Monday, October 21, 2013


Drying Up The Streets is a super-obscure, grim as shit Canadian TV movie from 1978. I'd never heard of this until recently, but when I read the single review on its IMDB page I knew I'd have to get ON it. Thematically, it covers similar ground to 1979's HARDCORE (one of my favourite films of all time), but differs in one main facet - rather than focusing on an upper-class, whitebread puritan who is forced to immerse himself in the underground sex industry to find his missing daughter, its lead character is a former junkie who is trying his damnedest to leave that world behind, only to be pushed back into it when he receives the news that his daughter is also hooked on junk and possibly working as a prostitute to fund her habit.

The films opening scene pretty much lets you know exactly what you're in for right off the bat. Peter Brennan (Don Francks), close to death in a psych ward after overdosing in a cafe bathroom, is visited by a cop (Len Cariou) who forces Brennan to view a slideshow depicting the death scenes of various junkies (not really sure how often cops tend to set up a proper screen and slideviewer in a psych ward room to make a point, but hey). He also tells Brennan that his estranged daughter has gone missing, is hooked on the bad shit and involved with some seriously bad dudes. If Brennan gets clean and goes undercover in order to bust a drug ring, then he'll help him find his daughter. Brennan agrees, and along the way meets Anne (the insanely beautiful Sarah Torgov of Meatballs), whom he begins to care for obsessively and tries to save from the shitty scene she's in. So in summary....... YES.

So here's the deal. I love, LOVE this fucking movie. Obviously there are huge similarities to Paul Schrader's work here, which in my book is pretty much the Best Thing. Though it surprisingly predates Hardcore by a year, there are obvious nods towards Taxi Driver, particularly the relationship between Brennan and Anne - though I guess the "older man obsessively trying to save a young prostitute" arc isn't really super-unique. This movie is just so fuckin' grim though - everything is grimey, dark and hopeless. One scene where Anne is drugged and taken into a back room to be raped for the amusement of a room full of KIDS who have seemingly paid to the see the "show" is just beyond awful - naturally, this being a 1978 TV movie, this shit is implied rather than graphically depicted but still... Fuck, man. Similarly, the endless parade of fetish clubs, dark streets and dingey apartments that comprise the films setting make for a super-dark watch... It honestly blows my mind that this was a TV movie made for network broadcast. The scenes of Frank walking the streets alone, seaching for his daughter serve as breathers from the bleakness, as well as lending the film that extra touch of realism.

In spite of the insanely depressing content, this movie just has so much going for it. The relationship between Anne and Brennan is actually pretty convincing, and is probably the one thing that brings heart to a film with such dark subject matter - there's a tenderness there that never feels like it's crossing into overly-mawkish territory, no doubt partly due to the fact that both Francks and Torgov deliver awesome performances. This tenderness also prevents the film from become an utterly nihilistic horror-show, which is important when dealing with such sensative material. Also, it was awesome to see a familiar face in Rabid's Frank Moore, who, while not being the greatest actor in the world, has a pretty cool and unique presence that I always dug in Cronenberg's film.

There are problems of course - the film is too dark at points, and some of the scenes are comprised of dull, static shots, with dialogue that is sometimes difficult to make out, but hey, these things come with the territory. If you can track this movie down, and have the stomach for it, then I highly recommend a watch... Just don't put it on a party or anything. What are you, a sadist?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cyclone (1978)

For some unknown reason, I'd been wanting to see this movie for a real long time. I first read about it in Jay Slater's great book "Eaten Alive" - which I'd highly recommend - about five years ago, and have been on a search for it ever since. Slater's review wasn't exactly glowing, but even so, a movie that combined cannibalism with shark attacks kinda sounded like my vibe.

Cyclone opens in a strange fashion, hopping between different groups of people that are soon to fall victim to a supposedly vicious cyclone and left stranded at sea. Introducing about 1,000 different characters, it takes its time (REALLY takes its time) to follow these guys and subjects the viewer to a good half hour of inane chit chat that seems to never end. Once the cyclone actually hits, we're treated to a half-arsed montage of stock storm footage, and hilarious scenes that basically involve a hose spraying on some branches while some poor schmuck waves them around unenthusiastically off-screen. Once everyone's finally lost at sea, we get to know the characters a little more, whether we like it or not. We have a stern bearded guy who assumes the lead role, the old dude from Hart To Hart and an extremely weird woman whose dog (named Christmas, because "he was born at the same as Jesus") is her only concern. Joke's on her, because Christmas isn't exactly in for a good time.

