Wednesday, March 1, 2017

the morning after the fright before.

Slowly recovering from another glorious Glasgow Frightfest weekender and with a window in my oh so hectic work schedule I thought I'd actually pop some mini-reviews together within a few days of it finishing, unlike the usual 6 months later.

Not that anyone reads this anyway.

So prepare yourselves dear reader(s) for a wacky weekend where teen vamps and hunted tramps, radioactive beasts and Spanish (untranslated) tweets sit muckily alongside a variety of bloodthirsty killers, bearded blokes with dodgy tattoos and instantly forgettable found footage fodder.

Oh yes and an incredibly obnoxious arse of a man who complained that my hair was getting in the way of him reading the subtitles during Shin Gojira so could I get it cut before Saturday?

Just because you have a head like a freshly shaved testicle doesn't mean you should take it out on me.

And as an added incentive to read the reviews will be much shorter than normal due to more more able folk being their who can actually string sentences together.

"I can't see the film can you lift me up?"

First up tho' a thousand apologies to Gore Verbinski (and fans of big-chinned, button-nosed babes writhing around naked in baths of eels) because I totally missed A Cure for Wellness due to being in a pub watching a rather fantastic band whose name escapes me right now.

Tho' if any members are reading this email me and I'll give you a plug.

Or a wee kiss.

Can't say much fairer than that can I?

Apart from I missed Phantasm: Remastered too (tho' not Phantasm 2 which I saw the opening night at a slightly scary cinema outside Dudley) but did make up for it by watching it when I got home.

I even cleaned my glasses to give it that polished up feel.

But it's Phantasm - you don't need me to tell you how fucking brilliant it is.

And with that it's with the Friday good and proper, beginning with director Matthias Hoene's big budget kid friendly French-Chinese funded kung-Fu caper...

The Warrior’s Gate (France/China 2016)
Dir: Matthias Hoene.
Cast: David Bautista, Sienna Guillory, Mark Chao, Ni Ni and Uriah Shelton.

Worlds skinniest teen Jack Flatley (Shelton), spends his free time (when he's not being bullied at school or trying to help his recently divorced mum pay the bills by working for a kindly Chinese guy who's definitely not Stephen Chow) playing the video games with his portly pal Dave in order to escape the drudgery of life.

One day tho' after a fairly enjoyable BMX chase (no really) his boss bequeaths him a magical wooden washing basket.

Which would be a pretty shitty gift if it didn't have the power to open a spooky space/time portal that leads to ancient China.

Trump better not find out about it.

Visited one evening by fearsome warrior bloke Jeff Zhao (Chao) who on mistaking our teen pal for the character he plays online leaves the cute as a (Communist) button Empress-in-waiting Su Lin (Ni Ni) in his care.

Why did this never happen to me as a teen?

It appears that evil barbarian king Arun the Cruel (Bautista) has killed her father and now wishes to marry Su Lin in order to take over the whole kingdom.

Being a bit shit outside of the game poor Jack is easily overcome (tho' not cum over it's only a 12) by a gang of Arun's men who stream out of the box one night and kidnap the Empress.

Realizing that he'll never pull anyone so attractive in real-life our hero quickly follows them into the past, teaming up with Zhao and a oh-so slightly camp wizard in a flying hat and heads off to adventure.

Will our heroic trio be able to defeat the bad men and rescue the girl?

"Here come The Belgians!"

Director Matthias Hoene's brightly coloured, bilingual blend of 80s kids classics (BMX Bandits, Labyrinth and The Karate Kid come to mind) The Warriors Gate is the kind of popcorn adventure movie you adored as a 12 year old - which is probably why it annoyed a few of the virgin neckbeards in the audience, reminding them as it did that they will never feel the touch of a woman and therefore never have kids.

Well not in that way.

Personally I loved it, true the 'heroes quest' seemed a wee bit easy - stopping every few minutes in order to meet a witch (or three) or monster then learn a lesson -  but it's heart was in the right place and the cast (especially 'Big' David Bautista) seemed to be having a ball.

And Ni Ni's costumes were really pretty.

Plus she has the milkiest, smoothest thighs I have ever seen on the big screen.

A perfect Saturday afternoon movie to watch with your kids and unashamedly entertaining, frothy fun that would actually make a pretty cool TeeVee series.

From ancient China to the deserts of Nevada now as we discover that....

It Stains the Sands Red (USA 2016)
Director: Colin Minihan.
Cast: Brittany Allen, Juan Riedinger and Merwin Mondesir.

But doesn't live in a pineapple under the sea unfortunately.

Tight-vested vagabond Nick (Mondesir) and his bright-legging loving GF Molly (A brilliant performance from Allen) are desperate to escape a horrendous flesh-eating apocalypse - as opposed to a non-horrendous happy one - via the scenic Nevada desert.

When forced to stop so that a pissed up/coke smashed Molly can throw up Nick is attacked and killed by a lone zombie (Riedinger) who then proceeds to chase the poor girl thru the desert.

