August 31, 2011

WTF? - part 1

How did they get away with this?

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

"The vampire comes to England to seduce a visitor's fiancée and inflict havoc in the foreign land."

When I first saw Francis Ford Coppola's version of "Dracula" back in 1993, I was disappointed. I went into the film thinking that I was going to see a bigger budget version of Hammer and ended up having no memory of the film other than Keanu Reeve's appalling attempt at an English accent and Gary Oldman's weird hairstyle which reminded me of a couple of breasts on his head.

Over the years, I've come to appreciate what Coppola tried to do a lot more. Instead of making a real horror film out of Bram Stoker's novel, he tried to turn it into a love story and there's nothing really wrong with that at all. Just because it didn't work so well for Universal's "The Mummy" (1932), which was itself little more than a reworking of Dracula anyway, obviously didn't deter anyone.

Of course, for a hardcore horror fan, "Bram Stoker's Dracula" was quite weak. Sexist as it may be, I think this was a film for girls or couples on a date night not people like me. My girlfriend at the time absolutely loved it and I went along with her enthusiasm for a while by collecting the comics, posters, the crappy Sega Megadrive game, and even the coffin-shaped VHS box set (with a copy of the book and a little badge in it). I even joined "The Dracula Society" in London and became penfriends with a lot of weirdos who I hope I never meet in real life. Remember, this was ages before the internet as we know it even existed.

Anyway, having rewatched "Bram Stoker's Dracula" quite a few times, I have now developed a fondness for it which is pretty much based around Winona Ryder (who does a really good English accent) and Sadie Frost. Everyone else in the film can go to hell as far as I'm concerned although Richard E. Grant was the best of the bad lot of Lucy Westenra's suitors.

I never appreciated at the time how beautiful Winona Ryder was as Mina nor did the very ginger Sadia Frost do much for me but getting older changes the way you look at things. In 1992 when the film was made, both actresses were at their peak physically and professionally. If "Bram Stoker's Dracula" should be remembered for one thing alone, it's their uber hot kiss in the rain just as Dracula arrives in England.

Bram Stoker's novel always had an element of eroticism about it with vampirism being an allegory in many ways for sexually transmitted disease. If you ever see a copy of it, I suggest reading as many of the footnotes as you can absorb in "The Essential Dracula: The Definitive Annotated Edition". I learned a lot from that book which is far more than I can say about any of the Dracula films. It was thus no great surprise that the sexual elements were made a lot more of than previously.

Another very memorable scene was the attempted seduction of Jonathan Harker by Dracula's brides. Basically, every time I watch that scene, Monica Bellucci stands out as being the most beautiful of all of them and I wouldn't mind being bitten by her myself.

A disappointing memory for me about Coppola's adaptation was that Anthony Hopkins was rumoured to be reprising his role as Van Helsing in a film that never actually happened, "Chronicles of Van Helsing". I think it became a comic book series for a while but, ultimately, the only movie which came from it was that awful Hugh Jackman version, "Van Helsing" (2004). It's probably best that it never happened though as I don't think much of Anthony Hopkin's performance in "Bram Stoker's Dracula" at all. There's too much comedy to it and the Van Helsing character seems out of place in an otherwise completely serious film. He's certainly no Peter Cushing.

Obviously, my Dracula will always be Christopher Lee so I still barely even register Gary Oldman in the movie at all. It's a shame really as the story is supposed to be about his character but the way that he played three (almost four) different versions was doomed to failure from the start as none of them make up a whole.

I'm keeping "Bram Stoker's Dracula" in the Video Vault for now though as, until somebody finally makes a definitive adaptation of the novel, it's still the most ambitious version so far. It's a very flawed film for sure but still highly watchable and entertaining for, unfortunately, mostly bad reasons. It's a time capsule of what horror became in the '90s.

August 26, 2011

I'm taking a small break

I'm going to take a small break from blogging because I'm feeling a bit burnt out and can't get motivated to write any new reviews.

Here's one of my favourite scenes from "Lust for a Vampire" (1971) to keep you entertained while I'm away.

We all know who the blonde is but how many of you know who the brunette is underneath her? Anyone want to take a guess?

August 25, 2011

Night of the Living Dorks (2004)

(AKA Die Nacht der lebenden Loser)

"Three not-so-cool school friends decide to try a old voodoo ritual. Later, they die in a car accident, but live on as zombies. But being a zombie has advantages, too..."

