contagious enthusiasm for underground cinematic (now DVDmatic sadly) creativity.
George is the most active in film making today (he still runs a college film course that's been going for over 30 years and attends film festivals/retrospectives) but both drip with artistic greatness (their artwork is also wonderful) and their sheer eccentricity is simply divine...making even the legendary John Waters (one of the many interviewees here) look achingly normal and mainstream personalities!
This needs to be
seen by any and all underground/indy/exploitation film fans and if it's a bit
short (some 45 minutes of deleted scenes on the DVD which are also cool) it at
least offers people the chance to get close to a couple of groundbreaking artists
whose art is sadly now stuck away in dark and dusty corners (which also makes
the many, many clips form their films here a joy) and for "Thundercrack"
devotees there's also some wonderful footage of Curt McDowell too, including a
deeply moving moment the Kuchar's themselves shot of Curt in his sick bed (he
would die from AIDS) that sees Kuchar wit slice through the melancholy.
Long live the Kuchar's.
Hmmm.....Like all their stuff I find it amusing for about 30 minutes and then find it tiring and rather dull with the odd splash of putrid genius here and there (shit volcano ahoy!!!) and many of the 'jackass crew' reactions feel rather too false....the constant puking reactions to things (especially from the annoying camera guy) seems really fake, as if they are making themselves do it.
Not as good as
the first 2 for me (just less interesting stunts really) but there is still enough
here to entertain and gross you out.
Time to knock it on the head now though guys.
We're all too fucking old.
Good stuff. Some nice atmosphere, some memoerable set-pieces, a surprisingly bleak attitude to things and a nicely different monster.
But I still dislike the Sister, who's quite frankly an unlikeable character too full of herself and too often saying things are "full of shit" despite everything she has seen!
Plus I have no idea why, after it has gone to all the trouble of chasing them and running them off the road, it then carries on driving, leaving the the leads to explore it's lair! Or to phone the Cops, as it can't know the battery is dead on the mobile!
Oh well...Still a god time is
had with the trip to the monsters lair being a particular highlight, as is the
Police car 'incident'!
JEEPERS CREEPERS 2
Far more an action flick than the first one and all rather overblown and silly with it.
We also see too much of The Creeper and he starts to become Freddy character with comedy face pulling etc. Some dubious matte FX for the flying scenes don't help matters. We quite frankly don't need to see him in as much detail as we do, as such he really just becomes a make-up effect rather than the effective horror character he was originally.
It has some good things though. The
plot links with the first film are welcome, some of the action is well done and
entertaining and you are rarely sure who is going to die (or not) next.
Ray Wise is always fun as well.
But ultimately it's an overblown sequel that lacks the macabre tone of the first film or it's bleak, doomy atmosphere.
Nice ending though.
70's Fred Williamson Western vehicle that has some interesting sequences, some classic 'how the hell did that ever get a PG' moments (a body with a spear through the neck, the fact the plot has a kidnapped woman raped multiple times by different men - even though not shown she does scream a lot and has her clothes ripped - and that it contains dialogue like "I've not had this much fun since I raped my 9 year old Sister"!) and Williamson just oozes black clad coolness.
plot is paper thin, the droning, repetitive music drives you mad and for a good
half of the film nothing happens except for seemingly endless scenes of men slowly
riding along on horseback as said maddening music drones on and on and on.
Fact is, for most of the time, most of the film is achingly dull.
The UK DVD is uncensored, but uses a crappy looking transfer that's actually missing a couple of crucial scenes despite having a few other extra bits.
It also has some bad scratches...one makes the killer creeping up on the girl suddenly leap right next to her!
But a High Def transfer
would not fix the problems here.
Stupendously drawn out (50 minutes before we get to the meat) and even when it does get going the action is shot and edited to be as clunky and lethargic as possible.
Anyone whose sat through nearly an hour of backwoods love triangle tedium to get to the good bits in his "Squirm" will see the same stodgy pace and lack of energy here from Jeff Lieberman.
The twin 'twist' on the killers is thrown away from the very start and as such ruins a chance for a real unexpected reveal later on, and the killer's may be shot very well when they appear in scenes but when they 'get going' they're more comical than anything else.
There are a few good things here...the opening
murder is nicely nasty and the shot of the killer then framed in the doorway,
playfully trying on his new clothes is effective. As a a few shots of the killers
actually as mentioned.
The setting is good and the otherwise flat cinematography shows off the vast wilderness well.
There a couple of moments that are marginally violent (like the machete in the stomach that leaves the guy still alive as it's later pulled out) but they are very few and far between and staged in that typically lethargic Lieberman fashion.
The finale treats us to one delightfully mad method of killing though that must be unique in horror cinema, if not cinema in general.
And the 'Girl Power' stance of the finale is groovy as well..especially as the guy just lies on the ground crying like a baby as his penis obviously shrinks away to nothing!
Shame the rest of the film was not as interesting or enjoyable.
Kurosawa's econd best film imho, after the majestic "Ran".
Clever, layered, emotional and profound it's quite simply superb cinema!
Underrated serial killer/road trip thriller with some nice character/relationship observations, great cinematography, a good score and a fine cast.
Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes all work well together and some of the violence in the 'unrated' version is suitably brutal.
Stevie the Seagul joins up with the same director as "A Dangerous Man" but to lesser effect.
Not that this is a bad film..just not as good.
Some nice and messy gunshot hits, quite a lot of
action and smattering of martial arts (mostly just punches and blocks and much
But the pace is a bit off, the story less than gripping and Seagal's very bad stand-in for the back of his head (WHY??), during conversations, is very distracting.
The ending has some good sniper rifle violence, but is otherwise a bit low key.
But...a fun enough, violent, romp with people worshipping
Seagal so much, you have to wonder if he had a hand in the screenplay.
When (after recovering from being shot) a female fellow police officer states "You survived something that would have killed most men, you're an inspiration to everyone who wants to join the force" and when he has the young woman he's protecting going all drippy and moist over him... you have to wonder if Stevie Seagul flapped through the open window of the deserted script conference room and quickly added a little bit of self-love to the script when no one was watching.
Few films are this entertaining, this open to decades of re-watchability...but "Kelly's Heroes" is certainly one of them.
A top main cast (Clint Eastwood is cool, Telly Savalas has never been better, Don Rickles is great fun, Donald Sutherland is genius) has consistently brilliant support from a fantastic line-up of thesps (Carrol O'Connor, Harry Dean Stanton, Stuart Margolin, Gene Collins, Gavin MacLeod -with his camp negative waves- and Karl-Otto Alberty), the dialogue crackles, the Lalo Schifrin music is excellent, the pacing, editing and action direction top notch and the background scale (a small sale story with a mammoth backdrop of extras, villages, tanks and explosions) is old school epic.
Half a star off for the forced mine field scene (makes
no sense as to why two guys stay there if you look at the time taken and terrain)
and overly long move up into the town...otherwise this is perfection that you
can re-watch endlessly.
True it's (especially Sutherland's wonderful Oddball and his men) more 'Nam than WW2 but with this amount of fantastic fun offered up, who cares.
Jolly enjoyable Japanese japes in the form of a werewolf Samurai who befriends a village of mystical Japanese creatures (from Turtle monsters to Spider Geishas) under threat from beastly humans in fetish gear with a gatling gun!
Barmy as only the Japanese can be, this is full of crazy sights and packs bundles of fun into he full on finale.
Early spurting comic strip bloodshed ala "Baby Cart" sadly vanishes until the end (with the other fights being strangely bloodless) but then the gore comes back with a vengeance as Kibakichi leaps around slashing off limbs.
Wacky creatures, Samurai coolness, solid action, very
nice soundtrack and Spaghetti Western styling mixed with Japanese mythos all makes
for a very enjoyable watch.
Needs a much better DVD transfer though!!
First off I had no idea this was a proper, bona-fide,made/crewed//funded, British movie and that only makes the following views even more satisfying to make.
does just that. It kicks fucking ass.
Well made, well realised, well executed, astute, the right kind of fanboyish, clever, simple, un-PC, dramatic, moving, funny as hell, nice and violent and wonderfully entertaining "Kick-Ass" is in a way the flipside of "Watchmen" as like that it has basic/well known comic strip/superhero ideas and styling and yet where "Watchmen" adds some fresh, very serious, political-socio coating to it all "Kick-Ass" adds some fresh comedic/parody/homage twists to it all.
Both are something just a little different and a little new and although "Kick-Ass" is not remotely the complex work that Moore (and indeed the complete version of the underrated movie) created there is still enough (far more intimate and personal rather than global/social like in "Watchmen") meat here to add that little bit extra to what is at heart a slam bang, balls-out, nicely violent (though toned down from the initial comic series) and gloriously entertaining superhero romp.
The FX are well done and effective too given the relatively small budget (some dubious CGI blood, but the overall garish comic book look of the film helps this), the action scenes are fun and generally brutal even when being comedic, performances are all wonderful with both the English lead (Aaron Johnson) and Mark Strong pulling out some top notch American accents along with their basic acting skills, Nic Cage is wonderful and Chloe Moretz is bags of fun as the brutal, foul-mouthed, but still sweet and likeable 'Hit-Girl'.
perhaps a bit longer than it is at times (though it is nearly 2 hours) and sometimes
slows down a bit during the first half, and yet I can't really think of anything
I'd be happy losing.
So overall "Kick-Ass" lives up to the hype and is well worth buying to add to your collection
Okay for a few cheesy laughs and thrills and the fights are well staged and edited, But the finale fight is weak in emotion as it's just Van Damme getting creamed for the first half, and then just the bad guy getting creamed in the second half...there is no real back and forth 'fighting'.
And WHAT were those songs?!"Never Surrender! Never say die!", "Fight for love"!
Very cheesy, with a villain stuck with a stupid latex face to try and make him look Asian.
But otherwise this was surprisingly good popcorn entertainment.
Packed with extremely violent fights it moves at a nice pace and also manages to
cram in some welcome nudity (including a surprisingly exploitative threesome sex
scene that stops the plot dead - CUT in the American DVD) and a brutal torture scene with a surprisingly
nasty (especially given the victim), entrail exposing outcome.
A good, solid, brutal popcorn fight-fest that does what it needs to do without
Another Dolph Lundgren directed/starring action film that delivers some meaty action scenes (and a lot of them), some nice violence and a nice late support turn for veteran Bo Svenson (where Dolph gives him the screen time Tarantino barely gave, and then cut out, of "Inglorious Basterds").
Dolph is okay, doing his normal thing, but he fails to really convince as a hitman simply because he's more battering ram than shurikan and runs like Karloff's monster.
plot is needlessly obscure at times though and you pretty much play catch-up to
the unfolding events that twist this way and that way.
It all leads to a slightly hazy but ultimately satisfying shootout finale and only the rather pointless 'so what's going to happen now then' coda muddy's the waters.
Not great, not special, but solid enough action funstuffs with some interesting characters and some good, bloody, action to be found in the messy plot.
Some excellent acting, excellent dialogue and interactions. Lightly funny, acid, bleak, nasty stuff.
Certainly fans of Wheatley's earlier "Down Terrace" will find much to fascinate here in the relationships, discussions and semi-improvised dialogue that make up the film's first half, pretty straight, drama. Although this lacks most of that earlier film's humour.
then it goes very weird. And horrific.
Not that it's out of the blue weird, as strange things (and obvious things) have been signposted.
We KNOW all is not as it seems.
And the basic blueprint for this later set-up is easy enough to understand, but when you add all the other details of the plot that have gone beforehand (things that have happened, things people have done, the way people have acted, how events have played out) the whole thing becomes a mess.
ultimately makes any sense at all, once you think past the most basic of plot
Interpretation of events is one thing...but for that you need to be given those events.
Here we end abruptly with nothing (bar that most basic skeleton of a plot) offered us except utterly unexplained events and no sense of any real closure.
There is some shocking violence here (a scene involving
a hammer is grotesque and from an FX point of view a glorious magic trick) and
a constant sense of dread washes over the viewer.
And this remains a dark, dark film all the way though despite some amusing dialogue moments.
you leave frustrated at the nonsensical events that contradict ANY interpretation
you could ever come up with and you get the feeling no one knew how to end the
film at all in reality.
So they decided to just stop it and call it a...er...ambiguous and deeply intellectual ending.
But we're not fooled.
Give a blind monkey a typewriter and the last page of a screenplay to finish and it too will also type an ending that makes no sense and answers nothing.
That's not clever. It's lazy.
Clever is doing the unexpected and the unusual and the risky, defying our expectations, but then delivering an ending that satisfies, that skilfully weaves these unexpected and bold moves into a whole.
leaves us a mess of jumbled annoyance and not so much a whole as lots of holes.
There's a great film lurking in the shadows here. But lurking is all it does as the endings locks it away never to see the light of day sadly.
OR BE KILLED
Karate midget Nazis!
Hysterically awful plotting!
Ply wood castle!
Karate villain who head-butts guitars!
Wacky comedy music!
Karate fight with a pack of dogs!
Supposed trip to London shown via a still photo of Chelsea Pensioners!
Damn fine Karate skills!
Bags of stupid fun!
Seek it out......now!
OF AMERICA (THE)
'Worthy' Mondo documentary originally produced for the Mondo loving Japanese market.
It's a look at crime, guns and death in America from roughly the 60's to the 80's.
Explicit footage, constant gloom and a cloying feeling of despair are the hallmarks of "The Killing of America"...but it's also well 'made' and does indeed have a brain. Perhaps even a heart.
'Highlights' are many but some things that stuck out/hit me were;
At the time of its making (about 1982) it states that there are 2 guns for every household in North America.
A 16 yr old girl gets a rifle for Birthday present (!)
She sticks it out of her bedroom window one day and shoots at the nearby school. She wounds 11 schoolchildren & kills 2 adult staff trying to help them.
We have some great, if shocking, 70's/80's L.A. Grindhouse theatre/porno shop/gay hustler and teen hooker footage (with one of the teenage girls telling the harsh tale of how she found her Mother dying after she had shot herself in the face).
The infamous (and bloodily graphic) execution of alleged Vietcong murderer, Nguye^~n Va(n Lém, by South Vietnamese General, Loan.
Another shocking fact that sex killers were SO common place in America by 1977 that a man who murdered 21 boys made no headlines.
Listening to the three brutalised, literally bone shattered, lives ripped apart, survivors of Ted Bundy's dorm rampage giving evidence at his trial was harrowing and you can see why death penalty exists. Even if I'm personally against it for general punishment...as The Law makes too many mistakes.
But when you see Edmund Kemper interviewed you'd be hard
pushed not to admit the death penalty should at least be used on serial killers.
Kemper murdered/raped/cannibalised/had sex with the severed heads of his female victims. And yet he's alive in 2012, giving interviews, recording audio books (!) and just....existing.
Justice has failed to be dispensed here.
So it's a bleak, grim, documentary that
is genuinely depressing and vomits up many hard to swallow, but swallow we must,
Certainly it reminds you of the reality of crimes we have since let become background noise, as it is raw in chronicling the grotesque horrors of killers we've now simply made part of our culture landscape.
Worth a look. Just be warned.
KING OF COMEDY
Easily the most unjust flop in Martin Scorsese's career and easily one of his finest works, as well as one of De Niro's most brilliant performances that hits every note perfectly.
Not a single member of the cast puts a foot wrong in fact. Sandra Bernhard is utterly bonkers in all the right ways and Jerry Lewis is magnificent in what was a very brave role to take.
Black as pitch, sad, tragic... funny, clever, astute.
A rare mix, mixed perfectly.
While 3rd rate efforts like "Cape Fear" become hits, and deserved flops like the supremely overrated "Raging Bull" gain massive critical plaudits later...the superb "King of Comedy" hovers around in semi-obscurity.
All hail Scorsese and De Niro! This joins "Taxi Driver" as the pinnacle of their collaborations, followed by "Casino" and "Goodfellas".
Simply magnificent cinema on every level.
The 80's! Gotta love 'em!
KISS, BANG, BANG
A damn mini masterpiece!
Funny, exciting, surreal and dramatic mixture that features two wonderful lead turns by Downey and Kilmer and equally good support turns by the whole cast.
