Posts tagged “Murder

Header / SSE


Header  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

From the mind of horror author Edward Lee, comes this horrifying tale of gruelling revenge and backwoods terror!  Stewart Cummings (Jake Suffian), a government agent playing both sides of the law, finds himself in the nightmarish crossfire of a bloody family vendetta. Forced to delve deep into a series of gruesome murders, Cummings encounters the most twisted method of revenge ever conceived by man: The Header.  What’s a header?  Only redneck Travis Tuckton (Elliot V. Kotek) and his evil “grandpappy” knows for sure… and once you learn the shocking answer, you may never be the same. Get ready for the acclaimed horror film that may be the ultimate in violence and gore! “Header” is a film of unrelenting, twisted terror!

2006  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

There’s only 360 more days until next Christmas; how exciting!  I’ve managed to get all the way through this Christmas without putting the heating on at home.  It was my present for the planet and a middle finger to SSE (Scottish and Southern Electricity).  SSE managed to really piss me off recently.  I have (well had) an early version of a smart meter for my electricity.  I’ve had it about 2.5 years.  When I got it I had to change my tariff for a more expense one, (although to be fair it’s probably helped me save more money than the extra I spent on having it).  A couple of months ago it stopped working.  I e-mailed SSE to ask if it could be fixed or replaced.  The reply I got (that took longer to arrive that it should have) said that it was an outdated model and it couldn’t be replaced, but that I’d get a new, free smart meter in a few years’ time!  There was no suggestion that perhaps I’d like to change my electric tariff for a cheaper one again or anything.  This really annoyed me.  In fact it’s annoyed me so much that I’m going to change my electivity suppler next month.  Doing this has been on my mind for a while anyway, as SSE isn’t exactly top of the league when it comes to producing electricity from sustainable sources.  It will probably cost me a bit more, but I’m looking forward to using fair-trade, organic electricity in future, that’s produced by whole African villages of people peddling really quickly on static bikes to produce the stuff for me.  Quite why we can’t harvest the same stuff locally from all the private gyms around here I don’t know.  I guess it’s a similar situation to apples, where in the autumn I can either buy English Cox’s (the world’s best apple), or some tasteless replica with a brand name variety (like Pink Lady) grown in New Zealand.  That’s just weird.  So’s this film.

Agent Stewart Cummings is having a really, really bad day.  (I know he’s an agent as he spends most of the film running around in a t-shirt with the letters ATF on it.  (The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.)  His wife has a mystery illness for which the drugs she needs cost a fortune and his boss is less than supportive of him taking any sort of initiative when it comes to investigating crime.  And on top of that someone locally has started doing rather icky things with peoples’ heads.  Sadly for Stew it goes even further downhill from then on.  After the first ten minutes or so I thought I was going to be faced with an entirely crap film featuring poor production, acting and script.  Weirdly, as it progressed it improved.  It was like it was filmed in chronological order and everyone just got better as they went along.  That’s not to say it’s likely to worry the Oscars in any way, but it got good enough not to distract too much from the watching experience.  I’d love to tell you exactly what a header is, but that would spoil it for you.  Needless to say, it’s not got a great deal to do with aerial prowess in the penalty box, or plumbing.  If nothing else, it’s worth watching just to see Grandpappy, a brilliantly, over-the-top character who brings a level of enthusiasm to proceedings that I wish I could replicate myself when doing my budget forecasts at work.  I did have a lot of sympathy for Agent Cummings, a generally decent guy who just had a run of bad luck, really bad luck.  Sometimes you just have to lose it.  Whilst watching this movie, into my head popped the idea that American rednecks have a lot in common with the UK’s UKIP voters.  More weirdness.

There isn’t a lot of music used in the film, it’s mainly just over the credits, but it’s a decent bit of whatever sort of music it is.

The trailer isn’t exactly forthcoming with details.  (There is a better one on the DVD, but I couldn’t find a link to it anywhere to put here.)  I guess that’s what comes from having a ‘big secret’ that you don’t want to blow to quickly.

Movie Weather Forecast:  Warm and sunny through the course of the film.  Nice.

Recommended for police officers, cobblers, drug dealers and adulteresses.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In a fit of anger that wouldn’t have been out of place in the final verse of Eminem’s “Guilty Conscience”, Agent Cummings finally gets pissed at his bad luck.  I’m not condoning his behaviour of course, but, well, you can understand it.  I’m sure when I eventually ‘lose it’ I’ll go on the rampage too, probably on the London Underground in the rush hour, or maybe in Reading’s Oracle Shopping Centre, on a Saturday afternoon just before Christmas.

Header at IMDB (4.7 / 10)
Header at Wikipedia
Official Site
Header trailer at YouTube


I Know What You Did Last Summer / Star Trek Novels


I Know What You Did Last Summer  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Uk Release

On the magic Summer’s night of high school’s end, Julie, Helen, Ray and Barry get into Barry’s new Beamer and drive out to celebrate, their lives and hopes before them. But on the road they have a terrible accident; hit and kill a man.  In the shock and panic that follows, they dump the body in the sea rather than reporting the accident.  As the body sinks, the hand of the dead man breaks the surface in a last grasp at life, then disappears into the murky depths.  The four friends realise they are now guilty of murder and swear to take their secret to their graves.  But now someone is stalking them, someone who knows who they are, knows what they did last Summer, and seeks revenge…

1997 –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
8.0 out of 10

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of books. Not just any old book though, but Star Trek books.  (This is cue for you to both yawn and go find something else to do, or think this is the best thing, ever.  I don’t mind which you choose; after all, not everyone mentally and emotionally matures at the same speed.)  So anyway, for those of you who have matured sufficiently…  I’ll admit that in the past I’ve flirted a little with Star Trek novels and Star Trek audiobooks.  (I must confess that I especially love the minimal effort the latter take to enjoy and that I can do other things at the same time, like drive or go to sleep.  What’s not so good is the limited range of titles available, their cost and the fact that most have been greatly abridged.)   Star Trek was always as much about the relationships between the characters, as the ‘blowing things up’ stuff.  If it sometimes tries too hard to project a perfect version of America as itself, then I can forgive it that.  Most of these stories were based somewhere in the known Star Trek timeline, generally between this episode or that episode, or occasionally kind of outside it.  Following the release of “Star Trek: Nemesis” a void opened up, one as large as the universe itself.  The Star Trek reboot, whilst brilliant in its own way, can never hope to fill this space; it’s simply the wrong shape, size and timeline.  This void is empty except for one thing, a single Question; what happened to everyone?  The novels from this period are generally really entertaining and exciting, well written and treat ‘known’ Star Trek history with the appropriate level of respect and consistency.  However, they don’t answer that Question.   Then in May 2001, “Avatar” was published, a story written and set after the end of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”.  Over next few years more books came out that did a similar thing and were set after the various TV series and then finally Nemesis itself.  Suddenly we could have answers to the Question.  Of course not everyone likes how future history is working out and what’s happened or happening to all those characters we travelled with for so long, but I’m finding the experience to be wonderfully entertaining.  No longer hemmed in by ‘official’ history or the limitations of TV or film productions, the books set in the period after Nemesis are able to chart their own way forward, taking the Star Trek story further into the future.  They also do a pretty good job of maintaining their internal consistency from one to the next and between different authors.  This makes it feel like they’re all part of one, giant story arc, rather than just random tales.  I’ve just finished reading the “Destiny” trilogy.  This does fundamental things with the Star Trek universe that would have taken a whole series on TV to do justice to them, as well as a sizable special effects budget.  For anyone who hasn’t taken the plunge and started to read these books, I’d fully recommend you find the time to do so.  I wish I could write stories…  This film was the first part of a trilogy.  I think that’s about as far as I can push the comparison.

This movie initially worried me. If someone really did know what I did last summer, then it was likely to be a totally over the top erotic thriller, with elements of horror, science-fiction and comedy mixed in with it.  (Although I must admit I was curious to see who was playing me in it.)  In the end it turned out to be a teen horror with Buffy in it and some killer running around wearing a yellow pacamac and carrying a hook so bent I can’t imagine it was easy to get it to go into anything, never mind a squealing teen.  It also features the absolutely worst pretend ice cubes I’ve ever seen a movie; seriously, they don’t even sound like ice.  And it heavily features “Hush” by Kula Shaka on the soundtrack too, one of the most insipid, horrible tunes ever to be conjured into existence.  It’s awful.  I can remember walking past the video hire shop (remember them) in Colliers Wood on a number of occasions when it first came out on VHS and seeing a big, cardboard cut-out for it in the window.  (Come to think of it, it could have been for one of its two sequels, but let’s ignore that possibility for now.  N.B.  Actually I’ve thought about it some more, I think it might have been an advert for the whole trilogy.)  I can’t recall exactly what went through my mind at the time, but I think there was a level of disappointment that suggests to me now I wasn’t expecting to see it.  It’s weird how you can sometimes recall these random thoughts years later.  I guess my disappointment must have been pretty profound.  Despite all this (and more), it’s actually a really good film, but I can’t for the life of me work out why.  Pretty enigmatic, isn’t it?  I think they’re making a new version of it too…

The evil of Kula Shaker aside, the soundtrack is actually okay and includes songs by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Offspring.

The trailer. It’s better with the sound off.

Recommend for students and fisherman.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? Despite being an entirely obnoxious rich-boy who seemed to exist entirely for the purpose of pissing off his friends and showing his stomach muscles off to the viewer, Ray finally does the right thing and saves The Girl from The Baddie.  As well as being a cliché of the first degree, this is (if it was real of course) a really badass thing to do.  (However, he’d probably have been killed by Ben if it was real life, so it’s just as well it’s only a movie.)

I Know What You Did Last Summer at IMDB (5.6/10)
I Know What You Did Last Summer at Wikipedia
I Know What You Did Last Summer at Roger Ebert (1.0/4)
I Know What You Did Last Summer trailer at YouTube


The New York Ripper / The Role of Alcohol in Reviews


The NewYork Ripper  -  Front DVD Cover  -  Dutch Release

A serial killer makes New York unsafe. Brutally murders he maimed his female victims.  Inspector Williams in the dark.  Meanwhile, the killer continues to make victims and the police harass with nasty phone calls.  When the girlfriend of Williams is likely to be the next victim of the frustrated police launch an intense manhunt …  The New York Ripper (Los squartatore di New York) is one of Lucio Fulci’s most controversial films: stylish and exciting, but also extremely bloody, brutal and sadistic. A horror classic of the first water!  (Thanks Google, you’ve managed a perfect translation of the Dutch overview from my DVD!)

1982 –  Certificate: 16  –  Italian Film
6.0 out of 10

I like to watch films; and TV too, although I virtually never do the latter. I enjoy the experience and often have a wee drink as an accompaniment.  I’m not 100% sure, but I suspect there’s a correlation between how much I enjoy what I watch and what I have to drink, (or more accurately, how much alcohol I have to drink).  Not being the sort of person to pass up an opportunity to carry out radial, left-field, cutting edge research when the occasion arises, I’ve decided to report this information here from now on.  I know it’s not going to provide a cure for Ebola, sort out any civil wars or grant Scotland independence, but it’s still pretty exciting stuff isn’t it?  There is one small problem though.  I can’t actually start to do this yet, as I can’t remember what I had to drink whilst I was watching this film. I guess Einstein had days like this too.

Why do I watch films like this? A serial killer (who talks like a duck for reasons explained near the end of the movie) is on the loose in New York and a burnt out cop is after him.  I’m not a fan of cop films or 70s production values.  (It was made in 1982 but it looks like it was made in 1974.)  I guess as an example of ‘that’ kind of film it’s actually pretty good and carries an uncomfortably authentic level of sleaziness.  Most of the men in it are just dreadful.  I watched the uncut version.  In the UK the film was refused a certificate when first released (effectively banned) and an instruction given that all the prints of the film should be removed from the country. It’s never been released uncut in the UK.  So I ended up watching a Dutch import of an Italian film set in America, in which most of the actors are speaking Italian that was later dubbed into English for its release.  These days, now we’re more enlightened (i.e. when we’re happy for youngsters to play video games where they can actually rip people to pieces), most of it did feel dated and clichéd, although some of its murder scenes are still pretty unpleasant.  Probably not a good first date movie.

The soundtrack is uniformly horrible. In other words, it’s an ideal fit for the movie and adds a great deal to its sleazy, dated feel.  Way too much sax.

The trailer below is the ‘nice’ one. If you want to see the ‘not nice’ one, follow the link below instead.  Either way, they’re a suitably faithful representation of the film.  I can’t help thinking they overdid the screaming though, just a little bit.

Recommended for police offices, serial killers and psychiatrists; and sleazy guys in general.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? At the start of the film, a young woman on a bike (Rosie) manages to stupidly crash into a guy’s car and scratch it down the side.  She’s uninjured and her bike undamaged, but he’s naturally a bit pissed about it.  However, she just calls him an asshole and cycles off, leaving him with a lot of hassle and a big repair bill.  Shortly afterwards she’s murdered by a serial killer.  I know it’s wrong and everything and I’ll probably go to Hell for it, but a little bit of me was glad.  Payback is a bitch… and badass.

