Monday, 5 August 2013


Well, I haven't written about much for the last few weeks. I was feeling a bit burnt out, but now I'm feeling a bit more enthusiastic about writing again. I eased myself back into the blog with a very enjoyable interview with Dr Bloodand thought that I would get the ball rolling with a Terry Gilliam month. One reason I'm doing this is because I think he is still such an outsider as a director, even though he has made so many memorable films. Another reason is because I want to distance myself a bit from talking about horror. I know the look of my blog is pretty misleading, and I'm thinking of giving the page a completely new look. What do you think about this idea?

Anyway, back to the subject.

"Tideland" (2005) is based on a novel of the same name by Mitch Cullin (I haven't read the book so don't know how similar it is).

Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland) has a strange family life. Her life mainly consists of giving her methadone and chocolate addicted leg rubs, and shooting up heroin for her drugged up father (Jeff Bridges), whilst living in a fantasy world with her collection of doll heads. After her mother has a methadone overdose and dies, Jeliza-Rose and her father run away to her grandmothers remote farmhouse. Once at the farmhouse, her father decides he wants a hit of heroin. After that, Jeliza-Rose is pretty much left to deal with things on her own, spiralling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of her own imagination.

"Daddy's going on vacation"

When I saw this film on dvd, I watched it with the introduction by Terry Gilliam, where the director states that most people will hate the film, and a lot of people won't know what to think about the film. He also states that the story is filmed with a childs innocence, so the best way to watch the film is to throw all notion of adulthood from your mind. Children are very resilient and tend to bounce back when confronted with hardship.

As much as I like the film, once you are an adult it is very hard to see things from a child's perspective. Especially when it deals with some of the frankly disturbing topics which are brought up in this film, and believe me, this film goes into very dark, nightmarish, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" like levels of disturbing. It is indeed a strange beast, but I have always liked challenging films.

When I picked up "Tideland", it was very much a blind purchase. I was attracted to the artwork. At the most, I was expecting an eccentric fairy tale like story. I never expected the film to be so challenging. Whilst watching, pretty much in the very first scene, Jeliza-Rose shoot up her father with heroin, and my first thought was "Okay, not what I was expecting at all". Once the mother dies and they go to the farmhouse, the film gets a bit more fantastical. But then things take a dramatic turn into darker and darker territory in the last third of the film. Body preservation, and borderline paedophilia (which was the most uncomfortable for me) are just some of the things that happen later on, so if you have issues with this kind of material, this film isn't for you.

Nope. Nothing at all wrong with this image.
I have tried to be vague about the story but warn people who could be potentially offended so that they have fair warning before viewing the film. You have been warned!

I was a massive Monty Python fan as a child. I loved the surrealism and Gilliam's animation was totally mental. Then, the first film I saw after that was "Time Bandits", which I totally loved as a child, especially the anti-Hollywood bad ending (for a child's film at least). But Terry Gilliam has never been a favourite with Hollywood anyway. Reluctant to play by Hollywood's rules usually put's him last in line to direct any big film. In fact, "Tideland" was a British-Canadian independant production. 

Although I stated I was veering away from horror for a few posts, I find David Cronenberg's claim that the film is "A Poetic Horror Film" very apt. If you look at it that way, there definitely are some very surreal horror elements in the film. I find the film very challenging and thought provoking, and I applaud Gilliam for making the film with such integrity and single-mindedness. And I'm glad he doesn't give a damn whether you like the film or not.

Thank you for reading.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

An Interview With Dr Blood

Dr Blood has been haunting the internet for the best part of 16 years in some way or another, writing no nonsense horror reviews on his website Dr Blood's Video Vault. His method of writing and opinions have earned him as much hate as most people have had hot dinners. Does he care? Not really.

Though he does have many supporters, including myself. I find his honesty quite appealing, compared to a lot of sites I have read where I question the validity of their reviews (I won't point any fingers).

Currently living in America, but hailing from the UK, I find I have some things in common since we're from the same country. Most of the other horror pages I read are from the States, and I think I look at horror from a slightly different angle than most of my American friends.

Dr Blood has very generously allowed me to give him an interview. Here's his thoughts.....

Do you remember your first foray into horror? What turned you over to the dark side? 

It was the Mysterons from Gerry Anderson's "Captain Scarlet" TV series. I remember being absolutely terrified of the voiceover at the start of that programme when I was only 3 or 4 years old. I was always too scared to watch it when it was first shown, so I never even knew what it was about until the reruns in the early 2000's. If you think about it, it's a kids' show with creepy human puppets, which features a hero who dies in every episode and his nemesis who's a reanimated corpse! It's really quite horrific! Alternatively, the first horror movie I ever watched was "Satan's Triangle" (1975), and I pissed the bed afterwards.

What turned me to the dark side was just life in general. The more interactions I had with other people, the more misanthropic I became, but I suppose you really want to know what got me into horror movies?

The simple answer is storytelling, especially when it's a ghost story. I've always been interested in the supernatural, and I have absolutely no explanation for why that is other than how I was made. Maybe it's a product of natural human curiosity about life's mysteries. Maybe there's just something very wrong with me.

When did you decide you wanted to write about horror? Was it the first subject that made sense to write about or did you ever think about doing anything else?

In 1994, I was invited to write movie reviews for a semi-famous vampire fanzine which no longer exists. Even though I only wrote short capsule reviews of two or three sentences for each movie, I did a lot of them over three years. When the magazine ended and the internet came along, I started putting my reviews online as a hobby. My first website was launched in 1997, but technology was different back then, and there wasn't the bandwidth or webspace available to do much. The Microsoft Publisher versions of "Dr Blood's Video Vault" weren't very good, but my slide down the slippery slope had begun.

I always thought it would be cool to be a horror fiction writer like James Herbert, but I didn't have the imagination, talent, or patience for it. The trouble was that I was more of a reader/consumer than a writer/producer when I was younger, and I was lazy with it. The deciding factor was that there were only about half a dozen horror sites in 1997, and I thought I had something better to offer with the reviews I already had stored on my computer. I didn't have really, but like everything, it was a learning process. As I said, I was lazy, and websites were a lot more static than they are now. I don't think the IMDb or Amazon had even started, and there certainly wasn't a British horror site where you could look things up quickly and/or buy videos, and so, eventually, I got caught up in the "e-commerce" game. Through being a Blackstar affiliate, I started to make a small fortune every month from VHS sales, but that didn't last for long. I wasted that money on my own VHS collection, paying hosting fees for my website, and my enormous telephone bill, but I suppose I was a pioneer in a way.

The blog version of my site is a completely different ball game. I went offline completely between 2003 and 2006 for personal reasons (bereavement), and when I rejoined the net, there were all these slickly branded upstarts which I could never compete with. After a couple of years of frustration, I took my old site down and relaunched with Blogger. Now I just write about whatever I want, whenever I want, although it's usually horror of some kind.

Which style of horror film is your favourite, and which would you be glad to see the back of?

Anything supernatural does it for me. Whether it be ghosts, demons, witchcraft, werewolves or vampires, that's horror to me. If there's an all encompassing "style" of horror film then it's probably Hammer--I'm in my comfort zone with Hammer vampires--but as I've got older, I like a lot of Spanish movies now.

