Happy Hunting (2017)

One from the to watch pile…

Happy Hunting (2017)

Film: There is a great line from the movie High Fidelity that goes,’ Some people never get over the Vietnam War, or the night their band opened for Nirvana.‘… I think the same can be said for some filmmakers who have never gotten over Tarantino, and do their very best to emulate him (it could also be Robert Rodriguez, but for this example we shall use Tarantino).

You know the tics and tricks to them as well: The films almost always look hot and dry, the dialogue occasionally has nothing to do with moving the story along but it doesn’t have to be use the actions happening around them are doing that instead, everybody… and I mean EVERYBODY is shifty looking and there is an attempt to make every scene full to the brim with tension.

Sometimes these emulations work, but mostly they don’t as Tarantino and Rodriguez’s styles, though similar to each other, work due to their varied influences, and their own personalities.

This film was written and directed by the team of Joe Dietsch and Lucien Gibson, and whilst the style of the film might be Tarantino, the story and setting are a pastiche of H.G. Lewis’s 2,000 Maniacs and films like Turkey Shoot or The Most Dangerous Game.

Happy Hunting tells of alcoholic drug cook, Warren Novak (Mark Dingle Wall), who needs to get to Mexico and after trying to get some money from some dealers in a deal that full-tilt goes knees up, he finds himself in the small, dying town known as Bedford.

Now Bedford has a proud history. It was a town founded by the Bedford corporation, and was a destination point for hunters year-round as hunting season NEVER finishes, but unfortunately times changed and the once prosperous tourism destination has become a ghost town except for a very small population.

This tiny population, though, like to remember the good ol’ days and celebrate them by capturing transients, like our pal Warren, his pursuers from the drug cartel and anyone who no longer fits the clean self-image that the Sheriff of the town has and sends them into the desert, with a select few of the townspeople in hot pursuit, hunting them down.

Unfortunately for the townsfolk, Warren’s sense of self-preservation is quite intense and very soon, to coin an over-used term, the hunters become the hunted, although Warren’s not so great at the hunt, especially when his shakes and hallucinations caused by going cold turkey start to really kick in…

This is a decently shot and acted film, which, as I stated earlier, wears its influences on its sleeve, that has some really nice set-pieces and some nutty characters that are quite over the top but unfortunately, it’s just mediocre. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t have any memorable set pieces, and the ending is stolen directly from Night if the Living Dead… sorry, it’s obviously an homage, just like the beginning of 28 Days Later is stolen from The Day of the Triffids.

In short, if it crosses your path, give it a Watch, but don’t actively pursue it as there are better choices for this tripe of movie out there.

Score: ***

Format: The reviewed copy of Happy Hunting was the Australian Umbrella Entertainment release. It is presented in a clear and clean 2.35:1 image with a matching 5.1 audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: No menu, no extras, no nothing.

Score: 0

WISIA: Nah, I’ll probably watch Battle Royale, Condemned, Hunger Games or any of the other ‘men hunting men’ films again before digging this out of the pit of the one watch only.

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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?

Evils of the Night (1985)

One from the to watch pile…
Evils of the Night (1985)


Film: Don’t you just love it when a friend suggests a movie you’ve never heard of to you? Then when you get your hands on it you see the awesome cover shown above, replete with amazing Tales of the Crypt styled artwork featuring a subtle rip-off of Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon (by subtle I mean ‘glaring’) and find on the back it’s directed by Mardi Rustam, the producer of Eaten Alive, AND it stars Batman’s Julie Newmar, Gillian’s Island’s Tina Louise, Eaten Alive’s Neville Brand and b-movie legends Aldo Ray and Jon Carradine. (I have to also point out that that awesome cover was done by Tom Tierney who was America’s foremost Paper Doll artist!)


This sounds like it’s going to be a treat! That is, a terrible, awful tainted treat, like a rotted finger found by a cannibal behind the lounge.

Our story in this film is of a bunch of aliens (played by Carradine, Louise and Newmar) who have travelled to earth and quickly… very quickly… established a process where a couple of local crooks (Neville Brand and Aldo Ray) kidnap nubile young women and beefcake-ish young men and deliver them for processing as the aliens require human blood to survive!

