Monday, 31 August 2009

Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters

Ok so it seems that enough of you, thought that the idea of "Pride and Prejudice" with added zombies, was a good enough reason to hand over you hard earned cash, I know I was certainly one of those folks who thought it sounded like a fun idea and to an extent it was, but sadly if you remember my review , you will know already that it was a joke that got stretched a little too thin, with most of the added material working well with Mr. Darcy being turned into a super slayer of the zombie hordes, as well as finally giving the reader a reason for the military being stationed so close by. Where it failed though I felt was mainly with the sisters being trained in Martial arts and the numerous references to training undertaken, with wise old masters which really didn't fit into the world being created, unlike the zombie hordes which surprisingly worked really well, but overall the experience left the reader, with the feeling of a joke being streched alittle too thin.

Hopefully Quirk Classics has taken on board these problems from their first title, with their latest and once again unique adaptation of another popular classic, which this time see's another Jane Austin novel receiving the Quirk treatment with "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters" again not the most witty or subtle of titles, but when you consider that your giving a popular classic a hefty shot of pop culture, does subtly really come into it?
Still to promote the release Quirk books have created this trailer, which is almost as cool as the one we saw for "Meg: Hell's Aquarium" but is still pretty amusing, once you get past the awful acting and the fact that her dress is already wet before entering the water, but anyways here it is for those of you interested in seeing it.

"Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters" is set to be in a similar vain to "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" by expanding the original text, this time with giant lobsters, rampaging octopi, two-headed sea serpents, and other biological monstrosities As the Dashwood sisters are evicted from their childhood home and sent to live on a mysterious island full of savage creatures and dark secrets. While sensible Elinor falls in love with Edward Ferrars, her romantic sister Marianne is courted by both the handsome Willoughby and the hideous man-monster Colonel Brandon. Can the Dashwood sisters triumph over meddlesome matriarchs and unscrupulous rogues to find true love? Or will they fall prey to the tentacles that are forever snapping at their heels?

I guess we will have see, when the book is release on September 15th wether Ben H. Winters has managed to pull off the joke, as he takes the reigns for this latest adaptation, but I know that I'm already making space for it in the reading pile.

Sadly the success of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" has lead to a number of different publishing companies all rushing out, their own twists on popular classics, in a bid to cash in on their latest publishing craze with "Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter" scheduled for an Autumn release, while more recently we have seen the release of "Mr Darcy, Vampyre" by Amanda Grange, which makes me fear that the market will soon become over satuated with lesser titles, much like what has happened for the Paranormal romance market, with it seems everyone currently obsessed with working darn vampires into thier stories.

I guess like everyone else we will just have to wait until September 15th to see if Quirk classic's can maintain it's dominance over the realm of the pop culture adaptation. Let battle comence!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Abe The Alien does Thriller

Ok in my last post I reported on the randomness which was Sci-fi day at Borders, in perticular mentioning a dance scene performed by Abe the Alien. So for anyone who was kinda curious to witness this, here it is for your viewing enjoyment.

What is especially great is the people in the background, who appear around the one minuite mark and don't appear to be overly fazed by the sight of a dancing alien, kind of like "Ohh it's just one of those crazy dancing aliens" which once again goes to prove that some people, just arn't impressed by anything.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Just Another Day At The Office

Saturday is Sci-Fi Day! Well this is true if I belive anything that the sandwich boards outside of work tell me, though for last Saturday atleast this was true, as for one day only Borders Southampton was invaded by a mixture of Time Lords, Aliens, Predators, Storm troopers and even a couple of Jawa's, thanks largely to the guys and gals from the "U.S.S Pendragon" who in thier ever continuing mission to raise money for the Princess Anne Baby Care Unit, with thier crew of like minded folks, who not only share a love for all things Fantasy and Sci-fi related, but also love to dress up as those same characters aswell, whenever they are given an opportunity. So last Saturday saw Pendragon teaming up with the branch of Borders I work at in Southampton, to raise even more money for this incredibly worth while cause, while also giving me an excuse to pose for this random photo.

