Sunday 27 February 2011

Pig Hunt (2008).

When John (Travis Aaron Wade) takes a bunch of his mates, and his girlfriend (Tina Huang), to an area that was once owned by his dead uncle the weekend looks like being a typical hunting trip/drunken lark. That all changes thanks to friction with some of the locals and the rumoured presence of a legendarily large boar. The fact that almost everyone has a weapon could end up being just as much of a hindrance as an advantage.
Pig Hunt is staggeringly average on almost every level and it’s also so derivative that it often drags throughout it’s 99 minute (approx) runtime. There’s a bit of Deliverance here, a bit of Razorback there and many other films referenced or alluded to in between.
The acting is okay, with the leads barely getting by but a definite highlight being Jason Foster’s presence as one of the local hillbilly boys, but the direction by James Isaac is fairly lifeless and the script (from Zack Anderson and Robert Mailer Anderson) is just a concoction of sleep-inducing bickering and chatter and some ineffectual attempts to build atmosphere and suspense.
Having failed in these areas, and with no stylish visuals to keep the viewer engaged, it’s up to the big boar itself to win audiences over and the movie at least claws back some ground in this department. Saving it’s monster for a big finale, director Isaac admittedly does well by the big beastie. The effects are really good and a mixture of tight camera shots, editing and great sound work really makes the beast come alive as it comes onscreen to kill or be killed.
Essentially, Pig Hunt tries to mix some subgenres into something fresh and interesting but it instead just ends up being a bit of a plodding mess with moments that only serve to remind you of the better movies deserving of your attention. 5/10.


Saturday 26 February 2011

Dogs (1976).

The puns can begin straight away with this one. A complete dog of a movie. We're gonna need a bigger bone. Things get a bit . . . . . . ruff.
I’ll try to control myself now, I apologise but this is the kind of movie that leaves you to make up your own fun while the plot plays out predictably and with a serious lack of any excitement.
It’s all about a sudden spate of attacks by dogs, hence the title. Something (could it be whatever’s being done in that damn lab?) has turned them into vicious killers. Even the ones that look like cuddly Labradors being prodded into action by some offscreen dog wrangler. It’s up to David McCallum to provide the star power and possible solution, George Wyner is the other big brain who believes him when nobody else does and Linda Gray . . . . . . . . . . takes off her glasses and puts them on again in some kind of strange, and strangely alluring, seductive tic.
Dogs is just one of those movies, so prevalent in the 70s, about animals that turn into killers but it could have been a very good one. Instead, it wastes it’s premise by failing to cover up the budgetary shortcomings, throwing in one too many scenes clearly meant to instil terror that clearly instil mild amusement instead and not throwing in lots and lots of gore to compensate for whatever else it’s missing.
McCallum is okay in the lead role but he’s stuck playing the kind of clichĂ©d, dull hero that we’ve seen far too many times in the genre. A maverick, a guy who can stumble onto something major but not get the back-up to find a solution in time to save the lives of the locals around him, he may as well have “rugged, moody, intelligent hero” tattooed on his forehead.
As for the dogs themselves, they don’t really get a chance to shine despite having the title of the movie. There are occasional moments of tension and violence but our canine killers spend most of the time looking like they’d much rather be fetching sticks or chasing rubber balls. Many of the dogs look the part, and are much scarier than (for example) the large rabbits in Night Of The Lepus, but just as many look like they couldn’t bite their way out of Paris Hilton’s handbag.

I actually enjoyed this more than The Breed, a killer dog movie released 30 years after this one, but that’s because there was more that was obviously laughable and it didn’t have Michelle Rodriguez in it. Other viewers may be more discerning and decide to avoid the film completely but fans of the genre, and all it can offer, can at least mine SOME entertainment value from this film. But there are many preferable options.

Friday 25 February 2011

Cradle Of Fear (2001).

A modern spin on the kind of anthology movies that Amicus used to churn out years ago (there's even that old staple tale of the "haunted limb"), Cradle Of Fear puts a modern, goth coat of paint on things and throws in some more gore and nudity but it's quite a traditional piece of work at it's black heart.

The title of the movie is only a few letters removed from the band Cradle Of Filth and it’s their leading man, Dani Filth, who takes the role of the evil figure linking all of the four stories (although more is quickly revealed concerning an evil hypnotist/sadistic killer who seems to be getting revenge on those who helped to get him incarcerated).

The first story is all about a sexy clubber (Emily Booth) who meets up with a mysterious stranger and goes back to his for a night of passion. Things soon turn a bit dark and scary and the next day is one full of freaky imagery and a sense of foreboding as she worries about what has been done to her.
The second story concerns two young women robbing an old men and how that goes horribly wrong.
The third is the “haunted limb” tale already mentioned above. It features a man who wants to regain a full left leg and the woman in his life, played by Eileen Daly, who just wants him to be happy.
And last, but by no means least, we have a tale of internet horror with a young man who stumbles upon, and becomes obsessed by, a site known as The Sick Room. The site allows users to decide just how, where and how violently random victims are attacked while the camera keeps rolling.
Framing things, we have that deadly stranger (Filth) and the story of the cop (Edmund Dehn) determined to put a stop to the evil murderer/hypnotist known as Kemper (David McEwen).

