Category Archives: Reviews

The Lost Boys (1987) review

The Lost BoysDirector: Joel Schumacher

Starring: Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Dianne Wiest, Jami Gertz

“Look at your reflection in the mirror. You’re a creature of the night, Michael, just like out of a comic book! You’re a vampire, Michael! My own brother: a goddamn, shit-sucking vampire. You wait ’til mom finds out, buddy!” (Sam, The Lost Boys)

If you want to see how to do a teenage vampire movie properly, here’s a handy guide. Step one – take the Twilight films (either DVD or Blu-ray format). Step two – shove them right up your arse. Step three – watch The Lost Boys instead.

It may be 25 years old now but The Lost Boys is still a fantastic film, with a superb script and a brilliant ’80s rock soundtrack. It’s telling that of the many “teens as vampires” movies released since, only a tiny handful of films (such as Near Dark) have come close to matching it for quality.

The Lost Boys
“Hmm? Oh, um, we’re just taking our girlfriends to bed. No, they’re just sleeping. They definitely haven’t been drugged or anything, HAHAHAHAHA.”

It tells the story of Sam Emerson (Corey Haim), whose parents’ divorce sees him moving to the small beach town of Santa Carla along with his mum and brother Michael (Jason Patric). Eager to get involved with the local nightlife, Sam and Michael go to a party where Michael becomes enamored with a girl called Star.

Unfortunately, Star hangs around with a dodgy crowd, a crowd who don’t like the daylight, if you catch my drift. They’re not fans of garlic, if you get me. They can’t see themselves in mirrors, if you follow what I’m saying. They’re fucking vampires. So, in an attempt to get in with the in crowd (led by a young Kiefer Sutherland) and win Star’s heart, Michael decides to join the gang and become a vampire too. Continue reading The Lost Boys (1987) review

The Rise And Fall Of A White Collar Hooligan (2012) review

Director: Paul Tanter

Starring: Nick Nevern, Simon Phillips, Rita Ramnani

“Being a hooligan isn’t a matter of life or death, it’s much more complicated than that.” (Mike, The Rise And Fall Of A White Collar Hooligan)

Don’t be fooled by the title of this one, because The Rise And Fall Of A White-Collar Hooligan is as much about the ins and outs of football hooliganism as The Simpsons is about the inner workings of a nuclear power plant. Yes, you do see the odd spot of layabout soccer yobbery but in total it takes up around 45 seconds of screen time. In reality, it’s actually a film about a large-scale credit card scam, though obviously that idea isn’t as immediately appealing as football hooliganism so that’s why it isn’t called The Rise And Fall Of A Cash Machine Scammer.

Guy Ritchie’s remake of Harry Potter was certainly a change of tone

The film tells the story of Mike, a football thug who’s down on his luck and doesn’t have much money. His far-too-understanding girlfriend is trying her best to keep his spirits up but he realises it’s only a matter of time before she gives up on him. Things look up when Mike meets Eddie, an old mate of his, during one of his hooligan outings. Eddie tells him about a possible dodgy deal that he’s involved in, one that could make Mike rich if he fancies a piece of the action too. Continue reading The Rise And Fall Of A White Collar Hooligan (2012) review

Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers (1989) review

Halloween 5 posterDirector: Dominique Othenin-Girard

Starring: Donald Pleasance, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Wendy Foxworth, Don Shanks

“I prayed that he would burn in Hell, but in my heart I knew that Hell would not have him.” (Dr Sam Loomis, Halloween 5)

While Halloween 4 wasn’t the greatest slasher ever made, it did at least have a cracking ending that suggested the inevitable fifth film would take the series in a twisted new direction. This makes Halloween 5 all the more frustrating then, because not only is it a pile of pish but its predecessor had practically spelled out how it could have done it better.

(spoiler alert for Halloween 4 in the next paragraph, folks)

Halloween 5
“Don’t worry, I’m sure he won’t stab me. No, I haven’t seen the other Halloween films. Why do you ask?”

Halloween 4 ended with young Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) going a tad mental and stabbing her foster mother while dressed up in a clown outfit, much like young Michael Myers did at the start of the original Halloween. Many took this to mean that Jamie was going to follow in her uncle’s footsteps and continue his killing spree. Instead Halloween 5 decides that her foster mum survived and Jamie was sent to a children’s psychiatric hospital, where she recovered. Bottlers.

(spoilers end now, innit)

When we join Jamie at the start of Halloween 5, she’s been in a psychiatric hospital for the past year. The trauma of the events in the previous film have led to her losing her voice, but her foster sister and her friend Tina (the annoying Wendy Foxworth) visit her regularly to bring her gifts and the like. She’s also got a little friend, a fellow nine-year-old called Billy who’s clearly trying to get fired in even though she’s not much of a talker. Good man Billy, beggars can’t be choosers. Continue reading Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers (1989) review

Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers (1988) review

Halloween 4 posterDirector: Dwight H Little

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Lloyd, Ellie Cornell, George P Wilbur

“We’re not talking about any ordinary prisoner, Hoffman. We are talking about evil on two legs.” (Dr Sam Loomis, Halloween 4)

While Halloween III: Season Of The Witch wasn’t a bad movie by any means (in fact, judging by the films to follow it was one of the better entries in the series), many moviegoers were enraged when they found that the film they’d gone to see didn’t continue the story of evil stalker Michael Myers and was instead a completely different tale about a nutjob plotting to kill children with cursed Halloween masks powered by Stonehenge. A brilliant (if fucking insane) idea, sure, but you can understand people’s annoyance at paying for a Halloween film and not getting to see Michael Myers.

