Lords of Chaos (2018)

One from the to watch pile…

Lords of Chaos (2018)

Film: In addition to collecting movies, and books, and toys, and comics, I am also, stupidly, a record collector. This is an expensive hobby that is wonderful and a money pot if you allow it to be. As I am a movie lover, I predominantly own soundtracks to films, but I also have a fair bit of new wave, synth wave and heavy metal.

Now I understand that within the sub-genres of metal there is some quite opposed to each other, but I just don’t know why we can’t just all get along. Thematically, I do tend to lean more towards the harder, darker side of metal when I listen to it, though seeing as how my significant other is a country and western fan, I listen to it by myself. I also have read many biographies about musical artists and amongst those is a book by Didrik Søderlind and Michael Moynihan called Lords of Chaos, whose popularity is probably WHY this film was made as it is a fascinating story, and to paraphrase an old saying, the truth is almost always stranger than fiction.

Lords of Chaos tells the tale of Øystein Aarseth aka Euronymous (Rory Culkin), from whose point of view the entire tale is told, and the inception of a musical sub genre called Norwegian Black Metal.

Euronymous has a band called Mayhem which is looking for a new singer, which they find in a young man from Norway nicknamed ‘Dead’ (Jack Kilmer) who has a severe case of depression and a suicidal nature.

Euronymous has an ‘inner circle’ of devout followers to whom he preached the bands themes of destruction and rebellion, but it wasn’t until he met a young man named Varg Vikernes (Emory Cohen) that someone actually decided to act upon them.

Varg’s yearning for acceptance means he is willing to take Euronymous’ word as gospel, and eventually it seems Varg is more of a believer than Euronymous…. and this competition can only end in bloodshed.

Apparently, those who have survived this story, which has a subtext of ‘based on truth… and lies… ‘ have been critical of the accuracy of the film but a good filmmaker doesn’t always let the truth get in the way of a good story: the film ‘24 Hour Party People’ is a good example of this, where even within the confines of the film itself, the real people the film is representing appear to deny claims made about them, which makes for a seriously meta experience. Varg Vikernes was one who apparently particularly made commentary about the lack of accuracy within the film with reference to his character, and also it’s apparently not true that Euronymous had a girlfriend during some of the events of this film, but any excuse to see Sky Ferreira (from Eli Roth’s Green Inferno) is a good one, right?

As for the quality of the film itself, it’s completely engaging and the cast are a likeable bunch of teenage miscreants and Rory Culkin certainly makes the film his own and he controls every scene he is in even if he’s not the focus at that moment. The subtleties of his performance really makes ring true.

The director, Jonas Åkerlund certainly gets the best out of all the actors and his re-telling of some scenes from different points of view really makes this film tragic as well as just a fun ‘let’s make a band’ film. What’s also amazing, and this might be a result of his Swedish heritage, he really knows how to make places look cold, and the bleakness of the environment reflects the attitudes the characters have towards each other… well initially.

Another choice that was made to make this film more agreeable with an audience not into the music is that it doesn’t actually appear on the soundtrack too frequently. This was a wise decision and the music is only really present during performances so the story of the people and the scene, which is what the movie is about takes precedence over the music.

From the amazing cinematography to great acting and sublime direction, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this film and really think anyone who is into music biopics should look into it, even if they aren’t into the music.

Score: ****1/2

Format: The film was reviewed with the Umbrella Entertainment DVD release and is presented in a thoroughly decent 1.85:1 image with a matching 5.1 audio.

Score: ****

Extras: When one considers this is based on a true story, it’s a shame they couldn’t find any extras. There is a couple of cool interviews on the Arrow Bluray release so if extras are important to you, that might be an option.

Score: 0

WISIA: This is one of those films that the filmmaker has been so careful in creating subtleties in the mise-en-scène that it really does take a couple of watches to take it all in. Make SURE you watch it more than once!

Reform School Girls (1986)

One from the re-watch pile…

Reform School Girls (1986)

Film: The Women In Prison (WIP) subgenre of exploitation films has been around for a long time, the first really of note being 1933’s Ladies They Talk About which starred Barbara Stanwick and Lillian Roth. The genre continued not just in films but also in the men’s pulp magazine like Argosy and even still continues to this day with stuff like 2009’s Sugar Boxx, though the post 60s films were slightly saucier than the ones previous to that decade.

