Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Archive for May, 2011

Paul – Retro Poster

A nice retro poster for ‘Paul’ starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

This one was commissioned for a screening at the Paramount Theatre as part of the South by South West Film Festival.

Enjoy.


Ecstasy – The Movie

Ecstasy is the current project of the Canadian film director, Rob Heydon. The interior scenes were filmed in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada. The exteriors and some club scenes have just been shot in Edinburgh. Ecstasy stars Scottish actor Adam Sinclair, and Kirsten Kreuk, best known as Lana Lang in the hit TV series Smallville.

For pictures and keeping up to date with the film’s progress here

Irvine is currently at work on SKAGBOYS, a prequel to Trainspotting. Irvine: “It’s basically about how Renton and Sick Boy went from being daft young guys just out for the buzz on drugs, to total junkies. It shows how their attitudes and behaviour start to change as they become more defined by the drug and the culture around it. It basically looks at how British politics, economy and culture dramatically changed in the eigthies, and the ramifications of that for the youth of the time. ”

 

Harvey Keitel

Born 72 years ago today, Harvey Keitel came to prominence in the early 70’s after working in theatre for around ten years. He worked in early Scorsese films ‘Who’s that Knocking At My Door?’ (1967) ‘Mean Streets’ (1973), ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’ (1974) and ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976). He seemed to fade into anonymity in the eighties even though he turned in some impressive performances in films by some of America’s leading directors. However he reemerged into star status with his role as Mr. White in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and Abel Ferrara’s ‘Bad Lieutenant’ (both 1992) and ‘The Piano’ (1993). He worked again for Tarantino in ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994) and alongside him as an actor in ‘From Dusk ‘Till Dawn’ (1996). His status intact, Keitel has forged a career in supporting roles over the last 15 years, regularly stealing the limelight. He made the excellent and underrated ‘Cop Land’ (1997) which is one of my favourite movies of that decade, the cast list is incredible. Happy birthday Harvey.


Skin Walkers *

What a mess… Skin Walkers has a great looking poster and DVD cover but that’s where the quality begins and ends with this lycanthrope stinker.

According to a Navajo legend, a young boy will end the curse of the ‘Skin Walkers’ (Werewolves to the rest of us) when he turns thirteen on the third night of the red moon. The movie opens with a series of confusing scenes that are supposed to draw us into the story. They don’t, they’re shot without any original thought or creativity and all the ‘shocks’ are telegraphed. Well, what shocks there are, because for a werewolf movie there’s very little in the way of bloodletting or even a good transformation scene! It’s all gun play and more gun play, and just in case you missed that cool shot of the gun from a different angle, there’s more gun play. Everyone has a lot of guns. It’s an action movie with werewolves rather than a werewolf horror movie…

Timothy (Matthew Knight) is having bad dreams, are they premonitions or is he remembering something horrific from his past. Not that we care much anyway. He’s looked after by his single mum, Rachel (Rhona Mitra) and his extended family of his Nana (Barbara Gordon), his uncle Jonas (Elias Koteas), his cousin Katherine (Sarah Carter), Will (Tom Jackson) a Navajo for good measure and the local postman Doak (Lyriq Bent), and pretty much the whole town. His mum is human but the rest are all SkinWalkers and want the curse to end so they’ve been protecting him since he was born. They’re protecting him from the bad Skin Walkers who like being werewolves and therefore want to kill the boy before he turns thirteen.

The bad guys are led by Varek (Jason Behr) who is accompanied by Sonja (Natassia Malthe), Zo (Kim Coates) and Grenier (Rogue Johnston). They ride around like an outlaw motorcycle gang shot in slo-mo, have sex in slo-mo and generally do whatever they want. There’s a shoot out in town early on in the piece that’s just ridiculous and then there’s some chase scenes and more shooting. For all the shooting that goes on it takes a lot of shots to hit anyone… and there’s never a cop in sight.

There’s a decent scene where the bad guys in werewolf form attack a redneck bar and kill everyone, although it’s nowhere near as good as the bar attack from Near Dark. That’s about it though.  

The movie was directed by Jim Isaacs and he loves to move the camera for no reason whatsoever. He should have spent more time with the scriptwriters, all three of them, to flesh out the story and dialogue a bit more.

