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Post Impact (2004)
7/10
As usual, anything less than Hollywood megabucks gets spanked!
22 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I'll be honest, unless I had a couple of hundred hours of recording space, I wouldn't have bothered with this. US TV Movies rarely pack a punch (there ARE some notable exceptions). This is clearly one more sci-fi disaster pastiche in a long run that have been foisted upon us since the success of Deep Impact, The Day After Tomorrow, etc. Its cast has television actor written all over it, whether US or UK performer - for Dean Cain refer to Superman, for the UK dwellers amongst us, Joanna Taylor (Clark) is an escapee from Hollyoaks, the vapidly bland teen soap opera. Basically, it should never be expected to be anything near engaging. However, as I said, I had lots of space available and I'm a great lover of all aspects of the Fantasy genre: Sci-fi, horror, old, new, big budget and zero budget, UK, US, anywhere in the world. Now, having established what this film IS, let's re-emphasise what it ISN'T. It isn't a megabucks Hollywood production, it has no aspirations to be original and it is making the most of a committed cast and crew more likely to be seen on television.

Everybody got that? No problems in understanding? So, metaphorically speaking, why the hell kick a donkey for being a donkey?! Would you order a lasagne from a restaurant and then complain because it wasn't a curry? Okay, metaphors over, hopefully my point is grasped: a sci-fi TV movie starring Dean Cain is what it is. It's not got loads of money for effects and box office smash cast lists. It's intended to provide lightish entertainment for people relaxing in their own homes and looking to kill an hour or two.

For once, why can't we just judge a film on what it is? Let's try it...

Dean Cain makes a likable good guy and at least tries to rid himself of Superman's clean shaven and impregnable heroism.

Joanna Taylor works well as a waspish tough girl and then **SPOILER** manages to successfully present another character development reasonably convincingly.

The effects are not great but successfully convey their intent.

There are things that happen that avoid the usual need to give absolutely everyone and everything a happy ending.

TV Movies like this NEED to be made because if everything was Michael Bay then film-making would be moribund, if not completely, officially dead! Post Impact is a low-budget and derivative sci-fi disaster movie featuting television actors. Does it succeed within those parameters? Yes, it does.

Next, please...
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Stalker (II) (2010)
10/10
A very decent effort!
2 November 2012
One reviewer claims this isn't a horror film then seeks to justify that comment by saying there's very little gore. Dear me, when did good horror require gore? If done with a bit of style, atmosphere, decent acting and a proper understanding of and respect for the genre, then it's not needed at all. The interesting thing is that the writer and director is none other than Martin Kemp. The man has gone from child actor to pop start to cinematic gangster to soap star to music revivalist to screenwriter and director...and like everything else he's done, he's been successful! Interesting too that he would know much about the infamous Hose on Straw Hill/Expose film of the mid-70s. Perhaps other reviewers would question that films horror veracity too? Here Kemp remakes with a considerable twist (albeit a somewhat clichéd one) and even brings back Linda Hayden who played a younger, saucier character back in the day. From the original film to Hammer Dracula to the awesome 'Blood On Satan's Claw', Linda is always a welcome contributor. Convincing performances from Jane March and Billy 'The Bill' Murray also help and it's mice to see the excellent Colin Salmon, though he seems less comfortable. In short, a psycho thriller type horror film that isn't particularly original but successfully evokes the feel of mid-70s independent British horror. I hope that Kemp makes more of these.
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Wyvern (2009 TV Movie)
8/10
It's all relative...
19 October 2012
It really is all relative, folks. Before we proclaim that another film is "the worst ever", let's check a few points...TV movie, generic monster movie, TV actors...right. So, lower expectations a little bit.

My wife always asks me why I watch stuff like this and, to be honest, it's the completist in me. I've been watching horror, sci-fi and fantasy all my life...I can't stop now!!! Unfortunately, whereas the puppets and men in rubber suits of yesteryear were cheaply budgeted but had charm, creativity and still a sense that at least the man in the rubber suit actually existed in a real sense, the modern TV movie variation is often bland, unimaginatively clichéd and the cheap CGI hammers home the fact that there is nothing genuinely threatening our heroes.