Reform School Girls was a 1980s entry in the subgenre, written by Jack Cummins (co-writer of another WIP film The Concrete Jungle) and directed by Tom DiSimone who also directed The Concrete Jungle as well as other exploitation classics like Savage Streets and Hell Night.

Reform School Girls tells of the ‘fresh meat’ being delivered to a girl’s reform school for rehabilitation. Jenny (Linda Carol) decides to be a ‘protector’ of sorts to psychologically damaged Lisa (Sherri Stoner) and it’s something she desperately needs in this particular reform school as it’s run by the vicious warden Sutter (Sybil Danning), her fearful second-in-command Edna (Pat Ast) and a group of lecherous cruel guards.

Problem is though, the guards aren’t the only ingredients in this prison that are potentially deadly. The dorm bully is Charlie (Wendy O. Williams) who is constantly causing trouble for our heroes. Thankfully, there is relief in the form of the school psychologist Dr Norton (Charlotte McGinnis) but that doesn’t matter to Jenny, because she is slowly formulating a plan to escape…

From an exploitation point of view, this film has some epic exploitation pedigree, from the director’s previous output, the appearances from the They’re Playing With Fire and The Howling 2’s Sybil Danning, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning’s Tiffany Helm, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Loves Darcy DeMoss, Heat’s Pat Ast and most importantly, The Plasmatic’s singer Wendy O. Williams.

Does that make it a good example of the genre though?

Well, no.

At it’s best, Reform School Girls is a parody of WIP films, and really doesn’t stretch itself beyond the generic tropes it’s type: naked shower scenes, delousing, food hall fights, initiations, fire hose torture etc, and it does all seem to be done quite tongue in cheek… especially when you consider the uniforms for Pridemore doesn’t include pants, and the bed clothing consists of everything from g-strings and bras, to aerobic fitness tights rejected from the Olivia Newton-John ‘Physical’ filmclip.

Unfortunately for the film, it’s so badly acted that it fails to execute the timing of any comedy it attempts, and any times it attempts to take itself seriously, it fails miserably. Also, for a ‘reform school’, there isn’t an inmate less than 25 years old!

When this came out, I am sure for a young man that the amount of female nudity would have been a great reason to watch it, but with the level of nudity available on the internet I’m sure it’s not so appealing now. It does, however, have an amazing soundtrack… mainly featuring Wendy O. Williams… which kicks arse.

Score: **

Format: This movie was reviewed on the Umbrella Entertainment DVD release, presented in a decent 1.77:1 image with a 2.0 Mono soundtrack that does the job well enough.

Score: ***

Extras: Not a sausage. Not even a disc menu.

Score: 0

WISIA: I saw thins when it was first released on VHS back in the 80s and this is the first time I’ve watched it since. The next time I watch it will probably be in two new formats time, for whatever the future of the internet looks like, but not before that.

Ouija House (2018)

One from the to watch pile…

Ouija House (2018)

Film: The cover to this film boldly presents this film to star both American Pie’s Tara Reid and The O.C.’s Mischa Barton which I find really weird as it seems to me that having their names on a DVD is like those awful photos and warnings that you find on a cigarette packet, though just like those warnings, those of us addicted to horror sally forth regardless and suck up their awful goodness.

Maybe the addition of Dee Wallace (Cujo) takes the edge off?

I’d like to suggest that perhaps Carly Schroeder’s name helps too, but I’m not sure one of the Lizzie MacQuire stars is quite horror royalty.

Anyway, I should point out that this is not a part of the ‘Ouija’ film series that includes ‘Ouija’ (2014) and ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’ (2016) but instead one of the knock offs using the ‘Ouija’ name to tap into some of those films popularity… did they even have enough popularity to even do that?!?

If we are even questioning that, I guess they MUST have!

This film was directed by Ben Demaree, the director of Apocalypse Pompeii and Dear Diary I Died, and was written by Justin Hawkins and Jeff Miller, who also co-wrote 2019’s Dolls.

