Saturday, 8 November 2014

Toy Story...4

Pixar stands tall next to Studio Ghibli as the best two animation studios their have ever been, with the former producing countless greats from Bugs life to Wall-E to Ratatouille etc. etc. etc. Yes they've had their downfalls with Cars and Cars 2, their blatant cash grabs, but overall they've been loyal to their morals- producing thoughtful and imaginative animations for the whole family. Despite both of their films coming out next year being totally original they do have a slate of upcoming films which include a few sequels, Incredibles 2 and 'Finding Dory' included, both of which, though arguably unnecessary, do hold purpose as necessary sequels to a world we will willingly be transcended back into. But yesterday Pixar did something nobody was hoping for, something I never thought they would have to the heart to do, yesterday Pixar effectively put a middle finger up to their morals and were hypnotised by the green legal tender, announcing to the world, 'Toy Story 4'.

Here's why this is the biggest disappointment since Indiana Jones 4.


The Perfect trilogy

One fact of cinema I believe you can say without debate is that Toy Story is one of the best, if not the best trilogy of all time. Not only does it follow the imaginative and fun adventures of a young lads toys when he's out the house, but it overplays this narrative with a back-story of growing-up that is so brutally real that it puts most coming of age films to shame.

To go into more detail about this, the Toy Story trilogy follows three crucial stages of growing up, from the early stages of development seen in the first film to the departure to university seen in the 3rd, and this story is neatly wrapped within the trilogy through these bookends. It's been strongly rumoured that the story will have nothing to do with Andy, and therefore I really don't care about the story. This announcement of the 4th film feels like throwing a boulder into a ball pit, it doesn't fit, it doesn't mesh, ultimately it doesn't work on any level. Why the heck would I want to see a story about Woody, Buzz etc. without the strong story of Andy backing it up, if they want to do a whole new Toy Story film, give me a whole new roster of Toys and I'll be happy. 

I mean the end of Toy Story 3 literally has most viewers in tears! In tears you hear! The legacy and power that those three films hold is immense and every viewer sees something unique in it, be it the story of acceptance seen in Jesse's tale in the 2nd film, the story of a battling friendship in the 1st or simply the whole notion of change and 'moving on' seen throughout the trilogy. 

We know, Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang, in the fictional world of the film, have moved on and have accepted change (something which as previously mentioned is integral to the whole theme of the trilogy) we don't need to see them carrying on their lives. In fact its nicer to make it up ourselves, just like you do when you're young playing with toys, you make up crazy stories in which your characters act out.

The fact is, I couldn't care less about Toy Story 4, even if it's is amazing, a fourth film tarnishes the rest of the trilogy and will make us see them differently whether we like it or not.


Cash-Grab 101

It's wildly obvious that the Toy Story trilogy was and is Pixars biggest achievement both critically and commercially. The fact that they are continuing on past the 'perfect trilogy' despite it ending so well is a blatant cash-grab in my eyes and also a shame as it truly shows Pixar abandoning their artistic intentions for the temptation of extra cash.

We know Pixar have loads of original ideas flouting about, all you have to do is look at their next two coming movies as well as their extensive and highly regarded writing team. BUT, of course original films don't make as much money as sequels so instead of trying to create art, Pixar has now made the leap to create cash instead.

Speaking of the writing team, perhaps the worst news is yet to come. In the past three Toy Story films Pixar has been very good in using their in house talent as well as quality external writers in cohesive harmony to create fantastic screenplays. The first film used Andrew Stanton and Joss Wheadon, the second used Andrew Stanton and Rita Hsiao, the writer of the original (and great) Mulan, and the final film after setting the grounds of a fantastic story hired Michael Arndt to work on the screenplay alone after writing the amazing, Little Miss Sunshine.

So what exciting new talent has Pixar hired this time!... Rashida Jones of course!!!

This might be a personal problem, and perhaps fans of the TV comedy Parks and Recreation will disagree, but personally this choice is woeful and just another example of Pixar trying to milk the cash cow.

This name is by far the most well known external talent that they have ever hired for any of their Toy Story releases, she's pretty much a well-known celebrity, which subsequently means even more publicity, which means even more cash!!! For us however this will most likely mean a worse movie overall. The only film she's ever written was the wildly average Celeste and Jesse Forever, which shares little narrative relevance to the films of Toy Story in terms of imagination, fun and heart. At least both previous external writers had great and relevant films under their belt, with Little miss sunshine being an amazingly fun and sweet film and Mulan being one of Disney's many master-classes in animation.


