December 15, 2009

December 5, 2009

Gutterballs (2008)

Having enjoyed both of director Ryan Nicholson's previous outings, Torched and Live Feed, I must admit to looking forward to seeing what he would come with next. Well, Gutterballs is that next and I can safely say that it was worth the wait, and although it didn't exceed my expectations it did leave me with a big grin on my face whilst also being a little shocked as to what I saw on screen. Gutterballs may not be quite as dark as the director's previous efforts on a first glance, but believe me when I say that this is one nasty movie that pushes the limits of what is acceptable on film. Gutterballs, in the form that I saw it, will not be receiving a favourable rating from the MPAA, there's no hard R pussy-footing about here, this is NC-17 all the way. But, by fuck it is fun in a sick and twisted way.

The action unfolds almost entirely within the Xcalibur bowling alley where two groups of young adults are there to play a match. Now, these two groups do not get along in the slightest, and before long a fight breaks out which the bowling alley's janitor (there are no other staff for some reason) puts a stop to. He informs them that they can come back the next night though for some after hours bowling.

In between this though and the next night one of the characters is subjected to an absolutely horrific rape and assault by the other group. She does however make it along to the following nights event. It becomes quite apparent though that all is not well during the rescheduled match as one by one the bodies start to pile up in all manner of gruesome ways.

Gutterballs is a straightforward slasher flick, an homage to the slashers of the early 80's, as well as the sex comedies and John Hughes style flicks of the same era. This is something the movie makes no apologies about, there are no frills, no attempts at trying to be clever, or self referential, just flat out balls to the wall (pun intended) slasher mayhem. Admittedly one that has one hell of a lot of graphic sex in it; there's no teasing the audience here, we get to see everything, and I mean everything.

Although it is a very brutal movie, the gore comes thick and fast, the rape scene as mentioned is incredibly nasty and some of the characters are just plain despicable, there is a rich vein of humour that runs throughout the movie. Such is the fact that I din't know whether to laugh at what was unfolding on screen or whether to be appalled. I ended up laughing, especially listening to some of the banter that the janitor (played wonderfully by Dan Ellis) spewed forth.

Aside from Ellis' performance there are also a few other good, not great, performance from the cast. Alastair Gamble as the king of all assholes Steve is quite excellent in his role. Just about everything that comes out of his mouth is obnoxious and offensive, but it is played out so well. Nathan Witte as the "good" guy Jamie was also impressive. As you might expect in a slasher film though some of the performance were a little lacking, but that didn't take away from the film itself, if you watch slasher flicks for the performances then you must have too much free time. This is all about the gore baby!

As for the gore and special effects they are thoroughly disgusting throughout; there is plenty of blood being sprayed about here I can assure you. Some of the kills will make you squirm away in your seats, some will make you chuckle, in particular the ball-waxing machine with a mind of its own.

On top of all this carnage, mayhem and sex, and just to emphasise the era the film is paying homage to, is a thumping 80's soundtrack from the likes of Loverboy and April Wine. It really is like the 80's never left us.

Gutterballs isn't a perfect movie, but it is very enjoyable in all its warped glory, and fans of slashers, and the other movies it gives nods to should enjoy every minute of it. Personally I thought it was a far superior slasher flick to some more over-hyped modern slashers that are available. Sure the characters make dumb decisions, but didn't they always in these kinds of movies?

Some inventive deaths, plenty of blood and gore and a sick sense of humour should be enough to keep fans happy with this movie. Just be careful who you watch it with as Gutterballs is strong stuff. You have been warned.

Rating: 3 stars

Review by Jude Felton

Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door (2007)

I watched this movie just as I finished the novel, and quite frankly was amazed that it was possible to turn the book into a respectable movie at all without losing any of the book’s power. However, screenwriters Daniel Farrands and Phiip Nuttman, along with director Gregory Wilson do an incredible job.

The story follows the book’s very closely, of course there are a few minor omissions here and there and the odd change, but nothing too drastic. Once again we follow the summer of 1958 with David and the events that take place next door in his neighbours basement after young Meg Loughlin and her sister Susan move in.

Aside from the writing and direction real credit here must go to all the cast involved as they all do a phenomenal job in bringing Ketchum’s characters to life. In particular Blanche Baker, who is fantastic as the evil Ruth Chandler, Blythe Auffarth who gives a stunning performance as poor Meg and Daniel Manche as young David. All were great though throughout.

Visually the filmakers did a wonderful job of bringing 1950’s America to life, on what I can only assume was a limited budget (not that you can tell at all).

