Tuesday, 9 February 2010

DVD Reviews

Halloween II
Starring: Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane
Director: Rob Zombie
Entertainment In Video
Available Now - £19.99 (DVD) and £24.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Picking up where Halloween left off, Laurie Strode is taken to the local hospital after supposedly killing Michael Myers, the man responsible for the deaths of several people in the town of Haddonfield, Illinois.

However Michael is very much alive and as the anniversary of the massacres approaches, he returns to Haddonfield once more, with a family reunion planned that Laurie will never forget.

Unleashing a devastating new trail of terror Myers will stop at nothing to bring closure to the secrets of his twisted past but the town has an unlikely new hero …if they can only stay alive long enough to stop the seemingly unstoppable.

One of Rob Zombie’s main faults as a director is that he constantly strives to elevate the grindhouse into the arthouse. This rarely works, because the very nature of the grimy horror movies of the seventies that he tries to emulate are base, dirty and evil. When he attempts a variety of motifs, stylisations and other “high art” cinema techniques, they jar far too much with the rest of the movie.

What’s more, the whole thing plods along unnecessarily slowly. Not only this, but when the first twenty-five minutes of the movie are revealed to be a dream-sequence, you can’t help but wonder if the story was running a little short on this one.

It isn’t all bad, though. Some of the stalk-and-kill scenes are nothing short of brilliant, and I can’t help but admire Zombie’s attempt at something a little different.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Strong scenes of blood, gore and violence throughout the movie.
Sex/Nudity: Some boobies and sex-scenes
Swearing: IMDB lists 102 variations on “fuck”
Summary: Very much an ambitious, yet flawed, project. Zombie’s abilities as a director were hampered by his own rather lacklustre story. Not as good as it could have been. 5/10

Pandorum
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Antje Traue
Director: Christian Alvart
Icon Home Entertainment

Available From 15th February - £17.99 (DVD) and £24.99 (Blu-ray)
Review by Brad Harmer

Two astronauts (Dennis Quaid (Jaws 3-D, Great Balls of Fire!) and Ben Foster) awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft. It’s pitch black, they are disoriented, and the only sound is a low rumble and creak from the belly of the ship. They can’t remember anything like who they are and what their mission is, but one thing they do realise very quickly is that that they are not alone.

Slowly the spacecraft’s shocking, deadly secrets are revealed and the astronauts find that they must fight to stay alive and that their survival is more important than they could ever have imagined.

One of the things I love most about The Evil Dead is how it never allows itself to be hampered by its budget, and instead uses those restrictions as positive attributes. Watching Pandorum and its uses of lighting and editing to create a claustrophobic atmosphere, I was relieved to find that this wasn’t going to be one of those god-awful low budget movies I get sent. This was made by people who actually knew what the hell they were doing.

Pandorum wears its Event Horizon/Aliens/The Matrix influences on its sleeve, but all in all the story is pretty cool, and the scary bits are scary, and the action set-pieces are well done. Yet for all this, there’s some kind-of X factor lagging...maybe it’s that some of the plot-twists are anything but surprising, or that there’s not really enough time spent on the supporting characters. With that said, it’s a fun sci-fi/action movie that should satisfy fans of the genre.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Several scenes of scuffling, shooting, explosions and so on.
Sex/Nudity: Some partial male nudity.
Swearing: A pretty hefty amount.
Summary: A fun sci-fi action movie, which isn’t hampered by its budget. Instantly forgettable, but worth a rental. 7/10

Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead
Starring: Tom Frederic, Janet Montgomery, Gil Kolirin
Director: Declan O'Brien
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Available Now - £15.99 (DVD)
Review by Brad Harmer

A group of prisoners are being transferred by Nate Wilson, a prison guard, on his last day before leaving to become a lawyer. Unfortunately, during transport their bus is attacked by a bizarre hillbilly cannibal and the prisoners escape.

While being chased through the woods, the prisoners and Nate encounter a survivor of the hillbilly’s previous attacks, and an abandoned armored van filled with cash. The money becomes the prisoners’ sole motivation for escape and survival, but to escape, they’ll have to contend with the slasher...and his son.

This is your common or garden straight-to-video horror movie sequel – there’s no getting away from that. It’s going to be lame, stupid, cringingly low-budget and...hey, boobs in the first two minutes...let’s give this thing a chance, yeah?

Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead is a surprisingly good horror movie. Yes, it is low-budget, but it knows it, and either works its way around any budgetary restraints – or plays on them for laughs. It’s a good, fun gore-movie. And, shock upon shock, it actually has fully-rounded characters in it! I know, right? An original set-up, good characters, and a desire to entertain rather than struggle uphill against budgetary limitations? If only all horror movies could be like that...DO YOU HEAR ME ELI ROTH?

Unfortunately, it’s not all great, it suffers from a slightly laggy middle, and a rather predictable ending, but – trust me – this isn’t as bad as you were expecting it to be.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
Many, many highly gory sequences, featuring murderising, blood, gore, mutilation, cannibalism, evisceration, and trifurcation.
Sex/Nudity: Boobies.
Swearing: Frequent.
Summary: An above-average slasher move that’s actually worth a watch. Attempts something new, but it isn’t completely free of technical flaws. 7/10
We don't usually go in for much charity work here, but we figured this was worth mentioning.

Two rockers in metal band After Death drown in Brazil

Death Toll Records have agreed to donate all the profits from the sale of the CD to the families of Tim and Leon, and you can purchase it here.

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