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My favourite actors are Elizabeth Hurley, Dave, Isabelle Adjani, Chuck Norris, Vanessa Redgrave, Dave, Jim Caviezel, Cate Blanchett, Julie Strain, Dave, Melinda Clarke, Gillian Anderson and Paul Squires.
Favourite film: Blade Runner
Favourite Music: Rush, Yes and Cradle of Filth.
Favourite book: William Gibson's Neuromancer.
Ambition: To become Sauron's right-hand man.
Fright Night 2 (2013)
Wastes Its Best Asset (contains spoilers)
This is a very strange film. I expected a sequel to Fright Night 2 only to find that it wasn't. Then I assumed it was a sequel to the remake, but as Charley Brewster had no knowledge of vampires or Peter Vincent, it wasn't that, either. OK, as a fun trashy horror film with an absolute knockout lead actress as a seductive vampire, that will score, right? Well, yes and no. Jamie Murray is marvellous and the saving grace of the film, and her performance partially rescues the affair. However, she needed to be featured more and her character been allowed to cut loose more extensively. As it is, the film misfires in the belief that the audience will be rooting for the drippy and charisma-free Charley and his vapid girlfriend (an ex-Coronation Street luminary) - I'll skip over 'Evil' Ed. I'd have been quite happy to see Countess Bathory triumph! As for 'Peter Vincent', Sean Power isn't Roddy McDowell (or David Tennant) and we'll leave it at that. So, more Gerri and less moping Charley and Fright Night 2 could have been an effective B-feature. But it isn't. Oh, well, there's always the next season of Defiance.
The Cloth (2013)
To Quote Robert Palmer: There's No Telling Where the Money Went (possible spoilers)
IMDb cites the budget for this epic at 4,000,000, but that cannot be. It is impossible to discern where such a sum could be on screen. The camera work and cinematography are at the amateur-hour level. Aside from the much-mentioned head cropping, the picture quality constantly shifts - a scene featuring a redneck couple in a pickup truck looks like it was shot on a non-HD digital camcorder - and character reaction shots seldom match up. The special effects are also distinctly unspecial. For instance, the supposedly important demon emerging from Hell is visually incoherent, as are many of the 'fight' scenes and possess rudimentrary CGI. I rented this in anticipation of a B-movie extravaganza of Danny Trejo and Eric Roberts schlock but was robbed! Instead I was subjected to two utter thespian non-entities with Danny and Eric making the odd appearance (and I have no idea what Eric Roberts' character was supposed to represent or be doing - probably exactly what he thought). Furthermore, the film makes no sense and the conclusion is nonsense, all adding to the incredulity regarding the apparent budget. $4,000 I could believe, but $4,000,000? Either the figure cited is a mistake or Danny Trejo and Eric Roberts charge a lot for cameos!
Easily the Best Film about Space Tax Disputes, Ever!
When we think back to the halcyon days of Star Wars, with its timeless narrative, thrilling space battles and heroes, heroines and villains that defined a generation and live on, immortal in the pantheon of popular culture, we realise that for all of their brilliance there was one thing missing: lengthy discussions of tax disputes.
But fear not, in 1999 George Lucas recognised his terrible mistake and rectified it to create an accountant/bureaucrat/lawyer's science fiction dream movie. Now, we have an iconic titles sequence that contains evocative words like 'tax!' and 'trade disputes!' in place of nonsense like evil Empires, Death Stars, and the glorious fight between good and evil. Furthermore, spectacles such as epic space battles and outlandish cantinas are downplayed to make way for marvellous and protracted scenes of space councils and diplomats earnestly debating trading laws! It has its critics, for sure, but I say that Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was and is a visionary work of tax and trade negotiation-based genius.
The Fog (2005)
"Let's replace a scary zombie pirate's hook and sword with a....walking cane!"
I wish I could have been privy to the producers meeting when The Fog remake was first mooted as the finished film plays out like a producer was simply given a basic summary by a friend who had caught Carpenter's original on cable the night before and they just drew the script from that without bothering to see the film for themselves. The 1980 original, while not perfect, has a great sense of atmosphere and really creepy protagonists - most notably Captain Blake, joined by his decomposing undead crew and their nasty hooks. In the remake, we get Superlad pouting manfully and Maggie Grace as the damsel in distress to give the film that all-too-important 'teen appeal' (although it's a shame that Liam Neeson didn't show up to get all CIA on the ghosts - I would have bought that for a dollar!). And, while I like Selma Blair, she is not given a role that equates to Adrienne Barbeau's marvellous and gutsy turn as Stevie Wayne. In a nutshell, then, the film is not scary or remotely effective, and the CGI is no replacement for the visceral effects of the original. But the biggest problem are the ghosts, and I can't begin to imagine the script session that pitched replacing Captain Blake's rotted and leprous visage and wickedly sharp weapons with a transparent, bearded Rade Serbedzija wielding a (wait for it)......silver-topped cane! If they ever go for a remake of The Burning, they should replace Cropsy's deadly garden shears with two Mars bars as his implement of slaughter - so much scarier (think of the calories!). Oh, yes, and there is a bit of hokey reincarnation and human-to-ghost romance, too. Perhaps if Jamie Lee Curtis had hooked up (see what I did there!) with Captain Blake, all of that murderous unpleasantness could have been avoided. In the end, The Fog (2005) just needs to get lost in the mist of time.
The Stepford Wives (2004)
Did the producers actually see the original film or read the novel?
