Holy Terror

Batman The Fixer and Catwoman a hot cat burglar are fighting slash fucking on a rooftop in Gotham Empire City when an Al-Qaeda suicide bomber explodes all over the place and sets into motion a tremendously knuckleheaded chain of events. Even more knuckleheaded that one time Batman gratuitously napalmed a gang of thugs in All Star Batman & Robin.

Diplomacy, Frank Miller style. The most disappointing thing about Holy Terror is that those involved didn't stick with their guns and keep this a Batman project. The best way to read Holy Terror is just to pretend that it is Batman. It certainly looks like Batman. And sounds like (Frank Miller) Batman. Miller obviously doesn't keep any Tipp-Ex in his office, because Jim Gordon retains his signature moustache and glasses. He actually looks more like Gary Oldman in this than Commissioner Gordon in the official Batman Begins adaptation book. To re-iterate though, it's not Commissioner Gordon. It's not Batman either. Nor Catwoman, nor Gotham, honest.

Terrorists blow up Empire City, prompting The Fixer to wreak bloody revenge. Apparently Al-Quaeda have decided to take the whole city by force, which saves The Fixer from having to actually go anywhere. Because all Muslims are apparently terrorists, the final fight takes place in Empire City's oldest Mosque ("the Saudis spent a fortune on this place") which is also the terrorists' hiding place. But of course it is.

Anyone who reads modern Frank Miller will have been acutely aware of how Holy Terror was going to turn out. It does not disappoint. This is not the Frank Miller of Batman: Year One or The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil or even Sin City. This is xenophobic Frank Miller, propagandist. Except propaganda is supposed to make your own country look good, and Holy Terror makes America look stupider than ever. This isn't Captain America punching Hitler on the jaw. This is someone claiming that you can solve all of the world's problems by shooting them. Or "postmodern diplomacy," as he calls it.

The art though, is good. It depends on how much to one's tastes Frank Miller's art is (and the art in Holy Terror is very Frank Miller-y) but it's vibrant, thrilling and expressive. Some of it isn't very clear, but there's that old Frank Miller inventiveness we've all come to know and love. The attack and its immediate aftermath is the best section of the book, before it has a chance to become all angry and self-righteous. Miller really gets across the sense of shock, terror, disbelief and confusion. The stark, black & white imagery is great, reminiscent of his work on Sin City.

Even the script shows occasional flashes of wit. A terrorist comes at The Fixer and shouts "Jihad!" Fixer grunts "gesundheit" and kicks him off a building. It's a cheap laugh, but I did laugh. The rest of it, sadly, reads like a Frank Miller parody. One could argue Holy Terror as a work of self-parody or winking irony (and the only way to enjoy it is ironically) but mostly it's just not-Batman going around shooting terrorists and blowing up Mosques whilst a complete lack of sympathetic Muslim characters proliferates. The word 'Islamophobia' is bandied around quite a lot on these Internets nowadays, but in the case of Holy Terror, it's apt.

Holy Terror is not for the easily offended nor for the discerning comic book fan. If you can take it with a pinch of salt and a disappointed shake of the head, there's some fun to be had.

The Woman

Director: Lucky McKee (2011)
Starring: Sean Bridgers, Pollyanna McIntosh, Carlee Baker, Angela Bettis
Find it: IMDB

I'm already a moviegoer in the minority that I didn't hate Andrew van den Houten's Offspring. It wasn't particularly good, but I was able to overlook the film's faults and enjoy it for the silly, gory bit of cannibal torture guff that it is.

More people are going to enjoy The Woman than they did Offspring, for The Woman is technically a good film. The story is a lot more original and more memorable, the acting is all around better and the film's villains don't look stupid. That said, those who don't like The Woman are going to be a lot more vocal about why they don't like The Woman than those who don't like Offspring. Case in point: this review and that one guy you saw on Youtube who got angry at a screening.

A sequel to Offspring (although you don't need to have seen that film to understand what's going on), The Woman sees the lone survivor (McIntosh) of a cannibalistic clan captured by Chris Cleek (Bridgers), an apparently normal lawyer intent on 'civilising' her. Except the men of the Cleek household turn out to be far more savage than the actual savage. See, this is one of those horror movies with a message.

The cinematic equivalent of Marmite (and by that, I don't mean that it's banned in Sweden), you're either going to love or hate this one. I thought that it was very good, but can definitely understand the viewpoint of those in the opposite camp. Its well-intentioned sexual politics may seem outwardly misogynistic to those inclined towards sensationalism; especially given that every woman in the film undergoes either a beating, rape or death. McKee and Ketchum are trying to drive the point home that men are bastards, and this unfortunately comes at the detriment of the female characters' well-being. I do not think that The Woman is a misogynistic movie.

As an adaptation of the novel, it's as straight as you can get. I really enjoyed the book too, and was disappointed that the short story/epilogue The Cow wasn't included. The Cow is the best bit in the book. Anyway, this adaptation adds things like cheesy music, really gross visuals and Angela Bettis. Reviews I've read (well, reviews longer than "go fuck yourself") criticise The Woman for its naff soundtrack. I liked the naff soundtrack. It fits in with the blackly comic tone and lightens things up a bit, making for a (slightly) less depressing experience.

The Woman isn't as clever as other arthouse torture guffers Martyrs and A Serbian Film, but it does have more to say for itself than The Human Centipede (and likely that film's sequel too). I really don't agree with rape as a plot device (ew, Deadgirl) but this does try to back it up with some sort of empowerment, even if the message leaves room to be misconstrued via the unpleasant content. The catharsis, when it comes, feels genuine and is a real adrenaline blast.

The Woman is a highly divisive movie, but one you need to see for yourself before you condemn it. For me, it's one of the best horror movies of the year.

Jurassic Park

Director: Steven Spielberg (1993)
Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Dinosaurs.
Find it: IMDB

It's one of the greatest movies of all time. And it's been re-released. On the big screen. And not even in stupid 3D. I watched it. Obviously. And it's still one of the greatest movies of all time.

