I Saw The Devil


Director: Jee-woon Kim (2010)
Starring: Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi, Gook-hwan Jeon
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi) is a dangerous psychopath who gets his kicks raping, murdering and beheading women. But when he murders Joo-yeon, daughter of a retired police officer, it seems he might have bitten off more than he can chew. Her fiancee, see, is like a Korean version of James Bond. Secret agent Soo-hyun (Byung-hun Lee) dedicates himself to hunting down Kyung-chul and repeatedly torturing the bastard wherever he may be. You'd almost feel sorry for the downcast, battered serial killer - but, well, he is a serial killer.

I Saw The Devil is a fantastic serial killer movie. Oldboy's Min-sik Choi is mesmerising in the role of the killer, ably supported by Byung-hun Lee (from GI Joe fame, but don't hold that against him). There's bone-crunching, squeam-inducing violence and tremendously well coordinated fight scenes. The pace and subject matter puts me in mind of The Chaser, but with everything taken up a notch. Where The Chaser was a redemptive tale of Pimp vs Serial Killer, I Saw The Devil is a classic revenge story with plenty of heart and a revolting villain you'll enjoy watching being kicked about repeatedly.

And if this film's anything to go by, South Korea is full of serial killers. At one point, Soo-hyun is fighting three at once. He becomes like a vigilante who only fights multiple murderers, the Batman to Kyung-chul's Joker. There's an exciting fight scene every twenty minutes, followed by torture and kill scenes at regular intervals inbetween. Some of it is cathartic, most of it terribly yucky. Even I looked away at one point, and I have a very strong constitution.

I Saw The Devil is a great movie with super action, a clever story and a fantastic set of performances from its leading men. I saw I Saw The Devil and loved it.

127 Hours


Director: Danny Boyle (2010)
Starring: James Franco, Dwayne Johnson.
Find it: IMDB

Silly outdoors idiot Aron Ralston (Franco) falls down a hole and gets his hand stuck under a rock. The main selling point of the movie being that he cuts his hand off in the end. It's a good job that Danny Boyle knows how to direct a film, because most movies suck when you know what happens in the end. Case in point, Titanic.

Ralston is an excitement-seeker who takes off canyoneering in Utah, alone and without telling anyone where he's going. He's distracted by a pair of hotties (Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn) who invite him to a party before he runs away again and falls down a hole. He's followed down his hole by a rock (The Rock, almost unrecogniseable beneath all that heavy makeup) what crushes his hand and traps him there. It's really hot and Ralston has very little to eat or drink. All he does have is a handheld videocamera, some climbing rope and a blunted multitool. Not even a Leatherman.

127 Hours is a true story, based on the real life experience of Aron Ralston, who recounts it in his book Between A Rock And A Hard Place (GET IT). People like Ralston miff me royally off, since I used to work in an outdoorsy shop and had to deal with his sort all day. People with a passion for the outdoors are generally quite annoying and arrogant and go around falling down holes and dying outside of abandoned buses, but only when they're not asking me stupid questions about vegetarian shoes and bragging about how many holidays they've been on this year. Aside from Ralston being a bit of a pain in the ass to begin with, it's easy to empathise with his position. It's a great question, too. Could you bring yourself to cut your own hand off with a blunt knife? 127 Hours is like an avant-garde remake of Saw.

Danny Boyle is an expert director, and ensures it's never boring or slow. To be fair, if Boyle can make a film about a guy winning Who Wants To Be A Millionaire good, you best be sure he knows how to make a guy cutting his hand off seem tense. And icky, too. It's not as faint-inducing as its publicity might have you believe, but you'll definitely go "ooh."

Hatchet II


Director: Adam Green (2010)
Starring: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Parry Shen
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

Picking up scene-for-scene where the original Hatchet left off, we find Marybeth (Harris) trying to escape the grubby clutches of Victor Crowley (Hodder). Despite all odds, she gets away, so traumatised that she's inexplicably turned into Danielle Harris from off've Halloween. She escapes the swamp and finds her way to Reverend Zombie (Todd), the man who apparently knows why Victor has such a grudge against her and her family.