At least the effects are done with traditional make-up rather than CGI and for that reason alone the movie deserves some points. However, even though the make-up is done by the Stan Winston Studio you get the feeling that Stan had his best guys on another project at the time. The werewolves look a little bit like ‘Beast’ in that horrible Beauty & The Beast TV show from a few years ago.  As mentioned earlier there’s no transformation scene here..!

SPOILER ALERT. If you care and you shouldn’t, the cure is in Timothy’s blood. Varek is Timothy’s dad, he bites Timothy, is cured and happy families are reunited. They decide to put some of Timothy’s blood into bullets to ‘cure’ the remaining werewolves, which is hilarious as we’ve just witnessed these guys shooting a million bullets and missing everyone they aim at… it’s going to take a lot of Timothy’s blood at this rate. They also left it open for a sequel but who’s going to want one?

Quality: 1 out of 5 stars

Any Good: 1 out of 5 stars (unless you like gun porn)


Chocolate ***½

I was given this DVD by a friend at work, his description of it made it sound like fun… Zin (Ammara Siripong), the former girlfriend of a Thai mob boss falls for Mashashi (Hiroshi Abe), a rival Japanese gangster. After much bloodshed her boss banishes them both, Musashi to Japan and Zin with her young autistic daughter Zen to an apartment in a poorer part of the city. Blessed with incredible reflexes Zen spends her days watching and absorbing the students at the martial arts school next door. Zin adopts a young boy Moom after seeing him bullied in the streets, he and Zen (JeeJa Yanin) develop a close bond as he looks after her and helps to ‘train’ her reflexes. When Zin is taken to hospital and needs chemotherapy Moom looking for money to pay the bills discovers a ledger listing business men who still owe Zin money from her former life. He goes to get the money and takes Zen with him… as each business man refuses to pay Zen has to use her skills to fight more and more foes. A showdown with Zins former boss is inevitable…

You get what you’d expect from Prachya Pinkaew, the director of Thailand’s biggest ever box-office hit, Ong-Bak.  Chocolate features similarly exciting action set-pieces with the added twist that this time it is an autistic teenage girl doing the ass-kicking. Star Yanin is a decent actress, great fighter and good looking; she’s obviously a real star in the making. The best thing about the action is, like Ong-Bak before it, there is no wire work, what you see is real even if some of it is slightly sped up for effect.

As a movie it’s well made for the martial arts genre, although as is usual with this type of fare the first third of the movie, the story set-up and character development feels rushed. Of course it is, the whole point here is to get to the scenes with Yanin kicking the shit out of the bad guys and she does so for two thirds of the movie. Prachya could learn to use another transition other than fade to black to end each and every one of the opening scenes but that is a small complaint.

It’s an interesting angle for a martial arts action movie to take and I’m no expert on autism, Rainman being the extent of my limited knowledge, but for a movie making such a big deal about its action realism, maybe a slightly different approach to the ‘realism’ of the script would help lift the movie out of limited action-fan-only territory.

Quality: 3 out of 5 stars

Any good: 4 out of 5 stars (great fun if you like this sort of thing)


John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy was finally executed on the 10th May 1994 after spending 14 years on death row. A notorious serial killer who killed 33 victims over a six-year period, he was killed by lethal injection just after midnight. There were apparently over one thousand people gathered outside the correctional centre, the majority of who were in favour of his execution. A diagnosed psychopath, he expressed no remorse for his crimes stating to his lawyer that killing him wouldn’t bring any of the victims back and he deserves no sympathy even in death. The prosecutor at his trial, William Kunkle said: “He still got a much easier death than any of his victims. In my opinion he got an easier death than he deserved, but the important thing is that he paid for his crimes with his life” So far there have been four movies made about Gacy; unfortunately I’ve seen two of them…

To Catch A Killer (1992) starring Brian Dennehy, was the first movie made about Gacy. A made for television movie, it uses most of the 3 hour+ running time to focus mainly on the Police investigation into what became known as the ‘Gacy murders’ this unfortunately does the movie no favours. The strength of the movie is Brian Dennehy, he is outstanding as Gacy and whenever he’s not on screen the movie falters; he was nominated for an Emmy for his efforts. The rest of the cast are okay, especially Michael Riley who is pretty good as Lieutenant Joe Kozenczak.

