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”

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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”

AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004) review

AVP Alien vs Predator posterDirector: Paul W S Anderson

Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Lance Henriksen, Raoul Bova, Ewen Bremner

They’re not hunting us. We’re in the middle of a war. It’s time to pick a side.” (Alexa, AVP: Alien vs Predator)

How do you bring two of the most iconic sci-fi monsters together so they can meet and fight each other?

Hmmm. What if there was some sort of common ground they shared, something that could be used to force a meeting?

Let’s think. On one hand you’ve got the Alien, the penis-headed xenomorph that made life hell for Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies. Which lives in space.

Then there’s the Predator, the alien hunter that made life hell for Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first Predator movie. Which lives in space.

Right then, with that in mind it seems pretty obvious how a storyline for Alien vs Predator could come about. Yup, you guessed it, a fight to the death in an ancient underground pyramid 2000 feet below the ground. In Antarctica. Continue reading “AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004) review”

Blood Glacier (2013) review

Blood Glacier posterDirector: Marvin Kren

Starring: Gerhard Liebmann, Edita Malovcic, Brigitte Kren

Also known as: The Station

“Maybe the legends of wolfmen and mermaids are based on biological realities. Maybe the Egyptian god of the dead, Anubis, really was a human being with a jackal’s head.” (Birte, Blood Glacier)

When the DVD cover of a film has a quote comparing it to a classic, you’d be right to feel a little suspicious. Blood Glacier’s cover, for example, suggests it’s like legendary John Carpenter sci-fi horror film The Thing. And this would have been accurate, had The Thing been deeply average.

Set in the German Alps, the film focuses on a group of researchers working in a tiny lab as they research glacial reduction and how it affects climate change. Obviously this subject matter isn’t exactly likely to pump your nads, which is why Blood Glacier then throws a curveball in the shape of, well, a blood-coloured glacier. Continue reading “Blood Glacier (2013) review”

Please Don’t Eat My Mother (1973) review

Please Don't Eat My Mother posterDirector: Carl Monson

Starring: Buck Kartalian, Lynn Lundgren, a load of other people shagging

HENRY – “Well, that’s murder or something!”
EVE – “Never heard of a plant getting arrested, have you?”

Henry Fudd (which is an even more appropriate name in Scotland) is a weird bastard. He spends his lunch break spying on couples having sex, then after work he goes back home, where he lives with his possessive mother, and locks himself in his room, the walls of which are covered with pages of porno magazines. Oh, and he has a plant called Eve that eats people.

Please Don’t Eat My Mother is essentially a low-budget rip-off of Little Shop Of Horrors, only (as it’s produced by “Sexploitation King” Harry Novak) with more porn and less quality. Eve starts off as a tiny sapling that Henry feeds normal plant food, but before too long she’s grown dramatically and adopted a sexy woman’s voice. The plant asks Henry to bring him increasingly larger food, starting with flies and upgrading to frogs, dogs and eventually people, including – you guessed it – Henry’s mother.

Please Don't Eat My Mother
“C’mere baby and plant one on me. Get it?! PLANT! Because you’re a… let me just unzip these jeans”

It’s a story that might have been more interesting had it been handled better (of course, it already had), but Please Don’t Eat My Mother is a bucket of pish. Buck Kartalian is a bizarre actor to watch – it’s clear the film is supposed to be a cheesy comedy he makes some truly odd facial expressions, chewing the scenery… literally, at times.

The ‘special effects’ (and I mean special in a different way than usual) are the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a school play. The plant looks like a ridiculous papier-mâché creation and its movement is so limited (its mouth moves and that’s it) that it always eats its victims off-camera (complete with over-the-top slurping sound effects and unconvincing whimpers from the victim). Continue reading “Please Don’t Eat My Mother (1973) review”

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) review

Gremlins 2 posterDirector: Joe Dante

Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, John Glover, Christopher Lee

“Because of the end of civilisation, the Clamp Cable Network now leaves the air. We hope you’ve enjoyed our programming, but more importantly, we hope you’ve enjoyed life.” (Public service announcement, Gremlins 2: The New Batch)

The success of Gremlins in 1984 meant than a sequel would be inevitable, but director Joe Dante didn’t want anything to do with it at first. The film lingered in development hell for years until the promise of a much bigger budget and full creative freedom convinced Dante to return and helm the sequel, which was finally released six years after the original.

Gremlins 2 is a very different beast to its predecessor. While they’re both horror-comedies, the first film focuses more on the horror whereas the sequel plants its best foot firmly in the comedy camp. The first film was genuinely dark – the Gremlins killed people and some aspects of the script certainly weren’t suitable for children (such as Katie’s story about her father dying when she was a child after he dressed as Santa and broke his neck climbing down the chimney, where he lay for five days.

Gremlins 2
“Do these glasses make me look ugly?”

This time around there’s no such nastiness, as Gremlins 2 instead packs its 106 minutes with silly jokes and parodies of other movies. Not that this is a bad thing, of course, it just feels different to the original.