Ultimately I feel let down and hugely disappointed in Pixars recent decision to release a fourth Toy Story film, in my eyes this decision is just as bad as their past announcement of Cars 2, which is inadvertently their worst film to date. This fourth film is evidence to the world that Pixar just doesn't care about the art any more, and if their not careful this fourth addition to their beloved trilogy could destroy their reputation forever.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Nightcrawler

Blimey, I haven't been to the cinema for a while, the last film I saw was blooming Guardians of the Galaxy back in August, which is pretty shameful. That said I went to see Nightcrawler on Friday night in wild anticipation after watching the crazy good trailer back in whenever it came out. That was pretty much all that was making me go and see the film, I mean I'd heard the reviews were good but if you IMDB the writer/director (Dan Gilroy) you'll see his last two films were The Bourne Legacy and Real Steel...just bare in mind whilst I tell you how bloody amazing this film is.

The story concerns Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) an unemployed man who feels empowered to get involved in the world of crime journalism after seeing a roadside crash, from here he becomes obsessed with getting to the top. I know this is the talking point of the whole film, and I know this isn't all the films about but when I think about Nightcrawler it's very hard not to immediately scream the praises of Gyllenhaal's performance. The best thing I can say about him is that throughout the film I never saw the character as Gyllenhaal, I saw him as Lou Bloom, an man driven to insanity through his own broken psychology. I mean seriously, more than any horror film I've seen all year (so far) Gyllenhaals performance is truly terrifying, as his overwhelming screen presence grabs you by the neck and heaves you into the film.

As said previously his performance is of course not the only positive of the film, by no means, the fantastic screenplay makes the events of the film both constantly gripping but also hugely detestable. The plot itself, once certain facts are uncovered and the film comes to a conclusion, is truly disturbing, discussing the ethics of showing such acts on TV news, and the subsequent state of a modern society who would watch such footage. Perhaps the screenplays most impressive achievement however it's relationship with the protagonist, working to manipulate the audiences feelings in order to make us like such a disgusting man, something that we feel empowered to do, despite the fact that we knowingly hate him. This only disperses further talking points in how our good relationship with the bad protagonist affects our sanity as viewers who perhaps 'only want to see the gory stuff'. The screenplays only downfall is a minor one, as after such a big climactic crescendo, it doens't know hwo to calm down and conclude on a good note, as a result it flatlines a little before ending sufficiently

Working in conjunction with the screenplay is the cinematography, making the streets of LA look dark and uninviting but also glamorous and beautiful, so much effort has gone into the framing of shots and it seriously pays off. The ultimate product is a film which honestly makes you see TV news in a new light, now seeming tasteless and untrustworthy after the harrowing and dramatically gripping events of Nightcrawler, which proves hard to shake from your mind.

9.5/10- Gyllenhaal's best performance from the director who brought you Hugh Jackman as a boxing robot's coach (I still can't believe it)

Shocktober Days 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 & 31

#26- Event horizon (1997)

 I never even really saw this as a horror film when I saw it on Netflix, but the many recommendations from various forums showed me otherwise, with many claiming it to be truly terrifying. Whilst it may be more of a thriller than anything else it certainly has some creepy horror elements.

The film surrounds a group of astronauts who are sent to investigate the mysterious event horizon- a spaceship in which all of its passengers mysteriously disappear. Event Horizons problem is, being a thriller, it doesn’t really know where to start and finish with its horror elements. Grand, mysterious theories on how the passengers disappeared are deeply unsettling on their own- the mystery surrounding them only making it all the more freaky. But when the film should’ve stopped there, it instead continued to show us nearly exactly what happened to them- whereby little was left to the imagination. That said the films raw horror element in the form of a machine which creates black holes letting anything through from another dimension comes into its own in the films finale to truly terrifying effects.

The performances are pretty standard but some are just outright unenthusiastic- most notably that of the films mysterious passenger Mr Weir, played by Sam Neil. His performance is however good enough to see the film through. A film which ultimately proves to be a lot of fun, even if it isn’t all horror centred.

6.5/10- A fun fun space adventure, both bleak and unsettling.


#27- Zombie flesh eaters (1979)

So this is one of those video nasty movies of the *date* including some lovely gruesome scene of zombies being ripped apart etc. That is however pretty much all the movie has to offer.

