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Film-maker Neil Marshall kicked off his career with two outstanding
low- budget horror films; "Dog Soldiers" and "The Descent". Quite a
promising start. Then followed "Doomsday", which got a mixed response.
I enjoyed it, but it's nothing more than an outrageous homage to
post-apocalyptic films like "Escape to New York" and the "Mad Max"
series. So his fourth outing would see Marshall tackle a swords and
sandals revenge pursuit on the frontier of the Roman Empire in
"Centurion". It's a gritty and brutal tale of survival and courage,
where Rome's invasion of northern Britain hit's a bump when they
encounter the guerrilla tactics of the tribal enemy the Picts. There's
something about it that looks epic thanks to its crisp, sweeping
photography, but its minimalist story telling makes sure it doesn't
quite complement it. The narrative is a fast-paced, cross-country chase
of rugged action and bloody onslaughts amongst beautiful highland
scenery. Where the terrain is just as harsh and unforgiving, as the
Roman's enemy. I think it loses shape and momentum after the hour mark
and the heavy-handed script gives us the usual character arches, but
Marshall's stylish verve is slick and taut. The battle scenes are
executed in a spectacular manner, where it's a barrage of relentless
and gusty combat. Michael Fassbender leads the way as a man looking for
redemption and Olga Kurylenko makes an impression as a Pict warrior.
Also Dominic West pops up. Simple, but effective action romp that for
most part doesn't let up and is masterfully framed.
"This is a new kind of war".
Joseph Zito is no stranger to noisy gun-ho, explosive action joints with films like semi 80s classics "Missing in Action" and "Invasion USA" under his belt. So you know what he would bring to the table and Zito doesn't disappoint. He goes big on nearly all fronts. An all-out assault on the senses with general mayhem. Now who to play an indestructible Russian Special Force soldier who must go undercover to infiltrate and assassinate an African rebel leader. Look no further than a stolid Dolph Lundgren. He's perfect for the role, as an instrument of war. The plot is typically laid-out; as a soldier goes in terminate a target to only realise he's expandable and left for dead by his superiors. This sees him sympathizing with the guerrillas' cause and leading them against his old comrades. It doesn't offer up much in its one-note story and the script can be a touch preachy, but the tough action is frenetic and well-staged even with some slow (the spiritual journey with the bushman), tired passages. The grimy atmosphere adds to its humid tempo. There are some colourful supporting cast with the live-wire Emmet Walsh, T.P McKenna as the evil Russian General, and sadistic glee from Carmen Argenziano as a Cuban Colonel. Also character actor Brion James shows up for a small part doing the standard bad guy shtick. A film that sticks to formula, but that's its strength and Zito knows it.
Doctor Craig Mannings is having visions where he sees himself killing women, but he slowly realises he's actually seeing through the eyes of a killer. What happens to be link? Low-budget psychotic thriller (with a touch of Giallo) that's bizarre and seedy, but not in an exploitative sense favouring European atmospherics and erotica than all-out crass and graphic exploitation. That's not say there aren't any sleazy and trash elements, but there's a certain style and chic to the production that lifts it up a notch. One thing that sticks with you is Ennio Morricone's layered music score. Emotional, simmering and truly unsettling. This complements Michael Moriarty's dual performance of two extremes. This two-sided turn is a magnificent blend of confidently underplayed and insanely creepy. Moriarty is a joy to watch, especially when he comes face to face with himself. This is where the tension arises, as a viewer we know what might happen while the characters are playing the chase up game. Moriarty playing the evil twin role simply got under my skin and the acts of violence handed out by this character are merciless. The twist when it comes is nightmarish, but the ending paints a very haunting suggestion that gives the film an effective sting because of its convincing performances. Nice touches by director Albert De Martino. Writing-wise there can be some inconsistent patterns (mainly past developments and character motivations), but it feels more like a mood piece with our two central characters (Moriarty superbly at work) interacting. One wanting to help, while the other wants no such thing. There's real solid support by Penelope Milford (who's fantastic in the very final scene), Geraldine Fitzgerald and quick cameo part for Cameron Mitchell.
Searing, passionate and stylish revenge thriller that rises above its b- grade formula due to its well-written character dramas lead by a powerful performance from Virginia Madsen. Its her character's fierce determination of a mother that drives it, especially in her commitment as she gets the tattoo of the avenging red tiger on her back. Madsen really takes it upon herself to portray a damaged individual who's desire for revenge sees her character entering the dangerous underworld of the Japanese mafia seeking the identity of the killer of her son who was caught in the crossfire during an Yakuza hit. The only clue driving her was the glimpse of a tattoo of a blue tiger across the killer's chest. Fearsome action with heated drama and cold straight-faced villains no surprises with the intrigue, but its well-made and there's perfect support parts led by Harry Dean Stanton.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Dreary, uninteresting low-cost supernatural set-up of a group people waking up in a abandoned asylum with no way out, but why are they there and what links everyone together? One or two nasty scenes with some decent looking effects (although the demons looked somewhat makeshift, if original), but all too predictable and dumb in its delivery to be effective. The build-up is not particularly captivating either, as we watch the characters bicker, whine and shout at each other, as they get picked off one by one as past secrets come out of the shadows to destroy them, or maybe not. It's all about the choices and redemption. Which path you choose determines your fate. When the twist arrived with its reveal of this nightmarish playground it had me groaning... so did the ending. The acting wasn't any great shakes either. In a way I thought it bought it down, as it was a film that seem to rely more on its acting and story dynamics (which where weak) than the visual action.
