Tuesday, September 2, 2014

most taunted.

Another month, another lo-fi found footage epic.

But this time with added perv gurning.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you...

The Possession of Michael King (2014).
Dir: David Jung.
Cast:  Shane Johnson, Cara Pifko, Dale Dickey, Julie McNiven and The Devil.

Photofit everyman Michael King (Johnson, famous for his role as Soldier on the Beach in Saving Private Ryan), a groovy documentary film maker with a beautiful wife, poppet daughter and a healthy disregard for anything paranormal or religious based.

Yup he's a cool headed, science is king kinda guy.

Which would be great if the movie was anything other than a possession themed one, which alas it isn't.

You see things started going a wee bit awry for our film making mucker when his wife Samantha (voice artist Pifko from The Clone Wars), cancelling her holiday plans on the advice of a psychic named Beverly (road map faced Dickey) is tragically killed in an accident.

There is a wee bit of good news tho' when it transpires that it was pissing down with rain the week they'd planned to go to Blackpool anyway.

Silver linings and all that.

Blaming Beverly for his wife's death whilst cultivating a rather fetching five o'clock shadow Michael decides to channel his grief not into the usual pattern of tearful masturbation sessions followed by a couple of Pot Noodles but
into making a documentary regarding his personal quest to discredit not just psychics but anything and anyone supernatural related.

Including Yvette Fielding and Mystic Meg, who if I'm honest I'd thought had died years ago.

Yvette: Tunnel or funnel?

With his best buddy on camera duty Michael takes on the role of narrator cum whipping boy with relish as he throws himself head first into every kind of paranormal activity he can find; from chatting to asthmatic ex-priests to taking part in a demon summoning, spunk guzzling drug orgy via a corpse bothering undertakers unusual pre-burial practices, our hero throws himself into the bizarrest aspects of the supernatural with the gusto of Jimmy Savile targeting a bed-ridden child.


Which is all well and good (not to say admittedly well done) until that is he discovers that he may well have become possessed by an actual bone fide demon.

And one with an unhealthy ant fetish to boot.

King: Prawn or spring rolls?

Cue sixty odd minutes of our eponymous hero having acid-style flashbacks and growling at his daughter, attempting to do impressions of old man Steptoe
into a night vision camera, scratching himself in inappropriate places whilst vainly trying to touch up his sister Beth whilst she sleeps.

Saying that tho' she is played by the yumsome ginger goddess that is Supernatural's Julie McNiven so you can understand why, possessed or not.

Plus he's gentleman enough to pull her nightie down when he's finished which kinda makes it OK in my book.

"Don't leave me 'Arold....."

Is this a real case of possession or just a grieving widows slow decent into madness?

Will the rash on his tummy ever clear up?

Are the ants CGI or especially trained?

And most importantly will he fuck his sister?

Or yours?


Writer director Jung shows some real promise and a flair for good old fashioned frights with this his debut movie, creating some genuine creepy moments (the psychiatrist office and Satanist celebration scenes to name but two)  before the whole film rapidly degenerates into a horribly cliched possession by numbers found footage laugharama resplendent with comedy gurning and embarrassing 'Boo!' effects that cheapen the whole experience causing it to hemorrhage viewer interest like a haemophiliac child at a self harm convention.

Which is a shame because the film could be so much more.

You can almost forgive it when a quite frankly scary plot twist seems imminent (that Michael is actually being possessed by his dead wife) but this turns out to be just the demon showing off his comedy voices.

Perhaps the demon of bad film-making entered David Jung during the shoot and deliberately sabotaged  the movie for fear of it telling the truth about demonic possession?

"It could be yooooouuuuuuu!"

 Actually this makes some sort of sense, I mean how else can you explain how the ultra-real, show stealing performance from Shane Johnson suddenly goes from showing a genuinely warm believable character to an end of the pier panto villain with the flick of a light switch?

It's Last Exorcism syndrome all over again.

And on that bombshell can we at least have a person possessed by a demon that isn't a contortionist at some point in the future?

I mean the effect is good and all but it really became tiresome during The Devil Inside and that was nearly five years ago.
Here's an idea, how about a demon that does a slightly different circus skill?

Like balloon modelling or unicycling?

Now that would be scary.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

sound and vision.

Presenting the Arena tapes Vol. 1....movie music lovingly rejigged and remixed especially for those lonely, Pot Noodle fuelled Friday nights. 
Download and enjoy.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

sweet dreams.

