Monday, October 31, 2016

for the love of loomis.

In honour of All Hallow's Eve a quick tribute to the ultimate scream queen and first cinematic crush for those of us of a certain age, the very lovely Nancy Loomis.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

tall in the saddle.

2016 has been an utter cunt of a year so we've had Steve Dillon taken from us.

Fucking gutted.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

that thing you do.

I'm off to see the great god John Carpenter* so in tribute to the man himself I've decided to revisit the straight to DeeVeeDee delicacy that is Harbinger Down.

Unless you live in the UK where they retitled it Inanimate.

As opposed to just calling it Spooky Shite in the Snow and have done with it.

I mean what do you expect when the man famous for making the 'Predalien' and trying to attach hoover pipes to the back of the monster suit in Alien 3  much to the affront of David Fincher - decides to direct a threepenny remake of The Thing which promises absolutely no CGI effects.

Well maybe a few.

Well, what could possibly go wrong?

Harbinger Down (AKA Inanimate. 2015).
Dir: Alec Gillis.
Cast: Lance Henriksen, Camille Balsamo, Matt Winston, Reid Collums, Milla Bjorn, Winston James Francis, Mike Estime, Edwin Bravo and Giovonnie Samuels.

It's June 25th, 1982 around 8.30-ish in the morning (you can tell by the lighting) and a (non-CG, honest) Soviet spacecraft is racing toward the Earth’s atmosphere in a vain attempt to return home in time for the first screening of John Carpenter's The Thing.

Yup, always good to start your film with a nice in-joke to keep the interweb geeks happy.

Obviously the unnamed astronaut has already seen that movie's pre-credits teaser tho' seeing as he's thrown caution - and originality - to the wind by trying to copy that spacecraft's trajectory in a kind of airborne tribute not seen since the heady days of the Red Arrows.

It'll come as no surprise then when the poor sod crashes into a barren, icy landscape.

Lance Henriksen wonders where it all went wrong.

Jumping forward 33 years later and the much maligned on release movie is now considered one of, if not THE best monster movies of all time and John Carpenter's finest work.

As much as I love it tho' I did recently come across what I think is the reason for its lack of success at the box office.

The films title which is frankly nonsensical.

John Carpenter's The Thing?

No he's not.

Plus there are no characters that go by that name - or anything similar - in the whole film.

Audiences were probably put off by thinking that the title gave away who the monster was so didn't bother going to see it, those that did where probably confused looking for this mysterious John Carpenter character during the movie and missed all the good bits.

With hindsight perhaps a better title would have been 'Director John Carpenter wants to remake the title sequence from the Howard Hawks/Christian Nymby original film but has taken his inspiration from the original short story about a shape-shifting alien'. 

Tho' that would have left less space for the artwork.

But I digress.

Anyway, it's still 33 years later - from the films opening, not from the last time I typed 33 years later because that would now be 66 years....or 99 if you count the 33 years in the explanation....hang on I've typed it again - and woolly hatted college student Sadie (Balsamo from TeeVee's Murder in the First), her big haired buddy Ronelle (The Suite Life of Zack And Cody's Samuels) and their creepy professor Stephen Merkin (John from Cincinnati's Barry Cunningham himself, Winston) are all set for a nice cruise aboard the  crabbing vessel Harbinger in order to stick some GPS trackers to a group of beluga whales.

As you do.

The best thing about the trip is that it's absolutely free, thanks in part to the ship being owned by Sadie's granddad, the salty seadog Captain Steffi Graff (Henriksen), which means that professor Merkin can blow the allocated travel budget on giant sized bottles of Just For Men, tubes of Pringles and cherry fragrant lube.


Camille Balsamo desperately searches for an original idea...or halfway decent special effect.
After the obligatory meet the crew bit - yup all the cliches are here and accounted for including the sexy Kurt Russell wannabe Bowman (Collums), grumpy man mountain Big G (Francis), wise-cracking black dude Dock (Estime) and saucily secretive Soviet sexpot Svet (Bjorn, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal was busy - or has a mediocrum of taste, obviously) - the whale watching fun begins.

Luckily the film is quite short so it's not long before the Harbinger crew have dragged the crashed Russian spacecraft from out of the icy depths and on board the ship.

