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Bitterly disappointed in Roth's Lame Love Letter
17 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This should have been a film that packed a visceral punch, this should have been a film that left me gasping at the horrors unfolding on screen before my eyes, it should have been a love letter to Ruggero Deodato's infinitely superior Cannibal Holocaust - needless to say it wasn't.

Eli Roth has done yet another hatchet job on a potentially good film. He had a solid cast, what looked like a reasonable budget, gorgeous locations and KNB on the makeup effects. Well, he screwed it up...again!

The film has it's good points, all of which lie within the first half hour or so. The character development is solid, the storyline is refreshingly linear and simply told and the plane crash is handled well. It's after said crash that the wheels come off.

This is where the film should have jumped into high gear and sent its audience screaming in fear. It's weak, it's predictable and above all - it's not in the least bit scary or ultra violent - in fact this felt like a Cannibal Holocaust Lite, for the "Scream" TV series generation.

The gore was mostly silly and unoffensive, the cinematography was way too clean and lacked the true grit that Holocaust had years earlier and there was little to no authenticity in the cannibal scenes.

Though not a terrible film - I'm being harsh purely based on my level of anger. This is coming from a man who claims to love Cannibal Holocaust but does't have the foggiest idea as to why that film works so well.

For those of you that know Deodato's work - Avoid!
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Godzilla (2014)
Well advertised schlock but nothing more!
18 May 2014
No better than the 1998 version with Matthew Broderick but the difference is, at least that film had its elements of camp and fun. This one is just plain dreary.

The first half an hour of the film is great, emotionally intense, dramatic, suspenseful but then the film degenerates in Hollywood CGI porn for the remainder of the films over 2 hour running time. The lead is also way too young, again Hollywood ageism and stupid casting, to have a son of seven or so years old.

The 3D was nothing short of annoying and painfully distracting in fact whilst watching this film I made a mental note to make it the last time that I see a film in 3D, all it does is remove the viewer from the experience not immerse them.

Overall this was not the revelatory existential monster movie I was expecting but was merely more Hollywood popcorn fodder that the teens will love but it'll leave everyone over 25 stone cold. Bitterly disappointed. Well advertised but falsely advertised - do not be fooled by the hype.
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Tonally all over the place
18 May 2014
This is one very confused piece of cinema. It veers wildly between laugh out loud comedy, dark and dreary drama and existential TV movie of the week.

In short the parts do not add up to make a very satisfying whole, which is a shame since Costner is great in the role. He's really given a good character to chew on here but the rest of the film is a mess.

Two people are to blame here, the scriptwriter Besson, and the director McG (does anyone remember his other travesties)

This film suffers from both schizophrenia and kitchen sink mentality. It throws everything into the mix in the hopes that it'll work - it mostly does not!
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Devil's Pass (2013)
A solid entry in the found footage canon
18 May 2014
Yes...yes it's found footage - I see many of you rolling your eyes already but in fairness when this is executed properly, like it is here it can be a very effective way of generating some genuine scares and suspense.

Kudos to director Renny Harlin for crafting a very suspenseful mockumentary with a great cast delivering excellent performances. This is a far superior film to The much hyped Blair Witch Project from 1999. It takes the found footage concept but doesn't overdo it with deliberate jump cuts and over the top shaky-cam technique - it simply tells a really good scary story within the confines of the documentary structure.

Don't be put off by the fact that this is found footage. Found footage doesn't always mean "lazy movie-making"

The snowbound location is genuinely creepy and gives just the right amount of "middle of nowhere" vibe, the script is clever and well thought out and the direction from Harlin, is strong. Take a look and surprise yourself with this hidden gem.
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Pretentious Rubbish
21 July 2013
A threadbare plot DRAAAAWN out over a scant 89 minutes that feels like 3 hours, I get that this director is an auteur, boy do I get it!

The only good thing about this film is that it looks beautiful and pays homage to both Argento and Lynch and Kristen Scott Thomas' performance.

Otherwise there is literally nothing to recommend this film. From sleepwalk inducing performances to some rather unimaginative gore I found the whole tawdry affair to be deadly dull.

The director also seems to be trying way to hard for my liking, steeping every scene in pretentious symbolism to the point that you can almost hear him droning on in press junkets as to how deep the whole film really is.

