Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Friday, 13 December 2013

Trashy Trailers #14

The ABC's of Death

26 letters, 26 directors. Ranging from the downright terrifying to the comically ludicrous with everything in between. That's the ABC's for you.

Enjoy!


Thursday, 21 November 2013

Film: Microwave Massacre

Excuse the early posting this week, am away this weekend so wanted to get this out there now! Enjoy!




Donald (Jackie Vernon) is sick and tired of eating the gourmet crap his wife, May, insists on cooking for him each day. Whilst his work colleagues eat cheese and baloney sandwiches, Donald has fresh prepared crab. He's had enough. All he wants is normal food but his wife, and her new microwave, continue to churn out the hated posh food until one day Donald snaps and batters May to death. Chopping her up and placing the bits into his freezer, Donald is finally free from the posh nosh ... but he then gets a surprise when he accidentally eats a piece of May; the surprise being that he actually rather enjoys what he eats! So begins the Microwave Massacre ...

This 1980's straight-to-video horror/comedy (I really don't know how to label it, to be a horror it should at least have some horror in it; to be a comedy, it should really contain some funny moments!) is everything you expect from the lowest end of movie production from a period when anyone with a camera could produce a film and get it distributed via the all new medium of home video.

The script is slow and jumpy, often moving from one main plot point to the next with little to no explanation (the ending even requires one of the actors to explain to the audience what just happened in case they missed it!), the acting is pretty terrible across the board and it seems that whoever was in charge of the boom used this film as an opportunity to feature it in every other scene! There is the typical helping of 80's video-crap nudity to try and titilate the, no doubt, bored audience but even the natural 80's breasts on show don't make this a watchable film (except perhaps for the lovely Marla Simon, in her only film role as The Knothole Girl). The one thing that perhaps pulls this movie out from the mire it otherwise finds itself in is that no-one in this film takes themselves, the script on any other aspect seriously, which does allow for an obvious tongue-in-cheek nod and wink to the audience, however even this self-aware jocularity wears thin very quickly and we're soon left hoping the characters start taking things seriously again just to get to the end of the film a little quicker.

Microwave Massacre is certainly not the sort of film you'll be able to pick up from your local video store (oops, came over all 80's there for a minute!) but if you ache for 80's video nonsense and an 'anyone can make a movie' attitude, then you might at least want to hunt this down for nostalgia values alone, otherwise I suggest living in blissful ignorance that the worst that can come out of a microwave is a Tesco Lasagne for one.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

V/H/S



Harking back to the 70's and 80's anthology films (Creepshow, Amicus' Asylum etc), V/H/S is the story of a group of young troublemakers who make their way to a seemingly empty house to find and steal a video tape. On arrival at the house they discover a dead body surrounded by video tapes and 'snow' filled monitors and proceed to search through the pile of tapes and around the rest of the house to find the one tape they had been sent to find. As the rest of the group search the attic and basement, a few stay behind and play some of the tapes which we the audience then get to see the content of. The whole thing is shot Blair Witch-style with hand-held cameras and every story is therefore seen through the point-of-view of the camera holder. This oft-used technique has proved rather hit-or-miss of late and is one which has to be done very well to succeed otherwise it just leaves the viewer with a headache and motion sickness.

I came away from this film with some fairly mixed feelings. The framing story (the search for the allusive VHS tape) really serves no purpose than to allow the introduction to each of the mini-stories in between and wasn't all that scary or enjoyable as a stand-alone piece. The five mini-stories range from average to down-right terrifying and thoroughly enjoyable and are detailed as such below:

Amateur Night

The first tale of five concerns 3 friends who are planning to hit the town and bring back an unsuspecting woman to help them film their own porn film. One of the guys (the most reluctant of the three) is wearing a pair of glasses with a camera built into them (I like the fact that this is filmed at a time when glasses cams exist, but everything is still stored on VHS ... anyway) to capture the sordid event as it takes place. After visiting a few bars, they end up in a club where they pick up 2 girls; one loud and very drunk, the other very shy and quiet and take them back to their hotel room. They very soon realise that this was a big mistake and, as they always say about murderers on the news 'it's always the quiet ones you have to watch!'.