The stories pretty generic following the daughter of a mysteriously murdered father and an intrigued scientist as they travel to a faraway island to investigate the recent discovery of zombies. The film takes a long while to get going, with horror elements included in this, not truly becoming anything scary until around the halfway mark. There are however some classic scenes in the film in which the video nasty genre is truly encapsulated. The most notable of which shows a woman’s eye being shoved through a wooden splint, shown through goofy practical effects of the time, despite looking quite unrealistic however this scene showed to encapsulate all which is fun and gruesome about the genre.

Zombie flesh eaters is unfortunately not as exciting as it sounds with bland performances and a plot which takes a while to truly begin.

6/10- Standard fun zombie affair once the film finally begins to start.



#28- The Bay (2012)

Made on a shoestring budget, the bay is a small film set in Maryland concerning the invasion of bug-like parasites hiding in the water

Unlike Zombie flesh eaters the bay is actually a lot more interesting than it sounds, and certainly a lot more unsettling. Filmed in a found footage/documentary type style the film chronicles the invasion from the outbreak to the conclusion, focusing in on no real constant protagonist. Instead the films main character is the town itself and humanity in general, giving a very realistic overview of what such an event would cause. The creatures themselves are truly unsettling, small round and generally revolting, especially when considering that they enter a person’s body through an open orifice. This, as one can imagine, creates for some utterly disgusting body horror moments as the parasites invade the human body.

The Bay is a neat little horror which works on primal fears of humanity, and thus has a similar effect to jaws, don’t think about the bay when you’re anywhere near the sea.

8/10- A creepy horror which slides under your skin


#29- Carrie (2013)

The original Carrie’s is a classic for multiple reasons, the characterisation of the terrifying daughter /mother relationship, the fantastic performances of both, the list goes on. The remake of Carrie is exactly the same in nearly every way and thus is utterly pointless.

Certain plot points in the film are arguably dated so a remake isn’t necessarily a terrible idea but it is when you don’t intend to change anything. Chloe Grace Moretz is a great actor in the right role, here as a result of the story she is horribly miscast, supposed to be playing a timid and lonely girl but her looks are just too strong to think in such a way. Julianne Moore is much the same, she’s better in the role but looks pitiful in comparison to the original performance of Piper Laurie.

I think some of the only things they changed from the original is the use of cell phones in the opening shower scene and the larger use of special effects, the former of which a pitiful attempt at making the story ‘contemporary’ the latter totally irrelevant when considering the larger story of the character of Carrie at the films heart.

4/10- Just watch the original


#30- Children of the corn (1984)

There are certain film titles that for whatever reason carry a certain amount of prestige, and for some reason I thought children of the corn was supposed to be good. It isn’t. It’s good awful.

So a city couple looking for a retreat fall upon a strange town where the kids have become possessed and rule the town. Here, an obvious arises, this plot subsequently means that a large majority of the cast must be children, and are children good actors…no…no there all shit. One standout performance comes from child antagonist Isaac played by John Franklin, providing perhaps the best worst performance of all time as the little shit who for some reason all these kids obey.

There are one or two moments which are pretty neat and eerie but the scene really isn’t worth the 90 minutes of hurt. But above all, apart from the fact that the film isn’t scary, is poorly acted and is paced unbelievably poorly, not once does it explain why the adults don’t just overpower the little shits and charge them down. One kick to issac’s fat head would flatten him.

3/10- Truly terrible, character of Isaac makes it watchable due to how laughably bad he is



#31- Annabelle (2014)

Alright, so I was supposed to finish this Shocktober thing with a grand cinema trip to see the latest (good) horror, all signs were pointing to me watching the Babadook and to put a long story short I didn’t. I watched Anabelle instead…sigh.

So Annabelle is a spin-off from last year’s successful horror the Conjuring, following the creepy doll which made people squirm in their seats. Now they’ve drawn out a huge unnecessary story for the porcelain character and her many victims, a story which is as boring as it is totally not scary. The story is pretty simple following a man and wife, who receive a gift of an old doll, and instead of stamping on it and burning it like many others would do, instead they keep it on display in their kids bedroom…wha?!
I feel as though Amnabelle is just a prime example of the state of modern horror films, less interested in the story but far more interested in giving the audience a momentary fright in the form of a plethora of jump scares, each one as ineffective as the last. These scares aren’t even well integrated any more, you can tell them from a mile off, any moment when the sound is turned right down and the camera lingers on a certain spot you can be certain a jump scare is on their way therefore it doesn’t make you jump, therefore the most simple of scares becomes useless.

