Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

Revolt (2017) Review

Posted: October 31, 2017 in FILM REVIEWS/COMMENTS
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Revolt Movie PosterTwo survivors of an alien onslaught join together to survive.

If you enjoyed The Dead (2010) for its setting and location and Skyline (2010) for its aliens, Revolt director Joe Miale presents a similar feel but a on a bigger budget and with slicker camera work as the foreigner aid worker Nadia and American solider Bo journey though alien invaded Africa.

As Bo and Nadia become allies they encounter ruthless military, poachers and robot aliens. With plenty of shootouts and action sequences, notably a segment in a classic car where are chased down by alien hordes. Moon Bloodgood-alike Bérénice Marlohe is impressive as Nadia and grounds the film. Lee Pace does a good job as amnesia suffering soldier Bo. Excellent Jason Flemyng shows up in a brief but plot pivotal role. Played straight the acting is good along with the music on the gritty location settings. The effects are impressive and the robot alien design is quite good.

While there’s very few original elements it’s the way it’s put together is impressive,this is no Syfy channel looking TV offering. While not as hard hitting as Monsters 2, Miale gives us a war-torn road trip story about the human spirit, internal change, sacrifice in the vein of War of the World and District 9.

Overall, worth checking out if you enjoyed the previous mentioned films and serious toned invasion films.

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.

*** This review contains major ECTO-1 cameo spoilers! ***

A group of varied personalities form a paranormal company in order to catch ghosts and save New York City.

Based on Ivan Reitman’s “Ghost Busters” written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis without drawing any comparisons to the 1984 classic, Ghostbusters 2016 is 116m 28s of stylish sleek fun. Ghostbusters writers Katie Dippold and Paul Feig interestingly bring the team together with clean cut modern cinematic swagger. Feig, director of 2015’s Spy, turns his hand effortlessly to an effects driven comedy friendship rework.

With a Disney Haunted Mansion-like opening with a genuine jump scare, to animated mannequins and joy riding ghosts (including Slimer), there’s plenty of ectoplasm on display (that appears to follow) the excellent cast, especially Kristen Wiig’s Gilbert. Haunted by a paranormal encounter as a child, Gilbert who’s co-written ghost book loses her job when a ghost encounter video goes viral. Wiig along with kooky hot engineer Holtzmann played by Kate McKinnon light up the screen (no pun intended) and  soup loving Melissa McCarthy’s Abby Yates and Leslie Jones’ subway worker Tolan provide the comedy backbone.

While the scripted comedy doesn’t go for subtle wit, with some physical gags its mostly more on the nose comedy, infused with pop culture references, including Ghost and The Exorcist to name a few, it genuinely has its laugh out loud moments, Feig even throws in a fart joke for good measure. There’s lots of chuckles to be had, many come from Gilbert’s and Yates former, later rekindled friendship. Feig offers excellent set-ups and set pieces as proton packed armed they go about busting spooks in a rock concert (where Ozzy Osbourne cameos), the city street and subway at one point using some new toys. There are many memorable moments, a scene where they run some tests like Peter Parker trying out his web, along with a moment where Holtzmann goes all Clint Eastwood western to name a few. McCarthy and Jones’ comedy timing is impeccable, with smart Wiig and wacky genius McKinnon bouncing off wonderfully  – firmly stamping their mark. But overtly focal Chris Hemsworth sends his persona up somewhat as dim witted eye candy Kevin and steals many of the best moments.

As the team discover there’s a disturbed bell boy Rowan North (Neil Casey) amplifying paranormal activity in New York, during a carnival of phantoms we get to see the Marshmallow Man in balloon form and a pilgrim ghost take on the team. If anything the excellent CGI spirits on occasion are more spectral beings rather than the departed traditional dead, there’s a giant Gremlin-like flying creature and holographic like ghouls trapped in mirrors. Ghostbusters moves along at breakneck speed, and while the main bad guy may lack weight and grit thankfully this is counteracted by the genuine likable and watchable main cast.

While the CGI may lack that Indiana Jones/Poltergeist 80’s optical feel. The colourful ghost effects on display – reminiscent of The Frighteners, Beetle Juice and akin to the original second outing, along with the Ghostbuster (universe) cartoons, comics etc. have a charm of their own. At one time their Ghostbuster logo literally appears animated when Rowan mocks the team prior to him trying to destroy the city in a vortex, which lucky for the insurance company leaves little, if any mess. There are some fridge logic moments – why build a containment unit if you can just zapping the spooks into slimey gloop, unless it’s to study, either way I’m sure Ghostbuster aficionados will be able to explain.

There’s an array of welcomed cameos for series fans from the likes of Ernie Hudson, as the undertaker Bill and uncle of Tolan, to Bill Murray, in a surprising extended cameo as Martin Heiss, who accuses the Ghostbusters of being fraudsters. Dan Aykroyd, has an excellent brief appearance as the all knowing cab driver. Even Annie Potts appears as a hotel desk clerk, snapping the crowning, “What do you want?” Andy Garcia shows up as the Teflon Mayor and humorously loses it when he is compared to the Mayor in Jaws. While Charles Dance’s small role is fittingly cast as Gilbert’s uptight University Dean.

Feig offers along with the familiar theme tune supernatural hijinks and enough jump scare frights to give the youngsters the heebie jeebies. Dedicated to Harold Ramis, stick around for some end credit antics plus a post credit scene where Sigourney Weaver briefly appears as Holtzmann’s mentor Rebecca Gorin and the team discovers the name Zuul for the fist time, setting it up for a sequel.

