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  #59611  
Old 3rd December 2022, 10:25 PM
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Default Decemberdike # 2

Tales from the Crypt (1972)

What better way to begin the weekend (Friday night) than with Tales From the Crypt.

Sir Ralph Richardson plays the crypt keeper who traps five individuals in his crypt and tells them a narrative that foreshadows his or her destiny.

There's Ian Hendry who can't grasp that he's dead, Peter Cushing as old Grimsdyke who returns from the grave to seek out his sadistic neighbours in what is a really sad tale, Richard Greene and his variation on The Monkey's Paw and Patrick Magee as a blind man victimised by those who allegedly look after him and the murderous Joan Collins who offs her husband on Christmas Eve before falling victim to a psycho Santa which is my personal pick of the bunch and the reason i love watching the film over the Christmas period.

The famous comic book panels produced by E.C. Comics have been faithfully recreated and there are several moments which make me shudder. In particular Nigel Patrick and the tight corridor of razor blades. Thanks to Milton Subotsky's script and Freddie Francis' direction this comes across as a fun filled, occasionally creepy film and probably the best of Amicus portmanteau horror films. In fact for me it's the only one in which every story is a 7+ out of ten.

Of course i've seen this before but not on Blu-ray. I'm delighted to say it looks a damn sight better than Vault of Horror does from the same Final Cut Blu-ray double bill.
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  #59612  
Old 4th December 2022, 11:06 AM
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Saint Maud (2019)

Unsettling and ambiguous are two words that describe director Rose Glass' debut feature Saint Maud.

It's a psychological slow burner that tells the story of a young woman, Maud (Morfydd Clark) who gives up on her former promiscuous life, finds God and becomes a palliative care nurse. When she is assigned to look after a former dancer from the US (Jennifer Ehle) she sees something of her old self in her and vows to save her soul before she dies.

I know this probably doesn't sound like the most enthralling idea for a horror film but under the assured direction of Glass and a superb performance from Clark it's utterly gripping. Saint Maud is probably a religious tale of redemption and extreme Catholic beliefs instead of a straight forward middle of the road horror film and it's all the better for it.

Clark brings a sense of joy as well as sheer despair to her role and the more unstable she becomes the more engrossing her performance is as she goes from softly spoken nurse to obsessed fanatic as her mental health disintegrates into disturbing spiritual ecstasy.

Saint Maud is no feel good film. It's gloomy as hell and it's Scarborough setting of creaking apartments and the even more hellish sea front amusement arcades brings so much to the desperation of the film, much like Hastings did in the equally excellent Byzantium (2012).

The languid pacing of the film makes the shocks when they come even harder to watch. The sex on show is degrading rather than erotic whilst the horror and violence bring real gut punches. I'd love to mention the 'F*ck Me!' final scene but won't. Spoilers are not fun for those like me who hadn't seen this before.

Although fairly straightforward in it's narrative there's a real ambiguity about Maud and what happens and has happened to her. Her former life is hinted at but we never see it whilst her new religious zest for living is more than likely simply in her head as is the possible possession of Ehle's dancer.

Come the end of my regular Christmas new to me horror marathon there's a good chance Saint Maud will be the best film i watch, perhaps not the most entertaining or fun but probably the best.

Watched via the Studio Canal dvd which looked good despite the Scarborough gloom.
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  #59613  
Old 4th December 2022, 01:49 PM
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Default Brainsmasher... A Love Story

BRAINSMASHER... A LOVE STORY (1993)


Albert Pyun's bizarre romantic comedy feels like the weird step-sibling of Big Trouble in Little China and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai. It's not as good as those classics, but like them, it blends mismatched genres together whilst throwing caution to the wind.

Andrew Dice Clay plays a bouncer with the nickname of Brainsmasher (guess why) who finds himself on the run from a secret Shaolin cult ("WE ARE NOT NINJAS!") when he helps supermodel Samantha Crain (Teri Hatcher). Crain has a rare lotus flower from her sister hidden, and the cult will break every door and window to find it, but they'll need to get through Brainsmasher first.

The make-or-break factor of Brainsmasher is in how it references its own lack of cohesion. It smashes more fourth walls than brains. Normally, I despise this convention, as it's used far too frequently by filmmakers too lazy to make a proper film that immerses the viewer. But Pyun's approach is a little different. Rather than constantly address the audience, it lets the scenes play out, and only later bring up how ridiculous it all was. A scene where the Diceman is arguing with somebody on the payphone has him hang up, only for the phone to ring. He answers, and it is his mother. A row erupts where Diceman is chastisted for not having a proper job or a girlfriend. Only after a minute of pleading for peace, does he ask how the hell did she know to call this phone.

