Friday, 22 May 2009
thanks to my random shift patterns it is often a pretty rare thing for us to have a day off together and honestly, I'd rather spend those days off with her, than just writing which is what I tend to use the days off, that she is at work for.
I will still be reviewing the films, that I planned to with this month, it just means that my look at the Ozplotation genre will now go into June, making it less of a month and more of a season of films.
I know I could have continued posting and not said anything, but I feel that it's always better to tell you all the truth about these things, so please accept my apoligies for this slight hicup and I just hope that you (like myself) are all enjoying so far this random trek through the lesser known side of film history.
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Rating: 4/ 5
Review: Ever since the release of “Battle Royale” (2000) which along with the like of “Ringu” (1998) and “Audition” (1999) helped push Asian cinema, into the mainstream conscious, exposing films that would have largely been ignored by most of the cinema going public, other than cinema snobs and the foreign film fans. However since the release of “Battle Royale” it seems that when ever you have a film, come out which involves any group of people being hunted for sport, be it by people, zombies or pretty much anything else, you will always find critics quick to attach the label of a film being a “Battle Royale Clone”, which is ironic when that film is basically the same idea as “Turkey Shoot” except on a larger scale, increasing this films group of five to a school class of 42 pupils, but it’s clearly “Turkey shoot” that provides the groundwork and even though both films share the same idea, they both have enough originality to stand on their own, but if anything is a clone of anything, then it has to be of “Turkey Shoot”, but then at the same time you could say that this film is also a homage to Richard Connel’s "The Most Dangerous Game" and George Orwell's "1984", proving once again that like everything else it is just really a homage of a homage.
Opening with a montage of stock footage of riots around the world, which provides all the backdrop you need, to were society has been heading to the point, that the faceless government has set up concentration style camps, to re-educate those who wish to stand up against their Orwellian vision of society. We are quickly introduced to our so called heroes a resistance member Paul Anders (Railsback), an accused sex worker Rita (Stoner) and Chris (Hussey) who is a shopworker, who after attempting to stop the beating of a man, by government police is accused of being part of the resistance and sentenced to re-education at the camp along with Paul and Jennifer, who will soon be taking part in the hunt planned by the well spoken, pipe smoking camp director Thatcher, who is played effortlessly laid back here by Micheal Craig, who uses the sadistic camp guards to enforce his wrath on the camp detainee’s, rather than dirty his hands with such things.
This simple plot, helps keep the pace of the film moving quickly and despite the lack of prisoners being hunted, a modest five compared to the 42 of “battle royale”, it still manages to remain satisfying enough for those of us, who heard the comparisons to “battle royale” and picked this film up hoping for a similar style bloodbath, as all four of the hunters have their own unique style of hunting with the well spoken Tito (Petrovich) preferring to chase after his target in what can best be described as a mini bulldozer and unleashing his sideshow freak / werewolf pet “Alph” to remove parts of his targets anatomy, including one scene in which he invites Alph to eat the toes of prisoner Dodge, before letting him go, so that he might enjoy hunting him again. Meanwhile Jennifer (Duncan) prefers to dress like she is going on a foxhunt, taking time with her crossbow, as she plays with her target, like a cat with a mouse, aswell as any other of the prisoners, she gets in her sights regardless of whether they are her target or not, only truly revelling the extent of her dark side towards the end, in one of the more surprising and chilling scenes, which works all the more strongly when the film is hardly subtle and pure grind house fodder for the majority of it’s run time.
On the soundtrack, Brian May adds his usual orchestral styling to the film soundtrack, once again like he did finding the perfect score to soundtrack, the events unfolding on screen, heightening the experience in the same way that he did with the “Mad Max” movies and here also it works perfectly to complement the film.
Friday, 15 May 2009
The film adaptation of the first book "MEG" is currently still buried deep in pre production, with the last reports still having Jan de Bont (Speed 2) attached to direct and Nick Nunziata (he of CHUD.com) attached as a producer. However a recent article in the "LA Times" also named veteran Hollywood producers Lawrence Gordon ("Die Hard") and Lloyd Levin ("Boogie Nights"), as being attached to the project, which can be seen as highly positive for the long delayed adaptation, seeing how they are responsible for "Hellboy 2: The Golden Army" and "The Watchmen" finally making it to the screen, after both suffering numourus delays and setbacks, so fingers crossed they can do the same for "MEG" which so far has only produced so fantastic Promo art and little else outside, of some extremely random draft scripts, one of which having the giant shark having wings!! Not sure how that would have worked out, especially seeing how the idea of flying killer fish, barely worked with "Piranha 2: The Spawning" (1981), so how it would have worked to have a flying 70-foot Megalodon shark, I'm not overly sure.
