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Mr. SCM Bell "Black Cat Theory" (UK)

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Alien: Isolation - Nostromo Edition (PS4)
Alien: Isolation - Nostromo Edition (PS4)

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally the tie in that the franchise deserves. 4.8/5, 6 Nov. 2014
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Opinion is divided on Alien Isolation. You ever love it’s inch-by-inch stealth, occasionally frustrating unscripted events and lack of combat, or you hate it. Certainly, if you have been raised solely on 1080p exploding uber-monsters, plasma turbo-cannons and a body count higher than a city-wide zombie apocalypse, you may well fall in the second category.

But that’s not me and so I can only speak from what I have seen of the game.

The developer knows their audience, that is for sure. Even the grainy VHS tape appearance of the 20th Century Fox logo when you insert the disc is pitched at a male gamer who was too young to watch Ridley Scott’s original Alien in the cinema, but who fell in love with it at home on video. This is no Alien Resurrection with its throwaway CGI and ugly evolutions of the original monster. Forget the lame AVP franchise with their atmosphere thinner than LV426. Last year’s Colonial Marines? Nope, never heard of it. There isn’t even a smart gun on show here. Instead, Alien Isolation is a faithful attempt to tie a loving companion story to the original film and amazingly it is done with completely authentic and painstakingly recreated music, sound effects and interiors.

So, forget your expectations of what a modern action game should be and join Amanda Ripley as the search for her long missing mother leads her to space station Svenstopol, where on arrival it is immediately obvious that, in this run-down backwater, something has gone badly wrong. Aboard the station the atmosphere is truly frightening. Chokingly tense, it’s as visually creepy as Doom III with sound design to rival the high points of the Silent Hill series. Forget that you know exactly what the Alien looks like, forget that you’ve seen it do it’s stuff a million times. It won’t make any difference. When it finally does appear, the effect will be as great as it was all those years ago, watching the film. It is elegant, beautiful and utterly lethal.

So what does it play like? While this game is in the first person, make no mistake, this ain’t Call of Duty. This is old skool survival horror, complete with a clunky movement system that all but forbids you to out-gun or even out-run trouble. Progress is gradual, movement halting. The first lesson the game will teach you is to slow down, be prepared, never rush in. The puzzles and tasks reflect this. You are required to use observation and lateral thinking rather than a volatile trigger finger. As the story unfolds you will be reminded of those halcyon days of Resident Evil I and II when searching for keycards and missing components from broken-down machines to further your progress was the glue that bound the set-pieces together. None of the puzzles are prohibitively hard. But trying to execute them while you are being actively hunted, is.

But the granddaddy of survival horror is not the only touchstone here. There is a thoroughly modern sheen on this game, not just in terms of graphical detail and environmental effects but also features. Indeed to game owes a great deal to the original Dead Space, not just in the crafting system but also in overall atmosphere. The post Resident Evil 4 staple of strategically placed button bashing cues are present too and used to strong effect – always furthering the action, never impeding the story. It’s a masterpiece of storytelling and like the genre-defining The Last of Us, it allows the other non-player characters to tell much of the story. Hence the action blends seamlessly with the cut scenes.

While these may sound like the doe-eyed ramblings of a super-fan, Alien Isolation isn’t perfect. The very nature of the alien’s unscripted arrivals can be frustratingly difficult, particularly early on when you have no defence against it and don’t really know what you can get away with. If it sees you, you die. If you sprint, you die. If you make a noise, you die. In short, you will die a lot! Several hours into the narrative, I began to try and use the technique of making a noise on purpose and then relocating quickly to draw the Alien away from an area I needed to access. Even this, is very hit and miss as the creature can negotiate the air ducts so quickly that if it is hunting you, it can be on you in a matter of seconds. No doubt, this makes for a pulse pounding ride, but it can be frustrating too and were the makers not so generous with save points, I believe the game would be basically unplayable. The load times are also a little lengthy in places, although to be fair, the payoff is that the game looks incredibly beautiful.

