Saturday, March 25, 2017

Devil in the woods (2012) (also known as The Barrens)

I watched this film this week. It felt like it was a made for TV movie. The story was about a family going on a camping vacation to heal itself from a trauma of a natural mother dying and being replaced with a new woman. An older teenage daughter interested in smoking and boys and a much young brother who is sad about the loss of his dog who has gone missing. It's a bit of a long drawn out film with the father's behaviour becoming an increasing cause for concern. This is meshed with a story about a devil in the woods. The father thinks the story is real and everyone else doesn't, except one of the forest rangers.
Well, things don't start out vey well and then they get worse. It seems the father was bitten by the family dog and he may have contacted rabies. You'll have to watch the film to decide if he did or not. I thought the acting was good but there just wasn't enough in it to make me scared.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Storm Doris

Storm Doris hit the UK on Thursday 23rd February. One of the reasons I haven't been posting much in this blog has been that ever since then I've been busy with arranging repairs to the garden fence and roof of my house. We also had to postpone the delivery of a dishwasher (which has now gladly arrived and been installed). Getting the garden fences done has given me renewed interest in the garden though. So on Sunday I spent most of the day putting down a new logroll fence in the corner where the cats crap. Instead of it being a zigzag of wonky little fences it is now a semi-circle of loveliness. Storm Doris did cost me a lot of money on getting my main garden fences replaced though and I also couldn't get home when it hit, as I was working away at the time and all the trains were cancelled.

The Photography Show 2017

For 4 days starting last weekend the NEC is host to The Photography Show 2017. It is the first time I've been to the event and I enjoyed it. The only down side to my day was that MCM Comicon was on in the same venue and I didn't see any advertising before I bought my ticket, otherwise I would have bought my son a ticket for MCM while I attended the Photography Show. Next time I will know better. There were a few crossover moments though, with a procession of stormtroopers and other Star Wars characters walking through the show. I missed those as well!
It was my first visit to the show and I didn't spend vast sums of money fortunately. I did buy what I set out to get though, which was a reflector for portraits and a studio tent for product photography. I had a look at a few other stalls and during the morning I attended a Beginner's Masterclass, which had some good talks.

Catacombs 2007

I watched this film recently. I started watching it rather half-heartedly as I was doing something else. The film did not grip me very much and it was over a week later when I felt like returning to it, to finish it off. The story is set in Paris' underground catacombs. Some kind of party event is going on down there illegally and a group of friends decide to explore the catacombs on there own. One member of the group is an American who has only just arrived in Paris.
Much of the film is focused on this one girl as she runs through dark tunnels screaming. It's not particularly original or interesting. Neither is it scary. I didn't like this film very much and felt it was a chore to sit through the whole thing.


Sunday, March 05, 2017

Gantz (anime) 2004

So this week I have been mainly watching the complete anime collection of Gantz, which I recently purchased from CEX down in Brighton during the half term holidays. I had previously bought 3 volumes of the manga Gantz because they were cheap at the time being second hand but all in good condition. I really like the characters and the story of Gantz. It features a collection of people who are about to die under various circumstances who are transferred to a room that has a view of the Tokyo skyline and a large black ball. Inside the ball are suits and weapons and a bald guy who wears an oxygen mask and who never opens his eyes or communicates. Nobody knows what Gantz is and it is not explained. Through the course of the series and transferring knowledge from one group of people - or I should say survivors - to the next we learn a little more each time.
The suits offer protection and give strength but they can be damaged and can fail. Gantz tells the people that their lives are now his and that they have to kill aliens in combat in order to be allowed to return to their lives. They return home after each round but are called back for successive rounds. They have an hour to kill the aliens and those who survive score points and the ones who earn 100 points will be allowed to leave. The weapons they are given are of different types: there is an X-Ray gun, a sniper rifle, shotguns, pistols and a trap gun. They fire light and have a delayed response. The main characters at the start are Kei Kurono, Kato Matsuri and Kei Kishimoto: two young men and a young woman. There is a love triangle between the three of them: Kurono is immediately attracted to Kishimoto but she is infatuated with Kato. In another plot twist, Kishimoto moves in with Kurono and this only serves to further confuse him.
It is an interesting storyline because it's not clear what is going to happen next and how it will end. I understand that the anime goes a different direction than the manga, so I look forward to the manga written by Hiroya Oku. The manga finished in 2013, after starting in 2000.

