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Big Ass Spider

Video almost on Demand

1656281_586345511459484_2063871959_nThis one of those B-Movies that  parody the genre like many of the Troma films and the much of the output of Full Moon or Roger Corman. It is a creature feature with mad science, a giant deadly monster, gun happy military and a city in peril but it is also mainly a buddy comedy

Alex Mathis (Greg Grunberg) is a pest exterminator that takes his work very seriously but despite his experience he still gets bitten by poisonous spider while helping a mad cat lady (Lin Shaye) with her pest problem. He goes the hospital get the bite treated and a dead body is brought in and taken to the morgue. The body turns out to contain the Big Ass Spider and it is already creepy enough at the size of a medium size dog. It bites the morgue attendant and the hospital manager sends Alex down the morgue with Jose Ramos (Lombardo Boyar) the security guard.

Jose really likes Alex, impressed by his knowledge and self-confidence  and bizarre little spider impersonation he keeps doing and Alex likes the way Jose actually listens to him. They track the spider down in the basement of the hospital and just as it is going jump on Alex Lieutenant Karly Brant (Clare Kramer) arrives and shoots at it. While Karly and Alex bicker and Alex tries to put the moves on Karly the spider gets away into the sewers.

The military are led by Major Braxton Tanner (Ray Wise) and they have tracked the spider to the hospital. They have a scientist Lucas (Patrick Bauchau) with them who has of course being doing mad science and created this spider by accident when trying to create giant tomatoes. They thank Alex and send him and Jose on their way though Alex does try to put some moves on Karly again.

Alex is about just walk away but his new buddy Jose talks him around and convinces Alex that he can find the spider. They figure out it is in the drainage tunnels in the LA river but when they get there the army are already there and it’s killed a mob of homeless people by webbing them up, dissolving their bodies with digestive juices then sucking them up. It is grisly but the film avoids showing too much

Alex and Jose track the spider down to the woods in a local park and get there just as the spider goes on a rampage slaughtering people and webbing others. The first victim is a lecherous old jogger that fans of low budget Troma films will recognise as Lloyd Kaufman and he gets eaten to the very obvious sound of someone munching celery. The spider is now as big as an elephant and killing everything in it path. Alex and Jose attract the spider with Alex’s truck and it chases them right into roadblock the army have set up.

There are few surprises in this film which has sees the army give it their best shot with guns and missiles but it  is up to Alex and Jose to actually take down the spider and rescue the girl.  I liked the comedy double act of Alex and Jose and the film reminded be of other films like Tremors though I can’t say the special effects or supporting performances were as good as Tremors. Some of the spider effects looked really creepy but there were times it just looked like a big cartoon.

Rating 6.5/10

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Posted by on March 9, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Grabbers

DVD Review

Grabbers bluray 001I have been hearing about this film for ages and had been following it progress on Facebook and Twitter as the received a broadly positive reception at various film festivals. It finally arrived for a short limited cinema run then it was out on DVD/Bluray the following week, a very common pattern for independently funded films nowadays.

It opens on a scene shot from space of an object crashing into the Atlantic just south of Ireland. It is spotted by fishermen in a boat nearby and the skipper radios in that he’s seen what looks like an emergency flare and he is going to investigate. The boat is attacked by something that we don’t get to see yet and the three men are killed. It is a pretty intense start to film that is essentially a comedy.

The main characters in this film are two Garda (Irish police) the alcoholic cynical Ciaran O’Shea (Richard Coyle) and eager young Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley). Ciaran works on the island of Erin off the south coast of Ireland and Lisa is coming to Erin to work for two weeks while Garda Sergeant Kenefick goes on his holidays. Ciaran protests that he doesn’t need any help in a tone that’s just like a teenager complaining about having a babysitter.

At the dock Paddy Barrett (Lalor Roddy) is checking his lobster pots and in one of them he sees a strange creature with tentacles that squirts a foul-smelling fluid on the face another fisherman. Next day Dr Jim Gleeson  (Pascal Scott) walks his dog down to beach and discovers about a dozen dead pilot whales lying on the sand. Ciaran and Lisa go to investigate and meet Dr Adam Smith (Russell Tovey) a marine ecologist who takes a liking to Lisa. He hasn’t really got any idea what could have killed the whales.

Ciaran and Lisa go to a quarry and get the owner Declan Cooney to go to the beach and remove the dead whales. After they have cleared the beach Cooney and his men pack-up to leave and Cooney sends one them to fetch shovel he’s left on the beach the man spots a load of strange eggs. He picks one up and gets attacked by something. Cooney is waiting on the man to return so he can leave and he goes to see what happened to him.

