Category Archives: Reviews

Slaughter High (1986)

Directors: George Dugdale, Mark Ezra

Starring: Caroline Munro, Simon Scuddamore

“They say he still roams the nuthouse, ever hopeful of a chance to escape, so he can take his evil revenge out on us all.”  (Skip, Slaughter High)

After Friday The 13th made the cheap slasher movie popular, a slew of imitators were quickly churned out over the following years. One notable example was Slaughter High, which was originally called April Fool’s Day but had a quick last-minute title change after it was noticed that Paramount had its own film called April Fool’s Day set for release that year. The moniker modification came so late, in fact, that the film’s title card still says “April Fool’s Day” with a hastily added “AKA Slaughter High” superimposed on the bottom! Turns out Slaughter High was a much better title anyway, because not only is it actually set in an abandoned high school, you can also do some tinkering with your video box and change the title to the far more appropriate Laughter High fairly easily.

Jamie Oliver's cookery class for forgetful people didn't go too smoothly

Slaughter High begins with a flashback in which the implausibly nerdy Marty (Simon Scuddamore) is coaxed into the girls’ locker room by the school hottie, Carol (Caroline Munro), for some apparent sexy times. What he doesn’t realise is that it’s April Fool’s Day and Carol and her friends are actually playing an elaborate practical joke on him. After an extremely embarrassing incident involving a surprising degree of male nudity and inappropriate touching, Marty flees to the emotional security of his beloved chemistry lab to continue his school project. Unfortunately, there he becomes the victim of another, harsher practical joke, one which sets the lab on fire and leaves Marty hideously scarred for life.  Continue reading Slaughter High (1986)

Dawn Of The Dead (1978)

Director: George A Romero

Starring: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, Tom Savini

“You know Macumba? Voodoo. My granddad was a priest in Trinidad. He used to tell us: “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.” (Peter, Dawn Of The Dead)

While once-legendary horror director George A Romero has let his talents go a little wayward recently, the man will always be best known for his Dead trilogy. No film series has inspired more amateur horror filmmakers than Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead and Day Of The Dead. They were the first contemporary zombie movies, the films that wrote the rulebook and laid the foundations on which countless zombie movies, comics and video games in the decades since have built upon. While Night Of The Living Dead was the film that started it all off and created the modern zombie as we know it, its sequel Dawn Of The Dead is the film that many argue is the best of the trilogy. I’m inclined to agree.

Davina McCall zombie and Richard Pryor zombie were first in line at the Next sale

Taking place a short while after the events of Night Of The Living Dead, the original spate of reports of the dead coming to life has now escalated into a full-blown epidemic in which zombies roam the streets and buildings of Philadelphia. Two workers at a TV station realise things are starting to get out of hand and, as they try to escape a building being overrun by zombies and SWAT team members, they meet two soldiers who also think it’s time to bail. They head to the roof, “borrow” the TV station’s helicopter and go in search of a place where the locals are decidedly less bitey.  Continue reading Dawn Of The Dead (1978)

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Death Watch (1980)

Director: Bertrand Tavernier

Starring: Romy Schneider, Harvey Keitel, Harry Dean Stanton, Max Von Sydow

Also known as: La Mort En Direct (original title)

“People used to get ulcers, cancer, go mad.  We don’t let them anymore.” (Dr Mason, Deathwatch)

GUEST REVIEWER – Ronan Martin

Sometimes a piece of cinema, deserving of a much larger audience, simply slips into obscurity without much so much as a whimper having been made in its defence. Conversely, the world is cluttered with DVD copies of films that should never have been made, let alone watched (not pointing any elbows). Our shops, and subsequently our shelves at home, are full of the kind of garbage that people hastily grab off shelves at 5pm on Christmas Eve shouting: “Ach, I’ll just get him this. It’s got that guy from The Transporter in it. He’s good, isn’t he?”

"Yes, I can read it. It says C... U... N... hmm, I can't read the rest of it. Ah, no, wait, I've got it. CUNNING."