Quite often books get labelled as "unfilmable" for whatever reason, whether it be visually or due to the narrative style. In this case it would be down to the subject matter, and I for one am glad to see that someone had the balls to bring it to the screen. None of the power of the book has been lost and as such it makes a perfect companion to the novel. Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door is a violent and harrowing movie, but a quite wonderful one too.

Highly recommended.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Jude Felton

The Girl Next Door (1989)

Once in awhile I read a book, or watch a movie, that redefines my concept of evil. Or, more precisely the depths of darkness that people can sink into at the expense of others. The Girl Next Door is one such book, it lulls you into its false sense of serenity only to ambush you with such a violent and heartbreaking story that you will be left reeling from the impact it leaves on you.

The story is told in from the perspective of David, a middle-aged man working on Wall Street, that relates the events of the summer of 1958 when he was a 12 year old boy.

It starts off innocently enough with David enjoying his summer as any young boy would; messing about with his friends, going to the fair and meeting a girl named Meg. She is slightly older than him and has ended up moving in, along with her younger sister Susan, with her Aunt Ruth after a terrible accident claimed the lives of their parents. Initially David is secretly quite happy about this; he is fascinated by her and looks forward to seeing her again. Unfortunately for Meg though moving in with her Aunt will prove to be a horrific experience.

At first Ruth just makes Meg do all the household chores, but before long the personal insults start and when Ruth learns of a game that the kids, including her own sons play she takes things to a whole new level of cruelty. Both sisters are made to suffer, and over the following weeks of that summer no one will be the same again.

The Girl Next Door is a quite incredible book. The further you read into it the nastier it gets, yet I could not stop reading, I just had to know what happened. The fact that I was repulsed by what was happening on the pages in front of was irrelevent, I just couldn’t stop. Admittedly I had to take a breather now and again, but not for long as such was the lure of the book. Reading it from David’s point of view only added to the horrors as they unfolded. Here is this 12 year old witnessing, yet not being able to end, the attrocious acts that are commited in the basement of his neighbours house. As a reader I felt I should be looking away, I shouldn’t be down there watching, as if I was a party to the crimes commited. Yet Ketchum hooks you in with his writing and never lets you go until the bitter end.

The Girl Next Door is a truly masterful horror novel; quite possibly one of the best I have ever read. Aside from the incredibly disturbing elements contained within it is a wonderfully written book that manages to make you wrestle with your emotions throughout. Quite why I waited so long to read it is quite beyond me.

Simply put this book is incredible and I thoroughly recommend it. Disturbing, powerful and heartbreaking; read it as soon as you can.

Rating: 4 stars

Review by Jude Felton

Mr Skin's Skintastic Video Guide: The 501 Greatest Movies for Sex & Nudity on DVD (2007)

When it comes to book titles this one really doesn't leave much to the imagination; it does exactly what is says on the cover. That's right, you've got Mr Skin's 501 top movies honouring the exposure of female flesh, as long as they are available on an official US release and playable on Region 1 DVD player. Bloody fantastic stuff if you ask me.

As well as the 501 Greatest movies there is also Mr Skin's personal top 69 and the top 69 movies that are not currently available on DVD. It's all quite exhaustive stuff, alongside cover art for each movie, although not all the art is from the US release, there is a brief rundown of the plot in most cases but more importantly it gives the lowdown on who flashes what and what they flash. Indeed, in what must have been some seriously extensive "research" there is a breast, butt and bush count for each flick.

The list of movies contained is incredibly varied as well, you have everything covered, from Grindhouse to Arthouse, Blaxsploitation to Nazisploitation, Low Brow to High Brow, Horror, Comedy, Drama, you name it it is probably covered in one shape or form here. From the likes of Cannibal Holocaust, Bloodsucking Freaks and the Ilsa flicks to more mainstream faire such as Doc Hollywood, American Pie and Road Trip plus many in between. In fact reading this has made me want to search quite a few of these out, being the pervert that I am.

Alongside the movies though there are also loads of interesting tidbits of information about the various directors, film companies and actresses etc. Not to mention a guide to some of Dr Skin's quite inventive play on words, such as "furburgerage" and "skingoria". That's the main thing that holds this guide together and that is the fantastic humor that is prevalent throughout. So many films guides are just lists of movies, but there is nothing that really glues everything together. Here though, aside from checking which movie has the highest boob count, I can guarantee that you will be laughing along as you read.

The Skintastic Video Guide is a quite splendid reference guide that I wholeheartedly recommend you pick up. Whether you are seriously interested in the contents, and judging by some of the movies listed i'd reckon that the nudity was the only redeeming point, or whether you you just want a fun and informative read, you really can't go wrong. Although I will just add that Straw Dogs was set in Cornwall and not Scotland which is at the complete opposite end of the UK. Not that that matters as there is more information here than should be humanly possible to gather, and credit must be given to all involved for taking the time and effort to compile it.

