goliath-amazon-prime-billy-bob-thornton-william-hurt-maria-bello-olivia-thirlby-nina-arianda-molly-parker-tania-raymonde-sarah-wynter-britain-dalton-damon-gupton-dwight-yoakam-kevin-weisman

Goliath: a formerly great (now-down-and-out) lawyer lands a case against his old firm and their biggest client; but his life suddenly takes a turn for the even worse. While the premise is nothing new or original, this is elevated by having a horde of superb characters, brilliantly acted by the top-drawer ensemble cast: Billy-Bob Thornton, Nina Arianda, Tania Raymonde, and Kevin Weisman in particular steal every scene they’re in with phenomenally dry and naturally funny performances. It’s also quite smutty and sweary compared to most other shows – the frequency and inappropriateness of which adds an extra layer to the humour. In style and tone, a lot of Goliath reminded me of Justified; very human and flawed characters that you want to spend more time with in knockabout situations with dive bars, blues music, and some peril / mystique thrown in. It’s also very well made, measuring up to the biggest budget shows around with a bright and slick look, top-end camerawork (those time lapses!!!) and a tremendous blues/rock soundtrack. In fact, my only two reservations about the show is that the main antagonist (Bill Hurt) is pretty much played as a Bond villain with a burnt face, living in a darkened layer, and given some token perversions. Also, the first six episodes have plenty laugh out loud moments, whereas the final two wrap things up in a more straightforward way. Goliath is so funny, addictive, and crammed with entertaining dialogue & performances that I watched all eight hours over two nights. It’s a solid courtroom drama for people who don’t even have to like Courtroom Dramas.

Score: 8.5/10

goliath-Mustang-amazon Prime-billy-bob-thornton-william-hurt-maria-bello-olivia-thirlby-nina-arianda-molly-parker-tania-raymonde-sarah-wynter-britain-dalton-damon-gupton-dwight-yoakam-kevin-weisman

the-card-player-il-cartaio-argento-stefania-rocca-liam-cunningham-silvio-muccino-adalberto-maria-merli-fiore-argento-cosimo-fusco-mia-benedetta-giovanni-visentin-verra-gemma-dario-argento

The Card Player (aka Il Cartaio): women in Rome are being kidnapped used as the prize in police Vs ‘serial killer’ online poker matches. For a film made in 2004 about ‘cutting edge technology’ it looks more like something from the early 1990s, especially going by the terminology used. The film boasts such a bizarre portrayal of cyber and counter-culture, with a Luddite’s view of technology, and fumbling awkward police IT techies (who are genuinely credited as “Anti Hackers” WTF R-Gent0!?). It also boasts the standard Euro-pudding bilingual issues: gaps between reactions, re-dubbed lines; back of head shots when people are talking… Every character is also over-worked to the point of becoming surreal: like a drunk Irishman who falls asleep singing Danny Boy (classic) and an inappropriate & unprofessionally touchy-feely flirty cop. It feels like Argento plays this far too broad, as the film awkwardly cuts from wacky things like a tapdancing coroner to a dead body with playing cards stuffed up their innards, and extremely detailed close-ups of rancid corpses. The Card Player offers up a few glimpses of classic Argento but overall, it’s a hammy, pedestrian, and tedious Giallo outing.

Score: 3/10

the-card-player-poster-il-cartaio-stefania-rocca-liam-cunningham-silvio-muccino-adalberto-maria-merli-fiore-argento-cosimo-fusco-mia-benedetta-giovanni-visentin-verra-gemma-dario-argento

Not feeling overly festive – check these Anti-Christmas movies out!

Paragraph Film Reviews

It’s the most wonderful time… of the yeeeeearrr – but you’re probably sick to death of the same 20 ‘classic movies’ being played on mega-rotation on every TV channel? Here’s a rundown of the best Anti-Christmas movies for people who fancy something a little different this festive season.

Bad Santa Terry Zwigoff. With Billy Bob Thornton, Bernie Mac, Lauren Graham, John Ritter

Bad Santa: any such list that doesn’t start (or end) with this film isn’t worth reading. Billy Bob Thornton plays an alcoholic, sexually deviant Santa that uses his mall access to loot the place on Christmas Eve. It takes a slightly simple 8-year-old and a normal woman (with a Santa fetish) to show him the true meaning of the holiday – in a film that’s bursting with great characters and laugh-out-loud jokes. Adults only. (After years in development hell a sequel looks to finally be on the cards!!!)

Bruce Willis, John Mclean, Alan Rickman, Hans Gruber, Bonnie Bedelia, alexander godunov, hart bochner, Robert Davi

Die Hard: not just a great XMas film, or Anti-Christmas movie, but one of the best films ever…

View original post 704 more words

hatchet-2006-boat-tamara-feldman-kane-hodder-joel-moore-deon-richmond-mercedes-mcnab-parry-shen-joleigh-fioreavanti-robert-englund-tony-todd-adam-green

Hatchet: a boatful of tourists go on a haunted swamp tour and end up coming face to face with a local superstition… the murderous Victor Crowley. There’s some strong horror ancestry in here; Kane Hodder (Jason/Leatherface) is the main baddie, with Tony Todd (Candyman/Final Destination) and Robert Englund (among others) popping up in cameo roles. Even though this is the kind of sloppy horror premise you’ve seen a thousand times before Hatchet is different in that it’s very well made: it’s brilliantly lit, boasts supreme gore FX & inventive deaths, and has a cast full of good performances. It takes everything that people love and expect from a slasher film and turns it up to eleven: e.g. you don’t just get to see one pair of boobs, but are treated to entire line-ups of Mardi Gras waps. It’s also got a cool comedy/horror vibe in that if it wasn’t for the brutal ultra-graphic moments of cartoonishly over-the-top deaths, the film would probably be a 12A, as it’s overall quite playful and funny; the wannabe actresses in particular provide more than their fair share of the LOLz. There’s also a beautiful ‘classic’ orchestrated soundtrack that wouldn’t be out-of-place in something like Indiana Jones. Everything comes together nicely to create a movie that’s surprisingly hard to describe or define, but is undeniably fun… it’s not quite a parody, and it’s definitely not a kids film, but it’s a rip-and-roaring “Old School American Horror” – and for once, a slasher that lives up to its tagline.

Score: 7.5/10
B-Movie Score: 9/10

hatchet-gore-headsnap-2006-tamara-feldman-kane-hodder-joel-moore-deon-richmond-mercedes-mcnab-parry-shen-joleigh-fioreavanti-robert-englund-tony-todd-adam-green

hatchet-freddy-krueger-tamara-feldman-kane-hodder-joel-moore-deon-richmond-mercedes-mcnab-parry-shen-joleigh-fioreavanti-robert-englund-tony-todd-adam-green

 

mechanic-resurrection-arthur-bishop-jason-statham-jessica-alba-dennis-gansel-tommy-lee-jones-michelle-yeoh-sam-hazeldine-john-cenatiempo-toby-eddington-femi-elufowoju-anteo-quintavalle-rha

Mechanic Resurrection: a retired hitman gets pulled back into action when his new girlfriend is captured and he’s forced to whack three seemingly unconnected criminals. Being the sequel to a somewhat derivative remake expectations going in aren’t exactly high; but the film just about meets them. Everything that isn’t an action/fighting scene is there to set up the next action/fighting scene; including a nonsensical plot and some ultra-dubious character motivation: within 10 mins a pragmatic contract killer has fallen and is risking it all for a random babe?!? It’s also ‘subconsciously Bond,’ with multiple exotic locations, submarine pen shootout, Rio cable cars, exploding boats etc. Not content leaning on one franchise, the story’s also centered around three “Impossible missions”: a prison kill, swimming pool kill, and boat-chaos… all fun, but none are particularly tense as Arthur Bishop never loses the upper hand. We get a rent-a-baddie (Hazeldine) with no charisma, personality, or memorable traits; and a rent-a-babe (Alba) with a suspiciously small wardrobe and whose cleavage is deeper than her character. On the upside, Jason Statham is back in his bone-breaking action lane; Tommy Lee Jones is chewing it up (but is literally in two scenes) and the film has an aesthetically pleasing, vibrant, Lucy-esque visual style (although some of the CGI is very ropy). Mechanic Resurrection is an uninspired action film with only one reason to watch it; Statham returning to his action roots… if you like mile-high body counts, entertaining dispatches, and Jason Statham punching & shooting his way through obstacles look no further than this.