Watch a few of them back to back, however, and you begin to spot the ones that are a bit better. More interesting, or at least likable characters, slightly better effects, better performances.

That's 'Wyvern'. It's not great but I liked the characters, got interested in their lives and the monster didn't outstay it's welcome. A good film? Like I say, that's relative, but 'Wyvern' is okay.
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Freakdog (2008)
8/10
Much better than they say
28 December 2010
This is a good effort - much better than other reviewers have suggested. As usual, as soon as reviewers are even slightly disappointed they suffer from a knee-jerk reaction and start to proclaim decent films as "the worst ever". Time to put things straight... The director's previous horror effort, 'Shrooms',was a great disappointment to me - many had bigged it up but I found myself fairly unmoved throughout. This, however, is much better. It comes across as a combo of 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' and the Australian 'Carrie' rip-off from the 70s, 'Patrick'. Character development could be better in some cases and some characters might have benefited the story by sticking around longer than they did. Occasionally we suffer from trite dialogue, too. However, it has pace, decent production values and an interesting cast made up of British, American, Canadian and European actors, all of whom acquit themselves well. They all have admirable track records prior to this film, too. Overall, an involving, entertaining film - and nice to see Michael Jibson, star of the West End stage show 'Our House: The Madness Musical', get another cinematic outing - I enjoyed him alongside Statham in 'The Bank Job', too. Best horror film ever? No, but the best British film pretending to be American that I can recall seeing in a long time, and the best slasher-ish film I've seen in absolutely ages. Don't be put of by the doom-mongers - this is worth a watch.
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The Fallen Vampire (2007 TV Movie)
6/10
Of interest but flawed.
11 September 2010
I suppose that it is somewhat appropriate that a biography of Bela Lugosi should come across as being interesting yet flawed because, and don't lynch me here, Lugosi fans, that is exactly how the man's film career and personal life panned out. I have a great love of all the horror greats of yester year and so have plenty of time for Lugosi. However, it has to be admitted that he made some poor choices - and the biggest, the rejecting of the Frankenstein's Monster role that made Karloff a legend, was made purely on egotistical grounds. A lot of his issues were of his own creating - lots of divorces, a four day marriage, drugs. Fair play to the man that he battled on - and you will never hear me disrespect an actor who is working, particular in the genre that made him, until his death. You won't hear me criticise the films of Ed Wood Jnr, Lugosi's last director, because his films were poor, low-budget efforts. Like Lugosi, he was trying his best. My biggest gripe? That excuses are made every step of the way in this documentary. Poor old Bela, all the time. Poor old Bela - trapped in mad scientist roles - as if that stopped Boris Karloff! Poor old Bela - all those marriage issues - didn't stop Oliver Hardy! Poor old Bela - stop making excuses! Bottom line - he was a horror legend who didn't quite keep the boat steady as well as Karloff - end of story! The other problem with this bio? Well, the background filming from Lugosi's home country and scenes of still superstitious villagers might be interesting but it feels tacked on. Feels like two documentaries trapped in one body - now there's an idea for a B-movie!
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10/10
Effective
19 August 2010
I must disagree with the other review which suggested that this wasn't shocking. I felt that it left a genuine feeling of horror completely missing from the main feature. A sad thing when the animated extra provides more of a frisson than the big budget movie! The music and animation is haunting with violent splashes of colour that effectively act as a visual parallel for what is occurring. The idea is straightforward and perhaps obvious but it remains with you and does more to emphasise the collapse of civilisation than all of the main feature. In fact, all four animations are excellent. Funny - I like Will Smith's work but was more disappointed with the main event in which he appeared than in the DVD extras that his wife worked on!
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Ghosts in the Machine (2009 TV Movie)
