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