Saturday, 31 December 2016

Friday, 30 December 2016

Suicide Squad (2016)

The cons: For a film with such a paper-thin plot it sure was messy. The same could be said about the action sequences - messy. The new Joker was cheap, low-rent and more pimp than arch-villain. Surely they could have found a better character incentive than stealing the old "bomb in the neck" ploy from Escape From New York? The villain and villainess were weak, silly and underused. Far too long.

The pros: A killer soundtrack. Assorted anti-heroes spouting just the right amount of wise-assery (unlike Deadpool). Fun in the places where it didn't take itself too seriously.

Letterboxd Review

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Doll Boy (2010)

A great little low-budget, indie horror short that's worth 30 minutes of anybody's time. Ellie thought it was ok.

[I was watching a few Tormented Imp-style Christmas films with my 15 year-old daughter, Ellie]

Previous Review

Letterboxd Review

Evil Dead (2013)

Not bad at all and the MC5 t-shirt is a big plus. Oh, and Ellie liked it.

Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!

[I was watching a few Tormented Imp-style Christmas films with my 15 year-old daughter, Ellie]

Letterboxd Review

The Others (2001)

I was in need of a Christmas ghost story and this is a damned sight better than either "Strictly Come Dancing" or "Paul O'Grady: for the Love of Dogs at Christmas". A terrific homage to Henry James and with a great, spooky 5.1 sound design!

Letterboxd Review

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Satan’s Blood (1978)

Sex (a lot), cannibalism (not much) and black-candled, goat-worshipping flimflam (much more than normal) - just the way I like my Satanistic horror films. A few points:
  • Why is the non-black dog called Blackie?
  • How can they be following a car and then the same car approach them from behind?
  • The ouija shit went on far too long.
  • Stars an actress who looks very much like Jenny Agutter but gets her kit off even more.
  • Was that magick lard they were smearing on each other?
  • Who the hell was the bloke in the wooly hat?
  • Why do they want to eat all the time?
  • After the male satanist gets shot in the head, Jenny Agutter helpfully advises that "he needs a doctor"!
  • Just how many times will they try and leave the house of the devil?
  • What was with that doll?
A strange mix of bonkers and earnestness.

Note that the pretty crappy subtitles on the Screenbound blu-ray are often a little hard to read - small, white on white text is not good.

Letterboxd Review

The Shining (1980)

I don't know what's more scary: the sound design, isolation, score, time contraction, torrent of blood, twins, symmetry or Danny's machine-knit jumpers.

Letterboxd Review

Friday, 2 December 2016

Shaft (1971)

That intro with John Shaft just casually walking across a busy street and expecting cars to just stop for him, builds his character perfectly. No exposition or flashbacks needed; just a bloke walking across a road. Shaft is indeed a bad mother-fucker and he owns his city.

Great dialogue, terrific NYC locations, full of great fleshed-out characters, THAT score by Chef and The Bar-Kays, the final rescue, Richard "I'm a handsome fucker" Roundtree.

Cool as fuck.

The "Soul in Cinema: Filming 'Shaft' on Location" extra on my DVD was pretty damned fine as well and includes Isaac Hayes and The Bar-Kays recording the score.

Letterboxd Review

Monday, 28 November 2016

Dragonslayer (1981)

A lot of sorcery but very little sword. Great fun with very good production values for the genre and period - the animatronic/stop-motion dragon was excellent. Plus corrupt nobility, Christianity subverting paganism, gore, sideboobs and bottoms, and cute little baby dragons feasting on the flesh of a princess!

A most unDisney Disney film.

"Let it stand!"

Letterboxd Review

Friday, 25 November 2016

Man Vs. (2015)

So how would a TV survivalist who has a warm hotel at the end of his sat-phone do in a real-life emergency survival situation? I love my outdoors shit, so here's a breakdown of the woodcraft/survival techniques and cockups.

