Archive for February, 2010

I Can Make You Love Me (Stalking Laura)

by on Feb.20, 2010, under Daily Review

This is great. Great performances and a really creepy plot. For a TV movie, this really gets down to the bone, moving at such a great pace, we fall into the action within the first five minutes and it’s immediate that we can see that Richard is a loon!

The ‘true’ story goes, Laura Black is a successful business woman, working in the world of computers. Richard Farley, her latest work colleague is a loon, and becomes quickly infatuated with Laura, believing they are in a relationship, turning up continually at various different events acting weird, creepy. It’s a brilliant story, built totally on the performances give by Richard Thomas and Brooke Shields. The script bounces between the pair who just lap up this theme with such zest and enthusiasm, it’s a real pleasure to watch. The main theme of stalking and obsession is so scary, especially in the current climate, but for some reason, it seems worse being back in the 80’s. It seems as though Laura Black wouldn’t be taken seriously by HR, the Police or her friends, but I’m sure now, it would be a totally different matter.

For me, Thomas makes this film what it is. Her performance is excellent as the relentless stalker, and I’m sure, encouraged by Director Michael Switzer, a TV film maker whose worked on everything from Hill Street Blues to Prison Break. It’s no wonder he’s had a lush career.

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Love Me Strangely (Un Beau Monstre)

by on Feb.19, 2010, under Daily Review

Alain Revert is a bit of a cad. He’s got this obsession with dominating women, manipulating with charm, charisma wealth and his good looks, but turning to emotional torture and despair, pushing them to the brink of death with the aid of drugs. This is his game. But why does he do this? We get a glimpse of homosexuality, a closeted lust which forces his own angst against the dreadful treatment of every woman he comes into contact with.

It’s an amazing looking film with an unusual theme. Beautifully shot in Paris and Venice, by Sergio Gobbi, making the most of the widescreen ratio with every scene well balanced and picture perfect. The cast are all cool too Helmut Berger as the dastardly Revert. Virna Lisi and Francoise Brion as his wives and the charismatic Charles Aznavour as the inquisitive Police Inspector. The script is great too. Great dialogue between Revert and Nathalie ‘How did you know it was my scarf?’ Revert’s response ‘I recognised your perfume.’

The themes challenged in this film are remarkable for the time. (1970) Confused sexuality, emotion blackmail, drug induced non-voluntary depression and pressured suicide. All this and a perfect polished look with fine acting. I’m surprised this film hasn’t gathered a cult following. I’m also surprised this film isn’t available on DVD. Shocking.

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Be My Valentine (X-Ray/Hospital Massacre)

by on Feb.18, 2010, under Daily Review

Kids get up to the craziest of things. Like crazy Harold from the block, who likes to hook little David onto a coat stand, right through the jaw. Suzan screams as Harold looks on menacingly through the open window in a kinda ‘Twin Peaks Bob’ kinda way. All this because she chose little David as her Valentine. How can a kid grown up stable after witnessing this? Who knows, but here we are, 19 years later. Susan (Barbi Benton) has a job promotion and requires a routine medical examination at the Hospital, but she soon finds the staff are being massacred by psycho, dressed in Doctors attire. Could it be Harold back for revenge? It’s Valentines Day after all.

This looks like a US TV drama, Hart to Hart, Cagney & Lacey, General Hospital etc, but a bit more gruesome. The murders are harsh vicious attacks, mainly blade stabbings. One scene shows the killer freaking out after a murder, showing his frustration for knocking off another innocent whilst his main target is Susan. Interesting stuff. This is an average affair really. Quite well filmed, although Director Boaz Davidson soon found his strength in production, the cast are TV veterans; you’ll recognise at least half: Jon Van Hess, Judith Baldwin, John Warner Williams and Chip Lucia. But it’s Barbi Benton who steals the show. Cast in the leading role, she shows real ability and it’s a real shame she didn’t really do much after this. From the pedigree of Charlie’s Angels, CHiPs and Fantasy Island, she’s a hands on actress, strong feisty and determined with immaculate hair throughout.

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I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses

by on Feb.17, 2010, under Daily Review

Good god, this is a bad film. I nearly fell asleep several times during the 8 hour stint. OK, 88 minutes. This is a bland murder mystery with a poor cast, with the exception of the always sensational Elke Sommer, I’ve no idea why she thought it would be a good idea to take this role. It’s a drab courtroom drama with some shocking scenes dropped in which really unbalance the whole film and seem totally out of place.

The story revolves around the court room, with a rich businessman (Don Pilon) on trial for the murder of his beautiful wife (Sommer). The court scenes are broken up with flashback moments suggesting possible suspects with various motives for the murder. Some of these scenes resulting in extreme violence and bad taste (which was mainly the cause for the lack of BBFC certificate and the addition to the DPP list of Video Nasties back in 82, in the UK). Measured against today’s standards, these scenes are still harsh and shocking, but made all the worse when balanced against the total boringness of the rest of the film. Murray Markowitz never made a film after this and it’s easy to see why.

