Don’t Knock Twice (2016)

One from the to watch pile…
Don’t Knock Twice (2016)


Film: After I watched this, but before I started the review I mentioned to a friend it was like all post-millennial ghost stories and wasn’t much chop, to which he pointed out two films, Sinister and We Are Still Here. I had to agree there have been exceptions, but in general, a good proportion of ghost stories at the cinema at the moment either riff in what we one called j-horror or borrow liberally, ie steal massively, from films like Insidious or The Conjuring… two series’ of films I have very little time for.

The best thing I can say about them is at least they aren’t Paranormal Activity films.

So why don’t I like these types of films? It’s quite simple: I don’t believe in ghosts, therefore the films hold no aspect of fear for me. Sure, there are scares I might flinch at, or at my wife’s scream when I watch them with her (which is why I see so many of them: she loves them), but outside of cinematic trickery, I just don’t find them scary!

This film also borrows a bit from the mythos of Freddy Krueger, with the concept of being taken to another reality where evil awaits. In this though the ‘other realm’ is on the other side of a door that has been ‘knocked twice’ upon, instead of Freddy’s distorted dream dimension, though both seem to be able to be manipulated by the ghost/ witch/ demon/ supernatural thingy.

I do have to give this film, Don’t Knock Twice, a little bit of credit in this department. At least director Caradog James has attempted something different with the script provided by Howl’s Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby. It really does attempt for a different spin on the post-millennial ghost story, but unfortunately the trappings and tropes of those tales are so ingrained, and there is such apparent necessary visual and audio language now that it’s hard to avoid and still make the punter get what he’s seeing.

You know, because us fans of cinema are dumdums.

It also borrows quite heavily from the ideas behind Candyman and Urban Legend 3, you know, the ‘Beetlejuice’ effect: you do something a particular amount of times and it will bring about a haunting from a person, so whatever you do don’t say ‘whatever’ three times, or in this case, whatever you do… Don’t Knock Twice…


Recovering addict and scultptor Jess (Kate Sackhoff) is attempting to get her life and family back on track, which includes being reunited with her estranged daughter Chloe (Lucy Boynton) after she was put in foster care several years ago, but the reunion comes at a cost.

You see, Chloe and her boyfriend pissed off the spirit of a woman who was accused of being a child murderer by the local children, but did she do it, and how can our heroines undo the curse that has been done?


There is some elements of the ‘family drama’ aspect of this, and Sackhoff and Boynton are really good in their roles. In actual fact, Sackhoff proves herself to be somewhat of an amazing actress in this role of dubious mother figure, and her and teenage daughter Boynton’s relationship rings as true. Actually if this had have been a family drama about a mother/ daughter relationship and NOT a horror film it would have been cast perfectly, but it is a horror film, and the generic ghost aspects and tropes of the post-millennial ghost story are so apparent you could play bingo with it.

Urban myth: tick. J-horror look to the ‘ghost’: tick. Mysterious face at the window: tick.

BINGO!

To it’s credit the script does make attempts to twist the tale a couple of times, but the payoff of each twist doesn’t really work, and is telegraphed far too early and then fizzle out.

It’s well directed too and this is where the problem lies in reviewing such a film: well directed, well acted, but generic. I have to applaud the filmmaking and the performances but if what they are conveying as a story is very good, well why bother?

That, unfortunately, is where it stands: don’t bother.

Score: **


Format: This movie was reviewed on the Australian region B release BD, which runs for approximately 93 minutes. It being a modern film in a modern format, as one would expect, both the 2.40:1 image and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track are fantastic. The blue tone given to much of the film almost makes it cold to watch. 

Score: *****

Extras: No extras for YOU!

Score: 0

WISIA: I can honestly say I will never watch this film again.

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Under the Bed (2012) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Under the Bed (2012)


Film: Sometimes I’ll pick up a film because of the price, and in this case, I decided that $6.98 was a fair price for a horror movie that runs for 87 minutes… that’s barely 8 cents per minute of entertainment! That’s a damn great deal! Especially when you consider it’s directed by Steven C. Miller, who did the remake of Silent Night and written by Eric Stolze… no, not Eric Stoltz: this is a different guy. This guy wrote Late Phases, he didn’t star in Mask.

