Mindhunters (2004) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Mindhunters (2004)

Mindhunters DVD cover

Film: My favourite TV shows, post X-Files, have always been those ones that hunt serial killers and that sort of stuff. Sure, I can occasionally be found watching Rick and Morty or Pokèmon or Doctor Who, but those that I really get into are police procedural ones. I don’t know why, but I really enjoy them.

Criminal Minds is a particular favourite.

This trickles over to films as well, and I am guessing my love of gialli echoes that fandom as well. That whodunnit aspect of the film where you yourself get involved in the policework as you try to outsmart the detective by coming to your conclusion first.

Mindhunters is an interesting choice as it was an attempt by Renny Harlin to do a cinema version of those TV shows that were super popular at that time, but what he did was mix it up with a bunch of well known faces, like Val Kilmer, LL Cool J (who went on to NCIS Los Angeles) and Christian Slater along with several newer faces such as Kathryn Morris (who went into Cold Case), Patricia Velasquez and Clifton Collins Jr.

Val Kilmer eats cake: no one is surprised.

Mindhunters tells of a group of young FBI agents who are training to become profilers. Part of their training is to be taken to an island called Omega Island, by their trainer Jake Harris (Kilmer) to profile a fake serial killer who has committed a fake crime. Along for the ride is a cop (LL Cool J) who is observing Harris’ training methods.

Unfortunately for our crew, there is a real serial killer on the island, one who is slowly picking them off one by one, but has someone snuck on the island to perform these murders, or is Harris a nutbag killer himself, or is it one of the students with some kind of grudge?

Even though it doesn’t really read as a super film, and more a direct to DVD loser, I actually really dig this film, but as I stated earlier, that’s mainly due to my love of police procedural shows. It’s an eclectic cast who shouldn’t work together really, but that adds to the suspicion and mistrust.

Kilmer and Slater are really only here for the cache their names provide, and don’t appear for great periods of time.

L to R: Morris, Velasquez, Collins Jr, LL Cool J and Miller

Essentially this film is nothing more than an 80s slasher, with a group of people trapped in a remote location with a killer on the lose, but the Saw-like traps, and oddball characters make it a far more interesting watch.
Score: ****

Mindhunters DVD menu screen

Format: This film was reviewed on the Australian release region 4 DVD which runs for approximately 101 minutes and is presented in a pretty good 2.35:1 image with an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Score: ****

Extras: You would this a DTV film like this would not have many extras, but it does!

Director Renny Harlin gives us a pretty good commentary about the making of the film and various other aspects of this film, including actually FBI procedures. One thing I really like about this commentary is that the dialogue of the film is subtitled during the commentary so you can still follow the script whilst Harlin is making his musings.

Profiling Mindhunters is a collection of interviews with cast and crew about what it rook to create the film.

Stunt Sequence looks at the behind the scenes choreography of the stunts, focusing on one particular scene that had an extensive fight sequence.

A Director’s Walk Through Crimetown sees Harlin look at the mock up town used in the film as the training ground for the young FBI trainees. 

There are also trailers on this disc for The Longest Yard, Layer Came, The Marksman and xXx: The Next Level.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: It’s not the greatest film but it’s compelling, and I give it a regular respin.

Slater’s performance? Smashing!

Italy Day Review: Cailtiki the Immortal Monster (1959)

One from the to watch pile…
Caltiki the Immortal Monster (1959)

Film: I was involved in a conversation the other day on Facebook about Italian horror film directors, and basically the question was ‘other than Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento and Mario Bava, who is your favourite Italian horror film director?’

This proposes an interesting point: most of us who are Italian horror fans rely on those three directors as our go-to men for European horror, and why not? Argento chills us with his deft hand with giallo, Fulci thrills with his gory-laden zombie output, and Bava… well, Bava is Bava: a director whose eye for setting, and lighting a scene is unsurpassed, and who is European cinematic royalty… no, WORLDWIDE cinematic royalty!

This film, 1959’s Caltiki the Immortal Monster, aka Caltiki il Monstro Immortale, is Bava’s first directorial attempt, though he is uncredited. Credited director Riccardo Freda left the project halfway through, claiming he wished the producers, who had previously mistreated Bava, would recognise what a talent he actually is. Bava himself described this as his first film.

Caltiki the Immortal Monster tells of a group of archeologists who are set upon by an amorphous thing when investigating an ancient Mayan temple. One of the expedition is killed, and another injured by the creature, and the only way to help him is to cut off the piece of the creature that is attached to his arm.

We make it back to civilisation and discover not only had the victim of the attack gone slightly mad (actually, he was somewhat of a jerk in the first case, so one hardly notices) but the now-removed thing on his arm hasn’t only grown, it has also multiplied… can mankind survive this creature, or is it doomed to suffer the same fate as the Mayan’s did many years before..