It's not deep, it's dull. It's not inventive, it's derivative of better films like Blue Velvet, so derivative in fact that I almost expected to see Kyle Maclachlan pop up and say, "Here I am"

The only reason this gets 3 stars is because it's prettily shot. Avoid.
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Odd Thomas (2013)
Fabulously Fresh and Funny
7 July 2013
Anton Yelchin is a very likable performer and Odd Thomas cashes in on his screen personality in spades. Stephen Sommers, who's been away from the directors chair for way too long, pens a witty and fresh screenplay that zips along and keeps the audience thoroughly entertained every step of the way.

The one liners are spouted fast and furiously, the dialogue sparkles and there are plot twists and turns a plenty. The film defies being classified into any one genre. It's a little horror, a little fantasy, a little science fiction and a little mystery, none of it boring or expositional.

It's also great to see Dafoe doing a little mainstream fluff piece for a change. But just as you think you know exactly where this film is going, it surprises you yet again and takes a U-turn in another direction. I realise the target market here are probably teens, but I must confess that I loved it.

A very solid 7 out of 10.
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Witches of Eastwick meets Twilight
7 July 2013
Admittedly the above heading reeks of cynicism and that's really not the intention. It just aptly sums up the overall impression that Beautiful Creatures leaves you with.

Some may moan and groan but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Twilight is garbage, teen girl fodder, I'm sure most over the age of 30 would agree, however when you inject a bit of decent darkness into the screenplay and pepper your supporting cast with fabulous performances from 3 Oscar winners, you're bound to end up with something halfway decent and Beautiful Creatures is just that, halfway decent.

Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson and Viola Davis steal every scene they're in, specially Thompson. She's on top form here, clearly having a field day chewing the scenery like Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick.

The biggest crime this film commits is that it's all too light, too watered down, too teen orientated and this is its downfall. It should have been played as a straight ahead horror/fantasy about witches and witchcraft. The romance angle is pretty well handled but should have been downplayed a little more. The humour should also have been reigned in here and there.

The whole affair should have been played straighter, darker, scarier, There's a great film in here trying to get out but with the tween-girl market in mind that was never going to happen.

What we're left with is a fun, light, slightly subversive take on witchcraft that's an entertaining way to kill 2 hours.

6 out of 10
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Distinctly Average
6 July 2013
Friday the 13th (1980) was a watershed film. Essentially it made the slasher sub-genre profitable and a string of pale imitations were made between 1980 and 1985.

The new retread of Friday the 13th (2009) feels very much like one of these imitations. It's not even as much fun as some of the worst sequels in the Friday the 13th franchise. (Parts V and VIII spring to mind)

While not a terrible film this remake feels lazy. The character development is lazy, the exposition feels lazy and even the gore is lazy. This is film-making for the smart phone generation.

While the original is by no means a "Godfather" like classic it does retain a cult-classic status all of its own. This charm is what's lacking in the modern version. The producers have seemingly ticked all the boxes; boobs, blood and banging, but, it's all very slick, overly polished and a little lifeless.

This new retread retains none of the suspense, the surprise or even the grit of the original. While the production values are definitely higher, what modern film-makers don't seem to understand about remakes is that it's the very low budget nature of these films where they derive so much of their charm.

While Marcus Nispel is a more than competent film-maker and his own remake for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is in fact very good, this one misses the mark for me. It's distinctly average at best.
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Anna Karenina (I) (2012)
Self Indulgent and vacuous
6 July 2013
I was intrigued on seeing this based on the superb trailer the marketing department had put together but on my first viewing I found myself resisting sleep every step of the way.

It's pretentious, plodding, vacuous and over long with some seriously sub-standard performances in something that should have been Oscar bait.

The entire film felt stagy and contrived. I understand that was the vision of the director but it just didn't work. It just felt incredibly heavy-handed and disingenuous. Reviewers all seem to be in love with this film but I always like to hark back to a classic phrase that needs no definition,

"An Ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure!"
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The Kiss (1988)
Entertaining Time Waster
6 July 2013
It's 2013, and there's a distinct lack of originality in the horror field at present, what with all the remakes, reboots or re-imaginings.

The Kiss is by no means a classic of the genre but it is a fun way to kill 90 minutes and (shock! horror!) it's original. The ever wonderful Meredith Salenger here is pitch perfect in the lead. (Why she isn't working more is beyond me)

Joanna Pacula is also fabulous as the villainess of the piece. She's sexy, bitchy and suitably over the top. The film has its flaws; namely a god awful puppet kitty scare, but on the whole it has the sleek polish of any 80's studio horror flick. Tri-Star had quite a good track record with horror back then.

Sure it's cheesy but at least it's fun. The Kiss also has some genuine suspense and some good gory thrills here and there.