Alex Chandon directs, from his own writing, and while the movie is far from perfect it actually turns into something very good after it’s shaky start. This is helped by the building of tension in the surrounding storyline and the lead-up to the best story of the four featured. It’s also helped by the fact that the movie tends to pace things just right and throws in some violence and/or nudity often enough to keep things constantly entertaining during the two hour runtime. Shallow I may be but the fact that I have a crush on Eileen Daly vastly improved the tale that featured . . . . . . . Eileen Daly and the first story having Emily Booth in it (the UK horror hostess who would make my “Top 5 women I could get a free pass with” list and I’d even get it laminated . . . . if only my fiancĂ© didn’t mind) made the whole thing worthwhile anyway. Both of these lovely ladies being nekkid may seem a bonus for some, I’m far too professional to dwell on such a feat of cinematic greatness.

I digress. The gore on display ranges from the laughably inept to the impressively nasty and the fact that there’s just so damn much of it helps to build an impression of a movie that can just manage to become more than a sum of it’s parts. There’s a loud, heavy metal (for the most part) soundtrack, the acting isn’t the best in the world but most people do enough to get by and the twisted stories may be a touch predictable but I couldn’t help enjoying Cradle Of Fear for the entertainingly nasty work it was. In fact, I enjoyed it quite a lot.


Wednesday 9 February 2011

Tony (2009)

Written and directed by Gerard Johnson, and featuring an absolutely fantastic central turn from Peter Ferdinando, Tony is a disturbing, nasty, darkly comic movie.

Tony is the kind of guy that you can see on a busy high street any weekend in most big cities. A quiet, easy to ignore, man who people rarely take notice of. In fact, nobody would ever realise if the man disappeared. Which explains why he can be such an effective serial killer. But when a local child goes missing from the estate some people finally begin to notice Tony. People that he doesn't really want noticing him.

There's not a lot to cover in a review of this film. Nothing is given an extra flourish and there isn't anything to overwhelm you while you're somehow gripped from beginning to end so why does the movie rate so highly? Playing out like a UK version of Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer (and I am fully aware of how lazy that comparison is, I apologise, but it's still a fair one) with a dollop of humour, Tony is just a little film constantly punching above it's weight and succeeding.

The performances are all pitch perfect. Ferdinando is so good in the central role that I immediately want to see him in future projects worthy of his skills. Elsewhere, we don't really get any well-known names or faces (besides Ricky Grover) but everyone convinces as whoever they are on screen. Absolutely.

The script is pretty good and direction is solid but this movie is sold, and does so well, on the strength of it's performances. Well done to Gerard Johnson for making so many great, early decisions that the film feels as if people just had to turn up and point the camera. Well worth your time though impatient viewers may dislike the slow start.


Thursday 3 February 2011

Devil (2010)

So the devil wants to torture souls and take the worse humans back down to hell, which means staying in a broken elevator with a group and picking them all off one by one. Of course.

Based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan (as part one of the proposed Night Chronicles trilogy detailing supernatural events within a modern day setting), Devil isn't a great movie but it's a slight return to form for the imaginative storyteller.

Having said that, let's not be unfair and forget that this was actually directed by someone else, John Erick Dowdle (who previously handled The Poughkeepsie Tapes and Quarantine), and that the screenplay was developed from Shyamalan's story by Brian Nelson, who previously scripted David Slade's two best movies (to date).

Everyone involved here does a decent job, the cast all play things with serious faces even as things get ever more unbelievable (Chris Messina is a solid lead as the investigating detective and from those stuck in the lift I must mention Geoffrey Arend, who I always enjoy seeing on screen), but it's not too long before the inherent absurdity and minimalism of the central concept begins to undo things.

Inevitably, tension winds down as opposed to up with the decreasing number of suspects who could allegedly be the lord of darkness. It's also a bit of a stretch to see how characters end up linking the, admittedly spooky, events to the legend of the devil coming up to our level to claim people due to get uncomfortably hot in the fiery dwellings down below.

It's not a bad little supernatural thriller but it never really turns into anything great or unmissable. Ironically, as it's also part of the concept, it can never really break free of it's self-imposed confines. Still, I have not been deterred from seeing the next instalments in the series.


What to do, what to do.

I'm at a loss, as I have been so many times before. Flickfeast is down and out for the time being and I have time on my hands and my hands on a keyboard. I also have a head full of frustrations so Facebook isn't really the place to be putting down a lot of tourettes style fuck shit pissing wankers whereas here may very well just let me do that.
What a day, what a day. So many things just popping into my head. How much I miss just being able to pop on to a website that houses all of my movie reviews (do I start placing a number of them here? Is that a good idea? I doubt it, one little blog could never get so much traffic and great work invested by such a good team). How much I miss finding new stuff that I love - sitting around and feeling a bit down this evening I also realised that my tastes are the same ones defined by the time I had reached about 18 years old. My musical tastes - Stones, Beatles, The Doors, Creedence, Nirvana, Led Zep, G 'n' R, etc, my movie tastes - anything horror still remains my preference, my comic tastes - will anyone ever come along to take over where the great Bill Hicks left off?
So it sucks. But what sucks more is knowing that there's more in my head stuck almost 20 years in the past. Fuck me, I still have story ideas gestating that I remember starting to work on when I was a late teen. You'd think that after a wealth of life experiences and misadventures these things would be usurped by newer sensations but nooooooooooooooo. The creative cycle or just immaturity? I will just have to find out whenever the wheels start turning.