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spencer_hawken
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    • The Joneses (DVD) / DVD / 41 Readings / 37 Ratings
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      04.10.2010 20:27
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      A family turn out not to be quite as they seem

      The world is governed by brands and must haves, no matter what we have we always want more, there is always better. This is the fascinating groundwork for The Joneses.


      The Joneses are new in town Steve (David Duchovney) is charismatic, wife Kate (Demi Moore) is beautiful, daughter Jenn (Amber Heard) is the girl all men want but can't have, and finally Mick (Ben Hollingsworth) who is everyone's friend. The Joneses live the perfect life, they have everything you would ever want, and work very little; but behind this exterior things in the Joneses house are not as they seem, this is no real family at all. Placed in a new upcoming community the Joneses are marketing tools, high-powered sales people who are there to make you buy the goods and lifestyle they sell.

      It's a sad state of affairs but you can lay out the story of The Joneses from its opening few minutes, so even while the concept itself is a new one, the background issues are not. Relationships built on work alone always lead to something else and this is no exception at all, also it's a guaranteed given that somebody is going to get hurt. But despite these criticism's this is still a highly enjoyable film.

      So I've looked at what is wrong with the movie, and to be honest predictability is the only offence committed here, so what is right about it? The biggest plus point is that this is very much a family movie, no sex, no real violence (with the exclusion of one justified, but tame scene), and no bad language, and I mean absolutely none at all. It's so annoying that in our current time, you cannot let children see movies that do not contain at least one of the above factors, despite the cutting edge technology offered in the movie to consumers this feels very 1985, back in the day when the term "family movie" meant exactly that. To top the movie off you have teen yearnings, a desire not to conform and be an individual, and some good moral lessons.

      The key players are joined by some quality backing actors that include Lauren Hutton, Glenne Headly, and Gary Cole; all of whom like the principal cast are a delight to watch, nobody is out of place, nobody miscast; the performers are the perfect casting on an almost perfect cake.

      The Joneses sadly wont set the world on fire, but maybe, just maybe it will point the way for other movie producers and send the message that a family movie does not have to be all about animation, or wizards; a family movie can be adult, amusing, and safe for everyone to enjoy.

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    • Dead Cert (DVD) / DVD / 29 Readings / 29 Ratings
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      03.10.2010 16:21
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      Vampires enter the London gang scene

      On Frightfest's 2010 opening night things had been good, that was until British horror Dead Cert began.

      Set in the world of London gangsters and underground boxing matches Dead Cert circles round the character of Freddy Frankham (Craig Fairbrass). After years of trying, he has finally achieved his dream of owning a swanky nightclub. But like any dream, someone is there to interfere with things, brother in law Eddie Christian (Dexter Fletcher) has been mixing with some very dark company, Romanian "businessman" Dante Livenko (Billy Murray). A fixed boxing match throws Freddy out of his nightclub, and puts Dante in charge of it, turning swanky to seedy. But there is more to this than just rigging, Dante and his minions are more than just "businessmen", these Romanians are the oldest type of Romanian, they are vampires and the streets of London are about to be washed with blood.



      My synopsis of events make Dead Cert, sound as solid as its title. But nothing is certain about this movie other than its abysmal standards, no wonder Danny Dyer (who has a brief cameo) never really wanted his name on it. For a few moments I and possibly many others were swung into believing our initial conclusions about the movie might be unjust, nobody had high expectations of this movie and this was proven by the fact that half the audience from the previous movie had gone. But as the Billy Murray, and a group of other stars including Fairbrass, and Stephen Berkoff took to the stage to tell how great it was to work together, and the well thought out titles and accompanying music played out it was easy to believe this might not have been as bad as initial thoughts.



      Solid ended with the opening credits had finished, and the story starting. Dexter Fletcher dazzled for a few moments looking like Quentin Crisp in his 40's, his abrupt shoot first ask questions later still had me hoping for more. But as the movie continued Fletcher's character became crushed under a mound of rubble consisting of Craig Fairbrass and Billy Murray's awful acting. Fletcher switched from Quentin Crisp to one of the Jackson five for the rest of the movie, and original promise was all gone.

      The big shock for me was Billy Murray, as Romanian Dante I was very impressed, Murray always plays the bad guy, but there was something really quite evil about him here, you believed he was bad. When the reveal (and I'm not spoiling anything) occurred in which he switches from hard faced businessman to Vampire or as Murray himself described it "Dracula" things just dropped a whole hell of a lot of notches. A child with vampire teeth would have performed better, and to make things worse voice changer technology was added so he sounded like a computerized monster, one whose lips and vocals did not add up.

      Craig Fairbrass is never a good bet as anything other than a supporting character, and giving him the lead was a big mistake, I'm sure Fairbrass is a good guy, but his performances from Beyond Bedlam to Eastenders are always the same, never anything different; and here he plays the same character he always does, himself; only this time with a few pounds in his pocket.



      The right move for this movie would have been to cast Fletcher in the lead role, and for Stephen Berkoff to play Dante, that would have been a character matching hard to live down. Sadly Berkoff just gets to play a dithering old fool that has all the answers and nobody listens too, pre and post transformation Berkoff would have put shivers down your spine, he does bad just so well.

      The biggest gripe of all however is that it was just so boring, every scene was over labored from the launch of the pathetic vampires, to the dull whining of Jen (Lisa McAllister) over her need to be pregnant. Battle plans seem to take minutes instead of seconds in the planning, and Berkoff's story about vampires rising just fell on deaf ears. The scene in which things were meant to go all "From Dusk Till Dawn" was the ultimate hollow gift.

      Sadly as I looked around I could see I was not alone in my thoughts, numerous people got fed up and walked out on the movie, many fell asleep, and some sat checking Facebook on their mobile phones. In fairness even if none of your friends had put Facebook updates up during the movie, it would still be far more interesting that what was offered here.

      Dead Cert provided Frighfest 2010's first week link.

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    • Frozen [2010] (DVD) / DVD / 29 Readings / 27 Ratings
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      02.10.2010 21:06
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      Three skiers are trapped on a ski lift

      If you sat director Adam Green down and asked what his best achievement was, he would be bound to tell you it is Frozen. First introduced in trailer form to the audience at the 2009 Frightfest, Green delivered the world premier of the movie for the first Frightfest of 2010 (Scotland). This rising star in the movie industry continues to deliver, even his ill received Spiral has somewhat a cult following, but does Frozen live up to his boasts, is it something he can really be proud of.



      Joe (Shawn Ashmore), Dan (Kevin Zegers), and Parker (Emma Bell) are up in the mountains for a days skiing and snowboarding, having achieved cut-price rides up the mountain on the ski lift, it's a good day. A final run up however, and issues at the base, bring their final ride up the mountain to a sudden halt. Trapped miles up the mountain in the ski lift chair, the three watch in amazement as the lights on the resort go out and the mountain closes until the following weekend. Belief in being saved runs quickly thin, and the realization that 20 meters of air is between them and the ground. A leap of faith turns to further problems when one of them sits below the seat with two broken legs. As wolves begin to circle, the trio realize that death can come three ways, from freezing temperatures, a tragic fall, or the incredibly hungry wolves.