I'm not into slashers (or the giallo that preceded them), so I'd be glad to see the back of those. I pretty much hate all the zombies and faux found footage movies too. Oh, and aliens! I despise horror movies about aliens!

You occasionally do a podcast. Is that something you'd like to do more of?

Not really. I was really getting into it about 5 years ago, but then some asshole (I know who!) reported a year's worth of my podcasts because I was swearing on them, and the hosting site's admin took them down. I logged in to make another "show", saw half my stuff gone, and just gave up. Karma's a bitch though, and that audio hosting site doesn't exist anymore. I'm glad they failed, they had too many petty rules anyway.

I don't think much of podcasts now, especially the ones which go on for hours and who think that they've got a "radio show". The truth is, they're just the modern equivalent of someone tape-recording a phone conversation most of the time. Podcasts are best left to people who can't read or write for whatever reason. Audio books are cool. I might make audio books for the blind if there was a financial reward in it for me. Hell, I'd probably make audio books for the deaf if someone paid me to do it!

You also run or help run several other pages on the web. Are there any you'd like to promote at the moment?

The last time I counted it was almost into three figures, but I'm not going to be "That Guy" and list them all. I hate people who do that!

I think "The Horror Cats" deserves a mention because everyone thought it was a genius idea at the time. Unfortunately, it never caught on. "The Horror Cats" even got nominated for a Lammy Award this year but lost out to a site about movie posters. I'm still slightly bitter about that since the category was "Best Movie Element Blog", and out of the five nominees, only "The Horror Cats" and a blog about "Exploding Helicopters" were actual "movie elements". Posters aren't movie elements unless they are physically in a movie, and the winning site was just about bog-standard advertising posters like you find on the side of a cinema. Ah, but what can you do? Only a handful of people voted anyway. So, yeah, "The Horror Cats" or my main blog are the only two sites I want to promote. I've got more blogs and message boards as well, but Facebook killed the latter off. They aren't worth mentioning except for completeness.

We have talked a lot on several sites, particularly Twitter. In all that time, I have never known your identity. Not that I'm bothered at all! Several other bloggers use this technique also. Do you think it's important to the writing to have a bit of anonymity or is there another reason?

I've been using the nom de plume of Dr Blood for so long now that, for all intents and purposes, I am Dr Blood. It's about convenience more than anything else. It's certainly not about anonymity. There are hundreds of people online and in real life who know me by my given name and my pseudonym, but it can get confusing to go by both online if you start doubling them up, e.g. two Facebooks, two Twitter accounts, etc. etc. So I just stick to Dr Blood now, it's easier to remember, and it's a good name for writing about horror, don't you think?

You are known for writing in a very no nonsense fashion. I find it very refreshing, but there are some out there who don't see eye to eye with you a lot of the time. You get some downright abuse but you aren't afraid to give it back! Does this ever send you into dismay, or does it make you stronger as a writer?

Thanks for noticing and enjoying. You can blame my style (for what it's worth) on years of trolling chat rooms when they were popular. AOL and iChat hated me! I've been around for such a long time that there's nothing that anyone can say to me which I haven't already spitefully said to someone else, in most cases before the most recent person saying it to me was even born. It doesn't bother me since I'm never going to meet any of these people in real life. If someone gets too out of line, I can just delete him or her from my life with a click. The only thing that's annoying is when cliques on message boards gang up to use the flagging systems to silence me, It just shows that they've lost the argument. I've been banned from more message boards than most people ever belong to, but the friends I've made on them beforehand have stayed with me.

I wish I could say that the arguments have made me a better writer, but nothing makes me stronger or weaker as a writer other than how many Monster energy drinks I've consumed. All my grammatical skills go out the window when I'm tired, and I don't have many grammatical skills to begin with. I'm always second-guessing myself, and I rarely use any "ten dollar" multisyllabic words because I simply don't know them, but I'm always honest and I think people like that.

This is a belief that we both share. Horror is dead. Why do you think this?

Two years ago, I wrote "12 Reasons Why Horror Has Died" as my definitive answer on the subject. For those who aren't familiar with that viral post, basically, horror is dead because of a mixture of cheap technology and bad education. In other words, horror is dead because of lazy filmmakers with entitlement issues who think it's easy to make a horror movie and rake in the profits. Unfortunately for them and their audience, what used to work on rare occasions has perpetuated a slew of unimaginative shit which put everyone off taking the genre seriously or having the desire to make anything more than mediocre. Now all we have left is clones, remakes, sequels, PG-13 horrors designed to turn the movie theatres into expensive daycare centres for cellphone-wielding tweenagers with ADHD, and the hobby horror movies which invariably look like YouTube videos. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who doesn't find horror entertaining anymore, thus, even if the horror genre isn't truly dead, it might as well be for those who used to love it when it was good.

Have there been any films that you have seen recently that give you a glimmer of hope for the future of horror?

Nope, I can barely get through any of them without wanting to kick the TV screen in.

What direction do you think would be good for horror to take and what would you like to see more more of?

I think it should just stop. We've already got over 100 years of horror movies to go through and every possible permutation of every story has already been told hundreds of times over. Horror isn't even about scares and the dictionary definition anymore, the industry just uses the term to quantify something as a "genre" when the qualities of the product are usually otherwise.

If horror was to make a comeback, it would have to ditch all the PG-13 and comedy crap, get back to basics with the drama, and then really up the ante with the realism and the gore. The bar for shocking the audience was raised so high by "A Serbian Film" that it's now impossible to go that route without actually making a real snuff movie. As that can't be done outside of Live Leak, if you want  good fictional horror again, somebody will have to make something genuinely scary and aim it directly at intelligent adults rather than stupid teenagers.

You also have a dislike for indie horror. A lot of people get angry when you bring this up. I know you don't even constitute any of these films as indie. Can you clarify what it is that you dislike about them?

There's a big difference between a professional independent studio and Joe Bloggs down the road who just got a camcorder for Christmas. Although, technically, both can be labelled as "indie filmmakers", you can bet a pound to a pinch of shit that Mr. Christmas camera's efforts will be nothing but total arse.

In the studio situation, there are trained professionals, decent equipment, budgets, and quality control. Although it's not always the case, this at least helps to deliver a reasonably worthwhile product. Studios need all these things in place because they have investors to pay back, and if their product isn't good, it's the end of them as a business. That's why it's called "show business".

Joe Bloggs, on the other hand, can slap his beer-buddies hooning it up as zombies with his mum's makeup in the back garden onto a DVD-R and sell his crap for the same price as a studio movie knowing full well that it's not worth a penny. There's something very wrong with that and on so many levels. For anyone who has ever rented one of these camcorder movies instead of a real film from a video store, it reeks of fraud for one thing.

Another thing that seems to be happening a lot is people trying to fund their films via crowd funding websites. What's your views on this?

You can dress it up in all the fancy terms you like, but they're nothing but beggars. "Crowd funding", my arse! I suppose the dirty, alcoholic guy who we think lives in a cardboard box under the bridge is "crowd funding" when he sits in the town centre with his emaciated greyhound and asks, "Got any spare change, guvnor?" These lazy bastards who won't work to earn the money for their projects are exactly the same. Unless they are called Zach Braff, they probably don't all get to change their clothes and drive home in a Mercedes after their day in town, but they are still pulling the wool over people's eyes in other ways. Seriously, people who give to these things are stupid! If you want to make a film, treat it as a business. Spend a few years learning to be a filmmaker, draw up a business plan, hit a few banks, ask for investors who will, of course, want to see a return on their money, and stop trying to play filmmaker for a day with no effort, no responsibility and free money! Ninety percent of the time, these e-beggars never even try to make a film and just take the money and run. The other ten percent make something which looks like they drank the money that they were given before hiring Joe Bloggs with his Christmas camera. They'll never see any of my money ever.

