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Wolf Creek 2 (2013)
Faster, louder, funnier, but not quite as good.
'Wolf Creek 2', is basically 'Wolf Creek' turned up to 11 and infused with a bit of 'Mad Max 2' (which was actually a good idea) and 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (which wasn't). There was a lot more of Mick Taylor this time around, but that's not necessarily a good thing either; moreover, he's now become one of those slightly clichéd horror-movie 'supervillains' with ultra-stealth powers who also knows exactly where to look for his desperately hiding victims. Mick was scarier when he was roaming the Outback callously 'living off' the backpackers; giving him a 'Saw'-style 'torture-lair' over-egged the 'horror' elements. Plus the screenplay's many victims and wild vehicle-stunts strained credibility far too far. All in all it wasn't actually too bad though; Australia is well-depicted as both beautiful and terrifying (sometimes at the same time) and Mick is such a vividly-realised character that he can shoulder much of the movie's load. Hearing him opine profanely on the Eurotrash who dare to backpack through 'his' Australia is actually kind of funny. As a Kiwi, these loud, brash 'fair dinkum Aussie' caricatures are long-familiar and very comfortable, and frankly we occasionally have our own problems with 'Eurotrash' messing up OUR country
So yeah; not as good as the first one but turn your brain down a little and you'll have a good time.
Picked up at a party and still there the next morning...And the next...
A movie about a woman who has an ill-considered one-night-stand with a stranger at a party, and of course she gets the STD from hell... (Mild spoilers ahead) It was pretty far-fetched; what should have taken weeks only took days, and the nature of disease itself was just a tiny bit over-the-top (er, maggots? Re-cut and lose the maggots, seriously). At times 'Contracted' comes across as just another rather clumsily- wielded 'cautionary tale', along the lines of 'Reefer Madness' (1936) or the lesser-known 'Sex Madness' (1938). 'Contracted' was reasonably well-acted, well-directed and so on, but we could really have used several weeks of 'reveal', which would have been far creepier than 'wham-bam-another day, another horrible symptom for you to go 'ooh-yuck' at'. Without a slow, protracted reveal, 'Contracted' relies upon a rapid series of 'body horror' incidents for its scares, and indeed there was also a lot of 'The Fly' (1986) about it (right down to blatantly stealing that movie's 'fingernail scene'). Presumably the need to push the story along contributed to the movie's slightly uneven quality but in the final analysis 'Contracted' really isn't that bad, and the 'showdown on the freeway' ending was quite a good one.
Bland and largely unnecessary but no disaster.
This remake of the 1976 classic wasn't as bad as I'd expected, but it wasn't all that good, either; just kind of meh. Aside from some cellphone use and the 'innovation' of a cruel schoolmate posting phone- camera footage of Carrie's traumatic first menstruation on the Net, it's practically a shot-for-shot remake of the 1976 original. The acting was actually pretty good overall, but despite being closer in age to the teen-aged character it's painfully obvious that Chloe Grace Moretz just doesn't have the same kind of gravitas that Sissy Spacek brought to the role, and she suffers by comparison. Making Carrie the most conventionally attractive girl in the whole movie also destroys a crucial point of audience identification with the character. When Carrie boldly ventures out of her comfort zone and dresses up for the prom, unusual-looking Spacek was endearingly awkward and heartbreakingly vulnerable. Moretz just looks prettier. On the other hand, Julianne Moore stole the show with a captivating performance as Carrie's psychotically religious mother. The direction was a bit pedestrian, too, and so what you end up with is kind of like one of those foreign movies remade by Hollywood and losing something crucial in the translation. In fact, it felt more like a TV movie adaption than a cinematic release. The 2013 'Carrie' is by no means a disaster, but neither is it a kick-ass triumph either; The pivotal prom scene wasn't quite as 'epic' as it was in the 1976 original, and moreover it is Spacek's monumentally creepy blood-covered stare from that version which remains the enduring iconic image most closely associated with the story. Moretz never comes close. Like most remakes of foreign movies it's just an unnecessary 'cover version', destined to being decisively overshadowed by the original.
