Returning To The Cinema

Hey guys, I thought I would take a break from reviews for a second, to talk about a current cinematic issue, the pandemic and returning to the cinema.  These are just my scattered thoughts and feelings on the matter.

In pre-pandemic life I was going to the cinema at least once a week, so when they closed and everything went into lockdown I was bummed out, I missed going and couldn’t wait for the day they reopened. However, during lockdown I realised that I enjoyed watching old movies that I haven’t seen before from the comfort of my own home more.

As a result of this I will not be returning to the cinema anytime soon and will instead talk about the big movies when they come out on VOD here’s why.

To me the idea of going to the cinema and having to wear a mask and not be able to sit near the people I came with doesn’t sound fun. For me the process of going to the cinema is expensive and time consuming as I use public transport, so it is a hassle to go. Moreover, to all those people who say watching a film on the big screen is the only way, I say the big screen experience was ruined years ago. People talk, go on their phones and just generally behave like arseholes a lot of the time in my last few trips to the multiplex pre-pandemic this was the case nearly every time.

So, with all that said and with shorter VOD releases for the big blockbusters I think I will be giving the cinema a miss for a while.

Ps. I didn’t even mention the fact that they will inevitably close again when the second wave comes around, and also going to the cinema and not properly socially distancing is hazardous to your health and those around you, something to bear in mind.

Luke

Dog Soldiers: Howling At The Moon

Dog Soldiers is a British horror film directed by Neil Marshall. The plot sees a group of soldiers come under attack by a pack of werewolves while doing a training exercise in a remote part of Scotland. The two groups must fight to the death as only one can walk away victories.

I watched this film again recently and have to say it hold up far better than I thought it would based on my childhood remembrance. I think the thing that works so well about it, and lasts the test of time, is the practical effects of the werewolves themselves; they are people in costumes and makeup rather than CGI. Across the course of the film we get a good look at these creatures and they are impressive, they look big and intimidating; they look like how you would imagine werewolves would look.

The cast features some great performances from familiar faces. Sean Pertwee plays Sargant Harry G. Wells, the fierce but loveable leader of the group of soldiers; Pertwee brings his usual roguish charm to the role and has a number of memorable lines and funny movements. We also see a hateable turn from Liam Cunningham as special forces solider Captain Richard Ryan; Cunningham plays the villain surprisingly well and the mystery around his character is really well done.

This film very much has a B movie sensibility to it that it uses for all the pulp fun it can. There are moments of comedy in the film as well that are surprisingly effective, they don’t take away from the horror or the tension rather they add to it in a strange, but also cool way.

Overall, this is a very strong debut for Marshall, who is by all means one of the most underrated directors in the horror genre today, well worth checking out if you can get your hands on it.

Pros.

The tone and also the dark humour.

The B movie feel.

Sean Pertwee.

Liam Cunningham.

The werewolves themselves. Practical over CGI.

Cons.

The beginning is slow, too slow.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke      

Porno: The Devil Finds Work For Idle Hands

Porno is a horror comedy film directed by Keola Racela. The plot centres around a group of people who work at a cinema in a small deeply Christian town in America. One evening when the manager of the cinema is out, the group find themselves rummaging around in recently opened ruins beneath their place of work; the ruins of an adult cinema. While they’re there they find a reel of film footage, that they decide to play, however once they do, they find it is full of the devil’s tempting smut and that playing it has also summoned a succubus (Katelyn Pierce).

To me this film was hilariously absurd, the juxtaposition of having these Bible loving teens who think that porn is the work of the devil, having to fight a succubus that is playing off their deepest sexual desires is a genius premise that is guaranteed to make you laugh. The horror of the film mainly comes from how the succubus seems to kill/feed on people, by making their testicles explode, the gore factor here is done tastefully, never once does it become too much to handle.

The nudity is quite gratuitous, whenever the succubus is one screen, she is nude, but I suppose that makes sense. If nudity of both the male and female kind makes you feel uncomfortable then be warned.

The comedy of the film mainly plays out of the absurd nature of the film and just how God fearing these teens are, which makes for a refreshing change to how teens normally are in horror films. I think for sure the balance between comedy and horror here is askew, it is for sure more of a comedy than a horror and the film really isn’t scary in any way.

There are some neat visuals on display here, mainly during the trippy film sequence, that are quite memorable and intense; during this same sequence there is also a lot of flashing lights so watch out for that to.

Overall, this is a solidly entertaining comedy horror film. Very easy to watch, good for a laugh, and some good gore.

Pros.

The premise.

The juxtaposition.