Despite the purposeful
homages, light parodies and cutting observations on other films this manages to
be quite unlike any other film in that Tarantino way...but with a far less fanboy
attitude (not that I mind that).
Shane Black shows he can handle directing chores as well as he can handle the writing ones.
Took me a foolishly long
time to see this, so if you haven't yet...don't be a chump like moi...See it!
Hell, OWN IT!
Forgotten Slasher flick that has many musical nods towards Argento (mainly "Suspiria" and "Inferno") and some choice kills, some involving saw blade traps that slice stomachs open and clippers that slice off feet.
Some nice performances, likeable and interesting characters, some fun in-jokes aimed at cheesy Horror flicks and acting in them too.
It stalls near the end though,
as what seems like the finale is actually just the opening of a curiously extended
closing act that tries to explain whats been going on.
Which it does, but you can have a couple of interpratations and after the big lead up its a bit of a mess. But no matter which way you do look at it, its still nicely dark and perverse.
Above average Indy horror that plays and looks like something far more expensive.
OF THE DEAD
Much better than some of the negative remarks spewed around.
But it somehow felt a little empty and it was far too short!
It had some choice moments though, some nicely messy flesh ripping and gut munching in this unrated print (there was no need for lazy ass CGI blood though!), and a pretty good cast do a pretty good job.
Not the ground shaker it should have been given the long wait and the 'evolved' zombies sit badly with me, but it was generally a good romp and easily Romero's best film since the excellent "Day of the Dead".
KING OF SCOTLAND (THE)
Not bad, with some nice spectacle and cinematography.
But too much time is spent on the fictional Doctor and not on Amin himself.
Some nasty scenes as well, but it all felt a bit rushed somehow. A rare case of a film needing to be longer.
Forrest was good as Amin but somehow, somewhere in the middle of the 80's Grindhouse effort "Amin: The Rise and Fall" and this film... a far better movie about Amin dwells.
MAN ON EARTH (THE)
This early adaptation of "I am Legend" stars Vincent Price and is jammed with bleak imagery of the dead.
Be it the abundant corpses that litter the streets (even Price's driveway) or the corpses sprawled around the sides of the 'dead pit' or the undead vampires themselves (shuffling around with their hollowed eyes) this (rather bizarre) American/Italian co-production certainly succeeds in its morbid vision.
Price is also pretty good in what is mostly a one-man show (obviously!) with some good narration and some well played scenes of emotion and only the obvious post-dubbing of the dialogue (I assume the numerous Italian co-stars made this - unusual for a Price film - dubbing a necessity) detracts from the performances in general.
tend to rush through a lot of plot and action in the last 3rd though and you can't
help but wonder if another 20 minutes or so added to the final act would have
The flashbacks are a mixed blessing too. Some are good and fill out the plot and drive the main character's emotional breakdown, but with so much plot to cover in the 80 odd minute running time, some of them do hog the running time a bit much.
Overall though, this is a pretty interesting sci-fi/horror flick, that is sort of faithful to the source material, but the rushed last 3rd fails to impress as much as the (exceedingly grim and bleak) first part of the narrative.
LAST OF THE LIVING
New Zealand, very low budget, zombie comedy/drama that has some good ideas, some sparse but effective splatter and FX (some very bad zombie
make-up aside) and some nice performances and likeable characters.
But it looks very cheap, has
to much forced humour and shouty/forced 'Bro' dialogue and unfortunately suffers
from being just one of many, many such films.
It's serious drama and jokey slapstick moments don't always gel either (not as good as "Shaun of the Dead" for example), but it has some fun moments and is obviously a work of love...so it's certainly worth a rental/download viewing.
PICTURE SHOW (THE)
Peter Bogdanovich's seminal work was one of the first of the 70's 'maverick' Director movies to make a splash (after 67/69's "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Easy Rider" had led the way). And it holds up very well today.
The frank for the time (less so now, but it still has an edge) sexuality and expose of small town sexual mores and hidden scandals made the film a big, if controversial, hit and showed how Hollywood was growing up, changing, and attempting to drag the audiences back to the cinema and away from TV, not with flashy spectacle and gimmicks but with an explicitness (both in sex, nudity, language and violence) and adult orientated subjects and sensibility that TV just never offered.
The stunning ensemble cast and Bogdanovich's
tight, assured, direction and editing ensure that even when not much, plot wise,
is actually going on there is always something on-screen to keep us entertained,
intrigued and moved.
It does seem rather slight today though, with much of what was new and radical at the time being far less so now. So it does work now on two levels; It works still as a finely crafted, superbly acted, small town drama, but it's also become a bit of a time piece and some of the cutting edge fascination has been turned into simple historical interest.
But the cast (with Cloris Leachman, Timothy Bottoms, Ben Johnson, a beautiful and young Cybill Shepherd - breasts and all- and Ellen Burstyn being the stand-outs) and Peter Bogdanovich's direction ensure that as an entertaining, often deeply moving, dramatic piece the film is still well worth a viewing in 2009.
Very good indeed.
And for a Samurai junkie like myself it was heaven to watch and listen to.
it may be overly sentimental and rosy coloured as far as the Samurai were concerned (it's not a good thing to go back the the class dominated, sexist, xenophobic Feudal life), but as an emotional, exciting and thoughtful Hollywood take on things it was excellent.
Great action and costumes as well.
TO GUN HILL
The mighty Kirk Douglas is a Sheriff in search of justice when he finds out the man who raped and killed his wife was the Son of an old friend, Anthony Quinn.
Some nice performances (if rather old school melodramatic)
and some well staged action/suspense scenes but the finale is overly melodramatic
an obvious and the 'dying words' set-up now looks achingly cheesy.
But the cast and some of the set-pieces make this worth a look.
WOMAN ON EARTH (THE)
After a long build-up of nothingness the Earth loses it's oxygen for a while and everyone suffocates except three boring people (two men and one woman, hence the title) who were scuba diving at the time.
This delivers one good scene, of a child's body lying like she's asleep with her arm over her face on the roadside, which is rather creepy otherwise it's one long arguement about the obvious moral and social problems the situation raises with a dull lust triangle sub-plot for the remaining 50 minutes or so.
Written by future "Chinatown" scribe Robert Towne of all people. A Roger Corman Sci-Fi.
LAW ABIDING CITIZEN
Vastly underrated revenge flick with top performances from a strong cast, some shocking bloodshed, a crowd pleasing attitude of righteous vengeance with at least one legendary bit of nasty ass revenge against a deserving scumbag.
But there is also a "Ms.45" attitude to Butler's character when, like Thana in that film, the vigilante becomes a maniac who crosses lines and must be stopped.
Unlike the truly awful, liberal love-in, anti-vigilante film wrapping itself up in vigilante style to sell tickets, "Death Sentence" (a film that punishes its vigilante for daring to do anything) "Law Abiding Citizen" never fails to satisfy AS a revenge flick.
And don't listen
to criticism about the end. The end is excellent, right, and ironically is just
what Butler's vigilante was fighting for...Justice before Law.
OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA'HOOL
Took my 6 year old Daughter to see this owl starring fantasy animation.
Zack Snyder and a highly talented
set of folks have produced perhaps the most visually stunning 'Digimation' film
The level of detail and animation of it al (given that this is filled with owls and all that feathery flapping that goes with it) is amazing and the 3D actually works very well indeed.
Snyder uses his usual 'sudden slow motion' style in the battle scenes (ala "300") but this works perfectly for capturing the detail and energy of the animation, helps the 3D effect (as all the best 3D bits of "Resident Evil: Afterlife") and gives the old eyes a break from (admittedly) trying to follow such frantic, flapping, highly detailed action scenes at normal speed.
The design is stunning,
the visual FX amazing and the story surprisingly dark for a children's film.
It's basically a simpler mix of Jackson's "LOTR", "Gladiator", and "Star Wars"...only with owls.
The old old story of brothers split asunder as one turns to 'the dark side' is also pretty tough as well for a family/kids aimed film with no easy answers or expected resolution you kind of expect from a children's movie.
The score is very good as well (of very
cliche) and I was getting a strong "LOTR"/"Gladiator"
vibe (Lisa Gerrard is featured) until....a damn "High School Musical"
style pop song appeared for a montage sequence!
Where the hell this came from I do not know and it was dreadfully out of place. It truly was like having Zack Efron suddenly warbling in the middle of "LOTR".
Thankfully (if cliche again) an iconic 'Dead Can Dance' song ("The Host of the Seraphim") appeared later to drag things back into that "Gladiator" musical vibe.
Some good (if of course pretty soft) battle scenes of the armoured
clawed owls fighting, great visuals, great 3D, stunning design and animation,
a good solid, emotional (if nothing new) story and a dark edge means this is a
fine slice of family fantasy that all ages can enjoy.
Check it out and check it out at the cinema in 3D if you can.
Angels here are not very mythical. They can be killed/try to kill each other with machine guns and clubs and it's all very rushed.
The ending is a mixture of bible thumping, 'you just need to have faith' propaganda and fails to really explain if the apocalypse is done or not. It seems to be...but then the final shot (guns guns guns) seems to say different.
All rather talky and dull.
BUT...the awesome 'old lady' sequence alone makes this worth catching once, if you have a spare moment.
LEON ( Extended Cut)
Well, the Theatrical version is certainly superior.
The extra scenes also have to be put straight. Aside from the needless 'will you make love to me' scene that was removed due to bad test screening, ALL the other extra scenes were removed by Besson in his own editing process.
And you can tell why. They bog the film down and also change the main characters, and not for the better.
may not kill anyone, but to have her take such a big part in Leon killing people
means she is somehow corrupted anyway, thus making the final scene/decision, that
sees her grow up by taking back her childhood, less emotionally effective.
This 'hit' montage also blows the mythic qualities/skills of Leon (already built up by this time) and makes him look more like a bull in a china shop than a 'lethal shadow'.
There are also enough more subtle (and less subtle) scenes that
show Matilda's unfocused and chaotic love towards Leon and her niave sexual ideas
towards him, the 'will you be my first time' scene was crass and uncomfortably
creepy and (judging by what a woman says on the 'retrospective' doc on the BD)
seems more to do with Luc Besson's supposedly 'so sophisticated and French' Lolita
love of his own than anything else.
There was some interesting back story dialogue about Leon during these scenes, but it was not really needed. Again, the mystique was better.
As for the film itself, it still holds up but I do notice just
how illogical much of it is (how the hell did Oldman's character get a woman shot
in the bath and a teenage girl shot in the back, down as a justified shooting??!!)
and Oldman is even more pantomime than I remember. He's wildly entertaining...but
he's still a panto villain.
I also noticed how, although sad, morally correct the ending is...after all Leon did kill loads of perfectly innocent Cops just doing their job. That mass of SWAT guys were not part of Oldman's crooked crew, so Leon did cross a line there.
Flawed...But still a good watch with some fun/excellent performances (Jean Reno is superb indeed), an excellent score and some well done action.
Just stick with the Theatrical cut though.
THE RIGHT ONE IN
Atmospheric, gripping, lethargic, warm, cold, brutal, beautiful, harsh, sweet.
This much acclaimed take on the Vampire myth (using a mixture of Anne Rice style 'immortal tragedy through the ages' Vampirism with olde world feral Vampire ferociousness and lore) is a clever mixture of styles and emotions and tells a basically simple story of childhood friendship, yearning, and being on the outside of your society in such a way that the simplicity of the fable is crucially swathed in layers of complex character moments.
It sometimes leaves genuine questions it itself raises hanging (like the genital scarring...which is an utterly pointless thing to even show if you are never going to actually have it play any part at all in the story, let alone explain it) and ignores simple everyday parts of life that must surely be forefront, given what occurs in the town (like an even basic Police presence) and instead the screenplay concentrates almost purely (an intriguing if rather hazy 'Father' character and a somewhat rushed sub-plot involving an attack survivor aside) on the relationship between the loner young boy Oskar (the whitest boy this side of Casper!) and his new Vampyric friend Eli.
Top notch performances are what hold the film together and keep it strong thus allowing the gorgeous cinematography and occasional moments of bloody violence to really shine as they help to essay what is already a finely acted, moving, drama of boy meets bloodsucker..
Pace could have been tightened up a little bit perhaps and the screenplay not been quite so needlessly obscure over aspects it never had to bring up anyway, but overall this genuinely moving, intriguing, exciting, moody and surprisingly warm (especially given all that snow!) Vampyric fable mostly lives up to it's high reputation and is certainly a must-see.
Forget all the needless sequels, this is the one and only.
Still as good today with a great mix of drama, action and comedy. BUT with a sadly forgotten dramatic edge where Riggs is concerned.
The extended Director's Cut adds some nice scenes, with some good extra characterisation for Riggs as he tries to cope with being alone and missing his Wife.
And Mel Gibson's serious acting in this is sadly neglected. The scene where he is held at gunpoint and tells the guy to shoot him is brilliantly acted as is his run in with Glover after the 'jumper' incident.
And the sequence where Riggs nearly shots himself (extremely intense), but breaks down and hugs his Wife's picture and says how much he misses her, is genuinely moving.
Wonderful chemistry between Gibson and Danny Glover and of course an iconic turn by Gary Busey as the stoic Mr Joshua.
Nice to see Tom Atkins as well.
PRIME 80's action movie making.
GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE
A real trip down memory..er...lane.
As always the young Jodie Foster does an amazing job, and is more appealing (and in better films) than the older Jodie Foster.
Martin Sheen (just before "Apocalypse Now") is superb as the sleazy, sexual predator and all in all this has aged very well and makes for compulsive viewing.
A very well crafted, low key 70's thriller full of excellent performances.
Yucky video quality picture, dubious acting, cheap looking -not in a good way, sometimes ropey effects.
It just failed to grab me basically.
It had a few moments and aspects that worked (the mask wearing 'Butcher' character makes for a good and nasty sight, the Asian actress was yummy and some of the gore was well done) but it's a case of too much means far less.
By this I mean some of the death FX were more comedy than horror.
Great big splats and spurts of blood with loud sound effects that scream out their
falseness and as such lack the viscial power the makers think they are giving
Either make some OTT fantasy gore and blood fest or make a gritty, realistic slice of brutality (which is why the much better executed in general "Hostel" dropped the ball during the silly looking, squelchy goo during the 'eyeball' scene).
And the less said about the hero Japanese cop dude as well! BAD acting!
Too slight, too video looking, too many silly FX, poor
acting, sluggish execution.
A Shame really as there was a germ of a successfully nasty film here (it does have the odd moment though and I'm still surprised the BBFC passed the full version intact) but it never really sprouted into anything.
Perhaps next time.
Talk about too much star power!
Almost every character (big or small) is an actor most people, and probably all Brits, will recognise.
Story has Colin Farrell's gangster (trying so hard to keep his London accent he almost forgets to act) trying to go straight, shacking up with an utterly pointless Keira Knightly and then everything goes to hell when Ray Winstone mad gang boss appears.
schizo film that lurches from comedy to nastiness and is so packed with characters
and sub plots its complete chaos.
Has no sense of period either. It's set now, but almost all the songs are old and some people dress straight out of the 60's.
far as the acting/star power goes;
Colin Farrell is okay, but too low key too often and rather wooden.
Ray Winstone is in top Cockney psycho form though. And very scary.
He's all gravel, huge balls and a mouth full of gorgeously articulated "Cunts"!
Keira Knightley is in dreary wood mode and needs to eat a fucking burger.
Ben Chaplin is truly superb as Farrell's low life acquaintance.
Stephen Graham is always welcome but wasted.
David Thewliss is great as a comic-tragic figure.
Anna Friel is very good as Farrell's trouble party girl Sister.
It's often a fun ride, but it's a very messy, very random, schizophrenic film with an achingly forced last 10 minutes that is blackly ironic but also needlessly bleak, clumsy and not that satisfying.
LONG GOOD FRIDAY (THE)
The KING of British Gangster movies (closely followed by the superb "Get Carter").
Bob Hoskins has only ever been this good once more, in the lovely "Mona Lisa", and in a film packed with great characters, performances, music and set-ups...he still manages to stay above everything and truly helps makes this the classic film it is.
