Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Surrogates
Dir: Jonathan Mostow
2009
***
Surrogates is a sci-fi thriller very much in the style of Phillip K. Dick but is much better than most of the films based on his work, certainly the ones of recent years anyway. It's had a lot of bad press, most of it unfair in my opinion. Maybe many felt let down because of the low budget vs. huge potential but then I think you can spoil a story like this with overblown budgets and for me the balance was just right. Many people still haven't forgiven Jonathan Mostow for Terminator 3 but then again, I also didn't think that deserved the bad press it received. It's better than most of the garbage Hollywood churns out in trying to master this genre. Low budget = high creativity 98% of the time.
La Vie en Rose
Dir: Olivier Dahan
2007
****
A brutally honest portrait of a troubled singer, Edith Piaf's life was a strange mix of success and tragedy but at no point does the film sugar-coat her or cover up the fact that a lot of it was just down to her. The jumping between different stages in her life was a little annoying at first but it becomes apparent as to why they chose to do it that way at the heartbreaking and astonishingly moving conclusion. Marion Cotillard's performance is spectacular, never has an actor been so brilliantly cast in a specific role. A powerful biopic, the best I've seen in quite a while and highly recommended!
The Lady Vanishes
Dir: Alfred Hitchcock
1938
****
The Lady Vanishes is actually quite clumsy. The overlong introduction is pointless, many of the characters bring nothing to the overall story and all seriousness is continually interrupted by misplaced humour. Nothing about it should work, if it were put forward today it would be torn to shreds by a writing team and would be unrecognisable. The thing is though, is that for all its failing, it's a fantastic little film. Maybe it's the best example of Hitchcock's greatness because everyone loves it despite and maybe even due to it's failures. It is very likable, has a great cast of characters and an unforgettable and brilliant ending. It goes to show how some producers still can't get things right too, we're all too used to formula, Hitchcock addressed this (and also added to it through no fault of his own) and film makers should look at what he didn't do just as much as what he did.
Detachment
Dir: Tony Kaye
2011
**
An over-baked mess of good ideas. If the idea was to make a statement on the American educational system then it should have focused on that instead of all the other distracting sub-plots. It all seemed a bit cliched, like a mix of scenes and characters (and cinematic styles - non of which Kaye can call his own) from other films. In my opinion Tony Kaye fails to get the message across (again) because he totally lacks focus. I really wanted to like it, there is a good film in there somewhere, it's just confused and contrived beyond recognition. Brody and Caan's performances are the high points and I loved seeing Louis Zorich again. It is Tony Kaye or is it the producers that make all his work suffer?

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Superman and the Mole Men
Dir: Lee Sholem
1951
****
Obviously Superman fans and fans of the old Cinema reel series are going to love this but others may be disappointed. The Mole-men (although they are only ever referred to as the 'strange creatures') aren't exactly Superman's biggest foe (excuse the pun). This tale is more about acceptance and understanding over violence, which to be fair has always been Superman's biggest opponent. Dated for sure, but a great short film. Phyllis Coates was a great Lois Lane, I think I preferred her to Noel Neil if I'm being honest.

Away We Go
Dir: Sam Mendes
2009
*****
No, I didn't like American Beauty or Road to Perdition. Mainly because American Beauty was totally over-hyped, I couldn't relate to any of the characters and I believe it only did well because there wasn't much competition in the cinemas at the time. I didn't like Road to Perdition because it was a poor adaptation of one of my favourite comics and I'm a purist. I quite like everything else Sam Mendes has done though (apart from breaking poor Kate Winslet's heart that is). Away We Go is his best so far. I loved the relationship between Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph), I love the way they ask themselves at the age of 34 "Are we F**k ups?". Been there! Both are trying to find themselves in amongst their home, family and friends and each other which will sound pathetic to anyone of a younger age but just you wait, one day you will realise that a lot of your friends are actually selfish idiots with right-wing tendencies and you wont see it coming (that's my story anyway). Families can be equally rubbish when you least expect. The characters in Away we Go are exaggerated but then we all know that one couple that you wouldn't believe if you were told about by someone else. What I really liked is that they worked out everything together, there was none of the cliched 'Break up, have sex with someone else, apologies, declare undying love after all, forgive, get married instantly, etc etc' nonsense. It's a real love story, not the usual Hollywood rubbish that is fantastical and usually pretty far from real life. I'm not saying Away we Go is a work of realism but it has all the charm and beauty that a loving relationship can have and it's nice to see that in film for a change. I loved it.