After Earth (2013)
I Have a Theory...
What if you were a highly successful actor and you wanted to boost your son's career in the same profession, but bless him, he's got all the talent of the third tree along in a kindergarten recital? Will Smith's gambit seems to be to play a character who is able to show little or no emotion, in the hope that this will detract attention to his son Jaden, who is unable to portray anything but. Jaden is a graduate of the school of 'if you need to act emotionally, pretend you've lost your cellphone'. He wanders through this movie fleeing from painfully rendered CGI creatures wearing a gape-mouthed 'duh' expression which makes him look more than a bit 'special needs'. All this not to mention the weird 'Southern American' accent everyone seems to have taken up in the future, and the creepy undertone of racism a la 'white people and things are bad, m'kay? It's a bad movie, just all over the place.
909 Experiment (2000)
'909 Experiment' (2000) is a 'found footage' horror which strongly anticipates 'Paranormal Activity' (2007). It's apparently unreleased, but you can find it online. If you want to, that is. It's about a young couple who investigate 'electromagnetic activity' at a big secluded lakeside house. At the risk of ruining the storyline, let us just say that writer- director-star Wayne A. Smith must have really, really liked 'The Shining'. '909 Experiment' had a few, sparse moments of atmosphere but there were also more than a few bits of irksomely silly stuff. For instance, the bit where the guy gets up out of bed to go get a knife with a goofy 'sleepwalking' grin on his face and walking in a supremely dorky posture pretty much destroys any feeling of horror the movie has built up thus far. In fact, watching Wayne A. Smith mince his way through the house is the strongest memory I was left with. Once seen, you can't unsee it. Ah well, you gotta kiss a few frogs, eh?
The Conspiracy (2012)
The makers needed to conspire a better storyline.
'The Conspiracy' (2012) promised much and delivered disappointing results. Basically these two American guys begin a documentary about a local conspiracy theory nut and discover that he's not wrong about a very private club for world leaders which sets global policy. They attempt to infiltrate it and complications ensue. It started off well but ran aground about a third of the way in, whereupon the plot holes and predictability of the storyline became painful distractions. It was all far too easy for the guys to get inside the club and blindingly obvious what was going to happen. Ah well, things don't always do what they say on the tin. This 'shaggy dog story' was like one of those notoriously misleading 'serving suggestions' on a pack of risotto; you order what looks to be a banquet and you get served up a snack.
Sordid, scummy, scabby and septic...Music's good though.
Last night I watched 'Johnny Thunders: Born To Lose, The Last Rock and Roll Movie' (1999), although such was its harrowing nature that 'endured' fits better. He starts off in the New York Dolls; glam-punks with attitude and style, and -crucially- two guys who aren't completely stupid (David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain). Away from the limos and the satin Johnny and his drug-buddies set about gradually destroying themselves until you can barely watch them doing it. A parade of the dead and dying (one guy clearly has AIDS) fill in the tale, but all you really have to see are those last two chilling photos on a Bangkok tattooist's wall, in which Thunders looks gravely thin and pained, full of disease and not happy to even be alive. I love his and the Dolls' music, but this (occasionally inept and incoherent) documentary made me feel like taking a shower. And never taking drugs again.
American Mary (2012)
Unusual, captivating, repellent, and very, very good.
'American Mary' (2012) is the story of a would-be surgeon (she's attending medical college) with money problems who suddenly finds 'underground' work lucrative. Soon she's performing increasingly freakish 'body modification' procedures for fabulous sums, and her 'fame' grows. This one played out like a black comedy until around a quarter of the way in when something nasty happens to Mary which skews the screenplay into something a lot darker. It is an unusual movie but one which held my complete attention until the end; not something which happens every time with the horror genre. There's a little of the David Cronenberg, even David Lynch about it. Bonus; the classical music on the soundtrack (especially at the end) was lovely enough for me to seek out on the Net.
