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Review: From Dusk Till Dawn

I just got this on Blu-Ray giving me chance to revisit this fantastic film from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. This film blew me away when I first saw it because it really brilliantly takes a crime thriller and turns it into a vampire film. Quentin Tarantino has written some fantastic dialogue for this film.

The Gecko brothers are bad men who are on the run from the law after holding up a bank and killing cops, rangers and civilians and taking a bank teller hostage. They are in a liquor store holding two girls hostage while the clerk pretends to another ranger that they are not there. Seth (George Clooney) wants everything to go quietly and smoothly but thanks to Richie (Quentin Tarantino) the ranger and clerk and end up dead, Richie gets shot in the hand and the liquor store is blasted to bits. Seth brings up the meaning of the phrase ‘low profile’ but it’s clearly wasted on Richie.

They go to a run-down motel where they try to figure out a way to get across the border to Mexico. Seth arranges a safe place across the border with a guy called Carlos but he still hasn’t figured out a way to get there. He leaves Richie alone with the hostage while he goes to buy food which turns out to be a very big mistake because when he returns the hostage is dead and her body mutilated. Seth loses his patience with Ritchie and pins him to the wall but then realises his brother is too demented to be reached and just hugs him.

Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) is on the road in his RV accompanied by his daughter Kate (Juliette Lewis) and adopted son Scott (Ernest Liu). Jacob is a former Minister who has just quit his position as after falling out of love with God. They have been on the road a while and Jacob really wants to sleep in real bed so they stop at the same sleazy motel as the Gecko brothers. Seth sees their RV and it gives him a plan. The brothers trick their way into Jacob’s room and force him at gunpoint to agree to take them across the border in their RV. The journey to the border is very tense Jacob can’t trust Seth, Seth can’t trust Jacob and he certainly can’t trust Richie. When they come the border a border guard (Cheech Marin) inspects the van but the family convince the guard they are alone in the van.

Once over the border there is massive release of tension because Seth thinks they are now all free and clear. He tells Jacob to drive to their rendezvous, a sleazy rowdy biker bar near the border called the Titty Twister. The place has a huge neon sign outside with the name and a cartoon demonstration of exactly what the name means. Outside the bar is doorman Chet Pussy (Cheech Marin) encouraging punters to enter with the range of pussy the bar features. When Seth goes to pass Chet to get to the door Chet stops him and return Seth beats him to the ground and leads the way into the bar. Richie takes a sneaky chance to kick Chet violently as he passes.

When they enter the Titty Twister what they see is like a hellraiser’s idea of paradise with booze, rock music and semi-naked dancing girls on the tables and in alcoves in the wall and random meaningless fights amongst the patrons. Seth goes to the bar and tries to intimidate the barman Razor Charlie (Danny Trejo) into serving them but it really doesn’t work. Fortunately Jacob manages to calm down the tension and they get their drinks, grab a table and settle down to drink and wait for dawn.

Everyone starts to settle down and relax, particularly Scott and Richie. Razor Charlie then introduces the main act of the night on the stage and he gets away with telling them straight she is a demonic high priestess of Satan. On comes Santanico Pandemonium (Salma Hayek) with a yellow boa constrictor draped over her body. She doesn’t so much dance as stride around like hungry cat and stare at the meat in front of her. She walks across the tables to the one where the Geckos and Fullers are sitting. She lifts Richie’s beer and pours it down her leg to her foot in Richie’s mouth. When the music ends she basks in the applause of the spellbound crowd.

Chet meanwhile has entered the bar and spoken to Razor Charlie and the bar’s bouncer and they come over to the table to call out the Geckos as the ones that beat up Chet outside. Richie and Seth are ready for trouble with their guns drawn and they shoot the three men ‘dead’. That’s when Santanico and her girls all vamp out and attack the customers and she herself goes for Richie, biting a chunk out of his neck. There is widespread slaughter, especially with three ‘dead’ men come back to life and rejoin the battle. The house band have also vamped out are playing human bodies as instruments. Very soon there is only Seth, the Fullers and two other customers left alive, a Vietnam veteran called Frost (Fred Williamson) and Sex Machine (Tom Savini) who packs a spring-loaded revolver in his codpiece.

