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42 reviews in total 
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A god-awful mess, 3 July 2014

Let's get this out of the way from the start: I like Rob Zombie's movies. House of 1000 Corpses was good and creepy, Devil's Rejects was one of the best horror movies of the last 20 years, and the Halloween remakes were... honestly pretty good. I'm pretty down with Satanic cult movies, too, and in fact I wish Hollywood would make more like The Devil's Rain or Race With the Devil. So when I heard Rob Zombie was making a Satanic cult movie, I thought it had to be good. It had to at least be interesting.

It isn't good. It isn't interesting, except in sporadic moments. It isn't even really a movie, so much as a bunch of unconnected scenes strung together without reason or purpose. You feel the director had about 45 minutes' worth of material, so he had to pad it out with a whole subplot about people searching for the key to the mystery (i.e. Bruce Davison reads a lot of books. Cinematic!). It's padded out with tedious scenes in a radio station that only served to remind me of the much better Pontypool, and wish I was watching that instead. It's padded out with a three minute sequence of a character sleeping. Then waking up. Then getting dressed. Then peeing, on-camera. That's not building atmosphere, that's padding. I can't believe Rob Zombie has apparently forgotten that.

Honestly, that might not be unsalvageable, but for the horrendous acting performances in this movie. Sheri Moon Zombie is allowed to give a somewhat naturalistic performance, but nearly everyone else spends most of the movie screeching absurd dialogue at the tops of their voices. You'd think that would make it into a camp classic, but the effect is more like being trapped next to a loony on the bus for an hour and three quarters. It's not camp, it's not fun, it's just tedious and, ultimately, embarrassing.

The set design is good, Rob Zombie can still frame a shot, and the boom mike didn't get in shot, so I guess it isn't a one-star film. But dear lord it's bad.

Turn the bloody lights on!, 28 August 2013

The Aliens and the Predators are back, and this time it's not in a spaceship, or a weird planet, or even in the Central American jungles. This time they're infesting a small American town! But it's worse than that - much worse. This time they're - lazy! Seriously, this has to be one of the laziest, most uninspired sequels I've ever seen. The characters are stock clichés - the overburdened sheriff who never calls for backup, the nice but nerdy kid, the slutty girl, the school bullies, and so on and on. None of them is a protagonist, which means that we don't have anyone to lead us through the story.

Not that this really matters, since the story consists of: people are attacked by aliens. People are eaten. More people are attacked by aliens. Repeat until closing credits. Alien, Aliens and Predator built up suspense, and had resourceful heroes trying to fight back against the monsters, even if the odds were impossible. There's none of that here. Bland non-characters are attacked and immediately eaten. That's all you're getting, over and over again.

Even that action is barely visible, because for some reason (to disguise cheap special effects?) the whole thing is shot in near darkness. On the rare occasions that you can make something out through the gloom, your response is likely to be 'Who's that? Oh, never mind, he just got eaten. Oh, it's gone dark again'.

The sum total of links to the other movies is that there's a character called Dallas. This movie is a wretched, cack-handed insult to fans of Alien and Predator alike.

Savages (2012)
225 out of 317 people found the following review useful:
Please, just make the voice-over stop, 25 September 2012

There are many bad things about this movie, but let's list the good things first. The plot makes sense, kind of. It's nicely shot, and the beach looked pretty. And... I guess John Travolta looked as though he was having fun? Which is more than I could say for the poor buggers who had to sit through this mess.

Your two leads, ladies and gentlemen, are Aaron Johnson, last seen being upstaged by a preteen girl, and Taylor Kitsch, who Hollywood keeps casting as the lead in blockbusters which then tank spectacularly at the box office. You know why that is, Hollywood? It's because Taylor Kitsch has no charisma. None. The furniture was more interesting than he was, and had more emotional range. Even he's better than Johnson, a black hole of tedium from which nothing interesting can escape. These are two of the blandest leads I've ever seen, and I've seen movies that starred rappers.