Score: 5.5/10

mechanic-resurrection-jessica-alba-cleavage-jason-statham-dennis-gansel-tommy-lee-jones-michelle-yeoh-sam-hazeldine-john-cenatiempo-toby-eddington-femi-elufowoju-anteo-quintavalle-rhatha-pho

mechanic-resurrection-pool-jason-statham-jessica-alba-dennis-gansel-tommy-lee-jones-michelle-yeoh-sam-hazeldine-john-cenatiempo-toby-eddington-femi-elufowoju-anteo-quintavalle-rhatha-phonga

mechanic-resurrection-tommy-lee-jones-jason-statham-jessica-alba-dennis-gansel-michelle-yeoh-sam-hazeldine-john-cenatiempo-toby-eddington-femi-elufowoju-anteo-quintavalle-rhatha-phongam

 

selfless-selfless-tarsem-singh-ryan-reynolds-ben-kingsley-matthew-goode-michelle-dockery-natalie-martinez-victor-garber-derek-luke-melora-hardin-thomas-francis-murphy-sam-page-mariana-vicen

Self/Less: when a terminally ill millionaire has his mind copied into a young and healthy body he gets a second chance at life… but there’s always a catch. This one has a great, high-concept idea at the core, however it deliberataly shifts lanes into a generic Bourne-type action movie instead; shying away from the higher brow sci-fi elements. It’s not all bad though as the action is to a decent standard, the story is a bit different, and because it’s a Tarsem Singh film the look and design is fantastic (although it’s nowhere near as styalised or ‘Tarsemmy’ as his other movies). The emotional scenes are also stronger than you’d expect from a film like this. Reynolds is great at portraying a new man; and I love how he isn’t afraid to take on more risky and interesting pictures than his peers: stuff like Buried, RIPD, The Nines, Deadpool. While Self/Less won’t be going down as a Sci-Fi (or action) classic, it’s a both solid and interesting enough to keep you entertained – and maybe even think a little – for two hours.

Score: 6/10

selfless-gold-selfless-tarsem-singh-ryan-reynolds-ben-kingsley-matthew-goode-michelle-dockery-natalie-martinez-victor-garber-derek-luke-melora-hardin-thomas-francis-murphy-sam-page-mariana

There are very brief glimpses of Tarsem’s visual flare

 kickboxer-vengeance-2016-alain-moussi-jean-claude-van-damme-dave-batista-darren-shahlavi-gina-carano-georges-st-pierre-sara-malakul-lane-matthew-ziff-t-j-storm-steven-swadling-michel-qissi

Kickboxer: Vengeance – when his brother is killed in an underground deathmatch by the brutal Tong Po, a young fighter plots his revenge with the help of a master fighter (JCVD). I love martial arts movies and despite what you’ve read elsewhere this is a solid remake. First off; there’s shitloads of fighting – as in every five minutes, fight fight fight. There’s all the punches, all the kicks, a homoerotic rain fight, workmen walking through fights with panes of glass… there’s even a couple of street / marketplace fights that remind you of something like Ong Bak. Director John Stockwell clearly knows and respects the ancestry of this film; retaining key markers like the training montages, and bringing back key cast members; he even throws in some gratuitous boobs… however, most of the cheesier elements have been dropped and the story is more (Tong) po-faced. Just when you think they missed out the infamous car crash drunk dancing scene our new lead pays his respects with some truly horrendous Van Damme jivin’ during the end credits. Casting-wise, the new lead (Moussi) isn’t much of an actor, but what he lacks in charisma he makes up for with some high end fighting/action/stunt prowess; Batista doesn’t have a whole lot to do, although he’s a larger-than-life baddie; meanwhile JCVD steals all of his scenes with his cheeky acting chops, legendary moves, and unbelievably shredded torso. My only real niggle was the weirdly flashy subtitles clearly aimed at people who don’t read subtitles!. There’s a lot of misplaced nostalgia for the original Kickboxer: it’s ultra-80s, it hasn’t aged well, didn’t actually contain much fighting or action, and was basically a showcase for JCVDs moves. Kickboxer Vengeance however is a worthwhile and respectful remake that’s short on acting but crammed full of action. A sturdy modern martial arts movie.

Score: 7/10

black-mass-battering-scott-cooper-johnny-depp-joel-edgerton-benedict-cumberbatch-rory-cochrane-kevin-bacon-jesse-plemons-peter-sarsgaard-dakota-johnson-corey-stoll-david-harbour-julianne-nic

Black Mass: follows the criminal activities of the notorious James “Whitey” Bulger and his closest conspirators. First off; why the fuck would anyone want to make such a pointless film? One that tells the story of an evil murderer, pointing out that he’s an evil murderer by showing him commit and sanction said evil murders. We get it; but y tho? There’s no arc, no development, no story… it’s just a series of decreasingly effective cold-blooded killings. The pacing is dead slow, full of unlikable characters and shows zero motivation for anyone’s actions; especially the vampiric and despicable lead. If anything, it felt farcical that a FBI would allow such openly compromised detective to continue working on cases they were obviously invested in! Being set in Boston we’re treated to everyone trying (but failing) to nail BAWSTAN accent: Cumberbatch lands poll position with a change in both pitch and hammy accent, that feels like a straight-up comedy voice. The ensemble cast are phenomenal, but nobody is given a credible character to work with, and although he’s as good as he’s been in the last 10 years or so Johnny Depp continues his obsession with distracting dressing up / make up to get in to character. Black mass is well shot, boasts a couple of good scenes, and a decent central performance but it is the opposite of an enjoyable or interesting film.  It’s the film that nobody was crying out for; and a great companion piece for Killing Them Softly.

Score: 2/10

black-mass-gin-cards-scott-cooper-johnny-depp-joel-edgerton-benedict-cumberbatch-rory-cochrane-kevin-bacon-jesse-plemons-peter-sarsgaard-dakota-johnson-corey-stoll-david-harbour-julianne-nic

 

arrival-language-alien-writing-amy-adams-jeremy-renner-michael-stuhlbarg-forest-whitaker-tzi-ma-abigail-pniowsky-mark-obrien-denis-villeneuve

Arrival: when aliens make contact in twelve different countries the race is on to find out why they are here. The main themes and purpose of the movie is revealed very slowly, in tiny pieces that don’t slot together at all until the very end, where – if you’re still paying attention – it should hit you like a ton of bricks. Because of this, it’s the type of film that I imagine would be more rewarding on the second viewing, knowing how it plays out and fits together from the start. There’s a lot of nice details & observations about language; and Villeneuve’s recurring themes of repetition, circularity, loops, and significant numbers (12!!). Other than the director, as mentioned everywhere else Amy Adams puts in a great shift; although I’m not so sure she’ll be taking home an Oscar as there’s a lot of CGI reaction shots, and not many big acting ‘moments’. With the critical praise, box-office hype, and an alieninvasion trailer I felt that arrival suffers from the ‘Sicario Effect’ in that it’s smarter, lower key, and more nuanced than the film it’s been sold as; with absolutely massive ideas and questions thrown at the audience, played though one character’s story and experience. Is Arrival intelligent? Yes. Interesting? Yes. Thought provoking? Yes. Compelling? … Somewhat. A ‘great’ film? I don’t think so. For me it feels like Villeneuve spends too much time setting up his ideas instead of telling a grand story.

