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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Review: Total Recall (2012)

Another remake of a ‘classic‘science fiction film of the 80s what sacrilege, whatever happened to original ideas blah blah blah. To be honest this remake did intrigue me right from when I heard about it.  I really enjoy the original which did a good job Philip K. Dick’s short story We Can Remember it for You Wholesale into a big action blockbuster. This film has just as much action and it comes at a frantic pace. It sets up a fairly intriguing future world and goes into some detail to make it look real.

Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is feeling unsettled. At night he dreams of a different life but wakes to a life of low income in a crap factory job making security robots on the other side of the Earth and he has to travel there every day. He has beautiful wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) but he just wants something more.

The world has been through some very hard times. Over-population has scarred the world once more with biological warfare and left most of the surface uninhabitable except for two zones, the wealthy United British Federation (UBF) that occupies the British Isles and north-western Europe, and the Colony which occupies Australasia which is much poorer, which is why Quaid has to travel though the Earth the every day to work.

This daily travel is by means of The Fall, a large capsule which free falls through a tunnel bored right through the Earth between the two regions. The Fall is powered purely by gravity and this is totally feasible if the problem of tunnelling though all that hot liquid rock can be solved.

Quaid is interested in the services of a company Recall who can implant memories of exciting lives to brighten up those who lives are dull and unsatisfactory. The technology has a sleazy reputation and Quaid’s work colleague Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) tells him a scare story about the risk of brain damage. Later on a new worker tells him Harry is talking crap because he’s used it with no damage. He gives Quaid a card for the place and tells him who to ask for.

That night Quaid goes to the Recall Lounge where he listens to the sales pitch and chooses to have the memory of a secret agent implanted. The tech McClane (John Cho) explains that they have to scan his brain because if they try to implant a memory that is true it can cause a conflict that can damage the brain. McClane is looking through his memories while other techs get him set up in the machine and the start the process. Just before it starts McClane spots a problem, Quaid actually is a spy. He halts the process immediately. A squad of armed federal agents burst in on the place and shoot all the staff dead. Quaid is frightened and confused which seems to trigger a physical memory of being a bad ass and he Jason Bournes the agents killing them all and escaping before more arrive.

Quaid goes home and tells Lori all about it. She doesn’t seem to believe him but she hugs him and tells him it will be all right. Her hug turns to an attempt to choke him to death. Lori is not his wife and he’s not Quaid and because he knows this Lori is going to kill him. She’s under orders from the leader of UBF Chancellor Cohaagen (Brian Cranston) to not kill Quaid but she has her own ideas on that subject. Quaid and Lori fight then Quaid escapes and Lori chases him. A lot. While running and escaping from Lori and the police Quaid gets rescued by rebel fighter Melina (Jessica Biel) who knows him from his real life and who helps him find out who really is and why Cohaagen wants him.

This film has so much action you barely get time t breath and it really does give you the sense that Quaid is constantly under pressure either being chase by Lori or trying to stop Cohaagen’s plans. Well, he did wish for an interesting life. The film looks really good with a lot of work done in creating a future world that looks both futuristic and decayed. I liked all the futuristic stuff like the maglev cars, the vertical cities and the 3D elevators. I can see the influence of films like Blade runner in look of the Colony and it also reminded me of the over-crowded sprawl of Williams Gibson’s future settings in stories like Neuromancer.

Colin Farrell turns in a really solid performance in this, Jessica Biel was okay as Melina and Brian Cranston was good as usual but I think Kate Beckinsale really hit this one home. Her character is a combination of two characters in the original film that were played by Michael Ironside and Sharon Stone but she is much more physical and relentless in this.

The story is interesting but it has the same plot twists as the original so if you seen that you know what’s coming even if the details have changed. It still about a man trying to discover who he was and realising that it’s who he is now that matters.The rich and powerful are still stomping on the weak and powerless and the hero has to step up and stop him. Overall its a lot of fun but it doesn’t do much more than the original.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Hellraiser III – Hell on Earth

The first three films in this series are a perfect illustration of sequel decay. Hellraiser is a low-budget classic horror with a dark visceral feel and a nice tight straightforward story. Hellbound: Hellraiser II expanded on the story and many of those who worked on Hellraiser returned. It is less focused and makes less sense than the original and has more spectacle and a larger body count. Then we get this film. Only one of the original cast returned, Doug Bradley is back as Pinhead who has been reduced to the status of a powerful evil misanthropic villain hell bent on conquering the world.

In an art gallery there is a sculpture with the very familiar face of Pinhead. Later flashbacks in the film indicate that it is supposed to be that cheap-ass column from the end of the second film but this looks much better than that, full of twisted limbs and faces. Wealthy club owner J.P Monroe (Kevin Bernhardt) is interested in buying it from a man dressed like a bum who is very vague about the ownership of the sculpture or its price.

Joey (Terry Farrell) is a junior news reporter desperate for a breakthrough to reporting on the main news stories but her latest assignment at the emergency room of a city hospital turns out to be a wash-out on one of the quietest nights in the hospital’s history. She feels even worse when her cameraman Doc Fisher (Ken Carpenter) gets called away on a “real“  story. After he’s gone a patient gets rushed in, a young man whose body is pierced by black metal hooks on chains. Joey tries talking to a young woman who came in with the patient to find out what happened but Terri (Paula Marshall) is too upset to tell her much more than her name and that it happened at the Boiler Room. While Joey is distracted by the boy in the emergency room getting his head pulled apart Terri sneaks off.

