Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Enemy Within (1994)

The Enemy Within is a taut political thriller with a good few medium sized names from both big and small screens. It concerns a plot by the military chiefs of staff to overthrow the President and how one lone Colonel attempts to find evidence to stop them.

The movie is included in a 4 movie DVD “Action Pack” but feels a bit out of place; as although there are shots fired you would hardly call it an action film.

It all gets rather tense, especially after the Russians get involved and it’s a high quality piece for a made-for-television film.

A Letter From Death Row (1998)

Is this the story of a man going crazy? Or does he know exactly what he’s doing and is trying to make the audience go crazy? Either way it ends up creating confusion as the film progresses.

The problem is that there is too much waffling about with unnecessarily rough prison guards, and superfluous characters. I get what is going on with the cuts to Michael speaking from his script but we see too much of it.

There are just so many plot twists that I didn’t want to bother keeping up with it, but it’s one off the pile.

'Breaker' Morant (1980)

Australian film set in South Africa during the Boer War based on the play of the same name. Three soldiers face court martial for war crimes and the story is played out in the military courtroom, with cutaways to the actions described occurring.

An interesting “true story” that is told well with great characterisation and pacing. Scenery is on an epic scale with a refreshing lack of background music. I don’t think there is very much I can find fault with.

Edward Woodward plays the lead role with sympathy and grace, as does everybody else. Should be more widely known.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Crucible Of Horror (1970)

I'm not quite sure what just happened. I thought I was watching a film where for the first 45 minutes a father rules his household with an iron fist before being killed by his wife and daughter. Next followed a few scenes where they were both wracked with guilt and plagued by visions of their dead family member. Then he was up and about again.

Quite suspenseful for such a low budget film which tries to impart a Hitchcockian feel to proceedings and doesn’t fall too far short.

One to watch if you like things a little bit confusing.

Manos: The Hands Of Fate (1966)

This one is a little bit better known, and it is known as one of the worst movies ever made. Even knowing this I thought I should watch it so I know what all the negative fuss is about.

As a true fan of cinema you have to take the bad with the good, and all the bad films in the world make you appreciate the good ones even more.

Bad story, bad acting, bad sound and bad camera work but a menacing soundtrack, suffice to say it is as bad as they say it is, avoid at all costs.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Nightmaster (1987)

Australian action films don’t get much attention over here unless Mel Gibson is in them, so this mainly good picture is pretty obscure. It is set in the “future” but the only clues to this are the laptop computers in a school classroom and an early idea for DVD.

However, we know it is 1980s due to the music by a wannabe Billy Idol.

The story is a bit hokum but is delivered well and you are never quite sure where it is all leading, making it more an action-thriller.

Not too much dialogue keeps the pacing just about right.

Master With Cracked Fingers (1971)

Jackie Chan plays Jackie Chan (although not playing himself) in this Hong Kong dubbed film that has a bit of something for everybody. It follows Jackie as he learns the ways of the martial arts from a child (do we need to see him naked here?) through to adulthood. Eventually he has to avenge the death of his father.

There are some comedy scenes as everybody connected to the Landlord character is playing it for laughs. The fights are generally well choreographed.

I’m not sure where the cracked fingers in the title are as nobody seems to have physical impairments.

The Undead (2008)

The Undead plays out a lot like the aforementioned 48 Weeks Later, with rival gangs needing to come together to escape hordes of zombies. However, while still not being amazing The Undead is a much better executed movie.

While obviously made on a shoestring budget nothing feels cheaply created. The makers have clearly seen their financial limitations and not been overly ambitious which I feel makes for a better film. All the effects are physical rather than relying on CGI.

There are unnecessary romantic sub-plots and the film is still essentially awful, just not as bad as 48 Weeks Later. 

Friday, 27 January 2012

The Blackout (2009)

The Blackout is a film that every part of me wants to hate, but somehow I don’t. The story is standard “there’s a monster, run” fare, and you already know how it is likely to end after five minutes. I have a few gripes with it so let’s deal with those.