7/10
A reasonable little time waster.
29 December 2009
If nothing else, this is a worthwhile look at some of the more interesting ghost related television shows to have appeared on British television, including a clip of a little scene version of 'Hamlet' featuring none other than Michael Caine. Eyes open too, for Hammer regular Andre Morell playing arguably the best version of Quatermass in a clip from the original BBC TV version of Nigel Kneale's 'Quatermass and the Pit'. More Kneale is glimpsed as actress Jane Asher reflects on her involvement in the much revered scientific ghost story 'The Stone Tape'. Best of all, is a chance to glimpse snippets of 'Ghostwatch', a BBC TV film that parodied ghost hunting television before it was even popular. Other countries will not know this production but, believe me, it is now legendary in the UK, having convinced much of the viewing public that it was real - it caused a similar furore to that caused by Orson Welles with his infamous radio recording of 'War of the Worlds' in the States. Biggest grumble? The 'talking heads' celebrities/experts. One guy observes that Robert Hardy appeared in most of the BBC's legendary 'M.R. James' Ghost Story for Christmas' shows. He actually made one. Also, too many of the speakers wish only to mock people with any sort of spiritual belief. Too much of that these days - lazy and offensive, not to say arrogant. At least Derren Brown admitted that even if only false comfort is given by spiritualists then it is still comfort. Myself, I would prefer it if everyone was allowed to hold their own beliefs without fear of reprisal - whether that be ghost believer, religion follower, spiritualist or atheist. Personal faith should be allowed and not mocked. To finish,this documentary shows that the BBC still make a damned good job of sustaining their heritage when it comes to classic fantasy, etc. In recent years: Mark Gatiss' 'Crooked House', two new M.R. James adaptions, new versions of 'A is for Andromeda' and 'The Quatermass Experiment' and adaptions of works by Saki, Dennis Wheatley and John Wyndham. All those on BBC4 whilst the main channel has provided new versions of 'Day of the Triffids', Turn of the Screw', 'Survivors' and, of course' the mighty 'Doctor Who'. Who says the BBC has lost its grip!?
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The Asylum (2000)
7/10
Low Budget Effort - Good Try
18 August 2009
This is no great film! However, as a huge fan of the British cinema of yesteryear that produced such wonderful horror/fantasy films, I am always going to have a soft spot for any similar product that manages to get made today. Well, in actual fact, British horror films seem to be having something of a renaissance at the moment. Not so much when The Asylum was made, however. Still, at least a decent cast list of familiar faces is gathered together. Some good performers, some cheesy, but all professional and familiar. Lovely to see Hammer's Ingrid Pitt, Doctor Who Colin Baker and Robin 'Confessions' Askwith. Also, Patrick Mower (post-Target, pre-Emmerdale) and Jean Boht from Scouse sit-com 'Bread'. This is quite low-budget, a little dull and confused at times but ultimately a good try. Colin Baker himself has never seen it (or at least, not up till a couple of years ago) and actually asked me if it was any good. I told him he was great and he said I'd make a good agent! Don't expect too much, just be thankful that something bridged the gap between the UK's golden horror years and the latest revival led by the likes of 'Dog Soldiers', 'Wilderness', 'The Descent' etc.
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3/10
There must be a market for this rubbish but...?
25 May 2009
...I have no idea what that market is! Now, I'm a film fan of eclectic tastes - I like an awful lot of the films that cinema snobs tell me I should - but I also absolutely love the horror/sci-fi genre and am a great fan of exploitation films from B-Movie to Z-Movie. Favourite actor? Peter Cushing. Favourite comedies? The wonderfully British 'Carry-On' series. Favourite directors? Terence Fisher, John Carpenter, Alfred Hitchcock. Shane Meadows. Favourite films? Everything from Muppet Christmas Carol to Halloween (original), Casino Royale, Hitchcock's Rope and Frenzy, It's a Wonderful Life, Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell. See what I mean? Eclectic? I'm no film snob. BUT I STILL DON'T KNOW WHO WOULD WATCH THIS FILM!!!!! So, hold on. Why did I watch it? Because B-Movie horror starlet Tiffany Shepis made a brief appearance in it and, as B Movie horror starlets go, she's