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Leofwine_draca

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Everything Charles Band enjoys, 23 November 2017
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

THE SHRUNKEN CITY is another straight-to-video children's fantasy flick from producer Charles Band, shot in Romania on the cheap but with lots of high-driving energy to just about see it through. Once again miniaturisation is the subject matter of the movie - Band seemed to be a man obsessed with it - with a couple of kids getting their hands on the titular shrunken city and doing battle with an alien race called the Ood who are determined to destroy it. Much of this is complete nonsense, of course, but the alien costumes are fun in a STAR TREK way and it's nice to see where starlet Agnes Bruckner started out, a decade before THE WOODS and the like. Director Ted Nicolaou is the man best known for helming the SUBSPECIES series of movies.

Goofy cut and paste ninja nonsense, 23 November 2017
3/10

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THUNDERING NINJA is more cut and paste ninja nonsense in the Godfrey Ho mould; presumably he and his crew were hiding behind all the westernised names in the credits of the international release. As usual, a non-ninja related crime film from the 1970s is re-dubbed and newly-shot footage of random ninjas battling in the woods is inserted into the mix. The result is hopelessly confusing, and the presence of Jimmy Wang Yu - one of the most famous kung fu stars out there - in the original re-dubbed film is a constant distraction. As for the new ninja scenes, they're very goofy, but not enough to make the film enjoyable.

Middling as spaghetti western comedies go, 23 November 2017
5/10

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As spaghetti western comedies go, TRINITY & CARAMBOLA isn't too bad. It's an open copy of the popular Terence Hill/Bud Spencer outings of the era, with Antonio Cantafora and Paul Smith masquerading as the likable twosome. They play down-on-their-luck outlaws who end up in a ghost town, where they steal a valuable weapon which makes their fortunes, but various ne'er-do-wells plan to take them out. Directed by the great Ferdinando Baldi, this movie has a fine pace and lots of effort put into the various fight and action scenes. Unfortunately, like most Italian comedies, it's very low brow and goofy, which may be off-putting to some. The actors grimace and gurn their way through the proceedings and the sight gags are superficial; my favourite is the pool game with the stop-motion effects.

Best forgotten, 23 November 2017
3/10

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I caught this low rent Taiwanese kung fu story on Amazon Prime under the re-titling of THE ASSIGNMENT. It's an entirely nondescript story lacking any familiar faces, and the meandering story seems to be made up as it goes along. A guy can't pay for his restaurant meal and gets into trouble, but is saved by the intervention of various allied characters. They then battle against the usual bad guys. The fights start out very poorly and do improve a little as the running time progresses, but it's really not very interesting overall, even for the kung fu fan.

The Raking (2017)
Padded to the max, 23 November 2017
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

THE RAKING is another waste of time indie horror outing in an ocean full of them. It's mostly a character-based drama with the occasional glimpse of a half-seen creature which doesn't inspire the viewer. The problem with this is that two thirds of the running time are filled with extraneous scenes which add nothing to the overall plot, and there's no actual horror content until the halfway point. The acting isn't the worst here but everything else is.

Anomaly (2016)
Slow and talky indie horror, 23 November 2017
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

ANOMALY is another vapid indie horror flick with little to recommend it to the discerning horror fan. Ostensibly about a case of supernatural possession, this is instead a talky drama in which the characters incessantly drone on and one until the running time is complete. It's clear that the director is hoping to make a film in the same vein as THE AMITYVILLE HORROR but his efforts are in vain with all of the phenomena talked about rather than shown due to budgetary constraints.

Not an exploitation movie, 23 November 2017
2/10

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MY BABY IS BLACK! has been lumped in by Something Weird video with all of their other releases of scuzzy 1960s-era exploitation, but this is a character drama and part of the French New Wave cinema, so much more low key and less exploitative than you'd expect. Scenes of interracial kissing and the like must have been controversial at the time, but they don't raise an eyebrow these days. The character work is fine but the film doesn't really have much to say about the situation in which the female protagonist finds herself, and it's too low budget to show much of interest.

Indie psychological drama, 23 November 2017
2/10

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BENNY LOVES KILLING is a yawn-worthy character study of a socially isolated young woman in the process of making a horror film; she soon uncovers some very personal demons which causes her to re-evaluate her values. This attempted psychological drama consists entirely of close up shots, distorted and eerie music, one on one conversations, and an arty filming style. There's virtually no incident and it's dull more than anything else.

Good setting, shame about the film, 23 November 2017
2/10

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A typical example of a low grade indie horror film, WHEN THE OLD PHONE RINGS is about a group of fraternity house students who have to relocate to a crumbling old mansion plagued by prank calls. The comedy attempts here are woeful and to my mind there's nothing worse than watching bad actors delivering unfunny lines. The story is a non-starter with the only horror content in the last 20 minutes, and the only good thing is the atmospheric setting.

Basically it's Jaws with a squid instead of a shark, 22 November 2017
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

THE BEAST was one of the big TV miniseries of 1996 and widely heralded as a follow up to JAWS. It's based on another Peter Benchley novel and is very similar in story and structure to the Spielberg classic, with the twist that now it's a giant squid terrorising a small coastal town. The TV movie feel means that this isn't particularly dangerous or frightening, but I found that there was enough interesting material to sustain the three-hour running time and it's pretty entertaining to boot.

The film boasts a good mix of characters, half of whom will get inked or swallowed by the climax, and some nice character actors in the mix. William Petersen is the hero who nobody listens to and Charles Martin Smith the antagonist in a suit. Best of the bunch is DARKMAN's Larry Drake as the drunken fisherman who steals all his scenes. The '90s-era CGI effects have dated badly, but the life-size squid effects are pretty decent and overall this is solid enough, if no classic.


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