In my opinion, Amateur Night is the best of the five films. It's tense, pretty scary at times, beautifully acted (especially by the amazing Hannah Fierman) and has some moments of beautifully terrifying effects which will leave you shocked and amazed that the film's creators could create something so well made with what must have been a small budget. The major down side to this segment is that it's difficult to see any of the other sections matching up to this furious beginning and, sadly, for the most part, they don't.

Second Honeymoon

Second Honeymoon follows Sam and Stephanie as they travel on vacation, staying at a hotel at night and visiting sites during the day. In my opinion this was the weakest of the five stories. There are one or two creepy moments in the hotel room but other than that it falls pretty flat. Even the twist ending doesn't do much to save this vignette and will probably be quickly forgotten by most viewers.

Tuesday the 17th

A ridiculous title and an obvious nod to what is to come, as 4 young people (a jock, a geek, a sexy blonde and a quiet dark haired girl) head out to a remote spot in the woods to swim in the lake and get high. A tale is told of a killer who once lurked in the woods and was never caught and, slowly but surely, each of the teens are picked off one by one. This section is very much filmed in a tongue-in-cheek style and actually has a few decent gore effects but still falls fairly flat out of the pack.

The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger

The fourth section of the movie and personally, my second favourite after Amateur Night. A young girl has a number of Skype conversations with her lover who lives in another State. She tells him that she is hearing strange noises during the night and thinks her apartment might be haunted. She has a strange lump in her arms and feels something under her skin. We watch as she Skype calls him each evening and takes him (and us) around her apartment as she hears strange noises.

This section was very much in the Paranormal Activity vein, with many of the same scare techniques, but despite its obvious nod to PA, it still works well. The Emily character is played beautifully by Helen Rogers and we feel her fear as she becomes more obsessed with the noises she hears.

I must admit that the only bit that lost me was the very end of the segment where the director has added a super-twist, but it was obviously over this reviewer's head. It only made sense after going away and reading about the scene and then re-watching. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who didn't get it, but on further reading, it suddenly becomes clear and is actually a clever ending.

10/31/98

That's the date of Halloween, for any non-American readers! 4 lads, in fancy dress (one with a NannyCam in his costume!?) go to a house for a Halloween party but somehow end up at the wrong address and stumble upon a Cult sacrifice.

This final segment begins a little slowly but very quickly all hell breaks loose and some terrifying and clever effects are used to show the arriving demons. Although this segment wasn't the best, its use of effects goes some way to redeeming it and allows the sections to end on a semi-high.

Overall, I would say that V/H/S really works because of 2 or 3 of the sections standing out and being far better than the rest of the film. As an idea, it's clever and interesting and must have been successful as V/H/S 2 followed soon after (not seen yet, but will watch and review shortly). Is it worth watching? I have to say yes, mainly for the Amateur Night and Emily sections which pull the film to a whole new level. As far as the overall production goes, as a low-budget indie production, it's one to put on the list for a dark night if you're after some good scares and some silly low budget bloodshed.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Spooky Isles Review - Captain Clegg (1962)

Another review from this blog's creator on The Spooky Isles. Why not pop along, have a read and maybe leave a comment / like on Facebook.




Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Trashy Trailers #13

One-Eyed Monster - the tale of an alien, intent on destruction, wreaking havoc on the cast and crew of a porn film. 

The rampaging detached member of Ron Jeremy sets out to slaughter buxom blondes in an isolated adult film shoot ... yeah, that pretty much sums it up!



Saturday, 9 November 2013

Grabbers



Grabbers is an Irish production, starring some well known faces (Richard Coyle, Russell Tovey) and concerns the arrival of some rather angry and blood-thirst sea creatures on the coast of a small Irish island. The Grabbers shoot long spiked tentacles at their prey, harpooning them and consuming their blood. Two local Garda (that's police to any of us non-Irish folk) must do battle against the invading Grabbers via the only means available ... getting the whole town very, very drunk!

Grabbers is very much in the Shaun of the Dead vein, relying on large helpings of humour to balance out the blood and decapitated heads and the (rather well done, considering its 4mil budget) CGI monsters. Whilst this isn't quite at a SotD level in terms of the final finished film, it works very well on all levels, intertwining a good script, with believable characters and a healthy dose of belly-laughs.

