Friday, 19 June 2009

The Wizard of Gore

Title: The Wizard of Gore
Director: Jeremy Kasten
Released: 2007
Staring: Kip Pardue, Bijou Phillips, Crispin Glover, Jeffrey Combs, Brad Dourif, Joshua John Miller

Rating: 3 / 5
Plot: Edmund Bigelow (Pardue) is a reporter for his own underground newspaper, obsessed with the obscure and bizarre nightlife of the Post Punk LA he lives in. After watching one of the elaborate magic shows, put on by Montag The Magnificent (Glover) in which he seemingly kills members of the audience in various gory ways, only for them to appear unharmed at the end of the trick. However when these volunteers, start turning up dead with the causes of death similar to how they appeared to die on stage, Edmund decides to conduct his own investigation.

Review: Ok so with my last review I looked at the Ozploitation thriller “Long Weekend” (1978) a film that I personally felt was, slightly more than a challenge to review in my usual critical ways. So I was kind of hoping for something perhaps a little more straightforward with this review, after all how complex could a horror remake, that seems to be relying on the “The Suicide Girls” as one of its selling points really be?
Well guess what kids, it seems that, this very film would be just as difficult as the last to review (oh joy) and I have to give major credit to IMDB user “the-drummer” for his great notes on this film, which went along way to explaining what the hell I just watched. I should also state at this point that I am looking at this film, purely on it’s own merits, rather than drawing comparisons to the 1970 Herschell Gordon Lewis original, which I know so many of you hold dear to your hearts and are no doubt at this moment up in arms about someone daring to remake one of his films, but seeing how I last watched the original, a couple of years back and not being able to find a copy in time for this review, I have for this reason decided to just look at this film on it’s own.
So try here we go again as I attempt now to make give you my thoughts on this weird little film.

Opening with a blood drenched Edmund, as he staggers towards a strip club, clutching the latest issue of his newspaper, as Edmund’s Noir Esq. voice over gives us a quick background on his character, it’s safe to say this film hits the ground running, throwing us head first into this decaying Post Punk version of LA, which Director Kasten has chosen as the setting for his retelling of the Splatter classic. Still for some reason it would seem that Kasten wasn’t sure how he could tell a Noir style psychothriller, within this world he has created for himself, which might go along way to explaining why both Edmund and his girlfriend Maggie, are dressed like they are from the 1940’s with their tastes also stretching to their home life aswell, with Edmund’s apartment being decorated with various old fashioned items, while meanwhile the majority of the inhabitants of this world he has created are dressed more Punk or with the intention of causing offence, such as Hans (Bob Rusch) who appears during the first of Montag’s performances in a Nazi uniform, while during the opening party scenes we also get a quick shot of “Blood Wrestling”, which was ironically only added after several of the Suicide girls who had turned up to be party extra’s bugged Kasten, to have them killed in the film and as a compromise he instead created this scene, which actually works well in developing Edmund’s character, as he just smiles upon seeing this scene of naked women wrestling in blood, clearly having become immune at this point, from being shocked by this underground world, he has become fascinated with, while at the same time preferring it seems to remain an observer, rather than joining in and it’s Montag’s performance’s which actually manage to shock him, despite initially dismissing the act.

Montag’s performances are all equally bloody and gooey, as the (unwitting) volunteers appear to get killed in a number of horrible ways including being burned alive and death by bear traps. The volunteers played here by Suicide girls Flux Suicide, Cricket Suicide, Nixon Suicide and Amina Munster (who makes the most of having no leg in real life, by having it torn off in the film) are all very convincing as actors for the small amount of screen time which they have, especially Flux who actually has one of the more important scenes of the film, but never once do you get the feeling that, they have been used just because of their “Suicide Girl” links, which is after all one of the selling points of the DVD for weak minded men / women folk like myself, drawn in by the “Featuring the suicide girls” tagline on the DVD cover, along with the horror heavyweights such as Crispin Glover, Jeffrey Combs, Brad Dourif all of which are great in their respective rolls, with Glover almost hypnotic with his showmanship as the Magician Montag, as he prances around the stage while constantly addressing his audience with his random rants about the embodiment of self. Meanwhile Jeffery Combs is almost unrecognisable, until the end of the film as “The Geek”, spending the film dressed like a crazy homeless person, as he provides the warm up act for the show, biting the heads of rats and performing other equally disgusting acts, much to the intended repulsion of the gathered crowd. Brad Dourif is basically back in his usual crazy role as Doctor Chong, which he has really etched a groove, with his previous films, when he not providing the voice of the Psycho doll “Chucky” in the “Childs Play” films. Meanwhile the rest of the cast do a great job with Kip Pardue more than capable of playing the lead, keeping the audience intrigued, while never giving the final twist away, as he forces the audience to see only what Edmund see’s, uncovering the puzzle one piece at a time as he slowly puts it all together. I also should mention that this is probely one of the few films, were I havn’t been truly irritated by Bijou Phillips, who usually I find either too sleazy or just too annoying, but here I felt none of that and was totally sold on the apparent innocence of her character Maggie, who is clearly not as comfortable in this alternative world as Edmund seems to be, constantly sticking close to him when confronted with anything that invades her little world of innocence that she has created for herself, while often proving to be truely shocked at just how deep into this world Edmund has immersed himself.