Take This Waltz
Dir: Sarah Polley
2011
****
It's only now that I've realised that it's that Sarah Polley who directed both this and Away from Her and starred in Go and Dawn of the Dead. I like her acting but I'm liking her behind the camera work more so, her direction in Take this Waltz is impressive to say the least. At first I wondered if it was style over content, there is only so much you can appreciate the props and sets (the wife and I gushed somewhat over the house used in the film). It's safe to say that I wasn't liking a lot of what was going on during the best part of the film, I really didn't like where it was going and I felt quite frustrated watching it. That is why the last 20 minutes has the impact it does. I've always said, a film can really redeem itself in the last few scenes if done well and this is a perfect example of that. I thought it was original and clever, never predictable and wholly satisfying. Seth Rogen deserves credit for his performance and it's safe to say Michelle Williams is my favourite actress working today, her turn in this is a good example of why, she goes from strength to strength. One of my favourite of 2011.


Room 666
Dir: Wim Wenders
1982
*****
Room 666 is an interesting historical film piece. I say that because it's basically pure speculation from a 1982 viewpoint. Basically, during a film festival, director Wim Wenders convinced a selection of attending directors to come up to room 666 to be interviewed. Each had one reel and 11 minutes and a set list of questions to answer. Some directors get it right, some get it wrong, it's fascinating to see who has 'Made it' since and who has disappeared into nothingness. Highlights include Godard's mumbled wisdom, Herzog taking his shoes off, Spielberg being right on the money and Paul Morrissey getting it completely wrong and showing himself up for what he really is. A great insight for real film fans!

Friday, 22 August 2014


Après vous (After You)
Dir: Pierre Salvadori
2003
***
Après vous is entertaining enough but is mainly carried by it's two main leads, Daniel Auteuil and José Garcia. I felt it started better than it ended though, as it lost pace and energy towards the end and I can't say I was a fan of the conclusion. However, it was quite funny and farcical and you can't beat a good old fashioned French farce. It is possibly the one and only time I'll say this but maybe an American remake wouldn't be such a bad thing!
The Wild Blue Yonder
Dir: Werner Herzog
2005
****

Werner Herzog is an astounding film maker, a genre unto his own, largely self-taught and always looking at life from a different angle. His documentaries are outstanding and his fictional films breath-taking, but it is his other films, the fantastical documentaries (if you will), that never quite hit the mark for me. I suppose the problem with watching films such as The Wild Blue Yonder and Lessons of Darkness is that you worry that the fictional will affect his factual. His great documentaries are very real, but do his documentary-style fantasies cheapen them and make them less believable. If you’re true disciple of Herzog you won’t worry about such things, you’ll just sit back and let his work engulf you but as a film reviewer it has made me wonder. 2005’s The Wild Blue Yonder is a sci-fi narration by an Alien (played by Brad Dourif rather convincingly) that overlays re-contextualized documentary footage filmed by NASA (specifically footage taken by Atlantis in 1989 during its STS-34 mission) and underwater footage captured by Henry Kaiser during his 2001 trip to Antarctica. Kaiser, a musician and composer and good friend and collaborator of Herzog’s, spent two and a half months in Antarctica on a National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program grant and took hours of footage as a research diving assistant. I wouldn’t be surprised if his footage was the main source of influence on Herzog’s experimental film. Take away the archive footage and you’re just left with the rantings of Dourif, improvising a Herzog script – which I could personally watch all day long – but isn’t quite what most people expect from your typical film maker. It’s my kind of fantasy I will admit, although I think I like the idea more than I like the execution. It’s worth watching for the space/underwater scenes, the otherworldly pictures do help convince you that the supposed nonsense our alien friends is speaking of could indeed be plausible, and in that sense it is mission success – Herzog has, once again, made us think in way we probably never have before. I could be somewhat skeptical and suggest that Herzog playing the same two tricks he always plays; hypnotize and exploit but I don’t truly believe it. He’s a pioneer, some ideas will survive the test of time longer than others and even though much of the footage isn’t his, there is still no other film like it, his own Lessons of Darkness being the only one that comes close. It’s a totally different film, but my hope is that one day Herzog will do with The Wild Blue Yonder what he did with Little Dieter Needs to Fly and make it into a dramatized feature. His low-budget, nonconformist approach these days means it is unlikely but I can dream.
