Sunday, August 13, 2017

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

I watched this film whilst on a summer cruise holiday to Norway. I usually like King Kong films for a reason I am not familiar with, just something about them. I say usually because this was one I didn't enjoy all that much. Samuel L. Jackson plays a military chief who sees Kong destroying his helicopters and men and then goes all out for revenge on Kong at the expense of everyone else. An interesting premise in some ways but there is a butch hero played by Tom Hiddleston who saves everyone. I liked the fact that there was a female war photographer involved. But I didn't really understand why the Hiddleston character was involved. John Goodman also played a big role at the start of the film. I think the film had too many characters. The deaths and special effects were pretty good and better than I was expecting. But there lots of visual cliches and shots that could have been in Apocalypse Now, so a lot of the cinematography was unoriginal. It wasn't a complete turkey of a film and I did enjoy the action but it suffers from having actors who have appeared in lots of other films. With a fresh cast it might have been more interesting.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hatchet II (2010)

My expectations were low for this American slasher, I've got to be honest. The low expectations were justified. I don't find slasher films very scary in general and when you put together the elements of a crazed psychotic, deformed killer with the rest of the characters who behave like idiots the there is just very little sympathy to be had for any of the victims. The setting is as clichéd as they come, a swamp with mist floating by and an old wooden house at night in the swamp. Oh my, this sounds like a recipe for disaster and it is largely a disaster. Nothing much to redeem this film, not even Danielle Harris does but she plays her part well and I liked the way she acted the ending. She reappears in hatchet III, if you're interested.


V/H/S (2012)

This film was shot as a series of short films using camcorder found footage style episodes.I like the style if it is done correctly. A criminal gang are in their gang house after filming an assault of a woman in a car park. One of the gang members explains there is a better way to make more money, they just need to break into a house and retrieve a videotape for an old man. They decide to take this offer up, not really believing it. They break into the house and split up to look for the tape. They find a dead body in an armchair infront of multiple TVs and videos. One guy stays in the room and the others search the rest of the house. While in the room, the guy presses play on a tape. The audience then see the first film in the sequence. The other films work like this as well, with different guys coming in to watch, lastly there are two guys left in the basement. The short films are clever and have good twists as their endings. I liked them all. Not a bad film overall, if you like this style of portmanteau film. I'd not seen a film like this since the 1970s and this gives it a modern twist.



Under the bed (2012)

This was an interesting little film. It's the story of a family who have lost their mother and the two boys have been split up for a year, one living with an aunt while the father put his life back together and has remarried. The mother died but it was not revealed how as far as I remember and it is implied by the boys friends that the boy who went to live with his aunt was responsible, due to a mental health issue. The father seems very angry and may even believe this himself. The boys know the truth, that there is a monster under the bed. They keep this to themselves and the father thinks it is nonsense. It is a frustrating film in the sense that the adults don't want to encourage the boys, even though very strange things are happening. At one point I thought the new step mom may take their side after she has an experience in the garage but no, that doesn't happen either. It's quite clever in some respects because even though we see the monster under the bed come out and attack them, you are left thinking is it all in the older boy's mind or not? Not a bad film really, worthy of a watch I think.


Phantasm (1979)

I was very much looking forward to watching this film. It was a film that has intrigued me for most of my life, mainly because the opportunity to see it has never cropped up until recently. Well now that I've seen it I can put my intrigue to rest. In my mind I had elevated it to the status of a film like The Exorcist or The Omen. It isn't as dark or as scary as either of those films and is more like a traditional US Friday night scare film. It is not so psychological in its horror. There are a lot of unanswered questions that the film presents but these are in no way an indicator that the film's a really high quality one. Infact, the unanswered questions just reveal the shallowness of the films attempt to shock the audience. The iconic silver ball is the best example of this but there are also the little hooded dwarves as well and the horny graveyard temptress and murderer. All in all, after waiting so long to see the film it was a big disappointment. But still not a big turkey by any means, just that my imagination had built it up into something it is not. Some may call it a classic but for me, this isn't a film I'd have in my top horror collection.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Oldboy (2003)

This is the South Korean original version of this film.  I admit that I was expecting a horror film and this it isn't. The main character has been imprisoned for 15 years in a room that looks to all intents and purposes like a hotel room. He is served food through a hatch but is never told who his captor is or why he has been imprisoned. His wife and daughter believe he is dead. the film tells the story of his release and his search to find his captor. It is brilliantly done but I found it took a long time in getting there. It has some memorable scenes (like the scene in a hallway with the hammer) but I found the film a bit overlong.


Excision (2012)

Another film I hadn't heard of and one I wasn't sure what to expect. The star of the film is a geek/freak teenage girl character played magnificently by AnnaLynne McCord. The main character is Pauline who is obsessed with blood and is delusional about a career in surgery. Her strange behaviour gets increasingly odd during the film but the astonishing thing is that none of the adults around her seem to care very much about her mental decline. There is plenty of blood splatter. There is a strange little sex scene where Pauline and the boyfriend of another girl goes down on her in a hotel room, which ends with his disgust because she arranged it all to coincide with her period. The end of the film is shocking, which is a good thing in this case. I thought this film was interesting, arresting and cleverly made. The acting was excellent, Pauline was played very well and the mother was also played brilliantly by Traci Lords, who I since found out has had a very colourful career. I must mention the make-up crew who did a wonderful job turning a beautiful girl into a spotty, greasy teenager. Easily able to recommend this to horror fans who appreciate a bit of black humour.


Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)

This is one of those films that is based on a videogame character, I enjoyed the videogames by the way. The "Agent 47" of the title is an assassin (played adequately by Rupert Friend), the audience knows very little about him at the start. I enjoyed the film just on a level of it being visually attractive with lots of action sequences. I didn't enjoy the story very much. I thought the father/human geneticist:daughter- relationship played by Ciarán Hinds and Hannah Ware (father character had a terrible fake accent) was, frankly, a ridiculous thing to base the film around. Again, this film is ultimately just another example of a videogame franchise not converting well in to the film medium.One of the co-writers, Skip Woods, was involved in the 2007 film Hitman starring Timothy Olyvant and should have known better. I can only recommend this if you like mindless action films or a massive fan of the game character. Nobody else would be bothered.


The Mist (2007)

This film was based on Stephen King's novella of the same name. I hadn't heard of the film and so wasn't expecting much quality from it. It starts in a pretty mundane way with two neighbours assessing damage after a storm. But then the action moves to the town where they are buying some supplies from a supermarket when the mist reaches them and presses against the glass. The tension is built up well, without seeing any monsters in the mist. However that changes and we start to see different sorts of monsters in the mist. The way that the monsters are introduced is very clever. I really enjoyed watching this film and found it compulsive right to the end, which surprised me. A cleverly made film with a great cast and a great script. Easily able to recommend this to any horror or Stephen King fans out there. There is a mini series of the same name coming out this year, wonder whether that will be liked?



Skinwalkers (2006)

I was grateful that this film wasn't too long and had good pacing. It is a film about two groups of werewolves, one group live in restraints during the full moons and the other hunt and feed on humans, as traditional for werewolves. Apparently there is a prophecy that the werewolf curse can be ended by the time a special child becomes 13. We learn during the film that he is the child of the leader of the werewolf pack and a human mother, both were unaware of the curse having been shielded from it by their family.
It's all a bit silly as a plot. There are some interesting moments though, good gun fights and it doesn't try to be something it isn't. All of the action scenes seem appropriate to the story. I like the fact that the seemingly middle class grandmother took up a gun without hesitation and started firing like a criminal.
Nothing much of interest here really, no new ideas but it's competently put together and the acting is decent with some beautiful actresses. The title doesn't really relate to the film in my opinion, isn't it a word for a native American belief that there are people who kill wearing the dead skins of animals? Maybe I haven't got that right??


The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

I watched this film via the Virgin Beam app on my phone. I have to say that I enjoyed it immensely, it was a big surprise to me. I passed over it several times wondering what to watch with a bunch of other films and eventually picked it out as the best of a bad bunch, not really expecting to like it much. Ralph Fiennes plays a hotel concierge who is framed for murder by the family of the hotel's dead owner but was set to inherit a very valuable painting called Boy With Apple. The Grand Hotel Budapest appears to be one of several similar hotels in cities all over the world who have a code of behaviour that seems too polite and gentle for the way hotels are today. The plot has many twists and they are all very funny. It's a great film to watch with your feet up and gives you a warm feeling.


Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Human Centipede (2009)

I have seen these films out of sequence. That's okay though because they can be watched as standalone films or put together (there are 3 films in the sequence I believe). This film revolves around a retired German surgeon famous for separating conjoined twins whilst working. Now in retirement, he seems to have gone mad and after a failed experiment to create a "3 Dog" out of his 3 Dachsunds, his ambition is to create a human centipede. But where are the people who would agree to this? Nowhere because who in their right mind would agree to have their mouth sown to another person's anus? This film is completely bonkers but is entertaining in a sick way. I don't know if I've watched a cut version or not, probably as it was a TV broadcast. The doctor playing the German plays it very well and infact all the actors portray their characters believably. This is a decent film in my opinion and one that should be watched but probably not by all. The idea if it is quite offensive.


House on Haunted Hill (1999)

There are some film remakes that are unrelentingly stupid and others that are quite cool. This one falls firmly into the former category and as far as I can tell is a complete waste of time. The best thing about this is the cast and only that because there are some beautiful women in it. I could easily have turned off after the first fifteen minutes and not been concerned at all what happened to any of the characters. I'd say avoid this film unless you are ill and it is raining outside.
As far as I remember the original film had Vincent Price in it and was very watchable. For this film, I firmly recommend going back to the original.


10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

I really enjoyed this film. I especially liked that it had a great female lead character. You don't know who to trust. A female (played excellently by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is driving away from her husband and has an accident. She wakes up with a drip in her arm and is handcuffed to a bed. She is in a room with no windows and a locked door. Instantly you fear the worst, she has been kidnapped and is going to be tortured or abused by her captors. However, it turns out she has been rescued and is being looked after by her captor, played brilliantly by John Goodman. OR IS SHE?? Great film, easily recommendable.


