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7/10
Give me... my bloody... son back.
26 May 2019
Like a forerunner of Taken crossed with a '60s espionage movie (Harry Palmer with a dash of Bond), The Black Windmill stars Michael Caine as Major John Tarrant, an MI6 agent whose son is kidnapped and held for ransom. When his superiors refuse to part with the asking price - half a million in uncut diamonds - Tarrant goes rogue, stealing the stones to make the payoff.

Even though the plot for this thriller isn't quite water-tight, the assured direction from Don Siegel (Dirty Harry) and strong performances from a great cast (which includes Donald Pleasence, John Vernon, Clive Revill and Joss Ackland) ensure that the film is an entertaining ride, with some well staged action sequences and plenty of intrigue.

Fans of star Caine will not be disappointed - he puts in a fine performance as the calm, collected spy pushed to take matters into his own hands - whilst Vernon makes for a suitably cruel foe. Both actors meet for a mid-movie engagement in which Tarrant test-runs a very Bond-esque briefcase armed with a rocket, and again for a satisfying shootout in the titular structure.

While not a 'classic' like Dirty Harry, largely thanks to the awkward questions that arise from the twisty plot and uneven pacing, there is still plenty to enjoy here for fans of the genre.

6.5/10, rounded up to 7 for IMDb.
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3/10
Oh McG, why do you do this?
25 May 2019
The Babysitter restored my faith in McG after the dismal Terminator Salvation; his latest effort, Rim Of The World, undoes all the good work. A horribly cliched mess of a movie, this teen oriented action adventure sci-fi comedy from Netflix is predictable garbage that completely fumbles it's attempt to cash in on the spunky group of kids '80s-style revival kickstarted by Stranger Things and IT (it's so uninspired that it even has its young protagonists riding mountain bikes).

The film begins with timid teen Alex travelling to summer camp where he meets stock characters Dariush (Benjamin Flores Jr., ticking the black comedy relief box), Zhen Zhen (Miya Cech, ticking the box for Asian audiences) and Gabriel (Alessio Scalzotto, the cool misunderstood one). After aliens launch an attack on Earth, the foursome find themselves on a dangerous mission to save the planet, pursued by an indestructible creature.

The lazy script offers very little in the way of surprises, with obvious stereotyped characters, blatant telegraphing, a glut of deus ex Machina, daddy issues for all four youngsters, crude humour and tiresome pop culture gags and references, none of which are clever or funny. McG's direction is slick and assured, but never imaginative or innovative, with blatant cribs from film such as Independence Day, The Terminator and Jurassic Park. Also serving to annoy: some of the most in-your-face product placement imaginable (Adidas).

It's all a massive disappointment after such a promising trailer. Still, with the way McG's career seems to be yo-yoing, maybe his next film will be a winner.

3.5/10, NOT rounded up to 4 for IMDb for that brief glimpse of James Corden.
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2/10
Eeek! Avoids the lowest possible rating by a whisker.
25 May 2019
Bruno Mattei is quite capable of making a crappy film without the help of Claudio Fragrasso (the man responsible for Troll 2); when joining forces, the pair's ability to bore and confound is boundless. Written by Fragrasso and directed by Mattei, Rats: Night of terror is a grade-A stinker from start to finish, with no discernible sign of talent from anyone involved. While such ineptitude can often result in a fun film thanks to unintentional laughs, this one is plain bad and incredibly dull, with very few chuckle worthy moments (the funniest scene comes right at the very end, meaning that you have to suffer through the whole film to get to it).

Rats NoT opens by informing us that, in 2015, an atomic war forced many people to seek refuge underground, where they developed an advanced community, and those who remained on the surface lived as primitives. In 225 A.B. (after the bomb), a gang of surface dwellers ride into a deserted city looking for supplies and shelter. Discovering crates of food, the gang think that their luck is in, but that isn't all they find: the place is home to thousands of intelligent mutated flesh-eating rats!

As in a lot of low budget Italian exploitation, we get gratuitous nudity and some unconvincing gore, but the film's enjoyably trashy elements are negated by lousy dialogue ('This is a message... of death!'), dreadful special effects, diabolical acting, a sluggish pace, horrible dubbing, and irritating characters (one woman is there just to scream hysterically). The rat attacks are pathetic, the poor rodents obviously being thrown in front of the camera by off-screen rat wranglers, and the actors' scared reactions are terrible.

Try to stay the distance to witness the hilarious revelation at the end, but don't be surprised if you find yourself fighting to remain conscious throughout.