PreciousBased on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Dir: Lee Daniels
2009
****
A brave and uncompromising drama that avoids any 'Hollywood' sugar-coating and says exactly what it want to say. Sidibe is great in the title role but it's Mo'Nique's terrifying performance that really steals the show. Some of the reactions and gasps that came from the audience when I saw it could have easily been mistaken for those that a gory horror film would usually warrant. The script was very good and the direction was competent, was it Oscar worthy? Hmm, not sure about that but then again, Oscars don't mean as much as they used to! Still, a good film and highly recommended!
Don't Go Near the Park (AKA Sanctuary for Evil)
Dir: Lawrence D. Foldes
1981
**
Don't go near the park has some decent gore scenes but overall it's a poor 80's cheese fest/'Video nasty'. I love 80's cheese fest/Video nastiness but unfortunately Don't Go Near the Park is rather boring and has one of the very stupidest of endings. Some say cult, others say crap - for my money it's somewhere in between but definitely leaning towards crap I'm afraid.
Clash of the Titans
Dir: Louis Leterrier
2010
***
I'm going to have to go against the grain on this one and declare that I actually really enjoyed this version of Clash of the Titans. Okay, so it is CGI heavy and I didn't like the Kraken at all but I thought the rest of the film bought the characters from Greek mythology to life quite admirably. As a kid I was really into Greek mythology so although it was likely I was always going to be pleased, I was also always going to be a harsh critic on this one but Leterrier did a good job I thought. I think the negative backlash it received is a little unfair, as entertaining action films goes I thought it was fantastic! I have to say though, I find it odd that Jason Flemyng has become the go-to man for disfigured monsters, how did that happen?



Memories
Dir: Kôji Morimoto, Tensai Okamura, Katsuhiro Ohtomo
2004
****
Memories is a collection of three unrelated Manga animations, each one made by a different director and with their own unique styles. Magnetic Rose, directed by Kôji Morimoto is the serious short that sees 2 astronauts trapped in a fantastical world aboard an unmanned spaceship. It's beautifully animated and aptly dark and mysterious, it's almost a shame that it wasn't made into a feature length film. Stink Bomb, directed by Tensai Okamura seems to be the least popular film of the three among viewers but I rather liked it. It is full of the odd, somewhat surreal humour that many Manga films are known for and it breaks up the two other films rather well - again, a feature length version or even a real life version (directed by either Joon-ho Bong or Joon-Hwan Jang) would be awesome! Last of all, Cannon Fodder, directed by Katsuhiro Ohtomo has a much more serious tone but a more childlike style of animation. It's quite Orwellian in its idea and like an Asian LS Lowry in its style (if you can picture such a thing). It's probably the most thought-provoking and original of the three films but I would say they are all equally good in their own different ways.