Originally mistaking it for a Ferguson Videostar VHS machine due to it's size and abundance of big buttons they elect to store it in the hold and thaw it out in the hope that it will still work, therefore enabling them to sell it on Ebay and all retire as rich men.

Except Svet who'd be a rich woman obviously.

If you concentrate you can still hear the CLUNK.

Upon further investigation its true nature is revealed, along with a freeze-dried cosmonaut and a box of worms.

Worms that for some reason or another have been genetically altered to assimilate DNA and and kill stuff.

As to why this is never made clear but most likely because it looks cool.

Or it was at least meant to.

Once thawed the wacky worms mutate into a massive day-glo monster hell bent on devouring both the students and the Harbinger’s crew, messily absorbing them into an ever-growing nightmare of latex, KY Jelly and headache inducing lighting effects.

With only a few flame thrower-like liquid nitrogen guns for defense, Sadie, Captain Graff and the rest of the crew must band together before the creature can complete it's plan of total domination of the worlds crabbing industry.

Or something.

Let's be honest do you really care?

Really truly?

"Put it in me!"

Way back in 2010, the Academy Award-winning character effects studio Amalgamated Dynamics (look them up, they've done loads of stuff including Starship Troopers, Death Becomes Her and AVP) or ADI as they are much more sexily known, were hired to create the practical monster effects for the abysmal 2011 'prequel' to The Thing.

Yup, we're back to that movie again.

Unfortunately much to ADI's annoyance and to general viewer apathy, the studio decided to replace all their practical effects work with an incredibly shoddy amount of cheap CGI of the kind not seen since the days of the Playstation 2 for no other reason than that's how Hollywood works.

Given the choice between swallowing it down (I'm assuming that they still got paid) or burning down the Universal backlot, Alec Gillis and his pals sensibly decided on a third option.

They would use crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to raise money for their own monster movie which they would make using only practical creature effects created through the use of animatronics, prosthetic makeup, stop motion and miniatures.

The beauty of this idea was twofold, firstly there was already a huge audience clambering for a return to the 'real' effects based films of yesteryear plus - and most importantly if it turned out shit then ADI wouldn't be out of pocket.



Frighteningly realistic effects from the 2011 version of The Thing.

Well their hearts might have been in the right place but unfortunately Gillis appears to have left his directing skills down the back of the sofa.

A sofa that was then covered in petrol and set light to.

And to make matters worse all the original ideas for the screenplay were in a folder behind the cushions when he did it.

Alongside a post-it note with the names of a halfway decent cinematographer, an editor with two good eyes and a competent lighting guy.

On a brighter note he at least had Lance Henriksen's number stored in his phone.

As well as all those dodgy photos of him shagging a goat that he was going to use to blackmail him with.

Because to be honest I can't imagine any other reason for him wanting to appear in this.

I mean he can't be that skint surely?

Shite in mah mooth? Shite fucking everywhere more like.

It's to Henriksen's credit tho' that he, alongside the rest of the cast manage to breathe any life at all into the paper thin characters on show but even then it's an uphill struggle thanks to a piss-poor script that desperately attempts to recall the heady days of 80's body horror but ultimately just leaves you longing for a re-watch of George P. Cosmatos' Leviathan instead.

And not just the scene where Amanda Pays has a shower in her undies.

Kudos especially to Milla Bjorn, who fights valiantly against one of the most ludicrous character arcs I've ever had the misfortune to sit thru' and to poor old Reid Collums who thanks to being forced to wear a stick on beard whilst carrying around a toy fire extinguisher looks for all the world like a small boy cosplaying Kurt Russell as Macready.

At least if they'd written the whole thing as a self-aware black comedy none of this would have mattered.

But they didn't and it does.

Amanda explanation needed.

Neither good enough nor bad enough to be truly enjoyable, Harbinger Down seems happy enough to settle for just being average and when you stop and think about the talent involved it's a crying shame.

I bet John Carpenter live is fucking brilliant tho.

*Unless you're reading this at any other day except Saturday 22nd October 2016 obviously.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

future tense.

Just because, a collection of retro sci-fi art.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

welcome to chimneys.

As a wee break from all this horror here's a wee tribute to the genius of Fred Dibnah.

"Hello chuck I'm Fred Dibnah!  A warlock specializing in pyromania!"

