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manchester_england2004

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Witchboard (1986)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Truly brilliant!, 12 November 2010
9/10

WITCHBOARD is a 1980s horror movie about a Ouija Board.

The 1980s were a decade where horror was dominated by the slasher genre. I love these movies. They were entertaining and usually tense even if rarely scary. Whether it be Freddy, Jason or Michael, or other works such as THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE, VISITING HOURS, SLAUGHTER HIGH, MADMAN or MANIAC, I am definitely a fan of 1980s slasher horror.

Non-slasher horrors from the 1980s resulted in a mixed set of works. I love movies like THE CHANGELING, SCANNERS, AFTER MIDNIGHT, CREEPSHOW, DEMONS and DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE. But for each one of these there were plenty I consider sub-par. I thought THE ENTITY, SUPERSTITION, PUPPET MASTER, MAUSOLEUM, SKINNED ALIVE, THE BEAST WITHIN, VIDEODROME, American Gothic, CUJO, ZOMBIE NOSH, MIDNIGHT, PUMPKINHEAD, THE UNSEEN amongst many others were dull, uninspiring works.

Before seeing WITCHBOARD, I saw the director's other well-known movie, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS. I can understand the appeal of that movie to fans of 1980s movies. It has all the clichés from the era. But I couldn't get into it at all. I didn't find it effective, scary or particularly entertaining either to be honest. I was very hesitant about seeing WITCHBOARD because of this.

But I was wrong because WITCHBOARD is absolutely nothing like NIGHT OF THE DEMONS. There are no teenagers, no silly masks and make-up effects, cheesy sex scenes or gallons of fake blood to be found here. It may have the 1980s costumes and hairstyles but it is different in every other way to a typical 1980s movie.

The story sees the spirit of a 10-year old boy, David, who died more than 2000 years ago, released via a Ouija board during a party. Linda Brewster uses the board more and more to the point of obsession. The kindly spirit starts to turn nasty and supernatural occurrences begin.

But the story takes many twists and turns. Its strength lays within its solid script and excellent characterisation. This is very much a character-driven affair and the story develops effectively because of it. There was never a dull moment here. The story keeps the viewer guessing as the twists and turns take hold.

The two leading male characters - Jim and Brandon - are well fleshed out. The conflict between them in the first half of the movie and how they re-kindle their former strong friendship in the second half was truly compelling, emotionally touching and very realistic.

Kevin Tenney's direction is first rate and nothing like his work on NIGHT OF THE DEMONS. Superb camera angles, well-timed sound effects and excellent use of high-pitched chords keep the suspense and tension going in WITCHBOARD.

The menacing force is rarely seen but is implied so effectively by the script and the direction. Many of the most horrific and suspenseful scenes actually take place in DAYTIME but this does not do anything to undermine their effectiveness. This is how well-made WITCHBOARD is.

The acting is first rate as well. Todd Allen, Tawney Kitaen and Stephen Nichols truly bring their characters to life. There is no overacting here. These actors are nothing like the bland, annoying youngsters you find in a typical 1980s movie. There are thankfully no moronic guys or hysterical young girls to be found.

And special mention should be given to Kathleen Wilhoite, whose punk spiritual medium character was one of the most interesting eccentric characters to appear in a horror movie.

For those interested, there is one scene of full-frontal female nudity to be found. But it is done in a non-sexual context and in a surprisingly non-gratuitous manner. Again, this is very different from the usual manner nudity features in a typical 1980s movie. I am very fussy in this respect. So if the nudity appeals to me, other guys should be delighted! The only complaint I have is the song over the ending credits. I would rather have had a creepy orchestral score. But this is a minor flaw in an otherwise perfect piece of work.

Overall, WITCHBOARD is a truly excellent underrated horror gem from a bygone era. It ranks up high with the best 1980s movies like THE EVIL DEAD and EVILSPEAK in its effectiveness. The low rating on IMDb really is a mystery. I wholeheartedly recommend any horror fan to view it at least once.

