Reviews written by registered user
noahbbrown

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12 reviews in total 
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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
An overwhelming experience, 6 September 2009
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Noe's first feature film is one of the most powerful and affecting films you will ever subject yourself to. It provokes thought, shocks and disturbs, asks questions but gives no easy answers. It's undeniably hard to watch - viewing the English subtitled version adds to the unrelenting effect, as the majority of the film's speech is the internal monologue of Phillipe Nahon's 'Butcher' character. The English-speaking viewer is keeping one eye on the visuals and one eye on Nahon's never-ending torrent of misanthropy, constantly spooling across the screen.

Noe makes points about the nature of honour and morality, the French national character, racism and xenophobia, and the loneliness of the down-and-out. Also, at points the dialogue touches upon how human actions cannot be reversed - which Noe explicitly deals with in his next film 'Irreversible'.

This is very, very far removed from exploitation fare like 'I Spit On Your Grave' - the film is handled with a very serious tone, there's no light relief through inept performances or corny dialogue. He's a witty and audacious director though, and perhaps does make some concession to showmen of yesteryear like William Castle by inserting a caption proclaiming 'YOU HAVE THIRTY SECONDS TO LEAVE THE THEATRE' before the final scene.

No light relief, no sympathetic characters, and not since 'La Haine' has Paris ever looked so grim and imposing. Highly recommended - this will stay with you for life, like it or not. A filmic equivalent of the Swans' first few albums. You'll feel proud for having come out the other end unscathed.

Scalps (1987)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Disappointing late spaghetti entry by Mattei, 11 August 2009
5/10

I'm a big fan of the late Bruno, and had been looking forward to seeing this film for ages. I was hoping for a crazy, no-holds-barred sleaze and violence-filled Western along the lines of the 'Edge' novels put out by New English Library in the 70s and 80s, of which I'm also a big fan.

I think the problem here is I was expecting too much. I may have seen a cut version, I'm not sure, but the violence wasn't anywhere as strong as some of Mattei's other films - a couple of scalpings, a quick bloodless decapitation and the torture scene with the hooks. The version I saw ran at 96 minutes. Having heard how violent this movie was, I was a tad disappointed.

But I wouldn't like you to think I'm just some uncouth gorehound, so what of the rest of the movie? Well, it's a very thinly plotted revenge movie, performances are very hammy and the dubbing, as always, doesn't really help matters. There's a few bits of dialogue that will make you chuckle, but nowhere near as much as 'Rats: Night Of Terror' or 'Hell Of The Living Dead'. I was bored in places - the movie falls between two stools, not really funny enough for true camp value but not striking or brutal enough to shock. The whole feel of the film, apart from a few gory moments and a bit of rough dialogue, seems like something from the 50s or 60s rather than 1987. The score is more akin to a 50s American Western rather than anything Morricone-inspired - indeed, the whole thing doesn't feel that 'spaghetti' to me.

Not bad, worth seeing, but I was disappointed. In its favour, there's a couple of decent twists right at the end and Mapi Galan's a pretty girl. I think I should seek out 'Cut Throats Nine' for something a bit harder-edged, perhaps.

Aswang (1994)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Effective little-known shocker, 8 August 2009
6/10

I had never heard of this film, I must confess. The 90s were a horrible dry time for horror, but this isn't bad at all. It's pure schlock, frustrating at times and plot exposition isn't handled as well as it could be, but it's worth a watch if you like obscure horror.

The film plays like a cross between The Evil Dead (with the backwoods, claustrophobic feel and some 'running fast with the camera' bits) and the superior recent French movie Inside (the central concept, albeit given a supernatural angle). It's quite professionally done (although due to a lot of the nonsense I subject myself to, my standards are low!), the effects are good enough and the performances capable. Some of the concepts are a little distasteful, and in the gloomy netherworld of tame mid-90s horror, were probably quite nasty. I wasn't aware of Aswangs before watching this movie, very creepy mythical beasts. It's a shame this film didn't do better, as there's quite a bit of mileage in these nasty bloodsucking creatures, I reckon

( I really, really recognise the guy who plays the central male role, but this is the only movie he's done apparently...strange. He looks just like somebody else. Who could I be thinking of?)

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Superior revenge flick, 9 July 2009
8/10

Gritty, pulpy but professionally handled 70s revenge exploitation that could have easily been a Western. It has a familiar selection of characters, plot themes and set-pieces that could easily have been set 100 years previously, substituting horses for cars.

The performances are more than adequate for this sort of thing, the redneck hicks coming across as bug-eyed, one-dimensional and evil, whereas the more sympathetic characters are given more sensitive treatment. It does have a real comic book feel interspersed with some very nasty action, which may sit awkwardly with those unfamiliar with grindhouse cinema from this era. If you're used to films like 'Fight For Your Life' or 'Gator Bait', you will probably love this.

The pacing is pretty good. It threatens to drag a little towards the end but redeems itself with some strong dialogue between Johnny and the sheriff character. One of the unexpected things about this film is the dialogue - it's hardboiled stuff but cleverly done. The cinematography and score are also effective, again with some clever touches that elevate this movie above many of its ilk. Recommended.

7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A real surprise from Fulci, 22 June 2009
7/10

I'm a fan of Fulci's work but until now had only ever seen the splatter movies from his mid- to-late career. On the basis of this, I will dig deeper and check out more of his earlier films.

This is a very strange Western, beautifully shot with a bizarre psychedelic score. Performances are good, theatrical and a little overblown (the dubbing never helps), but they fit well within this unusual morality play.

The film is loaded with symbolism, concerned with themes of birth, death and redemption. Fulci was an artful director when he wanted to be, but never concerned himself with linear plots. The story here is easier to follow, but takes an interesting turn towards the end when Stubby and Bunny find the town populated by men. Pacing up to this point was sharp, but here things did drag a little.

