Advertorial: Things I like about the Saw Franchise

(Spoiler: silly racist car death is not one of those things)

Saw: The Final Chapter is out on DVD next month. As I re-watched the movie in preparation, I realised that The Review Hole has been quite critical of the franchise over the years. To celebrate its (supposed) end, I proudly present a list for your consideration: Things I Hate Least Don't Hate Like About The Saw Franchise. Some spoilers abounds.

10. The First Three Movies. Otherwise known as the only good Saw movies. The first movie is very good (if Se7en-lite) and the sequel, I actually slightly prefer sometimes. The third stinks a bit, but it feels like a proper arc for the characters involved. If only they'd stopped there.

9. Monica Potter. I like Monica Potter. I liked her in Con Air. I liked her in that silly Morgan Freeman movie. I even liked her relegated to Damsel-In-Distress in Saw. Never mind Doctor Gordon and his plastic foot. Bring back Monica Potter.

8. Hoffman's killing spree. It says a lot for my feelings about Saw's torture guff overreliance that my favourite bit of The Final Chapter was when the torture stopped and crazy Hoffman went slasher movie mode. The final act in the police station is ridiculous but eminently watchable. Black leather gloves? How very Giallo. The most interesting thing Hoffman ever did.

7. The videogame. Haven't played the sequel yet, but Saw: The Videogame wasn't half as bad as I'd expected it to be. You play as Detective Tapp, trapped in an old lunatic asylum and forced to play Jigsaw's games. It's repetetive, overlong and occasionally monotonous, but worth a single playthrough at least.

6. Hoffman's Arrowmobile. That this ended up as nothing more than a dream sequence was one of The Final Chapter's biggest disappointments.

5. The Needle Pit. Actually one of the few traps to make me cringe. Sometimes the low-key traps work a lot better than the overblown stuff (The Final Chapter's Thunderbird incinerator? Really?)

4. Donnie Wahlberg. Yes, and I'm not joking either. Donnie Wahlberg's detective in Saw II is one of my favourite characters in the franchise. That he died in part IV caused great consternation in the Joel H house. Even if his death was one of the best moments in the franchise's history:

3. Ice Block Head Smash. Donnie Wahlberg gets his head smushed inbetween two massive blocks of ice. Enough said. Except for maybe 'ha ha'.

2. Pighead. Because I'm a sucker for slasher icons and people wearing pig head masks. And because the battle between yourself and Pighead in The Videogame is fairly awesome.

1. Danny Glover. I'll be honest. The other 9 bullet points in this list could have been Danny Glover, since I do heart me some Danny Glover. Even in those Orange cinema adverts and especially in Predator 2. Plus, he reportedly thinks Saw is stupid too.

Not too old for this shit? Read the Saw retrospective.

The Official Zombie Handbook (UK)

Written by: Sean T Page (2010)

At last, a zombie survival guide that caters for us Brits. I was beginning to worry that, come the zombie apocalypse, I'd have to watch my beloved country fall beneath the raging hordes. Not so anymore, with Sean T Page's Official Zombie Handbook (UK). I fear that it'll fall on deaf ears, since no-one reads books anymore. But it's very nice to have the option.

And it's very nice to have The Official Zombie Handbook too. Especially with a cover image like that. Straight from The Ministry Of Zombies itself, The Guide covers everything every English zombie survivalist should know, from the effectiveness of our police force to the availability of good weapons on Z-Day. Anyone who's seen Shaun Of The Dead will go straight for the cricket bat, but the Guide gives us a handy number of viable alternatives, just in case.

The book is well-written, well-illustrated (I would put that cover image on my wall) and comprehensive. It's certainly food for thought, and everything builds to help put together a 90-day zombie survival plan. Even to someone as well-versed in zombie cinema as myself, I found the book informative and useful. It's wickedly funny too, which is always a bonus.

Even if you're not UK bound, The Zombie Handbook is worth a read. Come the apocalypse, it's nice to know how the rest of the world will be tackling things. Beyond that, it's a fun bit of cultural anthropology and an all-around good read.