This film is very much a product of what some countries were doing in this time. The success of the Universal horror and scifi films, and their competitors, had changed cinema somewhat and had created an industry were professors were heroes, me monsters, alien or terrestrial, are the enemy.

One of the real surprising things about this film is that even though it’s origins in the American black and white scifi and horror films, it has a lot of European sauce through it. There is a scene of a native dance that is surprising in its explicitness for its time. Now I don’t mean there is full frontal nudity, but the native girl gyrates in a manner quite over the top for the time it was filmed. For that matter, it’s surprisingly gruesome for the same time!

The effects showing the gore is pretty good too, and really only falls over with a miniature scene of two, and honestly can be forgiven when the time is to be taken into consideration. There’s one particular matte painting which fails too due to an actor’s shadow being cast over the image, which reveals it has no depth of field.

The story by Fillipo Sanjist is a quaint mix of American films of a similar period, with smart adventurous scientists, a monster and a threat from space filling its script. It does borrow heavily from The Blob (Caltiki is a Blob like creature and attached itself to a man’s arm) and has elements of Quatermass and Lovecraft within its universe.

What’s really weird for me was that I got a real Doctor Who and the Seeds of Doom vibe off the whole affair, and was mentally comparing it to that!

The best thing about the film is how you can actually see Bava’s use of light to create depth. Something he does much better in color, but it is still extraordinarily impressive when doing it with black and white. You can really see the beginnings here of what will become an amazing career.

I really liked this film and am happy to include it both my Mario Bava and Arrow films collection.

Score: ****

Format: The reviewed copy of the film was the UK Arrow films region B Bluray (which also comes with a DVD copy) which runs for approximately 76 minutes and has a strikingly good 2K restored, 1.66:1 image with an efficient mono audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: There is a real great bunch of extras on this disc. The first thing is two commentaries, one from horror historian and Bava buff Tim Lucas, which is a technically complete commentary with many insights into the making of the film and the other is from Italian horror movie expert Troy Howarth, writer of giallo bible So Deadly So Perverse, which covers a lot of the same ground as Lucas’, though Howarths is far more conversational and less formal.

From Quatermass to Caltiki sees writer Kim Newman talk about not just this film, but what influenced it and what it influenced.

There is a really cool full aperture version of the film which removes any in-camera matte work so the joy of Bava’s cinematography and effects work can be better appreciated.

Archival Features has some previously released extras of the film including a 20 minute discussion about Riccardo Freda, with film critic Stefano Della Casa. The Genesis of Caltiki which talks about the film with Luigi Cozzi. There is an Archival introduction to the film, again with Stefano Della Casa. There is also a US theatrical trailer and alternate US opening titles.

As with many of Arrow’s releases this comes with a reversible cover, and an illustrated booklet featuring essays by Kat Ellinger, Roberts Curti and Tim Lucas.

Score: *****

WISIA: This is exactly what WISIA is all about: I thoroughly enjoyed the film but can’t see myself visiting it again.

Under the Bed (2012) Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Score: **

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

Score: ****

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

Score: 0

WISIA: In short, probably no.

The Darkness (2015) Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Score: **1/2

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

Score: ****

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

Score: **

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

Easter Review: Bunny the Killer Thing (2015)

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

One from the to watch pile…

Bunny the Killer Thing (2015)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Score: ****

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

Score: ****

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

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

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

There is also a trailer.

Score: ***1/2

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

Easter Review: Critters 2 (1988) 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Score: ****

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

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Only a trailer I’m afraid.

Score: *

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

Doctor Strange (2016) Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Score: **

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

Score: *****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Score: *****

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

The Apparition (2012) Review

One from the re-watch pile…

The Apparition (2012)


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

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

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


Did that sound convincing? Good.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Score: *1/2


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

Score: *****

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

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

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

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

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

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

Score: **

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


Zombruary Review: Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)

On our last review of Zombruary, we have one from the re watch pile…
Dellamorte Dellamore aka The Cemetery Man (1994)

Film: Shameless Screen Entertainment tricked me. Being a completist, I can’t help but grab every release they do as they have numbers clearly shown on the spine of each DVD or bluray they release. 

Cheeky buggers.

But I have to admit my chagrin may be not as severe as it could be, as through the perpetual purchases of their product, I have watched some films that I possible would never had been exposed to the likes of Who Watched Her Die or Torso.

This however is a film I would have grabbed even if I wasn’t a nutjob collector. This film has always been of interest to me for several reasons: it’s based on the comic Dylan Dog and I’m a sucker for comic movies, it stars Anna Falchi who is just exquisite (and has an amazing body which is shown off several times in this film), and is directed by Michele Soavi, who also directed Stagefright and The Church, two films I love!

Our story tells of gravedigger, Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) who doesn’t just bury the dead, but also has the job at a graveyard of re-burying the Dead who have returned to life, or ‘returners’ as he calls them along with his sidekick/ employee Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro).

