Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Forsaken Movie Poster*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In 1872 Wyoming, a former gunslinger and his estranged father encounter a ruthless businessman and his posse of thugs.
Director Jon Cassar’s Forsaken is very much a paint by numbers Western, however, the draw (no pun indented) is having father and son Donald and Kiefer Sutherland share the screen. In addition, the supporting cast elevate Brad Mirman’s screenplay with the likes of Demi Moore, Brian Cox and Michael Wincott. Wincott’s Dave Turner, a dangerous principled gun for hire is particularly notable aiming for the heights of Tombstone’s (1993) Kilmer Doc Holiday and underrated Aaron Poole shines as thug Frank Tillman, both actors leave an impression.
Along with Jonathan Goldsmith’s score Cassar’s low-key Western captures the essence of the classics including Shane (1953). And while it’s not a novel as the recent Bone Tomahawk (2015) or as broodingly fun as In a Valley of Violence (2016) it ticks all the American West boxes. Kiefer Sutherland’s John Henry Clayton like Ethan Hawke in the aforementioned film is haunted by the war, Here writer Mirman doesn’t really offer anything new, however, thanks to Kiefer’s simmering cowboy performance he sells the heartache and torment of a repressed killer. The love triangle between Moore’s Mary, her husband and John adds some drama in amongst Cassar’s well staged fights and shoots out as people are force to sell of their land.
Donald Sutherland’s Reverend William Clayton only gets one scene with Cox (who sadly isn’t given much to do) an unscrupulous business man James McCurdy. But the Sutherland’s father and son relationship tensions offer some weighty telling scenes with tragic accidents, war, mother and brother back-story dynamics which hold interest. The preceding peak in the showdown closing act and Winacott and Kiefer cement their gun slinging positions in a satisfying close.
Overall, it doesn’t shake the genre up but is worth watching if only for the Sutherlands, Winacott and Poole’s performance.

In a Valley of Violence Movie Poster*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A drifter is left for dead and returns to the town that wronged him and his dog.

After a spate of disappointing low budget westerns including two featuring Scott Eastwood, In the Valley Violence is entertaining crafted with care. While it’s no Hateful 8, Unforgiven or Tombstone to name a few, known for his atmospheric horrors director Ti West offers a solid off beat modest Western.

With opening credits that are reminiscent of Sergio Leone’ Dollars trilogy and story beats which echo, John Wick and Rambo, West offers a Western in the vain of High Plains Drifter. It’s a dusty grim dead silver mining town, there’s no hustle and bustle. It’s a low key affair with a small cast including John Travolta as a tough mediating marshal who steals the show. Burn Gorman is notable as an intoxicated Priest. Ethan Hawke’s Paul is quite fleshed out, wanting to forget his past and get to Mexico. His dialogue with Taissa Farmiga’s Mary-Anne rings true. It’s really a James Ransone’s Deputy Gilly Martin versus Hawke’s Paul rather than Travolta versus Paul yarn. Abbie (Jumpy) the dog deserves a mention. Karen Gillan is worthy of note along with Eric Robbins’ cinematography who masterfully frames the makeshift town.

Although past West collaborator Jeff Grace’s score can be intrusive it oddly works better when it’s not channelling Ennio Morricone. Bloody and violent in places with a few shoot outs, a hanging and slit throat, Grace along with West build some effective tense moments and to Ti’s credit he also offers some humour that gives In a Valley of Violence a refreshing push.

It’s a pity that West’s marked as an army deserter Paul, didn’t emulate the Man With No Name rather than try hard to avoid clichés as the homage in context of the tale may have elevated the story more and satisfy fans looking for a resurgence of the Eastwood style.

While it’s paint by numbers stuff and won’t shake the genre, it utilises the emptiness in contrast to the big budget Westerns and wisely makes the small cast ensemble and empty town part of the story. Recommend.

Dubbed a Bruce Willis clone, Jason Statham former French Connection model was born 12 September 1967 and came into the limelight in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. I don’t believe anyone could have predicted that football fan, cockney sparrow Statham would go on to be the next Hollywood action star. That said, the amount of dedication to his physic and skills he fully deserves the title.

Although he’s starred in some unsatisfying flicks – it’s usually the production that’s the problem, Ghosts of Mars, The One, The Bank Job and remake The Italian Job were all muddled in tone. In Name of the King, a star studded cast but that no amount of talent could redeem. There’s nice cameo in Collateral and The Expendables was a well received blockbuster. And Cellular (2004) is arguably underrated. Transporter, Death Race (remake) and Crank are notable in their own right, it’s just a pity the sequels didn’t deliver the goods.

Statham has showed he’s not a one trick pony either and while not Oscar wining he’s not a bad actor, for example take his lesser well received but excellently made Killer Elite and Revolver .

As a tribute to the man who shrugged off Kelly Brook and cracked on with things (a testament to his character) with Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley here’s a few thoughts on a handful of his outings.

