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Quetzalcoatl78 (Durham, England)

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Midnight's Lair
Midnight's Lair
by Richard Laymon
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars One of Laymon's weaker books., 12 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Midnight's Lair (Paperback)
MIDNIGHT`S LAIR is one of two books that Laymon originally published under the pseudonym of Richard Kelly; the other book was DARK MOUNTAIN, the first Laymon novel I read, and I hugely enjoyed. It would therefore follow that I should really enjoy MIDNIGHT`S LAIR too. Not so.

LAIR concerns Mordock`s Cave, a vast underground cave network with an underground river where a local hotel, built on top of the cave, has enterprised to provide a sight-seeing tour along the subterranean river for tourists. The book follows the story of Darcy, a young tour guide, who has her tour interrupted by the lights in the cave going out, the lifts ceasing to work, and the cave being plunged into darkness. In an effort to find another escape route, the tour knock through a concrete wall into an older section of the cave to look for an exit. Unbeknown to them however, this part of the cave is home to a group of savages; what had once been visitors to the hotel topside, these people had been kidnapped, tortured and sexually molested by the owner of the hotel, and his deranged teenage son. The victims had them been dumped in a sinkhole and left captive in the cave for many years, surviving only on scraps of food thrown to them or occasional dead bodies of less fortunate victims. Anyway, they`ve degenerated into ferocious cannibals and when they smell fresh meat, go on the rampage.

Fair enough for the premise but I feel the jacket blurb seriously misinforms as to the plot; I expected creatures not human, perhaps a new species of carnivore living underground, and the fact that they were merely degererative humans was a huge disappointment. Laymon`s books are often full of fiendish psychotic types who do nasty things, and this is no different, but here I found it difficult to relate to the characters and most of them seemed, to be blunt, totally unlikeable, almost to the point of incredulity. Another of Laymon`s trademark problems, I feel, is his sometimes clunky way with describing the action; seeing as this is largely an action-orientated book, this becomes a major problem and really put me off the story.

I really do like Laymon, and many of his novels [DARK MOUNTAIN, ENDLESS NIGHT, ISLAND, BEWARE!] have been excellent or very good. Equally I have encountered a few novels not so good [THE WOODS ARE DARK, AMONG THE MISSING, OUT ARE THE LIGHTS] having largely the same problems as this one. MIDNIGHT`S LAIR, however, was the biggest disappointment because I had such high hopes for the book, and undoubtedly it put me off reading further Laymon titles for some time.

The novel is similar in some respects to recent feature films THE DESCENT, THE CAVE, and THE CAVERN, and while the book predates them all by about fifteen years, the films [not THE CAVERN] are much more entertaining than this difficult, largely unlikeable book. I gave up and put it aside about halfway through, only picking it up months later and forcing myself to finish it. A huge disappointment, and the weakest book I have read in a while.

Swamp Shark (DVD) (2011)
Swamp Shark (DVD) (2011)
Dvd ~ Kirsty Swanson
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: £2.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Likeable and entertaining JAWS clone., 9 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Swamp Shark (DVD) (2011) (DVD)
I popped this in the DVD player with an open mind, then the menu screen came on, with some idiotic hillbilly chase music tinkiling away in the background. Lesser film fans might have ejected the disc at that point and used it to prop a table up, but not me; I'm made of sterner stuff, me, and anyway, it was called SWAMP SHARK! How could I not watch it?

Imagine my considerable surprise then when I got to watch an entertaining and likeable killer shark film. Hooray.

The fun begins immediately, and crazily, with a large heavily-armoured shark being transported in a water tanker, to be sold to a crooked sherriff. Why does he want the shark? Who cares, certainly not the scriptwriters. Anyway, the shark's not too keen on being in his little tanker and so makes a ruckus, causing the cylindrical tank he is trapped in to fall off the lorry, roll down a hill, squishing some people on the way, and splash down in the swamp, where the tank breaks in half and El Sharko swims happily off.

