The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

One from the re watch pile…
The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

The cover of the Australian Umbrella release of The Devil’s Rejects


Film: When Rob Zombie burst onto the scene of filmmaker, temporarily turning his back on music, a lot of people were in anticipation of what he’d do, and his film The House of 1,000 Corpses burst onto the scene, dividing the horror community into haters and lovers of its obvious tribute to 70s exploitation film, but with the quick cut/ short attention span editing of the MTV and VEVO generation.

Looking like a 90 minute version of one of his film clips, 1,000 Corpses introduced us the the wonderfully awful Firefly family: Mother Firefly (played by Karen Black in that film, but by Leslie Easterbrook in this one), Tiny (Matthew McGrory), Rufus (Robert Allen Mukes originally, played by an uncredited Tyler Mane here), Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) and their obsession with murder, death and mayhem, but what happens when a family like that gets the police, who were bound to catch up with them eventually due to their sloppy forensic countermeasures, appearing, armed to the teeth on their front doorstep.

Zombie wrote and directed this film which won a bunch of Fangoria Chainsaw and Scream awards and was nominated for another whole bunch of awards including the Best Horror Picture for the Rondos and the Golden Schmoes, not to mention a Satellite award for its original DVD release…wow, was the 11 years ago already?!?

The Fireflys: Sid Haig, Sheri Moon Zombie and Bill Moseley.


This tale sees the Firefly family on the run from the law. Mother Firefly has been caught by the police, but Otis, Baby and Spaulding and on the run, taking various people prisoner along the way to assist in their escape.

Their big problem, though is a cop by the name of Sherrie Wydell (William Forsythe) whose capacity for dogged pursuit is infallible, and whose methods probably aren’t exactly ‘police procedure’.

Will our heroes (?) get away from the cops and the bounty hunters they hired (Danny Trejo and Diamond Dallas Page) and make their way to Spaulding’s brother, Charlie’s (Ken Foree), or will their lives end in a bloody shootout.

William Forsyth as Sherrif Wydell


As you can see by the list of cast members I’ve named so far, Zombie’s loves getting old school horror and exploitation actors but there’s heaps more: The Hills Have Eyes Michael Berryman, Night of the Comet’s Geoffrey Lewis, Lords of the Deep’s Priscilla Barnes, Halloween’s P.J. Soles, Dr. Alien’s Ginger Lynn… oh, the list goes on! It’s a 70s/ 80s horror film fan’s wet dream.

This is a pretty full-on film and the violence, both physical and mental, is not for the easily disturbed. Zombies cinematic language is in full swing too, with the heat of the desert, the dripping sense of sleaziness and slow motion shots that make you ache in anticipation, but here, unlike 1,000 Corpses, he uses them far more effectively.

I’m an unabashed fan of Rob Zombie, but not to the point where I think he is some infallible god of music and cinema. I really love House of 1,000 Corpses, but I am well aware of its failings. With this film though, Zombie has managed to distill what was right about that film and improve it. The Devil’s Rejects isn’t as good as say, The Lords of Salem (which I adore), but it’s pretty damned good. Watch it as a double with Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 For good measure!

Score: ****1/2

The menu screen for Umbella’s Australian Bluray release


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was done with Umbrella Entertainments Australian region B Bluray release which runs for approximately 110 minutes. The film is presented in a crisp and sharp 1.77:1 image with an amazing Dolby 6.1 audio track. 

Score: *****

Extras: Heaps of extras on this disc! Some of them are background ‘flavour’ bits from the film, but unfortunately no proper ‘making-of’.

Bloody Stand-up sees comedian Brian Posehn do a short stand up routine… whilst he has a bucket load of blood and make-up all over him.

Matthew McGrory Tribute is a nice short reflection on Matthew ‘Tiny’ McGrory’s life. He passed away just after the filming of this film and during the production of a biopic about wrestler Andre the Giant.

Buck Owens: Satan’s Got To Get Along Without Me is a filmclip of Buck Owens singing that very song. It’s twangalicious!

“Mary the Monkey Girl” Commercial is a commercial for Captain Spaulding’s latest attraction.

Captain Spaulding’s Xmas Commercial is a commercial for Spaulding’s Christmas promotion.

Otis’s Home Movies is footage of the depravities Otis committed upon his victims.

Deleted Scenes features 11 scenes deleted from the film. Normally I don’t have a problem with Scenes being removed from films but I would like to see an extended version with some of these back in.

Blooper Reel is actor’s screwing up, this one is a bit too long but it’s pretty funny.

Make-up Test looks at the actors in their costumes.its runs for well over ten minutes but the opportunity to see all the actors in their costumes is pretty awesome.

The Morris Green Show is a rip-off of 70s talk shows in the universe in which the movie exists.

If I am to have any objection to the presentation of the film, it’s the cover. I’m not impressed with the artwork and would have fathered seen something of the original movie posters for it. I’m not attempting to insult the art chosen as I quite like it, just not for this film’s cover.

