Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
A tribute to Meredith Kercher and the Kercher family
Is Amanda Knox Guilty?
Yes. She is.
11 Lies in Netflix Amanda Knox Documentary
Netflix Hoax: Amanda Knox's Incriminating Lies to the Police
10 facts makers of Netflix 'AMANDA KNOX' film don't want you to know
The Monster of Florence. A creepy case of occult serial murder
Damien Echols: Hex, Lies and Videotape. What Paradise Lost left out.
A Critique of Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
Rebutting a Murderer: What Making a Murderer isn't telling you
Innocence Fraud is Real
Underrated overlooked horrors you should see
Day of the Dead (1985) music vid
Demonitron: The 6th Dimension
Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape
The Big Racket (1976) tribute:
A tribute to Bruno Mattei.
ListsAn error has ocurred. Please try again
Amanda Knox (2016)
How to deify a criminal in the court of public opinion
Amanda Knox, a Netflix documentary directed and exec produced by two ardent Knox supporters, Rod Blackhurst and Stephen Robert Morse, who have been campaigning for Knox since 2011, (which included harassing journalists who actually covered the case far more thoroughly than they did), opens with lingering almost gleeful close ups of the bloody crime scene and goes downhill from there. The documentary begins by trying to shape a false narrative of handy villains who all seemingly came together like the stars aligning to make innocent Amanda look so screamingly, beyond a reasonable doubtingly guilty. (and not the overwhelming behavioral circumstantial and hard physical evidence against her which the documentary brushes over in a cursory manner.) Villains first were the cops then prosecutor, and now according to Netflix,the tabloid media,anyone except Amanda Knox herself.
The film makes out that Rudy Guede, the sole person convicted for Meredith Kercher's murder, left his DNA all over the crime scene, with funky arrows pointing here there and everywhere. The problem is this simply isn't true. Rudy Guede was convicted on less DNA evidence (five samples) than Amanda Knox(six samples).
As for the featured so-called "independent DNA experts", Conti and Vechiotti, well, they were found "Objectively biased" and "Objectively deceptive" in court by the Nencini appellate. Specifically because Vechiotti falsely claimed that the technology did not exist to re- test the murder weapon. It did indeed exist in 2011. Vechiotti was also filmed by the BBC shaking hands with Sollecito's father in court no less, hardly appropriate behavior for so-called independents and neither's expertise is in forensic DNA anyway (Vechiotti is a pathologist & Conti's expertise is um, "computer medical science" whatever that's supposed to be).
You'll notice in this review how I've rarely mentioned the victim Meredith Kercher. That's because she barely gets a mention in this sad excuse for a documentary. Not even an RIP. Meredith, the victim is relegated to a mere footnote and indeed a foot under a duvet. Reprehensibly, the doc also displays close up autopsy photos of Meredith. Yet the autopsy photos were never made public. Considering only the Kerchers (who didn't take part in Netflix's PR makeover) and the defence- and by extension the two former defendants- had access to such material, this begs the very pertinent question- who provided two ardent Knox supporters with autopsy photos of the murder victim? The filmmakers should be ashamed of themselves for this alone, utterly contemptible behavior which comes across as needlessly and despicably taunting the victim's family or at the very least exploiting their daughter and sister purely for lurid effect to make their documentary more "gritty".
So what's the verdict on Amanda Knox the documentary? Well it's a terrible, false and ultimately immoral exercise in innocence fraud and here are some facts that Knox's PR infomercial left out:
1 The Supreme Court's acquitting report states that Amanda Knox was present during Meredith's murder and may even have possibly washed the victim's blood from her hands afterwards but it STILL can't be proved that she did it. (which begs more questions, namely why didn't innocent Amanda call the cops for her friend and why wasn't she done for accessory at least?) The same Supreme Court do not make the same allowance for the black guy though, had he had have washed the victim's blood from his shoes for example. The court also states that there's "strong suspicion" that Sollecito was there.
2 The Supreme Court's acquitting report states that the burglary was staged.
3 The Supreme Court's acquitting report states that Meredith was murdered by three attackers and that Guede had two accomplices. (And you really don't have to be Stephen Hawking to figure out who these two accomplices were, when you view the evidence in its totality)
4 The Supreme Court's acquitting nonetheless finalizes Knox's calumny/ criminal slander conviction, which she got for falsely accusing her innocent employer of rape and murder, leaving him in prison for two weeks and never retracting her statement, despite false reports that she did, meaning that Knox's status is still that of a convicted criminal felon.
5 In finalizing Amanda Knox's calumny/criminal slander conviction, The Supreme Court's acquitting report states that Knox blamed her boss to protect Rudy Guede as she was afraid that Guede could "retaliate by incriminating" her, which of course begs some more very interesting and pertinent questions, such as how could Guede incriminate innocent Amanda to begin with?
6 The Supreme Court's acquitting report does NOT exonerate Knox, it acquits her due to "insufficient evidence",like Casey Anthony, OJ Simpson and that nice man Robert Durst.
RIP Meredith Kercher, who along with her stoic dignified family (who have been subjected to absolutely abhorrent abuse and attacks by Knox's supporters online) and Knox's employer Patrick Lumumba are the only victims here. May the truth shine in your case one day and the facts and truth come to light. Neither Amanda Knox or Raffaele Sollecito are fooling anyone familiar with Ms Kercher's case & facts are available at the murder of Meredith Kercher .com and in the Nencini and Massei reports.
Entertaining and informative documentary on a much maligned sub genre of horror
Ah, those crazy Italian Cannibal films.