      Frozen begins with the trademark Adam Green combination of background building and humour, he efficiently lures the watcher into a false sense of security so that when the "big bad" comes, it comes good and strong. You might not think this a difficult task, but believe me that's not the case; and this is the reason there are so many bad horror movies around nowadays. What Green realizes is that the audience has to bond with the characters in the first ten or so minutes or you lose them.



      Once the niceties are out of the way things get a lot darker, and you join three characters as they explore all the scenarios. Slowly all the options of escape are reviewed over the remainder of the movie, and in fairness this also exposes the movies weaknesses. While the trio review their options their background stories continue to unravel, but you as a viewer kind of get to the point where you think "I don't care about background anymore, just get on with it". Sadly you reach a point where it's not quite enough, what's going on onscreen I mean. There is just that little bit too much background in between strategizing the escape options. You kind of wish more time had been spent on the background before they went up the mountain, so that as they enter into the danger zone they are focused on the task in hand.

      Criticism over in between the padding you have something not entirely new (although the ski lift aspect is) but very gripping, the story takes an incredibly dark view of things, forget hope, lets look at the worst things you can think of as an opener. And 45 minutes in the movie and your gritting your teeth because of what you have just seen. Shortly followed by something equally as unpleasant.

      Frozen is described by many as Jaws on a Ski Slope, and it's a fairly accurate description to be fair; the one thing is for sure if you like one you'll like the other. Those in favour of a high body count will be a little disappointed, those that enjoy two (or in this case three) handed movies, where the minimum possible cast carry the story will find something good in this. And for those that like there visual impressions bloodily delivered there is something a little special for you in the final fifteen minutes of the movie, and its here that I'll remember Frozen most of all; sometimes in a movie you see something that registers in your head more prominently than anything else, and for me its that image that I'll always think of when I give Frozen some thought.



      The performances in the movie are excellent, driven by strong character development. No star outshines the other, all work hard for there money. There are also some nice cameos that include director Joe Lynch (who also has a character in the movie named after him), Friday The 13th star Kane Hodder, and even Adam Green.

      In most directors career there are defining moments, the point where their career moves into a completely different league, for Adam Green, off the back of this movie his time has come. While clearly made on a budget, Frozen seems every bit the blockbuster movie; lets just hope it gets the releases across the world it should.

      Frozen is at cinemas now, with the DVD release due shortly.

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    • The Human Centipede (DVD) / DVD / 40 Readings / 35 Ratings
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      23.09.2010 18:06
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      A mad doctor takes his experimentation a little too far.

      Since 2009's Frightfest (maybe a little before) there has been this wave of controversy that has surrounded one movie, talked about, theorised, and worst of all imagined The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is a movie that is causing an awful lot of controversy, if you have not heard about it... Where have you been?



      The Human Centipede follows the intelligent but crazy Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) as he embarks on his greatest creation. Known across the world for his work separating conjoined twins, he is now hard at work putting people back together, the difference being these people are not in any way related. Having successfully joined three dogs together, Heiter is keen to up the ante a little with a more daring experiment. His plan to join three people together and make them as one, a human centipede. The head of the centipede has the easiest ride, with the middle and last part joined mouth to anus with one another, allowing the digestive system to run from the front end to the back. Snatching two American girls, and a Japanese man, Heiter imprisons them before eventually operating.

      This is a movie that thankfully sounds far worse either in writing or dialogue; the actual visual revelation of watching the movie is far less shocking, but as you pass on the knowledge of your discovery, that person too will have the same horrific images conjured up in their head that you did when you first heard about Human Centipede. Please don't get me wrong, its still not plain sailing and when the first bowel movement after the operation takes place you will undoubtedly be put you on the edge of your seat, but if your expecting the most horrific movie you have ever seen, your in for a nasty surprise. Yes The Human Centipede is a film that makes you think more about what's going on than actually seeing it, rather cleverly it also has you predicting what is about to happen, but thankfully failing to deliver.



      This is a curious movie, because while obviously being shot on a budget it looks both incredibly beautiful (if you can classify a movie of this type beautiful), and at times incredibly cheap. Performances in the movie are sketchy, the two lead women perform quite shockingly until the power of speech is removed from them, and then there acting somehow improves. Two police officers turn up, and as well as looking like they just fell out of a skip, they act the same. Only Laser is the real performer here, but in a cheesy rip off of Peter Cushing style. So against the backdrop of beauty, you have these ropey performances. The key quality aspect of the movie has to without a doubt be down to the movies location, a remote bungalow with pool (which I presume could be multiple locations as the joins are far from seamless), this is a home you really want to live in, but most importantly seems made for a movie just like this. A scene where Heiter parades his new pet centipede round the garden is certainly a thing of beauty, and an image that will ingrain its way into your head; not because its shocking, just because it looks so good.

      In terms of suspense and story formation to be honest it's a fairly dragged out affair, everything just seems to go on for that little bit too long, and most of this occurs pre-op so to speak, when you really just want him to get to work. When it starts to happen however you really want things to slow down a little, there are so many questions that really need addressing and obviously wont due to the time limitations that now haunt the movie.



      Director Tom Six flies out of obscurity and straight into the limelight, fourteen months ago he could have happily walked down the street in any town in the world; now in his trademark white suit and fedora he is immediately spotted by an army of horror movie fans as he discovered when he returned to the 2010 Frightfest. In horror circles Six is the guy to watch out for, and to elevate himself to this level is a masterstroke. Running the world providing his own publicity wagon The Human Centipede has slowly unravelled across the world with the majority of countries only recently getting to see it.

      On a medical level, director Six claims he sought out the advice of a top surgeon to find out whether such a thing was possible. After telling Six that it was disgusting and he wanted nothing to do with it, not only did he reveal that the process was indeed possible, but also gave Six information as to how to actually make it work.

      With a title like The Human Centipede (First Sequence), you realise that this is not a one off affair. And in 2009 Six took to the stage at Frightfest and said that this was like My Little Pony compared to what he has in store for the sequel. And so having been the talk of the horror industry for near on fourteen months (and still hardy anybody has seen it) we are a year away from The Human Centipede (Full Sequence); whatever the production values, whatever the quality this is a movie franchise that quite literally has legs, and will be haunting us for a few years to come.

      As selected cinemas in the UK at the time of Writing. The DVD release is due in October.

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      • Zombie Flesh Eaters (DVD) / DVD / 34 Readings / 33 Ratings
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        24.08.2010 20:48
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        A movie that equals Romero's Dawn Of The Dead, but without the blue zombies.

