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Kelvin Dickinson (Leeds, England)
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Re-Animator (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [1985] [DVD]
Re-Animator (2 Disc Collector's Edition) [1985] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bruce Abbott
Offered by wantitcheaper
Price: £11.89

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MAD DOCS AND GLORY, 5 Feb. 2009
Say hello to HERBERT WEST, re-animator of dead, previously living, tissue. He's a doctor. He's also certifiable...but don't worry, the day-glo green liquid in his syringe is completely harmless. Unless you're a corpse.

This wildly funny and extremely gory film - a classic example of comedy and horror combining to shred the usual expectations - still does the business today, a mere 24 years(!) after it first eviscerated onto our cinema screens. A remarkable achievement by any standards. I just adore the 'teaser', followed by the animated titles sequence with their wonderful orchestral nod to Hitchcock's PSYCHO and yes, absolutely, the remaining 80-plus minutes. If you're in the right mood, there's not a single wrong-footed moment to spoil this show.

And what a show. Watch in slack-jawed amazement Herbert West's obsessive experiments to bring back to life that which has expired, including a distinctly pissed off cat. Stare in wide-eyed disbelief as a severed head plumbs depths hitherto unexplored by your average movie severed head. Pray in silent torment that the final re-animation of a central character justifies the whole catalogue of horror that has preceded this moment.

So why doesn't all this excess leave a nasty taste in the mouth? Because there's a directorial tongue firmly planted in everyone's cheek, that's why. Thank you STUART GORDON and BRIAN YUZNA. Oh, and if you're still not sure, just check out JEFFREY COMBS'/HERBERT WEST'S eye-popping delivery of the classic line: "Of course he's dead, the dosage was too large". On that bombshell, I rest my surgical case.

Boasting a pristine picture and sound transfer, it's easy to say I wish there were more films like RE-ANIMATOR, but something inside is glad it's a one-off - despite the sequels - although you might want to cast a glance at FROM BEYOND.

Having recently been passed uncut, you should consider buying it now - and appreciate a film of barking mad brilliance from a decade of considerable dross.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 8, 2011 11:28 AM GMT


From a to B
From a to B

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PERFECT SONGS, PERFECTLY FORMED, 5 Feb. 2009
This review is from: From a to B (Audio CD)
NEW MUSIK'S first and best album. Ten perfect songs plus b-sides.

A regrettably short then-lifespan for a band - three albums over not-quite four years - but the modest splash they made and the resulting ripples were almost always perfectly formed. And most of the success was due to one man, TONY MANSFIELD, who crafted a new wave electronic sound that was both unique and unmistakably no-one else's. As part of the burgeoning synth movement that sound enabled them to stand out. Conversely, their image (Maplins sales counter assistant/drab boiler suit chic) rendered New Musik almost invisible. That's showbusiness for you.

However, the singles STRAIGHT LINES, THIS WORLD OF WATER and LIVING BY NUMBERS were light, swirly, infectious gems. Populated throughout by regular bass, drums or drum machine, precise electric/accoustic guitars and layers of sharp synths (over which Mansfield sung deceptively simple lyrics) this became the template for the New Musik sound.

The album cover (all grey walls with a folorn daffodil stuck in a glass of water looking for the sunlight) is in stark contrast to the music within. No respite on the inner sleeve either as storm clouds and rough seas threaten to engulf the expressions of our four bemused and windswept day trippers. Note: the magic of owning the original 12" vinyl LP, of course, meant that sizewise you could stare at the content for hours trying to read in some kind of cosmic significance (that's the kind of thing you did when you were eighteen) even if it was simply another routine photoshoot in Margate for everyone else concerned.

A truly original album, full of memorable music. It's as contemporary now as it was in 1980, but it remains special to me because I was there, ready to be swept away right from the start. Happy times.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 20, 2010 7:47 PM BST


Rambo [Blu-ray] [2008]
Rambo [Blu-ray] [2008]
Dvd ~ Sylvester Stallone
Price: £6.79

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ONCOMING STORM OF DESTRUCTION, 14 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Rambo [Blu-ray] [2008] (Blu-ray)
The wisdom of JOHN RAMBO (voiceover, whilst forging a big machete in hot metal): "...if pushed, killing's as easy as breathing."