Amazing! How did their species survive before they discovered interplanetary travel… maybe some concepts don’t open themselves up to critical scientific evaluation.

Of course, amongst their latest group of victims there are a few tenacious teens who may actually be able to survive the slaughter! 

Now as you may be able to tell from the synopsis, it’s a pretty daft story that has its roots in, well, every 50s American scifi film. In this film they have at least used the plot device of an older alien showing new ones how to perform their roles as leaders of expeditions as a way to convey the story to we, the viewer.

Mostly, the acting is deplorable, but thankfully the cast are good looking enough to keep your interest for a bit longer than a film this bad would probably deserve. The film is edited such that there are several nude/ sex scenes where the main cast aren’t involved so their demises don’t effect the outcome of the plot, but dropped 80s porn legend Amber Lynn in their is a bonus. The acting highlights would have to be Aldo Ray and Neville Brand as quite possibly the best hillbilly killers this side of the hills from The Hills Have Eyes.


This film has one real problem though above how bad the acting is and how generic the storyline is: the pacing. There are some scenes that just go on for far too long. The key to a movie that has tension is knowing when to tighten and release it, and this film doesn’t, so for the most part is becomes an unsatisfactory freakshow of hasbeens and neverwases.

It’s a strange film that’s as dumb as a box of hammers with a bizarre identity crisis: 80s soft core comedy porn a la Porky’s but with 50s or 60s scifi plot and ‘spaceman’ outfits. It’s ‘Plan 10 from Outer Space’ made real! I’m sure Ed Wood would have loved it!

Oh, by the way, the Milennium Falcon DOESN’T make an appearance in this film, even though the cover may suggest it! 

Score: **1/2

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Format: This movie was reviewed in the Gorgon Video DVD which runs for approximately 85 minutes, and is presented in a clear but unspectacular 1.78:1 image with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio which is fine, but nothing special. There is an occasional artefact on the screen but it’s not detrimental to the viewing.

Score: ***

Extras: There are three extras on this disc: 

The first one is the ‘television’ cut of the film which lasts a whole 8 minutes longer than the regular version, but unfortunately isn’t very clear as it was taken from a video tape master. This version removes all the sex scenes and Amber Lynn isn’t even here at all! Criminal!

There are a bunch of outtakes here but unfortunately there is no audio. The look of embarrassment on the old greats is clear and present though.

We also have a trailer for the film.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: I probably won’t watch this again, but I am glad to have seen it and loved the surprise appearance of Amber Lynn!

Suspiria (1977)

One from the re watch pile…

Suspiria (1977)

Film: There’s a lot of films that I return to again and again. Some are because they are like comfort food and just make me feel good, some for nostalgia, and some because I just flat out like the film. Suspiria is all those things together.

I was introduced to the film by a good friend on laserdisc and was IMMEDIATELY entranced by it. The style was something I didn’t recall seeing before, the story spoke to my love of stories about cults and witches and it starred Jessica Harper, whose presence is startling.

Not to mention Udo Kier!

This film made me a Dario Argento fan and introduced me to the wonderful world of gialli which are now my favourite type of thriller. I should point out I had seen these types of films before but had never really paid attention to them as cinematic movements or sub genre.

Now Argento’s films sit highly on both my list of favourite films and most rewatched films, particularly this one, Tenebrae, Deep Red, Phenomena and his much later film Sleepless aka Non So Honno which felt more like one of his earlier films even though it was made in 2001. I love his visual style and his choice of actors for the lead roles.

Suspiria is the first part of a trilogy of films (the second being Inferno and the third being Mother of Tears) about three ancient sisters who are witches. This first film tells of Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), a young dancer from New York who has been accepted into a exclusive dance school in Germany but she starts at a very strange time for the school.

On the night she arrives, another student leaves and her and a friend’s bodies are found soon after, but their deaths are not the first mysterious occurrences. The school’s blind pianist is murdered by his faithful dog, and another student disappears… This all amongst a strange maggot infestation and Suzy suffering from an illness on which she is put on a special diet.