Gacy (2003) starring Mark Holton as Gacy is a low budget movie that looks like a low budget movie. This time around we see flashbacks to his childhood where he takes a beating from his father (back story… ooh). This movie focuses more on Gacy than its predecessor but is not handled very well at all. It’s not all bad; it’s just not even partly good.

Apparently there are another two movies about Gacy that came out last year, one called ‘Dear Mr Gacy’ that tells the story of Gacy’s prison correspondence with Jason Moss. William Forsythe played Gacy and as I always find him interesting I may give that movie a look.

I can’t say the same about the other movie released last year, it’s called ‘8213: Gacy House’ and is allegedly about a team of paranormal investigators who base themselves in the house built on the former site of Gacy’s home. There’s a version of it on DVD called ‘Paranormal Investigations: Gacy House’ which has a cover that looks suspiciously like the Paranormal Activity poster. It sounds bloody awful… as does ‘Dahmer vs Gacy’ an alleged slasher comedy which is on the way.

There seems to be a revival of the obsession with serial killers again, Hollywood must be desperate for ideas. As usual the cheap knock-offs offer little in comparison to the quality output by Hitchcock or movies such as ’10 Rillington Place’, ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’, ‘Silence of the Lambs’, ‘Se7en’ or ‘Zodiac’. A top 10 good quality serial killer movie list will appear soon.


Kevin Peter Hall

Kevin Peter Hall was 7’2” in old measurements. Because of this he was regularly cast in monster roles, his credits include characters such as ‘Mutant Bear’, ‘The Alien’, ‘Bouncer’, ‘Monster’ and more famously as ‘Harry’ in Harry & the Hendersons (1987) and ‘The Predator’ in Predator (1987) and Predator 2 (1990). He would have been 56 today had he not died early due to pneumonia in 1991.


Hellboy Posters

Here’s another couple of cool revised posters for you.

Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008).

These two exclusive posters are from the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.

Enjoy.


Ruggero Deodato

Ruggero Deodato the controversial Italian Director was born today in 1939. In the ’60s, he directed some comedy, musical, and thriller films, before leaving cinema to do TV commercials. In 1976 he returned to the big screen with his ultra-violent police flick ‘Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man’. In 1977 he directed a jungle adventure called ‘Jungle Holocaust’, then in late 1979 he released the movie that he will forever be associated with, the ultra-gory ‘Cannibal Holocaust’. With its release Deodato created massive controversy in both Italy and the UK which was wrongly claimed by some to be a ‘snuff film’ due to the overly realistic gore effects. Deodato was forced to reveal the secrets behind the film’s effects and to parade the lead actors before an Italian Court to prove that they were still alive. Deodato also received condemnation, rightly so, for the use of real animal torture in his films. He then released his 1980 thriller ‘House on the Edge of the Park’, which was the most censored of the video nasties in the UK for its graphic violence. In the ’80s he made some other slasher/horror films, including ‘Phantom of Death’, ‘Dial Help’ and ‘Body Count’. In the ’90s he turned to TV movies and dramas with some success. Recently, he made a cameo appearance in Eli Roth’s Hostel: Part 2 as a cannibal feasting on his victim’s leg. Happy birthday you sick bastard.


Irreversible ****

Worst date movie EVER. That could be the short review of Irreversible, unless it was a double bill of ‘Irreversible’ and ‘Antichrist’; actually that would take a lot to top as worst date movie ever.

Irreversible takes place over the course of one night in Paris. The films scenes unfold in reverse order starting in a hotel room with the Butcher (Philippe Nahon) from Noe’s previous film ‘I Stand Alone’. The camera, which is always moving, glides out of the window and into a gay nightclub called Rectum. It is here that the first of the films two controversial scenes takes place, an incredibly brutal act of violence. Marcus (Vincent Cassel) and Pierre (Albert Dupontel) are looking for someone called Tenia, when they find him things don’t go well and the scene ends with the aforementioned shocking act of violence. It is at this point that the first reversal of scene order takes place. We move back in time to see Cassel and Dupontel searching for Tenia; with the help of two local criminals they search the sleazier areas of a seedier side of Paris.

