September 30, 2011

Trollhunter (2010)

(AKA Trolljegeren)

"A group of students investigate a series of mysterious bear killings, but learns that there are much more dangerous things going on. They start to follow a mysterious hunter, learning that he is actually a troll hunter."

Since everyone else is doing the "Blogger Zombie Walk" today, I thought I'd just be a total contrarian and review "Trollhunter" instead.

I actually watched this last weekend when it first appeared on Netflix but decided to wait until I'd seen it at least a couple of times over before seeing if I could write about it in a good way. "Trollhunter", you see, is yet another one of those "found footage" movies which I hate so much plus it's Norwegian.

Norway isn't exactly well known for its horror movies apart from the excellent "Fritt Vilt" (2006) and a couple of others which were not nearly as good, so I wasn't expecting a lot from "Trollhunter". However, I was generally quite pleasantly surprised.

Making allowances for the style of the film, the acting seemed to be pretty good. Obviously I don't understand Norwegian, so my assessment is only based on the actors' expressions rather than their delivery. Having said that, it's still supposed to be a wry comedy, but it undoubtedly comes across as a lot more serious to an only English-speaking audience, which is definitely a good thing.

After the unnecessary amount of overrating which "Dead Snow" (2009) got, I really thought that I was going to hate this horror-comedy just as much, but I actually got quite caught up in it and enjoyed it for what it was. Johanna Mørck, who was also in "Fritt Vilt II" (2008), really stole the show for me with her big-eyed, knowing looks at the camera.

Apart from Tomas Alf Larsen. who was Eirek in "Fritt Vilt" and "Fritt Vilt II", the rest of the cast seem to be complete unknowns in the horror genre. Otto Jespersen, who plays Hans the Trollhunter, is the best known to Norwegian audiences due to his comedy TV show, but it hasn't travelled outside of the country, so you'd be forgiven if you've never heard of any of these people before.

Glenn Erland Tosterud as Thomas had the most character development going on if only because he was in front of the camera more than anyone else. Although the titular hero is supposed to be the focus, he's a bit too dour to form any attachment to. Thomas' gleefulness is a lot more infectious, and he's the one that you want to care about more than the others.

As for the trolls themselves, they are very well done. Although they were meant to look somewhat silly and like something which Ray Harryhausen would have been very pleased with, they could be quite menacing at times. I've probably forgotten the names of some of them them but they include a three-headed Tosserlad, a Ringlefinch who lives under a bridge, Mountain Kings who fart a lot, and an enormous Jotnar whose spectacular appearance is given away on the DVD sleeve.

Writer/director André Øvredal alluded to fairytales while creating a whole new backstory to trolls which I found very clever. I also liked the camerawork which showed a lot of Norway. I'm not much of a traveller and should probably be ashamed to say that I've never had any great desire to visit Norway. It actually looks a lot like rural America in places only slightly less shit.

If you absolutely hated "The Blair Witch Project" and "Cloverfield" then you'll probably want to give "Trollhunter" a miss too. If you give it a chance though, you'll find that the Norwegians have actually succeeded where all the other "found footage" filmmakers have failed. It's just a pity that they didn't make any of it scary.

September 29, 2011

Below (2002)

"In the dark silence of the sea during World War II, the submarine U.S.S. Tiger Shark prowls on what should be a routine rescue mission. But for the shell-shocked crew, trapped together in the sub's narrow corridors and constricted spaces, this is about to become a journey into the sensory delusions, mental deceptions and runaway fear that lurk just below the surface of the ocean and deep inside the human psyche."

Ignore that hyperbole, "Below" is just a predictable ghost story set on a WW2 submarine.

I enjoyed it in places because it reminded me of the true ghost story (that scared me when I first read it in the 1974 Lion annual) about the German u-boat ub-65. You can read the story here.

But, it wasn't really as scary as that story and relied a bit too heavily on CGI for my liking. Even the submarine itself was just CGI. It was well done but you can always tell. Experts have noted that the submarine itself is too big for the time period. I have no idea about such things myself and don't think it matters all that much.

A submarine full of men doesn't really do a lot for me anyway. I didn't really fancy Olivia Williams as "Claire" the doctor (though in real life I think I might) and I hate the sight of Dexter Fletcher in anything. At least he did his own accent this time and didn't try to do a fake American one again like so many of the rest of the cast.