They Live (1988)

This was a John Carpenter film that I hadn't seen before. A drifter arrives in a new city for him and he finds some work on a building site. A black guy who sees he is homeless takes him back to the shanty town where he also lives. The drifter is intrigued by suspicious activity at a church over the road. He decides to investigate and finds that there is no congregation and the choir singing just comes from a stereo PA system. All is not as it seems in this world, as he discovers when he comes across a box of sunglasses in a dumpster.
The sunglasses reveal another world within our own, a hidden world of alien invaders who live amongst us and plant subliminal messages behind every billboard, on magazines and on TV. He sees these messages starkly in black and white for the first time when he puts on the glasses. He also sees who the aliens are and immediately wants to kill them.
It's an interesting film and includes a great fight sequence between the 2 main characters. Well worth a watch if you like conspiracy theories and stories like The Matrix which challenge what you think you know about the world.



Sunday, July 02, 2017

The Dyatlov Pass Incident (2013)

So this film is apparently based on a real life story of nine Russian hikers who mysteriously all died in the Russian Ural Mountains in the 1950s. Something forced them out of their tents in the early hours and they froze to death. I was intrigued by the title of the film, the true story was something new to me completely.
This film follows a group of US students who are out to make a film exploring the incident. It's an interesting story and is told through TV reports and found footage.
The acting is generally good and believable. It's a solid film and builds up to the climax well. I like the twist at the end of the story. The idea in the film is scary rather than the film itself. I did enjoy it, having said that.

Inhuman Resources (2012)

There is a serial killer on the loose killing CEOs of companies. The film starts by following a young girl called Annabelle who is trying to get a job and who is making money by being a cam girl in the meantime. She is late for a job interview and is waiting by the lift when the door opens and she screams because the CEO of the company has been decapitated and the killer is standing there holding the axe with blood all over his face.
We have to skip forward to the present and Annabelle wakes up chained to a desk with several other people. They learn that they were all involved in the conviction of the serial killer, the man in the lift. The convicted man is their new boss and he makes them transcribe legal documents while torturing and killing them one at a time. He scratches their forehead when they make him angry and when they reach five scratches he kills them.
It's an alarmingly violent film and some scenes are much more graphic than I was expecting, a scene where someone's eyes are dug out is particularly unpleasant. It's a reasonable horror and an interesting twist at the end that I won't spoil.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Amer (2009)

Close ups of eyes. More often than not the eyes look angry. Sometimes I can't tell what expression is supposed to be shown, the crop is just of the eyes. Salt under a bed? An aged, dead old man on a bed. A pocketwatch or a locket, something that seems to let breath escape when it is opened. A frightened child in a room with a latch. The next set of sequences show the young girl as a teenager. The final set of sequences move from teenager to young woman. This film is colourful. Don't expect a plot, this is just visual poetry. I can't describe a story even after seeing it. I can only recommend it for the visuals. I didn't find it scary.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Nailbiter (2013)

This film was more than a little disappointing. A family with an alcoholic mother and three daughters start a journey to pick up her husband/their father from the airport, he is returning from a military tour somewhere. There are storm warnings when they set off. They call in to a village for some gas and the local sheriff is concerned that they should wait out the storm rather than continue on their journey. The mother decides to ignore the warnings and continues. Eventually, they are forced out of their car and head to a farmhouse. The front door doesn't open so they run around to the cellar and head down through the storm door. They get trapped down there. The family who own the farmhouse are some kind of monster family and the girls and their mother become the victims.
The action takes a long time to develop and I wasn't impressed by the special effects. The performance of the daughters wasn't anything special, I felt nothing for them because there was not much backstory to speak of. I can't recommend this film as it was a disappointment.


Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

This film was a surprise watch for me, I hadn't realised what it was about before I started it. Ever since September 11th 2001 one name was the focus of the American international surveillance effort and that name was Osama bin Laden. This film documents the decade long search for him and one female CIA agent's journey from being within a hotel that was blown up to nearly being killed by her car being shot at leaving her house. A close friend was killed following what seemed a breakthrough lead, with a blast happening at a CIA base taking out a number of other agents and members of the military. Eventually though, surveillance suggests a special courier that bin Laden was using was located in Abbottabad in Pakistan. After months of surveillance, that must have seemed like a lifetime, the chances of bin Laden living there are more than 60%. The decision is taken to go in. Radar shielded black hawks are readied. A date is set and they fly in, drop down and infiltrate the compound. You know the rest. The acting is excellent and the story is a good one. I really enjoyed the film and can easily recommend it.


The Devil's Rejects (2005)

