The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2


Viewed – 13 January 2018  Blu-ray

I’ve always been a casual fan of director Tobe Hooper’s notorious 1974 vision of terror… it’s a very raw and unrelenting experience that certainly leaves a mark.  This 1986 follow up, further more unavailable for years in the UK reunites us with the cannibalistic Sawyer family as a Texas Marshall (Dennis Hopper) tries to track them down, thirsty it seems for revenge.  Meanwhile a plucky radio DJ becomes embroiled in the hunt.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

There’s certainly a more tongue-in-cheek tone to this and it only marginally works.  It gives an already crazy concept an even nuttier vibe which came off for me more annoying than scary or disturbing.  The Sawyer family this time around are given a little more character, thanks mostly to Bill Moseley’s deranged ‘chop-top’ and we also see a side to Leatherface I wasn’t expecting.  Add to this a volatile, unhinged turn from Hopper who’s character is rather cartoonish but still entertaining.  The big let down acting wise is Caroline Williams as radio DJ ‘Stretch’ Initially she seems interesting, spunky and a good heroine … but then becomes scream-queen and oh boy, was she annoying!  I’ve watched my fair share of scream queens and this one, was so over the top I was quickly hoping the Sawyer family would just end her. 

Gore hounds are only slightly catered for, despite the presence of effects artist Tom Savini… so we get a skinned face and some chainsaw meets guts stuff, but not much else.  Overall the movie isn’t as visceral or effectively disturbing as either the original or the remake … but as a frantic, crazy ride this still entertained.  Considering this sequel’s reputation though, I was expecting … more.

The Blu-ray from Arrow Video boasts a detailed, clean and vibrant picture and even though the soundtrack is only the original 2.0 stereo it’s sharp and very effective.  The disk itself is packed with extras, with ‘It Runs At Night’ a six part documentary, and we also get several interviews with cast, crew and horror critics.  Add to this two commentaries (one with director Tobe Hooper and another with Caroline Williams, Bill Moseley and Tom Savini) making this deluxe treatment for what is otherwise a fun if forgettable entry in the franchise.

Verdict: 

(the movie)  3 /5

(the Blu-ray)  5 /5

Scenes that make the movie


I’ve been thinking about this idea for a post.  Ten memorable scenes from some of my favourite movies of all time, or simply great moments that make a particular movie going experience stick in my head.  This may become a continuing series as I recall other great moments…but for now, here are ten stand out moments from great movies:  Minor spoilers.

Akira

Teddy bears & hallucinations.

Akira Gif

As a telepathic Kaneda post-brush with an infected child of the Akira experiment, recovers in hospital, he begins to experience terrifying hallucinations where teddy bears and toys comes to life as his powers start to manifest in horrifying ways.  One of the defining moments of this complex and ground-breaking Anime.

An America Werewolf In London

Stick to the road

AAWIL Moores

Two back packers after stumbling into local watering hole The Slaughtered Lamb are ushered back out into the night, with simply the warning of ‘stay on the road, keep clear of the moores’ – which they subsequently ignore and are soon stalked by a blood thirsty werewolf in John Landis’ still superb 1984 horror classic.

Blue Velvet

In Dreams

Blue Dean

Amateur detective Kyle MacLachlan gets a little too close to nut-job mobster Dennis Hopper who takes him for a visit to his cross-dressing neighbourhood friend Dean Stockwell, who lip-syncs to Roy Orbinson’s timeless classic in possibly one of David Lynch’s most freaky and brilliant scenes.

Boogie Nights

Disco montage

Boogie Nights

As former nobody Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) rises to infamy in the seventies porn movie industry, we are treated to this fabulous disco montage, cut seamlessly with various shots of Dirk ‘in action’ or receiving awards and culminating in a wonderfully choreographed dance number with fellow stars Reed Rothchild (John C Reilly) and Roller-girl (Heather Graham).

Eyes Wide Shut

The secret sex party

eyes wide shut

Only in a Stanley Kubrick movie can a high society sex orgy come across as creepy and surreal.  The master film maker in probably his most misunderstood work, presents the viewer with a secret society that Tom Cruise manages to sneak inside of and witness the debauchery of most-likely high profile dignitaries with various high class call girls.  All to a haunting, incredibly eerie score.

