Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Bellflower (2011)

Bellflower directed, written by and starring Evan Glodell isn't for everyone.  It's slow, it's nihilistic, it's gritty and it's dark.  Personally, these are just a few of the reasons why I loved this as much.  So before I start I'll get the ''if you liked such and such then you'll like Bellflower'' comparisons out of the way first, because it really deserves to stand out in its own right but I know from personal experiences comparisons have lead me to checking out certain movies I've come to love.  So if you like Fight Club and Harsh Timesand gritty nihilistic movies then you'll probably enjoy this, also if you like 'hang out' movies like Clerks and Slacker then you might like this (although it's not a comedy), if you like independent films with that proper indie feel then definitely watch this. If you love Mad Max then you need to see it but ultimately, if you like movies that are just a little bit different, full of heart, passion and great film making and performances all round then you need to check this out immediately.

The movie focuses on a group of disillusioned characters.  They're young, like to party and totally slef destructive.  The 2 main characters have a fantasy where they will rule the new world after the Apocalypse, and cruise around in their muscle car with a flame thrower (sounds pretty awesome actually).  Anyway, guy meets girl, girl breaks guys heart and guy hits a downward after a break up with a girl he really thought he had something special with.

That's a basic plot summary, but you need to see the movie to fully appreciate it.  Obviously I can't spoil it for you.

This isn't a nice movie.  It's dark, gritty, nihilistic and every character is living on the outskirts of normal society.  However, the 2 best friends this movie is centered around are extremely likable, even though they are a little crazy and slacking off but trying to make their biggest fantasy a reality (preparing flamethrowers and a muscle car for the Apocalypse is their one positive motivation).  As twisted as they may be though, there is a sweet friendship between them that most people who have a best friend they've known all their life can relate to.  Also, most people have had their heartbroken at some point (fair enough they don't go as insane) but it happens to the best of us.  This makes the movie seem human and realistic and a counterpart to the ultimate, high concept delusional daydream they spend their lives preparing for.  There was also a really tender love story happening for awhile.

It's a low budget movie but in this case it really works to its advantage.  It's carried by amazing performances from every cast member and it's also visually stunning.  Evan Glodell just seems like a natural film maker.  The car is amazing (I read this was built for the movie by the director) and is totally worth all the time spent on it.  The soundtrack is also incredible, lo-fi awesomeness.  Basically, in summary, this is one of the best movies in years.  It's incredible and an instant independent classic that I know I'm going to love for the rest of my life.

The Woman In Black (1989)

Due to the release of the 2012 remake, I felt it worthy to check out the original before the remake - and I'm so glad I did.  This was a really good slow burner, with a dreary atmosphere throughout and when the jump moments arrived, they really had an effect.

The movie focuses on a lawyer, Arthur Kidd, who's just recently started a family.  The newborn baby is interfering with his work life so he's given a chance at getting back into the regards of his boss by handling the minor details for a recently deceased video.  He's sent away to a coastal village for a week to get her affairs in order - but what he uncovers is far more grim than the death of an old woman and he is haunted by a mysterious woman in black as a sinister tale unravels.

The mystery aspect of this movie is engrossing enough to keep it interesting throughout.  If anything you're going to watch on to find out some answers.  However, the addition of the extremely creeper woman in black really provides some creepy moments.  She doesn't speak, she doesn't even move that much, but she looks twisted.  So a strength of the movie is the story and the pay offs from the slow burn.  Another great thing about it is the atmosphere throughout, enhanced by the countryside and seaside location.  Our lead actor does a great job here to, with a descent into paranoia and madness.  There's also aspects of the 'whole village knows something they're not telling you.'