What are your views on the horror community as it stands today? What are the good parts and what do you think is wrong with it?

I think what's left of the "horror community" is fractured beyond repair. It's full of negativity, poseurs and opportunists. Mind you, I don't believe that there ever was a "horror community" outside of the small ones which temporarily form around the various conventions. Horror has always been cliquey just like everything else in the world, but the American horror convention crowds are the best examples of the worst kind of horror fan. If your face doesn't fit or you don't have the right t-shirt, or even if your self harming ink isn't of the same icon that everyone likes, they'll shun you.

Online is a slightly different story as everyone seems to know everyone else and will mostly tolerate each other, which is a good thing, but there's always drama. Most of the trouble is caused by jealousy. Either somebody is jealous of someone else's collection of little dollies, how many Blu-rays they own, if their blog gets more pageviews, or something petty like that. Some of the drama is gender based, but that's more joking around than anything else. The "women in horror" hypocrites lack any sense of humour so they turn themselves into easy trollbait. It's hilarious watching them play the victim card, especially when the whiteknighting neckbeards rise out of their parents' basement to defend them!

We all know that nobody in the horror industry earns a lot of (or any) money out of it, so in the bottom ranks of fandom and writing, it's a level playing field. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing though. There are no "stars" in horror even if there are many people who think they should be and behave as if they are, but the money issue has a lot wrong with it. The backlash against Lianne Spiderbaby's plagiarism recently highlighted the seething, hypocritical and hypercritical mass which forms the core of the horror community. It's hard to say what the long term result of any of that will be, but human nature is what's really wrong with the horror community, and that will never change.

Many thanks again to Dr Blood for his time and very clear and concise answers. If you want to hear any more of his musing, you can follow him on his Twitter profile or at his blog Dr Blood's Video Vault.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Dead By Dawn Festival Edinburgh 2013 - Day 1

Well, today was the first day of the Dead By Dawn horror film festival in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. The first and only film of the day, "The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh", wasn't on till 11.30pm, so I pretty much had the day to myself.

I thought it would basically be a good idea to write some brief posts on the blog about each day as well as posting updates on my social media pages throughout the course of the day.

Today as there wasn't much going on, me and my fellow enthusiast Craig went and enjoyed a few of the local pubs (I'm actually a bit drunk writing this), then just barely made it to the first screening.

I have said several times on my social media pages (I don't talk about a lot of horror here) that I believe that horror is pretty much dead. I have been to a few Dead By Dawn festivals in the past and seen a decent share of good films (and bad), so I'm really hoping that I find a few diamonds in the rough over the weekend. "The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh" wasn't exactly the best start.

The first film from horror magazine publisher "Rue Morgue", was a bit of a mixed bag. Starring Aaron Poole as "Leon" and featuring the voice over of Vanessa Redgrave as "Rosalind", Leon's dead mother. 

"Leon, an antiques collector, inherits a house that belonged to his mother, a member of a mysterious cult that worshipped angels - a cult that may have indirectly led to her death."

Kind of like a classic haunted house movie, except I found the house to be a bit too busy that it looked like a cliche. Way too much random crap lying about the house to try and convey how creepy the building is. Combine this with a crappy CGI monster in some parts (in which the film steals some ideas from some of the better creepypasta's out there), and an ending that completely went over my head. Fair enough, the beer probably had something to do with that, but I was honestly a bit lost. The film felt like it ended too early.

Some of the film worked though. For one, it looked great. The director must have some modicum of talent when it comes to film making. Also Vanessa Redgrave's voice over was pretty well done and made for some of the best parts of the film.

All in all I had a good day. I went out and had a few drinks and a laugh. Maybe not a fantastic film but as I said, in my eyes horror is dead. I hope there's a film here this weekend that proves me wrong to a degree!

There's a lot of films on over the course of the weekend. I probably won't have the time to write a lot on each of them as each day finishes quite late, but keep an eye on my social network pages if you want to see some more updates on the festival.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Killing of America

I have quite literally finished watching the documentary "The Killing of America", a film documenting America's history of violence from the 50's until the 80's.

Made in 1982 by director Sheldon Renan, and written by Chieko and Leonard Schrader (sister-in-law and brother of Hollywood writer and director Paul Schrader respectively), this film has a few similarities to the film "Orozco The Embalmer" that I have written about. It was produced for release in the Japanese market (where it was called "Violence U.S.A), and has never been released or ever been made available in the USA (though can be found easily enough in other markets or online).

The documentary covers many different subjects from race riots in the 50's, assassinations, snipers, serial killers, to everyday difficulties that are faced by various police departments. It is unflinching in showing you the dark side of America at that time.

Like "Orozco", this film has been labelled "mondo" and attracted the wrong kind of attention by certain genre fans (I blame this on the distributors). You find with all mondo films, they were made for exploitation purposes, and as such contain many staged scenes of cruelty, be it animal cruelty or in the case of  films like "Africa Addio", accusations of actual staged executions. All for the shock value. These "shockumentaries" hold no merit. Films like "Faces Of Death", or "Banned From Television" parade around pretending to be documentaries, but are only made to exploit and are pretty worthless money making schemes.

I never found "The Killing of America" to be made for shock. The same as I disagreed that "Orozco The Embalmer" was purposely made for the same reasons. Both documentaries show things as they are in a very matter of fact way. "The Killing of America" never seems preachy. It simply states facts and presents examples of these facts by showing them on screen in front of your eyes.

I'm not American so I've been able to watch the film in an impartial way. I know there was and is more to America than this documentary shows, but as this documentary shows there has always been an ugly side to life, and that is true of any country to this day, not just America.

You can watch the full film below. A warning that the film contains many scenes of explicit violence. If you are sensitive to this do not watch!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

HFA REview No. 7 - 28 Weeks Later

A review I did for the site Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Welcome all, to another weekly film review written from my cold dwellings in the Asylum! My name is Michael and I can also be found at my Left Field Films blog and at my Facebook page.

Last week I talked about “28 Days Later”, which was a more than competent take on the outbreak/zombie genre. Now it’s the turn of the sequel, “28 Weeks Later”, to get my unwanted attention.

“28 Weeks Later” (2007) was directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and shows the aftermath of the viral outbreak from the original.

The film begins rather well. Don (Robert Carlyle) and Alice (Catherine McCormack) are laying low with a few other survivors in a countryside cottage in the hope that the outbreak will pass them by. Everything seems to be working fine until a child survivor outside the cottage starts banging on the door, screaming for help. Unsure of what to do, they finally let the boy in. Unsurprisingly, the outside of the cottage becomes surrounded by the infected and they quickly manage to overrun the house. While Don and Alice try to escape, one of the infected manages to separate them and leaves Don with a choice….. try and save his wife and risk being infected in the process or just escape and leave his wife as bait. Astonishingly he does the latter and leaves his wife to the wolves, whilst he escapes the cottage and gets away on a motorboat!