The rest of the story writes itself; essentially JAWS in the swamp, the shark swims about eating people, the police don't believe or are trying to cover it up while Kristy Swanson's restaurant-owning family try to track it down and kill it before it can munch on the hundreds of people on boats and rubber rings enjoying the Gator Fest. And there you have it; SWAMP SHARK!

But it's actually pretty good. There is nothing at all original here [apart perhaps from the final method of killing the beast], and the special effects and gore are variable at best. The characters though are engaging and interesting, the script is reasonable, even occasionally funny when it means to be. The sound mix is good [for a change], and some parts, like the climax, are mildly exciting. SWAMP SHARK is also a very family-friendly film; there are no swears, and the producers and directors took obvious care to not include nudity, so you can watch it with younger teeenagers or your grandmother. Altogether its a refreshing and likeable kiler-shark film, which doesn't fall back on pointless nastiness or gratuitous sex [not that there's anything wrong with gratuitous sex!].

I expected to rip this poor film to shreds, but instead I like it, and will give it a good three stars for effort and goodwill.

Creature Feature Collection (3 Disc DVD)
Creature Feature Collection (3 Disc DVD)
Dvd ~ John Scneider (Swamp Beast)
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £4.75

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bargain gem for a monster fan!, 9 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
At just over three quid [used inc. p+p], this recent collection is a bargain gem for a monster-film fan, for me.

You can see my individual reviews of the films under their own names. So briefly;

SNOWBEAST is Yeti fun, with iffy effects, but enjoyable. 7/10

MONSTERWOLF is the weakest of the bunch. An ancient Indian Wolf spirit eats people. Ok idea, but terrible CGI effects. 5/10

SWAMP SHARK is a likeable and entertaining JAWS clone. 7/10

They are not the best three films ever made but any monster fan will find much to like here, at a bargain price.

Scream of the Banshee [DVD]
Scream of the Banshee [DVD]
Dvd ~ Monica Acosta
Offered by NextDayEntertainment
Price: £2.02

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ok film I couldn't hear!!!, 8 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Scream of the Banshee [DVD] (DVD)
SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE starts really well; some university archeologists cataloguing stuff are sent a mysterious old metallic box, which when opened, contains the decapitated head of a banshee. The banshee head screams, causing ears to pop and bleed, and then the film descends into the usual supernatural-movie fluff.

People have hallucinations and dreams of the Banshee, a demon woman from Irish mythology, scaring or injuring them in nasty ways, and for a while it looks like it's going down the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET route.

The archeologists are eventually led to Lance Henrikson, who has studied the Banshee all his life, and now gone a bit potty. There are some mumbly explanations of things, then a RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK-style moment at the end.

The first 25 minutes are great, the rest seems a bit muddled and lacking much originality, but is interesting and I reasonably enjoyed it. Despite the bad reviews of the effects here, I quite liked them, and thought the Banshee herself was pretty good in a 1980's sort of way.

I entirely agree though, with another review on here concerning the sound of the film; its terrible. My enjoyment of the film was severely hampered by clutching the remote control and constantly fiddling with the volume. The dramatic parts are so ear-poppingly loud I'm not surprised bleeding ears was a recurrent theme throughout the film. And yet much of the dialogue is so quiet that it's impossible to hear, and I had to turn the volume up so much that when a dramatic 'loud' bit came on, it was so magnificently thunderous in volume that I was sure my telly would blow up. Highly irritating sound mix, and Lance Henrikson in particular was very very mumbly. I admit to being a tiny bit hard of hearing, but a film with such a terrible sound mix as this is highly irritating. Subtitles would have helped enormously, and, I would have given this film an extra star if I had been able to hear the damn thing, without getting a Noise Abatement Order.

The Woods [DVD] [2006]
The Woods [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Agnes Bruckner

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Can't see the forest for the trees..., 8 Aug. 2012
This review is from: The Woods [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Bruce Campbell barely appears in this strange mash-up of many horror film ideas.