Summer in Nebraska, 1919 and a group of bikers on vintage motorcycles ride across the prairies on their way to California. On their journey they find themselves being pursued by a town posse. They decide to lay low, and invite themselves onto an isolated farmed owned by two sisters. Daughters of an Indian medicine man. The younger sister is welcoming, while the older is weary as she uses sorcery to defuse any sort of threat. Trippy rural, low- budget horror-comedy-romance-drama... I don't know how to categorise this one. I mainly sorted this one out for Scott Glenn. A bizarre, laid-back atmosphere with a touch of airy mysticism and a bunch of familiar faces giving animated performances (Keith Carradine, Scott Glenn & Gary Busey playing hillbilly cousins). While atypical (just look at the death scenes and ominous underlining), it was rather annoying to sit through (mainly the performances - Christina Raines taking top honors, music and its erratic mood swings) and its plot is threadbare with very little happening throughout. "Hex" is a neurotic story of love, acceptance and horror. But it doesn't completely come together, as there's not much to hold it there.
There's no safe haven, when Wings Hauser it out for revenge. Which a drug cartel soon finds out. "No Safe Haven" is your typically forgettable 80s action fodder ridiculously over-the-top in nearly every department from the action set-pieces, clunky dialogues and the villainous bad guys (especially a lip-smacking Branscombe Richmond). Quite reckless, but done with enough panache despite its low-budget frame. It's somewhat slow to begin with, but it does pack a punch when the frenetic action is transported to an impregnable South American jungle fortress. After the death of his two younger brothers and his mother at the hands of a vicious drug syndicate, Hauser's CIA agent Clete is a man on a mission. He gets by with plenty of charisma, a touch of intensity (mainly those scenes in the first half when one-by-one he playfully begins picking off the henchmen to make a point) and with the aid of a weapons expert amusingly played by Robert Tessier. Gladly the story stays simple with little in the way of distractions, as Hasuer goes about his brutal business accompanied by a screeching rock soundtrack. We know what it wants to deliver and for most part it serves up the stereotypically colourful and cheesy action goods.
Edgar Allan Poe's story sees another adaptation in this 80s made-for-TV outing starring some names in George C Scott, Rebecca De Mornay and Val Kilmer. It's diverting, but very unexceptional and stagy in the details. In honesty it's the strong performances that really carry this one, especially a stalwart Scott and a headstrong De Mornay. How the cast worked of each other kept me glued. Some atmospherics are etched out nicely, with fitting period details of a turn of a century Paris and there's a dark, grim air lurking about. The deaths happen off screen, but there's something ghastly about them and that's mainly due to its effective use of sound. However the story is all about the investigation/mystery of two murdered women and it's somewhat stiff in its execution of it. Even with the script throwing around ideas, theories in its quest to uncover the motive of the puzzling deaths it just fared as a typical crime plot of outrageous circumstances. Still at least it didn't find itself getting distracted by certain sub-plots. Earnest entertainment.
Something like this might not look original now, but back when it was
released it was probably refreshing and innovative. An army cameraman
(code-name Charlie MoPic) films a small recon platoon to record the
procedures of combat situations in the jungles of Vietnam. Think of its
low-budget (and it shows) and especially competing with Vietnam war
films of the late 80s like "Platoon", "Full Metal Jacket" and
"Hamburger Hill". Looking for a different angle to set it apart
I don't know how successful it was, as I only heard of the film for the
first time a couple months back. It does remind me of the TV show "Tour
of Duty", which if I remember correctly had an episode using this
Still "84 Charlie MoPic" is quite a personal, gut-wrenching and gritty look into the exploits on the front-line. It doesn't shy away either, giving the characters plenty of time to bond and open up with their differing perspectives. It's driven by its dialogues/characters, as it's in the details, commonplace but realistic. Sometimes a little slow and meandering, but those looking for constant action will be hugely disappointed, as when it occurs its only minor and the Viet Cong are kept mainly unseen, but it does have impact because we feel every inch of pain, discomfort and disorientation the soldiers encountered. This is where the intensity arrives from; the chemistry and respect between the men. That when they start getting picked off in quick concession, the intimate styling crafted gave it a more grounded sense that played to its strengths. It's primal, instinctive, as their combat training makes little headway in their quest for survival. There are no rules in this war, where danger is always there. The performances are raw, but believable and well-delivered by a bunch of no names. The low-scale handling gives it an organic, but tight and humid touch Written and directed by Patrick Luncan, he makes good use of the one idea concept and lets it flow accordingly to achieve maximum effect.
After seeing the title, you could say it's a neat homage to Tobe
Hooper's horror classic "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". In some regards
it's virtually that film, but set on a whaling vessel where the crew (a
family; mother and her two sons) practice their trade on unexpected
victims. Hey even Gunnar Hansen makes an appearance, but finds himself
in the opposite chain of events.
A group of international tourists on a whale watching trip in Iceland, find themselves in trouble when their captain is killed in a freak accident. But lucky for them there is a passing former whaling vessel where they are force to take refuge, but to their surprise it's no safe haven as once they step aboard the ship they become the helpless prey.
The oddball plot might be thin, but the choice of location was fitting and it did offer a surprise or so. However its bitter, mean-spirited tone that really did surprise me, as it doesn't hide its intentions. Especially since after it kicks into gear, it never lets up setting up its bewildering situation. On the other side of that, I did find the majority of the characters (mainly the victims) quite insufferable and disconnected. Very typical, if dislikeable bunch, with the exception of two characters (played with gusto by Terence Anderson and Pihla Viitala). This means there's a healthy body count and numerous over-the- top slaughter sequences. Blood runs freely. It can get really cartoon- like in its graphic depiction, which does disrupt the suspense and raise a chuckle. But still the script does have that dark humorous edge, which never lets it become too serious. Director Julius Kemp's handling is streamlined, being well-shot and confidently paced.
Nothing out the ordinary, but a amusing, rustic splatter horror slasher.
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