The New York Ripper at IMBD (6.4 / 10)
The New York Ripper at Wikipedia
The New York Ripper (red band) trailer at YouTube


Slaughter High / When Words Resemble Monkey Sick


Slaughter High  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

There’s horror in the halls… lynching in the lunchroom…  murder in the metal shop.  Welcome to “Slaughter High”, where the students are dying to get out!  In high school, Marty was the kid all the students teased, taunted and tortured mercilessly.  One day, things went too far; one of their jokes backfired, disfiguring Marty for life.  Now, five years later, Marty has arranged a special reunion for all his high school “friends.”  The prom queen, the jock, the class clown, the rebel and a few select others have been invited… and it’s going to be a gala of gore!

1986  –  Certificate: Unrated  –  American Film
7.0 out of 10

I’m crap at everything.  However, I try very hard and surround myself with more able and talented people, which in some limited cases enables me to function in society without everyone pointing in my direction, or crossing the road when they see me coming.  Yesterday was a good case in point.  I spent all of it trying to complete a quotation (that a colleague had already done most of the work for), in response to a competitive tender document for a project to help set up a new community group, to care for the areas along the line of an old railway.   It didn’t really come with any sort of structure for what it was asking for, which means trying to do it was like trying to play a game that no one’s explained the rules to me about.  All that choice!  Vegans don’t deal with choice well; it’s typically the green salad, or chips, or nothing for us.  At about half past four I found myself staring at the words on the screen, able to read and understand them, but totally unable to work out what they meant, or how one string of them (a thing we call a sentence) related to any other.  Talk about not being able to see the wood for the trees.  Somehow I managed to complete about 98% of it, although when I proof-read it this morning most made less sense than a wall covered in a bucket full of scrabble letters and monkey sick.  There was one little bit that I had to complete by hand and I swear it looks like a six-year-old did it.  I don’t think I can write anymore; I used to have lovely handwriting too.  Sometimes I feel like life is teasing me for a laugh.  One day I’ll react like Marty in this film….

Oh dear, it’s the uncut version of a ‘forgotten classic’.  To be fair it’s probably not that obscure and it’s probably not that bad either.  It’s not boring anyway.  Here we have a group of young adults who behave in an almost entirely irrational way, an isolated location, a seriously pissed off guy harbouring a grudge… and you know the rest.  The murders are a mixed bag; I guess my favourite was the electric shock during sex, although the lawnmower one isn’t too bad either.  Did I like Marty the vengeful killer?  Well he was/is a dork, but clearly after his injury the law failed to provide him with the justice he genuinely did deserve, so in a way I can’t blame him for taking things into his own hands.  The guy had probably had a very successful and exciting career ahead of him too.  Actually, the more I think about it the more I realise that he really is the victim here.  The fact that the group that bullied him didn’t even seem to have any remorse for what they did, even though the outcome probably was an accident and unintended, just makes things worse.  What a nasty set of individuals.  Awful.  I’m glad they’re all dead now.  And another thing, the level of health & safety in the school’s science lab was woeful.  Seriously, no one would store a really large, glass bottle of nitric acid on top of a narrow, wobbly, free-standing shelf unit that itself is sitting on top of a table in the middle of a room, not even in the 80s.  And the bottle wasn’t labelled properly either.  And where were Marty’s gloves and protective goggles?  He didn’t strike me as the sort of guy who wouldn’t wear them because he didn’t look cool.  Then again, he does appear to take the time to take his Doddsville County High School jacket off in the middle of his science experiment starting to blow up all around him, so I guess his appearance did matter a lot to him, which probably explains why he got so worked up about being hideously burnt.  For that matter, why wasn’t he being supervised?  I know the school only appeared to have one teacher, who worked in the gym, but even so.  I know, I’m probably over analysing things.  Despite its intentions, the most offensive thing in the whole movie was the dreadfully racist scene involving the Black caretaker.  I image this is one of Jeremy Clarkson’s favourite movies.

Musically we’re deep into 80s low-budget territory.  Yes, very deep.

The trailer isn’t so bad, although it does manage to give away the entire plot and partly show a number of the murders too.  Then again, the plot isn’t exactly an original and you don’t get to see all of the murders.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  Surprisingly.

Top badass moment?  No one likes a bully.  And we like groups of bullies even less.  So it’s high-fives all round for Marty, as he slowly dispatches them all one by one.  Also, given the speed at which he appears to be able to get from place to place at around the school, he’s apparently invented some sort of personal teleportation device too.  That’s seriously badass; or just dreadful editing.

Slaughter High at IMDB (5.0 / 10)
Slaughter High at Wikipedia
Slaughter High trailer at YouTube


Earth Day / The Washer Dryer Has Landed


Earth Day  -  Front VD Cover  -  US Release

Welcome to Emerald City USA, where progressive ideals are held in high esteem, and when they’re not, it’s murder! One year after the Earth Day death of their leader, Pixie, a group of eco-crusaders find themselves being systematically slaughtered by an unknown assailant. The ECPD suspect one man; Hassan, who grew up in the most extreme terrorist sect in all of Pakistan, only to be expelled for embracing the forbidden art of Women’s hair care. Together with Priscilla, Pixie’s nihilistic twin sister, they strive to prove Hassan’s innocence while avoiding the clutches of Priscilla’s insanely overprotective plastic surgeon father Dr. Peever and his plastic surgery casualty of an assistant, Lenora.

2009 – Certificate: Unrated – American Film
Rating Details: Strong Violence, Nudity and Sexual Situations
6.5 out of 10

With the UN and Red Cross poised at the borders of Cactus World, ready to instigate a huge underwear (and other clothing) relief effort for the population, my new washing machine arrived just in the nick of time this week to prevent a major cholera outbreak; or at the very least a degree of embarrassment, along with dirt and body odour becoming the ‘must wear’ fashion accessories this spring in Cactus World. It was meant to have been delivered last Monday, but the idiots from Indesit only sent one guy around with it, who wasn’t allowed to try and carry it up the stairs to my flat and also wasn’t allowed to let me help him either. (I guess 70kg is pretty heavy and as I was delivering a risk assessment training course the next day, I would have felt a bit guilty if I’d made too much of a fuss.) It was especially frustrating, as Indesit had rung me up to confirm delivery and even checked if there were any stairs. What was the point of that if the information wasn’t going to be used for anything? It’s not the most interesting subject to make small talk about. So I had to wait two more days for it to be redelivered, at great, personal inconvenience. However, I’m now the proud owner of the first washing machine (or more technically correct washer dryer) I’ve ever bought. It’s an Indesit IWDC6125. (A pretty snappy name I think you’ll agree; and isn’t that video the most exciting thing you’ve watched for years?) It was the cheapest sensible washer dryer I could find and came from, surprisingly, Tesco Direct; (£325 including delivery, although it seems to have gone up £20 since I bought it.) I didn’t want a flashy one and I’ve better things to spend my money on at the moment than washing my clothes with something that wouldn’t look out-of-place on the bridge of the Enterprise. I only use three wash settings anyway. I can’t fully understand why anyone would need loads of them, or a large, full-colour LCD display to explain what the hell’s going on inside the machine. If it’s not washing or drying, what on earth would it be doing exactly? I’m a bit pissed off with Tesco though, as it claims the machine has an A Energy Rating, whereas Indesit’s own web site says it’s B. I think that’s called false advertising, bastards. Anyway, I’ve spent the last few days washing just about everything I own; (excluding things that aren’t meant to be washed in a washing machine, I’m not that dumb obviously). It seems to work great and it’s far quieter and more efficient than the old one too. It’s been so long since I had one that worked properly that I imagine I’m now experiencing the same sort of ecstasy that people in the 1940s and 1950s felt when automatic washing machines first became widely available. Say no to drugs kids, just go to the laundrette (or use a wash board) for a few months and then get a washing machine; it’s a unique sort of high. Getting rid of the old one was a bit of a challenge. It was too heavy for me to try to get down the stairs, so instead I dismantled it all and took it in bits to the dump for recycling. So inadvertently I’ve probably now become one of country’s leading experts on washing machine deconstruction too. I’m glad I’m doing my bit to save the planet, (ignoring the 21.3kWh of power I used yesterday thanks to my new washer dryer), a topic close to my heart and highlighted in this film.

This is a horror/comedy about ‘eco warriors’ so I was fully expecting it to reflect my day-to-day work, being as I’m employed by the best environmental charity on the planet. However, there wasn’t an e-mail, meeting, financial plan, or purchase to get requisitioned and authorised in sight. These people went out into the open air to do their stuff. ?? I’m pretty sure they didn’t have a four-year business plan either, although as they seem to spend most of their time sitting around smoking dope and getting drunk, they probably didn’t feel they needed one. Actually this is a much better film than it might appear at first glance. It works because it raises itself above the B-movie sludge-line and has two, very funny and well written characters in it. Plastic surgeon Dr. Peever is obscenely overacted, yet manages to give the impression of holding onto a consistent set of beliefs; whilst Hassan gets all the best lines, mainly due to his ‘calling’ as an expert in women’s hair care. The somewhat eye-watering (and reasonably original) murders and interesting body augmentation issues aside, most of the humour works most of the time, even though I suspect it’s a bit racist. Then again, it’s make fun of pretty well everyone. Worth a watch.

The soundtrack is a bit of a mish-mash of original and existing indie music. It sort of works though. Redox’s “Happy Death” is a really good track.

The trailer seems to be advertising a different cut of the film, as the balance of characters in it really doesn’t reflect the movie itself. Then again, as the DVD comes with nearly enough outtakes to replace the whole film, it probably does.

Recommended for eco warriors, plastic surgeons, police detectives, and anyone interested in products and services relating to women’s hair.

1 cat, 1 chainsaw and 2 decapitations. I can only offer my congratulations here; this is the first film I’ve watched for some considerable time that’s managed all three. The cat is sooooooo cute too.

Top badass moment? “Perhaps this town is not ready for all natural, holistic middle-eastern hair care”; so speaks the very put upon (and recently, physically enhanced) Pakistani ‘women’s hair care specialist’ Hassan, just before he drives off. I have days like that too, but don’t have quite such a cutting-edge one-liner to go with them. That’s badass.

Earth Day at IMDB (5.7 / 10)
Earth Day trailer at YouTube


Dirty Harry / Beating the Banking System


Dirty Harry  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseHarry Callahan is a tough, streetwise San Francisco cop whom they call Dirty Harry.  In this action classic, you’ll see why – and also why Clint Eastwood’s reputation as a premier film star and moviemaker is secure.  A rooftop sniper (Andy Robinson) calling himself Scorpio, has killed twice and holds the city ransom with the threat of killing again.  Harry will nail him , one way or the other, no matter what the “system” prescribes.  Filming on location, director Don Siegel made the City by the Bay a vital part of Dirty Harry, a practice continued in its four sequels.  Forty three years after its arrival the original remains one of the most gripping police thrillers ever made.

1971  –  Certificate: 18  –  American Film
7.5 out of 10

This week I’ve inadvertently become a champion and role-model for the downtrodden masses, as I successfully concluded my fight for compensation as a result of the evil and corrupt banking industry misselling me Payment Protection Insurance for a credit card.  As we all know now, every single person who’s ever worked for a bank is a child of the Devil.  From the CEO to the office cleaners.  They exist for one purpose only and that’s to rip everyone else off.  Well they made one BIG mistake trying to take me on.  After many letters, the MBNA has finally capitulated, agreed it made a ‘mistake’ and has paid me back, with interest.  I can’t decide what to spend it on first, a yacht, a jet or an Aston Martin or two.  I guess a few lines of coke and some high-class ‘escorts’ wouldn’t go amiss either.  I can finally get rid of all my pathetic, stupid, so-called friends and buy myself a whole lot of new ones that better fit my improved social status.  The rich and the powerful will invite me to everything.  A-list celebrities will be at my beck and call.  My membership of the Bilderberg Group is assured.  I’m going to start voting Conservative at once, not that I really need to worry about politics now, as I could easily buy myself a whole country if I wanted to.  So I guess you probably want to know how much I got?  Well, the cheque I was sent is made out to me for 20p…

“Dirty Harry” is a film about a naughty policeman, which was inspired by the Lurkers’ 1999 non-hit “Go Ahead Punk”.  (I’ve got this on a very limited edition 7” single in grey vinyl, number 34 of the 125 that were made.)  Its main character Harry Callahan was based on James Callaghan, who was British Prime Minister from 1976-1979 and thus oversaw the invention of punk rock by the downtrodden masses that he created during the Winter of Discontent.  “Winter of Discontent” was also a great track from Political Asylum’s Winter EP, a copy of which I was sold by the band on the Fulham Palace Road, on my way to a Lurkers gig at the Fulham Greyhound.  (The latter was tragically renamed/relaunched earlier this year as an American theme pub called the Southern Belle. WTF?)  Its historical significance aside, this film gave us the original police officer who doesn’t play by the rules but gets away with, who still haunts TV and films to this day.  Scorpio is also a great psycho without a thread of remorse whatsoever and stands up well to the more modern versions that have followed in his wake.  I doubt there’s anything else I could possibly say about this film that hasn’t already been said 100 times before, so won’t.  But for what’s now quite an old film, it still looks good.   Essential viewing.

