Saturday, 16 June 2012

Rare Imports #4: Dead Snow (2009) Review

Dead Snow is a 2009 Norwegian horror comedy. Directed by Tommy Wirkola starring Vegar Hoel, Stig Frode Henrikson and Charlotte Frogner. The film also incorporates elements of the zombie and nazisploitation sub-genres.

The film follows several young Norwegians as they take a vacation to a log cabin in the snowy countryside. Things soon take a turn for the worse as the obligatory crazy old local shows up and warns the group that back in World War II the area was subjected to prolonged torture and oppression of the locals by a Nazi brigade led by Standartenfuhrer Herzog. After the forces raided all of the locals gold and valuables, the townsfolk staged an uprising and chased the Nazis into the mountains where they (along with the gold) still remain. Unfortunately for our group the gold was buried under the log cabin and Nazi zombies begin to descend upon them with very gory results, this leads to a climactic battle between our heroes (armed with chainsaws) fending off droves of Nazi soldiers in attempt to escape the mountainous bloodbath.

Dead Snow is a rip-roaring homage to zom-com classics such as the Evil Dead trilogy and Peter Jackson's Braindead (one of the characters actually wears a Braindead t shirt) but also carves its own mark onto the zombie and Nazi sub genres. The desolate snowy setting freshens things up and makes a nice change from the typical cabin in the woods format and also ties in to the Norwegian culture and history. The zombies also tie in nicely with elements of Norse mythology, a Draugr is an undead creature who typically guards wealth or buried treasure and this incorporation of folklore is a really nice touch and something that I'm sure Norwegian audiences could appreciate a little bit more.

As with many of the horror comedy classics the balance here is spot on. The Norwegian black humour coupled with the really quite impressive gore is great fun and nothing is lost through the subtitles, an element I also really liked was the occasional political satire perfectly captured during the final battle sequence where one of the characters manages to acquire a hammer and sickle and briefly crosses the two before decapitating a Nazi. There's also no attempts to overexplain the plot, we don't  know why the Nazis are still alive (or undead) all we know is that they want their gold and our heroes stand in their way allowing the maximum fun and mayhem to unfold without worrying about justifying it to the audience.

Dead Snow is really great fun and combines horror and gore with the Norwegian black humour (which was seen again recently in the excellent Troll Hunter). Some people might find it a bit too silly and if you're unfamiliar with the nazisploitation sub-genre then it may not be the movie for you but for my money it's the best zom-com since Shaun of the Dead (2004) and makes me want to know an awful lot more about Norwegian cinema.

4 Stars ****

Did you likeDead Snow? Would you like to see more Nazi zombie movies?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Iron Sky (2012): Review

Iron Sky is a 2012 Finnish nazisploitation film. Directed by Timo Vuorensola starring Julia Dietze, Gotz Otto (Downfall, Schindler's List) and Udo Keir (anything requiring a maniacal German). Production on the film first began in 2006 however it took six years for the film makers to secure the necessary funds to complete the film.

The now rather infamous plot of Iron Sky is that in 1945 the Nazis fled to the moon and have been regrouping and developing WMDs ever since. This is discovered when an American shuttle is sent to the moon featuring black astronaut James Washington as part of a PR stunt by the US president (aka Sarah Palin). After the Nazis capture Washington they discover that his smartphone holds the necessary technology in order to program their rockets and airships and finally mount their invasion of earth, this is spearheaded by ambitious general Klaus Adler (Otto) who is looking to usurp current Fuhrer Wolfgang Kortzfleisch (Keir). After turning Washington into an albino, Adler returns to earth along with sympathetic love interest Renate (Dietze) to set up the invasion, however, his ambitions are soon discovered by Wolfgang who is killed and succeeded by Adler. Renate soon realises the error of her ways and along with Washington set about stopping Adler and saving the planet from the moon Nazi invasion.

In case you hadn't guessed Iron Sky is an exploitation movie through and through; over the top, tasteless and silly. However I often felt that the tone veered into goofy slapstick comedy instead of sticking with the more appropriate nazisploitation elements. The best scenes in the movie occur on the swastika shaped moon base where the Nazis have lived and plotted for decades, unfortunately the film does suffer during the scenes set on earth featuring the President and her henchwoman Vivian Wagner. The dialogue is cringe worthy, goofy and a parody of Sarah Palin at this point feels really overdone and passe. The film also walks a very fine line in terms of racial sensitivity with the Washington sub plot, if the movie had committed to an overall exploitation tone this would have worked however in the context of a more straight forward comedy film this type of sub-plot does feel offensive at times.

The film's saving grace is it's special effects, which presumably was the reason why it was in production for so long. The CGI effects are blended seamlessly into the film in a way rarely seen in an independent b-movie and the film works best when it's aiming for big scale sci-fi action. The climactic space battle is a deliberate and very effective aping of the Star Wars films and is hugely enjoyable as you watch the giant metal zeppelins release droves of fighter spaceships and the Nazis launch their giant mechanical weapon to destroy the Earth. Another really nice touch was the school lessons taking place  on the moon in which young Nazis would be shown Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, but only the first 5 mins to avoid them noticing that it was in fact a satire on Hitler.

Iron Sky is an enjoyable movie and for the most part is a funny comedy action piece, however, far too many of the jokes fall flat and the action lags for long periods. Worth checking out if you're a fan of exploitation revival however there are much better films out there and Iron Sky ultimately fails to live up to it's festival buzz.

3 Stars ***

What did you think of the film? Was it too silly or not silly enough?

Monday, 11 June 2012

Prometheus (2012): Review

Prometheus is a 2012 science fiction film. Directed by Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) starring Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Michael Fassbender (Shame, Inglorious Bastards) and Charlize Theron (Monster, The Devil's Advocate). The film is set in the same universe as the Alien franchise and is arguably a prequel to 1979's Alien.

The film follows the spaceship Prometheus carrying a crew tasked with discovering the origins of mankind and the universe based on extensive research by Dr Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace). This expedition has been financed and set up by the Weyland corporation and Peter Weyland himself (played by Guy Pierce), as such Weyland representative Meredith Vickers (Theron) and Weyland's personal android David (Fassbender) are along for the ride to ensure the companies wishes are carried out by the scientific team. Upon arriving on LV-223 (not LV-426 as in the other movies) the team discover massive ancient temple structures and set about investigating the origins of mankind, however, they find the "engineers" all dead and only their abandoned biological experiments to greet them. It is soon revealed that certain crew members have ulterior motives and that not all the engineers are dead, this leads to an epic climax where the remaining crew members are thrust into a race against time to not only save themselves but all of planet Earth.