This would be their third colaboration with the store, with the first being last year when we held a hugely successful "Dr. Who Day" and it was nice to see many of those same costumes and props once again reappearing at this event, after all who doesn't like to see a Dalek terrorising small children outside the store and with this success we quickly followed up with the "Beedle the Bard launch Party" and now Pendragon were once again back instore, only this time bigger than before, as this time they had called in some additional support including character actor Michael Henby, who not only is Southampton F.C's biggest fan, but also appeared in "Labyrinth" (1986) as one of the Goblin Corps aswell as an Ewok in "Return of the Jedi" (1983 and an uncredited role in "Willow" (1988) and he was more than happy to talk about these films, aswell as his stories of working with Warrick Davis.

We were also joined by fellow character actor Jerome Blake, who like Michael Henby is equally used to not being recognised on the street, seeing how when he appears in films, it is usually under several layers of make up, appearing as Mondoshawan (one of those giant golds things) in "The Fifth Element" (1997), which meant that of course I had to be a complete fanboy and ask what it was like to work with, one of my favourite directors Luc Besson, which he was more than happy to talk about, seeing how it was apparently almost as crazy to work on, as the film itself with Besson coming off as a real funny guy to work with, which is always nice to hear.
Jerome though will probably be best known amongst the slightly more geeky readers amongst you, for the various characters that he has played throughout Star Wars Episodes 1 and 3, especially episode one, were he played six different characters (feel free to put the answer in the comments if you can name them all). We also had a really random conversation about "Flesh Gordon" which I reviewed recently here on the blog, even though I can't actually remember how it came up.

Finally sticking with the Star Wars theme, we were also joined by John Chapman, who appeared in "Star Wars: A New Hope" as Red 12 and who has since gone on to write the children's book "Johnny Rocket".

Pendragon even managed to find a couple of predators as well as Abe the Alien, who has been used in the past for various pieces of promotional work, for "Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem". I don't know what it is but there is some sort of sadistic pleasure, from watching young children being scared out of thier little minds by these costumes, especially the Dalek which one young kid thought was chasing after him, when it started moving towards him, which reminded me just how powerful old school effects are and how kids today, never seem to experience those same sorts of feelings that I used to get as a kid when, you would watch films and see these kinds of effects, which have over the course of time been largely replaced by CGI, which sadly will never have the same kind of presence that these effects will always have.
Still before I go off on a rant about Old school effects VS. CGI I will wrap this up with some of the photos I took on the day, using the really shockingly bad camera which we have in the shop, so I apoligse in advance if any of these have come out a little blurry.
So until the next collaberation between the forces of Borders and Pendragon, I can only wish Pendragon, all the best with thier future fund raising events, as they continue tirelessly to raise much needed cash for Princess Anne's Baby Care unit.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Grapes of Death

Title: Grapes of Death
Director: Jean Rollin
Released: 1978

Staring: Marie-Georges Pascal, Felix Maten, Serge Marquand

Rating: 2 / 5

Plot: Elisabeth (Pascal) is on the train to see her boyfriend, when she is attacked by a man with a strange skin condition. Fleeing the train she finds herself stranded in a remote wine making village, where pesticides have caused the local villagers to go insane.

Review: So finally I’ve got round to watching a film by Jean Rollin, who is probably best known for his work in the horror genre, with this film being the first French gore film. He is also a director who has received numerous amounts of praise from both Jenn over at “The Cavalcade of Perversions” aswell as the “Vicar of VHS” which I saw as being more than enough to hunt out a bunch of his films, with the intention of making some sort of season out of it here on the blog, in much the same way as I did for Ozploitation Month. Sadly after sitting through this film I might be putting some space between this review and my next look at one of his films, as I found this film largely inaccessible, despite reading numerous comments from fan’s of his work who claim, that this is in-fact his most accessible film, which kind of doesn’t bode well for the other films of his I still have left to watch.