Husk (2011)

I saw Husk this week. It's a story about a group of friends driving somewhere across America to have a holiday I think. They are in the middle of nowhere when they have a car accident. On either side of the road are tall corn stalks so they can't see very much. One of the guys is missing when they awake after the car crash. It's the usual horror fair, instead of sticking together they split up or form factions that turn against each other. There are scarecrow/zombie characters as one by one the friends are murdered and in turn become zombies themselves. I didn't think it was scary at all and the story was fairly bland. The movie was professionally shot and put together though so they made an effort, I think it's standard TV film fodder rather than anything worth watching again, so on that basis I can only recommend it as worthy of a single watch.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sexy Killer (2008)

I saw this Italian film this week, it is a comedy-horror: two genres that don't really go very well together despite many attempts. In this same genre I like the Simon Pegg films like the zombie one made (Sean of the Dead).
The main character is a female serial killer who earns the nickname the Campus Killer because she seems to kill where she lives on campus. This film is an outrageous romp, there are lots of murders, lots of blood spurting body parts and a little bit of sex thrown in. To be honest though, it is not very sexy. I also had trouble reading the subtitles because they were white and against some scenes they were unreadable - not the problem of the director though.
The killer thinks she has found a soulmate who enjoys the killing as much as she does but it turns out he was talking about his job as a police pathologist. She thinks he is killing a man in the toilet of a restaurant when infact he is convincing the man to swap clothes and to do this he explains he will get laid with a hot girl. The man looks unconvinced until the pathologist appeals to the nerd qualities of the man, the both exchange a Star Trek salute. The pathologist is not some ordinary guy though, he is also an inventor and has built a device that can display the thoughts of a person or an animal. He has a liquid that can keep the brain of something dead alive a bit longer and he uses both on a fresh victim of the serial killer. This victim was the police detective and although the memory machine doesn't show who the killer is, the liquid somehow turns the police detective into a zombie. He makes the pathologist inject the same liquid into all of the serial killers victims and they then go to a fancy dress house party. The people in fancy dress think that the zombies are other party guests. You can guess the rest.
It didn't live up to the promise of the title but was fast paced and entertaining while it lasted.

Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter (1974)

I saw this film this week. I was looking forward to it because I remembered it was a film I enjoyed as a teenager. I liked the idea of a horror film about a vampire hunter at the time. It was quite different to many vampire films where the female is the victim. Near the start of the film he rescues a woman stuck in the stocks. She is a really beautiful woman (actually, it's Caroline Munro) and she ends up staying with him for a while. Captain Kronos is a war hero but I'm not sure which war he fought in. He has a hunchback professor as a sidekick, he seems to be the brains of the operation and Kronos is the skilled swordsman. They are the perfect match and I'm a bit surprised that they didn't make any more films with these characters. I wonder if they appear in anything else? Such as a comic or a book?
Kronos has been requested to visit a doctor friend who is troubled by the occurence of several young girls from the village who have been found dead but with their blood drained and their faces terribly aged. What I liked about the film as a teenager was that it wasn't just the run of the mill vampire tale. Here there were elements such as the ageing, the professor's knowledge about different kinds of vampire and the dead frog in a box vampire detector (life is restored to the frog if a vampire crosses its path).
The film wasn't quite as exciting as I remembered it as a teenager but I do still enjoy watching it.

Altitude (2010)

This film was one of those featuring annoying American teenagers who find themselves in a situation that means they have to work out their personality differences under extreme stress. The film it reminds me of is Frozen where the characters are stuck on a ski-lift in a closed ski resort with a pack of hungry wolves pacing around below them. This film is improbably set in a small plane piloted by a female student (played by the beautiful Jessica Lowndes) who happens to be the daughter of a general. Actually the detail about the daughter's father seemed a little unnecessary in the end as it didn't have much significance to the plot. There are five of them: the pilot, her boyfriend, a single guy, another female and her boyfriend who plays being an annoying drunk teenager very well. SPOILER ALERT: it turns out that the pilots boyfriend is a sole survivor of a light plane crash that killed both his parents and the female pilot's mother. How the female pilot didn't know this before getting on to the plane is very strange. It does explain his unease, I wouldn't even consider it and I probably wouldn't have chosen her for a girlfriend. He seems to be a bit clingy. She doesn't seem to want him to follow him to college wherever she is going but he has a bus ticket to the place in his rucksack. She finds this out through a tussle later in the film.
The disaster in this film is that a loose bolt in the plane's tailfin elevator
gets under the mechanism jamming it up. they fly in to a storm and then experience a supernatural being in the air that is out to kill them. This entity seems to be in the imagination of the pilot's boyfriend. They discover this because she bought him a copy of a comic where the whole plot is drawn out. I know, it is bizarre. I was totally confused during the film. It mixes so many elements and doesn't really do any story element justice. There is some hint of love between the single guy and the drunk's girlfriend. But he drops from the plane in an attempt to fix the elevator.
I can't really recommend this film.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Hostel: Part II (2007)

I saw the first Hostel film on TV some years ago and it surprised me at just how gruesome it was. Having seen the first film, I was prepared for this one. I think actually that the worst scenes in the film were cut from the version I saw but without seeing it all I can't really tell.
Rich people bid for the "privilege" of torturing and killing tourists in Slovakia abducted from a hostel there. The facility where the killings are done is an old factory. This film sees a group of female college students on holiday get abducted. I liked the way that the two American men are depicted, one of the characters seems really intent on having a great time in his torture and killing. He is really vocal about it and the other man seems really unsure and just there because his friend is interested. Things don't quite turn out that way but I won't spoil the plot.
It is certainly well made and acted but the subject matter is pretty awful and dark. Not a family film, as they say! It's a film I can recommend to those who can watch it without taking it seriously. There is some dark humour in the film but you have to have the stomach for it, to catch it.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

