Monthly Archives: August 2011

Review: Videodrome

David Cronenberg is always the director to go to for a very unique video experience. He is famous for his fascination with body horror and the squishier side of metamorphosis. This film is no exception and his smart script explores relationship between people and the media they consume.

Max Renn (James Woods) is a partner in a small cable TV network Civic TV who is always looking for something to draw in ratings and he really thinks he has no limits about he’ll show. Harlan, a video technician at the network, shows Max a poor quality distorted signal he recorded that shows a naked woman being tied up and whipped in a red room. Harlan tells Max it’s called Videodrome. Max wants to see more and he gets Harlan to work on it. Later on we find out that nothing Max experiences from this point is entirely reliable.

Max is the guest of TV show talking about the sort of effect Max’s TV station has on its viewers. The other guests are Nick Brand (Deborah Harry) a therapist with her own radio show and Brian O’Blivion who is on a TV screen. After a bit of discussion in which Max drags up the ancient catharsis excuse he turns the discussion to Nicky’s dress and Max chats her up and she responds while the host talks to O’Blivion.

At the Civic TV studio Harlan tells Max he managed to trace the source of the signal. They thought it was coming from some dodgy country with no human rights and it turns out its coming from Pittsburgh (which really doesn’t mean they were wrong in their first thoughts ;-P)

Max meets up with Nicky and they go back to his apartment. Nicky asks about the Videodrome tapes and Max tries to put her off but the more he tells her how bad they are the more Nicky wants to watch them. Max is interested in Videodrome because it shocks him and he wants to shock people but this shows he does have barriers and knows Videodrome crosses them. Nick however is excited by Videodrome and she begs for Max to cut her as they watch the scenes of torture. She expresses a wish to be on the show which really scares Max.

Next day Max meets Masha, an agent who is pushing her client’s soft porn shows. Max isn’t really interested her shows but he asks her to use her industry contacts to see if she can find out more about who makes Videodrome. When Max is with Nicky later that night she tells him she’s going to Pittsburgh on an assignment and she’s going to audition for Videodrome “I was made for that show,” Nicky says. “Nobody on Earth was made for that show,” Max replies and pleads with her to stay away from Videodrome.

At lunch Masha tries hard to persuade Max to forget about Videdrome. She says it’s dangerous and what is shown is real not fake and that it is snuff TV. The only contact name she gives him is Brian O’Blivion. Max goes to O’Blivions Cathode Ray Mission where homeless people come to get fed and to watch television. The idea is that homeless people can get patched in to TV-saturated society. He tries to see meet O’Blivion but only gets to see his daughter Bianca (Sonja Smits)  who promises Max a video from her father.

Max is woken next day by his secretary calling round with his appointments and the video cassette from O’Blivion. Max slaps her and she turns into Nicky and he slaps her again, then realises he is hallucinating. His secretary leaves untouched but very confused.

The video has O’Blivion talking about television as more real than reality. He talks about how Max’s reality is already half video hallucination and we see O’Blivion being strangled to death by a hooded figure standing over him. The figure removes the hood and it is Nicky. The scene goes straight to deep strangeness now. The camera zooms right in on Nicky’s mouth as she says “Come to me,” until the mouth fills Max’s TV set that starts to writhe and throbs and breathes. Max embraces the bulging screen, rubbing and stroking it.

Max returns to see Bianca about the video. She apologises for thinking he meant to harm her. She tells Max that the Videodrome signal is dangerous, that it causes the growth of tumours that cause hallucinations and eventually death. Then she reveals that O’Blivion has been dead for months from a tumour and all that she has left is hundreds of his monologues on video cassettes. She gives him some tapes of  O’Blivion on the subject of Videodrome.

The next scene of Max watching Brian O’Blivion while playing with a gun is pretty weird. Max’s belly just opens up a big vertical slit, no blood just moist dark pink flesh and looks like… well anyway Max pushes the gun inside and he slit heals up around his arm. He pulls his arm free but the gun has gone. How much is hallucination here and what really happened? I don’t know because the gun is gone.

Max gets a call from Barry Convex, the evil optician behind the Videodrome conspiracy who offers to help him and sends a limo to take Max back to his evil lair inside a high street opticians. Convex gets Max to put a fancy glowing helmet on to record his hallucinations then leaves him to it. As you can guess Mr Convex is not really helping Max and the film climaxes in scenes of death and madness with viewer left as confused as Max about what is real.

This film is the one that really got David Cronenberg noticed. His previous films such as Scanners and Shivers had certainly been noticed but with Videodrome we got a really smart script that I have been told is inspired by Marshall McLuhan‘s writings on television. The special effects had developed enough to do a reasonably good of creeping me out, especially those stomach scenes. Another major plus film is that it stars James Woods as the sleazy amoral Max Renn which is just the perfect role for him.

Rating 8/10

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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: Phantasm

Phantasm (film)

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Don Coscarelli‘s Phantasm was not all like the other horror film that came out in the late 70s and early 80s This film confused the hell out of me since the whole story is more like dream of an event being recalled rather than the event itself.