1.5/10, rounded up to 2 for having the nerve to name it's one black character Chocolate (I kid you not).
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7/10
Bette Davis' in full-on bonkers mode.
23 May 2019
Cult classic 'What Ever happened To Baby Jane?' practically defined 'hagsploitation', a horror/thriller sub-genre that conventionally features an ageing, once-glamorous movie icon as a psychotic harridan out to cause harm to those around her.

In this case, it is a haggard Bette Davis (as former child star 'Baby' Jane Hudson) who mentally and physically abuses her wheelchair-bound sister Blanche (played by another past-her-prime legend of the silver screen, Joan Crawford). As a girl, Blanche lived in the shadow of Baby Jane, a popular vaudeville entertainer, but she was to outshine her sister in adulthood, becoming a major movie star. However, a car accident quickly ended Blanche's career, leaving her in the care of a bitter, alcoholic and mentally unstable Baby Jane, who many suspected was responsible for her crippled sister's predicament. Now living in a decaying Hollywood mansion, Blanche has become a virtual prisoner of Jane, whose mental state worsens with every passing day, leading her to become more and more sadistic and violent.

As is so often the case, it is the villain of the piece, Jane Hudson, who makes this film such an entertaining watch: Davis's cartoonishly grotesque appearance (her face is plastered in make-up that makes her look like a drag queen) and her exaggerated performance are a delight to behold, and she steals every scene that she shares with co-star Crawford, who is given little to do but look anxious or shocked. Davis, on the other hand, does demented with aplomb, injects dark humour into her role, performs a memorable song and dance number, and even manages to make her character sympathetic at times. The film is perhaps a little overlong for me to rate it too highly (and one wonders why Blanche didn't just shout for help from her window) but it's still a film worthy of any cult movie fan's time for its numerous iconic scenes and quotable lines of dialogue, and for bonkers Bette.
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Hellbent (1988)
3/10
Hell bent, hell bent for Lemsip.
21 May 2019
Hellbent is, primarily, a punkified retelling of the Faust legend, in which down-on-his-luck singer Lemmy (Phil Ward) makes a deal with devilish promoter Mr. Tanas (an anagram of Satan... how clever!) and becomes hooked on cough syrup with whisky chasers; the film also features a sub-plot that sees young mother Sally (Cheryl Slean) taking drastic action to rescue her kidnapped baby from Tanas's henchmen. The two plot threads come together for a bullet-riddled finale.

This is one weird movie... so strange at times that one wonders if the cast and crew weren't chugging back the Robitussin and whisky themselves whilst filming. While some may enjoy the film's offbeat 'do-whatever-the-hell-we-want-how-we-want' approach, I found its punk attitude extremely tedious, the bizarre dialogue, aimless direction and awful acting almost having me reaching for the Tixylix and Wild Turkey myself (the film has got to be less painful while under the influence).

Writer/director Richard Casey definitely makes some bold, nay, head-scratching choices: a guy smashes a watermelon with his forehead for no reason; a wild audience beat each other up; the kidnapped baby is made to huff industrial solvent; Lemmy is mistaken for a performance artist; and, strangest of all, Tanas's right-hand-man Duke (Phil Therrien)-who is holding Sally at gunpoint-puts down his weapon to have an impromptu hand shandy, allowing Sally to pick up the revolver and shoot him in the chest.

A curiosity, for sure, and definitely a product of its time, which sometimes is enough for me to have a good time, but on this occasion I wasn't feeling it.
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The Intruder (1975)
3/10
Was it really worth the effort?
20 May 2019
Shelved in 1975, and subsequently forgotten about, the only surviving print of The Intruder lay undiscovered for several decades until Harry Guerro, the owner of Garagehouse Pictures, found it in a storage facility in the Mojave desert and saw fit to release it on DVD. He needn't have bothered. Yet another film inspired by Agatha Christie's classic novel Ten Little Indians, this 'proto-slasher' features a group of unlikable strangers travelling to an island to try and secure their share of a fortune in gold, only to be bumped off one-by-one by an unseen killer. The deaths are dull (the film is virtually goreless), but nowhere near as insufferable as the stuff inbetween: inept attempts at intrigue, boring dialogue, and what must be one of the worst fight scenes ever committed to celluloid, both incompetent combatants eventually falling to their death, impaled on the same pitchfork!

