Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

One from the to watch pile…

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Film: Unfortunately we like in an entertainment world where mainstream blockbuster Hollywood has no original ideas and if they aren’t remaking older or non-English films, adapting novels or comics, they are making sequels to films that either didn’t need them, or are just from so long ago they make be irrelevant.

The real sad thing is that we just lap them up like idiots desperate for a fix of nostalgia.

This film was directed by Jake Kasdan, who has directed other comedies like Sex Tape and Dewey Cox, from a script by this McKenna and Eric Sommers, who gave us Spiderman Homecoming, Scott Rosenberg, who gave us Con Air and the remake of Gone in Sixty Seconds, and Jeff Pinkner, who gave us The 5th Wave. Interesting, if you think of the tone of the films I mentioned, this is right alongside all of them, with the teen relationships and the action/ adventure spectacular.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle starts basically when the original finished, with a jogger, in 1996, discovering the Jumanji board game on the beach, and taking it home to his son, who discards it because it’s not a video game… but Jumanji is smarter than that and transforms itself into a video game, and quickly, the kid, Alex, is sucked into the game.

Flash forward to now, and four kids who would never relate to each other at school, nerdy Spencer (Alex Wolff), mean girl Bethany (Madison Iseman), jock ‘Fridge’ (Ser’darius Blain) and school weirdo, Martha (Morgan Turner) have been put on detention for various offences and whilst they have a particular task to do, they find an old video game, and decide to plug it in and play it.

Of course they are sucked into the game, and Spencer is transformed into hero Smoulder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Fridge becomes the short zoologist Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart), Martha becomes man-killer martial artist Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) and Bethany becomes middle-aged, overweight MALE cartographer Shelly Oberon (Jack Black) and have a series of missions given to them by Nigel (Rhys Darby) and are in opposition to game bad guy, Russel Van Pelt (Bobby Carnivale) who has stolen a gem which is the only thing that will get them home once it is placed in the head of the jaguar mountain where it belongs, but can these different personalities work together to win, and will they discover what happened to Alex?

There is nothing new here. The concept of the Jumanji game, obviously, is stolen from the original and the personality dynamics of the kids sucked into the game are straight out of The Breakfast Club, but together, and this is thanks to the script and performances, they work. The special effects are clearly CGI and hyper-real but considering they are in a video game, that kind of works.

There are a couple of nice throwbacks to the first film too, so the legacy of Robin Williams’ film is intact.

The cast are a blast and special mention has to go to Jack Black portrayal of a 16 year old girl stuck in the body of a 4t years old fat bloke. Interestingly though, for me, the weirdest thing about this film is seeing Karen Gillan smile. She was a grumpy bitch in Doctor Who, an alien assassin in the Marvel films and a moody crank in Oculus so to see her smile was refreshing, I mean her resting bitch face is lovely, but her smile is amazing.

Basically, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a fine distraction, with a fair few funny moments and an inventive way of reimagining itself, but it certainly won’t ever appear on the top of anyone’s favourite film lists, nor will it probably be remembered as a modern day piece of classic cinema.

Score: ***

Format: The film was reviewed on the Australian multi-region Bluray which runs for approximately 1 hour and 59 minutes, and is presented in an absolutely spectacular 2.39:1 image with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: There is a great bunch of extras on this disc:

Gag Reel is just what you would think it is, but it’s just not that funny. Odd, considering the presence of Hart, Black and Johnson.

Journey Through The Jungle: The Making Of Jumanji is hosted by Rhys Darby (who playedNigel in the film) and goes through an abbreviated making of the film.

Meet the Players looks at the cast of the film.

Surviving the Jungle is a behind the scenes of the stunts of the film.

Attack of the Rhinos dissects a particular scene from the film.

Book to Board Game to Big Screen and Beyond: Celebrating the Legacy Of Jumanji celebrates the entire history of the film.

Jumanji, Jumanji Music Video is a music clip performed by the cast and is truly the funniest thing on the whole disc.

