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.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Storm Doris

Storm Doris hit the UK on Thursday 23rd February. One of the reasons I haven't been posting much in this blog has been that ever since then I've been busy with arranging repairs to the garden fence and roof of my house. We also had to postpone the delivery of a dishwasher (which has now gladly arrived and been installed). Getting the garden fences done has given me renewed interest in the garden though. So on Sunday I spent most of the day putting down a new logroll fence in the corner where the cats crap. Instead of it being a zigzag of wonky little fences it is now a semi-circle of loveliness. Storm Doris did cost me a lot of money on getting my main garden fences replaced though and I also couldn't get home when it hit, as I was working away at the time and all the trains were cancelled.

The Photography Show 2017

For 4 days starting last weekend the NEC is host to The Photography Show 2017. It is the first time I've been to the event and I enjoyed it. The only down side to my day was that MCM Comicon was on in the same venue and I didn't see any advertising before I bought my ticket, otherwise I would have bought my son a ticket for MCM while I attended the Photography Show. Next time I will know better. There were a few crossover moments though, with a procession of stormtroopers and other Star Wars characters walking through the show. I missed those as well!
It was my first visit to the show and I didn't spend vast sums of money fortunately. I did buy what I set out to get though, which was a reflector for portraits and a studio tent for product photography. I had a look at a few other stalls and during the morning I attended a Beginner's Masterclass, which had some good talks.

Catacombs 2007

I watched this film recently. I started watching it rather half-heartedly as I was doing something else. The film did not grip me very much and it was over a week later when I felt like returning to it, to finish it off. The story is set in Paris' underground catacombs. Some kind of party event is going on down there illegally and a group of friends decide to explore the catacombs on there own. One member of the group is an American who has only just arrived in Paris.
Much of the film is focused on this one girl as she runs through dark tunnels screaming. It's not particularly original or interesting. Neither is it scary. I didn't like this film very much and felt it was a chore to sit through the whole thing.


Sunday, March 05, 2017

Gantz (anime) 2004

So this week I have been mainly watching the complete anime collection of Gantz, which I recently purchased from CEX down in Brighton during the half term holidays. I had previously bought 3 volumes of the manga Gantz because they were cheap at the time being second hand but all in good condition. I really like the characters and the story of Gantz. It features a collection of people who are about to die under various circumstances who are transferred to a room that has a view of the Tokyo skyline and a large black ball. Inside the ball are suits and weapons and a bald guy who wears an oxygen mask and who never opens his eyes or communicates. Nobody knows what Gantz is and it is not explained. Through the course of the series and transferring knowledge from one group of people - or I should say survivors - to the next we learn a little more each time.
The suits offer protection and give strength but they can be damaged and can fail. Gantz tells the people that their lives are now his and that they have to kill aliens in combat in order to be allowed to return to their lives. They return home after each round but are called back for successive rounds. They have an hour to kill the aliens and those who survive score points and the ones who earn 100 points will be allowed to leave. The weapons they are given are of different types: there is an X-Ray gun, a sniper rifle, shotguns, pistols and a trap gun. They fire light and have a delayed response. The main characters at the start are Kei Kurono, Kato Matsuri and Kei Kishimoto: two young men and a young woman. There is a love triangle between the three of them: Kurono is immediately attracted to Kishimoto but she is infatuated with Kato. In another plot twist, Kishimoto moves in with Kurono and this only serves to further confuse him.
It is an interesting storyline because it's not clear what is going to happen next and how it will end. I understand that the anime goes a different direction than the manga, so I look forward to the manga written by Hiroya Oku. The manga finished in 2013, after starting in 2000.

