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

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Honor Is All We Know
Honor Is All We Know
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars PUNX tattooed on the knuckles., 15 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Honor Is All We Know (Audio CD)
Of all the PUNK bands who have blazed the trail since the original wave of PUNK Rock circa 76/82, Rancid are the ones who can hold their heads up high, both artistically and ethically as regards their roots. No band in my experience has ever come close to capturing the energy and musical skills (yes, skills) of The Clash, especially live, and that is high praise indeed.

It has been a long time coming has this album, five and half years have passed since the release of Let the Dominoes Fall, cuz the boys have been off doing numerous side projects et al. Tiny snippets of information have been dangled like raw meat to the Wolves over the years, and out we came, hungry to feast on any hope of a Rancid album. Rumors and tales of artistic dis-satisfaction have been rife, it was even mentioned at one point that there was enough material to fill two albums at one point, maybe even three given that Honor Is All We Know is a half hour shock wave?

If we didn't know better, that Rancid are masters of their own destiny, this album could feel like a contract filler, an obligation to please the masses. But maybe it's just one for the fans? An album ripe with anthemic tunes, of driving sing-a-longs and Skaville pulse beats, where Matt Freeman's bass seems to defy the core basics of bass guitar playing? There's a couple of "filler" tracks here, annoyingly so, but in the main scheme of things these East Bay Yanks tear a strip off your wolf bitten wounds.

From the quite brilliant Malfunction (is that a homage to The Who we hear?), to the ream of punk and skin influenced tunes that fill out the play, Rancid, if maybe a little lazy or compromised by time constraints, have produced another long player for the fans to rejoice and raise their fists to. It is not a "great" Rancid album, but it is a damn good one. It's always a bonus to have songs by the band that showcases both Tim and Lars' different vocal styles (both high grade PUNK singers in the extreme), and of course the fans know that Honor Is Amongst Us and Honor Is All We know.

The Hillside Strangler [DVD]
The Hillside Strangler [DVD]
Dvd ~ C. Thomas Howell
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: £14.87

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hardly Kissing Cousins., 1 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Hillside Strangler [DVD] (DVD)
Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono were two cousins who were convicted of the rape, torture and murder of 10 females of various ages in LA 1977/78. This film is an interpretation of their reign of terror.

Unpleasant. If you are going to do a serial killer movie, one based on real life perpetrators, then you surely have to make the characterisations of fascination value away from their despicable crimes. Unfortunately director Chuck Parello and co-writer Stephen Johnston fail to do this, leaving the film with a paucity of worthwhile human story moments. It’s not helped by the fact Nicholas Torturro as Buono is badly miscast, he’s just impossible to take serious in a role that calls for the ultimate seriousness.

On the plus side, C. Thomas Howell as Bianchi hits the right notes. Howell is something of an undervalued actor in dark roles, as far back as 1990 where he played a vengeful killer in a film called Kid, he’s been doing good moody work in thrillers. Elsewhere John Pirozzi’s cinematography is on the money, keeping the murky tones of the film in harness, while Gregg Gibbs’ production design has all the late 1970s requisites. 5/10

Narrow Margin [DVD]
Narrow Margin [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gene Hackman
Price: £4.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Narrow Margins and Wide Loads., 1 Dec 2014
This review is from: Narrow Margin [DVD] (DVD)
Director and writer Peter Hyams took the bold decision to reimage one of the best film noir crime pictures of the 1950s, and all things considered it’s not half bad. Without getting close to the greatness of Richard Fleischer’s 1952 claustrophobic suspenser that is.

Having Gene Hackman and Anne Archer heading up your two principal characters is a good foundation. As the district attorney employee and witness to a mob killing respectively, both actors come up trumps for their director as they are thrust into a game of cat and mouse aboard a speeding train. As the Canadian wilderness outside the train’s windows soothes the eyes, the cramped interiors make for good suspense as Hackman plays the calm to Archer’s panic.