Overall, with the controversial backlash and odd marketing now in the grave, as with any kind of rework comparisons will be made, taking my nostalgia glasses off, as a film in its own right, it’s spectre-tacular fun and comes recommend.

A former government agent Snow is unjustly sentenced to 30 years for crimes against the U.S. However, when the President’s daughter Emily visits the Maximum Security (MS) One space prison things go awry and Snow is offered a pardon if he can rescue her against all the odds. This gives him an opportunity to conclude some unfinished business if he can survive the the inmates released from their cryogenic chambers.

Lockout is not meant to be taken seriously and has unjustly met with criticism. In the spirit old school action films directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger deliver a fast paced, slick, sci-fi set in 2079 which lets loose an astonishingly pumped up Guy Pearce against 500 convicts. Although the twist is very predictable for anyone paying attention, there’s enough futuristic shenanigans, action setups, excitement and shocks to entertain.
Pearce goes against his usual dry intelligent typecasting as a wisecracking, chain-smoking, hard man which he pulls off with ease. For our viewing pleasure he’s clearly having a good time with Snow’s tounge and cheek dialogue and throwing himself into the action. Maggie Grace is more than adequate as Emilie Warnock and is physically put though mill and like Pearce has a strong albeit uncomplicated arc. The casting of Vincent Regan as Alex the leader of the prison revolt gives the usual stereo type bad guy some weight and intellect. While psycho Hydell played by Joseph Gilgun is intensely menacing as well as amusing.

The early stylistic bike chase sequence aside the effects including the MS One and space sequences are successfully realised. There is a notable cringe-worthy eye piercing scene and plenty of crunching fistfights as well a energetic interesting story. It’s edgy and hard hitting at times, the fight scenes and shootouts are spectacular and Alexandre Azaria score complements the on screen action. Luc Besson, Stephen St. Leger and James Mather’s writing harks back to the days of old when action heroes were just that. Even though derivate of the many sci-fi thrillers it borrows from it’s a finely executed and complied package. With visual and story elements reminiscent of Escape from New York (1981) and Outland (1981) the script delivers an abundance of one liners that even Schwarzenegger would be proud of.

Lockout is a straightforward, entertaining, sci-fi actioner that proves Guy Pearce can turn his hand to just about anything.

A professor in the business of disproving the existence of ghosts receives an invitation to investigate the alleged haunting at Edbrook House and embarks on chilling journey of discovery.

Based on James Herbert’s 1988 novel Haunted and the character of David Ash who appears in several of Herberts books this is a old fashion ghost story directed by veteran director Lewis Gilbert. Without drawing comparisons/differences to the book Timothy Prager, Bob Kellett and Lewis Gilbert’s adaptation is creepy enough and at the time of its release the twist was still pretty fresh. Nevertheless, it shares many elements with The Woman in Black novel/film and The Others (2001) based on The Turn of the Screw (1898) to name a few.

The few effects are sufficient but it works better when practical and old fashion camera tricks are used. Due to the period setting it is reminiscent of an Agatha Christie Poirot/ Miss Marple outing but this adds to the charm of Gilberts vision. The film is wonderfully shot, exteriors, internal sets of Edbrook House, cottages, train stations and outhouse are nicely recreated/utilised. There is a crisp bygone British ambiance which add to the 1928 backdrop and makes the ghostly goings-on more palatable.

Given the small main cast ensemble it’s an achievement it retains the viewers attention throughout. The film presents David Ash with a clean-cut image that Aidan Quinn executes with ease. The interaction with his sister is heart-warming and his decent into the supernatural or madness is subtlety convincing. Christina Mariell played by Kate Beckinsale handles the range of immaturity, sensuality and manipulation fittingly. Beckinsale is on put on show here, naked portraits, love making and skinny dipping – surprisingly it avoids gratuitousness thanks to the filming, performance and the tales framework. Both brothers are adequately portrayed with Anthony Andrews having an edge over his co-star Alex Lowe who delivers the jump scares . Notable are actors John Gielgud’s Dr. Doyle and Anna Massey who in retrospect both emote some perfect reactions given the context of the ominous story.

Haunted delivers some chilling moments but not enough investigation and too many false scares. That said, it’s an entertaining traditional ghost yarn with a touch of class.