The problem I have with this film though, is mainly with how it is many ways attempting to fight well above it’s weight, with the story often getting confusing with the numerous layers, which Director Kasten has chosen to add to his vision, meaning that we are often bogged down in confusing visuals, making it hard to distinguish between the dream world and reality, which is clearly his intention, with it being representive of the mental state of Edmund though perhaps in the hands of another director, more familiar with this dream like style of film making, as sadly it detracts from what is generally a very watchable film, despite Kasten not showing a Tarantino fanboy like love for the original, which makes it all the more intriguing why he would choose to remake the original to begin with. Still despite this I would certainly be interested in seeing more of his films, as the experience of watching “Wizard of Gore” certainly didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth, unlike so many remakes that are churned out these days, it’s just more of a confused feeling that I now have to contend with.

“Wizard of Gore” might get the backs up of the Herschell Gordon Lewis fanbase and will no doubt be stumbled upon by fans drawn in more by the names featured on the cover, but it is certainly a film that deserves a watch (or two) as it is a film that has managed to atleast escape the taboo of being a remake, to the point were it is a note worthy film on its on merits, even if it’s minus points will no doubt lose it more fans than it gain.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Random Film Moments #3 - Jaws The Revenge

Often regarded as the weakest entry of the franchise, especially seeing how by this point they'd given up on trying to disguse how fake the shark was, with one notable scene clearly showing the pole, which is moving the shark!
Still for some reason it has not only one but three intresting choices for ending, two of which I knew about for ages and the third I only recently discovered, but they probely do rank as some of the most original and yet extremily random ways of dispatching of a giant beastie ever. So first up is the ending I originally remembered, the first time I saw it.

What is funnier about this ending is that this was actually how you killed "Jaws" in the original NES game, which like any game associated with the film is pretty much awful though not as bad as this film.
Ok on to ending two which you can watch by clicking on the link, but seriously the shark explodes, like a balloon after being rammed with the front of the boat, which from what I can gather was the original US Theatrical ending. Still I suppose this is better than a version that I caught on TV last year, which just used the ending from the first film, so that Mike presses the button on the box and the shark explodes, only using the explosion from Jaws. Sadly I havn't been able to find this, to share with you all, so here instead is the trailer for "Up from the depths" (1979) which is yet another giant sea creature movie, but you know I'm just a sucker for these movies. Now if I could just find a version without so jackass Trader boosting the price of thier copy!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Ozploitation Month: Long Weekend

Title: Long Weekend
Director: Colin Eggleston
Released: 1978
Staring: John Hargreaves, Briony Behets, Mike McEwen, Roy Day, Michael Aitkens

Rating: 3/ 5
Plot: Peter (Hargreaves) and Marcia (Behets) decide to go camping for the weekend, at a remote beach in an attempt to save their marriage, only to find that nature isn’t in an accommodating mood

