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 The reply I got (that took longer to arrive that it should have) said that it was an outdated model and it couldn’t be replaced, but that I’d get a new, free smart meter in a few years’ time!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.
Meet Ken Boyd: small-town loner and comic-book nerd, making ends meet by pushing a broom around the local ice-cream parlour. Fresh out of the loony bin, where he spent years recovering from the horrific torture he suffered at the hands of the high school basketball jocks, Ken (Kevin Corrigan) wants nothing more than to just be left alone. But when the lovely Stephanie (Lucy Davis) comes into Ken’s life and he is reunited with his estranged, 11 year old daughter Amy, things finally seem to be looking up. Even his constantly disappointed mother (Karen Black) and the town Sheriff (Barry Bostock) start to treat him with a little more respect. That is, until those very same jocks that Ken deems responsible for his ruined life start turning up dead…
2011 – Certificate: 15 – American Film
Rating Details: Strong language and bloody violence
7.0 out of 10
For dinner last night I had a weird and not overly tasty concoction that was meant to be a chilli, except I didn’t have any chillies or chilli powder, so I thought I’d use paprika instead; well it’s nearly the same colour isn’t it? I also thought I’d use a whole garlic bulb in it too. I ground the garlic up in an electric chopper, rather than cut it up into small bits with a knife, which is what I normally do. This had the effect of spreading the taste throughout the rest of the food, instead of keeping it more concentrated in certain places. The overall result of all this was an overpoweringly garlicky mush that didn’t go at all well with the paprika. I ate it all, but I imagine anyone coming anywhere near me in the next 36 hours is likely to be putting in a call to National Grid soon after. In the flats where I live, all the kitchens have a built in vent/fan system that is supposed to remove cooking smells. It’s really not very efficient; it just makes a lot of noise. Unfortunately and from personal experience over many years, this system also doesn’t seem to be very good at venting the smells out of the building either, preferring instead to simply pump them into all the neighbouring kitchens and bathrooms instead. I imagine that many of my neighbours were busy last night with the Air Wick, in a desperate attempt to hide my dietary experimentation. Still, I’m just getting my own back for all the meat and fish based meals they share with me in the same way. This movie has a bit of a revenge theme going on too.
In common with much of life, this film is a gentle comedy with the occasional bit of slasher horror. Like far too many other films, this one features another of those young (in this case an 11-year-old) kids with impossibly high levels of emotional intelligence, empathy and stability. They really are a cliché. Listen Mr. Movie-Maker, they may make useful plot devices but they don’t actually exist in the real world. You may as well have introduced a purple alien to fulfil the same role; it wouldn’t be any less believable (and could well end up actually being more believable). Despite this and a sometimes weak storyline, the characters are actually the best things in this film; yes, even the 11-year-old with the professional life-coaching skills; (and she looks about 13 too.) I enjoyed watching this movie more for the individual scenes to see everyone interacting, rather than the overall plot. The ‘horror bits’ felt a bit bolted on to everything and it would have probably worked just as well without them. So worth a watch for the fun and the acting, but it’s a disappointing horror with a wonky story. (When was the last time you heard or saw anyone use the word “wonky” then?) I’ve just though, this is the second American film in a row I’ve watched that has a ‘token Brit’ in it. She calls someone a “wanker” anyway; a complex term that I imagine goes over the head of many Americans.
The soundtrack does what it needs to do but is otherwise pretty anonymous.
The trailer’s entertaining, but it does sort of give away the story and has most of the best lines in it as well.
Recommended for police officers, precocious kids, bullies (and their victims), basketball fans, losers and anyone in a dead-end job.
1 decapitation, no cats or chainsaws. A clean if somewhat messy cut; off in one.
Top badass moment? As a minor plot point, this film includes issues around custody of a young girl. Fortunately this appears to get sorted out in about 15 seconds to the satisfaction of all. I thought these things are meant to take ages and cost a fortune? Was this just lazy writing, or have I been brainwashed for years by the legal profession bent on maximising what it gets from the misery of others? Regardless, the DIY result in this movie seems badass.