Mike ( A. Michael Baldwin) and Jody (Bill Thornbury) live in town where a lot of people are dying including their parents. Jody is a young guy in his 20s and his young brother is 13. Mike has a totally reasonable fear that his brother wants to leave. He follows to Mike and friend Reggie (Reggie Bannister) to the funeral of their friend Tommy. Mike notices a creepy Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) lifting Tommy’s coffin back into the hearse after the funeral alone when it took six men to lift it out.

Jody picks up a woman at local bar. This is the same woman we saw kill his friend Tommy at the start of the film then turn into the Tall Man. They go to the cemetery for sex (as you would). Mike has followed them and is spying on them and gets an eyeful of the woman’s naked breasts. Suddenly he hears growling then he gets assaulted by zombie dwarf in a hooded robe and runs screaming across the cemetery right past Jody and the woman. Jody goes after him to see what’s wrong and doesn’t really believe Mike’s story of the hooded zombie dwarf. He sends Mike home and goes back to the woman but she’s gone.

Next day while Mike is underneath their car fixing it he hears the same growling he heard at the cemetery and something is jumping on the car. The jacks holding the car up give way trapping Mike underneath. Jody once more does not believe his story of zombie dwarves.

Mike arms himself with a large kitchen knife and breaks into the funeral home. He sees the Tall Man then hears a sound and turns to see a shiny ball flying towards him. His runs but is caught by the caretaker. Two blades appear from the ball and Mike just avoids it, but it sticks into the head of his captor. A drill comes out of ball and drills a hole into the man’s head and he slumps down dead. Then the Tall Man appears and chases after him. Mike slams a door behind him and finds he’s caught the Tall Man’s hand in the door. He chops at the hand with his knife and slices off the fingers. Yellow blood comes from the wound and the fingers are still moving on their own. Mike grabs a finger puts it in a box and escapes with zombie dwarves grabbing at his heels.

Next morning he shows the finger to Jody who realises he was telling the truth. Jody thinks they should take it to the police but before they can the finger has changed into a big evil red-eyed flying bug. They get the thing down the waste disposal unit but when Reggie comes in it gets out and attacks Reggie until they get it back into the waste disposal.

Jody goes to the funeral home to see for himself what’s going on and gets attacked by a zombie dwarf. He shoots it off and gets out of the building. A hearse comes after him and he shoots at it but he can’t see anyone driving. Mike drives up in their car. Jody shoots at the hearse from the sun roof while Mike drives and the hearse crashes into a tree. They go see who was driving and find out it is a zombie dwarf. Even worse it used to be the body of their dead friend Tommy.

This film really does read like series of half-remembered nightmares woven into a narrative. It also has a twist in the end that casts doubt on everything you thought you knew about what has happened.

This strange film is well-known for the iconic sight of the Tall Man shouting “Boy” as he reaches out for Mike and the lethal flying ball. This will not be to everyone’s taste and so avoid if you don’t like film that screw with your head  This film has sequels but they are just as weird as this one and if you enjoyed this film you will probably enjoy them too.

Rating  8/10

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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: The Evil Dead

Sam Raimi’s full length directorial début deserves its status as a flawed classic. The details about how this got made at all really show the determination of not just Raimi but all of those who stuck with it to the bitter end. Now he’s all ready to produce a remake of the film that started it all.

Five friends drive out an isolated cabin in the woods that they have rented. Scott (Richard DeManincor) is with his girlfriend Shelly (Theresa Tilly) and Ashley (Bruce Campbell) is with his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker). Ash‘s creepy sister Cheryl(Ellen Sandweiss) has also come because misery always insists on tagging along in case someone might be having fun.

This cabin really is isolated. To get to it they had to cross a bridge that was falling apart as they crossed it. The cabin is run down and has that feel of not being good place to be with all sorts of creepy noises and a wild camera running about outside.

The cellar door bangs open and they hear noises from down there so Scott takes the torch and goes down. After not hearing from Scott for a little too long Ash goes down to see if anything is wrong. Scott has found a journal, a tape recorder and a disgusting looking old book and a dagger left there by an archaeologist. They take it all upstairs and Asht turns on the tape recorder.

They sit listening to the archaeologist’s tape where he talks about Sumerian demons and a book bound in human skin that contained spells for summoning them. He then start reading these spells out loud and after while Cheryl starts freaking and demanding they stop the tape just when this party was getting started. Later that night Cheryl goes outside into the woods to see what’s making noises she get chased by the wild camera then attacked by the trees. Rob Tapert you are dirty.

Cheryl escapes the trees and wakes everyone up and demands that someone takes her back to town. Ash tries to but when they get to the bridge it has been torn apart by some powerful force and they have to return to the cabin. Ash listens to more of the tape on a head phone and finds out that the spell for summoning demons summoned a demon and it possessed the voice on the tape’s wife and dismemberment was the only answer.

Shelly is playing a game of “lets convince the retard she’s psychic” with Linda while Cheryl is staring out through the window at the woods and her voice goes all witchy and possessed sounding and every card Shelly turns over Cheryl gets right. Then she flies up and floats around with an ugly demon face and white eyes and complains about getting woken up.