Good or bad as the remake may be, at least it's made people aware of the original and I really hope those who don't like the remake give the original a chance because it really is a gem.  It's engrossing throughout, eerie, creepy, chilling and smart.  Anyone who dismisses horror movies as trash needs to be forced to watch this, because it's a smart horror film and more importantly, it's entertaining.  We'll here this being called a 'supernatural thriller/drama' but trust me, it's ghostly horror at its finest.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Silent Night (2011)

Wow.  This was a blast.  It really was a,lot of fun for a horror fan such as myself in it's brief 3 minutes.  There's not much to say other than watch it.  It only takes 3 minutes of your time and after it's finished it leaves you wanting more.  The atmosphere is amazing, the score is amazing, the make up kicks ass and it really takes the jolliness out of Christmas - unless you get you jollies out of death, which being a horror fan, I do obviously.

I don't know much about the director David Felber, but thanks to Twitter (where I discovered this) then I intend to find out more.  This is yet another great short that deserves some recognition, and I recommend you check it out asap.  Also, check out the other shorts on my blog and show some support to up and coming horror filmmakers.

Monday, 20 February 2012

The Darkness (Video Game, 2007)

OK, so not a movie like I usually do but it still is horror.  The reason I've decided to review a game is because I'm currently on a video game and pro wrestling binge.  I've been more in the mood for these over movies recently, but it's just one of my phases and I promise to be providing you with awesome horror movie reviews again soon.... So... The Darkness?

This isn't an easy game at all.  I'm not great at video games at all, but the reason I gave up on this 6 months ago was out of frustration.  It'll do that to some people, but trust me, the pros defeat the cons. The story of this game is amazing - a mafioso who inherits demonic powers on his 21st birthday - followed by a trail of murder and bizarre adventure in order to eliminate the number one enemy.  It's awesome.  The heart of this game is a classic Mafia story, but it's also shrouded in horror.  It's also a basic shooter, albeit a lazy shooter (in this case not a criticism) but there's also the supernatural elements to violently kill the bad guys and the police, and innocent civilians if you so wish (I did).

The game looks amazing.  It's always dark and representative of the seedy New York criminal underworld, and the travelling by subway adds to the charm of the game, but also the loneliness of the main character.  A level similar to the movie Midnight Meat Train would have gone down a treat if you ask me.

What can I say?  Great game.  I'm not even the biggest gamer but I strongly recommend this.  It's inspired me to play much more games.  I might add horror games to my reviews.  Why not?  Anyway, pick this game up asap.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Humanoids From The Deep (1980)

Creature features are an essential part of horror history.  Throughout the years, creature features have offered us a wide array of 'creatures' that have entertained us for decades, from Gojira to the Creature From the Black Lagoon, some creatures have become landmarks in the history of cinema, and have influenced other creature features throughout the years, whether it is cheap knock offs or new creations.  The 80's was a great era for cheese, and especially in the creature feature sub genre.  In 1980, Humanoids From The Deep, got the decade off to a fun start, and here's why...

This movie is about a group of fish-like, frog-like, creatures causing havoc in a small fishing town.  Not only do they have a thirst for violence, but they're quite horny.  So, to quench their thirst they go on a spree of gory murder, rape and resulting impregnation of scantily clad teenage girls in their 30's.

Sounds tasteless, right?  Well, it isn't exactly tasteful.  If you're going to watch a movie called Humanoids From The Deep then don't go into it expecting standards, morals and a taste.  It's a fun-filled violent thrill ride.  It has a great atmosphere throughout, awesome men-in-rubber-suit monsters, great FX and plenty of boobs and blood to keep everyone happy.  This is an 80's horror gem at it's best.  Just one of many.  Pick it up and have fun.

Movies All Children Should Grow Up With

These are the movies I watched as a young 'un that I still love to this day.  I believe all good parents should get their kids the family friendly ones, then turn a blind eye for the not so family friendly ones as they'll ensure your kid is cool growing up.  So take away their mediocre Call of Duty and cigarettes and present them with these movies so, as Bruce Buffer would say, let's get ready to RUUUUUMMMBBBLLLLEEEEEEE!!!