Judging by this film, it's even easier than that. Once again, our spiritually benign hero's reset button gets a good, solid poke, turning him back into the face-pulling, primal screaming, bullet-spewing oncoming storm of destruction we all suspected was just beneath the headband. For Rambo, it's onwards and upwards and don't stop me now. For Stallone, who directed and co-scripted, that translates here as an exercise in raising the bar, with more violence, more bloodshed and more hatred than ever before. His tendency to mumble has, regrettably, gone up one or two notches as well.

Assisted by a group of mercenaries, the misunderstood ex-'Nam Vet has to rescue a team of missionaries captured by Burma's Most Sadistic Soldiers. And the jungle is the setting for what has to be the most violent rumble you've ever seen. No-one is spared, not even women and children; heads are blown off or decapitated, limbs are separated, torsos split in two, throats are ripped out and knives plunged deeply into flesh. Fine, it's a war movie and people do that sort of thing to each other. However, due to some very badly integrated CGI blood and guts, digital desensitization set in with surprising ease and after about an hour the level of gross behaviour had done its worst and peaked. (Actually, I don't think this was meant to happen, but it did). Meanwhile, back in the jungle, the 'enemy' behaved in typical fashion (i.e. 2-dimensional and vile) so they got everything they deserved, and the mercenaries, unsurprisingly, failed to rise above being irritating racial stereotypes. Nothing new there, and one of the reasons why this is only a 3 star review. To be fair, the battle scenes were, as I imagined they would be, well handled and quite entertaining. By which I mean, the kind of 'entertainment' that succeeds on a strictly base emotional level. The hardware and technology may be highly sophisticated, but the rest is pure Captain Caveman.

The picture on my Blu-Ray disc was vivid and sharp and the Tru-HD surround sound crystal clear. As for the film...there's no redemption for Stallone with this gruesome effort, but at least the John Rambo character gets some closure by returning home to America and finding his dad. Perhaps that's what the story is really all about in the end.

RECOMMENDED


Unknown Chaplin [DVD]
Unknown Chaplin [DVD]
Dvd ~ Charlie Chaplin
Price: £12.87

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MASTER PIECES, 14 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Unknown Chaplin [DVD] (DVD)
MINI REVIEW

Great Thames TV documentary, narrated by James Mason, which highlights the methodolgy used by CHARLIE CHAPLIN to create his films, from the shorts to the full-length multi-reelers. Although I will forever be under the spell of Laurel and Hardy, there's no denying that Stan's fellow English Music Hall performer had an incredibly inventive mind and a supreme physical gift for both comedy and drama. Perhaps the most surprising thing revealed in UNKNOWN CHAPLIN is the amount of footage he shot for individual takes, or "slates", sometimes numbering into the hundreds - Chaplin would literally make it up as he went along - using celluloid in much the same way a scriptwriter of the time would use, and discard, foolscap. However, what emerged on screen as finished product is proof of his genius. THE KID, THE GOLD RUSH, MODERN TIMES - three undisputed classics. But CITY LIGHTS is the true masterpiece. And only someone utterly devoid of humanity could sit through those final frames without being moved to wonderfully joyous, uncynical tears. So if you only ever see one Charlie Chaplin film in your life, make it that one.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Snakes on a Plane [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Snakes on a Plane [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: £6.25

3.0 out of 5 stars PLANE BLOODY STUPID, 24 Nov. 2008
SNAKES ON A PLANE. Great title. Says it all, really.

Except for the murder witness, who's also on the plane. Hence the snakes. And the pheromones, courtesy of the murderer, which cause the snakes act up a bit. Fortunately, the murder witness is being protected by a cop. A badass cop who bides his predictable time until the moment arrives when he can utter that immortal line to do with the snakes and the plane.

Film executives. I bet the line came first, THEN, when the applause died down, someone else suggested constructing a story around it. And obviously they, like me, like SAMUEL L. JACKSON but, unlike me, thought SNAKES ON A PLANE was a really cool concept.

Well...no. For one thing, SOAP is too cynical to be cool. It also gives Roger Corman a run for his money in terms of cheap exploitation, so that's not cool. Too many ridiculous stereotypes populate the story - not one of them imbued with the slightest sense of irony with regard to their predicament - therefore, with regret, cool remains a non-option. Further hampered by a linear, two dimensional plot and an answer to the inevitable question 'How low and common can a denominator get?' renders pretty much the whole thing about as cool as a sauna in a heatwave. So there. But the worst crime of all? It's not even funny. Unless, of course, you prefix that word with 'unintentionally', then fine...in a magnify and compound the problem even further kind of way.