Fast forward 28 weeks later, and London has become a militarised zone. Most of the infected have died of starvation, and the US military has managed to make a small part of the city into a “safe zone”, where they are in the early stages of repopulation and are bringing back refugees to live.
Don’s two children Tammy (Imogen Poots), and her younger brother Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton), have been brought back to London and reunite with their dad. It seems that Don is now the “caretaker” of the facility (which seems to give him access to even high security rooms. Confusing.)
Doyle (Jeremy Renner) is one of the army personnel who keeps watch on the rooftops with his sniper rifle. He see’s Tammy and Andy through his scope, escaping from the safe zone and heading into the main city. They have came up with the fantastic idea of going back to their old house for some insane reason.

While at the house, they find their mother (gasp) who is infected, but is able to just barely keep her rage at bay. She is taken to a maximum security medical wing where they conduct a few tests and find that she has a rare genetic trait (she also has different coloured pupils, a trait she shares with her son Andy) that helps her withstand the virus. The army doctor Scarlet (Rose Byrne), thinks the cure to the virus is in the mother and her son’s blood.

Before she has time to take action though, Don has gotten wind that his wife is still alive and decides to go see her. She is obviously still pissed at his betrayal at the beginning of the film, so she bites him. He becomes infected with rage and kills her then goes on to quickly spread the infection throughout the complex.

The virus is so out of control the military decide to kill all the civilians to avoid another outbreak. Scarlet knows Andy is the key to stopping everything but no one seems to listen to her, apart from the sniper Doyle, who decides to protect Andy and Scarlet until he can get them safely evacuated out of Britain and to a proper medical site. It won’t prove an easy task as they have both the infected and the military on their backs!

I really enjoyed the original film “28 Days Later”, but I’m not too sure about this film. It has two great actors in it. Robert Carlyle (who was great at the beginning of the film but then ends up being wasted), and Jeremy Renner (who was pretty much unknown then but has went on to become a big star).

The beginning of the film is fantastic and really has the same feeling as the original. It’s quite a brief opening, but you do get the feeling that these survivors have bonded and you quickly like them. The rest of the film is typical over the top crap. Switch your brain off and eat popcorn kind of nonsense, which is a shame because it had the potential to be really good.

The first film was great because it was taken to a very human level. The outbreak became more of a background story and it became a tale about a group of survivors with more to worry about than just the infected. “28 Weeks Later” is more like some Yank in a fancy office saying “Forget all that relationship and story crap! People just want to see zombies and blood!”.

And that is pretty much what you get, a lot of different situations in which zombies get killed in more imaginative ways. In another kind of film, well OK fair enough. But as a sequel to “28 Days Later”, a more serious and thought provoking film, it’s just lunacy. I think the makers of this film should be sent to the Asylum!

Also the film feels like it was made for a sequel. Money was obviously on everyone’s mind while making this film. They knew they would make a lot of money off the back of the original and they were hoping to make another film after this one! Thankfully that hasn’t happened yet.

I give this 2 needles out of 5! (The extra needle is for the opening of the film)

Thanks everyone for reading, please feel free to leave a comment below either good or bad, it’s nice to get some feedback so I can improve the reviews! I hope to see you next week if the Head Doctor let’s me out of solitary confinement long enough!

Also Happy Halloween everyone! :)


HFA Review No. 6 - 28 Days Later

This is a review I did for the site Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Hello once again my fellow Inmates, and welcome back into the bowels of the Asylum. I hope your stay isn’t too uncomfortable. This week I wasn’t allowed to leave the Asylum due to an unfortunate accident with one of the Inmates, and I have been locked in my room with plentiful supplies of Candy courtesy of the Head Doctor! I was allowed access to a TV to watch an oldie, “28 Days Later”.

“28 Days Later” (2002), was directed by Danny Boyle, and was written by Alex Garland (who has recently written the screenplay for the awesome “Dredd 3D” movie). The film stars Cillian Murphy in the lead role.

The film begins with animal rights activists breaking into a lab to rescue chimps that are being used for experiments. A lab technician warns the activist’s not to release the animals as they have been infected with a highly contagious rage virus. Typically, the activist’s don’t listen and soon regret their actions.

Fast forward 28 days later to a hospital, where a man has woken from a coma. Confused, he takes a look around to find the place deserted. When he leaves the hospital, he finds out that the entire city of London is literally a ghost town. As he explores the city, he comes across a church which he soon finds out is full of infected humans.

After escaping and coming into contact with other survivors, they go on a road trip across Britain to reach a safe outpost, the location of which is being broadcast on the car radio.

When they reach their destination, they find a military base where the officer in charge is none other than Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who). It is at this supposed “safe zone”, that they find that there are more dangerous things in the world than the infected.

Back in 2002 when this film was released, zombie film releases (especially in cinemas) were few and far between. This and another couple of good zombie releases such as “Shawn Of The Dead” and the pretty good remake of “Dawn Of The Dead” changed that. Now the zombie genre is too over saturated with straight to DVD crap, and even George A. Romero has forgotten how to make a good zombie film (come on, admit it!).

But, as tired a formula as it is, zombie films when made right can be very good. What all the great ones have in common is that the zombies become part of the background story and it begins to focus on human relationships. The story for “28 Days Later” isn’t going to win an Oscar, but to me the writer Alex Garland always keeps things grounded in reality and more focused on how the survivors interact with each other and ultimately, prove to be more dangerous to each other than the infected screaming for their blood.

Another thing this film basically started, was running zombies. Gone are the slow paced, shuffling zombies. Instead we get infected people who fire on all cylinders and are very fast, making the idea that a whole country can get overrun all the more realistic. 2004′s “Dawn Of The Dead” repeats this idea, and it seemed to work for that too.

Well suffice to say, I really like this film. It won’t win awards for originality, but the acting is excellent, it can be very brutal at parts, it is quite atmospheric (the scenes with the empty London streets are fantastic), and the story has a realism which few zombie films match (I know they’re not zombies, but infected. But for the sake of argument I’ve decided to put this in the zombie genre haha!).

I give this film 4 needles out of 5! (Finally a good review!)

If you like this sort of film, other films to recommend are “The Omega Man”, “The Last Man On Earth”, and “Day Of The Triffids” (1970′s British TV show which incidentally, Danny Boyle found inspiration from for his film).

I hope you enjoyed your stay at the Asylum, remember just keep running and don’t look back when you leave! ;)

HFA Review No. 5 - The Raven

A review I did for the site Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Hello everyone. Wednesday is now upon us once again, the one day when I’m let out of the Asylum to watch another horrifying film. This week It’s “The Raven”. Here’s hoping It’s horrifying enough to sate my blood lust for another week or else I could be turning on the Inmates soon. When I’m not here, I can be found bouncing off the walls at my other page, Left Field Films!

“The Raven” (2012), is directed by James McTeigue and stars John Cusack in the lead role as Edgar Allen Poe.

If you don’t already know, Poe’s death is till shrouded in mystery. He was found looking shabby and delirious on the streets of Baltimore. He was taken to hospital and shortly afterwards, died. His final word’s were, “Lord, help my poor soul”.

There is no reliable evidence to explain what he did in his final days. “The Raven” uses this premise to weave a murder mystery into Poe’s final days.