Safe (2012)
Ex-cop and cage-fighter after his wife is killed contemplates ending it all. However, a chance meeting with a little girl holding information for the mob allows him a chance of redemption.

After Jason Statham’s weighty and drama driven performance in Killer Elite (2011) he returns to familiar Transporter style force in this action packed tale. Director/writer Boaz Yakin knows how to deliver high-octane action and his lead has perfected high kick and punches in his sleep. Like many on location shot films it makes everything more palatable and the Safe certainly has a budget.

It’s violent and bloody, despite being packed with clichés corrupt cops, Russian Mafia and Yakuza it’s fresh enough to remain entertaining. Concept wise it is reminiscent of Mercy Rising (1998) but where as Willis’ outing failed to deliver the Safe surpasses expectations being a bar above the average action flick. There’s a Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars and Last Man Standing play off against each crime syndicate but it all adds to the entertainment.

Notable is the ever reliable James Hong and Anson Mount gives a menacing, memorable performance as Alex. Chris Sarandon as the Mayor deserves a mention along with bent cop Captain Wolf played by Robert John Burke redeeming himself after Robocop 3. Although the relationship between the young girl Mei played adequately by Catherine Chan and Statham’s Luke Wright isn’t fully explored no doubt to avoid comparisons with Leon (1994) there’s enough emotion to make you care for the characters.

Statham is on form and overall the Safe is an engaging entertaining action film worthy of mention.

Killer Elite (2011)

One of Britain’s Elite Special Air Service is forced out of retirement to undertake one last mission but soon finds he is a pawn in a bigger game.

What maybe deemed at glance as just another action film turns out to be a multi- layered action, drama and true story. It comes with a few twists and doubling crossings. There’s a fair share of shootings, fights, explosions and stabbings but director Gary McKendry handles the scenes in a realistic fashion, possible best described as a mix of Patriot Games, Syrina and Munich with the action similar to Bourne. Killer Elite is a very hard hitting violent drama set within 1980s.

The 80s backdrop and globetrotting on location filming gives the film creditability. Due to the source material and some interesting griping writing by Matt Sherring the characters are all shades of grey which adds to the appeal. This action thriller benefits from some big named actors giving their best and most subtle performances. Jason Statham is perfectly cast as Hunter’s (Robert De Niro) protégé Danny. Notable is Clive Owen in a solid supporting role and an almost unrecognisable Dominic Purcell gives an award deserving performance.

Killer Elite is an underrated ex-special ops story that highlights some of the shady dealings of countries governments and mercenaries. Highly recommend.

The Mechanic (2011)

An assassin’s abilities are tested when he takes on an apprentice, but things get complicated when he finds he’s been used on his last job.

Entertaining assassin/mentor yarn which tries to avoid clichés. Donald Sutherland puts in a welcomed cameo but is missed throughout the rest of the film. Jason Statham is hit man Arthur Bishop, while he can do these roles action roles blind folded Statham is subtler and more complex than most previous parts he’s played. Ben Foster gives a hard hitting performance giving an edginess and weight to the character of Steve McKenna and corporate bad guy Tony Goldwyn is notable.

Some logic aside the Mechanic stands head and shoulders above the mass of recent cheap and big budget flicks due to it’s 1973 source material, smart writing and Simon West’s gritty direction. The wonderful locations give it an air of realism and the soundtrack complements the setups.

With some thought out character development, twists and well executed action scenes it’s a pleasing above average hit-man thriller.

Revolver (2005)

A revenge-seeking trickster guarantees victory when a confidence trick is applied to any game of wits. However, he’s running out of time as could be ‘rubbed out’ by the corrupt casino boss first.

Don’t expect a rehash, the humour or the structure of Mr Ritchie’s earlier films Lock Stock and Snatch. This is Ritchie’s Mulholland Drive. This film makes more sense on a second viewing or when you’re satisfied what this 115 minute marvel has given you for your cash. This film is not for a lazy audience. And while the style of filming or the story is not entirely original the way the film is put together is.

If you’ve seen it and think Zach (Vince Pastore) and Avi (André Benjamin) aren’t real or that Mr Jake Green (Jason Statham) is Mr Gold you may want sit down, watch the movie again and rethink your move. Or stick with what you originally thought. Whether it’s taken as it’s about symbolism, psyche, mysticism or take it at face value the themes are greed, tackling fear and egos to name a few. It’s up to the viewer to decide and it can be interpreted differently each time it’s reviewed. All the loose ends are tied up however you take it – just dig deeper. That said, admittedly this may put off the casual viewer who want a straight forward gangster flick.

The acting and whole production is above average. It has a strong cast ensemble, great dialogue, acting and locations. The music and colour scheme add to the retro surreal feel and set the mood in each scene. The end product is fantastic and not pretentious.

This film could be destined for a future large fan following.

A bold move for Ritchie.

