poolandrews

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Creep Van
(2012)

Good horror comedy.
Creep Van is set in Detroit where Campbell Jackson (Brian Kolodziej) has just got a new job at a car wash, trying to turn his life around & get a girlfriend Campbell decides he needs a set of wheels. Low on cash Campbell is short of options but when he sees a white 1970's van for sale at a very reasonable price he decides to buy it, calling the number he hears a girls screams on the other end & doesn't know what to make of it. Campbell forgets about the van but the current owner of the vehicle is a serial killer & know's that Campbell heard the screams of his latest victim, the killer thinks that Campbell must be silenced & goes after him & those around him in order to keep him quiet for good...

Co-produced & directed by Scott W. Mckinlay this low budget horror comedy wasn't anywhere near as bad as I was expecting it to be, the whole premise of Creep Van sounds rubbish & I suppose it is but the script never takes itself seriously & Creep Van is as much comedy as it is horror. At 80 odd minutes it's fairly short & moves along at a decent pace, there's no background given to the van or killer which makes the film very simple & feel a little bit empty. Sure he kills people using traps in his van or with car parts but why? Don't watch Creep Van expecting to find out, that's all I am saying. There's a decent mix of comedy & horror, there's a few memorable kills & a few gags worth watching as well although I don't think I would want to watch it again anytime soon. As long as you don't take the film seriously & can enjoy it's slightly twisted sense of humour then Creep Van is pretty good & a lot better than most zero budget horror films out there.

All of the kills are based around the van, a car thief is chopped in half by the razor edged window, a guy is impaled on a seat knife, there's an air bag full of spikes, the van runs someone into a wall & chops them in half, a radio antenna is stuck in someones throat, there are killer head rests, someone gets a tyre iron in their mouth & a guy has his face sliced off with that killer window. The special effects are pretty good, all the kills have a fair amount of blood & don't shy away from the detail. There's a bit of nudity as well as Campbell's female house-mate likes to walk around half naked. Creep Van is shot in a simple way without much style & there's not much build-up of tension or suspense during the kill scenes.

Shot on a low budget in Detroit this looks alright, it's competent & looks professional enough. The acting is alright, I can't say anyone is great but they try.

Creep Van is a watchable time waster, it's not amazing or the best film ever made but it passes 80 odd minutes. About as good as one can expect a film called Creep van to be I suppose, I have seen much worse before now.

Wreckage
(2010)

Not as bad as I had feared & not quite what I expected.
Wreckage starts as an ex Ranger named Jared (Mike Erwin) is in the middle of a drag race with an annoying rich kid, unfortunately his classic muscle car blow's a gasket & he loses the race & has no way of getting home. His girlfriend Kate (Cameron Richardson), his friend Rick (Aaron Paul) & his girlfriend Jessica (Kelly Kruger) were along for the ride & are also stranded in the middle of nowhere. The nearest town is a four mile walk whereas they drove past an old junkyard about a mile back, they decide to walk to the junkyard & find the spares needed to repair Jared's car. Once they get to the junkyard it's after dark & it's closed, they decide to climb the fence & take what they need but while showing off with his gun Rick accidentally shoots Kate. Jared says he will run to the nearest town & bring back help while Rick & Jessica stay with Kate, Jared reaches the town finds help. Going back to the junkyard with Sheriff Macabee (Roger Perry) they find that Rick, Jessica & Kate have mysteriously disappeared, then they find Jessicas dead body & realise that killer is on the loose...

Produced & directed by John Mallory Asher who also appears in the film as Deputy Berry (the one that gets left behind at the station when the Sheriff goes with Jared to the junkyard to investigate his claims) I wasn't expecting much from Wreckage, to be honest I was expecting some dull generic low budget teen slasher film & while you could say Wreckage isn't a million miles from being exactly that there's a little bit more to it. I must admit that Wreckage isn't that bad for what it is, the script plays half like a teen slasher & half like a mystery thriller with disappearing friends angle, the identity of the killer not being known, the one or two red herrings & a reasonable twist ending that does actually work on a basic level although if you think about it too much the holes start to appear. At only 80 minutes it moves along at a good pace, as I said the mystery thriller elements keep things slightly more interesting than your average teen slasher & overall I quite liked it. Of course it's nothing amazing, there are still holes in the plot like after the killer is revealed & their motives explained who actually killed the guy at the start who was trying to rape that woman? In the context & time-line of the film the killer couldn't have killed the guy since they hadn't arrived yet & they had never been to the junkyard before so who was it?

The location used is quite good, the old junkyard is a decent place to set a horror film, the gore is a bit disappointing with only a few gunshot wounds, a bit of blood splatter & a stabbing on offer. Wreckage is available in both 'R' rated & 'Unrated' editions in the US which usually means the Unrated cut has more footage (althogh not always necessarily gory or sexual) it seems that the two versions are identical with absolutely no difference between them at all apart from the DVD artwork. Whether this is a genuine mistake or a marketing ploy who knows? I did actually find myself agreeing with most of the decisions made here by the character's, most of them seem to behave like proper people & they don't split up needlessly & the Sheriff tries to keep good control & actually suggests useful ideas with the irritating moment at the end where Jared would rather chase & fight the killer than drive his girlfriend Kate, who has been shot remember & is badly injured, to hospital.

With a supposed budget of about $500,000 this was shot on a pretty low budget, apparently filmed in Los Angeles & Wilmington. The production values are decent enough, there's not much style here but at least you can see what's happening & the lack of any sign of a shaky hand-held camcorder & any annoying machine gun editing helps. The acting is alright, the guy who plays Jimmy the hillbilly owner of the junkyard skates the thin line between being annoying & funny & just about manages to be funny.

Wreckage really wasn't the complete wreck I was expecting, it's a fairly good mixture of teen slasher & mystery thriller that I thought passed the time. Sure there are one or two plot holes & maybe the twist ending is a little hard to believe but it's a film, it's a work of fiction so I just went with it in this case.

Dune
(1984)

Bloated science fiction film, a bit of a mess.
Dune is set in the year 10191 at which point the known Universe is ruled by Padishah Emperor Shaddam the Fourth (José Ferrer), this is a Universe where the most important thing is a substance known as Spice which allows for instant interstellar travel. Spice is only found on one planet in the entire Universe, the desert planet Arrakis which is also known as Dune. It raises considerable political eyebrow's when the Fourth Emperor hands ownership of Arrakis over to the Atreides family from their hated enemies the House of Harkonnen, the handing over of the ownership of Arrakis is just a smokescreen in order to wipe out the Atreides, the Harkonnen's & the Emperor's personal army are sent to Arrakis to kill the Atreides including the Duke (Jürgen Prochnow) & his son Paul (Kyle MacLachlan). The Duke is killed but Paul manages to escape into the desert & join the native Fremen tribe who want their planet back, Paul has immense psychic powers & uses them to train & help the Fremen as they prepare to to battle with the Emperor & his evil empire...

Written & directed by David Lynch this film is based on the novel Dune by Frank Herbert which was first published as a book in 1965, several filmmakers had toyed with the idea of filming it before this version was produced. I have never read the original Dune book so I cannot say how this adaptation compares but judging by those who have Lynch's script seems to retain enough detail to confuse regular audiences like myself not familiar with the source material yet takes enough liberties with the story to disappoint fans who are familiar with the book & therefore falling between two camps & not really pleasing either. It's a compromise that doesn't satisfy anyone particularly, having just sat through the original theatrical version of Dune for the first time I am in two minds. While the film is fascinating to watch with some of it's bizarre imagery & ideas I just found it too confusing, I had a really hard time keeping track of everyone & everything that has going on. The insistence of using odd names doesn't help because it's difficult to relate a name to a character, the dialogue is stiff & dull & the entire film takes itself deadly serious. I don't think think there's one light hearted moment in the entire film, it makes the two & a bit hours duration difficult to endure at times, with a plot that obviously mirrors contemporary issues on Earth like political unrest, people in power abusing their position, drugs, the idea that if you control something worth money that your powerful, the whole cross culture acceptance, drugs, religion & environmental concerns so I guess the book tried to say a lot & the film also tries & while these issues are valid they get in the way of an entertaining film & are never addressed with any great conviction. I just find it hard to believe that the average person is going to sit through this (whether it's the 130 minute theatrical cut or the 170 minute extended television version) & enjoy it, the story is too complex & challenging & it's not told in a very likable way either. The scope of the film is too big, it's difficult to follow & understand & the lack of any humanity to the character's makes it difficult to relate to anyone.

It's not all bad news though because the look of Dune is fantastic with some great special effects & amazing production design, the sets are memorable from the wooden elegance of the Atreides home planet to the art deco style of the Harkonnen's to the barren desolate wastelands of Arrakis. The costumes, props & production design are magnificent & it's quite easy to be drawn into the wold of Dune & it's politics. Some of the models look a bit like models & some of the effects are not as good as other's but generally they are impressive, there's none of this CGI computer effect work which plague films these days & I defy anyone to say the giant Sandworms would have look half as good as CGI computer graphics. The extended television edit was put together by the producers using outtakes, unused footage, deleted scenes & even repeating a few moments as well & some shots are missing special effects (the Fremen & their blue eye's in particular) & was sold to television stations who spit it into two parts & showed it over a couple of nights, apparently this version is even worse, has no pace & is even more of a mess.

With a supposed budget of about $40,000,000 I suspect all involved thought Dune was going to be an epic, some of the numbers involved are epic like apparently 1,700 people worked on it, it had 80 sets on 16 stages & took over six years to make with director Lynch working for three & a half of those. The acting is very wooden, there's a good cast here that are given horrible dialogue that means nothing & are asked to create proper character's around it which was never going to be easy.

Dune was obviously made at the time it was to cash-in on Star wars (1977) but while Star wars is a fantastic film that is hugely entertaining Dune isn't, by the time the end credits roll on Dune you are wishing for the sheer simplicity, likable character's & magical touches seen in Star Wars rather than the confused politics seen here.

World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries
(2011)

At least it's better than the original...
World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries is set in England & start in Hertfordshire in a military base as a squad of soldiers survive the zombie outbreak spreading throughout the country. After the gates are left open(!) by mistake(!?!) the flesh eating living dead infest the barracks & many soldiers, doctors & civilians are killed as it quickly becomes an every man for himself situation. Captain Maddox (Philip Brodie), a female civilian named Leeann (Alix Wilton Regan) along with three soldiers Kayne (Vicky Aracio), Carter (Okorie Chukwu) & Jonsey (Rob Oldfield) manage to escape the carnage in an army van with a few bare supplies. They all agree to travel to the coast & try to leave England on boats for Rotterdam before the entire country has nuclear bombs dropped on it. With hordes of flesh eating zombies & lawless gangs roaming around they won't have an easy journey & even if they do make it to the pick-up point what will they find?

