Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Moments #1 - Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans (2009)

Moments of transcendent filmic perfection (aka shit that made me chuckle).......

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans (2009)
Director: Werner Herzog
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Val Kilmer, Eva Mendes, etc.

In between bouts of slapping around grannies, sweating with back pain, losing money betting on sports and stealing (and consuming) copious amounts of drugs Lt. Terence McDonagh (Nic Cage) gets in a bit of actual police work; while surveilling a building across the street with fellow officers he notices something a little out of place in the apartment -

Terence McDonagh: [Hallucinating] What are these fuckin' iguanas doing on my coffee table.
Stevie Pruit: There ain't no iguana.
Terence McDonagh: ...Yeah, there are.
Stevie Pruit: There ain't no iguana.
Terence McDonagh: What the fuck is that?
[taps it]
Terence McDonagh: Fuckin' iguana.
Iguana: [Singing] Please release me, let me go. For I don't love you anymore.


Sunday, 28 March 2010

Competition CLOSED - The Antichrist (Anchor Bay) R1 DVD Giveaway

Competition Closed. Winner: Sandy in England, YGM!

Wanna win The Antichrist (Anchor Bay) R1 DVD reviewed below?

Got just the one to give away.

All you have to do is answer these three cult movie questions

1) What's the name of the film featured in my Midnight Special banner above?
2) What connects this film to TV's The Simpsons.
3) What connects this film to TV's Dexter.

E-mail your answers to:

Winner will be chosen at random in 7 days time.

The Antichrist (1974)

The Antichrist (1974)
aka L'anticristo
Director: Alberto De Martino
Cast: Carla Gravina, Mel Ferrer, Anita Strindberg, Umberto Orsini, Alida Valli, Remo Girone, etc.

Absolutely bonkers spaghetti-Exorcist rip-off made less than 6 months after Friedkins' original busted genre box office records.

Ippolita (Carla Gravina) has been crippled since a childhood car accident but doctors can't find anything physically wrong with her (other than being a freckly po-faced ginge obviously). In her desperation to find a cure she visits a sweaty, culty backroom, touch-the-holy-relic-heal-yourself type event along with her father Massimo (Mel Ferrer) but she stumbles and falls on her way to touch the statue. Bit strange that she doesn't get another go really, is it only one attempt per person then? She just kinda gets up and leaves. Oh and a demonically possessed bloke (got some green shit on the side of his mouth, that's how you can tell) isn't having any of it, he gets the hell out of there, runs up a wee hill and jumps off into a terrible little bit of rear projection FX that makes him look like he's flying Flash Gordon Hawkman-style down the hill.

Flash! A-aaaaaaarghhhhhh!

Ippolita grumbles and mumbles about how she's never gonna get a shag all the way back home in the back of daddy's limo to the family mansion where her nanny/housekeeper Irene (Alida Valli) and androgynous brother Filippo (Remo Girone) wait with bated breath. Nope she's still in the wheelchair, oh well better luck next time!

Listen honey I need me some sweet lovin, you in or out?

At a party the next day Ippolita meets Dr Marcello Sinibaldi (Umberto Orsini) a psychiatrist that seems to think he can use hypnosis to cure her psychologically and thus physically. During this regression therapy Ippolita relives the car accident but Sinibaldi makes her go further back to a past life in which she was a heretic witch (same actress but blonde and slutty, nice) that was put on trial by the church. Nice flashbacks here, was it the distant past or a post-apocalyptic Brazil-ian dystopia - the decor makes it unclear. Quacktastic Dr Sinibaldi starts spouting complete bollocks at this point "Yes we can cure this woman by clearing up the trauma of her ancestor. You see the personality of a dead person can live on in another person at an unconscious level, especially if that person is marginally psychic like Ippolita".

That sound is David Cronenberg jackin it...........

Turns out she might just be a bit psychic after all though because around about this time Massimo's getting frisky with his Swedish student Greta (Anita Strindberg, well who wouldn't) and Ippolita is 'feeling it' - boy has she got some daddy issues! Cue a brilliantly realised little surreal dream/past-life-memory sequence that cuts between Strindberg getting naked, Ippolita writhing about in ecstasy on her four poster bed (also naked) under a rear projection blue sky and blonde witch Ippolita (yup, naked again) taking part in a bizarre orgy in a graveyard. Over the wall crazy shit in this sequence includes the ripping apart of a frog (Gravina eats the head) can I put this....let's just say Ippolita tosses a mean goat salad, daaaaaaaaamn! Felt a sudden urge to scrub my tongue with bleach after this scene. Oh plus the invisible man rape bit seen here long before Verhoeven's Hollow Man or Babs Hershey in The Entity for that matter.

I think she's had enough. Who's the designated driver tonight Bob?

All this gets Ippo going apparently because no sooner has she showered (and hopefully brushed her teeth) than she's out the door and grabbing herself a blonde-haired toyboy to hump silly during a tour of the coliseum - she's quite the shag apparently as the poor boy ends up with his head twisted all the way around!

Damn she was good!

