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The Man Is The Movie
9 July 2016
Some films need a strong performance to lift them above the mediocrity of their concept and execution. And this films saving grace is in its lead, Mr Lockheart, who gives a great swaggering and charismatic performance pitched at just the right operatic intensity to match the essential absurdity of the premises.

Very much a product of its time and place, when traditional horrors were attempting to recast themselves in more modern clothes with elements of then modern culture, car chase scenes, hi-tech and a dash of blaxploitation.

Definitely a late night fun movie to enjoy purely on its own merits.

Marred mostly by terrible 'Day for Night' effects (a curse of British productions throughout that period) and the cheapest, saddest werewolf ever put on film (it looks like a cuddly family pet) it's otherwise a fun and well acted romp of Hammy Hammer proportions.

Just to clear up what seems a plot absurdity; how does Tom know one of his guests is a werewolf?

Simply, this film takes place in a world where they exist (the characters seem to accept the basic premise with neither protest nor disbelief) so Tom simply uses both his intelligence and hunters instinct (something repeated and emphasised several times) to round up the most likely candidates knowing that by casting a wide net he will bag his target.

Well, that and the script says so.
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Doctor Who: The Woman Who Lived (2015)
Season 9, Episode 6
The Rot is Sinking In
25 October 2015
We seem to be back at what killed the original series- the need to make Dr Who as the lowest form of 'Light Entertainment'.

It's silly in all the wrong ways, has a pantomime feeling about it, and recently the 'historical' characters all act with a very 21stC manner, as if the creators are so desperate to be 'Hip' and 'PC' that any reference to the actual biases of the past not only have to be ignored but actively re-cast in a modern light.

The gallows scene was a classic example of this- feeling wrong in execution and delivery.

Sadly, I really thought Capaldi would give the show some Gravitas, in the manner of Pertwee.

He could joke and play around, but was never foolish and it was always clear he was the smartest man in the room.

Worrying trend all this season.
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Calvary (2014)
Oddly Sadistic, Endlessly Bleak
29 July 2015
First of all, the saving grace of this movie is a standout lead performance which compels you to keep watching.

However, the film itself takes place in some odd limbo of unlikable exaggerated characters, one note grotesques filled with malice and spite, and just too unremittingly hostile to be truly believable.

Our main character faces an unyielding tidal wave of hostility and venom which is just too caricatured to be even vaguely believable. I initially thought that perhaps it was the limbo of a dying man, or that perhaps a terrible past event had been revealed to others, but, no, it's a landscape that DeSade or Goya would reject as too one note in its bleakness.

It essentially sums up more of a certain national mood than anything else, and while beautifully shot and performed ultimately leaves one unfulfilled emotionally and, more worryingly, unmoved by the unfolding events.
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17 September 2013
If you've seen K-Pax then you'll know what it's like when a film with a great premise and fully committed wonderful actors manages to create a reverse alchemy- a movie which is less than the sum of its parts.

Lance is intense and fascinating to watch as ever, and his face carries the burden of world weary regret wonderfully, but no-one else can quite reach the bar he sets.

The two-handed sessions are interesting, but never quite reach the heights of true insight, being entertaining rather than revelatory.

The main theme of the nature of Fate is fascinating, and the premise sound, but as others have noticed it would have made for a wonderful 30 minutes rather than a rather laborious 90.

Watch it by all means, but see it as a dress rehearsal for a potential classic short film rather than the rather vapid exercise it turns out to be.
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Probably- The Most Frightening PIF Ever Made!
15 August 2010
Can't believe I'm the first to write a review, as this Public Information Film has quite a following now on YouTube.

Anyway, travel back to a time in the UK, say the late 70's, when your class is gathered together with others to go down to the school hall. You sit down on the cold wooden floor in files facing the front, the curtains are drawn, a hush descends, the projector hums, and your teacher orders you to face the front and pay close attention.

You are about to be scarred for life.

From the beginning, with its badly animated, leering figures, through several terrifying scenes, to its still ominous ending, this is where the PIF hit its golden target: to terrorize and traumatize a generation.

Perhaps its because it was shown in packed school halls using a projector, perhaps its the faded, washed out blue tones or the chilling narration.

But it created an atmosphere of fear like no other, lingering long in the memory of many an adult.