Following hot on the heels of well-known Asian chillers such as “Ring”, “Dark Water” and “Ju-on” comes a ghost story to top them all. “Phone” tells the story of an investigative reporter, Ji-won, who has recently published a controversial article about sex-scandals and has since begun receiving a series of menacing phone calls. In an effort to escape the phone calls she changes her number and moves house, but the calls keep coming. When a friend’s young daughter innocently answers the ringing telephone she begins to exhibit increasingly crazed behaviour. As she tries to unravel the mystery behind the phone calls Ji-won uncovers a secret that will change them all. Stylish and terrifying, “Phone” follows the growing pedigree of Asian horror, that shock, scare and astonish in equal measure.
2002 – Certificate: 15 – South Korean Film
Rating Details: Strong psychological horror
7.0 out of 10
It’s confession time here in Cactus World. I’ve never owned a mobile phone. I’m one of the 10% or so of people living in the UK that doesn’t have one, a country in which there’re more mobile phones than people. It’s not that I’m a Luddite or anything. I got Windows 7 when it first came out, I’ve a 120Mb Internet connection, a TV service with hundreds of channels I never watch and even a landline. I actually have a mobile for work too, (an elderly Nokia smartphone, although no data contract to go with it). The amount of increasingly desperate marketing materials I get from Virgin Media offering me billions of texts, terabytes of data and endless free mobile calls, suggests its marketing department’s best algorithms have identified me as a dangerous, social anomaly that needs to be dealt with, by selling me a phone and mobile service contract as soon as possible. I imagine GCHQ has probably got me on its ‘high risk’ list of people who’re attempting to live off the grid, in preparation for launching a huge, worldwide terrorist attack on the good and the great. Unfortunately, the two things I’d actually need to make getting a phone worthwhile, namely some friends to contact and some time in which to do so, don’t seem to be included in any of Virgin Media’s offers, at least not yet… This film hasn’t made getting a mobile any more attractive to me either.
This is a chilling movie. At least the first half of it is. Then the story gets a bit muddled up and it turns into more of a straightforward, supernatural thriller, before everything gets explained at the end. The latter was pretty helpful, as by then I’d sort of lost the plot and it wasn’t as if I’d had much to drink either. It’s worth a watch just to see the terrifying little kid in it. I really did believe she’d been possessed by the spirit of her father’s dead, underage lover. I was going to ring the police to report it, but by then I was too scared to use the phone. This film makes great use sound, from the audio design itself through to the annoying ringing of the phones. The latter all seem to share the same cheap and nasty ringtone, although the modern option of the latest nondescript Top Ten hit by someone with little talent, played via a speaker with all the sonic range of kettle, is arguably no better. There was some decent DIY on show too.
One of the things that makes this film work is its music. In particular, it uses Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor Op. 27 No. 2 (aka the Moonlight Sonata) to great effect. This is one of the best bits of classical music ever written.
The trailer is almost entirely useless, as it does nothing to make the movie interesting. In fact if you wanted to see how not to make a trailer, this one would be a pretty good example. It’s over melodramatic, incoherent, says nothing about the film and is too dark as well.
Recommended for journalists, wives that don’t appear to do much and schoolgirls that want to get off with older men; and pissed off spirits.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Chang-hoon is some guy. He’s the CEO of a big company, has a beautiful wife and a schoolgirl lover, yet he’s got all the personally of a plank of wood. I guess his money and his (I assume) ability in bed must make up for it. (His wife was pretty boring as well if I’m honest.) Still, he’s clearly some sort of Korean alpha male, badass dude.
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.
North Sea Texas is the feature film debut from cult director Bavo Defurne. His short films are love letters to the male form and soaked with lush visuals, garnering fans from across the globe and drawing comparisons to Pierre et Gilles, Herbert List, Dreyer and Eisenstein. Pim lives in a small town on the Belgian coat, together with his single mother Yvette, a local accordion starlet. It’s an ordinary existence which Pim brightens up by dreaming of princesses, beauty queens and handsome Gino, the boy next door. But when hunky traveller Zoltan blows through town, Pim’s life takes an exciting and unexpected turn.
