Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I read with interest online that Drive Angry was shot in 3D and was shown in US cinemas in that format. Well, I had to make do with 2D, but still enjoy the movie no end. If you are a fan of B-grade 70's & 80's movies, Drive Angry is right up your alley. It's Grindhouse......with a budget and a decent cast.

Nicholas Cage stars as John Milton, a bad ass that we soon discover has "escaped" from hell to track down his infant granddaughter who has been kidnapped by a satanic cult who plan to sacrifice her. In the process of taking the baby, the cults leader Jonah King [brilliantly played by Billy Burke] murders Miltons daughter and her husband, so our hero has plenty of motivation to get the job done. Also along for the ride is the smokin hot Piper [Amber Heard] who has just quit her job as a waitress and left her cheating boyfriend. So far, this cast and plot in itself is a pretty good movie, but the extra ingredient that makes Drive Angry a great movie in my opinion is William Fichtner as The Accountant.

Background to The Accountant character is simple. Hell is just one big prison, and Satan is the prison warden. When someone escapes, and in this case it's Milton, The Accountant comes after you. Fichtner owns every scene he appears in. If there was a spin off movie where he was the lead, I'd be there with bells on.

What I liked about the movie :

- it was really well paced with very few flat spots.

- A scene, or should I say THE scene, that everyone will be talking about. I think I'll struggle to do it justice in words here, but if you can imagine someone taking out a gang of thugs in a hotel room, while smoking a cigar, taking swigs of Jack Daniels and shagging a blonde waitress at the same time, it happens here.

- Amber Heard is hot hot hot!!!!

- William Fichtner rocks this movie. I'm a Nicholas Cage fan, and he is fine here, but Fichtner is THE MAN.

- very few CGI effects were used in the big scenes like car chases and alike.

What I didn't like about the movie :

- there is a fair few "supernatural themes" involved with the plot and it's characters. People coming back from hell, not being able to be killed, "The Godkiller" gun that destroys souls that was stolen from Satin himself. I suppose it was necessary otherwise the movie wouldn't play out, and it is what it is, but parts of it just didn't quite sit right with me.

- was it just me, or was Jonah King one of the worst shots with a gun in movie history. He couldn't hit the side of a barn from 5 metres away.

These movies that are a throwback to the Grindhouse days of the 70's and 80's are becoming more common. It obviously started with Planet Terror and Death proof, continued on with Machete and Hobo with a Shotgun, and now we have Drive Angry. I'm a fan. I do like them, and Drive Angry is up there with the best of them
                                               The Accountant [William Fichtner]

                                                           Jonah King [Billy Burke]

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch
This was a disappointing movie in the end. The premise had alot of potential, but I feel the movie fell short of what it could have been. 'Season of the Witch' stars Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman [Hell Boy] as two kick-ass medieval Knights who aren't all that happy with what the church expects them to do "in the name of God" during their many battles, so they leave the churches army in protest. Shortly after they are quickly rounded up and with the threat of being charged with deserting hanging over them, are persuaded to transport a young woman suspected of being a witch to some monks. The monks possess an ancient book of spells, one of which will destroy her powers and hopefully lift the curse of the black plague that has beset the land. 
Things I liked about the movie :
 - The opening scene was great, and perhaps is the reason I was a bit disappointed with the rest of the movie. Had the thrills, spills and scares from the opening minutes continued for the rest of the flick, it would've got two thumbs up from this little black duck. 
- Easy pace throughout. The film never wasted too much time getting stuck on anything that was unnecessary. 
- Ron Perlman was....well, Ron Perlman. Loved his character [Felson] and he certainly has an on-screen presence about him which he displayed in 'Hell Boy' and was also on show here.   
- A 'death by wolves' scene that is almost as good as the one in Adam Greens 'Frozen'.
Things I didn't like about the movie :
 - The script was below par. Apart from a couple of humorous exchanges between Cage and Perlman, the dialogue lacked punch.
- I got over it eventually, but the fact that most of the characters spoke with American accents even though the film was set in Europe in 1335 AD. 
- Dodgy CGI, especially in the last grand finale scene.
The one thing I'm still not sure how I feel about in the movie [minor spoiler alert] :
 - The "twist" towards the end of the movie involving the suspected witch. Makes the title of the film sort of redundant.
Overall 'Season of the Witch' won't be the worst movie I watch this year. It had it's moments, but in my opinion fell short of the better movie it could have been.