They kill off the vampires in the bar (except the band who disappear in a flash of smoke) but get worried about the sound of flapping wings outside. First they realise that they have deal with the corpses before they come back to life. Kate and Sex machine go around staking the bodies with table legs. Sex machine gets bit by one before he kills it but he hides his bite from the others. Richie come back to life and Frost is about to take him out but Seth stops him. Then Richie vamps out and Seth stakes him while the others hold him.

They have a few moments of calm so Seth takes charge of trying to figure out what’s going and what they can do about it. Jacob points out that everything they know about vampires comes from old horror films. Seth talks about weapons and says if he still had his faith that Jacob himself would be their most valuable weapon so if Jacob can get over his anger with God they’d be a lot better off.

Frost starts telling them about his experiences in Vietnam but while he talks we see Sex Machine is struggling to hide his transformation from the others. He eventually vamps out and attacks, biting a chunk out of Jacobs’s arm. After some struggle he bites Frost who picks him up and throws him out a window. This is not a mistake as Frost has immediately vamped out and just let hundreds of vampires in bat form into the bar. Seth Kate and Scott escape to a store room while Jacob ends up trapped behind the bar counter.

Italiano: Quentin Tarantino e Robert Rodriguez...

Tarantino and Rodriguez Image via Wikipedia

Jacob finds his faith and creates a makeshift cross out of a baseball bat through the loading mechanism of a shotgun and clears a path with both the cross and the gun through the mass of vampires to the storeroom. The storeroom is full of stuff taken from the trucks of the bar’s previous victims. They go through the boxes and get themselves armed and ready for a showdown. Scott has water guns and condoms full of water blessed by Jacob. Kate has found an auto-loading crossbow. Seth has made himself a stake fixed on a jackhammer. Before they leave the storeroom Jacob makes the others promise to kill him as soon as he vamps out and while has no problem believing Seth he pushes for a sincere promise from Kate and Scott.

They attack the vampires and just about manage to stay alive, killing many of them. Then the inevitable happens and Jacob vamps out. Scott hesitates for a moment and Jacobs bites him before Scott takes out half of Jacob’s head with a condom and Kate finishes him with a crossbow bolt. Scott gets seized by a mob of vampires who begin feeding on him and he begs Kate to kill him. She shoots him and it kills both him and vampires feeding on him.

Now it’s down to just Kate and Seth who are getting low on ammo. Then the sun rises and Seth sees the vampires trying to avoid the shafts of light. Carlos (Cheech Marin) arrives outside the door and calls out for Seth who tells him to blast the door open. As the sun comes in many vampires are roasted immediately and many more get killed by reflections of the sun off a large disco ball on the ceiling.

The first thing Seth does is punch Carlos but Carlos explains that he had only ever passed the place and had never been in it. Seth gives Kate some money and apologises for what happened to her family and tells her to go home. He leaves with Carlos while Kate drives off in the RV. The camera then pulls back to a wide shot of the back the Titty Twister which is actually the top of an Aztec temple and there is a large pit full of hundreds of bikes and trucks of all the victims of the place.

Seeing this film again has actually increased my liking for it. I’ve seen other attempts to merge the crime thriller genre with the horror genre but none have done it as well as this film. The action is violent and when it really begins in the second half it is almost relentless. The performances were great all round even from Quentin Tarantino who I really believed as a violent insane sex offender with a short fuse.

Rating 9/10

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Posted by on February 12, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review : The Lost Boys

Corey Haim.

Corey Haim

The Lost Boys is a classic 80s vampire film that it is always a real pleasure to watch. It is funny and scary and has a really excellent soundtrack. This film takes the vampire myths and drags them into the 80s and it fully embraces and celebrates the 80s culture that birthed it with music and clothing that gives a great sense of a film set in a real time in real place.