I could go on but, really it’s better that you experience the game for yourself. But make no mistake, this is high budget, high concept fan fiction pitched at the older gamer. Their mission statement was obviously to deliver not just an exciting experience but also to add to the Alien universe rather than detracting from it as, in my opinion, everything from Alien Resurrection onwards has done. And in this, they have succeeded utterly.

The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star
The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star
by Nikki Sixx
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Punching Vanity in the face does not reflect well upon one as man., 20 Aug. 2013
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Shout me down if you want M.C. fans, but back in the day when I was a teenager, The Crue were a bunch of posing muppets and if you listened to them, by definition, you weren't metal.

Time passes and as these guys grow old and short on money, they're quick to churn out novels, reunion tours and greatest hits albums to cash in on their dubious legacy.

Now, admittedly Nikki Sixx is no fool and The Crue's biography, The Dirt, bares testimony to that fact, daubed as it is in his trademark lurid, benefit of hindsight stories. Not only that but it serves to market The Crue's latest greatest hits package to an audience who will have already shelled out their cash by the time they remember that this guy only ever wrote three or four decent songs.

Being the adept businessman Nikki clearly is and never one to walk away from a concept that works, The Heroin Diaries picks up between the lines of The Dirt, focussing on a particularly lurid year in his life. But where The Dirt was wall-to-wall anecdotes and all the better for it, THD focusses quite a lot on Nikki's inner thoughts and feelings... or lack thereof.

Why was my childhood screwed up? Why do I feel so angry? Why is fame and fortune so empty?

Yes, that's correct. With the exception of bemoaning being huge and having girls and money hanging off him 24-7, Nikki feels exactly the same as the majority of us do in our early twenties: angry, confused, self-destructive. But unlike you and me, he has a huge glittering podium from which to lecture us all about it.

And a bigger pharmeceutical budget.

Not that the book isn't entertaining. It is. When he's hitting you with tales of Motley's excess, it is impossible not to be sucked into it. Also encounters eluded to in The Dirt are covered in more detail here. Most notable is his relationship with Vanity, one of the most smokin' hot human beings ever to set foot in the 80's and almost certainly the most interesting thing that ever happened to a pasty-faced perpetual teenager like him.

Sadly, as with all things Nikki Sixx, it ends up leaving a slightly foul aftertaste as he punches her in the face and drags her down a flight of stairs after previously having dumped her.

Nikki doesn't seem to like picking on other blokes. But if a hysterical woman is having a meltdown nearby, he is quite literally fearless.

The book also opens with the hideously patronising sentiment that Nikki hopes his book will serve to prevent others from going down the same route with drugs as he did. Garbage. This book made me want to take drugs and at the end of the day, that's all its about: I did this and survived, I'm awesome, you aren't.

When reading, please remember this is an entertainment product. While I have no doubt this guy got about a bit, there is the distinct whiff of exaggeration here and there.

That's THD in a nutshell. Fun while it lasts, but won't change your life or teach you anything new. Oh yeah, and skip past the pages containing his lyrics. They suck.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 19, 2013 10:06 AM BST

Sucker Punch (Incl. Extended Cut) [Blu-ray + DVD] [2011] [Region Free]
Sucker Punch (Incl. Extended Cut) [Blu-ray + DVD] [2011] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Emily Browning
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £19.98

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, magical, inspiring., 10 Aug. 2012
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Despite it's critical mauling and audience apathy, the world created by Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch is something truly special, uniquely beautiful and, though flawed, it stands as a good example of the ongoing trend of big name directors gambling on films that offer something different to the same old story, same old set pieces and same old sequel friendly endings.

I'm biased. I admit, this film could easily have been made just for me: I am a white male in my 30's who loves video games, fantastical fiction and beautiful women kicking ass in skimpy costumes.

That said, I like artistic depth and bold choices in my cinema and despite Sucker Punch's lurid façade and apparent lack of characterisation, it is a film of considerable profundity which belies a high level of attention to detail and artistry.

