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Lars Lindstrom is an introvert, and is very uncomfortable around people including his own family. Instead of living with his older brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and sister-in Law Karin (Emily Mortimer) , Lars lives in the run down shed to the side of the house.
Understandably when Lars announces the arrival of internet friend Bianca, his family are shocked, but relived that he finally seems to be embracing life. Lars informs them that Bianca was a missionary from Brazil, who's now on a sabbatical so she can experience the world. Oh by the way, Bianca is a life size anatomically corrected life-size doll.
Believing him to be nuts, his family turn to their family doctor in the hope that she can help. Rather surprisingly Doctor Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson) advises them to go long with it. Enlisting the help of their local community, Gus and Karin just pray that Lars will eventually dump the doll in favour of real people.
Released in the UK in March this year, Lars and the Real Girl was in out of the cinemas in the blink of an eye. Many critics slated it for it's lack of realism, and others were put off by the 'relationship' between a man, and a doll. Please don't let this put you off watching this, as I for one loved every 102 minutes of it.
On the offset the film sounds as if it belongs on the top shelf of a seedy porno shop. However this film comes with a 12 certificate, so don't expect any scenes of a sexual nature. There is one hilarious scene though where Karin's curiosity gets the better of her, as she wants to see what exactly is under Bianca's dress. That scene alone is worth getting hold of this film.
Lars and the Real Girl is Director Craig Gillespie's, and writer Nancy Oliver's first film project. If this film is a sign of things to come, then I shall one will be keeping an eye out for future projects of theirs.
The film covers so many issues from relationships, to mental illness, to religious tolerance, and each one is dealt with in a sensitive manner. While we currently live in such broken society, this film is a reminder of how we should be living.
While neither of them in no way mocks people with a mental illness, there are many lighter moments in the film that will have you in stitches. While many would have struggled to get the balance just right, this film is prove that it can be done .
Yet again Ryan Gosling puts it a truly believable, and heart warming performance as the dysfunctional Lars. Throughout the film I just wanted to hug him, and routed for him just hoping that at the end he would be a more confident person. Don't miss this opportunity to hear Gosling sing, it's a performance and a half to say the least.
The supporting cast equally put in top notch performances, each of them making their characters someone we can all relate to. Paul Schneider who played Lars's older brother was the one I could relate to the most, as like him I'd find it hard to pretend that everything was normal, while at the same time wanting to help.
Emily Mortimer shows once again in this film what a versatile actress she is. I could really feel her character's pain watching Lars slip further away from life.
Patricia Clarkson is equally as memorable as the troubled doctor who tries to help Lars, and Kelli Garner who I've never seen before was very endearing as the possible love interest for Lars.
Simply breathtaking is one of many words I could use to describe the film's setting, as well as being a very appropriate backdrop.
I have never come across a film which uses a location so well to represent it's story, and a characters long emotional journey. The beautiful soundtrack was equally as fitting, and I defy you to not be able to hum/whistle the tune that keeps playing long after the film has finished.
To sum up, I hope by now you get a good idea of how much I love everything about this film. It's not often I'm so excited about seeing a film that I pre-order it's DVD release, but I just couldn't wait to see it. I've been disappointed on so many occasions when a film never lives up to it's promising trailer, but then most of know they're designed to make a film look good, and reel you in. This film is one of those rare gems that I knew 5 minutes in that this one was going to be a keeper.
I'd recommended this to fans of indie films, and to those of you that like a story with real heart.
The DVD is available to rent/purchase, and hmv currently have it in stock for £12.99. It's worth every penny!
After her mum dies of a drugs overdose, young Jeliza-Rose and her father Noah go to stay in his deceased mother's farmhouse in Texas. Jeliza -Rose like she has always done fixes her father up so he can go on one of his 'Vacations', but this time Noah doesn't return to the land of the living. Not realizing that her father is dead because she's used to seeing him unconscious, Jelzia-Rose descends deeper and deeper into a fantasy world. Her only 'friends' are Barbie doll heads, which sit on her fingers, and together they explore new adventures. It's not long however before she meets Dickens who's mentally challenged, and his sister Dell, the crazy bee lady. For Jeliza-Rose, the fantasy world in which she surrounds herself maybe the only world she'll ever know.
Released in 2005, Tideland received many negative reviews, and it was almost a year before it was screened in America. Many critics described it as bizarre, awful and disturbing, and compared to other comments on the film they were being kind.
As Terry Gilliam said himself about this film, Some of you will love this film. Some of you will hate it. Others won't know what to think- and that's okay, as long as you are thinking. I fall into the latter, and having been largely disapointed by his previous film 'The Brothers Grimm', I wasn't holding out much hope for his latest film.
When watching this film like Gilliam states it is important to try to see it through the eyes of a child. Those of you unable to do this will most likely be sickened by the films subject matter, and stop watching it immediately. For it's 2 hour duration Tideland covers drug abuse, death, taxidermy and what some might consider as an age-inappropriate romance between Jeliza-Rose and Dickens. While I'll put my hands up and admit that some of the scenes aren't easy to stomach, I never once felt include to reach for the remote.
Tideland is essentially about the world as seen through the eyes of a child. Take for example Jeliza-Roses relationship with Dickens, while many people have described it as sick, it is no more than an innocent friendship between two childish minds. At know time is their relationship a sexual one, and a quick kiss on the lips is as far as it goes.
Many people will be able to relate to the fantasy world in which Jeliza-Rose creates, and how hard it can be to rejoin the real world.
Like Gilliam's previous film 'The Brothers Grimm', Tideland is a feast for the eyes. Filmed on location in Canada, the scenery is simply breathtaking. Likewise, the costumes that the main characters wore were stunning.
The very talented Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill) played Jeliza-Rose, and did an amazing job at carrying most of the film. I would agree though with other critics that her accent sounded peculiar at times, but overall Ferland was very entertaining throughout.
Jeff Bridges doesn't have a lot to do in this film, as just looking stoned and shouting is all that's required of him. The same can be said for Jennifer Tilly who is in the film even less. The pair of them put in average performances, but luckily, their characters do not hang about long.
Janet McTeer was quite impressive as the disturbing and scary Dell. There were times though where she over did it and developed into the 'bad guy' at pantos.
Full credit must go to Brendan Frasier as the mentally challenged brother of Dell. Having seen him in other films, it took along time for the penny to drop that he was Dickens. He put in a very believable albeit disturbing performance and I hope that people see more of his talent in the future.
With a running time of 2 hours, there were times when Tideland felt unnecessarily drawn out. Many scenes, particularly in the first half where Jeliza-Rose was playing dragged on for far too long. The second half is the complete opposite and the ending while appropriate enough just felt rushed.
The film's rated 15 for bizarre and disturbing content, including drug use, sexuality, and gruesome situations - all involving a child, and for some language. Believe me when I say that the rating is well justified.
Overall Tideland is engaging, different, and most of all it's thought provoking. While Terry Gilliam's films may be to extreme for some, I for one love the majority of his work, and can't wait for The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus next year.
Tideland was released back in 2005, and can be found at Amazon for around £5.
In a Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane, Dr Vannacutt and his team subject the patients to various 'treatments' which ends up killing a lot of them. One day the patients decide it's payback time and kill nearly all of the staff, and then set light to the place.
Years later the house is rented out by Steven Price, who wants to host a Birthday Party with a difference for his wife Evelyn. A group of strangers are invited and offered a million dollars each, providing they stay in the house until sunrise. It's sounds easy enough, but when the house locks itself up, this will be one party they'll wish they hadn't attended.