Score: ****

WISIA: In General I love Rob Zombie’s films so I like to trundle this out now and again.

Victims of the Firefly’s carnage.

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The Fog (1980) Review

One from the re watch pile…
The Fog (1980)

The Australian Bluray cover


Film: There’s several people who are real heroes of cinema for me: Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento are amongst them, and John Carpenter really stands up there. He is responsible for several films that I really like, like Halloween, They Live and Prince of Darkness, but it’s not just that: his soundtracks that he himself creates sit directly in my love of synth music too. This movie, The Fog, is no exception.

I am not really a ghost/ supernatural fan when it comes to horror movies as I’d rather a slasher or a giallo or mutants or monsters: I like tactile, physical baddies and I think that comes from not believing in ghosts makes me not fear them. Sure a jump scare might alarm me, but I won’t walk away from the film traumatised.

That’s not to say I don’t still watch them though as even though the potential fear doesn’t scare me, I can still enjoy the story, performance and if I’m lucky, some chunky gore.

This is one of those times where the film is solid and the fact it’s a supernatural tale doesn’t matter.

The beautiful seaside town of Antonio Bay has a dark past where a ship full of lepers were killed when their boat was lead to its destruction. Now, 100 years later, the town is ready for its centenary under the guidance of Kathy Williams (Janet Leigh) but the local priest, Father Malone (Hal Holbrook) has discovered, hidden in the church, a diary telling the awful tale of the founding of the town, but the show must go on regardless.

Adrienne Barbeau… sigh.


A strange occurrence is happening on this celebration though: a mysterious fog is moving into town, and effecting the lives of the town including DJ Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau), fisherman Nick Castle (Tom Atkins) and a hitchhiker he has picked up, Elizabeth Solley (Jamie Lee Curtis) but what is in the fog killing people?

Could it be the spirits of the Dead coming back to haunt the descendants of the original families of Antonio Bay? Of course it is.

The first thing I have to say I love about this film is it’s cast: Psycho’s Janet Leigh, Night of the Creeps Tom Atkins, Magnum Force’s Hal Holbrook, Swamp Thing’s Adrienne Barbeau and of course Halloween’s Jamie Lee Curtis, to mention but a few.

Jamie Lee Curtis notices Tom Atkins’ moustache has stuck to his beer can.


This is film is clearly a Carpenter film as well, and I must say his surname suits perfectly as his stories me direction builds slowly and to a fantastic finale, as does his soundtrack… I love it when Carpenter scores his own films! 

This is no exception, and the record of this soundtrack gets a regular spin here at the To Watch Pile!

Really though, this film wins with its warm and likable characters who are victims of their ancestors crimes and potentially innocent themselves, and with Caroenter’s masterful handling of the pacing of the film.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen The Fog… or anything else by Carpenter, you need to fix that immediately.

Score: ****

Australian Bluray menu screen of The Fog


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian region A/B Bluray release, which runs for approximately 90 minutes, and is presented in a clear, but not wholly sharp, 2.35:1 image with a really nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: Crappy extras on this release, I’m afraid. There is an audio and video configuration test. What?

Score: 0

WISIA: It’s one of Carpenter’s best: you better believe it should be watched over and over again!

No shower scene for Janet Leigh here.

The Funhouse (1981) 

One from the re watch pile…
The Funhouse (1981)

Arrow’s UK Bluray cover of The Funhouse


Film: To most people, Tobe Hooper peaked early in his career with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but I disagree. I am not the world’s biggest fan of TCM at all, in actually fact I find it to be poorly paced, with a really great payoff, I’ll grant you, but with quite possibly the world’s most annoying character, Franklin.

For me though, it’s Hooper post TCM and 80s output I like better: Eaten Alive, Lifeforce, Invaders From Mars, and even Tcm’s sequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2! Another one of those I like is this film, The Funhouse, written by Larry Block aka Lawrence Block, whose only other real credit was the Matt Salinger Captain America movie made almost ten years after this.

Elizabeth Berridge in a not-so-famous shower scene.


The Funhouse tells of Amy Harper (Elizabeth Berridge) and her blond date, Buzz (Cooper Huckabee) along with friends, Liz (Largo Woodruff) and her boyfriend, Ritchie (Miles Chaplin) who decide, against Amy’s father’s wishes, to visit a travelling carnival, but they get more than what they bargain for.

They decide to spend the night in the Funhouse, but unfortunately bear witness to the carnival barker’s (Kevin Conway) deformed son (Wayne Doba), kill the sideshow fortune teller (Sylvia Miles) after an unsuccessful sexual transaction. 

So there they are, trapped in a carnival attraction overnight, pursued by madness… will they all survive.