Dealing as it does with a brooding 1950's nightmare of loss and domestic dysfunction, giving way to a young woman's incarceration in a mental asylum; in turn snapping to a fevered vision of a glamorous yet resolutely abusive brothel which holds young, vulnerable women hostage in order to `entertain' various n'er do wells. From there we are dragged deeper into a series of microcosmic worlds populated by monsters, robots and steam-powered zombies, in which our protagonists re-materialise as an elite team of ludicrously sexy and infinitely cool warrior women. I think it's fair to say that I can't think of another film that does visually beautiful, surreal, action-packed and amazingly choreographed to such a mad degree. But yet, never does it feel gratuitous, pondering, as it does, matters of guilt, regret, atonement and self sacrifice throughout.

Much has been made of the films lack of character development and reliance on music video style to tell it's story and, to be honest this is true. However, rather than a weakness, this is simply how Snyder has chosen to tell the tale. On first viewing, it is perhaps less than effective. The story is not thrilling. It is something different: like a visual poem, it whispers to you, drawing you into the luxurious veils of chocolate brown, copper blue and red wine that seduce the eye. I must confess that initially, it was only the outward glamour that held my attention and only upon reaching the end, contemplating the sparse dialogue and the portent glowing symbols which spring from the screen, did I think about it all and realise just what an unusual and magical film it was. The next day I watched it again. The day after, I watched the extended edition. Now, despite it's flaws it is one of my favourite films.

Regarding said extended edition. Yes, it is required viewing if the original version cast as much of a spell over you as it did me, but as a standalone work, it is inferior to the theatrical version.

A couple of the scenes blatantly should have made the final cut: Baby Doll's conversation with the High Roller at the end is absolutely beautiful to watch and listen to, gives huge credit to both actors and backs up the Doctor's apparent compassion towards the asylum inmates. Equally, there are a few bits and bobs in the phenomenal `trenches' sequence that should have stayed.

On the other hand a couple of bits, ultimately should have remained on the cutting room floor. We didn't need to see Sweet Pea stealing the clothes from the washing line at the end. It only served to undermine the dignity and beauty of this wonderful character, so tenderly played by Abbie Cornish. Equally, the stylised gunplay in the `dragon' sequence was a bit of a bridge to far. While elsewhere, the weapon handling is quite convincing and does credit to the film's military advisors; here things get slightly ridiculous. Also Sweet Pea's swordplay in this scene looks a little weaker than Baby Doll's.

Lastly, things I am on the fence about: The extra musical number in the brothel. Yes, it's great to watch if you are already familiar with the film. But perhaps it lightened the mood just a shade too much, showing a playful side to Blue and giving too much of an identity to the other girls in the brothel, who, for the remainder of the film, remain as indistinct beauties in the background.

Zack Snyder apparently commented somewhere that the film was not completely finished. Indeed you can imagine the big money behind the project getting jittery about how abstract it was, tapping their watches and ripping the incomplete product from his hands. Indeed, this lack of completeness does resonate somewhat in the film. The ending in particular is fairly cerebral and downbeat. It is possible that on first viewing you might not even pick up that Sweet Pea is the narrator and that both Baby Doll and the Wise Man are `Angels'.

It is a flawed piece, no doubt. But as mainstream Hollywood films go, it is among the most interesting, thought provoking and downright stunning films of it's generation.

You have the weapons... now use them!

Mustaine: A Life in Metal
Mustaine: A Life in Metal
by Dave Mustaine
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Look! It's that dude who invented Metallica!, 28 Mar. 2012
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As you might expect there is a lot to recommend Mustaine's biography and a lot to compel you to keep turning the pages. If you like metal and you are even vaguely aware of the man, you'll smash this in a couple of days.

It is genuinely entertaining to read about his transformation from angry, resentful, agnostic teenager to angry, resentful Christian multi-millionaire rock star; although not always for the reasons that he himself probably hoped.

