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Quackser (Ireland)

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The Ghosts Of Edendale [DVD]
The Ghosts Of Edendale [DVD]
Dvd ~ Paula Ficara
Price: £2.18

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Rose, I'm seeing them again", 12 Jan. 2010
This review is from: The Ghosts Of Edendale [DVD] (DVD)
Ultra-low budget spooky story from the man who made "The Last Broadcast", the movie that wags who desperately wanted to be in the know used to insist "The Blair Witch Project" was plagiarised from. "The Ghosts of Edendale" racks up a fair few borrowings of its own (especially from "The Shining") and manages a couple of nice shivers before collapsing in on itself.

At first, the hard, shot-on-video quality of the image works well in capturing the stark feel of the always-sunny Hollywood hills, to which any number of aspiring writer/director/whatevers gravitate in desperate hope of getting into The Industry. Video lends a cold, unblinking look to things and has been used to good, creepy effect before (think of "The Stone Tape" or "Sapphire and Steel", for example) and works best here when creating the feeling of inescapable dread experienced by the girfriend of a newbie screenwriter who's suddenly and mysteriously a success (and no longer quite himself) by virtue of becoming One Of Us in the local community of fellow aspirants.

There's a cool idea behind the mystery of what's going on, but the movie doesn't quite have the chops to bring it off. Bargain basement CGI is (over)used to make The Ghosts of Edendale visible to us, but all the effects manage to do is destroy whatever atmosphere the piece has managed to create. The strong performance of lead actress Paula Ficaro holds things together up to a point too, despite the character being written as the usual "woman with a history of seeing things who's seeing them again, or is she?" But if you want a story about the madness that infests the sick ground of Hollyowood, I'd suggest renting "Mulholland Drive" instead.

Session 9 [DVD]
Session 9 [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Caruso
Offered by Sound and Vision
Price: £9.00

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "What are you doing here?", 12 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Session 9 [DVD] (DVD)
A crew of workmen find themselves with a week to clear all the toxic material out of a huge (and real) old psychiatric hospital. The hospital building is incredible-looking (shaped like a giant bat, when seen from above, as one of the characters observes) and inspired Brad Anderson to make a movie there. His thesis is that the place itself is like a divining rod, drawing the latent madness out of anybody who hangs around there too long. It's a good, creepy idea, but one the film only sort-of manages to consummate.

Anderson loves the widescreen frame and is one of the few current directors who knows how to use it to create atmosphere and tension. The performances and the character writing are good and mostly ring true. The story is allowed to build naturally and quietly, with the intrusion of the "other" handled very effectively. Peter Mullan is an actor who always seems a bit lost within himself, frequently to the detriment of a film, but here his inwardness really works. Up to a point. But once one realises that this is going to be one of those films in which everything is arranged to get us to the moment where What's Really Going On is revealed, then the mechanism becomes a little too clear, the structure a little too schematic, to evoke the madness that the film insists is here but, to be honest, isn't really.

Anderson's "The Machinist" also suffered from this ultimately diminishing flaw; this over-structured (blame screenwriting classes!) sense that the plot, no matter how "crazy" must be something that can be reduced to an equation. But Anderson is a terrifically gifted filmmaker and I'll be checking out whatever else he makes.

Full Contact [DVD]
Full Contact [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chow Yun-Fat

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This one goes up to eleven, 8 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Full Contact [DVD] (DVD)
A gonzo high point of the Hong Kong gangster genre. A gang of good bad guys joins forces with a gang of bad bad guys. The bad bad guys betray the good bad guys and the spiral of revenge kicks off. Oh, and the leader of the bad bad guys (Simon Yam) openly and lasciviously fancies the pants off the leader of the good bad guys (Chow Yn Fat).

In the late eighties and early nineties, the better directors of Hong Kong action movies began to be feted internationally. The likes of John Woo and this film's director, Ringo Lam, suddenly found themselves lauded as pulp visionaries and, for a brief time, because their films made money, were allowed to make whatever the heck they liked.

"Full Contact" really is some kind of apotheosis of the Asian gangster movie. All the "types" are here: the murderous nymphomaniac; the homicidal brute; the gay psycho; the gangster who's only doing it to pay for his mother's funeral; the killer with a conscience; the "good" girl. The film knowingly and mischievously plays with these staples of the genre. It offers everything a (ahem) straight action movie would: the vicarious enjoyment of mayhem and lawlessness; a good wallow in a demented teenager's idea of "cool". But it also rips open these elements and reveals the sometimes downright crazy impulses actually motivating them. Alas, the movie wasn't really a success, and these days Ringo Lam is better known for making straight-to-DVD Jean Claude Van Damme no-brainers.

