The Horror

October 23, 2020

Horror comedy; if it’s done right it can be glorious, but is a tricky one to pull off. Think of An American werewolf in London, The Evil Dead series, Shaun of the dead. When they work they really work.

Dog soldiers  is very much a film of its time, early 2000s lad’s mag mentality. It is contextual however, with the main characters being a band of soldiers on a training recce. Football, kebabs on the way home, get the beers in, women are posh birds or slappers, more football; macho bullshit all the way. In that manner this film has aged badly, yet if that’s your kind of thing you’ll have a riot, and remember the ‘good old days’ when PC culture hadn’t quashed such attitudes. That English so-called charm is here in buckets, with the class divide played out as it goes on. Sean Pertwee’s Cockney...

October 7, 2020

Let’s get straight down to it, who here has seen that Modern Family episode where it’s all shot as if happening online? The characters interact on separate screens, and it’s all shown together for our pleasure. It was inventive, and well done, and innovative. That was a few years ago now, and it’s better than this film.

We are living in strange times, and the Zoom conversation has been a conversation piece, that’s what ‘Host’ is; a conversation piece. Something you say to people - ‘’Did you see that film where the characters talk to each other on Zoom and have a séance for shits n giggles, then a demon fucks them up….?’’ Conversation over, move on. It’s a novelty, and a thing that has a lifetime expiry date of now, right now. It’s what people want, and especially at this moment in our histo...

August 22, 2020

At the age of 89 Sir William Shatner is still rocking it out there, kind of. It did take him 33 minutes to appear in this film, but when he arrived it was a very entertaining scene, where he throws a tirade of abuse at his son about being a coward, ending with the immortal line ‘’I will blow your brains out over that horse’’.  He’s only got a few scenes, although his name is above the title and it says a William Shatner film. He did not direct, write, produce, or even make the tea on this film, but he’s a living legend, so we go with it.

The actual man responsible for this low budget monstrosity is Jared Cohn, he has made up to 6 films a year, for the last decade. So to say he chucks them out would be about right. When we say monstrosity, it’s about monsters… and a curse, and what it means...

July 16, 2020

The latest Blumhouse release is a departure, known largely for their audience-pleasing efforts like The Conjuring and Annabelle films. Not that The Vigil isn’t pleasing, but it’s a divisive affair. It will work for viewers who want to take a chance on something different, however it is so specialised that a large contingent will most likely stay away.

For the more adventurous audience members taking a journey into a community that possibly won’t be familiar to them, it is an eye opener, and will be of interest. The Hasidic Jewish people are the focus, and we learn about how their dead are protected throughout the night of their passing. As they are let go, a member of the family or (if no family member is available) paid helper sits with the body and prayers are spoken until the morning lig...

June 18, 2020

As well all know, there are only a handful of remakes that pass muster, and even less that improve on their original. It can be argued that The Thing by Carpenter is a better film than the 50s version. Most people would agree that Cronenberg’s updating of The Fly is an example of how you can take something that people love as a bit of fluff, and change it to produce something significantly more worthy.

The Soska sisters started off by creating a no/low budget indie all by themselves, real D.I.Y. beginnings. They hit their stride with a promising effort called American Mary, you could see an auteurship blossoming, they had their own style and themes. Those themes had influence, and Cronenberg was the main one. Surgical experimentation, and beauty being in the eye of the beholder, what i...

April 30, 2020

Just when you thought it was safe from fucking found footage films, the world brings us yet another.

Surely this genre is dead in the water, tired and done with. Nobody asked for another, and indeed this was made six years ago. It took a few years to get noticed, meanwhile director Adam Robitel has progressed into mainstream franchise films such as the last Insidious venture, and Escape Room, plus its soon-to-be-released sequel.  Like a deadly weed, this one has grown out from the cracks in the pavement, and is ready to be rediscovered. It’s getting some notice now, with good reason.

Where this film takes us is places that, without a powerful and realistic set-up, most viewers would sigh, and tune out. Fortunately it is more than merely a solid grounding, in fact you’ll believe the...

April 9, 2020

Back in 1983, sequels were not really the done thing. There were continuations to series like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but for a film to carry on from a certified classic that was made and released 23 years earlier, there was considerable risk. In fact, writer Tom Holland and director Richard Franklin fully expected a kicking, having committed an act that would be seen as sacrilege by many. To try and touch on anything based around the mastery of Hitchcock can only end in failure. Which is where the shock comes in: Psycho II is not only a worthy follow-up, but a great film in its own right.

Never mind that the film is excellently made, with some above average performances; you have to justify going back to the material. This is where Psycho II pays off dividends. When people talk about...

March 16, 2020

Despite not being nearly so much fun IRL (that’s ‘in real life’ to us grizzled elders) the awkward, ugly and oftentimes downright traumatic trials of adolescence have long supplied filmmakers with a seemingly infinite wealth of cinematic inspiration. From The Breakfast Club’s motley assortment of troubled high school misfits to the quiet inner torment of Brian De Palma’s iconic, outcast-extraordinaire Carrie, this is a tradition peppered with no shortage of wittily ingenious and affecting classics. With the 1980s in particular proving to be something of a golden age for such famously angsty titles, the past decade has witnessed an endless slew of modern movies and TV series seeking – with varying levels of success – to recapture the vibrantly creative spark of this bygone era. Combining ra...

February 25, 2020

A24 strike again, just when you thought it was safe to enter the cinema. Horror is a bit dead at the moment; what is needed is a stir up. As with all their releases, the A24 studio put a spin on what you expect, and give you that bit extra.

Last year we had Midsommar, which proved to unsettle, at the same time as being set in bright Swedish sunshine. This time we are in a stark, minimalistic black-and-white environment, and stuck on a small island. The only company the two lighthouse keepers have is the seagulls, and as Willem Dafoe’s warning goes “It’s bad luck to kill a seabird!”. (His speech when winning at the Independent Spirit Awards is well worth watching, within this context.)

Laid out like a theatre play, we get to know the two characters through dialogue, and as tension builds we f...

January 31, 2020

It’s best to go straight for the jugular and point out that this film was shot in the same junkyard as the infamous horror filth known as Street Trash. That lays out what territory we are in. If you haven’t seen that beauty from 1987, put down your device, stop reading this, and go out and pay for, borrow, steal, just watch it in whichever way is the most convenient to you.

Now back to the film in question: Brain Damage. Made the year after, and although not as disgusting, it will put you in your place when it comes to gore and splatter films of the period. While not putting its foot to the pedal for the entire running time it has its moments, enough in fact to have two of its most notorious scenes cut out until recent releases on DVD and Blu-ray. One sequence of which involves the oddest b...

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