Friday, 28 December 2012

Keoma (1976)

A fellow horror lover on IMDB made an interesting post saying that horror movies and spaghetti westerns go hand in hand.  I think it's a fair point and I agree with it to an extent.  There's lots of shared themes in both types of film.  Personally, I don't understand why there isn't more horror/western hybrids.  Think about the Old West as a setting for a horror film.  Why hasn't it been tapped into more.  In fact, why hasn't it be done so often that we're not sitting here right now thinking, ''Oh no!  Not another horror western.''  Anyway, I'll save this topic for my next post, because believe me, I have a LOT to say on it and I hope some high up movie person sees my little insignificant rant and does something to make it a reality.  Until then, I want to talk about Enzo G. Castellari's cult classic, Keoma, starring the original Django, Franco Nero.  This movie is so good that people still consider it a masterpiece in spite of its atrocious soundtrack (which didn't bother me much but I'll admit it wasn't exactly Morricone standards).  This is considered a classic among many fans of spaghetti westerns and after watching it, I understand why.

Nero stars as Keoma, a half-breed who returns to his hometown after serving in the Civil War to find it under the control of a vicious gang, which includes his 3 brothers.  They're pretty mean bastards as they force the sick townspeople into slave labour and treat women with the utmost disrespect to say the least.  It's up to Keoma to save the day and restore order to the town with the help of an old friend.

Apparently, the script was binned before shooting and they all just kinda made this up as they went along.  I can believe that to be the case as the dialogue isn't exactly going to win any awards.  Furthermore, there's no real cohesion to the plot.  It does however make up for those misdemeanours with raw emotion, bleak grittiness, impressive shots, beautiful landscapes, appropriate settings and some fine slow motion, action packed shootouts (the big shootout at the end is fantastic).

I recommend this movie strongly.  In a genre that has spawned countless movies (including a lot of trash), this really stands out.  Watch it now with all of the Django Unchained excitement in the air (Nero has a part in Tarantino's new 'Southern', I believe).

Monday, 24 December 2012

Man With The Iron Fists (2012)

Hey guys.  It's been awhile I know, but I haven't really been watching a lot of horror or cult movies recently.  It's practically been wrestling on my TV screen for a couple of months now, but I'm back to my geeky film habits in time for Christmas and shall get back to my blogging ways.  I figured making my return with one of the most anticipated movies of my life would be appropriate.

I meant what I just said.  No one has looked forward to Man With The Iron Fists more than me.  I'm the world's biggest fan of hip hop, in particular Wu Tang Clan.  So when I heard RZA was directing his first kung fu feature, co-written with Eli Roth and produced by Tarantino, I really couldn't contain my excitement.  I expected a fun, over-the-top, violent movie that was full of pastiche style over substance and that's exactly what I got.  A lot of people are hating on this film and I can see why, but for me it did exactly what I wanted it to do.  To put it plain and simple - it's fun.

This film isn't for the uptight and you definitely need a sense of humor to enjoy it.  I mean, take Russell Crowe's character.  His name is Jack Knife, he refer's to his endowment as the ''baby's arm'' and he gets up to his guts in prostitutes.  Ex wrestler Dave Batista also plays a devastating golden cyborg.  See what I'm getting it?  Personally I loved these elements.  However, there is some real strengths in this movie, especially considering it's RZA's first time directing.  The action is frequent and bloody and although not on the level of the Shaw Brothers, it's still pretty damn good.  RZA as a writer has a great imagination and it's nice to see his ideas on the big screen.  It's completely historically and culturally inaccurate,  it hops along to a hip hop soundtrack and it's a little bit cheesy but I loved it and others who enjoy mindless popcorn flicks probably will get a kick out of it.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The IMDB October Challenge: Day 6

Another successful night.  Once again I watched a masterpiece and my second viewing wasn't too bad either.

Grave Encounters (2007)

I don't really watch a lot of found footage/documentary style horror movies.  It's not because I dislike them (I've enjoyed most of them) but I always find myself just not in the mood to watch them on a regular basis.  I guess it's because I don't get scared ever, so the realism they try and portray does nothing for me except entertain me for 90 mins.  The one documentary style movie I love is The Last Exorcism but it's because of the incredible ending.  After reading so many good reviews about this one I thought maybe I was going to find my next found footage love.  I didn't.  Now, don't get me wrong, it was good but the slow burn could have been just a tad faster and when it exploded, it should have kept upping the ante.  With ghost stories, I want something that gets well and truly demented.  Insidious & The Innkeepers were slow burn masterpieces with some really messed adrenaline fulled finales, but not this.  Sure, it had it's moments but they just felt quite tame.  The ideas I have in my head as to how this would have been better would have made this a masterpiece.  When stuff happened it was good, but they should have kept throwing it at us and showed us a little bit more.  I mean, the villain was a surgeon.  Why not have him put a drill through someones head?  Or have a ghost chopping someone to pieces on a surgical table?  I just watched this wanting stuff that wasn't going to happen to happen.  I want more fucked up moments from movies like this in general.  Overall, it was a good movie.  It's been done before, but it's well executed and does everything right.  This would scare people who weren't sick, demented freaks like me.  7/10

Book of Blood (2009)

Pfft.  Typical.  Just another masterpiece adaptation of a Clive Barker story.  When will they stop with these incredible pieces of cinema?  Never I hope and if any good filmmaker is reading this I have a request - PLEASE MAKE EVERY CLIVE BARKER STORY INTO A STUNNING MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Just like Hellraiser, Lord of Illusions, Nightbreed and Midnight Meat Train, I've fell in love with yet another Clive Barker story (Dread is my next watch).  May I also add that I really enjoy the terrible Underworld flick from the 80's that is of far inferior quality to any other Barker movie.  Anyway, on to Book of Blood.  I was hooked on this from the start until the finish.  From the very first scene I was gripped.  This was so original and just had the right amount of everything when needed (gore, sex, mystery, ghosts..).  I understand this is quite a criticised movie; some reviews have called it generic, etc but I say ignore them.  This movie has moments that will stick with you for the rest of your life.  It's a great story full of imagination brought to screen in a visually stunning way with scenes that you watch with shivers up your spine and joy in your eyes. 9/10

The IMDB October Challenge: Day 5

This was a great day as I discovered an outstanding independent movie and a director whose body of work I bought as a result.  I also watched a fun kill-teens-look-at-boobs movie.  So overall, a fun day.

Lo (2009)

Lo isn't a horror movie in the conventional sense.  Actually, I dare you to watch it and then try and compare it to anything you've ever seen before.  I sure can't and I've watched a lot of horror, comedy, mumblecore and *cough* romantic drama.  Lo is a combination of all of these genres, with a little musical thrown in.

The entire film revolves around a conversation between Justin and the demon, Lo.  Justin has summoned Lo for one reason and one reason only - to bring back the woman he loves from the pits of Hell.  Not once in the entire movie do they leave Justin's living room (not even when there's flashbacks as the stories are projected on the wall of the living room).  We meet one or two other characters along the way (demons of course) and as the story progresses, it takes some surprising turns for Justin.  The movie is also set out like a stage play, which I found worked in its favor as, not only is it very low budget, but it also gives the film more uniqueness and originality.  I haven't seen any of Travis Betz other movies, but I have ordered the full set as every single one of them appeals to me.  I suggest you do the same because he seems like a unique talent and from what I've read about his other movies, he's impossible to pigeonholed.  In a genre where people often complain about lack of originality existing anymore... Travis Betz.  That's originality.  I also recommend his interviews as he's pretty damn funny, but also really insightful.  Lo is a funny, original, bizarre, romantic and ultimately tragic love story that's wrapped in a horror blanket. 9/10.