But dear God in heaven, they are much, much better than Blake Lively. I haven't seen much else of her acting, so I can only think she can do much better than this. But here she's playing a 30-year-old ingénue, a woman-child who knows Shakespeare but doesn't know what 'savages' means. She's meant to be sexy and alluring, but she comes across as so boundlessly stupid that no man could seriously find her attractive. I don't think that's her fault, but the no-nudity clause that made the sex scenes in this movie so absurd? Yeah, that was her fault.

Even that isn't the worst. There's still... that voice-over. The narration that infests this whole movie, but especially the early scenes, is some of the worst writing I've ever heard. 'I had orgasms, he had wargasms' is a phrase that will live with me until I die. And now, even if you haven't seen the movie, it'll haunt your nightmares, too. You're welcome.

Twixt (2011)
10 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
Subtle. This film is not it., 15 September 2012

If you're going to watch this movie, it's best to forget who the director is. Yes, Francis Ford Coppola has made some of the greatest films of all time, but that was a very long time ago; in fact, the last time he made a horror movie was nearly fifty years ago (Dracula, which was a bizarre costume drama, doesn't count). So you have to put all that out of your mind, and pretend that this thing was directed by someone you've never heard of, and have no expectations.

And it's still terrible. As Val Kilmer drives into the Mysterious Little Town where all dodgy horror movies take place, an ominous music track rises to a crescendo, a crow caws and somewhere in the distance, an actual bell tolls. Subtlety, what's that? Just in case you couldn't work it out, a voice-over tells us that something evil is occurring - the proof being that the town clock doesn't work properly. I only wish I was making that up, or the CHORD OF DOOM that strikes when the camera focuses on - a bird house! An evil bird house, obviously, with evil, demon-possessed sparrows inside it.

Well, all right, that's the opening five minutes. The movie does settle down after that, and, well, the cinematography is nice. Coppola still knows how to frame a shot, and it's all lusciously printed on proper film stock. It's horribly written, edited and scored, but the film stock is nice. To put it mildly, that doesn't make up for the film's problems, including a plot involving an Evil Vicar that is frankly idiotic.

Worst of all is the acting. You could almost believe that the actors here are in some kind of twisted competition to give the most lifeless performance possible - yes, even Bruce Dern - but you simply can't beat Val Kilmer in a competition like that. As with many of his recent performances, he seems to be asleep on his feet for most of this thing. But, just when you think he's giving the most awful performance of the movie, along comes his ex wife, Joanne Whalley, to steal the bad acting crown from under his nose. If you've wondered why she doesn't do many movies any more, this film will explain everything.

A couple of last things. Elle Fanning's character seems to be an, ah, object of affection for a good few characters in this movie. She is about twelve. The constant references to how pretty she is are seriously gross.

Secondly, there's a plot twist that references something that happened in Coppola's own personal life, which is *really* uncomfortable, especially in a cheesy horror movie. Maybe Coppola thought this film would be a lot more profound than it actually is. Maybe he should give up on the movies, and go back to making wine.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
It's not for you, it's for the morons, 25 November 2011

I think everyone knows about this film by now. Critics hated it, audiences stayed away in their millions, and when the British Film Council was abolished recently, one of the main sticks used to beat its corpse with was its financing of this movie.

I thought it couldn't be that bad. I thought it must have some redeeming value. Some funny moments, at least. I was so, so wrong. If anything, the critics were too kind to this unfunny, putrid pile of steaming faecal matter.

Ah, but it's not for you, is the reply. It's not meant for people who can string a sentence together, or do sums, or walk upright. This one's for the idiots, who just like something simple, a good old-fashioned chuckle at some sexual shenanigans. If you don't like it, it's because you're an intellectual snob. This is the modern equivalent of a Carry On film, just harmless, smutty fun.