Public Information Films always had the target of scaring you into sensibility but this one, like the 'Lonely Water' Ad, turned fear into an art form.

Two scenes stand out- one chilling moment shows a terrifying shadow engulfing a weeping girl. Still hard to watch, I actually remember a few girls at school having nightmares for days afterwards.

Second, and worst, is a man befriending a youngster at a fair, whose friends prevent him from going away with him.

As he walks away, the man says nothing, but suddenly, almost subliminally, his face transforms hideously as the screen throbs red.

I still remember the screams in the hall.

Interestingly, like a conditioned response, I still flinch at the scene today, as a man in my late 30's.

What would the CIA give for that level of programming?

All in all a product of its time, just before VHS hardened us to violent movies and when land lines were all we had for communication.

If you're an adult of a certain age, it will return you to a time of constant, yet less immediate, fears.

Just don't watch it immediately before bed. After all, these days there's no 'Late Call' before closedown to give small consolation through the dark night till the dawn.
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Animalympics (1980)
Now Is The Time For Champions..
15 August 2010
An almost forgotten and always underrated gem that bridges the 70s & 80s, the character and music of the former with the knowingness and personal excess of the latter, best demonstrated by excellent caricatures of sporting figures and commentators who are as interested in selling themselves as much as the events.

Definitely one for those who love nostalgia, as it would take a basic knowledge of the era to get many of the jokes, but should still be colourful enough to engross the young.

Here in the UK it seems linked with memories of 80's School Holidays, as ITV would occasionally show it as a morning matinée. Something about it really stuck in the memory (as shown by the amount of UK reviews) and I never forgot the closing tune.

All in all, it sums up a certain time and place in a way few (if any) animated movies do, and is well worth seeking out.

Prepare to feel the endless optimism and simple hopes of childhood again.
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By Thy Voters Shall We Know Ye...
13 April 2010
The simplest way to tell if you'll enjoy this movie is to read the other reviews here and see the type of person drawn to comment on it.

That is if you can actually interpret(and stomach) the ramblings.

In reality, it sums up nicely the 'Age Of Aquarius' paranoia so rampant in the '70s, a decade where lifelong borderline personality disorders could be mistaken for immediate divine insight. And its this very outlook which dates it so badly.

If you keep an open mind, it can be amusing in a certain way. I saw it, for instance, shortly before the 1st Gulf War, and wondered how many people watching it on late night cable TV believed they had found the reason for, and ultimate outcome of, the approaching conflict.

But reality prevailed-it has a nasty habit of doing that..

Definitive proof that people will take meaning from just about anything. Even worse, proof that poor Orson sadly outlived his talent, reduced to shoddy documentaries like this to keep him in cigars.

Kane would Weep!
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The End of The Eighties...
16 January 2010
Its hard to pin down the beginning or end of any Era, but this film pretty much signals the end of the Glam 80's, imploding under the weight of Big Hair, Padded Shoulders and the plastic emotions of the decade of sleazy innocence. Every cliché' of the age seems gathered together for dismal effect. It seems to be a parody of itself, as if realising that the decade it portrays is already in decay.

Not that any insight was in the mind of anyone making this garbage.

In a mild touch of irony, Kelly Monteith was, surprisingly, really big in the UK with his BBC2 show in the early 80's. His mixture of skits and talking to the audience were cutting edge comedy at the time. Breaking the 'Fourth Wall' ushered in a new comedic style.

And this is how it ended. Who would have figured Mr Monteith as the barometer of a cultural Era?
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The Only UK Copy!
16 January 2010
I saw this film on VHS back in the early-mid 80's. Being about 12-13 I loved the Ultra-Violence and the entire concept. I must have watched it through twice in as many days and the finale a few times more. Not often a film with 'Massacre' in the title actually delivers but this one did. In Spades.

The only setback was that I seemed to be the only person who ever saw it. Ever. Seriously. Back in those days of the 'Video Nasty' we used to compare splatter films at break during school but I was the only person who ever knew of this one. Same for years. Even up till now, come to think of it.

Its a tribute to its raw power that I can still recall so much of it. The bikers, the corrupt law, the 'Paton' skit,the shootings and the massacre itself. And the fact that not one of the bikers could actually fire in a straight line and had no idea of the concept of cover. Hey-Ho!