Joey tries to convince her colleagues back at the TV station about what she saw but she’s told no pictures then it didn’t happen. She finds out that the Boiler Room is a nightclub and goes there to look for Terri. This the place owned by J.P. Munroe and he has it decorated according to his own grisly taste with mannequins and dolls wrapped in barbed wire so the Pinhead sculpture fits in perfectly. Joey asks around about Terri and gets directed to J.P. who of course comes on to her but she rejects him and leaves her card for Terri to contact her.

Joey is awoken from a nightmare about her father, who died before she was born, by a phone call from Terri. Terri is looking a place to stay after her boyfriend J.P. kicked her out so Joey offers her a spare room. Terri happily accepts but she’s nervous and thinks Joey just wants to use her to get the information about what killed the boy at the hospital. Joey assures her that’s not the case but insists that she still has to find out happened. Terri rummages in her bag and brings out a puzzle box. She says it came off the sculpture. It was Terri who found the sculpture and told J.P. about it so next day Terri and Joey go to investigate the gallery. The gallery is locked up and a neighbour insists it’s been that way for months but Terri says she was there just last week with J.P. Joey is thrown by the apparent dead-end but Terri uses her burglary skills to get them in. They start looking through the paperwork to see if they can find any papers about the sculpture. There they find all the documents from the Channard Institute. Terri thinks that now Joey has what she wants she won’t want Terri around but Joey tells her that she has place to stay for as long as she needs it.

At the Boiler Room J.P. seduces Sandy (Aimée Leigh) a naïve young woman who he takes to his apartment and screws her giving us this film’s compulsory nude scene. After he’s shot his load he‘s no longer interested in her and is openly contemptuous of her. Sandy is angry and upset at being used and doesn’t notice how close she is to the sculpture. Pinhead’s eyes open and hooks on chains burst out of the sculpture and rip off her skin. They seize her and drag her screaming into the depths of the statue where she gets transformed into part of the sculpture. J.P. is shocked and frightened and tries shooting the sculpture but Pinhead just spit out the bullets. Pinhead offers to fulfil J.P.’s darkest desires in exchange for more flesh.

Joey gets visited in her dreams of her father by the spirit of Captain Elliott Spencer who was Pinhead but was freed when he was reminded of his humanity by Kirsty Cotton before being attacked by the Channard Cenobite and killed. Elliott warns Joey that the evil was driven out of him was too strong to be destroyed and now threatens to bring its evil to Earth. Pinhead is after the puzzles box to destroy it since it the only thing that can send him back to hell.

Terri is sitting in Joey’s apartment and gets a call from J.P. saying he’s sorry and wants her back. Having a new friend and place to stay has given Terri enough self-respect to turn down J. P. But she hears phone message left on Joey’s answering machine making her think Terri will be moving away leaving her homeless and alone again so she takes the hump and runs off into J.P.’s clutches. Back at J.P.’s apartment he makes all the right sympathetic noises and beckons Terri to come to him right next to the sculpture. Just before J.P. succeeds he starts getting too anxious and tries to grab her but she fights back and manages to knock him out with a knuckle-duster.

Terri goes to leave but Pinhead offers her the chance to dream and all she has to do is feed J.P. to the sculpture. She agrees to the deal and she kick s his unconscious body toward the statue. J.P. comes round just in time to protest before he’s seized by hooks on chain and his head in penetrated by a pair of pistons. J.P.’s blood allows Pinhead to free himself from the sculpture. Pinhead explodes through the door into the nightclub and unleashes his lethal magical powers on the club’s patrons, slaughtering everyone.  This scene reminds me of the climaxes of the first two Wishmaster films but it isn’t really as imaginative.

Joey sees a news report about a major disaster at the Boiler Room. She rings Doc who agrees to meet her there and she lifts the puzzle box and leaves. When Joey gets to the Boiler room there’s no-one else is sight, no cops and no TV news crews. She enters the club and discovers bloodbath inside with mutilated corpses everywhere. She sees Doc’s headless corpse and realises she sent him to his death. Pinhead appears and offers to end her misery quickly if she gives him the box. Joey refuses and he tries to grab it and it zaps him.

Joey escapes from the club and runs off through the streets so Pinhead creates some new cenobites and sends them after her. The barman been turned into the Barbie Cenobite, his face wrapped and barbed wire and breathing fire. The club’s DJ has been turned into the CD Cenobite with his head full of slots for lethally sharp CDs which he throws to kill people. The third of these cenobites is Doc whose camera has been fused with his head to transform him into the Cameraman Cenobite with his lethal lens and ability to blow up TV sets. The original cenobites were disciples of pain and they were terrible to behold because their mutilation represented their devotion to their cause. These cenobites seem to be a lame attempt at injecting a contemporary feel and they pale in comparison to the originals. As they chase Joey they kill many passers-by and blow stuff up.