The original of course (and the point of re-making this was?)
Still as good as it ever was with a perfect mix of light humour, hard humour, serious drama and brutality.
And as this is the 70's nothing can replace Burt Reynolds on the cool meter.. Certainly not Adam Sandler!
LOVE AND DEATH
A smart and funny Woody Allen film that mixes visual gags with verbal wit to a petty succesful degree.
It falls apart at the end a bit and some of the European Arthouse homages are rather cumbersome and indulgent at times, but overall it has some marvelous moments that blend astute observation with straight ahead comedy.
The "My father owned a piece of land" gag is still hilarious.
LOVED ONES (THE)
Break-out Australian horror that has been getting good feedback from various festivals that is overall a visceral and nasty success, but has a few plot issues and is perhaps rather more a fluff piece than it thinks it is.
The fast moving set-up sees a gloomy teen kidnapped by the nutty father of an even more nutty girl who won't take no for an answer when it comes to her prom date.
As the gloomy teen
"Twilight" actor Xavier Samuel handles the torture/horror stuff
fine, but there is a really bizarre aspect to his character.
Once taken...he never, not once, speaks again.
This seems very strange until you almost have to work out for yourself that an injection he receives must have stopped him from being able to speak. But it's not made very clear (is it even permanent or not?) and as such it's rather weird and disconcerting to have him spend the rest of the film never uttering a single word. Just screaming and gurgling.
other performances are very good and all round solid, but the real star here is
Robin McLeavy as one of the best, most gloriously twisted and utterlry deranged
female psychopaths you have ever seen. This is one scary lady!
McLeavy just nails her role. She gives her raving-all to the part and easily becomes the twisted highlight in a very twisted film. Destined to be one of the top psycho characters/perfromances in horror if there is any justice.
The torture stuff owes a great deal,
as indeed they all do, to the final scenes of Hooper's masterpiece "The
Texas Chainsaw Massacre" only this time the girl it is not the girl tied
to the chair.
There are some really unpleasant on screen (and off screen) moments here, the most squirmingly nasty and uncomfortable being some electric drill action, complete with blood curdling screams and grinding, smoking, skull abuse that shows just how lenient censorship has become.
There's also a nicely old school horror idea about the basement, that adds a wonderfully macabre touch to the madness already blasting out from the screen.
The script does do a strange thing
It sometimes leaves the main action to focus on the prom date adventures of Samuel's best friend as he takes a hot 'n' moody Emo chick out.
These numerous scenes seem to have no link to the main story at all until much later on and until you learn that link these scenes seem really pointless.
And even when the link is established (there are a couple of purposely coincidental 'event reveals' in the film) you still have to wonder what writer/director Sean Byrne's point was.
I assume it was to show that tragic events can effect us all, but it seems a rather slight idea to have spent such a goodly amount of screentime on.
The film is also, at the end of the day, not much more than a gruesome popcorn flick. Which is okay, but lets not pretend there are deep layers here, as some critics have.
though the excellent lead performances, the well done FX, the nasty as hell torture
moments, the grissly and macabre ideas and the brain pummelling, screeching insanity
of it all, manage to overcome these few faults to give us a very satisfying and
well made entry into the rather bloated '70's Grindhouse throwback only even nastier'
LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN
Being a big fan of Paul McGuigan's sadly ignored Brit flick "Gangster #1" (for which Paul Bettany should have had an Oscar nomination!!) I was looking forward to checking this fine thesp filled flick.
And sure enough he delivers again.
Stylish, hip, cool, nasty and with a sly wink in it's eye, that disarms the viewer into thinking this is basically a humourous tale, "Slevin" delivers on all fronts.
A fine cast is in good form (Willis is just a great screen presence...end of), with Josh Hartnett doing a particularly fine job, and McGuigan knows how to make a movie. Nasty violence, black humour, a touch of romance, hard boiled drama, much tension and expectation and lots of general entertainment.
only trouble is (which is why i was glad I rented it not bought it) because it's
basically a film about one long con, with lots of twisty turns (some you can figure,
some will catch you on the hop) it's repeat viewing stance is negligible.
Once you know everything...much of the film loses it's edge and point.
Whereas in say the wonderful "Lock Stock" the twists were ultimately not as important as the characters, dialogue and style (like "Gangster #1" in fact, only that's more serious than "Lock Stock" by a LONG way), with "Slevin" the main point and strength of the film IS the plot and thus the twists.
So a GREAT one watch for certain with many fine moments...but more of a rental than a purchase purely because it's twist delivering existence ultimately makes it extinct once it's been viewed in my view.
Lamberto Bava helms this, at first, rather effective and unsettling horror/psychological thriller which then sadly dips into coma inducing stodginess for much of the running time until the final 15 minutes.
A nice nutty/tit flashing turn by Bernice
Stegers (MILF before the term was invented) and a horrible little bitch turn by
Veronica Zinny as her psycho young Daughter help lift the film, as does the occasional
nudity and general sleaze.
But nothing actually happens until the end, where we get a wonderfully disgusting (if brief) bit of necrophilia and an even briefer bit of gore.
But the stupid ass final scene ruins it all as the film suddenly switches sub-genres.
This kind of absurdity worked for "Pieces" as that film just dripped absurd cheesy craziness from the start...but "Macabre" (for all it's slowness) was until then a very serious and staid piece of work. Thus the ending fails.
Groovy first sequel to "Dirty Harry" has a top cast of fledgling stars (David Soul, Tim Matheson, Robert Urich) and veterans (Hal Holbrook) giving solid support to Eastwood's (still cool as a polar bear being fucked by a snowman with an icicle for a dick) portrayal of Harry.
sequel benefits from a far more multi-layered (if slightly more cartoonish) screenplay,
with more than just the main 'vigilante cops' plot to entertain us and this main
plot is more varied in the action it gives us too.
In fact we have more gratuitous nudity, general sleaze, violence and action here all round.
The plot fails
to really explain how Harry is actually going to explain it all though, or prove
anything. Which does hurt the film in a rather distracting way. Especially as
the main bad guy eludes to the fact that Harry has no proof.
It's perhaps a bit too long as well, adding about 15 minutes to the originals length and pushing it just over 2 hours.
But that aside, this is still great 70's cop action with some nice violence and sleaze, some top support performances and Eastwood doing his thang to perfection
Yet another 70's gem.
A top notch cast on top form (Dustin Hoffman, Sir Larry Olivier, Roy Schieder amongst others), some aggressive violence, a intriguing plot, wonderfully ominous music score and some classic set-pieces.
where Olivier's Nazi goes to the jewellry area of New York to try and find how
much his diamonds are worth is an absolutely wonderful slice of 70's cinema greatness.
The scenes of the old Nazi sadist finding himself surrounded by devout Jews as he walks down the street are superbly crafted as the once powerful Nazi is overcome with anxiety, paranoia, disgust and even a touch of fear. And when a couple of concentration camp ghosts scream out of the unknowing crowd to haunt him...this excellent set-up becomes a genius set-up.
Hoffman's performance in the final scenes is powerhouse stuff.
Well made, nice set pieces, but a definate lack of energy between skirmishes.
Lucky McKee's superlative character study only moves into full-blown horror movie territory during the last 15 minutes or so, but don't let that put you off as their remains a palpable atmosphere of lurking horror throughout the running time, even when the film is being genuinely sweet and amusing.
The at once cute and just plain weird Angela Bettis give a tour-de-force performance as the lethally damaged, only wants true love and friendship, May, helping to create (along with an astute screenplay) a fascinating, likeable, quirky, sympathetic and yet utterly deranged woman doomed from a very early age to end up the way she does, despite all the false dawns that invade her confused life.
Some mild violence and bloodshed
mixes with some pointed dialogue and observation, black humour, romance, tragedy
and moments that are truly macabre (plus a genuinely erotic lesbian seduction
sequence no less, with Anna Farris) to create a very 'Indy' feeling, but very
satisfying, horror film that sports uniformly wonderful performances...even if
it is ultimately Bettis' movie.
The late and oh so great Richard Burton could read a phone book and it would be heaven, here though he has some great apocalyptic dialogue and some fine acidic, barbed insults.
Some excellent set-pieces and a fantastic cast.
A fun look and 6 iconic 'Midnight' movies and their effect.
I have seen "El Topo" it was years ago now on the TV,
this film certainly makes you want to re-watch this 'Midnight' movie well-spring.
I adore the truly marvellous "Pink Flamingos" and this gave a good look at the film. Waters is of course great to listen to.
Never could get into (or indeed 'get') "Eraserhead", but agin this want to make you check it out again and it was nice to hear Lynch talk about it.
"Night of the Living Dead" speaks for itself, classic stuff but somehow seemed not so much a specific 'Midnight' movie. But Romero is in top interview form.
"The Harder they Come" is a mystery to me as I have never seen it. Again, though the documentary made me want to, so it did a good job.
Never liked "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", it seemed to be safe camp rubbish.
Socially acceptable bi/homosexuality and sexual escapades your Mother would like.
Not even in the same universe as "Pink Flamingos" which is a far more honest jaunt into the realms of off-the-wall sexuality in front and behind the camera.
It was simpy a failed mainstream film that was so dull the audiences gave it a new life and made it something else.
Again, a true 'Midnight' movie in one sense, but not really at the same time.
Nothing really surprising here and the
6 film specific set-up may wear if you do not like/care about a certain film.
But overall worth a watch for cult movie fans.
Yeah there was none of the Crockett and Tubbs friendship from the show, there was none of the occasional humour, we all missed the original cast to some extent, the rst of the squad had little to do (and were often never called by name) and the first 50 minutes was rather a lot of not much really....
it picked up, it looked great, it had solid enough performances (I sure missed
old Edward James Olmos though!), Gong Li was as yummy as hell, the action was
delightfully brutal and as always with Michael Mann's own films exceptionally
The wandering plot (which was simple really, but made complex by the chaotic structure and muffled dialogue) settled down to make a satisfying whole in the end and all in all...although it was not what almost everyone was expecting...it was a good, dark, solid and violent action thriller made with all of Mann's technical skills.
First off, avoid the Blu Ray of this. The cheap video picture looks pretty dire in high def, with hardly a straight line in sight especially in the long shots. All pixel edges.
Anyway. I enjoyed this SOV romp and thought the practical FX were
Sadly they needlessly inserted some of the worst CGI shots in the history of cinema into a couple of scenes and they really grated.
it had hot Japanese babes, gallons and gallons of blood, OTT practical gore deaths,
lots of gross-out bad taste (stabbed mother puking up over the severed head of
her son anyone?!) and an interesting comic-strip plot.
But the cheapy nature of the enterprise, some dubious acting and some awful CGI lower the overall enjoyment and it's a bit too long.
Worth a look though for sure.
One of the last big budget, all star war epics and one of the best. As this was late into the 70's the bloodshed was stronger than usual for such films (as was some of the language), but this gives the film an effective punch.
As they tell you at the opening that real footage is used where possible the jumps from fictional footage to real footage is overcome as they have already warned you.
This real footage also adds a real depth to the picture as it's used very well and importantly does not feel like it was a cheap get-out to save money...If you are going to use stock footage this is the way to do it.
the length (just over 2 hours) the film rarely drags and there is lots of fascinating
stuff here to watch.
It's also very faithful with only the Charlton Heston character elements being full-on fiction.
Thankfully the pointless, overly soap opera, sluggish sub-plot (probably done only for TV, given the 'deleted scenes' full frame look) with his Wife was removed.
A top cast are well used and underused depending who they are (Mitchum has two very enjoyable scenes despite being stuck in a hospital bed, Fonda is great, Coburn is rather wasted though as is Mifune, who is also sadly dubbed) but they get the job done.
Some great action (real
and not), a well told tale well made and the flaws are few.
It all gets a bit Hollywood at the end with Chuck Heston's role and Hal Holbrook's 'yee haw' accent and good ol' boy attitude is overused, and it would have been nice to have the Japanese speaking Japanese, as some sound very American indeed (obviously Japanese American actors).
Otherwise this is excellent stuff and a fine example of the dying all-star Hollywood epic.
Shame you lose that 'Sensurround' experience though!
MINISTRY OF FEAR
Fritz Lang's Nazi spy ring thriller starring Ray Milland is something Lang himself never liked due to his disapproval at the screenplay adaptation of Graham Greene's novel (which he liked).
It's certainly a bit all over the place in tone, going from dark
and serious thriller/drama to frothy comedy thriller at the flip of a scene.
But it often looks impressive (of course, it's Lang) and has bags of atmosphere and some nice plotting.
The final scene gives us a rather abrupt, overly comic, ending to the film but overall this is pretty good stuff that benefits from Fritz Lang's artistic eye.
Nothing can compare to how I first saw this film many years ago.
It was an unknown entry into a UK, all night, Horror film festival and none of us knew what the hell we had been given during the light comedy romantic opening as we meet Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham Then a phone call happens...and suddenly Anthony Edwards' character, and the audience, are propelled on a very different course as we, like Edwards, have to deal with the knowledge that perhaps, just perhaps, World War III has broken out and the missiles will soon be flying.
From here on we are expertly moved from romantic comedy, to black comedy, to deadly serious drama and epic tragedy as what Edwards' character may know sets off a chain of events that engulfs many, well played, support characters as he tries to get back to his new love Winnigham and escape the coming apocalypse that may or not be coming.
harsh language, romantic voiceover, love story, violence, light comedy and action
"Miracle Mile" is amazing enough for the fact it got greenlit at all,
let alone completed and released (no matter how small that release sadly was)
and this mix, plus the about turn the film does from its opening 10 minutes, took
the hardcore horror crowd I watched it with by surprise and I will never forget
the sight of two leather clad biker types in the row in front of me wiping away
the tears at the end of the film!
Where normally there were hoots of appreciation, or howls of derision, from any hardcore crowd of horror fans at the end of a film..here there was only a bizarre silence, broken only by hushed whispers of surprise and praise.
As such, the film benefitted from that introduction in a way that
I felt was missing on this DVD viewing and the film does lose something away from
such a memorable projection setting.
But it does remain effective and is quite unlike any other film on the way it handles its subject. Shamefully obscure and unloved...this is certainly a must see film for anyone at least once and will remain fondly in my heart because of that wonderful first exposure i had to it so many years ago.
Dolph Lundgren joins the 'mini-comeback for old action guys craze' with a wider publicised and distributed DTV flick than normal.
He directs and co-writes this 'modern day western' take on "Pale Rider"/"Shane"/"High Plains Drifter" and "High Noon".
Dolph is a Bible toting, face punching, shotgun blasting stranger who breezes into a Native American reservation town to tell the children how good The Bible is and to ram sharp objects into eyeballs.
It's overly slow to get to the meat of the matter (but never really dull) and as such the final showdown with the late arriving top bag guys is rather rushed (10 minutes taken from the first 2/3 and put into the last third would have done wonders) but the various punch-ups with the dopey henchman are fun enough (and amusingly revel in the old cliches, we'd actually miss if they were not there) and the deadly serious finale showdown is nicely violent with a delightfully brutal, utterly cold-blooded, crowd pleasing pay-off.
main problem here is that Dolph seems to have decided he wanted to do a Black
and White film but compromised by de-saturating the colour SO MUCH that the entire
film (even with the LCD TV colour up to 'max' and the DVD player chroma level
up full) is almost sepia tone!
Muddy browns,purples pinks and greens are the order of the day with some darker scenes (or scene only back-lit) being almost gray and with little shadow detail.
Light surfaces also come alive with frantically dancing digital static.
The presentation adds an otherworldly grit to the film, but it's so extreme for so long that it does become rather wearing and any average-strength colour that does manage to make an appearance becomes like an ice cold glass of water to the parched viewer as they stagger through this digitally washed out desert.
The Holy angle of the character is only slightly played with, and is never really explained, but there are moments when it becomes cloying (not least of which is when, in a short and utterly superflorous scene, Dolph sits down some young Indian kids and tells them how the Bible is a guide to leading a good life...Yuk!) and the fact it's involving Native Americans smacks rather too much of real missionary work on behalf of Dolph.