I can count on one hand how many remakes I've enjoyed more than the original. Since I hate the 1959 version, I stupidly believed that this version couldn't be any worse. Suffice to say that this film was indeed even more dire, and what was worse is the fact the it started out quite promisingly enough. As with so many horror films special effects take precedence over a coherent plot and character development, and what we're left with is a film that is average at best with the occasional hint of what might have been.
HOHH is cliche ridden to the hilt, making this yet another predictable horror film that yields very few surprises. One scene where one of the motley crew goes filming and gets a little more than she bargained for is very unnerving, and if the rest of the film had been of that high calibre then we'd be talking about one of the best horror films of it's time.
For a house that so called haunted, there's actually very little that will have you scrambling for the light switch. Expect to see lots of blood, dismembered body parts and the ghosts of the tortured patients (hence the 18 cert), but you'll more than likely be laughing at it all anything else. Also, since when has a man in a bowler hat bouncing a ball been scary?
It's a joint botched job between both the Director and screenwriter, as the first seems incapable of creating tension, while the other has the actors deliver nonsical lines at every given opportunity. Throughout the film the viewer is treated as if they're thick as two short planks at every given opportunity, each event is explained to the viewer as if it wasn't obvious enough what was happening. In one scene as the hunt is on to find one of the party, they come across what is quite clearly a pool of blood. Just incase the viewer has no idea what blood looks like, one of the characters points at it and asks what it is. Well unless somebody got into a mess making a jam sandwich, I think it's safe to say its blood you fools.
The wooden acting adds to the film's already long list of faults, as most of them look bored ridged throughout. The characters are so paper thin that when they are dispatched I couldn't have cared less, and only Chris Kattan as the owner of the house just about came out of the proceedings with his credibility in tact. He undoubtedly had the best lines out of the bunch which helped, "You don't... get it... do you? This house is pissed. It has no morals, cuz it's a f**g house!". While at times he was he was a little too annoying, I did actually feel quite sorry for him and wanted him to make it out alive. The most disappointing of the performances for me was that of Geoffrey Rush, as I've seen him him do much better. In this he just seemed lost and hams it up way too much.
With a 90 minute running time the ending seemed as if it would never come, as the film dragged on for what seemed like an eternity. The constant bickering between the prices started off entertaining enough, but soon seemed to drag on just to pad out the film.
I'm just relieved that I rented this film, as it's certainly not worth buying for multiple viewings. To be honest it's no worse than many other horror films about, but the trouble was I was just so frustrated by the fact that it could have been so much better.
Not recommended unless you really are that bored, and then there's always watching the grass grow in your garden.
HOHH was released on DVD in 1999, and is available used/new from £4.34 at Amazon.
Brenda Martin arrives one night at the local hospital with blood all over her hands. She informs the police that she was a victim of a car jacking, and the man responsible is an African-American. It's only when Agent Lorenzo arrives and questions Brenda that she reveals her 4 year old son was in the back seat of the car at the time.
Brenda's brother who is also on the force goes berserk and orders for the projects community to be sealed up, as he believes they're all trouble and that they won't have to look far for clues.
As racial tensions grow between the white and black communities, Lorenzo struggles to do his job as he can't help shake off that feeling that something just isn't right with the case. He enlists the help of Karen Collucci the leader of a group of volunteers who help look for missing children. Together they must piece together the clues to find out what really did happened to little Cody that night.
Predictable is one of many words that I could use to describe this film, and more to the point one of the nicest words I could use. Falling at the first hurdle it soon became obvious to me that this film was going nowhere and fast. In the first 5 mins alone I new who was responsible, as apart from having the perpetrator/s name in neon lights it couldn't have been any more obvious.
Joe Roth has very little experience in directing films and is more used to producing, and this film clearly shows that he just can't handle being at the helm. The film feels drawn out with unnecessarily over long speeches by the characters, and various plot threads appear only to quickly disappear in the blink of an eye. For a film that should have made uncomfortable but at the same time thought provoking viewing, I felt very let down by the end the result. You would imagine that child abduction and racism would make for some unpleasant viewing, but somehow Roth manages to wash over that and made me as a viewer care very little about what happened to the characters.
True to stereotype, very rapidly the projects community is shown to be a bunch of trouble makers, while Brenda is the drugged up single mum struggling to cope with day to day life.
Seeing as though the rioting is sparked by the accusation that a black man kidnapped a white boy, the two storylines never seem to gel as one would expect them too. It almost seems like to separate films that have been thrown together, each having the potential to work well on there own but failing to do so in this.
The film is not a complete failure however as there's one scene that actually does work well, and hints and what might have been had the film been put in the hands of a more experienced director. Karen opens up to Brenda about the disappearance of her own son who was never found, and for a moment I was pulled in and engrossed by that one conversation. Had the rest of the film been that fulfilling then I would be highly recommending at least one viewing of it.
Even the main stars of the film sadly failed to shine, which again reflects on the films poor direction rather than the more than competent acting skills of its main stars.
Julianne Moore plays the mother of the missing the child, but rather than evoking sympathy I found her on the whole very annoying and way over the top. I usually enjoy any films with Moore in as I find her performances very believable, but in this film she just seemed lost and uninterested in the role she was playing.
Samuel L. Jackson who is an equally accomplished and enjoyable actor to watch, also fails to put in a believable performance. Like with Moore it's not entirely his fault, in his case his character was so underdeveloped that I never got a sense of who he was and what his beliefs were.
It's only Edie Falco's character Karen that's allowed to develop a little more than the others, and it's a shame that she too is brushed aside as I felt that her story could have been worked into the film more.
With a running time of just under 2 hrs, the ending couldn't have come soon enough for me. As I said at the start it was all too obvious who was responsible for the boy's disappearance, it was then just a case of padding the film out to reveal the whys and wherefores. To be honest it was a miracle I managed to stay a wake to find out what happened to Cody, and to be honest as terrible as it sounds I just didn't care.
Throughout the course of the film there are some scenes of violence and bad language used, hence the 15 rating. To be honest the riot scenes are rushed so not much violence is scene, but the bad language in my mind was a little over used. While the stress of such a case would I'm sure provoke even the most saintly of people to swear, if I heard the phrase 'mother f ****r' once I heard it a million times and it was uncalled for.
Apart from that one scene that I enjoyed the rest of the film was a complete mess, and how it got released on the big screen is beyond me. I really wouldn't recommend purchasing this film on DVD, but if you're still intrigued I'd wait until it comes on the television.
Freedomland is available used/new at amazon from £1.50.
The film opens with 2 cops on a callout to a house where screams have been heard coming from inside. Upon entering they soon discover who is making the noise as a woman is huddled on the floor, and as she looks up they see her eyes have been gauged out. In the next room a very tall and well built man appears and quickly dispenses of the one of the cops. The other one shoots the killer in the head, and while losing his arm in the process manages to escape with the woman to fight another day.
Fast forward seven years and the cop is now in charge of a group of young criminals. The group is the first to selected for a new rehabilitation project.
Their job is to clean up a run down hotel that years ago was ravaged by fire upstairs and with their help will be used to house the homeless. Its not long however before the group realizes that theyre not alone, and theyll soon wish that they'd stayed on the right side of the law.
So what do you get when you cross a WWE wrestling star who cant act to save his life, unrealistic gore, and an unbelievable story that makes Goldilocks and the Three Bears believable? Well I tell you what you get, a film that is so painful to watch that Id rather eat a raw egg than ever see this again! Its only slightly appealing factor is that one of the actors was easy on the eye, but sadly even his good looks werent enough to make me want to keep this film in my collection.
The film falls down at the first hurdle as the viewer is introduced to the run down hotel that as I mentioned was partly burnt down years ago, and has up until recently just been inhabited by the local homeless people, so as you can imagine its in a pretty bad state.
