Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Just come across this (snigger) in my drafts folder....pity to waste it really.
For the love of God why?
Dead Set (2008)
Dir: Yann Demange (I'm using 'directed' in the loosest possible way).
Cast: Jaime Winstone, Andy Nyman, Kevin Eldon, Davina McCall, Riz Ahmed, Adam Deacon, Warren Brown, Beth Cordingly, Kathleen McDermott, Raj Ghatak, Chizzy Akudolu, Liz May Brice, Elyes Gabel, Shelley Conn and Krishnan Guru-Murthy.
It's an eviction night on the hit Teevee show Big Brother but the country has more important things on it's mind, there are nationwide reports of violent disturbances and riots breaking out in every major city causing the shows porn-alike, pudgy producer Patrick (Nyman, sans his horns) to stomp around swearing and insisting tomboyish tottie Kelly (square headed Winstone) fetches him coffee.
Inside the house the contestants are also swearing and arguing (as is the norm) unaware of the growing panic outside.
Taking a break from frowning and serving drinks, Kelly decides to have sweaty, tabletop sex with a co-worker in a cupboard whilst her boyfriend, Riq (Ahmed) desperately tries to ring her.
You see, he's stranded at a train station after having his car nicked by an angry mother carrying a wounded baby (or something).
Anyways, he loves Kelly and is on his way to see her.
Back in the house, harsh faced Scottish harridan Pippa (the scarily horse faced McDermott) is in the process of being evicted when the studio compound is over run by what looks like rabid tramps (tho' it's hard to tell seeing as the director has equated excitement with making the picture go all blurry).
Inside the BB house, those remaining; Marky (ex-Hollyoaks rapist Brown), Veronica (ex-dead copper from top Brit Teevee show The Bill, Cordingly), transvestite nurse Grayson (Ghatak, not playing Bruce Wayne's ward), Joplin (rubber faced comedy rat-twat, Eldon), the faceless and destined to die first Angel (Akudolu) and trendy hip type Space (the ferret-like Deacon) continue their drinking, swearing and farting, oblivious to the carnage outside.
The tramps meanwhile have broken into the studio and decided to eat the harsh faced, half woman, half crow presenter Davina (McCall, playing herself).
Which is a blessing frankly.
Kelly manages to survive the attack by running away before barricading herself inside cupboard, leaving the bloke she just shagged to a grisly fate (aw, what a romantic girl) whilst good old Patrick, in a move that would make Bruce Campbell proud, legs it out the control room (throwing various production assistants to the zombie hordes as he goes) and cowers inside the disabled toilet.
After first kicking a man in a wheelchair out of it.
What an utter bastard/genius (delete as applicable).
It's the next day and life is pretty much the same as always in the house as the housemates continue arguing over who ate the last Cheerios whilst away in the studio Kelly is still stuck sobbing in a cupboard and Patrick, feeling hungry decides to leave the relative safety of the toilets for the comfort of the green room, where alongside the flat Champagne and volovants he finds a shot to fuck (yet still incredibly horsey) Pippa.
Kelly, meanwhile manages to make it to the camera rooms that runs thru' the walls of the house (narrowly avoiding a tramp) before entering the relative safety of the diary room and banging on the door shouting (and swearing) loudly.
Rushing to the door thinking a new contestant is joining the competition, the housemates are surprised to see a female Ray Winstone (but with smaller breasts), covered in blood and brandishing a pair of nail clippers blabbering on about flesh eating tramps. Between her screeching rants she occasionally goes "Shush! there's a tramp behind the door!" before swearing again and threatening to trim someones nails.
Marky the date-raper thinks that it'd be for the best if he just opened the door to prove that it's all a big joke (if only it was) but before Kelly can swear at him any more, a blood caked zombie cameraman bursts into the house and bites Angel.
Everyone stands around screaming until Kelly beats it to death with a handy fire extinguisher.