Annabelle’s only good features come as references to its better older brother, ‘the Conjuring’ in which the creepy music box tune is cleverly placed in the film, as well as one or two appreciated nods. There are also some unique intelligent scares thrown in occasionally such as when the protagonist follows a trail of mysterious drawings falling in order from the top if the staircase, this wasn’t terrifying, but it was a refreshing break from the constant jump scares that bog the film down so much.


4/10- Defines modern horrors- just fecking stupid.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Shocktober Days 23, 24 & 25

#23- Evil Dead 2- (1987)

Quite famously the movie Sam Raimi really wanted to make after being tied down to studio pressures in the first film, Evil Dead 2 is a crazy often horrifying and constantly entertaining.

Vastly different from its predecessor Evil Dead 2 is unique in every way and truly unplaceable in amongst a genre of constantly recycled ideas. Seriously, in what other film will you see a man turning stir-crazy whilst the ornaments and furniture of the room begin cackling at him. As a result these constant scenes of juxtaposition between horror and bizarre humour, Evil Dead 2 actually produces some truly unnerving scenes, as seemingly innocent  things turn creepy.

The script is clearly purposely daft with dialogue now famous in the genre, the majority of these lines are given to Bruce Campbell's comedic character who ignites the film with energy and fun, largely down to the enthusiastic performance by Campbell.

Evil Dead 2 is far different to what I was expecting but in hindsight, all signs were pointing to a more comedic than horrifying film, but with gruesome practical effects and terrifically delivered deadpan humour, the film shows to be great fun.

8.5/10- Groovy gory fun


#24- Inside- (2007)

So this pregnant woman whose husband has recently died has started to become tormented by a sadistic woman who is obsessed with claiming the woman's unborn child for her own...yooo that's actually messed up.

Agh man, some of the shit you see in this film I swear like, arguably shouldn't be on the shelves of Blockbusters' worldwide. Like the film isn't even that bad, with a neat little twist at the end, I think it's just the relentless violence and gore which drowns everything out. It's weird saying this but although gratuitous violence is what it's going for, the film straight up has so much that it just kills everything else it was going for. Saying that, it's nice to see some fantastic practical effects instead of crappy CGI, even when it is replicating such bodily organs which should never see sunlight.

The performances were pretty good, but unfortunately I couldn't grab a copy which didn't have dubbed dialogue which really sucks, often making scenes unintentionally funny as it is clear the words are out of synch with the mouth movements. That said, the acting is good enough to make the scenes of violence seem so horrifying and real that really it ends up being quite effective and oddly entertaining for gore fans.

7/10- Truly disgusting but if that rocks your boat then dig in

#25- Laddaland- (2011)

Aside from having one of the worst names of any film I've ever seen, taking a strong second place next to 'Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2', Laddaland is a pretty conventional, nothing to see here, move along, this is pretty bad affair.

The plot is oh so forgettable, and despite seeing it fairly recently I have little idea of what it was actually about, really- when you got down to the heart of it I mean. So, you've got a small family who move to a new housing development, and who would've guessed it, the neighbourhood isn't as conventional as they thought and soon people begin to mysteriously die in a neighbouring house. As previously said, Laddaland is pretty forgettable so I'll keep it brief, as horror films go, Laddaland goes slap bang in the middle, it isn't that bad with some scary moments, but in the end it's just a rehash of old ideas.

The ghost itself in the film, despite being recreated poorly in CGI, is one of those cases where it looks so bad and unrealistic that it actually becomes oddly scary and alien-like. Therefore in a shocking turn of events, Laddaland has some kinda scary moments due to making their main monster look unintentionally shit. The child acting is quite predictably, pretty bad, their reactions to proceedings are hardly convincing an therefore the viewer aint to scared.

Despite the ending picking the quality of the film up a little with a neat, bleak event, Laddaland is nothing we haven't seen before.

5.5/10- Laddaland is an unbelievably bad name for a film.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Shocktober Days 18, 19, 20, 21 & 22

#18- Demon seed (1977)

Back In the olden days of the 20th century, the fear of technology was a significant one if one which is now in hindsight laughable. The fears of what the 21st century might bring, and whether the computers would even take the new four digit number at all. Anyhow, these fears of the technological future ran through the media, case in point Demon Seed, a film which concerns a computer system impregnating a young woman...yum.