  • Equipment wise, as well as his clothes he has: a Tilley hat, camera, flashgun, can of energy drink, apple, Swiss Army Knife, a stick of chewing gum and of course the sat-phone.
  • Shelter building. It's hard to break green spruce limbs by hand - they're really springy! The lean-to shelter is reasonable but it's a little too tall which makes the open side quite large which will let out heat and let rain and cold in. One of these shelters needs to be just big enough to lie under and no more. There also needs to be a deep, insulating bed of pine branches to lie on, which I think he regrets a little later on.
  • Dealing with a large splinter. Cleaning the would.
  • Fire-lighting using the concave base of a drink can. He should have already sourced his fuel before starting the fire. There is also no fire reflector so a lot of its heat is going unused.
  • Shelter and fire built before night-time which is a good idea.
  • Using a sat-phone to ring your friends does not exactly replicate the isolation of being stranded.
  • Backed away from a wolf correctly. Did not run, did not act aggressively, did not turn his back but calmly and slowly backed away.
  • Wisely didn't eat the dead, floating fish. You should avoid eating a dead animal unless you know exactly what caused its death. I did take home and butcher a road-kill deer once, but it was by the side of the road with a broken neck, no other injuries and still warm. Risky? A little.
  • Animal tracking - rabbit shit can usually be found on mounds so they can scan the surroundings from the high ground.
  • The figure-4 deadfall trap was well built, primed and should work. Although you only see the single trap he does mention that he'd set others. This is really important. Set as many as possible. More traps equals a greater chance of success (two out of three successful traps would be a little unusual, though).
  • Gutted the rabbits away from camp. Good. I always gutted mine in the field and left the innards for the foxes. Skinning and butchering, I'd do at home. The gutting and skinning was done correctly (his knife skills were a little crude but all he had to use was a Swiss Army knife) although at one point he says you want to cut deep - no you don't, you could puncture the stomach and that's something you don't want. One thing he didn't show was that you need to squeeze the urine out as soon as you kill them. If left in it can taint the meat when you butcher it. It will still be edible but will taste a little off. If you do get piss on the rabbit try soaking it in water for a few hours - this also reduces the gamey flavour if that's not your thing.
  • Uses a spit to roast the rabbit. Normally you would lose useful fat using this technique but as rabbit has very little fat I'll let him off.
  • Saving and rationing food is a good idea.
  • Hanging food in a high branch away from camp is good. You'll want to keep bears and wolves away from where you sleep. The rabbit that he hangs hasn't been gutted as yet. Normally you would gut as soon as possible but, in this case, it's probably a good idea to leave the rabbit whole to help keep the wildlife away, as long as you're going to eat it within a day or so.
  • Although he uses a camera strap as cordage there are other sources available in the wild: hazel, willow, nettles, ivy.
  • Keeping your mind active is very important. Do not become lazy.
  • If you think you're going to be camped in the same place for a few days, improve your shelter!
  • Do not throw your main means of communicating with the outside world onto the hard ground.
  • Good, he reset his traps.
  • Moving away from the place where you told people you could be found is not a great idea.
  • Shelter mk2 is not bad but needs more spruce boughs on top and the side. Again, it needs insulation on the ground. I would be worried about rain run-off from the cliff-face though.
  • I'm not sure how he moved his fire as he left his drinks can at the other camp. This can be done but I would have liked to see him do it.
  • Not picking up his old drinks can and disassembled sat-phone was a bad move.
  • Do not panic, do not run. A simple injury can be life-threatening in the wild.
  • A signal fire shouldn't be lit inside a load of trees - the smoke needs to be seen and wind can blow the smoke horizontally rather than it rising vertically. There is a perfectly good shoreline which would have been better.
  • When wet he quickly gets out of his clothes, squeezes out as much water as possible and redresses. That'll do if fire-lighting can't be done.
  • Another panicked run.
  • Drinking from an unknown and possibly stagnant water source is a bad idea unless you really have no choice.
  • I told you a panicked run wasn't a good idea!
  • A makeshift bandage but ruins his warm base-layer in the process.
  • When climbing try to avoid grabbing roots and grass as they can easily and unexpectedly give way.
  • No matter how angry you are, do not smash your radio!
  • I'll let him off his panicked run this time.
  • I knew that flashgun would come in handy.
  • He wisely went around a rock face rather than try to climb it. It's all about minimising risk.
  • He grabbed the food and knife but forgot about Duncan's rifle.
The survival stuff was, overall, very good for a change and as for the film? It's Bear Grylls vs. Predator and pretty good fun. That man-sized deadfall scene was brilliant!

I've written a similar woodcraft/survival based review for The Edge if you're interested.