I should start really by clearing up the slightly misleading description which came, on the cover of my DVD version which describes this film as a “Erotic Zombie Classic” which are not really the words I would have used to describe it, seeing how the insane villagers are pretty much that insane with a slightly nasty looking skin infection and outside of the shambling horde they form, they share very little in common with what many would consider to be the traditional description of a zombie. As for erotic, outside of a few shots of naked women, there is nothing even remotely erotic to be found here.
“Grapes of Death” was a rare departure for Rollins, who is more usually associated with Vampire films and here appears to be throwing his hat in the ring, by giving his take on the Zombie genre, with the film baring a large amount of similarities especially in terms of atmosphere to George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead”, though were Romero used sporadic moments of explosive action, as he slowly cranks the tension, it is clear that Rollins intended to do the same here as well, though failing to achieve the same effect, as outside of a few moments such as Elizabeth’s meeting with the blind girl Lucy and their eventual discovery of the village, the majority of these moments fail to build any can of tension, for the viewer and only serve to increase the boredom of having to watch Elizabeth run around another set of empty fields.
The plot is pretty straightforward with Elizabeth running from scene to scene with only a seemly unaffected Bridget (Bridget Lahaie) appearing in the third act to break things up slightly, though no reason is ever given for how she has escaped being infected, nor why she is acting like some form of cultist?
Despite being largely devoid of gore, the few scenes which we do get are particularly graphic, including a beheading and a father attacking his infecting daughter with a pitchfork, but for those watching the film with any form of intrest, the majority of these effects come off more cheesy than scary, thanks mainly to poor execution. However the make up effects for the infected are particularly effective and on occasion, actually left me feeling kind of queasy, while wondering if these infected were any form of inspiration for the more OTT zombies seen in Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror” (2007)? While watching I also couldn’t help but think of “Resident Evil 4” especially in the terms of setting, as the isolated village is certainly a welcome change from the usual deserted city, which are all so familiar with the zombie genre and here it works well to provide some kind of tension, which is constantly being lost either through the painfully slow moving nature of the plot, or those bizarre occasional bursts of Synthesiser music, which pop up through out the film, only to end suddenly when a scene changes.

All in all this wasn’t a great first jaunt into the world of Jean Rollins and I hope that this is perhaps just not the film for me, much like Jean-Luc Godard’s “Weekend” (1967) which like a lot of Rollins work, has received a large amount of praise, the reasons for which I have never been able to decipher and it is really my hope that with further viewings that I might finally discover those reasons which have put him in such high regard.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Flesh Gordon

Title: Flesh Gordon
Director: Michael Benveniste & Howard Ziehm
Released: 1974
Staring: Jason Williams, Suzanne Fields, Joseph Hudgins, William Dennis Hunt,

Rating: 5 / 5
Plot: Emperor Wang (Hunt), the leader of the planet Porno has sent his mighty "Sex Ray" towards Earth, turning everyone into sex-mad fiends. Now only one man can save the Earth, football player Flesh Gordon (Williams). Along with his girlfriend Dale Ardent (Fields) and Professor Flexi-Jerkoff (Hudgins), they set off towards the source of the Sex Ray, unaware of the perils that face them!

