Deathgasm: after playing a very old piece of music, newly-formed metal band accidentally unleash evil spirits on their hometown. If you even remotely like any kind of Rock or Metal music this film is an absolute must-see as it’s 90 mins of lovingly poking fun at ‘metalheads’, metal bands, and most of the sub-genres. There’s jokes about everything from glam/hair metal and dubstep, through to Rick Astley and the ridiculousness of ‘extreme’ metal band names (Deathgasm spitball through other potential band names like ‘Murder Boner’, ‘Maggot Sperm’, and ‘Cannibal Unicorn’). There are so many throwaway jokes that you lose track, and when the film’s not poking fun at music it’s throwing some seriously good ‘old school’ over-the-top gore onto the screen – with a body-splitting, blood-drenched aesthetic that lands somewhere between Evil Dead and Braindead. Direction-wise, the blend of horror and comedy is absolutely perfect, and there’s a lot of horror (and wider cinema) nods through ‘classic’ camera shots and visual references. The only two negatives I can mention are that scenes like demons being beaten to death in slow motion with dildos and anal beads may not be for everyone, and I’m not sure if the gore alone would be enough to win over non-metal fans (there’s not a lot of new ‘horror’ ground covered). Deathgasm is a crimson-covered gem of a film that is a blast to watch, entertains for the full 90 minutes. Brutal!
B-Movie Score: 9/10
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.
B-Movie Score: 9/10
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.
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.
B-Movie Score: 9/10
Ein! Zwei! Die!
Dead Snow: while staying at a remote cabin in the woods a group of friends are attacked by hordes of Nazi zombies! You immediately warm to this film as it put all the horror movie tropes front and center: horny “teenagers” in the remote wilderness with no phone signal, then they realise that it’s is how horror films start (ay oh!!). There’s also a film geek thrown in for reference-o-rama – we get everything from a braindead t-shirt to Arnie impressions. Once the setup – complete with creepy old local warning them – is out of the way we’re treated to a barrage of old school jumps, dark horror comedy, and loads sensational barnstorming, limb-pulling, head-rolling, splatter-tastic blood and guts – that puts the film somewhere between Raimi and Troma. Everyone involved looks like they’re having fun, and the ‘zombie cast’ are also fantastic – even tougher when they’re not strictly zombies: faster, smarter etc. The last hour romps through so much entertaining gore and dark jokes that when one of the last scenes gets a bit serious it feels like a hefty dramatic gut punch. If you’ve read this far, you probably don’t mind the idea of watching a Nazi Zombie film; and I can’t imagine many being better than this. Dead Snow is an absolutely solid (Nazi) gold, gory-AF horror-comedy.
B-Movie Score: 9/10
Everly: after four years as a Yakuza sex slave Everly wants to be back with her family – and she’s willing to kill anyone that stands in her way. Welcome to Titty City: population 2, Salma’s girls. This film is ‘bootay central’ as Salma jogs around in silk nightgowns, low cuts, yoga pants… and the sprinklers even come on to give us a sexy wet-look finale! (classic move). She gets shot, burned, stabbed, tased, tied, tortured… but never looks less than fantastic. Being set in a brothel there’s also a long line of leggy babes dressed like all the fantasies! Not content with misrepresenting just women, this throws every Japanese stereotype you can think of in the mix: intelligent Asian man full of wise “my uncle once told me” proverbs; full theatre costumes with geta shoes; samurai sword / sai dagger wielding yakuzas; sprawling back tattoos, etc etc. On the upside, the film is very well made – looking as good as most big-budget pictures – and the SFX team does some great work with buckets of blood, severed limbs, and loads of new creative ways to kill people. I was rather enjoying it all until a nasty acid torture moment, which seemed to dip briefly into torture-porn territory and haul me out of the film. This type of movie isn’t for everyone, but Everly combines the story elements of an old-school rape-revenge rampage with modern over-the-top ultra-exploitative action; and it does both of those very well. Salma’s acting and director Joe Lynch’s enthusiasm raise this above the shlocky B-movie that it truly is.
