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Old 31st Dec 2011, 9:28   #1
Colyngbourne
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Default 2012 filmlists

DVDs, videos, TV, cinema and LoveFilm:

106. Bridget Jones' Diary - TV
105. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - DVD ½
104. Badlands - LF ½
103. Skyfall - cinema ½
102. The Dark Knight Rises - cinema
101. Breaking Dawn: Part Two - cinema
100. Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes - DVD ½
99. Wimbledon - DVD
98. Australia - DVD ½
97. X Men: First Class - DVD
96. Ever After - TV
95. South Pacific - DVD
94. Guys & Dolls - DVD ½
93. Cabaret - DVD
92. As You Like It - DVD ½
91. Interview with the Vampire - DVD
90. Tangled - DVD
89. The Sound of Music - DVD
88. The Muppet Christmas Carol - DVD
87. Meet Me in St Louis - DVD
86. Little Women - DVD
85. Mr Bean's Holiday - TV
84. Johnny English Reborn - DVD
83. Richard III - (1955) - DVD
82. Little White Lies - LF ½
81. The Iron Lady - LF
80. Hugo - LF ½
79. We Need To Talk About Kevin - LF
78. Carnage - LF
77. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - cinema
76. Midnight in Paris - LF
75. Days of Heaven - LF
74. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - LF ½
73. My Week With Marilyn - LF ½
72. The Woman in Black - LF
71. A Royal Affair - LF
70. The Flowers of War - LF
69. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol - LF ½
68. The Way - LF
67. Percy Jackson & the Lightening Thief - TV Nice bit of Sean Bean as Zeus....
66. Coriolanus - LF
65. Brave - cinema
64. SLC Punk - DVD
63. Breaking the Waves - LF The Year of Von Trier continues....
62. Wuthering Heights (1992) - DVD
61. Wuthering Heights (1948) - video
60. Wuthering Heights (2011) - LF
59. In Time - LF
58. Red Riding Hood - LF
57. Beauty & the Beast - TV ½
56. Hugo - LF
55. The Faculty - video ½
54. Ocean Waves - DVD ½
53. The Shawshank Redemption - DVD ½
52. Tin Cup - DVD
51. Trollhunter - DVD ½
50. Stand By Me - DVD
49. The Eagle Has Landed - DVD ½
48. Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows - DVD
47. Public Enemies - LF ½
46. Jane Eyre - LF
45. The English Patient - DVD ½
44. Flags of Our Fathers - DVD ½
43. The Last Samurai - DVD ½
42. Aliens - video
41. Alien - DVD ½
40. The Rise of the Planet of the Apes - LF
39. The Fighter - LF
38. Heavenly Creatures - LF Bizarre, extraordinary.
37. The Hunchback of Notre Dame - DVD (Disney)
36. Another Country - DVD Good as ever, if a little dated.
35. Immortal Beloved - LF Lovely Gary Oldman making a decent Beethoven.
34. Attack the Block - LF Amusing and decently effective low-budget.
33. The Ides of March - LF Not well thought-out, and the focus was all over the place.
32. My Own Private Idaho - DVD ½
31. Super 8 - LF ½ Very reminiscent of old Spielberg.
30. Summer Wars - DVD ½ Fantastic anime about family and social networking and the place of technology in relationships.
29 Antichrist - LF
28. Oscar & Lucinda - video Ooh, very enjoyable indeed!
27. In the Bleak Midwinter - DVD ½ Luvvie-dom par excellence but Branagh delivers cracking real Shakespeare from Michael Maloney when he's not playing a repeat of Peter's Friends to the gallery (ensemble cast; issues; artistic credibility; resolutions; twee stereotypes). The cameo by Jennifer Saunders is horrifically painful to watch.
26. A Month in the Country - DVD ½ Wistful old Branagh/Firth version of the JL Carr, and an hysterically good scene buying a new church organ.
25. LotR: The Two Towers - extended edition - DVD
24. High School Musical 3 - DVD Cheesy but somehow palatable as the years go by...
23. A Good Year - DVD ½
22. The Proposal - DVD ½
21. Cowboys and Aliens - LF More fun was to be had in sniping at the whole film.
20. The Avengers Assemble - cinema
19. Dogville - LF FIVE RED STARS
18. Submarine - LF ½
17. Mulan - TV
16. The Lion in Winter - LF
15. The Hunger Games - cinema ½
14. The Truman Show - TV
13. LotR:FotR - Extended Edition - DVD
12. Solaris - LF
11. Doctor Zhivago - LF
10. The Tree of Life - LF
9. Lassie Come Home - TV ½
8. Melancholia - LF
7. Galaxy Quest - TV
6. Becket - DVD
5. Tuck Everlasting - DVD
4. Rope - LF
3. War Horse - cinema ½
2. Arrietty - DVD
1. A Midsummer Night's Dream - DVD Review here
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Old 31st Dec 2011, 9:51   #2
Ang
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Default Re: 2012 filmlists

1. Enduring Love
2. Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows
3. The Iron Lady
4. The Muppets
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Old 31st Dec 2011, 11:14   #3
Lucoid
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Default Re: 2012 filmlists

And a couple I missed from the list somewhere along the way:
The Nutty Professor (the 1963 one)
The Human Factor

91. The Birds
90. Oliver Twist (The David Lean one)
89. The Expendables
88. Great Expectations (the David Lean one)
87. Superman 3 (but for Richard Pryor)
86. Superman 2
85. Miracle on 34th Street (the 1947 one)
84. Back to the Future
83. Superman
82. Scrooged
81. Planet of the Apes (the Charlton Heston one)
80. Chinatown
79. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
78. Capricorn One
77. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
76. Time Bandits
75. The A-Team
74. Wreckers
73. Brighton Rock (the 1947 one)
72. No Way Out
71. Total Recall
70. Tropic Thunder
69. Kick-Ass
68. Full Metal Jacket
67. Apocalypse Now
66. Dracula: Prince of Darkness
65. The Hurt Locker
64. The Day the Earth Stood Still (the old one)
63. Citizen Kane
62. Spartacus
61. Synecdoche, New York
60. If...
59. Cronos ½
58. The Dark Knight
57. Sucker Punch
56. 8 Mile
55. True Grit (the Coen brothers one)
54. The Manchurian Candidate (the Denzel Washington one)
53. Terminator Salvation
52. Diagnosis: Death
51. Che: Part Two
50. Che: Part One
49. The Illusionist
48. Fantastic Mr. Fox
47. Demolition Man
46. She's the Man
45. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
44. Volcano
43. The Visitor
42. Pearl Jam Twenty
41. The Ghost
40. Coraline
39. Life Is Sweet
38. Drillbit Taylor
37. Funny People
36. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
35. Thirst ½
34. Lawn Dogs
33. Election
32. Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee
31. Round Ireland With a Fridge
30. Starter for 10
29. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
28. The Howling
27. Ned Kelly (2003)
26. The Conversation ½
25. Attack the Block
24. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
23. Chicago ½
22. Bridget Jones's Diary
21. True Grit (the John Wayne one) ½
20. Down With Love ½
19. The Godfather Part III
18. Muppets from Space
17. Friends with Benefits
16. Bridesmaids
15. Stargate
14. Gods and Monsters
13. The Incredible Hulk (2008 )
12. Memento
11. Galaxy Quest
10. Trees Lounge
9. Atonement
8. Role Models
7. The Man from Nowhere
6. While You Were Sleeping
5. Submarine
4. Law Abiding Citizen
3. Brighton Rock (the 2010 one)
2. Star Wars: A New Hope (remastered)
1. Up in the Air ½
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Old 31st Dec 2011, 19:40   #4
elwood
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Cool Films/movies seen for the first time in 2012:

Books: 2012 2011 2010 Films: 2011 2010

- Monsters vs Aliens (2009)
- Ratatouille (2007)
- Chaos (2006)
11:14 (2003)
- Underworld (2003)
- Joe Kidd (1972)
- Scum (1979)
- The Ghost Writer (2010)
- Man on the Moon (1999)
DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)
- Southern Comfort (1981)
- Law Abiding Citizen (2009)
- Bolt (2008)
- The Final Destination (2009)
- How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (2008)
- The Green Mile (1999)
- 21 Grams (2003)
- Halloween 6: the Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
In the Electric Mist (2009)
State of Play (2009)
Casablanca (1942)
- The Crazies (2010)
- The Hurt Locker (2008)
- Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
- Syriana (2005)
- Inglourious Basterds (2009)
- Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007)
Nevada Smith (1966)
- Cleaner (2007)
- Rumor Has It... (2005)
- Dumbo (1941)
The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
- American Beauty (1999)
- Public Enemies (2009)
Hart's War (2002)
Heist (2001)
- Training Day (2001)
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Old 31st Dec 2011, 22:01   #5
bill
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Default Re: 2012 filmlists

1. Don't Go In the Woods (d. Vincent D'Onofrio)
2. Nosferatu (d. F. W. Murnau)
3. Stuck (d. Stuart Gordon)
4. Kill List (d. Wheatley) maybe. Maybe less. Undecided. But an interesting movie.
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Old 1st Jan 2012, 11:39   #6
Noumenon
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Default Noumenon's 2012 filmlist

73 The Town
72 Premium Rush
71 Take Shelter
70 The Big Lebowski
69 Leon (extended version - the cinema release is a definite )
68 Charly
67 El Dia de la Bestia (The Day of the Beast)
66 Good Will Hunting
65 Local Hero
64 Dr. No
63 Trainspotting
62 The Guard
61 Skyfall
60 Argo
59 Looper
58 Cosmopolis
57 Killing Them Softly
56 Moonrise Kingdom
55 Take Shelter
54 Top Hat
Blame The Artist. I was sufficiently charmed by the silent tap sequences to think "Hey, why not watch a real old timey dance number or two?" Man, some films have really dated since 1935. This one clunks. A couple of laughs, some good songs - but they've been done better in the intervening decades and I was dying for it to finish in the end. All the more tragic since I know my mum used to have me watching Fred & Ginger when I was a whippersnapper, I'm sure I liked him fine back then...

53 The Artist
52 The Hunger Games
51 Shallow Grave
50 Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol
49 The Dark Knight Rises
48 Highlander
47 Hereafter
46 The Ninth Configuration
45 Sucker Punch
44 Clerks
43 The Crying Game
42 Best In Show
41 Ricochet
40 The Tree of Life
39 Rare Exports
38 Some Like It Hot
37 Amadeus
36 Prometheus
35 Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
34 The Incredibles
33 Blazing Sadles
32 Young Frankenstein
31 Haywire
30 Walk the Line
29 Robocop
28 The Station Agent
27 Breathless
26 Avengers
25 Crank
24 Son of Rambow
23 Black Death
22 Harper
21 Contagion
20 The Ledge
19 Tropa de Elite
18 Scott Pilgrim vs the World
17 The Ides of March
16 Hugo
15 Never Let Me Go
14 Safe Room
13 The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
12 The Iron Lady
11 Contagion
10 Kill List
09 Pontypool
08 Le Quattro Volte
07 We need to talk about Kevin
06 The Omen
05 Drive
04 Senna
03 In Bruges
02 Super 8
01 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

2011 list | 2010 List | 2009 List | 2008 List | 2007 List

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Old 1st Jan 2012, 12:58   #7
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Default Re: 2012 filmlists

01 - Curse of the Were-Rabbit -
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Old 1st Jan 2012, 15:15   #8
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Default Re: 2012 filmlists

Previous Years' Lists: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

This year I will watch some good films, this year I will watch some good films, this year....

January:
  1. Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby (1999) - ...sometime this year. Freeway was a 1996 film starring Kiefer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon and was, apparently, a 'twisted' modern day reworking the Little Red Riding Hood story. Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby stars Natasha Lyonne (hubba hubba! - but I'm weird) and is a 'twisted' reworking of the Hansel and Gretel story that segues from genre to genre without stopping to think where it's going. It starts out as a Women in Prison film with nude shower scenes and communal vomiting, turns into a 'killers on the run road movie' with a lesbian serial killer, before our 'heroines' end up in the lair of a child porn making transvestite nun in Mexico and for a moment or two the film starts to look like it's going to turn into a gory cannibal slasher film but it just stops instead. Written down like that it looks a lot more interesting than it was. I only stuck with it because I was hoping Natasha Lyonne was going to get naked. She didn't. (Well, not much.)
  2. Shadow of the Vampire (2000) - Not bad little Vampire flick which plays with the silly notion that Max Schreck, the actor who played the vampire Count Orlok in Murnau's Nosferatu, was a real vampire playing an actor playing a vampire. Great cast headed by John Malkovich (who can do no wrong - apart from Mutant Chronicles), Willem Dafoe (who was Oscar nominated for this part), Udo Kier, and Cary Elwes (who are both favourites and both far funnier than you remember).
  3. Planet of the Apes ( 1968 ) Again. Watched, this time, with Number One daughter (aged 9) - and, after successfully hiding the case from her, the Statue of Liberty shot came as a real shocker to her. Job done.
  4. Mary and Max (2009) - Australian claymation film about the long distance relationship between a young Australian girl and a middle-aged man from New York with Asberger's. Mrs JM was in tears at the end of it; I was bored. Somewhere in there was a decent short but there wasn't enough to sustain a feature. Especially when 90% of the story was told through an omniscient third party voice-over narration. Anything with that much voice over starts to look like a radio play with pictures. As a comic book (sorry... graphic novel) it might have worked a lot better.
  5. Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) - not great, but bearable, sequel which had a wonderfully downbeat ending. Everyone dies. The highlight for me tonight, watching for the first time in wide-screen and a decent quality, was spotting a member of the camera crew's discarded paper cup blowing into shot about 15 minutes in. A previously unreported smirky little film nerd goof that I'm off to log at the IMDb. (I'm so pathetic sometimes but it amuses me.)

    Using Your Skill and Judgement...
    ---------------------------------------------^-------------------------

  6. Escape From Planet of the Apes (1973) - confirming rule 7 of the Junk Monkey low budget film rule book. 'All time machines/travel in low budget movies take you to Los Angeles in the year the film was made - no matter how hard you try to make them go somewhere more interesting.' A not bad attempt at a Get Out of Jail Free card from the writer who blew up the whole planet - and by implication the entire population of the previous two films. Apparently, while we weren't looking, two of the apes from the previous films, plus another we hadn't met before, somehow managed to salvage a sunken spaceship, worked out how to fly it and did just that minutes before the world exploded and the shockwave hurled them back through time. Some serious suspending of disbelief had to be done. Better directed than number two which had a real hurried look about it, with some of the blocking looking very underdeveloped and hamfisted. Though there was one moment in this one when a short pan to establish someone sat in a room was followed by a cut back to the starting point of the pan - which started again in the same direction but then turned into a dolly shot instead. That was clunky. Two of my favourite 70's actors Eric Braeden and Bradford Dillman did their usual sterling stuff in support.
  7. Some Like it Hot (1959) - Friday Night Film Club choice of Mrs. JM (one of her favourite films) First time up on the big screen for me. And again I was seeing the film as if it were new because of it. I was seeing Jack Lemmon do things that were new to me and for once I almost saw what people see in Marilyn Monroe. I've never understood what what all the fuss was about. Tonight I almost got it. Daughter Number 2 thought it was "Great! - she particularly loved the tango sequence.
  8. The Funeral (1996) - Dir. Abel Ferrera. (see, I'm getting to the 'good' films). Another random pick from the huge VHS pile to give me a rest from the Planet of the Apes boxset. The Funeral is a slow paced, layered, beautifully shot, wonderfully acted (brilliant cast) nicely dressed gangster piece that left me stone cold. I'm not particularly disposed to gangster films - modern ones anyway. I still haven't seen any of the Godfather films and don't feel deprived. The film had things to say, there were flashes of real truth in the script - most of which fell to Walken's character but I just wasn't made to be interested in hearing them. The structure wobbled all over the place. A lot of the story was told in flashback from various viewpoints but it was all so vague and unfocussed that I ended up not caring. (Apart from noting at one point that cinematic rarity and irrational pet hate of mine: a flashback within a flashback.) Off to the charity shop with it.
  9. House of America (1997) - Wales. Tom Jones. Coal mining. Depression. Getting pissed. Family secrets. Smashing up the pub toilets. Unemployed. Coal mining. Incest. Mam's in the loony bin, nice room she got though. Suicide. Coal mining. Murder. Did I miss anything? Story obvious from about three minutes in and money from the Arts Council of Wales."Well, that Trainspotting made a lot of money last year so it's obvious the world is gaggin' for Celtic fringe post-industrial misery innit?" Based on one of those plays that gets public funding and is 'Important' and 'Says Something' and when it's translated into film looks exactly like a play that's been translated into a film. Yes, they may be standing in a field 'opening it out' but they're still talking stage dialogue, not film dialogue. Thinking about it for 24 hours (not exclusively) I suspect the film was supposed to be a heartfelt cry against the swamping of Welsh culture by the all pervasive influence of America. As the only evidence of Welsh culture shown here were a couple of brief sound-bites of Tom Jones' songs and shots of bunches of miners (still in helmets and blackface coaldust) getting pissed in the pub I can see why our protagonists got obsessed with Jack Kerouac and necking neat Jack Daniels. Beats the fuck out of Max Boyce and Brains SA. Can I go back to watching shit again? this arty crap is doing my head in.
  10. The Brothers O'Toole (1973) - I'll watch anything with John Astin in it. The man is a comedy hero. Here he plays two parts in what is a very dull shambles of a film. When he's not on screen the pace drops to a crawl and the script just flounders about not going anywhere in particular - very slowly - and then Astin is back on screen and it's a funny little film again. He manages to get even the flattest of dialogue to be far better than it has any right to be (I suspect he rewrote many of his own lines). Another £1 well wasted in Poundland
  11. Spawn (1997) - What. A. Piece. Of. Shit. Spawn is based on a comic book and looks it for every frame of it's running time. The lowest point for me was the moment when the demon trying to bring his overly complex plan to start Armageddon gloats over the recumbent body of his mortal minion evil, CIA-type chief played by Martin Sheen. At demon boy's suggestion Sheen's character has planted instant, total population of the world destroying, biological bombs all over the globe - and then left the vital files on his desktop (like you do). He has also had a pacemaker type device fitted which will automatically set off the bombs if his heart stops beating. With me so far? Right. Demon boy spends most his very annoying screen time trying to manoeuvre dead, but bought back to life with superpowers, former hired killer Spawn into killing him. There is a climactic fight in a suburban house with Spawn's ex-wife and child used as pawns. Spawn can't bring himself to kill Sheen's character, because little Tammy will die too. Demon boy rants. "Then I will kill him and kickstart the apocalypse now!".* Martin Sheen had the good grace not to be in shot while this line was delivered. He may well not have been in the building or even aware that it was in the script. I hope so. At least the villain wasn't played by a British actor. (Very hard to cast a Brit as head of the CIA I would imagine.) The only Brit I could see in the cast was Nicol Williamson who got stiffed with that other standby role for British Male actors of a certain age, The Elder Mentor part. (Alec Guinness in Star Wars, Sean Connery in Highlander etc.) Apart from standing about telling our 'Hero' to use his powers wisely, he also had to do tons of rapid back-story, and narrative hole filling, voice-over narration. He hasn't made a film since. The first-time director is now only allowed to make things like Garfield's Fun Fest ( Video 2008 ). *Geddit? Geddit? Do you geddit? Huh? Huh?
  12. The Wisdom of Crocodiles ( 1998 ) More late 20C Arts Council money poured into a film (I think it was trendy; 'Cool Britannia' and all that). This time they seem to have backed a vaguely commercial horse with Jude Law as an urban professional vampire and the always strange and watchable Elina Löwensohn as the woman he falls in love with. Not perfect but better than I was expecting after seeing the dreaded words 'Arts Council' in the credits. Someone called Hitler Wong played a character called Noodles Chan. It's his only film.
  13. The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues (1955) - Confusing and dull low-budget radioactive undersea monster and misguided scientist with beautiful(ish) daughter mess which racked up more shots of people putting on Scuba gear than an entire series of The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau and more crappy clichéd dialogue than normal. A lot of ouch! editing too, where vital shots had obviously not been done, and staging so clumsy it was wonderful. Ferinstance these two guys are supposed talking to each other: "Establishing shot please... let's see if we can do this in one..."