Still in the meantime Asylum films are set to release "Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus" next week, which for those of you already associated with Asylum films and their DTV style of film making, you should know what to expect already........ but here's the trailer anyway.
And finally to wrap up this killer shark obsessed piece of blogging, I found this trailer for one of the numerous "Jaws" (1975) cash in's which appeared after the release of the first movie, which in it's wake spawned a whole heap of killer shark knock off's, which continue to this day, but this trailer actually has made me want to hunt this one down.
Still I guess this goes to prove once again, that even though I know the majority of shark movies outside of "Jaws" will suck, I will for some strange reason still find myself obsessing over them while hoping that one day we might see a "MEG" movie. Still in the meantime Steve Alten is running a competition, where the winner can get thier name, in the fifth book "MEG: Night Stalkers", which could lead to a random claim to fame, of having your character killed off by a giant shark...who knows?
Monday, 11 May 2009
Title: Amityville II: The Possession
Review: Sequels as I looked at with my last review can often be tricky things to pull off, let alone do well, with the main problems for sequels coming from trying to follow, directly on from were the first film ended. Still despite being one of the less well known of the horror franchises, especially amongst the fair-weather horror fans, who’d probably name “Nightmare on Elm St” & “Friday the 13th” when asked to name a long running horror series, the Amityville films have since the release of the 1979 original “The Amityville horror” spawned an impressive eight sequels, which includes this prequel and the 2005 remake of the same name with this film currently rumoured to be receiving the remake treatment in 2010.
Still with Sequels being such tricky things, it is perhaps because of this reason it was better that director Damiani, choose to make a prequel to the 1979 original, rather than a direct sequel, a choice that was also probably heavily influenced by the real life case of Ronald DeFeo, Jr who in 1974 shot his family, claiming that voices in his head told him to carry out the murders. Still seemingly this wasn’t interesting enough for Hollywood meaning that this film shares many connections to that case, changing the name of the family from DeFeo to Montelli, while at the same time, adding numerous details of its own to the case, using Hans Holzer’s book “Murder in Amityville” for the majority of the films extra plotting, with the most obvious addition of course being the idea of possession.
Opening with the Montelli family, moving into the now infamous house, they seem like a perfectly normal kind of family.....well actually they are pretty messed up to begin with as Anthony Montelli (Young) clearly prefers to rule the family with a domineering attitude, as he spends most of his time shouting at his children, even on several occasions appearing willing to use, physical force to control his children, but then when his kids seem as dysfunctional as they are, it makes you wonder how he hasn’t been driven (more) insane, especially seeing how his wife Delores (Alda) sees to be off in her own perfect little world, which gives the viewer that she is kind of oblivious to what is going on around her, even though she later confesses to her eldest daughter about how her marriage is secretly falling apart. Meanwhile the two youngest children are creepy as hell, with one such memorable scene involving Jan and Mark (played here by real life brother and Sister Erica and Brent Katz) play fighting in the kitchen, only for Jan to pull a plastic bag, over her brothers head while laughing “Ha Ha, Your dead” which to them seems incredibly funny, but to the audience comes across more than slightly creepy, much like the incestuous antics of the older brother and sister Sonny (Magner) and Patricia (Franklin), who even before the haunting’s have started and long before Sonny become possessed, are seen flirting with each other and even after Sonny has become possessed by a demon, (which is pure assumption on my part, seeing how it’s never properly explained) she doesn’t seem to find it weird that her brother is asking to see her naked, let alone the incest scene, which closely follows, with her only real remorse coming during an extremely brief confession to the priest, which here seems to only have been added, for the point of driving home the point that incest is bad (aswell as creepy), as no doubt Damiani didn’t want to obviously be seen, as promoting incest as a good thing.
It’s around the same moment that the ghostly haunting start to run out of steam that the film moves onto the main focus of the story, as Sonny becomes possessed, turning the film in more than one way into kind of a cash in on “The Exorcist” (1973) as we witness the battle between good and evil unfolding, as Father Adamsky (Olson) suffers visions of his own, such as holy water being turned into blood, as he attempts to bless the house and as he later attempts to save Sonny’s soul from the demon, which has taken control of him and which lead him to kill his family, during one particularly chilling scene, as a blank faced Sonny moves around the house, rifle in hand killing the members of his family one by one, while not even showing the slightest hint of emotion, in this recreation of the real life murders which the story is built around.