Although made in 1992, this is a two-headed mutant of an eighties movie, as if made by a giddy kid out of his mind on Duran Duran videos and Buckfast Tonic Wine; someone to whom Russell Mulcahy is some kind of deity. There's nothing quite like it.

Stretch/We Had It All
Stretch/We Had It All
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £7.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A footnote, but an interesting one, 7 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Stretch/We Had It All (Audio CD)
While never threatening the pre-eminence of Scott Walker's classic albums, this pairing of commercially-aimed middle of the road records from the period after Scotts 1 to 4 and before his blast-off into musical stratospheres of his own devising still has a lot of charm and yields more than a few very pleasant surprises (Scott Walker sings Randy Newman, for instance). So if the thought that, for a while at least, Walker seriously tried to (or was prevailed upon to) head down the Barry Manilow route makes you stand up and walk around the room, scratch the dog's ear and sit down again, then at some point you'll find yourself giving in to curiosity and buying this. Enjoying it too, very likely.

Tales to Astonish
Tales to Astonish
by Ronin Ro
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Far from definitive., 7 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Tales to Astonish (Paperback)
Jack Kirby was the greatest innovator in twentieth century American comics. His influence extends beyond comics into TV, movies, videogames and pretty much every area of modern pop culture. Yes, he deserves to be commemorated at book length. No, try as it might, this isn't the book to do that job.

Kirby grew up in New York in the twenties, fought in World War Two and produced tens of thousands of pages of his unique comics. He created or co-created Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The Eternals and hundreds of other iconic characters. But while he made millions of dollars for Marvel Comics, Kirby was never a business man himself, hardly looking up from his drawing board to see the fortunes he was making for everyone but himself.

This is a classic story with tragedy right at its heart, but Ronin Ro's by-the-numbers recounting of the events of Kirby's career is pedestrian and hampered by that over-edited "journalism school" style of writing that renders people into "types" rather than individuals and constantly threatens to turn the most interesting stories into the bland and generic.

The world of comics professionals from the forties onwards is sometimes well evoked, but rarely gets beyond the tip of the iceberg. Research is sometimes sketchy: In the chapters dealing with World War Two, Stuka dive bombers are depicted bombing Liverpool, a city they had not got the range to attack; the German 88mm gun is described as firing hundreds of rounds a minute, when it was in fact a single-round artillery piece that had to be reloaded after each shot; in the chapter on Kirby's monster comics, Godzilla is referred to as a product of Toei studios rather than Toho. I know this might seem like nit-picking on my part, but when a book makes such silly errors in dealing with subjects I know a little about, then what kind of mistakes might it be making on the subjects I bought the book to learn about?

Finally and most unforgivably, this book about one of the greatest visual artists of our time contains not a single illustration.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 27, 2012 12:08 PM BST

Small Town Folk [DVD]
Small Town Folk [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris R. Wright
Price: £1.98

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I kept trying to like this., 7 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Small Town Folk [DVD] (DVD)
First of all, kudos to the makers of this zero budget homemade horror movie for getting it together to do what so many others just talk about doing. Unfortunately, the good news more or less stops there as the end result, although carried off to a fair level technically, is an inert mess. I'm all for relocating the backwoods psycho genre to rural England, but, good as that idea is, the ball is almost immediately dropped and the film drifts rudderless to feature length, although it feels a lot longer than its eighty-something minute running time.

Positioning itself as a sick horror comedy, Small Town Folk falls well short of the five or six good examples of that sub-genre that you can think of off the top of your head. Budget- or the lack of it- isn't the problem here. The film has no spring to its step; no animating spark. Characters wander about and deliver their lines as if they've just woken from a summer afternoon nap. There's no tension; no sense of urgency; no excitement. The whole thing plays like an extended version of something a bunch of pals would make for their own amusement and then stick up on YouTube. And, as evidenced in the "making of", they do seem like a nice crowd that you'd happily go for a pint with. They just don't seem to have any idea how to make a movie, nor any idea what made the films they seek to emulate so good in the first place.

