Monthly Archives: January 2014

Race to Witch Mountain

There are no witches in this film. This means in comparison to Harry Potter it is crap. There are aliens in it. But they look like normal kids mostly, and one bad one looks like predator, which is cool. This does mean though that in comparison to both any movie with aliens in, and predator, its crap. It has the Rock in it. Who now we have to refer to by his real name because he is a real actor and all that, but his name escapes me, so he shall remain the rock. At no point does he ask if anyone can smell what he is cooking, or say ‘It doesnt matter what your opinion is!”, even though it would have worked quite nicely at a couple of points. This is a disney movie, they dont go in for post modern shit like that. Unfortunately this means its crap. Its entertaining enough though, it bubbles along nicely, and if you can deal with the conceit of the two alien kids having super powers, but for some reason requiring the rock to drive them around in his crap taxi its not even that stupid. The best part is that it has a dog called junkyard, which I would totally call my dog except it would mean I’d have to tell people it was named after a dog in a disney movie. Compared with say, Lassie, Junkyard is a really cool name though. There you have it, a film which is crap in almost every respect aside from it having a dog called junkyard in it. 


Frankensteins Army

With a name like that you’d think the point of the film would be to scare you, but you’ll be having way too much fun to be scared. By way of a plot that is frankly too thin on the ground to even bother explaining some guys end up in the underground bunker of the eponymous Frankenstein. This being World War II what else would he be up to other than grafting anything and everything together to make sort of zombie robots in the name of fascism. Well I say in the name of fascism, nazi soldiers end up in his gruesome melting pot as well. The science is as ridiculous as the premise, but we cant start questioning a found footage film which is ostensibly (though clearly not) filmed on a 16mm camera in this way. No one stops to take a light reading off a monster. Aside from one creepy scene, which could have been way creepier the scare factor is down at sub zero once you realise that the monsters Frankenstein is working on are a cumbersome pot luck of random mechanical parts, weapons and blood stained body parts – but no matter, they look bloody amazing and its brilliant fun watching them all wandering around. The third act is where it really gets creative though. This is more like Dr Frankenstein as you know him, he is crazy, but his intentions are perhaps noble after all? You’ll have to watch to find out.


The Horrors of Spider Island

It was the title that got me, it sounds brilliant. So imagine my confusion when I pressed play and saw “Its Hot In Paradise” on the title card. Its hot in paradise is a crap name that sounds more like a dodgy romance novel. Apparently this film has been released under about a zillion titles and with all different edits. The original was rather more sexy than the one I saw, but I couldnt track it down and had no desire to trawl vintage porn sites for it. So its sort of sexploitation horror… thing. The whole ‘what is it’ question is really impossible to answer because I am not sure even the people making it knew, it is far better just to take it all as a ‘this is some stuff that happens, its interesting right?’ approach. To boil the story down into two sentences is actually quite a struggle. This is because you have to really try to wring out the first sentence, then then second one is even more difficult. None the less: A dance troupes plane crashes and they end up on an island with radioactive spiders, one of which bites their leader. Two other guys turn up, shinnanigans ensue, mysteriously transformed former leader gets chased into the sea. Really the whole, frankly, horrific spider aspect of the thing is overshadowed quite heavily by the excessively long second act that sees almost the entire dance troupe getting it on with one man, whilst another picks just one of the dancers to fall in love with. This whole part makes even less sense than the fight the two men engage in for no real reason. Which ends with them both laughing, for no real reason. Its the randomness of it all that makes it entertaining. This has the classic storyline that if you are morally suspect in the sexy times department then you’ll probably get bitten by a radioactive spider and turn into a monster, or alternatively you might get strangled by a spider/man/monster thing. Either way you are fucked, because you fucked. Whats crazy is that there are about twelve women running around and only a couple of them get murdered, it almost seems like they were put there for some other reason I cant fathom. The costume budget must have been woeful as well, they are barely wearing any clothes most of the time. I mean maybe the whole thing is allegorical of the cold war or something, they do a spot of chatting about uranium, but really I cannot believe it is that deep. Watch this because it will make you laugh and you’ll be quoting it for weeks, not because it will scare you, turn you on or make you contemplate international relations.



