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Iron Sky (2012)
Very funny film hits well above its budget
I was really intrigued by this film when I first heard its premise (thanks to Mark Kermode a film reviewer with an excellent show on BBC Radio Five Live) but it seemed to experience some difficulty get distribution in the UK and I feared it was going to end up going straight to DVD. Then the distributors announced a one day screening at a limited number cinemas across the UK. This has been expanded and it looks like it will get a wider release than just one day. It is also out on Bluray / DVD Monday 28 May.
Two American astronauts land on the dark side of the Moon with two missions: a publicity stunt to help get the President re-elected and to hunt for Helium-3, an isotope of Helium that is rare on Earth but could used to fuel fusion reactors. They discover a large Helium-3 mine and soldiers in Nazi uniform appear out of nowhere, shoot one dead and capture the second one. It turns out that in 1945 a group of Nazis made their way to the moon where they have been mining it for the resources to build an invasion fleet to enable them to return to Earth and conquer it. This is all very impressive stuff. The only problem seems to be that they don't have the computing power
The astronaut they captured James Washington (Christopher Kirby) is just a famous supermodel and does not know anything about any planned invasion. They are astonished to see that he is black since most of them are too young to have been to Earth so have never seen a black man before and think he has some sort of skin disease. When their top scientist Dr Richter examines Washington's mobile phone and finds it has a more powerful processor by many orders of magnitude than their entire base the MondFührer Kurtzfleisch (Udo Kier) sends his second in command Klaus Adler (Götz Otto) back to Earth with Washington to get more phones so they can all finally return to Earth as conquering heroes. This task will be far from simple since they are up against cynical power hungry leaders of modern nations and especially the Sarah Palin lookalike (but definitely not her) US President (Stephanie Paul) and her sociopathic publicist McLennan (Kym Jackson).
I really enjoyed this film. It is not only pretty funny it also looks really good. There is a lot of CGI used but it is never out-of-place and it's all very well designed and it's clear that a lot of time and thought has clearly gone into it. I cannot think of any point where this film showed that it had a very low-budget. The look the film looks like it been based on films such as Mars Attacks! or even Earth Vs The Flying Saucers and elements of steam punk where archaic technology has been designed to carry out advanced functions normally done by modern There's a lot of broad satire on modern politics especially from the scenes at the World Council with petty bickering between the representatives of different nation but there's also the culture clash humour which was sometimes nice and subtle with really good use of the Chaplin film The Great Dictator that assumes a familiarity with the film to work. The cast are all great but I really fell hard for the big evil Nazi Klaus Adler played with some gusto by Götz Otto. I should also mention Adler's girlfriend Renate Richter (Julia Dietze) who plays an idealistic Nazi schoolteacher who really believes the Nazis are a peaceful party. I know humour is very subjective but I really enjoyed this a lot more than other many films with bigger budgets and better known casts.
The Raven (2012)
Mystery thriller romp with a pulpy comic book feel.
This film is story set during the last few days in the life of Edgar Allen Poe. Poe (John Cusack) is a penniless drunk (with a pet raccoon for some reason), depending on money he gets from The Baltimore Times for writing acerbic reviews of other writers' work to keep him in the booze. Emily (Alice Eve) the woman he loves is difficult to reach because her father Colonel Hamilton (Brendan Gleeson) has a very understandable dislike of Poe so they have sneak around behind his back.
The police are investigating two brutal murders of a mother and her 12- year-old daughter in a locked room. Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) notices the parallels between these murders and the Poe story Murders in the Rue Morgue so he sends a squad of policemen out to bring Poe in for questioning. Although Fields doesn't believe Poe is responsible for the murders he is definitely connected to them.
There's a second murder this time based on the story The Pit and The Pendulum and this is a pretty gory killing as you can imagine if you are aware of the story (if you are not I'll just say the pendulum has an enormous blade on the end of it). The victim this time is a writer at The Baltimore Times who wrote highly negative reviews of Poe's stories. A crimson mask found on body is a message from the killer to Poe and the police about where he will strike next. The killer is playing a game with them and when the life of his beloved Emily is threatened Poe is forced to play the killer's game.