This movie is quite a simple one: after his mother died, Neal (Jonny Weston) was sent away to be home schooled by his aunt and go through some therapy. Our tale starts with his return to the old homestead when he is greeted by his dad, Terry (Peter Holden), his new step-mother Angela (Musetta Vander)and his younger brother, Paulie (Gattlin Griffith).


Things aren’t quite right at home though. The reason Neal was sent away was his mother died in a house fire because she believed his horrible secret: he’s being haunted by a creature that is living under his bed, and now the thing has found that Neal has a brother!

So now it’s two brothers against one thing, but can the two of them be victorious over the thing under the Bed?

The only problem I had with this film is the flat out reason that this film was like a remake of The Boogeyman with a few tweaks. From the ‘return of the prodigal son’ to the ‘thing that lives in the darkness’ and ‘the cure girl next door whose interested in the male lead’… you could possible make a bingo sheet from plot points of Boogeyman, and use it for this film. It also suffers from not wanting to give away too much, and ultimately just not telling a complete story.

Unfortunately in a thing which exists to convey story, that’s a pretty big problem. The shame of the situation is that the acting is pretty good, the direction is fine and unlike The Boogeyman, this has no problem spreading the blood and gore around… there is some real grisly deaths and a practical monster that may be a little generic, but you see just enough of it for it to work.


Also I have a new cinema crush in the form of Musetta Vander: she’s like a more busty, mumsy version of Jeri Ryan/ Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager.

Visually great but with real problems in the storyline department, this movie ultimately fails, and I possibly didn’t quite get my 8 cents per minutes worth.

Score: **


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian region 4 DVD which the DVD cover claims runs for approximately 87 minutes. It doesn’t, it runs for about 83 minutes, and 3 minutes of that is just end credits. This film image is presented in 2.40:1 and is crisp, though it is quite a dark film, so I suggest you watch it in a completely darkened room, and the audio is an an equivalently good Dolby Digital 5.1.

Score: ****

Extras: You want extras? Well tough: there’s none, but what do ya want for under $7?

Score: 0

WISIA: In short, probably no.

The Darkness (2015) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Darkness (2016)


Film: I like bacon on everything: burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, and even films. In general I can say I like films that have Kevin Bacon in them as he has quite a presence.

I’m not quite sure if he’s a fine actor, but sometimes he just nails parts that are handed to him, and I’ll site Flatliners, Cop Car and Death Sentence amongst those that really made me sit up and take notice… and I reckon I’ll include The Darkness in one where a fairly generic story is raised by Bacon’s performance, and for that matter so-stars Radha Mitchell, David Mazouz and Lucy Fry.

Lucy Fry is also known for her appearance in the TV series of Wolf Creek, which was created by Greg McClean, as is this film, which he directed and co-wrote with the writers of the fantastic Australian film Acolytes, Shayne Armstrong and Shane Krause.

The Taylor family, father Peter (Bacon), mother Bronny (Mitchell), and children Stephanie (Fry) and Michael (Mazouz) have been on a camping trip with some friends, and young autistic Michael has discovered some pebbles with runes on them inside a cave where a strange Native American village once stood.


Michael’s communication issues cause him to not tell the rest of the family about his stones, and he becomes, all of the sudden, very possessive of the backback he keeps them in.

The family starts having problems, and weird things start happening around the house as whatever it is that Michael has brought into the house starts to eat into their fear and escalate their failings. Michael in particular starts acting strange, and then the weird occurrences start taking place… and then all hell breaks loose.


Peter’s boss, Simon (Paul Reiser) suggests they get in touch with a psychic his wife knows to see if they can alleviate the situation… but will they provoke it instead?

For me this was a well acted, well cast, well directed film but the story suffers from being so generic, as far as the ‘haunting’ aspect goes. The familial issues are right out of a decent drama film and are probably the best part of the script especial with the delicate subjects of autism, bulimia, alcoholism and adultery, but all the ghost story stuff reads like a megamix, best-of, greatest hits album of ghost movies, and the lack of originality makes the story suffer, which is a shame as all the other, previously mentioned stuff is quite good.

With a better, more original story this had the potential of being some great, rather than something sub-average. Shame.

Score: **1/2


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was an Australian region 2, 4 and 5 DVD which has a flawless 2.40:1 image and a matching Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The film runs for approximately 88 minutes.

