Friday, 10 October 2014

Tiny preview of my newest piece...

No, I'm not the designer; I'm just the needle :-)

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Clean Up In Aisle...DEATH

4th Feb Removal

WHAT a generic title! I know my memory for names was never the best, even before I took all those bumps off the top rope, but I've been calling it 'Retrieval', 'Revival', 'Resolved'...Still, boring title, generic cover and misleading Lovefilm synopsis aside (and they have the WORST synopsis writers on god's green earth; they could make Gone With the Wind sound like Mandingo), this one was actually worth my time. I am made of surprise.

Though it was obviously made for less money than Avatar's second unit's weekly doughnuts and coffee expenditure, it actually looks good; had a real camera! Possibly more than one! And still my heart, a microphone that picks up dialogue! Le swoon.  Also, real actors that have been in other things, including Billy Burke: yes, Bella Swan's perennially-nonplussed father from the Twilight Saga; known affectionately to Rifftrax fans as Mustache Dad! He is one of the few things (apart from copious alcohol or a recent concussion) that makes sitting through any of those wimped-down-high-school-Langella-Dracula fanfilms bearable to a viewer whose age or IQ reaches double digits, and he's quite the dawg in this one too; yes, a mustache is evident, plus beard, and so at various times are a rather nice suit, and some unsuspectedly-rocking tattoos.

Louche Mustache is the cooler associate of a sad little schlub with a distracting resemblance to Sam Raimi after a fortnight without sleep (after the reviews of Spiderman 3, for example), who's having a really bad time of things. Glum Raimi's on the outs with his missus and son, and appears to be having some version of PTSD that led to him being institutionalised for a while (under the care of oh hi Elliott Gould; thanks for keeping your shirt buttoned up this time), and now has him under on the sort of heavy-duty medication regimen that means he probably shouldn't drive, drink alcohol or operate heavy machinery.  It's okay, though; he's found a cleaning job where he drives from house to house with a large industrial vacuum cleaner.  Oh.  Well, don't worry; at least he won't take the offer from the wealthy douche householder at his newest job (who's paying him $5,000 cash off the books to clean the whole house right here, no questions asked, and including the suspiciously pinkish stains on the white shag rug) to share several bottles of rich dick's mysteriously-missing-wife's red wine, though? Oh.  He makes poor decisions, is what I'm saying here; is that coming across?

Well, I'm sure the one-percenter-prick is just catching up with some overdue spring cleaning, what with all the heavy steamer trunks being shifted around, and there's no sinister implication to be drawn from privileged twatwaffle's butcher-knife fondling, and bottle-smashing fits of rage.  At all.  I must confess that imperious arsehole was the highlight of the film for me, and what a tall cool drink of paraffin he is; imagine that someone built a robot duplicate of Stephen King (quite poorly), then programmed it to be nothing but an arrogant jackass with a smug face you'd like to rearrange with a pickaxe handle. He's played by Oz Perkins [elephant in the room lives here], who also has a co-writer credit, and I choose to believe that he wrote his own dialogue, because it rings out of his mouth like Donald Trump tossing a fake nickel into a blind man's cup.

I like this one; the plot turns, but does not swerve, it's funny, and seldom runs out of steam, or into the 'yes, I know what's coming, sweet lord, can we just GET THERE, thankyou?' that seems to be a hazard with many thrillers that aren't quite as clever as they think they are.  It deserves to be watched by more people than just (judging by the IMDB's "People who liked this also liked..." recommendations) Kelly Brook completists and/or chronic masturbators.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Film is cheap, but talent is expensive

The Great American Snuff Film

Hmm, so; the 'Great' 'American' 'Snuff' 'Film', eh? Well, it's definitely...American, I suppose.

As for the rest...A more accurate title might be 'Cheap American Student Film', since it's firmly in the "We gots a camera, a scrapyard, and we know two girls willing to roll around on the floor covered in fake blood? We gots a MOVIE!" school of film-making.

In the place where a plot would normally be, we have two social rejects (thin Adam Savage and his accomplice, mid-90s WCW undercard wrestler who's taken one too many chairshots to the noggin), lots of wrecked cars, and two female friends of the production tied up on a trailer floor in shorts and tanktops.
 They (and we) waste time with clumsy molestation attempts from the lost Dudley Brother, and 'brandings' with obviously-not-lit cigarettes that leave no burn marks, while waiting for Monotone Man to cease his endless voiceover droning and get around to killing them.  It does make few feeble attempts to add in some True Crime-y details (David Parker Ray and Lake and Ng, mostly), and even claims to end (after the 'film' itself finally sputters to a halt) with some 'authentic snuff footage', but if you believe that tall tale, then I have this (guaranteed-not-swamp)land in Florida that I can sell you...