For fans of “The Exorcist” you might be able to detract from this film, for it’s exorcism like scenes, but personally I felt that it manages to bring it’s own spin to the idea, with a notably distinct lack of pea soup and more especially by bringing in the idea of a processed person, being driven to murder their family and how such a case would be seen in court, aswell as some still impressive transformation sequences, during the final confrontation between Sonny and Father Adamsky
The trouble with this film however is that, it never seems to know what sort of film it want to be, starting off as a family drama, as we see the dysfunctional family, trying to portray this image of family wholesomeness, only to then turn into a ghost story once the spooky thrills start, before then turning into a crime drama of sorts as we see Anthony threatening his wife with a rifle and even more so when Sonny kills his family, which in the lead up to those murders, the film is trying to busily turn itself into it’s forth incarnation as a possession movie, it almost had be shouting at the screen “Pick a genre already!”. Still somehow out of this jumbled wreckage of genre swapping, it still manages to be an entertaining film, even if this is your first introduction to the series, it stands well on it’s own or as part of the larger franchise.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Title: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
Director: George Miller
Staring: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston, Max Phipps, Vernon Wells, Kjell Nilsson, Emil Minty
Rating: 5/ 5
Plot: Continuing after the event of the first film, Max (Gibson) now travels through the post apocalypse Australia where Gasoline has become most valuable commodity. It’s here that he becomes involved in a struggle between a group of psychotic bandits lead by the Humangus (Nilsson) and a town that has built its defences around a small refinery.
Review: When it comes to naming the greatest sequels of all time, it’s usually a pretty short list, especially when you limit it to movies which manage to surpass the original film from which they have been spawned, which will no doubt leave you with a list that looks a lot like this.
* Godfather part 2
* Gremlins: The New Batch
* Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
* Terminator 2: Judgement Day
* Baby cart at the River Styx
But for myself when it comes to one movie that not only surpasses its original film, but blows it out of the water, I always think of this film, which was released three years after the original movie and costing ten times the budget of the original movie, it’s hardly surprising that this was at the time one of the most expensive Australian movies made at the time of it’s release, but for myself this truly is a film that surpasses it's original, which honestly I never really cared for, seeing how it had a strong memorable opening and a great finale, but somewhere in-between it became just a run of the mill chase thriller, as Max and his family found themselves constantly on the run from “The Toecutter” and his marauding group of bikers and true it’s storyline might be important, due to it showing how Max became the shell of the man he is, when we catch up with him in this film, where it seems since the last time we saw Max, the world has gone to hell in a hand basket, thanks to the war over oil, ravaging the planet which only proves all the more ironic when we look at the conflict currently happening in Iraq. Still thanks to the dramatic opening narrative, we are quickly brought up to speed, before being thrown into the first of the films many chase sequences, which after all were the selling point of the first film and realising this Miller, has with this sequel created some of the most memorable chase sequences put onto film, maximising on the apocalyptic setting, to not only create strange hybrid vehicles, but also using the setting to bring a new primal and more brutal edge to these sequences, with the standout of course being the final tanker chase, which not only clocks in at an impressive 15 minutes, but in many ways modernises the familiar set piece of westerns by giving us his version of a stage coach ambush setting, as we see the Humangus’s dogs of war leaping from vehicles, to try and climb onboard the tanker.
It’s true that “Mad Max 2” might also be almost a complete reimagining of the world created in “Mad Max” (1979), which despite having a future time frame still looked very current for the time of it’s release, but it’s a reimaging or even a reboot which saved the series, which at the end of the first film had really no where to go, but by making the subtle tweaks to the setting, such as the world now being post apocalyptic, it helps make the film more open to creativity, which is none more present than with Humangus and his dogs of war, who are really a rag tag band of bikers and savages still trying to cling onto familiar symbols of the old world, such as several members of the gang, being seen wearing police uniforms, similar to the ones we saw Max and his fellow officers wearing in the first film, while the bikers tend to favour the more traditional leather and Mohawk combo, with the Humangus’s muscle “Wez” (played here by Vernon Wells in what would prove to be his most memorable role) even sporting a pair of ass-less chaps, which along with the affection he has for the blonde guy who rides with Wez on his bike, only further fuels, the idea that several of these bandits are openly gay and idea not usually associated with tough and sadistic villains like these, who are happy to torture and rape their victims, whenever provided the opportunity and judging by the comments made by the Humangus while trying to calm down a psychotic Wez, saying the following words softly, as he restrains him
“I understand your pain. We've all lost someone we love.”