This was another film with cartoon-like characters. It was directed and written by Rob Zombie. The police arrive at a family home and shoot it up. The family in residence are wicked and have obviously tortured and killed people there. There is a very tall member of the family (called Tiny, ironically) who is disfigured and gets away at the start and later makes an appearance at the end. The mother of the family gets captured and her son and daughter get away. The mother is locked up in the county police station. The sheriff's brother was killed by the family and he resorts to his own plan to get revenge on the family. One member of the family who wasn't at the farm house for the shoot up was called Captain Spaulding and he wears clown make up though the reason is not clear. The son and daughter and the clown agree to meet up at a safe motel. Before the clown gets there, the siblings take a traveling band hostage and shoot their roadie point blank in the head. The two men in the band get taken away by the son and he leads them to some remote place where he has buried some weapons. The two men try to overpower him but he survives and is too strong or too lucky. He kills them both and returns to the motel. In the mean time in the hotel, one of the women in the band tries to make a run for it and is killed by a vehicle running right through her. The son and daughter are picked up by Captain Spaulding and they head to a town where there is a friend who runs a brothel.
The sheriff enlists the help of two criminals who may have helped him out before. By this time the sheriff has gone mental and he has killed the mother. He wants to hunt the daughter down after he thinks Captain Spaulding and the son are being killed. However, things don't go to plan as Tiny turns up to her rescue. The three remaining family members are all injured but manage to make a getaway in a convertible. They drive until morning when they stop, facing a roadblock. Here they load their weapons and start heading for the roadblock, the police open fire and the film ends with them presumably being shot up.
This film was a lot more entertaining than I had expected. There is some sexual violence in it, which I think must have had some cuts from the film censor, especially in the motel sequences. Overall though, its recommendable on the basis of good acting and a great cast, including the wife of Rob Zombie - Sheri Moon Zombie.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

I watched this film this week and despite myself I found I enjoyed it. It is very much like a cartoon. The violence is way over the top. The colours are vibrant. There don't seem to be any nice characters in this film. It is not explained where the hobo comes from, Rutger Hauer plays the part of the hobo, he jumps off a freight train. The city is under control of a villain called Drake, he acts like a television show host to crowds of followers? There is a lot of cartoon violence in the film, the police are as bad as the criminals. There is a guy walking around with a video camera who wants to film people being beat up, he pays them money to allow themselves to be beaten up. Drake's sons want to control the city through fear and try to be more violent than their father. The hobo rescues a prostitute called Amy from one of the sons. She allows him to sleep in her bed and they become friends. The hobo wants to buy a lawnmower. None of the film really make sense, its one crazy ride. Entertaining while it lasts but one that will leave you wondering what you just saw.


I Spit On Your Grave (2010)

I was aware of the existence of a film of this name from some time in the 1970s and a certain notoriety about it, but I didn't know any real details. Even so, it was with some reluctance I sat down to watch this film because I knew it wasn't going to be an easy watch. I hate to see sexual violence against women and I knew that this film included some.
I think in my mind I had built this film up to be awful and unpleasant and unwatchable. Well I was partly wrong. This is well-made movie and the acting and production quality are good - improving on the original 1970s version in that sense at least. The story concerns a young female writer who wants to spend a few months writing a book in a secluded place where she can enjoy the quiet and the isolation. Her quiet and peaceful world is violated by a gang of thugs and even worse by a wicked police sheriff who controls them. It's a revenge flick, so she gets her revenge. It is less believable in the means that her revenge take and it's best to accept it rather than dwell too much. It's enjoyable to watch the men suffer I must admit. Not one I can universally recommend due to the extreme nature of the sexual violence.


Rabies (2010)

I was surprised by this film. I didn't know it was a slasher film when I began watching it and I didn't know it was the first Israeli horror film. It is set in an Israeli country park which includes some parts that are old mine fields, which conveniently has rusted signs lying on the floor and not visible. It was also a surprise to realise that the film was not going to be about the disease Rabies, although there is a dog in the film - at the beginning at least.
The film's course is quite unpredictable and I enjoyed that aspect the most. The special effects are fairly minor but are done proportionately with the plot. There is a lot of blood but what do you expect for a slasher. You can expect sub plots and murders here. What's interesting is that the protagonists don't seem to be very likeable and end up doing the killing themselves, this is remarkable considering there is a genuine serial killer/bad guy in the film who hardly has any screen time.
An interesting film on many levels.

The Torment (2010) aka The Possession of David O'Reilly

I watched this film a while back, probably in February or March but didn't write it down in my list and forgot about it. But I think it's one to blog about, you see it is not the worst horror film I have seen. The idea of it is good. A young couple are disturbed just as they are about to go to bed by a friend (David) who appears at their door. He has been recently left by his partner and the closeness of their friendship means he is welcome to stay and the two men spend the night talking. They seem to get very little sleep during the whole film. David is seeing evil monsters in the shadows but doesn't admit this to the couple at first. The way the threat emerges is handled really well. We, the audience, think the monsters must be just in David's mind. But by the end of the film they seem very real. It is a decent film but not a mainstream one and it does take a while to get going but I think that's excusable in this case and in the contemporary British setting of the film.

Rogue River (2012)

I watched this film some time last week. I have to admit that I found it watchable even though I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I thought I might. I think the idea was a good one. A young woman drives out into the country after saying goodbye to a young man (I thought he was her partner at first but it turns out to be her brother) to find a spot by a river to drop her fathers ashes into. She's interrupted by a bloke who seems to be a busy-body at first, he tells her he wouldn't advise doing what she's about to. But the encounter swings around and he seems genuine as he helps her to her feet, as she is obviously upset. This bloke is convincing as he helps the young lady, called Mara. The trust builds as she finds her car gone and he offers a lift. She should feel alarm bells ringing but she doesn't. She goes back to his house and meets his wife. They have dinner together and she is offered a bed for the night. She drops a cup or glass after dinner and the wife is seen to deliberately slice Mara's hand open. They insist on treating the wound by stitching it without anaesthetic despite Mara's protests. Man, wouldn't you have just run screaming out way before that point! So Mara basically becomes their prisoner and is subjected to further torture as she tries and fails to escape them. The audience sees some hope as the local cops arrive, they seem authoritative and have doubts about the couple but on their return to the squad car they are shot and killed by the man. Mara's brother turns up and is captured as well. I won't spoil the end. The successful parts of the film work well, the couple certainly are acted very well and are believable. What's less believable is the main character's total lack of stranger danger and he wimpy reaction to everything. This let the film down for me. I like strong female characters and she just wasn't. Probably a fault with the script rather than the actress playing the part.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Human Centipede 2 (2011)