2011 – Certificate: 15 – Belgium
Rating Details: Infrequent strong sex
7 out of 10
On Thursday I went to see China Drum play at the Garage in Islington, London; its first gig for 13 years. Since The Undertones reformed in 1999, it’s been the band I’ve wanted to see get back together more than any other. Playing as a 5-piece, I can’t even begin to express the kick-ass awesomeness of this gig. The place looked packed out and despite a somewhat alarming number of 30-something couples, the mosh-pit was great. The band played most of “Goosefair”, plus a few other tracks. I was really glad they played “60 Seconds” from the second album. China Drum is the band that singlehandedly got me back into going to gigs after about ten years of not really having been to any. Without China Drum, my life would be an empty void, without meaning, without value, without soul. (Well maybe not totally, but I’m sure you can see what I’m getting at here.) It’s also a band that means a lot to me on a personal level and reminds me very specifically of a certain time in my life. When the guitar chimed at the start of “Simple” (possibly the best revenge song ever written), 13 years of crappyness in my life was distilled into two and a half minutes of pure, sonic anger. “And if you ever get a life, I hope that it’s in hell, I wish that I could kill you, I’d slit your ugly throat, I’d wrap you up in concrete and throw you from a boat.” Well… sometimes you need to offload a bit of life’s baggage. They ended the set with the best cover version by any band ever, Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”. I hope they don’t make this a one-off.
This film is about a right miserable little so and so. Then again, I suppose having a less than attentive (accordion playing) mother and living in a boring little town on the coast of Belgium, (which as everyone knows is boring at the best of times anyway) and being called Pim, is probably enough to make any young teenager miserable. This film follows Pim’s life for about seven years, as he falls for the handsome, older boy next door, Gino, who then basically dumps him for a girlfriend. He also gets nowhere with the hunky border Zoltan, who then proceeds to run off with his mother, leaving Pim on his own. Moving in with Gino’s family, the latter’s mother then dies. Rarely smiling, seemingly having no job, no friends and no prospects, Pim spends his time moping about doing nothing much at all, spreading an air of negative vibes wherever he goes; what Gino’s sister saw in him I’ll never know, but it was clearly more than he saw in her. There’s being “sensitive” and then there’s being “sullen”. Then there’s the whole, are they or are they not half-brothers, bit going on too. This film does its best to drag the viewer down to Pim’s level, with its unending vistas of meaningless days and general hopelessness. (It’s a shame Pim didn’t get to hear China Drum.) Despite its gay theme, this is more accurately a film about loneliness and rejection. It’s a metaphor for life, a few good parts adrift in a sea of disappointment. I guess that’s why I bought it. It’s the sort of thing Thomas Hardy would have written, if he’d penned gay-themed screenplays, set in the latter half of the 20th Century in Belgium. This is a movie which does an excellent job of capturing the futility of life; it’s well acted, the characters nicely rendered, it looks the part and it’s eminently watchable.
The music used in the film is mostly heard in the background, in pubs and on the radio, that sort of thing. The theme song, “Wooly Clouds”, works well as a quirky little song that fits the overall feel of the film. I really rather liked it actually. (And it really is spelt “Wooly”; it must be a Flemish thing.)
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Recommended for The Borg; in this case, resistance really is futile.
Top badass moment? Pim burning his shoe-box of ‘mementoes’ on the beach, before running off into the sea naked. I prefer to work out my frustrations with life in the mosh-pit, but hey, each to their own. Burning things is a classic way to make a break with the past; irreversible, final and violent. It’s always good to make a fresh start, just so you can bugger things up again from scratch.