Our tale of the Ouija House begins in 1988, with a group of people, (including Tara Reid and Tiffany Shepis) who are in what appears to be an old, unused house where it was rumoured murder and torture and witchcraft occurred, using a Ouija board to communicate with any spirits who may exist within the house. Of course, this being a horror movie and not an historical drama, everything ends badly.

Flash forward to now, and we are introduced to Laurie Fields (Carly Schroeder) who is studying demonology at University (cool uni!) and intends on going to the same house, her Aunt’s, for research, even though her mother Katherine (Dee Wallace Stone) has strictly forbidden it.

Laurie goes against her wishes and travels to the house regardless with her friends, Nick (Mark Grossman), Tina (Grace DeMarco) and Spence (Derrick A. King), where they will be meeting her cousin Samantha (Mischa Barton).

The house seems normal enough but after Tina finds a doll, she begins to act… off, and the supernatural shenanigans begin…

The premise of the story is actually pretty good, and even the some of the performances are ok: it’s cheap popcorn horror, but it’s executed well. There’s some pretty stupid inconsistencies in the story, and I mean glaring, dumbass inconsistencies, but there are a few conceptual ideas that are pretty innovative… none I can discuss without spoiling the movie, so please, just trust me.

Barton and Reid are clearly here for name purposes only, though I’m not sure if their names either hit the young hip horror crowd, or the older, degenerative fans (like me, and you can tell I’m one of them as I used the word ‘hip’. These days it’s more ‘hip replacement’). I think the marketing department on Ron Lee Productions need to look deeper into who is cult-popular and cheap.

Overall, it’s a tidy, and mildly innovative story, with a cute cast and a soundtrack reminiscent of some 80s synth scores (by Johnathon Price) so it gets an extra bit of credit from me for that.

Score: **

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Umbrella Entertainment Australian DVD release, presented in a decent and unblemished 1.77:1 image with a clear and precise 5.1 audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: Nothing, not even a DVD menu screen.

Score: 0

WISIA: I can confirm any prediction that may suggest I will never watch this again. Not because it’s bad, but just because it’s a one-watch screamer.

Krull (1983)

One from the to watch pile, even though it’s technically a rewatch, though I haven’t seen the film since it’s first release on VHS in the 80s…

Krull (1983)

Film: I am terribly sorry to those of you who love the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings/ Hobbit films, but they aren’t for me. I don’t like ‘em. Sure they are technological achievements in cinema and Jackson fulfilled a lifelong dream, but they are just so looooooooooooooong, and boring.

Yep. Boring.

What I want from a fantasy film is expediency in storytelling, a story that tells a Dungeons and Dragon styled ‘bunch of rogues versus impossible evil’ tale, a pile of violence, and maybe, just maybe, boobs.

Krull was directed by Peter Yates, who directed things like The Deep, An Innocent Man and Eyewitness, from a script by Stanford Sherman, who wrote a whole bunch of episodes of the Batman TV show from the 60s, and honestly, that possibly shows with this movie.

Krull tells of the occupants of the planet called… Krull! Krull has a scourge on its surface though in the form of the Beast (voiced by Trevor Martin), and his constantly teleporting vehicle/ castle/ meteor The Black Fortress.

On the evening of the wedding of opposing kingdoms Colwyn (Ken Marshall) and his bride, Lyssa (Lysette Anthony), The Beast attacks and everyone is killed, except for Colwyn, and Lyssa is kidnapped. With everyone from both sides of the family killed, Colwyn in now the king of a united kingdom, but has no army.

So, he travels across the land, collecting a band of miscreants, including a cyclops who is cursed to see his own death (Bernard Bresslaw), a wizard (David Battley), an elderly seer (Freddie Jones) and a gang of escaped convicts (including Robbie Coltrane, Liam Neeson and Alun Armstrong with several others) overcoming many obstacles and adventures until they finally find themselves at the gates of The Black Fortress, ready to save the princess trapped inside.

So, yes, what you see here is the classic fantasy story with all the tropes, like kidnapped princess, evil bad guy, ragtag gang of heroes, charming male lead, that has been used in everything from Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories, to Star Wars and even video games, and Krull doesn’t try to rise above and challenge those lofty themes.