Click on the links below to enjoy:

Don't say I'm not good to you.

Monday, October 10, 2016

people you fancy but shouldn't (part 63).

Channel 5 Milkshake presenter Jen Pringle.

Nuff said.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

who ya gonna call?

Remember that movie with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Harold Ramis where they went around fighting ghosts?

Remember when they remade it with a female cast and nobody complained?


Well then you mustn't have seen....

High School Ghosthustlers (AKA Haisukûru gôsutobasutâzu,1995).
Dir: Yoshinori Nishikioro.
Cast: Yuko Kitamura, Senna Matsuda, Yuka Nakamori, Daikichi Sugawara and  Minami Kurihara.

It's just an ordinary day in downtown Japan and students at the seemingly ordinary Ronresrie high school in Japan are busying themselves with serious study type stuff and the like.

All that is except for three oddball friends; Kyoko (the button-nosed Matsuda best known for Aoi hanabi and posing in a swimsuit), Mayu (big-faced beauty Kitamura best known as the voice of Sofia in Kaitei Daisensou: Ai no 20.000 Miles) and Emi (pant flashing photostar Nakamori), who are spending every waking minute - much to their teachers chagrin - setting up the school's very first Supernatural Phenomenon Research Club.

Which is kinda lucky really seeing as within minutes of then sticking the club sign of a noticeboard the school is suddenly being plagued by a string of bizarre suicides and spooky piano music after dark.

Nothing like getting straight into the action.

Especially when the films running time is just shy of 70 minutes.

Who you gonna call? Childline possibly.

So could the school really be haunted?

The club's faculty adviser, the terrifyingly eyebrowed Mr. Terry Shimada (TeeVee stalwart Sugawara) seems to think so and asks the girls to investigate.

Which seems a wee bit odd and even a little foolhardy until you think about it, it's probably a wee bit easier and a hell of a lot less embarrassing getting the kids to look into it than trying to persuade the police that there are ghosts involved (from my numerous run ins with the police in Tokyo they'd most likely pat him on the head and tell him it was rats) plus lets be honest, if any of the girls die during the investigation Shimada can always say it was just another suicide.

You have to hand it to him, the guys smart.

Our cute trio jump at the chance and immediately offer to mount (snigger) a midnight 'vigil' at the school and later that night, armed only with their home-made ghost hunting backpacks and a Hello Kitty torch sneak away from home and into the school gym.

Cue 10 minutes of short-skirted, pant flashing japes as our tween trio stumble around in the dark jumping occasionally when the mistake a shadow for a monster.

Comedy gold I'm sure you'll agree.

Realizing by this point that the audience may be losing the will to live waiting for some bona fide ghost action the 'spooky' music mentioned earlier suddenly begins to play, causing the girls to shiver and shake in their barely fitting (and fairly flimsy) school shirts.

Which is nice.

Not to worry tho' as it's just grounds-keeper Shimada, the schools Scottish  janitor practicing his Chopin after dark so as not to disturb anyone.


No ghosts, ghouls, kestrels or hockey clad maniacs here then.

Or are there?

Inside Stuart Hall's mind.

Just as the disappointed darlings are about to leave the school, the janitor - now clad in a pound shop hockey mask no less - comes searching for the trio.

It appears he's been a very bad lad, forcing himself on the girls at the school before using his hypnotic powers to persuade them to commit suicide in order to cover his tracks.

You never got this in Grange Hill.

Which is a shame because as a kid I actually wrote a storyline where the lovely Georgina Hayes (Samantha Lewis - like you needed reminding) was haunted by the spirit of Danny 'Deadpool' Kendall that culminated in an ectoplasmic undead orgy during sports day.

The production team never answered my letter.*

Do you remember the first time?

Apart from the mask, any resemblance to a certain Mr Voorhees is soon laid to rest when the girls easily beat the jailbait jiggling jannie into submission before calling the relevant authorities.

Which is kinda worrying that Japan has an entire police department dedicated to catching hypno-eyed pedo janitors.

Tho' it does kinda explain why my Uncle Rob turned down a job there.

After a nice cup of hot chocolate and a few hours sleep the girls return to school the next day to a heroes welcome from the very grateful Mr. Shimada who, it transpires has another job for them.

Yikes, it's turned into a teenage Charlie's Angels but with starchier underwear and slightly more believable plots.