Letterboxd Review

Death Is Their Destiny (1978)

A short doc (made in the year I got into punk) with a fake "establishment" voiceover that focuses on the King's Road/Chelsea punks so expect a large fashion overload. I never really understood the whole bondage trousers and destroy shirt crap. Straight-leg jeans, bumper boots, t-shirt and plaid shirt did me fine.

Available for free on BFI Player.

Letterboxd Review

The Punk Kebab Documentary (1978)

An excellent and fun, short punk doc/fantasy with a really nice Jamie Reid style title sequence. Worth watching if only for seeing Shane MacGowan (The Nipple Erectors/The Nips) with a sheep on a lead outside Buckingham Palace. Live track by The Maniacs. Think Julien Temple crossed with Carry-On.

Available for free on BFI Player.

Letterboxd Review

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Green Room (2015)

As soon as the band opened to a crowd of boneheads with Nazi Punks Fuck Off (been in that situation) I knew this was going to be fun.


Letterboxd Review

Friday, 18 November 2016

Combat Shock (1986)

A fucking grim, Agent Orange infused, grade 'A' namsploitation PTSD meltdown with a mutant baby with a belly full of cats and reverb.

Frankie Teardrop

Letterboxd Review

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Phase IV (1974)

Aggression vs. intelligence vs. ants with the lovely Lynne Frederick. I, for one, welcome our formic acid spraying overlords!

Letterboxd Review

Friday, 11 November 2016

Unhinged (1982)

Short (1:16). Open-matte 4:3. Nice synth score. Perky shower scene. Atmospheric rain. Car crash. Mrs Penrose is American Gothic spooky. Some weird dialogue ("Next time...") that goes nowhere. Mother doesn't like to be kept waiting... wooo! A Northern version of The Glass Menagerie's Amanda Wingfield in a wheelchair. An awkward dinner. Piano and dominoes. Peeping Tom. A rogue tooth under the bed! Nocturnal orgasmic heavy-breathing. Onanistic double-perky shower scene. Why haven't we seen the third friend? Walking on your own through a wood when you're a supporting actress is a bad idea. Don't go in the shed! I told you not to walk through the woods! Back-story. What is it about the salt-cellar that's so freaky? Mother is reminding more and more of the Wicked Witch of the West as time passes. Piano but no dominoes. Peeping tom again! More rain and thunder and heavy breathing. Our heroine investigates. A gun, a knife and some toys. Tom makes his bug-eyed appearance. More back-story. Missing girls? The third friend makes her re-appearance. More heavy breathing. The third friend leaves us. Searching in a thunderstorm. Don't go in the shed! Eew, body parts and jars of eyeballs! Running and screaming. The gun. What the fuck? No, this is a knife! Raining blood.

I know it won't be everyone's cup of tea and not a great deal happens until the end but I really liked this film's feeling of Northern Gothic decay and its crazy ending.

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Friday, 4 November 2016

Night School (1981)

From the director that brought us Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Casino Royale and the terrible Mae West vehicle Sextette (which featured Alice Cooper).

A well-made thriller that rides the fine line between giallo and slasher. Although there are some tasty red herrings laid down, the identity of the killer is pretty obvious after the first 15 minutes.

Loved the "Is it? Isn't it?" beef stew scene :)

As usual, Rachel Ward's performance stinks to high heaven.

One thing I didn't really get was why the killer used a Nepalese Kukri when none of the clues point in that direction?

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Return of the Blind Dead (1973)

The grubby, crusty, devil worshipping zombie-mummy-vampire-skeleton-Templars on fucking HORSES are back but this time aided by a doom-saying Igor (played by a post-stroke and monobrowed Al Pacino) who wakes them from their evil slumber.

Is the sequel as scuzzy and atmospheric as the original? Generally speaking, yes. There are some great gruey effects with lashings of Humbrol red Euro-blood. It's simpler, faster-paced, more bloody and with a larger cast than the original. I even liked the sub-Carry On comedic scenes with the Commissioner and the miming maid. Unfortunately, some of the creeping atmosphere of the first film is lost amid the town location and the large cast, although that shot, near the end of the film, of the Templars standing still outside the church at dawn is fantastic. Lastly, what is it with zombie horses that cause a weird time-dilation whenever they're ridden?

