Sunday, December 27, 2015

What I Watched - December 20-26 2015


The house move is completed but most of my DVD collection is now in storage due to my new place being very small. Managed to get in a few movies between completing the move and Christmas celebrations.

Wendigo (2001) DVD
- While most of my DVDs are in storage, I have had a few new purchases arrive in the mail at my new house, including this one. I hadn't seen this one since it came out. As a side note, I have a poster of this movie which director Larry Fessenden signed for me when I met him at Fangoria Weekend of Horrors NYC convention in 2001. The movie itself is about the Native American legend of the Wendigo, a deer-headed forest creature, but more of the plot is devoted to "fish-out-of-water" goings on involving a city family holidaying in a snowbound rural setting where some of the local yokels don't take too kindly to them. If you're familiar with Fessenden's work (in particular the pseudo-vampire flick Habit) you'll know to expect a great deal of ambiguity around the supernatural elements. Bare on the scares and gore, this one instead relies on its creepy setting and some good acting from leads Jake Weber (Dawn of the Dead remake, TV's Medium), Patricia Clarkson (Shutter Island) and Erik Per Sullivan (the youngest son on TV's Malcolm in the Middle).

Fargo (1996) VHS
- When you're in a new house with all of your possessions in boxes, it becomes a case of "what is easily accessible" and it's no different when it comes to movies. I found a box of VHS that I could easily open and pulled out this 90s gem. My girlfriend had never seen it, and having recently enjoyed The Big Lebowski, I knew she'd dig this, the Coen Brothers' immediate predecessor to that movie. I don't need to go into plot details, because I'm sure everyone has seen this quirky crime caper, but I will add a side note that it's ironic (and unintentional) that during the blaring heat of a southern hemisphere summer I watched two successive movies set in deep wintry snow.

The Ruins (2008) DVD
- Another recent (cheap) pick up to fill a gap in the collection and another I haven't revisited since its release. I remembered quite liking this one and while it didn't hold up so well to a repeat viewing, it's a passable time-waster. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but I quite liked the "nature run amok" angle and the Mayan temple itself was pretty cool. On the flip-side, I found myself constantly irritated by Jenna Malone's character and it doesn't help that she reminds me of that waste-of-oxygen Kristen Stewart.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What I Watched - December 13-19 2015


More moving house (yes I own a lot of stuff) so not much movie-watching again.

Rubble Kings (2010) Netflix
- Reading the synopsis of this one, I thought it was going to be about the rise of hip hop in New York City. But while that is covered in the last 10-15 minutes, the bulk of this documentary is about street gangs in the Big Apple from the late 1960s through to the present day, in particular the gang The Ghetto Brothers. They turned to peace and, according to this doco, made a lot of other gangs join their cause, in something of a real-life scene from The Warriors. Told via talking heads from a bunch of current and ex gang guys, with archival footage in between, this is fascinating stuff while not particularly earth-shattering.

Let Us Prey (2014) Netflix
- Pollyanna McIntosh just keeps popping up in stuff I've watched lately - Tales of Halloween, The Blood Lands and now this. That's not a complaint, as she's a pretty good actor - kind of like Milla Jovovich with acting talent. In this Irish horror she plays a straight-laced rookie cop who moves to a small town just in time to witness some strange goings on involving a group of people who end up in the police station's holding cells. It seems one of them (Liam Cunningham from Dog Soldiers) is more than he appears and knows quite a lot about each of the others' lives. I won't say any more, other than to say this one leaves things moderately ambiguous. There's not much in the way of actual horror or gore (although one of the characters takes a surprisingly sick twist), but first-time director Brian O'Malley crafts a tense and intriguing thriller.

Wolf Lake (1980) VHS
- With my Netflix temporarily disconnected and my DVDs all packed away I reached for what was laying around to watch while packing boxes. I've seen this one before and enjoyed it so popped it in for a repeat viewing. This variation on the Most Dangerous Game theme, thick with Vietnam War tension, is a good little action thriller, helped by a great cast including Oscar-winner Rod Steiger (In The Heat of the Night, Amityville Horror), Jerry Hardin (Deep Throat in The X-Files) and David Huffman, who was tragically murdered at the age of 39 just five years after this movie. Huffman plays a Vietnam deserter who is hunted by a group of old war vet buddies, with predictable but enjoyable results.