The world of Krull, like Star Wars, is a wholly fantasy one that exists outside of any Earthly timeline… perhaps it too, is a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… though it appears to be set in a D&D styled environment, with a little sci-fi thrown in for good measure.

As I mentioned, the script is as one would expect. It’s camp and attempts a Shakespearean styled dialogue even though what they are saying is melodramatic claptrap… which I guess is perfectly Shakespearean! Thankfully the performances are solid, and the direction and cinematography is amazing. The exterior shots are impressive long shots which show amazing scenery, and the smaller scenes and interiors, all filmed in a soundstage a Pinewood Studios incredibly, look fine.

The special effects are occasionally clunky, but it’s to be expected. In actual fact some of them are quite effective, like the stop-motion crystal spider and even the cyclops’s prosthetic eye, though Bresslaw’s lack of vision is occasionally apparent when he has trouble manipulating objects.

There is also a couple of effects which are surprisingly gruesome for a G rated film, especially in regards to the Beast’s appearance, and the fact that his H. R. Giger-ish soldier’s head split open and release a bloody worm that burrows into the ground.

Krull is a fun rollicking adventure that you can watch with the kids. Sure it’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but it’s charm outweighs how derivative it might appear.

Score: ***1/2

Format: This bluray release of Krull from Umbrella Australia is presented in a 2.35:1 image with a Dolby DTS 5.1 audio, both of which are really nice for a film that’s 30 years old.

Score: *****

Extras: There’s a nice mix of extras on this disc.

We have two commentaries (found under the ‘Audio’ selection rather than in the extras). One is a cast and crew commentary performed by director Peter Yates and performers Ken Marshall and Lysette Anthony and another labelled a ‘Behind the Scenes’ Commentary, which features a reading taken from Cinefantastique, a now deceased sci-fi magazine.

In the regular Extras section, there is a trailer for the film, Journey to Krull, a half hour TV special on the making of the film and finally, a look at the Marvel Comics Movie Special of Krull, which came out in 1982 (Marvel Comics, in the 80s, and after the success of the comics of both Star Wars and to a lesser extent, 2001:A Space Odyssey, was doing heaps of comic adaptations of films, some of which became regular series’s, like the aforementioned Star Wars and The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones). This feature shows panels of the comic with dialogue from the film played over the top.

The cover is also reversible: one side has new art from Simon Sherry and the other has the original poster art from the 80s.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: Now that it’s back under my nose, I’m sure I’ll have no problem putting it in again when I feel like a nice easy watch.

H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon (2001)

One from the rewatch pile…

H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon (2001)

Film: I have a lot to thank Stuart Gordon for. If I had never seen Re-Animator in the 80s, I may never have become the fan of H. P. Lovecraft that I did, which means I may never have become the voracious consumer of horror literature that I am, and the book hoarder that’s associated with that.

Yeah. Thanks, Stuart,

What it does mean though, is that any mention of a film being ‘Lovecraftian’ gets my attention, as even though I have consumed much of his output, I am always interested in what others definition of it is. Just like steampunk isn’t just a gear stuck to a stovepipe hat, Lovecraft isn’t just tentacles and old gods. There is SO much more: an aesthetic that just can’t be described that lightly, so I am not going to attempt it here.

This film, Dagon, is a mixture of Lovecraft’s story of the same name, written in 1917 and published in the journal The Vagrant two years later, and another tale, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, written in 1931, but not published until 1936 as Lovecraft himself didn’t like it. The script for the film was written by Gordon collaborator Dennis Paoli, who also wrote the scripts for Gordon’s films Re-animator, From Beyond, Castle Freak and The Pit and The Pendulum.

Entrepreneur Paul Marsh (Ezra Godden) keeps having a dream of a mysterious underwater city and a beautiful mermaid who dwells there, even whilst on a sailing holiday of the coast of Spain with his beautiful girlfriend, Bárbara (Rena Moreño) and their investors, Howard (Brenda Price) and Vicki (Birgit Bofarull).

