Sunday, November 19, 2017

Society (1989)

This film became more familiar as I watched it. I remember seeing part of it before but not sure if I have seen all of it in the past. The story follows a well to do society family and in particular the son. His sister's ex-boyfriend tries to tell him something funny is going on with his family but he doesn't believe it. Not until he listens to a tape from a bug planted on his sister. It reveals a secret hidden from him by the people he thought were his family. The society in question are all from rich families and the secret is that they are not human and they do some very strange things with their bodies. It is a body shock horror film and has some sexual overtones. The last part of the film is very strange and will stick in the mind of anyone seeing the film. The special effects are a bit like Spitting Image and not quite good enough to look real. At the time, they might have been OK though. There are some interesting ideas in the film but the casting decisions were a little bit strange.

Containment (2015)

I was very impressed with this small British horror film about the residents of a block of flats who wake one morning up to find themselves quarantined. Their doors and windows have been sealed and won't open. They look through the windows and can see people wearing Hazmat suits and moving in and out of detoxification tents. The guy playing the violent nutcase acts his part very well, it's believable.

Frankenhooker (1990)

I watched this film recently, against my better judgement I should add. While it was awful, I had a certain fondness for the combination of violence and humour found within it. So it isn't all bad. Infact, if you don't expect it to be any good you might even be pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

I took my son to the cinema this weekend to watch a film that we've been looking forward to, it's the third film in the Thor series. I have to confess here that although my son has seen the first films, I haven't seen all of them from start to finish.
The film includes a lot of CGI effects and the humour is in the same vein as Guardians of the Galaxy. It's an entertaining romp that delivers everything fans of Marvel would enjoy. Thor's father Odin returns to Norway to die and with that it leaves Thor and Loki to deal with their exiled sister Hela: the Goddess of Death, played by Cate Blanchett. Hela returns to Asgard to take her seat as heir to the throne. She has ambitions for Asgard to conquer the Nine Realms again, like it emerges that she and Odin ruled them through violence and fear in the past. So Thor, Loki and the last surviving Valkyrie (that captured Thor on a planet ruled by the Grandmaster - played by Jeff Goldblum), eventually try to rescue Asgard from Hela.
There is rarely any sense of threat in this film, which is targeted more at the young than the old, there are a few jokes that are intended for adults. I found it entertaining while I was watching it but ultimately, the only thing I will remember is the use of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song during several key battles. It was a good choice of song but unfortunately had the effect on me of making the battles feel like a music video.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

John Williams vs Hans Zimmer

We went to watch this concert at the South Bank Centre earlier this month and had a great time. The tickets we got were good value because we bought them a long time in advance. The most expensive thing was the wine I bought before the concert!

Performers: London Concert Orchestra, Anthony Inglis conductor
Programme includes: -
John Williams: Jurassic Park; Harry Potter; Star Wars; Superman; ET
Hans Zimmer: Pirates of the Caribbean; The Da Vinci Code; The Dark Knight; Batman Begins; Gladiator; Inception
-and many more

Demons (1985)

I watched this Dario Argento film this week. The lack of a comprehensible plot and terrible overdubbing leave me feeling this was not a good film. There are some girls, some guys, some people who take up the offer of a free evening in an old cinema to watch a film. Someone gets turned into a demon who seems to infect others who also then spread the infection, if that's what it is? There are physical manifestations of the demonic possession, such as growing long nails red eyes and a desire to eat flesh and puke green vomit. All a bit silly and funny, without being scary at all.

Evidence (2013)

I wouldn't really put this into the horror genre of films. It follows some US detectives who specialise in investigations that involve editing video evidence. After a brutal murder scene, with little physical evidence of bodies left due to fire, there are several digital video sources that contain evidence. The killer seems to be a man in a welding mask who attacks victims with a blowtorch burning off their limbs. Quite a gruesome idea really.
One of the victims was funnily enough a documentary film-maker and had a proper video camera on her. Well, we watch most of the film via clips of the relationships between the victims and some of the investigators.
This film was mediocre, not a great example of the found-footage genre. Neither outstandingly bad r very good. One to avoid I think.

