Category Archives: Reviews

Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981) review

Friday The 13th Part 2 posterDirector: Steve Miner

Starring: Amy Steel, John Furey, Warrington Gillette

“I told the others, they didn’t believe me. You’re all doomed! You’re all doomed!” (Crazy Ralph, Friday The 13th Part 2)

It’s common knowledge among horror fans that Jason isn’t actually the killer in Friday The 13th, and it’s in fact his mum who wanders around coating the forests of Camp Crystal Lake with teenage blood. Eager to cash in with a sequel but realising they couldn’t pull off the same trick twice (not to mention the fact that Mrs Voorhees was decapitated at the end of the first film), Paramount decided it was time to finally introduce Jason himself.

Before opening with a short prologue to ensure the first film’s heroine is quickly done away with, Friday The 13th Part 2 jumps forward five years to introduce us to a new group of potential teenage victims. These cheery (and horny) scamps are headed to the countryside to take part in a training session so they can learn how to be camp counsellors. Continue reading Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981) review

The Day After (1983) review

The Day After DVD coverDirector: Nicholas Meyer

Starring: Jason Robards, JoBeth Williams, Steve Guttenberg

DR OAKES – “Do you have any idea what’s going on in this world?”
DR LANDOWSKA – “Yeah. Stupidity. It has a habit of getting its way.”

The threat of nuclear attack is something that has remained ever-present for the past 70 years. The technology may keep improving, and the potential enemy may keep changing, but whether it’s the Japanese, the North Koreans, the Americans, the Cubans, the Iraqis (ha!) or – in the case of The Day After – the Russians who are the would-be obliterators, much of the world lives its day-to-day life with the constant underlying knowledge that at any point another pissed-off country could press a button and that’d be that.

The Day After was an ambitious and brave TV movie that attempted to convince all who watched it that nuclear war shouldn’t be the ultimate answer (which sort of goes without saying, but some people are a bit daft). It shows the build-up, the result and the aftermath of a fictional nuclear attack on Kansas City. Continue reading The Day After (1983) review

Taken 2 (2012) review

Taken 2 posterDirector: Olivier Megaton

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Serbedzija

BRYAN – “If I kill you, your other sons will come and seek revenge?”
MURAD – “They will.”
BRYAN – “And I will kill them too.”

When the hero in an action movie ploughs his way through countless baddies, butchering and slaughtering them in the name of our entertainment (as well as whatever cockamamie reason the plot’s given him, of course), we never spare a thought for the families of the recently deceased.

After all, for every nameless terrorist, anonymous criminal and nondescript thug there’s a mother, a father and maybe even a wife and children somewhere mourning the death of a man who may have been a bit of a prick in real life but was always good to them at least. We’re usually never shown these devoted family members in films though, because it humanises the enemies and makes you feel sorry for them, when all you’re supposed to be thinking is “YES, chuck that fanny over the cliff”.

Taken 2 pic 1
“There’s the prick who told me to change at Kennington”

This is the thinking behind Taken 2, which takes place a few months after the events of the first film. Naturally, in order for me to describe the plot you’re going to have to accept that there are a couple of very minor spoilers from the first film ahead (nothing that you couldn’t reasonably predict yourself though).

After Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) killed a load of Albanians on the way to his kidnapped daughter in the first Taken, the families of the deceased receive the bodies and vow to get revenge on the man that, in their eyes, butchered a village’s worth of young men. Through the traditional Taken plot methods (i.e. absurdly unlikely coincidences) they find Bryan on holiday in Turkey with his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). Continue reading Taken 2 (2012) review

Argo (2012) review

Argo posterDirector: Ben Affleck

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman

“Okay, you got six people hiding out in a town of what, four million people, all of whom chant “death to America” all the livelong day. You want to set up a movie in a week. You want to lie to Hollywood, a town where everybody lies for a living.

Then you’re gonna sneak 007 over here into a country that wants CIA blood on their breakfast cereal, and you’re gonna walk the Brady Bunch out of the most watched city in the world?” (Lester, Argo)

Regular readers of this site will have gathered by now that I don’t often go for the heavier stuff. Life’s serious enough as it is without having even more terorrism, war and courtroom drama thrust in your eyeholes, so that’s why I’m generally more Motel Hell than Hotel Rwanda when it comes to film taste. Still, I do appreciate a good film no matter what genre, so when Argo gathered a lot of attention at the Oscars I thought “Ar, go on then” (sorry).

Argo pic 1
“Well, it’s a bit too late to learn the script now because we’re actually shooting the film at this moment.”

It’s based on the real-life story of the ‘Canadian caper’, an extraordinary event in which a man was sent into Iran and tasked with getting six American diplomats back to the US while an anti-American revolution was ensuing in the background.

