Image result for halloween 2018 posterWarning Spoilers.

40 years since Laurie Strode survived an attack from killer Michael Myers, he manages to escape while being transferred. When the masked man returns to Haddonfield Laurie must protect her daughter and granddaughter and execute a plan decades in the making.

Oozing with atmosphere and suspense director David Gordon Green brings Halloween (2018) back to its roots giving us a well-deserved horror follow up to the 1978 original. There’s plenty of graphic creative kills, not limited to the multiple impalements, stabbings, neck snapping and foot stomping head breaking. While all this plays out Green even manages to tidy up the mythology. The humour (thankfully limited) is done just right, notable the scene with Julian (natural Jibrail Nantambu) being babysat by (the excellent Virginia Gardner) Vicky and stoned boyfriend Dave (memorable Miles Robbins).

If your new to Halloween and enjoy a good slasher film this will no doubt entertain. I personally enjoyed the many of sequels, especially Donald Pleasence’s performance in the 2nd, 4th, 5th. Writers Green, Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley’s Halloween largely wipes the slate clean and echoes some of the story beats and setups in previous outings, the gas station, the escape, a ghost bed sheet etc. Thankfully at face value it disregards but doesn’t totally rule out the elaborate supernatural mythology.

While the pacing and editing is a little bumpy at times it’s respectful to the original while standing on its own two feet and shot off fingers. There are jump scares in places, but it isn’t necessarily scary, it’s more frightening due to Michael’s strength, non-discriminatorily violence that he inflicts and its damaging results. It’s a R/18-rated faithful sequel with an icing on the cake score by Carpenter (almost a stamp of approval of this follow up).

Pleasence’s Loomis is sorely missed but actor Haluk Bilginer’s Dr. Sartain Loomis protege fills the gap with a twist. Will Patton as Officer Hawkins is notable and offers weight to the film in his meaty small role. Jamie Lee Curtis gives a haunted powerhouse performance. Nick Castle, James Jude Courtney, and Tony Moran as Michael Myers / The Shape make Myers terrifying. Judy Greer as Laurie’s daughter Karen Nelson is rounded. Andi Matichak’s granddaughter Allyson Nelson is solid but her character build-up slightly fades. It’s not on the nose explored, but there’s a lot simmering underneath the traumatized Laurie, troubled Karen and damaged Michael throughout.

Highly recommended.

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Hands of the Ripper (1971)The daughter of Jack the Ripper who is seemingly possessed by the spirit of her late father while in a trance continues his murderous killing spree.

Director by Peter Sasdy offers a handful of taboos, an eerie atmosphere, a series of surprisingly bloody murders, touching on mental health, abuse, grooming and prostitution. Subjectively it’s knowingly or unknowingly one of Hammers most thought provoking controversial films.

Writer L. W. Davidson from a story by Edward Spencer Shew perfectly skirt around the Jack the Ripper element. Thankfully its not on the nose, alternatively focusing on the sympathetic psychiatrist Dr. John Pritchard excellently played by Eric Porter and his relationship with the tragic murderer Anna (Angharad Rees). It’s a mature piece especially notable are the graphic stabbing of Long Liz and the housemaid. The sets, costumes and effects are successful creating that desire Gothic horror atmosphere.

Overall, even though frustrating at times it’s one of classic Hammers most daring tales, worth watching for Porters performance alone.

Image result for satanic rite of draculaCount Dracula takes up residence in 1973 London to develop a new strain of bubonic plague, with the evil intention of annihilating all life on Earth.

Part horror, science fiction and spy thriller Alan Gibson directs The Satanic Rites of Dracula. Produced by Hammer Films, notably it is the third to unite Peter Cushing as Van Helsing and Christopher Lee as Dracula.

Gibson’s effort is a vast improvement on the weaker Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972) with an interesting new world order plot, double cross, plenty of action scenes and meaty word play from Cushing, courteous of writer Don Houghton.

