Category Archives: Reviews

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.”
HELICOPTER PILOT – “Oh yes?”
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

Snakes On A Train (2006) review

Snakes On A Train posterDirector: Peter Mervis

Starring: AJ Castro, Julia Ruiz, Giovanni Bejarano, Al Galvez

JULIO – “I respect the old ways and the power of your spells but she needs to see a doctor. Someone who can take an x-ray or a blood test. It could save her life.”

BRUJO – “She has snakes. There is no doctor who will see this.”

This is another film from The Global Asylum, the shameless film “studio” who quickly writes, casts and shoots a cash-in film every time a “proper” popular film is released.

They then stick their shoddy alternative in video shops up and down the country, making their money off dopey sods who think it’s either the actual big-budget film it’s aping or some kind of official spin-off or sequel. And people like me, of course, who watch them because we know they’re rip-offs and are likely to be tremendously bad. Safe to say, Snakes On A Train didn’t disappoint.

Snakes On A Train
“Sir, please put your snakes in the overhead storage compartment. Sir, you’re blocking the aisle. Don’t be an arse, sir.”

I’m going to attempt to relay the plot to you, but forgive me if a few things are lost along the way because it’s truly a bizarre story. Some guy and his girlfriend sneak their way onto a train and hide out in the cargo hold. His girlfriend is extremely ill, because a curse has been put on her, a curse that somehow led to a load of snakes hatching inside her stomach.

Once they get on the train her boyfriend starts the ritual to cure her but things go a bit tits-up and the snakes get loose on the train, meaning its cast of irritating passengers has to start working (mostly) together to sort the situation out. Continue reading Snakes On A Train (2006) review

The Tunnel (2011) review

The TunnelDirector: Carlo Ledesma

Starring: Bel Delia, Andy Rodoreda, Steve Davis, Luke Arnold

“We came down here to get a story, and now we’ve got an important one and you’re running scared?” (Natasha, The Tunnel)

Filmmaking can be an expensive business, even if you’re making a low-budget “found footage” effort in the style of The Blair Witch Project. Rather than wining and dining investors to get them to fund their movie, the Australian chaps behind The Tunnel decided to try something different with their “130k Project”.

They worked out that at 24 frames a second their 90-minute movie would contain around 130,000 individual frames, so after setting up a teaser trailer on their site they asked film fans to buy frames for $1 each, meaning everyone who donated could say they “owned” a piece of the movie. Click on the poster to the right to see it bigger, and you’ll see that it’s made of the names of some of the film’s early contributors. It’s a clever idea, and one that got them the funding they needed (I bought five frames myself, and while the film’s out now there are still some left). It’s a good job they got their funding, too, because The Tunnel is a brilliant little film.

The Tunnel
Well, maybe if you weren’t with Vodafone then you might have a bloody signal

Sydney’s water supplies are running low so the government reveals plans to recover and recycle a shitload of water that’s been lying in a network of abandoned train tunnels since the war. Suddenly though they decide to scrap the idea, raising the curiosity of Natasha,  a TV journalist. The rumoured reason is that lots of homeless live in these tunnels and could create a problem, but Natasha isn’t convinced.

After interviewing a recently-surfaced homeless man who goes mental when the tunnel is mentioned, Natasha decides there’s more to this than meets the eye and gathers three more fellow journalists. The four of them head into the tunnels unauthorised to see if they can find out more, but they probably shouldn’t have bothered because there’s something in the tunnels, and it sure as shite isn’t a bunch of old homeless chaps. Continue reading The Tunnel (2011) review

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