You see, years prior America had been backing Mohammad Reza, an Iranian shah (king) who had made life miserable for Iranians for many years. When the Iranians revolted the shah fled and America allowed him to travel there for medical treatment. Iran wanted him back so the entire country could kick the living pish out of him, but the US refused, so the Iranian people went apeshit, started massive street protests and stormed the US embassy, taking 52 of its workers hostage as they tried to destroy any incriminating files. Continue reading Argo (2012) review

Taken (2008) review

Taken posterDirector: Pierre Morel

Starring: Liam Neeson, Leland Orser, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace

“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.

If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.” (Bryan Mills, Taken)

Taken is one of those films that chooses to be completely ridiculous from start to finish, has absurd levels of action, packs plenty of unrealistic coincidences throughout its plot, leaves umpteen gaping plot holes in its wake, then flicks you a folded piece of paper and tells you that it contains information on the number of fucks it gives. Then, when it drives off on its flaming motorbike, you unfold the paper and look inside. It’s blank.

Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a retired CIA agent who’s given up everything he had to move near his daughter Kim, who lives with his ex-partner (played by Famke Janssen). Since he cares for his daughter so much, he’s overly protective of her and as such is concerned when she asks him if she can go on holiday with her friend. Mind you, it’s understandable – she’s only 17 (even though she looks older… mainly because she’s played by a 25-year-old).

Get used to this picture, you'll see it a hell of a lot
Get used to this picture, you’ll see it a hell of a lot

It turns out his suspicions were spot on when, during a phone call to him, Kim is abducted from her French rental apartment by a bunch of Albanians who have dodgy plans for her… I won’t ruin the specifics but needless to say they’re probably fortunate she’s actually 25.

It’s here where things start to get ever-so-slightly unrealistic, as Bryan sends the recording of the phone call to his CIA buddies and finds out the exact region the kidnappers come from. He then heads to Paris to find them, and despite the city having a population of over two million people he finds a lead almost instantly. Continue reading Taken (2008) review

Please Don’t Eat My Mother (1973) review

Please Don't Eat My Mother posterDirector: Carl Monson

Starring: Buck Kartalian, Lynn Lundgren, a load of other people shagging

HENRY – “Well, that’s murder or something!”
EVE – “Never heard of a plant getting arrested, have you?”

Henry Fudd (which is an even more appropriate name in Scotland) is a weird bastard. He spends his lunch break spying on couples having sex, then after work he goes back home, where he lives with his possessive mother, and locks himself in his room, the walls of which are covered with pages of porno magazines. Oh, and he has a plant called Eve that eats people.

Please Don’t Eat My Mother is essentially a low-budget rip-off of Little Shop Of Horrors, only (as it’s produced by “Sexploitation King” Harry Novak) with more porn and less quality. Eve starts off as a tiny sapling that Henry feeds normal plant food, but before too long she’s grown dramatically and adopted a sexy woman’s voice. The plant asks Henry to bring him increasingly larger food, starting with flies and upgrading to frogs, dogs and eventually people, including – you guessed it – Henry’s mother.

Please Don't Eat My Mother
“C’mere baby and plant one on me. Get it?! PLANT! Because you’re a… let me just unzip these jeans”

It’s a story that might have been more interesting had it been handled better (of course, it already had), but Please Don’t Eat My Mother is a bucket of pish. Buck Kartalian is a bizarre actor to watch – it’s clear the film is supposed to be a cheesy comedy he makes some truly odd facial expressions, chewing the scenery… literally, at times.

The ‘special effects’ (and I mean special in a different way than usual) are the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a school play. The plant looks like a ridiculous papier-mâché creation and its movement is so limited (its mouth moves and that’s it) that it always eats its victims off-camera (complete with over-the-top slurping sound effects and unconvincing whimpers from the victim). Continue reading Please Don’t Eat My Mother (1973) review

Hitchcock (2012) review

Hitchcock posterDirector: Sacha Gervasi

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel

“You may call me Hitch. Hold the Cock.” (Alfred Hitchcock, Hitchcock)

Films about Alfred Hithcock are just like buses – you wait ages for one and then two come at once (the other being The Girl, with Toby Jones and Sienna Miller). This particular bus is being driven by Anthony Hopkins with Helen Mirren as the conductor. Mind you, buses don’t have conductors any more. I don’t know what she does, then, but the fact is she’s on the bus anyway and she does a ruddy good job doing whatever it is she does. In hindsight, let’s just scrap this bus pish because I’m clearly in over my head.

Hitchcock recounts a particular point in the legendary director’s life. Having just finished North By Northwest and getting increasingly frustrated by the media’s portrayal of him, Hitchcock decides his next film is going to be a controversial film that pushes the boundaries of taste and decency – Psycho. Hitchcock, then, follows the events from Psycho‘s original conception right through to the film’s theatrical premiere. Continue reading Hitchcock (2012) review

House Of Wax (2005) review

House Of Wax posterDirector: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Paris Hilton

“It is wax. Like, literally.” (Wade, House Of Wax)

I’ve had my own experiences with real-life atrocious wax museums in my life – the Movieland museum in Niagara Falls springs to mind – but at least I wasn’t turned into a wax model while I was there. Mind you, I’d have probably made for a more accurate Mr T than the one that featured there.