Cheryl then gets very violent and shoves a pencil into Linda’s ankle and immobilises Ash with a book-case. Scott fights her and manages to get her into the cellar and chains the door closed. The wild camera comes for Shelly next while she is alone in the bedroom. Scott hears her screams and goes to look for her but he can’t find her. Then he gets jumped by someone in evil make up and a wig. They struggle into the sitting room where Ash leans helplessly on a axe watching on in horror. The Shelly demon’s head falls into the fire but Scott pulls her out. Scott repeatedly tells Ash to hit it with the axe but his pleas fall on daft ears so he grabs the axe from Ash and does it himself, chopping Shelly up into several wriggling body parts which they bury outside.

Scott wants to leave and see if there is another way down to town But Ash wants to stay and take care of Linda which is a bit of change for both characters. Scott runs off into the woods and Ash goes to see how Linda is getting on with the hole in her foot. It turns out that it’s got a bit infected with demons and it has spread a bit and she’s all evil face and white eyes and she attacks him. He hits her back and is about to blast her with a shotgun when she changes back. In the cellar he also hears Cheryl begging to be set free in her normal voice. Ash bends down closer and demon Cheryl grabs him through the floor boards. Demon Linda also laughs at him for his gullibility.

Scott comes back from the woods all ripped up by the trees and fatally injured. Linda attacks Ash again and in the struggle she gets stabbed right through with the big evil dagger. Ash takes her body out to the tool shed to cut it up but wimps out and buries her whole, so when of course she comes back to life and attacks him again Ash decapitates her with a spade.

The final battle between Ash and various members of the crew and the Raimi family dressed in monster make up is grisly and messy and involves a lot nasty looking liquids. This involves a nice blend of stop motion and live effects which must have been tricky to pull off.

This film feels very rough but Sam Raimi just about pulls it together to create something really disturbing. The POV camera shots are really well-used and of course spawned many copiers. The main cast are all pretty good and most of the time you don’t even notice when they’ve turned into monster with different build, hair colour or gender. I think this film will probably not have broad appeal of the sequels but it is definitely much more of a horror film than those are.

Rating 8/10

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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: American Werewolf in London

Another 80s favourite again. This comedy horror from John Landis is really well-balanced between its dark humour and outright horror. The soundtrack is well-used as a running joke opening with one version of Blue Moon by Sam Cooke and finishing with the inappropriately upbeat cover version by the Marcels. I’m sure they had the Bobby Vinton one played at some point as well.

American students David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are on a hiking holiday through Yorkshire and they stop for a rest at a pub called the Slaughtered Lamb. The locals all pause awkwardly when they come in but go right back to their fun. The barmaid tells them there’s no food and no soup but they can get tea if they want something hot. Jack notices a pentacle drawn crudely on the wall in what looks like blood and makes a joke saying “Remember the Alamo,” which leads to everyone talking about the film about the Alamo and Brian Glover making a dodgy joke.

When Jack keeps pushing on the subject of the pentacle the mood changes and they are told they are no longer welcome. The barmaid tries to apeal for them to stay but they leave with the advice that they keep to the roads and beware the moon. As they walk the don’t even notice they’ve left the road behind. They hear sound of a large dog howling and something is tracking them on the moor and they see the full moon. They break into a run and David slips and falls. As Jack reaches out to help him up he is attacked and torn to pieces by a huge furry beast. David gets up and runs quite a way before he decides to go back and help Jack. When he gets there he’s attacked by the beast but suddenly there’s crowd of villagers taking it down in hail of bullets. Just before David passes out he turns to see the creature but instead he sees a dead naked guy covered in bullet holes.

When David wakes in hospital it’s three weeks later. He learns from Dr Hirsch (John Woodvine) that the official version of events is that they were attacked by an escaped lunatic but David insists it was a wild animal. Dr Hirsch in not happy with all the inconsistencies and starts doing his own investigating

David  finds his dreams are getting more vivid and they start innocent enough, start getting more disturbing until AAAARGHGHH. David also starts getting visits from the undead spirit of Jack who warns him that he will become a werewolf and kill people at the next full moon if he doesn’t kill himself first. David rationalises it as just another nightmare.

David’s nurse Alex Price (Jenny Agutter) grows fond of David and feels a bit sorry for him so she takes him home to her flat. Soon she’s taking care of him naked in the shower to tune of Van Morrison‘s Moon Dance. That night when David wakes up to go to toilet Jack appears to him again to try persuade him to kill himself.

The next day Alex has to go to work and she leaves David alone in her flat. A montage scene to the tune of Bad Moon Rising show us David having a boring day. Then the Moon comes out and we get a long painful transformation scene where muscles stretch and bones crack in excruciating detail.

The werewolf slaughters a young couple on their way to a dinner party, a trio of tramps sitting drinking by a fire and a businessman on the London Underground. We only get glimpses of the creature but one of the creepiest is the attack in the Undergound where you see it coming into view for just a second as it comes for the man lying on the escalator.

