Annabelle Creation (2017)

One from the to watch pile…
Annabelle Creation (2017)

The cover to the Australian Bluray release of Annabelle Creation (2017)


Film: If there is one thing I can say about post-millennium ghost stories it’s that I have so much ennui towards them that I actually end up being occasionally surprised by aspects of them that may show off a small bit of quality. That is, the stories are awfully generic and don’t bring anything new to the ghost sub-genre, but occasionally I’ll find an amazing actor, like Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring films, or just a filmic quality from the production that will make them stand above being absolute drivel.

Not by much, but a single redeeming feature is a redeeming feature, and I can’t deny that.

Of all these ghost stories though, for me the worst has been the ‘Annabelle’ film. It was seemingly driven on by the genpop’s love of creepy dolls, but I didn’t find it to be particularly entertaining, and was surprised that a subplot from a different series should get its own. Even worse, this film is an ‘origin’ film, and I find that when you demystify a character you weaken it, somehow. I like Rob Zombie’s Halloween but I find Myers to be more a tragic figure than a force of nature in his films.

Esther’s (Miranda Otto) scars aren’t all mental.


This film, Annabelle Creation, tells the tale of dollmaker, Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife, Esther (Miranda Otto) whose lives horribly changed after the tragic loss of their daughter, Bee (Samara Lee).

Several years later, the couple take in a nun, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and a small group of orphaned girls, including the crippled by polio, Jan (Talitha Eliana Bateman) as an act of charity, but very quickly the girls discover that there is something in the house… something evil…

… and boring. It’s redeeming feature is it finally does pick up almost at the end, but that’s only if you manage to overcome the terrible pacing. To its credit it did end on a clever note, leading to the previous film.

Carol (Grace Fulton) in a scene lifted from one of Sandberg’s short films.


It’s one thing to make a film that is made for the mass populous that has nothing original, but to make it boring as well is a crime that I just can’t get by. There is no doubt David F. Sandberg, who previously gave us the wonderful Lights Out, gets amazing performances from such a young cast and the film looks hot and dry, but the script, by It’s Gary Dauberman, stinks of generic.

You could play ‘ghost movie lotto’ with this film: creepy doll, tick! Floaty black mist, tick! Weird old guy, tick! I could go on… but that’s not the worst of it. For the most part it feels like there is no threat and nothing seems to happen for the longest time. The worst crime a horror film can commit is being boring, so for that, this film should get life imprisonment.

Score: *

The menu for the Australian Bd release of Annabelle Creation (2017)


Format: This Australian Bluray release of the film runs for approximately 109 minutes and is presented in an immaculate 2.40:1 image with a matching Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: There a a few extras on this disc.

The Conjuring Universe is a short look at the universe that the Conjuring and Annabelle films exist within.

There are two horror shorts, Attic Panic and Coffer, both by Sandberg and his partner Lotta Losten, both of which are far more effective than (and whose scenes are borrowed for) this film.

There’s a bunch of deleted scenes that can be watched with a commentary by the director which discuss how the film would have been well over 2 hours long without some trimming, and is an interesting discussion about the importance of editing.

Directing Annabelle Creation is an excellent discussion with Sandberg about directing films. He discusses how he became a filmmaker and how he used DVD extras as ‘training’ videos for his own skill. It’s extraordinarily fascinating and a real insight into the act of direction and possibly an inspiration to those of us who do the same thing.

There is an interesting director’s commentary too, and it’s totally worth it. Sandberg is a guy who loves his craft of movie making and it really shows.

Score: ****

WISIA: Nup, nope, never. Though I might put it on for the two shorts on the extras.

The ‘eyes’ have it… eh, eh?

Advertisements

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

One from the re watch pile…
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

The Australian Umbrella release on Bluray


Film: Surely if eighties horror is going to be remembered for anything, it’s going to be sequels. Yep, just as the early 2000s had its remakes and the 90s had… what did the 90s have?

Mustn’t have been much, as all I can remember is Fangoria resorting to covers with Jurassic Park and Batman Returns on it! There was Scream and that Blair Witch rubbish I suppose… if that’s your thing.

Anyway, 

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers starts with a couple of revelations about the last film, and I must warn, massive spoiler alert for the previous film: when Michael (played in this episode by Don Shanks, but some of the footage is from the previous film so that would have been George P. Wilbur) was dropped down the well at the end he survived and was nursed back to health by a vagrant who lives by a creek the old mine emptied into. Also, Michael’s niece Jamie (Danielle Harris) didn’t kill her adoptive mother but instead only attacked her.

Ok, so we are up to speed!

