July 31, 2012

I got the Liebster Blog Award again!

It seems that this "award" is going round and round in circles now with several people getting it half a dozen times or more.

This time, even though I have way over 100 followers and shouldn't be eligible for it at all (according to the original rules), I received it from Halloween Overkill. Thank you, but I'm not passing it on again.

I will, however, answer the questions which came with it because that's the fun bit. I'll also change the spelling back to (British) English so I don't feel like a naughty five year old who can't spell. Yes, that extra "u" and some apostrophes make all the difference!

1. What is your favourite Hallowe'en tradition/memory?
I honestly haven't got one. We don't celebrate Hallowe'en in Britain (even though we invented it) and I haven't seen much of it where I am in America either. Possibly, it's buying a load of crap from Dollar Tree and watching a marathon of horror movies on AMC each year.

2. Halloween III - terrible or underrated?
Terrible but still the best of a bad lot.

3. Your favourite guilty pleasure film?
"Clueless" (1995). I just love empty-headed blondes.

4. If you could meet any one horror icon dead or alive, who would it be?
I've already met all of the ones I wanted to so this is really hard. I can't even think of a dead one who I ever cared about that much either. The girl who played Lola in "The Loved Ones" maybe since she's still alive.

5. What is your favourite holiday other than Hallowe'en (assuming it is your fave, it is right?)
Easter. I get chocolate eggs and Lindt bunnies. No, Hallowe'en isn't my favourite holiday, and it isn't actually a holiday.

6. What is your favourite TV show of all time?
"Blakes [sic] 7" - It was a science-fiction adventure show back in the late '70s. Yes, I know they spelled it wrong and it should have been "Blake's 7".

7. Is there a single horror movie or scene you cannot stomach to watch, what is it?
"Shaun of the Dead" (2004). I honestly think I would kick the TV screen in if that was put on in front of me even if it wasn't my TV. I hate that film, loathe the sight of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and despise everything to do with it.

8. What is more exciting, a horrible thunderstorm or an insane snowstorm?
A "horrible thunderstorm" even though I don't find any thunderstorm all that horrible. I love thunderstorms.

9. Who is your favourite fictional horror icon?
Dracula. That was easy.

10. What is your favourite Hallowe'en treat?
So many Hallowe'en questions... getting bored now. Doner kebabs.

11. You can only watch one Hallowe'en special/movie this year, what do you choose?
"Busty Cops: Protect and Serve!" (2009)

July 30, 2012

The Awakening (2011)

"In 1921, England is overwhelmed by the loss and grief of World War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a child ghost. Everything she believes unravels as the 'missing' begin to show themselves."

"The Awakening" is the last ghostie film for this month and one which has taken nearly a year since its UK release for me to see. It was worth the wait.

Although it's very similar to "The Others", "Saint Ange" and "The Orphanage", it's different enough from all those to merit a place in the "The Vault". Yes, it really is that good.

At first, I thought that "The Awakening" was going to be no more than average. For obvious reasons, it has that made-for-TV look about it which the BBC does so well with supernatural dramas, even if none of them are ever all that scary. Stephen Volk wrote the screenplay, and since he's known for "Ghostwatch" and ITV's "Afterlife" TV series, I was a bit worried that everything would be PG-13 and a little bit "safe", if you know what I mean.

As an R-rated movie, "The Awakening" certainly goes into a few places which I didn't expect it to, and it's a lot more adult in terms of a more cerebral storyline. I'd still say that it's basically a PG-13 with a couple of moments of adult padding overall though. If I was to compare "The Awakening" to one of the later James Herbert novels rather than "Haunted" (which you may know was originally a BBC screenplay before becoming a book or a movie) then you'll also be able to spot both its strengths and its weaknesses.

There's certainly a creepy atmosphere to "The Awakening" which builds and then falls away again almost as quickly as the jump scares. Hardcore horror fans wouldn't be particularly frightened by this story, but it's definitely not something for little kids to watch. Some of the scenes are quite traumatic and of such a very adult nature that you'd have a lot of explaining to do. I only mention the latter because there really are some parents who are stupid enough to let children watch R-rated horror movies even though their little cherubs aren't legally old enough to buy them or understand what they are seeing.

What made this story work for me was the absolutely fantastic acting. Dominic West and Rebecca Hall have some great chemistry together which I'll say more about in a moment. Even Tom, the little boy played by Isaac Hempstead Wright, is good and not at all annoying like most British kids with posh accents are in this kind of movie.

I don't know anything about Rebecca Hall because I don't think that I've ever seen her in anything else. Trust me, if I had then I would have remembered it. She's beautiful and is completely credible in her role as a sceptical ghosthunter. The more I looked at her, the more I wanted to see of her. I wasn't disappointed either as she does get nude for a moment and it's everything that I expected it to be. She delivers on the tease, it isn't gratuitous, and, yes, I was very appreciative.

For those who wouldn't be impressed by such things, Dominic West provides some eyecandy for the ladies. I'm sure that he'll always be most famous for his role as Det. James McNulty in "The Wire" TV series, but he's back to his more Classical roots here. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a real actor actually act again.

I'd already guessed that there'd be a some kind of love story going on in this along with the scares. Rebecca Hall's Florence Cathcart is possibly too attractive and too young for Dominic West's character, but their relationship works. I think this is due to Florence Cathcart initially appearing to be a lot more mature than she really is. Both characters are damaged goods who need each other to heal although naysayers might argue that their relationship is unromantic, rushed and slightly too modern. The thing is, from documentaries that I've seen, I know that the 1920s were a lot sexier than we think.

The period setting is very well done but a little bit sparse. The bleakness is intentional, but I have no idea what Britain actually looked like in 1920s, and I couldn't tell if this was set in the '20s, '30s, or even the '40s really. I expect a lot of research went into it, so I'll just have to accept that everyone got it right.

The only negative thing which I have to say about "The Awakening" is that for a moment near the end, it's a little bit confusing. I know what was intended, but I don't think it was paced correctly. You'll see what I mean should you choose to watch this yourself anyway.

While "The Awakening" is stylistically similar to several ghost stories from the last 10 years, the journey doesn't take the same well worn path as the others (no pun intended). The double-twist ending is not only different but much happier. If you are feeling jaded by the lack of intelligent ghost stories, I highly recommend this movie.

I beat Candy Dash!

After months of playing this stupid "Puzzle Bobble" clone on Facebook, I finally finished the game. Yay!

I didn't get all the "stars" (I missed 5 of them), but I got enough and I didn't have to pay any real money to do it. Just by sheer diligence and logging in every day to spin the wheel for more "cash", I bought all the power-ups necessary to complete each level.

Yes, "Candy Dash" is a bit girlie. It's all about bursting little cakes and sweets in a fairytale kingdom belonging to a Princess, but I thoroughly enjoyed playing it. There was a section with a witch that was quite refreshing.

Now I can get back to the horror movie reviews before something even more addictive comes along.

July 29, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

"Eight years on, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham's finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy."

After running out of time last weekend because I'd completely underestimated the length of the last two "Batman" films, it took me another four days before I got chance to see the final part of the trilogy. Although it was unfortunate that I couldn't watch them all back to back as I'd intended, at least the break allowed me some time to reflect on what I'd seen, what I'd hated, and what I hoped would improve in "The Dark Knight Rises".