Bolt
Dir: Byron HowardChris Williams
2008
****
I absolutely adored Bolt. It's one of the few animated features I've seen lately that can actually boast the cliched line 'A film the whole family can enjoy'. It's not particularly predictable either, which is often the flaw of these films. The animation, story, script, voice talent and physical comedy are all very well done. It is one of the few really touching animated films out there, in fact only Toy Story 3 and Up have made me well up before this. I thoroughly love it, I'm perplexed as to why it isn't that popular!?

The Soloist
Dir: Joe Wright
2009
*
The Soloist was a huge disappointment for me as the trailer had made it look great. Okay, so Jamie Foxx's performance was very good and if Steve Lopez is as unlikable in real life as I suspect he is, Robert Downey Jr played him perfectly. The problem is that the film tries too hard to pull at the heart strings and in doing so it fails miserably. The film flicks clumsily between the present and the past and the characters never seem true to themselves and change without reason. The overall production is just plain lazy. A man's 20 year decent into mental illness is explored by merely shaking the camera for 5 minutes. Way to go Joe Wright! Also, we are supposed to be amazed by this talented 'Soloist' cellist but whenever he plays you hear a whole orchestra. Couldn't they have hired a profession cellist for the day? Don't get me started on the abysmally tasteless scenes with the homeless. Contrived nonsense written by an unlikable parasite of a man. Bitterly disappointing.
The Aviator's Wife
Dir: Eric Rohmer
1981
**
For someone who complains that there isn't enough character development and interaction these days I'm going to sound a bit hypocritical but quite frankly, The Aviator's Wife suffers from content over style. I didn't hate it but there was very little that really grabbed my interest and there certainly wasn't any pay off in the end. I like an Eric Rohmer film now and again but this is far from his best.
The Wedding Video
Dir: Nigel Cole
2012
**
The concept is okay, it's just not executed very well. There are some genuine funny moments, generally the bits where Rufus Hound and Lucy Punch are allowed to be themselves and there are some touching emotional moments. The scene in the kebab shop and the car on the way to the wedding were quite moving. It's just the rest of it that's crap. The ending was probably the worst scenario they could have come up with and ruins what good bits there are. A shame really, another typically unfunny British film that should have realised less is more. Also, Michelle Gomez is painfully unfunny and was given way too much screen time.
Nine to Five
Dir: Colin Higgins
1980
****
Nine to Five is very silly but all the better for it. I love Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and especially Dabney Coleman in this film. It's very of its time and it's a time in cinema that I'm extremely fond of. It's a shame many new directors, writers and producers of 'chick flicks' *shudders* don't take a page out of Nine to Five's book. Films can be silly without being stupid, don't have to be 'gross-out' and women can be funny! (just not the ones your casting right now).

Mississippi Mermaid
Dir: François Truffaut
1969
***
I can't say I'm surprised that Mississippi Mermaid was a career flop for director François Truffaut as it never really engages the audience because it is never believable and it leaps from one situation to another with absolutely no fluidity. It's a story that doesn't fit the style and unfortunately it doesn't make for an interesting of convincing production. There is a lot about it that I love, the performances from the ever wonderful Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Deneuve and the stunning visuals but apart from that it leaves a lot to be desired, particularly from a master of cinema such as Truffaut is.
Jindabyne
Dir: Ray Lawrence
2006
**
Ray Lawrence is a director I admire. His direction is generally always faultless and his films always stir up appealing yet somewhat awkward issues. Jindabyne raises social questions but does so in the slowest and most inane way possible. You don't have to be a Raymond Carver fan to enjoy it either, although that said I don't feel any adaptation of his work has ever fit a particular style or has indeed worked anyway. The pace is painfully slow, the editing lethargic and the performances inconsistent. It's amazing how such a thrilling premise could become something so stale, all intrigue is extinguished within the first third of the film and it never fully recovers. Watch it for the few moments of genuine tension or because either Gabriel Byrne or Laura Linnney are your favorite actors but that's about as far a recommendation as I can give.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Superman: Unbound
Dir: James Tucker
2013
***
Superman: Unbound is by far the best Superman animation in the last decade but that isn't really a huge compliment. It does stick to the Brianiac story arc quite well and fans of the comic shouldn't be too disappointed but it's still no masterpiece. There is enough material in the comics to warrant a longer and better film but that seems sum up DC animation of late. It all seems rushed and half-hearted. I'm not sure I liked this version of Supergirl either and Brainiac seems far more menacing in the comics but it's bright, fast paced and of a much higher quality than the previous few films. Fans only territory I would say but always read the comics first kids!
