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”

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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”

Cloverfield (2008) review

Cloverfield posterDirector: Matt Reeves

Starring: Michael Stahl-David, Jessica Lucas, Mike Vogel, TJ Miller, Lizzy Caplan

HUD – “For all we know, it’s from another planet and it flew here.”

MARLENA – “Like Superman?”

HUD – “Yeah, exactly like… wait – you know who Superman is?”

MARLENA – “Oh. My. God. YOU know who Superman is? I’m, like, feeling something here. Are you aware of Garfield?”

For some reason despite my love of horror movies, my penchant for giant monster movies and my odd knack of stumbling upon countless found footage films (every word there linking to a different example), I’ve managed to go eight years without watching Cloverfield.

With its sequel 10 Cloverfield Lane recently released in cinemas, I figured if I was going to be late to the party I should at least do it at a relevant time.

I’m glad I did, because – and apologies if you already know this – Cloverfield is a nifty wee film. Continue reading “Cloverfield (2008) review”

Splice (2009) review

Splice posterDirector: Vincenzo Natali

Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chanéac

ELSA – “You’re in no position to talk to me about right and wrong.”

CLIVE – “And you are? Really? Why the fuck did you want to make her in the first place? Huh? For the betterment of mankind?”

The need to show people the disasters that befall people when trying to play God is something that has been part of horror cinema almost from the beginning.

From as early as the 1910 version of Frankenstein cinema has relished in showing us how things can go massively tits up when we mess around with nature’s natural progression.

Splice is a more modern take on this, but while it may serve as a warning on the dangers of genetic engineering, it also serves as a warning on how horror films with good ideas can somehow end up a bit rubbish. Continue reading “Splice (2009) review”

Creep (2004) review

Creep posterDirector: Christopher Smith

Starring: Franka Potente, Paul Rattray, Kelly Scott, Sean Harris

“It sounds to me like some vigilante train driver got a wee bit carried away. The way I see it, you should be thanking the man, not running away from him.” (Jimmy, Creep)

The London Underground can be a bit pish sometimes. I’ve lived here for nine years and feel I am qualified to say this.

In fact, I’m writing this review on a Northern Line train just now and there’s an upended Chicken Cottage box on the ground, its delicious greasy goodness spilled all over the floor as an offering to the Tube gods.

But much as it leaves to be desired, it’s fair to say it could still be a hell of a lot worse. I’m talking “home to a hideously deformed hermit who kills passengers” worse.

Just in case you can’t imagine that premise, Creep is helpfully here to show us exactly what it would be like in unflinching detail. Continue reading “Creep (2004) review”

My Little Eye (2002) review

My Little Eye posterDirector: Marc Evans

Starring: Sean Johnson, Kris Lemche, Stephen O’Reilly, Laura Regan, Jennifer Sky, Bradley Cooper, Nick Mennell, literally nobody else

(holding a gun to the camera) “I know what this means. Fuck you. Do your fucking research, okay, ’cause him doing that to himself was the best thing that ever fucking happened to me. Fuck you.” (Rex, My Little Eye)

Although the whole ‘found footage’ thing has been done to death these days, it’s a little odd that the similar ‘hidden camera’ sub-genre hasn’t been quite as overused.

Both are of course similar – they both give the impression the audience is viewing real-life events through standard video cameras rather than a studio-made movie – but tonally, they can be very different.

My Little Eye, released over a decade ago (I went to see it at the cinema when I was at university: God, I feel old now), is a fine example of ‘hidden camera’ horror and proof that, when done well, it can lead to some effective stuff. Continue reading “My Little Eye (2002) review”

One Hour Photo (2002) review

One Hour Photo posterDirector: Mark Romanek

Starring: Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan, Dylan Smith

“Family photos depict smiling faces: births, weddings, holidays, children’s birthday parties. People take pictures of the happy moments in their lives. Someone looking through our photo album would conclude that we had led a joyous, leisurely existence free of tragedy. No one ever takes a photograph of something they want to forget.” (Sy, One Hour Photo)

The tragic death of Robin Williams has led to the inevitable business of fans sharing their favourite movies on their social networks of choice.

Given that he was obviously best known for his comedy work, it’s therefore no surprise that the vast majority of the films and TV shows nominated as his best are humorous in nature.

Mrs Doubtfire, Mork & Mindy, Aladdin, his live stand-up shows… there can be no denying that Williams made us laugh countless times throughout the years. Continue reading “One Hour Photo (2002) review”

Sin City (2005) review

Sin City posterDirectors: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Bruce Willis, Benicio Del Toro, Nick Stahl, Jessica Alba, Brittany Murphy

“The wind rises, electric. She’s soft and warm and almost weightless. Her perfume is a sweet promise that brings tears to my eyes. I tell her that everything will be all right. That I’ll save her from whatever she’s scared of and take her far, far away. I tell her I love her. The silencer makes a whisper of the gunshot. I hold her close until she’s gone. I’ll never know what she was running from. I’ll cash her check in the morning.” (The Salesman, Sin City)

I’ve been reading through Frank Miller’s Sin City comics over the past few weeks.

While skimming through the letters pages found in the back of each issue – usually packed with readers moaning about censorship – I spotted an interesting comment from Miller.

One reader asked if it was true that Sin City was being turned into a movie, and Miller made it clear in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want this to happen. Continue reading “Sin City (2005) review”

Jason X (2001) review

Jason X posterDirector: James Isaac

Starring: Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Lisa Ryder, Derwin Jordan, Melyssa Ade

“Guys, it’s okay! He just wanted his machete back!” (Professor Lowe, Jason X)

I can just imagine the conversation that potentially took place when Jason X was originally conceived.

“We need to make another Friday The 13th movie boss, but we’re running out of ideas.”

“Running out of ideas? Are you mad? It’s a slasher movie. Put gore and tits in it and you’re good.”

“Yes sir, but Friday The 13th fans expect something more, some sort of twist. We’ve already had a 3D one, a copycat killer one, a zombie one, one shot in New York and a possession one. What now?”

“I don’t care. I couldn’t give a shit if it’s fucking Jason In Space, just get tits and gore in it and have it ready by the summer.” Continue reading “Jason X (2001) review”