Fans of Yvonne De Carlo and Mickey Rooney will also feel shortchanged: despite prominent billing, neither has much to do in this mess of a movie - Rooney drives a boat and De Carlo only has a couple of lines.
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The Deep (1977)
5/10
Not a total wreck, but still disappointing.
19 May 2019
After the blockbuster success of Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Peter Benchley's bestselling novel Jaws, it was inevitable that The Deep, Benchley's second book, would also get the big-screen treatment. However, despite also cleaning up at the box-office, The Deep is far less impressive than Spielberg's classic, a rather clunky sub-aquatic adventure that suffers from a dreary script, uninspired direction from Peter Yates, and leaden pacing, which not even a decent cast can keep afloat for long.

Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset play amateur treasure-hunters David Sanders and Gail Berke, who are on vacation in Bermuda to explore the ship-wreck strewn waters. While diving at the site of a sunken WWII ship, the couple discover a medallion that puts them on the trail of a lost horde of Spanish treasure. Unfortunately, the wreck also contains a massive consignment of morphine ampules for which Haitian gangster Henri Cloche (Louis Gossett Jr.) will do almost anything to get his hands on.

While the premise certainly holds water, and promises plenty of opportunity for excitement, Yates proves out of his depth and is unable to generate much in the way of genuine thrills and spills, even with Jaws star Robert Shaw on board (as another salty sea dog, experienced treasure seeker Romer Treece). With Shaw's performance a watered-down version of Jaws' Quint, and Nolte little more than a bland blonde hunk, it is up to Bisset to light up the screen with some much needed sex appeal (her opening underwater swim in a flimsy T-shirt is great!); sadly, the actress's charms are a small drop in an ocean of mediocrity.
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5/10
Whodunit? Who cares?
19 May 2019
This mid-'60s updating of Agatha Christie's famous novel (the first being And Then There Were None in 1945) is so pedestrian that, in it's original theatrical format, it resorted to a lame gimmick to make it seem more fun: in the final act, viewers are given a 'whodunit break'-60 seconds where they have an opportunity to try and figure out the killer's identity. This silly ploy, plus the sight of sexy Shirley Eaton in her underwear (not once, but twice), are the only remarkable things about this otherwise forgettable murder mystery, which delivers very little in the way of excitement and serves up dull murders, torpid direction, mundane dialogue and lackluster performances.

The film opens as a group of strangers converge at the mountain-top home of a mysterious Mr. Owen, who has invited them all to a party. With the two housekeepers, the occupants total ten, but that number rapidly drops as, one-by-one, they start to turn up dead, punished for crimes that they have committed in their past. This set-up leads to lots of wandering around the vast property, paranoia and, of course, murders, although the death scenes are extremely tame and mostly occur off-screen. No-one looks the least bit frightened by their predicament, and characters routinely wander off on their own in the dark in order to be offed by the unseen killer.

4/10, with a bonus point for bumping off the most irritating character first: drunken pop singer Mike Raven, played by Fabian, whose swinging '60s vernacular is far from a gas, daddio.
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Final Prayer (2013)
3/10
The Boredomlands.
18 May 2019
Vatican priest Deacon (Gordon Kennedy) and technical expert Gray (Robin Hill) travel to a remote church to investigate a supposed miracle, but discover a far more sinister reason for the occurrence.

The DVD box for this British found footage film is plastered with five star ratings and glowing quotes, but I think that we're being deceived. Five stars looks impressive, but it isn't clear... five out of what? 10? 100? Not looking so great now, huh?

As for the quotes, I suspect that we're not getting the whole story...

"Every so often a film comes along that makes you rethink your approach to cinema". The full quote must surely have read ""Every so often a film comes along that makes you rethink your approach to cinema. This isn't one of them. It's exactly the same as every other lame found footage film out there."

"It's petrifying". Possible full quote: "It's petrifying, but then again, I'm scared of my own shadow."

"I was blown away." Full quote: "I was blown away by the sheer lack of imagination."

"The best British feature film I've seen in a long time." Full quote: "The best British feature film I've seen in a long time, which isn't saying much since the last British film I saw was The Zombie Diaries."

"Genuinely horrifying." Full quote: "Genuinely horrifying to think that they're still making lame Blair Witch rip-offs like this."

To be fair, the final ten minutes or so of The Borderlands makes good use of some claustrophobic tunnels, but it still doesn't make the film worth watching, unless you simply have to watch every found footage film ever made. In which case you should probably seek help.

