Sunday, July 16, 2017

Oldboy (2003)

This is the South Korean original version of this film.  I admit that I was expecting a horror film and this it isn't. The main character has been imprisoned for 15 years in a room that looks to all intents and purposes like a hotel room. He is served food through a hatch but is never told who his captor is or why he has been imprisoned. His wife and daughter believe he is dead. the film tells the story of his release and his search to find his captor. It is brilliantly done but I found it took a long time in getting there. It has some memorable scenes (like the scene in a hallway with the hammer) but I found the film a bit overlong.


Excision (2012)

Another film I hadn't heard of and one I wasn't sure what to expect. The star of the film is a geek/freak teenage girl character played magnificently by AnnaLynne McCord. The main character is Pauline who is obsessed with blood and is delusional about a career in surgery. Her strange behaviour gets increasingly odd during the film but the astonishing thing is that none of the adults around her seem to care very much about her mental decline. There is plenty of blood splatter. There is a strange little sex scene where Pauline and the boyfriend of another girl goes down on her in a hotel room, which ends with his disgust because she arranged it all to coincide with her period. The end of the film is shocking, which is a good thing in this case. I thought this film was interesting, arresting and cleverly made. The acting was excellent, Pauline was played very well and the mother was also played brilliantly by Traci Lords, who I since found out has had a very colourful career. I must mention the make-up crew who did a wonderful job turning a beautiful girl into a spotty, greasy teenager. Easily able to recommend this to horror fans who appreciate a bit of black humour.


Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)

This is one of those films that is based on a videogame character, I enjoyed the videogames by the way. The "Agent 47" of the title is an assassin (played adequately by Rupert Friend), the audience knows very little about him at the start. I enjoyed the film just on a level of it being visually attractive with lots of action sequences. I didn't enjoy the story very much. I thought the father/human geneticist:daughter- relationship played by CiarĂ¡n Hinds and Hannah Ware (father character had a terrible fake accent) was, frankly, a ridiculous thing to base the film around. Again, this film is ultimately just another example of a videogame franchise not converting well in to the film medium.One of the co-writers, Skip Woods, was involved in the 2007 film Hitman starring Timothy Olyvant and should have known better. I can only recommend this if you like mindless action films or a massive fan of the game character. Nobody else would be bothered.


The Mist (2007)

This film was based on Stephen King's novella of the same name. I hadn't heard of the film and so wasn't expecting much quality from it. It starts in a pretty mundane way with two neighbours assessing damage after a storm. But then the action moves to the town where they are buying some supplies from a supermarket when the mist reaches them and presses against the glass. The tension is built up well, without seeing any monsters in the mist. However that changes and we start to see different sorts of monsters in the mist. The way that the monsters are introduced is very clever. I really enjoyed watching this film and found it compulsive right to the end, which surprised me. A cleverly made film with a great cast and a great script. Easily able to recommend this to any horror or Stephen King fans out there. There is a mini series of the same name coming out this year, wonder whether that will be liked?



Skinwalkers (2006)

I was grateful that this film wasn't too long and had good pacing. It is a film about two groups of werewolves, one group live in restraints during the full moons and the other hunt and feed on humans, as traditional for werewolves. Apparently there is a prophecy that the werewolf curse can be ended by the time a special child becomes 13. We learn during the film that he is the child of the leader of the werewolf pack and a human mother, both were unaware of the curse having been shielded from it by their family.
It's all a bit silly as a plot. There are some interesting moments though, good gun fights and it doesn't try to be something it isn't. All of the action scenes seem appropriate to the story. I like the fact that the seemingly middle class grandmother took up a gun without hesitation and started firing like a criminal.
Nothing much of interest here really, no new ideas but it's competently put together and the acting is decent with some beautiful actresses. The title doesn't really relate to the film in my opinion, isn't it a word for a native American belief that there are people who kill wearing the dead skins of animals? Maybe I haven't got that right??


The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

I watched this film via the Virgin Beam app on my phone. I have to say that I enjoyed it immensely, it was a big surprise to me. I passed over it several times wondering what to watch with a bunch of other films and eventually picked it out as the best of a bad bunch, not really expecting to like it much. Ralph Fiennes plays a hotel concierge who is framed for murder by the family of the hotel's dead owner but was set to inherit a very valuable painting called Boy With Apple. The Grand Hotel Budapest appears to be one of several similar hotels in cities all over the world who have a code of behaviour that seems too polite and gentle for the way hotels are today. The plot has many twists and they are all very funny. It's a great film to watch with your feet up and gives you a warm feeling.


Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Human Centipede (2009)

I have seen these films out of sequence. That's okay though because they can be watched as standalone films or put together (there are 3 films in the sequence I believe). This film revolves around a retired German surgeon famous for separating conjoined twins whilst working. Now in retirement, he seems to have gone mad and after a failed experiment to create a "3 Dog" out of his 3 Dachsunds, his ambition is to create a human centipede. But where are the people who would agree to this? Nowhere because who in their right mind would agree to have their mouth sown to another person's anus? This film is completely bonkers but is entertaining in a sick way. I don't know if I've watched a cut version or not, probably as it was a TV broadcast. The doctor playing the German plays it very well and infact all the actors portray their characters believably. This is a decent film in my opinion and one that should be watched but probably not by all. The idea if it is quite offensive.


House on Haunted Hill (1999)

There are some film remakes that are unrelentingly stupid and others that are quite cool. This one falls firmly into the former category and as far as I can tell is a complete waste of time. The best thing about this is the cast and only that because there are some beautiful women in it. I could easily have turned off after the first fifteen minutes and not been concerned at all what happened to any of the characters. I'd say avoid this film unless you are ill and it is raining outside.
As far as I remember the original film had Vincent Price in it and was very watchable. For this film, I firmly recommend going back to the original.


10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

I really enjoyed this film. I especially liked that it had a great female lead character. You don't know who to trust. A female (played excellently by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is driving away from her husband and has an accident. She wakes up with a drip in her arm and is handcuffed to a bed. She is in a room with no windows and a locked door. Instantly you fear the worst, she has been kidnapped and is going to be tortured or abused by her captors. However, it turns out she has been rescued and is being looked after by her captor, played brilliantly by John Goodman. OR IS SHE?? Great film, easily recommendable.


They Live (1988)

This was a John Carpenter film that I hadn't seen before. A drifter arrives in a new city for him and he finds some work on a building site. A black guy who sees he is homeless takes him back to the shanty town where he also lives. The drifter is intrigued by suspicious activity at a church over the road. He decides to investigate and finds that there is no congregation and the choir singing just comes from a stereo PA system. All is not as it seems in this world, as he discovers when he comes across a box of sunglasses in a dumpster.
The sunglasses reveal another world within our own, a hidden world of alien invaders who live amongst us and plant subliminal messages behind every billboard, on magazines and on TV. He sees these messages starkly in black and white for the first time when he puts on the glasses. He also sees who the aliens are and immediately wants to kill them.
It's an interesting film and includes a great fight sequence between the 2 main characters. Well worth a watch if you like conspiracy theories and stories like The Matrix which challenge what you think you know about the world.



Sunday, July 02, 2017

The Dyatlov Pass Incident (2013)

So this film is apparently based on a real life story of nine Russian hikers who mysteriously all died in the Russian Ural Mountains in the 1950s. Something forced them out of their tents in the early hours and they froze to death. I was intrigued by the title of the film, the true story was something new to me completely.
This film follows a group of US students who are out to make a film exploring the incident. It's an interesting story and is told through TV reports and found footage.
The acting is generally good and believable. It's a solid film and builds up to the climax well. I like the twist at the end of the story. The idea in the film is scary rather than the film itself. I did enjoy it, having said that.

Inhuman Resources (2012)

There is a serial killer on the loose killing CEOs of companies. The film starts by following a young girl called Annabelle who is trying to get a job and who is making money by being a cam girl in the meantime. She is late for a job interview and is waiting by the lift when the door opens and she screams because the CEO of the company has been decapitated and the killer is standing there holding the axe with blood all over his face.
We have to skip forward to the present and Annabelle wakes up chained to a desk with several other people. They learn that they were all involved in the conviction of the serial killer, the man in the lift. The convicted man is their new boss and he makes them transcribe legal documents while torturing and killing them one at a time. He scratches their forehead when they make him angry and when they reach five scratches he kills them.
It's an alarmingly violent film and some scenes are much more graphic than I was expecting, a scene where someone's eyes are dug out is particularly unpleasant. It's a reasonable horror and an interesting twist at the end that I won't spoil.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Amer (2009)

Close ups of eyes. More often than not the eyes look angry. Sometimes I can't tell what expression is supposed to be shown, the crop is just of the eyes. Salt under a bed? An aged, dead old man on a bed. A pocketwatch or a locket, something that seems to let breath escape when it is opened. A frightened child in a room with a latch. The next set of sequences show the young girl as a teenager. The final set of sequences move from teenager to young woman. This film is colourful. Don't expect a plot, this is just visual poetry. I can't describe a story even after seeing it. I can only recommend it for the visuals. I didn't find it scary.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Nailbiter (2013)