    "Great guys, we'll cut away to cover the fluffs.
    Now the close-ups, and talk fast, we're running out of film..."



    "Okay, that's a wrap, let's go get lunch."

    I've no idea what these two are looking at but it's not each other unless they are in parallel universes - which is possible as their shoulders would appear to be occupying the same physical space. Crappy film making. Love it.
  14. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D (2011) - better than number 3! The kids loved it. I laughed aloud several times despite my better judgement. The only thing that really spoiled my reluctant enjoyment was my irrational hatred of Ricky Bloody Gervais whose smugness just annoys the tits off me. (Even when he's just doing a voice for a robot dog and doesn't thrust his very punchable self satisfied face at the camera.)
  15. The Shaolin Temple (1982) - another hour and a half of my life spent watching Chinese people whacking the shit out of each other. One of these days I'll actually work out if I enjoy these films or not. This one had some great scenery and a young Jet Li eating his girlfriend's dog spit-roast over a fire. Yum yum.
  16. At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1991) - it's Jan the 16th and I may have just seen the best film of the year. I think.
  17. Convergence (1999) - Christopher Lloyd shambles around Seattle being world weary while very low budget spooky stuff happens to a girl in his office. It starts off okay, nice little X-Filey, millennial weirdness vibe building up and then it just goes nowhere and flounders around and all the spooky just gets not very interesting and by the time it's finally over it has turned into a New Age mumbo-jumbofest about 'converging energy lines' and 'patterns' and 'destiny' and characters giving full ponderous weight to every word while saying things like this to one another:
    Quote:
    Angst ridden protagonist dude:
    Why do I feel so empty inside; like I've been betrayed?

    Cafe owning mentor dude:
    Maybe, because, in some way, you have.
    Another dull waste of time and space.
  18. Private Parts (1997) - I knew nothing about Howard Stern before I saw this autobiopic. Doubt if I really know anything now. But I enjoyed it. Laughed a lot. Paul Giamatti was, as always, brilliant.
  19. Shark in a Bottle (2000) - A slacker, accident prone, postal worker, wanted for the possible slaughter of several co-workers, is forcibly recruited to work as a hit man. Shark in a Bottle is one of those films that really makes you think and ask it some fundamental questions. Questions like: Who the fuck thought this script was worth reading beyond page three let alone spending all the time and money and effort to shoot the bugger? Why does our 'hero' keep returning to his flat when he knows the 'bad' guys want to kill him (actually this one is pretty easy to answer: A. None of the neighbours ever complain about the powerful handguns being fired in it all day - someone did call the cops when he blew it up though. B. The budget didn't let him go anywhere else.) When are cheapo crappy film makers going to stop thinking "Hmmm. It looks like shit. I know! Let's pretend we're being mysterious by using some Angelo Badalamenti-like music over the really boring bits! You know, to give it a David Lynchy feel...". When is it going to end? Why is the remote control all the way over there? Was that supposed to be a twist ending? (Were we really supposed to forget about the dead hitman in the bathroom?) Is this supposed to be a comedy? One of the longest 94 minutes of my life. Dreadful.
  20. James and the Giant Peach (1996) - fun little family film which (as usual with films chosen by the kids) I enjoyed a lot more than I was expecting too.
  21. Hao xia (1979) aka Last Hurrah for Chivalry - more Chinese people wellying seven kinds of shit out of each other at the drop of a hat. This time John Woo was directing and some of the camera moves were far more complex than usual.
  22. Sketch Artist (1992) - an above average made for TV / Direct to LaserDisc crime noir. Not great but not bad. The obligatory sex scene was almost justifiable and for once looked like a couple having realistic frantic make-up sex, not indulging some bizarre choreographed gymnastic workout with lots of soft-focus, body doubles and panning camera-work. It actually looked like two people fucking. I am so bored with rubbish sex scenes. I was watching one supposedly erotic scene the other week, with all the ritualistic back-arching, finger-licking, nipple-slurping, et al and I was spotting continuity errors - 'Oh, the bra strap's back up... now it's down... now it's up again...' I think I'm getting old.
  23. Heavenly Creatures (1994) - Early Peter Jackson. Interesting.
  24. Sanctuary ( 1998 ) - Straight to video Priest With a Past 'thriller' (he was a CIA hitman) which almost breaks new ground for me. The whole story is told within a framing device of 'our hero' being interviewed by dark figures. Cue title. '6 Days ago. Chicago... ' and the story proper starts to unfold in a flashback - except it doesn't because, almost as soon as we are settled into Chicago six days ago, we are soon kibitzing on a second layer of our hero's flashbacks. He starts off by taking us to 'Langley four years previously' and then hop skipping about his whole life from childhood onwards through years of rigorous training to be a government within a government sponsored assassin - before running away and becoming a priest. With me so far? Good. During one of these flashbacks - within a flashback - the younger child/hero/priest/assassin has a moment where, in soft memory-inducing focus, he has a reverie remembering his dead mother. For a moment there is a non-diegetic sound cue as he recalls the sound of her voice and for a second the film teetered on the edge of diving into a flashback - within a flashback - within a flashback! Heady stuff. I don't recall ever having been that close to a narrative chasm that deep before. The rest of it was shit. Pure unadulterated shit which alternated from confusing to boring and back again with without breaking stride. The bad guys hunt him down, lots of innocent people end up dead, the Priest starts killing people again without a shred of remorse and foils the evil plot to - er - do evil stuff. (What was the Evil Plot? I've forgotten.) Whatever. It also has one of the dumbest 'twist' let's-set-up-a-sequel endings: The hooded figures from the start of the film turn out to be a secret society of Papacy within a Papacy Catholic Priest Hitmen/Ninjas who want to recruit him.... oh God....
  25. The Big Swap ( 1998 ) - a group of friends, all of them irritating smug middle-class professional wankers*, swap partners a couple of times and the wheels come off their semi-perfects lives. Whoop de do. A terribly wordy script full of place-holder dialogue like: "I thought we could try that new restaurant. You know the one on the high street..." delivered by far too many characters who are introduced en masse. We're given a voice over guided tour of the whole cast in the first couple of minutes and after that we're on our own. Three minutes later the wheels are starting to come off relationships we know nothing about - and we're supposed to care? Oh come on!... it's hard to generate any sympathy for the simultaneous emotional problems of ten total strangers. One of the leads now writes for preschool CBeebies regular Chuggington. If the French had made this (even on this budget) it would have been sexy, elegant, sophisticated, and smart. The French would have known how to make this film. (They should do, they've done it often enough.) But because it's British it's just awful. British Film just didn't know how to do sex. *I don't think I quite meant that to read like it does - nice work if you can get it though.
  26. Despicable Me (2010) - funnier than I remembered.
  27. The Mesa of Lost Women (1953) - Whenever you hear someone say ";X is the worst film I've ever seen!" you can pretty much guarantee they have never sat through any number of truly dreadful films like: Egagh, The Horrors of Spider island, The Wild Women of Wongo, Nude on the Moon, The Mesa of Lost Women etc.. All of them are dreadful but The Mesa of Lost Women is a wonder and a marvel. A film that defies watching and one of the films that started me in my exploration of Trash Movies. It's one I return to from time to time to get my bearings - or when I need a good sleep; great chunks of it are incredibly boring; I mean seriously, hypno-toad, trance-inducing type boring. The opening sequence alone is a masterpiece of incomprehensibility. A couple are rescued from the 'El Muerte Desert' ("The Desert... of Death!" as our VO narrator translates for us a couple of times).We start to see the story of how they came to be there told in flashback, but whose flashback we are watching is totally unclear. Is it the pilot rescued from the desert who is actually talking? or is it comedy Mexican Pepe on whose face the camera is lingering as we fade with the helpful narrator hinting that Pepe knows more than he's telling? Is it the narrator's flashback? Who knows? By the end of the film ownership of the flashback is established as being that of the pilot of the crashed plane - but there's a problem. The start of the flashback narrates events that he has no knowledge of, which happened long before he appeared in the story, and about which he had no way of finding out during the course of the narrative. The only people who could have told him die within minutes of his meeting them. I think the ownership of this flashback changes, during the course of the film, from one person to another. Possibly a unique event in the history of cinema.
  28. Scandal (1989) - Okay, British Film can do sex. But only if it's a costume drama.
  29. Mediterraneo (1991) - Gentle little film about a forgotten bunch of Italian soldiers stuck on a small Greek island during WW2. Out of radio contact, and cut off from the war they slowly fall for the charms of the local girls and the gentle calm of the place. One of those films that lull you into such a feeling of warmth and security that you spend the second half of the film hiding behind your internal sofa waiting for the inevitable tragic misunderstanding and for it all to go hideously wrong when the war catches up with them. It's a horrible feeling. I hate it. This time though things didn't go horribly wrong. Everyone lived!
  30. Kannibal (2001) - a straight to ex-rental, self-financed, incomprehensibly plotted, dreadfully acted piece of serial killer bumsplatter which is close to nudging Zombie Women of Satan off top spot in my Crappest Film ever Made in Britain list. Godawfully dreadful in every field. I can't work out whether it was the direction - which was frankly fucking awful, the script - which was frankly fucking awful, or the production values - which were even worse than fucking awful (when they were there at all). In the end though I decided it was the script. It's always down to the script in the end, really isn't it? As evidence I tender the following badly-delivered monologue. Which I transcribed with much labour and swearing; I forget how cumbersome VHSs are for doing this sort of thing compared with DVDs. To set the scene: the killer, having finally messily disposed of all the members of a Russian Crime family, and their lesbian lovers (and eaten most of their livers), makes his way to New York, leaves some flowers at a woman's grave and thence to the sickbed of the aged matriarch of the Russian Mafia clan. 'Why are you doing this?' she wheezes through a layer of badly applied latex. He inserts a video tape into the player at the end of her bed. Cue a not very good English actress putting on a variable 'Noo Yawk' accent as she pretends to read the news straight to camera...
    Quote:
    "This is February the fourteenth sixty minute special coming to you from down-town New York. Today saw devastation and travesty (sic) in the streets of Manhattan like never before seen when a failed bank raid went wrong and one woman and her unborn child were killed instantly when a hijacked bus careered into the side of her station wagon. It all started at 5:45 when a gang of four armed men broke into the Federal Reserve Building. Unluckily for that (sic) an informant had raised the awareness of the police and a team of FBI were waiting. After a lengthy gun battle one of the men escaped and hijacked a local 201 bus to make his getaway. We understand the bus started its journey at 6:15, the hight of the rush hour traffic in Manhattan, and if it were not for police valour and diligence in this matter there could have been many more accidents. Within a short space of time police had set up various road blocks along the route the bus was travelling hoping to stop the carnage before it careered out of control. It was along the highway that the bus hit the station wagon causing it to smash into another vehicle head on killing the occupant on impact."
    You have to admit that is a really great bit of shitty writing. "A failed bank raid that went wrong," does that mean it succeeded? Another treasurable moment came earlier when the police inspector investigating the crimes wanted to know if someone was 'implied in the murders' instead of implicated - a singularly dreadful bit of acting, by the way, from Lucien Morgan who turns in an astonishingly amateur looking performance that would have got him booed off the stages of village halls around the country had he tried it out in front of live audiences. What I learned from watching this film: Shooting out on location guerilla style; out on a London street say, (guerilla style because you have no permissions to be filming on the streets); shooting brief insert panning shots of a character walking round a corner; it's a neat idea to do it from inside a parked car. Passers-by and the police are less likely to spot you, and point at the camera, or try to arrest you. Pretty standard cheapo film making technique. But I'd make sure there's enough money in the budget to run the car through a car wash first. Panning shot with fingerprints and glassy smears over them look like shit. This one's a keeper.
February
  1. Kissed (1996) - strangely beautiful little romance about a female necrophiliac.
  2. Marriage Italian Style (1964) - after all the Sword and Peplum, wobbly-set SF, Super-criminal caper, and photocopy Spaghetti Western films I've watched over the last few years it's nice to be reminded that the Italians could, and did, make some damn fine films when they wanted to.
  3. Spy Kids (again...)
  4. Vampire's Kiss (1988 ) - Nic Cage chews up the scenery (and a live cockroach) as an arsehole literary agent who thinks he's turning into a vampire. Half the people on the IMDb boards for this film think it's a comic masterpiece, the other half think it's a confusing incoherent mess. It's neither.
  5. Frankenstein Created Woman (1967) - pretty rubbish (very cheap looking) Hammer nonsense.
  6. Talisman ( 1998 ) - very cheap underachieving piece of 'horror'. The rich students at an exclusive boys school somewhere in Europe are getting killed by a baldy bloke with glowing eyes. (He rips their still beating hearts out of their crappy actor bodies.) A new, rich American student arrives. And for the first half of the show it had me puzzling who he and another of the leads, the 'innocent' daughter of the school's evil headmistress, reminded me of. (When I wasn't worrying about why the outside of the school was neo-classical and Georgian like while the inside was very definitely heavy-duty pointy-arched Gothic - but that's architects for you.)
    About twenty minutes in I got it. I worked out who they looked like (and though it's not very obvious from the above picture) these two were the spit of Gene Colan's take on the Sub Mariner:

    and Anne Frank
    And a very disturbing combination that is too. I had just got used to this odd double act (and the director's habit of putting American voice-overs into the mouths of obviously non-English speaking actors - even when they clearly weren't actually saying anything) when it's suddenly sprung on the unsuspecting audience that the events we are watching are taking place the night before the Millennium changeover and all this feverish devilry is setting up - The End of Days! Dah Dah Dahhhhhh! 50 minutes into a mercifully short 72 minute film is a bit bleeding late to drop that sort of useful background info. Not that we get to worry about this for long because a couple of moments later our hero distracts us all from the plot by telling another character that he is 'the only living descendant' of someone who, twenty minutes previously, he had admitted was his great uncle. This film was made in Romania. There are a lot of people with a U at the end of their surname in the credits. Now it's certainly possible to be descended from an uncle - even a great one, maybe in Romania it is even common, but it's not the sort of thing rich Americans go around bragging about. Even in shitty films like this. God I was glad when it was over.
  7. Photographing Fairies (1997) - more Millennium Fund, Cool Britannia, Arts Council dosh not totally wasted.
  8. The Adventures of Chris Fable (2010) - when I'm President of Everything I'm going to make sure all HD cameras are fitted with ultra-smart detection technology - coupled with on-board GPS and a small explosive charge. The cameras will be programmed to explode if they detect that they are being used to film people pointlessly wandering around in woods. "Okay," the chip says to itself. "That's the fifteenth setup within two hours in a wooded location; arm the bomb!" There's a lot of pointlessly walking around in woods in The Adventures of Chris Fable (aka The Wylds, aka The Blair Bunyan Project). It's a 'contemporary' reworking of Pilgrim's Progress shot in Montana with a cast of first-timer amateurs and a few not very good jobbing actors. And it is awful. Not 'so bad it's funny' type awful but just painfully 'this is painfully awful' type awful. It's hard to feel sorry for them but there are people out there who seriously thought this was worth making. It's Christian allegorical bullshit at it's most insultingly inept. I'm not a Christian. Far from it. 'Born again Atheist' is what I put on application forms but I notionally respect the concept that other people have a need to believe in something 'bigger than themselves'*. Bilge like this undermines that respect. I think the makers of The Adventures of Chris Fable thought they were 'spreading the word'. They're not. They're preaching to the converted and helping us non-converts to loose any respect we may have for modern Christianity. I'm now off to watch something with lots of naked women, ritual disembowelment, and graphic, pointless, repeated violence to take the taste of this film out of my head... * I choose to believe in elephants when that particular urge comes over me. They're bigger than me. Or better still Blue Whales; I've seen and touched an elephant but I've never seen a Blue Whale so I have to take their existence on trust.
  9. The Night Evelyn Came out of the Grave - La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba (1971) - Gothic Grand-Guignol bonkers Eurotrash. At least three stabbings, one poisoning, one wheelchair bound character beaten to death with a rock and fed to a cage full of foxes, one naked woman running across a lawn in slow motion, ghostly apparitions at seances, dead wives rising from the tomb, and raving lunatics running away from white clad orderlies; whippings, striptease, villains thrown into swimming pools full of corrosive chemicals - and very little plot linking them all together. Or maybe there was too much plot linking them all together but it was so incoherent as to be impossible to follow. Great fun. I do know that the region 0 transfer on the Eclectic label (EDD05043) has to be the worst transfer to DVD I have yet paid money for. It's dreadful. Makes the crap put out by 23rd Century look good in comparison. Muddy, faded, scratched to buggery and all but unwatchable. At one point, at a reel change, it even jumped in the gate and the bottom of the image appeared at the top of the screen with the frame line showing between.
    I kind of expect this sort of thing in a low rent fleapit (if such things still exist) but not on a DVD I paid folding money for. (We still have pound notes in Scotland.)
  10. Johnny Mnemonic (1995) - I was expecting terrible. And for the first couple of reels it didn't disappoint, but by the time the show was ended I ended up quite liking this. It's no masterpiece but thought of as an extremely expensive B movie it's quite fun. William Gibson (adapting his own short story for the screen) throws more SF ideas at the screen than the average and some of the special 'computer' effects still stand up.
  11. In Like Flint (1967) - Ponderously dull sequel to the fun Our Man Flint. I have no idea what happened but the tempo was leaden! Killed the humour stone dead - and there were some nice gags in here but delivered so slowly that they just never got off the ground. Curiously, and coincidentally, the second film film in a row to feature humans talking to dolphins.
  12. Prophesy (1995) - I can do no better than quote in full the mini synopsis on the IMDb:
    Quote:
    The angel Gabriel comes to Earth to collect a soul which will end the stalemated war in Heaven, and only a former priest and a little girl can stop him.
    Written and directed by the man who wrote Highlander, this piece of boring, self-important piece of twaddle was so successful at the pre-millennial box office that it spawned four! (straight to video) sequels. Christopher Walken was the Arch-Angel Gabriel (the villain) and was as usual the most interesting thing on screen chewing up the place with his usual deranged, "I'll read the fucking lines MY way!" delivery. Viggo Mortenson arrived late in the day and almost stole the show away from him as a very sexy, seductive Lucifer, but by all the gods! it was a trudge of a film when they weren't on.
  13. Tenebrae (1982) - Dario Argento. Heard a lot about him and, as far as I know, have only ever previously seen one of his films, Cat o' Nine Tails (1971). I didn't like that. I didn't like Tenebrae either. The set pieces were done well enough and a couple were pretty impressive - especially the single, continuous shot that went right up the side of a house, over the roof, back down again, and in through a downstairs window. Impressive but puzzling. I have no idea what that shot did, or why was there - apart from being a bit of pure showing off, "Hey! Wouldn't it be cool if the camera went right over the house to discover the killer breaking in the back...?" But the stuff between the set-piece murders was all over the place. Tenebrae, apparently, has one of Argento's more coherent plots. It made very little sense to me. Even when it was explained to me in laborious detail at the end by the detective - just before he went back into the house and discovered the ludicrous twist ending. What I learnt from this film: Axe murderers shouldn't attack people in rooms containing unstable, top-heavy chunks of modern sculpture constructed entirely of very sharp, very pointy bits of metal. Just asking for trouble that is. Especially near the end of the film.
  14. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)
  15. Fahrenheit 451 (1966) - Many, many years since I have seen this. I remember it as being better. Or, rather, I don't remember Oskar Werner being so dreadful in it, he was woefully miscast. According to the Making of extra included on the disc Werner and director Truffaut came to detest each other so much during the shoot that they didn't talk and did just about everything they could to fuck each other over. Werner having a haircut on the last week of shooting that royally screwed up the continuity for the final scene.

    "What do YOU think, Linda?"

  16. Gothic (1986) - Part of my continuing, intermittent, self-flagellatory re-watch of Ken Russell films that I hated the first time I saw them. This time I spent half my time wondering why Timothy Spall is so great in everything he appears in and wondering what the hell Julian Sands thought he was doing. (When I wasn't wondering why and how I had forgotten how incredibly sexy Myriam Cyr was - even before she took all her clothes off and rolled around in the mud.) In the end though, Timothy Spall's wonderfulness, Myriam Cyr's Fwaaar!ness and the horrible fascination with Sand's WTF is he doing? performance didn't disguise the fact that this is just Ken Russell wanking all over the screen and asking us to buy it.
  17. Dust Devil (1992) - This has been on my 'must get round to list' for a year or so after I read an interesting diary of the shoot by the director Richard Stanley. The diary appeared in Projections No. 3 but it's available on line here. And though I was not exactly overwhelmed by Dust Devil it was a lot better than I was expecting. It's a variation on the normal paranormal serial-killer stalker idea but played out in the far from routine Namibian desert, and played out with some style. I now have to go re-watch Stanley's Hardware which I remember giving up on halfway through several years ago. Just in case I was wrong and it is a lot better than I thought it was.
  18. Hardware (1990) - I was right. It's shit.
  19. Incubus(1982) - Mid way between arty serious horror (John Cassevetes in a lead role, and lots of Dutch angles and clever cuts), and slasher schlock (something nasty is raping and killing women in a New England town). Meh.
  20. Motel Blue (1997) - Sean Young. She made a great robot in Blade Runner. Doesn't seem to have extended her range much. I've seen two of her films this year and she is, on the evidence of them, edging her way into being one of my favourite awful actors. She's fine standing still, and seems to be able to walk in a straight line without falling over, but after that it obviously gets a bit complicated for her. Motel Blue has all the hallmarks of the Erotic Thriller Noir but without the sex (what little there was was very unconvincing and do-what!?ty) and far too many plot lines that started stopped, came out of the blue, went nowhere, and are plain just unbelievable. The script tries to push every Erotic Thriller Noir button it can think of while the score tries to sound as much like John Barry's music for Body Heat as possible without getting the composer sued. It's a boring mess with a half decent little film buried in it somewhere. IMDb tells me the director was also responsible for Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984) - a Cannon Films production, and The Interplanetary Surplus Male and Amazon Women of Outer Space (2003) - a film which takes rediscovered 'lost' footage shot by Ed Wood Jr. back in the 1950s and combines it with new material via lots of green screen and other digital trickery. (A film that, now that I know of its existence, is high on my Must See list.)
  21. Amazonia (aka Schiave bianche: violenza in Amazzonia Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story, Cannibal Holocaust 2 etc. , 1985) Limp, slow-moving entry into the Italian 'Cannibal' genre. Directed by someone whose idea of dramatic tension is to get the audience wondering just how far away from the action he can place the camera before he leaves them nothing to look at. A white girl is captured by Amazonian head-hunters she thinks killed her parents, she comes to respect their ways, finds out they didn't kill her parents (though they did chop their heads off) and returns to 'civilization' to kill those really responsible - a 'twist' that was pretty bloody obvious from about 5 minutes in. A bit like At Play in the Fields of the Lord - but shit. Great cover though: Needless to say, I don't remember two men in Evil Spiderman costumes and carnival sombreros carrying a girl with jelly mold boobs around on a length of bamboo - but I suppose I could have blinked and missed it. (Like most VHS cover art it has very little to do with what actually goes on on the screen.)
  22. Talk to Her (Hable con ella 2002) - Damn. You see here's where I have trouble. I really don't know how to praise films. I know what makes bad films bad. I know (more often than not) why a film doesn't do to me what it's trying to do to me. I can see the joins, see the mechanisms of script, acting, and direction straining and creaking to engage my attention. When a film works I don't see any of that. I have no idea (on a first viewing at least) what makes a film work for me. Consequently, if get caught up in a film so much that I don't see all the apparatus making it work, my critical faculties evaporate and I just let the thing wash over me, I have nothing to say about it afterwards. 'Wow!' maybe, or 'I liked that!'. Nothing useful. Too busy enjoying it. So, Talk to Her written and directed by Pedro Almodovar. A lyrical, warm, mesmerising, funny, moving film about friendship, rape, obsession, love, ballet, women in persistent vegetative states, bullfighting, naked miniaturized men climbing into giant vaginas, unrequited love, and suicide. Wow!
  23. Live Flesh Carne trémula (1997) - More Almodóvar;more Wow!
  24. Eyes Behind the Stars ( Occhi dalle stelle 1978 ) - Rewatch of a painfully awful Italian UFO conspiracy film supposedly set in England. We know it was supposedly set in England because all the Italian left-hand drive cars had approximations of British number plates glued to the front (though they got the colour wrong), the set decorators had helpfully stuck tourist 'Map of Britain' tea towels and 'Welcome to Britain' calendars on the wall of the trendy fashion photographer's flat, the Daily Mail reporter hero had a Union Flag on his press card and, in a truly inspired touch, the nominal American B-lister flown in for a few scenes (Martin Balsam) was dubbed with a Lancashire accent. Why do I do this to myself?
  25. Circus (2000) - initially amusing but ultimately overly complicated, and just a tad boring Brit Ganster/Con flick. A few nice moments but over all, pretty meh. Which is a pity, because the first half made me want to like it a lot.
  26. Scanners (1980) - That was a hell of a lot better than I was expecting; partially I think because I expected gory horror and I got well thought through SF. Terrific music.
  27. Life During Wartime (2009) - Todd Solondz. Dammit. Some years ago I started to watch Solondz's Storytelling. I hated it and abandoned it after about 30 minutes. Now I'm going to have to go back and look again because Life During Wartime was curiously wonderful.
Abandoned this month because of the wrong kinds of awfulness. ie films I started to watch but yanked out of the machine after 15 minutes because even I couldn't watch them: Stag - bunch of yuppie fucks and other assorted males gather for a stag party. I instantly hated all the characters and the thought of being locked in a room with them for 90 minutes...? No, that's not going to happen. Ballerina - I didn't get past the opening badly written, flatly acted, static, and almost endless dialogue scene. Iron Hero ( 2008 ) - a poundshop, low budget knockbuster that makes the average Asylum product look well-paced and interesting (I may go back to this one it's so bad). 57
March
  1. Source Code (2011) - Not bad. Not bad at all - right up to the last minute, tacked on, 'happy' ending which sank the movie. Grrrrr.
  2. Boxing Helena (1993) - Not Good. Julian Sands is an actor I am coming to find perversely, weirdly compelling. Last film I saw him, in Ken Russell's Gothic, he spent the entire movie playing Percy Bysshe Bash Bosh Shelley wandering around like Julian from the Famous Five, grown up a bit, and having first year uni fun pissed out of his tiny little head on Newcastle Brown and coke. Nose coke, not 'the real thing' coke. I don't think anyone has ever tried drinking Newcastle Brown and Cola. I may be wrong. In Boxing Helena he is supposed to be a brilliant surgeon, with a galloping case of the Oedipuses, getting a fixation on Helena, played by the rather yummy Sherilyn 'Twin Peaks'* Fenn. He ends up keeping her captive in his house and then amputating all her limbs to stop her running away. Sands played this one like a British Crispin Glover all fumbling awkward manboy nervousness but without the charisma. (Luckily for him the rest of the cast didn't know what they were trying to do either; Bill Paxton turns in a particularly cringe-making performance.) I spent half the film just wondering what Sands was trying to do. He was obviously trying to 'do' something but I have no idea what. Maybe it's just me but I was pretty disappointed by the film. It's been on my 'must get round to' list for a few years now. People had warned me off it as a 'weird and horrible' film (And these were people who know me!? "I'sa begging you, Brer Fox, jess don't go an' throw me in thet briar patch!" I wonder how it took me so long to get round to watching it.) Sadly it just wasn't weirdly perverse enough. Maybe I'm getting old and jaded and have ODed on 'weird and horrible' films but Helena was pretty meh on both fronts. It was aiming to place itself in the creepily odd, but compelling, psycho-sexual darklands mapped out by Davids Lynch and Cronenberg et al, but missed and ended up in expensive, backlit humping, softcore erotic thriller territory - without the thriller bit and not that much of the erotic. Darklands lite. (And I can't blame the BBFC because they passed it uncut.) And then it all turned out to be a dream?! Fuck that. *and the rest of her's not bad too... (baboom-tish!)
  3. Plunkett & Macleane (1999) - another chunk of 'Cool Britannia' Arts Council not entirely wasted. It's a British buddy-movie / comedy-western done with lots of design, lots of anachronistic music, and plot holes you could drive a horse and carriage through. The sort of film America turns out without thinking but, because this was British, had to be helped into the world with tax money. Lots of people didn't like it. They didn't like it, I suspect, because we're not supposed to have fun with our history on film in Britain. It's all supposed to be:
    • Merchant Ivory reverential and lovely soft focus, swanning around with Helena Bonham Carter draped in muslin. or
    • Dour, po-faced working-class rickets and Hitler miserablism. and
    • Based on a novel that has already sold several bejillion copies. Preferably out of copyright - sorry, 'a classic'.
    - special exemption licences are granted for proven producers with a track record in comedy ie Monty Python and the Carry-on team but anyone else who deviates without asking first is just asking for trouble. American films can do what they like with our history; no one gives a shit. We just raise our eyebrows, go "Tch! Americans, eh?,". If we're really incensed we write a letter to the Daily Mail. We still then buy the DVD by the truckload but home grown films? They have to toe the line. This one didn't. And it was fun. I liked it.
  4. Final Combination (1994) - Tedious, leadenly paced, join the dots, LA Cop vs serial killer crap. Made even more plodding than the script by having Michael 'The Plank' Madsen as our hero, and Lisa 'am I in this movie?' Bonet as our love interest. Oh the sexual tension! Both of them looked about as interested in each other as a couple of small kitchen appliances in a showroom window would be. A sample of the witty, 'flirtatious' dialogue: Her: ";So, what about you?" Him: "What about me?" Trust me. That was as good as it got. A film so awful the killer had to jump out of character, and then through several really stupid and pointless hoops just so the film could end on a car chase. Then, after he was supposedly 'killed' at the end of that, he had to do something totally improbable, unexpected, unexplained (and conveniently off-screen) so we could have the inevitable fistfight in the hero's huge, hanger-like, loft apartment.
  5. Ninja Apocalypse (1982) - which, sadly, didn't live up to its title. How could it? No ninjas and no Apocalypse just another Hong Kong cop movie with some terrible dubbing. I did get to pop the cherry of this film on the IMDb though. Long time since I've done that. Actually not quite true - there was already a review there but it was for a different film; so I shopped him and posted my own.
  6. The True Story of Puss 'N Boots ( 2008 ) - well that was a mistake.
  7. Les destinées sentimentales (2001) - leisurely paced three hours spent watching rich French people wallowing in luxury and philosophising at the drop of a hat about Art and Love in only the way people in French family saga films can. All in period costume too. Usually the sort of film that has me running for the hills. I nearly cried at the end. Some lovely lovely camera movements including one masterful cockup that was kept in because it turned out to be wonderful - or a masterful camera move that looked like a cock up but wasn't. Either way it was a magic moment.
  8. Flesh Gordon (1974) any way you look at it Flesh Gordon is a real mess of a film with dodgy non-acting, wobbly camera work, rubbish sets, hardly any jokes, very variable special effects, no plot, no rhythm - and it makes me laugh. It's so naïvely enthusiastic it's just wonderful. Porn's Golden Age of Innocence, 'let's get naked and make a movie' fun.
  9. Blood Simple (1984) - the Coen Brother's first.
  10. The Best of Sex and Violence (1981) - not really a movie but a straight to video compilation of sordid and sleazy seventies film trailers (wall to wall tits and kung-fu) linked by the late immortal John Carradine. A glorious wallow in pre-compacted trash with a genuinely laugh out loud funny joke in one of the links that I fully intend to use at the first opportunity.
  11. The Pyx (1973) I suspect there was an Early 70s Golden Age of Canadian Film going on at the same time as the Early 70s Golden Age going on in Hollywood (the period from Easy Rider to Star Wars). The Pyx, starring a very young looking Christopher Plummer and the always watchable Karen Black, is a odd one. A slowly paced, police procedural with Satanic elements, two storylines, one following the detective detecting the events leading up to Karen Black's character's death and the other following Karen's Black character in the days before her death. There's some very very odd pacing and very very odd framing (people almost falling out of the frame half the time - though that might be a bit to do with the cropped copy I saw), terse sparse dialogue, some very odd music (Karen Black wrote and performed the songs). All very unsettling. I'd love to see a decent copy in the proper aspect ratio.
  12. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) - Only one more to go...
  13. Hidden Agenda (1999) - Flat, plodding, unoriginal, under-achieving postwall Berlin straight to video 'thriller' with more than a few Third Man references. (Not overt homages, you understand. They just nicked stuff.) Second film of the week to have Christopher Plummer playing a cop. The most fun I had with it was trying to spot an exterior shot without a rising wisp or column of steam in it (some of the interior shots had them too) our director was big on steam rising from things for some reason. Quite often they were the most interesting things on the screen. My other game was betting which side of the screen our hero would clear the frame after walking down a long corridor towards the camera. That seemed to happen a lot too.
  14. She Freak (1967) - Whoohoo! Total grade A WTF? paydirt. The story is minimal, gold-digger waitress from a small town joins the carny and marries the boss of the Freak show. He gets killed by her roustabout lover and in revenge the freaks carve her up and put her in the show - the end. (It's a rehash of Tod Browning's Freaks - a film which still has the power to disturb and gave The Ramones some of their most meaningful lyrics.) The style here is incredible. Short bursts of dialogue sometimes rendered inaudible by lousy on-location recording and other times by inappropriately loud music slapped on in editing, interspersed with long (sometimes very long) silent 'sequences' (I'm being generous here) of documentary-style footage shot in a real carnival with whole catalogues of almost not terrible jazzy library music filling up the soundtrack. It's insane. Over half of this movie is silent footage of people putting up tents, eating candy floss, or riding the waltzers, occasionally our heroine appears and wanders around past these real fairground punters - in one shot she takes 50 seconds! to aimlessly wander across from one stall to another - and occasionally she interacts with other characters in that under-rehearsed, 'we have no real lines to say here' way that people used to do in cheap holiday commercials. Overly large gestures, smiling and nodding, Catalogue Man style pointing and uncomfortable body language. Everything screams, "We don't know what we're supposed to be doing but we're getting paid to be here and the camera's running so we had better do something!" an insane delight. The director went on to make several other films, only one of which I have seen: the gloriously awful Space Thing!
    She Freak makes Space Thing look like quality goods.
  15. Chained Heat (1983) - Linda Blair goes to jail. The jail is full of drug dealing lesbians, corrupt, sadistic guards, an even more corrupt warden (whose idea of fun is to tape himself having sex with prisoners in the office Jacuzzi), and an even even more more evil outside contractor (Henry Silver having fun hamming it up) who takes prisoners home for the weekend to parties. In short, all the usual Women in Prison staples:obligatory shower scenes, racial tension, plenty of sweary words and ultra-violence - at least two rapes, one drowning (in the Jacuzzi), and I lost count of the fatal stabbings and beatings. And it was as boring as hell. The 'climactic' prison riot is one of the most lacklustre ever staged for film. Prisoner Cell Block H with T&A.
  16. Hellraiser (1987) - I liked the music!
  17. Battle for Planet of the Apes (1973) The very cheap and tatty final chapter in the Apathon. Less awful and more boring than I remember. I'm glad my rewatch of all the Apes films is over. I still think the first one is a terrific piece of cinema but it was sad watching their rapid decline into TV movie quality shoddiness (the first film came out in 1968 this last in 1973, only 5 years later).
  18. Police (1985) - French. Very French.
  19. Garage Days (2002) - I have now watched all of Alex Proyas' features and this one,which comes half-wayish (no 4 of 6) through his career to date, confirms my long held theory/prejudice that his earlier films were better and the more money he gets to spend on CGI flasheroonies the less interesting his films become.
  20. Zoom Aacademy for Superheroes (2006) - which was no better than the last time I watched it. The kids loved it. But they have no taste. Abandoned this month:
    • Last Images of the Shipwreck (1989) (original title Últimas imágenes del naufragio) I woke up an hour in to it to find the same two characters sat in a dark room having the same not very interesting conversation in Spanish that I had fallen asleep during half an hour previously. It may have been a different dark room. I didn't rewind to find out.
    • Telling Lies in America (1997) - about 30 minutes in I realised I never want to see another obviously autobiographical American Coming of Age Story in my life, no matter how good the music, and acting is, or how shiny the huge, chrome-encrusted vintage cars are. I just don't care any more.
77