Where men were men, women were mistreated, natives were racially stereotyped and animals were terrified and quite frankly doomed. Throw in some fun times dubbing and plenty of gratuitous nudity, grue and sleaze and you have yourself a fun night. Unless you don't like Cannibal films and rather than... erm, not watch them, what better way to highlight your dislike of a sub genre, by making a documentary about it focusing on (and taking at face value) all the politically incorrect aspects of it, by getting some talking head critics to read to much into things and highlight how for all of their knowledge and wisdom, they just plain don't get Italian exploitation or indeed any exploitation? Or at least that's the impression I got from this nonetheless quite entertaining and informative documentary. One critic opines that violence against women' and misogyny is "par for the course" in horror films (such as The Innkeepers and The Thing) and of course the animal cruelty aspect is visited yet again, although one can understand this at least and the exploitation of natives are also finger wagged at. Thing is, we're all aware of this and recognise that exploitation cinema can be at times genuinely exploitative and not in a good way at all, yet we still watch such films, meaning we've made peace with it to a degree and recognise that these films were films of their time so to hear somebody yet again pontificating about how horribly politically incorrect those rotten Italians could be 40 years ago is a tad grating at this stage.
Yet... it's still a freaking documentary about Cannibal flicks and when it comes to delivering the goods interview wise, it totally delivers, with amusing interviews with both Ruggero Deodato and the apparently notoriously difficult to secure an interview with Umberto Lenzi having them both strongly claiming it was one and not the other who pioneered the sub genre, with Deodato suggesting that Lenzi simply ripped off a Man Called Horse. We also have contributions from Luigi Cozzi, Sergio Martino, (who still insists the snake accidentally ate the monkey when filming Mountain of the Cannibal God), Roger Kermann (who REALLY dislikes Cannibal Holocaust) and Giovanni Lombardo Radice, who's remarkably restrained when it comes to sticking the boot into Lenzi, considering their dislike of each other, as well as a charming Me Me Lai, who gives some very amusing anecdotes and comes across as a lovely person.
So, as Cannibal gut crunching documentaries go, (and it's not like we're spoiled for choice here either) it's overall a way entertaining offering from director Calum Waddel, even if the hand wringing condemnation kinda annoyed me.
But overall I quite liked it and give it a 7.5/10 and it's recommended viewing for any horror or exploitation fan.
The Outsider (1979)
Utterly pragmatic look on low intensity warfare where Realpolitik reigns and the end justifies the means
Irish American rich kid Michael Flaherty (Craig Wasson) is a disillusioned Vietnam veteran, captivated by the romantic patriotic tales of his Irish Civil War veteran grandfather (Sterling Hayden). Determined to aid The Cause, he joins the IRA to fight the British. However, once he arrives, he finds that all is not what it seems, an all encompassing shade of grey permeates everything and that both the IRA and the British army consider him an expendable asset if need be and cynicism and utter pragmatism abounds.
The Outsider is a film I've personally been looking for for the past 25 years or so, partly for being captivated by the novel as a kid and partly because my brother appeared in it in a scene where kids play soldiers, as one of the kids. Now that I've finally seen it, I found it an unassuming tour de force. There is no glory here. No heroism. No idealism. Just workmanlike docudrama style reality as both the IRA's army council and British military brass make coldly rational and logical decisions which will further their respective causes. When children are killed in the crossfire during a gun battle, by British army bullets, the IRA's army council discuss the tragedy in terms of how much more support the deaths will gain them among Irish Americans, while a British Colonel (veteran British actor Geoffry Palmer) admonishes his subordinate that "We can't have 12-year-old children being killed Nigel, it will swell up the ranks of the IRA", while his subordinate protests against SAS involvement on the grounds that "They'll make a mess of things, they always do", which will gain further recruitment for the IRA.
As for the IRA themselves, there's Emmet, the pleasant and utterly ruthless executioner, The Farmer (veteran Irish actor Niall Toibin), a coldly implacable and completely ruthless brigade commander who retorts to complaints by a visiting army council member regarding civilian casualties to "tell GHQ to get me more guns instead of dynamite and my aim will be much more selective". and Tony, a smiling baby faced psychopath who the Farmer disdains because "It would make you sick the love he has for the trigger", but who also has no problem using to commit assassinations, precisely because of his bloodlust if it furthers The Cause. No morality. No ethos. Just get the job done in a pragmatically efficient way as possible due to the end justifying the means, in a low intensity war fought just as much via PR and through the media as it is in the back alleys of Belfast or fields of Monaghan.
Irish actor Ray MacAnally terrifies in a left field scene as a murky British intelligence torturer, whose torture of a civilian is utterly workmanlike and casual as a means to an end.
The Farmer coldly tries to figure out who a suspected informer may be with no illusions to the viewer as to what will await the informer's fate. There are no heroes and no villains, no Good Guys or Bad Guys but merely opponents who will use pawns as they see fit to win the war.
The film is not without its minor flaws, such as one or two dodgy/missplaced accents but overall, as has been said by other reviewers, The Outsider is a true lost gem of a film with no easy answers but many astute observations. 9/10, highly recommended.
Boooring. I'm not impressed, Mr Ho
The first Men Behind the Sun was starkly & grimly disturbing, outright shocking in parts. The second Men Behind the Sun was exploitative gold.
Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre was sober and definitely had its moments.
Men Behind the Sun III: Destroy all evidence is... a plodding bore. Japanese soldiers on a train basically have flashbacks from the other Men Behind the Sun films (parts 1 & 2) as Godfrey Ho was feeling REALLY lazy and decided he couldn't be bothered putting any effort (at all, whatsoever) into his rip off and apparently thought "Hey, that Wes Craven dude made a Hills Have Eyes sequel that consisted mainly of flashbacks, I'll do the same! Ho, you genius!".
Anyway as has already been said far more eloquently than me, avoid this, it isn't worthy of the Men Behind the Sun moniker. Just a really dull, plodding film and anyone who's seen the other MBTS films is missing nothing- and I do mean absolutely nothing- here at all. Avoid like the plague filled syringes of unit 731.
Olympus Has Fallen (2013)
God bless America... and God bless the Korean Hans Gruber!
Korean terrorists attack the White House and it's up to ex Secret Service agent and all round badass Mike Banning (Gerard Butler looking all rugged and gritty) to save the President Benjamin Asher (a steel jawed no nonsense Aaron Eckardt) and also America.
And basically that's the plot and rather than get bogged down in serious chin stroking discourse, director Antoine Fuqua wisely decides to use a contemporary world security issue to revisit the 80s, with Rick Yune standing in for a good Hans Gruber from Die hard, as the silkily evil villain Kang, who's got R rated badassery to go with his suavely evil demeanour.