The assembled cast play a huge part in making this film the success it is (or surely will be with the cult following it is likely to garner) and are clearly enjoying their parts in its production. There are many recognisable faces (like the two mentioned above) and some lesser known but destined for greater things, such as Ruth Bradley (Garda Nolan).

Grabbers is an example of the sort of brilliant productions which can be made on these shores if the right money is available for investment, allowing acting and production talent to show their true potentials. Sadly it does seem that this movie (released last year (2012)) passed some of us by (myself included, I only heard about it recently, and that was only after stumbling upon it on Netflix whilst trying to find something half decent to fill an hour and a half) but if you get the opportunity, and enjoy your horrors in the Shaun/Black Sheep/World's End mould then this reviewer highly recommends you give this black comedy a go, just make sure you have a beer or two first though, to be on the safe side!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Trashy Trailers #12

This brilliant Troma production is fucked up and truly memorable, a must for any alternative film fans out there. 

Enjoy (although do please be aware that this 4 min trailer is NSFW and contains a few spoilers ... although to be honest, of course it's NSFW, it's Troma, and if you come to any Troma film expecting a plot anyway, then you are clearly deranged!) 

FATHER'S DAY!


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Spooky Isles Review - Asylum (1972)

Another review from this blog's own creator on The Spooky Isles. Why not pop along, have a read and maybe leave a comment / like on Facebook.




Monday, 28 October 2013

Pop over and meet our great friends at The Spooky Isles

Please pop over to the The Spooky Isles website where, amongst other great articles and reviews, you'll find this blog's very own author reviewing the 1939 classic The Dark Eyes of London.

Clicky the link to visit the site. http://www.spookyisles.com/2013/10/the-dark-eyes-of-london-1939-review/


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Trashy Trailers #11


In celebration of the Troma-tic week I've had so far (see what I did there!?)
CSAFR brings you this weeks Trashy Trailer straight from the wheelie bin of Tromaville.

Tromeo & Juliet


Friday, 18 October 2013

Escape from Tomorrow



If I'm being totally honest, it really doesn't matter what the storyline of Escape from Tomorrow is about because the story behind the filming will be what sells it to an audience. For those who do not know, Escape from Tomorrow is a bizarre fantasy-psychological horror, the majority of which was shot in and around Disney World and Disneyland in the US. The key point about all this is that the filmmakers did not have permission from Disney to film within their parks (or indeed distribute the film post-production) and so the cast and crew simply paid to enter the park each day and, under the guise of just being a normal family on a day out, set about filming all the scenes they needed as tourist went about their normal vacations around them.

The film centers around Jim, a family man, and his wife and two children. Jim is stressed because he has a whole world of troubles waiting for him when he gets home from his holiday so decides to make the most of his last day at Disney. From here, things start to get a little Lynchian, with It's a Small World figures faces twisting into ghoulish grins and even his own son transforming before his eyes (see the still form the trailer above).

Whilst the film is fairly slow-paced, it does allow us to witness Jim's slide into apparent madness in minute detail. The use of monochrome through is beautiful and adds a malevolence to the Disney park that would otherwise not be available had the director gone with a full colour film. The cast actually do very well with the bizarre situation they must have found themselves in and play their parts well, especially the two children who succeed in both being normal annoying small children and creepy aryan-esque characters.

If I were to pick out one flaw with this film, it would be the last 20 minutes or so, where we are completely immersed into the sci-fi/horror element of the film and it is obvious we are no longer in the theme park but on a set. I found myself becoming so used to seeing the sites and sounds of Disney that I found it a little jarring when suddenly we were so obviously no longer in the park, but maybe this is just a personal issue rather than one which will be troublesome to all viewers.

Providing that Disney do not suddenly go all out to pull the plug on this film (I'm sure the Distributors breathe a sigh of relief each day when a letter from them doesn't arrive on their doormat!) then this has the potential to become somewhat of a cult-classic down the line, if not for the film's story, then certainly for the voyeuristic value alone.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Trashy Trailers #10


This week's Trashy Trailer features zombies, sex and violence. 
The three key ingredients of every staple diet!  