Score: 6.5/10

arrival-amy-adams-jeremy-renner-michael-stuhlbarg-forest-whitaker-tzi-ma-abigail-pniowsky-mark-obrien-denis-villeneuve

the-final-girls-future-taissa-farmiga-malin-akerman-alexander-ludwig-nina-dobrev-alia-shawkat-thomas-middleditch-adam-devine-angela-trimbur-chloe-bridges-tory-n-thompson-lauren-gros-todd

The Final Girls: when a freak cinema fire leaves Max and her friends stuck inside a slasher movie she finally has a chance to re-connect with her dead ‘scream queen’ mum. The premise of the film is fantastic, allowing the movie to play with every trope from the classic slasher pictures: stock characters, language/dialogue, sounds, flashbacks, on-screen text and so on. It even gets the tiny details right, like how the ‘teenagers’ from the old film are older than teenagers. Like the original slasher films, every character is stock and all of the actors slot in to their roles perfectly; the sexed up girl’s Adderall-fueled Cherry Pie striptease was the highlight of the film for me. Director Todd Strauss Schulson handles both sides of the story with care (70s/80s era slasher nostalgia + modern cult/horror fandom) and the film looks absolutely fantastic with crazy-vibrant colours, tons of very striking visuals, and great camerawork – it sounds like a low blow, but it’s too well-made when compared to the films it’s homaging. The Final Girls is fantastic love letter to the great slashers of the 1980s; it’s great fun to watch, looks brilliant, and it can stand tall alongside recent postmodern horrors like of Tucker & Dale and Cabin in the Woods.

Score: 7.5/10

the-final-girls-camp-taissa-farmiga-malin-akerman-alexander-ludwig-nina-dobrev-alia-shawkat-thomas-middleditch-adam-devine-angela-trimbur-chloe-bridges-tory-n-thompson-lauren-gros-Todd Strauss Schulson

dear-god-no-poster-crop-james-bickert-jett-bryant-madeline-brumby-paul-mccomiskey-olivia-lacroix-shane-morton-johnny-collins-nik-morgan-james-bickert-rachelle-lynn

Dear God NO! [Grindhouse Cut]: a murderous outlaw biker gang kill their rivals and hide out in the woods, where they meet a crazy scientist and big foot… I think.  Yup, here’s another ‘nasty nostalgia’ film with faux grain effect, pops and scratches, heavy saturation, projector sounds, mono/muffled soundtrack, tracking issues, etc, etc. It’s only 81 minutes long, but is crammed with filler: you get 5 minutes straight of up-close ‘mondo’ style topless dancing, a psychedelic heroin dream trip, and a Nazi Dr Frankenstein babe trip – all for no reason other than padding out the runtime (and increasing the shock factor). Made on a shoestring, the film’s packed with bad dialogue, bad acting, bad characters, actor changes, and ‘plot threads’ that make literally no sense. It’s like the director asked a 15 year old boy what he thought was cool – boobs, swearing, drinking, and bad attitudes man – and just rolled with that. We first meet the biker gang the morning after they trash a bus full of nuns and rape/murder them all, and it only goes downhill from there; bottoming out with a snuff scene that goes too far with a double rape and fetus removing/killing. I’ve seen much worse than this and not been as disgusted as this just nasty for nasty’s sake; and I couldn’t believe that there are directors out there that make Rob Zombie look like a proficient filmmaker. I’ve sat through some truly terrible movies in my day, and this is down there with the worst of ‘em. The only good thing about the entire project is it’s old school poster, and the only way I can imagine convincing anyone that this has worked is if you pitch it as a poor-taste no-budget physical effects show reel – or a masterclass in using controversy and a good poster as a get-rich-quick idea. A very very niche and ultra-nasty bikesploitation film.

Score: 0.5/10

dear-god-no-poster-james-bickert-jett-bryant-madeline-brumby-paul-mccomiskey-olivia-lacroix-shane-morton-johnny-collins-nik-morgan-james-bickert-rachelle-lynn

green-room-poster-band-anton-yelchin-alia-shawkat-joe-cole-callum-turner-imogen-poots-patrick-stewart-macon-blair-mark-webber-kai-lennox-eric-edelstein-samuel-summer-david-w-thompson

Green Room: when they witness a murder in a remote neo-nazi music venue crusty-punk band “The Ain’t Rights” have to fight their way out. It’s the sort of weird blurb that you’d expect from a shitty B-Movie, but this one is anything but that. The setup is a great portrayal of the Punk/DIY scene and touring life in general; whereas the main chunk of the film switches to a tense, claustrophobic cat-and-mouse thriller as the band are trapped, and the balance of power inside/outside the room shifts back and forth. The final act changes gears yet again into more of a generic hillbilly survival horror story; yet keeps up with the breath-holding, seat-grabbing set pieces. The film is littered with moments of ultra-violent ultra-gore; limbs being slashed, people being gutted, graphic gunshot wounds… which are offset with some wonderfully wicked black/morbid comedy moments; like fighting off a dog with a mic stand and getting ridiculous feedback from the PA system. Visually, the film is very slick and the director skillfully keeps the majority of the runtime confined to a the small, grotty, bar: unsurprisingly, all of the green colours have been popped out, giving it a vibrant – almost neon – wash. The entire cast is solid; it’s a great turn by Yelchin in one of his final roles, and it’s fantastic to see someone straight like Patrick Stewart play a proper ruthless peesashit baddie. Green Room exceeds all expectations for a film with its niche plot, and is handled exceptionally by the cast and director, creating a solid and effective thriller.

Score: 7.5/10

green-room-building-dead-kennedys-tshirt-anton-yelchin-alia-shawkat-joe-cole-callum-turner-imogen-poots-patrick-stewart-macon-blair-mark-webber-kai-lennox-eric-edelstein-samuel-summer-david

List of bands mentioned / referenced: I’m sure there’s more!