So its a Russ Meyer flick. For the uninitiated that means all sorts of exploitation nonsense thats usually pretty good fun. You do have to reconcile the fact that they are sexist, violent shlock shockers, heavy on the silliness and short on plot with the fact that you cant help enjoying them a bit. These films did good business in the sixties, with endless drive ins and dive theatres to service, but since then have fallen into obscurity. Some, like Tarantino favorite ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’ have since found an small but loyal audience willing to embrace their obvious issues in the name of some good, unwholesome fun. Motorpyscho has not been quite so lucky, probably because you have to endure a not insignificant amount of ‘rape as a plot device’ before you get to the good fun stuff – and lets be clear, I am not really sure any amount of good fun stuff legitimises that. The film follows three guys as they terrorise a small desert community as they pass through on their way to Vegas, but ‘who needs slot machines’ when you can party like its 1965 in the houses of unsuspecting young women. The tiny radio they carry with them provides the soundtrack, and its brilliant, surf rock with intermissions of classic porno groove when ever a female enters the frame. The poster for the film would have you believe its the achronanistic offspring of the wild one and easy rider, but in reality they bomb around on what are basically crappy mopeds for about half the film, then ditch them in favour of a jeep – fittingly for a film that cost less to make than an episode of thomas the tank engine (Ringo’s voice over fee excluded) the first credit actually thanks the company which provided the vehicles – as if somehow you might be compelled to rock up to your friends party shouting ‘check it out, I got the jeep from Motorpsycho!” Far out man. Anyway the bad guys make the mistake of angering the wrong man, by, you know, raping his wife. The inept police take a distinctly medieval approach to solving the crime which entirely involves telling husband that it aint so bad really, she probably was asking for it. Enraged husband drives off into the sunset for revenge. I mean I am removing all the minutie here, and thats where the fun really is. The film ends with a showdown between the husband, who is a veterinarian, and the motorpsycho, who it turns out is a veteran, its vet vs vet situation. Its genuinely interesting in that its the first time a Vietnam War veteran shows up in American film – the first in a long line of tragically unhelpful depictions of the veteran as a complete nutcase. If you have a spare 70 mins check this film out, no one cares enough about it to enforce copyrights on it so you can watch it on the internet – its worth it for three reasons, first to marvel at how far we have come in the fifty or so years since its release, and the second is to get down to that soundtrack and wish your name was something cool like Dante or Slick. The third? The snake bite scene will blow your mind and crack you up at the same time, man.  


Insidious: Chapter 2

Another day, another crap horror sequel. Insidious two looks like a fifteen year old won the lottery and spent all the money making a film – they got a good production design team on board, and the dp is ok, but they insist on using their script – full of wonky dialogue, every ridiculous horror movie trope you can think of, and a pretty endless amount of bits that make no sense at all… oh some of those bits might be dreams though so you know, thats allowed. There are a couple of genuinely creepy ideas in here (in fact, a couple might be over stating it a little) but to put it bluntly – it blows its load way too early on then doesnt cash in on some of its really good scares. Unfortunately the ending along with inclusion of ‘Chapter’ in the title there implies that there is more to come in the Insidious franchise, which really, if its going to be more of the same I probably will steer clear of.


The Last Exorcism, Part II

Good old demonic possession. It is a classic theme which fits into the horror movie cycle somewhere between zombies and vampires. Audiences who have had their fill of those (slightly) more earthly terrors need usually only wait a couple of years before something comes along from the gates of hell. The issue is that whilst zombies have used their newfound space on television to explore more mundane questions of community and family, and vampires have ramped up the sex sells angle, the exorcism movie hasn’t innovated a great deal. This may be why the found footage faux documentary style of the first Last Exorcism movie, with its weird back woods incest subtexts and creepy ‘if this doesnt work I’ll just kill you’ approach, was such a success – it was at least something a little different. Even the formula exorcism movie, done well, can be creepy without any of this revisionist silliness, the orignal and best just had some crappy spinning head effects and some pea soup and people were literally crapping themselves over it, the use of the word literally there is perhaps debatable. The Last Exorcism, part II, which I am arguing should really have been named “The Last Last Exorcism”, paving the way for a never ending run of remakes and sequels with increasingly absurd numbers of lasts in their titles, was neither scary in any ‘traditional’ sense, nor did it bring anything new to the table in the same way that its predecessor did. It starts off promisingly enough, Nell, the slightly annoying sole survivor of the first film is introduced to such sensual pleasures as rock music (which all the teenagers were enjoying in 2013, this sounded particularly 80s influenced), boys and lipstick. Despite the questionable representation of ‘the youff’ and their interests there is something potentially interesting going on here as Nells slow re-integration into the world of normal teenage life is interrupted by strange ghostly appearances by her father – and stalwarts of lazy horror film making – Flies! Cant beat some flies to signal that something creepy is going down. The psycologically scary, and interesting potential for it all to be in the head of the leading character is played with for all of about fifteen seconds, rather than keep us guessing though the film throws some crows at some windows and ramps up the dark shadows and its downhill from here. You’ll think the ending is about as scary as casper the friendly ghost before you realise a seven year old has been let loose with a really not that great special effects package and the result has been tacked on – leaving ‘The Last Last Last Exorcism” the option of either going down the “it was all a dream” route, or doing away with small town peril angle and taking demon killing global. Reviews of crappy horror movies invariably end with a ‘ its not bad for a few cheap scares whilst you have a beer with some friends’ – but really I would just steer clear altogether.