At TWABM, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t occasionally point you in the direction of interesting films you may have forgotten about or missed altogether. French Director Bertrand Tavernier’s La Mort En Direct (or Death Watch, as it was known in the UK) is one such cult gem. It serves as a prophetic tale of the often cynical world of reality TV and also provides a fascinating snapshot of the city of Glasgow in the late 1970s. The film, never mass produced for DVD sale in the UK, should be considered essential viewing for cult cinema fans and will be of particular interest to Glaswegians. For one, Scottish audiences will no doubt marvel at a young Robbie Coltrane looking strangely slender in comparison to his Cracker heyday!  Continue reading Death Watch (1980)

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Directors: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez

Starring: Heather Donahue, Josh Leonard, Mike Williams

“I just want to apologize to Mike’s mom, Josh’s mom, and my mom. And I’m sorry to everyone. I was very naive. I am so so sorry for everything that has happened. Because in spite of what Mike says now, it is my fault. Because it was my project.” (Heather, The Blair Witch Project)

There have been so many shaky-cam movies since the release of The Blair Witch Project that it can be hard to go back to the film that kicked off the frenzy and appreciate it in a more recent context. It no longer feels fresh, it no longer feels original, but what it does still offer is a well-structured, creepy film… as long as you’ve never seen it before.

The story goes that three student filmmakers – Heather, Josh and Mike – decide to make a documentary on Ellie Kedward, a woman who lived near Blair, Maryland in the 1700s and was dubbed the Blair Witch by those who shunned and exiled her from her village. Kedward was said to have led children away from the village and killed them as punishment for her banishment. Fast-forward to the 1940s and a madman called Rustin Parr takes seven children into the woods and kills them, claiming the Blair Witch told him to.

Burkittsville, Maryland is actually a real place, though it wasn't originally called Blair, Maryland as this film claims

And so, in 1994, our trio of filmmakers set out to investigate and try to find out more about the legend. Or at least, they did. You see, The Blair Witch Project opens with a message that Heather, Josh and Mike went missing while filming this documentary, and the footage that makes up the movie is what was found in the woods by a search party looking for them. Of course, in reality it’s all bollocks and Heather, Mike and Josh were just actors who are alive and well and still struggling to find film roles, but at the time of its release The Blair Witch Project’s rather convincing website and a “real” documentary about the Blair Witch legend on the Sci-Fi Channel had plenty of filmgoers certain that what they were watching was real footage of three missing children.  Continue reading The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Resurrecting The Street Walker (2009)

Director: Ozgur Uyanik

Starring: James Powell, Tom Shaw, Lorna Beckett

“I’m trying to make myself indispensable.” (James, Resurrecting The Street Walker)

The mockumentary has been done so many times now that it would take something pretty special to grab people’s attention these days (case in point, Troll Hunter). Resurrecting The Street Walker manages this on an incredibly low budget and left me very impressed with the results, despite it ultimately not being the zombie prostitute film I thought the title was promising.

James is a budding filmmaker who’s desperate to get into the industry. He becomes a runner at a small production company in London in the hope that his hard work will eventually get him noticed and eventually move him up the filmmaking ladder.

James demonstrates the best way to defend against a confrontational lamp

While sorting out the company’s archives one day, James comes across some reels of The Street Walker, a (fake) 1980s video nasty that was ultimately never finished when the cast and crew went AWOL. Sensing an opportunity to make a name for himself, James convinces his boss to let him film the remaining scenes of The Street Walker and release it as “the film that was never released”. Meanwhile, James’s mate Marcus, himself a filmmaker, starts a documentary following James as he starts work on his project.  Continue reading Resurrecting The Street Walker (2009)

Children Of The Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)

Director: James Hickox

Starring: Daniel Cerny, Ron Melendez, Jim Metzler

ELI – “We who are young have a vision and that is the gift to us from He Who Walks Behind The Rows. Our greatest harvest is to come!”
T-LOC – “Harvest this, motherfucker.”

Let’s face it, there are only so many corn-related scenarios you can plant before the crop gets spoiled, so after Children Of The Corn and its iffy sequel it was decided to take the series to the streets instead. No longer are we dealing with a town full of creepy-looking Amish kids, instead we’ve got two of them living in the city.

Joshua and his younger brother Eli have been moved from Gatlin to live with foster parents in Chicago. Since they come from Amish backgrounds it takes them a little while to get settled into their new city lifestyles, and this is further compounded by the fact that the younger brother is a fucking maniac.