I'm the first to admit that I know nothing about Bane. I think he was a minor character in one of the Joel Schumacher "Batman" movies, but I have no idea which one (although it's likely to be the one I didn't review, "Batman & Robin"). All the fanboys were going wild over this character, but I wasn't all that impressed by some fat Scottish bloke in a mask. Wasn't he supposed to be a Mexican in the comic books who had some superpowers from a potion injected into him?

I also wasn't impressed by the amount of lag in "The Dark Knight Rises". The story really dragged, pacing was ludicrous, and, when something important happened, it was rushed. This is a bit spoilery, but, seriously, can a broken spine be cured by punching the vertebrae back in and hanging from a rope for a couple of minutes? Wasn't there enough time to do it properly in a film nearly three hours long?

Of course, I only wanted to see "The Dark Knight Rises" for the new Catwoman as played by Anne Hathaway. The Sunmaid Raisins girl was definitely pretty enough for the role, but she didn't exactly light up the screen with her presence. Selina Kyle wasn't even referred to as "Catwoman" and, more disappointingly, she had no cats either. Oh, but she was a "cat burglar" to make up for it. Big hairy deal.

I did like the few moments that Bruce Wayne shared with Selina, but there wasn't any chemistry there or the sexiness of Michelle Pfeiffer's equivalent even when she was at her most nerdy. This "catwoman" was just a little bit too cynical and misanthropic for her own good.

The guy who played Tosh in "Torchwood" (and was in one episode of "Eastenders" with Phil Daniels) was in this too but I barely recognised him. I didn't recognise Tom Conti at all as the prisoner who helped Bruce Wayne until I looked up the cast list. I suppose that's to their credit as both were cast slightly against type.

The casting has always sucked in Christopher Nolan's "Batman" movies though. For some reason, he loves Cillian Murphy almost as much as aerial photography and making Batman stand on the edge of really tall buildings for no reason. Why was Cillian Murphy even in this? Was it just so he could rework that 50 year old joke about "death by ungabunga" into what should have been a more serious moment? Pretty lame stuff.

With both Commissioner Gordon and Batman out of the main spectacles of SWAT teams and more police running around than were entirely necessary, this was all about the previously mentioned Bane and his antics. What was he meant to be? A hybrid of Darth Vader, the "Predator" alien and a Teletubby? I've seen fake wrestlers on Saturday afternoon TV in better shape.

A really ridiculous moment (which stood out even more than Alfred's 180 degree turn into character inconsistency) was when Batman and Bane were fighting and they were knocking lumps of concrete out of buildings with their punches. All it needed was some onscreen "Kapow!" and "Biff!" balloons.

I won't spoil the ending for you too much, but be prepared for it to come at you completely out of left field just like "Kill Bill" with an unhealthy dollop of "Armageddon" thrown in. There's a third film which the ending borrows even more from, but I won't name it.

Well, that's my review of "The Dark Knight Rises" over just like the franchise. I honestly wanted this to be the best "Batman" movie ever to make up for the other two and prove to me that Christopher Nolan wasn't just a hack, but it was very disappointing.

I don't particularly like superhero movies or reviewing anything outside of the horror genre, but I started doing this because everyone else was. No, I wouldn't jump off a bridge if they did, but I thought they had found some treasure which I hadn't. I was misled.

My genre of choice will always be horror, that's what I know most about, and that's what still interests me. As long as Christopher Nolan keeps away from my favourite genre, everything will be fine.

The Dark Knight (2008)

"When Batman, Gordon and Harvey Dent launch an assault on the mob, they let the clown out of the box, the Joker, bent on turning Gotham on itself and bringing any heroes down to his level."

I've heard a lot of people say that "The Dark Knight" is one of the must-have Blu-rays should you ever upgrade to the format. I haven't got a Blu-ray player, probably won't buy one either, and my copy of "The Dark Knight" is the 2-disc "Special Edition" which I bought from the pawn shop along with "Batman Begins". Obviously, someone else upgraded or they didn't think much of these movies either.

Yes, you've guessed it, I didn't like "The Dark Knight". In fact, I didn't even like "The Dark Knight" as much as "Batman Begins". Out of the two of them, I'd say that "Batman Begins" was a lot better and, mercifully, it was also 12 minutes shorter.

Turning a comic book into live action with a more realistic setting is Christopher Nolan's thing, but it just doesn't work for me. "The Dark Knight" felt like yet another contrived cops and robbers drama but with Batman in it.

I know everybody raved about Heath Ledger as The Joker, and, while I can admit that he was the most entertaining part of "The Dark Knight", he wasn't as good as Jack Nicholson or even Cesar Romero. He just came across as a nutter who kept licking his lips. I didn't get any sense of menace from him, and, basically, if it came to a fight, I could take him.

The other big thing in "The Dark Knight" was the entire career of Harvey Dent. I didn't like the character, the prosthetic/CGI half of his face looked too fake and was completely unrealistic as far as the facial movements were concerned, and, well, that whole part of the story sucked. The last time I tried to watch "The Dark Knight", I didn't make it to the end so I had no idea what happened to Two-Face or Batman.

All the usual Christopher Nolan excesses were in this again. There were way too many shots of high-rise buildings which made me feel giddy, there was some pretty awful acting here and there especially from Maggie Gyllenhaal and Gary Oldman, and, the music was only slightly less annoying. I suppose Michael Caine was okay, but he was Cockneying-up his part too unintelligibly. I'm British and I almost had to turn the subtitles on!

One thing which really infuriated me was when Batman didn't kill The Joker. Is this a thing in the Batman universe which I'm supposed to know about? In "Batman" (1989), Michael Keaton's Batman couldn't kill him from 100 feet away with a load of rockets but destroyed the Batplane in the process. In "The Dark Knight", Batman couldn't run the same character over with the Batbike, but managed to destroy that and injure himself too.

I'll definitely never watch "The Dark Knight" again.

Batman Begins (2005)

"Bruce Wayne loses his philanthropic parents to a senseless crime, and years later becomes the Batman to save the crime-ridden Gotham City on the verge of destruction by an ancient order."

Last week, in preparation for "The Dark Knight Rises", I watched a marathon of "Batman" movies. Unfortunately, I ran out of time to review them all during my "Batweekend". I might have made my deadline if it hadn't been for the length of Christopher Nolan's versions of the Dark Knight.

There are two things I cannot abide. The first is any movie which is over two hours in length. Some of us need the toilet quite regularly and having to hold it in at a movie theatre doesn't make for a very enjoyable experience. The second is any movie starring Cillian Murphy.

So can you possibly guess how thrilled I was to watch a two-hours and ten minutes long movie starring, among others, Cillian Murphy? This was torture! At least it was on DVD and I could pause it and go to the toilet whenever I wanted.

Of course, I'm not going to spend much time reviewing "Batman Begins". I'm not a huge Batman fan, I've never read any of the comics, and my "Batman" (if I had to choose one) was Adam West not Christian Bale.