The Horde

Director: Yannick Dahan, Benjamin Rocher (2009)
Starring: Claude Perron, Jean-Pierre Martins, Eriq Ebouaney
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

That's right, another French fancy. This week I has mostly been watching French movies (not even intentionally. I've just happen to keep stumbling across the stuff). This time though, zombies. Not since perhaps the original [Rec] have I had as much of a blast with a movie as I did The Horde. It's billed as being a zombie version of Die Hard. What's not to like?

After a cop suffers gangland execution at the hands of an infamous French gangster, a crack team of cops seek out retribution, tracking down the goons to a nearly deserted block of flats. Except the crack team of cops are actually a bit crap, and screw things up extraordinarily. Things go even more wrongways when a zombie apocalypse interrupts their vendettas. Can the cops and criminals band together to escape the building and survive violent zombie death? Probably not, but it's fun watching them try.

The Die Hard comparison is a good one. One of the characters even wears a vest. There's not much horror to be found in The Horde, just a steady flow of violence, gore and action. The flimsily constructed characters are fun to watch in a meathead action movie kinda way; disposable enough that there's an element of unpredictability as to who will bite it next. And there is a lot of biting in The Horde. As the title might suggest, there are plenty of zombies. There could have been more, maybe.... but then I'm greedy. The action is reminiscent of the Dawn Of The Dead remake, or [Rec] 2 on a bigger scale. A foul-mouthed script brings the wit (why does swearing seem even funnier in subtitles?) and the actors throw themselves into it with gusto. It's difficult to pick a standout performance, but Jean-Pierre Martins wins out for that awesome moustache alone.

After the likes of Shaun Of The Dead, Zombieland and the great Romero's diminishing returns, it's nice to enjoy a zombie movie not tinged with humour or irony. It might not be as scary or original as [Rec], and The Horde is as superficial as they come. But it brings thrills, action and, well, hordes of bloodthirsty zombies. Sometimes, that's all one needs.

7 Days

Director: Daniel Grou (2010)
Starring: Remy Girard, Claude Legault, Martin Dubreuil
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

Another Gallic-themed update this week, with a gritty French torture flick in which a bereaved father kidnaps his daughter's kidnapper/rapist and conducts torture onto him. Including - but not limited to - making the man go potty out of his own belly. It's a bit like The Tortured, only it's technically better, more realistic and there's no stupid twist. It's also harder to watch and a lot crueller. Director Daniel Grou understands that bereavement is depressing enough without having to resort to soppy flashbacks all the time. When 7 Days does make with the flashback sequences, it's fucking heartbreaking. The final scenes are genuinely quite upsetting and difficult to watch. It doesn't even need the torture sequences at this point.

"Makes Saw look like kids stuff," brags the tagline. That's not particularly true. The torture here is a lot more realistic (no silly exploding heads or garish bright red blood) and surgical. It's nothing hardened gorehounds won't have seen before though, even if 7 Days shows more male flesh (read: tiny penises) than most mainstream horror movies.

Unlike the unlikeable uninteresting characters in The Tortured, 7 Days makes its main character sympathetic and believable. You don't believe for a moment that Jesse Fucking Metcalfe is capable of anything beyond looking in a mirror. Charles Legault sells his character's plight completely, right down to the vomit-stained t-shirt. Most importantly (and something The Tortured failed to grasp) you actually give a shit about the story here and have a little emotional investment.

Still, 7 Days is a hard film to like. The subject matter is too unpleasant for my liking, and I'm simply not a fan of the torture subgenre; even when it's as very well done as it is here.


Director: Pearry Reginald Teo (2009)
Starring: Layton Matthews, Santiago Craig, Zeliann Rivera
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

A movie quite heavily indebted to the work of Clive Barker, Necromentia plays like something of a love-letter to the horror maestro. That said, it really works. Necromentia is possibly the finest bit of demonic horror since, well, Hellraiser. Put Mr. Teo behind the reins of the remake and I wouldn't complain.