3.5/10, rounded down to 3 for Gray rigging cameras in the cottage that he and Deacon rent, for no other reason than to fill in the blanks in the plot.
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Cube (1997)
8/10
Tension squared.
17 May 2019
Ignoring the highly unlikely probability of six people placed in separate cubes somehow safely converging, despite there being countless possible routes for them to take (with many booby trapped rooms along the way), the script for Cube is taut, smartly-written and engaging, primarily a well-observed study of human nature, but also an original little sci-fi thriller, the premise of which predates the similarly themed Saw movies by quite a few years.

Not knowing how they got there, the film's six disparate characters (a schoolgirl, a doctor, a criminal, a mentally disabled man, a cop and an architect) try to find a way out of their unusual predicament, but as time goes by, nerves begin to fray and tempers flare, resulting in a fight for survival. Decent performances from the minimal cast help the film to hold one's attention, even when the focus shifts from creative death scenes (cheese wire and acid traps result in some neat gore) to more psychological horror.

I can understand how the ambiguous ending of the film might be deemed a disappointment by some, but I like how the nature and purpose of the cube remains a mystery.

7.5/10, rounded up to 8 for IMDb.
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Capricorn One (1977)
8/10
Implausible but hugely entertaining.
16 May 2019
I'm a sucker for a crazy conspiracy theory, and love the idea that the '69 moon landing was faked by a government desperate to win the space race. Accordingly, this late '70s action/thriller from director Peter Hyams is right up my street: when a manned mission to Mars is jeopardised by a faulty life support system, the astronauts are secretly pulled from the rocket moments before lift-off and whisked away to a desert facility. Fearing he will lose government funding if the mission is cancelled, NASA bigwig Dr. James Kelloway (Hal Holbrook) goes ahead with the launch, the unoccupied craft blasting off on schedule, watched by millions of unsuspecting people, including the astronauts' wives.

When the rocket reaches Mars, the three spacemen (James Brolin, O.J.Simpson, and Sam Waterston) are forced to take part in a fake broadcast in a hangar made to resemble the surface of the red planet. All is going according to Kelloway's plan until the spacecraft's eventual re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, when the heat shields fail, and the ship burns up. Officially declared dead, the three astronauts realise that they are a liability and attempt make a desperate bid for freedom before they are silenced. Meanwhile, reporter Robert Caulfield (Elliott Gould) is convinced something is afoot, and tries to uncover the truth.

OK, so the set-up is a little flaky (with no-one inside the rocket, how does it function as planned and return to Earth?), but with its fantastic cast and top-notch direction from Peter Hyams, Capricorn One is still an effective action thriller: there's plenty of well-handled tension and excitement, the supporting cast is great (in particular, Brenda Vaccaro, Telly Savalas, Karen Black, and David Doyle), and Jerry Goldsmith's score is suitably rousing. It all builds to a superb aerial chase scene in which astronaut Charles Brubaker (Brolin) clings to the wing of Savalas's crop-duster as it tries to outrun two helicopters with machine guns - it's such a fantastic sequence that I can easily forgive the final scene in which The President of the United States attends the astronauts' funeral without the slightest hint of any security (which conveniently makes the happy ending possible).
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A Time to Die (1991)
3/10
Traci does well enough, but the film still sucks.
14 May 2019
In A Time To Die, Traci Lords proves that she's more than a rocking bod, long blonde tresses, a bee-sting pout, and a willingness to please: she can act too. Unfortunately, her efforts go to waste, the film being a tepid piece of forgettable '90s straight-to-video trash that makes one wish that Traci hadn't gone all respectable (no sign of any T&A here, folks, at least not from Traci).

Traci plays Jackie, photographer and mother, whose wrongful arrest for possession of drugs (it was her model's) resulted in her losing custody of her son. When Jackie photographs corrupt, cocaine-snorting cop Lt. Eddie Martin (Robert Miano) committing murder, she sees an opportunity to get her kid back, using the pictures as a bargaining tool. In doing so, she puts her life in danger.

With much of the film dedicated to Jackie's romance with lawman Frank (Jeff Conaway), this weak movie is more daytime soap than edgy thriller. Director Charles T. Kanganis lifeless execution means that the film drags from one dull scene to another, and even a surfeit of cheesy '90s style (smoke and blue light) cannot hide the fact that this one is a stinker. The final act, in which Jackie gets trigger happy, livens things up a bit, although Frank's sudden character arc is a little tough to swallow.

3.5 out of 10, rounded down to 3 for a truly terrible turn by Gino Dentie as angry pimp Jinx.
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The Nun (2018)
3/10
Holy Crap.
12 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
1952: after a nun hangs herself in a Romanian abbey, the Vatican sends priest Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and novitiate nun Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) to investigate. They discover that a bombing raid during the war unleashed an ancient evil, Valak the defiler, and they must try and banish the demon and seal the gateway from whence it came (using an ancient artefact containing the blood of Christ).