Here's a rarity for you, a German horror-comedy. Yes, it surprised me too as I never really think of Germans as having either a horror movie industry or a marketable sense of humour but I'm sure they do. Another complete surprise for me was that it was actually really good.

Netflix in their infinite wisdom have a dubbed version of this streaming which isn't completely awful but almost had me switching the film off in the first couple of minutes. I prefer original voices with subtitles when it comes to foreign language films but I've got a feeling that I may be in the minority otherwise dubbed versions for the hard of understanding wouldn't even exist.

"Night of the Living Dorks" was exactly what I thought it would be only even more so. It was very silly but extremely well acted. It reminded me a lot of '80s comedies such as "Porky's" (1982), "Weird Science" (1985) and "Vamp" (1986), especially the latter. It even had some quite neat effects.

As you know, ordinarily I don't review a lot of horror-comedies but, having reached the final dregs of the Netflix "Watch Instantly" horror section, I simply didn't have anything better to watch.

Of course, even though I was completely fascinated by the weirdness of a German-made American-style horror-comedy, I really only kept watching this for Collien Fernandes as Rebecca (above).

If the film has a major flaw to it other than the obvious ones which provide the predictable comedy, it's the fact that Goth-girl Rebecca is unbelievably gorgeous especially when compared to the snobby object of the leading zombie boy's affections, Uschi. How could Philip (Tino Mewes) not notice something like her living next door to him? Maybe I overthink things a bit too much.

Since I don't often recommend comedies, I'm going to recommend this one. Just like every other teen comedy in the universe, it won't leave a lasting impression on you but "Night of the Living Dorks" is an entertaining way to spend an hour and a half.

August 24, 2011

Thirst (2009)

(AKA Bakjwi)

"Through a failed medical experiment, a priest is stricken with vampirism and is forced to abandon his ascetic ways."

Even though I don't really understand most of them, I've been watching a lot of Asian films recently. Yesterday, I watched Chan-wook Park's "Thirst" and was so engrossed it in that I barely even noticed the 30 second earthquake that we had on the East coast.

I'm not even going to pretend that I know the names of any of the actors but I did recognise Ok-bin Kim who played a detective in "Arang" (2006) even though she was completely different and far more slutty here.

There isn't really a lot to say about "Thirst" except that it is over two hours long, has a few comedic flourishes, and was one of the most erotic vampire films that I've ever seen. Actually it was more than just erotic, it was absolutely filthy in places and I loved it.

As with most of these Korean movies, "Thirst" started off slow, got a bit weird, then settled down with excellent cinematography and questionable acting. I don't know how much of it was being played straight or if it was all supposed to be a comedy but I suppose you could take it any way you wanted. I watched it as a straight vampire romance which was probably the best way.

The effects were quite good but it wasn't overloaded with them. Apart from a couple of ridiculous "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" style jumps and some other feats of superhuman strength, I didn't really notice anything out of the ordinary. CGI was minimal but effective.

It's been ages since I've watched a vampire film and I simply enjoyed it for what it was. I don't think that "Thirst" is likely to convert me into a fan of Asian horror but it was a lot easier to follow than most.

August 23, 2011

The Breed (2006)

"A group of five college kids are forced to match wits with unwelcoming residents when they fly to a deserted island for a party weekend."

For quite a few years now, I've always got anxious when encountering anything labelled as "A Wes Craven Production". It usually means one of two things, either Wes Craven couldn't be bothered to direct the film himself or it's going to be completely crap. Sometimes it means both.

In this case, Nicholas Mastandrea, a former assistant/second-unit director of Wes Craven's, got his chance to shine. Unfortunately, to put it bluntly, his effort shone for all the wrong reasons.

Before I say anything else, let me just explain that I hate dogs. Maybe hate is too strong a word but I thoroughly dislike the pointless things. After working at an SPCA for a year, being dragged round in circles by them and picking up bags of their warm shit, I really had enough of dogs to last me a lifetime. Dogs stink, eat everything in their path (including their aforementioned shit), have an IQ equivalent to that of a root vegetable, and demand far too much attention. Similarities to some of my previous girlfriends abound.