Poe is broke, and hasn’t written a good story in a while. He is an egotistical drunk who has a habit of pissing off most people he comes across except a young socialite, who seems to be quite taken with him (her father doesn’t exactly approve of this).

Meanwhile, a serial killer is killing people quite elaborately (and unrealistically), using key death’s from Poe’s previous works. The police point the finger at him, but it soon becomes clear It’s another person’s handywork and Poe is dragged into solving the mystery. He has no choice really, the killer wants to help Poe create his literary masterpiece by forcing him to write about his pursuit of the murderer, which is to be serialised and printed in each days newspaper. If he fails to do this, the killer will kill his socialite girlfriend (who he has kidnapped and hidden in a secret place).

So begins a game of cat and mouse with Poe always trying to guess the killer’s next move. I’ll leave the story there so I don’t spoil it.

This movie is pretty ridiculous. I’m a fan of Cusack from his earlier work, but his movie choices these past couple of years have been preposterous. The idea that Poe went from writer, to detective in his final days, is laughable. Every death scene gets more ridiculously elaborate as the film goes on.
This film is switch off your brain, popcorn movie crap. I saw this film a good while back, but trying to remember exacly what happens in it eludes me. It is that forgettable.

I’m not even sure why anyone would want to make a film like this. Probably to fill the gap in the horror market for elaborately staged deaths, since the “Saw” franchise is now over (for now).
Cusack plays his part like he’s pretending to be Nicolas Cage (wierd haircut and all), who is pretending to be Poe. Totally out of character for an actor that good.

I give this film 1 needle out of 5.

Sorry to everyone who likes this film, It’s just not my bag I’m afraid.

I hope to see you all next week. It’s now time to get some candy from the Head Doctor! ;)

HFA Review No. 4 - Sinister

A review I did for the site Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Hello everyone and welcome once again to Horror Fans Asylum Reviews. I am the orderly at the Asylum, and any new Inmates shall be sent to the ROOM to be processed by the diabolical Head Doctor!

My name is Michael and I am also the appointed movie reviewer for the site. My gibbering can also be heard at Left Field Films or at my Facebook page!

This weeks review is on “Sinister” (2012), directed by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism Of Emily Rose).

Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is a true crime writer who is trying to recapture the success of a previous book he had written called “Kentucky Blood”, a book that helped solve a crime and highlight discrepancies in the police department. The books he has written since then have been flops, and put people in the public at risk (which has made him even more unpopular with the police).
He moves into a house in a small town to write his new book based on the tragic murder of a family by hanging, and the disappearance of the daughter of that family. The local police chief makes it clear he isn’t welcome in the community and will not receive any help from the police for his new book. He also says that moving into THAT particular house is in very bad taste.

The thing is, he has moved into the home of the murdered family, and has failed to make this little detail known to his wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance), his son Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario), and his daughter Ashley (Clare Foley).

While moving boxes into the attic, he finds a lone box in the centre of the room. He opens the box to find some Super 8 film reels which look like home movies, and a projector to play them.
He watches one of the reels and finds out it is actual murder footage of the family that used to live there. The film reels date way back to the 60′s and all show the murders of various families in different locations. Obviously they are all related, though he doesn’t know how?
While looking closely at the footage, a low quality image of a face  and a symbol seems to a be in all the films.

That’s where I’ll stop with the story. I hate spoilers!

I was looking forward to watching this due to hearing a lot of good things about it. I was slightly disappointed.

The film is an interesting take on conventional filming techniques to tell the main story, and convincing found footage for the home movie style murder scenes which can be genuinely creepy.
The problem for me is the jump scares that make up a lot of the film. Most of the time I find this to be a cheap trick that only works once doesn’t live up to repeated viewing. The film didn’t need this as the actors are good enough in their somewhat generic roles, the music is very well done and is effective at cranking up the tension, and the whole movie seeps with dread. The jump scares really did cheapen the film and made it more typically Hollywood, as if you need to be instructed to be scared.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes “Sinister” is a genuinely creepy film at times, I think most people will like it. There are plenty of scenes of people walking around dark hallways and rooms and you never know what’s going to happen. And the film feels like it goes into “The Shining” territory at times.

I think that possibly I’ve become a bit weary and cynical of recent horror. Hollywood horror is too safe for my liking, there isn’t anything particularly horrifying these days. That’s why I usually go for the older stuff.

That being said, in a nutshell, the acting is good though the characters are generic, the film has good atmosphere but relies on too much jump scares, the plot is somewhat original at least, but there is something missing.

I’ll give this film 3 needles out of 5.

Thank you all for spending time in the Asylum. Remember, once you’re an Inmate, you can never leave mwahahahahaha!!!

HFA Review No. 3 - Resident Evil: Retribution

A review I did for the site Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Hello everyone and welcome to the Horror Fans Asylum Reviews website. If you have unwittingly stumbled into the Asylum it is now too late for you, the doors are already locked! I have once again been let out of the Asylum for a couple of hours to go and see another horror film which I must mull over for this weeks review. For the uninitiated, my name is Michael and if you wish to hear any more incoherent rambling from me, you can usually find me at my Left Field Films blog. Or alternatively, at my Facebook page.

“Resident Evil: Retribution” (2012) was written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Milla Jovovich continues her role as “Alice”, who wakes up to find herself in the Umbrella Corporation’s main testing facility situated under frozen water in Russia.

Well, this isn’t exactly where the film starts.

The film begins on a boat where Alice is in the middle of a gun battle involving Umbrella soldiers and helicopters. She jumps off the boat to avoid an explosion and suddenly wakes up in a bed. She seems to be living in suburbia where she has a husband (Oded Fehr, who was the character “Carlos” in earlier films) and a daughter called Becky (Aryana Engineer). Suddenly they are attacked by zombies who kill the husband, but Alice and Becky manage to make it out of the house. The street is in chaos, reminiscent of a scene at the beginning of 2004′s “Dawn of the Dead”. They are saved by a passing woman in a car (Michelle Rodriguez, who also starred in a previous film as the character “Rain”), but unfortunately while they are making their escape, the car is hit by a truck.

This is when Alice actually wakes up in the Umbrella lab. She is being detained in a holding cell where she is being interrogated by a brainwashed Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), and every time she doesn’t answer she is tortured by a loud, piercing noise. Someone hacks into Umbrella’s security and shuts it down, allowing Alice to escape from her cell. The guards and Jill seem to shut down at this point as if they are linked to the system as well.

She makes it out of a door where she suddenly finds herself in the streets of a deserted Tokyo, but there are still cars around and the lights are even still flashing on the police cars. It starts raining and people come out of nowhere. A zombie in the crowd bites a passer by and the infection quickly spreads to other people, forcing Alice to go back into the Umbrella labs.

After killing lots of zombies, she makes it to the main security room where she finds some guns and bumps into an old acquaintance and enemy Ada Wong (Bingbing Li). She tells Alice she no longer works for Umbrella but is now helping Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts).

Wesker appears on a TV monitor and asks for Alice’s help. There is apparently something else happening that is more threatening than the Umbrella Corporation. He then goes on to tell her that she is in a  giant testing facility where Umbrella have recreated key cities around the world that are only a few square miles in size. They populate these areas with clones and can test any situation possible in the case of a T-Virus outbreak.