This movie is pretty light on music, which is just as well given it was made in the early 70s.

The trailer’s very long and seems to be desperate to portray Harry as more of a victim of circumstance than a police officer who really ought to be sacked for gross misconduct at the very least.  He could easily be Martin Riggs‘ father.

Recommended for police officers, psychos and school bus drivers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Not once but twice, Harry gives us one of his two, world-famous quotes, here and here.  What other character would have the audacity to do that?  (Arnie’s done it but not twice in the same film I don’t think.)  That’s like a DJ playing the same song back-to-back, it just doesn’t happen; (unless you’re John Peel and you’re playing the Undertones, but that’s okay).  He must have been feeling lucky, punk.

Dirty Harry at IMDB (7.8 / 10)
Dirty Harry at Wikipedia
Dirty Harry at Roger Ebert (3.0/4.o)
Dirty Harry Trailer on YouTube


Fanaa / Hating Google


Fanaa  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseChoices… to choose between right or wrong is simple, but what defines one’s life is the decision between the greater of two goods or the lesser of two evils.  This is the advice that Zooni Ali Beg (Kajol) receives from her father just as she is about to venture out into the world on her own for the very first time.  Little does she know that these very words will shape her life.  Zooni, a blind Kashmiri girl, meets Rehan Qadri (Aamir Khan), a local tour guide and an incorrigible flirt. Her friends warn her against this good-for-nothing roadside Romeo, but she chooses to ignore them.  It is now her time to discover life, and love.  Is this really the right choice?  Rehan is fascinated by Zooni and wants her to see life as it should be seen, in its many colours.  He promises her that the time spent with him will be the most precious in all her life.  Zooni sees Delhi, life and love like she never has before, because of Rehan.  What Zooni doesn’t know is that Rehan has another side of his life that he has kept from her – something that can not only change her life, but can also destroy it.  Fanaa… destroyed in love…

2006  –  Certificate: 12  –  Indian Film
7.5 out of 10

I’ve had enough.  By this I mean I’ve had enough of Google, that clever little search engine that used to be run by a few fun people somewhere in California; a gang of outsiders, rebels fighting the ‘corporate system’ and using ‘new media’ to make their point.  However, Google now IS that corporate system and I’ve decided I hate it.  It’s officially become the first Spawn of the Devil of 2014.  From this point forward I won’t use its search engine, I won’t use it’s mapping system, I won’t Google anything, I won’t engage with any of its other, stupid ‘toys’ and I will never, ever, buy or use a smartphone or any other hardware that runs on Android, or anything else it invents in the future.  I despise everything it stands for.  Now, at this point you might be wondering, why?  Well, much to my disgust and with no notice whatsoever, it’s closed my YouTube account.  Even worse, its crap customer service is about as much use as a Ferrari 458 Speciale (and what a pretentious name that is) in the Somerset Levels right now.  If I get one more cheerful, automated e-mail telling me the good news that my account is fine and I just need to change my password if I can’t log in (and that’s not the problem you mindless cretins, as I’ve told you more than once), I will personally kill every cute, small puppy I come across with a version of Android’s Operating System.  I’ll become known as the Stupidly Named Food Themed Operating System Serial Puppy Killer.  Fucking Google can fucking fuck off and die, painfully.  The sooner Satya Nadella crushes this aggravating little upstart, the better.  Then we can go back to a world of Microsoft vs Apple and not worry about the slimy, data stealing evil empire that thinks giving us a few stupid pictures of our own street is payment for all its underhand and nefarious activities; which is somewhat ironically more than it pays in taxes.  It knows more about you than you do.  But don’t take my word for it, just Google (bollocks, it’s hard to get out of the habit) search for “Why Google Is Evil” on Bing.  I imagine my 600 YouTube subscribers are at this very moment planning the sort of campaign of civil disobedience that will make the Arab Spring seem like a bad day in Springfield.  I’m sorry if my rant has crashed Google’s share price but you know what?  I’m glad.  Anyone who’s invested in this dictatorship deserves what they get.

A power spike wrecked the PSU on my computer last Friday, so I’ve had to go and buy a new one and fit it, (a Corsair CX750M if anyone is interested).  It’s the 4th one my current computer’s had.  I was so distressed that I had to go sit down and watch nearly 3 hours of Bollywood style action-romance to recover.  I must confess that I’m getting to like Indian films.  The plot is nearly always sort of the same, random over-the-top song and dance routines break up whatever’s going on and bizarre bits of action suddenly populate the girl-meets-boy-loses-boy-meets-boy-again stuff.   But really, they’re a lot of fun and these days are well made technically.  Anyone that’s not watched a few really ought to try some.  In the same way that some things only become funny with repetition, films like this become entertaining once you’ve watched a few.  Probably best taken with alcohol. 

The trailer’s not bad.  Watch out for those weedy power chords that start 33 seconds in.  Reminds me of The Undertones 4th album.

The music is exactly what you’d expect.  Not saying it’s bad or anything, just that there’s nothing especially interesting about it either.  The silly ‘kid’s song’ “Chanda Chamke” is kind of sweet though.

Recommended for anyone with a visual disability, terrorists, tour guides and dancers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?   It’s a huge spoiler, but shooting and killing your husband and the father of your child that you’re totally besotted with, in the back, because he’s a terrorist and going to set off a nuclear bomb and kill millions of people, is about as badass as it gets.

And okay, I know I’ve posted a YouTube link below.  I’m just so fickle.

Fanaa at IMDB (7.2 / 10)
Fanaa at Wikipedia
Fanaa at YouTube


Demon Seed / What’s An Emergency?


Demon Seed  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseSusan Harris is alone in the house when, suddenly, doors lock, windows slam shut and the phone stops working.  Susan is trapped by an intruder… but this is no ordinary thug.  Instead, the intruder is a computer named Proteus, an artificial brain that has learned to reason.  And to terrorize.  In “one of her finest, most vulnerable performances” (Danny Peary, “Guide for the Film Fanatic”), Julie Christie plays Susan in this taut techno-thriller based on the Dean Koontz novel.  Packed with suspense, surprise and special effects, “Demon Seed” follows Susan’s desperate attempts to outmaneuver and outthink her captor.  Then Susan learns what Proteus wants: its own child, conceived in her womb and destined for domination.

1977  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Moderate sex and violence
6.0 out of 10

My wisdom tooth is getting more and more painful.  :-(  I’m waiting for an ‘emergency’ admission to have it sorted out at the hospital, but it’s been over two weeks now and there’s still no sign of an appointment.  It’s lucky I’ve not been attacked by a chainsaw wielding alien and have all my insides hanging out.  I can’t open my mouth properly so eating has become a rather frustrating experience, although to put a positive spin on it I’m now an expert in flat shaped food.  I’m also losing some weight as I just can’t be bothered with all the effort of cutting things up small enough to eat them.  I feel like I’m trying to feed some poor little baby animal that’s lost its mother in an oil spill or something.  To make matters worse, I went to see the brilliant “Imperial Leisure” last Friday and now have a horrible cold too; and yes, it’s the worst cold anyone’s ever had ever.  I don’t think I’m long for this world…

This is a film about a randy computer that’s got a crush on Julie Christie.  Julie meanwhile has just been dumped by her husband Alex.  Why, for goodness sake?  He’s married to Julie Christie, animal rights campaigner and star of the 1967 version of “Far from the Madding Crowd”.  What was he thinking?  (Although to be fair, her character does come across as about as interesting as amateur golf.)  The irony in all this being, he’s more interested in developing his new computer, Proteus IV, than bothering with her anymore.  And of course it’s Proteus that turns out to have the libido issue.  Ha, what an idiot.  He actually designed and built his own competitor.  For a supposedly intelligent man, that’s an awe inspiringly stupid thing to do.  Even I’ve never managed anything on quite that level.  So leaving her alone in the house, (which in a nod to the future of home automation, Proteus seems to run), the latter tries wooing her.  Now I have a theory about things here.  I personally feel she had the hots for Proteus too.  Being a 70s mainframe computer with remote terminals, the best Proteus can do in terms of shaking his ass, is control a wheelchair with a mechanical arm attached to it.  With this he chases Julie around the house, before catching her and tying her down to a table in the lab in the basement, so he can have kinky sex with her.  (I’ll come onto that bit in a minute.)  So there’s Julie, a fit woman in her own home, a large detached house.  She really couldn’t escape?  Really?  She couldn’t outrun a remote control wheelchair?  Sadly the plot holes are gigantic; she could easily have simply climbed through one and escaped.  We never do get to see how the wheelchair manages to get up and down the stairs either, but anyway, back to the kinky sex.  So, there’s Proteus, the bondage obsessed, dirty old man computer, who’s got the mechanical arm to tie the charming Julie tied down with a few bits of cable, whispering sweet nothings to her about showing her stuff no human’s ever seen before.  (The mind boggles.)  In her defence, after all that flirting with the wheelchair, Julie does seem to realise that things have gone a bit far and perhaps taking a shower in full view of one of Proteus’s camera wasn’t the best thing to have done.  (There really wasn’t anything wrong with her ass either, so don’t tell me all the messing about with it in the bathroom was for any reason other than to access Proteus’s hard drive.)  Anyway, I don’t want to spoil the good stuff, but Julie gets pregnant, just in time for her estranged husband to return and fight what looks suspiciously like a giant D20 “Dungeons and Dragons” dice.  “Demon Seed” is a sci-fi movie, so obviously it’s also got a laser in it and a geeky guy who works in a lab too.  Shortly after this film was released “Star Wars” came along and sci-fi was never the same again.  The End.

Sounding exactly like it’s escaped from a bad, 50s B-Movie, the soundtrack is somehow everything you’d want and then some.

Pompous and faintly ridiculous, the trailer is a great example of how serious science fiction films’ trailers used to be; before “Star Wars”.

Recommended for computer scientists, home automation fanatics and anyone who ‘likes’ their PC/laptop/smartphone just a little too much.

1 decapitation, no cats or chainsaws.  The Dungeons & Dragons dice somehow manages to cut someone’s head off.  Weird.

Top badass moment?  Proteus is one sick puppy.  Nevertheless, he’s also charming, highly intelligent, virile and (I’d imagine) pretty well off too.  In many ways he wouldn’t be a bad catch for someone like Julie Christie.  So I guess the kinky sex just wasn’t for her.  Having a partner that’s not what others expect him/her (or it) to be, is definitely badass.

Demon Seed at IMDB (6.3/ 10)
Demon Seed at Wikipedia
Demon Seed Trailer


Side Effects / The Dentist: Part 3


Side Effects  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseEmily (Rooney Mara “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) and Martin (Channing Tatum “The Vow”) are a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily’s psychiatrist (Jude Law “Sherlock Holmes”) intended to treat anxiety, has unexpected and dangerous side effects.  From director Steven Soderbergh (“Contagion”, “Ocean’s Eleven”, “Ocean’s Twelve”, “Ocean’s Thirteen”) comes a riveting psychological thriller where neither the symptoms nor the cure are quite as straightforward as they seem.

2013  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong language, sex and violence
7.0 out of 10

Despite its capacity to bring good news, joy and happiness, the word “no” generally feels pretty negative.  So hearing a dentist mutter it twice whilst prodding and poking around in your mouth is not something that often generates a smile.  (Then again, when you’ve got a mouthful of torture devices masquerading as dental equipment, there isn’t actually an especially wide range of facial expressions at your disposal.)  My third 90 minute appointment this month bought me these two highlights, along with a comment at the end that she’d managed to get a few a millimetres further but the blockage was still there.  An hour and a half for that?  It’s not the London Crosslink rail tunnel; although all the talk of drilling, canals, bridges and crowns does put me in mind of a major, civil engineering project.  The only thing that kept me going we the fact that this was the last part of my own, personal, dental horror trilogy, (which itself was an expansion of the two-parter that had originally been planned).  Unfortunately, the news at the end was not good.  A fourth instalment is now required and ‘filming’ takes place in April, once the spin-off “The Dentist: Sore Wisdom Tooth” has wrapped. I still haven’t got the date for my trip to hospital to have the latter dealt with, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the most massively inconvenient one possible.