Back in the outside world Riq is hiding out in a petrol station snacking his way thru' the Doritos when the screech of tires and sounds of gunfire alert him to the presence of a fellow survivor, the butch, yet strangely attractive Alex (Brice, better known as the luscious lesbian Pat Kerrigan in the teevee prison panto Bad Girls), who forces him, at gunpoint, to load up her car with pop, crisps and sanitary towels before offering him a lift to the coast.
After driving around for a bit (well enough time to fill in some back story) the car runs out of petrol and our dense duo, after trying to fill it up with Ribena decide to hide out in a convenient country house just up the road.
Back in the greenroom, Patrick is tired of having to shit in a bucket whilst listening to Pippa neighing and banging her hooves but any attempt to escape is thwarted by an undead (as opposed to ungodly) Davina banging her head against the door whilst screeching like a really screechy thing.
No changer there then.
After a bit more swearing, the housemates decide it'd probably be better if they put Angel in the greenhouse at the bottom of the garden so that if she does become a zombie she'll have to fight her way thru' a load of rose bushes to get to them. Grayson, being the next less developed character and token homosexual reckons that being a nurse means that he should sit with her and mop her brow whilst whispering "You'll be OK" in a really camp voice.
Kelly, Marky and Space agree (without swearing) that they need to leave the house to go find supplies (and sticking plasters for Angels bitten out throat), leading them to make a daring attempt to travel to the nearest Asda.
On arrival, Kelly and Marky head straight for the tinned peaches, Muller Corners and copies of Heat magazine whilst Space, ahem, watches the van and looks mean. Which really doesn't impress the two cockney coppers that turn up.
Being nice policemen tho' everything is going swimmingly with chat ranging from who might win Big Brother to the nasty stains you get on your shoes when shooting the undead. But all this goes tits up when Kelly and Marky run out of the supermarket with a couple of zombies chasing behind (yes, unfortunately the undead here do that shite running whilst the camera goes all wobbly thing Ala 28 Days Later).
Suffice to say there's a wee bit of drama, shooting, stealing of guns and swearing resulting in some dead coppers and a lacklustre chase scene.
anything new or unique with the zombie genre....
so now you have to rape a turkey."
Back in the greenhouse Grayson (not dressed in a red tunic and green cape) decides to untie the recently deceased Angel resulting in a swift neck munch and much blood, mortally wounded he pushes her into the swimming pool before turning undead himself and starting to lick the patio doors.
Veronica and Joplin, taking a break from swearing at each other stab Grayson in the face just as, Kelly, Marky and Space arrive with a big bag of Pot Noodles.
Boiling the kettle, Joplin makes an interesting discovery. Angel is still in the pool, ergo zombies aren't intelligent(!)
Well, it's either that or her arse is so big she can't stand up.
Kelly shoots Angel in the head before giving one of those 'we can beat this' speechies that folk always do before they get killed in stuff like this.
Unfortunately not in this show.
Riq, on the other hand has made himself at home in the deserted mansion, sipping coffee and munching Hob-obs whilst watching the Big Brother live feed on E4 (makes a change from endless Friends re-runs I guess), Alex, on the other hand, is scanning the radio frequencies for any news updates.
And listening to the Adam and Joe Show podcast.
Almost immediately (which is very quick) Alex comes across a French radio broadcast and determines that the rescue boat (what? just the one? for the whole UK? well they are French) has just left port, leaving her stuck in a big house with Riq, but just as she's about to give him the news (about the lack of rescue, she's not going to sit in the corner of the room with a cardboard box on her head going 'Hello, I'm John Humphries'.) Riq spots Kelly alive and well (yet still strangely manly) in the Big Brother house.
Deciding that he must attempt to rescue his fair maiden and win back her heart (he's either a true gentleman or he's gagging for a bit of rough) he promises to buy Alex a box of Drifters if she'll help him.
As we all know, women can't resist chocolate so she takes him to the boathouse in the garden.
How lucky is that?
Sailing down a canal and looking for all the world as if they're scouting for locations for a remake of Zombie Lake (which to be honest seemed a preferable option at this point) it's not long before Alex is attacked by a dyke.
Or should I say a zombie whilst she's fiddling with a dyke.
