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10 reviews in total 
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Alien³ (1992)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Ambient horror, 27 August 2011

The two previous films in the Alien paradigm set a very high bar for any sequels that may have followed them. It is true, to a certain extent, that Alien 3 is the weakest of the four films in the canon. It lacks weaponry, it's visually bleak, some of the visual effects are a little dated now (although no more than Aliens - that film was just edited a lot better)....... but it gets around these difficulties by creating a huge, chilling, cathedral-like atmosphere in the remote prison complex. The Alien is as terrifying as ever, with some new neat touches not seen in any of the other films, the cast are superb and suitably horrible, and the way they get around having no weaponry is ingenious and very thrilling to watch. This is the only film in the whole canon where you get to see through the Alien's "eyes", it's worth seeing for that alone. And Sigourney Weaver is superb, just like in the other three films. Her performance and delivery is memorable and admirable. I suspect most of the ill-feeling for this film comes from American viewers, and I can understand that. Most of the cast are British, and the film even feels British - there's something very Victorian and more-tea-anyone about this film which is surprising and rather hard to get used to, when you've seen the others. Considering the total chaos that went on during the making of the film, it's frankly amazing that it's even watchable. A very good film that only suffers from being the black sheep of its family, as it is so different to them all.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
It's not as bad as everyone says, 27 August 2011

I love the Alien series, I enjoyed the Predator films too. This clearly is not part of either franchise, it is its own paradigm with homages to both series. If you view this film as part of the Aliens/Predator canons, and are precious about them, you are probably going to hate this film. It's not terribly well-made - the special effects are occasionally striking, but more often look a little clunky. The scene where they discover the Pyramid is a good example - it's hopelessly out of scale, and it even looks like 1980s bluescreen..... surely no-one In 2004 would have let that stay in the film? The script is wooden, it seems like it was written by a 17 year old retaking his GCSEs, but all credit to the actors, they do the best with it that they can. The characterisations are ersatz and formulaic, that's always a bit irritating, although Lance Henriksen's character has a decent flaw I wasn't expecting. There are huge plot-holes, I know a little about Aztec civilisation but the scriptwriters obviously knew less than I did! If you can suspend these not inconsiderable failings, there is an enjoyable hokumish action-thriller here, that's certainly worth 88 minutes of your time. The pacing is fairly good, the pyramid interior is a fascinating backdrop full of images and patterns from the Alien/Predator franchises, and the creature fight sequences are exciting, if a little confusing sometimes. I confess I was on the side of the Aliens, and cheered each time they notched a kill up! There's little of the claustrophobic horror of "Alien", just enough action combat but not as well choreographed as "Aliens" or "Predator 1", the chilling cathedral-like atmosphere of "Alien 3" is present but muted in this film, and there's very little of the humour and dazzle of "Alien Resurrection" and "Predator 2". But it's far from bad. It's just not great. I can think of far worse films. Watch it and make your mind up!

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Just glorious, 4 December 2010

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. It transcends the Carry On series effortlessly, yet stays true to its roots. Parodying the horror genre that had become so popular in the mid-60s was a pretty brave move, especially as the Carry On series was at its zenith, but the gamble certainly paid off. Sid James and Barbara Windsor are both missing - it could have been suicidal, but their replacements Harry H Corbett and Fenella Fielding are simply stunning, giving tour-de-force comedy performances from a sparkling script that makes even the most dyed-in-the-wool Carry On fanatic forget James &Windsor's absence. The plot is involving and suitably spooky, borrowing themes from a kaleidoscope of suspense and supernatural stories, seeming always to pick the best...... Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes, Edgar Allen Poe, even science fiction. The performances are unilaterally superb - Williams, Butterworth and Dale are effortlessly comedic, and Bernard Bresslaw is a gem as the undead butler.

This isn't just the best Carry On film - it is, of course - it is NOT Camping, it is NOT Cleo, THIS is the best - it's almost certainly the best British comedy of the 1950s and 1960s. So funny, so lovable, so authentic. All I could wish for is that Charles Hawtrey was in it more.... Although he wouldn't have been in it at all if it weren't that the American distributors asked them to put him in. God Bless America!

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
It's not as bad as everyone says it is!, 4 December 2010

I really don't know why this is generally perceived as the worst Carry On. It's really not as bad as all that! Carry On England is surely the worst, closely followed by Cowboy..... Both these are almost unwatchable, but this definitely has its moments. Kenneth Williams and Joan Sims are as good as they can be, given the weird script, there's some good lines in there too. Like "Carry On Screaming", this film parodies a genre popular at the time - in this case, European art-house pornography - but this is nowhere near as effective as Screaming, despite some interesting set-pieces and clever filming. It gets caught between two stools, it's trying to be a parody and a pastiche at the same time, and ends up being at a median point with few of the good qualities of either. The story is frankly bizarre and the film frequently becomes disconnected, dull and messy. Yet, despite its numerous failings, there is a good film in there struggling to get out. There are even moments where it's so well done that it could quite easily have been a clip from a real 70s art-house classic! Sadly, it's never maintained for long, and it is so unlike any other Carry On film that fans of the genre are bound to be disappointed.