Big hair, big scares, big effects and big performances make this one stand out a little more than it deserves to. Welcome back to the 80's...

A solid six of out ten.
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Dark Tide (2012)
Miss Berry, Fire your Agent...
6 July 2013
What possessed someone with Halle Berry's acting chops to take on this very tepid melodrama is anyones guess.

The film starts out promisingly enough with a suspenseful shark attack that delivers the goods, but quickly degenerates in soap-opera-ish melodrama that never really engages or interests the viewer on any level.

Berry phones in her performance on this show, and whilst some of the cinematography is beautiful I certainly didn't see $25 million on screen. It all just reeks a little of missed opportunity to me. I can see why the film was relegated to the DVD bargain bin in so many territories.

While Dark Tide isn't a terrible film, it's certainly not a good one either.

A feeble 4...
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Mary and Max (2009)
Heart Breaking
6 July 2013
Mary and Max is the high point of what can be achieved with stop-motion animation. It's a beautifully and hauntingly constructed portrayal of loneliness that's incredibly realized by the directors very singular vision.

The film isn't an easy watch and I found myself weirdly uncomfortable with many of its very adult themes, but I couldn't take my eyes off it.

A wonderful melancholic score accompanies the sharp and very knowing script. Be warned though this one isn't for the kids at least in my opinion.

Mary and Max is a dark odyssey into the soul of human loneliness that isn't quickly forgotten. It's incredibly sad, quite disturbing and deeply affecting. Highly recommended for anyone looking for something a little quirky.
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Warlock (1989)
When Horror Films Used to be Fun
6 July 2013
I remember a time way back in the 80's and even a portion of the 90's, a time when the horror genre used to explore taboos in a fun and entertaining way, a time before torture-porn became the order of the day in serving a delectable horror buffet.

Warlock is a fun film. It brings back fond memories of me seeing this film theatrically way back in 1989. It's scary, funny and smart and most of all, entertaining.

Julian Sands is rock solid as the titular character, Richard E Grant shines as Redfern and Lori Singer is a treat as the cynic of the piece.

Warlock has some wonderful imagery and doesn't shy away from the violence when it needs to. It also has a wickedly funny sense of humour with just the right amount of camp added to the proceedings.

For a film now 24 years old, this holds up remarkably well on both a technical and an artistic level. Highly recommended for all genre buffs.
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6 July 2013
I need to waste as little time on this review as possible since the film wasted 90 odd minutes of my life that I can't get back.

This is insulting, dumb, devoid of any suspense with bargain basement gore effects. I really don't understand the hype surrounding it, which was the only reason I decided to check it out in the first place.

Every performance is way below par, we're talking porn level performances here folks. The backstory is trite and nonsensical, and the piece de resistance is the "SCORE"

A death metal onslaught that is lacking in any feeling, nuance or subtlety . It becomes an assault of the senses and not in a good way.

The other tip for the film-makers. If you're going to include obvious stock footage in your film (we've all done it) at least use footage that's the same aspect ratio or size it up accordingly. Sheesh!
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Candyman (1992)
The Best Horror Film of 1992
6 July 2013
Candyman is undoubtedly the best horror film of 1992. Released with very little fanfare the film became a surprise hit and I remember why.

Having been one of those lucky individuals to see the film five, yes five times on its initial theatrical run, I think it's safe to say that I'm a fan.

The ability that director Bernard Rose has to create a palpable sense of dread is evident in every frame of this film. This is what true horror is all about. Candyman is extremely suspenseful and intensely creepy, in fact just writing about it I can already feel the hairs on my arms standing up again. It's that affecting!

Virginia Madsen is superbly cast as Helen, a flawed but likable heroine the audience cares deeply about. Her journey into madness is one that we empathize with every brutal step of the way. You don't want bad things to happen to her because you've fallen in love with her. How Madsen wasn't nominated for an Oscar for this performance is still beyond me.

Tony Todd is also an antihero with a personality and a rich one at that. The film is violent but the gore never becomes comedic. It sets the perfect tone of brutality.

Candyman cannot come more highly recommended. It's a truly terrifying psychological art-house horror with standout performances and a deeply haunting score by Philip Glass. Horror films DO NOT get any better than this. Prepared to be scared.

A terrific 10!
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The Ultimate Exploitation Classic
6 July 2013
If ever there was a case for banning a film, this is it. Utterly offensive, nihilistic and cruel, sadistic and torturous to sit through, this is a mean spirited exercise in exploitation that comes very highly recommended but with serious reservations. You need a cast iron constitution to sit through it.

