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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 24

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The Bank Job - 2008 - 6/10

Solid caper / heist flick starring Jason Statham.
Tucked in the cast were David Suchet and Mick Jagger (!! I had to go back and look for him).
Government types use a group of motley crooks to retrieve incriminating photos.
Double crosses, S & M, crooked cops, all make for a fast paced actioner.
Statham is good in this, not merely some running prop for explosives.

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Enemy’s Enemy - 1990 - 7/10
AKA - Fiendens Fiende

Excellent adaptation of Jan Guillou’s Carl Hamilton series.
Commander Hamilton, operative for Swedish military intelligence, is accused of being a double agent.
Rivalries between hostile police and protective military are heightened as the foreign service sends Hamilton abroad.
There are a series of small stories within the overall arc. Location filming includes the Mid-East and Moscow.
Plenty of action, espionage, tentative alliances, and ethical lapses.
This is a spy thriller for adults.
Jan Guillou introduces each episode with a synopsis and insights.
(Guillou, should you look him up, has led an extremely interesting life.)

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Note: Until Halloween, all my postings will be Horror related.

^ Simon Marsden ^

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Zombiepura - 2018 - 3/10

Oh, man, this is embarrassingly bad.
Within a Singapore military post, one of the soldiers catches the “zombie” virus.
Soon, almost everyone is infected, save for a handful of clueless survivors.
The humor is forced and juvenile, actiony bits play out over five to ten sluggish minutes.
Our main female is simply called “Beauty,” the soldiers are unskilled with weapons.
This film is a good 20-30 years behind the times.
I felt bad for the actors, trapped in this cinematic Titanic.
Another 1000 of my brain cells, RIP.

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Pig Hunt - 2008 - 3/10

Half a million flicks available, yet I see this one on the rental shelves and go, “Hoo whee!”
Buncha pampered San Francisco yuppies go hunting for a 3000 lb porker in Northern California.
Our hero intends to take this man-killer down with his trusty crossbow.
Add a Dogpatch community of hillbilly rednecks, and a whole mess of ganja smoking, naked hippie chicks, and you have this future cult winner.

Warning #1 - Every human in this film is box-o-rocks stupid.
Warning #2 - Animal lovers, do not watch this movie whatsoever.

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Mongolian Death Worm - 2010 - 3/10

I found a bad movie in the aisles.
Seconds later, I saw Mongolian Death Worm, easily one of the most ridiculous titles ever.
“Choose me,” it whispered. And the fool listened.
Terrible film, poorly acted, the worms were closer to giant grubs who dined on innocent humans and gangsters.
As always, gun shooting bad boys can’t hit creatures as big as a truck.
There was a subplot revolving around Genghis Khan’s treasure straight outta Romancing The Stone.
Where I was, within fifteen minutes everyone hit the exits other than me. And the cat. The cat fell asleep.
I would have given it less points, except there were lots of grubworms and they ate lots of meals.
In my book, any movie with carnivorous monsters ought to chomp dozens of humans like they were eating a sack of Long Pork Nuggets.

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The Tomb - 2009 - 5/10

Man … I just knew this was going to blow.
But I saw Wes Bentley, Michael Madsen, Eric Roberts listed on the box. How bad could it be?
Hot Ukranian babe (Sofya Skya wearing get-ups designed to showcase her gravity defying twins) conducts “research” on capturing souls of the recently dead.
Or slain.
Wes Bentley is the unshaven prof / fly who is lured into her parlor.
Blood, absinthe, and spawning round out this bucket fest.
If cut to 45" this would have been fine on the old Friday The 13th television series. Yawn.

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99.9 - 1997 - 4/10

Spanish film about paranormal radio host whose boyfriend goes to a ghost village.
One minute he’s naked, running for his life, then dead.
Of course the female host packs her suitcase, hits the village, and begins questioning everyone in sight.
The title refers to the station radio dial, though if you are cute you could invert those numbers and get … OH NO!
There were gaping loose ends and inconsistencies that ruined a pretty fair horror flick.
I docked this movie because, at the Toronto Film Festival, the director confessed there were aspects of the narrative that didn’t interest him, so he dropped them.
Another wannabe Lynch, Suzuki, or Goddard (take your pick) who delivered a half baked film to viewers.
For gore hounds, mayhem was largely offscreen.
Though there was a sequence near the end, with the three females, the pit and the blood … Ah, if only.