The gore.

The comedy and some of the cool visuals.

Cons.

The nudity is a bit much and could definitely be called gratuitous.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

Stan And Ollie: Going Out On Top

Stan and Ollie is a biographical comedy drama film directed by Jon S. Baird. It follows the last tour of beloved classic comedians Laurel and Hardy and details the later years of their life/ partnership. It gives us the audience a peak behind the curtain into the lives of these two funny men and it is far from singing and dancing happy. This film is as heart-breaking as it is hilarious.

I would say for sure this film is more of a drama than a comedy, there are funny moments scattered throughout, especially if you like their version of comedy, but a lot of it is sad. That is the nature of life though, especially if you’re a performer, a day will come when you have to take the curtain call one last time.

I think both actors do a great job and get you to really care about the characters. Steve Coogan sells Laurel as an almost tragic figure, still haunted by events from the past, but also a person who just wants to recapture his friendship with his best friend.  John C. Riley is also incredible as Hardy, we can see the toll carrying on performing has on him, but he continues on anyway. Both men manage to capture the friendship between the two perfectly making it believable. Riley especially is a really good, really strong dramatic actor and things like this prove that he can shine outside of the comedy genre.

There is a real earnest sense of tragedy to this film that pervades it entirely, it hits you hard and it will make you feel something. It is because of this that when you get what is essentially a bittersweet ending it makes you cry and cheer, all because the film has made you care about these men.

Overall, a touching biopic about some of the best comedians of the Golden Age, Coogan and Riley show off their talents as both comedic and dramatic actors, giving damn fine performances. This film will affect you emotionally.

Pros.

Riley and Coogan

A near perfect biopic.

Touching/sweet.

The ending.

Cons.

Quite bleak at times, it might not be what you’re expecting.

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Bliss: The Trip Of A Lifetime

Bliss is a horror mystery film directed by Joe Begos.  The plot follows struggling artist Dezzy (Dora Madison), who begins to slip into a world of horrors after sampling the drug Bliss. Dezzy has days of blackouts only awaking to find herself covered in blood, with more and more of her friends going missing, and her painting becoming more and more complete.

This is a hell of a film. It is one of the trippiest films I have ever seen, and I works so well because you’re never quite aware of what is going on, nothing is spelt out to you here, there are so many levels to this film and things to be considered. Even long after watching it and sitting down to write out my thoughts, I find new thoughts coming into my head, being like oh I wonder if this was this, or that meant that. The ambiguous ending of the film only adds to it.

I also love the slow burning intensity this film has, things don’t just go from 0 to 100 as they do in some other horror films, even the good ones, but rather the descent begins softly and then becomes more and more of a freefall as the film progresses. You feel the sense of confusion and peril Dezzy is in, as she doesn’t realise what is happening to her, it is palpable.

My one complaint would be with the amount of nudity in the film, I understand that the director was clearly going for a very primal feel, but Dezzy spends more of the film nude than dressed and it reaches a point where it feels gratuitous.  A lot of the time I don’t understand the reason for it either, the same scene could be staged without her being in the shower, maybe it was done push boundaries, maybe to be pervy; we can only speculate.

Overall, this is a great film, truly unique and beautifully designed. A good watch, however there is too much nudity which can be a bit uncomfortable.

Pros.

Stunning visuals.

Ambiguous story telling.

Great building sense of tension.

Good performances.

Cons.

Gratuitous nudity.

4.5/5

Hell House LLC 3: The Big Finale

Hell House LLC 3 is a found footage horror film also serving as the final film in the Hell House LLC series, carrying on from the events of the previous 2 films. The plot this time around sees the Abaddon Hotel being opened up to the public once again, with the malicious idea behind it being to trap innocent souls in hell, however, there is a twist.

After the ending of the last film this film had a lot to live up to, and until the final 10 minutes I would have said it didn’t. The majority of the film is pretty standard a group of people go to the Abaddon Hotel increasingly threatening spooky stuff happens until they all die. I don’t know about you, but I was expecting more after the ending of the second film, I thought we might get to see demons or at least more of the cult, but we don’t get that, and I was disappointed.

However, the final ridiculous reveals is not only awesome, but it singly handily saves the film. This reveal is that Russell Wynn (Gabriel Chytry), a mysterious millionaire who has been mentioned several times in the series, but never actually appeared is in fact an Angel. Throughout the film we the audience are led to believe that there is something off about Russell that had to do with his car accident years ago, I incorrectly assumed he was going to be a demon or maybe even the Devil himself; how wrong I was.

