Reviews written by registered user

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18 reviews in total 
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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
It's fun - but don't believe the hype., 23 August 2006

I evaded much of the hype, but dutifully went to see the movie. Throwing in my two cents is a little superfluous now, since everyone will already have their own ideas about the movie (and many have invested way too much in it to succumb to reality at this late stage) but the movie was no great shakes. Everything previous to the arrival of the motherf*cking was motherfu*king boring - and whilst we expect characters in a film such as this to be one-dimensional, do we really need to spend so much time in their company, listening to jaw-droppingly mundane dialogue not too far divorced from TV soap opera chat? Once the snakes arrive things thankfully heat up a little, and the first massacre scene was gratifyingly OTT. However, the snakes are really pretty boring and unconvincing (I've seen better CGI in a video game). They're never as menacing as the REAL snake they used in 'Venom'... I firmly think animatronics and real snakes should have been used like they did back in the day.

One can't help but feel Sam Jackson was cool but not exactly riveting or as entertaining as we might have hoped. He retains all the magnetism and charisma we expect of him, but the script never allows him to cut loose enough, and while he's right to play the role straight, he ends up just being quite unremarkable.

There are a few chuckles to be had and it's not a bad way to spend an evening (but a terrible way to spend months reading blogs and designing posters). The main thing I object to is that modern teen audiences seem to be reacting as though they've never heard of 'exploitation' films before. I hope anyone who enjoyed the 'Snakes on a Plane' experience will check out some of the older (better) exploitation flicks, from kung fu, to blaxploitation, to monster movies to horror. Endless pleasures await you. Start with 'Goke Bodysnatcher From Hell'.

16 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
THIS is cinema., 22 August 2006

I'm currently battling a long standing and gravely serious addiction to 70's B-pictures. Blaxploitation, kung-fu, pinky violence, spaghetti westerns, monster movies, Russ Meyer flicks, Italian crime movies - the effects of such an addiction can be gargantuan. However, the crime of many artifacts from the dead era of true 'trash' cinema is that they simply tend not to quite live up to their own hype. See, all these movies had was poster art, outrageous titles, taglines and perhaps one star attraction (like Sid Haig, Franco Nero or star of The Executioner, Sonny Chiba).

However, there is on occasional a movie that comes you way which meets and exceeds your wildest fantasies - Mario Bava's Rabid Dogs, Larry Cohen's Q The Winged Serpent, Giuliano Montaldo's heist film Grand Slam, Sergio Corbucci's Death Rides a Horse - these are all movies that are actually as good as they sound. The Executioner is one such film - it will surpass your wildest grindhouse dreams.

This movie is so stacked with raw humour, outrageous action scenes and sheer entertainment factor that it almost goes beyond belief. I simply can't overstate the pleasure that awaits you with this one - get some friends together, get some beers out, maybe roll yourselves a 'camberwell carrot' or two, and bask in the absurdity and outlandishness of this - Sonny Chiba's FINEST, most hilarious film.

It'll will restore your faith in exploitation films... and maybe, just maybe it will be the best 90 minutes of your entire life.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
In defense of this flick and remakes in general, 26 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I finally saw this flick unrated (big fan of Aja's debut 'Switchblade Romance', as well as the original 'Hills')... and felt like defending it from the onslaught of abuse it seems to be receiving on these boards.

This movie is everything horror should be. There's suspense, neatly done character work, aesthetically perfect direction, taut editing, balls-to-the-wall gore and a nifty political subtext. There's a strong undercurrent of satire and graveyard wit to this picture that I imagine will float by your average viewer (especially those that have their head up their asses already on the remake front or on the horror front in general). The republican gun-tooter ends up burnt at the stake and impaled in the skull with the American symbol - talk about flag-waver! I saw the scenes in the empty, ghostlike testing houses as a hostile perception of the facade of the American 'nuclear family' by French director Aja - considering the original movie was semi-inspired by the war in Vietnam (at least on a subconscious level), Aja's attempt at bringing some of that subversive element to his version was admirable and subtle.