Shine a Light (2008)
The crumbling Stones.
The Rolling Stones, filmed by Martin Scorsese is a great idea; it's just a pity that it had to happen a good thirty years too late. Contrasted with the punk-inspired, on-form Stones caught on their 'Some Girls' 1978 tour, this DVD just looks a little sad. Respect is due to Mick Jagger, who is still a compelling frontman, A-class guitarist Ronnie Wood and the ultimate garage-band drummer that is Charlie Watts, but Keith... Keith Richards gets a lot further these days on his personality than his guitar playing, which has steadily ossified and actually decreased in abundance over the decades. Since the blazing lead-rhythm 'Chuck Berry meets the Blues giants at a garage-punk gig' style seen so delightfully extensively during the 'Some Girls: Live in Texas '78' DVD, Keith has devolved into someone who plays less and less and poses more and more. Here he seems to play around a quarter (if that) of what he used to play, leaving Ronnie and Mick to take up the slack, which in all fairness, they do admirably. In fact, one is tempted to say that Jagger is now a better (and certainly more prolific) guitarist than Keith, who seems content to noodle about with the odd occasional lick rather than the full-blooded rhythm-chording he used to do. It has been said that he hasn't been the same since he fell out of that tree a few years ago and given this evidence it is difficult to disagree . Elsewhere, in contrast with the stripped-down 1978 tour, there are more people on stage who aren't the Rolling Stones than who are, leaving the actual band-members almost as guest stars at their own concert. The less said about actual guests Christina Aguilera and the execrable performance by Jack White the better (Buddy Guy fits in well though), and despite Scorsese's attempts to create a sense of excitement with his myriad of camera- shots, this gig is a damp squib. On viewing 'Shine a Light', one unhesitatingly salutes the efforts of the increasingly musicianly Jagger (although one strongly suspects that this is a measure adopted perforce to cover Keith's disturbing infirmity), and concedes to Ronnie Wood's stalwart guitar show-carrying brilliance, but it is not enough to save the experience from the near-heartbreaking conclusion that the ageing 'band', with its supporting superstructure of extra musicians, really is milking the last dregs of a career which should have been ended a long time ago.
Rolling Stones plus a dose of punk made a great combination.
After a trend-setting career as the 'bad boys of rock'n'roll' in the 1960s, come the 1970s the Rolling Stones began to subside into a kind of comfortable corporate entity with progressively less inspired music and performances. 'Love You Live', the enervated, heavily-overdubbed 1977 album drawn from 1975 performances, represents the nadir of the band's 1970s releases. During the time between the tour and release of that album, punk rock broke and immediately condemned as irrelevant poseurs all but a very few 'old guard' rock stars (David Bowie and perhaps one or two others escaped unscathed). Forced to confront their own increasing disengagement from the current rock scene, the Rolling Stones reacted by cutting out the excess, playing hard and writing 'Some Girls', released in 1978 and celebrated as one of their career- best albums. 'Some Girls: Live in Texas '78' presents a conspicuously energised-by-punk Stones, with upbeat tempos and a sublimely strutting Jagger wearing vinyl pants and the same 'Destroy' design t-shirt as worn by Johnny Rotten a year before. The set list is basically the titular album played live with some Stones classics mixed in for good measure, and the whole package makes for easily the best live Rolling Stones DVD of them all. Turn it up, sing along and dance all around your living room; this burst of energy is invigorating enough to delight even those who detested what the band had become by 1977. It didn't last, but here are the real Rolling Stones, back on form and proving they still had it even as the Clash et al were snidely (and not a little jealously, as it turned out) saying they were through.
Delightfully creepy Japanese mockumentary does the business.
'Okaruto (Occult)' (2009) is a Japanese 'mockumentary' in which the movie- makers seek to investigate an apparently random stabbing attack on a remote bridge, and discover a far larger and very disquieting force is at work which is only growing in power and influence. It's a slow-builder, but once you're hooked, you have to watch until the end. The final CGI- composed shot is perhaps just a little bit of a letdown (as are some of the other 'filmed' effects during the movie), but it sure is fun getting there, as the clues mount up into an inescapable, tense conclusion. The acting is excellent throughout, and best of all is that you can see it for free on YouTube.