We are also shown that these bandits, have also been driven insane by the violence, which has erupted around them and that Max could easily have become one of these men, as he to seems to care for nothing in this world which has taken everything he cares about, having become a shell of his former self, with his emotions as barren as the desert landscape which surrounds him, with the only real sign of any emotion in the whole film, being at the start, when he finds a small music box, which when wound up plays the tune of “Happy Birthday” raising a slight smile on his face. Still it would seem that Max, still holds onto a lot of his old values, as he keeps his deals with both the Gyro captain (Spence) and PappaGallo (Preston) again proving, that even though he is emotional dead, thanks to the experiences he has been through, he is still not ready to turn into a savage like the Humangus and his gang have long since become. The Villagers on the other hand seem strangely innocent compared to Max and the bandits, dressing almost uniform like in their Nomadic white cloth wraps, yet are prepared to defend their makeshift village, no doubt having learned from previous experience that passive behaviour, holds little weight in this world, an idea only re-enforced by the opening montage, as the narrator explains states that
"Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive."
Though like the bandits they too, have chosen to follow the leadership of a charismatic leader, with their leader coming in the form of PappaGallo, whose command they follow without question, despite having launched numerous failed attempts to escape from the bandits. It is also curious that with a society that these villagers have created for themselves that they have a feral child, the imaginatively named Feral Kid (Minty) amongst their number, who speaks only in grunts and howls and despite his young age has already become desensitised to the escalating violence around him, while showing no remorse when his steel boomerang kill’s Wez’s partner, giving the viewer the impression that this child is the new evolution of humanity, created in this societies soup of violence and rage.
Now were most movies would be lucky to manage one interesting villan, this film is unusual in the fact that it has two, with both the Humangus and Wez fighting for the title of supreme evil of the wasteland, even though it made clear that the Humangus is the one with the power, easily commanding his followers with a few simple words and inspiring them with his torture party demonstrations of power, aswell as Neo Nazi like rants at the towns folk, with his style of leadership having possibly been inspired by his own father, as we see in the Humangus’s gun case a photo of a man, who could be his father wearing a Nazi uniform. However he is slightly let down by his costume choice, which thanks to S & M style leather and a hockey mask covering his disfigured face, means he does end up looking like Jason’s gay Australian cousin. Wez on the other hand is less focused with his intentions and merely a man of action, admittedly these actions are mainly of a psychotic and violent nature, who draws pleasure from pain, demonstrated near the beginning when we see him pulling an arrow from his own flesh, with an almost transfixed look of concentration on his face. Still for myself the most memorable character of the film, will always be the Gyro Captain, with Bruce Spence playing the role, like it had been written for him, which makes his appearance in “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” (1985) all the less suprising. The Gyro Captain makes for an interesting choice of sidekick for Max, even though Max rejects his offers of partnership, whenever it is brought up he continues to follow Max around, knowing that they both need each other, if they are to survive in this new world, even if Max isn’t forthcoming in admitting to it, only expressing his respect for the Gyro Captain at the very end of the film.
Brain May once again provides a great orchestra score to the film, adding real tension and drama, to what is unfolding on the screen, in much the same way that he would later do for many Ozploitation classics including “Turkey Shoot” (1982) and “Patrick” (1978), the score coming into real effect during the chase sequences, all of which were shot without the use of CGI, making every smash and crash all the more exciting, as Miller attempts to top each chase sequence with the final chase especially easily worth noting as one of the most spectacular and exciting ever captured on film.
Since it’s original release Mad Max 2 has been endless paid homage to, with many films sharing it’s apocalyptic setting drawing heavy influence from the ideas which it along with the other films in the trilogy laid the foundations for. The film is also packed with textbook examples for how chase sequences should be done and certainly something which Australian films have in time become renown for, but Mad Max 2 just ups the ante with these sequences almost as if Miller was playing a game of one upman ship with himself, to see just how insane a chase sequence it would be possible to create and these sequences stand as a testament, giving almost textbook example as to how chase sequences should be shot.
