I'm a video game expert who used to be the Games Editor of the Official Nintendo Magazine in the UK, and the Games Editor of CVG. I lived in Scotland all my life until I got the ONM job at the age of 23. I moved to London at the start of May 2006 and have been living there ever since. My spare time is more or less dedicated to movies, Celtic and building my gaming knowledge by digging through rare and retro games.
On 1 January 2011, I launched That Was A Bit Mental.
In a rather unassuming post simply called Why, Hello There, I introduced the site as “a celebration of the more weird and wonderful movies I tend to watch”.
Over the years the site continued to grow and it eventually developed a bit of a cult following. Colleagues and Twitter followers suggested movies for me to review, usually the most bizarre films they could think of (in keeping with the site’s style).
Writing was my profession: as a video game journalist, I wrote for the likes of Official Nintendo Magazine, Nintendo Gamer and CVG all while keeping TWABM going in my free time.
TWABM, then, was my way of continuing to write for fun. There was no pressure in writing my film reviews: no editors to decide what I could and couldn’t write, no sub-editors rewriting my words to fit a house style, no strict deadlines to meet. It was my escape and my constant reminder that writing is fun.
It also gave me the freedom to write in a way I was more comfortable with. My daft, conversational, sweary writing style which can now be seen in my games site Tired Old Hack was nurtured and evolved on TWABM.
A lot can change in seven years, though. At the start of 2015 CVG was closed down and I was asked to either move to Bath and join GamesRadar or take redundancy. With a payoff in my bank account – there’s no way I could have joined the site that killed the one I loved – my wife and I moved back to my native Scotland.
There I got a ‘grown-up’ job, writing for the Scottish Government website mygov.scot, but since my passion for writing about games hadn’t died along with CVG, I started a new gaming site called Tired Old Hack. It started to grow, and continues to do so.
I was now juggling a new home, a new 9-to-5 job, my long-running movie site and my new gaming site. Something had to give, and I started committing less time to TWABM.
While in 2014 I’d managed to write 77 film reviews, in 2015 that had slightly dropped to 56. In 2016 it plummeted to just 17.
And, in 2017, I wrote a grand total of one solitary review on the site. To all intents and purposes, That Was A Bit Mental had died.
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.
I 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.
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.
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.
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”→
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”→