Tuesday 6 October 2009

DVD Reviews

Hell Ride
Larry Bishop
Warner Home Video

Available from 12th October
Review by Brad Harmer

Okay, ladies and gentlemen: the following sentence will probably make you decide whether or not you want to see this movie straight off the bat: It’s a modern day exploitation movie, featuring violence, tits, Dennis Hopper, Michael Madsen, motorbikes, and explosions.

Still with us? Good.

All the core elements of a motorcycle gang movie are present – rival gangs, a terrible misdeed in the past that has to be avenged (hopefully with a great deal of blood and slow motion), and the relationship between the aged leader, and his young protégé. And Hell Ride does it all well. Sure it sounds clichéd, and hackneyed and yeah, yeah, yeah...you’re missing the point – this is a great, fun movie!

Pervading the movie like the stench of leather and petrol is a real “old-school” exploitation vibe. This is just like how all those grindhouse biker movies would have looked had they been shot today, and on a decent budget. All of it seems very natural – there are no pretentions here. It’s not pandering, it’s not being “ironic”, and nor is it a parody – it’s just happy to be what it is.

Make no mistake, it does suffer from some weaknesses as a result – and not just limited to Vinnie Jones’ hilarious attempt at an American accent. The plot takes secondary place to the violence and nudity, so those who are fans of cinema as a higher art form will likely be very disappointed. It doesn’t really stand up to a close examination, but when viewed on its face value as an old-fashioned thrill ride blast-o-rama, this is a great movie.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Several bar fights, shootings, stabbings, bludgeons, slicing and torture sequences. All shot in a fantastically over the top fashion. Several people are burned alive.
Sex/Nudity: Several shots of sexual intercourse. More breasts and bush than I could count. During the peyote sequence, a Native American babe wanders around in front of a kaleidoscopic background with her baps and growler hanging out for a protracted length of time.
Swearing: Not so much “frequent” as “constant”.
Summary: Possibly the most Emotionally Fourteen movie released this year. It’s not a truly great movie by anyone’s standards, but it’s certainly a lot of fun, and I’d recommend it most. 8/10

La fiancée de Dracula (Dracula's Fiancée)
Review by Rob Wade

It's always satisfying to know that you can put the words "vampire movie" and "sucks" in the same sentence, so a film like this is particularly gratifying.

Remember Garth Marenghi's Darkplace? That show that was hilarious because it was deliberately done as a terrible TV show from the eighties, despite the fact that it was made in 2004? Wasn't that a great show? Now take the concept of that TV show and apply it to this movie, Dracula's Fiancée. Oh wait, but make the following modifications:

Make it in 2002 - Check!
Do it as a vampire film - Check!
Treat it as a serious artistic endeavour, thus making it look absolutely God-awful - Double Check and fucking underline!

Dracula's Fiancée tells the story of a pair of vampire hunters on the trail of the main man himself, Dracula. Within the first five minutes, they are in a graveyard waiting for a dwarf who gets a bite from his vampire girlfriend (who of course is naked). They then ambush the dwarf and attempt to get him to show them to Dracula's lair. Following so far? I'm not, and I saw the fucking movie. Along the way they find a girl being looked after by nuns for her own protection, as she has been chosen as the fiancée of Dracula.

Along the way, they run into (among others) some chain-smoking nuns, a baby-eating ogress and wizards galore. Well, it SAYS they run into them, but allow me to precise. When the DVD box mentions chain-smoking nuns, they mean "Two nuns smoking". When the DVD box mentions "a baby-eating ogress", they actually mean "a woman who goes from a white dress to a black dress, thus making her evil. She also eats babies." As for "wizards galore", is it really fair to make "galore" mean the same as "2"? I'd argue not.

Let's get the good bits out of the way first. The soundtrack doesn't suck, and the girl playing the fiancée isn't a terrible actor. However, as far as suck-worthy elements go, the fact that everyone else in the film IS a terrible actor does little to make this fact resonate. The acting ranges from wooden to completely over the top, and not even in a vaguely amusing way.

On the plus side, it's nice to know that their budget wasn't completely used up on special effects, and that they probably got change back from the 5 Euros they spent.

And the most damning part of all? THE BIT ON THE FUCKING COVER DOESN'T EVEN HAPPEN!

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating :
Violence : Very little, a few gunshots and understandably some vampire bites.
Sex/Nudity : A few different pairs of tits, a couple of completely naked girls. Oh, and some girl-on-girl kissing that was obviously designed to tittilate idiots. Fortunately, I'm not fooled.
Swearing : None whatsoever, which was frankly impressive.
Summary: This film is not in the least bit evocative in any way. It's not scary, it's not sexy, it's just...not anything. 2/10

Gunparade March: Volume 2
MVM Entertainment
Review by Brad Harmer

The war has claimed the lives of far too many to ever be avenged. Each death leaves a vicious unseen wound upon the surviving combatants. Unit 5121 will discover that no group is immune to this syndrome. Their next mission will leave them outgunned, outnumbered and one member short.

Danger, fear and loss will tear at Unit 5121 in ways that their young minds could have never imagined. There is no time to mourn in the heat of battle. Can this team stand fast or will combat fatigue wear them down?

We’ve all seen mech heavy anime before, right? Lots of scenes of lightning fast, spindly robots that look like a Transformers Fanboy’s wet dream spinning across the screen firing lasers rapidly enough to give the viewer an epileptic fit. So, I approached this with something like a jaded acceptance. And then I was stunned to discover that it was possibly the rarest type of anime in the world – a mech series with the focus on characterisation!

All of the characters are great fun – sometimes funny, sometimes dramatic, but always interesting – and the focus on the story is on their adventures in between battles, something that most mech stories miss out on. The mech battle scenes are great when they arrive, but you never find yourself missing them, and are instead caught up in the main storylines.

The trouble is that it’s not all that pretty to look at. Whilst the animation is flawless, the shots themselves are often flat and not very well drawn. Sometimes the picture seems a little too bright as well, probably a mastering fault. Also, some viewers may find that the character heavy storylines sometimes feels a little too much like a soap opera.

If you can see through the minor flaws, however, this series has great potential, and I found myself genuinely hanging on for the next part at the end of each episode.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Lots of explosions and giant robots fighting.
Sex/Nudity: None
Swearing: None
Summary: A well-written although badly illustrated mecha series. Should appeal to those who have grown jaded with the more tried and tested storylines these sort of things tend to have. 7/10

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