Monday, December 14, 2015

What I Watched - December 6-12 2015


The house move continues so another very quiet movie-watching week.

Kristy (2014) Netflix
- "Victim fights back against intruders" is hardly an original theme and one that has been done quite a lot in recent years (The Strangers, You're Next etc etc). But this one has an interesting setting (deserted college campus during holiday break, which reminded me of 1981's The Final Exam), an excellent performance by leading lady Haley Bennett (The Haunting of Molly Hartley) and some decent action and suspense. The killers are also made more interesting with the addition of a mysterious cult element. I recommend this one for fans of man-made horror.

The Den (2013) Netflix
- This one has been on my Netflix list for the longest time, but I recently belatedly read someone's blog entry listing their favourite horror movies of 2013, and this was quite high on the list. So I decided to check it out. First of all, yes, it's "found footage" in that it's completely made up of footage captured on webcams, phones and camcorders. Having spent a great deal of time on Skype (my American girlfriend and I lived in separate countries for a couple of years), I dug the premise of a college student studying online relationships (in this case random interactions on a chat program called The Den). Of course this is a horror movie so things go bad - she pisses off the wrong person online and quickly finds her life being turned upside-down by this "hacker", ultimately leading to a bloody conclusion. What makes this so terrifying is that it's so plausible. If you hate found footage move on, but otherwise this one is highly recommended.

Viking Women and the Sea Serpent (1957) DVD
- This Roger Corman-directed, Samuel Arkoff-produced cheapie has the formal title "The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent"! But either way don't let the name fool you, the sea serpent plays only a small part in proceedings. This is no monster-fest, instead it's a sword-and-sandals "epic" about a group of viking women who go in search of their lost men and must save them from an island of evil warriors. It's only real value is in laughing at the low-budget antics. It also gets points for featuring The Wasp Woman's Susan Cabot in a villainous role.

Stir of Echoes (1999) Netflix
- This was my first time seeing this Kevin Bacon movie, which I remember seeing the trailers for back when it came out. I can see why this one didn't do so well - it was released at around the same time as Sixth Sense and covers similar ground (someone who can see dead people). It was just a case of bad timing, because this is actually a good movie. The "hypnotism opens man's mind to seeing ghosts" angle is a good one and while in essence the plot boils down to a whodunnit murder mystery, Bacon's great performance as the family man driven crazy by his "visions" takes it up a notch or two.

What I Watched - November 29-December 5 2015


A very quiet week for me, movie-watching wise, as I am in the middle of moving house and that hasn't left much time for anything else. I did still manage to sneak in a few watches though.

Not Quite Hollywood (2000) Amazon
- This documentary about the Australian exploitation (Oz-ploitation) scene of the 70s and 80s is one that I've been wanting to see for a while now. Like Machete Maidens Unleashed (Filipino b-movies) and Electric Boogaloo (Cannon films), this is mostly talking heads with some clips from the movies in question, but it's greatly interesting for anyone who calls themselves a b-movie fan.

Kingdom Come (2014) Amazon
- A group of strangers wake up in a building they can't escape from and are judged for their various sins by an unknown person/entity. This one plays like a Saw movie if you replaced the traps/torture with religious judgement. Ultimately its ambition outweighs its budget, but the result is still entertaining enough. Nothing great, but an okay time-waster.

Eagle Island (1986) VHS
- Black-clad Soviet operatives attack a Swedish island to steal a secret code, but are met with resistance by a recently-fired soldier and a female bird-watcher. This Swedish production had potential to be good, but director Mats Helge Olsen lingers too long on boring stuff instead of action. The casting is also questionable, as the leading man (Tom O'Rourke) is a middle-aged guy who looks like a failed James Bond auditioner. His chemistry with his much-younger love interest is also non-existant. This one's a bit hard to find, and maybe it's best kept that way.