I'm not somebody who would ever be cruel to a dog but I'd never want to own one. I'm a cat person and they own me. There's no reason to have a dog unless you work on a farm or something where their instincts for herding and chewing everything might be useful. Locked up in a cage (what American's refer to as a crate) in somebody's living room is not a good life for a dog and, in my opinion, nobody should be allowed to own one if it can't live outside.

The reason that I'm telling you all this is that my previous experience with dogs had an enormous effect on my appreciation of "The Breed". I'm going to backtrack a little bit before getting to the use of dogs in the film though.

Basically, you've got Michelle Rodriquez, Oliver Hudson, Taryn Manning, Eric Lively, and Hill Harper all trying to be younger than their years and failing miserably while being menaced by a pack of feral dogs on an island.

Similarities to the opening scenes of "American Gothic" (1988) are so obvious that I'm not even going to dwell on them too much except to say that rich kids who can hire and fly planes aren't exactly anyone I can identify with. There are also a few nods to "April Fool's Day" (1986) although I expect that anything set on an island where somebody has inherited a house will seem like that.

The first noticeable big thing is that Michelle Rodriguez begins the film by trying to be pretty and feminine for once. Eventually she gives up and turns fierce again but it's not until nearly the end of the film so kudos to her for almost breaking out of her usual typecasting.

The second even more important aspect of the film is that the characters are all somewhat likeable at first especially Hill "CSI: NY" Harper as Noah who announces, "I'm a cat person!" Their actions are a little bit less stupid than those of most characters in a horror movie even if it doesn't do them a lot of good.

The real stars are, of course, the dogs. There are quite a lot of them too, mostly German Shepherd mixes (what we used to call Alsations in Britain), and all are surprisingly well trained. I have to give the animal wrangler credit for making them behave themselves but they are far from scary looking. The background story is that they are genetically altered research animals who are extra intelligent and more ferocious. Yawn! Where have we all heard that before in at least half a dozen other dog films?

Look, seriously, the only way that a dog would be extra intelligent is if you took out its brain and replaced it with jello (yes, jelly, my English friends, but it sounds funnier in American). That was strike one against this film.

Next, the dog attack scenes are beyond ridiculous when you slow down the action even more than the several times that that it's already put into slow motion for you. These dogs aren't attacking, they are playing! One particularly cruel moment involving a tan German Shepherd has the beast rolling around on the floor with his tongue hanging out in pleasure. I may not like dogs but I know how they work. Strike two.

Surprisingly, the air of menace is still reasonably well conveyed until the humans start getting picked off one by one and then it's just "zombie movie mode" all the way to the end. The film looks and feels like yet another "... of the Dead" clone/remake but with dogs instead of zombies including bites causing an infection and the very final moments.

"The Breed" is, in fact, so derivative of about a hundred other films, that it's almost the "Scream" of animal horror movies (which isn't at all surprising when you look at the director's history). Plot holes and continuity errors aside, I don't think that it has one original moment. There's even a spoken fourth-wall-breaking nod to "Cujo" (1983) which is completely unnecessary considering that most of the scenes are recognisably borrowed.

Even with all its faults, "The Breed" is still quite watchable and entertaining apart from a slightly plodding middle section. It looks and sounds good, the acting is credible, and it's not quite as superficial as it could have been.

I'm going to rate it as "average" because, although it's just not as well done as other killer dog movies, I almost forgot what I was watching a couple of times and nearly enjoyed it.

August 22, 2011

Crap I've watched on Netflix - part 7

Last night I put these films on for company while I did more interesting things such as playing on Twitter and cutting my toenails. Yes, sarcasm is indeed one more service which I offer for free.

Slaughter NightSlaughter Night (2006)

"A group of friends venture into a mine where convicted killers were once forced to off themselves in this award-winning Dutch horror film. Shaken by her father's death, teen Kristel (Victoria Koblenko) travels to the mine to retrieve his things. Unaware that the mine company once sent convicts to their death by making them ignite gas leaks, the friends unwittingly disturb the spirit of a killer who seizes the chance to kill again after 100 years."

There are a lot of reasons why the Dutch aren't famous for making horror films and "Slachtnacht" was the epitome of all of them. It started out promisingly enough but just turned into one of the most badly edited and jerkily filmed borefests that I've ever barely made it through. All I learned was that Ukrainian girls are slightly prettier than Dutch girls. Cloning "My Bloody Valentine" without any action until right at the end was a big mistake.