Joey runs into a church and tells the priest about being chased by demons. The priest tells her that demons aren’t real, that they are just a metaphor. That’s when Pinhead makes his entrance, blowing off the doors again. He makes his way to the altar and the priest tries to ward him with a cross. Pinhead chides him for worshipping a graven image and melts the cross in the man’s hand. Even more show-boating follows with a drawn out scene of Pinhead removing spikes from his head, piercing his hands and doing a Jesus impression. He follows this by removing a piece of flesh from his abdomen and forcing it into the priest’s mouth in a crude parody of the communion. Just to show how pointless this whole scene is it comes to an end when Joey uses the puzzle box on Pinhead and escapes which she could have done as soon as he appeared. The scene didn’t further the plot and seemed to be included for cheap shock value.

Joey gets to a building site so at least that will minimise collateral damage. There are two more cenobites waiting there, Terri and J.P. These two are better than the other ones and are more interested in causing pain than major property damage. The other cenobites arrive and Pinhead gloats but then Joey solves the puzzle box and it sends all the cenobites to hell, which is bit of an anti-climax

But it’s all a trick as Joey finds herself in her dream of her father who is no longer dying. He says that he’s a reward to Joey for defeating Pinhead and he asks for the cube which she hands over. Of course her father turns out to really be Pinhead who grins as he takes his true shape then laughs at his victory. The scene changes abruptly to an empty wooden room and Elliott is there. This is the room where Elliott solved the puzzle and was taken to serve hell. It was apparently Elliot’s plan all along to get Pinhead into Joey’s dreams so Elliott can get him. Elliot rejoins with Pinhead but Pinhead is dominant and sets on his sights Joey but she manipulates the puzzle into a long sharp spike and stabs it into Pinhead’s heart causing him to be dragged in pieces into the puzzle spike.

I know that the different behaviour of Pinhead is explained in the film but it’s not a change that I like and the new cenobites were a pale shadow of the original ones. I don’t know if I would have been happier with this film if it was not a sequel to Hellraiser but it is and I can’t honestly rate it any other way. Even the musical score was sacrificed to the marketing dollar by featuring a heavy metal soundtrack, something that I usually enjoy but not this one. The original music does still appear especially towards the end but it does little to recreate the original’s tone. It is certainly watchable and more entertaining than many other horror films but as fan of the original I am disappointed

Rating 6.5/10

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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Night of the Living Dead 3D Re-Animation

This film is apparently a prequel to the 2006 film titled Night of the Living Dead 3D. That film was nothing like the shot-by-shot remake of Night of the Living Dead by Tom Savini. Why don’t these films just call themselves something different? It could be trying to cash-in on the name but I really don’t know. Although there are zombies in this film it never turns into a full-scale outbreak

Gerald Tovar Jr. (Andrew Divoff) runs the family mortuary and he has many problems in his life. His assistant DyeAnne (Robin Sydney) has tarted up a body like punk and the relatives are not happy. Gerald asks Aunt Lou (Melissa Jo Bailey), who manages the customer side of the mortuary, to tell DyeAnne that she’s fired. His loser brother Harold (Jeffrey Combs) has also turned up needing money and threatening to contest their father’s will. But Gerald’s biggest problem is that he has piles of bodies locked up in the crematorium that slowly re-animate as flesh-hungry zombies.

Gerald hires Cristie Forrest (Sarah Lieving), a mortuary school graduate, as his mortuary assistant. He shows Cristie around the place, missing out the crematorium. In the embalming room he introduces her to DyeAnne and then leaves them to take care of a body while he leaves to have dinner with Harold. The brothers talk about various things and Harold is taken in by any anti-government conspiracy theory. Gerald tells Harold about the zombies and Harold grills him for details. Turns out that Gerald Tovar Sr. had a contract with the government to dispose of their secret medical waste. After he died Gerald Jr. kept taking in the bodies but Gerald can’t work the furnace in the crematorium and things just piled up. Then a couple of weeks ago he took a delivery sealed in black plastic sacks that leaked and re-animated the corpses. Harold doesn’t believe Gerald and thinks he might have chance of getting his hands on his father’s inheritance. Gerald tries to prove what he’s saying is true by taking him into the crematorium which is stinking from all the rotting corpses. He can’t even show Harold the video that he’s made because the camera has run out of power.

Most zombie films seem to fall in to the pattern of either the siege or the post-apocalyptic road movie but this is a prequel so things start out apparently under control but the potential for a zombie plague is building up like festering boil. This is an uneven film with  scenes of little relevance such as a long sequence of DyeAnne, Cristie and a third employee Russell (Adam Chambers) getting stoned and Cristie has some very trippy experiences involving the corpse smoking weed with them and DyeAnne having sex with him. There is little zombie action in the first half of the film but it does build up towards the end of the film as event spiral out of control.

I was surprised about how much politics crops in this film. The US Tea Party movement is a bone of contention between Harold and Gerald with Harold being a supporter and Gerald referring to Harold with insulting term teabagger. Harold likes a talking head who is a Tea Party favourite called Sister Sara (Denice Duff) who is very obviously Sarah Palin. A bunch of the corpses in the crematorium come from a Tea Party bus that crashed. I’m not sure how deliberate it is that some many of the zombies in the film are Tea Party supporters but seems unlikely to be an accident.