Anyway, Riq knowing that a bite by a dyke can turn you into one of them axes her to death.
Patrick and Pippa finally manage to kill Davina (about fucking time), leave the shit stained green room and head towards the studio control area where they use the PA System to chat with the housemates.
By chat I mean that Patrick threatens to turn all the lights of and play crappy dance music turned up to 11 all day and all night till they come and rescue him.
Kelly and Space, slowly turning into council estate versions of Peter and Fran from Dawn of the Dead, set off on a daring rescue mission.
Patrick, reckoning that having a huge porn 'tache puts him in charge and (quite sensibly) wanting to spend as little time as possible with the merry band of losers who take part in Big Brother has a cunning plan to leave the compound and head for 'the coast', using dead housemates as bait to distract the tramps. Everyone else balks at the idea and sits around swearing whilst Patrick starts hacking up bits of Grayson. All that is except Marky, who is perched on a roof with an assault rifle wishing he was in a Romero movie (or by this point possibly even a Fulci, who can tell?)
Riq by this time has finally arrived at the studio and cautiously approaches the Big Brother house to be greeted by the resident Marky's-man (see what I did there?) taking pot shots at him. Luckily the fact that the sun is shining brightly off Riq's huge brow means that Marky is dazzled long enough for Kelly to scream "It's mahhhh boyfriend! Dahn't shoot 'im!" before Marky just climbs down and beats him to death.
Re-united with his true love, Riq endears himself to Patrick by persauding the others that he's a mustachioed mentalist and should be tied up in the toilet.
Patrick disagrees, but seeing as he's covered head to toe in blood and clutching someones severed genitals they do in fact, tie him up.
In the toilet.
face of utter fuckness.
Veronica thinks that this isn't enough and that they should shoot him as well (just in case) which causes a huge moral debate (with swearing obviously).
Whilst all this is going on Joplin excuses himself and goes for a wee, where good old Patrick tells him that the whole country hated him (as opposed to now, where they just want to eat him) and the other housemates think he's a boring old pervert. This comes as a shock to Joplin, tho' why I have no idea, seeing as earlier he'd been tempted to crack one of whilst Veronica was having a shower but there you go, so he unties Patrick and the pair burst into the dining area and take Kelly hostage.
The moralising turns into a dirty scrap as Riq fights to save Kelly and Patrick waves a big gun about as everyone falls into the garden, the sound of stinky tramps growing ever louder....
And no-one has noticed Joplin slowly making his way to the gates with a bucket of offal....
Originally broadcast in the UK over five nights leading up to Halloween in 2008, Dead Set seemed an exciting prospect; zombie gut munching on prime time teevee written by the countries leading wit, comedy masturbater and pop culture commentator Charlie Brooker.
So what went wrong?
I was looking forward to being able to vote on who would be eaten next or a drama where intelligent zombies use the house as entertainment, fattening up the housemates before eviction; a tottering undead Davina moaning 'I'm coming to get you Barbra' as the evictee is torn limb from limb by plackard waving skeletons.
Maybe my expectations of Brooker (a self confessed zombie fan) were a little too high but I think the audience deserved more than a few reheated 'best of' scenes from Romero's Dead saga (haphazardly delivered with the aid of nausea inducing editing) stretched out over a week.
But your average viewing pleb (sorry, viewer) seemed to enjoy it so what do I know?
Well, I know enough that if you're going to have a character mention Night of the Living Dead then you might as well be post modern enough to have him follow it up by pointing out how entirely similar the situation is and play against that, not just have him forget about it then look surprised when the biting starts.
The thing is tho' that it has all the hallmarks of being a great show, not just an average one; for every shoehorned Romero reference we get a really subtle Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue one that will no doubt go straight over most folks heads yet warm the cockles of a jaded horror fan and for every crappy 28 Days Later style running zombie (that film has so much to answer for) there's a comedy undead cripple slavering from his wheelchair.
Ultimately the show seemed to be aimed at those it was parodying; the Heat reading, reality teevee obsessed, crap haired culturally unclean. You know, the types that put Jade Goody where she is today (I mean they made her famous, not gave her cancer before you start to write and complain).
