clenchedbrain

IMDb member since January 2005
    Lifetime Total
    5+
    IMDb Member
    16 years

Reviews

K2
(1991)

Avoid if you know anything about mountaineering
I can't believe the amount of reviewers who praise this as realistic. I'm a million miles from being an expert, and I'm never going to climb a mountain; but even the very basic knowledge attained from reading Into Thin Air, and watching Everest Beyond The Limit and a few other Everest docs meant that this film just got more and more ridiculous as it went on. There is some good climbing footage at the start; and when the billionaire mission leader asks early in the film "How much experience above 8000 metres do you have?", I was encouraged to hope that this might be a gritty and accurate man-vs-nature odyssey. Instead you have a bunch of climbers zooming up a mountain with no acclimatisation; climbing with goggles off in full sun, and they are barely ever out of breath performing miraculous feats of endurance. Only near the summit is a little fatigue suggested, to dramatically accentuate the physical feat of climbing such a monstrous peak, almost as an afterthought. If you have no knowledge of mountaineering, give it a look: be prepared for some clichéd heroics (although no more clichéd than a hundred other passably diverting flicks), and a clichéd outcome. I've been developing a minor fascination with high mountains and was looking forward to watching K2; but other than some amazingly beautiful scenery, it was a let down because it was so far removed from reality. I can imagine some experts being employed in the making of this movie, but then being conveniently ignored in the pursuit of the heroic, and sadly fantastical storyline. Also, you would sound like a bit of a tit if you said "welcome to the death zone" at 200000 feet.

Slavnosti snezenek
(1984)

Wonderful bucolic vision
As there has only been one comment: a rather excellent and evocative one by (I'm presuming) a non-native English speaker, I thought I'd add another. This is possibly the kind of film that is unlikely to provoke heated debate or rabid hatred, although I can easily imagine it being dearly loved by many Czechs. I'm not sure if it is possible for a film to be more countrified - from the amazing misty woods surrounding the characters, to the hermit sharing a cocktail in a bowl with one of his goats, this is surely as pure a vision of country life as has ever been committed to celluloid. In fact, the only real plot involves which of two neighbouring villages has the rights to feast on the meat of a wild boar, which is shot in the communal school classroom after a somewhat wacky hunt. That the children seem completely untroubled by this only highlights the rusticity of the whole affair; and most of the adult males appear to be hunters. The villages agree to have a joint feast, but petty squabbling continues throughout: yet no serious violence occurs, or even threatens to. In the end everyone seems united by their shared character and way of life (and possibly some serious drinking). If you require strong, driving plot; and clearly delineated characters, then this may not be the film for you. This is mostly a sequence of set pieces, often slightly surreal and even whimsical. But it is very charming, and quite beautiful. There are some good laughs throughout, too. My favourite gag is when the bargain hunter fellow breaks out his super-8 camera to film the revellers: whoever he points it at stops and poses as if it were a stills camera. This is a lovely film, imbued with the directors genuine affection for the characters he is portraying, and his obvious love for the gorgeous woodland setting.

Ling wan sin sang
(1987)

Excellent sequel
I'm surprised by the relative obscurity of this film, as it easily matches the first of the series for pure entertainment value. There doesn't even seem to be a Hong Kong DVD of this title at the time of writing. Since there were more sequels to come in this franchise, it seems safe to guess that it wasn't a box office flop, so the lack of DVD is strange. Maybe they are going to treat us to a box set. The film is the usual combination of martial arts, horror, fantasy, sorcery and slapstick. Lam Ching-Ying is awesome, yet again. He pulls off the serious elements with conviction, even with stupid fake eyebrows plastered on his forehead; and he does the slapstick with a great deadpan expression. A shame his fighting skills are under used, but there are a few really sweet moves by him in this flick. I would say that the horror and violence are definitely stronger in this one, which is cool by me. The plot is decent; the cast pretty good; action is almost relentless, and the effects have that unique charm that CGI could never match. The comedy is the usual hit and miss affair, although a lot of it is genuinely funny, and well choreographed. You wouldn't be watching a Hong Kong horror vampire kung fu flick if you didn't put your face in your palm a couple of times at the cheesy gags. I don't have much in depth to say about this one, it just seems that critical comment is thin on the ground, so I thought I'd add my voice. Highly recommended; and if you like films of this type: essential. Bring on the DVD.

Yan gui fa kuang
(1984)

