Sleepaway Camp: Sickening

Sleepaway Camp is a slasher horror film directed by Robert Hiltzik. The plot sees a traumatised young girl be sent off to summer camp, while she is there things go from bad to worse and people start dying left and right, but who is the killer?

I will start this review off by saying I don’t like this film, it felt uncomfortable to me in a lot of ways. I think some of the scenes, that I will get to, felt very predatory and the whole film as a whole felt very icky. I would strongly recommend no one watches this film as it doesn’t deserve it, it deserves to be forgotten.

Let’s get to the root of my issues with the film. Firstly very early in the film it is revealed that one of the staff at the camp is sexually attracted to kids, this is then treated by the other characters as no big deal. He then tries to assault one of the kids, again no one seems to say anything. Yes, the character is the first to die, but I ask you what was the need to include him in the first place? Did it add anything to the story? I don’t think so.

My second issue comes from a scene later on in which a camper is showering, it tries to parody Psycho, my issue with this scene is that the girls’ age is questionable, she look quite young and the way it is shot feels predatory. It is almost as thought the film is trying to sexualise this character, despite her supposedly being young. There are a lot of other tasteless scenes scattered through that raise alarms for me, but no doubt some people will call me puritanical, these scenes made my skin crawl and like I keep saying are very unnecessary.

The twist at the end, I didn’t see coming, but it also didn’t blow me away.

I think this film likes to think that it can compete with other 80s slashers, maybe it even thinks it is better than them, but to me this film shows everything that is wrong with the time period and the genre. Give me Friday The 13th or A Nightmare On Elm Street any day of the week over this predatory trash.

Pros.

I didn’t see the twist coming.

Cons.

It is way too sexual about young kids.

The needless peado character.

The shower scenes that feel icky.

It is slow for an hour and 20 minutes.

It shows the worst of the genre.

0/5

Reviewed by Luke     

Pixels: Gamers Save The World

Pixels is a science fiction comedy film directed by Chris Columbus. The plot sees three men who were pro gamers when they were kids go up against aliens from outer space, that have taken the form of classic 80s videogames. These men must rise to the occasion and save the world one boss battle at a time; this one is for all the gamers out there.

Adam Sandler gets a bad rap, yes, a lot of his films are lazy and has humour only a child could enjoy, but Chris Columbus was directing this so how could it be bad? I am pleased to tell you that it isn’t bad, despite what you might have read about it, it is in fact quite entertaining and enjoyable.

I think this film is very similar to Ready Player One in a lot of ways, both try and play on nostalgia from the past, specifically 80’s nostalgia and both have CGI representations of characters that were popular during that period. However, where I feel Pixels has the leg up on Spielberg’s film is that it actually has a heart. You can tell the people who made this film grew up playing these games, the love is there as well as the know-how.

The comedy I found surprisingly funny, not just one or two laughs, but consistent laughter throughout. I think though some people might think it is cringe I thought it was a laugh riot, Michelle Monaghan especially shined. Monaghan had all the best jokes and some of the best moments too; her on screen chemistry with Sandler was also quite strong, I think they should work together again for sure.

Overall, the reason why I loved this film so much was the joy, the kind od joy that comes from really liking something. As I have said it is clear to see that the people making this film loved these games, the attention to detail is fantastic. Every aspect of this film is perfect right down to the soundtrack which has a lot of great hits. A must watch, even if it does star Adam Sandler.

Pros.

Sandler is hilarious.

The film cares deeply.

Michelle Monaghan is fantastic.

It is fun to watch.

If you’re a gamer you will like it even more.

Cons.

None

5/5

Reviewed by Luke

The Howling: Wellness Retreat Ends In Werewolf Attack

The Howling is a werewolf themed horror film directed by Joe Dante. The plot sees local news anchor Karen White (Dee Wallace), go to a mountain retreat after a near fatale run in with a serial killer. However, while there Karen does not find herself or her inner power, rather a colony of werewolves that have been living amongst us for years.

I am a huge Joe Dante fan, as many of you may know I have a huge love for Gremlins 1 and 2 as well as for some of his other projects like Burying The Ex, so I will try and remain impartial while I am writing this review.

Truth be told, I did not love this film as much as I was expecting to. In fact I found it to be boring at times and a little hard to follow. I think from a narrative perspective a lot of the ideas don’t come together, they are fine on their own, but don’t make sense when viewed as a whole. I found the beginning particularly bad for this, but it does improve as the film goes on.

I think the best thing about this film is the creature design. The werewolf costumes are of course practical, and I am a big believer in practical effects over CGI, they look very convincing and even hold up to our modern standard years later. I also thought the transformation scenes were well done, not American Werewolf In London good, but still terrific.

I also loved the ending, I thought it was bold and striking; shame about the sequel baiting at the end though.

Overall, a little boring and rough around the edges, but if you like werewolf film there is still something to enjoy!

Pros.

The creature design.

The ending.

Dante’s direction.

Cons.

It is boring and hard to follow at times.