And that's a lot of the humour here. It's not as crude as the Diceman's routines, but rather, adopts a playful, parodic tone. It helps that the comedy is delivered with confidence and gusto by a game cast. Diceman is great (I must admit, I am a fan of him). Teri Hatcher displays fantastic comic timing, and Yuji Okumoto is having a ball as the increasingly exasperated cult leader. Even Tim Thomerson and Brion James are here for the ride, playing hard-boiled detectives that walked out of the 1950s.

But what surprises the most, is how underneath all of the genre-blending and post-modernism, is a sweet love story. The title didn't lie. Crain is frequently condescended to, and preyed on by sleazeballs. But with Brainsmasher, she meets a man who, despite his abrasive humour, never mocks her, and makes salicious comments about her looks. Even though he's protecting her, he never uses it to cop a feel, nor does he show any intention of making moves on her. I know this reads obvious, but it's remarkable how many romantic films forget this - preferring to make one partner (usually the female) dependable on the other. Instead, Pyun gives us two characters who clearly enjoy being in each other's company, and then don't want to be separate from each other.

I had a good time with Brainsmasher. Obviously, the humour will not be for everybody. The editing is a bit rough (it's rated PG-13, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was cut down from an R rating). But the gentle romance, the acting, and Pyun's typically stylish visuals (which includes a jaw-dropping shot of a camera pulling back from a fight, descending to an arriving cop car, and following the cops back inside) make this an essential Pyun film.
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  #59614  
Old 4th December 2022, 08:19 PM
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Knocking (2021, Frida Kempff)

Swedish caper. A woman returns to society after a traumatic event. Settling in to her new abode, she begins to hear noise from upstairs. Investigation proving fruitless, she delves further, using morse code as her guide.
Some of this is very well done but it doesn't amount to much in the end. Wait for the inevitable remake with Naomi Watts
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Last edited by Demoncrat; 5th December 2022 at 08:50 AM.
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  #59615  
Old 5th December 2022, 12:33 PM
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Default Decemberdike # 4

La Llorona (1933)

Translated as The Crying Woman and based on the Hispanic legend of a vengeful ghost who is said to roam waterfront areas mourning her children whom she drowned. La Llorona is to be congratulated as the first Mexican horror film with sound and i'd been looking forward to seeing it sine Indicator released it earlier this year.

In truth i was a little disappointed with it. It's not a long film, running only 70 minutes, but a good ten minutes of the time was taken up with a children's party and then a wedding. The party kicked in after the first couple of minutes so immediately takes you out of an interesting prologue where a man is killed on the street by what appears to be a wailing woman spirit. Whilst the wedding takes place approximately half way through and again removes any interest that may have built up as do the lengthy flashbacks meaning the bulk of the film is boring melodrama.

The film does have some plus points. The ghost is impressive, be it leaving bodies or briefly flying around whilst the idea of La Llorona kidnapping children and sacrificing them at an altar is impressively macabre. As is the black robed figure stalking the streets as well as the pleasingly Gothic sets and shadowy photography.

More on the lines of The Vampire Bat (1933) than any classic Universal monsters film, come January i'll give this another watch along with the Stephen Jones / Kim Newman commentary track and see what i think of it then.

Last edited by Demdike@Cult Labs; 5th December 2022 at 12:47 PM.
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  #59616  
Old 5th December 2022, 12:57 PM
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Default Cyborg

CYBORG (1989)



In the post-apocalypse, a deadly plague has decimated the world's population. A cyborg that holds the cure in her head is kidnapped by a psychotic cult. A former mercenary (Jean Claude Van Damme) chases after them, not just to rescue the cyborg, but to claim vengeance.

Cyborg is a decent apocalyptic action flick that is arguably more interesting for its behind-the-scenes. Cannon, so sure of the success of Masters of the Universe, immediately set up pre-production for the sequel. It flopped, and Cannon were left with a bunch of unfinished sets. Rather than let it go to waste, Albert Pyun concocted a story that could recycle what had been built.

It sounds like Cannon should be grateful, but what Pyun pitched scared them - a black-and-white rock opera that wouldn't have any dialogue. Cannon immediately rejected the lack of colour, and demanded some dialogue to help detail exposition. They would let Pyun keep his rock soundtrack. At least, for a while.

A workprint was test-screened to a very negative reaction. Audiences were bored with the relative lack of dialogue. The soundtrack had not been included yet, so the wild screaming during the climatic fight inspired laughter and ridicule. Van Damme, worried this would damage his career, offered to recut the film for free. Cannon agreed, and demanded some reshoots to allow for a new story (Pyun's original cut made no reference to a deadly plague). A new score was to be commissioned as well. Pyun, being a f*cking legend, used these reshoots to sneakily make a whole new film at Cannon's expense (Deceit). And after that, the film had to be re-edited many times to secure an R rating (it was initially rated X for violence alone).