Now correct me if Im wrong but you would expect such a derelict building to have an air of creepiness about it to set the tone of the film. This unfortunatly is not the case as while it does look as if Changing Rooms needs to pay a visit , it didnt unsettle me in the slightest.
Being a fan of horror films I wasnt expecting an intricate storyline or Oscar winning acting, but this film really takes the biscuit and should never have seen the light of the day. See No Evil is basically every teen horror film you may have seen rolled into one, from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Friday the 13th and if you like your horror then Id recommend you see this rather than this drivel.
Like so many other films in this genre none of the characters are built upon much, so when its their turn to die in an over the top fashion I found that I didnt care in the slightest.
That leads me on very nicely to the gore, and in typical American horror movie fashion theres gore by the bucket loads. Rated 18 for strong gruesome violence, gore, plus sexual content and some drug use. Expect to see eyes being plucked out as well as a meat clever being put to use and such like.
None of these scenes however are even remotely believable, so that as well as the thinly sketched characters didnt make me bothered in the slightest as to their fates.
Our bunch of misfits looked as if theyd just stepped of a catwalk, and rapidly become the stereotypical annoying teenagers that seem to be used in a lot of horror films these days. You have the blonde mouthy one who the boys like, the tomboy one who soon comes out of her shell and wants to strip off, then theres the hard nut of the group oh and theres a few others but heah I cant remember them all a I was close to nodding off.
None of the cast gave a noteworthy performance; except the stray dog who finds his way into the building, now he/she was good!
With a running time of 84 minutes it was of sheer relief that director Gregory Dark kept the proceedings moving at a rapid pace. Had it not finished so quickly then I might very well have nodded of in the first 5 minutes.
The final problem with the film is that Dark seemed in two minds about what he wanted to deliver to the audience. On the one hand you get the characters being picked off very quickly and in a very over the top way, and in the other you get very religious undertones dotted throughout supposedly to add some depth to the film. I got the impression that the director suddenly realized that at the rate he was having his characters disposed of, the film would have been over a little bit smart. In reality the film is no more than a teenage slasher film that once viewed will quickly be forgotten like so many others are.
To sum up, I think Ive made it pretty clear that I hated this film with a passion although it did make me chuckle on a few occasions as it was so bad. If youre already a fan of this type of film then expect nothing new here, for the rest of you then try and avoid this like the plague.
Available used and new from £3.70 at Amazon.
The film centers around a young mother called Yoshimi who moves into a run down and dingy apartment block along with her daughter Ikuko. Yoshimi is in the middle of divorcing her husband which could result in him gaining custody of their child. Yoshimi has received some psychiatric treatment in the past, and so she is trying desperately hard to provide them both with some stability so that shell stand a very good chance of winning the custody battle.
Not long after they have moved in they notice that the ceiling is leaking, then a ghostly image of a young child is seen by both of them, and a childs handbag keeps turning up after its been got rid of. Fearing she maybe going crazy, Yoshimi struggles to look after her daughter but at the same time is desperate to find out what exactly is going on in that place.
Dark Water has been billed by some as one of the creepiest Japanese horror films of all time. For those not familiar with Japanese horror they tend to be more tension building then full on blood and gore. While there is nothing wrong with leaving out the gore as often it is unnecessary and over the top when used, in this case it could have done with some to liven up the proceedings.
Directed by Hideo Nakata (1998s Ringu) the film is very much like one of the paint by numbers kits I used to do as a child. For those who of you who have seen the ring films then watching this is like a very bad case of Déjà vu. For those who have yet to see those films then believe me when I say that youll work out whats going on very quickly indeed.
The film starts off promisingly enough as theses types of films often do, you have the grim setting of the crumbling apartment block and the constant dripping of the water which is enough to drive any sane person crazy. You have a mother who is desperate to keep her daughter, but is concerned that she might once again be losing the plot. I really felt her fears and sadness as they moved into yet another place, and her daughter had to start a new school and make friends all over again. The apartment block is eerily quiet, and the manager there clearly knows whats going on but stays quiet.
While the storyline is built up in the early stages giving the impression that something unsuspecting and chilling is waiting around the next corner, it very quickly simmers down and becomes another watchable but easily forgettable film.
Where Ringu kept up a fast pace of thrills and spine tingling moments, this film simply pales in comparison. With the average running time of 100 mins, even that felt like it was 99 minutes too long as it chugged along to its inevitable conclusion
The cast is what ultimately stops the film being a total washout as every one of the actors put in very believable performances. Hitomi Kuroki as Yoshimi was very convincing as a loving single mother struggling to look after her daughter on her own, while at the same time worrying about her sanity. There were occasions where I did feel that she was over doing it in the hysterics department, but these outbursts were few and far between and I couldnt help but sympathize with her bleak situation.
The stand out performance for me was that by Rio Kanno as 5 year old Ikuko, was more than competent at playing a child who while obviously loving her mum clearly wanted a stable environment. I couldnt help but feel moved at seeing her all alone at the school gates waiting for her mum who was late again, but at the same time she had this great strength in her that allowed her on the whole to cope with all that was going on.
The rest of cast while believable in their performances didnt really play much of a part in the proceedings. This was a shame as I felt that boiling underneath the surface of the other characters a greater more gripping story lurked.
Rated 15 for terror and disturbing situations, this is laughable to say the least and would imply that there are some jump out of your seat moments. Believe me when I say there is none, and those of you of a nervous disposition should be able to watch this film quite happily with out gripping hold of a cushion or hiding behind a sofa.
So while this film is as predictable as the next England match and lacking in anything that can be classed as horror, it manages to be just about watch able due to the very believable acting of the lead characters facing an all too real bleak situation.
Available used and new from amazon from £4.
Inland Empire is the first feature-length film from Lynch since Mulholland Drive back in 2001. For those of you who havent seen his previous films, Lynch takes the viewer into Alice in Wonderland (dreamlike) worlds mixed with disturbing nightmares and scenes which struggle to make sense. This film is in my mind his most out there one of all and while its very confusing and more than one viewing is needed to fully appreciate the film, on the whole I found I enjoyed the experience even though my backside didnt.
Plot wise or what there is of one follows actress Nikki (Laura Dern) who lands the part of Susan Blue in a film entitled High in Blue Tomorrows. The film within a film is directed by Jeremy Irons and we soon learn that the film isnt the original that Nikki and her co-star Devon (Justin Theroux) thought it was. We learn that in the original the lead actors died due to something that happened inside the story. From then on the line between what real and whats not becomes blurred as identities are lost, and random seemingly unconnected scenes merge together.
Every once in a blue moon a film comes along and while watching it, it feels like a breath of fresh of air. While Ill admit I enjoy those no brainer types of films where you know whats going to happen around every corner, sometimes its nice to watch in a film that allows you to interpret it in your own way. For those who have seen 2005s The Jacket youll know exactly what Im talking about when I say that the film isnt tied up in a neat little bow.
Visually this film for me features some of the most striking, unusual and at times disturbing scenes I have seen in along time. Its worth mentioning that the film was shot with a Sony DSR- PD150 which for those who dont know is a semi-professional digital video camera. Using this type of camera without a doubt works in Lynchs favour as it just makes each scene reach out a grab you, and the close up shots of the characters at times makes for some pretty claustrophobic viewing.
The film feels very much like a very darkened and adult version of the classics Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, as Nikki/Sue falls deeper into a world full of anthropomorphic rabbits and prostitutes dancing to the locomotion song to name but a couple of many strange events that take place throughout this unique film.
All of the actors in the film put in very solid performances and were very believable in their varying roles. What made their performances stand out for me was the fact that the actors have never hided the fact that they didnt have a clue what the film was about.