After another sesh with Dr Bollocks we're told she is now cured and indeed she does get up and walk! Let's celebrate with some dinner. The festivities don't last long however as Ippo starts choking on meat, drooling and talking about cock quite a bit. Guess who's come to dinner......legs akimbo on the table, that can't be hygienic. Hilarious dialogue here from Dr Bollocks; "It's all in her mind" he shouts amidst a Fantasia-like scene of flying paintings and plates. Hell even the furniture's trying to get the fuck out of there and has to be held down! It's shortly after this that the doc decides he's had enough and bows out of the picture - what a guy, he's brought out bloody Satan; might as well have pulled his trousers down and dropped a steaming turd on their persian rug and now he's apologetically sidling out of the front door.

Dammit I always burn my mouth on those McDonald's apple pies!

Housekeeper Irene however is made of sterner stuff. After spotting Ippo getting a little incestuous with creepy sibling manchild Filippo she decides enough is enough and heads down to the village to hire a badass local 'fixer' or skeezy old tramp that knows a few demon banishing tricks so....

**ding, ding** Round One. Trampy McExorcist Vs Satan. Trampy gets off to a good start with some voodoo doll pricking. But no; Satan was just pretending to be affected and laughs at him. Trampy pulls out his essential oils and starts daubing Ippo. Satan responds by disconnecting Ippo's arm and having it strangle Trampy from all the way across the room. Trampy's on the ropes now. Satan pulls out all the stops and makes Ippo levitate (very unconvincingly) out of the window and then back into the room, wow! To top it all off Ippo spits out some green shit and makes Trampy lick it out the palm of her hand. DEFEAT!

Aren't I lucky, I got a chunky bit!

**ding, ding** Round Two. The Bishop (of PAIN) Vs Satan. In goes Ippo's uncle Bishop Ascanio Oderisi (Arthur Kennedy, slumming it). The Bishop has a poor showing here, nervous and sweaty from the start he can't handle the pressure and all it really takes is a few insults, the setting on fire of his bible and the sight of Ippo's vadge to make him run out of the room and call the Vatican for assistance. DEFEAT!

Muff said.........

**ding, ding** Round Three. The Austrian Monk Vs Satan. They've called in the sandal clad beast that is Father Mittner (George Coulouris) to put an end to the horned one. By now poor Ippo looks pretty much like Gollum in a nightie and she's taken to controlling her wheelchair with her mind (so it's Satan that powers Patrick Stewart's chair in X-Men, I knew it!) and she's got a wind machine and a seemingly endless stream of 45 rpm singles to throw at this old geezer. He also takes Irene in for backup, good call seeing as she gets the faceful of green shit this time.

Phew, that was close!

I won't spoil the end for you. I will say it involves a huge wooden cross and the first ever Catholic church approved abortion. Yes she did shag Bowie wannabe Filippo, no matter how much he shakes his head, we know he did it.

Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Over the top Exorcist clone - stop being silly and trying to compare this one to The Exorcist web reviewers - enjoy it for what it is. Cinematography by Aristide Massaccesi (that's right Joe D'Amato himself), score by Ennio Morricone & Bruno Nicolai! And featuring a veritable who's who of genre talent.

Friday, 26 March 2010

My Dear Killer (1972) - Shameless DVD #11

My Dear Killer (1972)
aka Mio caro assassino
Director: Tonino Valerii
Cast: George Hilton, Salvo Randone, William Berger, Marilù Tolo, Piero Lulli.

Whats this? A giallo with a power saw killing that I haven't seen? Inconceivable! (Yes I watched Princess Bride again recently, what of it!) Nice cover, well the one with the power saw, the other one looks like a visual representation of tedium. I recognise the director's name from multiple viewings of the Dollar's trilogy as well as My Name Is Nobody but there's nary a nag in sight here. OK let's get watching....

A nice day by the lake becomes a nice pre-credits decapitation sequence as insurance investigator Paradisi (moron) fails to notice the murderous intentions of the bloke in the bulldozer behind him.

Ow, ow, ow, owieeee, ow.

Enter super sleuth Inspector Luca Peretti (George Hilton aka The Tache) and his grizzled can't-be-arsed old sidekick Maro. Peretti instantly deduces that there's been some foul play and he's gonna investigate the shit out of it!

There's bin a murrrrrder! (RIP Mark McManus)

Starting with the filthy old gyppo and his cadaverous girlfriend that live near the lake. He get's sweet FA from these two except unsolicited info on their sex lives (shudder) so he moves on. But first it's dinner with the wife and surely there's some sort of bi-polarity going on with this couple - marvel at the speed with which they go from laughing over dinner to chucking insults at each other to trying to make a baby via the most awkward onscreen kissing ever filmed!

Any old iron............

Turns out Paradisi was onto something relating to the kidnapping and death of a little girl and her father which opens up a whole new line of enquiry for The Tache. Faced with further explaining the plot I find I'd rather slice my fingers off with a rusty by suffice to say it's long on complications and sadly short on inventive killings; a hanging, a strangling and a powersaw that needs sharpening as it doesn't seem to actually slice the skin. The inimitable Tache does a lot of pacing, looking concerned, talking to suspects and babbling inconsequentially with his pal Maro (lots of very Italian hand gestures permeate these supposedly expositionary interludes).