The near future 2089 Earths historical artifact’s and ancient paintings prompt an expedition into space to find our makers but puts the crew of the Prometheus in grave danger when they land on LV-223 in 2093.Veteran director Ridley Scott gives Prometheus its own unique look and rightly so as the action, suspense takes place on LV-223 not LV- 426 as in Alien(s). Without getting bogged down with Alien (2122A.D) comparisons, this is a science expedition not a mining vessel. This change in location allows Prometheus to sit as a stand alone film.

Questioning our origins in a reasonable intelligent way the story written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof is intriguing and makes this film stand above your average sci-fi. That said, Prometheus does raise more questions than it answers yet it’s ambiguity is what makes this film special and allows set-ups for future instalments.

It’s excellently cast and includes international actors Guy Pearce (who is sorely underused) Idris Elba as everyday man Janek and Logan Marshall-Green to name a few. Charlize Theron is astounding as Meredith Vickers, a hard nosed corporate mission director. Notably is Michael Fassbender as David who is every bit as interesting as Bishop and Ash with added a quirky ‘fondness’ for Peter O’Tool. Main protagonist Elizabeth Shaw played by Noomi Rapace is not your typical Ripley clone and carries much of the emotion for the film.

http://1.gvt0.com/vi/EjYp116AXfU/0.jpg

The effects are first rate, with the Space Jockeys, scenery, ships and Aliens wonderfully realised and rendered. Some of the effects are practical and look organic for the most part. The location and environment feels real and makes everything more palatable. A nod should go to Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography and Pietro Scalia’s editing.

Scott delivers a few standout creepy scenes some particularly gut turning, notably the arm breaking, infection and decontamination scenes- it captures some xenomorph magic.

Marc Streitenfeld’s music score is an effective mixed bag although is a little over used. Both writers and Scott ensure to include a few character twists and wisely incorporate some elements from the Aliens series (in keeping with that world) whether it be a vehicle, a line or setup to possibly appease die-hard fans but for the most part it feels fresh. That said, some character motivations need to be teased out by the viewer for clarification, not all the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted.

The film took the Alien series in a direction I was not expecting. As a long-time fan of the Alien series, and with this new Prometheus course I can say I’m satisfied, it’s edge of your seat, gory-suspense – director Ridley Scott is on pretty good form.

Prometheus tackles themes of origin, mortality and biological warfare to name a few and although it feels a little rushed it’s a grower just like the spores themselves.

If you have any burning Prometheus questions head here for answers.

My long-time collaborator, director of Terminus Sean P. Parsons returns with this dark science fiction film short Syntrifica.

The not so distant future, Chinzera a war veteran is diagnosed with PTSD but shows no signs of the disorder. Find out why… Before 2019 and Bladerunners there was Chinzera and Syntrifica.

Watch it here:


SYNTRIFICA

THE CAST:
THEO JOHNSON
CLINT HERRING
ELAINE SEWARD
PATRICK HALE
SHAUN SCHROTH
DORIAN RUCKER
JON LAWLOR

WRITER/DIRECTOR/SHOOTER/EDITOR/SOUND/GRAPHICS:
SEAN PARSONS

GAFFER:
DORIAN RUCKER

MUSIC BY:
CLIFF MARTINEZ
oOoOO
THE FENDERMEN
JASON ALDEAN
THE KNIFE

Please check the following site for cast interviews and news on the film: http://www.seanparsonshome.com

Below – like Barry Norman on speed or Jonathan Ross with a haircut I’ve put together a few of my little pleasures, those films that unless a film geek like myself points them out they may slip under your radar. Some are wonderfully constructed, some are cult classics, some have entrainment value, some for sheer effort and some just deserve to be seen.

Of course I can’t review my very own 2010 art house vampire, hi-jinks drama Terminus- that would be cheating but here’s a full three minute clip  in case you’re curious…

Blood Dolls (1999)

Entertaining low budget freaky film where the protagonist Virgil is an eccentric freak with a head the size of an avocado.

Virgil is biological inventor and his latest creations are the BLOOD DOLLS, who he uses to kill his enemies! There’s a ‘little person’ for a butler. Four leather-clad rock and roll girls-in-a-cage that play on Virgils command.

William Paul Burns as Mr. Mascaro leaves a lasting impression, Phil Fondacaro is on his usual underrated fine form as Hylas, however, the stars of the show are the dolls themselves created by the late Mark Williams.

The movie has B written all over it, it’s like a rehash of Charles Band’s own 80’s killer puppet movie Puppet Master (1989). There’some flamboyant acting, good doll designs and imaginative special effects.

If you like B movies and killer dolls with hearts, it’s not terrific, but it’s fun and does rate outlandish cult status.

MISSION X (2010)

Scottish mercenary veteran Ryan goes on a revenge mission with a group of guns for hire and a student camera-man on tow.

