Dead Babies (2000) Poster


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Low point of modern Brit film
lb2028 January 2003
A terrible storyline (Amis at his worst), pointless and self-conscious 'decadence', obvious shock tactics and patchy acting make this film (rather like "Rancid Aluminium") embody everything that went wrong with the much-vaunted British film revival. The humour is, at best, limp, and the pretentiousness of the whole set-up (including some kind of "internet terrorist group" - ooh, how contemporary) really begins to grate.

Final summary - a half-baked attempt to be 'edgy' that does no-one any favours. Still, it's always a pleasure to see Katy Carmichael on screen...
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An excellent adaptation of one of the best Amis novels.
vampyre13524 March 2006
Having been an avid Martin Amis fan for many years I was understandably excited when this film came out. Although I never caught it at the cinema, indeed, I didn't know it existed until it was on television two or so years ago.

The most important aspects of a film adaptation are present: the characters stayed true to those in the book, no vital points were missed out and the director took the same perspective on life and the book as Amis did.

If the Marquis de Sade were to crash one of P. G. Wodehouse's house parties, the chaos might resemble the nightmarishly funny goings-on in this film. The residents of Appleseed Rectory have primed themselves both for a visit from a triad of Americans and a weekend of copious drug taking and sexual gymnastics. There's even a heifer to be slugged. But none of these variously bright and dull young things has counted on the intrusion of "dead babies". Or on the uninvited presence of a mysterious prankster named Johnny, whose sinister idea of fun makes theirs look like a game of backgammon

I fear the author of the previous review assumed that this film would be a cheap horror, as I'm sure many people have owing to the somewhat dubious title. However, the term 'dead babies' was used in the book to mean 'dreary spasms of reality', the unpleasant facts of life that invariably must be dealt with sooner or later, and thus I can use this review as a platform to ward away hammer horror fans.

Instead rent or buy this movie if you want an ingenious dark comedy with a kick. I loved it!
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A positive review for people who like dark humor and the twisted.
gmalav587715 July 2001
Dead Babies. I saw an advance promotional copy of this movie on video. The company bringing it out on video had changed the title from Dead Babies to Mood Swingers. The version I saw was the un-rated directors cut. I had to watch it twice it was so good. It was nice to see how far a director can go when given freedom. The scene where the dwarf-ish friend is tied to a tree and then shot up with dope is pure comedy magic. You definately would not find this in Blockbuster. Anyhow good for the twisted crowd but definately not for the young 'uns.
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A miss for Amis
John Delucas28 April 2005
This inept adaptation of arguably one of Martin Amis's weaker novels fails to even draw comparisons with other druggy oeuvres such as Requiem For A Dream or anything penned by Irvine Walsh as it struggles to decide whether it is a slap-stick cartoon or a hyper-realistic hallucination.

Boringly directed by William Marsh in over-saturated hues, a group of public school drop-outs converge in a mansion awaiting the appearance of three American friends for a weekend of decadent drug-taking. And that's it. Except for the ludicrous sub-plot soon-to-be-the-main-plot nonsense about an extremist cult group who express themselves with the violent killings of the world's elite figures, be it political or pampered. Within the first reel you know exactly where this is going.

What is a talented actor like Paul Bettany doing in this tiresome, badly written bore? Made prior to his rise to fame and Jennifer Connelly one can be assured that had he been offered this garbage now he'd have immediately changed agents! Avoid.
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Pretentious Rubbish Misses the Point
steve_cox_25 January 2005
I am a great fan of Martin Amis, on whose book this film is based. Unfortunately the director has been unable to translate the book to the screen. The novel is thoroughly post modern and highly artificial in its wildly overblown characters and the disintegration of traditional plot line and character development. It is an hilarious examination of human greed, excess and emptiness by one of the most moral of contemporary British writers. The director of the film has completely missed the point of the novel. In his hands, the film screams along at breakneck speed, indulging in every known trick shot and 'odd' camera angle possible. It is like Ken Russel on acid, and suffers from that older director's self indulgence cranked up to a hundred. Not even the (brief) glimpse of gorgeous actor Christian Solimeno's penis was enough to save this wretched film for me. Abysmal!
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daveconvery31 August 2003
It's possible that you may see this movie on TV. Bear in mind that those two hours of your life can never be brought back. If you see it in a video store, bear in mind that you will be wasting your money AND your life.

This is a badly written, poorly paced and badly shot movie. The characters are nothing you haven't seen before, the sort of badly-characterised 'spoilt rich kid' that appear in all sorts of British movies. The plot - concerning 'internet terrorists' (has Amis been reading a lot of Lynda La Plante lately?) is nothing short of appalling.

Save for a few reasonably good performances, there is absolutely nothing to like about this film. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
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Pointless, excessive, valueless and tiresomely grimy
bob the moo29 May 2005
A group of friends all met when they were in college. Quentin has since married a girl with money and enjoys his free life of drugs and sex; Keith has been in a mental institution and is not better now that he is out, Giles has an inheritance and a major drink problem while Andy and Diana are married but the drugs have significantly reduced their sex lives. Into their lives come two Americans and a messed up guy called Skip, bearing new powerful drugs and promoting their particular brand of bisexual group sex. As if things were going to be weird enough, someone called "Johnny" is leaving bloody threatening notes around the house.