Score: ****

WISIA: Even though I enjoyed it, I’m probably not going to watch it again.

Drive-In Delirium: The New Batch (2018)

One from the to watch pile…

Drive-In Delirium: The New Batch (2018)

The cover to Drive-In Delirium:The New Batch

Film: Whenever anyone, and I mean ANYONE I know, goes and sees a movie, the first question I ask is never ‘was it good?’, it’s always ‘what we’re the trailers before the movie?’ I guess I’m a fan of the anticipation of what is coming rather than what is available.

It’s that secret nerd thing of knowing what is coming out, I guess.

I think it began when I first started becoming a film fan and was hooked on the monthly visit to the video shop. In actual fact, the first VCR my family owned ( top of the line, with a corded remote control) came with a free movie which we could swap for free from good ol’ Joyce Mayne at Auburn. Now occasionally the movie would suck, but I’d rewatch the trailers at the beginning over and over agin so I’d know what to ask my parents to get next time they went over, and my parents were pretty cool so I’d usually get what I wanted.

(As an aside, we once had my father’s choice of Convoy for about two months, a week of which I was sick off school and I spent my days watching and rewatching that movie over and over, to the point I can still, 30 years later, recite the entire film… I was considering performing it as a one-man show with me both as Kris Kristofferson and Ali McGraw)

The Video Dead Masthead

Anyway, what we have here is the third volume on Bluray from Umbrella Entertainment of their Drive-In Delirium series, the previous of which were ‘60s and 70s Savagery’ and ‘Maximum 80s Overdrive’ which both obvious had their focuses on the decades suggested by their titles.

Thankfully this isn’t focusing on the great horror movies of the 90s because, honestly, it would be about ten minutes long… sorry kids, the 90s sucked for horror, even Fangoria had to put Batman Returns and Jurassic Park on the cover of the mag… but instead has a super mix of stuff from all decades and genres.

The disc is divided into three parts. The first is called ‘The Quickening’, and features a mixed bag of trailers of all genres of B movies, from sci-fi stuff like X-tro to comedy like The Nude Bomb. The second section is called ‘The Spawning’ and is a bunch of horror movies and if I’m totally honest, was the focus for me on this disc. I was particularly excited to see the trailer for ‘Demented’ again, a film I never saw, but always wanted too… maybe it’s time to start looking for it again.

The Terror in the Aisles Masthead

These first two parts have some pretty cool adverts and public announcements before, at ‘intermission’ and after, of special note is the totally off-the-wall anti-smoking and starring none other than R2-D2 and C-3PO.

Finally, we have a series of trailers taken from VHS and I kid you not, if you were old enough to have ever hired a Roadshow Home Video tape, you’ll be well aware of a big bunch of these images, and the Australian voiceover preceding each one.

The difference between the first two chapters and the last is that the first two have had a bit of a clean up on the trailers, but the VHS ones are of varying quality, none of which are detrimental to the viewing of the trailers, but they are a bit scratchy nevertheless.

Nostalgia bit me big time with this disc and I enjoyed every second of it!

Score: *****

The menu screen to Derive-In Delirium: The New Batch

Format: This selection of trailers was watched on the Umbrella Entertainment Bluray which is multi-region. All the sound is of a decent quality and is presented in 2.0, but the images are of a varying degree of quality and aspect ratio depending on when they were released or on what format they were released.

Score: ***

Extras: It’s all extras!

Score: N/A

WISIA: This is a definite rewatcher, to the point I’d say if I had a few mates over, you could put this on and watch it over a few beers.

The Howling 2 Masthead

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

One from the re watch pile…

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

Film: The early 2000s were a wonderful time when every second movie that was released was a remake, not like now when every movie is a Disney film, and every forum on the Internet was rife with old school horror lovers screaming blue murder that a remake would wreck ‘their’ film.