 Despite technophobia being more a past fear, that said, in very recent years where technology has taken giant leaps forward this film is actually highly relevant to today's society, suggesting a certain cinematic longevity. It's good then that Demon Seed is actually a great film aswell then, I mean it takes its time here and there, but eventually it comes round and slaps you round the head.

Reminiscent of 2001 a space odysseys infamous HAL computer system, Demon Seed's computer system, Proteus , soon goes out of the creators control, taking charge of the whole house and perhaps a little stupidly an electrical wheelchair with added metal arms and hands. Whilst it may not reach the insidiousness of HAL, Proteus certainly gives it a good shot, projecting a similarly formal tone and dark intentions.

As the film draws to a close it brings up some very telling points about the relationship between man and machine and perhaps how we could easily go too far. Demon seeds good fun and is a refreshing example of an old horror still being relevant and scary in today's society.

8/10- Sci-fi tech meets disturbing body horror.


#19- In Fear (2013)

In Fear is a small British horror released last year which sadly few people saw, cus yu know it ain't too bad, especially in comparison to the blockbuster horror which emerges from Hollywood.

Going for the more minimalist approach to horror, In Fear tries to tap in to the universal fear of being lost, in the dark, in a place which is almost supernaturally deceiving your own mind. The story is very simple revolving around a young couple on their way to a hotel in the country which they ultimately find very hard to find. They get lost, day turns to night and horror ensues when it appears someone is following them.

The issue with minimalistic horror is simply that something has to be happening constantly to keep the audience on the edge of their seats whilst they await the next tease of information, you want to show them little, but you've got to show them something, it's all about the careful building of tension. In Fear for the most part does this quite well as the viewer feels like the 3rd passenger, trying to decipher the route themselves as we watch a situation plenty of people can relate to and would dread to be in.

As said the tension builds nicely and the acting is just good enough to hold you in your seat, withholding your disbelief. The only real issues come from the films conclusion in which it felt like the film-maker really didn't know what to do, so instead put some vague, mediocre ending in which doesn't really quench the thirst of viewers, nor  horror fans.

An ending can be deciphered from the rubble, it's just a shame that the story didn't culminate into something far more eerie.

6.5/10- Don't drive


#20- VHS 2 (2013)

I din't think much of the first VHS film but for some reason the rest of the horror world did, and as small groups of superfans began emerging, a sequel became inevitable. Weirdly enough though the positives and negatives i found with the first film almost identically match the positives and negatives of the sequel.

The concept is original, perhaps explaining its minor popularity, with both films concerning the uncovering of an abandoned house with a room filled with cassette tapes, in which if 4 (or so) are played in order, some kookie shit will happen. Thus we get an anthology of short horror films, which is quite a nice idea. That said however there is one really obvious issue with this in relation to the quality of the final film, with 1 or 2 of the short films being really good and the other 2, rubbish, leaving you clueless. This was exactly the issue with the first film, and as I previously mentioned those issues are present in the 2nd film too, that said the quality of the films has definitely increased.

The best film concerns a group of film-makers who go and investigate a cult, only to find out their fucking nutters, with peculiar supernatural beliefs. Directed by Gareth Edwards, the mind behind the Raid films, this film is superior in every way to its competitors, boasting realistic yet gruesome practical effects within a short story so mysteriously disturbing it creeps under your skin.

The bad films aren't even worth talking about, so I won't really talk about them. Ones about a guy who gets a new eye, its pretty boring, cliché and tame. Ugh there just so similar to stuff we've seen before.

VHS 2, grated it better than the original but that's no mean feat, the challenge the series needs to face is to find a quality group of short films and clump em together, not just to accept rubbish and put it next to tasty goods.

6.5/10- Better than the first but that ain't hard.


#21- Wolf Creek (2005) 

So if you google this film, it'll come up with a handful of stinking reviews, but there's someone out there, or more accurately a group of people who seem to think this films gold-dust. It isn't. It's shit.

The film follows a group of teens (which is refreshing and original) backpacking in the Australian outback, but as they become stranded a shifty looking man offers them a ride back to his (you'd be rude not to accept) and they have a trip down shitcreek. Wolf Creek is like a huge culmination of loads of clichés, from gory torture porn to stupid teenagers doing stupid things, to weird fat men doing weird fat man things. It's just far too bland really, there's no meat to chew on, nothing to get you hooked to your seat, just a stereotypical story of horror.