Mad Max 2 is also a film that since I first saw it, back in my early teens, it has frequently been a film, which I have returned to and even after countless viewings still manages to create the same emotions in me, that it did the first time I saw it in much the same way as “Zulu” (1964) and like that film, it is one of the films which I hope gets passed onto the next generation of film junkies, who will no doubt never get to experience a film like this, especially in these times were CGI has pretty much replaced the role of old school effect, atleast this film much like John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982) will remain testament as to the power of the old school style of film making.
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
Friday, 1 May 2009
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Plot: In the year 2056 an epidemic of organ failures devastates the planet. Out of the tragedy, a savoir emerges: GeneCo, a biotech company that offers organ transplants, for a price. Those who miss their payments are scheduled for repossession and hunted by villainous Repo Men. In this world where surgery addicts are hooked on painkilling drugs and murder is sanctioned by law, Shilo (Vega) a sheltered young girl searches for the cure to her own rare disease as well as information about her family's mysterious history.
Review: So with us starting a new month, which also marks the start of “Ozploitation Month” here on the blog, I thought that I would allow myself one film outside of the months genre, before I dive headfirst into a month of Aussie themed insanity, for which I’ve already lined up a whole bunch of cult, weird and pretty random movies for the month, but first I wanted to look at this film, which I was going into pretty much expecting to hate every minute while looking forward to taking it behind the critical bike sheds and giving a good kicking, the kind best reserved for any film with “Noel Clarke” in it's cast and whose character Mickey, was one of the main failing of the new Doctor Who in, while he is currently set to bother movie fans when he appears in “Doghouse” which is set for release later this year and bears more than a slight similarity to the “Masters of Horror” episode “The Screw fly solution”. Strangely enough though I actually enjoyed this film a lot, even though it was a film that had a lot stacked against it, seeing how it has Paris Hilton in it, let alone the fact that what could have very easily been filmed in a very traditional style, is instead shot by Bousman as a rock opera, which somehow he manages to pull off.
Seeing how this is an opera I should also comment on the vocal performances, which vary greatly, much like the song range as despite being an opera, it is not an opera in the traditional sense and not only because of the setting or the gore, but rather the song range, which goes from traditional opera style pieces such as Blind Mag’s (Brightman) “Chromaggia” at the climax, a song which makes full use of Brightman’s ability, as she carries over the same vocal range which she brought as Christine in “Phantom of the Opera” (a role which was specifically written for her.) to the “Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) esq “Zydrate Anatomy” in which Graverobber proceeds to explain about the addictive painkiller Zydrate, which head of GeneCo. Rotti’s surgery addicted daughter Amber (Hilton) is also hooked on. Sadly as is the case with all musicals there are several songs which don’t work such as the Punk rock “Seventeen” which not only features a cameo by Joan Jett, but also has Shilo sounding more like a spoilt brat stomping her feet, than I’m sure it was originally intended. It’s also worth noting that as fantastic as he as Rotti’s psychotic son Luigi, Bill Moseley is no singer and it’s quite painfully clear here whenever he attempts this, still as I already stated he plays the character so well, even if it is a slightly more upper class psycho, than the usual red neck kind he tends to favor playing. Still the rest of the cast manage to hold the singing parts together well enough for the format to still work, especially Zdunich whose performance as graverobber easily were some of my favourite parts.
Thankfully Repo, knows how a musical should work, which is with the songs being used to further the story, rather than bring it to a halt which is the problem that I found with Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd” (2007) which would frequently for me come crashing to a halt, as the cast churned out another dreary musical number, which thankfully I didn’t find with Repo, even with the less than fantastic songs, of which it does as I stated earlier feature a few.
Rumoured to be the first of a trilogy, with a Prequel “Repo!: The Beginning” planned to be the next part to follow, but Repo stands well on it’s own and my only fear at hearing such news, is that any additional sequels / prequels would only take away from the mythos, in a similar way that numerous sequels have done to the “Saw” franchise, to the point were it has now fallen into the same rhythm of numerous other long running horror series, so it is now more about the death scenes, than the actual plotline. Still in the meantime if you’re looking for an opera with a difference, or if you liked the pop cultured tainted flamboyant extravagance of “Moulin Rouge” (2001) then this is certainly the film for you and it makes me wonder how the original stage version looked and whether having the larger canvas which film provides, added or took away from what at the soul from what is defiantly an highly original piece of work, which is worth a rental at least.