It's easy for me to find things which I hated about 'Batman Begins". I hated having every single detail of how Batman came to be explained, I hated the vertigo-inducing helicopter shots of New York, I hated the music being cued inappropriately, and I hated the way the movie looked.

Finding things I did like is even easier because there weren't that many of them. I liked the way the story was quite self-contained and tied-up things from the beginning at the end. In particular, I'd forgotten all about Ra's al Ghul and the vapour from the blue flower which caused hallucinations. I also liked the clever way that Bruce Wayne turned the tables on Earle (Rutger Hauer).

As far as the acting went, it was good. The effects and action scenes were okay. The background music was horrible. The cinematography might have been great on a big screen or on Blu-ray with a massive HDTV, but, for me, with the DVD and a 42" LCD TV, I thought it was too dark, colourless and kind of grainy in that horrible CSI-style which was so popular at the time. Maybe it's just my setup though.

I've got the 2-disc "Deluxe Edition" on DVD and have no interest in any of the special features so that's all I have to say about "Batman Begins". I highly doubt that I'll never watch it again.

July 28, 2012

It's Caturday! Some obscure finds

I know Caturday is nearly over, but we had a few problems with a tornado on Thursday. Most of the town was without power and, of course, the internet was down until only a few minutes ago.

Since I was one of the lucky ones who had electricity again within a few hours, I spent the last three days watching some pretty obscure (and not very good) horror movies.

On Thursday, I watched "The Haunting of Julia" (1977), "Milo" (1998), and "Bloody Birthday" (1981). I finally saw "The Dark Knight Rises" too which was horror for me anyway, but I'll write about that later. "Baturday" has been postponed due to wind.

On Friday, after helping some friends move fallen branches out of their yard, I watched a really dreadful Canadian anthology on VHS called "Mania" (also known as "Mania: The Intruder"). I think it was originally a made-for-TV movie from 1986 because I'd never heard of it before.

In the segment called "The Good Samaritan", Stephen Hunter (playing Dan Weston) exclaimed, "How did you get in here?" to the cat below. Obviously, it was because he got in through the same basement window that the knife-wielding maniac did! There was a twist to the story which I saw coming a mile away. It probably explains why the cat was eager to leave this film too.

Then I watched a quite a hard to find VHS title called "The Slayer" (1982). I have a feeling that it was actually banned during the "video nasties" nonsense in Britain, but Vipco re-released it on VHS with a few cuts. I have no idea if this is on DVD, but it's an awful movie and doesn't deserve to be.

At the end of "The Slayer", you find out that it was all a little girl's nightmare, it's Christmas and her father has bought her a big black cat for a present. There was no cat anywhere else in the movie so her terrified reaction to it made about as much sense as anything else. I'd avoid this one if I was you.

Earlier today, out of desperation, I started watching my "Drive-in Cult Classics" pack but I didn't get to any horror ones yet. To be honest, the first DVD seemed like '70s porn and I fell asleep to it. When I woke up, the internet was back on. Yay!

That's all I have time for right now. I wrote this in a bit of a rush, but I have dozens of sites to check, comments to read, and reviews to write of Christopher Nolan's "Batman" movies for tomorrow. With more storms predicted, that's assuming that the electricity and the internet stays on.

The Answers to Tuesday's Quiz
1. Monica Keena wears that big diver's watch in "Night of the Demons" (2009). She keeps checking it as she waits for dawn to come at 6am.
2. The cat is Hecate who belongs to Catwoman in "Batman: The Movie" (1966). I didn't say that it was from a horror movie.
3. Gnaghi is eating spaghetti (and quite a few other things) in "Cemetery Man" (1994). I even mentioned him by name in my review so that should have been easy.

July 26, 2012

Legally Free Horror Movies on YouTube!

I wish I could say that I found out about this all on my own, but it was actually somebody on Reddit who posted the link to more free horror movies on YouTube than you could watch in a year.

Here it is:


Things like this make me so happy especially when I've already bought most of these movies on DVD in the past. Yeah, I know I suck at sarcasm.

If you're a tightwad or haven't seen a lot of horror movies, this is for you. Enjoy!

July 24, 2012

It's Quiz Time!

It's Tuesday, the hot weather is slowly killing us, we're all a feeling a bit "shagged and fagged and fashed and bashed, O my brothers", so it's time for an easy quiz. Well, it's easy for me to set up anyway. Working out the answers may be more difficult.

1. Who wears this watch in which horror remake?

2. Who is this cat and what movie is she from?

3. Who is eating spaghetti and what is the name of this movie?

Clue: I've reviewed all of these movies in the last month.

Please leave your answers as a comment below. Good luck!

July 23, 2012

The Innkeepers (2011)

"During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel's haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay."

I'm sure you'll all be glad to know that I'm back to the horror movies now. Unfortunately, the first one I've decided to review this week is Ti West's "The Innkeepers" since it's still among the overpriced new releases in Wal-mart. You've probably been thinking about buying it or at least waiting for the price to drop so I'm here to save you some money.

I'll give Ti West some credit in that he keeps trying to make a good horror movie and creates some really good characters. The trouble is that he still isn't very good at delivering anything scary.

When I reviewed his overrated "The House of the Devil" (2009), I mentioned that I really didn't have much interest in watching "The Innkeepers". I changed my mind. Now that such things as dollar DVD rentals exist, there wasn't any good reason why I shouldn't watch it.

For three-quarters of "The Innkeepers", Sara Paxton and Pat Healy were very entertaining as a nerdy couple of hotel clerks. I liked their characters, was enjoying the unrequited love which was becoming more obvious as the story went on, and the occasional ghostie moment kept my interest.

The camerawork was very good, the production values were excellent, and the movie looked as if it had a much larger budget than I imagine that it really did. I assume that it was filmed inside a real hotel rather than on some studio sets. If it wasn't then I'm impressed. It felt real enough to me.

There were only a few things which I really disliked and most of those involved Kelly McGillis who turned up as an alcoholic psychic and made the ending very predictable for anyone who has ever seen "Penny Dreadful" (2005). I know a lot of people wouldn't have acknowledged the twist that was coming so I won't dwell on it, but it ruined the movie for me.

Actually, just seeing the once uber hot Kelly McGillis as she is now made me feel sad. I know we're all getting older, but I barely recognised her. I didn't recognise her at all in "Stake Land" (2010) when I watched it around this time last year either.

Fortunately, for those of us who prefer to see some tender young flesh in horror movies, Sara Paxton wasn't disappointing. She may not be the greatest actress in the world, and she looks a lot like Macaulay Culkin from certain angles, but she has fantastic legs. When her character, Claire, got scared by a ghostie and ran out of a hotel room in nothing but a t-shirt, I was pleased.

In fact, Sara Paxton really made this movie a lot more enjoyable than it should have been. Claire was so naive and oblivious to Luke revealing how he felt about her that I felt bad for both of them. Okay, so Pat Healy (who played Luke) may have been a little bit too old for her in the creepy way that only Americans and Brits feel about such things, but I thought their relationship was kind of sweet and it made the end of the movie even more tragic.