David wakes next morning naked in the wolf enclosure at the zoo. I got a few laughs as David steals a kid’s balloons to help him cover his naughty bits before he steals woman’s coat and makes his way back to Alex’s flat by bus. Dr Hirsch insists Alex brings David into the hospital but on the way there David finds about the murders from the taxi driver. He freaks and runs away, trying to get a policeman to arrest him. Then he sees Jack beckoning him into a sleazy porn cinema where he introduces him to all his victims, now undead spirits just like Jack. They insist David must die so that they can rest, giving him all sorts of helpful suggestions on the best way to do it, but it is getting late and the moon is rising outside.

This film still works for me because the story keeps it simple and lets us get to know the characters. David is really nice normal guy that’s makes what’s happening to him is terrible and tragic  The effects were cutting edge at the time and the transformation scene is still more convincing than more recent CGI transformation scenes. It’s a nice unique twist that the undead spirits of Jack and the other victims haunt David and these scenes are where most of dark humour comes from and Griffin Dunne is really funny as Jack the rotting corpse.

Rating 9/10


Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: Repo Man

Film poster for Repo Man. Copyright 1984, © Un...

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I can’t remember too much about the buzz around this film but I first saw it around 1984 in Glasgow Film Theatre which is a charity-funded place that specialises in art house, independent and foreign language cinema. The place was packed out with punks so I’m guessing it must have got good write-ups in the music press and when you hear the soundtrack you would understand. Iggy Pop, Black Flag and The Circle Jerks all featuring in this film’s soundtrack was a definite draw however the film turned out. As it turned out Alex Cox‘s debut feature is a cult classic, featuring dark humour which is very specifically located in the time it was made. I think it is the best thing that Alex Cox or Emilio Estevez have done.

Otto (Emilio Estevez) is a suburban punk whose sucky life gets even suckier when he gets kicked out of his job then he finds out his parents have given all his college fund away to a TV evangelist and his girlfriend screws his best friend, all in one night. Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) asks him for favour, to drive his “wife’s” car out of the neighbourhood. Back at the repo company car lot Otto discovers he’s been tricked by Bud the repo man into helping him take someone’s car. They offer him a job and after one more night back with his old sucky life Otto takes the job.

Bud takes great pleasure in teaching young Otto about being a repo man and teaches him what he calls the repo man code. After snorting speed with Bud then racing the rival repo men the Rodriguez Brothers in the LA river Otto really thinks being a repo man is just “so intense” Bud replies “The life of a repo man is always intense.” Later when Otto is riding with Lite (Sy Richardson) it’s pretty clear Bud’s rules don’t mean anything to Lite

The film feels like a series of sketches of Otto out with Bud or Lite or on his own, repossessing cars from people who have not been keeping up payments on them. There’s not much in the way of plot except in the form of a crazy scientist J. Frank Parnell (Fox Harris ) driving across America to California with something deadly and radioactive the trunk of his car, a ’64 Chevy Malibu, who is being followed a squad of blonde-haired agents led by the one-armed Agent Rogersz (Susan Barnes). Dr Parnell had been stopped by a motorcycle highway patrol cop who was warned not to look in the trunk and he looked in trunk and vanished with flash of light and a scream, leaving just a pair of smoking boots behind. Rogersz explains to the sheriff, “It happens sometimes, people just explode. Natural causes.”

Otto comes across this plotline when he sees a young woman Leila (Olivia Barash) running down the street, so he hits on her and offers her a lift. She is hiding from the blonde-haired agents and tells Otto she is part of group who are trying tell the world the truth about aliens and they have a scientist (Parnell) who has smuggled the bodies of dead aliens out of a secret research base in New Mexico. She shows Otto picture of them but they look stupid and not very convincing (apparently they are water-filled condoms wearing grass-skirts). They get to headquarters of her group, the United Fruitcake Outlet. As Leila is about to leave Otto acts like a dick which causes Leila to change her mind and they get back in the car and have sex.

Back at the repo company they get word in about a bounty of $20,000 on a ’64 Chevy Malibu, a lot of money for such an old piece of junk. Soon all the repo men in LA are on the look out for the car.

Running through the film on a crime spree are Otto’s former pals Duke (Dick Rude) and Archie (Miguel Sandoval) and his ex-girlfriend Debbi (Jennifer Balgobin). Everywhere that Bud and Otto go to buy beer is being robbed or has just been robbed by them. Duke’s rallying cry is “let’s do some crimes.” and Archie keeps singing the tune of Ride of the Valkyries as they run from one crime to the next

Otto finds himself in weird conversations with various kooks. Miller (Tracey Walter) works at the repo company where his only job seems to be tending a barrel of fire. As Otto burns rubbish from one of cars he lifted, Miller tell him his theory of UFOs, alien abductions, time machines and plates of shrimp. That conversation is weird enough but later Otto finds himself in the passenger seat of the Chevy Malibu while Dr Parnell raves about the lies told about the dangers of radiation and how liberating lobotomies are.