This British production was directed by Michael Bartlett & Kevin Gates who also wrote the script, a direct sequel to The Zombie Diaries which was also directed by Bartlett & Gates this is at least slightly better but not by much & I still can't say I particularly liked it. The whole film is put together like a documentary, caught on the spot by a camcorder spur of the moment sort of thing so World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries doesn't flow like a normal linear film with huge chunks feeling like they are missing & an almost fly on the wall approach that I just don't really like. Comparisions to such horror films like The Blair Witch Project (1999), Rec (2007), Diary of the Dead (2007) & Paranormal Activity (2007) are inevitable & not entirely unjustified as the shaky annoying look & feel of those films are more than represented here. The basic story is simple, a group of living survivors running low on ammunition & supplies have to get from 'A' to 'B' without being eaten alive alive by zombies, it's a simple story that is stretched out over it's 85 minute duration with the usual arguments & such along with an encounter with a vicious group of human survivors who like to torture people & rape women in a scene that is really quite unpleasant to watch & seems out of place in an otherwise largely straight forward fantasy horror. The ending ditches the first person camcorder perspective for the last few minutes which offers up a very bleak & dark ending. In fact the whole film is quite dark & depressing, people doing nasty things to each other, people being killed & eaten & there's a real lack of hope or humour anywhere in World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries.

Now I usually hate the shaky hand-held camcorder style, the sort of film which is filmed in green tinted night visions, the sort of film where the camera never stops moving & shaking, the sort of film where the editing is awkward & we jump from one shot to another & back again, the sort of film where we get shots of the ground shaking as the cameraman runs or a shot of a wall or something that stops the film dead & irritates me. Having said that some of the shaky camcorder footage here in World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries works quite well, some of the zombie attack scenes benefit from zombies suddenly appearing in frame or out of the darkness but it's just all the other times that this sort of style is just plain annoying. There's a bit of gore, there's some gory gunshot wounds & a bit of flesh eating but nothing excessive. There's a bit of nudity during an unpleasant rape sequence that probably wasn't necessary.

The IMDb says this had a budget of about $1,500,000 which seems like quite a lot, I can't really see where they would need all that money but then I have never made a film so I don't know how much things cost. Filmed in Surrey, Hertfordshie & Suffolk here in the UK. The acting is alright but nothing special, I can't say I recognise anyone involved in this.

World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries has one or two effective moments & it manages to generate an isolated & claustrophobic feel at times but the ever annoying shaky camcorder style kills it dead & the simplistic story doesn't help either. For zombie fans only.

Night Drive
(2010)

Boring South African horror thriller, nothing here to recommend.
Night Drive is set inside the Nyari private game reserve in Mpumalanga, South Africa where gamekeeper Jack Darwin (Greg Melvill-Smith) is angry that his anti-poaching unit is being canned by his boss because of publicity fears. Jack believes that the public has every right to fear as he is convinced gangs of armed men wander the reserves killing anyone they meet to use in sadistic rituals held by the so called 'Hyena Man' & his men, Jack's boss is having none of it & says that he has to supervise a group of tourists on a night drive, a safari drive through the game reserve but at night. Jack is unhappy but has zero choice so along with his man Akani (Yule Masiteng) they prepare for the night drive. Suddenly Jack's son Sean (Christopher Beasley) turns up & joins them & the tourists in order to scatter hate mother's ashes, while enjoying the South African landscape tourist Karen (Corine Du Toit) stumbles upon a mutilated corpse left by the Heyena Man gang. Soon they are being stalked, attacked & killed by the gang...

This South African production was written & directed by Justin Head & is pretty bad, in fact it's just about as bad as any American low budget horror. The script is a mess, what could have been a great horror thriller that explored the cultural heritage of South Africa & used it's myth's & legends to add considerable background to the story all the script offers is some vague rubbish about Voodoo & a few almost pitch black rituals involving slicing people up with machetes. The character's are all stock horror film clichés, the cop with a dark past which he feels great guilt for, the father who has a uneasy relationship with his son until they need to pull together, a really annoying white guy who makes really bad decisions & seems to try his hardest to make people hate him, the romantic love interest who the hero falls in love with & a few other faceless people who are there merely to add to the body count. Night Drive lasts for over 100 minutes, there is no way that Night Drive needed to be that long & it really drags in places, then there's the lack of ambition shown here as the terrain & locations are never used to any sort of effect, a large part of the film is set around one small log fire in the middle of nowhere, the bad guy's have little motivation which could be for either supernatural or financial reasons & it's throughly predictable. Little in the way of horror, there's nothing particularly thrilling about it & I would have a very hard time recommending it to anyone, even the most die hard of low budget horror fans.

With only seven user comments & only three external reviews so far on the IMDb as I write this I assume that Night Drive is pretty obscure, it's certainly never been released on DVD here in the UK although it has played on cable television which is how I saw it & I presume this hasn't seen the light of day in the US either & with good reason as it's a tough sell. Forget about the South African locations as they are all but wasted, most of the film looks to have been shot in the same part of some forest somewhere, none of the local culture or colour or wildlife seems to have been used apart from a few random shots of Hyenas. The gore is forgettable, there's some blood splatter, a guy gets impaled on a machete, a woman is seen with her arm hacked off, there's a mutilated corpse & a few gory gunshot wounds but little else & I can only think of one on screen kill. The final third of Night Drive descends into a shoot em up with lots of people firing guns at each other in some very dull scenes. Night Drive is also very dark at times, if the makers filmed outside at night for real it looks like they didn't bring their own lighting.

Probably shot on a low budget Night Drive looks like most cheap horror films, it's reasonably well made but forgettable & again the locations are wasted. Filmed in South Africa. The acting is alright, again typical low budget horror film stuff.

Night Drive is a really boring & tame horror thriller that could have been really good, the lack of use of the locations & the cultural background of the country feels like a missed opportunity & apart from it's setting there's nothing here that stands out from all the low budget horror rubbish that litter video shop shelves.

Dance of the Dead
(2008)

Enjoyable zombie horror comedy.
Dance of the Dead starts as the students & teachers of Cosa prepare for the big end of year prom, everyone who's anybody will be going which means the likes of the geeks, punks & no hoper's have to find something else to do. A bunch of sci-fi geeks head down to the local cemetery & soon discover the dead rising from their graves hungry for human flesh, they try to survive as best they can with what weapons they find & encounter various other people also trying to survive the zombie outbreak. The assorted oddball group decide to stick together & warn everyone at the prom but when they get there they find out that zombies beat them to it & have already killed & eaten most of the guests, it's then that they come up with a plan to destroy all the zombies & save the world...

Edited, produced & directed by Gregg Bishop this very light hearted tongue in cheek zombie horror comedy (a Zom Com?) offers a decent enough way to pass 80 odd minutes but it's nothing amazing or as clever as it tries to be. The script places far more emphasis on the comedy & self referential mickey taking than the actual horror aspects, I think the main inspiration for Dance of the Dead was The Return of the Living Dead (1985) & even more so it's sequel Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988) which large parts of the main story here are taken from but Dance of the Dead doesn't have quite the right mix of humour & horror & I personally didn't think it was that funny either. The humour is very hit & miss, fans of 80's horror & the genre in particular will get more from Dance of the Dead than most I would think. At only 80 odd minutes long Dance of the Dead is pretty short & moves along at a very quick pace but all of the character's are deliberate clichés that are likable enough I suppose & there's not much of a story here, there's some silly ideas as well like the zombies who stop when they hear (awful) rock music. So it has it moments, it's never boring & there's s a few amusing one liners, some decent gore & it's fun for the majority of it's duration.

There's some gore but none of it is lingering or sadistic, it's more played for laughs & is fleeting. There's some flesh eating, some severed limbs, a decapitated head or two, various gory gunshot wounds & a similar sequence as in Return of the Living Dead Part II where a zombies legs walk around after it's upper bodies is ripped off. Not to be confused with the awful Masters of Horror episode Dance of the Dead (2006) from the first season directed by Tobe Hooper. Since the film goes for laughs there's not much in the way of suspense or scares on show.

Probably shot on a low budget the production values are good & it's well made, it doesn't look cheap & has good special effects as well. The acting is alright, I can't say I recognised any of the faces on show but they do a decent enough job.

Dance of the Dead is a perfectly likable & watchable zombie horror comedy with far more emphasis on the comedy than the horror. I thought it was pretty good overall but many of the jokes & gags aren't that funny, at least it's short.

CLONED: The Recreator Chronicles
(2012)

What is Recreator meant to be?
Recreator is set on Brewster Island in New York State & starts as three teenage friends arrive by canoe, boyfriend & girlfriend Craig Carlson (Alexander Nifong) & Tracy Bernstein (Stella Maeve) along with Derek Johnson (J. Mallory-McCree) intend to spend the weekend camping on the island away from the stresses of the big city. Once they reach Brewster Island they see a huge house in the distance & decide to check it out, Tracy manages to find the key to the front door & lets herself in, the house seems deserted & the three take the opportunity to use the facilities. However they soon see the owners of the house returning, they try to hide in the basement but find two dead bodies down there when they do, they are then caught & made to dig holes on the beach to bury the bodies. Suddenly out of nowhere three naked people who look exactly like them save the trio, things turn weird when the Tracy, Craig & Derek come face to face with exact clones of themselves who have a sinister plan to leave the Island & take over their originals life...

Written, co-produced & directed by Gregory Orr this low budget film seems to have some sort of identity crisis, to my mind I just can't see what it's trying to be or trying to do. The script has aspects from various genres such as sci-fi with the cloning angle, there's some horror with the teen slasher feel that it descends into along with a thriller feel as the clones play their originals off each other & try to manipulate the situation & there's even some mystery here as the script tries to keep you guessing about everyone's motives & who is who. Unfortunately none of it works or gels together, the script is pretty slow & there's little in the way of explanation but what I could gather from it is that these kids were cloned from their bodily wastes after going to the toilet, that a lightening storm activated the cloning & that these clones are largely quite polite until they try to kill you. People being cloned from their poop does seem like it's come from a comedy but Recreator takes itself deadly seriously but it's rather pedestrian & I was never drawn into the story. Ideas & themes are introduced, like the original experiments from the late 50's to a soldiers possible homosexual tendencies (he actually kisses his own reflection in a mirror) but are quickly forgotten & never lead anywhere interesting. At 90 minutes long Recreator tries to be different but it's dull, silly & makes no great sense, why did the clones wait to kill their originals? Why did the original teens react so well to be confronted with exact clones of themselves? Most of us might have been totally freaked out but not these three, they invite them in & dress them!