Score: ****

Extras: There is an alternate ending which runs for about 9 minutes and honestly is the far better, ‘shocking’ ending. Also we have 9 deleted scenes which whilst don’t move the story forward, do flesh out the characters and their various issues.

Score: **

WISIA: I’m not really a ghost story type so I can’t really see myself watching it again.

Easter Review: Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993) 

Happy Easter everyone! Hope you are enjoying your eggs and get to spend some time with the ones you love. The guy from THIS particular film wanted to do that very thing, but got more than he bargained for…
‘Tis the day of resurrection, and so here is one from the re watch pile…

Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993)


Film: The first Return of the Living Dead film was a revelation to me when I saw it at Village Cinemas Sylvania when I was a teen. It was probably one of the first dates I ever took a girl on, and she never went out with me ever again.

Sorry Kylie.

Everything that was achieved in the film was amazing: art design, soundtrack, the cast… it felt like, to this little Australian suburban kid, what the American punk experience would be like, and then you throw something like zombies into the mix: astounding!

A few years later the sequel came out, and I was a slightly older teen then, but could immediately recognise that the new filmmakers hadn’t necessarily realised what made the first film what it was and filled the sequel with a real generic group of victims and they amped the dumb comedy up as they possibly didn’t have the skill Dan O’Bannon had with delivering the subtleties of black comedy.

By the time I had heard a third was coming out I was rolling my eyes, wondering how crap it could be… then I saw female lead Mindy Clarke on the cover of Fangoria and I though immediately,’ I gotta see this’. Looking like the daughter of a mating between Pinhead from Hellraiser and Trash from the first Return of the Living Dead, the contrast between the actress’ beauty and her ‘body modification gone bad’ appearance stunned me, and put this film in my headlights!


Whereas the first sequel had gone for laughs, this sequel written by John Penney (The Kindred) and directed by Brian Yuzna (Beyond Reanimator, Society), I had a pretty good idea that this movie was gonna be a trip.

Onto the film…

Julie (Mindy, now Melinda, Clarke) is desperate to see what goes on in her boyfriend Curt’s (J. Trevor Edmond) father, Colonel Reynolds’ military research facility. Curt, due to… well him being a teen and Julie being smoking hot… steals his father’s security card and sneaks in to find out what is going on.


What IS going on is that Colonel Reynolds is a part of a team who are trying to use 2-4-5 Trioxin, a chemical originally created to destroy marijuana but had the awful side effect of bringing the dead back to life, to try and create an army of controllable undead ‘bio-units’ to use in war instead of living soldiers.

They witness one of the experiments, and Julie becomes entranced by the idea of the Living Dead, hungry for brains.

Unfortunately, Curt and Julie have an accident and Curt decides to take Julie’s corpse to the lab to revive her, not knowing, or not caring, that she’ll become a zombie.

Of course she does become one, but finds that through self-mutilation she can control the urges up to a point… but how can a relationship work when one of the members is a reanimated corpse? Especially when you’ve upset the local gang… and maybe have bitten one of them…

This film is a blast; director Brian Yuzna isn’t the greatest director who ever lived, but what he lacks in talent he makes up for in enthusiasm and his ability to assemble a cast who can deliver a crazy story convincingly. Also, his lack of restraint when it comes to special effects is also something to be admired!

Black humour is one of those things than can easily not work, and the best thing they could of done with this story was keep it as the tragedy it was set up to be, which they did, and the whole tale works perfectly. Using some of the ideas proposed in the other two films, that is: being dead hurts, makes for a pretty interesting journey our heroes go on.

It’s atypical of most zombie films as there are actually few zombies! There’s no gigantic pandemic, no masses of the undead, just a couple of people in love making bad decisions… it even at times riffs on Frankenstein with its creator/ monster relationship. 

I do enjoy every second of it and recommend it to fans of the zombie genre.

Score: ****


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was performed on a region 1, USA release DVD which is about 10 years old. The film runs approximately 96 minutes with a not very sharp 16×9 image but with an OK Dolby 2.0 audio track.

Score: **

Extras: Surprisingly, this disc has three extras on it. There are two commentaries, one with director Brian Yuzna where he muses on the creation of the film and his cast and crew, and the other with actor Mindy Clarke, and second unit director Tom Rainone. Both are interesting, and it’s even more fascinating to hear about the making of a film from employer and employees.