Review: Long weekend is a strange movie, not only because of it’s plot content, but mainly because even after the title credits have rolled your still not quite sure, what you have just watched, an experience that I havn't really found outside of the films of David Lynch and Shinya Tsukamoto with Gregg Araki’s “Nowhere” (1997) being the only film watching experience, that I can compare to that of watching Long Weekend, which really doesn’t help, as I sit here trying to provide you all with some form of critic on this film….oh well here goes.
As I said Long Weekend is certainly a strange movie, if not one of the few movies that falls into the genre of “Humans invading the animal sphere” (to quote Jenn, whose blog “Cavalcade of Perversions” is always worth a look) which again is unusual as it see’s us humans as the aggressors rather than a member of the animal kingdom doing the terrorising, which honestly was kind of a new one for me and not something I’d seen before and here it is used to great effect without spilling over into the usual camp horror which the creature feature genre usually comes with, as Peter and Marcia come under attack from pretty much anything that mother nature can muster to throw at them.
The relationship between Peter and Marcia is an interesting one to watch, especially seeing how they pretty much despise each other as they, bitch and moan at each other over the course of what will be a very long weekend. One of the first warning signs of their relationship, is when we see Peter sighting the scope on his rifle while using Marcia as the intended target, which is even before the first argument has even started and kind of says all sorts of things about their relationship, whose dark secrets are slowly revealed throughout the course of the film, as we start to understand why they are the way they are to each other, which might fill you with some sort of sympathy, but lets not forget this film is part of the Ozploitation genre, which means that nothing is ever straightforward, for it seems that not content with bitching at each other, these two are also a real danger to the environment around them, as Peter runs over a kangaroo and refuses to stop aswell as spending pretty much all of his time failing to cut down the surrounding forest and shooting his rifle at the local wildlife, as he plays at being a wilderness expert / cowboy, having spent their holiday budget on all this expensive camping equipment, he constantly reassures himself that he knows what he is doing like some kind of wilderness expert, while meanwhile Marcia shows an equal dislike for anything resembling nature, that interferes with her personal comfort zone, using this as further ammunition against Peter, as she refuses his sexual advances and constantly states how they could have spent the money on a nice hotel, rather than being forced to rough it like this, which doesn’t just make them unlikeable to the audience, but hoping that they are going to get slaughtered.

Meanwhile while we are watching this couple on their rampage through nature, nature is slowly beginning to muster it's forces and strike back, with these first strikes coming subtly at first, with Ants invading their camp site and the couple hearing strange noises coming from the woods, but as the film progresses, these attacks become more aggressive and obvious, while at the same time both Peter and Marcia’s sanity is being stretched more and more thin, making them unsure whether it is nature that is striking back or whether it is all in their minds and it’s these mind games that Director Eggleston enjoys playing mindgames throughout, from the camerawork, which often lurks amongst the bushes, watches on like a lurker and taking the time to film the picturesque settings, someone gaining tension from even the simplest of locations throughout and even giving nature a voice in several scenes, including having the ants screaming in pain when Marcia pours insecticide on them, as well as having a supposedly dead manatee, which Peter shoots earlier in the film, after Marcia mistakes it for a shark, slowly crawling up the beach despite being buried (if admittedly quite half assed) by Peter when it’s body washes up on the beach, with these mind games only intensifying as the film reaches it’s shocking climax, while still maintaining the aura of mystery as to what is really happening and never once feeling the need to explain what is happening, preferring instead to leave it up to the audience to figure things out for themselves.

Long Weekend is certainly a film stripped down to the bare necessities, with no special effects, a minimally intrusive soundtrack and never once going to cheap scares to keep it’s audience, it truly is a film driven by its two leads, as unlikable as they are, we are still tied to them through this whole experience and it’s with a mere curiosity to what will happen to them, or finding out the next dark secret, which they are desperately trying to hide, that keeps you drawn into the story. Ironically these same things are also which make the film less easy to get into for horror fans, which prefer something more visual and it’s these fans which are going to find this film hard to stick with, but for those of us who like a little mystery with their films, then they will no doubt find something to enjoy here.

For a film which is generally not so well known, it has lead to a shot for shot remake, bringing back memories of Gus Van Sant’s 1998 remake of “Psycho”, though at present it seems to be also below the radar at present, being found purely on the festival circuit as it struggles to find some for of mainstream release. In the meantime this original version is at the least worth the price of a rental, even if it won’t be for everyone, it is still a highly original film of what I’m sure is a very lonely genre.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Currently In The Reading Pile