Any action fan will really be wondering if Olympus has Fallen delivers the goods and the happy answer to this is yes, yes it does. Butler shoots, stabs, tortures and neck snaps his way to the bad guy's lair, delivering a cool monologue on what he intends to do to Kang to boot, and the action is mercifully R-rated, with it basically being chock full of gritty and at times wince inducing violence as well as having a pretty damn impressive looking all out assault on The White House itself. Does it have plot holes? Hellz yes, it's one of the many awesome things about it. Is it brainless? It's more Brainless than Jersey Shore. Again, one of the many awesome things about it. Is it jingoistic and low brow nationalistic? It would rival the likes of The Delta Force, Death Before Dishonour, Invasion USA or any Golan Globus production, circa 1980s in sheer, breast beating flag waving fervour. I'm not even American and even I was shouting "God Bless America!" at the end of this flick. So basicaslly anyone looking for a sober examination of US foreign policy should avoid this one and watch Syriana instead. It has a paunchy George Clooney with a beard as well as a badass mark Strong.
However anyone who really just wishes to see Gerard Butler acting all heroic while delivering the action goodies in a decidedly R-rated manner, then Olympus Has Fallen is a more than adequate time filler and should definitely satisfy. 8/10, loud, vacuous dumb and a whole lotta fun.
And whoever played Mike Banning's wife had the easiest pay cheque on Earth.
A surprising gem from New Zealand
Kylie (Morgana O'Reilly) is a wild child methamphetamine & drink fueled girl who's not averse to engaging in petty crime to fund her lifestyle. One night, after her spot of smash 'n' grab badly backfires, Kylie is put under house arrest, complete with delinquent offender ankle bracelet, to live with her long suffering mother and her mother's almost permanently silent husband and has to endure being checked in on by her social worker Dennis (Cameron Rhodes) and likable security guard Amos (Glen-Paul Waru)
Kylie and her mother don't get on at all, with neither particularly happy with this state of affairs. Worse still, her mother who tends to believe in the paranormal gets even more annoying by insisting the house is haunted, due to the strange noises and weird sighting in the basement she had. Kylie scoffs at this and finds her mother's incessant chatter and claims even more irritating...
...Until she hears the noises herself one night. Things get even worse when Kylie starts having her own sightings & observations of weird stuff happening. Desperate for help, she and her mother confides in Amos the security guard. Amos, a keen amateur paranormal investigator decides to look into things, which leads to them uncovering some rather creepy info about the house in the process. As the mystery deepens, Kyleigh, her mother and Amos all realise that they're gonna have to solve it before whatever it is that dwells in the house engulfs and destroys them all...
Housebound is a very pleasant surprise comedy horror gem from New Zealand, but with nicely done scares and a creepy atmosphere to go with the chuckles, which come mainly via hilarious interactions with the dysfunctional trio. It also turns into a surprisingly layered film plot wise with some twists & turns in the third act to keep things nicely interesting. With some gold one liners and effective scares, it's emerged as one of the better horror viewings of this year and while frequently hilarious, it's primarily a horror thriller that simply tempers things with some very deft comedic relief.
Overall a highly recommended gem from New Zealand and it went down well with the audience at the Dead by Dawn festival where I caught it, so any horror fan should keep an eye out for this one. 8/10, really decent little horror flick.
Les gouffres (2012)
Georges (Mathieu Almaric) is a renowned speleologist who is called to either a south or central American location, after a group of vast sinkholes/chasms have been discovered in a forest. Accompanying him is his wife France (Nathalie Boutefeu), who has to live in an isolated inn while her husband is exploring.
Alone, with very few people to talk to, France starts hearing things, which she starts associating with the sinkholes her husband is exploring. Other stranger things still begin happening which leads France to wonder if the chasms are as far away as would appear. or maybe they're just getting nearer to her. Or maybe they somehow wish to communicate...
The phrase "interesting premise, terrible execution" immediately leaped to mind for me when watching this as it's quite frankly terrible and amazingly for a film of 62 minutes in length, it feels like a three hour affair, with it being perfectly at home with long lingering shots and exposition and weird ambiguous stupid stuff that doesn't make a lick of sense.
Those that like art-house or fantastical cinema may find much to like here but I was personally bored to tears by it and found it pretty nonsensical. Nicely shot though but precious little else going for it, with nothing really adding up satisfactorily for me. Didn't particularly go down well at the Dead by Dawn Festival either where I caught it. 3/10 a film to be avoided.
Gureitofuru deddo (2013)
Utterly demented and way entertaining film
Nami (Kumi Takiuchi) is a lonely young girl prone to outbursts of left field violence, due to being ignored by her poverty-relief obsessed mother who leaves one day, leaving her with her depressed father and older sister. Nami's dad takes on a mistress and still ignored and with her sister now with a boyfriend, Nami seeks constant solace in in an inane shopping channel, captivated by the gadgets and bargains offered by the smiling host.
Years later, Nami, now a young woman has a peculiar hobby in which she observes and takes notes on sad and very lonely elderly people, who she calls "Solitarians". There's the angry middle aged man who barges by everywhere rudely bumping people aside, and there's the crazy homeless looking guy who feeds the pigeons, all collectively becoming Nami's muse and a source of endearment. One specific solitarian catches her attention. He's Mr. Shiomi (Takashi Sasano) an embittered old man, who once empowered with former status, is now alone, lonely and angry, going through each day with a grumpy, dreary resignation.
Nami is captivated by this with Mr Shiomi providing her with much entertainment. One day however a Christian missionary woman Su Yong (Khobbi Kim) visits Mr Shiomi and asks if he'd like her to engage in bible reading with him. Suspicious at first, Mr Shiomi eventually agrees and a hesitant friendship begins between them with Mr Shiomi, becoming less bitter and finding a new appreciation for life.
Nami is not amused. Mr Shiomi's new found zest means he's no longer a "Solitarian" thanks to Su Yong's meddling. What's to be done about this state of affairs? One thing's for sure, Nami will not have anyone messing with her precious hobby or her viewed from afar subjects...
