Saturday, 28 January 2017

Bone Tomahawk

"Bone Tomahawk" (2015, S. Craig Zahler, Caliber Media Company, RLJ Entertainment) is an American horror Western movie featuring two actors I admire greatly; Kurt Russell and Sid Haig.

Set in the 1890s, we follow a group of men, lead by Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell), as they attempt to save two of their townsfolk who have been kidnapped by a brutal, cannibal troglodyte clan.

A gritty hybrid horror which begins as a pretty traditional seeming Western film but eventually delves into some truly disturbing and creative horror gruesomeness. The cast give a stellar performance making each character rounded. The dialogue is good and the film keeps an excellent pace.

Despite the outlandishness of the story and its almost supernatural villains, the film plays out so confidently that it all seems perfectly reasonable and realistic at the time. Kurt Russell cuts a fine image as a strong sheriff with some great facial hair, In fact the whole cast is perfectly suited to their roles.

A genre blending piece which is both entertaining and shocking, "Bone Tomahawk" is a really excellent piece of cinema.

[Image: RLJ Entertainment, et al]


Friday, 27 January 2017

Most Likely To Die

"Most Likely To Die" (2015, Anthony DiBlasi, Snowfall Films, Marvista Entertainment) is a slasher movie about a high school reunion gone wrong.

A group of friends arrange a party the night before their 10-year high school reunion. They soon realise that they're being picked off one by one by a slasher-killer wearing a graduation outfit. Each of them meets their fate in a way related to what they were voted "most likely to..." in their high school year book. The friends begin to suspect that the killer may be a guy who they played a terrible prank on in senior year, resulting in ruining his life... But, how could it be, when they were sure he was dead?

The film has a very 90s feel to it, despite being made in 2015. However, its predictable nature and style wears a bit thin after a while and it become less charming and more formulaic. The characters are very disposable and 2-dimensional, so there's very little emotion invested in their untimely deaths.

All in all, it has a made-for-tv quality that puts it firmly into the teenage-sleepover-party movie box.

[Image: Snowfall Films, Marvista Entertainment]

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Sadako vs Kayako

"Sadako vs Kayako" (2016, Kōji Shiraishi, Kadokawa Daiei, NBC Universal Entertainment Japan) is a crossover of the Ring and Ju-On series. The film actually began life as an April Fools' Joke, but was actually turned into a real feature length film after having a good reception.

When college students, Yuri (Mizuki Yamamoto) and Natsumi (Aimi Satsukawa), come across the cursed video tape they had learned about in class they unwittingly watch it, releasing the curse of the forever creepy and forever vengeful Sadako (Elly Nanami).

In another part of town high school student, Suzuka (Tina Tamashiro), moves in next door to the infamous Saeki house and begins to notice creepy things. After unwittingly following some young trespassers into the house she becomes 'grudged' by the ghosts of Kayako (Runa Endo) and Toshio (Rintaro Shibamoto).

The girls' seek to rid themselves of their respective curses, with the help of psychic, Keizō (Masanobu Ando) and his associate; brutally honest, blind, psychic girl, Tamao (Mai Kikuchi). The psychic team decide to try to pit the ghouls against one another in a bid to end both curses forever!

While the film is a little cheesy, busy and definitely favours Sadako's screentime over her rival, Kayako, it works well as a crossover due to its fun characters and humorous fight scenes. There are still some eerie scenes reminiscent of both franchises' roots, but also some comedy in there that oddly works with the offbeat, and somewhat ridiculous plot. I also enjoyed Keizō and Tamao's extremely random repartee.

The film is oddly charming and, like all crossovers, has a strange fanfiction-like atmosphere.

[Image: Kadokawa Daiei)

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Train to Busan

"Train to Busan" (2016, Yeon Sang-ho, Next Entertainment World, RedPeter Film) is a South Korean zombie apocalypse film set on a busy train from Seoul bound for Busan.

Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo) is a divorced business man who lives in Seoul with his lonely daughter, Su-an (Kim Su-an) and his mother. For Su-an's birthday all she wants is to visit her mother in Busan. A wish that workaholic Seok-Woo decides to grant. He boards a train with his daughter bound for Busan, planning to drop her off and return to work as soon as possible. However, when an infected woman also boards the busy train and becomes a zombie, quickly infecting most of the passengers, the journey becomes a desperate trial to survive and reach Busan in one piece.

Together with fellow passengers; Sang-hwa (Ma Dong-seok) and his pregnant wife, Seong-kyeong (Jung Yu-mi), a high school baseball team, two elderly sisters, an arrogant rich man called Yon-suk (Kim Eui-sung), an elderly homeless man (Choi Gwi-hwa) and the train driver, they attempt to reach safety whilst battling with a fast moving army of seemingly impenetrable zombies.

A fast paced, action packed horror with very little over-the-top gore (for a zombie film), but lots of fun stunts and zombie battles to keep you occupied. The story isn't clever, nor is it trying to be. It's a simple, zombie adventure and a lesson in not being a selfish asshat. The plot delivers some tender moments followed by thrilling zombie chase scenes and exciting action. A truly good movie for the genre and something that a lot of modern Western zombie movies are failing to deliver: scary zombies.