Oh, the freak show is gonna have freaks (Wayne Doba)


I dig this film. It’s classic 80s with weirdo characters and ridiculous practical make-ups, obnoxious jocks who are the good guys, virginal heroines (who’s boobs we get to see, which is an odd juxtaposition), slutty ‘best’ friends who tease their friend about being virginal, and a bizarre environment.

The acting is of a level one would expect from a film of this era, but Kevin Conway in his multiple roles as three different carnival barkers adds a bizarre almost respectability to the whole film, even though he is as creepy as hell, and the ultimate abusive parental figure.

I only saw this film for the first time when this release came out in 2011, and have been a fan ever since, mainly due to the overall tone of the film and the fact that I am an 80s connoisseur, though the fact I find both Elizabeth Berridge and Largo Woodruff cute doesn’t hurt either.

Recommended for fans of 80s slashers.

Score: ***1/2

UK Bluray menu


Format: This Arrow U.K. Multi-region Bluray release runs for approximately 95 minutes and is presented in a nice 2.35:1 image with a good stereo 2.0 audio. As one would expect the image is slightly grainy at times, and fairly artefact free.

Score: ***

Extras: There’s no shortage of extras on this disc.

First, three… count them… THREE commentaries! One by film critic/ journalists Calum Waddell and Justin Kerswell, the next by Craig Reardon and Jeffrey Reddick, and the last by Derek Power and Howard S. Berger. They are three completely different styles of commentary but all have areas of interest.

Next there is a trailer for the film.

Carnage at the Carnival sees Tobe Hooper reflect on his experiences in the making of Funhouse.

Miles of Mayhem has Miles Chapin, who played Ritchie, recollect on his experiences on the film and how every decision his character made screwed the futures of the other main characters.

The Make-up Madness of Craig Reardon looks at Reardon’s history with special effects in Hooper’s films.

Masterclass of Horror sees fellow horror director, and creator of Masters of Horror, Mick Garris talk about Tobe Hooper.

Tobe Hooper Q &A is a fairly poor quality interview with Hooper around the time of the release of his 2004 film, The Toolbox Murders. Despite the quality, it’s an interesting Q & A.

Stills Gallery is a slideshow of the make up and other behind the scenes shenanigans.

This is one of Arrow’s releases that has the multiple covers, 4 in total, a poster of the film and an illustrated essay booklet by horror historian and author Kim Newman.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s a fun 80s slasher and yeah, I’ll be watching it again.

Largo Woodruff taunts her best friend for being a virgin.

Superman/ Batman: Apocalypse (2010)

One from the re watch pile…
Superman/ Batman: Apocalypse (2010)

The Australian Bluray cover


Film: As a comic fan, I possibly love these DC animated features more than the Marvel movies. I like the fact that every film doesn’t require an origin story of the character, and there is an assumption that the viewer KNOWS who Batman and Superman and Power Girl and whomever else is. Throwing out the need to have an origin story makes for a quicker start to the tale, and the DC universe creators are clever with their introductions as sometimes they are as simple as just sitting at a table in JLA headquarters!

The other thing is unlimited budget. The beautiful thing about animation (and comics) is it takes about the same amount of budget to create one explosion or fifty of them, also, it’s a lot easier to change a cast member when all you hear is their voice.

There is also the fact that they just tell good stories almost every time, and that is because they are based on the stories told in the comics, which were far better than any ‘live action’ adaptation. This in combination with some spectacular character design, and the inclusion of one of Jack Kirby’s greatest creations, Darkseid, and other denizens of his awesome Fourth World Saga characters, make for an epic tale.

During a meteor shower, ‘something’ crash lands in Gotham Harbour, making Batman go to investigate. Batman finds a spaceship of Kryptonian origins, a bunch of kryptonite, and a girl, Kara, the cousin of Superman!

Batman prefers hard rock over heavy metal.


Superman and Batman become an unusual parental unit for Kara, who we quickly find out was sent with baby Superman to protect him on Earth, but her ship was knocked off course, arriving so much later that Superman is now older in body that her, as her ships suspended animation kept her at a 16 year old girl’s age. Unfortunately, Batman’s mistrust causes a rift between them and her.

Meanwhile, on the God-world of Apokalips, the evil ruler Darkseid, is attempting to replace the traitorous Big Barda, who left his royal guard as its captain. He is entrusting Granny Goodness, the trainer of warriors, to find her replacement, but she is repeatedly failing. Darkseid has seen Kara fall from the sky too, and entrusts Goodness to capture her so she can become his new Captain.

Meanwhile, again, Batman has employed Wonder Woman to take her Paradise Island to receive proper training, which Superman agrees to, causing a rift between her and him.

With Kara’s disappointment in both her ‘parents’, once captured she is easily swayed to Darkseid’s manipulations… but will she become Darkseid’s greatest warrior?

Supergirl under Darkseid’s thrall.


