Category Archives: Fantasy

Ankoku Shinwa / Dark Myth (1990)

Director : Takashi Anno, Tomomi Mochizuki
Writer: Daijiro Morohoshi
Starring : Nozomu Sasaki, Alan Marriott, Mizuho Suzuki. Japan. 1h 40m

When I first started getting in Anime Akira (1988) probably kicked things off for me, and I dug deep in powerful fast pace cyber and horror films. But one film really stood out on a few trailers. Its pale colours, still images and traditional soundtrack make it stand apart from the rest of the 90’s Manga collection.

Having a deep love of folklore and being totally mystified by the demonic creatures in the advert I was sure to get a copy ASAP and i fell in love with animated films all over again, but for very different reasons than before. Continue reading Ankoku Shinwa / Dark Myth (1990)

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Mandy (2018)

Director: Panos Cosmatos
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy Olwen Fouere, Richard Brake, Bill Duke. USA. 2h 1m

Cosmastos seems obsessed with 1983, where his previous movie was also set, is there a parallel here? Same year with possible answers to Professor Arboria’s mystic drug… but nothing is laid out in a straightforward way, he keeps the viewer guessing about what is real and what might just be fantasy, eventually your not sure what you believe in anymore, questions are raised especially about the drugs involved and at times this film really pushes the envelope. Continue reading Mandy (2018)

November (2007)

Director: Rainer Sarnet
Based on Rehepapp ehk  by Andrus Kivirähk
Starring: Rea Lest, Jörgen Liik, Arvo Kukumägi, Katariina Unt, Taavi Eelmaa, Dieter Laser, Jette Loona Hermanis. Estonia. 1h 55m

I’d like to think that I don’t award too many 10/10’s although I am always searching for perfect films and I believe I have just found another one, possibly the one. There’s so much to fall in love with in Sarnet’s November, based on a deeply chrasamisc novel Rehepapp by Andrus Kivirähk who’s possibly one of the most influential folk writers since Estonia’s classical epic Kalevipoeg and is just as extraordinary.

The film starts out curiously, a cow skull mounted on farming tools is captured rolling and creaking across the landscape using a chain it steals a cow, by grabbing the beast and flying into the air like a folklore chopper, the mechanism lands with the cow, on a farm miles away across the forest, the owner coming out to retrieve the animal and kicks the machine away, but it talks to him, asking for more work so he gives it an impossible task and it explodes. This “thing” is a Kratt and you’ll see a lot of these throughout the movie, and you can see the Kratts screen test here (https://vimeo.com/66493993)  

The villagers find it hard to survive throughout the dark Estonian winters and often end up stealing from each other and the German nobility who are taking over their lands. In order to make a Kratt the villagers first have to go into the forest and make a pact with the devil written in blood in His book. Continue reading November (2007)

A Field in England (2013)

Director: Ben Wheatley Writer:Amy Jump

Starring: Julian Barratt, Michael Smiley, Reece Shearsmith, Ryan Pope and Richard Glover. UK. 1h 30m

A Field In England came out at a time when I was only just discovering how amazing Ben Wheatley is,  after Sightseers (2012), Down Terrace (2009) and Kill List (2011) it was easy to see that he was quite a phenomenal director in his own write,  and I especially admired his edition of the Dark Arts in kill List which seem to appear in a lot of his titles,  and for quaint little twists that bound each kill victim together, maybe one day if he was related to another Wheatley  who had mystified his audiences with the dark hearts back in the 70s??!!

But now he’s taking  an historical turn with this unique black and white drama, Instead of speaking about the black hearts he’s going back to the original source,  a group of men wandering around the English countryside during the civil war, after walking away from a battle; an act that they could easily have been hung for,  they managed to hook up with a devout and cruel necromancer and fall under his dark spells, O’Neill (Smiley)  terrorises the rest of the men and provokes them into helping him find a stash of treasure,  while under the influence of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Continue reading A Field in England (2013)

Annihilation (2018)

Director: Alex Garland.
Based on: Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer
Starring. Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac. USA. 1h 57m.