It does provide moments
of intentional and (surely) unintentional humour though.
Dolph preaching the error of their ways to bad guys just before pounding their heads in is fun and you have to laugh at this 'Bible is your guide through life' attitude when Dolph's character commits various acts of violence even when not directly threatened himself, goes murderously brutal during the finale and shags a busty Indian woman with not a marriage vow in sight!
Did I miss all this stuff being deemed as Godly?
The slight pacing, weird presentation and occasional crass preaching moment aside though "Missionary Man" is actually a lot of fun that constantly entertains with something going on, plays the action/western cliches well, and has a real kick in the balls and satisfying finale.
Lyrical, poetic, off the wall and often brutal 70's Western held together by the great cast and especially the two lead performances by Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando (who is an unrestrained joy as an eccentric sadist). Needs a much better DVD release though.
MONSTER - aka
"Humanoids from the Deep"
Roger Corman produce monster romp that underwent pretty extensive re-shoots after the female director failed to deliver the visual aspects of its 'mutant humanoid sea creatures eat guys and rape girls' plot as she failed to showcase much of the rape. Or the attacks. Or much else it seems.
Thank God for the Exploitation mind-set then, as without the wonderfully lurid sequences of mutilated man flesh and stripped naked female flesh "Monster" would, despite the superb creatures and strong B movie cast, test the audience's patience.
As it is the almost separate 'Vic Morrow vs the Indians' subplot
takes up too much precious screen-time that would be better served on what the
film is meant to be about. The...er...monsters!
Thankfully good old cheese master Doug McClure is on hand to counter Vic Morrow's overly serious character and subplot as he battles those horny beasts and sticks out his manly jaw.
said beasts are the early work of master Rob Bottin and despite being shown a
lot, often in daylight, they still hold up wonderfully today. Even if the extended
arms look a bit hokey.
Matching these groovy beasts are some fun gore FX by Roger George and Chris Walas. A slashed open face, a neck ripping decapitation, some moist monster head smashing and the infamous finale are the highlights here and it's nice to see an honest to goodness monster invasion set-piece at the end that showcases much said gore as well as various bouncing breasts.
out craziness highlight? The scene in a tent where a girl strips off as she talks
to her boyfriend's ventriloquist dummy! As she bares all this guy still has time
to throw his voice and male the dummy say things about "getting wood"
which gives us the girl's immortal reply (so deliciously badly delivered) "Will
I get splinters"?
It's just insane, but serves up some gore, full frontal nudity and slimy ass monster molestation.
So we give praise to the
sleaze Gods even though even they can't help the stodgy, pointless, Vic Morrow
Thankfully though there is still enough grime, slime and well crafted monster madness to ensure a fine time is had by all.
IN THE CLOSET
"Monster in Closet" gets off to a great pre-credits start and has a wonderful shower gag actually works (with titties, but in a film of zero gore are they meant to be there or is it the full screen ratio on DVD?) so all seems well.
Then, when the film should kick ass (said
Monster leaves said closet) it falls to sleep and gets very tedious indeed.
The plotting gets really off-the-wall and OTT too. But not in a good way.
So an initially solid 80's 'Troma' romp sadly goes all wrong as it goes on.
The 'out of the closet' gag is fun though.
It's a shame the slow start (after the initial kills) and typically stupid 'Troma' humour held this film back, as when it was in your face, disturbing and deadly serious it was a very good example of this type of film.
And coming at the very start of the 80's meant it owed more to the great days of 70's Grindhouse cinema than any 80's Slasher trend.
of the humour was okay and suitably black, but all too often it was just silly
ads took away the power from the film. "TCM" did the (mild) black
humour moments much better.
It was also padded out with too many fights/arguements.
But like I said, when it played it straight it truly delivered.
The scene with the main two women's friend in the woods was played totally straight and was genuinely powerful and emotive and very well acted.
As was the final death scene in the basement, before the ending, which gave us a very effective scene of mania and pent up madness.
The twist was perhaps a move too far though
and shot in a way that made it look more comical than anything else.
Top 'wince' award to the twine/sleeping bag/hand scene as well...DAMN! That must have stung!
Flawed by too much silly humour and too much padding (you could lose a good 7 minutes here) but still an effective Exploitation shocker, when it plays it straight, that delivers the nasty content, as well as a few powerful moments, with a welcome if fading 70's aesthetic.
Pseudo-remake of the infamous 80's Exploitation flick distributed by Troma.
This is very well acted (nice to see De Mornay again), generally well scripted (though it features cinema's most utterly useless Cop EVER), intense and bleak 'Home Invasion' flick, whereas the original was a 'Backwoods Psycho' story.
This means it tends to utilise more torture rather than Slasher tropes until the finale, but (one brief scene aside) steers clear of the sleazy Sexploitation aspects of the original.
It's violent, sometimes bloody, briefly (but very
effectively) gory and pretty much delivers all you could hope for.
And don't let the supposedly open ended/set up for a sequel, ending put you off (as it did me for so long after people said such rubbish) as in fact this ends just fine, is tied up and not isn't explicitly open for a sequel in any way.
Not really anything to do with the original at all (psycho Mother/kids aside) so this is one remake you can let yourself enjoy and it's far more serious as well (though the finale of the original went very dark and serious after the black humour goings on before hand) so plays as a rather different movie anyway.
Well worth a look.
MUMMY (THE) - 1932
Iconic make-up, top notch performance by Boris Karloff, some nice set design and cinematography...and quite frankly not much else.
Out of all the 'Classic Universal Monster Movies'
"The Mummy" has not only dated the most, it's also the least entertaining
and theatrically stodgy.
The Mummy himself famously only appears looking like an actual Mummy (Im-ho-tep) during the opening, most effective part of the film as far as any horror aesthetic goes, scenes where he comes alive, steals a scroll and sends the only witness into lala land upon the soundwaves of much superbly over the top mad laughter.
From here though the film falls into a slumber
deeper than that of it's bandaged icon. Only Karloff (now playing a talking and
un-bandaged Mummy, but given a lovely 'wrinkled' make-up by the great Jack Pierce)
and a surprisingly less hammy than usual Edward van Sloan give us anything interesting
to focus on as a ridiculously fast, soppy as hell, romance and much talk now dominate
No more Mummy action is forthcoming and the 'love across the ages' plot involving Karloff's Im-ho-tep and (the very theatrical but fun) Zita Johann as his reincarnated Princess is less than thrilling.
It lacks any real horror, has little action, soppy support characters and is quite simply not much fun.
Wonderful 2 disc DVD though with lots of good extras, including excellent "Universal Horror" documentary.
MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE
This early 'Universal' horror takes about five sentences from Edgar Allan Poe's very brief, small scale and rather drab short story about a killer ape clowning around Paris and adds a whole lot of it's own , appallingly scripted, nonsense to flesh it out to a paltry 58 minutes and tops it off with good ol' Bela Lugosi looking insane.
I hear you screech in 'Universal' horror love anguish? Well yes. Sorry.
Far too much time is spent on creaky old pseudo-Parisian romance and frolics in the park (including many pretty bonnets, gay hats, tree swings and jolly ol' picnics) and there is some forced humour that grinds the thing down too.
the comic relief is quite fun (a tubby guy and a morgue assistant have some good
banter) but much of it is forced into the film for no reason.
Worst offender (and a damn awful bit of plotting to boot) is when, after the ape snatches a girl from a locked room, the Police investigate the case by interviewing 'comedy' witnesses.
A comedy German guy who says he heard the 'attacker' talking Italian, a comedy Italian saying it was Danish, a comedy Dane saying it was German.
All for no narrative reason and even less laughs.
Then we have the nonsense that despite the
fact the hero was outside the locked door, with other people, as the screaming
was coming from the locked room and despite the fact he broke in at the same time
as everyone else to find the room empty....He gets arrested on suspicion of being
that attacker! ER?
So we waste a good ten minutes on this nonsensical, unfunny, rubbish before the film starts up again for a fantastically rushed ending.
boy! What about the Ape I hear you cry. Well it's the same old guy in joke shop
mask and raggedy rug that we always have in these old 'Ape' films.
But that's not the problem. Amazingly!
The problem is that this ape, despite being seen often in the suit, is shown in close-up via footage of a big Chimp!
So we have this long mouthed midget in a gorilla suit one second and then a, completely ill-matching, fat headed real life chimp the next that in no way looks anything like the suited version. Even by 1930's visual FX and creature aesthetics this is dreadful!
though all is not lost!
First we have a great hammy turn by Bela, made even more fun by the fact his make-up makes him look like the evil twin of Harpo Marx with a bushy mono-brow!
Plus we also have some fun sets and creative lighting (the obviously fake but great village houses and rooftops and the German Expressionist shadows all add a touch of class) and a couple of pretty strong and macabre scenes that obviously took full advantage of that glorious pre-Hay's code enforcement.
One is a gruesome shot of a body dangling down from a fireplace and the other is a great scene where Bela has an under-slip wearing woman victim lashed spread eagled to a giant wooden 'X' as he injects her squirming body with ape blood!
Will Hays? Bela says 'fuck you'.
But these odd moments and aspects fail to save the film sadly, as the dire scripting, frustratingly pointless padding, bad comedy schtick and those stupid ass Cheetah close-ups all conspire to flick ape shit into our disappointed eyes...and make us cry.
I liked it.
It was nasty, gratuitous, violent, and extreme.
It was also exceptionally well made, with a generally good (if rather hammy at times) lead performance. but there's nothing deep and meaningful here in the killers' make-up.
The FX were okay, but were mostly blood. What was there was well done though and shot so as to add to the realism.
Nice soundtrack, nice cameos by Tony Todd and especially Gunnar Hansen, who is normally given crap to do.
But...it was not some wondrous look into the mind of a killer as some people (normally with an agenda) have said.
But then again perhaps there is not much TO look into. He kills, he likes it. End of.
But even if that's the case it obviously negates any deep delving into his psyche because there is nothing there to delve for.
Also, I was
not emotionally pained by the murder scenes. They left no lasting impression at
all and I never felt the tragedy of it all.
YES it was gory, bloody, chaotic and violent. YES it was extreme, but NO, it did not disturb me as it should have.
Let us take a couple of films to show what I mean.
"In a Glass Cage" is not remotely gory or very bloody and certainly not chaotic and screamingly in your face.
But, it does hit you in a way this did not. Even with a young girl knifed in the stomach...there was nothing in "MSP" to compare to the feeling I got during the child murder scenes in "In a Glass Cage".
The scenes of child murder in "Cage" broke my heart.
And that is a powerful thing indeed...and no blood was spilt.
The dinner scene in the original "TCM" was far more brutal, oppressive and bludgeoning than any of the deaths in "MSP". And again blood was rare in "TCM".
Just that one close-up on the sweaty, agonised, mad face of Sally, as Hooper's camera almost sees into her terrified soul, accomplished far more than anything seen in "MSP".
The one scene that did hit hard was the baby scene.
But that was little to do with actual artistic skill (true, it took guts to do it though) and all to do with the fact this was a real, crying child being covered in blood and held up like a curio in a museum (nice directorial touch here I admit, and nice acting) before staggering down the hall, blood soaked, to lie its sobbing head on the dead chest of its Mother.
As a Father of a young daughter, that genuinely hit hard. But was it great cinema mastery...or a callous geek show that anyone could have filmed?
Overall then, "Murder Set-Pieces" is a solid, extremely
well made, pretty well acted, nasty and extreme movie that does indeed need to
be supported and it's nice to see such an extreme film get the kind of release
(as much as it can today) that used to be the norm for such 70's classics.
But it's not the disturbing, gut wrenching experience it should have been.
Certainly check it out though.
Average latter day Bronson fare, let down by a script that tries to juggle too many sub-plots resulting in not enough attention paid to any of them.
Love some of the cheesy lines though ("Well here's Jack Murphy's Law...Don't fuck with Jack Murphy" and the GREAT "Ladies' first" finale quip) and Katherine Wilhotte's endless insults are entertaining with "Butt crust" being one of the highlights!
Gritty, well acted and with some clever twists. This is brutal, gritty film making backed up by superlative performances.
Excellent Korean sci-fi film about a post-apocalyptic world where cyborgs are manufactured to help humans but only designed with a 3 year 'lifespan'.
Some cyborgs have got understandably annoyed at this and have set up a rebel force that the Military Police have to defend against.
visuals are excellent and it has some fine special FX. We have some good acting
and a lot of very lovely (and also very good) actresses on show as well.
It also delivers some highly bloody ultra-violence and well staged action scenes.
But this is mainly a highly complex, in motivation and morals, love story between a human Military Policeman and a cyborg exotic dancer on the verge of 'death' because her life-span is up.
Given such a tragic romance main plot the film
is of course highly manipulative of our emtions, but it damn well works!
The excellent, brutal, heartstring tugging climax is perfect and overall this comes highly recommended.
Gory as hell (and all old school practical FX too) serial killer/torture film with the killer being a young woman who pops around people's houses, tortures and kills them, then pops back out again wearing an innocent smile.
And in a way it is. It's mostly well made, the FX are great (but more later) and it has a fast pace and delivers the grue.
But the acting lets it down big time.
Not that the acting itself is bad, but the selling of the pain and torture is.
The main character gets mutilated to hell and yet somehow he never sells the pain and horror while it's happening and worse, after the event, he seems to forget that he's suffered agnonising, debilitating wounds.
Also a problem is the
great FX. Because they are not great enough for the extreme close-up, long time
hold, on them.
This is a gory, gory, film. But it loves the gore so much, we lose the violence of the act.
Like an 80's gore film from Italy (and it truly does act like one as far as showing it all in close-up) the death/wounding scenes are gore-tastic but never really violent or disturbing. They should be grotesque and hard to watch...but they're held so long they become more like fun FX set-pieces.
This needed the excellent FX work to be edited quicker, with better 'pain' acting and mutilation aftermath, because without that it becomes lightweight.
problem is the weird turn half way through. Basically the film ends. But obviously
So we have a good 15 minutes of head scratching confusion as events get very strange indeed.
It's all for a later reveal, but it;s the kind of thing most films spend 2 minutes one...not the middle 3rd of the movie!
The final reveal after this is also played so low key you are still waiting to be taken out of the scene, even now it turns out the trickery is long over. Thus we are taken away from the unfolding events we are NOW meant to be dramatically following.
So a mix up of mess ups ultimately hurt the film despite some good work in other places and some sadistically creative torture and old school FX.
NEW KIDS (THE)
Badly dated musically in a big way, but overall this slice of rough 80's 'bad teens' movie making is good stuff.
Only a year after his wonderfully likable turn as the High School hero in the excellent "Tuff Turf", James Spader does a superb about-turn and morphs into one of the most vile and nasty High School villains around!
And with his gang of vicious hick thugs he also makes for a formidable opponent for the Tom Atkins (a nice cameo) trained hero Brother and Sister.
Some violent action (including a great, and very chunky, bit of head destruction) and surprisingly harsh language and sexual threat ensures it also delivers the essential nastiness.
Some good bits, but a real mess, lacks action (surprisingly) and needed far more back info on the world and the lore that we were never given, as such it was all a rather head scratching exercise.
Okay for one watch...you'd not slog back through them though.
NIGHT OF THE
This remake of the iconic 80's film of the same name was a nice surprise.
As far as I can remember I never liked the original much (I'll have to re-watch it now) so I had no in-built hate for this remake existing (like I do for the likes of "TCM", "Hills", "Dawn O T D") as such I could go with it.
The party was
a bit too long a build-up perhaps and most of the cast look too old for their
roles but at least these are generally likeable characters. And the chicks were
Two big positives.
Much has been made of Edward Furlong's appearance (and he's certainly been eating a good few 'Supersize' Big Mac meals, but he in no way looks drugged out to me) but otherwise he's fine in the role and is far more likeable here than he was in "Terminator 2".
was a nice use of Type O Negative's "Black no.1" (RIP Pete),
the other music was pretty good too, there was some nice and messy demon sex,
some nice practical gore (hooray!)
It tends to cut away from the gore pretty quick though, not slowly relishing it like 70's/80's films did.