Five years have passed since Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) was sent howling back to hell. But now, a new kid on Elm Street is being haunted every night by gruesome visions of the deadly dream stalker. And if his twisted soul takes possession of the boy’s body, Freddy will return from the dead to wreak bloody murder and mayhem upon the entire town. When “A Nightmare on Elm Street” made a killing, horror fans shrieked for more. Soon the diabolic Freddy was resurrected with a vengeance, along with some of the most terrifying special effects ever to splatter the screen. Look for Robert Englund minus his Freddy face in the opening sequence. He’s a real scream!
1985 – Certificate: 18 – USA
Rating Details: Strong violence and horror
I’ve often considered Boxing Day to be a sort of inferior sequel to Christmas Day. Well, okay, to tell the truth I’ve never actually thought that at all. In fact, until about two minutes ago the idea had never even crossed my mind. But there I was, sitting here and trying to think of something to write about this film and life in general and it just popped into my head. I lead such a dull and monotone existence that it’s not always easy to come up with interesting stuff to say on the spur of the moment; there’re only so many things I can comment on about the weather and the amount of e-mail I get at work. I did the washing-up about an hour ago, but that didn’t really give me the sort of emotional connection with the subject matter I was really looking for. I do wish I could learn to rinse up a glass after I’ve used it though, it would really reduce the amount of washing-up I need to do quite considerably; but I’ve never been one for doing that when there’s a clean supply in the cupboard ready for use. Even when I was young I was like this. I guess I was just a hardcore rebel, fighting the system, looking to piss off The Man, running through the dark streets at night, giving the finger to society; or maybe I was just lazy. Anyway, as I was saying, I’ve often considered Boxing Day to be a sort of sequel to Christmas Day; and all I really wanted to point out is that sequels are generally not as good as the originals, which is a bit like Boxing Day and Christmas Day. Which brings us to this film.
Freddy’s revenge eh? Sounds like serious stuff and to be fair at this point in the franchise Freddy was still the evil ne’er-do-well he started out as in the first movie; his later penchant for clever one-liners had yet to really take hold. Trouble is, he spends most of this film trying to physically escape from inside some young lad, rather than terrorising loads of teens. True, he does take time out to turn up at a party and trash it, but most of the time he’s inside rather confused teen Jesse. Then again, this is the gay Nightmare movie, so it’s perhaps not so surprising after all. If you view the film from this prospective it makes a lot more sense; if you’ve never done that, try it and see. (By which I mean watching the film; I’m not suggesting everyone goes out and has a homosexual experience just so they can understand this film better, although if you want that’s fine too.) I did quite enjoy the school bus scene the beginning, which does a clever job of turning a normal trip on a bus into a, em, nightmare one. Then again, I could have just as much ‘fun’, albeit at a far lower speed, travelling on a Night Bus in London in the early hours of a Saturday morning. All in all it’s a pretty average film, but the two main characters are quite engaging in their own way and I suppose you have to respect the makers for trying a slightly different angle this time around. And it does have Fred Krueger in it of course.
Recommended for those that watched “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, obviously.
1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations. Well I think it’s a cat but it’s not a very nice cat. I guess it suits Freddy though; I can’t really imagine him playing nicely with a cute kitten.
Top badass moment? It has to be Lisa Webber driving to the old steelworks in the middle of the night, to confront Freddie and rescue her crush Jessie. Not only is this a completely stupid thing to do under any circumstances, but he’s already told her he’s killed two people, including a mutual friend, whilst standing in front of her covered in blood; he’s also tried to kill her too, he’s trashed her home and when she tried to make out with him he wasn’t even into it. That’s true friendship for you and friendship is badass.
Today I bought myself a Zyliss Swivel Peeler! It has a chunky, ergonomic handle designed to fit comfortably in the palm, whilst the hardened steel blade gives it long-lasting performance. (I’ve got the black and white version, but they make a green one too; the colours are apparently inspired by nature.) It also has a sharp steel tip for the removal of blemishes and de-eyeing; just how fucking cool is that? It comes with a 5 year guarantee as well. I tried it on a potato tonight and OMG, it was like being let loose in a Bugatti EB 16.4 Veyron Super Sport (the world’s fastest production car) on a race track, after spending years in Reading’s rush-hour traffic in a Fiat Doblo (the car with the worst acceleration that’s currently available to buy in the UK; 0-60 in 21 seconds). I was in potato heaven. That’s worth £8 of anyone’s money. Anyway, my Zyliss Swivel Peeler is a product of Swiss “precision design”, made by a German company in China; but hey, it’s distributed in the UK, so that probably means we’re at the top of the potato peeler food chain… This movie is pure Australian and isn’t at the top of anything.