This film was more than a little disappointing. A family with an alcoholic mother and three daughters start a journey to pick up her husband/their father from the airport, he is returning from a military tour somewhere. There are storm warnings when they set off. They call in to a village for some gas and the local sheriff is concerned that they should wait out the storm rather than continue on their journey. The mother decides to ignore the warnings and continues. Eventually, they are forced out of their car and head to a farmhouse. The front door doesn't open so they run around to the cellar and head down through the storm door. They get trapped down there. The family who own the farmhouse are some kind of monster family and the girls and their mother become the victims.
The action takes a long time to develop and I wasn't impressed by the special effects. The performance of the daughters wasn't anything special, I felt nothing for them because there was not much backstory to speak of. I can't recommend this film as it was a disappointment.


Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

This film was a surprise watch for me, I hadn't realised what it was about before I started it. Ever since September 11th 2001 one name was the focus of the American international surveillance effort and that name was Osama bin Laden. This film documents the decade long search for him and one female CIA agent's journey from being within a hotel that was blown up to nearly being killed by her car being shot at leaving her house. A close friend was killed following what seemed a breakthrough lead, with a blast happening at a CIA base taking out a number of other agents and members of the military. Eventually though, surveillance suggests a special courier that bin Laden was using was located in Abbottabad in Pakistan. After months of surveillance, that must have seemed like a lifetime, the chances of bin Laden living there are more than 60%. The decision is taken to go in. Radar shielded black hawks are readied. A date is set and they fly in, drop down and infiltrate the compound. You know the rest. The acting is excellent and the story is a good one. I really enjoyed the film and can easily recommend it.


The Devil's Rejects (2005)

This was another film with cartoon-like characters. It was directed and written by Rob Zombie. The police arrive at a family home and shoot it up. The family in residence are wicked and have obviously tortured and killed people there. There is a very tall member of the family (called Tiny, ironically) who is disfigured and gets away at the start and later makes an appearance at the end. The mother of the family gets captured and her son and daughter get away. The mother is locked up in the county police station. The sheriff's brother was killed by the family and he resorts to his own plan to get revenge on the family. One member of the family who wasn't at the farm house for the shoot up was called Captain Spaulding and he wears clown make up though the reason is not clear. The son and daughter and the clown agree to meet up at a safe motel. Before the clown gets there, the siblings take a traveling band hostage and shoot their roadie point blank in the head. The two men in the band get taken away by the son and he leads them to some remote place where he has buried some weapons. The two men try to overpower him but he survives and is too strong or too lucky. He kills them both and returns to the motel. In the mean time in the hotel, one of the women in the band tries to make a run for it and is killed by a vehicle running right through her. The son and daughter are picked up by Captain Spaulding and they head to a town where there is a friend who runs a brothel.
The sheriff enlists the help of two criminals who may have helped him out before. By this time the sheriff has gone mental and he has killed the mother. He wants to hunt the daughter down after he thinks Captain Spaulding and the son are being killed. However, things don't go to plan as Tiny turns up to her rescue. The three remaining family members are all injured but manage to make a getaway in a convertible. They drive until morning when they stop, facing a roadblock. Here they load their weapons and start heading for the roadblock, the police open fire and the film ends with them presumably being shot up.
This film was a lot more entertaining than I had expected. There is some sexual violence in it, which I think must have had some cuts from the film censor, especially in the motel sequences. Overall though, its recommendable on the basis of good acting and a great cast, including the wife of Rob Zombie - Sheri Moon Zombie.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

I watched this film this week and despite myself I found I enjoyed it. It is very much like a cartoon. The violence is way over the top. The colours are vibrant. There don't seem to be any nice characters in this film. It is not explained where the hobo comes from, Rutger Hauer plays the part of the hobo, he jumps off a freight train. The city is under control of a villain called Drake, he acts like a television show host to crowds of followers? There is a lot of cartoon violence in the film, the police are as bad as the criminals. There is a guy walking around with a video camera who wants to film people being beat up, he pays them money to allow themselves to be beaten up. Drake's sons want to control the city through fear and try to be more violent than their father. The hobo rescues a prostitute called Amy from one of the sons. She allows him to sleep in her bed and they become friends. The hobo wants to buy a lawnmower. None of the film really make sense, its one crazy ride. Entertaining while it lasts but one that will leave you wondering what you just saw.