Well as I type this I am on the final few pages of the rather unique adaptation of Jane Austen's "Pride & Prejudice", with this latest adaptation being particularly special, due to the addition of flesh eating zombies, while going by the highly imaginative title of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", which has since it's released received a huge amount of publicity in various Horror blogs unsurprisingly, though I was personally keen to see if it was more than a one joke book, which thankfully it was, not only adding scenes of zombies, but working them into the story, so that the new material almost blends almost seamlessly with the original source material, while helping to emphasise the already present humour of Austin's writing.
This alternate world that Seth Grahame-Smith has created now not only add's the obvious zombie element, but also Ninja elements aswell with the Bennet sisters now all trained in the "Deadly Arts" making them a fearsome zombie fighting army, much like Mr Darcy who has been turned into a well known slayer of "The Unmentionables" who roam the country, constantly craving the taste of human flesh.
Honestly though I did struggle to get through this book, despite the fact that I was really looking forward to read it, with the old style language taking some getting used to, especially when the majority of my usual reading tends to sway more towards modern fiction than classic, so it did take some time to tune my head into the language (not helped by screaming children on the work commute), which I would say is more a caution to any of my fellow readers, who like myself don't frequently dip into the works of Austen, though if your already a fan of her work and a Zombie fan, then you will no doubt also enjoy this new take on the material.

Still today I did start "Pygmy", the latest novel by Chuck Palahniuk, who I am a huge fan of and who is probably best known for writing "Fight Club" and I always look forward to the release of one his new books with much excitement, with this latest release being no different, seeing how I used (or should that be abused) my supervisor powers to get the Stock room staff, to go through several boxes just to find my copy, as he is still one of the few authors that I will pay hardback prices for, rather than waiting for the paperback version to come out.
This latest novels, plot revolves around a 13-year-old exchange student, one of a dozen "shipped to America", to live with American families, who is actually a terrorist along with his fellow exchange students, who plan to execute a plan which is set to kill millions.
Having so far only had chance to read the first chapter, it is already clear that this work is more in tune with the classic Palahniuk books such as "Choke" & "Invisible Monsters" as he turns his slightly warped world view to another aspect of society and continuing his return to more familiar territory, which he began the return to with his last novel "Snuff" after his brief diversion from this well trodden ground with his horror trilogy (Lullaby, Diary & Haunted) and the loosely sci-fi esq "Rant".
So far my only real grumble is with the language that he has chosen to use for his main character, which feels almost like your reading broken english, which is clearly the voice that Palahniuk has in mind for this latest creation and reminded me of the early novels of "Irvine Welsh" such as "Trainspotting" & "Glue" where the characters were wrote how they talked, which like the dialouge of Agent Number 67, takes awhile for your brain to adjust to and something which might put newcomers off, making it probably not the best book to start with, but thankfully Palahniuk is an author with an fantastic back catalogue, providing plenty of starting points for these readers, keen to find out what the fuss is about.
My only other nagging issue though outside of the language is how similar the plot seems to be to the Simpsons episode "The Crepes of Wrath" which featured an exchange student, who was actually an Albanian Spy. Still no doubt like nearly any topic, that he chooses to cover in his books, Chuck will have found a way to put his own spin on things, which currently seems to be with Agent Number 67, constantly thinking of ways he can kill people, using various kung fu moves.

Honestly though I am a self confested "Cultist" (The Cult being Chuck's offical fan club) and I've loved all his books, outside of "Diary" which I found to be a rare miss and was largely down to how iritating the husband character was, but I will try and post a proper review once I get through this latest novel, before begining the agonising wait for the next book again with "Tell All" currently set to be released in 2010, were Chuck is planning on reinventing Playwright "Lillian Hellman" which is rumoured to be just one of three novels, that he completed while caring for his sick mother, so it looks like there is still plenty left of this twisted (but highly enjoyable) world view to still come.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Ozploitation Month: The Man From Hong Kong

Title: The Man From Hong Kong
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith, Jimmy Wang Yu
Released: 1975
Staring: Jimmy Wang Yu, George Lazenby, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Roger Ward, Rosalind Speiers, Grant Page, Rebecca Gilling, Frank Thring, Sammo Hung

Rating: 4/ 5
Plot: When a Hong Kong drug courier (Hung) is arrested in by undercover Australian police, they call in Inspector Fang Sing Leng (Yu) only for him to discover a link between the Hong Kong and Australian drug trade, being orchestrated by Australian Gangster Jack Wilton (Lazenby).