There’s nothing new here in terms of thriller conventions, and the pitfalls and familiarity of the plot’s ideas keep it from hitting better heights: people still do dumb things – important details are all too quickly swept aside – laws of gravity non existent and etc. But refreshingly Hyams resists the chance to insert a cloying romance, while his staging of suspense scenes are very well handled. But of course he’s got Hackman being as cool as a cucumber. 6.5/10

Shiner [DVD]
Shiner [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Caine
Price: £2.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Come not between the dragon and his wrath., 1 Dec 2014
This review is from: Shiner [DVD] (DVD)
Billy "Shiner" Simpson (Michael Caine) is building up to his big boxing promoting night, the headline of which is his own son, Eddie "Golden Boy" Simpson (Matthew Marsden). But family troubles begin to weigh heavy, a police investigation closes in on him and a rival American promoter is breathing down his neck. It's going to get messy.

Surprisingly for a Michael Caine British gangster movie, Shiner is a little under known. A shame because it's really rather good. Caine himself felt that by 2000 the cinema loving public had had enough of British films of this type, hence why it did poorly at the box office and quickly disappeared into the retail chain of things.

It's basically a reworking of King Lear, in London and with Caine on super form. Billy Simpson is a grade "A" noir protagonist, the world he inhabits is ultimately too much for him, there's treachery and dishonesty – violence and disappointments, all around him, but still he ploughs on as if he will eventually become the king of the castle. Yet this is the noirville area of London, of grubby bars and grey landscapes, the hall playing host to Billy's big night is a place of stale cheese sandwiches and blocked toilets.

On either side of Billy are his two henchman played by Frank Harper and Andy Serkis, two sides of the same coin they are, though they menace in different ways. Billy's two daughters played by Claire Rushbrook and Frances Barber, also two sides of the same coin, but conversely they have different love for their father. Martin Landau is the smooth American promoter with a dame on his arm and a grudge for Billy, and Gary Lewis and Kenneth Cranham fill out important roles as characters caught in Billy's soon to be maelstrom.

Caine did say that he considers Shiner to be part of a trilogy that comprises Get Carter and Mona Lisa. Shiner isn't close to being as good as those two movies, especially the sublime Get Carter, but it holds its head up high in such company and fans of those movies should seek it out. 8/10

Ted Bundy [2002] [DVD]
Ted Bundy [2002] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Santos
Offered by jamb1be ... All orders posted using first class post within 24 hours, even over the Christmas period...
Price: £17.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The worst kind of Teddy Bear., 1 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Ted Bundy [2002] [DVD] (DVD)
Tricky. As always with serial killer films, you hope that the subject is handled in such a way so as to justify you having invested time in it. Matthew Bright’s instalment into the hall of shame legacy left by one Theodore Robert Bundy, is uncompromising and unforgettable. Could the charge of exploitation be levelled at Bright and his backers? No, I don’t think so.

The advent of time where film is concerned has seen film makers now be able to tackle difficult subjects for maximum impact. Bright, in the main, follows the real life of Bundy and his vile crimes. His home life and trail of destruction are covered graphically, so if anyone was in any doubt about the measure of Bundy’s evil via previous film, TV or literary interpretations? Then this is the gaping wound of Bundy tellings, with salt poured in.

It’s nigh on impossible to recommend as an essential viewing experience, I myself haven’t been able to get some of the images out of my head some 5 days after watching it. But that’s the point, surely? Some minor fabrications aside (we cheer the events just prior to the electrocution, but it didn’t happen), this is one of the best films of the bloody sub-genre of horror it sits in. For impact and Michael Reilly Burke’s bold and scary performance as Bundy, it has artistic merit. If you have the stomach for it that is. 8/10

It Happened in Broad Daylight / Es Geschah am Hellichten Tag (1958) Death Comes at High Noon / Doden Kommer til Middag (1964) English Subtitled DVD
It Happened in Broad Daylight / Es Geschah am Hellichten Tag (1958) Death Comes at High Noon / Doden Kommer til Middag (1964) English Subtitled DVD

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There Are Such Monsters In The World., 30 Nov 2014
Es geschan am hellichten Tag (It Happened in Broad Daylight) is directed by Ladislao Vajda and collectively written by Vajda, Hans Jacoby and Friedrich Durrenmatt, from the Novel The Promise. It stars Heinz Ruhmann, Sigfrit Steiner, Siegfried Lowitz, Michel Simon and Gert Frobe. Music is by Bruno Canfora and cinematography is by Ernst Bolliger and Heinrich Gartner.