This film is just so full of great moments, funny characters and quotable lines. There are a few little sly bits of cultural commentary woven into the film too. Otto’s parents are clearly a pair of hippy stoners yet they’re watching a right-wing televangelist and giving him all their money. Punks gets it too from the sheer idiocy of Duke and his crime gang and especially Duke’s last words. This film really seems to divide opinion and some just don’t get it. I think I ‘m supposed to say something broadly insulting, a sort of put down of those don’t think Repo Man is hilarious but I don’t think I need to since not being able to enjoy the humour in this film is a pretty harsh punishment in itself and there is no reason to mock the afflicted.

Rating 9/10

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Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: Hellraiser

This is one of my all-time favourite films so this will not be a very neutral review.What Clive Barker writes is so graphic and full of beautiful inhuman monsters. This film is that imagination made flesh and, as dated as some of the effects may be, there is no denying the power of the ideas and the imagery in this film

There is a puzzle box, the lament configuration created by an 18th century toy-maker Lemarchand which can open doorways to a world of experiences beyond pleasure and pain and acts beyond good and evil, under ministrations of the Cenobites of the Gash. Frank Cotton buys the box because he has become jaded with what the normal world has to offer. Frank prepares an attic room in his family home and sits down with the box. When he solves the box it tears a hole through to hell and the Cenobites come. These four Cenobites have been each been hideously mutilated and deformed, wearing their bleeding scars as a demonstration of their devotion to physical sensation. The head Cenobite has been nicknamed Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and he may be all that is known about this film by people who haven’t watched it. His name comes from the grid scarred into his shaven scalp with pins hammered into each intersection of scars. He and the other cenobites wield cutting tools and use hooked chains to tear into Franks flesh to provide him with the new experiences he thought he craved, eventually tearing him apart and torturing the pieces.

Some time later Frank’s brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) moves into the house with his wife Julia (Claire Higgins). Larry is much more normal than his brother and is trying to hold on to his marriage to Julia even though she seems to have grown cold on him. Julia looks round the house and finds signs that Frank was staying there and we find out that she had an affair with Frank when he came home to attend Larry and Julia’s wedding. Frank quickly grew bored and left but Julia can’t stop thinking about him.

Julia is drawn to the attic room where Frank died and where memories of her passionate affair with Frank are much stronger. Larry is downstairs trying get their new bed up the stairs into the bedroom and he rips his hand open on a nail. He runs up the stairs to Julia, nearly passing out at the sight of his own blood and needing her help to know what to do. His blood drips on to the floorboards and is sucked away unnoticed. Julia says they need to go to a hospital for stitches. Fortunately Larry’s daughter Kirsty (Ashley Lawrence) has just arrived and she drives them to hospital.

Meanwhile Frank’s remains in the attic have absorbed Larry’s blood and given him a way to escape from hell. Other effects in the film have dated but this scene is so well done and so disgustingly awful that its still very effective. CGI just doesn’t ooze realistically or evoke the visceral response you get from real fake goo and gore. Frank oozes out of the floor boards slowly and comes together as a half-dead revenant still more dead than alive.

That night after retuning from the hospital Larry is having a party drinking, chatting and joking with his friends and his daughter Kirsty. Julia slinks off upstairs early claiming to have a headache and she goes up to the attic room. There she discovers the barely-formed Frank and is horrified until Frank tells her who he is. Frank begs for her help, telling Julia that blood brought him back and more blood is needed to restore him. Later that night Julia returns to the attic and tells she agrees to help.

Next day Julia goes to a bar and picks up a guy. She takes him back to her house with the promise of sex and takes him up to the attic room. There she smashes his head in with a hammer. Frank crawls out of the shadows and hungrily devours the man’s blood while Julia leaves to clean herself up. Afterwards Frank is a bit more meaty but he still needs more blood meaning Julia has to find more victims. As she keeps going she stops being disgusted by what Frank makes her do and starts to enjoy it

Larry gets worried about Julia. He thinks that she never leaves the house and her mood is always off. He asks Kirsty to drop in on Julia, thinking that she might be feeling lonely. When Kirsty does drop by she sees Julia going into the house with a strange man. She watches a while longer then she hears the man’s screams from the attic room and rushes up the stairs. There she is greeted by shocking sight of the man partially drained and begging for help. Frank grabs the man back into the room and greets Kirsty lecherously. She does not recognise the skinless monster until he introduces himself as Uncle Frank. Frank approaches her menacingly but backs off as she clutches the puzzle box. Seeing the panic in Frank’s eyes she seizes her chance, throws the box out of the window and runs down the stairs and out of the house, then picks up the box keeps going. She keeps walking until shock hits her and she passes out in the street.

When Kirsty comes to she’s in a hospital bed.The doctor gives her the box, saying she was found clutching it outside and he leaves it with her. Kirsty examines the box then starts moving the parts causing it to play music.  The walls of her room rip open to reveal a long dark corridor. Kirsty tentatively explores the corridor , until she find the way blocked by a creature with huge teeth and large tail and a long lethal stinger which chases Kirsty back into her room. Four Cenobites appear to take Kirsty to hell for opening the box. Kirsty pleads ignorance but the Cenobites are not interested and have no mercy. It is only when she mentions Frank escaping them that they take an interest. She offers them a deal, if she can lead them to Frank they might let her go free.