In a house near the beach the couple are settling in for the night and they hear a banging at the door. When the guy opens the door Cooney is there moving about strangely and they thinks he’s drunk but then he drops dead. The guy goes to investigate and he gets speared in the chest and lifted away into the air. His wife comes out to see what happened and what she sees makes her run screaming into the house where she gets dragged out through the chimney.

Ciaran is drinking in Maher’s, the only bar on the island and he gets teased by Una Maher (Bronagh Gallagher) the landlady about his interest in Lisa that he tries to deny but then he realises he’s probably not tried very hard to be nice to her. Paddy comes in and no-one believes him about the thing he caught in his lobster pot that he has put in his bathtub. They think he’s just raving with the amount that he’s already drunk which makes him and bit belligerent. That night when he goes home the thing is no longer in the tub but is on the ceiling the corner of the room and we finally get to see it, all glistening green-blue tentacles. It stabs him with its long spear like tongue but it quickly withdraws. It jumps at his face and wraps its tentacles around his head but after a bit of struggle Paddy gets it off

Next day Ciaran and Lisa try to find Cooney but all they find is his car with his keys still in the ignition. They decide to check out the nearby house, the one that was attacked the night before. The lights are on but there’s no sign of anyone. They spot something on the roof and Lisa goes to investigate because of course Ciaran has already been drinking. There seems to be along piece of torn clothing and Lisa tugs on it dislodging something from the chimney. She screams when she realises it’s a head and it rolls off the roof and smacks Ciaran in the face.

They take the head to the doctor to see if he can figure what killed him but Dr Gleeson points out it’s just a head so he has nothing to go on since he doesn’t have big city laboratory facilities. They go to see Paddy whose house has a big hole from when the bath went through the wall. Paddy tells them about the creature and takes them to Smith’s laboratory where he has been examining it. Smith has never seen anything like it and says it is a new species. Paddy calls the thing a grabber much to Smith’s annoyance since he wants it given some sort of descriptive Latin name but Paddy knows he’s got naming rights. Smith tells them the grabber is female and shows them the large egg he has dissected. Smith says if they have a female that implies that there is a male around too which is a little presumptuous for an unknown species even if he doesn’t know it’s not from Earth. Paddy takes Ciaran and Lisa to the beach where he caught the grabber and they have a close run in with the large male grabber.

They figure out that Paddy survived the attack because the grabber didn’t like something in his blood and Ciaran realises it must be the alcohol. When Ciaran tries to call the mainland for help he’s told that all rescue boats have been called in because of a large storm approaching so they are on their own. Together with the help Dr Gleeson and pub landlord Brian Maher (David Pearse) they come up with a plan to get everyone on Erin Isle into the pub for a huge booze up.

I really liked the characters in this film and a lot of the humour in the film comes from their dialogue and interactions. The humour balances out the creature horror parts where the tentacled monsters are attacking and killing people. The creature effects are pretty impressive and one of the best things about it was the way they have the large male grabber move by rolling on its tentacles at fairly impressive speeds. I had a lot fun watching this film and have no hesitation giving it my recommendation

Rating 7.5/10

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Posted by on January 12, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Relic

This 90s creature horror is clearly nonsense and although the cast do try to create a believable story it gets dragged down to a climax of chases in dark tunnels and it isn’t as much fun as it should be.

The film starts in the jungles of Brazil where anthropologist John Whitney has gotten a little too involved in his research into tribal customs and is tripping off his balls while a medicine woman laughs at him. Next we see a panicky Whitney at the docks trying to stop his collection from being sent to the Natural History Museum in Chicago but he fails so he stows away in the ship to continue his search for his crates. Several weeks later the ship is found adrift in Lake Michigan and the crew are missing or dead, their bodies found floating in the bilge tank.

John Whitney’s crates arrive at the museum having been sent by air freight and not on the death ship. The museum curator Dr. Ann Cuthbert (Linda Hunt) is busy organising a large fundraising benefit and is only interested what artifacts he has sent them. His colleagues are also worried that they haven’t heard from him. Dr. Frock (James Whitmore) opens the crates and in one he finds a statue of a native god called Cthugga, an evil-looking chimera sitting the skulls of its victims that we last saw back in the hut of the medicine woman in Brazil. In the second crate they find only leaves covered in a strange fungus. Evolutionary biologist Dr. Margo Green is curious abou the fungus and takes the leaves away for further examination.

