I’ve reported many times on here of my love and admiration for alternative rock pioneers ‘Garbage‘. Over the last couple of years I’ve even had the privilege of seeing them live … topped off with the utterly surreal and amazing experience of actually meeting the band for a VIP meet and greet in 2016. Well next year I’ll be making it a hat-trick and seeing them live once again for their upcoming show at Brixton Academy. The show, which I’m presuming will form part of a tour, will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their second, Grammy nominated album ‘Version 2.0‘ – a personal favourite of mine. So to say I’m excited is an understatement.
In the nineties I remember really loving this movie and watched it on a rental double bill with Stephen King adaptation The Dark Half (I really need to see that again also). So when I heard this was finally getting not just a Blu-ray release but was also digitally re-mastered and fully restored with a plethora of extras – I couldn’t resist. Telling a sort-of Romeo & Juliet story of a young teenage kid who’s trashy girlfriend is killed following a motorcycle accident. Said kid then decides to bring girlfriend back to life using his father’s shady military experiments on the recently deceased via a mysterious chemical known as Trioxin.
The poster art of this movie was instantly iconic, what with sexy star Melinda Clarke posing as some sort of sadomasochistic zombie hottie. It may not be all that clever and is mostly low budget fair but for some impressive practical effects work that still look good to this day (bar occasional dodgy puppetry zombie action). Clark’s performance, although nothing all that layered is head and shoulders above the rest of the cast, really bringing home the pain and suffering of her undead cravings whilst resorting to inflicting pain on herself to stop from eating her boyfriend (!). It’s a fun concept and an entertaining ride, with director Brian Yuzna (Bride of Re-Animator, Society) pulling out all the tricks to deliver lots of gory fun.
I suppose with many gorier, nastier movies since, this one’s impact has been considerably diluted and is much more pop-corn schlock than ‘full on horror’. Also, the idea of Clark’s Julie fighting her desires to eat brains isn’t as explored as it should have been, with her gradual transformation particularly rushed. Yet this has it where it counts; great practical effects, lots of blood & gore and plenty of energy, which might not make it the classic I remember it as – but still left me grinning like the twenty something former me.
The Blu-ray from Lionsgate as part of their Vestron Video Collector’s Series is impressive stuff. The soundtrack may only be in the original 2.0 stereo but has clear dialogue and plenty of atmosphere. For a mostly low-budget movie where clearly all the money was spent on the make up effects, the movie has some nice detail, retains clarity and depth despite mostly night-set scenes and facial detail is decent. Add to this extras that consist of two worthwhile commentaries, interviews and stills galleries. Great treatment for what may be a cult favourite but doesn’t get talked about all that much..
It’s hard to believe this movie came out in 1986. It’s look and atmosphere still feel contemporary and semi-futuristic bar some 80s fashions and hair styles. This retelling / remake of the 1950’s b-movie has Jeff Goldblum on star-making form as eccentric scientist Seth Brundel, who after inviting a plucky reporter (Gina Davis) to his lab, reveals he has invented a teleportation device. However after the initial reveal, Brundel decides to teleport himself but makes the mistake of allowing a common house fly inside the pod, therefore setting into motion a grotesque and alarming physical transformation.
This is perfect material for director David Cronenberg (Scanners, Videodrome) who has always had an interest in body-horror and transformation in his movies. However beyond the gory effects (that still impress and revolt) this is a tragic love story. Helped immeasurably by convincing chemistry from the leads (who were a real life couple at the time) and a strikingly complex turn from Goldblum … watching events play out is both emotionally draining and exciting. It’s a very unique kind of horror experience, with no actual evil enemy but more a horrible set of circumstances. In that respect it’s not unlike The Elephant Man. It may be at it’s core fairly simple and only really has three characters … but what Cronenberg achieves with such simple tools is a revelation and made this an instant classic.
The Blu-ray has a decent if slightly soft image but colours are strong and close-up detail is good. The soundtrack in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio is also effective with atmospherics and Howard Shore’s obvious b-movie throwback score both doing their job. The only slight let down is somewhat mono sounding dialogue that whilst still clear could have done with sprucing up. Extras are plentiful though with an essential commentary from Cronenberg as well as some worthwhile deleted scenes, press kits, behind the scenes stuff and photo galleries. Overall a decent job for a genuine horror gem.
I’ll certainly go on record as saying the first Conjuring movie is one of the best horrors of recent years, and it’s follow up wasn’t too shabby either. Set in the same universe, the Annabelle movie so far has passed me by, Luke warm reviews and generally ‘meh’ word of mouth not helping matters. However I had heard this follow up was meant to be superior, so I thought I’d give it a chance.
Set some time before the events of the original movie, this has a group of orphans coming to live at a house in the middle of nowhere (of course). The ageing couple that run the house however hide their own tragic history following the death of their daughter twelve years previous. However it’s not long that things start to go bump in the night, mystery surrounds the reclusive wife and there’s a closed off room that certain girls should not go poking their noses into.
A solid premise, a creepy location and inquisitive young girls in night gowns wondering around creepy corridors in the dark. Yes it’s rather familiar stuff and pulls out many a horror movie trope. However it’s also a movie that wears its clichés like a badge of honour, delivering effective scares and plenty of freaky imagery and nail biting atmosphere that I found genuinely unnerving. The mostly young cast do a fine job especially lead girl Talitha Bateman and with several nods to both The Conjuring movies this was the whole package. It gets pretty messed up and nasty towards the end and I left the cinema fairly shaken but thoroughly entertained. A small tie in with the last movie ends things on somewhat of a ‘ok..er, what?’ and for a movie labelled ‘creation’ it’s still a bit of a mystery just what Annabelle’s origins are – but otherwise I still got a kick out of this.
As an admirer of director David Fincher, this thriller from 1997 was one of those movies I’d forgotten he’d actually made. At the time still riding high after the success of Seven, this rather high-concept but somewhat under-the-radar effort proved an obvious follow up; throwing in all the traits we’d come to expect from the director – bags of style, a twisting narrative and an attention to detail that has him often compared to Stanley Kubrick.
Michael Douglas stars as wealthy businessman Nicholas Van Orton, a guy who seemingly has it all but is ultimately cold and miserable. That is until on the day of his birthday, his brother, played by Sean Penn gives him the gift of ‘the game’. Baffled and intrigued at the same time, Nicholas agrees to attend an interview at the organization responsible … and so sets into motion a unique thriller that clearly borrows from the likes of Hitchcock as Nicholas struggles to stay one step ahead of an increasingly bizarre series of events.
I’ve always liked Michael Douglas and he’s very good here, proving complex and likable for a character that is otherwise mean spirited and selfish. Penn hams it up a little bit but proves enjoyable and Deborah Kara Unger is also decent. The idea itself is great but ultimately isn’t fully realised and despite Fincher’s assured direction and best intentions … it could have gone further, been more elaborate but sticks rigidly to plausibility for the most part (despite throwing all that out the window for the final act). Not one of Fincher’s best but still worth a look or revisiting for the concept or if you’re a fan of either Douglas or Fincher.
The Blu-ray boasts a quality image despite the occasionally soft-looking exterior or wide angle shots. Close-up detail is good and dark scenes offer plenty of detail. The movie is delivered in DTS Master Audio 5.1 and is for the most part punchy and immersive, even if in certain scenes dialogue gets a little lost in the atmospherics. Extras consist of merely a couple of trailers – very poor, but perhaps not surprising for one of the director’s more over-looked movies.