Thursday, 27 June 2013

Hollow Man

"Hollow Man" (2000, Paul Verhoeven, Columbia Pictures) is a modern day retelling of H.G. Wells' famous story, The Invisible Man (a fantastic book!).

Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) is a ego-maniacal scientist, who along with his team (including his ex-girlfriend and her new lover), is working on an injection that can render a living creature invisible.

Finding success with animals, albeit with a nasty side effect of insanity, Caine decides the next logical step is to try it out on a human. Getting the support from his team, he steps up as human guinea pig and becomes invisible.

For a while he enjoys his new found freedom, but when the attempts to bring him back to the visible realm fail, he begins to lose it and things turn nasty.

Soon, he decides he likes being invisible better anyway, as he can do whatever he wants... to whomever he wants....

The effects are still pretty top notch to this day, which is impressive for CGI-centred work. But I'm still a bigger fan of physical effects.

The acting is good, the effects are good and there's certainly a lot of blood, but on the whole it's a pretty unremarkable 2000's misadventure, and besides updating the scenery, doesn't really do anything that the original tale and subsequent films haven't done already.

[Image: Columbia Pictures]

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

American Mary

"American Mary" (2012, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, IndustryWorks Pictures, 430 Productions, American Mary Productions) is a rape revenge movie meets a surgery gore film from those talented girls, The Twisted Twins.

When Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle), a promising and feisty young surgical student, is invited by her professor to a party with all the surgical staff, she thinks she's finally made it. Alas, she gets there to find that she's surrounded by creepy men, drugs and rape...

She had become involved with a strip club and some illegal surgery while looking to make some extra cash, so after the horrific events of the party, what is she to do but to head back to the dark world of body modification and dangerous friends? Of course, she'd also need some practice with her scalpel and to build up that catalogue of hers!

A dark film which touches on the world of body modding and surgical addiction, while managing not to be unwatchable and it's even humorous at times.

It's all about torture but Mary's cool, calm exterior and sharp wit keep the film going and the audience find themselves on Mary's side.

A terrific performance from Katherine Isabelle drives the plot on and holds the film together, along with some brilliant special effects. Mary's desire for easy money and revenge becomes a blood lust as she loses herself in this deadpan tale.

Dark and squirmy, but with some interesting characters, including charmingly creepy Bettie Boop caricature, Beatress Johnsson (Tristen Risk, aka model and burlesque pin up, Little Miss Risk) and her Barbie-wannabe fashion designer chum, Ruby Realgirl (Paula Lindberg). Who, for the record, are wearing prosthetics.

Recommend for a bit of dirty, grungy, gory fun. 

Hey, and Mary has the same kind of parrot as me! Nice choice there, Mary, Senegals rock!

[Image: American Mary Productions]

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Lovely Molly

"Lovely Molly" (2011, Eduardo Sánchez, Amber Entertainment, Haxan Films) is a supernatural horror.

Molly (Gretchen Lodge) has just married her lorry-driver lover, Tim (Johnny Lewis) and moved in to her dearly departed parents' family home. Upon moving in, strange noises can be heard in the house and the alarm begins to sound when everyone is in bed.

But, as Tim heads back to work long-distance leaving Molly alone in the house, she begins to unravel. At first she is disturbed by a presence in the house but soon she feels that she is being followed wherever she goes! As she folds in upon herself, shying away from her sister Hannah (Alexandra Holden) and Tim she becomes sure that the force haunting her is her deceased father, and we begin to learn more about she and Hannah's dark childhood...

A bit of a hodge-podge of found footage and normal film, the scenes play out with quite a strange atmosphere. The colouring is also quite sombrely hued, which, added to the setting of the film, gives it more of a French or British horror feel than an American one which I quite enjoyed.

Solid performances from Lodge, Lewis and Holden add to the quiet but panicked atmosphere. The feeling of dread builds up and up until we see that Molly has really lost it.

The film manages to keep the creep factor on high, despite not actually showing very much which works really well with the setting and harks back to more classic films.

