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.
Naked Killer (赤裸羔羊): a cop that vomits every time he picks up a gun has to catch a killer that targets men, and stabs / chops off their meat & two veg… Really .The film does nothing to hide its terrible editing, camerawork and flaky acting – feels like a Troma/no-budget movie. The ‘plot’ is impossibly ridiculous and the script / translations are just mental – “why are you pointing your pink pistol at me” & “I’ll squeeze your tits ’til they burst” being just a couple of choice lines. There’s unprecedented levels of flirty lesbian conversations and boob rubbing – definitely a film made exclusively for teenage boys. On the upside: the girls are pretty, and hidden amongst everything else, there are some good fight-scenes (although poorly put together)- that’s… about… it. Naked Killer boils to being a standard assassin/thriller story with as much camp, random, slapstick, bawdy, ridiculous, male-fantasy moments the runtime would allow to throw at it – all very Asian and very 90s. Perhaps it’s the UK version, but the film feels so random and disjointed that it has to be heavily cut – either that or it IS just awful. Despite having properly set expectations for a Category III film called “Naked Killer” this was plain disappointing, although, If you have a ‘thing’ for lesbian Asian assassins, then this is definitely one for you.
Headhunters (Hodejegerne): a professional headhunter, and art thief, risks everything he has to steal a Peter Paul Rubens painting from an ex-mercenary. The central story is absolutely brilliant, and it feels surprisingly fresh given the setup. It’s plot and character driven in equal measures and it doesn’t stop once it gets rolling. The film’s punctuated with brutal graphic violence, although it’s most often used as comedy (!!) to break the unbearable tension built up in pivotal chase / confrontational scenes; I never thought I’d laugh at a smashed up skull, dog abuse, or poop – but if you didn’t laugh, you’d break down. Askel Hennie (a Christopher Walken lookalike) leads a great bunch of actors, and memorable but believable characters. Other than above, you can’t really mention much more without risking spoilers. The film didn’t need the quirky voiceover setup and wrap up – flat-out drama / thriller would have been sufficient – and some parts start to flirt with surrealism, but those are very minor niggles. Headhunters is well-directed, well acted, well written, funny, serious and dramatic crime caper… you couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s an absolute must see; European cinema at its best, and film of the year so far.
Inglourious Basterds: (Blu Ray) Not really much of a re-make after all. Straight off the bat the first 20 minutes are among the immense, intense and electric in memory. As the film continues there’s just so many great sections: Jews in hiding, the Jew Bear’s entrance, strudel meal, entire bar scene, cinema premier (Inc. Italian Accents). Cast-wise: Pitt looks ridiculous and uncomfortable, but is still very, very funny again; Stiglitz is great to watch, especially in the bar scene; Fassbender totally outdoes Mike Meyers, who plays a terrible British stereotype, and as for Cristoph Waltz, what can I say that has not already been said… It’s a bingo! He turns an already fantastic script in to comedy and tension of the highest level without even trying – 100% charisma!! The dialogue’s much more focused and natural than any of the previous Tarantino outings. I also applaud the use of foreign actors and dialogue, which most war films don’t usually have, Tarantino has masterfully cast some of the best European talent in a lot of the key roles – and although there are a lot of characters and story threads coming together it’s all managed quite well, with only a couple of minor lapses. The alternative history setting (& ending) is always a strange pill to swallow, but if you roll with it the film still works. The music chosen isn’t his finest to date. The Blu Ray Sound and picture are both fantastic, definitely reference material. While Tarantino may not be every critic’s cup of tea he keeps giving the public exactly what they want. Ballsy & enjoyable WWII action-romp.
Leon: story of a hitman that takes a 12 year-old under his wing, trains her up and slowly becomes more human in the process. Leon’s pretty complex: made out to be one of the most badass men in the history of cinema in the action scenes, yet comes across as quite coy and simple in others. Gary Oldman’s intense villain is a bit over-acted. The original score dominates many of the scenes and despite being set in New York it’s unmistakably French & has loads of cheeky trademark Besson bits. My favourite aspect of this film is that it plays on the peculiarities and mystique of hitmen / assassins: they come from nowhere, vanish into thin air, can take out swat teams and bodyguards… and scope out every new location. Upon re-watching this for the first time in years it wasn’t as awesome as I remember, hasn’t really aged well (totally 80s) and the plot’s full of massive holes, not to mention severe bouts of police malpractice. It can’t really pass as an action flick because there’s only two action scenes, and as mentioned the story’s pretty flawed. What’s left is a piece of trademark Besson fantasy that’s good, but seems to enjoy an uncannily large ‘best film ever’ reputation.