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Review: Twixt

The DVD Pile

Twixt DVD 001This film seems to have just appeared out of nowhere with no publicity despite being directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The film is more of a supernatural mystery thriller than a straight horror film but the story seems to be just a series of things happening with no real sense of urgency to tie them together or have them make sense.

Hall Baltimore (Val Kilmer) is a struggling horror writer touring around the country trying to publicise his latest book and he gets to small town where the locals seem completely uninterested. The local sheriff Bobby LaGrange (Bruce Dern) fancies himself as a writer and wants Hall to co-write a book based on an idea has based on series of murders. He offers to show Hall the body of the latest victim, a young girl with a large wooden stake stuck into her chest.

There was a terrible murder in the town in an old hotel where a paranoid religious freak that cared for bunch of young orphans murdered all the children to save their souls from corruption because he thought one boy had run away to join the vampires who live across the lake.

That night Hall has a dream that seems to have been inspired by David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. He meets a young girl called V (Elle Fanning) which is short for both Virginia the girl’s given name and Vampirella the girl’s nickname. He also goes to hotel which isn’t empty and abandoned like it is in the real world but has two people a strange old man who insists on fixing a clock and a woman who wants to serve him breakfast before picking up a guitar and singing Big Rock Candy Mountain.

V appears at the window and the woman tries to sneak out to catch her but V bites her and gets away. Hall starts following her but when he turns back to hotel he sees a dozen young children emerge from the hotel basement with a man who plays with them. V tells Hall that they are the dead kids so clearly that means the man is their murderer. Hall follows V in to the woods but she vanishes. Edgar Allen Poe (Ben Chaplin) appears so Hall asks him for help writing his story but that’s when Hall wakes up in his motel room.

The dream sequences are highly stylized with everything in subdued monochrome but there are splashes of red while V and the other children seem to be more brightly lit. Hal goes into this same dreamland a few more times, mostly to talk to Poe for advice on writing his next book.

Hall’s wife is desperate for money so Hall gets in touch with his publisher to beg for an advance which the publisher agrees to but only if Hall sends an outline with a fully fleshed-out ending. Hall’s search for a decent story with an ending is the main driving force of the plot and the murders really seem to only be a subplot.

Hall is so desperate for a story that he actually takes the idea from the outline LaGrange gave him and agrees to co-author the book with him. This is a strange decision because even if Hall is desperate LaGrange seems a bit unstable and even has model of a vampire execution machine that he has thought up for his story inspired by the stake murders.

It is a strange film that kind of wanders around feeling a bit disjointed before settling down to a bizarre ending that didn’t really wrap things up. I liked the dream sequences but the film did have a lot of them. The film features red quite a lot in the dream sequences and there are clocks all over the place which I’m sure is very symbolic.

Rating 5.5/10

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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


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October Horror Day 3

Horror Journal


I’ve only got time for a double bill tonight so I decided on a little vampire special with two very different modern takes on vampires bother released in 1987. They do share another important theme and that is family but their tone is very different.

Near Dark

This film is a dark gritty take on vampires from Kathyrn Bigelow and there’s no glamour and not much magic about this itinerant “family” of bloodsuckers. Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) is a country boy who meets a young woman called Mae (Jenny Wright) and they get talking but as they talk through the night Mae gets worried about getting home before sunrise. Caleb doesn’t take her concerns seriously and tries to get Mae to give him a kiss. Mae agrees and then bites him on the neck before running off down the road. Caleb is confused and feeling a bit strange. He’s been turned into vampire and he walks across a dusty field in the morning sun he starts burning badly. Mae is part of a small gang of vampires and they drive up in camper van and bundle Caleb inside. The plan is to kill him to stop him describing them to the authorities and Severen (Bill Paxton) is ready to that right away but Mae pleads for his life. Their leader Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen) agrees to give Caleb a week to adjust to being a vampire or they will kill him. At first Mae gets away with feeding Caleb herself but Jesse insist that Caleb has to cross the line and kill to feed himself or he’s dead. Meanwhile Caleb father’s Loy (Tim Thomerson) and younger sister Sarah are making their way across the country hunting for him