B-Movie Score: 8/10
Zombie Flesh Eaters (AKA Zombie, aka Zombi 2: The Dead are Among Us): after a freak attack a newspaper reporter and missing scientist’s daughter head to a Caribbean island where zombies are rumored to exist. Much like the zombies of this era, the film shuffles forward very slowly taking a long time to go anywhere. For zombie B-movie it’s shot far more stylishly and professionally than other genre pictures with some great low-and-wide shots and zombie close-ups – hands, faces, and torsos glacially emerging from maggoty soil – cheesy, but stone cold classic zombie nostalgia that’s been copied in everything from derivative zom-coms to computer games. The gore is also fantastic… cheeks being bitten off, chunks of flesh ripped down to the bone and tendons, intestines, limb ripping, headshots; and a handful of even more mental moments like a zombie fighting a shark, and flaming zombies!! It’s not all gold though: there’s plenty bad acting, off-putting dubbing, a hammy script, and the story is also fairly weak. A spiritual sequel to Dawn of the Dead (in Italy, where any film can be marketed as a sequel to any other film – WTF Italy?) it succeeds at matching the look and tone, but is missing the social commentary – which is what sets Romero’s films apart from the rest. Despite ending with 30 minutes of non-stop action and top-rated zombie carnage, Zombie Flesh Eaters is dragged down from the ‘best of the best’ shelf by the slow and uneventful first hour.
B-Movie Score: 8/10
Sharknado 2: The Second One – while promoting their new ‘How to survive a Sharknado’ book, Fin and his ex-wife April get caught up in an even bigger storm in New York City. Due to the runaway success of the first movie everyone wants a bite: it’s cameo city with a distracting number of ‘famous’ people clambering over each other for lines and gory deaths; the camera lingers on extras that feel like crowbarred in Z-list celebrities; and more cynically, some big brands have waded in NY Mets, Subway, The Today Show… On an unrelated note, an extremely large proportion of the cast have wrinkle-and-expression-free crazy facelift faces. It’s not all bad though: the effects have improved big time, the action is far more outrageous, and it feels more ambitious than the original – pushing the ‘Sharknado‘ idea further, and getting more mileage out of the concept. Despite continuing to break almost every continuity rule known to cinema – it’s surprisingly fun to watch and has a few laugh-out-loud moments, like the absurd shark info graphics on weather reports. Sharknado 2 is still a SyFy straight-to-dvd ‘film’ – the DVD even opens with a ‘Stonado’ trailer (replace hungry sharks with exploding stones!) – but it’s bigger, better, dumber, funnier, and more enjoyable than its predecessor.
B-movie Score: 7/10
– Home Run
– Bat Impalement
– Chainsaw’d in half
– Machine Gunned
– Angry Mobbed
– Super-Soaker Flamethrower
Gladiator: an army general turned slave must rise from the pits of the Colosseum and take down a false leader who murdered his family, friends, and previous employer. The cast is a jaw-dropping mix of ‘classic’ thespians, up-and-comers, bodybuilders, and comedians but everyone feels completely at home in their roles. The plot is simple, but packed with so much Shakespearean betrayal and deception that feels hypnotic in parts. Action scenes are huge, flashy, and bloody – but remain visceral & entertaining, and stand up against anything coming out today. It’s hard to find flaws in this: In fact, my only minor niggle is that some of the setup feels rushed and clunky; like how you can pick anyone off the ground and make ‘em a slave. You know a film is special when even after a handful of viewings and years of TV re-runs it still grips you, and the 155 minute runtime flies by. Everything about Gladiator feels truly ‘epic’ in the classic Hollywood sense – the sets, the action, the plot, the acting, the score – and it all comes together perfectly to create what’s arguably the perfect swords and sandals film.