As the film moves back again we eventually reach the scene that caused the most problems for ratings boards and censors around the world, and baited the worlds press. Monica Bellucci leaves her drunken partner Cassel at a party, unable to get a taxi decides to walk through an underpass to the other side of the road. It is in the underpass that she witnesses a pimp beating a prostitute. The pimp turns on her and brutally rapes then disfigures her over 10 minutes. The scene plays out almost entirely in a locked shot without any score and is almost impossible to watch.

As the scene ends we move backward again to the party then backward to the trio travelling there. These scenes give us so much background information that we are constantly piecing the whole thing together as we move backwards through the story.

Writer/Director Gaspar Noe has made one of the most daring and brutal films ever made. Better than his previous effort ‘I Stand Alone’, this film is even more disturbing and confrontational. Noe has taken what in essence is a typical rape and revenge story but made it far more intriguing by using the reverse-chronology style that was similarly effective in ‘Memento’.

The film is technically superb. The earlier scenes are all hand held and disorientating to watch; as the film travels backwards the camera becomes steadier and the pace more serene. Noe is playing with time and our perceptions, things are not getting better, the worse is yet to come. He is obviously trying to provoke reactions from the audience and it is impossible not to react, either with disgust, horror, hatred or admiration… it’s possible to have all those emotional reactions at various moments of the film. One thing you cannot do is show indifference or easily dismiss it.

I heard an interview with Vincent Cassel when he was promoting ‘Mesrine’ last year and he said that when Noe pitched the film to him at a club he wanted to hit him. He went home to his on screen and real life partner Bellucci and told her of Noe’s pitch; it was her who then insisted they both do the film, they are both excellent, as is Dupontel. Noe is definitely a talent however this film is not for everyone. It is an incredible piece of work however I probably won’t watch it ever again. BE WARNED THAT THIS FILM CONTAINS DISTURBING SCENES.

Quality: 4 out of 5 stars

Any good: 4 out of 5 stars


Insidious ***½

The trailer for ‘Insidious’ is excellent, it’s incredibly well put together, looks great and ends with a fantastic line of dialogue and an unnerving shot of a terrifying claw-handed figure in the shadows of a kids bedroom. I loved it and was desperate to see this film; usually with each new horror release that comes along we get a pretty good trailer and are let down by the final product. Not with Insidious.

Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) move into a huge new house, it’s perfect for them and their 3 children, the eldest of whom, Dalton (Ty Simpkins – another scary kid to add to the growing list) is terrified of something. There are strange noises in the house, things move by their own volition and one night Ty investigates, falls and bumps his head. The next morning falls into what appears to be a coma; the doctors are confounded, he doesn’t get any better and after a few months he’s allowed to go home under the care of a day nurse. This is when things get worse, the odd activities in the house increase, Renai is terrified and starts to see the ghosts; then the bloody hand print on Daltons bed sheet is the last straw. Unlike most other haunted house thrillers the family here move out, at last someone in this situation gets it… or so we think.

Despite the move the situation worsens. As a last resort Josh and Renai decide to bring in the help of two paranormal investigators (Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson) and psychic Elise Reiner (Liz Shaye). Reiner delivers the fantastic line that was used so well in the trailer: “It’s not the house that’s haunted, it’s your son”. The film takes an unexpected turn from here to the end, go with it and you’ll probably love the movie… if you don’t then you’ll probably feel a little let down.

Insidious was written by the ‘Saw’ team of Director James Wan and Actor Leigh Whannell and they’ve crafted a genuinely creepy and in some parts terrifying movie. The scares all derive from the tension that Wan ratchets up from the very start. He doesn’t throw in all the fake scares that are commonplace these days, no ‘closing the bathroom cabinet to reveal…’ or ‘nearing a sound in a wardrobe only for it to be a cat’ etc. Instead the movie concentrates on building the tension and creepy atmosphere so we’re on edge throughout.