Here’s a few pointers:

-a remake doesn’t wreck an original film…in actual fact it does nothing to it other than bring attention to it.

it’s not ‘your’ film, and the owners of the rights can do whatever they feel like to it. You are just playing in their backyard.

Anyway, this remake was directed by French director Alexandre Aja, whose previous film was the unusual, and violent psychological film Haute Tension aka High Tension which many people were stunned by both for its extreme gore, and is use of trickery, and blatant lies to tell its tale. The script, whilst based on Wes Craven’s original film, is written by Gregory Levasseur, who also worked on Haute Tension and Aja’s next film, Mirrors.

The Hills Have Eyes remake tells of a family who are travelling across the New Mexico desert on holiday. When the father, Big Bob (Ted Levine) is told of a short cut not on the map by a gas station attendant of dubious moral, he proves he must have never seen a horror movie a decides to take it.

Part of the way across this ‘short cut’ the family are in a accident staged by a bunch of mutants who live in the mines in the hills, and in the governmental built town made to see how nuclear weapons would effect suburbs. These mutants are the results of the fallout subjected their ancestors.

Quickly, the family are subjected to murder, rape and cannibalism before one of them steps up his game and decides to set things straight, and carves a path of blood and guts across the desert.

Aja proves that his Haute Tension film was not a fluke, and this, his first American film, sits high on my list of amazing remakes, along with John Carpenter’s The Thing and Chuck Russell’s The Blob. Aja has taken Craven’s film and really increased the levels of every threat the family encounter.

A special shout-out has to go to the effects, which to me are a seamless combination of CGI and practical effects, and the soundtrack, not just the incidental music but also the bizarre choices of songs for the opening and closing credits, particularly the opening which is combined with 1950s styled happy-housemaker adverts and deformities of the children of people who were exposed to Agent Orange in Viet Nam.

There is a lot to love about this film and dare I say it, I like it far more than the original.

Score: ****

Format: This film was reviewed with the Australian, region B Bluray release of the film, which is presentin a crystal clear 2.35:1 image and a matching Dolby DTS-HD 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: There is a few extras on here which are a pain to access as the disc has no menu screen, so whilst the film is playing you have to use your ‘Pop-up Menu’ button to access them.

There are two commentaries, one by Aja, writer Levassuer and Producer Marianne Maddalena and another by Producers Peter Locke and horror legend Wes Craven. Either individually or watched one after the other they offer a whole pile of interesting anecdotes of the making of the film.

There are 7 Production diaries which can be watched individually or as a job lot. They are crappy handicap filmed behind the scenes stuff with no offer of an explanation throughout and each one only goes for about two minutes. Ultimately worthless.

We also have trailers for this film, From Hell and X-men: The Last Stand.

Score: ***

WISIA: I really dig it so, yeah: 100%

Emmanuelle (1974)

One from the to watch pile…

Emmanuelle (1974)

Film: There was once a time when soft core porn was cool. When a man and a woman could go out and enjoy a film with saxophone and oboe filled soundtracks, lithe sensual women, iron-jawed rugged men and more camera filters than you could shake a nubile titty at. Porn evolved fairly quickly as it became less something artistic that could be enjoyed by the general public and became a dirty societal secret, shunned by the mainstream because, you know, masturbation is dirty and only the scum of the earth do it.

Over the course of history the production value on porn films has been of varying degree, just like any other form of entertainment but this is a review about one film, not a reflection on an industry that even defines technological advances by what it uses to get its message across, like VHS and Bluray.

Emmanuelle was directed by soft-core legend Just Jaekin, who also directed The Story Of O and Gwendoline, a film I thoroughly enjoyed as it is a bizarre mix of a female Indiana Jones movie and a titty-flick. The film’s script was written by Jean-Louis Richard which was of course based upon the original novel by Emmanuelle Arsen, which was a series of erotic fantasies. This film launched an entire sub-genre of films which has Emmanuelle in the title, from the Black Emmanuelle flicks to the bizarre is-it-a-comedy-or-a-soft-core-porn-film Carry On Emmanuelle.