Grateful Dead is well, pretty great actually with it starting off like a typically quirky Japanese comedy before slowly but inexorably getting darker & darker until veering into outright horror territory toward the third act. However, it's really a (very effective) mixture of genres, combining comedy with drama and some social commentary to boot, before its demented conclusion.
A highly recommended little gem it should be sought out by any horror/genre fan or anyone who likes offbeat films in general.
A strong 8/10, just a highly satisfying and nicely demented (but not at all demented for the sake of it) film.
Big Bad Wolves (2013)
Dark, partially brutal yet surprisingly funny Israeli horror
*No specific spoilers, merely in regards to plot outline*
A brutal sadistic child sex murderer is terrorising Israel.
Miki, (Lior Ashkenazi) is an uncompromising hard- ass cop who makes Dirty Harry and Cobra combined look like bleeding heart liberals. Miki is convinced that the killer is Dror (a great turn from a guy I've never heard of, Rotem Keinan), a mild mannered schoolteacher and is prepared to go to any lengths to get a confession, including beating his suspect senseless.
When his spot of police brutality badly backfires, he is suspended until further notice. However, not one to let such things deter him Miki resolves to get answers, even if it means kidnapping Dror and subjecting him to a bit of third degree in order to get his answers...such as what the killer does with his victims' heads...
However Dror insists- as he has insisted all along- that he's innocent, would never do such a despicable thing and that all of this is a horrible mistake. Miki is not impressed as he's convinced of Dror's guilt.
But ultimately it doesn't matter whether Miki believes Dror or not, because it turns out that it isn't Miki Dror must convince... it's Gidi. (Tzahi Grad)
Gidi is the one neither man have been aware of and he's a man on a mission. He may well have a murky intelligence style background of his own and he wants answers from Dror...because Gidi's daughter was the monster's- the Big Bad Wolf's, you might say- last victim. Gidi is implacable, determined and utterly ruthless and he will get answers. And if that means using the tools at his persuasion to torture said answers from his suspect, then so be it. And if Miki the upstart cop gets in his way, and doesn't see eye to eye with Gidi's plans, well that's just too bad...
Big Bad Wolves is a dark and rather brutal horror that's also infused with some surprisingly successful (albeit pitch black) humour that shouldn't, but does work for the film as a whole and actually balances out an otherwise quite dark and grim horror quite nicely and gives it a quirky unpredictable edge. It is NOT however a horror comedy but a quite dark horror with blackly humorous elements to it.
From the makers of Kalavet/Rabies (2010), (which I also liked for what it was) it's a marked improvement on its predecessor in terms of style, plot and character development and directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado are two talented up-comers that any self respecting horror fan should keep an eye out for and I'm personally looking forward to their next potential project to see of they can offer up a third win.
8/10 a taut, well made and well acted horror thriller and well recommended for any horror fan.
Mon Ami (2012)
Solidly enjoyable lo fi comedy horror
Best friends and co-workers Teddy & Cal are bored and disgruntled with their dead end job. Bored because it sucks and disgruntled as Teddy is passed for promotion in favour of the company owner's sons.
One day they decide that a great way to solve their problems and get rich quick would be to kidnap their boss's daughter and extort a ransom, thereby making enough $$$ to live on easy street for life. The only problem is, that if you looked up the terms "inept", "horribly disorganised" "bumbling", "Likable but kinda dim" and "worst kidnappers in the history of kidnapping", you would undoubtedly find the faces of Teddy & Cal staring back at you, probably while grinning inanely too.
And when you have two people whose planning capability could be written on the back of a postage stamp with room to spare, deciding to engage in an actual kidnapping, then you just know things are gonna end in tears. And blood. And dismemberment...
Mon Ami, while clearly shot on a shoestring budget is still a solidly enjoyable comedy horror that comes across as semi experimental and has a nice sense of unpredictability to it. It does have its flaws, with it being more restrained than I would have liked, although in fairness this was probably due to budgetary constraints. It also could have benefited with some slight trimming,with some scenes going on overlong. I personally found some of the performances akin to the hysterical performances of the screwball comedies of the 30s/40s, which I found slightly grating, and also probably due to budgetary constraints, the film relies on classical music for a score, which doesn't always work for it. That having said,it has a ton of heart,some decent dialogue and good believable chemistry between our two bickering buffoons and is in tone at least, nicely nasty in parts.
Overall it's a solid and ultimately satisfying lo fi indie comedy horror from the ever underrated Canada and worth checking out for any fan of indie comedies, horrors or thrillers and any horror fan who enjoyed the likes of Trent Haaga's Chop (2011) or The Cottage (2008) should have a reasonably good time with this. 7/10, a solid little film and an enjoyable watch.
An overlooked gem
Lila Lee (Cheryl Smith) is an angelic 14-year-old girl, in the care of the local church after her vicious gangster father goes on the lam, after he commits a double murder.
One day, Lila receives a letter from the mysterious Lemora (Leslie Taplin) telling her that her father is gravely ill and that she may see him, but only on the condition that she tells no- one. So begins a dreamy, garishly coloured and magical journey for our innocent protagonist to reach her mysterious destination. However, it turns out that Lemora is not who she appears to be and has her own special plans for Lila, that will change her forever...
Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural is a film that I had on my "Film to see" list for quite some time now and when I finally watched it, I gotta say I was absolutely kicking myself, I'd neglected to see it for so long as it really is a gem. Set in 1920s/30s America, it veritably drips atmosphere and has a languid, dreamy (or nightmarish if you like) tone, reminiscent of Let's Scare Jessica to Death, (1971) or perhaps more pertinently Messiah of Evil (1973) in terms of visual style and in fact, due to its visual overall look, I can't help wondering if a certain Mr Argento seen Lemora back in the day,and whether it influences his Suspiria, as both films have an undeniable similarity in style, visually. Cheryl Lee gives a very effective performance as the lost and innocent Lila, with her expression consistently exuding fragility and vulnerability, and Leslie Taplin is great as the mysterious,alluring and subtly sinister Lemora. For a (U.S.) PG-13 film it's surprisingly dark in tone, with certain touching upon sexuality themes that I'm not sure would be passed today in a PG-13 film and emerges as a decidedly adult fairy tale and an intelligent one at that.