        I think most lovers of horror movies love a zombie picture, but to be perfectly fair how often does a zombie give you a scare. Yes people will always say that George Romero's Dawn Of The Dead is the finest movie of its style, but did it give you any scares? While American George Romero and Italian director Dario Argento were feverously working away in Pennsylvania, another Italian director called Lucio Fulci was filming another zombie movie all across the globe. Although they filmed at the same time Romero's movie was released first, and the feisty Italians who saw Dawn Of The Dead released in Italy as Zombi chose to sneakily release Fulci's movie as Zombi 2 (UK audiences saw it as Zombie Flesh Eaters while in the US is was known as Zombie) an unofficial sequel to Romero's movie (which in turn was a sequel to the movie Night Of The Living Dead). The result saw Fulci's movie quickly sold across the globe, but while Dawn Of The Dead scored for gore, Fulci's scored on the grounds of scares, and was promptly banned in almost every country across the globe.

        In New York a deserted boat runs havoc with passing ships and ferries, the harbour patrol head in to investigate and discover a giant walking zombie with a thirst for human flesh. The boat belongs to Anne Bowles' (Tisa Farrow, sister of Mia) father, and she is very concerned as to his whereabouts' having not heard from him in some considerable time. After teaming up with reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch) the pair head for an island in the vicinity of the Dominican Republic in search of answers, teaming up with an American couple, arriving on the island reveals a horror darker than they ever expected, chances of survival, minimal.



        While not exactly a movie that rewards the viewer with repeat viewings, Zombi 2 is by far one of the best made and most harrowing zombie movies ever. Although some of the performances are a little weak every single scene is beautifully shot, every moment of terror a real edge of your seat affair. Fulci's zombies are utterly disgusting looking, and far more terrifying than Romero's ever could be.

        You cannot help but think of Texas Chainsaw Massacre as the first zombie makes its appearance, in TCM the first time you see Leatherface he pulls open a door at speed and clubs a young man over the head with a hammer, here the first zombie crashes through a door grabbing a man; slightly different but the comparisons are striking. This is arguably one of the most aggressive scenes of the movie.

        While the above scene is striking its not the most memorable, one scene caused the censors in the UK and other a few other countries a lot of headaches. A character whilst trying to protect herself from a zombie onslaught is grabbed through a hole in a door, and slowly pulled forward. It's when you see what the character is pulling pulled onto however that the captivation for the scene begins, you see what is happening, you understand what's happening, but in your head your saying you don't want to see it, however like a car crash you cannot help but look. This now famous eyeball penetration scene sees a piece of wood puncture the woman's eye and then pull it out. The next time you see her its equally as uncomfortable, she is laid on the floor while zombies pick lumps of flesh off her corpse and eat it. In most countries those censors had difficulty editing the eyeball scene, obviously seeing its importance but not wanting to traumatize the viewer.



        Slightly more laughable is the also now famous (most recently due to an advert for Windows 7) zombie verses shark scene, in which a zombie and shark have a battle on the ocean floor. It's very silly but at the same time so incredibly clever, to film a fight scene underwater with a very small budget is a tremendous achievement, and for the actor playing the zombie no clear breathing equipment.

        The performers make the movie what it is, British Actor Ian McCulloch heads up the cast, and rather surprisingly has not found himself redubbed for a English language release like a lot of other Italian movies. Best known in the UK McCulloch starred in the popular TV series the Survivors, he also had a three hit run of successful Italian horror movies firstly Zombi 2, then Zombie Holocaust AKA Dr Butcher MD, and finally Contamination AKA Alien Contamination. Richard Johnson a much established and successful actor of the day makes a somewhat surprising appearance as Dr Meynard, while popular actors often turned up in Italian movies more often than not it was at the end of their prime, Johnson at this point was still a very known and current performer. Popular Italian actor Al Cliver also appears alongside Tisa Farrow who I can only presume was cast due to the Farrow name and her relationship to Mia. While the likes of Cliver, and other Italian stars suffer from a touch of bad dubbing on English language releases the performances are of a much higher standard than a lot of similar movies of the day, director Fulci is known for not caring too much about his cast as his career in the horror industry continued here near the start its clear he did care.



        Zombi 2 has a lot of great trivia and tales that surround it, the fact that they turned up in New York and filmed in very public locations without any permission being the most interesting aspect. A little known tale is the fact that the movie was in a pre-production state for some years and was originally ordered as a Zombie Western based on a popular Italian comic. Most interesting especially if you have not ever heard of the movie before is the fact that profit wise it's the most profitable zombie movie of all time, coming hot on the heels of Dawn Of The Dead the world was wanting zombie movies and the film had made its initial cost dozens of times over before anybody had even seen it, in Italy alone it had made over a billion lira profit before even the makers had seen it properly.

        Most importantly the film changed the direction of a once hugely successful director, making Lucio Fulci immortal in the world of horror. While he had touched on horror with Lizard In A Woman's Skin and Don't Torture A Duckling, (although unconventional horror) the director was known only for comedies and musicals at that point. A bad run of financial luck meant that he sold himself cheaply to work on Zombi 2 and as a result became the most wanted Italian horror movie director of the day. From Zombie 2 Fulci's horror output increased dramatically building successful movie after successful movie, all of which were either banned or heavily censored across the world.

        The UK release is a scattered affair, the Vipco/Black Horse editions released after 2004 has portions of the eye scene cut, after 2004 more specifically on the Box Of The Banned Edition is pretty much uncut except for about a second. The US Version on the Shriekshow label is by far the best, completely uncut and with an exciting new documentary, and a number of other features.

        If you have never seen Zombi 2 before then I suggest you do with some haste, and if you have never experienced the wonder of Italian horror there are few better starting places, but I worn you this genre can be incredibly addictive.

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        • More +
          23.08.2010 20:38
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          A man with "issues" hits the road and leaves bodies in his wake.

          At the start of the 1980's in the UK the video market ran rife with movies that were not from the big Hollywood film companies, the covers of the videotapes (at that point in time unmonitored) were as graphic in nature as they possibly could be. One such movie was the 1981 low budget movie Nightmares or Nightmares In A Damaged Brain as it was known in the UK. This particular movies publicity art featured a picture of a giant brain (although it bore no meaning to the movie itself) the company releasing the movie even had a competition running in which you could win the brain. The UK government began at this point in time to bow to media pressure and formed the BBFC (British Board Of Film Classification) to regulate what we could or could not see, the BBFC began looking at titles and certifying them and on some occasions even banning them. Nightmares In A Damaged Brain came to their attention initially because of the Brain on the cover, and they were immediately negative towards it, but viewing the movie gave them even more cause for concern.



          The movie surrounds the character of George Tatum a man clearly disturbed by events from the past, having spent years in monitored care George fins himself out in the big wide world and without the medicine he needs to keep his sanity. Flitting through the red light district and having the odd fit, George heads for the coast on a mission to stalk a family. Leaving a trail of bodies in his wake, what is George's goal?