Until yesterday, the original Jurassic Park was the only one of the trilogy I'd not seen on the big screen. What an immense slap to the face for any film fan; to have seen the rubbish Jurassic Park 3 as intended, but not its actually good original bit. I've seen Jurassic Park at least seven times on television, VHS and DVD, but watching it at the cinema seemed like seeing it again for the very first time. Having seen Jurassic Park at the cinema, I can die a happy and complete man (unless, y'know, someone wants to do the same with Tim Burton's Batmen and maybe a few Star Wars).

You know the plot, off've the back of your hand. Gentle but cuckoo entrepreneur Richard Hammond (the Attenborough that isn't David) finds a way to bring dinosaurs back from extinction using mosquito fossils. Builds a park for all of his dinosaurs to live. Invites scientists, grandchildren and a lawyer to visit. The park breaks down. Dinosaurs run riot. Lawyer gets eaten on the toilet. Grumpy fossil fetishist learns to like children. Jeff Goldblum looks exceedingly cool throughout. Chaos reigns.

I swear to Cthulu I was so overjoyed at seeing Jurassic Park in this format that I nearly cried at one point. After all, being a boy of the nineties, Jurassic Park was a massive part of my childhood. I was obsessed with dinosaurs as a child, and obsessed with Jeff Goldblum. Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park forever warped my fashion sense. I still dress like Ian Malcolm. When I was thirteen, I owned a pair of leather trousers because I thought that they were the sort of thing that Ian Malcolm would wear. Whenever I go clothes shopping nowadays, a small part of my mind always buys with the motto "WWIMW" (What Would Ian Malcolm Wear?). I even used to scatter my speeches with carefully placed "ums" and "ahs". Thanks a lot Jeff Goldblum. Thanks a lot Jurassic Park, that's why people seem to think I'm a mathematician and a Jeff Goldblum gay. Ian Malcolm is the original man-crush.

Talking of crushes, I don't know why it took me so long to realise that nineties era Laura Dern is well hot. The characters are all beloved to me. I even like the children, and I hate most Spielberg movie children. Wayne Knight is brilliantly slimy as Dennis Nedry (my second favourite character, behind Doctor Malcolm). Jurassic Park harkens back to an era in filmmaking where Samuel L Jackson could die an offscreen death (with hair, no less) and blockbusters were fun. I half expected to leave the cinema and walk out into nineties Birmingham.

Oh sure, I would have liked to have kept Hammond's death scene from the book (although that may have traumatised younger viewers) and the CGI looks a little iffy nowadays, but I love Jurassic Park. Best moviegoing experience of 2011.

Attack The Block

Director: Joe Cornish (2011)
Starring: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Nick Frost
Find it: IMDB

Those who think that British culture is all "tally-ho" and "spiffing" with Hugh Grant and a Queen soundtrack will find a ripe riposte in Joe Cornish's Attack The Block, a gritty horror-comedy which pits nonsense-speaking hoodies against vicious aliens in the setting of an inner city tower block. Some of the yoofs' alleged charms may have been lost since last month's rioting in London and Birmingham, but Attack The Block is still a remarkably fair-handed, clever and very fun piece.
It opens with skint Nurse Sam (Whittaker) being mugged by a gang of hooded yobs. After half-inching her phone, cash and jewellery, the oiks make off to a nearby park where they happen across a lone alien, fallen out of the sky. Led by leader Moses (Boyega), the kids kick it to death. But their alien isn't as alone as it might have first appeared. A full-on alien invasion follows, the beasties intent on avenging the death of their fallen and tearing these delinquents a new one.

Were it not for the fact that the kids come to realise the error of their ways, I'd be inclined to side with the aliens. Writer and director Joe Cornish dances a fine line between sympathising with the brats, mocking and condemning them; by the end of the movie, you can sort of understand why they'd choose to behave how they do, even if you'd never agree with it. Still, it niggles slightly, especially when the kids make their inevitable transition to heroes at the end. Maybe had they not spent August trashing their own fucking cities, I would've been more receptive to Attack The Block's "yobbos are people too" message.

But this isn't Kidulthood; Attack The Block is an alien invasion movie. And a jolly good one it is too. As with most comedy slash horror pieces, it's never all that scary, but it approaches it. The aliens look a treat, and there are some nice gore effects amongst the jokes. Jodie Whittaker's Sam is a welcome presence, grounding the ghetto with proper words, grammar and generally not acting like a twat. Those terrified of Attack The Block's urban script will find further relief with Nick Frost's amusing drug dealer and posh pothead Brewis (Luke Treadway). But the hoodies are the film's stars, so you'd better learn to like them. And thankfully they do prove likeable in time. Lessons are learnt and redemption found. I particularly came to like Alex Esmail's 'Pest' and Leeon Jones as Jerome. Even if the former does spend most of the film looking like this cretin:

The truth, as they say, being stranger than fiction.

There's an underlying feeling that it should be funnier or scarier in places - and its soundtrack is intolerably horrible (I know, it's thoroughly appropriate) - but Attack The Block has a heart that's hard to deny. If all else fails, you can just enjoy the schadenfreude of seeing the wee scrotes meeting various gory ends.

Balls to national service or prison sentences; if we really want to sort out the youth of today, Attack The Block teaches us that the best thing to do is just throw some aliens at the little fuckers.


Director: Fred Andrews (2011)
Starring: Mehcad Brooks, Serinda Swan, Sid Haig
Find it: IMDB

A movie that The Internets hate even more than they hate Catwoman #1, Creature is garnering some truly awful reviews and a sense of scorn usually only reserved for Uwe Boll and Rob Schneider. Upon hearing that, it shot straight to the top of my must-see list. Having watched the thing, I can't say that it deserves all of the hate it's been receiving of late. Creature is far too much fun to dislike. Beware, this review is quite spoilerish:

Make no mistake though, Creature is a bad film. As I get older, I find myself becoming less and less interested in plot synopses that begin with the sentence "vacationing college students..." which is a big problem if you're a fan of horror. Creature is indeed about vacationing college students, and its opening moments see a car full of them pull up at a backwoods gas station only to have the locals take an immediate dislike to them. Presumably because the kids are overheard calling said locals "backwards" and generally insulting the place. It's film-making like this that makes me always side with the chainsaw-welding yokels. At least they have manners.

