Monday, 30 April 2012

My Name is Bruce

"My Name is Bruce" (2007, Bruce Campbell, Dark Horse Entertainment)

Well I think I saved the best for last in the Boxset! I laughed my way through this film. I even had to shut the blinds as I live on the ground floor and I seemed to be attracting a bit of an audience!

The plot centres around Bruce Campbell the B-movie actor with a definite cult status, who is kidnapped by a small town called Gold Lick when some teenage metallers accidentally unleash the Chinese demon Guan-di (who is protecting a collapsed mine shaft where many Chinese settlers had died, and who is also the 'patron saint' of bean curd...) while trying to score with some teenage goth chicks.

Only one of said teenagers survives, Jeff (Taylor Sharpe), who is a huge Bruce Campbell fan. It is he who recommends Bruce as the town's saviour (because obviously, after battling all those Deadites and space termites, he's clearly just the guy for the job!).

Bruce's 'Bruce' character is currently depressed and is mainly drunk. I'm not even going to pretend to know much about Mr. Campbell's off-screen-life, so I'm going to presume this was character development with some exaggerated themes.

He plays along with the 'act' of fighting Guan-di because he believes it is a joke, and also because he fancies Jeff's mum, Kelly (Grace Thorsen).

Guan-di was made purposely fakey, but it's done in a nod-nod-wink-wink kind of way. All in all, this is a comedy and is a nice nod to the fans.

Good times.

 (Picture: Dark Horse Entertainment)

Hani




Sunday, 29 April 2012

Alien Apocalypse

"Alien Apocalypse" (Sci-Fi Pictures, 2005, Josh Becker) is another gem from my Bruce Campbell collection.
 
A story about some astonauts who return from a 40-year mission (mainly spent in cryogenic stasis to avoid aging) to Earth to find that the world has been overrun by large bug-like "Termite" aliens and that all humans have become their slaves in Timber mills.
 
Bruce Campbell stars as Dr. Ivan Hood, a Oesteopathic doctor who hopes to return to Earth to become a 'Great Healer'. Hood's a big-headed jerk, so naturally I think he's awesome!
 
The other astronauts Kelly (Renée O'Connor) who is a favourite of Sam Raimi and has appeared in Darkman 2, Alex (Remington Franklin) and Chuck (Michael Cory Davis) join Hood in his return.
 
Soon the 4 are whittled down to 2 and we are left with our heroic couple Hood and Kelly, who attempt to escape capture and rid the world of the alien scourge!
 
I was impressed with the level of special effects in this movie. Bear in mind it's a made-for-TV film, so don't go expecting anything too sofisticated. I had a gander at the making-of bonus bits and was pleased to see physical props of the aliens and also some good beheading action!
 
The 'mites' have a penchant for eating human's heads whole, with some good bloody-spurting effects!
 
I didn't understand the 'muzzling' thing... it didn't seem to be very effective and just looked daft.
 
All in all a nice typical sci-fi channel movie with some handsomely tongue-cheek-quotes:
 
"Human traitor (or Bounty Hunter): Ungh... you said you're a doctor. You're supposed to heal people.
Dr. Ivan Hood: [After shooting the guy with a crossbow] I am. Your stupidity is terminal. And now you're cured" [Hunter dies]
 
And remember, another comedy, don't go in looking for scares...there are none!
 
 (Picture: Sci Fi Pictures)


Hani
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Pandorum

"Pandorum" (2009, C. Alvart, Constantin Films) is a sci-fi horror.
 
Corporal Bower (Ben Foster) awakes from hypersleep aboard the 'Elysium' space-people-carrier to find that he has no idea what's going on. The ship is carrying thousands of humans from disaster-stricken Earth to a new inhabitable planet. 
 
This scene is very well captured: his skin is disgusting! Not green or sores or anything, just loose and peeling and yuck! It really puts you off hypersleep. Also, this hypersleep isn't the simple man-walks-into-pod-and-falls-asleep business, no, it's a lot more medical than that! His body is riddled with wires and tubes and other general paraphernalia. You really feel for him having to remove it all and wake up. He discovers that he is not the only person awake, Lieutenant Payton (Dennis Quaid) has also awoken and he too is suffering some amnesia.
 