Except it isn't, and I hope the film's defenders are haunted by the vengeful ghost of Hattie Jacques for even mentioning Carry On in the same breath as this... thing. The Carry On films were funny, at least every so often. They had these old-fashioned things called 'jokes' which were designed to make you 'laugh'. Someone needs to explain these concepts to the people responsible for making this movie, because they clearly have no idea what those things are.

This is a movie that expects you to laugh at the idea of a threesome - with 2 guys and a girl! At a man who has a big penis! At Johnny Vegas getting drunk and singing! These things are funny by themselves, apparently. They must be, because I was clearly expected to laugh at them.

A lowbrow sex comedy ought to be funny, at least. If it can't be funny (and good God, this cannot be anything in the same county as funny), then it can at least be sexy. Sadly, unless you find Johnny Vegas and Mackenzie Crook to be gorgeous hunks of manhood, this ain't very sexy either. It's a dead loss, a worthless waste of time that will even disappoint the gibbons who are its intended audience.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Hitcher, generic own-brand version, 26 September 2011

I admit that I'm biased when it comes to the original movie of The Hitcher. i love Rutger Hauer, I've driven more miles than I care to count down endless, empty American highways, and there's no doubt that after a while the loneliness gets to you. Out there, in the middle of nowhere, anything can happen. It's a scary place, and that movie distils those fears into the character of one mysterious, deadly man.

Even if you don't agree that the original is a masterpiece, though, it's far better than this pointless remake. The theme of loneliness on the empty roads is immediately jettisoned, since we now have two people in the car; the original's spooky beginning is replaced with a scene at a sunny college, set to a pumping, generic rock soundtrack. C Thomas Howell's lonely drifter is replaced by a couple of cute college kids. The rough edges have been sanded off, everything that was interesting has gone, and we're left with the Wal-Mart own-brand version of The Hitcher, complete with Sean Bean, the Wal-Mart own-brand version of Rutger Hauer.

Someone saw the spooky, disturbing, weird original movie, and decided it needed to be more mainstream, and the protagonists needed to be more 'relatable' - or more ordinary, in other words. What The Hitcher really needed was a coy shower scene, where the heroine holds her hands over her breasts, set to generic plinky-plonk piano music. It needed more jump scares. It needed a baddie who shoots down a helicopter with a pistol, from a moving car 200 feet away. I remember watching the original and thinking that was just what it needed to make it perfect.

Sean Bean, god bless him, is actually really good in this, nearly as good as Hauer in the original. But the movie doesn't deserve him. I know what the director deserves, though, and it involves two great big trucks...

13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
They don't make 'em like this any more, thank God, 18 July 2011

You know how your granny complains that they never make nice films any more, that the whole family can sit down and watch? This was clearly designed by your granny, as something nice and old fashioned; the trouble is, I think the old bird's getting a bit senile.

It goes like this: Jack lives in fairyland, where everything is a fairy story, and he wants to be a hero. But in order to do so, he has to go on a quest and learn about things like Sacrifice and Perseverance and I'm sorry I just can't go on. I just can't.

It's not the clichéd plot that kills this movie. It's not even the hideous, explosion-in-a-cuteness-factory design of the sets. It's the acting, and the characters. They're just AWFUL. Jack himself is the kind of precocious brat who needs a good whack upside the head, but he's nothing compared to poor Christopher Lloyd, who is forced to explain every joke very slowly, over and over, as though he's speaking to an audience that's suffering from major brain damage. Lloyd is better than the frantically mugging Wallace Shawn, who plays multiple roles, all of them dreadful. Even that shameful performance is far, far better than Gilbert Gottfried, who is just insufferable as a human chicken. Did no one look at that character? Did no one think that maybe, just maybe, a movie with that horrible, screeching nincompoop at the centre of it might be a bad idea? The only cast member who comes out of this mess with any dignity intact is Chloe Moretz, who filmed this just before she went on to fame in Kick-Ass. I think it's safe to say she won't be putting this movie in her show reel, though.