There's also some great Demon make-up (the skull-faced one being the most effective) and CGI is kept to a bare minimum and even then is pretty good (hooray again!)
The 'lipstick scene' is reprised here and is not as good FX wise in what is shown as the original sadly, but the new finale to the scene for this version is a gross-out doozy.
It suffers, like the original, from a rather dull and repetitive
set-up of people running from one room to another following/in-between Demon attacks
and that drags the film down.
And the scene with Maddie knowing everything seemed to come out of the blue.
So the script isn't great here and the set-up is very limiting.
Otherwise though I liked it a lot and it did what it set
out to do...simply to entertain. And it did, with no lame 'twist' final shot or
The, for the time rather groundbreaking for British cinema, story of a Homosexual school teacher in 70's London and his nightly trips to Gay bars and clubs.
I have to admit to winding through some of "Nighthawks"
due to the fact its pointlessly long and consists mostly of astonishingly lengthy
and dull shots of bad 70's dancing (to the same 3 music tracks) with cut-aways
to equally lengthy shots of the main character looking around the club in rather
And repeat. With the odd moment of very polite conversation over lunch or in the kitchen stuck in-between.
the title and the subject matter this is also a rather shamefully sexless odyssey
Although pretty strict sexual censorship by the BBFC was still in place in 1978, things had also become far more liberal at the same time and the film would have had no problem showing scenes of full-frontal male nudity or even light sexual activity, but "Nighthawks" contains neither.
main guy goes to various (awful) Gay discos and picks up various men but all this
leads to is a hand on a knee and a short kiss. Literally.
We simply have to assume sex took place because the next scene jump shows them lying in bed or finishing getting dressed.
Given the rampant Hetrosexual nudity (not just female)
and bonking that was taking place on a regular basis in various horror films and
sex comedies of the time it seems a lost chance indeed for such (and it was and
is) historically important movie to avoid the very thing it is about, worse when
it does it at a time when straight sex was starting to dominate adult cinema.
But this seeming refusal by the director to make the Homosexual "Nighthawks" no different from a Hetrosexual adult movie of the time, as far as sexual content goes, seems like defeatism.
This stance also makes the lifestyle look stunningly
tedious as well.
You spend the night trolling various low rent clubs, all playing the same monotonous music, simply to get yourself a chaste kiss and a hand on the stone-washed 'Levis'.
Hardly seems worth it.
The life of a cinematic Hetrosexual 70's male seems far more gratifying.
There are some worthy things
here and some good scenes, like a very well executed, almost documentary-like,
sequence when the kids in his class bring up the rumours of the teacher's Homosexuality.
This is very effective in its chaotic cacophony of inane questions, crass insults, loud laughter and name-calling abuse all mingling with the odd shouted call for respect and acceptance from some of the children.
But even this interesting development then goes nowhere really as the film ends very soon after with little shown to be gained from this sequence.
The film just ends as it begins...on a random scene of chaste nightlife tedium.
Soild Korean horror flick.
A rather confused and confusing plot but some wonderfully creepy gothic/ghost girl visuals and a great and superbly used DTS soundtrack.
IN RED, WHITE & BLUE
Fuck writer/director Andrew Monument!
Never has a documentary on cinema made me so angry and depressed.
I was hoping
"Nightmares in Red White & Blue". was not going to get too pretentious.
Afrterall John 'Psychoanalyst' Carpenter is in it.
Of course there are socio/political
influences in and around horror films and which gave birth to many of them, but
going by "Nightmares in Red, White and Blue" that's all there is about
Brian Yuzna was the only person here (about "Re-Animator") who said he wasn't making a statement just a fun horror film.
alien invasion films were all about killing off those that looked different?
Plus it seems they can't make (genuinely valid and I 100% agree) deep observations about "Last House on the Left" WITHOUT slagging off "Death Wish" for not being critical or liberal enough.
Q: Want to know what "The Amityville Horror"
was REALLY about?
A: That the American Dream of home ownership was fraught with demons!!
Canadians can also feel free to feel insulted
if they see this.
As it has no less than 3 Cronenberg, 100% Canadian productions, shown in this history of American horror.
So far you may think I'm being
hard on "Nightmares in Red, White & Blue", but it did use "Evil
Dead 1 & 2" as negative metaphors for general 80's excess in American
Well? You with me now?
And I wondered where criticism
would be aimed in this documentary when 9/11 was reached.
Was it critical of fanatical followers of a medieval supernatural belief that openly embraces death more than life?
Just critical of silly American's and their paranoid fears.
And as it moves into the 2000's it gets no better.
Or less factually dubious.
"Hostel" is presented as xenophobic American fear of murdering foreigners.
Interviewees state how it says Americans will be safer staying at home!
Strange,what were all those American backroads/backwoods horror films about then?
Xenophobic fears of Americans about Americans and how its safer to stay in America?
A fucking chimp could do better reasoning than this!
what is this film about?
What actually does it stand for?
As it's done nothing but laugh and sneer at silly Americans and their boogieman fears of Communists and post-9/11 terrorism.
But then it has Larry Cohen says he fears his kids will live to see an American city nuked!
Silly Boogieman fears was that?
the biggest poncy, sneering, Americaphobia idiot in a film full of them? (even
Directors I like, which depresses me).
Well it's 'film historian' John Kenneth Muir.
I'm so fucking annoyed at this no fun allowed, up
its own arse, shit-hole of a supposed Horror movie documentary, I'm going to dump
the turd in the bin!
Mr Andrew Monument take note and go back to the day job.
And all the film makers involved with this? Hang heads in shame.
- aka "Nattevagten"
Much lauded Danish horror/thriller that got a rather less lauded U.S. re-make.
Less lauded I expect because once the automatic 'prestige' of subtitles was removed the script was honestly revealed for the tedious drudge it always was.
20% horror film, 80% soapy relationship
drama the odd grisly moment, and oft-used psycho killer schtick, can't save this
from being a chore to sit through.
Best bit? Seeing a young (though he has aged well) Nikolaj Coster-Waldau ("Game of Thrones") as the lead.
What does low-fi schlock effort "Nikos the Impaler" give us?
Well if offers up a fat Hitler,TONS of very cheesy but fun gore, bad sound/visual editing, nicely gratuitous shower scene, AWFUL acting, Ninjas, rubbish CGI explosion, a fat guy (the director) in school play looking armour, Lloyd Kaufman getting sliced, METAL (!!) music of the cheesiest kind and a weird ending.
It's bad, let's not fool ourselves. But it's done with heart
and the gore deaths just keep on coming.
A stunning new blu ray transfer brings this icon to new life (it is darker than SD DVD releases with some very deep blacks and more shadowed details, but supposedly this is how it should look due to it not being overly brightened for SD clarity) with pin sharp details and even some impressive depth of field in wider shots containing numerous actors, like in the auction house sequence.
Cary Grant is of course brilliant as the confused and harassed
Ad-Executive mistaken for a U.S. spy, by a Commie spy played to suave perfection
by the mighty James Mason, and just drips old school Hollywood glamour, sex-appeal
and true movie star charisma.
Eva Marie Saint is the typical Hitchcock blonde and looks great and handles the scenes of sophisticated sexuality with Grant perfectly.
of the dialogue is amazing during these aforementioned scenes between her and
Grant, but some is now just too cornball cheesy for sure, but overall their back
and forth playful flirting on the train (that does indeed drip with sly, sophisticated,
sexual explicitness without it ever being remotely explicit) adds some classic
Hollywood romantic charm to the suspense and comedy.
And said comedic highlights have to be the brilliant scenes of a drunken Grant phoning his Mother at the courthouse, their brief investigation partnership and the excellent auction house/picked up by the cops scenes.
But there are so many other moments to savour here. The initial meeting between Grant and Mason (with a cat like Martin Landau purring away in the background) is magnificent, as is a later scene of Mason and Landau and a certain gun and the ever welcome Leo G. Carrol plays benevolent, but utterly ruthless, charm like no other and his airport scene with Grant is another one-on-one acting highlight.
Suspense highlights are everywhere of course and all the famous moments hold up and even though most of them embrace utterly illogical set-ups and reasoning they all work on a comic strip, boys own, adventure level (the famous crop dusting plane/chase sequence is a perfect example of this mixture of tight suspense crafting within a preposterous initial set-up) and when combined with the great old school acting chops and charisma of the main cast and the enjoyable comedic touches some of the more drippy, corny, romantic moments can be forgiven.
Classic for a reason, and the new blu ray means this is now a classic that has had all of it's undying classic elements brought to 21st century visual life.
Although not as good a film overall as the silent classic, Herzog's film does perhaps feature an even more creepy and dangerous Dracula than even our Max.
Kinski's make-up is basically the same but wisely loses those rather bushy eyebrows, and when mixed with the really intense performance he gives (just check out the scene where he pours Harker a drink of wine but never, not even for a second, takes his feral, hungry, eyes off him) creates a Dracula who is perhaps the only really, truly, dangerous Dracula on screen.
such a creature fails to work as Stoker's 'Count' persona part of Dracula, who
has to interact with the everyday world to plot his plans, because he looks just
far too inhuman (Harker would have run a mile as soon as he saw this creature!).
But as a scary Vampyric creature?
Well quite frankly this version (in both original and re-make, but especially here) of Dracula is the scariest most unnerving Vampire seen in anything...Be it a Dracula film or any other Vampire movie.
Herzog does pad things out a bit too much and does tend to briefly pop his head up his own arse on the odd occasion...But the extended running time means he can do all the classic "Nosferatu" moments as well as adding in a few (pretty faithful, at least in spirit) Stoker moments into the mix.
music, great make-up, and highly effective Cinematography and framing (just check
out the superb scene where Lucy is sitting in front of her mirror and watches
the door open behind her to reveal only a creeping shadow that moves towards her
until the physical Dracula finally appears on the far right of the frame as she
turns away from the mirror to face him!) mean we have a really classy slice of
And I forgot just how truly gorgeous and radiant Isabelle Adjani is. A voluminous Gothic beauty.
You have to love the fact as well
that we have a version of Van Helsing here who refuses to believe in such silly
things as vampires!
The plague aspect of the story is played up far more here than in the original, and this means Herzog can create some classic Gothic vistas of death as dozens of coffins are carried through the town square at the exact same time by an army of pall bearers.
Silly as hell really (and it seems to avoid the plague simply become an undertaker, given the mass of them seen here!) but an effective visual for sure.
And this aspect of Dracula as a plague, or later to our modern eyes as a cancer, is something picked up on brilliantly by both the original and this re-make..and yet never seems to be picked up by any other adaptation.
Instead you get rubbish like we see in the Crapola version were this cancer becomes a romantic anti-hero! Dear me.....
The 'never saw
the real plot point of him anyway' Renfield is sadly essayed here as an annoying
little dwarfy person who hams it up to distraction...and just goes to show what
a truly outstanding, and I mean truly, truly outstanding, job Dwight Faye did
in the Lugosi film.
The ironic, black comedy ending sort of sits badly with the rest of the very serious film, but the final image is a good one and overall this was much better than I remembered it and Kinski's Dracula is a great Vampire for sure.
Check it out if you have not done so...But watch the German language version.
NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT
Rather a lame effort actually, but Chris Lee and Peter Cushing, and a nice scummy turn by Diana Dors, keep it at least watchable. As does a strong turn by Keith Barren who almost has joint lead status.
This was produced by Lee's own production company and it went belly up soon after.
Bloody stupid plot though!
So so romantic/drama/thriller that gets off to a slow start and suffers from a ridiculously melodramatic, rushed and forced central romance between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.
Things finally pick up when the 'spying on the naughty Nazis' plot
kicks in and we have a couple of pretty good suspense set-pieces.
We also have the introduction of some classic cinematic Nazis, including a sinister and suspicious old lady Nazi which is always good for entertainment.
Sadly it all goes a bit wrong (and rushed) at the end, which is annoyingly abrupt (like Hitch's "Saboteur") and does not really stand up to logical thought.
The under-appreciated Amy "Streets of Fire" Madigan (one of those forgotten Oscar winners) stars as the tough wife of a murdered Airforce Major, who was killed because he was investigating a series of mysterious helicopter crashes.
On the run for her life,with her little boy, she fights to discover the truth....
Dreadfully overlooked little
action thriller from (I assume) Canada.
Low budget it may be, but thanks to a stirling cast, fine acting, a tight pace and well staged action this conspiracy thriller has been a favourite of mine for many years.
While not overly violent it does have its moments, the strongest being the blood spattered shooting of the Husband (well played and who could easily have been a likeable lead hero) that ends on a genuinely disturbing note when his body drops onto the bed where his Son is hiding, meaning the child has to look right into the blood smeared face and staring eyes of his dead father.
Madigan is great here and does
a superb job essaying a tough, resilient woman, a grief stricken widow, a terrified
victim and a determined Mother throughout the movie.
The film makes her a strong nemesis for the bad guys (she despatches them with everything from guns to a blowtorch), while never (until the rather OTT finale) moving her away from what she ultimately is...A realisticlly scared, grieving, woman trying to protect her child.
of tense moments and action is spaced nicely into the opening hour, and one of
the best parts of the film has yet to even make an appearance...Michael Ironside!
The always welcome and wonderful Mr Ironside plays an ex-Army family friend, who now lives as a recluse in the mountains, who Madigan turns to for help when all seems lost, and he does a lovely job in a (sadly) too short role.
But he has a chance to shine as he takes out bad guys with his doberman dogs and deadly bow and arrows!
Should be better known and available.
Check it out for some solid, no nonsense, well acted, very 80's (bad 'military' synth score included) action funstuffs.
There are few things worse on God's green Earth than freeform Jazz.
But freeform Jazz in an achingly tedious, pretentious, plodding Euro Trash flick is indeed the very pit of hell.
A barmy plot about a man and a woman who, after a bizarre road accident, go to a strange castle and bump into evil versions of themselves all under the watchful eye of some man in a frock coat who waves a cane about.
Hysterically bad dialogue (spouted by enjoyably
bad dubbing artists) annoying electronic chirps and cheeps, Jazz practice soundtrack,
slow motion slow motion that moves so slow there is barely any motion at all and
seemingly endless scenes of running around corridors and gardens all compete to
try the viewers patience.
Laughable (but managing to become so bad they are good) highlight is the woman suffering a sudden plummet into blackness that ends with her crash landing onto a huge spider web, with her breast hanging out, before a spider (that looks like a horse dropping with twigs stuck in it) waddles up her body.
Take notice of that uncovered breast as well, as it will remain
on display for the rest of the film.
In a gloriously awful bit of gratuitous Sexploitation goodness the actress now flees from haunting terrors, lies down and cries and sits around trying to work out what's going on with her wayward breast hanging out.
The man with her is no Gentlemen either! No attempting to cover her up, not even a mention of the fact she's popped out. Nothing.
He's not stupid!
We do have some very welcome full nudity of course (I should
hope so with a title like this) and it's all very nice and hairy in that 70's
Euro way. Lovely.
But sadly these odd moments of wonderment are nearly always played out via slow motion scenes that suck the life out of any erotic hopes the visuals may give us.
And of course inbetween this occasional nudity we have
to put up with the worst kind of 'artistic' Euro stodge, non-sensical philosophical
plot explanations, camp overload, deadening direction and pacing and sequences
of such mind numbing tedium you slowly lose the will to live.
Want to see a man spend 5 minutes running in slow motion around a garden, trying to catch up with a top hat wearing figure who turns out to be himself, all backed by tweeting noises and that hateful freeform Jazz noodling?
Well you'll love this film then.
Everyone else should avoid it, or at worse simply wind through 70 minutes of arse water to get to the nude scenes. But quite frankly I wouldn't bother.
Who says the Devil has all the best tunes.
WITH BIG GUNS
Abused Nun tales vengeance on the unholy drug dealing alliance of Church and biker gang.
Vast improvement over their earlier (just awful and grasped nothing about the Grindhouse cinema it was tying to ape) "Run, Bitch! Run", this Nunsploitation/crime/action/vengeance flick suffers from padding, a distastefully leering attitude to rape and some dubious acting but pretty much delivers on all other fronts.