That said, the film is fine, it's not awful, it's just in few ways original. One or two scenes are relatively effective but ultimately you can only see so many stupid characters doing stupid things until you just give up.

The worst thing about the film is that damn subtitle 'based on a true story' a phrase so vague, I'm sure you could slap it on any film. Oh and the second one's just come out on DVD...

5/10- Lacks seasoning.


#22- Braindead (1992)

So this is Peter Jackson before he went mainstream, so arguably Peter Jackson in his purest form, tied down to no one but his own creative limitations. And Peter Jackson without any creative limitations is clearly one messed up son of a gun.

Braindead's weird. It's a really weird film. The definition of black comedy, Braindead follows the story of lets say a 'mummy's boy'living with his mother in a large mansion, but when her fate crosses with a monkey with a deadly virus the house gets messy. She quickly descends into sickness, and visually disgusting sickness as her skin peels, her ears fall off, etc. etc. you can see where I'm going with this.

Braindead is truly disgusting, with pussy blood flying in all directions once shit gets out of hand, nothing is too much for Peter Jackson. A kickarse priest is brought onto the scene as well as a zombie baby whom the protagonist takes on a walk in the park to hilarious is bizarre results. With this disgusting action Braindead is subsequently a whole load of fun mixing deadpan humour with vile practical effects and constant violence.

Why Peter Jackson is most well known for his contributions to mainstream cinema, I will never know, with only his Lord Of The Rings series being any good. The lovely bones for example, is not lovely. Braindead (and his previous film Bad Taste) feel special, they feel cared about and that's what Jackson is missing today, he lacks the heart and passion which he clearly possessed in this film. Braindead is limitless fun filled with limitless guts, gore and laughs.

8/10- Jackson at his best.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Shocktober Days 13,14,15, 16 &17

#13- Hellraiser (1987)

There's two types of horror films (well I mean there are loads but for the sake of this sentence there are two) the relatively quiet and soft ghost story and the bleak and violent dirty horror. The sort of horror which genuinely makes you want to have a shower once you've watched it. Hellraiser is a dirty horror.

That's not to say that the film's bad however, perhaps it's a little overhyped with a strong cult status, yet Hellraiser does have a weird, peculiar charming factor. Despite being utterly filthy with dark and dingy 80's basements, with gruesome practical effects which look so unrealistic it weirdly makes the visuals more disgusting, Hellraiser actually has a quiet and childlike charm to it. The monsters of hell, one of which being the now renowned horror villain 'Pinhead', are fantastically crafted from wild imagination, similar almost to that of the monsters in Beetlejuice, which were as scary as they were odd fun to be around.

I dunno, perhaps thats an oppositional reading, but I found the film to be more just gory fun than specifically scary, that said there are certainly some frightening scenes which usually come from the films excellent practical effects. Such a film is a perfect example of why practical effects should be used more widely in horrors today which sadly usually opt for CGI which looks considerably worse.

Hellraiser is a whole load of 80's fun, daft and kitsch throughout but with a constant dark and dingy streak which will keep horror fans satisfied.

7/10- Thrilling dirty horror fun.


#14- Lake Mungo (2008)

I don't mind the old mockumentary, there ok, some work some are just plain wrong, the key is to make it all seem authentic from the story to the actors who are playing 'real people'. Whilst Lake Mungo for the most part is pretty terrifying, the film goes ahead and ruins itself through one plot point, but then fixes itself again! Agh, basically Lake Mungo is really annoying, at one point it creeps under your skin the next it undoes all it's progress with a wimpy 'boo'.

The film follows the mysterious dissapearing of a teenage girl and her brothers persistent search to find out what happened to her, far more substantial than the pretentious IMDB plot suggests- 'a supernatural drama about grief. As the story commences creepy photographs and video footage emerge, which unlike much of the 'paranormal activity' footage is actually very effective in crawling under your skin. As a result you become entwined within the story as you hold your disbelief, this is all before the actors start 'acting'.

As previously mentioned, in such a genre, the performances must be pretty impressive for the spectator to believe the story and whilst a few of the performances are acceptable, some are just plain shit, So this leaves Lake Mungo in a really weird space, very effective in it's scares, one especially at the end allows the film to live up to its horror name, but pretty bad in its story and performances. Ugh.

6.5/10- Really annoying, showing signs of greatness as well as puddles of rubbish.



#15- Troll 2- (1990)

So we're around the middle of October, and I thought I'd treat myself to a light hearted horror...or so I thought. I'd heard of Troll 2 as a pathetic attempt at horror and boy are the critics wrong. This is one of the scariest films i've seen since birth...golly.