In a case of blatant sequel syndrome, Marybeth decides that she needs to go back into the swamp to finish off Victor and recover the bodies of her dead father and brother (killed in the opening moments of Hatchet, if you'll recall). Zombie agrees, putting together a crack team of Hillbillies and guns-for-hire, offering them money for Victor Crowley's head. Along the way, another welcome flashback to Papa Crowley (Hodder) and some further family history. There's a voodoo curse and again, I wanted just to give ol' Crowley Sr. a big hug. Poor bastard had a life as miserable as Amanda Kreuger's or that of Mike Myers's stripper mom.

If you hated the first Hatchet, then you'll find nothing to change your mind in Hatchet II. The characters are all unsubtle screamers. Even the dodgy pacing issues are there. But the inventiveness of the kills has been improved. There's no two deaths the same, with a whole variety of tools unloaded into Crowley's victims' unsuspecting faces. Harris is a slightly blander brand of heroine than the predecessor's Tamara Feldman, but she's mostly kept out of the way in favour of the cannon-fodder characters. Parry Shen returns as the twin of the previous movie's Shawn (very Crank 2, that) and Tony Todd's role is vastly enbiggened. Never mind Danielle Harris, he's the true hero of Hatchet II.

It's a fantastic bit of schlock and awe. Heaps of fun and with plenty of gore and inventive kills, Hatchet II is a brilliant bit of fast-food slasher nonsense. You wouldn't want it for every meal, but it feels very good in small doses.

Hatchet


Director: Adam Green (2006)
Starring: Joel David Moore, Kane Hodder, Tamara Feldman
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

Right up there with The Tripper as my favourite slasher movie of the noughties, Hatchet strands a group of tourists in the middle of a New Orleans swamp and pits them against Kane Hodder in dungarees. I don't fancy their chances much, especially since Hodder is playing an even more pissed off version of Jason Voorhees here.

What it lacks in originality, Hatchet more than makes up for with guts and gore. The spurting wounds and decimated carcasses put me in mind of Braindead. It's slower paced and less funny than that movie, but when the action kicks off there's the same sense of splatter and damp violence. Joel David Moore is the film's Scream Queen, as dejected rebounder Ben. Attempting to recover from a traumatic breakup, he heads off on a lads' holiday with some chums. Together with best pal Marcus (Deon Richmond) he signs up for a 'haunted swamp tour' as suggested by Tony Todd's Reverend Zombie (with a cameo from Robert Englund in the opening scene, Hatchet is all about the horror icons). Little do they know that the tour is heading right into the playground of tragic nutter Victor Crowley.

It's a divisive film, and I can see why. It's oddly paced, with most of the action occurring towards the end. Some of the characters could be construed as annoying, with everyone but Moore playing it over the top and chewing scenery like Hannibal Lecter at a nudist beach. There's no room for subtlety here; very little stalking but lots of slashing. If anything, Crowley's too efficient, tearing his victims to shreds almost as soon as he appears. The pacing in the last twenty or so minutes is frenetic. Hatchet is the heavy metal song of slasher movies; all shouting and swearing and crashing drums and then it's over.

And in the middle, Kane Hodder reveals some surprising acting chops. There's a really nice flashback sequence - probably the best scene in the whole film - in which we see Hodder, as Victor's Dad, showing his shonkily-faced son some love, before he accidentally puts a hatchet through said shonky face. I really wanted to give Kane Hodder a hug here. It's the sorriest I've felt for him since he got the sack from Freddy vs Jason in favour of Sad Jason. In an otherwise throwaway movie (fun as it is, Crowley is no icon) this origins story holds up to any Freddy or Jason. It's a wonderful idea.

Hatchet isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it certainly is mine. It's fun, funny and tremendously gory in the very best way. And the best bit is, they made a sequel that's even better.