I saw this film last night. Unusually, it is filmed entirely in black and white. It's also unusual in that the first film is watched as a film by the main character and used as a reference by him. It's also unusual in that an actress from the first film plays herself in this film.
This isn't a film I can recommend to anyone. I didn't enjoy it very much but watched it nonetheless. The main characters dialogue is none existent. He has a job as an underground car park attendant. He has a tire iron as a favourite weapon which he swings with abandon but doesn't kill his victims with it. The film doesn't make sense to me but maybe I'm thinking too much about the biological aspects. I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone apart from fans of the first film.


Journey to the far side of the sun (1969)

I watched this film last night for the first time in a long while. I remember it as a classic but watching it again I have to admit there were some parts of it that were a little disappointing now, probably down to the fact of the age of the film and the reliance on models for the special effects. The film is known as Doppelganger in America I think. If you like the live action Gerry Anderson TV series  UFO you will enjoy this film, there are members of the cast who are in both.
I think the main idea of the film is a good one but really I'd have to question whether it is a strong enough idea.



American Sniper (2014)

My wife has been saying I'd enjoy this film for a good few weeks and I finally got round to watching it last weekend. It's based on a true story of a proper cowboy from America who sees the World Trade Centre attacks and decides he has to join up to fight the terrorists abroad so that he can keep his homeland safe. He joins the SEALS. He is a good SEAL and is deployed to Iraq. We watch the film through several tours he completes, each time changing him as a person. War changes us and even when he returns home between tours of duty he can't leave the war. He is a sniper and a good one at that, providing over watch. His nemesis is an Iraqi sniper who also happens to be an Olympic champion shooter. He defeats his nemesis and returns home to retire, his time done. As part of his treatment after returning he visits a veteran centre and instantly enjoys working with vets who are in different states of physical disability. Sadly, the film's ending reveals that he was killed by one of the veterans he was trying to help. A very sad ending really. The funeral convoy was very sad because a lot of ordinary Americans paid their respects to him by lining the roads and highways and saluting him, displaying the American flag.


Wake Wood (2009)

I didn't know what to expect with this film, my expectations were not high but I was pleasantly surprised. It is about a young couple whose daughter tragically gets killed by a vicious dog. They live in a village called Wake Wood and there are a group of people led by some wealthy landowner who are into some kind of pagan ritual. Since the mother of the dead girl can't get over the death of her daughter they offer her the chance of bringing her daughter back for 3 days to say goodbye properly. Well, there are conditions - she has to have been dead for less than a year, she has to stay within the boundary of Wake Wood and stay only for three days. Not everyone is convinced. An older woman in the village suspects something isn't right about it. Well, as you can imagine she is proved right. I won't spoil it but I enjoyed this movie. I liked the pagan abacus-like thing they used to ask questions and I liked Timothy Spall's part in the movie, he played it well. It reminded me of The Wicker Man in the pagan aspects of the film. If you like classic horror, this is a good one to watch.


In Bruges (2008)

It's a shame I hadn't seen this film before but I'm glad I've seen it now. It is the story of two gun men who have been sent to Bruges to lay low for a while. One of the guys accidentally shot and killed a child when a bullet he fired went through the target (who happened to be a priest).
The owner of the hotel they are staying in plays a great part really strongly although she doesn't have a massive part. All of the characters are played really well. It is a comedy thriller and the setting of Bruges looks great. I've been to Bruges so some of the jokes about it are funnier but even if you haven't been I think you'd find it funny. Well worth a watch if you like comedy and thrillers.


Landmine goes click (2015)

Not really what I'd normally call a horror film but more of a thriller than anything else. It is a good film in my opinion. The setting is somewhere in Europe and 3 friends are off on a camping holiday. The attractive blonde girl of the three is loved by one of the men but not the one who she is in a relationship with. I think the man in love with her had sex with her but hasn't told his friend. This forms part of the twist later on. It's a hard film to describe without going into the exact detail of it all.
Most of the film is taken up with the problem that one of the guys happens to have stepped on an old landmine that hadn't been cleared up from the war several years ago (in Serbia?). I'm not sure why it wouldn't just automatically blow him up but I'm not a landmine expert. His male friend abandons them, leaving him with the girl he loves. Now, all seems redeemable when a stranger comes along. However, this stranger is an absolute bastard. He strings them along, promising to help but infact does everything but help. He humiliates the girl and eventually rapes and murders her. All while the guy stands on the landmine. You might assume the film ends there but no. There is an ending. I would have wanted the guy who abandoned them to get his just rewards but no, that wasn't part of the ending, instead it was passing stranger who gets it. I won't spoil it but lets just say it ends quite darkly.
A strange little film that is well made and well scripted. It's difficult to watch at times but I can tell there was good craft on display in making it. The acting is superb. Well worth a watch if you can stomach it.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming (2007)

