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Night of The Demons [DVD]
Night of The Demons [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alvin Alexis

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable 80's horror cheese-fest, 3 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Night of The Demons [DVD] (DVD)
I won't go too deeply into the plot details for this one. It's a horror movie made in the 80's; it takes place in an old dark house; teenagers get possessed by demons; there's plenty of gore and nudity (Linnea Quigley is in it, so the latter's a given). That pretty much sums it up. Oh, and there's this weird scene with a lipstick... but I won't spoil that for you.

Long story short: if you're a fan of schlocky, sensationalistic fright flicks then you could definitely do worse than this cult favourite.

The film was remade a few years back, and the result wasn't too bad either. Both versions of the film are worth a watch if you're a fan of this sort of thing. The sequels (Night of the Demons 2 and Demon House) are also enjoyable enough if you're in the mood for some undemanding horror fun - the sort of thing that might go down well at Halloween, perhaps.

A note about the different versions that are available: I originally owned a copy of the Midnight Movies release of the film, but recently picked up a copy of the newer Anchor Bay release. The AB release is superior by far, with better visual quality and more DVD extras, as well as a cheaper price tag.

BEYOND THE DARKNESS: Cult, Horror, and Extreme Cinema
BEYOND THE DARKNESS: Cult, Horror, and Extreme Cinema
Price: £3.79

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not comprehensive, but otherwise excellent., 17 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
One quick criticism: there are lots of famous and notable films that this book fails to cover - even such "classics" as Cannibal Holocaust are omitted.

That's not a big problem though because the book surpasses expectations in every other regard. Some of the films being reviewed here are ultra-ultra-obscure, and it's great to have a book to point the potential viewer in the right direction, and to let us know that these films exist in the first place! The style and content of the reviews is also exceptional, with plenty of astute observations being made and tit-bits of information unearthed. The author of this book is consistently fair and incisive, even when reviewing some of the most inept or indefensible films known to man. In this regard, he reminds me of Stephen Thrower, the author of the excellent Nightmare USA.

And let's not forget the very agreeable price tag. I got my kindle edition for £3.25, and I would say that this was a bloomin' good deal!

If you are interested in the crazier, darker, and less explored side of cinema then this cheap little guide is definitely recommended.

[Rec] Genesis [DVD]
[Rec] Genesis [DVD]
Dvd ~ Leticia Dolera
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £3.25

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The least effective in the series so far, but still pretty entertaining., 13 Sept. 2012
This review is from: [Rec] Genesis [DVD] (DVD)
Like many of the other reviewers here, I was a fan of the first two Rec films. Moreover, before seeing Rec I was a fan of the more bombastic and silly Demons films from Italy, which followed much the same "trapped with running, rabid, zombies in a confined space" formula.

So, given my positive predisposition to this sort of thing, what did I make of the newest part of the series? Well, it was good, but the tone was a little off at times; there are a few misplaced attempts at humour, but the bigger problem comes whenever the makers of the film decide to replace real horror and suspense with cheap shlocky thrills ("woo! It's a hot chick with a chainsaw!")

With that having been said, I thought that the film worked rather well for the most part - better than I had expected, in fact. The action is frantic and tense, and I was surprised to find myself really caring about the protagonists and hoping that they survive the carnage. Some reviewers have claimed that the movie is a mess of contradictions and inconsistencies. I wouldn't go that far. Personally, I would say that the second film did just as much to confound and contradict the established rules of the series by suddenly having the infected people talk and scuttle on the ceiling etc'. Nothing like that happens in the first film.

So, while I disagree with this line of argument (or rather, think that it's biased and partial at best), I will nonetheless agree with the general consensus that this film is a step back for the series. Why? I've already mentioned the unfortunate shifts in tone, but in my opinion the biggest deficiency with the film is its complete redundancy. It really doesn't add anything new to the franchise at all, and the title is completely misleading. You might find yourself assuming that we're going to get an origins story focusing on the original demonic possession. That would be a sensible assumption, given the title and tagline. Nonetheless, it would still be dead wrong. This film is completely superfluous, and offers nothing that we haven't seen already. No explanations, no new information at all.