I Spit On Your Grave (2010)

I was aware of the existence of a film of this name from some time in the 1970s and a certain notoriety about it, but I didn't know any real details. Even so, it was with some reluctance I sat down to watch this film because I knew it wasn't going to be an easy watch. I hate to see sexual violence against women and I knew that this film included some.
I think in my mind I had built this film up to be awful and unpleasant and unwatchable. Well I was partly wrong. This is well-made movie and the acting and production quality are good - improving on the original 1970s version in that sense at least. The story concerns a young female writer who wants to spend a few months writing a book in a secluded place where she can enjoy the quiet and the isolation. Her quiet and peaceful world is violated by a gang of thugs and even worse by a wicked police sheriff who controls them. It's a revenge flick, so she gets her revenge. It is less believable in the means that her revenge take and it's best to accept it rather than dwell too much. It's enjoyable to watch the men suffer I must admit. Not one I can universally recommend due to the extreme nature of the sexual violence.


Rabies (2010)

I was surprised by this film. I didn't know it was a slasher film when I began watching it and I didn't know it was the first Israeli horror film. It is set in an Israeli country park which includes some parts that are old mine fields, which conveniently has rusted signs lying on the floor and not visible. It was also a surprise to realise that the film was not going to be about the disease Rabies, although there is a dog in the film - at the beginning at least.
The film's course is quite unpredictable and I enjoyed that aspect the most. The special effects are fairly minor but are done proportionately with the plot. There is a lot of blood but what do you expect for a slasher. You can expect sub plots and murders here. What's interesting is that the protagonists don't seem to be very likeable and end up doing the killing themselves, this is remarkable considering there is a genuine serial killer/bad guy in the film who hardly has any screen time.
An interesting film on many levels.

The Torment (2010) aka The Possession of David O'Reilly

I watched this film a while back, probably in February or March but didn't write it down in my list and forgot about it. But I think it's one to blog about, you see it is not the worst horror film I have seen. The idea of it is good. A young couple are disturbed just as they are about to go to bed by a friend (David) who appears at their door. He has been recently left by his partner and the closeness of their friendship means he is welcome to stay and the two men spend the night talking. They seem to get very little sleep during the whole film. David is seeing evil monsters in the shadows but doesn't admit this to the couple at first. The way the threat emerges is handled really well. We, the audience, think the monsters must be just in David's mind. But by the end of the film they seem very real. It is a decent film but not a mainstream one and it does take a while to get going but I think that's excusable in this case and in the contemporary British setting of the film.

Rogue River (2012)

I watched this film some time last week. I have to admit that I found it watchable even though I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I thought I might. I think the idea was a good one. A young woman drives out into the country after saying goodbye to a young man (I thought he was her partner at first but it turns out to be her brother) to find a spot by a river to drop her fathers ashes into. She's interrupted by a bloke who seems to be a busy-body at first, he tells her he wouldn't advise doing what she's about to. But the encounter swings around and he seems genuine as he helps her to her feet, as she is obviously upset. This bloke is convincing as he helps the young lady, called Mara. The trust builds as she finds her car gone and he offers a lift. She should feel alarm bells ringing but she doesn't. She goes back to his house and meets his wife. They have dinner together and she is offered a bed for the night. She drops a cup or glass after dinner and the wife is seen to deliberately slice Mara's hand open. They insist on treating the wound by stitching it without anaesthetic despite Mara's protests. Man, wouldn't you have just run screaming out way before that point! So Mara basically becomes their prisoner and is subjected to further torture as she tries and fails to escape them. The audience sees some hope as the local cops arrive, they seem authoritative and have doubts about the couple but on their return to the squad car they are shot and killed by the man. Mara's brother turns up and is captured as well. I won't spoil the end. The successful parts of the film work well, the couple certainly are acted very well and are believable. What's less believable is the main character's total lack of stranger danger and he wimpy reaction to everything. This let the film down for me. I like strong female characters and she just wasn't. Probably a fault with the script rather than the actress playing the part.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Human Centipede 2 (2011)

I saw this film last night. Unusually, it is filmed entirely in black and white. It's also unusual in that the first film is watched as a film by the main character and used as a reference by him. It's also unusual in that an actress from the first film plays herself in this film.
This isn't a film I can recommend to anyone. I didn't enjoy it very much but watched it nonetheless. The main characters dialogue is none existent. He has a job as an underground car park attendant. He has a tire iron as a favourite weapon which he swings with abandon but doesn't kill his victims with it. The film doesn't make sense to me but maybe I'm thinking too much about the biological aspects. I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone apart from fans of the first film.


