Happy Birthday To Me (1981) review

happy_birthday_to_me_posterDirector: J Lee Thompson

Starring: Melissa Sue Anderson, Glenn Ford, Lawrence Dane, Sharon Acker, Tracey Bregman

“You’d be proud of me now, mother. All the kids like me.” – Virginia, Happy Birthday To Me

After the success of Halloween, film studios went out of their way to ensure every other major calendar date was covered by a slasher film.

Graduation Day, My Bloody Valentine, Black Christmas, Friday The 13th – it’s safe to say that if Shrove Tuesday existed in America someone would have made a movie about a killer jamming poisoned shroves up hapless victims’ shitepipes.

It went without saying, then, that someone would eventually make a slasher based on birthdays. After all, everyone celebrates their birthday, so everyone can relate.

Cue Columbia Pictures with Happy Birthday To Me, a Canadian horror film that’s actually a little more left-field than you may expect. Continue reading “Happy Birthday To Me (1981) review”

TWABM movie night 1 – Bloody Murder

Way back in 2001, when I started university, my dad bought me a bunch of ex-rental VHS tapes from the local video rental shop to keep me entertained (me being a poor student and all).

One of the films was an unassuming slasher film called Scream Bloody Murder (also known as Bloody Murder in the US). It was one of the worst films I had ever seen.

bloody-murderI fell in love with it.

I became obsessed with this terrible movie. I made all my uni friends watch it. I tried my best to find out what else its actors had been in (not much, it turned out). I even wrote a 12,000-word scene-by-scene analysis for a horror forum I was a member of.

Don’t judge me, it kept me busy.

That was when my love for bad movies started. It’s a love that hasn’t died since that day, and it’s a love that ultimately led to the creation of That Was A Bit Mental.

You see the little masks that appear at the end of all my film reviews on this site? Those aren’t Jason masks. They’re Trevor Moorhouse, the killer in Bloody Murder.

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Why am I telling you this? Because, to get you in the Halloween spirit this year, I’m going to stream Bloody Murder on YouTube and I want you to join me. Continue reading “TWABM movie night 1 – Bloody Murder”

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016) review

miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar-children-posterDirector: Tim Burton

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Ella Purnell, Samuel L Jackson, Terence Stamp, Chris O’Dowd

“Because our abilities don’t fit in the outside world, we live in places like this, where no-one can find us.” (Miss Peregrine, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children)

If you’ve read anything about Tim Burton’s latest film you’ll probably have seen countless comparisons to the X-Men movies, due to the fact it’s set in a school occupied with children with special powers.

But I’m not that lazy.

Instead, I hereby declare that Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is in fact Tim Burton’s version of The Raggy Dolls, the popular British ‘80s and ‘90s cartoon in which a group of wee dudes with abnormalities team up to fight crime or something.

(I don’t know if the Raggy Dolls actually fought crime, I didn’t really watch it. I just liked the theme tune.) Continue reading “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016) review”

The House In The Woods (1957) review

the-house-in-the-woods-posterDirector: Maxwell Munden

Starring: Michael Gough, Patricia Roc, Ronald Howard

CAROL: “Spencer’s a lonely man I feel I can help, even if it’s only by letting him paint me. I don’t think I’m able to help my husband no matter how hard I try.”

MICHAEL: “I’m sorry darling. But you see, sometimes a man can sense an inner corruption in another man that is hidden from a woman by sentiment and sex.”

CAROL: “Inner corruption in another man! How do you know you’re not fighting it in yourself?”

Michael Gough was a legendary English actor who appeared in over 200 film roles over the course of nearly 60 years.

Perhaps best known to modern and international audiences as Alfred in all four 1990s Batman films, Gough had been a star of British stage and screen for decades before this.

The House In The Woods is one of his earlier roles, and though it’s more or less been forgotten over time it’s still a decent example of his ability to drive a film with his performance. Continue reading “The House In The Woods (1957) review”

Movies to watch on Halloween – The TWABM Guide (updated for 2016)

Given my love of all things horror I’m often asked at this time of year by numerous people – sometimes upwards of three – which scary movies are worth watching.

Rather than go through the minor inconvenience of advising this tiny handful of friends, I’ve instead decided to put myself through a significantly larger inconvenience in the hope it helps out many others with a similar quandary.

Naturally, the issue here is that there’s no catch-all “good horror movie” – everyone likes different things, and one man’s Scream is another man’s Scream 3.