I only hope that none of these clowns has a wife/partner/mother that needed them to repaint the spare room, clear the yard or refinish the basement in the weekend this film took to make; that would be the saddest thing of all...

Friday, 24 January 2014

Where I whinge

Writing is hard.

Or, to express it more phonetically:  Writing is reeeeeally haaaard, you guuuuys...

It isn't physically difficult; I have a keyboard and a desk, and a relatively comfy chair; I'm not the Diving Bell and the Butterfly chap, and nor do I have to chip each letter from granite, or carve it into a block of wax with a style.

And law alone knows, I'm not in any danger of running out of things to say ["Shame!" drifts down from the peanut gallery].

But it takes so much time, that I could spend...making up excuses not to clean, watching wrestling PPVs, petting the cat, eating biscuits, reading Take a Break...

Yes, I'm lazy and undisciplined, and bad at the actual arse-in-chair fingers-on-keys grab words from my brain and turn the hot air from my mouth into permanent marks on the page bit.

I'm going to fail this 500-films-in-50-weeks project, I suspect.  I'm more certain of that than I am that Cena and Orton will spend 2014 playing swapses with the WWE title; more certain than Ric Flair turning up at a live event arseholed drunk and disgracing himself again; more certain than Tom Cruise spending the entirety of his next film being smug.

BUT; the discipline is good for me, and my ambition is to fail at it in a better and more spectacular way than I've ever failed before.


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Why does it burn when I slash?

19th January The Burning

I told you it was a Miramax film! In fact, their very first.  Just a bit different from their era of "Yo, middle classes: here's a book and some frocks, now give me a frigging Oscar", but still, it's all cool; New Line like to pretend they're not the House That Freddy Krueger Built, too.

One from my 'Somehow, I have never managed to actually watch this' list; I know, you'd think I would have, since it's a summer camp slasher film from the early 80s, with Tom Savini on the makeup duties; why am I not already there, at least since it's been available uncut for the last couple of years here in the UK?  Part of my 'thinking' behind this 500 films in 50 weeks project is to have a whole year of 'one day's; as in "I'll have to get around to watching that one day".

Well, for The Burning, that 'one day' is today;  witness the touching and doubtless Oscar-bait story of how grumpy drunk camp caretaker has his face accidentally burned off (don't mix naked flames and grain alcohol, kids!), is unsuccessfully rehabilitated, and (after a brief stopoff on the set of Maniac, apparently, in order to pick up a hooker, and butcher her when his melty-face look fails to turn her on) returns to the campsite to slaughter every mother's son in the place

How does it measure up against the campsite slasher subgenre's Ur-Text, Friday the 13th?, or the swaths of subsequent knockoffs?We have the Summer camp setting of course; an open and active one this time, that appears to cover ages 10 to mid-20s, or early-40s if you factor in the camp counsellors (even with hair, Jason Alexander does not look under 35). There is smoking of dope, and dipping of skinny, and pointing of view...or possibly viewing of point...? Anyway! killer's POV, with heavy breathing, and shears in shot. Effects are stellar, of course: SAVINI; need I add more? With a splendid burn makeup on the vexed caretaker-killer Cropsy (that makes Two-Face from The Dark Knight look like even more of the CG howler it truly is - how come his eyeball doesn't fall out?), and a jawdropping scene (restored for the first time in the UK) that de-builds a raft full of growing bodies 50 different ways in 5 minutes.

Unusually, the film is a lot more 'ethnic' than the homogenised norm for camper-slayers; though there are still fewer non-white faces than the front row at a Trace Adkins concert, at least everyone ISN'T a Gentile; including the Final Boy, who's more Leo Sayer than Jamie Lee, and sports an awesome Kotter 'fro that could deflect chainsaw blades on its own, and in a pinch can be used to hide small woodland creatures.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Going to Hell in WV

19th January Episode 50 [yes; I didn't wait for post #50 to do 'Episode 50'; bite me, it's fun!]

