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Reviews Written by
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.)

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Underworld: Rise of the Lycans [DVD]
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rhona Mitra
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I should have crushed you under my heel the day you were born., 10 Oct. 2015
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is the prequel to the previous two Underworld films. It tells the story about what led to the werewolf/vampire feud, with bloody energetic results.

In core essence this is Braveheart/Spartacus, only in CGI laden horror/action form. Michael Sheen buffs up into Karl Urban, who as Lucian (bad ass Lycan) leads his species to a bloody revolt, and Kate Beckinsale has made way narratively for Rhona Mitra, who sexes things up. The action is pulse raising and the Gothic designs and atmospherics are first rate, while the battle royale finale is fit to crown any genre film of its type.

Problems are evident, though. The constant flow of CGI blood becomes irritating after a while, and Bill Nighy (in spite of being a franchise regular) is still looking miscast! But it has proved to be a series with hairy legs and fangs that refuses to die, a popcorn munchers dream. So enjoy the spectacle and the screenplay homages, and I'll have a bag of tortilla chips and a choc ice please. 6.5/10

Day Of The Dead (Remake) [DVD]
Day Of The Dead (Remake) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mena Suvari
Price: £2.92

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Zombezi I'm on my way, 10 Oct. 2015
A town is infected with a virus that turns the populace into flesh eating creatures. A hardy band of survivors fight to stay alive...

Regardless of comparing it to the Romero film that shares the same name - since not all remakes suck - this is just a bad film. OK! It can maybe be argued that the makers here tried to reimage Romero's zombie formula, by having the zombies here be supernatural in style, rage like in execution, and the gore is impressively shed. But sadly the characters are uninvolving and annoying, with actors either sleepwalking through their roles (hello Ving Rhames), or badly miscast (hello Mena Suvari).

It's a drunken one night stand of a movie, it looked like it might be fun at the time, but come the morning there is just headache and shame. 3/10

Maniac [DVD]
Maniac [DVD]
Dvd ~ Elijah Wood
Offered by videosanddvds
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mannequinac!, 10 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Maniac [DVD] (DVD)
Having not seen the original film that this is a remake of, I have no frame of reference. Entering into it oblivious to any sort of bias or guideline, this Maniac proves to be a nifty shocker, one that is not without style even as it puts churnings in your stomach.

It's the stylings that I imagine have upset a lot of horror fans, the first person approach and avant-garde sheens strip the pic of genuine suspense. Yet it's a brave film in that respect, as is the casting of Elijah Wood as the titular maniac.

Story is hardly original, boy had major mommy issues to deal with and has grown up disturbed. He has taken a career creating mannequins, but with real lady hair! Cue a bloody rampage of scalping - but wait! A pretty lady photographer has befriended him...

So it is what it is, a film that's grotty in narrative thrusts, yet one that's plush of cityscape photography and POV daring. An odd blend for sure, so it goes without saying, all these things need to be of interest to the viewer for it to butter your bloody sandwich. 7/10

STALINGRAD - Dogs, do you want to live forever?
STALINGRAD - Dogs, do you want to live forever?

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dead soldier dose not care who won or lost., 4 Oct. 2015
Hunde, wollt ihr ewig leben (Dogs, do you want to live forever?) Is directed by Frank Wisbar and adapted to screenplay by Wisbar, Frank Dimen and Heinz Schröter from the Fritz Wöss novel. It stars Joachim Hansen, Wilhelm Borchert, Wolfgang Preiss and Carl Lange. Music is by Herbert Windt and cinematography by Helmut Ashley.

It was a hell hole pocket.

A little cracker jack of a war movie, coming at things from a German's point of view during the Battle of Stalingrad. Through the eyes of our protagonist we come to be part of his disillusionment with the Nazi ways, we witness cowardly majors and obstinate leaders who left the German troops and their allies ill equipped to fight the battle.

A bitter Xmas present.

As Hermann Göring preaches from his pulpit, many miles away from the battle, he's celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Third Reich, all while Stalingrad burns and his army lie dying or limbless in a makeshift grungy hospital. The impact is enough to sicken you to your stomach.

Away from the anti-war thematic thrusts of the narrative, battle scenes are niftily constructed (though some of the spliced footage is incorrect to this battle). While the monochrome photography is in turns gorgeous and then potent to the horrors of war. Splendidly performed by the principals as well.

As has been noted by others who have reviewed this little seen film, the subtitles are poor. Too fast to read sometimes while any language not in German (Eastern Europeans) isn't catered for. A shame, but in the wake of what a very good film this is, it's a small price too pay. 8/10

It Happened to Jane [DVD]
It Happened to Jane [DVD]
Dvd ~ Doris Day
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £7.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite a Lobster Newberg., 4 Oct. 2015
This review is from: It Happened to Jane [DVD] (DVD)
Doris Day is an astute businesswoman who deals in the mass production of Lobsters. When her latest delivery goes awry due to incompetence of the E&P Railroad, she decided to take them on. All while affairs of the heart try to come into play.

Nothing really wrong with the film as such, it's all very harmless, a pleasant romantic comedy, with a likable cast (Jack Lemmon & Ernie Kovacs join Day)to while away the time with. It's just not a very interesting story, one where the love arc plays second fiddle to a bunch of over cooked sequences elsewhere. Whilst what could have been a strong feminist front never quite gets driven home. 6/10

The Ghost Of Frankenstein [DVD]
The Ghost Of Frankenstein [DVD]
Dvd ~ Cedric Hardwicke
Price: £4.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Your father was Frankenstein. Your mother was lightning., 3 Oct. 2015
Of course the problem with the Frankenstein sequels, of the Universal Studios kind, was that they had to follow the genre firework that was Frankenstein (1931) and the monolithic titan that followed that one in 1935, The Bride of Frankenstein. These are tough acts to follow; still are actually!