The control room for the ship is blocked off and the power is surging on and off. This is clearly what has caused the two men to awake. Bower heads off to find a way out, and Payton (on radio to Bower) describes a mental condition known as 'Pandorum' which is like space-cabin-fever.
 
Bower comes across some corpses, some humanoid monsters which attack him and also a few other humans who also attack him. Finally he bands together a small group of humans and they attempt to head for the reactor of the ship to stabilise the power, and also slowly unravel the chilling events that have lead to their current predicament.
 
Throughout the film we noted that it appears that whenever the 'hunters' or monsters are around, the power comes to life. It seems as if the monsters have become a part of the ship as well as having adapted to it.
 
There are some good tense scenes and the film keeps the viewer in suspense, giving very little plot away. I enjoy this type of storytelling, as it feels like I am discovering the facts for myself, rather than being told them by a narrator or character monologue.
 
Quite a few twists take place at the end of the film. One twist I felt was very obvious, as I saw it coming from quite early on, but this does not ruin the story.
 
"Pandorum" is a good space-thrill ride with some creatively gorey scenes and a good base plot. The monsters are reminiscent of those seen in 2005's "The Descent", and the end, although open-ended for sequels, gives a nice rounded feeling of completeness. It is very dark though, meaning that any ambient light in the room will ruin the view. So don't watch alone if you're scared of horror in the dark!
 
 (Picture: Constantin Films)
 

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Switchblade Romance

"Switchblade Romance" aka "Haute Tension" in French or "High Tension" in the U.S. (2003, Alexandre Aja, Alexandre Films & EuropaCorp) is a French psychological/slasher movie.

I first came to know this movie through an ex-boyfriend and now friend. I have to credit this guy with introducing me to a lot of damn good movies. My current boyfriend also has him to blame for me torturing him with horror movies most weeks!

"Switchblade Romance" is one of those mind-boggling movies. You won't realise how little you understood the plot until the end. It's a good twist, even if it is pretty unbelievable.

The movie begins with two young women, Alex (Maïwenn) and Marie (Cécile De France), driving in the French countryside on the way to visit Alex's parents. It is apparent from the onset that Marie is a lesbian, clearly interested in Alex. You realise quickly that Alex enjoys the attention and is happy to lead the girl on, but really isn't too into dating girls.

I first thought this movie was going to be a "Friday the 13th" in a French "Children of the Corn" setting. I was wrong, although that does sound like a good premise for a movie!

The girls are welcomed into the house and the family settle for the night. Then the big, disgusting, creepy murderer arrives and all hell breaks loose.

There's some unrealistic beheading (unless bookcases are made of wood-style metal and necks are made of butter...) but on the whole this movie's pretty brutal and bloody. The whole overhanging feeling that rape is inevitable really keeps the tension up, too (see what I did there?).

The twist, as I mentioned, is good. But it can't really work, unless we're not experiencing events chronologically and there are a few imagined vehicles. The murderer has a nice Michael-Myers-esque ability to never truly die though.

The end is nicely creepy, too, and links us back to the very beginning.

I always feel that the sound on this film is odd. I can't put my finger on it, but something's definitely going on. If it's intentional I like it. It makes everything seem a bit unreal.

All in all, this is a 'lovely' gore-soaked ride. If you can bear the subtitles, I recommend giving a watch.

 (Picture: Alexandre Films)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Bubba Ho-Tep

"Bubba Ho-Tep" (2002, Don Cascarelli, Vitagraph Films, Silver Sphere Corp.)

What can I say? It's Bruce Campbell playing an old and embittered Elvis who's living in a nursing home, living out his days as a retired 'Elvis impersonator' (with whom he'd traded places with in his prime).

There's giant scarrab beatles, crazy electric wheelchair chases and, of course, the mummy (Bob Ivy), wearing cowboy boots, who is sucking the souls of the elderly through some imaginative orifices! And I can't forget John F. Kennedy! Or rather an old coloured gentleman who believes that he is John F. Kennedy (played brilliantly by Ossie Davis).

Pretty much this is just my kind of movie: completely crazy! It's not really meant to be scary, it's just a comedy with an unusual plot and a few bits of horror stuck in there!

It's a good bit of fun, and has a deeper side to it too; the ravages and unfairness of old age.

As always Mr. Campbell delivers with a sincerity that keeps you laughing throughout! And the slow creaky fight scenes between the undead and the almost there are cleverly captured!