The film opens at night with a POV vamp-cam flying across the sea down to a boardwalk fairground. It’s all bright lights and people having fun but there a lot of punks hanging out. Two different groups start having at go at each other. One group is a bunch of surf nazi all tattoos and shaven head. The other group are all like member of an 80s metal band with long dark coats and big hair. These are our antagonists we see much more of them later but they are led by David (Kiefer Sutherland). A security guard breaks them up before the trouble escalates. Later we see the security guard making his way across an empty car-park to his car but were seeing it from the vamp-cam and a snatch of theme music is playing. The guard look up at the sky and  he is scared by what he sees. He runs for his car but doesn’t make it

Next day Lucy Emerson (Dianne West) is arriving in Santa Carla with her two teenage sons Sam (Corey Haim who tragically died last year. That really came a total shock to me) and Michael (Jason Patric). Santa Carla is is a Californian beach resort town whose glory days are long past. It is busting with the remnants of decades of counterculture,  hippies, punks and surf nazis crowding the streets as Echo and the Bunnymen sing People are Strange. They pass and old tatty “Welcome to Santa Carla” sign and on the back is graffiti  that says “Murder Capital of the World”

Sam is not happy about the move to Santa Carla and the sign is not very reassuring, but clearly Lucy has no choice. They arrive at her father’s house to find him lying his porch looking dead. Sam asks “If he’s dead, can we go back to Phoenix?” at which point Grandpa (Barnard Hughes) gets up, laughing at his own joke. Grandpa is an eccentric character and he’s sporting a Willlie Nelson look. The house is packed with deer antlers and stuffed animals. After Sam has a quick look around he is horrified to find no sign of a TV. While Grandpa is laying down his house rules he says no-one is touch his TV guide when its delivered. Sam ask hopefully if Grandpa has TV and is shattered when Grandpa says “Read the TV guide you don’t need a TV”

That night Sam and Michael go to the board-walk in town. There’s a band playing there, with a big muscular saxophone player Tom Capello singing I Still Believe. Michael catches sight of an attractive young woman Star (Jami Gertz) who is watching him. She leaves and gives Michael a little glance back to see if he is following. Michael does and Sam complains about being at the mercy of his sex glands and goes off to do is his own thing.

Lucy is also on the boardwalk we see there are lots of notices for missing people plastered all over the place, many of them fresh, including one for the security guard from the start of the film. The sheer number is a bit unsettling. Lucy sees a young boy on his own outside a video store and finds he is lost. She takes him into the store and asks the owner Max (Edward Herrman) for helping in finding the boy’s mother. The mother appears seconds later happy to find her son safe and takes him away. Lucy reveal she is looking for a job and indicate Max’s “help wanted” sign in the window.

Sam has spotted a comic book store and despite his way-out trendy clothing  he is a major comic book nerd. Sam really does stand out amongst the freaks, hippies and punks of Santa Carla.and this gets a comment from one the two boys who are working in the store. Sam demonstrates his nerd credentials by criticising the placement of various comic books. The boys introduces themselves as Edgar and Alan Frogg (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) That is just a fantastic pair of the names and Edgar delivers it so straight and its always followed by the unspoken thought “seriously?”  by whoever he’s talking to as they mentally adjust their reality accommodate the Frogg Brothers. The brothers both talk with put-on deep voices under the very mistaken impression that it makes them sound tough so when Edgar presses a vampire comic into his hands and warns him it may save his life he really doesn’t take them seriously.

Michael is still following Star but is disappointed when he finally catches up with her and she leaves with David and his gang on the back of David’s motorcycle. As they drive off she looks regretfully back at Michael. Later we see a couple punks reading comics they stole from the Froggs’ store. Without warning the roof of their car is ripped off and they get dragged off into the air.

