Wednesday, 28 December 2016

TMMDI Top ten of 2016

2016 was a strong year for genre films but, in the end, bizarre indie films triumphed again (with Taika Waititi producing another instant classic). It was also one of the strongest springs in many years with 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Witch and High-Rise coming out within the space of a month.

Honourable mentions to The Eyes of my Mother, The Other Side of the Door, The Greasy Strangler, Lights Out, The Ones Below, Don't Breath and Hush.

1. Swiss Army Man

2. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

3. 10 Cloverfield Lane

4. The Witch

5. Hardcore Henry

6. High-Rise

7. Nina Forever

8. Arrival

9. The Neon Demon

10. Shin Godzilla

What were your favourite films of 2016? Have I missed any out?

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Blade Runner 2049: first trailer

A trailer has been released this week for the upcoming belated sequel, Blade Runner 2049. Although in development for a long time, the details and images have been scarce (which isn't like Ridley Scott). But now, we get a full look at the continued universe first created in the 1982 classic and it certainly doesn't disappoint on an aesthetic level.

The atmospheric trailer also confirms what many had suspected in that Harrison ford is handing over the Deckard role to Ryan Gosling, in all but name. It was always clear that Denis Villeneuve had the visual chops to recreate the neo-noir future of blade runner, we will have to wait until next October to find out if the story can also hold up to the high concept, existential watermark of the original.

What do you think of the trailer? Is it too similar to the look of the original?

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Rogue One (2016): Review

Rogue One is a 2016 science fiction film. Directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) and starring Felicity Jones (Cemetery Junction), Ben Mendelsohn and Riz Ahmed (Four Lions). This is the first spinoff from the main Star Wars universe and serves as a direct prequel to Star Wars: A New Hope (1977).

The film follows Jyn Erso (Jones), the daughter of an eminent empire scientist responsible for engineering the infamous Death Star space station. Forced to grow up as a fugitive, Erso eventually falls in with the Rebel Alliance after coming across defected Empire pilot Bodhi (Ahmed), who has information suggesting a fatal flaw in the Death Star. In the meantime, the Death Star is becoming dangerously operational under the supervision of Director Krennic (Mendelsohn) and Grand Moff Tarkin (CGI Peter Cushing). The group of rebels are eventually able to locate the vital Death Star plans on an Empire controlled tropical planet, leading to a showdown where they are forced to make the ultimate sacrifice to enable the victory that would follow in A New Hope.

It’s no surprise with Edwards credentials that Rogue One is a dazzling visual display with thrilling action set pieces that meet the always high standards of the Star Wars franchise. That the film breaks from the overexposed Jedi/Sith lore of the previous 7 films and attempts to forge its own narrative is extremely refreshing, especially in the face of the enormously disappointing Force Awakens. The characters are interesting and diverse, apart from the infuriating C-3PO rehash, and I especially enjoyed the double act of Chirrut and Baze, a Chinese due playing monk and mercenary respectively. The inclusion of Darth Vader in the film was initially a concern, however, I was impressed by the restrained use of the iconic character and surely no one could complain about THAT scene towards the end.

The areas in which the film falls down are exactly the same as The Force Awakens, lazy rehashing and an overreliance on nostalgia. As hard as the film tries, lack of an opening crawl and fresh musical themes for example, it still can’t resist the occasional smug nod to the original trilogy. This is most infuriating when the imperial droid character is substituting for C-3PO (and sometimes Chewie) at every available opportunity and produced many eye rolling moments. And this leads us to the elephant in the room, Grand Moff Tarkin. It is absolutely baffling that they felt the need to include a fairly minor character from the original film, much less that they chose to go the CGI route resulting in an effect that was more Scorpion King than Oliver reed. Nobody would have minded if they had recast the character and every time the glassy eyed rendition appears on screen (which is far too much) it drags the film down into parody.

As a standalone film about war and sacrifice, Rogue One would be considered great. However, the gravity of the franchise once again restricts the freedom of a Star Wars film and leaves Rogue One sitting just above the murky rehash that was Force Awakens. The gauntlet has been laid down for future filmmakers tasked with expanding the universe’s less travelled roads and I hope that the more adult oriented approach continues. But, for now, we have an enjoyable Star Wars prequel, and who has been able to say that before?
*** 3 Stars

What did you think of Rogue One? How do you feel it compares with Force Awakens?

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Eyes of my Mother (2016): Review

The Eyes of my Mother is a 2016 horror film. Directed by Nicolas Pesce and starring Kika Magalhaes, Diana Agostini and Will Brill. The film is Pesce’s directorial debut and premiered at the Sundance festival.

