FILM OF THE MONTH Finally, Sunday! ☆☆☆☆

Review Roundup - Stone Protectors


To paraphrase Commando... this was the last time. Until next time? Well I'd hardly say no chance since Marvel Studios has however many decades of material lined up, but this really is an ending of sorts. Not to the entire franchise, but a nice satisfying conclusion to just about everything from Iron Man in 2008 up to now. It's also a three hour movie about heroes dealing with loss, heroes having their resolves tested and of course heroes making quips and punching things. It's certainly an action packed bonanza of epic proportions that will leave fans satisfied, but at the same time it's a monolithic film with a lot of shifts in tone and a lot of characters to cover. Like the previous chapter in the story it's one big balancing act, and with a few exceptions it generally succeeds.

Monster Bites - Mysterious Islands


Okay here we go... time for some absurd noise. Not that you can say many releases in this series or the Toho line-up as a whole are particularly sombre. But your mileage may vary here depending on your thoughts about the classic Godzilla franchise and if you think making light of the title character is a big deal or not. For all those fans who want to debate whether the big guy is a father, a mother or just an adoptive parent, there will be others who see this purely as a lurid monster comedy. Some get pretty defensive about it as if they need to defend Godzilla's stoicism, but personally I'm of the mind that this is complete nonsense and should be treated as such.

Monster Bites - The Ominous Star

GORATH (1962)

Time to take a trip into science fiction b-movie madness with yet another Ishiro Honda film. This one might be more along the lines of When Worlds Collide than anything else, but I still have to cover it here. They do manage to sneak in a hilarious arctic creature feature moment during the third act, because why wouldn't they, but this is more of an Earth versus outer space itself kind of story. A story in which they decide that to avoid a rogue planet destroying humankind they have to... move the Earth out of the way. But the tone isn't entirely ludicrous by any means and this is generally a sombre effort that is often concerned with collecting together scientific minds and making noble sacrifices for the good the world.

Monster Bites - New Mutants


For a change of pace (well in terms of approach rather than subject matter) I thought it was time to return to monster mayhem, but also to reappraise a few entries in the Godzilla series. You see these are films that I was pretty lukewarm about initially when viewing them several years prior to this. But they're instalments that fans often bring up when talking about their favourites in the franchise. So I thought what the hell, why not do a double bill of sci-fi nonsense and see if I was more invested than I remember being in the past. To cut a long story short... a good time was had by all.

Review Roundup - Warlords of Atlantis

AQUAMAN (2018)

Time for a superhero movie, just for a change. In this case everyone's least remembered barbarian Jason Momoa as Aquaman, or Arthur to his friends. See this is what I would classify as an exercise in over-indulgence. Not in the dark and grey Man of Steel sense but in a wild and ridiculous adventure sense. It's bloated and messy and often contains way too many neon laser blasting armour costumes, but at the same time this feels like an all or nothing effort with a lot of creative energy. There's also a lot of cheese. It's not a film that I would really call good... but one that I still found myself enjoying for one reason or another.

Review Roundup - Annual Thing


So this late entry to the annual review catchup comes at a stage when I've kind of become tired with keeping tabs of all the newer releases and yet somehow I still feel the need to push forward. Which is kind of appropriate since all of these are sequels, with some starting to feel unwarranted. Some are definitely more tired and embarrassing than others. They're all follow ups to releases that I've enjoyed which fuels a certain level of bias but at the same time it's fair to consider how much they stand alone and work in their own right as entertainment. As someone once said it's not over 'til it's over...



Dog Soldiers ☆☆☆☆
The Private Life of Henry VIII ☆☆☆☆
The Blues Brothers ☆☆☆☆
The Running Man ☆☆☆☆

HCF Review - Strolling Invaders


While a lot of alien invasion stories tend to focus on the conflict between the human race and an unknown species, it’s interesting to see a take on the subject that is really more about the people of Earth. In fact for once the government cover story that appears part way into the film is kind of plausible. There are no flashy visual effects depicting life from another planet, and details on the invaders are pretty scant to say the least. Instead there are a lot of odd characters behaving strangely as a trio of seemingly average people wander the streets of Japan asking a lot of strange questions. What do they want, and how are they messing with the minds of so many passers by?


Review Roundup - Family Matters


I must admit I've tended to stick with old school horror films over the years, as you might have noticed from all the blog posts about Hammer and Tigon amongst other things. Still, I step into the modern world every so often to take a peek... even if the paranormal preoccupations of contemporary cinema is a bit off putting to an old relic like myself. Too many CGI mouths and eyeballs for my taste y'know. Maybe that's why I like Hereditary so much, or why some viewers might find it boring. It's a slow methodical chiller that harkens back to the likes of Don't Look Know and various other essential nightmare fuel experiences. The stuff that's not super scary in the traditional sense but feels weird and disturbing long after the credits roll.

Horror Bites - Hairy Palms


Time for a couple of firsts, combining both Hammer's only take on the Wolf Man genre and actor Oliver Reed's first starring role in a feature film. While Reed went on to make a few other appearances at Bray it's strange that this was the studio's one time foray into the realm of full moons and silver bullets. All the typical period locations and bloody horror moments are present and correct, so it's strange there was never a series of spin-offs like their vampire and mummy films. Even their rivals over at Amicus only touched on the idea a couple of times, so I guess the idea just wasn't a big favourite at the time. Maybe there's a case for this being a more unique bit of '60s monster mayhem, but maybe it's just a shaky release that failed to hit the mark.



FILM OF THE MONTH Strangers on a Train ☆☆☆☆
Casino Royale ☆☆☆☆
Knightriders ☆☆☆☆
Hereditary ☆☆☆☆

Horror Bites - Woman in a Lizard's Skin


I've often considered Plague of the Zombies to be one of my favourite Hammer productions, with it's eerie location and unsettling make-up effects. This on the other hand is one I often overlook on repeat viewings of horror films from this period, despite it being the second part of the intended double bill. With the same rural village, the same Cornish moors and the same big manor house (which still burns down at the end) it's an odd experience, but cost saving efforts like this are nothing new. I'm reminded of Dracula Prince of Darkness and Rasputin The Mad Monk sharing both cast and castles. And like those two I prefer over the other. But in this case is the second feature really a let down or is it just a less imaginative chiller?

Horror Bites - X From Outer Space


While the surge of British horror films from Hammer is generally considered to have started in full blooded colour with The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 this is an earlier example that shows signs of the idea evolving. Or perhaps given the subject matter, mutating. Like the other films featuring eponymous rocket scientist Bernard Quatermass, this is a big screen adaptation of a television serial with a boost in production values to counter the trimmed running time. It's still in black and white, but the shameless title alteration to advertise the 'X rating' of the (admittedly pretty tame) film hints at the ghoulish sensibilities that were to follow.

Horror Bites - Sunglasses at Night


Pre Hays Code horror movies are usually fun in a twisted sort of way and nothing exemplifies this quite as much as the James Whale adaptation of H.G. Wells' story of science gone awry. There's a certain charm to the sort of ghoulish thrills they could include before the censorship guidelines of the day were introduced. Of course they're still the kind of shocks that are within the accepted limits of this period of cinema but the death toll is surprisingly high as Dr. Griffin runs amok, even if there's never any real violence on screen. It's all done with a dark and twisted sense of humour as he rants and raves about revenge and expresses his lust for power, calling people miserable fools every few minutes. There are many classic entries in the original Universal horror series, but this is best one. It may portray a human title character, but he's certainly the most monstrous.

Horror Bites - Ghost Stories

KWAIDAN (1965)

After watching the Yokai film series and spending a lot of time with various science fiction monsters, it's time to look at something a little more unsettling from 1960s Japan. As luck would have it Kwaidan (Kaidan) combines some of my favourite things, horror anthologies and historical epics. This is a luxurious three hour experience that contains four separate chillers of varying styles and comes complete with an intermission. Whether you're into stories about cursed homes haunted by women with long black hair or samurai battle sequences this has something for everyone. But it is at the core a series of tales about ghosts, so it's probably a plus if you're a fan of those.



FILM OF THE MONTH What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? ☆☆☆☆
Fight Club ☆☆☆☆
King of Comedy ☆☆☆☆
Roma ☆☆☆☆
The Lady Vanishes ☆☆☆☆

HCF Review - Re-Enter The Nightmare


In the last decade or so it seemed as though the studio behind the Biohazard series would rather do anything but remake their most popular title. In fact for years it seemed as though they’d rather not make horror games at all. After the original Resident Evil was remade in spectacular style for the Gamecube in 2002 many players assumed the next logical step for the studio would be to continue with the revamp and offer similar definitive editions of the second and third instalments. But was not to be, and despite further entries in the mainline series such as the insect infested prequel Resident Evil Ø and the highly influential reboot Resident Evil 4… all things survival horror dwindled...


Horror Bites - Fashion House of Death


Mystery killers with black gloves seem to appear everywhere in films about murder and mayhem. From the shocking violence of Deep Red to the farcical mysteries of A Shot in the Dark it's recurring motif but tracing the roots of the Giallo body-count mystery genre seems to point to the films of Mario Bava. Here we'll take a look at one of the most striking early examples Blood and Black Lace; aka Six Women for the Murderer. It certainly brings a particular level of Italian style to the proceedings with a garish 1960s colour scheme being mixed with plenty of dark shadows and sinister lighting. So let's put on the leather and get down to business.

HCF Review - Turf Wars


He quit the gangs. They killed his girl. He became… Deadbeat at Dawn. Or so the tag-line for Jim Van Bebber’s blood drenched thriller would have you believe. But this isn’t a straightforward Hollywood revenge storyline, things are a lot weirder and a lot messier. It’s an incredibly filthy piece of work just to look at, and there are also certain visuals that might have been more at home on Arrow’s own American Horror Project. But purely as a gang warfare narrative things are a lot less cohesive both in terms of storytelling and the performances that this all hangs on.




FILM OF THE MONTH Black Christmas ☆☆☆☆
Die Hard ☆☆☆☆
Gremlins ☆☆☆☆
Lethal Weapon ☆☆☆☆
Mission Impossible: Fallout ☆☆☆☆
Paddington 2 ☆☆☆☆
The Blood on Satan's Claw ☆☆☆☆

Review Roundup - Annual Thing


To conclude at least for the time being let's take a look at what offerings have been taken up or produced by Netflix this year. As a quick aside regarding those releases I've missed, The Cloverfield Paradox is a mixed bag that is probably not worth seeing and has been done better elsewhere while The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a mixed bag that is worth checking out and could only have been made by the Joel and Ethan Cohen. There was also Mowgli, which is mostly an awkward repeat of Jon Favreau's Jungle Book until a third act twist when they remembered it was supposed to be darker. It's all over the place and is bound to be confusing or upsetting depending on the viewer. Anyway for the moment I'll call it a day and discuss some horrifying action, some horrifying horror, and some real human drama.