If you're just after more of the same then you'll still probably get a kick out of the film (as I did), but otherwise you'll probably be disappointed.

Original Sins [VHS]
Original Sins [VHS]

3.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable and unpredictable religious satire., 19 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Original Sins [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I'm going to try to explain the plot as best I can here, without giving away too many spoilers:

There's a trio of pious, Christian schoolgirls. One day, while walking home, they all suddenly black out. When they regain consciousness, they discover that they've all been sexually assaulted. This is only the first of numerous happenings. Their initial reaction is one of disgust, horror, shock... but before long things take a different turn; the girls begin to hear voices and have visions, which lead them to believe that it's Jesus himself who is making love to them! Things get more distrubing still as our protagonists find themselves compelled to commit acts of violence in the name of their divine lover. The film then takes several more bizarre turns, as the plot eventually takes in demons, angels and aliens...

This low-budget obscurity is by turns shocking, funny (no, really!) and cringe-inducing. If you're in the mood for something unusual, iconoclastic and defiantly blasphemous -and if you're willing to forgive some bad acting and technical problems along the way- then this film might just be for you. It's certainly one of a kind, and I for one would say that it has more than enough personality to make up for its flaws.

Keep in mind that the British release of the film fell afoul of the censors though, so if you get the chance then you'd best try to track down an American copy.

America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It
America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It
by Mark Steyn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very flawed analysis, but one that should be considered nonetheless., 29 July 2012
In this provocative and darkly humorous book Mark Steyn argues that Europe is undergoing a steep demographic decline. Native Europeans aren't having enough children to replace themselves; the result is that the population is shrinking with each generation. In order to fix the birth deficit, Europe has relied on immigration so as to keep the economy ticking. These new arrivals will typically have much more children than their indigenous counterparts. The only problem with all of this is that the new Europeans tend to come from Muslim cultures, and tend to cling to these cultural values rather than embrace those of the host country. While the native population is too apathetic, relativistic, and short-sighted to stand up for its own secular traditions, the Muslim inhabitants are often much more confident and uncompromising. The result is that Europe will become increasingly Islamized, perhaps one day transforming into Eurabia.

Steyn's book is by turns thought-provoking and silly, veering wildly between serious analysis and reckless assertions. There are certainly interesting points being made here (albeit very crudely), but Steyn regularly strays from the mark to go after straw men and pet hates that have only a tangential relation to the issue (for example, he consistently ignores more obviously relevant factors like, say, feminism, in favour of his preferred boogeyman: welfare programmes). Steyn argues that the root cause of the West's troubles lie with short-sighted hedonism, but mightn't a less rabidly right-wing critic counter this analysis by claiming that an equally significant problem comes from the increased pressure on women to compete in the workplace - the single biggest deterrent against motherhood? Wouldn't countries that offer generous childcare provisions be in a better position to encourage families? If this is the case then Steyn's unapologetic right-wing slant on the issue might be seen as being partial at best, and downright misleading at worst. I'm not the first reader to find himself thinking these thoughts. In his excellent book "From Fatwa to Jihad" (hardback edition, p137), Kenan Malik offers this incisive rebuttal:

"According to Steyn, the welfare state is responsible for the poor performance of the "European races" in the bedroom. State intrusion into "healthcare, childcare, care for the elderly" has "effectively severed its citizens from humanity's primal instincts, not least the survival instinct". Yet the highest fertility rates in Europe are in those nations with the best state childcare provisions - Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Countries with poor childcare facilities - such as Poland or Romania - have much lower rates. Steyn makes much of Muslim states such as Niger, with an exceptional fertility rate of six. But he ignores the fact that of the five most populous Muslim countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iran) the figure for all but one stands at three or less, and the figures for all are plummeting. In 1979, before the revolution, the fertility rate in Iran was 6.5. Today it is 1.7, lower than for most Scandinavian countries and below the rate needed to stop the population from falling. Using Steyn's demographic logic, one could argue that the best way of reducing Muslim fertility rates to those of Europeans is by having an Islamic revolution and imposing sharia law."