In the short time since it's release much debate has raged about Prometheus and whether it lives up to the hype, and like many I was slightly disappointed with the results, however, satisfying the hype and expectations surrounding the film was always going to be an impossible task. That being said the film is still a triumphant sci-fi epic for two main reasons, Scott's visionary direction and a couple of standout central performances. Visually, the film is jaw dropping in so many ways; the extensive location shooting in Iceland and Scotland and the fantastic creature designs leave an impression that lingers long after the credits roll and satisfy much of the horror/action criteria. Personally I was left underwhelmed by Rapace's central performance and was drawn more to the always superb Michael Fassbender in his portrayal of ship android David. Fassbender evokes the spirit of Ian Holme and Lance Henrikson but also channels the replicants of Blade Runner and is mesmerising throughout. There is also an outstanding supporting performance by excellent English character actor Sean Harris as belligerent geologist Fifield.

These strong elements help to propel the film through most of it's runtime as an exciting and gripping thriller however, like many, I felt the film crumbled somewhat in the third act. This can be typified through one key scene that many have described as difficult to watch, which I agree with but for different reasons, in which suspense and tension are built to an excruciating climax and then something faintly silly happens. Sadly this continues as Guy Pierce stinks up the film with his portrayal of the geriatric (and mechanically enhanced) Peter Weyland and the already sub par script descends into farce as minor characters start explaining the plot to the supposedly highly intelligent scientists. Then the ending, without wishing to give too much away the closing moments of the film are practically a trailer for Prometheus 2: coming soon, leaving many issues unresolved and many viewers underwhelmed.

Prometheus overcomes it's flaws due to the sheer talent involved with the film and will still be counted amongst the finest films of the year however your enjoyment of the film will depend largely on your expectations. Those expecting answers and resolutions to the questions posed by the mysterious "space jockey" in the seminal Alien and explanations to the origins of the Xenomorph will be sorely disappointed. Prometheus answers it's own questions and is only as concerned with the rest of the franchise as it needs to be to attract Alien fanboys. The film's tremendous trailer (one of the finest in years) is ultimately the best indication of the film itself; half existential sci-fi pondering, half slimy action-packed horror leave the viewer exhilarated but left wanting more.

4 Stars ****

What did you think of Prometheus? Did it live up to your expectations?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is set!

 The sequel to the smash hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes (my favourite film of 2011) is official! The film will be titled Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and even has a release date of 23rd May 2014, this is a little while to wait yet but the film itself is likely to be set several years after the events of the first film and the viral outbreak at it's climax.

Are you looking forward to this? What are you looking for in the sequel?

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Chronicle (2012): Review

Chronicle is a 2012 found-footage sci-fi film. Directed by Josh Trank and starring Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell (Wasted on the Youth, Almost Kings) and Michael B. Jordan (Red Tails). Although the film is set entirely in Seattle, Washington it was actually filmed in Cape Town, South Africa to reduce the budget.

 Chronicle follows high schoolers Andrew (DeHaan), Matt (Russell) and Steve (Jordan). Andrew is an angst-ridden anti-social teenager who decides to chronicle his life with a video camera and his cousin Matt is trying to help him fit in. Along with Matt's friend Steve, the trio discover a mysterious crater in the earth when they become bored with a local rave and venture inside to discover something not of this world. After the encounter, the trio discover they have acquired the power of telekinesis and set about documenting their powers and the impact they can have on their surroundings. This is soon followed by the ability to fly, and they soon find their powers increasing rapidly. Andrew's troubles at home soon begin to affect his mindset as his father is a drunk and his mother is terminally ill and he starts to abuse his powers , turning into a megalomaniac. As Andrew's rage manifests, he attempts to tear the city apart and it 's down to Matt to confront his cousin in a spectacular climactic fight sequence.

 Chronicle is a fine example of pushing the found-footage sub genre in a new direction and overcoming the restrictions and cliches associated with the format. This is achieved rather cleverly by allowing Andrew to control the handheld camera through his telekinesis and allows for a much wider selection of camera angles than is usually available in a found-footage film. It also helps to appeal to those turned off by the "shaky-cam" style as, for the majority of the film, Andrew is in firm control of the camera and is in fact acting as the director to his own chronicle. In addition to this there is also the added element of other cameramen's perspective such as Matt's girlfriend and, towards the end, a variety of alternate recording devices such as camera phones, CCTV and even helicopter footage. Again this frees the film from the restraints of found footage and allows it to create extraordinary action sequences that film makers wouldn't usually be able to achieve within the sub-genre.

The special effects are also very well done in the film and are blended in a very realistic way essential to the format. Cheap and fake CGI would've stuck out like a sore thumb in a found footage film but the excellent, and very subtle, effects used in Chronicle allow you to suspend your disbelief. You also become immersed in the character's adventures, even when you're watching them play football at aeroplane cruising height. The application of superpowers to ordinary kids creates a real escapism for the viewer as you imagine where you would go if you could fly and what you would do if you had the power of telekinesis. This brings he viewer back to their own school days but also reminds us that when teenagers are given immense power, no good can come of it.

Chronicle is a hugely enjoyable found footage film that reminds us what can be achieved within the format and that there's still life in the old dog yet. It also works extremely well as a superhero (but not necessarily comic book) film grounded in reality and shows there's more that can be done outside of traditional found footage horror genre. The film sometimes veers into far-fetched territory with it's outlandish camera angles but if you can suspend your disbelief and go with it, you'll have a blast!

4 Stars ****

What did you think of Chronicle? Did you like the application of found-footage to a superhero film?

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Superior Remakes #3: The Ring (2002)

The Ring is a 2002 psychological horror film. Directed by Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy) starring Naomi Watts (King Kong, 21 Grams) and Martin Henderson. The film is a remake of the seminal Japanese horror film Ringu (1998) but adapts the back story and setting for a western audience.

The film opens with two teenage girls discussing an urban legend involving a mysterious videotape, the legend goes that after viewing the videotape you receive a phone call telling you that you will die in 7 days. It is revealed that one of the girls did indeed watch the tape exactly a week ago and consequently suffers inexplicable heart failure, it also just so happens that the victim's Aunt is top journalist Rachel (Watts) and after a plea from her sister she sets about investigating the mysterious circumstances surrounding her Niece's death. Rachel manages to retrieve and watch the tape prompting her to receive her own phone call to indicate her days are numbered. After showing the tape to her ex partner Noah (Henderson) and accidentally to their son Aiden, Rachel becomes trapped in a race against time to save her family and find a way to break the curse of the tortured Samara.