The film is divided into 3 chapters; mother, father and family. In the first chapter a young Francisca (Magalhaes) witnesses her mother being brutally murdered but ends up keeping the attacker chained up in the barn and removing his eyeballs and vocal chords. In the second chapter, Francisca’s father also dies, although she attempts to preserve his body for a long as possible. She also meets a young girl in a bar and brings her back to her house, only to end up murdering her. And, in the third chapter, Francisca kidnaps a child and raises him as her own whilst also keeping the mother chained up in the barn to replace her previous pet. Things go drastically wrong when the child’s mother escapes and the authorities are alerted and close in on the demented Francisca.

I’m afraid Robert Eggers (The Witch) is going to have to move over, The Eyes of my Mother is the most visually striking horror debut of the year and is absolutely jaw dropping to witness. Although the setting is remarkably similar to The Witch (albeit more modern), Pesce opts for stark black and white and is the best use of the medium since last year’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. What’s even more impressive is that, even though there’s a strong suggestion that horrific violence is being committed, Pesce holds back from the obvious, instead choosing to cut to the aftermath, such as Francisca cleaning up a puddle of blood or placing extracted organs in the fridge. This is a clinical but also alarming technique and makes for a refreshing change from predictable gore.

Magallhaes is wonderful as the beautiful but twisted central character and Takashi Miike’s Audition (2000) immediately comes to mind during the more suspenseful sequences. If anything, you could say that The Eyes of my Mother isn’t doing anything all that new and the whole tortured captive angle has been touched on by everything from The Woman to Martyrs and back to Audition again. However, it’s the dramatic visual style and minimilast sound engineering (usually just the sound of leaves blowing in the trees) that create a haunting atmosphere that carries the film through to it’s grisly conclusion.

The Eyes of my Mother is both unapolagetically arthouse and relentlessly dark. Some of the nightmarish visuals will stay with you for a long time and is further proof that black and white cinematography still has a place and can still be incredibly effective. As debuts go, Pesce has set the bar incredibly high and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of the film? Did you like the visual style?

Friday, 9 December 2016

War for the Planet of the Apes trailer

The first full trailer has just dropped for the upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes and, to no ones surprise, it's absolutely stunning. Director Matt Reeves has been hard at work for many months in the Canadian wilderness with a cast including the returning Andy Serkis as well as Woody Harrelson. After 2 incredibly high concept installments, the franchise appears to be reaching new heights in terms of scale. Check it out...

And what about that bombastic score? We'll have to wait until next July to see Caesar and his Ape army make their last stand against "the Colonel's" forces but anticipateion is extremely high for what will hopefully make for a flawless trilogy.

What do you think of the trailer? Are you a fan of the rebooted series?

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Xenomorph returns in new Alien: Covenant poster

A new teaser poster has been revealed for the upcoming Alien: Covenant and, after a long absence, the Xenomorph has returned! What's almost as exciting is the news that the movie will be released in May 2017, that's an entire 3 months earlier than scheduled.

Although there's been a steady dripfeed of promotional material for Ridley Scott's follow up to the much maligned Prometheus (2012), this first, sparse glimpse of the Xenomorph in all it's glory has me extremely excited! In 6 months we will all find out if Scott can correct the disaster of Prometheus...

What do you think of the poster? Are you excited for Covenant?