This was an entertaining mystery thriller and I did like the inclusion of Poe's stories in this film. The setting felt authentic enough and there was no anachronistic steam punk stuff going on like so many other alternative history stories. The cast are reasonable enough, especially Brendan Gleeson, but they don't really get too much development. I don't have any doubt that Cusack's performance bore very little resemblance to the real Edgar Allen Poe but it was fun and over the top and similar to Robert Downey Juniors's take on Sherlock Holmes. Anyone expecting dark melancholia and madness will probably not like this film but for people only passingly familiar with Poe it is a mystery thriller romp with a pulpy comic book feel.
Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)
Rushed and it looks like it
A ninth Hellraiser film is not a surprise but its not something to look forward to either. There had been all sots of noises recently of a re- make in the works but now that seems to have stalled. I'm not sure how it works but there is this thing that Dimension Films would have lost their rights to the franchise if they didn't make another film. This give them a reasonable excuse for them churning out this one.
The film opens with camcorder footage of two teenage boys Steven (Nick Eversman) and Nico (Jay Gillespie) getting ready for a trip to Mexico. This camcorder footage was very worrying and I was afraid that it was going to go down the road of the present craze for "found footage" films. This is becomes an even bigger problem when the films cuts to a camcorder recorded scene of Nico opening a Lament puzzle and Pinhead appearing. In camcorder footage this does not appear eerie and otherworldly but like guy dressed in a Pinhead costume. This impression is reinforced by the fact that Pinhead is not played by by Doug Bradley but by another actor (Stephan Smith Collins) who is physically very different. I felt that any chance of inducing a willing suspension of disbelief is strongly challenged by this scene
It turns out that the camcorder footage is being watched by Steven's mother Sarah (Devon Sorvari). Steven and Nico have gone missing and the police have returned Steven's belongings to her. Sarah gets interrupted by her husband Dr Ross Craven (Steven Brand) who seems to be long line of screen psychiatrists who have apparently no empathy. He tells her the Bradleys are here. Their daughter Emma is having a hard time with her brother going missing and can't get why they don't want to talk about it.
I can't get why they don't want to talk about it either, especially when it turns out that the Bradleys are Nico's parents Kate (Sanny Van Heteren) and Peter (Sebastien Roberts). Emma slopes off to her mother's room and finds the camera in Steve's bag. She starts watching and this takes us to a more complete flashback of what happened to the boys. We see them get very drunk and Steve chats up a young Mexican girl in the bar. Next we see Nico and the girl having rough sex in the toilet while Steve's whines and pukes up in the sink. Afterwards Nico really wants to leave in a hurry. The girl is dead and Nico is scared of Mexican jail even though he claims it was an accident.
Emma stops watching deeply upset because she's supposed to be in a relationship with Nico. Then she finds the Lament puzzle in Steven's bag. She confronts her parents about being kept in the dark but it's really just shouting at them and then she storms off to sit by herself at the pool, playing with the puzzle box. Before she starts solving it Steven appears, exhausted and covered in blood mumbling about someone coming for him.
This film not only appears rushed, it was rushed. Although the story is pretty faithful to the tone of original the special effects are not nearly as well done and they don't quite capture its atmosphere. The script has some really clunky dialogue for the actors who just don't deliver it very convincingly. The Cenobites were okay especially Pinhead Junior but people will not be happy about Pinhead being played by someone who is not Doug Bradley who gave the role a quiet intensity which was the reason the character became so iconic. I doubt that even if it had Been Doug Bradley playing the part that the film would have been any better since his presence didn't save Hellworld or Hell on Earth.