There are some well-handled action sequences, a little hard-boiled violence (but leagues away from the incredible sadism of something like 'New York Ripper') and some humorous touches, mainly provided by the character of Clem, the town drunk. The whole thing has an acid-fried feel that's a bit redolent of Jodorowsky.

Worthy of repeated viewings and further study. The conventions of the Western have provided a great canvas for many auteurs - Fulci makes the most of stock characters and visual cues, imbuing them with all the sub-text he wanted to get across.

I'll definitely check out 'Massacre Time' after this. Anyone who's been bored or insulted by the director's later stuff like 'Voices From Beyond' should watch this and see the full breadth of the grumpy old feller's ability.

X-Ray (1981)
9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Kafkaesque grindhouse absurdity, 5 April 2009
7/10

Forgive the pretentious summary, but i thought this film was effective precisely for all the elements other reviewers seemed to criticise. It IS fairly well shot (the dark bits are hard work) and the editing's sharp. With a big bombastic orchestral score and lots of OTT moments, this is a cheesy film with plenty of daft false scares and the like, but it's quite nightmarish too. The clichéd parts are tensely handled. Maybe I'm desensitized to bad cinema at the moment, having consumed plenty of terrible 80s slashers recently, but I thought this was pretty good. Little touches like the horrible old women sharing Barbi Benton's hospital ward, cackling like the witches from Macbeth, added to the absurd bad-dream quality. The murder scenes are well handled, violent and rough but not that splattery.

This film has a similar feel to something like 'Don't Answer The Phone!' or 'The Centerfold Girls', serious in intent and not really 'camp' in any way. It's obviously 'bad cinema', but artfully done.

7 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Thought they didn't make 'em like this anymore...!, 7 December 2008
9/10

Bruno Mattei's death really was a sad loss for lovers of exploitation. In the last few years of his life he churned out loads of shockers, including 'Snuff Trap' (which I really enjoyed) and that one that's a cross between Predator and Cannibal Holocaust...aye, 'Land Of Death', that's the one...

This one here, though, is an absolute cracker and easily as 'good' as his 80s classic, 'Hell Of The Living Dead'/'Zombie Creeping Flesh'. It takes half an hour or so before it kicks off, but when it does, you will be incredulous that a film like this could still be made in 2007. Dialogue and dubbing are reliably hilarious, there's shedloads of gore and some very nasty and distasteful set-pieces. Plot is vague and gets mighty confused at the end, but you'd expect nothing less really. Cinematography looks nice and whilst I'm pretty sure this is SOV, it looks a lot better than 'Land Of Death' (which looked really CHEAP, but not in a good way).

This movie gives you hope that this sort of thing can still be done - rip-roaring, action- packed brainless un-PC horror with not a shred of irony or post-modernism to be seen. All this needs is a score by Goblin or Fabio Frizzi and it would be pretty much perfect. Some brave director needs to pry the baton from Bruno's cold dead fingers and continue what he started...Highly Recommended!

78 out of 109 people found the following review useful:
Decent - don't believe the reviews, 9 September 2007
7/10

I've just seen this at the cinema, and I can't believe it's had such bad reviews. I can only think critics are offended by the subject matter, as this is a pacey, well-acted, stylishly shot exploitation movie. Yes, the central characters are unpleasant, but when did that have anything to do with the quality of the film itself? That's like saying Guernica is a bad painting as it portrays a bombing, and bombings are NOT NICE...

Seriously though, if you like hard-boiled, brutal, gripping "TOUGH GUY" cinema, you will enjoy this. The 80s/90s period detail is captured very well, with haircuts, fashions and soundtrack, and the violence doesn't let up. I was half expecting some sub-Guy Ritchie cringe-worthy thing, but it's not like that at all. The plot focus does shift from Leach to his cohorts in the film's latter half, which some viewers seem to have a problem with, but not I. ROTF barrels along and seems shorter than its near-two hour running time. Plenty of brutality, nudity, swearing and drug abuse. Sweet!

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Silly, silly film but worth a watch, 28 May 2007

It's funny to see George Eastman playing a 'hunk' here, a few years before he put on a few more pounds and became notorious for playing the likes of The Anthropophagous Beast and 'Big Ape' from 2019:After The Fall Of New York. This is a bit slow and it doesn't contain any truly disturbing scenes like Emmanuelle In America, but it is worth seeing. The premise is good and the ending is quite Poe-like, almost - quite a tragic tale. Performances are pretty lame, despite what someone else has said here, Eastman isn't very good really. Some funny sleaze set-pieces and the bit at the end with the racing cars has a big 'WTF?' factor, as they say on the internet... Excellent, ridiculous Italo-psych score and the club scene is hilarious too. Not one of Joe's best, but god damn he wasn't lazy with the work-rate was he?

8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Horrible, self-indulgent middle-class guff, 14 April 2007
2/10

There is no way on earth you are going to care about any of these characters. A bunch of spoilt middle class overgrown kids take some drugs at a party and get off with each other and argue. I've just seen this on TV and I didn't think it was a 'film' as such, more a post-'This Life' indulgence that really has no resonance or proper drama to it. Stuff like this will get commissioned for time immemorial unfortunately, irrelevant middle class "lifestyle" crap that takes itself far too seriously. It's got David Baddiel in it and that bird out of "Cold Feet", you know what to expect. There was a lot of this stuff about in 2000, it was a particularly British malaise..."they're educated and doing drugs? friends, but kinda dysfunctional and with incestuous relationships? sounds great!". This kind of nonsense, and post-Guy Ritchie comedy- gangster stuff...dark days. If you have taste, this will annoy you to the point of violence.


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