Demons of the Mind (1972) VHS
- Later-day Hammer offering set in 19th century Austria, which deals with insanity, incest, rape and murder. Steeped in the gothic trappings that Hammer did best, but held down slightly by a turgid early pacing and some hammy over-acting by main villain Robert Hardy, this one gains momentum in the last act, which includes some quite stunning scenes involving an angry mob and a burning cross. Not the best Hammer movie, but a mediocre Hammer is still better than most.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

What I Watched - November 22-28 2015




Bound to Vengeance (2015) AVI
-Decent little rape revenge flick that thankfully doesn't dwell on the sexual assault for long (unlike a lot of these types of movies). The storyline - a rape victim escapes her captor and makes him take her to other captive girls to free them - is simple but done in an interesting way. There's a twist which I predicted quite early in the piece, but it's well executed enough to not take away from the overall enjoyment.

Gag (2006) DVD
- This straight-to-DVD movie sells itself as a Saw-type affair, but it's not really torture porn, it's more a psychological thriller with some minor moments of torture thrown in. Two thieves break into a house in search of a safe, but find a man chained to a bed. Everything isn't as it seems though, and soon they're in a fight for survival. Shot for just $40,000, this is far more ambitious than its budget, with some nice camera work and passable acting. The plot has a lot of holes but is entertaining enough. Go in with low expectations.

The Blood Lands (2014) Netflix
- The set up to this one has been done a million times in horror - a couple flee the big city (London) and buy a house in the countryside (here it's Scotland), where things go pear-shaped. Good acting and some suspenseful work by director Simeon Halligan (Splintered) keep you guessing as to whether events are supernatural or man-made. I enjoyed seeing Polly McIntosh in one of the lead roles here - apart from her short turn in Tales of Halloween I've only really seen her in her non-speaking roles in Offspring and The Woman, so it was nice to see her in a more conventional role. This one has undertones of the English-Scottish rivalry and a great, isolated setting. Recommended.

Legend of Galgameth (1996) VHS
- I watched this with my son and while it didn't offer much in the way of adult viewing, he enjoyed it quite a bit. Essentially it's a tale of a young prince in medieval times and his golem-like protector (a dinosaur-like being that grows bigger and bigger as the movie goes on). Some of the special effects are pretty laughable by today's standards, but charming in a 90s-kids-movie kind of way.

Circle Man (1987) VHS
- I watched this one as I was copying it from VHS to DVD (it has no official DVD release) and found it to be a quite bland fist-fighting actioner, saved mainly by the work of lead actors Vernon Wells (Commando, The Road Warrior) and William Sanderson (Blade Runner) as an aging fighter and his promoter. The story is pretty thin and the fist fights are only marginally exciting, but it's just great to see Wells in a lead role after so many great supporting jobs. Also known as Last Man Standing.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What I Watched - November 15-21 2015


Don't Go in the House (1979) DVD
- I've owned this as part of a Shriek Show triple-feature boxset, (alongside a couple of low budget crime actioners - Cop Killers and Tenement) for a few years now but never got around to watching it. I'm glad I finally did, because this is an awesome gritty old school urban horror/exploitation film along the lines of Maniac. The story itself has elements of Psycho - a guy with mommy issues killing young ladies (although Norman never used a flamethrower!). There's actually some quite creepy moments involving burned bodies coming back to life. One for fans of sleazy late 70s, early 80s grindhouse horror flicks!

Diamonds of Kilimandjaro (1983) DVD
- I own this in another Shriek Show box set that I got at the same time as the aforementioned one, this one called "Jungle Girls". It's actually a Jess Franco movie but is pretty tame by his standards. Essentially Tarzan with a female in the vine-swinging role, this one has little in the way of gore and a lot in the way of nudity. It's pretty run of the mill - kind of like a Lenzi/Deodato jungle movie without any of the gut-munching or torture. Watchable but hard to recommend.

Stryker (1983) DVD
- Since I was trawling through long-neglected boxsets on my shelves, I pulled out one called Grindhouse Experience 2, which has something like 10 movies of various drive-in fare. The name of this one, plus the artwork, made it an easy choice to begin making my way through this set. I do love a good cheesy 80s Mad Max-ripoff, and that's what you get here from Filipino director Cirio H Santiago. While this one's not terrible, there are better examples of the genre out there. The final battle is pretty cool, but the lead-up to it is sloppy and quite frankly boring in a lot of places. The highlight is a band of "little people" who dress like Jawas and sound way too much like animated penguin Pingu. Sadly they are on screen for far too little time - if they'd been around more I might have enjoyed this more. A good time-waster, but probably only for the hardcore fan of low budget post-apocalyptic fare.