Halloween 4
“Oh, hello there. Um, this is awkward. You weren’t supposed to know I was here. Boy, is my face white.”

As explained in the Halloween III review, this was mainly down to John Carpenter’s wish to make the Halloween movies a collection of unrelated stories all based on Halloween. The first two films would be the Michael Myers story, the third would be the one about the cursed masks, the fourth would be something completely different again. When the fans turned on this idea and the studio told Carpenter they wanted a standard slasher with Michael Myers in it he decided “fuck you then” and ditched the series altogether.

Determined to to make some serious greenbacks with a Myers return, producer Moustapha Akkad decided to start work on Halloween 4, being sure to include “The Return Of Michael Myers” as part of its title to ensure people who’d abandoned the series knew they were getting him this time. In a rush to beat the writer’s strike of the late ’80s, the entire film was written in 11 days. The result is a movie that, while not great, did a decent job of bringing back “The Shape”. Continue reading Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers (1988) review

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) review

Pee Wee's Big Adventure posterDirector: Tim Burton

Starring: Paul Reubens, Elizabeth Daily, Diane Salinger, Mark Holton

PEE-WEE – “There’s a lotta things about me you don’t know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn’t understand. Things you couldn’t understand. Things you shouldn’t understand.”

DOTTIE – “I don’t understand.”

Though he was something of a household name in America during the 1980s, Pee-wee Herman was never really that famous in the UK. This is no doubt because his much-loved children’s show Pee-wee’s Playhouse was never given the national exposure as it was in the States, instead relegated to an early-morning spot on then-obscure satellite channel Nickelodeon in the early days of Sky. The Americans loved him though, and that’s why he was popular enough to spawn two films (this and Big Top Pee-wee) with a brand new third one on the way courtesy of Judd Apatow.

Pee Wee's Big Adventure pic 1
I’ll be honest, this little lion on the front of Pee-wee’s bike means I do agree it’s the greatest bike ever

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure tells the story of man-child Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) and his quest to find his missing bike. Pee-wee is obsessed with gadgets and gizmos, and his house is littered with all manner of weird and wonderful inventions, but it’s his special red bike that he holds dearest to his heart, much to the annoyance of his rich neighbour Francis. After heading into town and popping into a local joke shop Pee-wee returns to discover his bike has been stolen. Heartbroken, he vows to find out who’s responsible and bring them to justice. Continue reading Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) review

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) review

Gremlins 2 posterDirector: Joe Dante

Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, John Glover, Christopher Lee

“Because of the end of civilisation, the Clamp Cable Network now leaves the air. We hope you’ve enjoyed our programming, but more importantly, we hope you’ve enjoyed life.” (Public service announcement, Gremlins 2: The New Batch)

The success of Gremlins in 1984 meant than a sequel would be inevitable, but director Joe Dante didn’t want anything to do with it at first. The film lingered in development hell for years until the promise of a much bigger budget and full creative freedom convinced Dante to return and helm the sequel, which was finally released six years after the original.

Gremlins 2 is a very different beast to its predecessor. While they’re both horror-comedies, the first film focuses more on the horror whereas the sequel plants its best foot firmly in the comedy camp. The first film was genuinely dark – the Gremlins killed people and some aspects of the script certainly weren’t suitable for children (such as Katie’s story about her father dying when she was a child after he dressed as Santa and broke his neck climbing down the chimney, where he lay for five days.

Gremlins 2
“Do these glasses make me look ugly?”

This time around there’s no such nastiness, as Gremlins 2 instead packs its 106 minutes with silly jokes and parodies of other movies. Not that this is a bad thing, of course, it just feels different to the original.

Not that you’d know it based on the plot, mind. Once again the cute and cuddly Gizmo finds himself away from the safety of Mr Wing’s shop, this time ending up in a scientists’ lab at the futuristic Clamp Enterprises office building. Once again, Gizmo ends up meeting Billy (Galligan) and Katie (Cates), who are coincidentally both working at Clamp Enterprises, and once again Billy warns the others that Gizmo shouldn’t get wet, be exposed to bright lights or eat after midnight. And once again it all goes inevitably wrong. Continue reading Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) review

The Beyond (1981) (Video Nasty review #7)

The Beyond posterDirector: Lucio Fulci

Starring: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale

Also known as: Seven Doors Of Death (USA)

“Be careful what you do, because this hotel was built over one of the seven doors of evil.” (Schweik, The Beyond)

Though Italian director Lucio Fulci may be best known in the UK for his video nasty Zombi 2 (better known as Zombie Flesh Eaters), it’s another video nasty that most horror fans worldwide associate with him. It’s understandable, because The Beyond is easily one of his better films.