 Buried Alive (2007)

This is just another run-of-the-mill supernatural slasher that pleasantly passes some time but doesn't leave a lasting impression.  There's some boobs though.  I really did have a good time watching it, but it had the potential to be so much better.  To start with, the killer wasn't really explained at all.  A little more insight into the legend could have made this so much better.  In addition, the characters were quite stupid.  I mean, there's always stupid characters in slashers.  Other than a little incest and some nice boobs, there's nothing to make them memorable past my next drunken weekend.  Anyway, some better deaths would have improved this leaps and bounds.  There was one death that's outstanding though involving a guys face and the ending was pretty spectacular so all in all I give it 7/10.  Watch it to pass the time without thinking.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The IMDB October Challenge: Day 4

This has been an extremely unproductive day, but an extremely enjoyable one as I've discovered some great horror, and one movie in particular which just happens to be one of the best movies I've seen in a long time.

Smiley (2012)

Smiley doesn't exactly break any new ground but it does try to stand out from the pact and offer a fresh concept to the slasher genre.  This could be the Candyman for the Skype generation, so parents, please let your children see this so they become terrified of chat rooms, video calls and all other forms of social networking with strangers on the internet.  For us adults, it's not scary, but it is a fun movie with a lot of ambition and effort oozing from it.  Michael J. Gallagher is definitely a filmmaker to look out for in the future. 6/10

Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

Why isn't there more movies about scarecrows?  Sure, there's a good few of them, but really they should be the new werewolf or vampire.  They should be making romantic movies for tweens with scarecrows instead of vampires and werewolves.  Scarecrows are incredibly cool and super freaky.  Now, I watched this expecting the holy grail of scarecrow movies, but what I got was something completely different.  This was more of a mystery as opposed to the scarecrow hack 'n' slash I was kinda wanting.  However, I still really enjoyed it.  It has a really great atmosphere, a great story and some great performances.  The gore and kills aren't great, but it was 1981 after all.  I also love the fact that the true villains are the humans. 6/10

Slashers (2001)

As you'll soon find out, Maurice Devereaux who wrote and directed this is my new favorite person... but more on that later.  Slashers is a movie I've been meaning to check out for years, but I've just always ended up watching something else instead.  Well, tonight I bit the bullet and the gunpowder tasted great.  This is a fantastic satire on the society in which we live; a society where people are prepared to do almost anything for fame and money while the public watches them humiliate and degrade themselves from the comfort of their living room sofa.  Out of all the movies that have used reality TV as a plot for carnage, this one is the most overlooked.  I really hope they make many sequels to this, but unfortunately the already penned sequel is owned by a now bankrupt company.  Anyway, this is a really fun movie. 7/10

End of the Line (2007)

I just had to save the best one for last.  This movie is the reason why Maurice Devereaux is my new favorite person.  He funded this with his own money and hasn't made anything since because he can't get any studio backing, but this is an independent masterpiece.

Set in a subway, a train full of passengers comes to a halt.  On board, is a group of religious fanatics who await being paged to do ''God's work'' on Judgement day.  Well, they get paged and go on a killing spree believing they are saving the souls of their victims on the night of the Apocalypse.  The pursued victims however, not only have crazed cult fanatics after them, but they fear for their very own sanity.  This is raw, unrestricted, ambitious horror that reminded me of everything I love about the genre in the first place. I really can't praise this enough.  If you like Clive Barker you'll love it.  9/10

Great day overall and I aim to top it as the Challenge progresses.  Please watch End of the Line peeps. I beg you.  It's too good.

The IMDB October Challenge: Day 3

Day 3 was a good one, only with one letdown.  Not every film is going to hit the spot when you're watching them for the first time, but overall 2/3 of the first time watches were lots of fun and revisiting a trustworthy gem made the day a YAY.

The Ambulance (1990)

Another Larry Cohen movie high on fun factor.  Just like another penned Cohen movie, Maniac Cop, the villain in this one is a figure society is supposed to trust (an ambulance, whereas Maniac Cop was a police officer).  Cohen is a genius when it comes to writing stories, and the concept here is truly horrific.  However, the execution isn't utilised to its full potential.  What could have been a truly terrifying movie turns out to be more of a fast paced, fun, action packed romp with great performances from Eric Roberts and James Earl Jones.  The movie gets going quickly and never stops for a breath for the entire duration.  This is mindless popcorn entertainment and like many Cohen movies, extremely overlooked.  7/10/

Asylum Blackout (2011)

Torture porn is pretty hit or miss for me, but like all horror sub genres, it has its good and bad.  Asylum Blackout is an example of when it's good.  The movie is about chefs who work in a mental asylum for the criminally insane who get trapped with the inmates during a storm.  It takes awhile to get into the nasty stuff, which allows us to get to know and care for our characters (well I kinda wanted to see them getting cut to little pieces but a normal human being would feel bad for them).  This had an incredible atmosphere (isolated asylum, lightning storm) and some really nasty scenes.  The gore hound will be one satisfied pooch with this one.  The ending to this is sure to polarise the audience.  I know some people who hated it.  Personally, I enjoyed it for being so unexpected.  7/10 

Werewolf: The Beast Among Us (2012)

I had high hopes for this.  I really wanted this to be good.

After hearing that there was going to be a sequel/reboot to The Wolfman, I was excited.  I loved The Wolfman remake.  It had a great old school vibe but with modern viciousness.  Sure, I wasn't expecting this to be as good but I thought it'd still be a god movie.  Now, don't get me wrong, this had its moments.  The gore was good and the creatures were quite cool, but other than that it was like a man on a mission Syfy movie.  I beg of you not to spend your money on this until it's in a bargain bin.  Is it worth a watch? Yes, but only when there's nothing else on and you don't want to think.  Is it good?  No.  This does have its moments, but overall it's just bland.  Half an hour in I felt like I'd been watching it for an hour.  5/10.

Fright Night (1985)

I revisited this one because my girlfriend rudely interrupted my October Challenge by wanting to spend time with me.  She didn't want to watch any of the movies I wanted to watch, but after telling me she seen the remake (a good one if you ask me) and thought it was excellent, I just had to make her watch the original. She enjoyed it.

Anyway, what can you say about Fright Night?  It's a blast.  I don't regard it as a classic like a lot of horror fans do, and I also prefer the sequel, but I still think it's a hugely enjoyable, funny movie with amazing special effects, great performances and a kick ass soundtrack.  Definitely a movie for this time of year.  7.5/10

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The IMDB October Challenge: Day 2

Day 2 was a slow one for me but I did choose something a little special.  This movie is on Youtube and I shall link you too it.  Extremely bonkers stuff indeed.

The Boxer's Omen (1983)

One of my new missions in life is to watch every Shaw Brothers movie.  It has been ever since I heard them being mentioned in a Wu Tang Clan song, who are one of my favorite musical groups.  I only own one Shaw Brothers movie, and it's a horror/kung fu hybrid called Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires and it's a collaboration with Hammer.  It's fantastic, but leans more towards kung fu than horror.  I expected more kung fu from this, but they've favored the downright weird, disgusting, bizarre train wreck of a movie (I mean that in a good way).  The plot is thin and layered over with lots of great action, cheesy special effects, Buddhist and occult practices and lots of really bizarre, disgusting scenes (including an eel coming out of a guys mouth).  This is on Youtube, so I recommend checking it out.  It's disgusting, funny, weird and insane.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The IMDB October Challenge: Day 1

The IMDB October Challenge is a special time of year for many a horror fan and sparks huge excitement every year.  It allows us to discover new movies, revisit classics and share recommendations with each other.  What it really does though is just give us another excuse to watch horror movies.  October is a special time for many horror fan though, this one included.  I marked day 1 of the October Challenge by watching 3 movies, all of which were first time views.  So without further adieu, I present to you my thoughts.