 (Picture: Vitagraph Films)

The Exorcist

"The Exorcist" (1973, W. Friedkin, Warner Bros) is the very famous movie written for screen by the original author of the book, William Peter Blatty.

Again, the book is good. Check it out if you haven't before!

The movie is still disgusting to this day. I wouldn't say it is scary though by today's standards, unless you are religious.

As a props and prosthetics enthusiast, I have to add how good the make up and special effects are in this film! Definitely top notch, and still good to this day. Although, after seeing this movie, you will never eat pea soup ever again.

The story centres around a young girl, Regan (Linda Blair), the daughter of actress, Chris Macneil (Ellen Burstyn). Regan is possessed by a demon (the demon claims to be the Devil, it becomes evident to the priests that it is not). After going through the psychiatric channels, her mother eventually seeks the help of a young priest, Karras (Jason Miller) and an elder priest, Merrin (Max von Sydow), who has had dealings with this particular demon before.

Disgusting and loud, the demonic possession is perfectly captured. The plot sticks closely to the novel.

Ellen Burstyn gives an excellent performance as the desperate mother, fearing for her child. And Linda Blair is scarily good as Regan. I hear she received death threats for this movie...

I'm not a huge fan. I've got nothing against gore and brutal weirdness; I like "House of 1000 Corpses"! But I just can't get into this movie. It may be because I'm not religious, so I have no reason to connect to the fear in this film. Either way, it's a classic, so everyone should at least see it once.
 (Picture: Warner Bros)


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Man with the Screaming Brain

"Man with the Screaming Brain" (2005, Bruce Campbell, SciFi Channel).
I just opened my "The Bruce Campbell Collection" boxset, so expect some raving reviews on the works of the B-Movie king!
I'm not sure what I expected from this comedy/sci-fi/horror, but "Man with the Screaming Brain" delivers everthing it says on the tin (or rather, the box...) and accomplishes it with the cheesey, awesome style I've come to expect from such quality productions.
The Basic Plot
William Cole (Bruce Campbell) is a rich business tycoon in the pharmaceutical industry. He and his wife Jackie (Antoinette Byron) arrive 'somewhere in Bulgaria', where most people seem to be Russian, for a conference. Bruce Campbell happily hams up his 'ugly American' capitalist character into an unlikeable jackass. And his wife is an equally unlikeable rich-bitch love cheat.
The mad scientist, Dr. Ivan Ivanov (Stacy Keach) and his assistant, Pavel (Ted Raimi) are working on a scientific solution to halt body rejection of transplanted organs. Raimi gives a hilarious performance and really clearly enjoys the role. Also, I watched this with a guy working on his PhD in Theoretical Physics and we had to pause a scene while he studied their blackboard so that we could confirm that yes, indeed, it was just a bunch of equations which together have no meaning! Note to self, avoid movies with equations when watching with scientists in future!
Cole rudely dismisses an invite to see the doctor's work. Too bad for him, huh?
Cole and Jackie take a taxi and wind up in Gypsie Town where they witness a fight and also spy the mysterious Gypsie beauty, Tatoya (Tamara Gorski).
Jackie quickly gets frisky with the taxi driver, Yegor (Vladimir Kolev), a character I also really enjoyed. Cole, in the meantime, tries his luck with Tatoya, but is instead robbed and then bludgeoned when he attempts to take back his belongings. Yegor witnesses the attack on Cole and confronts Tatoya (who is his ex-fiancée) only to be killed himself!
The doctor then takes this opportunity to demonstrate his research to Mr. Cole first hand by bringing him back to life!
Cole later awakens to find that he is in the doctor's very-convincing (yes, that was sarcasm) laboratory, and has been 'patched up' using some parts of Yegor's brain where his had been damaged. I enjoyed the cranial stitching, also very convincing (yes, more sarcasm!). Cole escapes the laboratory and discovers that he can hear Yegor speaking to him inside his head!
Jackie, in a fit of rage, attacks Tatoya for killing her husband, but is then also killed by that gypsie minx. Luckily, she's brought back as a robot in a yellow catsuit.
There's some more fighting, an unconvincing car chase, a tiny explosion and of course, no Bruce Campbell movie would be complete without the textbook Bruce vs Bruce scene!
(Picture: Scifi Channel)
Verdict
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. If it were a rollercoaster, it's definitely the one where you ride on the caterpillar through the apple core; simple, pleasing and not at all scary!
Ted Raimi steals the show and I do enjoy his American-being-Bulgarian-being-Russian-being-American-rapping! Hilarious! 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Amityville Horror (2005)

"The Amityville Horror" (2005, Dimension Films, Michael Bay, Andrew Douglas) is the travesty of a remake of the classic 1979 film. Both films are based on the book, or 'true account', written in 1977 by Jay Anson (a compelling read by the way, I recommend!).