Emmanuelle (Sylvia Krystal) is the wife of a French ambassador, Jean (Daniel Sarky) assigned to Thailand. Emmanuelle and Mario have a very open relationship, as jealousy is out of fashion and apparently Emmanuelle is a spectacular lay and he doesn’t believe he should keep her gift all to himself.

So of course the story here shows Emmanuelle riding the beast with two backs across a foreign country, whilst her husband has his way with the various housemaids that litter their property, but is he honest with his lack of jealousy, or will the amount of people, male and female, who end up face down in her private parts start to piss him off? This is all without even taking into account her tryst with one of his work colleagues who just hands her around like a towel to all and sundry!

Be careful what you wish for, Jean!

There is no doubt Just Jaekin knows his way around a camera. The whole production is filmed softly, but not so softly that it takes away from the content. It does, however, spend most of the time looking like a Stevie Nicks music video but with boobs and gentle lovemaking.

I am well aware of the importance of this film but I was as bored as bored can be through the film… except for a sequence with a naked girl and a cigarette: here I was intrigued!! This is one of those films that I am glad I can tick off my list of films that should be seen. But it will definitely only ever get one tick.

Score: *

Format: The review of this film was done with the Umbrella region 4 DVD release which runs for approximately 94 minutes. It’s is presented in a decent 1.66:1 image with a 2.0 audio soundtrack.

Score: ***

Extras: None.

Score: 0

WISIA: No.

Rupture (2016)

One from the to watch pile…

Rupture (2016)

Film: When is a superhero movie not a superhero movie? When it is an exploration of ‘super powers’ and what it may take to get them to manifest in regular human beings! With the glut of fairly generic superhero films littering the cinemas, it’s nice to see someone doing such an exploration.

As one would expect, such a film would be made by people who are perhaps somewhat subversive with their previous productions, and in this case we are treated by the writer and director of the film Secretary, Steven Shainberg and Brian Nelson.

Reneé (Naomi Rapace), divorced, lives in the suburbs with her son, Evan (Percy Hynes White) but unbeknownst to her, her house is littered with camera, feeding the details of her everyday life to…someone?

After dropping her son off at his father’s house for a few days, Reneé is kidnapped and tasered by a group of people (including Fantastic Four’s Michael Chiklis) and taken to a facility, run by Dr. Nyman (Lesley Manville) and her team (including Peter Stormare) where she is subjected to a series of experiments by that are seemingly meant to test her endurance… it to what end? What will happen if and when she finally breaks?

Imagine making Hostel with a Twin Peaks color palette via a Croenenberg body-horror nightmare mixed with a Marilyn Manson filmclip hoping for a X-men styled result and you’ll get where Rupture is coming from. Mind you, if I’m totally honest, it’s a Diet Coke version of Martyrs.

Shainberg has an extraordinary mix of cast members who possibly shouldn’t work well together, but do so well, and to an increasingly odd effect as the film goes on.

It’s extraordinarily claustrophobic and the villains are persistently moustache-twirling weirdos with a mysterious agenda and that is what will keep you entertained for the entire film. Sure there are some inconsistencies, like the bad guys wiring up Reneé’s entire house with cameras, but there are none in the entire facility except portable video cameras carried around for the experiments, but I’ve seen far worse plot devices in my 15 odd years of reviewing films.

By the way, there is a couple of tributes to other genre films… keep a look out for them.

Score: ****

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian Region B Bluray, which runs for approximately 101 minutes. The image and sound, presented in 2.35:1 and DTS-HD 5.1, are both perfect.

Score: *****

Extras: Not a single one.

Score: 0

WISIA: It’s a great story with an awesome cast, though once it’s secret are revealed a second watching probably isn’t going to have the same effect.

Fair Game (1986)

One from the re watch pile…

Fair Game (1986)

Film: After I saw Mark Hartley’s amazing documentary Not Quite Hollywood, I became obsessed with the period of Australian cinema it covered. Not only because it showed me some films I’d never seen before, but it also reminded me of a whole lot of stuff I’d seen on VHS and forgotten.