pretty good. And whilst watching it, I might as well try to watch with an open mind. Only....well, it's complete rubbish, isn't it? Can any of the principal actors actually act? Not really. Any decent effects for sci fi lovers? No. Any atmosphere created? No. Are the soft core sex scenes erotic enough for daylight dodging pervs? No. So who gets what they want? Nobody. Now, I've seen the original 'Emmanuelle' because it's one of those films that has entered into legend. Didn't think it was great but it had a touch of style and it was pretty erotic. Good - came good for its audience (is there a joke in that sentence somewhere?). Now, this mess of a film has nothing in common with the original bar the name. Rip-off! The only interest for me was the afore mentioned Shepis and the fact that the general storyline bears passing resemblance to Michael Reeves' British shocker for Tigon films - 'The Sorcerers' (1967) starring Boris Karloff. Now that was a great B Movie! This? If you like sex films - don't bother. If you like low budget sci-fi - don't bother. Just don't bother. Anyone. I gave this 3 stars, by the way, for the number of different girls who got their kit off in the first hour of the film!
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The Inbetweeners (2008–2010)
10/10
Hilarious and truer than we'd often want to admit.
28 April 2009
A couple of mates with similar senses of humour got me into this during the second series and I have gone back and unearthed the first series. Well worth the effort! British comedy is alive and well in the cult shadows! This is hilarious because it represents a comedic image of how tragic most of our lives were as teenagers. It pulls off the awesome trick of being cool whilst proudly boasting central characters who aren't cool. They're not always nice, even. But they ARE true - and you've gotta love 'em for it! Check this out and laugh your nuts off, whilst guiltily hiding the fact that you were either as lovable yet pathetic as the heroes or as cool, snide and, deep-down, insecure as the bullies.
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Submerged (2005 Video)
4/10
Awful. A real disappointment from Hickox.
18 April 2009
This was an awful disappointment for this director. Hickox has made some really good B Movie fantasy flix. This was a disappointment for many British television regulars who well deserved the chance to appear in a film and got under served by terrible lighting, editing and scripting. This was a disappointment for Vinnie Jones - brilliant if the director and scriptwriter understands his place in UK iconography and uses him as such (check out Lock, Stock... and Mean Machine) - but he needs to be used right. This was not, however, a disappointment for Seagal. He has always been poor beyond belief and he just gets worse and worse as his self-indulgent self-belief gets bigger and more arrogant. He doesn't act at all and he's out of shape. How can he have the shame to accept a paycheck for top billing and then not even perform to his own extremely limited standards???
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7/10
Not the same director as Theatre of Blood!!!
18 April 2009
Just to correct a previous post - this is NOT directed by the man responsible for the Vincent Price classic Theatre of Blood - that was Douglas Hickox. This guy is Anthony Hickox. Having said that - he's got some B-Movie pedigree, his first six films all being in the fantasy genre, including the two excellent Waxworks comedy horrors and input into the Warlock and Hellraiser series. This is reasonably enjoyable sword and sorcery fare and is marked by Hickox' usual ability to involve names that you want to see back in the limelight. Edward Fox as King Arthur. Joanna Lumley as Morgan Le Fay. Brilliant! As a Brit, I know these actors well from the films and television of my youth. In using these guys, Hickox plays the same trick as Tarantino in using Robert Forster, Pam Grier or David Carradine. Also, any film using Udo Kier as a villain is alright in my book.
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Bloodmonkey (2007 Video)
Robert Young - the director...not the actor!
29 January 2009
This film is directed by the Hammer Horror and British television veteran director Robert Young, not the actor, so the facts are right if you check thoroughly enough. As such, poor film or not, I say that we should be glad that those who provided top class efforts in their youth (and ours) are still working, albeit not in the classy productions that they might wish. I'd sooner Robert Young directed this than not direct at all. I have happy memories of 'Vampire Circus' and 'Charlie Boy' from the dear old Hammer House and I have plenty of good things to say about the TV shows the guy directed, including Minder, GBH and Jeeves and Wooster. Okay, so this is typical exploitation crap, but it is an item of interest through its director's heritage.