One afternoon they all hear some mysterious chanting coming from the shore, and very soon a storm swiftly moves in. Howard goes to move the boat away from a reef they were anchored near, but the storm is too fast, and the yacht is smashed against some rocks, painfully trapping Vicki’s leg in the rent in the wooden hull.

With all their communications conveniently down, Paul and Bárbara go to shore in a dingy to find help but what they quickly find is a town full of strange misshapen people who pray to an old god and whom Paul seems to have a history… or a destiny with. This becomes even more apparent when he meets the wheelchair-bound Uxia (Marcarena Gómez) who is the spitting image of his dream mermaid…

Now this story doesn’t resemble Lovecraft’s text greatly, mainly due to the modern setting, but thematically it does its best to delivery the ideas in it. In general though, one can’t be too critical of that as every Lovecraft film Gordon has done resembles Lovecraft’s text only on a surface level, and I don’t mind that as Re-animator and From Beyond are pretty awesome… especially Re-animator, which is my favourite film of all time, without fail.

The story of this film is pretty interesting and the mixture of the Lovecraft tales works well together. Gordon’s direction is typically wonderful, but if I must criticise the film for anything, it’s use of CGI effects is far too early, and considering what Gordon is able to do with practical effects, these stick out awfully… even moreso in this Bluray presentation.

For a film that was made almost twenty years after Gordon’s Re-animator, there is an aesthetic cast revelation in Godden that Gordon likes his heroes to be very much like Jeffrey Coombs portrayal as Herbert West. The rest of the cast is good as well (is it just me or does Moreño have an uncanny resemblance to a young Elle MacPherson) though the Spanish film legend Francisco Rabal, and I don’t want to be disrespectful to someone who has worked since 1943, has a monologue that is barely comprehensible, and when you consider this monologue tells the history of how the town came to worship Dagon, it’s pretty bloody important!

This is nowhere near Gordon’s greatest work, but it is a nice addition to his output of Lovecraft tales.

Score: ***1/2

Format: This film was reviewed on the Umbrella Entertainment, region B Bluray which runs for 98 minutes and has a nice 1.77:1 image with an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio.

Score: ****

Extras: There’s a couple of extras on this disc, none of which are really that special:

B-roll/ Making Of is NOT what the title would suggest and is instead some shot-on-video of the cast and crew at work.

Interviews with Macarena Gómez, Stuart Gordon, Raquel Meroño and Ezra Godden reveal their experiences on the set, sometimes their first times, and it’s a pleasant, casual series of interviews.

Interviews from the Set is more with Stuart Gordon and Ezra Godden, on the set of the film and they talk about what the film is about.

There is also a teaser, trailer and TV spots for the film. Weirdly, the trailer doesn’t default to the screen edge of you Tv and instead, hovers in the middle with black bars all round.

The presentation of the film, the third in Umbrella’s Beyond Genres series, is immaculate. The slipcase and slick art by Simon Sherry is spectacular (seriously Umbrella, get this art on T-shirts ASAP!!!), and the inner sleeve has the original tale by Lovecraft, which, if you are ancient like me, may take a magnifying glass to fully appreciate.

Score: ***

WISIA: I love Gordon’s body of work and this, being another loose Lovecraft adaptation, is well worth watching over and over again.

The Endless (2017)

One from the to watch pile…

The Endless (2017)

Film: Occasionally, a film comes along that surprises you. I like to think I know what’s going on within the world of genre films, I read several horror news blogs and magazines, I listen to a few horror/ genre podcasts but I guess in a world where SO many films can be made SO quickly it can be hard to keep abreast of the releases.

Somehow, this film of UFO cultish, time-bending supernaturality completely passed me by!

This film was written by Justin Benson, and directed by him and his regular directing partner, Aaron Moorhead who previous made Resolution (which contains a theme used as a small part of this film) and Spring. These two also star as the lead actors.

This film is about Brothers Aaron (Moorhead) and Justin (Benson) who left a UFO cult ten years ago as he believed that they were on the cusp of committing an act of mass suicide which they declared to be ‘the Ascension’ and hoped to find their way in the big old world. Through this time, Justin has convinced the younger Aaron that the cult was a horrible place that was not at all full of any normalcy.

