Thursday, December 28, 2017

Mirrorless Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3

This week I purchased a new camera from e-Bay, well a secondhand camera but new to me and in pretty good condition. It is just missing the original box, cables and lens hood. I have got compatible cables anyway and I have downloaded the manuals for free. I just need to buy a lens hood and a strap. Shame the lens hood wasn't in the package but it wasn't advertised and I assumed it was something I'd have to buy anyway. A lens hood is not expensive, its just in short supply. Anyway, here is my new baby.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

We Are Still Here (2015)

This film is set in the 1970s but is from 2015. It does capture the 70s quite well, the acting is very good. I wasn't sure what to expect, I thought it must be better than some of the rubbish I've watched recently. It was. It's a story of some evil spirits who inhabit a house in the American countryside. The main couple have recently lost their son and have moved in to try and start a new life. but very quickly things go pear shaped when the woman feels a strange presence in the house who she believes might be the spirit of their son and they invite some friends who believe in the paranormal to stay for the weekend. Things don't go that well for them all and whatever evil inhabits the cellar comes out to wreak vengeance. It's a nice little horror film and one that is easily recommendable, there is some black humour in there as well, which just adds to the enjoyment.

5ive Girls (2006)

This film is set in a reopened Catholic school and involves a group of 5 girls who all have some unique ability but who all have been sent to the school by their dissatisfied parents. Ron Perlman plays a priest who tries to teach them, he was at the school when it was originally closed due to the disappearance of a girl. Well, I won't bore you with the plot, the film isn't very good. The story is uninteresting and there really isn't anything to recommend about the film. Ron Perlman looks very uncomfortable and is just not believable as a priest, he obviously knows the film is a dud. The women are all beautiful and that's why they were cast but the script is lacklustre and the effects aren't very good.

Muck (2015)

This film is set in America and starts with some friends escaping from what I would call a swamp but others more familiar with America might call something else. Something has been attacking them in the swamp and they are missing a couple of people, one of the survivors is injured. They find a vacant house and break in. One of the guys goes to find help and the others have to fend off the evil monster attackers. It is very silly and likes to show women in hardly any clothes for no reason at all. The plot is flimsy and uninteresting and the acting is just as bad. There really isn't anything positive I can say, muck by name and muck by nature I'm afraid.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

I saw this film this week, I'd seen part of it before but not all the way through. It is the origin story for the domination of Earth over humans by the apes. It focuses on the story of an ape called Ceaser who is given a drug that stimulates the growth of his brain - or something like that. It makes him much more intelligent than other apes. The make-up and visual effects are vastly improved over the 2001 film. The apes look like apes and not the PG Tips monkey and Michael Jackson. I like the film, it is enjoyable to watch and the pacing and action is very well paced.

The Snowman (2017)

I went to the cinema to see this film. The idea of the film is good, a serial killer called The Snowman is active again and Harry Hole, a police detective from Oslo in Norway has to piece together lots of old case information. It is based on the book by Jo Nesbo, but I've not read the book. The scenery is lovely, part of the film is set in Bergen. I've been to Bergen but it wasn't snowing like it is in this film. I watched the story unfold with some interest but the pacing wasn't good all the way through and the way the film was edited didn't tell the story very well or very engagingly. It picks up at the end but by then a lot of people would probably be turned off.

Satan's Slave (1976)

This is a 1970s independent British horror film that likes to show a breast or two in the way that British film and TV liked to do in the 1970s. There are some good female characters in the film though, Candace Glendenning has a good part. It's a tale of a family who live out in the country and invite their attractive young niece and her parents from the city. It's a bit of a mess plot-wise if I'm honest. Necromancy is practiced by the family but the characters and setting don't quite feel right. The girl's uncle shows absolutely no sense of loss when his brother and his wife are killed in a car accident, he is more interested in sedating his niece. No real sense of time is portrayed in the film and it is quite confusing. If you like independent British horror, such as Hammer and Amicus films this might be up your street, as it has a similar feel but it really isn't very coherent.