Review: I don’t what it is, but there are some movies, which just put you in a good mood, while you’re watching them, making them that cinematic equivalent of a grilled cheese sandwich or that great song “Shiny Happy People” by REM (especially with Beavis and Butthead commentary) and this film is truly one of those kinds of movie, as when I sat down to watch it, I could honestly say that I wasn’t in the best of moods, seeing how I was having one of those real grey kind of days, but all that changed while watching this, as something within this movie, just turned that frown upside down.
“Flesh Gordon” much like “Fritz the cat” (1972) was when I was growing up one of those movies that some of the kids, with slightly more liberal parents than my own, would often brag about seeing, mainly because of it’s rude content, it was a film that for one reason or another I only recently got around to watching for the first time and now I only wished I’d hunted it out sooner, as it truly is a film which is like a head on collision between 1950’s B-movies, Monty Python style animation and the sexploitation genre, as cheesy special effects are combined with gratuitous nudity, with a healthy splattering of humour throughout to hold the whole thing together and for some strange reason it works.
If you haven’t guessed already this film is basically a sexed up version of the classic Serial “Flash Gordon” which first appeared back in the 1930’s and whose own camp movie adaptation wouldn’t appear till 1980, a whole six years after the appearance of this raunchy bastard child of a movie, which still managed to cram in a whole heap of nods to the original series, with a similarly rousing orchestra score, aswell including those memorable cliff-hanger endings which provides one of the more humorous moments of the film, as the film cuts suddenly to an intermission, before restarting with “Part 2”, while also taking time for a sly dig at Flash’s costume and it’s these homage’s to the source material which help the film, to be more than a sexed up cash in, which ironically is how the film started, with the original plan of making an X rated version of “Flash Gordon” getting lost during production, to the point were it became this version of the film, though you can still see many moments, which were no doubt part of this original plan for the film, seeing how the audience is shown the passengers on a plane, having a spontaneous orgy after being hit with a blast from the sex ray pretty much within the opening ten minuites. Nudity (both male and female) is shown throughout with such abandon, that I almost thought that I had stumbled across one of the “Gore-Gore Girl” porn spoofs, in the same vain of “Jurassic Hump” and “These Something a butt Mary”. These continous moments of nudity also forms the basis of a running joke, for the character of Dale Ardent who like her namesake from the original series “Dale Arden” spends most of the film getting easily captured, but also seems to have a habit of frequently losing her clothes, meaning that she spends most of the film running around topless….not that it is an overly bad thing really.
Williams plays Flesh well as he portrays him with all the charm of the original flash and had all the nudity and sex jokes been edited out of this film, it could be shown as a similar style film to those original serials (while also being about 15 minutes long) his performance while wholesome, is never to the point were he grates, even with his apparent innocent image he portrays, when he's not off being seduced by strange space women, despite claiming to be madly in love with Dale, but such questions are really quite minor. However amongst the cast the performance which really stands out, is that of Hunt as Emperor Wang who is played almost like a sex crazed version of Fu Manchu, with him holding constant orgies in front of his throne, as well as celebrating the apparent demise of Flesh, with a spontaneous naked conga line (not something you see everyday), with Hunt, becoming all the more camp as the film goes on, to the point were I was almost drawing comparisons to Cesar Romero’s Joker in “Batman” (1966) as he frequently insults his overly stupid henchmen, by referring to them as dildo’s. It’s his performance that really helps put Emperor Wang into my top 10 cinema villains, even as random as he is.

For a film that is basically one joke, it never seems to get stretched to thin as you grow strangely accustomed to this bizarre and sexed up world, to the point, were you don’t even question the phallus shaped spaceship that Flesh travels around in, or the face that you get to see a one eyed monsters called “Penisaurus”, even if some of the jokes seem kind of obvious such as the planet being called porno, or the idea of “Emperor Wang” it all seems to fit quite naturally together, as it becomes an extremely random b-movie, something that is helped especially with the effects, which for those of you, who are fans of those classic movies from the 1950’s especially those directed by the likes of “Ed Wood” you will certainly get a kick out of the effects on show here, with many being similar to those used in the original serials, as spaceships are moved on strings, along with extensive use of miniatures as well as Stop motion animation, which in itself is truly a forgotten art and it was nice to see the majority of the film’s strange creatures being animated this way, rather than using a guy in a monster costume. While watching these effects, I couldn’t help but wonder how much of this was homage, rather than being down to lack of funds? More so especially during several of the sword fights were some of the cast never seemed to be putting any effort in. Thankfully it is assumed by the viewer that this is part of the joke and such things are easily over looked, even as you watch Professor Jerkoff and Flesh falling into a hole, which looks strangely like someone basically dropping two action figures.
What is especially worth noting about this film, is the early special effects work on show from the likes of Rick Baker and Jim Danforth (whose name is spelt backwards in the credits), while Craig T. Nelson also provides the voice of the monster seen at the end of the film, in an early film credit long before he became the voice of “Mr Incredible” in Pixar’s own superhero spoof “The Incredibles”, proof once again that genre cinema is often the launch pad to bigger things.
“Flesh Gordon” to summarise is a great fusing of two low budget genres, which creates a great fun film, which despite being extremely random, still provides a fun viewing experience, that is the cinematic equivalent of Prozac, while at the least a true forgotten gem of trash cinema.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

We all play games, so don't we play together?