… and so the copious amount of shopping, both local and tragically international… I mean what a shame one can’t get all the Australian movies here in Australia!!!

To date, of the ones I want to own, the only one that continues to elude me is Lady Stay Dead!

Of all these film that I hadn’t seen before the one I absolutely fell in love with was this film, Fair Game, so back then I searched out the DVD release and thankfully, Australian company Umbrella Entertainment have now released a pretty amazing Bluray of the film.

Fair Game tells the story of Jessica (Cassandra Delaney), the caretaker of a remote wildlife reserve who comes into contact with some pretty dodgy out back versions of good old boys: Sunny (Peter Ford), Ringo (David Sanford) and Sparks (Garry Who). Whilst the boys think they are merely playing with Jessica, Jessica doesn’t see the funny side of their taunts (which include breaking into her house a photographing her whilst she is asleep… definitely crossing a line) and very soon things escalate out of control.

Unfortunately for Jessica, she is very much alone: her phone has stopped working and her car has broken down… could these three miscreants eventually resort to murder… or even worse?

It really doesn’t get more Australian than this film. The red glow of the Australian outback is just as much of a star of this film as the actors involved. Those very actors are pretty amazing at the jobs too. In no way is this a serious film, it is a caricature of a serious rape/ revenge film like I Spit On Your Grave and the actors all play their parts like the cartoonish archetypes that they represent: helpless woman, smarmy badguy, rat-faced henchman and tunny, dumbo second henchman.

The real star of the film though is the car. It’s a cross between a Ford F100, a vehicle from Mad Max and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It’s a beast and plus a big part in the threatening nature of the film.

It’s a cracker of an Australian film, and everyone should really give it a fair suck of the sav !

Score: ***

Format: This film was reviewed with the Umbrella Entertainment multi-region Bluray which is presented in a clear 1.85:1 image with a matching 2.0 DTS-HD audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: Heaps of awesome extras on this disc:

Audio Commentary with Director Mario Andreacchio and Writer Rob George

Extended Interview with Cassandra Delaney from Not Quite Hollywood is, what the title would suggest, a 15 minute interview taken from Mark Hartley’s amazing doco about the Australian Ozploitation films called Not Quite Hollywood.

On Location with Fair Game is about three minutes of behind the scenes footage of the scenes surrounding the destruction of the house with The Beast.

Behind the Scenes – 1985 TV Report from NWS9, Action News and Behind the Scenes – 1985 TV Report from ADS-7, State Affair are two news reports of the making of the film. By the looks of the channels it was for regional stations for some colour inbetween ‘real’ news.

Behind the Scenes with Dean Bennett is about an hour of behind the scenes material.

There is a bunch of promotional stuff like a theatrical trailer and an image gallery.

Storyboards shows a pretty cool series of storyboards for the film, shown as a slideshow with the score over the top.

Mario Andreacchio Short Films is obviously a series of short films by Andreacchio which honestly, I could make it all the way through. They do definitely explore the Australian youth experience though.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s not the greatest film ever made, but it’s so over the top you’ll definitely watch it more than once.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) Review

One from the re-watch pile…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

The cover of the Steelbook edition of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Film: I did not like this film at all when I first saw it. I didn’t understand the decisions that had been made, and I didn’t like some of the story choices. I wanted Star Wars to be like MY Star Wars!

After seeing it for the second time though I realised something greater than that though: it ISN’T my Star Wars anymore, and now that it is controlled by Disney, it doesn’t fall into the mistakes of what is the issue with the prequels were, and even The Force Awakens. Many complained that TFA just felt like a remake of Star Wars… well, this does NOT feel like a remake of The Empire Strikes Back.

