Iron Sky: in 1945 a group of defeated Nazis fled to the moon, in 2018 they’re coming back to finish what the Fuhrer started! For a B-movie, the graphics and effects are superb: the Blu Ray looks delicious, although washed out in the colour department. Sets, costumes, machinery, and industrial / steampunk settings all look fantastic. Written as an open-source script (aided by the internets) the entire movie is tongue-in-cheek and absolutely rammed with gags, nice details and one-liners – loads of laughs to be had. It’s a bit of everything: political satire, comedy, invasion, sci-fi, exploitation, ‘Nazispoitation’ – the only things it really shies away from are (surprisingly) nudity and gore. You could say that the film’s biggest weakness is that it’s all over the place; but flip it around, there’s something for everyone in here. Cast-wise, everyone’s at the top-range of B-movie; with guys like ‘Stamper’ from Tomorrow Never Dies and Udo Kier going in to full-on scenery chewing baddie mode – what’s not to like?! Given that it’s about moon Nazis, there’s some taboo moments, covering everything from skull measurements to a kamikaze Japanese spaceship – most are subtle enough to be overlooked. Although Iron Sky was panned by mainstream critics, if – like me – you’ve sat through thousands of over-promising, under-delivering B-movies, you’ll understand why this is a top-tier cult / midnight movie. A fantastic space Nazi romp, great fun, and put a smile on my face for the duration.
Nazi base on the moon, obviously.
Black Christmas: [Mild spoiler] a sorority house plagued by abusive phone calls starts losing housemates at a rapid rate, but who is the killer!? Widely considered to be the first ‘slasher’ film, it contains everything we now take for granted in the genre – deranged serial killer with an aversion to young folk (always played by significantly older folk), meticulous stalking, savage attacks, all held together with of blood, terror and tension. This is one of the more technically superior horrors I can remember seeing; the first-person camera stalking is extremely impressive – especially given the size of old equipment – it’s cleverly shot, creepy sounding, well mixed, and remains convincingly festive. This still looks great for a 35 year old low-budget horror – if you can ignore 70s fashion. The high-quality means that a proper atmosphere is built-up, and it becomes genuinely creepy in parts. It’s also ahead of the curve with gratuitously foul language, which stands out more than the gore you see. On the down side, there are some major pacing issues with several sections of boring non-story, non action filler. Most disappointingly, there’s no reveal of the killer, motives or even a face – definitely missed a trick, leaving a bitter, unsatisfying taste. Black Christmas is a good B-movie, better than most of the stuff that’s churned out en masse these days – even after decades of imitation. It’s unfortunate that what would have been so fresh and shocking back in the day is now more interesting for everything behind and off camera – and how it was once innovative, unique, interesting, and bold enough to kickstart a genre.
Blitz: a crazed killer is knocking cops over like skittles in London, but focusing only on one police station… Story-wise, this follows the tried and tested formula featuring an alcoholic on-edge loner cop, a really bad man and some cat-and-mouse games. It looks quite good, but because of the story and realistic feel you’d associate it more with TV shows like The Bill or Luther. Action scenes are the only parts that remind you it’s a movie, although there’s a cracking chase sequence and several brutal / graphic incidents executed really well. Considine is great (as always) in an understated hero cop role, Gillen does a solid bad guy and Statham nails another Statham-type role, although he’s a bit grittier than usual. There’s absolutely no new ground covered, but for a solid cops vs cop killer story this is a cracker.
Richard Pryor Live in Concert: a 74 minute stand-up show filmed at one of Pryor’s 1978 gigs. Starts with an onslaught of “Whiteboys do this stupidly, niggers do it a different way” observations, although they weren’t as frequent after the first 15 minutes. In the course of this he covers topics as diverse as: police methods, dogs, death, fathers, camping, boxing, running, kids, Chinese people, and sex all with enthusiasm and fantastic execution. As someone that’s performed stand-up live and enjoys the genre, it’s clear that Pryor was light years ahead of the curve with his personification of things, delivery, voices and acting. Unfortunately, because this gig – and Pryor – are now so famous all of the best bits are shown on every TV clip show and countdown. Although it’s clearly a great performance, the focus of race throughout puts me off a bit. Pretty dated, slightly risque but unquestionably funny.