Ringu was a tremendously groundbreaking film and helped to not only revive south east Asian horror but also had an enormous influence on western horror. The Ring is a direct result of that influence and as good as the original is, the American remake is just that little bit better. There are 2 main reasons for this, the striking direction by auteur Gore Verbinski and the incredibly strong central performance by Naomi Watts. The original had it's own style and atmosphere but The Ring goes way beyond that with it's blue-grey palette and iconic imagery creating a fresh and engaging style all of it's own. The repeated use of imagery from the tape such as the tree, the horses eye and of course the iconic well ring create an immersive sense of empathy as you experience a little taste of the hallucinations that the characters are experiencing.

Watts is tremendous as the rather unsympathetic Rachel character, her first appearance is when she arrives late to pick up her son from school and the parenting skills just get worse from there on. This is a really refreshing change from the virtuous hero/heroine and of course draws a parallel with the fraught relationship between Samara and her mother making for a really interesting characterisation of the lead. The use of advanced CGI effects in the film has been a point of contention for fans of the original, and whilst I will agree that the iconic ending of Ringu has been given an unsatisfactory gloss here, there is one use of CGI that I feel greatly improves upon the originals effects. The fleeting shots of the victim's faces after their encounter with Samara are some of the most disturbing images I've seen in a horror film, and the grotesque lifeless expressions left much more of an impact than the originals use of a negative freeze frame.

Most successful Japanese horrors have been remade for the western market purely for people who can't be bothered to read subtitles and some have been disastrous (Pulse, I'm looking at you!). However, the way in which The Ring has been remade has allowed for the brilliant premise to be retained whilst adapting the mythos for a completely different culture, and combine this with it being arguably one of the most visually impressive horror films (alongside The Shining) and you have a truly terrifying film with enough depth to creep under your skin and stay with you for a long time.

5 Stars *****

What did you think of The Ring? Do you prefer Ringu?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Nazis at the Centre of the Earth (2012): Review

Nazis at the centre of the Earth is a 2012 straight-to-dvd nazisploitation film. Directed by Joseph J. Lawson starring Dominique Swain (Lolita, Face Off) and Jake Busey (Starship Troopers, Identity). The film is an Asylum "mockbuster" and is intended to capitalise on the more widely released nazisploitation film Iron Sky (2012).

The film follows an Antarctic scientific expedition helmed by Dr Lucas Moss, his partner Dr Paige Morgan (Swain) and Dr Adrian Reistad (Busey). After Paige and her colleague are abducted by gas masked Nazis during a field test the rest of the crew mobilise and set out to investigate their disappearance. This leads them to a crevasse in the ice which in turn leads them to discover an entire world within the centre of the earth populated exclusively by Nazis, meanwhile the captives are being interrogated by Dr Mengele so that the Nazis can learn more about modern science and rebuild their rotting army. The rest of the crew soon join the captives and the Nazis manage to extract enough knowledge (and stem cells) to achieve their master plan and give birth to a fully resurrected robo-Hitler.

 Nazis at the Centre of the Earth is, above all, a crushingly boring film. If you've seen any of the other Asylum projects (Titanic 2, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus et al) you'll definitely know what to expect; terrible acting, idiotic script and atrocious (and entirely unnecessary) CGI effects. For example there are exterior shots of a snowmobile that has been digitally rendered which begs the question, is it really cheaper to digitally render your props and sets? And judging by the quality of the CGI on display I think that question is resolutely answered. The dreadful looking robo Hitler is another eyesore, looking like it could've been featured in a computer game from around ten years ago (which is ironic considering the nod to Castle Wolfenstein) and really takes the film in an even more outrageous, but still not funny, direction.

 Swain and Busey are both wooden and awful, although to be fair they have been saddled with a terrible script to work with, and in fact the only character in the film that comes across as even remotely engaging is the Josef Mengele character, as he plays it straight and sinister with minimal Nazi (love) camp. The story has enormous plot holes, taking it's initial setup from John Carpenter's The Thing and antagonists from the excellent (and much funnier) Dead Snow but obviously not coming anywhere those films in terms of quality. The fact that the centre of the earth looks like some kind of wooded nature reserve is absurd and was clearly due to budget constraints, and why is it so clear and sunny? It's supposed to be the molten core of our planet for god's sake!

Nazis at the Centre of the Earth is a pitiful attempt to piggyback on the buzz surrounding Iron Sky, which will hopefully be a far more enjoyable film, and has absolutely no redeeming features or entertainment quality whatsoever. Poorly made, poorly acted and nowhere near bad enough to be good, there has been a clear waste of a ludicrous concept which could have been exploited for comic effect but which ends up being about as funny and entertaining as Nazi Germany itself.

1 Star *

What did you think of Nazis? Are you looking forward to Iron Sky more?

Monday, 21 May 2012

Skyfall Teaser Trailer is Here!

The first teaser trailer has been released for upcoming James Bond film Skyfall. Featuring some intriguing word association the trailer also features some very epic looking action sequences. Skyfall will be released in November.

What do you think of the trailer?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Duncan Jones to Direct Fleming Biopic

Duncan Jones is set to direct a biopic of Bond creator Ian Fleming's life. The award winning director of Moon and Source Code will be adapting Andrew Lycett's biography of the man behind the famous spy and will be the first feature film to document Fleming's life.

Are you looking forward to this? Do you think Jones is right for the project?

Friday, 18 May 2012

Movie B Bad #3: The Boxer's Omen (1983)

The Boxer's Omen aka Mo is a 1983 Hong Kong kung fu fantasy film. Directed by Chih-Hung Kuei and starring Phillip Ko. The movie was produced by the prolific Shaw brothers studio, who produced most of the Hong Kong movies of that time.

The Boxer's Omen follows the story of Chan Hung whose brother becomes paralysed after a brutal kickboxing match with a vicious Thai boxer. Chan Hung vows to avenge his brother and defeat the man responsible,  however, before starting his boxing training he is visited by the ghost of a Buddhist master which prompts him to fly to Thailand to train as a warrior monk. This is where the film pretty much abandons the boxing plot altogether and focuses on Chan Hung's quest to learn the ways of Buddhist magic and break the curse placed on his master by the evil wizards. This involves competing in bizarre wizard duels as well as finding time to return to Hong Kong to actually compete in afore-mentioned kick boxing match before travelling to Tibet to find the Dalai Lama's ancient ashes and lift the curse once and for all.

This film is a bizarre, nonsensical but hilarious mess. The title is really a misnomer as there is barely any kickboxing in the film and after the opening 10 minutes Chan Hung (and apparently the film makers) completely forgets about his brother and instead vows to avenge the Buddhist master that he's only just met, which is certainly a mismanaging of priorities. The story just gets more bizarre from there and combined with the highly erratic editing it's certainly a difficult plot to follow. Many of the sequences appear to be hallucinations in Chan Hung's mind and the set design rarely makes it clear where the events are transpiring or whether there even indoors or outdoors.