Eli fell for the "shaken Coke can" trick

Things come to a head when the inseparable brothers go to their new city school and are promptly separated (due to their age), which doesn’t go down too well with Eli. While Joshua tries to fit in, learn the city life and befriend his new classmates, Eli instead starts hatching a plot to make everyone pay.  Continue reading Children Of The Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)

Alligator (1980)

Director: Lewis Teague

Starring: Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Michael Gazzo

“I’m gonna go out there, I’m gonna find that alligator, and I’m gonna kick its ass.” (David, Alligator)

Here’s a top tip – if your young daughter does something that annoys you, don’t flush her pet baby alligator down the toilet to punish her. Chances are, twelve years later the alligator will still be living in the sewers and will have mutated into a huge beast by eating genetically modified dogs. Oh, and according to Alligator, your daughter will also mysteriously age about 20 years and become a redhead.

Alligator is a fun creature feature that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It follows David Madison, a Chicago cop investigating a number of body parts that have mysteriously been turning up in the city’s water filtration systems. It soon emerges that there’s an alligator living in the sewers, one much bigger than any other alligator known to man.

Well, if you're going to get out of your car like a dick that's the risk you take

You see, a local pharmaceutical company has been experimenting with hormones. They’ve been illegally acquiring dogs, injecting them with a serum that makes them grow quickly, then dumping them into the sewer when they’re finished with them. The gator’s then been eating them, hence its ridiculous size. After going into the sewers and seeing the gator eat one of his partners, David has to convince his fellow cops – as well as an alligator specialist (who’s the little girl grown up) – what they’re dealing with.  Continue reading Alligator (1980)

Beyond The Mat (1999)

Director: Barry Blaustein

Starring: Mick Foley, Jake Roberts, Terry Funk, Vince McMahon

“My mother was 13 years old when I was born. Why? Because my dad raped a little girl that was in a room asleep. My dad was going out with my mother’s mother. There you go. There’s some bones for Jake the Snake.” (Jake Roberts, Beyond The Mat)

I know professional wrestling isn’t “real” – I know the results are predetermined, I know the storylines are set months in advance and I know winning a championship belt is nothing more than a backstage reward for your in-ring ability and the way you connect with the crowd. So does Barry Blaustein, the documentary filmmaker who spent a few years making Beyond The Mat. But that doesn’t mean the athletes involved (and they are athletes – they might have already picked a winner but it still hurts) don’t often go through both physical and mental hell to bring an entertaining show to the public. This film aims to expose that torment.  Continue reading Beyond The Mat (1999)

Religulous (2008)

Director: Larry Charles

Starring: Bill Maher

“Of course [you don’t believe in Santa Claus], that’s ridiculous, it’s one man flying all over the world, dropping presents out of chimneys, that’s ridiculous. But one man hearing everybody murmur to him at the same time… that I get.” (Bill Maher, Religulous)

Bill Maher is no stranger to controversy, but in Religilous he tries to take it to the next level by discussing, criticising and mocking every religion he can think of, usually to the faces of those deeply involved with said religions.

For the record, I’m a part-time Catholic. I was raised Catholic, went to a Catholic school, used to go to chapel on a weekly basis and consider myself Catholic. That said, I’m not the greatest Catholic in the world. I don’t go to chapel anymore and I pick and choose which of the Bible’s rules I live my life by because society has changed a lot since then – if slavery was okay 100 years ago and it isn’t now, what’s to say the stuff we were being taught 2000 years ago is still valid?  Continue reading Religulous (2008)

Troll Hunter (2010)

Director: Andre Ovredal

Starring: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Tosterud, Johanna Morck, Tomas Larsen

“People always want natural explanations for things. But if you know what to look for, you’ll see what’s been caused by trolls.” (Hans, Troll Hunter)

The billboards currently advertising Troll Hunter claim it’s “the best monster movie since Jurassic Park.” This claim is, to put it as kindly as possible, a load of old arse. That’s not to say it isn’t an impressive film – it certainly is – but if you’re going into it expecting a modern masterpiece then, rather fittingly, you’ve been trolled. Instead, if I’d been in charge of the ad campaign, I’d have gone with something a little more accurate: “a bit like The Blair Witch Project, only you actually see something.”

Feeding time at Meatloaf's house is always a dangerous situation

Indeed, Troll Hunter‘s handheld amateur footage looks just like an HD version of Blair Witch or Cloverfield, as it follows a trio of Norwegian college students as they film a documentary investigating a bunch of mysterious bear killings. Eventually they come across Hans, a mysterious chap who it soon emerges is a troll hunter. He agrees to let the filmmakers tag along on his hunt, as long as they follow his instructions. But are trolls real, or is he just a delusional old dick?  Continue reading Troll Hunter (2010)