Any horror fan who liked the aforementioned films should check this one out immediately. While I see threads on the film on the IMDb horror occasionally and know it has a place in the hearts of several regular posters there, I'm still somewhat surprised it apparently doesn't seem to get its proper dues as it truly deserves its place in the annals of classic/iconic horrors, as it's one of the best I've seen of its decade, and this is coming from a decade of absolute quality in regards to horror cinema.
8.5/10, a highly recommended gem that puts an innovative and intriguing spin on an established horror sub genre, it should be sought out by any self respecting horror fan.
Cannibal Diner (2012)
Cannibal Generic Holocaust... lite
A bunch of nubile German chicks head off to an abandoned diner before discovering that it's really home to a den of cannibals. One by one they are picked off in tame cutaway ways until the one that's left runs around a lot while whimpering. You ever see a film with a pretty cool cover which makes you think it might at least have some nice gore and be a passable entertaining time filler? Only then you put it on and it's absolutely dire and generic and totally devoid of any tension, suspense or fun? Yeah. Cannibal Diner is one of those films. Basically, it's a generic badly directed mess and most unforgivably of all, it's really boring. The director is apparently under the bizarre delusion that jumpy flashy cut off editing and long scenes of a chick stumbling around to intense urgent music equates to tension. It doesn't.
I don't want to sound too harsh here because I never expected much to begin with, and sucker as I am for all things cannibal related in horror, my standards tend to be fairly low in this regard. All I ask for is some nice gore and some perky nudity. Now while there is admittedly some perky nudity here, it's still an utterly abysmal film, that failed to even meet my low requirements, and I gotta say, I'm actually amazed that films like this even get financed. I firmly believe that for all its flaws, indie or low budget horror is actually the lifeblood of the genre, in terms of quality, but just like big budgeted and decidedly bland remakes, indie horror unfortunately throws some turkeys our way also and Cannibal Diner is a film to be avoided, as it's one of those films where your finger is itching to press the fast forward button 30 minutes in and even at 66 minutes (6 minutes are end credits) it still outstays its welcome. 2/10 a really bad and boring horror film and far too tame.
Only God Forgives (2013)
Only God Drives Brooding I mean Only God Forgives
A film by Nicholas Winding Refn
Starring Ryan Gosling as Moody, Broody Soulful Antihero
Kristin Scott Thomas as Moody Antihero's Ice Cold but Milfy Ma
Vitaya Pansingram as The Thai Terminator
And introducing: Lots of Thai ladies in 1950s Suzie Homemaker dresses, as the supporting cast.
Thailand. The present day.
Ryan Gosling is moody, broody, laconic soulful drug dealer and Muay Thai kick boxing gym owner, Julian. His life consists of dealing drugs, not saying much and staring at nothing in visually stunning surroundings, to an 80s tinged quasi retro synthesizer score, when he's not having digitally probing hand sex with a Thai hooker called Mai. One day Julian's rather addled brother is killed for doing something really really (REALLY) bad. When Julian hears the news he stares and then stares some more, in even more visually pleasing cinematography, as being a drug dealer is hard and requires much intense soulful reflection.
Things aren't helped when Julian's ice cold and rather milfy Ma appears on the scene. Julian's Ma is exactly like Vera Farmiga in Bates Motel, only far more vicious and abrasive and she has no time at all for Julian's brooding. She viciously belittles him at dinner, in front of his hooker bird Mai and then bizarrely, starts talking about her dead son's wang in a disturbingly graphic manner, even using a word which rhymes with mock. Bottom line- she wants revenge and when an ice cold milf is looking for revenge and she's yer Ma no less, well...
...Julian broods. And stares, while that awesome soundtrack plays. And... not much happens for quite some time...
However, it turns out that Julian's (thoroughly despicable) brother was killed only with the permission of a certain cop. This cop is The Thai Terminator and he's indescribably bad ass. He's so bad ass that his day typically consists of walking in slow mo while waving a short but very lethal looking sword about, in a highly stylized choreographed manner, while another 80s retro synthesizer score throbs in the background. It's almost like the Thai Terminator is really God ,(albeit a relentlessly homicidal and incredibly badass Old Testament blood and vengeance kinda God as opposed to his metro son who appeared in the sequel, the New Testament), Julian's Mam is the Devil and they are battling over his redemption seeking and admittedly soulful soul... (It's also almost like Gosling's actual character, Julian is really the driver from Drive, who has hightailed it to Thailand, to get into a showdown with a Thai and far more bad ass version of Albert Brooks).
The Thai Terminator is SO bad ass, that he thinks nothing of singing Karaoke- for AGES- after horribly and jaw-droppingly graphically, torture-murdering a thinks- he's -hard- but- really- isn't- compared- to -the- Thai-Terminator, not so hard ass Assie drug lord. (read that last sentence back again, slowly. It'll make more sense once you break it down:))
Yes, the violence in Only God Forgives out-drives Drive in the sheer left field icky gooey in yer face violence stakes, but it's all so visually sumptuous, it becomes beautiful. In fact, EVERY damn scene in this film is beautiful. I actually wept and had a spontaneous and simultaneous climax when watching it, and the climax was purely due to Only God Forgives' sheer aesthetic beauty, and that's never happened to me when watching a non pornographic film before, but considering I've just given way TMI there, I'll simply move on gracefully and say see this film.
It's so pretentious and self indulgent it makes both Antichrist and The Idiots combined seem really really non-pretentious but it's just so soul achingly beautiful, you really won't care. Its pretentiousness and self indulgence actually make it even more awesome. And by all rights I should hate this film, as I'm an admitted philistine in regards to art-house cinema and will be the first to confess that I normally have no time for this kinda arty farty claptrap, but man... this film rocked and had David Lynch had have directed it, it would have been cheered instead of booed at Cannes. I intend to revisit it again soon and hopefully weep (and um... y'know, ahem) again at its sheer ethereal beauty.
