Dogtooth (Kynodontas): three teenagers are completely isolated from the outside world by their overprotective parents; but they’re starting to become curious. This manages to successfully juggle various usually-avoided elements: it’s all very strange, quite full-on, and doesn’t really go anywhere; it’s completely awkward and deadpan – yet despite all of this, it manages to draw you in, entertain, and make you laugh. A lot of the funnies come from simple things like the misuse words; they call a salt shaker a telephone, a large lamp a cunt, flowers are zombies, and in one of the best – and weirdest – scenes the father intentionally mistranslates “Fly Me To The Moon”. The house is an unsettling location, almost like a laboratory: total white-out where everything is crisp, clean, clinical. There’s some full-on sex, full-frontal nudity, and a lesbian sub-plot – but these are also completely cold and sterile. Cast-wise, the three children are fantastic, and the main reason this film works: their naivety and childlike awe of external interference is completely believable and great to watch. It’s also masterfully directed, and effectively shot & framed – the most important part of scene is usually off-center, or sometimes completely out of shot. In a word Dogtooth is bizarre – on the cinematic map it’s in relatively uncharted territory between the severity of Haneke and the dark humour of Solondz – and as the runtime progresses it just keeps getting weirder and funnier. Dark and original, Dogtooth is a treat for those that want to try something completely different.
Surf Nazis Must Die: after an earthquake lays California to waste its beaches become overrun by feuding surfer factions; the meanest of which are the surf Nazis – but when they kill the wrong man, his grandmother wages a one-OAP-War against the them. If you think that plot sounds terrible, wait ‘til you see the film. Several scenes try to live up to the title by attempting to be outrageous – flippant racism and the single most gratuitous softcore boobs in B movie history – but it comes across as lazy. This is absolutely crammed with bad script, bad acting, bad editing, bad plot, bad ‘action’, and completely devoid of gore… congratulations, you’ve taken all of the elements of a classic B/Cult movie, yet made something that barely qualifies as watchable. For an 83 minute film, at least 20 mins could be cut and not affect the ‘story’. It also looks and feels like it was made for $50. My biggest question is that when the Nazis can dispose of gangs of badass bikers, agile Parkour, Deadly Ninjas and Speedy Skaters – yet they struggle with one vigilante granny?!!? Given the reputation and notoriety of a 28-year old B-Movie that’s stuck around for the duration, I was expecting so much more. Goes to show how much a wild title and sweet poster can do for a movie. A terrible, lazy, attempt at shoxploitation; where the only shock is how it even got a release.
Juan of the Dead (Juan De Los Muertos): when zombies infest Havana Juan and his friends start up a zombie disposal service for survivors that want zombies out of their house. For a zom-com this is, crucially, really funny – the film’s held together with great moments of dark humour, and several genuinely laugh-out-loud running gags about the zombies being branded “dissidents” by the government, harpoons and poking fun at wider horror clichés. For a country with such a tiny film industry, it’s well shot and directed – with decent action scenes (mostly hacking and slashing) – and it looks great, save for some lame CGI explosions. The political undertones and jibes at the government are great because it’s something that Romero did at the beginning of the Zombie resurgence that has been lost in the plethora of modern flicks. Being Spanish, it does suffer from some over-acting, with most of the supporting cast ‘hamming it up’, and for some reason, a completely unnecessary random man in drag. It’s also crammed with naff music that sounds ripped off of cheap TV adverts and old ‘carry on’ films. Juan of the Dead is far more than just a witty title (and tagline “He’s Havana killer day”) – it’s a funny, entertaining zombie romp with more to say than most horror films.
“She’s a blogger; one of those people that write nonsense on the internet”
Chronicle: found footage sci-fi flick following three guys who become close friends when they inherit telekinetic/psychokinetic superpowers, and how it changes them. The first ~70 minutes are pretty sweet and the story’s built up well; with solid acting and slap-dash characterisation of three teenagers, who are surprisingly smart (and far more believable) when compared to those of other super-power films. You see them slowly discover and develop their strange new powers which is equally entertaining and fascinating – there’s a few good comedy moments. It’s somewhat disappointing that on the home stretch, one character becomes a ridiculous ‘baddie’ figure (at the mention of the phrase Apex Predator) and the ensuing smash-em-up action-fest feels gratuitous, quota-filling and budget-busting. A quick explanation into the cause of the powers – the hole in the ground – would have been nice, but it’s not a dealbreaker. Overall, Chronicle is a good idea, well executed, boasting smart effects, loads of product placement, feels refreshingly all-American, and in the end, it’s both interesting & watchable; making this a surprisingly mature directorial debut for Josh Trank, who I suspect we’ll be seeing much more of…
Thunderball: A NATO bomber carrying nukes ditches in the sea prompting a ransom from SPECTRE and 7-day ultimatum – and James Bond is the only person with a lead.
Thunderball is a pretty shocking follow-up to Goldfinger, with almost zero memorable – let alone iconic – scenes /or lines. It’s also punctuated with too many lengthy and boring underwater set-pieces, peaking with a battle that goes on forever and lacks any audio element.
The only vaguely famous scene would be the card game in the casino with one-eye’d Largo. As far as villains go, Largo is pretty poor, but his main henchman – straight-edge Vargas, takes the piss: what a pitiful baddie. I almost felt sorry for those two.
If Thunderball’s good for something it’s showing us deeper into Bond’s psyche – he blackmails and forces himself upon women, will sleep with absolutely anyone, does whatever it takes for King and Country, and is so reckless that he doesn’t care who’s life he endangers!
The most memorable scene is the ridiculously sped-up projections at the end, genuinely laugh out loud material – yet Thunderball won the Oscar for best SFX. It’s a bit of a car crash for a Goldfinger follow-up and far, far, far too long given how little happens.
Villain: Largo, one eyed sailor – Number 2 – just following orders. 5
Henchmen: Ginger Fiona / Straight-Edge Vargas – the worst henchman ever. 2
Bond Girl: Bikini girl Domino / Spa Worker Patricia. 4
Action: Tranny fight / Boat Chase / Scuba War. 4