They mysteriously receive a video tape from the cult, and in the ten years that have passed, none of the cultists in the video seem to have aged, and Aaron wants to go back to visit, even though Justin repeated warns him that it is a bad idea.

They return but find that nothing has changed… nothing… and that the entire cult seems to be stuck in some kind of bubble of time that keeps them safe. The problem is, the bubble seems to be a trap set by some being who sends them messages by delivering the photographs and video tapes, or is it a trap… and are others caught in it if it is and is there a ‘something’ out there, or is the cult suffering from a mass delusion?

So many questions, and the answers are innovative and interesting and this film, even though its low budget and low-fi is a fascinating sci-fi/ horror that turns regular tropes of both types of films on their heads, with some decent acting, ok direction and a surprise cameo by Lew Temple!

This film was a surprising first watch, and one that fans of thoughtful sci-fi, not your mass-market Star Wars-y stuff, will probably enjoy, considering elements of it even seem to harken back to ideals proposed by Lovecraft of something bigger being our there and controlling us.

One warning though, this isn’t a gore-fest, special effects laden feature. If you are looking for that go somewhere else, but if you want Story and texture, you might just dig this.

Score: ****

Format: This review was done with the Umbrella region 4 DVD release of the film which runs for approximately 111 minutes and is presented in an average 2.40:1 image with a 5.1 audio track. When I say average though, it is more to do with it low budget rather than it being a damaged print. The print is fine, but it obviously wasn’t filmed with the latest in cinema technology.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: None to speak of at all.

Score: 0

WISIA: I actually think this film NEEDS to be watched more than once for a full absorption of its ideas.

Drive-In Delirium: The New Batch (2018)

One from the to watch pile…

Drive-In Delirium: The New Batch (2018)

The cover to Drive-In Delirium:The New Batch

Film: Whenever anyone, and I mean ANYONE I know, goes and sees a movie, the first question I ask is never ‘was it good?’, it’s always ‘what we’re the trailers before the movie?’ I guess I’m a fan of the anticipation of what is coming rather than what is available.

It’s that secret nerd thing of knowing what is coming out, I guess.

I think it began when I first started becoming a film fan and was hooked on the monthly visit to the video shop. In actual fact, the first VCR my family owned ( top of the line, with a corded remote control) came with a free movie which we could swap for free from good ol’ Joyce Mayne at Auburn. Now occasionally the movie would suck, but I’d rewatch the trailers at the beginning over and over agin so I’d know what to ask my parents to get next time they went over, and my parents were pretty cool so I’d usually get what I wanted.

(As an aside, we once had my father’s choice of Convoy for about two months, a week of which I was sick off school and I spent my days watching and rewatching that movie over and over, to the point I can still, 30 years later, recite the entire film… I was considering performing it as a one-man show with me both as Kris Kristofferson and Ali McGraw)

The Video Dead Masthead

Anyway, what we have here is the third volume on Bluray from Umbrella Entertainment of their Drive-In Delirium series, the previous of which were ‘60s and 70s Savagery’ and ‘Maximum 80s Overdrive’ which both obvious had their focuses on the decades suggested by their titles.

Thankfully this isn’t focusing on the great horror movies of the 90s because, honestly, it would be about ten minutes long… sorry kids, the 90s sucked for horror, even Fangoria had to put Batman Returns and Jurassic Park on the cover of the mag… but instead has a super mix of stuff from all decades and genres.

The disc is divided into three parts. The first is called ‘The Quickening’, and features a mixed bag of trailers of all genres of B movies, from sci-fi stuff like X-tro to comedy like The Nude Bomb. The second section is called ‘The Spawning’ and is a bunch of horror movies and if I’m totally honest, was the focus for me on this disc. I was particularly excited to see the trailer for ‘Demented’ again, a film I never saw, but always wanted too… maybe it’s time to start looking for it again.

The Terror in the Aisles Masthead

These first two parts have some pretty cool adverts and public announcements before, at ‘intermission’ and after, of special note is the totally off-the-wall anti-smoking and starring none other than R2-D2 and C-3PO.