A solid 7.5/10 rounded to 8 for IMDb, pretentious as hell (and I know a lot of people hate the use of the word "pretentious", and certainly not without justification either, but trust me folks, it really does apply here:)), but awesomely beautiful. And it also has Ryan Gosling having a bad ass fight while wearing a suit that undoubtedly cost more, than the non existent down payment I never put down on the apt I don't own... which is reason enough to see it.
And anyone who Liked (as I did) Valhalla Riding should REALLY dig this one, as it has the same dreamy & surreal style/tone. Only even more badass.
And joking aside folks, Vitaya Pansingram is actually excellent in the film and exudes a sheer commanding menacing presence, while not actually saying much, which is rather difficult to pull off successfully, but Pansingram not only manages to pull it off, he pretty much elevates the film in any scene he's in. To stand out in such a beautifully shot surreal film via your sheer presence is quite a feat and my hat's off to him.
Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines (2012)
I gotta be honest.I kinda...liked it
Our homicidal mutant mountain hillbilly thingies this time descend on a town which is holding a mountain man hillbilly mutant thingie festival, in order to spring their not-mutant-&-capable-of-speech-but-just-as-mean Pa from the town's jail. It's up to a bunch of spunky twentysomethings posing as teens and a just as spunky and suspiciously kinda hot female sheriff to thwart their plans.
So, let's break a film called Wrong Turn FIVE (my emphasis) down objectively and examine its pitfalls. Yes the acting is dire from most of the players. However that doesn't matter because there's nigh on zero character development anyway, as everyone is really just a ninepin to be bloodily bowled over.
Yes, the characters make dumb stupid decisions... like they do in many many other really dumb but nonetheless fun horror flicks.
Yes, some of the CGI is pretty damn unforgivable but... um, well at least they throw some old school, FX into the mix as well... I guess.
Yes it has stupid plot holes like a town holding a festival suddenly becoming deserted but on the other hand it's from a franchise about mutant hillbilly thingies going on a rampage for no discernible reason, which isn't particularly realistic to begin with so y'know, let's not nit pick here.
But look... if you're really the type of horror fan that demands critical merit from each and every one of your horror films, then sorry but with respect, you've no damn business watching a fourth direct to DVD sequel about a bunch of murderous mutant hillbillies to begin with.
However, anyone who has actually watched the previous four Wrong Turns and pretty much lowered their expectations after the first film, will probably have two blunt fundamental questions:
#1) Does this deliver in the gore department? Hell yes. This is to the Wrong Turn franchise what The Collection was to um... The Collector but point being, it's basically a succession of really sadistic set piece kills, and although the characters are pretty well, characterless you still can't help feeling sorry for them as the manner in which they die is quite frankly unutterably cruel and just plain wrong. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how mean spirited it is, but it really is a nasty piece of work altogether which in my world equates to win.
#2) Does it have boobage? Yep. Perky ones too.
And as well as that, it's nicely paced and that's all anyone needs to know when watching a film called Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines. It's cheap, dumb and vacuous but delivers in what it sets out to do, is never dull and is probably best watched with like minded mates when drunk or else altered in some other manner, like the way many characters are kinda altered in Bates Motel. And again it's way mean spirited so if you're ever bored and have nothing else to stick on, then you could do a lot worse and it should reasonably entertain, so long as you're willing to park your brain at the door, and as somebody stupid once probably said (and probably said it defensively) "brains are overrated anyway.."
Anyway, 6/10 for Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines. Daft film, but pretty fun.
The Battery (2012)
Nicely offbeat road film drama... with zombies
Ben (the director, Jeremy Gardner) & Mickey (Adam Cronheim) are two ex pro baseball players who are eking out an existence while wandering a zombie infested America. Ben is nomadic and doesn't like staying in one place for too long, while Mickey longs for settlement. Mickey hides himself away from the zombie apocalypse via solace in his headphones which he almost permanently wears, while Ben is more the hunter gatherer type, more concerned with survival. On they wander, smoking, fishing, playing catch and generally getting on each others nerves, as when one has survived a zombie apocalypse, one unfortunately doesn't get to choose one's traveling companion.
And that's pretty much it in terms of plot as The Battery is more of a quirky, offbeat character driven road film than an outright zombie film, with the zombies themselves only very occasionally making an appearance. However, while being flawed, The Battery is at heart a pretty decent film, with great and believable chemistry between our two squabbling protagonists, and while shot on a minuscule paltry budget of a mere $6,000 it's a beautiful looking film and easily transcends its shoestring budget via its wholly believable performances. It's also gut bustingly funny in parts with great dialogue and one unutterably wrong but absolutely hilarious scene that had me on the floor.
It's not a film without its flaws though, with some scenes going on far too long, which kinda annoyed me and I really think it could've benefited with some leaner editing. However, for a debut film shot with such ultra limited resources, it's overall a minor quibble as ultimately The Battery is a winner, so horror fans should give it a chance as it's an ambitious and satisfying film with a ton of heart. Awesome soundtrack too.
The Tingler (1959)
I had the distinct pleasure of catching this at the Edinburgh Dead by Dawn festival for the first time and wasn't prepared at just how much fun it was. While essentially a silly cheese laden b horror, it's also a surprisingly layered film in terms of plot development and its main premise- Vincent Price's slightly unethical doctor discovers a parasite who feeds off of our fears- would be right at home in any 70s Cronenberg film. The characters themselves reveal themselves to be wholly unscrupulous whenever it suits them, and it even has Vincent Price tripping on acid! Speaking of which there's a very clever and well made for its time hallucinatory sequence which actually holds up well today still.
And that's not even taking into consideration the whole amount of gimmicky fun that goes with it. I've always shamefully had little interest in horror pre '68 (some exceptions like Psycho to the rule and mea culpa) but films like The Tingler have me kicking myself for having such disinterest as for me, this was a campy schlocky but surprisingly clever little gem and I'm delighted I got to see it for the first time in a theater. 8/10, great little film.