And the ending is one of the best, most powerful and most disturbing ever filmed. Its stuck with me over 20 years.

Now THATS what you call a Finale'.
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The Past Is Another Country...
1 November 2009
Finally released on DVD is a series I found hilarious as a child. This and 'Some Mothers'and 'The Goodies' were the height of comedy for an 8 year old (I caught the repeats).

Man Child Selwyn, well meaning but a walking disaster area, creates mayhem despite the best of intentions and goodwill.

Maynard actually saves the show with a powerhouse performance of energy, attacking unexceptional scripts with gusto and delivering a well balanced performance injected with physical comedy.

Watching as an adult, its hard to miss the bleakness of the show though. Looking at it post Eighties it shows a narrow way of life and outlook, peopled with characters of limited horizons. The Pilot Episode shows why some characters were wisely changed: The office characters (with their sexual overtones)wisely discarded, the Mother greatly softened and the homosexual suggestions of the older brother removed with the introduction of a girlfriend. Looking at this episode the Family seem like a bunch of genetic misfits. Selwyn should be a sad case, a socially inept, stupid middle aged man with no love life(ever) but Maynard, as stated, saves this situation remarkably.

Perhaps most interestingly, it shows a certain outlook and lifestyle that would be lost forever after the defeat of the 1984 Miners Strike. Or perhaps it simply lost out to progress itself.

Whether it was worth preserving is something you can judge better for yourself by watching this series.
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A Very Merry Cricket (1973 TV Short)
A Very Merry Memory!
1 November 2009
Oh, I thought I'd NEVER find this. I remember seeing both this and the original a few times as a kid around 1980 on TV. Something about it really stuck in the memory and its been great to finally track it down.

I remember the final montage in particular and the general upbeat, feel-good atmosphere of both.

Its funny how some things stick so long in the memory, even if, like these shorts, nothing spectacular actually occurs. Maybe its just the time and its ambiance itself we remember and these films act simply as a prop.

At any rate, well worth the seeking out and sharing with a new generation.
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Flirting, unsuccessfully, With Success
1 November 2009
This is one of those curious little films: nice plotting, engaging characters, good performances, quirky humour and pleasant atmosphere.

And Yet, it doesn't quite work.

There's nothing actually wrong with any of it. But somehow the whole is less than the sum of the parts. A pleasant time passer. But somehow it manages to feel more like a very good afternoon play. In a way it missed its mark by going to cinema as I think it would have found a welcome home in the TV schedules. It feels like an appropriate production for Christmas, like the Emma Watson 'Ballet Shoes' piece.

Well worth watching if you enjoyed fare like 'Gregorys Girl'.

In passing, Holly is excellent. A very attractive, rather intense girl missed from our TV schedules after good performances in 'The Bill' and 'Casualty' she needs a break into a big time vehicle.

Sadly, this isn't it.
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(Probably) The Oddest Animated Film In The World!
1 November 2009
I remember seeing this back in the Early-Mid 80's during a Holiday weekday on STV. Obviously the station realised too late that this was not your typical Kiddy Fodder as it was never shown again (a minor miracle for anyone who knows STV). I'm not surprised.

It was Soooo depressing. Suicide-Unrequited Love-Sleaze-Despair. Fun viewing for all the Family. Has to be said though that it did stick in my mind, though maybe not for the right reasons.

An odd curiosity that was very out of place for its time. Can't believe it was made in the 70's.

Probably traumatised more kids than Bambis' Mother.
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Footsteps (I) (1974)
A Hidden Gem
21 June 2009
A classic little Gem, which, for those of a certain age, will recall an era of late films screened just before closedown. Something to give people throughout the land a quick shiver before the anonymous announcer wished them a good night and, ironically, to sleep well.

It belongs to an era of Public Information Films and Late Call, when Late Night TV consisted of a short burst of tasteful stills shown to haunting music before the screen went black.

Almost forgotten now, it was a frequent little visitor to the late slots (well, it was in Scotland) and evokes that 70's 'Thriller' period to great effect, when the nights seemed much darker and more lonely.