Sharknado: a freak storm is sucking sharks from the ocean and dumping them into flooded Los Angeles! You don’t watch a film called ‘Sharknado’ for its plot, cinematography, or effects… that being said, it would have been nice if the film tried! The normal shots look quite good, but the added “speshul” effects are piss poor – even basic stuff like rain looks bad; why would you not use real water!?! No tension or suspense is built up at any point; shots are disjointed and poorly cut together – everything ‘important’ to the ‘plot’ is shot as a close up, and quickly cut in and out – giving you no sense of scale, time, or location. Even silly details like the gang being chased up the street by a wave, but finding the time to individually winch an entire school bus of (50!?) kids and their driver to safety. Worst of all, it didn’t make much use of the actual ‘Sharknado’ – focusing instead on sharks swimming in flooded areas or just landing on people. The biggest distraction from all the mess isn’t even sharks; it’s Cassie Scerbo; a leggy short-shorts surf babe with a bikini / mesh top, who spends most of the runtime cocking a shotgun – as a male, this is a feasible distraction (I can only imagine American men getting a little light-headed.) There’s a few good quips, championed by “looks like that time of the month” as the guys stare at gallons of splooshing bloody water – a period joke lol. Despite a promising concept and wild title, Sharknado is more of the same from the company that brought us stuff like Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus. It feels more like a weak drinking game or marketing exercise, than even a basic attempt to capitalise on the attention-grabbing title. Not the worst film I’ve ever seen, but could and should have been way better than it was.
B-movie Score: 5/10
- Compressed Air Canister
- Pool Cue Stabbing
- Bar Stool Smash
- Shotgun (x4)
- Chainsaw Split
- Car Bumper Impalement
- Pylon Blasting
- Flaming Water (!!!)
- Knife Attack
- Internal Combustion
Blood Rage (AKA: Slasher. AKA Nightmare at Shadow Woods. AKA Complex): an evil child frames his twin brother for murder – 10 years on, when the sane brother escapes from an asylum, he finally has an excuse to kill again. The clunky dialogue and bog-standard horror scenarios really emphasise the wooden performances – championed by the mum, who is drunk in one scene, then normal, then catatonic, then madly cleaning, then scoffing food off the floor… she’s laughably terrible. Strangely, the direction itself isn’t bad; conjuring up some striking and iconic images, and the ‘twins’ aspect (both played by the same actor) is well done; arguably the most impressive thing about the film. Despite the catalogue of unintentional missteps it’s a fun enough film to watch – namely due to the comically extreme and over the top slashtastic gore: entire sets are painted red, and limbs & bodies end up everywhere. Mash this all together and it kind of works in a weird, HDTGM type of way (nothing about the story makes sense). While Blood Rage isn’t a great film in anyone’s book; it’s the best type of bad film, for having a high body count, and being knowingly bad (like the Cranberry sauce zinger!). it can still be enjoyed, and is prime for cult viewings and drinking games.
B-Movie Score: 7/10
The Arrow Blu Ray 2K restoration is great: the film looks cleaner and brighter than it has any right to be, and – as always – there are shedloads of behind the scenes, extras and interviews with the cast. Making this a must-have for B-Movie aficionados.
Tenebrae (Unsane): the author of a string of successful-but-violent novels goes to promote his latest book in Rome, but someone is stalking and killing his fans & entourage. From the opening scene this is like watching the essence of the 1980s – it’s all very stylish, with flashy direction, bold wardrobes, striking locations, and modelesque actors. Most impressively, there’s a lot of impeccable camerawork – like a completely unnecessary, but nonetheless beautiful, elongated single-take crane shot (with Bonus double-kill!!) that circles a building for minutes. It’s also one of the most bright and colourful slashers you’ll ever see, with phenomenal lighting and particularly eye-popping greens and reds. The soundtrack is dominated by a catchy synth rock earworm, which may sound familiar as it was more recently sampled by Justice (original by Goblin.) It’ feels smarter and better planned than most other slashers as it sets everyone up as a potential suspect, then slowly kills them off one by one, ending on a stunning finale with around 10 minutes of sustained blood, gore, and multiple plot twists – which plays out like a precursor to later and more aware horror films like Scream. Other than being almost exclusively suspiciously sexualised nudey babes that are being butchered right left and center there isn’t much to complain about here. Tenebre sees a visionary Italian (and Horror) auteur crafting one of his most mainstream movies – a dual language whodunnit – at the height of his notoriety. A truly classic and top-drawer horror / giallo film that’s a crimson blueprint for subsequent slashers; it’s still great fun to watch, and easy to admire.
