There has always been this strange surreal nature to the epic ideas of Russian Science Fiction, be it art, animation, novella or cinema you’ll always find something so profound and lavish in the Russian culture of art. From the early Aelita (1924) to the genre defining Stalker (1979) Solaris (1972) and Visitor to Museum (1989) there’s a strong sense of new ideas and concepts so far out and esoteric it’s hard to take in but yet these films stand as testament to the ingenuity of Russian Cinematographers (using soviet brutalism and derelicts to their advantage) and Directors who work an orchestra of stunning and creepy visuals and wonderment.
Director\Writer:Brad Parker. Starring. Jesse McCartney, Devin Kelley, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Nathan Phillips, Dimitri Diatchenko. Hungary/Serbia. 1h 33m.
The first time I watched this movie I wasn’t overly impressed, silly me was sat there pffpffying at the screen cos I had seen better and scarier I was grown and I could deal with this, but then I started getting recurring nightmares and they were fucking awesome so I’m giving the film a mini thumbs up for that!
The entire film paints a pretty dim picture of the Ukraine/Serbia area, it’s monochrome greys and blue hues overpower the movie during its brightest hours, when a group of unattached youngsters manage to get smuggled into the no go area in the shadow of the Chernobyl disaster area. A young american couple are heading out for a off beaten adventure with the intention to propose just to warm the audience, while a scandinavian/Australian couple are just out for what they can find. After being stalled at the first checkpoint in the Ukraine they eventually go in through a rougher secret path that was discovered years ago by their local guide Uri. He assure them it’s safe, he has a geiger counter (so fuck your fears kids let’s ROLL!) but they are all constantly on the lookout for dangerous (glowing) wildlife and the military but they roam around the dusty ghost town in awe of the tragedy and well aware of the possible dangers. Continue reading Chernobyl Diaries (2012)→
This is Russia’s slightly underpowered answer to movies like The Avengers (2012) and came out the same year as Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2 (2017), initially the movie was hyped but instantly bombed in the Russian Charts and started to receive numerous negative reviews mostly in Russia, but it’s slowly gained a trickle of fans worldwide despite its flaws it’s an ok movie, for me it’s way more enjoyable than other blockbusters that try to take themselves too seriously so if you’re into B-Movies or anything psychotropic then it might just be the super flick you’ve been looking for.
Kicking off in the Cold War, a secret organization called “Patriot” gathered some heroes together from former states in order to defend the homeland, altering their DNA these different nationalities of the Soviet Union all have their own individual special powers, a quick run down, and I’m only using their codenames, Ursus (Serbia) (Pampushnyy) who’s generally a strong man but is also a cuddle Werebear, Khan (Kazakhstan) (Madi) who looks a lot like Casshern but he’s super fast and uses curved swords and flashes around like Nightcrawler, Ler (Armenia)(Sisak) can control the earth and rocks, a bit like Bluto and Ben from Fantastic 4, and finally Xenia (Moscow) (Lanina) who can turn invisible and transform into water and all sorts of lady shit..yadda yadda… Continue reading The Guardians / Zaschitniki / Защитники (2017)→
Director: Sergei Bodrov Starring: Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia WIlliams, Djimon Hounsou, Julianne Moore. USA/UK/Russia 1h 42m
Based on The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney
In principle the story is ok, I’m pretty sure the better selling novel by Joseph Delaney is worth a read if fantasy is your thing, but in this bizarre adaptation there’s no longer anything particularly outstanding. Which is totally bizarre as it has all the ingredients, great actors, many who have starred in many fantasy movies, a Russian director, and without prejudice some of the most inventive fantasy movies have come from the region, topped with a lavish story, this should have blown many pairs of socks off, but it could barely figure out how to put them on.