Arms dealers, bad language and shoot outs, are just the playing cards Mission X first lays on the table. It’s the hand that slowly dealt by director/writer David Paul Baker that makes this film stand heads and shoulders above a flurry of camera point of view (POV) films.
The editing is sharp, bringing together footage from different cameras POV, flash forwards and flash backs. There’s a minimal soundtrack music, first-rate blood effects, a great script and characters. With fitting camera work, near on perfect acting; played authentically, not just by the leads but the supporting cast too, that puts the likes of Quarantine (2008) and the interview segments of The Fourth Kind (2009) to shame.
Bond with the characters as you follow them with Ryan and camera man Grant, who’s verbal sparring on serious and every day issues are exceptional. Mission X is a joy to watch, from abandoned buildings, to night clubs and the streets of Scotland, it’s edgy, tense, harsh, hard and confrontational. Secret meetings, anonymous phone calls.
The screenplay is absorbing to the last reel. In between the shots ringing out; get to know the unit; get caught in the gun fire; it’s the closest thing to a possible suicide mission on your homeland you can see on film.
Mission X oozes tension, it’s a naturalist piece of filming that drags in and captivates the viewer from the outset, which makes it compelling viewing.
A smart cleverly crafted must see.
Grave Encounters (2011)
Lance Preston and the crew of ‘Grave Encounters’, a ghost-hunting reality television show find what they’ve been searching for but is the public is public ready to see the horror they’ve encountered.
A missing episode of lost footage directed by The Vicious Brothers, Grave Encounters is probably best described as a mix of UK’s Most Haunted, USA’s Ghost Hunters (T.A.P.S) and Ghost Adventures although it’s shows what many have been wanting to see for series’. There’s poltergeist activity, ghosts and ghouls .
Actor Sean Rogerson’s Lance is almost a parody of Zak Bagans real life presenter of Ghost Adventures. And does an adequate job of carrying the show within a film. The support cast are great intentionally or unintentionally and are as annoying as these co-presenters/investigators in the real shows themselves.
It uses hand-held and static cameras mirroring the aforementioned Television programmes with a splash of colour and night vision for good authentic measure.
As the investigators night proceeds it gets more jumpy and intense with some slick visual effects. Although it never quite makes sense why these ghosts can’t pass through walls and prefer to bang on doors.
It’s better directed and executed than the mass of copycat films that have tried to capture the spirit of these reality investigations. Grave Encounters delivers plenty of chills especially if you are a fan of these paranormal TV shows.
The House on Haunted Hill remake closing aside overall it’s more fun than the Paranormal Activities trilogy but ultimately is simply an extended uber-version of the shows it’s emulating.
Hunter Prey (2010)
After a crash landing an escape human prisoner must avoid being recaptured by humanoid aliens or caught by a bounty hunter.
A low-budget sci-fi reminiscent of Enemy Mines (1985), Pitch Black (2000), Planet of the Apes (1968), Star Wars (1977) and Star Trek’s 1967 ‘Arena’ episode to name a few.
While it may not have the production design or sleekness of some of the aforementioned, Hunter Prey has some nice make-up design and subtle effects. Lead alien performer Poitier is note-worthy as Centauri 7 shows depth and bearded Simon Potter as Logan is entertaining enough as the prisoner on the run in a desert landscape.
The costume design is effective and fan-boy cool but is let down by the original sound design that doesn’t give them weight leaving them plastic and hollow rather than heavy pieces of armour, guns and helmets. Director writer Sandy Collora delivers a watchable sci-fi but it still has the feel of limited budget filmmaking rather than a low budget with a cinematic feel.
Despite an abrupt ending there’s a few story twists and double crossings that are mainly played out in dialogue rather than action and enough visuals to keep you entertained.
Messiah of Evil (1973)
Before Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and The Crazies, there was Dead people a.k.a Messiah of evil. Shot in 1971 the film was not released until 1973. Like H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon and The Wicker Man (1973), weird locals are hiding a horrific secret… In Messiah, the people of Point Dune worship the rise of a red moon as they become zombies.
The storyline is disjointed, but this adds to the mystic, surreal and dreamlike quality of the film. Admittedly, there is some irregular editing and the score is very much of its time, but there’s plenty to like about it.
Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and the aforementioned clearly have taken its cue from Willard Huyck’s jumbled but effective film. Especially the scene where slinky brunette Anitra Ford is pursued through a supermarket. There is also truly creepy scene again with Ford and an albino trucker, played by Bennie Robinson,you’d think he would have been in a lot more movies.
It oozes dread and suspense, it’s a chilling 70’s horror flick that despite its faults is a lot better than some of today’s so called horrors.
Puppetmaster (1989)
Puppet masters premise is an ultimate, interesting horror film idea for those who like this genre. The film begins by creating an interesting back story, Nazis arrive at a hotel in search of Toulon who is tending to his puppets that seem to have a life of their own. Years later a team of para-psychologist investigate the hotel. You’ve guest it, the puppets come to life and begin to pick off the newcomers one, by one.
Unfortunately, the film suffers, as most 80’s horrors, from plot holes, some bad acting and awful dialogue. The stop motion and movement of the puppets is good but it has also dated. These faults aside Richards Bands music score is genuinely creepy and Director Charles Band creates some chilling moments. The killer puppets themselves are the stars of the show each with their own personality.
Unfortunately apart from the 2nd puppet master all of the sequels couldn’t match the quality of the first and second film in one way or another. One of the better low budget horror films of the 80’s. If any cult film deserves a re-imagining or remake it’s this one.
Eaters (2011)

The world is devastated by an epidemic and is overrun by hordes of living dead. Three men, Igor and Alen, hunters of dead and a scientist, Gyno try to find an answer to what has happened to the human race.

Everyone’s having a stab at the zombie/virus flick since 28 days Later – Spain with REC, Germany with Rammbock and France Le Horde to name a few.
Although Marmite director Uwe Boll has a producer credit, this shares little if anything with his films. Both writers/ Directors Luca Boni and Marco Ristori deliver a competently constructed bleak atmospheric zombie horror that is stylishly shot and presented in washed out colour.
Eaters opens with the standard zombie exposition affair of news clips how virus infection has spread. Gyno spins that the zombie epidemic maybe the next step in evolution while the hardened soldiers believe otherwise.
There’s some good zombie make up design, lopped off heads, blood, fried zombies, undead torture, skulls and exploding heads. Guns, grenades and machetes are used to dispose and there are some interesting kill scenes as the two hardened soldiers, Igor a likable hard-man played excellently by Alex Lucchesi and Alen notably by Guglielmo Favilla go to section F on a ‘corpse hunt’. Notable is chained up Alexis (Rosella Elmi) who is a carrier of the virus. Young actress Elisa Ferretti as Cristina deserves a mention.
Although Igor is likened to Leon it’s doctor Gyno played by Claudio Marmugi who is the Jean Reno-alike. He experiments on the dead, shooting them after their used, chopping them up, feeding them scraps reminiscent of Day of the Dead. Interesting the zombies here eat their own body parts, encounters with a Cultist group, slow/fast zombies and armed zombies add to the pleasure.
This serious slick Italian production is grim with a sense of black humour and irony there’s characters reading ‘corpse and girls’ magazine. Crazy Caravaggio painter of dead people. The score is similar to resident evil with electronic heavy beat and it had a few flash backs and eerie dream sequences deliver some jump moments.
Sector b’s Nazi group aside the script delivers some tension as madness sets in as the character try to pass time, humour feels unforced and the acting for the most part realistic. Eaters may have it’s faults debatably some CGI, editing and pacing issues but for the most part it’s a fulfilling ride. Although it borrows from the likes of Resident Evil Apocalypse and 28 Weeks Later to name a few there’s enough twists and originality as the leads try to accept their situation to prevent it becoming stale reinforced with an ending that goes against the clichés in the last act.
Gory, bloody and overall more fun than it should be due to it’s great execution and grimness.
Carnival of Souls (1962)
A true horror classic Director Herk Harvey and writer John Clifford both waived their earnings in order to get the film made. Upon release in 1962 the film was a failure in the box office, thankfully its subsequent airings on late night television helped to gain it a strong cult following so Clifford and Herks work was not all in vain.
The delightful Candace Hilligoss is perfectly cast as the troubled woman that after surviving a traumatic car accident, that kills her two friends, becomes haunted by a frightening ghoul and drawn to a mysterious abandoned carnival. It’s a shame that Hilligoss only acted in two features as she gives an impressive performance as Mary Henry.
The music is very creepy and a little too intrusive in places, however, for it’s time and budget it is a well crafted film. Carnival of Souls many not be as sleek and stylish as the Haunting (1963) but it is far more eerie. The zombies are not as imposing as in Night of the Living Dead, however, they are vastly creepier and macabre.

Oozing atmosphere it’s a creative and unnerving film that concludes with a common place twist but back in ’62 it was ahead of it’s time, a true cult classic.

Alien Undead, The Dark Lurking (2010)

20120111-192303.jpg Face eating monsters run amok in a  facility. The survivors try to escape the horrors of the creatures but the horror maybe within.

Also known as the marketable Alien Undead Gregory Connors offering  is an overlooked interesting piece of low budget film making.

Although borrowing an assortment of ideas and dialogue from many sci-fi’s, heavily from Aliens, The Cave and Event Horizon, Connors film has an odd alluring charm. Underneath the overpowering score uneven script and badly delivered dialogue there’s plenty to like. The effects, make up and gore  are for the most part effective. Stark white sets, grim corridors, rain drenched foliage and computer control rooms all add to the films interest. While some of the set ups are less effective than others and The Dark Lurking throws too many ideas in the pot it does for the most part deliver especially in atmosphere.

The cast are a mixed bag, notable are Tonia Renee, Bret Kennedy and Ozzie Devrish as Kirkland.

There’s some well executed gun play, great lighting and camera work.  Connors and the editor are wise not to linger too long. When the relentless imposing score is working it compliments the many great visuals perfectly.

Although lacking pace and originality its one of the better low budget sci-fi’s and certainly worth viewing.

P2 (2007)
An office worker called Angela (Rachel Nichols) is pursued by a voyeur psychopath after being locked in a parking garage on Christmas Eve.
I’m a sucker for films where main character just can’t get to their intended destination, The Hitcher, After hours, Judgement Night, Brake down and Hostel to name but a few spring to mind – Films with a minimal cast and a difficult situation to get out of. P2 ticks both boxes here.
First time director Franck Khalfoun builds up the tension here and makes the most out of his two leads Wes Bentley and Rachel Nichols. The score and cinematography is of a high standard and the acting is first rate for this type of thriller but it is let down by its lack of character development by the script.
Angela seems such an unlikable character that you’d like her to get killed off in the first five minutes. That said, who needs characters built? As the film unfolds, after all manner of psychological and physical hoops Angela goes through, you find your rooting for her after all. The effects are realistic and the blood mostly comes from Angela work mate. There’s a nasty scene involving a vicious dog which is not for animal lovers, so beware.
The end is satisfying as to is the film as a whole; all in all it’s a solid little thriller which includes an Elvis Christmas song. You can’t go wrong.

Screamers (1995)
A war ridden apocalyptic mining planet, a small defence robotic weapon known as Screamers have continued to evolve into something more deadly which puts both sides of the conflict survivors at risk.
Alien (1979) scribe Dan O’Bannon delivers an interesting take on the infamous writer Philip K. Dick’s short story, Second Variety.
Both Jennifer Rubin and Peter Weller are very effective as the leads in what could have be just another B-science fiction and the rest of the small cast are adequate enough. Christian Duguay direction is competent and he builds up some genuine tension when the Screamers burrow through the ground, wielding blades and attack their prey, the human war survivors.
Although the special effects are below par and are now dated, the practical effects, chopped limbs, explosions are decent and there are some great matte paintings and the costumes look excellent.
As Joe Hendricksson (Weller) journeys across wastelands to negotiate peace the film becomes more visually interesting and atmospheric with its desolate cold surroundings, sweeping snow covered landscapes and fort complex. An ominous atmosphere is created especially in the darker scenes, which have some nice surprise moments and creepy children.
Screamers is a slow satisfying paranoia sci-fi with guns and robots on a small budget. Overall, it’s certainly worth the watch if you’re a fan of the genre.

The Shining (1980)

A caretaker is isolated with his family in a hotel for the winter season, however they are not alone and the past guests and staff spirits still live on putting the caretaker, his wife and son in grave danger.
The uncut 146 minute version which only reinforced the fact that it is one of the best, if not the greatest tension driven, psychological horror films that has been made.
Thankfully Kubrick doesn’t follow Kings ‘The Shining’ novel to the letter, or we have the hedged animals coming to life and an explosive ending, while grand it would have lost the reality and realism that Kubrick creates.
Jack Nicholson’s antics, Shelley Duvall’s fear, Danny Lloyd’s performance (one of the few child leads that isn’t annoying) is first-rate as Danny. Veteran and voice of Hong Kong Phooey, Scatman Crothers is superb and the array of actors small but memorable parts including, Bladerunners Joe Turkel as Lloyd the Bartender and Barry Nelson as Manger, Stuart Ullman.
It’s not the novel, Kubrick’s the Shining one of the most impressive horror films ever made and on so many levels.

The Thing (2011) 


It is 1982, after a signal is investigated in Antartica a team accidentally find a body and ship. A team of researchers are dispatched to assist and they soon find they’ve discovered something alien and deadly.
From the opening cinematographer Michel Abramowicz frames a shot of a sweeping snow-landscape as a yellow tractor ploughs across the ice and snow with the familiar beats of the originals score. Bearded Norwegian talk in their native dialogue and you feel you’re in good hands from the outset.
Although there are two females roles Mary Elizebeth Winstead as Kate gives it that Alien- esque dynamic with a prominent male cast but over all the look and feel is that of The Thing and it feels like a true prequel.
The recreation of the sets and the 80’s music add to the fan-boy fun and Marco Beltrami score excellently reworks Ennio Morricone original track which packs it’s own punches and chills.
It’s a dark film with lots of shadows possibly more so that it’s predecessor what adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere. It’s also bloodier, and gorier with an equally fantastic autopsy scene.
There’s no getting away from comparing directors Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s Thing to the original classic. That said, for new comers watching it cold it works as a stand alone film – as a prequel to the masses its a joy.
The team are equipped bio researchers which adds extra dynamic and pace to the story, like the viewer some of the characters have equal knowledge of what The Thing creature is doing early on like its audience who have already seen Carpenters classic. However, that fact the characters are up to speed on alien creatures purpose it takes some of the everyday down to earth person handling a situation, learning more as they go along away.
There’s some effective tension and there’s a great set piece on a helicopter. Due credit to writer Eric Heisserer and Ronald D. Moore, the Norwegian dialogue adds to the realism and attention to detail. As distrust builds the story becomes even more engrossing. There’s too much CGI nevertheless there’s some nice touches involving arm braces and tooth fillings thrown into the mix and Heijningen Jr. Handles the mix of splitting heads contorted bodies and faces perfectly while creating a great sci-fi horror ride.
The sound is wonderful with familiar moaning, the tentacles flaying noise and eerie screams galore. These complement the practical and computer effects. There are some discrepancies but none that detract or couldn’t be arguably accounted for.
The acting is more than adequate aided by a solid script. There are some notable performances including Ulrich Thomse’s Doctor Sander and Jonathan Walker as Colin. Winstead really carries the film and does it surprisingly well -as a side note she’s as moody and likable as Kurt’s MacReady.
There’s not a joke in sight, it’s serious. It’s a very fast paced film with enough surprises to keep it fresh while paying homage at the same time. The closing act is bloated but arguably so was The Thing’s 1982. But like its classic counterpart all is forgiven with its great epilogue.
Overall, semi-perfect replication -like The Thing organism itself.