          Nightmares In A Damaged Brain was notorious for nearly two decades in the UK, not seeing light of day until the BBFC relaxed their monitoring after the retirement of head James Ferman. While it made a release it did suffer some seconds of cuts, this was of for the majority of viewers, the odd few thanks to a glitch at the original DVD label ended up with a fully uncut version. For the majority its still censorship hell, and to be fair there is not that much to censor.



          The issue I personally have for this movie is that while at the time it was probably quite cutting edge, by the time it saw the light of day it comes off as a third rate Friday The 13th style thriller, highly predictable, and easily forgettable. I have seen the movie three times and forget the majority of it accept for one particular scene.

          I don't wish to create too negative an atmosphere for the movie because there is a lot that is quite good about it. Once you manage to get your head round the terrible acting, the incredibly irritating computer that is still to this day ahead of its time while stuck back in the 1980's, and the lack of depth to all the characters it has some good points. The key area of interest is the fact that George has no qualms at all about what he kills to get to where he needs to be, think long and hard how many movies do you see in which the killer kills a child? Teen death in movies is common fare but a child around ten years old? And a desire to possibly kill more. This is the most striking point to the movie and if any aspect of the story stays with you this will be the one thing.

          The character of C.J. provides some annoyance as an irritating kid, who sadly you see the events unravelling through his eyes. Played by a young actor also called C.J. (Cooke) this performer had a one career outing, and it's not really surprising.

          The performances in the movie all-round are pretty dreadful, the mother played by Sharon Smith is pretty awful and on a couple of occasions you'll catch her on the verge of laughing when her role demands the opposite. The actors who play the medical team are equally as bad, you could believe that they were actually in the medial profession but with no degree of acting experience, worse still they all seem to mumble.



          On the subject of mumbling the soundtrack could do with a reboot from the current UK release, as well as that annoying issue of quiet vocals and loud noise that keeps you reaching for the remote control to turn the volume up and down; you also have a series of annoying hisses, and blurry moments.

          It's an intensely hollow and lonely movie, all the sets seem empty unless something happens. The locations are beautiful but completely clear of other characters all the time. The key house seems to have no neighbours despite the rather busy road that is seen through one of the windows. I appreciate budget limitations etc. but this just seems too lightweight to give it any level of legitimacy.

          The usual stalk and slash rules apply, if you end up in any degree of nakedness in this movie your for it, and quite a few of the characters fall down this line. If the female characters are vaguely sexy then they are for it too, maybe not before they get naked though.

          Finally the ending of the movie is incredibly predictable if you have a penchant for horror, if not then you might get the intended shock. Again however this is more a sign of the times, we have become so habituated to stories with twists horror or otherwise, that the shocking end seems somewhat lightweight.

          On the whole though maybe through maturity it does not seem so bad as the last times I have watched it and it actually kept me fairly captivated which it has not on other occasions. Did it deserve its ban? Having seen it in cut and uncut versions I'd say no, except for a Childs death there was nothing here that you never saw in other movies of the day, and from an aspect of gore nothing more than you might get in a 12 rated movie (or if you prefer PG 13).

          The UK DVD comes when you can find it on a DVD without special features. It also comes as part of the Box Of The Banned Boxset or as a double with with totally inappropriate Demonium.

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          • Edge of Darkness (DVD) / DVD / 30 Readings / 29 Ratings
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            21.08.2010 12:31
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            The highly successful 1985 TV series gets a Hollywood make over

            Based on a 1985 highly successful BBC television series, Edge Of Darkness is a political thriller with an edge. When detective Tom Craven (Mel Gibson) has a visit from his daughter a chain of events spiral out of control. Emma (Bojana Novakovic) is showing clear signs of illness, and after some hesitation decides to confide in her father something. Heading for the hospital an armed gunman screams out "Craven" and fires his gun hitting Emma. The police immediately begin looking at who could have had issue with Tom, but as Tom himself looks further into the situation he realizes that the gunman was not after him as all others believe, but after his daughter. The big question being why?



            Loving the original television series I approached Edge Of Darkness with some great hesitation, I suspected that the show I had loved would become tainted by a terrible remake, but Edge Of Darkness was not actually that bad, in fact rather enjoyable. Of course it's hard to condense 6 hours of story into a movie marginally just over an hour and forty five minutes long, and as a result certain corners had to be cut, but minus the overlying menace that the original had this remake managed to be consistently shocking.

            On the subject of shocks, the biggest thing I take from the movie was the shock it gave me about halfway into the movie, you can see what is about to happen a mile off but still it manages to disturb you, it was the first "jump" I had watching a movie this year.

            Like the television series events circle around the mysterious Northmoor, in the original it focused on the illegal production of plutonium, but in this adaptation its all about covering up situations that occur in a nuclear production site, and how the head of the utility deals with issues. Politically it also shows the US government as having a hand in his despicable dealing.

            There has over the last few years been much discussion about Mel Gibson and his sobriety (amongst other things) and other than some pretty over the top acting towards the end Gibson proves he still has what it takes, and after years of personal crusade movies you suddenly are forced to remember just how good Gibson is in an action role; of course its been a good ten years since he took up a decent action role (Payback) and he has clearly aged, but it's still a good show.



            Less impressive however is Ray Winstone as Jedburg, and to elaborate it's possibly not Winstone's fault. Sadly the role of Jedburg is very poorly written, he's a completely one dimension character who you know as much about at the end of the movie as you did at the start, a stark contrast to the original series.

            Taking up a key role is Danny Huston who does what he does so well, playing the bad guy, the character he is based on from the original was a minor character; here he has been illuminated and features heavily, in fact much more than the second billed Winstone.

            Structure wise it's a full on movie, with things happening all the way through, there are no periods of bland chit chat that seem like they are just there to fill time. No this is one long rollercoaster from start to finish, and a pretty bloody one too.

            There were no special features other than a splattering of trailers on this rental disc. You can purchase various options on DVD and Blu-Ray with some features for around £10-£17.

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            • Satans Baby Doll (DVD) / DVD / 32 Readings / 30 Ratings
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              20.08.2010 18:15
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              The death of a woman provokes strange behaviour in her daughter

              When you enter into a movie thinking the worst possible things about it the only outcome can be positive. I heard the most awful things about Satan's Baby Doll (La bimba Di Satana), and the review sites indicated that the movie was not good, a lot of review web sites seldom allowed the movie to get above one star in a 5-10 rating scale. Fellow reviewers also screamed of the atrocity of this movie, so a little reluctantly I took the plunge and settled down for a viewing.



              I watched Satan's Baby Doll on the current UK Shameless release, the movie is the most unedited version on the market, and has had certain scenes re-inserted that are of a low grade material, so in some areas the scene quality is variable, that being said this is not a frequent problem and only happens two maybe three times. The movie is delivered in Italian with English subtitles, which can be a problem for some genre lovers, personally I prefer movies in their native tongue, not only does it allow you the pleasure of learning aspects of a foreign language it often makes the performances in lower budget movie offerings a lot better, bad dubbing often being confused by some for bad acting. That being said this is not the case for Satan's Baby Doll in which the acting is absolutely atrocious for 80% of the cast.