It looks good; polished yet
grimy, has some good violence and satisfying scumbag destruction, lots of nudity
and is thankfully a mostly serious film (fake camp humour is tired indeed) that
The main story ends in fine fashion, with wonderfully bad taste satisfaction guaranteed, but the last scene sets up a continuance of the storyline obviously meant to set up a (as yet not announced sadly) sequel.
needed editing and perhaps just a bit too obsessed with Nun rape but this is a
huge leap forward from the dire "Run Bitch Run", that delivers all the
satisfaction that film didn't, and is well worth a viewing.
Basically it's a lesser Rodriguez meets the Nunsploitation genre.
The disfigured by an African curse brother of Vincent Price plans more witchcraft to heal his ruined features when back in England.
But Price, who has a secret, objects and when the plan goes wrong and the brother is betrayed he sets out on a psychotic rampage of vengeance...
produced British horror flick has the bizarre idea that having Vincent Price and
Christopher Lee in the same film for the first time ever but then having them
only share one scene, for 10 seconds duration, is a good thing!
The rest of the support cast is good, but again strangely wasted as old pros like Rupert Davis ("Dracula has Risen from the Grave"), Hilary Dwyer ("Witchfinder General") and Sally Geeson ("Cry of the Banshee") have little to do to little consequence but at least the underrated Peter Arne ("The Black Torment") is given a good meaty role and runs with it, becoming the best thing in the film as far as acting goes.
But when you add the fact that even Price himself takes part in very
little plot-driving action ('Guest Star' Lee has a far more active and interesting
role) this strange attitude to such a cast makes for a very strange feeling production.
It's not helped either by the rather unfinished plot that explains as little as possible despite the dialogue heavy set-up.
The crimson hooded killer brother makes for a striking villain but his murders (with the odd flash of fine British boobage) are rather spoilt by the fact that the throat slitting scenes are blatantly just a stage knife with fake blood in the tip, that often 'bleeds' before touching flesh or when raised, that never, ever, leaves any kind of wound. Instead we just have a red smear that fails to convince as the cause of the theatrical throat grabbing and gurgling the victims go through.
It's all rather pedestrian
in fact and rather dull and, despite the pretty frequent red stuff being very
red indeed and the odd bared breast being welcome, this is a very dated and lifeless
movie for the most part and the rushed ending (with an unexplained twist aspect
as far as the curse goes) does not help to satisfy either.
And boy...they should have kept to the (well staged) idea used throughout the rest of the film of not seeing the brother's supposedly gut wrenching disfigurement on-screen for the finale as well, as the big reveal delivers not so much heartrending shrieks of horror as a rather disappointed "Blimey! Is that IT"?
Bleak, tough and unforgiving crime drama from Sidney Lumet.
Overly melodramatic at times and a good turn by Trevor Howard is far too short, but it is saved by the top acting on display (especially by Connery and Ian Bannen) and the (still today) harrowing content on display as Connery's character rips himself apart.
The montage of horror he has seen throughout his career as he drives home and the later aborted telling of it all to his Wife is the finest part of the film (followed by the finale confrontation) and it's tough, heartbreaking, utterly unforgiving stuff that cares not one bit about entertaining its audience in any conventional way.
It's the cinematic equivalent of having your face
rubbed into a blood caked broken bottle at a filthy murder scene...and you can
see why it failed at the box office but yet still survives today.
And Lumet captures that flawed Brave 'New Town' World look of 70's Britain as good as any native.
"Halloween" done by silly people anyone?
Well that's what this 'offers' up.
Listen to that near as damn it John Carpenter music, see main girl stalked through leafy suburbs by a figure viewed only from the back, see the killer's boarded up family home, see the psychiatrist on the killer's trail, watch the mute killer sit bolt upright after being seemingly despatched.
Yep it's all here folks. Only
in "Offerings" we have the bonus of TRULY awful acting from literally
everyone and hysterically bad dialogue and plotting.
For example, a severed ear is found on the main girl's porch, the overweight with a bad hip Sheriff asks "anything else strange happened tonight"?
WTF?? A severed ear on the porch not strange enough for yer??
And oh yes, that's right just leave the girls alone in the house after removing said ear in a baggy....sure....no danger here.
As said this is badly scripted and appallingly acted and looks
But the disfigured killer (who has a ridiculously vague back-story, as we go from him falling down a well as a child, to suddenly skipping '10 years later' only to find out he's now disfigured and has killed and ate his mother) is pretty creepy, a couple of the deaths are entertaining and ghoulish (if rather silly) and the sight of the shadowed psycho holding out a severed head before him as he stomps after the final girl is effective.
Thus, "Offerings" just manages to scrape into the 'average Slasher' league.
A bizzare choice of film to produce really.
Why they chose to make Jack Ketchum's sequel to his infamous horror novel "Off Season" when no movie adaptation of "Off Season" exists is a mystery. But it seems the cost of 'rights' might have been an issue?
did the screenplay himself though and you can see how the film benefits from his
Both of his 'inbred cannibal' novels are brutal, scary, unsettling, raw and highly uncomfortable reads and although the movie version of "Offspring" never goes to the dark places the novel did it still gets close to the bone in places and some of the novel's unsettling aspects have been faithfully reproduced here.
It's tough stuff in places with some violent and gory deaths (all
practical!) and many unexpected deaths as far as confounding the viewer goes (as
the novel did the reader) in never letting them know who will, or won't, be playing
a big part in the narrative despite what they may have been lured into thinking.
Some of the stuff in the cannibal's cave will please fans of the novels and one of the most grotesque parts (the 'feral' baby being thrust onto the nursing breast of a female captive who has no idea if her own baby is even alive) is here and done well.
In fact (given the sad but obvious loss of the novels' 'narration' details and character thoughts that add so much to what we learn about the cannibal family and that adds so much to the story) this does adapt many of Ketchum's raw and terrifying aspects to the cannibals very well, helped by some good performances, especially by Pollyanna McIntosh as the leader who rips up the screen with her wild snarls and guttural spitting out of the cannibal's strange language.
the problem? Well losing the plot from "Off Season" means we
lack the closeness to the returning characters and events the novel of "Offspring"
benefitted from, it's a bit low budget in look and it has the odd continuity problem
but really the main thing is that it's just so damn short!
Knocking off start/end credits this clocks in at just 72 minutes!
How anyone thinks they can adapt
any novel in 72 minutes is beyond me, as such we are terribly rushed in the 2nd
half and we lose so much good stuff.
Even without knowing the novel anyone could easily tell this rushes events and slims down the cannibal's characterisation that it tries to cover.
Added to the lack of back-story to the cannibals and their complex biological linkis/history this seems like a skeleton of a film not a full blooded body.
What the movie version of "Offsrpring" does
it mostly does very well (from both a general horror film angle and as an adaptation
of the novel), the thing is the short running time means it doesn't actually do
A TIME IN MEXICO
Easily the best of the 'trilogy' in my view.
Just the right amount of comic book action, a nicely complex (if rather messy) plot, excellent score, some good characters and Depp is a sheer joy as usual!
Silly, crude and extremely crass this low budget parody/homage horror film is also a whole lot of fun.
Ron Jeremy gets zapped by an Alien force (while making a porn film in a snow bound cabin) resulting in his famous appendage detaching itself and going on a kill crazy, impregnating, frenzy.
It tends to be very tame with the nudity (in a film about a porn film crew getting attacked by a killer cock that's a surprise indeed) and a bit too tame in the gore department but the whole basic idea is crude and grotesque enough (and some of the dialogue is extremely explicit as well) that the film manages to be suitably disgusting in general while we wait to catch the odd gory aftermath, or killer cock itself, shots to arrive.
The acting is surprisingly strong from everyone
and as always Ron Jeremy is an extremely likeable and enjoyable presence for the
short time he's on camera.
Hats off too for the legendary Charles Napier who has loads of fun as a 'Quint' parody character who, just like Robert Shaw in "Jaws", has a wonderfully OTT wartime horror story to tell about his own killer cock experience in Vietnam.
The very occasional rubber cock FX are dopey but fun and come
into their own during the outrageous 'vaginal muscles power' finale that leads
to an obvious (indeed signposted early on) end credit's twist that rounds the
whole silly endeavour off perfectly.
Sit back, unplug brain, crack open a cold one and just enjoy "One-Eyed Monster" for the silly, crass, gross fun it is.
Takes it's time doing much in the first half hour, but after that it's full on all the way!
The fact that there is no wire work here is what amazes. Stunning acrobatics that are a joy to watch even before you get to the bone shattering fights.
Here blows really look like they thud home with as much venom as they are supposed to be having.
Tony Jaa is like prime-era Jackie Chan and then some.
Some good and likeable characters help the drama (although Thai as a language does come across as overly shrill and sing-songy at times, especially the girl in it!) and it mixes light comedy with high emotion perfectly.
You could have done with not seeing almost every stunt 2 or 3 times though as that does take you out of the unfolding events and screams out "hey" you're watching a clever movie! Good isn't it"!
Golden era Hong Kong action films sometimes (esp Jackie Chan films) repeat a specific stunt again, but normally at the end of a sequence or during a natural break.
"Ong-Bak" repeated too many during the main stunt/foot chase sequence that was an ongoing, uninterrupted event. As such the constant 'winding back' of the action grated a bit.
BUT the stunts were astonishing and amazingly skilfull, the fights were jaw- dropping in their skill and thudding power and the finale really delivered the bone smashing (literally...the arm and leg breaks were as painful as hell) fight action and high drama.
No idea what the original score was like, but the new 'HK'L score was very good and bombastic, but still retaining an ethnic flavour.
Damn fine martial arts viewing on a great UK disc.
A slightly slushy ending, but otherwise this is an excellent character based Western drama with some nicely judged performances and two excellent lead characters.
Kevin Costner does well as co-star and Director, and Robert Duvall shows he's still got what it takes to craft the most fascinating and sympathetic of characters.
Some wonderful cinematography and set design, all round satisfying support playing (especially by Anette Bening, who plays the oft seen 'hard but beautiful and wise frontier woman' with a successfully modern edge).
And the finale shootout is expertly crafted, brutal, and perhaps the most emotionally satisfying Western gunfight scene since the king of them all in "The Wild Bunch".
This sharp, thumping, loud, carefully crafted set-piece has to be one of the finest action sequences to come out of Hollywood in many a year.
DAY WILL COME
One of the most annoying and pointless films I have ever seen.
An intriguing start (two angry red-headed French guys, fed up of abuse, go on a trip together) leads to absolute nothingness as our two Gingers walk around, drive around, hang out with teenagers for no reason and eventually gate crash a hotel with the worst security in the world.
Then it turns into
"Natural Born Killers" with (bald!) mad Ginger people for the last
20 minutes, for no real valid reason, until utter confusion literally leaves us
hanging in mid air, half asleep, and praying for release.
Thank the Gods of Insanity for the ever wonderful Vincent Cassel! He's the only thing (some teenage breasts aside) remotely worth watching here as he once again goes completely nuts.
Someone edit the 10 minutes of worthwhile 'Cassel goes bonkers' footage for YouTube and then dump the rest.
OUT FOR JUSTICE
We could have done without the long 'how it used to be in the old neighbourhood' morality speeches Stevie Seagal gives, but away from these the film was a lot of fun!
Loved all the Bronx/Italian-American accents spewing out endless (wonderful) insults, the violence was brutal and totally gratuitous (hooray!) and the ever welcome William Forsythe was delightfully over the top as the psycho bad guy.
Plus Seagal's character was outragously ruthless...blatantly murdering bad guys even when he had unarmed them!
Cheesy as all hell, but damn it...it entertained! I may have to delve further into some prime era Seagal (before he ate ALL the damn pies!)
Oh dear! A vigilante film with almost no vigilante action!
a time wastiing opening leads to a promising set-up with absolutely no crowd pleasing pay-off!
There should have been a good ten minutes taken from the first half of the film for a 'general scum' takedown montage before leaping into the main 'take out the bigshot gangster' plot.
That is afterall what the general joe schmo wants. Big time gangsters are not the threat we wnat to see dealt with to your average old lady who gets beaten to a pulp for her handbag!
Too much messed up moralising
here as well really...The people they are meant to be after are scum that the
law (as we see in real life every day) fail to do anything about, or the laughable
judges let off or give joke sentences to.
We don't need the moralising crap of "this is ultimately wrong though" that Director Nick Love gives us.
The superb "Death Wish" never took this, so called, moral stance because it had the 70's balls to know that Kersey was doing harm only to those that deserved it and stuck by its lead character and it's basic reason for existing. "Outlaw" is too tainted by 21st century political correctness though.
And the fact that the only real character
in Sean Bean's gang that does anything against the criminals is a pyschotic weasal
security guard means that the (in my view) just motives of those with a genuine
grievence and reason to go vigilante were kept in the background and hijacked.
Thus the acts of vengeance became not justice but simply the crazed actions of a nutter who is basically using the vigilante cover for his own psychosis.
Fair enough to have a character like that as long as the legit vigilantes are seen to be taking the action they suppoedly chose to take and sticking by the moral reasons they insist they have.
But in making the general psycho be the only one that does a damn thing to me really says that Love was simply sabotaging his characters actions and telling us that such actions are just plain wrong afterall!
And this despite all the build up (via the news stories of crime and the chav/thug encounters we are shown) that seemed to be very strongly siding with such vigilante actions being taken as a last resort. make your mind up Nick!
A wasted cast
and a wasted chance to have a balls out vigilante flick at a time where, in the
UK at least, the public's faith in the law doing anything about the repeat offender
thugs is at an all time low.
The fact is these vigilante's either refuse to take any action (no matter how damn justified) and normally make a mess of the few tiny things they do decie to do.
When I say that the biggest shootout the vigilante gang has is with the damn Police...you'll see what I mean!
WONDERFUL scenes with bob Hoskins though...his speech to Sean Bean was a brief but gorgeous leap back to his "Long Good Friday" days. But ultimately it was a grandstanding speech that led to absolutely no damn action taking place and no justice dispensed!
The documentary of "The Boondock Saints" director Troy Duffy who infamously let his bloated, repugnant, ego splurge out all over the camera and all over those he needed to turn his great start into a great finish.
off everyone around him he burnt bridges, ranted away chances, and basically shot
himself in the foot, turning "Boondock" into a potentially huge
movie break into a just minor success on DVD...eventually.
And to even rub salt in that wound, Troy only had a contract giving him a share of cinema profits only, so this home video success never gained him a dime!
The film does leave some of the reasons why it all fell thorough so fast in the murk (certain events/meetings that contributed are not covered and you have little sense of the 4 year time period passing) but overall this is an entertaining look at a huge ego trying to take on even bigger egos and losing.
Things have turned out a bit better
since, with "Boondock" getting a larger following though various
DVD/BD releases and he even managed to get a (generally disliked) sequel out to
better theatrical distribution than the first film.
But it's not been the party ride he hoped and, although no one likes the friggin Weinstein brothers, it is perhaps the fate this unpleasant egotist deserves.
Surprisingly foul-mouthed French horror flick that takes the cliches of backwoods horror and a creature feature and creates a pretty unique hybrid.
A hybrid that has some excellent parts but that sadly fails to create anything more than a so-so whole.
There is a hit and miss eccentricity here
that feels very forced and very French too.
For example, upon arrival at the rundown bar (owned by the chief mad woman) our heroine sees a random person, swathed in bubble wrap no less, run along the porch and knock themselves out when they hit a wall, and she barely reacts and the incident is never commented upon then or later!
A man simply states "hey why is this old lady throwing heads at us" right after a severed head smashes though the window and lands by him!
And in the middle of being attacked by the flesh eating, blood drinking, 'Pack' one guy simply sits in the corner reading a book as the creatures smash into the cabin!
The only time this weird eccentricity works is when it's applied to the old, laid back, ex-Sheriff. A great character who sticks breadsticks in his ears for recreation and who constantly wears a 'I fuck on the first date' t-shirt.
And the less said about the comic strip villain biker gang the
better. When I say that the very first thing the leader does as he walks into
the bar is smash a beer bottle on his head for no reason whatsoever...you can
see how subtle these bozos are.