Three men find their lives turned upside down when they come across a (self) tattooed Ouija Board which opens a gateway to other dimensions. The dimension in question seems to resemble the inside of Clive Barker's head for some reason. But that's a good place for a horror movie to be, so we'll let it off. It's a difficult movie to explain and even to follow, but definitely one worth watching. It's a non-linear movie, chock full of nightmarish imagery, hideous-looking demons, scenes of sadomasochism, addiction, torture and ultraviolence. There's a fat monster in a pig mask who dances around singing about having things vibrating up his bottom. There's a grey thing with a gas mask and various toothy demons, all of which make Necromentia a very interesting movie.

For all of its horror and gruesomeness, Necromentia is ostensibly about the power of love, and how far you'd go for a loved one. It'd be sweet if it wasn't so horrid. It's an impressively good movie considering its relatively low budget and straight-to-DVD status. Well worth seeking out, and should tide one over nicely until the inevitable Hellraiser remake.

High Lane

Director: Abel Ferry (2009)
Starring: Fanny (HA) Valette, Johan Libereau, Raphael Lenglet
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

Does for mountain climbing what The Descent did for caving. Only The Descent was still good after it shifted tone to straight cannibal horror. High Lane has an excellent setup; high on tension and beautiful to look at - and then blows it with a final act made up of unoriginal backwoods slasher dross.

The movie starts off very well, with a group of friends tackling a closed mountain trail for a weekend of rock-climbing and group bonding. Only the route's treacherous and crappy, and there's a psychopathic huntsman living up in them there hills. Oops.

The mountain climbing stuff, High Lane gets right. It's as well-filmed and beautifully done as even Cliffhanger (surely the best mountain action movie of all time) with the group's many falls and tumbles providing much tension and thrills. This part of the movie is what The Hills Have Eyes 2 remake sequel should have been. Everything thereafter? Well, it makes even The Hills Have Eyes 2 look adequate.

It's telling that the gory stuff should kick off with a bear trap. I don't think I've seen a single backwoods horror movie without a bear trap in at least five years. Then there's a pit with spikes in it, which a character falls down. Then someone gets shot with a crossbow bolt. Hmm, all this movie is missing is a dodgy looking cottage which actually turns out to be the bad guy's house. Oh. The villain of the piece isn't particularly scary or intimidating, just an ugly-looking huntsman who collects heads and lives in a shithole. Of course, he ties the kids up and vaguely irritates them for a bit, before a series of scuffles and stabby kerfuffles. Spoiler: someone falls off a cliff. The only mild distraction comes from some interesting decisions made by the characters, the pretty environment, and the fact that the lead actress' name is Fanny (a word that, in English colloquial, is so much better than the Americanism). Heh.

Ultimately, I wish I could hate it more. But it counts this little ditty quite heavily on its soundtrack:


Director: Jacques-Olivier Molon, Pierre-Olivier Thevenin (2009)
Starring: Lorant Deutsch, Sara Forestier, Dominique Pinon
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

A French backwoods horror with a twist*, Humains is a stunning exercise in fucking up one's own movie. It's a symphony in bathos. The first half is a servicable, if slightly dull backwoods horror type thing. Two families take a road trip through Switzerland (although I've been to Switzerland, and it's a lot prettier than Humains portrays it as being) and wind up in trouble when they drive their car off the side of a cliff. The usual backwoods type nonsense ensues until a big twist at the halfway point. Beware spoilers. Although I'd consider this more of a warning than a spoiler.

Dear Humains, it is hard to take you seriously as a horror movie when your antagonist is, essentially, a horny version of this:

Actually, that is quite scary.

That's right, our intrepid heroes are being hunted by a tribe of fucking cavemen. And not even semi-scary cavemen like The Hills Have Eyes mutants or the family from Offspring. The monsters in Humains are actual cavemen who wear furs, have big skulls and throw spears. In a couple of shots, gone is the movie's credibility, believability or good-ibility. I honestly can't think of a worse way Humains could have played out.

So the group discover that they're being hunted by The Flintstones. The men are knocked out and just... well, left there. The cavemen don't even bother trying to kill the men, because they're of no interest. They kidnap the party's women and keep them in their cave as sex slaves. There are no cavegirls, so the species' only hope of survival is through the medium of rape. It would be offensive, but it's just stupid. The action ramps up considerably for the final half hour or so, but it's impossible to take any of it seriously. By the time you're asked to sympathise with the rapist rubber-heads, you'll either have given up entirely or just let your brain go to sleep. That Humains scores 2/5 Screamy Scream Ladies is thanks entirely to the movie's decent first hour and some funny bursts of dialogue throughout. Otherwise, it's a complete failure. Yabba dabba don't bother.