Girls against boys (2014)

This was an entertaining but strange little film. A young female student is having a relationship with a married man but he ends the relationship and she is very messed about it. She works in a bar and after work a female co-worker takes her out. They meet three guys, go back to a place two of them live and she kisses one of the men. She then throws up and decides she has to go home. The man and she get a taxi and he asks if he can come in. She doesn't think so but then he turns nasty and forces his way in. He assaults her, the extent of the attack isn't clear, I suspect he raped her. She tries to find the older man but he doesn't want her turning up at his home and jeopardising his relationship with his wife that he is trying to make work again. He misreads the situation completely and stupidly tries to force himself on her, which isn't what she wanted at all. After this episode, the co-worker offers her comfort and takes her to the police to report the crime. However, the police don't seem very interested so the girls take the matter into their own hands, well, at least the co-worker decides to. They go back to the boys apartment with the intention of finding out where the guy who committed the rape lives. Nobody is there but they break in and help themselves to breakfast. The remainder of the film sees them attack and kill the men who did them wrong in various situations. The lead female eventually meets a guy who isn't like the others but he gets killed by the co-worker and the co-worker eventually meets her end at the hands of the lead.
None of the characters in this film really stir up any empathy in me. You sort of want to empathise with female student Shae but she plays the character mostly silently and moodily that it doesn't repay any effort and she ultimately ends up irritating more than anything else. A shame, some interesting scenes but ultimately not very original.

Interview with the vampire (1994)

I've watched this film over several weeks whilst on various train journeys. The premise is that a journalist meets with a vampire who is hundreds of years old and who wants to tell his story. It feels very pretentious and more a vehicle to present Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise as vampires wearing a range of fancy clothes, make-up and hairstyles. It certainly isn't horror. That's about all I really want to say about this film, I carried on through to the end but I wasn't impressed.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Photography course

I've started a free online photography course that lasts a whole year. The course is run by a photographer called Emma Davies who I understand has a reputation as a flower and garden photographer. Her work has won several large awards. The first six weeks of the course are geared towards taking complete novices away from exclusively using Auto mode on to the more creative modes and eventually to fully Manual mode. The remainder of the year is a mystery to me at the moment. While the course is free, it also has a community on Facebook and Instagram where photographs and coursework can be posted and commented on. I started in September and have certainly learned a lot already, filling in some gaps that I had. It's nice to get feedback on my work too. Overall, I'm pleased with how it is going. The course is supported by a couple of workbooks and a companion diary. I'm using the Nikon D5000 camera that I bought last year and the 3 additional lenses I have purchased since. The course is called A Year With My Camera and it is not restricted to the UK, there are people all over the world doing the course which is nice to see in the photographs.

Cassadaga (2011)

Actress Kelen Coleman stars in this strange but entertaining little film as a young, deaf, art teacher called Lily. At the start of the film we see a boy in a dress playing with a puppet doll. He is interrupted when his mother bursts in raging and shouting, she stamps on the doll and makes him take off the dress, which she then cuts up. After she leaves the boy picks up one half of the broken scissors and he enters the kitchen while his mother's back is turned. I think he probably kills her judging by the scream.
The other backstory is that Lily and her sister were brought up by a single parent mother who unfortunately died whilst they were young. She is looking after her sister who we understand is not having such a great time at High School and has been saving up to move them both to Paris. Unfortunately before this happens, her sister is tragically killed when she is hit by a car as she runs across a road not looking and thinking only of the Paris trip.
Lily leaves her job and moves to a place where her mother went to college called Cassadaga. Now, I'm a little murky on whether Cassadaga is a hotel, a university or a village. Lily stays with someone who I think used to be her mother's college tutor. The tutor has a grandson who seems to be a violent young man who keeps himself locked in an upstairs room where he watches violent pornography. It's not clear whether this man and the boy in the first sequence are the same but that was my interpretation.
In rebuilding her life, Lily meets a paramedic via his daughter who is being taught by Lily. The relationship blossoms and they start dating. On one of their first dates they are in a bar discussing the paranormal and the other couple they are with are having an argument about the scientific truth of the paranormal. To try and settle the argument, they decide to visit a spiritualist. Initially turned away until Lily offers to pay $500 for the session on everyone's behalf. They get in. What unfolds is that during the séance Lily is speaking to her sister but another spirit invades and attacks Lily. Lily is attacked several more times by this spirit and each time is shown images that don't make sense. During the course of these attacks, the paramedic boyfriend tries to help. However, he is in a custody battle for his daughter and, when during one of these spirit attacks, his daughter is present - he is forced by his ex-wife to close the relationship. Torn between his daughter and his love interest, he chooses his daughter - unfortunately for Lily! Interspersed with the spirit attacks we see sequences where a man dressed in an apron and wearing a welding mask amputates a woman and strings her up like a marionette with her severed arms and legs re-attached with articulated metal joints.
I won't give any more of the plot away but there is enough in here to know that the film weaves all these different story elements together quite well.
This was quite a decent film in my opinion. Some scary elements, some thrills and some good special effects. The final sequences reveal all and the suspense is kept up quite well. I liked the character Lily, the decision for her to be deaf was a strange one, I wasn't entirely convinced it was portrayed as realistically as it could have been - this was the element I didn't enjoy as much as the suspense. Overall though, I can fairly easily recommend this film to horror and suspense fans.

Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead (2014)

Being a fan of Zombie movies I'm surprised to find that I haven't seen the first film in this series. So I'm joining this franchise for the sequel to the first film, fortunately there is a bit of a recap at the start of the film. It seems to be a group of friends on holiday in a remote cabin in Norway who find some Nazi gold are murdered by Nazi Zombies who are awoken from the dead to get back their gold. So the sequel follows the journey of the only survivor from the group, who has amputated his own arm to save himself from becoming a zombie after he was bitten by one. He wakes up in hospital to find that he two arms. He is also under arrest for the murders of his friends. He is very surprised to find he has two arms, however horrified to see that one arm belongs to General Herzog, leader of the Nazi Zombies.
This is a good romp of a film, however ridiculous, and is great fun to watch. I particularly enjoyed the viciousness of some of the kills. The whole film is done with a tongue in cheek joke style that I liked. The incompetent police department was hilarious. I was not at all sure that the film needed to include three American characters who called themselves the Zombie Squad. It felt like every idea was thrown at the film and entertained when some should have been quality controlled out. Even despite this, the film was more entertaining than it has any right to be. It's similar in tone to Sean of the Dead, so fans of that would probably enjoy it. Fans of zombie films would also enjoy it.

Final Girl (2015)

We are introduced to the tragic circumstances of the main female lead character called Veronica, as she loses her parents early on. A man, I can't remember who, makes the little orphan girl what would seem like a happy life and she accepts. It's not very clear in my memory because it is skipped over very quickly to an older version of the girl, played by Abigail Breslin. She is being trained to defend herself by a shaved headed guy called William. No idea where he comes from or what his relationship to the man who met the young Veronica after the loss of her parents. I don't believe the two men are the same.
A group of young college men have murdered several young blonde women in the woods by hunting them like dogs. They have somehow managed to allude the police after several murders and Veronica is in training to be their next victim - or so they think. It's all quite ridiculous, frankly. The filming is done well, the lighting in the woods is all backlit, so the on screen image is attractive. Especially Abigail in her striking red dress. However, the story as a whole just doesn't make any sense. The boys try to attack Veronica but she has tricks up her sleeve and as she picks them off one by one there is a relief. But a lot of the tension that would have been present is lost because the viewer knows that she's going to defeat them due to her harsh training. Just on the strength of the visuals, I couldn't really recommend this film, it's one for fans of Abigail Breslin but probably nobody else.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Flatliners (2017)

I went to the cinema to watch this re-make of a film from 1990. It's the story of what happens to a group of student doctors who want to experiment with stopping their hearts and resuscitation. It was originally quite a dark film as far as my memory serves me. This new version has some good moments but is ultimately quite a flat affair, sorry for the pun!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

It (2017)

Watched this film this week, the cost was just £4.99 so I bought a massive bucket of Coke Zero to drink while watching the film. I've never read the book so wasn't aware of the story beforehand but that didn't hamper me. I liked the cast of characters although they were all children for the most part. Each character had something likeable about them. I'm not referring to the bullies, they were awful. While not being very scary, it was still a good film. I'm not particularly entertained by clowns and I do find them to be a little bit sinister but I can see why some people may be terrified by the idea behind this tale. The effects were good.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Antiviral (2012)

It's been a few weeks since I've posted an update here. I was away on holiday for most of August and since coming back I've not been focused on watching many films. Hoping to resolve this though and get back into a routine.
I have watched the film Antiviral though. It's a body horror film from the son of David Cronenberg, Brandon Cronenberg. He seems to be a chip off the old block. This was an engaging film, if not one I could say I enjoyed very much. I didn't empathise with the main character enough. The idea is an interesting one, stars are so elevated that even their viral conditions are harvested and rich clients pay to get their infections injected into them. You could buy the same cold as Jennifer Aniston for a price! No appeal in that for me but maybe there are some sickos out there who would go for that? I can recommend to fans of the father, not sure anyone else would enjoy this all that much.