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Reviews Written by
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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The Awakening (2011) [DVD]
The Awakening (2011) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dominic West
Price: £3.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's no place on earth people understand loneliness better than here., 12 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Awakening (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
The Awakening is directed by Nick Murphy and Murphy co-writes the screenplay with Stephen Volk. It stars Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Shaun Dooley and Joseph Mawle. Music is by Daniel Pemberton and cinematography by Eduard Grau.

Britain, post World War 1, and Florence Cathcart (Hall) makes a living as an exposer of charlatan spiritualists, a debunker of ghost sightings. When she receives a request from school master Robert Mallory (West) to investigate the supernatural events at a remote boarding school for boys, she is suitably intrigued to take on the assignment...

It comes as no surprise to find that numerous reviews for The Awakening make reference to ghost story films that were made previously. The Woman in Black released a year later would suffer the same fate, charges of it not bringing nothing new to the table etc. A ghost story set in a big mansion or remote educational/correctional establishment is what it is, and will continue to be so, all fans of such spooky fare ask is that it does it well and maybe add some adult themes into the bargain. The Awakening does these in spades.

The concept of a disbeliever in ghosts having their belief system tested to the full is not new, but it's a great concept and one with longevity assured. Here, boosted by a terrific performance from Hall, the screenplay consistently keeps you guessing. The possibilities of real or faked are constant as the director pumps up the creep factor, whilst he simultaneously crafts a number of genuine shock sequences - including one of the best doll house scenes put to film! This really has all the requisite jolts and atmospheric creeps for a period spooker.

It's not until the final quarter when the screenplay begins to unravel its mystery, a finale that has proved both ambiguous and divisive. The ambiguity factor is a little baffling since everything is made clear in a nicely staged scene, and this is something which the director has gone on record to state as well. As for the divisive side of things? That's a blight for this sub-genre of horror. It's convoluted! Contrived! It has been done before they cry! These are true to be sure, and without doubt there's a leap of faith required to not get annoyed, but it garners a reaction and has done its ghost story essence very well indeed.

Beautifully photographed, scored and performed by the leads to boot, this is for sure one for fans of period spookers with brains. 7.5/10

A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child [DVD]
A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert Englund
Price: £2.84

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kids... always a disappointment., 12 Oct. 2015
* This review contains an implied spoiler in last paragraph *

By the time A Nightmare on Elm Street had rolled around to this, part five, Freddy Krueger had long stopped being a scary bogeyman. He was now a figure of fun, a purveyor of one line quips, while the makers were desperately trying to come up with new ideas in which to have the pizza faced Krueger still exist, and thus have more films for him to be in...

Here we are sold the idea that a foetus can dream, so not only do we get a horror staple of sex being bad for you, but it lets Freddy (Robert Englund) back in the fold - in this another garbled screenplay. Cue friends of the pregnant Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox) being stalked and offed by the old stinky green and red jumper killer.

It's all very frenetic and cartoonish, with gore replacing scares. There's a little ingenuity with some of the kills, such as a comic book section that has a good thought process, but once the laughable finale arrives - cuz - like - love conquers all - then you may be digging out parts 1 & 3 to remind yourself how good this series used to be. 5/10

Night Of The Living Dead - The Remake [DVD]
Night Of The Living Dead - The Remake [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tony Todd
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £8.81

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars We are them, they are us etc..., 11 Oct. 2015
The original creators of the seminal Night of the Living Dead (1968) reconvene 22 years later to, well, make some money!

It was a compromised production, with director Tom Savini announcing that the finished cut is not half the film he set out to make. Surprising, then, to find it still works to the point of being viable. It's a very effective zombie pic, one performed with quality by the cast, with the concept of a group of people holed up in a house - under intense attack by the walking dead - still terrifying. Group dynamics again explode, heroes and villains are born, and the creatures are high grade in scary construction. Caveat, though, is that although it's a faithul(ish) remake, where with the new tools to hand it's understandable why the makers thought they could create another horror classic, but one for the 90s horror hordes, it still remains that it's utterly bloodless. While the finale is a bit stinky... 6/10

Jeepers Creepers 2 [DVD] [2003]
Jeepers Creepers 2 [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Jonathan Breck
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We are trapped in a broken down school bus out on East 9. And something is going to kill us if we don't get help out here right, 11 Oct. 2015
Plot finds the demon known as The Creeper (Jonathan Breck), still having a little time left for feeding and harvesting human parts before his 23 year hibernation. A buffet bar of high school kids on a bus returning from a basketball match are now in his sights. But an avenging father played by Ray Wise is willing to take the fight to the monster.