Talking of plots let's get back to this one where it seems that he kids over at the rival Onin high school have been playing about with Ouija boards causing the sailor suited female students to suddenly drift into deep trances and shed their uniforms.

Mr. Shimada has an ulterior motive for wanting the girls help tho', he is madly in love with the bookish Miss Yuki (the glass-eyed Kurihara in her only film role), a teacher at the school.

Shimada hopes that if the team can stop the supernatural stripping that it will impress her enough to allow him to take her to dinner.

See? It's not all saucy spectral shenanigans - there's a human interest story too.

The girls eagerly agree to help and, after watching a few of the (more attractive) students spookily undress - whilst writhing around and shouting "mwaaaaaaaah" obviously - for a while announce that the school is suffering from 'bad feng shui', which Emi decides to rectify with a quick exorcism.

Cased closed.

 or is it?

Well there is half an hour left and none of the main cast had shed any clothes yet so what do you think?

On closer inspection Emi discovers that whatever demons possesses the school - and it's nearly naked pupils - is refusing to leave without a (very sticky and tentacle based) fight and is already hatching a diabolical plan to stop the girls.

Or at least come up with a scenario that will have them stripped to their undies and covered in KY jelly whilst wriggling about clutching some hastily painted hose pipes in a vain attempt to suggest that they're being molested by monsters.

If nothing else you have to admire their dedication.

I wouldn't want one of them swimming up my arse....then again...

As the girls attempt to head back to their school in order to formulate a defense, poor Yuki (remember her?), overcome with fear rushes to the toilet for a big wee where she is unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you feel about - PG friendly -  hentai) attacked by scary mind controlling slugs.

Tho' how they manage to take over her brain by crawling up her leg and under her skirt rather than in her ear is a mystery I still can't fathom.

Must be a teacher thing.

Approaching the school gates our haunting-hating heroines alongside the lovelorn Shimada are accosted by a decidedly much less librarian-like Yuki (now looking like a bad Belinda Carlisle drag act) who, with only a flutter of her eyelashes and a tease of ankle manages to convince Shimada that there are no ghosts in the school and the stripping/tripping girls thing was just rehearsals for the Christmas panto.

Sounds legit.

"Aye Shimada I forgot to say, it's the weans nude day today!"

She then seductively whispers that she needs to talk to him in private.

Ding dong.

Rather than wait around for him to come back the girls decide that seeing as they've got a free couple of hours plus all their hi-tech ghostbusting gear with them that'd it'd probably be in their best interests if they had a wee poke around anyway and to this end Mayu breaks out the patented 'annoyingly high-pitched, no really if it doesn't stop I'm putting my foot thru' the screen' ghost detector, a device that appears to serve no purpose other than keep the viewer awake long enough to see the next slimy thing crawls into a ladies secret garden scene.

Which, don't worry, will be along shortly.

But first Kyoko and Emi have a toilet full of horny horror slugs to deal with.

With Mayu keeping watch (well she does have the biggest face and by default the largest eyes) the dynamic duo get down to kicking some slug arse - tho' to be honest I'm not too sure if slugs have arses).

Everything is going swimmingly (sluggily?) until one of the wee blighters sneakily makes its way into Mayu's undies transforming her from a studious student of the supernatural to a raving lesbian saucepot in a matter of seconds.

But that's not all as now our baw-faced beauty is intent on having 'the sex' with Kyoko and Emi.

Whether they like it or not.

Luckily Emi has hitherto unmentioned psychic powers and is able to see the sex starved spirit possessing her friend and therefore exorcise it before Emi sheds  too many clothes.


"Is it in yet?"

Regrouping (and redressing) the girls are startled by a strange moaning noise that appear to be coming from the gymnasium and rush to investigate, finding, to their horror  - and possibly disgust -  a naked Mr. Shimada being violently ridden by the possessed Yuki.

But worse than that, Emi can see that the once mousy teacher is actually possessed by the ghost of a hugely obese sweaty old man.

Just go with it, it's much easier trust me.

Emi attempts another exorcism but the fat man is too strong, turning her spooky powers against her before possessing both Kyoko and Mayu.

Don't worry too much tho' as before he can psychically debase our delectable duo who should turn up but Emi's dad.

And guess what?