Goodfellas

Paranoia, drugs and guns

goodfellas paranoid

In the final act of the movie an increasingly paranoid Ray Liotta, struggles to juggle family responsibilities with fencing guns for Robert DeNiro and avoiding what he thinks is an FBI helicopter during the day from hell.  Expertly edited for maximum tension and intensity by the grand master Martin Scorsese.

Monsters Inc.

A chase through the doors

monsters-inc

After discovering the main villain’s evil scheme, Billy Crystal’s motor-mouthed Mike and John Goodman’s lovable Sully are chased by Steve Buscemi’s dastardly Randall into the inner workings of the Monsters Inc. facility and through a plethora of doors into the human world.  Exciting, inventive and visually stunning.

Pulp Fiction

Jack Rabbit Slims

pulp gif

In a mob movie with pop-culture quoting wise guys and a soundtrack to die for, who’d have thought one of the best scenes would be a night out between John Travolta’s mob hitman and gangsters-mol Uma Thurman?  Culminating in the world famous Twist Contest.  Sharp dialogue, a highly memorable setting, and an after-math that segway’s into probably the other best scene in this movie.

Saving Private Ryan

Omaha Beach Landing

After visiting the final resting place of hundreds of soldiers, an elderly veteran recalls his experience with tears in his eyes – switch to the shocking beach onslaught in Omaha in 1944 as thousands of troops fight against impossible odds.  A stunning opening to one of the greatest WWII movies ever made, with star (Tom Hanks) and director (Steven Spielberg) on blistering form.

Trainspotting

Clubbing to Blondie.

transpotting

Taking a break from ripping people off and doing drugs, Ewan McGregor’s Renton finds himself on a night out with friends, hitting the clubs and listening to Heaven 17 and Blondie (or Sleeper doing a marvellous version of Atomic), where he meets Diane (Kelly MacDonald) and leads to a montage of sex, alcohol and pulse-pounding music in Danny Boyle’s break-out gem.

Do you agree with my list?  Have favourite scenes of your own?  Leave your comments below or link to your own lists…

Ten of the best


Top Ten lists are sort of something I enjoy doing, especially at the end of each year.  But Top Ten Favourite Movies of all time?  Harder.  I used to have a list a while back of which some of the movies below used to appear on.  Yet I gave up putting them in a particular order as they are so different some of them, comparing is impossible.  So find below Ten movies I think have had the greatest effect on me, either growing up, inspiring me (writing, movie tastes) or just hitting me on an emotional level.

fight-club

Fight Club

Made me a big fan of the movies of David Fincher and has arguably Edward Norton’s finest turn.  Style, effects work in a movie that didn’t need it, a great soundtrack, that twist and endlessly quotable.

Gran Torino

Emotional, heart-wrenching, funny, touching with one of Eastwood’s best performances.  The cast of newcomers surrounding him are also first-rate.

gran torino

21 Grams

Complex and twist-filled with three stunning performances (especially Naomi Watts) and a script that is quite literally genius.  Tough going but well worth the journey.

21grams

Pulp Fiction

Possibly still my all time favourite movie.  The dialogue is amazing, funny, very cool and  believable.  The sound track is stuff of legend and performances across the board are superb.

pulpfiction

Leon

Natalie Portman’s debut.  Ice-cool, Gary Oldman’s looniest but greatest villain, Jean Reno as a lovable assassin and Luc Besson on stunning form.

leon

Annie Hall

All of Woody Allen’s best ideas, cleverest dialogue and touching observations rolled into one perfect movie.  Diane Keaton is excellent and Allen has never been funnier.

Annie-Hall

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

James Cameron fully realising Terminator … stunning effects work, amazing action sequences, Arnie at his best, Linda Hamilton as the most bad-ass female role model since Ellen Ripley.  The ultimate sci-fi blockbuster.

terminator 2

Blue Velvet

Weird but one of David Lynch’s most coherent works, with a great cast (Hopper is just plain nuts) and haunting music and a dream-like atmosphere.  Sexy and disturbing just how Lynch should be.

blue-velvet

Goodfellas

The finest gangster movie ever made, fast, packed with ideas, dialogue, people getting wacked, great dialogue and great performances throughout.  Martin Scorsese at his very best.

goodfellas

The Shining

Stunningly filmed, creepy as hell, scary, with an amazing Jack Nicholson and a true directing auteur in the shape of the late Stanley Kubrick.  The best horror movie ever made?  Quite possibly.