The word on this film is that it is bad, really bad. With this knowledge I didn't have high hopes but watched it anyway and must say that I don't think it is bad as such, or at least it deserves a better description than that one word. Instead I came to think of it as more than one word and several that come to mind include pointless, dated, cheap, tiresome and excessive. If the plot seems pointless it is because it is; eventually it will get to something about a conceptualist group on the internet but by the time it does you will not care that even that is stupid and pointless. Instead the film spends most of its time trying to be shocking, whether it is sexually, violence-wise or just with the way it treats the characters. With so much pointlessness it is hard to care about or even be interested in the characters – just as well since they are cartoon wide-boys and clichés taken from other films.

The shock value is all here and what a shame it is that none of this stuff is that shocking any more – drugs are a norm for many people, sexual taboos are gradually vanishing and the idea of drunken parties full of excess will be known to many who went to university to get just that. Seeing them on screen allows things to be excessive but they are not shocking or interesting – eventually they just get tiresome and boring. The director has clearly seen Trainspotting and is trying to get as close to it as he can, but sadly he has forgotten that substance should come first – get the audience into the film, then they will care enough about the action to actually give you an emotional response of some sort. Sadly, without this it just seems stupid and the end of the film couldn't really come soon enough! The cast are a very strange mix, with some faces in there that are better than this and some I only know from sitcoms and made a strange find. Bettany is always interesting but here cannot do anything to raise the material. However he is head and shoulders above the rest of the cast who are pretty poor thanks to the material they are given, Condou gets the closest to an interesting and sympathetic character but the rest just go along with whatever nudity, shouting or excess they are required to do – none of them convince and none of them add anything.

Overall this is not a bad film if you are a teenager looking for something that is supposedly "edgy" and "different"; however the majority of us will just feel like it was a grind from start to finish with nothing of value along the way. Without a plot, script or even characters it is no wonder that it so totally failed to engage me and just ended up being tiresomely gory and excessive for no reason and providing nothing of value. A pretty terrible film but one that deserves more description than just being "bad".
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The Drugs Don't Work
James.S.Davies4 February 2001
It would be true to say that William Marsh's directorial debut pulls no punches. In fact shock tactics are deliberately played right from the word go. One of the first shots is of the alcoholic Giles' bloody teeth falling out one by one. From here on in the audience is left with little doubt that we're in for a bumpy ride. However, we end up being bombarded with so many scenes of drugs, violence, nudity and general depravity that one soon develops an immunity.

The plot centers around one hedonistic weekend where a bunch of directionless English graduates who inhabit a country mansion, are visited by three American friends (one of whom is played by Marsh himself) bent on supplying the perfect weekend of sex and drugs. It's kind of like watching a drugged-up version of Peter's Friends. The films' sub-plot involves a net based terrorist group known as The Conceptualists, who have somehow infiltrated the proceedings. It soon becomes clear that one of the revelers is not what they seem. However any intrigue, or indeed suspense, is dulled by our lack of empathy for the characters, who are either too larger-than-life to be believable or just totally un-likeable.

Dead Babies would no doubt like to be thought of in the same tradition as other drug fueled British cult classics such as Performance, Withnail and I, and Trainspotting. However, these films were far more character driven and weren't so heavily dependent on artificial means of stimulation.
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More Crap That Was Made In Britain
Theo Robertson20 May 2005
A couple of days after writing about how garbage like MAD COWS and THIS FILTHY EARTH receive money while Ange , Duncan and Theo are totally ignored I had to sit through yet another British movie * that had me scratching my head as to why it received a single penny . Some people may claim that because DEAD BABIES is based upon a highly regarded novel it has an in built market but both THIS FILTHY EARTH and MAD COWS were also adapted from novels and they were an ordeal to sit through as well

I had read the synopsis of the plot where a bunch of high class wasters go to a remote mansion where they're stalked by an internet cult but to be honest this isn't really how the story unravels and anyone expecting Friday THE 13TH meets THE SHINING is going to be bitterly disappointed since 90-95% of the running time is taken up with said characters taking drugs and discussing sex . And what hateful characters they are too . Not one of them is likable in any way and within minutes you'll be getting nostalgic for Stalin , Mao and Pol Pot hoping that next time someone embarks on communist democide they'll be successful in creating an egalitarian utopia . Anything that will signal the end of such decadent bourgeois meaningless that the hateful characters in this movie embark upon can only be welcomed

Not content with giving us a movie where the plot is meandering and where the audience fail to connect with the characters the director continues to spoil things further by getting all clever and arty . No doubt that is to impress us so we will fall upon our knees and cry " Oh my god , what a wonderful director the way he bamboozles us with his highly artistic technique and only a worthless pleb will fail to appreciate what a god given talent this man is " . I'm sure the vast majority of people either screamed " How come my projects got turned down while crap like this didn't ? " or " WTF was the last half hour of this piece of crap all about ? " You might defend the movie by saying the original source novel was unfilmable and this makes the film unwatchable . I will agree that this movie is unwatchable

* I know the IMDb classes this as an American movie but the style and faults with DEAD BABIES is uniquely British . Americans might think they've got things tough with Bush but we've got Tony Blair , not to mention DEAD BABIES , MAD COWS and THIS FILTHY EARTH . No wonder everyone is ashamed to be British in the 21st century
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hellgrrl11 May 2002
When I sat down, I wasnt sure what to expect. I got swept up quickly in all the characters and their mental problems (a full cast of neurotics)! The conceptualists side theme, wove in rather well to become the main theme. The writing is good, and i pondered what kind of mind thought up some of the scenes. (the doll scene in particular!) The only thing that bothered me was the american accents, were they real or did i just imagine them slipping from time to time?

what better way to deal with people who dont deal with life? an interesting movie, worth a view, especially if you're of the gen x generation.
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