Thinner (1996) review

Thinner posterDirector: Tom Holland

Starring: Robert John Burke, Joe Mantegna, Michael Constantine, Kari Wuhrer, Lucinda Jenney

“Justice ain’t about bringing back the dead, white man. Justice is about justice. Your friend the policeman, your friend the judge, they make sure nothing happen to you. They keep you safe. But I make sure something happen to them. That justice, white man. Gypsy justice.” (Tadzu Lempke, Thinner)

Here’s a hell of a fact. At the time of writing, there have been a total of 81 films or TV shows based on one of Stephen King’s novels or short stories.

Some are fantastic (The Shining, Pet Sematary, Carrie). Others are The Lawnmower Man.

And then there’s Thinner, which lies somewhere in between. It’s never gone down as a classic Stephen King adaptation, and rightly so, but that doesn’t mean it’s a massive stinker either. Continue reading Thinner (1996) review

Creep (2004) review

Creep posterDirector: Christopher Smith

Starring: Franka Potente, Paul Rattray, Kelly Scott, Sean Harris

“It sounds to me like some vigilante train driver got a wee bit carried away. The way I see it, you should be thanking the man, not running away from him.” (Jimmy, Creep)

The London Underground can be a bit pish sometimes. I’ve lived here for nine years and feel I am qualified to say this.

In fact, I’m writing this review on a Northern Line train just now and there’s an upended Chicken Cottage box on the ground, its delicious greasy goodness spilled all over the floor as an offering to the Tube gods.

But much as it leaves to be desired, it’s fair to say it could still be a hell of a lot worse. I’m talking “home to a hideously deformed hermit who kills passengers” worse.

Just in case you can’t imagine that premise, Creep is helpfully here to show us exactly what it would be like in unflinching detail. Continue reading Creep (2004) review

The Last Exorcism Part II (2013) review

The Last Exorcism Part II posterDirector: Ed Gass-Donnelly

Starring: Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, Spencer Treat Clark, David Jensen

CHRIS – “Is it true that you’ve never had a boyfriend?”
NELL – “What? Who’s been saying that? It’s none of anyone’s business.
CHRIS – “No, I just… I think you’re really pretty. And…”
NELL – “No. No boys. I was pregnant though. But I think they took it away. Well, at least I thought I was. See, I told you I was nuts.”

In 1999, The Blair Witch Project was released. Masquerading as an unfinished documentary and winning audiences over with its found-footage style camerawork, it was massively succesful.

A year later, the inevitable sequel Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was released. Gone was the fake documentary gimmick and the first-person viewpoint, replaced with the typical glossy, commercial, high-budget presentation the first film was praised for subverting.

Most people despised the new direction the series had taken, and Blair Witch 2 was roundly panned. I actually quite liked it, but that’s for another time.

Why am I giving you this seemingly pointless history lesson? Because The Last Exorcism Part II is this decade’s Blair Witch 2. This time, however, I agree with the general consensus: it’s shite. Continue reading The Last Exorcism Part II (2013) review

Election (1999) review

Election posterDirector: Alexander Payne

Starring: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein, Jessica Campbell

“Dear Lord Jesus, I do not often speak with you and ask for things, but now I really must insist that you help me win the election tomorrow because I deserve it and Paul Metzler doesn’t, as you well know.” (Tracy Flick, Election)

With Reese Witherspoon recently being nominated for a second Academy Award for her performance in Wild, I thought it would be a good time to review my favourite of her films.

Writer/director Alexander Payne is perhaps best known for his Oscar-winning Sideways or his Oscar-nominated Nebraska.

Back when both films were still a twinkle in his eye, though, he wrote and directed Election, a brilliantly sharp satire about classroom politics. Continue reading Election (1999) review

Puppet Master 4 (1993) review

Puppet Master 4 posterDirector: Jeff Burr

Starring: Gordon Currie, Chandra West, Ash Adams, Guy Rolfe

“The magic that gives my puppets life was stolen from a tribe of ancient Egyptian sorcerers, who pledged their allegiance to the demon lord Sutek.” (Andre Toulon, Puppet Master 4)

Although Full Moon Pictures had decided by Puppet Master III that its titular terrors were better as protagonists than antagonists, there was still a problem: they still killed humans.

Granted, these humans were evil Nazis, but even so: if only there was a way to have them killing something else rather than people to ensure their moral standards were of the utmost quality.

In fact what if, instead of humans, they could fight other little puppet-sized creatures? Ones that had maybe, I don’t know, been sent to Earth by a demon who looked like a Power Rangers reject?