Jamie (Danielle Harris) isn’t happy to see either her shrink OR her uncle.


Jamie is now in an institution and hasn’t spoken since that night, but is regularly visited by her adoptive sister, Rachel (Ellie Cornell) and her friend Tina (Wendy Foxworth) whom she adores. Unfortunately, Jamie has developed a psychic link to Michael, and when he starts to recover fully and regain his ability to hunt, maim and kill, she starts to have seizures where she seemingly can ‘see’ where Michael is and what he is doing.

Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is still around and recognises that Jamie is linked to Michael and uses her to again track him down as he begins his reign of psychotic terror, but what is the secret of the tattoo on Michael’s wrist, and who is the stranger in black who has come to town?

If you could distill all the stupid teenage dumbshittery into a single film; that is, if you could take every ignored warning, every ‘don’t go in there’, every stereotypical trope of the 80s into a single horror film: Halloween 5 does it, except for one: it’s totally boob free! 

It’s funny that this film should be a film from 1989 as it’s like it collects all the dumb crap from previous films and stitches it quite badly together with characters who are stereotypical but switch stereotypes from one moment to the next, and not in a way that makes them well rounded.

Pleasance plays his most well known role with the same sort of insanity he previously had, but now it’s turned up to 9.8 on the acting Richter scale, and is earthshatteringly over the top and a pleasure to witness.

Michael Myers (Don Shanks): The Dark Lord of the Scythe.


Don Shanks, even though he is effectively just playing ‘The Shape’ , actually give Michael’s character a bit of heart too for a brief moment or two.

As in the previously film, the highlight is a very young Danielle Harris’ performance as Jamie. Even though some of the direction she is given, such as when her character her is mute, seems a little dodgy, she nails her character and is one of the most mature young actors I have ever seen on film, especially in horror!

All in all, the best way to describe this film is that it’s is an example of the worst of what my favourite decade of horror has to offer. If you are an 80s or Halloween fan though, you’ll end up owning it!

Score: *1/2

The Australian Bluray menu screen


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian Bluray multi-region Bluray release, which is presented in a clear 1.85:1 image with a really nice Dolby TrueHd 5.1 audio.

Score: ****

Extras: There are only three extras on this disc:

Audio commentary with Dominique Othenin-Girard, Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landman is quite entertaining and obviously takes place several years after the film being made (17 years in fact) as they child actors are now adults. Othenin-Girard is a thorough storyteller and his behind the scenes stuff is illuminating to all, even the cast he is doing the commentary with, though his complimentary attitude towards Danielle Harris becomes almost stalker-ish.
Halloween 5: On The Set isn’t really a making of, but instead has a few interviews with some of the cast and some pretty crappy footage of night shooting for the film.

… and a theatrical trailer, well, it’s a 30 second spot which is disappointing.

Thank god for the commentary because the rest of it is pretty vanilla.

Score: **

WISIA: Honestly I only watched this again for the benefit of this review, and probably won’t ever again.

Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasance) meets a mental health day, I think.

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (2008)

One from the re watch pile…
Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (2008)

The Umbrella Entertainment Bluray release of the film


Film: 2008 and the viewing of this film was a big thing for me. As an Australian and being a fan of cinema, somehow the fact that this whole ‘Ozploitation’ sub-genre even existed had passed me by. I knew that there were Australian films obviously, and loved a few of them (Mad Max and Turkey Shoot come immediately to mind) but I didn’t realise how much stuff I had naturally assumed were American… even films like Dead Kids aka Strange Behaviour, an Australian film, I naturally thought was America , though in that case I think it was the point.

Now when I say Australian film, I don’t necessarily mean heartfelt, moral stories or period pieces, what I am talking about is the rough and tumble, violent, bloody, nude-filled lowest common denominator films made for people like… well, like me!

This documentary is written and directed by Mark Hartley, who had previous made several documentaries about specific Australian films like Blood and Thunder Memories: The Making of Turkey Shoot and Jaws On Trotters: The Making of Razorback, and it is divided into three sections:

Ocker’s, Knockers, Pubes and Tubes looks at the Australian version of sexploitation, and the celebration of the freedom that the post 60s world allowed us.

QT enthusiastically talks about Ozploitation films.


Comatose Killers and Outback Thrillers jumps into the horror part of this period and we celebrate all the blood and gore that was on offer at the time.

High-Octane Disasters and Kung-Fu Masters is the final part of the film and it looks at the Australian action films of the time.

The biggest problem any film fan and movie collector will have with this film is that by the time you finish it, you have a shopping list of 50 films you immediately have to buy. It’s been almost 9 years since I first saw this and I’m still trying to get Lady Stay Dead and Snapshot!