Hobo with a shotgun - Review

Hobo with a Shotgun
This is the second film spawned from the mock trailers that accompanied the Rodriguez/Tarantino 'Grindhouse' films in 2007. Like the first one 'Machete', the over-the-top 'Hobo with a shotgun' shouldn't be taken too seriously. It involves Rutger Hauer playing a hobo who as just rode into Hope Town on a train, a town that is overrun by violent criminals and crooked cops. The main villain is a character called The Drake [Brian Downey] who with the help of his sons Slick [Gregory Smith] and Ivan [Nick Bateman], has the town living in fear. The hobo doesn't like what he sees, and after a hold up in a pawn shop pushes him over the edge, said hobo becomes vigilante hobo dishing out his own brand of street justice via his trusty shotgun. 
Things I liked about the movie :
- non-stop action with plenty of imaginative kills that should appeal to the gore hounds out there. 
- the film definitely has that Grindhouse feel to it, with everything from it's visual style to the excessive violence spelling early 1980's Grindhouse.
- Rutger f*ckin Hauer.
- one of the greatest lines ever delivered in a movie : "I'm gonna wash this blood off with your blood".

Things I didn't like about the movie :
-  there were some flat spots, including virtually any scene involving 'prostitute with a heart of gold' Abby making friends with the hobo. 
- I love my mindless violence as much as the next guy, but blow torching a school bus full of kids with a flame thrower may have overstepped the mark even in my eyes. Although I did chuckle as "disco inferno" was playing as it happened.
Although I probably rate 'Machete' slightly in front of it, 'Hobo with a shotgun' is still a fun movie for those who like their flicks a bit cheesy and very violent. Rutger Hauer owns it, and the film doesn't take itself too seriously, hence the over-the-top violence isn't too shocking.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Tortured DVD review

I'll start with a small quirk in relation to this movie. According to the DVD cover I own the movie is called "Tortured", yet the DVD menu and opening titles and just about everywhere else the movie is known as "The Tortured". Unusual, but whether we include "The" in the title or not, you pretty much know what this flick is about due to the 'Tortured' bit of the title. But for those of you that are not into guess work, here's a quick rundown.
Craig and Elise Landry [Jesse Metcalfe & Erika Christensen] are a young husband and wife whose 6 year old son Benjamin is kidnapped and brutally murdered by disturbing child killer John Kozlowski [horror veteran Bill Moseley]. When Kozlowski gets a reduced sentence of 25 years due to an arrangement where he will reveal locations of more dead children, the Landrys take matters into their own hands to extract what they think is a fair outcome for the loss of their son.

A couple of things strike me about "The Tortured". Firstly, it goes for a 'blink-and-you-miss-it' 72 minutes running time. But to be fair, it probably doesn't need to go any longer. Secondly it's promoted on my DVD cover that the movie comes "From the Producers of SAW", and yes, there are definite hallmarks of a SAW film throughout, including the nifty editing full of flashbacks that explain the "twist" at the end. And there were heavy elements of "Law Abiding Citizen" in the story as well.

Overall "The Tortured" is an ok little horror flick. The movies set up shows potential, even though there are some very convenient factors contributing to it [including Craig being a doctor and the low security transfer of Kozlowski]. Metcalfe and Christensen perform well, although the final "twist" wasn't the most convincing one I have ever seen.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Devil (The Night Chronicles)

