XX (2017)

Director: Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama
Starring: A bunch of people.. Canada/USA. 1h 20m

Horror anthologies can be a lot of fun, what could be wrong with a collection of thrilling stories that aim to excite, shock and thrill? Usually there is little to connect the stories apart from a wrap around. But the delight in XX is that it’s a female themed horror anthology, made by women possibly for women..it’s aim is to show that girls can make horror that is just as good if not better than the boys, but instead we have a few short films which seem to revolve around some incredibly boring women and inconsistently moan about motherhood.

Horror is generally seen as a male orientated genre and this hit back was disappointedly weak. Each segment has its moments and there’s absolutely no problem with the direction and production, but if XX is trying to make some kind of statement then it failed to make it clear.

Beginning with some artistic flare from the work of Mexican stop-motion animation artist Sofia Carrillo, who makes the wrap around that consists of a small critter that travels around a run down house slowly putting pieces together to make a child, tits just another peg in the films woman role board, all the characters are mother, caretakers etc. Continue reading XX (2017)

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Solace  (2016)

Director: Afonso Poyart
Starring:Abbie Cornish,Jeffrey Dean Morgan,Colin Farrell, Anthony Hopkins,Marley Shelton, Kenny Johnson  USA. 1h 41m.

Solace appears to be one of the modern thrillers speeding in on the heels of the Se7en (1995) phenomenon, a group of mismatched detectives with the addition of an aged psychic are on the trail of a serial killer whose victims seem to have nothing obvious in common. Merriweather (Morgan) plays an fairly unconvincing and over friendly detective who has loosely tied together a handful of homicides together, along with his feisty sidekick Katherine Cowles (Cornis) who aims to build a psychological profile for this person but is struggling and thus causing an age of an old friend as psychic John Clancy played by the brilliant Anthony Hopkins who reluctantly aides them in their task. It’s a mish mash of mediocre thriller and cop drama cliches with some adaptive CGI from new director Afonso Poyart. Continue reading Solace  (2016)

バトル・ロワイアル (Batoru Rowaiaru) Battle Royale (2000)

Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Based on: Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Starring:Tatsuya Fujiwara, Takeshi Kitano, Aki Maeda, , Chiaki Juriyama. Japan. 1h 54m

Battle Royale is  Japan’s ultimate dystopian thriller,  which follows a group of junior high schoolers who are forced to fight to the death by the Japanese government. due to the ultra violent nature of the film and the age of most of the cast it was met with widespread repulsion and band in excluded from distribution in several countries.

Veteran director fukasaku,  at the tender age of 70, managed to put everything we had into this film.  and while it’s often not easy to watch, stark, angsty and the incredibly unnerving it still remains an influential genre masterpiece,  that takes place in a difficult near future, that we pray is an alternative universe to the one that we’re all comfortable with. Continue reading バトル・ロワイアル (Batoru Rowaiaru) Battle Royale (2000)

Life (2017)

Director: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya. USA. 1h 50m

 

The lack of originality in this horror sci fi is quite disturbing, not only the story pretty basic, but it could have lead to some riveting situations, but the set up is like a b movie horror, if there was a trail of blood leading to a room of screams the cast would trip over each other running into sudden death. But there is a blinding moment at the “oh fuck” ending which really hit a personal nerve with me otherwise the film would be a total disaster.

An unnamed interstellar mission uncovers a basic life form in some soil samples from Mars. The probe is recovered by the International Space Station and their 6 member crew manage to revive a cell sample, which quickly evolves into a multi celled organism which American school children name Calvin. I can only imagine it started out as a piece of space Slime Mold (Check out the docu film Creeping Garden for a ton of info)  An accident in the lab causes Calvin to become dormant, so Hugh Derry (Bakare) tries to shock Calvin back to life, this obviously pisses off Calvin who crushes his hands an in his hostile frame of alien mind then roughs up the doctor and starts smashing up the lab. At one point he breaks into a small cage and eat one of the lab rats,  and starts to grow larger. Despite initiating safety protocol, which means isolating the doctor and Calvin, the team still decide to enter the room in order to save the doctor, (DOH!), Calvin then see this is a free lunch. This is probably one of their more imaginative attacks, as he enters the scientist body and eats him from the inside out,  but upon reappearing he is larger, which is a pretty big indication to the fact that Calvin just consumes and grows. So after eating Ryan Reynolds our boy Calvin then decides to go on a murderous rampage  in and around the ship. Continue reading Life (2017)

Curse of Chucky (2013)

Director: Don Mancini
Starring: Brad Dourif, Fiona Dourif, Danielle Bisutti, Alex Vincent, A Martinez, Brennan Elliott, Summer H. Howell, Maitland McConnell, Jennifer Tilly . USA. 1h 33m

It’s hard to believe that this horror franchise is still going, but with this thrilling 6th installment there is a huge step made back to the traditional story with less of the comedy antics. The first direct to DVD movie sees Chucky arrive as a gift to the home of  the paraplegic Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) and her mother Sarah (Quesnei), later on Sarah is found dead from a stab wound and it’s ruled as suicide. Later Nica, is visited by her domineering older sister, her husband, daughter Alice and a nanny. Alice soon finds Chucky and begs to keep him, they agree, but after some googling Nica becomes aware of the history of a particular killer Good Guy doll but no one listens to her theories until Chucky is in full swing and picking off the family one by one. Buy why this family? Can Nica work out the history before Chucky comes knocking. Continue reading Curse of Chucky (2013)

Classic animation (on 4)  stop motion and WTF shorts Vol.1

After reading this title, I believe a  short Introduction is an well growing up in the 90s I was rudely introduced to stop motion and bizarre animated shorts through the Channel animation on 4. Obviously as a child and young teenager I’ve seen lots of animated films series and feature length films, but nothing could quite prepare me for the onslaught of dark mechanical don’t like creatures from the insipid creative minds of the Quay brothers Paul Berry’s and the claustrophobic social construct  of Phil Mulloy.