They are all established actors in film so, for once, I don't have to worry about mentioning their acting ability. Oh, go on then, I will. They were about as average as could be expected with the subject matter but were no worse than a typical episode of "Eastenders". The whole thing reeks of expensive "Made for TV" movie though.

The story was quite entertaining, the camerawork and sound were really good, but I started to get bored with it towards the end. The film just didn't sustain tension or excitement long enough to be described as "tense" or "exciting" although there were one or two good moments. It wasn't particularly gory either apart from some gruesome aftermath scenes.

September 28, 2011

Leviathan (1989)

"Underwater deep-sea miners encounter a Soviet wreck and bring back a dangerous cargo to their base on the ocean floor with horrifying results..."

Yes, "Leviathan" is just a clone of "The Thing" mixed with a healthy dollop of "Alien" and set underwater but it's not a bad film if you like that kind of thing.

With a cast full of lots of big names from the '80s including Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, Amanda Pays, Ernie Hudson and Meg Foster, "Leviathan" can't really go wrong (and doesn't) except for being a knockoff of other films.

This is a great product of the late '80s with its original music by Jerry Goldsmith and creature effects created by Stan Winston (and his whole team!), but, even though I had it on VHS for years, I never made it through to the end for some reason. If I did, I simply can't remember.

Having recently purchased a DVD version, I endured once again the disappointment of never seeing Amanda Pays get naked and wondering how she ended up married to Corbin Bernsen. Ah well, they must be good together since they've been married since a year before she even made this film.

Except for Amanda Pays, everybody seemed to phone-in their performances but it didn't really matter for a film of this kind. I did enjoy seeing Peter Weller minus his "Robocop" gear and actually trying to act although he was clearly upstaged by Richard Crenna who had far too little screen time in comparison.

The effects were still pretty good but not as memorable as Stan Winston's other work, the characters were clichéd but likeable, and the story itself wasn't a bad way to pass 98 minutes of my time, however, I'm still only going to rate this as just average.

September 27, 2011

I bought that for a dollar - part 1

In the midst of everything else, I am now launching a new irregular feature consisting of anything horror movie related which I have bought for a dollar.

First up is this Vincent Price double feature DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment.

I already had these movies several times over on other Mill Creek packs but I saw an online offer for $1 and decided that I could never have too many versions of my favourite Vincent Price films.

Obviously, I've reviewed them: House on Haunted Hill (1959) and The Last Man on Earth (1960).

Blogger Zombie Walk

Although I really have too much going on to get involved in this as much as I would like to, if you have a horror blog and want to contribute something zombie for the "Blogger Zombie Walk", have a read of Autumn Forest's blog - - and let her know that you want to participate.

I've already written my "Top Ten Zombie Films" list some time ago so all I now have to offer is this:

Julie (Mindy Clarke) was the hottest zombie ever in "Return of the Living Dead III" (1993).

September 26, 2011

Bear (2010)

"Two young couples are driving through a remote forest when their car breaks down. When a run-in with a curious grizzly bear ends up with the bear being shot to death, the bear's mate arrives on the scene and vengefully attacks their van."

Continuing my season of horror films which I've never seen before, I decided to watch this animal revenge story featuring the least menacing grizzly bears ever.

I don't know why exactly it is that Americans find bears so terrifying especially as you are hardly ever like to see one inside your parents' basement. If you do leave your comfort zone and head off out into the woods, you probably won't see a bear anywhere either as they are mostly shy creatures who tend to avoid humans unless they are desperate for food.

Even though I've heard rumours that there are bears all over the place where I live, I've never seen one in four years and I've been looking hard. It will probably happen on the one day that I don't have a jar of honey with me too.

But I suppose you want to know about the film? The IMDb synopsis which I quoted at the beginning really gives it all away.

What that brief description of the plot doesn't tell you is that the couples in "Bear" are the annoying, bickering kind who do nothing but talk about their uber important relationships all the way through while either hiding in an old water pipe or their car as the vengeful bear attacks them over and over again like a bigger version of "Cujo".

The characters are also absolutely hateful cowards who are over eager to shoot the first grizzly bear at point blank range about a dozen times but, fortunately, for those of us who love justice, they have no idea that you are supposed to stand your ground and make yourself look as big as possible instead of running away with your arms flailing everywhere when they encounter the second bear.

