Scorecard

FEBRUARY

Robocop ☆☆☆☆☆
Star Trek IV ☆☆☆☆
Star Trek VI ☆☆☆☆
Deep Red ☆☆☆☆
Poltergeist ☆☆☆☆
Tenebrae ☆☆☆☆
Horror Express ☆☆☆☆

Short Film Safari - The Reward


WINTER B-FEST 2015

Part 3 - It came from the 80s



Well it's the last part of this little horror show so we might as well go off the rails completely. Where better to start. Part corporate marketing satire, part The Blob, you just can't get enough of The Stuff. After a mining crew find a mystery substance coming up from the ground and uh decide to taste it... (yeah) a new mystery product appears on the shelves, one that is outselling ice cream even if nobody knows the secret. Well it has no artificial ingredients, they are least being honest about that part. But as it turns out the contents are a little more alive than pro-biotic yoghurt as people start turning into addicts, and later worse than that. The plot is all over the place and the acting varies from bad to acceptable ham levels, as an ex-FBI agent, and an advertising exec race to do something about the popularity of the treat. The effects are fun for what they are in a bloodless but still grotesque feature, but the pacing kills it in the third act when it rushes to a conclusion. That being said it's hardly forgettable like many of these other viewings.

WINTER B-FEST 2015

Part Two: It came from Italy


So... Zombi 2 is not a sequel. They just wanted to market it as a follow up to Dawn of the Dead in Italy where it was titled Zombi. Which still makes me laugh, it's such a cheap move. As far as its video nasty status goes this is by no means as bad as it's reputation when it comes to the violence. You get the usual biting and flesh eating stuff and obviously the infamous splinter in the eye sequence. While certainly hair raising it's hardly realistic looking so I don't see what the problem is. I guess it's just a product of being desensitized in the modern era, but even by the standards of 70s and 80s horror it's not that excessive. The movie itself has a certain amount of atmosphere and like a lot of these Italian horror releases there is a nice electronic score. The slow pacing early on mostly works even of they do have the ridiculous shark vs zombie scene. It offers creepy shock value only, and has zero social commentary. But what you get works unlike some of the other viewings here.

Review Roundup - Dark shadows

THE BABADOOK (2014)

In an interesting take on the psychological horror genre, Jennifer Kent's monster under the bed story certainly offers a lot of food for thought in terms of looking at grief and loss. Though this is billed as a creature feature right down to the black and white poster art mimicking the titular story book at the centre of its plot, it has to be said that those elements are the least interesting ones. While it's true that there are stand out sequences showing the book itself with all its hand made artwork and disturbing pop-up sections, approaching this as a horror film in the usual sense is probably ill advised. There is a lot more going on here and while the idea this being scary is meant to be a focus, it conflicts with the themes at its core that offer more depth. How much of this all works in the way things play out is up for consideration.


WINTER B-FEST 2015

Part One: It came from Outer Space

It's cold out there. The last few weeks of winter seem to last forever and the overcast skies bring a grey and miserable feeling to an already dull post holiday period. Icy showers have been hitting my window for a while now with little signs of respite. So what is to be done, maybe some feel good adventure films and family rated stories about heroic action? Well it is a nice idea. But the only sane choice is to get through a series of films about monsters, aliens and serial killers.


Getting things off to a suitable start we come to Lifeforce. The original story was titled The Space Vampires which explains everything you need to know about this plot. Along with elements from Dracula, it has the feel of a Hammer picture, something from the Quatermass series perhaps with a London setting and a number of British cast members - including a brief appearance from Patrick Stewart. The central duo are US astronaut Steve Railsbeck (Dwayne Barry from the X-Files) who teams up with an SAS Colonel played by Peter Firth. They attempt to stop everyone in London from being turned into grisly emaciated zombies that steal energy from the living, after mysterious human looking creatures are brought back from space mission to a comet. The story plays out with a pretty standard b-movie feeling but does have some fancy visuals courtesy of John Dykstra and a score by Henry Mancini which will seem strangely familiar to X-Men 2 fans. Both feel above what it deserves, but production values elevating the material is something that does happen several times in this little marathon.

Review Roundup - Some assembly required

EARTH TO ECHO (2014)

There's a certain sinking feeling that I get after looking into a film synopsis or hearing about a title through word of mouth, and realising that I didn't pick up on the fact that it's a found footage movie. As a genre I consider it to be pretty superfluous, since it takes away from what might have been some nicely constructed shots and detracts from the overall look of any film most of the time. The gimmick wore out its welcome a long time ago with Cloverfield and lives on through cheap horror features for some reason, I assume because of some misconceived attempt at "realism" or simply as a way to market lower budget films. Strangely it also crops up in stories outside of horror like Chronicle - which I managed to enjoy quite a bit but was constantly reminded of what things could have been without the distracting camcorder footage or the need to think of who is filming what throughout. Like that this is a sci-fi adventure which overcomes the shortfalls of the style and delivers an enjoyable "E.T. lite" story. If only they'd have dropped the gimmicks since there are many elements that work far better.



Scorecard

JANUARY

Ghostbusters ☆☆☆☆
Suspiria ☆☆☆☆
The Fly (1986) ☆☆☆☆
Captain America: The Winter Soldier ☆☆☆☆
Inglourious Basterds ☆☆☆☆
Dragons Forever ☆☆☆☆
Eastern Condors ☆☆☆☆