Witchouse (1999) (V)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Poor effort from Full Moon!, 4 November 2010
3/10

WITCHOUSE is a typical witch-seeks-revenge movie from Full Moon Pictures.

In this effort, an descendant of the witch in question invites the descendants of those who killed her to a party, where she intends to kill them off.

As anyone who has seen Full Moon movies knows, they are very much hit-and-miss. They have produced some real low-budget gems such as DEATHBED, BLEED and CASTLE FREAK. But there are also lesser works such as PUPPETMASTER or SKINNED ALIVE in their portfolio.

WITCHOUSE is one of the worst offerings I have seen from them. It is said to be a rip-off of NIGHT OF THE DEMONS. I have seen that movie myself. It is not much better but the comparisons are not far wrong.

Believe it or not, I actually saw the second sequel to WITCHOUSE, WITCHOUSE 3: DEMON FIRE beforehand. The sequel, whilst far from being great, is much better than the plodding waste of time that the original comprises of.

The individual scenes along with the dialogue are actually not that bad. It is the execution, particularly the acting, that is the major problem.

The worst actress of the lot is Ashley McKinney. Elizabeth should have been creepy and sinister. But Miss McKinney's portrayal was lifeless. The séance scene where Elizabeth tells the "guests" about Lilith just seemed to go on and on. She uttered every line in a very monotonous manner, without emotion or energy.

The villainess of the piece - Lilith - as depicted here is one of the most laughable creations I have seen. She is much more menacing in DEMON FIRE, where she has a COMPLETELY different appearance and is played by a different actress.

The protagonists are dull, uninteresting teenagers who are clearly played by actors well into their 20s. Brad and Maria are a sex-craved couple who do nothing but that. Scott was the "nerd" who did not seem the least bit scared of anything. Tony was an absolute moron. Janet was an annoying tomboy. Jack was an unlikely hero. And Jennifer was just plain dull.

The direction is flat and the special effects are lousy. I know this is a mega low-budget movie. But this is no excuse. DEMON FIRE does better on a budget that is stated on this site to be just $26,000. The latter movie includes a strobe lighting effect that is very effective.

The background music should have been ominous but instead just added to the dreary tone of the camera-work.

Oh, and if you're looking for nudity, you're certainly in the wrong place!

Overall, WITCHOUSE is an incredibly dull witch-seeks-revenge movie. I would advise people to skip this one. I don't know what WITCHOUSE 2 is like but WITCHOUSE 3: DEMON FIRE is certainly a better movie than the original. I would recommend the latter movie to fans of Full Moon or straight-to-DVD horror movies. I would advise others to check out a British movie called TERROR, directed by Norman J. Warren. This creepy, atmospheric and suspenseful movie demonstrates how a witch-seeking-revenge movie should be done!

4 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
That's not funny!, 4 November 2010
3/10

MURDER PARTY is a supposed spoof of slasher movies, thrillers where people are held hostage as well as a vehicle for poking fun at art generally.

The plot sees Chris, a somewhat lonely guy who lives alone with a cat, finding an invitation to a murder party. He makes a very ridiculous Sir Lancelot costume from cardboard boxes and goes to the party, which is held at a warehouse. There is no party and Chris finds himself trapped by a group of deranged drug addicts who plan to kill him and film the act.

The first few minutes of the movie were quite good and suitably misleading for what is to follow. There was nothing funny but Chris was an interesting character to start with. He would have been great in a different movie.

By the time he gets to the party, things go downhill quickly. This would have been better if made as a serious horror/thriller since its attempts to be funny come off as downright ridiculous or plain bizarre.

Chris Sharp plays the lead role very well. His reactions were well captured. In a more serious production, I would have been rooting for his character. But with this being a parody, I knew he was never in serious danger of harm.

The remaining actors are all terrible, either underacting or overacting in various degrees.

Most of this movie takes place in a single setting - a warehouse. There is nothing wrong with this - if the story and script play out well. Unfortunately they do not. The deranged drug addicts just talk a lot of endless nonsense about art and film whilst Chris is gagged and tied to a chair. Some scenes carry on like this for 10 minutes or more, making the modest running time drag out somewhat.