OK, many moons have passed since the release of this film, but it still stands as a depressing indictment of how Hollywood creatively operates. In terms of content, the first half of The Stepford Wives is not too bad, certainly lighter than the original, but it still keeps to the spirit of the piece and Nicole Kidman is always a class act. And then there comes the extraordinary reboot: an irrational plot turn that happens before your very eyes. Indeed, it is as if it had featured a producer actually walking into frame and crying out: "Whoa, back it up, Mr Oz. I've just finally finished watching the original and it's really, really bleak! Quite horrible, in fact, and a total downer. Who knew that? At this budget we want light and frothy! We want Matthew Broderick's amusing hangdog face, a delightful battle-of-the-sexes farce, and Jon Lovitz/Bette Midler screwball antics. We most assuredly don't want MURDER. So, audience, please forget the robots, forget everything you saw until now (except the laughs!) - the ATM machine wife, the burning hand but no pain or ill-effects, the malfunctioning Country-lite singer - just go with the new 'hypnosis chip' angle from now on. Yes, I know that makes absolutely no sense at all and I know that you saw a Nicole Kidman robot, but just imagine that that was a dream. So, enjoy the rest of what is now a very different film, and good evening". And thus the producer exits stage left and we indeed are expected to expunge whole scenes and accept the happy ending. Hollywood can be a most peculiar place.
Exists in a film universe all of its own
It's impossible to rate this film according to IMDb criteria as it operates under unique filmmaking rules. The continuity and editing just do their own thing so the viewer totally accepts the way in which a shot of a shark supposedly swimming about in a roadway suddenly cuts to a close up that shows said shark basking in deep azure Pacific seas. But the use of jarring stock footage is truly an art form in bad movie circles, and more of it, I say! Everyone knows the plot, and you get the impression that the film was constructed in the wake of a night out that involved one of the producers declaring: "Imagine one of those terror storm movies involving sharks! A sharknado, if you will!" The next day a poster was produced, and the film hung on that. So, in the midst of weather systems that come and go, sharks that change size and leap from here, there, and everywhere, an interminable bus rescue, the cast is game, although Tara Reid looks a bit bewildered by what is going on at times, while John Heard pretty much forms a double act with a bar stool. By conventional standards, the film would garner a 4, but this opus writes its own rules, and I thank the Elder Gods Ed Wood and Roger Corman that such chaotic, but marvellous spectacles still get made.
Mega Piranha (2010)
Amusing at first, but then tedious in its awfulness
Everyone loves a bad monster movie, right? There is a great charm in the so-bad-it-is-good film, and for a while Mega Piranha delivers the goods. Alas, but then the unremitting awfulness wears you down due to endless repetition of scenes and CGI that is so bad that it can't be unintended (I hope). Add the unlikely return of a really rubbish villain, and a bizarre finale that suggests that everyone just got bored and pulled the plug, and you just have ultimate tedium (well, for me, at least). Still, it is not everyday that you get to see Tiffany playing a hydro-biologist, and I'm hoping to see Britney Spears as a Navy Seal in 'Mega Shrimp' and Ke$ha as the US President in 'Monster Manatee' vs. Giant Gecko' some time soon.
Blood Feast (1963)
Some Kind of Genius
My rating is a kind of anti-rating. Is this a fine film? No. Is the plot compelling? No. Are the actors top-notch emoters? No, no, and thrice no. Are the gore effects convincing? Absolutely not! Is the film a work of sheer visionary genius? Yes! Sort of, in an alternative film-making universe kind of way. Fuad Ramses is one of the greatest/most bizarre cinematic creations I have had the pleasure of seeing. His logic is fantastic, and if for nothing else, he deserves kudos for outrunning a number of fully-fit police officers, and him with a conspicuous (read sinister) limp! Ramses' enunciation of his lines is brilliant and I am now searching for an opportunity to slide "a feast...last...given...five...thousand...years...ago" into an everyday conversation. Add not very bright police officers, one of whom is clearly Basil Exposition's father, and a series of splendid (and ground-breaking, it must be said) gore set-pieces, and you have genius. So, let us all raise a glass to Mr. Lewis and proclaim Blood Feast as the warped work of art it most surely is.
The Gore Gore Girls (1972)
Not so much a film as an endurance event.
The gore is ridiculous, as is expected in a Lewis opus, the tone is sleazy as hell, and the actor's voices are frequently drowned out by an incessant and utterly mad jazz soundtrack. But boy, does this film stretch the patience, particularly a protracted stripper contest which, although apparently central to the plot, is interminable and which brings back memories of Ed Wood's classic opus, 'Orgy of the Dead' (without the werewolf, and like that fine piece of cinematic history, the fast-forward button is a must). However, the greatest tragedy is that we saw no more of the iconic Abraham Gentry, a cane-wielding US Jason King. What a shame!
The Invention of Lying (2009)
Initially intriguing, but ultimately flat and unconvincing.
The premise of this film is philosophically interesting and the first twenty minutes or so hold a lot of promise, but the film then falters badly and never recovers. Part of the problem, for me, is that Ricky Gervais is not really leading-man material (and not actually a very strong actor nor the possessor of much charisma) and his slow and often flat delivery ultimately becomes rather irritating. Tina Fey is very good but underused, with her role little more than a cameo, and Rob Lowe seems like a hastily tacked on love rival. But the major issue is the central love interest: Jennifer Garner's character, Ann McDoogles, who is utterly shallow and really rather unpleasant to the point that you can't understand what (beyond looks) Gervais' character sees in her. A religious segment is amusing and raises some thoughtful theological points of interest, but it is stretched beyond breaking point and you'll find yourself looking at your watch well before the end of the scene. So overall, points of intrigue at the premise and moments and humour for sure, but an unrewarding cinematic experience in the final analysis.