To be blunter than this film really deserves, Sightseers is a black comedy which is crushingly low on the comedy side of things. One cannot condemn a film for not being funny, even if it was sold as a comedy – we are not slaves to genre, which is good because Sightseers does not lend itself to high concept style one sentence descriptions. None the less my attempt reads thusly: ‘A film wherein a couple explore the English countryside, their own neurosis and their burgeoning love, through the rubric of serial murder’. The film had the potential to be a number of quite exciting things – it begins as if it might actually have something to say about social mobility, and it did, even in this crippled state generate a thought provoking discussion about the motives and minds of its leading couple. However this early promise, a British Bonnie and Clyde, with all of the pent up sexual energy and psycological mystique that story evokes, is cast aside for a rather depressing and meaningless third act. Herein lies the issue. None of this would have mattered if it had ramped up the laughs, nobody would care it if was a good excuse to string together a set of serial killer jokes. The juxtaposition of the innocence and beauty of the British countryside with the violence of the muders was already surreal enough, a little more blood and it could easily have generated a nervous laugh. The other option would have been to take out the really forced laughs entirely and fully explore the issues it raises in the first half, rather than chickening out with an ending that could mean anything to anyone, and so ends up not meaning much at all. 


The Good, the Bad, the Weird

This ridiculously good film is mostly a homage to just about every western you have seen, but then imagine those westerns in a sort of dirty orgy with some Yakuza films, some martial arts films, some buddy pics … then you are sort of getting close. But is more than just a Tarantino-esque mash up of cultural references, not least because its Korean, and it doesnt give a shit that googling “Korean Westerns” doesnt bring up much more than… well… The Good, The Bad, The Weird. Ostensibly this is set in Manchira just before the second World War, but the excuse used to get three men racing across the country in persuit of one another, whilst various gangs and the Japanese army get stuck in as well is not really that important, what is important is that its insanely good fun. (Clearly) the film revolves around its three titular characters, their back stories begin to tie them togeher as their paths cross in persuit of a legendary treasure map. Much like the setting and the time frame though this is mostly just an excuse to get from one amazing (and outstandingly violent) action sequence to another. But to say the film was a collection of frenetic set peices alone would be to do it a disservice, its coy about its heart, but it has a big one and you cant help but love everyone in it just a little bit, even the bad guys have such a lot going on with them they could make a thousand prequels just explaining how everyone came to be just where they are. The fact that there is literally only one line for a woman in this film is a slightly worrying aspect. However I am overlooking it in the same way that I never discarded the films namesake “the good, the bad and the ugly” amid cries of sexism – that said a film that puts a 1940’s assasin in a suit thats sharper than a porcupies dick is probably not that concerned with temporal accuracy, nor can it be said to stay true to its inspiration. However this was largely due to it taking that inspiration and making it much cooler, really I couldnt help but love this film, I’ll forgive its wrongdoings because in the first ten mins a guy gets squewered with a spear. Its outstanding.