If you have never seen a Hellraiser film this is not a good introduction to the series. It is just as gory and violent as the others and has scenes of sex and nudity
Dark House (2009)
Dark Haunted House on a Hill
Three young girls are riding their bikes through their neighbourhood and they stop at the gate of house of Janet Garrode (Diane Salinger). Two of the girls think it is creepy, but the third girl knows it is just a foster home. To prove there's nothing to fear she goes right up to door and goes in. The children are all dead, lying in pools of blood everywhere.She hears a sound from the kitchen and goes through to see Garrode standing at the sink with her hands down the waste disposal unit with blades grinding her hands away until she dies from blood loss. The girl hears a noise from the pantry and looks through the key hole and sees an eye looking back at her, she screams and turns to run but slips in puddle of blood and knocks herself out as she falls.
We flash forward 14 years to the present. Acting student Claire (Meghan Ory) wakes from a nightmare. She discusses her nightmares with her psychiatrist who raises the subject of her traumatic childhood experiences in the Garrode house. He asks if she has visited the house, but Claire says she too afraid. The psychiatrist just leaves it at that, no suggestion that he visit the house with her.
At her acting class they are all doing an acting exercise when they are interrupted by Wilston Rey (Jeffrey Combs), a horror house creator who makes a big entrance and offers them jobs at his latest horror attraction acting as performers. They all act a bit snooty at this offer but then he mentions that it is at the Garrode house. He needs actors in a hurry because he is giving a special preview of the house to two journalists. Claire right away sees her chance to visit the Garrode house in the company of her friends and talks her classmates into taking the jobs.
Her classmates are the standard pack of shallow stereotypes of horror film victims: Ariel (Bevin Prince) is blonde, attractive and a bitch, who's jealous of Claire; Rudy (Matt Cohen) is hunky but bit of a dick, and he fancies Claire; Eldon (Danso Gordon) is the black guy and is also cultured and nerdy and may as well have a bullseye on his forehead; Lily (Shelly Cole) is the goth girl who mopes about whining; Bruce (Ryan Melander) is the immature joker.
At the Garrode house Rey introduces the actors to head usher Moreton (Scott Whyte) and Samantha (Meghan Maureen McDonough) the designer and takes them around the house and introduces them to the magical holograms that seem to have been created by technology stolen by Weyoun from Starfleet and brought back in time through some sort of temporal anomaly*. They are suitably impressed by the technology that is being run by Harris the whingeing nerd that Rey keeps locked in the basement. While they are being shown the computer centre Claire sees the ghostly image of the dead foster children gathered around the furnace in the corner of the basement.
After the tour they are sent to get ready for the journalists' preview. In her room Claire has a vision in the dressing table mirror of Garrode brutally punishing a little boy and is shocked out of her vision when Garrode turns to look directly at her and shouts "What are you looking at?"
Once they are ready Rey gives them a flowery, well-rehearsed pep talk on the philosophy and art of scaring people. Meanwhile Garrode's spirit somehow invades the computer system with a lot of cheesy graphics and a lot wild-haired manic laughter from Garrode. This scene is just rubbish and it is not creepy or horrific at all. Harris is killed when a monitor blows up in his face.
Claire is in charge of taking the journalists around the house with Moreton accompanying them. Moreton leads them to the Corridor of Blood and a holographic wraith with long fingernails lurches toward and him stabs him in the chest. To his shock he realises he really has been stabbed and he dies. Claire almost believes it was real but when she looks back and his body is gone she is convinced it was all an act and she continues the tour
The film continues with Garrode using the holograms to kill everyone of one at time. This would have been quite good but it all happens in a rush and there is really more of a mad dash that a build-up of tension.
I like Jeffrey Combs and I did his like his performance as Walston Rey which calls for really over the top hammy showman. Diane Sallinger is really scary as the psycho religious nut with her shock of unkempt red hair. The rest of the cast are passable. What I wasn't too keen on was the script itself . Most of the characters are barely written at all. Why did Samantha have to be a predatory lesbian? It didn't really make difference to the story except to irritate so I am curious. There is a twist of sorts at the end but it is so meaningless and inconsequential I wonder why they bothered. The effects were okay if a bit obviously CGI but that dumb cheap-looking computer possession scene was poor. It's all right but not really scary apart from couple of jump scares
*These are references to the Star Trek Deep Space Nine where Jeffrey Combs played an alien called Weyoun.