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Yoga Hosers is a 2016 horror comedy film. Directed by Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy) and starring Harley Quinn Smith (Tusk), Lily-Rose Depp (Tusk) and Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). The film is the 2nd entry in Smith’s “True North” trilogy, following 2014’s Tusk and preceding the upcoming Moose Jaws.
The movie follows the Colleens (Harley Quinn and Lily-Rose), 2 convenience store clerks who are also well versed in yoga. In school, the girls are taught the unlikely history of the Nazi party’s rise in Winnipeg, as well as their mysterious disappearance. After inviting a couple of high school guys back to the store to party, who turn out to be Satanists, pint sized Nazis made of sausage (called bratzis) are unleashed as the stories turn out to be true. Framed for the murder of the boys, the Colleens are assisted by detective Guy Lapointe (Depp) in uncovering the plot by mad scientist Andronicus Arcane to clone himself with sausage and return 100 years after the war to take his revenge. Although restricted by their diminutive stature, the bratzis soon take the form of a giant hockey goalkeeper (made of human body parts) as the girls turn once again to their yoga skills to save the day.
Your enjoyment of Yoga Hosers will largely depend on whether you’ve adjusted to Smith’s stylistic shift from indie comedy to b-movie schlock yet. Tusk introduced the true north universe perfectly and was so dark and outrageous that it worked. Yoga Hosers leans much more on the ludicrous side than that film but there’s still plenty to enjoy if you set your expectations. The rampant nepotism on show tends to impact the quality of acting on show (with much of the cast dangling from the Smith/Depp family tree) but the girls real life chemistry serves to compensate for the obvious lack of experience. Harley Quinn Smith does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to the comedy and is much more charming than the bland Lily-Rose Depp.
Speaking of Depps. Johnny Depp continues to portray his most entertaining character since Hunter S. Thompson/Raul Duke and carries every scene he’s in. The mere pronunciation of much of his dialogue had me laughing out loud and he will almost certainly prove to be the mvp of the whole trilogy. Ultimately, I did feel that the film suffered from a lack of strong antagonists in the form of the various Nazi creations. Clearly, Nazi sausage babies were intended to come across as ridiculous as possible but, along with the stock mad scientist character, the whole thing felt like quite an underdeveloped idea.
Coming across as a poor man’s Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010) in many instances, Smith’s latest effort will raise a few laughs and progresses the True North trilogy quite nicely. However, Yoga Hosers comes up short against it’s predecessor Tusk and fans of Smith’s beloved “Askewniverse” will likely find little appeal in this kind of b-movie fare.
** 2 Stars
What did you think of Yoga Hosers? Are you a fan of Smith’s more recent work?

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

"Split" gets a new poster

A new poster has been revealed for the upcoming M Night Shyamalan thriller "Split". The always excellent James McAvoy takes centre stage (well, slightly to the left of stage) as the creepy antagonist with multiple personality disorder. 

The poster also gives us more insight into the plot as we learn that McAvoy's character will develop his 24th personality. We'll find out exactly what that means in January!

What do you think of the new poster? Are you excited for the movie?

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Kong: Skull Island gets new trailer and posters

It's been a big week for the upcoming Kong: Skull island as the film has received 2 new posters as well as a full length trailer. As you can see, one poster seems to opt for the classic Apocalypse Now sunset look, giving a sense of scale to Kong, whereas the other focuses on revealing the big ape in all his glory. 

The trailer, however, seems to mark quite a shift in tone from the comic con teaser earlier this year and comes across as more playful and fun (the less said about John C Reilly's Dennis Hopper impression, the better). It also shows us that, true to the original, Kong is a morally ambivalent character that protects the island from other creatures, including the fascinating new "Skullcrawlers". 

Much like Godzilla 2014, it's good to see them introducing new antagonists for Kong to fight rather than go back to the tired dinosaur battle that we've seen time and time again. Although, there's every reason to believe the king will have smushed a few humans too by the tie it's all said and done. Kong: Skull Island comes out March 2017. Check out the trailer...

What do you think of the trailer? How do you think it will compare to other versions of Kong?

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Arrival (2016): Review

Arrival is a 2016 science fiction film. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) and starring Amy Adams (The Master), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) and Forrest Whittaker (The Last King of Scotland). The film is adapted from the 1998 novella “Story of your life”.

The film follows linguistics expert Louise (Adams) who is sought out by Colonel Weber (Whittaker) after Aliens arrive on earth via several enormous “shells” dotted around the globe. She is enlisted to visit the shell which arrived in Montana, along with Physicist Ian (Renner), and attempt to decipher the Alien language, both spoken and written in cryptic symbols. However, all across the world, other nations are reacting to the alien crafts in different ways as China and Russia threaten to use more aggressive tactics. Under the immense stress of translating an unintelligible alien language, Louise also has to deal with harrowing flashbacks of her daughters short life, which may just provide the clues to achieving full comprehension of the Heptapod language and uniting Earth under a new peace.

From the start, it’s clear that Arrival is a thinking man’s alien invasion film and there will be no exploding landmarks or rampaging monsters. However, that’s not to say there isn’t a great deal of spectacle on show and Villeneuve’s proven track record on the arthouse circuit transfers surprisingly well to the bigger budget. Jaw dropping vistas feature the simplistic alien crafts hovering over the landscape, fog rolling over the hills or a gigantic shadow being cast over the ocean. The film is visually astounding and dripping in atmosphere, helped in no small part by the excellent sound engineering. The alien design, whilst nothing terribly original, is effective in directing the audiences attention towards the language of the creatures, frequently vocalised through massive bowel shaking groans and clicks.