There is also trailers for this film, and other Yuzna directed films Progeny, The Dentist, The Dentist 2 and Faust.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: I really like this film and honestly, probably haven’t seen it enough! It’s time it returned to a higher rotation!

Easter Review: Bunny the Killer Thing (2015)

It’s Easter and so I wanted to review a film for the kids about bunnies as Easter has some of its mythology based around the Easter Bunny and the delivery of chocolate eggs. Unfortunately I couldn’t stomach the saccharine sweetness of those films so I instead opted for this film, Bunny the Killer Thing.
Happy Easter.

One from the to watch pile…

Bunny the Killer Thing (2015)


Film: Normally I would do some kind of introduction to a film I’m reviewing, but I’m not going to preface this film with too much palaver as, well, I don’t quite know what to say. The cover to this Monster Pictures release claims it is a ‘must-see for any fan of wtf cinema.’

The most honest thing EVER written on a DVD slick EVER!

A group of friends are stopped on their way to a weekend away, drinkin’ and screwin’, at a cabin in the woods by a group of three men whose car has broken down. The friends offer the men an overnight stay as there are no nearby hotels, but what they don’t realise is these three men are in the employ of a scientist who has experimented on a man to turn him into a kind of a half human-rabbit mutant. 


The thing about rabbits though is, they mate… a lot, and so this hulking monster, with a giant mutant rabbit penis, wants nothing but, as he continually cries ‘PUSSY!’ and he won’t stop until he gets it ALL!

So an ever increasing bunch of strangers trapped in a cabin in the woods against a seemingly unstoppable monster with horror-comedy elements? Sounds like a 1980s, nudity filled, gorefest, but in actual fact it’s a 2015 tribute to those types of films made brilliantly by Joonas Makkonen from a story he wrote with Miika J. Norvanto, and it’s a blast.

The costume on the monster is actually just a really bad mascot costume with a gigantic dildo attached to it, but that can be forgiven as the story is actually interesting and engaging, and actually at times funny. The rest of the blood and gore is frequent and so stupidly inventive I can’t figure out why no one has ever thought of some of it before.

I mean, a beer can launching crossbow… surely someone came up with that before!

Actually, probably not, but I do have to admit I have never seen a penis being helicoptered as frequently in a film before. Ever. So that was new too.


Many films claim to be ‘tributes to 80s horror’ but some of them fail miserably. This film not only works as a tribute to 80s horror, it also works as a horror-comedy in its own right. A warning though to any who don’t like subtitles, this is both in Finnish and in English, so some of it may require a bit of reading. Please don’t let that stop you from watching though, because it’s a hoot.

Score: ****


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian region 4 DVD which runs for approximately 88 minutes and is presented in an excellent 16×9 widescreen presentation with an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: There is a couple of decent extras on this disc. 

The first is the original short film ‘Bunny the Killer Thing’ which actually goes for about 20 minutes or so, and is more of the same, and still entertaining.

Promotional Demo and Demo Teaser are two trailer, basically, for the short film of BtKT.

There is also a trailer.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: There are two reason why I will watch this again. The first is to show it to friends so I can see the same incredulous look on their faces when it finishes, and the other is because it is so bat-shit crazy it deserves another viewing!

Easter Review: Critters 2 (1988) 

Happy Easter from the To Watch Pile! Thanks for your continued support. Over the next three days we’ll have three special reviews JUST for Easter!
One from the re watch pile…
Critters 2 (1988)


Film: In the 80s, after Gremlins, every movie company wanted to try their hand at a little furry monster film. The difference is, whilst it took Gremlins several years to pop out a sequel, other series’ came and went, like Troll, Ghoulies and this series Critters.

For me, Critters didn’t grab me… well, not until this sequel which came out a few years later me and I totally dug it. The beautiful thing about this sequel was it realised that the premise, and the Critters, were a little stupid and decided to amp up the comedy aspects. This also may be due to the trend of horror films at the time was to make ‘horror comedies’ at every opportunity, thanks to Freddy K and the humour that had been injected into his series.

For me this was the best idea, and it really works. Sure a lot of the jokes refer to other movies (and with Mick Garris co-writing and directing, you can guarantee a Stephen King joke is gonna slip in there too) and if I’m totally honest, there is a load of Dad-jokes throughout the preceding.