Tromeo & Juliet: A modern punk re-telling of the Bard’s classic story that sees two young lovers from feuding families risk everything for each other. Other than the ending, this is a reasonably true interpretation of Shakespeare‘s story – even large chunks of olde dialogue have been kept – but as this is Troma there’s (obviously) an exploitative twist in that it’s packed with blood, sexy goths, lesbians, gratui-tits, piercings, monsters, tampons, vomit, showtunes, popcorn, rats, and a bunch of masturbation / poop / piss / gay / incest jokes. Most annoyingly, there’s a ton of shameless and distracting Troma self-promotion like huge posters, VHS boxes, and Toxie even makes a brief appearance… as if this movie was destined to be the most successful Troma release! It’s very 1990s (the clothes, haircuts, music, the references, and technology like CD-ROMs) as well as being very low-budget effort even by Troma standards: the pairing of which provides a double kick of nostalgia and admirably guerrilla low-budget aesthetic. For a comedy however, it’s not particularly funny although the the end credits provide more laughs in 5 mins than the previous 90 – with dozens of fake entries, and someone proudly proclaiming “Now I don’t have to read the play!”. None of Troma’s releases are aimed at mass audiences and despite taking on one of the most famous stories of all time, Tromeo and Juliet is no exception – it’s low-fi, silly, violent, and controversial in true Troma/Kaufman-style. Despite all of this, ultimately, it isn’t as funny or shocking as it needs to be to sustain a movie this basic. I picked up the Blu-Ray, which I could only recommend for mega-fans of the film as there’s a bunch of extras and four different commentaries – all quite funny.
Maniac (Remake – 2012): the deranged and murderous owner of a mannequin shop crosses paths with an artist who understands his appreciation for the figures. Not for the faint hearted, this is packed with violence and gore; in all of the graphic scenes you keep thinking ‘they’ll cut away from it now… Now… NOW?!?!’. These gut-wrenching effects are paired with a deranged and explicit sound design, which makes this very unnerving and creepy to watch. Elijah Wood is sufficiently creepy-looking and charming – although he doesn’t get the same chance to push his range as this version is mostly shot from his point of view (POV). Because of the POV shooting, brutal sound effects and explicit gore you feel more like a participant than an observer, which works disturbingly well in the voyeuristic and chase sequences. The original Maniac is great, and still holds up today, but times have changed and this one ups the ante in every aspect, becoming more shocking by comparison, whilst retaining a certain retro ‘video nasty’ / ‘classic exploitation‘ vibe (aided by plenty homages and similarities to the original, and an exquisite post-Drive 1980s synth soundtrack.) On a scale of ‘one to creepy’ this is CREEPY AS FUCK and – like the original – although this is 100% unrecommendable, the Maniac remake is an exploitation and slasher masterpiece.
Ex Machina: a young programmer wins a contest to spend a week with his boss to complete every nerds fantasy; participating in the ultimate Turing Test with a sexy humanoid robo-babe!! There’s no doubting that it’s an ambitious movie; it’s not particularly dumbed down, leaning on some quite technical programming / A.I. terminology and dialogue – there’s no explosions or robots hitting robots in here, and the focus isn’t solely on the droid-meets-boy angle. It’s a fun film to watch because the script and acting are continually misleading and distracting you – hinting that a person or story may go down one path, which isn’t always the case. The direction’s solid, especially for a first-timer – there’s a sustained creepy and unsettling tone, especially once the plot gets rolling, which is aided by an ominous electronic score, crafting a slowly unraveling spiral that even dabbles with horror and body horror elements towards the end. The coldness of the house/facility, and TrollHunter-esque organic, wild and remote scenery also play a large part. My only real issue with this is that the last 5 minutes include some seriously lingering shots of nudity, which felt unnecessary – especially given that the characters are covered for most of the duration. The slickness and simplicity of Ex Machina is like a shiny facade, behind it are dozens of bigger questions about humans, creations, robots, A.I., ethics, religion… although it’s hard to tell if this is all deliberate, as it’s somewhere between Blade Runner / A.I. lite and a slicker, stripped back Frankenstein – with a hardware and firmware updates, of course.