Another aspect of Recreator I didn't like was just how uneventful it was, hardly anything of any note happens. All the cloning is off screen, there's no blood or gore apart from one brief shot of a guy with shovel stuck in his head & there's no action to speak of either. It's set entirely inside or around one house which helps keep the budget down but becomes repetitive for the audience. There's probably more CGI then you think, all the actor's play both themselves & their clones so whenever they are seen in the same scene it's CGI & the effects to that end are good. The character's look identical so it's often hard to tell which is the original & which is the clone which I assume was intentional but it's not used to any great effect, there's no real suspense or tension & the sci-fi aspects are never given more than the occasional few lines of dialogue.

Probably shot on a low budget Recreator looks alright for what it is & is well made but hardly anything happens. The acting is decent enough from a small cast.

Recreator is a sci-fi horror thriller than disappoints in all areas, it just can't make it's mind up what it wants to be & ends up being an uneven mess. I saw this on telly over here in the UK so I didn't spend money seeing it but I know I would have been even more annoyed if I had. There are much better films out there.

Icarus
(2010)

More laboured & dull action rubbish.
Icarus starts as former KGB agent Edward Genn (Dolph Lundgren) jets off to Hong Kong to carry out a job, now a hit-man for hire who has to do what he is told or suffer the consequences Genn kills people for a living & is very good at it. During the hit Genn fails to kill his original target, a fellow Russian gangster & when he gets back home to Vancouver his employers start asking questions. Genn becomes suspicious but can't do a lot about it, Genn is given another hit but on his way to the airport to fly to Miami he discovers he has been set-up & is ambushed. Genn survives the hit on him & realises that his ex-wife & young daughter's lives are at risk as some very powerful people want him dead. Genn ask's for help from the only person he trust's but he is betrayed & is captured by the CIA who give him an ultimatum, kill his former friend & Russian mobster Vadim (Bo Svenson) or be killed himself...

Renamed The Killing Machine for it's UK & US release this Canadian production both stars & was directed by Dolph Lundgren & after his theatrical comeback in the big budget The Expendables (2010) it's back to reality & the day job for Lundgren & the low budget direct to video action film which is ends up being one machine that needs a real good tune up. What can I say? Icarus, or The Killing Machine if you want to call it that, is pretty rubbish & I think this might be getting half decent reviews because this type of film is just so bad usually that it's difficult for a film to be any worse. A lot of these low budget action thrillers blur into each other after a while, the script offers nothing new with the Russian mob, shady Government deals, life or death situations, betrayal, themes centered on friendship & loyalty & Icarus offers nothing new or original as far as I could see. At 90 odd minutes the pace is fairly sedate, there's a lot of bland & forgettable build-up as the script tries to paint Icarus as some deep & complex character which is just plain ridiculous. Narrative & story is all well & good if there's a good pay-off & worth the time you invest in watching it but Icarus isn't worth the time or effort as the action scenes are very dull & lack any sort of imagination.

Icarus has a really unappealing direct to video look, it just screams cheapness at you. The whole story is very predictable, the lack of any identifiable villain for the majority of the film doesn't help & character motives & decisions seem all over the place at times. The biggest disappointment is surely the action scenes which are poor, there are a couple of fights but otherwise it's just guy's shooting at each other & it gets really boring. No car chases, no explosions, no variety in the action at all. Then there's the filming style, director Lundgren uses shaky hand-held camcorder, really quick editing, slow motion, frame skipping & blurring all to annoying effect. I actually saw this on the SyFy Channel here in the UK, what on Earth is a dull action thriller like Icarus doing on the SyFy Channel? Where's the Science fiction exactly? There's a fair bit of blood here, when someone gets shot they actually bleed & there's a couple of scenes where people get shot through the head to leave a nice big blood splatter on the wall behind them & there's a couple of sex scenes featuring Lundgren with much younger & hotter women so be prepared for that.

With a supposed budget of about $5,000,000 you can see why there's not much action here, that really isn't a lot of money to make an action film these days. Mainly filmed in British Columbia in Canada this got an extremely limited theatrical release in a few countries. The acting is alright, I can't say anyone was great though.

Icarus or The Killing Machine or whatever you want to call it is a really bad action thriller that tosses in all the usual clichés & does nothing interesting or entertaining with them. Even the action scenes suck. At least I didn't pay to see it otherwise I would have been annoyed.

Creature
(1985)

A blatant Alien rip-off, not bad for what it is I suppose.
Creature is set in the far future where two rival companies are competing heavily in space in search of new materials & advanced manufacturing techniques in the as yet unused resource of the universe. The German firm of Richter Dynamics & the American firm NTI are battling it out for commercial supremacy, the location is Titan the largest moon that orbits Saturn where a geological research team from NTI have found an alien spaceship & are examining strange like capsules when one breaks open & something nasty & alive attacks & kills the team. A few weeks later the teams spaceship crashes into an orbiting space-station, NTI recruit a new team to travel to Titan & investigate what happened & lay claim to the alien artifacts. Arriving at Titan the NTI team discover that a rival team from Richter Dynamics has already landed, having damaged their spaceship on landing on Titan they look to ask the German team for help but find them all dead except Hans Hofner (Klaus Kinski) who warns them of an alien creature that has already attacked & killed one of them & which will stop at nothing to kill the rest...

Co-written, co-produced & directed by William Malone this was written & filmed under the title Titan Find which is what it was released as here in the UK when it surprisingly played cinemas back in 1985 before hitting VHS & more recently DVD & can be found in bargain bins all over the country, Creature is a blatant rip-off of the classic sci-fi horror film Alien (1979) & it never really tires to be anything else so in that context I didn't think it was too bad. At just over 90 minutes long the script feels a little padded, the build-up is maybe takes a little long & there's too many scenes of people walking around very dark corridors but that's expected in this sort of film. There's no great reasoning behind what the creature does, it takes control of a few people with parasite creatures but to what end I am not sure, is it after food? Does it just want to kill everyone? Wouldn't it be better letting a couple of humans get back to Earth and hide on the spaceship with them? It would have an entire planet to eat then rather than just a handful of people. Also, at the end how can that get survive in Titan's atmosphere without a spacesuit? No-one else in the film could & one character states that's it minus 77 on the surface which would have surely frozen the guy in seconds? The character's don't help the film much, they are all one dimensional & are only there to either be killed off or to recite the necessary exposition to keep the audience informed that they are all in danger or emphasise that the air is running out or to argue about how best to deal with the situation & so forth. None of them have perceptible personalities if you know what I mean. So while Creature is a bit predictable & does drag in a couple of places it's watchable enough, obviously if you like sci-fi horror films anyway you might like it more than those who don't but you could do a lot worse.

Creature looks surprisingly good, the special effects aren't to the striking levels of Alien but then Creature never had the talents of H.R. Giger designing it. The creature here is kept in the shadows for the majority of the time but is shown in full at the end & again the Alien influence is noticeable. There's some impressive effects, from the space & planet shots to the model work which really isn't that bad at all considering, the electrical effect when the creature is electrocuted at the end is terrible though & while the sets are alright they are a little dark. There's a decent amount of gore here as well, a head is blown up, a face is ripped off, necks are bitten, heads are ripped off & there's plenty of dead bodies lying around. One area where the original Alien beats Creature is in the suspense & horror departments, director Malone fails to generate any real scares & the film as a whole is a bit too predictable.

With a supposed budget of about $750,000 this apparently made nearly five million at the US box office, it has good production values & looks decent. The acting isn't great, the only name of note to me is the notoriously difficult Klaus Kinski who has a small cameo which he probably filmed in a day or two. Marie Laurin takes her spacesuit off on the surface of Titan & is completely naked in order to seduce someone.

Creature is an Alien rip-off that owes a little to The Thing (1982) as well, I was impressed with the overall look of Creature & it's a passable time waster but just don't expect anything original. I quite liked it for what it was but I don't think I would be in any hurry to see it again.

The Tortured
(2010)

Grisly horror thriller.
The Tortured is set in Vermont & starts as six year old Benjamin Landry (Thomas Greenwood) is abducted from his front garden, his father Craig (Jesse Metcalfe) is moments too late to save his son & after giving a short chase phones the police. Two cops visit the home of John Kozlowski (Bill Moseley) & find Benjamin's dead body in his basement, Kozlowski is arrested, put on trial & subsequently convicted of abduction & murder. Kozolwski is given 25 years which means he might be out in 10 on parole, Craig & his wife Elise (Erika Christensen) are devastated & decide to dish out their own justice to Kozlowski. They follow the prison van he is being transported in & manage to steal it, Craig crashes the van as he speeds through the countryside but both he & Kozlowski survive. Craig & Elise take the badly injured Kozlowski to a remote cabin & in the basement torture him in revenge for killing their son, however they begin to question themselves & the FBI are closing in as well...

This American & Canadian co-production was directed by Robert Lieberman & is an odd film that I thought had mixed messages, on the one hand it starts off as a serious drama as two parents have to deal with the loss of their child but then turns into something much different as the Saw (2004) style torture & gore take center stage along with an twist ending which had the potential to be great. The issue of child abduction is a very serious & real one, The Tortured does a reasonable job of setting the story up & showing the effects of such an incident but this seems present only to justify all the torture & nastiness that follows. The themes in The Tortured are quite strong, child abduction like I said as well as the strong desire for revenge & just how far people are willing to go to right a perceived injustice. Both aspects are handled pretty well, the human drama at the start & the grisly tortures that follow, there's a fair bit of nasty torture here with Craig explaining it all in uncomfortable detail to his victim which is obviously aimed at the audience just so they know how much something is going to hurt or that the poor guy will be awake & be able to feel everything while it's happening. The character's are alright, the two parents seem to flip between feeling guilty & remorseful to brimming with hatred & vengeance a bit too often though. The script is hard to take seriously at times though, there are also huge leaps of logic involved & most viewers will have questions about some of the event's. How did Craig & Elise know what prison van Kowloski was in or when he was going to be transfered? Why wasn't Craig more injured in the crash? Then there's the twist ending which had great potential but some lazy writing & bad editing makes things a little unclear, you will have to see it for yourself & while most of it does actually make sense the film isn't clear enough & again you need to suspend your disbelief at some of the events, coincidences & twists.

Filmed in 2007 but remained unreleased until 2010 The Tortured is shot a fairly low key way & doesn't go for flashy camera tricks or editing, I am sure that was the intention. There's some nasty torture scenes here, while they don't result directly in anyone's death they do make you feel a little uneasy at times. A foot is clamped in a vice & slowly crushed, a huge syringe is inserted into an ear to burst the guy's ear drum, people are burned, beaten & in one scene a stomach is sliced open & intestines are pulled out. The special effects are pretty good as well, I didn't notice any CGI computer effects either, this is on set make-up & prosthetics.

The IMDb says the The Tortured had a budget of about $8,500,000 which I find impossible to believe, where did all the money go? No big stars, no big action scenes or exotic locations. The acting is alright if not exactly moving, you should probably feel more for the character's here than what I did.

The Tortured is a decent horror thriller, it has it's moments where it's very effective & that twist ending is pretty good even if it's badly scripted & badly edited. At only 75 minutes long it's quick as well, The Tortured is reasonably good at what it sets out to do.

Dredd
(2012)

Watchable but nothing special, I was a bit disappointed really.
Dredd 3D is set in the future where America has become a irradiated wasteland, stretching from Boston to Washington one city surrounded by a huge wall known as Mega City One has a population of 800 million people living in fear of the lawless crime & chaos where 17,000 serious crimes are reported every day. To try & combat the crime the Hall of Justice has been created, street Judges are given powers to act as judge, jury & if need be instant executioner. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is just about the toughest Judge out there, with no feeling for anything other than the law he is totally dedicated & fearless. A huge structure known as Peach Trees that houses 75,000 people is a breeding ground for gangs & criminals including the sadistic drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) who has developed a new addictive drug called 'Slo-mo', after she skins & kills three rival dealers Judge Dredd & rookie Judge Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) decide to investigate & arrest gang member Kay (Wood Harris) who know's too much so Ma-Ma seals the entire block in order to hunt down & kill the two Judges...

This American, English & Indian co-production was directed by Pete Travis & has nothing to do with the Sylvester Stallone starring Judge Dredd (1995) which most people seem to hate but I actually rather enjoyed although I was certainly not against a new harder, more violent & serious take on the character so I was looking forward to Dredd 3D & after having watched it I can only feel somewhat disappointed by a rather average sci-fi action film that offers very little besides lots of shooting. The character of Dredd is wasted, any tough cop character could have replaced Dredd & it wouldn't have made much difference. The script is largely set inside Peach Trees apartment block & the Mega City One is forgotten about, the problems of a future society are forgotten about & the routine script becomes a standard cops against criminals action thriller. The drug aspect of the script also feels clichéd, Ma-Ma as the main villain is very poor & this really needed a good villain against Dredd although I did like rookie Anderson as a character as she adds some humanity to Dredd's intenseness. At just over 90 minutes Dredd 3D has a good pace, the story is basic but alright for what it is although the action is patchy & a bit unimaginative. The issues surrounding the powers that ordinary cops should have are ignored, issues about drug taking are never raised & all the social commentary that could have been included to make a more worthwhile & thought provoking film has been completely bypassed.

It's been noted just how similar the basic story of Dredd 3D is to that of The Raid (2011) although apparently both films went into production at the same time & Dredd 3D supposedly finished filming first. Another film Dredd 3D reminded me of was the original Die Hard (1989) set inside that huge building with a maverick cop on his own having to take out the bad guy's against the odds. The action is alright but there's nothing amazing here, there's plenty of shooting, a few fights & actually not much else. There's a fair bit of violence here, there's plenty of blood as well with bullets flying through people's faces, blowing heads off & hands being blown off. The production design is good, the futuristic city is part real recognisable world with added CGI computer attachments to enhance the landscape & turn it into a plausible vision of the future. Unlike in the Stallone film Dredd never removes his helmet during this, am I really the only one who thinks it looks a bit plastic & silly like a child's toy?

With a supposed budget of about $50,000,000 this didn't have a huge budget but I would hardly call it low budget like some are saying. The production design & special effects work is certainly more low key, much more restrained & less futuristic than in the Stallone film, just compare the motorbikes Dredd rides in the two films to see what I mean. Shot in Cape Town & Johannesburg in South Africa. This did nothing at the box-office & barely made th top 10 when released in the US, so with Stallone's film & now this both bombing I think this may be the last we see of Dredd on the big screen. The acting is alright, Karl Urban as Dredd has to act with his mouth as the rest of his face is covered up for the entire film, I also thought Olivia Thirlby was really good but I thought Lena Headey was terrible as the villain & simply wasn't imposing or threatening.

Dredd 3D is a decent enough sci-fi action thriller that I thought could have been better, it felt rather routine & I thought the Dredd character & universe was wasted. I don't know, it just felt like this Jugde Dredd character was simply placed into a slightly above average action film. I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either, I actually probably like the Stallone one better.

The Devil's Rock
(2011)

Pretty good.
The Devil's Rock start on June 5th 1944 on the eve of D-day as two New Zealand soldiers reach the shore of Forau Island about 5 miles from north east of Guernsey, allied forces have been sabotaging German held Channel Islands in order to distract Hitler's attention from the upcoming D-Day invasion. Captain Ben Grogan (Craig Hall) & Sergeant Joe Tane (Karlos Drinkwater) make it to the beach of Farau & head straight for a German bunker in order to knock out it's large gun emplacement's, approaching the bunker the men hear horrible screams but try to concentrate on their mission. After setting several explosives they hear the screams again & Tane insists on investigating but is killed inside the bunker. Grogan is taken prisoner by the sole remaining German officer, Colonel Klaus Meyer (Matthew Sunderland) who has been dabbling in occult rituals in order to harness the power of Satan for Hitler & the German army. The results of his work is chained up in a room & feeds on human flesh...

This New Zealand production was co-written, executive produced & directed by former special effects man Paul Campion who apparently re-mortgaged his own house to raise funds to get The Devil's Rock made & while I wasn't expecting that much I did find myself enjoying quite a lot. The script treads the same sort of ground as other horror films such as Shock Waves (1977), The Keep (1983), The Bunker (2001), Deathwatch (2002), Hellboy (2004) & Dead Snow (2009) as it sets it's horror around Nazi's & the war, The Devil's Rock leans towards the supernatural side of things & once again suggests that Hitler wanted to harness magical powers for his own evil ends & the script throw's in a nice reference to Raiders of the Ark (1981) & Hellboy as the fact that Hitler had within his grasp the Ark of the Covenant & tried to reawaken the Great Old One although The Devil's Rock does take itself pretty seriously overall so don't expect any other genre referencing gags like that. At just over 80 minutes The Devil's Rock is a fairly brisk watch, it manages to build tension & suspense quite well & the story draws you in, the relationship between the Kiwi commando & his German counterpart is well handled but I couldn't get the idea out of my head that Grogan should have hated Meyers a lot more than he did after he shot & killed his mate Tane. There's some myth & legend exposition as you would imagine but the film never becomes bogged down in it, I am not quite sure what the red Demon thing is other than it's called a Witch but if it's so powerful I am surprised that a simple chain around her ankle is enough to imprison it.

The Devil's Rock looks great which helps a lot, from the authentic bunker setting (although it does look a lot like the Londer underground at times) to the props, costumes & special effects. There's a fair amount of gore here, torn apart bodies, ripped out brains & intestines, lots of blood splatter, a homage to Cannibal Holocaust (1980) in which a dead German soldier is seen with a large rifle sticking out of his mouth in the same position as the girl with the wooden stake through her in Cannibal Holocaust. The make-up effects on the Demon creature are also good, it's maybe a bit red & the front fang like teeth seem a bit big but overall it's an effective monster & looks good. Keep watching once the end credits start, there's a extra little scene which includes a bit more gore as we get to see Meyers decapitated corpse from another angle. The film manages to build tension & suspense quite well, while not every question is answered there's enough story here to keep most watching.

Probably filmed on a low budget The Devil's Rock looks great, the production values are strong & it's very well made. Filmed in Wellington in New Zealand, some scenes were shot at Wrights Hill Fortress in Wellington which was real World War II bunker.

The Devil's Rock is a really effective supernatural horror film that uses it's World War II backdrop to good effect & doesn't get bogged down in black magic mumbo-jumbo, the whole film is very good actually & is certainly one of the best low budget horror films that I have seen recently. Well worth watching.

The Watermen
(2012)

Average teen slasher, nothing special.
The Watermen starts as a group of friends set sail for the open Ocean to do some fishing & relax, however their boat develops mechanical issues & they become stranded drifting in the water. Suddenly help is at hand, a huge fishing trawler appears & the friends think they are saved. The men on the trawler pass fresh clean water to them & they drink it, minutes later they are all unconscious on the deck of their boat. The friends wake up in a wooden shack full of tables & tanks, it quickly turns out that the fishermen are sadistic killers who murder & then cut up their victims & turn them into fish bait. With several of the teens sliced into fish food the remaining survivors must try to escape or end up the same way...

Written, produced & directed by Matt L. Lockhart who also has a small cameo in the film as the bait shop customer this is typical teen slasher material with a somewhat sadistic & nasty streak that is absent from a lot of recent low budget slasher films, don't take that as any sort of recommendation but there it is. The script follows a tried & tested formula, don't expect to see anything original in The Watermen as you have your typical collection of faceless teen victims (I can't even remember any of their names) stranded in some isolated location being killed by the usual sadistic killers who seem to enjoy rape, torture & slicing people up with a variety of razor sharp knives. There are a couple of unpleasant rape scenes that aren't too graphic but add a certain sadism along with all the scenes of these kids being cut up, skinned & gutted which give The Watermen a slightly mare sadistic & nasty streak than a lot of recent low budget slasher films that I have seen. There's no great explanation behind anything, the teens just want to have sex & fish on a boat while all the killers are interested in is making more fish bait (surely there are easier & lass risky ways?) & if this stuff is so s*it hot then why sell it to these loser kids in the first place? You would have though they would have wanted to save the human flesh for themselves, I mean they seem to kill a lot of people but surely they can't have an endless supply of the stuff?

One problem with The Watermen is that there's too much footage of the character's running or splashing around in the water, people say stay here & I'll be back or make some silly suggestion that leads them right back to the killers & it's a bit lazy really. There's not much tension or suspense & why does the main killer have to mumble, I couldn't understand what he saying most of the time. There's a bit of nudity & a couple of brief rape scenes. There's some decent gore but it's mostly the same sort of thing with bodies being sliced & cut up, there's lots of blood & body parts as well. There's an amusing web-cam gag as well in which a guy gets his cock and balls out & show's them to his mates, yes it's childish but somewhat funny with it.

With a supposed budget of about $1,150,000 this was apparently filmed in Newport News in Virginia, the production values are decent enough & it's reasonably well made & doesn't look as low budget as a lot of recent horror films do.

The Watermen is an alright slasher with a slightly higher gore & nastiness level than I expected which helps, nothing brilliant & I can hardly remember anything about it but it passed 90 odd minutes harmlessly enough. I've seen better but I have also seen worse.

La posesión de Emma Evans
(2010)

Rubbish rip-off of The Exorcist.
Exorcismus is set in London in England where teenager Emma Evans (Sophie Vavasseur) lives with her mom Lucy (Jo-Anne Stockham) & dad John (Richard Felix) & younger brother Mark (Lazaro E. Ortli Ortiz), she should have a good life but Emma is unhappy. Emma feels that her parents are restricting her, not letting her go out, not letting her go to a proper school & making her look after her little brother (I can sympathise with Emma here though, Mark is an annoying kid) so Emma rebells & takes drugs, cuts herself & generally tries to be as awkward as possible. After the usual argument Emma collapses & has a fit on the living room floor (lucky they never had guests around) & is taken to hospital but is given the all clear, Emma then has anther fit & pukes up blood & starts to look very ill. Medical science has no answers so John calls in his brother, a priest named Christopher (Stephen Billington) who is convinced that Emma is possessed by the devil & only an exorcism will save her...

This Spanish production was directed by Manuel Carballo & if you haven't already guess Exorcismus is a complete rip-off of the all time classic The Exorcist (1973), & a pretty bad rip-off as well. Just look at the similarities, the title Exorcismus is also the same as The Exorcist (not quiet enough for Warner Bros. to sue though), the central story of a young girl being possessed by the devil, the way that the Church steps in to perform an exorcism & the effect that it has on the girls immediate family. Sure, there are differences & the script throws in a lame twist at the end which has virtually no impact at all, the twist reveal is pedestrian & is not the dramatic height of the films as it should have been but rather a damp squib that left no impression on me at all. The script is slow going, at almost 100 minutes long Exorcismus drags & very little of note actually happens. It takes ages for anything to happen & the big problem is none of it is surprising, nothing in Exorcismus is particularly original or new. The events of Emmas possession are also really tame, she speaks in a deep voice, she has a fit, she pukes up some blood & that's about it, in fact it's surprising how readily her parents accept that she must be possessed by the devil despite the lack of any convincing evidence. Where's the foul mouth obscenities? Wheres the green vomit? Why doesn't her head spin round 360 degrees? Exorcismus feels like some sort of soap opera where some rebellious teenage girls acts weird for forty odd minutes, there are pointless flashbacks as well to nothing of any great significance.

Filmed under the title The Possession of Emma Evans the makers go out of their way to play down the exploitation & horror, in fact the whole film is far too subtle & forgettable as it deliberately goes for a low key realistic ordinary suburban setting & feel. There's no blood or gore that I could remember, there are a few scenes where Emma hallucinates seeing hordes of Cockroaches emerging from various places including her boyfriends mouth in just about the only straight horror sequence in the entire film. A few people are stabbed, there's a bit of blood but nothing else worth mentioning. The makers of Exorcismus seem to refuse to build up any scares, any tension or generate any creepiness & as a result the whole film is very bland & dull. This whole low key realistic approach just doesn't do the subject matter or story any favours & in fact makes it difficult & boring to sit through.

With a supposed budget of about $1,800,000 this was made in English by a Spanish crew, despite Doug Bradley getting a credit on the titles he's only in it for about two minutes. The rest of cast are average, I can't say I was particularly moved or impressed by any of the performances.

Exorcismus is a total rip-off of The Exocist but manages to fail to even equal it let alone better it, it's a drab & dull film that offers nothing new or memorable. Not recommended.

Jersey Shore Shark Attack
(2012)

Absolutely terrible yet strangely amusing & witty at times.
Jersey Shore Shark Attack is set in the small town of Seaside Heights on the Jersey Shore where Italian Guido TC (Jeremy Luke) & his mates live & hang out, while having a fight with Bradford (Grant Harvey) & some rich preppy boy friends from the local yachting club. A Guido named JP (Ben Giroux) is chased & jumps into the Ocean where Bradford & his friend leave him, suddenly JP is attacked from below the surface by a vicious white skinned, red eyed albino Shark & killed. Most of us wouldn't be to bothered but TC & his mates are genuinely upset, TC believes that something in the water attacked JP & sets out to prove it to his father who happens to be the Sheriff in Seaside Heights. While performing an open air concert ex N-Sync boy-band member Joey Fatone is eaten by a flying Shark, the wider community now has to believe TC. As the bodies mount up it's up to TC & his Guido companions to save the day & prevent a bloodbath...

Directed by John Sheppird this made for television comedy horror spoof premiered on the SyFy Channel both here in the UK & the US before hitting the shops on DVD & Blu-ray, I deliberately described Jersey Shore Shark Attack as a comedy spoof horror although thinking about it I might just have given it far too much credit & in fact it's an absolute shambles of a film but surely no-one could make a film this outrageously bad on purpose could they? Obviously a tongue in cheek light hearted attempt to combine the cheap Sy Fy Channel creature feature with the successful reality based Jersey Shore (2009) television series that follows a group of twenty something's around, right now I will admit that I hate these fly on the wall reality television show's so I have not seen a single second of the awful sounding Jersey Shore series but I have seen what seems like hundreds of those cheap Shark based SyFy Channel creature features & I have to say that I found Jersey Shore Shark Attack utterly awful yet undeniably entertaining & even quite amusing at times. At just under 90 minutes long the script wastes no time & this has a good pace, something utterly stupid or daft is always happening so you will be in a constant state of hysterics & disbelief at what you are witnessing. Jersey Shore Shark Attack is the sort of film that defies any sort of rational description, you simply have to see it to understand how awful it is & how embarrassing it is. The character's are all dumb stereotypical idiots & I assume that the airhead Nooki is a send-up of the real life Jersey Shore participant Snooki, the dialogue is terrible (did he drowned?) & the whole premise is lazy & has been done before. There's the killer Shark's, the rich businessman & town mayor who refuse to shut the beach down because of fear of bad publicity & the stand-up Sheriff who puts himself on the line. Character's behave in ways that are totally idiotic & I was actually rooting for the Shark's who were the innocent victims here in this tragic tale of environmental destruction & social behaviour.

The special effects are absolutely awful, the shark attacks are CGI computer animated & next to no effort was made to even place the Shark's & actor's in the same scene or to make footage of the two even match during the same scene. Jersey Shore Shark Attack is badly made by people who look like they don't really care. There's a bit of gore, a guy has his hand bitten off & a fountain of blood spurts everywhere, there's a mangled torso & some guy is attacked as a Shark jumps out of the water & has his stomach torn open & skin ripped off his body. The rest of the attacks are pitiful, even the blood in most of the attacks is CGI, how cheap is that? The film is very bright & colourful with no thought on creating any sort of atmosphere or scares or tension, it's very kitsch & exaggerated.

Filmed mainly in California there's an appearance by Joey Fatone in a funny cameo & the entire cast seem to having fun with the one-liners & silly poses, the so bad it's good acting from the cast is probably the best aspect of Jersey Shore Shark Attack & makes it a total laugh riot from start to finish.

Jersey Shore Shark Attack is absolutely terrible, it's not a proper film it's a collection of awfully directed scenes & rubbish CGI effects held together by a game cast & an amusing script that actually has some wit. Don't rush out & buy it but I was entertained in a very strange sort of way. Now, a reality based television series in which the cast of the actual Jersey Shore are attacked & eaten by killer Shark's is definitely something I would pay good money to see...

Dark Night of the Scarecrow
(1981)

Considered a classic, a good film but maybe not quite a classic.
Dark Night of the Scarecrow starts as the mentally child like 36 year old man Bubba Ritter (Larry Drake) plays with his best friend, a young girl named Marylee Williams (Tonya Crowe) whom are inseparable. While out innocently playing together Marylee is attacked by a dog, Bubba manages to rescue her but thinks she is dead & takes her home to her mother. Four local men including mailman Otis P. Halzelrigg (Charles Durning) hear what has happened & assume that the mentally retarded Bubba killed Marylee, together they find Bubba & hunt him down into a corn field where Bubba hides in a scarecrow. The men shoot Bubba in cold blood thinking that he killed little Marylee but they hear on the radio that Marylee is still alive & that Bubbe actually saved her life, they quickly make up a story that they shot Bubba in self defence & are subsequently spared jail. However a mysterious scarecrow appears in a field, a scarecrow that wasn't there before & soon two of the men responsible for murdering Bubba have died in strange accidents...

Directed by Frank De Felitta this was originally made for US network TV & first broadcast on 24th October 1981 before it was subsequently released on VHS around the world & more recently on DVD, it's fair to say that Dark Night of the Scarecrow has enjoyed classic status for a long time now & while I think it's a fine film I don't think I could quite call it a genuine classic. Sure, it's a classic in some other people's eyes but as far as I am concerned it's not much more than a good solid chiller. Dark Night of the Scarecrow tells a good story, it takes it's time to build up the situation & the character's & it's easy to become engrossed, I suppose some say how the script touches on subjects like mental illness, prejudice, the way the legal system can be manipulated, assumption & child molestation & while that's true to an extent I thought the script never went into huge amounts of detail which I think is good as it could have become really bogged down with wider issues. At just over 90 minutes Dark Night of the Scarecrow might seem slow to some viewers but none of the running time is wasted & a lot is crammed into that time, the main area that I found disappointing was that there's not much of a pay-off here. Sure, the script takes the time to set the story up, to bring the character's to life & build-up some creepy atmosphere but all of the death's are off screen & I was sitting there waiting for it to really come to life but it never does which is a pity as I don't really have anything else bad to say about it. Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a good solid horror thriller that is perfectly watchable & enjoyable but didn't stand out as the classic that many seem to claim so readily.

Probably not having much money to work with director Felitta does a good job of creating atmosphere, sound effects, good nighttime photography & good use of the creepy Scarecrow image help. There's no great amount of blood or gore in it, someone is shot & there's a bit of blood but nothing excessive, in fact Dark Night of the Scarecrow is very restrained which is not a criticism just a statement. Sound is also used to good effect as well. Apparently had an eighteen day shooting schedule but was filmed in just seventeen.

Filmed in Piru in California the production values are great, made for television films have certainly regressed a long way since Dark Night of the Scarecrow, can you imagine the SyFy Channel making such a good looking & carefully crafted film as this today? The acting is very strong, Charles Durning is great in a role that was originally intended for Strother Martin before he died while the rest of the cast are also excellent here.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a really good, solid horror thriller that is is worth watching but I would stop just short of calling it an absolute classic. A good film to watch at Halloween.

Bigfoot
(2012)

Another painful viewing experience from The Asylum.
Bigfoot is set in the small South Dakota town of Deadwood where local radio host Harley Anderson (Danny Bonaduce) is organising an 80's style rock festival, the local mayor (Howard Hesseman) wants the festival as a way of bring business into the town but local environmentalist Simon Quint (Barry Williams) opposes the festival as a large area of woodland has to be cut down to make way for it. Both Anderson & Quint argue over the plans but Anderson gets his way, the trees are cut down & the festival goes ahead. The headlining act is ageing rocker Alice Cooper, deep in the surrounding woods a huge Bigfoot type creature is annoyed by the loud rock music & rampages through the festival destroying equipment & killing people. The national guard are called in, local outrage & horror at the atrocity changes to sympathy as Quint argues that the Bigfoot monster is a victim & should be captured while Anderson wants to profit from the creature & calls in big game hunters to trap it...

Produced by the talentless folk at The Asylum & premiering on the SyFy Channel before going to DVD this piece of crap had the working title of Black Hills & was directed by Bruce Davison who oddly also starred in & directed a few episodes of the Harry and the Hendersons (1991-1993) television series which featured a Bigfoot creature living with an average American family so I guess he was chosen for prior experience in the Bigfoot genre, whatever the reason Bigfoot is total crap from start to finish & is an embarrassment to all concerned. While different films appeal to different people & they can have differing but no less worthwhile opinions about them Bigfoot is a film where you should take notice of all the bad reviews, the 2 out of 10 score on the IMDb is justified here, all the negative reviews & bad mouthing of this piece of rubbish is hard to disagree with. At just under 90 minutes it's really boring, the story is just so random, it has no central concept beyond this Bigfoot thing killing a few people & various character's running around with different agendas trying to capture it. Wouldn't a huge manhunt be organised in order to trap & kill it? If Anderson manages to capture it why does he think he will be able to do whatever he wants with it? The same goes for Quint. Why, when this Bigfoot kills people in cold blood is Quint still so keen to save it? Where are all the locals? The idea that bad rock music makes this Bigfoot go crazy is just lame, wouldn't anyone else have seen this thing before? It's 40 or 50 feet high, you could hardly miss it could you? The plot, that character's & the dialogue are all awful, the plans these idiots come up with to capture the thing just defy logic. Bigfoot is just painful to watch. I also couldn't help but think of King Kong while watching this, the Bigfoot monster looks more like a huge Ape much like Kong & with the climax set on a famous landmark like Mount Rushmore one can see the similarities of Kong's climax set on the Empire State Building.

Technically Bigfoot is an absolute mess too, some of the continuity is atrocious like when near the end Bigfoot is rampaging through a car park yet in the very next scene he's jumping down from a wall in front of Mount Rushmore nowhere near any car park or the inconsistencies of it's size. The special effects are terrible, the Bigfoot is a CGI creation & it looks awful as it awkwardly stomps, walks, kicks & slaps stuff. It does get embarrassing at times. The CGI helicopters also look rubbish. This thing is huge, like 40 or 50 feet high yet it is able to 'sneak' up on people & why does everyone just stand there waiting for it to kill them? Time & time again character's just stand there with stupid expressions on their faces, waiting for this huge monster to get close enough to kill them. God this is awful, how I made it all the way through I will never know. The ending set on Mount Rushmore is rubbish, the location is totally wasted & again the CGI work is atrocious.

Filmed in Carnation in Washington on what must have been a very low budget. The acting isn't very good, rocker Alice Cooper makes a small cameo appearance while has been television stars Danny Bonaduce & Barry Williams play the lead character's but look bored.

Bigfoot is a terrible film, make no mistake about it Bigfoot is as bad as any SyFy Channel original you care to think of. I don't know why I keep watching this crap for, it's not like I am unaware what to expect. The bad news is that the SyFy Channel over her recently played Jersey Shore Shark Attack (2012) which is currently waiting for me on my set top box, I shudder at the thought.

Død snø
(2009)

Enjoyable enough zombie film from Norway.
Dead Snow is set in Norway & starts as several medical student friends travel to a remote log cabin in a small town called Oksfjord, the friends intend to spend the weekend enjoying themselves in the snow. A man suddenly appears & warns them about the surrounding mountains, about a curse that centers on a sadistic group of Nazi soldiers who apparently froze to death there during World War II but are said to still roam the area killing anyone that are unlucky enough to meet them. The medical students laugh his claims off as silly but it's not long before the Nazi zombies have risen from their graves & are trying to kill the students who have to use whatever they can to try & survive as they fight for their lives...

This Norwegian production is known as Død Snø in it's native country & was co-written & directed by Tommy Wirkola & has ridden on the recent success of the big budget Hollywood zombie film, it is actually part of a small sub genre known as the Nazi zombie film which include Shock Waves (1977), Oasis of the Zombies (1981), Zombies Lake (1981) & Night of the Zombies (1983) & I have to say that Dead Snow doesn't particularly enhance the reputation of the genre but it's an enjoyable enough way to waste 90 odd minutes. While a lot of people seem to be raving about Dead Snow I didn't think it was much more than just a good zombie film, the script for instance isn't that great with unlikable & bland character's & absolutely no explanation or reasoning behind anything that happens. There';s something about an old curse, there's some gold in a wooden box & lots of Nazi zombies but how they are all tied together is left unexplained. The pace is good & there's plenty of good moments but overall I would struggle to call Dead Snow a classic, the script also tries to mimic Scream (1996) & have lots of little references to other horror films & genre itself but these seem quite forced & deliberate & I think lack the wit that Scream showed.

The film looks nice enough & it looks to have a decent amount of money spent on it, the isolated snow covered mountain locations look great but director Wirkola doesn't inject any suspense or tension into the film as when the Nazi zombies show up he is more interested in splatter effects which in itself isn't a bad thing. There's some good gore here, there's a slit throat, a ripped open head, spilled brains, pulled out intestines, knives in eyes, people are ripped apart, bits of flesh are bitten off, there's plenty of blood & someone cuts their own arm off with a chainsaw in a scene that surely was lifted from Evil Dead II (1987)? The character who wears a Braindead (1992) shirt didn't go unnoticed either. The zombies themselves don't really act like traditional zombies & the Nazi back-story aspect feels cobbled together at the last minute & is vague & forgettable, maybe the makers didn't quite know what they were trying to go for here but no one aspect really excels.

With a supposed budget of about $800,000 Dead Snow looks pretty good & is well made, the special effects are impressive & the lack of CGI computer effect is welcome. Filmed in Norway. Available in either the original native Norwegian with English subs or an English dubbed I saw the dubbed version which is horribly out of sync at times. The acting seemed alright but none of the character's stand out & I never particularly rooted for any of them.

Dead Snow is an enjoyable zombie film with some good gore & a few nice moments, there's some humour & Scream style dialogue but as a whole I was left wanting a bit more. Enjoyable enough but I didn't think it was any sort of classic & can't really see where all the hype comes from.

Shoot 'Em Up
(2007)

Silly action film featuring lots of guns & shooting.
Shoot 'Em Up starts as Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) is minding his own business sitting on a public bench, he then sees a pregnant woman (Ramona Pringle) run past & a guy with a gun chasing her. Smith senses trouble & goes to the aid of the woman who gives birth during a frantic shoot out between Smith a some heavily armed bad guy's who want to her. Smith decides to take the baby with him as the men also seem intent on killing it, head villain Hertz (Paul Giamatti) is annoyed at losing the baby & sets out to kill both Smith & the infant. Smith heads towards a local brothel to enlist the help of a prostitute named Donna Quintano (Monica Bellucci) to look after the baby but Hertz & his men are not far behind & Smith, Donna & the baby are forced to go on the run while trying to figure out who wants them all dead so badly. Smith uncovers a plot that goes to the highest levels of politics & big business as he tries to dodge all the bullets fired at him...

Written & directed by Michael Davis who convinced studio bosses to give him money to make Shoot 'Em Up after showing them his own computer animated action scenes (no wonder New Line Cinema went bankrupt if some stick-man animation is all it took to get millions out of them) this over the top action film is maybe meant to be a homage to the classic action films of the 80's & 90's with added 00's computer effects & extra added silliness. You can look at Shoot 'Em Up two different ways, you can take it as an adrenaline fuelled action film that never stops & has a dark sense of humour to undercut the none stop violence & mayhem or you can take it as one of the dumbest, noisy & pointless action films of recent years that tries to cover up it's lack of intelligence & imagination by bombarding the audience with a constant barrage of repetitive gun fights & bad one-liners. I am stuck somewhere between the two, sure I like mindless violence & at just over 80 minutes long Shoot 'Em Up doesn't waste any time with insignificant aspects such as character's, logic or a story while at the same time I do like my films to have some sort of depth (even if that's just giving the hero a first name...) & Shhot 'Em Up is as hollow & empty a film as I have ever seen I'm afraid. The script doesn't take itself seriously but then we won't either, the lame gags about carrots & the 'things' Smith 'hates' aren't funny the first time & certainly aren't the fifth or sixth. There's some nonsense about an anti gun politician but this is lost in the mayhem & is barely given more than a few lines, if Shoot 'Em Up was trying to have an anti gun message then it missed the boat.

Shoot 'Em Up feels more like a cartoon than a film at times, the way the laws of physics are constantly broken & the way none of the bad guy's can shoot straight. For God's sake, do we really need another film where the hero can shoot & kill anyone with one shot yet all the bad guy's in the world can't hit him once? No, we don't. Apparently director Michael Davis said that he didn't want a single explosion in Shoot 'Em Up & to have all the action scenes center around guns, guns & more guns. Shoot 'Em Up is a gun lovers dream, virtually every scene features a gun, they are definitely glamorised here & seen as powerful & cool & there's even one distasteful part where Smith talks to the new born baby & tells him all about guns. Yeah great, teach them to shoot people young right? Because of the nature of the action scenes they become incredibly repetitive but they are still quite fun to watch, Smith manages to use his gun for all sorts of things like shooting roundabouts or blowing legs off tables to make barriers. There's a decent car chase here as well & a poorly CGI rendered parachute shoot out, although Shoot 'Em Up is very violent & features plenty of blood & severed limbs it's very cartoon like.