Laura Dern was perfect as the much tormented actress that through it all remained a strong and inspiring character for any woman watching.
Justin Theroux as Devon/Billy smoldered onscreen and put in an equally exceptional performance as Derns love interest.
Even the stars who had blink and you missed them cameos and the extras blow me away with their acting, and while in some films I find these characters instantly forgettable these ones stayed with me long after I finished watching the film.
The soundtrack of a film is something else that I often find instantly forgettable, but in this case everything song has its own story to tell and fits the scenes perfectly. Featuring the likes of Nina Simone, Etta James, the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra and works by Lynch himself, this is one of a limited number of soundtracks that I own.
Running at an almost bum numbing 3 hours in length in my mind it is far too long.
Dont get me wrong as Ive said theres a lot to gain form watching this, but some of the scenes were necessarily over run and seeing as theres so much to take it an hour could have easily been taken off of this. If you have got 3 hours to spare and are able to get comfortable, then I strongly advise that you watch this in one viewing.
As the film flits from one obscure scene to the next you could easily find yourself even more confused if you decide to watch it in two parts.
I made the mistake of doing this the fist time around and have since watched it again right through. Even now I still cant make up my mind what it was all about, but watching it through a second time in its entirety is strongly recommended.
The main confusion stems from the fact that on the whole you have know idea whether you watching the characters in the past, present or future. Fans of Lynchs other films will of course already be used to this, but for others youll find it a pretty hard struggle to keep with it all.
The film is rated 15 for language, some violence and sexuality/nudity, however I felt that none of this it was over the top or just added for the sake of but people of a squeamish nature might want to stay clear of this film.
If youre already a lynch fan than Id definitely recommend you give this a go, for the rest of you Id still advise you give it ago if you want to watch something thats way different than anything youve probably ever seen before, but in a good way.
Inland Empire is widely available and is available used/new from £9.14 at amazon.
Dodie Smith is probably most well known for writing 101 Dalmatians, however she infact wrote many plays as well as this novel which was first published in 1949.
I Capture the Castle draws in many aspects of classics English novels including Jane Eyre, and while the diary form its written in certainly isnt original it still remains a firm favourite of many including myself.
Normally I wouldn't have even considered picking up a copy of this book, as on the whole I mainly stick to the crime/thriller genre for reading matter. However I vaguely recalled watching the film a few years ago and loved it, so I was pretty certain that I'd equally enjoy the book.
I Capture the Castle follows the highs and lows of the Mortmain family living in a run down castle in the 1930s. Seventeen year old Cassandra is the narrator of the novel who wanting to write herself, decides to keep a diary so she can practice her writing skills as well as trying to capture her thoughts and feelings about her life.
Cassandra certainly isnt stuck for things to write about as her family is anything but normal. Mr Mortmain is on the whole estranged from his family and suffers with writers block. Topaz is his second wife and was once a model, now she spends her days looking after the place and stripping off to be at one with nature.
Rose is Cassandras older sister and all she wants is a rich man to marry. Thomas is the youngest but is on the whole mature for his age, and Stephen is a live- in friend of the family and has a huge crush on Cassandra.
Having sold off most of their furniture to pay for food, the future prospects of the family look very bleak.
Hope however is risen upon the arrival of the Cottons who have inherited Scoatney Hall, and are now their new landlords. Brothers Neil and Simon along with their mother are a very wealthy family, and money is exactly want the Mortmains could do with.
What struck me first about the novel was the way in which Smith is able in a sense to capture England in all its glory, but without brushing over the equally less appealing aspects of the country. This is down to the fact that back in the 40s she was forced to move to America along with her husband. Clearly homesick for her homeland, Smith penned this novel which even to this day is still popular due to fact that its so blatantly honest and real.
While the book is narrated by a seventeen year old teenager, you would be wrong in thinking that this book would only appeal to that group. I myself am in my mid twenties and I got so much out of the book, that I shall definitely be reading again which not something I often find myself doing.
On the offset its about a teenage girl maturing into a woman, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. The book raises many questions about social class and peoples pre conceptions of foreigners. As well as that it covers how women were perceived back then, and how more were breaking out of their stereotypical mould. If I have made this novel sound a heavy read then for give me as I can assure you its not, but its just one of those novels that will keep you thinking and questioning things long after youve finished it.
The diary format of the book appealed to me when I was about the same age as Cassandra, I too used to keep diaries and would struggle to capture my feelings about certain events and would end up writing as much as I could just like she did in order to try and make sense of things.
While the book is barely over the 400 page mark, by the end of reading it I felt as if Id been on a rollercoaster of a journey as it manages to invoke so many emotions. On the one hand I found myself sympathizing with the familys bleak situation, but then quickly turned into admiration due to the fact that they pulled together to make the most of what they did have. So vivid is the castle, its surroundings and the characters themselves, I felt as if I was a fly on the wall looking in on the Mortmains.
While all of the characters were fully developed and well rounded, there were a couple of occasions when I felt that some of them did things that I felt were out of character. For example the fur coat instance springs to mine where Cassandra has already said that they repulse her, but then goes into a shop with her sister and talks about enjoying it. Luckily this only happened every once in a while, so Im pleased to say it didnt spoil my overall enjoyment of the book.
Its fair to say that all of the characters had their annoying habits and peculiar ways, but I never stopped caring about any of them and was eager to find out their fates. I cannot rate this book any more highly and would recommend you at least give this captivating book a try.
My paperback copy was released in 2003 and is available at amazon used and new from 1p.
Loved by millions and probably equally detested by millions theres no getting away from it, shopping is an essential part of our everyday lives. Today more than ever, when it comes to doing that monthly food shop, or to get that pair of shoes to match an outfit, there is more choice than theres ever been. Take shampoo for example, back in the 60s and 70s you could count on one hand the choice that was available, now you could probably spend a whole afternoon looking dazed and confused at that isle if your that way inclined. So the question is do you spend your spare time in and out of shops being trampled on, or do you do it online where its all to easy to get carried away?
For me the answer to that question as Im sure it is too many is, I like to do both. Of course there are arguments for and against both, but at the end of the day I like to have the choice.
While the word shopping to some means a fate worse than death, on the whole I find it enjoyable, and lets face it theres just some things you have to buy on your own.
Lets start with offline shopping since that came first, and look into the world of mesmerizing isles, dreary shop assistants, and queues that always seem to move but not the one your in.
When your walking down your local high street your instantly hit with the latest fashions displayed on half naked dummies, posters plastered over windows advertising yet another sale, and music beating out of them giving a club a run for its money, so why do we and for the basis of this review I enter these unforgiving to your pocket places?
There are many items including food and clothing, that I find need to been seen in the flesh if want for a better word. While I know that if that top you bought online doesnt fit, or is off poor quality you can send it back, at least in a shop you can just put it back on the rack and move on.
Time is a very precious thing and I dont want to spare a large quantity of my free time, packaging up items to go back to the online store I got them from.
Take online grocery shopping for instance, Ive found that fruit and veg has arrived here looking a little worse for wear. Items such as that are much better seen in person, so you check for yourself the colour and ripeness of the produce.
Another plus for offline shopping I think is the social aspects of it, as it could be so easy to become withdrawn if you did everything in the comfort of your own home. Complaints can also be dealt with face to face, and while Im not saying youll necessarily get somewhere at least you wont run the risk of getting cut off on the telephone, or sending endless emails without a response.
The same could be said for any questions about an item you may have, or it may be that youd like a demonstration of that computer youve been drooling over. I remember I had an online query the other day regarding an ipod accessory, surprised at getting a response I was frustrated to read that they couldnt help as the only information they had was what they received by there suppliers.
