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ScottPaul ScottPaul "Scopan" (Surrey, UK)

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Burning Bright [DVD]
Burning Bright [DVD]
Dvd ~ Briana Evigan
Price: £5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hotly Burning Bright among the barren inky blackness of non-grey matter that usually doesn't matter, so strike it up., 25 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Burning Bright [DVD] (DVD)
Electrifying horror and thriller, lip-smackingly original snarls in the face of all the pointless fake haunts, slashers, cannibal non-zombies and asbo brats, explaining perhaps why it was criminally but typically passed over for cinema release. Refreshing tale gives us compassionate 20 year old girl forced to be sole carer of her autistic younger brother, who finds out the money left in trust for her and her brother is now gone-handed over to her stepfather, utterly blowing her chances of furthering her education, and the house her mother left her seized by her stepfather-and with the leftover funds, he has acquired the one thing he could see his punters stampeding their sick way to his newly renovated home-cum-safari ranch for-one of the most beautiful, lethal and rarest carnivores left on this planet (just about anyway)-the Bengal tiger.

Kelly, played with utter ballsy conviction by hottie Briana Evignan (previously registering little in the pointless flop 'Sister Darko' sequel to 'Donnie Darko', the loathsome 'Step Up' sequel, and since appeared in nondescript 'Sorority Row' remake debacle, wakes in the night to find her house boarded up like an abandoned country pile, her stepfather missing, a billowing hurricane pounding the walls outside, and worst of all, the house with her and her brother...a loose and very stressed, hungry and angry Bengal tiger.

How she battles to stay a leap ahead of the world's most dangerous land carnivore, while trying to keep her uncomprehending younger brother safely alongside her makes for heart-pumping thrills and nerve-jangling terror in such a personally visceral way that most horrors just can't compete with, and the world needs to know that. It also offers a hunk of fresh meat beyond the expected 'Jaws', 'The Birds', 'Grizzly', 'Anaconda' etc. path by boldly refusing to litter the joint with human prey just to off it at fifteen minute intervals. Which makes it slightly more related to 'Cujo' in that respect, but only mildly, and the unique chills and suspense such a scenario builds and pumps inside you can't be faulted. The musical score is deftly employed throughout, adding the necessary chops to strengthen the mix. Ratcheted up further by the closed-up ranch, lonely setting, destructive storm preventing escape even if it were possible, and the baggage her mentally-challenged brother binds to her. and a very young Charlie Tahan (already in Will Smith bore 'I Am Legend', 'Charlie St. Cloud with 'High School Musical' barbie Zac Efron, and an episode of series 'Fringe, among other things) is blisteringly great in the role, and scary too, for when he kicks off, you'll briefly forget Asia's biggest killing machine padding the rooms and corridors...get the two together and wow. Add a cold, sneering Garrett Dillahunt as the callous stepdaddy, a surprise cameo from Meatloaf and the acting chops are complete.

The photography and panning camera is superb throughout, with several spectacular jump moments, but these are actually in wonderful addition to the searing attack sequences, and the mechanics deftly employed to manoeuvre Kelly and bro away from the increasingly aggravated killer kitty's jaws, teeth and claws, are easily digestible for the most part. Yes US ranches must have numerous corridors, en suite rooms and several staircases to utilise for assault and escape purposes, but unlike recent disappointing slashers like 'Cold Prey', the setup is never less than convincing. Added to this, we want these two to survive anyway such a great job do they do. The finishing jewel is the animal's presence-no crass puppet job or oversized CGI hologram, and this 'Open Water' approach is subliminally eminent.

But Ben-Gal the tiger musn't be reviled or even disliked; an early character refers to him as being "pure evil" for killing a particular horses in a circus he was brought from, but anyone with a slight grasp of common sense and decency would equate hateful scaremongering and buck-passing clouding a societal miscreant prepared to put these two animals together in a cruel man-made and unnatural environment for our profit and pleasure. And, er, what do we do to horses ourselves. Well then? And, horses, bred by us, for us, have stopped being a "natural species" as it were, unlike the tiger. And what if we were that tiger, any tiger, justifiably peeved at a long imprisonment and cramped limbs, bolted onto the stepfather's intention to starve the animal to have him perform for the man's vision. Real ethical, huh?

The film's opening credits seem to echo the storm over Kansas from 'The Wizard Of Oz' and beautiful to look at, as is the ending, with recurring shots of those eyes 'Burning Bright-ly' akin to a pithy, sobering message about their virtual extinction, presumably not for the reason that watching this would vilify the creature in the same with 'Jaws' did for the ignorant and easily pliable public masses. Even if it did, it couldn't hope to catch up with the Chinese medicinal, souvenir and sex market. People! Just sick. Infinity.

One of the, if not complete top hot spot for horror in 2010, but the UK edition is predictably free of extras, whereas the US copy has the poem where the title comes from by Ms Evigan, and a small featurette I believe, but even without it, and at such a great price, it Burns, it's Bright, it's great, and it may be the last time anything on this planet actually sees a live tiger. Not so much Jungle Book, as Jungle Took and Cooked. Sheer Can't!