It would seem that Disney are taking a similar step with the SW universe as it is with the Marvel Universe movies: find different directors to make the films so they have a different take on what we believe to be the status quo. Sometimes, like with the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, it works spectacularly and sometimes, like with Thor Ragnarok, it fails miserably.

Daisy Ridley as Rey

The Last Jedi is a continuation of the Skywalker family legacy and picks up after the events of The Force Awakens. Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in hope to learn the art of the Jedi, only to find him a reclusive who clearly has NO intention of ever teaching her, and with that emotional abandonment, she is somehow psychically linking to the First Order’s evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who is offering her something different…

Meanwhile, the Resistance, led by General Organa (Carrie Fisher), is under constant attack by the First Order, and are trying to find ways to save themselves. Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) travel to the casino planet Canto Bight in the hope of finding assistance, whereas Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaacs) prefers a more direct approach and will even commit acts of mutiny to get what he believes is right.

All in the background is the threat of the First Order’s Snoke (Andy Serkis), but will the good guys prevail, or will this middle part of a trilogy leave us with more questions than answers?

This first time I saw this film, I hated it. There is no other way around it, I thought it was a travesty, but upon watching it again, and listening to director Rian Johnson’s musings on the story, I have an appreciation of it I didn’t have previously. I still think there are a few story ideas that didn’t work, and the economy of cinema is not present, specifically with the Canto Bight scene which could be excised from the film without making any different to the outcome of the film.

It’s 30 odd minutes of wasting time for no reason other than to have a ‘cantina’ or ‘Jabba’s palace’ styled sequence.

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker

Tragically some of the casting is off too. As much as I dig Benicio Del Toro, he and the entire sequence he is in is a worthless waste of time, and Rose just seems like a Star Wars nerd has snuck onto the set, killed an actor and hid her body, and then replaced the real thing. Other than that, the cast is as good as they ever were.

There were some frustrating decisions made too. A fan-favourite from the original films is killed off quite early in the film only to be replaced with a character who was previously in the novels, which means if you haven’t read those she’ll mean NOTHING to you and you’ll wonder why you are supposed to care. Watchers of the films shouldn’t need external devices to make them care about a character.

What I do have to really say about this film is how beautiful it is. Even though on the surface we see some elements reminiscent of previous films, we also get to see some really different and inventive character, vehicle and even environment designs.

The important thing is though that the story moves in a different direction to what anyone thought, and maybe the criticisms come from those of us, me included, who think we KNOW what is good for Star Wars.

I couldn’t quite explain to people how I felt about this film until I listened to someone talk about their sportsball team. People who passionately love their team follow them through thick and thin, and usually no matter how bad they go in their respective league. The Last Jedi is my team not doing very well, but I’ll continue to support ‘my team’ as I really do love them. Star Wars is an intrinsic part of my DNA and I can’t imagine ever HATING it because one or two films haven’t lived up to my expectations.

I now do enjoy this film, but I think if a film has to explain itself with it’s supplementary Bluray/ DVD stuff, or if characters are introduced in other mediums like books or comics and that means I’m supposed to care about them in the films, it’s still not a great film.

Score: **

The menu screen of the Bluray of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Format: This film was reviewed using the Australian multi-region Bluray, an immaculate presentation, perfect in every way. It’s presented in a 2.39:1 image with a 7.1 DTS-HDMA audio.

Score: *****

Extras: As one would expect, this edition (and I say “this edition” as no doubt there will countless other releases) has a great bunch of extras on it, and honestly I felt it was a strange and interesting bunch of extras.

Disc One

The only extra feature on disc one is an audio commentary by Rian Johnson, and he clearly loves the fact he got to direct a Star Wars film, and he expertly explain decisions he made through the film, whether they were successful or not is up to we, the viewers.

Disc Two

The first is a feature length documentary called The Director and the Jedi which is a fascinating insight into the decisions that Johnson made with this film. It looks at all the aspects of the film and even bravely looks at Hamill’s disagreement with the things that happened in the script. I admit that I hated The Last Jedi at first, but after watching this I have a greater appreciation of the decisions made, and no longer detest it like I did.