Blazing Magnum (1976) DVD
- Next up in Grindhouse Experience is this is a movie also known as Shadows in an Empty Room, although that name makes it sound like a giallo, and it's definitely not. Blazing Magnum is a more apt name, because what we have here is an Italian/Canadian production that is clearly influenced by Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry flicks (one of the sequels of course being Magnum Force). Like Harry Callahan, the main cop in this one uses "unorthodox" methods to get what he needs. With a great cast that includes Martin Landau, John Saxon and Tisa Farrow, and containing one of the best car chase scenes I've seen in a long time, this is great stuff. Definitely recommended.

Slavers (1978) DVD
- Continuing down the Grindhouse Experience 2 road, we move from police action to pure exploitation. Coming in the wake of the highly-successful mini series Roots, this trods over similar ground, telling unflinching stories of the slave trade in Africa in the 1800s. An African couple who are separated by the bad guys are part of the focus, but most of the time is spent on the various white men and women (including Britt Ekland), most of which are completely reprehensible. One scene in particular - involving target practice on swimming natives - is quite shocking. My biggest complaint is that the racist villains in this for the most part don't get a satisfactory comeuppance. Obviously this is never comfortable viewing, but is a good reminder of a dark period in man's history.

Deathgasm (2015) AVI
- I watched this a couple of weeks ago as part of 31 Nights of Terror and enjoyed it so much I had to watch it again, this time with my girlfriend. Check out my review here:

Three Supermen Against Godfather (1979) DVD
- Back into the Grindhouse Experience 2 boxset, and next up we have an all-together odd little movie otherwise known as Supermenler. Apparently the 9th of 11 Three Supermen movies which ranged from 1967 to 1986, this is a goofy comedy set in Turkey that feels like a low budget episode of the 1960s Batman TV series. Most of the intended comedy falls flat, while there are unintentional laughs (one guy's whiney dubbed voice is hilarious). The theme song that plays constantly throughout the climax is so, so annoying. The setting is apt, because this is one big turkey.

Mister Deathman (1977) DVD
- The last of the Grindhouse 2 movies for a while (there are others I haven't seen, but I'll save them for another time) is this very poor excuse for a blaxploitation movie. Filmed in South Africa, it stars the main guy from Zombie Island Massacre who tries to play a suave Bond-like superspy but his acting is beyond terrible. The bad guys are boring, our hero seemingly gets captured every few minutes, and the plot is groan-worthy. If there was a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of this movie I'd watch it - it would be interesting to hear how the main black actor found filming in apartheid-era South Africa - and let's face it, it would have to be better than the actual movie itself.

Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet (2009) DVD
- I really have to stop choosing movies to watch based on the actors involved. That bit me on the ass with Old 37 and it kind of did again here, and Bill Moseley is involved again (along with horror fan darling Danielle Harris). Bill's the definite highlight here, as he's in full Crazy Ralph from Friday the 13th mode (he even dresses the same, so it's obviously a homage). The movie starts off pretty well with a good opening murder and some time in an asylum, but when it switches to the present day and turns the spotlight on various annoying teens, things break down. I couldn't wait for these douchebags to get dead, and unfortunately it took so long to happen, with endless teen partying bogging things down. Sloppy editing and the fact that it looks like it was shot on a handicam (not in terms of shakiness, but of quality - it feels like a home movie, not a film) make this one a pretty unbearable mess.

- November is of course the month when men grow all shapes and sizes of mustachios in the name of charity (not me, I'm be-goateed all year round, gotta hide those double chins somehow). So, with that in mind, I decided to find movies featuring standout supporting performances by upper-lip caterpillars.