Chatroom [DVD] [2010]
Chatroom [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Aaron Johnson
Price: £3.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What's to Chat about?, 25 July 2014
This review is from: Chatroom [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Another non-horror, but no doubt marketed by one by the powers that be, maybe because the director of it is actually-wait for it-Hideo Nakata, who shocked the world between 1998 and 2000 with the memorable and frightening 'Ringu'. Flash forward to 2010 and we're now dealing with cyber-bullying, though such a worthy and engrossing subject is sensationally blown apart by the flashy high-tech MTV presentation that interpolates upon proceedings with the regularity of leeks in the park after a hammering. Aaron Johnson, (a young dude praised by many, and lifted from innocence by the female director of his first major film, who proceeded to have his babies) is so annoyingly transparent here that you couldn't imagine anyone, no matter how gullible, falling for his self-spoiler manipulation web as he so desperately works to enthrall a select group with "issues" to fight back against something that wasn't even bothering them in the first place till he brought it up! Admittedly coercing a shy loner (sensitively and delicately showcased by Matthew Beard, the real find in this mishmash of zoned-out whining) to kill himself in front of his PC to purge him of his pain is a vile embodiment of Johnson's character as ego-maniac and attention-seeking cretin, and you'd so wish he'd take his own advice. Cyber-bulling is a massive deal today as computers threaten to envelop those who maybe once controlled them, and there's so much the film could do with a subject more likely that the unconvincingly bad wannabee thriller pap of 'Eden Lake', but it just trips on the sidelines and lets a multitude of flashing images and computer graphics faff about in eye-tearing prettiness.

To scale the conformity heights of past leaders in the film that have seized upon bullying and growing pains, this had net height to scale, and it couldn't reach any of them-not 'The Breakfast Club', nor Pretty In Pink', or 'Some Kind Of Wonderful', 'Heathers', not 'Jawbreaker', 'The Craft', 'The Faculty', 'Ginger Snaps' (the last two as much about this as horror). Even private school slasher with an undead twist 'Tormented' two years previously torments this easily, as did underground bunker thriller 'The Hole'-hell even the tame but cutesy faux-slasher 'Cry_Wolf', which was really just an 'April Fools Day' rehash online, but with a few heads to off. Above all teens and students are so often hard to care about in horrors and thrillers, but 'Chatroom' doesn't try to ask why.

Nor does it help that Johnson only ever comes across as a snivelling and whining spoiled brat whose only driving force when he's at home (and even not at it) seems to be conceiving ways, mainly in threats to kill himself, because his mountainous and inexplicable jealousy of his high-achieving sensible older brother and successful but still loving J.K. Rowling like author mother, played with restraint and sensitivity by Megan Dodds.

It kept me watching till the end, I admit, and actually delivered one that wasn't bad at all. it even had a smart jump, followed by an act I wasn't prepared for. Matthew Beard's story of his disappeared father leaving him as a young boy in London Zoo is poignant and mean, if very 'Eye Of The Beholder' when Ashley Judd's father did the same to her as a child on the streets of New York as a young girl, and in 'Chatroom' unlike 'Eye' it did become slightly overplayed to the point your interest and patience starts rebelling. The damned film just takes too long to make its steadily withering point, and the whole thing would probably work better as part of a bigger story, but even then, you need to dump the flashy MTV posturing and the whining brat routine of over-privileged preppies to get the heart of the real plague of cyber-bullying, how it grows, and how to begin to combat it.

It's not horror, It's not awful, but it's many computer clicks below average, with enough extras to probably show up how straining this material is to reach 100 minutes, and it really should have stayed as the play it was based on. Maybe later this decade, this potent subject matter, as yet untapped here, will receive its net worth.

Spookies [DVD]
Spookies [DVD]
Dvd ~ Felix Ward

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Twisted Souls' becomes 'Spookie'-d into one is definitely mixed, but more good than bad fun., 25 July 2014
This review is from: Spookies [DVD] (DVD)
Probably the best thing to come out of the Vipco vault, if not the best print, mastered as it is from its VHS release in 1988, 'Spookies' boasts the most creative and varied array of evil monsters than most films of any decade, that have a tendency to just concentrate on one or two (at most) usually obvious evil beings, i.e werewolves and vampires. Neither of these things are in evidence here, but what we do are a procession of Muck Men or Muck Golems, Lesser Snake Demons, an Octopus-Demon that dispenses electricity, an animated statue of the Grim Reaper, and an awesome Spider-Woman Demon that goes through more than one metamorphosis, steadily getting even more hideous with each new switch.

'Spookies' is actually the final result of an unfinished feature named 'Twisted Souls', which actually featured all those creatures above, plus the first girl who gets possessed by the evil old necromancer who's derelict mansion is the one this two car loads of nosy teens (probably the oldest teens this side of Danny, Sandy and Rizzo from 'Grease'-one's almost as old as the evil sorcerer!). All these things are from 'Twisted Souls', whereupon new footage bringing in the young boy upset that his parents have missed his birthday, the man in the tree who talks to him, the scary cat-boy, evil witch in the tunnel network beneath the house and leading to outside, plus the old withered sorcerer himself, a willowy blonde girl in wedding dress imprisoned by him in a coffin, and a little boy blue with sharp teeth wearing a monk's cassock, who wouldn't look out of place in the Stuart Gordon masterpiece 'Dagon' from 2001, and the zombies that erupt from the substantial graveyard around the house, complete the finished piece called 'Spookies'. It's a whirring merger of two films that unavoidably creates confusion, befuddlement and a less than pleasing result all round. If 'Twisted Souls' had found completion without running into legal and creative differences between the producers and financial backers, who knows how different it could have been, but we can only go by this.