But at least their violent excesses deliver us this stand-out line, as the mad woman owner of the bar threatens their leader with a shotgun, "I'll repaint my lino with your ball juice"!
is nothing here you have not seen before in the crop of 'captured by backwoods
nutters' flicks we have had recently and the sudden (supernatural tinged) switch
to full-on creature feature is a jarring, if bold move.
But the real strength of the film (that takes a good while to kick in) is the mysterious, titular, 'Pack' themselves.
Their nightmarish introduction scene (lured out by the blood dripping bodies, hanging up by one arm and swinging against the moonlit sly) is a wonderful slice of creepy monster horror and thankfully the final reveal of the creatures carries this nightmarish scene forward. Sporting gaping tusk filled mouths, but with no eyes, these sniffing, snarling, zombie like creations are effective and memorable.
Sadly away from 'The Pack' the forced weirdness, needlessly strange
characters (Sheriff aside) and meandering plot hamper the enjoyment, although
it is all technically sharp and on the ball.
But there is just enough gore, grue (the emptying of blood from a skewered head scene is particularly gnarly) and general cool creature moments to ensure that this is certainly worth a rental.
And look out for the finale...that eccentricity is back in spades but it just about works as the credits roll.
PAPAYA: LOVE GODDESS
OF THE CANNIBALS
Good old Uncle Joe D'Amato offers up an early slice of tropical/native exploitation in this Euro skin flick with slight horror overtones.
There's no real cannibalism in it as such (a bitten off penis and a briefly munched heart aside) and this is all to do with the rampant male and female nudity than anything else.
It gets off to a rollicking start though.
9 minutes in and we've had funky tunes, 70's bush, 70's nipples, 70's floppy dick, cock fights, a mushy corpse and that aforementioned bitten off penis.
But then Joe
D'Amato (as he often does) just goes to sleep and the film joins him, It's all
just boring talk, walking around aimlessly and dull anti-nuclear shenanigans of
It's all badly dubbed of course but the story goes nowhere in any language.
Things pick up briefly again with many hairy/floppy bits on full
frontal show, some group nudity, funky dancing and a three-way bath time.
But then it just gives up again,
I mean there's enough pubic hair in "Caribbean Papaya" to carpet a living room, but sadly not much else at all, and that includes cannibals!
Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylorhe, the writer/director's of the "Crank" movies push the boundaries again, only with not a trace of humour (black or otherwise) or comic strip craziness to be found.
Here they are only the writers, so perhaps the utter darkness seen here is down to the director Marc Schölermann.
group of pathology students create a game where each commits a murder and the
others have to autopsy the body to work out how the death was carried out....
True the story has a few possible plausibility issues but as a wallow in nastiness, nihilism and body fluids it's a well crafted slice of modern horror.
The fact it does not have any real energy or kinetic set-pieces means there is not any real excitement here and when added to the utter darkness, grit and grim content you can see why this basically vanished onto DVD. A fun night at the flicks this is not.
The FX are fantastically well done and the film clinically embraces
the human corpse as a biological jigsaw, filled with foul stenches and stinking
And the attitude of the truly warped lead characters here (which means the film basically has no nice or sympathetic characters for most of its running time..another audience pleasing problem) is grotesque as far as any kind of sanctity or respect for human remains goes.
Brief flashes of violence and gore, or explicit sex romps on autopsy tables with the corpses lying a few feet away, are not the real uncomfortable aspects of the film...it's this attitude of someone's loved one being a macabre game where every part of them is a bloody playing piece.
There is no light here at all. It's a relentlessly grim
wade through madness, callousness and pitch darkness.
That such a bleak and nihilistic, dour film got a few million dollars thrown at it (FX are top notch, the film looks glossy and chic and all is well crafted with solid, professional actors) is a miracle and shows that despite what many think there is a real up-turn in extreme horror filmmaking at the moment that's very welcome.
Well worth checking out if you are in the mood to wallow in the grimness of it all, just don't expect to be conventionally entertained or look forward to any fast paced thrills.
Oh dear. Nature Boy Seagal takes on virus spreading neo-Nazis.
Now then, amazingly I like a lot of the tongue in cheek, insult driven dialogue that Seagal uses towards the bad guys as much as his limb snapping action, but his preaching is generally unwelcome, and boy, he sure likes to preach in this one in very slushy fashion!
Amazingly uneven in pacing this is a big chunk of waffle, followed by a nice bit of very splattery gun action, followed by another dull lull, then some more gun action, then a huge dull lull with a tiny bit of (still non-martial arts) action at the end.
The gun play is bloody but seems very tacked on and the rest of the film is badly plotted and slow.
Good points are LQ Jones in a support role, the squib work and a delightfully nasty moment when Stevie boy rams the broken stem of a glass into a guy's brain in the name of peace and harmony!
Otherwise...it was the start of Seagal's huge fall into straight to video hell and you can see why.
Superbly realised battle scenes (and aftermaths), made so much better knowing that there is not a CGI figure in sight, with some amazing stunt work as massed ranks of men run between speeding tanks and huge explosions.
But above all towers George C Scott who rips up the screen in one of THE great movie performances, as a colossal figure in the history of modern conflict.
And let's face it...with more men like Patton getting things done the Western Democracies would be in a much stronger position against their enemies.
So sayeth me!
Great film making.
BLART: MALL COP
I like me a bit of Kevin James as "The King of Queens'" is a guilty pleasure of mine so what the hell I thought I would give this a go.
And I'm glad I did. Nothing clever, nothing sophisticated just unpretentious fun which is fine 'n' dandy.
This is basically a comedy
re-make of "Die Hard" set in a mall with a fat John McClane.
Numerous "Die Hard" moments are re-played and lightly spoofed (including a very funny joke on the 'repairing wounds down time' segment of "Die Hard") and the idea of having Paul Blart going against a bunch of super athletic crooks is a winner.
This speed difference (even with Blart on his speedo wheels thingy) means that there are no real chases here and very obvious teleportation editing to move Blart away from the crooks sits badly, but otherwise the action is fun and uses James' bulk to full comic effect.
The free-running, skateboarding, BMX riding gang deliver some top class stunt moments and lots of frantic fun and James himself belies his size to deliver some very well executed, painful (and funny), looking stunt work as well.
Nothing mind blowing for
sure, but as a solid piece of good time entertainment it works and is a must for
any Kevin James fans.
It ain't "Annie Hall"...but it's still a fun time.
Chow Yun Fat's last Hong Kong film before moving to America is slightly better than the 2 bad efforts that went before it, "Treasure Hunt" and the especially awful "Return of the God of Gamblers", but it's still a huge drop from his glory days.
The problems are numeorus.
Too much bad humour in the first half, endless repetition of scenes and a basically simple plot made overly obscure by very messy plotting and script crafting.
Not much happens for the most part but all of it is chaotic and flat.
The action is very rare and shot in an overly chaotic and eye straining fashion.
Most of the emotion is basically lost in the mess and what does shine through the murk is very forced (as is the tragi ending).
BUT... the cinematography is great looking (if very cramped), the score is excellent (and includes a lovely, Hong Kong Film Awards winning, song by Cass Phang Ling) and Chow is as lovely to watch as ever.
Overall it's a basically good idea (a sort of HK Western with philisophical leanings) wasted by sloppy and messy scripting, needless muddle, unwanted humour, plot repetition and too little, too late in coming, overly chaotic action.
Wonderfully deranged and sick adpatation of Barry Gifford's "59 Degrees and Raining: The Story of Perdita Durango" novel that focuses on the Perdita support character from "Wild at Heart" (here Rosie Perez replaces Isabella Rosselini from "Heart").
Álex de la Iglesia's movie has a total 'fuck you' attitude and it makes for some fine, extreme cinema, entertainment.
And it's great to see (and hear) the late Screamin' Jay Hawkins as well.
Hardly a Gangster film at all, it's more akin to the Bogart flick "The Desperate Hours" about 'small fry hoods on the run'.
The problem is the amazingly stodgy first half hour (Bogart does not even appear and bOy, does it hurt) where the, delightfully English, Leslie Howard's scenes with a very young Bette Davis are arse-numbing in their twee tedium!
On and on they waffle as Bette bugs out her eyes and flutters her lashes and Leslie sups on his pipe with measured civility.
Damn! Where the hell are the hoods when you need them?'
'Warner's' amazingly obvious, but cute, stage-bound outdoor set adds a nicely comfortable charm, but we REALLY need Bogart to appear!
Eventually he does (over half an hour gone) and at last some real drama and atmosphere arrives with the balls out hard boiled attitude of Bogart waking the audience up!
The moral/psychological/sociological dialogue exchanges between Howard and Bogart are cliche of course, but they work well enough and the huge contrast between these two actors really works.
You could not get a more English actor as Leslie Howard (who would of course die in the approaching WWII) or a more American actor as Bogart. One hell of a strange combination but it's what makes the film work.
But damn! This sucker is so slow, marshy and annoyingly mannered for the first 35 minutes or so (and now and again later on as well) and it's generally very dated.
For fans of Bogart there are some good moments to be had, but it's a case of the parts being better than the whole.
OF THE OPERA (THE)
'Hammer's' adaptation is a very flat, has far too much opera footage during the finale and contains a really 'what the hell happened?' moment where the fate of nasty Michael Gough is concerned (shame).
A far too sympathetic Phantom too, resulting in a Phantom that is not remotely threatening.
But it looked nice, with suitably well crafted studio sets and it had a couple of 'Hammer jolts' in the form of a swinging hanged man ripping through the stage scenery and a vicious knife in the eye demise.
There was an all too brief but good turn by Patrick Troughton as a wonderfully grubby rat catcher and a superbly nasty, sleazy, arrogant and generally mad turn by Michael Gough.
Very flat finale though and generally only 'ho hum'.
Too slow to get to the real meat perhaps (thus some characters/actors are wasted) and sometimes the mixture of comedy and straight horror does not mix too well (the Paul Bartel character is a perfect example where his almost "Porkys" level mean teacher antics don't sit too well with his final scene), but overall this holds up well thanks to the cast and the (still) superb FX/camera/editing work carried out during the ferocious Piranha attacks.
Sadly the utterly inappropriate score saps some of the energy from the genuinely nasty attack on the children by being far too low key, slow and moody. It's more like build-up to the attack music than actual attack music, which should frantically drive the scene along, not tip-toe with it through the daisies.
So we have faults, but overall still a good watch with some very clever and effective attack sequences, the last of which gets really good and meaty.
2: FLYING KILLERS
Now only really known for being the aborted (he was removed during shooting) debut of James Cameron, this bizzaro Italian/U.S hybrid sequel to the classic Joe Dante film "Piranha" is a complete mess overall but has a few moments worth checking out.
Shit awful dialogue
abounds (this was made in English, but still comes across like a dubiously translated
dub job) with this craziness, said by the lead female character to her would-be
love interest, being the topper;
"You can stay the night if you want to, we don't have to make love".
Yes dear! I'm sure he feels much more at ease now, surely terrified of the fact he might actually have had sex! Phew!
Thankfully the idea of Piranha/Flying Fish hybrids provides many scenes
of enjoyable hokum as the toothy buggers zoom through the air at people. Best
scene being the one where a cunning fish hides inside a delightfully yucky corpse
before leaping out and gorily ripping a nurse's throat out.
A (sadly too brief) beach massacre, with flying gnashers all over the place, is another highlight as is a surprisingly grotesque sequence of a half eaten man staggering out of the ocean.
But general slow pacing, cardboard characters, nothing of interest
happening between the nicely gory (and pretty well crafted) kill scenes and an
utterly lifeless (and seemingly endless) finale, consisting of planting bombs
underwater and Lance Henrickson getting his 'does nothing at all in the plot'
Son out of the way of the big bang, really drags the film down.
what should be the big exciting ending is paced dreadfully, has no drive and ends rather too damn abruptly too.
Below average fare saved by flying fish camp and the gore.
PIRATES CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S
The budget had obviously gone up, as had the pace and general far out fantasy.
And although it was at times verging on total sensory overload and had perhaps too many plots flying around...I liked it a lot!
were superb, but more importantly the wonderful imagination that should fuel all
such things was present and correct.
Davey Jones was a fantastic creation both artistically and technically, the humour was spot on, the outstandingly creative set-pieces were huge and perfectly crafted, the whole cast was brought back and in top form and it had some really surprising moments of characterisation.
Here we had a cast of characters who were all a shade of grey...I think it was a pretty brave move to make the audience popular Captain Jack far from the heroic rogue he was in the first film. He had herosim, but it was often kept in the shade of his often ruthless self-serving attitude.
The entire relationship dynamic had been made far less cozy and trusting in fact.
Certainly Knightley's character has undergone some shocking changes...as we see at the end especially!
crazy, magnificently crafted, full of wild flights of imaginative fantasy and
surprisingly dark. Perhaps too long, but not by much. Certainly a must see and
certainly a film to see at the cinema.
And of course it has a great finale that sets up the final part of this epic tale very nicely. Shame the ythird film was so weak in many ways and wasted Chow Yun Fat!
The fist fights are brutal, bloody and in your face (especially when the guy has his eye punched out!) and Dominique Vandenberg, as the messed up fighter Jack, is a force of nature in the fighting stakes.
We also have some meaty squib work on numerous shootouts.
The bad is that the plot gets
bogged down in catholic angst, messy flshback twists and (Steven Bauer aside)
the out of the pit acting is pretty damn bad especially Brit Scott Adkins who
spouts hysterically bad dialogue hysterically badly.
Best line of dialogue comes after a brutally violent, astonishingly bloody flashback to a string of cold-blooded assassinations by Jack (including hacking a guy to death with an axe) where, at the end of the carnage, he states I think I might not have been the best of men. No shit sherlock!
And the end is plainly
stupid. Now we have bad shooting in films of course but this takes the biscuit!
Jack stands in the open, in the middle of a square in borad daylight with 50 odd
guys firing at him with machine guns at no more than 10/20 feet away...and every
single bullet misses for about 5 minutes flat!
At one point Jack turns his back on 2 men who then proceed (in the same shot!) to unload their machine guns at him, and he's never hit!
It's like a homage to the old Shaw Bothers swordplay finales where one guy takes on 50 all around him. the thing is though you can get away with that when they stand 10 feet away with a sword...But not when they stand 10 feet away with a machine gun!
Some fine moments, but flawed overall. Still, a good watch.
Nice Blu-Ray transfer brings this well loved spook fest to new life.
head is the only rather goofy visual effect and even in the Blu-Ray the FX hold
up and the huge 'skeletal dog' creature still impresses and creeps.
The famous face ripping is still as unexpectedly gross but the dummy head being clawed at by an actors hands is painfully obvious now.
But thankfully the rest of the film looks amazing and still manages some good solid creeps, and some genuinely unsettling moments of supernatural violence (where I think Tobe Hooper nips out from Spielberg's shadow) towards the wife and the kids.
Performances are another highlight with the oh so memorable Zelda Rubinstein still as good as ever, Crag T. Nelson is top serious/funny form, JoBeth Williams giving some real emotion to her scenes (and filling out some skimpy panties very nicely), the unfortunately goofy-toothed Oliver Robins handles the extreme abuse he suffers brilliantly and the tragic Heather O'Rourke is cute, sweet but feisty as the center of the troubles.
The film is overly leisurely though at times (surprisingly the worst moments coming after the initial disappearance of O'Rourke) and treads water for too long. And the finale stretches credibility a bit too much in the fact that they would EVER sleep in that house again!
But overall it's a superbly crafted (and for
the time technically brilliant) supernatural ride with lots of emotion, frights
and humour and a balls-out, screaming, intense, horrirfic finale that once again
sees Tobe Hooper come to the fore as he delivers that same level of screeching
insanity to the supernatural as he did to grounded, grotesque, dinner table torture
in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre".
Always liked Stephen McHattie since he went nuts in the sadly neglected "Death Valley" and he is very good at times here but the film has no idea what it wants to be.
Is it serious? Is it funny? And if so what kind of funny? Bleak funny? Comic funny?
This film has no idea.