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Mausoleum - 1983 - 4/10

At the cemetery, ten year old Susan wails as mom is being planted.
She runs off, eventually makes her way to a fenced, locked crypt.
Only thing, it opens up for. She enters, ignores a passel of rats, hears the voice.
Turns out, she is a descendant of the Nomed family.
Twenty years later, now married and fabulously rich, the family curse awakens.
See, Nomed, if spelled backwards becomes … oh no!

Growed up Susan gets flirty and frisky with men, only to put the death spell on ’em.
A truly awful movie, I watched with keen interest throughout.
Clearly, producers were trying to emulate Italian horror (Argento, Bava, Fulci).
Tinted lenses, oddball characters, morphing monsters.
Casting a Playboy centerfold ensured nudity and softcore rompings.
Miss September cannot act. To compensate, producers hired players who imitated tree stumps.
But wait! What if the story is great?
Sorry, this is a howler. Watching, I wondered if there was even a script.
Many times, I gathered filmmakers were making it up as they went along.
“Oh, how about we do this?” “Ooh, yes, so cool.”
Nope, stupefyingly terrible. In other words, sheer delight.

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The Autopsy Of Jane Doe - 2016 - 6/10

An unidentified female corpse is found in a gory home invasion slaughterhouse.
The sheriff, spooked by her, nonetheless hauls her to the coroner.
Coroner and assistant, father and son, begin to examine the nude,
Junior, by the way, passed on his hot girlfriend’s offer of wet lovin’ to help ole Pa.
Pezhead.
Straight away, the body indicates shattered bones under unbruised skin, mutilations, mysterious items nestling in the torso.
The radio goes haywire, overhead lights flicker, do the men notice?
Naw, they are too busy examining the naked girl. And neither seems to have ever viewed a Horror flick.
While eerie at times, most of you gentle readers will experience déjà vu with this.

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Hammer Horror: The Warner Bros Years - 2018 - 6/10

Nicely turned documentary on a disappointing period for Hammer.
The 70’s, when they partnered a distribution / financial agreement with Warners.
Hammer’s prime was past, though the influx of cash did not hurt.
Nor did Warners (apparently) interfere with them very much.
Nonetheless, their Gothic look, costumed horror yarns grew out of step with the times.
(Edgier competition included Night Of The Living Dead, The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre.)
Excellent, passionate narrators. The films, so-so.

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Harbinger Down - 2015 - 6/10

Alright horror B-film, unremarkable yet solidly done with a stone faced adult cast.
Arctic crab-fishing boat hauls aboard an icebound chunk of metal with a beacon of sorts.
It’s a Soviet space probe from the 1980’s, with dead cosmonaut inside.
While the crew returns to crabbing, one of the passengers (a science type) decides to dissect the corpse.
Sure enough, there is an alien stowaway who escapes into the darkness of the ship. Then - dinner!
Plot borrows heavily from dozens of films. The Thing, Alien, Life
The hungry critter, which grows rapidly, reminds one of the crawling chaos.
Predictable, with a couple twists, and the acting corps, led by Lance Henricksen, is sturdy.

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Oculus - 2013 - 6/10

Junior gets released from psychiatric ward after years of “observation.”
Seems he whacked ole Pa - after - Pa went nutzo, and starved and murdered Ma, then tried to kill the kids.
Both children survived, by the way, and the adult sister greets her brother in the parking lot.
He wants to heal, she wants revenge.
See, she thinks it was the ornate mirror that was responsible.
Or there was malevolence within.
So she tracks down that looking glass and hangs it in her house!
Film swings back and forth between timelines, and shows the gradual disorientation and disintegration of our modern warriors.
Oft used horror premise is obvious and predictable.
Solid advice - when faced with supernatural evil, flee!