Our story tells of Bradley Brown (Scott Grimes), who has returned after two years to his home town which several years ago had been the victim of an alien incursion by little furry eating machines called ‘Krites’.


Unfortunately for Bradley, his return also heralds a return of the Krites as a local antiques dealer purchases a bunch of Krite eggs that have been dormant (they’ve been in a cold barn) for this whole time. As soon as he puts them in his warmer antiques shop, they begin to hatch, but not before he sold some to a local childcare centre so they can paint them for their Easter parade.

Bradley teams up with the daughter of the town newspaper editor, Megan (Liane Curtis) and intergalactic shapechanging bounty hunters Ug (Terrance Mann) and Lee (played by various actors including scream queen Roxanne Kernohan and professional nerd Eddie Deezen), and their human sidekick, former town drunk Charlie (Don Keith Opper) to fight the Krites, but will the small town of Grover’s Bend be able to survive another alien attack? 


Mick Garris is one of those directors who doesn’t do anything special with his direction, but really conveys a story brilliantly and he does so here. The sense of whimsy in this film is present all the way through and it seems clear the cast and crew had fun making it. As I previously stated, there are several dad jokes and some sound effects added to visual jokes that make a slightly amusing scene even funnier. 

The cats is extraordinarily likable and you can also spot support acting regulars like Lin Shaye (Insidious), Barry Corbin (No Country for Old Men) and Sam Anderson (Ouija:Origin of Evil): I kid you not, these last two faces will make you point at the screen and go ‘that’s the guy from the thing with the man in that TV show’. 

One warning though: Cynthia Garris has written a jingle for the towns fast food restaurant ‘Hungry Heifer’ that is so insidiously catchy that you’ll find yourself humming it for days later.

I thoroughly enjoy this film and of the 80s horror-comedies, which I don’t REALLY called horror, it’s one of my comfort-food styled favourites, liked a celluloid hot chocolate.

Score: ****


Format: The review of this film was performed with the New Zealand (which is really a ratings re-stickered Australian one) Region 4 DVD which runs for approximately 82 minutes and is presented in a good 1.85:1 image with an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Only a trailer I’m afraid.

Score: *

WISIA: Oh yeah I’ll watch this film again and again… and not just for Roxanne Kernohan! It’s a hoot!

Doctor Strange (2016) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Doctor Strange (2016) Review


Film: Disney and its Marvel movies: that unstoppable juggernaut that is telling one gigantic tale. The series of films that as they go on, people who are behind need to spend even more time attempting to catch up. The series of films that some blindly follow as if they are the ultimate form of cinematic storytelling. The series of films that will eventually implode due to either the fact that no viewer will want to accept a replacement Tony Stark or Steve Rogers (when the actors get too old to play them), that the weight of how many films you need to watch becomes inconceivable or just cinema moves on and away from superhero movies.

… and don’t think that won’t happen: it has before! Ask all those failed superhero films that fell apart, or worse, failed at the box office, after 1989’s Batman. I still to this day wish that the Plastic Man film with Paul Ruebens had been made!

To their credit, I have enjoyed most of them, but noticed some of them have been shoehorned into the series for no reason other than to introduce the character, which I feel the first Thor was like, and others have had their inclusion in the Marvel Universe forced upon us, like the ‘Falcon’ scene in Ant-man. I do have to admit to getting a minor twinge of excitement when I watch them though, having been a lifelong comics reader.

Doctor Strange was one film I was quite interested to see how it would pan out. The visual style of the early comics, especially those drawn by Steve Ditko were going to be a MAJOR part of how the film should look, but they were so way out, and so revolutionary in their art design that I couldn’t actually perceive how it would translate to cinema.


Thankfully, they managed to pull that part of the design off, but I found another few problems within the film. Much like the movies, the comic of Doctor Strange, invented by comic legend Stan Lee and the aforementioned artist Ditko, was invented to show a more mystical side of the Marvel Universe after so much had been science based, like mutations, or radiation.

Our story introduces us to pompous blowhard surgeon Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) who whilst driving, and picking and choosing which medical case he should help to further his career, has an accident which destroys his hands.

He spends his fortune on trying to get them rebuilt so they can be used again, but instead finds salvation in a place that a skeptical man of science wouldn’t: spiritualism.