Fugazi, Dead Kennedys, Dillinger Escape Plan, Misfits, Black Sabbath, Simon and Garfunkel, Prince, Madonna, Slayer, Iggy Pop, Minor Threat, Distillers, Dare to Defy,

green-room-nazis-jean-luc-pickard-anton-yelchin-alia-shawkat-joe-cole-callum-turner-imogen-poots-patrick-stewart-macon-blair-mark-webber-kai-lennox-eric-edelstein-samuel-summer-david-w-thom

green-room-confederate-flag-pout-bomber-jacket-anton-yelchin-alia-shawkat-joe-cole-callum-turner-imogen-poots-patrick-stewart-macon-blair-mark-webber-kai-lennox-eric-edelstein-samuel-summer

strike-back-shadow-warfare-season-4-season-3-poster-robson-green-dougray-scott-philip-winchester-sullivan-stapleton-rhona-mitra-michelle-lukes-milauna-jackson-zubin-varla-martin-clunes

Strike Back: Shadow Warfare – when an undercover Section 20 agent is executed in cold blood Scott and Stonebridge set their sights on the killer and his terrorist organization. For this first time, this season pulls out some big names with the likes of Martin Clunes (best death face ever), Dougray Scott, Robson Green, and Rhona Mitra. And when you thought it wouldn’t be possible, everything is EVEN MORE ridiculous, funny, cheesy, trashier and sensational than the previous outings: a sexy Russian agent-babe is introduced in one scene, and literally a having vodka sex (with Scott, obvz) in the next one; a gay transvestite pensioner hard-man starts prison riot; and only Strike Back could have the Real IRA team up with Muslim terrorists and get away with it. This is the first season where the different directors stand out as the opening two episodes have computer-game / John Woo slow-mo vibe, with epic music and everything exploding; the middle six feel more ‘traditional’ action episodes, and the final two play out more like 24 episodes with the focus being on twists and reveals (and some poorly handled shaky cam action). The overall story and structure stick to previous season formulas, but hey, every plot thread in Strike Back is just chasing McGuffins to serve up more action scenes. When things aren’t being blown to shit, the drama stuff is well handled, characters get a bit more time to develop, and the show still isn’t afraid to pull punches or shock the viewers with main cast killings. I’ve pretty much ran out of superlatives and phrases to describe how good Strike Back is because it’s so consistent in delivering five top-drawer action B-movies season after season. The show gives its audience (14-40 year old boys) exactly what they want: action, babes, guns, nudity, explosions, gadgets… and the fact that this rollercoaster series ends with a sex scene says it all really. The tagline for this season is “The world’s not saving itself”; but Strike Back is definitely saving the action TV genre.

Score: 8.5/10

strike-back-shadow-warfare-season-4-season-3-scott-russian-babe-robson-green-dougray-scott-philip-winchester-sullivan-stapleton-rhona-mitra-michelle-lukes-milauna-jackson-zubin-varla-martin-cl

STRIKE BACK REVIEW 

strike-back-shadow-warfare-season-4-season-3-stonebridge-robson-green-dougray-scott-philip-winchester-sullivan-stapleton-rhona-mitra-michelle-lukes-milauna-jackson-zubin-varla-martin-clunes-2

STRIKE BACK: PROJECT DAWN REVIEW

strike-back-shadow-warfare-season-4-season-3-explosion-gay-hitman-moustace-robson-green-dougray-scott-philip-winchester-sullivan-stapleton-rhona-mitra-michelle-lukes-milauna-jackson-zubin-varla

STRIKE BACK: VENGEANCE REVIEW

strike-back-shadow-warfare-season-4-season-3-girls-with-guns-boss-robson-green-dougray-scott-philip-winchester-sullivan-stapleton-rhona-mitra-michelle-lukes-milauna-jackson-zubin-varla-martin

 

dead-snow-2-red-vs-dead-dod-sno-2-tommy-wirkola-vegar-hoel-orjan-gamst-martin-starr-jocelyn-deboer-ingrid-haas-stig-frode-henriksen-hallvard-holmen-jesper-sundnes-kristoffer-joner

Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead: picking up immediately from the end of Dead Snow, Nazi Zombie Herzog and his army turn to their original objective; wiping out the tiny village of Talvik. This film doesn’t skip a beat and – if anything – feels even better than the original in almost every way; it’s better shot, better put together, better written, bigger budget, and somehow manages to remain original and even funnier – tanking passed the six laugh test, and giving me a sore face and ear-to-ear grin by the end credits sequence. The ‘Idle Hands’ arm-swap angle makes for some great fun, a whole new side story, and some top-drawer comedy performances. It was also exciting to see the addition of Martin Starr as the Zombie Squad leader, a great piece of character casting. In fact, the only thing that I didn’t like about this was the portrayal of a gay character that could have come from a 1960s stage play – however, that aside, there’s little else to complain about. Dead Snow 2 is an absolute delight to watch; a funny and schlocky horror comedy that does both aspects well, and athe movie that now holds my title of ‘Best Zombie Comedy’ (It’s better than Sean of the Dead.)

Score: 8/10
B-Movie Score: 9.5/10

dead-snow-2-red-vs-dead-dod-sno-2-tommy-wirkola-vegar-hoel-orjan-gamst-martin-starr-jocelyn-deboer-ingrid-haas-stig-frode-henriksen-hallvard-holmen-jesper-sundnes-kristoffer-joner

dead-snow-red-vs-dead-1

When a tank missile hits a baby in a pram… obviously.

vice-principals-hbo-danny-mcbride-walton-goggins-kimberly-hebert-gregory-georgia-king-sheaun-mckinney-busy-philipps-shea-whigham-maya-g-love-edi-patterson-susan-park-mike-ogorman

Vice Principals: when a school principal retires and the vice principals are passed over for a promotion they form an unlikely tag team to take their new boss down. Not unlike most Danny McBride projects, the humour in VPs is an acquired taste: it’s stupid and lowest-common denominator stuff, but I’m a fan of the funny to watch the crass swearing, childish squabbling, stereotypes, silly faces etc… McBride’s pretty much been here before in Eastbound and Down with his faded baseball star going back to school to teach; his latest character Neal Gamby is essentially an older, and slightly more filtered/censored Kenny Powers. Goggins on the other hand turns in an against-type effeminate role, that requires a lot of eye rolling, sucking up, and mincing around in pink clothes. Both leads are great at what they do and the core supporting cast notes (Gregory / Whigham / King / Love – GO SCOTLAND! / Patterson) all hit the right comedy notes. The show mostly cruises along, with scenarios that lead to silly and cringe comedy, but there’s a few curveballs in here with surreal moments, weird filming techniques, and the finale feels a little too bizarre and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the show. Vice Principals will go down best with fans of McBride’s trademark style, and he’s firmly in his comfort zone… for regular viewers it may be stray a little too far into crass and unacceptable territory.

Score: 6/10

vice-principals-poster-hbo-danny-mcbride-walton-goggins-kimberly-hebert-gregory-georgia-king-sheaun-mckinney-busy-philipps-shea-whigham-maya-g-love-edi-patterson-susan-park-mike-ogorman

 

heavy-metal-poster-babe-percy-rodriguez-john-candy-don-francks-richard-romanus-eugene-levy-joe-flaherty-harvey-atkin-susan-roman-richard-romanus-caroline-semple

Heavy Metal: animated action-fantasy anthology movie for adults. Technically, it should really be called Heavy Metal, and soft rock, and a great movie score”, but that’s nitpicking… all you need to know is that the soundtrack is very varied and really drives the movie. The over-arching story is ambitious and comes together in the vein of a grand intergalactic rock opera with elements of Noir / Fantasy / Sci-Fi / Sword & Sandals – something for every type of nerd.. The 9 segments were made by different animation studios – giving each one a unique style, and they’re all so fantastically rendered that it feels like a showcase of the best hand-drawn animation of that period. Being a ‘cartoon for adults’ this is packed to the brim with violence, gratuitous nudity, and ladies with unimaginably large waps (it is based on a French fantasy magazine made for alternative teenage boys – duh). As with most anthology movies not all parts are created equally, and ‘trippy’ doesn’t come close to describing the more eclectic parts of the story; clearly all of the drugs were taken during the making of this, it’s probably the most 80s thing I’ve ever seen – at least since Tenebre. You have two choices with Heavy Metal: try to figure it out, fight it, and piece it together, or simply let it wash over you and absorb the crazy-good, now-defunct retro animation.