The Woman In Black (2012)

It was torture trying to pick which movie I wanted to watch first.  After I weighed up my options I managed to narrow it down to ghost movies.  I also had to watch one my girlfriend could enjoy since she was present at the time, so I chose the remake of a movie I really enjoy - The Woman In Black.

It gets off to a great start and has all the elements you need to create a creepy vibe; there's porcelain dolls, creepy little girls and a haunting score.  It's made all the more better when the little girls jump from a window to their deaths.  For the next hour, the movie is almost identical to the original, but afterwards it throws in some extra part of its own and becomes slightly superior to the original, albeit not by much.  I really enjoyed this and I give it a 7/10.  *Insert generic Harry Potter joke.*

The Entity (1982)

Another first time watch.  I know what you're thinking, how can I be a horror fan and only just seen The Entity?  I honestly couldn't tell you.  It's so uncool of me.  Even my mother has seen it.  Anyway, this was a fascinating movie as it was based on supposed actual events.  Despite a sloppy script, this was a thoroughly enjoyable feature that ventured between slightly disturbing and hilarious.  Although I don't condone rape, I think an invisible spirit with the horn is grounds for a kick ass horror movie.

Some of this was hilarious; the psychiatrist seemed to have an obsessive perverted fascination with all things sex.  Any time he talks about sex or asks about it just look at his expression and the look in his eyes and try and keep a straight face.  Anyway, great movie. 8/10.

The Wicker Man (1973)

I'm counting this as a first time viewing because every time I've tried to watch it in the past I've ended up missing it, either by staying up too late to watch it and falling asleep, failing to be home to watch it on television or some other unfortunate circumstances.  I've seen parts but not all of it.  Before I get started I should also mention I love Nic Cage's remake and he's my favorite actor.  The 1973 original however, has become an instant classic to me.

This is just so unique, funny, bizarre and original, all the while being a truly horrifying concept that's sugar coated with gleeful characters, wonderful music, the beauty of mother nature and celebratory nudity.  It's a low budget masterpiece.  Everything about it is just perfect.  10/10.

Overall, a very enjoyable first day to the Challenge.  I'm going to try and beat 31 movies this year due to my neglect of horror the past few weeks.  There's so much movies I intend to discover for the first time, as well as some classics and gems that need a revisit.  I'll keep you all posted here.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Horror Blogger Alliance: Welcome New HBA Members... [08-31-12]

Horror Blogger Alliance: Welcome New HBA Members... [08-31-12]

I'd like to thank the fine folks over at the Horror Blogger Alliance for including me in their family.  There's a lot of good horror fans over there with some great horror blogs, so why not pop over and check them out?

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Grabbers (2012)

Lisa Nolan is a workaholic police officer from the big city who takes a small assignment on a small rural island in Ireland while the chief is on vacation.  Ciaran O'Shea is an alcoholic policeman who starts his days hungover, sometimes in the cells, who works his way towards ending his days intoxicated.  However, when bloodsucking aliens invade the island and start munching on the townsfolk, they are forced to put their differences aside and discover how to beat the creatures.  With the help of the island scientist and the island drunk, they discover that the only way to beat the aliens is to get drunk.  Now all they have to do is convince the islanders to go and get drunk at a free bar the night of a storm.  Surely this isn't a hard task for the Irish stereotype?  Well, it isn't.  What makes this so good though is that it's effectively the Irish taking the mickey out of themselves.  This is hilarious and is a future cult classic in the making.  If you like Tremors, Attack the Block and Shaun of the Dead then you'll love the humor in this gem.  It isn't scary, but it is damn well funny.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Super (2010)

The past few years have seen superhero movies being spewed out more routinely than children for Kerry Katona, and even though most of them are incredible action-packed thrill rides, they don't really offer much in the way of originality. When Matthew Vaughn's Kick Ass came along it was a breath of fresh air as it offered a new kind of superhero; the kind of superhero that everyone has daydreamed of becoming.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who's had fantasies of becoming a masked vigilante from time to time.  James Gunn's Super has been compared to Kick Ass and even accused of ripping it off, however, this was sitting in James Gunn's drawer for years (well before Kick Ass was even a graphic novel).  It's unfair to compare both films though because they're more different than similar; the similarities are the regular guy gone vigilante lead characters and dark humor, but other than that...  Super isn't as mainstream appealing as Kick Ass and it isn't made for a wide audience.  It's made for those of us who enjoy movies with a completely warped sense of humor.  Super is most definitely, warped.

Frank D'Arbo (Rainn Wilson) is a fry chef in a fast food restaurant living a miserable life.  However, things get even more miserable when his drug addict wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for her drug dealer Jacques (Kevin Bacon).  One night Frank has an anime tentacle inspired epiphany from God and decides to become a masked vigilante known as The Crimson Bolt.  His mission is to punish those who do wrong, whether it be selling drugs or raping or even queue skipping.  Ellen Page's character Libby also adopts a role as his sidekick Boltie, and helps him beat up criminals with vicious glee.

Super is a fun, demented movie that doesn't try to be anything other than warped.  This is the type of humor that appeals more to a minority of film fans.  Just when you start slipping into a comfort zone something happens and shifts gear in the blink of an eye.  Almost effortlessly, it shifts between goofy, hilarious and bizarre to graphically violent, dark and disturbing to sentimental and sweet and so on.  At its heart its a comedy, but it's only for the darkest humor.

Super is the product of a love for comic books but it also comes across as somewhat satirical to recent comic book movies.  Since Nolan's Batman, many have went for the gritty approach to make superheroes seem more realistic and true to life.  Well, there's none more true to life than Frank, an inept masked vigilante who beats criminals with a wrench.  The budget restraints also give this movie a gritty look, so perhaps it wasn't intentionally satirical but I can see why people would make that observation.  According to Gunn, who started writing it 9 years prior to it's release, it was a reaction to comic books and not movies.  When this script was in its early stages, comic book movies weren't as huge as they are now.  I think it just goes to show that James Gunn is a talented writer with a great imagination and not some satirist of modern pop culture.

Super is what it is - not for everyone.  It's goofy, dark, violent, sweet, hilarious, bizarre and made for a specific audience.  It comes across as the type of movie Gunn made for himself more than anything.  If you like dark comedy, superhero movies and violence then check it out.  If you hate superhero movies you might like this one because it's unlike any other.  It's demented fun and I for one adore it with all of my black little heart.

Slither (2006)

I remember when Slither was first released.  I was 16 years old and really steadily into my genre film development, especially horror comedy.  This was the time of Eli Roth and Rob Zombie, so R Rated had returned to the mainstream and it was awesome.  When I saw the trailer for Slither was foaming at the mouth with excitement.  It was a special time for me; I was starting to become a film geek, I was discovering beer and I'd even managed to lose my virginity while listening to a Fall Out Boy cd.  Yep, it was a great time, but all the awkward sex and beer didn't compare to Slither (and it still doesn't).  It was hit or miss getting into theatres to see it because I was too young so I didn't risk it.  So I done the next best thing - bought it illegally on video tape.  I loved it instantly and watched it at least 20 times on a piss poor picture.  Thankfully, when the DVD came out I went to HMV and got sold it no problem.  Anyway, Slither was a huge love of my life then and it is still a film I enjoy immensely to this day.  It's no longer the masterpiece I used to think it was when I was 16, but it's still a wonderful entertaining movie that never gets old.  Great setting, disgusting monsters and slugs and a wonderful small town atmosphere, Slither has the ingredients that concoct the meal that feed my fanboy hunger.