This is a really cool story, and it shows a lot of the strong women that DC has to offer all in one story, although as a weird juxtaposition, it also has a bizarre sequence where Kara goes shopping in a Pretty Woman styled sequence, which seems to show that even above all the powers, she’s still ‘just a girl’. I don’t know why such a sequence exists in this film, and the film comes to a sudden stop to show it. I have to admit that when we see what she ultimately decides as her outfit, it’s a nice tribute to Laura Vandervoort’s Smallville outfit.

Another thing I like about it is how it links loosely to the previous Superman/ Batman movie, Public Enemies, with a mention of ‘President Luthor’s impeachment’.

There’s some awesome voice casting in this film as well. Kevin Conroy returns as the angry voice of Batman, as does Tim Daly as Superman. Summer Glau from Firefly performs Supergirl but the most inspired vocal choice is TV legend Ed Asner as Granny Goodness, it makes her look even weirder with his deep attempts at a woman’s voice.

All up, this is certainly one of the better DC animated features and for me being a big Kirby fan, it was a pleasure seeing so many of Kirby’s creations, like Big Barda, Granny Goodness, the Female Furies, Parademons, Hunger Dogs… just so many, on the screen.

Score: ****1/2

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian Bluray which runs for approximately 78 minutes and is presented in a crisp 1.85:1 visual with an clear cut and crisp DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

The Australian Bluray menu screen


Extras: The disc opens with previews for Batman: Under the Red Hood and The Lost Boys: The Thirst before making its way to the main menu.

Under the Special Features banner though is a huge bunch of stuff:

DC Showcase: Green Arrow is a cool 10 minute short highlighting Green Arrow. This is a really cool short that introduces the character of Green Arrow and also features other characters like Black Widow, Count Vertigo and Merlyn. DC only made a few of these and it’s disappointing that they dumped them. This features an awesome line up of actors doing the voices too: A Clockwork Orange’s Malcolm McDowell, Captain America: The First Avenger’s Neil McDonough, Scooby Doo’s Grey Delisle, Futurama’s John DiMaggio and Modern Family’s Ariel Winter!

Bruce Timm’s Top Picks features four episodes taken from Superman: The Animated Series: Little Girl Lost Part 1 and 2, and Apokalips Now! Part 1 and 2.

The Fourth World: The New Gods investigates Jack Kirby’s creation of the New Gods in the early 70s, and how important their creation was to DC at the time, and explores Kirby’s history as well, and how important he was to the history of comic books.

New Gods: Mister Miracle Pod is a distillation of Miracle’s origin.

News Gods: Orion Pod is the same as Miracle’s, but for Orion.

Supergirl: The Last Daughter of Krypton explores the history of the character of Supergirl, why she was so important to the DC universe, and why she continues to be relevant and popular today. Unfortunately this was made before the new TV series starring Melissa Benoist so there’s nothing included from that (at this point, Laura Vandervoort was still Supergirl from the Smallville TV show).

There are also trailers for the Lego Universe, the Jonah Hex motion comic, Batman: Under the Red Hood (again), Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and Superman/ Batman: Public Enemies.

The final extra is a sneak peak at what was the next release in the DC Animated Features, All-Star Superman.

Score: *****

WISIA: I love these DC animated features, and ALL of them get regularly watched… including this one.

Big Barda expresses her point.

Life (2017) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Life (2017)

Australian Bluray cover


Film: Have you ever seen a trailer for a film and had it cause a horrible disorder called UERS also known as Unstoppable Eye Roll Disorder? For me, when I first saw the trailer for Life I thought, ‘wow, they have remade but not name-checked Alien’, which seemed to me to be a pretty brave thing to do, after all, Alien is a scifi/ horror film that is still relevant, and still resonates almost 40 years later!

Upon watching the film, however, I realised that yes, it is similar to Alien in two ways: one, that it takes place in space, and two, that an alien life form is at fault, but essentially this is another version of the Agatha Christie/ Ten Little Indians film (with people being picked off one by one) that has been done hundreds of times in the horror genre, and you can namecheck many giallo and slashers that use them. 

The difference with this was that this film adds in the threat of being in space, such as the film Gravity did. Sure, Alien had that same threat, but rarely were you reminded that the whole thing took place in space. It was about the isolation but that isolation could have been anywhere, and until the end and Ripley gets to the escape pod, you aren’t really reminded regularly about this taking place in space. Life constantly reminds you of its external environment, with large windows showing the external views of the space station in which the film takes place, and that exterior is both a threat and a weapon.

Anyway, what is the film about?

Well, a very exciting experiment is coming to an end on the International Space Station (ISS): a probe that has visited Mars has returned with a sample from the surface, and that sample contains the first evidence ever of life from another planet. 

Ryan Reynolds loses this Deadpool.


