Alice Sweet Alice (1976) review

Alice Sweet Alice posterDirector: Alfred Sole

Starring: Paula Sheppard, Linda Miller, Niles McMaster, Mildred Clinton, Brooke Shields

Also known as: Communion (original title), Holy Terror (re-release title)

“Maybe you are afraid that God will send St. Michael to take another of your loved ones. When St. Michael took my little girl, I only thought of how cruel God was.” (Mrs Tredoni, Alice Sweet Alice)

It’s generally a bit of a taboo in film to combine children with murder. Usually that means filmmakers are wary of killing a kid in a movie – that’s crossing the line – but it also works the other way too.

That’s why it’s difficult to come up with a sizeable list, off the top of your head, of films which feature a scene in which a child murders someone.

Alice Sweet Alice isn’t scared of such taboos. Not only does it include a child being killed mere minutes into its runtime, its entire plot also revolves around the notion that another child may be killing people. Continue reading “Alice Sweet Alice (1976) review”

Heretic (2012) review

Heretic posterDirector: Peter Handford

Starring: Andrew Squires, Michael J Tait, Jen Nelson, James Zakeri

TOM – “You need to go now, Father. You need to walk away.”

JAMES  – “I can’t do that, Tom.”

TOM – “Yes you can. You did when we asked for your help. I came to you, I confessed to you. And so did she. And what did you do? Three Hail Marys and a Go Fuck Yourself.”

I don’t think I could be a priest. One of the reasons for this is I haven’t been to a chapel in years (I’m fairly sure one of the requirements is you have to do that every now and then), but another is that I couldn’t be trusted to keep my parishioners’ confessions a secret.

“What’s that? You’ve been fiddlng the dog? Um, say a Hail Mary and… um, hang on… what? No, I’m just texting… someone. It’s unrelated, I promise.” Continue reading “Heretic (2012) 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.”
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”

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”

Confessions (2010) review

Director: Tetsuya Nakashima

Starring: Takako Matsu, Kaoru Fujiwara, Yukito Nishii, Ai Hashimoto

“Ms. Moriguchi… there is something wrong with this class.” (Mizuki, Confessions)

My good chum and work colleague Tamoor gave me a Blu-ray yesterday and told me: “Watch this, it’ll be perfect for your site.” I got home and gave it a watch. 100 minutes later I was on Amazon ordering a copy for myself, because Confessions is one of the best films I’ve seen in years.

Yuko Moriguchi is a teacher in charge of a class of 13-year-olds, but she’s decided to pack it in. She’s got good reason to, mind you – her young daughter has died and she knows that the two people responsible for it are two of her pupils.

Yuko’s revenge plot is bloody horrible. And once you’ve seen the film you’ll see what I did there

Rather than tell the police and send the two young killers through what she believes is a far too lenient youth justice system, she decides to plot her own revenge, a revenge that – once you learn the true story of what happened to her daughter – will have you questioning whether she’s gone too far.

The first half-hour of Confessions is perhaps the most engrossing that I’ve seen in a long time. It’s essentially one long monologue delivered by Yuko to her students, explaining to them what happened, how she discovered the identities of the killers, and her method of punishment. To say too much would be to spoil a film that really has to be seen with very little knowledge about the plot.  Continue reading “Confessions (2010) review”

The Prophecy (1995) review

Director: Gregory Widen

Starring: Christopher Walken, Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen, Eric Stoltz, Viggo Mortensen, Moriah Snyder

Also known as: God’s Army

“I’m an angel. I kill firstborns while their mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. I even – when I feel like it – rip the souls from little girls. And from now until kingdom come, the only thing you can count on in your existence is never understanding why.” (Gabriel, The Prophecy)

Angels, eh? They’re a bloody nuisance. They’re not happy with being all immortal and that, they want control of Heaven too. That’s why there’s a ruddy big war up in the clouds, and that’s why some angels have come to Earth to try to find something that will gain them an advantage in their holy war.

Chad Kroeger was falling on hard times

As luck would have it, they’re both after the same thing – the soul of a dead colonel who was, by all accounts, a bit of a hard man and a complete prick, as most men who peel the faces off Chinese soldiers tend to be. The angels believe that with this soul, they can finally win the war in Heaven.

Good angel Simon finds the soul first, and hides it by placing it inside a little girl called Mary. Meanwhile, fallen angel Gabriel (Walken) is looking for it too and is perfectly willing to rip Mary apart to get it. It’s up to a police detective (Koteas) and Mary’s teacher (Madsen) to make sure that doesn’t happen. No wonder teachers strike for better wages.  Continue reading “The Prophecy (1995) review”

The Ring (2002)

Director: Gore Verbinski

Starring: Naomi Watts, Martin Handerson, Brian Cox, David Dorfman, Daveigh Chase

“My wife was not supposed to have a child.” (Richard Morgan, The Ring)

Legend has it there’s a dodgy video tape doing the rounds, one with no markings on it and no cover. If you watch it you’re presented with a strange series of images and eerie sounds, after which the phone will ring in your house and a child’s voice will inform you that you have seven days to live. Sure enough, one week later, if you don’t figure out the tape’s secret and do what you’re supposed to do, you’ll die a grisly death. If you ask me, these anti-piracy campaigns are getting a little heavy-handed.