As for the scares, I'll admit that they worked, but there weren't enough of them. Most of the horror occurred during the denouement and was ruined by being far too rushed. This messed-up pacing is really becoming a trademark of Ti West and it's a shame. I don't know if he just doesn't notice when he's making a movie or whether the budget forces his hand, but, either way, it doesn't lead to a satisfying experience.

Although I don't recommend "The Innkeepers" as a full-price purchase, if you love ghost stories as much as I do, it's certainly worth renting. It's badly flawed, and if you watch it with someone who doesn't have much of a brain for such things, you'll probably end up being asked all sorts of stupid questions about the ending. You'll probably have quite a few questions about it yourself. Watch the epilogue very closely though and you'll get a nice surprise.

July 22, 2012

Batman Forever (1995)

"Batman must battle Two-Face and The Riddler with help of an amourous psychologist and a young circus acrobat who becomes his sidekick, Robin."

Three years after the success of "Batman Returns", for some reason unknown to me, Warner Brothers decided to replace the director of the Batman franchise with Joel Schumacher. It wasn't as if Tim Burton was doing anything else at the time so I'm sure that hiring the director of such classics as "The Lost Boys", "Flatliners" and "Dying Young" seemed to be a brilliant choice. Yes, I'm being sarcastic.

Of course, this change of directors meant a change of style. Arguably, although Tim Burton must have had some say in this movie as a producer, this is where things started going wrong. Maybe the fanbase were moving on anyway, but the throwback to '80s-style action-comedy had a lot to do with it too.

I wanted to switch my VHS copy of "Batman Forever" off as soon as the cheap "Xara 3D" titles appeared, but they were too quick for me. Within seconds, I was treated to a minor aristeia, a lingering shot of the new Batmobile, and a comedic line being growled by the new Batman. I feared the worst, but I was hooked again. It's not just chicks who dig the car.

Things moved pretty quickly over the ground at the start of this movie, action scenes abounded, Harvey Dent was once again a disfigured white guy, Edward Nygma was even more manic than Ace Ventura, and Nicole Kidman was some awesome (if somewhat pointless) eyecandy.

I will also give Val Kilmer some credit for really looking the part as Bruce Wayne. His Batman was a little bit too pretty, but I suppose he couldn't help having a purty girlie mouth.

At first I wasn't sure about Bruce Wayne needing to see a psychiatrist rather than continuing to work things out by donning a rubber suit and punching bad guys, but the scenes with Dr. Chase Meridian were pretty hot. This was the first time in any "Batman" movie which I've seen where the love interest involved some chemistry and believable physical attraction. Not to put too fine a point on it, breathless Nicole Kidman looked like she was gagging for some rumpy-pumpy.

The trouble with "Batman Forever" was that as soon as Chris O'Donnell joined in the fun as Robin, the pace of the movie changed and things started to lag. It wasn't even Chris O'Donnell's fault. The flaw was in the screenplay which gave him far too much time on screen. Robin has never been a very interesting character for me, but I grudgingly admit that I did enjoy seeing more of Michael Gough as Alfred in the scenes they shared.

When Robin went off on his own just like Patroklos in Homer's "Iliad", I knew it was going to end badly, Batman would have to rescue him, and I'd be forced to endure watching even more of them together. The whole Batman mentoring Robin thing bored the crap out of me (not only figuratively).

I did enjoy all the scenes where Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones were playing off each other. Jim Carrey was almost perfect in his excessively camp role as The Riddler, and I was amazed at how good Tommy Lee Jones was as Two-Face. I'm not a big fan of either of them outside of this movie. Strangely, neither of them really stole the show from Val Kilmer and I'm still trying to figure out why. Maybe, just maybe, he had a more sympathetic character than theirs.

I know that it's a bit of a cop-out, but, for once, I think the IMDb rating of 5.4 is right for "Batman Forever". While it didn't look as good as either of the previous installments, there was enough in it to keep me entertained. Of course, I would have preferred it if Batman had let Robin die and only saved Nicole Kidman since that's what I would have done in the same situation.

In case you're wondering, I'm not going to review "Batman & Robin" (1997) now because I don't have a copy of it on VHS or DVD and it's just too awful. I saw it at the cinema with a girlfriend who had no taste in movies whatsoever because she had a thing for George Clooney. So do I and it's called the compost heap at the bottom of my garden.

Since I've run out of time today, I'll be reviewing Christopher Nolan's "Batman" trilogy next Baturday.

Batman Returns (1992)

"When a corrupt businessman and the grotesque Penguin plot to take control of Gotham City, only Batman can stop them, while the Catwoman has her own agenda."

As much as I wanted to quit this Batman movie marathon after the last one, I remembered "Batman Returns" as being a little bit better so decided to press on regardless. I thought, "Surely, it couldn't be as crappy as the first Tim Burton "Batman" movie."

Just so you know, this is the only Nintendo generation "Batman" movie which I own on DVD. I have "Batman" (1989) and "Batman Forever" (1995) on VHS because I don't feel the slightest need to upgrade them. If the tapes snap or wear out, I won't miss their loss. I don't own a copy of "Batman & Robin" (1997) at all because, as far as I'm concerned, that movie was such a worthless load of crap that it doesn't even exist in my world. I shouldn't need to tell you that I haven't seen any of the "Batman" cartoons either (but, obviously, I just have).

Why did I only buy "Batman Returns" on DVD? Catwoman, the "Nosferatu" reference via Christopher Walken's character name, and because it was cheap. I know that you now can get the "4 Film Favorites" pack of "Batman" movies for $9.99 or less new, but why would I want to waste another $7.50? I hadn't even watched this DVD, and I bought it three years ago.

Beginning with a baby being thrown into the sewer was a great start which was only ruined by having "A Tim Burton Movie" appear in the titles which followed. Ugh! Usually, as soon as I see that name, I press the "off" button. Fortunately, as a Classicist and heartless human being, I applaud the choice of leaving deformed babies to fend for themselves or die rather than being a drain on the rest of society so I was immediately intrigued.

"Make-up effects by Stan Winston" promised something special from the late master of horror creatures, and "Music by Danny Eflman" was kind of a given. At least, there was no mention of Prince or "Squiggle" this time.

With the baby basket having floated downstream throughout the titles until finally coming to rest in front of a group of penguins, I thought only one thing, "Are there really penguins living in the sewer?" There are no prizes for guessing who the baby would grow up to be.

Jumping thirty-three years on, "Batman Returns" was apparently set around Christmas with all the fake snow and happy-looking Gothamites which Tim Burton could muster. I applauded that too since I was still dying in 90 degree weather with 87% humidity. Ah, coolness! What a pity that it was only on the telly.

Don't worry, I'm not going to go through the entire movie from arche to telos, but I thought highlighting the beginning would be a good way to show how some movies can hook me in the first few minutes and others can't.

You probably know everything about "Batman Returns" already; that it's really all about The Penguin, Max Schreck and Catwoman with Batman turning up occasionally to be all wooden and stiff or to use some clever gadget which couldn't work in the real world and doesn't work properly in this fantasy one either. (I still haven't forgotten how the original Batplane in the previous movie was equipped with machine guns and rocket launchers yet couldn't hit The Joker from 100 feet away. Being brought down with a single shot from The Joker's pis-rifle was icing on the cake. Stuff like that sticks especially when you're watching a sequel.)