From The Dark (2014)

I watched this film this week and feel this wasn't a bad effort. It starts in the peat bog fields somewhere in Ireland and a man digging out peat logs from a ditch. He hits something hard that looks like a spike. In the ground is a creature of some kind, like a vampire or something. The man reaches into a hole and is pulled into the water in a deep trench. He manages to drag himself out but is injured and has a tear in his neck.
Earlier that same day a young Irish couple are in a car going somewhere they haven't been before. They are lost and end up getting stuck in mud driving along near a field. It turns out that they are close to the peat bog. The man leaves the women alone while he sees if he can find a house to get or ring for help from. He finds a farmhouse and also finds the man with the tear in his neck. He returns to the car and they leave it to go back to the farmhouse.
The man with the tear in his neck has become some kind of flesh eating monster who is sensitive to light. So the rest of the film is about the young couple and their attempts to save themselves from being eaten by the man and the monster from the bog.
The pace is good and the story, while fairly predictable, has a good strong female character and an interesting take on the genre by using sources of light as their defence. It's a good thing that mobiles have torches on them these days is all I can say. On the whole, I can recommend this film to fans of the more traditional horror film.

Scary Or Die (2012)

I watched this film this week and while it had some interesting scenes at times overall I was a little disappointed. It is a series of 5 separate short stories in the style of the films from the 1970s such as those from Amicus Productions (e.g. Tales from the crypt).
The stories are as follows:
1. The Crossing
2. TaeJung's Lament
3. Re-Membered
4. Clowned
5. Lover Come Back
The most interesting of these for me was probably TaeJung's Lament. It seemed to be set in Japan and told the story of a man who had lost his wife. He is lonely and looks longingly at women who remind him of his wife in various bars and locations we see him. In one of these he is sitting on a bench when a group of attractive young women walk past. One of them seems to notice him and smiles. He watches them for a while and is shocked when the one who smiled is taken out by a man who carries her away without the others noticing. He follows the man and interrupts an attempted murder. The woman is grateful and he takes her back to her apartment, she gives him her card and asks him to visit in a week. He returns to the apartment the following week to find it full of the attractive young women who turn out to be vampires. The murderer returns and we discover his name is Van Helsing.
I also liked The Crossing to a degree, the concept is about two low intelligence men who are returning to the Mexico border to send a message to Mexicans attempting to cross illegally into America. They are driving a truck and have kidnapped two men of Mexican origin (however one just had Mexican ancestors), unknown to the female partner of the men who has also come along for the trip. They get the men out of the back of the truck when they arrive at the place. There are already some graves and luggage littered around. They have brough guns with them and are ready to kill the men. The women doesn't agree with this and fights them, during the ensuing struggle the previous murder victims begin raising from the dead. The two men are eaten alive by the zombies and the woman, although injured, gets away. At the end of the story she is seen by two cops stumbling over the ground and one of them with a sniper rifle kills her, believing she is a zombie too.
Clowned was interesting up to a point but very laboured and was much too long.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Lord of the Rings trilogy extended editions

I picked up a bit of a post-Christmas bargain today from a charity shop. They were selling the extended editions of the three films for £1.99 each. They are selling for a lot less now than they were when they first came out but even so, I think it was a bargain. I do have the films anyway but to have the extended editions is still very cool.

Raze (2013)

I watched Raze the other night and without knowing what to expect I was pleasantly surprised. It turned out to be a subversive little film in ways I wasn't expecting. The film was very simply about a group of kidnapped women who are forced to fight to the death in hand to hand combat for the amusement of an odd husband and wife and some wealthy guests. If the women refuse to fight, there are cameras in the homes of people they love and they are told that their loved ones will be killed if they refuse to fight or they lose a fight. It's a very odd film in respect to the story.
There is a lot of violence in the fight scenes but I didn't feel it was ever excessive. It could have been a lot more graphic than it was and the women  keep their clothes on as they fight, I was pleasantly surprised that they weren't sexualised. It's not a film that's going to win awards based on its script because there isn't that much dialogue but what there is is enough to portray the story and keep it moving along. The film isn't over-long and it never lags, so it feels like a nice, compact little movie. I don't know what audience it would appeal to, perhaps one that likes to watch women fight in a ring, fans of Mixed Martial Arts I guess.

Pernicious (2014)

I watched this film this week and was kind of disappointed by it. It features 3 very beautiful women in Thailand who are there to teach English but as soon as they reach their accommodation in the middle of nowhere they come under the spell of an evil spirit. The supernatural element of the film actually misses the horror spot entirely in my view. There is a visit to a witch, which is the least spookiest witch scene I have ever seen. There are some scenes of gore when the women bring some British guys back to their house but even these are a disappointment. Overall, it's largely a missed opportunity to do something original. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that it was an American remake of a genuinely scary Japanese horror film. I can't recommend Pernicious to audiences of either gore films or supernatural films.