Great book.

Rating 4 stars

Review by Jude Felton

Broken (2007)

Broken is one of the first releases through Dimension's new Extreme label, so I wasn’t expecting anything along the lines of When a Stranger Calls. I also wasn’t expecting to be watching a well acted, good looking grisly son of a bitch either; but that is what I got. Well, not the When a Strange Calls part, but definitely the latter.

This movie hooked me right from the shocking opening credit sequence, and didn’t really let up until its wonderful ending; one that I can honestly say that you won’t see coming.

The story is pretty straightforward; a single mother, Hope, goes home to bed after a date only to wake up buried alive inside a makeshift coffin with no recollection of how she got there.

From here on in things only get worse for Hope as she is soon introduced to her captor, known only as The Man. The Man pushes Hope to her physical and mental limit to see if she will break, or whether she will accept her situation and succumbs to whatever it is that he wants.

Initially, of course, she resists which only results in the infliction of more suffering upon her. As time wears on though she starts to manipulate the situation to her benefit, although the whole time she is frantic for knowledge as to the whereabouts and welfare of her daughter, of whom she hasn’t seen since she got home from the date.

Broken is a savage movie that never really explains the motives of The Man, which for me only added to the desperate atmosphere created by the situation. Is he doing it for pleasure, or some higher purpose? Why did he choose her?

At times it is incredibly violent, you’ll wince quite a few times whilst watching this, but that never gets in the way of the relationship between captive and captor. This is down to great performances from the two leads; Eric Colvin as the cold calculated captor, and Nadja Brand as the target of his malice. The only time the movie suffered for me was with the introduction of another captive, who intentionally, was as annoying as fuck.

This is also a beautifully shot movie, the use of light and darkness during some of the scenes contrasting perfectly and further adding to the atmosphere.

No doubt Broken will get lumped in with the so-called, and fucking horrendously named, torture porn genre, thanks in part to a misleading quote on the cover which claims that it makes Saw look like a children’s film. The fact of the matter is that it is worlds away from the games of Jigsaw in its tone and style. Sure, you could see the odd similarity in terms of the odd scene of violence, but these are two totally different entities. For me I look at the Saw flicks as fun, Broken is not fun at all, bloody good for sure, but not fun. The violence in this movie will be felt by the viewer that is for sure.

If you like movies that don’t give you all the answers then I heartily recommend this quality English movie; Writer/directors Adam Mason and Simon Boyes are names to keep an eye on in the future.

Visceral, emotional and shocking, this is one impulse purchase that I am glad I picked up.

Rating: 3 stars

Review by Jude Felton

November 24, 2009

Season of the Witch (2010) - Synopsis and Trailer

Official Synopsis:

Lionsgate's supernatural thriller, SEASON OF THE WITCH, stars Nicolas Cage as medieval knight Behmen who undertakes a mission pitting him against an devious witch and making him the last hope for the world against an ancient and dark force. His faith broken by years of battle as a crusader, Behmen returns to central Europe to find his homeland decimated by the Black Plague. While searching for food and supplies at the Palace at Marburg, Behmen and his trusted companion, Felson (Ron Perlman) are apprehended and ordered by the dying Cardinal to deliver a young peasant girl ­ believed to be the witch responsible for the Plague ­ to a remote abbey where her powers can be destroyed. Behmen agrees to the assignment but only if the peasant girl is granted a fair trial. As he and five others set off on this dangerous journey, they realize with mounting dread that the cunning girl is no ordinary human, and that their mission will pit them against an evil that even in these dark times they never could have imagined.

November 18, 2009

Pipe Wrench (2009)

Sometimes when watching a movie I get the feeling that the makers behind it have taken a very simple idea, and stretched it into a feature length movie. This does work on occasion, and sometimes it doesn't. However, I find nothing is more frustrating than wading through what seems like hours of filler just to get to the main point of the movie. Leave the audience wanting more rather than have them fall asleep.

With Pipe Wrench the makers get in, do their damage, and then get out quick sharpish. Leaving as they do many questions that could be answered in later movies, if they so desired. This short movie only runs to just over 10 minutes or so, but it does the job, and does it well.