Secondly, I'd like to say something on remakes. Naturally there are some TERRIBLE remakes - 'The Fog', 'Assault on Precinct 13' and 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' come to mind as particular offenders in that they totally lost the spirit of the originals, bringing them down to base formulas and clichés, taking away what we loved about them in the first place. However, there are terrible MOVIES too. The last non-remake I saw at the cinema was Superman Returns last week, and it was intolerably bland, charmless, humourless and overwrought in this armchair critic's opinion. It also, aside from being a sequel, followed the Superhero formula so precisely that it may as well have been a remake. On the other hand, Spiderman was great, stylish, entertaining movie-making. My point is there are good movies and bad movies just like there are good remakes and bad remakes. Most of horror retreads old story lines and themes anyway, it's the individual touch that's important. Let's not forget that Cronenberg's 'The Fly' and Carpenter's 'The Thing' are remakes, as are plenty of other great non-horror flicks (Scarface... hell even the original Assault on Precinct 13 is a loose remake of Rio Bravo). Essentially it's down to the skill with which the story is told, even if we've heard it before.

Finally, I admired the gutsy gore in this movie. There were no restraints (at least in the unrated version), and it's clear where Asian cinema has rubbed off. Just as we expect to be taken away from the action, Aja gives us a close-up. I mean I've seen a lot more violent and disturbing movies of course.. but I think horror movies HAVE to take the violence seriously... so many recent horror flicks (remakes or otherwise) have sucked in this department. I even thought Hostel was a BIG cop-out, especially since Eli Roth was so determined to go all out. That movie didn't make me bat an eye. But Hills didn't pull any punches.

Anyway there's my rather lengthy defense. It's actually one of my favourite horror movies of the decade, along with The Descent, Battle Royale, Land of the Dead, Switchblade Romance (minus the ending) and Shaun of the Dead... If you haven't caught it yet, and you like your horror pics, don't miss it.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Like looking in a mirror, 11 July 2006

This wonderfully dry tale of shameless substance abuse and desperation (which is of course 'the English way') manages to be menacingly cynical, riotously funny, endlessly quotable and heart warmingly poignant all at once. The pleasantly meandering plot and blurred motivations are unusual practice in films, normally reserved for literature, so it's no surprise that Robinson originally intended it to be a novel. All that happens in the film comes about apparently 'by mistake', and I think for that reason, it's a film that closely mirrors my own lowly existence as a student. Grant offers a truly mesmorisingly insane performance, his beady eyes riveting around in his skull like some sort of Camden Klaus Kinski, and Griffiths turns in a wonderfully obscene caricature of a wretchedly lonely old poof. The soundtrack's a corker too, with King Curtis and Hendrix. Often imitated yet totally unparalleled by anything since, this film exists completely on its own, timelessly quoted in pubs and flats from one Withnail to the next.

Rabid Dogs (1974)
18 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Remarkable film-making- Bava's darkest, most nihilistic film, 2 September 2005

Rabid Dogs is a heist film from director Mario Bava (Black Sabbath, Hatchet For The Honeymoon, Diabolik). It tells the story of a dangerous gang of criminals - Doc, Blade and Thirtytwo, who hijack a car in the aftermath of a heist to find themselves with three hostages: a woman, a child, and an innocent man. Much of the drama plays out within the claustrophobic setting of the car as its heads out of the city. The attention is focused on the child, who is sick and requires a hospital, as well as the tension within the gang, and the sexual abuse which one of the gang members subjects his female hostage to. It's truly a roller-coaster of a thriller- a pulpy little crime tale that deserves the attention of modern crime/horror audiences and critical acclaim.

The film exhibits Bava's skill for cinema aesthetics, with its stylized editing and artifice. His skill for pacing results in a thriller which keeps the audience on its toes throughout. The moral ambiguity of all of the characters that inhabit his world creates a story that continually catches us off guard, shocking us with lashing of visceral violence and nihilistic cruelty. Surprises too come from the remarkably modern vibe; from the Tarantino-esquire dialogue and graveyard wit, to the blacker than black final twist. These postmodern touches place Bava firmly ahead of his time- as if further proof was needed after his horror masterpieces Black Sabbath, The Mask Of The Demon and Bay Of Blood.