The original House Of Wax (1953) was a cracking, eerie film about an insane waxwork artist (played by Vincent Price) who turned real people into wax models. That concept – humans as wax models – is the only thing other than the title to remain in this remake. What’s been learned in the ways of suspense and film-making in the 52 years between each film? Not much, it seems.

I'm sure you can make up your own joke here about Paris Hilton getting a big rod shoved through her
I’m sure you can make up your own joke here about Paris Hilton getting a big rod shoved through her

The 2005 version of House Of Wax starts off, as so many generic teen horror films do these days, with a bunch of annoying students on a road trip. This time they’re heading to “the biggest football game of the year” (because presumably “The Superbowl” was trademarked) and decide it’s best to cut through the countryside roads to get there. As night draws near, they decide to camp out in the middle of nowhere.

Except it’s not quite the middle of nowhere because there’s an odd town nearby with a waxwork museum as its main highlight. When the group wake up the next morning and find the one of their two cars has been sabotaged they split up – some of them take the working car to the football game, the others stay behind to try and fix the car, ultimately finding the creepy town and House Of Wax in the process. Continue reading House Of Wax (2005) review

Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) review

Exorcist II: The Heretic posterDirector: John Borman

Starring: Linda Blair, Richard Burton, Louise Fletcher, James Earl Jones

FATHER LAMONT – “I’ve flown this route before.”
FATHER LAMONT – “Yes. It was on the wings of a demon.”

I’ve said plenty of times before that The Exorcist (and its subsequent Director’s Cut) is one of the greatest movies ever made. It’s terrifying, it’s spectacular, it’s faith-challenging and it’s supremely acted. In a way then Exorcist II: The Heretic is even more impressive, because it takes one of the finest films ever and follows it up with a sequel so brain-achingly bad it’s without doubt the biggest drop in quality in film sequel history.

Set four years after the events in Georgetown, 18-year-old Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair again) is now living in New York with her mum’s friend Sharon (Kitty Winn, also returning from the first film) while her mum is off making another movie. Regan claims she doesn’t remember any of the events of the first film, but she’s being monitored by a psychiatrist anyway. The psychiatrist, Dr Tuskin (Louise Fletcher) reckons Regan’s suppressing those memories and she wants to try hypnosis to free them.

Exorcist II: The Heretic
This facial expression sums up Exorcist II better than any mere words can

Meanwhile, a priest called Father Lamont has been assigned by the Church to investigate the death of Father Merrin at the end of the first film, so he visits Regan to try to get answers. So far, so normal. But this is still only the first ten minutes or so. Then it gets bad.

It’s said that when Exorcist II had its premiere, the audience were fine with it until the “synchroniser” was introduced. At this point the audience burst into hysterical laughter and the film could never win back their respect. It’s little wonder why – it’s the exact moment all the accolades and reputation earned by The Exorcist are flushed down the toilet and the series turns into hokey sci-fi mumbo jumbo. Continue reading Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) review

Halloween II (1981) review

Halloween IIDirector: Rick Rosenthal

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, Charles Cyphers, Dick Warlock

“He was my patient for fifteen years. He became an obsession with me until I realised there was neither reason nor conscience or anything about him that was even remotely human. An hour ago I stood up and fired six shots into him and he just got up and walked away. I am talking about the real possibility that he is still out there.” (Dr Loomis, Halloween II)

Everyone (including me) always goes on about how incredible the first Halloween was, and with good reason. It was a landmark in horror history and one of the first true pioneers of the slasher genre. It’s understandable then that its sequel doesn’t get quite as much recognition but it’s a shame because while it isn’t quite as innovative or genre-defining as its predecessor it’s still a strong slasher and a decent conclusion to what John Carpenter had only ever intended to be a two-film story.

Halloween II
“Sorry? In my beard? Oh, it’s a bit of bread. I was eating soup earlier”

Carpenter only wrote Halloween II, this time passing the directing duties to newcomer Rick Rosenthal. The film’s first five minutes are a recap of the last five minutes of its predecessor, reminding us of the final confrontation between Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers, and the eventual saving of the day courtesy of Dr Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance). After the original film’s ending, with Loomis firing six shots into Myers (though some dodgy editing means this time he actually shoots him seven times) and “the Shape” legging it, the rest of the film then takes place from that immediate point on and shows what happens over the rest of the night.

As Laurie is taken to the nearby hospital to be treated for her injuries from her scrap with Myers, Dr Loomis and the Haddonfield rozzers continue their search for him. While in theory this shouldn’t be too hard – after all, they just have to look for the guy with six or seven gunshot wounds – it turns out they’re wasting their time, because Myers is actually at the hospital, trying to find Laurie and kill her. Continue reading Halloween II (1981) review