Seriously, who the hell let Michael Bay near the Amityville Horror!?

The plot centres around the Lutz family, who have recently moved in to the Amityville house, unaware of the its brutal past; the previous family, The DeFoes, were gruesomely murdered in their beds by a member of their own family. The Lutz family last a total of 28 days in the property...

The Lutzes soon notice suspicious things going on in the house; a presence in the kitchen, George Lutz (Ryan Reynolds) becoming aggravated, bad tempered and unable to keep warm despite burning hundreds of pounds' (or dollars, rather) worth of fuel. Noises, disturbances and general other ghostly goings on.

The children also become withdrawn and the youngest child, their daughter, Chelsea (although she is called Missy in the book and original film), begins to have an imaginary friend. In the original telling the friend, Jodie, is a demonic-looking pig who is spotted by other family members. In this version Jodie is the ghost of the murdered daughter of the DeFoe's. The character of Jodie is over dramatised in this version, I feel, and it becomes more of the haunting of Amityville House by Jodie (and that which is hunting her) than it is about the rapid feeling of dread and madness surrounding George, driving him to murder his family.

The only thing I felt worked about changing Jodie from a creature to the ghost of the girl is that Chelsea begins to carry a teddy bear, Jodie's bear. The bear she was buried with. Nicely haunting and a good touch to the plot.

The random death of certain characters and the over-the-top gore which had to be supernatural, as no one had been hurt, just didn't do it for me. I found this version to be a typical Michael Bay production; OTT, loud and jumping out at all the wrong points.

Ryan Reynold's performance as the step-father is faultless though. His transition from good-guy to aggressive-guy is rapid, but seemless. The children's sudden fear of him is believable.

Not a good remake is you enjoy the story or previous movies. It's a good basic modern horror movie, nothing more.

 (Picture: Dimension Films)

The Craft

"The Craft" (1996, Andrew Fleming, Columbia Pictures)

Hey, so I enjoy some teeny-bopper witch 'horror'! I'm not embarrassed about it :)

The Craft is about four teenage girls who get into Witchcraft at school, and how they become corrupted by it. I think it's probably really about drugs... But as I'm from the 'Buffy' era, I'm going to ignore that logic and stick to the magicks.

It's not really a 'horror' movie. It's more like "10 Things..." but with more witchcraft and less singing Heath Ledger. Although if you have a thing about snakes, spiders and creepy crawlies you should probably avoid this one.

You have the usual 'Troubled-Teen-from-broken-home-new-girl-on-the-block' story.
You have your typical American High School stereotypes.
You have your 4 teen witches.

They're outcasts and they're hormonal. It's pretty obvious that they're going to use their magickal powers for their own gain. If you know anything of the Laws of Magick, it's that everything is supposed to come back to the caster three-fold; it's all about consequences. This movie is about getting what you want and then living with the consequences.

The Craft is a bit of a guilty pleasure, like 'The Sugababes' album that I keep hidden away from the rest of my CD collection and my copy of 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'. It's a turn-your-brain-off kind of movie.

The girls start off with small-ish spells, but eventually Nancy, the one who's most into the Craft, convinces them to help perform a much more advanced spell, and soon afterwards she becomes a much more twisted character.

The girls eventually turn on the 'new girl', Sarah, who begins to have seconds thoughts and tries to bind the other witches from their talents. The climatic scene with all the creepies I mentioned earlier, is entertaining, but a lot of the magickal talents the girls strive for are less Evil-Willow and more Sabrina...

I reiterate; a turn-your-brain-off-movie, but hey it's one of the most successful teeny-bopper 'horrors' about witches out there, so that has to mean something, right?