I liked Andrew Divoff and Jeffrey Combs as the bickering brothers but things were less interesting when they weren’t on screen. Harold seems to be a creep with crazy ideas but despite Gerald seeming more collected and sympathetic what he’s doing is insane and it’s his carelessness and bizarre choices that leads things to things going wrong. The zombie make-up is pretty good and the scenes in the crematorium were fairly grisly. It isn’t up to the standard of the original Romero films but it’s probably worth renting. The 3D is probably not worth getting a headache for especially considering the low light levels of many of the scenes

Rating 6.5/10

 

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review:Ravenous

This seems to be a film that a lot people come across by accident and I was no different. It really is an under-appreciated gem of a film with a story that is refreshingly different from most films in the horror genre. It has a great cast especially Jeffrey Jones, Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle. The bleak mountain location looks both beautiful and deadly and really plays a vital role in the film giving a genuine sense of total isolation.

Captain John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is a decorated “hero” of the Mexican-American War under very dubious circumstances where his cowardice in battle allowed him to infiltrate enemy lines and take out an entire fort. General Slauson (John Spencer) tells him straight that his choice was to either shoot him or give him a medal and PR demands a medal. But he also wants Boyd out of the way so he has him posted to Fort Spencer high up in the western Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.

In charge of the fort is Colonel Hart (Jeffrey Jones) and under him is the constantly drunk Major Knox (Stephen Spinella) who is the closest they have to a surgeon and Hart warns Boyd that it would be better to not get sick than rely on Knox. The other men are Private Toffler (Jeremy Davies) who is nervous and devoutly religious, Private Cleaves (David Arquette) who is constantly stoned on marijuana and peyote and Private Reich (Neal McDonough) who is the only person at the Fort vaguely like a real soldier, though he is a bit intense and humourless and he takes an instant strong dislike to Boyd. There are also two Native Americans at the Fort: Martha (Sheila Tousey) who seldom speaks and her brother George (Joseph Runningfox) who doesn’t speak much English.

Next day Hart sends Cleaves off with Martha to get supplies. That night after Knox has drunk himself into a stupor Hart nicks his drink and he sits down with Boyd for a talk and Boyd tells him about how he got his medal. Boyd had pretended to be dead even to the point of being buried in a large heap of bodies near the Mexican fort. Blood from the body on top of him went in his mouth and down his throat. This changed him and gave a feeling of strength which he used to take on the Mexicans by surprise.

While they are talking Boyd sees a figure out of the window. They find a man (Robert Carlyle) unconscious outside and they bathe him and leave Toffler to watch over him. When he recovers he tells them his name is Colquhoun and he was part of a party of six who were travelling west across the mountains guided by a man called Colonel Ives. Ives got them lost as winter snowstorms came and they were forced to take shelter in a cave. Soon they were trapped and first had to eat all their livestock. Then they fed on the body of a man who died from starvation. Even more time passed and Ives killed another man to eat and Colquhoun claims he left the cave at the point and wandered lost until he found the Fort.

After they have heard Colquhoun’s story Hart tells them that they have to go to cave to check it out in case there is anyone left alive. Next morning Hart, Boyd, Reich, George and Toffler all get ready for the long trek up there and a surprisingly fit Colquhoun joins them, willing to show them the way to the cave. George is very agitated and he shows Boyd and Hart a picture on an animal skin of a Wendigo and tells them the legend of how if a man feeds on another man he possesses his spirit and it gives him strength, but it also gives him a hunger for more human flesh. Reich ridicules this story but George brings out another skin with a picture of Jesus, pointing out that during a Christian Mass they eat the body of Christ.

During the very long walk to the cave Boyd talks to Colquhoun, asking him about how he felt after eating human flesh and Colquhoun admits to feeling a strange strength but he’s interested in how Boyd know seems to know about it. Further on Toffler gets excited about a bone he’s found but when he tries to pick it up the clumsy idiot falls down a hill and ends up with a large wound in his abdomen. Reich patches him up and they make camp for the night. Their rest is disturbed by Toffler’s screams when he wakes up and finds Colquhoun licking his bloody wound. Colquhoun tries to claim he was asleep and having a nightmare but that hardly reassures anyone so he demands that they tie him up. The next day they get to the cave and I won’t say what they find there but soon the rescue mission becomes a fight for survival.

I really enjoyed this film and I think it’s a pity that it isn’t better known outside of fans of the horror genre. It doesn’t rely on special effects but instead the story is driven by the characters which are really brought to life by an excellent cast. The story itself feels pretty fresh and I was never too certain where it was going to go but I‘m pretty satisfied with the direction it took. I also really liked the folksy feel to the music, written by composer Michael Nyman and Damon Albarn of Blur, which at times gives a light tone to some fairly dark scenes but at other times is appropriately moody and creepy, all performed on traditional instruments such as banjo and accordion, fitting in perfectly with the film’s period and setting. There is some gore which is unavoidable in a film about cannibalism but it’s never too gratuitous. If you haven’t seen this film then I highly recommend it

Rating 8.7/10

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Lesbian Vampire Killers

I didn’t go and see this at the cinema, I didn’t watch it on DVD but when it appeared on TV I decide to have a look. Two things were behind my reluctance to see this film: the title suggested to me a juvenile laddish humour of the lowest kind that giggles at the word lesbian, and James Corden who just doesn’t make me laugh. I have seen him on panel shows where he mainly seems to contribute a sense of a kid butting-in, trying to join in adult conversations. I tried to put that behind me and just appreciate the film on its own terms. Unfortunately this film completely met my expectations and after watching it I felt I had wasted my time. This film is just not funny, creepy or titillating. To complain about the homophobic and misogynistic themes of this film would be to give it too much credit since it’s as relevant a fart in a bath that an imbecile insists on showing you.