But what of the film itself?

It's fine. The editing is a little rough, but it moves at a pace so relentless that it's hard to care. It's a handsome looking film too. Pyun made $500,000 look like $5 million. Some clever foreground placement makes many of the matte paintings strikingly effective. Even the music is alright, if a far cry from Pyun's original goal.

The acting is alright too. Van Damme is still inexperienced as an actor, but his awkwardness fits the character, and his sad eyes convey a past of pain. Likewise, Vicent Klyn isn't the most accomplished actor, but his glare sells him as a deranged mass murderer.

Cyborg is fine. If you just want to see Van Damme roundhouse cannibals in a wasteland, then it's hard to complain. It's cinematic Ronseal - it does exactly what it says on the box.
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  #59617  
Old 6th December 2022, 10:11 AM
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Quick roundup then ....

Antfarm Dickhole (2011, Bill Zeebub)

More from this chap. Slightly less repellent than that last thing, this is a tad sillier due to ... the cast sniggering during the scenes and the ferking ant puns.
I have a lot of patience, but this is beyond the pale. Not in a good way either.



Fright Show (1985, Various)

Lost anthology flick. I can sort of see why. Of the stories included, I liked the Alien ripoff best as it was trying really hard to be humourous whilst failing severely


The Man From Hong Kong (1975, Brian Trenchard-Smith)

This is more like it. A HK copper arrives in Oz to extradite a scumbag but feels his job isn't quite done yet, much to the consternation of the local fuzz, one of which looks awfy like the Toecutter
Highly recommended.
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Last edited by Demoncrat; 6th December 2022 at 12:58 PM.
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  #59618  
Old 6th December 2022, 10:53 AM
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Exeter (2015)

German director Marcus Nispel has had a short but mainly successful career as a film director. None of his films have been what you would call classics but i certainly enjoyed his 2003 remake / reimagining of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre whilst the likes of Pathfinder (2007) and Friday the 13th (2009) were watchable at worst.

Exeter however is poor, well not so much poor as inept. Inept yet a lotta fun. It tells the story of a group of college kids who decide to have a party in a long since abandoned, except by the church apparently not that you'd know it, psychiatric hospital for ' feeble minded children'. A building with a 'troubled' history that is supposedly haunted....

Fifteen minutes into the film the kids arrive at 'Exeter School of the Feeble Minded' and we're off. Nispel who also wrote this thing as well as directed it throws everything at the viewer with zero coherency.

Okay let's get drunk and do drugs - Check...Shit! This place is haunted, let's make a Ouija Board - Check... Woah! is that guy suddenly possessed? - Check. F*ck! Tie him up and perform an exorcism found via Google - Check. Arrgh! He's loose and attacking us - Check. Throw some Holy Water on him - Check.

Hang on where did we get some Holy Water? Oh yeah it was from that priest we ran over and stuffed in the car on the way here - Check.

F*ck me! The dead priest has now disappeared - Check. Oh it's okay we'll be saved by this bearded dude with his shotgun. - Check. Oops! He's blown his own head off as he attacked us - Check.

And so it goes. Seriously this was the first half of the film. Scenes crash landed on top of one another with ridiculous regularity but at least Nispel bothered to give reasons and explanations no matter how ludicrous they are.

The dialogue was mad to say the least. I laughed out loud several times. When one idiot comes up with a way to get rid of the dead shotgun dude -

"We'll dismember him, then take his guts out, mince everything into small pieces then put it all into jam jars and get rid of them across the city. Anyone got any questions?"

"Where we going to get the jam jars from?" Comes the reply from another idiot.

You really can't make this up, except Nispel clearly did. And for all it's hilarity and stupidity there are some great gory sequences whilst the asylum (The films name in the UK) was an effective setting. It felt like, come the end that this was a three hour film with all the shit taken out leaving set piece after set piece of chaos, comedy, more chaos and extreme violence.

The strange thing is i was never remotely bored. I can't say the same for yesterday's La Llarona (1933) a much more worthy film apparently. The entertainment factor is high although perhaps for all the wrong reasons and there's definite rewatch value involved probably because if you blink you will miss something.
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  #59619  
Old 6th December 2022, 01:01 PM
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SOLD!!!
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  #59620  
Old 6th December 2022, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Demdike@Cult Labs View Post
Exeter (2015)

Fifteen minutes into the film the kids arrive at 'Exeter School of the Feeble Minded' and we're off. Nispel who also wrote this thing as well as directed it throws everything at the viewer with zero coherency
As someone who has lived near Exeter, I can confirm that you don't need to visit a school to see feeble minded people!
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