As already said, 'Spookies' boasts a wonderful array of creatures, brought extensively to life by some truly inspired puppet work. Amateurish and sloppy to some perhaps, but that's only cos they're used to serial killers, vampires, werewolves, serial killers, and a load of groaning idiots going around pretending badly to be zombies when they're really just people suffering a weird disease that makes them bite each other, a ridiculous premise ruining many movies we've actually yet to make coincide with logistics. Get this, the zombies in this ARE actually zombies, you know, long dead cadavers, shells of the living, reanimated by a necromancer to do his bidding and they only stay in one place-the graveyard that is the source of their power. They kill or stop victims leaving the house and they kill by slashing or dragging the victim below soil to suffocate-they're not biting suburbanites in soup-stained Sunday best going around biting each other to no purpose whatsoever. This is one hugely strong plus point in an otherwise weak film's favour, and it's a huge one.

The acting is almost routinely dreadful, considering these people are way into their twenties, and above, what is wrong with them, they can't relate to each other naturally, engineer silly fights and say the most embarrassingly dated things in accents that verge from goon to posh, some are funny by accident, which you hold on to. By far the best is the character of Meegan, played by Kim Merrill, she is outstandingly impressive and the only one acting so natural and concerned in such a horrific situation. The comic relief isn't bad, he talks (and feeds!) a glove puppet he carries and has a cute line about it not mattering where he pees cos the whole house is a toilet. Nuff said, and the actor playing the cat-boy is quite effective, he prances, leaps and almost has orgasms over locking doors and holding the handle so people can't get out. In short, he's frigging weird, but he's not human, so fair enough. The old sorcerer is amusing as he tries to convince the trapped Sleeping Beauty awoken he is hers, and he uses a chess game to illustrate his control of the people drawn to his house and in supreme danger. But jump-cuts from him as he speaks to the possessed girl through the Ouija board and in answer to some of his quarry's questions to each other is uncomfortably daft, and threatens you to give up at moments, but fortunately, another nasty encounter with a fell-creature sorts things out. His imprisoned bride seems to be a bit drugged when she wakes up, and doesn't seem quite up in the reality department, but she is sweet, invokes pity, smiles and gets stronger as it goes on, and she, as well as Kim Merrill, knows how to scream properly. The blokes are generally hopeless, and seem to cope less, but if they can't adapt, their problem.

The print, the general acting, the splicing of two movies together,and the lack of extras are derailing, but it stays on track, because where else are you going to see such varied monsters put together with a deceptively light touch, and Soo Paek as the Spider Woman is also good value for the minute she's her first self. It should be so much better, this movie, but it offers another kind of horror in a colourful banded package as in only the 80s could. Spook-iey.

The Happening [DVD] [2008]
The Happening [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Mark Wahlberg
Price: £1.65

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 'The Happening' not Happening to Happen, as it Happens., 25 July 2014
This review is from: The Happening [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Embarrassing drek that shocks me by making Marky Mark Wahlberger-with-fries likeable and sensitive. With apocalyptic visions along the lines of a 90 minute 'The Stand' or 'Outbreak', M. Night Shyamalan's woeful directing career continues unbounded as he spins out a fromage-melted trail as to why people are suddenly talking and shouting nonsense, throwing themselves off scaffolding and putting guns in their mouths (blimey sounds like the even worse 'Magnolia' as well). Nothing Happening in 'The Happening' at all, except the man who expertly killed horror in 1999 putting a gun into HIS mouth with this latest offering. Oh, I didn't say that plants and trees, and seeds and pollen carried on the breeze are all passing out air-borne influenza to have mankind passing out (and it must have worked on the viewers, considering the dolts that filled cinemas to see it). Yes, a widespread eco-infection is turning your painfully less-than-average Joe and Joanne to take their lives, if they don't pass out first, they decide that's the virulent act tumbled to next, as you do huh? When they don't keep changing their minds that is. Which may have effected me to as I watched, thinking often, "should I pause it now, stop it for good, give it another half hour for something meaningful, comedic, interesting or plausible to happen, or just kill it now?" In the end I saw it out, mainly because Whalburger came across as more fun than anyone else. Well, i didn't want to kill him for once, and be almost stunned he could make a film where he ran scared of a punch or a gun, when usually that's what he's threatening everybody else with.

With dialogue so shocking and short-circuiting you'll cringe at the static, scenes unfolding a stagnantly lifeless picture you've filled in yourself ages before the thing ends, and suspense as baleful as black paint on the floor of a canyon at night, and Zooey Deschanel sabotaging her career even further (she never should have indirectly killed the adorable Anna Sophia Robb in 'Bridge To Terabithia'), this is one 'The Happening' that just ain't happening, even if happening to be no worse than anything else this wretched man has ever sifted on to us, though grudgingly concede 'Signs' drives me less mad than his other offerings.