Next day Grandpa winds Sam up again by asking if he wants to go to town. In the garage he has a mint condition classic car and Sam is impressed and eager for the run into town, but Grandpa just turns the engine over for a minute then turns it off again “That’s about as close as I like to get to town” and gets out again. Sam burned again.

That night at the board-walk. Sam goes to talk to the Frogg brothers again and they try and convince him that they are vampire hunters and that Santa Carla is a haven for the undead. Once more they press a vampire comic into his hand Edgar shows him their number on the back  Edgar says “pray you never need to call us,” and Sam replies sincerely “I pray I never need to call you” with a brilliant expression on his face

Michael has met up with Star and again she’s about to leave with David and the gang. This time David invites Michael to follow on his bike to the bluff. They race along the beach in the dark and it is very misty all of a sudden. At last minute on instinct Micheal swerves to stop just in time to stop going over a cliff. He’s not happy but David and friends are laughing about it and they invite Michael down to their hideout. They are in an old hotel that fell intoa fault during the large San Francisco earthquake and is now a well furnished cave.

David’s gang are Marko (Alex Winter), Paul (Brooke McCarter),  Dwayne (Billy Wirth), a nine-year-old boy called Laddie for some reason and of course Star. David Gives Michael rice from takeaway someone has brought tin. He starts to eat when David ask how he likes his maggots. David looks down to see the container crawling with maggots and he spits out what he ate. Moments later the container is just full of rice again. David also seems to make Michael see a tub of noodles as a tub of worms.

Now that Michael has been softened up David offers him a drink from an ornate bottle. The atmosphere has changed and now instead of laughing they are hungrily willing Michael on to accept the drink, all except for Star who tries to warn that the drink is blood, but thinks it is another trick and takes a drink and feels a rush going through him s he is changed.

They all ride out to a railway bridge and cross over to the middle. Michael is shocked when each of the gang seems to just leap off to their deaths until he hears them call him from under the bridge where they are hanging. Michael joins them and then a train comes over the bridge shaking it. One by one the gang lose their grip on the bridge and fall off in the misty valley below. Soon Michael is hanging there alone and just before he loses his grip he once more hears the voices of the gang below him. He falls too and lands back in his own bed.

Next day Sam wakes Michael with call from their mother. She wants to Michael stay home and take care of Sam while she goes out for dinner with Max. Michael is looking really rough. Later on in the evening Grandpa is heading out on a date himself and douses himself in window cleaner as a substitute for cologne.

Not long after Grandpa  leaves there there are sounds and lights like a bunch of motorcycles are driving round the house. When Michael opens the door the noises stop and there is no sign of anyone there. Sam goes upstairs and has a bath. He has it full of foam and is listening to music, some old blues duet and he’s singing along to both parts while playing with the suds. His dog /wolf Nanook is sitting at the side of the bath. Downstairs Michael takes a drink of milk from the carton and has a violent vamp-spasm. He looks up and his eyes are glowing yellow instead of bright blue. Hungry for blood he goes up to the bathroom and as he opens the door Sam ducks under the water to rinse himself off and Nanook sees the danger and attacks Michael.

Later Sam comes out of the bathroom confused looking for Micheal and finds him downstairs bleeding from a vicious bite on his hand from Nanook. He tells Sam Nanook was just trying to protect Sam from Michael. Sam then sees Michael’s reflection in a mirror and it is faded and ghostly. Sam freaks, runs upstairs and locks himself in his room. He calls the Froggs and Edgar confirms that is looks like his brother is vampire. His only advice “Kill your brother, you’ll feel better,”  is just not something Sam is ready to do

Michael is having trouble lying down to sleep. His problem is not the sleeping part, but he can’t stop floating off his bed and it gets so bad he ends up floating out of his window. Next door Sam answers a call from Lucy and is reassuring her that everything is fine when suddenly he sees Michael floating outside his window and he just freaks out screaming for help. Michael tries to reassure her on the other extension but she leaves for home right away.