As you would expect with the likes of Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey (as Renai’s mother), the actors are all good. Even Whannell turns in a kooky performance that works and Liz Shaye is definitely channelling Zelda Rubinstein from Poltergeist. Which brings us to the script; it’s obviously very well written and researched… and by researched I mean it lifts freely from any number of classic horror films of the past: Poltergeist, Amityville Horror, The Exorcist and The Omen. It also features similar themes to ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ which is no surprise as it’s co-produced by Jason Blum. That’s not a complaint as at least they’ve come up with some new and different ideas. The script is also quite funny but not in a ‘Scream 4’ way, the humour here works with the movie.

Quality: 4 out of 5 stars

Any good: 3 out of 5 stars      


‘Saoirse Ronan Will Battle The Host’

I saw this headline at lunchtime and it sent a chill down my spine. Here we go again I thought, another Hollywood remake of a fantastic Asian movie… but all is not lost, apparently it’s an adaptation of another Stephanie Meyer (Twilight) novel about some alien invaders or something… Twilight must be wrapping up soon then. Stay tuned for some Twilight and other ‘Kid’s Vampire Flicks’ review soon.


Bug ****

Lonely waitress Agnes (Ashley Judd) lives in a sleazy, rundown motel on the edge of the desert. She lives in fear of her ex-husband and is haunted by the disappearance of her son in a supermarket some years earlier. Her only outlet is the odd night of partying with her co-worker R. C. (Lynn Collins). On one such night, R.C. brings a guy back to Agnes’ room, he’s Peter (Michael Shannon) an odd, quiet guy and Agnes is initially suspicious of him. After a strange conversation Peter stays the night, on the sofa at first before moving to the floor. When Agnes wakes in the morning she hears the shower and notices that Peter has made coffee; however her ex-husband Goss (Harry Connick Jr) emerges from the bathroom.  

Bug sets itself up as a story you’ve seen many times before, you think you know where it’s going, even when it changes direction mid-way through. What we get is a bizarre thriller about a lonely woman who finds solace in a toxic relationship; compounded by schizophrenia and drug-fuelled paranoia her life spirals out of control. Not your everyday Hollywood fare. However it is so well made that it’s not until the credits roll that you realise what has happened, and even then you’re not entirely sure what’s taken place. The film has more in common with ‘Requiem For A Dream’ or ‘Naked Lunch’ than the average horror thriller.

The performances are all great; Ashley Judd is the best she’s ever been, if the film had more recognition on release she would surely have been up for major awards. She is stunning and brave in a role most big name actors would steer clear of. I had never seen Michael Shannon before and admittedly I was not convinced during his early scenes, however as the movie reached its climax he commands the screen. Lynn Collins and Harry Connick Jr are very good in supporting roles.

The script was adapted for the movie by playwright Tracy Letts from his off Broadway play. It is an excellent piece of work drawing us in then turning the tables on our expectations.

There is a quote on the DVD cover from Time magazine stating that Bug is “quite possibly Freidkins best movie”, it’s not, ‘The French Connection’, ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘To Live & Die in L.A.’ are better. However Bug is a good film, albeit a disturbing one and to my shame I didn’t see this movie on its initial release. I’ve seen it now and will watch it again soon. It is so well directed by Freidkin, it doesn’t look like a filmed stage play; meticulously planned as each shot flows seamlessly into the next and this is done within the confines of a motel room. He has confidence in his actors and allows them time on screen, with shots allowed to play out in long takes. There are no unnecessary quick cuts or manic editing which would more than likely have been the case with a less accomplished director.

The movie is confronting and tense, disturbing but not gross, there is no gore on display, apart from a bloody scene involving the removal of a tooth. If you like confronting cinema and want to see something different then Bug is worth the effort, just don’t expect an easy ride.

Quality: 5 out of 5 stars

Any good: 4 out of 5 stars


One, Two, Freddy’s coming for you…

Shock Horror: The Nightmare Begins’ will be in Sydney on Sunday November 27. Freddy Kruger  became a household name, and the phenomenal successes of the ELM STREET films helped to make New Line Cinema into a major player in the film industry; indeed, The House that Freddy built. The Original Freddy, Robert Englund is coming to Sydney, stay tuned for more updates and check out the Culture Shock website


The Company of Wolves *****

With the disastrous release of ‘Red Riding Hood’ recently I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the best movie adaption of that particular fairy tale. The Company of Wolves was the first Neil Jordan movie I ever saw at the cinema, I’ve seen everything he’s made since.