The Drop: when his bar is robbed on a ‘drop night’ – when illegal bookies stash their winnings for gangs to collect – a bar owner, and bartender need to figure out who’s ripped them off. This is a film that’s been designed to be a quiet slow-burner with sustained tension. It’s the kind of film where someone asking for directions or talking about a dog has multiple meanings and veiled threats. There’s a lot of additional detail thrown in to deliberately set up every character as being potentially dangerous, giving you just enough information about their life to explain their circumstances, and making them feel more authentic. The mood is carried expertly by a strong central cast – Hardy plays a blinder as a slightly simple bartender, Gandolfini was engrossing but because it was his last role it would have been good to see him doing something that wasn’t a ‘Soprano lite’ job. Rapace and Schoenaerts are also very impressive in their supporting roles. it’s so well made and acted that it reminds you of other ‘hefty’ films like Mystic River or Prisoners. The only couple of missteps were that the Chechen gangsters felt like they were straight out of Taken; and because it’s set in religious Brooklyn, the thick accents were a little bit iffy across the board. It’s clearly meant to be an actor’s piece, but when it’s this well-presented and finely tuned, you’ve got to tip your hat to director Michaël R. Roskam and Cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis. Despite being intensely low-key and a touch dreary, The Drop is ultimately a gripping character-driven crime drama, and I’m surprised there’s not been a bigger buzz about it.
Kung Fury: After being struck by lightning and bitten by a cobra a cop is transformed into a Kung Fu master and swears to protect his city from evil; evil like Adolf Hitler. Not unlike a Zucker brothers comedy, Kung Fury is crammed with a continuous assault of gags – lots hit the mark, some don’t, but the rapid pace doesn’t give you time to dwell on any of them. There are however a couple of big reservations that hit you when watching this: firstly, it all seems overly familiar because the film’s structured like a collage of ‘cool’ scenes, ideas and parodies from lots of great sources – Danger 5 (literally dozens of ideas stolen from this), Iron Sky, Oldboy, MacGruber, Mortal Kombat, ThunderCats, MASK… all of which are welcome, but you’ll have seen elsewhere. Secondly, with the characters being steampunk Nazis, talking animals, Viking babes with machine guns, dinosaurs etc – it feels like box-checking meme-bait: think SuckerPunch distilled into 30 minutes. Aesthetically, it looks beautiful and feels retro – mostly green screen, but all very well done, with seamless editing, and a couple of nostalgic VHS wear / tracking / distortion moments that really play up the 80s setting. There’s no denying that Kung Fury is fun, entertaining, and particularly well-crafted given the CGI-heavy nature – but ultimately it’s let down by a distinct lack of originality content.
You can watch the entire movie on YouTube below
Winter’s Bone: an old-before-her-time teenager must hunt down her estranged father in order to keep her house, and troubled family together. The general structure of almost any film is: set up, complication(s), and resolution. In Winter’s Bone all three sections consist of Jennifer Lawrence running around in the wilderness looking for her dad, which is so flat and one-dimensional that it tires very quickly. Almost every scene plays out like this – “Is my dad here?” “Can’t tell you child”, “tell me”, “no” – repeat x40. It’s also tear-inducingly bleak in it’s visuals and style – everything greyed out and void of any interest. It’s all a bit Cormac McCarthy-esque, not unlike The Road. Lawrence is decent – in a Hungry–Games style role – but the standout for me is her uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes) who is absolutely spellbinding. What with all of the plaudits this comes with, you can’t help but feel a bit cheated by it. A very, very solemn version of “Dude, where’s my Dad?”