The backbone of Arrival is it’s tone and allegorical messages. The Alien creatures are more imposing than scary and they have come to help us rather than annihilate us, despite the paranoia of the warmongering sections of humanity. It is a rare message indeed in the alien invasion genre and has never been more relevant than in the current times we live in, reflecting the aggressive posturing and xenophobia of many modern day nations. The tightrope act of trying to understand a race despite very little common ground, the potential for misinterpretation, the arrogance of mankind. These are all extremely topical themes to draw on and is an impressive adaptation when you consider the source material was written 18 years ago. What’s also really beautiful about the film is the micro crisis that Louise faces, woven into the larger doomsday plot. The flashback sequences which feature memories of her daughter are moving and poignant and form a beautiful emotional crescendo towards the end of the film when their true meanings are revealed.

Refreshingly thoughtful and beautifully crafted, Arrival is not your average alien film in the best possible way. Fitting in alongside other thought provoking, introspective sci fi gems like Blade Runner (1982), Contact (1997) or Monsters (2010) the themes and visuals will stay with you for days if not weeks. If this is Villeneve's audition for big budget, intellectual sci fi, then Blade runner 2049 is in very good hands.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of Arrival? How does it rank among other alien invasion films?

Monday, 14 November 2016

Trailer for creature feature "Gremlin"

A trailer has been released for upcoming monster flick "Gremlin". Directed by Ryan Bellgardt (Army of Frankenstein), the film follows a mysterious box which holds a terrible secret...a tiny monster! The only way to get rid of the box is by giving it to someone you love, thus passing on the curse. Check out the trailer...

Obviously there are a lot of different influences going on here. From Hellraiser and The Ring, to Cloverfield and Godzilla and the special effects look fantastic. The film will be released independently over the coming months.

What do you think of the trailer? Can you spot any other influences?

Monday, 31 October 2016

Happy Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is a 1988 slasher film. Directed by Dwight H. Little (Bloodstone) starring Donald Pleasence (Halloween, Phenomena), Danielle Harris (Hatchet II) and Ellie Cornell (House of the Dead). The film was the first Halloween movie in 6 years and the first to be produced without co-creators John Carpenter and Deborah Hill.

Halloween 4 is set ten years after the events of the original film. Once again, the psychotic Michael Myers has escaped from a lunatic asylum and is on his way back to Haddonfield to kill his niece Jamie (Harris), daughter of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) who has moved into a foster home. Pursued once again by Dr Loomis (Pleasence), Michael starts ruining the town’s Halloween celebrations and ripping through the locals as the inept local law enforcement are organised by Loomis. Jamie’s stepsister Rachel (Cornell) is left to protect Jamie as Michael continues his rampage, despite the efforts of a vigilante mob, and a final showdown ensues in the Sheriff’s house.

As many people know, after the wild success of the first film, and it’s slightly disappointing sequel, John Carpenter and Deborah Hill conceived of a new vision for the franchise where every sequel would focus on a different Halloween story. This resulted in the cult classic Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) which, despite lacking  Michael Myers, weaved a spooky and clever story around Halloween masks that possessed children. However, come 1988, executive producer Moustapha Akkad wanted to revive the franchise and this meant bringing back the Icon himself, prompting Carpenter and Hill to promptly leave the franchise. You would think that the lack of the creative geniuses who spawned the franchise would harm the film, however, the film still works remarkably well and, as good as Halloween III is, Michael Myers is too effective a villain not to bring back.

Taking inspiration from the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises, which had already ballooned into parody by this point, Halloween 4 certainly cranks the volume up on the more nuanced atmospherics of the previous films. But still, the plot makes a remarkable amount of sense. Ten years have passed, a new generation of Myers is around, Haddonfield have almost forgotten about 1978. Aside from the old escaped lunatic thing, the plot elements fit really well in the updated setting and Danielle Harris is one of the better child actors to appear in an 80s horror film. Donald Pleasence is always a welcome presence on the screen, however, he looks like he’s starting to get a little sick of the franchise and his whispered/yelled dialogue does get a little annoying after a while. Although the film is pretty over the top in terms of its violence and dripping in the 80s, there is still a great deal of atmosphere retained from the original film and Carpenter’s creeping dolly shots live on. 

Stronger than most horror franchises by its fourth entry, The Return of Michael Myers delivers what it promises and there are certainly many franchises of the day that would’ve benefited from a 6 year gap and a break for their antagonist. A surprisingly inventive plot with a great shock ending and some excellent reworkings of the iconic theme music. Halloween 4 is a lot better than you remember.

What do you think of Halloween 4? Were you glad to see Michael Myers back?