Things I now know about West Virginia:

  • Lots of Mines of one type or another
  • Brad Dourif (born in Huntington, WV; son of a paint and dye factory owner)
  • Large numbers of hardscrabble miners unaccountably voted for sleek, privileged East-Coaster John F Kennedy rather than for Hubert Humphrey in the 1960 Democratic Party Primary. With NO SUGGESTION of corruption or anything.
  • The Blue Ridge Mountains of (cf: Lonesome Pine, The; On The Trail Of)
  • It contains the literal gate to Hell.
Yes, the Hellmouth is not based in Sunnydale; or Louisiana; or New York, or New Jersey, or even Milton Keynes; it's below a museum and former Sate Prison in WV; thanks for clearing THAT up, Episode 50! (Though I'm not certain I wish to base any major theological decisions on a film that has its born-again character reference The Exorcist as the origin of its 'Call us Legion for we are many' reference, rather than the, you know, BIBLE. Crack a book once in a while, movie, eh?).

What we've got is a remake of Legend of Hell House, with the idiots going to an obviously haunted location at the behest of sinister wealthy person, with vaguely debunk-y notions, then are harshly disabused of them as BAD THINGS commence to happen.  Except here we have two competing groups of idiots (one not-Ghosthunters 'skeptic' lot with their cute little EMF meters and their leader with a TRAGIC BACKSTORY, and one set of deliverence-ministerers led by a floppy-haired humourless dick and his floaty Deanna-Troi-lite 'psychic'), rather than one.

Hell House's queasy sexuality has been purged, and replaced here with a rather toothless 'yay Jesus' small-r religious subtext.  Since the TRAGIC BACKSTORY involved a dead sister resulting in a LOSS OF FAITH which has driven debunker-boy away from the big JC and into the soiled arms of rationality, and which he must OVERCOME in order to RECONNECT WITH HIS FAITH, to have the spiritual strength to fling a crucifix, drive off the one demon rather boredly cavorting in the gateway, like a stripper covering someone else's Wednesday afternoon shift and seal the cheap-CG Hellgate. Clearly a victory for the angels... I guess...?  Though not for Mr Sinisterwealthyperson from the beginning, who was rather hoping they'd disprove the existence of Hell, since he's dying, and is sure to be headed there for his many sins in life; the last shot of the film is him viewing the idiots' conclusions, and weeping profusely.  Or perhaps he was PZ Myers, and he'd just finished reading the script.

The Lovefilm thumbnail and DVD cover is a filthy. filthy lie, by the way; though there is some footage shot from the cameras the idiots bring in with them, this is NOT by any definition a 'Found Footage' film. Sufferers from motion sickness can rest easy; as for the rest of us...

After all this...THIS, I decided to watch a Miramax film.  No, really! Come back later, and see.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Chokeslammed through an elevator roof in the Bioshock Hotel

15th January  See No Evil

The last two entries were products of my desire to finally get my Lovefilm 'Watchlist' below 100 entries, but this one is from my last pre-owned-DVD/Blu-Ray shopping trip.  Sadly, its shelf-stale nature means that unless I find a time portal that runs back to 2007, I've missed the closing date for the competition on the insert: win a trip to Wrestlemania and meet lead actor, pro wrestler and possible future political figure Kane (Yes, I'm a smark; what of it?). The Big Red We-Had-To-Get-Jerry Lawler-to-stop-saying-'Retard' himself plays Jacob Goodnight, and oh my goodness if only that was the silliest thing about this movie.

Oh look; here's an impractically large and architecturally confused old building (a burnt-out hotel this time) mostly created in CG! and who should be hoving into view but an ethnically and culturally diverse co-ed group of foulmouthed criminal youths trying to knock some time off their various sentences by 'volunteering' for some cleanup work.  But oh noes! the Bioshock-2-looking halls are prowled by a physically imposing filthy man bearing the emotional scars of a religious fanatic mother, and wielding some would-be iconic and hideously impractical weapon (big old hook on about ten feet of chain, since you don't ask; at least it's not ANOTHER power tool, and the big chap trades it in for a more sensible axe partway through.  Post Jack Torrance, I believe it's now compulsory for anyone using an empty/abandoned hotel as a killing ground to do so with a REALLY BIG AXE).

