Friday, 27 February 2015

Bombshell Bloodbath - a love letter to video nasties

After a zombie virus takes hold a group of people try to find a cure and stay alive.

Bombshell Bloodbath is the perfect quintessential homage to the late 70s and early 80s countless churned out VHS horrors and banned video nasties. Brett Mullen and writer Sky Tilley cleverly offer a mash-up of horror ideas borrowing from the best of the worst and best of the best including Dawn of the Dead, The Beyond, The Evil Dead to name a few. 

Bombshell Bloodbath is purposely all over the place with its tone harking back to the good old days of horror and grind house cinema. Moody voice overs, dramatic mad scientist, experiments with rats, tape recordings, seedy strip clubs, cabins in the wood and zombies tearing flesh and more. 

The flesh eaters mostly bookend the film with the actors emulating the days of Neon Maniacs, Nightmare City and the countless horror performances alike. Samantha Mills it great as the mysterious blonde bombshell, Cara is wonderfully played by Alex Elliott in amongst the great practical effects and archetype camera angles of Italian exploitation films, like the Barbarians, Rats and Hell of the Living Dead. The music is the icing on the cake for nostalgia hounds and new fans of the old sub-genre horror with composer Matt Hill channelling the likes of Fabio Frizzi and Goblin. 

Bombshell Bloodbath does what House of the Devil recreated for old school horrors, this revisits the atmosphere and execution of horror exploitation films.

If there ever was an indie love letter written to Fulci, Romero, Argento and Lenzi, it would look something like this.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Wyrmwood Mad Max of the Dead

A survivor of a zombie plague prepares to battle his way through a horde of sinister soldiers and ravenous monsters after the death of his loved ones. 

Reminiscent at times of Dawn of the Dead, Undead and the Mad Max series surprisingly Aussie  Wyrmwood stands shoulders above many indie zombie films. Written by Kiah Roache-Turner and Tristan Roache-Turner it has plenty original of ideas for the genre and while it moves away from the traditional George A. Romero Night of the Living concept it puts a spin on the sub-genre by literary injecting a scifi fantasy element which works in its favour. 

Director Kiah Roache-Turner offers great special effects, black humour, buckets of blood, guns, needles and a cast of heroic and quickly characters. Starring Bianca Bradey as Brooke, she lights up the screen with some physical action and a strong performance. One of the strengths of Wyrmwood is that you care about the characters even the squeaky chemical suited, creepy music loving scientist.

Zombie gas, DNA experiments and mind control sit nicely in this post apocalyptic adventure as heart broken Barry, Jay Gallagher, goes about finding his sister, meeting an array of characters played excellently by the supporting cast long the way. Leon Burchill is notable as the likable Benny and Yure Covich memorable as Chalker. 

The road trip at times ominous and tense with some nice cinematography from Tim Nagle. It has well designed costumes and make up and an excellent pumping music from Michael Lira with some clever sound design.

There are some solid setups, scary zombie girls in a garage, the shoot out in the bush and the action packed escapes. Thankfully it's not as slapstick as the likes of Evil Dead or Brain Dead. While it may not please those wanting a straight forward traditional zombie film complete with a They Live-like fight scene, it exceeds all expectation as piece of horror, action entertainment. 

Wyrmwood deserves more than cult status, not just for being refreshingly entertaining but for being more than competently produced, acted and directed. Roache-Turner's offering does for zombies what Dog Soldiers did for werewolves.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Psycho II (1983) mother?

After twenty-two years of psychiatric care, Norman Bates attempts to rebuild his life but the ghostly presence of his mother still haunts him, is he mad or could she be real?

The late Anthony Perkins returns as the inescapably lovable Norman Bates. Perkins is on form and the continuity (Perkins now aged and the same sets used) from the first film works perfectly in director Richard Franklin's favour. Quirky Meg Tilly is notable as Normans younger love interest and Vera Miles cameos. Jerry Goldsmith excellent score captures the Psycho-esque feel of Bernard Herrmann's original.