Balance of the Force is a ten minute addendum to the previous extra, but I think watches more like someone justifying their decisions that have been judged as bad by the fan base. It’s weird actually, both these extras are like Disney’s trying to justify their employment of Disney.

Scene Breakdowns looks at a few scenes and their creation, from the story idea to the execution. This is divided into three extras: Lighting the Spark: Creating the Space Battle, Snoke and Mirrors and Showdown on Crait. I love special effects features so these were all of great value to me.

Andy Serkis Live (One Night Only!) shows all of Serkis’ performance as Snoke, but without the ILM effects posted on his mo-cap suit.

There’s a bunch of deleted scenes of various lengths that can be watched either with or without a commentary by the director, which I always find interesting as to why some choices were made to throw out a section. It’s interesting that some of these scenes would be placed far better in the film than the entire Canto Bight sequence.

Score: *****

WISIA: It being a Star Wars film, yeah, I’m gonna watch it again, but I’m still not going to think of it like The Empire Strikes Back or Rogue One which I think are absolutely perfect.

Carrie Fisher as General Organa

Insidious (2010)

One from the re watch pile…

Insidious (2010)

Film: One thing I have found odd about cinema at the moment is that there is heaps of supernatural horror that’s popular to a mainstream audience. I am sure there is some kind of psychological reason that the general public is shying away from ‘real’ human killers in their horror, but I’m no psychologist so I can’t really comment on that.

What we have here is a film from Australia’s very own James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the creators of the Saw series and The Conjuring franchise, so Hollywood must love them with their ability to milk the cash cow.

Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) have just moved into a new house but strange things start to happen after their son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) has a minor fall off a ladder. Dalton goes into an undiagnosable coma and Renai decides after several bizarre encounters with various ‘things’ that the house is haunted, so they quickly move house again.

At the new house the family attempts to restart their lives but quickly discover that the house wasn’t haunted but instead, THEY are. Josh’s mother, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey) Steps in with some information and a contact, psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye)

Aaaaaaand then it hits the halfway point, and becomes a farce.

Elise and her assistants, the ridiculous Tucker (Angus Sampson) and Specs (Leigh Whannell), come to investigate their claims, using such tools as a View Master Reel and other devices more ridiculous than anything Egon Spengler created in Ghostbusters, and then the film turns into a parody of Poltergeist, with the couple finding out their son has been taken to ’The Further’, which is basically the same as where Carolanne is taken in that same film.

The usual generic crap takes place with a visit the The Further in search of not his body, but his ASTRAL body which is what has been kidnapped by Darth Maul… I mean, a demon.

Will they get their son back? Will I care? Will this piece of crap spawn two sequels two date because people will watch anything if the marketing is good enough?

After an amazing opening with a likeable cast and a pretty interesting set up, even though it’s another stupid haunted house movie, is devolves into sloppy writing and generic imagery that has been done over and over again, even to the point Wan has even stolen from himself with some of the design looking like the Dead Silence dolls and ghosts, and then FROM here with some of the elements in The Conjuring.

Mostly Wan’s direction is pretty good, and the performances he gets from Wilson and Byrne make them immediately sympathetic protagonists, and he cleverly uses a few tricks from Mario Bava via Dario Argento to occasionally have some impressive looking scenes, which is usually spoiled by using the fast motion camerawork found in film clips by Marilyn Manson 20 years ago.

It’s a real tragedy when a promising first act gets crapped on by a disappointing second and third. Don’t bother with this film at all, unless it’s on free-to-air.

Score: *1/2

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian, region B Bluray which runs for approximately 105 minutes and is presented in an amazing and clean 2.40:1 image with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with trailers for Tucker and Dale Vs Evil, The Beaver and The Tree of Life before we are presented with the menu.

Horror 101: The Exclusive Seminar isn’t really a seminar about horror, but instead is the filmmakers explaining what they decided to write within the confines of this film, and how they decided to turn some of the tropes of traditional horror on its head.