In the past just before vampire queen Carmilla is destroyed by a knight Baron Wolfgang MacLaren she puts a curse on the village of Cragwich that all the girls on their 18th birthday will turn into lesbian vampires and the curse will only be broken when the blood of the last descendant of MacLaren will allow Carmilla to return to life.

That last descendant is Jimmy (Matthew Horne) a pathetic sap who is in love with a woman who keeps going back to him when the other men she sleeps with throw her out, only to leave him again when the next man comes along. She leaves him again and Jimmy is told by his best friend Fletch (James Corden) that they need a holiday so Jimmy can forget her. Fletch wants to go abroad where there are lots of drunken women. They don’t have any money for that so Jimmy decides that they are going hiking. He throws a dart into a map to choose their destination and of course that dart lands on Cragwich.

Jimmy and Fletch arrive in Cragwich and Fletch whines that they didn’t go anywhere else because Cragwich is quiet and remote and there’s little chance of drunken women. He changes his mind when four loud young foreign women come out of the bar and get into a camper van and drive off. Now Fletch is eager to check out the bar but Jimmy is not so keen. It turns out the bar is just a typical creepy horror film country pub full of beardy weirdoes who openly stare at Jimmy and Fletch. A foul mouthed Vicar (Paul McGann) and his daughter Rebecca enter the bar and he asks for help standing up to “them” and when gets no takers he leaves in disgust, after giving Jimmy a thorough look. After he gone the barman becomes far too helpful and gives them free drink and tells them about a cottage they can stay in free of charge. When he tells them that they sent the women who just left to the cottage too Fletch rushes them out the door after them.

At the cottage the women get some (Simon Cowell-style) music on and start dancing. Fletch joins them but Jimmy still acts all bored and determined to not have fun (and who can blame him with the sight of Corden jigging around to that horrible music). This gets the attention of Lotte (MyAnna Buring), the leader of their group who likes the quieter types. Lotte tells Jimmy that they are students and are in Cragwich to investigate the Carmilla legend.

The other three women go outside and get attacked and turned into vampires. The vampires attack the cottage and of course they can’t enter unless invited. Then Jimmy’s ex-girlfriend Judi knocks on the door and Jimmy let’s her in while Fletch protests about how stupid that is. And of course once she’s alone with Jimmy it turns out she’s a vampire and Jimmy and Fletch have to kill her. No-one mourns her death not even the man who was so upset about their break-up and even Lotte seems pleased because now she has a chance with Jimmy.

This film plays out pretty predictably with far too much focus on Fletch’s stupid school-boyish antics. This film just tries too hard to be funny and it doesn’t work for me. I think I was supposed to laugh at a dick-shaped sword handle but it was juvenile and their comedic reactions to it were just idiotic. Paul McGann didn’t really try very hard and most of the rest of the acting was bad but it was intended be campy bad which apparently excuses it. The two main characters Jimmy and Fletch are more like eleven-year-olds than adults and that’s just about the level of comedy in this film. If I was forced to say something nice or die I’d say the set design and lighting looked okay.

Rating 3/10

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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Cowboys & Aliens

This is definitely a film that I had heard about but for one reason another I never got around to actually watching before today. It’s a high concept big budget mixed genre film with a quality cast and yet the reviews were very mixed. I thought it was exactly what it set out to be and I had really fun time watching it.

A man (Daniel Craig) wakes in a desert scrub with no memory of who he is or where he’s been. He has no idea how he got wounded or how he acquired a strange hi-tech bracelet that he can’t remove from his wrist. He gets clothes, a horse, a dog and a gun from three thieves that he kills, all Jason Bourne style, when they decide to annoy him so we know he’s a bit of a badass. The stranger arrives at few buildings that pass for a town out on the frontier where he gets his wound stitched-up by the local preacher Meacham (Clancy Brown). The town’ name is Absolution and it was a gold mining town but there’s no gold so now the only successful business in the town is cattle herding by the local rich guy Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford).

One of the unfortunate consequences of their dependence on Dolarhyde is that his spoilt brat of a son Percy () gets away with almost anything but when the bar owner Doc (Sam Rockwell) has had enough of his drunken freeloading Percy starts shooting up the town then passing his hat around to take collection to pay his bar bill. He tries this on the stranger and gets his nuts crushed for his cheek. When Percy manages to get up and lift his gun to shoot the stranger in the back he ends up hitting a deputy who just arrived with the Sheriff John Taggart (Keith Carradine). Percy protests it was an accident and then starts trying to threaten then with his daddy but Taggart doesn’t really have a choice and locks him up.