7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
This phone wire's too long - I must ring the Post Office and get them to pull it in a bit at their end!, 9 November 2010

I love Hylda Baker, and this is really her show - the other characters orbit her like errant moons around a tiny but immensely powerful sun. Her malaprop-entendre wit is as honed as ever, but during this series she demonstrates a level of energy and athletic prowess that is quite stunning. She was 69 years old when this series started, and in those days old meant 54 years old, arthritis and sclerosis and labyrinth organ disorders had usually reared their ugly heads - yet she moves like someone half her age, and seems to be game for anything! There are problems, of course.... some of the scripts are rehashed from Baker's previous series ("Nearest And Dearest") and are in one or two cases identical to episodes of that show, it's become a politically-incorrect artifact that makes its longevity difficult to determine, the third series started well but degenerated into a farcical mess when Baker broke her leg and the remaining episodes were made without her..... but it's something I love to watch. Hylda Baker is a comedy powerhouse.

"Minder" (1979)
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Superb, 30 September 2010

I was 8 years old when this started, and when I left home aged 18 it was still on. The theme tune followed me through the 80s - Bagpuss came and went, Dangermouse arrived, a raft of American programmes designed to sell toys (which was a brand new idea then) crashed onto UK shores, the Commodore 64 bleeped and caroused in the corner, acid house music chipped and blooped onto the radio..... and Arthur & Terry were still there. I saw a handful of episodes as child & teenager, and always found the on- screen chemistry pulled me in...... but I did feel that it had become a bit of a dinosaur by 1990. I left home and virtually forgot about it, until ITV4 started re-running it again.

The writing was, and is, simply superb. Secondary characters are strongly developed and given good lines, something non-existent nowadays (see Taggart, Waterloo Road, Monarch Of The Glen) and almost every episode hangs together as a complete thing, ends tied up, viewer satisfaction assured. That takes good writing and good acting. Another, unintentional but wonderful, boon for the programme was that due to 75% of each episode being filmed on location outdoors over 15 years, it captured London in a constant state of flux that is clear and visible, something no other show has. It's fascinating to see London in that era, changing from series to series. And there's that chemistry between Cole and Waterman, which really shines through. That was fairly rare in a TV series back then, but is now like hen's teeth.

Its success with 15-24 year olds today is surprising, yet gratifying. It says, perhaps, that things like story, good acting and love of craft do not age, or lose their brightness.

The Fog (1980)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Excellent, 21 September 2010

A great example of the (then nascent) slash horrors which became ubiquitous in the years following this film's release. I have seen it three times now, and have always been impressed by its atmosphere and its virtually unique way of providing the shocks, seemingly knitting them from the film's sometime meandering pace. The acting isn't exactly earth-shattering, but neither is it dreadful. Enough chemistry seems to exist to bear the film along to its fraught, violent climax, which is as tense and chilling as the film's bulk. The film's low budget is not at all obvious - the lighthouse illuminating the distant fog is a simple, cheap and yet beautiful shot, and the film makes the most of its location with similar great shooting throughout. Visually it may have aged, but the story has not. Good film.

61 out of 86 people found the following review useful:
Yeeks!, 28 July 2005

Quite apart from the infamous torture scene, which I found extremely difficult to watch without howling in horror (actually that's a lie, I DID howl) this film is FULL of nervous tension that occasionally boils over - the way it's been done is masterful. The bouncing-ball scene in the darkened building should be utterly prosaic, but it really isn't - the way it's choreographed and shot brings such an air of menace and trepidation you'll be biting your nails off. There's much of a similar vein in 'Marathon Man', and although the storyline is sometimes almost buried through the relentless suffocating tension, it's extremely watchable (with a cushion to hide behind at certain points) and one of the greatest non-Hitchcock thrillers I've ever seen. Don't hesitate!

Carrie (1976)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Chilling, 14 July 2005

I first watched this when I was 17 (I am 32 now) and recently I managed to get hold of a copy and thought "I wonder if it's still any good?" - it really is! It's more of a psychological thriller than a horror film, but that's not to say there aren't any horror moments. The maltreatment of Carrie by almost everyone else in the film is a constantly recurring theme, which, due to superb directing and screenplay, avoids becoming repetitive - the film favours Carrie's view of her world above all other characters, allowing you to become absorbed. This makes a lot of the film quite uncomfortable viewing, but it demonstrates just how brilliant the director is at manipulating our emotions.

I'm not quite sure how much this film may have aged - I am from England and have no idea if the 'senior prom' is as an important event now as it was 26 years ago - and of course hairstyles have changed. It hardly matters, however. It's still a great way to spend 98 minutes - oh, and watch out for the ending!

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Hard to follow, 1 May 2005

The whole thing seemed to be constantly on one median level, with very few shocks. It never really yanks you into the story, and the music is extremely loud and dirge-like, making you feel like you're watching a very tepid documentary made without much thought. An extremely peculiar, rather uninteresting film, a considerable step down from the first film (which wasn't terrific, but was at least exciting!)

I think they should have got Tobe Hooper in again - perhaps he was busy. It's very similar in feel to Halloween 4, which was a complete waste of time - there's a feeling that nobody knew what they were doing during the whole creation process, particularly the music composers, who were obviously filling time until they were discovered by Philip Glass.