In this case, it's less the locals the kids have to worry about and more the movie's titular Creature. Handily the Creature is illustrated on the poster, so you can't say that you weren't warned when you complain about how shitty it looks.

There's a silly urban legend at play, some incest, a woman getting eaten by a white alligator (MOBY DICK, GEDDIT) and Sid Haig doing his very best with material only marginally more tolerable than a Rob Zombie film. And by 'tolerable', I mean utterly hilarious. The Creature's origin story has a man called Grimley go mad and kill a white alligator with his bare hands and then eat it afterwards. Oh sure, as origins go, it doesn't have the charm of Hatchet - but it does have a man killing and eating a white alligator after it murders his sister slash wife.

And the unintentional comedy doesn't finish there. There's a gratuitous lesbian scene that seems to come out of nowhere, followed by a man killing a snake and squirting its blood in the aforementioned occasional lesbian's face. Meanwhile, The Creature (unseen until well past the halfway mark) skulks in the bushes making clicky Predator sounds. When it finally does appear, it looks like the Alien from the end of Alien: Resurrection.

There's an almost constant force of unintentional hilarity. Sid Haig punches a woman in the face. After failing to get jiggy with her too-drunk friend, the Sometimes Sappho finds a man in the bushes and randomly starts jerking him off. But we shouldn't begrudge this bisexual babe her pleasures of the flesh; after all, she has rather a raw deal from Creature. Kidnapped by Haig and his Hillbillies, she suffers Texas Chain Saw Massacre bondage (complete with burlap gag) and winds up with her feet cut off.

Given Creature's incompetence, misogyny and thorough cheapness, it's beyond me how it managed to stagger past the Sy-Fy channel and into cinemas. The acting is good, I suppose, even if Sid Haig does look like he should be wearing clown makeup. Mehcad Brooks does a sterling job as the film's hero. His earnestness in the face of Creature's stupid rubber monster is truly admirable. It looks a lot like an episode of True Blood, so maybe they were trying to coast on that film's glory.

"Guys," one of the characters exclaims, as she wanders out of her tent wearing not much, "this isn't funny." I beg to differ.


Director: Stuart Gordon (2009)
Starring: William H Macy, Mena Suvari, Julia Stiles, Jeffrey Combs
Find it: IMDB

I recently lost my job. It wasn't my fault; Birmingham City council closed down the shopping centre where I work and hoofed the lot of us out unceremoniously. But it's fine - I hated that job and everything about it except for one or two of my colleagues (the ones I really hated being a fat racist Viking and a closeted paedophile who talked about rape all the time). Actually, I'll exit the parenthesis for now, because I'd like to share a couple of stories about those two particular characters. The Racist Viking didn't believe in black Welshmen and had some very interesting ideas concerning hospital cleanliness.
"Ban all of the Asians."
"Their beards are unhygienic. Shouldn't be allowed in hospitals."
Indeed. But he was an imbecile. His racism was just another aspect of that. He thought that Night Of The Living Dead was directed by a man called Johnny Ramirez and finds Family Guy funny. I rest my case. The rapist slash paedophile once had this conversation with me:
"If you had a time machine..." he started.
"Oho," I looked up, sensing a nice game of hypothetics.
"And could go back to any period in time..."
"Go on..."
"...who would you rape?"
"You'd never get caught. Ever. Who, me? Officer, I wasn't even born at the time. I think my choice would be Marilyn Monroe." Then he made a high pitched noise that sounded a little like 'eee-eeee' and went back to picking his armpits. The rapist slash paedophile also finds Family Guy funny. Just sayin'.

And that's why I was glad to leave that particular workplace. Also, they paid me a ridiculously large amount of money to go. I was effectively being paid to leave a job I loathed anyway. During my redundancy, I watched Stuart Gordon's Edmond for the first time. Watching Edmond, I was even more glad to be going, since I could really see where that cat is coming from. Except for the murders. William H Macy is Edmond, a middle-aged professional facing the mother of all midlife crises. Rather than buy a flashy car or leather jacket, he leaves his wife (Rebecca Pidgeon) and sets about unravelling all over the streets of New York, really annoying everyone he meets along the way.

Edmond is Falling Down remade for a new generation. Where Michael Douglas was aggressive and angry all over the place, William H Macy is confused, scared and doesn't understand the world in which he lives. Wandering through New York, he encounters a series of equally lost and confused characters, all played by very interesting actors and actresses. I'd never been a fan of Mena Suvari until I saw Gordon's Stuck, but she's good in this too - playing a prostitute with whom Edmond hilariously attempts to barter. Julia Stiles pops up as a waitress enchanted by Edmond's odd brand of soul-searching, and there's even a lovely cameo from Gordon regular Jeffrey Combs.

Edmond isn't a horror movie or even a thriller in the traditional sense, but Gordon has constructed a grotesque, seedy underworld in New York city and a confused, Lovecraftian protagonist from Macy's Edmond. Neither hero nor villain, Edmond does some truly terrible things in his movie, but by virtue of being played by William H Macy, he's impossible to hate.

Edmond is a fine movie, balancing existential angst with the pace of a thriller and the tone of a horror movie, all wrapped around a great lead performance from Mr. Macy. It ends surprisingly sweetly, offering hope in the same breath as sodomy. Edmond is dark, terrifying, hilarious and makes me super glad that I was kicked out of left my job when I did.


This review is in association with THE LAMB's director's chair.