So having finally got around to hooking my Xbox up to Xbox live, I have noticed a number of things

1) There are alot of seriously angry people online, who take thier gaming WAY too seriously
2) It's like a mecca for racists (especially on GTA 4)
3) Some people have alot of time on thier hands, seeing how I have encounted some scarily good gamers.
4) Apparantly being 26 is classed as being old, seeing how I got called Grandad by some kid.

But of course I'd much rather be playing against you guys and maybe exchanging some film junkie banter, while I no doubt lose badly..... so if any of you lot also play online and fancy playing a game sometime why not add me.
Gamertag= Film Freak 99

Just mention the blog with your friend request, which also helps me indentify your requests, from those frequent random ones, which keep filling up my mail box.

Casablanca Express

Title: Casablanca Express
Director: Sergio Martino
Released: 1989
Staring: Jason Connery, Francesco Quinn, Jinny Steffan, Manfred Lehmann, Jean Sorel, Donald Pleasence, Glenn Ford, John Evans

Rating: 2/ 5

Plot: In 1942 top commando Alan Cooper (Connery) is assigned to protect Winston Churchill (Evans), when a Nazi plot to kidnap him is discovered.

Review: Casablanca Express is really the blue print for how to make a film with major compromises, I mean if you can’t find any big named actors to play your leads? Why not just draft in their lesser known actor kids. Can’t afford a rousing orchestra score? Well who needs an orchestra when you have the mood setting sound of Synthesisers!! These really are just two of the money cutting costs which Martino incorporates into this film, which you kind of have to admire the balls on Martino and his directing choices, especially when you look at what he believes the audience would find belivable as a Winston Churchill clone, which it seems he too might have also had doubts about, seeing how he tends to shoot Evans either at distance or from behind.

The Italian war movie genre, is probably one of the least looked at genres when it comes to Italian cinema, especially with most cinema obsessive’s usually either concentrating on the Horror and Western genres, especially with both genres being home to more than a few notable directors such as Sergio Leone, Mario Brava, Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento aswell as Martino himself is probably best remembered thanks to the horror genre, in particular for “Mountain of the Cannibal God” (1978).

Strangely enough if you haven’t guessed already film isn’t a prime example of an Italian warm movie, unlike the grind house charm of Castellari’s “The Inglorious Bastards” (1978) which provided the inspiration for Tarantino’s own “Inglorious Basterds” (2009)

“Casablanca Express” it would seem, likes to view itself as a boy’s own adventure, with it’s quick pace and action scenes all being similar to that of war movies, like “The Dirty Dozen” (1967), especially when you look at minmal amount of humanization used for the Nazi characters, who are basically there to play the bad guys and provide target practice for our hero’s.

Connery’s its clear would have really liked to have been his dad and in this film, tries to play the character of Cooper with the same sort of boyish charm as Bond, which really doesn’t work overly well as you never once believe that he is ever in control of any situation he encounters, most of which ending with him surviving through blind luck more than any skill, a prime example of which being during of the early fights when he is ambushed by several bad guys, only to be saved at the last moment by Francesco Quinn’s American agent.

Connery with his well spoken British accent, constantly plays off British stereotypes, something which is also carried onto nearly every other character in the film, including an extremely cringe worthy moment, when one of the passengers, who is supposed to be a British officer complains to one of the station staff about, how they almost damaged his tea set! Thankfully most of these caricatures are killed off pretty swiftly when the train is hijacked by the Nazi’s, which raises more of a cheer than anything else. While on the subject of stereotypes it was kind of surprising to see that this was an Italian film, especially seeing how the American forces are basically the ones who are doing everything, even to the point at the finale where they are riding in on a train with a huge American flag flying, as they save the world once again from the Nazi threat. It kind of surprised me, even more when I discovered that it wasn’t an American film, which made me wonder even more so why Martino choose to portray the war in such an unbalance view, especially when it’s the British prime minister being kidnapped and all we send to save him is a bad James Bond clone!! Still I guess this could be to make up for the fact that the American Agent played here, by an equally uncharismatic Francesco Quinn has his character reduced even further, to the point were he becomes a mere bullet magnet, which might have been intended as a heroic death, but instead comes off more as a relief to the audience, that it is one less crappy actor we have to endure.
Seeing how Martino raided the Children of the stars academy for his main leads, it’s surprising that he chooses to keep the small amount of star power he does have in his cast, with Donald Pleasence and Glenn Ford relegated to supporting roles and spending the majority of the film, moving blocks across a large map, which is a shame as these are some of the best moments of the film and that’s again largely because we aren’t having to suffer Connery’s acting. Still for these brief moments that they appear in the film, they still manage to make the most of their roles and pull them off convincingly enough; even if you get the feeling that they could give the same performance in their sleep.
The Soundtrack as I mentioned at the beginning of this review is synthesiser heavy and I mean really heavy, seeing how every piece of music in this film comes from a synthesiser, which especially makes the seem a lot more dated than it is and certainly fails even on the basic levels to provide the intended mood, as every time the music kicks in it, draws your attention away from what is happening on the screen, pulling you out of the film watching experience and preventing you from immersing` yourself in the world which the film is set in.