No one has ever escaped this facility which is now run by the Red Queen (the computer program from the first film), and it will stop at nothing to hinder Alice’s escape. Also hot on her tail is Jill Valentine and a team of bad ass clones of people from other movies (Michelle Rodriguez as well as others). So Wesker sends a crack squad to assist her, who are mostly recognisable from the games. The most recognisable are Leon S. Kennedy and Barry Burton (pretty much instantly recognisable really).

What follows is plenty of over the top action, each city they pass through is just another good excuse to throw in plenty of baddies that look exactly the same as they do in the games. And Alice uncovers some secrets about herself in the process.

As usual I have kept out a lot of the plot so not to spoil too much of the film for you.

Milla Jovovich gives you a brief summary of what has went on in the films story wise so you can try and make sense of the whole thing. I really still don’t have a clue exactly what’s going on, the plot is just plain incomprehensible. I have seen every Resident Evil film but I really don’t think I can tell you what’s going on (the same goes for the games as well), all I can remember is certain action scenes from each film in the series. Though the main reason I kind of enjoy these films is because you can basically go into auto pilot and just enjoy the action, and I can assure you there’s a LOT of action!
Another niggle is that the characters look too much like they do in the games. Ada Wong spends all the film jumping around in a dress, Leon looks like he just walked out of Resident Evil 4, and Barry has just stepped out of the original game. While I applaud the attention to detail on that part, the characters look like people going to a fancy dress party or a convention. It just looked a bit silly and out of place.

I liked the premise of them being in the main testing facility. It was a good excuse to throw in as many monsters as they could from the games.

I was a bit hesitant to review this film as it is more of an action movie, but hey, it has zombies and other creatures in it though it isn’t exactly scary (for those reasons anyway). I’ve always enjoyed the films for what they are, and I just switch my brain off and go along for the ride. This was actually one of the better sequels.

I give this film 3 needles out of 5.

Thanks to everyone for reading. I hope to see you in the Asylum for the foreseeable future! Mwahahahaha!


HFA Review No. 2 - The Possession

A review I did for Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Hello, all you lost souls who have unfortunately found yourself locked in the confines of the Asylum! The powers that be have dragged me kicking and screaming from my room and appointed me the daunting task of being their resident horror film reviewer. My name is Michael, and when I’m not writing on this page you can find me at my demented film blog, Left Field Films!

This week the film I’m reviewing is “The Possession” (2012), directed by Ole Bornedal. The film was produced by none other than “Evil Dead” creators, Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert.

Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a college basketball coach, has recently divorced from his wife Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick). They have two children, the youngest being Em (Natasha Calis), and Hannah (Madison Davenport). Clyde gets the children over the weekends and takes them to his new house which is in the middle of a redevelopment site where the rest of the houses are still being built, so the area has no other residents.

When taking the children back home, he stops by a house to look at their garage sale. Em gets attracted to a peculiar box with strange carvings on it and no visible way for it to be opened. Clyde buys it for her and after failing to open it for himself, comes to the conclusion that the box wasn’t made to be opened.

At night while Em is trying to sleep, she hears a voice from the box asking for it to be opened. She opens the box with relative ease and finds inside the box various old jars and trinkets which she begins to play around with.

The next day Em complains of not feeling herself, and everyone comes to the conclusion that she has been affected by her parents divorce. Over time she starts acting even more strangely and becoming more isolated and unsociable. Clyde notices that all she seems to want to talk about is the box, always wondering if the box is OK.

There are various incidences which happen throughout the film that I don’t want to spoil for you, but eventually people notice that the box seems to be to be the root of all her psychological problems. When separated from the box, Em becomes extremely violent.

Clyde decides to take the box to a professor at the college, who tells  him that what he has is called a Jewish “Dybbuk” box, which is usually used to hold a demon or spirit.

Clyde takes the “Dybbuk” box to a Jewish community where the Rabbi’s investigate the box, identifying the demon in question as “Abizu”, that is known as the “taker of children”. A Jew named Tzadok agrees to come along with Clyde and participate in a ritual to force the demon back into the box before it eventually kills Em.

I have tried to give you as much of the story as I can without giving away any major surprises, I hate to spoil films for people who haven’s seen them yet!

I thought the film was OK I suppose. I like Jeffrey Dean Morgan in many things that he does and he was pretty decent here too. Kyra Sedgwick was also good as the distraught mother and showed a good range of emotion but Natasha Calis as “Em”, obviously had the whole film riding on her back and she played a more than satisfactory portrayal of a child possessed.

What let’s the film down is some bad CGI, and a standard, predictable Hollywood layout for a film that had a good bit of potential. The story is relatively original, though the scares are pretty much stolen from some better films, primarily “The Exorcist”. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t have some tricks up it’s sleeve, some parts did catch me off guard.

The film is apparently based on a “true” story. As far as I know the only true thing about it was a passing remark on an American news channel about a haunted box on sale from eBay.
I personally thought the film was mediocre, but I can see people out there who would like the film. As I said, there is some decent acting and some of the scares are OK, and it did pass a couple of hours easily enough. Unfortunately, when placed beside other more superior films on the subject of possession, this film falls short of the mark.

I’ll have to give this film 2 needles out of 5!

Thanks for reading the review, and please avoid the escaped inmates while leaving the building!

Michael Skilling.

