Saturday 25 June 2011

DVD Reviews

Season of the Witch
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Claire Foy, Ron Perlman
Director: Dominic Sena
Momentum Picture Home Entertainment

Available from Monday 27th June
Review by Brad Harmer

A heroic crusader (Nicolas Cage) and his close ally (Ron Perlman) return home after decades of fierce fighting to find their world destroyed by the Plague. Believing a witch to be responsible for the devastation, they are commanded by the church Cardinal (Christopher Lee) to transport the girl to a remote monastery where monks will perform an ancient ritual to rid the land of her curse. But they soon discover the girl's dark secret and find themselves battling a powerful and destructive force that will determine the fate of the world forever.

It’s hard not to love a movie that has Ron Perlman and Christopher Lee sharing screen time, even allowing for the massive drag factor of Nicholas Cage, but I’ll be damned it Season of the Witch didn’t at least drag me down to ‘indifferent’. The first twenty odd minutes are nice, entertaining action/historical fiction scenes, but then the pacing drops off to a excruciating crawl.

Season of the Witch eventually evolves into a road movie (for the most part), but not an especially good one. The action scenes are badly cobbled together, and it’s often hard to tell just what the hell is going on at any particular time. The tone smashes from fantasy to historical fiction to horror back to fantasy to road movie with as much concern for genre as a Sam Raimi film.

Also, when directing a movie set in a fictionalised medieval England, try and give everyone English accents. If you can’t do that, give everyone their normal accent. What you should certainly not to is encourage all your actors to change accents from English to American willy-nilly. The Girl’s (Claire Foy) accent crashes all over the place literally from scene to scene. It’s a little thing, but that’s the problem with Season of the Witch. It’s a lot of good ideas brought down by the sheer weight of numbers of all the little botches.

There’s a lot of good ideas in Season of the Witch, so I’d hate to leave you with the impression that it’s complete and total toss. The script is good, the acting is excellent (when they can decide on an accent), but the pacing, editing, continuity, lack of identity and direction all cling to it like a petulant toddler, dragging it down from big name contender to bargain bin fodder.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Swordfighting, mass-battles, blood, gore, scuffling, kicking, references to torture, murder.
Sex/Nudity: Full female nudity, but you don’t see any bits. Claire Foy looking hot. Also, to be fair, Ron Perlman looking hot.
Swearing: Mild.
Summary: Several good ideas, executed badly. Let down (amongst other things) by poor editing and a lack of identity. 4/10
World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2
Starring: Philip Brodie, Josh Myers, Alex Wilton Regan
Director: Michael Bartlett & Kevin Gates
Metrodome Distribution

Available from Monday 27th June
Review by Blake Harmer

Following shortly after the events of the original The Zombie Diaries, this sequel follows a group of soldiers who have survived the viral outbreak and who now take refuge in a rural military barracks. With the future looking bleak, hope appears when a communication is received from a military base on the coast, telling of Europe coming to rescue any survivors. However, shortly after hearing this, the base is overrun with zombies and now a handful of surviving troops must make their way to the coast in time to be rescued.

Unlike a lot of zombie movies these days, I enjoyed the original The Zombie Diaries as it kept to the core, traditional values of zombie movies, rather than keeping to the new ideas of fast zombies action-fests. Instead it kept things slow, tense and showed that human behaviour can be worse than the zombies. World of the Dead: The Zombies Diaries 2 retains that feel and makes good use of the hand camera to keep up the suspense. The acting is also good considering the films obviously low budget.

The film does suffer by keeping a bit too close to the conventions of the zombie movie; some scares were way too predictable. Also whilst World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2 retains everything that made the original movie great, I felt that it didn’t really expand and build upon it like a good sequel should.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Lots of gunfire and plenty of people being eaten alive by zombies.
Sex/Nudity: A couple of rape scenes, but you don’t see anything except for boob.
Swearing: A fair amount but used in fright or anger, pretty typical for horror movies then.
Summary: Whilst not as strong as the original The Zombie Diaries, and whilst it doesn’t ramp up the scares as much as [REC], World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2 still maintains its roots and tells a good zombie yarn. Zombie fans should check it out if they liked the original. However, those who are more into the post-28 Days Later zombie films should probably look elsewhere. 6/10
Starring: Eoin Macken, Anna Skellern, Tereza Srbova
Director: Andrew Hull
Matchbox Films

Available from Monday 27th June
Review by Brad Harmer

A group of friends escaping the city for a weekend away have a simple plan, to tour the coast for a relaxing weekend. Things hit a snag when one of the friends spots a seductive, sultry young woman waving for help off the shore of one of many secluded islands along the coast. Reaching out to rescue her turns deadly and they risk everything to get off the island alive.