Director: Michael Mann (1986)
Starring: William Petersen, Tom Noonan, Joan Allen, Brian Cox
Find it: IMDB

Gil Grissom's pre-CSI days pit him head-to-head against William Blake quoting pantyhose-faced serial killer The Tooth Fairy (Tom Noonan) and his very own demons in the shape of Doctor Hannibal Lecktor (Cox). This is Red Dragon alright - the only version of which you ever need to watch.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Gil Will Graham (Peterson) is an FBI profiler retired to Florida with his lovely wife and child. He's brought out of retirement to help hunt down The Tooth Fairy, a particularly vicious serial killer who murders whole families for kicks. In need of guidance and inspiration, Graham seeks out old mentor Hannibal Lecktor. No, I've not spelt that wrong. Docktor Lecktor being the same old cannibal we've always known him as, only this time played with less camp by Brian Cox instead of Anthony Hopkins. Cox is a very different Lecktor than Hopkins. Both are very good in the role, but I think I prefer Cox. He's more intimidating, more menacing - certainly more of a physical presence. I would have been curious to see how Cox would have handled more screen time in The Silence Of The Lambs and maybe Hannibal. Hard to see him putting himself in the position to be under threat from pigs, that's for sure.

Unlike Brett Ratner and his lazy "here's Hopkins, now I can just sit back and have a nap" style of direction, Michael Mann knows how to direct the hell out of a crime movie. The cinematography is all light cues and filters, disconcertingly brighter than we're used to from movies of this variety.

Mann has made quite the career out of pitting two quite different but very interesting forces against one another. Heat bought us Al Pacino vs Robert De Niro. He put Tom Cruise against Jamie Foxx in Collateral - and then made it not shit. Tom Cruise's hair is ridiculous in that movie, but it's to Mann's testament that Cruise's hair is the only ridiculous thing. Manhunter has William Petersen hunting Tom Noonan, and both men are fantastic. Petersen's Will Graham is the template for his CSI character, but he does it so well that it's not hard to see why he proved so popular as Gil Grissom. Noonan is at once intimidating and pitiful as Graham's prey. He's a right bastard, but you can't help but feel for him as his doomed relationship with Reba (Allen) progresses. Also, he looks utterly terrifying. Tattooed and with pantyhose on his head, I certainly wouldn't want to meet Tom Noonan's Dolarhyde down a dark alley.

Manhunter falters a little towards the end, losing the book's finale in favour of a fiery shootout, unworthy of both hunter and hunted. But it's still a very powerful movie, more interesting to me than The Silence Of The Lambs and most certainly Brett Ratner's dull, blatantly obvious remake/adaptation. After a disappointing reception upon release, Manhunter has since become regarded as something of a cult classic. Rightly so. This one is definitely worth Hunting down, Man.

You Asked For It: Timothy Olyphant's balls.

"My the what now?"

As a blogger, it's good practice to keep an eye on what the people want. To this end, I like to check out the search keywords feature on Blogger and a few other keyword analysis sites I use. Call it an invasion of your privacy, or a bit like the end of The Dark Knight, but if I keep a watch on such things, I can find out who reads this blog and adjust my content accordingly. Some of you, by the way, might be in a little trouble if the police ever come a'knocking. I'd keep your computer away from PC World, that's all I'm sayin'.

This post, I'm going to use as a sort of FAQ, answering a few questions that have come up recently and providing a few requests. Because I'm nice like that. Who knows, it might become a regular feature. (Otherwise, feel free to ask me anything on Formspring or something, like the fifteen year old girl I am at heart). Below, the best keyword searches and then, my answers.

Q:) When did they find the Titanic?
A:) September 1st, 1985, by Newfoundland.

Q:) Who was the other test monkey in Planet Of The Apes?
A:) There were three - Caesar, Bright Eyes and Koba.

Q:) Which 4 minutes were cut from A Serbian Film?
A:) Parts of individual scenes, mostly those involving children.

Next up, someone asked for some Captain America jokes. (Q:) What do you call a black Captain America? (A:) Captain America, you racist. The rest are all puns on him being shot in the head and jokes about Chris Evans the crap English TV personality. Anyway, the best joke (well, more one-liner) about Captain America is the one the man made himself in The Ultimates, whilst punching an alien Nazi to death. Someone tells him to surrender, and Cap says:

He's here all day folks. If Joss Whedon doesn't include that line in The Avengers, I swear to god he is dead to me.

A lot of the following keyword searches come from kinky buggers looking for something to tickle their fancies. Megan Fox in bondage, mostly, but also Zooey Deschanel, Suzi Lorraine, Liv Tyler and Gemma Arterton in the same sort of situation. But it's not all boobs and bondage, for a few of you were looking for Timothy Olyphant "his balls" and Wentworth Miller's body.

A couple more FAQs now:

Q:) 5150 Elm's Way spoilers
A:) They play chess.

Q:) Skyline the movie is so stupid reviews
A:) Agreed.

Q:) Best Star Trek cats
A:) The only one I really know is Spot, Data's kitty.

Q:) Humains movie spoiler
A:) It was Fred Flintstone what done it.

Furthermore, the Killer Tiger movie you're looking for is called Burning Bright. And yes, Titanic 2 is a real film. It also accounts for at least 10% of the traffic to this site, so I guess I'm glad it exists. Sadly I have no 'zombie tickle torture' for you, nor any 'Hillbilly rape comics'. And now, presenting the two most requested images:

Deanna Troi cake and Harvey Keitel's penis. What is wrong with you people?

Keep 'em coming, google searchers.


Director: James Wan (2010)
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

The word 'insidious' means to proceed "in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects." Thanks, Wikipedia. Note the word 'subtle' there. Insidious the film is anything but subtle. It's like the plot of Paranormal Activity as retold by Brian Blessed with a speakerphone and a heavy metal band, screaming the whole way through. Not only is Insidious less subtle than Paranormal Activity, it's probably the least subtle horror movie of its generation, employing everything from bright green colour filters to the loudest use of a piano since one was dropped on Wile E. Coyote's head. This is a very loud film in every sense of the word, so much so that it'd be better summed up with a series of screams rather than a conventional title.

One day, little Dalton Lambert (Simpkins) slips into a coma, seemingly without reason or explanation. Momma Renai (Byrne) and Poppa Josh (Wilson) are scared and confused. Even more so when their house shows signs of haunting, all doors being slammed and scary figures appearing in the windows. Psychic Elise (Shaye) is called. She diagnoses that it's wee Dalton that's haunted, and not the house.