Slither is an homage to the horror of the 80's, the sci-fi horror of the 50's, Troma films and B movies in general.  The plot is quite similar to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Night of the Creeps.  Many Creeps fans even bitched about this ''rip-off.''  I'm a Creeps man myself, but this isn't an all out rip-off. Very similar?  Oh yes indeed-y, but it makes it's own disgusting fun.  James Gunn is a horror fan who made a movie for horror fans and paid homage to all the movies that made him a horror fan in the first place.  Michael Rooker plays a squid, Elizabeth Banks is at her all time hottest and Nathan Fillion stars in a lead role.  What's not to love?  There's slugs, Republican hating zombies and buckets of goo.  Sold yet?

According to Gunn, the purpose of Slither was to write a fun, in-your-face gory horror film reminiscent of the 80's classics like Re-Animator, The Fly, Return of the Living Dead, Basketcase and Evil Dead 2.  Gunn stated that he hoped it would pave the way for more horror films to breakthrough into the marketplace.  Slither wasn't exactly a huge financial box office smash though, but I feel it did its part.  Even a small contribution is a contribution, and Gunn would certainly go on to do his part for horror breaking back into the marketplace when he wrote the screenplay for the financially successful Dawn of the Dead remake.  Slither is indeed however his finest achievement (some of you might argue his work with Troma is better but for me Slither wipes the floor with all Troma.  However, his superhero movie Super is an equally great achievement).

Slither is a blast.  Pure and simple.

The Reverend (2012)

The Reverend is a movie made with the intention of stealing my heart it would seem.  To start with, it stars the incredibly hot Emily Booth, who's boobs and horror presenting have graced my screen regularly for years, as well as her roles in some trashy B movie gems like Evil Aliens.  Then there's cameos from Rutger Hauer, who let's face it, is a living GOD to a helluva lot of genre fans, myself included.  There's even a couple of small cameo appearances from horror icon Pinhead, although he goes as his Christian self here.  He might not be rockin' the pins this time, but it's always great to see Doug Bradley (it's just a shame he doesn't get that many major roles as he's a talented actor).  Also in for the ride is Tamer Hassan, a dude I've been a fan of for years.  He's one of the kings of modern day British 'geezer' cinema, and often portrays thugs and hooligans in his flicks, but I really love his work (especially Football Factory).  Tamer is an underrated actor who's unfairly dismissed because of the way he gets typecast, but he's one of the best villains in modern British cinema.  Watching his films you wouldn't think that in real life he's actually an easygoing bubbly character.  Along with Stuart Brennan, he steals the show here.

Stuart Brennan stars as The Reverend, a young man of the cloth, fresh from seminary school, he is assigned to his first parish in a small village in the country.  On the surface the village seems peaceful, but there's a dark criminal underbelly, all ran by Harold Hicks (Hassan).  One night, The Reverend is bitten by a vampire and he is turned into a bloodthirsty fiend himself.  However, instead of using his powers for evil, he uses them to do God's work and clean up the village... by preaching to the churchgoers or by feasting on the criminal muck.

The Reverend is based on a graphic novel of the same name and is unlike other vampire movies.  Here, The Reverend vampire is a good guy and it's the humans that are the evil.  In a way, The Reverend is like a superhero.  Furthermore, there's no vampire cliches like crosses and garlic, as The Reverend uses the cross as his ally.  The Reverend is also indebted to the Western.  It might be set in rural Britain, but it wears its spaghetti influence on its sleeve; The Reverend is the hero who enters the corrupt town and clears out the scum while a blues guitar soundtracks his mission.  Stuart Brennan is great as our unlikely action hero and steals the show.  Tamer Hassan is Tamer Hassan like we've seen him before, albeit with a quaint country dress code.  When you need an intimidating villain in a low budget British film though... Tamer is your man.  I'd love to see him get a chance on a bigger movie.  Emily Booth is both a pleasure and a disappointment; she's as beautiful as ever and her performance shows that she can act outside of splatstick, sleazeball trash.  It's a different role for her and it's nice to see her try something new and do a good job, but she plays a prostitute and doesn't show her marvelous assets.  Some boobage would have been awesome.  Rutger Hauer and Doug Bradley on the other hand are nice to see, but they're only small cameos.  Rutger is the main name being used to market this, so if you buy it for him then you might be let down as he's only in the prologue.

There is some gore here to satisfy your thirst for the red stuff, and there's some pretty cool fight scenes.  It does focus more on story over action though.  Many reviews are criticising this already.  To many this will be a turkey but it's not bad at all.  By no means is it great, but it's an enjoyable way to pass 2 hours.  The ambition perhaps outstretched the budget, but it's pretty decent considering it was shoestring.  

Overall, it's not perfect but it's worth checking out.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal (2012)

It was the title that peaked my interest in this one.  I had heard absolutely nothing about it until the wonderful title screamed at me, ''LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT'' and slapped me in the face.  I had to check this out and I'm so happy I did.  It's perfect; funny, gruesome, original, Stephen McHattie, charming and so wonderfully independent and Canadian it just makes the heart warm.  It's actually a very sweet movie considering the dark content; cannibalism and murder is unacceptable in most societies, but in this film the cannibal isn't a bad guy at all.  He's actually very sweet and simple.  He doesn't know what he's doing.  The true villain is Lars, who is exploiting Eddie because his cannibalism inspires him to paint again and sell his works.  He might be taking advantage of poor Eddie, but Lars isn't a bad guy either.  This is better than you might expect.  It's not a fun, trashy comedy.  It's smart, funny, original and endearing.  This is a cult classic waiting to happen.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010)

Okay so imagine this...

David Lynch, David Cronenberg and Stanley Kubrick all have a little too much to drink one night and even get a little high.  Then they all decide to make a baby.  That baby might very well be Panos Cosmatos and his debut feature, Beyond the Black Rainbow.  It isn't a pretty baby, it isn't a fun baby and it doesn't mix well with others.  It probably has play dates with the little mutant from Eraserhead, and they sit around listening to droning synth music in the dark.  You know where I'm going with this?  I sure as hell don't, but basically what I'm saying is that Beyond the Black Rainbow is a long, slow, weird movie.  It's really artsy, probably pretentious to some and it will bore the Jesus out of the most religious of Christians.  Then there's us genre film geeks... We'll dig it.  I really enjoyed this one but if I went back and watched it again then I'd choose a night time setting.  I watched this on a sunny afternoon after a long day of talking on telephones with people wanting to book chocolate from me (my job is chocolate fountain hires for weddings and events if you're interested).  So, when you watch this, make sure it's dark outside, if you like getting high then get high and try to imagine you're in a bleak quasi-futuristic dystopia.  Or be like me, sitting sober on a sunny afternoon with a glass of lemonade and a cheese and ham toastie.  Either way, it's all good.

It is set in a futuristic 1983.  Held captive by Dr. Barry Nyle in the mysterious Arboria Institute, a young girl tries to escape.  However, the Dr. Byle isn't prepared to part ways with his most treasured creation just set.  As she tries to escape, she discovers the dark secrets of the mysterious prison.

As much as it does remind me of a love child of Lynch, Kubrick and Kronenberg, that's not a bad thing.  Panos Cosmatos has created a film reminiscent of the weird sci-fi of yesteryear.  Very bleak throughout, psychological and grim, Beyond the Rainbow isn't exactly an 'enjoyable' movie.  It isn't fun in the slightest, but if you're in the mood, then it hits the spot.  Visually, it's absolutely stunning and looks like something Kubrick would make if he was inside a realm created by David Lynch with Angelo Badalementi and John Carpenter controlling score duties.  A criticism I have is that sometimes it favors style and surrealism over character development, but I suppose this was done to add to the nightmarish feel.