Lone Wolf and Cub – Baby Cart in Peril (AKA – 子連れ狼 親の心子の心 Kozure Ōkami: Oya no kokoro ko no kokoro, Shogun Assassin 3: Slashing Blades of Carnage): Ito’s latest contract is to assassinate a killer of many samurai, but to his surprise it’s a lady with outstanding short-blade skills, and in a similar situation to himself… Oyuki presents a very strong female lead, something that the previous movies have had – but not taken this seriously. The very first frame is a tattooed boob, so it starts off great! But soon after there’s a bit of silly magic (face mask magic guy), some sizable flashback sections, and a lot more talking than previous installments. However, as good as the story and premise are, the Babycart films are never better than their action set-pieces: with Wakayama hacking, slashing, and literally flying around the frame – he can’t half move around for a big bloke. The now customary ‘final battle’ with dozens of enemies and a few ‘bosses’ is also great, and for the first time we see him properly injured/vulnerable too. More than anything, the film is a little confused about who the baddie is: the girl? Her nemesis? Itto’s old foe? The big hairy guy? By the fourth movie it does feel a bit like more-of-the-same but the film still pushes the boundaries, and does well to set up the one-armed swordsman myth.
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades Review
Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx Review
Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance Review
The Midnight Meat Train (Spoilers): A struggling photographer finds more than just inspiration in late-night New York, as he stumbles across the reason why so many of the city’s people go missing. So, the average human body contains over four liters of blood – unless you’re unlucky enough to be on the Midnight Meat Train, where people have infinite blood. The film is everything that you think a movie called “Midnight Meat Train” would be. It’s a shady story that gets weirder and sillier as the film progresses, finishing with something so ridiculous and over-the-top. The acting’s alright for this type of film (gore, schlock, pure B-movie), but the characters are ridiculous. The lead goes from normal to psychotically obsessed within 2 scenes. My favourite thing about this film is that five years ago, Bradley Cooper was the leading man in a movie where an ogre-king pulls his fiance’s heart out, forces Cooper to eat it, before getting his own tongue ripped out! I don’t know if this could ever have been a good movie, but it’s the kind of film that would have worked a lot better if it was all done in Japan and in Japanese, and not just a J-horror director working in Hollywood, with an American cast.
Chanbara Beauty (a.k.a. OneChanbara, Bikini Zombie Slayers, Bikini Samurai Squad, お姉チャンバラ): straight to DVD zombie-fest based on a hack-and-slash video game centered around action-girls. The four titles and heartbreakingly dubious synopsis say more about the film than any review could, but if you still want to find out if this is any good… It’s always refreshing seeing headstrong, empowered, female action leads unleashing industrial-sized cans of whoopass, grabbing here gender by the balls and proving to everyone that women in modern cinema are no longer… oh, wait… is she wearing a fluffy bikini? Never mind!! Rule one of making a live-action adaptation of any game/manga is instantly broken: don’t do it with shit CGI and no physical effects!!! Made in 2008, looks like something cheap from 1988. Stylistically, it’s topped off with a shitty grey-washed out filter – rendering the movie devoid of almost any colour. The action direction is confusing: too dark, too shaky – and the non-action scenes are long, frequent and boring filler / padding. To cut this review short, I can’t remember the last time that hacking up zombies last felt so boring and arduous. I doubt that even fanboys of the computer games (which I’ve never played) could find any redeeming features in this stinker.
The Man with the Iron Fists: loads of warring factions descend upon ‘Jungle Village’ to snatch up some government gold. It could have just been the version I saw but parts of this looked re-dubbed and deliberately out of synch, with illegible subtitles barely peeking up from bottom? While that’s cute, all of the fancy tricks and money can’t re-create the cheese and charm of a low-budget kung-fu flick. Highlights of this film are the absolutely awesome wire-work, fight choreography, and ultra-gore – there’s more throat rips than MacGruber. There’s also a pretty good cast, with some familiar faces; Bond Baddie, Pai Mei encore, and Russel Crowe (‘Jack Knife’ – LOL!) clearly just there to molest hot-chicks – which will make you nauseous. RZA – a Badass black blacksmith with a penchant for Assassin’s Creed clothing and Jax from Mortal Kombat forearms – was alright, deliberately kept his bit to a minimum, which was a wise choice for a non-actor. The film looks solid – costumes, sets, backdrops – all make for popping visuals. The story was a little too convoluted and complex for the first-time director – but the wow-cast and action were distracting enough. From an action perspective, The Man with the Iron Fists has some great scenes, but as a ‘film’, it’s quite flimsy and superficial, and feels far like more of a continuation/extension of the running in-jokes that the WuTang clan have long had with olde, badly dubbed Kung Fu films. (See Kung Faux).