Well worth the seeking out- Excellent Structure & Acting.
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Nightingales (1990– )
Hidden In The Night.
21 June 2009
Ironic, for the concept of forgotten men left deserted in an anonymous tower block, that Channel 4 should should post them to a graveyard slot with no fanfare and precious little advertising. A Pity- since this was one of the most innovative, imaginative and downright surreal comedies ever to grace the screen.

A simple concept- three men forced by time and circumstance to create their own fantasy world to alleviate the endless tedium and pointlessness of their lives- is twisted into surreal shapes and situations until it screams with laughter.

The actors are obviously enjoying themselves hugely and ground the characters so fully in the situation that wild flights of fantasy can soar while never dissolving into stupidity or falling off into pointlessness (the Curse Of Python).

Excellent ideas- King Lear, Hypnotism, Mutiny on the Bounty, Doppelgangers and a sensitive Werewolf are milked for all their comic potential- and what rich milk it is.

Maybe it is an acquired taste-the reason I only give 8- but if it hooks you, you will never find its equal.

Perhaps THE forgotten comedy gem of the 1990s.
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The Slayer (1982)
An Effective Failure
21 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of those odd little films which isn't particularly good but does stay in the mind long afterwards.

I originally saw it in the 80's and its core idea of fate and misaligned time really appealed to me. And the pitchfork murder was highly effective, although the 'hook' killing didn't quite come off. Also the entire ending was quite effective in 'looping' the movie.

Watching with an older eye the idea strikes one that the killings could actually be the lead character herself, her inherent psychosis triggered by the trip (she certainly is portrayed as 'strange' throughout) and the 'Slayer' simply a manifestation of that madness.

But thats if you want to analyse it, otherwise enjoy it as a straightforward Friday night horror romp.

And don't go exploring noises in the cellar after ;-)
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Unhinged (1982)
Unhinged?= Uninteresting & Uninspired!
21 July 2008
Ever watched a movie that lost the plot? Well, this didn't even really have one to begin with.

Where to begin? The achingly tedious scenes of our heroine sitting around the house with actually no sense of menace or even foreboding created even during the apparently constant thunderstorms (that are strangely never actually heard in the house-great double glazing)? The house that is apparently only a few miles from a town yet is several hours walk away(?) or the third girl who serves no purpose to the plot except to provide a surprisingly quick gory murder just as the tedium becomes unbearable? Or even the beginning which suggests a spate of 20+ killings throughout the area even though it is apparent the killer never ventures far from the house? Or the bizarre ritual with the salt & pepper that pretty much sums up most of the films inherent lack of direction.

Add a lead actress who can't act but at least is willing to do some completely irrelevant nude shower scenes and this video is truly nasty, but not in the way you hope.

Given a following simply for being banned in the UK in the 80's (mostly because of a final surprisingly over extended murder) it offers nothing but curiosity value- and one classic 'daft' murder (don't worry-its telegraphed at least ten minutes before).

After a walk in the woods our victim comes to a rather steep upward slope which they obviously struggle up. Halfway through they see a figure at the top dressed in black and brandishing a large scythe. What do they do? Slide down and run like the rest of us? No, of course not- they struggle to the top and stand conveniently nice and upright in front of the murder weapon.

It really IS only a movie as they say..
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St. Trinian's (2007)
WARNING- This film WILL surprise you.
8 January 2008
From the ashes of Ealing rises a film worthy of the studio name.

A fun packed, good natured, girl-powered romp complete with obligatory wacky robbery plot so beloved of the studios' classics. Though the plotting wavers the abundant energy carries it through with hardly a glitch. Rupert Everett is a revelation and Colin Firth wisely plays it straight even whilst sending himself up.

A very UK film with lots of in-jokes for us 30 somethings (loved the 'Another Country' line), funny lines and nicely sketched stereotypes for younger girls to admire and younger boys to fancy.

Great for a family trip or as a personal time-passer, it sold out continuously in Glasgow for weeks, although a sequel really isn't warranted.

Enjoy it as the stand alone little gem it is, harking back to the days when films were self-contained little classics rather than potential sequel spinners.

My comedy of 2007!

P.S.- Remember to stay for the 'Girls Aloud' title song credits!
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Not So Fond Memories
15 July 2007
I actually saw this at a special screening in Glasgow, with a talk held after. Three people walked out (that I saw). Lucky people..