The Collection (2012)

Not a very pleasant film, this is from the twisted minds of the people who brought us the equally unpleasant later versions of the SAW franchise. I'm not a great fan of this torture style of film. The Collector who maintains the collection is never revealed and there is no backstory to speak of, even though this is apparently a sequel to The Collector. There are some set pieces that are intended to gross out the audience with their gore and they largely achieve this but there is no real story or plot besides lumbering from set piece to set piece. Not a good film and certainly one I wouldn't recommend.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Ex_Machina (2015)

I really enjoyed this film. I like science fiction films generally and I thought this brought a good story, cast and visual effects together really well. The story is based around the need for a genius programmer to have someone independently verify that he has built a robot that is intelligent and can think and feel for itself. He does this by bringing a gifted worker from his company to his remote home and spend a week with the robot across several daily sessions. The young programmer thinks he has won a competition but the nature of what he will be doing was kept secret from him. The genius has quite a challenging personality compared to the easy going nature of the young worker. There is a latent sense of threat throughout their exchanges that works very well. At the back of your mind during the film it is difficult to reconcile the personality of the genius with the apparent child-like quality of the robot called Ava. It's a great film and very easy to watch. Thoroughly recommend this.

Planet of the apes (2001)

I originally watched this in the cinema at the time it was released and I remember we sat near the back where the speakers were and it was phenomenally loud and I came out with a ringing headache. This time it wasn't so loud and I can actually remember the film. It is the story of a astronaut who is sucked in to a magnetic storm that transfers him to a different version of Earth where apes rule over humans. It is the story of the apes who argue for equal rights and their support for the human astronaut who tries to escape his captivity and return to space. It's a good story and this version isn't a bad one really. It is showing its age a fair amount though, the prosthetics aren't as good as they are today and the later Planet of the apes films have better effects, but saying that it is an entertaining film but the only thing I wasn't keen on was Mark Wahlberg as the main man, I didn't sympathise with his character much at all and ultimately the story depends on this. I think it was down to how he played the part, there was very little chemistry between him and the female characters. General Thade is easily hateful as the mean and vicious general of the apes.

Bridge of Spies (2015)

I enjoyed this cold-war thriller very much when I saw it last weekend during a wet Saturday afternoon, it was a perfect accompaniment to my suffering with a cold! The story is based on a real life story, with the usual Hollywood embellishments that have to accompany a true story to make it entertaining. Not knowing the true story makes it easier to watch I'm sure. Tom Hanks plays the part of a lawyer to represent a man accused of being a Russian spy. I like the way he is portrayed as a normal everyday insurance claim defence lawyer. The actor playing the man accused of being a spy is well acted. There are some nice acting touches where the personality of both of the men shine through during repeated refrains of their dialogue: Tom Hank's character uses the phrase "one one one" several times, which changes to "two two two" at one point and the spy character is asked "do you never worry?" several times to which he replies in a monotone "would it help?". It was only after the film ended that I saw it was directed by Steven Spielberg. I can easily recommend this film to anyone who enjoys thrillers, especially legal and spy oriented ones.

Game of Death (1978)

This film was released five years after Bruce Lee's death in 1973. It features scenes shot by Bruce Lee in 1972 where he fights opponents in the iconic yellow tracksuit. Lee's scenes were shot for a different storyline completely and only 11 minutes of footage from the original film were used in this 1978 version. The original story and the story in this version were very different but somehow I thought the film did hang together just enough to make sense and the score by John Barry was quite good. Despite the difficult challenge of using footage shot for a different film (with same title) and lookalike actors playing Lee's character, this was achieved. The 1978 version of the story is a very simple revenge story, where an actor who is an ex-martial arts fighter is threatened by gangsters led by an old man and he is eventually shot on the set of a film he is making. The gangsters and the girlfriend of the actor all think he is dead, the film even controversially uses actual real footage of Lee's open casket funeral to make this point. But the actor isn't dead, the shot just disfigures his face and he returns to exact his revenge on the gangsters. The last part of the film is the part using the footage shot for the original Game of Death, which was shot in the last surviving wooden pagoda in real life but is supposed to be the upper floors of the Red Pepper Restaurant in this version.
I thought some of the fight scenes were excellent, the original footage is great. The dubbing is not so great and some of the noises are frankly ridiculous but they may be the genuine audio. I didn't like a protracted motorbike scene in a warehouse, I thought it went on far too long and with little point. Other than that I enjoyed it pretty well and would recommend it to fans of Bruce Lee and martial arts films, just remember your not getting Lee's original vision for the story - he would probably hate this version.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Society (1989)

This film became more familiar as I watched it. I remember seeing part of it before but not sure if I have seen all of it in the past. The story follows a well to do society family and in particular the son. His sister's ex-boyfriend tries to tell him something funny is going on with his family but he doesn't believe it. Not until he listens to a tape from a bug planted on his sister. It reveals a secret hidden from him by the people he thought were his family. The society in question are all from rich families and the secret is that they are not human and they do some very strange things with their bodies. It is a body shock horror film and has some sexual overtones. The last part of the film is very strange and will stick in the mind of anyone seeing the film. The special effects are a bit like Spitting Image and not quite good enough to look real. At the time, they might have been OK though. There are some interesting ideas in the film but the casting decisions were a little bit strange.