While it frightened and unnerved me it did also,  open my eyes to unlimited dreamscapes and nightmares!? I would sit up late at night transfixed to the mirage of movement and curious situations which eventually started to warp my art, thinking, and most facets of my life. I suppose it was truly influential, but it’s take me this long to get back into that niech groove  and present my all time favourite classic animations, mostly from Animation on 4, stop motion shorts and everything else that fits in between.

Continue reading Classic animation (on 4)  stop motion and WTF shorts Vol.1

Hardcore Henry (2015)

Director: Ilya Naishuller
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, Tim Roth, Russia/USA 1h 36m

It’s hard to know if we do actually need a first person shooter style movie considering the amount of computer games that are widely available on the market, but we definitely have one now,  after the success of both Crank (2006/2009) movies,  budding director Ilya Naishuller, took things one step further with his action packed Sci-Fi thriller Hardcore Henry which was promised to be a full of adrenaline rush for the whole 1 hour 36 minutes duration, and to be fair it achieve its’ goal but with a more detailed and complicated narrative than was expected. Continue reading Hardcore Henry (2015)

Sanjuro (1962)

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Book: Shūgorō Yamamoto novel Hibi Heian
Starring: Toshiro Mifune,Tatsuya Nakadai,Keiju Kobayashi,Yūzō Kayama. Japan. 1h 95m

After the raging success of  Yojimbo, Akira Kurosawa, adapted Hibi Heian,  to incorporate the lead character and developed Sanjuro. A sort of pseudo sequel,  while carrying on all of the comedy antics from Yojimbo, this film only has one classic full on Samurai scene and it’s very end,   but it’s generally entertaining throughout, if only a little off key from the original.

A group of young Samurai,  gather together the temple to discuss the Lord Chamberlain who they believe is corrupt,  one of them tells the superintendent and he agrees to intervene and meet the secretly at the Shrine to discuss the problem.  A Ronin (Mifune)  emerges from another room where he’s been resting,  overhearing the Summarise discussing their plan, he suggests that it’s the Chamberlain who is  corrupted, they feel insulted by his claims but soon find themselves surrounded by the superintendent men proving that in fact the Ronin was correct. He persuades the men to hide while he goes out at face the  superintendent Men full on, in this altercation he manages to save the young gullible Samurai, a manager’s to win rust on both sides. Continue reading Sanjuro (1962)

I Zombie (1998)

Director/Writer/Producer: Andrew Parkinson.
Starring. Giles Aspen, Ellen Softley. UK. 1h 18m.

For this debut feature film writer/director/producer Andrew Parkinson has come up with a personal and cruelly dark mockumentary detailing the demise of a single man from a zombie virus.

The mockumentary opens with a woman talking about the disappearance of her ex-boyfriend Mark in past tense, the restarts with mark coming home to Sarah who’s making the finishing touches to her event, which Mark regretfully has to skip to collect samples, the couple argue and the scene ends, Mark is then seen trekking through a wooded area, the botanist is searching for moss samples (slime mould I’d imagine) when he stumble on a decaying station wagon intrigued he follows another path and eventually finds an abandoned agricultural building . He enters and explores the rooms when he finds an injured man leaned up against the wall, hearing a female scream he rushes in to help, finding a decaying woman having a seizure on a rotten mattress he tries to pick her up to get her to safety but she bites his neck, he drops her and rushes into the forest. Continue reading I Zombie (1998)

The Ritual (2017)

Director: David Bruckner
Writers: Joe Barton and Adam Nevill’s The Ritual
Starring: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton. UK. 1h 34m

One of the perks with Netflix is that it gives you the opportunity to watch on the go, which I tried to do with Ritual, but after watching the opening scene I had to stop the film, get home, get comfortable and absorb this film as it instantly grabbed my attention.

It opens with a few guys, not really willing to admit they are getting older but needing to get out on an adventure,  or just the yearly lads holiday, Ibiza!? no they are getting to old, camping, that’s too boring.. so what? The discussion goes into the street and on the way home a couple stop to get some vodka, the night is young and it must be continued while picking up the booze in the offie, they become aware that the place is being robbed, Luke (Spall) hides behind a display while his best friend tries to talk the situation down, it doesn’t work they start attacking him, and he bleeds to death while staring at his cowardly friend… this is the first lesson of this movie but the location changes to the deep dark forests of Sweden and the stakes get higher. Continue reading The Ritual (2017)

Psychotronic Cinema