I’m not a critic just a film fan, I love many b-films, even z-films which says a lot.
However, what drives me all Jack Nicholson is when films are well advertised almost pushed and are poor. Sometimes to a point where their marketing budget unjustly is more than the film. Which is fine if they’re good but what about when they are not so good.
Making films is hard work and a stressful process – no one goes out to make a bad film (do they?) and there’s nothing worse than your baby getting panned – it’s happened to myself. What’s annoying though is when people comment your work without even seeing it now that’s a Penn and Teller/ Dynamo trick that anyone would be impressed with. Why comment on something before you’ve seen it? I’ll never understand that.
I like to share my thoughts and my opinions any they may not be right or the definitive they are just my view. You should experience a film for yourself the world is full of Marmite lovers. In any case here are my thoughts on two horror films I had the ‘pleasure’ of seeing… If you’ve seen them what did you think?
Shark Night 3D (2011)
A weekend at a lake house turns into a nightmare for seven stereotype young vacationers as they are subjected to shark attacks, but its not only the sharks they need to worry about.
There’s some good effects and action set ups but Shark Night is poorly scripted, with an equally poor storyline that compared to Scooby-Doo makes it look like The Usual Suspects. It is certainly is a no brainer but if you want to see girls in bikini’s there’s more suitable places to get your fix or if you must even watch Piranha (2010). There’s really not much more to say about this clunker.
While slightly better in the production department compared to DTV films the whole film sinks of yesterdays fish which is odd considering its is the same director of entertaining The Final Destination (2009) and Cellular (2004) to name a few. It’s a shame as everyone loves a good shark film but this just isn’t one.
The Devil Inside (2012)
A daughter becomes involved in a series of exorcisms while trying to discover what happened during her own mothers exorcism.
Opening with some video news story of a police investigation showing three murders it quickly moves to present day. The Devil Inside is another supposed documentary footage film with some good sound design and few jump scares. However that’s about it. Unfortunately the format and story has been done so many times it’s become tiring and this is in the league of The Amityville Haunting (2011) as appose to Paranormal Activity 3 (2011), Rec (2007) or even The Last Exorcism (2010) and Grave Encounters (2011).
As a side note you may want to bring a pen with you for the ending, although it wont help wrap things up when you’ve viewed the site. As with the Fourth Kind (2009) you know it’s not real so it feels pointless to follow bread crumbs as it can’t create that willing suspension of disbelief.
Overall not bad for documentary type fiction but its just not that great when compared to the abundance of others out there.

There are films that are great, timeless and classic.Then there films that have an edge and atmosphere that resonates and stays with you. For me there is many and I’ll start with this handful. Some you’ll want to visit again and some you wont, they are a good and bad selection but one thing they have in common is that they ooze atmosphere.

Dead and Buried (1981) Dead And Buried Movie Poster 11x17 Master Print

There are a handful of horror films that I can say are underrated and exude atmosphere, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971), Dead People (1973) and Dellamorte Dellamore (1994) rank as some unsung cult sleepers. Dead and Buried while better known sits fittingly with the above for sheer eeriness, as director Gary Sherman takes you to the odd, clicky, fishing town of Potters Bluff where visiting tourists and passer through are killed only for their corpses to be brought back to
life to serve the town.
Reminiscent of Jaws 2 (no one believes the sheriff), The Wickerman (1973) (plotting towns people) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) (they are not who they clam to be) to name a few, Dead and Buried still manages to remain fresh and intriguing until the shocking end.
James Farentino wonderfully plays sheriff Dan Gillis who must solve the case and wrap up the mystery, and Melody Anderson is perfect as his wife. Jack Albertson gives a fine performance as the mortician and Robert Englund has a small role, the rest of the cast are first-rate.
Dead and Buried is only hankered by some choppy editing and despite the amount of writers on board, Sherman’s well crafted film benefits from ‘too many fingers in the pie’, including Alien scribe Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. The film is enhanced from a shot on location look which adds to the genuine creepiness of the goings ons and Joe Renzetti’s music is fitting. There’s some notable blood and gore effects by the late great Stan Winston which even though are a by product of the story they are excellently executed.
Overall, a must see excellent underrated chiller.

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

A disturbed woman recently released from a mental institute has various nightmarish experiences. She becomes further disturbed after moving to an old farmhouse on a Connecticut island with her husband and friend where they meet a mysterious squatter.
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is a 1971 low budget gem, possibly the foundation or inspiration for many horror films that followed. It’s skillful directed by John D. Hancock who creates a foreboding atmospheric horror, with chills and spills.

The supporting cast are notable and Zohra Lampert plays the lead role of Jessica admirably, with emotional range and depth. In addition, Mariclare Costello is excellent as the creepy lodger Emily.

It suffers slightly from some 70’s film trappings, the intrusive use of the score, choppy editing and the sound is a little off but these are only small distractions, and to the movies credit it doesn’t look like a low budget film.

The on location shoot adds to the realism and there are many surreal moments, involving the odd towns people, a girl in a graveyard and the body in a lake. Creepy old photos, folkloric tales, unexplained noises all add to the unease and tension of this smouldering horror.

It draws in the viewer making you consider is what Jessica experiencing real or not. The film builds up modestly, tackling possible vampirism, haunting and ghosts which are all handled in a believable manner. I can only compare the ambiance to that of The Haunting (1963), Exorcist (1973), House of the Devil (2009) Carnival of Souls (1962) and another underrated horror Dead People a.k.a Messiah of Evil made the same year (although not released until 1973).

It’s Hancocks ability to execute pure creepiness and eeriness that sets Let’s Scare Jessica to Death apart from many horrors. If only the majority of modern horrors could stir up the same sensations experienced.

The House of the Devil (2009)
Student Samantha Hughes takes a babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse, she soon realises her clients harbour a terrifying secret.
Director writer Ti West delivers an elaborate painstakingly created homage to 70’s and early 80’s style thriller/horrors. It feels authentic, from the period costumes, 70’s style title sequence, complete with font, swipes and stills reminiscent of countless films, to the music and camera work to match. The film is pure nostalgia and he does a fantastic job at handling a slow set up which keeps the viewer interested.

You fall back in love with the time and more importantly the innocent, struggling student character of Samantha, played superbly by Jocelin Donahue. There’s no 80’s style bad performances, it’s naturalist oozing 70’s grittiness. The House of the Devil is wonderfully acted, every member of the cast is first-rate with their subtle and realistic portrayals. There is an exceptional stand out supporting cast which include Tom Noonan (Manhunter 1986); Dee Wallace (Howling 1981); cult horror actress Mary Woronov and newcomer Greta Gerwig as Megan is notable.

The first three quarters of the film is crisp building up an everyday tension after a series of odd phone calls and awkward situations while taking the viewer back to around 1983 America. Pay phones, walk-men, Fawett hair and skinny jeans. The last last reel is a Rosemary’s Baby (1968) set up as you are jarred out of the normality that came before and the film turns on it’s head to blood, violence, murder and satanic ritual.

The lighting is naturalist, West is not afraid to cast shadows creating an eerie and ominous atmosphere. The effects and make up are excellent and the music soundtrack and score is well placed.

A tension building 70’s/80’s crafted horror but made in 2009. Perfect.

Valhalla Rising (2009)

Valhalla RisingLess conforming than 2005’s Beowulf and Grendel and more experimental, this is an artistic, slow and wonderfully filmed piece of cinema. Sadly, marketed as something of a 300 type spectacle will leave some critics annoyed.
A fighting one eyed slave escapes from the Vikings to end up with Knights on their journey to the Holy Land but they end up in a strange and primitive land.
The small cast led by ‘One Eye’ Mads Mikkelsen and ‘The Boy’ Maarten Stevenson who speaks for him is more than adequate in the lead roles. With sparse dialogue, strong visuals and stunning scenery. Feel the icy wind, taste the fresh cold water, watch the mist, smell the bark of the tree’s. This type of film is an acquired taste, it has a dreamlike quality to it. The bloody fight scenes are few and far between, heightened by a strong modern distorted guitar score that suits the film.

Valhalla Rising is earthly, atmospheric, religious, conventual and anticlimactic. Conventional viewers will be disappointed but others may enjoy the journey.

Day of the Woman (1978) a.k.a  I Spit on Your Grave

Meir Zarchi’s Day of the Woman, better known as I Spit on your Grave was a longtime banned VHS in the UK. Later passed by BBFC like Evil Dead (laugh) and The Last House on the Left to name a few ‘video nasties’.
I Spit on Your Grave Poster 27x40 Camille Keaton Eron Tabor Richard PaceIt’s a basic tale also written by Meir Zarchi, a New Yorker Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) rents a lakeside cottage in the woods of Connecticut, however, later is she gang raped and thought dead. However, alive and recovered she takes her revenge against the rapists.

Those who say it’s a feminism film are off the mark. It’s nasty, needless and arguably gratuitous exploitation. The rape scenes are graphic and I feel unfairly more intense than the revenge scenes later. A product of its time and made to shock, it certainly does that. It’s not a film I would want to watch again or have in my collection. However, I’m sure there is a strange audience out there who would.

The film is well constructed and directed. The locations are for the most part picturesque and ooze the 70’s vibe of that time gone by, in contrast, the lack of a music score sinisterly adds to the realism of the barbaric violence. The cast are below average, however, the unknown lead Keaton gives an amazing performance, and it’s a shame she’s only known for this film. As a side-note I was surprised to find out that she is the granddaughter of actor Buster Keaton.

Only watch for curiosity, Keaton’s performance or possibly the revenge kills. That said, it’s not recommended.

Dead People (1973)  a.k.a Messiah of evil

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.
Messiah Of Evil (1973)The story-line 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.

Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)

1994’s underrated zombie horror classic based on the comic Dylan Dog by Tiziano Sclavi, it stars Rupert Everett (in his best role) and enchanting Anna Falchi.
Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetary Man) Rupert Everett Anna Falchi Region 2 Pal Unrated German Import English Audio Widescreen“Zombies, guns, and sex, OH MY!!!” was the tag line, and while it’s true it has those things Dellamorte Dellamore is so much more, macabre and violent, with atmosphere you can taste. Excellent music by Riccardo Biseo & Manuel De Sica and direction amazingly executed by Michele Soavi.
Spellbinding and arguably the strangest, most effective zombie film out there to-date.

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Dawn of the Dead Laserdisc (1978) (Uncut) [EE3296]Dawn of the dead, there’s loads of reviews here. I’ll start with the bad, make-up consistency, poorly edited, poor sound, intrusive score music and a pie fight. Sounds horrid eh? Like a bad B-movie? Well Dawn of the Dead through all it’s faults is still a classic sub-genre film. I wont go into all the under tones, subtext of consumerism, mass hysteria, social commentary and satire yada, yada.
This is possibly George A. Romero’s most balanced and satisfying of all his zombie films. What it boils down to is film has dated.. Even so, the script is very well written and the film oozes atmosphere, the emptiness, notably the basement, and airfield scenes.

Tom Savini provides some fantastic gore effects, many of which stand up effectively today. While it’s gory, bloody, violent and disturbing, I would think today’s film viewer has hardened up to it, but this is not fault of the film, it is an amazing product of it’s time.

Many horror buffs think it’s overrated, but it’s more that just a straight horror, the character interaction, even down to the priest speech is understated. Should they have had a bigger budget and more time, maybe the faults I mentioned wouldn’t have been made. However, made they were and Dawn of the Dead is still the finest zombie film to date, a must see.

The Living Dead (1974)

Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti (original title)

Let Sleeping Corpses LieA crop dusting machine from the agricultural pest-control is emitting ultra-sonic waves that are re-animating corpses… 

A lot have said this is underrated, granted it’s overlooked. It is Atmospheric with an ominous feel. It has great locations and is at times genuinely creepy. However, it’s shares more with Fulci than Romero. The acting is not aided by the bad dubbing. To its credit it has an eerie musical score by Giuliano Sorgini and a number of suspenseful sequences but it borrows many of its best sequences from Night of the Living Dead. 

I watched director Jorge Grau’s offering under the title of ‘Let Sleeping Corpse Lie’ but whichever name you see the film under don’t be mistaken or mislead, it’s a solid zombie horror movie and of its time with fine cinematography from Francisco Sempere. It’s a lot better than the low budget DTV zombie films that there’s no shortage of at the moment.

Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner - The Final Cut - Movie Poster (Size: 27" x 39")I must admit I’m a huge fan of Ridley Scott’s and Blade Runner is one of his finest moments, panned by critics and by most on its release, it was ahead of its time on every level.
Whichever version of Blade Runner you prefer, it has atmosphere, great costumes and a mood of gritty realism about it. The neo-cityscapes, the dark street life and polluted air; all paint a grim futuristic picture complimented by a Vangelis score; which is touching and haunting. The lines are memorable and there are fantastic performances from Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos. Harrison Ford is perfect as the moody ex- Blade Runner and Joe Turkel should have won an award as the Frankenstein -like creator.

Blade Runner is quite a simplistic tale that is complicated by the fantastic visuals and effects. Lying beneath the plot that many writers contributed to, there’s heart and soul, questions of what it means to be human and even delves into our own mortality.

Its edgy hi-tech art-house that brings science fiction to life and while it’s not the most fulfilling sci-fi film it certainly is a fantastic visual experience.

With my recent blog about Governor Swarzenegger I thought it would be rude not to give a little mention to Stallone.
Ah, the 80’s battle of the box office hero’s, amongst and collection of characters the kings of Hollywood actions had their defining characters, Arnold had The Terminator, Bruce Willis had John McClane (see this blog) and Stallone had John Rambo.
Over the last twenty years Stallone has suffered the same career ups and owns as his boxoffice rivals. What separates Sly from his other ex-Planet Hollywood stars is that he’s an Oscar nominated director and writer (never getting the credit he really deserves as a filmmaker). Rocky aside oddly in comparison to the other aforementioned characters John Rambo his most iconic and significant character that changed noticeably over the course of four films. To sum it up in one sentence Rambo went from a quite realistic war veteran in First Blood, to a totally over the top combat instrument in 2 and 3, coming full circle as a mixture for Rambo.
The movie was officially greenlit by Nu Image/Millenium Films and would be loosely based on a novel called Hunter (a novel to which Stallone had the rights for), it involved Rambo hunting a feral beast. In 2009 Stallone stated that the story had been changed and would feature Rambo searching for trafficked women who disappeared  over the Mexican border. However, in May 2010 he confirmed that Rambo V was cancelled and that Rambo had been “retired”.
So in the meantime sit back and relax, if you’ve never seen them or are a fan, here are my thoughts on one of Stallone’s most memorable collection of films.
First Blood (1982)

John Rambo (BAFTA winner Sylvester Stallone) is a fairly reserved and
sensitive guy, a man who has seen and lived the horrors of the Vietnam
War. He returns to the good old United States of America to find his
only friend has died. You can sympathise with him and when small- town sheriff (Brian Dennehy) takes a needless dislike to him and his heavy handed deputies mistreat Rambo you can see why Rambo is sent over the edge.
In retrospect, unfortunately the sequels turned John J Rambo into
‘Rambo’ the icon who relies more on an M-16 to get him out of trouble.
In First Blood Rambo utilises the teachings from Col. Trautman (Richard
Crenna) his war training and combat skills to stay alive and outwit his

With less guns and explosions director Ted Kotcheff competently builds the tension and suspense and you get the feeling Rambo may not make it till the end. The locations are wonderfully atmospheric – foggy, earthly capturing the true outdoors. Stallone, Crenna and Dennehy are on form and the movie has a strong supporting cast that includes David Caruso in an early role as Deputy Mitch. Underpinning all this is Jerry Goldsmith’s memorable score.
Rambo First Blood is a grounded drama and action must see.
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
Picking up with Rambo doing hard time after the events of the first film, he is given a second chance, however, he is left for dead behind enemy lines and must escape from his Russian & Vietnamese captors and bring some Vietnam Vet’s home.
Where as the first film was credible, the late George P. Cosmatos’ far-fetched First Blood Part 2 metamorphoses Rambo into the memorable gun-touting icon. With a James Cameron and Sylvester Stallone screenplay it plays on Rambo as the loner war machine. Jack Cardiff’s cinematography is worth mentioning, especially the jungle scenes, and rice-fields where Rambo must dispose of an endless supply of solider extra’s using a machine gun and a bow. Comatos’ packs the screen with stunts and explosions and handles the subtler moments with ease. Jerry Goldsmith once again delivers a thriving memorable score, that adds atmosphere to the films proceedings.
Famous writer and actor Steven Berkoff is perfect as the Russian bad guy (although peculiarly similar to his own General Orlov from 1983’s Octopussy). With a distinguished cast including Julia Nickson as Rambo brief love interest Co Bao, Charles Napier and Martin Kove. Richard Crenna makes a welcomed return as Col. Trautman and once again is the mediator between Rambo and the ‘bureaucrats’. Again Sylvester Stallone is in fanatical preposterous physical shape and mumbles through the restrained scenes with Nickson convincingly.
All in all it’s a great 80’s action flick, delivering a larger than life sequel. However, if there were any serious war messages they’re lost in the mist of leeches, explosions and bullets.
Rambo III (1988)
Peter MacDonald’s Rambo 3 is far removed from Ted Kotcheff’s credible First Blood and follows the Rambo icon established in George P.Cosmatos’ First Blood Part II.
What’s notable from the outset is the real life political and conflict shifts since ’88, as the Americans are helping the Afghan rebels achieve freedom from the invading Russians. As the cold war ended overnight this appeared to hamper this Rambo’s already out of date story line box office success. That said, paradoxically it has made Rambo more significant and highlights how quickly an alliance can shift which may stick in some viewers throats satirically or not.
Richard Crenna once again plays Col. Trautman who is captured behind enemy lines and Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) must stage a solo ‘unofficial’ rescue mission. Again, Stallone is in obscene physical shape for this instalment, and is 100% committed to his role as Rambo. There’s a brief appearance by Kurtwood Smith who gives the usual effective performance. Sasson Gabai and Spiros Focás are part of an effective supporting cast. However, the Russians are an array of forgettable extras and Marc de Jonge Colonel Zaysen just can’t escape from the stereotype script he’s been given.
Rambo 3 is very watchable but in retrospect it’s fraught at times by diplomatic changes of the time, even more so in today’s climate and ironically this takes the fun out this instalment.
Jerry Goldsmith’s score is once again excellent and MacDonald who was handed the directing reigns last minute does his best. There are a few stand out scenes all of which display Stallones refined abilities, a stick fight and horse game. Nevertheless, Sylvester Stallone and Sheldon Lettich screenplay is all comic book dialogue. The film looses memento in the second act and by the third you don’t care who lives or dies.
There’s gun’s, helicopters, bullets, explosions, monks and glow-sticks if that’s your thing you’ll love Rambo III.
Rambo (2008)
Now living in  Thailand, Rambo joins a group of mercenaries to venture into war-torn Burma, and rescue a group of Christian missionaries.
While this is another sequel that keeps John J Rambo as ‘Rambo’ the icon who relies more on a gun to get him out of trouble, Stallone is on top form as the heavy, bulky, Rambo – out with ‘don’t push me’ and in with the new catchy saying ‘go home’.
Col. Trautman (Richard Crenna) is sorely missed but he still makes a brief (from the grave) appearance in Rambo’s dream. With this film is there’s no developed bad guy in a cinematic sense but there is however a bad army and silent leader which adds to the realistic tone of the film.
The acting is a mixed bag from the supporting cast, Brian Tyler’s music is fine, the locations and sets are fantastic but what stands out is Glen MacPhersons cinematography and Sean Albertson’ slick editing. Sly is on top directing form, giving a film that is like a war doc at times and you really see what damage bullets can do. Like is predecessors there is a message in Art Monterastelli’s and Stallone’s screenplay but it’s sometimes lost in the powerful gunfire and graphic blood. It’s not as smart as the First Blood but the ending rounds the film off well and Rambo ‘does go home’…
Yes, I’d happily pay to see another Rambo made. Well done Mr Stallone!
Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

Rambo goes on a rescue mission to Mexico to return a kidnapped loved one but a Mexican gang brings the war back to him.

Last Blood is an interesting Rambo instalment, just as you think Adrian Grunberg’s well directed outing is going to be a paint by numbers kidnap flick there’s a major twist on the Taken-like premise. However, while Sylvester Stallone’s and and few other writers flesh out Rambo (reminiscent of First Blood’s characterisation) aside from some old photos it lacks some much needed dialogue nods and throwbacks. Col. Troutman doesn’t really get a mention, his Vietnamese flame, Co Bao, doesn’t get a look in etc. No bandana or hair cut tidbits either. And the theme music is not as punchy as the early outings.

That said, Rambo’s father is mentioned , his mental state is explored and his reliance on medication is touched on. The last twenty minutes as the grizzled veteran dusts off his crossbows to take on the sex traffickers are particularly gory and graphic, appeasing Rambo action fans. There’s gut-wrenching carnage as he picks off a variety of stereotype cartel. Its as hard hitting as it’s predecessor and makes Part II and Rambo III look quite tame in comparison.

Hopefully, Stallone has one more Rambo outing left in him to come full circle, connect the dots with more Vietnam and First Blood, 2, 3 links not just weapon references. We always wanted him home but maybe Rambo is more entertaining back out in a war zone.

Nevertheless, it’s great to see Stallone as Rambo back on the big screen. Recommend.

Even if he were permitted to run for President, forget the governor of California, forget he’s married to a Kennedy, Arnold Schwarzenegger will always be the last action hero to me.
His bodybuilding Mr. Universe success aside, From Conan to Terminator 2, Arnold was one of the most bankable stars of the 80’s and early 90’s, I’ll never forget an interview where the late Paul Yates on the Big Breakfast Show asked, “do you ever lie to your wife,” he causally replied something like, “Of course, I told her Last Action Hero was a big hit’. Proof he’s always had a great sense of humour!
With some wise roles and taking from his love of the Bond films and his own humour, Arnold finely tuned the one liner quips and he became a household name. Oddly he was never really criticised for his high body counts and Stallone seemed to take all the negative press.
I’m sure if it wasn’t for the sad death of his mother and his own heart problems and surgery that he wouldn’t have slowed. However, issues allowed wannabe Arnie clones to try and take his mantel, nevertheless, the new style of action hero, where brain means brawn did take the limelight and Schwarzenegger was wise to turn to politics which he’d always been interested in.
From a small isolated village in Austria to king of Hollywood, Arnold’s journey is an attraction in itself, but that is another story…
Below are my thoughts on some of Arnold’s most entertaining films.
Raw Deal (1986)
Wrongly disgraced FBI agent Kaminsky (Schwarzenegger) reluctantly takes up a job as a sheriff of a small town but is given another chance, goes undercover and joins the Mafia to take them down.
Paul Michael Glaser’s Raw Deal, possibly with a different director could have become a successful mediocre 80’s cop/gangster flick. However, it become another Arnold vehicle which does them both credit, playing on his humour, packed with one liners, his physicality, he throws guys about and his action persona, he fire lots of guns.
Looking back and to put things into perspective, and removing The Running Man (1987) from the equation, Raw Deal fittingly sits in between Commando (1985) and Red Heat (1988). The story is superior to Mark Lesters Commando, a high body count, rescue action. However, it lacks the dynamics, acting or grounding of Walter Hill’s ‘buddy’ movie Red Heat.
While this is was a clever Schwarzenegger ‘vehicle’ what stands out about Raw Deal is that he’s not on screen all of the time and gives the movie breathing space, allowing the gangsters, a line up of familiar faces including: Sam Wanamaker, Paul Shenar and James Bond baddie Robert Davi to do their stuff. Darren McGavin gives a subtle performance as FBI agent Harry and Kathryn Harrold isn’t bad.
Raw Deal was never going to win awards but it’s an above average production, fast-paced, action-packed and entertaining. It’s a guilty pleasure and a must for Schwarzenegger fans – No one gives Arnie a Raw Deal.
The Running Man (1987)
Arnold Schwarzenegger is Ben Richards who after being set-up with some altered surveillance footage is wrongly-convicted as the Butcher of Bakersfield. Later captured after a prison break he must try to survive a public execution gauntlet, staged as 2019 highest rated TV game show.
Nothing like the Steven King (writing a Richard Bachman) novel, veteran TV director Paul Michael Glaser gives an extraordinary vision of the TV consumer future. While slightly dated and its annoying use of footage from parts of the a film itself The Running Man (1987) was ahead of its time and still is an atmospheric and engaging ride.
It’s packed with outlandish stereotype characters, larger that life bad guys, big action sequences and the traditional Arnie one liners. But there’s a message that runs deep in Steven E. de Souza’s screenplay, which reflects our society, it’s fascination with realty TV, gambling and our fear of 24 hour surveillance, corrupt powerful corporations and manipulation by the media. Tackling the question in its own way, can you believe all you see?
There’s a dreamlike quality to the film, and the darker scenes ooze atmosphere. The costumes, sets and locations are striking, showing a great contrast between the different classes, the score is memorable but what makes this sci-fi work is that you actually care about the characters. The supporting cast are excellent, including Maria Conchita Alonso at her physical best, Alien’s (1979) Yaphet Kotto and Predator’s (1987) Jesse Ventura. Mick Fleetwood plays his older self and real game-show and TV host Richard Dawson is excellently cast as Killian. It goes without saying that Scwarzenegger is on top form in this physical role.
It’s great entertainment, it’s time to start running, don’t take my word for it, watch it.
Red Heat (1988)
Walterhill is on directing form in this Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick. Red Heat despite some political shifts still holds up today. Schwarzenegger looks leaner and meaner than ever in the role of Ivan Danko a Captain who is sent to the U.S.A to bring back fleeing Russian drug dealer back to Moscow assisted by Det. Sgt. Art Ridzik (James Belushi).
The supporting cast are an array of familiar faces including Gina Gershon, Laurence Fishburne and Peter Boyle. Ed O’Ross is convincing as the menacing drug dealer Viktor. Jackie Burch casting is perfect, Schwarzenegger’s Danko character is the just right as the fish out water Russian and James Belushi is on top form as the wise cracking cynical detective, it’s the perfect ‘buddy’ cop movie. The one liners flow fast at the expense of the culture differences between the USA and USSR.
Aside from James Horners rehashed music score from another Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, Commando (1985), Red Heat feels original and surpasses predecessors, setting the foundation for many copycat films that followed. There’s a witty script but it’s far meatier than your average action film, befitting from a shot on location feel, giving it some believability and atmosphere.
All in all it’s a better than expected, an enjoyable action film with Arnold in his prime.
Total Recall (1990)
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Douglas Quaid who has the planet Mars on his mind. He goes for virtual vacation, however, things go awry as he discovers that his job, marriage and life maybe a lie. After a murder he’s forced to go to the planet for real but while on the run he finds that he may hold the key to an ancient Martian artifact.
Set in the year 2084 there are some nice futurist touches, talking robots, virtual tennis coaches, electronic nail painting to name a few. The internal mars sets are just that, sets, but the external, airport and mine shots are very effective. There is a wonderful otherworldly score by Jerry Goldsmith and some great costumes and spacesuits designed by Erica Edell Phillips.
RoboCop (1987) director Paul Verhoeven once again uses Ronny Cox as the menacing protagonist in this Phillip K Dick inspired story. In it’s day it was hailed for its special effects and make-up effects and while these have dated slightly, it still holds its own as an entertaining science fiction.
If the director reins and role were given to anyone other than Arnold this may have been a sci-fi thriller, but with Arnie’s larger than life screen presence and Verhoeven highly-flavoured visuals Total Recall is not given a noir look that would usual accompany such subject matter becoming a vivid futuristic action flick.
While the acting is a little overboard with a cast that include Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside and Marshall Bell it’s saved by the intriguing story that moves along at a fast pace and Schwarzenegger performance. The rest of the cast are hired bad guys, mutants and an array of quirky characters.
Overall Total Recall is a great piece of captivating entertainment so “for the memory of a lifetime Rekall, Rekall, Rekall.”
Predator (1987)
A team of commandos find themselves hunted by an extra-terrestrial hunter…
John McTiernan directs the perfect cast including the likes of Carl Weathers, Bill Duke and Jesse Ventura who are just right in this action orientated alien film. Arnold Schwarzenegger is armed with some great one liners but packs in a good performance with some subtler moments.
Apart from The Thing like shot at the very beginning, it’s and original piece that deservingly started a franchise. . To be picky only some of the editing and effects let the film down. Those aside, the music by Alan Silvestri is fitting with it jungle beats building up apprehension and suspense throughout the film. This film could have easy fallen into B movie territory, but the great Cinematography, creature effects and costume design keep it grounded.
The film builds up in true monster fashion by holding back the Predator’s reveal. Not since Alien has there been such hand iconic creature which Kevin Peter Hall wonderfully brings to life. John McTiernan notches up the tension in the final showdown and writers Jim Thomas & John Thomas give us a brave bold ending.
One of the most enjoyable rounded sci-fi films ever.
The Terminator (1984)
The Terminator remains one of the most enjoyable Science fiction films of all time. Bradfield’s pulse pumping score and nostalgic music from an array of obscure bands all adds to the lure of this timeless classic.
James Cameron’s direction is excellent, giving the visuals scope and depth. His above average story and screenplay stop it falling into B-movie hell.
The time travel is logical; in as much as if Sarah had never met Kyle, John would have been the off spring of one of her dates. Either way it’s highly satisfying science fiction and not science fact.
The films cast include Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen who play it natural and straight, Bill Paxton and Brian Thompson briefly turn up. The leads Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor give flawless performances and keep you routing for their survival from the now infamous Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the Terminator. The film has a gritty and edgy look, with some gore moments, even though some of the effects have dated, the practical effects from Oscar winner Stan Winston hold up to this day.
A defining moment for sci-fi action, Schwarzenegger and Cameron. The Terminator is compulsive viewing.
Commando (1985)

