Thursday, 12 February 2015

Dario's Dracula Sucks ...

Dracula 3D
(2012 / Italy / France / Spain)

Director Dario Argento
With Thomas Kretschmann, Marta Gastini, Asia Argento,
Unax Ugalde, Miriam Giovanelli & Rutger Hauer

‘‘She was an angel. I am the monster !’’

Genre great Dario Argento returns to the Directors chair, this time seeking to infuse new blood
into the legend of, Dracula. A lot at stake then, with a later day career far fallen from the Giallo 
graces that placed him upon high.

Argento takes Dracula to a whole new dimension of terror. Not only in 3D, but also into the truly terrifying realm of over abundant, and poorly done CGI. Even Bela Lugosi would have had good cause to hide his face behind his cape at the dour effects that are applied here !. 

The stories premise is traditional Bram Stoker fare. Jonathan Harker is called into the employ of Count Dracula, to undertake the task to categorize his vast library. Within the confines of the counts castle’s domain, Harker falls victim to the entrapment of vampirism. His demise is swiftly inevitable, as is the arrival soon after of his wife Mina, to be by her husbands side. The true revealing purpose of Harker’s calling, by Dracula, to bring his beautiful wife to the region, for the blood sucking vampire to have her for his own. Mina’s countenance being the same as that of the one true love Dracula had, had centuries before. The smitten vampire convinced of Mina being the resurrected embodiment of his lover !. 

Dario Argento of old would have sunk his teeth into re-imaging the legend of Dracula. Relishing the prospect of enveloping his audience into an eye popping new way to literally splatter his eager patrons with gore and shocks aplenty, with the medium of 3D. Rather unfortunately though, this is the modern day shadow of the former maestro, as painful as that is actually to state !. Here the only pair of glasses that most watching will want to put on are those that come as a pair, with matching cane ! Dracula 3D is far from candy for the eyes, but more floss for a toothless lead, directed with neutered care for either performers or viewers !.

Incredibly poor in its updated translation, Dracula 3D actually relies heavily upon ripping scenes, and dialogue, from Universal’s Dracula 1932, Hammer’s Dracula 1958, and Francis Ford Coppola’s sterling remake from 1992. Even Unax Ugalde’s performance as Jonathan Harker looks more ‘Bill than Ted’ than Keanu Reeves’ ever did, and that too is far from ‘Excellent’ !. 

Thomas Kretschmann’s portrayal of Count Dracula here is as sterile as Doctor Kildare’s stethoscope. Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, and Gary Oldman all brought their own identity to the role of the literary blood sucker. Kretschmann gives a whole new meaning to lifeless performance. Ironic considering the role that he is playing, indeed !.

The film is not completely without its watchable moments, but they are few and far between. A few take notice gore scenes amongst the kills, and a quite entertaining scene in a tavern, where Dracula at last gets to display his bloody power to all who dare oppose him. Asia Argento displays her wares, and the star of the show, Rutger Hauer, appears in the final third act, as Abraham Van Helsing, to inject some life into the flagging proceedings. 

Dracula 3D isn’t even one of the so bad its good movies, unfortunately. If this was made by low budget film production studio, The Asylum, even their producers would ask for a rewrite and re-shoots !. Apply a humorous over dub and it is perfect late night fodder for Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Curiously though the film often has the look and feel of that of a porn film maker. So much so that with some inserted porn scene this could well work better as one of the many recent productions in the adult film market, as a Dracula XXX parody !. Whatever the case, this most definitely is not the second coming of Dario Argento !.  

Movie Rating: 4/10

Review by Paul Cooke / Source UK Pal Region 2 DVD

Dracula 3D (2012)
Director Dario Argento

With  Thomas Kretschmann, Marta Gastini, 
Asia Argento, Unax Ugalde & Rutger Hauer

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Post Apocalyptic Pitre Dish ...

Bounty Killer
(2013 / USA)

Director Henry Saine
With Matthew Marsden, Christian Pitre, Kristanna Loken,
Barak Hardley, Gary Busey & Beverly D’Angelo

‘‘You’re my fender bender’’

It’s 2042 and the world’s been laid to waste by feuding business corporations, suckled to excess on mother earth’s natural resources. Now the white collar criminals all have a price on their head for the crimes committed. Corporations are no longer king. In this future it pays to be a Bounty Killer, and the queen of the kill is … Mary Death !.