April
  1. Reign of Fire (2002) - which turned out to be a lot better than its reputation had lead me to expect. It's not art, it's not meaningful, it certainly doesn't make you want to think, it's Mad Max with dragons and it almost worked. Buggered if I can see where they spent 95 million dollars though.
  2. Alpha and Omega - a kids animated adventure about anthropomorphic wolves (that look like Sonic the Hedgehog), made by undercooking a collection of Disney clichés and hoping for the best.
  3. Red Rose (2005) - Many, many, many years ago I had the singular privilege of editing Red Rose director's first short (a film he, wisely, does not list in his IMDb credits - mind you, it's not on mine either). I thought at the time he was an over-confident, untalented, no-hoper (this was shortly before I realised I was an under-confident, talentless, no-hoper and got out of the business). He has gone on to finance, produce, and direct several feature films. If they are all as bad as this one all I can say is he should have followed my lead.
  4. The Empire Strikes Back- I promised the kids I'd watch it with them.
  5. Profundo Rosso (aka Deep Red 1975) - At last! A Dario Argento film that lives up to its reputation.
  6. Videodrome (1983) - for the umpteenth time. I keep forgetting how funny it is.
  7. The Vindicator (1986) - even the presence of Foxy Brown herself, Pam Grier, can't save this Canadian evil corporation, creates cyborg killing machine with a soul, Robocopy.
  8. Mother of Invention (2009) Tiresomely over-long mockumentary with a very thin joke is stretched far beyond any hope of being funny. All credit though to the makers for getting a lot for their piddling budget of $60,000 and credit too for not going down the cheap horror schlock route.
  9. Dementia 13 (1963) early Francis Ford Coppola.
  10. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) - what a funny funny film. Loved it. I also loved it for the near total lack of music. I think I'm right in saying there were only two bits of non-diegetic music in the whole show and those were at the start and end. I love silence in films. It's rare these days.
  11. Rainbow (1995) - insipid, unmagical kids' tale directed by Bob Hoskins and notable only for being the first 35mm released theatrical feature to be shot on digital. And it shows.
  12. Lemming (2005) - A young couple find a lemming jammed in their waste pipe and then their boss' wife shoots herself in their spare bedroom. After that things start to get a bit strange. Initially interesting but soon turns very French (ie over-long and not as clever or unsettling as it thinks it is).
  13. Carnival of Souls (1962) - Creepy little film. Love it.
  14. Le beau mariage (1982) - I don't get Eric Rohmer or understand why anyone watches him. He made his made his first film in 1950 and by the time he made this one, 30 years later, you would have thought that would have learned something about film making. If he did it wasn't on show here. Not an interestingly framed shot in the whole show. 97 minutes of self-obsessed, endless, pointless repetitive wittering delivered in long static takes by characters slap in the centre of the frame. Occasionally the relentless whining is broken by dull transition sequences where someone walks or drives from somewhere to somewhere else for no real reason - and it starts all over again - in French. Le yadda yadda yadda. Pause. Le yadda yadda yadda. It's not even minimalism; it's just empty. Basically the whole plot is this: a silly and very annoying young woman decides she wants to marry. She is introduced to a man at a wedding reception. She decides he's the one. He tells her he's not interested. The end. Apparently it was a comedy. All I can say the 'comedy' must have lost a lot in translation - or the French are even weirder than I thought. It looked like the first run through of a dull play that the film crew just happened to stumble on. Another VHS yanked out of the machine as soon as the end titles started and on its way to the charity shop un-rewound. Not wasting any more electricity on that! thank you very much. The only real acting was done by André Dussollier who also appeared in Lemming which I watched a few days ago. He is rapidly turning into my favourite French Actor I Had Never Heard of Before Last Week. He's good, does very good listening which, given that his character hardly gets a word in edgeways for most of the time, is probably why he got the part.
  15. Starship Troopers (1997) - Space Ken and Space Barbie fight Evil Space Bugs for two hours.
Abandoned: Lady Chatterly (2006) Three hour French version. I left after a bum numbing hour in which too much nothing was going on on screen for me. One of those films where the director cuts into conversations right at the start of long awkward pauses. And then lets them run. I was bored rigid. And I had a real problem with the intertitles which were incredibly clumsy. But again maybe that's just me being a fucking peasant.

92

May
  1. Dans Paris (2006) - "Luminous, enlightening and often hilarious..." says the Time Out quote on the front of the case. I have long avoided buying books with the word 'hilarious' anywhere on the front cover, because they never are. They are mildly amusing at best. Downright baffling, miserablist shite at worst. I now think I am going to have to do the same for films. I'm sure Dans Paris' 89 minutes (was that all??) must have been stuffed full of knowing critic, Nouvelle Vague homaging yockfest moments but to us mere mortals it looked like the same old French cinéaste tripetwaddle warmed over. The only real thought I had during the whole show was: why are French film-makers obsessed with small breasts? Two actresses get their kits off during the show and, sad, middle-aged bloke that I am, I have larger boobs than the both of them put together! I think there's some sort of secret annual prize at the Cannes Festival for the smallest breasts in a French film. Le nipple d'or. (Any films with Charlotte Gainsbourg in them are, obviously, not allowed to compete.) Googleing the exact phrase "French Actresses with large breasts" gets zero results. (Apart from, now, this one.) In the interests of fairness I should point out there is an equal quantity of male nudity too.
  2. Snow White (2001) - TV movie version with Miranda Richardson having fun as the evil Queen. Not good but but not terrible. The kids liked it. Though the presence of tarmacked roads and racoons in Generic Euro Fairytale land was a bit odd.
  3. La guerra dei robot (1978 ) - I can't help wonder how or why the translators called one of the characters 'General Gonad' but I'm sure they had their reasons. I can recommend La guerra dei robot for many many reasons: the delirious script, "It's crazy! A harvest of human flesh!" the music, which is dead pure early experimental synthocrap; the 'climactic' space battle, which is one of the dullest and most repetitive pieces of film making ever committed to screen - and I do include some of Andy Warhol's early efforts here; but mostly I recommend it because its got Yanti Somer wearing skin tight wet-look leather. And that can't be bad.
  4. Maverick (1994) - Enjoyable nonsense.
  5. Danger: Diabolik (1968 ) - A Trash Masterpiece. One of the best scores Morricone wrote. And the sexy as hell Marisa Mell never looked better. Love it.
  6. Stranger than Fiction (2006) - In which Will Ferrel finds an odd enough script that allows him to go for a career switch serious role without pissing off his comedy fans (like Jim Carey did with the Truman Show) which I was thoroughly enjoying till it fell to bits and copped out in the last couple of minutes. God damn the Hollywood upbeat fucking 'can't kill the hero' endings. That was the whole point of the film! He had to die!
  7. Inferno (1980) - Dario Argento's semi-sequel to his Susperia.I've never seen Susperia. I think I may have to go look it out. Inferno wasn't a good film by any means - basically the same old same old Italian horror shtick with endless corridor wandering characters fumbling their way to gruesome deaths - this time accompanied by a thundering bonkers OTT score by a third of thundering bonkers OTT prog-rockers Emerson, Lake and Palmer (the Emerson third). Parts of it were so odd that I just have to see the original.Inferno is another of the, now released uncut, Video Nasties of the 1980s.
  8. The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962) - a rewatch of a particularly wonderful bad film with some great great lines. I particularly liked our mad doctor's speech to his assistant when we first see the (accidentally) severed head of his fiancée being kept alive by three test tubes, a bubbling beaker of Ingredient X, and a couple of G cramps: "What you see is real. What I've done, I've done, and what I've done is right - it's the work of science." Amen.
  9. Liar (1997) - interesting.
  10. The Lodger (2009) - the seventh or so screen version of Marie Belloc Lowndes' Jack the Ripper story. Pretty dull despite the ADHD camera work. No style left unturned - including a clumsy and pointless Hitchcock homage far too early in the show to make any sense. Second film in a row with the central American part played by an British actor - the part was central, the character wasn't someone from Belize or Honduras - Tim Roth in Liar and Alfred Molina in this.
  11. Django (1966) Over-long (at 90 minutes it dragged) plotless, rambling Spaghetti Western which only exists to make Sergio Leone's films look like staggering works of genius. (Which in some ways they are.)
  12. The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu (2009) - short, very cheap, occasionally vaguely funny, comedy based on the works of H P Lovecraft (there's a idea you don't see every day).
  13. The Army of the Dead (2008 ) - incredibly tedious, lost in the desert, re-awakening an ancient curse, horror shot on digital (the second unit stuff looks like it was done with a camcorder, as if they had decided to do some found footage but forgot when it came to the edit.) After watching it about hour (or rather staring at the screen waiting for something to happen) I flipped up the DVD player's On Screen Display to discover that only about 30 minutes had passed. After that the most fun I had with this was spotting all the usual zero budget, zero wit fuckups; those moments where you saw the tyre tracks of vehicles from the rehearsal or first take in virgin desert - often in fairly tight shots, moments where 30 seconds with a brush would have eliminated them. The moments where you see shadows of crew members when there shouldn't be anyone else around; and the really lovely moment where our hero and heroine, holed up in the middle of the night in 'an abandoned radio station' try to ignore the daylight coming through the holes in the blinds because no one had bothered to drape a piece of blackout material the other side of the window (or the other side of the blind for that matter. It's not as if anyone had to leave the room to do this.). Badly written, ploddingly directed and most of the 'actors' involved would have trouble holding down a day job as a walk on part in a daytime soaps. Crap, but, worse than that, boring crap.
  14. Mystery Men (1999) - Umpteenth watching.
  15. Split Second (1992) - Another Rutger Hauer SF movie that I'd never heard of until I found it in a charity shop. Just how many straight to obscurity SF films did this bloke make? This one is set in the not too distant future of four years ago ( 2008 ) and is the usual mismatched buddy cops chasing serial killer crap set in a London ankle deep in water, overrun with rats, and populated by people like Michael J Pollard, Kim Cattrall, and Pete Postlethwaite. Once the film has laboriously set up the usual mismatched buddy cops chasing serial killer crap set in a London ankle deep in water stuff - it then lurches about, crashing helplessly from one undercooked cliché to another and getting progressively more desperate and crapper as it does so - till some sort of critical mass of stupidities is reached, and then someone (probably the cast) suddenly decided they were making a comedy and for the last third it turns into quite a weirdly, OTT, stupidly funny film - till the crappy rubber monster turns up in the last couple of minutes. Then it falls flat on its arse again.
  16. Barbarella ( 1968 ) - again. I like Barberella.
  17. Alien Cargo ( 1999 ) - A made for TV movie that looks like it's going to be yet another deep space OMIGOD! THERE'S SOMETHING ELSE ON-BOARD EATING PEOPLE! piece of SF wallpaper but turns out (after a clunky opening act) to be a not bad piece of 'hard SF' with no huge plasma guns, no self-destruct buttons, no men in rubber suits or any of the other usual Sci-Fi channelly crap. An amazingly unusual downbeat ending too. Not that the ending is amazing but the fact that it is downbeat at all is remarkable - our likeable hero and heroine don't make it. They're not dead at the end of the film but they are well and truly fucked and resigned to their fate, and have just said goodbye to their only hope of rescue. It's a good inevitable ending. I have watched far too many films where some amazingly out of nowhere, pulled out of the scriptwriter's arse, twist ending saves everyone in the last minutes of the film. Sometimes when a film has engaged me, and even when I like the characters in deadly peril, I sometimes just sit there willing the film to end badly. Sometimes I want the film-makers to have the courage to let the story run where it has to and not manufacture a happy ending just to keep the card-filling preview audiences from having to actually think. Five stars to these guys for doing that. EDIT: Thinking about it, the ending totally saves this film. Even though I called it a 'not bad piece of 'hard SF'' it still had more than its fair share of "...erm, I'm not sure that's right", and "Ooh, isn't that handy for our heroes," moments. Most of them forgiven, in hindsight, because of the ending. (No stars to me for splitting that infinitive.)
  18. Encounters in the Deep (1979) - There are some films which are just bafflingly hypnotic in their dullness. Encounters in the Deep is an Italian Spanish co-production set in the Bermuda Triangle in which nothing happens, then it happens again, and then again and then, in case you missed it the first couple of times, the who cast diligently do nothing again - again, sometimes underwater, and then it just stops after an extremely boring sequence of nothing happening which may (or may not) be the climax of the film.
  19. Centurion (2010) - Deliverance with Romans.
  20. My Darling Clementine (1946) - Great film. (apart from that producer added shitty studio insert shot right at the end).
Abandoned: The Sect (1991) pointless plotless rambling mess of a horror film with Dario Argento's name on it. It looked like a rough cut. I got bored. 112 June
  1. A Cinderella Story (2004) - tedious reworking of Cinderella as Valley High School Teen Romance. Boring, predictable and utterly forgettable. The box of the DVD had a review on the front describing the film as 'harmless'.
  2. The Fifth Element (1997) - fun.
  3. Warlords of Atlantis ( 1978 ) - Friday night fun with the kids.
  4. Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (1980) - A film I have been wanting to see again for years and today I find it on the shelves of The Works. I giggled myself stupid. Mrs JM stared at it in stony faced silence for 20 minutes then rolled over and fell asleep.
  5. Kiss Me, Kill Me (aka Baba Yaga 1973) - semi-surreal lesbian erotic BDSM arty Italian Euro-sleeze voodoo cobblers based on a comic book:
    I think I want to read the comic book more than I want to see the film again.
  6. The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970) - not as funny as it could have been fag-end of the satire boom.
  7. Star Wars II : Send in the Clones - Gods, what a dull film! Lucas has a real tin ear for dialogue.
  8. The Double Life of Veronique (1991) - having been intrigued by the soundtrack for a couple of years it was a joy to finally see this. A beautiful film.
  9. Pluto Nash (2002) - Ah well. I had heard it wasn't good but it was more than not good; it was awful. I don't think I have had my intelligence insulted so often in so short a time for quite a while, and I watch some real mind-bogglingly stupid films. Which is a shame really because the writer's previous film was the slightly brilliant Mystery Men. Nothing worked. Nothing. Apart maybe from the sexy 'female' robot, she had a nice bum. But when it gets to the point that the best thing you can say about a film is that a bit part player had a cute arse you know you're in trouble. I watch plenty of films where nothing works and often the fun to be gained by watching them is by being surprised by the new and interesting ways the wheels fall off. In this film nothing worked so predictably it was boring. Watching people spending stupidly vast amounts of money ($100,000,000) on a mediocre script is not amusing.
  10. The Missionary (1980) - mostly because I'm reading Palin's diaries of the period and mostly because it's a funny little film.
  11. The Last Mimzy (2007) - a not bad kid's SF film based on a classic SF story which I found myself liking a lot more than I was expecting. Not perfect by any means, the story was a bit shonky from time to time. The whole 'Homeland Security' plotline was very very shaky and called for some real soap opera, 'as you very well know' type writing to get on it's feet quickly, but the sequences with the kids discovering what the toys could do were wonderful. No guns (almost), no explosions, no stupid car chases, no adults humiliated to make kids laugh, and no real 'Baddies' to hiss and boo. A grown-up tale for kids (almost). Daughter number 2 was enraptured.
  12. The Night Evelyn Came out of the Grave - La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba (1971) - again. Second time I've watched this bit of Italian 70's Eurosleaze this year. (And the second copy I have bought.) This time though I could actually see what what happening on the screen. Compare this screen capture to the one I posted above from the previous copy I suffered back in February:

    Being able to see what was happening didn't help much. It was still incomprehensible shite.
124

July
  1. Mirrormask - repeat viewing.
  2. War of the Worlds (1953) - A wonderfully crisp clear and gorgeous transfer which really showed the Three Strip Technicolor off beautifully. Daughter number one has been wanting to see this ever since we read the book. Her verdict, " Bits were creepy but it got very religious at the end".
  3. The Spanish Prisoner (1997) - I love the way David Mamet plays with conversation and words and he really shows off here. I also quite fancy his wife.
  4. Forbidden Plant (1956) - part of my summer 'Introduce the girls (aged 10 + 7) to some of the Great SF movies before all the teenage, 'you know, d'uh, that's, like, so Old...' cynicism shit kicks in project'. They loved it. I was struck for the first time - after many viewings - how incredibly hammy some of Walter Pidgeon's moves are. That arm throwing gesture he makes as he dies is dead pure Victorian melodrama.
    Quote:
    Morbius: The fool! The meddling idiot! As though his ape's brain could contain the secrets of the Krell!
  5. Dark Crystal (1982) - - Not a film you watch for the plot. It's one of those films that you watch for the art direction. The kids loved it. (So did I.)
  6. Sax Rohmer's The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969) - Damn! I just love the way Jess Franco made total simulacra of movies. He's directed 194 films to date and all the ones I have seen have been awful. Nothing much happens in Sax Rohmer's The Castle of Fu Manchu: Christopher Lee gets to stand about a lot in a variety of Mandarin costumes while trying to deliver his lines without moving his face - in case his make-up falls off. The set piece disasters, engineered by Fu Manchu, are hacked out of other films and make very little sense in their new context - especially as one of them is in black and white and obviously shows the Titanic going under (intercut with devilish Fu Manchu and his minions in full glorious colour throwing levers). Another genius moment has a very Spanish looking Chinese assassin throwing a hand-grenade and the explosion it makes is cut from B&W WW2 newsreel footage. Not even the presence of seriously hubba-hubba! Italian trash crumpet hotness (Lady Frankenstein herself) Rosalba Neri - getting soaking wet in a torn shirt - does much to lift the interest levels!