The direction is very much along the lines of parodies such as SCARY MOVIE. The gags are telegraphed in advance, the attempts at humour are massively overplayed, there is comic music in the background when Chris tries to escape and there are some incredibly silly special effects.

I am a fan of "so-bad-it's-good" movies such as CAMP BLOOD, THE NAIL GUN MASSACRE, TROLL 2, DON'T GO IN THE WOODS and CHOPPING MALL just to name a few. Comparing these laugh riots to MURDER PARTY proves that humour deriving from a serious subject only works when it is UNINTENTIONAL.

Overall, MURDER PARTY is a seriously unfunny movie that has one interesting thing about it - the main character. It is hard to recommend this to anyone, except for perhaps fans of SCARY MOVIE or other intentional spoofs. For everyone else, I advise keeping to established serious horror or go with "so-bad-it's-good" classics.

Knife Edge (2009)
18 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
Failed attempt to revive British horror!, 4 November 2010
2/10

KNIFE EDGE is a psychological horror thriller produced and set in England.

In its heyday of 1957-1983, Britain produced some of the greatest horror movies ever. It all took off with THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN in 1957 (however the excellent DEAD OF NIGHT from 1945 was the first great production IMO). Hammer, Amicus and Tigon competed against each other in the 1960s and early 1970s. All three have superb productions to their name. After their decline in the second half of the 1970s, two excellent independent directors - Pete Walker and Norman J. Warren - took over the mantle for a few years.

Other classics such as THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES and THEATRE OF BLOOD were made here in Britain by other companies.

The last true British horror movie was HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS, the final and highly underrated masterpiece from Pete Walker in 1983.

British horror in its prime was truly fantastic. Americans and Europeans had no time for any of it back in the day but have since realised just how good it was. Some half-decent attempts such as HAUNTED came along to try re-igniting the old magic.

We now have the travesty known as KNIFE EDGE. Those who claim this is somehow a return to form need to watch some British horror classics again.

The plot here is compelling on paper. A married couple, along with their son, move into a country house. In the following days and weeks they begin having disturbing dreams and becoming paranoid.

It saddens me to see the comparisons made to classic movies here on IMDb.

KNIFE EDGE is nothing like THE CHANGELING.

It is nothing like THE OMEN.

It is nothing like WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?.

It is nothing like THE BIRDS.

And it is certainly nothing like Hitchcock's finest - PSYCHO.

The one thing this movie is unable to escape from is its drama-like feeling, reminiscent of TV shows like MIDSOMER MURDERS, but which are so out of place on the big screen.

The main problem here is the characterisation and the acting.

Emma and Henri do not make a convincing couple at all. There is no chemistry between the actors and the characters themselves seem to have incompatible personalities. One is a somewhat quiet but talented financial trader. The other is a smooth-talking Frenchman up to his eyeballs in debt and who gets irritated very easily. The tensions between the characters should have been great but the emotion just seemed absent.

Henri is played by Matthieu Boujenah, a French actor. The accent was clearly genuine and fit the character well but the emotions did not. After boring me to tears with his ramblings throughout, he then overacted very badly in one scene that made me laugh out loud.

Emma is played by an incredibly bland, charisma-free, dour actress known as Natalie Press. She was just boring to watch, full stop.

The one actor who does deliver a good performance here is Hugh Bonneville. He would have been equally great in the leading role. He has the right level of charisma and energy to pull it off. He was interesting to watch even though those he interacted with were so dull.

I have always thought that Joan Plowright would make an excellent villainess - someone very cold-hearted with malevolent intent. Sadly she is wasted here in a thankless role as a nanny.

The script is fatally flawed, with very boring dialogue. It tries to redeem itself by keeping scenes short and constantly changing setting. The tactic seemed good and would in theory help to keep things moving. But it doesn't.

Anthony Hickox brings very different direction from his father, Douglas Hickox (director of the masterpiece THEATRE OF BLOOD). His direction brings some superb disturbing imagery. But the effect of these was undermined by poor editing. Editing needed to be much sharper, character reactions needed to be much stronger and some better sound effects were needed.

