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Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 11:16 pm
Invitation to Hell
Seeing as horror legend Wes Craven died a couple of days ago, I thought I'd watch one of the two fairly insignificant horror films he directed which I never actually got around to watching (the other being Night Visions).
Invitation To Hell was Craven's first work after A Nightmare on Elm Street (although it was shown on television months before Elm Street got its theatrical release), a TV movie long forgotten among the list of far more memorable titles in his filmography, and unsurprisingly, not really one of his best.
Robert Urich (PI show, Vega$, and other PI show, Spenser: For Hire) doesn't play a PI this time. Instead, he plays a scientist moving house with his family so he can start a new job working on a special-and-absolutely-not-in-any-way-at-all-plot-convenient heat resistant space suit at the brilliantly eighties named, Micro-Digitech Corp.
At first glance, everyone who works at Micro-Digitech seem to be really nice folks. Even the ones who cause car accidents. However, they all also happen to be members of the equally brilliantly named Steaming Springs, a country club which you just know from the rather bizarre opening three minutes, holds a very dark secret. And sexy ladies with big hair.
With the exception of an old lady secretary, all of Urich's work colleagues constantly try to persuade him and his family to join up, but Urich won't have it. No fun and relaxation for him. No, sir.
His family, on the other hand, quite obviously fancy it, and unwittingly sign up for a life membership in Hell.
At Steaming Springs, the gates to eternal damnation are big shiny doors with ominous looking flames etched handily onto them (presumably so you don't accidentally get them mixed up with the entrance to the sauna or games room). Also, for reasons best known to the 1980s, the doors can only be opened with a keypad (the first numbers of which - of course - are 666), or by a not-very-creepy initiation ceremony which apparently needs to be accompanied by the world's entire supply of dry ice to ensure everybody knows they're entering a spooky hell room.
The always reliable Kevin McCarthy (InnerSpace, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers) plays Urich's boss, but the general everyday office evilness comes in the form of the big-haired sexpot, Susan Lucci (some '80s stuff), who can laser you to death with just a flick of her finger. Another familiar '80s face, Joe Regalbuto (Raw Deal) plays Urich's best friend-and-recently-converted-evil-person in the exact the same way he played Norman Tuttle on Street Hawk. But with more annoying laughter.
The final act involves Urich entering Hell via the doors with the sinister keypad, jumping off a papier mache rock-face set against a matte painting background, somehow ending up in the gaudy pink and blue fight scene in To the Devil A Daughter, before finally rescuing his family using that old tried and tested method - the power of love. Ahhhh.
If you're the right age, there's a lot of retro fun to be had with An Invitation to Hell, even on a small scale. Little things like recognising the beeping noises coming from Urich's son's hand-held computer as, not as the game's title given in the film, but actually from one I used to own myself called Galaxy Invader 1000. The way "terrestrial" is misspelt as "terrestial", not once but twice, (but who would notice that? It was the '80s). The way everyone used to use computers on TV - hunched forward intently over the keyboard asking a highly implausible and long-winded question, before casually leaning back and frowning in a chair while doing some serious chin/bottom lip stroking. The aforementioned plot convenience is another classic cliche. Oh look, we've invented a brand new heat resistant spacesuit for use on missions to Venus. If only there was a way we could use that in the story. What's that you say? The gateway to Hell is a couple of rooms away? And it's very, very hot in there? Well, that's handy isn't it.
The music score is delightfully retro (and I'm not actually taking the piss this time). You know these recent films like Drive, Maniac, even Kung Fury, and how they love using '80s sounding synth-pop? Well, Invitation to Hell uses the real thing. And it's ace.
Posted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 3:46 pm
Inside Out - utterly delightful. My favourite Pixar movie since Toy Story 3.
Posted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:25 pm
Got around to watching the final Hobbit film. Weren't at all bad. I knew with shorter film lengths I would enjoy the series alot more. I was going to start watching Gotham tonight and got a bit distracted by that being on Netflix.
Posted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 11:04 pm
For the last few years, I've been finding US comedy movies a real chore. Big hits like The Hangover series and Horrible Bosses have left me cold, anything with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn's name above the title usually means no laughs, and anything starring Adam Sandler and/or Kevin James leave me running, screaming for the hills. Pixels, I'm looking at you.
Of the ones I have found funny, it seems most people do not share my opinion. For a start, I like Seth McFarlane (no, I'm not apologising), so Ted, Ted 2, and A Million Ways to Die in the West all went down well with me. Anchorman is one of my all-time favourite comedies so, even though the sequel was clearly inferior and at least half an hour too long, I still managed to chuckle all the way through it. American Reunion wasn't completely awful, The Watch was amusing, and I liked Jackass: Bad Grandpa, and more recently, Trainwreck.