Dance monkey boy, dance!

He also seems to have a softspot for kiddie fiddlers; while questioning sweaty sculptor Beniamino (who hereafter shall be known as Sculpty McPedo) The Tache spectacularly does nothing when he sees a naked pre-pubescent child walking around Scultpy's studio. He just kinda stares at Sculpty, walks away, turns, stares some more, walks away. That's your tax dollars hard at work right there people of whatever-city-this-movie-is-set-in. Similarly later on he's questioning another suspect and tells him that if he talks we'll tear up the report on that previous little incident when he was caught in bed with a 12 year old! Wait...WHAAAT? I was shocked and offended! Then I noticed the 70's style purple, yellow and brown curtains and was violently sick all over myself. This scene does however feature the best line of the film as The Tache threatens his suspect's bodyguard "Don't try it baldy. Gorillas nearly always end up in the zoo".

Another memorable bit of dialogue; The Tache's line to the grieving mother as she shows him her little girls photograph - "Hmmm, yes it's a remarkable likeness" - I'll be using that whenever I'm shown baby pictures from now on, genius! Anyway; more sleuthing, more chatting, more baby making - although he does stop mid-hump to phone Maro and chat some more.

I was just fucking my wife and it came to me!

Things do eventually reach a conclusion with an Agatha Christie style drawing room roundup as The Tache finally gets to play the part of his uber-tached hero Poirot. He saunters around the room revelling in his 15 minutes of fame while the poor suspects sit there thinking please just get on with it. Sculpty McPedo is there as well having a little shitfit on the sofa, dry cleaning will be necessary. Things go all Inspector Clouseau in the last few seconds as The Tache finally gets to the point and reveals the worst piece of evidence in cinematic history EVER and the lights go out! Then go back on! The killer has dived behind a sofa for some reason and is crying like a baby. THE END.

So not what I was expecting at all really. Basically an Italian-style 70's whodunnit with a mild spattering of gore and some Argento-gialli influenced (black gloved killer's POV) murders. Morricone's score is so understated that I missed it! Dare I say it was all a bit boring.....

The zit wasn't ready for bursting.

**Spoilers** Why didn't headless first victim Paradisi recognise the one armed killer, he'd met him before hadn't he? At the very least wasn't he concerned about having a one armed bloke operating heavy machinery? Told you he was a moron, thought I was just being cheeky didn't you!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Flavia The Heretic (1974) - Shameless DVD #07

Dipping yet again into my pile of unwatched, unloved trash this week another of Shameless Screen Entertainment's lovely lurid yellow covers poked through and screamed to finally be viewed........

Flavia, The Heretic (1974)
aka Flavia, la monaca musulmana
Director: Gianfranco Mingozzi
Cast: Florinda Balkan, Anthony Higgins, etc.

First off kudos to Shameless for the reversible dvd cover, I went for the one on the right!

Fifteenth century Italy; Muslims Vs Christians, a precocious Christian girl, Flavia, watches the battle and catches the eye of a young Muslim soldier, hello sailor, her father notices and decapitates the heretic, his head wasn't in the game apparently. The girl then gets sent to a convent. A short Cell Block H-style montage later and Flavia's all grown up (into Florinda Balkan of Lizard In A Woman's Skin & Candy cult fame) - she's not ecstatic about being a nun though.


The flying nuns forgot their parachutes again!

Things liven up for the cloistered when the cult of the tarantula comes a-calling, essentially a squad of drugged up hippies that gatecrash the monastery and proceed to hump the walls and make a general nuisance of themselves while singing the 'tarantula song' before being ejected. Unfortunately one of the nuns succumbed to the lure of the tarantula (she of the left dvd cover) and got a bit sweaty. The punishment for this? Five Hail Marys and three Our Fathers...nah only joking, it's torture and death of course (via scalding and nipple slicing)!


Flavia's serious face.

Flavia's had enough of this male dominated religion, world, post-apocalyptic wasteland (well it might as well be) so legs it out of the convent with her father's Jewish accountant, in no time at all they're both caught and Flavia is flogged, she got off lightly IMHO after what happened to the last penguin. A little while later Flavia goes on a trip to market with batshit crazy Sister Anges and her big stick. Agnes' brief lesson in public urination and masturbation is cut short however when those crazy Muslims attack again. Flavia understandably figures WTF, how bad can they be compared to the Christians she knows and despises already so before you can shout HERETIC! she's jumped on a horse with diminutive pretty boy Muslim Ahmed (Anthony Higgins, wasn't he in Law & Order UK last week, he was!) and eventually off the horse and into the sack. Despite basically telling Ahmed he's a crap shag she still convinces him to help her get her revenge. Scenes of depravity ensue at the convent as the Muslims provide the nuns with hallucinogenic drugs and everyone loses their shit in grand style.


Sister Livia - convent hide and seek champion 1462

Wimples-a-go-go night soon becomes whoops-everyones-dead morning and Flavia rides out with Ahmed to finally confront her father. She kits herself out in armour and weilds a sword because you know she's had all that weapons training, wait I mean nun training? Anyway I won't spoil it for you but let's just say things don't go great for Flay-via in the end!


OK I will spoil it for you.