Until recently, Rabid Dogs was thought to be a 'lost film', likely to have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair. Luckily, actress Lea Lander who starred in the picture, raised the money to restore the print 20 years later, based upon Bava's written notes and work print. The film also has the addition of one newly shot opening, which was nicely done, and filmed in accordance with Bava's specifications. What results is the closest product to Bava's complete vision that cineastes have been able to see. The film was briefly available on DVD, but went out of print quickly. It is now available as a copy (with menus and a limited supply of extras) from eBay and various websites.

It's highly recommended for fans of Bava's work, as it shows us a darker side of his art in a new genre. Fans of edgy cinema everywhere will certainly enjoy this film, particularly those who enjoyed films such as The Hitcher, Reservoir Dogs, Hitch-Hike and The Taking Of Pelham 123. Bava is to my mind a cinematic genius- his controversially dark approach, his skill and confidence with the camera and his stylish aesthetic compensating for his film's lack of superficial 'Hollywood' sheen or budget.

"Extras" (2005)
75 out of 80 people found the following review useful:
First episode is highly promising, 21 July 2005

Gervais had a big task on his hands with this project- The Office has now entered into comedy history, and people had very high hopes for his follow-up. The documentary style has been ditched, and Gervais has given his character just a little more dignity than he gave David Brent, so the comedy is a little less squeamish. The changes in direction and style are daring and pay off- the show doesn't feel like a desperate follow up or imitation of The Office. In fact, it's highly original.

It's a pitch black satire, which follows the efforts of Gervais's character as he attempts to progress from being an extra to actually getting a real acting job, or at least a line. The shows also charts his female friend's unsuccessful love-life, his deadpan agent and parodies a celebrity every week. This week it was the turn of Ben Stiller, who was mocked as an evil dictator of a man, who constantly reminds those around him of the box office of his movies and insists that kissing Cameron Diaz "still counts", even though it was for a movie. Stiller is a good sport for joining in, and has fun messing with his image.

Overall the show is gently paced, well written and shows extremely high potential for character study. Definitely one to watch.

STILLER: DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!? GERVAIS: Starsky or Hutch- I can never remember. STILLER: Was that supposed to be funny? GERVAIS: You were in it- you tell me.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The Sith Has Hit The Fan, 20 May 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith Back in good old '83, Lucas replaced the word 'Revenge' with 'Return' for Episode VI's title. Clearly a Jedi cannot take revenge- a Jedi's way is not hate or aggression. In reference to this change, Episode III's title returns to that word 'revenge'- and thus marks itself out as the polar opposite of the original trilogy's finale. It is an intensely dark affair, dealing with Anakin's fall from the grace of the Jedi council through Chancellor Palpantine's manipulation, and to his final transformation to Darth Vader. Lucas referred to the film as 'Titanic in space', and he is right; essentially a Shakespearian tragedy in nature, the climax is a predetermined catastrophe which the film cannot escape.

Being a big Star Wars fan, I queued up in the company of more cynical friends with a mixture of excitement and dread. In a sense, I knew that this film was damage limitation; the previous prequels were unmitigated failures in almost every way. The action had been thick and fast, but so artificial that none of the battles had made the impact on me like the original trilogy's had. The films had lacked a villain, and generally lacked a plot. Worse still, there were no memorable characters; no Han Solo, no Leia. No truly memorable relationships. Essentially I had found, to my dismay, that Episodes 1 and 2 were little more than high tech screensavers filled with vacuous characters and appalling CGI. What I loved in the original trilogy was the humanity beneath it all- without that, there is no sense of excitement in the fights, no passion in the romances, no humour in the jokes, no sense of satisfaction in the ultimate victory.