Journey to the far side of the sun (1969)

I watched this film last night for the first time in a long while. I remember it as a classic but watching it again I have to admit there were some parts of it that were a little disappointing now, probably down to the fact of the age of the film and the reliance on models for the special effects. The film is known as Doppelganger in America I think. If you like the live action Gerry Anderson TV series  UFO you will enjoy this film, there are members of the cast who are in both.
I think the main idea of the film is a good one but really I'd have to question whether it is a strong enough idea.



American Sniper (2014)

My wife has been saying I'd enjoy this film for a good few weeks and I finally got round to watching it last weekend. It's based on a true story of a proper cowboy from America who sees the World Trade Centre attacks and decides he has to join up to fight the terrorists abroad so that he can keep his homeland safe. He joins the SEALS. He is a good SEAL and is deployed to Iraq. We watch the film through several tours he completes, each time changing him as a person. War changes us and even when he returns home between tours of duty he can't leave the war. He is a sniper and a good one at that, providing over watch. His nemesis is an Iraqi sniper who also happens to be an Olympic champion shooter. He defeats his nemesis and returns home to retire, his time done. As part of his treatment after returning he visits a veteran centre and instantly enjoys working with vets who are in different states of physical disability. Sadly, the film's ending reveals that he was killed by one of the veterans he was trying to help. A very sad ending really. The funeral convoy was very sad because a lot of ordinary Americans paid their respects to him by lining the roads and highways and saluting him, displaying the American flag.


Wake Wood (2009)

I didn't know what to expect with this film, my expectations were not high but I was pleasantly surprised. It is about a young couple whose daughter tragically gets killed by a vicious dog. They live in a village called Wake Wood and there are a group of people led by some wealthy landowner who are into some kind of pagan ritual. Since the mother of the dead girl can't get over the death of her daughter they offer her the chance of bringing her daughter back for 3 days to say goodbye properly. Well, there are conditions - she has to have been dead for less than a year, she has to stay within the boundary of Wake Wood and stay only for three days. Not everyone is convinced. An older woman in the village suspects something isn't right about it. Well, as you can imagine she is proved right. I won't spoil it but I enjoyed this movie. I liked the pagan abacus-like thing they used to ask questions and I liked Timothy Spall's part in the movie, he played it well. It reminded me of The Wicker Man in the pagan aspects of the film. If you like classic horror, this is a good one to watch.


In Bruges (2008)

It's a shame I hadn't seen this film before but I'm glad I've seen it now. It is the story of two gun men who have been sent to Bruges to lay low for a while. One of the guys accidentally shot and killed a child when a bullet he fired went through the target (who happened to be a priest).
The owner of the hotel they are staying in plays a great part really strongly although she doesn't have a massive part. All of the characters are played really well. It is a comedy thriller and the setting of Bruges looks great. I've been to Bruges so some of the jokes about it are funnier but even if you haven't been I think you'd find it funny. Well worth a watch if you like comedy and thrillers.


Landmine goes click (2015)

Not really what I'd normally call a horror film but more of a thriller than anything else. It is a good film in my opinion. The setting is somewhere in Europe and 3 friends are off on a camping holiday. The attractive blonde girl of the three is loved by one of the men but not the one who she is in a relationship with. I think the man in love with her had sex with her but hasn't told his friend. This forms part of the twist later on. It's a hard film to describe without going into the exact detail of it all.
Most of the film is taken up with the problem that one of the guys happens to have stepped on an old landmine that hadn't been cleared up from the war several years ago (in Serbia?). I'm not sure why it wouldn't just automatically blow him up but I'm not a landmine expert. His male friend abandons them, leaving him with the girl he loves. Now, all seems redeemable when a stranger comes along. However, this stranger is an absolute bastard. He strings them along, promising to help but infact does everything but help. He humiliates the girl and eventually rapes and murders her. All while the guy stands on the landmine. You might assume the film ends there but no. There is an ending. I would have wanted the guy who abandoned them to get his just rewards but no, that wasn't part of the ending, instead it was passing stranger who gets it. I won't spoil it but lets just say it ends quite darkly.
A strange little film that is well made and well scripted. It's difficult to watch at times but I can tell there was good craft on display in making it. The acting is superb. Well worth a watch if you can stomach it.