 (Picture: Columbia Pictures)

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Critters

"Critters" (1986, New Line Cinema, Stephen Herek)

Some accuse it of being bargain-bin Gremlins. I say it's comedy gold! Sure it's about a bunch of alien mini-monsters with big gnashers trying to eat... well, anything, but there's no mention of getting them wet! Also - bounty hunters from space! Win!

Some of the acting in this movie (and indeed, the full series of movies) is entertainingly bad.

"This....phone....is.............................................dead!" Dun-dun-dun!!!!

But it doesn't take away from the terror. The terror of slimey green, hairy, carnivorous, non-spiney hedgehogs from space!!!! Heck no, this movie's not scary. In fact stick it in a marathon with 'Leprechaun' and 'Trolls' and you have a winning bad-movie night.

But it's fun. The plot is pretty rough and unfinished and the acting is more wooden than my desk, but this is a movie worth having in your collection for when you've had a few too many bourbons and you're not sure which way is up anymore.

(Picture: New Line Cinema)

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Let The Right One In

"Let the Right One In" (Tomas Alfredson, Bavaria Film International, ETFI, 2008) is the original Swedish adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel of the same title.

A very quiet and atmospheric movie with odd colouring. This film is a work of art. We follow the story of young bullied Oskar, a twelve year old boy who just can't fit in. He finds he has a new neighbour, 'twelve year old' Eli and begins making friends with her. Eli needs a friend too, because she is in fact not a twelve year old girl but a vampire of unknown age.

The themes of bullying and friendship are very strong in this flick, and the plot holds relatively truly to the book. Even where the movie veers out of book-plot, it is done well and without spoiling the story.

There are also some good gorey scenes (face-meltingly good, you might say!), some creepy cat scenes and some jumpy bits which allow this movie to remain on my 'horror' shelf. I found the book to be a real page-turner, and I was pleased to find that this movie kept me enthralled for the full 110 minute run time.

Aside from some creepy acting from the young stars, we also enjoy a cast of other interesting locals who's involvement in the story is sometimes heartbreaking. I especially enjoy the film's climax (I won't spoil it) which had me on the edge of my seat!

This is not your average vampire movie, but a story of young romance, childhood struggles and the need to survive. Even if you haven't read the book, rest assured the plot is not difficult to grasp and I'm sure if you're into slow-burning horror, you will enjoy "Let the Right One In".

I'll admit I have not seen the 2010 American remake, "Let Me In".... I saw the advert, you see... looked rather baws... even if it was a Hammer Horror! So I can't comment on a comparison between the movies, but I recommend giving this version a try!

 (Picture: EFTI)

Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Cabin in the Woods

"The Cabin in the Woods" (Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard, 2012, Mutant Enemy)

A real treat for me as I am a huge Whedon fan (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog, Serenity... you name it, I like it!).

'The Cabin in the Woods', as I'm sure you're aware, is not your average 'Five-friends-go-to-a-cabin-in-the-woods-and-are-killed-off-one-by-one-by-a-dark-force-after-reading-some-creepy-latin-from-an-old book' story. Well, yes it is. Five friends (the bimbo, the jock, the smart guy, the sensible but nerdy girl and the stoner - played by Fran Kranz. Have I mentioned my huge crush on Fran Kranz?) all go to a cabin in the woods to stay for a party weekend. They go down the cellar and discover a creepy book (amongst other creepy-ass items) and proceed to read its contents aloud, causing some evil to arise. Mayhem, mayhem, mayhem....

Whedon's well-known talent to create characters who appear to fit a generic profile, but are really lovable and much deeper than that, shines through in this flick. All the characters are not really how they appear, and even the characters in the 'evil' lab are enjoyably rounded.

You'd think Amy Acker would be getting a bit bored of being hot-lab-coat-lady by now, but she pulls it off with her usual flair.
Also, I have to enjoy any movie with a hot female red-head in lead role! Hats off to you, Kirsten Connolly!

The gore and action is exciting and well paced. The story is consistently topsy-turvy in true Whedon form. And we are left at the end to think "who's the true evil here? Is it we, the horror viewer? Are we the reason behind all this???"

A few well placed homages to the horror greats, excellent acting and the kind of witty banter one has come to expect from Mr. Whedon makes this movie a new favourite! Can't wait for the DVD Joss!

 
(Picture: Mutant Enemy "Grr Arg!")

The Lost Boys

Can't beat a little vampire comedy!