The plot of Pipe Wrench follows a married couple as they are traveling through the night. Unfortunately for them they have car troubles and hope to find a garage in which to get said problems fixed. Luckily they come across Tripp (William C. Fox) at his remote, stuck in the ass end of nowhere, garage. He quickly offers to put them up for a few hours whilst he takes a look at their vehicle. Unluckily for them Tripp is also a raving loon who believes his purpose in life is to cleanse peoples sins before they visit the Almighty. His method of cleasing? You guessed it, a huge bloody pipe wrench.

It's short, it's sweet and I actually wanted to see more of this movie. The character of Tripp was wonderfully portrayed by Fox, his delivery of his dialogue was spot on. Which is just as well as he has most of dialogue in Pipe Wrench. The supporting cast, of which there are just four, all do their jobs well enough, but it is Tripp that steals the show.

All isn't rosy though with this movie though. Saying that though most of the problems I had with it would appear to be technical flaws, as opposed to the story itself. At times the lighting seemed a little on the dark side, especially the scenes involving the initial journey to Tripps garage. As well as this the sound mix seemed to fluctuate between too high and too low. Some of the dialogue gets a little lost in the mix in places. That being said, these are issues that can be ironed out in later productions.

Overall though I found Pipe Wrench to be an enjoyable little flick. Director Brad Case seems to have a good eye for shots and never lets the violence get in the way of the story. It is violent in places, but it isn't all that graphic. In fact my favorite scene is right near the end where he lets the viewers imagination conjure up what happens. You'll know when you see it.

Short, sharp and to the point, Pipe Wrench is a good short flick that hopefully hints at a promising future for all those involved.

Rating 3 stars

Review by Jude Felton

Blood and Guts Productions Website

Pipe Wrench Trailer from Shane Michaels on Vimeo.

October 28, 2009

Hanger (2009)

Click here for my review @ Fatally Yours

October 25, 2009

Saw VI (2009)

Click here for my review @ Wildside Cinema

July 29, 2009

The Uninvited (2009)

It is always difficult to watch, and then review, a movie that is a remake without thinking about the original. This is a lot harder to do when you are a fan of said original flick. However, this isn't a review of the 2003 Korean flick A Tale of Two Sisters, which in itself was a masterclass of dread and terror, so I am not going to reference that flick any more. Suffice to say that I am sure that The Uninvited wasn't made with the fanbase of A Tale of Two Sisters in mind. Instead this was aimed squarely at a mainstream audience. Well, as mainstream as I suppose you can go with this. Fuck, it got a wide theatrical release, so I am guessing the film company wasn't banking on this being seen by Billy No Mates and his lack of mates. Moving on...

Anna has spent ten months in a psychiatric facility after the accidental death of her ill mother. Now her doctor feels she is ready to head home and resume her life with her father and sister Alex. Upon her release she soon discovers that Rachel, the nurse who had been caring for her mother, is now living with the family as her father's girlfriend, obviously making the old boy a very happy man.

Whilst in hospital Anna suffered from nightmares about that fateful night, nightmares that seem to continue on her release. Only now it seems that these nightmares/visions or whatever they are, are trying to tell Anna something. They are trying to tell her that Rachel is to blame for everything that has happened.

The Univited is a nice flick to look at; the setting is gorgeous. The score is decent too, along with the majority of the performances. However, there's always a however, this flick seemed to crawl along for the first two-thirds. Yes, I did know what was going to happen, but that isn't the point. It just seemed sedated to me. The scares, if you want to call them that never seemed to hit the right notes and it just played out like any number of films of this type. It felt to me as though the filmmakers were just happy to amble along until the finale.

Fortunately the latter third of The Univited almost made up for what had gone before as it was well executed.

Ok, so now I am going to go back on what I wrote earlier and mention the source material of The Tale of Two Sisters. If you are a fan of that, and yes I am, then you might be disappointed that the subtlety of that flick was sorely lost in translation. But, as remakes go it's not a bad one. If you've not seen that movie and watch this oblivious to the fact that it is a remake I think you will get far more from it, as it is a well made movie for the most part.

Would I watch it again? Probably not. This is a rental, one off kind of flick but not one that I regret watching.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Review by Jude Felton

July 23, 2009

Lights Camera Dead (2007)

My review for the Indie flick Lights Camera Dead can be found here

July 8, 2009

Overdue update

Well well, it's been awhile since I added anything here. However, I soon hope to get back into the swing of things. I have a shitload of reviews to catch up on, with both movies and novels on the agenda.

In the meantime I'm looking forward to grabbing myself a copy of the fantastic Spanish flick [REC] which hits DVD July 14th, along with these upcoming movies...

Blood: The Last Vampire (Limited Theatrical July 10th)
Orphan (Theatrical July 24th)

The Collector (Theatrical July 31st)