He meets a man who’s irreparable backbone is seemingly fixed and he attributed it to the teachings of the citizens of Kamar-Taj, and so Strange journeys to Kathmandu hoping for a quick fix, but what he finds is that the teachings of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) do much more for him than just fix his hands.

Strange is a quick and cheeky student and quickly is caught up in a skirmish within Kamar-Taj’s ranks when renegade student Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) steals pages from a mystical book so he can destroy the barrier between the astral planes letting the ancient being Dormammu (also played by Cumberbatch) take control.

Strange, along with disciples of the Ancient One, Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong) band together to try and stop Kaecilius, but will they all survive the time-bending will of this being from another dimension? Only the end of the film will know for sure!

This being a Marvel film, don’t forget to stray for two post credit sequences, one which reveals this film’s link to the rest of the Marvel films, and also a revelation as to whom may be Strange’s villain in a sequel, should it come about…

I had high hopes for this film as Strange has always been an amazing comic, so visually exciting that I couldn’t wait to see how it would be executed. The initial trailers depressed me as all I could see was a visual rip off of Inception, but I’m glad to say that those thoughts were abated by the actual film. 


There was a lot to like in this film. The cast, for the most part, play their parts well, and the production design is fantastic, and I have to say that to not have the ending being a gigantic slugfest, but instead something more cerebral was a nice change for a superhero film. The inclusion of Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, one of the three main characters from a brief seventies comic called Night Nurse, is pretty cool. Mads Mikkelson and Benedict Wong both deserve a mention too as their performances are excellent.

The special effects are particularly amazing. I love how Marvel films push the envelope and really explore every technical thing they can do, and can’t do yet, to get the visual comic-ness happening in the film.

My criticisms of this film lies in only one area, but it repeatedly took me out of being ‘in’ the film: Cumberbatch’s American accent. My wife used to be a big fan of the TV series House, but I couldn’t stand it for one reason: Hugh Laurie’s awful American accent, and I feel Cumberbatch’s accent is similar here. It feels like a parody of the accent rather than an ‘actual’ cinematic American accent. That may seem petty, but every time he opened his mouth I was reminded that he was a British actor playing an American, and being removed from the roller coaster ride of a film so regularly makes it difficult to enjoy. That inability to maintain my suspension of disbelief made the film somewhat of a chore to watch. That may seem petty, but it was like being repeated interupted during the film, and I just had trouble investing my full attention into it due to that.

Overall I enjoyed the story of the film, but I couldn’t get INTO it due to the accent factor I mentioned above. I like to be absorbed by a film, and this didn’t do it for me.

Score: **


Format: As one would expect from a modern film on bluray, this looks magnificent. This film was reviewed on the Australian Bluray, which runs for approximately 114 minutes and is presented in 2.39: 1 image with an outstanding DTS-HD 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: As expected on a Marvel Studios disc, there’s more extras than you can poke a stick at!

There’s a bunch of featurettes including which explore the creation of the film: A Strange Transformation (which looks at the character of Doctor Strange himself), Strange Company (an exploration of the co-stars), The Fabric of Reality (looks at the costuming and production design of the film), Across Time and Space (more production design but now with the more dimensional aspects of the Strange world) and The Score-cerer Supreme (obviously, about the score to the film as created by Michael Giacchino). These featurettes can be watched separately or as a whole, which I think is a far better way to watch it.

Marvel Studios Phase 3 Exclusive Look explores where the Marvel films have come from, their impressive ability to make one story from different titles (which, like I mentioned, could also be there downfall), and where they are going to upon entering phase 3.

Team Thor Part 2 is an amusing look at what Thor has been doing whilst ‘off duty’ which is basically being a bum and torturing his flat mate in Australia.

Deleted and Extended Scenes features 5 scenes not seen in the film, my favourite being Strange meeting Daniel Drumm, who Marvel fans will not as being the brother of Brother Voodoo, the 70s horror character, and one time Sorcerer Supreme. Typically, none of these scenes move the story forward so the film is better or without them.

As using there is a Marvel gag reel, which is professional actors screwing around. Hilarious.

We also have a pretty cool commentary with Scott Derrickson, the director of the film, and it’s one of those interesting commentaries where the director is quite invested in the project.