Enter Puppet Master 4. Continue reading Puppet Master 4 (1993) review

A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) review

A Nightmare On Elm Street 4 posterDirector: Renny Harlin

Starring: Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, Tuesday Knight, Andras Jones, Danny Hassel, Ken Sagoes, Rodney Eastman

“You shouldn’t have buried me. I’m not dead.” (Freddy, A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master)

When A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 was released in 1987, the character of Freddy Krueger truly took off and started to become a household name.

This was partly thanks to his character’s evolution which saw him become more of an anti-hero than an outright villain.

Whereas in the first film he was a strictly sinister creation – a child murderer stalking the dreams of those whose parents killed him – by the third movie Freddy was busting out one-liners and making people scream with laughter rather than terror.

The inevitable fourth film, knocked together in less than a year, continued this trend by offering an even more wisecracking, fun-loving Freddy… with the fright factor taking another knock as a result.

However, as a shameless Nightmare On Elm Street devotee, I’m not fussed in the slightest. Hey, if you want objectivity, visit the BBC. Continue reading A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) review

The Phantom Of The Opera (1989) review

The Phantom Of The Opera 1989 posterDirector: Dwight H Little

Starring: Robert Englund, Jill Schoelen, Alex Hyde-White, Bill Nighy

“I don’t believe in phantoms or legends, Mr Dutton, but I do believe in facts. And the fact is, this man – this creature – is still alive. Still alive and living under your opera.” (Hawkins, The Phantom Of The Opera)

There have officially been ‘oodles’ of retellings of The Phantom Of The Opera over the years (I counted: that’s the exact figure). Is this 1989 offering the best?

Put it this way: is the square root of 12,433 the same as the number of men in a standard football team?

No, is what I’m saying.

This ‘modern’ version of Gaston Leroux’s novel switches Paris for London and tries to turn what’s supposed to be a dark romance into more of a slasher movie, with mixed results. Continue reading The Phantom Of The Opera (1989) review

The Last Exorcism (2010) review

The Last Exorcism posterDirector: Daniel Stamm

Starring: Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Iris Bahr, Louis Herthum, Caleb Jones, Tony Bentley

“I’m not comfortable that we’re in a house with someone who’s doing pictures of my head being chopped off.” (Daniel, The Last Exorcism)

In most exorcism movies, a priest has to convince a skeptical parent that their child doesn’t have mental issues and an exorcism ritual is needed to save them.

The Last Exorcism is interesting because it does the complete opposite. Instead, it’s the priest who doesn’t have faith in the ritual and it’s the parent who’s adamant it should take place. Continue reading The Last Exorcism (2010) review

Cavegirl (1985) review

Cavegirl posterDirector: David Oliver

Starring: Daniel Roebuck, Cynthia Thompson, Darren Young, Saba Moor-Doucette

“Look, you wouldn’t happen to know what century it is, would you? See, I’m lost, and you don’t speak any English, and how would you like to sit on my face?” (Rex, Cavegirl)

Ah, the ’80s. A more innocent time, a time when it was perfectly acceptable to make a movie in which a nerd went back in time and spent the entire length of the film trying to shag a cavegirl.

It’s probably safe to say this sort of shit wouldn’t fly these days, so let’s travel back to a time when neanderthal men thought with their knobs instead of their brains. Yes, I’m still talking about the ’80s. Continue reading Cavegirl (1985) review

Snowpiercer (2013) review

Snowpiercer posterDirector: Bong Joon-ho

Starring: Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swanton, John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremner

“Order is the barrier that holds back the flood of death. We must all of us on this train of life remain in our allotted station. We must each of us occupy our preordained particular position.

“Would you wear a shoe on your head? Of course you wouldn’t wear a shoe on your head. A shoe doesn’t belong on your head. A shoe belongs on your foot. A hat belongs on your head. I am a hat. You are a shoe. I belong on the head. You belong on the foot. Yes? So it is.” (Mason, Snowpiercer)

If I had a penny for every ‘the end of the world has come and only a small number of survivors remain’ film I’d seen, I’d have about 16p to my name.

Snowpiercer takes that tired plot device, makes things interesting by sticking everyone on a train, then asks “how much would you fucking have now, Chris?”

The answer, of course, is 17p. Regardless, my point is that Snowpiercer puts a new twist on an overused idea and succeeds for the most part. Continue reading Snowpiercer (2013) review

Reviews of films that are slightly less than sane

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