HFA Review No. 1 - Silent Hill

A review for Silent Hill I did for Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Silent Hill
Review by Michael Skilling
Hello everyone and welcome to the Horror Fans Asylum Reviews website! This is my first review for this page, but you can feel free to check out my film blog Left Field Films if you enjoy it!
“Silent Hill” is a 2006 film, directed by Christophe Gans (Brotherhood Of The Wolf), and is based on the popular video of the same name.
Parents Rose (Radha Mitchell) and Christopher Da Silva (Sean Bean) are worried about their adopted daughter Sharon’s (Jodelle Ferland) continuous sleep walking and constant mentioning of the town called Silent Hill. Rose thinks that taking her daughter to Silent Hill could end her troubles once and for all. Her husband on the other hand, thinks that a good psychiatrist and some medication are the order of the day.
Rose decides to take off without consulting Christopher, but finding Silent Hill proves difficult. It seems Silent hill is a blocked off ghost town due to an underground coal fire which is still burning and producing noxious fumes. At a gas station, Rose finds that her husband has cancelled her credit card and she get’s pretty agitated. A policewoman (Laurie Holden) notices this and decides to follow Rose, and a high speed chase ensues.
As per usual with most horror film car chases, the car crashes and Rose is knocked unconscious. She wakes to find that her daughter is missing, and that she is in the empty town of Silent Hill with it’s ghostly fog and falling ash. After a while trying to find her daughter, an air raid siren ominously sounds and the town is plunged into darkness and the surroundings seem to tear away, exposing a rusty, industrial like underbelly full of wire mesh fencing and barbed wire.
As Rose tries to navigate her way through these new surroundings, she thinks that she see’s her daughter and gives chase. Suddenly she is surrounded by hideous child like creatures with sharp claws and glowing eyes. As she begins to get overpowered by the creatures, they seem to evaporate away and everything becomes grey again.
Once again, Rose resumes her search for her daughter. She makes a phone call to her husband saying that she needs his help. Afterwards, the policewoman finds her and arrests her, and tries to lead her out of town only to find that the road has vanished. They see a creature in the mist and it sprays some sort of acid at the policewoman who then shoots and kills it.
I try not to spoil movies too much, but what follows is 2 hours of bedlam. Rose travels through an abandoned school, museum, and other areas while tackling horrific giant flesh eating bugs, faceless nurses, crazed religious cults, and the infamous and mysterious “Pyramid Head”,  who all come out of the darkness once the siren sounds. All of these creatures can be found in the video game too.
Simultaneous to these events, husband Christopher goes into Silent Hill with the local police to try and find Rose. After failing to find her he tries to piece together the mystery of their disappearance and digs a bit too deep for the local authorities liking.
I watched the film shortly after it had just came out and never gave the film much thought afterwards. Watching it again, I’m really surprised at how close it comes to replicating the game. The music is spot on, as are the creature designs, and the set design is fantastic. The foggy and ash laden town of Silent Hill is staggeringly beautiful and dream like, while the dark side of the town is truly the stuff of nightmares and is quite unsettling. The CGI is a lot more successful looking than even a lot of films coming out today and it blends seamlessly with it’s surroundings.
The film is quite long, probably due to all the slow lingering shots that built up the atmosphere of the first half of the film. The second half seems slightly rushed story wise. Not that it’s a particularly bad story, just that too much get’s crammed in during the film’s last half hour when it could have been slowly placed in at better intervals throughout the film.
I would say that this is one of the more successful video game adaptations out there. It manages to retain the games look and ambiguity, while throwing in a somewhat legible storyline that is slightly rushed but acceptable. The acting is pretty good though Sean Bean’s part in the film was a bit weak. I would recommend this film, especially to fans of the game (though if that were the case, I’m sure you’ve seen it already). But there is enough dark imagery which is reminiscent of Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser”, and some nice set pieces, to keep horror fans entertained even for it’s length.
There is a sequel due out for October called “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D”. This film also stars Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean, and after re-watching “Silent Hill”, I am curious and will probably go to the cinema to watch it. No doubt you’ll see a review of the film by your’s truly.
I’ll give this film 3 needles out of 5!
Thank you for visiting Horror Fans Asylum Reviews, hopefully you’ll wish to remain an inmate for the foreseeable future!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Orozco The Embalmer

"This is a documentary about the monotonously ever repeating abnormal daily life of an old embalmer who is the busiest in the world, working in the most dangerous area in Colombia, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, which has been gnawed away and ruled by violence for many years. It's too simple and too minimal. In the area of El Cartucho there's nothing but corpses. Nothing exists there but a wreck of violence and prayer. I intend to depict the love and dignity still left in human beings after being robbed of everything."

-Tsurisaki Kiyotaka

Thus begins the story of "Orozco The Embalmer". A 2001 warts and all documentary filmed by Tsurisaki Kiyotaka, a Japanese photographer who has travelled to some of the most unstable countries in the world taking photographs of the dead. One of the countries that made the biggest impact on him was Colombia, where he met Froilan Orozco and decided to shoot his documentary.

Orozco was in the embalming business for many years, and had embalmed many thousands of bodies in his career, mostly for a fraction of the price it would cost elsewhere. He works in a village surrounded by murder and crime, and works so cheaply to help the poorer people in society. While he works he talks about his life and his surroundings, and also talks about his work methods.

Simply made with a video camera, this documentary really does pull no punches. It's an unflinching view of life and death in all it's ugliness, with no dramatisation or gimmicks, just a camera filming what is in front of it. Definitely the most gruesome thing I've talked about on the blog, and probably not to most peoples taste, but I personally found it to be quite powerful and interesting.

Considering the morbidity of the subject and the graphic images on the screen, I found it to be a very human film. The film is about Orozco, who deeply cared for every body that he worked on and treated them with respect, and in general seemed like a very nice man. After a while, after the initial shock of what you are seeing, everything but Orozco is secondary.

"Orozco The Embalmer" is quite a difficult film to talk about. It is very simply made and has a simple story to tell. For anyone reading this who haven't or wouldn't even think about watching a film like this, I probably seem crazy for watching it or even highlighting it on this blog. But it really has to be watched to understand where I come from. It is a difficult subject matter, but I think there is more depth to the film than what is seen on the surface. I suppose it really boils down to how high a constitution you have.

Unfortunately after the film was made, Froilan Orozco died due to a hernia from lifting corpses. A sad irony in the end, and one that really affected me as you feel like you really get to know him by the end of the film.

A popular film in the more serious horror community, and classed as a "mondo" film, I find these two examples slightly insulting. Typically these types of viewers are only there for the disturbing content with little regard for anything else. I found that the film is more than that. Maybe I'm looking too much into the film and that was the target audience (which may be the case after looking at the distribution art), but I hope not.

"Orozco has embalmed more than 50,000 corpses during his lifetime. But he himself wasn't even embalmed. He doesn't even have a grave."

Below is the full uncut version of the documentary. DO NOT WATCH IF YOU ARE EASILY DISTRESSED!!!!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

It's Been A While...

Hey everyone. I've been away for a couple of months now. I'm not really the most prolific writer and the films I talk about have generally been out for a while, so sometimes I take a bit of time away between blog posts, and a lot of the time I have other things happening that takes me away from doing this.

In the run up to me attending the Dead By Dawn Festival in Edinburgh at the end of the month, I've decided I need to write more posts to get back into the swing of things in the hope I can write about some of the things that happen at the festival. I am starting to make some small changes to the page. The address has changed to (something I should've done a long time ago), and I'm putting in the odd design change here and there. I'm also getting cards printed to hand out at the festival and hopefully get some more readers.

I'll keep this short and just say that I have a couple of films in mind I want to talk about. The first is a documentary called  "Orozco The Embalmer". I've warned people already on my social network pages that this is unlike anything else I've written about, and deals with a serious subject and will contain images that some people won't be comfortable with. There, I've warned you again so go complain somewhere else! I should have this post up in the next couple of days, so I'll see you then!


Tuesday, 15 January 2013


Hello everyone! I recently re-watched a show that I saw a couple of years back called "Threads". After seeing it again I've felt compelled to write about it and highlight it to people who haven't seen it.

"Threads" was a one off show commissioned for the BBC. It was first shown in late 1984, on BBC 2, then later on BBC 1 in mid 1985 to mark the 40th anniversary of the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The shows plot depicts the long term effects of a nuclear war in Britain, focusing on what would happen on a smaller scale to places outside London. When Britain becomes involved in nuclear war, the government would go underground. When all communication is lost, smaller authorities outside London would have full control of the towns or cities in which they reside until communication is re-established with the main government. The show focuses on what would happen in the city of Sheffield.

"Threads" is a filmed in a documentary style, with brief narration at the beginning, and facts about the effects on Britain. The main plot at the beginning is about two lovers, Jimmy and Ruth, and their families. They go on about their lives, ignorant to the fact that an international crisis is occurring overseas in the Middle East, involving the Soviet Union, America, and Great Britain. The show focuses more on the families in the beginning, and the global conflict plays out in the background. People seem too wrapped up in their own lives to see the bigger picture and the threat that is literally on their doorstep. That is, until shit gets real and war is imminent.

The second plot is about key members of the Sheffield City Council making preparations in a bomb shelter underneath the Town Hall for emergency operations.