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Man of Steel

Historically, after spider man, who I actively dislike, Superman is one of the superheroes I get least excited about. I mean, I dont hate him, its just that the whole thing didnt make much sense to me logistically when I was a kid – are we supposed to believe that every single time he hears something bad going down he jumps into his suit and goes and sorts that shit? What if two bad things are going on at once? Like, a small child is about to be run over by a steam train, but in the very next town Lois Lane has gotten both legs stuck in one side of her panties and fallen over, whats a red blooded super man going to do? Then he is half way through the nasty with her and some other distressed citizen begins screaming for help? I suppose he is super, Lois isnt going to be so pleased though. We dont even need to enter into the debate about what sort of kryptonite condom he has to wear because he is always leaving half way through. One of the reasons this film did vaguely engage me was that it did away with a lot of those old questions – he only deals with the huge world threatening issues, he doesnt bone anyone, his suit isnt (as) stupid. There is a good imagining of the Superman origin story here which gives the character some depth I had never seen before. It depicts his powers as something of a curse, especially in his youth. All of this good work making things less confusing is undone though by extrapolating the ‘from outer space’ plot thread and making it is key part of the film, that and the way it is all stuck together is completely insane. So first, there is a major issue in that the relies heavily on people appearing who are dead – I may as well tell you, its Supermans Dad. His name is something silly. In much the same way as the “does superman stop fucking” question has annoyed me in the past I spent a good portion of this film wishing they would just explain how exactly this can happen – it would be like Harry Potter falling into the pensive without the scene where Dumbledore tells him what the hell happened to him. The confusion is made worse because half the film feels like it was put together as they were writing it, there are so many randomly timed flash backs that you cant help thinking someone turned up on set and said “we need to explain …, I think its best we go back to when Superman was … years old”. With all this flash back explaining how could they leave some of the far more critical questions unanswered? I am sure you have read that Superman destroys whole cities in this film as he fights the bad guys (whom were uninteresting enough that I cannot actually rememer what the deal was with them), but really, I can live with a Superman who destroys more than he saves so much better than I can live with a superman that poses so many unanswered questions about his undead father. The absolute worst thing about all this is that the undead father ghost mirage character is most definitely there to explain what on earth is going on.


Pacific Rim

‘Monsters! Robots! Other Stuff!’ ‘So what actually happens in Pacific Rim?’ ‘Monsters! Yeah! Robots! Awesome! ….erm….mumbles…some sort of…nations coming together…story…overcoming all odds…pretty lady….erm….mumbles….but…MONSTERS! and, and! they fight, get this…ROBOTS!’ – Here you have it, an actual transcription of the pitch for this film, right from the mouth of the seven year old that came up with the idea and told it to some eager Warner Brothers exec. The same seven year old was consulted for the marketing too, he was pretty excited about the monsters and the robots so he put them all over the place and didn’t really bother with anything else. No one knows who this seven year old is, or why Guillermo del Toro replaced him as director of the film, but rumour has it the child wandered off set making transformer noises when he saw a fire truck. Warner were not especially impressed with his plan to make “the robots bigger than the sky” and the monsters “look like their eyes are made of pizza and have burning willies” either. Del Toro (are you supposed to put the del there, or should he just be referred to as Toro?), taking the reigns from the unknown seven year old was supposed to instil some normality to proceedings, however his idea of having the robots controlled by some mind meld thing – as an excuse to get two people into the giant robots – was met with derision by studio execs who complained “why cant they just have a pilot and wing man, like top gun?”. Toro countered that his hastily written love story aspect of the film would not function without an “orgasmic mind meld – mid battle” as the final scene – an idea originally thrown out because the seven year old said it was “too yucky” and “what is an organasm?”. So that idea stayed in. They also threw in a load of robot racial stereotypes, the Asian guys, for some reason there are three of them (a subtle dig at Chinas one child policy maybe? Except the guys who played them are Canadian…with Vietnamese heritage) have Kanji like symbols all over their robot. The Russians have the the biggest strongest robot, its a little slow though. The Americans have the best robot, thats not because it is technically better, it just has Americans in it, so it can beat the monsters better. We are unsure as to who is responsible for these parts, logic would dictate that the seven year old, not knowing any better came up with all this crap, but sources have confirmed that he did respond with “what? I dont care…why cant the robots just be robots?” when the idea was put forward. In conclusion, the parts of this film that a seven year old came up with are bloody awesome, who wouldnt want to see huge ass robots beating the crap out of huge ass monsters? The rest however, the stuff the grown ups made up, thats all crap.