The Conjuring (2013)
All conjuring tricks, but no real magic.
As a kid I used to like staying up late to watch those old early-70s TV horror movies like 'The House That Would Not Die' (1970), 'Crawlspace' (1972), 'Don't Be Afraid of the Dark' and 'The Night Stalker' (both 1973), 'Trilogy of Terror' (1976; the one with the wee doll chasing Karen Black around) and so on, and 'The Conjuring' (2013) is basically another one of those (it's even set in 1971). Oh, it has a few bells and whistles (like CGI effects and some slick bigger-budget moves) but it's basically cut from the same cloth as some of the more mediocre ones I'd have seen back then (actually, those last three TV movies named are pretty good, and they're up on YouTube too). 'The Conjuring' has a large family moving into a big old haunted house (it's a cool-looking house, BTW) wherein they experience untoward goings-on and soon realise that it's haunted by the spirit of a nasty old witch. Complications follow, and so do a whole bunch of clichés and non-scariness. What's more is that the movie has an annoyingly conservative tone; for instance there is a distinctly pro-Christian stance to the story, to the point that when the evil entity is being vanquished a 'heavenly choir' soundtrack breaks out. I guess that's what happens when the mainstream finally takes notice of independent stuff; they scoop it up, dumb it down and sell it to the masses like it's something new. Ah well, that's the way the cookies crumble.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
The not-as-great-as-it-thinks-it-is 'Gatsby'
My brother and his wife wanted to watch 'the Great Gatsby' in the comfort of their own home and so I downloaded a reasonably good copy (there was the silhouette of someone's head in the bottom left-hand corner throughout and somebody else got up and left an hour or so in, but it was otherwise pretty watchable) and saw it myself. Lots of money spent, lots of CGI, a lot of quick cutting (forcing a rapid pace), and frankly old sports, I didn't give a damn. None of the characters were engaging enough to warrant serious attention for the 143 minute running time, and the result was an over-stylised (modern hip-hop on the soundtrack, Leonardo DiCaprio's glassy demeanour and bizarre accent, etc.), emotionally vacuous two-hours- plus. I just didn't buy bland, mousy Carey Mulligan as someone for whom Gatsby would risk -and ultimately lose- everything, and Tobey Maguire's 'Nick Carraway' wasn't much more than a exposition plot device. Ah well, at least we got to see it over beer and snacks instead of a crowded, expensive night out at the cinema.
Europa Report (2013)
Reasonably effective space odyssey.
This is a 'found footage' horror with a sci-fi twist, concerning as it does a manned (and womanned) mission to find life on the titular moon of Jupiter. Once the spaceship arrived, contact was lost and here we are presented with the ship's cameras' missing footage. The budget was obviously pretty low (and sci-fi notoriously chews through the cash), but the real problem was with the characters, none of whom were sufficiently likable or interesting enough to make much headway. Moreover, the intrusive interviews with the project's manager would have been so much better were she able to act. Although the whole plot was (no pun intended) far-fetched (a mission to Europa? All that way to do what a couple of robots could do (and keep doing for years?), 'Europa Report' wasn't actually all that bad; it kept up a pleasantly suspenseful vibe throughout. At least it was a lot better than that awful 'Apollo 18'.
The Helpers (2012)
A mercifully short trek through tiresomely familiar ground...
I thoroughly enjoyed the 'Saw' series (give or take an entry or two), because their plotting, acting and inventive 'traps' lifted them well above the norm. Their main saving grace however was the solid vein of black humour, something which accorded them a standing with the similarly fun 'Dr Phibes' movies of the early 1970s. There was a conspicuously low budget with 'The Helpers', but so there was with the first 'Saw', and the creators made a virtue of it. A low budget isn't the problem here, and neither for the most part is the acting. What utterly destroyed my enjoyment of 'The Helpers' is a distinct lack of ideas. This means that the movie falls squarely into the category of 'torture porn', and simulated snuff movies are just a tedious one-by-one blood-bath which follow a depressingly well-trodden path to the inevitable 'it's not really over' ending and the raucous music accompanying the final credits. Thank goodness it was so short.