Haunted by Darth Maul, apparently. From the introduction of Lin Shaye's psychic (and some much needed comic relief in the form of her comedy sidekicks) Insidious becomes less a haunted house movie and more a shouty musing on astral projection and other dimensions. The best handling of that sort of thing is in James Herbert's brilliant Nobody True. This here isn't particularly atrocious, but nor is it very memorable either. The demon I almost liked, but the more you see of it, the less impressive it becomes. Initially impressive, you'll soon realise that its amalgamation of Darth Maul, Freddy Kreuger and Spider-Man is actually a bit shit and should have stayed behind Patrick Wilson's shoulder.

Being a buffoon and heathen, I rarely notice the background music in movies. With Insidious I couldn't see beyond it. It's perhaps the loudest horror film I've ever seen. Every time anything happens, it's accompanied by a loud hammering of the piano or merciless twanging of a violin. The imagery isn't all that bad though, so the filmmakers effectively telling us when we should be scared feels a bit condescending. It's like the laughter track on a particularly terrible sitcom. "You have to be scared now, by the way."

Apollo 18

Director: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego (2011)
Starring: Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen, Ryan Robbins

There's a reason we've never gone back to the Moon. That reason isn't Transformers, apparently. Relocating The Blair Witch Project to our Moon, Apollo 18 sends a gang of unsuspecting Astronauts camping up there. What they find is more Paranormal Activity than Wallace And Gromit; less a grand day out and more screaming and being pulled into dark craters. Are you shitting me, Apollo 18? If Aliens taught us anything, it's that violent monsters and creepy creatures are more likely to get people up there poking about, not less.

Despite my never having really been a fan of found footage films ([Rec] and the odd cannibal piece aside), I was eager to see Apollo 18. The thought of a horror movie set on the Moon is an intriguing one, and the found footage bit works here, since there's largely a reason to be dragging around cameras and it's a cool way to see the environment. It sounds the part too, all crackling communication systems and R2D2 beeps. It's nicely acted by its cast of unknowns. But it's the job of an actor in this sort of film to be sort of an everyman, so they're all nice but forgettable, other than their various nasty fates and rubbish characterisation.

Unfortunately, whilst the presentation is good, the story and everything else is over familiar and predictable. It alleges a 40-year cover up from NASA. But you'd think someone (not least the 400,000 people it takes to put an operation together) would have noticed a honking great spaceship being shot up there. NASA aren't happy either, stressing that the movie and its bad science is "not a documentary." They were however, fine with Michael Bay's Dark Of The Moon. Mind you, Rosie Huntingdon Whiteley's acting was so bad there that I don't suppose you're in any danger of anyone thinking that's she's a real actual person.

I enjoyed it, although it's not particularly scary and not at all suspenseful. As space horror goes, it's certainly better than Red Planet or Mission To Mars, but falls well short of the standards as set by the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Duncan Jones's beautiful Moon.

Ultimately, the most disappointing thing about this film is that no-one at any point says "Houston, we have a problem." I was on tenterhooks the whole 75 minutes too, waiting for that.

The Gruesome Death Of Tommy Pistol

Director: Aramis Sartorio (2010)
Starring: Tommy Pistol, Daisy Sparks, Camilla Lim, Jon Lee Brody
Find it: IMDB, Facebook

Singlehandedly the most sickening thing I've watched since The Taint. As a man does unspeakable things with a cheese grater and another eats a pie made of chicken feet and drugs, I did a little bit of sick in my mouth. The Gruesome Death Of Tommy Pistol, although it takes a little longer to get going, is every bit as sick and degenerate as The Taint (my favourite Indie film of last year, by the way) and maybe even a little more so in places.

Tommy Pistol consists of a number of viginettes, each more disgusting than the last, framed around a man having masturbatory fantasies whilst a hot dog burns in the microwave. The first viginette plays like Forrest Gump meets 9mm meets A Serbian Film sort of thing, all ball gags and kitchen equipment. Because I have a weak stomach, it's my favourite segment. Less gloop than everywhere else in the film. The second bit features a truly bizarre celebrity cameo, the best Terminator 2 skit I have ever seen and the protagonist dressing up in another man's skin, all Leatherface style. Part three is utterly revolting body horror and pornography in the very worst best uniquest way.

Much like The Taint, this isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea (especially if you don't like your tea with extra sewage) but is quite brilliant if you can look past the technical shortcomings and fart jokes. It's Herschell Gordon Lewis crossed with John Waters crossed with Two Girls One Cup. Most of all though, it has heart, it's delightfully over the top and doesn't take itself too seriously. I laughed at most of the jokes. It's great fun and I'd recommend it to all fans of budget horror. But beware, you may never be able to look at a cheese grater in quite the same way again.

Final Destination 3

Director: James Wong (2006)
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ryan Merriman, Kris Lemche
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

Poor Death. Every time it looks like he can put his feet up and chill, along comes another bunch of stupid psychic kids and another stupid destination. No wonder he seems so vindictive; he's just trying to do his job and kids like Alex and Kimberly and now Wendy (Winstead) come along and screw things up for him.

In addition to aeroplanes and dentists' offices, Final Destination 3 gave me more to be a big girl's blouse about; rollercoasters (which I already hated) and sunbeds. For me, the sunbed sequence is probably the most horrible in the whole series. Not that I would ever be seen on a sunbed anyway. My skin is gross enough already without being made to look either skin-cancer ridden or like David Dickinson's walnut chode-bag.

But aside from housing the most gruesome pair of deaths in the whole franchise, Final Destination 3 suffers rather painfully from a case of diminishing returns. We know the drill by now, and the rest of the deaths aren't fun or gory enough to hold up to the previous films. There's also Frankie Cheeks (Sam Easton), a character who does nothing but irritate with every moment he remains alive. His eventual death is nowhere near gruesome enough to offset how much of a pain in the tits he is all the way through.