Entertaining spy thriller
Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) lives alone with her father Erik Heller ( Eric Bana) in an isolated cabin in Finland. He has trained her to hunt and to defend herself and raised her to be the perfect assassin, always prepared for danger. He gives her a full book-based education and teaches her to speak many languages. Although he tells her about things like music and fairy tales he does not let her hear any. He also makes her rehearse a fake biography as a cover story.
He has prepared her all her life for a mission, to kill CIA agent Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett) and as soon as she thinks she is ready he gives her a transmitter that will alert the CIA of their location. Hanna activates the transmitter and prepares for the CIA's arrival. Heller arranges to rendezvous with Hanna in Berlin and leaves.
Armed agents surround the cabin and after a small token amount of lethal resistance Hanna is captured and taken to a base to be interrogated. Wiegler watches the interview remotely as they tell Hanna they want to know where Heller is. The agency is particularly worried that he has a lot of secrets that they don't want divulged. Hanna won't talk except to repeat her cover story and demand that Marissa Wiegler comes to talk to her in person.
Wiegler is shocked to hear Hanna use her name but she knows something is wrong and sends a decoy agent wearing a red-haired wig to match Wiegler's physical description and coaches her remotely through an earpiece. It seems to be going smoothly with Hanna showing signs of grief and hugging the decoy for comfort. Wiegler orders the agent to break contact and abort but it's too late as Hanna snaps the decoy's neck then uses her body as a bullet shield to escape the interview room. Hanna evades her pursuers and escapes the base, only then finds out it is underground in the middle of the Moroccan desert.
Hanna walks through the desert until she meets a young English girl Sophie and her younger brother Miles who are travelling with their parents. Sophie talks a lot but listens very little. Their parents are middle-class hippy types Rachel (Olivia Williams) and Sebastian (Jason Flemyng) who patronisingly approve of her father's confidence in allowing Hanna to travel alone. She reveals that her mother is dead and Rachel asks how she died. "Three bullets," Hanna blankly replies.
Hanna is may be well educated in the facts about the world but she has no experience of how the things she heard about work or look or sound and as her shockingly plain talk a dinner revealed she has no experience of dealing with people. When she is shown her room at first she is fascinated by all the electrical appliances but it soon leads to a sensory overload and she suffers a panic attack.
Wiegler has ordered her agents concentrate on catching Heller. To go after Hanna she hires Isaacs (Tom Hollander), owner of the Safari trans-gender nightclub. We get the impression that Isaacs likes little girls in all the wrong ways. He is soon on the trail of Hanna with two skinhead henchman
This film is a really good spy thriller but it's more than that. Hanna seems drawn to the English family perhaps because she had none of that life herself. Heller's mission to kill Wiegler is all she has been prepared for and she has no idea who she is other than that. Young Saoirse Ronan is really great in the role of Hanna and I never knew Tom Hollander had that evil sleaziness in him to play the part of Isaacs. There is a fair bit of on-screen killing but not too much . But it is the implied killings that happen off-screen that are somewhat more disturbing.
Repo Man (1984)
I have seen this so many times and it still gets me laughing
Otto (Emilio Estevez) is a suburban punk whose sucky life gets even suckier when he gets kicked out of his job, finds out is parents have given all his college fund away to a TV evangelist and his girlfriend screws his best friend, all in one night. Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) asks him for favour, to drive his "wife's" car out of the neighbourhood. Back at the repo company car lot Otto discovers he's been tricked by Bud the repo man into helping him take someone's car. They offer him a job and after one more night back with his old sucky life Otto takes the job.