Naahh, but really, Troll 2 claims to be a horror film, and frankly i was getting pretty tired of blood, guts and gore so thought I'd try something new. This film is a classic case of 'so bad it's good', a title only few films can hold (the room being a notable other) from the awful practical effects the the stinted dialogue, Troll 2 is a beautiful disaster.

Despite all this however, the sheer effort and clear large budget seen in the film gives it a real sense of joy, with a kitsch theatrical aesthetic Troll 2 is loads of fun. I think however that whilst the film is hugely entertaining alone, with the 2009 documentary about the films legacy , Best Worst Movie, does give it a whole new peculiar depth, showing us just how much effort went into the film and how it has positively affected the lives of the actors, who are now almost unknown. After watching Troll 2 again after the documentary I found it even more entertaining as inside jokes behind some lines of the film were revealed and the eccentric nature of the director becomes more visible.

As good as Troll 2 is alone, with Best Worst Movie the film becomes something more than a terrible film, it becomes something which connects to the audience as a film which tries its best to but fails to a catastrophic degree. By seeing the human side to everyone involved in the film it becomes easily charming.

5/10- So bad, it's good (but see it with the documentary too)


#16- Fright Night (1985)

Not to be confused with the classic boxing game 'Fight Night' of a very similar premise, Fright Night is a 'next-door neighbour' horror in which 'Charley' a teenage boy is living next to a vampire however no one will believe him. The whole film is about him tryna convince everyone they're real as well as stopping them in their dastardly tracks.

Fright Night is probably the best conventional vampire film I've ever seen, or at least the most entertaining, nailing the infamous abilities of the mythical monsters. A large part of the film really isn't that horrible and is more about the boys paranoia which is built up very well, fortifying the vampires bad ways as they deceive everyone around them, as well as showing the developing arc of Charleys character as he dips into insanity, He seeks help in T.V vampire hunter Peter Vincent, played excellently by Roddy McDowall, as a brilliantly fleshed out and often comical character, whom eventually is convinced to help him, whereby bloody and entertaining horror ensues.

Alike Hellraiser which I watched a few days ago, this film thankfully opts for fantastic looking practical effects which truly made me feel quite icky, as appose to the pants CGI which is used  in abundance today. Thus this makes the climactic battle and general shenanigans throughout feel all the more authentic and fun.

In terms of the classic monster, this is by far one of its best outings behind such classics as Dracula and Let the right one in, there's no emphasis on dark reality nor a significant young love story, Fright Night is just a classic vampire movie with awesome special effects. A real fun time.

8/10- Graphics were really bad, sucks you can't play as Mike Tyson.


#17- Planet Terror (2007)

Part of that Grindhouse double feature , which I don't really understand to be brutally honest, which saw the film being released with Tarantinos Deathproof , as part of a tribute to classic b-movie cinema.

The aesthetic of this film is bang on the money, with it's fake trailers before the film and the unexplained burning of film halfway through the movie. Also however, the director Robert Rodriguez decided to fill the film with a constant grainy quality which should work but instead, when mixed with the conventional contemporary cameras used to shoot the film it just looks out of place and is a little irritating to be honest. If you want to make a film look like its from a certain period of time, simply look at Ti Wests House of the Devil which emulates 1980's horror movies so well I genuinely had to ask Jeeves when the film was made .That said however overall the Aesthetic is very impressive and aids the film considerably when it comes to its completely over the top violence and dialogue, making it seem 'all part of the act'.

Violent the film certainly is spurting blood from all angles from all forms of weaponry, and it's great fun to say the least. There's a thin line between being too gratuitously violent and being simply good fun, the key is for the film to know exactly what it is, thankfully Planet Terror knows exactly what it is and frankly doesn't give a shit about a good story, it just wants to have fun, with a lot of plot points being totally unexplained, both to the films weakness and credit.

8/10- Super gr8 fun wif ur fwends

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Shocktober Days 9, 10, 11 & 12

#9- Last House on the Left (1972)

Like a lot of films which were once controversial, Last House on the Left is a bit of a damp squib in today's film context, which very little detail which would be considered 'shocking'. That said Last House on the Left is certainly a unique film which sets itself apart from the broad Horror crowd.