“Casablanca Express” like so many of Martino’s other films is a light hearted film, which never really lives up to any potential it might have had, allowing itself to get bogged down with it’s numerous flaws, with only a handful of exciting moments, which are too few and far between, to really keep the viewers attention, especially when there are similar boy’s own adventures to be found, which do the genre better and only worth watching if you’ve seriously run out of things to watch or are a Martino completist.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


Title: Surveillance
Director: Jennifer Lynch
Released: 2008
Staring: Julia Ormond, Bill Pullman, Pell James, Ryan Simpkins, French Stewart, Kent Harper, Michael Ironside

Rating: 3 / 5

Plot: Two FBI Agents Anderson (Ormond) and Hallaway (Pullman) are brought in to help deal with the aftermath of a violent roadside rampage, were the only survivors are a cop (Harper), a Junkie (James) and a young girl (Simpkins) and each of them has a different tale to tell, as the agents attempt to discover what happened.

Review: When you’re the child of someone famous there, is always going to be that shadow which your parent casts over any project you choose to undertake, which bares any similarity to thier own, which often makes it all the more harder for your work to be recognised, for your own individual merit rather than being seen as simply cashing in on your namesake. This more recently has lead to several of these second generation Writers / Directors choosing to take on alias’s for their work, as is especially the case with Joe Hill, whose breakthrough novel “Heart Shaped Box” might have been viewed with a more jaded critical view, had he announced that he was in-fact the son of Stephen King and to his credit only really revealed this, when comparisons were drawn between his work and that of his fathers. Still for one reason or another Jennifer Lynch choose to instead stick with her real name, making for an interesting career move, especially when you consider the fact that her dad David Lynch, is a director with an extremely rabid fan base, as well as being largely renown for his surreal style of film making (aswell as selling his own coffee and performing his own LA Weather reports on his website), making it even less of a surprise that upon the release of her debut film “Boxing Helena” (1993) that numerous comparisons were drawn between the two, with many of those same jaded critics, writing her film off as an attempt to imitate her fathers style. Still fifteen years later she has returned to the director’s chair to take another shot, at making a name for herself as a director.