    What is utterly fascinating (to me at least) is the way Franco tries to edit his footage (and other people's) to give the impression that something is going on. There's one superb example in here. There's a sequence (hah!) where Fu, daughter and several Chinese henchmen of variable ethnicity are doing something scientific and evil at a bench covered in mad scientist glassware filled with various coloured water with bits of dry ice dropped in the bottom. Bubble bubble bubble. Cut to Christopher Lee's eyes. Cut to bubbling. Cut to Chinese person. Cut to bubbling. Cut to the actress playing Fu's daughter. Cut to bubble. Cut to eyes. Bubble. Eyes. Lee. Daughter. Bubble. Keep cutting like this but faster and faster... keep going... keep going... keep going.... Then stop. Well, that filled up a few minutes of screen time.... What shall we do now? A whole movie where nothing happens but lots of editing and camera zooms try to give the impression that it does. Great stuff.
  7. Cómo ser mujer y no morir en el intento (aka How To Be A Woman And Not Die In The Attempt 1991) - dull, episodic, Spanish middle-class marriage 'comedy' which showed just how fabulous Pedro Almodóvar's movies really are.
  8. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) - Pizza night choice of Daughter Number 2 - funnier and weirder than I remember. The music is wonderful.
  9. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) - kept the kids amused. I spent most of my time looking at Vanessa Hudgens' bum and trying to keep my snide comments as quite as possible. "Now they run!"
  10. Ghosts on the Loose (1943) - I'll watch anything with Bela Lugosi in it even if only once. He doesn't appear much in this one; his time in the studio was probably measured in hours rather than days. The only other reason to watch it is because it's one of Ava Gardner's first real parts. Not that she does a lot either, just stands about looking statuesque.
  11. Orders to Kill ( 1958 ) - Somewhat great and undeservedly obscure war film from Anthony Asquith. In it a former bomber pilot is parachuted into France to kill a member of the Resistance who may have turned informant. Faced with having to kill a likeable human being, face to face - instead of pressing a button and dropping tons of high explosives, the agent baulks and starts to question the morality of his orders.
  12. Salute of the Juggers (aka Blood of Heroes 1989) - a rewatch of one of the seemingly infinite number of SF movies that Rutger Hauer made after Blade Runner. For years it was essential to anyone who wanted to make a low-budget SF film with any kind of kudos to hire him. It's a post apocalyptic sports film - and it's great. A cracker of a forgotten film. Except it isn't totally forgotten. There are international leagues now playing 'Jugger' the game invented for the film - though with slightly less ultra-violence and no dogs' skulls.
  13. The Abyss (1989) - which I had never seen before and now consider the three hours I spent watching the extended Special Edition Director's Cut With Added Patronisingly Simplistic Message Content to be utterly wasted. Wish I'd watched the shorter funnier version, though I suspect I would have lost my patience with it at the same point. Our hero falls for 30 minutes straight down the abyss, buffeted and bouncing off a undersea cliff, and lands RIGHT NEXT to the nuclear bomb he has come to defuse - and then we have the whole 'don't cut the blue wire' gag? Oh Come on!
  14. The Corpse Bride (2005) - Friday Night (a night late) film choice of Daughter Number One who told me this afternoon that her favourite song at the moment is Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue's haunting murder ballad, Where the Wild Roses Grow. Looks like I have a tweenage protogoth on my hands.
  15. Incubus (1966) - William Shatner in Art House Esperanto horror movie thought lost to the world (after the negative and all known prints were destroyed) until a subtitled copy turned up in France. The Scy-Fy channel coughed up for a restoration job which put English subtitles over the French. It has spelling mistakes.
  16. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) - George Lucas has apparently stopped directing films Hurrah! Tonight, to complete my kids' exposure to the Star Wars saga I finally got round to watching the last of them. Dear Gods! what a marathon bore it was. The kids were yawning and fidgeting by the 90 minute mark and I was prepared to scream if I saw another establishing shot of a space craft aproaching a landing pad, rotate 180º, unfold legs, and touchdown. Enough already!
  17. Mulholland Drive (2001) - just to get the taste of Star Wars out of my head I crammed it full of David Lynchy weirdness and Naomi Watts' tits.
  18. Love and Other Catastrophes (1996) - delightful, undemanding, tiny budget feel-good romantic Australian comedy. Chosen at random, without knowing anything about it, from my huge pile of VHS tapes I have never watched. The film turned out to be my second in a row to feature the adventures of a blonde/brunette lesbian couple. This time though there was a happy ending - and jolly fun it was too. To add spooky coincidence icing to the serendipity cake, the director of Love and Other Catastrophes has only directed one other feature film, Strange Planet, which starred - da da dahhhhh! Naomi Watts. (How did people live without the IMDb?)
Abandoned in July:
Full Alert (1997) Hong Kong Cop film which may well have been as good as some of the reviewers on IMDb think but was rendered unwatchable by fucking awful dubbing. Two American voice actors in a tiny echoing room (I know what I mean) doing all the voices. Impossible.
Soul Survivors
(2001) - about twelve minutes into this - not that I was timing it or anything but we were just coming up to the well foreshadowed but unexpected 'Inevitable twist-of-fate that would send the story off in a new direction' that all the screen-writing books tell you should happen at the fifteen minute mark - and I got bored. As it was a cert. 12 there was very little chance of the rather attractive (in a blonde stereotypical Hollywood actress way) lead, Melissa Sagemiller, getting naked so I didn't bother sticking with it. (The words, 'Melissa Sagemiller getting naked', now return four thousand six hundred and one results on Google.) Edit: by the middle of the month: 1,050,000 results! Popular girl.
Leprechaun (1993) - An evil, sadistic Leprechaun goes on a killing rampage in search of his beloved pot of gold. Jennifer Aniston's first movie. After 20 or so minutes I realised the best joke of the whole film comes in the first few minutes: evil leprechaun recoils with full Christopher Lee style hissing from a four-leafed clover held like a crucifix. It went downhill very fast after that, even Aniston's rather cute hot-pant clad buttocks couldn't keep me interested....
Repo: The Genetic Opera
( 2008 ) - utter shit.

August
  1. Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael (1991) - gentle little teen romance from the writer of Airplane! and The Naked Gun. And my third film on the trot to have a blonde/brunette lesbian couple - albeit as a very minor subplot. Someone is stacking my random VHS pile.
  2. The Comic (1985) the second film directed by Richard Driscoll that I have seen this year (the first was Kannibal back in January). I really need to see the other 5 or so - if only to see The Legend of Harrow Woods; any film with Rik Mayall, Norman Wisdom, and Christopher Walken! in it has to be looked at. The Comic is a masterpiece of incoherence. There's not a shot in this that isn't wrong, including the most inept and pointless dolly zoom I have ever seen. My favourite though, is the long shot of the dock in which our protagonist delivers his daughter to the people who are going to smuggle her to 'safety'. He's been told to be "at the dock at 9:30" or the boat "will sail without her". The long shot of him handing over his daughter that immediately follows this stern admonition is, for some reason, taken from a high angle, a really high angle, it's high enough for us to see all the fishing boats in the harbour sitting like stranded ducks on the mudflats waiting for the tide to return in about, oh, I dunno, four or five hours...? Often, while I'm watching dreadful shite like this, I try to work out what the production meetings must have been like. How did Driscoll - who not only 'directed' but 'wrote' this turd - get anyone to give him the money to make it?

    "It's like Eraserhead but in colour!"
    "Sounds great but what's the story, Mr Driscoll?"
    " Story...? Erm... Did I mention I've got an actress who'll get her tits out cheap?"
  3. Witchcraft (1988 aka Ghosthouse 2, La Casa 4, Evil Encounters, etc.) Eurotrash schlock horror filmed in the US with David Hassellhoff and Linda Blair. And it is terrible. Horrible non-script, continuity that jumped the action from day to night to day again in the same scene and some seriously rubbish acting all round. Really rubbish. David Hassellhoff positively shone in a sea of inadequacy. The actress who plays his girlfriend is spectacularly inept; there's not a line she doesn't deliver badly - to be fair, I have to assume she is misdelivering a lot of them because she mumbles so much it's hard to tell. This was her second and last film.

    The film did allow me the opportunity to formulate another of the endless, 'Why is it in American films that...?' questions. In this case, 'Why is it in American films that people having nightmares are always sleeping on their backs?' - the answer, obviously, is because you cannot suddenly sit bolt upright gasping with fright and covered in a thin sheen of sweat when you're lying on your belly. Next....
  4. Nightmaster (1987 aka Watch the Shadows Dance) an early Nicole Kidman film that would have completely vanished from the world's collective memory if it she wasn't in it. In a 'near future' (hah!) Australian high school kids play a dangerous ninja game in an abandoned building. Boring, leaden paced shite. Low point being the moment towards the 'climax' when our gone slightly loopy ace kickboxer ninja martial artist war veteran drug addict teacher ties a red scarf around his arm. The only reason he ties a red scarf around his arm is to let the audience know which of the dozen or so identically black-clad ninja types crawling around in the dark is him. Pathetically lazy film making.
  5. Caged Women ( aka Caged - Le prede umane 1991) - Sweaty women in Jail film which got rejected by the BBFC in the UK and only passed after some 20+ minutes got cut. The DVD version I have runs at 72 minutes, 7 minutes longer than the 2001 Video version of 65 minutes. So at some point some footage managed to get reinstated but not all. I don't think I missed much - though the statutory lesbian rape scene (Women in Prison films have tick boxes) was so short that it was almost invisible.
  6. One Down Two to Go (1983) - Late entry in the Blaxploitation genre with a dream Blaxploitation cast: Fred 'Nigger Charley' Williamson, Jim 'Slaughter' Brown, Jim 'Enter the Dragon' Kelly, Richard 'Shaft' Roundtree and it's as dull as hell. Though there is sequence that will long live in my memory. About 35 minutes in we get 26 shots taking over four minutes of screen time (including a 50 seconds locked-off shot looking out through a car windscreen) in which we watch two limos delivering two of the name stars to the film. Four minutes of pointless, endless, dialogue-free footage of cars driving about, then people getting out of them and looking smug. Wonderful stuff.
  7. First Great Train Robbery (1978 ) - entertaining enough piece of nonsense with Donald Sutherland looking even more dashing than usual in a stovepipe hat, Sean Connery doing some scary stunt work on top of a train and Lesley Anne Down in a basque and stockings. Something for everybody.
  8. Nights of Terrror (aka Le notti del terrore 1981) - tedious Italian zombie flick with some gratuitous nudity, a modicum of pointless wandering around corridors trying to generate some tension, and lots of gore (I seem to have found an uncut version 13 minutes were cut before it got a certificate on its initial release). Watched the last third on FF and don't think I missed any subtleties. Nice line in spelling mistakes in the end titles though. As the last of the protagonists dies under the zombies onslaught in the last shot the image freezes and a caption appears:

    Quote:
    The earth shall tremble.... graves shall open.... they shall come among the living as messengers of death and there shall be the nigths of terror.... "Profecy of the Black Spider"
  9. The Invisible Ghost (1941) - Damn! Seduced by the cover which shows Bela Lugosi in a white lab coat surrounded by generic misguided scientist testy tubey stuff I did not recognise. A new (to me) Lugosi film! Yippee! Unfortunately none of the test tubey stuff (or the white coat) was on display in the film - which it turned out not only had I previously seen, but still own. And a dull little Poverty Row B feature it is too. The disc, bought a car boot sale, is on the notoriously shoddy 23rd Century label. The same image appears on the back cover of their edition of Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster and I know it's not from that film either.
  10. Munchies (1987) - cheap Gremlins knock off that will, I suspect, serve me as a benchmark definition of 'unfunny' for a while. I got giventhis tape in a charity shop - I was robbed. If I tell you it stars Harvey Korman.... I don't really need to write any more do I?
  11. Muppets From Space (1999) - Which I thoroughly enjoyed.
  12. Phoenix (1995) - not the Phoenix from 1998 with Ray Liotta who was one of the highlights of Muppets From Space, far too much of a coincidence. Nope, this Phoenix is a real slapdash piece of military 'sci-fi', straight to car boot sale, shite with great chunks of it looking like it was shot in the production office. It was only half way through this turd that we found out that the scenes taking place in what looked, for all the world, like mid 90's LA interiors were in fact supposed to be taking place on 'Centauri III' in the distant future. The Maguffin in the film is a mineral that contains bacteria (sic) which 'evolves' androids into developing emotions and being impervious to plasma weapons (thus neatly, a: explaining all the, by then, ancient machine guns that our 'heroes' have to use to blast everything that moves and b: slashing thousands of dollars from the budget as machine guns are cheap in LA, SFXing in laser blasts is labour intensive and expensive.) Maybe it's a measure of my brilliance or the films dumbness but (without having read the blurb on the back of the box) I had worked out the hero was really an android who didn't know he was an android before the word 'android' was even mentioned in the script.
  13. Kiss Me Monster (1969) - another incomprehensible mess from Jess Franco. This attempt at a synopsis by a review on IMDb sums it all up far better than I could:
    Quote:
    Two women, posing as a nightclub act, go to an island to investigate something. Everywhere they go, people (I have no idea who these people are) end up dying - sometimes stabbed in the back while in mid-sentence. Of course there's no sign of the killer. Eventually, I think they find whatever it is they're looking for because there is much rejoicing.
    I rather enjoyed it.
  14. My Date With Drew (2005) - normally I run a mile from 'challenge' TV. The sort of 'documentaries' that pose some pointless goal for hopeless wanabees to fail at one by one. And I'm less than interested in well fed, self-obsessed American twentysomethings paddling out of their depth in the shallows of minor angst but somewhere after a bit of a shonky start I really came to like this. Armed with $1100 dollars won on a game show a camera they have to return to the shop in 30 days and a lot of well fed, self-obsessed American twentysomething friends an all-American nobody tries to get a date with film actress Drew Barrimore. It's stalking lite. And it's quite funny in places.
  15. Demon House (1997 aka Night of the Demons III) - bunch of obnoxious high-schoolers hide out in a 'possessed' house and die one by one. As if we cared.
  16. The Stendhal Syndrome (1996) - My on/off 'Dario Argento is shit' 'Dario Argento is great' pendulum has just swung right over to the 'great' side of the net. (End mangle metaphor mode.) Not that this film is 'great' but it was certainly disturbingly compulsive watching.
  17. Voyage to the End of the Universewhich is a dreadfully choppy American International re-edit of the chuffing brilliant 1964 Czechoslovakian film Ikarie XB 1. Which I only watched because I couldn't find my copy of the original.

  18. The Church (1989) Tonight, my Dario Argento-meter is definitely reading somewhere between 'crap' and 'very crap'.
Abandoned in August:
Omega Cop (1990) - lacklustre lone-cop in post-apocalyptic future flick with dreadful acting - enlivened only by an ageing Adam 'Batman' West getting a couple of days work as the cop's boss. The sort of stuff I normally love torture myself with but disc died on me about half way through.

September

  1. The Hidden (1987) - Horror buddy cop crap in which Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri (who he?) shoot guns a lot and Claudia Christian gets to sport a set of 'prosthetic breasts' because she padded her bra for the audition and the costumes wouldn't allow her to get away with that for the shoot. I know this sort of stuff!
  2. Inception (2010) - interesting but I ended up pretty uninvolved.
  3. The Wizard of Oz (1939) - post huge Sunday lunch flop film
  4. Gremloids (aka Hyperspace 1984) - a hopeless, very cheap mess of a Star Wars / Encounters of the Third Kind spoof which has nothing going for it apart from the central villain who wears a bucket on his head and all of whose speeches seem to end with the words "...or you will die!". For some, nearly inexplicable, reason I am very fond of this film. There's something about its haplessness and the enthusiasm with which it was obviously made that is just a tad inspiring. Wish I knew exactly what it was that makes me like it so much. I do know however that will be admonishing my kids (who watched it with me) in a mock Darth Vaderian voice for the next few days:

    "Okay, girls, time to wash your hands for dinner ... or you will die!"