Bud takes great pleasure in teaching young Otto about being a repo man and teaches him what he calls the repo man code. After snorting speed with Bud then racing the rival repo men the Rodriguez Brothers in the LA river Otto really thinks being a repo man is just "so intense" Bud replies "The life of a repo man is always intense." Later when Otto is riding with Lite (Sy Richardson) it's pretty clear Bud's rules don't mean anything to Lite
The film feels like a series of sketches of Otto out with Bud or Lite or on his own, repossessing cars from people who have not been keeping up payments on them. There's not much in the way of plot except in the form of a crazy scientist J. Frank Parnell (Fox Harris ) driving across America to California with something deadly and radioactive the trunk of his car a '64 Chevy Malibu who is being followed a squad of blond-haired agents led by the one-armed Agent Rogersz (Susan Barnes). Dr Parnell had been stopped by a motorcycle highway patrol cop who was warned not to look in the trunk and he looked in trunk and vanished with flash of light and a scream, leaving just a pair of smoking boots behind. Rogersz explains to the sheriff, "It happens sometimes, people just explode. Natural causes."
Otto comes across this plot line when he sees a young woman Leila (Olivia Barash) running down the street, so he hits on her and offers her a lift. She is hiding from the blonde-haired agents and tells Otto she is part of group who are trying tell the world the truth about aliens and they have a scientist (Parnell) who has smuggled the bodies of dead aliens out of a secret research base in New Mexico. She shows Otto picture of them but they look stupid and not very convincing (apparently they are water-filled condoms wearing grass-skirts). They get to headquarters of her group, the United Fruitcake Outlet. As Leila is about to leave Otto acts like a dick which causes Leila to change her mind and they get back in the car and have sex.
Back at the repo company they get word in about a bounty of $20,000 on a '64 Chevy Malibu, a lot of money for such an old piece of junk. Soon all the repo men in LA are on the look out for the car.
Running through the film on a crime spree are Otto's former pals Duke (Dick Rude) and Archie (Miguel Sandoval) and his ex-girlfriend Debbi (Jennifer Balgobin). Everywhere that Bud and Otto go to buy beer is being robbed or has just been robbed by them. Duke's rallying cry is "let's do some crimes." and Archie keeps singing the tune of Ride of the Valkyries as they run from one crime to the next
Otto seems to keep finding himself in weird conversations with various kooks. Miller (Tracey Walter) works at the repo company where his only job seems to be tending a barrel of fire. As Otto burns rubbish from one of cars he lifted, Miller tell him his theory of UFOs, alien abductions, time machines and plates of shrimp. That conversation is weird enough but later Otto finds himself in the passenger seat of the Chevy Malibu while Dr Parnell raves about the lies told about the dangers of radiation and how liberating lobotomies are.
This film is just so full of great moments and funny characters and quotable lines. There a few little sly bits of cultural commentary woven into the film. Otto's parents are clearly a pair hippie stoners yet they're watching a right-wing televangelist and giving him all their money. Punks gets it too from the sheer idiocy of Duke and his crime gang and especially Duke's last words. This film really seems to divide opinion and some just don't get it. I think I'm supposed to say something broadly insulting, a sort of put down of those don't think Repo Man is hilarious but I don't think I need to since not being able to enjoy the humour in this film is a pretty harsh punishment in itself and there is no reason to mock the afflicted.
Deja Vu (2006)
Never mind the science just give it more cowbell
Writers just love getting their hands on an excuse to do a time travel story. This shallow tale wades out into the murky waters but rarely immerses itself fully in the potential scientific and philosophical implications of what the characters claim they are doing. The result is a story that only works if you go with it and just accept things happen for narrative reasons and the magic time travel device is just there to do whatever needs it needs to do to accomplish that
ATF Agent Doug Carlin is this film's identity of the standard Denzel Washington investigator savant character, so he's a no-nonsense clear thinker with Sherlock Holmes' observational skills and deductive reasoning abilities. A ferry full of sailors blows up while it crosses the Mississippi at New Orléans on Mardi Gras. Doug is one of several investigators on the scene. He gets spotted by FBI agent Paul Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) who is impressed by his cool investigator skills so he recruits him to a super secret squad who have a magic time traveling spying machine that can give them a God's eye view of anything anywhere within the range of the machine but it can only see what happening 4 days 6 hours into the past, no earlier and no later. It has something to do with Einstein's rosy bridge according Dr Alexander Denny (Adam Goldberg) the scientist who accidentally tore a hole in the universe. It is two-way but it takes a lot of energy to send mass through it and it kills animals going through it (or crushes them into a tiny massively dense points of unspecific matter). You can probably see how this will go, but for now they use it to spy on people to see any sign of someone who might want to blow a bunch.. sorry, blow-up a bunch of sailors. They want Doug to use his unique abilities to tell them where to point their magic cameras. Doug has info on the dead body of Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton) who was found in the river but had died before the ferry explosion from the same type of burns as the victims on the ferry. The car bomb that blew up the ferry was also in her van so Doug has them spy on her (you can see why they needed Doug's amazing deductive skills here).