After Sam calms down he lets Michael in and they promise to tell Lucy nothing and try to sort it out together. Sam tries to claim he was just having a nightmare after reading a scary comic and Lucy is exasperated because she knows it’s BS and no-one is telling her anything. Michael goes out to the bluff to see Star who confirms that he is a vampire and that drink really was blood just like she said. The scene turns to sex fairly quickly.

Next day Lucy tries to get some information from Michael but he just slips off to bed. She takes Sam along to Max’s while she drops of a bottle wine to apologise for leaving dinner early. She goes in the gate to leave it on the doorstep and sees Max’s dog Thornn who turns savage and chases her off. Thornn was previously a normal friendly dog that Lucy had already met. Sam connects the dog’s behaviour to hell-hounds used by vampires to protect them in the daytime and calls the Froggs. Sam finds out from Edgar that Michael may still be saved. If he hasn’t killed anyone he is only half-vampire and if the head vampire whose blood he drank is killed then he’ll recover and be human again.

Lucy tells the boys that Max is coming over for dinner to make up for the previous night. Michael is of course going out. Sam sees his chance and calls the Froggs to help him test Max to see if he is the head vampire. Michael is just leaving as Max arrives and Max makes of point of being invited in by David (vamp-alarm beeping). Then Sam shows up with his guests for dinner, the Frogg brothers. Dinner is disaster thanks to the boys attempts to test Max, first with raw garlic instead of parmesan. This merely serves to upset Lucy and leaves them thinking that Max is a normal human.

Michael is gone down at the beach with David and the gang  sitting in a tree. nearby a group of surf nazi are having a beach party drinking and dancing around a bonfire. David has brought Michael here to show him what he is. The gang all fly out of the tree and attack the party group slaughtering them all and tossing their bodies on the fire. Michael is disgusted and successfully battles his own blood-lust. David says to him “You’ll never grow old, never die but you must feed,” and they leave him.

Michael goes back home and ask for Sam’s help. Star appears floating outside Sam’s window and Sam dives under his blanket in fear. Star asks for Michael’s help for herself and Laddie who are also both half vampires. David had in fact intended Michael to be Star’s first kill but clearly that plan was changed when she didn’t do it. Sam tells them he has contacts and as Star flies off again Sam tells her to make sure she doesn’t kill anyone.

Sam calls the Frogg brothers to come round and they all head for the vampire nest in Grandpa’s classic car. Michael takes care of getting Laddie and Star out to car. Sam and the Froggs head off to hunt for the sleeping vampires. When they find them they are shocked to find that they sleep while hanging by their big ugly demon feet from the roof of their cave. They don’t know which one is the head vampire. Edgar suggests killing them all smallest one first. He climbs up a stakes Marko right through the chest. Marko dies but it is a noisy bloody mess and the other vampires all wake up. “You’re dead meat,” David growls at them and chases after them as they run for the exit. He manages to grab Sam but the Froggs pull Sam out into the daylight which burns David and he has to let them go for now.

They race home to get ready David’s retribution that night. Grandpa watches carrying Star and Laddie into the house but he merely asks if they knew the rule about filling the car with gas when they take it without permission. Lucy is going on another date with Max which gets her out of the way. Sam tells Grandpa about widow Johnston expecting him that night. I think you can see Grandpa is just pretending to believe Sam, just like he pretended he didn’t notice them carrying sleeping vampires into the house.

The vampires attack and Nanook kills one in a bath of holy water, saving the Frogg brothers. Sam shoots another one with an arrow right into the stereo system. That leaves David who goes into a flying hand to hand battle with Michael. Michael defeats David but he’s still a vampire because David was not the head vampire.

Lucy returns home with Max and is looking over the mess and trying to understand it. Sam and the Froggs try to explain but then Max takes over because he is really the head vampire. Their tests were useless because Max was invited in by Michael. Max wanted them to all be vampires and be one big happy family to which Edgar quips ” Great, The bloodsucking Brady Bunch,”

Max seizes Sam and threaten to kill him if Lucy does not agree to join him. Just then Grandpa’s truck horn sounds and it crashes through the wall staking Max with a big fence post and killing him.  Michael, Star and Laddie are human again. Grandpa gets out of the truck and just says “One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach, all the damn vampires.”