With the return of original director James Wong goes David R Ellis's s sense of fun and glee (I know, The Final Destination didn't have much of that either, but it's still marginally better than this). There's also an atrocious moment in which the kids link events in the movie to those of 9/11. A picture of the Twin Towers is produced, the shadow of an aeroplane looming over the landmarks. It's as heavy handed and callous as the opening of Postal. Even more so, since you're supposed to be taking this seriously.

The film trundles towards a tired, predictable climax with no twists or surprises along the way. It's passable and even a little amusing at times, but maybe this Destination was one port of call too many. Next up: THE Final Destination (which wasn't).

Final Destination 2

Director: David R Ellis (2003)
Starring: AJ Cook, Ali Larter, Michael Landes, Tony Todd
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

I saw this movie before I'd seen the original. And furthermore, I saw this three times in a row. At the cinema. And I've seen it about once on DVD and three or so times since on television. Final Destination 2 is not only my favourite sequel in the series but it's my favourite overall instalment too, beating the original in terms of fun, gore and inventiveness.

This time there's an enormous pile-up on a motorway, averted by a premonition from Kimberly (Cook) who pulls her own car over and saves a bunch of lives in the process. Again, Death is displeased and forced to clean up the spillage. Cue some of the best carnage this side of an episode of Casualty. Thank you, Final Destination 2, for forever making me terrified of the dentist. Every death in this movie is a classic. My particular favourites are the car crash in the field (hmm, if I thought Death himself was out to get me, the last place you'd see me would be in a fucking car) and the guy who slips on spaghetti and gets poked in the eye with a ladder.

Tony Todd and Ali Larter make welcome returns. The bodycount is increased, there's more gore and there's quite a bit of tension to the final act. Admittedly, I hate the sequence which tries to tie everyone and everything into the events of the first film, but a cool kill bit is never far away, distracting from such silliness.

I love Final Destination 2. Alack, the sequels are mostly downhill from here, but even then there you'll find an entertaining bit of splatter or two to perk things up. Bless them though, they've still not recognised how stupid they sound, putting numbers near the word 'final'.

Final Destination

Director: James Wong (2000)
Starring: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Stifler, Tony Todd
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

I first watched the original Final Destination movie the night before I was set to board an aeroplane for only the second time in my life. Already a nervous flyer, I don't think it helped much. Also, I was sat sandwiched between my most loathed college lecturer and the head of form for the whole journey, so that too. Subsequent journeys have coincided with episodes of LOST and Con Air and Snakes On A Plane and even that episode of Supernatural with the demon on the plane. I'm an idiot when it comes to pre-flight TV. Final Destination though, is the ultimate disaster movie.

It's a slasher movie where you never see the actual slasher. After a freak premonition, teen idiot Alex (Sawa) is convinced that the plane carrying him and his buddies on a school trip is going to explode and kill the lot of them. He kicks up a ruckus and, as soon as he and a bunch of other passengers are booted off the plane, it explodes. Lucky escape, right?

Only no, because Death doesn't like being cheated. This is mean, jobsworth Death, not dryly witty Terry Pratchett Death or sexy Neil Gaiman Death. This Death wants his deaths. What follows is like a really gory version of those daytime TV insurance adverts where people fall off ladders and slip over all the time. Whilst the deaths here aren't quite as memorable as some of those in the sequels, there are some standouts. A kid being strangled in the shower is particularly grisly, and the beheading of Stifler is just hilarious. I'm going to go ahead and say that Seann William Scott is one of the most underrated actors of his generation, and I'm not even joking there.

Final Destination is a great, fun little movie and its first sequel is even better. The franchise is entirely disposable, but therein lies the appeal. It's not snowed under with mythology, its characters aren't all hateable and it's not disappeared up its own ass. It makes me think twice about acting like a knob around sharp implements and kitchen equipment. Final Destination probably saved my life.

Paranormal Activity

Director: Oren Peli (2007)
Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Fredrichs
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

A whining girl and her horrible, obnoxious boyfriend are stalked at night by a bullyish demon who tramples around their house setting fire to ouija boards and slamming doors as he goes.

After years of uninterest and not a little horror snobbery, I finally caved and decided to watch Paranormal Activity. I hoped it would be rubbish just so I could use the "Paranormal Craptivity" joke I've been saving. Alas, whilst Paranormal Activity is hardly original or groundbreaking, it's not all that bad either.

The first thing that comes to mind watching this is a very heavy Blair Witch influence. It's pretty much a remake of The Blair Witch Project if the kids had decided to stay in bed instead of going camping. It boasts a cast of unknowns and consists entirely of footage recorded by the protagonists themselves. During the day, Katie (Katie) and Micah (Micah) carry the camera around to record their annoying day-to-day nonsense. At night, it sits in the bedroom recording them as they sleep. Not in a kinky way.

If you've seen Most Haunted or any of those terrible Ghosthunting programmes, well, Paranormal Activity plays exactly like that. I have friends who remain convinced to this day that Paranormal Activity is a documentary. You'd have thought that Derek Acorah could have made an effort. There is a psychic in this movie, but he's useless. Whilst Katie's Demon is at first content to go around slamming doors and turning the TV on and off, Micah soon antagonises it into further action. Which, to be fair, did actually shit me up.

The movie's escalation into proper scares is very impressive. It starts out amusingly enough, letting you get to know (and in the case of the horrible boyfriend, hate) the characters, with a couple of mild chills here and there. Then it gets a bit more serious - creepier and more tense than I was expecting - before finally hitting the mark with some proper scares. It is every bit as creepy and unsettling as I'd heard it was. I actually found it more chilling than The Blair Witch. Although I have always thought that The Blair Witch is tremendously overrated, so that's not saying much (its horrible sequel somehow gave me nightmares though, so kudos).

This film too, seems almost unworthy of its success. It's all cheap parlour tricks, its scares coming at the detriment of plausibility and characters. Micah, in particular, is painted as a massive douche. Forget the Demon, he's the real villain of the piece. He's arrogant, annoying, stupid and I fail to see how any girl could bear to share a house with him. He winds the Demon up every step of the way and, y'know what, I can sympathise. Paranormal Activity loses a Scream Queen for Micah alone, possibly the most horrible character I have ever encountered in a movie like this. The pair together are all stupid decisions and passivity. Not once do they seem to consider sleeping with the lights on, buying a crucifix or even just going for a walk. Shit, by day two I'd be on the phone to an Exorcist, let alone day thirteen.