Do people really find nuns scary? Even ones that look like Marilyn Manson on an off day? I certainly don't (well, except maybe for Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act **shudder**). The Nun, the latest entry in the Conjuring universe, fails to change that fact. Director Corin Hardy struggles to inject any fear into the cock and bull religious mumbo jumbo backstory for demon Valak, conjured up by writers Gary Dauberman and James Wan, and resorts to countless cheap jump scares, unimaginatively executed and extremely tedious to watch.

Throw in terrible acting (what the hell was up with the accent of French-Canadian drifter Frenchie, played by Jonas Bloquet?), lots of crap CGI spooks, and a dumb ending in which Sister Irene takes a shot of Christ's blood and spits it into Valak's face, and what you have is far and away the worst film in the Conjuring universe (so far).
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5/10
Robert makes a grave mistake.
12 May 2019
Businessman Robert Kraft (Richard Boone), newly elected chairman of the Immortal Hills Cemetery Committee, is shown how plots are labelled on a large map: a white pin denotes a plot bought by someone still alive, and a black pin marks a plot occupied by the deceased. When Kraft accidentally marks plots with black pins instead of white, the owners suddenly die, leading Kraft to believe that there is a supernatural connection between himself and the map, and that by switching black pins for white, he might be able to bring the dead back to life.

I Bury The Living features a fun premise, but it's not strong enough to carry a whole film, being far better suited to a shorter format, such as a TV episode or part of a horror anthology. Director Albert Band (father of Charles and Richard) handles the material with flair, introducing some neat visual trickery (I love how the map seems to glow), but the drawn out script cannot help but result in boredom at times. The film also suffers from a weak ending that feels like a missed opportunity: instead of zombies rising from their graves (which is apparently how the film was originally intended to end), Band delivers a far more down-to-earth finalé that tries to explain events in a believable fashion, but which proves far less satisfactory than something supernatural.
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7/10
Kittens drowned for lack of pedigree; will baby be next?
9 May 2019
Heavily pregnant widow Francesca Kinsolving (Patty Duke) travels to snowy Minnesota to meet her mother-in-law Maria for the first time. However, on arrival at the remote Kinsolving estate, she is shocked to find that the woman (Rosemary Murphy) isn't as saintly as her husband described (nice old ladies don't drown kittens!). When a snowstorm prevents her from leaving, Francesca finds herself a virtual prisoner in the house, and discovers a secret that puts not just her life in danger, but that of her child as well.

A taut thriller with bags of atmosphere and great performances, You'll Like My Mother could have been a classic, if it wasn't for one dodgy plot point that undoes a lot of the good work done by director Lamont Johnson and his talented cast. Without giving too much away, the effectiveness of the film as a whole depends a lot on the silence of a baby; silence when it is born, and silence for the following few days. In my experience, newborns do the exact opposite - they cry a lot - but Francesca's bundle of joy doesn't even gurgle or coo. As the script requires, the tiny tot stays schtum. It's just a tad far-fetched as far as I am concerned, and prevents the film from being a complete success.

Still, even with this somewhat irksome plot contrivance, I enjoyed this slow-burn thriller for its wonderfully chilling wintry locale, smart direction (Johnson makes great use of the old house), and solid acting (Duke and Murphy are given able support from Sian Barbara Allen as mentally disabled Kathleen, and Richard 'John-Boy Walton' Thomas as sexual sadist Kenny, the other occupants of the sprawling Kinsolving manor).
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3/10
Where's Doug McClure when you need him?
8 May 2019
Low-budget creature feature Spawn of the Slithis harks back to the monster movies of the '50s, wherein a spill of radioactive waste would result in a man in an unconvincing rubber costume emerging from the depths to terrorise a community. In this case, it is the people of Venice, Los Angeles, who find themselves under attack from Slithis, a bipedal organic mud monster that crawls from the canals to feed upon dogs, winos, and residents. Investigating the deaths is journalism teacher Wayne Connors (Alan Blanchard), who eventually works out what is happening and hunts the creature, Jaws-style, with the help of his wife Jeff (Judy Motulsky), scientist Dr. John (J.C. Claire), Jamaican boat owner/diver Chris Alexander (Mello Alexandria) and two expendable deck-hands.