The Stranger goes to the bar where Doc’s wife Maria (Ana de la Reguera) let’s him drink on the house in gratitude for his standing up to Percy and kicking him in the balls. A woman Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde) comes up to him and seems to know something about him but The Stranger isn’t interested. She doesn’t want him to leave town so she gives Taggart a wanted poster. The stranger is Jake Lonergan, a dangerous outlaw and leader of gang of outlaws. Taggart gathers all his deputies and the go into the bar and after quite bit of trouble they manage to arrest him. They lock Jake up in a coach with Percy to take them to the state capital.

Dolarhyde has been told that Percy was arrested and he’s heading into town to get his son along with many of his men. Just when he arrives strange lights approach the town from the sky. These turn out to be small flying craft with grapples that they use to seize many people and fly off with them. Eventually Jake gets free and shoots down a ship with his bracelet weapon but the other ships have gone. Taggart was taken by the aliens, along with Percy and Doc’s wife Maria so Doc, Dolarhyde and Taggart’s grandson Emmett (Noah Ringer) all want to go after the aliens to get their loved ones back and Dolarhyde wants Jake to use his bracelet to take them there. Jake isn’t sure at first but some memories start coming back and he joins them hoping to learn more about himself.

This is s a pretty straightforward adventure film and I thought they did a good job blending the science fiction adventure with the western genre. The only weakness for me was the aliens’ motivation for kidnapping people since I couldn’t see the benefit to them being worth the risk. That part really only seemed to serve the plot more than making any real sense. Anyway on the upside the cast were great and special effects were pretty good. This film really delivered exactly what I expected, which is a fun big budget adventure film.

Rating 8/10

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Posted by on August 18, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Creep Van

 

I found this in the bargain DVD section of the local supermarket. I thought it was going to be a killer van plot sort of like Christine but it is actually a B-Movie horror about a serial killer who uses his van to kill. It features several inventive kill scenes, padded out with scenes of varying relevance that barely make a plot.

There a serial killing Creep (Mike Butler) who owns an old van that he has modified to be as lethal as he can make it and he uses it to kill people. At the start of the film, after the van has been denied the chance to slaughter a small child, it kills a couple of teenage car thieves, slicing one in half in its window then chasing and leaping onto the second one, crushing him flat. There are nice practical effects in use in these death scenes which is something that runs through the whole film.

Campbell Jackson (Brian Kolodziej) has a really crap job working at a car valeting company and he is sick of not having a car and having travel to work by bus. He’s sure it’s getting in the way of his love life. He is also forced to stay with a friend because he can’t afford his own place. Since his friend Bob (Justin Kolodziej) is into kinky sex with his girlfriend Danni (Veronica Adkinson) who walks around topless insulting Campbell all the time it is difficult to bring anyone back to his place.

At work a wealthy hippy customer Swami Ted (Collin Bernsen) leaves a bag behind and Campbell sticks it into the lost property. Two stoners who work there too nick the bag and find it’s full of top quality marijuana. Naturally Swami Ted really wants his bag back and he calls Amy (Amy Wehrell) at the office giving her shit so Amy wants Campbell to find out what happened to the bag. Amy and Campbell like each other so I guess she’s the love interest.

What about the Creep and his van? After killing a biker he leaves it in the street with a “For Sale” sign. Campbell spots it and takes a note of the number and calls, leaving a message. He tries calling again later but all he gets is the dying screams of a woman who also spotted the “For Sale” and who is getting sliced open with a seatbelt so he decides to just leave it. Unfortunately for Campbell the Creep has plans for him.

This film is very mixed and is full of bizarre unlikely characters like domineering Danni and her naked breasts and Kaufmann the garage boss who insists on having an embarrassing talk with Campbell about a new improved version of Viagra. Lloyd Kaufman one of the founders of Troma Entertainment has a cameo as an annoying customer for some reason. It introduces characters only to brutally kill them off a few minutes later. I’m not sure if there was a script because sometimes there are small scenes that seem reasonably well-acted then others than seem to be rambling amateur improvisation. This film is really all about the van and the kills and what could be called a plot was just padding around the kill scenes. I know this all sounds negative but I kind of liked it because it was cheesy but the kill scenes are well done. If you like B-Movie horror like Hatchet you’ll probably like this film.

Rating 6/10

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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Idle Hands

I always have a lot of fun watching this stoner comedy horror. It is definitely more comedy than horror and while it has a few moments of tension  especially towards the end it never loses its humorous tone. Sure the plot is full of holes but it never really became an issue for me. I liked the characters and the silly story and it had some nice special effects. It has also has a good rock soundtrack which is always a bonus to me, including the Offspring actually appearing in the film.

Anton Tobias (Devon Sawa) is a stoner waste-of-space who lives his parent’s attic and spends all his life getting stoned and watching TV with his friends Mick (Seth Green) and Pnub (Elden Henson). He sleeps through his parents being murdered and barely notices the town in a panic over several more murders. The only thing that gets his lazy arse moving is running out of weed. He tries to get more from Mick and Pnub but has no luck getting grass from them. He gets slagged off over his pathetic infatuation with Molly (Jessica Alba), a girl who lives across the street from him that he’s too shy to talk to.