When I was a kid, video games weren't as popular as they are now.  I mean, we had the Playstation when I was 7 and enjoyed Nintendo and Sega, but my friends and I used to like climbing trees, playing  characters from the games and movies we loved and all round, being awesome.  Monster Squad is the film that represents all my childhood fantasies - saving my town from monsters.  I grew up with this after begging my mother to rent it for me, and she did.  I watched it over and over.  As a kid it's great because it blows your mind, and adults can enjoy it because it blows your mind but your mature years mean you understand the naughty words and hot sister.

I love Monster Squad to this day.  I even proudly own a ''Wolfman's Got Nards'' t-shirt.  I wear it as much as I can without my hygiene becoming a cause for concern and ladies want to get with me and men want to be me (they don't tell me this but I see it in their eyes).

Clowns are a breed of monster that scare a lot of people, so maybe this isn't for everyone.  I've always loved clowns, especially the murderous type, and this movie is the best clown movie, and one of the best movies in the history of cinema.  My friends brother showed my friend and I this when we were younger as an attempt to scare us, but it was quite the opposite.  We were sick kids and we dug it.

Sure, it's not a children's movie, but I'd show it to my kids and some day, I will if I ever have any.  It's hilarious, it's fun and it's cartoony.  What's not to love?  I treasure this movie so much.  If anyone tried to steal my DVD I would kill them.  That's how much I love it.  Everything about it is great.  The clowns look awesome.  The atmosphere is all 80's and circus-y.  It's just the perfect film.  Bring on the sequel.

Halloween was never about trick or treating for me.  I loved Halloween because of all the awesome TV, the belief I had in the supernatural and the eerie feeling in the air as a result of my beliefs.  However, what I loved most was Hocus Pocus being on television.  It's a movie about witches, starring a real life witch disguised as an actress called Sarah Jessica Parker.  The concept of this is horror at its purest, but the execution is friendly enough for the whole family.  It's a fun movie that's hard not to enjoy, even now as I type this as a 22 year old adult.  I watch this around Halloween time every year to this day.

Amazing movie accompanied by an amazing video game.  Small Soldiers is quite twisted at times, but overall it's friendly enough for children.  Maybe they won't look at their toys the same way again, but hey, at least it's not Puppetmaster vs Demonic Toys, right?  Or  Child's Play.  Although I watched Child's Play as a child and it had a positive affect on me... all those people I killed deserved it.

The ultimate rainy day movie, the ultimate ''treehouse'' movie and the ultimate adventure movie.  The Goonies, I hope, is discovered by generation after generation because it really is wonderful.  This is the type of movie that you can watch thousands of times in your life time and never get tired of.  It was already a cult classic when I discovered it and I hope it's a cult classic for new generations of warts.

Now this is a TV show, and it's a great TV show.  Unfortunately it's hard to find as it's never had a DVD release but it's a classic and you should go out your way to view it.  Every Sunday morning, in the year 1999, I would wake up just to watch this.  The story was about the adventures of school stud and werewolf Tommy Dawkins, along with his gothic weird sidekick, Merton, as they defended their town from monsters, bullies and other unusual phenomena.

The show might have appealed to kids, but its influences were steeped in horror, sci-fi and pop culture that children probably wouldn't understand.  Usually they dealt with monsters by referring to movies and defeating them the same way the movies did.  There was tributes to The Lost Boys including cameos from Haim and Feldman, as well as tributes to Buffy The Vampire Slayer and much much more.  It was a show that fondly paid homage to a lot of things.  Why not watch the pilot for yourself?

I'll leave it there, ending with the pilot of one of the funnest shows ever to grace television.  However, I'll include a small list of other applicable movies:

Super 8
The Witches
The Little Vampire
Casper & Casper: A Spirited Beginning
Ghostbusters 1 & 2
Mortal Kombat
Little Rascals
South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut


matioAfro Samurai is one of those anime's you could be forgiven for thinking isn't going to be very good.  Others like me see the title and assume it's going to be awesome in a 'so bad it's good' way.  However, it's neither.  Sure, it's basically just sheer entertainment for the sake of entertaining, with lots of violence and humor thrown in for good measure to a certain extent, but in there is also a great story.  It's a simple story of revenge and overcoming the obstacles of being a target, but it's intriguing.