I don't know what's more disturbing, the subject matter or the artwork.
I'd say enjoy but....

Sunday, July 20, 2014

family ties.

Greetings readers!

As luck would have it I think I may have finally found a way of juggling all these half finished reviews with my 'proper' job of drawing dead rockstars and ropey robots.

Yup I'm going to take a leaf out of one of those TV Quick/Take A Rape style magazines and review the last few months of marvellous movies in oh so easy to read digest form.

No mooth shite, no big words and definitely no laugh now's, just a few cheap digs and a basic plot outline.

Are you ready?

Then let's begin.

La notte dei diavoli (AKA Night of the Devils, 1972)
Dir: Giorgio Ferroni.
Cast: Gianni Garko, Agostina Belli, Roberto Maldera, Bill Vanders, Cinzia De Carolis, Maria Monti, Teresa Gimpera and Umberto Raho.

Tragedy strikes an unfortunate travelling wood salesman, Lesley (played by the mightily moustached Maldera) when he's carted off to a local asylum after he's discovered wandering thru' the forest clad only in a dirty sweater and torn Action Slacks.

Prodded and poked by the concerned (or constipated, I couldn't tell) Dr. Tosi (Enter The Devil's Raho) our mental mates terrifying tale unfolds through the medium of dance (oh go on then, flashbacks), leaving him horrified to discover that he's become embroiled in yet another remake of the Leo Tolstoy novel The Family of the Vourdalak.

But this time not one directed by Mario Bava or starring Boris Karloff.

"You ain't seen me, right?"

It transpires that during his trip home from a particularly successful building conference Lesley, after drinking far to much of the local brew and taking a wrong turn managed to wrap his car around a tree leaving him stranded in the Yugoslavian countryside.

Which is a wee bit like being stuck in Dudley in the West Midlands but with less chance of getting your arse felt by a tramp.

Luckily (for the viewer obviously otherwise it'd be a really crap horror movie) he finds shelter for the night in the home of the Ciuvelak family, headed by grumpy patriarch Gary (Vanders).

All seems well, until night time that is when our hero (if you can class someone who self MDF and hardboard for a living a hero) is kept awake by strange noises emanating from the woods but upon questioning his host the next morning he's told not to worry as it's just a bloodthirsty witch that lives in the trees.

Which is nice if a little unexpected.

After running out of strawberry jam, Madeline McCann made a stunning reappearance.

It seems that the witch killed Gary's brother a while back before deciding that it'd be a wee bit more fun for everyone to resurrect him as an exotically monikered Vourdalak, a mythological Russian vampire with a penchant for time keeping, fact fans.

Anyway back to the plot where Les seems to be taking all this gypsy gossip in his stride, which might be because he's fallen head over heels in love with Gary's busty redheaded daughter Sdenka (button nosed beauty Belli), either that or the constant bowls of oxtail soup and bread are beyond compare.

Agostina Belli: Your grandad did. Twice.

Either way he doesn't even bat an eyelid when Gary decides to don a big furry hat and heads out into the woods to confront the witch once and for all.

Number one son Terry (Garko) tho' is prepared for the worst, fearing that his poor dad will get vamped and return home the next day at precisely 6 o'clock and wreak havoc on the household.

See? Told you there was time keeping involved, I don't make this shit up you know.

Well, not all of it.

Beware! He's going to put his big chopper in you!

Suffice to say that Gary does indeed return at the allotted time the next day looking a wee bit greener than normal (which he blames on trapped wind) but insisting that he has in fact killed the witch and isn't a vampire.

The family (being a bit fick) believe him.

It won't come as too much of a surprise when I say that he's lying thru' his pointy teeth, leading to 60 minutes of death, depravity and dodgy trousers.

"I'm sorry, I have my woman's period."

Criminally under-rated and hardly seen by anyone outside the directors immediate family, Giorgio (AKA Calvin Jackson Padget) Ferroni's penultimate picture is a slow burning supernatural shocker that's a joy to watch from it's starch slacked start to it's devilish denouement. 

Whilst it never reaches the giddy heights of the directors earlier Mill of the Stone Women it's well worth the effort to track down, if only to compare how two totally different film makers approach the same source material.

"Shite in my gorgeous Italian mooth you wood loving bastard!"