Three Extremes IIThree... Extremes II (2002)

"Three of Asia's most prominent horror directors - Ji-woon Kim, Nonzee Nimibutr and Peter Chan - offer up some of their creepiest tales in this spine-chilling collection of short films. In Kim's 'Memories,' a husband awakens to find a mutilated body in his car. In Nimibutr's 'The Wheel,' a Thai village is terrorized by colorful puppets. And in Chan's 'Going Home,' a father is held captive by a man who keeps his dead wife alive."

This was simply not up to the same standard as the original "Three Extremes" and that anthology had its fair share of flaws too. "Memories" looked good but was just boring. "The Wheel" looked awful, promised too much and was confusing. Only "Going Home" was any good and even then it wasn't any better than one of the poorer "Twilight Zone" episodes. Nothing scary here.

Devil's OffspringDevils Offspring (2001)

"Four students contend with evil beyond their wildest nightmares in this supernatural chiller starring Michael Wong and Pinky Cheung. When the youngsters move into a dormitory for a summer session, they believe they're in for the time of their lives. But when a girl is found dead and a string of bizarre events ensues, they suspect that the ultimate evil - the daughter of Satan, disguised as one of their own - is stalking them."

When exactly was this really made? It didn't look like a film from this century and was so badly translated that I couldn't work out what was going on. Curiously, it was also dubbed but not into English. I gave up after 20 minutes so I have no idea what it was about.

The VictimThe Victim (2006)

"After actress Ting (Pitchanart Sakakorn) reenacts the violent murder of former beauty queen Meen (Apasiri Nitibhon) in a movie, she experiences a mystical connection with the dead woman and begins to have horrific visions in this spine-chiller from Thailand. Driven by the nightmarish pictures in her head, Ting decides to look into the mysterious murder herself. She soon discovers evidence that the killer may still be on the loose."

I'm still not sure if this was supposed to be a comedy of some kind. I watched nearly half of it but couldn't get interested in it even though the relationship between the cop and the girl was kind of sweet. Maybe I'll give this one another try some time but it was very cheap and I don't think I'd ever have the attention span to work out what was happening with the ghost story.

Are You in the House Alone!Are You in the House Alone? (1978)

"Teenager Gail Osborne (Kathleen Beller) is plagued by strange phone calls and a series of scary notes left in her school locker. She sets out to identify the culprit, but her terror mounts when the man begins calling her while she's out baby-sitting. The suspects include her boyfriend (Scott Colomby), her best friend's beau (Dennis Quaid) and a creepy teacher. Blythe Danner co-stars as Gail's mother in this disturbing thriller."

It's nice of Netflix to stream movies which are only available on VHS but not when they are made-for-TV dramas about rape victims. The title and description made me think that it was a clone of some more obvious horror movies but it was far from it. I suppose it's notable for an early appearance by Dennis Quaid but everybody else's acting was so wooden that I didn't care.

Oh well, that was another absolutely mind-numbing night over. One of the highlights was being asked by my favourite Russian pop singer on Twitter, "Do you like me?" I would have been facetious and told her, "No. That's why we're mutually following each other and I hang on your every word." but I don't know enough Russian to get away with it. I also managed to trim my "sloths" immaculately.

August 21, 2011

Britain's only horror host

One of the things which I'm sure people wonder about is where I got the name for my blog from.

When my movie reviewing career started out as a column in a vampire magazine back in 1994, it was just the first thing that popped into my head based on "blood" and "vaults" which I associate with vampires for some reason. I would have called it "Dr Blood's Coffin" except that it was already the title of a 1961 Frankenstein subgenre horror film which had nothing to do with vampires at all.

In 1992, however, there was also this guy, Dr Walpurgis, who introduced BBC2's Hallowe'en night spectacular after everyone had either been traumatised or bored to death by the Screen One mockumentary drama, "Ghostwatch", over on BBC1.

Nobody thought they'd ever hear anything more of this character until he turned up again a couple of years later as "Dr Terror", the host of many BBC1 horror double-features. I absolutely loved the selection and put my video recorder to good use on Friday nights by taping every single one of them. I even went as far as designing special VHS sleeves with his big evil face on them to house my collection and I did it all without any of the benefits of modern desktop publishing too. I used to clip the film listings out of the Radio Times, glue them to the back of an already photocopied VHS sleeve and fill in the other details with felt-tipped pens and coloured pencils. They looked quite good too, all lined up on my bookshelves.