After starting with a flashback in which a poor sod in New Orleans is crucified in a cellar by a mob who think he’s a warlock, we fast-forward to the present day (well, 1981) where we meet Liza (MacColl), who’s moved from New York to New Orleans to inherit, refurbish and re-open a decrepit hotel.

The Beyond
Here’s a joke for you love, what do you call a blind… oh Christ I am so, so sorry

It becomes clear very quickly that, as luck would have it, the hotel is built on a gateway to Hell, and as such there’s a whole load of shit going down in the basement including the zombified remains of the lad from the flashback. That’s Hell, not Hull, mind – though I appreciate it’s hard to tell the difference. It’s up to Liza along with her friend John (Warbeck) to try to figure out how to stop this from happening. Continue reading The Beyond (1981) (Video Nasty review #7)

Confessions (2010) review

Director: Tetsuya Nakashima

Starring: Takako Matsu, Kaoru Fujiwara, Yukito Nishii, Ai Hashimoto

“Ms. Moriguchi… there is something wrong with this class.” (Mizuki, Confessions)

My good chum and work colleague Tamoor gave me a Blu-ray yesterday and told me: “Watch this, it’ll be perfect for your site.” I got home and gave it a watch. 100 minutes later I was on Amazon ordering a copy for myself, because Confessions is one of the best films I’ve seen in years.

Yuko Moriguchi is a teacher in charge of a class of 13-year-olds, but she’s decided to pack it in. She’s got good reason to, mind you – her young daughter has died and she knows that the two people responsible for it are two of her pupils.

Yuko’s revenge plot is bloody horrible. And once you’ve seen the film you’ll see what I did there

Rather than tell the police and send the two young killers through what she believes is a far too lenient youth justice system, she decides to plot her own revenge, a revenge that – once you learn the true story of what happened to her daughter – will have you questioning whether she’s gone too far.

The first half-hour of Confessions is perhaps the most engrossing that I’ve seen in a long time. It’s essentially one long monologue delivered by Yuko to her students, explaining to them what happened, how she discovered the identities of the killers, and her method of punishment. To say too much would be to spoil a film that really has to be seen with very little knowledge about the plot.  Continue reading Confessions (2010) review

The Diary Of Anne Frank (2009) review

The Diary Of Anne Frank coverDirector: George Stevens

Starring: Ellie Kendrick, Iain Glen, Tamsin Greig, Geoff Breton

“I have often been downcast, but never in despair; I regard our hiding as a dangerous adventure, romantic and interesting at the same time.” (Anne, The Diary Of Anne Frank)

Last month I suddenly had the urge to become more cultured, and so I finally did something I’d always wanted to do – I read Anne Frank’s diary. Far be it for me to criticise such a monumental tome, but I wasn’t completely enamoured with it. Although Frank was an incredible writer for her age, being a young teenager who was naturally unaware of the horrible fate awaiting her the majority of the book consisted of spiteful comments about the people sharing the small annex with her as she, her family and four others hid from the Nazis.

In fact, and I’m really truly sorry for anyone offended by this, but had it not been for the historical importance of the book and the fact that we all knew the atrocious details of what happened to Anne Frank after she wrote her diary, you might be forgiven for not really warming to her, or maybe even thinking she was a bit of a knob.

The Diary Of Anne Frank
It’s difficult writing jokey captions about a film like this. Go on, try it.

This TV mini-series made by the BBC, then, can be forgiven for making use of a little poetic license so that Anne is less like the cold, sometimes spiteful teenager she was in her diary and is instead more amiable and downright charming at times. While there are still moments where she’s a bit of a tit, like when she writes her father a cruel letter or when she dismisses her mother’s offer of comfort, for the most part she’s significantly more likeable than she is in her actual diary. Continue reading The Diary Of Anne Frank (2009) review

Not Another Teen Movie (2001) review

Not Another Teen Movie posterDirector: Joel Gallen

Starring: Chyler Leigh, Chris Evans, Jaime Pressly, Eric Christian Olsen

“Let’s make like a tree and… branch. Out of here.” (Austin, Not Another Teen Movie)

Everyone has their guilty pleasures, and Not Another Teen Movie is certainly one of mine.  While there have been countless atrocious spoof movies released over the years following the success of Scary Movie, this piss-take of teen flicks from the ’80s and ’90s is one of those rare few that are actually genuinely funny.

Perhaps it’s because its spoofs are so accurate to the movies they’re parodying, but with jokes not so specific that they’ll be lost on those who haven’t seen these films.

Not Another Teen Movie pic 1
“If this isn’t enough to turn you on, how about if I tell you that in a decade’s time I’m going to be Captain America?”

Or perhaps it’s because both generations of teen flick fans – the ’80s kids and the ’90s kids – are catered for in equal measure. ’80s films like The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Porky’s are imitated to perfection, while ’90s movies like 10 Things I Hate About You, Bring It On, American Pie and Cruel Intentions are also aped. This also extends to the soundtrack, which mainly consists of ’80s songs being covered by modern bands. Well, modern by late ’90s standards. Continue reading Not Another Teen Movie (2001) review