    My eldest is fed up with me doing it already.
  5. Terror Train (1980) - Somewhere in Los Angeles in the late seventies, in a dark and secret room, were three barrels. The barrels were full of small pieces of paper each with a single word written on them. Every full moon, studio executives high on coke and naked, save for Gucci bondage gear, ritually sacrificed their personal assistants on an altar before their phallic golden idol. Smeared with their victims' blood, the executives then called upon the chthonic gods of Hollywood to bless them at the box office. The high priest summoned forth three of the anointed and, as one, they plunged their arms deep into the barrels. Each pulled out a single piece of paper, opened it, and then read what was writ thereupon: 'Frat Party' read the first, 'Psycho-killer' read the second, 'Train' read the third. There was a moment's silence. Heads were bowed. The gods had spoken. An acolyte picked up the phone and dialled Jamie Lee Curtis...
  6. Son of Rambow (2007) - I wanted to like this so much but in the end was bored, irritated, and just wished it would stop. Some films just don't know how to end and this was one of them. If I hadn't been watching it in company I would have abandoned it.
  7. Transamerica (2005) - I love watching films where I have never seen the actors before. They are who they are portraying. It's not (deep American movie trailer man voice in your head please) "MegaStar X is Johhny Hero..." time. My copy of this film is a BAFTA, 'For Your Consideration' screener which has about the plainest vanilla cover I have ever come across: film's title on the front and spine, and a tickbox list of all the categories for which it has been nominated on the back. Not even an age rating. Strange the things you find in Fort William Charity shops. I've never seen Desperate Housewives. I was still not sure if the actor playing the transsexual hero of this film was male or female until the end credits rolled. Why Felicity Huffman didn't get an Oscar is a wonder. A hell of a performance. Loved it. I was in tears at the end.
  8. Bridge to Terabithia (2007) - and I was in tears for a great chunk of this one too. Daughter number one was inconsolable.
  9. The Beast Must Die (1974) - The pitch: The Most Dangerous Game meets Ten Little Indians - with werewolves! How could it fail? It did. Very dull.
  10. Scorcher (2002) - by the numbers cheapo 'action' movie in which the world is doomed to an early spanking by Chinese underground bomb tests accelerating tectonic plate activity, which will lead to a runaway greenhouse gas, which will something something ill-thought (through very sciencey) babble blah blah.... Look. Just take it from us we're father / daughter scientists - with relationship problems - but we have LAPTOPS! so we know what we're talking about... The world's doomed unless we explode a nuclear bomb under Los Angeles. Get me the sweaty, sexist, insubordinate hero-type that rescued the maverick scientist's daughter just after the credits, he's got a team of misfit stereotype hero type chums but let's send along a creepy agency man in case he drops a ball - sorry 'drops THE ball'. My god! Hero boy's estranged daughter is trapped in the city.... the ironic troubled father/daughter parallels! but wait! There's been a miscalculation... They need two simultaneous explosions at the same depth ten miles apart and there's only eight hours left... and the Agency man has killed half the team because.... well some reason.... oh, you know the rest.... It's the sort of film where the hero not only takes along a spare nuclear bomb just in case the first one doesn't go off but he can carry it in a duffel bag and run vast distances with it without breaking a sweat. Scorcher turns up on the Movies4Men channel a lot but I seem to have accidentally bought a copy. I think I was seduced by Rutger Hauer's name on the front. He must have been on set for the whole of two days.
  11. Warrior of the Lost World (1983) Cheap surreally languid Italian post-apoc bollocks with spelling mistakes in the opening title preamble. Not a lot of dialogue after that and most of it is along the lines of:

    "Come on!"
    "Move it!"
    "Let's go..."
    "Move it!"
    "We got company....! Let's go."
    "Come on!"
    "Let's get out of here...."

    When they are talking that is, most of the time it's:

    Thwap!
    Grunt!
    Ugh!
    Thud!
    Oof!
    Argh!
    Blamamamamamamamama!
    Kaboom!


    During one of the fights the hero actually throws a dwarf at his opponent.
  12. Octaman (1971) - in an unnamed 'primitive South American country' (populated by three white people doing Mexican bandit accents) a group of scientists discover a man squid hybrid mutant monster which then kills most of them. Any resemblance to 1954 monster movie classic The Creature from the Black Lagoon is wishful thinking on the director's part. (He not only directed but wrote this flaccid pile of marching mollusc poo - and also wrote The Creature from the Black Lagoon.) One of those films where day and night are interchangeable from shot to shot within the same scene and even after they have edited together every single inch of footage they ran through the camera (there can be no other explanation) - it still only runs to 76 minutes. Boring as hell. I fell asleep.
  13. Hellbound: Hellraiser II ( 1988 ) - well that was fun in a bloody messy horrible splattery but strangely erotic and dreamlike way. Some really nice camera moves.
  14. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992) - there are another seven Hellraiser films. I don't think I'll bother. This one just stepped off the quality shelf, the first was viscerally horrible and low budget odd. The second was erotic and dreamlike. The third is just another body horror special effects movie. It's also the first filmed in America, not Britain hurriedly dressed to look like America. In an extra on this disc the actor who plays Pinhead, the monster at the heart of these films, says that in this one they released the character from the constraints imposed on him in the first two. He can literally now do anything. And that's where I loose interest. When horror characters are omnipotent story becomes unimportant and just an excuse to hang gory set pieces on. Don't care any more.
  15. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure ( 1988 ) - for the umpteenth time and for the first time in widescreen, not on a cropped VHS.
  16. The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012) - in the local community cinema. With an audience of kids. As it should be. great fun.
  17. The Legend of Harrow Woods (2011 maybe) - The third Richard Driscoll film of the year, or maybe half of a third and half of a fourth stitched together. From what I can gather, from watching the extras on this disc, the cast thought they were appearing in a British Blair Witch type ripoff while trying to do American accents. At one point one of them refers to characters who don't appear on screen - or at least not in the way she describes them. (The film they thought they were making seems to have been called Alone in the Dark and, I suspect, most of them were glad that it looked like it would never be released). Running alongside this terribly dull, and seemingly plotless but predictable, wandering around in the woods shit is another strand of 'surreal', sepia-toned stuff which seems to have come from a totally different film. In the sepia sections Puritans burn witches at the stake in 1843, Rik Mayall and Norman Wisdom play the same bathroom attendant, and the director gets to do a scene where he is pawed by eight(?) naked women, two of whom indulge in limp sapphic fondling in a urinal before turning their attention to him (I wonder just how long he agonised before casting himself in the part). To add confusion to the bewilderment, the aspect ratio of shots changes from time to time (found footage, straight to camcorder stuff obviously shot at 4:3 is stretched to 16:9 and many shots presented in 16:9 look strangely cropped - people's heads go out of frame a lot of the time.) The sepia dream movie sequences are much better composed (apart from one glorious moment where our director completely blocks the only decent actor in the whole show (Rik Mayall) and we get to stare at the back of his head for a bit). The sepia stuff was possibly originally meant to be part of a film called The Raven, or Evil Calls, or The Raven: Episode One - Evil Calls as it is known on its 2011 DVD release.

    To add even more bewilderfusion to the fact that there are two different versions of a film made up of parts of at least two other separate (possibly uncompleted) films, The Raven: Episode One - Evil Calls seems to contain all the wandering around in the woods stuff from Alone in the Dark but not Christopher Walken's voice reading Poe's 'The Raven' which appeared in The Legend of Harrow Woods. (At least his name does not appear on the IMDb credits - though it is mentioned as being there in the 2008 release as detailed in MJ Simpson's delicious and exhaustive review.) I am now thoroughly confused but I think there are at least two other versions of this film knocking about under a variety of titles. I may have to buy them.

    Driscoll's films have all the hallmarks of an auteur hard at work. There is something uniquely Driscolly about the three that I have seen. They are all hypnotically uniquely bad, totally derivative, and incomprehensible in equal measures. Another common factor seems to be that actors don't work much in film after working for him. For most of the first-time unknowns appearing here, this (these?) is their only screen credit to date. This time the poor actress persuaded to get naked for the camera at the start of her career was the rather yummy Kathryn Rooney who, I'm glad to say, has gone on to make a decent looking career on the stage.

    My favourite moment was a truly inspired bit of bad acting from Jason Donovan
    as the wiz kid computer geek web master 'dude'. For some inexplicable reason the whole of the wandering around in the woods stuff is being streamed live to 'the internet' with Jason webmastering like crazy (while he's not looking at sweaty semi-naked, girls-with-guns, pornsite Actionsgirls.com (...erm... ) ...anyway! While he's not looking at other stuff on the web, (or sorting his 3.5" floppies) he's keeping an eye on events in the woods. Suddenly! the signal goes down and the half of his monitor screen that contains the streaming image window fills with a huge red on black blinking message, 'Connection Terminated... Connection Terminated... Connection Terminated... ' (Not a dialogue box mind you, a huge, filling the screen, animated graphic, like something out of a 1983 thriller from back in the days when computers were new and exciting, and no one but geeks knew what error messages were, let alone looked like). So, what does our ace webmaster do when presented with 'Connection Terminated... Connection Terminated... ' filling half his screen? The rest of the screen, by the way, is still filled with all the buttons and sliders that were there before. Answer. He hits the monitor on the side like it was a badly tuned TV set. Whack! If all my connectivity issues could be solved that easily.

    I also felt
    really sorry for whoever was waggling the bit of cardboard in front of the orange light (off screen right) at one point. Whoever it was was supposed to be simulating the flickering of firelight on the faces of two unrehearsed actors locked in an interminable conversation. The whole conversation was covered in one shot. By the end of it the firelight is flickering at about half the rate it was at the start. The poor bugger's wrists must have been giving out.
  18. Pour Elle (2008 ) - what a cracker! best £1 spent in the Poundshop for ages. Remade two years later as The Next Three Days starring Russell Crowe . I shalln't bother with the remake. It's bound to be... let us say, not as good.
  19. Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004) - The original was an amiable, very girly, Disney film held together by a likable performance from (then) newcomer Anne Hathaway. The sequel is a flacid waste of time. Both annoying and boring at the same time, a difficult trick but they managed it.
  20. Neon City (1991) - Last time I watched this a couple of years ago I wasn't that impressed:
    Quote:
    A very long 99 minutes. Not quite boring exactly but not as interesting as the people who made it thought it was.
    I think I was a bit wrong. It's not the greatest film in the world but it has its moments. As post Mad Max blighted-world remakes of Stagecoach go it up there with the best of them. (That's the rewatch of something in the vast pile of Big Box VHS tapes to justify their continued presence over and done with for the month. Back to the new Old Shit again... )
  21. TRON: Legacy (2010) - The original Tron, has been for a long time (well since I saw it in the cinema back in 1983) a treasure I have loved and kept close to me, hugged to my chest. It's mine. I own Tron. I've been dreading/avoiding the sequel for a couple of years now. How dare they!? But I screwed up my courage tonight. Once we got past the incredibly clunky info-dumping first few minutes and into the digital 'Grid' world things get to be quite fun. (This is also true of the original. Much as I love it, the first act of Tron is a bit very not good by any standards.) Maybe it was me going into it with very low expectations but, once I'd discarded the notion that I was going to be diverted by any kind of real story, and just let the eye-candy design fireworks take over the easily pleased bits of my brain, I quite enjoyed it. (I had eaten a lot of sugary stuff just before I sat down; maybe that helped.) I'm never going to love it like I love Tron, but as a techno-fetish lightshow it wasn't bad. Disney does Skin Two.

    ...and the score was terrific.
  22. Silver Dream Machine (1980) - another from the Big Box VHS pile. Meh to 'yeah, right! Like that's going to happen!' story of motorbike racing. A curiously populated film which, though set in the UK, must have employed every American actor in Britain at the time - and a few flown in for the occasion. The production design team strained every sinew make Britain look as much like America as they could. Presumably to make the film as easy as possible to sell to the American market. Thus, ferinstance, during the scene (set in London) where our British, working-class hero's American girlfriend is talking to our British working-class hero's American best friend in a sunlit coffee bar that wouldn't have looked out of place in New York, there is a bloody big American car parked on the road outside the window. No attention is drawn to it. It's not a part of the story. There just happens to be a bloody big American car parked outside. Similarly the funeral scene. American stretch limos for a British funeral in 1980? possible but very unlikely. Incidentally, the British working-class hero's black American best friend (and co-worker, they work in the same garage - sorry, 'auto-shop') is very odd. There's nothing made of his being American, no jokes, no good-natured banter drawing attention to his Americanness as there would be in real life in that environment. He's just there. And he's got a brother! Just another black American who happens to be in London. The casting here is very odd. If these two guys had been white they would have been wrong. An American white guy working as a mechanic in a British garage would have been just weirdly out of place. An American black guy doing the same thing seems, somehow, almost acceptable.
  23. Tales From the Darkside: the Movie (1990) - portmanteau horror film. Great cast with Christian Slater, Julianne Moore, and (a very young looking) Steve Buscemi in the first and best segment which was based on a Conan Doyle short story. The other stories are far less interesting. The 'twist' in the last segment is obvious from very early on.
  24. Das Arche Noah Prinzip ( aka The Noah's Ark Principle 1984) - Roland 'Independence Day' Emmerich's first film. A confusing mess which owes a lot to Ridley Scott type lighting and a love of fire extinguishers used to simulate escaping gassy stuffs in an exploding space ship - though not as many as in his later Moon 44, he used a lot of fire extinguishers on that one. Neither film made much sense.
  25. Brain Twisters (1991) - in which some experiments in psycho kinetic blah blah... turn the test subjects into crazed killers blah blah... evil corporation blah blah... Notable only for the incredibly slow pace at which everything happens. Everything. Establishing shots take an age to establish. People deliver their lines slowly to other people who wait a long time before replying. People walk slowly to places, find something uninteresting, and then walk slowly back to where they came from. It's like watching a film shot in a vat of treacle. Very odd. Shit but odd.
  26. Die Nackte und der Satan (aka The Head 1959) - in which a German mad doctor - a 'Dr. Ood' no less - keeps the disembodied head of his professor mentor alive with bubbling vat of 'Serum Z', and gives a hunchback nurse the body of a bump and grind stripper. Oddly effective. Very sensual and very dreamlike in places - we first meet out hero skulking outside the Prof's lab, his shadow a black silhouette against the wall, he moves into the garden, stops, and picks up a tortoise! which he then examines very closely before diving into the shadows to avoid a hunchback nurse. Odd, very odd. I liked it! Would love to see the original - what I saw was an American dubbed edit. Some scenes were obviously cut short, usually when things were getting a little too racy - the striptease is very abruptly cut and there are other moments where, very conspicuously, clunky censor's scissors have chopped the action when it was getting too erotic.
  27. The Day Time Ended (1979) - I totally agree with myself of seven years ago
  28. Vendetta dal futuro ( aka Hands of Steel 1986) - arm wrestling assassin cyborg goes on the run from an evil corporation run by John Saxon. Grrrrr! Ka-Boom! Grrrrr! Ka-Boom!... for 90 minutes. (Sometimes, right enough, it's Ka-Boom! Grrrrr! but mostly it's Grrrrr! Ka-Boom!)
  29. 984: Prisoner of the Future (aka The Future Man 1982) is a low budget, Canadian, made for TV feature that mashes up the Orwellian and Kafkaesque and makes an interesting hybrid (Kafkawellian?). Not great but, so far, the best thing on the Mill Creek 50 movie box set Sci-Fi Invasion that I'm working my way through at the moment.
October
  1. Los nuevos extraterrestres ( aka Extra Terrestrial Visitors 1983) Currently number 29 in the Bottom 100 films of all time list on IMDb. And deservedly so. I really can't work out what the makers thought their target audience was with this one. Basically it's a no budget wandering around in the woods with a killer beasty, in which a 'rock band', taking a break from recording, and a couple of poachers get killed off one by one by alien hatchlings. Unfortunately the alien beasty looks (and moves) like Mumfie on acid)

    Parallel to this wandering about in broad daylight pretending its nightime stuff is another plotline in which an annoying brat hatches one of the alien eggs and has the critter that emerges grow overnight to be exactly the same size as a small child in a Mumfie fright mask and fur coat. Anoyingly cute, post ET friendship ensues. With 'Trumpy' (as annoying brat christens Darth Mumfie) demonstrating his alien powers by sucking up peanuts through his nose, doing jigsaws by just looking at them, making the annoying brat's telescope show stock footage of African animals, and causing the contents of his entire bedroom dance about in that stop-motion pointless moving things about way that Serge Danot used to make The Magic Roundabout. This last sequence is almost immediately followed by one of the band characters saying, "Fuck this 'back to nature' crap!" Real mixed messages.
  2. El caballero del dragón (aka Star Knight 1985) - Sometime in non-specific long-ago time, when a Count's daughter was known as a 'princesses' (sic), Harvey Keitel runs around delivering mock mediaevalistic dialogue in a New York accent. It's the best New York mediaevalistic delivery since Tony Curtis, though "Yonder is da castle of my Fadda" gets a close run when the star of Mean Streets gets to call someone a "poltroon". Quite why he's doing all this is a mystery as most of the rest of the cast are delivering their dialogue without a sniff of a 'thee' or 'thou' or even a 'st' at the end or every other verb. Klaus Kinsky plays an alchemist and actually stays well this side of bonkers for a change - for once he looks like he was enjoying himself, and Fernando Ray is having a whale of a time as the priest; the 'princess' gets naked, there's a bloody big spaceship at the bottom of the lake, and a telepathic alien in a sexy rubber suit. What's not to like? The script stank.
  3. Hyper Sapien: People from Another Star (1986) limp amiable gentle family SF which I will have forgotten in a week. Above average puppetry for the cute three legged gasoline drinking comedy relief alien pet being the best bit.
  4. Giochi erotici nella 3a galassia (aka Escape From Galaxy 3 , StarCrash 2, Space Trap 1981) Shortly into this piece of Italian poo I had overwhelming deja vu. ALL of the special effects shots from this film come from that favourite piece of Italian cheeze SF, Star Crash. The film makes very little sense, not that anyone was really trying, and eventually dissolves into the softest softcore porn film ever made. Right at the end our heroes pull some hitherto unmentioned shooting lightbeams out of their eyes superpowers out of thin air, dissolve the bad guy and get naked again.
  5. Future Hunters (1986) - This is why I watch this shit! Let me summarise. The film opens with shots of a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland which, 60 Marlboro a day voice-over man informs us is 'The Forbidden Zone'. (I pull out my mental post-apocalyptic movie checklist. Forbidden Zone? Check!) cars appear A chase! The first car is being driven by our hero. It has spikes on the bonnet! He has a mullet! He is wearing leather trousers! (tick! tick! tick!) The bad guys wear black and stand up in their cars to shoot at him (tick!) They have huge automatic machine guns Badadadadadadada! They can't shoot for shit. He fires back. One shot. Their cars explodes. He gets out of his car and fits some sort of missile into a crossbow. (double tick! - though I have deducted one point for the neatly painted white lines down the middle of the post-apocalyptical wastelands well-maintained roads). Kaboom! Second set of bad guys explode. But... Oh Poo! His car explodes! Cut to boss villain (naked-chested crossed bandoleers and a cape! I'm running out of space on the sheet. Only fingerless gloves and open-topped oil barrels with something burning in them to go...) The baddy is sat on a tank. The tank has the word 'ARMY' neatly stencilled on the side just in case we though it might be one of the navy's tanks. More chasing. More Kabooming! Hero is captured. Taken to some desert forty place. He escapes. more Kaboom! More heavy duty machine gun Badadadadadada! He reaches 'The Temple' and finds 'The Glowing Thing of Destiny' the 60 Marlboro a day voice over man was trying to tell us about at the start of the film. (Something to do with the spear that pierced Christ's side having the ability to transport people back in time to avert apocalypses - if I had to read shit like that out as if I meant it I would smoke 60 fags a day too.) - Biggo KABOOM! as ARMY tanks blow up a very small model of the temple. Suddenly it's 1986 and we are looking at young woman with a clipboard and her boring info-dumping boyfriend stood in the un-kaboomed temple. They leave. She has to go open up her restaurant. Suddenly they are attacked by bikers. Biff! Biff! Biff! Scream! Boring boy is KO'd and bikers are having hur.. hur... rape 'fun' with the girl when Mullet Man from the opening sequence appears and rescues the girl. He gets shot in the process but manages to kill all three bikers - one with the 'The Glowing Thing of Destiny' who then crumbles to dust. Holy cow! LA Bikers are tough. This bloke has outrun hundreds of killer goons survived being shot at by tanks and aprox 250 thousand rounds of rapid fire machine gun fire and some priapistic greaser with a .45 gets him in the belly? Time travel sure must take it out of you... To be continued.
  6. The Creeping Terror (1964) - This has long been on my to be watched list. It's been in there for about 25 years, ever since I read about it in the Medved Brother's book Son of Golden Turkey Awards. I'm glad I waited.
  7. The Horrible Sexy Vampire (1970) - Great title that cues some gratuitous nudity - though not enough to make up for all the endless, pointless witering conversations and endless, pointless wandering around looking at furniture which takes up most of the running time. Mind you I do seem to have watched a much truncated version. I would guess a lot of tits and arse got chopped but with the remaining dialogue as dire as this there was still enough to keep me watching.