While the above synopsis has all the makings of a highly entertaining B-movie, writer/director Stephen Traxler somehow manages to make a botch of things, his film a crushing bore between the scant appearances of the slippery Slithis. It opens on the right note, with some mangled dog corpses and the gruesome remains of a mutilated couple, but soon goes downhill: there's far too much chin-wagging, with the dialogue consisting of pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo (perhaps knowingly silly, but boring nonetheless) and generic chit-chat. Moreover, Traxler's direction is uninspired, and the performances range from the merely passable (Alexandria's turn is adequate), to the forgettable (Blanchard is bland as the hero), to the downright absurd (Hy Pyke, as the police chief, who clearly wanted to get noticed).

In the right hands, Spawn of the Slithis could have been a cool '70s precursor to Humanoids from the Deep (1980), albeit with only one monster, but its weak cast, minimal gore (a few splashes of red paint), lack of nudity (only a brief flash of a breast), and all that inane conversation ensures that the result is quite a bore.

3/10, plus one point for the bizarre-yet-fun turtle-racing scene (the highlight of the film for me), but minus one point for the atrocious POV 'monster vision' effect, which looks as though they strapped a plastic bottle to the camera lens. So that's still 3/10.
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Razorback (1984)
7/10
A big pig ate my wife.
6 May 2019
Jaws on land, with just a dash of backwoods horror for good measure, Russell Mulcahy's Razorback opens with a scene inspired by the real-life 'dingoes ate my baby' case in 1980: a giant razorback boar smashes its way into the outback home of Jake Cullen (Bill Kerr) and makes off with his two-year-old grandson. No-one believes the old man's outlandish story, and he is put on trial for murder, but acquitted due to insufficient evidence.

Two years later, and Jake has dedicated his life to hunting boars, hoping one day to even the score with the massive child-snatching hog. When American animal rights reporter Beth Winters (Judy Morris, writer of my favourite pig movie, Babe: Pig in the City) goes missing while filming in the outback, her husband Carl (Gregory Harrison) travels to Australia to try and find out what happened to her. There, he meets Jake, who points him in the direction of meat factory PetPak, operated by degenerate 'roo hunters Benny and Dicko (Chris Haywood and David Argue), who know the truth about Beth, but also have a secret to hide.

Featuring extremely stylish direction from Mulcahy, who made his name making pop-promos for the likes of Elton John, Queen and Duran Duran (who feature on this film's soundtrack), Razorback is a visual feast and heavy on atmosphere, which goes quite a long way to excuse the rather derivative plot, a disappointing lack of killer boar action (at least until the final act), and virtually no gore (although juicier deleted scenes are apparently available on the Australian Blu-ray release). Also making this film a treat for the eyes is the gorgeous Arkie Whitely (the blonde cutie from The Road Warrior), who plays Jake's friend Sarah; with her adorable dimples and piercing blue eyes, she's a very welcome sight amidst the desolate landscape of death and decay.

6.5/10, rounded up to 7 for IMDb.
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Persecution (1974)
8/10
Lana Turner as a crazy cat lady.
6 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
'70s psychological thriller The Graveyard starts off in fine demented form with young lad David Masters (Mark Weavers) drowning cat Sheba in a bowl of milk, believing that his mother Carrie (Lana Turner) loves the moggie more than him. Years later, and the now grown-up David (Ralph Bates) is still living in his mother's home, along with his wife Janie (Suzan Farmer) and their newborn son Paul. Carrie makes no secret of her dislike for Janie, creating tension in the house, but things get a lot worse when Carrie's cat (the latest in a long line of Shebas) suffocates infant Paul, causing Janie to spiral into depression.

What follows is an incredibly warped tale of bitterness, jealousy, revenge, blackmail, murder, infidelity, and insanity, with Turner's character proving to be a very nasty piece of work indeed. Her Machiavellian scheming gets out of hand when she hires sexy nurse Monique (Olga Georges-Picot), ostensibly to care for Janie, but secretly to seduce David; when Janie discovers her husband in bed with the nurse (having been led there by Carrie), she trips and falls down the stairs to her death. This causes David to wig out and take revenge on his mother, leading to a very fitting fate for the devious woman.

Turner is great in her Bette Davis/Joan Crawford-esque role, and the always enjoyable Bates gives able support as the son pushed over the edge by his cruel mother. Farmer isn't given much to do as his doomed wife, but Olga Georges-Picot is far more interesting (and alluring) as the conflicted home-help who realises too late just how wicked her employer is. While director Don Chaffey's deliberate pace might prove a little slow for some, I found it perfect for this twisted tale of gradual descent into madness and murder, and I just loved the bizarre ending, like something out of an old E.C. horror comic (again, not for everyone, but it'll appeal to those who relish the absurd).