Welcome to the Jungle (2007)
Up the creek without a paddle and good riddance to the whole thing.
I'm an avid fan of 'found footage' movies, be they horror or not. When done well, the genre packs a wicked punch as is the case with the likes of 'The Blair Witch Project', 'Zero Day', 'Exhibit A', 'REC', 'Trollhunter', etcetera. However, there comes a time when all interested explorers of the genre have to put their foot down and announce 'here there be garbage'. Not only is the story-line in 'WTTJ' unforgivably stupid (as if these four completely inexperienced idiots are going to succeed in finding the long-lost Michael Rockefeller on a sudden whim where countless others' well-funded, intensely researched and painstakingly planned expeditions into the un-mapped jungle-clad heart of New Guinea have failed), but the characters are uniformly detestable. Note to aspiring movie makers; all movies (and especially horror) are inestimably aided by having characters the audience likes. Just think of 'Jaws', 'The Evil Dead', 'La Cabina' or even 'Psycho', all of which boast engaging, well-written (and acted) characters whom we actually enjoy following through their tribulations. With 'WTTJ' we viewers are served up four lame-brains so monumentally repellent that we are all but cheering as they get bumped off. Add to this a couple of script howlers (the interior of New Guinea is apparently inhabited by one single cannibal tribe whose home territory stretches several kilometers down one river, and these chaps are in the habit of carrying their human repasts so unbelievably quickly through the thick jungle that our 'heroes' can travel for hours on a fast-moving raft and randomly disembark to miraculously discover their half-eaten companions staked out therein), and some tediously pedestrian direction and you have a one-star-wonder which only rates that because you can't go any lower. Avoid this beggar's banquet like you would a cannibal's barbecue.
Greystone Park (2012)
'Found footage' which should have stayed lost.
It has been said before, but there comes a moment in everyone's personal 'mapping out' of a genre when one has to put their foot down and say 'here be the bad stuff'. Note the curious non-found footage intro bit with the director's more famous dad Oliver talking around a full dinner table and languidly huffing pot. Eh? Anyway, three unlikeable ADD-afflicted idiots (they can't keep a torch trained on something for less than a split second) break into a 'haunted' asylum to look for ghosts. Here's the sort of incomprehensible, tedious item full of improbably filmed content in conditions of poor visual clarity (honestly, this movie has the worst lighting I have ever seen) which gives the 'found footage' genre a bad name. Camera and torches flick and dart in non-stop headache-inducing spurts, rarely synchronising for longer than a second or so, and of course if we had a video camera and there was a serial killer or vengeful spirit (or both, as seems to be the case here) on our tail, we would take care to do our 'panicked running' with the camera carefully pointing ahead. And so it goes, until the thoroughly mystifying finale, which although frustratingly unsatisfying, nevertheless brings a welcome 'cool side of the pillow' relief that the ordeal is over. Over for the viewer, that is.
Great movie, except for the shark...