Superman vs. The Elite
Dir: Michael Chang
2012
**
Superman vs. The Elite sees a fairly awful incarnation of Superman fighting what have to be the worst Supervillains of all time. Lead by a flying Mancunian telekinetic, the Elite compose of a drunk Japanese magician (in a hat), a Green woman whose power is shooting slugs at people from her stomach and a token big bloke who is presumably a bit stronger but not as intelligent as everyone else. If any of that sounds any good then don't be fooled, it is not. Not even hearing Superman declare "kicking the snot out of wankers' is a bad thing could make up for its awfulness. It isn't anywhere near as fun as kicking the snot out of wankers, whatever the hell that is anyway.
Superman: Doomsday
Dir: Brandon Vietti, Lauren Montgomery, Bruce Timm
2007
**
This animated version of the Death of Superman story is just as good as the comics. That is to say, not very good at all. The best selling comic of all time is also possibly one of the worst comic book/Superhero story arcs of all time, to the 2007 animated film's credit, they left a lot of the really rubbish stuff out. That said, the very few good elements of the comics are also missing and the opportunity to improve on the story, which were many, were totally missed. It just feels like a really lazy short animated film for people who are too lazy to read the comics and probably aren't all that interested anyway. With the obvious lack of passion I do wonder what the point was? Stick to the Batman animations.
BellBook and Candle
Dir: Richard Quine
1958
***
I'm afraid after watching James Stewart and Kim Novak sizzle together in the classic Hithcock film Vertigo, released the same year, BellBook and Candle does quite satisfy. Obviously it's a totally different film to Vertigo (and a certain influence on the TV series BeWitched) but made so close together it was bound to raise comparisons. Vertigo shows an idea working well and BellBook and Candle shows an idea working less well. I'm even more disappointing as it has one of my all time favorites, Jack Lemmon is in it but has far too little screen time. There are of course lots of things to enjoy about the film, Stewart is Stewart but Novak is particularly delectable. It's a light comedy and as good as a light comedy can be.
In the Electric Mist
Dir: Bertrand Tavernier
2009
***
A Ghostly and somewhat surreal tale that I can see probably worked well as a novel but maybe not so much as a film. There are plenty of elements that I enjoyed but each scene, as good as they were, never really seemed to gel together in telling the same story. It's this lack of structure, or directional guidance, that misleads the viewer into a false sense of understanding. This isn't in order to be original either, I'm fine with a film being genre free, I just find it hard to watch a film that incorporates a hundred different genres without executing one adequately. I think pretty much everyone in the film is miscast too but I did genuinely love the idea, the mystery and the script. I'll just have to read the book Dave Robicheaux books.
Don Jon
Dir: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
2013
****
Don Jon is one hell of a debut film from Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Directing is something you can pick up while working in film I'm sure but writing a successful and original script requires talent and that's what Joseph Gordon-Levitt has in spades. Casting Tony Danza as his father is enough for me to love this film but it is its originality and alternative look at love and romance that really impresses. Exploring one's inner ignorance, the modern view of what love is (brilliantly explored from both ends of the spectrum; Church and internet porn) and the idea of someone as an object or a 'thing' rather than a person that you love are elements generally ignored by Hollywood or simply churned out as ridiculous gross-out comedies or contrived high-school dramas, none of which star Tony Danza. Dry in its humour, uplifting in its conclusion and impressive in its performances. Joseph Gordon-Levitt can do no wrong although my only criticism would be that it needed more Tony Danza.