Carl's Alternative Film Reviews brings you: 

Johnny Sunshine Maximum Violence


Video (like all the others on here!) NSFW.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Cherrybomb



Cherrybomb sees the cream of young British talent (Rupert Grint, Robert Sheehan & Kimberley Nixon) as young, bored and slightly sex-starved Irish teens desperate to rebel against authority in this story-heavy flick. Those hoping for action or over-the-top scenes may find that this film is a little conversation-heavy, but actually, what it lacks in action it more than makes up with creativity and great scriptwriting.

It was refreshing to see a film in which the director(s) actually direct, relying on technique and invention rather than effects and which the actors truly looks like they've thrown themselves into their characters, creating true chemistry, especially between Grint and Nixon). Cherrybomb was funny when it needed to be, touching at times and dark at all the right moments without ever over-complicating the story development.

I have heard some compare this film to Skins, with his stark portrayal of teen-angst but I think this comparison doesn't do Cherrybomb justice. Every aspect just seems to work and that's a rare treat and a fabulous tick in the box of British film-making. Yes, it's simple and yes, it's slow-paced but the combination of great performances, beautiful visuals and uncompromising realism makes it delightful  and original addition to home-grown cinema.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Hell Baby





From the creators of Reno 911! comes the brilliantly funny and totally bizarre Hell Baby. Soon-to-be new parents Vanessa and Jack move into an abandoned fixer-upper (known locally as the House of Death, the House of Blood etc etc!) and soon start to experience paranormal goings-on. Thus begins the next hour and a half of lunacy, blood and some quality slap-stick shenanigans!

Directors Lennon and Garant (who also star as 2 Catholic Exorcist performing priests) take the recent run of demon-possession movies and chuck in a bucket load of Scary Movie style visual gags and gross-out moments which thankfully, unlike many spoof movies of late, for the large part work well and raise a chuckle. There are also a good number of moments which will leave the more nervous viewers among you getting a scare from what you thought was a straight-up comedy.

The only real criticism I have is the rather ludicrous last few minutes of the film when the eponymous Hell Baby arrives and sadly things go a little down-hill in terms of quality, certainly the pro-life crowd among you may want to turn off at this point, go put the kettle on and make a nice cup of tea.

That said, no-one will be going into this movie expecting Rosemary's Baby, so you shouldn't let anything take away from what will be a funny, sometimes shocking and often nonsensical 98 minutes of mirth.

Right, must dash ... I can see the head crowning and things look like they're gonna get messy ...

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Exciting Horror News Featuring CSAFR's favourite Twisted Twins!

Hearing on the grapevine (and by grapevine, I mean exploding on Twitter and Facebook!) that the sequel to WWE horror See No Evil is to be directed by the Twisted Twins, directors Jen and Sylvia Soska.  


For those that haven't seen the original film, I've put a brief trailer above, but the film stars WWE wrestler Kane as a crazed killer and, though the original does have its flaws, the mixture of the 7 foot plus man-monster and these gifted girls, whose previous films (American Mary, Dead Hooker in a Trunk) have both been reviewed on this site, should make for a truly mouth-watering feature. Certainly more to follow as and when I get it.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Trashy Trailer #6

Something a bit different today, the music video for the main tune from the movie 
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (a guilty pleasure of mine!) Enjoy!



Saturday, 15 June 2013

Bath Salt Zombies



Why do I do this to myself, time and again? Subjecting myself to some of the craziest shit ever committed to celluloid (okay, more likely to VHS tape!). The answer is simple my friends and readers, I do it for you! What other reason could I have possibly sat down and watched the completely bonkers Bath Salt Zombies?

I should really have known, as this film started playing and I instantly spotted the main actor from Night of the Tentacles, that this was not going to go well! The jist of the story is this (and don't worry if you forget it, one of the characters handily re-caps it all for you) - a military-grade chemical is stolen and manufactured into bath salts, with the unfortunate side-effect of turning anyone who takes it into face-ripping maniacs. The main junkie of the piece (played by our friend mentioned above) spends most of the film wildly gurning like a demented Jim Carey, whilst jutting out his Bruce Campbell-esque chin at every given opportunity. The acting, like Tentacles, is poor and however the story is a little better, albeit still as shlocky and predictable. Also, like Tentacles, this film goes from the bizarre to the ridiculous by turning the main character into a rubber-mask wearing freak (with features not too dissimilar from the Shemps from the original Evil Dead movie).