This is an old-fashioned family film, in all the wrong ways. It's far too twee and cloying for adults, and much too cutesy for kids who have been brought up on the harder edges of Pixar or Disney movies. There's never any sense of even slight danger, so that it's impossible for adults or kids to get involved in the film. I wouldn't recommend letting your kids see Kick-Ass, but there are a thousand better movies for them than this.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Blue balls, the movie, 18 July 2011

Exploitation movies are a special genre. They don't need great acting - and this movie has terrible acting, which is par for the course. It also has lousy writing, stupid plot twists and cheap cinematography. All these things are only to be expected in this genre.

What you really need in an exploitation movie is, well, some exploitation. Buckets of blood, lashings of sleazy sex, and overall a movie that will horrify good, decent citizens everywhere.

And that's where this movie falls down, sadly. It has lesbians - coy lesbians, who kiss each other quite nicely, but don't show TOO much skin, and never seem to get past kissing. It has distinctly un-scary vampires, a bunch of hillbillies who are just gross and sweaty rather than scary, and the gore is laughably fake, and again, not too excessive.

The thing is, excess is what exploitation movies are all about. There's a lot of potential in this movie's Suspiria-meets-Deliverance plot, but for some reason the film-makers didn't have the courage of their convictions. Maybe there's someone out there who can take the same premise, and do it sexier, nastier - and better.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Completely unwatchable, 18 July 2011

Most bad movies at least have something going for them, something that makes you want to sit through them, even though you know they're rubbish. It's a rare film that is so thoroughly messed up in every department that it's literally unwatchable. That, plus the frankly bizarre premise, gives this thing some novelty value, if nothing else.

The premise is probably the best thing about it. Think Saw crossed with An Inconvenient Truth, with gratuitous nudity and gratuitous sweaty Eric Roberts. With a plot like that, it could have been a camp classic, but unfortunately everyone took it very seriously, for some reason, almost as though they really thought that this movie would carry a serious message about global warming.

Val Kilmer, above all, is VERY, VERY SERIOUS. He mumbles and stumbles his way through an embarrassing performance, but he's still the best member of a dire cast of non-actors and mugging over-actors. The quality of the camera-work suggests that someone just learned how to use the special features on Windows Movie Maker, and the dialogue seems to have been written by someone who has never heard English spoken before.

It's a challenge to sit through this deeply silly, but deeply self-serious movie. Really, you've got much better things to do with your time.

Cop Out (2010)
21 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
Is this a joke?, 1 February 2011

This is supposed to be a comedy, allegedly. I only know that because it's advertised as a comedy, though - you certainly wouldn't know because of any funny moments in the film. It's a buddy cop movie, where Bruce Willis looks as though he's overdosed on Valium and Tracy Morgan makes up for that by doing what I can only describe as a minstrel show routine.

I don't want to get on my high horse about what's supposed to be a light-hearted action cop movie, but then again I didn't want to get angry after a light-hearted action cop movie, either. Angry about Morgan's performance, a gibbering, cavorting, screeching act that wouldn't have been out of place in the days of Stepin Fetchit. Angry about the fact that no one involved seemed to give a toss - in fact they might as well have spent the whole movie just standing there, holding up two middle fingers at the audience.

But I'm angry most of all at Kevin Smith, the director of this piece of utter garbage. He used to be talented. He used to make great movies like Clerks, Dogma, even Mallrats. Yeah, that's right, I'm the guy who liked Mallrats. These days he churns out lazy rubbish and then goes on Twitter and whines at anyone who dares to criticise it. He's thrown his talent away, and he's so wrapped up in the bubble of his own self-importance that he doesn't seem to realise it. By making a film like this, and clearly not caring at all about how it turned out, he's shown his complete contempt for movie-goers, fans and the smoking wreckage of his own career. Well done, Kevin. Well done.

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