Hitting the ground running with a series of quick cuts, breaking up her title cards we bare witness to the graphic attack of a couple by a figure, whose features seem horribly mutilated, which certainly grabs the audience while it also feels almost as if Lynch is laying out a forewarning of exactly what kind of movie this will be, while certainly not being afraid of holding back, which could also been seen as Lynch going for double or quits with this film, by bombarding the viewer with this violent and disturbing imagery, which continues throughout the film.
From here we are introduced to the two FBI agents, whose relationship seems to be friendly but certinaly not on the same flirty level as The X Files's Mulder and Scully, who are bizarrely always the first people I think of whenever I hear the words “FBI Agent”, but those well known agents are a whole world away from Agents Anderson and Hallaway, who only speak the minimum amount of words to each other, while generally being devoid of any small talk of any form, preferring a straight to the point attitude. The casting of Ormand and Pullman as the agents feels like a good choice, even if Pullman is especially creepy here, while also appearing to have suffered some kind of stroke, seeing how facial expressions seem for some reason a challenge to him here, as he pretty much keeps the same spaced out expression throughout the film.
Upon arriving at the police station, were the remaining three survivors are being held, it is clear that, this area is certainly not used to seeing crimes of this nature, seeing how shocked everyone comes across, no doubt the result of having to patrol the same desert highways their jurisdiction covers. It is also here that the main meat of the story begins, as each of the three survivors regale their versions of what has happened while being watched constantly by Agent Hallaway, who uses a series of surveillance cameras, to watch each of the rooms, listening in to what each person has to say.
These three stories are all intercut with each other, slowly piecing together what has happened, as we see each of the characters paths as they cross, in the lead up to the massacre. What is interesting with these stories is how Lynch has chosen to shoot them, with Bobbi claiming to have been on her way to a job interview when she was actually scoring drugs, with Lynch skilfully editing flashback footage with her statement, so that her words end up take on a metaphorical meaning, while meanwhile it soon become clear through these same techniques, that Officer Bennet is not as clean cut as he makes out, as we watch him and his former partner Officer Conrad (Stewart) flaunt the law for their own person amusement, to the point were they make the cops from “Superbad” seem like upstanding officers of the law, as they abuse their powers of authority at any given opportunity, with their favourite game being to shoot out the tyres on passing cars, so that they can then play mind games with the drivers, with their own extreme version of good cop, bad cop. It’s these scenes in particular which make for especially uncomfortable viewing, as they torment and tease their victims, never once caring about their actions, seeing themselves in many ways as a kind of untouchable presence. Stewart is particularly convincing as Officer Conrad, having finally shrugged off his goofy comedy sidekick typecasting, which he has carried with him the last few years, since playing Harry on “Third Rock From The Sun” and here he seems to excel when having given the freedom to do something different, though it could just be another example of comedians making really good psycho’s, a prime example of which being Robin Williams in “One Hour Photo” (2002) which creeps me out just thinking about it.

The side of the story comes from Stephanie, who having just witness her whole family being killed in front of her doesn’t appear to be overly shocked, by what she has witness, as she calmly tells her story to Agent Anderson, which could in many ways be down to Simpkins performance as Stephanie, who Lynch apparently based on her own daughter. True I can understand the need to include a character who represents innocence in this dark and corrupted world that Lynch has created for her characters, but Simpkins for the most part just comes of more irritating than anything else, which seems to a frequent problem recently I found with directors, wanting to include these innocent child characters, only for them to annoy the hell out of the viewer, as was especially the case with “Sunshine Cleaning” (2009).
While I'm finding fault with this film, I should also mention that this film is also especially slow moving, despite having a brisk 99 minute running time, which it certainly felt longer than, as Lynch take her time to slowly revel the truth behind what has happened, before pulling a slick twist ending which did seem slightly more timid when compared to the really twisted original ending, she intended to use and which appears as an extra on the DVD, for the more curious amongst you.
On a fanboy kind of note, Michael Ironside is great for his brief amount of screen time he receives; as he plays the role of Capt. Billings almost effortlessly as he continues to prove that he really is the less costly version of Jack Nicolson and despite his presence being brief he still manages to make his character feel necessary to the main storyline.

Although “Surveillance” might have been more warmly received than her debut, it still bares many finger marks of her father’s work (who incidentally is also the executive producer), giving the film at times a surreal feeling though, certainly not placing the film in the same dreamlike world, that his films tend to inhabit, which might still keep her in his shadow, but it is certainly an impressive return and one which hopefully marks the start of more and equally interesting work to come.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Ghost Busters (1954)

Ok so while prowling the Internet, searching for more random cinematic delights and Horror shows, to write about here, when I stumbled across this trailer, which is a reimaginging of what Ghostbusters would have been like had, it been shot in the 50's instead of the 80's.
Honestly though I thought that this was a real trailer, until it was pointed out, by one of my less gulible friends, that it infact a really great fake, created using random parts from 19 different films, though know idea which film the flying Michelin man is taken from?