Opening at a weird stage in the story, we see a man locking away a screaming woman in a remote hold in a vacant landscape, is alludes to this being the outcome of an epic battle between Mother Malkin(Moore) an evil witch and Gregory (Bridges) a member of a knightly order called the Falcons who dedicate their lives defending mankind from supernatural threats. Continue reading The Seventh Son (2014)→
Director: Dušan Makavejev Starring:Carole Laure, John Vernon, Anna Prucnal, Pierre Clémenti, Jane Mallett, Roy Callender, Sami Frey. France, Germany, Russia. 1h 38m
The film is like a psychedelic socio political nightmare orgy, with some kind of comedy added to cushion the blow.
Following the lives of two women, Miss Mode 1984 and Anna Planeta, both are figureheads for different movements, Miss Mode (Laure) represents modern commodity culture, while on the other hand Anna (Prucnal) is the spearhead of the failed communist revolutionary. The film opens with a glitzy show, where women around the world are aiming to win the Most Virgin competition, the winner is Miss Canada with her golden shiny vagina. Her prize is to marry Mr. Kapital, a milk industry tycoon played by the daring and often enigmatic John Vernon, losing her virginity doesn’t go to plan, despite a golden dick, she soon bribes a servant to smuggle out of the Milk Tycoons mansion after his mother tries to drown her. Miss Mode goes on to join a cult, she gets seduced by a glittery Latin singer called El Macho (Frey).Continue reading Sweet Movie (1974)→
Director: Peter Fleischmann.
Original book same title by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky Starring. Alexander Philippenko, Edward Zentara, Werner Herzog. Russia/USSR/(West)Germany. 1h 59m.
While trying to get hold of the second remake of Hard to be a God (2013) I noticed a resurgence of the earlier remake from the 80’s and managed to watch them in chronological order, not that it matters much as they are two extremely different movies which look at different fragments of a brilliant science fiction story, originally written by Arkand and Boris Strugatsky, this is a simplistic version of a deeper more complicated story but it’s easier to watch and at times stomach more than the 2013 version.
On another planet out in the vast universe a simple civilisation is going through their Medieval period and it’s quite similar to ours, this has sparked interest in the more advanced cultures, namely us! An employee of the institute of experimental history from Earth is sent to this planet disguised as a noble named Rumata of Estor and he’s tasked to observe the culture and find the previous person who was sent there to also observe, another spy who has perished while trying to raise an unlucky coup against the main palace and Rumata has to take his place as a resident. He soon discovers that many of the 30 others have also perished in this harsh society and is soon pulled into the next coup Soon he meets all the horrors of medieval society, war, palace coups, mass executions, peasantry and they prove to be too barbaric for scientist, and he’s disgusted to find out that people are slaughtered if they are considered to be too intellectual, and thus keeping the society in a permanent state of Medieval life.Continue reading Es ist nicht leicht ein Gott zu sein / Hard to be a God (1989)→
In this 1960’s folklore inspired horror fest, a young monk, Khoma; is tasked with saying prayers over the body of a beautiful maiden who is in fact a witch and she terrorising him each night, the tormenting intensifies until the last night where the showdown unleashed all the goblins and trolls the witch can muster and the novice monk has an epic show down and has to basically exorcise the witch. This show down is amazing and I feel that for these scene alone the film should be recognised by more people. Continue reading Favourite Scene – Viy (1967)→
(Horror, Comedy, Fantasy, Supernatural, 1967) (12) D: Konstantin Ershov W: Nikolai Gogol C: Leonid Kuravlyov. 1h 17m. Russia/Ukraine.
A young priest is ordered to preside over the wake of witch in a small old wooden church of a remote village. This means spending three nights alone with the corpse with only his faith to protect him
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this movie, initially I used to think Russian/Ukraine movies were all a little lo budget and crappy.. Alas I grew up and started watching more movies, realised that what I had seen in the past were critically acclaimed movies and not the stranger stuff that I appreciate and low and behold every country suddenly has an underground current of movies that entertain me… sorry I’m loosing myself here.. Viy (1967) is a lush vibrant gothic horror story. T: It’s based on a book by Nikolai Gogol.