It's a simple as it sounds, really. Creeper picks off various members of the bus, which is the usual array of annoyingly obnoxious teenagers. The tension comes from wondering who is next in line, all while the fractured group (racial/sexuality tensions) try to come up with some sort of plan to survive until help arrives. Logically it's a laughable nightmare and goofs aplenty are within, but there's a neat gory "B" movie vibe about it driving it forward. Plus there's more of Creeper in flying mode and a bad ass Ray Wise to root for.

After the success of the first Jeepers Creepers film it was inevitable that a sequel would follow. With a little sadness we find that this sequel fails to capture the strengths that made the first film a refreshing horror joltathon. But regardless it still has some merits as a fun horror time waster. 6/10

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge [DVD]
A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mark Patton
Offered by FREETIME
Price: £7.45

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Possession is nine-tenths of the law., 11 Oct. 2015
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge is the runt of the Elm Street litter. It was unfortunate to be the sequel to a landmark horror film, a film that birthed one of the ultimate horror icons whilst having at its core a terrifying premise. A premise that was superbly executed by all involved in the first film. Part 2 bravely tried to advance the bogeyman story to another level, to one of possession, which in hindsight was a mistake.

There's also the mixed tonal flow and confused intents that hamper the pic. Whilst the young members of the cast are too blank to garner the required amount of sympathy to get us to care about their plight, especially lead lad Mark Patton as Jesse Walsh. However, there is still a lot to like here, some striking imagery grabs the attention and it is not without some unnerving scares.

The debates about what metaphors the makers were going for still exist, and that homo-erotic sheen is never going to go away, but even though it's an average Elm Street movie, it's not as dreadful as it was first painted. 5/10

Saw VI [DVD]
Saw VI [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tobin Bell
Price: £3.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Jigsaw Killer may be dead but the murders still continue..., 11 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Saw VI [DVD] (DVD)
So where were we at now then? Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) is still continuing to do the bloody work of the dead John Kramer/Jigsaw (Tobin Bell). In his sights is William Easton (Peter Outerbridge), an unfeeling insurance head who turned down claims by Kramer and a myriad of others on pathetic technicalities. Cue more elaborate traps, painful decisions and some twisty devilment. Yep! It's another Saw movie.

Somewhat surprisingly, part 6 is a step up in quality of writing and ingenuity of gore/trap factors from the previous two installments. It's still very much old hat as a formula, and once again the sequences of Bell used in flashback show him to be the franchise's strength. However, the makers put at the core an insurance issue that everyone can identify with, whilst piling on mystery and suspense by way of Jigsaw's left envelopes and the FBI closing in on an increasingly overt confident Hoffman. 7/10

Jack The Ripper (1959) - Region 2 PAL, plays in English without subtitles
Jack The Ripper (1959) - Region 2 PAL, plays in English without subtitles
Dvd ~ Lee Patterson
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £13.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Are you Mary Clarke?, 10 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The serial killer known as Jack the Ripper is loose in London, 1888. As the police frantically search for the maniac through the East End smog, a whole bunch of suspects hone into view...

Murder by person or persons unknown.

Surprisingly little known, this Jack the Ripper picture belies its obvious budget limitations to produce an atmospheric and suspenseful piece. This is not in any way an accurate account of the actual story, so interested newcomers should be aware of that fact. It is basically an interpretation of Jolly Jack, a serial killer mystery to be solved.

There's plenty of cobbled streets and smog, dim gas lamps, top hats, tails and medical bags et al. The more severe parts of the story come with tilted camera perception, and the narrative embraces ladies of the night workings and vigilante justice. Which all builds to an absolute beaut of a finale.

Well worth a look by fans of Ripper period fare. 7/10

House Of Frankenstein [DVD] [1944]
House Of Frankenstein [DVD] [1944]
Dvd ~ Boris Karloff
Price: £5.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the house of fun now I've come of age..., 10 Oct. 2015
Let the Universal Monster tag team continue unabated! In truth there's not really a whole movie here, it's more a skew-whiff anthology involving Dracula (John Carradine), the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr) and Frankenstein's Monster (Glenn Strange), with Boris Karloff's mad scientist and J. Carrol Naish's hunchback serving as the linking meat in the monster sandwich.