Writer Tom Holland's offering plays out as an interesting mystery (with moments of 80's slasher) and while the passage of time that Norman has been away isn't fully taken advantage of there's enough to peak attention especially as Norman is haunted by the events as depicted in Psycho (1960) and the murders resume.

Put Alfred Hitchcock's classic at the back of your mind as there will never be another movie like it, but in colour and by default brought up to date, Psycho II is probably one of the truest horror sequels. Underrated and worth viewing.

Zombie 108 (2012)

As a virus sweeps the city, it falls into a bloody zombie- apocalypse and array citizens come together to survive the nightmare.

Yes we've seen it all before but what writer/director Joe Chien does have like his semi-side-quel Zombie Fight Club (2014) is a dark and ominous atmosphere.

Following the opening of a large abandoned metropolitan area where a woman wanders around and finds a mass of hungry zombies we are then presented with a flashback of how the city became deserted. Chien borrows from the best, which is a good thing but sadly Zombie 108 biggest slip up is an unnecessary off-putting subplot where a sordid pervert kidnaps women and traps them in his apartment. He keeps them locked up, tortures, rapes and murders them.

It's messy, chaotic, graphic and at times borderline incoherent in keeping with many Asian zombie outings. That said, it does have its eerie creepy moments, it's played serious and the zombies are well executed. However, you'd be excused if you skipped this mainly due to the distasteful secondary plot and went straight to Chien's more rounded Zombie Fight Club.

Autumn (2012) Moody

A schoolteacher heads to the country to survive a zombie-apocalypse.

Based on the indie novel by David Moody, director Steven Rumbelow's microscopic budget atmospheric film that while doesn't evoke the emotion of the likes of The Battery (2012) it never the less has a lot of novelty to it thanks to Dexter Fletcher's performance as Michael.

It's more of mournful character study rather than a full on zombie assault. Don't expect too much from this choppy produced slow burner and you may be surprisingly pleased.

Autumn is worth watching for its serious tone and Fletcher's sombre performance.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Grizzly (2014) the Orca of Bear Films

When bodies start showing up in an Alaskan forest a local sheriff and his estranged brother go about find the bear before a seasoned hunter does. 

It's hard not to draw comparison to other persons versus nature films, to it's credit it has a seasoned studded cast in what could have been the Jaws (1975) or Moby Dick of Bear movies. The location scenery and setting is captured wonderfully thanks to James Liston's cinematography. There's some grizzly scenes (no pun intended) of hard to watch dead bear cubs, body dismemberment and so on. Saw V director David Hackl offers an abundance of kills in the forest, lodge attacks and in cars. But even Hackl with writers Guy Moshe and J.R. Reher paint by number forced stereotype character backgrounds it oddly feels only as special as AVP Requiem's brotherly love and forest scenes mixed with Abominable (2006).

Veteran Scott Glenn, excellent James Marsden, Thomas Jane as a hunter character turned conservationist who butts heads with Billy Bob Thornton's hardened hunter can't fix the lack of tension or continuity of three editors. Neither can the fine looking actors including excellent Michaela McManus's Kaley and Piper Perabo as deaf love interest and photographer Michelle distract the fact that there's a TV air about the whole affair. Marcus Trumpp's score is however great coupled with some fine cinematography and the star, bear Bart, possibly related to the late Bart the Bear and his mother from Grizzly (1976) steals the show. 

It's nowhere near executed as well as The Edge (1997) or Ghost in the Darkness (1997), nor does it say more about conservation than The Bear (1988). What could have been Jaws, is more Orca - The Killer Whale. 

As a killer bear film on revenge it's up in the top five, but how many murderous bear films are there?


Friday, 13 February 2015

Messiah of Evil (1973)

Arletty (Marianna Hill) arrives in a small, odd, creepy coastal town in California looking for her father and she quickly learns little is as it seems.

Before Romero's Dawn of the Dead and The Crazies, there was Dead people a.k.a Messiah of evil. Shot in 1971 the film was not released until 1973. Like H.P. Lovecraft's Dagon and The Wicker Man (1973), weird locals are hiding a horrific secret... In Messiah, the people of Point Dune worship the rise of a red moon as they become zombies.