I do, however, have to give credit where credit is due, as the animation used at the start and during the end of the film is actually very well done. It adds massively to the film and actually makes you forget what you're actually watching. The soundtrack is also pretty decent, full of heavy tunes which complement certain scenes extremely well.

This so-bad-it's-okay movie probably has to be seen to be believed, so I'm not going to dissuade anyone from watching it. It's certainly a notch up the post from Tentacles so at least I seem to be heading in the right direction - things can only be looking up, right?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Trashy Trailers #5

Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Vixens

A true gem and one of Russ Meyer's best. Classic smut! Enjoy!



Saturday, 18 May 2013

Airborne




A group of strangers take the last flight to JFK during a snow-storm and end up facing a shit-storm of trouble on the seemingly jinxed flight. Airborne features some of the UK's best known and most up and coming talents including Alan Ford (perennial Guy Richie favourite) and Gemma Atkinson (now, a lot of you may criticise Gemma's acting skills, but personally I have a soft spot for her and reckon she's got good thing in front of her ... don't be crude!) and then, of course, there's Mark Hamill!

Without giving too much away, the film has (as we find out) two plots running side by side and for the most part it's not too badly done, but the inclusion of the second plot (the supernatural side), I feel, ruins anything that has gone before. There actually was no need to give it a supernatural twist as it takes a decent (and I'm not saying good, or great, I'm just saying decent) idea and then takes it into the realms of stupidity. It's unfortunate as I was fully supporting the film until around the hour mark.

The thing is, Airborne is not a terrible movie, it's not even a bad movie, it's just not a good movie. So many times writing this blog I've stumbled upon a film that show so much potential (despite low budgets, poor scripts / actors, whatever it may be) and then they let themselves down before they reach the final hurdle and this film sits nicely in this category.

Probably best left for the die-hards amongst us and those wanting to be just a little more terrified of flying than they already are!!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Trashy Trailers #4


CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH

My all time favourite TROMA movie, and your Trashy Trailer of the day. Enjoy!





Saturday, 4 May 2013

Night of the Tentacles



David, a young, single graphic artist who lives in a flat surrounded by neighbours who fuck all hours of the day and night or spend all their time sat on the toilet as part of a liquid diet, gets a little over excited whilst listening to his heavily pregnant downstairs neighbour (Esther - the love interest) masturbate in her room and has a heart attack (well, when I say Alternative Film, I MEAN ...). Arriving home after a lengthy hospital stay, David meets with the Devil who offers him a new heart in exchange for his soul. The small print to this deal being that David must feed the heart (which is a one-eyed monster with razor sharp tentacles that lives in a box in David's closet) with fresh human meals. Thus begins Night of the Tentacles!

Described as a 'Faustian tale', this film smacks of poorly made 'Little Shop of Horrors' re-make (The heart even screams 'Feed Me!' Audrey II style) but without much of the humour or real horror of LSoH. Okay, I fully understand this film has its limits having only cost the makers $1500 to make, and the makers obviously had their tongues planted firmly in cheek, but the constant ludicrous gurning from David, added to some pretty questionable acting and large parts of the film so dark that my laptop brightness button gave up the ghost, then decorated with the cherry on top, the appalingly cheap and pointless heart-creature, leaves much to be desired.

As always, I feel I should find something good in even the worst of films, and I guess in this case it would be that there were a couple of scenes or throw-away lines that made me chuckle, but that's hardly a life-saver for this amateur crap. I did also like the Esther character (played by Nicole Gerity), she had something sweet and pleasing about her character which made me warm to her in an otherwise chilly environment.

My suggestion for you horror lovers out there is to give this one a wide berth, unless you're big into masturbating pregnant goths or remote controlled one-eyed boglins. Move along, nothing to see here.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Trashy Trailers Part #3

SENSITIVE NEW AGE KILLER

Straight from down under, some Ozploitation to liven up your Wednesday trash viewing.