This single cell organism, nicknamed ‘Calvin’, evolves and grows at a typically science fiction rate, and when it is probed by Derry (Ariyon Bakare) it freaks out and attacks him, and sure enough starts its way through the rest of the crew (played by Ryan Reynolds, Olga Dihovichnaya), Hiroyuki Sanada, Rebecca Ferguson and Jake Gyllenhaal).

It’s aggressiveness, both in evolution and attitude, would suggest that it should be kept of the earth, but how can the crew survive both the creature, and the oppressive nature of space…

The first thing I have to point out this film space-based environment is utterly convincing. This is not just due to the special effects and the practical effects, but also due to the cast’s performance. The constant motion they go through, even when ‘sitting’ together at a table is a clever acting mechanic to make sure we are aware that this all takes place on a space station. Honestly, it’s quite possibly the first film I’ve seen where no main character talks a single step, which makes for another great point insomuch as one of the characters is a paraplegic, but in space, it doesn’t matter as legs aren’t required to me mobile.

Jake Gyllenhaal abandoned is human suit for a space suit.


The tragedy of the film is Calvin isn’t realised as well. Sure it is difficult to do these kind of constantly evolving creature, but occasionally it looks flat: that doesn’t take you completely out of the film, and doesn’t effect the ultimately devastating ending, but my right eye would occasionally close in disappointment.

Another thing with Calvin is that he seems to work out things very quickly: whilst I appreciate the story needs to travel along at a clip, occasionally I did think that ‘instinct’ was replaced with ‘convenient, highly intelligent thought’ and this is my only real criticism of the film.

One thing I really did like though was a really spectacular directorial sleight-of-hand which did actually fool me, and generally I’m pretty savvy!

Life is a well executed film that echoes what has come before it without completely copying it, and has some great acting and cool effects.

Score: ***1/2

Life Australian Bluray menu screen


Format: This review was performed on the multi-region Australian release bluray of the film. It runs for approximately 104 minutes and is presented in an impeccable 2.39:1 image with an amazing DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: A bunch of extras appear on this disc:

Deleted scenes sees 6 deleted scenes that really weren’t necessary to the flow of the film and aren’t missed, though the ‘Tang’ scene shows the crew’s disappointment as to not being able to go home after the discover of the lifeform could have still slipped in.

Life: In Zero G shows how the effect of the cast being in ‘zero gravity’ for the film and how the casts acting skills, the stunt team and special effects crew achieved it.

Creating Life: The Art and Reality of Calvin looks at the research that had gone into creating Calvin as a scientifically convincing creature, and the special effects execution of that.

Claustrophobic Terror: Creating a Thriller in Space looks at the director’s objective on making a science fiction film that feels like it could be real.

Astronaut Diaries is a series of interstitials of the cast in character talking directly to the camera.  

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s a good movie with some great performances, but I can’t see myself revisiting it frequently, if at all.

Baby Calvin: he ain’t no Baby Groot!

Nerds of Oz Collection Post: 30th December 2016

Week Ending 30th December
Comics, and Pops, and Records: oh my!

Funko Pops

Horror Pops, not the band.


I know, I know, I wasn’t gonna buy more of these, but it’s Leatherface, Michael Myers and Pinhead: how could I resist?!?

Comics


I managed to read all my comics this week! How did I find the time?

READ! Harley Quinn #10 from DC Comics. Honestly I don’t know why I read Harley Quinn anymore. The stories are getting worse and worse and are usually just her going on silly inconsequential adventures, with a variety of artists that aren’t very good or funny. Occasionally they’ll do a serious one, but I think it’s time for a writer change on this one, sorry Jimmy and Amanda, I used to love the stories but now they just seem to be like old issues of Archie. Lame jokes and no real involvement with the rest of the DCU. At least a couple of art favourites of mine show up here in Bret Blevins and Joe Michael Linsner.

READ! Justice League vs Suicide Squad #1 from DC Comics. My two favourite teams from DC in a comic together? Yes please, though basically the plot will go that they’ll versus each other u til they realise they have a common enemy before begrudgingly working together. Comic Trope 101. The comic of course starts that way be we are also given a look into another group of bad guys who have banded together to,’save the world’ as the leader of them puts it. I won’t give away who they all are, but it’s nice to see the ‘main man’ of the DC universe back! Art by Jason Faibok is excellent, and the writing by Joshua Williamson is damned good too!

READ! Raven #4 from DC Comics. Continuing the tales of Raven of the Teen Titans. So far this comic has been amazing! I hope it continues in its Spiderman-ish teen alienation tales of woe and adventure. This comic just keeps going from strength to strength.

READ! Lady Mechanika: La Dama De La Muerte #3 from Benitez Productions. Awesome art and a pretty good story so far have made this anxiously looked forward to. Joe Benitez’s art is one of those things that both inspires me to draw, and makes me not want to draw as it is so beautiful. This issue doesn’t fail to impress! The bummer though it’s the Final issue… ARGH!