Least in view of the film's ridiculous (if highly typical) success, a few positive Happenings have at least sprung from its empty grasp on fear and horror-it was nominated for four Golden Raspberry Awards (only four?) including one for dear Sparky Marky Park (ironic, considering he was way better than Deschanel in it) and Worst Director and Worst Screenplay for that genius-in-his-own-mind M.Night Shyamalan (but will this tell him anything, of course not) and came in at No.8 in a 2010 Empire mag poll of "50 Worst Films Of All Time" AND first place in a 2012 SFX mag poll of "50 Worst Sci-fi & Fantasy Movies That Had No Excuse". To hilariously cap matters, Marky Shark has spoken of the film barely two years after its release, calling it "a really bad movie" and to screw it, but that also he couldn't he expected "not to want to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn't playing a cop or a crook." I quite agree, Marky dear. Hilariously, you were actually the best thing about it.

Nope, sorry, that was Amy Adams! The mighty fine star who, as Larky Marky so astutely contends, "dodged a bullet" when she turned down the role of his wife. Now why would she do that?! I guess it just wasn't Happening for her.

Primal [DVD]
Primal [DVD]
Dvd ~ Krew Boylan
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £5.06

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Proof Aussie horror can still be in it's Prime., 25 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Primal [DVD] (DVD)
Surprisingly good Aussie nasty abandons the po-faced drek of 'Wolf Creek', but gives one initial worry, so I tried it out on Film4 first, and was pleasantly surprised. While Aussie animal-horrors are usually my thing (and they've fed me at least two great croc and shark horrors over the past eight years), this one initially misleads with its blatant ode to cannibal (i.e US "idea" of so-called "zombie" horror), before throwing in ambiguous seeds of 'Long Weekend' and excellent US plant-killer film 'The Ruins' to grow things further to a pleasing twist, even if the CGI accompaniment leaves a lot to be desired, yet can be forgiven, and I do. Six attractive and generally likable students go off to look at some aborigine wall art in the outback and fall afoul of what appears to be a cursed piece of land pleasing to the eye but not the touch, or do they defile it just by being there, and/or not heeding the warnings in native tongue etched on the cliff-side?

The ensuring chaos doesn't take long to explode, and gore-hounds of a million by-the-numbers cannibal/"zombie" things will either love it or compare it unfavourably to what they already decry as untouchable, though I'd claim them as more untenable. This may have any amount of nods to others films, but it's more quality '28 Days Later' with a supernatural tinge, than a rather average 'Cabin Fever' like show, though even that featured dogs. And this has a rabbit-thing thrown in, looking like a cousin of the rat monkey thing from Peter Jackson's 'Braindead'. Either way, you wouldn't pet it.

Less predictable than most US cannibal things many will see it as, you can't really tell who'll get infected next among the small group of nice Aussie unknowns. The setting is beautiful, but with enough of an edge, and the sense of isolation as palpable as pervaded that Aussie classic 'Long Weekend' and Kimble Rendall's excellent slasher-with-ironic-supernatural-overtone 'Cut' from 2000, and expert US ones like 'The Thaw', 'Frozen' and 'The Ruins' itself. 'Primal's also helped no end by some pretty robust and perfectly panicked acting, and not much made in the way of stupid decisions either, and whilst a few do boast an idiot side at points, most discrepancies seem to come naturally from a horrific situation no one really expects to find themselves in and then has to make crack decisions in the heat of the moment, or stumble. There is, however a significant misstep with one of the blokes-he starts the film as a peeved whiny little sniper, holding his girlfriend to verbal ransom for something never made clear, but probably less important than her merely saying hello to an ex she passed with him in college that day, and try as she does to wearily drag him out of his huff-shell he proved impossible to placate-so much so anyone would give up. Yet once something very dodgy strikes her and she becomes most unlike herself and increasingly-well-Primal even-he suddenly acts she's like the most peaceable and fab being, despite what she is beginning to do, and the worse she gets, the worse he gets in defence of the now quite indefensible. Mate, your pathetic guilt trip is too late, and should not drag in others. This then threatens to grate on the viewer. Someone's boomerang clearly won't come back.

The conclusion does throw up a little CGI which will flick off the easily annoyed, but not enough to undo all the carnage and destruction of what went on before, especially as it's like the film needing to state in a loud voice "I'm not just '28 Days Later' down Erinsborough, you know". For a budget little bigger than the deeper meaning in a Kylie Minogue record, this one beats the hell out of all this US trash types like 'Paradise Lost', 'Pig Hunt' and 'Welcome To The Jungle' that mine weakly the shock-tactic taboo of people eating people, and kicks the hell out of the so-called "zombie" ones too. A few of the unimpressed have taken a few issues with it the rabid girl jumping like a cat in a few sequences, but I don't see that as a problem, she's no longer a human and the place she now haunts she probably draws animal strength from. One other dopey person mentioned zombie sex in this too, confusing it with 'Braindead', making reviews far more to be doubted than the film itself. There are two reasons this is a clearly wrong statement-there's no zombies in this film-even so-called Hollywood ones that everything thinks are just that. Secondly, zombies, as biologically defunct, unfeeling shells of long dead cadavers can't and don't have sex! Pushing all silly criticism aside, and bearing in mind there are a few worthy ones I've noted myself, I still recommend 'Primal' in the same way that Aussie film 'Cut' took in the supernatural vibe and fashioned correctly into the story, whilst still keeping it very much a slasher, but a witty one with a refreshing explanation as to why killers never sodding die at the end and leave us all in peace. This isn't as great as 'Cut', but it's shot well, the scenery is lovely, it moves, is exciting, horrific, nasty; it sadly has no extras at all, but it is a good price and, unlike the likes of 'Wolf Creek', it's a Prime-al cut of cool outback horror.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2014 4:36 PM BST