Saturday, 27 April 2013

Rose



Taking a refreshing break from my recent zombie fodder, I picked up a copy of Rose and eagerly sat down to see what was going on in the UK film scene at the moment. Rose follows the heartbreaking roller-coaster ride of the eponymous female character and her young daughter who are under the control of cruel gang boss Blondie. Struggling to survive in 'Hellville', a place described as "an unspoken world that exists near you", Rose struggles to protect her daughter and is subjected to horrific events that spiral out of her control, culminating in a violent showdown.

This blogger must confess that the first 10 minutes of this film were a little confusing, set in another country, where a series of characters which will we never see again are introduced - I actually came away from the film not really knowing quite what the purpose of this first section was and feeling that it could have been removed completely with little loss to the rest of the production. Anyway, once we settle back into life in Hellville, things quickly get dark and gritty, and the performances of the cast (especially Helen Clifford as Rose, who was excellent, and the ever wonderful Scream Queen Eileen Daily) go a long way to making this film the success it eventually turns out to be. I was quickly gripped by the storyline and the plight of our heroine Rose. I was also left reeling by some of the tortuous circumstances she finds herself helplessly trapped in.

Lets get things straight, Rose is not a big budget thriller, it's dark, dirty and the sound quality leaves a little to be desired at times (although that may have just been my DVD) but despite all this, it's impressive, gripping, harrowing and, ultimately, beautifully conceived and delivered. It smacks of the desperation of real life and the drudgery and degradation that many must face on a daily basis and it packs a punch as it does so.

This reviewer suggests, if you like your films with a salty realism and dank criminal underworld violence, then this may just be the film for you.

For more info on Rose, please visit: http://rose-thefilm.webs.com/

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Trashy Trailers Part #2

ZOMBIE ASS - TOILET OF THE DEAD

Not actually seen this one yet (as not currently available with Eng Subs) but cannot wait until I get the chance. Looks the bum ... I mean bomb!



Saturday, 20 April 2013

Creepozoids




Straight out of the so-bad-it's-good (but actually really bad) bargain bin this week is the ridiculously titled Creepozoids. Set in the long distant future of 1998 (oh boy!), a nuclear war has ravaged the Earth as we know it, leaving small pockets of human life battling for survival against mutant beings. A rag-tag group of survivors (including perennial Scream Queen Linnea Quigley) fall out of the acid rain into a long abandoned building. They very quickly realise that all is not right with their safe-house as they are picked off, one by one, by a rubber-suited mutant baddie!

The odd thing that really stuck me about this film is the contrast in it's special FX. The scenes of the team members 'melting' are actually really rather well done for a B Movie schlock-fest, but unfortunately it seems like the movie then ran out of budget and rubber-suited monsters, giant cuddly toy rats and a modificated dolls seem to have been the only choice to finish getting this film made. The acting is, putting it mildly, appalling and the script is less coherent than Lindsay Lohan on her way out of an 'All you can Drink' cocktail bar. By far my favourite moment is when the hero stops his team from firing on the mutant exclaiming 'Don't shoot, I don't think he means us any harm' and no sooner has he finished the sentence than he is blasting away with the rest of them.

Of course, people will say 'But it's a B Movie, it's meant to be bad' to which I would counter with 'Really? You know you should never start a sentence with But ...' ... But seriously, yes, it is a B Movie, and yes, it is meant to be bad, and it is, very successfully I might add. There is, however, a distinct line between bad and BAD and Creepozoids very quickly meanders into the latter. The final battle is laugh-out-loud ludicrous and if you're expecting a Sixth Sense style twist ending, you're going to be very disappointed, the makers clearly just ran out of money, ideas and enthusiasm. Having said all that of course, I'd still rather watch this car-crash than Twilight any day of the week!!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Trashy Trailers Part #1

The first in my mid-weekly trashy trailers section. This will consist of films I've seen that fall into the 'trashy' (in a good way!) category, and as such sit nicely on my blog, but I may not have got round to blogging about yet, or indeed may never bother, but still recommend to you, the loyal blog readers! Enjoy!

RED TO KILL



Tuesday, 16 April 2013

News: Wednesdays = Trashy Trailers Day!