Husk (2011)

I saw Husk this week. It's a story about a group of friends driving somewhere across America to have a holiday I think. They are in the middle of nowhere when they have a car accident. On either side of the road are tall corn stalks so they can't see very much. One of the guys is missing when they awake after the car crash. It's the usual horror fair, instead of sticking together they split up or form factions that turn against each other. There are scarecrow/zombie characters as one by one the friends are murdered and in turn become zombies themselves. I didn't think it was scary at all and the story was fairly bland. The movie was professionally shot and put together though so they made an effort, I think it's standard TV film fodder rather than anything worth watching again, so on that basis I can only recommend it as worthy of a single watch.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sexy Killer (2008)

I saw this Italian film this week, it is a comedy-horror: two genres that don't really go very well together despite many attempts. In this same genre I like the Simon Pegg films like the zombie one made (Sean of the Dead).
The main character is a female serial killer who earns the nickname the Campus Killer because she seems to kill where she lives on campus. This film is an outrageous romp, there are lots of murders, lots of blood spurting body parts and a little bit of sex thrown in. To be honest though, it is not very sexy. I also had trouble reading the subtitles because they were white and against some scenes they were unreadable - not the problem of the director though.
The killer thinks she has found a soulmate who enjoys the killing as much as she does but it turns out he was talking about his job as a police pathologist. She thinks he is killing a man in the toilet of a restaurant when infact he is convincing the man to swap clothes and to do this he explains he will get laid with a hot girl. The man looks unconvinced until the pathologist appeals to the nerd qualities of the man, the both exchange a Star Trek salute. The pathologist is not some ordinary guy though, he is also an inventor and has built a device that can display the thoughts of a person or an animal. He has a liquid that can keep the brain of something dead alive a bit longer and he uses both on a fresh victim of the serial killer. This victim was the police detective and although the memory machine doesn't show who the killer is, the liquid somehow turns the police detective into a zombie. He makes the pathologist inject the same liquid into all of the serial killers victims and they then go to a fancy dress house party. The people in fancy dress think that the zombies are other party guests. You can guess the rest.
It didn't live up to the promise of the title but was fast paced and entertaining while it lasted.

Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter (1974)

I saw this film this week. I was looking forward to it because I remembered it was a film I enjoyed as a teenager. I liked the idea of a horror film about a vampire hunter at the time. It was quite different to many vampire films where the female is the victim. Near the start of the film he rescues a woman stuck in the stocks. She is a really beautiful woman (actually, it's Caroline Munro) and she ends up staying with him for a while. Captain Kronos is a war hero but I'm not sure which war he fought in. He has a hunchback professor as a sidekick, he seems to be the brains of the operation and Kronos is the skilled swordsman. They are the perfect match and I'm a bit surprised that they didn't make any more films with these characters. I wonder if they appear in anything else? Such as a comic or a book?
Kronos has been requested to visit a doctor friend who is troubled by the occurence of several young girls from the village who have been found dead but with their blood drained and their faces terribly aged. What I liked about the film as a teenager was that it wasn't just the run of the mill vampire tale. Here there were elements such as the ageing, the professor's knowledge about different kinds of vampire and the dead frog in a box vampire detector (life is restored to the frog if a vampire crosses its path).
The film wasn't quite as exciting as I remembered it as a teenager but I do still enjoy watching it.

Altitude (2010)

This film was one of those featuring annoying American teenagers who find themselves in a situation that means they have to work out their personality differences under extreme stress. The film it reminds me of is Frozen where the characters are stuck on a ski-lift in a closed ski resort with a pack of hungry wolves pacing around below them. This film is improbably set in a small plane piloted by a female student (played by the beautiful Jessica Lowndes) who happens to be the daughter of a general. Actually the detail about the daughter's father seemed a little unnecessary in the end as it didn't have much significance to the plot. There are five of them: the pilot, her boyfriend, a single guy, another female and her boyfriend who plays being an annoying drunk teenager very well. SPOILER ALERT: it turns out that the pilots boyfriend is a sole survivor of a light plane crash that killed both his parents and the female pilot's mother. How the female pilot didn't know this before getting on to the plane is very strange. It does explain his unease, I wouldn't even consider it and I probably wouldn't have chosen her for a girlfriend. He seems to be a bit clingy. She doesn't seem to want him to follow him to college wherever she is going but he has a bus ticket to the place in his rucksack. She finds this out through a tussle later in the film.
The disaster in this film is that a loose bolt in the plane's tailfin elevator
gets under the mechanism jamming it up. they fly in to a storm and then experience a supernatural being in the air that is out to kill them. This entity seems to be in the imagination of the pilot's boyfriend. They discover this because she bought him a copy of a comic where the whole plot is drawn out. I know, it is bizarre. I was totally confused during the film. It mixes so many elements and doesn't really do any story element justice. There is some hint of love between the single guy and the drunk's girlfriend. But he drops from the plane in an attempt to fix the elevator.
I can't really recommend this film.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Hostel: Part II (2007)