Containment (2015)

I was very impressed with this small British horror film about the residents of a block of flats who wake one morning up to find themselves quarantined. Their doors and windows have been sealed and won't open. They look through the windows and can see people wearing Hazmat suits and moving in and out of detoxification tents. The guy playing the violent nutcase acts his part very well, it's believable.

Frankenhooker (1990)

I watched this film recently, against my better judgement I should add. While it was awful, I had a certain fondness for the combination of violence and humour found within it. So it isn't all bad. Infact, if you don't expect it to be any good you might even be pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

I took my son to the cinema this weekend to watch a film that we've been looking forward to, it's the third film in the Thor series. I have to confess here that although my son has seen the first films, I haven't seen all of them from start to finish.
The film includes a lot of CGI effects and the humour is in the same vein as Guardians of the Galaxy. It's an entertaining romp that delivers everything fans of Marvel would enjoy. Thor's father Odin returns to Norway to die and with that it leaves Thor and Loki to deal with their exiled sister Hela: the Goddess of Death, played by Cate Blanchett. Hela returns to Asgard to take her seat as heir to the throne. She has ambitions for Asgard to conquer the Nine Realms again, like it emerges that she and Odin ruled them through violence and fear in the past. So Thor, Loki and the last surviving Valkyrie (that captured Thor on a planet ruled by the Grandmaster - played by Jeff Goldblum), eventually try to rescue Asgard from Hela.
There is rarely any sense of threat in this film, which is targeted more at the young than the old, there are a few jokes that are intended for adults. I found it entertaining while I was watching it but ultimately, the only thing I will remember is the use of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song during several key battles. It was a good choice of song but unfortunately had the effect on me of making the battles feel like a music video.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

John Williams vs Hans Zimmer

We went to watch this concert at the South Bank Centre earlier this month and had a great time. The tickets we got were good value because we bought them a long time in advance. The most expensive thing was the wine I bought before the concert!

Performers: London Concert Orchestra, Anthony Inglis conductor
Programme includes: -
John Williams: Jurassic Park; Harry Potter; Star Wars; Superman; ET
Hans Zimmer: Pirates of the Caribbean; The Da Vinci Code; The Dark Knight; Batman Begins; Gladiator; Inception
-and many more

Demons (1985)

I watched this Dario Argento film this week. The lack of a comprehensible plot and terrible overdubbing leave me feeling this was not a good film. There are some girls, some guys, some people who take up the offer of a free evening in an old cinema to watch a film. Someone gets turned into a demon who seems to infect others who also then spread the infection, if that's what it is? There are physical manifestations of the demonic possession, such as growing long nails red eyes and a desire to eat flesh and puke green vomit. All a bit silly and funny, without being scary at all.

Evidence (2013)

I wouldn't really put this into the horror genre of films. It follows some US detectives who specialise in investigations that involve editing video evidence. After a brutal murder scene, with little physical evidence of bodies left due to fire, there are several digital video sources that contain evidence. The killer seems to be a man in a welding mask who attacks victims with a blowtorch burning off their limbs. Quite a gruesome idea really.
One of the victims was funnily enough a documentary film-maker and had a proper video camera on her. Well, we watch most of the film via clips of the relationships between the victims and some of the investigators.
This film was mediocre, not a great example of the found-footage genre. Neither outstandingly bad r very good. One to avoid I think.