Tomorrow sees the start of my mid-weekly 'Trashy Trailers' corner. Each Weds I'll try and get out one of the best trashy trailers (in this case 'trashy' does not necessarily mean bad!) from alternative films around the world to whet the appetite, ready for the new post coming out on the Saturday. Tomorrow's trailer comes from Hong Kong and takes trash to the nth degree! More to follow soon ...

Saturday, 13 April 2013

American Mary



Having already reviewed, and loved, the Soska Twins previous work Dead Hooker in a Trunk earlier in the blog, I excitedly anticipated watching their newest release American Mary ... and to say I was not disappointed was an understatement. This beautifully dark body modification horror delivered above and beyond the punch I expected. Medical student Mary Mason is lured by easy money into the world of underground surgery. From here things get dark, very dark, and this film moves from one bloody brilliant sinister twist to the next.

The hype surrounding this film was rightly deserved as the Soska Twins deliver many moments of uncomfortable tension to leave audiences squirming in their seats or hiding behind their hands, but this is not to say that the film is simply a gore-fest or blood bath, far from it. It's brilliantly acted by Katherine Isabelle as the eponymous Mary and it is clear that the Soska's have put as much effort into production as they have into the script and shocks.

Now I know that people will automatically try and slap the 'torture porn' label on this film, but it's so much more than that. To simply call Mary torture porn would be like calling Charles Manson 'a bit naughty'! Yes it's shocking, yes it's dark and yes it opens our eyes to a world we may not have previously been privy but it is so much more than that. It's an auteur's work and it deserves the credit and the acclaim it has received so far. I have said it before, and I'll say it again, the Soska Twins are destined for big things.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Titicut Follies



Breaking from my recent norm or chillers and zomb flicks, I venture into the murky world of documentary film to bring you a review of Frederick Wiseman's Titicut Follies (1967). Probably most famous for being the first film in American history to be banned on grounds other than immorality, obscenity or national security.

Follies is filmed at the Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and follows a number of inmates as they go about their daily lives within the walls of the hospital. Unfortunately for Bridgewater, the resulting film highlighted a number of harsh treatments by guards on inmates and an obvious lack of knowledge from doctors within the institution as to the best ways to manage the inmates behaviours. Eventualy this led to a court case and the eventual banning of the film from public view. As with most films that others have attempted to sweep under the carpet, it garnered a cult status, leading many people to try and track down copies for its notoriety.

Wiseman clearly, from the outset, works with what little equipment he had available to capture as much footage as he could, as quickly as he could. It is obvious that the finished film is sculpted around the footage recorded, rather than following a set plan. It is shocking and often difficult to watch and Wiseman does not pull any punches. Death, humiliation and despair are shown in equal measures and it is clear to see, back in a period of change and unrest, why officials would be keen to keep this film out of the public eye.

Follies is recommended to those who work or train in the mental health industry as an example of the 'bad old days', but also to those with a fairly strong disposition for real life mistreatment and degradation. I'm unsure, as to this point, if Titicut Follies ever obtained an official release, I'm pretty sure it never did (although Wikipedia seems to suggest otherwise), but it's not that hard to track down if you try.



Saturday, 30 March 2013

Osombie



The tag-line of this film proclaims 'Bin Laden will die ... AGAIN' ... and from that point onwards you should pretty much know what you're getting! Osombie tells the tale of a group of NATO Special Forces, working in Afghanistan to defeat the recently risen dead who include one flesh eating Bin Laden in their ranks.

This films works as one big advertisement for the might of the US of A, showing pretty much every other nationality within the film being killed off quickly, leaving only the American stars to save the day. Nothing wrong with a bit of national pride, I hear you say, well, perhaps not, but this takes pride to a whole new level.

The actual zombie make up isn't all that bad, but the effects and script fall flat time and again, leaving a pretty obvious and dull movie with a rather trite and nicely wrapped up ending on the cards. We have sword wielding soldiers and ludicrous guys who simply use their karate skills to get rid of the zombs. Osombie is obviously trying to be different from the other flesh-eaters out there, but it ends up looking like every other zombie flick that has been rolled off the production line in recent years.