Make no mistake about it, "Bear" is a terrible film with no scares, gore or excitement. The ending makes no sense either as the two brothers just decide to sacrifice themselves to the bear in an act of atonement without even thinking of offering the contents of their tasty pic-a-nic basket first.

At just over an hour and a quarter long, "Bear" is a mercifully short film but still an hour too long for what it tries (and fails) to accomplish.

September's Horror Cat of the Month

I know it's late in the month but here's Ricky Martin from "American Psycho 2" (2002).

"A girl named Rachael has developed a taste for murder and will stand at nothing to become a college professor's assistant."

Ricky Martin survives after being cruelly caged in a microwave oven as a decoy and witnessing the death of his human as she gets bludgeoned to death in front of him. He even finds a piece of ribbon to play with, which was attached to the frame of his human's "Employee of the Month" award, so it isn't all bad.

For more horror cats, please check out

The Horror Cats

September 25, 2011

Mulberry Street (2006)

"A deadly infection breaks out in Manhattan, causing humans to devolve into blood-thirsty rat creatures. Six recently evicted tenants must survive the night and protect their downtown apartment building as the city quickly spirals out of control."

I'd actually watched this before when it came out but wrote it off as being just another slightly below average apocalyptic virus film and didn't make it to the end.

The rat-creatures were just ridiculous and could have been zombies for all that they really contributed to originality of the story. They didn't look all that good but then none of "Mulberry Street" was all that aesthetically pleasing anyway.

If you like this grainy, low-budget style of filmmaking then I'm sure you'll get more out of "Mulberry Street" than I did. It was just too much like "YouTube" with far too many moles, freckles, scars and wrinkles on display which made me feel more nauseated than entertained especially after seeing how much Bo Corre had aged since she was once the uber hot Swede in "Eldorado" back in the day.

The biggest problem though was that the last half-hour was a chaotic mess which I'm sure was intentional but didn't help much with any attachment I was feeling for the characters. It was a shame really as the characterisation started really well and then sort of just gave up in favour of poor special effects and hard to follow action sequences.

With only a few days to go before Netflix remove this from their "Watch Instantly" section, you should watch it again now (as I did) before it's too late. "Mulberry Street" is probably not something that you'd ever buy unless it was part of some kind of multi-pack.

September 24, 2011

Episode 50 (2011)

"Experience the true terror of things that go bump in the dead of night in the blood-curdling Episode 50, one of this year’s most nerve-shredding, spine-chilling supernatural thrillers."

If you are a fan of all those stupid "Ghost Hunters" or "Most Haunted" TV series (which I refer to as "Bullshit or Not?" after watching "Amazon Women on the Moon" or some such crap years ago), then you'll probably thoroughly enjoy "Episode 50".

However, if you loathe badly made mockumentaries where no attempt is made to include the "found footage" cameraman as a character then you'll probably switch this off quite early on without even a second thought.

In the interest of providing at least one "true" ghost story film for my "Hallowe'en Countdown", I suffered through the appallingly wooden acting and two decent effects of this film just to have something to write about.

I didn't completely hate it but only because I just couldn't get into it enough to feel anything about it one way or another. The characters were just too poorly defined to care much about them and the haunting of whatever asylum it was supposed to be didn't really interest me all that much either. I've seen it all done on TV before but for real and even then it was boring.

If you like this kind of thing then I recommend "Paranormal Entity" (2009) from The Asylum (not "Paranormal Activity" or its sequel) instead. Why you would like this style of filmmaking though is something which I can't even begin to understand in the first place.

September 23, 2011

Preparing my Hallowe'en snacking - part 1

Because my favourite British snacks have yet to find their way to America, I have now discovered a couple of alternatives from ALDI which may interest other ex-pats who have been suffering as much as I have over the last four years.

Clancy's Sour Cream & Onion Potato Chips are Walker's Cheese & Onion crisps but by another name. They taste identical to the original Walker's "cheese & onion" crisps before some idiot in Britain decided to use the Doritos cheese flavouring on them instead.

$1.59 for 312g (11oz) rather than 45p for 34.5g.

I always hated the blue bag. It should be green like Golden Wonder!