It's set up like a documentary and plays out as such and remember people, this is 1979, 20 years before the Blair Witch phenomenon, so this film was revolutionary in every sense of the word.

It also makes some very powerful statements about civility and that the perceptions of civility are thinly veiled by a deep seated animalistic urge of survival in all of us.

I personally challenge any viewer to not be moved by the climax of this film and walk away unaffected. It has a grimy, gritty grindhouse look to it and all this adds to the layers of cruelty on screen. I have some serious moral objections with the film, the animal cruelty is truly reprehensible and unnecessary and it's the reason the film loses a star, but this is still a grindhouse classic that will probably never be matched in the annals of horror.

A Classic!
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Waxwork (1988)
Cheesy Goodness
6 July 2013
Anthony Hickox is a man who knows how to work a budget and he's in his wheelhouse here with this fun, frivolous horror-comedy with some surprisingly gruesome makeup effects.

With a cast of twenty and thirty somethings portraying teenagers you know you have to suspend disbelief almost instantly but this is a very entertaining way to kill 100 odd minutes.

It's also a very clever way to milk what's essentially a threadbare script into clever little vignettes. This is not a criticism but a compliment, maximum bang for minimum effort in the screenplay department.

Waxwork also looks more expensive than it really is which seems to be a trademark of all Hickox' films. The always welcome David Warner steals every scene he's in and the film builds to a fun frenetic climax.

Horror film-makers of today could learn a thing or two from this. Keep the fun in horror films.
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A miss for Mr Zombie
6 July 2013
Let me go on the record by stating categorically that I am a huge Zombie fanboy and have appreciated each and every one of his releases like a fine wine, but for me this one feels like a missed opportunity.

It's an undeniably creepy take on witchcraft that pushes all the right buttons and hits the right notes tonally but I felt way too much self indulgence leaking through its very thinly scripted bandages.

It's refreshing to see a cast of scream queens over 50 get together and go crazy but for God's sake give them more to do than stand there and stare ominously. This is one occasion where I welcomed a more over the top approach. Too much of the film felt laboured and overlong and whilst I appreciated some of the fantastic imagery being put on screen, it felt too much like a male masturbatory fantasy gone wrong.

Moon Zombie is very good in this and it's her best performance yet, but I think our esteemed director has grown tired of this beloved genre of ours, so I think it best to move on for now. I have a feeling this film will improve on a second and third viewing, at least that's what I'm hoping. At the moment it's merely average indulgence with interesting imagery.
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Evil Dead (2013)
Bitterly Disappointed
6 July 2013
Whilst not a total waste of time this "re-imagining" of the original Evil Dead forgot one very basic and very important ingredient, FUN.

It's not a fun night at the movies. In fact it's depressing with thinly drawn characters and some homages to the original. The problem with doing homages to the original is that it instantly allows the viewer to cast their minds back to that nostalgically and instantly forget what you're watching.

The film has no heart, no soul, like a MacDonald's cheeseburger it may be edible but there's nothing but garbage hidden under layers of mean spirited gore. The only time this remake comes anywhere close to the original in terms of getting the tone of the film correct, is in its climax, which is reasonably well executed.

As for the rest of the imagery in this film it's nothing we haven't seen a hundred times before, including all the spine twisting, neck cracking, obscenity spouting possessed women from any number of recent efforts. To re-iterate this isn't bad, it's just dead on arrival and frankly, quite boring.
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Chillerama (2011)
The reason I hate horror comedies
17 November 2012
This is the very reason that so many horror comedies don't work for me. It started off and I thought, well this could be a fun and somewhat clever way to kill two hours.

Boy was I wrong, dead wrong. This degenerated into lowest common denominator garbage within minutes, unfunny low-brow, sophomoric humour, utterly unconvincing as either a comedy, a horror movie or even just an actual movie.

The script, and I use this term loosely, is nothing more than a series of badly connected nonsensical vignettes. I have no problem with movies that don't take themselves seriously, but there has to be some grounding in reality for us to give a damn what happens to anyone.

Unfunny, frat-house humour that may appeal to those under the age of eighteen but certainly not to anyone expecting something resembling a real film. A shame too, since there are some really interesting names in front of the cameras. C'mon guys you all know better than this.

Maybe I'm just getting too old for this crap...
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Piranha 3DD (2012)
Lowest common denominator garbage
17 June 2012
This has to be the absolute nadir of genre film-making. A 20 million dollar budget to produce this crap, ten decent low budget features could have been produced for the same price.