    To set the scene: a long sequence of shots establishes the Stranger who arrives at a castle near Stuttgard. The Stranger bears an uncanny resemblence to the vampire we have just seen killing several policemen. He tries to get into the castle where the murders took place but he finds it is locked. He gets back in his large red Merc and drives through some scenic parts of Stuttgard and parks right outside a building we are asked to believe is a police station. A uniformed officer salutes him.
    Quote:

    Policeman:
    Good Morning...

    Stranger:

    Good afternoon...
    I'd like to speak to
    your inspector.

    Policeman:

    It's the second floor his office
    is the last door on the right.

    Stranger:

    Thank you.

    CUT TO:

    INT. OFFICE. DAY

    The inspector and the Stranger are sat either side of the Inspector's desk.



    Stranger:
    I arrived from London this morning.
    and found the authorities had sealed all

    the gates in the castle that's

    why I'm bothering you.


    Inspector:

    Mgnnmn. It's no bother,
    Count Oblensky. We're at your

    disposal, sir.


    Stranger:
    .
    I appreciate that. Well, what now?



    Inspector:

    I must confess that I'm obliged that
    you came as our visitor but as to who your

    forebearers (sic) are we've no information,

    you see. Our major difficulty is that

    the last owner had no children.


    Stranger:

    Are you referring to my mother?
    Great stuff.
  8. Le orme (aka Primal Impulse 1975) - I'm not sure why this is included in the mixed bag 'Sci-Fi' 50 film DVD set I'm ploughing my way through at the moment - the only SFish elements are a the dream memory of an SF film the mentally uncertain heroine watched years before the action of the film takes place. In the end she finally slips over the edge and falls into a delusional state where the dream has become reality. If you try really hard I suppose you could stretch your imagination to the point where the black and white bonkers SFy stuff (Klaus Kinski rolling his eyeballs in every direction and yelling at TV screens) is the reality and the woman is a victim of one of his experiments. Interestingly above average stuff either way.
  9. Hundra (1983) - Feminist Sword and - er, well, Sword. Hundra, the last of a tribe of peaceful separatist feminists in some pre-historical but post-Conan past, slaughters the killers of her tribe. She then wanders around spaghetti western landscapes being 'mighty', killing men, attempting to free women from bondage, and get herself pregnant all at the same time. An odd mix of feminist polemic and stereotypical male pleasing, tits and arse, gratuitous sexism. In the end though it all works out well as: Hundra finds a sympathetic man and gets a girl baby (she would have left a boy), all the the evil tribes leaders are slaughtered in slo-mo ultra-violence, and the evil priest is smothered to death when a fat girl sits on his face. Over a quick, inspiring 'off to fulfil her destiny' crane shot and freeze frame. Our voice over narrator warns men there is a little of Hundra in every woman. The End. Ennio Morricone provided his usual stirring stuff on the soundtrack.
  10. Prey ( 1978 ) - a pair of standard movie butch/fem lesbians take an stranger into their house only to find (long after the audience) that he's an evil, carnivorous alien. The most notable thing about this film was it contained an most un-movielike lesbian sex scene. None of that carefully posed Hollywood/Jean Rollin style, lethargic, Aer Lingus*, long distance fondling here. Just good old British snogging and groping. It was the most believable thing in the whole show.

    *The punchline to an ancient, and not very funny, joke about Irish dykes.
  11. The Girl From Rio (aka Future Women 1989) almost comprehensible Jess Franco flick (sic! I know, who'da thunk it?!) with Shirley Easton planning to take over the world with an army of scantly-clad women wearing white kinky boots, PVC capes, and not a lot else. A wet dream. Well, not exactly wet. Damp maybe. (The SF elements in this box set are turning out to be very very thin in places.)
  12. Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1985) - Entertainingly beyond dreadful kiddy sword and sorcery bollocks that had the whole family in hysterics for 72 minutes. Some seriously shit set design, crappy acting, pointless 'action' sequences, and some unbelievably awful writing let us have more fun on a Friday Night Movie and Pizza session since we realised Doctor Who and the Daleks was too stupid not to make fun of. 24 hours later we still haven't worked out the point of one of the major 'characters' in Wizards. The character was a seven foot tall Wookie-like thing, with no visible face, that appeared to be made from old sheepskin rugs sewn together in a dark room. None of us have any idea what it actually did for the whole film. It just stood there and occasionally went 'Gnneor!', at which point someone would say, 'What's that, (insert name of forgettable character here)? dwarfs on horseback heading this way?" or some such plot (hah!) advancing statement. Towards the end of the film - presented with the mind-numbing dilemma of how to keep the audience from noticing the woolly Wookie never actually did anything - the heroes just left him behind. 'See you later' they said, and off they went to the insurmountable obstacle of a raging river and vast waterfall. A noticeable lack of lighting here suggesting a very cheap location shoot - which (Light Bulb!) would explain why they didn't take the Wookie too; one less costume, plane ticket, overnight accommodation etc. (I can be so slow sometimes.) Anyhow, the insurmountable obstacle raging torrent waterfall is crossed when our hero bloke leaps in the river to rescue a passing naked woman from the churning muddy brown waters. (Which prompted this from my eldest: "Look, Dad! A naked woman in chocolate!" - my kids know me so well it's horrifying.) The naked woman turns out to be a mermaid and, because they 'passed the test' of trying to save her, she throws a rainbow across the sky and somehow (not shown on screen or explained) our heroes are on the other bank meeting up with Woolly carpet dude who presumably... just... walked across a bridge? Flew? Tunnelled his way past the expensive to shoot bit? Who knows? Dreadful. There was a sequel.
  13. I predatori di Atlantide (aka The Atlantis Interceptors, The Raiders of Atlantis, 1983) - for some reason known only to the Italian scriptwriter (he didn't bother to tell us) a sunken Russian nuclear submarine triggers the re-emergence of Atlantis from beneath the waves, but only when there are enough American scientists and action hero types around to stop them. The Atlanteans, for some reason known only to themselves, dress in your standard Italian Post-Apocalyptic Mad Maximus style make-up and costumes, and go rampaging around on American cars with spikes glued to them. Totally forgettable. 24 hours later I had to go look at the cover of the Box Set to try and remember what I watched last night. I knew I'd watched something but I had no memory of what.
  14. Black Moon Rising (1986) - That was fun!
  15. Paul (2011) - well that was vaguely amusing but not the utter geeky yokfest I was expecting.
  16. Miss Potter (2006)
  17. John Carter (2012) - well that was disappointing. I know the books aren't great literature and haven't dated very well. After 100 years most of Edgar Rice Burrough's creative imaginings are sad, old, worked to death clichés, but even so I really think they should have stuck to the book a lot more than they did. For one thing the film took an age to get going. After a prologue set on Mars that left me going 'Duh what? I don't remember this from the book. Where did these guys come from?' a few times, we moved into a double flashback that took an age to get the central character established. (During the film brief tertiary flashbacks also occurred. It's an irrational dislike but three layers of flashback annoys the tits off me.) It's a full 20+ or so minutes before we're anywhere near the start of the story as it appeared in the book. By the final act I just thought it was an unholy mess and I just wanted it to finish as soon as possible.
  18. Agent Cody Banks (2003) - Friday night with the kids. Better than average entry in the Teen Spy genre.
  19. R.O.T.O.R. (1988 ) - this one has long been on my must-see crap film list. One of those films I have read about in other people's lists of all time not greats - but I didn't read too deeply in case I spoiled it for myself. Another of the endless, cheap 1980s Robocop knock offs (known in our house - well, inside my head - as 'Robocopies'). This one was made in Texas by people who nearly never worked again for instance Jayne Smith, third on the cast list, has only one other IMDb credit, as 'Mary Turd' in Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders. R.O.T.O.R. is wonderful mess. There is nothing that works. It's full of 'Dark Place' acting...


    Our hero has a 'Thinks!' moment... "Hmmmmm, I wonder..."
    Actually, what he's really trying to work out is how the single bag they arrived at the hotel with in the shot before this turned into the three bags they were carrying as they entered their room.


    ...long shots of nothing happening, characters who appear from nowhere and disappear just as quickly, dialogue that circles round on itself several times in an attempt to make sense but fails, and at least one character whose name changes during the film - for most of the film she's 'Sonya' at the end of the film she's being called 'Tony' and in the end credits, I guess as a fudge, she's called 'Sony'. It's full of the most gloriously inept staging too, my favourites being the life and death struggle between the killer robot on the rampage and the female assistant scientist body builder which we can't see because the 'hero' is getting in the way helping the girl victim over a fence. (The female assistant, the future 'Mary Turd', has an extraordinary screen presence, apart from looking like a bloke on steroids and hormones, and obviously unable to deliver the simplest of lines without pausing for a break half way through, she also has the most incredible haircut I have seen in a film for years. Black curly hair with a wide silvery white streak running from front to back. It looks like a well-permed skunk shaped into a mullet.)


    Another brilliant piece of staging was the moment where our girl victim, being pursued by a relentless killer robot, reverses out of a gas station, does a handbrake turn, and drives back away in the direction she just came from - for no other reason than the camera was in the way of her driving forward. That incompetent. Loved it.
    A close reading of the end credits also helps explain some of the on-screen weirdness. A lot of the 'dialogue' of this film happens off camera. For instance often conversations taking place in driving cars are delivered to our ears while we watch long shots of the car driving, intercut with two shots of the back of the actors' heads - the camera in the rear of the car. The end credits have a 'thanks' for an actor's group and specifically the two actors who re-voiced our heroes. Whether the film was shot Italian style, MOS and the voices dubbed later or the original actors were so bad, or unavailable to do the ADR, I have no idea, but it help the general air of weird in both performances. Up there with Yor: Hunter From the Future, Troll 2 and all the rest. Class crap.
Abandoned this month: Morons From Outer Space - there are limits. I had heard it was bad but I wasn't prepared for it to be unwatchable.

210

November

  1. Screamers (1995) - a lot better than I remembered. A paper thin adaptation of a Philip K Dick short story, which manages to get some 'will they / won't they make it?' tension going. Mostly this time I was struck by what a good job Peter Weller did as our hero; why he didn't become a major star is a bit of a puzzle to me.
  2. Screamers: The Hunting (2009) - a belated, straight to DVD sequel of the above which managed to hide is small budget fairly decently but within minutes the script has run out of ideas and is piling up the WTF?s at an alarming rate. Various bits of other movies are imported (the Alien films being the obvious source) to try and distract us from the crappiness of the central idea. And I'm sure a great drinking game could be developed where everyone has to take a shot every time our heroes explain (in great detail) the story so far to every new character they encounter. (Basically it's 'We're looking for new batteries for our space ship. Do you have any? Oh crap! We just managed to let the indistinguishable from human killer robots reduce kill half of your friends - sorry about that. Note to self. Stop doing stupid things and stop thinking people aren't 'indistinguishable from human killer robots' just because they have a nice buns, a cute smile and talk about art and shit.) The best thing about this DVD is the 'Making of' featurette which has the cast talking about their characters and the film as if it was Important and Significant and a Serious Piece of Work. It's so funny, and sad at the same time, watching these people talking, with utmost seriousness, about a piece of shit they would lose off their resumes in a minute if ever they moved into the A list. I suppose jobbing actors have to think like this. "I can relate to this character, she's challenging to me as a woman - and as an actor." - no she's not! She's a cardboard cut-out with a thinly sketched in back story. She's a fifteenth generation photocopy of Ripley. Sigourney Weaver did all the work. Just assume the poses, stand where the director tells you to and run away with the money. The writer didn't think about the script. The audience aren't likely to be thinking at all after five minutes because we know exactly what is going to happen from minute to minute. Stop making life difficult for yourself.
  3. Labyrinth (1986) - Friday night Pizza Movie Night with the kids. The kids loved it the first time we saw it watched on my battered, much loved VHS tape. This time we saw it on DVD. The first time I have seen when it hasn't been panned and scanned for 4:3 TV/Tape. It was like watching it for the first time all over again. A joy of a film.
    The disc also has a contemporary 'Making of' obviously intended for television which has to be one of the best 'Making of's I have seen. Interesting, detailed, and documentary in style. No heavy sales techniques in sight. Well worth a look.
  4. Aliens (1986) - Thinking about Screamers 2, which I watched the other night, I realised I had never actually watched Alien 2 all the way through from start to finish. Long isn't it? (The actor Lance Henriksen was in both - can't fit Labyrinth into the puzzle yet...)
  5. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009) - a comedy SF film which manages the rare double of being both good SF (it all makes sense) and is very funny. Three ordinary blokes find a time rift in the toilets of their local pub. Complexity ensues. Wonderfully written stuff. Loved it. (An Aliens reference towards the end too.)
  6. Queen of Blood (1966) - a rewatch. Not as creepily good as I remember but it still had its moments. You have to admire the tenacious way Rathbone managed to hold onto his script for most of the time he was on screen. They obviously weren't paying him enough to learn his lines but luckily, as his character was a head scientist, he had an excuse to carry around a succession of clipboards, memos, lab results and so on.
  7. Toy Story 3 (2010) - again. And I cried. Again.
  8. Deathbed (2002) - straight to DVD nano-budget old fashioned ghost horror story about a haunted bed. Not very good all round but does contain one shot of note. About 35 minutes in our hero and heroine are shown searching their own apartment with a flash-light - despite the fact that the electricity is clearly working (the heroine has just been using a hair-dryer in the bathroom and the bedside light is on). Presumably they are searching their own apartment with a flash-light for no other reason than this is a horror film and and the editor needed a shot of someone searching somewhere with a flash-light to cut into the trailer. Another 50p well wasted at Poundland - long story.
  9. To Die For (aka Extramarital - 1998 ) Starring (and to varying degrees produced by - what IS an 'associate producer'?) Jeff 'Lawnmower Man' Fahey and Traci 'Yes, THAT Traci Lords' Lords. To Die For is a not very erotic erotic thriller - which isn't that thrilling either - so I guess that just leaves... erm... well, it's 90 minutes long. Lords is not a good actor and, though woefully miscast (sorry, but no one is ever going to accept her a frustrated almost prudish happily monogomous married woman) she positively shone here. Some real "Plot delivery Service! I've got a plot point here, where do you want it?" acting from the rest of the cast. (Not that you can blame them really. The script is lumpen like that. Neither writer nor director have worked again but the actors are still gigging). Very underwhelming in every direction. The film did however allow me enough time between its predictable moves (the Machiavellian killer behind the overly complex - the writer wishes! - murder plot is obvious by the end of the first reel) to formulate another one of my 'Why is it in American movies...?" questions.
    'Why is it in American would-be erotic thrillers the beds always have metal bedsteads?' Apart, obviously, from the facts that it is difficult to frame shots of half-hearted sexual writhing through a solid, dralon covered, padded bed end. And it's easier to attach the inevitable handcuffs to a metal bedstead as well... erm... I guess.
  10. Botched (2007) - a 'Comedy Crime Horror' movie which starts out as a laddish crime romp, full of speed ramping annoyance editing before segueing into a bonkers splatter gore horror with our heroes running around the same two corridors being chased by a gun-toting female religious maniac and her sword wielding brother who believes he is the reincarnation of Ivan the Terrible. Very gory, very stupid, and quite funny.
  11. Blade (1998 ) - I think I need to widen my random selection movie gene pool. Blade starred Steven Dorff who was in Botched and had a brief appearance from Traci Lords, who was in To Die For. Having said that I quite enjoyed Blade in a 'park your brain' mode way.
  12. Arrietty (2010) Studio Ghibli's beautiful take on the Mary Norton Borrower books. I read the books as a kid and have seen just about every screen adaptation over the years (well, bits at least) but this film is by far the best. (Though Penelope Wilton is still my favourite Homily.) Slow gentle and utterly enchanting. And not just me. My three kids: aged 10, 8, and 3 were riveted. I don't think I have ever seen them quite so engrossed in a film before. (We watched the UK dubbed version. The US dubbed version is, I understand, very different and very horrible.)
  13. Virus (1999) - Alien life form infects Russian research vessel and kills everyone on-board and then uses their bodies for spare parts - until it is outwitted by a bunch of Americans of mixed ethnicity waving hand guns. Only the Caucasians survive. Basically it's the usual huge pile of clichés cobbled together, lots of running around in confined ill-lit spaces with THINGS made by SFX people who have watched Hardware, Moontrap, and Screamers jumping out at you. Jamie Lee Curtis, the star of the show, described it as "an unbelievably bad movie". She should know.
  14. The Monster Maker (1944) - Good old fashioned horror crap, you can't beat it. Just shows what's wrong with modern horror films. No Gorillas. Every mad, foreign-accented scientist used to have a gorilla in a cage in the corner of the lab for no real reason. One mention of it being "essential for my experiments" was all the justification given here. Needless to say it was let lose and implied ravaging nearly occurred before a faithful pet dog saved the day.
  15. Starcrash (1979) - one of these days I will get a decent copy of this film. I love Starcrash. It's just so fucking awful.
  16. Bram Stoker's The Legend of the Mummy (aka Legend of the Mummy 1998 ) Dull, confused (what are all those Brits and Australians doing in San Francisco?), shonky mess of a film that suffers from being dreadful in just about every department (some seriously iffy editing) but not dreadful in any one direction to make it bad enough to be good. (And boy am I glad to get to the end of that sentence.)
  17. Loose Shoes (aka Coming Attraction 1980) - a hit and miss (mostly miss) collection of skits themed as a bunch of film trailers. The highlights are the future director of Doctor Dolittle, Betty Thomas, shaking her bare boobs as a wanton Skateboarder from Hell (it's always surprising how a little gratuitous nudity captures my attention) and the utterly brilliant NSFW title song which I have had stuck in my head on and off for the 30 years since I last saw this film:
  18. Tunnel Vision ( 1978 ) - another hit and miss - though with a slightly higher hit count - themed sketch film. Rude, crude, dated and stuffed full of dubious racial stereotypes - it's hard to tell from this distance how much irony is being applied here (I suspect a lot) - and another sighting of Betty Thomas' norks. Yay!
  19. Beetlejuice ( 1988 ) - one of Merriol's favourite films... it's okay.
  20. Outlaw of Gor (1989) - The Gor books by John Norman are bloody awful. Sword and sorcery science-fantasy set on a counter earth with great dollops of highly detailed, misogynistic sado-masochism thrown into the mix. Very badly written. Even I can't read them.