Editing falters slightly within the closing act, where in the midst of a fire, with Dracula tossing tables and plague infectious minions, VanHelsing escapes through a window. Faults aside, all is forgiven when Helsing excellently and aptly takes care of Dracula, in what is Lee and Cushion’s last vampire and slayer showdown on screen.

In the wake of the spy craze the non gothic ‘modern’ London period setting and serious tone elevates this outing, the casting of older gentlemen and ladies give it a 70’s je ne sais quoi. Notably, there’s a claustrophobic eerie scene where Helsing’s granddaughter (Joanna Lumley) is cornered in a cellar by group of female vampires including Pauline Peart.

Rites befits from a more censor free affair with blood, boobs and violence on display. But the main draw is that 1970s vibe that is difficult to recreate today, with sheepskin body warmers, goons on motor bikes who incendently kidnap women for Dracula in turn to feast on.

Overall, interesting, a more graphic Dracula Hammer Horror and great for 70s nostalgia if nothing else.

An eccentric uncle reveals himself to be a warlock and with the witch next door, Florence Zimmerman and Lewis must find the clock in the walls of their mysterious old house before its ominous countdown ends.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a family-friendly supernatural adventure based on the 1979 children’s book of the same name written by John Bellairs. From horror realistic gore master Eli Roth, the director moves away from his usual adult fare for a impressive 1955 period set piece and well created magical adventure based mostly in Jonathan Barnavelts’ large house that formally belonged to Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLahlan).

Jack Black sporting a Orson Welles-look is his usual likeable kooky type role self as Barnavelt, young Lewis played by Owen Vaccaro is impressive. Cate Blanchett’s fleeting Florence Zimmerman is good fun along with killer pumpkins, a room full of spooky clockwork dolls, a dog-like chair and lion hedge to name a few. MacLahlan’s troubled war vet Izard is fanstatic even if sorely underused. The his eerie makeup gives chills. Knock Knock’s Lorenza Izzo (Roth’s real life wife) is underliningly menacing as the Mother. It’s thematically heavy, with death, loss and youth fitting in at its core, it’s not a simple cash-in. The sets an special effects are well executed with an enjoyable score to match.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls echoes C. S. Lewis Narnia, with a Goosebumps feel and a Disney Haunted Mansion vibe. Creepy at times with impressive sets, its one of the most enjoyable well made family films in a longtime.

Contains Spoilers!

A bus filled with colourful mentally stressed military try to stop an intergalactic sports hunter to save sniper’s son who is in possession of alien tech that his dad unintentionally sent him after his P.O. box was closed.

Following the events of Predator (1987) and Predator 2 (1990) notably including Peter Keyes’ son (as confirmed in the prequel tie-in novel and set presumably after 2010’s Predators, although not directly referenced), director Shane Black along with co-writer Fred Dekker echo the modest fun of past Predator movies. They offer a mix of gore and humour, while adding new elements and leave narrative breadcrumbs setting up future sequels.

Alan Silvestri’s Predator theme music is expertly reworked but is arguably heavily used by Henry Jackman. The on location night-time shoot adds atmosphere along with the dawn space ship crashing last act. The weaponry that the Predator wields is as fanboy neat as the original character design and effects on display. Even if the Predator dogs are not a menacing as in Predators.

Plot wise the writers give the classic Predator, here more agility, personality and motivation for helping the humans (as he is part human) without spelling it out in your face. They subtly explain why the “Tracker” Predator can see in heat POV without his mask due to his inbuilt biotech/biometric enhancements.

Boyd Holbrook (Narcos) is on usual form and is excellent as army sniper Quinn McKenna who encounters the Predator during a mission in Mexico. Know-how, gun-toting biologist Olivia Munn is impressive alongside the soldiers including actors Keegan-Michael Key, Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane and Alfie Allen. Also in the castings favour is child actor Jacob Tremblay who doesn’t come across as annoying as Rory, Quinn’s autistic son. At times you care about the characters and morn when they meet their demise, Rhodes’ Williams in particular. Actor Sterling K. Brown is notable as the unscrupulous Govenment Agent.