So, with my questionable taste in mind, you'd probably do best to steer well clear of Vacation, because I laughed like a drain at well over half of it. Cruder and much, much swearier than the Chevy Chase original, this reboot/sequel (for me anyway) hit the mark more than it missed. A healthy dose of self-awareness helps things, but really, if you don't like jokes about paedophiles, rapists, shit, vomit, and rim-jobs then just don't bother. This is not for you. The schmaltz is ladled on a little heavily towards the end, but by that point you'll either forgive it or have already grabbed the remote control half an hour before and started watching that football match you said you weren't bothered with.
It does have its problems though, and the strangest and most damning one is Chevy Chase himself. Perfectly cast in the original and the less successful sequels, he stops the new one in its tracks almost the second he appears on screen. Being old, white haired and grossly overweight is only to be expected, but along with his waistline, he also appears to have lost all of his charm, acting ability, and comedy timing. He's so arse-clenchingly bad that I couldn't help wonder if he was blackmailed into doing this by someone with a very large grudge against him. Dan Harmon maybe?
Also, like Chase, it's very lumpy around the middle, and things lose momentum pretty fast after Chris (Thor) Hemsworth swaggers into the bedroom with a six pack and a 10 inch cock. It recovers well enough towards the end, but you know exactly how it's going to finish by then so just go along for the ride.
Posted: Mon Sep 21, 2015 9:08 pm
Team America on Netflix. My evening is complete.
Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:20 am
Went to see Legend and Tom Hardy was so commanding in it that it's only looking at the cast on imdb now that I realise now I failed to notice that I knew half the cast from other things.
I recognised David Thewlis and the guy who plays Arthur in Peaky Blinders straight away but only because their voices are so distinctive. And Chazz Palimiteri but then again he's the only American in it and I watched A Bronx Tale only last week. It took me half the film to cop on that the top copper was Christopher Eccleston (in fairness he is looking old) and had to wait for the credits to roll to remember John Sessions' name.
Only finding out now that Reggie's wife was played by the girl from A Series Of Unfortunate Events (brilliant performance from her by the way), her brother was that fella from Armagh who was in Merlin and The Fall, Ronnie's boyfriend was the lad from The Kingsmen, Gibbs from the Pirates Of The Caribbean series was Harold Wilson and worst of all somehow completely failed to spot Paul Bettany as the the rival gang boss.
Posted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 10:58 pm
Even fucking worse.
Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 8:58 am
So, Straight Outta Compton. Sooooo many bad points to make about this.
-Historical inaccuracies. Case in point the scene were Dre is mucking about on a synthesizer trying to come up with the lick to "Nuthin' But A G Thang" even though like most of what Dre did that bit was sampled from an old Soul record. And then Snoop Dogg just happens to walk down the stairs and start spitting the finished lyrics perfectly first time on the fly? Such a contrived scene.
-Case in point two, the scene where Dre plays 2Pac the track for "California Love" in the studio, even though the song wasn't recorded til over 6 months after the events of the film end. I like having Pac appear in general, especially as it leaves the possibility open for a sequel based on him, his death and relationship with Death Row, but anachronistically shoehorning in the worst song from his only bad album really annoyed me.
-Despite these small appearances of Snoop and 2Pac and a sizeable one from The D.O.C there is no Nate Dogg and Warren G who were probably more pivotal to Dre's G Funk era than 2Pac's small involvement was. And when Ice Cube is recording Amerikkka's Most Wanted they mention it is in NYC rather than LA and show Chuck D and Terminator X in the studio but don't mention them by name. It definitely feels like a snub given how sonically Straight Outta Compton was so indebted to Public Enemy.
-On the point of the sound of that album, DJ Yella is reduced to being a spectator in this story, even admitting to Dre that his own contributions to the album paled by comparison. We also see Dre pushing Eazy E towards doing "that hardcore reality shit" even though I've always suspected that it was Yella who was responsible for that aspect of the sound and Dre was always more into the Funk and Soul influenced stuff. Maybe I'm wrong and Yella really was a tiny factor in things (which would explain why he never produced much else of note and went into porn directing after), but to me it smacks of Dre trying to take credit for everything.
-While Yella's role is maybe rightly diminished and Arabian Prince who was there for a cup of coffee pretty much is glossed over completely MC Ren is undoubtedly unfairly sidelined. Such an underrated rapper and to my mind behind Ice Cube was the second greatest talent in the group. The fact that Cube wrote half the lyrics for both Eazy E and NWA is acknowledged butthe fact MC Ren did the other half isn't.
-The heroising of Dr. Dre. Not only does whitewashing his violence towards women make him the least balanced and intriguing character of the film but the scene where his mother slaps him instead is a little bit sick and offensive given the truth. In an attempt to make himself likable he becomes the dullest character in the film and even more unlikable in real life.
On the other hand, aside from the questionable portrayal of Dre all the other characters are portrayed perfectly. Paul Giamatti definitely deserves a supporting actor Oscar nomination for Gerry Heller and the guy who plays Suge Knight isn't far behind. Ice Cube Jr. really gets his daddy spot on too (particularly as he gets more angry and politicized) and the final scenes of Eazy E are played brilliantly. The money issue is handled brilliantly, the soundtrack is great (not just the songs, the whole thing- see it somewhere with loud speakers!) and the cinematography in the live tour scenes are really cool too.
A very flawed film but still super enjoyable. 8/10 from me.
Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 8:15 pm
Absolutely amazing. As with most of the movies I've been enjoying recently, limited sets and focusing mainly on the characters.
Guy designs an AI, and brings in another dude to turing test.
Brings up a lot of sci-fi-y questions, and a wonderful ending that gets you thinking a little bit.
Fantastic sound design as well.
Just generally great.
Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2015 7:21 pm
I thought it was a fantastic film too.
It got a lot of crap from the masses though because it was marketed more as an action/thriller than a thinky sci-fi.
Posted: Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:53 pm
Yeah. One of the best films of the year.
At some point, I'm going to put watch it again in a double bill with this:https://youtu.be/zgrKLjoWcbs
Posted: Tue Sep 29, 2015 11:20 pm
TREMORS 5 - BLOODLINES
The Graboids are back, but this time, and with no discernible explanation other than "evolution", they're now located in South Africa. And rest assured, wherever low budget sequels about subterranean worms go, so does Michael Gross as survivalist Burt Gummer.
Trying his hand at a Bear Grylls type of TV show with the aid of new cameraman Jamie Kennedy (Randy from Scream), Burt is enlisted by a rich South African to track down a particularly nasty Assblaster (a genetic twist first seen in Tremors 3).
Of course, things don't go to plan and before you can say double-cross, love interest and obvious family revelation, another evolutionary quirk is added to the Graboids box of tricks and it's up to Burt, Randy, some locals, and an old helicopter pilot to save the day.
Spoiler: They save the day.
It's all good fun, although the middle section drags a little, but overall, Bloodlines is one of the better additions to the film which didn't really need sequels in the first place.
Posted: Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:25 pm
Posted: Fri Oct 02, 2015 9:26 pm
The Loved Ones
Well that was all a bit fucky wasn't it
Posted: Sat Oct 03, 2015 12:10 pm
I wrote this for another, non-metal, site so just ignore the bit about not liking Metal.
After his mother goes on a meth binge and tries to suck off a shopping mall Santa Claus, teenage Heavy Metal fan, Brodie, is sent to the suburbs to live with his God-bothering Aunt and Uncle. Befriending Zakk, a fellow metalhead who once stabbed a classmate with a set square because he stepped on his King Diamond tape, they decide to form a band - Deathgasm.
Breaking into a derelict house, the pair find the former singer of one of their favourite bands hiding there and he gives them a record to look after. When they try to play it, they discover the vinyl contained inside is actually a Rick Astley album and they throw it across the room in disgust. Some scrappy bits of paper with music notation fall out of the sleeve at the same time and before you can say "they're going to summon an ancient demon by playing the music aren't they", they summon an ancient demon by playing the music. Soon the town is overrun with demon zombies and the film becomes a complete and utter gorefest.
Seeing as one of the main characters wears a Bad Taste t-shirt for half the film, it comes as no surprise whatsoever to find out that Jason Lei Howden, the director of this New Zealand comedy/horror/metal/splatter film, is a huge fan of Peter Jackson. So much so that he even worked under him in the visual effects department for two of the recent Hobbit films. Howden is not only a big fan of Jackson's early work but also a dyed in the wool Heavy Metal fan. Put those together and Deathgasm is the result.
Don't worry if you don't like/can't stand Heavy Metal. It really doesn't matter. The film works because it's just as happy knowingly poking fun at the genre itself while also making more serious, but pointedly funny, comments about tolerance, hypocrisy and bullying. The scene where Brodie, in full Black Metal spikes, corpse-paint, studs, and bullet belts sits on a park bench eating pink ice cream while trying to get the hot girl to like him will be funny for everyone, as will all the zombie/demon deaths. However, the more discerning metal fan will also find more than enough to please them too. References to bands like Autopsy, Devourment and Cannibal Corpse; unreadable band logos, limited editions, and the ridiculous amount of different sub-genres will make most metal fans chuckle without ever alienating the casual non-metal viewer.
Forgetting the mutilation, eviscerations and face-grinding, one of the film's many highlights is a virtually unspoken scene where the two main characters meet for the first time. As they both flick through the music in the Metal section of the local record shop, one casually pulls an album out to look at - just enough for the person next to him to see. The other, pretending not to notice, silently nods his approval and the process goes back the other way. Just a great little scene which many music fans will be able to relate to.
Also, the moment where the lovely blonde love interest listens to Metal for the first time and finds herself transported to another world, standing atop a mighty mountain, holding a battleaxe with two lesbian warrior maidens at her feet, is a moment of pure beauty.
And if that doesn't convince you, then perhaps the scene where the two boys attack demons by using a black 12" double ended dildo and a string of anal beads as weapons before killing one of the creatures by ramming two Rampant Rabbit vibrators into its head will.