Overall, an interesting idea (the trailer actually makes it looks half decent) but a poor script and over-reliance on CGI reduce Osombie to little more than a pro-American love-in with few half-decent make-up effects thrown in along the way. Probably one for the zombie enthusiasts or those who drunkenly stumble upon it on late night horror channels.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Bates Motel (TV)


Ok, so this is veering off the well-trodden path, into slightly new teritory for my blog, but I've just finished watching episode one of the new American show Bates Motel and felt, through tenuous links, that it deserved a little write up on here. Do forgive me if you feel I have in any way sullied what you came to see!

Bates Motel is, any fan of Psycho would suspect, a story concerning a certain Mr Norman Bates. This particular series centers around the young Norman and his mother, who move into the famous motel, after the death of Norman's father. The twist with this series is that Norma Bates (played very well by Vera Farmiga who perfectly captures the neurotic, but tough Mother) and Norman are thrown head-first into the 21st Century, with the views of the decrepit house and motel we all know and love, juxtaposed against young Norman texting on his iPhone and going to house parties. The first time you see something modern in this series, it rather knocks you sideways and it does take a little time to recover, especially if you are a fan of the original movie. I guess this was the plan of the Director, to shake the viewer out of the sleepy expectation of prior knowledge and drop us into something unexpected. There are also a couple of quite heavy scenes for an American pilot, which makes me think that things will get darker as the series progresses.

Obviously my take on this series is limited, having only seen episode one (I think, at the time of writing, we are only up to the release of episode 2 or 3 anyway) but I do feel that this has some potential, especially as we are left with a decent taste of things to come at the end of this episode.

It's always a risk to take something iconic and beloved and try and change it, but that is the route we take with Bates Motel, and only time will tell if it succeeds. I will endeavor to update you all further down the line (especially readers in the UK, where there is currently no release planned for this series, although this will undoubtedly change in time) and let you know if this is a success or a stinker.

Mother! Oh God, mother! Blood! Blood! 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Redd Inc.



This obvious Saw wannabe (also known in some areas as 'Inhuman Resources') sees demented boss Thomas Reddmann (played by Nicholas Hope of Bad Boy Bubby fame) capture a group of people related to his previous murder trial. Chained to a desk, each must work to stay alive.

Despite some poor reviews from certain sites, I actually found Redd Inc. an interesting and, at times, clever little psychological chiller. It includes a great ensemble cast (including the not-particularly-well-known Kelly Paterniti, who is excellent as the main female character) who do their best to act terrified whilst chained to an office desk. There is also some pretty decent gore (well, what do you expect, Tom Savini was the supervisor after all!) from what is, essentially, a low budget ozploitation flick.

This film could very easily have been lost amongst the numerous Saw rip-offs but somehow it manages to pull its head above the water and stands up well as its own film, despite the fact it will never be able to shake off the obvious comparisons to it's bigger brother.

For those of you who enjoyed the Saw films (okay, so nobody really enjoyed them all, but the first couple were pretty good right?) then you can't go far wrong by getting a copy of Redd Inc. and settling back to enjoy some of the elements that made the first installment in the Saw franchise a decent chiller.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Apologies for a poor show recently!

It's been a busy last month or two, meaning something had to give, and unfortunately that thing was this blog, for which I must apologise! I fully intend, now life is a little more 'normal', to get my finger out and my viewing eyes back in and hope to have some freshly dug posts for you all real soon. Watch this space - God help us in the future ...


Sunday, 6 January 2013

Let's Scare Jessica to Death



Let's Scare Jessica to Death is a hippy-trippy 70's horror, focusing on the eponymous Jessica, who is due to move into her new house with husband Duncan and friend Woody. On arrival, they meet squatter Emily who has been living in the house whilst it's empty. We discover that Jessica has recently been released from a psychiatric hospital and she soon begins to see young girls running around graveyards and hear creepy whispering voices. Chuck in an out of left-field trip down Vampire Alley and you have all the ingredients you need for this nostalgic little chiller.

There is little to no gore in this Gothic chiller, as would probably be expected in a film from this era, but it is beautifully photographed and there are a few decent chills and some great acting in parts, especially from Mariclare Costello as the mysterious Emily. The twist, for what it is, is pretty obvious from the get-go, but this doesn't really detract anything from the overall atmosphere.

This blogger highly recommends LSJtD as a lesson in how 70's chiller makers should have done it. Sit back, grab an apple from the orchard and enjoy.