As well as Igor, the cast includes, an eyebrowless (I think Igor got her share) woman whom everyone seems to have fallen head-over-heels in love with; a real bastard of a mayor; a rapist henchman; and a sexist ex-army firework technician.

You know what I'd love to see? The Blind Dead Versus The Flashing Blade!

This review was for the longer Spanish cut.

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Monday, 31 October 2016

Don’t Look in the Basement (1973)

Rough and raw but somehow, in the same way that watching the swirly centre of an old Vertigo Black Sabbath record is oddly compulsive, you can't stop watching!

In some way, the film is sort of accurate in the way it weirdly tracks the shift from invasive surgery to the more modern style of "talking" therapies - no matter now ineffective (or in this case insane) they may be. In fact, just like in The Ninth Configuration, the lines are blurred between the inmates and the doctors.

Watch as a double-bill with The Cramps at Napa State Mental Hospital or the aforementioned Ninth Configuration.

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Sennentuntschi (2010)

A Swiss, neo-giallo fairytale? Sennentuntschi reminded me a great deal of Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling with its themes of religion, superstition and mob-rule but adds misogyny to the mix.

The flashback within a flashback structure is handled extremely well and keeps you guessing whether the Sennentuntschi is supernatural or mundane right up until the end.

Pretty chilling stuff if a little overlong.

Letterbox Review

As Above, So Below (2014)

AKA How to bring down a wall that has stood for hundreds of years with a toffee hammer and a toothpick.

Come spend an hour and a half in the Parisien catacombs with some extremely noisy and unlikeable twats in this sub-Dan Brown (yes some things are even worse than Dan Brown) shit-fest. So crappy that I was easily distracted by Ed Balls on 'Strictly Come Dancing' and the 'Antiques Roadshow' (and I really hate 'The Antiques Roadshow') on the main TV.

The film picks up a little during the last 30 minutes once it gets past most of the alchemical and Dantean flim-flam and descends into some cheap jump-scares and a foghorn soundtrack. So, a lot of pain for very little payoff.

One thing that amazed me is how easily Aramaic can be translated, on-the-fly, into English rhyming couplets.

Not good.

Letterboxd Review

Bad Dreams (1988)

A Nancy Reagan "Just Say No" Electric Kool-Aid Acid Death Trip.

A bunch of hippies kill themselves and Richard (has he ever played a goody?) Lynch haunts the dreams of the Gelfling survivor who, post-13-year-coma, is rather inexplicably locked up in a mental ward with various corpses-to-be. The lunatics have indeed taken over the asylum!

Pretty average but +1 for having The Electric Prunes on the soundtrack and one of the most incompetent policemen ever to appear outside of Italian cinema.

"If you want to fit into the 80s, you're two divorces, a condo and a yeast infection behind the times."

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Friday, 28 October 2016

Pieces of Talent (2012)

An extremely well-made, low-budget, indie, horror film that brings new meaning to the phrase "dying for your art". A horrific and literal deconstruction of the mainstream film industry. Beautifully, fucking brutal!

"Shoot some artsy shit!"

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Enfield Haunting (2015)

Mark C was right. This is so much better than The Conjuring 2. Better detail, better accents, better cinematography, better performances, better characterisation, better dialogue, better scares, better tension. Just so much better!

One thing though, Trim phones don't make that noise.

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Viva (2007)

Belle de Jour crossed with Confessions of a Window Cleaner. Amazing set dressing and fake product placement.

Letterboxd Review

Friday, 21 October 2016

7th Day (2013)

The diary of a serial killer in his quest to find somebody to love.

In tone, 7th Day sits between Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and American Psycho with touches of the blackest humour to balance its mundane brutality.

Mark S. Sanders is terrific as the killer; a man out of step with the world slowly being destroyed by psychosis, rooted in childhood trauma with skill and empathy. The killer's imaginary, mute witness/reporter is a nice touch and he looks creepy as fuck.

The gore by Aftermath FX is up there with August Underground and is practical, bloody and intense.

A low-budget indie flick that's well shot with a great central performance and a killer soundtrack. It may be a bit much for your average Dexter fan though.

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Friday, 14 October 2016

Satan’s Little Helper (2004)

A budding, Satan-obsessed psychopath gets some work experience as the apprentice for a panty-sniffing, wine connoisseur of a serial killer who uses the cover of Halloween to hide his nefarious doings.