Rating 9/10

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Stake Land

Martin (Connor Paolo) travels with Mister (Nick Damici) across an American landscape devastated by a vampire plague. Government has fallen, the cities are infested and the survivors are left to defend themselves against the bestial vampires that come out every night. Teenage Martin was living with his parents when the plague started and his father was trying to get his truck fixed to get them away from the vampires but one comes into the garage while Martin is outside and kills his family. Mister appears and kills the vampire then takes Martin along with him, sure the boy will not survive alone. They travel north away from the worse affected areas and take time out so that Mister can train Martin how to fight vampires. North is a place called New Eden that is supposed to be vampire free and they are headed there to see. The vampires in this film are like those from I Am Legend attacking with no sign of intelligence, they just attack like wild animals.

Most nights they have to find themselves a secure place but they also sometimes stay at small towns that successfully barricaded themselves against the vampires and which exist on the economics of bartering essential supplies and where there is still some element of normalcy. Between these places the countryside is dangerous and not just because of vampires. On the road they see a nun (Kelly McGillis) being chased by two men dressed in rags and furs. Mister kills both of them and they take the Sister with them since there really nowhere safe for her to go. She says they claimed to Christian and could help her but instead they tried to rape her.

As they travel they hear a cult preacher on the radio preaching about the vampires being sent from God. They call themselves the Brotherhood and seem to determined to make things much worse for everyone attacking barricades to allow vampires to invade the fragile sanctuaries of civilisation still left. Worse for Mister is that one of he men he killed rescuing the Sister is the son of their leader Jebediah Loven (Michael Cerveris)

This is great film thanks to the believable performances from the leads and script that keeps a tight focus on Martin’s story without wandering off into subplots. The narrow focus means we only gets hints of a bigger picture which is a good way of leaving it open for a sequel, as is the open ending. I think it draws the viewer into the story when you know as much the characters do and have to stick with them to find out more. It is a vampire film but there’s no glamour to these so the Twihards can bog off and the rest of us can relax and enjoy it.

Rating 8/10

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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FilmReview: Bloodyrayne 3 The Blood Reich

Uwe Boll

Image via Wikipedia

 This is the third story about Uwe Boll‘s vampire hunting heroine and this time the Nazis have really pissed her off. When Rayne (Natassia Malthe) joins a resistance attack on a transport train she carelessly infects Nazi Commandant Brand (Michael Paré) with her special super daywalker blood.

Brand plans to create an immortal daywalker army with the help of mad Nazi scientist Dr Mangler (Clint Howard) He also want to share his immortal powers with Hitler and is going to Berlin to do that. Rayne and Nathaniel (Brendan Fletcher) the local resistance leader must team-up to stop Brand’s plans.

This film has all the hallmarks of a Uwe Boll film. The acting is terrible especially Clint Howard who speaks his lines (in English) with an incredibly stupid German accent. It is pity there wasn’t anyone on the set who might have been able to help the actors sound a bit more authentically German.  The resistance fighters are a spectacularly unimpressive bunch of terrible actors. I couldn’t belive it when one character was supposed to be a genius codebreaker just ‘cos Boll read a book about the Enigma machine and other cool war stuff and shoved it in the script for no reason at all. Boll also indulges himself in a lengthy soft core lesbian sex scene just because.

Like in all badly written films the Nazi troops can’t hit anything unless the script calls for a character to be injured. Even the vampire Nazis died very easily. For a vampire film there were not enough vampires and the vampires, Nazis and vampire Nazis never ever seemed a credible threat at all.

This is not the worst film I have ever seen but it is badly written, directed, edited and acted. Give it miss

RATING  4/10

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1153546/

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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