I saw the first Hostel film on TV some years ago and it surprised me at just how gruesome it was. Having seen the first film, I was prepared for this one. I think actually that the worst scenes in the film were cut from the version I saw but without seeing it all I can't really tell.
Rich people bid for the "privilege" of torturing and killing tourists in Slovakia abducted from a hostel there. The facility where the killings are done is an old factory. This film sees a group of female college students on holiday get abducted. I liked the way that the two American men are depicted, one of the characters seems really intent on having a great time in his torture and killing. He is really vocal about it and the other man seems really unsure and just there because his friend is interested. Things don't quite turn out that way but I won't spoil the plot.
It is certainly well made and acted but the subject matter is pretty awful and dark. Not a family film, as they say! It's a film I can recommend to those who can watch it without taking it seriously. There is some dark humour in the film but you have to have the stomach for it, to catch it.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

From The Dark (2014)

I watched this film this week and feel this wasn't a bad effort. It starts in the peat bog fields somewhere in Ireland and a man digging out peat logs from a ditch. He hits something hard that looks like a spike. In the ground is a creature of some kind, like a vampire or something. The man reaches into a hole and is pulled into the water in a deep trench. He manages to drag himself out but is injured and has a tear in his neck.
Earlier that same day a young Irish couple are in a car going somewhere they haven't been before. They are lost and end up getting stuck in mud driving along near a field. It turns out that they are close to the peat bog. The man leaves the women alone while he sees if he can find a house to get or ring for help from. He finds a farmhouse and also finds the man with the tear in his neck. He returns to the car and they leave it to go back to the farmhouse.
The man with the tear in his neck has become some kind of flesh eating monster who is sensitive to light. So the rest of the film is about the young couple and their attempts to save themselves from being eaten by the man and the monster from the bog.
The pace is good and the story, while fairly predictable, has a good strong female character and an interesting take on the genre by using sources of light as their defence. It's a good thing that mobiles have torches on them these days is all I can say. On the whole, I can recommend this film to fans of the more traditional horror film.

Scary Or Die (2012)

I watched this film this week and while it had some interesting scenes at times overall I was a little disappointed. It is a series of 5 separate short stories in the style of the films from the 1970s such as those from Amicus Productions (e.g. Tales from the crypt).
The stories are as follows:
1. The Crossing
2. TaeJung's Lament
3. Re-Membered
4. Clowned
5. Lover Come Back
The most interesting of these for me was probably TaeJung's Lament. It seemed to be set in Japan and told the story of a man who had lost his wife. He is lonely and looks longingly at women who remind him of his wife in various bars and locations we see him. In one of these he is sitting on a bench when a group of attractive young women walk past. One of them seems to notice him and smiles. He watches them for a while and is shocked when the one who smiled is taken out by a man who carries her away without the others noticing. He follows the man and interrupts an attempted murder. The woman is grateful and he takes her back to her apartment, she gives him her card and asks him to visit in a week. He returns to the apartment the following week to find it full of the attractive young women who turn out to be vampires. The murderer returns and we discover his name is Van Helsing.
I also liked The Crossing to a degree, the concept is about two low intelligence men who are returning to the Mexico border to send a message to Mexicans attempting to cross illegally into America. They are driving a truck and have kidnapped two men of Mexican origin (however one just had Mexican ancestors), unknown to the female partner of the men who has also come along for the trip. They get the men out of the back of the truck when they arrive at the place. There are already some graves and luggage littered around. They have brough guns with them and are ready to kill the men. The women doesn't agree with this and fights them, during the ensuing struggle the previous murder victims begin raising from the dead. The two men are eaten alive by the zombies and the woman, although injured, gets away. At the end of the story she is seen by two cops stumbling over the ground and one of them with a sniper rifle kills her, believing she is a zombie too.
Clowned was interesting up to a point but very laboured and was much too long.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Lord of the Rings trilogy extended editions

I picked up a bit of a post-Christmas bargain today from a charity shop. They were selling the extended editions of the three films for £1.99 each. They are selling for a lot less now than they were when they first came out but even so, I think it was a bargain. I do have the films anyway but to have the extended editions is still very cool.