There are so many highlights:
  • Amanda Plummer and her weird, brittle voice. She pulls off the not inconsiderable task of being kooky without being irritating.
  • Satan using a cat as a marker pen.
  • Katheryn Winnick playing the hero in a skimpy "renaissance" dress.
  • The silent Satan's hand-signs.
  • Katheryn Winnick's terrible but adorable fake English accent.
  • Satan's shoplifting spree.
  • The disemboweling of Daddy.
  • A sellotaped Carmen Miranda.
  • Jesus!
All this plus a subtle subtext of theological versus mundane evil and Hume's logical argument for the non-existence of god:

"Is he [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?" -- David Hume (quoting Epicurus), Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part X, 63

Horror-Comedy is a notoriously tough genre to pull off but Satan's Little Helper does it beautifully. I can see this becoming a staple of Halloween viewing in years to come. Goofy, blood-splattered fun for all the family!

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1982)

A decent horror-thriller about small-town secrets and obsession.

Susan Tyrrell steals the show as smothering serial-nutter Aunt Cheryl and manages to out-crazy Sleepaway Camp's Aunt Martha. Bo Svenson and Bill Paxton are also worth a mention, playing a couple of really nasty fuckers. Watch out for the post through a car windscreen at the beginning, it's a beauty!

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Friday, 7 October 2016

Black Belly of the Tarantula (1971)

While not as deliriously twisted as your usual giallo, Black Belly of the Tarantula has a convoluted plot filled with blackmail, adultery, drugs and a killer ending.

Giancarlo Giannini is excellent as disillusioned police inspector Tellini and the film features enough police procedure to allow it to be classed as a poliziotteschi/giallo hybrid.

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Daughters of Darkness (1971)

Delphine Seyrig vamps it up as a black and scarlet Marlene in this updating of the Bathory/Carmilla tale with some class, gender and sexual politics thrown into the mix.

This film could so easily have been set in 1920's Weimar Germany and been called a Cabaret of Vampires. The colours! The score! Beautiful, sexy, decadent and nasty. Control and submission.

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Black Cat (1981)

Lucio Fulci does Midsomer Murders.

Bad things about cats
  • They shit in your garden.
  • They climb your curtains and your wife's legs.
  • They steal your elderly neighbour's roast beef.
  • Trying to get two of them in a box to take to the vet is a Gordian knot sized problem.
  • Until you check, you can never be entirely sure if the little fuckers are alive or dead.
  • They are the harbingers of death and leave misery in their wake.
Good things about cats
  • They are not wasps.
Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Funhouse (1981)

Why is it that the things that are supposed to fill us with joy have this weird filmic flipside of death and horror? Carnivals, clowns, ventriloquist dummies, holidays, magicians, sex, drugs, James Corden; they may all sound fun but trust me kids, they're not!

I'd love to see a British take on a funfair horror film with aging, greasy-quiffed Teds, fags dangling from their lower lips taking on tramp-stamped and Hilfiger-clad staffie walkers with crooked air-rifles and hook-a-duck poles while a distorted and stretched 30-year-old 'Now That's What I Call Music' tape plays over the PA. Starring David Essex, Alvin Stardust and Phil Daniels. Ringo Starr would die first.

10 out of 10 for the carnies, production design and puppets but the rest is pretty average and the monster is a bit shit.

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

The Brides of Dracula (1960)

Brides of Dracula has no Christopher Lee but instead stars David Peel as blonde, Drac-a-like, Baron Meinster. But at least Peter Cushing's here and Cushing does what Cushing does best - the bounciest and most athletic Van Helsing we all know and love.

Jack Asher as DP shoots like Bava and the film is vivid and full of purples and reds and yellows. The sets are wonderful and how they managed to create those European villages mansions and castles in a small country house in Berkshire, I'll never know. The dressers, sculpters and technicians all deserve medals. A beautiful film.