              The story circles around the death of Maria who died in circumstances only revealed towards the end of the movie. On a day of mourning Maria suddenly releases her last gasp, and daughter Miria becomes obsessed with the fact that her mother is not dead, and convinced that she calls to her in the night from the houses chilly crypt. As the hours and days are unfold it becomes apparent that there are a lot of secrets between the house walls, and as a killer stalks the property slowly the secrets are revealed.



              Made in 1982 towards the end of Italy's golden age of horror Satan's Baby Doll was one of many that was moving into a horror/pornography genre, it was not hardcore pornography for the most part it was fairly softcore, but still for the time enough to get censors up in arms in different countries across the globe, hence the trimming of the movie. While on the whole censorship is something I'm very much against I can't help but think that this movie may well have been a little better censored, maybe even more so than it initially was. You see one half of the movie is a fairly standard Italian horror romp, the other side is well literally just "romp" and while quite pertinent in some case on the whole it's quite unnecessary; that being said the movies producers and demand for better quality horror movies obviously demanded this element, as they clearly could not compete with the quality of horror being released in other countries.

              It's a sorry old state of affairs for both the characters and the actors that play them in the movie, none of which are particularly likeable. You have Miria who spends half the movie in bed the other half walking around corridors on her own. Sol is the kind nun in training, caring for Miria's uncle as well as Miria herself, but despite her care seems somewhat one-dimensional. Then there is Antonio owner of the house who while he should be grieving is figuring out how to get into Sol's habit, and get rid of the rest of the house "you'll not hurt anyone else in this house" he shouts at one point, when nobody except him and one other remains in it, pretty much just meaning himself. Antonio is addicted to some wonderful variety of drug which he injects on a regular basis, he also has some sort of seizure but I'm not sure whether this is due to a drug withdrawal or if the drugs are to cover some internal pain, they certainly do not protect him from the dreadful acting delivered by Aldo Sambrell who plays the character. Then you have the uncle who's name escapes me who rolls round the house in his wheelchair zombie like, unless that is the opportunity to letch on an attractive nun happens to occur. Next is the similarly named (but easily forgettable) manservant, who seems to know exactly what's going on and is carrying out allsorts of satanic acts in the houses crypt, being the one in the know he has to be one of the first to go.

              Performances aside and as I have previously allured too, I personally do not think the movie is that bad. You have a nice catchy soundtrack, a story that's not half bad, and a running time at around an hour and fifteen minutes that is just long enough not to become overly tedious.

              The problems lie with Mario Bianchi the movies director who tries to keep the perverts and the horror enthusiasts happy, and while he's focusing on both these areas he has completely lost touch of the fact that his actors for the most part really cannot act. A death near the end of the movie via a balcony is so bad, so poorly delivered that any half good director would never have let it pass by. It's almost like there was a shortage of film (or more likely time) as shot after shot is captured in one take, who cares if it works it's a wrap!

              If you're a fan of Italian horror you will recognize numerous angles of filming as the movies location (or at least some shots) are also caught in The Etruscan Kills Again, The Nights Of Terror, and one of The Blind Dead movies. I keep using the term house, but this is a mansion if anything.

              It's far from brilliant, but its not awful, and sadly where as I could only look upwards, having the lowest expectations I may have raised yours a touch which will undoubtedly cause you to hate it and maybe even have me laughed off the internet as a poor reviewer.

              On the special features front there is an alternate opening scene, another small cut scene, a biography and a series of Shameless trailers.

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            • More +
              19.08.2010 20:10
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              A run of the mill horror gets the darkness of the human factor.

              The horror movie market is a pretty crowded place at the moment, with every country rushing to produce the next horror movie that gets the world talking, into the fray comes Iceland with their offering Harpoon (AKA Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre) a movie that claims to offer something different, but does it?



              The story surrounds a pretty multi-cultured group of people, (an aspect that I really liked because each culture speaks its own language which in turn creates problems) whom partake in a day trip out to see the wonder of Iceland's whales. Something is amiss from the offset, a strange young man who tries to sell wooden whales to the tourists who may or may not have learning difficulties, a sudden change of boat due to an "incident" and then the rather unfortunate incident involving a drunken Frenchman a pipe, and the ships captain played by none other than Gunnar Hansan (Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). It's at this point they meet up with a group of what are referred to on the movies packaging as Fishbillies, an inbred looking group who slowly rather than help the stranded whale watchers pick them off one by one.

              On the whole Harpoon is pretty standard horror fare following the likes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wrong Turn; but at its heart if your prepared to look a little deeper is something rather special, something very realistic and very honest. The greatest terror of the movie is not the trio of Fishbillies, but the darkness that lies within an individual when pushed to the edge. Yes the killers are a little bit of a hazard but comparatively speaking the passengers fall foul to one another or acts of circumstance rather than the quite bungling inbreeds. I say this a lot in my reviews and feel a little repetitive saying it again but nobody is likable in this movie, they are all despicable individuals with rather screwed up motives, and a thirst for survival; the ones you expect to be the heroes are the underdogs, the ones who look like they will be the first to fall are the last standing and it's how they get there that keeps this otherwise dull horror moving along at a speed of knots.



              I'll stay with the characters for a bit, because quite how despicable they all are is the real beating heart of this movie. One of the characters is permanently used as a sex ornament, and while nobody ever actually gets to have sex with her, nobody ever really puts in much of an effort to help her either. When she is ensued in a rather extreme assault one of the characters having seen her despair gives no consolation, or any interest in help. Another character who supposedly is caring for a sick woman actually uses the woman as a method of disposing of one of the movies "villains". From here on out its one level of treachery to the next, people are tools to get you from A to B, what happens to them in the meantime seems no concern to anyone at all.

              The scenery, what little there is to see is beautiful, and I think the producers do a reasonable job at promoting Iceland, although it does seem to have that gloomy downtrodden feel that nearly every Australian movie does. Nobody ever seems to portray Australia for the country it is, its always doom gloom, and frankly a little backward; and the same crime is committed on Iceland to a level, although while feeling that doom and gloom it does not feel in any way alien, in fact it feels a lot like home.



              I was half bored half elated by Harpoon, while its main story offers nothing new it's the underpinning stories that keep you from slipping off into a deep sleep or worse a coma after repetition takes a firm hold. Despite this I really rather enjoyed the movie, its nice to see the dark side of human nature delivered in such a way that you need to look inside yourself and ask the question "if I were in these circumstances what would I do?" the disturbing matter for me is that placed in the same position I'd probably commit some of the vile acts carried out by the movies "heroes". And full marks go out to the makers of the movie who make you root for the villains not the heroes; the question is who is the strongest to survive?

              The DVD has no special features. The DVD is available both on and offline for around £10.

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              • Take An Easy Ride (DVD) / DVD / 26 Readings / 24 Ratings
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                18.08.2010 21:44
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                A feature that looks at the perils of hitchhiking.

                We don't see them now, but back in the days when I was at school a good chunk of the education I received came in the form of public information films. These little nuggets were shown on both television and in schools and had varying lengths, some were pretty much just commercial length others ran for up to an hour; the top and bottom was always the same "be careful". To mix this up a little lets add the feature Take An Easy Ride, made in 1976 this Kent filmed drama is said to fall into the category of public information, but there's a little more to this story just yet.

                Directed by Kenneth Rowles the story of Take An Easy Ride varies from pretty much every website, magazine, or interview I come across. When I say the story, I'm not talking about the feature itself, but how and why it came to be made; but first things first lets look at the feature first.

                I use feature to describe this "movie" as it has only a 38 minute running time, yet it has quite a lot to get through. The topic is hitchhiking and the dangers of. It sees a variety of scenarios unfold, some are hitching tales that end fine, others are a little more meaty, of the meaty subjects Take An Easy Ride has been compared to the movie Last House On The Left.



                This is pretty harrowing stuff and by far the most sensitive looking movie of the era in respect of sexual content, and there are absolutely heaps of it. While still a lot is left to the imagination there are stabbings, rape and scenes of group sex that really do raise questions about why the feature was made.

                The story of why the movie was made goes along the lines of someone suggesting that Rowles made a public information film on the dangers of hitchhiking. However when the feature was made it was suggested that it would be far too graphic and cutting edge to be a public information film and someone else suggested to Rowles that he added extra scenes to spice it up a bit and sell the movie to the adult audience. Personally I don't buy this at all, I was prepared to prior to watching, but having now seen this I just think that despite the "tacked on" look of some scenes its far too explicit to ever have been considered suitable for public information purposes.

                Take An Easy Ride was frowned upon from all angles and while not being on the BBFC hot list was essentially banned and had not seen the light of day legally from 1976 to 2008. In 2010 it made the jump to DVD in the UK on the Odeon label.



                The feature is like one of the many anthology movies of the era, a series of loosely connected stories that are picked up intermittently, slowly each story is told in full but mixed up a little to show how dramatically the stories contrast between each other, all the scenarios are different but all equally as important. The story that was allegedly tacked on at the last minute is very obvious and by far the most provocative of the scenarios. But a story that was meant to be included from the offset in which we see two girls stripped to their underwear and off-screen raped was so clearly made to titillate not educate.

                Take An Easy Ride is a very hot movie, not in respect of the content, but it was filmed during what appears to be a tremendous heat wave, weather not usually associated with the UK in the 1970's that much is for sure. It also shows how beautiful our country is and how innocent those days were despite the graphic nature of some of the scenes. Above all things it all just looks very nice!

                Is Take An Easy Ride worth a watch? Yes I'd say it is, its one of those things you almost feel you need to say you have seen, its harsh, its exploitative; but it does have a point to make, regardless of how its told. It's dark, seedy, and very, very dirty but if you ever need a tool to stop someone you know from hitchhiking this might just be it.

                On the special features front there are three sex comedy trailers from the 1970's. Also is the pilot for a defunct TV series Go-Girl, and an interview with the director as he discusses "how and why" the feature was made.

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                • The Beast in Space (DVD) / DVD / 21 Readings / 19 Ratings
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                  15.08.2010 14:26
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                  In search of minerals, commander Larry discovers a sex obsessed monster, and a megalomanic computer

                  Seldom does a movie render me so dumbstruck that I cannot for the life of me figure out exactly where to start praising or slating it, but this is where I found myself with the movie Beast In Space; an ordeal so profound it just completely bewilders me.



                  The latest movie to be released on the Shameless DVD label in the UK, the film is shown in the most complete cut available, but it does not make the trauma any less. And trauma truly is the word to describe this sci-fi sex oddity. Yes Beast In Space is a movie that combines science fiction adventure with sex, and a hark back to an earlier movie called The Beast.

                  When space commander Larry (yes I said Space Commander Larry) discovers that a rare mineral (drug... whatever!?!?) has reached the space colonies he is seconded to take a crew to a remote planet; not of course before he has bedded the beautiful Sondra (Sirpa Lane), who later coincidentally turns out to be one of the members of his crew! During the bedding incident Sondra has a dream, hopefully not during the act itself; in which she sees a series of indescribable incidents, of which she of course describes. On a distant planet a giant broken computer ensures the safety of the "mineral" and is aided by an army of Jimmy Saville lookalike androids, and a half man half fawn creature with a giant... Well I'll leave that to your imagination.



                  Beast In Space falls into the "it's so bad it's good" category, in that it is the most hysterical thing I have seen all year, though obviously not intentionally. The story is absolutely ridiculous, the special effects some of the worst I have seen, and the sex is the most prolonged and boring soft-core trash ever put on film. This movie really is the corner of wrong! But above all else it's most surely a movie that bewilders you to the extent that you cannot believe you are watching it.

                  Focusing on the science fiction element the story is in some ways reminiscent of the BBC's popular Blakes 7, it's a typical tale of space piracy and trading that was so often the basis for Blakes 7 adventures, and minus the sex the story could easily be placed as an adventure in the series. The Blakes 7 element follows through to the wobbly sets, and the repeated use of the same sets just decorated slightly differently. But this element drops about an hour in when the aforementioned "Jimmy Saville" androids produce something a lot like a light sabre, yes it's a stab at the Star Wars movies. But these weapons and the operators of them don't even sit in the shadow of the originals.



                  Moving on to the sex, and this is just diabolical the scenes are awkward, and poorly acted to the extent that the characters don't even look as if they are engaged in the act of sex. No scene is more uncomfortable and badly delivered than when the fawn (beast) character gets to have sex in the movie, it really is just silly.

                  All the negativity aside this is definitely something I would watch again, just for the humour of it. In the 1970's and early 80's there was a lot of sex themed movies, and this Italian offering is one of the few that suitable for repeat viewing.

                  On to the Shameless DVD release and I'm a little disappointed, because despite the restoration work the subtitles (the movie is in Italian with English subtitles) seem incredibly rushed, lots of typing errors and misspellings annoy though obviously are not out of place with the movie itself. Humour aside though its very distracting to see words misspelled, and on one occasion far too many letter T's in a word. The yellow text is also hindered by action sequences in which the dialogue comes thick and fast, and with one colour text its difficult to quite understand who is saying what. In respect of features the DVD has a scattering of trailers for other releases, as well as The Beast In Space Trailer. Finally a comparative piece looks at how the censored version compares to the new Shameless cut.