Doug had the hots for Claire when she was a crispy-fried corpse so obviously he falls for her when he sees her walking and breathing (and showering) in the past. But Doug's really not satisfied which watching what happened in the past, he wants to change it. He sends a message back for himself but his partner Larry picks it up instead so rather than dying on the ferry Larry gets shot and his body is fed to the alligators. To get there was a pretty amazing, and very stupid, car chase with Doug following in the bomber in the present day as the bomber drives to his base in the past, using a portable helmet version of the big magic box. Now they know the bomber is Carrol Oerstadt (Jim Caviezel) who is one of those paranoid nuts engaged in a personal war with the American Government. He is arrested and the FBI are happy with lone maniac story so they shut down the magic box.
No film would be happy with story that ending like that and we already have the rest all set up so inevitably Doug is going to back in time, rescue the girl, get the bad guy and save the day. At this point there is plenty of hints that this not the first time, lots of little clues that another version of Doug had already tried and failed to change events at least once before (or three times according this time-line from Wikipedia). I have to say this plot is clearly driven by the director's desire to tell the story his way with little attention to logic or stopping to explain itself to anyone thinking "Wait a minute , what " There is something exhilarating about being along for the ride on Tony Scott film and despite my snarky tone I did enjoy this one.
Fright Night (1985)
I love films from the 80s
I'm probably going to go and see the remake of this film in the next couple of weeks so I dug this out for a little refresher. This was Tom Holland's directorial début and it is still an entertaining comedy vampire film now even if some of the effects have dated poorly.
Charlie Brewster(William Ragsdale) is a teenager making out with his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse). Amy is just getting warmed up when Charlie gets distracted by men carrying a coffin into the empty house next door. This really pisses off Amy and she leaves. Charlie's mother tells him that they have a new neighbour Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon).
Next day when Charlie gets home from school he sees a beautiful scantily dressed woman going into their neighbour's house. Later on that night while Charlie snoozes through old movies on TV he is awakened by the sound of screams from next door. At school the following day Amy is trying apologise for leaving but Charlie gets distracted by a news story on TV about the women he saw going next door being found dead. Amy gets angry about being ignored again and smashes a bagel into Charlie's face then storms off. His friend Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) is in hysterics at this. Geoffreys really has a weird persona and he uses it to pretty good effect in this film.
Charlie is poking around the house when he gets disturbed by Billy Cole (Jonathan Stark), Jerry's house-mate and runs off. Later that night Charlie is watching Fright Night, the only show he ever watches, and he falls asleep again. When he wakes he sees a beautiful woman stripping at the window next door. Behind her is Dandridge who opens his mouth to reveal a set of vampire fangs poised to bite down the woman's throat. He must have heard Charlie because he looks right out at him then smiles and pulls down his blinds. Charlie panics, wakes his mother then goes out and hides in the bushes where he sees Billy dumping a body-sized bin bag in the back of a car. He tries to tell his mother but she thinks he must have been dreaming. Charlie faces a huge problem trying convince anyone since the truth sounds just like fiction.
After he fails to get Amy to believe him he decides to try the police but without mentioning vampires. A police detective goes to Dandriges's house but Billy manages to fob the cop off and when Charlie is forced to say what he knows to try to get the cop to investigate further he just ends up looking crazy, meaning he can't turn to the cops again. He goes to ask Ed for help and Ed is offended that Charlie thinks Ed is crazy enough to believe vampires are real He also doesn't like Charlie using his nickname Evil Ed. Ed does help with little bits of vampire lore but I wonder how helpful he was since Charlie watches these films every night and must be as familiar with the vampire rules as Ed. Maybe Charlie was just desperate to find someone to believe him.