Paranormal Activity is a very scary movie - yes, even terrifying sometimes - but its strings are too visible for me to enjoy this in the same way I did [Rec]. Even The Blair Witch had good characterisation and a modicum of plausibility. For all of its considerable shocks and thrills, this feels manipulative. That said, I will be sleeping with the light on tonight.

Fright Night (1985)

Director: Tom Holland (1985)
Starring: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Roddy McDowall, Amanda Bearse
Find it: IMDB

Up there with Ghostbusters as my favourite 1980s' classic, Fright Night is a movie very dear to my heart. It's one of my favourite vampire movies of all time. I still own it on video cassette somewhere (a double feature tape, accompanied by the also-classic Candyman). I'm scheduled to see the David Tennant remake tomorrow, so decided to revisit this old favourite in anticipation. Having not seen Fright Night in ten years or so, I found myself worried that it might wind up being shit. Is it? Read on to find out.

Long answer: Fright Night is every bit as good as I remember and then some. It's like Rear Window crossed with Dracula. Charley Brewster (Ragsdale) sees a coffin being carried into the house next door and becomes convinced that his new neighbour is a vampire. When he apparently sees a girl murdered and reports it to the police, silly Charley brings himself to vampire Jerry's (Sarandon) attention. Terrified, Charley turns to TV vampire hunter Peter Vincent (McDowall) for help. The Best Movie Since Ghostbusters ensues.

It's a lot tenser and a lot scarier than I remember it being, with Chris Sarandon's Jerry making more of an impact now than he did the first time I watched it. Colin Farrell, you have a lot to live up to (wifebeater vest or no). All I really remembered was a gory finale (still gruesome, but less gory than I remembered) and Roddy McDowall being thoroughly awesome. Roddy McDowall is still thoroughly awesome, especially now that I recognise Peter Vincent as a very clever Peter Cushing impersonation.

The nightclub sequence is a particular highlight, as is Evil Ed's (Stephen Geofferys) initial encounter with Vincent. Oozing sex and menace, Jerry terrifies Vincent and the kids towards an inevitable showdown (and a less good sequel), without so much as a single sparkle along the way.

It's glorious to discover that Fright Night is still a very good film, especially since my adulthood has brought with it a love of everything horror. Fright Night is good not only as a camp 1980s curiosity but also a horror gem. Tennant, Farrell and McLovin beware, this is one bar that has been set very high.

We Are What We Are: Danny Dyer, Pot Noodle and Modern British Horror.

The following was printed in Issue #1 of Golf Sale magazine, a punky, underground sort of thing that features articles on and interviews with promising British talent, including musicians, writers, artists and filmmakers. It's run by a very good friend of mine (Mister Impossible of Dan Impossible Must Be Destroyed!) and really is a jolly good read. It also features a column of my very own doing.

For Issue #1, I was tasked to write a brief thing on the state of modern British horror. I'd much rather you bought the magazine itself (it's only three quid, stingy tart) but you may find it reprinted below. You can buy Golf Sale here, comforted in the knowledge that you're supporting the independent presses. Look out for more of me in Issue #2. I've written an article about murdering children, and will be interviewing the director of a cool new budget horror movie. The tone here is a bit more 'Horror 101' than readers here might be used to, but it contains at least one joke and even a swear word. Do read on*, please:

As the end credits rolled over We Are What We Are, the Mexican cannibal movie, I took a moment to reflect. Then, I stepped away from the mirror and did some thinking about horror movies. Mainstream Hollywood horror is all fine and well, but I'll usually go global if I'm looking for something a little more challenging or original. That, and subtitles make me feel clever.

While Hollywood is producing mostly sparkling vampires, repetitive torture nonsense and childish remakes, there's never been a better time to be a fan of horror, globally. Some of the best I've ever seen is emerging from around the world. France has brought us the likes of the incredible Martyrs, the divisive Irreversible and overrated Switchblade Romance. That movie's Alexandre Aja went on to bring us two of America's few good remakes – The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha 3D. Japan, meanwhile, has Takashi Miike, whose oeuvre speaks for itself. There's also the likes of Grotesque, a silly torture movie that managed to get itself banned over here in the UK. Meanwhile, Korea produces some of my favourite movies, not limiting itself to torture like so many others seem to nowadays. Oldboy, The Host and The Chaser all come highly recommended. The less said about Ireland's Shrooms the better. It's the Jedward of horror movies (although its Isolation is reportedly a lot better). There's A Serbian Film that you might want to watch (or not, depending on your tolerance for, oh, baby rape) and Sweden's Let The Right One In is the best vampire movie of its century. Then what, I thought, has England brought to the table?

It was with no small amount of terror and disgust that I realised that the answer was Danny Dyer.

Pop into your local HMV (please, it needs the business) and you'll find the horror section populated with an overwhelming amount of Dyer movies. Only one of those movies is actually good. The only good things Dyer has ever done: Severance and that episode of Britain's Hardest Men where he gets repeatedly slapped in the chops. Severance is an above-average horror comedy at best. It succeeds in spite of Danny Dyer and in no way because of him. On the plus side, he gets a good kicking over the course of the movie. Doghouse, which also stars Dyer, initially promises quality. It has Stephen Graham and Noel Clarke, and is about a zombification virus which only affects women. Quickly one realises that Doghouse is quite the misogynist. Its big revelation is that Graham needs to 'man up' and 'kill anything in a dress'. Doghouse acknowledges the zombies as women (“zombirds”, yohoho), Danny Dyer uses the phrase “remote control women” and at that point I gave up. Doghouse is probably Jim Davidson's favourite movie of 2009.

Too much British cinema seems like it was written by a round table of Nuts readers. The nadir lies in gangster/vampire mashup Dead Cert, starring not only Dyer but some ex-Eastenders too. There are a ton of laddish Brit horror movies, and it shows no abating, with Cockneys vs Zombies being released soon.