"The Lost Boys" (1987, R. Donner, Warner Bros) is by far one of my most favourite horror comedies (with the obvious exception of the Evil Dead trilogy... not sure how I'm going to feel about the reboot so we'll forget it exists until further notice).

The basic story is about two painfully 80's brothers (Michael and Sam) and their mum (or 'Mom' rather, as it's set in California) move to stay with their Grandfather in Santa Carla. The eldest brother falls in love with mysterious gypsy-chick, Star, and gets himself into the gang she's hanging about with. Only it's not a normal gang... it's a vampire gang! Michael soon finds himself changing into one of them, and the only way to reverse it is to find the head vampire and kill him!

Gang leader, David (Kiefer Sutherland) is the epitome of 80s 'badboy' with his bleached hair, leather jacket, earrings and motorbike. The rest of his gang are entertaining to say the least.

As a typical 'Two Corey's' movie we of course have both Corey Haim as our young hero, Sam, intent on saving his brother from Vampire-dom, and Corey Feldman (a personal favourite of mine) as Edgar Frog, who along with his brother, Alan (Jamison Newlander), fights evil in his spare time when he's not manning their family's comic book store.

A brilliantly bloody movie with a soundtrack to rock to. The vampire lore is not your average kind. This movie doesn't take itself seriously, and you shouldn't either. If you haven't seen this movie, where have you been!? Get it sorted!

This movie sprouted some sequels... Although "The Thirst" is enjoyable just to watch Corey Feldman running around armed for bear.

And remember, if a vampire offers you maggots, it's really just rice.

(Picture: WB)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Poltergeist

"Poltergeist" (1982, Tobe Hooper, Steven Spielberg, Warner Brothers)

An 80's Spielberg classic. I love this movie! Watching it now with some left over Easter egg and a big mug of tea.

A story set in middle class, suburban California. A family move into a newly built home only to be at first toyed with and then tormented (and some abducted) by the Poltergeists of the dead who's burial grounds the houses are built over. There's also some talk of 'The Beast'...

By far the best known scene is creepily cute little Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke) turning slowly from the static-snow TV screen to announce that 'They're he-ere!'.

The ghosts are malevolent and frightening. The ghost hunter, Tangina (Zelda Rubenstein) is a whole different kind of frightening.

Awesome effects for the 80's with a nice quick progression into the scary bits. A real treat despite there being no gore.

 (Picture: Warner Bros)


Hani

The Woman In Black (1989)

"The Woman in Black" (1989, Herbert Wise, Granada Television) was a made-for-TV movie based on the novel by Susan Hill (worth a read!).

I was loaned this movie by a work colleague who was disappointed with the 2012 remake. Having not read the book before watching either film, I'd walked in completely open minded.

In my presumptious way, having watched the remake first, I thought there was no way I was going to jump at an 80's horror. I'm a horror fan for Pete's sake. I was wrong.

Now bear in mind, this is the kind of movie you want to watch in the dark to help the atmosphere.

The general plot

Arthur Kidd (he's called Kipps in the book) is a young solicitor trying to get his career going. He's offered an apparently ideal opportunity when he is asked to travel to a small town, Crythin Gifford, on the East Coast of England to attend the funeral of a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow, and then to spend several days clearing the paperwork from her house, the large secluded Eel Marsh house which is located on the marshes and is only accessible when the tide is out.

Arthur sets off by train, on which he meets local landowner and businessman, Sam Toovey. Sam's character is friendly but wary. I felt the portrayal of him in this version was much more like the book. Sam is slightly concerned to hear of Arthur's reason for visiting Crythin Gifford, but he has the least questionable reaction to the news.

Arthur is staying at a local hotel, and soon finds that upon hearing of the nature of his business in the town, the locals become less friendly.
He attends Mrs. Drablow's funeral with the local solicitor and is shocked to find that they are the only attendees. Until he spots a woman, all dressed in black, standing far back at the funeral. Convinced that she must be a relative of the dead woman come to mourn her death, he tries to go to her, but is stopped by the other solicitor who refuses to acknowledge her presence.
I enjoyed the bit with the children watching over the wall, staring at the ghost. And the ghost remains in shot for quite sometime before the expected pan-away-pan-back-and-she's-gone-moment.