This film was so unique in many ways when it was made which takes a more realistic view of vampires and makes them more human but no less brutal. The scene in the bar where they kill off the patrons while laughing and dancing is tense and brutal. The shoot-out at the motel is another memorable scene with the vampires actually burning in the sun with flames coming from their bodies and not some sort of melting special effect. I admit I neglect this film a bit when it comes to re-watching films but then it really isn’t a feel-good film and I like being reminded how good this film is when I do get round to it

The Lost Boys

This is another one of my favourite films and every time I see it I just fall in love with the characters, the setting, the look the music all over again. Lucy (Dianne West) and her sons Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) moves back to stay with her father (Barnard Hughes) in the town of Santa Carla on the Californian coast. Sam meets two boys Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Allen (Jamison Newlander) Frog who claim to be vampire hunters working in their parent’s comic book store. Sam doesn’t take them seriously at all until Michael comes down with a bad case of vampirism after hanging out with a group of vampire bikers led by David (Kiefer Sutherland). His only chance of rescuing Michel is to find the original vampire and kill him but that isn’t going to be easy, leading to a climactic showdown with the bloodsuckers.

This is much lighter in tone than Near Dark and it’s bright and full of humour. Though you don’t really see them doing it the vampires in this film can fly and they do it all the time. It’s just so full of what was good about 80s horror films and is an essential part of my Halloween viewing


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Posted by on October 3, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: Dracula Prince of Darkness

October Horror Month

It’s time for another Hammer vampire film and this is one with Count Dracula but no Van Helsing this time around. This sequel to Hammer’s first Dracula film starts with a recap of the events that led to the destruction of Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) at the hands of Abraham Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) and it is being narrated by Father Sandor (Andrew Keir) who is Van Helsing’s replacement in this story and he really is a great character

There’s seems to be funeral procession in the woods? A group of men are carrying the body of a young woman followed by a priest and a man with a hammer and a wooden stake and suddenly it becomes clear. Instead of burying her they are going to stake the body through the heart and burn it on a pyre. Frau Koenig the mother of the dead woman runs towards them to try to stop them. The priest tries to comfort her and assure her that it’s for the best. They are interrupted by a gunshot. A very angry Father Sandor insults them and calls them superstitious frightened idiots and scolds the priest for being about commit blasphemy. He orders the men to take body to the churchyard and since the priest refuses to do it he will carry out the service.

At the local bar a tourist Charles Kent (Francis Matthews) is splashing the cash buying drinks for the locals and enjoying himself. His sister-in-law Helen (Barbara Shelley) is offended by Charles enjoying himself and seems to have been permanently complaining about everything and everyone since they left England. Helen is married to Charles’s brother Alan (Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell) and along with as Charles’s wife Diana (Suzan Farmer) they are a sightseeing and rock climbing tour of the Carpathian Mountains. Father Sandor enters and he sneers and insults the locals, tearing down the garlic hanging from the ceiling. Sandor joins the group of tourists at the fire and warms his arse. At the fire and Charles introduces everyone and Sandor introduces himself as the Abbot of Kleinburg. Sandor invites them to the monastery but Helen tells him that they are planning to go to Karlsbad land he says they shouldn’t go there but he doesn’t say why then he tells them to at least stay away from the castle that’s not on the map which probably not the right thing to say to this bunch.

The coach driver dumps them off the coach at crossroads two miles outside of Karlsbad. The castle that’s not on the map dominates the landscape but the coach driver won’t look at it or even acknowledge its existence. He dumps their luggage so he’s not robbing them and says he’ll be back in morning after sunrise to take anyone still there on to Karlsbad. Helen wants to complain to authorities but there are not many police out in the countryside. Helen really doesn’t want to go the castle so they go to a broken down hut to wait out the night.

A coach and horses suddenly appears with no driver and stops at the crossing. Everyone gets on board and Charles tries to drive the horses to Karlsbad but they head for the castle and can’t be stopped until they get there. The men get out then Helen and Diana. Helen really is scared of the place. Charles finds the door is open and while they debate entering the coach leaves with their luggage. Helen and Charles bicker while Diana finds the table in castle is set for four. Helen is really freaking and again tells them that she wants to leave.