Monday, 3 August 2009

Bride of the Gorilla

Title: Bride of the Gorilla
Director: Curt Siodmak
Released: 1951
Staring: Raymond Burr, Lon Chaney Jr., Barbara Payton, Paul Cavanagh, Tom Conway

Rating: 2 / 5
Plot: After killing his elderly employer, plantation manager Barney Chavez (Burr) steals his former employer’s wife Dina (Payton). However the murder was witness by the elderly housekeeper, who curses Barney turning him into a Gorilla as soon as night falls.

Review: I should really start by saying how disappointed I was with this latest jaunt into obsure film randomness, especially as I thought this film would provide me with some camp old school hijinks, especially with the prospect of seeing a man in a ropey looking gorilla suit on the rampage, which really is pretty much the exact opposite of what I found here, which might have usually been followed by feeling of pleasant surprise…... But alas it was not to be.

Released back in 1951, it’s original working title was “The Face in the Water” which would have been more of a suitable title and perhaps lead to slightly less disappointment for myself, but being made in the 1950’s and how producers back then loved to hype their movies, it went for the slightly more dramatic title. Intrestingly though Siodmak was also be responsible for writing the screenplay for the classic Universal Monster “The Wolfman” (1941), which has recently been remade with Benicio Del Toro getting the furry treatment.

“Bride of the Gorilla” is certainly at the least a throwback to more innocent film making times, especially when you consider that the jungle shots are nothing more than a plant heavy soundstage and a whole heap of B-roll animal footage, though the budget does stretch to one snake which supposedly is to blame for the death of the Klass Van Gelder (Paul Cavanagh), even though the snake basically just stares at him, before slithering away, so unless there is a species of snake which can do this that I don’t know about, it’s a pretty ropey cause of death for the doctor (Conway) to claim, as I’m sure that punch shaped bruise is nothing to do with his death and certainly brings into question what sort of medical training he has had if any! I know we are in the jungles of South America but is he really the best they could find? This also makes it all the more of a wonder how Klass managed to stay so healthy with him as his personal doctor. Still thanks to questionable post mortem Barney is free to marry Dina, who also doesn’t seem overly bothered by the recent death of her elderly husband, even if she was cheating on him with Barney, she never really seems to question what happened to him, making her either a really dumb blonde or just one with questionable morals.

So with Barney now cursed by the one person, who knows what has happened, the elderly housekeeper, whose strange loyalty to Klass is never really explained and it’s from here that the film starts to rapidly go downhill as it seems that the curse not only turns Barney into a Gorilla by night, but also apparently turns him into a moody and angst ridden arsehole, obsessed with the jungle and escaping to it whenever he is given an opportunity. Rather than adding to any tension in the film, it sadly has the opposite effect here, dragging the film down and making the character of Barney all the more unlikable, which when you consider that none of the characters are particularly likable, certainly makes it all the harder to sit through the film, which even with it’s brief running time, it still feels strangely bloated and lacking in the quick pace that many of it’s fellow B-movies process, which could also be down to the constant feeling of Déjà vu, as we are forced to sit through scenes which seem all to familiar to ones which we have already seen and as the prospect of seeing that ropey Gorilla suits grows all the more distant, it is hard not to despair slightly, after all that was kind of the main draw, instead we only get a few scattered glimpses of furry arms and one full length shot of the horrible gorilla suit, which sadly is the only time we get to see it in it’s entirety, even though you will be assuming that Siodmak is showing us only these brief glimpses, before the dramatic final reveal which never happens. Due to this it feels almost as if Siodmak was going for more of a Psychological thriller than a monster movie, despite having all the pieces to make a great monster film, with superstitious locals all claiming that Barney’s gorilla form is some supernatural creature, but still Siodmak ignores all of this and continues with his attempts to make it a thriller, which doesn’t work out and only makes for a tedious viewing experience.

While it’s true Siodmak will be best remembered for “The Wolf Man”, “Bride of the Gorilla” remains a mark on his career in much the same way that “Piranha 2: The Spawning” is on James Cameron’s, as it fails to be fun even at the most campy base levels and certainly not worth seeking out, despite being ready available to watch online, with the film being in the public domain, but unless your really struggling for something to watch, you’d be best looking to get your B-Movie thrills elsewhere.
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