Stitches: six years after being bullied to death at a party full of brats, Stitches the clown returns for some blood-splattering revenge. As a low-budget british comedy horror, Stitches looks way slicker than it should, and the physical old-skool horror FX are great as impressive as they are fun – very Carpenter, what with all the exploding/bursting limbs, impalement and generally gruesome and comedic deaths. The film’s other main weapon is the streak of black humour throughout; it definitely passes the Kermode 6-laugh test with ease, although it feels like there’s room for a lot much more gags. Ross Noble is the only really notable cast member (Other than Monster Munch Mary!) as the can’t-be-assed clown with a bucket full of so-bad-they’re-good puns and quips, and a taste of the ridiculous. The story’s pretty crap, bu that’s to be expected in this territory. Stitches is a passably funny slasher-at-a-party horror romp that makes up for its shortcomings by laying out some of the goriest, bloodiest and ridiculously entertaining death sequences.
Justified (Season 3): the Dixie Mafia – backed by Detroit – are aggressively targeting Harlan with oxy; but Raylan, Boyd, or anyone else in the county isn’t going to be a rollover. The lead antagonist, Robert Quarles, absolutely steals the show, phenomenally played by Neal McDonough: smart, uncontrollable, freakishly calm and articulate, deeply troubled psychotic – he’s like the Bond villain that never was, and watching his tailspin into tragedy is an absolutely engrossing. He also gets called everything from an ‘albino giraffe’ and ‘big stupid baby face’ to ‘the man with a thumb for a head’ – unsure if he knew about this or not – but talk about a punchbag! Quarles also brings out the best in his permanently startled-looking right-hand man,Wynn Duffy. The only main character I didn’t buy in to was Limehouse, who was simply played too goofy, and only really appeared to speed up sub-plots. While there’s a few goodies, and baddies, Justified succeeds in leaving most others in the grey area – where you must make up your own mind. The dialogue one-the-whole is so well-written, and characters like Boyd, Quarles and Raylan are an absolute joy to listen to. The only thing that lets down justified is that, in order to keep characters alive, or the story from drying up, some people do things out-of-character, but the fact that you notice these shows how well-written they are to begin with. This series also peaks a little too soon, in the penultimate episode. Every aspect of Justified gets better with each season: the stories, the characters, the humour, the action, the suspense, the acting, the stakes, the entertainment factor – it’s simply TV at it’s best. It’s also not afraid to dig up a storyline / grudge from episodes or seasons past – which rewards die-hard viewers. This is the only show that’s come close to The Good Wife and The Wire for me. TV Gold.
Turkey Shoot (aka Escape 2000 / Blood Camp Thatcher): citizens that defy the futuristic totalitarian government (branded ‘deviants’) are sent to prison camps for re-education; but this camp-master has other plans. The scene’s set well with an opening montage of violence / police brutality. The contrast between the scrawny camp workers and the decadent, pipe-smoking, cognac-sipping, liberty-takin’ fat-cat elite is simple, but effective. The direction, production, sets and action are all way above scratch – particularly the striking imagery throughout and budget busting finale. Putting this DVD in I was expecting a cheap, schlocky B-movie and although this meets all of that criteria, it doesn’t hurt that it’s also a well-made, smart, political, exploitative, black-comedy, prison-camp action thriller. Boiled down, it’s a futuristic take on ‘The Most Dangerous Game‘ – Turkey Shoot is also, undeniably, 24 carat trash.
Freedom is obedience.
Obedience is work.
Work is life.