This film reveals that only an angel can close an Earthly portal to Hell, and that God himself brought Russell back from the dead as an Angel so he could get to the Abaddon Hotel portal and close it, there is a montage showing Russell being there for all the main events of the series and it really helps to create an epic conclusion.

I also really liked Russell’s interactions with the original films cast who show up at the end as ghost who Russell tells to move on, saying he closed the portal they opened. The whole Russell twist is just fantastic on so many levels.

Overall, this film takes the trilogy out with one Hell of a bang. Marvellous stuff.

Pros.

Russell.

The Ending.

The recontextualization of the whole series.

Strong characters/ memorable moments.

Cons.

The editing is a little jarring.

The film before the big reveal is a bit disappointing.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

My Favourite Films: You’re Next

In this new series of pieces, I want to tell you about some of my favourite films and why I love them, hopefully with the aim of convincing you to give them a try if you haven’t already; today I am going to talk about You’re Next.

You’re Next is a black comedy horror film directed by Adam Wingard. The plot centres around a family gathering that goes to hell when a group of masked, armed assailants, try to break in and kill everyone. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way that keep you guessing until the very last minute.

The easiest way I could define this film for you would be to say it is a smart slasher film. By that I mean it is self-aware as well as written in a smart way, You’re Next is keenly aware of how slasher films go, and it plays off that. By having Erin (Sharni Vinson), not be the typical final girl it makes the film far more interesting. When I say she isn’t the typical final girl what I mean is that she doesn’t spend the first 45 minutes of the film scared out of her mind, right from the off she takes charge of the situation and leads the fight back.

Therein lies another thing I like about this film. Many times, I have been watching slasher films and I have asked myself why do the victims never fight back? Or why do they wait until the last 20 minutes of the film to do something? This film bucks the trend of the killer hunting down the victims and killing them for the first 2 acts of the film, only to have the final girl turn the table on them in the 3rd act and it presents the struggle between Erin and the masked men as far more even; far more war like.  As the masked men kill the people around her, she kills them.

What’s more, there is some fantastic gore in this film that is wince inducing. There is a larger scale version of the nail scene from A Quiet Place, years before it I might add, as well as a grisly scene with a blender which I will leave up to your imagination. The level of violence feels just right for the tone of the film and its black comedy sensibilities, never feeling unnecessary, or unpleasant.

Overall, this is a fantastic film, that when under watched and underappreciated when it came out, it is probably my favourite slasher film ever and I think that it deserves to be seen as it does something fresh and smart with the genre.

Written by Luke

Are Award Shows Outdated?

In this special bonus blog post, I would like to talk about awards shows. Awards shows come in all shape and forms from the BAFTA’s to the Oscars, but the question I want to ask today is, do we really need them anymore?

Many people have issues with awards shows these days, some don’t like them because they feel like a smug circle jerk, celebrities congratulating themselves for being so great. With elements that take away from this and, poke fun at Hollywood being demonized; look at Ricky Gervais recently a lot of his jokes came at Hollywood’s expense and, a lot of the traditional institutions took him to task over it. Celebrities and the people who run the award shows don’t like people pointing out the absurd nature of the industry.

The other major complaint people have about these awards shows is their lack of diversity. Over the last few decades cinema has become more and more of a diverse place, some of the best films of the last ten years have been made by non-white directors. However, the awards shows don’t reflect this, the major awards shows still have white men, as most of their nominees. Look at the backlash against the Bafta’s nominees recently, with the Bafta’s calling on the industry to change is it really the industry? The lack of inclusivity is starting to become a real problem for a lot of people.

With issues like these, the question I pose to you all is, do we need these award shows anymore? These awards shows show no sign of changing any time soon; they might introduce the new category here and there but, is that enough? We as individuals can make up our own minds about what is and isn’t a good film and, we don’t need a group of deeply out of touch people, to tell us what to like.

There is no clear solution to the problem, though as what can be suggested? No more awards shows? Then the industry loses one of it’s best live events that millions of people still watch and enjoy. I think the only solution is to overturn the system and have a new body of voters, who can’t be bought and who actually watch all the submissions.

*An aside, faith in the academy who vote for the outcome of the Oscar’s should be low, as they don’t watch all the submissions which means a lot of films lose out, especially foreign films.
Not only that but, representatives of different studios throw parties for members of the academy and shower them with gifts in a blatant attempt to buy their votes, so how can we trust their verdicts to be honest and just?

Overall, people need to voice the change they want to see in Awards Shows, as nothing will be done otherwise, at least not quickly. Are they outdated yes but, people still watch them.