Even though this sin't for everyone, I think fans of surreal cinema will love it.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Devil's Rock (2011)

Like many horror fans, I love Nazi's.  Well, we don't love real Nazi's, but Nazi's in horror are awesome villains.  I mean, there's not many things in this world more evil than Nazi's, so their ideal for a genre that's meant to scare, shock and disturb.  They're also good for satire and comedy, and when Nazi's are made to look like idiots then that's just as good.  In recent years, Nazi's have been popular in our beloved genre; the Norwegians brought us Dead Snow, where the Nazi's returned from the dead to feed on some skiers.  Another one worth mentioning is Outpost, a very impressive low budget supernatural gem.  2012 has been great for Nazi's, with Iron Sky exposing what really happened after the war and giving us an insight into a grim future where Nazi's will return from the moon (you all think it's a movie... It's prophecy I tell you).  And who could forget the Asylum's Nazi's At The Centre of the Earth?  Once again, those rascals have given the world a timeless piece of art (for them it's actually quite good.  I love those guys).  If you want to see Hitler as a weird robot thing then look no further.  The Devil's Rock, despite a limited theatrical release did not enjoy such recognition and still remains relatively unknown, which is a shame because it's the type of movie you'd like to go to the cinemas and have an option of seeing.  In an era where horror churns out a lot of similar movies, it's great to see a film come along and use a little imagination.  We've seen the occult Nazi thing done before, but it's fresh to see again here.

Paul Campion's full length debut is about 2 soldiers who are sent to the channel islands on the eve of D Day to destroy German gun emplacements in order to distract Hitler's forces from Normandy, only to  discover a Nazi plot to unearth a demon to win the war.  It's not Hellboy though, but many compare it to The Keep.

The Devil's Rock takes 15 minutes to really get going to stick with it.  I wasn't really feeling it until then but when it got going I was hooked.  This is a smart horror movie and I recommend it if you like slow burning horror.  If you want a gorefest then you'll be let down I'm afraid,  It's very dialogue driven and slow paced at times, but the finale is bloody and overall it's a rewarding experience.  It's by no means perfect but I'll watch it again, as I did get a big kick out of it.  I can't wait to see what the director does next, but let's hope he continues to write outside of what's ''current'' and follow his imagination in future.  A lot of effort was put into The Devil's Rock and it is based on real myths.  That's worth watching it alone.

Dark Country (2009)

Thomas Jane once again proves just how underrated and overlooked he is because not only appears in front of the camera here, but he's also the driving force behind it.  This is an excellent low budget feature that shows that Jane has the potential to be a very good director and after watching this I pray he gets behind the camera, as well as in front of it again in future.  Dark Country is a nightmarish, beautifully shot and visually stunning film noir in the vein of The Twilight Zone and David Lynch.  It stars Tomas Jane as Dick and Lauren German as Gina, who are newlyweds on their way from Vegas travelling across the desert highway who are forced to deal with a body.  As the journey progresses twists and turns are aplenty, the mind is well and truly fucked with and it's all done with style.  I've read many views comparing this to David Lynch's Lost Highway and I can see why, but this is a solid feature in its own right.  This is an impressive effort from Thomas Jane and deserves more attention.  It's a mind boggling honeymoon from Hell.

Frontier(s) (2007)

Ahhhh.  The French.  It seems like only yesterday that the French were releasing excellent movie after excellent movie in the world of horror.  It took off big time in 2003 with Alexandre Aja's masterpiece High Tension (but there were others before like Irreversible that turned some heads and churned some stomachs), but since 2008 it hasn't been all of the buzz at all, but it has been influential to this day.  European horror the past couple of years has been making a name for itself, but not a lot has been French recently.  Maybe it's because most of the directors flocked to Hollywood and made some kick ass movies there.  I really love French horror though.  The 'New Wave of French Horror' wasn't unique in its concepts, but it was ultra-extreme in its execution of concepts, visually unique (dare I say even artsy?) and often had a political message or social commentary thrown in.  Frontier(s) is one of the best of a decent bunch of movies from the 'New Wave...'  As great as movies like Martyrs and Inside are... you can't watch them a lot.  Frontier(s) on the other hand is dare I say... fun.  Fucked up yes.  But demented fun.

Frontier(s) starts off as a crime movie following a group of criminals who have just stolen some money and need to escape a riotous Paris.  On their way to the border after they escape the city, the stop at an Inn.  Little do they know that the inn is run by neo-Nazi cannibals who aren't quite as hospitable as your every day bed and breakfast, but probably more so than a lot of Scotland's Premier Inn's.  When the violence starts, we're treated to gruesome torture porn and a demented family of Nazi's.  It's TCM-meets-a Fourth Reich.  The violence is gruesome and visceral and pretty constant, but it's an entertaining gorefest that fails to disturb because of the absurdity and silliness of it all.  The head of the family is quite comical because of how serious he acts.

I'm not criticising though, because it is a great movie.  I'm probably sick in the head for saying this isn't disturbing.  The content isn't for the faint of heart, but there's much worse out there and most horror fans should be able to take this with a pinch of salt.  It's basic torture porn made by a very talented filmmaker.  The political undertones of the movie are apparent, but presented with exaggeration.  The politics of the movie are left wing and the purpose is to highlight right wing politics at their most extreme.  I don't care about that stuff but I know some people do.  I just wanted to see a bunch of people get killed to be honest with you.

Not quite the masterpiece of Aja's High Tension, not as silly as Sheitan and nowhere nearly as disturbing as Inside.  I would place this near the top of the New Wave of French horror though and if you're a gorehound then you should check it out.  I enjoy it, but it is far from perfect. If it had that little something extra then it would be great.

Scarce (2008)

Scarce is the first movie from Foresight Features, co-written, co-directed and starring John Geddes (Exit Humanity) and Jesse T. Cook (Monster Brawl).  Made on a budget of $500,000, it's a splatty, snow-filled gem with a hunger for human flesh.  We've seen this formula before; 3 college guys get the wrong directions from some unfriendly rednecks and end up crashing in the middle of nowhere during a blizzard.  One of the guys breaks his leg as a result of the crash and his friends go looking for help.  Eventually they find a cabin and a welcoming host, but who'd have known their host is a cannibal and along with some other locals, is looking to stock up on meat for the season!  This isn't new ground; Deliverance, TCM, and Wrong Turn come to mind straight away.  However, this is a well made movie with lots of tension, creepy characters and gore.  It sticks to the formula but the execution is more than satisfying.  Throw in some boobs, a lesbian scene and some filthy, trigger happy, cannibal rednecks and you have all the ingredients for a kick ass little horror movie.  Recommended.

Exit Humanity (2011)

The zombie sub genre is the horror equivalent of an electronic music genre known as dubstep.  Just like dubstep, zombies have become so popular that everyone does it at some point.  Just like dubstep, zombies are easy to create.  Basically what I'm trying to say is, there's so much zombie movies out there that it feels overpopulated, the same way dubstep music is stale.  That doesn't mean to they aren't both enjoyable.  I enjoy a good generic zombie movie and I enjoy a good generic bass heavy dubstep track, but I don't go out my way to find either.  However, when something comes along that offers a fresh approach... even just the smallest of changes... then I'm interested.  Enter Exit Humanity, a period piece set in the Civil War period with the undead thrown into the mix.  Made by John Geddes (an exciting independent director along with frequent collaborator Jesse T. Cook, are churning out some ambitious low budget gems with their Foresight Features company), this is his debut solo effort (he co-directed a little gem of a cannibal movie with Cook called Scarce).  Forefront Features is starting to make a little name for itself in the world of indie horror.

Exit Humanity is the third effort from Forefront Features (following Scarce & Monster Brawl) and it goes into totally new territory than the previous productions.  What I love about this company is, that despite shoestring budgets, they like to be a little different.  By no means are they breaking any boundaries, but just a little change here and there can breathe new life into genres that have been done to death.  Take Exit Humanity, instead of going for the gore and scares, it favors a dramatic approach.  By setting it in the Civil War, throwing in some animation and keeping the zombies secondary, it really does stand out as fresh, especially since there's well over 700 zombie films the last time I checked.  Exit Humanity is a drama that focuses on character.  It's slow paced and low on action, but the story is interesting enough to keep it engaging.  It reminded of comparisons such as Dead Birds and Ravenous.