Charles goes upstairs and looks around for someone and finds two bedrooms with their luggage in them. He fetches Alan and shows him. Klove (Philip Latham) appears creeping out of the shadows and Helen screams so Alan and Charles run down and Klove introduces himself and apologizes for startling Helen. He is ready to serve dinner and everyone seems to settling and Helen can’t understand why they aren’t seeing this is all a trap. Charles asks when Klove’s master will be joining them. Klove tells him that his master is dead, but he left instructions the castle should always be prepared for guests. Klove tells them his master was Count Dracula and Helen seems to expecting the room to suddenly bite down and eat them  while the others toast the late Count.

It’s bedtime and Charles and Diana are getting ready for bed. Diana asks Charles if he noticed the change in Helen mood and of course he’s oblivious. She is genuine afraid not just the grumpy whiner she usually is

Klove knocks on Helen and Alan’s door to ask if there’s anything they need and wishes them a good night. Helen says she feels like she’s in a bad dream and she can’t convince anyone of the danger they are in. When Alan tries to assure her that she’ll feel better in the morning Helen replies “There’ll be no morning for us.”

Helen is having bad dreams and she wakes Alan saying somebody called her name but Alan says she was just dreaming. There are noises from the hallway and Alan looks and sees Klove dragging a trunk downstairs. Helen begs him not to go but Alan follows Klove to see what he’s up to. Helen is scared to be alone and locks her door. Alan finds a passageway behind a tapestry that leads down to a tomb inscribed Dracula. As he’s nosing around Klove appears and stabs him. He used a pulley to hang Alan’s body over the tomb and puts the ashes of Dracula in then he slits Alan’s throat and the blood pours into the tomb and Dracula reforms out of the blood and remains

Klove fetches Helen, mentioning her husband in a tone that suggests that he’s in trouble and sends her down to the tomb where she sees Alan’s dead body just hanging there and screams. Then Dracula appears and he doesn’t say anything. He smiles a big toothy grin and he wraps Helen under his cloak and I’m guessing he bites her.

In the morning Charles and Diana are looking for Helen and Alan or even Klove. Diana wants to leave and Charles agrees. He takes her to the hut at the crossing and he goes back to the castle to find Helen and Alan. At the castle he calls for Klove but he’s not around. That’s because Klove is back at the crossing with a horse and cart and he picks up Diana saying Charles sent him to pick her up.

Charles finds the passage behind the tapestry and he goes down to tomb but he doesn’t see Dracula in his tomb asleep butt he does find Alan’s body and runs off in horror. The sun sets and Dracula wakes up

Klove arrives at the castle with Diana and he locks her inside. Helen appears with hair down dressed in a nightdress and letting it all hang out. She has fangs and goes to bite Diana and Dracula appears snarling at her and tosses her away and grabs Diana. Charles appears and tells him to let her go. Helen tries to attack Charles and he drives her off. Then Dracula and Charles fight. Charles gets a sword but Dracula is too strong and grabs the sword out of Charles’s hand and snaps it and starts strangling Charles. Diana’s cross burns Helen so she uses it to ward off Helen while Charles forms a cross from the broken sword and wards off Dracula and they get away out of the castle. Helen goes to Dracula but he’s after Diana.

Charles and Diana are fleeing at full speed but the coach loses a wheel and tips them out and Diana is knocked unconscious. Charles carries her until he’s exhausted and he meets Sandor who takes them to Kleinburg monastery. Charles thought vampires were just a legend but Sandor tells him that in Carpathians Dracula is real and tells him there are ways of destroying a vampire, running water, sunlight, a stake through the heart. Sandor suggests they send Diana back to England out of Dracula’s reach then they can both return to the castle and destroy him.

Sandor takes Charles to see Ludwig (Thorley Walters) the monastery’s pet insane person who decorates book covers with gold leaf and eats files. He wants Sandor to approve his latest work and once he’s done that he tells them to go. Outside Klove has arrived in a covered wagon containing two coffins. He asks if he can come in for the night but they don’t let him inside. Ludwig senses Dracula and seems to receive hi instructions and starts working on the bars in his window with hammer and chisel. Sandor is saying that Dracula wil try to come after Diana but he cannot cross a threshold unless invited. Ludwig climbs out of the window through the broken bars and he goes to the main door and lets Dracula in

Diana hears knock on window its Helen claiming to have gotten away from Dracula and begging to be let inside. Diana of course falls for it and Helen bites her but Dracula grabs her away and Diana screams at the sight of him. Sandor wants to see bite and then uses a lamp to burn out the evil. He and Charles the leave Diana getting treated by monk and go out to the wagon and Sandor puts crucifixes in Dracula’s coffin

The monks have caught Helen and Sandor takes Charles to see what he has to do. Sandor tells Charles that Helen is dead and that is just evil using her body. The monks hold her down; Sandor hammers a stake into her heart and Charles turns away in horror. Afterwards he says a prayer over Helen who is now looking peacefully dead.