The Predator is non-stop entertainment, mixing expected lowbrow dialogue and macho talk with no holds barred action sequences and special effects. Yes it’s exciting but the action does grow more outlandish in closing followed by off the wall human Predator robotic weaponisation.

This entry ups the ante, Uber style with larger action sequences bigger thrills but doesn’t reinvent or progress franchise (especially the Yautja species history or social structure as well as in previous films) as much as touted or deserved.

Iron Warrior

Ator must battle with Phaedra, an evil sorceress and her unstoppable warrior, who has a secret connection to our heroes past.

Director Alfonso Brescia ambitious Iron Warrior is a low budget mix of Excalibur, Clash of the Titans, with a touch of Alejandro Jodorowsky wackiness and Duran Duran music video prowess to name a few. Opening with Carlo Maria Cordio’s endless credit title music (oddly reminiscent of Star Trek The Next Generation), we’re then sold the aesthetically pleasing locations of the Mediterranean’s Malta and Gozo. However, the sunny visuals take away from Iron Warrior some much needed atmosphere. Nevertheless, Brescia’s Italian production doesn’t shy away from brief nudity, some Lucio Fulci inspired make up and shock moments.

Brescia at best offers stylised 80’s bold geometric shape makeup, and fan blown hair with vibrant costumes, reds, greens and flowing material passing the camera. There’s a handful of beautiful women thrown including Iris Peynado, notable is the stunning Princess Jana, actress Sabina Gersak. Offering a poor mans Conan swordplay, projection There’s Superman (1978) Krypton-like prison rings trapping a witch, with Ator played by Miles O’Keeffe, a chiseled lean He-Man, along with nemesis Trogar (Franco Daddi) a Skeletor meets with Action Force’s Destro type sword wielding nemesis. . He employs slow-motion, sped up film, wide shots and old Bewitched/Randall and Hopkirk vanishing editing tricks. The avant-garde mix of student-like experimental film elements is endless.

If theatrical, over the top, choppy Italian sorcery fantasy salami is your thing, Iron Warrior is a must see.

Mission spoilers ahead…

Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions as group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to use three plutonium cores for simultaneous nuclear attacks.

The excellently staged, outlandish, sweaty palm stunts feel even more real in this instalment as the IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time to stop two nuclear bombs being triggered. While far removed from the original ’60 TV series, the film offerings go from strength to strength and Fallout doesn’t merely rehash Rogue Nation’s approach.

Writer, director Christopher McQuarrie offers more high-octane action in this sixth instalment, the narrative is more complex, the stakes are high, the emotion well placed. McQuarrie goes out of his way to explain why Hunt’s marriage to Michelle Monaghan’s Julia Meade character from the third movie couldn’t last.

Here the cast are on top form Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill’s Agent Walker bounce perfectly off each other as they attempt to corner a despicable arms dealer named John Lark. Both Hunt’s IMF boss played excellent by Alec Baldwin and Simon Pegg get physical and Ving Rhames add some unexpectedly emotion clout. Sean Harris returns as Solomon Lane who is as intense and nonchalant as ever. Vanessa Kirby leaves an impression, possibly for a comeback in a sequel, Milla Jovovich-ish Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust is impressive especially during the action sequences. Notably Wes Bentley an actor who fell off the radar is given second life, briefly appearing as Patrick, Julia’s second husband.

The big action set ups in Paris and London are memorable, injected with exciting score by Lorne Balfe. Unexpectedly Fall Out feels fresh and moves the series forward. Even though you can see some story twists coming a mile off there are genuine surprise moments along with proper thematic substance in amongst the white-knuckle action.

Undeniably the best entry in the franchise, re-establishing Cruise’s status as an action superstar. Highly recommended.

Dead Pulse is now only 99p Worldwide (local currency) and also free on Kindle Unlimited.