Review: Someone once wrote that, if you put a dozen monkeys in a room with a dozen typewriters, that they will eventually write Shakespeare. Okay I'm not too sure were they got that idea from, but I suppose the same could be said for this film, seeing how it’s a combined effort of some of the film industries prime crazies with Brian Trenchard-Smith, Jimmy Wang Yu and Grant Page all working on film, it could easily have turned out horrible, which thankfully it didn’t, seeing how it’s the first Australian Kung Fu movie, it really is really quite watchable.
“The Man From Hong Kong” or “The Dragon Files” as it’s occasionally found as stateside is a strange film at best and not only due to the fact, that it is a Kung Fu movie set in Australia, but because it falls somewhere between being a “Dirty Harry” and “James Bond”, combining all the seduction, chases and explosions of the latter, while Inspector Leng’s style of detective work is more in tune with that of the former’s Inspector Harry Callahan, while also throwing in a heavy dollop of Kung Fu, though at the same time still providing an interesting enough storyline, which unlike numerous other films in the Kung Fu genre isn’t just filler between fight scenes.
The character of Detective Leng, I found myself frequently wanting to compare to that of Detective Azuma in “Violent Cop” (1989) who was played so memorably by Takeshi Kitano and whose character like Leng, shares the belief that the best method of integration is to basically, beat the hell out of the suspect, until you get the information you need, or shud you happen to kill them, that the contents of thier wallet will tell you everything you want to know, which is basically what he spends the majority of the time doing, with this unique (and apparantly legal ) style of detective work providing a great confrontation scene early on, when Leng interrogates the drug runner played by Sammo Hung, in a surprisingly small role especially seeing how like Jimmy Wang Yu, he’d already appeared in numerous martial arts films before making this one, but despite his appearance being so brief it is still nice to see an early performance, though he is certainly a lot thinner than he is in later films, which means that he’s not so instantly recognisable with out his trademark girth.

The fight sequences throughout are all full of bone crunching action, from the first fight sequence on Ayres Rock (Just one of several landmark, which make an apperence throughout) and Wilton’s dojo to the final showdown between Leng and main bad guy Jack Wilton, with none of these scenes having the feeling of reputition, as Sammo Hung and Hung Kan Po in his sole martial arts choreography credit, really set out to showcase the abilities of Jimmy Wang Yu, using both weapons and hand to hand combat and whose fighting style comes across as being extremely fluid, even when fighting against actors, dafted in to play various thugs, one of which being played by director Trenchard-Smith whose Thug character manages to receive a particularly brutal beating, which would later turn out, was him actually getting battered, seeing how Jimmy Wang Yu wasn’t throwing punches, instead actually connecting with all of his blows, which does add a certain element of realism to the film, with a similar style of screen fighting later being seen in “Eastern Condors” (1987) which also had actors connecting with their blows and kicks, though with this film, it was probably not so intended and more down to Jimmy Wang Yu, who by all accounts was not the easiest person to work with, being generally disliked by the crew and constantly battling Trenchard-Smith for directorial control of the film, who he felt was inexperienced, especially considering that this was only Trenchard-Smith’s second film. He also had a strong dislike of Western women, especially actresses which possibly isn’t the best thing, when he is playing a character which shares several characteristics with James Bond, especially when it comes to the ladies, who despite being devoid of any form of charisma, doesn’t seem to have much problem picking up the ladies. However with Wang Yu’s views on women, he would often pick flies from the air and eat them, during these romance scenes. Still despite the lack of charisma on Jimmy Wang Yu’s part, thankfully George Lanzenby manages to provide enough charisma to go around, having only signed on for the film after having been pretty much blacklisted at this point in his career, having failed to take over the Bond role from Sean Connery in the lacklustre “On Her Majesties Secret Service” making him personally my sixth favourite bond, though he more than redeems himself here as the Gangster Jack Wilton and had he been this good as Bond I would have probably liked him a lot more, as here he plays the character with an air of constant cool and calm, never allowing himself to be fazed by Inspector Leng’s investigation, while also processing equal martial arts skills as those used by Leng, which makes the final showdown, even more exciting to watch, even though it is kind of questionable that he only has one henchman to protect his penthouse hideout.
The Man From Hong Kong could easily, have just been a great Kung Fu movie, but seeing how this is an Aussie movie, it also means that we also get some great car smash action, which when you consider the legacy of great car smash movies, that the country has produced in the past, it is great that this film has several scenes which easily meet with those high standards one of which is at the start of the film, intercut with shots of the first of the big fight scenes, ending with the car rolling over and exploding and the door flying off in the direction of the camera and only just missing and with the other standout chase coming near the end of the film, as cars are drove off the road and through houses, all without the use of CGI, which only makes them all the more exciting to know that what your watching is actually happening, with credit especially going to Grant Page, who it could be said is just as insane as the directors, allowing himself to get kicked off motorcycles and generally get the living hell beaten out of him.
Still outside of the great fights and chase sequences, I am still left with a few grumbles with the main one being Detectives Gross and Taylor played here by Hugh Keays-Byrne & Roger Ward, who are humorous enough in the scenes which they appear, especially the Xenophobic Detective Taylor, but they are neglected to the background far too soon and go from working with Leng, to basically just trailing his path of destruction and occasionally producing a witty remark.