*The twist being that Humains is actually a thoroughly shitty movie.

Predictable Post of the Week: My Bloody Valentine

Director: George Mihalka (1981)
Starring: Lori Hallier, Alf Humphreys, Helene Udy
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

One of my favourite of the 80s' slasher movies, My Bloody Valentine sees a psychopath in a gas mask hack up a small mining village with a pickaxe on Valentines' Day. I think flowers were the most romantic gesture I've ever made, but Harry Warden and his pick know how to show a girl a good time. Saying that, I did send a girl a bloody heart in a chocolate box once. I'm sure she liked it, although I'm not allowed close enough to her house to ask.

In 1961, an explosion traps five miners in a shaft, thanks to the foremen leaving early to attend a Valentine's Day dance. Six weeks later, miner Harry Warden is rescued, having eaten his co-workers and lost his sanity in the process (Insert joke about Chilean coal miners here). Harry violently murders the responsible foremen and swears another killing spree if the town should ever hold another Valentine's Day celebration. Which is kinda how I felt after watching Valentine's Day. A few years later, and Harry and his warning have been all but forgotten. The town decide to hold another dance again, despite the town Sheriff's warnings. The Miner turns up and lots of people die. Violently. Or not so violently, depending on which cut of the movie you're watching.

Forget the passable but vapid remake (reviewed here & retrofitted for 2011), My Bloody Valentine '81 wears its sadistic heart (yo ho ho) on its sleeve. This is a cruel, occasionally gory slasher with not a hint of irony to be found anywhere. No bland Supernatural brothers to distract from the violence. No miscast Sheriff or Twilight Deputy to be annoyed by. Just dead bodies in washing machines and The Miner on a rampage.

My Bloody Valentine is the perfect antidote to the sentimental Valentines' bollocks that plagues miserable sods every year. Every year I'll settle down on my Jack Jones with a multipack of beer, crisps and sweets, and I'll whack My Bloody Valentine in the DVD player. Sometimes the 2009 version too. But usually not. If you're a bitter old shit like me, I suggest the same. It works remarkably. And it makes the pain and bitterness and lonliness hurt just slightly less. Just for kicks, I like to imagine the cast of My Bloody Valentine to be made up of my exes and those whores who rejected me and the High School arseholes who got all the attention and yeah, Harry Warden's gonna fuck you all up :-))

Ahem. I jest, I'm fine, really. The point being: girls come and go, but Harry Warden can be my Bloody Valentine any day.

Saturday Morning Comix: Mirror Mirror & Locked Out

Two digital comics from the independent publishers at DarkBrain today. The comics over at DarkBrain are designed for a mature audience, so I'd advise discretion when downloading the links. The Beano this ain't. In fact, I haven't seen this much shagging and nudity in a comic book since I flicked through that paperback of Lost Girls in Borders that one time.

Locked Out: Eye Opener is a 35-page one shot which tells the story of Emily. One day, poor Emily finds she's lost complete contol of her own body and all of its functions. Controlled by what seems to be an alien force (Lovecraftian tentacles FTW), she's forced into a series of steamy and quite explicit encounters. Locked Out reads like Species on (more) heat, 2000AD's Future Shocks on viagra, or HP Lovecraft in a spectacularly horny mood.

It's a fun enough concept, even if it does read like a thin excuse to show lots of sex, boobs and penis. But that's okay: I like sex, boobs and penis. The art, whilst not to my taste, does a good enough job with the sexytimes and occasional bursts of violence and gore. It features the most disturbing depiction of a flaccid penis I've ever seen and plenty of squirmsome tentacle-to-eyeball trauma. This Cronenberg-esque use of body horror works well, and is perhaps Locked Out's strongest point.