Robert Powell survives in… well, The Survivor


Director Mark Hartley obviously has a massive love of Australian cinema and this documentary tells the story of this period of Australian cinema with the exact brand of humour that the films it celebrates displays. It has a great look to it as well: It art design is very of the time it discusses but it’s cut in a modern manner and with some hilarious animations.

A special cooee has to go out to the music as well. The selection of pop songs is spot on and the other music by Stephen Cumming of The Sports and Billy Miller of The Ferrets is fabulous too.

Quite possibly the BEST documentary about a niche sub genre of cinema ever. With so many interviews it could have been easily turned into a boring talking heads styled thing, but there is SO much archival footage and SO much clever and interesting editing that is really a feast for the eye.

Score: *****

The menu to the Umbrella Bluray of Not Quite Hollywood


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian Umbrella Entertainment multi-region Bluray release which runs for roughly 98 minutes. The film is presented in 1.77:1 and mostly looks fantastic. As one would expect, some of the archival stuff isn’t perfect. The audio, featuring some amazing Australian music, can be heard in either 2.0 or 5.1 and both sound great.

Score: ****

Extras: Extras? EXTRAS? Oh boy, is this disc just straining the threads of its undergarments with extras! It’s voluptuous with extras! It’s well-hung with extras!

Seriously though, if you for some crazy reason thought there wasn’t enough about Ozploitation info in the main part of the doco, or you just haven’t seen enough boobs, the extras will more than satisfy your desire for more.

First we have a commentary featuring a bunch that the cover declare to be the Ozploitation auteurs: Mark Hartley himself hosts this commentary and through the course of the film has a turnstile of talent who star in the doco, and has a lot more anecdotes and information about this film.

Deleted and Extended Scenes can be watched with the commentary on or off and even though I would have preferred this to be recut into the film, I do like watching them with either the commentary on or off as it’s pretty informative, and features some films that are quite conspicuous with their absence.

The Lost NQH Interview: Chris Lofven which features an interview with the director of 1976’s OZ, which unfortunately was left out of the film.

Quentin Tarantino and Brian Trenchard-Smith Interview Featurette has a conversation between the two directors and their respective careers.

Melbourne International Film Festival Ozploitation Panel sees a whole bunch of NQH interviewees talking about the state of censorship and other aspects of film and art of the time this film discusses. (There is a misspelling of the film ‘Stork’ as ‘Stalk’ but I guess either could be used to describe the character!)

Melbourne International Film Festival Red Carpet is an astounding piece of footage of stuntman Grant Page walking the red carpet, quite calmly, on fire.

Behind the Scenes Footage from the Crew sees a bunch of BTS stuff filmed on a Duty free purchased video camera whilst they were in the UK doing the interviews for the film.

UK Interview with Director Mark Hartley is just that, and it’s a nice introduction to the director.

The Bazura Project Segment sees another interview with Hartley with the guys from The Bazura Project.
The Monthly Conversation is a low-res version of an interview Hartley did with Tom Ryan from The Monthly.

The Business Interview is an audio only interview with Hartley.

Extended Ozploitation Trailer Reel is 3… yes, 3 hours of Ozploitation movie trailers!

Confessions of an R-Rated Filmaker: John D. Lamond Interview sees Mr. Lamond talk about his career.

The next 5 extras are archival ones, made at the time of the films they represent.

On-set Interview with Richard Franklin is an interview with Franklin on the set of the horror film Patrick.

Terry Bourke’s Noon Sunday Reel talks about the making of a film called Noon Sunday.

Barry McKenzie: Ogre or Ocker is a short doco about the making of the Barry McKenzie films.

Inside Alvin Purple is an hour long documentary about Alvin Purple.

To Shoot a Mad Dog Documentary looks at the making of Mad Dog Morgan.

Ozploitation Stills and Poster Gallery is an awesome look at a lot of promotional stuff for many of the films mentioned throughout the documentary. It’s an animated gallery too, with some funky music over the slideshow.

NQH Production Gallery like the previous Gallery is an animated one, but now has some great portraits of the interviewees for the documentary.

NQH Pitch Promos sees the inception of the NQH project and features a lot of Tarantino, and his endorsement with some of Hartley’s other documentaries that have features]d as extras on other DVDs and BDs. 

NQH Original Theatrical Trailer is (phew!) exactly what the name would suggest!

If that’s not enough extras, I don’t know what else could appease you.

Score: *****

WISIA: if it’s not the best documentary made about movies, it’s certainly the best made about Ozploitation movies. I rewatch it regularly!

Cassandra Delaney braves a bull bar in Fair Game

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.

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!!!