In the UK, you go to see your doctor and sometimes he or she gives you a prescription for some drugs.  You go to the chemist and he or she gives them to you.  You take them and hopefully feel better.  The end.  I don’t know anyone who has any sort of discussion about what brand of drug they want.  I guess it happens sometimes, but not very often.  They don’t get advertised on TV and I’d hazard a guess and say most people have no idea what make of drugs they’re taking or even if it stays the same between prescriptions.  Not so in America, where drug companies widely advertise their products and patents frequently tell their doctors what brand of drugs they want, presumably based on which has the best advertising on TV.  A movie like “Side Effects” simply wouldn’t make sense if it was set in the UK.  This film has more twists that you get in a big bag of that twisty-shaped pasta that’s always cheaper than any other shape of pasta.  (And why does the shape make such as huge difference to the price?  It’s feels like you’re charged a premium if it’s an easier shape to get onto a fork.)  It’s not a bad movie, as long as you concentrate, give its plot a bit of latitude and forgive its sometime dubious portrayal of same-sex relationships and mental health.  Jude Law and Rooney Mara are both great.  I guess if I wasn’t wracked with tooth inflicted agony and befuddled by antibiotics and pain-killing drugs (and no I’ve no idea what brand they are), I’d have got more out of it.

There’s a lot of music in this film.  None of it is especially memorable, but it’s there, in the background, most of the time.  A bit like weather.

Trailers for thrillers are often quite frustrating.  They want to encourage you to see the film, yet don’t want to give away the plot.  I guess it’s a bit like reading a book without looking at the words.  This is a good example.

Recommended for psychiatrists, lesbians, inside traders, drug pushers and conspiracy theorists.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  You have to give Jude Law a bit of respect.  When the going gets tough he digs in and keeps going.  Bloody mindedness is always badass; and bloody annoying to everyone else too.

Side Effects at IMDB (7.1 / 10)
Side Effects at Wikipedia
Side Effects at Roger Ebert (3.5 / 5)
Side Effects trailer at YouTube


The Fish Child / The Dentist: Part 1


The Fish Child  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseLala, (Inés Efrón) a teenager from the most exclusive suburban neighbourhood in Argentina, is in love with the Guayi, the 20-year-old Paraguayan maid working at her mansion.  The pair hatch a plan to rob Lala’s family to fund their dream of living together in Paraguay, but while Lala waits to be reunited with her lover, she is detained in a prison in the outskirts of Buenos Aires for a crime she committed long ago.  Desperate to be with her girlfriend, Lala devises a dangerous rescue plan to get her back.  Boasting beautiful cinematography and electrifying performances from its two female leads, celebrated Argentine director Lucía Puenzo (“XXY”) returns with a gripping tale of forbidden lesbian romance and a crime heist gone awry.

2009 –  Certificate 15  –  Argentinean Film
Rating Details: Strong sex
7.0 out of 10

I spent well over an hour at the dentist last week, whilst she explored the inside of my sore tooth.  Given all the sawing and drilling that went on I was expecting to be presented with the oral equivalent of a handmade chest of draws, but all I’ve got out of it is a bill for £100, no reduction in the agony I’m feeling and an extra visit to go back a third time for more treatment on the same tooth.  Four hours or so?  What’s she up to in there?  Rebuilding my entire mouth at the molecular level?  Not only this, but my sore tooth has made a friend, another tooth that thinks it’s hilariously funny to give me pain and misery.  So now I’ve also got a wisdom tooth that needs removing in a completely different place in my mouth.  My dentist got one of her colleagues to come have a look at it.  Once he’d finished with the paramedics that came after he’d fainted from horror at the sight of it, he did make a remarkable effort to appear blasé about things, but suggested that he couldn’t deal with either and I really ought to have it removed at hospital.  Why don’t they just cut out the middle man and sent me to see an undertaker?  My tooth is clearly that bad.  I’m starting to forget a time when I didn’t have excruciating agony and was able to open my mouth properly.  Gosh, it’s lucky I’m not the sort of person that makes a big song and dance about things.  This is going to cost me an arm and a leg to get sorted out too, although ironically, the limb replacements I’ll then need I can get on the NHS for free.  The next American who suggests that Brits have bad teeth will need a visit to the dentist himself soon after.  I’m glad to say this film has no teeth-focussed scenes whatsoever.

I’m pretty sure there’s a great movie in here somewhere, trying to get out.  Trouble is, it got a bit buried under the non-linear timeline and suffered at the hands of my presently reduced mental capacity; (which sadly is more tooth-ache than alcohol related).  At its heart this is an out-and-out romance, which collides with a crime thriller in a less than satisfying way.  Oh, there’s also something about a legend regarding the Fish Child that swims around in a lake near a tree.  I imagine there’s some analogy between the latter and the characters or the plot, but in my painkiller induced drug high I did struggle a bit with everything.  It doesn’t provide an especially glowing reference for Argentinian parenting either.  Visually it’s a nice looking film with an intense feel and the two lead actresses are both talented and attractive, although in quite different ways.  Unfortunately it’s all a bit of a confused muddle at times, although it does gradually sort itself out a bit.  I probably ought to watch it again; I think I’ll get a lot more out of it the second time around.

There was one especially jarring and frightening scene with what I can only imagine is South America’s version of One Direction, (which can be seen for a brief moment in the trailer), but overall the soundtrack is pretty good.

The trailer tells you as much about the film plot as watching the whole movie will; i.e. not a lot.

Recommended for housekeepers, messed up families, lesbians, dog trainers and vets.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A big black cat plays dead as it’s rudely removed from the vet’s operating table so he can deal with someone with a gunshot wound.  Oi!  Get you’re priorities sorted out mate!

Top badass moment?  Lala goes in search of her lover, who’s been ‘rented’ from the local prison by a powerful ‘businessman’ for his own ‘entertainment’.  His house is protected by dogs and  armed guards, but that doesn’t stop her.  Love is blind and all that, but deliberately walking into a ‘situation’ that you clearly have no way of getting out off (unless you’re Batman) is quite obviously top grade badass.  (Note to self:  why all the inverted commas all of a sudden?  What’s wrong with you?)

The Fish Child at IMDB (5.9 / 10)
The Fish Child at Wikipedia
The Fish Child Trailer at YouTube


Gattaca / How a Washing Machine Can Start a Nuclear War


Gattaca  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  German ReleaseIn der nahen High-Tech-Zukunft entscheidet ein Gentest gleich nach der Geburt über das Schicksal der Kinder. Futuristische Biochemie macht es möglich, dass fast alle Eltern sportliche, hochintelligente Superbabies zur Welt bringen.  Vincent aber hat Pech gehabt.  Wegen seiner körperlichen Schwächen wird er nie zur Elite gehören.  Doch er träumt davon, als Gattaca-Pilot die Galaxis zu erforschen. Vincents Freund Jerome hat beste Gene, ein Unfall hat ihn allerdings an den Rollstuhl gefesselt.  Beide tauschen ihre Identität.  Ein äußerst riskanter Plan, denn die strengen Sicherheitskontrollen des perfekt organisierten Polizeistaates sind kaum zu umgehen. Bald hat Vincent die Geheimdienste auf den Fersen …  Ein spannender sci-fi thriller mit beängstigendem Zukunftsszenario.  Ethan Hawke (“Reality Bites”) und Uma Thurman (“Batman & Robin”, “Pulp Fiction”) in einem brandgefährlichen Spiel, das durchaus wahr werden könnte.  (It’s called German.  I’ve got a German copy of the film.)

1997  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
8.5 out of 10

My washing machine broke down on Christmas Eve.  Well more accurately, it still washes things but it won’t dry them.  Using my amazing engineering skills, I’ve worked out that it’s either a broken thermostat or something to do with the fan.  Unfortunately I can’t be sure, as my skills don’t extend to having the special sort of screwdriver that appears to be needed to open the case where the fan lives.  I think I can hear it spinning but I can’t see the end of the spindle turning, which is a bit confusing.  Few things piss me off more than technology breaking and companies producing things which require a special bit of information (that they make it very hard to find out), or a special tool to fix.  So as you might imagine, this little occurrence has made me incandescent with fury.  The fact it happened at the most inconvenient possible moment of the year has just made things worse.  Really, it’s just as well I’m not the one with ‘my finger on the button’.

In the near future, parents will be able to create a ‘designer baby’ for themselves.  These “Valids” will go on to get all the best jobs, whilst the rest of us do the crappy stuff.  I know this to be true, because even Ernest Borgnine could only get a job as an office cleaner in “Gattaca”, yet a few years ago he was one of the crew of “Airwolf”, the most advanced helicopter ever built.  (It had a good theme tune too.)  Our hero Vincent wants to go into space, but sadly he’s one of the “Invalids”, the rubbish people who got born the normal way.  So starts his quest to beat the system.  I’ve seen a lot of good films over the past month or so and this is yet another.  Within its ‘hard’ sci-fi setting and 1984 overtones, this is a thriller with a great “will he or won’t he make it” right up to the end.  With its murder-crime subplot and some entirely superfluous love interest provided by Uma Thurman, we get to watch Vincent and his mate collecting bottles of blood, hair and other bits of discarded body from the latter; (mainly skin and stuff, we’re not talking about anything too Frankenstein-like here).  It’s a while since I saw a film with so much urine in it too, although to be fair it’s generally all contained in bags or plastic beakers; they’re a bit obsessed with testing at Gattaca.  (It’s the name of the company that does the space launches.)  Things don’t quite go to plan, (even more so if you watch the deleted scenes), someone gets murdered, the police investigate.  It’s just the sort of shit you don’t want to have to put up with when you’re about to diddle your way onto the first manned flight to Titan.  The final scene is really quite powerful and it’s a “proper good film” as they might say up North.

With a great film should come great music and we’re not disappointed here.  A full orchestral score, it’s not used a lot, but when it is things get taken to an extra level.  As an interesting side point, there’s a scene where we see a 12 fingered pianist playing a bit of music that’s actually meant to be impossible for one person to play; (Schubert’s Impromptu No. 3 in G flat Major, with some extra bits).  I find that strangely cool.

I’m not especially keen on this trailer.  It’s sort of okay, but it doesn’t really get across the feel of the film.

Recommended for astronauts, police detectives and the genetically pure.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It has to be the impossible to play piano performance.  As someone who can barely manage to play “English Country Garden” on the piano with two fingers, am I the only one who finds that whole idea strangely arousing?  Oh, right.  Okay then…  I think I’ve just discovered a new kind of porn.  (Well actually no, as Google gives nearly 52,000 results for “piano porn”.)  Now that really is very weird.

Gattaca at IMDB (7.8 / 10)
Gattaca at Wikipedia
Gattaca At Roger Ebert (3.5 / 5)
Gattaca at YouTube


The Silence / Learning the Guitar


The Silence  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseOn a hot summer day, a bicycle is found in a wheat field, and, nearby, the body of a young girl.  The killer is never found. 23 years later.  Same date.  Same place.  Another bicycle.  Another girl.  This time round, an ageing detective convinced that history is repeating itself, comes out of retirement determined to track down the perpetrator with the help of his young colleague.  Spanning a week in the investigation, both of them will begin a journey that will see intact worlds shatter apart.  A striking debut, The Silence is based on an award-winning novel and follows European crime thrillers such as “The Killing” and “Wallander” as it delves into the psyche of detectives and criminals to deliver a chilling story of murder and betrayal.

2010  –  Certificate 15  –  German Film
Strong language and sexual violence
8.5 out of 10

I’ve got sore fingers.  Fed up with my existing career options, I’ve decided to take advantage of the Christmas week and learn how to play the guitar.  Once I’ve done this I’ll become a rock star.  I’ve got plenty of social grievances and failed love affairs to write about, so it ought to be pretty easy to do once I’ve managed to learn a chord.  Posters of me in seductive, semi-naked poses will soon be starring down from the walls of countless, teenage girls’ bedrooms up and down the country.  Justin Bieber will just have to piss off down the dole office where he belongs.   My guitar is a rather nice, left-handed Westbury Standard, a model that was made for a few years around 1980 and bought for me by one of those aforementioned failed lover affairs.  Despite my cack-handed abuse of it, it rarely goes out of tune and I’ve yet to break a string, even though my playing has all the subtlety of Freddy Kruger in a maternity ward.  But how hard can it be?  Look at all the stupid people who seem to have managed.  Sadly, I apparently have hands like a horse’s hooves when it comes to playing.  Why does it need so many strings and why are they so close together?  Stupid design.  I thought it would only take a few hours, but apparently it takes longer than that….  I’m not a happy bunny.

This is a film with no happy characters in it; at all.  No one comes out of it well.  Everyone ends up more fucked up than they were to start with.  No, it’s not a documentary about real life, but a German movie about two paedophiles and the police investigation to apprehend them.  I’m personally not a big fan of crime films.  All that Sherlock Homes, Poirot, Scooby Doo stuff, where at the end everyone’s in a room and all the details get blurted out.  Yawn…  Fortunately this is a lot better.  What actually makes it so good is the way it gets inside everyone’s head and exposes all the guilt within; the police, the victims’ families, the perpetrators, the perpetrators’ families.  It’s a real lose-lose story.  I found it hard at times not to feel sorry for everyone, even the ‘baddies’ in their own, screwed up way.  I was also struck by just how scruffy, undisciplined and a bit mad all the German police seemed to be.  At times the feel of the film reminded me of the French horror “7 Days”, although that’s even darker.  Overall this is very close to being a genuinely great film.  Only it’s slightly frustrating habit of introducing ideas that it then doesn’t really do anything with, let’s it down.