There is no doubt, this book is a tool for self-vindication only. The kind of ego-soothing self medication that only someone as rich and blatantly frustrated as the author can administer. Behind the entertaining anecdotes of his brief interaction with Mssrs. Hetfield and Ulrich and chaotic early years of Megadeth through their bloated, meandering mid-phase and beyond the content seems desperate to serve only two purposes:

Firstly, it is repeatedly rammed down your throat how hard Mustaine is. It's almost as if the book itself is meant to serve as some kind of veiled threat to the reader as to what will happen if you mess with him. Whatever; methinks you protest to much Sir and behind all the little jabs about how a young Hetfield chickened out and left him to kick ass, Dave Ellefson needing him to step in on his behalf and on and on, the biggest picture that comes to mind is how sad, weak and deflated he seemed in his appearance in Some Kind of Monster.

On that very subject: purpose number two of this book is to finally set the record straight on how Mustaine had a role of seminal importance in the formation and early days of Metallica. Well, as a long term fan of both bands, by his own hand, he has finally dispelled this myth. His tenure was indeed short, his influence over the rapidly developing Hetfield limited and his presence appeared to be little more than a rather nasty personnel problem in the fledgling days of Metallica Inc. You don't hear Metallica's first bass player crying do you?

In all this the saddest part for Mustaine is not the level of his delusion, it is the fact that here is a man who is an outstanding musician, riff-writer, guitarist and even leader, at the helm of one of the biggest metal bands of all time, with a fistful of killer albums to his credit but yet he doesn't care about that. All he cares about is getting you to admit that he was important in the history of Metallica. I think that ultimately, his achievements will simply be a background noise to his legacy as `that dude who kept trying to claim he invented Metallica'.

Now, I know I'm coming off as a Dave-Hater here. Well, I really am not. The guy has some big balls and it is nice to read him lambast the corruption and corporate controlled nature of the modern music biz. At one point he is honest enough to say the industry doesn't simply dissuade new acts from trying to break in; it physically tried to keep them out.

But ultimately, for all the good stuff in here, 80% of the entertainment value is reading about a guy with a massive chip on his shoulder embarrass himself. Lets face it, that's what got the book on the New York Times bestseller list.

Sorry mate, Metallica would have happened regardless. At least you did have a decent band of your own. Although, the name temporarily escapes me...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 23, 2012 5:12 PM BST

The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just... So Perfect!, 22 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: The Hunger Games (Paperback)
Sadly, I only came across The Hunger Games because I read a feature on the IMDB advertising the up-coming movie adaption.

Almost certainly, this will suck - but that is another story entirely. What is apparent is the THG is no where near as popular in the UK as in the US.

This is a shame as what you have here is a simply written, brilliantly paced story that speaks volumes in a none-to subtle voice about the debasement of the modern capitalist world, the creeping rot of reality TV and the callousness and corruption of western political powers.

Sounds depressing, you say?

Actually it isn't at all.

Aside from the social and political subtext what you have here is a breathless combat and survival thriller set in a dystopian near-future setting. Think First Blood, mixed with Battle Royale, written from a woman's perspective.

Despite the well trodden ground the story deals with, THG is something truly beautiful and unique, propelled forwards on a totally unexpected tide of sensitivity, burning teenage loins, unrequited love and tastefully hinted eroticism.

Oh yeah, and a clutch of poisonings, beatings, stabbings and at least one arrow through the throat!

Implausibly the author manages to sell the protagonist's plight to us with what feels like a well researched knowledge of survival and a strong message about how difficult it is to exist, let alone to thrive, for any more than a couple of days in the wilderness when carrying little more than the clothes on your back.

But the icing on the cake; the true glue that holds the story together and the mark of it's author is the central character, Katniss Everdeen - part innocent, part unwitting temptress, part lethal weapon, her skill with a bow and arrow matched only by her lack of skill at reading the opposite sex. She is flanked by a brace of likeable, believable characters ranging from true innocents caught up in the maelstrom, to females as wily and deadly as she is, to noble dignified young men and finally, of course, to the kind of raging nut-jobs that no book like this would be complete without.

I read this book in about four sittings and if I didn't have a job to go to it probably would have been one.

Read this and prepare to fall in love.

You'll see what I mean!