So what's a giant bald virtual-mute with a head full of maggots [yes, really] to do, when all he wants to do is lay tripwires and work on his collection of jars of homeless people eyeballs, but can't move for these young people with their tattoos and their baggies of dope, and their making out and their hula hoops and their rumble seats?  Making things worse, the McManus nominally in charge of the male miscreants is the cop who invaded Big Hooky's previous crucifix-slathered lair in the pre-credits scene and tried to fix his clock with a bullet in the big old dome; didn't work, obviously (though bullet wound = skullhole full of maggots because gross visuals always beats logic, as 63% of all horror films made since 2000 have established), and was-a-cop loses a partner and a forearm to a free-swinging axe.

Then there is doping, and swearing, and foreshadowing and some sorts of attempts at character;  then they split up and go to bed, nerdy computer criminal fellow and Black Man Called Tyson [wince] go looking for a supposed safe full of cash, and the film settles in to a comfy rhythm of killscreamrunstalkscreamkillrepeat, until only arseholes remain - (which isn't a spoiler, since there were really only arseholes there from the start).  For the killspotters, (and you all know who you are) who really only watch slasher movies for the creative kills, we have some hookings, some eyeball-pluckings, some spikings, a chokeslamming into the roof of a lift (as advertised), and the standout; someone being killed by having their mobile phone shoved down their windpipe. Mostly practical effects, too, until the end, which gives real effects the big finger in favour of an entirely CG Kane.  Much to the detriment of the film, since it's not only a harsh shift in visual tone, but it's the quality of CG that wouldn't pass in a PC game cutscene from 2006 (except possibly in an EA game, since they appear to have lately replaced their QA department with a dusty room full of old chairs, an overhead printer and an elderly hedgehog called Colin).  Too bad.  Might be acceptable if you have low standards, or poor eyesight, or you crank your contrast right down; only you can decide if you can get past it.

But, is it scary? it trying to be?  It's more gross than anything else.  Though I have to say I've never found Kane frightening at all.  I mean, obviously he is BIG (I imagine if he was stood on your foot, you'd know all about it), and he does have an...interesting face, with possibly more planes and angles [not this one] than any three regular-person faces, but he's never struck me as anything but a large, sweet chap making a scowly 'grr' face, possibly for the amusement of their child. That's just me, though, I know.

So tomorrow; I don't know yet; since it's Date Night, I'm allowing my dear spouse and helpmeet to pick the movie.  Odds that it will be Lawrence of Arabia? 3/2 and dropping.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

All fur coats and nylon knickers

14 January 2014 (Later that day) Strip Nude for Your Killer.

After that title, do I actually need to say anything else? Apart from, it's Blood and Black Lace if everyone in it, male and female, was a...well, let the Ayatollah of RocknRolla say it for me...

Following a model's death during a botched abortion, who is the motorcycle-helmet-and-black-leathers slasher (looking like if Dario Argento sponsored a MotoGP team) switchblade-ing up vapid trollops and sleazy sexual predators alike in and around the Albatross [no, really] photo modelling agency in never-clearly-specified-but-probably-Milan?  

Can it be the predatory-lesbian agency owner? 

Or her Paul Bearer-looking lech of a husband-in-name-only? 

Or Edwige Fenech and her amazing cropped hairdo and nylon undies combo, as a photographer who secretly just wants to be a model? 

Or her sort-of boyfriend, a photographer introduced picking up a wannabe model at a swimming pool and getting her out of her bikini and into a public sauna room sex scene with an alacrity that would make an 80s New York bathhouse habitue dizzy [my legal team advises me to assure you that this is definitely NOT the Terry Richardson story]? 

Or the other photographer, who 'doesn't have much to do with women'?

Not telling!  Half the fun of these not-Bava films is being absolutely positive the culprit is him (or her, or they), only to have that be the very next victim.  The OTHER half, of course, is swooning over the groovy pads, counting the number of prominently-displayed J and B bottles (four), and grooving on the amazing theme music, which here is never more than 5 seconds away from breaking down and giving in to its urge to become 'Papa Was a Rolling Stone'

Film sets out from the first scene to be as 70s Eurosleaze as possible, with the first shot, and the about-to-be-botched abortion, from between the hapless girl's legs, looking up, with only the careful positioning of the OBGyn's head preventing it from becoming a Jess Franco film ("Why the doctor have an afro? Oh...that's not *his* hair...").  Then we're off through a whirl of switchblade stabbings, attempted rape, domestic abuse, blackmail, voyeurism, aforementioned predatory lesbianism, reckless driving, petty larceny, implied incest, and many 70s-style real breasts and abundant pubic regions, while police bumble along in the background and the actual detecting business is picked up by civilians for no particular reason, and the culprit is identified mainly by being one of the four-or-five speaking roles left alive by the end.  The few survivors seem remarkably untroubled by the grisly murders of almost everyone they know, and the film ends with an unsubtle joke reference to anal sex. Classy!