By the look of it I was all set for a bit of medieval style nunsploitation but I was pleasantly surprised by this one in that it takes things a little more seriously than your average Italian exploitation flicks of the time, or at least it tries to. The cinematography, effective haunting melody and Balkan's acting are all quite good. The attempts at serious feminism become somewhat laughable however in a film containing this much copious female nudity and sexual torture. The men in the film don't exactly get off lightly either with a couple of spike-meet-bottom situations and even a horse de-bollocking thrown in for metaphorical good measure.

Might have to try a few more of these Shameless titles...........Sister Livia agrees........


Mmmmm, jam.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Church (1989)

Still reeling from the slack-jawed snoozefest that was Survival Of The Dead I dejectedly plunged my hand into a pile of unsorted horror dvds safe in the firm belief that no matter what I ended up with I'd definitely seen worse. Clutched in my palsied grip was the Anchor Bay release of -

The Church (1989)
Director: Michele Soavi
Cast: Hugh Quarshie, Tomas Arana, Asia Argento, Barabara Cupisti, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, etc.

Late 80's Argento produced, Michele Soavi directed slice of Italian atmos-horror.

It all kicks off in medieval times with a Pythonesque band of Teutonic Knights (one of em looks like a reject from the new romantic wave) clopping around looking for some people to slaughter. Lucky for them here comes a stinky tramp, no wait, it's a priest with some intel on the location of a pagan sect ripe for killing so off they go. Brief bit of checking that the harmless looking hippies are indeed evil incarnate, cross burned into the foot of one of em, check, let's get beheading lads! General consensus seems to be that a church built over the mass graves will prevent the demonic hippies from coming back to life, any excuse to cover up an atrocious war crime really. Oh and there's a wicker-basket-masked little thing running about that turns out to be pre-pubescent pug faced little munter Asia Argento, put the mask back on her!

I'm not evil, really I'm not!

Cut to the present, look at that big old medieval church, oooh scary. Tomas Arana plays Evan, an incredibly boring librarian with an Indiana Jones complex and no sexual chemistry at all, especially with love interest Lisa (Barbara Cupisti) - he's come to catalogue the church's many ancient texts and awkwardly try and get into Lisa's pants.

Wait, what are we looking at again?

Asia Argento, confusingly, is still about as well, this time as Lotte the sacristan's daughter, often sneaking out at night in what I imagine is an attempt to get most of the city's male population locked up for statutory rape, she's only 14. We're also introduced to the church's holy trinity of priests; favourite genre victim Giovanni Lombardo Radice, cranky old bishop Feodor Chaliapin Jr. and (I shit you not) Holby City's very own Dr Ric Griffin (Hugh Quarshie) as Father Gus, he enjoys a spot of archery when he's not preaching to the perverted.

Asia. Not 14 in this picture.

Anyway before you know it Evan's found a the basement unfortunately for everyone. Aaaaand here comes the evil.


Cue Evan being strangled by hands sprouting forth from an old sack, but not really, and Evan pulling his heart out thru his stomach, but not really and other things apparently happening but not really - hallucinations it seems. A two minute scene in this section of the film tickled me pink - Lisa kneels uncomfortably on her bed messily eating jam sandwiches when she hears a noise outside. It's only an animatronic demonic (probably lesbionic) goat creature licking the window pane, likely craving some jam. It smashes it's way in, she legs it into the bathroom with her phone, calls the old bill and then without warning promptly does a spectacular header out a closed window landing without a scratch in her back garden where she is assailed terrifyingly by a tartan blanket and stumbles into the swiftest coppers in movie history - brilliant scene, should be put out as a short movie. Round about this time Evan's in his office bashing 6666666 out on his typewriter and sweating like a rapist when in walks Asia Argento, he tries, she legs it, I assume demonic possession will be his defence, the dirty bastard.

Mmmmm, jam.

Back at the church Father Gus is having words with old codger priest, on the rooftop, in the pounding rain, in gale force wind, whoops there goes the old man over the side, "whhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyy" cries Gus, well duh! Turns out the church has a lockdown mechanism that's been put into action just in case the evil reawakened or something so the place is now locked down tighter than an otters pocket with an assortment of tourists inside (if this bit seems reminiscent of Demons that'll be because this flick was originally envisaged as Demons 3). The shit hits the fan at this point with a demonic piranha jumping out of the holy water, a green winged demon looking for love, the impalement of a speccy teacher, a bride's face melting off, an industrial accident involving a jackhammer, an OAP using her hubbies severed head to bash a bell and a woman being hit full in the face by an express train. Oh and the reappearance of goatman who finally gets lucky with Lisa.....on an altar.....while people watch. Unfortunately spoilsport Father Gus has figured out how to hit the sweetspot - the mechanism that will bring down the whole church to protect the outside world from eeeevil - and he promptly does so, putting an end to a real shitkicker of a soiree that I was just beginning to enjoy dammit!

Is it in yet?

With 8 credited writers and Argento (put my daughter in the film, now put my lover in the film!) reportedly breathing down Soavi's neck for most of the shoot it's shocking that this film isn't just a complete and total mess - it's actually fun and, for the first half at least, reasonably well made and atmospheric. And so very much better than Survival Of The Dead.....