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Hark at Barker (1969–1970)
10/10
Forgotten classic Barker that hints at future wonders.
11 January 2009
Well done Network for releasing the Ronnie Barker Collection on DVD - an amalgamation of two series of 'Hark at Barker' (from 1969 and 1970) and the 1971 series 'Six Dates with Barker'. Obviously, the age shows, the first series being in black and white, and the whole thing having a modest budget and yet someone as classy as Ronni Barker can always make something special happen. Barker was a legend of British comedy, not to mention a great actor, and, despite the very 70s feel to the humour, this is as strong today as ever. The series focuses on Barker as Lord Rustless, a doddery old gasbag, every bit as comedic and well observed as his later, more famous characters such as Norman Stanley Fletcher and Arkwright the Shopkeeper. He is ably backed up by an impressive comedy army including Josephine Tewson, David Jason and Ronnie Corbett - all hinting at future glories as each of these actors joins Barker in some of his finest moments of the 70s and 80s. Also, watch out for Michael Palin, Valerie Leon, and Christopher Timothy. Note should also be made of sterling regular performances from Frank Gatliff as the butler and Mary Baxter as the cook, joined in series two by the gorgeous Moira Foot as Effie the maid. Scripts are contributed by none other than Barker himself and members of both Monty Python and The Goodies. Indeed, many of the shows provide prototype versions of many greater successes. Each show sees Lord Rustless pontificating on any number of issues, interspersed with sketches in the Two Ronnies style and showcasing Barker's great comic acting. Like other British TV comedy greats - such as David Jason and Peter Kay - Barker can take on a variety of roles and become a completely different person. His personas in this show are each as different and effective as Jason is in varied roles such as Delboy, Granville, Pa Larkin and Frost and Kay is as Brian Potter, Max the Bouncer and Geraldine McQueen. Ronnie Barker was a legend - it's as simple as that, and whilst this series is not as well remembered as his work in 'The Two Ronnies', 'Porridge' or 'Open All Hours', it remains a solid piece of classic comedy entertainment. In it's rarity it is a special treat for all Barker fans. Check it out.
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Ignore the moaners !
1 November 2008
This is a tuffer than tuff, rough as nuts revenge thriller in which Bond is involved in loads of top class chase/fight sequences, both on foot and in any number of different types of vehicle. At one point or another, he wears a tuxedo, drinks a martini, uses his charm to bed a girl, uses guns and fists, delivers one or two bone-dry one liners and wins the day in a way that ties up the loose ends from the previous film and quite clearly, in a way that I won't explain but which should be absolutely joyous to a Bond film fan, proudly proclaims that Bond has now returned to the place that we previously knew him. The Birth of Bond ends with this film and the next should feature the more whole figure. Yes, it's different from previous Bonds quite often - but not always. So what, anyway? Those who proclaim that Bond was always lighthearted are extremely wrong. Those who say Bond always used to set the latest cinematic trends must realise that this only happened in the 60s. In 1973, 'Live and Let Die' followed the Blaxploitation trend, 'The Man With the Golden Gun' latched onto a spot of Martial Arts in the wake of Bruce Lee and 'Moonraker' whored itself in an effort to snap at the heels of 'Star Wars'. This latest couple of Bonds might well have taken a cue from Bourne but it is still always Bond in so, so many ways. Moaners may go and live in the past but fresh, open-minded lovers of quality spy/action films should enjoy the treasures before us - Craig is absolutely brilliant, Dench is ditto, the effects and stunts are awesome and the tone is brutally gritty in a way that might actually more than match Connery (though he is still and always will be the God of Bonds). More than ever before, this is the Bond of the Fleming stories, mixed up with the most modern of cinematic styles. There is much more than a quantum of solace to be found here:

BOND LIVES!!!!
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Spirit Trap (2005)
7/10
What's so bad?
17 November 2007
Nice to see more and more British fantasy films appearing and this one is not so bad. Certainly as good as most American B-Movies of similar ilk and most definitely better than many reviews on this site suggest. Story is perhaps a touch clichéd and generic but, hell, isn't that part and parcel of genre. Haunted House stories do tend to contain haunted houses, and they tend to be haunted by spirits, and these movies appeal to teens and younger adults so they tend to feature teens and younger adults as main characters. It's also a no-brainer to realise that these characters need to make some mistakes in order to activate the BAD THINGS that happen, hence that is what happens. Call it generic or call it derivative, so what? That's the genre. Admitedly, tension isn't built up so well, not much in the way of scares and only a light smattering of atmosphere, but it looks okay and the acting is undoubtedly better than most of the posters on this site are suggesting. Could I possibly ask that reviewers from places other than a film's country of origin don't immediately dismiss UK actors as unknowns just because they are not Keira Knightly, Daniel Craig or Hugh Grant? Billie Piper was certainly less known prior to Doctor Who but it's been a good decade since she was unknown. Sam Troughton and some of the others have also built up a reasonable body of work. Piper is decent in this - some suggest not as good as in Doctor Who - I would point out that most people should shine in Doctor Who because it's so well directed, written, constructed, etc. Piper doesn't shine in this because 'Spirit Trap' just isn't in the same league but it doesn't mean she isn't good. Also liked Troughton. Is this film a waste of time? No! It ain't a classic but it's not so bad. Give it a go, it won't kill you.
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Mortuary (I) (2005)
7/10
Not so bad!
3 June 2007
As usual, a mediocre film gets a right kicking from over-zealous horror fans. Now, without doubt, this film is a long way away from Tobe Hooper's best work, such as the original 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' and 'Salem's Lot' but, d'you know what, it's a hell of a long way from his worst work such as 'Spontaneous Combustion' or the Marquis De Sade mess he made with Robert Englund (sorry, forget the title of that one momentarily...Night Chills or something like that!). It seems to me that Hooper has sporadically made worthy horror flicks interspersed with a combination of real crap and other stuff that is pretty interesting and not as bad as is made out - 'The Funhouse' for instance, which is flawed but much better than the majority of really bad slashers. If we're honest, 'Crocodile' was a benchmark moment for Hooper. Such a name having to direct such clichéd pap is as low as you can go, and yet one or two characterisations spoke of old Hooper. Since then he's been heading in the right direction. 'Toolbox Murders' was good - gory, decently acted and with buckets of atmosphere. All that is wrong with 'Mortuary' is that it has a script that knows not where it wants to go and has the age old problem of characters behaving in a ridiculously silly manner. Also, the ending is poor. However, it does have bags of atmosphere early on and the acting is fine, bringing to life some classic Hooper characterisations. So...not so bad and Hooper is still doing alright. Could try harder, though.
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Doctor Who: Gridlock (2007)
Season 3, Episode 3
10/10
The best of series 3 so far.
14 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Call me an old softy but the warm-hearted elements of this episode, combined with some sad farewells, make it the best of series 3 so far. Wonderful to see the Face of Boe back, and even Novice Haim is welcome but as for the real monsters of the piece...brilliant! What a fantastically cheeky conceit to bring back a ropey monster from the black and white days and turn it into a big-budget CGI experience. Freema puts in her best performance as Martha yet, Ardal is a pleasant guest star and David Tennant's performance at the end is pure brilliance. This show is in my heart as much as the original run ever was when I was a kid, and it shows no sign of losing its power. Long may you travel, Doctor, Sir!