Score: 6.5/10

heavy-metal-soft-landing-percy-rodriguez-john-candy-don-francks-richard-romanus-eugene-levy-joe-flaherty-harvey-atkin-susan-roman-richard-romanus-caroline-semple

Soft Landing

heavy-metal-grimaldi-astronaut-percy-rodriguez-john-candy-don-francks-richard-romanus-eugene-levy-joe-flaherty-harvey-atkin-susan-roman-richard-romanus-caroline-semple

Grimaldi

heavy-metal-harry-canyon-taxi-percy-rodriguez-john-candy-don-francks-richard-romanus-eugene-levy-joe-flaherty-harvey-atkin-susan-roman-richard-romanus-caroline-semple

Harry Canyon

heavy-metal-den-caveman-muscles-percy-rodriguez-john-candy-don-francks-richard-romanus-eugene-levy-joe-flaherty-harvey-atkin-susan-roman-richard-romanus-caroline-semple

Den

heavy-metal-captain-sternn-percy-rodriguez-john-candy-don-francks-richard-romanus-eugene-levy-joe-flaherty-harvey-atkin-susan-roman-richard-romanus-caroline-semple

Captain Sternn

heavy-metal-b-17-areoplane-percy-rodriguez-john-candy-don-francks-richard-romanus-eugene-levy-joe-flaherty-harvey-atkin-susan-roman-richard-romanus-caroline-semple

B-17

heavy-metal-so-beautiful-and-so-dangerous-percy-rodriguez-john-candy-don-francks-richard-romanus-eugene-levy-joe-flaherty-harvey-atkin-susan-roman-richard-romanus-caroline-semple

So Beautiful and So Dangerous

heavy-metal-taarna-cosplay-dragon-sword-percy-rodriguez-john-candy-don-francks-richard-romanus-eugene-levy-joe-flaherty-harvey-atkin-susan-roman-richard-romanus-caroline-semple

Taarna

heavy-metal-loc-nar-green-glow-house-percy-rodriguez-john-candy-don-francks-richard-romanus-eugene-levy-joe-flaherty-harvey-atkin-susan-roman-richard-romanus-caroline-semple

Epilogue (Loc Nar)

 

 keeping-rosy-bbc-maxine-peake-sam-hoare-tori-butler-hart-yvonne-wandera-elisa-lasowski-blake-harrison-erin-shanagher-nika-khitrova

Keeping Rosy [soilers]: after losing her job and taking it out on her cleaner, Charlotte goes from very successful businesswoman to a murderer – and worse – in a couple of days. This is a microbudget microdrama that’s impeccably shot (if you don’t mind relentlessly cold, grey, minimal / clinical visuals) but feels at home on your TV screen. There’s only a handful of actors in this, but none of them are given more depth than their borderline offensive off-the-shelf character sheet: cold career focused woman; rough northern girl; spying security guard; businessman that likes affairs… In saying that, the acting is solid for the most part. The film’s pitched as an ‘hitchcockian’ thriller, but ends up being a bit of a comedy by the end, with some large – and visible a mile away – twists and turns. My biggest problem is that the film asks you to feel sympathy and root for a cleaner-killing, child-abducting lead – who’s setup as a ‘bitch’ from the start. Keeping Rosy has promise, but feels very muddled with its messages and execution.

Score: 3.5/10

 

 

 

jean-claude-van-johnson-huckelberry-finn-jean-claude-van-damme-kat-foster-moises-arias-phylicia-rashad-bar-paly-tim-peper-deren-tadlock-kevin-michael-walsh-tait-fletcher-filip-van-damme

Jean-Claude Van Johnson: what if the ‘rubbish’ straight to DVD movies JCVD made in the between the bigger films were just cover for his super-agent alter ego to carry out real black ops missions? That’s the premise for the Amazon pilot Jean-Claude Van Johnson. The episode has a lot of great action genre and movie business digs and jokes; although some of the more general jokes fall a bit flatter, focusing on easy targets like hipsters, pop-up restaurants, vaping etc. The scrip is littered with witty LOL moments like an entire Looper / Timecop debate, and lines like “I’m real retired, not like Nicolas Cage retired. While the love interest angle doesn’t quite work with the meager time assigned to it; it has potential to grow through a full season. The Van Johnson pilot is handled beautifully, and clearly made with affection for JCVD’s career and filmography…  It’s also great that a star of his stature can poke this much fun at himself; making this an absolute must-watch for any JCVD or action B-movie fans.

Score: 8/10

jean-claude-van-johnson-jean-claude-van-damme-kat-foster-moises-arias-phylicia-rashad-bar-paly-tim-peper-deren-tadlock-kevin-michael-walsh-tait-fletcher-filip-van-damme

swiss-army-man-paul-dano-daniel-radcliffe-mary-elizabeth-winstead-richard-gross-aaron-marshall-shane-carruth-daniel-scheinert-daniel-kwan-the-daniels

Swiss Army Man: a marooned man befriends a washed-up corpse, who turns out to be very useful for getting them back home in one piece. Both leads are very strong; Radcliffe turns in a superb physical performance paired with equally strong deadpan comic delivery. Paul Dano is also great to watch, but feels more like he’s cruising in his typecast weirdo role. Together, they have undeniably fun ‘bromance’ chemistry that really elevates the film. Tonally, “eclectic” doesn’t do this film justice: it’s creepy, uplifting, strange, beautiful, depressing, funny, weird, innocent, unique, entertaining, and batshit crazy – all at the same time. It shifts and shimmies between all of its quirky ideas so quickly that it stops you even thinking about how and why all of the surreal things are able to happen. It like the kind weird films you’d have expected to come out of Japan in the early 2000s, and most resembles cinematic oddities like Rubber, Happiness of the Katakuris, and a little bit of Be Kind Rewind. It feels like the filmmakers were really wanted to bring up some observations about our modern values and way of living… but because of all the farting, trouser compassing, and fart-based jet skiing & flying the film ends up avoiding any deep or meaningful insights altogether, coming across as superficial a ‘pop philosophy 101’ class. Swiss Army Man is truly a film like no other, and one which defies categorization; and it really does need to be seen to be believed… however, it does feel more like a collection of individually ‘cool’ ideas, jokes, and moments that would be better suited to a barnstorming music video, or more focused, upbeat, and magical short film.

Score: 7/10

SHARKNADO 3 OH HELL NO Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Cassie Scerbo, Bo Derek, Ryan Newman, Jack Griffo, David Hasselhoff, Frankie Muniz, Mark McGrath, George R. R. Martin, Mark Cuban, Chris Jericho,

