Thursday, 26 August 2010

And now for a brief interlude.....

Hey all,
Well this is really just a post to explain why there might be a bit of a gap before I post anything new here, which is largely down to being in the middle of moving house, so is bad enough trying to shift a few hundred assorted DVD's and VHS tapes, let alone my on going arguments with SKY to get my Broadband back online.

So as I sit here amongst the moving boxes typing this out, it's really because the last thing I would want is for anyone to think that I have finally been driven over the edge by some of the random films, I have exposed myself to since I began this blog and just thought bollocks to it all and packed it in, but fear not as this journey is far from over for yet and I want to thank everyone who has supported the blog and hopfully it won't be long before I can get something new posted.

Now to figure out how to move these darn boxes!!!

Thursday, 19 August 2010


Title: Deaden Director: Christian Viel Released: 2006 Staring: John Fallon, Deke Richards, Claudia Jurt, Neil Napier, Anna Jaeger, Carmen Echeverria, Kevin Kelsall, Marcello Bezina, John Topor
Rating: 1 / 5

Plot: Rane (Fallon) an undercover cop is exposed by the gang he was infiltrating, who proceed to rape and murder his pregnant wife and despite shooting Rane in the head with a crossbow and dumping his body in the river, he somehow survives. Now jacked up on painkillers and cocaine he sets out to wreak bloody revenge.

Review: It’s always interesting when a critic decides to step up and thrown his hat into his own personal critic arena, which is something the majority of critics will avoid doing, after all in this trade it is frequently noted that you are either the hunted or the hunter, despite some critics feeling that you can actually carve a career switching between the two (yes Perez Hilton I’m looking at you) and to an extent John Fallon, or as he is better known in the critic circles as “The Arrow”, has managed to pull a double life as both an actor and critic, with his critical work expanding upon his love affair with horror, with his Horror review site “Arrow in the Head”, part of which is arguably one of the true movie review site pioneers. Still having cranked out at the time of writing a staggering 1074 reviews since 2000, he has still found time to pull the occasional cameo appearance in the genre, with for myself the most noticeable being as a techie in “Saw 2” (2005), so I was kind of interested to see if he could pull off a leading role, as well as seeing how his writing chops would transfer to screen writing, after all would being a horror junkie really help to create a stronger film, especially having spent so long noting the flaws in the work of others, it would give him an advantage when it came to writing his own film ….. Sadly not it would seem.

Now I can look past a lot when it comes to indie features, such as the cheaper film stock and frequent cheesy performances, after all these films are usually provide a start for numerous actors and directors before they more onto bigger and more mainstream projects and most of the time they still have that base level of entertainment to be gained from a casual viewing, but even being a fan of “The Arrow” I still found this a really tough film to sit through.
Wasting no time establishing things such as characters or plotting, by opening up with Rane in a strip club shooting himself in the head (hmmm perhaps that was a subtle hint of what I should be doing), before leaping into a full blown rape and torture scene, which seemed like so many moments in this film seems to be more about shock tactics than anything that could be considered solid film making and it's almost as if Fallon and Viel are trying to top anything the audience may have seen before, but even when Rane begins extracting his revenge on the gang, the kills come off more mean spirited than the fun gooey times you want from a revenge flick, which I had to place largely with the character of Rane, who comes of more like a jerk than anything resembling a likable character, as he mopes about drinking, chomping down pain killers and snorting drugs to control his constant pain, which a crossbow bolt (yep these gangsters like to go real old school with thier weapon choices) to the head kinda leaves you with and generally trying to come off dark and moody, though for the most part generally failing horribly and these flaws are really all the more worrying when this is the guy we are supposed to be rooting for, but then its hard to decide if his character feels so because of Fallons acting ability or that his character is so darn under developed, that it’s hard to feel much for him or his plight, seeing how the only scenes we see are either him killing someone or having flashbacks of his wife, which for some reason are all romance or sex scenes, which is okay for one or two and perhaps for anyone interesting in seeing Fallons ass, but not when its for every single flashback!

The majority of the performances here are largely forgettable, which for anyone familiar with these b grade type movies, won’t be overly surprising with the majority of characters barely distinguishable as being one of the main bad guys from the stock disposable henchmen, unless they are verging on comical with their evilness. This point in perticular was especially highlighted when it came to the final showdown with head baddie Ballsy (Benzina), which almost felt like a added scene rather than a climatic showdown, though it does manage a pretty humorous finish. Still to break up these scenes of disposable baddies reciving Rane's special kind of punishment, we do also get Kersey (Richards), the cocaine snorting best friend who handily also has a huge stockpile of guns, which is not make him a good friend to have when your on a mission of revenge, but also when director Viel decides to give us his budget take on the “Scarface” (1983) finale, which is honestly just plain laughable, even more so when after hearing Kersey remark about two SWAT teams breaking into his shop, only for the so called teams to end up consisting of a grand total of six cops, two of which looking like they have gone for a coffee break rather than anything resembling tactical procedure. Still this scene like so many other scenes here, have such familiarity which considering the knowledge that Fallon has of the genre is unsurprising to find these kinds of references and while Tarantino might have carved a career out of being a cinematic magpie, Fallon lacks the writing ability to combine those moments with his own outside of some original kills he has created, which are pretty much the sole strong point and generally leaves the film looking like badly put together scrapbook of ideas which rarely engages the viewer beyond perhaps providing the occasional cheap and grimy thrill.