Quickly Suzy discovers that the school has a strange past involving witchcraft and the occult and maybe, just maybe everything that is happening is connected…

Argento’s eye is amazing in this film and everything has a particular look and feel to it, with an amazing depth of field created with the use of colour and geometry which harkens back to Italian directorial great Mario Bavaria and his style.

His casting choices are fantastic here too. Jessica Harper moves with a natural grace and she really plays into the whole Stranger in a strange land/ alienation thing that horror does so well perfectly. Her natural acting style and girl-next-dooriness make her a perfect Nancy Drew character in this Scooby Doo type adventure.

Suspiria is an exciting watch, both for the visuals and the story, and I really can’t recommend it enough. Top shelf horror.

Score: *****

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was performed on the Australian Umbrella region B Bluray release and it being sourced from a new 4K restoration means it is quite an amazing looking. It is presented in 2.35:1with an equally impressive 5.1 DTS-HD audio and runs for approximately 99 minutes.

Score: *****

Extras: Extras? You want extras? Oh boy, do we have extras!! Granted with most of them being about Suspiria, some themes are re-discussed, but it doesn’t become annoying. Actually it’s a completely look at the film. It must be noted though that if you are adverse to reading subtitles, you may not enjoy most of these extras.

Suspiria Told By Dario Argento is a thorough interview with Dario Argento by Variety’s Nick Vivarelli. It’s a fascinating reflection on the film and the filmmaking process, even down to the selection of the film stock!

25th Anniversary Suspiria Documentary is the documentary that was presented with many DVD releases of the film in 2002 which goes just shy of an hour but looks at the making of the film. It features interviews with Argento, Niccolodi, Harper, Kier, and others involved in the making of the film.

Exclusive Interview with Dario Argento is an interview with Argento from 2004 where he discusses the making of the film. It’s the most uncomfortable interview I’ve ever had to watch as he is twisted in a chair for the whole thing. I swear my back ached by the end of it.

Fear at 400 Degrees: The Cine-excess of Suspiria looks at Argento’s career, the giallo as genre and reflections on the film by various critics and academics.

An Eye for Horror is a TV special from 2000 about Argento’s career, and features interviews with his cast and contemporaries. Essentially, it’s an Argento Love rest. That’s not a criticism in any way: he deserves a love fest!

Dario Argento’s World of Horror is the Michele Soavi helmed from the 80s. Great for its time and still relevant, with some pretty cool behind the scenes footage of the making of some of his films.

The is an image gallery which normally I don’t think are a valuable addition to a DVD or Bluray, but in this case it shows all the promotion material for the film, which I do find interesting.

Next we have a pile of trailers for the film, including the international trailer, the US theatrical trailer, a Tv spot and a few radio ads, followed by an Argento Trailer Reel, starting with Bird With The Crystal Plumage and finishing with Sleepless.

Score: *****

WISIA: One of my favourite films of all time and this release is fantastic; it will get rewatched over and over again.

The Boy (2016)

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

The cover to the Australian release Bluray


Film: This is one of those films that the To Watch Pile is all about. Sure, occasionally (possibly more often than not) I’ll review a much loved film, or because, as a horror fan, I feel some kind of sense of responsibility to warn my fellow terrorbuffs that a film is a poo sandwich, hold the bread.

No one deserves to see some films, and I am the guy that will jump on that grenade for you.

You’re welcome.

In this case, though, I wandered into my local retailer and was just looking to spend my money, and wanted see if something would pop up that I could get into. From the shelves and shelves of Bluray the image of a porcelain doll’s face stared unwaveringly at me, and me loving a good possessed doll film, I grabbed it with glee…

That is, I was excited to grab it, not that I also grabbed a series of the Tv show Glee.

This film was written by Stacey Menear and was directed by William Brent Bell, who also directed Wer and The Devil Inside, but this is far better than either of those.