Bargains are what most of us want and luckily shops these days seem to have sales on all of the time. We all know you could probably still get it cheaper online although not all of the time, but theres nothing more satisfying than walking down the street with over flowing carrier bags of shear bargains that you can wait to stuff into your overflowing wardrobe.
Queues however arent an enjoyable experience, and while unlike some who get annoyed at just two people in front of them I am more than capable of waiting. Having said that when Ive been in a queue for more than 10 minutes and its still not moving, then I do start to wonder if Ill ever see home again. Of course some of that is down to the customers who are complaining that the lettuce they bought was too green, the clotted cream they bought is runny failing to admit Its been sat in the car since Noah built the Ark, or the fact that the top they bought has shrunk when in reality theyve got bigger.
The majority of the queue waiting time however is down to the assistant who, one has more than likely got a hangover, two cant operate the till to save her life, and three refuses point black to help you pack even though they can see you struggling and wanting the ground to swallow you up.
This brings me on nicely to the world of online shopping where, queues are a thing of the past, items tend to be cheaper, but youre dealing with faceless people and security issues when it comes to payment online which can be a worry for some.
There is some times when you need to go shopping, but the weather and hours in the day isnt on your side. Rather than racing out the door, getting soaking wet and getting into a queue of traffic, the internet is an ideal place to sit back and relax and spend your money as if its going out of fashion.
The worry for a lot of people considering this method of shopping is the security of their transactions. If you glance down at the bottom of the retailers webpage during a transaction youll find a padlock symbol, this means that the payment information youre giving is encrypted and only the site has the key to decipher it. I have been ordering items over the internet for a few years now, and touch wood havent had any problems with security breaches.
With that worry hopefully pushed to the back of your mind, you can get on with browsing the internet and picking up plenty of bargains which in some cases is only available on a retailers web store.
No more queuing, no more rude assistants, and no more jumping out of the way of buggies.
Some would say that shopping online can become addictive, as your paying with a card and so it doesnt sink in the amount youre spending. Seeing though as more and more people have a credit card these days, I cant really see how thats any different than handing it over in a shop.
Out of the many items Ive purchased ranging from smaller items such as make up and DVDs to Microwaves and printers, on the whole from the initial purchasing the item to receiving it has gone without a hitch.
I can recall two recent occasions with the same online retailer where in one instance the gift wrapping was ripped, and a DVD case arrived but without the DVD itself.
Both times I emailed the company to air my grievances, and Im pleased to say that the response was quick and the problem dealt with a full apology. Im sure such problems concern people as they do me as like I mentioned earlier on youre dealing with faceless people. If its a big concern of yours than ask friends and family who they shop with, google the company to see if you can dig up major problems with the retailer, or perhaps do as I did and start of with small purchases with a company. Once I felt happy with the service I was receiving, I was more inclined to stick with them and spend more money.
So when it comes down to it which do I prefer, online or offline? Like I said I enjoy having the option and there are certainly pros and cons for both. In fact I really find it hard to choose betwee.
I like the social aspect and scrutinizing items more closely in the shops, but I like the fact that online I can pick up so many bargains that I wouldnt be able to get in the shops. So if I was pressed to pick an option it would be to shop online, due to the fact I don't have money coming out of my ears.
The question is, where do you do it?
David Hunter is the 'hero' of the book who since the tragic deaths of his wife and daughter, has retreated to a remote village in Norfolk where he is now a Doctor.
When a local woman is found brutally murdered in the woods, Hunters previous expertise as a forensic expert is called upon.
While he's reluctant at first he knows that his knowledge will be of great help, and as the body count increases he needs to work fast.
So compelling is the debut by Simon Beckett, that I without a doubt will be keeping an eye out for more of his thrillers.
As the title suggests the author goes into some detail about the bodies decay and how one can tell the time of death, those of you with a weak stomach would do well to avoid this book because of this detail.
For me I found the information fascinating although I did avoid eating while reading the book. It was interesting to find out how the presence of bugs for example can help determine a time of death, albeit roughly.
Without wanting to give too much away, there are some scenes of animal cruelty that were distressing to read. Luckily these parts of the story aren't drawn out too much, but they are upsetting none the less to read.
Simon Beckett can be very much compared to Patricia Cornwell and kathy Reichs who also write forensic thrillers. I would say though that this book by Beckett is one step up from those authors as he just manages to add a little more depth, mystery and realism to his debut.
For a while I was concerned about the number of characters being drawn into the story. Comparing it though to any Agatha Christie book where I've found myself forgetting who was who, Simon Beckett manages to give you another detail about each character, that I didn't have to flick back through to reacquaint myself with any of them.
At 419 pages long (paperback) I enjoyed the steady pace at which the story flowed, and I was pleased that the story wasn't unnecessarily padded out like I've found in the past with some books.
So well were the characters and settings described that I almost felt as if I was there, looking down upon the proceedings. Due to me finding myself so engaged in the story, I found that once I'd read the first page I just had to keep going until the very end. As I had become quite attached to the lead character I was desperate to find out whether he'd be able to over come his past demons and assist in stopping the murders.
The best bit for me about this story was the fact that the perpetrator/s of this crimes wasn't obvious. Many times during the story I thought I'd worked out who was responsible, only to proved wrong time and time again.
So to conclude if your a fan of thrillers where you'll be kept guessing until the very end who the bad guys are, then this is the book for you. If however you have a weak stomach, then this one should be avoided.
This edition was released in 2007
ISBN - 0553817493
Paperback 448 pages
Available used and new at amazon from 25 pence.
Littlewoods believe it or not has been around since the 1930s, allowing people to shop in the privacy of their own homes. What is appealing about this way of shopping is your can have the goods without paying a penny upfront, as you then agree to pay X amount each month according to each products terms.
We have been with them for at least 15 years now, ordering mainly from their catalogue but then moved onto shopping with them online when that became available.
Through Littlewoods you can purchase a whole range of items from clothes to washing machines to food. We were of course aware that buying goods from them in some cases would be far dearer, than if wed purchased it from a high street chain. For us though over the years Littlewoods has been a life safer for us when a cooker for example has died on us, and we couldnt afford to replace it immediately.
The Littlewoods site loads very quickly on a broadband connection, and on the whole is very plain on appearance. While there is a little colour splashed about the homepage, the majority of it is in black, grey and white. While I do like colorful pages I usually find they are rather heavy on the eyes, where as this has been designed simply but effectively in drawing you in.
To be able to purchase products you will of course need to register with the site. If youre an existing customer but have yet to sign up, you just simply fill out the form giving your personal details and pick a username and password. While if youre a new customer altogether you will need to apply for an account in much the same way, by filling out your details and obtaining an account number from them.
As we are already signed up online all we have to do is give the account no/username, password and date of birth. This site as with a lot of others where personal details is being given out over the net, has the padlock symbol at the bottom of the page which means that your details are encrypted and should be safe from hackers.
Once youre registered and logged into the site, you can then start purchasing items. As with any catalogue company you will have a credit limit which you are given when you sign up, ours is £2000 which is more than enough for our needs.
From the homepage you can easily navigate around the sections, those being women, men, kids, sports & leisure, home & garden, electrical, appliances, toys & games and jewelery & gifts. Here you can also view the latest offers on the site and web exclusive prices. The search/keyword box is handy if you know exactly what youre after, and unlike some search tools Ive found its pretty good at turning up with the right results.
For an even speedier way of ordering there is the quick order form if you know the product reference number. We have used this many times, as its just so quick and easy to do. Another useful option is to track your order by clicking on the tab, this takes you to a page informing you of when your order has been shipped and where its currently to.