The sequel baity ending

3/5

Reviewed by Luke

The Witches: Be Careful What You Eat

The Witches is a family comedy film directed by Nicolas Roeg. The plot follows a young recently orphaned boy Luke (Jasen Fisher), and his grandmother (Mai Zetterling), as they become wrapped up in a Witches plot to turn all the children in the UK into rats. The film is based on the Roald Dahl children’s book of the same name.

This film terrified me as a kid, so did the book for that matter. The way this film sets up witches with the mythology it creates is incredibly well done, the witches of this film are both terrifying and also hilarious. You can tell the creators of the Muppets were involved with this as the creature design is both distinctive and memorable. You will not see anything else like when the grand high witch (Anjelica Huston) takes off her face for the first time.

I think as far as family films go this film has some genuinely scary moments, maybe it is the crazy late 80’s early 90’s drug fuelled feel of it all, but the first time a kid gets turned into a rat will scare any child and maybe even some adults, for sure.

I think there is a lot to enjoy about this film, it is good fun, and quite a great whimsical adventure. If you enjoy fantasy, then you will definitely enjoy this. It is also a really great adaptation of Roald Dahl’s seminal book, so if like me that book has a special place in your heart then you will really enjoy this film.

I feel like as far as Roald Dahl based films go this is incredibly underrated and is often overlook in favour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but this is actually a better film. Check it out!

Pros.

Great monster design.

Genuinely scary.

The best Roald Dahl film.

The madness of it all.

A feel-good adventure.

Cons.

None

5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Wet Hot American Summer: A Wet Blanket?

Wet Hot American Summer is a comedy film directed by David Wain. The plot follows the events at Camp Firewood over the course of a summer. The film serves to spoof a lot of the camp-based sex comedies, it does this by knowingly being very over the top and pointing out the absurdity of it all; as you such you have things like talking cans.

I am not going to lie, I watched the Netflix made follow ups to this film before I saw the film itself, I loved them and so I went into this with very high expectations. Sadly, this is one of the few times that a Netflix revival/continuation is actually better than the film itself.

I get what this film was trying to do, I just didn’t find it funny. Maybe that’s because my sense of humour doesn’t line up with the humour of the early 2000’s and instead finds more kinship with the humour of the more recent Netflix series. I think the only character that made me laugh was the talking can and that is because H. John Benjamin can do no wrong.

I think as far as spoofs go this is well done, it parodies the sillier and more ridiculous nature of some of it’s contemporaries in a smart way that feels spot on. A lot of the characters and hijinks in this film will remind you of things from other camp-based sex comedies that you have seen, like American Pie Band Camp, by design of course.

Overall, I think this is a well-done spoof film, but an unfunny comedy film, so it is a mixed bag and it depends what you’re watching it for. I truly believe, heresy as it might be, that the Netflix follow-up series are far better and crucially funnier.

Pros.

A well-done spoof.

Interesting characters.

  1. John Benjamin.

Cons.

It isn’t funny.

It fizzles out towards the end.

3/5

Reviewed by Luke

Adventures In Babysitting: One Hell Of A Bad Night

Adventures In Babysitting is a comedy adventure film directed Chris Columbus. The plot sees babysitter Chris (Elisabeth Shue), looking after three kids, however her night soon takes a turn for the extreme when she takes said kids to the city to pick up her friend. From there a series of things go wrong and things go from bad to worse; leading to a comedic misadventure.

Some much of this film rests on the performance given by Shue, if she was bad it would turn out like the god-awful Disney Channel remake, however her performance is in my opinion one of the best of the decade. Shue manages to do kind and compassionate well, you can tell her character cares about the kids, she also manages to be a lot of fun and give you a sense that she is enjoying every single second of being on screen. An example of this would be the blues singing scene, which is a masterpiece in and off itself, plus Shue is actually quite a good singer.

Fun is the word I would use to describe this film, a lot of films are funny or charming, but only a few are fun. This film almost seems like an expertly crafted series of skits that are each great and then stitched together to form one hell of a film. This can be seen with the often-hilarious pop culture themed homages, by favourite was The Warriors esque scene on the train.

Another thing I will give this film credit for is that the child actors are actually tolerable in this film. Normally when a film has child actors, hell even teens, they are annoying, they don’t perform well, they’re distracting, and you can understand why Hollywood gets 30-year olds to pretend to be teens in films. However, Brad (Keith Coogan), Daryl (Antony Rapp) and especially Sara (Maia Brewton), are not only good, but crucially loveable, you warm to them over the course of the film and by the end, you realise that you have enjoyed the time you have spent with these characters.

My one critique of the film would be that some of the humour feels dated and a little out of touch with our modern sensibilities, however on the sliding scale of 80’s offensiveness this film is pretty mild, so that shouldn’t put you off!

Overall, an 80’s classic for a good reason, effortlessly charming and watchable and a guaranteed good time for all!

Pros.

It is fun.

The homages and references.

Elisabeth Shue.

The child stars are actually tolerable.

Cons.

Some of the humour has aged poorly.

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke