Review Roundup - Deep Red

CRIMSON PEAK (2015)

Guillermo del Toro returns to his roots in a fashion, with a ghost story which is pretty far from the overblown schlock of Pacific Rim and Hellboy. Despite those features being intricately made and moderately entertaining, his body of work has always been stronger when it's without the action blockbuster mentality of his English language films. So with it was with a little trepidation I ventured into the grounds of Allerdale Hall, a none-more sinister household built with some rather unwelcoming architecture. The structure stands on a clay mine but this is like no terracotta I've ever seen, a seeping blood-red coloured earth with invades the building's plumbing and sometimes drips from the walls. Things are not made any more amicable by it's owners, the Sharpe siblings Thomas (Tom Hiddlestone) and Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Fortunately these cold faces and Gothic features frame a much far more interesting piece of work than I anticipated, one that is as far from clunky quips and monster smack downs as you can imagine.

Review Roundup - Oh James

SPECTRE (2015)

What happened with this franchise? Back when Casino Royale hit the screens it all seemed to be back on the right track. For a series that is always becoming very dated as more time passes, it delivered. Stunts, music, drama, character development - everything was of a much higher standard than what could have been expected after the series took a nose dive with Die Another Day. But since that opening the subsequent films have felt like a waste of time, in spite of Skyfall improving things a little over the misguided Bourne wannabe Quantum of Solace. With Sam Mendes staying on to direct a follow up I wasn't too concerned initially, after all he'd brought some elements that had worked. But it seems as though the critical success of his first outing and the fact he's such a fan have combined to form what is one of the weakest 007 adventures in quite some time. Maybe a lack of pressure allowed things to get out of hand? However the reality is probably more complicated, in a film which is mired in it's own self aware nature, tangled in a poorly thought out script full of tone deaf social commentary and awkward plot twists.


Horror Bites - Silver Shamrock


It's time! If you've seen Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the commercial theme tune is probably starting to surface in your brain just skimming this one. A cold sweat is probably coming over you realising it won't go away for days now. Sorry, not sorry. Looking at a couple of Tom Atkins releases here we'll also be covering Maniac Cop, but for now it's all about masks and secret Stonehenge plots that make about as much sense as the title of the movie.

Review Roundup - Life on Mars

THE MARTIAN (2015) 

Ridley Scott isn't exactly a director I associate with humour. The most memorable moments of levity in his past work is probably courtesy of Oliver Reed in Gladiator, who played a character with a certain kind of charisma and got all the driest dialogue bites. Many of Scott's films have a cold and distant feeling where characters lack humanity, and it's not just those with androids in the cast. So it's an interesting change of pace when this story about a mission to Mars gone wrong as plenty of humour. It's full of sarcasm and is sprinkled with little moments that allow for a joke or a pithy remark. Its also got a licensed soundtrack coupled with the work of Harry-Gregson Williams that means ABBA and other 70s tunes are used, which adds to this atmosphere. But this is a story about facing possible death alone on a desolate planet, stranded with a small chance of survival. Like the makeshift equipment employed by Matt Damon's astronaut, there are a few structural weaknesses to be found.


Horror Bites - Don't Say The Z Word


Last month's marathon was a fairly satisfying length, but there are always a few that manage to slip past due to time or other factors. Besides, a quick jaunt into the vaults of Italian horror is hardly something I need an excuse for these days. We've got some zombies lined up, but first off we have a story about alien visitors with Luigi Cozzi's 1980 Alien rip-off Contamination.

Scorecard

JANUARY


FILM OF THE MONTH: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya ☆☆☆☆
Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind ☆☆☆☆
El Cid ☆☆☆☆
Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade ☆☆☆☆
Theatre of Blood ☆☆☆☆
Zatoichi ☆☆☆☆
The Empire Strikes Back ☆☆☆☆
Misery ☆☆☆☆