Madhouse [DVD]
Madhouse [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joshua Leonard
Price: £3.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 'Madhouse'? More like Mad it's in da House in the first place! Can we say eviction?!, 25 July 2014
This review is from: Madhouse [DVD] (DVD)
Low budget yawn-inducer is another of those lazy serial killer bores criminally marketed as a horror, when it's really just a lame psycho-thriller, and it attempts to be like the earlier and rather better (though hardly extraordinary) 'The Attic Expeditions', but fails miserably to keep the viewer awake from the outset. A dark, clammy mental asylum may promise much visually, but falls flat when there's nothing to see, feel or even hear of any worth, and don't expect to shiver, though I did once, I was sitting too near the electric fan.

Which would be the only fan. Drearily acted, we don't care that the friendly welcoming student nurse, played by Jordan Ladd (love your boy's name, how American!) had a dark side, we knew it before she even read the soiled toilet papered square of script. New intern Joshua Leonard (of the far better 'The Blair Witch Project'-indeed all this wretched chill-free chiller does is echo better films to no one's surprise) explores the facility, becomes disturbed at the condition of the patients, some of them "see things" (yes, it's what you've got eyes for!), others self harm (oh, I feel my heart awash with sadness). But what can he do, and will the naughty nurse help him?

Depressing to see horror icon Lance Henriksen, more wasted here than a choc ice on a hob in this bilge, his presence so often means a quality horror, but then this is neither, and shame also for Natasha Lyonne, so barely just she get anything worthwhile. Leonard made the deservedly barely-seen and truly appalling 'Cubbyhouse' around ten years ago, and anything more like these two and he may need a place in an asylum like this permanently, though he did appear in 'Shark Night'-his best yet, and there's the likelihood of a few low-budget well-made comedy dramas I've looked up that sound promising.

Director William Butler has a few strings to his scraggy bow-he's been a bit-part actor and writer, as well as a hand in make-up artistry and special effects technician-maybe he should keep to that, his directing credits read like a pound shop hard-sell in a toilet bowl. He goes to village (or thinks he does) on set design, yet it's still all as sterile as a latex glove. He doesn't understand tension, has all the narrative grip of an unarmed baboon, and even worse, promises ghosts when there are clearly no such beings in tedious slasher land by way of a mental disorder. Think 'Session 9' but even more hopeless and less petty to look at, with the obligatory twist-ending bore to punish you for sticking with the thing to the end, and is it worth mentioning that I've seen twistier rulers. A straight fail, Willy Wonky, and back to the cex second hand store it goes, and if a third person is pitiful enough to pick it up for 1p more than it's worth after seeing this review, they belong in a Madhouse every bit as tedious as this one.

Altered [DVD]
Altered [DVD]
Dvd ~ James Gammon
Price: £1.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Sanchez Found-Footage Trailblazer of "what-you-don't-see-is-scarier-than-what-you-do" briefly Altered my view of his uniform., 24 July 2014
This review is from: Altered [DVD] (DVD)
He utterly polarised opinion when his low-budget little found-footage piece being the legendary film event of 1999 via the internet, and while I don't agree it's celluloid Marmite (I don't love nor loathe it), maybe its one-note but effective skeleton proved too troublesome to follow up immediately, hence the seven years wait, and then we get a completely different type of horror. Despite the clawed arms hanging down like branches front cover, reeking of 'Blair' deja-vu, Eduardo Sanchez has actually ticked more boxes than he ever could with his previous film with this moody and panicky piece. Three redneck bozos are hunting something at midnight in the woods, and that something seems to turn on them. Somehow they manage to reclaim the hunter's mantle, but not before one of them falls prey to a man-trap, whereupon, after freeing him, they catch and drag their catch back to an old garage block, whereupon we learn they're meeting up to exact a just revenge on this alien creature who'd apparently attacked them before, and abducted one, before "sending me back" and killing another-though this point is never made clear in what bitty flashbacks there are. We never even get to see a close up of the dead friend so we can only rely on those in front of the camera to make us care about them and their dire predicament: three of them manage this, but the other is a particularly annoying breed of backwoods idiot plus who whines, complains and screams in an unintelligible lingo only other miscarriages can hope to understand, this utter loser can't go five minutes without a spout-shout of pretend posturing threat or a repeated dumb order, and he resembles so much more than a massive supremely unwanted bluebottle buzzing repeatedly into your ear while you try to sleep, that you just want to swat him into the stain he made coming out of his mutant mother.