With a supposed budget of about $39,000,000 I wasn't expecting it to be that high, I can't really see where the money went to be honest. It's well made although some of the CGI work isn't great & the ending in which Smith uses a scalpel stuck through his hand to kill a load of bad guy's is badly edited which I suspect is down to censorship issues. Filmed in Ontario in Canada. I can't say I thought the acting was much good, Clive Owen seems bored while I thought Paul Giamatti was terrible & annoying as the bad guy.

Shoot 'Em Up is mindless action entertainment for those who get off on seeing men shoot big guns at each other, there's not a lot else to this film to be honest. It's short, it has loads of violence & a few decent moments but the sheer stupidity & lack of any sort of story doesn't help it. Worth watching if you like your action films violent & dumb.

Maximum Overdrive
(1986)

Stephen King's directorial debut, silly but entertaining.
Maximum Overdrive starts by explaining that on 19th June 1987 the Earth passed into the extraordinarily diffuse tail of a comet called Rhea-M, according to calculations the Earth would remain in the tail of the comet for the next eight days. On Earth itself strange things begin happening, machines & electrical equipment start to turn sentient, almost alive like someone or something is controlling them. At first cash machines insult customers & bridges open & close on their own but soon the machines turns against humanity with cars & trucks running people down, electric carving knives slicing open anyone who ventures too near, vending machines that kill, video game machines that electrocute their players & even lawnmowers that cut up their owners. The Dixie Boy truck stop & Diner is attacked by a convoy of huge trucks that refuse to let the terrified people inside leave, as news of the outside events filter int the Dixie Boy it seems that the trucks have plans for the remaining humans. The trucks need fuel to run & make the few survivors fill their tanks which gives them enough time to work out a plan to escape...

Stephen King's name attached to any sort of film seems to be worth money in Hollywood, the amount of his stories or books that have been adapted to the silver screen is testament to that & films with his name attached are still being made, both original works & remakes so he's as popular & well known now as he ever was. Of course he is one of the worlds best horror writers & recognisable names in the genre so why not? Unfortunately you could say that the works of Stephen King have fared reasonably well on the big screen, there's been the odd disaster but most are watchable enough with the odd classic thrown in but most are average. Realising this King opted to adapt his short story 'Trucks' & direct himself with uneven yet entertaining results. Maximum Overdrive is undoubtedly a silly film, some of the decisions the character's make are mind boggling while the story lends itself to some silly imagery & moments but somehow it works on a camp level. To be blunt, I liked Maximum Overdrive for what it is. From the coke vending machine that sends cans flying out with such force that it kills one guy to the opening scene where the cash machine calls a man played by King himself in an uncredited cameo an a hole to the gloriously bad taste moment when a huge steam roller runs over a ten year old kid there are many scenes & moments in Maximum Overdrive that will stay with you, it makes no great sense why some machines are affected & other's aren't while I refuse to believe a huge truck could 'creep' up on someone without them noticing it but again I think there's a real camp entertainment vale to be had here, any fan of junky films will love this. The character's are thin, there's not much of a story to get into but there's a definite watchability to it. At just under 100 minutes it has a good pace & doesn't feel that long which is good, I am sure there are many out there who hate Maximum Overdrive & that's fair enough but I liked it. Some of the dialogue is really bad, the scene set inside the Dixie Boy toilet when Emilio Estevez has to talk to a fat guy on a toilet taking a wet flatulent crap is quite surreal.

Maximum Overdrive lacks any great imagination on King's part & the whole film is a little flat lacking in tension or urgency. Considering how skillful King is writing horror books it's surprising to see such a lack of depth to the character's & the really bad dialogue. There's some good special effects work here though, from exploding trucks to some decent gore a lot of which was cut to get an 'R' rating. Apparently King has admitted that he was high on cocaine the entire time he made Maximum Overdrive so that might explain the silliness & almost random feel. An accident on set occurred when the radio controlled lawnmower went haywire & struck a block of wood sending splinters flying & injuring the director of photography Armando Nannuzzi who ended up losing his right eye & ended up suing King for $18 million in damages.

With a supposed budget of about $10,000,000 Maximum Overdrive has good production values & looks nice enough, filmed in Wilmington in North Carolina. Australian rock band AC/DC composed the music. The acting is suitably hammy & no-one seems to taking it too seriously.

Maximum Overdrive is a film that I enjoyed, whether you enjoy it will depend on personal taste. It's one of those films that only certain people with certain viewing mentalities will get. Apparently Stephen King was asked why he has not directed anything since Maximum Overdrive he replied 'Just watch Maximum Overdrive' which is a quality come back. Certainly not for everyone but I enjoyed it.

The Expendables 2
(2012)

Enjoyable old school action flick.
The Expendables 2 starts as ace sniper Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) tells his boss Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) that he wants to leave the Expendables, a team of tough mercenaries who are for hire & take on dangerous jobs that need lots of firepower. Ross accepts his decision, however later that night the sinister CIA man Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) orders Ross & his team of expendables to carry out one last job for him, since Church can have them all jailed for life or killed Ross has little alternative but to agree. A plane has crashed with some extremely important cargo locked in a safe on-board, it's up to Ross & the expendables to find, retrieve & deliver the cargo back to him before it falls into the wrong hands. The mission at first seems easy & all goes well but after finding the cargo Ross & the expendables are ambushed by the sadistic Villain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) & his men who steal the precious cargo & kill Billy the Kid leaving Ross & the rest of the expendables swearing vengeance...

Directed by Simon West who I guess was a decent enough choice after turning in enjoyable enough big budget fare like Lare Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) & the excellent Con Air (1997) which still remains one of my personal favourite OTT action films (Nicolas Cage should be in The Expendables 3... while we're at it how about Wesley Snipes & Kurt Russell too) this is a direct sequel to the highly enjoyable old school action film The Expendables (2010) & while I didn't think it was quite as good The Expendables 2 is still a lot of fun & thankfully doesn't abandon it's violent action film roots. The first twenty odd minutes & the last twenty odd minutes are brilliant, action packed, funny & highly entertaining & it's a slight shame that the intervening hour is a little dull & empty. The major problem with The Expendables 2 is the lack of a substantial story, there's very little here & what is here is merely there to hang the action set-pieces off. It's hard to think about the character's as individuals rather than the actor's that play them which is also maybe doesn't help, that's the one great negative though & the killing of Billy the Kid & the revenge mission that ensues takes a backseat to the action, the egos & the one-liners so be prepared for that. The script is nicely nostalgic, it gives the main cast plenty of opportunity to throw in several gags & references to their earlier films & well known one-liners in an amusing & playful way but never in a derogatory mocking sense. At about 100 minutes long The Expendables 2 doesn't outstay it's welcome & your never far from the fight, shoot-out, one-liner or explosion.

The likes of Bruce Willis & Arnold Schwarzenegger get much bigger roles this time around although Jet Li is only there for the opening fifteen minutes, I suppose we should be grateful a compromise was struck & he came back at all as he has said he wants to quit Hollywood. New action film star additions to the cast include the legendary Chuck Norris who seems very game to live up to his reputation (the Cobra gag is hilarious) while Jean-Claude Van Damme is still in very good shape unlike a few of the other's as age catches up with them but to be fair the fact they are all in such good shape at their age says a lot. Jason Statham is great values as always, his sole fight scene in a Chapel is fantastic as are all the action scenes, West manages to bring scale & excitement to things while never confusing matters with shaky hand-held camcorder crap & quick editing. This is the way action scenes should be shot, loud, violent & great fun, the hilarious scene with Schwarzenegger & Willis in the little car is worth watching the film for on it's own. 80's & 90's action fans starved of that type of film over recent years should definitely get a kick out of it.

With a supposed budget of about $100,000,000 The Expendables 2 has great action scenes & plenty of star power, during the 80's & 90's who would have thought all the top action film stars of the day would team up? Filmed in China & the US but mainly in Bulgaria. I liked the performances here, everyone seems to be having fun although I wasn't impressed with new female team member Nan Yu who has little to do & gets lost amongst the egos.

The Expendables 2 is a great old school action film, full of violence, gun fights, explosions & senseless death & destruction. What more do you want? Apart from a story that is. 80's & 90's action fans should lap it up, I did. Apparently The Expendables 3 is already in production.

Riding the Bullet
(2004)

Another Stephen King adaptation, not one of his more well known stories though.
Riding the Bullet is set during 1969 & starts as college art student Jessica Hadley (Erika Christensen) tells her fellow art student boyfriend Alan Parker (Jonathan Jackson) that she is splitting up with him, it's his birthday as well. That night Jessica reveals that it was just a ploy to set-up a surprise party but Alan gets some bad news as he learns that his mother Jean (Barbara Hershey) has had a stroke & is in hospital, Alan decides to hike all the way to Lewiston & be with his sick mother. Alan manages to get several rides as he gets closer to Lewiston but finally ends up in the red Plymouth Fury of George Staub (David Arquette) whom Alan becomes to believe is dead, George offers him a deal in which he has to make a choice whether his mother or himself dies that very night...

This American, German & Canadian co-production was written, co-produced & directed by Mick Garris & was based on the internet publish story Riding the Bullet by Stephen King, any horror film fan worth anything will know that generally speaking Stephen King books don't make particularly good films although it seems his name sells so I guess people will continue to make make crappy films based on his usually great work. I have not read Riding the Bullet nor had I even heard of it before seeing this adaptation so I cannot compare the two but I get the impression that the novel might have worked better. I am not really sure what Riding the Bullet is meant to be, is it a horror? Is it a drama? Is it a sentimental coming of age story? Is it just an oddball curiosity with no real deep meaning or ambition? Riding the Bullet is certainly a hard film to categorise & I am not quite sure who it is meant to appeal to, surely it's too tame & sedate for the horror crowd yet a little too out there & extreme for the low key melodrama fans. The script seems to handing out mixed messages all over the place, it never has central focus & the constant flashbacks, dreams, & fantasies that go through Alan's mind become annoying & are only there to add a bit of gore & a bit of dark humour. At 100 minutes long Riding the Bullet is watchable & if you can get into the sloppy narrative & like the character's then you may enjoy it, I didn't think it was terrible as it had a few moments here & there but overall the film feels shallow, unfocused & almost unfinished. A strange sort of road trip, dark comedy horror thriller that I didn't hate but didn't love either.