Without giving anything away, I can say that the twists in the second half of the movie try to emulate those seen in movies such as HUSH, HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE. But the revelations are done in a very low-key manner that makes it easy to miss something.

The final 10 minutes of the movie pick up some steam. But by this point it is too late. The finale is worth seeing on its own but not worth enduring the rest for.

Overall, KNIFE EDGE is an incredibly boring movie that tries but fails miserably to re-ignite British horror. With so many better thrillers such as DISTURBIA out there, it is difficult to recommend this to anyone. Instead, I would recommend seeing something from Britain's horror heyday and find out what true British horror is all about.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly good!, 3 November 2010
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

INVASION OF THE POD PEOPLE (aka INVASION: THE BEGINNING) is a straight-to-DVD horror movie produced by The Asylum - a low budget producer who produce such movies regularly.

The Asylum productions are generally hit and miss. Some like THE BEAST OF BRAY ROAD are great gems. But there are movies like HILLSIDE CANNIBALS that are really, really awful. It is best that you keep an open mind when viewing any of their works.

The plot is essentially a clone of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS but with the setting transposed to a modeling agency. For those unaware, the story sees people being replaced by exact duplicates but who behave differently from their original selves. In this incarnation, each character concerned receive a mysterious plant. Several days later, the said character is seen to be behaving strangely with her colleagues.

Because the plot of the movie is a clone of a more famous production, people will knock it and on this site they have done. If you find the idea of a clone of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS too unappealing, read no further. If however you are curious, keep reading and I will try persuading you of how it attempts to differentiate itself.

With the budget of this movie being very low, The Asylum have been wise to limit special effects. There are no transformation scenes, no silly monsters, no CGI, no rubber masks or prosthetics and no excessive amounts of fake blood here.

The direction throughout is very restrained, with no camera tricks or usage of angles to generate tension. Background music is also very limited. But these factors do not hold it back as I shall demonstrate.

The movie starts off slow but progresses very well. It relies upon the sinister nature of the "altered" characters to drive the story. This works like a charm. Well-written, simple dialogue combined with great timing of delivery by the cast build up suspense and maintain interest in the key scenes.

There is also a very sensual nature to the "altered" beings that holds interest. Without giving away too much, I can reveal that there are sex scenes here and some nudity. Having said this, the nudity is limited and does not come across as tawdry. The sex scenes are intended to be erotic. There are no "silicon babes" here. I am biased in favour of the natural female form so the nudity is appealing to me (and I am very fussy).

The twists in the story are predictable but this does not make them any less interesting to watch.

The script does not demand Oscar-worthy actresses but the actresses in this movie give surprisingly good performances. In a surprise but highly welcome move from The Asylum, overacting is kept to a minimum. Erica Roby is incredibly lovely and gives a particularly good performance in the lead role. And Jessica Bork plays her sensual role to perfection. I would definitely like to see other movies with these actresses in.

And it pleases me to confirm that there are no - repeat no - annoying moronic teenage guys or hysterical teenage girls here. This is strictly an adult-oriented affair and would most likely not appeal to teenagers at all.

There are a few unintentionally funny moments to appeal to fans of the "so-bad-it's-good" movies. As a fan of such movies myself, I did not view this movie as a whole from that perspective because it wasn't silly enough to appeal to me on that level.

The short running time ensures that the movie doesn't outstay its welcome. It surprisingly didn't drag at all for me.

The only major problem with this movie is the ending. It was too abrupt. I would like to have seen this story taken further.

Overall, this is a great movie. It is a clone of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS but has enough qualities to differentiate itself. I recommend it to fans of straight-to-DVD horror movies or fans of other movies from The Asylum. Others would most likely be disappointed.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Pete Walker's final outing is the last true British horror masterpiece!, 6 March 2010
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

By 1982, the British horror movie was all but dead. The British horror heyday of the 1960s and 1970s had passed. Hammer, Amicus and Tigon had all ceased production. Norman J. Warren also bowed out after INSEMINOID in 1981.

HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS is the last true British horror movie to have been made. Ironically, this is the first horror movie I ever saw and as such I always feel nostalgic about my childhood whenever I see it. It was for me a great introduction to British horror and will probably always be my personal favourite.

The director, Pete Walker, is famous for directing a series of exploitation horror movies in the 1970s. His works include FRIGHTMARE, THE HOUSE OF MORTAL SIN, SCHIZO and THE COMEBACK. All of these are great and I recommend them to any fan of British horror.

However, HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS – Pete Walker's final movie – is his best by far. With a larger budget and more creative freedom, he unleashed his talents to the full. The result is a beautiful swansong for the director and also for three great horror legends – Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing – all superb actors and my favourite horror actors of all time. They all bow out with grace.

The plot is a twist on the famous novel Seven Keys to Baldpate. Author Kenneth Magee makes a bet with his publisher that he can write a classic romantic novel within 24 hours. Once the bet is made, Magee travels to an old manor house in Wales. He soon finds he's not alone as a number of sinister guests arrive one by one. What's happening? Watch the movie! All I will add is that the execution of the plot is ingenious.

Walker makes a highly intelligent choice of allowing the actors to drive the movie. This is particularly important in the first half of the movie, which is almost entirely devoted to introducing each character one-by-one. The great actors held my attention every second.

The second half of the movie is where the story starts to take off fully. As with other Walker movies, the setting – the manor house – is supremely creepy with an air of malevolence emanating through the dark passages and from behind locked doors. A raging storm outside the house completes the perfect atmosphere associated with manor house movies and Gothic horror in general. Some excellent lighting effects contrast perfectly with the tone in many scenes. And yes, there are shadows in case you were wondering! And very well used they are in an important scene as well.

Without revealing spoilers, I can say something about the three horror legends. Price is at his most flamboyant, Cushing is at his most sympathetic and Lee is at his most sinister. All three excel in these roles and give the grand performances we expect of them.

The late great Sheila Keith is brought back to work for Walker one last time. Walker evidently knew that Keith's performance as Mrs B in THE COMEBACK could never be surpassed. It was really that great. Mrs B was a truly terrifying creation! It is fitting therefore that he gave her a more melodramatic role to play. And this is what she does – to perfection. However, there are a few creepy stares to remind us all that she's usually the villain.

The late great John Carradine is also a delight to watch here. For too long, his potential was wasted by producers. His role as R. Chetwynd Hayes in THE MONSTER CLUB was one exception. But he really comes into his own as Lord Grisbane in HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS, the only movie that truly allowed him to shine. It is evident here that he was an excellent orator. The scene where he first appears still makes me jump!

I have read one negative remark after another about Desi Arnaz Jr on this and other websites. None of these reviewers seem to have analysed his performance within the context of the movie. As the main character, Kenneth Magee, his choice of acting persona seen here is deliberate. The author is highly cynical and naive. Because he's a young American, he has little respect or tolerance for old fashioned societal values. Arnaz emanates these traits perfectly. The script supports him all the way, with various off-the-cuff remarks as Magee reacts to the extraordinary events happening around him along with incredibly cynical remarks when the subject of "love at first sight" is raised. All of this works perfectly.

Julie Peasgood also attracts criticism from other quarters. Her performance as the terrified young woman seemed perfect to me. The solid script and direction supported her all the way. It's a great pity that since the movie came out, she's been stuck in a number of unglamorous roles, mainly soap operas.

The late Richard Todd has a small but important role as the publisher Magee makes a bet with. His character is used to remind everyone that Britain's society is changing. The old Victorian values are being challenged in a new world of cynical youngsters. Todd's character represents the traditional "stiff upper lip" establishment figure. As always his performance his great.

Louise English takes a break from THE BENNY HILL SHOW in favour of a more serious role. Her acting was surprisingly very good. She held my attention in every scene she was in.

Norman Rossington has an excellent cameo as a railway station master. His character is reminiscent of a scared local from a Hammer movie, only better! The character had a very sinister demeanour that was just truly delightful to watch. Well done, Mr. Rossington!