The Devil's Men [DVD]
The Devil's Men [DVD]
Dvd ~ Donald Pleasence
Offered by Splintered Visions
Price: £8.97

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice Atmosphere, Nice Cast, Poor Everything Else., 22 Dec. 2009
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This review is from: The Devil's Men [DVD] (DVD)
The Devil's Men represents what turned out to be one of the last gasps of the occult obsessed horror scene of the 70's shortly before Halloween came along, tore up the rule book, set fire to it and kicked it screaming through a plate glass window.

To cut a long story short a couple of enterprising Greek film makers fancy their chances of nailing together a new film franchise featuring the unlikely double act of womanising, wise talking American investigator Milo and stuffy but kind hearted priest Father Roche. An exiled nobleman is mixed up in some satanic jiggery pokery - offering up tourists as sacrifices to an extremely unfrightening effigy of the minotaur and only Milo and Roche can stop him!

Or something like that.

The reality is however horribly dull, frustrating and loaded with wasted opportunities. I strongly suspect that the fledgling film makers blew most of the budget on getting Donald Plesance, Peter Cushing and Brian Eno (for the soundtrack) onboard and hoped that would be enough to sway audiences in the English speaking world.

It isn't. The Devil's Men looks beautiful with assured, camera-work and fantastic locations. Eno's score, though basically just a one chord drone that he probably cranked out in an afternoon is suitably atmospheric and the movie is laden with cracking 70's crumpet including that Austrailian sort from Fawlty Towers and uber hottie Jane Lyle of Island of Death infamy. But there the positives end. Cushing sleepwalks through it, looking like he has a corn cob up his bum and Pleasance fusses about trying his best, but never quite getting things right. To make matters worse the character of Milo is appallingly flimsy and unlikeable.

Okay, so it doesn't look that good. But from there the film simply refuses to go anywhere. There is an insinuation that the local villagers are possessed, but to be fair to them, they never really do anything very much other than shuffle about looking glassy eyed. Perhaps they were just tired? Just when you are sure things will come to some kind of a head Milo and Roche interrupt the Baron's satanic party with laughable ease, sending him on to meet his maker. The statue of the minotaur falls silent and hey presto! Satan is defeated.

Yeah right.

The inane optimism that The Devil's Men might be the first of a series of films is hammered home by Father Roche's final line mere seconds before the ridiculously rushed ending.

"Who knows Milo? Perhaps one day I may call upon you again to help defeat the Antichrist."

I'm sure you'll be putting that call in any day now Donald.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 29, 2012 5:45 PM BST

The Babysitter`s Seduction
The Babysitter`s Seduction

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the sleaziest of the nasties., 22 Dec. 2009
This review is from: The Babysitter`s Seduction (DVD)
Of all the infamous nasties out there Island of Death, for me seemed to be one of the more luridly attractive ones. I.e. contained the most depravity! Having finally tracked down a reasonably priced and uncut version of the film I finally got to see what all the fuss is about.

It is certain from the outset that explicit violence and gore are not what got this film banned. The nails through the hands and force-fed paint scenes are certainly no worse than what you see in glossy 15-rated Hollywood horrors now. I think what offended with this one is not so much the actions of the film's murderers, Celia and Christopher but the lifestyles of their victims.

Oh yes, gay, lesbian and straight, the promiscuous and the drug users are all in the cross-hair here. The film maker even takes time out to execute a black detective. Just for having the audacity to try and bring good old Chris and Celia to justice.

While the violence is muted the sleaze certainly isn't. Things bash along in a fashion that stops a little shy (a little too shy if you ask me) of softcore porn. But don't worry, what it lacks in explicitness it more than makes up for in frequency. You will be pleased to know that the absolutely gorgeous heroine (or should that be villainess) played exceptionally woodenly by Jane Ryall only ever keeps herself covered up for thirty seconds at a time.

In truth Island of Death is worth it for Ryall alone. She genuinely looks good enough to eat and that whole ditsy, can't act thing that she does only serves to heighten her appeal! For me anyway. Rather disturbingly, the comely Ms Ryall appeared briefly in one other crap Greek film and then was never heard from again. I mourn.