You'll like this if: You're old enough to remember the 70s, or you wish you were (but not in a tiresome Austin Powers-hangover way; if you're that person, you're an arse, and you're not allowed to watch this film.  Go on, piss off. No-one likes you anyway).

You'll hate this if: you're the chap who complains when the killer shown throughout the film in tight-fitting leather is obviously not remotely the actual culprit unmasked at the end; or you're Andrea Dworkin

This film is as old as your writer, and even more unfashionable and dubious.  Worth another watch? Worth MANY; if you need a reason to rewatch after tracking the plot holes and/or ogling the many implant-free 70s breasts have palled, and the mid-70s Italian interior design and fashions can't persuade you, then I don't know who you are, and we have no way to communicate.

Tomorrow's film has important advice: don't raise your child in an incredibly perverse and repressively religious environment; they'll grow up to have poor hygiene and develop a fungal nail infection.  Also, they'll probably kill people and collect their eyeballs.  Mainly the nail thing, though, because that is just icky.

Started badly, then...

14 January 2014: Sensored [Yes, Blogger autocorrect, do you think I don't KNOW? Go away now, wiggly red line]

First 'official' of the 500, and it's meh.

Robert Picardo is a suburban solid citizen, or maybe he's a torture-killer, or maybe just a torturer, or maybe an undercover CIA operative, or maybe a children's book author, or maybe a schizophrenic who made it all up, or maybe all of them because why the heck not?

Yes; one of THOSE films: "main character is crazy, so go to hell narrative continuity or resolution!" and consequently an unsatisfying experience.  

I like me some Robert Picardo, lord knows; not quite enough to suffer Voyager on an even semi-regular basis, except for the Brad Dourif episodes, and Threshold (the 'Paris goes faster than light, devolves into a reptile, kidnaps Janeway, reptiles her and they have freaky newt babies' one, which is so terrible that it goes through terrible, passes awful, pauses briefly in hilariously bad, then slingshots right back to terrible again; I refer interested parties to the SF Debris review, and ), but I do like him, and he continues the tradition of being the best thing in mediocre material.  Here he gets to be cold, brutal, savage, tentative in his approaches to the socially over-enthusiastic redhead over the street, dry, emotional. Everything but a song-and-dance routine.  

I can't criticise any of the performances, in fact; Picardo,or asthmatic CIA bloke, or overly-forward neighbour woman; even generic main torturee is less unbearable than is usual (good grief, I'd have him as best man at my wedding compared to the please-die-soon charisma-vacuums cluttering up the Hostel films)...I just wish I cared, and that the writer or director did, at least enough not to undermine them for the sake of one more bloody Russo swerve.

Worth another watch? Unless I really missed something; no

One good thing? Picardo aside...Managing to have a not-annoying child actress

One bad thing? That underwhelming ending.  Like Beef, I know the difference between drug-real and real-real, and thanks for telling me that I've just wasted 70 minutes becoming invested in characters you can't even be bothered to resolve properly.  I'm not that guy, you know; I can stand a bit of ambiguity, and I don't need Simon Oakland to turn up and tell me that the man we've just seen try to kill someone while dressed as a woman likes to dress as a woman and kill people, but come ON.  Did you have an ending for them, and could we not have that instead?  Hmph.  

This film made me grouchy, so I had to move on to a mid-70s Italian Bava knockoff; so I could guarantee many characters would be naked at some point, most would be dead by the end, and it would AT NO POINT be a dream.


Nearly-New Year,

So: since we have a whole new year, and everything, and is the traditional time when people make resolutions they'll break before Valentine's Day, I've made one too.

It WAS going to be a film a day, but since I began two weeks late, that would be an unimpressive 350 films; pfft, we can do better than that!

500 films in 2014.  

Also, god above or below help me, 500 NEW films (since I have no self-control, and would end up watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre (of COURSE the original, silly) three times in a day.  Again.

So, a three-step process:

- Find new film

- Watch new film

- Blog new film

It's only 10 a week, two a weekday; or one a weekday, and a weekend binge. I know it can be done.  

Whether it SHOULD, is a whole other matter.