There was quite a lot of horror in "Batman Returns" though which still deserves a mention. No, I'm not talking about Christopher Walken's hair or even Selina Kyle chopping up a beautiful leather coat to make a badly stitched-together cat costume. Seriously, just the look of Danny DeVito as Oswald Cobblepot (aka The Penguin) with blood or green goo dripping out of his mouth was the stuff of nightmares.

"Batman Returns" really pushed the limits of the PG-13 rating with the level of violence: clowns fired machine guns into crowds, two guys were set on fire (one of them by Batman!), Selina got pushed through the window of a tall building, The Penguin bit a guy's nose off, pedestrians got run over... I could go on, but you get the picture. For some reason the censors didn't though, so that's one small mercy. It was also considerably more adult when it came to sexual innuendo and swearing. Yay for both!

Of course, "Batman Returns" was and still is a beautiful looking film. The camerawork, lighting, set design, costumes, make-up, and all the other smoke and mirrors which enhanced the cinematography were excellent for the time. Even the acting was only a little bit short of being excellent.

I think the main difference between "Batman Returns" and "Batman" (1989) was that a lot more work went into the characterisation. Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne was much more brooding and he apparently learned to be considerably more badass as Batman in spite of the limitations of the costume. He was still a bit stiff though and blander than the villains.

The relationship between Batman/Bruce Wayne and Catwoman/Selina Kyle was extremely well scripted and tied the narrative back together every time it was in danger of getting too confused or lagging. I'm not going to say anything about the lack of chemistry there since Michelle Pfeiffer had more than enough sexiness back then to camouflage the failings of a dozen people whether they still looked like dweebs or not.

The only place where the story briefly went wrong was in the last 20 minutes. The penguin army with rockets strapped to them was ridiculous. Tim Burton's biggest failing nowadays is that he always has to turn an otherwise great story into some stupidly childish fairytale, and this was, undoubtedly, where that annoying habit started.

Surprisingly, I really enjoyed rewatching "Batman Returns" for the first time in twenty-years. It held up very well indeed, wasn't at all dated, and, I'm tempted to say that it will remain the best "Batman" movie for a long time to come.

July 21, 2012

Batman (1989)

"The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker."

Back in 1989, when this movie was being shown theatrically, I had more important things on my mind such as girlfriends, boozing every weekend, and studying for my first year of University exams. I had no interest in stupid superhero movies meant for little kids, had no idea who Michael Keaton or Tim Burton were, and really didn't have much knowledge about Jack Nicholson except that he was a big name as a Hollywood actor.

It was probably at least another three years before I saw this version of "Batman" for the first time on television. I wasn't overly impressed by it either; in fact, it bored me. I tried to concentrate on it, tried to enjoy Jack Nicholson as The Joker, but, alas, I just wrote it off as a load of old crap.

Having rewatched it this afternoon, I'm still not overly impressed by Tim Burton's "Batman". Given that it's supposed to be a darker and more gothic version of the comic book, it failed miserably at being either.

For a start, Michael Keaton was all wrong for the role. I think any fool could dress up in the stiff, rubber Batman costume and make that part work, but Michael Keaton was way too inconsistent as Bruce Wayne. One minute, he was all jokey and comedic; the next, he was supposed to be resourceful and tough. There's no brooding, no sense of grief about him, and he wasn't very attractive either even for the late '80s. He looked like a dweeb.

Many people have said over the years that "Batman" was really Jack Nicholson's show all the way with Michael Keaton being little more than a supporting player. While there was an element of truth in that, the poorly worked love story between Bruce Wayne and Vicky Vale was supposed to even the balance. Michael Keaton seemed to have as much time on screen as Jack Nicholson, but, because of the lack of chemistry between him and the rather plain-looking Kim Basinger, none of it was particularly memorable. The Joker's side of the story (and his character) was simply a lot more interesting.

Apart from the quite powerful music by Danny Elfman and the look of the movie, there really wasn't a lot to praise in "Batman". Any of the other actors' performances were either too weak or too short to even notice. While Billy Dee Williams almost stood out in a bad way as a totally miscast Harvey Dent, Michael Gough as Alfred just got lost in the maelstrom of weirdness. I'm still not entirely sure what happened to Jerry Hall either.

Jack Nicholson's more horrific and psychotic moments nearly elevated my viewing pleasure to a more adult level, but then too much early Tim Burton-ness crept in and ruined it all. There was a definite lag in the middle of the movie from around the point where The Joker decided to terrorize Vicky Vale for no good reason right up until the useless Batplane scenes. All this, coupled with the shitty pop music by Prince, should have caused me to switch "Batman" off and never return to it. I would have done too if I hadn't wanted to write this review.

When The Joker turned out to be the criminal who killed Bruce Wayne's parents, not only was it unbelievably clichéd, but I could feel my will to not kick the TV screen in slipping away. When the big clown balloons appeared looking like prototypes for things from "A Nightmare Before Christmas", I decided to start clipping my own toenails because I knew that would be more beneficial to me than what I was seeing on screen, and would also prevent me from doing what I really wanted to do with my feet.

Having stayed with it until the rather predictable and "Die Hard" inspired end, I feel like I deserve some kind of medal. I hated over 50% of "Batman" with every fibre of my being.

I hate Tim Burton, I hate Michael Keaton, I hate stupid rubber Batman suits which don't allow an actor to move his head, I hate the weather, and, most of all, right now, I really hate "Batman".

Batman: The Movie (1966)

"The Dynamic Duo faces four super-villains who plan to hold the world for ransom with the help of a secret invention that instantly dehydrates people."

Starting my Bat-weekend off with a load of camp crap such as the movie version of the "Batman" TV series seemed like a good idea at the time especially as the whole thing is available to watch in several places online including, of course, YouTube. I didn't even have to leave my computer to go and find the DVD which is always a good thing.

Unfortunately, although the movie was much the same as the TV series and used 99% of the same actors, the overall style was a little bit different especially when it came to the onscreen "Biff!", "Pow!", "Whap!" and "Thwack!" captions which didn't get used until almost the end. I won't say that this really hurt the movie all that much since it was still vibrant with colour, but it lacked the comic book feel of the TV episodes.

I still enjoyed the four "Super Criminals" even though none of them stood out as much as Lee Meriwether who had a dual role in this as The Catwoman and her disguise as a Russian journalist named Kitka. Lee Meriwether was pretty funny and ridiculously sexy yet I wish she'd been a little bit more evil with it. Possibly throwing her cat, Hecate, at Batman was the most evil thing she did in the entire farce.

The "Dynamic Duo" were the same as I remembered them. Adam West's Batman was an uber moral parody of puritanical and prohibition-era American values while Burt Ward was just a Dick (Grayson). I've always hated Robin more than any other superhero's sidekick. All that "Holy this" and "Holy that" bullshit while he punched his gloves together got on my nerves not to mention that the guy was "Captain Obvious" with his stupid comments.

I realise that this "Batman" was supposed to be a kind of satire, but if kids really bought into such antiquated values without knowing any better, I think it would be quite damaging to them. I had to keep telling myself that this was a bit of 1960s fun and I shouldn't take any of it too seriously.