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                  • Scandal (DVD) / DVD / 42 Readings / 39 Ratings
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                    31.07.2010 19:49
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                    Movie dramatisation of 1963's Profumo Affair

                    In the early 1960's the British government was rocked by a scandal. Osteopath doctor Stephen Ward, a man with connections in almost every level of society introduced Soho Cabaret dancer Christine Keeler to two men John Profumo the secretary of state for war and Yevgeny Ivanov a naval attaché for the Russian Navy. Keeler began a relationship with the two men along with a variety of others with her fellow cabaret colleague Mandy Rice Davies. The result of the relationship almost bought the conservative government down, and revealed a shocking side of British society that most normal people never even considered possible.

                    25 years after the events that became known as The Profumo Affair work began on the movie Scandal, which in my opinion is one of the most compelling modern British movies. Not only was the movie controversial, especially in light of the fact that England had just pretty much got over the whole incident; but it was a great success that seemed assured to bring the production company behind the movie great wealth, although in a move as controversial as the movie itself, while the whole affair never bought down the Conservative government, it did mark the beginning of end of the hugely successful Palace Pictures.

                    Scandal bought together a stellar cast Joanne Whalley Kilmer (as Christine Keeler) who had not long prior been involved in the popular British serial Edge Of Darkness and had found a higher level of fame after becoming married to Val Kilmer. John Hurt played Stephen Ward, Ian McKellen (before knighthood) was John Profumo, Leslie Phillips played Lord Astor, and in a contra-deal for some US funding Bridget Fonda took on the role of Mandy Rice Davies. The movie also featured Jean Alexander, Roland Gift, Britt Ekland, Ronald Fraser and Keith Allen. Essentially it was a gathering of some of the finest and most talented actors in the British film scene.

                    Scandal is a fantastically colorful movie that offered the best of humour along with the swift and succinct story telling that at one time made English cinema the envy of the world, and for a period in 1989 it was again. Director Michael Caton-Jones delivered his finest achievement to date, and while clearly the greatest honor should go to scriptwriter Michael Thomas; Jones makes Thomas's words come to life in a way that is mesmerizing.

                    To watch Scandal is a strange treat, for it tells of a murky side of British society that includes orgies and sado-masochistic activity, as well as a depiction of high class prostitutes; yet at the same time feels very innocent as it shows a time in British society that feels so alien to the present day. The movie is coherent throughout and while that might seem like an easy task, the actual story itself is not the most straightforward, Keeler at one point veers off track and ends up falling from the top of the ladder to the bottom, and her trip is not a straightforward one, before escalating back up the same ladder just as the whole scandal becomes public knowledge. Another great achievement is the ability to tell this massive story in an hour and three quarters, and this I feel is where the story truly wins out; so much occurs in the story that there literally is no time for the viewer to become bored or frustrated with the film.

                    The performances are wonderful particularly and somewhat unexpectedly from Bridget Fonda who at the time was a complete unknown other than the fact that she was one in a long like of acting Fonda's. With the odd hiccup she captures the British accent and is one of the most convincing characters of the movie. It's John Hurt however who really steals the show as the kindly but sexually ambivalent doctor, a friend to everyone but very much alone. It is without a doubt one of Hurt's most compelling roles, he really sells the character to you, and if you are going to shed a tear for anyone in the movie it would be Stephen Ward who is lovingly delivered by the actor.

                    Scandal works on so many levels, but most chiefly because it is a tragedy in every sense of the word, a sign of the times in the 60's when free love all around was only available to some, and how one of the best friendships was torn apart because of characters in the public eye. While a lot of the characters earned well off the back of the events it cost them their happiness, and for some it cost their lives. Scandal covers the whole affair from the discovery of Keeler and Rice-Davies to the trials and scandals that shock the nation.

                    I cannot lie and say the movie is 100% accurate as to be honest I do not know it is, and I suspect that the only person that really knows exactly what went on is Christine Keeler herself, who despite work on a few biographical works has been pretty much a recluse since 1987. Each work she becomes involved in (written) reveals a little bit more of the story; suspicion leads you to believe that as people die who were involved in her story a little more about heir secrets is able to come out.

                    As for Palace pictures despite sticking around for several years, Scandal although a raging success opened up a financial chasm for the company, exposing weaknesses that had been previously brushed over. Palace stuck around until the movie The Crying Game which was also a well told and financial success, but by this time no success could support Palace's losses.

                    The current DVD has no special features.

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                    26.07.2010 18:21
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                    A woman on a Caribean Island seduces men only to kill them in the quest for revenge

                    hey say that sex sells, and this is the line that Shameless Screen Entertainment have taken for its second batch of releases. It's been the best part of a year since Shameless have bought us some unadulterated Italian cinema, and now they are back. Last time round they bought us some classic thrillers or Giallo for those in the know, this time round they are focusing all about the sex, with some spicy genre bending titles. The first releases are Satan's Baby Doll and Love Goddess Of The Cannibals, two movies that are available for the first time in the UK, and in versions that have longer prints than other countries.

                    Love Goddess Of The Cannibals is a 1978 offering from notorious director Joe D'Amato whose movies include the highly controversial Porno Holocaust and Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead. D'Amato's output mainly focused on the sex and death category a monopoly that he himself dominated, the director made over 190 movies that centered on either or both categories. Both of the aforementioned titles were more over the top on what I prefer to refer as "knobs and knockers" features, being more like pornographic movies than anything else. And while being amusing in different ways, were both lacking a great deal in anything with real structure, seeing as Love Goddess Of The Cannibals comes from this era I settled down with some hesitation to watch the movie.

                    The movie starts in typical D'Amato fashion straight into the sex, a seduction at the hands of the beautiful Papaya (Melissa Chementi) that leads to a mouthful not easily forgotten, either for the viewer or the unlucky man in question. What follows from this is something a little edgy, and for the first time I got a little excited about a D'Amato movie, although obviously not in a way the director intended.

                    The story circles around an Atomic plant that has caused native inhabitants of a tropical paradise to become evicted from their homes. Papaya is a tool used by the locals for seducing the scientists and developers rendering them too weak to fight off whatever atrocity awaits them. For reporter Sara (Sirpa Lane) and plant employee Vincent (Maurice Poli) an encounter with Papaya leads them down a dark path of sacred ceremonies, voodoo, and death.

                    From a subject matter perspective Love Goddess Of The Cannibals (AKA Caribbean Papaya, Papaya Love Goddess Of The Cannibals) has a little more on the bone than the usual D'Amato feature, there is some clear story telling there, but its bogged down by boring soft porn sex at such an alarming rate it almost eclipses the story aspect. And as a story it's a pretty good one, one that any torture porn director (the likes perhaps of Eli Roth) might embrace with open arms. When the story gets dark, it gets really dark and the movie is certainly full of bloody punches. Sadly at some points however the bloody punches are met by hollow after effects, when a key characters life is ended around an hour in after the "oh my God" aspect their very existence is completely eradicated from the movie, like a nasty editing accident. I'm not a D'Amato fan (or of you prefer Aristide Massaccesi) but this is certainly far better than his usual output.

                    Sadly the characters are all fairly one dimensional, the only character with any clarity played by the late Sirpa Lane (who rather interestingly died of Aids at the end of the 90's) spends much of the movie sleeping with animal, vegetable or mineral for no apparent reason thus unbalancing any actual performance.

                    One thing that is of interest is the title of the movie, it's a little on the deceptive side, anyone looking for a cannibal feast would be sadly upset by a movie that contains one heart eating scene, but otherwise features no cannibal activity at all. A more appropriate title might be Voodoo Love Goddess, but I guess Cannibals out sell Voodoo activity.

                    If you're a fan of Italian cinema this is certainly one of those movies you will need to see in order to mentally complete a collection of classics, but it's a disjointed, and slightly underwhelming entry. I'm certainly glad I saw it, and should I ever take up the directors chair I'd certainly have gained some story inspiration, but based on the fact I don't and won't I'd never watch the film again.

                    The DVD comes with a scattering of Trailers from the original 20 Shameless releases, a trailer for Satan's Baby Doll, as well as some trailers for Love Goddess, and some alternate opening sequences.

                    The DVD is available for around £10 on and offline.

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                    • Whip It (DVD) / DVD / 34 Readings / 31 Ratings
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                      23.07.2010 10:13
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                      Quirky charming romcom, on rollerskates

                      In small town Bodeen, Texas Bliss Cavender (Ellen Paige) is living out her teenage life as an experiment for her mother played by Marcia Gay Harden. An outsider from most, Bliss is forced to attend beauty pageant, after beauty pageant. But in her heart she wants romance, and excitement. Bliss finds both in the little appreciated sport of the Roller Derby. In those nightly sessions under the player name Babe Ruthless, Bliss finds her true meaning, fighting and playing alongside her roller sisters in the worst team in the championship. But at a time when things could not be better a series of events begin to close in on Bliss forcing her to make some of the toughest decisions of her young life.


                      Drew Barrymore's directorial movie debut Whip It is one of the best feel good comedy dramas for a very long time. Whip It has the potential to do for the Roller Derby, what Karate Kid did for martial arts.

                      The story is simplistic, and to be fair fairly unoriginal, but following a time honoured tale of good over evil, and victory and dignified loss. From the opening minutes you can pave out the full movies direction, but this despite what it may seem does not make the movie any less desirable; it still draws you in. Above all things the movie is a tale of morality that poses all the questions and scenarios we all face at some point during our early stages of becoming an adult.

                      It's the performers that really make the piece, from Ellen Paige in fairness playing her usual quirky girl out of place role, to the first decent return to acting for years from the legend that is Juliette Lewis. Its Lewis that stands head and shoulders above the characters not necessarily for her acting, or the character she plays, but for the pure "Where the Hell has she been!" style scenario, and an overall appreciation of how much power she brings to a motion picture simply by just being in it. Barrymore steps from behind the character to play one of the team, and positions herself firmly in the role of screwball eccentric player, never one to let anything go passed. All round funny girl Kristen Wiig also has a strong supporting role.


                      Whip It soundtrack is an exotic mix of pop and indie tracks that dominate the film, from MGMT to more traditional country songs, from the known to the unknown. The blend of music highlights the movies compelling nature.

                      Whip It is a movie that is fairly hard to write about, it contains a certain hollowness that is not necessarily a weakness. Sometimes its those movies that offer the least content that create some of the best memories, and Whip It will achieve an instant cult following in the same way Juno and Nick & Norah's Infinite playlist have in the hearts of teenagers' and twentysomething's across the world.

                      I saw Whip It! On a preview disc that had no special features, so am unable to report on the features I'm afraid!

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                      • Pontypool (DVD) / DVD / 39 Readings / 37 Ratings
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                        22.07.2010 11:11
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                        Interesting zombie horror movie that focuses on thought rather than visual horror

                        Recent arrival to the local radio station Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) has a habit of shaking things up a bit, a once big time DJ on a talk radio channel this small outpost station has secured the employment of Mazzy to help lift its ratings; however his harsh words and political views cause show producer Sydney Briar (Lisa Houle) a great deal of discomfort.

                        On an icy cold day Mazzy starts his show in his usual controversial manner, but before long is disturbed from his train of thought when eye in the sky weather reporter Ken Loney reports a riot at a doctor's office followed by what he describes as an explosion of bodies coming from the building. It's not long before Mazzy, Sydney and Laurel Ann (Georgina Reilly) realise that they are stuck in a radio station while the world outside falls apart, but maybe they have the solution to the outside terror.

                        Pontypool is one of the most unusual horror movies I have seen in a considerable time, it varies from being incredibly good to pretty near awful, and from disturbingly chilling to ridiculously funny at the drop of a hat. It's hard to work out whether this was an intentional change or a budgetary one as the movie was clearly constructed on a very tight budget. But despite the movies failings Pontypool is one of the most effective movies I had seen during the 2009 Frightfest weekend.

                        The horror of the movie is a really clever plot device of the unknown, in the case here our movies three "heroes" are sat in the radio station taking calls from Ken and members of the public as the world as they know it just kilometres away is falling apart. They are not seeing anything, just hearing; listening to terrified voices on the end of the telephone. It's this element of the unknown that gives the movie its biggest chills.

                        It's not the first time such a plot device has been used, and I'm sure it's not the last; but it's certainly one of the cleverest uses I have ever experienced. During the first hour of the movie you have this slow thudding feeling of dread as the movies story builds, and with the odd bit of humour thrown in it's a slow running rollercoaster of emotion that just keeps getting higher and higher. There was a massive portion of time where I believed that Pontypool was possibly the best movie I have seen all year.

                        Like all good things they most end, but for me Pontypool ended an hour after it started as the movie transformed from sheer terror, to downright stupidity. Things went so downhill and so totally random that it was hard to comprehend that this was the movie that just an hour a few minutes earlier had me literally on the end of my seat.

                        It's hard to describe where the stupidity began, but I suspect it was as soon as the horror you had heard about had to transform to become something that you actually see. And maybe had the movie kept on the path of being three characters caught in a terrible situation by the unknown then we might well have been looking at Pontypool as being one of the biggest horror movies of the year, much in the same way low budget shocker The Blair Witch Project took the world by storm.

                        There are some really great bits to the movie aside the horror, the most notable being that having told Pontypool's residents of an impending doom that a group of performers "Lawrence and the Arabians" turn up to sing a song from the Lawrence Of Arabia musical showing at a local theatre; the ultimate in random placing but a nice release for anyone watching who had been disturbed by events just moments before.

                        Pontypool is far from being what I consider to be a right off; it has some very good moments and is as a whole package pretty good indeed. It just failed to live up to earlier expectations and as a result for me, ended in disappointment. This being said, I'd certainly recommend anyone with an interest in horror to see this movie because if nothing else it does provide the best horrific build up I have seen in many, many years!

                        cannot comment on the special features as I saw it at the cinema. The DVD can now be found for around £5

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