Mick Garris seems to have a thing about Stephen King adaptations having worked on as either writer or director on the likes of Sleepwalkers (1992) & Quicksilver Highway (1997) as well as the television series The Stand (1994), The Shining (1997), Desperation (2006) & the recent Bag of Bones (2011). Riding the Bullet has a few gory moments, a Dog killing a cute Rabbit, a Crow eating some roadkill & then being pulped by an ambulance, a talking severed head, a ripped-off hand & a bit of blood splatter but nothing that scary or extreme. This is well made for what it is but the soap opera happy ending sentiment didn't do anything for me & left me feeling rather cold. There's an obvious nod to King's killer car novel Christine as the red Plymouth Fury turns up as the preferred car choice of the dead.

With a supposed budget of about $5,000,000 this has good production values & looks the part, the special effects are pretty good too. Filmed in Canada. The acting is alright, the actor's bring a certain warmth & likability to the character's & that's the main reason I stuck with it.

Riding the Bullet isn't typical Stephen King material, those used to top notch horror will be disappointed here & while I didn't hate Riding the Bullet I can't think of much to recommend it other than it's unusual & is watchable. Not awful but not particularly good either a film like this comes down to personal taste really.

Bangkok Dangerous
(2008)

Disappointing action thriller, nothing special at all.
Bangkok Dangerous starts as professional hit-man Joe (Nicolas Cage) arrives in thriving Bangkok to carry out four jobs, four jobs that he fully intends to be his last before he retires from the assassination business for good. First thing that Joe does is hire a local petty criminal named Kong (Shahkrit Yamnarm) who will act as his go between & translator when needed. Joe swears by several codes that dictate how he carries out his work, however these rules begin to blur as Joe falls in love with a deaf & mute pharmacist & starts to doubt what he is doing, after sparing the life of Kong he decides to become his teacher & train him to become an assassin. After completing his first three hits Joe is hired to assassinate a politician & has second thoughts, after not carrying out this job Joe becomes the target as the people hiring him cannot afford him to talk & implicate them & as such kidnap Kong in an attempt to get to Joe but Joe is one step ahead & sets out to rescue his friend & kill the bad guy's...

Directed by Oxide Pang Chun & Danny Pang who are collectively know as The Pang Brothers this is a remake of the Thai produced film Bangkok Dangerous (1999) that they wrote & also directed, I have to admit right now that I have not seen the original Bangkok Dangerous so I cannot compare the two at all so I was able to judge this remake on it's own merits without being clouded by opinions (whether they would be good or bad) of the original. Bangkok Dangerous feels like a routine mid budget US action thriller, the story about a hit-man who grow's a conscience & his subsequent fight against the bad guy's is standard fare & pretty bland to be honest. One big problem I had with Bangkok Dangerous was that the script introduces huge character changes at the drop of a hat with no explanation, why does Joe decide to train Kong to be an assassin? His so-called rules prevent this. Why does Joe fall for that pharmacist? Since she can't talk the slushy date scenes are rather one sided & quite awkward. Why change his mind about his last hit? Because Kong called the guy good? It's never revealed why the fat bad guy wants these people dead anyway, the character's are poor & the dialogue little better. To be fair huge leaps of logic in action films is not unheard of but any decent action film worth it's salt will cover the glaring script deficiencies up with some great action scenes that take your mind off the real life narrative, unfortunately that is not the case here as Bangkok Dangerous has a real lack of action & the one or two moments when it does threaten to break out it's unimaginative & bland in the extreme. At almost 100 minutes it drags in places, it has no soul & is pretty forgettable overall.

As I already mentioned the biggest disappointment here are the lacklustre action scenes, there's a couple of fights, a rather limp boat chase, one or two shoot-outs including the usual nonsense where the bad guy's can't hit a barn door yet Joe can take them out without even thinking about it. Boring. The action scenes are very flat, the stunt work is average & Bangkok Dangerous fails to excite or thrill. There's a bit of nudity but not much & the Bangkok locations are mostly wasted. There's the odd colourful street life scene but the majority of Bangkok Dangerous is pretty drab & lifeless.

The IMDb says that Bangkok Dangerous had a budget of about $40,000,000 which seems like a lot considering what ended up on screen, actually filmed in Bangkok in Thailand. The acting isn't great, Nicolas Cage can be great entertainment value but here he looks lost & has a really bad hair cut. In fact considering he is meant to be an invisible assassin he sure stands out while walking around Bangkok with his clothes & hair. I don't remember much about anyone else but some of the Thai girls in that strip club scene look very nice.

Bangkok Dangerous is an action thriller that doesn't really deliver on either count, the action is dull & the story is impossible to take seriously. I can't say watch the original instead as I've never seen it but surely it can't be much worse than this? Even Nicolas Cage appears off form here, difficult to recommend.

BreadCrumbs
(2011)

Forgettable slasher.
BreadCrumbs is set in the remote wooded wilderness & starts as the cast & crew of a porn film arrive at a log cabin, they plan to make a porn film there but straight away several members of the group are unhappy as the cabin is so remote there's no phone signal. For veteran porn starlet Angie Hart (Marianne Hagan) this will be her last production & will retire afterwards but the show must go on & as the cast & crew start filming each other having sex they slowly become aware of the presence of two children, brother & sister whom seem somewhat creepy yet harmless. Then that night as Dominick (Douglas Nyback) learns his lines outside he is attacked & hung on a huge hook to dangle, the other's inside find him & realise that there is a killer about. Angie is worried about the two children & manages to persuade the young girl to stay with her but it turns out that the two siblings are the killer's...

Edited, co-produced & written by Mike Nichols who also has a fairly big part in the film as porn producer & director Eddie this is a tired cross between your typical teen slasher fare & some lazy thriller, Breadcrumbs works as neither a straight horror or a thriller & ends up being nothing in particular. At just over 80 minutes long not that much actually happens, besides the totally unconnected to anything else opening sequence it's nearly the forty minute mark before the first attempted kill during which time very little happens to be honest. The build-up is reasonable with no logic or reason behind what the two siblings are doing but the film ends like that as well, I was expecting some sort of motive or explanation or even some sort of origin for the killer's but we get none that I could make any sense of. I was actually expecting some sort of twist ending but there isn't one, Breadcrumbs really does just finish leaving almost as many questions as when it started. The fairy tale references are here with a few mentions but it's all very half hearted & adds up to nothing, I don't really even understand the title Breadcrumbs either or what relevance it has to what happens. The character's are pretty stupid as you would expect in a slasher film as well, why does Angie suddenly care so much about the two children? Everyone else is telling her that they are the killer's yet she insists on defending them calling them 'just children' or 'she's just a little girl'? Maybe the script was trying to show how deep a woman's love for a child can be but on screen the way it's portrayed just comes off as total lunacy & makes zero sense in the context of what's going on.

Even with the build-up there's very little pay-off here, in facts there's none really. Considering that this is meant to be a horror film there's very little blood or gore here, there's a slit throat, a few people are shot with arrows & there's a bit of blood splatter but all the killing's are extremely tame almost like the makers were afraid to show any blood. Considering that the setting for Breadcrumbs is a porn film shoot there's no nudity or sex either which is surely a missed opportunity. The one positive aspect of Breadcrumbs is that it's very well shot in full 2:35:1 widescreen & is well made, there's no great suspense or scares but it looks nice enough & not like a lot of low budget shot on camcorder horror films floating around. The opening titles are animated & are quite cool but I would rather the makers saved the money & put it towards some decent gory special effects which would have been more appreciated.

Filmed on Long Island in New York the production values are surprisingly good but the script is still poor so despite the positives there's plenty of negatives. The acting is alright, nothing too bad I suppose but nothing great either.

Breadcrumbs is a pretty forgettable horror thriller that can't quite decide what it wants to be, it neither thrills or scares & leaves one feeling very unsatisfied. I thought it was well made but that's the best thing I can say about it.

Baby Blood
(1990)

Didn't like it at all.
Baby Blood is set in France & starts at a circus where a young woman named Yanka (Emmanuelle Escourrou) works as a performer, after taking delivery of a new animal earlier in the day the circus people find all the animals dead in their cages & set out to find what killed them. Meanwhile Yanka is in bed sleeping as an ancient creature slithers it's way into her caravan, onto her bed & crawls inside her taking the route between her legs to do so. It seems that this creature is millions of years old & just wants to be born, it also speaks perfect English. It is is able to communicate with mother to be Yanka & forces her to feed it, the only problem is that it needs fresh human blood so Yanka has to kill to satisfy it's appetite. As the creature grow's inside her the time for it to be born edges closer...

Also released under the title The Evil Within this French production was co-written & directed by Alain Robak & I personally thought it was terrible, Baby Blood has a pretty good reputation as an extreme French horror gore film but I thought it was terrible & just can't understand why it has any sort of following at all. The script is just plain baffling & surreal, nothing that happens has any real logic or sense behind it & the character's are awful cardboard cutouts with zero personality. Maybe it just wasn't conventional enough for me, maybe some want a totally surreal & bizarre film but I don't. I want a film with a story that makes at least some sort of sense, some character's who actually resemble human beings & I want to be entertained. Baby Blood lacked any of those core requirements for me, thus I thought it was terrible & couldn't wait until it was over. I sit through all of it, I did give it a chance but ultimately I just didn't like it. At 85 minutes long Baby Blood feels longer & feels like they were making it up as they were going along, there's no logic or narrative that I could make out & not even the gory bits saved this one.

Available in a cut & uncut version in both English dubbed & English subtitled version I watched the uncut version with the English dubbed soundtrack but I doubt it would have mattered which version I saw as I still wouldn't have liked it. I keep hearing about how gory this is but I didn't think it was particularly bloody, there's some blood splatter, a decapitated head & a few dead bodies but not too much else that I can remember. There's a bit of nudity as well if that's your thing. I can't say I thought the film was atmospheric or scary or suspenseful to be honest, I just thought it was rather plain & forgettable.

The acting isn't great & Emmanuelle Escourrou is an unusual choice for the lead with her gaping teeth, I can't say I was impressed by her. Apparently Gary Oldman voices the baby in the English version but maybe that's just a rumour.

Baby Blood is a film that I didn't like at all, maybe there is a market for such a pointless & surreal film as this but it's certainly not me, I couldn't in good heart recommend it at all to anyone.

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