Saw this again on TV last night and it still works; it's one of the great monster movies alright, but the only thing wrong with it is the monster. Oh, the vast majority of 'Jaws' is spot-on; Spielberg has correctly concentrated on the characters and not the situation. The mayor's grotesquely 'loud' jackets are just a little too obvious a labeling device but otherwise the town and its characters ring true, and we are swept along with these ordinary local folk as the plot develops. Robert Shaw's Quint has a few rather hammy scenery-chewing moments, and the actor does occasionally appear to have had himself a wee private party before filming some scenes. Still, he is supposed to be a local weirdo, and so his 'crusty old sea-dog' shtick isn't too much of a distraction. The changing relationships between the three men on the 'Orca' is another welcome subtlety often missing from horror movies. After establishing a supremely sinister presence throughout the movie, we must inevitably see the shark, and the more we do, the less we want to. The much-trumpeted animatronic creature doesn't really look alive, and even back in 1975 when audiences had no access to movies outside of a theatre, the moment when the 'shark' rears up out of the water and flops against the stern of the Orca looked absurdly like the attack of a colossal salami sausage. It's not a perfect movie, but 'Jaws' is most of the way there, and aspiring horror writers could do way worse than take a leaf or three from its meticulous care with the characters. After all, they are our stand-ins, and if we don't identify with them then horror turns to farce or worse still, tedium.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
And they call this is a 'classic'.
Somebody actually wrote this? A lot of it seems improvised, and not well. In fact, it almost seems like someone simply transcribed some bad improv and that became the script. Am I supposed to identify with anyone in this '80s Classic'? All of the characters are less than likable and none of them ring true. Is Ally Sheedy's character supposed to be autistic or something? Because otherwise I don't get it. Scenery-chewing Judd Nelson comes off less a troubled tough guy than a slightly flamboyant bitchy queen. And he looks a good ten years too old to be going to high school. Not only do the cast not talk like school students, they mostly don't even look like them. Although billed as a 'comedy', there's not a lot to crack a smile over, although when that nerdy kid dropped the news he'd been caught with a gun at school and the others automatically assumed he intended to kill himself, I had to laugh. These days kids don't bring guns to school to necessarily kill just themselves. Frankly what this dated piece of pointless pontification most closely resembles is one of those 'workshopped' plays in which irredeemably pretentious folk get to indulge themselves and create something truly painful. In this case, it is five cipher-characters who just will not shut up for a couple of hours. In lieu of a proper ending, we get a quick dance montage (note Emilio Estevez' total lack of dancing ability) and everyone is everyone's mate for some reason. And you know what? Turns out the smartest guy is the janitor. I hate this movie. There, I actually typed it.
[Rec]³: Génesis (2012)
In all fairness, this movie had two good things about it; a great pre-credits sequence, and a genuinely funny 'tongue' scene towards the end. I'll give it those moments, although the rest of REC3: Genesis was a complete disaster. No sooner was the taut, tense 'found footage' pre-credit scene over before it took a wild deviation off into the realm of pulp comedy-horror and basically turned into a Spanish remake of 'Shaun of the Dead'. I could just about handle the idea of REC played for laughs, but surely not under the same brand-name as that excellent first movie, a truly great modern horror. This is almost like a silly parody, complete with a chainsaw-wielding heroine and funny zombies. There's a running gag about a guy dressed up as 'John Sponge', a reference to 'Spongebob'. It says much about the quality of the 'comedy' that 'John Sponge' never takes his ludicrous costume off even whilst toting a gun. Which is most funny, especially if you're 13 or drunk. I'm neither, and in fact after viewing REC3: Genesis it feels oddly like somebody owes me money...
Dire 1976 'TV special' returns to haunt the living...
They just didn't know what to do with Paul Lynde, did they? Hence he and his 'snarky queen' persona were consistently shoehorned into ill-conceived projects; a lame sitcom, one-off 'guest star' roles, and this now-notorious TV special. Once languishing in peaceful obscurity, it is doubtful whether most of us would have heard of the 'PLHS' if it weren't for the well-known writeup on the Jabootu site (which is a lot funnier than the actual show). The 'PLHS' is more a comedy of errors than a comedy special. For one thing the writing is atrociously unfunny. That is not a good look for a TV comedy special, and neither are the flat, unimaginative direction and bizarre guests (Roz 'Pinky Tuscadero' Kelly is a talent-free zone and in Kiss' 'comic banter' segment with Lynde they all look slightly annoyed and very bored, especially Ace Frehley). Given the general hastily-written and slapped-together feel, no-one behind the scenes was trying very hard here. Whilst the result is a time capsule of the truly ghastly depths of 1970s TV for modern audiences to ridicule, both Lynde and the viewing public deserved better than this.