It's not a game changer, gives an air of uncertainty as to the full plot, and is a little slow burning with only a few jumps which any seasoned horror viewer should see coming, but I reckon it would be excellent to watch it alone in the dark!

[Image: Amber Entertainment]

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Lawnmower Man

"The Lawnmower Man" (1992, Brett Leonard, New Line Cinema) is not-even-loosely based on a Stephen King story. I say that as it's pretty much nothing to do with Stephen King or his story, except for perhaps the title! In fact, King had to sue them in order to remove mention of his name from the film!

Dr. Angelo (Pierce Brosnan - no idea how he ended up in this) is a genius scientist working on computer simulation technology that can increase intelligence in primates. While on forced hiatus after his test subject tried to escape and murdered a security guard, he decides to start using his technology on a human subject: Jobe (Jeff Fahey), a handyman gardener with learning difficulties.

Soon Jobe goes from a simple man to a crazed genius, but he goes too far, beginning to exact revenge on those who wronged him before. He also tries to take over the world, believing himself to be some kind of high-tech Jesus computer virus.

Dated graphics with animation sequences that could have been about a third of the length than they actually are really mar the film. I'm sure they were impressive for the day, but they are pretty painful to watch nowadays. Not to mention the fact that on the whole it's pretty boring and provides no scares at all.

Jeff Fahey gives a good performance though, I enjoyed his character's transition from simpleton to killer computer virus.

With the exception of the scene where there's a psycho-kinetically controlled lawnmower, this film is pretty dull.

[Image: New Line Cinema]


Monday, 17 June 2013

The Raid

"The Raid" aka "The Raid: Redemption" (2011, Gareth Evans, PT. Merantau Films, XYZ Films, Celluloid Nightmares, Sony Picture Classics, Stage 6 Films) is an Indonesian martial arts film that will have you squirming in your seat!

I went in thinking this film would not get a mention on this blog since it's not really horror, but I after seeing it... well...

A group of special forces cops go in to the run-down apartment block owned by a notorious crime lord to flush him out and shut down his operation. Unfortunately for them, not only is the gang aware of their presence, but every terrified tenant in the place is willing to murder a cop to get free accommodation for life.

Brutal, fast and full of action that keeps you riveted rather than becoming dull, The Raid is a roller-coaster ride of violence and expert choreography. A very impressive film that is unapologetic about its brutal fight scenes and OTT kills. Excellent fun but far from taxing on the brain in terms of plot.

[Image: Merantau Films]

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Class of 1999

"Class of 1999" (1990, Mark L. Lester, Lightning Pictures) is a low budget science fiction set in a violent, dystopian world. I've just learned that this is a sequel to another movie by Lester called "Class of 1984", so I'll have to go hunt that one down and see if it promises to be as much fun as this one was.

The world has become a chaotic and violent place with youth gang activity and drugs making whole areas no-go-zones for the police. Teens still seem to turn up to school though, although mainly only as a kind of social meeting place.

Dr. Miles Langford (Malcolm McDowell), principal of the local high school, has had enough and has brought in external help from a weird, mullet-sporting robotics specialist, Dr. Robert Forrest (Stacy Keach). Forrest has supplied the school with new android teachers who will delve out punishment to unruly students.

But when the punishments turn into death sentences followed by all out war, the students have to team together to stay alive!

A hammy effort with lots of hokey, wannabe-terminator special effects, I can't fault this flick for an excellent 'bad movie' night.

The street gangs look a lot like the New Romantics and Peter Pan's Lost Boys got into a fight and both lost. Between the terrible one liners, hilarious outfits and Pam Grier's robotic boobs, I'd say this film is going to be a new favourite for me and my friends for bad movie night! How could I not have heard of this cheesy badness before?

[Image: Lightning Pictures]

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Shining

"The Shining" (1980, Stanley Kubrick, Warner Bros., Peregrine Productions, Producers Circle) is one of my all-time favourites. I love the book, but then again, it's Stephen King, what's not to like? It's a truly creepy read, and if you haven't already, I highly recommend!