This is top ranking re-imagining of the walking dead in a George A. Romero and Lucio Fulci inspired zombie horror adventure. Get yourself a bargain here.

The dead have returned to life…

The world’s focus is on the city of Ravenswood and the once idyllic town of Farmore as platoons and scattered survivors fight the hordes of the dead, unbeknownst one of them holds the key to end the undead’s reign of mayhem.

Across the city at a body disposal plant a small group take shifts on the ‘death watch’. Their hopes hinge on the soldiers of Farmore to rescue them. But with no contact for months, no food and surrounded by the dead, have they got what it takes to survive?

With death at their door, only time can tell…

Contains Spoilers

Davey Armstrong suspects his local police officer is a serial killer, along with a group of his friends they spend their summer gathering evidence but with dangerous consequences.

With the popularity of the 1980’s at an all-time high, TV series Stranger Things, the IT film remake to name a few, imagine if the Goonies and Stand by Me teens went on the hunt for a serial killer instead of looking for a dead body or treasure! Directors Anouk Whissell, François Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell’s Summer of 84 offers a modest dark adventure which delivers just that.

The cast are impressive, the teens have family struggles which ring true. Lead Graham Verchere is impressive as conspiracy fan Davey Armstrong. Judah Lewis, reminiscent of a young Rob Lowe and Michael J. Fox is notable along with likable Tiera Skovbye as Nikki Kaszuba providing the typical yet timeless (before Xbox ans PS4) crush interest.

There’s a great score with John Carpenter vibes, contrary to what the critics say there isn’t an over reliance on nostalgia of the titular decade, the soundtrack is 1980s minimal, the pop culture dialogue references are only littered throughout, with the E.T, Poltergeist-like neighborhood location sprinkled with just enough 80s for you to buy the period setting as they spy on their neighbor Rear View Window and Burbs style. It not just in your face nostalgia but also has that teenage discovery, angst and your first love element which crosses generations.

Technically the pacing of the three directors falters in the dark themed closing as the last act, jarringly it goes off the predicable beaten track, but thankfully everything isn’t wrapped up satisfying like an episode of Scooby Doo, hats off to the writers Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith avoiding a paint by numbers ending we all wanted.

With a surprise death, this offering goes out of its way to avoid expectations. This goes both for and against Summer of 84. But there again as the story tells, life isn’t always roses and doesn’t go the way you’d expect.Excellent 80’s style teenage thriller which plays on expectations

Image result for megalodon 2018*Madsen Spoilers ahead*

A USA military vessel find survivors on a Russian submersible and finds themselves face to face with a giant shark.

In true tradition where the poster is better than the film, Megalodon is another low budget made for TV affair following in the fin tails of Shark Attack 3 and Megalodon (2002). When a giant shark is released after some illegal drilling most of the run time is spent with characters talking trivial lines, broken up by brief appearances of Michael Madsen chewing up sea air as Admiral King on an impressive the real Naval ship location.

Director James Thomas offers clips of a computer generated Meg shark swimming (recycled throughout) which occasionally bashes into the vessel. The effects are not much better than that of the superior Megalodon film Shark Hunter (2001).

That said, with zero budget Thomas offers a few Michael Bay-like sweeping camera shots. There’s a handful of good performance and impressive Russian dialogue from the actors. Notably is Caroline Harris as Lynch, even if she is hankered by Thunder Levin’s paper thin story and Koichi Petetsky’s limited script.

With a surprisingly good score produced by three composers to compliment the shark eating a boat in one, Russians haphazardly trying to escape the US navel ship, complete with CGI gun flash and people falling about like on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise as the shark terrorise the crew.

A patriotic speech finishes the third act off, and we are also treated to two fights. One involving Lynch, with Cold War tension not seen since Rocky IV. And later Madsen’s King heroically shows up one last time to help his seaman buddy Captain Streeper (Dominic Pace) in Die Hard/Under Siege style and literally face off with the shark.

Overall, it’s not The Meg but it’s all you’d expect from an Asylum production on the SYFY channel.