RoboCop
Dir: José Padilha
2014
****
The question 'How do you remake a film like RoboCop' kind of misses the point. 'Why would you ever think of remaking RoboCop' is the better question but only after watching said remake did I realise the answer. The message of the original is strong and actually pretty important so it makes sense to update that for a younger audience. There are touching nods and references to the original film that the fans will understand and should like. The scene in which Murphy gets his hand shot off is the stuff of great playground debate when I was a child, so to do the opposite and only save Murphy's hand in the remake is my kind of quirky. Quirky is this film all over. The structure and idea are the same but just updated. The satire isn't the same but it is still there, it's just that pointing out certain issues such as the current use of drones is serious business. José Padilha has an agenda and he executes it perfectly and anyone who doubts him should watch Bus 174 immediately. RoboCop 2014 is just as anti-corporation as the first, it just goes that little bit further and is anti-media, anti-war, anti-neoconservative, anti-capitalist, anti-patriotism and just a smidge anti-American - or at least the bad elements of America I've already listed. Funny really how all of the satire that was overlooked in the first film seems to have also been overlooked here. Okay, so I liked the Silver suit better too and the soundtrack doesn't even compare but this is one remake that is more than competent, is justified and also quite brilliant.
RoboCop 2
Dir: Irvin Kershner
1990
****
Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner had nothing to do with RoboCop 2 and neither did Director Paul Verhoeven. They achieved everything they set out to in 1987's RoboCop which is rightly regarded as a modern classic. very little of the satire that made the first film great is present in the second film, it is essentially an action film that somewhat misses the point. However, I still think it's brilliant. It's the cheesy action film people that so many mistook the first film to be and I find it impossible to dislike. I even like all the aspects of the film that aren't very good but then nothing is ever taken that seriously. The original film got me into film big time, RoboCop 2 got me into comics. When I realised that Mr Frank Miller wrote the script it all made sense. I don't think it takes anything away from the original and with The War on Drug still a hot topic in 1990 it isn't that far from it's political satire roots.

RoboCop
Dir: Paul Verhoeven
1987
*****
I first saw Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop a couple of years after its cinema release. I was only 11 years old and it was the first 18 certificate (or X as I think it was known then) that I ever saw. On reflection, this moment was pretty important in my life as it was a pivotal moment in my movie loving life. I watched it with friends during a sleepover and we were all scared of being caught by my friend's mother. I was also scared of looking like a big baby in front of my friends if I indeed got caught out acting scared (due to being scared of the content). I was also scared of the content. Watching a man's hand being shot off or seeing a man melt in toxic goo is not really the sort of thing a 11 year old should be watching but then again if rules weren't broken the likes of RoboCop wouldn't exist anyway. At 11 all I saw was action, gore, guns, things I didn't understand and my curiosity in alternative film was born. Later in life I rediscovered so much more, indeed the actual point of the film. Children and narrow-minded adults often disregard RoboCop as nothing more then a violent action film. It is in fact one of the greatest works of satire of the 20th Century. An action packed violent satire but a satire all the same. The idea of corporations owning the rights to Police departments and social protection was a dystopian future nightmare in 1987 but one that has become a reality. Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner's Orwellian style vision of the future was miles ahead of its time (although it should be noted that RoboCop is in fact Judge Dredd:The Movie that didn't happen - so credit to 2000AD too). Police, Government and the Media governed by greedy corporations has pretty much all come true and the exaggeration that is RoboCop doesn't at all seem as far fetched and fun as it once did. To do all this and still insert humour into it is a mark of genius. Add the great characters, the great lines, the memorable scenes and the awesome soundtrack and you've got a modern masterpiece. I would indeed, buy that for a Dollar.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Niklashausen Journey (AKA Die Niklashauser Fart)
Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
1970
****
About as balanced and fair an argument for atheism as I've seen on film. There is an argument for anti-capitalism also but less so I thought but it does however show the negative similarities that religion and politics share. It's very Fassbinder. I love the way he visualises the modern narrative though, himself in a leather jacket and sunglasses, smoking on a cigarette. It's an interesting piece looking back at the story of Hans Boehm in 1476 but it's also an interesting piece looking back at cinema in 1970 and then again, it's an interesting piece looking at 1970s contemporary cinema looking back at the 1400s. It's probably best you watch it for yourselves, I highly recommend!