Kirsty gets out of the hospital and goe back to house worried about what Frank and Julia might do to Larry. Unfortunately Julia and Frank have already killed Larry and Frank is now wearing Larry’s skin. They convince Kirsty that the body is Frank’s and that Larry had to kill him. The Cenobites appear in the attic and tell Kirsty that they want the murderer, which she thinks means her father Larry. Kirsty goes to warn ‘Larry’ and Julia that they must all leave then she realises that Larry is actually Frank. Frank stabs Julia and comes after Kirsty who has run up to attic where Larry’s body is. Frank gloats about what he’s done but Frank’s confession is what the Cenobites are waiting for. They capture him with hooks on chains and they rip him apart once again.

Kirsty flees but the Cenobites still want her too. Fortunately she still has the puzzle box. Each part of the puzzle that she solves banishes one of Cenobites to hell until she has it solved, while the house falls to pieces around her.

As I said above this is one my favourites films. I think that the story is just brilliant and is so original that I really cannot think of any films that similar to it. If you know any please let me know because I’d love to see them. I still get excited when I put this on to watch and that is not at all typical of me. I think this really demonstrates the ability of young inexperienced film-makers determined to get their ideas onto film with little concern for how things should be done or how things had been done in the past. It is a tribute the fantastic job the make-up people did to create the look of the Cenobites in this film that even though they are hardly in the film for more than few minutes it is the image of the Cenobites that lasts long after the film is over.

The main cast is all pretty good but Claire Higgins really did a great job with Julia as her character develops from frustrated housewife to serial killer and lover of a monster. Frank was played by three different actors. The pre-hell Frank was Sean Chapman and he’s okay. Much better was monster Frank played by Oliver Smith, a really creepy performance. Then when Franks puts on Larry’s skin he’s played by Andrew Robinson who plays Larry, and is even better and creepier.

Now bring on the sequels prequels and remakes

Rating 10/10


Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: Deja Vu

Writers just love getting their hands on an excuse to do a time travel story. This shallow tale wades out into the murky waters but rarely immerses itself fully in the potential scientific and philosophical implications of what the characters claim they are doing. The result is a story that only works if you go with it and just accept things happen for narrative reasons and the magic time travel device is just there to do whatever needs it needs to do to accomplish that

ATF Agent Doug Carlin is this film’s identity of the standard Denzel Washington investigator savant character, so he’s a no-nonsense clear thinker with Sherlock Holmes’ observational skills and deductive reasoning abilities. A ferry full of sailors blows up while it crosses the Mississippi at New Orléans on Mardi Gras. Doug is one of several investigators on the scene. He gets spotted by FBI agent Paul Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) who is impressed by his cool investigator skills so he recruits him to a super secret squad who have a magic time traveling spying machine that can give them a God’s eye view of anything anywhere within the range of the machine but it can only see what happening 4 days 6 hours into the past, no earlier and no later. It has something to do with Einstein’s rosy bridge according Dr Alexander Denny (Adam Goldberg) the scientist who accidentally tore a hole in the universe. It is two-way but it takes a lot of energy to send mass through it and it kills animals going through it (or crushes them into a tiny massively dense points of unspecific matter). You can probably see how this will go, but for now they use it to spy on people to see any sign of someone who might want to blow a bunch.. sorry, blow-up a bunch of sailors. They want Doug to use his unique abilities to tell them where to point their magic cameras. Doug has info on the dead body of Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton) who was found in the river but had died before the ferry explosion from the same type of burns as the victims on the ferry. The car bomb that blew up the ferry was also in her van so Doug has them spy on her (you can see why they needed Doug’s amazing deductive skills here).

Doug had the hots for Claire when she was a crispy-fried corpse so obviously he falls for her when he sees her walking and breathing (and showering) in the past. But Doug’s really not satisfied with just watching what happened in the past, he wants to change it. He sends a message back for himself but his partner Larry picks it up instead so rather than dying on the ferry Larry gets shot and his body is fed to the alligators. To get there was a pretty amazing, and very stupid, car chase with Doug following the bomber in the present day as the bomber drives to his base in the past, using a portable helmet version of the big magic box. Now they know the bomber is Carrol Oerstadt (Jim Caviezel) who is one of those paranoid nuts engaged in a personal war with the American Government. He is arrested and the FBI are happy with lone maniac story so they shut down the magic box.

No film would be accepted with a story that ended like that and we already have the rest all set up so inevitably Doug is going to back in time, rescue the girl, get the bad guy and save the day. At this point there is plenty of hints that this not the first time, lots of little clues that another version of Doug had already tried and failed to change events at least once before (or three times according this timeline from Wikipedia). I have to say this plot is clearly driven by the director’s desire to tell the story his way with little attention to logic or stopping to explain itself to anyone thinking “Wait a minute , what…” There is something exhilarating about being along for the ride on Tony Scott film and despite my snarky tone I did enjoy this one.

Rating 6/10

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Posted by on August 21, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: Fright Night (1985)

I’m probably going to go and see the remake of this film in the next couple of weeks so I dug this out for a little refresher. This was Tom Holland‘s directorial début and it is still an entertaining comedy vampire film now even if some of the effects have dated poorly.