The star of this film is Rob Lowe, who I have to admit is not one of my favourite actors, however he doesn't do a bad job in this film. He just has to look surprised a lot!
The film is the second in the franchise, the original starred Kevin Bacon I believe, which was released straight to DVD unlike the first film. I can see why really. It's a story about a returning captain from some war in the Middle East I think (I wasn't paying too much attention). He was guarding a checkpoint with a group of soldiers and a van approaches at speed and they panic. It turns out that the van wasn't full of the enemy but they opened fire because it didn't slow down. A young girl steps out of the bullet ridden vehicle and then it blows up and she catches fire. Quite a horrible scene. The van it turns out was an ambush opportunity and the checkpoint is attacked by a rocket grenade. So skip forward several weeks and the captain is back home in the states and seems to be suffering with PTSD as he gets flashbacks. The flashbacks become more and more real and he doesn't understand what they are and why they are so horrific. The story builds from there and doesn't do a bad job. It's watchable but there are few real surprises until the end is revealed. As I say, not a terrible film but one that is not going to impress you with its originality either.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

John Wick (2014)

If you like guns and headshots and fighting then this film will be right up your street. John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves is an anti-hero. He is a professional killer forced out of retirement due to the death of his wife and a chance encounter at a garage where his car is admired by the son of a gang lord. The film follows John Wick as he takes revenge on the gang for what happens next.
There are plenty of inconsequential deaths. Just a horrendous number of killings. It was entertaining and quite a decent film but it is a very simple formula being worked here. If you fancy Keanu then you'll probably love this film. I like the character of the gangster's son, I think that the revenge could have been stretched out a bit longer than it was though. I did like Willam Dafoe's character Marcus in it and would have been happy for more of that to be in the film.
John Wick 2 has recently been released, I wonder what that is like?



The Unfolding (2016)

This was an intriguing little film. Set in England, Dartmoor I think. It follows a guy and his girlfriend for a few days against the backdrop of a world crisis where a nuclear war seems a very real threat.
The guy turns out to be a student of the paranormal, they are staying at an old mansion house but its not a holiday it is a place the guy wants to investigate. We see the story unfold through a multitude of cameras he has set up. the cameras never seem set up in the right place though. During the film the sense of something unfolding is very cleverly built up. It is perhaps a little slow paced but nevertheless the growing sense of fear is well captured. It's a quirky film and won't be to everyone's taste. I don't think it is perfect by any stretch of the imagination but it's not rubbish and deserves a watch at some point. Just don't put it too high on the list!

Alien Covenant (2017)

I saw this film last week.  My expectations were quite high considering it is one of my favourite film franchises and it was directed by the original director of Alien, Ridley Scott. It is set after the events of Prometheus and before Alien.
There are plenty of scenes similar to the other Alien movies and if this is what you like then you will not be disappointed. However, if you want something a bit deeper, like a coherent story with threat and menace involving mankind, corporate corruption, cryogenics and genetic engineering then you can pretty much forget it other than at anything but a superficial level.
My experience of the film was very mixed, I enjoyed the thrill ride while I was watching it. Some of the photography was amazing. But afterwards I just felt that it didn't make any sense at all. I liked Katherine Waterston's character Daniels. She made a good replacement for Sigourney Weaver's Ripley.



Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 (2017)

(D'Oh! After posting this I saw I had already blogged about this film directly after seeing it, I should have realised!)

I took my son to see this film and was very entertained the whole time. I enjoyed the first film a lot. This wasn't up to the same standard but it was a lot closer than I was expecting it to be. Certainly I'd say fans of the first film will not be disappointed. If you are new to the franchise then I think you will still find this a great film. Plenty of action and excitement. If you know the backstory of the characters you will get more from the film.


Urban Legend (1998)

This slasher film is almost 20 years old now. That's quite astonishing. I don't remember the film coming out at all. It is an American slasher set on campus of a college. The students affected are murdered according to a series of different urban legends about gruesome killers. I don't know if they are genuine urban legends or fictional ones made up for the film. Urban legends are not something I know much about and I'm certainly not that interested either. The film is completely forgettable, I am witness to that because not more than a week after seeing the film I read the title in my list of films I've watched but I had no recollection of it and had to look it up to remind myself of it. If you want to indulge a desire to watch a campus set slasher then it does the job. Otherwise, there are much better films to watch.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Eurovision 2017

Here is a heads-up that next Saturday will be the date of the finals for the Eurovision Song Context 2017 being held in the Ukraine in the city of Kiev. I enjoy watching the Eurovision every year, as anyone who has read this blog for some time will know.
I can't say I know who the UK entry will be this year but I guarantee that the votes cast will be very low indeed. It will be amusing to see how the UK does actually. "United Kingdom, nil points" might be the chorus ringing out next week!