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No [mild spoilers] – while receiving a medal for saving L.A. and NYC, Fin Shepard gets caught up in a third shark attack that stretches up and down the entire US East Coast. The production values are very high for a B-movie, but it the film retains the series’ ‘poorly-planned, sporadically-shot, and sloppily-put-together’ aesthetic – with thousands of short shots blended together to form a semi coherent narrative. There’s even more crowbarred cameos and extras (partial list below) whose continual introduction and lingering shots absolutely hammer the story’s flow and movie’s pacing. It’s even more bizarre because the majority of these are so niche that they won’t register with most viewers (other than hardened reality TV fans). On the plus side the action is way bigger and more ambitious, and the story enters utterly ridiculous territory: the main guy gets hurled off a full speed rollercoaster and survives; they go in to space with laser chainsaws… after a shark fight in space (!!) Tara Reid re-enters the earth’s atmosphere inside a shark (!!!); gives birth (!!!!), and pushes a baby through a gash cutout by her chainsaw hand (!!!WTFM8?!?!?!). It’s ridiculous. It’s utterly preposterous. It’s beyond stupid… and that’s what makes it so fun. As these events unfold – each upping the last – you get a genuine kick at how over-the-top it gets. Ian Ziering plays this pitch perfectly, with a knowing, tongue in cheek action hero shtick, and Cassie Scerbo (who was sorely missing in ‘nado 2) is a welcome return as a sexy, kickass sidekick. The less said about everyone else, the better. The Sharknado franchise is a very peculiar beast: it’s like your weird uncle and out-of-touch granny accidentally created a teen sensation but are determined to kneecap it by insisting on their shit friends getting cameos; milking every cent’s worth of product placement (Universal Studios / NASCAR / NASA / Subay / Today Show); and writing the script/story themselves to save money: maybe it’s part of the plan? Maybe that’s the charm? Who knows!? Sharknado 3 is probably “Peak Sharknado”, as I’m not sure that it’s possible to strike a better balance between shameless, unbelievably ridiculous, and rip-roaring fun that this movie pulls off. The third installment continues the trend of being bigger, better, dumber, funnier, and more enjoyable than its predecessor.” Heck, it’s even swimming in to normal movie scores territory.

Score: 5/10
B-movie: 8/10

sharknado-3-nova-fin-ian-ziering-tara-reid-cassie-scerbo-bo-derek-ryan-newman-jack-griffo-david-hasselhoff-frankie-muniz-mark-mcgrath-george-r-r-martin-mark-cuban-chris-jericho

LIST OF CAMEOS – doesn’t even include half the z-listers, competition winners, family members, etc!

Ne-Yo (Auto Tune legend), Jared Fogel (Child porn connoisseur), Kim Richards (Real Housewives), Anthony Weiner (Dicks out sexter), Ann Coulter (Right Wing Troll), Chris Jericho (Fozzy frontman), Steve Guttenberg (Lavalantula & 2 Lava 2 Lantula Star), Jerry Springer (WTF), Lou Ferrigno (Original Hulk), Mark Cuban (Shark Tank), Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle), George R. R. Martin (GoT Author), Holly Madison (Playboy Playmate), Penn and Teller (Magicians), Hoda Kotb (TV Anchor), Kathie Lee Gifford (Regis’ tag team Partner), Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray Singer), Michele Bachmann (formerly respected Republican), Jackie Collins (Novelist), Jedward (Irish Twin Twats), Rick Fox (eSports owner), Chris Kirkpatrick (NSYNC), Robert Klein (Comedian)

sharknado-3-president-cuban-ian-ziering-tara-reid-cassie-scerbo-bo-derek-ryan-newman-jack-griffo-david-hasselhoff-frankie-muniz-mark-mcgrath-george-r-r-martin-mark-cuban-chris-jericho


Shark Deaths:
– Sharkpunch
– Golden Chainsaw
– Broadsword
– Dyson Hoover
– President’s Shotgun
– President’s Grenade
– Floorsliding double M-16s
– George Washington Statue Bust
– American Flag (Iwo Jima homage)
– Caravan Carbomb
– Samurai Sword
– Laser beam
– Construction site Lamp
– Double Chainsaw
– Universal Globe
– Laser Chainsaw
– Re-entering earth burn

sharknado-3-bond-gunbarrel-ian-ziering-tara-reid-cassie-scerbo-bo-derek-ryan-newman-jack-griffo-david-hasselhoff-frankie-muniz-mark-mcgrath-george-r-r-martin-mark-cuban-chris-jericho

SHARKNADO REVIEW
SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE REVIEW

the-hateful-eight-banner-poster-The Hateful Eight Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum, Zoë Bell, Quentin Tarantino, Ennio Morricone

The Hateful Eight: a bounty hunter and his prisoner get snowed-in at a cabin stop with six strangers, but “one of them fellas is not what he says he is”. Most of the actors get to do what they do best: grouchy Kurt grumbles magnificently; magnetic Goggins spits out redneck ramblings; Sam J does his shouty-preaching; Roth ponses around; in fact, Madsen is the only actor that doesn’t really get any good screentime. Despite the huge names, Señor Bob (Demián Bichir) steals the show for me with a ridiculously terrific comedy performance and accent. There’s some absolutely stunning exploitation gore, blood sprays, head explosions, etc, etc – all electrifying for even the most hardened splatter aficionados. As you’ll have read everywhere; the main issue with H.E. is that it’s simply far, far, far too long. It takes over 45 minutes to get to the cabin setting; an hour ‘til we get to the crux of the movie; and even with 2hr40min of dialogue heavy scenes, a narrator (voiced by QT, obvz) is still required to throw in more details – how sloppy and empty can the writing get? In fact, most people’s issues with Django seem to be applicable here too: it’s almost as if Tarantino is intentionally trolling his own audience (too many n-bombs, too long, no censorship…). Finally, a massive deal was made about resurrecting the ultra-Panavision 70mm format: but exterior shots are pretty much whiteouts, and the last two hours are confined to a cabin interior – which leaves you yearning for epic vistas. With his last few films, Tarantino is starting to come across as a ‘brat’ director (surrounded by ‘yes men’); refusing to cut out flabby parts, censor himself, or make any changes to his precious baby. Boiled down: The Hateful Eight is simply a decadent, elaborate, and extremely self-indulgent Reservoir Dogs remake: and a very testing setup for what’s essentially a room full of people shooting each other… again.

Score: 6/10

The Hateful Eight Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum, Zoë Bell, Quentin Tarantino, Ennio Morricone

wild-tales-bombita-dario-grandinetti-maria-marull-monica-villa-rita-cortese-julieta-zylberberg-cesar-bordon-leonardo-sbaraglia-walter-donado-ricardo-darin-nancy-duplaa-oscar-martinez-osmar

Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes): six short films about everyday people being pushed over the edge. Unlike most anthology movies, these are all done by the same director, which should give the segments more consistency than usual – right? Wrong! The six stories are all varying lengths, and wildly different in their tone, ‘enjoyability’, and humour. The shorter, punchier ideas are great but the longer ones in the second half all feel dragged out. With the throughline being ‘revenge’ they’re all quite dark with varying degrees of gallows / black humour. Stylistically though, they’re all meticulously directed, with dozens of striking and stand-out shots. The acting is also rock solid, with a lot of familiar faces from ‘World Cinema‘. It also walks a very tight line between reality and a tiny sprinkle of magic / surrealism – the obvious comparison being something like The Twilight Zone – but this doesn’t go near full on fiction. I really enjoyed the first half of this, but as the stories go forward, they get far too serious (and less funny). Overall, Wild Tales is a decent film with some great ideas, that suffers the same problem as most anthology pictures: the quality of each section is completely different.