Ludwig fetches Diana to come see Sandor but really it’s for Dracula and she falls for it again. He locks the door and with his red eyes and pointy finger he mesmerises Diana and makes her remove her cross. He opens his shirt and cuts his chest with a fingernail and just about to make Diana drink it when he hears the voice of Charles out in the hallway and runs away with her into the coach.

Sandor and Charles get horses. They need to catch up on the wagon before it reaches it castle and Klove is driving the horses really fast. They take a short-cut off-road and overtake Klove. Charles shoots Klove but the horses run off by themselves back to the castle where they hit the side of a bridge and knock Dracula’s coffin out onto the ice covering a river (which is the first time it has even looked cold never mind wintry). Charles goes to take care of staking Dracula but the sunsets and Dracula wakes up and fights him. Diana shoots at Dracula but misses and breaks the ice. Dracula is looking worried so Sandor keeps shooting the ice until it cracks and dumps Dracula in the river flowing under the ice which just about the weakest vampire death I’ve ever seen.

Although it doesn’t have Peter Cushing Andrew Kier is great fun as the no-nonsense Father Sandor. Christopher Lee was very unhappy with dialogue written for him in this film so he just tossed it and never says a thing and still delivers a great performance as Dracula. Barbara Shelley is really excellent as Helen, and I especially enjoyed her performance where she’s very sensibly terrified and her friends are oblivious to the danger. It’s not the best of Hammer Dracula films but it is pretty solid apart from the ending and broad daylight pretending to be the middle of the night.

Rating 8.0/10

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Posted by on October 18, 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: Ninjas vs Vampires

When Cowboys vs Aliens got made this seems to have inspired a surge of cash-in action based on similar cross-genre titles by other studios. One approach was to re-title films they had already made so the Quick and the Undead got re-titled Cowboys vs Zombies. This film fully embraces the pure cheesiness of the concept and seems to have had this title from the start and despite having almost no budget they have produced a fun film that is worth watching.

Two friends Aaron (Jay Saunders) and Alex (Devon Marie Burt) are sitting in a park at night talking when they get attacked by group of vampires. Aaron lies helpless, watching as they go to bite Alex. Then a group of ninjas appear out of nowhere and wipe out the vampires. Aaron wakes up in his bed and remembers the incidents of the night before so he goes to check on Alex. But she has no memory of the vampire attacks or ninja rescue. Even worse Aaron discovers that she instantly forgets about them even after he tells her what happened.

Aaron tracks down ninjas and watching their house when he gets discovered and captured. The ninjas also capture Alex but her memory is still playing games and she’s unable to remember where she is and why, a side-effect of meeting the vampires. They realise that if they let them go the vampires will use them to find out where the ninjas live. The ninja team have a magical amulet used by their sorceress Ann (Melissa McConnell) as a weapon which she uses to change Aaron into a ninja, since its a better  option than killing him. The rest of the team are Lily (Carla Okouchi) a vampire who only feeds on the blood and power of other vampires, Cole (Cory Okouchi)  the leader of the group and finally there’s the wisecracking Kyle (Daniel Ross).

The vampires are led by Seth (Kurt Skarstedt) who really plays his part as the evil bad guy and giant ham pretty well. He is wealthy and well-connected but he has big plans. He offers the other vampires sanctuary in return for attacking the ninjas and bringing him the magical amulet which will make him all powerful and resistant to all attacks including sunlight. His vampires are like bunch of squabbling spoilt children who look like they dressed in a Halloween costume shop, including one called Maximilian who wears a huge helmet with a plume and a red jerkin from an old style British military uniform.

The acting in this film is at about the amateur dramatics level at best but there is a lot of self-deprecating humour in the dialogue which is what  just about saves this film. I know some people will not watch anything with this low a budget but if you can you may find yourself enjoying this film more than you expected to.

Rating 6.5

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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Entertainment, Film


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