Zombie Flesh Eaters (AKA Zombi 2)
Dir: Lucio Fulci
1979
*****
Call it what you will, Zombi, Zombi 2, Zombie Flesh Eaters. I call it the latter personally because as cheeky as Lucio Fulci was by proclaiming it as the sequel to George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, he didn't need to as it really stands on it own two feet as a fantastic Zombie film. The opening scene of a crew-less ship sailing into New York harbour is unforgettable, and need I mention the Zombie vs. Shark scene? Absolute brilliance.

Women in Love
Dir: Ken Russell
1969
*****
Ken Russell really was a one off. He threw the rule book out the window when he adapted Women in Love from D. H. Lawrence's classic novel. Although it's set in the 1920's there is very much a late 60's feel about it, it's not dated as such but it's very much of its time. I think this film is unfortunately remembered for all the wrong reasons though and by that I mean remembered for all the wrong scenes - namely the nude wrestling scene. It's not a bad scene but there are other great, maybe even more important scenes with amazing performances and cinematography. The script is killer and the entire cast is astonishingly good and yet unsurprisingly so. Regarded as a classic, yet so few people seem to have seen it, I'm not sure why I left it so long myself either. Highly recommended!
Waxwork IILost in Time
Dir: Anthony Hickox
1992
****
Zach Galligan, Alexander Godunov, Martin Kemp, Patrick Macnee , David Carradine & Bruce Campbell. That's a hell of a weird cast eh! The sequel is pretty much the same premise, a mix of different genres but this time the sequences come in the form of a time machine rather than a fantasy Waxworks museum. Bizarrely, it seems more fathomable although all of the time periods, or at least the people they meet in them, are fictional. The story carries on immediately after the first film finishes with the hilarious continuity gaff of Monika Schnarre as Sarah, an actress 3 feet taller with hair a good 10 inches longer, again though it's all part of the fun. The medieval scene does drag towards the end but the brilliant Bruce Campbell scene more than makes up for it as does the funny montage towards the end. Classic comedy horror.
Waxwork
Dir: Anthony Hickox
1988
****
Waxwork is cheesy 80's horror at its very best. The actual idea is pretty good as it covers many genres in one go and with a bit of tweaking it could have been the next Creepshow but then again, maybe a bigger budget would have taken away all its charm. Watching Patrick Macnee shout "Oh my goodness" as he gets his head ripped off by a werewolf has got to be one of the best horror film moments of all time. Great cast, cool 80's gore and lots of laughs. Perfect.
Acid Spiders
Dir: Stuart Simpson
2011
***
Stuart Simpson is probably the best current Grindhouse director working today. Sure, he's one of a small group but what he delivers on a shoestring budget is inspirational to any wannabe film maker, whether horror is your thing or not. Acid Spiders is a short but sweet 15 minute film that more than highlights the directors talents. Someone please give this man a budget he can get his teeth into!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

El Monstro del Mar! (AKA Monstro!)
Dir: Stuart Simpson
2010
***
Super Vixens vs. Sea Monster? Yes please! Monstro! looks really good considering its tiny budget, the gory effects and the Sea Monster are actually quite impressive. My only criticism would be that, even thought the Vixens look the part, they can't act for toffee (and they could have been just that little more sultry). Apart from that and the not so great script, this is a top quality low-budget B-movie delight. It's worth checking out Simpson's other short films, Sickie and Acid Spiders.