The film introduces tension much earlier than the one where his rep was first made, and thanks to the gentlest of the three blokes in the woods, plus the more Hollywood stock-type but likable leading man type played by Adam Kaufman, who I may have seen in some episodes of differing TV shows, and the actress playing his girlfriend acquit themselves really well, and the tension really rockets up in the claustrophobic setting of the out-of-town garage, especially as the peed off alien is beginning to wake. The alien itself is pretty damn impressive, all the nastier for the low budget employed, and I'm glad Sanchez isn't repeating his trick here of keeping the non-human force AWAY from the camera-and therefore us. There's a generous amount of scenes to flinch at once the violence gets going, and you'll be rooting for the right people, when you're not hoping that certain no one meets his damn demise asap. And a nice appearance from affable old stalwart James Gammon as a happening by sheriff.

No extras to speak of, but it's a tightly packed film of snaky threat and bursts of forceful survival attempts. At such a charitable price, this shouldn't be ignored, not least because he seems to have since become aware of the new found-footage capsule the horror world now lives alongside big, medium, small red-herring horror cheats, when it's not all about remakes we don't want nor need, and his third film 'Lovely Molly' seems to reek of everything of this typical wimp-out "horror"-and the more reviews I read of it, the more scared I get (and not in the way Sanchez would have want it). He followed it up with one called 'Exists' out this year, and it appears to be a big-foot kind of horror, but both these latter films have too much that can go wrong with them to get me other than feeling dubious. For now, unless proved otherwise at a later date if I can bring myself to do so, Sanchez has 'Altered' my opinion of his found-footage "what-you-don't-see-is-scarier" only once and I can't see that changing.

Best of Toyah
Best of Toyah
Offered by Champion Toys
Price: £22.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lacks a few singles, and can't include anything beyond the Safari years, but should still be Loud, Proud and Heard., 22 July 2014
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This review is from: Best of Toyah (Audio CD)
1998 compilation that concentrates on most of the singles released from Toyah Willcox from her first EP through to her commercial breakthrough early 1981, where she was one of the leaders of the first great female invasion of the charts (early 1981 also saw the birth of the great Kim Wilde on to the scene, but also Grace Jones, Stevie Nicks, Kirsty MacColl and Clare Grogan of Altered Images bounced up, with Pat Benatar already established) so it was a great place to be, despite the fact most if not all would suffer terrible interference, weak decisions hoisted upon them and worse from the male idiots running their labels, with little insight or sensitivity to what actually it takes to establish a music career, and keep it.

Safari was her first label and almost all the singles she made from that time (between 1979 to 1983 are on here, excepting 'Victims Of The Riddles' her first ever single, 'Bird In Flight' and a later song, 'Dawn Chorus' which was the proposed second single from her fourth album, once her third album "Anthem" had finally blown the charts open for her. It's a truly great place to start for a necessary induction-though largely and conveniently forgotten these days,Toyah was everywhere for her first years in the business, and, unlike now, comes from a time when you had to slug yourself live in often hugely challenging conditions before getting anywhere near a record deal. But she is like no one else, but that was the 80s, almost everyone had their own individual sound. She writes from great perspectives-alien abduction, paranoia, sci-fi, worshipped deities, human evil, treatment of animals, and though known primarily for the bouncy, buoyant 'It's A Mystery' and the skive off school anthem 'I Want To Be Free' (which references burning down abattoirs too), her biggest hit seemed to be the anthemic, prevailing 'Thunder In The Mountains', a song choc full of the electricity and pounding excitement she exudes at her best. There are others too, the demonic like 'Ieya', the desolation of 'Brave New World', urgent sci-fi maul of 'Rebel Run', exuberant 'Be Proud, Be Loud (Be Heard)' (no fear of that, dear), heart-breakingly beautiful ballad 'The Vow', a true rarity for her to release a ballad, and 'Good Morning Universe'-all stand out songs that are all her and no one else.

But equally important are a couple of other standout tracks that should have been singles-'Sphinx' which was a flexi-disc given away with a music mag in 1981, 'Furious Futures' and an amazing one called 'I Explode'-it's one of the most frightening things I've ever heard, and what she does with her voice is amazing. Toyah's pipes are among the strongest in the biz, and Kate Bush and Stevie Nicks have got real competition in the penned poetry, and awesome vocal gymnastics. A couple of other tracks from a few of the EPs are also listed, but these are less important. Either way it's still a definite buy. From 1979-1983, it really is the Best.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Touch up "Touch" for Laura's best record., 22 July 2014
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This review is from: Touch (Audio CD)
Poor Laura. And she one of the few US artists actually to be of value yet typically unappreciated in their own country (trust the US for that!), yet she never managed the Pat Benatar longevity of impressive singles due too many dodgy choices throughout her career ('How Am I Supposed To Live Without You', 'Turn The Beat Around', 'Cry Wolf', 'Power Of Love', 'Ti Amo', 'It's Been Hard Enough Getting Over You'); in other words just way too many weak choices ruining what could have maybe rivalled the single discography of Ms Benatar or Belinda Carlisle's, but it's a sobering truth that Laura's albums aren't usually safe bets, choc of too mcuh filler, and a few horrors here and there. With this in consideration, she was lucky enough to chart five albums within the US Top 100 before the 80s closed up, yet with the 1987 album "Touch", unlike the heavily feted "Self Control" album of three years before it, she finally has a long player so bubbling under with possible singles that there is little doubt it's got to be her best all-round offering, though I've a feeling the previous one "Hold Me" (the only album she ever got all single choices perfect) may match it, but I have yet to hear that elusive, expensive work in its entirety.