Anton goes to the shops to get supplies and returns home. After he finds a blood-covered knife he finally finds his parent’s bodies and he thinks the killer might still be in the house. Mick and Pnub come around and when Mick examines the bodies he finds a scrap of torn cloth in Mrs Tobias’ hand. Anton is frightened and confused when he realises that it came from his own T-shirt. Mick wants to the call the police but Anton stops him and his right hand suddenly seems to have mind of its own. It takes a broken bottle and stick’s it into Mick’s head, killing him. Pnub freaks out while Anton’s hand tries to kill him and Anton tries to warn him to get away. As Pnub tries to get out Anton’s hand tosses circular saw blade at him slicing off his head.

While Anton is trying to calm down and think his psychotic hand throws the pet cat out of the window. He goes out to find the cat which landed in Molly’s garden and his hand rings her doorbell. When she comes to the door Anton has to cover up his crazy hand and try to stop it killing Molly. Molly finds his crazy behaviour attractive and she takes him up to her bedroom. Molly wants to make out but his hand still wants to kill her so Anton ties it to her bedpost which Molly thinks is kinky and she likes it.

Anton goes back home and buries his parents and friends. Just when he finishes he hears Mick calling him from under the ground. Both his friends are re-animated but not as zombies, just as walking corpses that are just the same as when they were alive lounging about the house watching TV. Pnub has to carry his head around under his arm while Mick has the bottle sticking out of his head.

Anton is desperate for help but then he’s also very dumb so the only person he a can think of to ask help is his heavy metal loving neighbour Randy who is pissed that Anton thinks he’s an expert on occult just because he listens to heavy metal. All he has is the hoary old saying “The devil find’s work for idle hands.” Anton takes his advice tries to keep hands busy with knitting but when two very dumb cops burst into his house after seeing the bodies of Mick an Pnub sitting in his living room his hand quickly kills them before he can stop it.

Anton is desperate now so he cuts off the hand. Mick and Pnub leave to get munchies and bandages for Anton’s arm  and his severed evil hand attacks him. He throws it in the microwave and cooks it while Molly bangs at his door. He goes out to talk to Molly but while he’s gone Pnub and Mick come back and the let the hand out of the microwave.

Help is actually on its way in the form of a druidic priestess Debi LeCure (Vivica A. Fox) who has been chasing the demon possessing Anton’s hand and has a magic dagger that can kill it. She tracked down its previous host but quickly realises it has moved on and she traces it to Anton’s town simply by tracing the murders it commits. She runs into Randy at the bowling alley where she tells him who she is and what she’s looking for telling him the hand posses the weakest laziest people. It is an amazing coincidence that she met Randy who remembers Anton saying his hand was evil and he tells where Anton lives.

Anton, Mick and Pnub  head for their school’s Halloween dance ‘borrowing’ Randy’s van and everyone thinks they are in costume. Mick fixed Pnub’s back on with a toasting fork and some duct tape so his head a bit loose. This is one of those school dances that only exist in films where they have booked a reasonably well-known band to play, in this case The Offspring. Anton interrupts the band to try to warn everyone they are in danger and just then the hand strikes, scalping the group’s singer and causing panic then it goes on a murder rampage.

Molly and her friend Tanya escape into a large air duct (another film land exclusive) but the hand follows them. When they are trying to escape through a large lethal fan the hand kills Tanya in the fan and captures Molly, intending to use her in ritual sacrifice and take her back to hell. Anton and his friends arrive just in time to save her, with a bit of help from a superbong and more weed. This doesn’t finish the hand which attacks Mick but Debi arrives and kills it with the knife.

The story is very silly and full of holes but it allows for a lot of gross out stoner humour which is what I like about this film. The characters are funny and likeable and seem immune to taking anything seriously. I’m sure that Evil Dead 2 was an influence on this film and Devon Sawa was pretty good at acting as if his hand was out of control. I think if you like stoner humour you will probably enjoy this.

Rating 7/10

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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Kentucky Fried Zombies

The alternative title is Die-ner (Get It?) which is really not much of an improvement but it does seem to indicate the level of humour in this zombie comedy horror film. I can’t fault the acting and for the budget the special effects were pretty good but the story just never seemed to gel for me and I think that is because the story never really seemed to have much point to it.

At a quiet diner off the main road the waitress Rose (Maria Olsen) is telling her life story to a customer Ken (Joshua Grote) who listens sympathetically before he kills her and the cook. Ken is a serial killer and psychopath. He puts both the bodies into the freezer and cleans up the blood. Just then a car draws up with a bickering married couple Rob (Parker Quinn) and Kathy (Liesel Kopp). Ken puts on an apron and pretends to work in the place. He takes their orders and tries to get chatting to them but they want to carry on arguing. Ken is just about to kill them when the local sheriff arrives.

Sheriff Dukes (Larry Purtell) comes in and asks where Rose is so Ken makes up a story about her having a family emergency. Ken has an excuse about where the cook has gone but he’s a bit surprised when Dukes greets the cook who is wandering around mindlessly in the kitchen. Rob and Kathy complain about their food taking so long which gives Ken the perfect excuse to go check up on the cook. He’s a zombie and keeps trying to bite Ken. Dukes keeps calling to the cook thinking the man isn’t talking back because he’s got the hump over being given speeding ticket. Dukes comes into the kitchen and is shocked by the sight of the zombie cook he gets his throat bitten open.

