Archive for the ‘Films’ Category

Now That’s What I Call Films – 2012!

December 28, 2012

Before I started writing this, I read back over my 2011 list – incidentally, the last blog post on here due to extreme laziness and no longer living alone with a lot of time to kill and wine to drink – to remind myself how much I wrote, in what “style” etc. in case this would inspire me.

It didn’t. It frightened me a little. Damn, I wrote quite a lot, and tried to make it funny! …but hey, you don’t come here for consistency. You come here because either a) You’re bored b) I harass you into it on Twitter c) You love me a little bit.

Hopefully there will be something here to cater for you, however many of the above categories you belong in, but if not then don’t worry, it won’t take long and will be generally painless. 

As the actress said to the bishop. 

So, here goes – my films of 2012, in no particular order, and probably with numerous revisions between now (Dec 24th) and whenever the hell I get around to publishing it. If I can remember the password to my blog. 

 

A Horrible Way To Die 

Darling, I'm home! ...oh, you've killed everyone.

Darling, I’m home! …oh, you’ve killed everyone.

 

Probably the “smallest” film on the list, this one really worked for me. There’s a great atmosphere throughout, one of those films where you just feel that something nasty is coming, but are not 100% sure what or to who. There are great performances across the board, but AJ Bowen is a stand out for me. The direction is also notable, Adam Wingard clearly has (or at least employs here) a style with which he is comfortable, giving it a less polished sheen than many would have done with such a film, which adds to the feeling of authenticity.

This is probably one of those “is it a horror?” films, akin to Red, White and Blue on last year’s list, but that’s a debate for which I don’t have time here, suffice to say that The Daily Mail probably wouldn’t like it and that’s generally a good yard stick… 

If you haven’t seen this I highly recommend it. It’s not really a feel good have a few beers with friends film, but it’s one to which I have returned and will no doubt do so again. 

 

The Aggression Scale 

Leland and Jason discuss their plans

Leland and Jason discuss their plans

Another film that I have seen twice this year, and one to which I’m glad I returned recently. I saw this in the early part of the year and noted it as “list worthy” at the time, but as the list grew some of those I had seen many months ago started to fade – from memory as much as anything else. Thankfully I re-watched this in November, and remembered why it’s on here. 

Fairly low budget, cast sprinkled with Twin Peaks alumni, simple home invasion / revenge setup. Sounds a bit “meh?” Well yes. Yes it does. But it isn’t. Hooray! It’s actually a fun, violent, fast moving watch, and one that really gets the blood pumping. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s definitely worth checking out. 

As part of my research into this article i.e. going on imdb while writing it, I discovered that this is directed by the guy who did Automaton Transfusion all those (5 or 6) years ago. Whilst from memory that was quite a fun film, this is an altogether different beast i.e. there are no zombies or scenes of limb lopping. That said, there are squirmy violent moments which will make you go “Ow” or “Ooh”, depending on your proclivity. …and it did make me want to watch Twin Peaks again. 

 

Avengers Assemble

I'm in the woods, where's the cabin?

I’m in the woods, where’s the cabin?

On to a slightly larger, more aggressively marketed film that I imagine you are aware of. I tend to see most of the “tentpole” Summer releases (Oo-er, sounds a bit rude) at what passes for a cinema here, and I think this was the first biggie of 2012. 

And it was fucking great.

I’m not a superhero fanboy or ubernerd with these things, but I’d watched and enjoyed all of the Marvel films building up to this one and was, like most people, curious as to whether or not it would work. The happy news is that it most certainly does, and was one of the funniest films I saw in the cinema this year. I think this is what raised it up into this list for me, as we’ve all seen enormous “smashy smashy look at the shiny things and money on the screen” hundreds of times, but funny, well-written, and well acted? Luxuries! 

I’m sure some people were (and still are) all “it’s for kids, super heroes fighting each other is hardly worthy of such an esteemed and highly regarded list as this”. But frankly, they can piss off.

 

The Dark Knight Rises

I want to SIIIIING!!!

I want to SIIIIING!!!

Sticking with massive budget superhero films, here’s Batman! And this time, he’s cranky. 

To be fair, he’s pretty cranky in the two preceding films, but now he’s taken it to a new level – walking with a cane, hiding away like Howard Hughes (though we don’t see any actual bottles of piss) and not saving the world. Until Bane comes along! Bane, who, like many others, I’d never heard of before this film. Apparently he has a role in one of the Schumacher films, but they’re very much “watch once then forget”, and I’ve done that. 

Anyway, unfamiliar non-classic villains aside (Scarecrow, non Batman nerds…?) I had high hopes for this film, and wasn’t disappointed. We actually took a boat to another island which has a proper cinema in order to see this on a decent sized screen with the sound as it should be, and it was worth it. Having said that, I expect to enjoy the inevitable re-watch at home on a 40” TV as well, as I have done the other two in the series.

 There are some films where a running time of over 90 minutes makes me groan before, during and after, and others where 155 minutes actually seems about right. This is one of those rare films, where I didn’t find it dragging at all and wasn’t constantly checking my watch. Admittedly this is at least in part because I don’t own a watch, but you get my point. 

A fitting end to a fine trilogy, but you probably already either know this, or are not interested. So onto a slightly smaller film! 

 

John Dies At The End

Nice to MEAT you (© Arnold Schwarzenegger)

Nice to MEAT you (© Arnold Schwarzenegger)

I was lucky enough to see this at the Abertoir festival in November, and went in with minimal knowledge of the source material. I knew it was based on a book, one that (well read and intelligent) people I know had read and liked, and that the follow up to this book was called “This Book is Full of Spiders”. 

That was enough to pique my interest, but add “Directed by Don Coscarelli of Bubba Ho-Tep and Phantasm fame” and I’m in. I did however have fears that it would be achingly cool (spit) or difficult to get for the uninitiated. Happily, this was in no way the case. It was in fact a massively entertaining, funny, well written and pleasantly splattery film. Yes it’s non-linear, and yes not everything necessarily makes 100% sense, but name me a film where it does? 

It’s a tale of aliens, weird drugs, time travel, and all sorts of other fun stuff. That’s more than I knew going into it, and so is all you need to know about the actual film at this stage. 

Everyone on screen looked as if they wanted to be there, and fair play to Paul Giamatti (of whom I’m not generally a great fan after the frankly awful Sideways that everyone else seemed to fawn over even though it was incredibly dull and up its own arse) for appearing in and adding his name to this, as it could help bring in a wider audience. Having said that, I think this film has “cult” written all over it i.e. a relatively small number of people will see it out of choice and love it, but the majority will remain blissfully unaware. For some people this is a good thing, as they are dicks and like to keep “their” little films to a small band of people and don’t like it when they become popular. Dicks. 

But I digress. As and when you get the chance to see this (according to the ever reliable Wikipedia, it just came out on VOD in the US and opens in some cinemas in January) I highly recommend that you do just that. Then tell loads of people about it so that they go and see it as well and annoy all the dicks.

 

 The Hunger Games

Gary Oldman's Dracula had let himself go a little

Gary Oldman’s Dracula had let himself go a little

“…but it’s based on a book written for children, and you’re a grown adult!” …say numerous arseholes who then go on about how good the Lord of the Rings film trilogy is without a hint of irony. 

I was sceptical about this one before seeing it, but there were hints in what I read that it could actually be quite fun / violent. I waited, read reviews, spoke to people who had seen it and whose opinion I respect, and got the impression that it was actually really good. So, logically, like a grown adult, I watched it. 

And lo, it was indeed really good. I saw the “uncut” version i.e. the UK blu-ray which has a (little) bit more blood in it apparently (the film version, not the actual disc. That would be unpleasant) and was pleasantly surprised at how harsh and violent it was, particularly in the opening scenes of the actual games themselves. There was quite a long build up to this, but it was handled well – developing the main characters enough to make you care, without over indulging them. 

Anyone who has seen Winter’s Bone knows that Jennifer Lawrence is a fine actress, and so it comes as no surprise that she carries this off with no problems, and is more than ably supported by both the young and old(er) characters. Visually the film is top class as well, full of colour and splendour, as well as menace.

If you haven’t already done so, remove the spectacles of cynicism and sit back for a couple of hours of entertaining, fairly violent, and even occasionally moving cinema. I’ll be surprised if you walk away disappointed. 

 

The Awakening

Is she small...or far away?

Is she small…or far away?

And so onto the spooky ghosts section of the list. …or are they? And what is a ghost, anyway? The answers to these, and many other questions, can be found in The Bible.

Just kidding. 

It seems that after a flood of violent and mean horror / torture films over the last 10 years or so, ghosts have made a bit of a comeback. So much so in fact, that we now have a flood of spooky haunted house / school / child / penguin films. Many of these are crap. Some of them are very good. In 2012 we have been blessed with a few that veer much closer to the “very good” section, and for me The Awakening was one such film. 

It’s not particularly original (name me one film that is…) but it’s very well done. It’s the old “sceptic gets invited to investigate / debunk a ghost in a large old building, finds there is more to it, has a (fairly random) shag with someone who works there, then… etc. etc.” story, but it doesn’t pack itself with jump scares and blood as so many do. This isn’t to say that there aren’t jumpy moments – of course there are – but this film stands on the performances and, probably even more than those, the look of it all. It does a great job of transporting the audience back to the post-wartime (or, with hindsight, between-wars time) setting and is one of those films which, particularly if watched alone with the lights out, can make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. 

The ending / twist seems to have divided the critics / audience, and I can understand this, and it’s definitely not a film for hardened one dimensional gorehounds, but if you want something well made, beautiful looking, and creepy – in a good way, not in a strange uncle way – then The Awakening deserves 90 minutes of your time. 

 

Sinister

Pornography as it was before the internet

Pornography as it was before the internet

Another of this year’s ghost / demon / entity themed horrors, but you’re more likely to be aware of and / or have seen this one, as it was fairly aggressively marketed and with the usual “This is the scariest film in the world ever and you will undoubtedly shit yourself and scream like a big softy” blurb. In reality, your pants and trousers are likely to remain unsoiled, but it is a very creepy and affecting film.

Again I expected the usual “cats in the fridge / faces in the mirror” jumps and shocks, and again whilst these aren’t entirely absent, they aren’t what give this film the edge for me over the rest of the pack. It’s not a “found footage” film, but it deals with some footage which our “hero” finds in the attic of his new house. Which just happens to be a murder house. 

So far, so bog standard sounding right? But no, there is some seriously creepy (and realistic) stuff on the film reels that he, and we as the audience, watch one by one as the film progresses. Add to this one of the freakiest scores / soundtracks I’ve heard for a while, some above average acting performances, and a weird presence that looks distinctly like a member of Slipknot, and you have what is for me one of the most unsettling films of the year. 

It’s not necessarily scary in a traditional sense, but it is unnerving and will get under your skin, and that for me is a rare win from Hollywood these days. 

 

The Raid

Shoot the floor! SHOOT THE FUCKING FLOOR!!!

Shoot the floor! SHOOT THE FUCKING FLOOR!!!

This is one of those films that everyone says is amazing and will blow you away, so you think “yeah yeah, whatever”, then loads more people say the same, including the ones to who you actually pay attention, so you decide to watch it.

 And it blows you away. 

I’m sure there are plenty of martial arts films from the various far flung corners of the globe in which they do a lot of the same things; but, like most people, I haven’t seen them. I have however seen this, and it is excellent and came out in 2012, so it’s the one that gets on the list. Extremely violent, fast paced, funny (ok, maybe not everyone will find it funny, but it is) and with numerous “What the fuck?” set pieces, this is a film that is meant to be enjoyed as opposed to studied.

It’s also a film to which there is no need to make a sequel or continuation. It stands alone as a top quality piece of bone crunching entertainment, and all concerned can hold their heads high and move onto whatever takes their fancy next. 

Sit back, don’t take PCP (you can’t do the things they can in the film, no matter what it makes you think. You’ll get hurt), and enjoy 100 minutes of spectacular fighting and killing. Can’t say fairer than that.

 

God Bless America

Change the jumper or I shoot you in the face

Change the jumper or I shoot you in the face

This one really came out of nowhere for me, and I absolutely loved it. If you only know Bobcat Goldthwait as the guy with the freaky annoying voice in the Police Academy films, then prepare to be pleasantly surprised by his film making skills. 

It’s a simple story: terminally ill man decides to  have a go at ridding the world of its most repellent specimens before he dies. Not sea cucumbers, not camel spiders, not even those little fish that swim up your jap’s eye – he has more worthy targets: humans. Not all humans though – if you’re even a half decent person, you’re safe – but instead those who don’t really deserve any more time on the planet. 

I should point out that these are his opinions, and he is a fictional character. I would never dream of going on a killing spree, wiping out pointless wastes of skin and breath to benefit the greater good. Ok, I might dream of it, but that’s my brain’s fault. 

Anyway, enough psychology. This is without doubt a very dark comedy, which will appeal to anyone with a good i.e. slightly twisted sense of humour. You may even find yourself siding (heavily) with our hero Frank, expertly played by Joel Murray who you will undoubtedly know from something but probably won’t quite be able to place what. Did I mention he has an equally likeable teenage sidekick called Roxy, who is smart mouthed but not in the way most teenagers are i.e. you don’t want to punch her repeatedly in the face? Another fine reason to watch this. 

More people should see this film. Anyone reading this should see this film. It’s not perfect, it’s not shiny and flawless, but it is quite inspirational and very funny.

  

…and that’s it. Extremely notable mentions go to The Woman In Black, Chronicle, Prometheus (shut up, haters!), Father’s Day, Cabin In The Woods, Cell 211 (technically from 2009, but I saw it this year and it’s utterly brill) and Sightseers.

Any and all of these could have got into this list had I written it on a different day in a different mood, and all deserve to be seen. 

Please feel free to let me know via the comments section if you agree, disagree, or just want someone to talk to.

Bring on 2013. 

 

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Now That’s What I Call Films – 2011!

December 30, 2011

Some of you will know that whilst I’m a keen film watcher, I’m also a quite lazy film reviewer i.e. I don’t often actually do it.

This is down to a number of reasons – time, inclination, and the aforementioned laziness, as I enjoy doing it when I can be bothered, but given the choice of watching another one or writing about the one I’ve just watched, the watching will always win. 

Anyway, with that in mind, I’ve been making a note of the films I’ve seen in 2011 that have, at the time of watching, seemed notable i.e. better than most of the crap that is spewed out for the worn down entertainment sensors of the average human being. 

Based on the “hilarious” YouTube clips people post of their dog barking at a television screen, even our canine friends know when they’re being force fed visual faeces. When little Billy the terrier yaps his furry face off at the latest High School Musical film, he’s not “getting into it”, he’s wishing you’d turn off the video camera so that he can rip your slack-jawed gawking face off without fear of getting the needle. 

But I digress. 

So, in no particular order, here is a list of some of the films that I’ve seen in 2011 that I consider worthy of writing something positive (not always universally, mind) about. I’m not going to go into plot details, and am bound to have missed some that I really liked, but I can live with that. 

 

Tucker and Dale vs Evil 

I have no idea what country this is from, but it is a fine poster

This was a real breath of fresh air, and one of the most fun times I’ve had with a horror film in years. Having received its premiere at CowFest 2011 (the spoiler-heavy drunken video review can be seen here: http://bit.ly/s9ziVz), this is a film that I have highly recommended to friends and been delighted to see that they agree – even those not really into horror. 

If you have the right kind of sense of humour, the comedy in the film is probably more prevalent than any real “horror” anyway – yes there’s humourous over the top gore and deaths, but at no point will you feel horrified in the true sense of the word. I mean this entirely positively by the way.

Anyway, this isn’t the time for a horror / comedy debate, just watch the damn film! The performances, particularly from the titular lead characters, are spot on, and help raise this above the standard (relatively) low-budget fare of which we all see too much. I’m a bit of a sucker for half-decent production values (unless the film turns out to be a massive turd within the first 20 minutes) but no amount of gloss and sheen can make up for vapid, empty-headed characters played by someone who really should have saved their first time being rogered on the casting couch for something a little more special. 

 

Red, White and Blue 

Insert inappropriately comical caption here

You want contrast? Hell, I’ve got contrast. Simon Rumley’s “Red, White and Blue” is not an easy watch at all. It’s a bit of a genre buster, and not in the fun way of the previous entry on this list! Essentially a (fairly harrowing) drama, it has scenes that would make some refer to it as a horror film, but personally I feel that is incorrect. Would you call Goodfellas a horror because it has (at times strong) violence?

It’s a fairly bleak film, but not without feeling – in fact, quite the opposite for some of the characters, who are driven to their actions based on the strength of their emotions. It’s quite rare for a film to really get to me and make me feel something beyond easy shock or enjoyment, but this one stayed with me for a while. 

Probably not one to watch if you’re feeling a little empty and fragile, but if you want to be challenged and made to feel uncomfortable, then this is definitely worth a watch. More powerful than anything made this year that cost over $100 million, no question about it. 

 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes 

Give me a banana or I’ll throw my shit at you!

I don’t get to the cinema much these days, mostly because we don’t really have a “proper” one where I live, or anything that can show much beyond the bog-standard seat fillers. However, I am a bit of a sucker for going to see the big summer blockbusters. Sometimes, this is a painful, life-questioning experience (Transformers: Dark of the Moon) but other times, it is completely and utterly worth it. 

The new Apes movie was, without a doubt, one of these times. Rarely does a film make me want to cheer in parts, especially in a room filled with people who I don’t know, but hell I was close with this one! It’s one of those films that, rightly or wrongly, could stand or fall on the quality of its special effects, as they are so key to the audience’s empathy and enjoyment. Now we all know that expensive shiny effects do not a good movie make (Transformers: Dark of the Moon) but the motion capture from Andy Serkis as Caesar on display here is the best I’ve seen to date. At no point do any of the apes look like last minute CGI additions to fill the screen, so in this case the effects budget was money well spent.

Not all the performances are that great to be honest – I still feel Tom Felton has a way to go before he could even consider being able to carry a film – but this is a minor quibble and didn’t really impact on my enjoyment. I mean, it’s not as if he’s a total charisma vacuum like Rosie Huntington-Whitely in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. 

One of my most enjoyable movie watching experiences of the year, without a doubt.

 

Masks 

Not to be confused with the Jim Carrey movie

From a film seen by millions, to one seen by probably hundreds. Chances are you will be unfamiliar with Masks, as was I before it appeared on the schedule at the Abertoir horror festival in November. This could easily have been 2011’s “Amer”, as it was billed as an Argento / giallo homage in many ways, so I was ready for my eyes to be happy but not necessarily my brain. 

Instead, what we got was a well made, intelligent and not overly “flashy for the sake of being flashy” horror film, that wasn’t simply the makers saying “Look! We’ve watched Suspiria! Love us!” 

I should point out that isn’t a dig at Amer, which I generally liked, but more my idea of what I think a lot of people expected from this film, Masks.

Of course, there are unquestionable parallels to Suspiria – the setting, the colour palette – but it would be a lazy reviewer who would call it a rip-off in today’s world. That is, unless you expect every film you see to be 100% original in all its ways, and for a director to be not in any way influenced by the films and artists who he or she admires. 

If you are strongly averse to the likes of (older) Argento movies, you will probably watch this and think I’m talking out of my arse. Which is fine. But I’m not. 

For me, this was the most pleasant surprise of the excellent Abertoir festival this year. Even more so than realising that the chip shop was only 10 minutes walk from our cottage. 

 

The Troll Hunter  

Did you spill my pint?

Another film that received its premiere at CowFest 2011, The Troll Hunter is an absolute joy to experience. However, if you have a strong, poorly judged adversity to “found footage” films, your prejudices will probably lessen your enjoyment (see slightly but not really drunken enough video review here: http://bit.ly/pjQKkO). 

This one had been on my radar for a while, so I was delighted when it lived up to the hopes that I had. I like films and stories about the less common mythical beasts i.e. not just vampires and werewolves (yes vampires are mythical, no you’re not one just because you dress like a nob-end and go to goth clubs) so this was a treat for me. 

Pivotal to my enjoyment was not only the excellent troll effects, but also the main Troll Hunter character and his world weariness at something that to most would be truly fantastical. His sardonic humour was well pitched in contrast to the eager young film-makers trailing in his wake. 

For me, this is a film for both adults and clued-up children over the age of around 9 or 10 i.e. ones that don’t cry at the occasional use of swearing, don’t mind subtitles, and haven’t been / won’t be wrapped in cotton wool until their 16th birthday. Y’know, ones with sensible parents. 

As the man in the video review says – watch it now, before Hollywood remakes and ruins it as the Arkansas Goat Hunter. 

 

Kill List 

Key words above are "One Of" and "British"...

I only saw this the other day, after weeks of teasing reviews and critical praise, only tempered recently by some real people I know having seen it and not being quite so gushing. 

I very nearly didn’t include it in this list. 

But, it deserves a mention as much because it was, for me, one of the most anticipated films of the last few months, and also, ultimately…..well, a little disappointing. Emphasis on the “little” though. I think. Damn, this is hard! 

I knew pretty much where it was heading genre-wise, so that wasn’t a big surprise (and shouldn’t really have been for anyone watching from the beginning) but by the end, I genuinely wondered if I was missing something obvious. 

I have no problem with a certain amount of ambiguity in a film, and neither want nor need to be spoon-fed the plot or have it thrown at me, but I found this to be ultimately unsatisfying and resolution-free. 

Don’t get me wrong – it’s in no way a bad film at all and I do recommend you see it to make up your own mind. I will watch it again, and a light bulb may go off in my brain on a second viewing, but for now I’m left a little puzzled.

But hey, at least I’m willing to admit it, and don’t pretend to have completely got it as I’m sure some reviewers have done.

And the “shocking” ending? Only really shocking if you didn’t see it done much more unpleasantly in a certain film last year… 

 

The Guard 

Feck! Drink! Arse! Girls!

 

Say what you like about political correctness, political incorrectness will always be much, much funnier. Brendan Gleeson is on excellent form in this small, but not so small as to be insignificant comedy, which was one of my favourite films of the year without a doubt.

If you liked Bad Lieutenant but wished someone would make a film like that but without the hand-wringing earnestness and Harvey Keitel’s penis, then you should enjoy this. What could have been a bog-standard fish out of water cop buddy comedy is so much more than that, driven by a cracking script and fine performances all round. 

It’s difficult to find a reason to not recommend watching this, unless you’re very easily offended and only like nice, safe films. In which case this is probably the wrong blog for you anyway. A film that proves you don’t need to try upping the ante to be funny (hello, The Hangover II) but instead all you need is a sweary, racist Irishman with a (sort of) heart of gold, and an ending that will put a big grin on your face. In fact, you probably will have been wearing that grin for the best part of 90 minutes already.

 

Hobo With a Shotgun

 

Look out for the sequel - Tramp with a Trumpet

 

Look at the title, and tell me you didn’t fear just a little for this film. Yes it has pedigree (Rutger Hauer, for one) but how many times have we got excited by an eye-catching title, only to be left bitterly disappointed by an end-product that feels like such a waste? 

Well, not this time. Hobo With a Shotgun is pretty much everything you could want it to be. Very funny, very dark at times (still funny), and gory as hell. Again, still funny. There’s something to potentially offend everyone here, be it a throwaway background moment or something much more front and centre, and I for one applaud this. 

It looks and sounds fantastic as well, with eye-searing colours washing the screen and a soundtrack that could have come from the heady days of 1970s exploitation. There is a lot of craft in this film, which I think is what makes it stand above many others from this year. Admittedly it has a target audience who tend to shout loudly when they approve of something, but they shout just as loudly when they hate something too, so had this misfired it would have done so at full volume through the fanboy and fangirl loudspeaker that is the internet. 

Rutger Hauer didn’t need to make this film, but he chose to. Director Jason Eisner has done himself no harm at all, and I hope his career can flourish from here. Top stuff.

 …and that’s that. Honourable mentions go to Thor, Submarine, Red Hill, Source Code, X-Men: First Class, The Dead, and Captain America, which all nearly made the cut. But as I mentioned at the start – lazy blogger. 

Feel free to comment and let me know what you think – whether you agree, think I’m a dick, or a bit of both. 

Here’s to 2012.

The Children – Best Condom Advert Ever

May 18, 2011

I’m a lazy bastard. Haven’t written anything for 3 months, and my 2010 diary project fell at the fourth hurdle. But, having come back from holiday refreshed and a little drunk, here are my (brief) thoughts on “The Children” (2009).

I watched this a while back and thought it was ok, then a few people whose opinions I respect gushed about it (not physically, that would be grim) so I thought I’d give it a re-watch.

…and I stand by my original thoughts. It’s ok. Actually, maybe a little better than ok. It’s actually been raised from “ok” to “quite good”. That’s kind of like going up in the pop charts from 20 to 10 in my book.

Children are evil. We don’t need a film to tell us this, though many have done so to differing effect, but this pretty much puts the nail in their cute little coffins.

Eat you? He'll probably fuck you first, the little bastard.

 
Basically, some adults – ranging from annoying “hope you die slowly” to “ok, you can live, as long as you take a couple of the little fuckers out first” and their kids get together for a memorable holiday weekend. And one cool teenage girl who gets it waaaay before everyone else, and has hot purple streaks in her hair.
 
Before you can say “Hey, little Johnny’s acting slightly more brattishly than usual”, the kids are starting to get stabby and bitey. There’s no real clear explanation for this, and whilst for some people that’s absolutely fine I would have liked a little bit of “why” with my film in this case. Anyway, minor gripe aside, it becomes kill or be killed. …or at least maim or be maimed.
 
Now, there was one moment in this where I loudly exclaimed “Fuck!” at the screen, and a couple of other “hand in mouth” flinch worthy moments. The violent scenes are very well orchestrated and directed, and there’s some strong editing which makes it a punchy film which certainly keeps you watching. It’s also a very easily digestable 80 minutes long, and whizzes along nicely as a result.
 
As “Dead Snow” and others have shown us, blood on snow looks pretty damn cool – and there’s plenty of opportunity to prove this here. It’s not spectacularly gory, but when it goes in for the kill / maim then it does so impressively. Visually it’s a treat at times, and the scenery is used well throughout.

Who are you calling evil? I'll rip your fucking throat out in a heartbeat.

 
I thought the ending, while kind of intriguing, only added to the “why? Why? WHY?” feeling I had, though that may be a little exaggerated for comic effect. The lack of explanation wasn’t a major issue (hence the use of the term “minor gripe” earlier) but the last minute or so piled it on a little for me.
 
Basically, this is worth a watch but won’t make your top 10 list. If you like infanticide, good editing & direction, and can enter with a willing suspension of disbelief then you’ll probably like this. 
 

Land Of The Dead – A Re-appraisal

February 26, 2011

So, I just watched Land Of The Dead after a gap of around 3 years. ..and you know what? I still like it. Let me break it down into timescales.

The Anticipation and Expectation

As a child of the 80s living in Britian, Dawn was the first Romero film I saw. This was due to being a kid, and videos becoming available in the early 80s. My parents were horror fans, and when video came to our shores we used to love going to the video shop, as a family, and picking up a couple of new films to watch of a weekend. Having only really seen UK and US studio films to date, needless to say our eyes were opened fucking wide by the surge of (mostly) Italian splatter zombie films that suddenly filled our screens. …and damn, did we love them 🙂

Not knowing the history and genesis of the series, we watched Day as a stand alone film. Oh my word. For me, this was a formative experience. Anyway, moving on – after many years, and having seen Night, Dawn, and many many others since, when I heard that Land was coming, I very nearly came in my pants. Never, ever, have I been as excited about a forthcoming film.  I was old enough to know it might disappoint, but damn I waited for this like I waited for my first shag – for a long time, and hopeful that it wouldn’t be crap.

The Experience

From memory, I’d met a couple of workmates in the pub and turned down the offer to go out for more drinks as my DVD had just arrived, and nothing could shake my plans. Admittedly they were both male so the offer wasn’t a great challenge – it’s not like I turned down a night of lascivious sexual hedonism – but still, my course was set.

So, when I finally got to see Land, I really liked it. I mean, REALLY liked it. This was before Twitter, and before we got millions of spoilers and (p)reviews before we saw a film, so I can safely say I was impressed.

I gather this wasn’t a universal feeling. So, in the next section, I will try to quell the doubters. I may fail, but fuck it – it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want on it 🙂

The Film itself

This is based on having watched it in the last few hours, for the first time in around 3 years. I’m not going to be universally unapologetic about it, but will concentrate on the positives 🙂

As in the earlier films, Day particularly, the main characters are a little OTT – but probably not more than any other studio horror film. It allows you to make opinions about them, and whilst you may never fully invest, you know you choose your “I hope he/she dies/doesn’t die” ones pretty quickly. There was a risk casting a “name” like Dennis Hopper, but he doesn’t go mad or seem unrealistic (considering the position / scenario) and so at no point takes over the film or makes it seem hokey – like in Speed. You know he’ll die, it’s a given. It’s the “good” characters in which the interest lies…

…like Cholo. Is he the hero / anti-hero? He’s basically a greedy bastard, but feels hard done by and is still the underclass. Compared to Hopper’s  character he’s good, but the lines are always grey in these films. Be honest – if you had the chance, wouldn’t you want to be in the nice, shiny, protected tower block with the “luxuries” you are used to? It’s all well and good feeling sorry for the people outside, but if you’re honest and were given the choice, you all know where you’d choose to be…

Like with the earlier films in the series, no-one is guaranteed survival. Ok, to a certain degree if you’re a woman who is not a complete arse then your chances are higher than most, but everyone is flawed, and everyone can be bitten. The “a main character gets bitten and ends up facilitating the ending”  theme is firmly in place, but there are more characters in this than in the earlier entries, and they all have a role to play. Some, admittedly, as filler / fodder, but we all know that is a legitimate place in a zombie flick 🙂

Moving on from the characters – the film looks fucking excellent. I watched the Blu-Ray tonight, and it shines in a good way. Yes there is CGI for the first time, and we all love practical makeup effects more than CGI, but it’s not ridiculous. The advances in makeup mean that the zombies look better (as they looked better in Day than in Dawn – come on, admit it) and I don’t doubt that the studio providing the budget leant on the use of CGI over practical – because hey, it’s cheaper. This sounds a little apologetic, and may be a weakness in this review, but I’m realistic about what Romero had to work with and can accept this.

It’s very gory! For a film that got a reasonably wide cinema release (for a hard R / 18 rated horror) there is A LOT of blood and guts in this film! Entrail eating, many head shots, close up biting – it doesn’t hold back. This is a good thing 🙂

It retains the satire / commentary on modern life aspect. Come on – the human urge for consumerism and luxury is massive in this film. What is ramped up, and places the film in a more modern timeframe, is the blissful ignorance /unacceptance of the danger that is on the edges of their shuttered existence. It’s like the zombies never happened for the residents of Fiddler’s Green. More fool them.

There are some truly beautiful, and for me series iconic shots. First and foremost, the scenes of the zombies’ heads breaking the surface of the water once they have crossed the lake. Also the subsequent wide shot that shows the scale of the endeavour. Zombies breaking water will always give me a lovely shiver.

Other big moments? The “head snapping back” zombie, the soldier with the grenade having his arm severed by Big Daddy and and falling on his own grenade, and as much as any of these, every moment when it is clear that the zombies have “learnt” something new. I love that Big Daddy has an almost constant companion in the “fucked up face” woman zombie, who he teaches to use a machine gun. In an ideal world, they have would live happily ever after as a lovely zombie couple 🙂

Wow, this has become a long post, so I’d better wrap it up. In conclusion – I like this film, and feel it was unjustly criticised because of unrealistic expectations from people who, like me, see the earlier entries as landmark films. Realistically, it was never going to have the impact of Night, Dawn, or even Day – but I feel it did a decent job and is worth a re-appraisal.

…and hey, if nothing else – it gives us the first look at a pair of living human female breasts in the series 🙂

April 2010 – Randy Puppets, A New Toy, and Not Dying

January 22, 2011

At this rate, I may have this 2010 diary finished by Summer 🙂 Anyway, on with April.

Stuff that happened (or didn’t happen)

Another quiet-ish month (don’t worry, it kicks up a notch in May, honest!) but April did bring Easter, the pagan / Christian celebration of the chocolate rabbit demon if I remember my Sunday school lessons correctly. Good Friday here in the Channel Islands means quite random opening hours of pubs etc. so I always arrange a night out at the local pizzeria with around 10 friends. This is one of the few times each year we all get together, and was typically drunken – in honour of Jesus turning water into wine or something.

It was also the premiere of the new series of Dr Who here in Britain, which a mate invited a few of us to watch on his truly massive HDTV. Seeing this electronic behemoth made synapses fire in my brain, and pushed me that final yard into upgrading my own clunky old idiot box. So, within a week (thanks to a bonus at work) I had a lovely new 40″ flat screen telly. Hubba hubba 🙂

"Insert amusing caption about small pussy / large box here"

In other “news”, I spent a freezing Sunday morning watching my mate’s girlfriend play in a local ladies’ football cup final (they lost), and realised that one of her team mates was a girl I went out with for a month or so when I was 17. Who is now a committed lesbian.

Later in the month, I started to get occasional twinges in the chest area. I’m not in any way a hypochondriac, but felt that justified a visit to the doc just  to be on the safe side. He booked me in for an ECG the next day, which involved having parts of my chest shaved by a nurse so they could attach electrodes.

The temptation to go into a story about how one thing led to another and before I knew it it was a filthy orgy of shaven nurses is overwhelming, but it would (sadly) be a lie.

The fantasy

The reality

Anyway, all was well in the end (always good to know, and hence the “not dying” reference in the title of this post) so I went home and did a load of coke to celebrate 😉 (this may be a lie)

Films and things that I (and maybe you) watched

Black Devil Doll Well, this is one that divides people eh? Personally, I really enjoyed it. Admittedly I watched it with a couple of mates, all quite drunk, which I would suggest is the most suitable way – if not the only way. Bascially, it’s a resurrected black power activist in the body of a puppet, who subsequently has sex with and kills a number of pneumatic ladies. A cheap blend of much nudity and violence. If you know me, you will know that, as a rule, this equals a win 🙂

Ban This Sick Filth!

Clash of the Titans The remake, that is. I went to see this at the local “cinema” with friend, and generally enjoyed it. It’s not going to win any awards, but as a piece of background entertaining fluff it did a pretty good job. Liked the Kraken, thought Ralph Fiennes was excellent as Hades, and the Bubo cameo made me laugh 🙂

The Keep Michael Mann’s 1983 horror about evil Nazis (is there any other kind?) guarding a fortress in Romania, unaware that there are some nasty forces buried deep within. Chances are you’ve seen this at some stage, but possibly not – if not, I recommend it. It’s not brilliant, but has a good atmosphere and is worth checking out. Sadly, it’s a right bugger to get hold of as I don’t think it’s out on DVD (shameful!) but if it shows up on tv, give it a try.

Twittery Bits

Some people that I (think) I first encountered on the old Twitter this month:

@pirate_bitch Drawn together by a love of nasty horror films (I think “Hanger” was one of my first recommendations!) we have since shared transatlantic viewings of a number of Fulci films and others, and will eventually get around to Mad Cowgirl she assures me 🙂

@nathanhead Somehow, via the Mark Macready short horror film, this fine actor has become embroiled in the “gentle humour” occasionally swapped between myself and the likes of @HorrorExtreme. Check out his site at www.nathanhead.tv and buy him a cake sometime. Man, he loves the cake.

@DogAteMyWookie Author of a very readable blog / site (www.dogatemywookie.co.uk), it was a few months before I realised he is originally from “the other island” and thus technically a bit of a wrong ‘un. Ah well. …and if he ever videos and uploads a re-match between his dog and a toy wookie, I deserve 50% of any royalties / rewards / favours gained as a result.

In conclusion

So there you have it. A third of the year gone already, doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? Next month will be worth sticking around for I assure you, as it involves another visit to the land of the English, including a titanic team-up with both @HorrorExtreme and @LipsTattoo666, which somehow we all survived  🙂

March 2010 – Celebrating Irishness, Slaying Trolls, and Hippo Syphilis

January 5, 2011

Aah, March. Quite a fun month really 🙂  Although not the busiest, it was dominated by one quest…

Stuff that happened (or didn’t happen)

Basically, some “writer” got a little insecure and jealous about not actually being very good and everyone realising he was a twat, so started posting the personal details of another writer, someone I care about, on the Twitter public timeline.

Not a good idea.

To cut a long story short, the site he wrote for got removed from the Horror Blogger’s Alliance for employing a troll, he got censured by Twitter, had to remove the posts, and wrote me a grovelling apology e-mail 🙂

So, if you ever have trouble with a troll, heed my advice as written here way back all those months ago:   http://bit.ly/faltWZ

In other “news”, it was St. Patrick’s Day, which caused all the “my great grandfather’s uncle knew someone who once ate a potato, so I am Irish actually” people to crawl out and get drunk. I’m allowed to be sarcastic about this, as my dad’s from County Tyrone as are all his family, so I’m legit 🙂

A photo of my dad, circa 1965

Anyway, the highlight of the night was having the lovely / horrible @that_ghoul_ava rename the holiday as Little Bunny Foo Foo Drinking Day so as not to offend my sensitivities 🙂

Aside from that, a quiet month (sensing a trend here?). I did have a spectcularly drunken night with two of my best friends which ended up with me taking the hour long walk home at around 5am, singing along to my Ipod without a care in the world. I do so love those nights 🙂

Films and things that I (and maybe you) watched

Shutter Island I went to see this at my local “cinema” (not really a cinema, it’s crappy, no proper surround sound, seats around 200 people and only shows the big films – woe is me!) as I am a fan of Scorsese and was intrigued. Personally I really liked it, and need to see it again soon. I just with (p)reviewers wouldn’t go on about there being a twist in films such as this, as it makes the audience spend the whole film focusing on what it might be!

Ninja Assassin Yes I’m clutching at straws a little here, but I can’t remember / find out many things I watched in March! Look, we were drunk, maybe a little high, and I had the film – so we watched it. In a nutshell? The entire budget went on the first and last 10 minutes of the film. Which were both pretty sweet. Waaaaaaaay too much CGI blood though….

The Collector This was one of my favourite horrors of the year, a real find and it has since been released to decent critical acclaim, even from the non-horror magazines and writers. Nothing spectacularly original in the concept once the story kicks in, but very well done, (un) pleasantly squirmy in a good few places and well worth a watch.

When I typed “the collector movie” into Google images, it gave me a wide selection of results. Here are two of the first ones it suggested:

1) A sensible, atmospheric poster shot

Now in stores - the mask that doubles as open crotch panties!

2) A pneumatic woman in a bikini (possibly from a different film with the same title, but what the hell)

 
 

Respect me for my acting talent you perverts!

 

Twittery bits

This bit’s really hard, I have to go through my followers and try to work out who I “met” and when, it’s a fucking nightmare if I’m honest. Anyway…

@Hellbound_Heart This is an honourable mention as, disgracefully, I missed her out last month and may need a place to stay for a day or so on the way to Abertoir again this year 😉 Seriously though, this lady is a really good writer, and I’m glad to see her work appearing on a number of sites now (including the unforgiveably sexist and degrading www.horror-extreme.com ). She also cooks a mean ghoulash, and has a lovely three legged cat (not a euphemism).

@melonfarmers www.melonfarmers.co.uk has been high in my Favourites list for a few years now. It is an excellent source for film censorship and cuts information, as well as gathering together stories and news about non-film related censorship and oppression, highlighting what they lovingly refer to as “nutters” e.g. The Daily Mail in the UK, religous leaders around the world etc.  If you’ve never visited the site, I highly recommend it.

In conclusion

That’s about it really. Not the most action packed of months, but it’s not like I’m going to make shit up to make my life seem more glamorous.

…what’s that you say? What about the hippo syphilis I promised? I’m afraid that was a big fat lie to draw you in. Honest.

*coughs*

*wallows in mud*

February 2010 – Bumwolves, Videos, and a Meeting of Great Minds

December 22, 2010

Well, January wasn’t too difficult in the end, so I guess I should stick to the formula, right? Here goes then 🙂

Stuff that happened (or didn’t happen)

Whilst many things (probably) happened in February, one weekend stuck out like Gary Glitter’s withered old tadger on school sports day: 19th – 21st.  Not so much for the (very entertaining and thoroughly recommended) mini-festival that was Ghouls on Film (see Films section further down) but more for the highly intellectual *cough* weekend I spent with @HorrorExtreme.

After a few (!) pints to get over the whole “how weird is this?” situation of actually meeting up after nothing but drunken Twitter banter and approximately two e-mails, we soon settled into a weekend of heavy drinking and film watching. The Friday is admittedly a little hazy, but we managed to get to Birmingham on the Saturday for the festival, where I first (albeit briefly) met @stonecypher and @Hellbound_Heart, and said hello to Emily Booth. Look, I’m easily pleased, ok?

Celebrating Women in Horror #quigleytits

Anyway, on to the Sunday. After a quiet, sober weekend watching a couple of films, it was wine time. The best time, in my opinion 🙂  Now, I can’t remember the full genesis of this, but somehow the night descended (ascended?) into video battle with @VagVikernes (or @kvltovhole, as I believe he was known at the time…). I believe the first video was Joel imitating Steve:

Such an innocent face for such a sick filthmonger

Sadly I can’t find Steve’s response video, but within half an hour or so I had posted my first (and only) video of me in response:

Clothes are model's own. ...except the hat

In all honesty, this was one of the most fun nights I had this year, so big thanks to both the other participants for aiding and abetting 🙂

Anyway, other stuff that happened in February (in summary): I became chairman of my local film society – my respectable side, which I do actually take quite seriously – plus it allows me to crowbar inappropriate horror films onto the schedule a couple of times a year.

The New Orleans Saints, who I have followed since I saw them play in The Superdome in 2004, won the Superbowl! Naturally that involved me staying up until around 5am to glory in it, and it was a fine night 🙂

Valentine’s Day – generally an utter bumhole of a day to be single, though technically I sort of wasn’t this year but still ended up spending the evening with a motley band of friends watching Heathers – which, by the way, is the perfect Valentine’s Day film – fact.

Films and things that I (and maybe you) watched 

Again, elements of this are mild guesswork, but I know for sure that I watched The Wolfman because I blogged about it here http://bit.ly/a8qudB  and thought it was ok overall. I also saw The House of the Devil, which I very much enjoyed and need to watch again – a good slow burner with a great 80s feel to it.

As mentioned earlier, Ghouls on Film served up some good stuff, none more so than The Soska Sisters’ Dead Hooker In a Trunk. This was a real blast, highly entertaining and I believe it was the European premier showing. This film has recently re-surfaced with a different edit (shown at Abertoir 2010, but missed by me as it was in the morning…) and hopefully will get a wider audience this coming year – seek it out!

If you don't find this sexy, you may be on the wrong blog

 Finally in the film section, I also saw Triangle. Hmmm….I think it was really good, but it was a bit of a headfuck, right? 

 Twittery Bits

This bit’s really difficult as I don’t have much to work with, but I think I first chanced across these fine people in February:

@nathanhead A top bloke and one of the actors in the Mark Macready horror short  that found massive success this year. Regularly makes me laugh, and deserving of more success in the coming year(s)

@marixalilith If I ever want someone to threaten me with spanking or other similar violence, but it to be someone I actually like talking to with good taste in films, then this is the lady 🙂

@Jesus_M_Christ I was told that I’d found Jesus as a child, but that one was clearly an imposter, as this guy’s the real deal.

I think that’s all on that front, though one person on Twitter started being a cunt to someone who meant a lot to me, which meant that March was WAAAAAY more fun on the site – but you’ll have to wait for that 🙂

…and, more importantly, I changed my username from @davidmcggsy to @dpm74. Those who were following me back then will remember the Bumwolves fiasco and how I VERY nearly changed my name to @bumwolves, but thankfully sobered up in time and had one solitary good influence who persuaded me otherwise 🙂

In conclusion

So, quite a fun month overall. Things were generally still going  well, I had my first (brief) holiday off the island, and watched some good films. I’m still awaiting clearance on the celebrity filth I promised last time, apparently lawyers are still checking the authenticity of the video I have of Just** Bieb** fellating a capuchin monkey. Ah well, maybe next time eh?

January 2010 – High Hopes, Japanese Torture, and A Sleepy Mouse

December 8, 2010

Soooo….January. Shit, that was a long time ago, how the fuck am I supposed to remember that? Well, thanks to a combination of .avi file creation dates and a (sparsely filled) reminders book, I think I can just about cobble something together so here goes.

 Stuff that happened (or didn’t happen) 

The year actually started quite well for a change, had a good thing going on personally and was (cagily) optimistic about the year ahead.

Fool that I am. 

Anyway, it was actually quite a quiet month, more one of plotting and preparing than actually doing. However, this wasn’t as dull as it sounds, as it was in January that the seeds of going to the Ghouls On Film festival in Birmingham in February were sown. I’m going to take a random stab in the dark that it was a drunken night on Twitter (this may be a theme you see recurring as these posts go on…) and the encouragement of ne’er do wells such as @HorrorExtreme, but before I knew it flights were booked and my first (mini) holiday of the year was on the cards 🙂

 This also precipitated the ordering of a new passport (having accidentally put my last one through the washing machine – note to readers: don’t do this), and also what has fast become one of my favourite new material things – my lovely little netbook.

Ooh, shiny!

 Aside from that, I basically appear to have done fuck all. Oh, I went to my ex-girlfriend’s birthday cocktail night (not as exciting / sexy / bitter and twisted / tearful as it may have sounded) and did some Anti-Money Laundering training at work. Because I live in a highly reputable offshore finance centre, so we have to plough through that shit on an annual basis.

Ooh, and I found a live mouse sleeping snugly in a jumper on my bedroom floor one Sunday morning when I’d fallen asleep the night before with the heating on. He looked so peaceful as I popped him in the oven gently carried him outside and released him, I do hope he wasn’t immediately eaten by a cat. Really, I do! I may be an equal opportunities carnivore, but I love the little buggers while they’re alive 😉

I promise I didn't eat him

 Films and things that I (and maybe you) watched 

There’s a certain amount of guesswork involved here, but I’m pretty sure January brought with it (for me anyway) the end of Dexter Season 4. In fact, I’m certain of that one as now I remember I finished it in bed on New Year’s Day sporting a hangover of quite legendary proportions, which made me shed a little tear at the end. Feel the vulnerability. 

Could be wrong about this one, but I think it was in January that I watched all of True Blood Season 1, and started on season 2. Needless to say, I am now hooked and have started reading the books on which the series is based. 

Film wise, January included Paranormal Activity (not a bad film at all, just a shame about the relentless hype machine that preceded it), The Final Destination (massive guilty pleasure films for me, every last one of them), and Gurotesuku a.k.a. Grotesque.

This last one was more out of curiosity as I believe it was one of the first to be banned by the BBFC (as in actually submitted for a release and turned down) for a while. It’s not really very good, but if you like Japanese torture films for Japanese torture films sake i.e. are a little bit wrong, then you’ll probably get at least a semi-on (or suitable lady equivalent depending on your erogenous zone(s) of choice) by the end.

…and finally, Header. Loved by some, hated by others, it’s a difficult one to describe without giving away the main “plot” device, but let’s just say it has nothing to do with football, and does involve penises. Erect penises. And drills (or was it hammers? I’ve genuinely forgotten).

Trust me, the view of the back of her head is worse...

Twittery Bits

…because I only “publicise” this blog on there, and it will as a result only be read by people on there. …oh, and because it’s a life-consuming behemoth that has indirectly brought me to the heights of happiness and the pits of despair in just over 12 short months 🙂 

Again, this is sketchy at best, but I think I first “met” and communicated with the following people of note (to me anyway) in January: 

@ItsMikeandIke – The entertainment gurus for the new millennium, two gents who have provided me with much laughter since the fateful day I asked someone “who are Mike and Ike?”, and got directed away from budgies and sweets (candy) and instead to stoner critics 🙂

@MrsSelfDestrukt aka FionaTroma, PrettyHate666, PrettyHate667, and probably some that I have forgotten. As a sweary drunk person, she is a true inspiration (and also quite nice, though she’ll probably deny that) 

@SmuckersTheDog – A lovely, if somewhat farty beast. The first, but not the last animal I have chosen to speak to. I am a grown man in his 30s. (ooh, and I just had a massive deja-vu when typing that bit – for real!) 

@StoneCypher – Not entirely sure about this, but I have a feeling it was around January. Since then, this young lady has a 100% hit rate at getting me to horror festivals that she organises or helps organise. …and I have had a bloody great time at both (see forthcoming February and November posts) 🙂 

In Conclusion 

So, overall quite a quiet month but hopefully some of that rang a few bells with some of you. As mentioned in the previous post, this is really as much for my own benefit as your “entertainment”, but I hope you come back for the remaining posts – I promise I’ll crowbar in some celebrity gossip if it will keep you coming back for more, as I’m essentially baseless and shallow. Maybe I’ll start by detailing that evening I spent with Molly Sugden, two poodles, and a large tube of toothpaste…. 

Wait! Come back!

Worst. Time Capsule. Ever

November 29, 2010

So, I started thinking the other week that maybe I should try to document my year. As much for myself as any of you lot, as I don’t keep a diary but it has been quite an eventful year.

Ok, maybe “eventful” is a strong term for sitting around getting drunk watching horror films , but believe it or not I have done other shit as well. Occasionally.

Anyway, this is the plan: Every couple of days or so between now and the end of the year, I’m going to attempt to write a post on here covering a month of 2010 at a time. The films I’ve watched, the people I’ve met / interacted with, and the other random crap that has happened. It won’t be ultra-personal, and some names may be changed to protect the “innocent”, but the emphasis will be on puerile humour and possibly the occasional revelation.

I am the new Wikileaks.

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Spe...ooh! Look at the monkeys!

I should point out that I genuinely have no idea how I’m actually going to do this, it is an acorn of an idea at best, but by posting this I am hoping it will kick my arse into gear and greatness shall ensue. Ahem.

…and there you have it. If I actually do this, I hope some of you read and enjoy it. And hey, even if you don’t – at least I’ll be able to look back in years to come and remember what I did.

…until the machines take over and wipe out the internet of course.

Take a good look. This will be the last thing you see before your fiery death.

What I Did On My Holidays – Abertoir 2010

November 18, 2010

“So”, asked my boss, “going anywhere nice for your holiday?”

“Why yes I am – I’m going to Wales for a 5 day horror festival.”

*Pause*

“Erm….sounds nice…”

Yep, inspired by some of the good folk of Twitter, I found myself travelling to Aberystwyth  last week (via Doncaster and York, never say I don’t know exotic when I see it) to attend Abertoir 2010. I was a horror festival virgin, and ready to have my cherry well and truly popped – and I wasn’t disappointed 🙂

My First Festival Pass. Awww.....

Day 1 – Mexican Cannibals and Tit Swords

After enduring the vagaries of the Welsh train system (I’m sure some of the carriages that “detached” along the way were diverted into the caves of local hillbillies) we arrived in Aberystwyth. We were delighted to find that the previous occupants of our holiday cottage had left us a welcoming present – a DVD of “Sunday Sport’s British MILFs”!

Splendid 🙂

Anyway, to the venue where we were warmly welcomed by Nia and the crew, then as we were too late for the first film (Countess Dracula) we had to find a way to kill an hour or so. Did someone say “bar”? Yes. Yes they did.  …but I digress – on to the films.

We Are What We Are” was an intriguing little film, delving into the lives of a Mexican cannibal family and utilising a slow burning sense of realism. Whilst admittedly by the end I was a little underwhelmed, it certainly drew me in and is one I will watch again when I get a chance.

This was followed by “Dream Home”, which was a real treat! If you’re looking for innovative ways to bring down the price of that flat you’ve had your eye on, and aren’t squeamish about it, this film is your guidebook. Enjoyably violent and innovative in its death scenes, this film also had a heart to it and wasn’t just gore for gore’s sake. Highly recommended, and I believe it’s getting a limited cinema release in the UK, so go see it if you get a chance.

Finally, we had “Mutant Girls Squad”. I guess if you’re a major afficionado of Asian splatter then this would have been the equivalent of a blowjob from an incredibly talented porn star, but for me it was, well, a little over the top. I have no problem with ridiculous gore and silliness, but once you’ve seen the girl with the tit-swords and the one who can produce a chainsaw from her arse, the novelty wears off a little. I’m not saying it was bad, and it had been a long day by this point, but I found it kind of washing over me after half an hour or so. Having said that, it went down well with most of the audience, and if nothing else demonstrated the diversity of the Abertoir programme from the start.

Day 2 – Unnecessary Sex Scenes and Weeing Children

It didn’t take us long to settle into a pattern of missing the first showing or two (damn my penchant for hospitality, wine and exotic cigarettes) so we arrived in time for “Iron Doors” in 3D. This was my first 3D film (seeing as I live on an island with no proper cinema…) so I was intrigued, but the 3D was minimal to be honest, though the occasional subtitles leapt out! This was one that promised a little more than it delivered, had a slightly pants ending, but did at least have the decency to crowbar in a sex scene where no sex scene should be 🙂

This was followed by “The Violent Kind”, which was really good. Batshit crazy at times, a highly enjoyable blend of bikers, blood, and “What the fuck?” moments. Another that I will definitely seek out again when possible, and a film that deserves a wider audience.

After a break to visit Marco’s World of Chips:

Mmmm....Suspicious looking sausages and chips.... *drools*

it was time for “Djinns”. I was really looking forward to this, but I fear someone slipped a sleeping draught into one of the three large glasses of wine I had in the bar beforehand, as I seemed to rest my eyes a little too much during the latter parts of the film. This shouldn’t be taken as a critique however, as I was enjoying it before the sandman popped a cap in my arse.

Finally, it was time for the Midnight Mystery Grindhouse film, which to my enormous delight turned out to be Troll 2, which I’d never seen.

Sheer fucking brilliance! This is a film I have heard so much about, and it didn’t disappoint. Hats off to the Abertoir audience for being (mostly) entertaining throughout as well – a great communal experience, I couldn’t have asked for a better time and place to see this masterpiece / piece of shit (delete as applicable) …and if you haven’t seen it, this is where the “weeing children” reference comes into play 🙂

Day 3 – Fake Skeletons, Caravan Parks, and The Lovely Wendy

So, having missed the first two films (got to stick to the pattern) we arrived for “Amer”. This has been getting massive festival buzz as a modern homage to “giallo” (despite giallo films still being made…) and, to be fair, was an adventurous and ambitious piece. Can’t deny the love that has gone into it, and the opening section meant I could forgive the nagging feeling of style over substance, but it lost its way in the middle. It came touted as a film that you’ll either love or hate, but I found it a little “meh” in the end. Worth seeing, don’t get me wrong, but not a life changer.

Next, “House on Haunted Hill” (original) with added Emergo! This was great fun, and really summed up the spirit and traditions of Abertoir. Not sure I’d actually seen it before, but if I had I can assure you I’d never seen it with a fake skeleton passing above my head at a key moment 🙂

From here, the day descended into drunkenness. Zombina and the Skeletons supported The Damned in The Great Hall, and both were excellent (particularly The Damned, who unquestionably still know how to put on a fucking great gig) but it gets hazy from here on in. I know we went to the famed “Inn on the Pier” (Aberystwyth’s only 24 hour bar and pizza house…), and I know I spent some time chatting to the aforementioned lovely Wendy as I have a text message on my phone from her consisting of the phrase “Do you fancy a shag?”, but luckily (I think) the big head was thinking more prominently than the little one, as I didn’t allow myself to be seduced by her smooth talk 🙂

Anyway, I am reliably informed that we proceeded to get lost in the caravan park that was 50 yards from our cottage, then various ne’er-do-wells joined us (as was becoming the habit) until somewhere around 5am. This is where the Abertoir Daily Programmes came in handy, as they published tweets from the previous day. At somewhere around 3am, I sent one that said “Best. Holiday. Ever. :)”

Despite all the sambuca, I didn't have sex with this little tease

Day 4 – Belgian Vampires, Spooky Theatre, and The Comedic Value of Satan

 
 
 
 

Breakfast, Part 1

 

 

Breakfast, Part 2 😉

Saturday began with a bacon sandwich, a hangover, and a determination to get stuck right back in goddammit! First up was a talk on vampires by the author Gavin Baddeley, which was very interesting and exposed the bloodthirsty sons of bitches as being British in origin – typical!

This was followed by the Belgian “documentary” “Vampires”, which was possibly my favourite film of the festival. Taking the “mockumentary” style (yes that’s a hateful term, but it gets the message across) this was a sharp,  intelligent film, with an excellent dark vein of humour running through it from the start. I really hope this gets attention beyond the festival circuit. If you get a chance to see this film, I implore you to do so.

Next, “Exorcismus”. This will undoubtedly be labelled the turkey of the festival, but I felt it got a but of a raw deal. Admittedly at times it was somewhat laughable, and the final, painfully lingering scene is an example of when editing should be used, but it wasn’t without merit. The slight twist on the standard exorcism plot was decent, and I’ve seen many, many worse performances. …oh, and a note to certain members of the audience who seemed to think it was still participation night – the secret to good comedy is timing. …and being funny.

This was followed by a live theatre performance of two M.R. James ghost stories by candlelight in the theatre, which was highly enjoyable and another example of the diversity of Abertoir. Any festival can just throw films at you until your eyes bleed, but Abertoir gives you live theatre to make you mess your trousers. Marvellous 🙂

Finally, it was the remake of “I Spit On Your Grave”. This wasn’t half bad, looked great cinematography wise (whether this is a good thing considering the original is open to debate) and with decent performances. It’s probably an unnecessary film, but had that nastiness to it that made it valid in my opinion. No classic, quite sleazy, and a little too “cheer at the kills!” by the end, but worth a look.

Day 5 – Piano Music, Goodbyes, and Elf Genitals

 The final day (sob) started with a real Abertoir experience – The Cat and the Canary (1928) with a live piano accompaniment of an original score from hugely talented pianist and composer Paul Shallcross, who also gave an entertaining introduction to the film. After a few minutes, I almost forgot he was there and playing, as the score fitted the visuals perfectly. Top stuff 🙂 …though if I had a cat who looked like the villain in this, it would probably precipitate a trip to the vets and a long, peaceful sleep. For the cat.

More chips meant I missed Robin Hardy introducing and talking about a preview of The Wicker Tree, but we were back in time for the festival closer, “Rare Exports”. This was a real crowd pleaser, and should play well in cinemas in the run up to Christmas. Very accessible, this tale of the true Santa and his minions will appeal to adults and twisted e.g. sensible children alike. It also featured a performance from a child actor who I didn’t want to kick in the face, which should really be a quote for the poster. I don’t want to give spoilers so won’t say any more, except that this is where the elf genitals came into play…

If you've been bad, he'll show you his willy

…and that was it. All over (after a closing ceremony where people won free stuff, but I didn’t so bah!) and a final trip to the Inn on the Pier. No Wendy this time, but a chance to say goodbye to the good people who gave me the best 5 days I have had for a good while. Guys and girls, I salute you like I have never saluted anyone before, and will see you all next year without a doubt.

Abertoir – you’d be a fool to miss it 🙂