Unfortunately, Lucas could not do the impossible and reinvigorate his lackluster prequel trilogy with this final installment. However, he has still crafted a surprisingly satisfying, loyal, fitting finale. The implementation of Order 66 when the Jedi are mercilessly killed off by their own armies, and even the younglings are left as corpses on the floor, is jaw droppingly dramatic and mercilessly nihilistic. The murder of Mace Windu is undeniably gripping, and fraught with tension as we see Anakin make a mistake he will reverse as Darth Vader at the climax of Return Of The Jedi. And the finale, as Anakin is left to burn alive, minus two legs and an arm, is the moment fans have been waiting to see for decades (particularly since Hayden took the role..). The final shot is perhaps the most satisfying moment; Obi Wan delivers Luke to his new parents, and Owen strikes the exact same pose Luke does as a young man in New Hope as he looks at the sun setting over Tatooine. Lucas therefore manages to finish off the film on an extraordinarily optimistic tone, that is sure to make hardcore fans like myself shiver with satisfaction as we see the two trilogies linked seamlessly. We even see a young Grand Moff Tarkin overlooking the foundations of the Death Star.

While there is plenty to like here, I must stress that unforgivable problems still exist. Lucas's sterile direction and rather dire script allow for little emotional intensity or characterization, General Grievous coughing is about as human as it gets, and the breakdown of Anakin's relationship with the pregnant princess is hardly Romeo & Juliet. There are vague attempts at pandering to the fan audience which come off as rather desperate, such as the references to Chewbacca and the utterly unremarkable Yoda lightsaber battle. Perhaps worst offender of all is the pacing; Lucas is terrified of letting his backless characters carry a scene for longer than a minute. Even the much hyped final fight is ruined by constant cutting back and forth. Personally my nemesis in cinema at the moment is CGI. So overused is CGI in this film, that with some regularity there is literally nothing real on screen apart from a crooning actor. It's quite simply over-compensation. The final lightsaber battle was undermined so badly by the CGI lava bubbling all around that it resembled Finding Nemo. It's a testament to this that the final battle of Empire, which is relatively untouched by CGI, was so much more thrilling- despite its sometimes clunky choreography.

Even if the film-making is as cynical as much of the film itself, I'm thankful the prequels have come to an end on this, a refreshingly adult, nihilistic and tragic film that carries the full gravitas of the Star Wars saga on its shoulders, and just about manages to support it.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
The movie Lawrence Tierney calls 'Eddie Depressly', 31 March 2005

There are a number of reasons to see Eddie Presley; it strikes a realistic if depressing tone, and doesn't dive out of this realism for the sake of the third act. The film portrays the monotony of living life on the ropes, and the futility of seeking fame that eludes so many. Whitaker is convincing as the main character in the film based on the play which he wrote. His attachment to the writing is clear; he allows the audience to see all sides of his character, uncomfortable yet involving viewing.

Ultimately though, the film refuses to make judgments on its principal character; his narcissism and vanity go unchecked. We see him totally ignoring the advances of a woman who is meant to be his perfect match; the caring co-worker type who indulges his self centered fantasies. We see him use the services and faith of his friends without thanks. We see him expect fame rather than truly deserve it. The main character is so deeply flawed, yet the film only reflects on his depression and possible mental handicap (portrayed in incongruous flashbacks), without judging his motivations. Long shots of Eddie whimpering or sighing to himself, losing himself in the past, do little for the film. The audience of his show within the film are rightly falling asleep, but he continues his ramble about how sad it is for him, his past etc. This faces the film's actual audience with a difficult choice; do we too simply fall asleep while this man feels sorry for himself? The filmmakers are too in love with their central character to detach themselves from him enough to actually make a satisfying flick. I admit I became attached to the character, particularly in the first hour (significantly stronger than the second half, where Eddie plays his show to a bored audience). However, as the film progressed I found myself getting frustrated at Eddie's self delusion; one which the filmmakers become so involved with, its hard to see whether they themselves were even conscious that it's a delusion either. It's hard to even refer to this flick as a character-study, since it rarely actually studies the character - rather it gets swept along by his narcissism, before ultimately drowning in his own self-interest. This is reflected by the movie's initial running time of 3 hours, which was inevitably cut down to a more manageable 95 minutes.

Those seeking the tooted cameos will probably be disappointed by the blink-and-you-miss-it appearances of Bruce Campbell and Quentin Tarantino, which are literally glances. Neither has a line in the film either. More entertaining is Lawrence Tierney's cameo; a role he was made for. Also on show is Ted Raimi, brother of 'Evil Dead' director Sam Raimi, who is amusing as always but catastrophically miscast.