While this doesn't completely bury Steyn's overall thesis, it does illustrate the way that his arguments often collapse into unfounded accusations and misguided assumptions. The issue is far more complicated than he realizes or admits. There's many, many more objections that could be raised but I think that enough has already been said. Steyn might be simplifying to a naive and almost insulting degree, but there's still much to what he's written that can't be dismissed wholesale. Overstatement aside, Steyn is right that a remarkable demographic shift is taking place, and some versions of Islam will very likely be in a position to exert a significant influence for the next few generations (though perhaps not as quickly or as powerfully as some pundits have claimed.)

In short, I would say that this book deserves to be read and its points should be considered, but I would also hasten to add that it ought to be treated with more than a little scepticism. Interested readers might be better off reading Christopher Caldwell's "Reflections on the Revolution in Europe", which provides a more balanced and sober approach to the issue.

Metal Beast (a.k.a. Project: Metalbeast) [VHS] [1995]
Metal Beast (a.k.a. Project: Metalbeast) [VHS] [1995]

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very silly monster movie., 24 July 2012
The U.S. Military dispatches two soldiers to a spooky castle in Hungary in order to kill a werewolf, and to extract samples of blood from its corpse. The blood will then be used to create "superior combat agents". The mission is a success. Ish. One of the soldiers is killed by the beast, but apart from that it all went hunky-dory. In fact, the surviving soldier was so satisfied with the resulting blood sample that he just decided to leave the one-of-a-kind, totally priceless, remains of the werewolf and his dead pal on the ground. I mean, what good would an actual body be for research? Nah, best just stick with the blood and call it a day!

The thing is that research on the werewolf blood is going a bit slow for Mr. Surviving Soldier, so he decides to jump the gun a bit and inject the last remaining sample of blood into himself. He then tells his boss what he's done, and makes a big speech abut how he's beginning to change and how he's got wicked listening skills now and how he's the best thing since the caveman. Having patiently listened to all of this, the boss decides to leave him alone to do whatever it is that people who've just become infected with werewolf blood do when they're alone. It turns out that this wasn't a smart decision. Mr. Surviving Soldier goes all wolfy and is only put out of commission when the boss sends some silver bullets his way.

Now things get a little silly. The body of Mr. not-so-Surviving Soldier is frozen in a cryo tube. Elsewhere in the same facility, we're introduced to some scientists who are researching a revolutionary skin-grafting technique, which utilizes synthetic material that, unfortunately, has a tendency to become as hard as steel. Go figure. So anyway, the scientists aren't allowed to graft this stuff onto living people because, y'know, it would kill them and stuff. It's then that the evil boss man returns once more to resuscitate the plot. He tells the scientists that he has a load of frozen corpses that they can experiment on. You see where this is going.

The boss's plan is to bring back his werewolf soldier (by extracting the silver bullets), and make it all metallic using the experimental skin graft doohicky. Thus, he will have a soldier that is almost indestructible and under his control!

No, I don't see how that last part is supposed to work either.

So, with a well-thought out plan like this one, you might reasonably assume that things go swimmingly and that the boss's investment pays off handsomely. Alas, no. The monster (which now looks like a porcupine dressed as the terminator) goes on the rampage.

All in all, this obscure monster movie is pretty entertaining. The budget is fairly low so we don't get to see any actual transformations. The monster suits are pretty decent though. If you like mindless popcorn horror flicks then you'll probably have some fun with this movie. I did. It's not a classic or anything, but it's well worth a look if you can find a copy on the cheap.