The help tab is there should you need to know how to use the site, info on delivery and returns and so on, but we find the site so clearly laid out that weve never need to use this option.
When we first started using Littlewoods we always felt that the clothes side left a lot to be desired. Not that I feel compelled to keep with the latest fashion, but if anyone did they would have struggled to find something desirable. However the company has now caught up with fashion, and online youll find names such as French Connection, Morgan, Oasis and Miss Selfridges to name but a few. There are of course lesser known names available, and while most of the items can be found cheaper on the highstreet at least the fashion conscious can keep up to date if their bank balance isnt so healthy.
Fans of Trinny and Susannah (fashion stylists) will be pleased to hear that they have joined the company to offer their advice. What ever your shape or height, they will recommend some clothes from Littlewoods that will flatter you. The size range is also pretty good ranging from 10 right up to 26 in some cases, plus theres also a section for mums to be and a petite range. My gripe though is with the underwear sizes where on the whole youre singled out unless youre a size C to F. I find it disgusting that the only option to the smaller busted women is to purchase their bras from the childrens section.
Larger items are what we mainly signed up with them for, and online youll find the latest models of cookers, televisions, hoovers and so on available. Like the clothes these items can be found a lot cheaper else where, take for example our washing machine where Currys have it in stock for nearly £90 less then we are paying. There are sales online going on a lot of the time, so if you can find something in them then the price difference wouldnt be too great.
The quality of the goods on the whole is very good, although I tend to stay clear of purchasing the very cheap clothes as they don't tend to last very long.
Ordering goods is simple enough, once youve found a product you wish to buy, simply add it to your basket and when youve finished head to the checkout like you would in a shop. Once there you can check over your order making changes if necessary, choose how you wish to pay and over what term, and when/where you want it delivered.
Weve mainly used Littlewoods to purchase larger items such as cookers, although I have bought clothes from them in the past. Items are well packaged and have on the whole arrived by the specified date. First time customers may wish to note that youll get £15 off your first order, and if you keep you eye out for frequent buy now, pay later codes then youll have over 6mths before you have to start your payments.
There are some very competitive delivery options available, and we tend to mainly use standard delivery where youll get your goods within 48 hours for free. A washing machine however was needed quick, so we picked next day delivery and this was only £2.95 if we ordered before 3pm.
Youll receive an online statement once a month although your current account status can be checked by logging into your account, and here you can either pay the minimum amount they require of you or more if you have it. Please note there is a late payment fee of £12, so you may want to set up a direct debt so you dont miss a payment.
As I mentioned earlier on, we have been with the company for a number of years now and have very rarely had problems with orders. I do remember on one occasion I believe I ordered a top, and a pair of roller skates arrived for some strange reason. Its easy to return things though and free, and the correct order was sent out promptly.
Our last purchase however may just be that, which is a shame as theyve always been a company we can rely on. You see last week I ordered a washing machine from them online, but the process wasnt as smooth as it should have been. I placed the item in my basket and choose the option to have it installed, and the old one taken away. This has never been a problem before, but boy was it this time. When I went through to check over the order and submit it, I noticed that the £20 charge for that option had been added, but it said the order didnt include installation and removal of the old one. I then went back through the steps to try again thinking perhaps I had made some error, but after selecting the £20 additional charge option it again charged it but said it was without installation.
Having very rarely got a satisfactory response from them online I called them, only to be told that the option I wanted wasnt available on that make of machine (Zanussi).
I asked why this so was so and why it wasnt mentioned on the site, and was told that it was just how they worked. If I wanted installation of a new one and removal of the other, I could only choose between 3 makes of machine. So anyway I choose another one and all went smoothly a couple of days ago. It was only when I inspected the machine more closely that I noticed it had a different model number to the one I had ordered. After all the trouble of getting one the cheeky monkeys had only sent the next model up from the one I had asked for, and it was £40 more expensive! After speaking with mum she was happy to keep it as we couldnt be without one, but did ring them and complain. Of course her complaint fell on deaf ears, so we are considering leaving them once our debt with them is cleared.
Its just such a shame as weve been with them for a good numbers of years, but this really did make us see them in a different light.
To find out more about them and to see the items they sale, check out http://www.littlewoods.com/rf/navigation/entersite.do?redirectTo=home.
When it comes to recommending them Id say give them a go, as up until this last order we have been happy with them. The site is easy to navigate, the ordering process is easy, and they have a good range of stock. That said we were very disappointed how they handled the last order, especially as nothing is mentioned on the site detailing which items you cant have installed and the old one removed. When it comes to contacting them we use the phone, as when we did get a reply online the query was never answered properly.
Helen Lyle and her best friend Bernadette are mature university students, who are studying Urban legends for their thesis. The Candyman legend in particular has caught their attention, as so many people in the area have a tale to tell and are afraid of him.
Since the legend is situated around a deprived area of Chicago, the two friends believe that the people use the legend as a reason for their situation.
Curiosity gets the bet of the friends especially Helen, and they visit Cabrini Green where a series of unsolved murders has taken place. The locals believe the deaths are the result of the Candyman, who was murdered on the estate many years ago.
Helen is told that he can be summoned by saying Candyman in a mirror 5 times, and that hell kill the caller with his hook for a hand.
As the friends still believe the legend to be untrue they look in a mirror and call out his name, although Bernadette chickens out on saying his name one last time.
Theyll soon wish theyd stay clear of this legend as more murders take place, and the Candyman takes a shine to Helen. What started off as just a study soon turns into a game of cat and mouse, and in any game there can only be one winner.
I remember watching this film back in my early teens, and while it didnt scare me, it certainly had an unnerving effect on me. Almost 10 years later and the film still managed to invoke similar feelings upon viewing.
I as Im sure others can remember playing Chinese whispers at school, where one person would whisper something in someones ear and then it would be repeated down through a chain of people altering slightly each time. More often than not when the last person would repeat what they thought they heard it would be very different from what was originally whispered. In this film an Urban legend is the centre of the plot, and while theyre not always untrue they have usually been twisted in some way or another by the various people who tell them.
This already made the film something I could very much relate to, and thats what made it so compelling to watch from start to finish.
Based on the short story The forbidden by Clive Barker, I found I was hooked on the film in the opening credits alone which is somewhat of a rarity these days in other films of the same genre. The haunting sound of the piano in the background and the aerial view of Chicago managed to be unsettling, as you realize that the Candyman could be anywhere and impending doom is imminent. As a swarm of bees surrounds the place, you hear a woman scream and the words I came for you and you realize in that short opening sequence that this film will not be for the faint hearted.
Horror fans like myself who expect plenty of blood and gore, may be somewhat disappointed to know that there isnt a great deal of it and the film airs more to the supernatural side than of horror. Most of the murders take place off the screen with clever editing used to show you just enough, so that youll know that the murder certainly wasnt pretty. Animal lovers beware as a dog meets a very grisly end, and if you hate bees then stay well clear as the candyman is covered in them under his coat. That doesnt mean to say there isnt any gore at all to please horror fans, as what was revealed was very realistic and very well shot indeed.
Tony Todd in his breakthrough role plays the man himself, and full credit to the man as his silky seductive voice made his character so believable. It was easy to see how people fell victim to him, as he had this hypnotizing effect on them. While CGI is used to make bees appear all over him including coming out of his mouth, you almost believe that this is happening as he really becomes the Candyman.
The heroine of the film is played by well known actress Virginia Madsen, and she certainly put in a fine performance as a woman seeking the truth but gets in way deep over her head. So much anguish is experienced by her character but she remains strong throughout, and Im sure this must have been physically as well as emotional draining for the actress but she pulls it off with ease.
I find so many films of this genre are too cut and dry in terms of a viewers feeling towards the characters. When a film such as this done right you would without a doubt be cheering for the victims, while routing for the demise of the bad guy. This film is a little different as while I feared for the victims and especially the child ones, I still couldnt help but feel a little sad for the Candyman. While I wont go into detail why I felt this sympathy towards this brutal killer as Id reveal too much, I will say that as the film unfolded I couldnt help but feel a little compassion towards him, and that is something I don't normally feel towards such a character.
With a running time of 135minutes, Director Bernard Rose did an outstanding job of keeping the uneasy atmosphere and smooth running of the film going at a steady pace. He certainly new how to get the best out of his performers, and managed to create a film that has certainly stood the test of time in my eyes and will remain a firm favourite of mine is this genre for a long time to come. CGI and especially the over use of it tends to date many films as technology advances so quickly, but as this film relies more on the lead performers than computer wizardry 15 years on the film still looks just as good as the day it was released.
I highly recommend this film to all of you horror fans out there, and if your feeling brave then go on and look in a mirror and say his name 5 times.
Released in 1992
Candyman is widely available on DVD and can be purchased at Amazon from £5.30.
Rated 18 for gore so stay clear if you have a weak stomach.
Psycho killer Charles "Chucky" lee Ray (Brad Dourif) was gunned down ten years ago by the police. As he was dying he used voodoo magic to transfer his soul into a doll, so he can carrying on with his killing spree. Of course Chuckys only hope of escaping his new body is to find another human to exchange souls with.
One stormy night Chucky's estranged ex-girlfriend Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) rescues his remains from a bin and uses a voodoo spell to bring him back to life so to speak.
Things dont however go to plan for poor Tiffany who has marriage on her mind, as Chucky electrocutes her and she too ends up with her soul trapped inside a doll.
Now they the two of them must work together if they're ever to become human again. They need to find Chucky's body as well as a suitable on for Tiffany.
Enter 'Jade' (Katherine Heigl) and 'Jesse' (Nick Stabile) a couple of newly weds on the run who the 2 dolls meet on the way of their quest.
Billed as a comedy/horror I found it edged more towards being a comedy simply because Im not one of those people who find dolls creepy.
This is my first encounter with the Chucky franchise, having stumbled upon it by chance one day online. I have to say that although this film at first glance seems just ridiculous beyond belief, I found it so entertaining that Ill definitely be seeking out the previous installments.
I found myself laughing before the film even started as the very thought of these murderous doll running around, and somehow overpowering the humans is so ludicrous its hilarious. Now these dolls are no ken and Barbie by any means with their hair and makeup just so, infact theyre the complete opposite with Chuckys stitched up face and Tiffany looking like a right tart wanting to be Martha Stewart (American Chef). Also you wouldnt find ken and Barbie bumping off people with knives and various over utensils, or not that Im aware of anyway.
While the plot is thinner than a pair of thongs as unbelievable as that sounds, it is the script that impressed me the most as the entertainment never lets up.
Most people Im sure including myself would pick out the sex scene between Chucky and Tiffany and the discussion they have about whether he should be using a rubber, as one of the best scenes from the film.
Of course Chucky doesnt need to use one as hes quick to point out look at me, Im all rubber! There are many other equally hilarious scenes between the two dolls as they bicker away at each other over their predicament.
As I mentioned earlier on both the dolls werent your average looking ones, but I did feel that the creators could have at least made them a little more menacing in appearance. Also as they were puppets it meant that some scenes didnt work quite so well as others. While you couldnt see the cables being used to control them, in a scene where Chucky is crawling in front of a car you could clearly see space between him and the road. You have of course got to leave your brain well and truly at the door, as throughout your supposed to believe that they can actually kill people.
This is however apart from the script, what makes the film as enjoyable as you know full well that this sort of thing just wouldnt happen.
For those of you with a delicate stomach I should inform you that scattered throughout the film youll bare witness to some very inventive murders with very realistic gore. Lets just say that its not a very good idea to have a mirror placed above your bed as it may bring you more than 7 years bad luck!
The acting on the whole wasnt bad; Jennifer Tilly was perfect as the whining hyena pitched Tiffany who you could help but feel sorry for. Brad Douriff did a splendid job as the voice of Chucky, and his wicked laugh never failed to get me started.
Nick Stabile and Katherine Heigl on the other hand were believable at times as the young lovers, but on the whole I almost forgot they were there at all.
Director Ronny Yu did an excellent job of getting the balance of horror and comedy just right, and with a running time of just under an hour and a half managed to keep the film moving at a fast pace, and knew when to draw things to a close.
Of course the film is unbelievable and over the top especially towards the end, but due to the witty script and lead performances, it stops the film from being just average.
This film can certainly be watched independently from the previous 3 titles, as I hadnt seen them first and never felt as if I was missing out on any background information. If you have yet to see any of the films in the series including Seed of Chucky which follows this one, then it might be worth your while seeing them first to see how Chucky develops throughout the series.
The film has been given an 18 certificate for strong horror violence and gore, language, some sexual content and brief drug use. I would agree with this rating although I thought it wavered between a 15 and 18, some people may find the swearing and especially the gore too much.
If you like your dark comedies and the thought of dolls being powerful enough to kill intrigues you, then you cant go far wrong by giving this ago as it certainly made me laugh.
This copy of Bride Of Chucky was released in 2003 (film release was 1998), and is available from amazon priced at £3.47 new and from £1.70 in the used and new section.
One booze filled evening Kate leaves her party in the hope of getting a date with George Clooney who is apparently in the area. Unable to hail a taxi in a dress that barely covers certain assets, Kate rushes underground to catch the last train of the day. With less than 10 minutes to wait she consumes yet more alcohol and drifts off to sleep. When she wakes she has of course missed the last train and finds herself trapped underground.
Her panic is short-lived as another train comes along and Kate hops aboard and begins to settle down for the ride. This is one ride however that Kate will soon regret taking as it appears that she is not alone on the train, and is unaware of the horrors that await her.
I remember seeing the trailer for this film, and reading some promising reviews about Creep around the time of its release. I remember thinking that this film had the potential to be chilling, as many people including myself have a fear of being stuck all alone in the dark and being freaked out by sounds around you.
At the beginning of this film I could sympathize with Kate and feel her fear of being all alone, and the emotions she must have felt when another train pulled into the station.
So then how come a film that starts off so promisingly ended up being no more than an average low budget horror, that for the most part makes absolutely no sense whatsoever?
Its basically a film where you have to remove your brain, otherwise youll spend the whole time questioning everything thats going on rather than sitting back and enjoying it.
Right from the start where our heroine finds herself stuck underground sounds implausible as I doubt there would be no way of you getting out in such a situation.
That is the first of many questionable moments during the film, which really shouldnt have arisen if more thought had gone into the proceedings.
My other problem with the film and one that is certainly not unique to Creep, is the fact that apart from the odd moment I never felt concerned enough about Kate to care whether she made it out alive. You see we never get to find out much about Kate, only the fact that she likes a drink or six and has a hideous taste in clothes.
Its important, for me at least when watching a horror film to be able to form some sort of attachment to the character/s. Having one dimensional characters meant that I couldnt have cared less what happened to them including the heroine.
There was even a hint halfway though that there was more to the killer than meets the eye, but for some reason this was thread was just left hanging. If these characters had only been developed more, then the film would have been all the better for it.
The acting was again on the whole a disappointment, although Franka Potente (The Bourne Identity/Supremacy) did the best she could with a limited script. For the most of the film she basically just had to run around screaming and shouting f**k, so nothing too taxing, and one that wont win her any best actress awards.