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes


Director: Rupert Wyatt (2011)
Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto, Malfoy
Find it: IMDB

Having learnt nothing from 28 Days Later, James Franco experiments on chimpanzees, injecting them not with rage but with clever juice. Planet of the Apes ensues. Will Rodman (Franco) injects a test monkey with a strain of virus that allows the brain to heal itself. Not only does he hope it will cure his father's (Lithgow) Alzheimer's, but it makes the monkey darn smart too. But after Test Monkey goes apeshit and is killed whilst destroying a boardroom and attacking those present, Will's project is rubbished. All looks hopeless. And then Will discovers that Test Monkey had a son. Will adopts the thing, calling it Caesar and bringing him home. Caesar, though, is a very clever monkey, even going so far as to get James Franco a date. In your face, Nim Chimpsky.

I've not seen a Planet Of The Apes film in years, and even then nothing beyond the Charlton Heston original and the Tim Burton atrocity. The Burton remake is particularly confusing in that I truly had the hots for Helena Bonham Carter as an ape.


There are no sexy apes in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, although it is effortlessly a better movie than Burton's. Whilst it's not as good as the Heston original, this prequel has a few bits new to the franchise and a sense of intelligence missing from most other blockbusters. It's set in almost present day, on an Earth still ruled by humans. As humans go, James Franco and John Lithgow are jolly good ones. You'll really get to feel for their plight as the movie progresses. As a threesome, Will, Rodman Sr and Caesar become a very sweet family unit. They're eventually joined by a mostly pointless Freida Pinto love interest, who plays a cute vet. Shit gets real as Caesar begins to question his origins, eventually leading to his incarceration in monkey prison. Monkey prison, by the way, is ruled by Brian Cox and Draco Malfoy.


Poor Malfoy, typecast so young. Malfoy plays Malfoy, but with pubes and an American accent. He terrorises Caesar and the other monkeys so hard that you'll have started to side with the apes by the time that the third act rolls about. Aside from the Rodmans, Pinto and a chubby scientist, the humans in this movie are all pretty unsympathetic. Andy Serkis's Caesar is the most sympathetic character in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.

This despite some iffy CGI. Much has been made of the motion capture and CGI technology in this film, but not once was I convinced that I was watching real apes. And honestly, I liked the crappy makeup in the previous Apes films. Still, it has its moments. I particularly enjoyed the creepier scenes, like the chimps' parliament in monkey prison. The action, whilst delayed, is very well done. I'd have been quite happy to sit through a two hour movie in which the apes do nothing but trash the place. There are nice little touches too, referencing the Heston original. I had genuine shivers at one particular, climactic moment.

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is an invigorating shot up the arse for a franchise dulled by cheap sequels and Mark Wahlberg. A good modern Planet Of The Apes movie. God help them, they finally did it.

The Caller


Director: Matthew Parkhill (2011)
Starring: Rachelle Lefevre, Stephen Moyer, Luis Guzman, Lorna Raver
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

A psycho-stalker thriller with a twist this, in that The Caller has its persecuted protagonist stalked via the telephone, courtesy of a woman living in the past. It's like that Dennis Quaid movie if Dennis Quaid had gone around threatening to make people not exist. But like every hottie worth her salt, Mary (Lefevre) has a number of people staking out her flat. There's an abusive ex-husband and a burgeoning romance with hunky Stephen Moyer from off'a True Blood. I suppose he beats the usual class of vampire she's been known to hang about with, although I didn't realise how short Stephen Moyer was until now. Also, Luis Guzman does his nice-but-dim routine as a genial gardener.

Moving into her new apartment building after a messy breakup, Mary is perturbed when her landline refuses to stop ringing. She's even more confused when the person at the other end of the line claims to be Rose, literally living in the past. Initially, Mary plays along. But when she tries to break off contact with clingy Rose, things get a bit sinister. See, this is why I never answer my landline. It only ever seems to be cold-callers or a whingeing grandparent. Rose is the ultimate nuisance call. Even her voice is a pain in the ass.

The concept is very well done here, especially the scenes in which Mary is physically attacked by Rose, despite not even living in the same century as her antagonist. There's a real sense of threat to the later scenes, and a disturbing moment or two buried beneath all the melodrama. It's a fun movie, well-acted by all involved and directed in a cracking manner by Matthew Parkhill. It's quick paced with a good line in tension, thrills and spills. This Caller is one I'm very glad I picked up.