Until that possibility can be proved or disproved, "Touch" is the one to hit numerous bullet points for the simple reason it contains most of her best and moving ballads, alongside faster, insistent numbers, and the album generally dumps the rather antique (if it had been better) sound of her past albums, including "Self Control" who's title track and the even more impressive 'The Lucky One' were by far the best things on it, indeed I can't believe it sold so well, considering its virtually made up of irrelevant to plain awful stuff too old for '74, never mind '84! "Touch" also dumps the treacle overload that usually hampers her album lyrics, being a generally glorious lift into the stratosphere of maturity, and her canyon sized voice flits behind raw emotional pull on such smokey lingering ballads like 'Shadow Of Love' and the no-more-chances-for-you decisiveness of 'Shattered Glass', a killer dance floor tune. Produced by the odious and criminal Stockpile, Aching and Waterhead of later Bananarama singles and the purveyor of virtual commercial death to see in the pretty duf 90s (along with Madonna the awful and the de-evolution of c/rap "music", they astonishingly do the song no harm (it helps they didn't write it), and in the same year made a double hit by remixing Deborah Harry's 'In Love With Love' into a palatable dancefloor delight, from the rather aimless and stodgy album cut it was, though again they didn't write it, but 'Whatever I Do, Wherever I Go' is them all over, it's just with Laura's vocal prowess and artistic merit, it works a lot better than a vacuous Hazell Dean. Therefore it's still a less cool inclusion, but far worse are the always present mistakes Laura can't help stocking up with, only here they can be dealt with. 'Power Of Love' is as unnecessary as the ear-shattering woman of sop Celine Dion's tryout, and I just play Jennifer Rush's every time, but 'Name Game' is just a disgusting exercise in pure pointlessness, embarrassment and something you wouldn't tolerate or even expect from a bunch of pre-schoolers at a pre-cheerleader tryout. Laura, for God's sake woman, have you no shame, can't you see how hard you've tried with the rest of the album, unlike all your others (except perhaps "Hold Me" too?) This vile piece gets obliterated for the albums own good, your sanity and her reputation, but a whole batch of quality stuff remains, as never before or since.

The opener 'Over Love' is a slow-building stunning ballad with H-I-T all over, yet this fact and its placement means nothing as Atlantic, with the true empty wisdom and unseeing vision of a typical record company, completely ignore it as such (haven't we been here before?), and do the same with the driving 'Angels Calling' (the chorus sounds like a demonic summoning, which doesn't stop it being singalong at all), while the Rick Nowels-Ellen Shipley (Belinda Carlisle songwriters) strike up their magic with the album's best cut, the pounding, blistering 'Spirit Of Love', with its ever-tense verses building to a crescendo of roaring release on the chorus. It's just big, alive, pulsing pop/rock at its best, and should have been touted everywhere as the single it is instead of another unwanted 'Power Of Love'. But the slow songs get their equal moment and 'Meaning Of The Word' is one of the strongest she ever had, coming across like a moving vista in the eyes; vivid, stark, and with more than a little hint of Foreigner's two biggest hits with the tinkling synth sections around the intro and bridges.

It's less fortunate the title track catchy, worthy or grand, but it still works, while 'Cry Wolf' is laudable and boasts strings, but meant as a gentle comedown from the pounding electricity, it fails, largely because the now defunct Stevie Nicks did a far better version for her career-best album "The Other Side Of The Mirror" two years after "Touch", though I fear she's a lost cause these days. Against that power-piece it fails, though it's not unlistenable. But rounding off this enjoyably fine and accomplished record is inclusion of the 'Shattered Glass' 45's b-side, another killer called 'Statue In The Rain' which sounds exactly like it's meant for the album, and especially so when there's a horrible space of inanity to fill. Laura, all-round, you've Touch-ed and so am I.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer [1992] [DVD]
Buffy the Vampire Slayer [1992] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kristy Swanson
Price: £4.74

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely apart from the TV show of the same name, Buffy the movie Lays It and Slays It, so time to Raise it and Praise it., 21 July 2014
I missed seeing this not long after its release date, was totally befuddled by it when, long after the series (which is very very different, as most everyone knows), I finally got round to it. One more try a few days later-and was laughing like a comic Santa. While initially it seemed to find a footing with many people, ever since 1997 the big deal seems to be the obvious-somehow the series, like many plain okay but nothing special American shows, not content with becoming cult (!?), was hugely successful too-and bizarrely straight-faced, considering its US teen fluff exterior,but oh! The shame, the cheek. "That film, it has nothing to do with the series at all-The Series" they call it, like a church was being infiltrated by greasy rebel bikers, a laughingly backward proximate. The film had five years to itself, before creator Joss Whedon, stating deep displeasure with the way the film interpreted the script, despite him and director Fran Rubel Kuzui polishing it and the film's star character together, expanded it fully into what he wanted for the TV series. Did he get it right? According to him, yes, he got what we wanted, and I doubt it soured relations too badly with Kuzui, who is credited as executive producer of the TV show, and the silly spin-off 'Angel', who's only point really was the much lamented hot little Irish actor Glenn Quinn, previously best known for old 90s sitcom 'Roseanne', though Charisma Carpenter was pretty lovely too, and you never really see her anywhere. Kristy Swanson also seemed to suffer this.