One rule that Ed mentioned is never invite a vampire into your house so, of course, when Charlie gets back from Ed's Jerry is sitting the living room, invited in by Charlie's mother. I like the way that Dandrige threatens Charlie in front of his mother in this scene and Charlie's mother remains oblivious and thinks he's just making small talk. That night Jerry pays a more intimate visit to Charlie in his room and openly threatens him with dire consequences if doesn't stop snooping and telling people that he is a vampire.
The situation is getting very serious so Charlie heads to the TV studio that transmits Fright Night and begs for Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), the host of the show, to help him but Vincent thinks he is joking or insane and drives away. Charlie now realises how alone he is and makes preparations to kill Dandrige on his own. Amy and Ed call round and are deeply worried about his mental condition with all his talk about killing Dandrige. They try to put him off the idea and when that fails they get him to agree to wait until they return with help. They go to Vincent's house and ask for his help with convincing Charlie that he's wrong. They want him to convince Charlie that Jerry is just human by adopting his vampire hunter persona and performing a fake vampire test on Dandrige. Vincent arranges the test with Dandrige not realising that Dandrige is making sure the test really is a fake. Charlie trusts them but is worried about what Dandrige is going to do to them when his vampirism is revealed. In Dandrige's house Dandrige charms his guests and gently pokes fun at the idea of vampires. He passes Vincent's fake test leaving poor Charlie looking more isolated and completely crazy. But Vincent gets the glimpse of the truth in the mirror of a prop cigarette case.
This film is easily seen as just a throwaway popcorn flick and it is good one, but there is quite a good use of cultural blindness to isolate the genre savvy Charlie so that even when he's with people who love him he's totally on his own against Dandrige almost right up to the end. Chris Sarandon is perfect as Dandrige, easily switching the charm on and off as required. The late Roddy McDowall is also great as the washed-up actor Peter Vincent reduced to hosting a campy late night horror show, but the main credit has to go William Ragsdale who is excellent playing Charlie going crazy from being the only who knows the truth.
The Cult of Cthulhu are searching for part of a relic which is the key that will raise their master from his watery tomb and free him to rule the Earth. The Council of Cthulhu possess the other half of the relic and to stop the cult they send Professor Lake (Edmund Lupinski) of Miskatonic University to take the relic to the last descendant of H. P. Lovecraft and prevent the Cult from raising Cthulhu. This descendant is Jeff Philips (Kyle Davis) who works in a boring job in a cubicle in an office with his comic-book geek friend Charlie (Devin McGinn) and wishes there was more to life.
When Jeff and Charlie get home to their apartment they find Professor Lake standing there. He tries to tell them about the Cult of Cthulhu but Jeff doesn't believe any of it. Charlie on the other hand knows far too much about it and goes into a comic-illustrated history of Cthulhu and his war with the Elder Ones. Jeff does not think this makes the story any more credible, but Lake agrees that Charlie's story is true but incomplete. He reveals that Lovecraft was disguising truth as fiction and that he seemed to have a natural immunity to the madness inducing powers of Cthulhu and his General Starspawn (Ethan Wilde). The Council of Cthulhu think that this immunity has been passed down to Jeff making him the only person who can tackle Starspawn and stop the end of human civilisation. Lake's story is interrupted when the cult get to the apartment on the trail of the relic and Lake tells Jeff and Charlie to go and he gives the relic to Jeff. Lake then pulls out a large hammer on a chain with a harpoon at the other end from his bag and starts fighting off cult creatures to give Jeff and Charlie time to escape until Starspawn comes in and kills him.