This newest visionary delight from Alex Garland, doesn’t fit into the typical science fiction category, with other Netflix releases like Bright (2017) and Cloverfield Paradox (2018), where the effects and story are both weak in the later and jarring this side step into the cerebral is exactly what a lot of dedicated science fiction fans have been craving for so very long now. Taking on a model similar to the legendary Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979) or Solaris (1971), Annihilation plunges it’s audience into a lavish and dangerous new world to explore along with a scattering of emotive flashbacks added purely for good measure. Continue reading Annihilation (2018)

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)

Limehouse Golem (2017)

Director: Juan Carlos Medina. Original Book : Peter Ackroyd
Starring: Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke, Eddie Marsan, Douglas Booth, Daniel Mays. UK. 1h 49m

Lessons can be learnt from this gloomy victorian epic, it has all of right elements but it just lacks that little je ne c’est quoi. Characters fall flat and the mystery becomes boring and repetitive. Within the elaborate stages and cliche back streets of London, before the time of Jack the Ripper there was the Limehouse Golem, a mysterious killer who slaughtered at will for his audience.

John Kildare (Nighy) is thrown at the case as the powers that be believe the killer can’t be found, so he’s the fall guy, so without any backup and being dangled in front of the media and disapproving public he is forced into action, sparing their prized detective for other simpler cases, but Kildare jumps into the case, almost becoming obsessed; using his brilliant meticulous mind and working with his close friend Officer Flood (Mays) the two are an alternative Holmes and Watson. Continue reading Limehouse Golem (2017)

Hong Fen Bing Tuan / Golden Queen Commando (1982)

Director: Kevin Chu.
Starring. Brigitte Lin, Sally Yeh, Loretta Yang, Teresa Tsui, Sylvia Peng  Taiwan. 1h 30m.

I’m not sure which came first, Golden Queen or Pink Force as they were both made in 1982(?) but these explosive action adventure Commando movies often have each other’s scenes spliced into one another. Personally I found Pink Force to be way more thrilling with its stronger western themes and total kookiness, but that doesn’t mean that this prison based flick is worse, but it has very different themes with an almost identical cast.

Golden Queen Commando opens with some Visual Kei gang leader playing cards with some street gangster types when a fight breaks out despite her fast shooting the police crash the party and she’s sent to prison, other short vignettes for other criminal women (Black Fox, Clack Cat, Dynamite, Sugar Plum, Amazon, Brandy and Quick Silver (our stunning card shark)), each with their own special skill and extreme costume all end with them being sent to the same nazi war prison.

Things being to heat up when one of the women starts to antagonise the others while getting a feeling for their strengths and weaknesses. And they slowly hatch a plan to escape and to kill the vile fat nazi warden and his henchmen and then head out to destroy a WWII nazi chemical lab. But not before they being total chaos and mayhem with their unique fighting skills, and all looking totally beautiful within the prison walls..

Control of tone is essential to any film but this is kicked into the wind and blasted to pieces, the film had no formula and that’s what makes it a marvellous and highly entertaining bonkers exploitations flick. The final act is highlighted with a soundtrack from Ennio Morricone which makes this a hash up of the Dirty Dozen (1967) / Magnificent 7 (1960)a la psychotronic style. Obviously there is a stunning finale and the scene which sees a spy outed is straight out of an X-Japan music video. All round fun and frolics that’s hard to ever forget.

Rating 5/10

RPink Force Commando (1982), Love Massacre (1981),
L – A-Z of Taiwan Cinema Vol 1.
A – Pink Cinema
Vs –  Pink Force Commando Vs Golden Queen Commando.

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Baskin  / Raid (2015)

Director: Can Evrenol
Starring: Gorkem Kasal, Mehmet Cerrahoğlu, Ergun Kuyucu. Turkey. 1h 37m

This surreal Turkish gory horror, directed by Can Evrenol, based on his 2013 short film by the same name, although in this  blood soaked feature length debut he turns up the nightmare factor to full. Not running totally parallel it’s like a lucid dream within a dream, something more like Inception (2010) Vs Hellraiser (1987). While it’s not obviously as to what’s going on, the puzzle presented within Baskin is not something that you’ll be able to work out until the end, providing you have the stomach to get to the bitter end. There is a heavy handed dose of blood, meat, strange symbolism and a chilly silenthillesque atmosphere that is bound to entertain horror fans throughout. It’s crowning achievement is that it successfully manages to make you a passive spectator as this incredibly vivid nightmare unfolds. Continue reading Baskin  / Raid (2015)

Angel Heart (1987)

Director: Alan Parker.
Starring. Mickey Rourke, Lisa Bonet, Robert De Niro. USA. 1h 53m.

In the dark final scenes of Angel Heart, after you’ve picked your jaw up and shaken the last hour and 1 hour 53 minutes out of your system the sweat dries, the blood and dust settles and it’s all quite simple to understand but it certainly didn’t’ feel that way only moments before and you begin to feel silly for not seeing all the warning signs as the detective story turns into a dark occult nightmare. Continue reading Angel Heart (1987)