Finally, we have a series of trailers taken from VHS and I kid you not, if you were old enough to have ever hired a Roadshow Home Video tape, you’ll be well aware of a big bunch of these images, and the Australian voiceover preceding each one.

The difference between the first two chapters and the last is that the first two have had a bit of a clean up on the trailers, but the VHS ones are of varying quality, none of which are detrimental to the viewing of the trailers, but they are a bit scratchy nevertheless.

Nostalgia bit me big time with this disc and I enjoyed every second of it!

Score: *****

The menu screen to Derive-In Delirium: The New Batch

Format: This selection of trailers was watched on the Umbrella Entertainment Bluray which is multi-region. All the sound is of a decent quality and is presented in 2.0, but the images are of a varying degree of quality and aspect ratio depending on when they were released or on what format they were released.

Score: ***

Extras: It’s all extras!

Score: N/A

WISIA: This is a definite rewatcher, to the point I’d say if I had a few mates over, you could put this on and watch it over a few beers.

The Howling 2 Masthead

Visitors (2003)

One from the to watch pile…

Visitors (2003)

Film: I love a sunburnt cinema, films of sweeping plains, of rugged outback killers, of tough, arse-kicking dames… yeah, I love Australian films. Not the artsy, fartsy ones that proper critics love, but instead the dumb, violent, Ozploitative stuff made famous recently by Mark Hartley’s awesome doco ‘Not Quite Hollywood’.

I’m never sure that Ozploitation quite left us completely and this film, 2003’s Visitors might be a good example of that. Not only does it tell a story of an attractive woman left to protect herself, it’s also written by Everett De Roche, writer of Razorback and Harlequin, but it’s also directed by Richard Franklin, who gave us Road Games and Patrick.

Visitors tells of Georgia Perry (Radha Mitchell), am around-the-world yachtswoman whose efforts have come to a shuddering halt due to a lack of wind, and she is left in the middle of the ocean, static, surrounded by a huge unforgiving fog.

Being stuck for so long, though, starts to effect her mind and she starts to have bizarre flights of fancy involving strange tattooed men, pirates and dreams of her mother, father and aunts, but are they real? Is it just her mental state screwing with her, or are there more ominous forces at work?

Parts of the background of the story is revealed in a piecemeal, flashback method.. you know, like Pulp Fiction… and the more we see, the more is seems that our heroine’s life may have been unravelling before she even stepped on the deck. It’s an interesting way to tell such a straightforward story when you consider the only real family secret was how her father ended up in a wheelchair.

This is pretty much Radha Mitchell’s Show, and she does it well. She’s likeable and her creeping madness manifests in many ways, some creepy, and some just hilariously bizarre. The addition of Suzanna York to the cast as her oppressive, manipulative mother is fantastic, as are the appearances of Tottie Goldsmith, Dominic Purcell and Ray Barrett.

The problem with this film is though it’s just not very engaging. Whilst Mitchell’s character is a nice enough person who is surrounded by some generic, family tragedies, her plight on the boat would have been enough, but adding the ‘ghosts’ who keep visiting make it difficult to be interested in. To make matters worse, when the stupid reason why they are visiting is revealed, and it’s not just stupid, it’s ridiculous, you’ll be left in a great big pile of ‘what the..?’

I wanted to like this as I like the actors and the writer and director, but it’s just not very good. The addition of SyFy channel quality cgi doesn’t help it too much either.

Score: **

Format: This film was reviewed with the Umbrella Entertainment release DVD and was presented in a clear 2.35:1 image with a matching 5.1 Audio track.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: There is a couple of extras on this disc, including text biographies of the cast and crew (though not Everett De Roche, which seemed out of place), a terrible, out of scale photo gallery (an absolutely worthless addition), the trailer for this film and trailers for Alexandra’s Project, The Rage in Placid Lake, Erskineville Kings and Japanese Story.

Score: **

WISIA: No.

Orca (1977)

One from the to watch pile…

Orca (1977)

Film: I just love cinema, I really do, and one of the things I love is when something becomes popular, or a blockbuster, smaller, not as well funded productions gear up to challenge whatever was the ‘hit’.