Sadly this isn't the breakout film for Fallon even as a writer or an actor, even though the more hardcore fanbase will no doubt argue differently, but this film is mean spirited for it's own good and struggles even more thanks to it's characters being so unlikable and when you realise that "The Crow" (1994) told pretty much the same story, except better it leaves little reason to bother with this film, outside of perhaps curiosity about Fallon's work outside of his work over at Joblo's.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Yippee Ki-Yay Moviegoer!

You kinda of have to feel for Vern, who after all is from my humble opinion is one the few good things, to come out of the supposed critical empire, that the over rated hamster faced egotist “Harry Knowles” has created from himself with his movie review (and I use that term loosely) site “Ain’t it Cool News”, yet the ego of this man has enveloped pretty much anything this site has created, to the point were the majority of folks would believe that the site is a one man show. Still I would argue after this latest collection of writing from Vern, that it is infact Vern who is now the bigger name especially here in the UK, as he continues to ride the wave of the positive response that greeted his first book “Seagalogy: A Study of the Ass-kicking Films of Steven Seagal”, which despite being a great read, felt overly samey throughout, which really is no critism of Vern, but rather the chosen subject matter, as lets face it Mr. Seagal doesn’t tend to stretch himself when it comes to the films he makes, so I was interested to see what Vern could do when given a larger canvas to work with, for if his first book felt like “Vern does Segal” this latest book feels almost like “Vern: The Greatest Hits Collection” for after all the main focus here is on Vern’s speciality, looking at the films which make up the action and cult movie genre, while finding time to cast the occasional glance into other genres such as animation and the more arty side of cinema.

From the start Vern is quick to dismiss that he is going for “Bruceology” here, stating that this book is instead about expressing “a love for all movies” (aswell as a love for the films of Mr. Willis) for whom he uses as his living example of this theory, especially when you take in his varied career from his start in TV comedy “Moonlighting” making the radical career change by staring in the legendry “Die Hard” (1988) before shaking things up further by constantly refusing to remain just another action star, with appearances in equally noteworthy films such as “The Sixth Sense”(1999), which could also be said for this book, as Vern refuses to stick to just action films, instead allowing his attentions to wander off and look at films such as err “Mary Poppins” (1964) and “Brokeback Mountain” which in perticular does provide one of the funnier moments of this book, when he rightfully points out with his usual critical subtly of a half brick.

'It's not about gay cowboys.It's about gay shepherds. They herd sheep...'

Still the majority of these lapses also provide the weaker moments of what is essentially a great fun read and I was glad to see the majority of these appearing at the start of the book, allowing me to get them out of the way so that I could enjoy Vern’s comments on films such as “The Glove” (1979) and “Switchblade Romance” aka Haute Tension” (2003) and despite what the blurb on the back might have you believe, these diversions are sadly not clever as you are lead to believe, eliminating any future moments of cool that you might have obtained by plagiarising them to your friends, like some of you might have done (I know I have), with Tarantino’s “Top Gun is about Maverick not being able to come out of the closet” speech, as the reviews of these films despite providing the occasional fresh insight, rarely prove to be anything close to groundbreaking.

Divided into chapters dedicated to particular aspects of the films being reviewed or just Vern’s own personal style with one chapter dedicated to tangents (or rants to the rest of us) in which Vern demonstrates aswell as openly admits how easily he can get off topic, with his review of “Friday After Next” being more a highlight of things wrong with the cinema experience, than anything about the actually film, as he dissects everything from the crappy waiting music to the stupidly easy “Coke trivia questions” being advertised on the screen. This section in particular I found especially enjoyable and comparable to the porn reviews of Chris Nierako, whose porn reviews are sadly no longer part of “Bizarre” and like Vern’s tangents are less about the film and more about the experience of reviewing the film (if he bothers to cover it at all), while Vern’s writing style on a whole is undeniably passionate for these films he adores, which the more snobbish critic / movie goer would regard as being trash, are when viewed through his eyes are almost like masterworks of cinema, while also providing great insights into the most straightforward and simple of action movies.