As an introduction to DarkBrain comics, Locked Out certainly is a bit of an Eye Opener. On this evidence, I'd be very interested in seeing what else they have to offer. Talking of which:

Mirror Mirror is a five issue arc and, in contrast, seems a little more considered and plot-orientated. It's a story of demonic curses and dominatrixes. I like demonic curses and I like dominatrixes, so I found Mirror Mirror an engaging read. Bitch boss Brenna lives a double-life in more than one way. By day, she works at an office making her employees' life hell. By night, she plays dominatrix and enjoys a little literal ball-busting and making men cry. She's also cursed by her demonic one-time sister Mirriam (you see what they did there) to lose everything and everyone she loves. It's a lengthy story full of blackmail, betrayal and boobies.

Brenna, by the way, is modelled on adult star Tabitha Stevens. Stevens provides the comic's foreword, and even voices the character for the online version at the website.

The artwork is well suited to the story, delivering us page upon page of gorgeous women, hunky men, pert breasts and girthsome lovelengths. Still, it's not going to be for everyone, and I would stress the comic's 'mature readers' label. As with Locked Out, Miriam is promised further adventures. I'd certainly be interested in seeing where DarkBrain's Dark Brain can take her story next. If you like your comic book horror with a bit of added steam, I'd thoroughly recommend you check out DarkBrain. Just, um, not while you're at work.

Locked Out: Eye Opener -

Mirror Mirror: Forgiveness -

Pat The Zombie

Creators: Aaron Ximm, Kaveh Soofi

If you thought that Pride And Prejudice And Zombies was the height of the zombie mashup spoof, think again. Pat The Zombie is quite possibly one of the more awesome things I've ever been sent and, crucially, is a lot more fun than Pride And Prejudice And Zombies.

Pat The Zombie is a touch-and-feel style book, the kind you might have read as a child. Only with zombies. Zombies would have vastly improved my childhood. Now it says on the cover that Pat The Zombie is an adult spoof, but I'd definitely let my spawn read it. After all, their future survival might depend on it. It's every bit as informative as The Zombie Survival Guide.

Just like all of those crappy books you giggled over as a brat, Pat The Zombie is made up of of sections to titillate the senses; stroke the (zombie) rabbit's fur; scratch & sniff through the (zombie) remains*; look in a mirror for infection; poke your finger through a hole in (zombie) mummy's skull. All this is accompanied by some delightfully gory artwork that spoofs the original piece wonderfully.

Pat The Zombie had me laughing like a fetish model in a czech tickle video all of the way through. It even comes in a neat little display box. A perfect gift for the morbid child or immature horror fan in your house.

* The scratch & sniff bit is actually horrible. Inhale at your own peril.

The Tortured

Director: Robert Lieberman (2010)
Starring: Jesse Fucking Metcalfe, Erika Fucking Christensen, Bill Moseley
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

A dishonest piece of torture bollocks reprieved by being only 78 minutes long and allowing Bill Moseley to have fun with a glorified cameo. The Tortured sees a pair of parents (Fucking Metcalfe and Fucking Christensen) turn torturers when their son is kidnapped and murdered by Bill Moseley's psychopath. That's pretty much all there is to it, save for too many flashbacks, too much Jesse Metcalfe pretending to act and a stupid, stupid twist that I saw coming by about, oh, the 20 minute mark. When your whole movie's final piece is predicated on a twist, you might wanna make sure that it's not a shitty one. Even if I hadn't guessed it, it's a stupid twist.

Also stupid: the stupid cast (except for Bill Moseley, who is the movie's saving grace). And especially the presence of Sexy Gardner from off've Desperate Housewives. He's woefully miscast as the grieving father. Erica Christensen is perfectly bland as the wife. It's a good job Moseley shares few scenes with the pair. I've a feeling he'd embarrass them offscreen with his actual acting. It's a novel approach.

If dealing with the movie's bland banality wasn't bad enough, there's also its incredible dishonesty. The gas mask contraption which appears on all of the flick's posters never appears once. The man on the back cover isn't even in the film. I'm sure none of this would make much of a difference, but it shows how little anyone involved cared about The Tortured. Which is fine. I don't care about The Tortured either.