After 1975’s Jaws, killer sea life was all the rage: several Jaws sequels, Piranha, Humanoids from the Deep, The Deep, Mako, and this film, Orca (which, ironically, was the name of Quint’s ship in Jaws: the orca being a creature that can kill a great white shark). Orca was directed by Michael Anderson, legendary director of things like The Dambusters, Logan’s Run and Doc Savage, from a script by Luciano Vincenzoni, the writer responsible for The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Policewoman and Raw Deal.

I honestly don’t remember if I have ever seen this film before, but if I have it would have been on TV rather than any of the multiple forms of home video, as I don’t have any recollection of ever hiring the film, and I certainly have never owned it before.

Captain Nolan (Richard Harris) and his crew, Novak (Kennan Wynn), Paul (Peter Hooten) and Annie (Bo Derek, in her first released film… she had filmed one prior but it wasn’t released until after this) hunt sharks to sell, but when they witness a killer whale kill a great white they decide, against the wishes of marine biologist, Rachel Bedford (Charlotte Rampling), turn turn their attention to capturing one of those instead.

So they make their merry way to sea and try to catch a male killer whale, but instead accidentally snag a female, who at first attempts to kill herself to avoid capture by pushing herself against the prop of the boat, but fails, and once slung up, we find that she was also pregnant and she spontaneously aborts the foetus. Her mate spends the whole time in the water freaking out and commits Nolan’s face to memory…

Soon, the boat is attacked by the male and Nolan decides to throw the female overboard, but the male kills Novak and the male pushes the body of his dead mate to shore as a warning to all that he wants his revenge! Even a local Native American, Umilak (Will Sampson) warns Nolan about the memory and capacity for revenge that orcas have.

The small town is attacked by the whale, but will Nolan face up to his responsibilities and clear out of town, leaving it in peace, or will he try to kill the male, and leave the town in pieces?

You have to love a film with an opening action scene that is a clear challenge to Jaws. The destruction, with ease, of the Great White in the beginning is clearly Anderson saying,’ you think Jaws was something, our Killer Whales will make mincemeat out of them!’

The film is made in an exquisite location of Petty Harbour in Canada and every scene makes me want to go their more and more. Upon a bit of research I discovered that ironically two of the tourist locations in this town are whale-watching and their aquarium!

The real winner here is the cast, who do their very best to make do with a story that is preposterous, for example, the orca knowing where to bust a fuel line and what part of the pier it can hit to cause a lot lantern to fall and ignite it: remembering a guy’s face from the water is one thing, but understanding chemistry and physics is something else. It is a horror movie though, so preposterous is to be expected.

Other than the silly idea of a vengeful sea-mammal, the cast don’t really get much of an opportunity to create characters that are sympathetic. The majority of the focus is of Harris’s character and the rest don’t get much of a look in, to the point I reckon that Harris could have performed this as a one-man live stage show! This unfortunately means that whenever something happens to another character, you don’t really care too much, and their deaths seem to be for the purpose of giving Harris some to grieve over and reflect on his character’s stupidity.

I will compliment the special effects crew on the fake orcas: they look amazing in the film and one can’t tell the difference between the real and fake ones except when their situation is out of the ordinary. This is apparently true as well as the trucks delivering the models during the shoot were stopped by anti-whaling protestors!

Orca is a well acted but ultimately silly film that doesn’t seem to have any reason to exist other than as a challenge to Jaws. The cast and the location is really the only reason to watch this film.

Score: ***

Format: This film was reviewed with the Umbrella Entertainment region B Bluray, which runs for approximately 92 minutes is presented in a surprisingly clear 2.35:1and an excellent 5.1 audio track.

Score: ****

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

First there is a commentary by film historian Lee Gambin, anthropologists of Nope, Nothing Wrong Here: The Making of Cujo and Massacred by Mother Nature: Exploring the Natural Horror Film,

Moby Dick ala De Laurentiis: Martha De Laurentiis remembers Orca sees Dino De Laurentiis’s business partner, co-producer of his films and widow discuss briefly the making of Orca.

There is also a trailer for the film.

Score: ***

WISIA: If I felt like watching a movie about sea life gone wild, I’d probably watch any of the Jaws films, any of the Piranha films or Humanoids of the Deep before this one.

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