You see you think you've seen it all before once the film gets into the half-way point, the plot points seem fairly predictable, the helpless girls the overpowering, insane criminals, it all points to a grim conclusion. However, as previously mentioned the film does a great job in setting itself apart, going off in all and every direction till a satisfying twist and a surprising final message.

If gores what you're looking for you've kinda come to the right place, kinda, I mean there ain't much but when it comes it chooses the more artistic route than the straight up in your face shit. One truly memorable scene, for all the wrong reasons, involving a woman biting off a man's genitalia will be forever imprinted in my brain.This choice of a more artistic method of scares however, now and then, does create for some actual scary moments.

Despite the performances being suitably hammy of the 70's era, Last House on the Left still holds up today as a solid and thoroughly entertaining horror. It may not be as shocking as it was, but this doesn't mean its not still a little disturbing.

7/10- Surprisingly good fun, with a solid final act which weirdly makes you think.


#10- Society (1989)

The body horror strand of the genre used to be a side which I really disliked. The oozing pus, the weird bleeding close-ups and general bizarre nature which usually followed the sub-genre. Society, on the surface, did not look like one of these films and it wasn't until the last half hour of the film until I realised it was actually a horror. Oooo but when it does become a horror ooooo, it became a quick favourite.

From the films surface to its sturdy backbone, this film is fucked from head to toe, it's just so unnerving, it'll trap you from head to toe in the weirdest trance going. As I said however it does take its good time in getting going, cus it isn't until the films final act until the shit really starts hitting the fan. I mean weird stuff happens before that, but its all tease, and nothing in comparison to this films truly fucked up final sequence which I couldn't peel my eyes away from. Nothing can prepare you for what you will see and you will not be able too remove the image from your head the hardest you try, as the hellish soundtrack embedded into the picture pierces into your mind. At the same time however Society is a pretty effective comedy, perhaps overbalanced a little with too much comedy and not enough horror yet the comedy works well enough with the early horror teases to keep you stimulated till the films end.

Give me that on a dish and I'll be thrilled, but nah, the film ain't done there, on top of this the film carries a poignant, fitting and completely unexpected message about 'society' which gives the film a little credibility contextual background. In general making it more fun.

9/10- Society is one of the funnest horror films i've ever seen, with solid lead performances and a truly unforgeable final sequence

#11- Peeping Tom (1960)

Whilst Peeping Tom may not be the scariest film of all time, in terms of cinematic form it is almost a faultless example of what Horror can and should be.

The film is used today as a primary example of lovely cinematography, forcing the viewer to be the voyeuristic spectator of a scene as a serial killer films the last fearful moments of his victims life before he kills them. As the killer is the films protagonist we follow his every move and end up analysing his persona eventually sympathising with someone we previously thought to be a sadistic killer. Such a feat in any film is admirable however Peeping Tom manages to achieve this almost instantly as the protagonist is the voyeuristic spectator and as voyeuristic spectators ourselves we relate to his personality and thus understand his actions.

One of the films main successes is that of Karlheinz Bohm's fantastic central performance as a broken serial killer, unable to access the normalities of human life. His performance as the 'voyeuristic spectator' gives meaning to scenes which would otherwise be a little pretentious, such as one where he watches a woman dance around the TV studio as he watches from a distance, a scene which ultimately becomes the films centrepiece


Peeping Tom is hardly a horror film in the typical sense however, when analysed a little, the way it represents the cinematic spectator is certainly unnerving, giving a message which will stick with you long term.

8/10- Thrilling and consistently unnerving.


#12- The Man who Laughs- (1928)

You just have to be in the mood to watch some films, so just like you might watch an old silent movie when you're in the mood for analysis, you wouldn't when you'd just woken up on a Sunday morning. Thus I didn't enjoy The Man who Laughs that much.

The film had its moments, I'll give it that, some moments made me chill with fear, yet for a film which claims to be horror it just ain't that scary. I know it's old and there resources were limited and scares were more simple, I get it, but that doesn't excuse the fact that the film simply doesn't hold up in today's culture. It's quite massively dated, from the narrative which plods along from one meaningless scene to the next to often contrived plot points.

That said however one thing which does hold up is the make-up on the films protagonist, who is unable to remove a sinister smile from his face. This face and this face alone provided for the majority of the horror in the film, his mere facial expressions sparking uncertainty. However as the films protagonist we soon connect to him and therefore fail to find him that scary towards the end.

As much as I can see how the film would've worked in a 1920's context, it just doesn't work today.

5/10- Just a little bland and boring.