The Thing (1982)

After being freed from its ancient crash site an extraterrestrial life form infiltrates an Antarctic research station, imitating taking the appearance of the researchers that it kills.
An atmospheric understated sci-fi at it best. I’ll never understand how Carpenter lost the lustre in some of the other film he made, nevertheless, his Thing is one of his best movies and also once of the best sci-fi movies ever. Despite being based on the same source material (before remakes were popular) the thing has a look and feel of it’s own and is very different from its 50’s counterpart.
The isolated setting, the astounding cinematography and scenery creates intrigue; drawing you in from the very beginning. It’s a perfect horror/sci-fi cocktail of Ennio Morricone’s haunting foreboding score, Rob Bottin and Stan Winston’s benchmark practical effects (which are to-date arguably unsurpassed) Carpenters claustrophobic set ups and Bill Lancaster screenplay.
It’s rare that every single actor is exceptional and supplied with effective dialogue. All the cast from Kurt Russell to Wilford Brimley as Blair are all captivating, great casting by Anita Dann. The characters have their own issues and as the paranoia sets in relationships are forged and other broken, building to a bold and satisfying conclusion.
This is more than just a cult film with a ‘monster’ hiding in warm places surrounded by snow, it’s a finely tuned science fiction horror masterpiece.

Die Hard (1988)

A New York cop’s holiday is cut short when a group of terrorists gate crash his wife’s office Christmas party and hold the workers for ransom.
Director John McTiernan’s Die hard is the archetype hostage action flick, often imitated rarely surpassed. It’s the sleeper hit that made Bruce Willis a star and remains sinisterly great fun to this day.
It captures that Christmas feeling perfectly with a distinguished score from the late Michael Kamen and some fine cinematography by the then unknown Jan de Bont (Speed Director).
The supporting cast are all first rate and include William Atherton, the late Paul Gleason, Bonnie Bedelia and the excellent Reginald VelJohnson as the typical cop Sgt. Al Powell. Alan Rickman, probably in his finest performance, is the heist leader Hans Gruber. His un-stereotype bad guy has oddly become a stereotype after being copied in countless action films.
Packed with compulsory 80’s one liners, over the top action and a well written script, Die Hard remains a great piece of entertainment.
Photo Actor Anthony Hopkins, smoking cigar. 1997Welsh greats, there’s been a few notably Richard Burton, although he made some dud films (Exorcist 2, ew) he was rightly known for his Epics, small dramas, drinking, marriages to Elizabeth Taylor and infamously narrating Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. And not forgetting his rendition of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milkwood. Surprisingly he never got a star on Hollywood’s walk of fame which is outrageous. There’s not been a Welsh man like him since. Anthony Hopkins is extremely different – very personal, arguably unfathomable yet captivating, however, he wasn’t blessed with the leading man Hollywood looks of Burton but struck gold with the character of Hannibal Lecter (see the faces of Lecter).
ANTHONY HOPKINS 11X14 PHOTOOver the years Hopkins has threatened retirement several times but never followed through, maybe the money draws him back being the son of a baker and coming from less than affluent Port Talbot. Incidentally it was Burton who encouraged Hopkins to become an actor and he enrolled at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff graduating in 1957. He has always had a love of music and in 1986, he released a single called ‘Distant Star’.
SpartacusAs well as many other acting parallels with Burton and sadly some personal ones. Sadly they both had an alcoholism problem and failed marriages. That said, Hopkins overcame his addiction. In 1992 he narrated a Jeff Wayne musical Spartacus with fellow Welsh girl Catherine Zeta Jones. While not as successful as War of the Worlds it was paradoxically significant mirroring Burton’s 1978 collaboration with Wayne due to his smooth, weighty Welsh tone.
Magic [Blu-ray]It would be difficult to comment on Hopkins varied and rich body of work, a star himself he has worked alongside the many of the most renowned names. Personally, for me the aptly titled Magic (filmed the year Burton was recording War of the Worlds) which in my opinion is Hopkins defining film moment, encompassing an array of balanced emotions including a creepy, mesmerizing and venerable performance, that no stage play can capture for all time. Thanks to film it’s there forever to be enjoyed. For me even though he picked up an Oscar for Silence of the Lambs it’s the aforementioned that is arguably award worthy (it sadly only picked up a Saturn and Edgar award).
ANTHONY HOPKINS 11X14 PHOTO
Since Lambs he’s had much success although many performances appear to be Sir Hopkins picking up a pay cheque, and rightly so. Each line could easily have been replaced by “okey dokey” with equal effect. “Okey dokey Mr Hunt”; “Alexander was Great, okey dokey”, “okey dokey CGI Beowulf”; “okey dokey Mina Harker”;“okey dokey Clarice”; “okey dokey you Wolfman” and “I am Odin okey dokey Thor my son”; you get the picture.
Thor Movie 11x17 HD Photo Poster Anthony Hopkins Odin #24Debateably Fracture, Remains of the Day, Nixon and The Edge aside many of Hopkins films have the okey dokey factor that I can’t help feel is Sir Anthony Hopkins cheeky Welsh boy smiling way of saying – thank you very much Hollywood, you are the embodiment of everything I am not…Tee-hee, while laughing all the way to the bank… and good for him!