After the funeral of her older sister who was killed by wolves, Rosaleen (Sarah Paterson) stays at her grandmothers (Angela Lansbury) cottage in the woods. Her grandmother spends the night telling Rosaleen stories about ‘men whose eyebrows meet in the middle’ and ‘babies found in stork eggs’ much to Rosaleens horror and excitement. The stories are cautionary tales as Rosaleen is pre-pubescent and granny is trying to warn her about certain types of men and what they will want from her. The stories are dismissed by Rosaleens mother when Rosaleen asks her if her father ‘hurts’ her after she heard them having sex. The film is all filled throughout with sexual references and imagery.

Of course soon after Rosaleen meets a charming stranger in the woods, the huntsman (Micha Bergese), he begs her for a kiss, when Rosaleen declines he makes abet with her that he can reach her granny’s house before her, and then he will take his kiss. Rosaleen agrees to the bet even though the strangers’ eyebrows meet in the middle…

The Company of Wolves is a strange, original, beautiful and sensual film; preoccupied with Rosaleens burgeoning sexuality and her obvious appeal to the opposite sex. The film is incredibly beautiful to look at, the village, cottage and woods sets are wonderfully realised and provide the perfect fairy tale backdrop for the characters to ham it up. The actors really play up their roles, there’s not much subtlety in delivery but it all works in the films favour.      

It really is director Neil Jordan’s film and must have been a difficult sell when he initially pitched it to the studio. Encompassing a strong undercurrent of sexual desire that would become a familiar theme throughout his career, especially in ‘The Crying Game’ and ‘Interview with A Vampire’; using the fairy tale imagery allows Jordan to look at teenage sexuality from a safe distance.

The special effects are always a talking point in werewolf themed movies, specifically the transformation scenes, with ‘An American Werewolf In London’ setting the standard. The werewolf change in Company of Wolves is different and disturbing in a unique way. Wonderfully staged and well performed it relies on the acting, setting and lighting to build the tension before exploding with some terrific make-up effects. Although now obviously slightly dated, I still prefer these types of effects to CGI abominations. 

Quality: 5 out of 5 stars

Any good: 5 out of 5 stars


Jaws

37 years ago today Steven Spielberg started shooting on ‘Jaws’ (1975). The first scene shot was the discovery of the remains of a young woman on the beach by Chief Brody (Roy Scheider). Jaws became the first film to reach more than $100 million in U.S. box office receipts and changed cinema forever. This movie was a defining moment in terms of cinema going for my young self, and I suspect many others; it cemented my love of being scared at the movies. … and yes, I had the t-shirt, soundtrack, book…


Zombies & Strippers – An odd Sub Genre

Big Tits Zombie (2010). Five bored strippers, slutty Lena, jailbird Ginko, goth Maria, country girl Darna and den mother Nene in a small town strip club discover a medieval book of the dead. Maria reads the incantations and awakens an army of the undead; the other four strippers must stop them to save the world. That’s pretty much it. The acting is typically OTT, the make-up effects are the worst I’ve ever seen and the CG effects look like they were done on a Commodore 64.

From the title it’s not too much to expect some nudity and zombie action, however there are only two scenes where the strippers get their tops off, around 23 and 62 minutes if you want to fast forward to them! Apart from the opening scene which is replayed in its entirety later in the movie, the first zombie action is at 32 minutes. That should save you some time…

There are a few hilarious moments; after losing a sumo contest, Ginko has to act as a naked sushi bar and especially when Nene for no apparent reason shoots flames out of her vagina! (50 minutes in for those on the fast forward button).

Makes Zombie Strippers look like a great movie.

Quality: 1 out of 5 stars (Badly made in every way)

Any good: 1 out of 5 stars (They lied, not enough nudity or decent zombie action)

Zombie Strippers (2007).