The movie is strong in many departments; the settings and scenery really capture the era that it is set in.  Even more impressive is the comic-book like animation sequences used to show flashbacks.  Those were my favorite scenes in the film.  The performances were all outstanding and featured cameos from Stephen McHattie, Dee Wallace and everyone's favorite Southerner, Bill Moseley.  The script is good, the story is engaging and the characters were strong.  Furthermore, the score is beautiful and really does a lot for the movie.  However, I think it could have benefited from a shorter duration, as a few scenes drag on a little more than they need to.

Overall, this is a good little low budget zombie movie that's worth checking out if you enjoy the zombie sub genre but want to see something new thrown into the mix.  It may be a little too long, but it's not boring.  Geddes is a director with a big future and Forefront Features is a company I support.  They haven't got it perfect yet, but I know they will when their budgets get bigger.  All of their movies so far have been made on shoestring budgets and when you take that into account, there films are pretty damn great.  They make the best of what they have and it pays off.  I can't applaud them enough and can't wait for their future releases.


Sunday, 5 August 2012

Desert Island Films

Hey guys, over at my other blog, I took part in a feature where I chose 8 movies that I would take to a desert island.  It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do but it was a lot of fun.  I just thought I'd inform you all about it in case anyone wanted to take part, as I know Tyson is always looking for participants.  Here's the link for more information:

Also, if anyone is interested, a horror desert island movies list could be fun.  If anyone wants to email me a list of X amount of horror movies they'd take to a desert island, I'd publish it here and make it a feature instead of just my reviews and ramblings.  Let me know if you're interested, and also get in touch with Tyson if you're interested in his.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Dear God No (2012)

Any movie that contains one of the major 'B's' is good in my book, but a movie that contains all 4 of the major 'B's' is a sure fire hit.  The 4 major 'B's' are 'BIKERS,' 'BLOOD,' 'BOOBS' and the most important, 'BIGFOOT.'  In addition to that, there's strippers in Nixon masks, rude hand gestures, slaughtered nuns, bars that serve tampons, rape, killing, swearing, political incorrectness, beards, awful dialogue, terrible acting, Nazis, gore, crazy mad Scientists, beer, drug use, explosions, guns, psychedelia and to top it all off - litter.  That's right, the criminals in this movie even drop litter.  This nasty piece of Grindhouse, exploitation trash is not only bad for our sanity, but it's also bad for the environment.  This isn't one for the whole family to watch.  You really shouldn't watch this with anyone who's easily offended or has a weak heart or bladder.  There's no redeeming qualities, it's flat out nasty and the filmmakers are probably spawned from the bowels of Hell.  Enjoying this means you're an evil sicko.  Personally, I loved it.

Rites of Spring (2011)

I don't really know what my favorite genre of film is, but when I try to figure it out the end result is usually a toss up between horror and crime movies.  Along with comedy, that's probably what I spend most of my time watching.  This movie had all of the 3 (even though it's not a comedy, I'm sick and laughed at parts).  Rites of Spring doesn't break new ground or set new trends, but is what it is and its still a fun ride.  One could be forgiven for thinking it's a Jeepers Creepers ripoff because, you know, the plot looks like a Jeepers Creepers ripoff.  So what is the plot you ask?  I'll tell you.  On the first day of Spring in 1984 and every year since, 5 girls have gone missing and their bodies have never been recovered.  The Midwest setting also gives it a Creepers vibe, but aside from that this movie has its own thing going for it.  It's a slasher at heart with some crime thriller thrown in for good measure.  Like I said, nothing new but its execution of the tried and tested formula makes for an enjoyable experience nonetheless.

The film revolves around 2 plots; on one hand we have your basic creepy old man and monster in a barn terrorising 2 pretty females in preparation for some sort of sacrifice.  On the other hand, you have a kidnapping of a wealthy businessman's daughter by clumsy criminals who want to extort money from a man you shouldn't mess with.  The first half is like 2 different movies happening at the same time, but when it comes together, it works pretty nicely.

Rites of Spring deserves credit for trying to carve its own little niche.  Sure, it isn't new ground but it is ambitious.  It'smore interested in telling a story rather than just splats, jumps and giggles.  I wouldn't call this a throwback either, because it's not trying to homage anything.  It does what is necessary to get its point across.  Many reviews call this a ''throwback'' but when I hear that word I think Hatchet and Chromeskull.  Is there cliches?  You bet.  But come on?  What haven't we seen before?  And there's nothing wrong with it because the execution is good.

Gorehounds will be satisfied but it's not overly sqeamish.  If you have a weak stomach you'll survive this as it focuses more on story and the kills only happen when necessary, but when they do they're satisfying (ever think you're a little sick when you think horror movie kills are ''satisfying?'  Know that I only condone movie murder).  I read that the director wants to do a trilogy, and I think it has the potential to be great.  I really hope we get it.

Overall, it's nothing new but it is ambitious.  It's a good movie that a lot of horror fans will enjoy.  It does however have flaws.  For instance, there's hardly any back story, but if a trilogy does happen then hopefully more will be covered.  I'd still recommend giving it a watch though.

The Tall Man (2012)

When I first read that there was a movie coming out in 2012 called The Tall Man, I leaped from my seat in excitement thinking, ''FINALLY! A PHANTASM SEQUEL!''  Then I read more about it and found out that it wasn't a Phantasm sequel, but I wasn't disappointed because it had a very exciting premise, starred the hot and talented Jessica Biel and had a major supporting role for the always excellent Stephen McHattie.  Furthermore, I love horror movies set in small towns.  Actually, I love most things set in small towns.  I'm happy to admit that I'm a HUGE Gilmore Girls fan.  The Tall Man, with the exception of a hot lead female, has nothing in common with Gilmore Girls though.  Actually, it's like no other movie you'll see for awhile.  I loved it.

This is Pascal Laugier's follow up to Martyrs, and alas we see him break into Hollywood.  However, this is not as brutal as Martyrs, but it does deal with a disturbing concept that has become common in society - child abduction.  The story is set in the small, desolate town of Cold Rock, a town that is suffering not only from economic depression, but the children are going missing and the locals suspect it's a local legend known as, 'The Tall Man.'  Julia (Jessica Biel) is thrust into the mystery when her child is kidnapped in the middle of the night, but all is not as it seems and to say anymore would spoil this movie.  As much as I'd like to talk about all the twists and turns, I really can't.  You need to see this.  Hollywood hasn't made anything this mind-bending and thought provoking for awhile.

Lots of reviews are saying that this is not a horror movie and it's more of a psychological thriller/mystery.  I disagree.  It's by no means an all out horror, and it is more so a thriller, but the concept of children being kidnapped is enough to make it stand as a horror movie.  Furthermore, the atmosphere is creepy throughout.  It's not purely horror, but I think it falls into the category.  Compared to Martyrs though it's tame.

Every single performance is excellent and convincing, from Jessica Biel in a career best performance, to the angry mobs of townsfolk.  There's not a character here who doesn't sell their role.  Laugier's direction is different from his other movies, but it proves that he's got diversity and has an exciting future.  The atmosphere throughout this movie is creepy and almost dreamlike.  The small town location is ideal, with it's grim look and surrounding forest.  The best thing though - the story.  This is truly a case of expect the unexpected and it keeps you guessing until the end.  The premise on paper looks interesting itself, but when you see the film and how it constantly evolves then it's so much better than you'd be led to believe.  At least for me anyway, many will dismiss this as being boring.  Others will herald it as a breath of fresh air.