2009 – Certificate: Not Rated – Australia
This film was shot entirely in an old shed, in Australia, at night. It features a group of five young ladies who’ve decided to take revenge on a guy who’s been abusing one of them for years. He’s described and shown as having absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever; (cue not very funny feminist joke about all men fitting this description). The only real bit of social commentary in the film is a brief conversation about that fact that he doesn’t realise he’s done anything very wrong, which could have led somewhere a bit more interesting; but this is quickly thrown aside in an effort to get back to the ‘action’. Unfortunately, most of the ‘action’ consists of the group moralising over what it’s doing, rather than simply just doing it. Yes I want to do it, no I don’t want to do it… in the end I didn’t really care one way or the other. The acting wasn’t going to gain itself many Oscar nominations either. I did briefly start to feel sorry for Kat when she was describing how her life had been messed up, but most of the time I couldn’t care less about any of them. Once or twice the acting became so bad that I started to feel sorry for the actors themselves, rather than the characters. I have this film on Blu-ray. I think it’s the worst looking Blu-ray disc I’ve ever watched. I’m not sure if it was just filmed badly, or the crappiness was deliberately added post-production to give it a more ‘authentic, gritty’ feel, but it’s horrible. The sleeve even manages to get the sound mix hopelessly wrong; there’s nothing Dolby Surround 7.1 about this film. (Can you even get Dolby Surround 7.1 on consumer discs? I think not. “Toy Story 3” was the first film with Dolby Surround 7.1 sound and that didn’t come out until June 2010, the year after this film was released.) At its most gruesome, this movie does make you (guys anyway) want to cross your legs, very, very tightly, but most of the time you’ll just be getting angry because of the quality of the picture, the crappy lighting and all the moralising going on. The masks that are worn at one point will also baffle even the most astute viewer. (Really, what were they for?) Australia also appears to have the world’s most ineffective police force too. Sure, they turn up, but the time it took them to get into the shed was pitiful. Don’t expect anything much in the way of special effects either; it’s really not an especially gory film, although it does have its moments, just not very many of them. I did start to feel that the person who was suffering the most was me. It could have been a good film, but it ends up lost somewhere between torture porn and thriller and not in a good place either. “What happens in the barn stays in the barn.” I wish. And finally, the scene where a knife is sharpened on a sharpening stone uses entirely the wrong technique; all what was shown would achieve is to blunt the knife and trust me, it really needed to be sharp for what it got used for.
Recommended for people who want to experience real pain when viewing a film; just not the same sort of pain that’s on-screen.
No cats, decapitations or chainsaws. It does however feature someone called Kat; and there’s an amputation too. Looks really nasty.
Top badass moment? Well I guess this has to be Crystal and her strap-on. In a film with all the lighting and colour subtlety of the inside of a metal dustbin, with the lid on it, that bright splash of pink was very welcome.
One of the things that’s always puzzled me about trees is that you chop them down and then you chop them up. What’s all that about then? This film features no scenes in which trees play a significant part, (although one does have what you might call an important ‘supporting role’ at one point); there is, nevertheless, quite a lot of chopping up going on in it.