[Image: Next Entertainment World]


Tuesday, 10 January 2017


"Flatliners" (1990, Joel Schumacher, Columbia Pictures, Stonebridge Entertainment) is a sci-fi horror about the dangers of fooling around with the afterlife.

Medical student, Nelson (Kiefer Sutherland), has a theory he wants to prove: he wants to die and then brought back under controlled conditions to prove that there is something beyond death. He convinces fellow students; Rachel (Julia Roberts), Dave (Kevin Bacon), Joe (William Baldwin) and Randy (Oliver Platt) to help him achieve this experiment. When the experiment turns out to be successful, each of Nelson's associates are keen to have their own turn to see beyond the veil. However, Nelson has withheld some disturbing information about the aftereffects of his discovery: he did not come back from the netherworld alone...

A really excellent film that enjoys an amazing cast and a really striking style which has been mimicked by many films since. Abstract, inventive and entertaining this film enjoys a deserved cult status and it's cast went on to achieve great things in their own right. The only negative plot point would be the repetitiveness of the story. We do eventually go through the motions after the first couple of characters flatline.

A fun bit of sci-fi that has aged well.

[Image: Stonebridge Entertainment]


Sunday, 8 January 2017

Shock 'em Dead

"Shock 'em Dead" aka "Rock 'em Dead" (1991, Mark Freed, Noma, Academy Entertainment) is a direct-to-VHS horror film about rock 'n' roll and voodoo.

Martin (Stephen Quadros) is a loser who can't play guitar no matter how hard he practices. He's working in a pizza shop, but aspires to join a local up-and-coming rock band. After quitting his job and having a disastrously bad audition, Martin sells his soul to the local voodoo lady in order to become a successful rock legend.

Martin transforms into Angel; a guitar god with a mansion, hot tub and sexy groupies. Unfortunately, however, losing his soul comes with a new hunger that needs to be satisfied and he needs to feed....

Can he make it in the world of rock? Can he win the heart of Lindsay (Traci Lords), the band's sexy manager? Can he get rid of that terrible lead singer? It's so exciting...

I put this film in the so-bad-it's-good category: it's hammy as hell, there's a lot of gratuitous boob flashing and the 'music' is terrible. Angel appears to develop unworldly guitar skills that just add to the ridiculous appeal of this daft bit of B-movie cinema.

So, the main lesson to be learned from this film is that soulless Martin is just as big an idiot as nerdy Martin. If you're given godly guitar powers and an almighty makeover, and essentially the world of awesome at your fingertips.... don't waste it by setting your sights so low. Numpty.

[Image: Noma, et al]


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Manhattan Baby

"Manhattan Baby" aka "L'Occhio del male" (1982, Lucio Fulci, Fulvia Film) is an Italian giallo horror film from 'godfather of gore', Lucio Fulci. That makes it sound good. Don't get your hopes up too much...

The film serves as one of Fulci's weakest in my book, and certainly a far cry from his masterpiece, and a personal favourite of mine; "The House by the Cemetery".

We follow young Susie (Brigitta Boccoli) who, whilst in Egypt with her parents, Professor George Hacker (Christopher Connelly) and Emily Hacker (Laura Lenzi), is given a mysterious amulet by a strange, blind woman. Upon Susie receiving this unusual treasure, her father is struck blind whilst in an unexplored tomb and the family have to return immediately home to New York city.

While her parents fret over George's temporary blindness, Susie shows her new shiny thing to her younger brother, Tommy (Giovanni Frezza), and both siblings begin to fall under the amulet's power. This includes the ability to pop off on adventures to Egypt whenever they like, bring back poisonous creatures, ship off people who annoy them to the desert and summon the shambling undead.... Kids stuff, really.

As well as suffering from being very slow and somewhat dull, the plot jumps randomly from scene to scene making everything hard to follow and becoming a chore to watch. The characters also don't behave quite human enough: no one seems to notice all the missing people for starters!

One thing I did enjoy was watching George walk around with his glasses on over his massive eye bandages. Truly weird.

The film just lacks atmosphere and coherence and not even a zombie bird attack scene can save it from that!

I do love the DVD cover art, though
[Image: Fulvia Film]

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Julia's Eyes

"Julia's Eyes" aka "Los ojos de Julia" (2010, Guillem Morales, Rodar y Rodar Cine y Televisión, Double Dare You, Universal Pictures) is a Spanish thriller about blindness. 

Julia (Belén Rueda) is a twin, whose sister, Sara, has committed suicide shortly after becoming blind. Sara's blindness was caused by a hereditary condition from which Julia is also suffering, and she and her husband, Isaac (Lluís Homar), are already preparing for her own inevitable fate. 

Julia becomes convinced that Sara's death was not a straightforward suicide, and she begins to investigate herself, as her own sight begins to slowly diminish. Alas, time is running out and she is assigned a care worker, Iván (Pablo Delqui). Can she avoid the fate of her sister?

A fun thriller with some good effects and some chilling scenes dotted throughout what is otherwise a slow-burning mystery, more than a horror. Julia’s slow, but steady march towards blindness is effectively portrayed through lighting and skilfully keeping other characters just out of sight.

An effective thriller that packs possibly too many twists, but delivers with a fun, but straight-faced style that makes our heroine’s sense of loss and hopelessness palpable.