READ! Captain America: Sam Wilson #16 from Marvel Comics. I don’t normally buy this but it had Misty Knight on the cover carrying the shield: I’m buying that! If any character screams ‘Blaxploitation films’, it’s Misty Knight, and I LOVE Blaxploitation films! Tragically it doesn’t live up to its cover. The art is nice but it seems like it’s a fill-in issue. I probably won’t buy this title again. One, and done.

READ! Gamora #1 from Marvel Comics. She may not be on any Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise, but she at least gets a title of her own. Let’s hope it’s got some longevity. The story is written by Nicole Perlman and is fantastic, and supported well by really nice art by Marco Checchetto. I look forward to the next issue!

READ! The Mighty Captain Marvel #0 from Marvel Comics. I’ve always loved this character, from Ms. Marvel to Binary, so I’ll keep buying! It takes place after the terrible Civil War II which to me was an absolute travesty, especially after the awesome first Civil War which really was a thought provoking look at the whole super heroic experience from a ‘real world’ point of view. Anyway, now Marvel is in charge of Alpha Flight and is suffering from a touch of PTSD after Civil War II… hopefully she’ll get over it quickly and this book doesn’t end up just about ‘feelings’.

Magazines

Anime mags


I grabbed Otaku USA’s Dec 16 issue, and NEO’s issue 155. Due to my workplace, which has several anime fans, I am being dragged back into becoming a fan of anime, which I was many years ago. I have started on Eureka Seven AO, the sequel to an anime I like a few years ago called Eureka Seven.

Bluray



Which brings me to my bluray purchase, which includes collections 1, 2 and 3 of the anime RWBY, a horror from Monster Pictures called Satanic and the heart-stopping horror film Don’t Breathe. No doubt reviews if the movies are on their way!

Vinyl


Picked up three soundtracks at the Boxing Day sales: The Lego Movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Only listened to the Lego one so far which is by Devo’s Mark Mothersborough, and it has a fun vibe to it, and it starts with the epic ‘Everything is Awesome’.

The Cabin in the Woods (2012) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Cabin in the Woods (2012)


Film: Occasionally a film is made that adapts the tropes of an aspect of horror and creates a new fun way of making we, the movie fan, re-evaluate why we like those types of films, and maybe, like I do, revisit the older films of it type with not just the nostalgic affection, but with a wry reflection and a different appreciation.

Wes Craven’s Scream did it for me when it came out in the nineties, and my love of the slasher increased and made me seek out more. Cabin in the Woods is another of its ilk, but this time, we taste, obviously, the stories that take place in forbidden places (like cabins in the woodses) and teens who dally with forbidden objects d’evil.


Our film starts in a governmental research facility where two of the workers, Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Hadley (Bradley Whitford) are discussing the fact that only Japan and themselves are able to perform some unknown function after the failure of another institute.

We are then quickly introduced to a group of friends, Dana (Kristin Connelly), her friend, the newly blonded Jules (Anna Hutchison), her boyfriend, Curt (Chris Hemsworth), his friend, Holden (Jesse Williams) and their token stoner, Shaggy-styled buddy, Marty (Fran Kranz) who have decided to take a trip to one of Curt’s cousin’s new cabin, which happens to be in the woods.

Hence the clever name.

What they don’t realise is that conspiracy theorists are right: the government is out to get you, and in this case, the government is offering them up to… Something (which I am definitely NOt going to spoil here as its part of the fun of the film)… Something dark and evil, but why? Who is in charge… And who is REALLY in charge?


The film was written by Joss Whedon (who also produced) and Drew Goddard (who also directed), both of whom worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the light tone with touches of violence and cool monsters reflects that, though I find this film to be far better than any episode of Buffy ever made, mainly due to the cast of this film being totally likeable, and I thought most of the side kicks in Buffy were, well, dicks.

The monsters in this film are the real heroes, and there is a lot of them. If you really REALLY look closely (and explore the extras and rewatch repeatedly), you’ll see so many films being referenced, like Hellraiser, zombie films, The Strangers, The Blob, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Ring, It and others. It also references heaps of more non-cinematic beasts like goblins, and unicorns, and giants. It’s like a Guillermo Del Toro wet dream!

This film is a blast to watch, especially for horror-kids, as it was written and directed and produced by horror-kids. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Score: ****1/2


Format: The Cabin in the Woods was reviewed on a region B bluray, which also came with a digital copy of the film. The film runs for 95 minutes, and is presented in a 2.35:1 image with a Dolby DTS-HD Master audio 5.1 soundtrack, both of which are immaculate, as you would expect a modern film in a modern format to be.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with trailers for Piranha 3DD, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and Lockout before taking us to the main menu, and an extravaganza of special features!

The Audio commentary is performed by Goddard and Whedon, and is a pretty thorough, fun and engaging commentary.

We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin in the Woods looks at the creation and evolution of what became the film we are here to celebrate. It’s really about the process that Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard went through to get the exact look and tone for the film.