Overall, HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS is a horror masterpiece – a beautiful, delightful picture that marks the end of an era. I wholeheartedly recommend it to any fan of true British horror.

7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Completely lifeless!, 4 March 2010
1/10

HAUNTED FROM WITHIN is an incredibly poor "straight-to-DVD" movie about the urban legend of La Llorona. As I shall demonstrate, the producers of this travesty are merely using this interesting urban legend to con viewers into buying the DVD.

First, I'll say that the other reviewer should not be taken seriously. If he seriously thinks this movie is better than ROSEMARY'S BABY then his experience of horror movies must be even more limited than his use of vocabulary. Even the most ardent critics of ROSEMARY'S BABY can identify at least one positive element. The same cannot be said about HAUNTED FROM WITHIN.

Aside from the fact that a woman commits suicide after drowning her children and then comes back as a ghost, the movie bears no relation to the legend of La Llorona. The movie plays out as a series of loosely connected scenes with many revolving around an investigator with psychic abilities.

I can say without hesitation that this is one of the most dysfunctional movies I have ever seen. There is no direction for the story at all, absolutely no narrative whatsoever. This is far worse than anything churned out by Ulli Lommel or Uwe Boll. The former of these directors is notorious for producing movies with long drawn-out murder scenes that are repeated over and over again in an almost identical fashion to the first. But even he can manage to come up with something resembling a beginning and something resembling an end even when the middle is dysfunctional.

The direction is as poor as can be with a complete lack of suspense, scares or tension. Even the drama elements are hopelessly handled and represent something more boring than even the worst soap opera you may have had the misfortune of enduring. And no, there are no laughs to be found here. Even the MST3K guys couldn't make this funny!

The acting across the board is absolutely abysmal with no one actor involved managing to show even the slightest potential of a successful acting career.

Many of the individual scenes are incredibly long, with long pauses between dialogue exchanges. I'm not exaggerating!

HAUNTED FROM WITHIN is not even one of the "so-bad-it's-good" movies like CAMP BLOOD or THE NAIL GUN MASSACRE. If you want to laugh hysterically, watch those movies. If you want to see a proper horror movie about ghosts watch THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, THE CHANGELING, RINGU, THE EYE (original Korean version), THE GRUDGE, ONE MISSED CALL or PHONE. All of these movies are a million times better than the travesty known as HAUNTED FROM WITHIN.

I advise anyone who has had the good fortune of avoiding seeing HAUNTED FROM WITHIN to keep up the good work! Just forget this movie exists. Don't spare a thought for it!

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A staggeringly poor attempt at a ghost story!, 4 March 2010
2/10

JESSICA: A GHOST STORY is as the name implies a ghost story. The theme is meant to be horror but comes across closer to comedy!

A woman comes who was brutally murdered comes back from the dead. This constitutes what this movie attempts to pass off as a plot. There is really nothing more to it. The movie comprises of a series of loosely connected scenes involving a guy who had an affair with this woman prior to her death.

Immediately from the opening scenes, this movie has the appearance of a "straight-to-DVD" effort. Unlike gems such as VACANCY 2, the movie has no sense of direction or creativity and certainly gives "straight-to-DVD" movies a bad name! The direction is as poor as can be with a complete lack of suspense, scares or tension. Even the drama elements are hopelessly handled and represent something more boring than even the worst soap opera you may have had the misfortune of enduring.

The acting across the board is absolutely abysmal with no one actor involved managing to show even the slightest potential of a successful acting career.

Many of the individual scenes are incredibly long, with very long pauses between dialogue exchanges. I'm not exaggerating!

The only reason I give this movie a rating of 2 rather than 1 is because some of the poor acting combined with even worse dialogue made for a few unintentional laughs. I stress the word "few" in that sentence. This is not overall one of the "so-bad-it's-good" movies like CAMP BLOOD or THE NAIL GUN MASSACRE. If you want to laugh hysterically, watch those movies. If you want to see a proper horror movie about ghosts watch THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, THE CHANGELING, RINGU, THE EYE (original Korean version), THE GRUDGE, ONE MISSED CALL or PHONE.