They see me rollin', they hatin'

Seeing all the Bat-vehicles in action was a bit of a bonus. I didn't realise that the diecast Corgi toys were inspired by this movie even though the colours were completely wrong. My Corgi Batmobile was the later one with the towing hook rather than the flame that popped in and out. I don't believe that any of them had the red edges on their paintwork though. As for the Batcycle, Batcopter and Batboat, well, mine were just black and red with the dominant colour being black. If you ever had a bright blue Batboat, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

One moment which I found amusing (for personal reasons which I won't go into too much detail about right now) was when Batman couldn't dispose of a bomb because a Salvation Army band was in the way. For anyone, like me, who has ever had to endure the annoyance of their bellringing beggars in the run up to Christmas, that was such a wasted opportunity, Suffice it to say that I would've loved to have seen those hypocritical Chuggers blown straight to Hell where they belong.

The interaction between the various "Super Criminals" was okay for anyone with a particularly childish mind, but their on screen time and roles were greatly reduced by having so many of them. Cesar Romero was great as The Joker in the TV series and sadly underused here. I never could stand Burgess Meredith in anything so it annoyed me that his part was larger than Cesar Romero's and far more than it needed to be.

The tiny masks make all the difference if you're a costumed criminal.

My favourite male Batman villain was always The Riddler as played by Frank Goshin. I think John Astin played him a couple of times on TV, but it was never the same. Frank Gorshin really looked the part and was mischievous with it. Again, he was very underused in this movie as well.

As for the plot, who cares? Really, does it matter? I suppose the idea of combining the four rather inept escaped criminals in a plan to destroy the United Nations seemed good on paper, but, honestly, it took way too long for them to get to the punchline and it was predictable that they were never going to get away with it.

I wouldn't say any of the movie was "laugh out loud" funny, but it was entertaining even for a horror-addicted adult such as myself to watch. I perked up at the use of an Edgar Allan Poe poem at one point, and the very awkward date between Bruce Wayne and Kitka was priceless.

The ending was a big "Oops!" moment for Batman and the Boy Blunder which was kind of funny with its implications especially if you aren't a big fan of either of them.

It's Baturday! The Dark Knight Rises weekend

Since it's highly likely that I will be going to see "The Dark Knight Rises" at some point this weekend, I'm preparing myself for the experience with a marathon rewatching of all the previous Batman movies.

"Holy Crappy Movies, Batman!"

I must admit that if the TV series was available on DVD, I'd rather watch that again than any of the Christopher Nolan abominations. Blame it on my age, but I really used to enjoy Adam West's and Burt Ward's escapades when they were repeated for Saturday morning kids' TV in the '70s.

I had the Mego action figures and the Corgi Batmobile which I thought were great. We all had them even though none of us had ever read a Batman comic, had never heard of DC, and were destined to forget all about the caped crusader once "The Six Million Dollar Man", "Starsky and Hutch" or even "Monkey" came along. Yes, kids are fickle and I changed what I was into more often than my underpants. I could probably list another hundred TV shows which caught our imaginations and almost forced some parents into bankruptcy with the merchandising.

As an adult who occasionally suffers from bouts of nostalgia, I remember the theme tune and opening titles of the "Batman" TV show more than any of the episodes. As you can see from the YouTube video above, it was pretty much a series of cartoon graphics with a couple of poorly animated moments and which promised more of the same. I don't think there was ever a child on the planet who wasn't a little bit disappointed by the live action which followed.

Having said that, Adam West will always be my Batman. I more than disliked Robin, I really hated him, and, to be completely honest, there were several times when I hoped that the villains would get the better of the pair of them. The villains were always far more interesting than the heroes.

Unfortunately, apart from watching episodes on YouTube, the 1966 movie version of the TV series is the only DVD available. There have always been a lot of arguments going on behind the scenes as to who owns the rights to what so I highly doubt that the complete series will ever appear on DVD now.

Even though I've always felt that the movie was overlong and a little bit dull compared to the individual episodes, at least it combined the talents of the four best supervillains: The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), The Riddler (Frank Gorshin) and, of course, The Catwoman (Lee Meriwether).

I haven't watched it for so many years that I'm quite looking forward to seeing it again. I'll be back later with a proper review.

July 20, 2012

The Shining (1980)

"A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future."

Due to the unbearable heat this month, I thought watching a movie set in Winter would help me psychologically. With three fans blowing continuously, I'm already beyond help physically.

Unfortunately, most of "The Shining" took place indoors and I'm not even going to finish this sentence with any pun using the word "chilling". Trust me, watching "The Shining" in 100 degree weather does not help in the slightest.

I don't really want to review "The Shining" now either since anything I have to say has certainly been said before. I will do so anyway for the younger readers who are still playing catch-up. If you haven't ever seen "The Shining" and you are a follower of this blog then you really need to see this film or return your horror licences.

Even if you've only watched the trailer, you should already know that "The Shining" is Stanley Kubrick's flawed version of Stephen King's famous novel, it stars Jack Nicholson who spouts his famous "Here's Johnny!" line, and there's a creepy little kid in it who talks to his finger a lot.

What you might not know is that Stephen King was inspired by Dan Curtis' "Burnt Offerings" (1976), Scatman Crothers was the voice of Henry in the "Hong Kong Phooey" cartoons, and Shelley Duvall is really weird looking. Okay, you probably do know that last bit.

The trouble with "The Shining" for me is that I don't really know if it's supposed to be a ghost story, a possession story, or just the tale of some guy going crazy. Stanley Kubrick's screenplay is quite a bit different to the novel as I remember it and, apart from the sometimes stunning and frightening visuals, "The Shining" is a mess as far as the narrative goes.

Obviously, the main focus is Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the Jack Torrance character. Apparently, his alcoholism was based on Stephen King's own experiences and this changes the way you think about the character in the novel. You can wonder if what Torrance sees is real or brought on by withdrawal symptoms. In this movie version, however, it's more certain that these things are real so a big chunk of mystery and suspense is lost immediately. Like I said at the start, Kubrick's film is very flawed.

I really don't want to dwell on the differences between the novel, the movie or even the boring TV version with the thumbsucker-mouthed kid in it. They are three very distinct entities and those who enjoy one probably won't like the other two.

What I will say is that I used to really like "The Shining" until I rewatched it and started picking holes in it. There were always parts of it which made absolutely no sense, and Dick Hallorann's death was just plain mean (not to mention wasteful), but the scary bits still worked.

For at least the first two-thirds of the movie, the atmosphere was creepy as Hell and almost nauseating but, when Jack's madness kicked in, it started to get dull. All work and no play, eh? I can't even explain why the final third failed to interest me since it's the section with the most physical action. Maybe I've seen "The Shining" too many times.

I've never really cared about any of the main characters, least of all the pointlessly psychic Danny with his stupid croaky voice or his even more irritating mother. If ever there was a character who I wanted to drag out of a movie and beat senseless, it was Wendy Torrance so kudos to Shelley Duvall for making that role so memorable for me.