Turkey Shoot (1982) DVD
- First up is Roger Ward's menacing mo-and-eyebrows combo from this Australian exploitation (Oz-ploitation) classic. I've always loved this movie - it's beautifully shot, has plenty of action and its simple storyline is essentially Most Dangerous Game mixed with 1984. But it also has plenty of tasty cheese to stop it from being too mainstream, like the hairy "freak" hunter, the woman's exploding arrows, the weird futuristic vehicles and the pre-requisite smatterings of T&A and attempted rape. Steve Railsback is a weird choice for a leading man - the guy who would go on to play an uber-creepy Ed Gein is hardly charismatic pin-up material. But that's not to take away from this movie, which is a must for any fans of exploitation flicks.

Witchfinder General (1968) DVD
- As a huge Vincent Price fan (I collect his movies on DVD) this is one that had managed to slip through the cracks, until now. Price's facial hair isn't anything too special, but hey, it's there, so it makes this movie count for this moviethon! Okay, so I was just looking for an excuse to include this one. Vincent is great as always, although rather subdued by his standards (after watching a doco on director Michael Reeves it seems he told the legendary actor to tone down his performance). The supporting cast is great (Ian Ogilvy is always good to watch) and this gets quite brutal in places (like the burning of the witch at the stake - my DVD has a lot of the cut violence restored). This is essentially a western set in ye olde England, and it's a good one! Definite recommendation.

The Big Lebowski (1998) AVI
- I'm sure everyone has a movie or two that it seems EVERYONE has seen and enjoyed, but which they've managed to miss somehow. Rather embarrassingly, this is that movie for me. I know it's a cult classic and I do enjoy the Coen brothers, but this one just never found its way in front of my eyes. I had it on my list on Netflix to watch a few months ago, but now when I went to watch it... it's not on Netflix anymore. Don't you hate that? Anyway, a quick acquisition from an "alternative source" and now I can finally say I've seen The Big Lebowski and now know what all the memes and quotes are in reference to. Oh yeah, obviously the mustache in this one belongs to Sam Elliott's The Stranger, although there are a couple of other commendable face-hair efforts in this movie. As for the movie itself, it is as good as everyone makes it out to be. The Dude abides man!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

What I Watched - November 8-14 2015


Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell (1981) Amazon
- I've just signed up for a trial period of Amazon Prime and while perusing the free streaming video on the site I came across a bunch of obscure regional horror movies that I haven't seen anywhere else, this one included. Also known as "Rana: Legend of Shadow Lake" it is from renowned Wisconsin-based schlockmeister Bill Rebane (Blood Harvest, Giant Spider Invasion etc) and is purely for the lovers of bad, low-budget cinema. With narration that makes it sound like an episode of Wonderful World of Disney and laughable man-in-suit monster effects, this flick is pretty dire, but at the same time has a cheesy charm that I enjoyed somewhat.

Old 37 (2015) AVI
- I was pretty excited to check this one out, since its two main stars are horror legends Kane Hodder and Bill Moseley. Who could pass up the chance to see Jason Vorhees and ChopTop in action together, right? Unfortunately, while it's good to see these two legends in action together, the story (brothers pretend to be paramedics and pick up victims in their old No 37 ambulance - hence the name) leaves a lot to be desired. It's badly lit, the music is horrible loud rock music (I'm a metaller, but in this case the music doesn't suit the movie) and there's bugger all gore (or its impossible to see because of the shitty lighting). A bunch of flashbacks also kill what atmosphere there is. I've since learned that Moseley and Hodder have starred in quite a few movies together in recent years (including Charlie's Farm and Smothered) - hopefully they're better than this.

The Doberman Gang (1972) AVI
- Another movie I watched simply because of it's rareness - as far as I can tell it has never been released on DVD. Apparently this one led to a string of sequels, all with the same basic premise - a team of five Doberman Pincer dogs are trained to carry out some kind of criminal task. In this case it's rob a bank. There's not much more to it than that, bar some squabbling among the thieves behind the plan. This is good, harmless fun in a 1970s TV movie kind of way (although it appears to have been a cinematic release), with goofy comedy and cheesy, cheesy music (dig the theme song: "They were the doggonest gang than man could ever see, all them animals just like you and me").