Café Bistro Orange Jaffa Cakes are actually better than McVitie's Jaffa Cakes due to being covered with dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate. I always found the original Jaffa Cakes to be a bit sickly after eating three or four boxes of them in a row. Plus you get 24 of these in a box for half as much money rather than a measly 12.

24 of the little orangey buggers for $1.99.

£1.05 for 12? That's nearly $2.

ALDI rocks! It's like a real supermarket but for pikeys.

A Brush with Death (2007)

"Five cheerleaders spend the night in an abandoned farmhouse and find themselves up against a vengeful ghost."

Let's just say that there's a lot wrong with the blurb on the DVD sleeve and the synopsis available on the IMDb. Cheerleaders? Maybe but you'd never know it from this selection of not entirely attractive non-actresses. Vengeful ghost? Well, no. It's not a supernatural horror movie in any way.

If you were fooled into watching "A Brush with Death" by any online description of the plot then I share your pain as I didn't expect it to be a crappy, low-budget slasher film with no gore or nudity to redeem it either.

"A Brush with Death" has to be one of the worst horror films available on Netflix due to its confusing plot and lack of acting ability of any of its cast. It's actually even more painful to watch the actresses in this waiting to say their lines than the ones in the scenes at the beginning of "He Knows You're Alone" (1980).

Who even cares about the plot as it's just another slasher film with a few badly placed flashbacks to the 1950s, a couple of red herrings, and a twist ending that you wouldn't be able to predict even if you had the patience to pay attention to anything which preceded it.

I absolutely loathe films like this which suggest one thing and then turn out to be something else entirely. Years ago this wouldn't have even made it onto the shelves of my local Blockbuster but unfortunately Netflix isn't quite so discerning.

There are a couple of sexy moments which don't really go anywhere and the flashbacks are slightly better than the main story but, overall, "A Brush with Death" is an instantly forgettable waste of time unless you are really into bikinis.

It looks awful, the sound is bad, and there are so many continuity errors and goofs (including one of the cameramen plainly visible in the middle of a game of "Truth or Dare") that I can't recommend this film to anyone human. Due to one nasty scene involving something furry which was hard to make out even though a "meow" was added, I can't even recommend this mess to animals either.

September 22, 2011

Attack the Block (2011)

"A teen gang in South London defend their block from an alien invasion."

You would think that any film written and directed by Joe Cornish would be a comedy but, in this case, you'd be very wrong. "Attack the Block", if it can be described at all, is mostly a British action film with enough aliens to make it about as science-fiction as an episode of Doctor Who.

Having said that, "Attack the Block" has a very fatal flaw especially for a British audience. The main characters are a bunch of the lowest possible chavscum and all you want to do is see them die horribly one by one.

Of course, it wouldn't be much of a story if that was all that happened so the teenage thugs are developed into the unlikeliest of heroes.

I found nothing of merit in this film since I was completely alienated from all the characters except their victim after the opening mugging scene. I absolutely loathe chavs, their stupid droning accents, and their adoption of everything bad from American rap music. Most of all, I despise the society which allowed them to happen. They truly are Britain's shame.

The alien "gorilla-wolf" creatures and their kills weren't all that impressive either and, although I made it all the way to the end of the film, I didn't really enjoy the experience.

If you are American and are expecting another "Shaun of the Dead" from this, don't.

September 21, 2011

Mark of the Devil (1970)

(AKA "Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält")

"In 18th-century Austria, evil Count Cumberland (Herbert Lom) captures young women he deems to be witches, then tortures and kills them with the help of his faithful assistant, Baron Christian Von Mem (Udo Kier)."

Although very similar to "Witchfinder General" (1968), not only because of the subject matter but also because the director, Michael Armstrong, was an assistant to Michael Reeves on the Tigon production, this beautifully shot German film is a lot more brutal in every way.

Allegedly based on three true witchcraft trials during the abominable periods of witchcraft hysteria in Europe, this is all pretty grim stuff full of torture and exploitation at every opportunity. "Mark of the Devil" was once called the "most horrifying film ever made" and with good reason.