She just couldn't bear to switch over to digital, but it was too late

Of course I’m pulling your leg, you cheeky young tyke. I’m instead referring to the cursed tape in The Ring, the American remake of the cult Japanese favourite Ringu. When journalist Rachel’s (Watts) niece watches the tape with her friends and all four die separately at exactly the same time, Rachel decides to investigate and see what’s really going on. By watching the tape first to see if the same thing will happen to her, naturally.  Continue reading “The Ring (2002)”

Chronicle (2012)

Director: Josh Trank

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B Jordan

“There’s this thing, right, it’s called the apex predator. And basically what this is, is the strongest animal in the ecosystem, right? And as human beings, we’re considered the apex predator but only because smaller animals can’t feed on us because of weapons and stuff, right? A lion does not feel guilty when it kills a gazelle, right? You do not feel guilty when you squash a fly. And I think that means something.” (Andrew, Chronicle)

Andrew is not a cheery chappy. His mum is dying, his alcoholic dad beats him and he’s got no friends. His only solace is a video camera that he uses to film his life and document the various goings-on around him. In short, things could be going better.

The three leads work well together and are very convincing chums

One night at a party Andrew’s cousin Matt and Steve Montgomery – a popular kid running for school president – ask Andrew to come with them to film a huge hole they’ve found in the woods. While investigating the hole the trio fall in and end up in a cave, where they find a huge glowing structure. Some weird shit goes down and the camera glitches out and breaks, switching off.

We rejoin them a short while later after the three teens have somehow managed to leave the cave. Things are different though – they now have super powers. At first they’re able to simply move objects with their mind, but as they flex their telekinesis “muscles” and are able to move progressively larger objects, things get a little more serious and Andrew starts toying with the idea of using his powers to punish the society that shunned him.  Continue reading “Chronicle (2012)”

Beware: Children At Play (1989)

Director: Mik Cribben

Starring: Michael Robertson, Rich Hamilton, Robin Lilly, Lori Tirgrath

“Tear her to pieces! Bite through the bone! Gulp the blood! Gobble the flesh!” (Glen Randall, Beware: Children At Play)

The fine people at Troma specialise in making and distributing incredibly low-budget films that, while lacking in spectacle, certainly aren’t lacking in ambition and sheer balls. Beware: Children At Play is one such movie, one with a plot so taboo there’s no way it’d be distributed by a big studio.

It tells the story of John DeWolfe, an author who specialises in crime and the paranormal. He travels to the countryside with his wife and daughter to visit his friend Ross, who’s a sheriff in a tiny country town. Ross’s daughter has been missing for weeks, as have many of the other children in the area, and he wants to know if John has any ideas on how to find them.

It's so much like Children Of The Corn they've even got a corpse up on a cross

What they don’t realise is that all the missing kids – Ross’s daughter included – have formed an odd group of feral children who, under the leadership of an older, manipulative teenager, roam the woods killing and eating anyone who steps onto their turf. Sometimes one of them will head back to the town to lure adults into following them into the woods and to their death, or at times if it’s a woman who’s been trapped the older teen will rape her to try and keep the evil seed going. Or something, I dunno. It’s just an excuse to get some baps on the screen, though it’s pretty dodgy.  Continue reading “Beware: Children At Play (1989)”

Children Of The Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)

Director: James Hickox

Starring: Daniel Cerny, Ron Melendez, Jim Metzler

ELI – “We who are young have a vision and that is the gift to us from He Who Walks Behind The Rows. Our greatest harvest is to come!”
T-LOC – “Harvest this, motherfucker.”

Let’s face it, there are only so many corn-related scenarios you can plant before the crop gets spoiled, so after Children Of The Corn and its iffy sequel it was decided to take the series to the streets instead. No longer are we dealing with a town full of creepy-looking Amish kids, instead we’ve got two of them living in the city.

Joshua and his younger brother Eli have been moved from Gatlin to live with foster parents in Chicago. Since they come from Amish backgrounds it takes them a little while to get settled into their new city lifestyles, and this is further compounded by the fact that the younger brother is a fucking maniac.

Eli fell for the "shaken Coke can" trick

Things come to a head when the inseparable brothers go to their new city school and are promptly separated (due to their age), which doesn’t go down too well with Eli. While Joshua tries to fit in, learn the city life and befriend his new classmates, Eli instead starts hatching a plot to make everyone pay.  Continue reading “Children Of The Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)”