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7/10
Hammer is Hammer - sometime's cheap but always entertaining!
4 November 2006
This isn't the best of Hammer, despite being directed by John Gilling who, at his best, provided some of the studio's finest. Obviously, the acting presence of Cushing and/or Lee would have improved matters but Hammer stalwarts Andre Morell and Michael Ripper more than do their bit. The Mummy is visually interesting and the emotionless visage coupled with its implacable intent make it pretty chilling at times. Some scenes in this one have clearly inspired later Mummy films. The budget obviously isn't the highest but Hammer always make their films look and sound good. As for the review which notes that the narration sounds nothing like Peter Cushing...get your ears syringed, man! It quite blatantly DOES have similarities and, whilst it clearly isn't Cushing, it's understandable that the error could be made by the inexpert in the matter. That legendary gentleman is my favourite actor so I consider myself to be a reasonable judge.
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The Wounded (2003 Video)
1/10
An attempted positive message delivered incompetently.
29 October 2006
Other IMDb posted comments of mine have criticised others for unnecessarily deriding a film and often calling it "the worst ever" when it clearly isn't. As I've said before, there are usually worse out there. Really, really bad films....Dudes, this is an example! For everyone who honestly believed that 'Scarred' or 'Beast of Bray Road' was the worst ever - please watch 'The Wounded'! This is the real deal! I'll offer one plus point - the film tries to send out a positive message to young offenders. For that, in all its anti-Nazi, pro-morals preaching, I salute you. Having said which, quite how does a film that also seems to object to gang violence manage to celebrate its heroes surviving BECAUSE they work together AS a violent gang? Messages aside, however, this is incompetent. No production values, no decent choreography of action, the worst sound and cinematography ever and a rambling, poorly edited narrative. Good actors? Half-good actors? No, mate, not even garbage actors. They're worse than that! This is painful to watch. A prison based version of 'Dangerous Minds' that has a rubbish bit of satanic malarkey thrown in at the end. Devoid of atmosphere or tension. Still, DO watch it. Just to prove my point that too many contributors to IMDb are to eager to slate films as the worst ever when they're clearly not.
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Scarred (2005 Video)
7/10
Get a grip, people! This ain't so bad!
26 October 2006
Nothing irritates me more than people ripping apart a low budget movie, declaring it the most hilariously bad piece of film in history and insisting that it should be #1 worst rated movie on IMDb. Why? Because you can guarantee that the posters are talking garbage. Hey, I watch a lot of horror flicks and I know damn well what a truly bad film is. There's stuff out there that looks like it was shot as a home movie. There are actors out there that would make portraying a tree trunk seem too wooden. There are special effects that amount to a couple of squirts of unconvincing blood. Let me tell you, guys... 'Scarred' is none of those things. It might not pick up an award for cinematography but it's a professional job. The lighting and sound are fine and the editing is reasonably smooth. The acting is not so intense that it grabs you and makes you think that you've just discovered the next big Hollywood name but these actors are not wooden. they do a decent job and remain convincing. Some of the special effects are pretty gruesome and they're not overused. What irritates me most is that I avoided this film sometime because of the duff posts - then I eventually watched it...and enjoyed it. No way is it the worst film ever. It's actually pretty good. However, if no-one else wishes to be objective regarding this film then i will. I'll present both the good and the bad points:

BAD - 1. Clichéd to hell, can't deny that!

2. Some silly choices of action by certain characters.

3. The protagonist looks beatable so there should be more of a fightback at times.

GOOD - 1. A gruesome and reasonably original back story/purpose for the killer.

2. Some gruesome effects used sparingly enough to be effective.

3. A killer that can genuinely evoke pity at certain times.

4. Reasonable acting.

Summary? Less of the knee jerk reactions to low budget, please. It's easy to mock and often it's unfair. 'Scarred' is by no means a great film - but it's alright. Leave it alone unless you can objectively recognise it's good points.
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Terror (1978)
An Independent classic.
2 September 2006
In the case of most independent movies we should always remain aware of the restrictions that a low budget creates. In the case of 'Terror', the main restriction involves lack of acting talent. Other than a couple of 'Doctor Who' regulars (Michael Craze & William Russell) and future 'Blake's 7' & 'Dempsey & Makepeace' star Glynis Barber, this is a film full of performers coming from nowhere and travelling towards similar territory. Oh, I forgot about Peter Mayhew, but then we're used to seeing him as a giant walking carpet in the 'Star Wars' series! Here is a rare opportunity to see the man behind the Chewbacca mask. HOWEVER, the lack of quality actors is the only drawback in a film that manages to be creepy, gory and visually stunning, marking it as one of the last great British horror films. Norman J. Warren was a director with flair and imagination and we can't blame him if he was shackled by low budgets. Here he offers an impressive homage to European shockmeister Dario Argento and the whole point of the film is that a malevolent evil force swoops randomly, creating tense moments and leaving the viewer unsettled. Some of the greatest moments in 'Terror' focus on the unexpected - and in original ways; sometimes the expected shock arrives, sometimes an innocent occurrence creates just as dramatic a twist. In closing, I would comment that too many people seem hypnotised by big budget flashiness. Sure, that kind of film has its place in cinema, but I wouldn't miss the quirkiness and unpredictability of a good low-budget film and this film is one of the best. Nice one, Norman!
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Top class effort.
29 September 2005
Back in my teens I became a big fan of the novels of witty Welshman Leslie Thomas. Rude but never sleazy, funny, bordering on slapstick but never becoming childish, emotive without being mawkish and dramatic enough to make you care. Very few of Thomas' novels appear to make their mark on screen and I reckon that's because too much of Thomas' work would have to be cut, leaving what remained on screen too uninvolving. The Peter Davison TV series of recent years has been OK - I like Davison and that show has been a decent comedy drama but it has rarely felt like classic Thomas. It has taken me some 25 years to view the Cribbins version and I love it! It really is a top class effort that makes the most of everything that made Thomas so great in the first place. The film may look a little dated now but rather than spoiling it, this simply makes the whole thing more nostalgic. And what a cast! A cavalcade of British TV screen greats including Maureen lipman, Bill Maynard, a future Doctor Who and a future Eastender. Check this one out if you are proud of your Brit heritage - if you're an American who likes our sense of humour - and there seems to be quite a few of you - then you'll love it too.
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The Reckoning (I) (2002)
Looks promising but all to prove.
29 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This appeared on UK satellite presented by Richard Jobson who interviewed the film's makers and promised that the film was "a cracker" that boded well for the return of UK films of the Gothic Horror persuasion. How I want to agree, but I can't, not 100%, anyway. On the plus side, this is well filmed, looks good technically (at least for a low-budget independent short) and even manages to exude a creepy atmosphere at times. However, the story of fate that is promised is so basic as to not be worth the journey. A man dies or a woman dies. if the wrong one dies then Fate comes to even the balance. It's an idea, not a story. What's more, it is an idea that has been essayed on film and television many times, often really successfully. Therefore, The Reckoning only succeeds as an example of film making potential and fails as a film, short or not. Well done everybody involved, you all deserve a shot a full length features. As for horror film viewers, don't watch this and expect a satisfying story.
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The Locals (2003)
Wonderful stuff!
30 October 2004
I've just read a review that slags this baby off and there is no way that I can let that particularly misguided reviewer have the last word. he accuses New Zealanders of bigging the film up and criticises the use of lighting and the acting - wrong on all counts, boy! I'm a Brit and I have no particular reason to pretend that a film from New Zealand is good if it isn't. BUT THIS IS WONDERFUL STUFF!!! Low budget maybe, low key for sure - but the film takes its time allowing us to get to know our main characters (pretty clichéd characters but convincing and effective nevertheless. It builds up a spooky atmosphere, allows us to slowly realize that all is not well. The beautiful scenery of the daylight becomes a mysterious place of strange shadows at night. Here is where the lighting works so well. Yes, lots of areas are deliberately over lit - making central occurrences stand out starkly whilst blackness surrounds in a claustrophobic manner. The graveyard is eerily lit - standing like a beacon of badness amidst the shadows. The acting is fine - certainly far better than some of its amateur origins might suggest. I would recommend this film for anyone whether they be a horror fan or a student of film-making on a budget. New Zealand just showed big bucks Hollywood how to make something scary!
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