The best thing about the film is easily the battle sequences and the hilariously poor special effects that accompany them. As soon as the first battle starts (between the black wizard and the Buddhist master) you know the film is about to go off on an epic tangent as there is face melting, reincarnation and manipulation of bats and cobras. This first battle sequence is only there to illustrate how diabolical the black wizard is, it's the battle between the wizard and Chan Hung himself (fresh from his head-shaving and magical monk training) that is the truly ludicrous centrepiece of the film. This features flying heads, snapping crocodile skulls and a giant alien head birthed from a ball of pink slime, to name but a few highlights, and is both hilarious and delirious in equal measures.

The Boxer's Omen is a film in which it is absolutely futile to attempt to follow the plot but is what you have to call a truly original piece. There are sequences in this film that could only originate from the most deranged imagination and many elements that I''ve never seen on film and probably never will again. I would loosely recommend the film for fans of kung-fu or fantasy films but in essence it is a psychedelic exploitation film which is as much an acquired taste as regurgitated bananas (watch the movie)

4 Stars ****

Have you seen The Boxer's Omen? Have you seen any black magic films?

James Bond Returns! In New Skyfall Teaser Poster

The official teaser poster has been released for upcoming Bond film Skyfall. This precedes an official trailer that is due to be released on Monday to start the hype for the 23rd Bond film.

Are you excited for Skyfall? What do you think of the poster style?

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Quiet Eye, Prometheus Viral Clip

The latest (and possibly last) viral clip has been released to promote upcoming sci-fi epic Prometheus. This one is entitled "quiet eye" and features Noomi Rapace's character Dr Elizabeth Shaw, potentially the closest character to an Ellen Ripley, and a video message left for Peter Weyland discussing her archaeological interests. The film is released on 1st June, check out the clip.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Underworld Awakening (2012): Review

Underworld Awakening is a 2012 horror action film. Directed Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein (Shelter) and Starring Kate Beckinsale (Underworld Franchise, Van Helsing), Theo James (The Inbetweeners Movie) and Charles Dance (Alien 3, Last Action Hero). The film is a direct sequel to Underworld Evolution (2006) and the fourth film in the series overall.

Underworld Awakening picks up right where Underworld Evolution left off (Rise of the Lycans was a prequel and as such isn't really mentioned). After the events of Evolution there is an ethnic cleansing of vampires and lycans and Selena (Beckinsale), together with her lover Michael Corvin (a vamp/lycan hybrid), attempt to escape the genocide. Unfortunately they end up getting knocked out by a grenade and when Selena awakens she discovers she's been in cryogenic stasis for 12 years (a la Demolition Man) and both immortal species' have been near eradicated. Selena's prime objective is to locate Michael, howeve,r what she ends up with is her (presumably) 12 yr old daughter whom she was hitherto unaware of and has also inherited her fathers unique hybrid genes. This leaves Selena and what's left of the vampire clan to unravel the lycan conspiracy and discover why vampires are near extinction but lycans appear to be re-surging.

Underworld is one of those strange modern horror franchises that actually lends itself to being milked absolutely dry, much like a Resident Evil or a Final Destination, these are the modern-day slashers, the Friday the 13ths or the Nightmare on Elm Streets. The key element that lends itself to this kind of longevity is the effectively simple premise...vampires vs werewolves, these kind of films pitting classic monsters against each other are now sadly a part of b-movie history, and make no mistake Underworld is one big expensive b-movie. Admittedly the Twilight franchise has muscled in on Underworld's clan rivalry concept  but I'd like to think that Underworld doesn't take itself nearly as seriously as the afore-mentioned "horror" franchise and comes across as a more enjoyable, action-packed and gory endeavour.

The continued characterisation of the rival clans continues to be the strong point of the franchise although the lycans are some what neglected here with no real villain characters to speak of (presumably they had their screen time in the prequel) and the camp factor of Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy is noticeably absent. However, Dance steps seamlessly into the role of Vampire elder and Beckinsale's usual cold and hard portrayal of Selena is enough to keep you occupied in between the shooting and exploding. There are interesting new additions to the series in the form of a jumbo werewolf (resulting from hybrid genetic modification) and an interesting silver nitrate gas grenade which adds a visually impressive sparkle (a twilight wink perhaps) to the violent action sequences.

Underworld Awakening is a genuinely entertaining and fun popcorn movie, it is a blatant vehicle for action choreography and special effects but the film sticks to what the franchise does best and reminded me how I rather liked the previous films in retrospect. You can definitely check your brain at the door, as the plot is a mere formality, and enjoy watching vampires and werewolves tear each other to bits, after all, how many other films are offering that in 2012?

4 Stars ****

What did you think of the film? Have they made enough Underworld films now?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

First Clip From Wheatley's Sightseers

The first clip has been released for Ben Wheatley's upcoming Sightseers. The film will premiere at the Cannes film festival and will follow hot on the heels of last years critically acclaimed Kill List, details are scarce but it's definitely a rural affair and appears to share the same tension and oddball humour as Kill List. Check out the clip over at Twitch Film

Are you looking forward to this? What kind of film are you expecting?

Monday, 14 May 2012

The Devil Inside (2012): Review

The Devil Inside is a 2011 found-footage religious horror film. Directed by William Brent Bell (Stay Alive) starring Fernanda Andrade and Suzan Crowley the film was shot on a small budget in Romania, Italy and the Vatican City.

The Devil inside follows the supposed demonic possession of Maria
Rossi (Crowley) and her daughter Isabella's (Andrade) investigation to uncover the meaning behind her multiple murders and subsequent confinement to an Italian asylum. Once in Italy she discovers the exorcist academy and meets 2 local priests who agree to show her an exorcism to greater determine whether her mother is indeed possessed. The film culminates with Maria having an exorcism performed on her however the ritual has a seriously adverse effect on those present as the witnesses begin to show signs of possession themselves.

The Devil Inside has been the target of much criticism and scorn from critics and audiences alike, however I feel a lot of this negativity is based on people being influenced by other opinions and reacting badly to the ending in particular. I won't try to argue that The Devil Inside is a poor film, it is, but not spectacularly so and it's important to get to the root of why people have been so deeply offended by this film. Firstly it is really quite silly, the lecture sequences in the exorcist academy in particular, and the cast overact so much that it is difficult to take this seriously as a horror film or certainly a found footage film. That's not to say there aren't genuine creepy and scary moments but they were all in the trailer and are all undermined by idiotic dialogue delivered by very poor actors.