The only thing which was somewhat annoying and embarassing for me was that Dr Terror's shows were initially called "The Vault of Horror" and, later, "Dr Terror's Vault of Horror". It was a little bit too close for comfort. I was making a small career for myself in a more literary field and thought that I was being very original especially as my review column appeared at least six months before this new incarnation of Dr Walpurgis.

Ironically, the magazine that I used to write for and "Dr Terror's Vault of Horror" both died out around the same time but I'm still going. Now I can look back on those days with a lot of fondness especially as Dr Terror kick-started my quite fanatical horror movie collecting.

Thank you, Dr Terror, for providing me with more Hammer and Amicus films than I would ever go out of my way to purchase but, most of all, for being Britain's only horror host.

Another blog award

Today I received this blog award from Emma at "Little Gothic Horrors" although it was not for "Dr Blood's Video Vault". I've got lots of those already.

The award has been given to my other blog - "The Horror Cats" - which some of you are more familiar with than others.

The Horror Cats

Just like all the other awards which are getting passed around, it comes with a few obligations which I will now try to fulfil.

iDig Your Blog Award Protocol:

1. Gratefully accept this award.

Thank you, me so grateful, me love you longtime. :)

2. Link to the person you received it from. Done (again).

3. Post 3 interesting facts about yourself.
  • I recently attended a culinary arts program and graduated as "valedictorian" of my class so, among many other things, I am now also a fully trained chef and won't poison myself with my own cooking.
  • For many years I worked as a web developer when it was still quite glamorous and well paid to do so. I no longer have the patience with all that coding which is why I use Blogger.
  • "I. Love. Cats. I just love cats, I love every kind of cat, I really love cats and I just want to hug all of them. It's crazy. I think about how many don't have a home and how I should have them and how cute they are and their ears and the whiskers and the nose. I just love them and I want them and I want them in a basket and with little bow ties. I want them to be on a rainbow and just in my bed. And I just want a house full of them and for us to just roll around." :)

4. Pass this award around to at least 5 blogs you dig.

Since I already mentioned a load of them when I got my previous award, I'll choose some different ones this time just to be fair.

5. Notify them.

I just have. :)

My minions are now happy. >^..^<

August 20, 2011

Dead & Buried (1981)

"A suspense horror film set in a small coastal town where, after a series of gory murders commited by mobs of townspeople against visiting tourists, the corpses begin to come back to life."

Many years ago I had the book of "Dead & Buried" and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I didn't have much choice really as the DPP had included the film in the infamous list of "Video Nasties" and there was no way of seeing it.

Even though it was re-released uncut in Britain in 2004, it has taken until now for me to watch it thanks to Netflix. I wasn't disappointed either as it still holds up very well 30 years on. The opening scene in particular has a massive surprise for anyone expecting a run-of-the-mill '80s horror.

Starring James Farentino, who you might recognise from "The Possessed" (1977) and "Dynasty", as the sheriff of a small town, plus a lot of other well known American TV actors from the time, "Dead & Buried" is undoubtedly derivative of a lot of other "small town with a secret" mysteries, especially "The Stepford Wives" (1975), but it has a lot more atmosphere than most.

There is still some controversy over whether or not Dan O'Bannon actually wrote any of the screenplay or just allowed his name to be added to it after the success of "Alien" but it's still a pretty good script anyway. The dialogue is a little bit sparse and the characters don't have any depth to them but you'll discover that there's a good reason for that at the end.

Some of the scenes are a little bit disjointed but it's really no different to a TV movie in style and most people wouldn't notice. Gary A. Sherman may not have been the greatest director in the world especially as "Death Line" (1973) was his only claim to fame before this film but he did a competent job here.

Of course, the best reason for watching "Dead & Buried" is to see the late Lisa Blount being deliciously sexy and evil as a nurse. She was also in John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness" (1987) but her most famous role was in "An Officer and a Gentleman" (1982) which I know we've all watched at some point even though we probably won't admit to it in company.

You'll also spot Robert Englund in a minor role before he was to become famous for being Freddy.

Everybody plays it straight in spite of the story becoming even more far-fetched than "The Wicker Man" (1973) so it's one of first real horror films from the '80s rather than the comedy-horrors which eventually took over and ruined the genre.