I'm glad I didn't write this review straight after I saw "Devil" as I was a bit underwhelmed. But after having time to digest the 75 minute thriller, I am a bit more positive about what it has to offer. First of all, it was a refreshing change to go to see a horror movie that wasn't a remake, sequel or prequel. "Devil" was written by M Night Shyamalan, who has been on a downward slide since a couple of early successes in his career [most notably "The Sixth Sense" and in my opinion the underrated "Signs"]. He also Produced the film, but that's where the Shyamalan influence stops with "Quarantine" director John Erick Dowdle taking the helm. "Devil" is the first film under Shyamalans "The Night Chronicles" banner.
The premise is simple, 5 strangers are stuck in an elevator in a busy office building in Philadelphia. They are all a bit snitchy about being there, but their day is about to get a whole lot worse. As the title suggests, they have a guest who is causing trouble. 
Looking in at our lift inhabitants on the cctv security camera is the 'smarter than the average bear' Detective Bowden [played by Chris Messina] and security guard Ramirez [Jacob Vargas] who seems to have a hunch that he knows who is responsible for the mayhem that is taking place inside the lift.    
With the set up in place, the carnage starts. Lights go out in the lift, something pretty fucked up happens to someone in there.
**Major spoiler alert** 
Like all stories penned by Shyamalan, "Devil" has it's fair share of twists, turns and mysteries. One of the main issues I have with "Devil" is that the cast [Ramirez aside] spend most of the movie trying to work out what is happening, while the audience [again thanks to the title] know exactly who is behind all of the chaos.
Also, when all is revealed at the end, it seems a bit rushed. Unfortunately I spent the grandiose scene at the end of the flick trying to process all the info that was thrown at me in the minutes leading up to it. I was much happier with the other "twist", which reveals how all the major players in this affair find themselves caught in the middle of it.    
"Devil" has elements of "Phone Booth" [majority of the movie shot in a confined space], "Saw" [bad people paying for there sins] and just about any of Shyamalans films. As I said earlier, once I had time to take everything in that "Devil" had to offer, I found it an original and entertaining film. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come for 'The Night Chronicles'.   

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Monsters by Gareth Edwards.

"Monsters" is a very interesting movie. Somehow director Gareth Edwards has put this little gem together with a budget of $15,000. Yep, I didn't believe it either, but with a mixture of shooting on site, using actual locals as extras and doing his own CGI effects, Edwards has achieved a lot. Despite it's title, there is very little emphasis on the creatures the movie is about. They do pop up every so often to make an appearance, but for most of the flick they are out of sight. And amazingly, that doesn't make the movie boring. My interest was kept throughout, even though when I look back on it, not a lot actually happened. So if you are looking for lots of action or lots of monsters, keep looking.
The two leads are more than adequate in their roles, and as the story unfolds, you sense where they are both headed. 
I would call "Monsters" the 'thinking mans sci-fi monster' movie. It definitely has a bit of "District 9" about it. I was pleasantly surprised with how entertaining it was considering the angle it took in relation to the lack of alien creatures that we see. Kudos to Edwards, and lets wait with anticipation at what he can do with a bit of cash to spend on his next movie.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Loved Ones

**WARNING : spoilers ahead**
"The Loved Ones" was written and directed by first timer Sean Byrne, and if this film is anything to go by, the guy has a massive future. 
As far as Australian horror movies go, this is right up there with the likes of "Wolf Creek" [which I have always thought is just slightly overrated]. 
The setting, the performances from the cast and the macabre storyline all contribute to this being a very confronting film.

What I liked : 
The performance of Robin McLeavy as Lola :
There has been female "villains" in the past, but the performance of McLeavy as the truly scary Lola is masterful. It's the perfect balance of psycho and "daddies little girl". Even when she is doing unthinkable things to the near helpless Brent, she has a certain charm about her.  

The fact this is an Australian movie through and through :
"Saw" was created by Australians, "Ghost Rider" was shot in Australia, while "Daybreakers" was essentially Australian, except for a few US actors taking major roles. "The Loved Ones" is as Aussie as football, meat pies, Kangaroos and Holden cars. This country should be pleased that "The Loved Ones" along with Greg McLean's "Wolf Creek" is putting Australian horror films on the world map.

John Brumpton :
Congratulations John, you now star in two of my favourite horror movies. After nailing the role of "Poppy" in the 2007 "Storm Warning", Brumpton is incredibly creepy as the father who will do anything, and I mean anything, to please his little girl.

What I didn't like :

The first failed attempt to escape by Brent:
When main man Brent [played by Xavier Samuel] uses some quick thinking and a powerful kick to escape from the house the first time, he does everything perfectly until he actually gets out of the house. Did he leave his brains inside, because every move after that is incredibly dumb. I'm glad he didn't escape, but really, he should have. Climbing a tree instead of just jumping the fence is the jewel in the "dumb ass escape attempt" crown.

Overall :
"The Loved Ones" is a horror movie in the truth sense of the word. Terrible things happen and the "reveal" is something else. The performances are top notch, there is more than enough blood for the gore hounds, and despite it's short running time [somewhere around the 80 min mark], the story is complete. I look forward to the next offering from Sean Byrne.