With that in mind, this feature takes the form of thirteen different themed sections, each featuring three movies. A bunch of triple-bills, if you will, ideal for your Halloween evening’s viewing.
Continue reading “Movies to watch on Halloween – The TWABM Guide (updated for 2016)”

Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000) review

book-of-shadows-blair-witch-2-posterDirector: Joe Berlinger

Starring: Kim Director, Jeffrey Donovan, Erica Leerhsen, Tristine Skyler, Stephen Barker Turner

JEFF – “If you don’t believe in the Blair Witch then why the hell did you come along?”

KIM – “I thought the movie was cool.”

After The Blair Witch Project sold out cinemas and soiled boxer shorts around the world, a sequel was quickly greenlit to capitalise on its massive success.

There was one hefty problem, though. Part of what made the first film so successful was the fact it came out of nowhere.

Here was this film about young filmmakers who had gone into the woods and disappeared, and crucially it had this found-footage style that made many cinemagoers question whether what they were seeing was actually fiction.

Realising (perhaps wisely) that lightning probably couldn’t strike twice in the same place, director Joe Berlinger and the rest of the Blair Witch 2 crew instead decided to ditch everything that made the first film a success and go in a completely different direction. Continue reading “Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000) review”

Sausage Party (2016) review

sausage-party-posterHead chefs: Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan

Ingredients: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Paul Rudd, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Bill Hader

“We’re the non-perishables, motherfucker.” (Mr Grits, Sausage Party)

Take one hot dog sausage (Rogen) and one hot dog bun (Wiig), destined to be together but forced to sit separate from each other in their packaging prisons on a supermarket shelf.

Pre-heat a premise about a promised land said to lie outside the supermarket’s doors, one in which any foods chosen by ‘the gods’ (humans) will get everything they desire. Keep this premise simmering throughout, regularly adding religious nods to taste.

Add a sub-plot involving two more sausages (Cera and Hill) who find themselves chosen for the promised land but quickly discover that the food paradise they expected is actually a kitchen-based massacre of biblical proportions. Continue reading “Sausage Party (2016) review”

Actium Maximus: War Of The Alien Dinosaurs (2005) review

Actium Maximus posterDirector: Mark Hicks

Writer / Composer / Cinematographer / Casting Agent / Sound Effects Editor / Special Effects: Mark Hicks

Starring: Mark Hicks, John McCuin, Jennifer Hamill

“Qava! I want you to start rounding up all of the Laffrodites off the Boulevards en masse! They will become infamous in the Maximus.” (Polpox, Actium Maximus)

Many amateur filmmakers dream of making the next underground smash, the next low-budget gem that does a Night Of The Living Dead or Clerks and emerges from obscurity to take over the world.

Mark Hicks, who is seemingly some sort of real life Garth Merenghi figure, clearly had this goal in mind when he wrote, directed and acted in Actium Maximus. Unfortunately, during this process he failed to notice his complete lack of writing, directing and acting ability. Continue reading “Actium Maximus: War Of The Alien Dinosaurs (2005) review”

Rollerball (2002) review

Rollerball (2012) posterDirector: John McTiernan

Starring: Chris Klein, LL Cool J, Jean Reno, Rebecca Romijn, Naveen Andrews

“ROLLERBALL!” (Paul Heyman, Rollerball)

As I wrote in my recent review, the original 1975 version of Rollerball is a fantastic, prescient commentary on the way massive corporations suffocate society.

It’s also a superb action movie, with plenty of high-paced and violent sequences with rollerskates, motorbikes, fists and feet flying all over the place.

What a difference 27 years makes, then, because the 2002 remake is one of the biggest piles of vapid cockwash ever committed to celluloid. Continue reading “Rollerball (2002) review”

Rollerball (1975) review

Rollerball 1975 posterDirector: Norman Jewison

Starring: James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck, Moses Gunn

“Corporate society takes care of everything. And all it asks of anyone, all it’s ever asked of anyone ever, is not to interfere with management decisions.” (Mr Bartholomew, Rollerball)

The best futuristic movies are those grounded in reality, the ones that aren’t just flying cars and laser guns but actually feel like they really could happen in the years to come.

Although some elements of Rollerball may not fall under this category – I don’t see a sport in which deaths are considered acceptable coming any time soon – so much of it feels remarkably spot on 40 years after its release. Continue reading “Rollerball (1975) review”