Dead Shadows (2012)
Regarding an alien invasion of France, this film is utterly dire. It has a wimpish protagonist who every chick in the film seems to have the hots for and every female character in it is either shallow, vapid or both. It gives no real explanation or backstory, but simply belts along, yet manages to be utterly devoid of tension or suspense and has stupid plot holes. Even at 70 odd minutes it still feels too long and is basically a sequence of weird occurrences and mediocre fight scenes. Also, the CGI sucks.
I don't even really have the heart to go into any more detail except to say that it's a total turkey and didn't go down well at all with the audience at the Edinburgh Dead by Dawn festival where I caught it.
2/10, a boring annoying film that doesn't seem to have a clue about what it actually wishes to say and a film to be avoided. Truly dreadful.
Modus Anomali (2012)
clever little film
A luckless individual wakes up from being buried alive in the forest with no memory of who he is or how he got there. Stumbling across a cabin he finds a horrific snuff film. From there on, he slowly regains his memory and realises he and his family are being stalked by a mysterious killer. So begins a murderous game of cat & mouse as he attempts to save his family and stay one step ahead of his pursuer...
Let's face it, this premise sounds pretty generic and bog standard, doesn't it? Well... it isn't.
And I'm not gonna tell you any more except to recommend you stick with this unusually shot in English Inonesian offering as it's a smarter film than it appears to be. While standard in set up at first, director Joko Anwar cleverly pulls the rug out from under your feet with a surprising and smart little revelation.
So horror fans, have patience with this one, as its payoff is well worth it, and while the eagle eyed and sharp listeners may realise what's going on, it's still a satisfying film that puts a nicely innovative spin on the survivalist horror sub genre.
7.5/10 a decent little horror and what with 2009's Dara, Indonesia are showing themselves a force to be reckoned with for horror cinema.
Jug Face (2013)
Nicely offbeat backwoods horror
Ada is a young girl who lives with her backwoods hillbilly moonshinin' clan. A close knit community, they all share a rather arcane religion. Every so often, The Potter makes a ceramic jug adorned by a face. Every face that appears on the jug is a member of the clan and any face that appears must be sacrificed for the good of the community. Sacrificed to The Pit, which lies in the woods. Because The Pit wants what it wants and The Pit must be sated as this is how it's always been. If The Pit doesn't get what it wants then whatever dwells within it gets angry. And when The Pit gets angry, the community will be punished.
One day, while exploring The Potter's shed, Ada finds the latest jug face. It's her own...
Will she allow herself to be sacrificed, for the good of the clan? or will she set in motion a plan to spare her own life?
Jug Face is a straightforward but pleasantly offbeat horror that puts an interesting and unusual spin on the hillbilly horror/hicksploitation sub genre, with a nice turn by Larry Fessenden as the clan leader and a surprisingly great turn from Sean Young as the overbearing matriarch.
Executively produced by Lucky Mckee and with FX by Robert Kurtzman, it's a satisfying and solid horror that's well worth checking out overall, for fans looking for something just a little bit different.
7/10, decent little film and recommended.
Style over substance
Leon has recently inherited his mother's home after her death. Before her death, his mother was a member of a rather odd cult who worship angels. Taking up residence, he explores the old, creepy and rather labyrinthine house that has statues of angels everywhere. However, Leon soon realises that there's more to his mother's house and her life than meets the eye. He also starts to realise that maybe he's not alone in the house. And maybe, his mother put so much faith in angels to protect her. Protect her from something that may now have its eye on Leon himself...
The Last Will & Testament of Rosalind Leigh has so much potential. It has a gorgeous set design and a nicely ominous tone and impending sense of dread, as well as an effective and decidedly haunting voice-over from Vanessa Redgrave. Unfortunately though after the half way mark it just kinda falls flat and comes across as having some very nice ideas that unfortunately either aren't executed well or else just simply discarded. As a result the film feels decidedly dissatisfying and concludes in an unexpectedly abrupt manner that ultimately leaves the viewer feeling slightly cheated.
That having said it has a nice atmosphere, is absorbing enough for the first half and marks the feature debut of Rue Morgue Magazine editor & president Rodrigo Gudino. While it ultimately didn't work for me, I do think that Gudino has a lot of promise and is certainly talented and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for him in future.
5/10, a film that I personally was disappointed in, but ultimately worth a look as I suspect it's a film that'll polarize fans overall.
Total Recall (2012)
Well maybe it was lowered expectations but after reading some very negative reviews of this, I must confess that the Total Recall remake was far more enjoyable and entertaining than I expected. No, Farrel's no Arnie as Douglas Quaid, but in fairness did anyone expect him to be? Also, Beckinsdale is surprisingly effective as Quaid's homicidal badass wife.
The film itself looks pretty cool and switching the location from Mars to an overcrowded Earth it engages in some nice ideas with a nicely realistic portrayal of cramped living quarters and twisting narrow alleys. It also presents a bleaker, grittier more dystopian view of the future than its predecessor and is rather akin to Blade Runner actually. It's also a film which (gasp!) CGI is actually done right.
Now, parts of it are quite silly with Cranston being woefully miscast IMO as Cohagen. Another quibble I had is that it's overall more plot lite with a rather dizzying array of action sequences used to cover up for this.
However, overall I gotta say I had fun with this and while nothing stand out or special, it's still a dumb but fun flick that as a stand alone action flick manages to be entertaining enough and it kept my attention throughout.
Basically anyone willing to park their brain at the door should have a reasonably good time with it.
That having said... Farrel is no Arnie...
6/10 overall, a daft but entertaining flick that reasonably delivers.
A truly mesmerising experience...
The phrase "needs to be seen to be believed" is thrown about all too freely these days but it's the best way to sum up Things. Stanley Kubrick's 2001 has been called "A trip without LSD". I can tell you now that the makers of Things achieved the same result on a budget which I doubt reached triple figures. Gasper Noe has cited Gerald Kargl's Austrian masterpiece Angst (1983) as an inspiration for the camera-work in his searing Irreversible (2002), but I now know he also meant the searching around the house with a torch scene in Things.
Things has a group of people in a house besieged by weird genetic freak ants... or maybe spiders... I think. But I'm not sure because Things left me with many questions...