If you don't believe me check the comments on the E4 website.
It's not all bad tho' (only mostly) with extra special kudos going to Andy Nyman as the fantastic Patrick, the kind of cynical bastard that would only be as likeable as he is in a good, old fashioned British drama. He might have been a total arsehole but he was the only person able to see the gravity of the whole situation and be true enough to do what was needed, and I for one was rooting for him. His scenes alongside Kathleen McDermott were worth tuning in for alone and would have quite happily watched the pair of them arguing in a cupboard for five consecutive nights.
With or without zombies.
But more likely without.
The rest of the cast did a fair job to flesh out their characters beyond just swearing ciphers (some managed it better than others) but director Yann (director of the missing penis comedy Incomplete and a couple of episodes of Secret Diary of a Call Girl) Demange's (over) use of drab filters and the aforementioned shaky-cam killed any tension quicker than a bullet to the head.
I mean it's hard to feel involved when you can't see what's going on then when you do struggle to get the full picture you realise you've seen it all before.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
My Bloody Valentine (1981).
Dir: George Mihalka
Cast: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Keith Knight, Larry Reynolds, Patricia Hamilton, Alf Humphreys, Cynthia Dale, Helene Udy, Rob Stein, Tom Kovacs, Don Francks and Peter Cowper.
February the 14th, 1960, and the small mining town of Valentine Bluffs is having its annual Valentine's Day dance; a tradition that the townsfolk have followed for the past century.
Everyone is frugging away to hit pop tunes and tanking the local home brew save for five miners still digging away at the coalface and their two supervisors who, feeling particulary frisky and not wanting to have gotten dressed up for nothing, decide to leave for the party whilst their colleges are still underground.
I mean it's not like anything could go wrong is it?
Well, nothing except a huge explosion caused by a build up of methane gas (see? who says films aren't educational?) leaving the five miners buried alive (and more importantly, late for their dates).
After hours of digging (thru' rock, not the 1960's fashions) the towns rescue workers finally reach the trapped men. Unfortunately all except Harry Warden (the films stunt coordinator Cowper) are dead.
And poor old Harry has gone a wee bit mental because of the ordeal, so the local townsfolk cart him off to the Shady Nook rest home for a while.
You can see why tho', you really don't want some dirt covered, piss stained fella crying about his dead buddies when you're trying to get into the vicars daughters undies do you?
After spending a year sitting in a pair of toweling pajamas and staring into space whilst dribbling Harry is deemed fit for release and is sent home on the eve of the accident that sent him mental in the first place.
Which is nice of the doctors to take this into consideration when thinking about discharging him.
It should come as no surprise then to find out that the first thing he does on arrival is butcher the two supervisors who left their post early to go dancing and leave a chilling warning for the townsfolk that if they even think about having another Valentine's Day dance, he'll return once again to take bloody revenge on the town.
Which is a little extreme don't you think?
Jump forward to 1980 and, whilst the mine is still the town's main place of employment, there hasn't been a single dance or party held in town since that terrible night in 1960.
That is, until now.
You see, lovely old lady Mabel Osborne (Hamilton, star of The Fenn Street Gang and Upstairs, Downstairs - no, really) has decided that the town needs something to look forward and to forget about the mine disaster and wacky Warden.
To this end she spends her every waking hour decorating the town with Valentine's Day decorations whilst the younger residents begin to get all excited at the prospect of a night of dancing, drinking and shagging in bushes.
As Valentine's Day draws ever nearer the town's Mayor, Jeff Hanniger (Reynolds, better known as Judge Burton from the hit teevee show Street Legal) wakes to find a resh human heart wrapped in a lovely Valentine's Day packaging has been popped thru' his letter box.
Which at least shows that the town has a damn good postal service, I mean I'm still waiting on a box of blank DVD's after three weeks.
Attached to the box is a warning to expect a few more killings if the town decides to go ahead and celebrate Valentine's Day.
If this wasn't enough of a warning the mysterious messenger has murdered poor Mabel as well, just to show he means business.