Score: 6.5/10

wild-tales-til-death-do-us-part-dario-grandinetti-maria-marull-monica-villa-rita-cortese-julieta-zylberberg-cesar-bordon-leonardo-sbaraglia-walter-donado-ricardo-darin-nancy-duplaa-oscar-mar

Pasternak | The Rats | Road to Hell | Bombita | The Deal | Till Death Do Us Part

wild-tales-pasternak-dario-grandinetti-maria-marull-monica-villa-rita-cortese-julieta-zylberberg-cesar-bordon-leonardo-sbaraglia-walter-donado-ricardo-darin-nancy-duplaa-oscar-martinez-osma

wild-tales-the-rats-dario-grandinetti-maria-marull-monica-villa-rita-cortese-julieta-zylberberg-cesar-bordon-leonardo-sbaraglia-walter-donado-ricardo-darin-nancy-duplaa-oscar-martinez-osmar

Gangster Payday Restaurant Anthony Wong, Charlene Choi, Wong You-nam, Michael Chan, Ng Chi-hung, Philip Keung, Deep Ng, Wilson Tsui, Joe Cheung, Carrie Ng, Arthur Wong, Law Wing-cheung, Lee Po-cheung

Gangster Payday (大茶飯): when he’s being muscled out of his karaoke bar by aggressive real estate developers, an ageing gangster invests in an honest business, but can’t seem to shake off his past. Despite the title and trailer hinting at an overly-familiar HK mob film; the gangster element plays second fiddle to an ‘emo triads angle where we find out that even the hardiest of HK gangbangers are just big teddybears with emotions, and gooey centres. Unfortunately, this is portrayed through a soap-operatic love triangle, which – when paired with the mid-budget televisual aesthetics and very melodic/dramatic vocal performances – means that the film lacks a ‘cinematic’ vibe. Tonally and thematically, it’s also one of those films that doesn’t export well, and westerners will probably fail to engage with (I particularly struggled with the hammy music and theatrical / play-like style). To make up for the pitfalls we’re treated to an ensemble cast featuring some of the biggest faces from the past 20 years of Hong Kong cinema, led by Anthony Wong, who puts in a great turn as a tired mob boss in his twilight. Gangster Payday isn’t for everyone: it’s a low-key, cutesy, and ultimately disappointing personal drama framed in a gangster movie; but the star power and talent of the cast (particularly Wong) prop up the film and keeping it watchable for the duration.

Score: 5/10

Gangster Payday Triad Gang Anthony Wong, Charlene Choi, Wong You-nam, Michael Chan, Ng Chi-hung, Philip Keung, Deep Ng, Wilson Tsui, Joe Cheung, Carrie Ng, Arthur Wong, Law Wing-cheung, Lee Po-cheung Gangster Payday Adidas Anthony Wong, Charlene Choi, Wong You-nam, Michael Chan, Ng Chi-hung, Philip Keung, Deep Ng, Wilson Tsui, Joe Cheung, Carrie Ng, Arthur Wong, Law Wing-cheung, Lee Po-cheung

Austin Powers Logo Title Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, Mindy Sterling, Michael York, Fabiana Udenio, Will Ferrell, Mimi Rogers, Joe Son, Carrie Fisher, Burt Bacharach, Cindy Margolis

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery – frozen in the swinging 60s, and thawed out in the 90s Austin “Danger” Powers has to defeat his nemesis Dr Evil while re-adjusting to modern life. Depressing fact: this film is almost 20 years old. Uplifting fact: it’s still as funny as you remember. Mike Meyers’ style isn’t for everyone, but this is about as mainstream as he goes; and the more James Bond knowledge you can bring to the table, the better (dispatch one-liners, henchmen deaths, sets, character names, elaborate death traps…). The clever setup means there’s a lot of rope to be used here: the spy genre, action movies, and fish-out-of-water elements, all fully capitalised. There’s quite a narrow band of humour used here: namely slapstick, funny faces, silly dances, and physical jokes – nothing too high-brow, but it’s all to the highest standard. If there’s one weakness it’s that the movie as a whole is a little too reliant on skits and unrelated interludes. With my James Bond obsession and nostalgic hat on, I’m probably not the most objective person to be watching this, but I would have genuine questions if someone didn’t enjoy such a light, charming, and loving parody of the early Bond Movies. Almost twenty years old, but still a stone-cold comedy classic, the first Austin Powers film is 95 minutes of laugh-out-loud, wall-to-wall top-drawer comedy.

Score: 8.5/10

If you can watch this clip without laughing (or even smiling) call a doctor – because you’re dead inside.

Austin Powers Shiny Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, Mindy Sterling, Michael York, Fabiana Udenio, Will Ferrell, Mimi Rogers, Joe Son, Carrie Fisher, Burt Bacharach, Cindy MargolisAustin Powers Fembots Babes Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, Mindy Sterling, Michael York, Fabiana Udenio, Will Ferrell, Mimi Rogers, Joe Son, Carrie Fisher, Burt Bacharach, Cindy MargolisAustin Powers Electric Pussycat Psychedelic Sw Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, Mindy Sterling, Michael York, Fabiana Udenio, Will Ferrell, Mimi Rogers, Joe Son, Carrie Fisher, Burt Bacharach, Cindy Margolis

Satans Blade Killer Scott Castillo Jr., Tom Bongiorno, Stephanie Leigh Steel, Thomas Cue, Elisa R. Malinovitz, Janeen Lowe, Ramona Andrada, Diane Taylor,

Satan’s Blade: the evil spirit of an ancient and violent mountain-man terrorises tourists at a secluded ski lodge. At 80 minutes, you expect a punchy slasher, and with the first ten minutes only consisting of women getting undressed then shot in the tits, it’s half way there… however it all goes south very quickly. Released in 1984, this has more of a 50s/60s feel due to very basic camerawork, acting, editing, and a very poor sound mix – people talking inside a car, but no car noises; missing screams; shouting through walls but sounding crystal clear; silent shower curtains etc. Also, for a slasher, the deaths are fairly disappointing, with dabbed on blood and lots of cutting/editing; but very little gore. The acting isn’t much better, with ‘studenty’ performances, and stunted delivery of very stale dialogue. You know a film’s amazingly bad when the IMDB page is full of its actors/writers tearing it to pieces and apologising for it! Regular viewers will be disappointed by Satan’s Blade; but as a formerly rare, no budget b-movie, the Blu Ray release is a treat for hardened collectors and VHS nostalgists looking to upgrade their copy, and learn about the film through the plethora of new extras and features.

Score: 2/10

Satans Blade Scott Castillo Jr., Tom Bongiorno, Stephanie Leigh Steel, Thomas Cue, Elisa R. Malinovitz, Janeen Lowe, Ramona Andrada, Diane Taylor,

Satans Blade Death Scott Castillo Jr., Tom Bongiorno, Stephanie Leigh Steel, Thomas Cue, Elisa R. Malinovitz, Janeen Lowe, Ramona Andrada, Diane Taylor,

Standard death acting in this picture

 

Strike Back Vengeance Season 3 Trio Philip Winchester, Sullivan Stapleton, Rhashan Stone, Liam Garrigan, Rhona Mitra, Charles Dance, Vincent Regan, Natalie Becker, Shane Taylor, Stephanie Vogt

Strike Back: Vengeance (Season 3) – when a billionaire acquires four nuclear triggers in order to re-shape Africa, only section 20 can stop him. Continuing with the UK/US collaboration, this takes everything that worked about ‘Project Dawn’ and made it all bigger/louder/better. Every episode is wall to wall action; with dozens of set pieces, hundreds of deaths, and a load of whiz-bang sex scenes. The entire season is 100mph, and it’s simply great fun. The characters feel more rounded, the leads’ chemistry is fantastic, and it’s very professionally made – but things like ‘character development’, ‘plot’, and ‘direction‘ are background noise to the explosions, gunfights, stunt driving, and spec ops that march the show forward. It’s hard to believe that such a ridiculously intense level of action (huge set pieces every 10 mins or so) can be done on a TV budget – the 10 episodes are paired off into FIVE 90-minute long mini missions that run together. In a world of toned down and heavily edited 12-rated action films, the swearing, sex, and sensational action makes this feel like something from ‘the good old days’. Completely knowing, and aimed directly at young male action fans, Strike Back Vengeance is a show that only really does one thing (infinite ammo, high-octane action turned up to 11), but does it brilliantly – making it a truly unmissable show for action fans