I never thought it possible for a film to be both boring AND offensive, but there's always the exception.

Really laughably bad and inept in every department, and insultingly pretentious to boot. Cod philosophy throughout betrays an outlook of a juvenile English Lit student trying too hard to impress.

Oh, and a tip for revisionists. Comparing fascism or any 'ism' to a sexual sadist is pretty pointless. Sadists torture for any sake- and its rather worrying that the laughable reasons our killer gives don't point this out more to most viewers. Fascists generally kill/torture for a purpose-sadists for sheer enjoyment.

But this is beside the point- its poorly made and executed regardless. Insulting to the intelligence and boring in the extreme.

Best Avoided.
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A Diamond in the Dreck...
15 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Firstly, yes, it IS a bad movie. The idea is nasty enough but the execution is very uneasy in its execution. Swings from juvenile humour to juvenile gross outs still total juvenile content.

Still, the problem may lie in the feeling that there is actually a deeper idea stifled beneath all the gloss gore.

As an exploration of the objectification of women, it has some ideas, none too well handled or explored.

The first killing reflects the 'sexualisation' of Elizabeth bathory, a true 'serial-killer' but overly sexualised by the 'blood-bathing' myth that grew around her. Woman as object & objectifier.

The second is most interesting. As a sexualised object, she is an easy victim, but damaged she becomes recognisably human and the realisation dawns she is not just an object, like a pin-up, creating guilt.

The survivor escapes her plight by 'becoming' the object desired, playing a role as a fantasy model which ultimately empowers her to turn the tables on her tormentor.

Its the uneasy mix of insightful, 'knowing' and gross out gore that makes such an uneasy mix that doesn't quite gel.

Oh, and the ending is crap...
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My Own Private Idiom..
13 July 2007
This is such a little gem, and like most gems its so polished that it can seem a little artificial, but still precious and attractive.

Seeming on first glance like an 'Introduction to Existentialism-Lite' but is a rabbit hole of ideas and images that for once truly lives up to the title of 'rewards repeated viewing'

The dinner-table scene in particular is so lighthearted yet deeply insightful that it deserves to be seen as a classic standalone in itself. A light touch which covers a canvas with bright strokes of illumination- a Monet'of a movie.

If you want to exercise the mind and stimulate conversation-look no further.
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Christmas Turkey
27 December 2006
I can only assume some people are simply letting the festive spirit overwhelm their judgement, or at least restrain it. This is, hands-down, the WORST film of the year (and I endured 'The Fog') with neither wit nor charm. Every bad cliché in the book is here. It truly looks and feels like someone gave a group of 14 year olds a camera and told them to create a horror movie. Whilst on Hard Drugs.

Six people walked out at my viewing. They were the lucky ones.. Truly awful. Only looking at Michelle Trachtenburg managed to keep my eyes focused on the screen and my sanity in check.

I now truly dread the Halloween remake if this schlock is any indicator of what to expect.
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Ice Princess (2005)
1 Film-Two Audiences
5 October 2006
Surprisingly enjoyable Disney romp which takes the common 'Changeling' fantasy and (literally) spins it into an above average afternoon/matinée feature.

However, whilst girls will rightly watch it for its theme of empowerment, its surprising DVD popularity probably also owes something to the allure of attractive older teenagers in skintight tops and minis striking revealing poses among the older male homograph..

But who cares. Its sweet & good. Taken in that manner and its a winner! Sit back and enjoy pure sweetened delight and the blossoming of Ms Trachtenburgs (obvious) talents.
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A Bitter Ending...
5 October 2006
Only once, upon exiting a theatre, have I felt a genuine sense of bitter disappointment with a film.

This was that film! despite the flaws and lounger's in 'Reloaded' I had hoped to find a tighter, deeper, more dynamic conclusion. Instead we got a mixture of product placement for Toys R' Us and every war cliché discarded from better movies.

The irony of 'reality' being the weakest part of the narrative was apt, but seemed unintended as the unlikeable Zion (which, like Heaven or Utopia, should never have been so fully revealed)battled endless machines whilst the audience battled seemingly endless boredom.

If The Matrix was a movie of the mind, this was simply a movie of the wallet. And like 'bought' wisdom it too rang hollow in both head and heart.
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