There are some quite funny moments though. Look out for the boxer in the gym, still shadow boxing whist chatting to Elke. Also, there’s a scene just before the romantic pony ride through Central Park as Pilon lifts up Sommer and spins her around a few times. You can see the strain on his face as his knees quiver. She’s not a heavy girl by any means. There’s a love making scene too where Pilon looks like he’s fallen asleep.

I’ve got nothing good to say about this film really. Let’s move on.

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My Bloody Valentine (2009)

by on Feb.16, 2010, under Daily Review

I thought these remakes where supposed to be smart and appreciative of the original adding a little modern magic and superior camerawork and new filmmaking techniques? After the Friday 13th rehash and this, I’m left disheartened.

The original story has been broken and obliterated and replaced with something more complex which has left all sorts of holes in the plot. You can wave goodbye to suspense, cleverness, realistic script and strong characters and welcome in average youthful TV actors, over the top violence (Which soon becomes tiresome after the third pickaxe through the head) and storyline which involves several introductions of non important characters only to be slayed by the hand of the killer miner which just leaves the viewer caring even less for the main characters and scratching ones head wondering what these people have to do with the killers motive. Nothing! Sorry for the spoiler, but most of these deaths are really not import for motive. In fact, the whole film makes no sense. The hundreds of heart shaped boxes in the lodge? Really? Nonsense. It’s just boring and I’m not saying this lightly. It really is boring. Even the tricks used for 3D death and gore soon get tiresome.

It’s not entirely surprising though with Patrick Lussier in the driving seat. White Noise 2? Dracula 2000?  Please don’t let this fool have control of Halloween 3. But it was probably Todd Farer who ruined this film with such a mess of a screenplay. (again, involved in Halloween 3. Noooo!)

Jensen Ackles and Kerr Smith are really the only thing holding this film together and really struggling with lack of direction and a poor script, and cringing at the supporting roles, especially the bloody dreadful Jaime King. The gore is good for the most part, but there is no suspense, so when the pickaxe swings into view there’s no real surprise and there’s only so many times we can see a axe through a different part of the head without becoming desensitised.

This is a different film to the original. The basic story is similar, but without all of the originality and creativity of the original team. Skip this and go straight for the 82 classic, it will not disappoint. Even without the 3D.

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by on Feb.15, 2010, under Daily Review

It’s amazing what a slight bit of influence can make. This could have been an all American trashy stalk n slash, but with some inventive set design, Jamie Banks manages to direct a sleek looking giallo-americano. Beautiful reds and blues flood the screen in every scene. As for the story, it’s a classic ‘who done it’ with clever diversions and distractions away from the truth and final scene with a neat twist. It’s all quite good actually. Good acting for a young cast, nice visionary direction and did I mention the score? Its classic Hitchcock, balanced against a cool nu-metal sound track.

The plot. Jeremy is a teenage nerd. During a high school valentines ball, Jeremy is turned down by girls, one after the other. Eventually, a fat lass accepts his advances, until a group of louts find the pair. The fat lass screams and makes out Jeremy attacked her. The lads give him a beating. Some years later, the girls from the original ball are back for another. They’ve all received creepy threatening Valentine cards. Could Jeremy be out for revenge? Slowly, the murders begin to occur by a creepy masked killer, to a back drop of a cool Californian house party.

This is a really cool film. It’s simple and very watch-able. Jamie Banks does a great job here, as he did with Urban Legend. David Boreanaz, Jessica Capshaw and Denise Richards all offer great performances. (Yes, this was when Richards was making the effort to perform) but Marley Shelton is the real star here as Kate Davies. (Recently seen in Grinhouse, Perfect Getaway and one of my favourite indie flicks, The Last Kiss)

Don’t be put off by glossiness of this film. It’s easy viewing, and the gore is not over explicit, but it is highly inventive. The scene in the hot tub is great, and the head pushing into a broken window frame with shards of glass is pure class. As a film made on the back of the success of Scream, this among a host of others added to the rise and popularisation of the horror genre in the over the past decade. Without this, we’d still be searching Europe for our Horror kicks.

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My Bloody Valentine

by on Feb.14, 2010, under Daily Review

The early 80’s was a great time for creative slasher flicks and My Bloody Valentine is certainly one of those. Seriously grisly, a great plot, script and pretty good acting. A mine is the main location for the stalking and slashing going on here and it works really well, creating great atmosphere and claustrophobia. The killer, old Harry Warden is iconic as the revenge stricken miner complete with black boiler suit, gasmask and helmet lamp. Chosen weapon: pick axe.