Not that you’d know it based on the plot, mind. Once again the cute and cuddly Gizmo finds himself away from the safety of Mr Wing’s shop, this time ending up in a scientists’ lab at the futuristic Clamp Enterprises office building. Once again, Gizmo ends up meeting Billy (Galligan) and Katie (Cates), who are coincidentally both working at Clamp Enterprises, and once again Billy warns the others that Gizmo shouldn’t get wet, be exposed to bright lights or eat after midnight. And once again it all goes inevitably wrong. Continue reading “Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) review”

Dead Space: Downfall (2008) review

Director: Chuck Patton

Starring: Voices of Nika Futterman, Keith Szarabajka, Jim Cummings

DOBBS – “There’s a lot of blood in this room, but no bodies.”
SHEN – “Sounds like one of your parties.”
DOBBS – “Or your sex life.”

If you haven’t played the Dead Space series of video games you’re missing out on a bunch of petrifying, immersive survival horrors that combine the isolation of outer space with the terror of big bastard mutant alien things. Since the games start with you onboard a ship that’s already been infected with said mutants and had its crew sliced to bits however, it seems there’s a lot of story to be told about how the situation got so messy. Enter Dead Space: Downfall.

A prequel to the original game, Dead Space: Downfall is an animated movie explaining how the SS Ishimura, a mining ship, ends up being infested by the monstrous Necromorphs. After a colony on the planet Aegis VII asks for advice on an alien artifact they’ve found, the Ishimura nips down to the planet and takes it on board. Not before a ship infected with a Necromorph manages to get inside the Ishimura though, infecting the Ishimura with the mutant menace.

"This is the last time I take the bins out on curry night"

The Necromorph virus spreads throughout the Ishimura, turning the ship’s workers into mutants. Predictably, shit goes down and various poor sods end up coming face-to-face with their own spleens. It’s left to a small group of surviving workers to destroy the mutants, save the Ishimura and figure out what the alien artifact is supposed to be.

Of course, this being a prequel to the Dead Space video game, which sees you arriving at the Ishimura and finding everyone dead with Necromorphs still running riot, it should be fairly obvious to most people watching Downfall that nobody’s going to make it out alive by the end of this one. It’s harder then to care much about the well-being of the film’s main characters when you know they’re going to end up pegging it before long.  Continue reading “Dead Space: Downfall (2008) review”

The Wasp Woman (1959)

Director: Roger Corman

Starring: Susan Cabot, Michael Mark, Anthony Eisley

“Something’s happening to me. I can’t control it.” (Janice, The Wasp Woman)

If I had a penny for every 50s movie that copied the whole “scientific process goes boink” set-up of The Fly, I’d probably have around 20-25p to my name. What can I say, I’m realistic. Either way, The Wasp Woman is one such movie, and while its setting and plot begin differently to that of The Fly, things soon start to get very familiar.

After neglecting his job as a beekeeper by instead catching wasps and performing experiments on them in his office, the eccentric and elderly Eric Zinthrop is told to piss off and take his wanky little wasps with him (well, he’s fired, but I like my wording better). As far as Zinthrop sees it, it’s their loss, because he’s close to a major breakthrough on a new anti-aging formula that uses a queen wasps’ royal jelly instead of that of a queen bee.

"No, I don't dye my eyebrows you prick"

Zinthrop pays an unannounced visit to Starlin, a cosmetic firm in New York, and asks for an audience with their owner Janice Starlin. He shows her what he’s got – a serum that when injected into an animal doesn’t just stop it from aging, but actually reverses the process and makes it look younger. Stunned, Janice gives him an immediate contract and promises to pay him anything he wants to develop and perfect the formula exclusively for her company.  Continue reading “The Wasp Woman (1959)”

Humanoids From The Deep (1980)

Director: Barbara Peeters

Starring: Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morrow

Also known as: Monster

“It’s my theory that these creatures are driven to mate with man now in order to further develop their incredible evolution.” (Dr Susan Drake, Humanoids From The Deep)

When all’s said and done, you can’t beat a good Roger Corman film. Corman is the godfather of B-movie cinema and has produced well over 300 low-budget films over the past 50 years, the vast majority of which have been cheesy horror films heaving with gore, titillation or both. Humanoids From The Deep falls into the “both” category and is silly fun, though there it does have one or two questionable moments.

It’s set in the small fishing resort of Noyo, where the townsfolk are in the process of celebrating the announcement of a salmon cannery which is to be built there, greatly increasing the fishermen’s productivity. Good news!

"I think your dog's got worms, mate"

Oh, except for the fact that the company building the cannery is also responsible for experiments in salmon growth hormones, which have spread into the sea and somehow led to the creation of bizarre slimy half-man half-fish monsters that like to swim out of the sea and onto land, ripping the faces off any men they find and raping the women. And, in case you hadn’t guessed, it’s here where Humanoids From The Deep gets a bit iffy.  Continue reading “Humanoids From The Deep (1980)”

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)”