Archive for February, 2015

Zombie-Fight-Club-PosterA building riddled with a menagerie of working girls, criminals and loners find the corridors of their apartment block infested with zombies.

Oh my have things have progressed since Junk Shiryōgari (2000) and Versus (2000) (certainly in the effects department), Zombie Fight Club (2014) is better than the influx of recent DTV walking dead movies globally produced, in contrast to most Asian dead movies its light on humour, tonally it’s reminiscent of The Horde (2009), Rammbock/Berlin Dead (2010) mixed with Joe Chien’s own twisted incoherent Zombie 108 (2012).

Chien’s zombie offering is packed with action, actually wall to wall bloodshed, excellent make-up effects and an abundance of practical and CGI blood which puts some American modest budget zombie films to shame. It’s colour palette is dark, accompanied by a pumping soundtrack, it’s undeniably fast paced. Oddly it inexplicably interchanges between English and Mandarin and it’s a film of unorthodox two halves with no third act.

When it does slowdown it has a fistful of creepy moments but these are few and far between as buxom beauty Jenny played by Jessica Cambensy witnesses her boyfriend, his crew of rappers and strippers come toe to toe with growing army of zombies. After a flash forward a year after the outbreak Jenny has gone all zombie killer sporting a new hair cut and an even tighter costume (yes there’s the shameless objectification of women but no more than The Resident Evil franchise tries to gloss over).

What it lacks in plot it makes up for with its kick-ass female and male characters, soldiers and loads of zombie kills, impalement, bullets and action setups. Yes the characters are at times cartoonish and its gratuitous but it’s a solid addition to the Asian live action zombie market, if you’re in to it.

interstellar3My comments may contain spoilers.

The Earth is quickly becoming uninhabitable and a group of explorers embark on an interstellar voyage into the unknown via a wormhole in search of a planet that can sustain life.

Directed by Christopher Nolan Interstellar is stunning, thoughtful and magnificently written with an edge of intellect. Where as the comparable visual Gravity (2013) was lite on plot Nolan’s latest manages a good mix of both.

There’s a great supporting cast including the likes of John Lithgow and Ellen Burstyn, both Matt Damon and Topher Grace are notable. There is a fantastic performance from Matthew McConaughey who plays Coop a pilot that has the future of human race in his hands and is desperate to see his children again. Michael Caine plays professor Brand a NASA physicist tasked with saving mankind. Caine is perfectly cast, emotionally excelling in the role. Jessica Chastain is fantastic as Coop’s daughter who he leaves behind.

Flipping between the drama on Earth and the Endurance’s mission beyond our solar system, amongst the excellent special effects there’s an abundance of emotion between the characters. Written by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan the narrative on paper may sound kitschy but it’s executed with believability and for the majority feels very grounded in reality which is reinforced by the great sets and on the location feel. There are some great set-ups, the dangerous docking, the tsunami water planet and harsh ice planet segments are particularly memorable.

It’s unnecessary lengthy but well paced, moments are reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Contact (1997), Moon (2009) and Silent Running (1972) including an intriguingly designed robot (voiced here by Bill Irwin). The sound design is outstanding and you listen to what the characters hear in their helmets at times and there’s the silence of space while explosions grace the screen. Much of the film is complemented by Hans Zimmer’s great score.

With a twist and surprise ending like Nolan’s underrated Insomnia it is sentimental, tugging at the heart strings. All the sci-fi elements space exploration and seemingly an extraterrestrial beings aside at its core is a father and daughter relationship. Highly recommend.


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For today only my walking dead zombie horror Dead Pulse is totally free worldwide. Get your undead hands on it right now! Click here or paste and copy http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Pulse-A-M-Esmonde-ebook/dp/B004RCLWAO

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IMG_0960 On investigating an ancient meteor in the jungle a boy’s parents are killed and he is raised by a gorilla. As a young man he encounters his humankind again which puts him and the jungles inhabitants in danger.

Without being uppity, oddly people are incessant, comparing this 2013 version to Disney’s Tarzan (1999) which is a redundant consideration of the similarities or dissimilarities between the two films. The Tarzan character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs is over 100 years old, there has been numerous incarnations across many mediums over the years.

After the prehistoric opening and the destruction of the dinosaurs this attempt by director Reinhard Klooss hits all the familiar beats of Tarzan incarnations including Jane, there’s also the greedy corporation angle that’s been well trodden (instead of riches it’s the greed for the meteor’s unique energies).

The CGI colourful animation is crisp, clear and wonderfully rendered. While no more wayward than some of the other Tarzan stories out there it is still not the most engrossing Tarzan tale. The pacing is a little slow and narration is a little sluggish, that said, it looks great and has an edginess about it.

If your looking for a definitive version of Tarzan, or something better than some of the classic black and white films or the much loved Filmation Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle this isn’t it but it’s not that bad either.

IMG_0959Walter Davis needs a blind date to impress his boss and allows his brother Ted to set him up with his wife’s cousin, Nadia, who goes a little wild as she has an intolerance to alcohol.

