Monday, 30 April 2012

Martial Arts break

There is no Martial Arts Monday review this week as I am feeling a bit under the weather and cannot be bothered to watch a film tonight.

I imagine it will be back as usual next week, unless I feel worse in which case it won't.


Friday, 27 April 2012

The Undertaker And His Pals (1966)

A macabre comedy that has a lot more gore than I was expecting for a mid-1960s film, The Undertaker And His Pals is a refreshing break from horror that takes itself too seriously.

Two café owners are slaying humans for their meat and their friend, an undertaker, arranges the funerals. There is a private eye who letches over his secretary far more than would be allowable even for then I guess, and the women are happy to let him!

The film weighs in at just over an hour and doesn’t get boring once. Gore filled but a lot of fun.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Haven (2007)

The Haven plays out in the style of The Wonder Years with events seen in retrospect by the main character, however where that show deals with adolescence this film follows a group of boys post-graduation.

I feel this could be a very underrated and under seen movie. I loved the whole thing and found nothing to criticise. Others might find some of the characters to be clichés but to me they were ordinary young people.

I found myself relating to at least one of the characters which is unusual for me, but this film deserves it.

A wonderfully realised film.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Dark Heritage (1989)

A low budget film that looks a lot older than it is, Dark Heritage is supposedly an adaptation of a Lovecraft story.

Some hammy acting aside this is a pretty good effort. Made in an age before CGI the effects and costumes are still reasonably effective for the presumably small amount of money used to achieve them. Good use of light and dark make for a chilling atmosphere throughout.

There are better films out there that deal with the same kind of story but this one is just about good enough to watch. Dark Heritage is one for the collection.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Martial Arts Monday: The Dragon From Shaolin (1978)

A standard revenge storyline has somehow been derived from the footage for The Dragon From Shaolin, set during the Ming Dynasty era. This is one whole film I think, and a very colourful one at that.

The dubbing is suitably comical, complete with Cockney tax collectors and shouting villains, and sound effects are keyboard generated.

It’s quite a fun film with over the top action sequences right from the start, with some weaponry that I haven’t seen before like spinning blade things that fly across the room.

My DVD was blighted by sound synchronisation problems which ruined it for me.

I will need to do some more research and cross referencing but I cannot seem to find a year for this film, mainly because I cannot find a listing under this title with the same plot on IMDb.

UPDATE: The IMDb community have informed me that this film was originally released in 1978. Possibly the film is listed as "Eagle Silver Fox" but this has yet to be confirmed.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Revenge (1974)

Revenge is a film that is exactly what it says on the box, the story of a man who wants vengeance on some crooks who steal his savings at a post office. He also suspects police corruption along the way but this part was unnecessary for me.

Full of action and bloody gun battles this is one of the better Italian action outings I have seen. It never gets boring other that the corruption bits and the English dubbing is not bad.

This almost certainly won’t become my favourite film but I like it. I would definitely watch it again.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Martial Arts Monday: Ninja Dragon (1986)

Another entry into the “cut and shut” style of martial arts movies, but this is a very poor example.

Where this one falls down is that the original film is all about gunfights and the sliced in material is all ninja stuff, they don’t fit together as well as, say, the two segments in Ninja Terminator.

The original film would’ve been fine had it not had the ninja fighting inserted into it, but that is usually the case with these films. Why this was done I don’t really know, to sell it to Western audiences I guess.

Not the best.

Friday, 13 April 2012

The Devil's Nightmare (1971)

What this is doing in a collection of mostly bad horror films I don’t know as The Devil’s Nightmare is a competent enough movie. It looks a little dated by 2012’s standards, but released when there was a lot of cheap, nasty rubbish coming out it would’ve been good to see something with some class.

The story is intriguing, until the end which I thought let it down a bit. Acting, atmosphere, effects and music are all above par. The whole project is well constructed.

A true fan of traditional horror will find this a good addition to their collection.

This marks the end of disc 3 of Pure Horror, still another 9 discs to go.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Blood Sabbath (1972)

What is there to say about Blood Sabbath? It’s cheaply produced, goes on for half an hour longer than it needs to and is an entry level (s)exploitation flick.

Definitely of its time this would’ve been drive-in fodder at best. There is a coven of naked young witches who writhe around to a psychedelic soundtrack and at one point everything goes into a film negative effect just to screw with your head.

The story just about keeps everything held together. There are some interesting characters as well, but they die well before the end.

One for die-hard horror fans only.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Martial Arts Monday: Kickboxer 3 - The Art Of War (1994)

While not strictly a martial arts film this is the closest I have watched this week.

I found this film quite entertaining, with an engaging storyline and relatively believable characters, it was just a shame nobody could act.

It’s a straight-to-video sequel so is very obviously made on the cheap. Most wide shots of Rio look like stock footage and special effects are minimal. However, none of this mattered to me while watching it.

This is the only Kickboxer film I have seen but if they are all of the same quality as this third film then there’s some hope.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Jigsaw (2002)

Jigsaw is one of those no-budget horror films that has plot holes you could sail a cross-channel ferry through. 

Here we have a mannequin that gets burned then comes to life and kills everybody. How and why does it come to life? We have no explanation.

Acting is woeful as is every other aspect of the movie. Jigsaw is as formulaic as slashers get with one survivor at the end but a lack of closure that allows room for an unlikely sequel.

I think I’ll go as far as saying it’s worse than Manos, with no redeeming features at all.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Martial Arts Monday: Ninja Terminator (1985)

More cut and splice filmmaking going on here but this time there is more craziness. Footage of the smoothest (i.e. aviator shades, a sharp suit and witty lines) fighter I’ve seen so far is cut to the Western actors encountering small robots and talking on Garfield telephones. It’s wacky but somehow it works.

Special mention must be made to the music which is part funk and part cacophony of noise with screeches and buzzes for minutes at a time.

The story is hokum but no worse than I’ve come to expect. A very niche film for a very niche market.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Brain Dead (2007)

Not to be confused with Peter Jackson’s BrainDead this horror outing is a cheesy, schlocky, low-budget affair.

The gore effects are outstanding for a micro-budget independent film, and while some of the make-up is a bit ropey we can forgive as the whole thing is so well put together.

There are horror clichés abound but I get the feeling that the writer and director were playing it for laughs anyway. None of it can be, or is meant to be, taken seriously.

An enjoyable zombie flick and an homage to all the old films, a worthy addition to the collection.

Danger Zone (1996)

For an action film Danger Zone has a relatively complex story, characters with ulterior motives, local militia conspiracies and an alcoholic protagonist making this an ambitious film.

Billy Zane is the aforementioned protagonist and he plays it well, considering the average material he is given. However, it is Robert Downey Jr. that steals the show with his outrageously over the top character. Even though he is essentially a neutral-to-bad guy I found myself laughing whenever he was on screen.

Still plenty of guns and explosions but my mind started to wander at around the hour mark. Bearable rather than enjoyable.