Hanniger calls off the dance, getting local police chief Jake Newby (Francks, the voice of Sabretooth in the X-Men vs. Street Fighter video game no less) to tell everyone that Mabel fell down the stairs and that it's being cancelled as a sign of respect.
But the hotheaded (yet deep) miner (and son of the town's mayor) Jessie 'TJ' Hanniger (Ryan O'Neill alike, bollock squashing jeans wearing Kelman), recently returned home after failing to make it as an exotic dancer in the big city, desperate for a drink and gagging for some of the sex of his ex-girlfriend Sarah (blond, sensible underwired bra wearing teevee stalwart Hallier) decides to throw his own special Valentine's party down in the mine itself.
You can tell that beneath his rough exterior that he's a nice guy tho' because along with Sarah and all the other hip young miners he's also invited Sarah's current beau, the uber-cool Axel (Affleck, better known these days as an animation timer on The Simpsons).
Well, it's either that or he fancies a Sarah Spit roast.
But can you guess who's already down the mine waiting for the young uns to turn up?
Yup it's horrid Harry Warden, all decked up in Kwik Fit garage overalls and a handy gas mask ready to slice n' dice his way thru' anyone who even remotely looks like they may start jiving or cutting a rug as the young folk say.
Unfortunately a couple of the miners and their girlfriends have decided to start the party early and head down into the mine for a little tour (and some kissing and stuff), giving Harry a head start to his killing spree and the chance to stick something unexpected into the ladies.
When Jessie and co. finally arrive to discover a pile of corpses they begin to realize that Warden is indeed back for vengeance.
Trapped in the mine with only a six pack of Bud and the homicidal Harry chasing them with a rusty pick axe, the remaining party goers must try and escape before they too end up having a very bloody Valentine....
George Mihalka's My Bloody Valentine is probably more famous for what it was missing rather than what appeared on screen, as nervous Paramount execs decided to gut the film of any and every gore scene before it's release way back in 1981.
Despite this the movie still stands up as a competent (if slightly pedestrian) little shocker with an interestingly dressed villain and slightly more rounded than usual characters, taking an essentially cheesy premise yet playing it totally straight.
Luckily some smart Alec decided to remake My Bloody Valentine as a high concept 3-D shocker (the rights must of been cheap) so, suddenly all that missing footage has turned up and been quickly re-instated allowing for the directors original vision to finally be seen as intended.
Or to make a few extra bob of those punters too young to remember the original.
And what a difference it makes.
Adding an extra dimension to the manic miners reign of bloody terror, the scratchy footage (it's been stuck in the directors loft for 28 years so what do you expect?) gives a much missed air of evil nastiness to Wardens revenge, making you wonder why this gas masked gimp was never taken to the audiences hearts as so many other slasher stars of the era were.
Competently acted, nicely shot and directed with a steady, workman-like hand (obviously the rest of George's body was OK too), My Bloody Valentine deserves a wider appeal.
Hopefully the kids'll give it the chance it deserves.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The original review of this classic Japanasty appears to have gone walkabout but never mind, here's a brand spanking new (yet surprisingly short for me) one!
You lucky people.
Junk: Evil Dead Hunting (Junk: Shiry Gari 2000)
Dir: Atsushi Murago
Cast: Nobuyuki Asano, the lovely Miwa, Kaori Shimamura, Shû Ehara, Tate Gouta, Natsuki Ozawa, Koutarou Tanaka and some other folk.
Super sultry yet stony faced fox Saki (Shimamura, clothes shedding star of XX: Beautiful Beast and Moon Angel) and Akira (big faced 'Score' bad boy Ehara) are (the more interesting and well rounded) members of a groovy gang of joke shop masked jewelery thieves who's recent spate of high profile robberies have been bought to the attention of the mysterious Mr. Ramon (Ehara, another star of Score), the local (very well dressed) Yakuza crime lord.
Deciding to meet up with Mr. Mafia at a local deserted warehouse, our criminal chums are slightly surprised to discover that this is also the location of a top secret research laboratory where fiendishly diabolical experiments to bring the recently dead back to life (using the patented formula DNX) are taking place.