Here's the thing. Cyclone's most bizarre trait is it's unbelievably long running time. At just under two hours, it's impossibly long for a low budget Italian exploitation movie. What's even more crazy is that there's barely enough relevant material there to make up an hour, so Christ knows what the makers were thinking stretching things out that much. I can't tell you how many times I paused this movie just for a break from the intense boredom of listening to these arseholes ramble on about water rationing. What's even worse, there are numerous scenes of their relatives receiving news of their disappearance, which have absolutely no relevance to what's going on in the movie. Just get to the freaking sharks!

After what feels like about 3 days worth of footage, the sharks finally appear and occasionally take a chomp out of the odd cast member. Naturally, you pretty much see nothing of this, which obviously defeats the purpose of watching a movie like this entirely. The only scene that causes any kind of stir is an incredibly grim scene where Christmas the dog has his throat slit and the cast feast on his innards - being an animal lover, I'm presuming this was staged, but it's pretty graphic, and it's kind of irritating that the only real gore in this movie comes from the killing of a dog, especially considering he's probably most talented member of the cast.

And so, Cyclone trundles along, there's some more talking, and finally the boat sinks and everyone gets eaten. That isn't exactly a spoiler, because if you can make it to the end of this movie, you deserve a medal. In fact, I'm going to make myself a celebratory coffee right now and toast my ability to sit through virtually any piece of shit movie without losing my mind smashing my TV into a billion pieces.

So this is my life.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Still one of the funniest things I've ever seen. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Best & Worst Horror Of 2011

Yep, so here it is, a month late... My rundown of the horror movies I managed to catch in 2011. This marks my first post in a long time, and also my first ever post relating to anything made in the last ten years. There still are a few movies that I have left on my list to watch, but fuck it, if I waited any longer I wouldn't have this up til august or some shit.


Along with Tyrannosaur and Snowtown, this was amongst the best movies I saw last year. It baffles me that this movie has such a low rating on IMDB  - when utter garbage like The Signal has a similar rating - but I guess it's not the most accessible of movies in some ways, especially to a US audience (that's not a poke at the US, if you've seen the movie you'll probably know what I mean). This movie rests on the incredible performances of the central cast, as well as near-perfect (and seemingly ad-libbed in places) dialogue. The most impressive thing about this movie is that for the entire running time, I felt deeply uncomfortable and on-edge - it feels like things could go horribly wrong at any point, which is the mark of an expertly made film in my opinion. If you haven't seen this, I suggest reading nothing about it before viewing, and approaching it with an open mind. It's a truly amazing piece of work.


I didn't really dig the first PA movie, but I actually thought that that PA2 was significantly better.. Nothing all that great, but y'know, somewhat entertaining. I'm sure many horror afficanados like myself are sick of the whole "found footage" deal, and this movie is pretty textbook/standard stuff. I can only watch a limited number of swinging doors and dancing light appliances before my patience is stretched to the limit, and worse still there are countless fake jump scares that just become really tiresome after a while. !!!LOUD NOISES!!! I think the most exciting part of this movie was the 5 seconds I thought the character of Randy was being played by Trevor from Trailer Park Boys, which of course would have made this 1,000 times better. To be fair though, there are a couple of decent scares towards the end, but getting that far is tough work. I think the worst parts of these movies are the establishing scenes that show the characters aping around and basically being annoying pricks - I've never understood why every "found footage" movie features the dullest, most irritating characters imaginable. Though saying that, if their goal is realism, it's not entirely inaccurate seeing as 99.99% of people are complete cocks.


Do I even need to say it? Actually, no I don't. I will, however, ask if someone can forward me the addresses of the people involved in making the CGI for this movie so I can call round and chop off their hands so they never use a computer again. Actually, that goes for everyone involved in this atrocity... Except for Mary Elizabeth Winstead, of course <3


Fuck off. Just.... Fuck off.


Oh God. It just gets worse. The memory of a classic is repeatedly rogered by the insufferable Katie Holmes while the ordinarily likable Guy Pearce plays the stupidest father in the history of film. Everything that made the original special is glossed over by repulsively slick CGI, and the whole thing essentially adds up to a depressing retread that should never, ever,  ever have been made.