30 Days Of Night: Blood Trails


Director: Victor Garcia (2007)
Starring: Trip Hope
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

A prequel miniseries to the hit 30 Days Of Night movie, Blood Trails is utterly ruined by its presentation on DVD. Fair enough, I bought the thing in Poundland (for guess how much) but I can see no reason why they'd keep its TV series format and not edit all the episodes together into a semi-coherent film. Each episode is no more than ten minutes long, meaning that every ten or so minutes, you get a 'next time on Blood Trails' and two credit sequences. Even when you just skip the bastards with your remote, it's incredibly distracting. I can remember less about the film or the story and far too much being pissed off.

Blood Trails is about a recovering drug addict named George (Hope), who earns a living by running silly little errands for a covert gang of vampire hunters. He stumbles across a coded message from the vampires, planning something very big on a very specific date. Those who have seen 30 Days Of Night will recognise this as the vampires' attack on Barrow. But (SPOILER) since nobody comes to the rescue in 30 Days Of Night, you'll also know that this information will lead to nobody's salvation. There's about one gory vampire attack per episode, a guy who looks like Harry Knowles bites it, and Josh Hartnett at no point makes an appearance. As an Easter Egg, it's fine. As a prequel or feature in of itself, Blood Trails is inconsequential. The vampires still look and sound awesome, and there are some good moments of nasty violence, but the plot is less original than even Dark Days.

Passable as it might be, it's ruined by its own presentation and rendered more hassle than it's ultimately worth.

5150 Elm's Way


Director: Eric Tessier (2009)
Starring: Marc-Andre Grondin, Normand D'Armour, Sonia Vachon
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

A bit of French kitchen sink horror, this, with an emphasis on chess and mindgames. 5150 Elm's Way plays like Mum & Dad meets Dexter with a bit of The Hamiltons thrown in to boot. Cycling around looking like Justin Long, film student Yannick (Grondin) falls face first off his bike and limps over to a neighboring house in search of help. He meets taxi driver Jacques (D'Amour) who appears initially friendly but then kidnaps the poor kid and locks him away in a dingy room. After several kerfuffles and the usual false escape then recapture malarky, Jacques presents Yannick with a proposition: beat him at chess, go free. Game on.

Elements of 5150 Elm's Way feel way too familiar and predictable. Yannick makes a number of breaks for freedom over the course of the film, and every time I knew he would fail. Every times he takes up arms to fight Jacques and his family, there's a feeling that you know he's doomed to fall. Spoiler by the way. But then there are elements of originality that make this interesting and well worth one's time. I never thought that a series of chess matches could be taut and thrilling and tense but director Eric Tessier pulls it off. Writer Patrick Senecal's script makes the chess matches account for something - like there's really something at stake - well assisted by the director and the film's two leads.

Those stakes keep rising, the tension building. As Jacques unveils his custom-made chess set, his mind begins to unravel. Yannick too, looks to be losing his mind. There are trippy hallucinations to go with all the chess and some genuine shocks in the final act. Not being your typical bit of Hollywood dross, it even has subtexts and things. Jacques becomes something of a surrogate father to Yannick, albeit in the worst way. Partnered with Jacques's wonderful moustache, this makes it well worth one's time. 5150 Elm's Way is a clever, tight bit of Gallic horror that might skimp on the gore but certainly doesn't do so with its thrills. Check and mate.

Killing Words


Director: Laura Mañá (2003)
Starring: Dario Grandinetti, Goya Toledo
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

Spanish torture nonsense for the broadsheet reading crowd, Killing Words is less about plucking out eyeballs with a spoon and more the power of words. Although they do talk about plucking out eyeballs with spoons, so it's a little bit about that too. Mild-mannered psychopath Ramon (Grandinetti) kidnaps ex-wife and psychiatrist Laura (Toledo) and ties her to a chair in his basement. Soon she'll wish he was more the Jigsaw sort of serial killer, since Ramon evidently likes the sound of his own voice and plans to talk her to death. Laura is easy to sympathise with in this movie. The verbal diarrhea of an annoying ex is far worse than eyeball torture.


Being set in a basement for the majority of the running time, Killing Words is all about the verbal sparring between kidnapper and victim. With Laura being Ramon's ex wife, there's a different sort of dynamic than you'd usually get in this kind of film, reminiscent of a less sexy Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down (true story fact fans, my favourite ever romcom). It's slow and boring at times, but the tension is racked up with sequences set in the movie's own future, depicting police officers questioning Ramon as to Laura's whereabouts. It's never nail-biting stuff, but it does keep one wondering.

Being nothing but lengthy dialogue scenes, Killing Words works and feels like a stage play adaptation. And perhaps it would work better onstage, where intellectuals can go rub their chin and say things like "hmm" and "yes, interesting." Not that I didn't think these things, but Killing Words doesn't always feel very cinematic. Still, it's well acted and very pretty looking.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but Killing Words is actually quite good.

Postal

85 minutes too far, at that.

Director: Uwe Boll (2007)
Starring: Zack Ward, Dave Foley, Chris Coppola, Verne Troyer
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

I watched Postal the only way Postal should be watched: with a couple of good man-friends, a Chinese takeaway and a lot of alcohol. Bearing in mind that I'd just played Call Of Duty until my eyes bled and I was thoroughly quite smashed, one would think that conditions were prime for a film like Postal. Well, drunk and in the company of man-friends or not: Postal is still an irredeemable piece of shit movie.

I'm by no means a Uwe Boll defender, but I'm inclined to hate him less than some. I've never seen a good Boll film, but I've seen far worse than his Rampage. Even Auschwitz was technically if not morally competent. Please take it in context when I say that "Auschwitz was technically if not morally competent." What makes me doubt Auschwitz's intentions are the other films Boll has made. Films like this one, which depict Nazis and mass murder as quite funny. Once more, Boll has a little cameo for himself. He's like the Quentin Tarantino of video game adaptations.

I played Postal once. It's a puerile, stupid first person shooter in which you play an angry trailer trash man called 'Postal Dude' who for some reason wants to meet Gary Coleman. Al Quaeda feature quite heavily in the game, as they do the film. In Boll's adaptation, Postal Dude is played by Zack Ward. Postal Dude is still trailer trash, although he seems more confused than angry, and meets Verne Troyer instead of Gary Coleman. Warning: in the next paragraph I will use sentences and descriptions that may make you want to watch Postal. Do not watch Postal.

Postal is a movie where Verne Troyer is gang raped by monkeys and Uwe Boll plays himself as having financed his films with Nazi gold. There's a shootout in which only children die (I laughed. I'm a bad person on several levels there) and George W Bush shows up to hold hands with Osama Bin Laden. The opening sequence takes place in an airplane cockpit bound for the Twin Towers. On 9/11. You get the idea.

For all of this faux-offensiveness, Postal is an inept mess. It looks, sounds and feels like a Movie Movie, with no structure or story to speak of. The game was truly offensive by virtue of putting the player in Postal Dude's shoes. The film is not offensive. It's nothing like a live action South Park. South Park has intelligence and jokes, not just monkeys gang raping Verne Troyer. I hated Postal in the same way that I hate Family Guy; it will offend nobody but the sort of people who wouldn't watch it in the first place. Its offensiveness rings hollow, the desperate cries of an attention seeker begging for relevance. Postal should offend nobody except for fans of good movies.

Captain America

Predictable joke: America, Fuck yeah.

Director: Joe Johnston (2011)
Starring: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones
Find it: IMDB

Another Avengers trailer, this time a World War II period piece with Chris Evans as Captain America. Weakling war reject Steve Rogers (Evans) is selected for experimentation by the paedophile from Lovely Bones, who hopes to transform the little fella into a Super Soldier. Angry Nazi Johann Shmidt/The Red Skull (Weaving) has plans of his own, working to win the war and reshape the world in his own image. Nobody punches Hitler though, at least, not directly.

Captain America, unlike Iron Man and Thor, is perhaps the hardest sell of all the Avengers movies. It's also the one I was feeling the most dubious about. In our modern times, it's difficult to pull off patriotism. Especially without offending or alienating your audience, or coming across like Michael Bay. The uniform, too, looks terrible. There's no way to make Captain America's costume look anything but stupid on film; all primary colours and a dodgy mask, it's never far off a jokey Kick-Ass type thing. And then I was skeptical about Chris Evans too.

Predictable joke II

But Captain America sidelines most of the inherent problems with its setting and a little healthy acknowledgement of its own goofiness. The outfit looks bad, but it's stressed that Cap is supposed to be an icon - an inspirational figure for his country and fellow troops - he wears his uniform not to disguise or protect himself, but because it's just that - his uniform. Captain America is the story of a man doing his bit for his country. A Michael Bay sense of patriotism (not necessarily a criticism) is circumvented by making the bad guys Nazis. Everyone hates the Nazis. And Chris Evans is a lot better in the role than I thought he'd be. There's no wisecracking, his Captain America is as earnest and faintly bland as Captain America should be.

Joe Johnston, director of the highly underrated Rocketeer, straddles that line between earnest and goofy wonderfully. Just as the humour kept Thor's fantastical elements grounded, it serves here to save Captain America from its own silliness. But when the action scenes do come about, they're very well handled too. I was grinning from stupid ear to stupid ear as Cap beat his way through swathes of Nazis, and punching the air during the dust-ups between him and The Red Skull. The Skull is maybe my favourite Marvel villain so far. None of Iron Man's baddies have ever really felt threatening and Thor's Loki was the weakest link in that movie. Weaving is a brilliantly curt, insane Skull, and I'd liked to have seen more time devoted to his and Cap's showdown. Hopefully in a future instalment. Oh, and just so's you don't forget that The Avengers is next year, there are nods to the other Marvel movies (Dominic Cooper as Tony Stark's dad is nicely done) and an obligatory cameo from Samuel L Jackson's Nick Fury.

What stops it from being as good as the first Iron Man is its slow pace and predictability. I've not read a lot of Captain America comics (only really The Ultimates and Winter Soldier) but saw each beat of the story coming a mile off. Its pre-opening sequence completely gives away the ending and everything inbetween is easily guessed. As it is, Captain America isn't as good as Iron Man, about the same as Thor and better than Iron Man 2. I would like somebody to have punched Hitler though.

State Of Emergency


This review comes straight from the frontline of the riots in Birmingham.

Despite Monday and last night's considerable looting and rioting shenanigans, today was business as usual for the shop where I work. Because it's mostly shit and mostly well-hidden, the rioter bastards left us and our windows alone. Almost disappointed. Our shop not good enough for you? To be fair, I work in a camping shop. I don't think those involved are interested in camping anywhere, except maybe on Call Of Duty.

An odd atmosphere aside, work today progressed much as it usually does; lengthy periods of boredom, a lunch break and some screwing about when I was supposed to be working. I did get to leave early though, due to all businesses in the city centre being terrified of a repeat of the rioting.

As it happens, there's supposed to be more rioting on the streets of Birmingham tonight. Yesterday, people trashed Hatman and the music store next to my favourite comic book shop. I'm writing this from the confines of the safest place in the city; the only place we can be sure won't get looted - Waterstone's. Joking aside, "we're staying open," the booksellers said, "if they steal some books, they might learn something."

Claims that they cut the head off've The Bullring Bull emerged as Bullshit.

Before I got to leave work, I was visited by a charming gentleman in unmatching tracksuits who approached the counter and asked if we sell balaclavas. I don't think he was planning on going skiing. We had plenty of balaclavas, but I told him no. Such is my good deed for the day. On the bus to Waterstone's, I overheard a gang of undesirables describing their frustration at the world. No-one understands us, innit. Their point would have been more well made were they not drinking Special Brew and writing a shopping list of things to steal when the rioting starts again.

Those interested in the riots can follow its progress here. It allegedly began because of the death of a maybe gangster man in London at the hands of the po-lice during a possible shootout. (it's since been claimed the police fired first). Tensions between the police and government vs our 'underclasses' have been brewing in the UK for a while now, so this isn't entirely surprising. It's lovely that the yoof of today are so politically-minded, but I can think of better ways to make a point than trashing the shit out of JJB Sports. Also, if you need a really big bag of Basmati rice for whatever reason, the stuff's cheap enough for you to not have to loot it. Especially at Tesco's.


I only started using twitter properly a few months ago (@JoelHarley) but apparently the rioters are using it in conjunction with their Blackberrys to organise it all. They might be from working-class backgrounds and council estates, but at least they can afford a decent mobile phone.

The only experience I have with looting or rioting is with State Of Emergency, an early Rockstar game which puts you right in the middle of an inner city riot, trying to cause as much trouble as possible. It was released to the usual amount of outrage on the Playstation 2 in 2002. It was amusingly violent and stupid, but ultimately the sort of game that one can only play for a maximum of twenty minutes before getting bored. Also, I'm kinda crappy at videogames, so I got stuck on the second level. I got bored and traded it in for something like Crash Bandicoot. I do remember enjoying things like the flamethrower and hurling benches at people. The graphics were pretty good too, and there was a Grand Theft Auto sensibility to the humour, if a bit more infantile.

Much like running grannies over probably isn't really as fun as it is on Carmageddon, rioting is much less fun in reality than State Of Emergency led me to believe. That said, I am on the receiving end. I don't think I'd fit in with my Converse and correct punctuation. How am I supposed to function as an alcoholic if all the pubs and off licences are shut? I'm beginning to think that I need to re-examine my relationship with videogames. This is worse than that one time I got murdered as a result of someone playing Manhunt.

The game is good. Real rioting, not so good.

The Resident


Director: Antti Jokinen (2011)
Starring: Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Christopher Lee, Iphone
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

A slick, sleazy but slow psycho-thriller from Hammer this, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan in fine form as Hilary Swank's suave but psycho landlord. On the rebound, Juliet (Swank) moves into a seemingly idyllic apartment (Swanky, even. GEDDIT) owned by Max (Morgan). Not following that rule about never pooping where you eat, she wastes no time in hooking up with the hunky homeowner. But realising that her heart lies with ex-fella Jack (Lee Pace), she stops short of intercourse. Already a little bit stalker, this drives Max over the edge. Truly unsettling sleaziness ensues.

The Resident is an alarmingly pervy movie, the kind of thing you'd normally expect from RapeLay. The whole thing is essentially just Jeffery Dean Morgan terrorising Hilary Swank, mostly without her knowledge. So he hides behind her walls and under her bed, watching her as she bathes and licking her fingers whilst she sleeps. He injects drugs into her feet and uses her toothbrush. Then he goes and has a Hilary Swank in her bathtub.

Because hot people can be stalkers too.

All I know is, after watching The Resident, I really wanted to buy an Iphone. Hilary Swank's Iphone is in this movie more than Christopher Lee. And when her Iphone isn't around, then the movie makes a plot point of her Apple computer. The Resident is for Apple products what I Robot was for Audi. Christopher Lee, by the way, injects little class but plays the same decrepid old man character he's been playing for the past few years now. But in this movie he has a trendy haircut. It's a nice touch, but not really enough to save the film from mediocrity.

Although if Twilight is to be believed, girls like being molested as they sleep.

It's very well directed, wringing tension from the stalking scenes and thrills from the showdown, bringing to mind the very underrated Pacific Heights. Hilary Swank and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are both very good as victim and villain, respectively. It's always refreshing when a movie's Scream Queen can actually act. But there's the overriding feeling that The Resident is coasting on its director's skills and its actors' charms. For all of its creepiness, it doesn't feel worthy of the Hammer brand. It's a direct to TV movie writ large, starring Christopher Lee and an Academy Award winner. Furthermore, it's fitfully boring and there's a completely unnecessary and extensive flashback sequence that serves only to spell out things we knew already.

The Resident is passable enough, but will probably make one think twice about seducing your landlord, moving into a house with Jeffery Dean Morgan or not buying an Iphone.

Super



Director: James Gunn (2011)
Starring: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon
Find it: IMDB

If there's one thing us people who review movies like, it's films where the title describes the piece itself. Like Kick-Ass, The Forgotten and now Super. The word super is a very good word to describe the film Super, which is like Kick-Ass if Kick-Ass hadn't gone all high-octane in the final act. It's how I'd like a Dark Knight Returns adaptation how to go; taking the mentally tortured aspect of the superhero, and running with it to a crescendo of really unsettling ultra violence. Super eventually goes over the top, but in a completely different way to Kick-Ass.

When Frank D'Arbo's (Wilson) wife (Tyler) leaves him for a sleazy drug dealer (Bacon), the poor fellow begins to come apart at the seams. God (Rob Zombie) and Nathan Fillion appear to him in a vision and tell him to go fight some crime. Frank agrees, reinventing himself as The Crimson Bolt, and attacking criminals with a wrench. All the time shouting things like "don't molest kids!" and "shut up crime!" (my two favourite bits of screenwriting since "Hobo stops begging. Demands change"). Frank is joined on his journey by the diminutive Libby (Page) who ingratiates herself as his sidekick, Boltie. But with Frank gradually unravelling more and more, how much longer can the duo continue before something really bad happens?

James Gunn will be familiar to fellow horrorheads as the director of the lovely Slither. A few of Slither's cast show up in minor roles for Super, including Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker. The violence and foulmouthed inventiveness of that movie returns in Super, with more than enough gore and bludgeonings to satisfy impatient gorehounds. Even without the impressive levels of grue, it's plenty subversive, dark, troubling and funny. Touching too, and perverse. Watchmen is no longer the most gross movie where heroes have sex with their costumes on.

Inevitably, Frank and the filmmakers lose interest in beating up street scum and send The Crimson Bolt & Boltie after Kevin Bacon and his thugs. Like a great many genre bend before it, the jokes fall to the wayside and the explosions take over. But unlike the likes of Kick-Ass, it doesn't feel at all disingenuous and is in keeping with everything that's come before.

I loved Super. It's, well, Super.


Why I Hate The Dentist


I mentioned, not too long ago, my fear of the dentist. Not the movie (which is gross enough) but the dentist dentist. Well, I bit the bullet today and booked an appointment to see the dentist this Friday. I think going around biting bullets is probably one of the reasons my teeth are so shitty. That, and all the Crunk.

To say that I'm fucking terrified would be an understatement. I've not been in over ten years, and during those ten years I turned eighteen and was granted access to all the horrible horror movies what my eyes could watch. Already not a fan of the dentist, I've compounded the problem by (a) putting it off for so long and (b) watching a lot of movies in which people get their teeth pulled. But I'll doubtless continue watching such horrible things, in the same way as I watched Final Destination the night before I got on an airplane for the first time.


One of the first Horrible Dentist sequences I can remember seeing is Final Destination 2 (which I saw three times at the cinema). If my dentist has a fish mobile hanging above the chair, well, he can jog on if he thinks I'm sitting down. Never in the history of ever have I seen a movie which presents going to the dentist in a favourable light. Final Destination 2 was the first horrible dentist scene I can really remember, but far from the last. Hello The Dentist (perhaps the zenith of tooth torture cinema, although I've not seen the sequel), Marathon Man, Little Shop Of Horrors and Oldboy, amongst others. I even cringed at The Hangover. See, when I think of going to the dentist, I picture myself coming out looking like this:


So as I know what to expect on Friday, I decided to do a little light research. In the same way that googling your cold symptoms will leave you thinking that you have cancer, AIDS or some other degenerative bit of Death, merely typing 'teeth' into an image search will lead you to some of the most terrifying images this side of a Blue Waffle.


Similarly, if Wikipedia is to be believed, most dental procedures will end up with tooth extraction and things called a "root canal" and "planing". Well, I ask myself, if you're going to extract the bastards anyway, why don't I just keep eating sweets and drinking Crunk until they fall out of their own doing? The Internet; good for more than just pornography and facebook; great for scaring hypochondriacs shitless.

I'm probably going to die on Friday. If that happens, at least let's hope I'm murdered by a psychopath dentist and don't just choke on a stupid rubber fish. Or die chasing pigeons. If I do survive somehow, hey, I'll have conquered a fear. Or be left scarred, stoned and toothless. Either way, bastards better give me a lollipop.

Wish me luck.