An Army of Nightmares: Makeup and Animatronic Effects looks at the monsters that feature in the film and their construction. It’s awesome to see A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Nancy, aka Heather Anderson (formally Langencamp) now well entrenched in the spfx business with her husband, David Leroy Anderson.

Primal Terror: Visual Effects flips the previous extra and now we look at all the CGI in the film.

Marty’s Stash sees actor Fran Kranz explore his character Marty’s collection of fake (one would assume) drug paraphernalia.

Hi, My Name Is Joss and I’ll Be Your Guide sees Whedon tour the set of the actual cabin in the woods, which was actually a set in a soundstage.

Wonder-con Q&A is performed with Geoff Boucher from the LA Times with Whedon and Goddard post screening of the film.

The extras are all quite thorough and go for around 20 minutes to a half hour each, so you come out of the extras line well-educated on the making of the film, and for an extras nut like me, that is well cool.

I have to also highlight just how epic the hero poster is of the film, the Rubik’s Cube Cabin, which is a striking image that really defines the film perfectly, and subliminally.

Score: *****


WISIA: You can watch this film 30 times and still not catch all the homages to other horror films, so rewatching is essential! Geoff Boucher says in the Wondercon Q and A that he wishes there were trading cards of the monsters… I agree!!!

Zombi 3 aka Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 (1988) review

One from the re watch pile…
Zombi 3 aka Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 (1988)


Film: I have a very special place in my heart for the work of Lucio Fulci. Why? Because he’s freakin’ AWESOME! I was brought up on some of his films on VHS, specifically The Beyond and City of the Living Dead, and since the advent of DVD and Bluray, I’ve been able to expand my exposure to his work, and even though there are several missteps, and a lot of nutso stuff pumped out of his factory, I have a great affection for it all.

Ok, I’ve gotten the fanboy stuff out of the way, now for the ‘professional’ review, and I’ll point out that even though I like watching his films, I am well aware of the shortcomings of some of them. This film, known as both Zombi 3 and Zombi Flesh Eaters 2, is a real item of its time. It riffs on so many films, such as Return of the Living Dead and The Crazies, but doesn’t have the budget, or talent either in front of the cameras, or tragically behind them.


This film was written by Claudio Fragasso, though IMDB mentions Rossella Drudi who wrote Troll 2, and this is such a dog’s breakfast I see no reason why that wouldn’t be true, but her involvement isn’t the only reason for this film’s confusion. Fulci had a stroke during production, and the directorial reigns were handed to both Fragasso and second unit director Bruno Mattei, who dumped some of Fulci’s 70 minute cut, taking it to 50 minutes, and added 40 minutes of their own footage.

When a toxin is stolen from a research lab, it accidentally infects the thief. The toxic dies once airborne, but when transfer from human to human, via blood, or breath (hang on, isn’t that ‘airborne’?) or saliva, or other gooey, mucusy bits, it turns the infected into a violent, zombie-like crazy.

The original thief is found and his body destroyed by the army in a crematorium, but the doctor’s inform them that this was a stupid idea as the smoke could transfer the virus… You know, airborne (as fire cause it to mutate, obviously)… and infect even more people, or…um… Birds.


*sigh*

… And yes, birds and people are indeed infected and a zombie outbreak happens, as we follow a small group of holiday-makers and on-leave soldiers as they try to survive…

Ok, so there is so much wrong with this film. The cinematography is terrible at some points, one in particular is a car hood mounted camera looking into a windscreen that has a strong reflection on it, completely obscuring the occupant of the vehicle. Some of the dialogue is either completely crap, or ‘borrowed’ directly from Return of the Living Dead, also stolen from ROTLD is the way some of the music cues are presented: actually ROTLD is a source for a lot of the film. Especially fun is the acting… Well, the over-acting. The main Doctor character acts like he is in a Power Rangers outfit: you know what I mean, hands waving around, head wobbling and you know what a William Shatner impersonation sounds like? Well he talks like that!


In spite of, or maybe (probably) because of these reasons it’s actually entertaining. I mean, your mate who loves big budget, world destroying CGI fests is not going to find much here to enjoy, but you spaghetti-loving, Italian film fans are gonna roll their eyes in ecstasy.

Be warned: this isn’t a good film, it’s a fun roller coaster!

Score: **

Format: The film was reviewed as a part of 88 Films’ ‘The Italian Collection’. It is a region B Blu-ray Disc presented in 1.66:1 widescreen with a LPCM 2.0 track, both of which are pretty good.

Score: ****

Extras: Wonderful extras live in this two disc set. The first disc gives us alternate Italian opening and closing sequences, interviews with Dell’acqua (in a piece called Veteren of the Living Dead) MacColl (in a live Q & A with terrible sound), Ring (Zombie Reflections which is more a stills gallery with a voiceover about her career played over it, nothing wrong with that but again, the audio is substandard) and Fragasso, and a trailer reel featuring Children of the Corn, Don’t Go In The Woods, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man, Mother’s Day, Slaughterhouse, Trancers and Splatter University.