The music used in this film is fine and works well.

Considering this is a trailer with no words it actually not bad.  I’m not sure it tells a great deal about the film’s plot, although it does a decent job of getting the atmosphere across.

Recommended for the police, caretakers and architects.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Everyone is so miserable and wracked with guilt that it’s difficult to find anything worthy of being considered badass.  I guess the weather was nice most of the time; lovely warm, sunny days.  Summer is badass.  Winter is just crap; short days, cold, damp and wet.  Yuk.

The Silence at IMDB (6.8 / 10)
The Silence at Wikipedia
The Silence at Roger Ebert (3.5  / 5)
The Silence at YouTube


Ring / Party!


Ring  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseAfter the death of her cousin Tomoko, reporter Reiko hears stories of a videotape that kills everyone who sees it exactly one week after viewing.  At first she discounts the rumours, but when she learns that Tomoko’s friend (who watched the video with her) died at exactly the same time, she begins to investigate.  After viewing the tape herself, strange things start happening and so she teams up with her ex-husband to try to stop the death clock that has once again begun ticking.

1998  –  Certificate: 15  –  Japanese film
6.0 out of 10

Despite being an antisocial loser and having no friends, I recently found myself in possession of a birthday party invitation.  Stress!  For a start, how does one present one’s self for such a social gathering these days?  Formal?  Casual but smart?  Street smart?  Metrosexual urbanite?  And as for presents; that’s a total, social minefield.  Still, not wanting to waste this once-in-ten-year opportunity to ‘have-a-good-time’ and ‘meet people’, last Saturday found me sitting in the sun in a garden in west London, twerking to ska-punk and reminiscing how when I was 13 I used to know be able to identify every car on the road and every plane in the sky; (a party animal, I know).  I also learnt loads about what it’s like to control one of those massive cranes that you see on building sites; met a really famous drummer, (I think it was either Charlie Watts or Tré Cool, but I’m not sure now); knocked a can of cider on the kitchen floor and starred somewhat dumbly at the mess as someone else cleaned it up; drunk an inappropriate mixture of drinks that included cider, port, Buckfast, Midori, vodka and some Lithuanian spirit that tasted a lot like medicine; had a long conversation about Syria; ate some peanuts and samosas, (which were very nice) and talked to someone who’s getting married in six weeks.  I probably bored a lot of other people too, but I can’t actually remember much else, but I imagine I wasn’t very interesting or coherent and spoke mostly drunkanise.  Finally I left and forgetting that when I’d learnt which way to turn to take me to the train station (which was a two-minute walk away) I’d had the map upside-down, went totally the other way, took two buses and ended up wandering around the empty corridors of Heathrow Airport all night, like an extra from a zombie apocalypse film, before finally getting an entirely empty coach back to Reading at five in the morning; (well it had a driver in it, and me, obviously).  I don’t suppose I’ll get another invite to a party anytime soon, but I was glad to have this opportunity to reconfirm that I have no social skills and really shouldn’t drink more than a pint of shandy.  And it took me over two days to recover too.  Frightening stuff.

This film has a fearsome reputation for being really, really scary.  It’s not really.  Well a couple of times it was but mostly it wasn’t.  It’s more creepy than anything else.  The anticipation that something was about to be scary was often more scary than what actually happened; a bit like crossing a busy road.  I suppose if you get off on a certain kind of Japanese ghost horror then you’d be more likely to have an underwear malfunction, but not otherwise.  The plot’s got something to do with a cursed video and a woman in a well.  In many ways it’s as much a whodunit thriller as a horror.  If a similar sort of thing happened today, it would end up on YouTube and probably wipe out most of the Earth’s population.  Given its video-based story, it hasn’t aged well.  Having said all that, it’s actually quite watchable.  I guess I just found it a bit of a disappointment after all the hype.

There isn’t a great deal of music in this movie and what there is sounded like it came straight off of “Now That’s What I Call Horror Film Music, Volume 34”.  The theme tune (used at the end of the film and on the trailer) is pretty horrific, but not it a good way.

Recommended for vindictive ghosts, journalists and ex-husbands.  It’s probably a real nightmare if you’re involved in the manufacture of videos or DVDs, etc; I can imagine something like this would really take the bottom out of the market.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  I just can’t think of one.  Had too much to drink at the party.

Ring at IMDB (7.3 / 10)

Ring at Wikipedia


Freeze Frame / Pavement Wars


Freeze Frame  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseSean Veil (Lee Evans) is an ultra-paranoid murder suspect who films himself around the clock to provide an alibi, in case he’s ever accused of another crime.  When the police come calling to investigate a new murder, the one tape that can prove his innocence has mysteriously disappeared.  Past and present collide as Sean strives to prove his innocence of this and all the other crimes that have been laid at his door.  But the accusations and the tension mount and just when Sean thinks it’s all over, an unexpected twist finds him fighting for his life…

2004  –  Certificate: 15  –  UK/Irish Film
Rating Details: Strong violence and language
8.0 out of 10

A couple of months ago I started walking into work again, rather than driving.  Regularly walking the 2.4 miles each way has turned me into a hyper-fit super-being, but it’s not without its drawbacks.  Today I’d like to briefly consider the concept of Pavement Wars.  My journey includes a significant section along the Oxford Road in west Reading, where I find myself walking ‘against the tide’, as most people are going in the other direction and into town.  I’m used to the barbaric anarchy of rush-hour on the Tube, where a fallen body is considered nothing more than an annoying trip hazard; but I thought out on the open road (well pavement) of the Home Counties, things would be a little different.  I thought people would lift their hats in polite greetings as they passed one another, whilst exchanging a few words of small talk, about the weather or cricket scores perhaps?  Sadly it’s more like a pedestrianised version of Carmageddon, with the sort of manoeuvring that would lose a driver his or her license in a moment.  Seriously, it’s like a war zone out there and I’m not winning.  I’ve lost count of the number of time I’ve been forced into walls, bollards and the road, in an effort not to get mowed down by others’ irresponsible walking.  But this guy is fighting back!  Last Thursday, my path was blocked by two women coming in the other direction.  Any decent human being, when walking next to a friend, would make sure they got out of the way if someone was coming in the opposite direction and the two of them were totally occupying the path.  But not these two.  And they both saw me coming along, I’m quite sure of that.  Did they expect me to step out into the road to let them pass, even though I had my back to the traffic?  Was I the innocent victim of bitchy office politics, which meant nether of them wanted to walk behind the other, in case this more submissive stance might have some bearing on an inter-departmental power-struggle?  Perhaps my “Do You Like Waffles?” t-shirt wasn’t scary enough?  Or were they just inconsiderate, stupid, thoughtless, brain-dead bimbos?  Who knows?  Whatever, this time there was going to be no hanging about waiting between the bollards for them to pass.  I braced myself for the inevitable impact, which happened just about here.  As we passed my arm briefly collided with the tall blonde’s.  I suppose with hindsight it was probably the most exciting sexual caress she’s had for ages, but to me it meant only one thing; at last, I was a true Pavement Warrior!  No longer will I cower in shop entrances, between bollards, behind bins or pavement furniture.  Reading take note; there’s a new kid on the block, a new kid who’s no longer gonna be pushed around by people who think the sidewalk owes them a living.  I’m ready for war.  Are they?  Given all that, it’s a shame I’m not about to consider a viewing of “Mad Max”.

In a thriller with more twists than a shop full of Curly Wurly bars (or an avenue of Corkscrew Willow if you prefer), comedian Lee Evans convincingly portrays a paranoid and socially inept guy (Sean) who films his every waking (and sleeping) moment.  Fortunately, we’re spared most of the more ‘intimate’ moments of his life, but  it does make for an original and interesting, although somewhat convoluted movie.  I’m a bit stupid so I’m pretty sure I didn’t manage to follow everything, but it was still a really good watch; (despite the overuse of blue filters and a tiny, non-anamorphic 2.35:1 picture).  So this probably means it’ll be a good watch next time too, as I still won’t know what’s going on; being an idiot does have its advantages.  I did feel sorry for Sean; putting up with dodgy TV reporters, useless and greedy psychologists, a whole population that thought he was a triple murderer and cops that ‘cross the line’, is enough to send anyone a bit round the bend.  The amount of plot twists in the last ten minutes are likely to send most viewers a bit round the bend too.  His ‘underground house’ was interesting though.

The soundtrack is exactly that.  There’re no dumb pop records put into the film to enable some sort of “as featured in” soundtrack to be released.  It’s just decent music added into scenes to make them better in that way that only music can.

Recommended for police detectives, the paranoid, the tabloid press, everyone who hates CCTV and any innocents who’ve ever been accused of murder.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitation.

Top badass moment?  In a film full of twists and turns, the fact that Sean managed to keep himself together enough to do what he needed to do, qualifies as badass.

Freeze Frame at IMDB (6.3 / 10)

Freeze Frame at Wikipedia


Death Wish 4: The Crackdown / Soft Drink Shortage Hits Cactus World


Death Wish 4: The Crackdown  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseThe streets are filled with death and destruction.  Ruthless drug traffickers prey upon the poor, the lonely, the helpless.  LA is a city desperate for deliverance… until now!  Charles Bronson returns as Paul Kersey, the original urban vigilante and one-man demolition force in this pulse-pounding, take-no-prisoners thriller!  Two rival drug gangs have a death-grip on LA’s battle-torn inner city.  But their brutal reign of terror is about to come to a violent end.  One man is out to avenge the cocaine-induced death of his girlfriend’s teenage daughter.  His name is Paul Kersey – and he’s armed, dangerous… and mad as hell!

1987  –  Certificate: R  –  American Film
6.0 out of 10

The unseasonal run of warm days we’ve been having recently has put an unprecedented strain on reserves of cold drinks in Cactus World.  In fact I’ve run out of normal soft drinks and the things I only drink in an emergency, like bitter lemon and ginger ale, have been in the fridge so long they’ve all frozen solid.  I tried opening one this afternoon, but so much pressure had built up in the bottle that the contents started to explode everywhere; in fact I read this evening that earlier today America had briefly gone to DEFCON 1, as some military satellite had mistaken my attempts to get something cold to drink as a ballistic missile launch.  I think it’s all okay now though.  Fortunately, I also found some old bottles of Bacardi Breezer (Pineapple) in the back of the fridge that the alcohol had stopped from freezing.  It tasted okay(ish), considering it was two years past its Best Before date.  I also have to report the good news that the far worse scenario of there being a shortage of cold, alcoholic drinks, is not presently a concern.

Before we had mega-budget screen superheroes and nutters like Martin Riggs cleaning up urban scum, we had Paul Kersey.  The original street-level vigilante, here’s a chap who reluctantly goes off on his own and sorts out bad guys.  In many ways he’s a lot like Batman, a tortured soul who’s lost the ones he cares for most; except he’s not especially fit and strong, isn’t a billionaire and doesn’t have a flash car, cave, computer, utility belt or butler.  Then again, he does use guns and he hasn’t got an annoying sidekick either.  Last time we saw him, he was busy helping disadvantaged communities in New York become more resilient.  This time he’s back in America’s other city, Los Angeles, sorting out corrupt police and drug barons; you know, the usual stuff architects deal with.  Scarcely have I recovered from seeing Lieutenant Commander Chakotay turn up in “Night of the Comet” when along comes Lieutenant Commander Tuvok in “Death Wish 4”.  Clearly working under cover for Starfleet in some sort of time-travel paradox, he inadvertently gives some drugs to some dumb bimbo, who promptly kills herself with them.  She just happens to be the daughter of Charles Bronson’s latest love interest too.  In another interesting parallel with “Star Trek” I would say it was at least as deadly being a friend of Paul Kersey, as it is wearing a red shirt as a member of a landing party.  There’ve been five Death Wish films and nearly all of his ‘nearest and dearest’ have ended up being raped and/or murdered.  You do see Bronson take out Tuvok’s car with a grenade in an underground garage, but I’m pretty sure I saw him being beamed out just before it exploded.  Tuvok could’ve easily stunned them all with his phaser, but he probably didn’t want to contaminate the time-line or such like.  I watched the hardcore, uncut version, not the old, UK cut one with its missing 54 seconds.  Because of that I’d have probably turned into a serial killer by now, if it wasn’t for the fact that it was also a pan and scan version too, so half of it was missing.  I hate it when they do that.  It was mono as well.

There’s not a great deal of music in this movie and what there is has a tendency to sound like a reject from The Terminator.  The theme music is horrible though; some nasty saxophone-heavy garbage that sounds like it escaped from an obscure, 70s porn VHS.

Recommend for architects, vigilantes, would-be superheroes and anyone who might make friends with Paul Kersey.  And a warning to the latter; DON’T DO IT!

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  However, someone does sort of explode into nothing after having a grenade fired into him.  And you thought The Terminator came up with that one first?

Top badass moment?  Dumb question. Charles Bronson IS badass.  And when someone asks, “who the fuck are you?” and you simply reply (after a tension building pause), “death”, that’s badass too.  And keeping a M203 grenade launcher attached to a M16 assault rifle in a cupboard behind your fridge is badass too.

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown at IMDB (4.8 /10)

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown at Wikipedia


Shooting Vegetarians / Vegans Top the Food Chain


Shooting Vegetarians  -  Front DVD Cover (US Release)Neil (Guillermo Diaz) has been a vegetarian for one thousand two hundred and sixty-three days.  He and his girlfriend Daisy like to spend their days skateboarding, drinking organic coffee, and driving around talking about the state of the world.  Their idyllic existence is shattered when Neil’s father, Vic, reveals his grand plan for Neil to become a third generation butcher and work with him in the Father and Son butcher shop.  With no job to support himself and nowhere else to live, Neil is left with little choice but to report to work with his father.  Faced with the bloody reality of slabs of dead meat, Neil runs screaming from the shop, and keeps running and running and running, until he ends up in a deserted skateboard park.  There he has a visionary encounter with a Chicken Man, who kicks his ass and shows him how hypocritical his pseudo-political lifestyle has been.  With the Chicken Man’s inspirational words ringing in his head, “You know what you are supposed to do,” Neil returns to his life with a mission to change the world.

2005  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  American Film
6.5 out of 10

As we all know, vegans are inherently more intelligent and all-around better than anyone else.  We also know that we’ll eventually inherit the Earth too; (I’m afraid the meek will just have to piss off down the job centre and look for something else to do).  True, it will probably resemble the inside of a Chinese takeaway’s wheelie bin by then, but it’s the principle that’s important here.  We look upon mere vegetarians as uneducated children, people with the potential to become civilised, but who have many dark sides to overcome and quests they need to undertake, before they attain true enlightenment.  Yes, I know there’re a lot more vegetarians about than vegans but really, they’re a bit like the Lib Dems, no one takes them seriously do they?  One pizza or the whiff of bacon cooking and they’re slobbering like a St. Bernard, apologising for their dietary ‘aberration’, in an attempt to appease their cannibalistic, meat-eating friends, in case the latter get offended.  If a vegan walks into a room, people take notice; think The Terminator.  (That’s probably not the best analogy, but it’s all I can come up with right now.)  When I walk into a room, people make their excuses and leave.  If I spot a non-vegan woman who I feel shows ‘potential’ and I explain to her that as a vegan we can’t actually breed as we’re basically different species so it’s okay for us to ‘do stuff’ together, she will inevitably make her excuses and leave too.  I guess the offer is just too awesome and mind-blowing for them to cope with.   I can appreciate that viewpoint; I have each and every one of the 453 times it’s happened.  This film is about a mere vegetarian.  One who realises that trying to negotiate your enemy into surrender isn’t always possible.

A lot of the time there’s not much really going on in this drama/comedy/horror; the characters mostly sit around and talk about uninteresting stuff.  In fact it’s so bad, Neil even speaks directly to the viewers, to give us some insight into what he’s thinking.  There aren’t a lot of films like that.  There aren’t a lot of films without a trailer either, but I think this might be one of them.  Actually, I think Neil is probably a sociopath; he really doesn’t seem to care a lot about those around him, even his family, girlfriend and best mate.  He looks like he does but really, it’s all for show.  A typical, serial killer personality trait.  I personally blame it on all the milk and cheese he probably eats.  I suspect there’s a tendency for all vegetarians to be that way inclined; can eat this, can’t eat that, I’m a lacto-ovo-talkbollocksaboutfoodo vegetarian so I can basically decide what I eat depending on what mood I’m in, etc.  It’s so complicated, no wonder it messes with their heads.  All that angst and guilt about everything.  Even the word vegetarian is (if you’ll excuse the pun) a mouthful; does it really need five syllables?  And vegetarianism?  That’s seven.  By the time you’ve explained what you are to someone and what you can and can’t eat, you’ll have starved to death.  No wonder they’re all so thin.  Look what happened to Robocop in “Robocop 2” when he had too many Prime Directives to deal with.  They should all just be vegan, it’s a whole lot simpler; if you like it you can’t eat it. Even I can understand that.  Oh the film? Actually it’s not bad at all; I’ve probably made it sound worse than it is.

The film sports a great soundtrack made up of songs by numerous and mostly obscure punk rock bands.  It’s good.

Recommended for vegetarians, skateboarders, coffee shop workers and punks.  Not recommend for butchers or pet shop store owners.

One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  There’s a cute cat on a cushion in a pet shop, which does have to do a bit of acting.  Stretching your paws out take real timing and effort to look good.

Top badass moment?  In the most poorly hidden plot development of the century (especially as I’m about to blab it now), vegetarian Neil kills his butcher father and feeds him to the customers.  Sorry, but that automatically qualifies as badass, regardless of the moral implications.

Shooting Vegetarians at IMDB (6.4 / 10)


Hot Fuzz / English as a First Language (and 2nd, 3rd, 4th…)


Hot Fuzz  -  Front DVD Cover (UK Release)When top London cop, PC Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), is reassigned to the quiet town of Sandford, he struggles with his seemingly crime-free world… and oafish partner Danny (Nick Frost).  When several grisly accidents rock the village, it’s not long before Danny’s dreams of explosive, high-octane, car-chasing, gun fighting, all-out action become reality!  It’s time for these small-town cops to hand out big-city justice!

2007  –  Certificate: 15  –  UK Film
Rating Details:  Very strong language and strong comic bloody violence
9.0 out of 10

I went to the local chemists yesterday.  To get there I had to walk up a steep hill.  As I was doing so, I passed a young guy (I guess he was about 13) having a conversation in the street with a friend.  (I say conversation; they were actually shouting at one another across the road and into an adjacent playground.  Maybe it was just a new type of cheap, limited range not-very-smart phone they were trying out; who knows?)  So anyway, I got to hear quite a long exchange between them, as I staggered, wheezing, red-faced and exhausted, up the near precipice I was attempting to climb.  Maybe my physically overtaxed body was to blame, but I could barely decipher a word of what they were shouting to one another, despite the fact that I think they were speaking English.  Today I went to a meeting in Redhill; (which despite the name, doesn’t appear to have a hill of any colour in it, just some shops and offices).  I had to get up at the unwholesome hour of 5:58am to give me time to get there and the train was too crowded for me to get in a decent sleep on the way too. Maybe my mentally overtired mind was to blame, but I sat in a meeting with four other people who, although very nice, used so much ‘management speak’ that I could barely decipher a word of what they were saying to one another, despite the fact that I think they were speaking English.   I guess I’m not cool enough to ‘hang out on the streets’ with ‘the kids’ or clever enough to exchange ‘intellectual banter’ with ‘corporate leaders’.    The film features a number of language issues relating to the “metropolitan police vocabulary guidelines”.

This is a genuinely great action-comedy.  If you’ve never seen it, rectify the situation now.  If you have seen it, go and watch it again, now.  That’s all I’ve got to say about it really, because it’s one of those movies you really ought to have seen already and it’s got Scotty in it.  It’s also one of those rare British films where you want the police to win.  If you think the locals as characterised in the movie are just a bit over-the-top; well, I’ve met people like them for real.  Most of them are parish and town councillors.  Lovely people, but a bit scary too…  The Shires of southern England have a lot in common with the Wild West…

Between the inspired use of Adam and the Ants’ “Goody Two Shoes” at the start and Supergrass’ “Caught by the Fuzz” at the end, the music settles down into a more mundane but fun mixture of mostly 60s and 70s brit-pop songs, which often reinforce the images on the screen through their lyrics.  Actually it’s a pretty good soundtrack.

Recommended for police officers, town/parish councillors, florists, journalists, publicans, hoddies, supermarket managers and anyone associated with a neighbourhood watch group.

No cats or chainsaws, but two decapitations, plus one head totally splattered with a church spire.

Top badass moment?  Trashing your local supermarket has to be badass.  (Is there anyone who hasn’t at some point wanted to pull the bottom can or packet out of one of those ‘food towers’ they build them from?)  Doing so in the name of law and order simply gives you access to the moral high ground too.   Imagine all the bargains there the next day, on the ‘slightly shop soiled’ shelf?  (Actually, do they still construct those towers?  I half think they’ve been done way with in the name of health and safety.  Those “Tin of beans and it’s toast for toddler” types of headlines don’t look good.)

Hot Fuzz at IMDB (7.9 / 10)

Hot Fuzz at Wikipedia


The Untold Story / Birds Eye Potato Waffles


The Untold Story  -  Front DVD Cover (US Release)In a riveting performance that won him 1993’s Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor, Anthony Wong (“Hard Boiled”) stars as the owner/chef of the Eight Immortals Restaurant, where the original owner and his family mysteriously disappear.  As the police, led by Danny Lee (“The Killer”), intensify their investigation, they gradually uncover the shocking truth.  Definitely not for the squeamish, “The Untold Story” is also an intelligent character study filled with dark humour touches. And remember… it actually happened!

1992  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  Hong Kong Film
Rating Details:  Scenes of extreme violence and graphic sexual situations
6.5 out of 10

In the late 80s I stopped eating Birds Eye Potato Waffles.  This is because I got really bad food poisoning from them, twice in a row.  I can still remember it quite vividly.   I think it’s the last time I took time off work through being physically ill.  They’re the only thing that’s ever given me food poisoning, as far as I can remember.  A few months ago I decided to try them again.  The good news was, no sickness or diarrhea etc, a promising start.   (I don’t recommend trying to microwave them though, the results aren’t especially satisfactory.)  Now, these are potato waffles; they’re probably one of the Bird Eye brand’s ‘signature products’.  On the side of the packaging is a marketing highlight which proudly proclaims, “Made with REAL potatoes”.  What the fuck?  Potato waffles and they’re actually made with potatoes; surely not?  Is that really the best thing they can come up with?  It doesn’t bode well for the rest of the product if that’s the highlight.  This also left me wondering what exactly is an unreal potato.  The packaging also goes on to say each 100g of waffles is made with 109g of potatoes.  Really?  I guess an understanding of particle physics is helpful if you want to enjoy Birds Eye Potato Waffles; it must be all that ‘new physics’ stuff again.  Personally, I’d rather know that all the potatoes used are grown within 40 miles of the factory where they make them, which is what it says on its web site; I think that’s much more worthy.  Has our food become so crap these days that the fact it contains what you’d expect it to contain has become such a big deal that it needs bragging about?  (Oh, I forgot about all the horse burgers.)  Birds Eye in Europe is presently owned by private equity group Primira. One of its 11 Business Principles is “Comply with both the letter and the spirit of all applicable laws, regulations and contractual obligations”.  I guess that’s why it has its finance team based on Guernsey; nothing to do with its tax haven status then?  This film features a restaurant and food that makes people sick; and dead.

Never released in the UK, Anthony Wong plays a restaurant owner called Wong Chi-Hang and it’s worth tracking down a copy of this film for his performance alone.  The guy has some serious, anger management issues.  When he’s not feeding his clientele with the ground-up remains of people he’s killed, raping his staff, beheading children or cheating at Mah Jong, he’s being beaten up by various people, generally the police or the relatives of those he’s murdered.  For a pretty gruesome and dark film that’s basically about a serial killer, the police are presented as only a few steps above the Keystone Cops.  The senior detective and his team investigating the case don’t seem to do a lot of work, they continually belittle the only woman in the team, they happy beat up poor old Anthony with the least provocation and the senior detective nearly always has a prostitute with him at work.  It’s not often you can have any sympathy for a serial killer, but he’s clearly a product of his environment; well, sort of.  Set in Macau, this film is meant to be based on a real crime too.  It’s a bloody horror with the occasional bit of almost slapstick comedy; very watchable if you can deal with all that.

This film has a fair amount of background music, much of which is clearly inspired by the “Psycho” ‘shower scene’.  You’ll not want to watch this film for the music.

Recommended for catering students, the police and anyone who’s crap at Mah Jong.

No cats or chainsaws and three decapitations; two of the latter were after they were dead though.  It’s not often you see a child have her head cut off in a film…

Top badass moment?  In the middle of cutting a load of people up, it was good to see Anthony Wong take time out to sharpen the meat cleaver he was using.  (He forgot to wear safety goggles or gloves whilst using the grinder though.)  No wonder he was so pissed off when the cutting edge got damaged soon after.  (Maybe he sharpened the blade too finely for cutting bones; or perhaps he hit the floor with it by mistake?)  Caring about your tools, even if you’re a serial killer, is good practice and therefore badass.  They do say a blunt tool is more dangerous than a sharp one.

The Untold Story at IMDB (6.8 / 10)

The Untold Story at Wikipedia


Heavenly Creatures / Rebranding Has Unforeseen Consequences


Heavenly Creatures  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (UK Release)It was the film that put Peter Jackson on the international film circuit.  It was the film that rocketed Kate Winslet to fame. It was the film based on a crime that shocked a nation.  Discover the grim and wonderful world of “Heavenly Creatures”.  Pauline is a student in New Zealand who has no affection for her family or her classmates, but when the beautiful and wealthy Juliet enrols at her school the pair become best friends.  Through their shared tastes in art, literature, and music they begin to build an elegant fantasy world.  However, when Juliet’s parents threaten to separate the girls, they make a ruthless pact to preserve their fairytale forever, whatever the cost…  Starring Academy-Award winner Kate Winslet (“Titanic”), Melanie Lynskey (“Two and a Half Men”, “Win Win”) and directed by Academy-Award winner Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy), “Heavenly Creatures” is a gripping and intelligent account of a friendship with a dark edge.

1994  –  Certificate: 18  –  New Zealand
Rating Details: Infrequent strong bloody violence
8 out of 10

About a year ago we ‘rebranded’ at work.  Out went all the stuffy, 20th Century imagery and in came a fun, cool, 21st Century, 20-teens look.  Our sturdy, reliable fleeces were ripped from our backs by ‘The Management’ and burnt in a huge pyre of green and black polyester.  In their place came thin, dark blue hoodies, with bits of trendy string and other things hanging from all over them; (remember the latter, they’re important later on).  Everyone over the age of 25 had to attend special training courses, to enable us to wear them without spontaneously going into either an 80’s training montage (a la “Rocky”), or out to hang around on street corners and mug old ladies.  I was told mine made me looked 20 years younger, (or as I suspect, just like an old bloke trying to look 20 years younger).  Now, let’s come back to the present day.  On Friday I was answering the call of nature.  In an effort to prevent one of the “bits of trendy string” ‘getting in the way’ so to speak, I undid the zip on my hoodle.  In doing so, a pocket thought it would be really fun and cool to throw my mobile phone into the toilet.  Our trusty fleeces had deeper pockets with zips on them; I’d never had a fleece pocket do that to me.  So there I was, urinating on my own mobile, casually wondering how long it could withstand being in the water and how exactly I was going to get it out in anything resembling a hygienic way.  Anyway, one rubber glove and several minutes later…  Although it had been switched on before it went swimming, it now wasn’t working.  It was well and truly dead, save for a couple of flickering, fading lights at the side that put me in mind of The Terminator’s eyes after it gets bashed to bits and dies, just before it comes alive again; although there was no sign of my phone rerouting itself to take advantage of an alternative power source.  My mobile is a Nokia 6300, the sort of phone that’s given to ‘top executives’ like myself, at least it was 7 years ago when I got it.  And despite its slick 90’s styling, it’s about as water-resistant as, well (as we’re on the subject anyway), a sheet of toilet paper.  I disassembled it, poured the urine/water mixture out of it and left it to dry.  At least it hadn’t exploded; if my life was a Hollywood action movie I’m pretty sure it would have done and I really wasn’t in the mood to deal with an exploding lavatory.  The next day I put all the bits back together again and switched it on.  Nothing happened.  I shook it, hit it, put it in the microwave oven for 30 seconds, (okay I lied about the microwave), but still it didn’t work.  I started trying to think of excuses I could use when fessing up at work that I’d broken it.  Who could I blame?  The hoddie designers?  The branding manager?  The chief executive?  Maybe I could just say it had broken of old age?  Then I had an “Independence Day” moment.  Do you know the bit in the film when the President of the United States is flying a jet fighter and fires a missile at one of the alien spaceships and it doesn’t work and he says something like, “I’m going to have one more try?”  Well I had much the same experience with my Nokia.  I pressed the on button, kept my finger on it for ages and suddenly it shook and spluttered into life.  Amazing.  Now I’ve just got to work out how to decontaminate it.  This movie doesn’t feature any of these things at all, not even a passing reference to them.

This film is based on the true-life story of two school-girls in the 50s who formed a very close relationship and ended up murdering one of the mothers.  It was the movie that bought Peter “Lord of the Rings” Jackson and Kate “the second most beautiful woman in the world” Winslet to public prominence.  After 20 minutes I really thought it was going to be rubbish, especially as I’m not a great fan of period dramas or real-life dramatisations, but then it suddenly got good.  It’s a hard film to pigeonhole, a genuine one-off. It’s really an adult fairytale, despite it closely following the story of the murder.  The music in the film works really well and it has one scene, near the end, that’s an authentically brilliant bit of intense cinema.  It’s not a perfect movie by any means, but it is probably one that everyone should see.  It also throws up a whole range of interesting questions, about the nature of their relationship, the reaction of their parents to it, their mental condition, their treatment at school, their relationship with their parents.  In many ways it’s a shame it’s based on a real story, as the fact that someone really was killed sort of makes it hard to form a detached opinion of everything.  I watched the shorter, original cut (as I have it on Blu-ray and it looked really nice); of course, being the sad, nerdy film person I am, I also own the extended version too, on DVD.

No cats or chainsaws and 1 decapitation, although the latter is off-screen.

Recommended for all film fans; and psycho school-girls.

Top badass moment?  Juliet walks into a French lesson at her posh new school and within 30 seconds tells the teacher she’s made a mistake.  Having myself once been teaching on a butterfly identification course and had someone in the group suddenly shout out I’d misidentified a butterfly on one of the slides I was showing, I can personally relate just how badass that is.  I’ve never run that training course since.  I hate butterflies now, they’re scum, only fit to be squashed.

Heavenly Creatures at IMDB (7.5/10)


Psycho Holocaust / Thomas Hardy and Star Trek, Separated At Birth


Psycho Holocaust  -  Front DVD Cover (USA)Eager for one final vacation before their lives change forever, six friends embark upon a camping trip to a remote mountainous area.  By nightfall, their lives will change forever… in ways too horrific to imagine.  For in the shadows awaits a pack of the most evil, vicious rejects of humanity, addicted to violence and thirsty for blood!  This is “Psycho Holocaust”…

2011  –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  USA
6 out of 10

I’m not just an uncouth, middle-aged yobbo, who only listens to angry punk music and watches slasher movies.  No, I also have a cultured, respectable side, the sort that The Queen would be entirely at home with.  In proof, I offer up the fact that I’ve just finished reading “The Hand of Ethelberta” by Thomas Hardy, not for the first time either.   In between reading Star Trek novels I read Thomas Hardy ones.  The latter is of course, the greatest writer the world has ever seen.  In fact I’m a fully paid-up member of the Thomas Hardy Society.  That’s how cultured I am.  Unlike “The Terminator” Sara Connor’s “No fate but what we make”, Hardy’s novels generally provide more of a ‘fate will do whatever it wants with you, despite your best efforts to do otherwise, and you probably won’t like it either’ point of view.  Even though it’s one of Hardy’s more light-weight stories, “The Hand of Ethelberta” once again provides us with a reminder that it’s basically pointless trying to do something about your lot in life, or dream about bettering yourself.  When it comes down to it, you might win a few battles, but the war will be lost.  I find Hardy an excellent counter-balance to the optimism and can-do attitude prevalent in Star Trek. Together, they help to keep me grounded!  This movie is more Thomas Hardy than Star Trek.

“Six friends embark upon a camping trip to a remote mountainous area” eh?  I wonder what on Earth this film could be about?  Ornithology?   Geology?   Photography?  Actually, it features three veterans of the conflict in Iraq, in a searing and damming documentary about the effects of combat on individuals and the political implications of going to war.  Okay, I lied a bit.  It does indeed feature three veterans (and one was a documentary film maker), but then it all sort of goes where a million low-budget horrors have gone before.  In its favour, our six ‘heroes’ weren’t teenagers and even the three war veterans displayed a clear lack of fantasy indestructibleness.  (Cool, a six-syllable word that Word approves of.)  The latter also exhibited a genuine concern for their local environment, (an attractive woodland).  It was heartening to see a couple of sick and twisted psychos busy taking two of their victims off to a location to kill them in, discussing an impending plan to turn the area into “one big fucking suburb”.  A small quirk of fate and they’d have been running about, carrying out direct action in the name of Earth First instead.  That’s the ‘Hardy Effect’ for you.  The violence is well up to scratch and some (though not all) of the special effects are generally pretty believable.  The lead baddie is suitably effective and entertaining, even though he did look a little too like Simon Pegg to be totally convincing.  I kept expecting him to pick up a pile of LPs and use them as weapons.  Despite the occasionally horrific bit of acting, the film works well as a B-movie and the violence scores highly on the official sick-gross-eew scale.  Turning to health and safety now, a number of different tools get used in the film, including two carpenter’s saws, a claw hammer, a few hand axes, a double-headed axe and a sort of flat bladed butcher’s hatchet, as well as a chainsaw.  By and large, these were used in a generally appropriate and certainly effective way, although the arm that was cut off wasn’t really secured properly and the no-handed use of one of the saws isn’t a formally recognised technique.  (You may wish to give that some further though.)  Unfortunately, as is often the case, the chainsaw was used with little or no attention paid to safety.  I couldn’t see any PPE in use and even an idiot must surely realise that running about in a woodland carrying a running chainsaw, over uneven terrain full of trip hazards, isn’t a terribly good idea.  It never fails to amaze me how few chainsaw wielding psychos use their equipment safely.  Particularly in this case, considering the latter were ex-military; this was disappointing and certainly made the whole movie feel a lot less realistic.  However, it did seem to start really easily, from both hot and cold, so at least it looks like it was being maintained properly, which is promising.

1 cat, 1 chainsaw and 1 decapitation.  Bingo!  The first film I’ve watched for ages that gets a full set.  (I think the cat was just a bystander that ran onto the set though.)  There’re a few other rather painful amputations too.

Recommended for would-be psychos.  An excellent training film.

Top badass moment?  It’s certainly a gentleman’s leg-crossing moment, but Laura’s treatment of her would-be rapist was pretty awesome; I’m just not sure how feasible it would be in real life (so says Mr. Modest-Bigboy).  It wasn’t that she’d had an especially good day up to then either.  A whipping, a drowning, another rape, a bashing on the head with a big rock and finding her boyfriend missing a leg, (who then promptly fell on her when she tried to help him, trapping her), do not a good day make for anyone.  And let’s not forget her safe and effective use of the double-headed axe too.

Psycho Holocaust at IMDB (4.9/10)


Say Yes / Cleaning Toilets


Say Yes  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Celebrating their first wedding anniversary, Yoon-hee (Chu Sang-mi “Soul Guardians”) and Jung-hyun (Kim Joo-hyuk “Blue Swallow”) embark on a road trip into the countryside.  During the trip they meet a stranger, M, (Park Joong-hoon “Nowhere to Hide”) and offer him a ride.  However things quickly turn sinister when M starts showing up at all the destinations the couple arrive at. Tensions escalate as this film becomes a taut psychological thriller that takes some unexpected turns.

2001  –  Certificate: 18  –  South Korea
Rating Details: Strong, bloody violence
7 out of 10

I’m pissed off today.  I feel like a toilet cleaner.  I feel like a toilet cleaner who’s getting blamed for the state of the toilets he’s cleaning.  I feel like a toilet cleaner who’s getting blamed for the state of the toilets he’s cleaning, but hasn’t been given the equipment he needs to clean them.  I feel like a toilet cleaner who’s getting blamed for the state of the toilets he’s cleaning, who hasn’t been given the equipment he needs to clean them and is then getting blamed for that too.  I feel like a toilet cleaner who’s getting blamed for the state of the toilets he’s cleaning, who hasn’t been given the equipment he needs to clean them and is getting blamed for that, whilst also being blamed for not cleaning them quickly enough either.  Cleaning toilets is literally a shit job.  On the upside, the couple in this film end up having an even more crap time than me.

This is a pretty obscure South Korean thriller/horror that’s actually not too bad.  Happy young couple go away for a few days to celebrate the husband’s success at getting a publishing deal for a book he’s written, nearly run a guy down in a service station car park, give him a lift somewhere because they feel bad about what they’ve done, then suffer the consequences as they realise they’ve picked up a psycho.  By and large, their reactions to things weren’t too outlandish most of the time, so the movie feels quite believable.  It’s films like this that I blame the lack of cohesion in many of our communities; no one trusts anyone these days.  How much nicer would it have been if the guy they picked up had turned out to be an all-around decent chap and they’d all become life-long friends?  Nice yes, but probably boring.  No, on second thoughts I think I prefer the fact that he spent the next few days terrorising them, trying to get the husband to tell him to kill his wife (the “say yes” of the title) and generally making their lives hell.  The couple was decent enough, quite easy to sympathise with.  The husband, Jung-hyun, started off as a bit of an ‘average-man’ trying to be the alpha-male and to his credit he did give the psycho a bit of a beating in the street at one point (and the latter wasn’t a small guy by any means), but he quickly realised he was out of his depth and didn’t continue to try to be a macho-style hero.  I’ve got to give him his credit though, he had to put up with a lot of shit (there’s a lot of it about at the moment) and he’d certainly earned the respect I accorded him by the time the film was over.  I thought the Korean police were pretty rubbish; the couple didn’t seem to think much of them either.  The psycho is suitably deranged, creepy looking and sounding; I couldn’t help thinking he’d probably had a toilet cleaning experience not unlike mine that had pushed him over the edge.  For all I know he had, as we learn very little about his life, but I guess he must have done something else with it as I can’t imagine he’d been regularly hassling holidaying couples over a long period of time.   The movie did drift into “Duel” and “The Terminator” territory once or twice, but if you’re going to borrow from elsewhere you may as well do so from the best.  It also felt like they’d finished making it and then thought, whoops, it’s not long enough and there’s not enough gratuitous violence in it either, so let’s add another 20 minutes and a load of blood and guts too. So watch out for the false ending and don’t get up to make a cup of tea until you see the credits.

Recommended for people who walk to the supermarket.  If you drive then don’t complain when you run into a psycho-shopper-hitchhiker from hell.  Statistically you’re probably more likely to get killed during the drive anyway.  In fact to be on the safe side, I recommend you use your local corner shop instead.  (I wrote this paragraph before I realised that they actually visit what looks more like a service station than a supermarket when they meet the nutter, but I was so pleased with it that I decided not to change it; it doesn’t take much to keep me happy…)

No cats or chainsaws and 1 decapitation.  That timeless classic,  ‘head in a bag’, used here for maximum impact.

Top badass moment?  Not once but twice, Jung-hyun has to deal with some pretty painful stuff being done to him by the psycho, but refuses to give in to protect his wife.  For an action-hero or superhero that would be tough enough, but this guy’s a writer, so you’ve got to big-up the respect for him.  You don’t need a huge gun to be a hero.

Say Yes at IMDB (5.5/10)


Cube: 4.0 Stars


Cube  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Six strangers awaken from their daily lives to find themselves trapped in a surreal prison – a seemingly endless maze of interlocking cubical chambers armed with lethal booby traps.  None of these people knows why or how they were imprisoned…  But it soon emerges that each of them has a skill that could contribute to their escape.  Who created this diabolical maze, and why?  There are unanswered questions on every side, whilst personality conflicts and struggles for power emerge as the tension rises.  But one thing is crystal clear; unless they can learn to co-operate to work out the secrets of this deadly trap, none of them has very long to live…

1997  –  Certificate: 15  –  Canada
Rating Details:  Language, occasional, strong; violence, infrequent, strong, horror; other, horror, science fiction.

I tend to buy a few books for myself around Christmas.  I think I do this because I have a bit more time then and when I’ve got time I start to think how nice it would be to read a book.  So off I trotted (electronically) to Amazon.  I decided to buy a couple of Star Trek novels.  For various dull reasons, the first one I selected was called “Homecoming”.  £200.68 new!  £200.68!!  For that price I’d expect it to come with a full-sized, fully operational Star Trek spaceship, including crew.  Is there suddenly a world shortage of letters?  Are the Chinese restricting exports of full stops, thus leading to frantic trading in alternative punctuation marks on global stock markets?  Have the Americans finally realised that they can’t spell and bought up the entire world output of letter Us for the next five years, in an effort to correct all those misspelt references to colour?  So anyway, I’ve ended up buying myself a Kindle, the cheapest one, which costs £69.  I can now buy the book for £4.99.  I am suffering a bit of a guilt trip though.  I feel like I should be castigating Amazon for its over-effective use of British tax laws and in fact be refusing to buy anything from it in line with the recently announced boycott.  Then there’s also the fact that I’ve effectively allowed myself to be locked into its proprietary file format and e-book system for the rest of my life.  However, there’s a certain thrill in the idea that the first book I read on it will be a Star Trek one, a franchise that frequently depicts characters reading from a small pad that with hindsight looks suspiciously like a Kindle.  As for the other issue, if you’re going to lock yourself into a sweet factory, it may as well be in Willy Wonka’s.  This film also features people who’re locked in somewhere, but there’s not a lot of chocolate around, or books, e or otherwise.

I simultaneously love and hate this film.  It’s a great and stylish horror/sci-fi thriller, with an unusual and suitably disturbing and clever storyline.  I also like how by using only seven people and virtually just a single, small set, it manages to be such a good movie.  It creates a tense atmosphere by making great use of sound and the claustrophobic set-up; the traps are ‘nicely’ presented too.  Sadly, the characters in it lack any semblance of common sense, so they seem unbelievably stupid, despite their unique talents.  There’s not a great deal of emotional intelligence on show, or indeed any sort of togetherness.  I’ve seen more communication between passengers on the London Underground in the rush hour than this lot managed, such was their inability to interact meaningfully in a ‘mission-critical’ way.   The way they develop and change during the film also stretches their credibility to pretty ridiculous levels.  At first, they seemed like a group of people under a lot of pressure, which does tend to make individuals do some strange things, but then I found myself thinking, “what the fuck”?  What sort of morons are these people?  Why don’t they just work things out together like everyone else would?  Haven’t any of them watched “The Poseidon Adventure”?   The cliché of groups of people in films who’re trapped together and then not getting on, is getting to be as bad as the one involving groups’ of young people going to remote places for a ‘good time’ and then meeting a grizzly end.  Their over or under reaction to different situations just seemed to have been determined by the writers throwing a dice.  6?  Oh dear, you’re going to freak out.  1?  That’s cool, you’ll barely notice what’s going on, you’re so laid back about it.  It’s not that the acting is especially poor, it’s more the script that’s at fault.  One plus point is that it’s got Nicole De Boer in it, the world’s third most beautiful woman, although she’s not looking her best, but I can forgive her for that given the circumstances.  Nicole De Boer is of course, Lieutenant Ezri Dax from Star Trek Deep Space Nine.  However, despite its shortcomings, Cube still manages to be a really good film. Weird eh?

Recommended for fans of clever sci-fi, who won’t let a few hot-headed characters spoil their geeky fun.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  However, two heads do get well and truly mangled.

Top badass moment?  Given the uniformly un-cooperative, combative and plainly stupid behaviour of most of the characters most of the time, the top badass moments have to be whenever the Cube does something that pisses one of them off, or worse.  It’s a sad day when you end up having to cheer for the mechanical baddie.  If our ancestors conducted themselves in the same way, we’d still all be living in caves and bashing one another over the head with clubs.  Get some anger management people, for goodness sake.

Cube at IMDB (7.4/10)


Friday the 13th: 3.5 Stars


Friday the 13th  -  Front Blu-ray coverI hate job interviews.  I’d rather face the end of the world, on a wet day, when I’ve got a stinking cold, than be interviewed.  They have the bizarre effect of temporarily rendering me insane and only capable of repeating, over and over again, that my would-be employer is the world’s worst organisation and one I despise in every way; think of the bastard corporate offspring of McDonalds, Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Rio Tinto, appointing Pol Pot, Idi Amin and Augusto Pinochet as directors and you’ll get some idea of the problem.  Eric Cartman probably interviews better than me.  Interviewing others however, is very different; I quite enjoy doing that as I’m a sadistic, evil psychopath, who hates absolutely everyone.  In the last couple of weeks I’ve been involved in interviewing seven people for two jobs.  I accept that in life I probably can’t get away with murdering every single individual on the planet, so the next best thing is to torture a small number of them, by using a legal loophole that enables me to psychologically damage people using an interrogation technique, which involves asking them a lot of deeply personal questions about their darkest fears and experiences.  If I can throw in a question about Star Trek, even if it has nothing whatsoever to do with the job (and I can’t imagine why such a question every would have), so much the better.  (I imagine there’s a whole sub-genera of films based around this particular fetish, although I’ve not personally come across any yet.)  There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing an empty box of tissues on the table at the end of the day.  Interviewing is like being an actor in a play, (a pantomime is probably the best analogy).  You do and say the same things, over and over again, for each ‘victim’.  I guess there’re a lot like slasher horrors too; you know a group of (generally) young people are going to go to a mysterious, isolated location, where something truly horrible will be done to them, one by one, by a strange, inhuman entity of some sort; and only one will survive!  I like to think of myself as a bit like Jason Voorhees when I’m interviewing; focused on a single outcome, without a shred of compassion, empathy or humanity.  This film is of course, about being interviewed…

2009  –  Certificate: 18  –  USA
Rating Details:  Strong bloody violence and strong sex

This is the reboot of Friday 13th.  So, a group of young people go somewhere and run into a bad guy with a big knife.  They don’t get on.  The end.  I can’t really imagine there’re a lot of people who will watch this film and not already have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen.  It’s not a bad film by any means, but it suffers a bit from the ‘Twilight Effect’, by which I mean it’s a horror story superimposed on a teen drama.  It never truly becomes too gory, too scary or too horrifying, although to be fair it does have its moments.  Critically, it manages to keep the characters sufficiently annoying and irritating, so that the viewer will never really start to sympathise with them, which is what’s important when the real point of the movie is to see them all get killed by the man in the hockey mask.  There’s nothing worse than feeling a twang of sorrow for the victims when a horror icon is going about his, her, or its business.

Recommended for anyone who isn’t genetically programmed to watch reboots of old classics to automatically say something along the lines of, “well, it’s not as good as the original.”  This may often be true, but just blurting it out with no thought makes you sound like a Sun reader.

No cats, 3 decapitations and no chainsaws.  Only one decapitation is on-screen, but it’s done to Major Kira Nerys from Star Trek Deep Space Nine; what a tragedy of epic proportions!  One of the others is only in the deleted scenes.

Top badass moment?  There are surprisingly few potential choices, so in the end I’m going for Jason’s excellent throw with the full-sized, double-headed axe.  Getting one of them to fly through the air any sort of distance would be hard enough, but throwing one with enough accuracy and power to fell someone who’s running fast and a good 20m or so ahead of you, is pretty impressive.  What a shame he didn’t get the opportunity to take up the javelin, discus or hammer; things might have worked out very differently if he had.

Friday the 13th at IMDB (5.5/10)


Scream 2: 3.0 Stars


Scream 2  -  Front DVD CoverToday the world woke up to the fact that however good Polish workers are, you wouldn’t want to employ one to fix your roof.  This afternoon, England managed yet another lacklustre performance and gained a draw against Poland.  However, the real highlight of the football coverage came yesterday, watching ITV’s commentary team, lead by Adrian Chiles, desperately trying to fill two and a half hours, sitting in a studio watching it raining outside.  The highlight was Chiles’s genuine query to the rest of the team, “What’s the difference between heavy rain and a downpour?”  It gave a whole new meaning to the word “inane”.  Sadly, we were not treated to any great insight or wisdom on this matter either, which just goes to prove that men really can’t talk about anything other than football.  Although it has to be said that a group of men employed to commentate on an international football match probably do represent the pinnacle of male development, so it’s hardly surprising that something as complex as the weather might elude them.  I also enjoyed FIFAs attempts to entertain the crowd with its throw-back to the golden age of silent cinema; watching the referee regularly come out with a ball and then randomly throw it into the air and watch it land with a splash without bouncing, was a wonderful pastiche of the early greats, such as Charlie Chaplin Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton.  It was raining, the pitch was clearly getting more and more waterlogged, what did he expect to happen? (If he was an astronaut he’d be the one to go outside and take off his helmet, just to check that there really wasn’t any air there.)  Not a smile did he flash either, not even for a moment; I couldn’t tell if he was totally raging inside at the futility of what he was being told to do, in front of millions of people, and getting soaked doing it, or he really was taking it very seriously.  Jeez, he needs to lighten up a bit.  He had all the demeanour of a detective investing a serious crime scene; which considering the nonsense with the automatically closing roof that they didn’t close, he sort of was.  This film also features a number of serious crime scenes.

1997  –  Certificate: 18  –  USA
Rating Details:  Strong Bloody Violence

Try as I might, I just can’t work up any real enthusiasm for this film.  I feel it ought to be a lot better than it is, which just added to my disappointment.  There’s nothing really wrong with it, but nothing really right with it either.  It just kind of exists because “Scream” exists, a bit like the relationship between dead leaves in autumn and trees.  It’s not really very scary, it’s not really very funny, it’s not really very gory and it’s not really very hip.  It doesn’t help that I get “Scream” and “Scary Movie” mixed up in my head, so in my mind it’s become a sort of inoffensive Frankenstein film made up of several others; (let’s not forget the two further sequels to “Scream” and the three sequels to “Scary Movie”.   That’s eight nearly identical films, so it’s no wonder I’m confused.   Watching it felt like one of things you just have to do from time to time, not something to get worked up about or anything, but just something you do and not give much thought to, like going to the toilet I guess.  What I did hate was that it was non-anamorphic, so with its widescreen aspect ratio I ended up watching a picture the size and shape of an enlarged match, without a head.  God, I can’t be bothered with anymore thinking about this film right now.

Recommended for people who saw Scream, I guess.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?   Whatever.  It might as well be Cotton Weary finally getting what he wanted (greedy asshole) and becoming a sort of hero(ish).  That’s badass(ish). 

Scream 2 at IMDB (6.0/10)