When a child is found murdered in the woods, Oberleutnant Matthai (Ruhmann) promises the child’s parents he will find the killer. It’s a promise that weighs heavy on him, causing him to go outside of his rational thinking to hopefully lure the killer into a trap.

The source material has proved ripe for picking as regards film adaptations, latterly with a big Hollywood production directed by Sean Penn and starring Jack Nicholson (The Pledge 2001). There’s a whole bunch of themes bubbling away in the story, all of which are handled superbly by the makers. At its core it’s a criminal investigation fuelled by an obsession, but morality and mob justice play a big part in proceedings as well.

Lashings of intrigue permeate the atmosphere, as does a number of suspenseful scenes as the child killer enters the fray and we see him operating his vile schtick. The sequences of him at home, a complete milquetoast to a harpy wife, simmer away with deadly expectation, the acting superb. The psychological studies of the key characters carry considerable weighty merit, always niggling away at the audience, keeping us hooked to the very last frame.

With chills (for instance the hand puppet scenes are blood curdling), expressionistic touches and a film noir sense of the human condition gone wrong, it’s a film deserving of a more wider and appreciative audience. Personally I prefer the ending that Durrenmatt rewrote as Das Versprechen (the author wasn’t happy with Es geschan am hellichten Tag’s resolution), and that was the ending Penn went for in The Pledge. This is not in the same class as Fritz Lang’s “M”, but it deserves to be on the same shelf, and that is praise indeed. 8/10

Screaming Mimi [DVD] [1958] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Screaming Mimi [DVD] [1958] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Anita Ekberg
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £11.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Miss Sweden and Scooby Doo., 30 Nov 2014
Screaming Mimi is directed by Gerd Oswald and adapted to screenplay by Robert Bless from the novel written by Fredric Brown. It stars Anita Ekberg, Phillip Carey, Gypsy Rose Lee and Harry Townes. Music is by Mischa Bakaleinikoff and cinematography by Burnett Guffey.

A woman becomes mentally unbalanced after a failed knife attack by a psychotic and has to spend time in a sanatorium. Whilst there she becomes the object of her psychiatrist obsessions.

Great Dame With A Great Dane!

A curio psychological film noir with horror leanings, Screaming Mimi is just a tad too nutty for its own good. It's also weighed down by a non performance from Ekberg, who you find is purely in the piece to tantalise via her voluptuous body, and also by a colourless performance by Carey. Yet it's a fascinating movie, a sort of car crash piece of cinema that you can't take your eyes away from!

Psycho Schematic.

It's all very lurid, sexy and bonkers, the sort of picture where alcoholic accompaniments would most likely improve the viewing experience tenfold. The characters inhabiting this world are a strange bunch, which is fun, whilst when you got entertainment establishments called Gay "N" Frisky and El Madhouse, you just know we are trawling through an off kilter city of sin and carnal desires. Unfortunately Oswald and Bless seem confused about what to do with all the provocative possibilities, rendering the narrative as confused and at times lifeless.

Rose Lee is great though as she flits between manipulator and sultry proprietor, as is Townes, who underpins the whiff of mania running through the pics veins. Guffey and Bakaleinikoff offer up solid tech work, and the jazzy strains provided by Red Norvo are most welcome. It really should have been a great movie though, such promise in story and set-ups, but sadly it ends up as a faux Freudian potboiler. 5/10

Memphis Belle [DVD] [1990]
Memphis Belle [DVD] [1990]
Dvd ~ Matthew Modine
Price: £4.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hip hip, hooray..., 23 Nov 2014
This review is from: Memphis Belle [DVD] [1990] (DVD)
World War II and as the battle for the skies rages, the youthful crew of B-17 Bomber Memphis Belle embark on their 25th and final mission...