Still By setting the book out into these manageable chapters it makes it pretty easy to find what your looking for and to skip past the parts, you don’t really give too much of a damn about, for after all the majority of people who buy this book are going to be getting a lot more from the sleaze and action films covered here, than anything which slightly less visual or subtle. Still for a book about “Badass Cinema” the range of films looked at here is incredibly diverse, even after you remove the entries looking at films like “Garfield” (2004) which honestly have nothing to do with the genre in the slightest, with Vern not only looking at established classics like “Predator” (1987) and “Enter The Dragon” (1973) but more obscure films such as “Dolemite” (1975) and “Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation” (1989) which only helping to further increase my Lovefilm rental list, yet there is a noticeable lack of Chuck Norris or Kurt Russell movies featured here, who’d you’d expect seeing how linked to the genre his movies are, much like Steven Segal who is also MIA and whose absence is more understandable seeing how he was the main focus of the first book, which proved so through I doubt there is much else that could be written about the man, that Vern hasn’t covered already. Still these films being so noticeable absent, does make me wonder if they are just being saved for the next volume, though honestly I would have preferred them here, rather than some of the diversions featured here (seriously Garfield !?!).

Despite a few misfire moments, this proves once again the fanboy credentials of Vern and his highly unique voice he brings to the genre, and I eagerly await the next volume which hopefully will focus more on the obscure as he frequently proves here, the more obscure or terrible a film might be the more in his element he seems to be, especially with these films providing some of the best moments of the book, including a wrestling challenge from the director of "Chaos", so I'm really hoping that he chooses to look at more of these kinds of movies in future volumes, rather than taking pot shots at the easy targets produced by the Hollywood studio system.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Imperial Bedrooms

Being a Bret Easton Ellis fan is certainly not the easiest of things to be, especially when he takes such a leisurely attitude to writing new books, even more so when you compare him to many other authors who are churning out a new book a year, while us fans of Mr. Ellis have been having to wait five long years for the release of this latest title “Imperial Bedrooms” the sequel to his debut novel “Less than Zero” the events of which it now follows on from twenty five years later as Clay, self absorbed and vapid as ever is now a successful screenwriter based in New York, returns to LA with the intent of casting for his latest film adaptation, only to find himself once again caught up in various plots and schemes of his former friends.

Having created an alternate biography for himself with “Lunar Park” it is interesting to see that he has continued to blur the lines, between the fictional world and the real world, as the opening describes “Less Than Zero” as being the result of a character known only as “the writer” who used the lives of Clay and his friends as inspiration for the book, while also taking shots at the film adaptation, which for as fans of the original novel who have seen it, will already know was wildly different from the novel, much like “American Psycho” which didn’t seem to bother the majority of horror fans and despite still being a watchable film, still felt like a heavily sterilised version of the book, which along with “The Rules of Attraction” still remains one of my favourite books that he has written, unlike “Less Than Zero” which despite being a good book, was certainly not one of my favourites, while as an author he remains an important influence on my own writing, having been one the authors, along with Chuck Palahniuk and Hunter S. Thompson who made me want to become a writer in the first place.

One of the main questions I had about this book was mainly whether “Less Than Zero” really needed a sequel, especially when it always felt a very self contained book, with the build up toward Clay escaping LA with the intention of never coming back. Yet it’s possibly how linked it is to the 80’s like John Hughes movies and "The Brat Pack" that brought about the decision to bring the story into the 00’s especially with it’s numerous references to Iphones and Viral videos, which appear throughout only helping to bring the story up to date, while the original characters it seems have remained largely the same, having it seems only increased their social statuses in the time which has elapsed between the two books. Still the usual suspects return once again, as memorable as they were before, with their behaviour only seemly gotten worse in the years which have passed since we last met them, with Blair and Trent now involved in a loveless marriage, while Julian has moved on from being a low level rent boy, to now running his own exclusive escort service and finally Rip is as ever still a lurking presence in their lives, as he continues to run his own personal schemes, with the lives of the characters all based in the Hollywood studio system and the production of “The Listeners”, which provides their newest playground and replacing the party scene, which provided the back drop of the original novel.

The main difference between the two books though would be largely in the style, he has chosen to write each of them in, with “Less Than Zero” being memorably almost plot free and like a string of encounters, only loosely strung together, while “Imperial Bedrooms” being heavily plot driven, with Clay becoming embroiled in a plot surrounding a young actress called Rain Turner, whom it soon turns out shares more of a link with Clays past than it would first seem, as he uses her affection for him, which he is fully aware of being her attempt to earn a role in this latest adaptation “The Listeners”, whose title a nod perhaps to the 2009 adaptation of his short story collection “The Informers”. Still this change in style feels like it is working against the book, with fans of the original books no doubt expecting to find more of the same, only to instead find Ellis attempting to bring the style he developed in “Lunar park” into this latest book and despite having a strong opening, it soon feels like a pulpy noir novel and despite having the occasional trademark flourish, ends up being bogged down with ponderous plotting and a bombardment of product placement, which fails to envelop the reader in the same way his previous books did, even the mysterious blue jeep stalking Clay has a feeling of Déjà vu, worrying make it seem like he may have peaked as a writer, further more by his comments made during a recent interview on (aka “The Cult) in which he expressed his interests of moving into writing for Television, while a scene involving two hookers towards the end of the book almost feels like a last ditch effort, to insert some of the shock factor which made his previous books so memorable into this latest title, as no doubt this book is set to become one of the more forgotten titles in his back catalogue rather than being ranked amongst his best works.
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