Harry 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.
Susan 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.
On 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.
Sean 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.
There is a buzz about Sherry McGrale’s band among those in the know. Her song “Never Knew your Name”, a song about the brutal rape of a young woman, is making an impact on the charts and Sherry is already building a reputation as a singer-songwriter. But Sherry already seems set on a self-destructive, sex and alcohol-fuelled descent, delayed only by her dedicated and devoted manager, Chuck. When Owen, a senior reporter from Hollywood music magazine ‘Vinyl Fetish’, is given the task of writing a profile on Sherry, he has a head start. As an old childhood friend, he already knows her background and even the story behind the song, an event that has cast a shadow over their whole lives. Setting off for Cocoa Beach, Florida, Owen realises this is more than an interview; it is an opportunity to confront the past and put their future in their own hands.
2001 – Certificate: 18 – American Film
Rating Details: Strong sex, language and rape theme
8.0 out of 10
Actually I wrote this on Friday last week, but anyway… I’m sitting here writing this right now, (by which as I’ve just mentioned, means last Friday and not today, Wednesday). I’m sitting here and it’s very warm, it’s 30C in my living room. (It still is actually; we’ve had such lovely, warm and sunny weather recently, not at all like an English summer.) I’m sitting here feeling stupid, because I got ready to go out to a gig, before noticing on the ticket that it’s actually tomorrow night, (which is now last Saturday night) and not this evening, (which then was last Friday night, obviously). I’m sitting here wondering why it took me 20 minutes to locate my wallet tonight (i.e. last Friday night), only to find it was laying in the middle of the floor in the living room. I’m sitting here wondering if this is the start of Alzheimer’s. Then again, I’m sitting here remembering that I’ve been a multi-tasking wizard at work this week, (by which I mean last week, although I’ve been pretty good this week too), despite my in-built gender limitations. I’m now sitting here thinking I’m suffering from some sort of hormone imbalance. I’m sitting here wondering why I read medical stuff online too. Is that all clear? I hope so, because it’s all pretty serious stuff, a bit like this movie.
It’s hard not to take a film like this seriously, especially when the rape scene was filmed in the same house where the director/writer was raped herself at around the same age as the character in the movie. I doubt that’s a technique described in many self-help books. This could have been a truly great film. It does manage to be a really good film, but it didn’t quite achieve that final leap to amazingness. Some scenes really worked well and I got a proper emotional reaction from watching them. But others were comparatively lifeless and I started thinking that they weren’t very realistic either. Unfortunately, because I need to take this movie seriously, I can’t really mention that the nearest it has to a hero, Chuck, drives a Volvo. Dear me, I’m really not in the mood to write this tonight. There’s lots of really interesting stuff I could say about this film, but I’m just too emotionally detached from it right now. I’ve got a bit of a headache too; I’ve just taken a pain-killer, which I hardly ever do. Your sympathy is appreciated. Oh, I couldn’t find a proper trailer for it anywhere either, so I’ve settled for an excerpt of one of its more interesting scenes. Well it’s got some singing, swearing and violence in it anyway.
Getting the music right in a film which relies on it as a major plot element is never an easy thing to do. In this case they’ve gone for a ‘lead song’ that sounds really like the Beau Brummels 1965 hit “Just a Little”. (Which I just happen to have an advanced pressing of, where the title etc is written by hand on the label.) This isn’t a bad choice, as it gives it an ethereal, timeless quality that works well in the context of its subject matter. The rest of the soundtrack is pretty good too. A lot was written and performed by Sonic Youth.
Recommended for musicians, band managers, journalists and Volvo drivers.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Under the circumstances, the fact that Sherry didn’t end up wanting to do something very nasty to Owen is pretty badass. In fact her whole reaction to his news seemed a bit subdued.
The 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.
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.
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.
This is a film about a young girl who overcomes great adversity. Whereas I’m a sad old bloke who’s got a cold right now and can’t be bothered to even try to do anything about it. Let the fiery depths of Hell take me; at least it’ll be warm there.
2008 – Certificate: R – USA
Rating Details: Disturbing sexual assault of a young girl, and brief sexuality
You know they often say that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, or that something often acts as a catalyst to help others achieve more together than apart? Well whatever the opposite of those is, applies to this drama. It looks good and the acting is great, but somehow the story and script didn’t really work for me; I guess it’s one of those films that takes too many of its cues from its setting; in this case the southern states of the US in the 50s, a time and place I can’t readily relate to. From what I saw in this film, it was pretty crap anyway and I’m glad I don’t know it. I like films that utilise music as a component in the plot and this one uses Elvis Presley and The Blues to decent effect; and there I was, thinking the Wasted and One Direction represented the pinnacle of popular music. I did enjoy seeing a dysfunctional family again too, it’s been a while since I’ve come across one in a film. Dakota Fanning, who plays Lewellen, the young girl, really does an amazing job with the role; the film is worth seeing for that alone. Her singing is pretty impressive too. I was also stuck by the number of times objects just happened to be in the right place to save someone or other’s blushes; I’ve not seen so many strategically placed house plants etc since the Austin Powers movies. The biggest letdown was the script; the characterisation was excellent, yet I felt I had to fill in too many gaps in the plot; maybe it’s my cold, but some important things just seemed to pass me by. I suppose that makes it a film for clever people, not like me. This is also a film that’s famous for one particular scene, where Lewellen is horribly raped by a milkman. It really isn’t that graphic or anything, but I suppose the idea of what’s happening and the fact that it looks very real on the screen does give it a great deal of power. The second half of the film wouldn’t really work without it either. Also, if you don’t like snakes, this is a film to give a miss; there’re a lot of them in it.
Recommended for intelligent people who aren’t going to freak out over ‘that’ scene.
No cat, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Charles, Lewellen’s unofficial mentor. Despite his slightly unhinged view of the world, which is probably a result of his hanging out with too many snakes, he does represent just about the only character in the whole film that’s able to move things forward. Anyone with that much belief in the power of music has to be badass.