Dellamorte Dellamore: Rupert Everett as our hero!

Whilst at a gravesite one day he sees a widow, referred to as ‘She’ (Anna Falchi), who is burying her husband, and he decides she is the most beautiful living person he has ever seen, and decides he needs to pursue her.

He eventually lands his prize, but she dies of fright after seeing her returned deceased husband, Dellamorte’s life starts to decline… and perhaps his mental stability too, after he is visited by death itself, and doppelgänger of his beloved….

Dellamorte Dellamore: Anna Falchi… sigh.

It’s a great movie, with great looking zombies and a real different way of looking at the ‘zombie problem’ and it’s full of black comedy and with a nihilistic ending which is a surprising flip in tone, and is entertaining throughout.

Score: ****1/2

Dellamorte Dellamore DVD menu screen

Format: This U.K. Release from Shameless Screen Entertainment on DVD runs for approximately 103 minutes and is presented with an OK, 16:9 image with a similar Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. The audio is available in English or Italian with English subtitles. It basicLly a good image, but has a touch of pixelation here and there and the colours sometimes run flat.

Score: ***

Extras: The disc opens with reviews for other Shameless Screen Entertainment releases Four Flies on Grey Velvet and Cannibal Holocaust.

Other extras include a trailer, a gallery (which is a usual pretty boring piece, only 15 photos from Alan Jones’ personal collection, some behind the scenes shots and a few pics of the script and a poster), there is a Shameless Trailer Park which features trailers for other Shameless releases Venus in Furs, The Frightened Woman, Who Saw Her Die, The Designated Victim, Oasis of Fear, Baba Yaga, Footprints on the Moon, Satan’s Baby Doll, The Beast in Space, The Strange Vice of Mrs Watch, Almost Human and Don’t Torture a Duckling.

There is also a fantastic commentary by Soavi and writer Gianni Romoli which really gets into the nuts and bolts of the making of the film, though it is , as expected, in Italian with English subtitles.

Journalist Alan Jones has also provided an interesting personal account of the Ma king of the film in an accompanying booklet.

Score: ****

WISIA: It’s a gem. You’ll watch it again and again!

Dellamorte Dellamore: a Zombie’s Guide to the Scout Apocalypse

Zombeavers (2014) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Zombeavers (2014)

Zombeavers Australian Bluray cover

Film: Yeah. You read that right. Zombeavers. The film that takes all the very best from Zombies, and adds it to beavers.

Beavers. You know, the dam building, buck toothed water-dwelling mammals.

Yeah. Them.

Our story begins as Eight Legged Freaks and Return of the Living Dead 2 did, and probably hundreds of other horror films, with a truck accidentally dropping chemical/ medical waste into a river, which unfortunately changes a few members of the local wildlife into undead killing machines… ok, it’s beavers.

It’s where the film gets it’s clever title from.

Zombeavers: Mary, Zoe and Jenn.

Unfortunately for sorority sisters Mary (Rachel Melvin), Zoe (Courtney Palm) and Jenn (Lexi Atkins), the mutated zombie-beavers take up residence in the lake just outside of her cousin’s house where they have decided to take a weekend sabbatical, without their boyfriends.

Of course, their obnoxious boyfriends Sam (Hutch Dano), Tommy (Jake Weary) and Buck (Peter Gilroy) turn up and their sabbatical turns into a weekend of sex and odious behaviour… sounds awesome!

Very soon, the Zombeavers descend upon the group and no one is safe from the teeth that bite and claws that slash… who will survive the night, and will the virus the Zombeavers spread kill them all?

Zombeavers: a zombeaver.

Who cares? They are all douchebags!

Zombeavers is the only film to date to be directed by Jordan Rubin, who is normally a comedy writer and has worked with people like Conan O’Brian and on TV shows like Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Crank Yankers and The Man Show. It was also written by Rubin along with Al and Jon Kaplan.

It starts with an awesome Scooby Doo styled beginning, is full of some preposterously bad CGI and some real silly practical effects, is full of lame gags and has scenes lifted out of films like Creepshow 2, Black Sheep and the Scary Movie series, and yet still somehow entertained. Not due to fine performances or exquisite wit, but just for the sheer stupidity of the concept and execution.

Make sure you still around for the end credits and the Frank Sinatra styled, crooning Zombeavers song: it’s now been stuck in my head for 2 hours!

Score: *1/2

Zombeavers bluray menu screen

Format: Thankfully, Zombeavers only runs for 77 minutes and is presented, on this Australian region B bluray release, in a good 1.78:1 image with an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Score: ****1/2

Extras: Nothing, not a sausage.

Score: 0

WISIA: It’s so stupid, and yet with a weird funny charm to it… I hate to admit it, but I may actually watch this again.

Zombeavers: zombeaver/ human hybrid.