Modern audiences might find the story a tad slow in places, but the torture scenes using authentic methods and devices still hold up well 40 years on. You don't even need to ask if "Mark of the Devil" influenced the modern "torture porn" genre as it's actually a lot better than anything Eli Roth could produce nowadays with all his expensive KNB effects. Burnings, whippings, rackings and pokings with bodkins abound so, if you are the slightest bit squeamish, you probably won't see much of this film no matter how historically accurate it may be.

The acting is good enough to make you care about all of the characters whether they are villains or victims in spite of the terrible English overdubbing which was de rigeur for a lot of European movies of this time. In fact, it was mimed in phonetic English by the cast before the dubbing so there's nothing really to be gained from the German language version which some say was dubbed with a lot more emotion.

One thing which really stands out is how beautiful Udo Kier looked when he was younger. As a thoroughly heterosexual male even I can admit it. It's hard to believe that he was such a looker when you are so used to seeing him in films such as "Blade" (1998) without realising that he had quite an illustrious acting career beforehand.

Herbert Lom is also fantastic as the hypocritical Lord Cumberland who is far more the incarnation of the Devil than the imaginations of his victims could ever conjure up in their confessions. Most people will know him as Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus from the "Pink Panther" movies but he's a very recognisable face from quite a few horror films of this era too.

There are also some incredibly beautiful actresses though the one which both Herbert Lom's character and I like the most is the blonde Ingeborg Schöner. According to the IMDb, she's had an amazing career in Germany which has lasted over 50 years.

Trivia fans may already know that "Mark of the Devil" was rated "V" for violence and ticket buyers were offered "barf bags" before the film started. If you have a weak stomach then you'll probably do well to have something handy to throw up in even now.

The power of the film really comes from the fact that injustice and persecution still exist everywhere today. You really don't have to let your mind wander too far to start equating the powers that be in the film with whichever government you are currently under. The physical tortures might not be so readily used nowadays, but just ask anyone who has ever been falsely accused of a crime that they didn't commit about how frustrated and helpless they felt and you'll soon realise that the legal system is still as corrupt today as it ever was.

Personally, I started to think about all the animal cruelty that I've witnessed and how the perpetrators, otherwise known as "Humane Societies", still get away with it. Their corrupt directors take home huge wages at the expense of innocent canine and feline lives just as the witchfinders also profited from blood money based on nothing but telling lies to the general public. I often drift off into thinking about things like that during the most mean-spirited horror movies but live in hope that one day justice will be served in the most sadistic ways possible too.

"Mark of the Devil" is a very cruel and powerful film with a far from happy ending which will really disturb you if you let it. Similar events to those depicted in this film really did happen, many innocent people were murdered and families were torn apart for no good reason. You don't have to look too far back into history to see how mankind keeps repeating the same mistakes.

September 20, 2011

The Thaw (2009)

"A research expedition to the Arctic discovers that a melting polar ice cap has released a deadly prehistoric parasite."

If you ignore all the boring ecological crap about global warming that seems to get spouted at length every ten minutes, "The Thaw" isn't a bad little horror film about parasitic bugs at all.

Basically, the action takes place at a remote Arctic research station without much snow to be seen anywhere (possibly due to this really being filmed in Canada) and has quite a few similarities to "The Thing" in terms of isolation and the need to quarantine the nasty little beasties.

Unfortunately, most of the budget must have been blown on hiring Val Kilmer for his minimal screen time so, if you are expecting lots of gory nastiness, this is slightly disappointing for truly hardcore horror fans.

The effects, although sparse, are nasty enough for most people especially if you have entomophobia as one of the characters indeed does. Various infestations and burrowing creepy-crawlies are shown in all their low-budget CGI glory so be prepared to sit there scratching at yourself throughout the movie.

There's even a rather nice arm amputation scene which, although still somewhat ridiculous, is a lot more realistic than most that you'd see in a film of this nature.

Of course, there's a little bit of a twist to this involving the motivation of Val Kilmer's professor character whose subplot lingers mostly in the background as the small team of thirty-something graduate "students" vainly fight against the bugs.

Other than that, it's all formulaic stuff with one character being picked off after another in a typical slasher film style. As usual, none of the characters are particularly well developed or likable and seem hellbent on making you hate them even more by being absolutely useless apart from bickering with each other in most of the situations that they get themselves into. There's even the tired old cliché of self-sacrifice which you'll get pretty sick of hearing about or seeing by the end of the movie.