Beer and a couple of mates help immensely.
You know the story of this utterly bananas 'found footage' movie, so here are a few supplementary observations.
-Crouching in the woods watching the alien the three sons noisily shush each other quiet, then when the alien sees them, they run away shrieking like little girls.
-The aliens are armed with laser pointers. Guess they stopped in at an office supplies place to tool up before going a-probing and a-cow-tipping.
-Drinking game: Every time someone says 'what was that?' More hardcore drinking game: Every time the mum is seen with her wine glass.
-Tommy can't film the dead alien upstairs because older brother Kurt says it might not be dead yet. Yet it's okay for everyone else to crowd closely around the 'corpse' and obscure it from the camera?
-Why is the grand-daughter so calm? Because you can't genuinely terrify a wee kid just to make a TV movie and so the script has her 'in league with the aliens'. Or something.
-Nobody ever threatens to shove that damned video camera up Tommy's butt. Video cameras capture SOUND as well as pictures, so we didn't have to see everything. Some subtitling of conversations on a black screen would have been a welcome atmospheric touch.
-Did the editor forget to dub in the grand-daughter's 'amazing' piano playing?
-The mum is remarkably hot, even behind those silly 'old lady' glasses. Kurt was brave to leave big hunky Matthew behind with all those sexy women...
Never Too Young to Rock (1976)
Dredged from the tar-pits of 1970s British cinema...
Glam rock had its heady heyday around 1972-73, and then subsided slowly and painfully over the next few years until disco, punk and new wave arose to prominence. As you can see however, this movie came out in mid-1976. Bowie had time to already have been a soul-singer and was then getting into Euro-funk. Marc Bolan was now another 'soul' singer and Gary Glitter had tried and failed at that and had 'retired'. The New York Dolls had split in 1975, Roxy Music too, Alice Cooper was doing ballads and booze in equal amounts and in general rock culture no longer viewed glam and its ideas as a going concern, not when you had the Sex Pistols currently tearing up the rules. 'NTYTR' is a cheap (honestly, the production values would have shamed 'On The Buses'), cheerful (well, there are a lot of silly noises and stuff when people have fights) and thoroughly exploitative effort which manages to make Britain look like the most miserable, cold, grimy, rain-sodden and permanently overcast hole on earth. The acting is strictly 'school pantomime', the script makes no sense and the direction of both 'story' and music is astonishingly poor. So then let us view the bands as the 'lucky dips' in a barrel of dank, decaying sawdust. There are some memorable pop tunes (albeit mostly a couple of years out of date by 1976), but the bands are a sorry lot All are 'off the boil' career-wise; in fact someone should have had a word with jowly, pudgy Mud vocalist Les Gray about maybe laying off the pies and chips before filming began so that your brightly coloured attention-seeking costumes don't look dangerously 'snug'. Look, 'YNTYTR' is confusing, slightly sad and actually somewhat depressing, and even if you were a fan of the third-rate acts (Slik? Who the bloody hell are they? Oh right; that's a game but evidently embarrassed pre-Ultravox Midge Ure on guitar), then rest assured that you will find something which will hit you in the pit of your stomach, somewhere. And not in a good way, either. In closing, the movie's title is a bit misleading, since I can't remember seeing anyone under 25 in the whole thing. Most professional glam musicians were holdovers from the 1960s who shrugged, sighed, put on glittery outfits and acted a little 'swish' to keep up with the times. Anyone with talent withdrew and moved on. These are the clock-punching guys who couldn't or wouldn't move on, gelled forever in the congealment at the bottom of the cinematic barrel that is 'YNTYTR'.
Pamela's Prayer (1998)
The horror movie that got away!
This is a prime example of an enjoyably bad movie; one whilst failing completely at its primary purpose of transporting the viewer with skill, talent and the 'magic of the movies', nevertheless succeeds by entertaining via sheer vigorous ineptitude. The other reviews here relate exhaustively most of what ails 'Pamela's Prayer', so I'll just make a few additional observations.