This movie was actually surprisingly decent. I've seen a review that compared it to Super and Hobo With A Shotgun but that's way off base - this movie doesn't have the same kind of mean streak or sensationalism as Hobo, nor is it as irritatingly mawkish as Super. It's by no means anything revolutionary but has an awesome cast that really hold it together - particularly Kevin Corrigan whom I've always loved. Sure, some of the humour is a little too goofy and broad at times, but overall this is definitely one of the better genre movies I've seen in the last while.


Ah, more found footage. This wasn't as bad as I expected, but it's far from special. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I actually thought there were elements here that could have made an awesome film - but ultimately the makers succumbed to the pressure of making films for a Paranormal Activity-obsessed audience and the whole thing is just far too familiar, despite the somewhat novel setting. I'd suggest re-watching the X-Files episode "Space" instead.


Oh my fuck. Let's just get this straight: I actually approached this film free from bias, despite the fact that the first two Hellraiser films are two of the greatest horror films ever made. I mean, I really wanted to like this - I even like the majority of the later sequels for what they are, so this is not one of those over the top, fan-boy reactions... But the fact is, this movie is complete garbage. I'm honestly astounded that anyone thought that dude could play Pinhead, but I could even get beyond that if anything actually happened in this movie. Boring, pointless crap.


Writer/Director Joe Cornish has long been a hero of mine, and UK readers might remember the utterly amazing Adam & Joe show that Cornish used to co-host in the late 90's and early 00's. It came as no surprise to me that this movie totally ruled. Everything about it is awesome, but I particularly loved the fact that the film demanded that you ultimately empathise with a group of characters that are initially somewhat deplorable. Great effects, perfect direction, amazing performances - everything about this movie is just so refreshing, and it's undoubtedly one of the best genre movies of last year.


There sure has been a lot of fuss over this movie. For me the first HC movie wasn't really anything special beyond its supposedly outrageous premise, but they really kicked up the insanity for this sequel. I'm sure a lot of people would be offended by this movie, but it's just so ridiculously over the top that I couldn't take it seriously at all. In fact, I wonder if that was Tom Six's intention, because I find hard to believe that this was a genuinely serious attempt to really shock anyone. Bear in mind I saw the cut UK version, and in all honesty after reading about the scenes that were excised I'm kind of glad of that I did. I can't say I'd actually recommend it, because it's definitely a complete piece of shit, but you have to admire its lack of pretension, if nothing else.


I'm going to go wayyyy out on a limb here and say that I actually enjoyed this movie. Maybe it's because I was hungover and was looking for something that demanded little of me as a viewer, but I found this to be fairly solid, brainless entertainment. It's so stock that I'm struggling to even remember the specifics of the movie, but if you're up for something that allows you to switch the old noggin off, you could do worse.


I've sat through the biggest pieces of celluloid shit known to man, but I couldn't make it the whole way through this movie. Devoid of the cheap laughs you get from piece of shit SyFy productions, but so badly made there's no way you're actually going to wring any proper entertainment from it, this is literally a film for nobody. Also, a message to 3D - please go fuck yourself.


Nnnnng... Yet more found footage/fake documentary schtick. I had mixed feelings about this Australian movie. It certainly bares many of the cliches of the found footage genre; annoyingly unrealistic overreactions from the characters, massive overuse of the night-vision camera trick, you know the deal. That said, it actually had some things going for it. For one, it's quite well acted - and, following up on my point on Paranormal Activity, the characters aren't nearly as grating as those I've seen in every other movie of this kind. It makes the mistake of going too far with the "less is more" rule though, and to be honest there just isn't enough juicy stuff in there to make it a really good movie. There are a few intense moments all the same, and if you brace yourself to watch a movie of this style, and accept all that comes with that, it's worth a look.


I hated this film. Absolutely hated it. Great cast: squandered. Potentially interesting premise: squandered. Kevin Smith, you made one good movie. Now please stop.


This was made in 2010 but released in 2011, so I'll consider it part of this list. This movie had certain elements going for it, but ultimately ends up being a bit of a snoozefest. The camerawork was particularly distracting, with that ridiculous technique of having the camera jigging around constantly to try and give things a grittier (I guess??) edge. Add in an unbelievably half-arsed twist ending and there's very little about this movie that makes it worth watching.


FD4 was horrendously bad, but funnily enough this latest installment is actually pretty entertaining. I've always had a soft spot for this series, mainly because it's so retardedly over the top, and this kind of ruled. It's just back to basics, laugh out loud silliness, and actually pretty fun.