Agnes Bruckner stars as a teenager sent to a spooky boarding school in the middle of some woods. The all-female staff are strict and strange, while the other girls are bullying and yet subdued.

There is an intriguing mystery here, but rather than the mystery of what is happening in the film, it is the mystery of why, after a slow first hour, you are still watching it. The final half hour is full of supernatural stuff - ghostly witches, killer trees, the haunted spirits of the wood - but it's all so daft and ineptly explained that you'll wonder what's going on. The climax picks up a little, but you'll still be bewildered by the "spooky" imagery and "atmospheric" music. The film is certainly less than the sum of its parts, and it could be said that you can't see the forest for the trees...

This film reminded me of the early 90's film THE GUARDIAN, but it's been so long since i've seen it, I can't remember whether that's any good either.

Rawhead Rex [DVD]
Rawhead Rex [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Dukes
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £29.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rawhead Rex: Ancient King Of Death And Darkness, 7 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Rawhead Rex [DVD] (DVD)
Ok, I'm giving this five stars, cos I think its excellent.

RAWHEAD REX was one of my favourite films when I was a young teenager and technically too young to watch it, but my good old dad rented it a couple of times anyway. It was probably one of the films that made me love monster movies, and I.m very happy that, watching it now, 20+ years later, it is just as good, if not better than I remember it.

Clive Barker wrote the screenplay from his own story [in THE BOOKS OF BLOOD] about an ancient pagan King of death and darkness, Rawhead, who is inadvertantly uncovered when a farmer moves his burial stone. Very quickly, Rawhead, an ogre-type creature, is ripping off arms and heads throughout the village, and using his hypnotic gaze to pull the village clergy under his control. David Dukes plays an American who has come to the small Irish village of Rathmore, to investigate his heritage, and who discovers, through stained-glass windows in the church, the nature of the beast and how to destroy it. The villagers are superstitious, the police are baffled and incredulous, there's death, gore, destruction and pregnant menace in almost every scene.

"This is Christs House!" shouts a vicar, as his church is blasphemed.

"Wasn't always his." replies Dukes, who is getting to the subtext of the film, a battle between an old religion and a new, and the fact that Christianity is just the shiny cloak covering old and naturalistic beliefs.

The setting, County Wicklow in Ireland is great, with fine natural scenery, and the villagers make a fresh change from stupid American teenagers. David Dukes and all the largely Irish cast are very good, and the special effects are effective and well-done for the mid 80's. True, Rawheads costume, in particular his mask, may have dated a bit, and isn't really scary, but that is an understandable and forgiven fault. The use of shadow and depth, and the fields and forests are also used particularly well.

I love RAWHEAD REX. It's highly enjoyable, and I see it almost as the essence of what this sort of horror film is all about. [The long short-story, though slightly different, is also well worth reading.]

Double DVD Collection - Tales From The Darkside The Movie, Rawhead Rex
Double DVD Collection - Tales From The Darkside The Movie, Rawhead Rex
Offered by babsbargains *** WORLDWIDE SHIPPING ***
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great movies; buy them seperately much cheaper., 7 Aug. 2012
This is an excellent duo of horror films. Both are highly enjoyable for horror fans. See the individual reviews for more details.

I have this disc but got it off a market for a couple of quid. It is far too expensive here; trawl the second-hand places or buy them seperately.

Tales from the Darkside: The Movie [DVD]
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie [DVD]
Dvd ~ Deborah Harry
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: £15.58

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun Gory Stories., 7 Aug. 2012
The movie version of the popular series, a collection of four gory stories;

Lot 249 is loosely based on Arthur Conan Doyle's original tale. It has an excellent cast of then-rising-stars Christian Slater, Julianne Moore and Steve Buscemi, who play college archeologists who unearth an egyptian mummy in a crate. Needless to say, mummy madness follows, with the creature pulling a brain out of the nose with a long hook, then popping it in the fruit bowl [for some reason]. This is fun, and its worth it for the cast and the gory, but tongue in cheek, effects.