A good 40 minutes is used to establish these people in each storyline. You become involved in the lives of these families which makes it that bit more powerful when the bombs hit. Some of the members of each family survive the initial blast, but over time due to radiation or injuries these numbers fall. In the bomb shelter, the makeshift local government are trying, and failing desperately, to direct services above ground. The Town Hall has collapsed above them, making it difficult to get them out. Meanwhile, toxic fumes are seeping into their air conditioning.

The show doesn't just show you what happens in the coming weeks, but what happens over the course of 13 years! Those who don't die from the initial blasts have radiation sickness and very likely a slow death to look forward to. If you're lucky enough to survive that, you have long term exposure to radiation and the harsh weather conditions to survive. You have little to no chance to grow crops due to irradiated soil, and the prospects of having a child that isn't stillborn or deformed is slim. After 13 years, the population is back to mediaeval levels. Money means nothing any more, food is the only thing worth trading. The only way to get food is to help the new government rebuild the country. Looters are pretty much shot on sight.

Out of all the films I've written about on the blog, this is by far the most bleak, pessimistic, and cold thing I've seen. It's totally unflinching in it's portrayal of suffering in the face of nuclear war. What's most jarring is that it spends the first 40 minutes almost intimately portraying the two families and making you identify with them. Also the amateurishness of the acting amplifies how harsh the second half of the film is. There is literally no respite from all the horrors it shows you.

The shows facts are mostly taken from a home defence exercise to evaluate the effects of an attack from Soviet Russia. This exercise was called "Operation Square Leg". Scientific advisors also helped overlook the production of the show.

I'm not sure how much of the show is sensationalised or exaggerated for shock value, and I'm sure the tactics used for nuclear war are a lot different now due to advances in technology, but I feel some of the themes are still quite relevant today. This show has not lost it's power to shock and I'm also quite frankly amazed that the BBC had the balls to show this. I do highly recommend it, though be warned, it's not something to watch if you're feeling depressed!

Thank you for taking the time to read. Please feel free to post your good and bad comments below, and if you have seen this, let me know your thoughts. To those that haven't seen it, I've posted the entire show below!


Sunday, 6 January 2013

Over 10,000 Views!!!!

Thanks to everyone who has ever read or commented on the blog! I just noticed today I have over 10,000 views on the blog. Maybe they're mostly from me, or people coming on to take the pictures (I'm guilty of that too haha!), but I do know at least some people are reading and helping by sharing the blog!

10,000 views may not seem a lot, fuck some people get that in a day, but I don't really expect anybody to read the shit I have to say. I just do the blog for myself and to connect to people with the same interests in film. I don't have many followers or whatever and I don't really care to be honest, but I am glad to have formed some friendships with people who have similar tastes as mine.

Once again thanks to whoever has taken 5 minutes out of their schedules to read this crap!


Bad Boy Bubby

Hi there! This is the first blog post of 2013, I hope you all had a great New Year with plenty of food and booze!

"Bad Boy Bubby" is an experimental film made in 1993, and was written and directed by Rolf de Heer (who made the equally experimental "Alexandra's Project" in 2003).

Bubby (Nicholas Hope) is a man who has been kept inside the same room for 35 years, as long as he's been alive really. His mother, an overweight, quite repulsive woman, has brainwashed Bubby into believing that the outside world is horrible. To keep Bubby from being too adventurous, she tells him the air outside is poison, and has a gas mask hanging beside the door that she puts on when she wants to leave the house. Whenever she leaves, to keep Bubby still and well behaved, the quite literally put's the fear of God into him. There is a cross hanging from the wall that his mother says is always watching him, and if he misbehaves, God will beat him brainless. At nights, his mother sleeps with him and says he's a good boy.

Bubby's only way of learning is from mimicry. He has a pet cat in a cage that he abuses on a daily basis. Bubby pretends that he is his mother and pretends that the cat is him. One day he asks his mother what it's like when you can't breath, so she put's her hand's over his nose and mouth to show him. He becomes obsessed with this concept, using cling film to cover his face. Eventually he experiments by using the cling film on the cat and killing it, learning a valuable lesson about life and death in the process.

One day when he's alone, there is a knock on the door from a man who shouts a few things through the door and that he'll be back. Bubby gets quite excited! This is the first time he has had any interaction with a human apart from his mother. She comes back home from whatever she's been doing, and Bubby mimics what the man shouted through the door, making her slightly nervous. Eventually the man does come back, and the mother lets him in. He's a scruffy man dressed like a priest, and it ends up that he's Bubby's father.

Pretty soon, his dad has pretty much came to the conclusion that his son is some sort of wierdo (due in part to the fact Bubby always mimics him), and his mother starts to neglect him (more so than usual). One day his mum and dad leave the house, and he wears his dad's priest uniform and goes around pretending to be him (whenever he does this, he always seems to remind me of Nick Cave!).

Eventually his mum and dad come in drunk and kick him out the house, which doesn't go down well at all! His mother throws the gas mask out into the close so he can breathe. When he gets back into the flat, he destroys everything in a rage, and when his mum and dad come back in again from their drunken antics, he disposes of them with cling film while they are sleeping.

After a couple of days of not being fed, he starts to get hungry and decides to venture out into the great outdoors. He quickly finds out the world is nothing like his mother described, and that the air is not poisoned. Throughout the rest of the film, Bubby gets into all sorts of different situations. He joins a rock band (which ends up very popular), gets a girlfriend, has children, but also learns some harsh life lessons along the way. He starts off his journey into the unknown like a child, mimicking everything he sees, but matures as the film goes on. At the end of the film, things seem to be going all right for him.

The film has had it's fair share of controversy throughout the years, and upon release generated a lot of anger mostly from animal rights activists and the press, due to some very convincing scenes of animal cruelty towards cats (and quite deservedly so). It was only passed uncut in the UK in 2007, and the blu ray which I own has a booklet pretty much dedicated to detailing how the director dealt with the BBFC in respect to these scenes of alleged cruelty. This booklet has the letters which de Heer wrote to the BBFC and an Italian animal welfare group, which are convincing enough to me, and apparently to everyone else that read them, that the animals were well looked after and not put under too much stress.

I do have to admit, the films first act is pitch black in tone. These scenes are where most of the controversy lies. Violence, incest, animal cruelty, and a few other taboos are dealt with in these scenes. Once Bubby gets outside, the films tone lightens up quite a bit. In my screwed up mind, I see this film as an alternative feel good movie. Even someone as messed up as Bubby, can end up happy in the end.

As I said before, this is an experimental film. Director Rolf de Heer implemented some strange techniques while making the film. Microphones used to pick up dialogue were placed behind in main actor Nicholas Hope's wig behind his ears to give the impression that you're hearing things through Bubby's ears. The room that Bubby lives in for the first 35 years of his life starts off large, but ends up getting smaller by the end of the first act, to show Bubby's psychological state. There were 31 different directors of photography used in the film. When Bubby goes into the real world, a different director of photography is used to give each new thing that he sees a sense of individuality. In my eyes, de Heer is mostly successful in his techniques.

The film also won four awards in 1994 from the Australian Film Institute. Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Editing.

I hope you have enjoyed what you've read. Please feel free to leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts on the film. If you haven't seen it before, I hope I've highlighted it as a film you should watch soon. It's worth a watch!

Thank you,