This, thanks to Shaun Of The Dead, which helped revitalise British horror and unwittingly unleashed a horde of imitators. Never mind that Shaun was affectionate, genuinely funny and well-written; that it starred two slacker best mates was enough. What its imitators fail to recognise is that Shaun and Ed aren't supposed to be aspirational figures. Also, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are charismatic and likeable. Danny Dyer and Tamer Hassan are not. Ever. Nevertheless, Shaun Of The Dead is one of the finest zombie movies ever made.

Going on Shaun Of The Dead, you'd be forgiven in thinking that British cinema is all jocular fun with a Queen soundtrack. But more prescient are scenes of traumatic violence, bleakness and cruelty. If you've ever seen a Ken Loach movie, you'll know how depressing British drama can be. Our horror is no different. Much of it is inspired by social issues and newspaper headlines. One recurring theme is a fear of our own children; F, The Children, Cherry Tree Lane and Eden Lake all pit downtrodden adults against feral yobs. They're depressing movies, depicting adults as ineffectual and weak, and children as little Deliverance bastards. The fear of children, by the way, is called paedophobia, which doesn't mean what I thought it did.

Consistently producing good work is the director Neil Marshall. His Descent is in my top five horror movies of all time. In fact, three of my top five movies of all time are British, and that's not just a misguided sense of patriotism: The Descent is a wonderful movie.

Amongst my favourite other b(r)its of UK horror lies The Cottage, which mixes black comedy with the gore and violence of a backwoods slasher movie. It stars Andy Serkis and Reece Shearsmith as a pair of bungling brothers who kidnap a foul-mouthed gangster's daughter and then fall afoul of a disfigured psycho farmer. It's funny without being laddish and violent without pointlessness. All that, and no Danny Dyer. Get offa my land indeed.

Director Paul Andrew Williams started out with the incredibly miserable but critically acclaimed London To Brighton. Many said he was slumming it with The Cottage, which goes to show the sustained snobbery and prejudice against horror. I prefer The Cottage because, thanks, watching a gangster try to rape a thirteen year old hooker is too depressing even for me.

Williams' peers - the likes of Shane Meadows and Danny Boyle - aren't directors of horror per se, but their movies nevertheless tend to be some of the best and most inventive out there. Boyle reinvigorated the zombie genre with his 28 Days Later, but I find moments of horror in most of his pictures.

And then there's Shane Meadows, who directed my third favourite movie of all time; Dead Man's Shoes. It's an extremely downbeat and depressing piece, featuring a powerhouse performance from Paddy Considine's beard as an ex-army man seeking revenge against those who wronged his learning-difficulties brother. Some of it plays like a thriller, others like a slasher movie and others comedic. It's inherently British, its gangsters drinking tea and eating Pot Noodle. You don't get much more English than tea and Pot Noodle. Dead Man's Shoes is an utterly heartbreaking movie though; the Oldboy of British cinema.

What we do do, if you care to take a look at some of our finest films, is realism. Like queuing and cups of tea and Pot Noodle and Cliff Richard, whingeing is a very British thing. And that's what we've contributed to world horror cinema – whingeing, grit and unhappy endings. Oh no, hoodies have killed my boyfriend. Oh noes, there's a tooth in this pie. Well, let's have a cup of tea, shall we? f you dig a little beneath the surface, you'll find some true gems buried amongst all of the crap. We no longer have Hammer as we knew it, but we do have a generation of simultaneously funny, depressing, versatile directors to rival any Takashi Miike, John Carpenter or Alexandre Aja.

On behalf of England, though, I am truly sorry about Danny Dyer.

*And buy a copy of this magazine. Please.

I got an Iphone. Also, reviews.

Less a set of reviews and more an excuse to brag about the fact that I bought an Iphone this week, joining the masses just like Commander Riker in that episode of Star Trek where everyone gets addicted to a fancy Nintendo except Wesley Crusher. I wish I could say that I was brainwashed into it, but I always wanted an Iphone, just never had the money for it. Well this week, I also got made redundant, and with that came an obscenely large redundancy package. It's like getting paid to quit a job I hated. With that money, I bought an Iphone.

Being a horror idiot, the first two things I did were to download some Friday The Thirteenth wallpaper and then type 'Evil Dead' into an apps search. They do have an app for that, as it happens. Two apps; Evil Dead and Army Of Darkness.

Ash has never looked so cute as he does in the Evil Dead game, with speech bubbles and a wee bobble head. The interface takes some getting used to, using your thumbs to both move Ash and aim his boomstick. Even after an hour or so of playing, I found myself screwing up with some regularity. Better is the axe and chainsaw. Ash doesn't just have Deadites to worry about, but evil trees, bitey plants and angry monks too. There are two story modes - the plot of the first Evil Dead film and then something called 'winter'. Which is a sequel set in the snow and with evil monks trying to kill you and steal the Necronomicon. I'd rather they just did the plot of Evil Dead II, but this weird sequel is fun enough. For something under £3, Evil Dead is well worth a playthrough. Although Bruce Campbell doesn't do any voice effects, which is a shame. Especially when one considers that the game is marketed as official.

Army Of Darkness is both free and a lot more addictive than Evil Dead. It's a side-scrolling bit in which you have to defend your castle against an army of the dead. In addition to Ash, you can call upon soldiers to help you, as well as other characters from the film. It's repetitive but incredibly addictive. Even better, it uses soundbytes from the movie and has you twatting skeletons with a chainsaw hand. Where I may never play Evil Dead again, I possibly will never stop playing Army Of Darkness. For a mobile phone game, it has better graphics than the movie itself. You earn coins by holding back the hordes of Deadites; coins which you spend on upgrades and troops. You can buy a pit to throw the monsters in and when Ash shouts "klaatu, barada... necktie" a little necktie appears around his neck. The game is full of nice wee touches like that.

It's getting to the stage where I get angry whenever someone calls or texts me. Damn reality, getting in the way of my Evil Deadding.