Vamp [DVD] [1986] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Vamp [DVD] [1986] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fangs for the memory, 5 Jan. 2010
It's the eighties. Grace Jones runs a nightclub. And she's a vampire. This is one of those movies that I think I first rented at the 24-hour video shop when whatever I'd actually come in looking for was unavailable. And what a pleasant surprise it turned out to be. Actually, by accident probably IS a good way to happen upon this little classic, the better for it to work its gonzo charms upon the viewer. It's become something of a word-of-mouth cult, glimpsed a couple of times on late night TV (Alex Cox showed it in his late, lamented Moviedrome slot) searched for and discovered in bargain bins and, yes, cherished. Now it's out again in a shiny new edition, looking great for its age and showing up many a later film that tried to walk in its weird little shoes. You'll watch this more than once.

Showcase Presents Enemy Ace TP Vol 01
Showcase Presents Enemy Ace TP Vol 01
by Robert Kanigher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why use subtlety when a (Von) Hammer will do?, 23 Dec. 2009
World War One. Hans Von Hammer is Germany's greatest flying ace. He's shot down more enemy planes than anybody else. But even the engine of his Fokker Triplane seems to call him "Killer...Killer...KILLER!" and soon his thought balloons are filling up with tortured soliloquies.

Great as it is to have 500+ pages of Enemy Ace in one collection, sticking all the stories together unfortunately brings home with a resounding thud the realisation that this stuff hasn't aged very well. By the third or fourth story I was skipping the words and just enjoying Joe Kubert's exemplary artwork. Robert Kanigher seems less to have typed these scripts than shouted them, but his one and only theme- "War is HELL"- isn't better communicated for being done at maximum volume. The episodes are repetitive and severely hampered by Kanigher's lack of range as a writer, and soon it all begins to feel like being harangued at a bus stop by a grumpy old man.

But, as noted, Joe Kubert's artwork is spectacularly good. He creates some of the best scenes of aerial combat in American comics (second only to Alex Toth, maybe) and generally brings the setting alive in a way that even Kanigher's writing can't completely undermine.

Later episodes also boast excellent artwork, by Frank Thorne and the great John Severin. Howard Chaykin draws one short storyline, and makes a complete mess of it.

The Entrance [DVD]
The Entrance [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sarah-Jane Redmond
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £1.72

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhere beneath the city, a fallen angel forces bad men to play musical chairs., 1 Nov. 2009
This review is from: The Entrance [DVD] (DVD)
The movie professes itself to be the first part of a trilogy, but this seems to be a sideways admission that they haven't succeeded in telling the story properly rather than a promise that there's lots more where this came from. It starts off well enough with a detective, nicely played by Sarah-Jane Redmond, being drawn into a mystery that seems to involve a game of some kind, played for high stakes with something more than, or less than, human in charge. Apparently the game exists to punish the guilty, so drug dealer Michael Eklund (who seems to think he's competing in an Ethan Hawkalike contest)needs to both rope the detective into taking his place and contrive to make her "guilty" of something so that she'll satisfy the entry requirements.

This takes an awful lot of explaining (including some very ropey flashbacks to the 1600s) and completely dissipates the nice sense of dread created by the opening sequences of the film. It's marketed as some kind of "Saw" rip-off which, to its credit, it isn't. But, while gaining marks for atmosphere and a few intriguing set-ups, the film ultimately succeeds neither as an introductory chapter to the mooted trilogy nor as a story with enough going on to stand on its own two feet.

30 Days Of Night [DVD]
30 Days Of Night [DVD]
Dvd ~ Josh Hartnett
Offered by Champion Toys
Price: £2.89

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bloodless, 15 Oct. 2009
This review is from: 30 Days Of Night [DVD] (DVD)
I wanted to like this movie. There's a great idea propelling the action- the thirty days of night to which an isolated and way north little town succumbs once a year turns the place into a 24-hour Tesco for vampires- but once the set-up kicks in and we settle down to see the story play out, the slow realisation dawns that the script has absolutely no idea what to do other than tediously mark time until feature length has been reached.

Some of the action sequences are clever enough and the film has moments of great visual beauty. But the titular thirty days presents a structural problem that the movie never solves, forcing it to leap forward many days at a time to keep things moving, thus asking us to believe that a small handful of human survivors could evade the superhuman vampires who never stop searching for them for a month, all this within the confines of a town no bigger than a crossroads, cut off from the outside world by the winter.

The characters are stock types effected on something like the Stephen King template, dripping with unresolved "issues" that will, of course, have some bearing on the action. The vampires are just as familiar, strutting around like some idiot emo-boy's notion of dark cool. He can keep them.

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