The Post Apocalyptic Action movie is back with a ‘B’ movie bang, and with more than just a blast from the past resurrected dust cloud. ‘Bounty Killer’ hits the waste ground running & doesn’t let off the gas throughout its smile inducing entirety. With a foundation of, ‘Mad Max: The Road Warrior’ (1982), the make up of, ‘Warriors Of The Wasteland’ (1983) & a deliciously doffing deference to, ‘Death Race 2000’ (1975), ‘Bounty Killer’, puts peddle to the metal in a post nuke pleasure pastiche, layered upon a spaghetti western platform & ladled up with lashings of blood letting, Action, Mayhem !. 

This neatly realized vision of a post apocalyptic landscape is enhanced with well integrated matte drawn back drops, and its mid movie sequence introducing the nomadic Gypsies, a tribe of professed cannibals and wild savages, as they chase after the protagonists into the wastelands, is a well layered example of such application. An action packed effects sequence well worth anticipating, but cross these Gypsies and your future will be swiftly predetermined !. 

The metal steed riding motorcycle horseman of the post apocalypse known as Drifter (Matthew Marsden), is a bounty hunter driven by his need for retribution and redemption. Himself once aligned within the ranks of the white collar free rollers, until the realization of the affect of the all consuming avarice eating away at the world, renounced the Corporation, and ever since the apocalyptic downfall tracks down the egotistical propriety among its surviving hub.

Drifter is the new age future version of Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name, but with the quirkier disposition akin to that of a dialogue dishing Rowdy Roddy Piper from, ‘They Live’ (1988). He may not be chewing gum, but he sure knows how to kick ass !. His ample array of fire power comes side kick supplied by his trusty gun caddy Jack LeMans (Barak Hardley), a jittery hanger on who bathes in the new world rock star limelight emitted by the bounty killers, but who soon earns Drifter’s respect. Caddying up shooting irons for the right range to take down the bad guys, stay the course, and bag the bounty. Drifter is a shooting iron pro, but he only gets his wood out for … Mary Death.

Feature movie newcomer, and super hot starlet of the future, Christian Pitre is the freeze frame bounty killer heroine babe of the piece, Mary Death. Sat back with a beverage in hand you’ll spill your juice as she hit’s the screen just before you do !. Blessed with a fabulous female form to unzip with your eyes and cry with joy as she kicks future butt like Barbarella working out to a Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do self instructional DVD. With knockout attributed curves and a pair of throat slicing spurs spinning on her heels, Mary Death is well christened, and the lord help all who cross her. This apocalyptic angel of death is a sex popsicle of perdition, dishing out a hell of a lot more than she takes a licking !.

Mary Death and Drifter are a formidable pairing as they join forces to purge the planet of the pre apocalyptic surviving cancer that is The Corporation. A still privileged society protected by the suited and booted armed militia of their matriarch, Catherine (Kristanna Loken). Her yellow tie wearing force headed up by chief cohort Van Sterling, played by the always watch able, out there antics of  a beguilingly bonkers Gary Busey. Kristanna Loken’s conceited bitch of a character wants Drifter back in her ranks, and everyone else outside of The Corporation society, Terminated !.

Based upon the Cool graphic novel of the same name, from Robert Kirkman’s (The Walking Dead) Kickstart Production stable, ‘Bounty Killer’ is very much a hyper Cool comic book page to screen translation that works supremely well. On screen graphics etch out indelible imagery to enhance the comic book Fun at opportune times throughout the film. Oft displayed bodily dismemberment, and siphons of blood, paint the screens canvas with such tongue in cheek rapture that even the staunchest of disbelievers viewing will revel in its wry intentions to successfully entertain. 

Matthew Marsden makes for a charming hero, and Christian Pitre a lethal, yet lovely heroine. Perfect casting all round & the end credit outtake reel shows just how much fun was had by all in the making of the film.

It has been all too long since a good Post Apocalyptic Action movie has come along, and, ‘Bounty Killer’ is a very good one indeed. Blessed with a decent budget, well done CGI effects and backdrops, along with some very well done practical effects to boot. The future of the Post Nuke movie is looking good, rallied as it was once before it seems, this time in the pre wake of a new, ‘Mad Max’ movie, with the highly anticipated, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ due out in (2015). 

Dig out your leathers, stock up on water & fuel, then saddle on up with Drifter & Mary Death for a Post Apocalyptic party that even Prince could not have foretold back in 1999 !.

Movie Rating: 7 /10

Review by Paul Cooke / Source Region 2 Blu-ray - German Steelbook Edition

Bounty Killer (2013)
Director Henry Saine

With Christian Pitre, Matthew Marsden, Kristanna Loken,
Barak Hardley, Gary Busey & Beverly D'Angelo

Monday, 4 March 2013

National Health Warning At ...

