Wednesday, 29 February 2012

House (1977)

I first heard about this film on Cinemassacre and thought it looked crazy enough for me to watch. I like strange films where seemingly random things occur. House for the most part did not disappoint.

While not the constant frenetic, surrealist action I was hoping for House has more than enough weird moments to keep me happy. From girls being eaten by a piano to a teacher turning into bananas this is far from conventional.

The plot is a bit ropey but really it’s a showcase for experimental effects. A funky, stereotypically 1970s soundtrack helps keep the pace high.


Monday, 27 February 2012

Exposé (1975)

Exposé was on the infamous “Video Nasty” list back in the 1980s although from the copy I saw it is difficult to see why. However my DVD is the cut version which takes out all but the tamest of violent scenes.

For a cheap British exploitation film Exposé is reasonably well put together. The story is coherent and the lead man’s guilt driven decent into madness is perfectly executed. There are moments when the thing feels a bit slow paced but it was made in slower times.

An average film in general terms but an above par exploitation style thriller.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Zombie Undead (2010)

This British low-budget zombie film is the closest I’ve seen plot wise to Dawn Of The Dead that isn’t a Romero movie, so why is that film so good while Zombie Undead is so bad? I’ll tell you why, nobody in this can act.

Romero’s films also have a sense of humour whereas this plays it straight throughout, to its detriment.

Some of the zombie effects are all right but there is a distinct lack of on screen violence for a modern zombie flick.

There are far better examples of the genre out there; this one is way below par.

More Mill Creek

I have another Mill Creek Entertainment DVD box set on the way, this time Sci-Fi Invasion.

Out of all the obscure films I watch I think I like the sci-fi B-movies the most, just because they are so far fetched that they become comical.

There are a few movies in this set that are double-ups from my other Mill Creek sets but that's to be expected in a way as you get so many at a time, for example Hands Of Steel is in this set and Pure Terror.

Amazon say it will take between 7 and 20 days to arrive from across the pond so plenty of time to build my anticipation.

Immunised Against Mediocrity?

As you can see from the posts below I have been watching a lot of films that many people would consider to be "bad". I have watched this kind of film for many years, probably because I am easily pleased and I don't like to fork out money on newer, well known and often more expensive DVDs.

I have been thinking for a few days now, what if I have now watched so many "bad" films that I am becoming immune to them. With the exception of New Alcatraz and Manos: The Hands Of Fate I have been largely tolerant of the mediocre films I subject myself to. Maybe I need to watch a more mainstream film to remind myself of how movies are meant to be presented. The trouble is I don't own a lot of them and the cinema is a luxury that I do not think is cost effective.

I consider something like Spawn or The Warriors to be mainstream, but are they? They are certainly more well known that what I have been watching but they are probably still niche films mainly for comic book fans. The Shawshank Redemption is generally perceived as one of the greatest films of all time so that might help me put things into perspective but I don't really fancy it right now and I know how it ends. That's one of the problems I have with films sometimes, you can only really watch them once and get the full effect of the story, a problem that was non-existent before home video.

The chances are I will stick to watching the lesser known films, not just to review them on this blog but because I have the fun of a new story with new characters each time I press the play button. Yes, the plots may have all been done before and the characters are a bit one dimensional but perhaps that is part of the fun. I also get a nice surprise if I come across a diamond in the rough.

I would encourage more people to indulge in some cheap and sometimes nasty films, maybe not on the scale that I do, perhaps one in every ten films you watch. You might uncover the next cult classic, or it could be a stinker. At least give them a try I say.

The Expert (1995)

The Expert is a more than acceptable movie. It has a relatively decent storyline (in comparison to other films reviewed here) and while there are a few scenes that are a little pedestrian the action is frequent enough that you don’t lose interest.

Particular praise goes to the original score that makes even the slower paced moments more exciting.

The villain in The Expert is suitably crazy but never becomes a caricature, with the other characters remaining believable throughout.

The ending is fairly predictable but I didn’t go into this looking for a mind-bending experience. Switch off mentally and enjoy.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Firetrap (2001)

After being Superman Dean Cain has carved out a career starring in mostly awful films like Future Sport and New Alcatraz, so I wasn’t expecting anything from Firetrap. It pleasantly surprised me.