The only major fault with "Dead & Buried" is that the twist ending is very predictable if you've watched a lot of "Twilight Zone" episodes.

August 19, 2011

Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

"A homeless vigilante blows away crooked cops, paedophile Santas, and other scumbags with his trusty pump-action shotgun."

Having just watched "Hobo with a Shotgun", this isn't going to be a review so much as a rant against intentionally making movies "so bad that they're good". It seems to be just a lame excuse for having poor filmmaking skills and I'm sick to death of this trend. I'm also getting increasingly annoyed by the word "grindhouse" and its frequent use in the claim that a movie wasn't supposed to be any good in the first place.

Until the box office failure of "Grindhouse" (2007), I had never even heard the term "grindhouse" used before. For me, it conjures up an image of porn cinemas full of dirty old men in raincoats with hats on their laps not low-budget action flicks. I'm still not entirely convinced that the word wasn't invented by Quentin Tarantino and thrown into the world as if it was something that everybody should know just so that he could plagiarise ideas from old movies. In all the years that I'd been reviewing, I'd never heard it mentioned once in relation to exploitation movies and I've come across some pretty obscure terms.

So if the word "grindhouse" is bogus, it's obvious that the films themselves don't really belong to that category especially not these new faux-grindhouse B-movies such as "Planet Terror", "Death Proof", "Machete" and now, based on another fake trailer from the theatrical release of "Grindhouse", "Hobo with a Shotgun".

There were, of course, a lot of badly made low-budget films from all genres back in the '60s and '70s ranging from "spaghetti westerns" to "kung fu" and "peplum" epics, and, obviously, there was a good proportion of sci-fi, horror and crime dramas among all the exploitation films otherwise I wouldn't have any knowledge of them. Most people have never seen or have any interest in this dreck unless a particular title has a cult following. However, these films weren't only shown in seedy fleapits but also in drive-ins and mainstream movie theatres as supporting features because they were cheap to hire. The whole suggestion that there was ever a certain type of movie other than porn which was specifically designed to be shown in a "Grind House" is therefore flawed.

To lump a group of these films together as "grindhouse" and then to try to emulate their failings rather than their good points is also just plain wrong. Those bygone filmmakers didn't set out to make bad films but they often simply didn't have the budget or talent to make them any better. The European clones of better American movies were, however, another story entirely.

"Hobo with a Shotgun" really sickened me because it was just another part of the Tarantino-inspired hipster trend to intentionally make crappy films based on the worst examples from the '70s and hype them as if they are something "cool". It's the Emperor's new clothes over and over again. Absolutely anyone can make a bad movie, just hand me a camera and I'll show you. It's the combination of talent, discipline and hard work needed to make a good one which people should find more impressive not lazy efforts like this.

Choose (2011)

"A journalism student tracks a killer with the help of her detective father and a therapist."

You would think that a combination of "Saw" and "Untraceable" featuring a killer who forces his victims to choose between one gruesome fate or another equally as bad just couldn't go wrong. Unfortunately, it did.

This was yet another absolutely awful film on Netflix which was so badly done that it deserves a special mention rather than being passed over quickly in a list. Somebody on Reddit was watching it last night so, even though they didn't recommend it, I had to check it out for myself.

Featuring quite a few well known actors (such as Kevin Pollak, Bruce Dern, and Talia Balsam) but actually starring two who you've probably never heard of (Katheryn Winnick and Nicholas Tucci) was the least of this film's problems.

"Choose" must have seemed like a great idea on paper, but the amateur execution and off camera kills made this R-rated horror look like a PG-13. Some people might like to use their imagination, but I wanted to see the gore and I felt cheated. There was just no real shock value to any of it without actually seeing the brutal acts themselves and, it almost goes without saying, there was nothing scary at all.

The choices which the victims had to make were so predictable that they made even the most unimaginative traps from the "Saw" franchise look good. I'm not a fan of the later "Saw" movies, but I'd actually rather watch any of those again than a sanitised clone like this.

In fairness, I didn't get completely bored with the story until 45 minutes in. Since the running time was around 100 minutes that was still nearly an hour of tedium. I just didn't care enough about the main character even though she was alright to look at, and there weren't enough vignette kills to keep me entertained. Even the unrealistic use of computers and the internet washed over me.