Arthur is next taken to Eel Marsh house via the rundown pony and trap of Mr. Keckwick; the only person who will go near the house. The house perfectly portrayed, with a good amount of creep. The woman is spotted again in the graveyard next to the house and she begins to approach Kidd who runs (this is the other way around in the book).

Kidd snoops around the house, turning on lights. The tension built with this simple activity is great. The mysterious locked door is also very well portrayed.

He reads some papers and discovers death certificates for a child and an adult from the same date. He also listens to some creepy recordings made by Mrs. Drablow. This is not in the book, but is a good way to tell the story quickly on screen.
He tires while awaiting Keckwick's return, and wanders onto the marshes into the sea mist. He becomes quickly confused and lost, and hears what sounds like a terrible accident nearby with a pony, trap and child falling into the quicksand, screaming terribly and then drowning.

Terrified and blinded by fog, he stumbles back to the house where he is greeted by Keckwick who assures him that there has been no accident. Well, he mumbles something. Keckwick doesn't talk much.

Mr. Toovey meets up with Arthur and deplores him not to return to the house, but Arthur is determined not only to return, but to stay overnight and try to finish his task. Toovey realises he cannot convince him otherwise, and instead loans him his dog, Spider.
Kidd returns to the house and sets up shop, working away. Suddenly there is the sound of a ball being bounced. The noise is coming from the locked room. He tries to open it, and eventually grabs an axe, only to find that the door is suddenly open, revealing a pristine nursery. He walks into the room and a ball rolls out. The source of the noise. All is quiet until a soft child's voice whispers 'Hello?' I tell you in the dark, alone, that is creepy. Not to mention the following childish laughter and then the toy soldier which appears in Arthur's hand.
The power goes out and Arthur bolts from the room to turn it back on again. Spider joins him and then runs off into the marshes after hearing a call. Arthur runs after her but stops dead when the noises of the horse and cart accident and the screaming begin again. Terrified again, he runs to the house, where he reads some more and records his thoughts onto Mrs. Drablow's recording device.
He discovers from the papers who the Woman In Black really is, Mrs. Drablow's sister Jennet, and that her child was taken out of her care and given to her sister. Jennet had tried to kidnap her son and had lost control of the cart and pony in the sea fog, killing herself, her child and the pony. She has since haunted the house and her sister, and until her sister's death.

Toovey comes to collect Arthur after Spider manages to run all the way home, and upon hearing Arthur's discoveries, explains that usually seeing the Woman in Black results in the death of a child. Now officially creeped, Arthur decides to leave Eel Marsh house, but first wants to show the nursery to Mr. Toovey. When they go into the room, it has been trashed and all the toys destroyed. Arthur faints.
Toovey takes him to his house to care for him, but Arthur's sleep is disturbed by nightmares, ghostly voices and finally by the terrible spectre of the Woman standing over him and screaming in his face. This scene made me jump as she just appears from nowhere.
Upon returning to London, Kidd finds that some of Mrs. Drablow's papers have been sent to his office, and fearing the worst, he sets them on fire, believing that this would stop the curse. (As if it were that easy!) All that happens is that he gets himself fired.
The final scene always reminds me of the original 'Friday the 13th'. Arthur, his wife and son are in a boat on a lake with a picnic. Just then he sees the Woman in Black standing on the water, staring at him. Arthur stares helplessly as a tree then falls onto their boat, killing them all.

A relatively faithful adaptation which has a fair amount of tension without any gore. The Woman is creepy and haunting, and the mistrusting and unhelpful villagers are reminiscent of those found in 'An American Werewolf in London'.
All in all a good film with some jumps. Not quite the almost-'Grudge'-style horror of the 2012 remake, but certainly worth a watch, if you can get your mitts on it (it's very hard to track down!)

 (Picture: Granada TV)






Mutants

'Mutants' (2009, D. Morlet,/Louis-Paul Desanges) is a French horror.

This is pretty much a zombie movie by any other name. It starts off well with a gruesome, albeit pretty unrealistic, road accident, and dives straight into setting the scene. We're in France. There's a virus which is spreading quickly through the area. The virus turns you into an angry flesh eating 'mutant'. There. Scene set.

We follow the journey of Marco (Francis Renaud) and his paramedic girlfriend, Sonia (Hélène de Fougerolles) in their dilapidated ambulance, as they flee the mutants in an attempt to find safety. Sonia also reveals that she survived a Mutant attack and appears to be immune. She hopes that someone at a military base called 'Noah' will be able to use her blood to develop a cure for the virus.