On Set With Insidious is one of those usual ego-strokes where all the cast and crew talk about how awesome each other are, and this is all intercut with behind the scenes footage of the production.

Insidious Entities looks at the ghosts and demons of the film.

There is also a trailer for the film.

Score: ***

WISIA: I hate this post-millennial ghost story crap thats completely dependent of jump scares rather than actually being frightening, and the only reason I watched it again was for the benefit of you, dear reader, so you won’t have to.

31 (2015)

One from the to watch pile…

31 (2015)

Film: There is no doubt that I am an unabashed Rob Zombie fan. I loved the first album of his that I got years ago from Utopia records in Sydney, which must have been La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume one in the early 90s, and I’ve been a follower ever since.

I was pretty stoked ten or so years later too when I discovered that he was going to translate his monster fandom and image to the silver screen, and I, to date, have enjoyed all his films…

Ok, H2 was a misstep and the less said about that the better. In actual fact, I should also, for full disclosure, state that I absolutely LOVE Lords of Salem!

A group of Carnival workers, including Roscoe (Jeff Daniel Phillips), Charley (Sheri Moon Zombie), Venus (Meg Foster), Levon (Kevin Jackson) and Panda (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) are traveling in a bus to their next gig when they are stopped by a mysterious road block in the middle of the night.

Unfortunately for them they are captured by the goons controlled by Father Murder (Malcolm McDowell), Sister Dragon (Judy Geeson) and Sister Serpent (Jane Carr) who once a year at Halloween put a group of people they kidnaped through a trial where they have to survive a gauntlet populated by a bunch of murderous people such as Sick-head (Pancho Moler), Psycho-head (Lee Temple), Sex-head (Elizabeth Daily) and the unstoppable Doom-head (Richard Brake).

They have 12 hours to survive whilst being pursued by these clown-faced torturers and all the while, Murder, Dragon and Serpent place bets on who will survive the longest… but will any of them survive at all?

The thing I find weird about where Zombie has gone with this film is all the criticisms that i’ve heard about his other films, he seems to have attempted just to distill them together in one film. Essentially this film starts as a homage… tribute (?)…. rip-off (!)… to Texas Chain Saw Massacre before descending into a pastiche of Zombie’s previous films.

The worst crime committed is that the protagonists are unlikable jerks, so there is no threat. In actual fact you look forward to them getting killed, and whilst that may have been the point, the payoff of their murders just isn’t awful enough or gory or inventive enough for it to enter torture porn territory.

Honestly this whole film seems to be a vehicle for Richard Brake, whose Doom-head character has some great monologues and he’s an impressive figure of evil within it, even though his dual switchblade weapons are a little boring and unimpressive considering.

Zombie’s usual visual style and mix of incidental music and songs for the soundtrack are all present here and still look as good as ever (if you like his style, which I do) and so that experience is another positive in a film which basically, was not very good.

Score: *1/2

Format: This film was reviewed with the Australian Monster Pictures region B Bluray release which runs for approximately 103 minutes, and it’s image is difficult to judge as it is full of Zombie’s trademark ‘grindhouse’ filmstock appearance, so to say this 16×9 image is perfect is not true, but the look is a deliberate and artificial construct by the auditing and effects process, so it is perfect for the effect it is attempting to provide. The audio, however is a perfect 5.1 soundtrack.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with trailers for other Monster Pictures releases The Greasy Strangler and Anti-birth before hitting the menu screen.

As far as extras are concerned, there are three behind the scenes galleries: one general one, one focusing on Zombie behind the camera and one of the photo shoot for the poster art. I don’t have much interest in static images on a disc made for moving images so this is essentially worthless to me.

At least there is also a trailer.

Score: *

WISIA: There’s much better films in Rob Zombie’s catalogue… actually there is better films in Andy Milligan’s catalogue. No, probably not ever again.