The camerawork is nice and steady, not any of that shakycam crap, and, although the sets give away the budget in a few places, it still looks quite good. The location means that a claustrophobic atmosphere is severely lacking and, it almost goes without saying, that there's a distinct lack of tension throughout.

Considering that "The Thaw" was released straight-to-DVD on the "Ghost House Underground" label, it's one of the better ones and fans of things like "Slither" (2006) or "Ticks" (1999) will enjoy it if they prefer something which takes itself a lot more seriously.

41 Days Until Hallowe'en

It's getting closer to Hallowe'en by the minute, so it's about this time every year when I start preparing my horror movie marathon. That means a horror movie every other day which I have never seen before. Good, bad, or average, it doesn't matter. I force myself to watch everything all the way through.

Paradoxically, I watch absolutely no horror films on Hallowe'en itself since I deserve a break. On previous Hallowe'ens I have watched such classics as "Clueless", "Bring It On" (all of them!) and "Legally Blonde". This year I will probably be indulging in the collected works of Pedro Almodóvar. Yes, there's bathos in there somewhere if you dig deeply enough for it.

Anyway, without further ado, here are some hints as to what you can look forward to on this blog during the next 41 days.

WITCHCRAFT! No, not the franchise as even I'm not that much of a masochist but films about witchcraft. As many as I can find basically.

GHOSTS! No Patrick Swayze (well, maybe some Patrick Swayze) but lots of spooky movies even from those certain countries whose movies I can't stand.

MONSTERS! I don't care what it is, if it has no reason to exist then I want to see it! Things with two heads, too many legs, even no head or legs at all. Oh, yes, they will be watched.

I also have a more mainstream Horror Movie Challenge List running on Reddit which has nothing at all to do with what I will be watching but might give you some ideas as we get nearer to Hallowe'en itself.

September 19, 2011

Yardsales, Blogger problems and a question resolved

I thought that I had set up a few "scheduled" posts for the last week due to getting ready for a two-day yardsale but obviously I didn't do it properly. I've now posted them manually.

I've also noticed that the Amazon Associates widget hasn't been working for the last week either so I Googled it and found that I'm not alone with this problem. It isn't Blogger's fault as it appears to be something that Amazon are messing around with. It's bloody annoying though as I use the widget to post pictures of the DVD sleeves when I do my reviews.

Anyway, I just thought that I'd mention it in case people thought that I had given up blogging or something ridiculous like that. A few blogs which I used to regularly visit seem to have disappeared in the last few days but I don't expect that I'll ever know the story behind that. Sometimes people just get fed-up with blogging, I suppose.

Just in case you are interested, I sold a load of DVDs and ended up with almost a dozen pairs of Bermuda shorts from the weekend yardsales. Nothing like being seasonal, eh?

Also, do you remember that there was a film that I couldn't remember the title of quite a while ago?

Well, I finally discovered that it was called "Stealing Candy" (2003). Basically, it had the same twist as "The Disappearance of Alice Creed" (2009).

September 18, 2011

Altered (2006)

"Fifteen years ago, a group of men's lives were forever changed by a strange occurrence. Now, the same group of men will spend a night together... in terror."

I wasn't expecting much of this film by Eduardo Sánchez, the director of "The Blair Witch Project" (1999), especially as the description on Netflix implied that it would be more sci-fi than anything else, but I actually enjoyed most of it.

Although the captured alien was just some guy in a rubber suit, describing it as such doesn't really do it justice as the effects were pretty good overall. It was an evil looking thing with enough weird animal attributes to make it decidedly "alien".

There was also plenty of gore where it counted, good performances by the cast, and enough mystery to keep my interest for at least two-thirds of the film. It was only in the last half-hour that I started to get a little bit bored with it as the interactions between the redneck heroes and all the tension ran out.

Adam Kaufman who played the lead, Wyatt, was quite charismatic in places but it was the far rougher Paul McCarthy-Boyington as Cody who gave the best performance overall. All the characters were quite likeable in their own ways although none of them were given enough time individually to really get to know them which was probably for the best.

The weakest link was Catherine Mangan's character, Hope, who couldn't seem to decide if she wanted to get out of the situation or keep coming back to it. It would have been a much better film without her character in it at all as her inconsistencies were quite annoying.