Rob and Kathy help Ken restrain the zombie cook and he uses duct tape from his murder kit bag to secure the zombie to the floor. Everyone figures that there’s something not right about Ken before he tells them and by that time he’s got Dukes’ gun. He lets Kathy put duct tape on Dukes’ wound and forces Rob and Kathy to help him investigate the zombie. These are not the Romero-type but turn out to more like Trioxin zombies. Headshots don’t kill them and when they are cut-up the parts remain animated. There’s really not much not more to the story other than Ron and Kathy do try to get away but they are too stupid to just kill Ken and he gets the upper hand each time they try.

I can’t figure out why but this film just didn’t entertain me. The zombie kills were pretty good and there was one that seemed to be a pastiche of Rhode’s death in Romero’s Day of the Dead. I just think that not enough happened and although the film avoided the zombie film cliché of the characters trapped by zombie hordes this was at the expense of the film actually doing anything else. For a comedy it had very few jokes that made me laugh and the set-up just wasn’t very funny.

Rating 5/10

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Posted by on August 11, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Abraham Lincoln vs Zombies

This is not the first zombie film I’ve seen recently set during the civil war period but this is one is definitely a lot more fun. This is mockbuster masters The Asylum cashing in on Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter but they go all out to give us exactly what it says on the tin: Abraham Lincoln knocking the heads off zombies. It’s cheap, badly acted, full of terrible fake beards and moustaches and is so silly I had to keep watching.

When Abe was a kid he lost both his parents in a zombie outbreak so you can put away your history books. Years later and President Lincoln (Bill Oberst Jr.) is in the Whitehouse and his Chief of Staff Edwin Stanton tells him that their plan to capture an important fort in Georgia is not going well. Out of the men sent only one returned, Eckert and he’s being held restrained in a bunker because he’s sick and raving and getting more violent. Abe goes to see the man and recognises the signs of a zombie infection. He tells Stanton to prepare a squad of twelve secret service agents to go the fort and find out what happened. Eckert dies and turns into a yellow-eyed zombie and breaks free with that famous superhuman zombie strength? He attacks and bites the officer that was going to lead the squad of secret service men. Abe leaps into action and grabs a sword and fights off zombie-Eckert before an aide brings him his special zombie-killing flick-scythe and he cuts off its head.

Since the officer was killed (by Abe with a shot through the head) Abe insists on leading the mission to the fort himself because clearly he’s the only one who knows what’s going on. They travel most of the way by train but a few miles from their destination the train stops and they walk the rest of the way. This involves a lot of walking slowly while Abe speechifies but strangely never mentions what he knows they are going to be up against. The twelve secret service agent are dressed in a uniform of long black coat and waist coat with a whit shirt so they all look really obvious. There’s an Irish one, a black one (called Brown), a blonde one, a cowardly one, a gruff scary looking one and a whiny weasel with a moustache called John Wilkinson (Jason Vail) and the other six are more or less anonymous cannon fodder (or zombie food in this case).

They get to the fort and as they break in zombies attack them. Confederate soldiers also shoot at them from the other side of the fort so they have to fight off the zombies while under fire. When one man gets bitten Abe puts a bullet in his head which shocks Wilkinson. Abe also take out a few zombies with his scythe and once he tells the agents to go for head shots they manage to take care of the zombies and get the door closed again. They search the fort and find a handful of Confederate soldiers including one Pat Garrett (Christopher Marrone) and General Stonewall Jackson (Don McGraw). Well he claims to be Jackson but he’s clearly a 16-year-old boy with a fake beard and absolutely no acting ability at all and he plays Jackson as if he’s incredibly dumb or a bit mentally ill. Jackson claims that the zombies are just sick and in need of medical treatment, and many of them are Confederate soldiers. Abe appeals to him to put their differences to deal with the zombie threat but he acts like a pompous ass and refuses.

Abe takes several of the men in to the nearby town to see what the situation is there and to try to use the telegraph to send for help. The zombies are very slow and lethargic and unless they hear a sound they just stand still so they don’t have too much trouble evading them and most of their kills are by Abe with his scythe to avoid noisy gunfire. Brown mentions that they are like zombies his granny told him about but these are different so despite that from then on they call them zombies. The town is almost completely overrun but they find the brothel locked up. Of course they smash their way in and get shot at from the basement. Down there they find three prostitutes holed up with a 12-year-old boy called Theodore Roosevelt (Canon Kuipers). Mary Owens (Baby Norman) is a former girlfriend of Abe’s and one of the other women is her daughter Sophia (Hannah Bryan). Everyone goes back to the fort where Pat Garret defies Jackson and joins them in trying to take on the zombies.

This film is fully aware of how silly it is and for the most part, within its own limitations, it does okay. I felt that the portrayal of General Jackson was taking things a bit too far into just being crap, however Bill Oberst Jr. does pretty good job as Lincoln. Everyone else is okay enough. The CGI looks cheap but it worked. I think this is going to mainly appeal to people who can enjoy the cheesy cheap and cheerful output of The Asylum and fans of zombie films but lovers of historical drama should look elsewhere.

Rating 6/10

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Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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