Cat From Hell is written by Stephen King, and has David Hickey as a strange old-timer who has hired a hitman to kill a troublesome cat. Again, this is enjoyable, and I think my kitten was a bit scared of the noises coming from the TV. Watch for the part where the cat is swallowed then regurgitated later. Messy, but interesting, and it reminded me very much of the early 80's portmanteau film THE UNCANNY.

Lovers Vow is about an artist who makes a deal with a demon. It has a clever, but guessable, twist at the end and some greart stop-motion and model work for the demon, which resembles the creature from the 50's classic NIGHT OF THE DEMON. James Remar and Rae Dawn Chong star here.

The framing story has Deborah Harry, who has lured a kid into her house and is going to cook him. He tells the other stories to pass the time and stall her.

The film as a whole is very enjoyable, with a superb cast, and some classic 80's horror effects.

3 Classic Crime Films Of The Silver Screen - The Speckled Band / Silver Blaze / Blake Of Scotland Yard [DVD]
3 Classic Crime Films Of The Silver Screen - The Speckled Band / Silver Blaze / Blake Of Scotland Yard [DVD]
Dvd ~ Raymond Massey
Offered by prjhk
Price: £7.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Holmes; Two minor gems!, 3 Aug. 2012
Three black and white crime films from the 30's; all are pretty creaky with variable sound and picture quality.

THE SPECKLED BAND [1931] is an enjoyable Sherlock Holmes adventure with Raymond Massey as the detective, and based on Conan Doyle's story. Pantomime villain Lyn Harding is killing people with a poisonous snake, and overacting tremendously. Massey is a good Holmes, and Holmes' wit and penchant for disguises are on display here. This film is a solid and fun template for the Basil Rathbone films which were soon to follow.

Arthur Wontner is another good Sherlock Holmes, but plays him more serious and a bit bossy in SILVER BLAZE [1938], again based on Doyle's story, but mixed with Moriarty [a hammy Lyn Harding again] and the Baskerville family, for reasons not entirely clear to me. SILVER BLAZE is a prize racehorse who is nicked on the eve of a big race. Holmes must find him, and solve the murders that lie on the trail. This is also enjoyable, and the character of Holmes, and even some of the dialogue ["the curious incident of the dog in the night-time"] are very close to Doyle's original.

BLAKE OF SCOTLAND YARD is not so good, and I was a bit bored with it. Master criminal The Scorpion has stolen new invention, the Death Ray, and Scotland Yard must attempt to retrieve it. How The Scorpion can get much done when he walks in a hunch and constantly has a [rather cool] scorpion claw-hand held up in front of his face, I don't know. This film is gloomy and dark, and suffers from not having an instantly identifiable and iconic character like Holmes. The eponymous BLAKE OF SCOTLAND YARD is largely lost in the dark.

The first two films are minor gems, especially for Sherlock fans, and if you get this used for 28p [with p+p it is still under two pounds], you've got yourself a bargain.

Police Academy 4   (DVD)
Police Academy 4 (DVD)
Dvd ~ Steve Guttenberg
Price: £2.75

2.0 out of 5 stars Tired 80's comedy., 2 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Police Academy 4 (DVD) (DVD)
You might have liked these films as a kid, but time has left them behind. PA4 is more of the same silly slapstick and toilet humour jokes, but in a family-friendly way.

Bobcat Goldthwaite remains incomprehensibly annoying, and disappeared from the cast after this film, as did Steve Guttenberg, who went on to be a big [but short-lived] star. There's an early appearance from Sharon Stone here, too, and pro-skateboarders Steve Caballero and Tony Hawks do a skateboard bit, before they were famous.

These films are best left as rosy 80's nostalgia and are a bit tired today, but they still might entertain the kids or your gran on a Sunday afternoon.

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