The Man From Hong Kong, could all to easily have been a movie that didn’t work, especially when you consider, just how insane the idea of an Aussie Kung Fu movie is, to begin with let alone the people who made it, but despite this it still makes for an enjoyable kung fu film, that fans of the genre and trash cinema will adore for all it’s randomness, as it flicks between genres letting the audience decide for themselves what sort of movie it is supposed to be, as I still don’t know whether it was going down the route of being a more brutal version of Jackie Chan’s “Police story” (1985) or if it’s trying to make Jimmy Wang Yu, the Asian James Bond? I’m still not quite sure, but I know that if anything it has the one of the most catchy theme songs ever with “Sky High” by Jigsaw, which like “The Bermuda Depths” (1978) achieved with “Jennie” by Claude Carmichael and giving me yet another song which will no doubt be stuck in my head for the next week or so.

Friday, 5 June 2009

The Final Destination Trailer Released

Ok so like most of the elitist horror fans out there, I have a tendencey to frown on most modern horror, pining for the days when everything wasn't CGI and effects were more hands on, with such cynical views coming mainly as the result of being forced to sit through far to many unwanted remakes of classic horror films and blood free (and usually scare free) slashers.
Still one franchise has continued to entertain me from it's first entry and that is "Final Destination" which see's it's forth installment released in August and having just watching this newest trailer I really can't wait!

One thing, which I'm especially relived to see is that David R. Ellis, is returning once again to the directors chair, especially seeing how he did such a great job with "Final Destination 2" while also directing one of my (numerous) guilty pleasures "Snakes on a plane".
True it is slightly disapointing that Glen Morgan and James Wong, have choosen not to continue the series, but by the looks of the trailer it seems that there are a whole new set of inventive death scenes to enjoy, so here's just hoping that the censors don't start demanding cuts in these scenes, which honestly like the traps in the "Saw" series have been one of the main selling points of what so far has been a great series, even if in the past they have been accused of being predictable, when it comes to the death scenes, but I'll trade predicatability anytime, especially if I'm going to get a decent payoff, which so far this series has yet to fail me on.
My only slight grumble I guess is the use of 3D, which is currently once again, the film gimmick of the moment and hopfully won't mean just an excuse to throw stuff at the screen, especially as I will no doubt be having to watch it in 2D, as my local cinema's arn't overly big on getting behind such trends.

So all I ask now is that Ellis not screw up a franchise and just keep the same formula, which has made the first three films so special to me.

Gory deaths + Varied locations + Predictable yet Gooey endings = Good Times for all!

Simples eh?
Well lets atleast hope so!

Ozploitation Month: Rogue

Title: Rogue
Director: Greg Mclean
Released: 2007
Staring: Radha Mitchell, Michael Vartan, Sam Worthington, Caroline Brazier, Stephen Curry, Celia Ireland, John Jarratt

Rating: 4/ 5

Plot: Pete (Vartan) is an American travel writer who on his way back to the airport stops off in a small rural town for a river cruise (as you do), led by the local tour guide Kate (Mitchell). However while responding to a distress flare, their boat is rammed by something from below and tour is thrown into disarray as they become stranded on a tiny mud island. Now as night falls and the tide starts to rise, the group slowly realise they are being stalked by a huge saltwater crocodile, beginning a terrifying struggle for survival in one of the most remote places in the world.