Horror Hospital
(1973 / UK)

''The Operation is a Success ... When the Patient Dies''

When a movie starts with its villain of the piece sat in the back of his stately car, replete with its own driver and a subservient dwarf, who gives the order to chase down two bloodied and frightened young people desperately fleeing for their lives, you know that your in for a pre politically correct experience. When that villain is a ghoulishly cast Michael Gough as a Dr. Frankenstein like surgeon, revelling in every scene at his unreservedness in such a maniacal role, that experience is guaranteed to be heightened.

Any movie starting with a scene showing a diabolical double decapitation by means of a devilishly deviant design of lethal retractable blade, attached to the roof side of a speeding car and initiated into lateral position at the press of a button, is deserving in its place of memorable opening moments. Up there with those great Hammer Horror sequences where Van Helsing chases down Count Dracula, recounting the closure of the previous movie and spawning the start of a new chapter. A bloody action packed introduction then to the deliciously dark humoured delights that unfold in … Horror Hospital !.

Jason Jones (Robin Askwith) is in need of a short break from his hectic job in the music industry, and so decides to spend a few days at a health retreat. On route by train to the Southern coast of England he meets up with a pretty young woman named Judy Peters (Vanessa Shaw). By coincidence she too is travelling to the same retreat in order to see her auntie. When the two get off the train at their destination the platform is desolate, and the area seems overly quiet and tranquil. They are met by the station manager who gives them directions. When they trek off by foot the station manager telephones the health hospital, and with a sinister precognition informs them to expect another two !.

The wryly dark vein of smile inducing humour flows throughout proceedings, in an anarchic, unrestrained irreverence to British societies nonchalance during the early Seventies. Everything is over the top, including the seemingly quite often adlibbed acting, and infectious for it in making the movie far more palatable than had it been done overtly serious.

At Brittle House Manor, Dr. Christian Storm (Gough) experiments on the health resort guests, performing a lobotomy upon them that leaves each person completely, and mindlessly under his control. Left in a Zombie like state, emotionless and unable to feel pain they are pawns at the command of Dr. Storm. His mark left upon them with a grisly head scar, and a deathly white pallor to the skin.

Jason Jones and Judy Peters are ensnared into Dr. Storm’s macabre world, and each readied for the same procedure. With Judy due next upon the insane doctors operating table it is up to Jason, aided by another young man appearing on the scene in search of his girlfriend, to overcome the bizarrely garbed personal guards, kitted out in motorbike leathers and safety helmets at all times, and save Judy from Dr. Storm’s maniacal experimentations !.

It’s all good, bloody, schlock British made Seventies horror at its best. One of those rarities that gets more camp, and more enjoyable with age. Ending on a suitably gory high in similar fashion to how it began, and unravelling the horrible secret behind a deformed creature, only previously glimpsed throughout the movie.

Horror Hospital is highly deserving of your ‘patience’, and well worth checking into. Just be sure to get prescribed the full incisive cut of the film before undertaking such movie medication !.

Movie Rating: 6/10

Review by Paul Cooke / Source UK PAL Region 2 DVD

Horror Hospital (1973)
Director Antony Balch

With Michael Gough, Robin Askwith & Vanessa Shaw

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Ebay VHS Goodness

Ebay Auction VHS Movies
(November 2011)

Pre-Christmas VHS Crackers up for Auction, and what a surprise package to be pulled, with nary a Turkey in sight :) .

Japanese VHS Originals, Greek Rarities and some UK PAL video Action flicks from the glorious Eighties. There's The Good, The So Bad They're Good, and the Ugly ducklings that to some are Swans in disguise, resplendent in their goofiness, absurd and downright fabulous :) .

Please do check out some of the Original cover art from titles on offer, and as always these are true scans of what are actually being offered in the Auction.

Explosive Eighties Action !. From the Karl Landgren lunge to the Maurizio Merli slap down. Gung Ho Goodness, Post Apocalyptic Fantasy & Brutal Spaghetti Western rareness, to politcally incorrect Euro / Italian Seventies Crime flicks, all looking for a good home at a fair price.

Thank you in advance to all who take the time to check the Auctions out, and a Huge Thank You particularly to those that place a bid.

Good luck, and hopefully there is something for all who stop by the Ebay express :) .

Thank You

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Sign Up For The Death Corps ...

Shock Waves
(1977 / USA)

‘‘The sea spits up what it can’t keep down’’

Nazi SS Zombie death troopers rise up from a watery grave to seek vengeance upon their creator. Programmed to kill, and created to overcome any terrain, in any condition or circumstance, these unyielding harbingers of devastation are the apocalyptic abominations of biblical prophecies. Enhanced evolutionary killing machines, these un-dead soldiers of war are the ultimate evocation of evil. They are the F├╝hrer’s Death Corps !.