There are so many memorable performances apart from the aforementioned Cushing. Peel is excellent as Drac... ahem, Meinster and starts as boyish and charming but swiftly turns cruel and quietly commanding. Yvonne Monlaur is very, very French and vulnerable as his Bride to be. Andree Melly as Gina, another bride, is beautiful in a wide-eyed Barbara Steele way. Normally I dislike comic-relief in horror films but Miles Malleson as Dr. Tobler was pretty funny and didn't irritate me all all. I kept expecting Martita Hunt's Baroness Meinster to exclaim "A handbag!". But, out of all these great performances the one that will stick in your memory is Freda Jackson as Greta/Frau Blücher; insane, cackling and hilarious.

Hammer managed to cram a huge amount of vampire mythology into this film that would pave the way for further excursions into Transylvania and I love the way they were so creative with their vampire deaths. Nowadays Brides of Dracula would be considered quite tame (how times change - the original X certificate has been reduced to a 12) but it still has plenty of gothic chills - the scene where a newly created bride claws her way out of her grave is great. There are occasional scenes of gore though including some very good holy water burns. And what a score!

If there is a fault, it has to be the decision to have a blonde vampire. Blonde... really? I'll have no truck with blonde vampires!

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Frankenstein (1931)

Isn't it is a little ironic that the creature created by the modern Prometheus is afraid of fire? And that laboratory would never pass a Health & Safety audit!

Sure, it's the Reader's Digest edit of Shelley's tale but this 85-year-old mixture of German expressionism and American shock is still effective and deserves to be seen by everyone if only to see Boris Karloff's terrific performance as the monstrous and pathetic creature. Then there's the hanky-pulling ending - there's nothing like a baying mob to send chills down your spine!

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

The Raid (2011)

Friday, 23 September 2016

Madhouse (1981)

Two twins. Julia, a beautiful saint who works with deaf kids, and Mary, a deformed psychopathic killer, reunite after many years apart! But wait... there's a twist!

A slow but well-crafted Giallo-tinged slasher that can be quite unnerving at times and has a great finale - yes, I even liked the dog hand-puppet! There's a decent amount of blood with a face smashing, some dog kills, stabbings and a nice hatchet job.

Not bad at all.

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Abby (1974)

A Bishop/archaeologist visiting Nigeria unleashes an ancient African god of sexuality which takes up residence in his pious daughter-in-law Abby, who then proceeds to puke on and molest her family, friends and random disco-dancing motherfuckers.

Abby is frequently hilarious and not, in any way, shocking (unless you find occasional bad language shocking) or horrific (unless you find wind fans and a subliminal Green Goblin horrific) with a groovy soundtrack and a messed up anti-sexual liberation subtext. I was expecting a cheap, crappy Exorcist clone but it's a lot better than that.

So kids, dig out those purity rings and go watch Abby but no snuggling in the back-row, you hear!

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Monday, 19 September 2016

Deadbeat at Dawn (1988)

With Deadbeat at Dawn, One-man-army (writer, director, actor, editor, makeup, stuntman) Jim VanBebber created one of the finest ultra-low budget films ever made.

A brutal, crank-fuelled, nihilistic, nightmare of an action film. Even better than you think it's going to be.

Just remember kids, crime does not pay!

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Burial Ground (1981)

Burning zombies, awful dubbing, Michael, scantily dressed ladies, terrible dialogue, Michael, maggots, icky body fluids, zombies with tools, rampant canoodling, intestine munching, Michael, a completely nonsensical plot, incest, Michael, decapitation, climbing zombies, inappropriate breastfeeding, zombie monks, Michael.

As wonderful and skanky as the rubber-masked and latex encrusted zombies are, they pale into insignificance once you've met Michael! A man-child so weird and spooky that the term 'uncanny valley' just doesn't do him justice. He's at the bottom of an uncanny crevasse, deeper and darker than the Mariana Trench!

At the 30 minute mark, you're thinking "how the fuck can they keep up this pace for another hour?" but it just keeps on giving! Could this be the perfect Italian zombie film?

I'm left with a migraine-inducing amount of questions but...

1) What the fuck was a bear-trap doing in the garden?
2) Why is green paint so flammable?

Fucking bonkers!

"You're getting a raise from me all right, but it has nothing to do with money."

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Nosferatu (1922)

Nearly one hundred years old and Max Schreck's Count Orlok is still the scariest of all screen vampires, with Barlow from Salem's Lot (who seems to be based on Orlok) coming a close second. Not just a great of silent cinema but a great film full stop and a corker of a Dracula adaptation.