That night a security guard at the museum is violently slaughtered by a creature. Homicide detective Lieutenant D’Agosta (Tom Sizemore) is in charge of the case and right away thinks there’s a connection between the dead bodies on the ship and the security guard’s death. He discovers that the bodies all have their hypothalamus removed from their brain and is immediately interested when he finds out that Whitney was working in Brazil where the ship came from. The initial suspicion is that killers working for a drug gang are responsible because they don’t know there’s a monster on the prowl.

Margo had left the leaves in box in her lab and a beetle had crawled in. Later a monstrous mutated beetle emerges from the box and she kills it right away. She discovers that the fungus is full of powerful animal hormones that seem to not only cause gigantism but recombine the genes of different species to form  monstrous chimera.

A couple of cops searching the museum’s basement are attacked by a crazed homeless guy covered in blood and they shoot him dead. The museum security chief is very happy about this because it means that they can go ahead with their big benefit night. D’Agosta is less happy and still demands that police are present. He’s worried that dead crazy guy doesn’t explain the missing hypothalamus and feels that the killer is still at large.

Of course D’Agosta is right; the creature is creeping around and attacks the security guards in the control room and sets off the security system and the sprinklers and it wrecks the power. It attacks the room full of rich people and everyone freaks out and most of them panic and run. But the security doors come down sealing a group inside, including the City’s mayor.

After they have done lot of shouting a cop manages to talk a group of them into finding an alternative way out through the basement. A group of injured people and annoying pricks wait by the main door for the police to break through and rescue them. This group don’t last very long and nor do the police that attempt to break through the domed ceiling and abseil down.

This leaves the group heading through the basement, D’Agosta searching for the creature with a police dog and a few scientists in the lab area including Margo and Dr. Frocke who have found what the creature is but this discovery is pretty irrelevant. It doesn’t help them figure how the kill the creature. After a lot of repetitive chase scenes through dark tunnels and dark corridors they eventually kill the creature and the survivors all get out of the museum.

This film does have some goods parts. The acting is okay and creature effects are pretty good but the story is pretty stupid and it really starts to drag in the second half. A lot of time is spent on a subplot about the petty politics of competing for research funding but it’s just uninteresting jibber jabber. Many of the characters are just thin stereotypes with one obstructive prick and an ass-kisser created to give a cheap thrill of seeing them killed.

I suppose for a dumb no-brainer film it passes the time harmlessly enough but I found it a bit too dull and cheesy

Rating 6.5/10

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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Camel Spiders

This DVD has “Roger Corman presents” across the top so it is clearly going to be a cheesy B-movie featuring spiders and after watching it I can say you get exactly what you’d expect, lots of giant spiders running amok and killing people. Actually that’s not strictly true because camel spiders are not spiders because they have ten limbs but they are arachnids and they are real but fortunately are not as bad as this film makes them out to be. They only grow as big as 12” which is the size of an LP record and not the size of a large dog like the ones in this film. Having seen LPs I can say that I really do not want to come across a real camel spider and I am not very comforted to read about one being found in a house in England and the family living there got so creeped out by it they ran away and claimed it killed their pet dog.

Anyway back to this stupid film. A squad of American soldiers are in a gun battle with a group of insurgents in Iraq when the group they are fighting start screaming and go quiet. Captain Sturges (Brian Krause) looks into it and all they find is a dead body lying where the insurgents where. There are bite marks on his face which a local soldier tells them is the bite of the camel spider which he claims is venomous (which it isn’t but in this film they are). They load up their weapons and ammo to leave the area and put a dead soldier in a crate to transport home but we see camel spiders creep into the crate unnoticed.

Next we’re back in American with Sturges in an army truck being driven by Sergeant Underwood (Melissa Brasselle). In back are the guns and ammo and the crate with body. As they are driving though a quiet rural road in the mountains a car smashes into them at a crossroads. The boxes fall out of the back and the crate breaks open and the spiders come out and run off. Sheriff Beaumont (C. Thomas Howell) arrives on the scene and makes sure everyone is okay. The army truck has damaged its clutch so Beaumont tells them about a motel they can stay at while they wait for the army to send help and escorts them there.

Enough of those losers, now we get to see the camel spiders in action. Two couples are out wandering round the mountains for some reason that probably relates to sex. One couple argue and she takes his car keys and leaves in his car. He gets attacked by a large group of CGI camel spiders of various sizes and killed. The other couple have gone on ahead and are snogging away happily. They ignore the screams of their friend being killed thinking it’s a joke but then the man goes to explore a rustling noise and is killed, then the woman is attacked and killed. The other woman drives to store and inside she finds the owner and his wife stuck in a giant web (since they are not spiders they don’t make webs) and she gets jumped and killed by a camel spider.