-Rick Scheideman's performance as Pamela Bucklin's steadfastly Bronze-Age dad Wayne is worth noting as a contender for one of the ten creepiest fathers in cinema history. Even forgetting Wayne Bucklin's jaw-dropping 'Old Testament' values and possessive-obsessive behaviour re daughter Pamela, his psycho pinned-pupil stoned stare and skin-crawlingly quiet, measured tone of voice (neither of which he deviates from throughout) will send chills down your backbone. It is as though he were constantly keeping up an artificially calm appearance whilst stifling the seething cauldron of inhuman rage inside. Quite seriously, if you'd begun watching 'Pamela's Prayer' without being told it was a 'Christian movie', you could be forgiven for assuming that the palpably sinister father would soon begin eliminating permanently any hapless kid unfortunate enough to fall for his Pamela. It is a pity that Scheideman only appeared in this one movie, because on the strength of 'Pamela's Prayer' he could easily have carved out a long career in horror. They could have had a 'Wayne Bucklin' franchise.
-Yes, the acting is pretty bad, but even the best actors would have trouble with a script which seeks to trumpet Taliban-like family relationships which border upon child abuse. The father has never missed an evening praying at his daughter's bedside until she's almost a teenager? She's gone through childhood with no school camps, no sleepovers, no nothing except Daddy? He lost his wife, and apparently his mind, too. He also seems to have no friends. This movie is just crying out to be remade as a horror.
-Also note that the wardrobe department have decided to clothe Pamela in the least sexy garb possible; all bulky jackets and baggy trousers. In addition, notice that the only boys who are interested in Pamela seem remarkably less-than-macho. Why so? In any case, Pamela's eventual beau gets her overbearingly Patriarchal dad's approval, possibly because Fredric exhibits an eerily calm demeanour and creepy stoned stare similar to his own. And they both work in a film library. In 1990. Ever heard of 'videotape', guys? It's really catching on.
-Oh, and in case you're squeamish about lip-contact (which this movie seems to regard as the first step on the Stairway to Hell), you will be relieved to learn that the movie cuts away just before the happy couple actually perform that first kiss as newlyweds. So you won't need to hide your eyes. Guess to where -or rather to whom- it cuts?
Worried About the Boy (2010)
You might prefer a nice cup of tea...
Sure, Culture Club were a pleasantly colourful English pop group from the wacky pastel-and-frills, gender-bending pop scene of the early 180s. I'm not a fan, although they did have a catchy song or two and an amusingly cute line with the press regarding sex, drugs and other facets of fame. However, I am an historian and an appreciator of bio-flicks, and this one does no-one any favours. Much of the movie's tiny budget seems to have been spent on costumes and makeup, and of course no-one goes outside for any length of time lest viewers catch sight of something which is not of the early 1980s. Also, I never knew that the interior of the famous Blitz club resembled someone's rather shabby living-room. Nor did I realise that the patrons were exactly the same every night or that they didn't seem to change their clothes. Unless of course the director simply filmed all of the scenes set at Blitz in one go to save money and time. There are virtually no contemporary period 1980s pop-songs, undoubtedly because the movie makers couldn't afford them. Instead there are cheesy 'approximations' of the likes of Duran Duran and New Order, along with much bland, anonymous 'techno' filler. George's brush with Malcom McLaren and Bow Wow Wow (ironically a band with a much more interesting story) is told, amid a confusing screenplay which makes much of confusing flash-backs and flash-forwards. Plus the time-period under consideration ends at 1987, so don't expect to see The (aged, balding) former Boy sweeping the streets to pay his debts to society. Okay, the acting is actually pretty good but sadly the movie is just another conspicuously cheap TV-movie styled bio-pic. And by the way, if you're waiting for Culture Club to form and start playing already, be prepared to sit it out until the very end and an incomplete, horribly-mimed rendition of 'Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?'