Plot is for the genre at the time the standard Universal fodder, mad scientist and hunchback manage - by an act of god - to escape from prison. Scientist is after revenge, hunchback wants a new body. After a short encounter with Dracula via a travelling chamber of horrors side-show, the pair head off to the Frankenstein castle - with pretty gypsy girl and Larry Talbot/Wolf Man in tow - where hopes and dreams involve a lot of brain swapping.

What transpires is a bit of violent jealousy and disappointments, building up to the monster smack down finale just as the villagers once again take unkindly to the presence of monsters in their midst. It's all good fun, the clichés of the franchise crammed into the hour and ten minute run time ensuring it's never boring. But really the Dracula section will leave you wanting more, while Frankenstein's monster - in the film bearing his name - just lounges around for a bit and then it's pretty much the end!

Enjoyable if disposable 6/10

Haunted House of Horror [DVD]
Haunted House of Horror [DVD]
Dvd ~ Frankie Avalon
Offered by Classic Films Direct from A2B Media
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Swankers and Slashers!, 10 Oct. 2015
OK! It should be noted that the finished film is not the film that director Michael Armstrong set out to make. Pretty much taken away from him in the writing department by the producer (Deke Heyward), and on the directing front by Gerry Levy, the garbled mess that is this film should not be held against the talented Armstrong.

A bunch of young adults in swanky London get bored at a friend's house party and decide to move on to a nearby derelict house that is rumoured to be haunted. When one of them is found murdered, panic, mistrust and bad decision making ensue...

Well, a third of the film passes before the group get to the supposed haunted house of the title. Up till then we are introduced to an intriguing stalker sub-plot and an introduction to the youngsters and their way of life. Sadly, what transpires is that the stalker angle proves to be pointless, and that the house is not haunted or indeed very horrific! In fact it's quite a funky old house.

The characters just mope about and nothing much really happens, when the blood comes it just isn't enough to fulfil the patience that has been asked of the viewers. Cast are run of the mill, with Frankie Avalon badly out of place and Dennis Price as a police detective wandering in to proceedings for the easiest pay check he ever made.

As a period piece it soars. The fashions, all paisley shirts, flares, mini skirts and kipper ties, are wonderfully garish, as is the colour schemes and decoration of the houses (woodchip wallpaper - oh my!). The cars, also, are a treat for nostalgists interested in a Britain that time forgot. While in the play some will note and enjoy the phallic symbolisms and attempts at guignol malarkey.

But ultimately it's a poor film, and annoying because there are hits of what might have been. From the boring first third to the daft finale, this is another Tigon production that smells off. 4/10
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 10, 2016 1:20 AM BST

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man [DVD]
Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lon Chaney Jr.
Price: £5.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I only want to die. That's why I'm here. If I ever find peace I'll find it here., 10 Oct. 2015
In an effort to revitalise their monster franchise at the box offices, Universal hit on the idea of of featuring more than one monster in a movie. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man was to be the first of many such ventures.

Lon Chaney Jr is back as Larry Talbot/The Wolf Man, who after being awoken by unsuspecting grave robbers, is once again tortured by his curse and desperately wants an end to his misery. Seeking out the Gypsy woman Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya), the pair of them head off to find Dr. Frankenstein in the hope of finding a solution. He's dead, though, but there's another scientist on hand for help and as the villagers once again take unkindly to someone rekindling old nightmares, while the Frankenstein Monster (Bela Lugosi) is found preserved in ice...

It's in effect a sequel to both The Wolf Man and The Ghost of Frankenstein, though as would become the norm, Monster Frank is a bit part player in a film bearing his name. The film is delightfully brisk and with Chaney doing good work as the tortured Talbot - with the relationship between Maleva and himself quite touching - the story carries emotional weight. However, Lugosi doesn't look right for the role of the monster, Patrick Knowles' switcharoo to a mad scientist is ill thought out, while the big smack down finale is sadly all too brief.

Nobody in the film, except maybe Chaney, was done any favours in the editing and writing rooms, but it's still a whole bunch of fun for fans of the Universal Monsters series. 6/10

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