7.5/10, rounded up to 8 for IMDb.
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Necromancer (1988)
3/10
Weak supernatural rape revenge trash.
5 May 2019
After pretty blonde drama student Julie (Elizabeth Kaitan) is raped by a trio of privileged sleazeballs, she pays a visit to a necromancer (Lois Masten Ewing) who summons a shape-shifting demon to take revenge. When the demon starts killing those who have wronged her, Julie has a change of heart and accepts help from magic obsessed weirdo Ernest (Waide Aaron Riddle).

Cheap as chips supernatural rape revenge flick Necromancer is a fairly dreadful straight-to-video bottom shelf filler, with weak performances and woeful visual effects (the demon's eyes are hilarious), the only positives being some topless nudity from its shapely star Kaitan, and one gory scene at the very end.

The remainder of the film is bloodless (unless you count the watery red stuff that erupts from the world's ugliest bathroom), totally devoid of scares, and bereft of originality. Russ Tamblyn puts in a passable turn as pervy drama teacher Charles, who abuses his position to get laid, but the majority of the cast are plain bad (and what's with those green 'horns' in Ernest's hair?).

Oh, and if you're ever called upon by a friend to help her defeat a demon of vengeance, please blow out any lit candles in your house before you leave.
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Scream (1981)
1/10
Snore.
5 May 2019
Fifteen years before Wes Craven would make it his own, writer/director Byron Quisenberry used the title 'Scream' for this rural slasher with a supernatural twist, a film so inept that it makes Craven's worst efforts look like cinematic gold by comparison. Yes... even My Soul to Take (2010) and The Hills Have Eyes Pt. 2 are better than this.

After a truly perplexing pre-credits scene featuring decapitated statuettes with moving eyes, the film switches to a group of people on a river-rafting trip coming ashore to set up camp at an old ghost town. When night falls, an unseen killer begins to bump off members of the party one-by-one.

And that's pretty much it in terms of plot for most of the film, the group slowly whittled down to a handful of survivors over the course of 82 minutes, which feels a whole lot longer thanks to the poor performances, weak script and amateurish direction. Much of the film is shot at night, with the camera meandering aimlessly through the shadows of the ghost town, rarely settling on anything of interest, while the deaths - when they happen - occur off screen, meaning that there is no gore to speak of (not that the terrible lighting would have enabled us to see it anyway).

The arrival of a pair of dirt-bikers adds nothing to the film, save for another pair of victims to die bloodlessly out of frame, and an encounter with a mysterious man on horseback, who is presumably a ghost, only serves to leave the viewer not only extremely bored, but confused as well.
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Big Bad Bugs (2012)
1/10
Big? Yes. Bad? That's an understatement.
4 May 2019
Creepy crawlies can be scary (to me, at least), so unusually large ones should be super scary, right? Well, not if they're really unconvincing CG creatures poorly composited with real-life action, as in this godawful movie from writer/director Peter Paul Basler.

The atrocious action follows a special ops team on a mission to locate a missing scientist who holds the key to closing a wormhole that threatens to destroy the planet. Along the way, the soldiers encounter some giant insects that have been transformed by glowing crystals from the vortex. It's dull, repetitive nonsense with lots of aimless wandering through the desert, pseudo-scientfic claptrap and dreadful performances all round (although I suspect that the cast were well aware how crap the film would be and acted accordingly).

In a film full of extremely awful moments, it's hard to choose the worst, but I'll plump for the really crap HALO jump scene that sees the team opening their chutes as soon as they leave the aircraft, the attack by a giant hornet, or the talking serpent duel at the end.
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Ticks (1993)
8/10
Ticks the boxes for fans of the genre.
4 May 2019
Killer bug movie Ticks doesn't exactly break new ground, but it still provides a fun time for fans of the 'nature gone awry' genre, with a great cast, rollicking direction from Tony Randel (Hellbound: Hellraiser II), and a whole slew of excellent practical effects courtesy of K.N.B. EFX Group. A gooey good-time is guaranteed as a group of troubled inner-city teens at a rural retreat are faced with the horror of mutated blood-sucking arachnids and deranged redneck marihuana farmers.