Whereas Bava's vision is all clinging atmospherics, subtle lighting and and knowing nods from Karloff, Ferroni decides to go straight for the jugular from the start, the film’s opening minutes featuring as they do a barrage of blood and boobs before quickly settling down into a more sombre state as the story begins good and proper.

With a pitch perfect cast playing the whole scenario as straight as Chuck Norris,
Ferroni is free to let his camera camp up the proceedings as it treats both gore and nudity with glee abandon.

And it's this freewheeling style, aided by Giorgio Gaslini's sinister score that enables the film to flip from gothic chiller to frantic chase movie almost without warning as it builds to it's climax.

"Is it in yet?"

T'is a pity then that such a great movie is lumbered with such a generically piss-poor title, which probably hasn't helped it's availability (or reputation) over the years, which is almost as much a shame as the fact that Ferroni made so few horror movies.

That and the fact that his best known work, Le baccanti (AKA Bondage Gladiator Sexy) is rubbish.

Well that's a bit of a downer to end on isn't it?

Friday, July 18, 2014

when cosplay goes bad part 41.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

twat twoo!

Greetings dear reader(s), as is the way of these things that after only a recent return to Arena postings I’ve been inundated with work (what do you mean I don't have a proper job?) meaning that I've not had time to update.

But then along came a movie so delusional and utterly pretentious that I couldn't let it pass unmentioned.

Children I give you....

Lord of Tears (2013).
Dir: Lawrie Brewster.
Cast:  Euan Douglas, Lexy Hulme, Jamie Gordon, the 'Foxy Bingo' fox, David Schofield and Big Bird.

I am the immortal owl
The foul eye of oblivion I am the almighty misanthrope, The rope that tightens with the ticking of the clock. I am the absolute and infinite blackness at the end of the tunnel. I am the inevitable end of all things.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen
I am the walrus, goo goo goo joob goo goo goo goo joob.

After his mother dies of extreme arthouse-ism (you know the thing, random shots of eyes, birds, hands and various shrubbery), shockingly ginger school teacher James (expertly played by a confused, steam cleaned testicle) inherits not only a quaint semi in Gourock that would make Homes Under The Hammer's Martin Roberts wet with envy but also a big country house in Baldurrock.

Bizarrely, even tho' his dear old mum has bequeathed it to him, she insists that he never goes to visit it.

The wallpaper can't be that bad surely?

"Even taking into account the dodgy dancing Yank and the twat in the bird hat this house is still worth a tidy sum!"
It appears that as a child, James had a breakdown whilst living there and ultimately tried to drown himself in the swimming pool.

Were his family hiding a case of satanic abuse of Savile proportions?

Chance would be a fine thing.

Anyway our hero (after taking a class of school kids so wooden it's a wonder the poor sod wasn't blinded by splinters) decides to discuss his new found wealth with fellow teacher and best buddy Allen (Foxy, of Foxy Bingo fame, taking a well deserved break from persuading council estate scum from gambling away their benefits before watching Jeremy Kyle) who unfortunately can only nod in agreement and talk about marbles and Action Man in between bouts of drinking whisky due to the fact that he's more worried about his dad dying of cancer than how much his pal will make on the property market.

Which is nice if a little depressing.

"Hello Dad! How's yer cancer?"
Throwing caution (and any hope of linear storytelling) to the wind James heads up to Baldurrock to confront his childhood demons (well, confront a gypsy in a comedy bird mask) and finally make some sense of why his parents abandoned him.

Surprisingly it's not crossed his mind that they too might have found him an annoying shit and wanted rid of him as soon as but there you go.

After the by now obligatory Scottish tourism montage (hills! rain! seagulls! more rain!) cut to an easy listening version of the Wicker Man score (cheers for that screenwriter and composer Sarah Daly) James finally arrives at his family home to be greeted by the mysterious (re: sketchily fleshed out) token Yank Eve (Hulme), a character whose only personality traits appear to be dancing badly at every opportunity no matter how inappropriate and finishing every sentence with an annoying giggle.

Oh yes and to be American to appeal to the overseas market.

Cynical? Moi?

It's grim up north.

And so begins a mystery of such arse clenching tedium as to make A Field in England look like Citizen Kane in comparison as we experience (in what seems like real time) James' descent into extreme nervousness intercut with copious amounts of dreary landscape shots, random footage of insects and our twitchy teaching pal talking into an electric razor for no reason other than at the end of shooting the director realized that there was no way Allen could have known what was going on in the house so they had to add these scenes in so it looked like James was keeping a diary of the events as they unfolded.