From the opening titles to the end credits there is non-stop action, especially when the fire starts raging through an office complex. Yes, there’s obvious CGI for the bigger effects but for the most part the flames are genuine.

Realistic, likeable characters make you care who survives and you’re never quite sure who the real villain is until the reveal.

Firetrap is much better than I was expecting.

Epicenter (2000)

Epicenter is an action movie and a disaster movie, and an espionage movie, and a thriller. Sounds like too many ideas rolled into one and it feels like it too.

There is a lot to be said in praise of Epicenter considering it’s a low budget production, car chases/crashes, well designed sets, inventive props and good use of miniatures and matte paintings. The plot and acting lets the thing down.

As I said before there are too many different elements thrown together. The espionage and action parts would suffice, so why include an earthquake?

A case of trying too hard.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Outcast (1990)

Canadian, no-budget, no-name and straight-to-video, on paper Outcast should be awful and in many ways it is. The lead character is a man of few words, which is lucky as perennial bit-part player John Tench really cannot act.

All other characters are just there to be killed off, which is achieved in an effectively bloody manner. The horror/thriller/supernatural/action story moves along at a good pace until the killing stops, then it starts to drag.

Outcast doesn’t have a lot going for it yet somehow it all fits together. It’s formulaic in its delivery but still an enjoyable, though predictable, movie.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Amazing Transparent Man (1960)

I have seen this one before on the mostly bad satellite channel Showcase. They didn’t put adverts into it which is good for a commercial channel I suppose, although there wouldn’t be much need as the film is less than an hour long anyway.

Due to its short duration the film rockets along but doesn’t feel like it’s leaving the audience behind. The titular man becomes transparent about half way through but the first half doesn’t lumber on.

There are a few things which don’t make much sense but this is a 60s sci-fi thriller so that is standard practice.

This also signifies the end of disc 2 of Pure Terror. Disc 3 is coming soon to my DVD player and as such the following films will be reviewed here at Century Of Obscurity soon;
Hands Of Steel (1986)
The Manster (1962)
Blood Sabbath (1972)
The Devil's Nightmare (1971)

I hope you are looking forward to these, I know I am.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Thirsty Dead (1974)

A cult in the jungles of the Philippines believes that drinking the blood of young Caucasian maidens will lead to immortality, as they have been told by a head in a jar (a la They Saved Hitler’s Brain). Some Western girls are kidnapped and the film follows their escape attempt.

Just an excuse to have semi-attractive women running around with barely any clothes on, this is poor but enjoyable movie. While some of the characters are weak both in terms of plot and performance the story is just strong enough to see you through.

I might watch this one again.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

They Saved Hitler's Brain (1963)

From the days before colour comes They Saved Hitler’s Brain. Now this is a great title and got me hoping for a schlocky sci-fi b-movie. I don’t tend to read other reviews before going into the films I watch so they are always a surprise for me.

Technically they have saved Hitler’s whole head, we see it being carried around in a jar. It can still bark orders and everything.

This is not the film I was hoping for. Really it is just another 60s action flick with corny characters spouting cornier lines with the odd bit of running about.

St Valentine's Day

Usually movie review sites will make some kind of fuss about February 14th being a celebration of all things to do with love and romance and will trot out a review of one or more "romantic" films to mark the occasion. I decided to review crime thriller DeadFall.

There are probably four main reasons why I haven't followed suit and gone down the "luvvie" route.

  1. I don't like romantic films, so
  2. I don't own any romantic films on DVD.
  3. All romantic comedies are hyped so much that they will never really be obscure.
  4. I don't particularly subscribe to the Valentine's Day notion.
There are possibly more reasons but I can't think of them right now.

You can probably rest assured that this site will almost certainly never review a romantic comedy film, unless I happen to stumble across one in one of my box sets of films I've never heard of. If I do I can only apologise in advance.

DeadFall (1993)

A 90s noir style thriller with so many double crosses that I started to lose track of who was working for who, and a half decent twist at the end. All held together by some believable characters but it is Nicholas Cage (doing a favour for his director brother) that steals the show, in a bad way.