Oh, man. I actually wanted to like this. It's certainly one of the more experimental films on this list, but not all experiments in filmmaking are successful. To me, the most offensive aspect of this film is how blatantly it steals from the films of David Lynch. It's actually unbelievable how many ideas in here are ripped off wholesale from Lynch, and it's so brazen that it completely prevented me from cutting this movie any kind of slack (there's even a character that's basically a female version of Bob from Twin Peaks, fer chrissakes). It's pretentious, meandering drivel that drags on seemingly forever, despite a running time of just under 80 minutes. It doesn't help that lead Lyndsay Pulsipher turns in an appallingly hammy performance, though to be fair she isn't given much room for range, with the film requiring her only to blubber incoherently and look somewhat perturbed. If there's one positive thing I can say for the movie it's that the sound design is impressive enough... And that it made me want to rewatch all of Lynchs films for the millionth time.


Wow, where to even start with this one. I had so many conflicting opinions of this movie - a weirdly paradoxical piece of work that's by equal measures misogynistic and pro-feminism... Which is what makes it so interesting to watch. There were definitely aspects of this film that really irked me, and it may be difficult to ascertain what exactly the central message is, but it deserves respect for attempting to do something original. I think it probably would have worked better if Lucky McKee had taken a less horror-centric approach, especially with the ending, but it's beautifully filmed, with strong performances... So in that sense I would definitely recommend a viewing just for the experience - but y'know, approach with caution and all that.


I'd been waiting a while to see this, but unfortunately it didn't live up to my expectations. Featuring two actors that should be mega-stars - Melissa George and Eamonn Walker - this should have been awesome, but it falls short of the mark in the end. Though Melissa kicks ass, Walker is criminally underused, and my initial excitement upon seeing him appear slowly dissolved as I realised he would have little to do in this movie. Admittedly, the movie has a few things going for it, especially the cinematography, though slow-motion is overused to the point of being a bit annoying. The story, though actually pretty straightforward, is weirdly convoluted in its telling, and essentially the presence of Walker and George is what keeps this afloat for most of its running time. At its best this reminded me of Don Coscarelli's Survival Quest or Deliverance, but ultimately it's a bit of a waste of potential.


I was a fan of Ti West's previous movie, House Of The Devil, so I was psyched for this. It's a bit of a step away from the old school feel of HOTD, but it's still based on a classic idea. Essentially another haunted house movie, it's pretty refreshing to see something that's played this straight without lame gimmicks. The characters are great, and the movie looks amazing, but like HOTD it suffers from a slightly anti-climactic ending. Even so, I really enjoyed this, and I think West definitely has a classic movie in him somewhere down the line.


Oh wow. This is a Troma movie, so you should know what to expect, but this is utterly batshit. It's filled with terrible but weirdly likable actors, serious gore and pretty much every taboo imaginable, so I was all over this. Also, awesome score. Pretty much the best thing Troma has done since the 80s.


Aaaaaaaaand there you have it. A few near-classics, a few middling efforts and a whole pile of cinematic turds. So not that different from any other year in horror, I guess. Peace x

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Effects (1980)

When I was a kid I really wanted to make movies. I mean, how much fucking fun would making a horror flick be? Wouldn't that be just super awesome? Wellll, not really if Effects is anything to go by. The story of a small film crew that are being killed off for a secret snuff film, Effects isn't hopeless, but for the most part it's a huge waste of potential.

Dominic (Joe Pilato of Day Of The Dead) is an effects man working on a low budget horror film, which is being directed by the somewhat unhinged Lacey. Dominic is happy to toil away elbow deep in fake blood and limbs, but doesn't realise that Lacey is up to no good behind the scenes - and that the horror film is only a front to diguise Lacey's intentions to film the real demise of the crew in order to make a snuff film.