Evidence (2013) Netflix
- Part slasher movie, part CSI-type police procedural, Evidence's plot has more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese, but if you look past that, it's entertaining, particularly if you like mysteries. A group of people who break down at a desert gas station end up being massacred by a mysterious killer wearing a welding mask, and police try to solve the case using footage from the victims' phones and cameras. There's not a great deal of gore (although seeing someone set alight by a welding-torch-wielding killer was kinda cool), so this leans heavily towards the mystery/police side rather than the horror side of things. The acting's pretty good (led by Silent Hill's Radha Mitchell and True Blood's Steven Moyer) and the twist ending actually caught me off-guard. Add in some pretty nifty camera effects and this one's a definite recommendation.

Requiem for a Dream (2000) DVD
- I picked this up for $1 from a video rental store closing down in my town, and my girlfriend had never seen it - so that had to be remedied. Of course this is a fantastic piece of cinema from Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, The Fountain, Black Swan etc) and the ultimate "don't do hard drugs" message. I love the split-screen camera work and the nifty editing, and there's top notch acting on display from Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans and Ellen Burstyn (who was rightfully nominated for an Oscar for her work). Easily one of the best movies released in the early 2000s.

Future-Kill (1985) AVI
- This is a movie that has been at the periphery of my consciousness since I first saw it on VHS in about 1986 (when I was 11 years old). A few scenes have stuck in my head ever since but I never got around to finding it again, until now. I wish I'd gotten around to it sooner - specifically before I met star Edwin Neal (more famous for his role as The Hitchhiker in the original TCM) at a horror convention in the early 2000s. I would have loved to have heard his thoughts on it. Plot-wise, Future-Kill is part Porkies (frat boy shenanigans) and part The Warriors (zany street gangs in outrageous costumes), with a main bad guy that looks like a cross between Robocop and The Humongous from The Road Warrior. As a piece of cinema this isn't anything great, but as a cheesy 80s scifi/horror it kicks ass.

Tick Tick Tick (1970) AVI
- Another from my list of "never been released on DVD" downloads, Tick Tick Tick is a fascinating look at racial relations in small-town America in the late 60s and early 70s. Jim Brown plays a black man voted in as sheriff of a town in the deep south, which of course causes a lot of tension with the white folk. George Kennedy is superb as always as the former sheriff who becomes a deputy to help him out. This isn't straight-up exploitation, although there's enough despicable racist behaviour to give it a hard edge.

Time Lapse (2014) Netflix
- I do love a good time travel movie, and while not perfect, Time Lapse has a great premise and enough plot twists to keep you thinking after the final credits roll. Just don't think about things too long, or you'll start to realise there are quite a few things that don't make sense, as is often the case with time travel stories. Danielle Panabaker from TV's The Flash leads a small cast of otherwise-unknowns in a tale about a camera that takes photos of the future. I won't say anymore than that - it's best to go in without knowing too much - but I did enjoy this one quite a bit.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What I Watched - November 1-7 2015


The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? (2015) Youtube
- This is one I've been meaning to check out for a while now after reading Kevin Smith's latest autobiography, Tough Shit, a few months back. I honestly didn't know anything about this other than reading a few brief mentions about a failed Superman movie over the years. After watching this doco, I think I'm probably in the same boat as everyone else - I really, really wish Tim Burton had been allowed to make his movie with Nicolas Cage as Supes! Would it have been great? Probably not (I'm not a fan of anything non-animated that Burton has done in the last 15 years), but it would have been unique, that's for damn sure! This documentary is definitely worth checking out, whether you're a fan of superheroes or not.

The Canal (2014) Netflix
- I'm writing this a couple of weeks after I watched this, and not much about it sticks in my mind, which probably says a lot. But I do remember liking it - the acting was good and the suspense was very well done. Not really horror, more psychological thriller, but one that'll keep you guessing and interested for the whole hour and a half.

The Keep (1983) VHS
- It's rare for me to watch VHS these days, having sold off most of my collection (which numbered in the many hundreds) over the past year or so. But this is one I found hidden away in a box in my garage and I had to give it a watch before putting it up for sale - especially since it has never been released on DVD. I love, love, love this movie! Sure, some of the effects are a bit cheesy, but the Tangerine Dream score is phenomenal and director Michael Mann brings a dream-like quality to proceedings. Damn I want to see this on a decent print - is a bluray really too much to ask?