The most Mark Millar-iest comic since he killed half of the Ultimate Universe, Nemesis essentially asks the question "what if Batman was the Joker?" or, even more aptly, "what if Batman was a total cunt?" That second question must have been asked by someone who's never read All-Star Batman & Robin.

Or heard of Christian Bale.

The eponymous Nemesis is a rich supervillain who has dedicated his life to really pissing people off. To labour the DC point, imagine if Batman decided to work against Commissioner Gordon rather than with him. Nemesis travels around the world blowing stuff up and besting the best of the best authorities he finds there. After destroying half of Tokyo and killing its top cop, he heads away to Washington DC, kidnaps the President and informs Chief Inspector Blake Morrow that's he's next for the cut. All in a day's work for the world's only supervillain.

I first came across Nemesis in the UK publication Clint, a sort-of lads'-mag-come-comic-book-compilation that collects several strips and hurr-hurr, looks a bit like Cunt on the magazine shelves. Which is a good indicator of Nemesis' levels of maturity*. It's easily the most immature of Millar's work since Wanted, and some of his angriest too. Not that this is entirely a bad thing. It's incredibly fun watching Nemesis doing his stuff, and comes loaded with a finale that doesn't disappoint. The art by Steve McNiven is handsome enough, and looks stunning in Clint's A4 format. There are pages upon pages of explosive action, gory bullet ballet and bone-breaking kung-fu. There's at least one big set-piece per issue.

Approach with caution. Lovers of subtlety will not enjoy Nemesis. Your mother won't even allow it in the house. Provided that you're a fan of misanthropy and ultraviolence, Nemesis is a joy. It's like a mix of Garth Ennis' Punisher/The Boys crossed with Frank Miller at his most macho. The script is redundant in most cases, relegated only to explaining the plot. It feels less like a comic book at times than it does a screenplay in waiting. Which, funnily enough, is how Kick-Ass 2 (also published in Clint) is starting to seem.

Talking of which, Nemesis has recently been optioned for a movie. Supposedly to be directed by Tony Scott and due to star Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt, I'll believe that when I see it (and see it I will). Unfortunately, I seriously doubt that some of the comic's harsher stuff will remain intact. And dare I say it, Michael Bay would probably suit the comic's style better than Tony Scott.

And I think we all know who should play this See-You-Next-Tuesday Batman...

But I love Nemesis, in spite because of its more boneheaded moves. The action is amongst the best I've seen in years. Morrow makes for as likeable a hero as Nemesis is loathsome, leading to a great payoff. Needless to say, the comic sets itself up for a sequel.

Whilst I don't think one would be particularly neccessary, consider me thoroughly on board.

* And a good indicator of my own. I have every issue so far.


Director: Stuart Gordon (2007)
Starring: Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Russell Hornby
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

Mena Suvari gets a promotion, goes clubbing, imbibes in much booze and drugs. Goes to drive home. Splatters Stephen Rea all over the bonnet of her car. Panics. Drives rest of the way home, leaving him Stuck in her windshield. Waits for him to die. Horrible cornrows, gangsta rap and violence abounds. An excellent, most underrated piece by Master Of Nasty Stuart Gordon.

A man stuck in a windshield, bleeding out. A girl waiting for him to die. Stuck is a very simple movie. So simple that only bad direction and bad acting could fuck it up. Thankfully, Stuck is directed by Stuart Gordon and stars Stephen Rea and... well, Mena Suvari is actually a revelation here. I'll admit to only ever watching her in an American Pie once, but she's wonderful here. She plays a horrible character with horrible hair who does some really horrible things. There's an effort to make her relateable, but it does turn a bit caricature towards the end. Stephen Rea is sympathetic and occasionally scary. You'll really root for the man to escape from his window. So the character stuff really works. For the gore fans amongst us, there's this:

Stuck contains plenty of splatter and some of the worst car carnage stuff since that Cronenberg film where people stick their boners inside car accidents. There's all sorts of vehicular carnage, protracted scenes of grot and grue, stabby bits, pokey bits and slicey bits. There are a couple of typically funny Stuart Gordon fight scenes (I particularly enjoyed the frying pan) and a cringeworthy moment with a pen. Not for the faint of heart, Stuck is a well-made, well-acted little horror movie that does for car windshields what Psycho did for showers. At the very least, it'll make you look both ways next time you cross the road.