Beaumont takes Sturges to a diner to get something to eat for himself and Underwood. The diner is just full of stereotypes of the survivor horror genre, the bickering couple with a young daughter, two condescending prejudiced city boys, a pair of conniving businessmen, the friendly waitress and the loving couple who own the place. Oh yeah they have black cook so guess who gets killed by spiders taking out the trash. They soon realise they are being overrun by camel spiders and all the extras get killed off, including one of the city boys. Sturges radios Underwood for help and the core cast get away and hole up in a gypsum extraction plant.

This just yet another dumb movie and you might enjoy it if you can purt up with its many flaws such as the poor writing. The acting is very mixed with some really bad acting but Brian Krause plays it seriously as does C. Thomas Howell. The CGI is really cheap and unconvincing but no worse than I expected. The creepiest thing this film did was make me Google “camel spider” and find out about the real animal, a creature that can be as big as an LP with a nasty bite and that can run up to 14 kmph. Fortunately they can’t swim across the sea, even if one has been found in the UK.

Rating 4.5/10

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Attack the Block

I was familiar with Joe Cornish from radio and TV working with long time partner Adam Buxton. This made me definitely want to see how his first film would turn out. I was a bit apprehensive but still confident it would be worth it. I am glad that to say that this is a really is an impressive and entertaining debut film

The films opens with young nurse Sam Jodie Whittaker walking home alone. It must be November 5th because there are fireworks going off all over the city. She starts going down one very quiet then sees a crowd of teenage boys. Then they spot her. She tries just keep walking to brazen it out but they surround her and  the leader Moses (John Boyega) pulls out knife and takes his scarf off his face and demands her purse. She sees she is helpless and hands it over.

Just then something falls down from outer space and smashes into a car right next to them. Moses goes into the wreckage to see what caused it. He gets attacked by a strange creature which scratches his face and runs off into the nearby park. While the boys are distracted Sam runs off. Moses is angry about being attacked so they go after the creature and find it hiding in a park hut. After shooting fireworks at it they all pile in and attack it, killing it. Yeah, these are our protagonists. In an interview Joe Cornish revealed that part of the inspiration was being mugged himself by a gang of boys just like these.

They take the body with them back to the tower block that they all live in Wyndham Tower, which is the same one Sam lives in too but none of them know this yet. Outside they meet two younger boys who insist on being called Probs and Mayhem and want to hang around with the older boys but they get firmly rejected. Moses and his gang know the creature is alien and are hoping it might be worth money.

The take it to Ron’s (Nick Frost) flat on the top floor because he watches the Discovery Channel. Ron is a stoner who runs a fortified cannabis growing room for a real gangster Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter) who is there rapping with one of his henchmen. Moses hands the stuff they stole from Sam over to Hi-Hatz who gives him a pack of drugs to sell for him, drawing Moses in deeper to crime. He really has no time for them blathering abut aliens and lets them the store the body in the growing room.

Brewis (Luke Treadaway) a friend and customer of Ron’s is there too and he has a look at the alien and he confirm the obvious that it is like nothing else they’ve ever seem before. Brewis is an out-of-place posh boy and really makes a dick of himself trying to act cool around the boys. Outside they see whole load more lights falling from the sky. They are excited by having more aliens to hunt and rush from Ron’s to get geared up for a battle. We get to see a bit of Pest (Alex Esmail), Jerome (Leeon Jones), Dennis (Franz Drameh) and Biggz’s (Simon Howard) home life but don’t see any of Moses’.

They head out to the park where the saw the lights landing. The see one that died on landing and it is much bigger and nastier than the one they killed before. Dennis had been ordered to take the dog for a walk and the dog is straining at the leash to go after something in the darkness. It breaks free and runs at something and we hear pathetic yelp as it is killed. They see a big black shape coming towards them with lights that at first they think are eyes but are actually big glowing blue teeth. The boys all run away back towards the block.

Meanwhile Sam has gone to the police to report her mugging. Two policemen take her out in their van to look around for the boys.  They spot Moses running and they catch him and shove him in the cage at the back their van. Not only does Sam identify him as her mugger but he was caught with a sock full of drugs.One of the creature appears and slaughters both of the policemen, then tries to find a way into the van. Sam gets in the back next to Moses out of its way. The other boys come to Moses’ rescue using fireworks to run the creature off, while Dennis gets in the van. He frees Moses from the cage but Sam locks herself in the cage thinking that boys killed the policemen. Dennis drives off followed by the other boys on their motorbikes down into an underground parking area, where he smashes into Hi-Hatz car head first. Moses lets Sam out of the back and tells her to get to safety.