Not to be confused with the TV show or the Kirsty Alley film. Straight off the bat of Moonlighting Bruce Willis is on fresh form as Walter. Incidentally he is being stalked by Nadia’s ex called David (Willis’ character name in Moonlighting). Willis is witty sharp, physical and funny. Blind Date was a box office success but it was panned by critic’s, most likely as it poked fun at the very yuppies who were reviewing it.

Yes its packed with slapstick humour, but after all this is a Blake Edwards’ film. There’s mooning at a guard dog, golf balls knocking people out of trees, a menagerie of drunken moments as Nadia, played perfectly by Kim Basinger, causes mayhem, only for Walter to later embarrassingly do the same. There’s Walter holding David at gunpoint and getting him to ‘Moonwalk’. A Japanese ladies wig coming off. Walter’s sleazy workmate palming off his card to his date. A James Brown car alarm. The sulky French head waiter. There’s too many great moments and characters to mention.

It’s not perfect, it has it’s eye rolling moments and it’s not as slick and pacey as it could be, but bear in mind the late great Edwards was in his mid sixties when filming. Walter and Nadia fall in love a little quick and while the creeping around the house scene is not as well executed as Secret of My Success (1987) of the same year, Willis’ falling on the golf- ball is hilarious comparable to Bill Murray’s fall in Scrooged (1988).

There’s plenty of great lines and performances from the supporting cast. Phil Hartman and William Daniels are particularly memorable. And Henry Mancini’s score complements the film well.

Whether intentional or not writer Dale Launer and Edwards’ Blind Date offer a social commentary in amongst the comedy. Blind Date is actually very self aware, spoofing its own time period, highlighting the sterile materialism and superficial modern life of the 80s.

Overall great fun.

IMG_0958 A father tells the story of how one small town’s survival hinged on a football match and some table-football players.

It’s a competent wacky CGI animated film by Juan José Campanella which like the Monster in Paris and Book of the Dead has an off beat non mainstream European/Latino feel. The dubbing issues of the U.K version aside (clearly it’s not animated to the UK actors voices) it is a fun tale about football and friendship rather than winning; as the toys help their beloved owner tackle his childhood bully (now a rich footballer) who wants to by his town and win the heart of the town sweetheart.

With a slow opening it soon picks up speed when the little table-football players magically come to life, it pokes fun at football players in general, some jokes may go over the children’s heads and it’s a little creepy in places with screaming rats in a dump and a wacky clown. The stereotype toy lead players go from one set up to the next to save a friend and regroup, to the final showdown football match to the beat of Emilio Kauderer’s music.

Some gags hit the mark, some fall flat, but the underdog tale is entertaining enough as the locals come together to taken on a professional team.

This maybe the best computer animated table-football film out there, but it’s also probably the only one.

It’s the fifth anniversary of Blood Hunger this year, so I thought I ‘d reflect and look to the future a little. Sometimes the way forward, is sometimes the way back. I had the privilege of meeting both Steve Crisp and Les Edwards who have produced some of the best, paintings, book cover and film concept work in the world and pick up some pointers.

Here’s a collection of the latest and some previous promotional material for the top ranking Kindles scifi The Final Version, vampire horror Blood Hunger and zombie chiller Dead Pulse. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great models and makeup artists over the years including J. Nash and German painter C. Schreck, Welsh photographer Catrin Arwel and Juliland. IMG_0896

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This review may contain spoilers

A mother, after the death of her husband has to deal with her son’s fear of a monster that she finds in a mysterious pop-up book.

With a mix of modern horror effects, genuine tension writer/ director Jennifer Kent offers old school thrills and chills in Babadook. The small core cast are exceptional. Its grey palette naturalistic setting captured by Radek Ladczuk’s cinematography coupled with music by Jed Kurzel, eerie sound and special effects add to the mix of creepiness.

It’s pacing are like the classic horror films, taking a leaf from The Shining as well as Nosferatu to name a few. It’s also reminiscent of the more recent Saint Ange/House of Voices, The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh, Let The Right One In, Innkeepers and Woman in Black with Mister Badadook being kept in the shadows for the first third of the film.

The closing act is not a grounded as the psychological horror that come prior, mirroring the short comings of Deliver Us from Evil with its arguably over blown closing act. That said, this modest budget Australian horror delivers chills down the spine and at times disturbing scenes of borderline physical and mental abuse.

Actress Essie Davis is exceptional as troubled Amelia and her difficult son Samuel played by Noah Wiseman is wonderfully cast. To his credit he is one of the few non annoying child actors to grace a horror drama.

It’s not just about the hidden monsters that lurk in the dark and in your mind. There’s many metaphors and symbolism lurking beneath. It’s themes are hard hitting and touching; prescription drug abuse, school intervention, grieving, the plight of single parenting, breaking children bonds and help from family and professionals.

As evil takes a foothold and the lines of reality are blurred, Kent delivers the the tension and nightmares you’d expect, its well acted, refreshingly without a cliché teen in sight. Old school shocks rejuvenated, recommend.