Score: *****

WISIA: I’ll probably only watch it again if I binge watch the entire Marvel catalogue, otherwise, probably not.

The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) Review

One from the re-watch pile…
The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

 

FilmAs a teenager, in addition to horror movies, I loved fantasy and science fiction. Of course Star Wars and it’s sequels were high on the list, as were the Conan movies, but I also was a fan of the second tier films of those genres. I love the cheapo rip offs that Roger Corman gave us like Battle Beyond the Stars, and I especially loved ANY fantasy film I could get my grubby little hands on.

There is not much in fantasy films for a teenage boy not to like: adventurous stories (like those in the Dungeons and Dragons games we played), muscular heroes we aspired to be, bodacious busty babes we aspired to have fawning over us, a cache of weapons at our disposal and best of all, gigantic mythical beasts to either ride, or fight.

This was the first feature for Albert Pyan, who most action film fans will appreciate the name of, even though he did give us the awful Arcade (1993) and made a horrible attempt at a Captain America film in 1990, starring Matt Salinger, as a genre legend who has been in the industry for over 30 years, making enjoyable schlocky indie action films that are a blast to watch. Pyun also co-wrote the script for this film with one-and-done writers John Stuckmeyer and Tom Karnowski, both of whom had other careers in film, but not in the writing department.

Our story begins with Titus Cromwell (Richard Lynch) employing the skills of sorcerer Xusia (Richard Moll) so he can overrun a kingdom he has previously been unable to conquer.


Of course, because he is played by Richard Lynch, Cromwell turns on the sorcerer once his employ has been finalized and his army is seemingly unstoppable… but is it?

The son of the King, Talon (played as a boy by James Jarnigan, but eventually by Lee Horsley) is issued a three bladed sword by his father King Richard (Christopher Cary) which he is supposed to use to defend his mother should the king fall in battle.

The king does fall and Talon has to go into hiding, and avoids capture by Cromwell, eventually becoming a mercenary and upon the 11th anniversary of Cromwell’s victory, begins a campaign to reclaim his heritage… 


This film has all the trappings of fantasy films and follows the formula to a T, but its a formula that obviously works as many films have done it ever since… realistically its the hero’s journey formula, so not just fantasy films use it: most films with action as their base use it.

The Sword and the Sorcerer uses it well though and the warriors are tough, but human, with just a touch of scoundrel thrown in. In the post Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars world in which this exists, that’s not surprising.

The action is occasionally hokey but has a ridiculous charm to it, and the acting is pure over-dramatized to the point its almost parody, but it sits perfectly with the confines of the film.

The actors chosen aren’t just the musclebound oafs that fantasy eventually promoted, and are far more in the tune of finely honed athletes, and the women are all beautiful: lucky for fantasy lands the dental plans are amazing.


I couldn’t continue with mentioning how awesome the score is too. Written by David Whitaker, it is a bombastic as one would expect a fantasy film of its ilk should be. I have it on vinyl and it gets a regular spin at my place… I certainly feel more heroic whilst doing the dishes when its on.

For me this is a perfect example of fantasy and I really enjoy watching it still after all these years.

Score: ****


Disc: This review was performed on the Australian release, region 4 DVD and runs for approximately 96 minutes. The film is presented in 16×9 widescreen and at best is an image that barely rises above VHS which is a shame. The soundtrack however is presented in either Dolby 2.0 or 5.1 and sounds just fine. I cant give this disc a high score though as the image is quite nasty.

Score: **

Extras: There’s a couple of extras on this. 

First we have  two theatrical trailers and one TV spot, the funny thing about the trailers is the first one has gore and blood and boobs in it, and the second is a more ‘G’ (or maybe in those days ‘NRC’) rated event, with no blood, and the harem girl scene has all the women suddenly with clothes…BOOOOO HISSSSS!

There is a commentary by director Albert Pyun and host Chris Gore which nicely discusses the making of this film and the trials to make it. Its a great commentary which has a nice flow and is fascinating.

Also on this disc we have trailers for The Beastmaster, Barbarian Queen and The Perils of Gwendoline, all of which I’d watch without a second thought!

Score: ***

WISIA: I’ve watched it a hundred times and I’ll watch it a hundred more!