Laura Cohen as Greta Evans


Young American Greta Evans (Lauren Cohan) has come to England to act as a career for the child of on older couple, named Brahms, who live in a mansion on a country estate. The mother, Mrs. Heelshire (Diana Hardcastle) dotes on her boy with a disturbing amount of obsessive care, and the father, Mr. Heelshire (Jim Norton) is complicit but not as obsessed.
This would all be fine if it weren’t for the fact that Greta’s charge is a child sized porcelain doll.
The Heelshires haven’t had a holiday for a long time and Greta is given a very strict set of instructions by them to take care of Brahms and is told she will OK as long as she follows the list explicitly… but why does Mrs. Heelshire apologise to her when they leave, and what will happen to her when she inevitably fails to maintain the rule set given to her or will her past, which she is haunted by, eventually catch up to her first?

The Heelshire’s say goodbye to their ‘son’


The first thing you’ll notice about this film is how extraordinarily beautiful it is. There is this amazing degree of texture given to everything in the bourse: the oak doors, the ornate carpets, even skin in almost over processed so you can clearly see every line or blemish. This is a fascinating choice made for the look of the film as it makes the porcelain skin of the doll so stark and white in contrast, which gives Brahms an otherworldly look.
A lot of respect has to be given to Cohan as well. For the most part she is a solo cast member who entertains a few scenes with other actors but spends most of the time reacting to a doll who is completely immobile. 
All in all I enjoyed this film and it enjoys several twists and turns that will keep you guessing, though the ending is a bit generic with an obvious set up for a sequel. If this does become the first episode of a film franchise, it’s a solid one.

Score: ****

The menu screen to the Australian Bluray release


Format: This film was reviewed on the Australian Bluray release which runs for approximately 93 minutes and is presented in an immaculate 2.40:1 widescreen image with a matching DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.

Score: *****

Extras: No extras, I’m afraid.

Score: 0

WISIA: It’s a creepy ‘doll’ movie with a couple of twists and turns to make it fresh? Yeah, I’m watching that again.

The Heelshire’s beautiful mansion.

Captain Kronos, the Comic!

Ok, so I must admit I’ve been a little bit lazy when it comes to the ol’ To Watch Pile, but I have been distracted. The good thing is you, dear reader, probably won’t notice as I try to run the blog six weeks ahead so there is no interruption if I need a week away or something.
For the past two weeks though, I have had a couple of things I really love outside of Horror get released at my local video game specialist.

First was Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, the first person game based in an alternate universe when the Nazis won the First World War. In itself it is a horror film, and the story with this one (so far) has been full of dread, with great graphics and amazing gameplay, and a free ‘GI Joe’ styled toy of BJ, the hero of the piece.

A promotional poster for Wolfenstein II.


In the same week, Mario Odyssey was released for the Nintendo Switch. I have been waiting to buy a Switch until the new Mario was released and I have grabbed 4 games to various deal of success. Odyssey is truly an amazing piece of gaming equipment!

Finally, a week after those two releases, we have the big daddy release that I buy every year, Call of Duty World War II, which after three years of scifi styled stories (4 if you say Ghosts was a truly scifi setting) we are back to boots on the ground, old school weapons. Funny, after three years of complaining about the movement being far to big a factor of those games, I am finding my skill totally lacking, but it’s a good looking game… maybe I’ll get better at it.

This isn’t me doing a market report or boasting of my crap gaming skills, no, this little piece is to tell you all about an amazing comic that may have slipped by without being noticed.

Titan Books have a fledgling comics line that seems to be picking up steam, which thankfully doesn’t have a shared universe like Marvel or DC and is instead a series of licenses like Assassin’s Creed, the aforementioned Wolfenstein, Warhammer and The Evil Within, just to name a few.

This new series I am excited about is based on a Hammer Horror film called Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter.

One of the many movie posters to Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter


This series is written by Dan Abnett, probably best known for the creation of the 2000AD strip Sinister Dexter, and has worked on several Marvel titles The Punisher, War Machine and various X-men titles. I’m not the biggest fan of Sinister Dexter, but I have enjoyed his writing on other series though, including some Doctor Who Magazine comics he also wrote.