Aberrations genetically designed in experimental laboratories at the end of World War II. Brought into being by the maniacal minds of Nazi SS scientists, instructed to create a super soldier. A remorseless killing machine in the image of man, but born from the manipulated DNA structure of reanimated human hosts.

The movie begins with a small private boat, captained by horror stalwart John Carradine, out on the ocean with a small compliment of crew and a handful of paying vacationers, including a very young and cute Brooke Adams. As night falls the boats occupants witness an unusual light array emanating from the ocean bead, explained away by the cranky old sea faring captain as a barometric anomaly. Later, into the sleeping hours, the boats night watchman and a sleepless Brooke Adams are startled by what appears to be a very large freighter ship bearing down upon them. Their small boat is hit, but the only trace of what caused the incident is a ghostly outline of a sunken wreck witnessed beneath the sea upon the next days dawn breaking.

With a damaged ships hull the occupants of the boat row ashore to a close by remote island in order to seek assistance. Mysteriously, the captain of the vessel has disappeared during the night. As the small party feel land beneath their feet, upon safely arriving upon the island, they are soon taken aback at the discovery of the captains lifeless body washed up upon the beach. John Carradine’s atypical movie cameo appearance, during this stage of his very long career, meets cessation with the death of his character with no apparent cause !?.

Right from the off Shock Waves ripples with atmosphere and a terrific sense of real tangibility, as if you are alongside the on screen characters experiencing what they are. Great credit to Director Ken Wiederhorn for bringing out sound performances from his ensemble of both seasoned actors, and fledgling stars of the future. His creativity in bringing the best from what is essentially a basic storyline, and delivering to his audience a finished product that refreshingly rewards well above expectations.

Peter Cushing appears on screen when the bedraggled island crashers arrive upon his doorstep. A run down old hacienda styled hotel that Cushing’s character, of a reclusive ex SS commander, resides in alone, living out the final days of a life that is clearly racked with memories of a past that haunts him.

Italian horror icon Lucio Fulci may well have been influenced by Shock Waves for his 1979 classic Zombie gore onslaught, Zombie Flesheaters. The gathered party of people, gathered in a run down haven upon a remote island, following boat trouble, is the very same scenario. Uncannily representative of the cult Euro directors memorable moments is when the first un-dead SS death corps officer rises up from his watery grave, and traverses across the ocean bed. Fulci added a shark attack to his underwater Zombie, but the general scene resemblance is most notable.

The visualisation of the German SS soldiers emerging up out of their watery grave is as memorable as that of the knights templar shuffling to the shore, after their ghostly galleon is raised to the bottom of the ocean after being engulfed by fire, in the Spanish horror classic Ghost Ships Of The Blind Dead (1974). An eerie image of the living dead, fatigued in full SS uniform, and oversized protective eye goggles adorning their countenance.

Seeking a way off the island, and pressing for answers as to the SS commanders past, the people from the boat are warned to stay away from the water, and to leave the island as soon as possible. Peter Cushing delivers a fine performance as a scarred former cog to the might of the Nazi wheels of war. He reveals his past and foretells of the impending attack upon them all by his creations. Describing them as the most vicious and blood thirsty of all of the SS divisions. His creations are a group of commandos designed specifically to acclimatise under water. The Death Corps are neither dead, nor alive, but somewhere in between. Towards the end of the second world war they were dropped into war zones and let loose upon the enemy, and anyone that was unfortunate enough to cross their path. With the war lost the SS commander sent his ship, and its cargo of Death Corps soldiers, to a watery grave at the bottom of the ocean. Now time has turned the tide and his progenies have reawakened from their watery internment, and their killer programming has not altered !.

The final third of the film is about survival against the re-emergent un-dead soldiers of death, and Peter Cushing’s time of atonement against his creations.

Shock Waves proves to be an effective horror that has not been diminished with the passing of time since its first release. A genuine cult piece that is deserving of being rediscovered by a modern audience. Refreshingly free of CGI, and needless excesses of blood and gore, yet simply and effectively resplendent in its consummate horror traditions.

Movie Rating: 7/10

Review by Paul Cooke / Source UK PAL Region 2 DVD

Shock Waves (1977)
Director Ken Wiederhorn

With Fred Buch, Brooke Adams, Peter Cushing,
Jack Davidson, Luke Halpin, D.J. Sidney,
Don Stout & John Carradine