The actors are all terribly wooden, but that is a given for inexperienced “talent”. My major problem is with the CGI, I’m of the thought that CGI should be realistic or don’t bother with it. There are some good physical effects, why all the CGI?

Still worth watching though.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Scared To Death (1981)

I did it all in the wrong order, I saw the “sequel” Syngenor before Scared to Death. On the strength of the original I wouldn’t have seen the second though, even though it has only very minor similarities.

A SYNthesised GENetic ORganism has become loose and is killing everyone to feed on their spinal fluid. That’s the story folks.

Cue lots of dimly lit, shaky camera moments in an attempt to make the man in the rubber suit that little bit more scary. Sound is far too quiet as well, but it is worth one viewing for the cheese factor.

Guru, The Mad Monk (1970)

A frenetic first 20 minutes filled with bad acting by Paul Lieber as Carl and cheesy acting by everyone else sets up a pacing that cannot be sustained, even for the short running time of 56 minutes.

Set somewhere in middle ages Europe this is a tale of a deranged monk, a wrongfully accused young maiden, a hunchback, a Satanist (I think) and Carl who links them all together.

The film is cheaply made, as you can see by the effects when hands are being severed. However, it is strangely watchable. Possibly one of those “so bad it’s good” movies.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Tooth & Nail (2007)

Tooth & Nail has delusions of grandeur. It wants to be a commentary on what may occur if oil supplies dry up and portrays this as an apocalyptic disaster which leaves humanity on the brink of extinction. What we see is a battle between two factions for survival.

This could have been a great film if the makers had put a bit more than six weeks effort into it. What could have been a rival to films like 28 Days Later quickly turns into a run of the mill slasher/survival film.

Not awful but could have been so much better.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Shadows Run Black (1986)

Early outing for Kevin Costner in this mid-80s slasher, although the funk soundtrack would have you believe it’s earlier than that.

A slasher by numbers but not particularly gory, the lack of blood is made up for by every young woman taking their clothes off at some stage. It’s a tried and tested formula guaranteed to get the teenage boys into the cinema.

If there wasn’t the nudity this would now be reclassified as a 15, but even a 10 year old could see the plot twist coming. Some unnecessary racism in it keeps the rating at 18.

Very average.

48 Weeks Later (2006)

This is not anything to do with the 28 Days Later films, but a shameless cash in / confusion causer. Originally called Last Rites and more appropriately Gangs of the Dead, this film is quite high on production values but doesn’t deliver.

The gore effects are excellent for a low budget movie, some of the CGI stuff is a bit lacking, e.g. cars exploding but the sound levels are woefully poor.

There are too many characters for you to concentrate on them all, and they are all villains.

The story is weak, with a bleak ending. Not quite good enough.

Final Assignment (1980)

Final Assignment is a Canadian film that is set in the former Soviet Union. An espionage thriller in the very loosest sense the movie is full of dodgy accents, slow paced storytelling and one of the most minimalistic musical soundtracks I have ever heard.

The copy of the film I saw seemed to fade to black in mid-sentence, and also silenced any slight profanities, both in an attempt to get it shown on family television.

Add to this bad acting from the lead female and you end up with a below-par film that James Bond would eject all day long.

Aims & Inspirations

I have decided to start this blog following a jokey comment from one of my co-workers. They observed that I buy a lot of obscure, usually bad, movies on DVD and that maybe I should start reviewing them on Twitter or something. Me being me I have taken this a step further and decided to do a fully fledged blog on the subject.

I liked the idea of being limited in the length of each review as it adds a bit of spice and challenge to it for me, but felt that just over 100 characters is too limiting. I have also committed myself to not have a Twitter account.

Some of the movies I review may be well known to a few people or known by hardly anybody, all I know is that nobody I know has seen them.

The movies I choose to review will be entirely chosen by myself, and regardless of how popular or not this becomes I will refrain from doing "requests". This is mainly because I have a full time job to hold down and also I need to be able to get hold of the films for a cut down price! All comments will be moderated to try to keep any discussion relatively on topic and to curtail any spam.

I hope all who read this blog find it mildly entertaining.