False Prophets: The 'Clash of Civilizations' and the Global War on Terror
False Prophets: The 'Clash of Civilizations' and the Global War on Terror
by Richard J. Bonney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An informative but partial introduction., 24 July 2012
"False Prophets" functions mostly as a polemical introduction to the various proponents of the "Clash of Civilizations" thesis, and places the (in)famous argument into a historical and political context; Bonney strives to expose the biases and partisan affiliations of those involved, from Bernard Lewis to Daniel Pipes, and is often successful in his attacks. As such, the book does a good job of setting the scene for the debate, even if it doesn't tend to tackle the specific issues discussed in the debate at any great length.

Aside form this work, the author has written another book that focuses specifically on the topic of Jihad. These two works complement each other well. Granted, even combining these two books together would not provide the reader with a comprehensive response to the CoC thesis; nonetheless, the reader will still come away knowing a great deal more pertinent information than they would likely find elsewhere. Some conservative readers might be tempted to dismiss this book out of hand, due to its prominent left-leaning slant. That would be a shame, because Bonney's work deserves far more consideration and acknowledgement than it will probably receive.

In short, this book is a very useful and unusual contribution to one of the most heated discussions in recent times. Read it and judge for yourself.

Reflections on Islam: Ideas, Opinions, Arguments
Reflections on Islam: Ideas, Opinions, Arguments
by George Jonas
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid, but unexceptional., 23 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Anybody with any prior acquaintance with conservative punditry will have a good idea of what to expect in this book. All the usual bases are covered: the war on terror, the war in Iraq, the clash of civilizations thesis, Eurabia, Islam... It's all fairly predictable, with little in the way of idiosyncrasies to distinguish this book from the herd. The author is more level-headed than some of the wingnuts out there, but he falls short of the erudition of Theodore Dalrymple or the expertise of Daniel Pipes.

There are a few things that might be said against the author and these essays. The arguments and ideas in this book are frequently simplistic and occasionally callous. Also, like many other authors with an ideological axe to grind, Jonas can't help but indulge in the occasion bit of cheap point-scoring. In one article in particular he turns to a single author's response to sexist oppression in the Middle East:

"I agree with Ms. Wente that the militants of Islam terrorize women, at least according to our lights, but this is something for Islam to resolve. Imposing our values on another civilization in a matter of gender roles is cultural imperialism of the most self-evident kind. Liberals would take this for granted if it were a question of any other Western value, from individual liberty to the rule of law - but for the sake of women driving or wearing makeup they seem ready to make war on the entire Middle East. It certainly shows where liberal priorities are these days." (P68)

There is a great deal that might be said in response to the above quote, but I'll confine myself to focusing on the first thing that sprung to my mind: it's rather unfair to generalize from one single author (Margaret Wente) to liberals in general. Support for humanitarian wars in the Middle East in the name of women's rights (or anything else for that matter) has been rather weak, to say the least. For the most part liberals have tended towards an isolationist mentality (this was the case even in 2001, when this essay was written); the left has continued to channel its energy into attacking the conservatives who support a more aggressive foreign policy right up to the present day. In short, there is no story here. Liberals are not clamouring to see more wars in the Middle East, demanding a more jingoistic foreign policy in the name of women's rights. It's just not happening. What we see instead is a conservative writer who is wilfully ignoring the real story in favour of facile polemic.

Despite the negative impression I may have given thus far, the articles contained in this book are generally solid. The main problem with the author and his work isn't that he's often wrong or foolish or any such thing - it's just that he doesn't have anything interesting or original to say, and what he does have to offer tends to be partial. By all means, grab a copy of this book on the cheap, but don't expect to find anything that hasn't been said before elsewhere.