Some of the acting was simply atrocious even though the dialogue wasn't too bad. The delivery was often bland and emotionless which, I suppose, wasn't any different to anything else in the film. I could see that the script would probably have made an excellent book about 20 years ago but it failed miserably as a modern horror film. As a cure for insomnia though, I'd still give it full marks.

There was one really good jump scare which almost woke me back up, but the denouement was as contrived as could be. There wasn't even much of a mystery either as it was impossible to predict what the killer's motivation was until quite late. All the detective work was merely padding and, when the reveal came from the killer's own mouth, it was all wrapped up far too quickly.

The ending itself was particularly lame, and was even followed by another clichéd ending just in case the first one wasn't good enough. Neither one impressed me although the intention was clearly to be clever. With better pacing, it might have been good, but as it was, it was simply disappointing.

"Choose" is available to watch through the Netflix stream right now, but if at all possible, I suggest that you choose something else.

August 16, 2011

Final Destination 5 (2011)

"Survivors of a suspension-bridge collapse learn there's no way you can cheat Death." 

Well, I've just watched "Final Destination 5" and, even though I didn't see it in 3D, it was awesome!

I'm sure that a lot of people have been saying this but "Final Destination 5" is easily the best of the sequels and even gives "Final Destination" itself a run for its money. Everything you've come to expect from the franchise has been repeated yet again but slicker, faster and gorier than ever before.

I don't know who any of the actors were apart from Tony Todd (who appeared as little more than a cameo) but I recognised a couple of them from TV. It doesn't matter who plays who in a movie like this anyway as all you really care about are the death scenes and, rest assured, they were brutal!

As with all current movies, I'm not going to give you any spoilers but I am still going to criticise a few things so if you don't want to know, please stop reading after this paragraph.

The first thing I noticed was that the levels of CGI had been increased severely. I doubt that there were even any practical effects used other than blood and makeup but I'm willing to stand corrected about that. It was really good CGI nonetheless and totally in keeping with the rest of the film especially if you are lucky enough to see it in 3D.

Secondly, the acting was very good. Even though it was just another bunch of pretty young adults, this time on a work trip rather than a school vacation, there were a couple of characters to care about and others not so much.

The pacing, which was very fast throughout, didn't allow much time to flesh out any of the characters, but everyone did a damn fine job with what was there. Nobody "phoned it in" when they really could have. I didn't warm to any of the female characters particularly, but I'm sure that I wasn't even supposed to. The fun of all these movies apart from the original is watching people who you can't stand meet their maker.

One actor stood out enough for me to have to look him up but not because of his acting prowess. Miles Fisher looked just like Tom Cruise in some shots which, now that I have further information on him from the IMDb, should only to be expected since impersonating Tom Cruise is his claim to fame. Yes, I am getting out of touch with these young actors, but I doubt that I'll see them in anything else ever again anyway. I'm not saying that to be mean, but I just don't have any interest in the TV shows that they are in.

Going back to the effects, some were too fast to be completely satisfying especially at the otherwise fantastic start, and others could have been a lot gorier for my own tastes, but I don't think the average horror audience would be disappointed. Most of the deaths were incredibly inventive though the use of suspense wasn't quite as good as in the first film.

I've intentionally mentioned the original "Final Destination" a couple of times because, of course, there's a slight twist in this "sequel" in that it's actually a prequel. I didn't even notice until right at the end when it was all tied together.

There's no way of watching "Final Destination 5" without comparing it to "Final Destination" because, apart from the nature of the deaths themselves, it's the same story all over again. If you haven't seen any others in the series then the beauty of this one is that you really don't ever need to, but it certainly made me want to revisit them all.

I highly recommend that you all watch "Final Destination 5" because it has considerably made up for "The Final Destination" (2009) which was pretty much hated by everyone.

What are your favourite horror movie snacks?

One of the biggest culture shocks for me when I first arrived in America was the concessions stands in the local cinema. No, I'm not talking about the exorbitant price of things or even the giant buckets of coca-cola which should be humanly impossible to drink if you only have one bladder. What amazed me most was the amount of hot food available.

Now call me old-fashioned but I have never seen a movie theatre with hotdogs and hamburgers being sold in it before. I still wonder how hungry you have to be that you can't go for an hour and a half without throwing a $10 hotdog down your neck. Personally, I'd rather wait until the film was over and I could go to a real restaurant or, at the very least. a cheaper one.