The story of Island of Death is the usual poor fodder, although certainly superior to many. The Bonnie and Clyde thing is never fully realised however as it is implied that Christopher is the real psycho and Celia is just meekly caught up in his wake - occasionally looking wretched and criticising his actions. But yet she carries out probably the most cold killing in the whole film. What the hell is that all about? Either make her a proper victim or a proper villain. It also irked me a bit the speed at which she turns on Christopher at the end. Mind you, this is trash cinema after all. Island of Death plays out almost like a crap sex comedy and that isn't a bad thing. No one likes a bad film that takes itself too seriously.

This is definitely one for fans of trash films and 'so bad its good stuff' (me). The acting is universally poor with a couple of the characters apparently just reading their lines conversationally.

Aside from that however, it actually looks quite professionally made. The shots are reasonably framed and the camera-work not too static. The editing has dated it a bit but that just lends it that inimitable sleazy 70's feel.

So thats about it, nasty in tone, but not in action perhaps? A little kinky, certainly: Just check out the promiscuous older woman being urinated on. Does it deserve its infamy? Probably not, but its still a good bit better than most of the dross on the nasty's list.

Oh yeah, bring back Jane Ryall.

Resident Evil: Degeneration [Blu-ray] [2009] [Region Free]
Resident Evil: Degeneration [Blu-ray] [2009] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Makoto Kamiya
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £4.90

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One for the fans., 22 Dec. 2009
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Perhaps you might read this thinking review: 'I quite fancy Degeneration. After all, I liked the Milla Jovavich films.' You might be in for a disappointment.

Much as I hate to acknowledge the Resident Evil critics (i.e. those who have never placed themselves in the direct path of one of the games for long enough for it to get it's hooks into you), there is some truth in the fact that Degeneration doesn't stand on it's own as a film particularly well. It skirts over too much, expects that the viewer already has a certain level of knowledge and brazenly tosses out cryptic references that only the fans will get.

Make no mistake, though this contains all the ingredients of a film: a story, a selection of set-pieces, a smattering of characters, this is

basically an informative insert in the lineage of the Resident Evil universe. It is a wedge between parts 4 and 5 that few who have not played them will appreciate.

The plot, such as it is, pertains to attempts by individuals to profiteer and exploit the dubious legacy of the, now destroyed Umbrella Corporation, punctuated by yet another unsuccessful attempt to use the G-Virus. Sadly, much of this is barely explained or fleshed out, serving only to introduce Umbrella's successor, Tricell ahead of their involvement in the events of Resident Evil 5. Lamentably the same lack of focus affects the characters and is particularly apparent in the case of the tragic anti-hero Curtis Miller as well as Albert Wesker-alike Frederic Downing.

While I cannot deny that I would struggle to see anything at all that a non RE fan would like about this film, to me, despite what I have just said, it still has it's charm. The CG animation is absolutely fantastic. As is the voice acting, despite one or two clunky RE moments (Jill Sandwich anyone?) and while the score is restrained in comparison to the games it contains the same portent piano motifs at suitable junctures. But first and foremost the events leading up to this film make it worth the bother in the first place. After all this where we get to see what Leon is up to after the events of RE4. This is where we get to see the reunion of Claire and Leon after the events of RE2 and revel once again in that gloriously wooden sexual tension. Perhaps most importantly of all, this is where the stage for RE5 is set.

And that really is where all it's beauty and all it's merit lies.

One for the fans? You bet.

Doomsday [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Doomsday [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Rhona Mitra
Price: £6.00

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gratifying all the way., 22 Dec. 2009
Do you remember the glory days of action films? Predator, Robocop, Mad Max and all the hundreds off knock offs that at the time felt lousy but compared to todays cash-bloated, egocentric, star-vehicle, CGI riddled Hollywood crud-fests were spot on? Course you do.

Let me tell you: I damn well love Neil Marshall.

I love him.

Marshall is a guy who has enough talent to make a variety of different ideas work and yet at the same time never gets given enough money for his films to become too grandiose and self indulgent. After sitting enthralled through three of his films I can honesty say that I don't want this guy to ever be at the helm of a super-budget movie. I think more money would ruin it.