[Rec] 2

Directors: Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza (2009)
Starring: Jonathan Mellor, Oscar Zafra, Ariel Casas
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

Not quite as good as the original, but still a very good movie. [Rec] 2 picks up almost exactly where the first left off, with a heavily armed riot team and a mysterious health inspector breaching the infected Spanish apartment block. Despite being far more prepared than the predecessor's firemen and TV reporters, the men are quickly overrun and face the fight of their lives. There's a kick-ass priest too. Zombie movies are always improved by kick-ass priests.

It's all a bit Aliens, with quite the emphasis on more action and a lot more zombies than before. The firsthand footage gimmick is still present, as our protagonists all wear little webcams on their heads. It also takes in multiple perspectives, using footage from other survivors and cameras scattered throughout the building. Occasionally this can feel a bit distracting, but mostly it works. Characters and families from the first movie are revisited, and we get to see quite a bit more of that creepy penthouse apartment too.

Whereas the cause and nature of the infection went mostly unexplained in [Rec], it is here explained away almost completely. And the explanation the filmmakers choose to go with here might seem like a startling one to some. [Rec] 2 , without being spoilery, is a more supernatural movie than its predecessor. Actually, that was quite spoilery, wasn't it? It'd be interesting to see whether a Quarantine 2 would go that route too. I enjoyed it though, even if it does dent some of the movie's realism. A final twist opens the series up further. I hope to see more of the franchise in future, as there's plenty could be done with [Rec]'s new ideas, especially in a more open environment.

[Rec] 2 then, whilst not managing to be quite as good as the first movie, is its own beast. There are plenty of scares and thrills to please the most ardent gorehound. There's a genuine feel of unpredictability to the proceedings, which is fun and very intriguing. The movie's final shot, by the way, is its coup-de-grace. Playful and terrifying at the same time, it makes the whole sequel thing worthwhile and actually adds to its predecessor's power. Highly reccommended.

I Spit On Your Grave (2010)

Director: Steven R. Monroe (2010)
Starring: Sarah Butler, Jeff Branson, Andrew Howard
Find it: No, really, don't.

So good a story they told it twice. Now with better acting and inappropriately competent direction. But still irredeemably shit and possibly more morally bankrupt than the original. Where Mier Zarchi's 1978 original was, well, original and saw itself as a feminist piece, this remake just looks and feels like an exercise in moneyspinning unoriginality. Zarchi was trying to make a statement about rape (not very well, I should say). This hunk of horseshit is motivated entirely by "you know what'll make us some money? Let's remake I Spit On Your Grave."

If you don't know the plot, I recommend you go away now. It'll leave your mind an infitely better place. I wish I didn't know either version of this movie existed. I resent having the plot of I Spit On Your Grave stuck in my memory. Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) is a writer who heads out to an isolated cabin to get some work done. Instead, she runs into a gang of Hillbilly rapists determined to do what they do best. But because Zarchi's brand of 'rape, rinse, repeat' just won't cut it nowadays, we have to have torture too. Physical and psychological and with a baseball bat and a bottle and then a gun. Once all the rape is done with, revenge commences (reluctantly, I might add. Much like the original, Spit '10 is far less interested in Jennifer's revenge than it is her rape). There are 60 minutes of torture/rape and about 40 minutes of revenge. Revenge which is just more torture, really. Day Of The Woman my arse.

There's a scene 10 minutes in where Jennifer is spied upon whilst dressed only in her underwear. But the way it's framed isn't creepy or scary; it's like a scene cut from The Unborn. The camera makes us complicit with the rapists without even realising that it's doing so. It letches gleefully off've Jennifer, unironically and like any other silly horror movie would. But I Spit On Your Grave isn't supposed to be any other silly horror movie. By sleazing on her thusly - and inviting us to do so too - director Steven Monroe is as complicit in her rape as the rapists themselves. For all of its faults (and it has a fucking lot) Spit '78 is a remarkably unsexy movie. This version should have starred Megan Fox or Odette Yustman. It's designed to titillate as much as it is terrify. Which misses the point entirely.