Can't Hardly Wait (1998) Netflix
- A brief excursion into romantic comedy territory. But hey, this one is actually really good - it reminds me of the 1980s John Hughes teen comedies that I grew up on. 

V for Vendetta (2005) DVD
- Remember, remember the 5th of November. And what better movie to watch on Guy Fawkes Night? I do enjoy the look of this movie, it has some stellar cinematography, as you'd hope for when a comic book is adapted to the screen. The story has never been one that really resonates with me though, unfortunately. Call me a crotchety old man, but the "V" mask has lost its impact for me due to its use by the hacking group Anonymous in real life. Still, this is a good watch.


Bone Tomahawk (2015) AVI
- Boy did I love this movie! Obviously I love horror movies, and I do really enjoy westerns - the two are sadly not joined together very often in cinema. But that's now changed, because Bone Tomahawk is fantastic. Sure, it's more western than horror, but there's some genuine creepiness to the cannibal natives in this here yarn. The cinematography of the dusty, old west setting is excellent, the story is well written and the effects are top notch. But what really makes this stand out is the acting. A big thank you to whoever decided to cast Kurt Russell in the sheriff role - after the perfection ghtat is Tombstone I could watch Kurt act in westerns for the rest of my days. And the supporting cast (including The Conjuring's Patrick Wilson and a brief appearance by genre favourite Sid Haig) is great. More horror westerns please!

The Green Inferno (2015) AVI
- Ah yes, Eli Roth. The guy gets a lot of hate, but I'm not on board with that. He at least makes interesting movies, if not always great. I like to think of him as horror's answer to Quentin Tarantino (with no doubt a fraction the talent), and he's in full-on Tarantino-mode in this one. Whereas Tarantino has paid homage to the likes of blaxploitation, martial arts and spaghetti westerns in recent years, Roth chooses to make a love letter to 1970s Italian cannibal flicks. Thankfully the one thing he left out is the awful animal cruelty of those original offerings, so The Green Inferno has that going for it. Unfortunately the gore is also lacking in comparison (but still quite abundant) and there's no nudity, but there is some nice visuals (the natives in full red bodypaint are visually striking) and the acting is pretty good. You won't care about the characters, but that's beside the point in these movies I guess. Roth gets an A for effort and at least, unlike the animal-cruelty-filled 70s flicks, I can see myself watching this one again some time soon.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

31 Nights of Terror 2015 #40 - Goodnight Mommy (2014)

Goodnight Mommy (2014)
Director: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Starring: Susanne Wuest, Lukas Schwarz, Elias Schwarz
Format: AVI

Plot: Twin boys move to a new home with their mother after she has face changing cosmetic surgery, but under her bandages is someone the children don't recognize.

And so the 2015 edition of 31 Nights of Terror comes to an end with the 40th entry, which I'm pretty sure is my best effort yet. I wanted to finish with something good, and I've been wanting to see Goodnight Mommy ever since I first started hearing buzz about it last year.

This German-language Austrian film is pure psychological horror. There's no body count and there's no gore, so if you're after that, look elsewhere. Instead Goodnight Mommy is a beautifully-shot slice of surreal and suspenseful mystery. The idea is that you're kept guessing the whole time as things unfold and the plot takes a bunch of twists and turns.

I say that because unfortunately I picked the plot twist right from the start, as I'm sure a lot of horror fans will. When you watch so many of these types of movies it happens. While I think not guessing the twist would add a lot to the viewing experience here, I did enjoy the movie anyway.

The directors do a fantastic job of capturing the absolute beauty of the remote countryside location, with some simply stunning cinematography. Simultaneously they use this isolation to build a atmosphere of complete and utter dread, without relying on lazy jump scares. Helped by some fantastic acting from the three leads (young twins Lukas and Elias are outstanding), this movie will have your skin crawling and the hairs on the back of your neck standing up for the whole ride. 

To say too much more would be to give too much away, but if you like slow-burning, suspenseful stories that will make you think, you can't go wrong with Goodnight Mommy.