...Why do we hear the story of a boy who started off "as thin as a toothpick" but ended up "as fat as a fridge"? Why do characters speak banalities for ages? Why does the father look the same age as his daughter? Why is the horribly inept score bizarrely creepy in spite of itself and why is it almost non stop throughout the film? Why is a porn star reading the news and why is there even news being read in this film? Is it a film? Or did someone actually somehow manage to film a bonafide bad dream? Is it all a possible allegory for... hard drug withdrawls? What is up with that guy's bum fluff 'tache? Why do they keep drinking beer? Why is there a tape recorder in a fridge and did they then put their jackets in said fridge or did I actually hallucinate this? Why do the people act drunk, stoned or like actual zombies? Why is the editing so abrupt that it cuts off actual dialogue and why is the sound so inconsistent? And most of all.... why could I not turn away from this hypnotic mesmerising experience that came across as a nightmare and didn't make a lick of sense, despite it making my head hurt and eyeballs ache?
These questions were never answered. But I do know that Things will suck you into its surreal nightmarish vortex... and you may not want to leave.
Things is the type of film that you give either 0/10 or 10/10. And if I could give Things 11/10 then I would but that wouldn't make sense, much like the madness that is Things, so I won't. But I will give it 10/10 because Things actually managed to spellbind me. And not many films can make that claim.
Also, if the makers could contact me and let me know when the side effects of Things wears off I'd be very much obliged as I'm still feeling kinda weird and spaced out an hour after watching it.
Dark Feed (2013)
Pretty dull and lifeless
A film crew shooting a horror flick in an old abandoned hospital, realise that all is not what it seems as one by one, they all seem to fall under the influence of an evil presence...
The problem I had with this film is that it's nothing that any self respecting horror fan hasn't seen before. It takes a while to get going and utilizes done before clichés such as ominous music combined with slow tracking shots, in an attempt at atmosphere. As a result it emerges as a pretty lacklustre by the numbers effort that despite having one or two nice ideas, is simply a ho-hum affair that has no real suspense or tension and the characters are pretty uninteresting. The performances aren't great either and overall the film simply comes across as boring. It was also far too restrained for my liking, considering its premise could have allowed for at least some potentially entertaining set piece kills, but it's all to tame and cutaway.
4/10, just a dreary, dull horror for me.
36 pasos (2006)
A micro budgeted gem
A group of luckless hotties must follow a set of rules at the behest of a mysterious individual while holed up in a big house after being invited to a birthday party. Failure to adhere to the rules of the house will result in discipline. Failure to have fun will result in punishment. Failure to obey the whistle will not make the homeowners happy.
Now, any reader can be forgiven for thinking that this sounds like your standard, generic ho-hum horror set up but trust me, you'd be wrong and very pleasantly surprised as this isn't quite like any horror film you've ever seen before or ever will see.
I gotta say, I was completely blown away by 36 Pasos. Supposedly shot on a minuscule budget of $5000 it easily transcends its shoestring funding, and via clever use of rewind, animation, flashbacks and an honest to God choreographed Mtv-style dance number- that actually works all the better for the film as a whole- it emerges as one of the quirkiest, offbeat and highly original gems I've ever seen and has become one of my new favorite horrors of the 00s. I'm not gonna give any spoilers regarding plot as it's actually a helluva lot more effective if viewed "blind", with no prior spoilers. Reason being, as well as being highly original, it also comes with a refreshing and very effective sense of unpredictability that makes for captivating viewing as you're really not sure what to expect next or how things will develop amongst the housemates.
I really cannot say enough nice things about 36 Pasos. I watched it purely on impulse one night and it surpassed my expectations in spades. The director Adrian Bogliano is IMO an innovative creative genius who gets the absolute most out of his micro budgets. His slasher Rooms for Tourists also easily transcended its shoestring budget and made for absorbing viewing and his vicious rape revenge film No Morira Sola, while also being probably shot for about the price of a plane ticket is a brutally effective and genuinely gritty throwback flick to those nasty 70s, as opposed to some self aware homage.
I advise horror fans to keep an out for this guy as he's criminally underseen and underrated and his output is worth the time of any self respecting horror fan.
Anyway 9/10 for 36 Pasos, a brilliantly innovative, shoestring budgeted treat, a far superior horror than many of its much larger budgeted counterparts and one of the best horrors I've seen in years. See it now, it's a waiting to be discovered gem.
Dracula 3D (2012)
More craptastic than outright crap
Well after finally seeing this and reading all the way negative reviews, I must confess that Dario's latest somewhat surprised me as I was expecting it to be much much worse. Not that it's very good mind. While in some ways a faithful enough adaptation of Stoker's classic, it also has some bizarre and decidedly left field touches to it including one rather jaw dropping in concept transformation scene involving a giant... insect, which had me in stitches.
The gore is decent in concept but executed badly, with really substandard CGI, which comes across like the Scy/Fi channel doing a really bad rendition of things. Hauer is wasted in it and doesn't actually do much, while Kretchsmann is horribly miscast as the titular count and basically sleepwalks through his role. Asia while still damn alluring looking is still her usual self (when in her dad's films), although obligingly (and considering Dario's her dad, decidedly creepily) gets naked yet again. There's also some fine nudity from Miriam Giovanelli.
I did like its set design though which comes across as a nice homage to the old style Universal/Hammer horrors to an almost stereotypically Gothic degree, all dark castles and heaving bosoms in corsets.
I'm giving this a very generous 6/10 as despite its very real flaws and being rather uneventful in parts, it's also overall a helluva lot more entertaining than I was expecting, although sadly nowhere near as entertaining or gratuitous as his bonkers Mother of Tears.
Lifelong Argento fans will in all probability hate this, but after watching it all I can say is... I liked it better than Giallo... which admittedly isn't saying much.
On a purely critical level I'd probably rate this a generous 4 as it really is a weak and poor effort on Dario's part, but I'm tacking on another bonus two points for unintentional hilarity and for keeping me entertained.
That having said, I'm a bit of an Argento fanboy and can't in all honesty recommend it to his fans, or... well, anyone else probably except fellow fanboys, but Dracula is very probably his weakest film, even if I preferred it to Giallo.