Hi-Hatz is very angry and he really doesn’t want them to tell him about aliens. When they hear a creature approaching he sends his henchman to investigate and he gets killed very quickly. Hi-Hatz shoots the creature dead and the boys use the distraction to get away. Creatures chase them all the way back to the block and Biggz gets split off and trapped inside an empty bin with one creature outside trying to get in.

The others make it back to Wyndham Tower but Pest’s leg gets ripped open by a creature. They drag  him into the block and just spot Sam going into her flat and they force their way in. She is sceptical about their story of alien creatures but agrees to patch up Pest’s leg. Something bangs at her door  and a creature breaks through into the flat. Moses strikes it through the head with a sword and it dies instantly. The boys try to figure out what to do next while Sam sneaks away but she hears the sound of several creatures prowling around in the block and decides she’s safer sticking with the boys.

Criminal teenage gangs are really strange protagonists to choose. At the start you agree with old woman who gives a Sam a cup of tea to help her relax who wants them all locked up. Later on their mask of bravado gives way to genuine acts of courage. Pest will either grow on you or drive you crazy because he will not shut up. The young unknown cast are very convincing, especially the boys playing Pest and Moses. The dialogue sounds very authentic.

For a low-budget film like this the alien creatures seemed pretty effective. They are big creatures covered in deep black hair with a maw of blue glowing teeth and no other visible features. I know it is guys in costumes but its a pretty smart costume design that allows a nice realistic feel the to the motion of the creatures. The scene of them seeing the creatures outside of a window high up the block was so good they did it twice.

I see people refer to this film as a comedy horror and I think is misleading. There is quite bit of humour in the film but I don’t think it is a comedy. I think it is more of a science fiction creature feature.  I really enjoyed it and look forward to seeing Joe direct more films in the future. I’d also not mind seeing more of the boys.

Rating 7/10

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review : The Rig

On an oil rig out at sea a young inexperienced roughneck Colin ( Dan Benson) is operating a remote camera while they place the drill on the sea floor and open a vent but something pushed at the drill and then the camera is attacked and goes dead. It cuts to Colin bitching to his brother Freddy (Stacey Hinnen) about getting sent off the rig as an approaching storm means non-essential crew are being evacuated. This dull scene of family BS and childish hissy fit is a bad sign for this film. Colin leaves for the mainland to go and sulk in his room or something.

So now we have the skeleton crew on the rig isolated from any hope rescue while the rig is hit by a storm. In the control room there is a Scottish guy with a red beard called Wallace and young smartass called Andrew. Jim (William Forsythe) the guy in charge of the rig is there making sure that they’re getting ready for the storm. His daughter Carey (Serah D’Laine) appears and doesn’t do much other than be there. I really couldn’t figure what her job was and why she was so important that she had to stay. Freddy is down under the rig with a Puerto Rican woman Rodriguez examining the wreckage of the remote vehicle and camera that was destroyed at the start and they find a long serrated claw.

There’s a small crisis with the drill’s compressor that has been left running by Earl after the drilling stopped. He’s there with Dobbs (Scott Martin) who heroically takes the blame when Jim calls wanting to know what’s going on. Earl goes into the compressor control room to switch it off when he hears a noise then suddenly he’s a smear of blood on the window.

Most of the rest crew gather in the galley including the creepy ex-special forces guy Faulkner and a cook who thinks he’s working in a restaurant. Turns out that Dobbs is shagging Carey (that’s why she’s still there) and everyone knows about it including her father. He comes down to the galley because the compressor is still on and Earl is missing so he sends the crew off to search for him but apart from the blood in the compressor room there‘s no sign of Earl.

Now we’ve been round the crew each of them starts getting picked by the strange creature which seems to be a small hunched humanoid creature with giant teeth and claws. Of course just because a crew-member has gone missing is probably dead that’s no reason not to have fun. Dobbs and Carey get smoochy in Carey’s quarters while Freddy and Rodriguez get at it in the shower in the gym.

I found this film to be about SyFy channel level. It really just boils to an unexplained creature running loose killing a bunch people trapped with it, this time on an oil rig. The dramatic padding it had with various relationships was not really convincing.

Rating 5/10

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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