Afro Samurai is a cyberpunk, action, adventure story set in a futuristic feudal Japan.  It begins with our hero witnessing his fathers death as a child at the hands of a man named Justice.  As a result of killing our hero's father, Justice became the number one fighter in the land.  From that day on our hero took on the duty of number 2 fighter in the land, which gives him the right to challenge the number one.  However, being number 2 comes at a price, as the headband he wears to prove it attracts enemies who want to be number 2.  He also has to face bounty hunters, thugs and monks on his quest to be number one, and more importantly, avenge the death of his father.

Afro Samurai combines elements of Blaxploitation and sci-fi with a traditional Japanese Samurai story.   There's modern day technology as well as traditional Samurai swords and settings.  Furthermore, we're treated to a a soundtrack by the greatest producer on Earth, The RZA, who delivers a hybrid of ancient Japanese music intertwined with hip hop. In addition to all that awesomeness, voice talents are provided courtesy of Samuel L. Jackson and Ron Perlman.

There is more style than substance here, but there is a good story to follow.  It really does look amazing, and there is plenty violent action and savvy humor to keep us entertained throughout.  I really wish there was more than one season of this, because it is great fun that you can watch over and over.  If you like anime check it out, if you want to start watching anime but don't know where to start then Afro Samurai I'd say is a good gateway, but it's not for everyone so maybe start with Akira.  It's only 5 episodes, followed by a movie.  There's also a great video game of the series as well I recommend for when you're in the mood for easy going violence.

Lord of Illusions (1995)

This was the last movie Clive Barker directed, which is unfortunate because the world needs all the Clive Barker it can get.  As a writer, he stands out for his originality and ability to write pure horror.  As a director, he's able to convey that on the screen.  For me, his concepts are ingenious.  Take Hellraiser for example.  Or Midnight Meat Train, which you could be forgiven for thinking it is merely what it appears to be.  Clive Barker is a treasure in the world of horror, and I for one am grateful for his existence.

Lord of Illusions is about a detective who stumbles across more than he bargained for while on a run of the mill, routine case, and is drawn into a Los Angeles underbelly of magic, mystic, sects and murder.  He discovers a side of magic much more sinister than mere illusions, and will soon find something even more evil is on its way.  The story begins with a magician named Nix being buried deep underground by his best apprentice but this isn't truly the end, is it?  It's an ambitious story, full of imagination, told violently and bloodily as a nightmare reality continue to unfold through a series of twists and turns.

Horror is often a genre which is only considered to be a work of genius by horror fans.  It's not often a horror movie is considered a genius work of art in the general population.  It's a genre that has more assumptions made about it than any other genre, and people do not consider how wide the spectrum of horror truly is.  Lord of Illusions is a movie I would recommend you show to anyone who ever dismisses horror as 'trash.'  It's a detective story, with elements of film noir as much as a horror film, and like any good detective story, you never know what to expect.  What makes it better than other detective stories is that it's much more fantastical, imaginative and interesting.  It's also a very well made film, which is impressive in it's own right as Barker is more of a writer and painter than he is a film director.

The scenery in this film is often bright and beautiful, which is a significant element due to the darkness of the content.  It really does give you a feel of  'what goes on beneath the surface?'   Furthermore, the acting is great and each cast member does their job selling their character to keep us engrossed in the story.  Scott Bakula is excellent as the lead Harry D'Amour, who for much of the film is carrying it along on his own.  Daniel Von Bargen is sinister as the evil Nix and the rest of the supporting cast as just as convincing in their roles.  If you like detective stories, then there's a great one here for you to wrap your head around, if you want horrifying images and gore then there's plenty of that and if you want an imaginative movie that stands out from the rest then I urge you to pick this one up.  If like me, all of these combined sounds perfect for you then watch it now and I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

From what I've heard this movie gets better with a revisit, so there's no telling how much I'll love it when I watch it again.  First time was a special experience.  It really has left an impression.