So that's good night from me and good night from goatman.......

Hi ma, I'm in pictures!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Coming Soon: City of the Living Dead (R2/UK BD) in May

Fulci classic City of the Living Dead will be released on two-disc DVD (£17.99) and single-disc Blu-ray (£22.99). The full list of extras is as follows:
  • Newly recorded audio commentary by actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice
  • Audio commentary by actress Catriona MacColl and author Jay Slater
  • Introduction to the film by star Carlo De Mejo
  • ‘Carlo Of The Living Dead featurette
  • ‘The Many Lives And Deaths Of Giovanni Lombardo Radice’ featurette
  • ‘Dame Of The Dead’ featurette
  • ‘Fulci’s Daughter: Memories Of The Italian Gore Maestro’ featurette
  • ‘Penning Some Paura’ featurette
  • ‘Profondo Luigi: A Colleague’s Memories Of Lucio Fulci’ featurette
  • Catriona MacCall and Giovanni Lombardo Radice Q&A session at the Glasgow Film Theatre
  • ‘Fulci In The House – The Italian Master Of Splatter’ featurette.

UK exclusive features directed by Calum Waddell and edited and produced by Naomi Holwill with associate producer Nick Frame.

Avoid: Survival Of The Dead (2009)

Couple of days ago a friend asked me if this was any good. I stopped, brain frozen, a simple NO just doesn't do this one justice. I eventually replied it's bloodyfuckingawful. So disheartened am I by this epic turkey I can't even face doing a full review so I'm just making a few comments.

I once read that Stephen King's rambling overlong novels stem from the fact that editors are pretty much scared to edit him these days, he is after all a ridiculously successful author. Has something similar happened to George A. Romero perhaps? Why wasn't this script thrown out the minute it mentioned two Irish families squabbling over how to treat the undead on their little island. Or a zombie girl riding a horse. What's with the terrible acting? Cheap local Canadian casting I guess but come on - this is a Romero zombie flick! They might've had trouble recruiting A-list Hollywood talent but you're telling me genre stalwarts like Tony Todd and Jeffrey Coombs weren't on standby just begging for a part in this?

Besides a handful of inventive CG gore effects this one is truly worthless. As for the knowing attempts at humour, pah! Go rent Zombieland again. On the upside at least this one makes Diary Of The Dead and particularly Land Of The Dead seem like masterpiece's in retrospect.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Top Ten - Zombie Flicks

If there's one thing I hate more than blogs, it's top ten lists. So in a wholly appropriate act of perversity here's a top ten list of zombie flicks posted on my blog......

You won't find anything from the last decade on this list, as good as the likes of Rec and 28 Days Later might be they aren't classics yet IMHO. I'm also choosing to leave out foreign made flicks like Fulci's The Beyond as I feel they don't really fit this genre (they need a list all of their own), ah hell let's subtitle this Top Ten US/Canadian Zombie Flicks, OK, you happy now? See why I don't like Top Ten lists?

10. Night Of The Living Dead (Tom Savini, 1990)
Romero scripted pro-feminist colour remake. Pretty good.

9. The Serpent And The Rainbow (Wes Craven, 1987)
Bill Pullman gets zombified by demented Haitian chief of police.

8. Rabid (David Cronenberg, 1976)
Real-life porn diva Marilyn Chambers becomes the undead's very own Typhoid Mary.

7. Carnival Of Souls (Herk Harvey, 1962)
Dysfunctional female organist drifts through nightmare limbo of arthouse fun-fair expressionism.

6. Phantasm (Don Coscarelli, 1978)
Brilliantly incomprehensible dwarf zombie-in-a-can, funeral parlour space mystery. "Boooooooy!"

5. The Evil Dead (Sam Raimi, 1982)
Raimi's hardcore first effort. Still pretty scary.

4. Day Of The Dead (George A Romero, 1985)
Mad scientist attempts to avert the apocalypse by getting zombies to read Stephen King novels. For some reason this plan is not entirely successful.

3. Dawn Of The Dead (George A Romero, 1979)
America eats it's own in shopping mall hell.

2. Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (Sam Raimi, 1987)
Originally intended to be entitled Evil Dead 2: Who's Laughing Now, Raimi's sequel/remake comes on like the goriest movie the Three Stooges never made. With whiplash-inducing camerawork and dialogue reduced to a bare minimum - "Tool shed!" "Let's go!" - luckless hero Ash is once again trapped in a remote cottage (previously used in The Colour Purple) and assailed by demons that can only be despatched by "the act of bodily dismemberment". Raimi neatly gets around censors by replacing the Deadites' blood with gooey green slime and smoke, enabling him to fill the screen with flying body parts. That's not to say Evil Dead 2 is anaemic - anything but: the blood still flows, but out of more traditional places such as the human victims and, of course, the walls. Despite a very slight return to form in 2009's Drag Me To Hell it seems unlikely that Raimi will ever replicate these grand guignol excesses.
Best Bit: Ash getting his act together A-Team style, fitting his stump with a chainsaw: "Groovy!"