Strongly recommended.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Triangle (2009)

My Christopher Smith mood hasn't passed yet... Next up is Triangle and to be honest, I don't even know how I'm going to review this.  I'm the type of fella who just types and publishes the first draft.  Everything you see is off the top of my head, so why the hell would I review a movie that goes over most peoples?  I'll do my best but bare in mind I probably won't do it any justice.  Quickly though, if you just want a simple reason to watch then heed my words: this is one mindfuck of a movie that needs to be seen.  This will glue your eyes to your television.  It's twist and turn and twist and turn and one hell of a mystery.  Plus, imagine The Shining and Groundhog Day going to sea, mating and producing a deformed child.... those vibes are in this movie.  This is a horror movie with brains and should be shown to everyone who dismisses horror as trash, mindless or unintelligent genre.  It's unlike any other horror movie I've seen and an ambitious effort from an exciting filmmaker.

The plot on paper is simple, but what you see on the screen isn't as straightforward; a group of friends on a yacht are desperate for help after a storm.  Suddenly, a ship appears and they see someone looking down at them from the deck.  When they get aboard the ship it's empty.  If I say anymore I may give away spoilers, just know what ensures is an unpredictable surreal nightmare and it's friggin' incredible.

The script took Christopher Smith 2 years to write and it really paid off for him.  At the end of his career, this will be the movie he'll probably look back on as his 'masterpiece.'  Or at least one of them, because let's face it, he'll make more.  Any writer who wrote this would be proud of their work though I'd imagine.  It's by no means my 'favorite' Smith movie, but it is the most rewarding to watch as it really challenges me each time I watch it.  Watching this, I gain more than simple enjoyment.  To be honest though, I don't know my favorite Smith movie.

This isn't purely a horror movie.  In fact, it's more mystery than it is horror.  There isn't much in the way of gore and jump scares.  Triangle is a constant evolving nightmare that doesn't let you go.  Visually, it's very dreamlike and surreal.  The cinematography is absolutely stunning.  Melissa George is the central character and practically needs to carry the story on her own.  Her performance should have won a damn Oscar if the Oscars could climb down off their pedastal and admit that horror movies are as much of an art form as any other genre.  It actually amazes me that modern horror movies do not get the artistic credibility they deserve outwith the community considering the imagination that is put into them, along with great writing, directing and performances.  Triangle is smarter than a lot of movies.  Melissa George's performance embodied her character and one flaw from her could have ruined this movie.  She was perfect though, and she made this movie excellent.

Triangle needs to be seen.  NEEDS!  This is a mystery that doesn't stop until the very end.  It keeps throwing you off guard and has you thinking 'WTF' when the end credits role.  So if you want a movie that challenges you then check this one out.  You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Black Death (2010)

Since his debut feature, Creep, in 2004, Christopher Smith has become an exciting name in the world of horror.  When it comes to a Christopher Smith movie you really don't know what to expect.  He's a director who likes to tell a story, and every film he does is like nothing he's ever done before.  Now 4 movies in, he's really proved himself to be a prolific filmmaker who is really passionate about all of his projects.  This shines through in his films and it makes them so much better.  In his 4 movies to date, he's done everything from make us laugh to completely fuck our minds, but when it comes to the horror elements then he really knows what he's doing.  Other than Creep, none of Smith's movies have been solely horror; Severance was a hilarious comedy that managed to maintain a constant unease and tension throughout before going horror on our asses.  Triangle on the other hand was one of the best mysteries I've ever seen and it had me questioning my sanity.  It was so damn trippy.  Black Death isn't a horror movie, but it does have strong horror elements.  What is lacks in horror though, it makes up for in other areas.

Black Death is set in 1348, a time of bubonic plague and religious superstition in England.  It follows a young monk and a group of soldiers who travel to a village that has been reported to be free of plague and not only that, but there are rumors that the dead are being brought back to life.  The young monk has to lead the soldiers to the village, and the duty of the soldiers is to sniff out a Necromancer, kill the residents and do God's work.  The quest to the village is dangerous, but the village might just prove to be their biggest challenge yet and many twists and turns take place, secrets are revealed and all that fun jazz.

Any movie that stars Sean Bean is going to get watched by some for that reason, but it's young Eddie Redmayne who shines as the young monk who believes in mercy.  However, his intentions have selfish motives that are perhaps too human for his comrades to understand.... Of course it's about a girl.  Sean Bean as Ulric is a merciless, hate driven warrior delivering God's message with his sword.  We've seen him play a similar role in Lord of the Rings, but when it comes to a hate driven medieval warrior then who's better than Sean Bean?  I can't remember the last time I watched a movie with him set in a century of technology.

Black Death is deliberately grim, but it is also entertaining and thought provoking.  Their journey is dark and dangerous, plague has devastated the lands and the people and the movie makes sure it captures this element.  However, that doesn't mean it's going to deprive us of a battle scene with the odd decapitation.  Once they reach the village, everything is peaceful and everyone is healthy.  Instead of celebrating it, they assume its magic and seek to capture the one responsible.  However, the villagers are aware of their intentions and everything becomes surreal.  It's also in the village that Smith has his Wicker Man and Herschell Gordon Lewis moments.

I really enjoyed this movie; it has elements of horror, thriller, mystery and man on adventure movies which really blended in a realistic fashion.  This movie wasn't fantastical in any way; it was gritty and realistic.  The movie was heavy on religious superstition and it was thought provoking as a result.  I can'r recommend this one enough.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Hills Have Eyes Series

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Wes Craven's original is regarded as a classic among the horror community, and rightfully so.  It's a very nasty little exploitation movie.  This was way before my time, but I imagine watching this back in the 70's would have been a more rewarding experience for me.  I do thoroughly enjoy it though.  I love most Craven flicks.

I really dig how gritty and bleak this is.  This movie has a black little heart and it only wants to get nasty.  The desert setting is an ideal horror setting; the victims are trapped with nowhere to go and are under constant danger.  This doesn't need a night time climate to let the real horror unravel.

As much as I enjoy this movie, it's not one I regard as a classic but I can see why others do.  Still, damn impressive, eh?

The Hills Have Eyes 2 (1985)

You won't read a lot of good reviews for this on the internet.  Even Craven himself has disowned it.  My question is ''WHY?''  This sequel is a lot of fun, it's trashy, cheap and sometimes cheesy.  This is why horror is so good: I love it when cheesy sequels follow classics.  It's part of the charm of horror.  

This sequel has some decent kills, some nice atmosphere and some truly ridiculous moments.  I consider these strong points.  Sure, this had the potential to be a good, solid sequel but Craven really didn't have his heart in it and instead gave us an unintentionally fun piece of crap with a dog that has flashbacks.  That's a cinematic breakthrough that should be praised.

I'm in the minority, but I like it.  Recommended with beer.

Mind Ripper (1995)

AKA ''The Outpost'' AKA ''The Hills Have Eyes 3''

This doesn't have anything to do with the first two movies, but it was marketed as a sequel and contains.  Craven (who produced this) pulled the plug on naming it in the ''Hills'' series to rename it The Outpost but it's sort of a sequel so we'll count it this time.

The plot: a science experiment goes wrong and a mutant is created, going on a rampage and only Lance Henriksen can stop him.

This isn't a masterpiece, but it's a lot of fun.  I really recommend it if you want some good cheesy fun.  However, if the second one angers you due to love for the first then avoid.  If you like fun cheese then you'll have a hoot with this.

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

This was one of a few remakes in the 2000's that surpassed the original for me (others include Dawn of the Dead, TCM & The Ring).  When it comes to remakes, I can take a little comfort if Aja is attached because so far he's made them better than their respective originals in my opinion (also note Piranha & Mirrors).  Sorry for the blasphemy but it's just my taste.  Maybe it's my ungrateful generation with our MTV and fetish porn?