Charlie Brewster(William Ragsdale) is a teenager making out with his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse). Amy is just getting warmed up when Charlie gets distracted by men carrying a coffin into the empty house next door. This really pisses off Amy and she leaves. Charlie’s mother tells him that they have a new neighbour Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon).

Next day when Charlie gets home from school he sees a beautiful scantily dressed woman going into their neighbour’s house. Later on that night while Charlie snoozes through old movies on tv he is awakened by the sound of screams from next door. At school the following day Amy is trying apologise for leaving but Charlie gets distracted by a news story on TV about the women he saw going next door being found dead. Amy gets angry about being ignored again and smashes a bagel into Charlie’s face then storms off. His friend Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) is in hysterics at this. Geoffreys really has a weird persona and he uses it to pretty good effect in this film.

Charlie is poking around the house when he gets disturbed by Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark), Jerry’s housemate and runs off. Later that night Charlie is watching Fright Night, the only show he ever watches, and he falls asleep again. When he wakes he sees a beautiful woman stripping at the window next door. Behind her is Dandridge who opens his mouth to reveal a set of vampire fangs poised to bite down the woman’s throat. He must have heard Charlie because he looks right out at him then smiles and pulls down his blinds. Charlie panics, wakes his mother then goes out and hides in the bushes where he sees Billy dumping a body-sized bin bag in the back of a car. He tries to tell his mother but she thinks he must have been dreaming. Charlie faces a huge problem trying convince anyone since the truth sounds just like fiction.

After he fails to get Amy to believe him he decides to try the police but without mentioning vampires. A police detective goes to Dandriges’s house but Billy manages to fob the cop off and when Charlie is forced to say what he knows to try to get the cop to investigate further he just ends up looking crazy, meaning he can’t turn to the cops again. He goes to ask Ed for help and Ed is offended that Charlie thinks Ed is crazy enough to believe vampires are real He also doesn’t like Charlie using his nickname Evil Ed. Ed does help with little bits of vampire lore but I wonder how helpful he was since Charlie watches these films every night and must be as familiar with the vampire rules as Ed. Maybe Charlie was just desperate to find someone to believe him.

One rule that Ed mentioned is never invite a vampire into your house so, of course, when Charlie gets back from Ed’s Jerry is sitting the living room, invited in by Charlie’s mother. I like the way that Dandrige threatens Charlie in front of his mother in this scene and Charlie’s mother remains oblivious and thinks he’s just making small talk. That night Jerry pays a more intimate visit to Charlie in his room and openly threatens him with dire consequences if doesn’t stop snooping and telling people that he is a vampire.

The situation is getting very serious so Charlie heads to the TV studio that transmits Fright Night and begs for Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), the host of the show, to help him but Vincent thinks he is joking or insane and drives away. Charlie now realises how alone he is and makes preparations to kill Dandrige on his own. Amy and Ed call round and are deeply worried about his mental condition with all his talk about killing Dandrige. They try to put him off the idea and when that fails they get him to agree to wait until they return with help.

They go to Vincent’s house and ask for his help with convincing Charlie that he’s wrong. They want him to convince Charlie that Jerry is just human by adopting his vampire hunter persona and performing a fake vampire test on Dandrige. Vincent arranges the test with Dandrige not realising that Dandrige is making sure the test really is a fake. Charlie trusts them but is worried about what Dandrige is going to do to them when his vampirism is revealed. In Dandrige’s house Dandrige charms his guests and gently pokes fun at the idea of vampires. He passes Vincent’s fake test leaving poor Charlie looking more isolated and completely crazy. But Vincent gets the glimpse of the truth in the mirror of a prop cigarette case.

This film is easily seen as just a throwaway popcorn flick and it is good one, but there is quite a good use of cultural blindness to isolate the genre savvy Charlie so that even when he’s with people who love him he’s totally on his own against Dandrige almost right up to the end. Chris Sarandon is perfect as Dandrige, easily switching the charm on and off as required. The late Roddy McDowall is also great as the washed-up actor Peter Vincent reduced to hosting a campy late night horror show, but the main credit has to go William Ragsdale who is excellent playing Charlie going crazy from being the only who knows the truth.

Rating 8/10


Posted by on August 20, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: The Last Lovecraft – Relic of Cthulhu

The Cult of Cthulhu are searching for part of a relic which is the key that will raise their master from his watery tomb and free him to rule the Earth. The Council of Cthulhu possess the other half of the relic and to stop the cult they send Professor Lake (Edmund Lupinski) of Miskatonic University to take the relic to the last descendant of H. P. Lovecraft and prevent the Cult from raising Cthulhu. This descendant is Jeff Philips (Kyle Davis) who works in a boring job in a cubicle in an office with his comic-book geek friend Charlie (Devin McGinn) and wishes there was more to life.