1. Night Of The Living Dead (George A Romero, 1969)
In the winter of 1968 - with no script, no professional actors and just $6000, mostly donated by a butcher that also provided the entrails - Pittsburgh art student George A Romero made the most influential horror film of the last 40 years. Like Hitchcock's psycho, Romero moved out of mythic darkness and into the bleached daylight of modern America. The film's plot - small group of people holed up in a farmhouse are besieged by flesh-eating zombies - is of less interest than what Romero does with it. A visually ugly, documentary-style welt of gore-realism, Night Of The Living Dead presents a nightmare world of no law, no order and no good-triumphing-over-evil. It also took horror into the realm of the political. Ben, the notional hero, is black. All the zombies are white. When white vigilantes finally come to the 'rescue' their advance looks just like another zombie attack. The films in it's wake were often gorier and occasionally more professional - but this is still the most terrifying one of all.
Best Bit: Romero's comment on the American family unit: a little zombie girl stabs her mother with a trowel. And then eats her.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Avoid: Possession (2009)


Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lee Pace & Michael Landes.

Surely the dumbest film of 2010!

Despite being completed in 2007 and shelved due to the company's bankruptcy this film finally gets a straight to dvd release this month.

Jessica (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Ryan (Michael Landes) are soulmates who have just hit their one year wedding anniversary and are still as sickeningly in love as they have ever been, he writes her love letters constantly, she looks at him longingly every chance she gets. The one little fly in their love ointment seems to be Ryan's brother Roman (lanky Lee Pace from TV's Pushing Daisies totally unconvincing here as a hard man) a tattooed up ex-con that's living with them and seems to fancy Jessica, well she finds him a bit creepy, what with all his moody leaning against the wall smoking and the like, so looks like he's gonna get booted out of the house. He's way ahead of her of course, packing his bags and out the door before you can say sexual tension. His brother goes after him and BOOM! the assholes collide with each other in the worlds most unfeasible car accident on the golden gate bridge and both end up in life-threatening comas.

Cue lots of weeping and re-reading of stacks of love letters and looking at photos, etc from Jessica until a few months later when Roman comes out of the coma. Can you guess? Can you? Yup, bad boy Roman insists he is actually loverboy Ryan. He's got no other family so Jessica takes him home where he continues to insist he's actually her husband. He's all sensitive now, he knows things that only Ryan would know, hell he doesn't even smoke or swear anymore! This definitive evidence soon convinces Jessica that her hubby's soul must have migrated into his brother's taller hunkier body and proceeds to get it on with bro-in-law married style. It all goes swimmingly until a visit from Roman's masochistic ex-girlfriend and her mysterious disappearance shortly thereafter plus some guff about a necklace finally leads Jessica to suspect that maybe Roman is talking shite after all. But how could he know all those things? HOW? It's not like there's a written history of Jessica and Ryan's relationship in love letter form complete with annotated photos and collected trinkets - D'OH!

Yeah it really is that dumb....

The final act unconvincingly throws in a little bit of a supernatural story element but it's too late, the audience has left. So ends another Buffy-centric Asian thriller remake (Jungdok from back in 2002 for those interested), I hope she doesn't get coaxed into doing anymore. To be fair at least this one wasn't as coma-inducing as her previous attempt at a very similar story (2006's The Return) although it does reprise and extend the theme of Buffy looking morose while slooooooowly walking down corridors as if something might jump out at any second (but never does).

Avoid at all costs folks, it's bad enough I had to suffer through this.........

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Monday, 1 March 2010

Bad Timing

Glasgow Frightfest 2010 - Day Two - Five Films

Glasgow Frightfest 2010, Day Two, Sat 27th Feb - Glasgow Film Theatre

**No spoilers here, just a brief review of each film.**

I didn't bother with day one as it was only 3 films; one of which I've seen and 2 of which I couldn't care less about. By all accounts all 3 were crap and the most eventful part of the night was a drunken fight that broke out during the final film Stag Night, how appropriate.

Anyway on to day two; we kicked off about 2pm with a welcome from Alan Jones and a round of Trailer Trash. Hilariously bad movies of yesteryear included -

70's Hong Kong actioner and Lazenby/Bond cash-in Stoner

70's aussie exploitation thriller Outback

and 80's sci-fi insanity The Time Guardian

Then we're into the first film of the day..........

Lizard In A Woman's Skin (1971)

Early Giallo from euro-trash goremeister Lucio Fulci and one of his best films in my humble opinion. Here we are being treated to a preview of the most complete cut of the film (soon to be released on DVD) containing all elements brought together from the previous versions in an attempt to make up for the failure that was the Shriek Show DVD release.

Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan) suffers from vivid and disturbing dreams involving sex, murder and debauchery. One particularly vibrant dream involves a sapphic encounter with her hedonistic party girl neighbour, Julia Durer (Anita Strindberg), ending in Julia's death. The next day, when Julia is in fact found dead with Carol's coat and knife on the scene, Carol is immediatley the prime suspect. Her husband, Frank (Jean Sorel), and her father (Leo Genn), set out to prove her innocence, but with even Carol wondering if she did in fact kill Julia, answers are clearly not going to come easily. Adding further confusion to the mix are a couple of hippies who seem intent on doing away with Carol, her mysterious step-daughter Joan (Ely Galleani), and the canny whistling Inspector Corvin (Stanley Baker), who suspects that there is more to this mystery than meets the eye.