The storyline is disjointed, but this adds to the mystic, surreal and dreamlike quality of the film. Admittedly, there is some irregular editing and the score is very much of its time, but there's plenty to like about it.

Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and the aforementioned clearly have taken its cue from Willard Huyck's jumbled but effective film. Especially the scene where slinky brunette Anitra Ford is pursued through a supermarket. There is also truly creepy scene again with Ford and an albino trucker, played by Bennie Robinson, who you'd think would have been in a lot more movies.

It oozes dread and suspense, it's a chilling 70's horror flick that despite its faults is a lot better than some of today's so called horrors.

Dom Hemingway (2013) muttonchops and bridgework

Dom Hemingway, a safe-cracker just released from prison sets out to get his reward for keeping silent and rekindle a relationship with his daughter.

Richard Shepard writes and directs this Guy Ritchie, Matthew Vaughn- esque styled quirky gangster flick. Packed with colourful language, Shepard goes out of his way to try and break a record in using the 'C' word.

Sporting a double-breast suit muttonchops and bridgework Jude Law has a blast playing against recent typecast as the alcoholic loud mouth, hard man Dom Hemingway. Law offers some vulnerable touching moments at grave of his wife Katherine, when he visits his daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke) and scenes involving his grandson. Richard E. Grant plays his one handed best friend Dickie, Grant gives a subtle great performance as a cross between the dearly departed David Niven and the late Mike Reid's Frank Butcher. There's great chemistry between Law and Grant. Beauty Mădălina Diana Ghenea is notable as Paolina, Fontaine's Romanian girlfriend.

It's violent and humorous in places with some genius touches and great lines littered throughout. What it lacks in depth and structure it makes up for in pace as you follow abrasive Dom's plight with money, anger and relationships. It benefits from a good score and bona fide St Tropez and London locations.

Overall, worth watching for Law's loose fuse, profane, dangerous Hemingway and Grant's performances alone.

Better Call Saul?

Small-time Albuquerque public defender lawyer Saul Goodman tries to make living while caring for his mentally ill older brother.

As a spin-off, prequel and sequel to Breaking Bad it wastes no time getting down to brass-tacks being very pacey from the outset. What's good about Vince Gilligan Peter Gould's offering is that you don't necessarily have to watch an episode of Breaking Bad to understand or appreciate it. Better Call Saul is a quirky, edgy character study that effortlessly manages to stand on its own two feet. If anything it could easily break further away from the series that spawned it.

Leading the show is Bob Odenkirk who is fantastic as Saul Goodman, one of it's predecessors greatest characters. For fans, familiar characters return including Jonathan Banks' Mike Ehrmantraut and psychopathic Tuco Salamanca played menacingly by Raymond Cruz.

It has the feel and style of the original and has everything you could possibly want and more from a spin-off series.

What did you think?

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Saturn 3

Two lovers stationed on a remote moon base of Saturn are intruded upon by a murderous man and his malevolent 8-ft robot.

Its production issues, changing of directors (one of which was the late great John Barry) and budget cuts aside for a film that was made in 1980 it feels like late 60s/70s. That said, the sets that take a leaf from Alien (1979) are partially effective and the blue ominous lighting works but is sadly used sparingly.

The late Farrah Fawcett is still a major draw and although there's a cringe worthy age gap between leads it is fitting to the narratives themes. Acting legend Kirk Douglas is a little inconsistent and not on form possibly due to the script or production woes. Harvey Keitel has been unconventionally re-dubbed which is a shame, but he still is effective as the homicidal sociopath, off beat, boorish Earth Captain Benson. Although choppy, there's some great set-ups with the interestingly designed Hector robot and Elmer Bernstein's score if fantastic.

It's not purposely ambiguous, but it leaves many questions and loose ends. It's by no means the worst science-fiction movie, John Barry's story offers some great ideas and has clearly influenced subsequent scifi's notably the Matrix (1999) plug-in.

It's flawed and inconsistent but still worth viewing for the concept alone.