The highlight for me though is the art by industry legend Tom Mandrake. I love Mandrake’s work as his art is very pre-Image comics, very proper like artists like John Buscema and Joe Kubert (probably because he was trained at Kubert’s school), and he has worked on many comics over his time, and is know for the co-creation of Batman villains Black Mask and Film Freak. Over the years he has mainly worked on DC titles, but also for Marvel, First, Eclipse and Image Comics.

This comic is doing something that I detest which is alternate covers, but I do like the fact that some of the alternates are called ‘Hammer Glamour’ and have photographs of Caroline Monroe on the cover.

The photo covers to Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter, issues 1 and 2.


Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter tells the tale of a group of miscreants sometime in the 18th century who hunt vampires… as the title may suggest. Captain Kronos is a handsome ex-soldier, who is fast on horse and swift with sword, Grost is his hunchbacked, one-legged assistant and finally Carla, lovely, ruthless and skilled at fighting.

This comic furthers his adventures and is full of much vampires and derring-do. I certainly hope it can maintain the quality of these first two issues. If you are a fan of swashbuckling comics, vampires and old school art style, you’ll probably like this comic.

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.

Murder By Decree (1979)

One from the to watch pile…
Murder By Decree (1979)

The cover to the Australian Umbrella release of Murder by Decree


Film: This is one of those strange films that I am SURE I must have seen. Surely during the 80s or 90s whilst in a channel hopping mood I must have stopped on this film. I imagine I wouldn’t have just paused but instead stopped once I realised that what I was watching was not just a Sherlock Holmes film, but a Holmes vs Jack the Ripper film!!

Now that I am a more refined and educated film fan, I now would stop for SO many other reasons. First, this film has a screen play by John Hopkins, who also did the Bond film Thunderball. 

Next, directed by Bob Clark! Film fans should know this name as the director of Porkys!, but more importantly to horror fans, Deathdream, Black Christmas and Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things!

Then the cast; oh, the cast! the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s Christopher Plummer, North By Northwest’s James Mason, Deep Red’s David Hemmings, Lifeforce’s Frank Finlay, Invasion of the Body Snatcher’s Donald Sutherland, Dead Ringers’ Genevieve Bujold and let’s not forget Sir John Gielgud!!! I imagine any director of the 70s would have been swooning over such an amazing cast!!

James Mason and Christopher Plummer


The film tells of 1800’s London, during Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror, when a group of concerned storekeepers approach Sherlock Holmes (Plummer) and his faithful, long-suffering cohort Dr. Watson (Mason) to assist in the hunt for the Ripper even though the police, including Inspector Foxborough (Hemmings) would wish him to have nothing to do with it.

Holmes continues the investigation regardless of the constabulary’s objections, and in doing so comes across all sorts of odd-bodkins, such as a psychic (Sutherland) and a conspiracy that leads all the way to the prime minister of England, and even royalty itself!!

There’s been many translations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character on TV, in comics and on the big screen but in my opinion this is one of the better ones. Christopher Plummer plays Holmes with an amazing sense of subtlety, not like more modern translations where he’s more a combination of of an idiot savant and a member of a boy band, and it’s a mature portrayal. His relationship with the far more sensible Dr Watson is understated and whilst frustrating for Watson, there is and underlying sense of friendship between the two that is played skilfully by our veteran actors.

The leads skill has a trickle down effect as the ensemble cast all play their parts with an equal amount of gusto, and it makes the story convincing and thoroughly engaging.

The Amazing Follicles of Donald Sutherland


Essentially, this film, even though not Sherlock Holmes cannon, it still really feels like a proper Holmes story, and the combination of Clark’s direction and the aforementioned cast’s convincing portrayals of the characters make this happen. If I am to criticise this film for anything it is a trifle overlong, and sags here and there.
Score: ****

Sir John Gielgud


Format: This film was reviewed with the Australian Umbrella Entertainment region 4 DVD release of the film, which runs for approximately 124 minutes is presented in a clean, but average 1.77:1 image with a matching 2.0 audio track.

Score: **1/2

Extras: Absolutely none! Not even a menu screen!!

Score: 0

WISIA: The quality of the actors involved make this definitely a rewatcher.