David Puttnam co-produces with Catherine Wyler and Michael Caton-Jones directs this poignant and gripping WWII story. The crew of "Belle" are made up of a youth inflected cast of actors headed by the likes of Eric Stoltz, Sean Astin, Billy Zane and Matthew Modine, while John Lithgow and David Strathairn provide the mature acting weight on the ground hoping that the boys come back safely.

In truth it's all a bit too predictable, but never insultingly so, though research into the real exploits of the brave heroes involved reveals that Hollywood has, well, been Hollywood. Tech credits are a mixture of the brilliant and the poor, but when it involves the aerial sequences the film is stunning, and the makers do a sterling job of making "Belle's" final flight suspenseful and emotionally potent. 6.5/10

Flatliners [DVD] [1990]
Flatliners [DVD] [1990]
Dvd ~ Kiefer Sutherland
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £8.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The arrogance of medicinally inclined youth!, 23 Nov 2014
This review is from: Flatliners [DVD] [1990] (DVD)
I remember coming out the theatre after having seen Flatliners in 1990 and being really annoyed. The premise of the story is so superb and was ripe for a terrifying horror film, but Flatliners then, and now, is not terrifying, but that actually doesn't matter.

In 1990 some of the more bright young acting prospects were off making Memphis Belle, the other half that was made up of potential Brat Packers like Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt and Kevin Bacon, were joining director Joel Schumacher for this delve into life after death experiments.

The tyro medical students, led by a darkly egotistical Sutherland, begin inducing their own deaths to see what awaits once the flatline has been reached. Seems great at first, but as the students push the time limits of being dead still further, what comes into their real worlds is actually not welcome.

Pic is never close to being frightening, but the thematics involved are chilling and the big message at its heart is loud and clear. At times it's an uneasy blend of supernatural dalliances and medical science, but the breezy cast hold engagement, while cinematographer Jan de Bont's misty lenses are perfectly in the realm of the ethereal. 7/10

The Crawling Eye (REGION 1) (NTSC) [DVD] [1958] [US Import]
The Crawling Eye (REGION 1) (NTSC) [DVD] [1958] [US Import]
Dvd ~ Forrest Tucker
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £2.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Crawling Eye., 21 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Crawling Eye.

The filmic adaptation of a 1956 UK TV serial of the same name, The Trollenberg Terror is a whole bunch of fun and not deserving of the stinker reputation it has in some sci-fi loving circles.

Action is set in Trollenberg, Switzerland and concerns a creature from outer space that has taken residence in a radioactive cloud atop of the Trollenberg mountain. As the bodies start to pile up and various climbers go missing on the mountain, the United Nations send a boffin to help the local scientists to hopefully solve the mystery.

The effects work has been the source of some disdain, and in truth it's poor but not the worst from the 1950s pantheon of "B" schlockers. The back projection scenes are crude, but again in keeping with the fun aspects of the genre and era. However, Jimmy Sangster's screenplay is tight and produces brainy conversations and strong sequences.

Horror comes by way of headless bodies turning up and that once sane people turn into maniacs as "the terror" weaves its magic. On the normal human side the narrative is given a boost by Janet Munro's (excellent) telepathic darling, something which troubles the visitors greatly and puts her in grave danger. The psychological aspects of the story mark this out as a genre piece of worth.

Elsewhere director Quentin Lawrence does a study job with what is available to him, Forest Tucker is the hero in waiting, playing it reserved like, and Warren Mitchell proves good foil for Tucker and the Terror! It's not a great film, but it is a good one, let down in some tech departments for sure, but strengths elsewhere make up for its flaws. 7/10

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