Raze (2013)

I watched Raze the other night and without knowing what to expect I was pleasantly surprised. It turned out to be a subversive little film in ways I wasn't expecting. The film was very simply about a group of kidnapped women who are forced to fight to the death in hand to hand combat for the amusement of an odd husband and wife and some wealthy guests. If the women refuse to fight, there are cameras in the homes of people they love and they are told that their loved ones will be killed if they refuse to fight or they lose a fight. It's a very odd film in respect to the story.
There is a lot of violence in the fight scenes but I didn't feel it was ever excessive. It could have been a lot more graphic than it was and the women  keep their clothes on as they fight, I was pleasantly surprised that they weren't sexualised. It's not a film that's going to win awards based on its script because there isn't that much dialogue but what there is is enough to portray the story and keep it moving along. The film isn't over-long and it never lags, so it feels like a nice, compact little movie. I don't know what audience it would appeal to, perhaps one that likes to watch women fight in a ring, fans of Mixed Martial Arts I guess.

Pernicious (2014)

I watched this film this week and was kind of disappointed by it. It features 3 very beautiful women in Thailand who are there to teach English but as soon as they reach their accommodation in the middle of nowhere they come under the spell of an evil spirit. The supernatural element of the film actually misses the horror spot entirely in my view. There is a visit to a witch, which is the least spookiest witch scene I have ever seen. There are some scenes of gore when the women bring some British guys back to their house but even these are a disappointment. Overall, it's largely a missed opportunity to do something original. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that it was an American remake of a genuinely scary Japanese horror film. I can't recommend Pernicious to audiences of either gore films or supernatural films.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Texas Chainsaw (2013)

I watched this film last night and was thoroughly disappointed. The premise might have been interesting, picking up from the end of the original Tobe Hooper film. There were a lot of things to go wrong when picking up such a story beloved by many fans and yup, practically everything went wrong with this.
The family at the farmhouse seemed much larger than I remember and they are shot and burned by a lynch mob led by a man who years later becomes the town mayor. The sheriff is black and seems to have no authority of his own, despite seemingly to have his own strong views it appears that the police department have just three staff - the sheriff, an officer who is there for cannon fodder and a deputy who turns out to be the mayor's son.
The film tries to blend different styles of horror film rather than sticking to the original film's bleak and terrifying style.
I can't recommend this film because it does such as bad job. The actors can't be blamed, the performances are not terrible. The effects are respectable too. It isn't scary though and it tries to soften Leatherface's character, which is a cardinal sin and is ultimately the film's biggest fail. I watched the film in 2D but I understand there is a 3D version. I can't think that a 3D version of the film I just watched would be any better though.

The House by the Cemetery (1981)

Directed by Lucio Fulci who is apparently a respected name amongst gore film fans. I watched this film with increasing confusion as it made less and less sense. There are moments of extreme gore, so if you like skin tearing and blood spurting then you'll like this film. The gore that you see is quite excessive but also obviously fake, so it never feels unwatchable. The dubbing from Italian to English is quite laughable, I assume it is dubbing just because the voice acting is so stilted and wooden. It's not a film worth watching for the plot because the story is really terrible. I don't know if this film is a standalone or part of a genuine story trilogy, if it is it might explain some of the back story I just wasn't getting.
This film seems to suffer terrible translation difficulties. There are lots of funny looks and close-up eyes-only shots. They might have meant something but to me they were laughable. There is a creepy librarian character who is just plain weird but, apart from being weird, seems to play no part in the story. I don't know if this version is a version that has been cut or not, it was a film that originally suffered heavy cutting by the BBFC. It may explain some of the incoherence.
I can't really recommend this to anyone apart from fans of gore films.