The second disc, called ‘Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered’ is a collection of interviews divided into three sections: Accomplices (his cohorts in the making of his films), Peers (other Italian directors of the period), and Victims (his actors and actresses). It is a nice collection of tributes and anecdotes of the man, and something Fulci fans will enjoy.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s dumb, but it’s fun, so yeah, even though it got a low score, I’d probably watch it again for kicks.

Dead of Winter (1987) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Dead of Winter (1987)

Film: There are several actors and actresses whose work I will watch no matter what, even if friends tell me not to bother, or if online reviews are low, or even if the tale suggested by the synopsis on the back of the DVD/ Bluray/ VHS/ whatever doesn’t sound to my taste. There are many different reasons why I like these performers: acting skills, appearance et cetera but I’ll always keep an eye out for them.

Scarlett Johansson would be one at the top of that list for reasons that I don’t necessarily want to go into here, but certainly in my top ten is a gentleman by the name of Roddy McDowall, star of films such as Planet of the Apes, Class of 1984 and Fright Night, not to mention the TV series The Fantastic Journey, which I loved as a kid, and many, MANY cartoon voices, like The Mad Hatter in Batman The Animated Series.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was in this flick, as the only reason I nabbed it was it is part of 88 Films’s Slasher bluray collection (number 8) and being an OCD completist wherever possible, I had to buy it. The bonus was Mary Steenburgen’s star turn: I’d only ever seen her, where she had been memorable, in Back to the Future 3, so I wanted to see if she was capable of something other than the gentle spoken, sweet wife of Doc.


Struggling New York actress Katie McGovern (Mary Steenburgen) lands an opportunity for a job after an audition with the pleasant, but odd Mr Murray (Roddy McDowall) who seems to be quite captivated by her. He takes her to meet reclusive, retired, and wheelchair bound Doctor Joseph Lewis (Jan Rubeš) who is impressed by Murray’s choice.

Soon she finds herself with her appearance slightly changed and recording a scene on video to send to a director whose lead actress, the spitting image of Katie, has had a nervous breakdown and needs to be replaced, but Katie is uneasy… It feels like she is being held prisoner in Lewis’s house, a feeling which gets greater as time rolls on… And the winter snows kick in… And Murray and Lewis’s motives for her being there are revealed…

Unfortunately, my synopsis makes the film far more exciting that it really is. 


This loose remake of 1945’s My Name Is Julia Ross is dull and asexual and is like a very VERY ordinary midday movie, or even after school special. Steenburgen gets a go in multiple lead roles, but she is just so vanilla that every scene she is in droops terribly. Thankfully McDowell’s effete and submissive role lifts some of them, as does Jan Rubeš bonkers reclusive cripple, who seems to be almost emulating Lawrence Olivier’s role in Marathon Man… albeit a Diet Coke, toothless version.

This movie is slow paced and dare I say it, boring, but it’s nothing that a better director could repair, oh, and change all the cast except Roddy McDowall… And the soundtrack is quite weak… Actually, it’s quite terrible: purchase only if you need to fill the space between 7 (Nailgun Massacre) and 9 (X-Ray) in your 88 Films Slasher Collection

Score: *

Format: This bluray is region B, runs for approximately 100 minutes and is presented in a satisfactory 1.85:1 picture with a decent Dolby 2.0 soundtrack.

Score: ***

Extras


There aren’t many extras on this disc other than this stills gallery, which unless it depicts poster art or associated merchandise, I feel is a worthless extra. It’s an animated visual medium for Corman’s sake, don’t just stick a piss-poor selection of images from the film together with some music. It’s lazy and frustrating. This one does at least have one movie poster at the end of the slideshow/screensaver.

This disc also contains trailers for other 88 Films releases Puppet Master, The Pit & The Pendulum, Demonic Toys, Bloody Birthday, Two Moon Junction, Dollman, Blood Sucking Freaks, Puppet Master II, Puppet Master III, Tourist Trap and Castle Freak.

Now the packaging also claims that this has a collector’s booklet by Slice and Dice director and journalist Calum Waddell, but unfortunately mine did not come with this. I’d say I was just unlucky, but I do have another Bluray in this collection by 88 Films which suffered from the same issue. That’s some pretty terrible QC right there. The packaging also claims to have the trailer for Dead of Winter, but it must be extraordinarily well hidden as I could not find it.

It also has a reversible sleeve, but the hidden one is quite bland.

Score: **


WISIA: No. I wouldn’t have watched it once as nothing on the back cover sounds even slightly appealing, and IMDB’s synopsis isn’t much more alluring, but it being a part of 88 Film’s slasher bluray series, I thought I’d give it a go. That thought was wrong.