Cage’s acting is so over the top for a supporting role that everything else gets ignored, but Cage has made a career out of such performances.

Similar to Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects but vastly inferior to both, DeadFall is still enjoyable.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

New Alcatraz (2001)

Also known as Boa this would be a much more appropriate title. The DVD box mentions nothing about a giant, prehistoric snake on the loose, it just tells us about the location.

Anyway, prison on Antarctica, excavation work releases snake from hollow rock, snake eats almost everyone, palaeontologist couple escape. The story there summed up in a sentence, if only the film was over this quickly.

Obvious CGI snake, explosions and aeroplane aside this is awful. One woman has the worst Irish accent in film history but she is the least of your worries.

I cannot recommend this to anybody.

The Werewolf Of Washington (1973)

A pre-Quantum Leap Dean Stockwell stars as the title character in this film that struggles to decide if it’s a horror, a comedy or a political satire. It tries to do all three but doesn’t really succeed at any.

The main story has Stockwell trying to hide from people, then convince the same people that he’s a werewolf. However he’s a press officer for the President so is in the public eye.

There are some humorous moments but the body count is low. The ending has the typical for the time hysterical woman and a small twist during the credits.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Dungeon Of Harrow (1962)

Two men are shipwrecked on an island inhabited by an insane Count who keeps his leper wife in his castle’s dungeon, along with his staff. The Captain of the ship if captured by the Count and tortured while the other man tries to escape.

Very slow paced with dialogue drearily delivered by characters who appear apathetic to the situation they find themselves in. Even the insane Count (I usually find insanity fascinating on film) is a tiresome man.

All the inherently “bad” characters die and the main protagonist gets the girl.

Not an awful film, just a predictably boring one.

This is also the end of disc 1 of Pure Terror. I will move on to disc 2 soon. This will show me the delights of; The Werewolf Of Washington (1973), They Saved Hitler's Brain (1963), The Thirsty Dead (1974) and The Amazing Transparent Man (1960). I have seen the last of these films before on satellite television.

I must say I am looking forward to these.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Horror Rises From The Tomb (1973)

The late Paul Naschy stars as three related characters in this Spanish production that has been dubbed into English.

We begin by seeing Naschy’s 15th Century character beheaded for being a warlock before cutting to the present day. A group of friends go to the current Naschy’s estate and dabble in some clairvoyance. Then all hell breaks loose.

I think I have seen a sanitised television version of the film as there is not much on screen violence and the sexual overtones have been removed.

Spain has never been renowned for brilliant film-making and this does nothing to address that.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Double Exposure (1983)

This isn’t bad. It’s far from being good but it isn’t bad. A photographer who has dreams that he is murdering his models, then the models turn up dead in the way his dream portrayed. He goes to a psychiatrist and convinces himself that he is the killer, but this is a thriller of sorts so there is a twist at the end.

Really it’s just a vehicle to get a few nudie shots and some bloody kills but it’s relatively well executed.

When you watch a lot of bad films mediocre ones stand out, this is one mediocre movie. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Tortured (2010)

This has been lumped in with Hostel and the Saw films as a “torture porn” film because of its torture scenes. While I agree that there are similarities I don’t think it is of the same calibre. I like the Saw films but didn’t like Hostel one bit. I think Saw has a better storyline.

The Tortured falls into the same category as Hostel for me. The torture scenes served no real purpose than to shock/thrill the viewer.

While the effects are good and the ending has a good twist you can’t empathise with anybody.

It is style over substance.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Cold Eyes Of Fear (1971)

Forget the poorly dubbed English accents for a minute, and the absurd moment when a cat almost causes an explosion in a courthouse, because Cold Eyes Of Fear is a remarkably well crafted thriller.

From the opening scene to the last there is tension in abundance as the mostly believable plot thickens and the wide variety of characters reveal their true intensions. The pacing is spot on and we see just enough backstory to flesh out the characters without spoiling the ending.

A fine example of the “giallo” genre but is destined to remain in relative obscurity.