The film starts in a small mining town, preparing for a valentine ball. Youngsters are goofing around, whilst the elders of the town seem worried. The tale, 20 years prior, tells of a miner trapped underground for 6 weeks, living on the flesh of other trapped miners. Trapped due to neglectful mine managers, eager to meet their dates on that year’s valentine ball. He took revenge, murdering all responsible and warning the town, if they ever have a ball again, he’ll be back to slaughter everyone. So, 20 years have passed and this will be the first Valentine celebration since those ghastly murders. You guessed it, they start again.

There is some real gore in this flick. Some really nasty scenes, but it’s not all about the gore. It’s a great atmospheric film with interesting characters and a great script and plot. The killers outfit is bloody great and I’m really surprised that it’s taken 30 years to knock out a remake or even a sequel. George Mihalka Directs what is probably his only offering to the genre and what a great film he gave us, bringing a varied cast, encouraging fine performances where needed and lighter, stereotypes as filling roles. Perfect. Notable performances by Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier and Neil Affleck.

Look out for the blokes head coming off whilst falling with a rope around the neck, the girl surrounded by bouncing mining suits and the opening sequence with the pick axe through the girls chest, emblazoned with a heart tattoo.

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Week 16

by on Feb.13, 2010, under 365 Schedule

Thank god Wolf week is over, and thank god they only made 7 Howling flicks. I really couldn’t take another one.

Anyway, this is the week of Love. 7 classic films showing the true horror meaning of romance…

  • My Bloody Valentine
  • Valentine
  • My Bloody Valentine 3D
  • I Miss You Hugs n Kisses
  • Be My Valentine
  • Love Me Strangly
  • I can make you Love Me
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Howling VII: Mystery Woman

by on Feb.13, 2010, under Daily Review

Will it never end? Please don’t make any more Howling movies, I cannot take any more. The werewolf genre is a difficult one to work with but most of this series have been about as dreadful as you can get. So, this time, we have a stranger (Ted) in a small country town in California. After winning over the locals in a Country and Western bar, getting basic work and a room, murders begin to take place, along with a little ‘cattle worrying’. To be honest if I was in that bar I’d be tempted to mass slaughter the residents just to get the country tunes to stop. In a near by town, a cop and a priest are on the trail of Mary Lou (Elizabeth She) from the castle in Hungary (Howling V), 3 years prior. The priest seems to know all sorts of fact surrounding lycanthropes, facts from watching too many crap ‘Howling’ films I’d say. On a positive, Romy Windsor returns briefly as Marie Adams (Lead from Howling IV) and actually offers a glimmer of hope to the movie as she appears to be the only capable actress in the whole film.

The catch phrase on the poster for this film states ‘Somewhere out there a new breed of terror is breeding!’. Well it’s not breeding in this film, the terror must be somewhere else out there. Clive Turner is to blame here. His first and only film as Director, although producing the last 3 of this series, (and the Lawnmower Man movies) you would have thought he’d have learned his lesson with the others, or maybe he loves the franchise so much, but just couldn’t get another sucker to Direct, therefore, taking the role himself. Disaster.

Now, please make it stop. No more Howling please.

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Howling VI : The Freaks

by on Feb.12, 2010, under Daily Review

So what’s wrong with this film? This is hard work. These Howling films get worse and worse and worse although with a spark of originality from the last movie, I thought we were on an up. Nope. This is a bad film. Could I have really expected any more from the 6th in the series?

Basic plot involves a young werewolf, trapped by a spooky carnival. The Carnival master has this neat trick that makes wolfboy transform at the drop of a hat, therefore, instant sideshow success. I mean, who wouldn’t pay to see a man turn to wolf? Head of the carnival, RB Harker is played by Bruce Payne, the british RADA trained actor who is wasted in this film. In fact, I’ve never seen him in a good film, but I’m, sure with the right director he could really offer something. Here though, he’s obvious, cartoon and bland. Wolfboy is 2D. In fact, he’s not even that good. Ian the wolfboy is as bad as it gets in cinema and it’s probably this reason that the film fails in such a bad way as most of the rest of the cast are pretty good. Sean Sullivan, Elizabeth She (Again, same character as the last film, but no continuance at all) and Antonio Fargas who is amazing here. The whole idea is a great one though. I’m always a sucker for a freak show. Bearded Mermaid, contortionists and Midgets  all hit the right spot. It looks great too; Thumbs up for set design. Direction is dreadful. First time director Hope Perello treat this like a student project and ends up with a film that lasts 90 mins but feel like 4 hours.

Did I mention the effects? There might have been a reason for that. The wolf transformation is probably as bad as it gets. The fist big transformation on stage at the carnival is dreadful and the finished result just looks ridiculous.

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh on this one. Maybe it’s not as bad as I say, but if you watch this for yourself, be warned. (you can buy this on amazon for 1p)

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