After opening with a poor attempt at some Robocop/Total Recall style future TV news articles we’re straight into the zombie action. Starring Robert Englund and famous porn star Jenna Jameson, and some other porn actresses who I’ve never heard of, really…

This tries to set up the movie with some ridiculous military experiment gone wrong premise; they’ve been trying to make undead super soldiers. After the Marines are called in and fight the zombies, one of the soldiers was bitten and he escapes to a strip club where top stripper Kat (Jenna Jameson) is nekkid on stage; she pretty much remains in various stages of undress for the remainder of the movie. New girl Jessie arrives, she’s a country girl from Nebraska; she’s stripping to make some money for her Nanna’s colostomy operation. The other girls are less than friendly. The girls do a lot of stripping when the soldier attacks Kat and bites her neck… she turns into a zombie and keeps on stripping as a zombie. What a pro. She infects the other girls who keep on stripping… pros. Oh, and they kill all the customers.

There’s a lot of nudity in the movie and a lot of gore. The script, direction and acting are all of porn movie standard. However, some of the effects are done really well, especially the neck bites and there is a lot of blood thrown around. They’ve clearly thrown their money at the girls and the effects department and with a title like ‘Zombie Strippers’ at least they didn’t lie to us and made the correct decision.

Quality: 2 out of 5 stars (a fun beers with mates movie on in the background)

Any good: 2 out of 5 stars (at least they didn’t lie to us, you get what you paid for)

Zombies, Zombies, Zombies (2008).

I saw this on SBS last year during their week long zombie festival. Also set in a strip bar, Rubbish.

As with Zombie Strippers an experiment goes wrong and causes a zombie apocalypse. It’s up to a group of exotic dancers to fight back. Nothing original here, the strippers are attractive enough and the SFX are passable when you take into account the budget. These movies are never going to be great but they serve a purpose and you shouldn’t expect anything more.

 Quality: 2 out of 5 stars (give them credit for doing this on such a low budget)

Any good: 1 out of 5 stars (okay if you were drunk with your mates, but not for long)


I Stand Alone ***

The Butcher (Phillipe Nahon) narrates his life story over the opening scene: He worked his way to buying his own shop, got married, had a daughter, his wife died, he assaulted a man he mistakenly believed to have abused her, was sent to jail for the assault, his daughter was sent to an institution, he lost his business and home, when he got of jail he went to work in a bar, he had an affair with the owner, she got pregnant, they leave Paris and move with her mother to Lille… His monologue is delivered in a monotone; he’s at a low ebb and about to sink lower.

The Butcher, we only ever know him as such, is an unhappy man, he’s unfulfilled and mentally disturbed. Those around him either can’t see this or can and don’t care. As he tries to get a job he’s thwarted and subsequently berated again by his controlling wife. She’s the one who has the money as she keeps reminding him. He gets a job as a nightwatchman at a retirement home where one night he witnesses the death of a patient. Rather than go straight home after his shift he wanders around, visiting a porno theatre and bar before eventually going home to be accused of infidelity by his wife. His humiliation reaches boiling point and he assaults her, beating her pregnant body. He takes his mother in laws gun and returns to Paris where he believes he’ll find peace, happiness or redemption. He’ll find none.

This is a deeply disturbing and confronting movie, dealing with the psychotic fantasies of the protagonist. He’s racist, homophobic and deeply troubled. As his hopeless situation gets worse, his anger and rage intensifies. In his mind he mentally lashes out at his prospective employers, his friends and eventually verbally to a stranger in a bar. He is desperate, lost, unloved and lonely. He blames those around him for his situation and ultimately decides to use his gun to rectify the perceived wrongs and address the situation.

It has been compared to ‘Taxi Driver’ due to the similar themes of mental illness and psychotic fantasies. Although the comparisons have merit it isn’t anywhere near as good as Taxi Driver. I Stand Alone is well made and director Gaspar Noe is one of the current crop of European directors who is unafraid to say and show exactly what he feels necessary to make his point. Along with Catherine Breillat and Lars von Trier he is pushing artistic boundaries to new and disturbing levels.

Noe went on to make the much better Irreversible, an incredible film and like I Stand Alone, it’s another film that I probably won’t watch again.    

Quality: 4 out of 5 stars (It’s well made but I’ll never watch it again)

Any good: 2 out of 5 stars (It’s well made and utterly joyless)