The best performance actually was given by the dog that belonged to a homeless couple down below, and he was the only one who I cared about the fate of.
The other characters featuring the rather I fancy myself Jeremy Sheffield (Holby City)
were instantly forgettable also, and their only real purpose was to hang around to add to the body count tally.
Sean Harris (who?) was just irritating as the bad guy, and every time he screeched I just wished I had ear plugs.
Where the film did score some points was for the very realistic gore that takes places on many occasions throughout the film. Ive lost count when watching these sort of films how many times Ive been less than impressed with the make up used, but in this film the blood looked very realistic indeed.
For those of you who cant stand rats then I advise you to stay clear of this as there are quite a few of them gnawing away at victims flesh.
It was a shame though that the make up department however failed to live up to expectations when it came to the revealing of the baddie in the film. The first initial glimpses of him made me believe that his unveiling would be truly horrifying, but alias when I did see him in the flesh so to speak I actually burst out laughing. Note to make up department, horror films arent scary if the killer looks so fake and silly that the audience laughs instead of shuddering with fear.
Directed by Chris Smith ( Severance) this is only the third film that hes written and directed, and one can only hope he gets better as time goes on. With a weak script and no sense of which direction he wanted the film to take, what were left with is this mess. The tube station setting with its many tunnels and obvious dark corners should have made for plenty jump out of your skin moments, but Smith fails to use this setting to its full potential.
At just over 80 minutes in length, the ending couldn't have come soon enough for me.
While the running time isnt long by any means, the fact that it still felt dragged out meant Id had enough at the halfway mark. If Kates situation had been more believable from the start and the back story of the killer explained a little more, then this film could have been so much more than your average slasher films.
This film is rated 18 which I feel is justified as it does contain strong bloody violence. As I mentioned the gore is very realistic throughout and while it wasnt enough to make me squirm, Im sure there are many of you that may find it all too much to watch.
While Creep had so much potential it failed to deliver the goods in most areas, so therefore I dont recommend you buy this film. If you do want to see it then I suggest you rent it out, or better still just wait until it comes on the tele and if youve got nothing better to do then give it a go.
Creep was released on DVD in 2004 and is available at Amazon for £5.97, or new & used from the marketplace starting at £1.99.
As a child I loved playing games, whether they were made up ones or board games it didnt matter I just loved to play them. In an age of digital television, the Internet and computer games, I think its all too easy to flop down in front of a screen and become glued to it (says me here taking an age to type this out) and disregard them.
Regrettably since my childhood the only game I had until recently was Scrabble, a game I never tire of playing, as I enjoy doing things that tax my brain without it becoming boring. A quick browse on the Internet for board games and such like, I came across MindTrap, a game that promises to challenge the way you think ..and see!
At a very reasonable price of £8.47 I didnt hesitate in purchasing it, and waited for its arrival. Little did I know that when it was to arrive and be unpacked, it was going to do more than tax my brain, it was going to drive me nuts!
What I like about the packaging is the fact the game is well preserved, and it comes in a rather smart and eye catching tin. The trouble with cardboard boxes that most games come in is the fact they usually end up squashed and broken. Also when this tends to happen, creatures of a furry and indeed feathery kind tend to poke pieces out which end up disappearing to the land of unknown. With this sturdy packaging you can rest assured that as long as you put everything back in it, itll still be there and the tin will always look just as good as the day you purchased the game.
So onto the game itself and MindTrap in a nutshell consists of brain teasing questions, which are designed to make you give your brain a good workout. However theyll be times when the answer is starring you right in the face, and yet you still can't fathom it out. Believe me youll be kicking yourself when the answer is finally revealed, as I know there were times when I was.
Inside the box youll find a pad with the games on it, 2 packs of question/answer cards, a dice, and the most frustrating set of rules youre ever likely to come across!
While some games have the most simplest of rules that are impossible to get wrong, these ones actually took almost an afternoon to figure out and had me nearly pulling my hair out.
The game is designed for 2 players or teams ages 12 to adult, and you have the option of playing a long game or a short game. The winner is the first team or person to make it to the end of the optical illusion diagram, having correctly answered their questions.
Now this is the part where things get a little confusing, and its simply down to the fact that the rules aren't written clearly, and rarely follow on in a logical manner. Now Ive finally worked them out and played the game a few times, I hope that I can explain whats what a little more clearly to you. For the remainder of this review Ill refer to teams, but remember that you can play the game with just 2 people and the rules are still the same.
As Ive mentioned you have the option of choosing the length of game you want to play, and the illusion (think curled up snake) has a light path and a dark path to follow.
Theres no explanation of how you choose the path you follow, as you both cant pick the same one. The rules just state that team 1 follows the darker path, and team 2 follows the lighter path. At the end of the day though it doesnt matter who follows which, so I would suggest flipping a coin to decide. A member of team 1 then starts by picking a card, reading it out loud, then turns it over and takes in the answer silently making sure they understand the answer fully. Afterwards team 2 can read the question, and if they get the answer correct they have the option of filling in a square on the diagram, or roll the die and fill in that number square. Incorrectly answering a question results in team 1 (not the question reader) getting a shot at the answer, and having the chance to fill in one square. A member of team 2 now gets to read a question even if their answer was wrong.
My favourite of the cards is the inquiry ones, where the answering team gets to ask the reader any question that might help them get the answer. Sounds easy enough, but the reader can only respond by answering yes, no or irrelevant. The winners are the team who reaches the end of the optical illusion first.
I hope I havent confused you, but just take time to read over the rules as its not a game youll be able to pick up and start playing it straight away.
Once I finally worked out the rules, I really got into the game with friends and family and we all found it enjoyable and very addictive. Its a game that you should allow plenty of time for, as even playing the shorter game we found it could take well over an hour to complete. You see theres no time limit on giving your answer, so if a question has really stumped someone then that of course will lengthen the game. The rules do state though that youre free to set any limitations, so if you find youre nodding off to sleep waiting for the answer then you can call time. Guesses are also not allowed, and you must give a full explanation which I enjoy as it really challenges you to think about the answer.
If I could improve this game in any way, it would have been to have designed a board with counters rather than paper diagrams. This is because once youve used them up then thats it, unless you copy out some more.
The makers of this game recommend its for players aged 12 to adult, but while playing the game I felt it would be too hard for the average 12 year old. I would personally recommend it for ages 14 to adult, but certainly wouldnt stop anyone younger from playing. The two packs contain a variety of questions, but Id say it would help if you were reasonably well up on your math as there are quite a few mathematical problems to solve. Since maths wasnt my strong point at school and it took my 3 times to get a grade C at GCSE, I think you can imagine how difficult I find these problems to solve.
I also found it very helpful not to take every question at face value, and that sometimes the answer really is that obvious. It can be so easy to read too much into the question, when the answer once revealed makes perfect sense well some of the time anyway.
Whether you play it one on one, in a team or just have a go at answering the questions yourself, youll get hours of enjoyment out of it.
As the game was so popular it spawned a sequel adding in visual experiences, as well as puzzles that you have to assemble in order to find clues to solve the murder mysteries.
Seeing as the original was such a hit at home, I will definitely be purchasing these.
I purchased my game from Amazon for £8.47, although I see its now gone up to £9.95.
You can also purchase it new from £7.49, just watch out for the p&p.
I think the game is priced very reasonably, as it continues to provide myself and others with hours of entertainment. So if you find youre stuck for something to do on a rainy day, or just want a change from the tele, then you cant go wrong with this.
To finish Ill leave you with this little teaser, so get those thinking caps on Shadow discovered Sandy lying on her side in a puddle of water and broken glass. When the doctor arrived he pronounced her dead. Since Sandy had no cuts on her body, how did she die?