Thursday, 27 October 2016

New Cloverfield movie coming next February

Interestingly, there appears to be a new Cloverfield film in production which is set for release in February 2017. Hot on the heels of 10 Cloverfield Lane (one of my favourite films this year), Paramount and JJ Abrams are looking to quickly expand the rather cryptic shared universe between the first and second films.

The new film's working title is God Particle, although you can expect that to change, and centres around a group of astronauts who make a terrible discovery (presumably in space). What's more shocking that this is the rumour that Paramount hopes to release a Cloverfield movie every year from now on. I'm a huge fan of the first 2 movies, and I can't wait to find out more about the mysteries that tie the universe together, but, annualising the franchise could be a mistake. We'll find out more when The God Particle is released in February.

Are you excited by the news? Do you think annualised sequels will overexpose the films?

Monday, 24 October 2016

Godzilla 2 moves forward with Krampus Writers

The upcoming sequel to Legendary studios 2014 Godzilla reboot, appears to be moving forward despite being dangerously close to falling into development hell. After original director Gareth Edwards left the project, there have been big question marks over who will take over writing and directing duties, pushing back the release date to 2019.

However, an answer has been found! Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields have just been signed up to write the movie, with Dougherty heavily rumoured to assume the directors chair as well. This is very reassuring as I had feared the sequel would suffer from the personnel changes and Krampus (2015), as well as Trick r Treat (2007), was an instant cult hit. As long as the duo can adapt from seasonal anthologies to giant monster movies, the King of the monsters will be in very good hands.

What do you think of the news? How do you think the sequel will differ as a result?

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Lights Out (2016): Review

Lights out is a 2016 supernatural horror film. Directed by David F. Sandberg and starring Theresa Palmer (Warm Bodies), Maria Bello (A History of Violence) and Alexander DiPersia. The film was adapted from Sandberg’s own short of the same name from 2013.

The film follows a dysfunctional family unit where Rebecca (Palmer) has become estranged from her mother Sophie (Bella). Struggling to raise her other child Martin on her own after the death of her husband, Rebecca becomes involved in the welfare of her younger sibling. However, Rebecca soon realises that the reason behind her mother’s failing mental health is linked to a figure from her past “Diana”, who now haunts the family but only under cover of complete darkness. Remembering Diana from her own youth, Rebecca investigates the origins of the spectre and attempts to unravel the mysterious link between Diana and her own family before it’s too late.

Lights Out made a huge impression on the horror community when it emerged as a startling short in 2013, and rightfully so. The singular image of a ghoulish silhouette that could be glimpsed one moment, and disappear with the flick of a light switch was genius in its simplicity. This carries through really well to the feature film as the mechanism is not only terrifying but extremely relatable and the interplay between light and dark evokes the most memorable of the German expressionist horrors (Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari). Similarities to Mama (2013), another feature film adapted from a short, are also unavoidable but favourable as both films succeed in adapting their simple ideas for a larger story.

Sadly, the film is hugely let down by its cast and it’s script with delivery of much of the dialogue feeling like the proverbial bucket of cold water after the heart pounding sequences featuring Diana. The exposition is clunky and the backstory constructed to flesh out Diana is simultaneously half baked and overwrought. Admirable attempts are made to create the kind of sympathetic backstory that is so effective in Japanese horror but It didn’t really work and I struggled to invest in any of the characters to a large degree. That being said, the nail biting visual direction and pitch perfect sound design serve to compensate for these shortfalls on many occasions, still making for an effective, traditional horror movie.

Lights Out is far from perfect, but, it serves to capture the suspense and atmosphere from its original incarnation in a way that many would not have expected. Best enjoyed with lights, and brain, turned off to enable maximum immersion into the terrifying world of the shadows. I guarantee you’ll think twice the next time you use a light switch.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of Lights Out? How do you think it compares to the short?

Friday, 14 October 2016

War for the Planet of the Apes gets first teaser trailer

A brief, but very exciting, teaser trailer has been released for the upcoming third entry in the acclaimed rebooted series. A visibly aged and weary Caesar (Andy Serkis) declares that "War has already begun!", which seems to be reflective of the older, darker character Matt Reeves and Andy Serkis have been pitching.

We'll have to wait until July of next year to learn the exact scale of the War and the fate of Caesar, a character which has been masterfully crafted by Serkis over the last two films. Combine this with the upcoming Skull Island, and we're in for a very Apey 2017 indeed!

What do you think of the darker style? Are you a fan of the rebooted series?

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Greasy Strangler (2016): Review

The Greasy Strangler is a 2016 black comedy film. Directed by Jim Hosking and starring Michael St Michaels (The Video Dead), Sky Elobar (Don Verdean) and Elizabeth De Razzo (Eastbound and Down). The film was also produced by Elijah Wood.