Aja doesn't stray far from the original storyline at all but what he does do is provide better characters who are likable, a steady build up filled with tension,  nastier looking mutants, stunning cinematography and what us horror fans crave, graphic violence.  I think this remake hit all the right spots to become a modern horror classic and not just an acceptable remake.  I love it.

The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007)

Once again, I'm probably in the minority of those who actually enjoyed this movie, even if it wasn't for the same reasons I enjoyed the original sequel.  This is watchable but not spectacular.  However, even though it lacks the tension and suspense of Aja's remake, it does deliver in terms of kills, gore and body count.

Martin Weisz delivered a solid sequel with some decent actors, gore and some nice ideas, but in the end it wasn't as good as it could have been.  Definitely worth a watch from time to time, but don't go in with high expectations.  As I said, I'm in the minority who enjoyed it.  

So there it is, I like them all but I'm not exactly Roger Ebert.  I found entertainment in the lot of them and that's what matters to me.  If you know what you're getting from each of them then you might enjoy them as well.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Season of the Witch (2011)

How can anyone not love Nic Cage?  Add Ron Perlman to the mix and who knows what you're getting, but it's interesting anyway.  These are 2 legends who tend to venture between the awesome and the awful, and as I'm a fan of both awesome and awful movies, everything they do interests me.  In fact, I'd even call Nic Cage one of my favorite actors.  Season of the Witch is neither awesome or awful, but it's pretty damn entertaining.

It stars Cage and Perlman as shamed knights who have been returned from the Crusades after abandoning their comrades to find the lands devastated by the Black Plague.  The Church believe this to be the work of a witch and they charge the knights with a mission to escort her across mystical wilderness to receive trial.  On their journey, they are faced with more problems than privileges to say the least.  You get the idea.

Season of the Witch is an action/adventure fantasy with some horror elements thrown into the mix.  We've seen it before so we know what to expect.  It offers nothing particularly new but it is entertaining.  It is, however, without flaws; the premise on paper is excellent but the execution of it is above average.  Furthermore, the performances lack strong emotion but are adequate nonetheless.  Also, some of the CGI isn't exactly perfect.  However, considering this was a January movie (in other words crap that the studio wanted rid of), it's a very enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes.  Watching this, I was drawn into the story and I wanted to see how it ended.  The adventure was fun and I enjoyed being a part of it.  One thing that was good about the film was the battle scenes.  They would have been so much better with a little blood and severed limbs, but it was PG-13.  Some of the dialogue was good and cheesy and there was a good sense of fun from the actors, who looked like they were having a good time.  Cage and Perlman had some nice chemistry together and it would be nice to see them work together in  future.

Crtiics and the internet panned this one, but don't listen to them, listen to me - the small minority.  This is entertaining fun and nothing more.  It could have been so much better but it could have been a far lot worse.  I'm proud to have it in my collection for the £3 I spent on it.  If you see it going for cheap then pick it up.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Werewolf: The Beast Among Us Trailer (2012)

Universal's follow up (of sorts) to Joe Johnston's remake of The Wolfman will go straight to disc on October 9th.  I for one am a huge fan of the remake and can't wait for this sequel.  Check out the trailer and see for yourself how great it looks.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Vampires (1998), Vampires: Los Muertos (2002) & Vampires: The Turning (2005)

It puzzles me that horror Westerns aren't popular.  The Old West is an ideal setting for a horror movie and should be utilised more, with decent budgets to execute the concept.  There has been a few entertaining horror Westerns so far, but they've had to work with what they've had and even though some little entertaining gems have come through, they could have been so much more with a little more financial faith.  John Carpenter adapted both genres into his 1998 movie, Vampires and even though it's set in modern day times, it's still a nice amalgamation of the genres.  Actually, if you want my opinion this movie is a classic.

James Woods plays Jack Crow, a vampire hunter who kills the bloodthirsty fiends for the Catholic church.  However, after a job where they clear out a nest, the master vampire Valek comes along and wipes out the whole crew with the exception of Crow and his buddy Montoya, and a bitten hooker with telepathic visions played by the insatiable Sheryl Lee.  They use her visions to hunt down Valek before he gets an ancient amulet that would really spell disaster for the world.

The first thing noticeable in Vampires is the amazing cinematography and setting, which really helps capture the Southwest.  It's the ideal backdrop for a modern Western.  Another strength is the gore.  It's probably his bloodiest film to date, which was probably out of laziness by Carpenter as during this period he felt burn out.  However, even a burnt out Carpenter can deliver a classic and you can tell there was still some enthusiasm put into this.  His casting was great here and I'm glad he gave James Woods the chance to be a bad ass action hero.  Woods delivers here with some amazing lines that are hilarious.  It's a popcorn movie, but it's also a fresh take on the vampire genre.  If this came out today it'd be regarded as fresh.

A fun sequel starring (soft) rock legend Jon Bon Jovi as Derek Bliss, a vampire hunter who needs to stop a vampire princess from getting her hands on the amulet from the first movie.  He's joined by a group of vampire hunters who help feed the hungry vampires with a slice of STAKE!!!

Bon Jovi was surprisingly good in the lead role.  I really enjoyed his performance.  The movie also had some great gore.  Overall, this isn't as good as the first movie but it's a solid, fun sequel that has rewatch value.  Tommy Lee Wallace, who directed this, also directed Fright Night 2 if that helps.  I think he's a good director.  He's not directed a movie since this one though.

Another entertaining sequel that blends kung fu and horror.  It's terrifically paced, action packed and lots of fun.  Considering it's direct-to-video and an obvious cash-in, it still delivers in entertainment value and has an interesting story to go along with it,  I liked it.

Monday, 23 July 2012

The Burning (1981)

A janitor at a summer camp is burned after a prank goes wrong and becomes disfigured.  After being released from hospital, he returns to the camp to take out his frustrations on some pesky teenagers with a pair of hedge clippers.

This is heralded as a classic among slasher fans, and even though I really enjoy it, I think there was much better slashers in the 80's.  There is one moment though that is out of this world amazing where the deranged killer chops up the teenagers on a raft.

I really don't have much to say about this.  For me, it's just a run-of-the-mill slasher that's enjoyable but not spectacular.  It is worth a watch though and has some nice kills.

The Collector (2009)

I need to stop avoiding movies that are advertised as ''From the creators of Saw'' because I might miss out on gems like this (plus the first 2 Saws were good).  A lot of negative reviews also put this film low on my to do list, but finally I bit the bullet and loved the taste of the lead.

The Collector is similar to the Saw franchise in some ways, but it takes what is good about them and crafts a unique movie with a terrific villain.  To start with, the traps used to kill people in this are similar to Jigsaw's from the Saw movies.  However, Saw can always be praised as being a series for gruesome, violent deaths.  The Collector most certainly has gruesome, violent deaths but it doesn't rely on them.  Instead, they're an additional treat in a cat and mouse movie that is full of atmosphere and suspense.  Really it has all the ingredients of a great horror movie about a maniacal murderer; an interesting villain with unique killing methods, a lead character to root for and great kills thrown in the mix.  Furthermore, in addition to the atmosphere and suspense, the film is dark and claustrophobic and isn't apologetic for being so either.  All of these elements are aided by intentionally dirty cinematography that makes it reminiscent of an 80's exploitation film and an in-your-face score that fucks with your mind.  Another great thing about this film is that despite it's unforgiving, relentless horror, it's a fun flick.  If you're not a fan of horror then you're probably going to hate it, but it's the type of film made for the love of horror.  Call it a slasher, call it torture porn, but to me, it's just a fantastic horror movie.

The sequel is out later this year and I for one cannot wait to see it.