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.

Dark Circles (2013)

I watched this film this week and thought it was ok but nothing very unique about it, the jump scares were quite effective. It concerns a young couple who have busy lives in the city, the man is a musician that is about to leave a regular band to go solo. He has a demo to finish and it seems as though success as a solo artist is just around the bend. His partner wants her next project to be a baby and a house in the country where the two of them can enjoy his success, him by composing in his own space and her by renovating the house. Nice plan.
Things don't get off to a good start. He misses the birth and arrives to see the baby in her arms at the hospital, at least her friend was there though. Aside from that, nothing unusual happens until they take the keys and move in to the new house. They find a half-burned and blackened child's doll under the lid of a barbecue in the garden. They don't seem to be able to get rid of it because after putting it in the skip it turns up somewhere else. There are a few of these sort of incidents but neither partner mentions them to the other, frustratingly!
The dark circles relates to their physical degeneration. The baby doesn't sleep. They don't sleep. They have less and less energy to do anything apart from look after baby. This part is done quite well, you do feel for them. The man is always patient but it does drive a stake between them as the resentment builds and he can't compose because he falls asleep. All the time this is happening, both of them feels they are having hallucinations because they think they see a woman in the house or the garden.
Towards the end of the film, after wandering around the local grocery store, at the checkout the man impulsively asks the 19 year old cashier if she can babysit one night to allow him and his wife to sleep. She agrees.
The film is well-crafted and builds but with such a limited story while it does this well, I felt the ending was a bit of an anti-climax. There is a great, chilling moment when the babysitter opens a cupboard in the kitchen but I won't spoil it by revealing what happens. I can recommend this film for a watch but it will resonate more with parents than others.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

A Perfect Getaway (2009)

I watched this film this week and enjoyed it quite a lot. I wasn't really sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. It is a thriller set on an island of Hawaii. There are some couples on holiday who learn of another honeymoon couple who have been murdered via police reports. The story is cleverly told, the viewer is never given all the facts. We seem to learn as the characters learn. There are some great actors in the film, Milla Jovovich for example plays a great part in a very different kind of film than her usual sci-fi ones. The twist at the end is a good one so I won't spoil it. I'd recommend this film to anyone really, especially if you like thrillers.

To The Devil A Daughter (1976)

I watched this film this week and it was an interesting effort from Hammer but ultimately not a vey satisfying one. The story's central character is a nun called Catherine, played by Natasha Kinski, who has been raised by an excommunicated Catholic order in Bavaria I think. The order is led by a priest played by Christopher Lee who is using black magic to bring Asteroth to life, which I understand to be the devil. Catherine's father last name of Beddows, played by Denholm Elliot, has arranged for her to be picked up by a character, last name Verney, played by Richard Widmark. He seems to be a good guy and knows about black magic. In his care, he recognises that Catherine's behaviour is troublesome and begins to understand why Beddows asked him to look after her. In some back story scenes we understand that there was a pact made between the priest and Beddows' wife. The priest and his disciples travel to England with an incubator that we presume contains a baby demon. The point of Catherine is that she is needed to perform some black magic ritual on her 18th birthday, which is why the priest and his disciples have come to England. It transpires that Catherine is under the spell of the priest and he performs some kind of mind control when she is alone. Verney leaves Catherine with friends while he goes to look up some important black magic information that he thinks the priest is aware of but while he's out the spell Catherine is under makes her kill one of his friends and she escapes. So Catherine falls into the priests hands and he can perform the ceremony. One of the priests disciples is seen donating blood, all of her blood infact for the ritual. The ritual is performed in a ruined church and the priest uses the blood to create a protective circle. The ritual starts and Catherine is briefly seen naked. It seems to be that the baby demon climbs inside her through her vagina however I'm not too sure about that. Verney manages to kill a disciple guarding the ritual by cracking him on the skull with a stone he picks up. But the priest thinks he is safe and powerful inside the circle of blood and standing on stone ground made from flint. What he doesn't know though is that Verney learned that he can enter the circle if he carries a flint rock with the blood of the priests disciple on it. Verney attacks the priest with the rock and the film ends with Verney carrying a limp Catherine away to safety outside the circle.
It is a strange, downer of an ending because the viewer is left with the impression that actually Catherine has not really been saved. It is an odd film and one that doesn't leave me feeling like I understood everything in it - I probably have some of the above wrong. It is based on a book by Dennis Wheatley, who apparently didn't like the film because it didn't follow the book and he didn't want Hammer to use any further novels of his in further films.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year, 2017 is here

A wet and cloudy 2017 greeted us today, so its been a rather dark and inauspicious start to the new year. I return to work the day after tomorrow, which will arrive soon enough. I saw the new year in watching the final Harry Potter film in the series Harry Potter and the Deathly Harrows part 2.
Today I have been mostly playing videogames and watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
On New year's eve we visited a restaurant that was new to us for a meal and then we went to see a film, Singing in the Rain - a sad reminder of how beautiful Debbie Reynolds was in her prime but also a classic film. My son and I took our cameras and took some shots, here are a few of mine.
 I wanted to record the Christmas lights before they are taken down and the high streets return to their usual presentation.