The film follows Big Ronnie (St Michaels) and Big Brayden (Elobar), a father and son duo who have an unusual relationship. Even more unusual is the fact that, at night, Ronnie transforms into a slimy, Creature from the Black Lagoon type monster, known as “The Greasy Strangler”. However, by day, Ronnie and Brayden happily run their disco tours business, and Ronnie enjoys Brayden’s greasy cooking (although not quite greasy enough). A rift soon appears between the two as Janet (De Razzo), a customer on one of their tours, comes between them and a pretty gross love triangle ensues. Eventually, Ronnie’s unexplained absences and penchant for greasy food arouse Brayden’s suspicion and he uncovers the mystery of the greasy strangler.

Hosking is mostly known for his contribution to The ABCs of Death 2 (2014) and the segment “G is for Grandpa” and, if you’ve seen it, you’ll get an inkling of the sort of weirdness you’re in for with The Greasy Strangler. The film wears it’s weirdness as a badge of honour and it’s this, rather than any particular genre, that defines the film. Of course, the easy comparison here is to the films of John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Hairspray) and that influence is certainly felt in its hyper-artificial dialogue, use of colour and trash tactics. You also get a little of flavour of Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) with the comedic style and timing and it reminded me of some of the more schlocky Troma films of yesteryear.

The performances of St Michaels and Elobar are really strong and, despite how deliberately unconventional this was intended to be, I ended up feeling pretty invested in the father and son relationship as well as Brayden’s ineffective attempts to woo Janet. The deadpan humour kept me laughing throughout and the over the top makeup effects, some of which I’m still trying to unsee, perfectly complimented this. As fresh and original as the film was, I did think it lapsed into a comfortable repetition towards the end where my interest started to flag a little. This didn’t detract from the overall appeal, but I would have liked a few more twists and turns in the plot to deviate from the cycle of the greasy strangler.

A bizarre and unusual film, The Greasy strangler marks a strong debut from Hosking and you’ll be unlikely to see anything quite like it this year (apart from Swiss Army Man maybe). Equal parts revolting, sweet, absurd and charming, this artsploitation flick will keep you laughing and ingrain mental images that may never leave you!

*** 3 Stars

What did you think of the movie? Was it too ridiculous?

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Chloe Moretz joins Suspiria remake

The remake of Dario Argento's Giallo classic Suspiria (1977) is well underway as Chloe Moretz joins the cast, along with Dakota Johnson (50 Shades of Grey) and Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer, Only Lovers Left Alive). Argento's countryman Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash) is directing and, although we don't know who Moretz will be playing yet, we do know that Johnson will be taking the lead Suzy, with Swinton taking the role of hard nosed headmistress Madame Blanc.

Regardless of what you might think of horror remakes, Moretz certainly knows a thing or two about hem as this is a record 5th for her! I'm also not a massive fan of the original, iconic as it is, so am pretty interested to see what Guadagnino can do with it. He's certainly assembling a strong cast! The film is scheduled for release next year.

What do you think of this remake? Would you like to see more Giallos remade?

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

31 (2016): Review

31 is a 2016 American horror film. Directed by Rob Zombie (The Devil’s Rejects, House of a 1000 Corpses) starring Sheri Moon-Zombie (every Rob Zombie Film), Jeff Daniel Phillips (The Lords of Salem) and Richard Brake (Hannibal Rising). The film was partly financed by crowdfunding.

31 follows a group of carnival workers as they drive through the countryside on the way to their next gig. Along the way, they get jumped by a gang of stripy, clown faced goons and wake up in an underground facility being taunted by weirdos dressed as 18th century nobility (including an obligatory appearance from Malcolm McDowell). They are informed they have been ensnared in a deadly game where they will be hunted by a gaggle of carnival themed assailants, including a dwarf dressed as Hitler, a pair of chainsaw wielding clowns and ultimately the sinister “Doom-head” (Brake). As they’re picked off one by one, it comes down to a final confrontation between Charly (Moon-Zombie) and Doom-head as they battle up to the surface again to try and finish each other off before 31 ends.

If there is one talent that Rob Zombie possesses (and believe me, it is only one), it’s being able to make a film simultaneously ludicrous and incredibly tedious. There is only the most basic semblance of a plot and not a shred of originality and, as with many Zombie films, you can check off the clichés as you go (seriously, chainsaw wielding clowns?). Things could have gone very differently for poor old Robert, as since he burst on the scene 14 years ago exploitation films have seen quite the revival largely due to people like Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Jason Eisener. The sad truth is, whilst Rob Zombie clearly loves exploitation movies, he has no idea how to write one and it’s no coincidence that his grindhouse trailer "werewolf Women of the SS has not received the feature film treatment whereas Hobo with a shotgun and Machete have (I want my Nic Cage Fu Manchu dammit!). 