Fulci shows restraint in this psychedelic tale of murder, obsession and creepy hippies and it really does work for him here as this becomes almost the flipside to Argento's over-stylised, black-gloved Gialli - it's patchy 70's combos of dialogue, action and fast zooms only adding to it's charm. I hadn't seen this one in over a decade, certainly never in a wonderful festival atmosphere like this in which every line of unintentionally hilarious dialogue elicits roars of laughter from the audience..........

- "Round up every redhead, make sure not one gets through."
- "Lucky we're not in Ireland."

- "That neighbor of yours that makes all the noise, what's happened to her?"
- "She was murdered."
- "I'm not surpised."

- "Nobody else saw two hippies!"

After the lead actress (taking some time to relax in a voluntary mental institute) stumbles into a nightmarish room containing vivisected but still seemingly alive dogs, flayed, hanging from the walls, the doctor tells our shell-shocked heroine.....
- "I'm terribly sorry, that door should have been locked."

The superb dream sequences set to Ennio Morricone's trippy score (his only collaboration with Fulci) looked stunning on the big screen as do the leading ladies Bolkan and Strindberg, faces made for film. Frankly I would have been happy sitting through five gialli in a row but hey the next film on the list is a critically acclaimed homage to these classics of cult cinema, Alan Jones has just told us how much he enjoyed it, sounds great right?...........

Amer (2009)

Belgian made homage to the Giallo genre, introduced by co-directors Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani.

Plot synopsis from IMDB - Three key moments, all of them sensual, define Ana's life. Her carnal search sways between reality and colored fantasies becoming more and more oppressive. A black laced hand prevents her from screaming. The wind lifts her dress and caresses her thighs. A razor blade brushes her skin, where will this chaotic and carnivorous journey leave her?

If you think that synopsis is hazy you should try watching the damn thing. Rule #1 of film festival survival; get an aisle seat. I foolishly got up after the first film and promptly lost my prime spot to a big hairy biker bloke and his tatted-up missus. Boy did I regret it. Essentially trapped into my corner seat I was forced to endure this excruciatingly interminable exercise in student wankerism. I'm sure it was only 90 mins or the like but it felt like bloody years!

Don't get me wrong, it's no exaggeration to say that every single frame of this film is a lovingly crafted homage to the classic Gialli, a genre which I dearly love by the way. Every shot is beautiful, technically brilliant, the same goes for the soundtrack. But it essentially feels like a short film that just won't end or an overly pretentious Renualt Clio advert that refuses to get to the sales pitch. Amongst all the relentless homaging they seem to have forgotten the most obvious element of the thriller genre - a bloody story! Yes, yes; it's an existential, dreamlike fantasy/nightmare of twisted repressed desire but does it absolutely have to be so tedious? And that opinion is coming from a die-hard fan of Tarkovsky and Béla Tarr! The first 30 mins is a little girl's POV as she creeps around a big house, doors slam, close-ups of eyes at keyholes, mouths, feet stomping, in fact it started to feel a bit like Stomp were in the house! I would have left the theatre before the end of the first act to seek out some food as it is I was fated to sit through act two in which said little girl is now a teen and goes a walk with her mother, bumps into some bikers - that's another 30 mins right there. And into the final act - girl now a woman returns to the creepy house she grew up in and is terrorised all too briefly by a black-gloved serial killer [please I beg you, kill that pouting gap toothed bitch now]. Cue some close up face slashing and an attempt at flossing with a straight razor aaaand we're spent.

I've no doubt that film critics/students will love this one and dissect it for years to come. I decided to leave the theatre before the Q&A with the directors began for fear I might actually go down and dissect one of them physically. Apparently the title translates as Bitter, how very succinct. Nice poster, shame about the movie.

After some food and a round of slag the Belgian (directors, that is) we headed back with the firm belief that things couldn't get any worse............

Wrong again it seems, although to be fair, this particular little bit of awfulness only lasted about 20 mins. Jake West, he of Evil Aliens and Razor Blade Smile fame(?) comes on all cowboy boots and twitchy leg (looking suspiciously like an aging rocker) and proceeds to try and sell us on the tale that had it not been for studio interference his latest film Doghouse would have been some kind of grand statement about the battle of the sexes in the new millenium. As proof of this he introduces 12 mins of never-before-seen deleted scenes that essentially add up to 12 mins of cut Danny Dyer lads-mag style 'witty' one-liners and an alternate ending in which the lads get their arses out. Yeah that's told em!

Thank god it's time for what (we hope) will be the highlight of the event........

[Rec] 2 (2009)


70 mins after the events of [Rec] a SWAT team and a medical officer are sent into the zombie-virus ridden warren of a Spanish building to see what became of it's residents and the rescuers trapped inside.