With a larger than life story, catchy tag-line and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name in bold letters you felt at the time this action could be something special.

In 1985 Schwarzenegger need only fend off Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone to become number the one action hero. Mark L. Lester’s Commando gave Schwarzenegger the opportunity to become a mainstream action star without the high concept’s of being a killer robot or an amoral barbarian. Schwarzenegger, avoiding bad guy typecast quickly became a good guy hero and the rest is history.

In true 80’s tradition Commando’s writer’s Steven E. de Souza, Jeph Loeb, Matthew Weisman deliver a simplistic paper thin, yet pleasing plot. Arnie is John Matrix, a retired elite commando who has only a few hours to rescue his daughter Jenny (a young Alyssa Milano) from an exiled dictator played by Dan Hedaya.

The cast are perfect for this genre and include Predtor’s Bill Duke and Vernon Wells in his best role as Matrix’s adversary Bennett. Striking Rae Dawn Chong is Matirix’s reluctant sidekick and has some amusing lines. And David Patrick Kelly plays a memorable role as the slippery bad guy Sully. Despite some filming and editing goofs, it’s a well-constructed film, Lester’s locations and sets, day and night shoots are worthy of note. James Horner accompanying score is excellent, with its catchy tune, horns and xylophone.

Genuinely funny, Arnold takes one liners quips to a new level thanks to Steven E. de Souza, screenplay. The body count is high and although far-fetched, for example, Arnold carrying a lot of muscle and firepower takes on a small army of extras, he is simply fascinating. With some remarkable practical stunts, brawl scenes, knife fights, car chases and plenty of shooting, Commando has everything an action film should have.

Over all it’s great action fun and as soon as Arnie picks up that first weapon you know, “Somewhere, somehow, someone’s going to pay.”

And so it begins…
Baron Wilton, Iliana and Lucia and array of other Blood Hunger characters have been let loose on the world, not just as a novel but as audiobook (on iTunes); a downloadable e-book and there’s also prelude film Terminus directed by Sean Parsons. There’s no lunch box just yet.

What’s different about Blood Hunger? 
Gathering dust amongst the thousand of vampires books lay a treasure. It’s a definitive vampire story that chronicles their ancient origins and follows the fall of the vampires in the 15th Century to their return and plight to gain control in the present day.
Blood Hunger brings vampires back to basics, striping out the pop culture and watered down characters that they have so often been portrayed as. Blood Hunger returns to the tales, folklore and traditional vampire ‘rules’ but injects new lease of life into the dead. They’re are enigmatic, raw and dangerous killers that made the vampire legend infamous.

It follows Lucia Ferrara’s discovery of a body in Romania, dubbed the ‘Ice Prince’ which is significant enough to put her and her boyfriend Max Lowe in the media spotlight. Iliana and her sister’s journey to the United Kingdom after self-imposed isolation in the United States. News that the ‘Ice Prince’ has been discovered ceases their many years of blood abstinence and they unleash a bloodthirsty terror on humankind leaving a trail of death from Mississippi to London and the crimson stained Welsh countryside.
Prepare yourself, their first bite will be your last!
Blood Hunger the vampire horror is out now from a variety of online books stores, including Amazon US and Amazon UK you can also order it from your local store.