Performances that range from embarrassing to "oh my god what was that?" Visual effects that set the digital revolution back about ten years. Some of the worst one liners in the recent history of cinema and a silly extended but unfunny cameo from the Hoff himself.

All this negative criticism is coming from someone who rated the first one an eight, but the director here seems to have fallen asleep in his chair and forgotten to pen a halfway decent script. A handful of pre-pubescent boys out there may find the barrage of boobs enough to sustain its scant 80 odd minutes - I didn't! Utter garbage!
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Dreadful music, dreadful production values
21 March 2012
This is bottom of the barrel film-making but, if nothing else at least they tried to be different. Unfortunately, it didn't work. The music is bad, the production design in shocking (most of the film looks like it was shot either against a green-screen or at someone's house) and unforgivably, the mix of the film is bad. When you're making a musical your sound has to be good guys.

This is a dreary, lackluster, badly performed, hammily acted mess, which is a shame considering I love musicals. In fairness though i did only manage to sit through about half of this film, I resembled a scene from Scanners, it was just before the moment my head was about to explode that I turned the film off.

As the other reviewer said, only a masochist would endure an entire viewing.
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Fair effort
29 January 2011
I have no what the budget of this film was but I'm guessing it's pretty darn low. A pity this was completely ignored on its theatrical run out here considering it's an okay-ish little suspenser. It's not really a horror film - at no point is the film ever truly disturbing and this, essentially, is my main problem with it.

I think it was marketed as a balls out gore to the wall horror film and it just isn't. You can't compare something done on this budgetary level to something like a "saw" or a HOSTEL. The characters are very underwritten, the dialogue pretty dodgy containing way too many clichés for my taste, some of the performances are a bit flat and there just isn't any real gore.

If you're out to make a gore film you have to show the gore - you can't just splash blood in someone's face, grade the $hit out of your picture (overdone in my humble opinion) and use way too many closeups to the point of the viewer saying - okay so where the %uck are we? If you have a needle - show it going in - don't imply it. You're marketing the film as an all out bloodbath but then all you're doing is teasing the audience.

The editing is tricksy and needn't be so. The script is tired and somewhat cliché ridden - we've seen it all before with more money and done better, but, and this is a big BUT, for a South African film this is leaps and bounds ahead of most of the crap that litters our screens.

At least these kids tried to make a halfway decent movie. At least they've produced something very flawed but also watchable at the same time and they deserve a tip of the hat for that. Well done for taking the time and at least trying to make a good movie guys...and for that they deserve a solid six out of ten at least.

Long live South African genre films may there be many more to come! Long live the new flesh!
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Genuinely repulsive film - but that's a good thing!
23 January 2011
If ever there was a candidate for banning a film it's this. It's not giving anything away to reveal that there's a rape scene in this film but be warned it puts anything you saw in "Last House on the Left" the remake to shame. Graphic doesn't even begin to describe what the audience are subjected to by the voyeuristic intentions of director Stephen Monroe as he puts the audience in the front row seat for almost two hours of pure abuse.

But this is a good thing. Surely rape is visceral, brutal and sadistic and this film embodies all these elements. And once the reported revenge begins it's even more brutal than anything done to her.

Superb and bold performance from Sarah Butler in a role that is probably considered by most to be career suicide. When her character takes revenge it truly is the stuff that nightmares are made of and some scenes made me cringe for at least an hour afterwards.

Watch this one at your peril.This is highly recommended only for those who sit through a showing of cannibal holocaust without vomiting. Strong stuff indeed.One of the few examples of a remake vastly improving on the original.
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Black Swan (2010)
Impeccable Film-Making
27 December 2010
After the awesome Requiem for a Dream (also one of my all time favourites) he had a small misstep with the somewhat obscure, "The Fountain" but is most certainly back on his a-game here with Black Swan. Director Darren Aronofsky has crafted a film so perfect, so visually stunning, so intense that it brings to mind the work of some demented artist from a time gone by.

Every frame of this film is so perfectly constructed and each performance so pitch perfect that it goes without saying that this has become my favourite film of 2010. Portmans performance deserves every accolade that it receives and Barbara Hershey and Mila Kunis also deserve special mention.

The editing, the pace, the score, everything this film has on display has been so meticulously crafted that it defies explanation.

This is undoubtedly the most beautifully crafted horror film I have ever seen. Deeply disturbing with thematic elements that can be discussed ad nauseum post-film. I firmly believe as a long time horror film addict that this has made the genre relevant again and come Oscar time in 2011 this has my vote all the way.

Perfection in every sense of the word. 10/10
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