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Edgar Allan Poe: Love, Death, and Women - 2010 - 6/10

Curious documentary on the writer’s female influences.
Actress mother, child bride, fellow poet, and the last attempted fling.
Film follows Poe’s well known chronology, literary career, as well as social skills shortcomings.
Actors play the women, reading from letters and poems. Narrator reads Poe.
Story is intercut with silent films (I could not recognize) and experimental shorts.
In some ways effective, in other ways distracting.
Likewise the score. Ambiant music is mixed with Pink Floyd, The Cure, others.
Perhaps not the first-choice documentary on Poe, and it does have odd moments, yet the theme of the four women in his life provides a unique slant.

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The Void - 2016 - 6/10

Horror flick explodes out the door (literally) and the pace and tension seldom let up from there.
Local cop picks up tweaker tumbling from nearby woods, races to the hospital.
The hospital is closing (most of it has relocated) so staff is slim and supplies low.
Oh, and it appears no one paid those derned power bills cause the lights start to flicker …
just as a pack of white robed, knife carrying spooks surround the place.
There are about ten characters who separate out - what is the matter with them! - and often the peril to each interweaves back and forth.
This is basically a revved up drive-in beast, with a ton of imagination and scenes to burn.
Despite budget limitations, and a couple WTF moments, this is a fairly ripping ride.

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Vampire Prosecutor - 2011 - 6/10
AKA - Baempaieo Geomsa // 뱀파이어 검사

First season of wildly popular series.
More “prosecutor” than vampire, as the lead character employs his abilities to uncover bad guys, nails 'em in the courtroom.
Early episodes displayed a harder edge than later ones, though the story with so-called martial artists was a hoot.
Unlike most K-dramas, there was no romantic subplot - praise the Lord.
Slick production values, lab work done in flashy multi panels, fairly good action sequences.
Adult humor, too, rather than typical 12 year old sniggles, a true plus.
Typical of drama fare, the series was self contained, though the door was left open for subsequent series.
The finale concluded an arc and loose thread from the opening installment.
Momentum slags as series builds, emotional payoff questionable.
Well worth tracking down, nevertheless.

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Ghoul - 2018 - 6/10

Grisly horror set in the near future of India.
Tensions with Muslim inhabitants have escalated dramatically and the nation has become a police state.
Potential terrorists could be anywhere - or anyone.
Terrorists, dissidents, forbidden book types, are rounded up and suffer enhanced interrogation.
Dark, brutal series follows guards and prisoners in an underground fortress, cut off from an outside world that is perpetual night, endless rain.
First episode is probably the best, establishing the narrative, though truth to tell, the gloom and dread never let up.
Oh yes, one of the prisoners had summoned darkness from beyond.

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Coma - 2005 - 7/10
AKA - 코마

Surprisingly, there are few Asian dramas that are Horror themed.
There are a couple that touch on elements, such as Vampire Prosecutor, but none go as full bore as this neglected gem.

Five episode K-drama, set in a closing hospital. Expect dark and deserted corridors.
Everything of value has been relocated and salvage employees scour floor by floor until they come to the door with the heavy steel bar, padlock, chains. In the finest traditions, they break into the sealed room and unleash …
First episode follows the insurance agent, handling the closure and dealing with patients, particularly one in a coma.
The agent had actually been there ten years earlier, so there are flashbacks showing what happened ten years ago and what is now unearthed.
Second episode, same night, follows the head nurse once the sealed room is open and flashes back to when she was a young nurse.
Third episode, the police detective. Fourth episode - you get the pattern.

Atmospheric sound design, inspired use of minimal budget, clever lighting.
Each episode reveals more grim history.
Halloween fare for spooky hospital fans, revenge seekers, dead wet girls.
Excellent, self-contained Horror series.