I mean, what are the chances of that?
Doctor in charge, the beleaguered Jun (Asano, in his first -and only- starring role) has become obsessed with re-animating corpses since his ball headed wife, Kyoko (the mysterious Miwa, star of the cross gendered classic Sukeban Boy) died suddenly a few months before and reckons that if he can get the formula to work, his wife will come back as good as new.
And in no way hungry for human flesh.
It comes as no surprise to find that:
A. Jun's wonder drug does, in fact work.
B. There is a (fairly) serious drawback in that it does indeed turn the newly re-animated dead into flesh crazed monsters.
Cue lots of screaming (tho' it's mainly from Saki complaining about various men or the trouble she's having trying to buy a new car - it's good to get your priorities right), various gangsta types running about crying and a couple of Saki's pals becoming the main course in a full on zombie feast.
Will Saki and her big bag of cash make it out the warehouse in one piece?
Will Kyoko strip down to only a pair of thigh high leather boots and indulge in a wee bit of high kicking undead action?
And more importantly will Saki ever get the deal she deserves on a new motor?
Let's be honest here, when a film has a title like 'Junk: Evil Dead Hunting' you pretty much know what to expect really and Atsushi Muroga, the man who gave us the lo-fi heist/high mantenance mullet movie 'Score!' and the Elvis haired Sergio Leone tribute Blowback 2 certainly delivers the goods.
With his trademark mix of brash bad boy burglars and robberies gone wrong in place, Muroga has decided that this time round he's gonna add a bunch of hungry undead (led by a topless zombie queen no less), some cheap n' cheerful gore effects, horror cinema's grumpiest ever heroine and a squad of top marines straight out of Aliens to the recipe.
And what we end up with is a movie that is loud, silly and (oh so) slightly sexy in equal (and vaguely schizophrenic) measures.
What more can I say other than it's utterly shite Friday night trash cinema at its best.
Just to let everyone know that over the next few weeks I'll be 're-imagining' The Arena, artexing over a few of the less amusing posts (that'll be most of them then), re-jigging a few of the earlier reviews (from 'this film is good. See it' to 'this film is good -arse reference-. See it') and generally trying to appeal to the masses in an ill advised attempt at credibilty.
You have been warned.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
As well as the usual messages of abuse (hundreds), screener discs (well, i've received one so far), links to films I should watch (and yes whoever you are, I'll get round to reviewing Gayracula as soon as) and threats of legal action, I sometimes get emailed nice stuff too (yes I know that sounds surprising).
Occasionally tho' I receive something so unexpected it scares even me.
This happened last week.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Another month, another list of Unwell (literally) favourites to pop their clogs.
It's not as bad as last month, but only just mind you.
First up we lost the B movie king that was Edmund Purdom at the age of 84. As well as appearing in some of the greatest movies ever made (including Invaders of the Lost Gold, Dr. Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks and 2019: After the Fall of New York) he also directed the fright-tastic Don't Open Till Christmas. Of all the movies he appeared in tho', our fave appearence is as the (uncredited) voice of the man in the elevator in Umberto Lenzi's Nightmare City.
Also on the acting front, January saw the deaths of ex Commissioner Gordon Pat Hingle and the legendary fright haired God of all Daleks, John Scott Martin whilst Number 6 himself, Patrick McGoohan was gassed and taken to the big village in the sky.
Stoogies founder member and official rock gawd Ron Asheton found his heart attack no fun, as probably did actor/director/everything really, Ray Dennis Steckler, AKA Cash Flagg.
It must have been a bad heart month, seeing as the human face of the Lost in Space Robot, Bob May's ticker also gave out.
Also gone (but not forgotten obviously) were all round art genius Tony Hart, American film producer famous for his work with Lord Ray of Harryhausen, Charles H. Schneer, American television horror film host Bob Wilkins and veteran Indian comedian (famous for his wacky turns in such movies as Neer Kumizhi, Yarukkaga Azhuthan and the brilliant Edhir Neechal).