The screenplay has an utterly
absurd main idea that even in the 'suspend belief' world of Zombie films (though
why this is being touted as a Zombie film anyway is a mystery to me) pushes the
boundaries of supernatural and barking mad science to breaking point.
But that's okay...I can live with that. It's a unique idea even if they had to go so far out they ended up in Pluto to make it a unique idea.
It's a plot that opens up many interesting ideas too.
But the tone is all wrong.
Deadly serious things are happening (even right there in front of them to someone they know) and yet the actor's reactions and some of the dialogue plays it all up as a joke...But nothing remotely funny is actually happening.
The comedy (and yet not...exactly!) Doctor is the silly schizophrenic cherry on top.
And don't do a scene where
a young girl is kicked to death in a sequence again not played for laughs in the
build-up...and make it look like the 'snooker cue/Queen song' scene from "Shaun
of the Dead"!
"Shaun" could do this as it had set the agenda already that it was a comedy, even if a black one with a sometimes serious dramatic edge.
"Pontypool" has not (even with the schizo comedy, and yet not, reactions and attitudes of the actors) built up a comic foundation at all to treat the scene this way so what should be a deeply affecting and effective moment of tragic violence is reduced to an emotional void that neither works as comedy or the harrowing event it should have been. It plays more like a deleted scene.
And as for the final two scenes.
Some good ideas here, but they are reduced to a (Intentionally funny? Maybe, and yet other times obviously not) deeply annoying verbal barrage (that we think is going to move the plot on but ultimately does not) which also renders what should be an emotional part of the film into a rather embarrassing bit of over-acting as actors, director and writer all try to make some kind of sensible narrative use out of their initial unique, but completely unmanageable, basic idea as endlessly shouted words are used as the irritating replacement for firearms as the weapon of choice to save the day is not a machine gun...but wildly overwrought dialogue and acting it seems.
we have some good ideas, an at least unique set-up, some unexpected and effective
creep moments to enjoy here.
But the unfocused execution utterly lets the film down and the finale is such a deafening white noise of babbled dialogue and overacting that "Pontypool" ends up just being a tiring and annoying joke at the audiences expense.
PREACHING TO THE PERVERTED
Totally OTT and set in some alternatate universe I think!
But it's lots of fun has some superb and sexy sights and set pieces set pieces, good music and some far out fetish clothing.
Obviously suffered editing problems, but still a solid and underrated sci-fi action flick and a bit of Busey goes a long, macho, way!
French movie about some killer mutant pigs is quite frankly a bit of a dog.
characters get bumped off in the dark by a shakey cam oinker, or bump themselves
off, until the sour finale (that also misses what would be an obvious, but nice,
twist on motherhood) brings us to a ho hum close.
UP YOUR EARS
Wonderful bio of 60's playwright Joe Orton during the last few months of his life in swinging London, with two standout lead performances.
Alfred Molina as his badly wired sometime lover and partner Kenneth and Gary Oldman as Joe are both wonderful to watch.
Funny, clever, sad, decadent, tragic and full of life..even towards death.
And some utterly divine dialogue rounds it all off nicely.
There's nothing really wrong with "Priest" (a semi-re-telling of "The Searchers" only with Vampire creatures instead of Native Americans) just that for such an initial build-up of the world, history and various characters it offers up, nothing much is done with any of it.
It's a fairly short (less
than 90 mins), no nonsense, to the point, not many characters involved, ci-fi/horror/western
that seems to be missing 30 minutes plot and society/world details.
It's just an okay slice of simplistic popcorn entertainment that plays like a feature length trailer.
FX are good, Vampires are nicely nasty and monstrous, acting is okay (though a cast like this should bring us more), action is sparse but good....ho and hum.
Roberta Findlay may have done some good stuff with "Tenement", but I think we can safely say it was her late husband Mike Findlay (sadly decapitated by a helicopter!) who was the warped genius and energy of their iconic Grindhouse film making partnership (The "Flesh" trilogy, "The Ultimate Degenerate").
cheap, bland...oh so bland...Satanic horror flick features much dull chat, many
flat set-pieces, tediously drab acting, a messy and boring plot and a finger puppet
The odd bared breast here and there, a bit of mild 80's gore and a couple of nicely messy bodies near the end manage to scrape one point up for this tedious twaddle.
A whoop dee doodle of a cast of course (Burt Lancaster, Burt Lancaster's teeth, Lee Marvin, Woody Strode, Robert Ryan, Claudia Cardinale, Jack Palance, Ralph Bellamy) and a smattering of solid action.
But Ryan seems poitlesss quite frankly as his character does nothing at all (literally!) except get them into trouble.
Perhaps the biggest reason this does not
reach the heights it could have (should have) is because it tends to be a 'cool
guys on a mission' guy's flick while at the same time beng mostly very serious
and (until the finale) amazingly bleak about human nature.
It's genuinely chilling when Lancaster's character is more than willing to put a bullet in the unconcious head of his one time ally and friend played by Palance.
In fact the way all one time friends (especially concerning the revolutionary female character and Lancaster) are willing to betray and kill each other.
Lancaster is truly a cynical, nihilist of the most mercenary nature and as such perhaps his final decision is rather out of character. But at least it gives us some hope and good feelings to what would otherwise be a bleakly cynical movie indeed.
it's an engaging ride for the most part, taken with a great cast with Marvin especially
giving a thoughtful performance, stuffed with just enough above average action
moments and ending with one of the GREAT final speeches in moviedom:
Bellamy (To Marvin): "You bastard"!
Marvin: "Well, yes sir. In my case an accident of birth.
But you, Sir... you're a self-made man"!
A glorious way to end the film!
Before he wowed the dinner party brigade with "Cinema Paradiso" Giuseppe Tornatore made this troubled 5 hour TV mini series that never saw the light of day as a 5 hour TV mini series.
Instead it was cut down by half and released as a feature and the cutting really shows (especially later on) as far as the rather muddled plot goes.
And yet this severe editing was also probably a good thing in other ways.
It's a bit like being saved from drowning only to find the lifejacket chucked out to you has had a dog turd smeared around the collar.
Sometimes salvation can be a messy business.
works as far as having even remotely watchable pacing goes and certainly as far
as keeping your brain from flowing out of your ears goes.
Something that surely would have happened in its 5 hour form as you would have tried to grasp the bewildering number of 'every other one looks alike' characters who all have 10 different, politically and culturally Italian specific, plots and double crosses to their incomprehensible name.
Never a real fan of Sicily and Naples set mafia tales
me (give me those lovely Italian-American Mafia mongrels any day as far as groovy
Mob drama goes....I love those big fat bastards) as they tend to be very country
specific as far as political plots and deals go, lack any good Mob action, and
it often leaves me cold when Guiseppe argues with Domenico about which Catholic
politician to bribe this afternoon.
Hell no, give me a fat guy (in a bad short sleeved shirt) called Vinnie arguing with another fat guy (in a zip up top) named Carlo about the best meatball recipe while 'whacking' some mug in the woods any time.
Thankfully though the thing is saved (and even made pretty damn watchable) by the hammy as all hell turn by the always hammy as all hell Ben Gazzara as 'The Professor' who by virtue of not being as thick as all the other guys in prison creates a criminal empire based on MUCH...MUCHLY...MUCH death and destruction in the form of bloody shootings and nasty knifings.
Away from Gazzara that
surprisingly amount of cold blooded violence keeps things energised (see a woman
get holes blown in her as she walks along holding the hand of her little boy,
see a guy get stabbed so many times the shower room turns crimson) and here we
can thank the editing to ensure that the film does not slow to a dead mans' walk
between these outbursts.
Hell the plot is so full of betrayals, shadowy schemes, double-dealings, betrayals, misunderstandings and international plotting that we have more than enough to be going on with any way.
Bloated (despite being gutted, go figure), too complex and culturally specific to truly excite...but there are still enough scenes of carnage (including a great assassination/finding the bodies montage that must have been on Scorsese's mind when he crafted that great and similar sequence in "Goodfellas") and enough scenes of Gazzara going nutzoid in a series of bad wigs to keep any trash hound at least entertained.
Very underrated thriller that very carefully mixes drama, thriller, action and mature melodrama.
A nice cast (with some very cool David Caruso support) do superb jobs, great location filming, well paced and with a very well written central triangle of characters.
Damn good stuff.
The real wellspring of the 70's Grindhouse 'Psychopath' movie which itself soon mutated in what became the Slasher movie Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" is as vital and important a movie to the history of Horror in general as Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" is to the modern zombie as we all now know it.
can thank the movie gods that is was Hitchcock who helmed this as the opening
half of the film is chock full of his great suspense scenes and set-ups and some
astute uses of the frame.
As such the (of course fantastic for that initial opening of the movie when it was first released all those years ago) vastly too long build-up to the main story, is kept interesting. But it has to be acknowledged that this extended trick on the audience is, once the film is known, at the expense of the rest of the plot as pretty much everything that has now just been introduced has to be resolved in about 45 minutes.
The now iconic shower murder lacks
the power it originally had (how could it not if we are truly being honest) but
it is still a superbly crafted mixture of sound and picture, direction, editing
And even today it has a visceral edge to it that surprises.
Perkins is wonderful as Bates, giving a very sedate and yet constantly fascinating and unnerving performance to essay Norman perfectly, Vera Miles is suitably driven and ballsy and of course Janet Leigh looks stunning and gives Marion Crane far more depth than any such character normally has. Martin Balsam is rather wasted but is as good as ever and again you wish more time could have been spent on this second half of the story to give him more to do.
The great revelations of the story are of course rendered rather ineffectual from a shock point of view all these years on after so much is now known, but they are suitably macabre enough and far out enough to still satisfy the modern viewer and it's a shame that you can never, ever, experience this movie in the way it was meant to be experienced like those first ever audiences.
Thankfully though the Hitchcock mastery of suspense and intrigue (as well as shock and smiles), when combined with the great visuals, great music, fine performances and delightfully macabre atmosphere ensure that, although it now exists in a very different fashion, "Psycho" still has the power to entertain and satisfy 50 long years after it first exploded into history.
Generally regarded as one of the best Horror sequels and easily one of the most respected, Richard "Road Games" Franklin does a good job (helped by a worthy and clever screenplay by Tom Holland) with "Psycho 2" in moving the story of Norman Bates on as well as giving us a well crafted insight into his history and mental make-up.
It's nice to get Vera Miles back as the vengeful
Crane sister (who in a nice bit of plotting we learn married her dead sister's
lover, Sam!), the lovely Meg Tilley pushed all the right buttons as her ever-changing
character swings from one mindset to another, Dennis Franz is his usual fine and
obnoxious self and Hugh Gillin makes a fine new Sheriff character and Perkins
is very good in the now far larger role of Norman.
Violence is upped
here as well as the bloodshed (with at least one memorable demise), but it still
manages some restraint and to remain far more a psycho thriller/drama more than
a Slasher movie.
The 'new' history of Norman is also fun and is never out there enough to ruin the initial set-up of the first film...as what we assumed we knew gets turned around. And it makes for a very memorable. blackly funny, finale that sets up the next film perfectly.
Perkins' as Director ups the nudity and the bloodshed here (this certainly embraces the current, if by now dying, Slasher movie trend more than "Psycho 2") and some of the murders are suitably messy and memorable...in fact this does for toilets (in a wonderfully gory/well done FX scene) what the original did for showers.
And the ice cube moment is a wonderfully gross slice of black comedy.
still ensures though that with even this extra exploitative content he keeps the
film, as the previous two films were, more driven by plot and character than just
murder and mayhem.
The plotting here is not as dense or clever as "Psycho 2", but the screenplay takes in various serious subjects and layers the main narrative with a genuinely emotive sub-plot about a troubled, young, ex-Nun who gets far too close with Norman.
Perkins is more theatrical here and plays up the dark comedy to a greater degree, but he's still in fine form and Norman still manages to be an engaging, if now rather broader, character.
And Jeff Fahey is great value as the sleazy new help and his 'dance of the waving lamps' sex game is a hoot!
What the film also does, despite the different sub-plots
and an older Bates, is to give us a basic look, which we never originally got,
into Norman's mad existence before Marion Crane showed up and it all fell apart
As such this continues the narratively valid reasons for the sequels to exist.
"Psycho 2" cleverly moved the story on and gave us a look at a Norman Bates trying to exist a normal life and fleshed out his backstory nicely, "Psycho 3" also moves the story on to a lesser but still interesting degree (although later revelations, that change once again the backstory we thought we now knew for Norman, are all a bit needless and rather desperate) as well as moving the story back in a way to give us a chance to see the Norman Bates "Psycho" only talked about at the end.
Some of the more direct visual/audio, pop culture-style nods to the original "Psycho" (that actually "Psycho 2" avoided) are a bit too heavy handed though.
Not as classy as the first two films, not as superbly fashioned and filmed as the Hitchcock original or as cleverly plotted as the second film but "Psycho 3" is still a lot of fun, has some good gory mayhem, a suitably character driven plot (and even a touch of melancholy) and makes for a nice full circle finale (Norman's actions at the end are satisfying for the character and the last shot is a dark comedy gem) to a very satisfying trilogy.
PSYCHO BEACH PARTY
Camped to the max and highly theatrical modern take on the old 50's/60's 'Beach Horror' films where surfer dudes, Rockabilly/Rock & Roll music, hot chicks and a smattering of horror were blended up to feed the teenage masses at the local Drive-In.
good cast (including an early appearance by Amy Adams) hams it up and embraces
all the 'Beach Blanket' cliches with tongue in cheek aplomb and basically this
all adds up to a fun, if far from deep or subtle, viewing experience.
Some of the humour falls flat and is often laboured but most of it works and there are some genuine laugh out loud moments here.
The 'only fooling themselves' Homosexual sub-plot between two of the surfer dudes is wonderful and offers up some good laughs and there is a genius verbal pay-off, that comes completely out of left field, involving Nicholas "Buffy" Brendon as he describes to the virginal Florence (Lauren Ambose) what he does with his girlfriend. It's just fucking great!
The horror aspect is very minimal as far as bloodshed
or violence goes and is really just a few dubious looking body parts, but the
whole infectious attitude of 'everyone just having a good time' manages to pull
the film though its slower/too theatrical moments and the finale (which plays
the cliches perfectly) that could have hurt the film in fact adds another layer
of fun to it as it's so well (and carefully) handled.
Some fine-ass Go-Go dancing and some rockin' Surfer tunes add the cherry on top and basically "Psycho Beach Party" succeeds more than it fails and makes for a satisfyingly entertaining watch.
PUNISHER (THE) (2004).
Okay, but low on action (when the best and longest action scene is the pre-Punisher assassination of Castle's family, you know something is wrong!) and the way he never bothered to hide seemed silly. No wonder all those bad guys were sent to kill him!I much preferred the Dolph version's idea of the underground lair.
Some great stunts though, some (all too brief) well staged action and a nice high tech, high budget bang...for me though the best version would be the Dolph film with the technology and budget of this film attached to it.
Dolph may be woody...but he seemed to be darker and more serious about the whole thing than Tom Jane.
Too much scheming and not enough shooting as far as the revengw was concerned as well.
And we had a weak ass villian in Travolta.
Vast improvement over the lousy 2004 version.
Whereas that film took ages to even create The Punisher, and had it's best and longest action scene wasted on the death of his family (a catalyst only...not the main action highlight!) this version piles on the action and ultra-violence and does more 'Punisher' punishing in the first 10 minutes than the 2004 film did during its entire running time.
And here 'The Punisher' kicks his enemy's ass,
not tediously schemes and tricks them like in 2004.
He is after all 'The Punisher' not 'The Plotter'!
Where it fails is that the story (although better than the 2004 version) is not as good or entertaining as the underrated 1989 Dolph Lundgren version and Ray Stevenson is not as good as Thomas Jane (Dolph was okay...but not really very 'Punisher' like).
So between the three films (2004's lead
actor / 2008's FX, action, violence / 1989's story) there is the perfect 'Punisher'
As it is though (and until Dolph's version gets a proper uncut DVD/Blu Ray release) this is by far the best 'Punisher' movie and for kick ass, blood thirsty, ass kicking and OTT villains...this is a must see.