I advise anyone who has had the good fortune of avoiding seeing JESSICA: A GHOST STORY to keep up the good work! Just forget this movie exists. Don't spare a thought for it!

2 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
A dreary, sickening and ultimately depressing movie!, 4 March 2010
1/10

UP THE JUNCTION is a "kitchen-sink" drama made in the UK in the 1960s. It is an adaptation of a novel of the same name by Nell Dunn. I have never read the novel so I am in no position to say whether it is an interesting read. I find it hard to believe that it could be more depressing than this travesty of a movie adaptation however,

The setting is London. A well-off young woman moves from Chelsea to Battersea. There seems to be nothing further to the plot of this movie - no indication of what could have possessed this seemingly bright woman to move out of swinging Chelsea. What is played out on the screen are a series of scenes highlighting the despair and depression of run-down Battersea.

The opening scenes with the depressing score by Manfred Mann (famous for such great upbeat hits as My Name is Jack) already indicate that Battersea is a run-down hell-hole who no one would want to find themselves in. Peter Collinson seems content with dragging this dreary theme down the viewer's throat through the whole of the movie. Characters are thoroughly nasty, mean-spirited, foul-mouthed and in some cases violent. A variety of social themes are raised here, including abortion. Unfortunately they are addressed in a way that fails to interest the viewer and instead just drags the mood of even the cheeriest of folk right down to a point where the depression simply becomes unbearable. Trust me, if you are fortunate enough to have never endured this awful movie you would be well advised to steer well clear.

Suzy Kendall has the misfortune of playing the main character - Polly. This was an early role in her career. But even still, I can think of no reason why such a talented actress had to stoop to something this low. After seeing this movie, I was very hesitant about picking up anything else with her name attached. Fortunately Ms Kendall's career picked up in the 1970s and she starred in some great movies, including THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS, CRAZE and one of my favourite giallos - TORSO. Trust me, she can act and she has starred in movies that are a million times better than the depressing tripe known as UP THE JUNCTION.

Dennis Waterman in his pre-Minder days is also an unfortunate actor. He was great in the TV series, MINDER. But in UP THE JUNCTION, he is stuck with a hopelessly dull role that he carries off without the slightest hint of charisma. I have to say that I don't blame Mr. Waterman for his lack of enthusiasm.

To make matters worse, an excellent supporting cast in the form of Adrienne Posta, Maureen Lipman, Michael Gothard, Liz Fraser, Alfie Bass and Michael Robbins are all wasted. The latter three names I have just mentioned are famous for comedy and could have brought some much-needed light relief to this bore-fest. But unfortunately the absent-minded scriptwriter decided otherwise.

The only actor who manages to hold attention here is Aubrey Morris - an actor famous for playing eccentric professor or doctor roles in TV shows and movies during the 1960s and 1970s. Mr. Morris feels at home here as an eccentric estate agent, but only because his character has very limited screen time and also plays no part in the unpleasantness that almost the entire remainder comprises.

Perhaps UP THE JUNCTION could have worked as a social message about poverty, hopelessness and social decay if it had been done in a satirical manner. Instead the result was perhaps the most depressing movie I have ever had the misfortune to endure.

Ironically, the director of this atrocity - Peter Collinson - directed AND THEN THERE WERE NONE - a truly entertaining and suspenseful adaptation of the novel of the same name by Agatha Christie. Mr. Collinson can direct and really came into his own with AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. I actually prefer his adaptation over the more famous 1945 one. I would instead advise readers of this comment to see that movie instead. It is executed almost entirely without humour but is highly entertaining, suspenseful and ultimately compelling. The DVD has finally been released in 2010 after years of dithering by Optimum Releasing. The transfer is great and the aforementioned DVD distributor can once again be congratulated.

Overall, I wholeheartedly advise everyone to steer well clear of UP THE JUNCTION. It will depress you to unbearable levels. I mean that literally. You have been warned!