Son of Frankenstein (1939) managed very well, it had Basil Rathbone in it and Bela Lugosi giving great horror oomph as Ygor. Boris Karloff bowed out as the monster after that one, leaving an iconic legacy and an insistence that the monster didn't speak. The result of Karloff's (ahem) request has proved divisive amongst Frankenstein fans, does it need a voice for personality, or is it better off as a lumbering rage machine only? Point being that in this one, he gets a voice, courtesy of Lon Chaney Junior's stint in the role, and it's not exactly a success.

Ghost of Frankenstein represents the start of the decline of the franchise, a noticeable drop in quality across the board. It's like Universal caught the cash cow disease and decided that quantity and not quality was what mattered. They would eventually team up the bolted necked one with Abbott and Costello, with fun results, but the horror aspects began to wane here in 1942. Lugosi is on hand for some more Ygor mischief, Cedric Hardwicke and Lionel Atwill as scientists with opposite ideals are reassuring presences, while Evelyn Ankers is sexy and costumed with a great eye for detail.

At just 67 minutes in length the film thankfully doesn't have time to be boring, though action is in short supply, so hooray for castle destruction and fire unbound! While Woody Bredell and Milton R. Krasner, via their photographic lenses ensure Gothic atmosphere is consistently ripe. Right, it's time for Universal Monster Tag Teams next... 5/10

Black Christmas [DVD]
Black Christmas [DVD]
Dvd ~ Katie Cassidy
Price: £5.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Eye eye, what we got ere then?, 2 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Black Christmas [DVD] (DVD)
There's a running eyeball motif throughout this revamp/reimaging of Bob Clark's much revered culter of the same name (1974), after sitting through it you may, like me, feel like extracting your own eyeballs and playing ping-pong with them!

Bunch of pretty sorority girls get menaced and mangled by a deranged killer who has come home for Christmas...

This lacks everything that made Bob Clark's film so effective. The less is more approach has gone, thus there is very little suspense, and in place is a gigantic back story for the killer. The characterisation of the girls, some acted by some very capable actresses, is practically non existent, so very little emotional heft to draw you into a state of caring for them. There's some good gore on show, but since tonally the pic is all over the place, it's never once scary or ironically funny.

A poor show all round. 3/10

Saw V [DVD]
Saw V [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tobin Bell
Price: £2.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you're good at anticipating the human mind, it leaves nothing to chance., 2 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Saw V [DVD] (DVD)
Jigsaw is dead. Does he have another apprentice to carry on his brand of bloody judgement? Will there be more elaborate traps to test the human condition to the max? You betcha.

If you are a fan of the series, and chances are that if you have sat down to watch this latest part then you must be, this one has enough about it to tickle the senses. Yet there's no getting away from the familiarity breeding contempt factor, narratively it offers nothing new, and irritatingly it becomes quite evident that it's obviously setting up the next film in the series. It's a sad state of affairs when the flashbacks involving Tobin Bell (Jigsaw) prove to be the film's only strengths, well there is the death traps to keep us awake I suppose... 4/10


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mommie dearest, would you light the gas lamp?, 2 Oct. 2015
Directed by Jerry London and adapted to teleplay by Thomas Baum from the novel, The Crossing, written by Jim Flanagan. It stars Sela Ward, Michael Woods, Roscoe Born, Morgan Fairchild and Polly Bergen.

After a troubled childhood that saw her father die and her mother go mad to the point of suicide, Sarah Hardy (Ward) blossoms into a beautiful woman and marries a handsome man. In spite of her close friends concerns, Sarah and her husband decide to move back to the family home of her childhood, The Pines. It's not long before strange occurrences begin to unnerve Sarah at The Pines. Is her mother not really dead, is it a ghost, or outside influences with ulterior motives?

I genuinely feel bad pouring some scorn on this TV movie, because I so wanted to like it, to grasp a bit of freshness in what has become known as the Gaslight sub-genre of horror. Sadly it's just not very good. It's awash with soap opera operatics, some very poor acting, a confused tonal flow (am I mystery, horror, a message thriller?), an out of place porn movie jazz like musical score, and an ending that beggars belief. The mansion design is great, and there's some nice night time photography during the outer grounds sequences, but it's a difficult film to recommend to those after a good old fashioned mansion based spooker. 5/10

The Fury [DVD]
The Fury [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kirk Douglas
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £5.58

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars With powers like yours., 2 Oct. 2015
This review is from: The Fury [DVD] (DVD)
The Fury is directed by Brian De Palma and adapted to screenplay from his own novel by John Farris. It stars Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgress, Charles Durning, Amy Irving, Fiona Lewis and Andrew Stevens. Music is by John Williams and cinematography by Richard H. Kline.

De Palma once again indulges in the strange world of psychic abilities and telekinetic powers, with mixed results. On one hand it features strong performances, some masterful techniques by De Palma, a superb score by Williamms, and an ending fit to grace any horror film past or present. On the other it's exposition heavy, too draggy in the mid- section and much of the screenplay isn't narratively cohesive. Yet getting through the chores is worth it, the last third of film enters the realm of the weird and the bloody, gripping in texture and execution.

Far from perfect but when it hits its straps it soars. 7/10

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