The-Shining

True Romance


Viewed – 20 August 2012  DVD

With the news of director Tony Scott’s death, I felt the only way I could pay a genuine tribute, was to watch and review one of his best (and most underrated) movies.  Starring Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, we follow the story of Clarence (Slater) who falls for rookie call girl Alabama (Arquette) and ends up doing a drug deal with a hot-shot movie producer after accidentally coming into possession of a suitcase full of cocaine.  With the Police and the Mob closing in on them, will they make it to the happy ending they dream of?

Based on a stellar screenplay by Quentin Tarantino and released at a time when Hollywood had Tarantino fever (it followed Tarantino’s debut Reservoir Dogs only a year previous, quickly followed itself by Oliver Stone’s controversial Natural Born Killers) and with Scott’s trademark soft-focus filtered style and a great soundtrack this simply bleeds quality from beginning to end.  Supporting cast members all get their moment to shine, most notably Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken in a very memorable scene (you’re Sicilian, right?), but also Tom Sizemore, Val Kilmer (as the ghost of Elvis) and Gary Oldman.  Slater delivers easily the performance of his career, helped no end by a spunky and sexy Arquette, looking her most iconic.  The dialogue especially impresses, some of the best I’d say Tarantino has ever written, and with Scott’s confident direction, it even feels weightier and more meaningful than when Tarantino himself is behind the camera.

The plot does get a tad complicated, seems to wallow at times in the violence, and there’s probably too much going on … but if you’re paying attention, it all just works – which is a rare thing indeed.  A sure-fire classic of 90s cinema well worthy of repeated viewing.

Verdict:  5 /5

Blue Velvet


Viewed – 02 December 2011  Blu-ray

David Lynch’s 1986 movie has been heralded by some critics as the greatest movie of the 80s, even if it’s subject matter and provocative, often disturbing imagery may contradict what we think of when recalling the eighties.  There was clearly nothing quite like it during that decade, and despite an initial negative reaction, has gone on to be considered the director’s masterpiece.  I have had a mixed relationship with the film, and although a fan of Lynch’s work, didn’t enjoy Blue Velvet when I first watched it.  Like much of the director’s output, it treads an awkward line between conventional drama / thriller plotting and absolute weirdness with moments that can’t be rationalized or explained … yet on subsequent viewings, I began to greatly appreciate the style, the uncomfortable atmosphere and the often beautiful imagery.

Beautiful and disturbing, much like Isabella Rossellini’s Dorothy, part glamorous siren, part broken doll.  She plays a nightclub singer trapped in a situation by the malevolent Frank, a career best from the late Dennis Hopper who deliver’s an intense and very disturbing performance of a very perverse and unpredictable monster.  Dorothy finds salvation from snooping high school amateur detective Jeffrey (Kyle Maclachlan) who stumbles upon her plight after finding a severed ear in a field, and after giving it over to the Police, begins his own investigation with the help of the Police Detective’s daughter Sandy (Laura Dern).  He goes on to uncover a dark and sinister world lurking beneath the idyllic suburban town of Lumberton, and gradually enters a nightmare he may never wake up from.

This is movie that never allows the viewer to feel safe, and will be an acquired taste for some.  It explores aspects of violence, masochism and sex few movies fear to tread, and although it doesn’t show anything particularly graphic, it creates a mood that is unflinching in its nightmarish-tone.  Lynch is one of the few director’s who can perfectly capture the feel of a dream, and with a surreal use of music, from Bobby Vinton’s timeless title track to Roy Orbison’s seminal In Dreams, this has a look and feel uniquely its own, and uniquely Lynch.  Quite brilliant.

The Blu-ray boasts a very nice if purposely soft-focus image, which oozes colour and detail.  The soundtrack, very important for a David Lynch movie is also very effective, with clear dialogue and great impact from the music and also the weird and effective sound design.  The extras are plentiful with a multi-part documentary called Mysteries Of Love running for 72 minutes, newly discovered footage spanning 50 minutes, and we also have outtakes, interviews and a Siskel & Ebert review.  No commentary, although that is not really surprising considering Lynch’s often secretive attitude towards his work, and overall this is a great treatment for a real classic.

Verdict:  5 /5