He just happens to be a professional exorcist.

Lucky eh?

Using his knowledge of the dark arts - alongside a feather on a stick - he rescues the trio and leads them to safety.

What a guy.

Just a pity he couldn't be a few minutes later tho'.

Can you tell me what it is yet?

It appears that Emi's dad has made an interesting discovery, Onin High is actually built on a former red light district famously frequented by  Mr. Bunbei "ten girls a day" Echigoya; a fat sweaty old man who famously died under a prostitute.

Unfortunately he died before 'his ship had set sail' so to speak and his frustrated ghost had become a magnet for every other sex-starved spirit in the afterlife.

And now these spirits are lose, accidentally released by Emi when she attempted to exorcise the school earlier.

With the evil power gaining strength thru' the possessed pupils orgasms (and the remaining slug transforming into a 6 ft tentacled cock creature) will the girls alongside Emi's dad  be able to defeat the horny horrors of Onin high and save the soul (not to mention the honour) of Ms. Yuki?

Well there's only about 12 minutes left so they better be quick about it.

Suited and booted for battle - in, I kid you not camouflage bikinis and some streamers on a stick -  and armed with ghost sucking vacuum cleaners the girls charge into the school and begin to attack the fat mans ghost army, battling their way to the roof in order to confront Mr. Bunbei and end his randy reign of rudeness.....

You really have to feel for writer/director Yoshinori Nishikioro now seen as a major player in Japanese cinema - his 2002 film The White Ship marked the highest national box-office revenue of all Japanese films screened at independent cinemas in Japan that year - his other movies, including Heart of the Sea (2003), Miracle Banana (2006) and RAILWAYS (2010) are celebrated for his warm and detailed depictions of everyday life whilst his heart-warming Aomori-set family drama WASAO (also 2010), the tale of a “busakawa-ken” and its relationship with the townsfolk around him saw him hailed as Japan's Steven Spielberg.

Mysteriously tho' if you check his official website it lists his directorial debut as the 1996 film Baguzu.

You remember Baguza don't you?

It starred Gô Awazu as a fisherman.

If not you really should search it out because it's actually very good.

But I digress.

"Fiona! Where's mah lunch?"

So why would he lie about his first film?

Is he not proud of the first - and best - gender swapping supernatural comedy?

Or did the evil empire that is Sony cruelly threaten him with legal action and/or violence if he didn't destroy every copy save it make their 2016 reboot look bad?

You decide.

Saying that I've read somewhere that he was frankly mortified to be associated with a straight to video paranormal perv-fest that objectifies girls in school uniforms as masturbation fodder whose only reason for being onscreen is to be defiled by poorly built tentacles and clockwork slugs?

Nah, that's ludicrous.

Dr. Jillian Holtzmann. Just because.

If there's anything for Nishikioro to be embarrassed by it's the fact that despite it being an excuse to indulge the (go on the mainly male) audiences schoolgirl fetishes whilst showcasing a good few pervy tentacle scenes for good measure, he somehow managed to make the film into a - fairly - family friendly comedy that is not only at times actually funny but also manages to be surprisingly not that offensive.

Plus it's lit well and looks nice  - Ye gads, i'm discussing the production/shooting values of a Japanese VOD movie - which is a pleasant change from the usual crap (sorry, undiscovered gems) I watch.

And let's be honest the ghosts on show here are actually a wee bit more impressive than those in Ghostbusters '16 plus the genuinely sinister Bunbei Echigoya pisses over Neil Casey's embarrassingly bland Rowan North.

If only Paul Feig had used this as the basis for his all-girl reboot we'd be here hailing it as a comedy classic rather than a so-so played safe reboot attempting to bask in audience awareness of a much-loved brand whilst attempting to alienate it's core fan group**.

Plus the thought of Kate McKinnon proton-packing a load of CGI monster cocks whilst dancing to DeBarge is something modern cinema needs.

Recommended to anyone who likes a good old fashioned Carry On/St. Trinians style British comedy.
Albeit one with added slimy cock monsters and tentacles.

Which if I'm honest is most of the folk reading.

*They did answer my submission to Eastenders tho' here's the proof alongside my storyline.


**And before anyone starts sending me death threats - it's not unusual - I actually really enjoyed the Ghostbusters reboot.

So there.