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Painful to watch!, 23 February 2010
1/10

BELL WITCH HAUNTING (aka THE HAUNT) is an American horror movie supposedly based on real events that took place during the period 1817 to 1821.

This is not to be confused with BELL WITCH: THE MOVIE, a movie starring Betsy Palmer based on the same events. However, I can say that I wish I had seen this other movie instead of the one I saw! I enjoyed Betsy Palmer's chilling performance in Friday THE 13TH. As such, I believe that even on a bad day, she'd pull off a better performance than anyone involved in the travesty known as THE HAUNT.

With regard to my heading, this movie is not painful to watch because the content is disturbing. It is painful to watch because it is just downright boring.

Reading the positive reviews for this movie, I could only identify three possibilities. The first possibility - these authors were involved in the production in some way. The second possibility - the authors whilst not directly involved were paid to write positive reviews after production was completed. The final possibility - none of these authors has seen a sufficient number of horror movies and therefore is inexperienced with the concepts that successful attempts utilise.

The setting for the plot is Robertson County, Tennessee. James Johnston receives a visit from two journalists eager to hear the story of the Bell Witch. The story is told as a series of flashbacks. A series of supernatural events begin happening at the home of John Bell and his family. It soon transpires that a vengeful spirit is behind it all.

On the surface the plot appears to be a standard poltergeist affair, albeit one based on real events.

Where execution of the brilliant concept is concerned however, just about everything that could go wrong does go wrong. And then some!

First, the acting. The acting is almost uniformly terrible right across the board. This factor does the most damage to the production, undermining any possible credibility of belief or interest on the part of the viewer. The voice of the vengeful spirit sounds more like a teenage girl experiencing teenage angst rather than a powerful demonic force expressing malevolent intent. I almost laughed when I heard some of her lines. Unfortunately, this voice began to become very annoying very quickly! I may not have been alive in the 1800s, but I find it incredibly hard to believe that any young woman alive at that time would speak in the way that this "ghost" does!

Second, the direction. The direction is haphazard and very uneven. Some scenes show promise but potential is squandered by the clearly inexperienced director. Nothing is done with the camera, with sound or with lighting to add intensity to the scenes intended to be scary. The atmosphere is equally flat. A vengeful spirit is supposedly behind supernatural occurrences. Yet the effects are so incredibly inept that no one who has seen a proper horror movie would buy into them. I'll give one example. In one scene, the spirit attacks someone. See the scene for yourself. It's almost funny - almost.

Third, the script. Whilst it may be the case that the events shown are faithful to accounts of real occurrences, it cannot be denied that most scenes are incredibly flat and boring. Scenes as short as two minutes feel much longer thanks to the poor dialogue - dialogue that fails to add depth to the characters or story. This movie is far too reliant on conversations to advance the story. Whilst this style was also the case with British movies from the British horror heyday of the 1960s and 1970s, it cannot be denied that the dialogue exchanges were always interesting to watch in these more professional earlier works. Peter Cushing for example could read a telephone directory and still hold attention of the viewers. The same cannot be said of the actors in THE HAUNT.

Finally, the humour. The ill-guided attempts at humour in this movie are excruciating. An obese boy is the butt of many jokes. One particularly awful scene sees the said boy going to the outside toilet. This scene should never have been included - but it is and complete with sound effects in case you fail to understand what he is doing!

The only positive points about the movie are the location and the costumes. The decision to shoot the picture near the original location helped add some authenticity. The costumes were also well chosen.

Overall, THE HAUNT is an appalling movie. It is not even in the "so bad it's good" league. It is instead just boring. I advise everyone to save their money and avoid this movie like the plague. Don't even bother seeing it for free!

I have never seen the other movie about the Bell Witch. But it really couldn't be any worse than THE HAUNT. Could it? I'll give this other movie a chance if I can track it down.

In the meantime, I would advise everyone on here to check out some proper horror movies about ghosts and haunting. THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, THE CHANGELING, RINGU, THE GRUDGE (Japanese original) and ONE MISSED CALL (Japanese original) are good places to start.


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