While his previous outings Dog Soldiers and the phenomenal The Descent harked back to old-school, dingy, downbeat British horror, Doomsday evolves by taking that grime, that darkness and fusing it to an apocalyptic view of Great Britain and specifically Scotland.

As mentioned elsewhere this film fuses elements of Mad Max, 28 Days Later, Escape from New York and Aliens (I refer to the initial infiltration scenes in the hospital) to come up with something truly entertaining and special.

Given Hollywood's current penchant for remakes, self reference and the achingly pathetic concept of the 'reboot' it's easy to see how this could have been an appallingly bad movie trading on past glories and desperately treading water. Instead it represents a return to the glorious, high octane, ridiculous action movies of yesteryear where ornately designed sets, cool vehicles and amusing deaths were every bit as important as political correctness and gratifying the ego of the leading actors.

As I mentioned before Doomsday is given strength by the constraints of it's budget. While showing a derelict, overgrown Glasgow in broad daylight would have dictated expensive and cheapening CGI effects Marshall instead uses dark, atmospheric and spectacularly well designed sets to tell the story. From the tribal Thunderdome-esquire Glaswegian interiors to a medieval castle and an underground storage facility borrowed from Romero's Day of the Dead things look universally incredible with more detail than the eye can take on one watch alone.

Similar efforts have been made in the costume department with Glasgow's strangely attractive looking Gothic cyberpunk tribes people hijacking the limelight during most of their screen time. Duly noted too was a gleefully insane and always scene stealing turn by Craig Conway as Sol.

Despite a few bits of clunky B-movie grade acting from the supporting cast there is little not to be liked about the film and as it rocketed towards a highway climax that came across as a loving homage to Mad Max 2 - The Road Warrior I found myself wishing that I could flip the disk back to the beginning and start over.

It really is that good.

Death Ship [1980] [DVD]
Death Ship [1980] [DVD]
Dvd ~ George Kennedy
Price: £10.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Diamond in the Dung., 22 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Death Ship [1980] [DVD] (DVD)
Like at least one other reviewer here the lurid cover art of Death Ship drew me in as young, impressionable boy standing in the local dodgy video store in the early eighties shortly before many of the horror and exploitation films therein were whipped from our shelves by the fledgling BBFC and consigned to that cinematic void that lurks somewhere between obscurity and cult-fame.

Of course the over-zealous authorities did us a favour really. Ridding the shelves of films that in many cases were utter dross, propelled forward by enticing cover art. However there were some diamonds among the dung, Death Ship being a particularly shiny one, and it truly is a mystery how such a great film remained almost completely unavailable and unknown until it's recent repackaging and rerelease.

Despite a few B-movie clangers like the ridiculous day/night differential in the opening scenes Death Ship isn't true horror trash. For a start, it's got a famous-ish cast including George Kennedy, Richard Crenna and not to mention that bloke who went on to play Donnie in Frasier! But the area in which this film really sets itself apart is the set. The Death Ship in reality, I understand, was a decommissioned Canadian freighter of some description (albeit from the sixties rather than the forties) and most of the movie was filmed either on the decks or in the vessel's actual interior. It certainly looks the part with the ship's black, rust streaked exterior and grim, outdated interior brilliantly telling the tale of a Nazi interrogation ship given a life of it's own by the ghosts of it's past.

As the eerie first half of the film gives way to the helter skelter second half there are some truly sinister moments with the old woman's disfigurement at the hands of some innocent looking candies ranking as particularly shocking as was Nick Mancuso's wretched demise in the ship's flooded hold.

Rather less impactful was the supposedly infamous shower scene in which the gorgeous Victoria Burgoyne takes a bloody shower. The reality is however, overlong and sightly tedious.

I guess I could complain a little bit about the lack of answers provided. For example what was with all the frozen sailors and airmen? Were they poor unfortunates the ship had picked up for interrogation during the Second World War? But perhaps I should be grateful that the Death Ship just sailed off into cinematic obscurity rather than ruin it's poise by spelling every single thing out to the audience.

In short, this is a cracking horror yarn that deserves to take it's rightful place in the annals of history.

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