As much as I loved the colour tints on this Masters of Cinema Blu-Ray which do a great deal to smooth out the time-worn rough edges of the print, I think I may have to get the BFI Blu-Ray as well as they go with a raw and mostly B&W restoration which seems to give the film a slightly more sinister quality.

"Listen to them, the hyenas of the night. What music they make!" doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it?

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Saturday, 17 September 2016

The Reflecting Skin (1990)

A prairie fairytale full of biblical symbolism (Cain/Cameron, Abel/Aben, Seth and there's more than a touch of Lilith to Lindsay Duncan's Dolphin Blue) and stunning imagery, told through the warped eyes of a child. The film reminded me a lot of the strange, almost-real world narrated in Tom Wait's Kentucky Avenue.

The Reflecting Skin has more than a touch of David Lynch and Terrence Malick and is stylised, off-kilter, strange, horrifying, funny and touching with a beautiful Samuel Barber-like score. A child's tale of abuse, neglect, loss, religion and sexuality.

EDIT: I've been thinking about the score and I think there's a lot of Gallipoli in it as well.

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Friday, 16 September 2016

Whistle and I’ll Come to You (2010)

James Parkin, having recently placed his wife into a nursing home, decides to head to one of their old haunts to try and recapture some sense of their past together.

This loose but interesting adaptation of the M.R. James short story is about loss. Loss of the wife he knew, loss of mental faculty, loss of time and place, loss of what was.

The small cast consisting of John Hurt, Gemma Jones, Lesley Sharp and Sophie Thompson are, as expected, terrific. There's a bit too much over-reliance on spooky objects for my liking and the ending is pretty obvious but this adaptation is very good nonetheless.

I have one whinge. Why doesn't the title sequence mention M.R. James? Is says "Written by Neil Cross" but there's no "Adapted from", "Based on" or anything! The only mention is in the credits, which, as far as I'm concerned, is not enough.

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Number 13 (2006)

How the opening of a hidden letter can seal a man's fate. A tale of curses, witchcraft and a missing room.

Whereas in previous adaptations, James's heroes/victims tend to be, with a few exceptions, fairly likeable academics caught up in their own little world, this time we have Greg Wise as Professor Anderson, an egotistical and supercilious historian. An easy man to dislike and to help us there's lawyer and bon vivant Edward Jenkins (played by Tom Burke), acting as a foil and irritating Anderson with his every act. David Burke makes a welcome return as the hotel landlord after his appearance in the previous A View From a Hill.

More heavy-handed (the sound design isn't exactly subtle and the feel of the film is reminiscent of The Haunting) than A View From a Hill but this works in the film's favour, slowly building the tension until the quite physical conclusion and the cracking of an Oxford don's empiricism. Good stuff!

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

A View from a Hill (2005)

Onwards to the newer, revival Ghost Stories for Christmas and backwards to M.R. James.

Museum curator, Dr. Fanshawe, borrows a pair of binoculars seem to show scenes from the past and thus starts a tale of the dissolution of the monasteries (nicely linked to the decline of the aristocracy in the early 20th century), obsession, hangings and rural horror.

Casualty's Mark Letheren puts on a good show as the uncomfortable fish-out-of-water Fanshawe. Pip Torrens as the local squire reminded me a bit of Hugh Laurie's characters from his days in Fry & Laurie and as Bertie Wooster. David Burke deserves a special mention as the stoic butler, Patten who provides the much-needed clues that bring past deeds to light.

There's some nice photography that captures the feel of the countryside in late winter (the Gorse is flowering) and the claustrophobic terror that a night in the woods can bring. For a change, we get good production values and some great props. It's also nice to see that they seem to get James's occasional and subtle humour.

While not particularly grisly, A View From A Hill is a fine James adaptation and a worthy start to the short Christmas Ghost Story revival.

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Ice House (1978)

Another M.R. James'less story.

A country spa where the rich go to get away from it all and never want to leave.
More of a Tale of the Unexpected with touches of The Prisoner's surrealism than a Christmas Ghost Story.

The precise and formal dialogue works very well and gives the film an otherworldliness and constant sense of unease. In fact, pretty much every shiver the film delivers is conveyed by the dialogue and the way that it is spoken. Very clever.

The Icehouse is a very strange and creepy little film.

Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind

Letterboxd Review