2007 – Certificate: R – USA
Rating Details: Violence (including rape), sexual content, language and substance abuse all involving teens
When I was 17/18, I spent most of my time either trying to learn things, or talking to my best mates, Jacob and Simon, about music and stuff. It’s true, sometimes life wasn’t much fun, but I don’t recall anyone being branded the “school slut” or any murders taking place amongst the school population. I guess everything really is bigger and, eh, ‘better’ in America. Despite the sometimes weak acting, this is a generally fun horror to watch. It’s especially fun if you like to see the clever, quiet girl at school (called Michelle in this example) get abused and then branded as the “School Slut”, before she takes revenge on her tormentors by killing them off, one by one; I know I do. I have to say I could see her point, bullies are bad. Her mum was the mother-from-hell too, with the film providing us with a master-class in how to be a bad parent. If I was Michelle I’d had dealt with her at the same time; in for a penny in for a pound as they say. Angelique Hennessy (Michelle) puts in a decent performance, some of the time anyway; but in truth all she really needs to do is look foxy (which she does) and let her unfeasibly long legs do the acting for her. (Why the cover art on the DVD doesn’t even seem to feature her, I have no idea.) She’s vegan too according to IMDB (the actress not the character), so as far as I’m concerned that means Michelle was just getting rid of a few carnivores, so we should all be thankful to her for that. What this film does do well is take its time giving the main characters personalities that aren’t all a carbon copy of one another and seem more like real people with real motivations, before the inevitable blood-bath starts up. It made watching them die more enjoyable! Oh yes, the main male character Aaron, looks an awful lot like Tim Wheeler from Ash, which was decidedly weird. On a technical note, it features a Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack. Where’d the base channel go? It did have a distinctly scratchy sound and would probably send any dogs unfortunate enough to hear it into a rage. By the way, don’t watch this and expect it to be very realistic, it will just spoil it for you if you do.
No cats or chainsaws, but 1 decapitation. The latter a one-swipe classic with a machete, in a full Jason Voorhees outfit. Excellent!
You know what sort of characters are featured in this film; you know what they get up to; so you know exactly the sort of demographic it’s recommended for.
Top badass moment? It was good to see Michelle, even during her killing spree, was taking the time to continue with her studies. A good education is very important and therefore badass; after all, you can’t be a serial killer forever.
We’ve had a lot of staff changes at work recently; many of my colleagues have left or had their jobs changed. Today the team I’m part of all went out for lunch. This was the last time we’ll all be in one place together, as maternity leave and restructures have taken their toll on our numbers and as such we’ll cease to exist at the end of this month. Of course, I’m sure everything in future will be great for those of us that remain and the new team we work in, but there’s something very ‘final and not in a good way’ about these sorts of things. I guess I’m just not very good at saying good-bye. I’m sure Captain Picard would have had something inspirational, positive and life-affirming to say if he’d been in the same position as I was, but then again he’s captain of the Federation’s flagship and I’m an ineffective middle-manager, hiding deep-down in a staff structure somewhere. I did enjoy my lunch though; we went to a local Indian restaurant and the food was yummy. This film is about revenge. I hope none of the people who’ve been restructured out of existence recently will follow John Creasy‘s example from this movie. However, I will personally be taking inspiration from his ‘can do’ approach and trying to reverse some of the changes that have taken place. I will probably fail (as I’m rubbish at my job and live in a fantasy world of movies and computer games), but I can at least try.
2004 – Certificate: 18 – USA
Rating Details: Strong violence
So right then, let’s just forget about realism first, it will make everything a lot less stressful from here onwards, trust me. Do you ever watch films that are ‘nearly great’? This is one of them. It’s 140 minutes long, but there’re over 30 minutes of deleted scenes on the DVD too, which include some that relate to a plot line that was entirely removed from the final version of the film. Despite its length, it doesn’t feel especially long when you’re watching it and it’s nice to see a movie that takes a bit of time to give the main characters’ some history and personalities, before things start to blow up or go bang. Denzel Washington is great as the burnt-out ex-CIA operative John Creasy. I didn’t like his character’s name though, as every time I heard it I was reminded of how bad I am at ironing things. I’ve never learnt to iron properly. As is also the case for drawing and leaning languages, (neither of which I have any attribute for whatsoever), I think there’s a part of the brain that’s exclusively dedicated to ironing that I don’t have. Mexico City, the setting for the film, comes across as a place that wouldn’t make it onto any sane person’s list of possible holiday destinations, as most of its population appear to be criminals, idiots, cowards or corrupt officials. Oh wait, it sounds a little bit like the House of Commons, so that’s okay then. But back to my original thought. Despite this being a good film, it never quite became a great one; I struggled to build up a real empathy for either of the two main characters. They were just a bit too good in that ‘Hollywood’ way to engage or deserve my full sympathy and support.