Devilman [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Devilman [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly fails., 19 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There are two friends, Akira and Ryo - they couldn't be more different. Akira is the shy but kind-hearted of the two, whilst Ryo has always been the more violent and misanthropic side of the duo. One day, Ryo reveals to Akira that his father, a scientist, has discovered the existence of demons, and unwittingly unleashed them upon the world. Akira becomes partially possessed by a demon, causing him to become the demonic superhero Devilman. Now Akira must fight evil demons to protect his loved ones, as well as being forced to deal with escalating violence and panic as humans everywhere become aware of the demons' existence and resort to violent measures to contain the problem. This isn't even the end of Akira's problems; his friend, Ryo, has also become possessed by a demonic force and the two of them appear to be on opposite sides of the struggle...

I'm a fan of the 3 Devilman OVAs ("The Birth", "The Demon Bird" and "Amon: Apocalypse of Devilman"). They were dumb as all heck, but that didn't stop them from being hugely entertaining all the same. They were the anime equivalent of heavy metal: impossible to take seriously, but equally impossible to not love.

This live action movie, on the other hand, is completely underwhelming and possesses none of the "Wow" factor that made its animated predecessors so much fun. It's also far too tame, with a "13 and older" rating. Granted, it is a little edgy in some places, but its still a million miles from the gleeful ultra-violent action that fans will be used to.

The pacing of the series is also far too rushed, though this is understandable, given how much they were trying to cram into a single film. The previous animated movies had the luxury of being able to focus on each section of the story one by one, and to provide the viewer with plenty of awesome action along the way. This movie doesn't have the time for any of that, and the result is that the narrative is an uneven mess, and the action scenes come off as too short. Ultimately, by trying to fit in too much, this film winds up mostly failing.

Overall, this movie adaption might still be worth a look if you're a fan of the series (actually, it might even be better if you aren't), but in any case it really isn't worth getting excited about. Feel free to give it a miss.

The Thirst [2006] [DVD]
The Thirst [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jeremy Sisto
Offered by Leisurezone
Price: £3.71

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Never dull, but often underwhelming., 13 July 2012
This review is from: The Thirst [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
Meet Maxx (no, that isn't a typo!) He's a recovering drug addict. So's his girlfirend, Lisa. At least, she claims to be off the stuff, but Maxx thinks that she's secretly using. As dark as these suspicions might be, the truth turns out to be much worse. Lisa is rushed to hospital after coughing up blood and collapsing; it's only then, confronting her in a hospital bed, that Maxx learns the truth: Lisa isn't back on the drugs. She's dying of cancer. Moreover, she's been keeping this a secret from him for a while now. Maxx doesn't take this revelation well, and storms out. Shortly after this incident, Lisa commits suicide. Devastated, Maxx shuns his friends and his social life, locking himself away in his apartment for days on end. His friends won't let him suffer alone though, so they intervene and drag him out to a club with them. It's there, that night, that Maxx spots someone who looks the very image of Lisa. Is he imagining it, or could she still be alive somehow..?

From this brief synopsis you might be forgiven for thinking that this film is basically "Vertigo" meets "The Hunger" with a little of "Requiem for a Dream" mixed in for flavour. That is how it starts, but then it veers way off into a whole different direction and becomes a lame "Near Dark" knock-off. Boy, does this film want to be that film! But it really, really isn't.

Looking back once again at the plot synopsis you might be forgiven for thinking that this film will be very character-driven and will have credibly fleshed-out protagonists. Initially this seems to be the case, but as the film moves on things start to become less coherent, and increasingly jarring. Characters and tone abruptly change back and forth. In the case of some directors (Tarantino is the best example of this) sudden and unexpected shifts can be fun. In the case of this film, however, things aren't nearly as entertaining. The viewer gets the impression that the director just didn't know what he was doing, or what he was trying to achieve. The movie is a complete mess.

Like I said before though, whilst the film isn't very well made, it nonetheless doesn't bore the viewer or over-stay its welcome.

If you're a die-hard horror buff then this film might be worth a watch if it's on TV one night. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother wasting money on a copy.

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