As James' stay at the house continues the lines between dreams and reality (as well as those between embarrassment and annoyance) become even more blurred and cliched than the actual plot, with twist and turns so heavy handedly signposted as to make you want to ring up Yellowbrickroad's Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton and beg their forgiveness.

For example as Eve takes a dip in the pool a song with the lyrics about being a ghost plays out over the action and this is even before she reacts badly (in every sense of the word) to having her head dunked underwater, commenting that it's almost like this had happened before but she'd forgotten

If nothing else it disproves the old Harrison Ford adage as it appears that it is possible to type shit and say it.

The mention of talking shit brings us neatly to the films protagonist 'Owl Man' who, unfortunately for us doesn't in fact do whatever an owl can, instead just occasionally appears dressed in what appears to be a collection of Jon Pertwee's cast offs and wearing an approximation of the killers mask from michele soavi's classic Stage Fright.

Albiet one made from memory by a hook handed child.

To make matters worse he doesn't do much  of anything when onscreen apart from stoat about in a manner reminiscent of a drunken uncle at a wedding whilst spouting dialogue so utterly contrived that it's some small mercy that the sound mix is so bassy that you have a hard time making most of it out.

Or maybe that was my brains way of trying to ease the pain.

Frankly I'm not risking watching it again to find out.

The most terrifying thing about the character is that they got stage and screen god  David Schofield to voice it.

I mean his mortgage can't be that expensive surely?

What did the poor guy do?

Fuck Lawrie Brewster's sister?

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?
Suffice to say the film builds (very) slowly to it's 'shocking' climax (that yes, has been hinted at throughout) via what seems like a twenty minute tribute to Japanese horror cliches re-enacted by a community centre drama group.

Scarily it appears that the scenes sole inclusion appears to be either in the vain hope that none of the audience have seen Ju-on et al so they'll think this stuff is all new or in an attempt to win us over by going "Look! we're paying homage to your fave films! Like us!"

Unfortunately it just makes you want to go back and watch the originals.

Saying that at this point I'd have been happy to watch a documentary on testicle removal via a rusty tin than anymore of Euan Douglas pulling a myriad of variations of this face:

Andrew Marr, up the casino, Brighton, 1987. YESCH!

Jesus Christ it was like the Groundhog Day equivalent of walking in on your Dad at the point of climax.

And trust me I know from experience.

"Laugh now!"

Readers with long memories (and short nails) will know that I'm all for a wee bit of style over substance occasionally (Amer anyone?) but Lord of Tears stomps about with it's (massive paper mache) head held high in the mistaken belief that it has both in abundance, screaming - well mumbling deeply - "Look at me I'm fantastic!" which if it was even half as clever - or entertaining - as it thought it would probably be OK.

But unfortunately it isn't.

Kudos where it's due tho', their website looks nice and the bonus material you get with the release seems lovely, featuring as it does everything from the soundtrack CD, a flip box with 8 panels of 'Gothic' art, a booklet of Owlman Incantations and a 440 Page book of Owlman stories all hand wrapped in black tissue and feathers but unless you've got a halfway decent film to go with it what's the point?

It's almost as if those responsible had never actually seen a horror movie before (or, gulp even a movie of any kind outside their art class) and just assumed that the audience hadn't either, so decided to dip into a big bag of creepy cliches and throw them at a wall hoping a few would stick.

Either that or their parents have to be a wee bit more honest with them when it comes to opinions on their work.

The biggest disappointment tho' is the fact that underneath all the art school pretence and self indulgent bollocks is a good little Celtic ghost story straining to get out, which is a crying shame as Scotland's history is steeped with myths and legends worthy of the big screen treatment.

So why is it we end up with this and Sawney: Flesh of Man?

Saying that it was retitled Lord Of Darkness for it's overseas release so perhaps in reality it's the 'L' word that's to blame?

Just a thought.

Different shit, same smell.

One disturbing thing did stick with me after the film had finished tho' and that was the fact that although Owl Man is referred to throughout the film as the Bible-based bad boy Moloch, Moloch is more readily described as a massive gold cow.

The owl-headed demon featured in the film is actually a named Andras.

Spot the difference? Lawrie Brewster can't.

Call me pedantic but it helps if you get these things right.

Especially where murderous demons and Aspie reviewers are concerned.

The Wicker Man remake anyone?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014