The Hollywood sheen, rather than improving the story, more highlights its faults. With all the money and talent at hand, they chose to make this lump of shit? They chose this as a story which needed telling again? There are jump scares, twists and a creepy horror movie soundtrack. Which miss the point even more. The first forty minutes are all buildup to the rape itself. That's 40 minutes waiting to watch someone get raped and then there are about 15 minutes of the act itself. Day Of The Woman? Fuck off. Never before has that alternate moniker seemed so condescending. "Oh we just spent 50 minutes raping and torturing the girl: but it's okay, she chops his willy off at the end. BTW, she gets naked."

Admittedly, the revenge is better done than before. It'd be satisfying if you didn't just hate the film itself so much. Plus Jennifer talks a lot and her dialogue really isn't very interesting. She wisecracks far too much.

RAPIST: Fuck you.
JENNIFER: I already did that. I didn't like it very much.
[Hold for applause]

JENNIFER shoves shotgun up RAPIST'S arse.
RAPIST: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh
JENNIFER: I thought you were an ass man.

She's a regular comedian and nowhere near as scary as Camille Keaton, who actually seemed pissed off. Sarah Butler is a good actress, but fails to really nail anything other than kooky emo.

It's nihilistic and stupid and horrible and unpleasant (which, I suppose, it's supposed to be) and boring and offensive and literally a punch in the face to every real horror fan out there. Much as it did during the video nasty era, I Spit On Your Grave makes us all look bad in the process. It'll be called sick and depraved and people will want it banned. And fans of horror will get the blame. I expect to be on some sort of register now, simply for having watched it.

I Spit On Your Grave 1978 is a legitimate piece of horror cinema history. I Spit On Your Grave 2010 isn't. It achieves precisely one thing, which I thought no movie ever could: it makes me hate the original flick ever so (very) slightly less.


Director: Nimrod Antal (2010)
Starring: Adrien Brody, Danny Trejo, Laurence Fishburne (occasionally)
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

Taking a break from the relatively crappy Alien Vs Predator franchise, the Predators strike out again with their own movie - a bit like Avatar and definitely the best Predator movie since, well, the last proper one (I actually love Predator 2). This time there's a twist. The Predators, rather than stalking around Earth's jungles or cities, kidnap themselves some humans and dump them on a jungle gaming reserve. See, just like Avatar. Only with an infinitely better plot, better acting, no 3D and actual thrills and entertainment. I hated Avatar but I love Predators.

As part of his rebirth as Mr. Action McSci-Fi, Adrien Brody plays it tough as leader of the humans. Obviously he wouldn't stand a chance against Arnie, but he could very likely kick Danny Glover's ass (insert "too old for this shit" joke here) and whoever was in those Alien Vs Predator shitlumps. Other tough guys include Danny Fucking Trejo (who looks like he could take not only Arnie, but Brody and a planet full of Predators too) that creepy guy from Justified and, uh, Topher Grace. Laurence Fishburne, by the way, is barely in this movie. I think he filmed his bit on a break from the CSI lab.

Director Nimrod Antal shows remarkable restraint in keeping the Predators offscreen for the movie's first quarter. It's even more so remarkable when one considers how good the aliens look this time around. They're big, menacing ugly motherfuckers that - for perhaps the first time - don't look even slightly goofy. The action is very well handled with a number of big fight scenes and fun skirmishes. Producer Robert Rodriguez's influence is well felt here, although Predators feels a little less disjointed than some of the director's own movies.

While Brody's hardman act occasionally wears a bit thin, Trejo and Fishburne are wasted. The former goes out like a punk, whilst the latter is barely around for twenty minutes. It's a shame and a disappointment. I wanted Danny Trejo going toe-to-toe with a Predator and Larry Fishbone making with his Assault On Precinct 13 awesome self. But we can't have it all, and the rest of the action is perfectly fine. Better than fine. In an age of crappy remakes and missing-the-point sequels, it's nice to see a franchise find its feet again as Predators does here. It could have done with being a bit less in awe of McTiernan's original, but Predators ultimately does that movie justice and stokes a craving for more. I'm a-havin' me some fun tonight.