I give it three stars because the Main Man just about makes the show watchable, as do the effects of the passenger jet. And possibly the rock song over the end titles (did I REALLY get that far?) But that's it. That is it. The CGI snakes are too obvious to be anything else (the digital medium in this instance actually hurts rather than enhances credibility) and as for the passengers on Flight Whatever from Wherever? Well, they have nothing left to do but sit around and scream and become quite literally the snacks on a plane. Sorry.

Question is, do I keep this movie and file it away with decent airborne thrillers like TURBULENCE or RED EYE or AIRFORCE ONE or FLIGHT PLAN or even EXECUTIVE DECISION? Maybe watch it again someday, after a LOT of lager? Or do I simply deny all knowledge, blow a hole through a nearby cabin window and send the stupid mf into the stratosphere where it belongs? (And yes, that's what happened to the snakes).

Tough decision. Actually, no, it's not. But still...

RECOMMENDED


Everything You Didn't Need to Know about the USA (Everything You Didn't Need to Know Series)
Everything You Didn't Need to Know about the USA (Everything You Didn't Need to Know Series)
by Karen Farrington
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AND THAT'S A FACT, 18 Nov. 2008
This being an election year (2008), there's a slew of USA-themed books, documentaries and films readily available for anyone who wishes to get under the skin of the Most Powerful Nation On Earth.

Included in that melange is EVERYTHING YOU DIDN'T NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE USA, a little book of facts and figures AND a whole lot better than the self-deprecating title suggests. I happen to like little books you can dip in and out of - for one thing, it's a good way to assess your info-retention skills which, in my case, appear to be nudging ever closer towards the goldfish bowl. How else do you explain the fact that there's always some snippet I don't remember having read before? Even though I'm certain I must have...?

Here's three random examples:

1: For the first 19 years that Crayola crayons were produced, they came in only one colour - black.
2: It takes 3000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year's supply of footballs.
3: For the first 19 years that Crayola crayons were produced, they... (THAT'S A JOKE, COURTESY OF A GOLDFISH)
3: Coca-Cola was first bottled in 1899 at a plant on Patten Parkway in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, after two local attorneys purchased the bottling rights to the popular soft drink for $1.

Okay, it's not something for Oliver Stone, Simon Schama or even Stephen Fry to eat their hearts out over, and probably only of practical use if you get lucky with a consective run of related questions in a pub quiz. Yet, despite all that, there's still a place for this type of grab-bag American miscellany and, consequently, it's entirely possible to learn a lot less - with arguably far greater difficulty - from other more learned sources.

But where's the fun in that?

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


The Best of Thomas Dolby: Retrospectacle (CD)
The Best of Thomas Dolby: Retrospectacle (CD)
Offered by westworld-
Price: £9.98

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GOLDEN AGE OF DOLBY, 13 Nov. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Five stars. But only for the six songs listed below*.

EUROPA AND THE PIRATE TWINS
URGES
LEIPZIG
WINDPOWER
AIRWAVES
ONE OF OUR SUBMARINES IS MISSING

The remainder of RETROSPECTACLE - basically everything that followed THE GOLDEN AGE OF WIRELESS - is bland and forgettable. Indeed, rather than emphasizing musical progression, this compilation merely demonstrates diminishing returns and creative atrophy.

Debut album THE GOLDEN AGE OF WIRELESS was, almost certainly, Dolby's very own CITIZEN KANE. Infectious, challenging songs from a mad professor of music, with his self-built at-a-tangent synthesizer and a similarly skewed pop sensibility. It worked perfectly, the whole package. But just the once. On the first go. He peaked - and from then on...well, you can hear what happened afterwards for yourself.

So why review RETROSPECTACLE? Ah, because there's two wonderful treats, not to be found elsewhere: URGES and LEIPZIG. The A and B sides of Dolby's earliest solo releases. Plaintive, Bowie-esque, vocals and a low-key, verging on sparse, production endow both songs with a power way beyond their modest intentions. Only the brilliant FLYING NORTH comes anywhere close to recreating that initial burst of atmospheric genius. And guess from where that song hails?

Five stars for six songs out of a total of sixteen. It doesn't make for a very persuasive calculation on paper. But scratch the surface and you'll discover that even low strike rates can have significant merit. And because he's still around, Thomas Dolby deserves the critical plaudits.

*VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Wilder
Wilder
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £5.77

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars LIKE THE WORDS THROUGH A STICK OF ROCK, 7 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Wilder (Audio CD)
From the egocentrically weird mind of JULIAN COPE - a man who might have been locked up for the duration in less enlightened times - WILDER has his unique personality stamped all over it like the words through a stick of rock. Part pop, part psychedelia and arguably part cry for help, some of the songs here occasionally struggle under the weight of his intense delivery and vision, but who can deny the brilliantly crafted BENT OF OUT SHAPE, COLOURS FLY AWAY, PASSIONATE FRIEND and THE GREAT DOMINIONS?

Although there's nothing quite as immediate as KILIMANJARO's REWARD or TREASON to get the pulses racing, WILDER - complete with 9 bonus tracks and nearly double the length of the original vinyl LP - is certainly worth getting your teeth into. And to give Jules his due, he did go on to write the sublimely gaga SUNSPOTS and TRAMPOLINE.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Of Skins And Heart [Australian Import]
Of Skins And Heart [Australian Import]
Offered by swankers3
Price: £16.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars EXCOMMUNICATING IN STYLE, 6 Nov. 2008
OF SKINS AND HEART is the brilliant 1981 debut by Australian band THE CHURCH. And I still maintain to this day that they were as good as, if not better than, INXS with their driving and melodic pop/rock sound. It's a subjective opinion, of course, especially when you take into account the latter's sales and worldwide popularity, but still...

This is an album chock full of psychedelic, lyrical imagery, jangling guitars, and husky vocals (courtesy of STEVE KILBEY, complete with refreshing Antipodean twang). Every element gels perfectly AND on their first attempt, no less, resulting in a collection of songs as potent - if not quite as well defined - as anything to be found on KICK. But feel free to argue the point.

CHROME INJURY
FOR A MOMENT WE'RE STRANGERS
THE UNGUARDED MOMENT
MEMORIES IN FUTURE TENSE

These songs in particular stand out and possess a melodic hook so compelling you're sucked in almost without effort straight away. And only marginally lesser material rounds off the album. The production is very 80's, but thankfully shies clear of that horrible 'big sound' so beloved of ASIA and their ilk. Nevertheless, The Church come across with power and presence and nothing about OF SKINS AND HEART is sub-par. Trivia note: FIGHTER PILOT...KOREAN WAR was replaced by TEAR IT ALL AWAY on the original UK release.

Amazingly, The Church are still knocking songs out today but it's an altogether more trippy and grungy affair, due as much to advancing age as musical progression. For me, the early-to-mid stuff stands the march of time best (follow-up album THE BLURRED CRUSADE, classic tracks such as TANTALISED and UNDER THE MILKY WAY, for example) but, as with all things musical, you need to hear it for yourself.

I don't remember being an atheist for long.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


From a to B
From a to B

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MANSFIELD GOES TO TOWN, 5 Nov. 2008
This review is from: From a to B (Audio CD)
NEW MUSIK'S first and best album. Ten perfect songs plus b-sides.

A regrettably short then-lifespan for a band - three albums over not-quite four years - but the modest splash they made and the resulting ripples were almost always perfectly formed. And most of the success was due to one man, TONY MANSFIELD, who crafted a new wave electronic sound that was both unique and unmistakably no-one else's. As part of the burgeoning synth movement that sound enabled them to stand out. Conversely, their image (Maplins sales counter assistant/drab boiler suit chic) rendered New Musik almost invisible, but I suppose that's showbusiness for you.

However, the singles STRAIGHT LINES, THIS WORLD OF WATER and LIVING BY NUMBERS were light, swirly, infectious gems. Populated throughout by regular bass, drums or drum machine, precise electric/accoustic guitars and layers of sharp synths (over which Mansfield sung deceptively simple lyrics) this became the template for the New Musik sound.

All grey walls with a folorn daffodil stuck in a glass of water looking for the sunlight, the album cover is in stark contrast to the musical contents. Not much respite on the inner sleeve either as storm clouds and rough seas threaten to engulf the expressions of our four bemused and windswept day trippers. Note: the magic of owning the original 12" vinyl LP, of course, meant that sizewise you could stare at the content for hours trying to read in some kind of cosmic significance (that's the kind of thing you did when you were eighteen) even if it was simply another routine photoshoot in Margate for everyone else concerned.

A truly original album, full of memorable music. It's as contemporary now as it was in 1980, but it remains special to me because I was there, ready to be swept away right from the start. Happy times.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


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