Amongst those threatened by the scuttling bugs are Ami Dolenz (daughter of Monkee Mickey Dolenz), Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air), and Seth Green (Scott Evil from Austin Powers), while B-movie fans will be pleased to see creepy Clint Howard (Ron's bro) as an unlucky cash cropper whose face explodes, and Barry Lynch proving he can play villainous just as well as his big brother Richard. After much squishy action, the film culminates in an all out tick attack, as the arachnids are driven towards the kids' cabin by a forest fire.

If there's one thing that the film adequately illustrates is that old-school effects are often better than CGI: I'm not sure how they did it, but K.N.B. outdid themselves with tons of really convincing critters, the bugs running at speed across the ground and up walls being particularly impressive, while gore fans will have a blast at the sight of Ribeiro's body splitting open to reveal a super-bug.

7.5/10, rounded up to 8 for IMDb.
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7/10
Forget Captain Marvel... meet The Rat!
3 May 2019
After 'the vanishing' in Infinity War, there were still a handful of superheroes left knocking about to try and restore order to the universe, but in Endgame the real hero is a rat. A lowly rodent scampers across the controls of Hank Pym's quantum machine, activating a few switches with his little ratty feet, bringing Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) back from his five-year stay in the quantum realm. And it is Lang's return that kick-starts a desperate attempt to reverse Thanos' nefarious handiwork.

If you can swallow such lazy writing, then you'll no doubt have no problem with the rest of the film, which resorts to that old chestnut - time travel - with all the paradoxical problems that arise as a result. Unfortunately, I struggle to let such things slide, annoyed by rather casual approach taken by writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, whose script scampers lightly over the temporal issues like a rat over a console (I'm sorry, I just can't let that go). While the film is undeniably enjoyable as a slam bang piece of mega-budget entertainment, it isn't as flawless or as clever a denouement that one might hope for.

Visually, Endgame is hard to beat and it's great to see all of the A-list stars of the past MCU movies coming together for one last effects-filled battle (it's amazing what $400,000,000 can buy), but for the culmination of a twenty-two film series, I had dearly hoped for something a bit more considered and fulfilling than a great-looking movie that is ultimately dependent on the actions of a rat (yes, it irritated me THAT much...).
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8/10
Pure '80s straight-to-video bliss.
1 May 2019
A mysterious albino scientist (Brion James wearing futuristic shades) contaminates the drinking water of small desert town Canyonland, driving the locals homicidal. Drifter Reilly (Bo Hopkins) teams up with celebrity lawyer Ken (Wings Hauser), lawman Sheriff Hanks (George Kennedy) and sexy deputy Julia (Kimberly Ross) to tackle the crazies and hunt down those responsible for the epidemic.

Sci-fi/horror/action flick Nightmare at Noon, from director Nico Mastorakis (the man responsible for notorious video nasty Island of Death), is pure '80s bliss, with a suitably bonkers plot, a terrific cast of B-movie favourites, loads of impressive stunts, plenty of violence, and even a score by future Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer.

Mastorakis keeps the western-influenced action moving at a decent lick, with highlights including old coot Charley (Neal Wheeler) going green around the gills and getting trigger-happy with a shotgun, a shootout at a drive-in between our heroes and the baddies (armed with laser-sighted machine guns and flamethrowers), and an overlong but well-handled helicopter chase around the spectacular rock formations of the stunning Utah landscape. Also worthy of note: buxom beauty Kimberly Beck (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) as Ken's wife Cheri.

7.5/10, rounded up to 8 for IMDb. Would make a fun double bill with Mutant (1984), which also co-starred Hauser and Hopkins.
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2/10
Two and a half hours of mind-numbing garbage.
29 April 2019
It's been four decades since gang rape victim Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) was somehow acquitted of cutting, chopping, breaking and burning five men beyond recognition. Now the author of a best-selling account of her ordeal, titled 'I Spit On Their Graves', Jennifer has understandably incurred the wrath of her victims' relatives. Kidnapped along with her super-model daughter Christy (Jamie Bernadette, looking every inch unlike a world famous fashion icon), Jennifer once again faces a terrifying ordeal...

This belated sequel to notorious 1978 shocker I Spit On Your Grave fails to replicate the original's success (understatement of the year?), despite the return of director Meir Zarchi and star Keaton. Given that he's had forty years to plan this movie, Zarchi's script is incredibly poor, and his cast is absolutely dreadful, but the worst thing about Deja Vu is its runtime of almost two and a half hours, every scene outstaying its welcome, making the film a gruelling experience for all the wrong reasons.

Do yourself a favour and skip this dreadful film; watch the remake and its sequels instead - they're far more brutal, the acting is way better, and they won't have you checking how much time is left every few minutes.
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