Bad Santa 2: Santa Is Back In Town

‘Bad Santa 2′ is a Christmas black comedy, crime film. The plot this time around follows on from that of the first film, after an undetermined amount of time, Willie, (Billy Bob Thornton), is back at the end of his rope, quite literally, and the thing that saves him is getting a call from his old friend Marcus, (Tony Cox), offering him a chance to make 2 million dollars. The job this time around sees the pair stealing from a charity, what’s more seasonally wholesome than that, which is run by Diane, (Christina Hendricks) and her Husband Regent, (Ryan Hansen). The pair are also joined on this job by Willie’s mother Sunny, (Kathy Bates), who has a strained, to say the least relationship with her son.

This film isn’t as good as the first film, don’t get me wrong I still like it, but like many other needless belated sequels this film doesn’t ever really justify its existence, Moreover, though the new characters provide for some good laughs, Hendricks’ especially, they water the film down to a degree; spreading it too thin.

The carrying over relationships from the first film are expanded upon here, Willie and Marcus are still warring brothers this time around both being there for one another and, also prepared to double-cross the other at every turn. Marcus gets his own subplot this time around about him trying to sleep with security guard Gina, (Jenny Zigrino), which makes for interesting viewing and, a few good humorous scenes. Also, Thurman, (Brett Kelly), returns he is now grown up and, seemingly unable to live his own life; literally moving halfway across the country to find Willie and, then proceeding to live at a homeless shelter because Willie won’t put him up. The ending of this film gives us a nice happy resolution for the pair as Willie basically adopts him and, finally sees Thurman as family; which is sweet.

In terms of the newer characters, not a whole lot is done with them, Kathy Bates is mostly wasted, she gives a little bit of colour to Willie’s earlier life and, then in a twist everyone saw coming ends up being the real villain of the film. Hendricks, on the other hand, is charming and, funny as a wife in a loveless marriage who starts sleeping with Willie on the side, if they did a third film which it looks like they won’t, but if they did it would be nice to see her return.

Overall this film is still the same charming, black-hearted, Christmas comedy film that the first one was, but maybe to a lesser degree. The newer characters seem short-changed but, the returning characters get satisfying resolutions.

Pros.
Hendricks.
Tieing Up The Character Arcs From The First Film.
Still Hilarious.
Still Has A Strong Heart.

Cons.
The Newer Characters Are Mostly Short Changed.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

Ghostbusters: Who You Gonna Call?

Ghostbusters is a fantasy comedy film by Ivan Reitman, starring Bill Murry, Dan Aykroyd and, Harold Ramis as a group of scientists who not only believe in ghosts but, want to catch them. They form the Ghostbusters.

The 1984 Ghostbusters film will always be very important to me; it was a film that I had on a lot when I was a kid and, it and its sequel were among the films that got me into the medium in the first place. There is such a loveable B movie charm to this film that makes it hard not to become enamoured with it. It is very like its contemporary Gremlins in that regard.

The original Ghostbusters has to be regarded as an icon of cinema as a whole as well as for the horror genre and, what would become the nostalgic 80’s genre. A lot of this praise comes as a result of the fact that this is a film that is firing on all cylinders, the acting, the effects, the tight script; all of it leads to a hell of a film.

The leading trio are all fantastic and, all have a very specific role to play, Bill Murray, of course, steals the show a bit from Aykroyd and, Ramis but, this is to be expected as Murray is front and centre the whole film. Murray is on top form here being effortlessly charming and, witty, his rivalry with Walter Peck, (William Atherton) is wonderful as Peck is a villain you love to hate and, the film always has Murray’s Venkman get the last laugh, usually with an excellent quip, which is hilarious to watch. Sigourney Weaver is also superb in this film as Dana Barrett doing a lot with very little and, making for a very memorable character; her whole performance after becoming possessed by Zuul is exactly what you would want out of a cheesy 80’s horror-comedy.

The ghosts themselves posses a duality being both fun and, loveable, here’s looking at you Slimmer, but also menacing. The Library Ghost and Zuul and, his heralds are all quite scary and, do give off a very palpable sense of dread when they are around. This tonal tightrope walk between silly and, scary is something this film does very well and, is something you don’t see much anymore as most films either go one way or, the other; even with modern horror comedies a lot of the time.

Overall this is a timeless classic good for all times of the year and, a must-watch. The sequel ‘Ghostbuster 2’ is also very good but, I never thought this film needed to become a franchise and, I think the apathy towards recent sequels proves that; I’m hoping Afterlife proves me wrong.

5/5

Reviewed by Luke