Friday, 23 December 2016

Review: Midnight Meat Train (2008)

Stars: Vinnie Jones, Bradley Cooper

Budget: 15 million

Directed By: Ryuhei Kitamura

When a photographer hoping to break it big is tasked
by a top art collector to capture the real streets he is drawn into a murderous underworld.
Except there's more to it than first meets the eye!

Like the poster says this is one of the best adaptation of a book i've seen. Ok it didn't do to well but that's probably because of the age rating at the time and it being a lesser known title from an ex mainstream author.
If released a few years back on the success of Hellraiser it may have well done better. Except this is now relegated to 'almost' B-movie status.

I say almost because it has a semi decent cast coupled with poor poor CGI effects and a great story to work from. I remember reading midnight meat train a good number of years ago, hot on the back of the damnation game (also a a fantastic story, probably my favorite Barker book ever) and i was well impressed with it even after the massive up that was Damnation.
So Vinnie Jones plays what first appears to be a crazy subway killer called Mahogany, albeit with super strength, un-killable and un-phasable.
Bradley plays a not well off amateur photographer (Leon) that is pretty new to the business but very good at what he does, except that he flees danger quite easily. Trying to break his trend in this one night he actually stops some thugs attacking a woman.
When she is later killed by the killer (Mahogany) her disappearance is all over the news the next day. Thinking it the gang he goes to the police but actually gets fingered as a suspect of sorts, when there's no solid evidence this pisses him off. He then goes about researching missing persons in the city, leading him to Mahogany who he proceeds to photograph and the police still don't believe his stories. They just suspect him even further for being near the murder scenes.

His following slowly becomes an obsession, not helped by an offer to to get into the higher ups of the art world spurns him on to keep photographing these scenes. He then witnesses lots of killings and mutilations on the subway one night and falls unconscious waking up in a meat processing plant with a weird arcane symbol carved into his chest. You see both mental and physical changes happen to him. One being at the beginning of the film he is a vegan and a very loving boyfriend to his girlfriend Maya. He starts to eat meat and act and have violent sex with Maya.

Maya finally has enough and goes with a friend to check out the killers apartment they find that everything Leon has said is true. Maya's friend is killed and she barely escapes herself. Going to the police they don't believe her story, it started around this time that we suspect the police connection goes a little further than we think.
Leon once and for all decides to properly confront the butcher, unknown to him Maya was also on the train. A big fight breaks out between Leon and Mahogany, as he tries to protect Maya. It's a good fight too. Mahogany using brute strength Leon more lithe and cunning.
They finally come to the end of the line and Mahogany is thrown from the train, when Leon finishes him off with a knife through the head we learn the deep dark secret that everyone has been trying to hide. Now you know i don't spoil stuff so i can't tell you. Because despite some very dodgy CGI and some iffy moments this is a great adaptation of the short story from the books of blood.
There's just enough difference and expanded things to make it it's own movie too, so by far a perfect movie but if you like suspense and mystery in your supernatural thrillers this is definitely worth your time to watch.

THN awards Midnight Meat Train 3/5 Stars with a recommend to watch.

THN Top 5: Michael Myers Kills

Ah my second favourite masked serial killer the slightly less stronger and just as invincible Mr Shatner mask himself. Michael Myers. Despite that he's had some pretty gruesome kills over the course of his 8 movie (original series).
Listed here are my top five favourite kills of his:

5. Karen the nurse from Halloween 2 is at number 5 here there it's close here because this is nasty, but to me just a little justified, instead of looking after babies she goes for a bit of nookie with her fella Budd in the Jacuzzi. Unfortunately he's also been dispatched. Micheal turns up the heat in the Jacuzzi and boils Karen like a ham, flaps of floppy skin and all as she's cooked to death then thrown to the floor.

4. John Strode in Halloween 6 a relative of Micheal Myers checks out the old house basement he then impaled by our killer. Not only that he's rammed into the fuse box and does the electric jig until he begins to burn like a forgotten roast only for his head to explode.

3. Robert the unwitting boyfriend from Halloween 1 this one disturbs me more than it should I feel. Robert goes for some requested items yet you can see he knows something is up then bam Mikey nails him up on the wall/door with a chef's knife. Then to add to that Michael stares at the lad like a lost puppy does, maybe surprised by his own strength who knows

2. So Robert was sent to get some items, yes still Halloween 1 his girlfriend phones Laurie to explain what a great night their having, then she thinks it's Robert in a sheet pretending to be a ghost. It's not it's Michael and he garrotes the hapless girl while she's on the phone, with the phone wire!
The thing that's nasty is Laurie just thinks the poor girl is being naughty with her fella and she just hangs up!

1. Lastly and yes sorry this is the same film again Halloween 1, but this is the ultimate kill and we are talking about young Michael killing his sister Judith, probably high/top on many people's list it's just it's the first kill done by a deranged kid from his point of view, introducing us to Michael in such a memorable way.
It is certainly the kill that you remember when thinking of the whole series.

Ok then so that's my top 5 kills, there's so many to choose from from the whole 8 films in the original series. Sorry that there's so many from part 1 but as probably the best in the series it does include some of the more memorable kills

Friday, 16 December 2016

Review: Series 1 Van Helsing

Kelly Overton, Jonathan Scarfe, Trezzo Mahoro

No. Episodes

Episode Length
44-47 mins

Van Helsing well here's a conundrum wrapped in a riddle, it's b-movie grade movie quality filming, acting and writing yet stretched over a series. It's a sci-fi channel thing which explains the b-movie grade quality things about this series.

This is also prevalent in their other series Z-Nation, except it seems to work better in there for some reason, maybe its the comedy or the lightheartedness of nation that helps. you know it doesn't take itself seriously. Van Helsing does unfortunately.
Now don't get me wrong this doesn't make it bad, bad but doesn't give it that level Z-nation has achieved. So that's some of the things that are wrong with this in my eyes, more to come on things wrong with this later.

Now people may think I dislike this show with my gripes and more to come, this isn't the case. Despite it's b-movie qualities and being a bit more serious than it should be it has some very interesting plots and story in it that are keeping me interested.
I want to know WHAT Vanessa is and i'm invested in it until i find out what it is. How did all this happen and why, there is some master plan here that seems like it was mostly explained at the end of season one but i think there's more to it.

So Kelly Overton is Vanessa Helsing she doesn't know it but she is a descendant of the vampire hunter Van Helsing, nor does it matter until a catastrophic volcano eruption throws loads of ash and pollutants obscuring the sun allowing the vampires to come out in the day time.
Vanessa had a husband and they have split for some reason, they have a daughter together and when the vampires attack one breaks into their apartment. Vanessa is bitten and tries to rescue her daughter before she passes out from blood loss and dies.
Unknown to her at the time she wakes up 3 years later well into a vampire controlled world, she is being guarded by Axel (Scarfe) a soldier who was assigned three years ago to watch over her until further orders. The doctor also assigned is locked up as she has been turned into a vampire, Axel feels some debt towards her as he thinks she got infected trying to save people.
Vanessa finally wakes up as vampires attack and we see she has amazing strength and later in the episodes find out that if she bites or is bitten by a vampire they turn back into a human.
Over the course of the series most of the first half is set inside the hospital and defending it, this is obviously to keep production costs down. survivors come and go and a few stay for quite a while (more on that later) the second half is outside discovering new places.
There are different vampire tribes that don't trust each other and are continuously trying to undermine each other. Even a brother and sister vampire duo who work against each other, one helping the human resistance to her own ends.
All the while Vanessa is mostly just focused on finding and saving her daughter, which is stretched out to all the way to the end of the season.

Now onto my biggest gripe about this show something that really bit into me (pun!) this show has obviously taken a leaf from the walking dead. In that it's taken the thing that a character death is a big thing, you know someone you get invested in someone you like and bang hole in your heart when they are inevitably greased by someone.
Van Helsing unfortunately does this literally over the top, it goes waaaay to far in the deaths department. You can't get invested in anyone because literally they die not a season later but two or three episodes later. I won't spoil who dies of course.
There are also people that do survive but it seems like the people you want to see more of get whacked before they get to expand.

So despite these gripes I think they do balance out with some occasional decent acting and interesting plot points. I'm going to invest in the second series and see where it goes, it doesn't seem to have done to well so maybe the second season is all we'll get. Give it a try though it's definitely worth giving it a chance just to see if you do like it, THN awards Van Helsing 3/5 stars.

Review: Series 1 Stan Against Evil

John C McGinley, Janet Varney, Deborah Baker Jr

No. Episodes

Episode Length

First off this series, it will and has been compared to Ash vs Evil dead, I think it has enough differences to be something itself though. McGinley has his own dry, angry and humorous way of acting. I've loved his acting style ever since Scrubs.
Don't compartmentalize him though he is a very good actor when not playing that type of character too. John must be invested in this as he is also a producer on the series. I think his character Stan is definitely the high point of the series and episodes. So enough gushing over that whats this series actually about?

Stan Miller (John) is a small town sheriff in New Hampshire, he is getting on in years and is a bitter leave me alone kind of guy even before his wife dies. So his wife, you see this town has a curse every sheriff before Stan has met a grisly end, unknown to Stan his wife has been killing the things trying to kill her husband.
Why is this i hear you ask?
Well a few hundred years ago the sheriff of the town put 173 women to death as witches, most of them were actually innocent of the crime so now they actually want revenge on all future sheriffs of the town. Unfortunately Stan's wife finally gets killed (seen in a later episode) and we see them at the funeral. When a crazy woman approaches Stan taunting him he goes a bit mad and attacks the old crone. Of course he causes a scene and gets 'retired' from his job as the sheriff.

We then meet Evie Barret (Janet), moved here to be the new sheriff of the town. It's not long before she learns of the curse and is attacked. Stan finally learns that his wife was protecting him all these years and the two team up against the evil witch of the first episode.
Evie is almost killed until Stan helps (reluctantly), the rest of the episode we meet deputy sheriff Drinkwater a guy totally inept at his job who never seems to do anything except be more comedy relief in the show.
There's also Stan's daughter Denise (Deborah) she's also thick and constantly comes up with stupid ideas for then situations they find themselves in. She sure is cute though!

So each episode is like witch/demon of the week with the overarching story of the past deaths, sheriff and the curse. everything from demon summoning flowers to life draining succubi.
Each episode will also deal with a small insignificant plot like dating or Stan getting an old signed hockey stick back. these episodes mostly gel well and the length of  22mins doesn't allow for much else.

This brings me to some bad points now, the episode length can be a bit short, 22 minutes is a short time to get everything in so some character progression is left out. Especially since there's also only 8 episodes. This isn't a bad thing as we do get some and by the end we generally know what we need for that season. I just hope the series stays on long enough so these small episode length and series size allows them to expand all the characters, universe and story they want to tell.

Secondly this is going to be compared to Ash vs Evil Dead no matter what, despite it being only the same in premise alone, you know fight an evil protagonist over the whole series with little monster of the week episodes with an older reluctant hero spurned on by younger more willing people.
I like this series it's not perfect there are sometimes drab writing and it shows.
THN awards Stan against Evil a strong four out of five stars with a recommendation to watch.

Friday, 9 December 2016

THN Top 5: Cold Horror/Thriller Films

Cold it's already a killer itself, but when some kind of maniac, alien creature or demon is added into the mix it becomes a dual edged knife then in more ways than one. Survive the cold and fight for your life, can you live through both?

5. 30 Days of Night
When an Alaskan town that loses all sunlight for 30 days is beset by vampires as well as cripplingly cold temperatures don't expect to survive for very long. The vampire in this film are not usual ones very feral and vicious in their ways. Yet thankfully very very susceptible to sun light. Was followed up with a sequel that was no way as good as this original.

4. Misery
When a successful writer has a car accident he is unexpectedly saved by what can only be described as his biggest fan. She is indeed big and things take a turn for the worst when she discovers that one of the books isn't going to go the way she expected. This film has some of the most wincingly nasty torture scenes I have seen. Also one of the few really well done King book to film adaptations I have seen.

3. Whiteout
Based on a comic book Kate Beckinsale is US Marshal assigned to watch over a small installation however once a frozen corpse is found and people start dying she must stay on to aid the survivors and help solve a 50 year old mystery that ends in more death.

2. Gremlins
Of course i couldn't miss this out could I?
When a young man is bought a mysterious new pet for Christmas it comes with 3 easy to follow rules
1. Don't get them wet.
2. Don't feed them after midnight
3. Don't expose them to bright light
Throughout the course of this comedy horror all three rules are broken it is truly is a must watch by all comedy and horror fans, especially in this holiday season.

1. John Carpenters, The Thing
This film without a doubt is to me one the masterpieces of film making, loosely based on an old black and white flick John took the idea of a frozen alien being in the most inhospitable places on the planet to the next extreme. The alien can mimic anyone suspense and paranoia ensue as everyone gets fingered out as the beast, with an ending as bleak and open ended as it could ever be. This still to this day stands at my top favorite film of its genre, good job!

Review: Jack Frost (1997)

Stars: Christopher Allport, Stephen Mendel

Budget: Unknown

Directed By: Micheal Cooney

Good lord this is one of them super low budget affairs that are either really bad, so bad their good or just a plain gem in the rough. Now Jack Frost not to be confused with the Micheal Keaton one or the short fat delboy type police inspector, has me split down the middle in how i feel about it.

It is at times so bad it's enjoyable but at others just downright terrible. I do believe like the gingerbread man it has a small modicum of followers. Except i wouldn't in my eyes alleviate it's standing to cult or indie status just yet. Anyway on with the actual film review.

So Jack Frost is a notorious serial killer, he is being transported across country to answer for his crimes when the truck transporting him collides with a chemical genetic truck.
He seemingly dissolves into the chemical slurry and it's announced that he died due to this. However a little while later Jack is able to reform his body into that of a snowman, the chemical bonded his DNA to the snow. He proceeds to go on another killing spree this time cold, frost and snow based. The town of Snowmonton is his target. Sam the town sheriff is still haunted by flashbacks of Jack despite his rumored death.

The typical thing happens that always happens in old or low budget films. People get killed no one believes the only or few people that see it happen then they get killed themselves. It's a time old and unfortunately worn formula that if done right can still work to a degree. That is not the case for Jack Frost, i know these people are meant to be over the top stupid it's something you do in comedy horror accentuate the tropes but this just takes it one step to far.

Which is the problem i had with this film if had been reeled in just this little bit, snip off that trope there a chip off that tired joke there i think this could truly be a cult classic of greater proportion than it already has accrued.
Some FBI agents arrive in town and proceed to set up a curfew, Shannon Elizabeth who also stars in this (strangely enough getting naked) has revenge sex with her boyfriend only for him to be killed and her rape killed in the shower by the nutty snowman. Se  where i mean over the top?

Jack Finally gets to the police station confronting Sam, then the one FBI agent reveals himself to be from the company who created the DNA acid that made Jack like he is. They explain some silly stuff about the DNA acid having many uses as it can hold the human soul. Then they finally confront Jack In a number of unsuccessful ways, talk about milking the evil guy coming back and then back, and back again. They try blowing him up with aerosols, just plain blowing him up, then melting him with hairdryers and a giant furnace.

Then Sam and his son get trapped, yet his son, the thick little boy has made him oatmeal with ANTIFREEZE in it to stop it getting cold, yeah right?
Well he somehow thinks its a great idea to throw this at Jack and low and behold the antifreeze hurts him. Sam makes Jack chase him and almost dies from an icicle in the chest when a miraculous truck of antifreeze is used to completely melt Jack, they then bottle him up and bury him.
One of the bottle is seen bubbling near the end ready for the inevitable and coming sequel that i know someday i'll have to watch 'cries a little inside'

You may have noticed i spoiled the ending that's so you don't have to go through watching this rubbish yourself, yet I haven't given this zero or even one star I've given it two!
Why? I hear you ask in wonderment, Because it's so bad it's almost good and if you really, really want to try it for yourself i won't deter you or say don't, just be weary and you might be one of those that actually enjoys it, i unfortunately was not, bye!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Review: Gremlins (1984)

Stars: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates

Budget: 11 Million

Directed By: Joe Dante

This has to be one of the most influential films from my childhood. I remember it was billed as a kids film but most definitely at its heart its a horror film.
The Gremlins though amusing are quite terrifying and do some very deadly things to the people of Kingston falls as you'll see in the review. Most would term this type of film a black comedy. Howie Mandel does the voice for the small creature called Gizmo, a Mogwai.

Randal Peltzer a travelling salesman, selling his own homemade inventions realizes he's late getting his son a Christmas present.
He's led by a small Chinese boy to his grandfathers curio store. He doesn't see anything initially and then when trying to sell the owner an item his attention is drawn to a small animal in a cage.
Unfortunately Mr Wing disagrees with Randal's offers for the creature. His grandson tells Randal To meet him out the back with the money. He does and gets the animal from Wing's Grandson, though there are three rules you must follow being the owner of a Mogwai. Rule one Don't get them wet, rule two don't feed them after midnight and rule 3 keep out of bright light, full on sunlight will kill him.

Billy Peltzer is Randals son and we see him being late for work and his dog following him there too. We then see Mrs Deagle strutting her way towards the bank. She's the main human protagonist of the film and something against Billy and his dog.
His dog has destroyed her expensive replica snowman and in the middle of her tirade Barney leaps from under the desk giving the woman a near heart attack. After all that trouble Billy heads home and is given the present by his dad, who has named him Gizmo. Billy's younger friend Pete comes around later (Cory Feldman) and accidentally spill water onto Gizmo. This spawns five more little Mogwai from Gizmo's back they seem a lot more hyper and rambunctious than Gizmo though, especially one with a white hair mohawk they call stripe.

Billy gives one of the creatures to his old high school science teacher, who quite cruelly experiments on the poor little chap. Both this mogwai and the rest at Billy's manage to eat after midnight the latter biting through the clock cord tricking Billy. They seal up in large green cocoons and Billy goes to see the science teacher who explains it's like a pupa stage.
The cocoons hatch while Billy is on his way back home, Hanson the teacher is murdered by his one and Billy's mum is terrorized until Billy gets back home. The all attack and kill the gremlins in a number of gross ways, all except Stripe who manages to escape out the window.

Stripe is chased to a nearby swimming pool who he jumps into the water and spawns hundreds of new gremlins. Billy runs escaping to the bank, we are then treated to Phoebe Cates character Kate who works at the local bar. The gremlins have taken over drinking, smoking and wreaking havoc while Kate tries to serve them drinks.
Meanwhile we see Mrs Deagle catapulted out of her top floor window sat upon her stair lift which was tampered with by the gremlins. Kate manages to escape the gremlins using a cameras flash bulbs to scare away the creatures.
She meets up with Billy and they both realise the town has gone quiet, singing draws them towards the cinema. Inside the whole gremlin force sits there watching snow white and the seven dwarfs.

They rig up for the gas to blow up the cinema and it does killing all the gremlins inside, unfortunately Stripe has once again evaded death as he was ransacking a sweet store. Once again he is chased by Billy and co into an apartment store. He uses an array of power tools and deadly implements to try and kill Billy until he finds another source of water.

So my Nation i'll leave it there because if you haven't seen gremlins, firstly where have been living under a rock? Secondly go, go watch it now, right now! It's really not worth me spoiling the end to this classic film it NEEDS to be watched. So please go ahead and i will just say this film has the correct mix of comedy and horror and hits all the right notes.
THN awards Gremlins the best 5 out of 5 stars with a go out and watch it now!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Festive films I'll be watching/reviewing this month

Small green demons spawn from a furry pet called a mogwai bought as a Xmas gift!

Black Christmas
A sorority house is plagued by scary phone calls only for the sisters to be murdered one by one!

Silent night, deadly night
When a young boys parents are murdered on Xmas years later he returns as a crazy killer Santa!

Jack Frost
A crazy killer dies and gets mixed with some chemicals and snow turning him into a merciless cold killer, oh dear....

Nightmare Before Christmas
Jack Skellington wondering around bored of his usual Halloween job finds the magical land of Christmas town and wants to make Xmas his own!

So this is my to do list for December what do you guys think of my choices and what will you doing to spooky up your festive season?