If necessary, I reworked English subtitles that came off low rez YouTube versions.
I tightened dialogue, fixed grammar and syntax errors.
Subs = https://subscene.com/subtitles/coma-2005-1/english/1182758

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Mill Of The Stone Women - 1960 - 6/10
AKA - Il Mulino Delle Donne di Pietra

Euro horror tale, set in the 1800s, is more Gothic mystery.
Young Flemish writer travels to famed professor’s windmill to research details for a soon to be published monograph.
He meets old friends, his childhood flame, the hot tavern singer, and the professor’s exotic daughter.
Meek mannered she is not, the daughter soon puts a move on the writer and has her way with him.
Complications ensue.
Beautiful yes, but there is something not right about the girl.
Slow, but OK mystery, borrows a page or two from classic stories, and has excellent production values.
Note: An Italian film, my copy was dubbed in French, though from time to time, dubbing switched to English.
Moreover, the English subtitles, whenever the English language began, the subs switched to French.

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Night Of The Devils - 1972 - 6/10
AKA - La Notte Dei Diavoli

Lumber dealer, Nicola, has car trouble while searching for a remote sawmill.
He finds an isolated cabin, and a family who will put him up for the night.
They are superstitious, windows and doors are heavily barred, and they are sharpening stakes.
Nicola, a city dweller, tries to reason, then scoffs.
Really! What’s there to be afraid of in the deep woods at night?

Well shot horror, with a curious mix of tropes.
May be too slow for impatient souls, but for “Hammerish” fans, this should satisfy.

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Forbidden Siren - 2006 - 6/10
AKA - Sairen / サイレン

One of those J-horror films from their last great cycle that included Ringu, Juon, Kairo, Dark Water, several others.
Unfortunately, this is not at the same level, though the first two thirds of the film hold promise.
A writer (teacher?), his daughter and troubled son arrive at the remote Japanese island of Yamijima.
The inhabitants are a taciturn, dour lot, and the isle is a mix of superstition and leftover WWII Americana.
Island Yami also has a sinister history.
Villagers have rules, the main two being - do not venture out at night, and - NEVER outside when the sirens wail.
Will our newcomers obey those rules?
The opening is atmospheric, and an uncanny strangeness is compelling.
Excellent sound design of music, and the wind moaning and shrieking through the metal towers.
No “dead wet girls” which was a point for me.
Other viewers loved the ending - I thought it sputtered.
“Dogs will become gods - Live will become evil.”

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Messiah Of Evil - 1973 - 6/10
AKA - Night Of The Damned

Inventive B-horror, that boasts surprising visual style and unexpected plot turns.
Daughter (and friends) try to track down her missing father, an artist.
Last known residence, his stylish home in a remote coastal town.
The burg seems somnambulant, sites and places are often empty.
When buildings do fill up, citizens are listless. For a while.
Good “deserted village” film, and worth a watch if it shows up late night.
I forget who the director was, this was his best directorial effort. (His directing ended with Howard The Duck.)
Sadly, Joy Bang’s last film to date.

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The Eclipse - 2009 - 7/10

Irish ghost story for adults.
Ciarin Hinds’ character cares for his two children; their mother has died.
He has begun glimpsing shadows down the staircase, hearing noises in the closet.
Meanwhile, he shepherds writers for an annual literary fair. One has written about ghosts.
Winner of many awards, this was a good film to view with lowered lights.
Be advised this was not a blood soaked, screamfest.
No dead teenagers, no dead wet girls.
Troubled souls encountering shadows. Somber, melancholy film.

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Halloween Party - 2019 - 6/10

A new computer virus hits the dorms.
Enter your true fear. If you don’t, you will soon die from it.
Of all the nonsense! Guess what happens to scoffers.
Despite prevalent “F” word usage, this has no gore and limited tension.
Midway, there is a sequence with a documentary film, that reveals an inspired backstory.
Otherwise, watchable if disposable.

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Trick R Treat - 2007 - 6/10

One of the better films focusing on Halloween, specifically trick or treating.
Four separate narratives interweave back and forth.
All themes struck: monsters, curses, murders, costumes, sex.
Suspicious neighbors, annoying children, horny teenagers, bickering couples.
Funny, stabbed with violence that spurts from nowhere.