One to watch.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Zombie Transfusion (2007)

Cheap, low quality equipment has led to a vast increase in cheap, low quality horror films. Zombie Transfusion is one such example. While the gore effects are a saving grace the picture quality is unacceptably choppy for a movie made in 2007.

Talking of the gore there is one nasty scene where a zombie rips a baby out of a woman’s stomach, except you can’t tell visually until she screams “My Baby”. It looks more like a kidney.

It’s an indie horror so ropey characters, story and everything else are to be expected.

Only watch if you’re a zombie completionist.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Mandrake (2010)

Mandrake is the story of an archaeological expedition going wrong when the removal of an artefact awakens a monster, the monster in this case being a sort of plant like creature that can move at speed and kill with its roots and branches.

A film like this depends entirely on its effects to sell the story and here they are reasonably effective. While the monster itself is quite obviously CGI the aftermath of an attack looks like physical blood.

The box says “A SyFy Premier Movie” which makes this a made-for-tv affair and nothing is too experimental, but it works.

The Man Next Door (1997)

The Man Next Door is pretty standard mid-90s made-for-tv fare in the way it is presented, plenty of stock music. Although it has a 15 certificate on the DVD box it could quite easily be a PG if it were reclassified today. It’s a tame thriller by 2012 standards with no profanities, nudity or visible violence.

There is some bloodshed but all the action is off-screen.

The story is tried and tested but is delivered quite well. Characters are all fairly believable and the situation isn’t so far-fetched that you lose interest.

An acceptable offering but more a collection bulker.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Expect No Mercy (1995)

All brawn, no brains and a few wise cracks from budget DVD mainstay Billy Blanks in this futuristic action spectacular. In this one Billy has to face opponents in Virtual Reality as well as the real world to stop the creator of the technology doing something terrible.

There is a lot of action and some epic (i.e. long and drawn out) fight scenes and the pace doesn’t slow down for a minute.

The story is ridiculous, as are the characters but this is still an enjoyable distraction for almost bang on 90 minutes.

Get it cheap though, bargain basement cheap.

Mill Creek Entertainment box sets

Today I received in the post my order for the Chilling 20 movie DVD pack released by Mill Creek Entertainment. While some of the titles included in this set are fairly well known (Night of the Living Dead, Little Shop of Horrors, House on Haunted Hill) you do get a lot of public domain/obscure titles.

This is the third Mill Creek box set I have in my DVD collection, as well as Savage Cinema (a collection of 12 biker/gang movies) and Pure Terror (50 horror films spread over 12 discs). There are plenty more available, although some films are duplicated over the collections. I intend to get myself a few more over the course of time, but at the moment I have more than enough to be getting on with.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Underground (1997)

Now this is what I call an action film. Car crashes, explosions, gun fights, the works. There’s some ineffective cops, over the top criminals and the standard main police pairing of a cynical old veteran with a cocky new recruit. How this isn’t on more people’s radars I don’t know.

There’s an unnecessary scene at the beginning where we see a rapper perform a full song before the action begins and there’s some romance stuff but mostly it’s full throttle all the way.

If you’re looking to kill an hour and a half there are worse ways to do it.

Tenth Of A Second (1987)

Set and filmed in Apartheid era South Africa, Tenth Of A Second is an ambitious movie that falls somewhat short of its lofty vision.

The story deals with anti-Apartheid activists who have planned an act of terrorism that gets botched, the trouble with this story is you’re never sure if you should be supporting the main character or not.

There are also technical errors like a corridor being shown for 20 seconds before a man walks down it.

The ending is bleak, but then the whole thing isn’t particularly fun. I found myself nodding off, I’m sure you will too.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

New aquisitions

New films added to my collection;

36 Deadly Styles
Black Eagle
DeadFall (double sided DVD with Scissors, which I have already seen)
Extreme Dragon
Hard Ca$h
Iron Maze
No Code Of Conduct
Rage - Ring Of Fire II
Red Surf
Revenge (although I think the film may actually be called Vigilante II)
Summer City.

How long it will take me to get to any of these I'm not sure, but Revenge might be made a priority.