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
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.)
B-Movie Score: 9.5/10
When a tank missile hits a baby in a pram… obviously.
Pitch Perfect: a cooler-than-thou freshman joins an all-female acapella singing group, and injects some much-needed modernity into their stale routines. For being a comedy the only real providers of laughs are Fat Amy and the inappropriate commentators; which means you only really want to spend time with them, and leaves you wishing that every character was written with more humour. All teenage/early 20s stereotypes are there: quiet one, sex’d up one, uptight one, lesbian one – even the indie geek DJ gal who makes her own mashups. The story arc is probably the weakest part of the film: will they make the finals? Will she get the boy? Will they all be tested in the middle? Duh, duh and duuuuhhh! The musical stuff entertaining enough, but feels a tad too glee-esque to the untrained ear. For a comedy, Pitch Perfect is alright, but there’s not enough aca-laughter to elevate this from good to great; although as a 27 year old dude, the film’s probably not aiming for me – although it did truly cement my aca-boner for Anna Kendrick.
Score: 6/10 (Aca-OK)
The Fly: when a teleporter accidentally fuses his DNA with that of a housefly, brilliant scientist Seth Brundle slowly begins a dramatic transformation into a man-fly! It’s a great testament to Cronenberg that he can have such an obvious directorial stamp on a film, yet keep it feeling like an old-fashioned monster movie; as the plot could have easily been an old Corman B-movie. The SFX department are on fire, with some of the greatest physical, in-camera effects that no amount of CGI could begin to replicate – the fingernails, puss, blood, guts, limbs, and transformations are all so visceral that it makes you feel sick in the pits of your stomach. There’s some other neat technical tricks such as the ‘how did they do that’ camera trickery for wall-crawling antics. Last, but not least, the small cast are all great, particularly Goldblum, who delivers a riotous performance as an increasingly peculiar and demented Brundlefly – but remains believable throughout. Top top it off, the telepods are a great feature for both extremes (fusion/blood/guts) and dramatics (noise, smoke, strobe), and there’s some classic ’80s programming’ going on. A bit of patience is required as the film takes its time to build toward a conclusion that – even after knowing the story – exceeds anything you could imagine. The Fly is one of those films where everything’s just right, and is easily still on of the best horror sci-fi movies around.
Seth Brundle’s nerdy clothes reminded me of someone… MR BEAN!!! (at least when it wasn’t one of the 200 shirtless scenes)
Sunshine Cleaning: to ensure her son can get a good schooling, a struggling mum enters the lucrative, but stomach-turning, crime-scene cleanup business. The best part of this is that it’s fairly funny and upbeat considering the grim subject matter; the characters aid this most, other than the most annoying kid in history – If that was my spawn I’d have beaten him into shape by that age. Emily blunt looks great as an angsty goth, nails the accent and steals the show for me. Amy Adams was solid too – but was clearly during her ‘must have a scene in my underwear’ phase. Chloe form 24 once again plays her bread and butter TOTAL WEIRDO role – needs to diversify! The direction and story are both simple and effective, although it goes a little off-chorus in the final third, but enough groundwork was put in at the start to give this a nice indie sleeper-hit feel to it. Sunshine Cleaning cleverly walks the line between funny and serious, and successfully avoids become farcical or gloomy.
Breaking Bad (Season 2): picks up immediately where Season 1 finished, as the two rookie criminals slowly harden and come to terms with murky business that they are now a part of. With almost double the episodes, and the character groundwork laid in S1, there’s much more scope for the story strands to finally go somewhere. You get the feeling that the show is finally changing up the gears in the drama department. The biggest change is that we now see a lot the effects that the duo’s meth is having, in particular the social slant is much rougher than S1, with a proper – no-holds barred – look at the users, their families, and the more ruthless cartels. Both leads remain fantastic while their limits and attitudes constantly evolve, and it’s weird that no matter how horrific or low the things they do are, you’re still behind them all the way. Saul; a fascinating, funny, crooked lawyer, is a solid addition, and good comic relief in parts. Stylistically, it’s still very much unique, retaining it’s punky visual edge and stylistic colouring – which can, and does, liven up the slower sections of storytelling. So the stakes are higher, the operation’s bigger, the rivals are tougher, police more involved, personal lives more strained – what’s not to like about Season 2!? One of the few shows on the telly that manages to strike a great balance between entertainment, drama and comedy.
Piranha 3DD: a year after the Lake Victoria spring break disaster the vicious prehistoric piranha threaten a newly opened water park. It feels more like a glamour model show reel as every five minutes – like clockwork – there’s an exposed, tight, perky body. Almost every girl is also a D+ cup, however the slow-mo running – read as bouncing boobs – couldn’t be more sleazy & leery, or less sexy – same goes for the waves of gratuitous, unnecessary nudity, used as a weak attempt to make you forget how bad the film is. The actual ‘actors’ here are all small-timers (see graph below for acting analysis), and the ‘famous people’ / quick-buck-cameos are beyond cringe-worthy – Hoff’s agent did him a solid: singing, quips, but too much time on-screen. There’s about 10,000 lame puns/innuendo based around the word ‘wetness’. The SFX is worse than before, and the bloodbath finale has absolutely no payoff – it’s just a series of vaguely connected CGI moments. Most annoyingly, for a 70 minute movie there’s around ten minutes of filler/establishing/scenery shots. Whereas Piranha 3D was kitsch and camp enough to counteract some of the shortcomings, this one is just terrible. Really, really terrible. I pity everyone involved because the only semi-smart and semi-funny part of Piranha 3DD is the title.