For me the TV series can exist or not, I don't give a flea's zit, but the film, accidentally or otherwise, is actually the prototype for Amy Heckerling's fantastic teen crowd-pleaser, 'Clueless', no less, and this film, like that is anything but clueless. Yes, it's more of an extended joke and charmingly wry depiction of rather aimless spoilt LA brats, than a dark and biting true attempt at teen horror, but these preppies are all so stupidly funny, outlandishly dense and moronically a scream that it just doesn't matter. It really is 'Clueless' before there was 'Clueless' and, if he admits it, I wouldn't be at all surprised if daring visionary Gregg Araki had been tuned in too-listen to how his teen cast of disaffected daft youth of America talk to each other in "valley speak" in his films 'The Doom Generation' of '95, and more obviously 'Nowhere' of '98. I was half expecting Kristy to drop in on the last one with a "Whatever" herself. Of course his break out feature 'The Living End'-issued the same year as 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' opened at #5 at the North American box office was an entirely different kind of film.

'Buffy' the film really is pre-dates the 'Mean Girls'/'Easy A' kind of humour and virtually established it. And a surprising bunch of legendary names lend it all heft-Donald Sutherland as Merrick who hilariously turns up in a long dark coat at Buffy's gym routine (she's head cheerleader of course) and despite appearing the delightful ditz (a sort of cooler Dedee Pfeiffer 'Vamp' creation in truth, which pleases me to say no end), she lets on early there's more to her than that, as does the script when she calls Don out for looking like a "skanky old man who likes to attack young girls" and to go "forget himself"! Oucho! Later when he turns up in a locker room, she does a gasp and calls him out for appearing "in a naked place" and he "shouldn't throw knives at her head, or call her a president of the hairy mole club so he can throw things at her, cos she doesn't want to be the chosen one", but when she virtually breaks his nose with a perfect swipe, she becomes convinced she must be, backed up by his claims of seeing the recurring visions she's been having for weeks, and a feeling of super strength she now possesses, plus heightened reflexes.

Rutger Hauer is fun as Lothos a local vampire king, I don't think he'll really put off his cult fans, everyone's entitled a little fun as he done much worse than this, believe me, and Paul Ruebens as his not-quite-as-sadistic-as-he'd-like-to-be-sidekick, and Candy Clark as Buffy's dumb mum ("kiss noise darling!"); there's a few uncredited cameos by Ben Affleck, Ricki Lake and Seth Green. Of Buffy's friend set, she increasingly tires of their inane sense-free prattling and their consensus that shopping is the life's motivation to breathe. One of them is an insanely dumb Hilary Swank with braces but she's pretty nasty (for a Bev Hills twit) who tells Buffy later to prioritise her friends or "get out of my facial"! She also offends Buffy by calling Oliver Pike (Luke Perry) a "homeless poke" cos the "unwashed masses" are nothing to do with their set. To be blunt, honoured and Oscar-laden she may be, but I've yet to find a film of hers beyond this and the incredible and underrated "11:14/eleven-fourteen" that I truly rate and enjoy. Luke Perry is good breezy fun in this as well, telling mates to run if they see his vampiric friend (David Arquette in an early role) without telling them why, pleads to his van to "make me proud, honey" as he tries to outrun pursuers and when Kirsty huffs out for a bit, he tells her "The world's under attack from legions of the undead; you've gone to a mixer!"

But this is still Kristy Swanson's film and she owns it in a light-hearted yet distinctive way, and she's astoundingly funny and utterly hot to boot. Despite tiny earlier roles in two John Hughes films, and a bigger one in the 'Flowers In The Attic' adaption with Louise Fletcher prior to it, her movies have been thin on the ground since, a real shame, as in stuff that could work but likely doesn't, such as 'Soul Assassin' and 'Red Water', she's much better than them. Far better it that way than the other I guess. This film even manages a surprisingly effective jolt into poignancy at a certain point, and she plays it beautifully. A reminder it's far more than obvious fluff. One of the best films of 1992, this has a brief featurette, a few TV spots for dumb groups, and a good choice of subtitles including Hebrew, Icelandic, Polish and Croatian, plus English for the hard of hearing. The soundtrack was also pretty popular, but the best songs would be one from Bangles gal Susanna Hoffs and Aussie group The Divinyls.

In summary, I don't attest to the TV series being bad at all-it's loads better than many things of recent years, just feel no desire to be drawn to it. But for what it is 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' the films slays, still does today, and that's all I need to say.

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