Recommended for anyone dealing with evil kidnappers, or looking for an alternative way to deal with organisational restructures.
No cats and no decapitations.
Top badass moment? When you’ve lost faith in humanity and set yourself on a path of self-destruction (so it says on the DVD’s sleeve), finding redemption has to be considered badass. So it involves torturing, killing and generally doing some pretty unpleasant things to people, but they were ’the bad guys’ so they probably deserved it, right? If only real life was that simple.
I seem to have developed some sort of repetitive strain injury in my left shoulder and arm. For the past five weeks they’ve been sore, but there’s no sign of any swelling and the pain tends to move about from day to day. I’ve actually lost a lot of the strength in my arm too, as a result of trying not to use it too much. In fact I’m going to go and see the doctor in the next week or two if it doesn’t improve. I always though as a conservationist, that one day I’d be shot by poachers, angry at my preventing them from harvesting elephant tusks, freeze to death whilst heroically planting one too many trees up a frozen mountain somewhere, or be poisoned by the ultra-rare and ultra-venomous bunga-woonga jungle snake that I was fighting to protect from extinction; (I made that name up by the way as a sort of plot contrivance to keep things moving here, so don’t bother Googling it). Sadly I seemed to have been ‘taken out’ by driving to too many meetings and writing too many e-mails. I guess this makes me a bit of a geek; but without the ‘clever attribute’; or the looks for that matter.
1992 – Certificate: Not Rated – Japan
This is another slightly bonkers Japanese film and the first in a loosely connected trilogy with the overall tagline “human beings are garbage”. Nice. Despite this, it’s more of a thriller than a horror, with a little comedy and romance thrown in too. The story sort of makes sense, but there’re plenty of blatant “but what about the…” moments in it too. Three young guys become friends after witnessing a random murder at a level crossing. They decide to hold a party, (well doesn’t everyone after witnessing a bloody, multiple stabbing of a schoolgirl)? They all try to find a woman to take to the party to impress the others, but only one manages to find someone; of the other two, one ends up handcuffed to fence by a prostitute (well I think she was one anyway) and the other gets so nervous that he’s sick on his would-be date, which rather puts her off going with him for some reason. Anyway, the lucky guy is on his way to the party with his date when they get attacked by a gang and of course she ends up dead. Well the new friends all get together to track down the baddies, which results in some suitably nasty shotgun action and some general all-around unpleasantness. The best/worst things to watch out for are the rather bizarre, entirely over-the-top maniacal laughter that most of the characters seemed to insist on emitting when they’re doing something particularly, em, maniacal; and the guy who plays the young geek (he’s the one that was sick on his date-to-be), who really does look and act like everyone’s idea of a Japanese geek. Great stuff. The music, when used, is surprisingly effective too. In a technical sense, my DVD of this film was pretty awful. The picture quality wasn’t very good (very over-exposed and washed out) and the sound was even worse. Not only was it mono, but the centre of the sound-stage was located somewhere near my birthday cards, rather than in the centre of the TV screen. (The cards, all three of them, which even after nearly three weeks I’ve still got displayed, are located somewhere off to the left of the telly.) It’s surely not asking too much for the sound to seem vaguely focused near the picture, rather than adjacent to a cruel reminder of how many friends I don’t have?
Recommended for would-be-geeks who want to see the real deal in action; plus anyone who collects recordings of horror-movie laugher; I guess there aren’t a lot of the latter.
No cats and no decapitations.
Top badass moment? It has to be the guy in the car at the end, complete with maniacal laughter and Proclaimers style glasses. Weedy geeks fighting back is always badass. The moral being, never push a geek, because in movies they’ll always kick your ass in the end.