The dialogue is cringeworthy, even by exploitation standards, and does nothing to propel the plot or develop the cartoonish characters who are lazy pastiches of 70s horror movie tropes to begin with. Even Moon-Zombie looks pretty bored playing more or less the same character she plays in all of her husband’s films. The only saving graces of the movie are the gore, which Zombie always executes to a high standard, and the refreshing performance of Richard Brake as the psychotic “Doom-head”, dumb character name aside. From his opening black and white monologue, to his closing speech as he taunts Charly, he takes the wonky grindhouse dialogue and delivers it like he means it with the kind of intensity I’d like to see explored by more adept directors. 

 Not content with remaking other movies, Zombie has now started remaking his own films and the result is one of his more brainless efforts to date. His filmography is not without it’s cult following, but even fans of The Devil’s Rejects will find little to satisfy their longing for a continuation of the tired Texas Chainsaw tribute act. Rob Zombie’s career continues to mirror his decomposing, shambling namesake, and not even crowdfunding can bring him back to life after this one.

* 1 star

What did you think of the movie? Are you a fan of Zombie’s earlier work?

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

What we do in the Shadows getting TV spinoff

Last year's cult hit What we do in the Shadows is getting the TV spinoff treatment in the form of "Paranormal Event Response Unit". Whereas the mockumentary film focused on the trio of Vampires, this will focus on the police officers who only featured in one scene. 

This is obviously great news as WWDITS was the best film of last year and we're already getting a sequel in the form of "We're Wolves". And let's not forget, the last time Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi collaborated on a TV show, we got Flight of the Conchords! 

Are you excited for the TV show? Is the franchise being overexposed? 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Turbo Kid Returns!

Great news for fans of last years post apocalyptic romp Turbo Kid, as not only has a sequel been greenlit, but a prequel music video has been released to tide us all over. The sequel will directly follow the events of the first film, in which "the Kid" befriends loveable android Apple in a quest to overthrow evil warlord Zeus.

The music video, however, follows the Apple's adventures before the events of the first film and another unlikely friendship (all set to French style electro-pop, naturally). Check out the video and expect Turbo Kid 2 in the near future..

Were you a fan of Turbo Kid? Do you like the idea of a music video prequel?

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Swiss Army Man (2016): Review

Swiss Army Man is a 2016 black comedy film. Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka DANIELS) and starring Paul Dano (Prisoners, There Will be Blood), Daniel Radcliffe (The Woman in Black, Horns) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, The Thing). The film won the diecting award at Sundance film festival.

The film follows the plight of Hank (Dano), a depressed man who’s been marooned on an island and is about to hang himself when he is interrupted by the farting corpse of Manny (Radcliffe) washing up on the shore. After using Manny as a jet ski, propelled by the afore mentioned flatulence, the pair make it to a remote part of the mainland. Hank soon discovers Manny has several different powers that can help him to survive in the wilderness doubling as a well, a gun and an erection based compass, to name a few. As Manny is slowly brought back to life, Hank has to teach him about the world and society, even though Hank himself is a shy introvert and barely functioning member of society. Their mutual love of the mysterious Sarah (Winstead) eventually leads them back to civilisation, however, other people are not quite ready for Hank and Manny’s unconventional relationship.

Swiss Army Man garnered a lot of attention at its Sundance premiere owing to the fact that quite a famous actor was portraying a gassy cadaver. This is entirely understandable, however, this device is really part of a larger unique comedic style, intended to provide relief for Dano’s somewhat depressing character. What attracted me to the film was the brilliant cast. Dano has slowly been building a reputation as one of the best actors of his generation for a number of years, Radcliffe has obliterated any child actor stigma through a series of strong genre films and Winstead, despite being in a limited role here, is simply one of the finest actors in the world right now and I would watch her in anything (even Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter!).

The performances on display here are outstanding. Beyond Radcliffe’s quirky physical comedy there is a fantastic homage to Frankenstein’s monster as he transforms from a primitive, childlike brute into a fully emotive human, trying to remember a life that was lost. Dano is the straight man in this strange double act, lending real pathos to the film as we delve into Hank’s anxious romantic fantasies and the chemistry between the misfit characters is as heartwarming as it is perverse. Ultimately, the film has a lot to say on modern society and what is considered socially acceptable or not and many of the seemingly throwaway lines of dialogue exchanged in the style of the buddy movie, will linger in the mind for some time afterwards.