They find refuge in an abandoned building when they run out of fuel and Marco becomes ill after being bitten. His rapid and gruesome decline into zombie-dom is enjoyably reminiscent of the film 'District 9'. There's also some good tension attempted with a botched blood transfusion, although I admittedly spent more time waiting on Zombie-Marco falling on  his face with his foot in a basin of blood...

He soon becomes too dangerous to handle and Sonia tearfully locks him up. She also reveals 'typical-horror-movie-shocking-revelation' which is not so shocking. Believe me, you will see it coming.

Their refuge is suddenly taken over by another group of survivors, lead by typical zombie movie jackass, Franck (Nicolas Briancon).

Franck wants everything; the ambulance, the fuel, the radios. Sonia fights him and his gang; there's a lot of squabbling and then suddenly there's a Mutant ambush (It's not a horde.... horde's are bigger. This was definitely an ambush. I'm presuming the number of mutants was limited by budget...).

Some good gore, but I'd say not enough. I did enjoy the Franck character though, even if he was a bit 2D - what a dick! Unfortunately, his death scene is too short and neat for my liking. He deserved a more painful ending.

All in all an enjoyable watch. If you don't like subtitled movies, I'd avoid. Although, in zombie horror is the script really so important?

(Picture: IFC)



Hani

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Awakening

'The Awakening' (Stephen Volk, 2011, Studiocanal/BBC) is a movie which is close to my heart for two reasons:

1) It's British
2) I helped make some of the props for it!

Yes, I'm not even lying, you see Florence's machines? I helped make those in Edinburgh 3 summers ago!

Ok, hyper boasting session over... Almost....

'The Awakening' is a nice little jaunt into post WW1 Britain. Florence (Rebecca Hall) is an author and sceptic of the supernatural, who goes about debunking ghosts, mystics and general fraudsters. There's also a little bit of sub-plot to explain why she's so enraged by charlatans (I'll give you a hint, it's post World War One and she's suddenly very single).

She's approached by an all-boys boarding school teacher (Dominic West) to come and solve the mystery of their 'Ghost Boy' after the untimely death (by fright) of one of their pupils. After some convincing, she finally tags along and is quick to 'solve' the mystery using her wonderfully almost-Steam-Punk gadgets (yes, those things I helped make again), proving it to be nothing more than a childish prank gone wrong.

Or is it...?

Eventually she has to face up to the reality of ghosts, and come to terms with some other truths too. While also enjoying romantic ties with Mr. West.

A very well acted, slow burner. There's some enjoyable jumps which keep it entertaining and the effort to make the film feel like the correct time period is commendable. Also creepy dollshouses? Yes please!

The character of Maud (Imelda Staunton), the timid, friendly cook and nurse to the school boys is very well done, and feels like she fell straight out of some Classic literature.

The special effects are moderate but effective and hark back to the original Hammer Horror movies where suspense was built up without much bloodshed. And I do enjoy a creepy ghostly photograph anyday!

I also happen to know the props are awesome!

The main issue with this movie is the ending. It feels very rushed and there's an amazing scene with a 'maze like' feel that is ruined by lack of screentime. The unneeded 'surprise' extra twist does nothing for the story; the first revelation of who the ghost was is enough, but the extra sub-plot ruins an otherwise enjoyable traditional horror.

A good watch if you're not a gore-hound.

Hani

Let it begin

So I watch a lot of horror movies...

Some are bad, some are worse and some are so good I have to remove the mirror from my shower because it begins freaking me out. Most are just batshit crazy and that's my favourite kind of crazy.

I read a lot of horror movie reviews...

Some are bad, some are brilliant, some are completely hilarious and some are so wrong that I feel I have to write to the reviewer's website to complain. Yes, yes I do do that. Yes I am crazy, thank you for noticing.

With this in mind, I decided that it was high time I began writing some personal reviews for some of the 'Art' that I watch. I reckon some will be bad, some will be good... and so on. You get the idea, I'm sure.

I also realised that if I began writing such things on my Facebook, I'd soon lose a lot of friends (not everyone loves horror as much as I do...)

So please enjoy my ramblings and feel free to write to me to tell me I'm wrong. I deserve it after hassling so many reviewers in my time!

Hani