Loved the first one so already sceptical about a sequel. Turns out I had nothing to worry about as what this one may have lost in originality it more than makes up for with sheer fun. The cameras recording the action this time are split between a group of teens' camcorder and those attached to the helmets of the SWAT team making for an Aliens type firstperson horror setup, the creatures can now crawl along the ceilings xenomorph-style as well, nice. Add in a scarred-up shotgunning priest on a mission from God [and the Vatican], a few annoying teens as satisfying zombie fodder (one of them a particularly poor shot!), some inventive gore and a few belly laugh moments for the audience and you can forgive most of the derivative elements from The Exorcist, etc, especially given it's short running time of 80 mins - this one certainly doesn't outstay it's welcome. Only slight groan moment from me was in the resurrection of the nightvision camera and it's reason for being 'useful'. Also didn't hurt that the lead SWAT guy looked like a Spanish Vic Mackey.

All in all definitely the most crowd-pleasing movie of the event. Some fans of the first movie may not appreciate the mutation that the story takes in this one but I liked it and was pleasantly surprised by it, can't wait to see where it leads in [Rec] 3.

After having our faith restored by this movie we were in a somewhat better mood to receive our next special guest; Neil Marshall (director of Doomsday, Dog Soldiers, Descent, etc) and actress Axelle Carolyn, promoting their new film Centurion, the first 5 mins of which we get to see. Click on image below to enlarge. Photo courtesy of Satan's Puppet/Space Duck.


Given that a full couple of mins of this seemed to be the credits sequence we weren't expecting much but as the film fades in on Michael Fassbender running half-naked, hands tied, through the snow the film flashes us back and we are treated to a nice little Roman massacre scene. The first line of the movie bravely [given this is a Glasgow screening] being a Roman soldier bemoaning that Scotland is the arsehole of the world soon leads to a scene of carnage the first victim of which is a urinating sentinel atop the ramparts that takes a spear to his balls ['hehe right in the peas' as the spectator on my left put it] followed by various decapitations.

Which takes us through to.....................

Splice (2009)


Directed by Vincenzo Natali (director of Cube, Cypher, Nothing, etc) and starring Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody.

Rebellious geneticists Elsa and Clive defy legal and ethical boundaries and forge ahead with a dangerous experiment: splicing together human and multiple types of animal DNA to create a new organism. Named "Dren", the creature rapidly develops from a deformed infant into a beautiful but possibly dangerous chimera, which forges a dangerous bond with both of it's creators.

Seemingly marketed as a type of genetic Frankenstein movie, this is a very odd film indeed or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it becomes such as it progresses. Throughout the first and second act it's almost a parable of new parenthood, there are laughs to be had as well as some Cronenbergian gross out moments as Polley and Brody get to grips with the new life they've brought into the world. Helped by some remarkable and at times subtle CG the creature itself is quite vivid. As it grows however and apparently hits puberty the creepy factor starts to increase. The creature now played by stunning french actress/model Delphine Chanéac is to some extent sexually alluring but this isn't Natasha Henstridge in Species folks, this chick has a tale, an amphibian shaped head and, for want of a better term, T-Rex lizard legs! Natali is reported as saying that "this film has no moral boundaries", wasn't sure what he meant until Brody's big scene with the creature during the film's final act. Lucky Natali didn't show up to introduce this one (as he was meant to) because it's unlikely he would have expected the audience's reaction to this intendedly 'dramatic and shocking' scene which was outright laughter! Another violent scene at the very end of the end of the film between the creature and Polley didn't elicit laughter but a kind of groan of disgust from the audience. The final act then veers off on a very strange tangent that left me feeling somewhat mystified, uncomfortable and elated that I'd just witnessed such an insane movie. Doubt I'd want to revisit this one but to some extent I did enjoy it.


As things wind down we're treated to some more free t-shirts, dvds, posters and man-bags while they get ready to show us the final film of the night, the wonderfully titled..........

Harpoon: Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre (2009)


Introduced by two of the films actors; Miranda Hennessy (click on the image below to enlarge, photo courtesy of Satan's Puppet/Space Duck) and Terence Anderson. Featuring Gunnar Hansen this is billed as Iceland's first exploitation flick.


Take a trip to the Icelandic fjords and meet slasher horror's new genre; the fishbillies! If there's one thing these broke whalers hate more than not being able to work due to the new restrictions on whaling it's the Greenpeace ("I call them Greenpiss!") loving tourists that want to come and watch the cute whales frolic in the surf. Gunnar Hansen is the captain of the ill-fated whale watching vessel and the tourists/victims include an assortment of backpackers from the US, Germany, Korea, France and Scandinavia. Gunnar doesn't last long, impaled in an accident caused by the drunk frenchie, leaving the rest of the hapless lot to bump into the fishbillies vessel and get the murderball rolling.

This one is just splatterfest fun from start to finish, a handful of nice one-liners.....

Miranda Hennessy - "I've come to realise, well, I mean, I think, I really like you, I, I have feelings for you."
Terence Anderson - "I'm gay."

....and a shitload of messy deaths. It feels like an homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in many respects; the retarded character, the tourist boat in place of the bus, the fishbillies boat in place of the house. Also thoroughly entertaining are the cardboard cutout victims - most of them supremely selfish (apart from Anderson) and in the case of the put-upon Korean servant girl possibly more amoral than the murderous nazi fishbillies themselves!

Nice way to end the festival I thought, I'll be back for more next year!