Review: It’s pretty safe to say that Australia is home to more creatures that can kill / horribly maim you than any other place in the world, which makes it all the more surprising that it has in the past only produced a handful of movies, using any of these creatures with the main two that instantly spring to mind being “Razorback” (1984) and “Dark Age” (1987), which respectively featured a giant pig and a giant crocodile and yet for some reason we still don’t have the Australian version of “Jaws” (1975) even though Bollywood managed to churn out their own (if rather unique) version with “Aatank” (1996)

So it seems it was up to Greg Mclean to step up to the plate, who is probably best remembered for his feature length debut “Wolf Creek” (2005) which though a lot of people liked it, I personally didn’t (there I said it), finding that it took things to far in terms of the torture aspects, pushing the film past being suspenseful, to the point it was almost voyeuristic, in how much of an ordeal the lead characters could be put through, which ended up making it just another grizzly entry in the torture porn genre, still despite this it was still clear that Mclean was certainly a talent worth watching and it’s faith not misplaced, as “Rogue” clearly proves that he is not a one trick Pony.

“Rogue” is a beautifully shot film, not only with the main story focus, but also with it’s National Geographic style views of the surrounding wilderness, as Mclean takes the time, to allow the audience to become enveloped in the outback setting once again, in much the same way that he did with “Wolf Creek” while replacing the desert landscape of the outback, to the lush jungle like surroundings of Australia’s Northern territories, in many ways making us feel like we are on the same tour boat, as the characters and experiencing the things which they are, as he cuts back and forth to the characters on the tour boat, as he slowly introduces them all and taking the time with each character, to establish them properly, while at the same time certainly being in no hurry to unleash his killer croc, which doesn’t even make an appearance till the 30 minute mark and even then, Mclean chooses to allow us only view the creature in brief glimpses, in much the same way as Spielberg did with “Jaws” which is a clear inspiration, for this film and which could be argued that, these teasing glimpses was more a result of having a distinctly plastic looking shark, where as Mclean’s killer croc, is certainly more impressively lifelike, as the animatronics effects are seamlessly combined with CGI, which is none more clear than during the final cave showdown, when we finally get to see the creature in it’s full glory.

Unlike most films of the same genre due to Mclean taking the time, to introduce his characters, it makes them more than just disposable croc chowder and also when combined with the high quality cast he has assembled, which also see’s the return of Mclean regular John Jarratt, after his memorable performance as Mick Taylor in “Wolf Creek” it’s not surprising to see him once again and again, he is on form as widower “Russell” even if it is a more toned down performance. The lack of bit players in the cast, also means that your never quite sure, which of them is going to be meeting their maker next, which only helps to further the tension, which is slowly cranked up, as the situation for the group only continues to grow more dire.
John Jarratt is not the only returning Mclean regular, as Frank Tetaz again returns to provide the score, fusing aboriginal chants with a more traditional classical score, to superb effect as it moves from mysterious to dramatic and suspenseful, as the situation for the characters change, while remaining firmly in the background and never once threatening to overpower the film to create a false sense of mood, which numerous lesser creature features have relied on in the past, it is surprising that this crocodile, doesn’t come with his own signature theme, which when combined with the lack of the usual Creature POV shot, means that an attack can happen at any time, without the audience being able to see it coming a mile off, though no doubt the horror veterans will have little difficulty predicting when these are going to happen anyway.
Seeing how crocodile attacks are usually messy and violent, the gore is surprisingly light, with the few heavier moments of gore, only being used to emphasis the injuries being suffered, still despite this the attack scenes are none the less enjoyable. I have to admit though, that I found this especially surprising, seeing how “Wolf Creek” contained numerous shocking moments of gore and violence, with the memorable “Head on a stick” being one especially, but with “Rogue” he has surprisingly chosen to hold back, aiming for realism rather than gory shocks.

We might still be waiting for the Aussie version of “Jaws”, which I’m sure is just a film lurking in development hell, but at least with Rouge, we have almost the next best thing till that movie shows up, no doubt in some car wash DVD dump bin, but for all the “Jaws” comparisons that Rogue draws it is still a great creature feature and it’s just a shame that thanks to crappy distribution, which meant that the UK it never got a release even on DVD let alone in cinema, which was slightly surprising when you consider how well “Wolf Creek” was received, still I can only hope that like Kevin Smiths “Mallrats” (1995) which did equally poorly in theatre’s and like that film, that this film will finally find it’s audience on DVD.

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