When Jeff and Charlie get home to their apartment they find Professor Lake standing there. He tries to tell them about the Cult of Cthulhu but Jeff doesn’t believe any of it. Charlie on the other hand knows far too much about it and goes into a comic-illustrated history of Cthulhu and his war with the Elder Ones. Jeff does not think this makes the story any more credible, but Lake agrees that Charlie’s story is true but incomplete. He reveals that Lovecraft was disguising truth as fiction and that he seemed to have a natural immunity to the madness inducing powers of Cthulhu and his General Starspawn (Ethan Wilde). The Council of Cthulhu think that this immunity has been passed down to Jeff making him the only person who can tackle Starspawn and stop the end of human civilisation. Lake’s story is interrupted when the cult get to the apartment on the trail of the relic and Lake tells Jeff and Charlie to go and he gives the relic to Jeff. Lake then pulls out a large hammer on a chain with a harpoon at the other end from his bag and starts fighting off cult creatures to give Jeff and Charlie time to escape until Starspawn comes in and kills him.

Jeff and Charlie have to fight off a creature with a lamprey-like sucker mouth that fixes itself to their car window. They manage to do this with just a tire iron and then they drive off. Charlie suggests that they go see a guy they went to school with who knows all about Lovecraft. Paul (Barak Hardley) is another geek who lives with his foul-mouthed grandmother. He doesn’t believe their story at first but is convinced when he sees the eyes of the relic glowing and he wants in on the adventure. He has a map from a comic-book to a Captain Olaf (Gregg Lawrence) who has told stories of his encounters with spawn of Cthulhu, the Deep Ones who live in the ocean. Starspawn has called up these Deep Ones to help him to get the relic. They come ashore next to a beach party and we see and hear them slaughtering everyone from inside a tent where a woman lies cowering in fear.

Jeff, Paul and Charlie have to get to Captain Olaf who lives in the middle of the desert to see if he has any idea how to defeat Starspawn and the Cult of Cthulhu

A comedy based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft has potential but this was disappointing. It has a very low-budget so it really has very little in the way of effects though some of it was pretty good for the money spent. I wasn’t too put off by the large amount of dysfunctional geek comedy the film has. I think I was mainly let-down by how lame the bad guys really turned out to be. Maybe they should have spread a little more madness around because apart from the Deep Ones they didn’t seem any more dangerous than any bunch of mooks. And the Deep Ones had a great build-up but after their initial killing spree they were a bit crap. Lovecraft wrote about cosmic horror but there really wasn’t much sign of that here. It does show some promise and if they had decent budget they may have delivered something a bit better.

Rating 6/10

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Posted by on August 20, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: Seconds Apart

This was one of the features in the 2011 After Dark Horrorfest and I’ve just got round to watching it now. I tend to buy DVDs on a whim and often end up getting distracted and forgetting about them.

Seth (Gary Entin) and Jonah (Edmund Entin) Trimble are twin brothers born less than a minute apart. At a teenage party a group jocks blow their brains out in an oddly persistent game of Russsian Roulette, while Seth and Jonah hang out in background filming it. Detective Lampkin (Orlando Jones) senses something is really off about the scene especially the absence of any witnesses to the boys killing themselves in a house full of people partying. Seth and Jonah watch their video of the deaths eager to illicit an emotional reaction in themselves, some sign of feeling of empathy with their victims. They somehow caused the deaths as part of what they call The Project using their unspecified mental abilities. When they get ready for bed they perform their ablutions in perfect synchronicity, which really enhances their creepiness, especially when they go to sleep facing each other in the same bed.

Lampkin goes the Catholic school that the dead boys attended and tells the headmaster he wants to interview the pupils to see if any of them have any idea what happened at the party. He raises the possiblity that the deaths were not suicide and that they were made look that way to cover up murders. He interviews a girl, Katie who is very nervous and withdrawn. She says she’s glad the jocks are dead. Lampkin guesses at relationship gone bad with one of the dead boys which Katie confirms. She then mentions someone making a film and we get a flashback to Katie having sex with one of the boys in a lockerroom while Seth and Jonah stand beside them and record it on video. She seems unsure of what is happening and we get the impression that the scene is another part of the twins’ Project. I don’t know how much of that she told Lampkin but it seems to be this that put him onto Seth and Jonah’s trail.

Jonah meets new girl Eve (Samantha Droke) who insists on Jonah’s help to find her class. Lampkin interviews Seth about the deaths, deliberately keeping the twins apart to trap and split them and trap them in a lie. While he’s away Eve and Jonah chat together in the canteen. Lampkin tricks Seth into confirming the existence of the video. The boys appear in the headmaster Father Zinselmeyer’s (Marc Macaulay) office. Using their mental powers they force him to tell who spoke to Lampkin and after Zinselmeyer tells them about Katie Seth leaves the priest to kill himself.

Lampkin really has his work cut out for him trying to prove that the spate of suicides are actually psychic murders, an idea no-one takes seriously but he is aided by the split between the brothers caused by Jonah’s growing relationship with Eve

I enjoyed this film. It’s not brilliant or even particularly original but the story did keep me watching to see how it is resolved. The film does not make it clear what mental powers the boys possess but it does gradually reveal that they are very powerful telepaths and telekinetics. Although there is some gore it is minimal and necessary for the story and it good to see the use of old style effects. The Catholic high school setting seemed a lot more authenmtic to me than many other high schools in other films.

Rating 6/10

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Posted by on August 19, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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