Dismiss it as “the farting corpse” film at your own peril, this is far more intelligent and sensitive a film than the sensational “sundance walkout” stories suggest. DANIELS are off to a great start and Dano and Radcliffe have another instant classic to add to their credits. Weird and wonderful in every way, for every 20 remakes or sequels there is a truly original film and, this year, it’s Swiss Army Man.

***** 5 Stars

What did you think of the film? Did you like the dark quirky comedy?

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

John Carpenter "Reviews" Rob Zombies Halloween

It's taken nearly 10 years, but Horror legend John Carpenter has finally given some thoughts on Rob Zombie's remake of his classic Halloween (1978). Carpenter stated that “I thought that he took away the mystique of the story by explaining too much about [Michael Myers]. I don’t care about that. He’s supposed to be a force of nature. He’s supposed to be almost supernatural. And he was too big. It wasn’t normal.”

Whilst none of this is news to any of us who had to endure Zombie's abomination, and it's equally horrific sequel, it's interesting to finally hear Carpenter's thoughts on the most recent incarnation of his famous creation. As the widely acknowledged "Master of Horror", Carpenter had a streak of classic movies in the 80s, but is no stranger to making a few clangers in his career (whereas Zombie mostly makes clangers).

It is also worth noting that Carpenter stated Zombie was "a piece of shit" and he "lied about me", possibly indicating more personal feelings in the mix. Zombie's latest film "31" is out now, whereas, the Carpenter produced Halloween reboot is expected in the near future. The battle continues!

What do you think of Carpenter's comments? Is the Halloween remake really that bad?

Monday, 26 September 2016

Rings gets delayed...again!

Paramount's much delayed sequel to the American Ring franchise has received another setback on it's never-ending road to release. Despite being given a firm October release date and an extensive trailer, the film has somehow been pushed back to 2017. 

Considering Rings was originally slated for a November 2015 release, this can't be good news for the eventual project. There has been no explanation for the move.

Do you still care about Rings? Do you think the delays will improve the final product?

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Blair Witch (2016): Review

Blair Witch is a 2016 found footage horror film. Directed by Adam Wingard (The Guest, Your Next) and starring James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid and Brandon Scott. The film was known simply as “The Woods” until this July, when it was revealed to be a sequel to The Blair Witch Project (1999).

The film follows James (Allen McCune), who is putting together a crew to go and look for his sister Heather, who was never found following the events of the first film. After being contacted by some locals who claim to have information which may lead them to the mysterious house in the woods, he sets off with girlfriend Lisa (Hernandez) and friends Paul (Scott) and Ashley (Reid). However, soon after entering the woods, the group becomes lost as the locals confess they may have exaggerated their knowledge of the local area. This leads to them being pursued through the woods by the dreaded Blair Witch, culminating in a showdown at the creepy house where the original film’s characters met their demise.

When I first became aware of “The Woods” I thought it appeared an incredibly generic horror movie, despite my appreciation of Adam Wingard’s previous films. Then, when it was revealed to be a Blair Witch sequel, I was intrigued as I have a great affection for the original movie (being the first horror film I saw in the cinema) but, I was wary of that all important word “sequel”. Nowadays, directors are terrified of being perceived as a remake so often masquerade as a sequel/prequel (see 2011’s The Thing) in an attempt to preserve the integrity of their film and, I’m afraid, that’s exactly what’s happened here.

Despite some excellent direction and atmospheric sound design, Blair Witch follows the plot of the original extremely closely failing to take any risks and lacking the subtlety of the original movie. The film is rife with horror clichés, jump scares, plot holes and lazy characterisations such as the useless female character that keeps falling over. Other than the mission to find Heather, the motivations of the characters never really became clear and several sub plots were half baked to say the least, strange objects being pulled out of wounds and the irregular passage of time. Not only were the mysteries in this film left unexplained, the filmmakers also seemed intent on demystifying the franchise by actually showing the Blair Witch, clearly missing the entire point of the original movie.

For every effective scare and authentic found footage moment, there’s a lazy jump scare or a baffling plot decision. Blair Witch commits the cardinal sin of a sequel in not only failing to support its predecessor but actively undermining it. This is a remake of The Blair Witch Project, and a disappointingly by the numbers remake at that and Director Wingard, and writer Simon Barrett, are so much better than this.

** 2 Stars
What did you think of the film? Did it copy the original too much?