With only a few bottles of water and half a pint of vodka for company our high as a kite heroine must attempt to outrun a stalker who has no need of rest.

Or even to stop for a wee.

In a world gone mad Molly begins to realize that this creeping cadaver is now her only link to reality and a relationship - of sorts - begins to blossom between the two. 

A kinda Romero-wrapped Waiting For Godot - or even Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are (un)Dead - this fantastically played (and perfectly paced) two-handerthat has fun with it's concept - and those well worn zombie tropes - ultimately becoming much more than just another undead flick.

Veering from creepy chase movie to buddy comedy via family drama ISTSR is the freshest spin on the zombie genre since The Battery.

True it really should end about 10 minutes before it actually does - the added coda really adds nothing but a wee bit of visual spectacle to the proceedings but thanks to the sheer enjoyment value of everything that's gone before you can forgive it.

This deserves to be seen by a much wider audience.

By that I mean more people not fatter ones.

"I'm not really a welder!"

Next up was a film I was kinda worried about seeing as the publicity material I'd read described it as "A nihilistic meditation on millennial angst and the defense mechanisms needed to protect the vulnerable spirit." which frankly usually means arthouse arse as far as I'm concerned.

I mean Rubber anyone?

So imagine how great it feels when you get proven totally wrong.

The Transfiguration (US, 2016)
Director: Michael O’Shea.
Cast: Eric Ruffin, Chloe Levine and Aaron Moten.

Orphaned African-American teen Milo (A fantastically underplayed performance from Ruffin) in an attempt to escape his depressing life of school, bullying and bothersome brother business decides to drench himself (quite literally) in vampire lore gleaned from such horrors as Nosferatu,  Let the Right One In, The Lost Boys and Near Dark.

His bedroom is covered with posters, his cupboards stuffed with VHS tapes whilst  his journals detail his research and rules regarding the undead.

His (fairly unusual) lifestyle is changed forever tho' when he meets his new neighbour Sophie (A brilliantly Bambi eyed turn from Levine), a strangely wise yet innocent girl who has moved in upstairs to live with her violent grandfather.

What can I say about Michael O'Shea's directorial debut other than it's one of the best and most affecting vampire movies I've seen and one of my favourite films of this year.

Vintage vampiric cinematic gold.

See it.

Shin Godzilla (Japan 2016)
Dir: Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi.
Cast: Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, Satomi Ishihara, the lovely Mikako Ichikawa and Gojira.

The first Japanese Godzilla movie since 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars, Shin - literally meaning 'pure' - Godzilla (the 31st film in the Godzilla franchise, the 29th Godzilla film produced by Toho, and Toho's third reboot of the franchise fact fans) sees The King of the Monsters majestic return to the big screen in a film that has more in common with Ishiro Honda's original 1954 original than any other that have proceeded it.

And for that we should worship at the feet of directors Hideaki (Neon Genesis Evangelion) Anno and Shinji (Sinking of Japan, Attack On Titan) Higuchi.

Remembering the originals nightmarish take on Hiroshima and Nagasaki thru' the medium of giant radioactive monsters, Shin Gojira evokes memories of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake with its ensuing tsunami plus the meltdown at the Fukushima reactor whilst cheekily taking jabs at the Japanese and American governments along the way as the movie mutates into a kind of Yes Minister Monster Mayhem mash-up.

Disliked by those sad individuals whose only exposure to Gojira seemed to be the '98 US reboot or the latter Toho output where he dances whilst punching fuck out of a variety of ever more ludicrous antagonists (or just Godzilla's Return) - to those of us who fell in love with the grainy black and white original at an early age this film is the ultimate in Kaiju Kino.

"Fiona! Where's mah lunch?"

Rounding of the first (full) day of Frightfest was Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson’s mash-up of Turkey Shoot and The Most Dangerous Game via The Purge....

Happy Hunting (USA 2016)
Dir: Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson.
Cast: Martin Dingle Wall, Ken Lally, Kenny Wormald and Connor Williams.

Happy Hunting is the tale of piss-stained drifter Warren Novak (Dingle Wall) who, after receiving news that his old girlfriend has died leaving him a young daughter he never knew he had heads off to Mexico to make things right.

Pursued  by a couple of dodgy drug types after a meth-lab love-in ends in a messy shoot out our pissed pal ends up in the small town of Bedford Flats looking for a bed and a burger before heading on his way he's surprised to discover that the locals enjoy nothing better than rounding up drifters and hunting them as part of an elaborate sporting event.

Nicely played and confidentially directed, Happy Hunting is an enjoyable enough movie but just lacks that certain something to make it a great one.

Probably a giant lizard or some such.

"He did WHAT in his cup?"

With Friday night over there was just enough time to sample the friendly Glasgow nightlife before heading to bed in order to be refreshed for what promised to be a day packed with some of the best horror movies ever made.

Oh and...


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