If you’re a horror fan or have an interest in history you’ve most likely heard of Elizabeth Bathory. There’s been many films that incorporates the legend including Countess Dracula (1970) to recent teen supernatural slasher Stay Alive (2006). I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see a version that had originally cast Bond Girl baddie Famke Janssen as Báthory... Replaced by Brit chick talent, London Boulevards Anna Friel.
FAMKE JANSSEN 24x36 COLOR POSTER PRINTThis story follows the rise and fall of one of history’s most prolific serial killers, Countess Báthory who supposedly bathed in virgins blood to stay youthful.
This is a comprehensive fictionalised TV version directed and written by Juraj Jakubisko with mixed production values in both tone and atmosphere. The setting is fantastic and breathtaking, however, the exterior scenes lack the Gothic feel that the interiors have.
As a TV film, in several parts, the Monks narration and involvement arguably fits, however, as a film it may have benefited from the omission of the character entirely. You’ll also either love or hate the involvement of painter Caravaggio. Historical inaccuracies aside and the unnecessary humour injected usually by the monk, this incarnation of the legend is very interesting and adds food for thought to the tale of Báthory. In addition, it gives an interesting portrayal of politics,religion and royalty.

Anna Friel is fantastic as the miss-judged Erzsébet Báthory and gives a wonderful performance, full of range and emotional depth. It’s not all out horror, a possible nod to Ingrid Pitt in Countess Dracula. Co-Star Karel Roden is on top form as Juraj Thurzo and Vincent Regan is notable. The supporting cast do just that. The principle characters have strong motivations for their actions and the morale choices are at times shades of grey.

Bathory [Blu-ray]It’s not without its faults but there’s a handful of interesting dream and hallucination sequences and enough twists on the tale to keep you watching. This coupled with some fine locations, costumes and performances makes Bathory worth your time.

A London gangster is recently released from prison and tries to go straight after being offered a job by a clinically depressed borderline agoraphobic celebrity. However, he’s forcefully reined back into ‘the business’ by Gant a psychotic criminal boss.
A star-studded and familiar face cast come together in William Monahan’s passionate compelling and compulsory underworld film that manages to capture a contemporary 60’s feel. It benefit’s from an on location look which is wonderfully and stylishly shot capturing both beauty and darkness of L.A. and London. The back drop of London feels like a character itself with something interesting always going on screen.
For some reason despite the formulaically worn genre Boulevard manages to stay fresh. Colin Farrell’s main character Mitchell is likable, interesting and dynamic with a Steve McQueen air about him.
The character relationship dimensions and interactions are intriguing and a little bit different from the usual Brit flick considering linear story thanks to a at times ambiguous script. Leads Farrell, Keira Knightley and Ray Winstone are on fine form. And both David Thewlis and Ben Chaplin steal the show with their contrasting character performances. There are loads of great supporting actor appearances, Eddie Marsan,Matt King,Tim Plester and Sanjeev Bhaskar to name a few. Notable is Briony, Mitchell ‘s alcoholic sister played excellently by Anna Friel.

US director Monahan has created a slick, witty, violent and soulfully hard hitting film. It’s a quality production and despite the soundtrack being repetitive at times and a choppy last act – London Boulevard is near on perfection for the genre.
Reminiscent of Layer Cake (2004) quite frankly it’s the UK’s Carlito’s Way (1993), Colin Farrell’s Charlie Brigante,which is a simply a good thing.