Robocop 3 (1993)

I had to see the third film in the series after seeing number 2. Unfortunately, number 3 is a much bigger fail than number 2. There isn't much of anything positive to say about this film. Peter Weller is no longer playing Robocop, probably a wise decision. Officer Lewis is still in it though, but (spoiler alert) in this film she gets shot and killed. I was kind of expecting Officer Lewis to be turned into a cyborg police officer as well but that never materialised more to the pity.
The film again uses a child to play a significant role. The violence is toned down a lot compared to the first two films. There is less of a sense of threat about this one. OCP are still the big corporate bad guys and they want to develop a new city in Detroit but they first have to demolish the old and turf out the current residents. The regular police eventually side with the resident activists, as does Robocop after Officer Lewis is gunned down.
No real sense of menace and a strange and confused sub-plot about a warrior from the Japanese company taking over OCP spoil this. The Japanese connection could have been an interesting direction. The new CEO of OCP was disastrously awful as a bad guy.
It just wasn't good and has little to recommend. I'd say this was for die hard Robocop fans only.


Robocop 2 (1990)

A friend recently leant me the Robocop trilogy on Blu Ray and I caught up with films 2 and 3, finally, after many years of seeing the first film. I really enjoyed the first film and would rate it very highly in my all time favourite movies. So I found it interesting where they took the story in Robocop 2.
Some of the themes were the same: big corrupt corporations only looking out for themselves and their profits, no compassion for human feelings, using Alex Murphy like a tool and the regular police being the only ones looking out for each other like family. Murphy's police partner Lewis is still in this one and Peter Weller the original actor who played Robocop in the first film.
This film was better than I was expecting but my expectations were not high, I have to admit. I have seen some pretty bad sequels. This wasn't one of them. On the other hand I thought it could have been a lot better. I didn't like the child actor in it, I thought he played it too much like a Bugsy Malone character. I liked the part played by Belinda Bauer (Dr Juliette Faxx) but I felt that more could have been made of that character's part.
The technology is definitely showing its age now. The movement of Robocop and the swishing noise when he turn his head jerkily just seem a bit silly now. There are some TV commercials and news reports like there are in the original but they are just not as entertaining as in the original.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

The Loved Ones (2009)

I loved this film. It has a great soundtrack and very cool characters. It is a horror film but also has elements of black humour in it too. It has some strong young female characters in it.
It starts with a couple of guys in a car. Turns out they are father and son. I think the son is a relatively new driver. They are driving along chatting away when the driver is distracted a moment. When he looks again at the road someone is standing in the way and he swerves the car and runs off the road and hits a tree. Months later we see the son again with his girlfriend, she drives him home and we learn that the boy's father was killed in the accident. The boy feels his mother blames him.
Later at school, the boy is asked out to the prom by a girl called Lola Stone. He declines the offer politely, saying his girlfriend is taking him. The actress playing the Lola character is awesome, she does a great job of being unhinged. On the afternoon before the prom the boy goes climbing and after a near death experience on a rock face, he lies on the floor exhausted. Suddenly he is grabbed by a stranger (Lola's father as it turns out) and knocked out with a facecloth soaked in some kind of drug. The day gets worse for him as he is later tortured by Lola and her father at their remote home.
Meanwhile there is another story. A friend of the boy is trying to get hitched with a girl who looks like a beautiful vamp, uninterested in everything. He asks her to the prom and she said yes. She is not going to get excited about the prom though, at least not until she gets some alcohol and weed.
I don't quite know why the sub-story was in the film but it was entertaining.
This was written and directed by Sean Byrne and I thought it was an excellent film. Very entertaining and humorous at the same time.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 (2017)

I went to the cinema to see this film with my son on Saturday and we enjoyed it. I enjoyed the first film and the introduction to the characters of that. This time the characters start out together but instead of large old Groot there is Baby Groot, a young sapling. The start credits are cool with E.L.O.'s Mr Blue Sky playing on a stereo as Baby Groot dances and the remaining Guardians are fighting an alien space monster. The pacing was good and it never felt too long for me. There were comedic moments through it all as well as some sad moments but they didn't get too sad or depressing. There was a surprise to see Sylvester Stallone in a small role and even David Hasselhoff. Stan Lee also made an obligatory appearance as a spaceman marooned by three robe wearing strangers. There were some funny moments with Drax and his inability to be anything other than directly literal. Some of the best moments were interplays between Drax and the other characters. Easy to recommend this film to Marvel fans and comedy fans. It's a film that will have replay value on Blu-Ray or DVD.


Estranged (2015)

I watched this film this week. I was very pleasantly surprised to find it was a well made film with a great story to tell. The story concerned a young woman, called January, who is loving life traveling with her boyfriend. However, it all goes wrong when they have a road accident on his scooter.
Injured seriously enough to be confined to a wheelchair with brain damage, January can't remember much of anything before the accident.
She and her boyfriend return to her family home for her recuperation, which turns out to be a stately home that still maintains a servant butler. The family however are not so happy to see her boyfriend. He wants to stay with her but eventually leaves, or is he got rid off? January starts to question why she left the family home to go traveling in the first place. She was gone 6 years, which is an awfully long time. Things are not as they first seem and indeed they get very dark very soon.
The suspense build excellently and the actors do a great job. I thought this was a very intelligent and well made horror and could be something of a classic in the future. Very easy to recommend this to fans of thrillers and horror.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex

I've been slowly building a collection of DVDs for this series, so far I have found volumes 1, 2 and 5. At the weekend I watched volumes 1 and 2 and have to say I was impressed. It is about a crack anti-crime unit called Section 9 who seem to have some kind of government funding. It is set in Japan and the unit is led by a guy with white hair that sticks out around by his ears, sort of like a mad professor. He seems to be the strategic lead but the action based leader seems to be a female they call the Major. She has had most of her body replaced with cybernetic enhancements. She is the character on the box cover with the impressive breasts. I don't know why she wears the costume she does but she runs around half naked when she isn't inside a spider/tank thing. The series has episodes that link a larger story together and these are interspersed with standalone episodes, hence the stand alone complex. I enjoyed watching them and hope to find the other volumes sometime. All the volumes I've picked up so far have been from charity shops. I don't know what relation this anime series has with the Scarlett Johansson film just recently released, I think the female lead is supposed to be the same Major. I hope to go and see the film this week, so will find out.


Savaged (2013)

My hopes were not high as I put this film on however my low expectations proved to be somewhat misplaced as I did actually enjoy this movie. It starts out reasonably tame as a pretty, deaf lady inherits a lovely old GTO touring car and says goodbye to her sister (I think) before setting off on a road trip. She has a fiancée and is travelling to the West of America to start a new life out there.
On the way she takes several stops and sends the boyfriend selfies from various locations. All is going well until she nearly runs over a native American Indian who staggers out into the road in the middle of the New Mexico desert and collapses.
She pulls over sharply and sees that coming a dirt road off the highway is a pickup and its heading for another native American Indian running. Surprisingly it carries on and runs the guy over, killing him. She screams and backs her car up to try and rescue the guy who made it to the road. Well, she doesn't manage to get away before the pickup pulls up and the guys get out. They are a pretty nasty bunch and kill the other native American Indian and then capture her. She is taken back to their farm and raped as she lies on a filthy bed with barbed wire around her wrists and legs. Very unpleasant.
The remaining part of the film is sort of a revenge slasher. But the twist is that she gets away but is murdered before escaping. However, her body is found and another native American Indian performs a ritual on her and her body becomes possessed by the spirit of an old native Indian chief. This imbues her with the killing skills he had and she sets about getting her revenge on the rapists and murderers.
It was much more of a brutal film than I was expecting. I thought the pacing was excellent and the story was pretty interesting, it kept me interested all the way through as I didn't know what was going to happen next. I can recommend this to horror fans but not to people who don't like to watch violence against women. It's not too graphically visual in that sense but some scenes are not so easy to watch.


Monday, April 17, 2017

13 Eerie

I saw this last night, it is about a group of 6 forensic science students who are attending an island facility with mortuary cadavers in staged situations around the facility to do a practical exam. The examiner and a pot smoking chef are also on site with them.
Things start to go bad when the chef loses two of his chickens from the barbecue. It's all a bit laughable as a zombie film, the island turns out to have once been a bio-research facility housing death-sentence murderers. The zombies mill about wearing the remains of orange boiler suits. They look a bit charred for some reason, possibly due to the chemicals? The students are attacked and some turn into zombies themselves. They are killed in various ways but usually only die with attacks to the head. The examiner strangely enough had a pistol on him and that is used to kill a few off until the magazine runs out.
The ending is left open for a sequel should one ever be funded. I think the film is Canadian and it's the director Lowell Dean's first film. As a film it is all competently directed, the cinematography is decent. It is let down by not being very original and playing safe with the genre. I could recommend it to zombie fans and fans who want a tame midweek horror.



Sunday, April 02, 2017

Hostel part 3 (2011)

I saw this film this week, it was handy that Hostel part 2 was still fresh in my mind. This film wasn't written or directed by Eli Roth like previous ones in the series. It also went straight to DVD upon release. Once you get a series of films you can usually expect the quality to go down and this isn't really an exception to that but it wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be.
I can't say I enjoy the Hostel films because they are all pretty depraved and quite gruesome, this one being no exception. The story concerns a group of young men going on a Batchelor weekend to Las Vegas I think. It's all been set up by the Best Man, he arranges a party somewhere out of town with a couple of prostitutes. The next morning when they get back together one of them is missing. One of the prostitutes is also missing. You guessed it. They have become inhabitants of the Hostel. The hostel this time isn't set in Eastern Europe, disappointingly. It is instead set somewhere close to Las Vegas. The plot is very thin to be honest and it doesn't get much better, however the film is well paced and doesn't go on for any longer than it needs to. If you "enjoyed" others in the series, this one shares a number of the familiar tropes but it has slightly less quality than the others in the series. The first film is still the best.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Devil in the woods (2012) (also known as The Barrens)

I watched this film this week. It felt like it was a made for TV movie. The story was about a family going on a camping vacation to heal itself from a trauma of a natural mother dying and being replaced with a new woman. An older teenage daughter interested in smoking and boys and a much young brother who is sad about the loss of his dog who has gone missing. It's a bit of a long drawn out film with the father's behaviour becoming an increasing cause for concern. This is meshed with a story about a devil in the woods. The father thinks the story is real and everyone else doesn't, except one of the forest rangers.
Well, things don't start out vey well and then they get worse. It seems the father was bitten by the family dog and he may have contacted rabies. You'll have to watch the film to decide if he did or not. I thought the acting was good but there just wasn't enough in it to make me scared.