    They deserved better than this.

    This sequel, shot apparently concurrently with the first film (called, simply enough, Gor) is one dreadful film. Nothing much happens. Hero Tarl Cabot is whisked back to the planet Gor (aka the usual generic Italian Sword and Sorcery desert location) where he is reunited with old friends, framed for murder, walks around the desert a lot, gets captured and has to fight for his life for a bit in the arena - before someone else kills the villain and the film can end. It's insane. The hero does nothing for the entire film.

    I have seen two other films by the director of this piece of poo: Mutant, and The Day Time Ended. Mutant I remember very little about but The Day Time Ended is a masterpiece of vagueness - a whole movie in which the protagonists do very little but react to unexplained weirdness around them. They don't actually DO anything for the whole film. A similar malaise affects our hero here. He just drifts along through all kinds of leaden-paced mayhem doing very little to make us root for him. Framed for the murder of the king, he runs away, and is cornered by well-muscled, spear-wielding extras. He is rescued by his mentor, the sage old wizard, stepping in front of the approaching guards. "They will not kill me. Run, Tarl Cabot!" Cabot runs. The wizard gets run through.

    Out in the desert it's Cabot who nearly drinks from the poisoned water hole before being stopped by his dwarf sidekick. It Cabot who stands around being ineffectual at the slaver market while the dwarf rustles up some bulky face-hiding disguises, it's Cabot who rescues the slave girl (or rather his stunt double - Wait! You thought those bulky face-hiding disguises were part of the plot? In this kind of film there's only one reason why our hero dons a face-covering disguise, it's to make the stuntman who is going to double for him for the next sequence a tad less obvious). But hurrah! our hero (or someone dressed like him) has actually done something heroic! He rescued a scantily clad hotty from certain... something. They camp out in the desert. The hotty, grateful for being rescued from something, wants to 'pleasure' him. He refuses. He is in love with the princess you see - he's also, weirdly for this kind of film, a vegetarian. They go to sleep. Cue close up of creepy feet creepily footstepping towards them over the sand and - bazingo! Next shot they're in chains and bound for the slave pits again. Nice going, hero. What was the point of all that? Back in chains our 'hero' spends the rest of the film being whipped and force-fed porridge before he doesn't kill the evil queen or rescue the princess in the final reel. Other people do that. Dreadful! Awful! Terrible! I'm downloading the original as I type!...
Films I have fallen asleep during this month: Dune (David Lynch's), Queen of Blood ...

Films I have abandoned this month: Resident Evil I nearly gave up after five minutes when it became obvious the top-secret super sciencey place had a infectious biohazard containment area that shared a ventilation system with the rest of the building ONLY BECAUSE THE MOVIE WOULD HAVE STOPPED IF IT HADN'T. But I persevered for 30 minutes (most of which was spent analysing Milla Jovovich's acting. I quickly realised she was doing this film with two expressions: Mouth Open and Mouth Shut. Both worked. - it worked in The Fifth Element, why change a winning formula?) I persevered until the moment that I realised that none of the elite troops on this deadly search and destroy mission was going to have the wit to jam open any of the endless number of doors that kept closing behind them. Just put something in the door jam, you morons! Nope, they did it again. Bye!
Next Day. Penny drops! Resident E was directed by Event Horizon, Death Race bullshit 'what's the next cool image? director Paul W.S. Anderson. No wonder I hated it.

230

December
  1. A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell (1990) - oh god!
  2. Mutant (1984) - from the same director as Outlaw of Gor (see last month) and another helpless hero who doesn't actually achieve much. He's a bit more active this time but he still manages to get driven off the road by rednecks, gets his brother killed, fails to save a ten year old boy from a horrible death, and manages to get himself wanted for murder by running away at just the wrong moment. He's useless. At one point he's snooping about, getting to the bottom of things, when he is captured by a gang of evil chemical wate dumpers who are filling the standard, B-movie old mine just outside of town with toxic sludge*. He's about to be thrown into a mile deep pit of chemical waste when the doors of the shed fly open and the newly acquired love interest drives her car into the mix. The hero dives through the open window of the car and she speeds away. Hurrah! Our hero was rescued by his girlfriend. In the final moments of the film he's helplessly backed into a corner of the besieged shop, with rampaging monster mutant leech people about to eat him (and his girlfriend) when he's again rescued, in the final moments of the film, by a character we had been lead to assume had died a couple of reels previously. Really odd. I'm going to have to find more films by this guy, John 'Bud' Cardos. He's directed 10 films. They can't all be about total losers can they?

    *The budget of the film (or the location) didn't provide for a standard 'timbers framing a hole in a rocky hillside' type movie mine so they built a small square of wooden wall in a dilapidated shed and covered it with a lid. When the lid was lifted off people peered into the small wooden square and made "Whew - that's deep!" noises while staring at the floor they were standing on. It worked.
  3. The Number 23 (2007) - Quite enjoying this one (liked the music a lot) until it all got way too silly for the last 30 minutes.
  4. Death Trap (1977) - In 1974 Tobe Hooper directed Texas Chain Saw Massacre, in 1979 he started to direct a film called The Dark but was replaced by Outlaw of Gor director, John 'Bud' Cardos* In-between Hooper directed this piece of bonkers Grand Guignol about a deranged, one-legged, scythe-wielding hotel owner and his pet giant crocodile. People get eaten. The soundtrack is quite frankly the weirdest I have heard for years. A weird mashup of dead pureMusique Concrete and cheesy Country songs. One minute Twang! Zoing! Bingggggg.... the next maudlin warblings about the singer not being able to go back home because they shot their sweetheart's brother by mistake.


    *I really do need to extend my film collection's gene pool. I'm honestly picking these films at random from my unwatched pile - I think all the good stuff has gone.
  5. Capote (2005) - well, maybe not all of them.
  6. The Great Race (1965) - Friday Night Movie with the kids. Lots of laughter (much of it from the kids).
  7. The Creeping Terror (1964) - second time this year. This time with the kids and lots of silly comments and laughter, and fart noises at appropriate places. Number one daughter is now downstairs reading one of the Medved Bros.'s Golden Turkey books and hooting with joy. Another convert...
  8. The Hoax (2006) - Entertaining, semi-accurate fun. Some dodgy green screen moments though when historical footage is used as background for new shot foreground dialogue scenes. That distracted slightly but otherwise I was hooked.
  9. Gor (1987) - Cheesy Sword and Wandering About aimlessly fodder from Cannon which 'stars' Jack Palance. He's third on the credits, coming right after a couple of Italians you've never heard of. Despite his prominent billing Palance only appears on screen in the last couple of minutes and, basically, only then to announce he's the villain in the sequel before the end credits roll. Thundering score though. Great bombasting stuff that bludgeons the earballs into thinking something exciting must be happening on screen - when all that's happening is that the characters are wandering aimless across a desert from one very familiar location to another. The locations are familiar because I watched the sequel last month and the place where they camp and are attacked by bandits when whoever is on watch falls asleep in this film looks suspiciously like the place where they camp and are attacked by slave traders when whoever is on watch falls asleep in the sequel. The catfight between the scantily-clad well-oiled large-breasted women was fun though. They always are. Very hard to totally dislike a film with well-oiled large-breasted women grappling in the arena sequence in it. I think that's where Merchant Ivory films missed a trick. If I was held out the promise getting to watch Helena Bonham Carter and Maggie Smith mud-wrestling I think I could watch no end of soft-focus woofty twaddle.
  10. Barbarian Queen (1985) - more Sword and Wandering About but with slightly better fight arrangements, more of a comprehensible story - on their wedding day the groom gets kidnapped and his bride-to-be straps on a sword and rides off to rescue him. There's a twist. From time to time, there were a few well-composed and interesting shots that looked like someone had thought about what they were doing - possibly the DP wanting a few beauty shots for his show reel. Not great but better than the all the best bits of both Gor films and Hundra added together. Short too; clocked in at 70 minutes but felt like 90.
  11. Bloody Moon (1981) - another Jesus Franco off the list and another of the DPP's 1983 'Video Nasties' list watched without being depraved or corrupted. (Well, not instantly anyway.) Also, curiously, coincidentally, and rather spookily, the third film I have watched in a row to include a shot of someone getting skewered sideways through the neck. Nice....

    Bloody Moon is a pretty run of the mill slasher Giallo with a black clad big knife mystery killer bumping off the students at a Spanish language school. None of it makes any sense. Spanish language students get stabbed, decapitated, and strungled to death. A six year old child gets run down by a speeding car. A snake gets decapitated (for real). An incestuous and hideously deformed ex mental patient (and obvious red herring) lurks around in the undergrowth. There is disco dancing and the sort of inane Eurobabble dialogue dialogue you get in those German 'Schoolgirl Report' porn films of the era but none of the humping... erm... Anyway... Franco does his usual slapdash zoom in and out at random stuff with the camera. Faced with nothing happening on screen Franco has this unerring habit of endlessly twitching the camera about. Panning, zooming, and dollying in every shot (and sometimes all three simultaneously) to make you think there is. This film includes one classic moment of zoom folly when, having done a William Cameron Menzies and framed his shot through an object in the foreground - an out of focus chair, he got the only actress in the scene to move to the phone and answer it as the camera zoomed in on her face. Unfortunately by the time she got to the phone her face was behind the back of the chair leaving the screen full of fuzzy woodwork getting slowly larger. It can have been the only take. How did this man get to work for so often for so long?

    The high point for me comes late in the film when our manipulative villainess makes the idiotic move of telling the man she has hired to brutally slaughter several attractive young women that she's not interested in him and he should just kill the Last Girl who upstairs on her bed and then fuck off. Not a clever move. Predictably he is annoyed. There is a fight. Fight. Fight. Fight. "I'll kill you you bitch!" Fight. Fight. Fight. Enter Last Girl covered in ketchup after accidentally kebabbing the incestuous and hideously deformed ex mental patient red herring who had just tried to rape her thinking she was his sister. (Keep up!). Half-way through strangling his erstwhile employer our killer sees her. He drops his boss on the sofa. "She's heard everything! I'll get back to you..." and chases of after Last Girl.

    Maybe it's just me but I found that hilarious..

    Needless to say running out on his meeting turns out to be a mistake because by the time he catches up with our heroine (in the next room) the Villainess has recovered from being semistrangled, has gone round the house looking for a weapon and follows him in waving an electric hedge trimmer (they have them lying around in palatial Spanish villas) and hedge-trimmers him in half. He's very patient about it too. Just stands there as she diligently saws away.

    Only 170+ Jesus Franco films to go....
  12. The Lazarus Project (2008 ) - the title is a bit of a give-away. Executed criminal wakes up and finds he's living in an institution in Oregon. Or is he? Is this an afterlife? All a dream? Some sinister plot? The film ambles along toying with these ideas a bit and then stops. All in all pretty meh. Technically very good, there's some nice stuff going on in here, the middle act does the job of creating an air of what IS going on? puzzlement that is, sadly, just allowed to fizzle away.
  13. Not Another B Movie (2010) - I have a soft spot for low budget films and am very forgiving when I suspect the director is working on a prayer and a promise. I think you have to accept that there will be a certain roughness to a film made on a budget that wouldn't pay for the honey wagons on a Michael Bay movie. I also have a strange fondness for films about low budget film making. Making a film is a heroic endeavour; it's a rich field in which to mine stories and play with the audience's perceptions. Tom DiCillo's Living in Oblivion (1995) is by far the best film of this sort. Not Another B Movie is not the worst film of this sort but it's not good. Most of the action of the show takes place round a table in a restaurant where a writer, director, and producer talk through script changes to their next POS project which is "almost 7% funded!". As the evening goes on the endless static conversation is broken as rewrite ideas are played out on screen, there are also flashbacks to conversations with other possible collaborators, and their waitress, an actress, tries to get their attention. And none of it is as smart and funny as the writer/director thinks. There's an idea in here but it's a mediocre one played out at a leaden pace with very little imagination and to a script that is, sadly, just not up to much. How multiple Golden Globe and Emmy winning actor Ed Asner ended up appearing in this would, I suspect, be a much more interesting story. Not that he did more than a couple of setups for them he was probably done in a couple of hours, and that's including lunch.
  14. Timestalkers (1987) - a made for TV film which started out reasonably intelligently for a TV Time Travel story. One character for instance, presented with the problem of how to get past an electric fence, time-travelled to a past before the fence had been built and then walked across the open countryside till he got to where he wanted to be - then travelled forward back to the present. Not revelatory Earth-shattering stuff. That's a pretty run of the mill SF magazine situation but smart for a 1980s mainstream TV movie. By the end though it had all got a bit laboured and went through the obvious, over-optimistic motions of setting up a series. Klaus Kinski did his usual sterlingly OTT stuff as the villain.
  15. Hunter Prey (2010) - low budget SF film making at its finest (though the endings a bit WTF?). Shot for less than half a million dollars in seventeen days (all on location in a desert) and it looks great. The script isn't great but works - right up the last couple of minutes when it just stops leaving more questions than answers but it almost all makes sense.
  16. Colossus the Forbin Project (1970) - A rewatch prompted by a discussion on 'Breaking the fourth wall' I was having with Daughter Number 1 - this film contains a beautiful moment hardly more than five or six frames long when the hero does just that and it's great! - and my ongoing programme of introducing her to some classic SF Film before she becomes a bored and cynical teenager. Disturbingly she laughed at the best joke in the film, a subtle moment when the 'evil' giant super computer draws a distinction between the number of times the hero needs to be alone with his mistress in a week rather than the number of times he wants it.
  17. The Day Mars Invaded Earth (1963) - a low budget small cast SF film which for the first three quarters of its running time is pretty dull but the last few minutes almost make it worthwhile. In short the Martians win and the all-American family who are the centre of the strange events that take place all die, to be replaced by doppelgängers whose motives are well-explained and seem almost reasonable. Just wish the major part of the movie hadn't consisted of people endlessly walking about filling up screen time while showing off the expensive looking location.
  18. Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream (2005) - a documentary about 6 landmark films, El Topo (1970), Night of the Living Dead (1968 ), The Harder They Come (1973), Pink Flamingos (1972), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and Eraserhead (1977). Interesting. I learned stuff. What really surprised me though was that the film that most inspired George A Romero (director of The Living Dead) to become a film maker - was Michael Powell's The Tales of Hoffmann.
  19. The Immoral Mr Teas (1959) Tits.
  20. Eve and the Handyman (1961) Tits.
  21. Wild Girls of the Naked West (1963) Tits and (almost) a story.


Abandoned this month: Beyond Remedy (2009) Experimental psychology curing phobic medical students somehwere in Spookytown, Europe. I gave up after 20 minutes when I realized I wasn't going to be able to stand the Professor doing that British Stage acting thing of STARTING SPEECHES Very LOUDLY! and then letting his voice get... quieter... and quieter... until.. SUDDENLY GETTING LOUDER AGAIN!! Enough of that, I thought. Click.




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Old 1st Jan 2012, 15:35   #9
Beth
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Default Re: 2012 filmlists

Chloe
The Descendants can't fault it, but didn't love it...
The Pianist
Slumdog Millionaire
Quantum of Solace and the first Bond flick I've seen. Great fun
A Night to Remember -
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Shame (2011)
The Way We Were -
Kramer vs Kramer
Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

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Old 1st Jan 2012, 20:22   #10
Paul
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Default Re: 2012 filmlists

22. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
21. The Painted Veil
20. The Science Of Sleep
19. The Savages
18. Whip It
17. Melancholia
16. The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre
15. Proof
14. Chop Shop
13. The Wrestler
12. A Simple Plan
11. Dan In Real Life
10. Gomorrah
9. Winter's Bone
8. Boys Don't Cry
7. Trollhunter
6. The Visitor ½
5. V For Vendetta
4. The Darjeeling Limited
3. Beginners
2. Cold Souls
1. The Proposition
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