Jeff and Charlie have to fight off a creature with a lamprey-like sucker mouth that fixes itself to their car window. They manage to do this with just a tire iron and then they drive off. Charlie suggests that they go see a guy they went to school with who knows all about Lovecraft. Paul (Barak Hardley) is another geek who lives with his foul-mouthed grandmother. He doesn't believe their story at first but is convinced when he sees the eyes of the relic glowing and he wants in on the adventure. He has a map from a comic-book to a Captain Olaf (Gregg Lawrence) who has told stories of his encounters with spawn of Cthulhu, the Deep Ones who live in the ocean. Starspawn has called up these Deep Ones to help him to get the relic. They come ashore next to a beach party and we see and hear them slaughtering everyone from inside a tent where a woman lies cowering in fear.
Jeff, Paul and Charlie have to get to Captain Olaf who lives in the middle of the desert to see if he has any idea how to defeat Starspawn and the Cult of Cthulhu
A comedy based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft has potential but this was disappointing. It has a very low-budget so it really has very little in the way of effects though some of it was pretty good for the money spent. I wasn't too put off by the large amount of dysfunctional geek comedy the film has. I think I was mainly let-down by how lame the bad guys really turned out to be. Maybe they should have spread a little more madness around because apart from the Deep Ones they didn't seem any more dangerous than any bunch of mooks. And the Deep Ones had a great build-up but after their initial killing spree they were a bit crap. Lovecraft wrote about cosmic horror but there really wasn't much sign of that here. It does show some promise and if they had decent budget they may have delivered something a bit better.
Seconds Apart (2011)
Twins of Evil
This was one of the features in the 2011 After Dark Horrorfest and I've just got round to watching it now. I tend to buy DVDs on a whim and often end up getting distracted and forgetting about them.
Seth (Gary Entin) and Jonah (Edmund Entin) Trimble are twin brothers born less than a minute apart. At a teenage party a group jocks blow their brains out in an oddly persistent game of Russsian Roulette, while Seth and Jonah hang out in background filming it. Detective Lampkin (Orlando Jones) senses something is really off about the scene especially the absence of any witnesses to the boys killing themselves in a house full of people partying. Seth and Jonah watch their video of the deaths eager to illicit an emotional reaction in themselves, some sign of feeling of empathy with their victims. They somehow caused the deaths as part of what they call The Project using their unspecified mental abilities. When they get ready for bed they perform their ablutions in perfect synchronicity, which really enhances their creepiness, especially when they go to sleep facing each other in the same bed.
Lampkin goes the Catholic school that the dead boys attended and tells the headmaster he wants to interview the pupils to see if any of them have any idea what happened at the party. He raises the possibility that the deaths were not suicide and that they were made look that way to cover up murders. He interviews a girl, Katie who is very nervous and withdrawn. She says she's glad the jocks are dead. Lampkin guesses at relationship gone bad with one of the dead boys which Katie confirms. She then mentions someone making a film and we get a flashback to Katie having sex with one of the boys in a locker-room while Seth and Jonah stand beside them and record it on video. She seems unsure of what is happening and we get the impression that the scene is another part of the twins' Project. I don't know how much of that she told Lampkin but it seems to be this that put him onto Seth and Jonah's trail.
Jonah meets new girl Eve (Samantha Droke) who insists on Jonah's help to find her class. Lampkin interviews Seth about the deaths, deliberately keeping the twins apart to trap and split them and trap them in a lie. While he's away Eve and Jonah chat together in the canteen. Lampkin tricks Seth into confirming the existence of the video. The boys appear in the headmaster Father Zinselmeyer's (Marc Macaulay) office. Using their mental powers they force him to tell who spoke to Lampkin and after Zinselmeyer tells them about Katie Seth leaves the priest to kill himself.
Lampkin really has his work cut out for him trying to prove that the spate of suicides are actually psychic murders, an idea no-one takes seriously but he is aided by the split between the brothers caused by Jonah's growing relationship with Eve
I enjoyed this film. It's not brilliant or even particularly original but the story did keep me watching to see how it is resolved. The film does not make it clear what mental powers the boys possess but it does gradually reveal that they are very powerful telepaths and telekinetics. Although there is some gore it is minimal and necessary for the story and it good to see the use of old style effects. The Catholic high school setting seemed a lot more authentic to me than many other high schools in other films.