"Altered" wasn't a bad film or an outstandingly good one. I'm rating it as "average" but it was quite an original idea.

September 17, 2011

Something scary for the weekend

Mamá (2008)

"Little Victoria is woken up by her sister Lili who insists on leaving the house because somebody unpleasant has come back..."

Everyone has been raving about this award-winning short film by Andres Muschietti so I thought I'd better post it on here to scare you too.

According to the IMDb, "Mama" is due to become a full-length feature in 2012.

September 16, 2011

Contagion (2011)

"A thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors contracted by the CDC to deal with the outbreak."

There are very few films that I have actually walked out of a movie theatre because of how boring they are but "Contagion" was nearly another one to add to the list. Although I did manage to endure this torture, I struggled to stay awake so much that I think that I've now given myself some permanent mental injury.

It's quite possible that every actor in this gave the most wooden, phoned-in performances of their entire careers. In fact, the only one to stand out was Kate Winslet due to her fake American accent. At least Gwyneth Paltrow's character had the good sense to die quite early on and save herself from further embarrassment.

Of course, the biggest problem apart from the film being all talk and no action was that there was nothing here that hadn't been done before but better in other virus films and TV series. The obvious ones such as the beginning of "Survivors" (1975) and the whole of "Outbreak" (1995) were simply far more interesting, better acted and, at the very least, original.

Due to the style of the film and the way that the plot shifted from one place to another, it was difficult to follow what was going on or form any emotional attachments, not that I've ever been the biggest fan of anyone involved in this anyway. Jude Law? Matt Damon? I'd rather watch an open tin of rice pudding go mouldy.

How did they manage to spend $60,000,000 making this boring crap? It was just a load of talk about a pandemic with a once big name cast who were completely wasted.

September 15, 2011

Ubuntu 6.06 on a Sony Vaio FX-101

I got bored so I dug out my old Sony Vaio laptop which I bought back in 2002, gave it a "new" 15gb hard drive, put 128mb RAM into it (after previously stealing the 256mb RAM chip for my Apple iBook), and reloaded it with Ubuntu 6.06 LTS.

Why Ubuntu 6.06? Well, it's the only one which works properly on the Sony Vaio FX-101 even though it's obsolete now. The version I used this time was Ubuntu 6.06.2 which took about an hour to install. Then I simply changed all the repositories to "old-releases" and left it to download all the updates for another hour or so.

All the usual programs are now on there albeit older versions such as GIMP 2.4 (rather than 2.6), OpenOffice 2.0 and Firefox 1.5. There used to be a way to get Firefox 2 on there using Ubuntuzilla but that script doesn't work anymore and I prefer to use Epiphany as my browser on this laptop anyway. Flash 9 is the only other problem as there's no way to get Flash 10 installed to watch YouTube videos anymore.

The games all work properly (including the sound!) and, since most of them run better than on my main computer, that's decided the main use that this old Vaio will have. Pulse audio has a lot to answer for.

I upgraded the CD drive to DVD a couple of years ago and it plays my horror movies really well under Ubuntu 6.06. At one point I had Ubuntu 10.10 on this laptop and it was very sluggish for DVD playback. I don't know what exactly was changed during the various versions but it wasn't too good in any case.

Medibuntu no longer supported the DVD codecs so I installed them semi-manually with an easily to find .deb file. All the other codecs were in the archived repositories which was useful.

One thing I've discovered about Linux on old computers is that none of the modern distros will work properly so it's always best to go back to the earliest one which supports your hardware and fiddle with it. Xubuntu and all those other XFCE based Linux versions are absolutely useless and aren't much lighter than their Gnome equivalents. Of course, Linux Puppy will work but it's a horrible thing to use and I've never understood the appeal of it.

Anyway, Ubuntu 6.06 works perfectly on a Sony Vaio FX-101. If you've still got one, I highly recommend installing using the "alt" version of Ubuntu 6.06 and resurrecting it.

September 14, 2011

My Celebrity Crushes

Over the years, I've had a lot of celebrity crushes. Just to be different, here are 36 of them in no particular order.

Although 24 have been involved with the horror genre, the other dozen have not. Without cheating by clicking on the pictures, see how many you can name.

Yes, I do want a cigarette now!