Score: 8.5/10

Strike Back Vengeance Season 3 Sniping Philip Winchester, Sullivan Stapleton, Rhashan Stone, Liam Garrigan, Rhona Mitra, Charles Dance, Vincent Regan, Natalie Becker, Shane Taylor, Stephanie Vogt

The Swinging Cheerleaders Girls Jack Hill, Jo Johnston, Rainbeaux Smith, Colleen Camp, Rosanne Katon, Ric Carrott, Ian Sander, George D. Wallace, John Quade, Robert Lee Minor, Mae Mercer, Gary Schneider,

The Swinging Cheerleaders: an investigative journalist infiltrates a cheerleading team for an article, but ends up uncovering an even bigger story. Most interestingly, this film is made by exploitation master Jack Hill (Big Bird Cage, Coffy, Foxy Brown – and straight after those films) trying to avoid becoming a one-trick pony with ‘Blaxploitation‘ or ‘Women In Prison‘ films. Very much a snapshot of the times, every character is ‘stock’ / stereotypical, and the various plot threads are relatively straight forward. Disappointingly, this film is way more tame that you’d expect from Jack Hill, and a film called ‘The Swinging Cheerleaders’. It’s title and marketing pitch it as a sequel to ‘The Cheerleaders’ (a raunchy comedy), but this one’s a completely different beast: it’s not exploitation, or even a sex-comedy, but feels more like an educational piece about college / sex / gambling / drugs / match fixing. Think watered-down Roger Corman picture, or heavily censored Russ Meyer picture. Although The Swinging Cheerleaders is  a well made and entertaining picture; it all feels a bit rushed and compromised.

Score: 5/10

As always, Arrow have given this movie the ultimate release, with a brand new 2K restoration and – as always – there are shedloads of interviews, extras, and a director’s commentary – making this an essential purchase for Cheerleader and Jack Hill fans. 

The Swinging Cheerleaders Afro Jack Hill, Jo Johnston, Rainbeaux Smith, Colleen Camp, Rosanne Katon, Ric Carrott, Ian Sander, George D. Wallace, John Quade, Robert Lee Minor, Mae Mercer, Gary Schneider,

 

The Green Inferno Red Hands Paint Tribe Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Daryl Sabara, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Sky Ferreira, Magda Apanowicz, Nicolás Martínez, Aaron Burns, Ignacia Allamand, Ramón Llao, Richard Burgi, Eli Roth

The Green Inferno: when she joins a deforestation activism group, a naïve student comes face to face with the cannibal savages she’s trying to protect. I’ll put it straight out there; I’m not a big fan of Eli Roth… that being said, I had a blast with this film. The naive protagonist / final girl is surrounded by thin and/or unlikable characters (angsty alternative goths, far out hippy protesters, etc) so you’re not all that fussed about their fates, and watching them get dispatched is rather entertaining. There’s some outrageous practical effects, showcasing bloody and disgusting gore, but it’s all tongue cut out in cheek – think ultra black horror / borderline stoner comedy – with several laugh out loud moments. There’s a fun Final Destination style plane crash, followed by an intense tribe meeting (the scariest part of the film) – and after that it’s all killer. The only two downsides are that the film takes around halve the running time to get going; it also feels less urgent / more detached than the ‘found footage’ ‘real life’ cannibal exploitation films of the 70s & 80s. It would have been foolish to try to pull off a ‘Mountain of the Cannibal Holocaust Ferox God’ movie in 2015, as it just wouldn’t have the same impact, so Roth has taken the ‘cannibal movie’ template and given it a nice postmodern spin. The Green Inferno got an unfair rep by people mostly focusing solely on the gore; but tonally, it feels more like an out-and-out send up of student, or ‘leftie’ activism to me. Over time I hope it’ll become a cult hit along the likes of Cannibal the Musical and Delicatessen. Disgustingly enjoyable.

Score: 7/10
B-Movie Score: 9/10

The Green Inferno Final Girl Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Daryl Sabara, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Sky Ferreira, Magda Apanowicz, Nicolás Martínez, Aaron Burns, Ignacia Allamand, Ramón Llao, Richard Burgi, Eli Roth

The Green Inferno Baddie Bone Nose Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Daryl Sabara, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Sky Ferreira, Magda Apanowicz, Nicolás Martínez, Aaron Burns, Ignacia Allamand, Ramón Llao, Richard Burgi, Eli Roth

 

Criminal Activities, Michael Pitt, Dan Stevens, Christopher Abbott, Rob Brown, Edi Gathegi, Jackie Earle Haley, John Travolta, Deidre Harmon,

Criminal Activities [mild spoilers]: when they get a bad investment tip a group of friends try to settle their debt to a mob boss by kidnapping a rival gangster’s family member. I was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining this crime caper was – the henchmen side-story (which stars the director) is particularly rib-ticking. The script and performances are surprisingly funny, but there are so many “Fucks” in here it feels like the film is going for a Guinness record – which is a bit of a shame, as it distracts from the good jokes. There are also some very well handled and well placed moments of serious tension and drama that really sink the hooks in to the viewer. The big issue is that it completely hangs on a very large and very wild twist that you could never have guessed on your own (and requires about 10 mins of runtime to fully explain). I hate lazy comparisons, but this one’s quite unique: think Lock Stock and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – and you just don’t get many good films in this sub-genre. How much you ultimately enjoy Criminal Activities will depend on your tolerance for a big old slap in the face at the end – although there’s plenty fun to be had on the way.

Score: 6.5/10

JAPANORAMA - Gang of 3 BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMA.jpg

Yakuza Apocalypse, frogman, 極道大戦争, Gokudō Daisensō, Takashi Miike, Yayan Ruhian, Rirî Furankî, Hayato Ichihara, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Riko Narumi, Pierre Taki, Ryushin Tei,

Yakuza Apocalypse: a virus that turns everyone into a yakuza mobster is sweeping through a sleepy Japanese town; along with some vampires, goths, and a ninja frogman. There are two fairly major signs that you’ll either love or hate this film: firstly, the ‘Mangalogo guarantees some mental Japanese stuff; secondly, Takashi Miike directing is another indicator of mental Japanese stuff. Suffice to say that there’s so much silly, random, and mental Japanese stuff (like a bird goblin man, kung fu frogman in a frog suit – mostly for no obvious reason) that it becomes a chore to keep up with. You get the feeling that Miike was going for a ‘Happiness of the Katakuris’ vibe, but got bogged down in the randomness and forgot about the plot. It opens with an ultra-violent bloodbath, but stalls immediately after and never really hits the top gear again: even the anti-fight at the end is a disappointing reductive idiom gag (massive build up / deliberately rubbish fight). A disappointing non-film from one of the most hit-or-miss directors on the planet. One for the Manga / Japanese / Miike fanboys only.

Score: 3.5/10

Yakuza Apocalypse, Boss Fight, Finale, 極道大戦争, Gokudō Daisensō, Takashi Miike, Yayan Ruhian, Rirî Furankî, Hayato Ichihara, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Riko Narumi, Pierre Taki, Ryushin Tei,

Yakuza Apocalypse, Poster, 極道大戦争, Gokudō Daisensō, Takashi Miike, Yayan Ruhian, Rirî Furankî, Hayato Ichihara, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Riko Narumi, Pierre Taki, Ryushin Tei,