I try my hardest to be a good horror fan; to stick up for my favourite genre and to try and defend it against its detractors, as well as in the face of its sparkly vampire fancying supporters. Recently, I’ve been proud to do so. The past twelve months have seen horror be the strongest it’s been for years – possibly since the 1980s, or even the 1920s. It’s because of this, that I really hate Siren.

Siren is a step backwards for all the progression the horror genre has taken recently. It markets itself as horror, but then the first thirty minutes is basically softcore porn, and just as artistically viable. Any tension or surprises that may have been intended are blown after the viewer metaphorically bruises himself on the lump of foreshadowing dropped in before we even get out first whiff of the mysterious island.

And then, after it realises that it hasn’t got a good idea in its running time, it turns to artistic pretension to try and cover up its shortcomings. Sorry, Siren, but you’re not Dario Argento, and you’re not Lucio Fulci and we’re not going to cut you any slack here. This is pretentiousness to cover up the fact you have nothing to say.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Some blood and gore, if you have the patience to reach that far.
Sex/Nudity: Frequent and strong.
Swearing: Average for the genre.
Summary: A terrible mess of a movie, that seems far more concerned with disappearing up its own bottom than actually having anything original to bring to the table. 3/10
The New York Ripper: Fan Edition
Starring: Alexandra Delli Colli, Jack Hedley, Andrea Occhipinti
Director: Lucio Fulci

Available from Monday 27th June
Review by Blake Harmer

Rejoice Fulci fans, as The New York Ripper is now being re-released in its most uncut form yet in the UK. For those of you who are unaware of the plot, it is a crime slasher movie, which follows Police Lt. Fred Williams and psychoanalyst Dr Paul Davis as they attempt to track down a murderer who talks in a grotesque Donald Duck style voice and butchers women with razorblades, knives and even a broken glass bottle.

As this is the most uncut version released in the UK, it’s hard to see what was so bad to have been cut from movie; especially seeing as it is essentially violence and nudity for ninety minutes. That said though, the plot is strong for your average crime slasher flick and keeps you guessing who the murderer is right up until the very end. Also, the special effects still look good considering the film’s age, and still raise the odd wince, such as when the ripper cuts into one of the girl’s eyes and straight down her face.

There are some drawbacks to this release, though. There are not many extras on the disc and I felt that the film could have been cleaned up better (this may be better on the Blu-ray release, but this was not available at the time). That said though: if you are a fan of Lucio Fulci’s movies, then you will be very happy to have this in your collection until it finally does come out uncut in the UK.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Lots of stabbings and cutting with plenty of fake blood to keep the gorehounds happy. The effects still hold up as well and haven’t dated too badly because of the use of prosthetics.
Sex/Nudity: Lots of scenes of a sexual nature, and full frontal nudity throughout.
Swearing: Quite a lot, but it does pale in comparison to the amount of violence and nudity on display here.
Summary: Whilst not quite as strong as Zombie Flesh Eaters, The New York Ripper is still one of Lucio Fulci’s best films. Well worth checking out if you like your serial killer crime movies, or if you are a fan of Lucio Fulci in general. 7/10


Exactly one year after his debut in TNA Wrestling, Mr. Anderson faces off against "The Blueprint" Matt Morgan in a main event to determine the #1 contender to challenge Jeff Hardy for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship title!

TNA Home Video presents TNA Genesis, shot live in Orlando, Florida, January 9, 2011.

Also on this DVD release: Does Immortal reach their goal of obtaining all of the title belts and does Eric Bischoff have plans for Anderson and Morgan that will change everything?

Thanks to our friends at TNA Wrestling, we've got three copies of TNA Genesis 2011 on DVD to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name to before midday on Saturday 2nd July, making sure to put "Genesis" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "Genesis" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

TNA Genesis: 2011 is out on DVD now, courtesy of TNA Wrestling.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

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