The main thing that has offended people seems to be the ending. I won't give away too much even though many other people have, but the general message is that the investigation into Maria
Rossi was never resolved. Not only does this void the entire plot and build-up to the final sequence but the way in which it is delivered is so insulting to movie fans that it was booed by several audiences, and rightfully so. The bare minimum that one expects from a film that portrays itself as an investigation or "mockumentary" is that the main issues are resolved, this is lazy, arrogant film making and has earned the film it's reputation despite some very effective sequences in other places.

If you're a die-hard found footage fan (which I am) or a die-hard religious horror fan (which I'm not) you may find some of the scares effective and the plot somewhat interesting however, for the most part I found it to be a
clich├ęd, boring and predictable mess. This might have cut it in the early days of the found footage craze but in 2012 audiences expect a lot more than the same old cheap tricks and an idiotic conclusion.

2 Stars **

What did you think of the movie? Does it deserve it's criticism?

Sunday, 13 May 2012

New Prometheus Posters

The Prometheus marketing machine keeps rolling with two new international posters for the upcoming sci-fi epic due for release in less than 3 weeks. Looks like we're sticking with the giant head imagery and the pod chamber which is sure to be explained when the film is released on June 1st.

What do you think the giant head means? What's inside the pods?

Saturday, 12 May 2012

IT!...Came From the 50s #3: Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1956)

Invasion of the Bodysnatchers is a 1956 sci-fi film adaptation of the 1954 novel of the same name. Directed by Don Siegel (Dirty Harry, Escape From Alcatraz) and starring Kevin McCarthy (Innerspace) and Dana Wynter (Airport). The film is regarded as one of the classic sci-fi movies of the era and has been remade 3 times.

The story is told from the perspective of Dr Miles Bennell (McCarthy) in the form of a flashback, complete with narration. Bennell is a GP in the small fictional town of Santa Mira, he starts to notice strange activity after his patients begin to accuse their loved ones of being impostors completely devoid of emotion. One such case is referred to him by romantic interest Becky Driscoll, who's cousin suspects her uncle of being an impostor and this leads them to Bennells friend Jack who finds a body bearing a suspicious resemblance to himself. The couple discover the towns inhabitants are being replaced by doppelgangers or "pod people" as part of an alien invasion and are left with no one to trust as they attempt to escape the invasion!

Invasion of the Bodysnatchers is no doubt a seminal work of science-fiction and one that most people are aware of in one incarnation or another, the main reason for it's success and longevity is it's surprisingly deep philosophical themes. Like many of it's contemporaries the film is an allegorical tale, not of war or science but of identity and trust.  This adds an interesting existential element to the film that was simply not seen in other sci-fi films of the era; what makes a person who they are? what makes us human? and most importantly how well can you really know someone. This is highly relevant due to the historical context of the film, being released in 1956 places it not only at the centre of the cold war but also at the centre of McCarthyism and this is epitomised in the films strong sense of paranoia and distrust.

 Atmosphere also plays a large part in the effectiveness of the film and creates a tension rarely seen in other science fiction/horror films of the day. The narration also works really well to flesh out the story and prevent any confusion over the body doubles and who's who and the subtle difference in the performances also helps to make this distinction. The design of the pod people is really well done and quite sinister considering the primitive level of special effects available, the lifeless bodies are born out of the pods covered in a bubble-like plasma and when they emerge have a shiny waxwork-esque appearance which is quite arresting. All the actors give suitably over-the-top performances throughout the movie's central crisis which rather than looking dated actually contributes to the films overall theme of mass hysteria.

When a film gets remade three times it's usually an indication of a compelling and timeless story and that's exactly what Invasion of the Bodysnatchers is. Pioneering and so relevant to the time in which it was made, the film is as thrilling and tense as I'm sure it was in 1956 and if you've ever seen any of the other versions I certainly recommend going back in time to experience the original.

5 Stars *****

Have you seen this film? Have you seen any of the remakes?

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Bad Ass (2012): Review

Bad Ass is a 2012 action-comedy film. Directed by Craig Moss and starring Danny Trejo (Machete, From Dusk 'til Dawn), Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and Charles S. Dutton (Alien 3, Gothika). The film was based around the youtube sensation epic beard man, a video which captured senior citizen Thomas Bruso becoming involved in an altercation on a San Francisco bus.

The film opens with the recreation of the epic beard man video in which Frank Vega (Trejo) defends an elderly black man on his local bus by beating up 2 skinheads. As in real life Vega becomes a cult hero and  role model as a result of the video whilst simultaneously inheriting a house from his mother. Frank moves in fellow Vietnam vet Klondike and dog Baxter, but just as he starts to settle (after years of post-war alienation) a pair of local thugs gun down Klondike and leave Frank heartbroken. As the local police procrastinate Frank takes the law into his own hands to track down Klondikes killers and avenge his death leading him to unravel a corrupt conspiracy involving Mayor Williams (Perlman) and gang lord Panther (Dutton) along the way.

When I first heard about this film I was really expecting a vigilante exploitation film similar to the excellent Hobo With a Shotgun (2011) however it's a surprisingly genuine drama with real heart, as well as plenty of ass-kicking. You may be wondering how Moss managed to turn a 3 and a half minute youtube clip into a 90 minute film, the answer is very loosely. The only thing the movie has in common is the incident itself and the general setting and character involved, this is to the film's credit as Trejo is able to play a much more sympathetic and likeable character than the real life epic beard man and flesh out the context of the incident. The bus sequence acts as a catalyst to establish the absence of law enforcement which then allows the audience to get behind Frank and his quest for vengeance.

This movie would be absolutely nothing without Trejo, this is one of the finest performances of his prolific career (which to date includes 228 acting credits). Trejo provides the necessary emotional core that elevates the film above senseless action sequences and it's impossible not to like or sympathise with the Frank character. The other thing that surprised me about the movie was how funny and sharp it is, Trejo has the pleasure of delivering some laugh-out-loud Bond-esque one liners such as grinding a man's arm into a garbage disposal then thanking him for "giving him a hand". By using this kind of humour the film is able to remind you that a story involving a senior citizen single-handedly bringing down an organised crime syndicate doesn't necessarily take itself that seriously.

You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a movie featuring the talents of Danny Trejo somewhere along the way but this is truly a role that Trejo has been waiting a long time for. Able to flex his comic muscles at the same time as his regular muscles, Trejo creates a very sweet and likeable character that is even able to portray an (almost) believable relationship with a woman half his age whilst simultaneously beating up half of California in the process. Bad Ass is violent and dramatic but just like the titular character it's young at heart and thoroughly entertaining, the type of old person we'd all like to grow into.

4 Stars ****

What did you think of Bad Ass? What's your favourite Danny Trejo role?

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Piranhaconda Trailer

A trailer has emerged for the latest Roger Corman/SyFy monster mash Piranhaconda. Starring Michael Madson (Reservoir Dogs), the typically wafer-thin plot revolves around a movie crew that stray too close to the piranhaconda's lair when an egg goes missing and much butchery ensues. The film will air on the SyFy channel on June 16th, check out the trailer.

Are you looking forward to this? Any other hybrid monsters you'd like to see?

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Divide (2012): Review

The Divide is a 2012 post-apocalyptic sci-fi film. Directed by Xavier Gens (Hitman, Frontiers) starring Lauren German (Hostel: Part 2, Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens).

The film takes place immediately following a nuclear attack on New York City, amidst the chaos 8 residents of an apartment building manage to force their way into the reinforced basement of their block. The basement has been specially equipped for such an occasion by anti-terrorist enthusiast and building superintendent Mickey (Biehn) and the group soon find themselves sealed in and ordered not to leave (by Mickey) due to the radioactive fallout.  This soon leads to cabin fever and after biohazard stormtroopers break in and kidnap a young girl the group become welded in with no choice but to co-exist for survival. Tensions run high once the group discover Mickey has a secret vault of food and water supplies and the bunker soon becomes far more dangerous than the nuclear wasteland that awaits them outside.

The Divide is an interesting film, not particularly well acted or written but there is certainly a message within the story which is relevant in the paranoid age we live in. Superintendent Mickey is an ex-firefighter and was directly involved with the 9/11 cleanup, this has turned him into somewhat of a paranoid and xenophobic individual. Mickey immediately assumes that the Arabs are to blame but when they manage to capture the body of an armoured intruder they find him to be  of a south east Asian ethnicity. No other intruders are revealed but this raises intriguing questions around the back story of the attack  however, I feel overall the outside story is a little bit underdeveloped. In the only sequence which takes place outside the bunker we see the kidnapped girl being drip-fed in some sort of stasis pod, again this is very intriguing but there's no follow up and I felt that many of the most interesting parts of the story were never followed up on or fully explored.

Something which certainly compensates for the poor actors and script is the excellent score. Composed by Jean-Pierre Taieb, the score swings from beautifully melancholic piano pieces to pulsating synth compositions to build tension during the more violent sequences, this score was very reminiscent of John Carpenter's early scores (particularly on The Thing) and led to me investing a lot more into the characters and the situation than I otherwise would have. The tone of the film is very bleak and nihilistic and really revolves around the darker elements of the human psyche and what we're capable of in certain situations and the score and cinematography really help establish that, I just feel that the performances let the film down and undermined the drama and tension attempting to be built throughout.

Although The Divide is a post-apocalyptic film, it's more a set-piece designed to examine human social behaviour in desperate situations and on this level it's certainly an interesting film however I would have enjoyed the film a lot more if I'd had some of my questions answered; who dropped the bomb? why are the children being stored in pods? what is the reason behind this? It's always better to have a film raise questions and force you to really think, but those question need to be resolved somewhat and as a result I found The Divide an ultimately unsatisfying film.

3 Stars *** 

What did you think of the film? Did you have more questions than answers?

Greatest Horror Films of the 1970s

1. Halloween (1978)

2. The Shining (filmed in the 70s but released in 1980)
3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

4. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

 5. Carrie (1976)

 6. Alien (1979)

7. Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)

8. The Amityville Horror (1979)

9. The Wicker Man (1973)

10. Suspiria (1977)

Friday, 4 May 2012

Rare Imports #3: [Rec] (2007)

[Rec] is a 2007 found footage horror film. Directed by Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero and starring Manuela Velasco. The film is Spanish language and was shot on location in Barcelona.

[Rec] follows local TV reporter Angela as she films a special news report on the firemen of Barcelona entitled "While You Are Asleep", which follows the crew on their local rounds. After a call is received reporting screams from an apartment block, the firemen and TV crew  rush to the building to discover a rabid old woman who appears to be suffering from some kind of infection. Finding the rest of the residents congregated in the lobby, the building is soon quarantined and the group are left to fight off the frenzied infected. After exploring the building and discovering clues linking the outbreak to the catholic church, the film climaxes as the survivors confront the source of the infection...the Madeiras girl!

Although found footage films are now a monthly event, back in 2007 this was not the case . Although Paranormal Activity had been making waves on the film festival circuit it had not yet established itself as the most profitable film of all time,  bringing  dozens of found-footage films with it. That being said, I feel it's fair to say that [Rec] had an equal hand in resurrecting the format (post Blair Witch) as well as breathing new life into the stale zombie/infected sub-genre. The Spanish location and culture also add an extra dimension to the limp infected sub-genre as do the religious conspiracy elements. The shaky-cam format is always going to turn off a certain portion of the audience who would dismiss the concept as "queasy-cam". However, the format has never worked better than in the claustrophobic setting of the apartment building and this provides the adrenaline-fuelled experience that garnered the film international attention.

The creature effects for the infected are simple but very effective, resembling rabid animals, but the real standout creation in the film is the Madeiras girl. I can't quite explain the terror I felt when I first saw the hideous ghoul shuffle into frame but for me, it's up there as one of the most horrifying climaxes in film history. Of course it helps a great deal that the sequence is shot in the night-vision style which creates a very tense and claustrophobic environment. There's something genuinely disturbing about the appearance and movement of the films sympathetic villain. Couple that with the films iconic parting image and you have an extremely satisfying payoff that has been masterfully built to throughout the piece.

[Rec] spawned a tremendous sequel and a prequel, [Rec] Genesis, is being released this year but it's a testament to the original film that such a (so far) consistent franchise has been produced. Spain hasn't had a particularly rich history of horror films (with the exception of Armando De Ossorio's Blind Dead series) when compared to it's neighbours France or Italy but this film is more than enough to put them back on the horror map. Turn the lights off, turn the sound up and prepare to scared witless, then go watch [Rec] 2.

5 Stars *****

What did you think of Rec? Do you like any other Spanish horror films?

Amber Heard joining Machete kills?

News has emerged that Amber Heard (The Ward, Drive Angry) is in talks to join Robert Rodriguez's upcoming film Machete Kills. The sequel to Danny Trejo vehicle Machete (2010) will already see bombshells Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez reprise their roles, add Heard to the mix and you get the feeling of what kind of demographic the film makers are going for. Production starts next month.

Are you looking forward to Machete Kills? Who else would you like to see cast?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Wicker Tree (2011): Review

The Wicker Tree is a 2011 film intended as a companion piece to The Wicker Man(1973) and is adapted from the 2006 novel Cowboys for Christ . Helmed by original director Robin Hardy  the film stars Graham McTavish (Rambo, Colombiana), Brittania Nicol and Henry Garrett. As with the original the film was set and filmed on location in Scotland.

 The film follows the couple of former raunchy pop star Beth Boothby (Nicol) and simple cowboy Steve (Garrett) as they are sent to the heathen Scottish countryside to convert the locals to their born-again christian beliefs. There they are greeted by Sir Lachlan Morrisson (McTavish) and the rest of the locals who are fascinated by the exotic missionaries and are only happy to hear them preach the good word of Jesus. However things soon turn sour as Steve is seduced by local Jezebel Lolly and the ulterior motives of the villagers come to the fore in the form of their pagan mayday celebrations.

The fact that this "sequel" has taken 38 years to be made tells you everything you need to know about this film, it's unnecessary. The Wicker Man is a seminal work with a pretty final ending, which begs the question why has Robin Hardy decided to make a sequel after all these years? Although the film doesn't follow on from the orginal in a direct way, it's certainly set in the same universe and deals with a lot of the same themes which for me made the film feel like a fairly pointless retread of a classic. The film offers nothing new to explain the mythos behind the pagan cults and the events play out in a relatively identical manner (with one major exception),  the only glaring difference is the budget with this incarnation looking a lot prettier than the made-for-tv looking original. It also saddens me that the legendary (and visibly ailing) Christopher Lee was wheeled out for an utterly pointless cameo to link this film with the original, his dialogue is unintelligible and his appearance is purely to get a name star associated with the project.

All that being said, if you asses the film completely independently of it's famous "companion piece" it's actually not a terrible film, and if you compare it to the 2005 remake of The Wicker Man, it's a bloody fantastic film! It's quite fun to see these fanatical Americans dropped into the pagan Scottish countryside and the clash of cultures is something that works well within the original story. The acting and script are fine if not a little bizarre but that's certainly in keeping with the tone of the original whose eccentricity still has viewers scratching their heads. A very important aspect which has also been retained from the original is the rural setting which is as much of a presence as any of the actors in the film, this ties in well to the themes of the story and the reasons for the eventual actions of the Scottish pagans.

If you've never seen The Wicker Man then you may get some enjoyment out of this but the people who are most likely to understand the film are those that are more than familiar with the original. It is ironic then that this movie offers absolutely nothing to those people who, in all honesty, would never have wanted a sequel to The Wicker Man. That film was a self contained story due to it's strangeness and inaccessibility and did not require any kind of sequel or follow-up.

2 Stars **

What did you think of The Wicker Tree? Was it a worthwhile sequel?

New Juan of the Dead Poster

Anew poster has been released for upcoming Cuban zombie film Juan of the Dead. The film follows the adventures of Juan as Havana succumbs to a zombie apocalypse and he's left to fight of the hordes of undead. The film sees a UK release on 4th May, check out the trailer below.

Are you looking forward to Juan? Are you a fan of foreign zombie films?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

AHAAAA! Partridge Movie Will See the Light of Day

It has been confirmed that the Alan Partridge movie will begin shooting this year. Former Father Ted director Declan Lowney will direct the big screen adaptation of the cult British sitcom with Armando Ianucci co-writing alongside Steve Coogan, who rose to fame playing tragic-comic former chat show host. The film should see a release in 2013.

Are you looking forward to this? Have you been desperately awaiting more Partridge?

Prometheus International trailer


The international trailer for Prometheus has now been released. The trailer gives us an insight into both the role of Weyland employee Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) and our first look at the creature design in the form of a cobra-like facehugger. The film is released on 1st June in the UK and 8th June internationally, check out the trailer.

What role do you think Vickers will play? What do you think of the creature design?

Monday, 30 April 2012

Dream House (2011): Review

Dream House is a 2011 psychological thriller film. Directed by Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, The Boxer) starring Daniel Craig (Casino Royale, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Rachel Weisz (The Mummy) and Naomi Watts (The Ring, King Kong). The cast and crew were reportedly so unhappy with the final cut of the film that Sheridan tried to have his name removed and the cast refused to do any promotion for the film's release.

The film follows Will Atenton (Craig), his wife Libby (Weisz) and their 2 children as they move into their dream house in a seemingly quiet suburban neighbourhood. However things are not as they seem as the family start to notice strange figures watching their house and bizarrely, teenagers squatting in their basement. Will soon discovers his new house was the site of some grisly murders as local Peter Ward was accused of slaughtering his own family 2 years previous, this prompts Will to perform his own investigations as he becomes obsessed with what happened in his house and who has been stalking his family.

Dream House is a very nuts and bolts, cliched film. It is directly comparable to horror classics such as The shining (1981) and The Amityville Horror (1979) and certainly rehashes the very tired "family move into a house with a haunted past" schtick, however I'd be very reluctant to call Dream House any kind of horror film. Though suspenseful in parts there is a noticeable lack of scares or atmosphere surrounding what is supposed to be a very creepy house and no clear antagonist to speak of. Derivative in many ways, the film's most predictable element is it's "shocking twist" given away fairly early in the runtime, this twist has been directly cribbed from a recent well-known (and certainly more acclaimed) movie which I won't mention as it would spoil the surprise (if you hadn't already figured it out).

The film received a royal kicking from most critics and clearly the actors were embarrassed about their involvement but they shouldn't be, the 3 central performances  from Craig, Weisz and Watts are the only things that keep the film from being an utterly boring, predictable chore. Craig himself plays it a little bit wooden but Weisz gives a fine performance but as ever, Watts shines through whenever she's given enough time to do so. If anything I feel Watts was underused, especially as she has a proven track record in horror (The Ring, Funny Games) and I feel it would have been better to have given her the female lead over Weisz.

Cliched, predictable and boring at times but still enough intrigue to keep you guessing and engaged in the acting at other times, Dream House is a mixed bag. Nowhere near as terrible as the reviews suggest but instantly forgettable, I would only recommend the film to big fans of Craig, Weisz or Watts.

2 Stars **

What did you think of Dream House? Do you think the general critical consensus was fair?

Friday, 27 April 2012

Superior Remakes #2: Let Me In (2010)

Let Me In is a 2010 remake of the 2008 Swedish romantic-horror film Let the Right One In, itself an adaptation of the 2004 novel of the same name. The film is directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) and stars Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Hugo), Kodi Smit-Mcphee (The Road) and Richard Jenkins (The Cabin in the Woods, Stepbrothers). The film was one of the first production projects for the newly ressurected Hammer studios.