Girls against boys (2014)

This was an entertaining but strange little film. A young female student is having a relationship with a married man but he ends the relationship and she is very messed about it. She works in a bar and after work a female co-worker takes her out. They meet three guys, go back to a place two of them live and she kisses one of the men. She then throws up and decides she has to go home. The man and she get a taxi and he asks if he can come in. She doesn't think so but then he turns nasty and forces his way in. He assaults her, the extent of the attack isn't clear, I suspect he raped her. She tries to find the older man but he doesn't want her turning up at his home and jeopardising his relationship with his wife that he is trying to make work again. He misreads the situation completely and stupidly tries to force himself on her, which isn't what she wanted at all. After this episode, the co-worker offers her comfort and takes her to the police to report the crime. However, the police don't seem very interested so the girls take the matter into their own hands, well, at least the co-worker decides to. They go back to the boys apartment with the intention of finding out where the guy who committed the rape lives. Nobody is there but they break in and help themselves to breakfast. The remainder of the film sees them attack and kill the men who did them wrong in various situations. The lead female eventually meets a guy who isn't like the others but he gets killed by the co-worker and the co-worker eventually meets her end at the hands of the lead.
None of the characters in this film really stir up any empathy in me. You sort of want to empathise with female student Shae but she plays the character mostly silently and moodily that it doesn't repay any effort and she ultimately ends up irritating more than anything else. A shame, some interesting scenes but ultimately not very original.

Interview with the vampire (1994)

I've watched this film over several weeks whilst on various train journeys. The premise is that a journalist meets with a vampire who is hundreds of years old and who wants to tell his story. It feels very pretentious and more a vehicle to present Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise as vampires wearing a range of fancy clothes, make-up and hairstyles. It certainly isn't horror. That's about all I really want to say about this film, I carried on through to the end but I wasn't impressed.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Photography course

I've started a free online photography course that lasts a whole year. The course is run by a photographer called Emma Davies who I understand has a reputation as a flower and garden photographer. Her work has won several large awards. The first six weeks of the course are geared towards taking complete novices away from exclusively using Auto mode on to the more creative modes and eventually to fully Manual mode. The remainder of the year is a mystery to me at the moment. While the course is free, it also has a community on Facebook and Instagram where photographs and coursework can be posted and commented on. I started in September and have certainly learned a lot already, filling in some gaps that I had. It's nice to get feedback on my work too. Overall, I'm pleased with how it is going. The course is supported by a couple of workbooks and a companion diary. I'm using the Nikon D5000 camera that I bought last year and the 3 additional lenses I have purchased since. The course is called A Year With My Camera and it is not restricted to the UK, there are people all over the world doing the course which is nice to see in the photographs.

Cassadaga (2011)

Actress Kelen Coleman stars in this strange but entertaining little film as a young, deaf, art teacher called Lily. At the start of the film we see a boy in a dress playing with a puppet doll. He is interrupted when his mother bursts in raging and shouting, she stamps on the doll and makes him take off the dress, which she then cuts up. After she leaves the boy picks up one half of the broken scissors and he enters the kitchen while his mother's back is turned. I think he probably kills her judging by the scream.
The other backstory is that Lily and her sister were brought up by a single parent mother who unfortunately died whilst they were young. She is looking after her sister who we understand is not having such a great time at High School and has been saving up to move them both to Paris. Unfortunately before this happens, her sister is tragically killed when she is hit by a car as she runs across a road not looking and thinking only of the Paris trip.
Lily leaves her job and moves to a place where her mother went to college called Cassadaga. Now, I'm a little murky on whether Cassadaga is a hotel, a university or a village. Lily stays with someone who I think used to be her mother's college tutor. The tutor has a grandson who seems to be a violent young man who keeps himself locked in an upstairs room where he watches violent pornography. It's not clear whether this man and the boy in the first sequence are the same but that was my interpretation.
In rebuilding her life, Lily meets a paramedic via his daughter who is being taught by Lily. The relationship blossoms and they start dating. On one of their first dates they are in a bar discussing the paranormal and the other couple they are with are having an argument about the scientific truth of the paranormal. To try and settle the argument, they decide to visit a spiritualist. Initially turned away until Lily offers to pay $500 for the session on everyone's behalf. They get in. What unfolds is that during the séance Lily is speaking to her sister but another spirit invades and attacks Lily. Lily is attacked several more times by this spirit and each time is shown images that don't make sense. During the course of these attacks, the paramedic boyfriend tries to help. However, he is in a custody battle for his daughter and, when during one of these spirit attacks, his daughter is present - he is forced by his ex-wife to close the relationship. Torn between his daughter and his love interest, he chooses his daughter - unfortunately for Lily! Interspersed with the spirit attacks we see sequences where a man dressed in an apron and wearing a welding mask amputates a woman and strings her up like a marionette with her severed arms and legs re-attached with articulated metal joints.
I won't give any more of the plot away but there is enough in here to know that the film weaves all these different story elements together quite well.
This was quite a decent film in my opinion. Some scary elements, some thrills and some good special effects. The final sequences reveal all and the suspense is kept up quite well. I liked the character Lily, the decision for her to be deaf was a strange one, I wasn't entirely convinced it was portrayed as realistically as it could have been - this was the element I didn't enjoy as much as the suspense. Overall though, I can fairly easily recommend this film to horror and suspense fans.

Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead (2014)

Being a fan of Zombie movies I'm surprised to find that I haven't seen the first film in this series. So I'm joining this franchise for the sequel to the first film, fortunately there is a bit of a recap at the start of the film. It seems to be a group of friends on holiday in a remote cabin in Norway who find some Nazi gold are murdered by Nazi Zombies who are awoken from the dead to get back their gold. So the sequel follows the journey of the only survivor from the group, who has amputated his own arm to save himself from becoming a zombie after he was bitten by one. He wakes up in hospital to find that he two arms. He is also under arrest for the murders of his friends. He is very surprised to find he has two arms, however horrified to see that one arm belongs to General Herzog, leader of the Nazi Zombies.
This is a good romp of a film, however ridiculous, and is great fun to watch. I particularly enjoyed the viciousness of some of the kills. The whole film is done with a tongue in cheek joke style that I liked. The incompetent police department was hilarious. I was not at all sure that the film needed to include three American characters who called themselves the Zombie Squad. It felt like every idea was thrown at the film and entertained when some should have been quality controlled out. Even despite this, the film was more entertaining than it has any right to be. It's similar in tone to Sean of the Dead, so fans of that would probably enjoy it. Fans of zombie films would also enjoy it.

Final Girl (2015)

We are introduced to the tragic circumstances of the main female lead character called Veronica, as she loses her parents early on. A man, I can't remember who, makes the little orphan girl what would seem like a happy life and she accepts. It's not very clear in my memory because it is skipped over very quickly to an older version of the girl, played by Abigail Breslin. She is being trained to defend herself by a shaved headed guy called William. No idea where he comes from or what his relationship to the man who met the young Veronica after the loss of her parents. I don't believe the two men are the same.
A group of young college men have murdered several young blonde women in the woods by hunting them like dogs. They have somehow managed to allude the police after several murders and Veronica is in training to be their next victim - or so they think. It's all quite ridiculous, frankly. The filming is done well, the lighting in the woods is all backlit, so the on screen image is attractive. Especially Abigail in her striking red dress. However, the story as a whole just doesn't make any sense. The boys try to attack Veronica but she has tricks up her sleeve and as she picks them off one by one there is a relief. But a lot of the tension that would have been present is lost because the viewer knows that she's going to defeat them due to her harsh training. Just on the strength of the visuals, I couldn't really recommend this film, it's one for fans of Abigail Breslin but probably nobody else.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Flatliners (2017)

I went to the cinema to watch this re-make of a film from 1990. It's the story of what happens to a group of student doctors who want to experiment with stopping their hearts and resuscitation. It was originally quite a dark film as far as my memory serves me. This new version has some good moments but is ultimately quite a flat affair, sorry for the pun!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

It (2017)

Watched this film this week, the cost was just £4.99 so I bought a massive bucket of Coke Zero to drink while watching the film. I've never read the book so wasn't aware of the story beforehand but that didn't hamper me. I liked the cast of characters although they were all children for the most part. Each character had something likeable about them. I'm not referring to the bullies, they were awful. While not being very scary, it was still a good film. I'm not particularly entertained by clowns and I do find them to be a little bit sinister but I can see why some people may be terrified by the idea behind this tale. The effects were good.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Antiviral (2012)

It's been a few weeks since I've posted an update here. I was away on holiday for most of August and since coming back I've not been focused on watching many films. Hoping to resolve this though and get back into a routine.
I have watched the film Antiviral though. It's a body horror film from the son of David Cronenberg, Brandon Cronenberg. He seems to be a chip off the old block. This was an engaging film, if not one I could say I enjoyed very much. I didn't empathise with the main character enough. The idea is an interesting one, stars are so elevated that even their viral conditions are harvested and rich clients pay to get their infections injected into them. You could buy the same cold as Jennifer Aniston for a price! No appeal in that for me but maybe there are some sickos out there who would go for that? I can recommend to fans of the father, not sure anyone else would enjoy this all that much.

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.