The Apparition (2012) Review

One from the re-watch pile…

The Apparition (2012)

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Film: Sometimes I wonder HOW a film gets made. Do producers come up with a concept after watching a few films, or hearing about the popularity of a few films, and think,’ I could hire some people to do something like this’ OR is it a case of a writer or director see the popularity of a type of film and attempt to emulate it?

Now I’m not aiming any particular criticism against writer/ director of The Apparition, Todd Lincoln, personally, but it seems to me that this is the case here. I mean, originality in cinema rarely exists outside of international films or the indie scene, but sometimes a film is SO generic that it almost feels like its a cynical parody, but not funny, of other films that are trying to be serious.

So why did I bother to ever watch this film in the first place? Well, my lovely wife was a fan of the Twilight films, and like many couples, we have a deal where we choose a film alternatively, but what she didn’t realise was I could suffer these films due to Ashley Greene, one of the more lovely of the vampires, and I have to say I’m not above seeing a film just due to a hot star… I maintain I saw Burying the Ex not due to Greene or Alexadria Daddario’s appearances, but instead due to my fandom of Joe Dante.

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Did that sound convincing? Good.

The other reason is I had never seen Tom Felton, better known as Draco Malfoy, in anything other than the Harry Potter films, a fantasy series that I quite enjoy. Now I’ve not seen this film since it was released, and didn’t realise that the Winter Soldier from the Marvel films, Sebastian Stan, has a lead role in this.

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SO what is the film about? Honestly with this forthcoming synopsis, I could have phrases such as ‘like in Poltergeist’ at the end of each sentence, but that would be unfair, so I’ll resist.

Our story starts with a double flashback, the first with some dodgy old film of a séance followed by another where Patrick (Felton), Ben (Stan) and Lydia (Julianna Guill) engaged in a psychic experiment in which Lydia is snatched and disappears.

Flash forward to now, and Ben and his far too hot girlfriend, Kelly (Greene) are living in a house on a new estate owned by her parents, but something strange is happening. It starts with a brand new cactus rotting, and continues with things moving around the house by themselves, wood rot coming through the floor and clothes strangely being ties in knots… but why is this happening? Could Patrick be restarting the experiments or has Ben been haunted all along….

This is one of those films where the main characters are so stupid you just want to shake them. If I found floor rot, I’d call someone to look at it; if I found doors unlocked and security cameras being wrecked, I’d call the police and if I found a giant thing in my kitchen that looked like a wasp’s nest, the first thing I’d do is call an exterminator, not poke it with a freaking broomstick!

Their is some emotional sharks that are jumped here as well, and Greene’s character seems to be unable to feel for her boyfriend’s loss of a previous girlfriend and instead seems to be simultaneously pissed off her had a relationship before her, and that whatever happened may also happen to her… even though they aren’t involved in the experiment.

Now please don’t let me make you think that Lincoln is anything but a pretty good director! The scenes are all set well, and the estate the house is in, which is in the middle of the desert, is pretty amazing.

It’s just the story of the film: it’s so lame and so run-of-the-mill, and made for that ‘I don’t like horror but I like ghost stories’ group who love the Paranormal Activity and Conjuring and Insidious group. Mix into those PG, dull films with an absolute shedload of j-horror imagery, and you’ve got a pretty boring bit of ‘entertainment.

Score: *1/2

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Disc: This review was performed on the Australian bluray release which thankfully only runs for 82 minutes. The feature is presented in a clean and clear 16×9 image with a fantastic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: Four extras on this disc, all of which exist to advertise Joshua P. Warren and his ghostly research:

The Apparition: A Cinematic Spectre sees a few of the cast discuss the film, and even they have trouble explaining what is going on, and meets Joshua P. Warren, the ghost advisor for the film. Yup: the ghost advisor.

The Dark Realm of the Paranormal is more promotional material for Warren, who spends 5 minutes talking about how he believes in absolutely everything paranormal.

Haunted Asheville looks at Warren’s book of the same name and the history of horrible things that happened throughout the town of Asheville.

The Experiment of the Apparition looks at Warren’s experiments in the paranormal.

All the extras on this disc seem to be farcical attempts to promote and quantify Warren and his team of ‘scientists’.

Score: **

WISIA: Greene is in her bikini and underwear for a few minutes, so that’s got to be a reason to watch it again, right? No, it’s not.

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