Another thing which I find strange is the salted popcorn. In Britain, although salted popcorn is available, the majority of people go for sweet popcorn and, in particular, bags of Butterkist. Trying to find toffee popcorn in America has been a completely fruitless task and it's even more difficult than procuring back bacon rather than that overpriced streaky rubbish for my sandwiches. You know we throw that away in England, don't you?

Anyway, since everybody's taste is different with preferred snacks ranging from M&Ms to beef jerky, I thought I'd go a bit more "interactive" for once and let you tell me what your favourite thing to eat is when you watch a horror movie.

I don't want any of those feeble excuses about the gory scenes making you want to throw up or never eat again as I know you are all chowing down with the best of them during the most grisly disembowelments possible. You know that scene in "Hellbound: Hellraiser 2" where the skinless Julia first appears? Doesn't that make you want a juicy, dripping steak?

Let me start you off. For ghostie films, I like as many bags of Walkers Cheese & Onion crisps as possible washed down with Tizer. For slasher films, it's got to be chocolate. For vampire films, I usually work my way through a big tin of cashews.

So far I have never bought a hotdog or a hamburger to eat during a film as I always think that the smell of the things would be really annoying to other people. I've never actually seen anyone else eating them in a cinema either but I'm sure somebody does or they wouldn't have them for sale.

What do you eat? Let me know in the comments below.

Patrick (1978)

"A comatose hospital patient harasses and kills though his powers of telekinesis to claim his private nurse as his own."

I heard an unsubstantiated rumour a few years ago that "Patrick" was going to be remade, but I've still yet to find any information about it. Hopefully nobody remakes this Aussie classic as I am quite fond of it.

Of course, I'd be lying if I said the main reason that I like this film so much is anything other than the presence of Susan Penhaligon in it. As far as the story goes, I prefer "The Medusa Touch" (1978) which had a bigger budget and many more memorable scenes even though Richard Burton's performance was undeniably wooden in places.

Having said that, Robert Thompson as Patrick couldn't be more intentionally wooden himself. He's in a kind of coma for one thing albeit with his eyes open. If that isn't creepy enough for you, he has telepathic powers and has a crush on his new nurse, Kathy Jacquard (Susan Penhaligon). I can't fault any of that for a moment.

"Patrick" is slightly predictable in that the action, when it happens, is somewhat telegraphed, but there's occasionally a nice amount of suspense with it. Some very good characters and overly serious acting keep it all entertaining, but I'm the first to admit that it's arguably all quite ridiculous really. That never stopped anyone enjoying "Carrie" (1976) though.

It's all eerie stuff with quite a few bizarre moments. If I say any more, it'll ruin it for you but "Patrick" is very adult and not some cheesy low-budget nonsensel. It'll even make you think about some controversial subjects if you are in the right frame of mind.

One warning I'll give you is that if you are at all fond of frogs then you'd better not watch this. There is a very cruel scene which isn't fake. Personally, I can't stand reptiles or amphibians (though I've eaten both), so it didn't really bother me.

My only big criticism of "Patrick" is that it's often a little bit slow and, unfortunately, boring for a modern audience. Although it looks cheap (and it was), if you give it a chance, you'll probably enjoy it.

August 15, 2011

Shall we play another game?

Obama vs Zombies (Adventure game) | Play more games

"Zombies are attacking the White House and Obama is left to fend for himself. Find weapons and survivors to fight your way through waves of zombies until someone comes to your rescue."

Obama vs Zombies? What the hell? I found this game at Owen's World and it amused me. It takes a while to load though.

It's best to play this at Owen's World and select the "Large" pop-up window as the embedded version doesn't show the whole game. Remember to shoot the zombies in the head!

If you like this game, I have a lot more of them on The Bloody Forum.

I'm collecting web badges

Also known as "Antipixel Buttons" (after the first designer of these things).

So far I have these which I've mostly accumulated from joining various blog directories and social networking sites.

Dr Bloods Video Vault - Blogged
Movie blogs & blog posts
Blogs Directory Blog Directory
The Bloody Forum
Site Meter
Movie Review Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Blog Directory
Entertainment blogs
submit to reddit

I've even found a site - - to make more of them.

Is anyone else collecting a lot of these or am I just that bored?