The ghostly barman also annoyed me as much as the entire series of "Twin Peaks" which had a similarly surreal vibe to it (and which I loathed after three episodes). As for Jack Torrance, in spite of Jack Nicholson trying to make the character more charismatic, he got just what he deserved. I didn't like him and I had no sympathy for him.

My main gripe about "The Shining" though is that I don't like it when films start getting too surreal for their own good. Stanley Kubrick was really out of control with this one. Of course, there are some nutters who claim that Kubrick was hiding messages about his involvement in the faked NASA moon landings in "The Shining" which, if true, might explain a lot of things. Even so, it's still only the score which makes "The Shining" a masterpiece rather than any of Kubrick's alleged skills. If you took the music out, everything (apart from the infamous bathtub scene and the creepy little girls) would actually be cinematically excellent but also rather tedious.

I'm going to end this with the numerical rating of 5 out of 10 for "The Shining". I haven't done a numerical rating for ages, but, based on how I felt after rewatching "The Shining", it's better than the expletive-laden alternative.

July 19, 2012

My Top Ten Favourite Non-horror Films

It's been nearly two years since I listed my top ten favourite horror films, so I thought it was about time to do the same thing with the non-horror ones.

Just as before, I've put them in reverse order so you have to read all the way to the end.

10. Die Hard (1988)
In the '80s, I used to love watching "Moonlighting" until it was ruined by too much of Herbert and Agnes. It was a logical progression that Bruce Willis moved on to films, but I don't think anyone expected him to become quite such a big action star. I saw "Die Hard" at the cinema when it came out and probably 20 more times on television before I finally bought a copy of it on DVD. I never had the VHS version. "Die Hard" is pretty much the perfect Christmas action movie for me. I tend to alternate between it and whichever James Bond movie I haven't seen for a while each year during my dinner.

9. Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
Another action movie which I saw at the cinema also makes the list because I watched it with a group of friends. Yes, I used to have friends. We were a riotous group that day, lobbing Kia-Ora cartons at each other like grenades (having pulled the straw out with our teeth like a grenade pin), and thoroughly upsetting the cinema staff. One of the most memorable jeers was when Co (Julia Nickson) was dying and somebody shouted, "Quick! Shag her while she's still warm!" Every time I watch "Rambo" now, I'm reminded of happier times.

8. GoldenEye (1995)
It's hard to choose just one Bond film for my top ten but, based only on the number of times that I've rewatched "GoldenEye" and played the N64 game, it has to be this one. I used to watch "Remington Steele" when it was popular and couldn't wait to see Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. He wasn't in any way disappointing although I never much liked Judi Dench as "M" (or in anything else for that matter). Of course, given that the only Bond films which I really like are the Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan ones, my choices were narrowed down. If the Sean Connery ones weren't so dated, "From Russia with Love" would have been here instead.

7. Total Recall (1990)
This is the last movie on my top ten list which I saw theatrically with a reduced number of the same group of former schoolfriends. We had all started to go our separate ways, some moved away, one got married, and life was a bit like the famous Bryan Adams song. We all loved Arnold Schwarzenegger and had watched everything he was in from "Conan the Barbarian" onwards. I bought this as a VHS boxset with two tapes as soon as it came out, but I never watched the special features on that second tape. I still don't have this on DVD, but I might have to upgrade just to see Sharon Stone at her most beautiful again.

6. L.A. Confidential (1997)
Having finally watched "L.A. Confidential" for the first time a couple of years ago, I was ashamed of myself for switching it off every time it was shown by the BBC. I must have thought that it was something else (or something crappy like "The Fabulous Baker Boys") and Guy Pearce was still too fresh in my mind from his work on "Neighbours" for me to take seriously. By forcing myself to sit through the first scenes again, I became completely caught up in it all and I now think this is a much better neo-noir than "Chinatown". Russell Crowe is really good in this as well.

5. Bring It On (2000)
No, I'm not joking. Given the big three of "Clueless", "Legally Blonde" or "Bring It On", the cheerleaders win every time. I love Kirsten Dunst in nearly everything she's done (although she really didn't look toned enough to be a tennis player in "Wimbledon") and, of course, Eliza Dushku is in this too. As you can imagine, this movie is on my list for purely sinister reasons and I'm not ashamed to admit it either. For other people, this is probably a very guilty pleasure.

4. Sin City (2005)
Possibly the only comic book adaptation that actually feels like a comic book makes it to number four on my list. Although I'm usually not much of a Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino fan, Frank Miller kept both of them in check with his own vision and created a minor masterpiece here. I've only ever seen this movie on DVD as my hometown didn't even have a cinema when this came out. If I ever get a Blu-ray player, this will be one of the first discs I buy again.

3. Watchmen (2009)
Really it's all due to Malin Akerman that I even bothered to buy a copy of "Watchmen" in the first place. She is extremely hot as "Silk Spectre II". As you may know, I'm not really into superheroes (since I'm not a twelve year old). All those Marvel films seem to be the same story over and over again but with the title character changed. "Watchmen" promised to be something different and it was. Just like everybody else who loves the film, I also ended up with all three versions. I actually slightly prefer the theatrical cut over the director's cut. The ultimate cut just has an annoying cartoon in it which is completely superfluous to the rest of the story so I've only watched that version once.

2. Scum (1979)
I wouldn't be me without my great love of gritty British dramas and there aren't any which are more brutal than this. Even "Sexy Beast" seems tame in comparison although that was my alternative choice for this position on my list. If I want to shock somebody (in particular, Americans), I stick this DVD on in front of them and make sure they know that the Borstal system was real.

1. Quadrophenia (1979)
Finally, the movie which I've watched more times than any other in my whole movie collection is "Quadrophenia". I became a bit obsessed with this film about ten years ago, bought a scooter, dressed up as a mod, and went to Brighton just so that I could say, "I was a mod there! That's got to mean something!" Brighton has excellent fish and chips on the pier, by the way. Like Jimmy, I eventually became thoroughly disappointed with the whole scene. I got bored with going to Brighton every bank holiday. I sold my scooter and my motorbikes though just before moving to America rather than drive them over a cliff.

So, those are my favourite non-horror films. As you can see, I'm quite eclectic. I don't like comedies at all so there are none of those on the list, and the foreign language films which I've enjoyed haven't really stuck in my mind either. I also like the majority of Clint Eastwood's movies but, obviously, not more than anything which I've chosen over them.

What are your top ten non-horror films?

Two Hundred Thousand Pageviews!

Yes! I woke up this morning to find that "Dr Blood's Video Vault" has now had 200,000 pageviews!

I know this isn't as many as some blogs have, either because they've been on Blogger longer or they're about more interesting subjects such as knitting your own cakes out of pet hair, but I'm still a little bit chuffed anyway.

Back in the days of my real website, I was getting that kind of traffic each month rather than spread over two years, but I suppose I should be grateful that I get any at all now especially with the lack of any new horror movies coming out.

At least I didn't have to pay any online services to promote my blog unlike the bigger horror sites which I could mention. Yeah, you know the ones. They didn't get to where they are without spending a ton of money. You just have to look at their content to see that.

Anyway, time for a celebration. Feel free to sing along with my anthem:

July 18, 2012

Google Friend Connect Meltdown - The Aftermath. Who am I not following?