I'm not sure where I picked this idea up, but I was under the impression that Effects was a lost horror gem. I guess the involvement of Joe Pilato and Tom Savini tickled my fancy to some extent, but I'm still not entirely sure why I had such high expectations. It has a solid premise to be fair, but aside from the odd nice touch, this movie is a bit of a mess. It's biggest flaw is it's pace - there are so many slow, pointless scenes about absolutely nothing, and the film remains weirdly plotless for approximately an hour, before Dominic realises what's going on and the main premise of the film actually kicks in. Up until this point, it's padding a go-go, and though the scenes of the filming of the fake horror movie are actually quite convincing, the constant inane chatter from characters you don't care about is honestly torturous. Several storylines are hinted at but never resolved, characters disappear from the film without explanation and it's just a frustrating affair on the whole because it occasionally hints at something that could have been great - however, those flashes of inspiration are ultimately stifled as the film stumbles along without direction to its dull and strangely sudden ending. 

One of the few scenes that I really loved features Lacey, Dominic and a few others watching a snuff film in a darkened room while off their heads on coke (there's a lot of coke in this movie for some reason, these kids really love that shit). It's a hugely effective scene, and again hints at what could have been done with this movie had it been written by someone who actually knew what they were doing. There are a couple of other decent, tense scenes that elevate the movie above the status of total crap, but not enough to make it worth seeking out. Even the performances are sleepy and slow - Joe Pilato, who rules so hard in Day Of The Dead, turns in a performance so lazy and non-descript that I honestly didn't even recognise him for a good 20 minutes or so, and although Tom Savini does his thing with the usual energy and charisma, he can't make up for a cast of bored, sleepy looking actors that are only notable by their total lack of charisma. 

I've seen a few reviews of this movie that mention that it might go over the heads of most horror fans, which is just plain silly - just because a movie is dialog-heavy and has a vaguely interesting premise doesn't mean it's any more intelligent than your average slash-fest/shit-fest. If anything, this movie is guilty of pissing away it's initial promise, and basically amounts to a slow, bloodless mystery movie with only the most tenuous connection to horror. Oh well. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Blood Beat (1985)

Mmmkay... So here we have a slasher movie about an undead samurai that terrorises a family living in the arse end of nowhere. Somehow Blood Beat manages to end up being like a cross between Friday The 13th Part VII and Poltergeist, but 1,000 times weirder, and if there's one thing I can say in its favour, it's that it's unique to say the least. Completely incoherent and amateurish, but definitely unique.

I'll try my best to outline the plot of Blood Beat, but my grasp on proceedings was tenuous at best. The movie begins with siblings Ted and Dolly arriving at their mother's house for Christmas. Ted has brought his new girlfriend Sarah along to meet his mother, and from the moment they meet there's something weird going on - a kind of telekinetic bond exists between the two women, despite their never having met. Next thing you know, a samurai has appeared and is fucking people up in the nearby woods - and waddya know, it turns out that the supernatural killer has something to do with the family's past. And..... That's more or less it. 

So yeah, Blood Beat makes absolutely no sense. I know there was a samurai, I know some people died, and I know there was some ESP action going on, but that's all I've got. I'm willing to accept that I might have zoned out at a critical point, but this movie essentially amounts to a bunch of ideas mashed together to create something very strange and yet weirdly enjoyable. Blood Beat's strong suit, and the thing that somehow manages to compensate for the fact that it makes no sense, is that it's just surreal enough to be somewhat original, and rarely boring. It's kind of terrible, yes, but oddly mesmerising at the same time.

Technically speaking, the movie is all over the place. Some of the ultra-cheap tricks employed by director Fabrice Zaphiratos actually work, and add to the film's surreal atmosphere - I love the little touches like having the screen flash red anytime Sarah gets freaked out. In other respects though, it's a disaster. The special effects used in the second half of the film are unbelievably cheap, and look like they were imported directly from the 80's He-Man cartoons. It's also guilty of many poorly lit night scenes, something that's always a pet hate of mine. The highlights are definitely the ESP material, which essentially amount to the actors twitching and gurning as if crapping themselves mercilessly, while cheap cartoon lights flash hypnotically in the background. The performances are mostly passable, with the exception of the mother, who is honestly one of the worst actors I've ever seen - the scenes that feature her being "possessed" are mind-numbingly bad, and I've seen some BAD acting in my time.

It's hard to write a coherent review of such an incoherent film, but the short version is, I dug Blood Beat. It's full of mistakes, flaws and totally non-sensical plot turns, but it's all in good spirits, and besides, it's got a fucking samurai. A shitty, barely-visible-for-most-of-the-movie samurai, but a samurai nonetheless. Add to this a killer lo-fi synth track and hey, it's not a bad little number. Just be warned - you will more than likely be extremely confused for most of the movie, but just go with it and you'll be allllright.
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