Wtf cubed
Only 15 votes? People need to get themselves a mutli region player and buy this bonkers gem from Yesasia or another region 3 retailer. Potential buyers should not be put off by the crappy sound, average picture, and rubbish subtitles. Did I mention the shoddy direction, acting and script? None of this matters. This begins in the usual plodding fashion. I have seen quite a few Far-Eastern horrors now, but I still can't get used to the seemingly de rigeur dull first half. Clumsy exposition, shallow characters and soap opera style drama make me check how much time has elapsed on the DVD player every time I watch one of these shlockers. Usually, you are repaid in the second half. This time, you get 1000% interest. The film descends into random lunacy; there is the typical exorcism, but this time it's by a hi-tech Hare Krishna, who has a purpose built exorcism chamber handily designed to be carried around on an articulated truck. Why? Who paid for it? Who designed it? Aren't Krishnas peaceful? That's after an initial exorcism attempt by a part time policeman, that has the usual pratfalls, bungling, screaming, and some bowl-of-dog's-blood juggling that would make the Brazilian football team proud. There is a hairy-titted werewolf woman, whose encounter with a jive faux-voodoo African undermines the cheap (and super-dated) stereotyping, by making it utterly ridiculous and hilarious at once. There is the usual crazy synth-based sound effects, backwards flowing gloopy green blood, multi-transforming possession-victim, flying possessed children, mystic exhumations etc. Also, a dismembered arm that unfortunately still has a gun in it's hand is a particular highlight. I can't be bothered to work out where this film stands chronologically in the timeline of the classic western horror canon, but it fits right in somewhere near Evil Dead 2 (although I was also reminded of Poltergeist for some reason) The difference is that there is very little tongue in cheek here. Also, there is very little coherence, reality or sanity. Another reviewer has commented on the lack of a hardcore horror element. That is certainly true - this is no gorefest. I think its minor legendary status stems almost entirely from its lunacy, its hilarity, and its totally unhinged unpredictability. Marvellous.

Tokugawa onna keibatsu-emaki: Ushi-zaki no kei
(1976)

Nasty, weird, yet watchable
I found this to be more entertaining than I expected, which is probably due to the unexpectedly high production values. Very strange that an extreme film like this should have a decent budget. I should add that the first sequence is superior, since it is far more dramatically effective. The second segment is almost played for laughs, at times, which would almost seem unbelievable if you were unfamiliar with the extreme end of Japanese cinema. There is no end of gurning and pratfalling from the main protagonist (and others) in the latter part, as well as a few relatively comedic incidents - one involving a pit of human waste. You would almost expect this to be intended as light relief, to send the punters home somewhat less disturbed after the unremittingly bleak first story, and that is how this tale begins. The main man is punished for being unable to pay for his night of debauchery by being lightly humiliated and forced to work in the brothel. The previously mentioned dog-licking is up next, lulling the unprepared viewer into a false sense of security, as an extremely horrible abortion follows, involving a double whammy of stamping and kicking to the gut, followed by the archetypal old-crone-abortionist going in up to the elbow. This latter is accompanied by what sounds like the electronic equivalent of a swanee whistle on the soundtrack, but I don't think the similarity was intentional. Later on, this prostitute dies slowly, as a result, in a brilliantly effective sequence. She really does look pale and deathly, and the barbaric treatment and it's outcome are portrayed unflinchingly. This early death denies our cruel buddies some torture fun. This is not the case at all in the first half. The baddie of the piece is a nasty magistrate, played with OTT eye-bulging lunacy that veers wonderfully close to the edge of over acting. He gets to do all sorts of unspeakable acts to a succession of hapless christians, and the effect is bleak and cruel throughout. It is also quite tragic; well acted; and well filmed. Kudos also, to the soundtrack composer - there is some decent stuff on here, from the moog-out over the opening credits, to some very nice, more traditional soundtrack material later on. Not as gory as I expected, this is still fairly gruesome. The curious shouldn't be put off by the idea that there is unrelenting blood and guts churning away: it's the nastiness and cruelty that make this film exceptional, not the red stuff.

Maya
(1989)

Totally watchable obscurity
I concur with the other posters who enjoyed this film. It probably helps if you are a general fan of horror films from all eras, as this is pure 80s. It has none of the superficial and formulaic surface noise that constitutes the cinematic vernacular of the modern 'horror' blockbuster. No back-lit trees; dry ice; or glossy, glamorous young leads screaming their pretty heads off. Instead, you get a fairly gritty and atmospheric offering based on a relatively original premise. Yes, there is the classic 80s/horror staple of the obnoxious pair of punks who are just begging to be killed off. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a bigger dick, more deserving of supernatural death, than the leader of this punk duo. He is hilarious, and probably the weakest part of the film; although 80s afficionados can certainly enjoy his character for what it is. Also, there is suspect dubbing and acting, but that's just par for the course. I was never bored during this film, and I think a main factor in this is that there are many characters involved in the plot, and the director has done a very economical job of providing just enough involvement and back-story for each to move the film along nicely, yet still involve them in the narrative. Not hugely gory, but there are some good set pieces; and some foxy (in my book) women half naked. This is never a bad thing. Overall, a decent flick - I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. If you are a genre fan, and especially like 80s horror, then seek this out.

Wu gong zhou
(1982)

What is going on here!?
There are at least 3 different films being reviewed here! Some guy is reviewing 'Begotten', a majority of people are reviewing The Most Disturbing Film In The Universe (which I thought I was downloading after scanning a couple of the reviews), and a sanity-restoring few are reviewing the flick I just saw. A nice 80s Hong Kong black magic romp, with some gross out live centipede barfing at the end nicely rounding things off. It may not have been the disturbing nightmare I was anticipating, but this altogether different prospect was highly enjoyable, I thought, if pretty standard fare. Also of note, there is a great bit of moody 80s synthesizer work in here, which sounds awfully familiar to something from El-p's 'Fantastic Damage' album! OK, after some more digging, I think some people are reviewing Takashi Miike's segment of Masters Of Horror, called 'Imprint'. Others are reviewing 'Cutting Moments'. However, there is still one that is eluding me, which appears to be a HK 80s horror: wizards, decapitation, transformation etc. What the hell is this film?

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