Three posts in one day? Yeah, I've done worse if you look back to June and July of 2010, but that was due to swapping an existing HTML website into the Blogger format.

If you've already read about my accidental overload of the GFC gadget then this probably won't interest you because you know the score.

The thing is, I've now lost quite a few interesting blogs from where I read them on the Dashboard and I want them back.

I also lost hundreds of completely dead or abandoned blogs too which I don't care about so much since most of them are still haunting my blogroll. Wooooh! Just like scary ghosties.

If my little red avatar isn't on your GFC (as in the example above) and you think it should be, can you please leave a comment below including the URL of your blog?

I'm having quite a difficult time matching up Disqus screen names to Blogger accounts so it will make everything a lot easier.

By the way, thank you for all the comments on my other posts recently. I was beginning to feel more neglected than a quilting blogger.

I'm nearly at 200,000 pageviews so I know a lot of you are reading but not commenting. As long as you are enjoying my writing, my hatred of the semi-colon, and my inconsistent use of commas and conjunctions, then it's all good.

Yes, I know...

Also, you all definitely need to watch "Perras". My review is below.

Perras (2011)

"Ten girls are suspected of committing a horrible crime, and until they confess, they won't be able to leave their school."

It's not often that I watch any Mexican films, but something about "Perras" intrigued me. I'm not sure if it was the beautiful cinematography or the mystery which wasn't revealed until the very end, but I loved every second of it.

I have no clue who the director, Guillermo Ríos, is or what he has done before, but I could tell that he was influenced by "Whispering Corridors" (1998) and "Amélie" (2001). That's no bad thing either because I love those movies. "Perras" even made me want to watch the rest of the "Whispering Corridors" series although I know that I'd be very disappointed.

There was even some similarity to "Dead Friend" (2004) which is known as "The Ghost" on Netflix. Although the plots are completely different, I think that you'll also see what I mean.

"Perras" means "female dogs" or "bitches", but I'm not sure that the latter is the best translation. The title really refers to the lowest class of Mexican girl rather than their bitchiness towards each other even though there was plenty of that going on too. Even re-translating the title as "sluts" or "wannabe sluts" might be closer to the truth yet still not entirely accurate.

As a probably completely misogynistic insight into the suggested world of Mexican teenagers, "Perras" certainly had a lot of social commentary which you can take or leave. If you also believe that "Quadrophenia" (1979) was in any way a fair representation of 1960s Britain then you'd be wrong too. I don't think that "Perras" was ever supposed to be a refection of reality, but the internal logic of the film makes it appear to be so.

Of course, the "real" critics and film students would have a field day dissecting "Perras", but that's not what I ever choose to do. I watch movies to be entertained not to have the preachiness of "Kidulthood" (2006) or even "Kids" (1995) forced into my subconscious. "Perras" was a lot more subtle than either of those pieces of nastiness even though there were certainly a couple of very shocking and bloody scenes as well.

Given that this was all in Spanish, I'm inclined to say that the acting was excellent. The really bitchy girl, Sofia (in the centre of the picture above), was outstanding, but there were no weak links at all.

I don't know the names of any of the actresses, and I have no idea of their ages, so this may make me sound like a pervert, but some of them were incredibly beautiful. They made me wish that I was at least twenty years younger and lived in Mexico so I could be rejected by all of them. Seriously, the girls in this were hot!

As for the mystery itself, it was masterfully played out. Being dropped into the middle of things (in medias res, baby!) with various flashbacks while not knowing what the "horrible crime" was until the end was an absolute joy for me. I liked all of the characters and could have watched another four hours of them if the director had chosen to do it.

"Perras" was not a movie which could ever have a sequel without going in a very different and mainstream direction, but I'd definitely like to see more of these characters as they grow up.

Like a very tasty but small-portioned meal, "Perras" left me satisfied by the quality but still wanting more. I highly recommend it.

Cemetery Man (1994)

(AKA Dellamorte Dellamore)

"A cemetery man must kill the dead a second time when they become zombies."

Allegedly, there was a time when Rupert Everett was considered one of the hottest British actors. I assume that it was just after "Another Country" (1984) or "Dance with a Stranger" (1985) and not at any point after "Hearts of Fire" (1987) which is when I stopped caring about his acting career. I didn't even know about "Cemetery Man" until the horrible "Dylan Dog: Dead of Night" remake last year and, of course, I still don't own a copy of the Anchor Bay DVD because it's stupidly expensive. At nearly $50 for a new one, Amazon can keep it.

Thanks to YouTube and its multitude of VHS rips, I finally got to see what all the fuss over "Cemetery Man" was about. I would like to say that I was disappointed, but I was actually quite entertained by the whole mess.

Basically, it's an Italian zombie movie, slightly comedic, and either way past its sell by date or too ahead of its time. It's a cult movie for sure, but it's such a particularly odd one that I can't pigeonhole it or even decide if I really liked it or not.

"Cemetery Man" looked a bit cheap, Rupert Everett's performance as Francesco Dellamorte was all over the place, and I was very confused about why Anna Falchi appeared three times in three different roles. I assumed that all these things were due to some artsy-fartsy contrivances which I'm too stupid to understand so I let them go. I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to Italian filmmaking or recognising the parodies and metaphors.

I honestly know nothing about the comic book or graphic novel which "Cemetery Man" is supposed to be based on either. It may even be a real book for all the research that I bothered to put into it. I'm a grown man who stopped reading papery media a very long time ago although I did read the "Vamps" series around the same time as this movie came out. Not that it has anything to do with it really, but I'm in no position to say whether anything on screen matched the original story.

One thing which I liked was the romantic story struggling underneath all the surrealism. Call me soft, but I've always thought that Rupert Everett excelled in the romantic leading man roles in spite of his sexual preferences in real life. Hey, it's acting and that's what he does. All the romantic scenes between Rupert Everett and Anna Falchi worked really well. It was all the other weird stuff which I wasn't too keen on.

François Hadji-Lazaro as Gnaghi provided a lot of disgusting comic relief although there wasn't that much to be taken seriously in the first place. I think he did a very good job and the bizarre ending of the film changed everything which I thought about his character.

Although you would think that it was the bad zombie make-up and gory kills which would stand out the most, it was actually Anna Falchi's breasts which were the most memorable part of the movie for me. She's one of the most beautiful women who I've ever seen, but, since she's nearly the same age as me, I doubt that she's quite so special now and I've got no desire to track down any more of her Italian movies to find out. She was obviously cast as eyecandy as her acting really wasn't that great.

If I was to rate "Cemetery Man" as average, I'm sure that I'd be doing it a disservice in terms of Italian horror movies. It was a lot better than 99% of the ones I've seen. Compared to even its American counterparts from the same year though, it was pretty dreadful and, of course, it wasn't scary in any way either.

I was going to post the full movie from YouTube at the top of this review, but it's easy enough to find for yourself. There's a dubbed English language version and an Italian version with subtitles available which runs slightly longer due to some extended sex scenes. I'm going to recommend that you watch the former because hearing Rupert Everett dubbed into Italian really doesn't work so well.