Overall this is a picture that wears its faults on its sleeve, much like Eddie himself. Whilst it never quite reaches the melancholy brilliance of a Jarmusch movie, it does have its moments, and is worth checking out. It's also of interest to the low budget filmmaker, given its shoe-string budget.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Everybody who disagrees with this gushing review is wrong, 9 February 2005

Spiderman 2 is the definition of a superhero movie, and Sam Raimi shows he hasn't lost a bit of his directorial vitality since Evil Dead. He throws the camera in every direction during this film, its like the Citizen Kane of summer blockbuster Marvel movie sequels. I mean this is daring stuff, its like throwing stale old Hollywood into a blender and throwing in a touch of 70s cinematic flair.

Maguire hits the spot for the second time round, adding a significant amount of emotional backbone. The setting is used well, the New York solidarity touchingly corny. Doc Ock is f*ckin A, and beats the Green Goblin with that old "My uncontrollable robotic arms are my own worst enemy" schtick. Finally, need I remind the hot blooded males and sexy ass lesbian readers of this site how fine Mary Jane is. I could make a pun about web fluid but I'm just going to say it out loud to myself and laugh instead.

I've spent way too much time writing this review, because I could have just reminded my fellow IMDb readers that the movie has a chainsaw in it, instantly demolishing any other negative reviews. We may have been a little drunk before we even set foot inside the theater, but we were downright high after that chainsaw scene. Even the female companions we brought along admitted the movie was super fly TNT, and totally rocked HARD. 10/10

Spiderman 2 Quote J. Jonah Jameson: "Guy named Otto Octavius with 8 limbs. What are the odds?"

Maniac Cop (1988)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
You'd Be A MANIAC To Miss It!!!!, 9 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Of course both the movie Maniac Cop and its tentatively titled sequel Maniac Cop 2 need no introduction, but for the less initiated of you, the series is a low budget thrill ride made in the 80s, starring a personal hero of mine, Bruce Campbell (of Evil Dead fame). The Maniac Cop of the title has started killing mercilessly with the aid of his evil temperament and the blade he keeps within his truncheon.

Cool Things About Maniac Cop 'You Have The Right To Remain Silent... Forever!' I don't need to express to you how f**king bad ass that tag line is. And silent you will be, as this film will keep you pinned to the edge of your seat throughout, shaken and desperate to discover the Maniac Cops identity, his motive, and whether wrongly accused Campbell will be able to prove his innocence. If you attempt to speak during the movie, you will simply stutter like a spastic, so don't.

The Ballsy Plotting The main character dies halfway through, leaving the rest of the film to rest on Campbells very weakly developed supplementary character, thus significantly reducing any emotional engagement the audience had developed with the human characters in the film. How ballsy is that! I mean seriously, that is ballsy. That is so ballsy. Almost as ballsy as casting Richard Roundtree (Shaft) as the angry black police captain, a role in which he excels.

The Soundtrack The soundtrack to this film comes second only to Carpenters Assault On Precinct 13 in terms of electro slap bass. Just when you think the film cant get any more bad ass, in comes a dirty keyboard bass warble to totally throw you off edge. Look out for the use of a simple drum beat which lets the audience know that something bad ass is about to happen, like Maniac Cop getting medieval on some kid or something.

The Balls To The Wall Implausibilitity So this dude is killed in prison but then comes back to life with a brain defect that entitles him to be let out of the slammer due to his being legally dead. Since a piece of paper has declared him deceased, he is now totally invincible. He is actually impaled through his chest by a 12 foot long metal girder which smashes through the windshield of the van he is driving at 90mph into a lake, and he survives.

I threw this flick into the player at a friends house and we all (except one person who i don't even like that much) agreed that it was a classic of the genre. The DVD also advertised a movie called Frankenhooker ("A Terrifying Tale Of Sluts And Bolts"), about a man who pieces together a whore out of dead prostitutes body parts. The box says "Its a stitch", and I seriously cannot wait to see it.

Adios, Iggy

Maniac Cop Quote Frank McCrae: "Look at the size of those hematomas!"

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