 The film follows the story of 12 year old Owen (Smit-Mcphee) and 12(ish) year old Abbey (Moretz). Owen is a lonely bullied child growing up in small town New Mexico, his life takes a turn for the better when Abby and her "father" (Jenkins) move into the local apartment complex. The pair soon become inseparable companions and Abby gives Owen the confidence to violently confront his bullies, however the budding romance soon takes a turn for the worst when it is revealed that Abby is actually a vampire who is hundreds of years old. Her guardian is not actually her father but rather the individual tasked with collecting blood so Abby doesn't have to get her hands dirty, but after he opts out of the relationship Owen and Abbey have nobody left but each other and their unconventional romance flourishes.

Let the Right One In is a tremendous film, original and groundbreaking in terms of the vampire sub-genre but as good as it is, Let Me In is simply better. The film's strengths are the same as the original in that it swings wildly between suspenseful, atmospheric horror and beautifully moving romance. The reason why Let Me In improves upon this dynamic is mainly due to the central performances by Moretz and Smit-Mcphee, this was Moretz's second major picture after her breakout in Kick-Ass and her performance in Let Me In solidifies her as a future star. In the original film I found the Oskar and Eli characters a lot less likeable and rather 2 dimensional at times which affected my investment into their relationship. However due to the performances in Let Me In the characters of Owen and Abbey are played with a lot more vulnerability and pathos creating a much more compelling romantic storyline.

Something which has divided audiences and fans of the original is the supposed exaggeration of the horror elements of the film when compared with the original. Although the Swedish version did underplay the horror brilliantly and used a more melancholic piano score it was not consistently subtle (CGI cats spring to mind) and I prefer the special effects of the remake, however much they steer the story into cliched territory. The muted palette of the original is also retained and is used very effectively to create the isolated setting of the film, as mentioned the score of Let Me In does employ a more melodramatic feel but I really enjoyed this and thought it evoked the gothic-romantic elements of a vintage hammer film.

It's not often that a tremendous foreign film is improved upon by an American remake but I truly feel that Let Me In is the superior film. Stronger acting, score and production values create an utterly immersive story that create the anomaly of a romantic horror film that doesn't wallow in sentiment or overplayed horror conventions, and that is a very tricky balance. I'm not a great fan of vampire films but I would place this amongst the absolute classics of the 21st Century, the original is definitely worth checking out as well but Let Me In is the version that will stay with me the longest.

5 stars *****

Which version do you prefer?

Final Chernobyl Diaries Poster

After a steady drip-feed of promotional material, it looks like we've arrived at the final poster for upcoming found footage flick Chernobyl Diaries, and it's badass! The Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) produced movie will hit cinemas May 25th and will follow a group of American tourists who discover that the ghost city of Pripyat is not so abandoned.

What do you think of the poster?

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Grave Encounters 2 plot details

Fans of last year's excellent found footage satire Grave Encounters will be pleased to know a sequel is on the way. This time the film uses a meta-narrative as a team of young ghost hunters return to the abandoned asylum to recreate the team's ill fated investigation!

Did you like the first film? What are you looking for in the sequel?

Dear God No! (2011): Review

Dear God No! is a 2011 exploitation revival movie. Written and directed by James Bickert and starring Jett Bryant and Paul McComiskey. The film includes many exploitation sub-genres such as; bikersploitation, nazisploitation, nunsploitation and psychedelic.

Dear God No! follows a gang of bikers known as the impalers as they indulge in their favourite hobby, raping and murdering the locals. After butchering rival biker gang "Satan's own", the gang chase after a pregnant couple who've had the misfortune of bearing witness to the slaughter. This leads them to a secluded cabin in the woods occupied by anthropologist Dr Marco (McComiskey), who lives with his strange daughter Edna and had invited the couple to see the results of his questionable experiments. The gang storm the cabin and proceed to do all sorts of reprehensible things to the women eventually leading to the discovery that Dr Marco's wife has been locked in the basement due to some sort of mutation experiment he had performed. This leads to the revelation that Dr Marco is a mad Nazi scientist and through his twisted experiments on the local wildlife has managed to create a vicious Sasquatch! This spells bad news for the bikers as they receive their comeuppance from the abomination, all with plenty of blood, fire and psychedelic music.

I think the exploitation revival movement is a great idea. With better technology and budgets, film makers are now able to recreate vintage trash but in the form of a more watchable movie. My favourite movie of the revival so far has been 2011's Hobo with a Shotgun, and this film very much follows in those footsteps both in terms of tone and ambition. The sheer range of exploitation sub-genres crammed in is mind boggling. Not content with making a straight forward bikersplotation movie (which this mostly is) the film makers throw in nuns, strippers, nazis and somehow, bigfoot! All set to a soundtrack of psychedelic rock and a backdrop of multi coloured collages bleeding into the picture at times which certainly creates an empathy between the viewer and the acid dropping bikers.

The budget on Dear God No! is dangerously low, with the effects and production values just passable but this is the beauty of exploitation revival. You can render a faithful homage to grindhouse on a shoestring budget because those films never aspired to be anything more than outrageous trash. Even wiser that they stuck with practical effects instead of being tempted into shoddy CGI and ending up like a sy-fy channel movie. The characters are two dimensional and certainly the biker gang all bleed into one entity, also some of the dialogue did stick out as being poorly written (even for an exploitation film) and didn't quite fit with the rest of the film.

Like most exploitation films Dear God No! is an acquired taste and will probably only appeal to genre fans. After the mainstream success of the Grindhouse double feature (2007) and cult success of Hobo, we are likely to see more ambitious tributes to vintage exploitation in the future. This film certainly won't achieve anything close to the success of those films but it does make quite an absurd attempt to cover all possible exploitation sub-genres in less than 90 minutes, and for me that made it a rather enjoyable watch.

4 Stars ****

What did you think of the film? What's your favourite "sploitation"?

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Mel Gibson for Machete Sequel?

News has emerged that Robert Rodriguez is keen to get Gibson on board for upcoming sequel Machete Kills. The film will see Danny Tejo reprise his role as the murderous federale but it is unclear what role Gibson would play and whether this would be good for his faltering career.

Do you want to see Gibson in the movie? Are you looking forward to the sequel?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Seven Psychopaths Poster

The first poster has been released for upcoming crime-comedy film Seven Psychopaths. Directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) the film features a stellar cast in Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Tom Waits, Woody Harrelson as well as the lovely Olga Kurylenko. It is expected to be released this autumn.

Are you looking forward to this? Did you like In Bruges?