Despite not being particularly true to the novel, Kubrick's film is an outstanding piece of cinema, and really a film that everyone should see at least once.

With a disturbing score that is reminiscent of Italian horror films such as "Suspiria", where a harrowing, off-key backing track really builds tension and unease! It really sets my teeth on edge, which is just how Jack is feeling!

Struggling novelist, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) has taken a job as an off-season, live-in caretaker of the salubrious and remote mountain hotel, The Overlook Hotel. He, his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and their son Danny (Danny Lloyd) move in and settle in for a long winter.

Danny and his 'imaginary friend' Tony are not keen on the hotel, but he plays on regardless, despite being troubled by terrible visions of the hotel's bloody past.

Wendy carries on doing Jack's job while Jack, who is becoming increasingly 'grouchy' as the days tick on, sits in the large main hall and writes.

But soon Jack's grouchiness is leaning more into insanity as the bloody events of the hotel's past seem destined to repeat again and again, "forever and ever and... ever..."

A creepy film which has given me the shivers in large hotels since the tender age of six (when I first watched it), it is responsible for many an iconic scene including the creepy Grady twins and that wonderful "Here's Johnny!" moment.

Nicholson is in his element playing the creepy, ever maddening husband, while poor Shelley Duvall plays the traumatised wife and mother to a tee!

Gripping but relatively quiet, until Jack gets his axe that is, it is a film that is both extremely late 70s, early 80s in telling and in dress sense, but it still remains an effective piece that can thrill and shock viewers to this day.

[Image: Warner Bros.]

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Night of the Living Dead (2006)

"Night of the Living Dead" aka "Night of the Living Dead 3D" (2006, Lux Digital Pictures, Jeff Broadstreet) is a remake of the George A. Romero classic (I say 'a' as there is more than one). Oh, and it's '3D'... which should tell you all you need to know, really...

Pretty terrible. Except for Sid Haig giving his usual kind, calm & considerately evil psycho performance as Gerald Tovar Jr.

A little too much of the crappy, low budget, cartoon-like 3D effects spoil a perfectly generic low budget snorefest. (this is the highest praise I can bestow, I'm afraid)

They do go quite a ways to explain the events leading up to the zombie outbreak, which the original never completely endeavoured to do, and Barbara's backstory is much more filled out than the original, also.

As well as hokey effects, the film does suffer from a couple of other things, dull plot and too much inclusion of the original film throughout, which is a far superior effort. Surely if the characters had all just watched it, they'd know what was going on?

Boring dialogue and too much stilted cheesiness that just seemed like it was trying too hard, I am afraid I'm not a fan of this film.

I do have to hand it to them they went quite out of their way in setting the scene so that mobile phones and landlines weren't available to call for police assistance, though.

The only good thing about this film is Sid Haig and the legless zombie in the garden.

[Image: Lux Digital Pictures]

Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Village

"The Village" (2004, M. Night Shyamalan, Blinding Edge Pictures, Touchstone Pictures) is about the inhabitants of a small, secluded village in Pennsylvania who believe that, after many years of peace, the creatures in the surrounding forest are beginning to venture into their homes to feed...

I'll admit my main interests in this movie are the awesome Sigourney Weaver (who I have much respect for as an actress) and also Fran Kranz (who I have a crush on!).

A quiet film with a lot of ye olde conversation and I'll admit to becoming a little bored at points. The so-called scary scenes are not much in comparison to some of my old favourites and it's hardly a gore fest.

But I liked it for the intrigue and if you can let yourself fall into the shoes of our blind protagonist, Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard), some of scenes really have an excellent creep factor to them!

There's also some nice, down-to-earth family and friends moments that manage not to be too soppy.

In true M. Night Shyamalan fashion there are of course twists and turns in the plot. Nothing quite as shocking as "The Sixth Sense", but really good fun nonetheless.

My main issue with the film is that it's just not scary and they show way too much for the suspense to be properly built. But I'd watch it again, so that's something!

[Image: Blinding Edge Pictures]