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Showing posts from May, 2011

Blood Moon Rising

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Title: Blood Moon Rising
Rating: 2.5/5
Genre: Horror/Comedy
Starring: Laurie Love, Neal Trout
Director: Brian Skiba

It certainly seems like Grindhouse flicks are becoming all the rage; first Planet Terror and then Machete, but this hints at something that Rodriguez' offerings didn't: the complete and utter absence of a respectable budget. Mimicking the film reels used in the old 70s offerings, the time period this is also set in comes complete with all the drug abuse, random sex scenes and fake blood exploding everywhere. This should have been something glorious; a film not as much mocking the past but re-creating it in all its nonsensical glory. Vampires, Demons, Werewolves and Zombies coalescing in a whirlwind plot that somehow involves a cursed book that opens the gates of Hell so the Devil – a vampires father, who in turn happens to be the great great grandmother of our female protagonist – desperately trying to use a oddly shaped pendant to prevent hell on earth.

Our fir…

The Witch Who Came From the Sea

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Title: The Witch Who Came From the Sea
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Exploitation (Psychological Drama)
Starring: Millie Perkins
Director: Matt Cimber

Well known film critic Mark Kermode once described this as one of the unsung gems of the video-nasty era – films deemed too psychologically harmful for viewing by the general public, resulting in a ban. Oddly, it feels wholly undeserving of this status; usually emerging as a result of being horrifically violent and showing depictions of subject matter on the extreme end, the only perceivable reason for this film being banned is the core plot, hinging on the psychological trauma of our protagonist who was sexually abused as a child. Much of the violence is implied rather than specifically seen; this is no “I Spit on Your Grave” but rather almost a companion piece in a similar vein but focussing on her mental stability and just how ill she truly is.

The plot never seems all that stable – a good reflection on our leads mindset per…

Repo! A Genetic Opera

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Title: Repo! A Genetic Opera
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Musical, Horror, Sci-Fi
Starring: Alexa Vega, Paul Sorvino, Anthony Head, Sarah Brightman, Paris Hilton, Bill Moseley
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

With a whole host of stars in this one, it seems rather impressive that it snuck under my radar, and even if musicals aren't usually my genre of choice, with the director responsible for a good portion of the Saw saga (Saw II-IV) it would certainly appear as though this was not to be a typical affair; expect no shying away from gore – even if it never takes precedence – and a devilish plot that would rob this film of one of its greatest assets if I went into too much depth. Set in the dystopian near future, where organs can be bought for a high price and then brutally repossessed should you fail to make your payments; where cosmetic surgery has gone to a new extreme in must have necessity, springs this tale of the corporation responsible for such actions, GeneCo, and it's dark past…

Confessions

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Title: Confessions
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Dark Psychological Drama/Thriller
Starring: Takako Matsu, Yoshino Kimura, Masaki Okada
Director: Tetsuya Nakashima
Language: Japanese

A film that got critical acclaim at the Toronto Film Festival, and last years Japanese entry to the Oscars, we don't get far into the half hour long opening monologue before it's revealed that this isn't going to be one with a happy ending. The power of her words on the class she teaches as she unveils her decision to resign and the slow gradual dying down of the jovial atmosphere as she explains herself and the gravity of the situation begins to sink in; her young daughter of just four years old has died, and two members of her class are responsible. Told through a series of confessions, we learn of the pain she's endured in raising her child as a single mother and the pressures placed upon her to guide her young students, and as her revenge is revealed, the impact she has on the lives of those und…

Mosquito Man

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Title: Mosquito Man
Also Known As: Mansquito
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror
Starring: Corin Nemec, Musetta Vander, Matt Jordon
Director: Tibor Takács

The first Syfy film in a while, probably the first of a few; starring that dude from “Raging Sharks” and a girl from “Planet Raptor,” that, now in her 40s is no longer the prettiest thing around, still manages to make ravaging a guys neck and drinking their blood look pretty hot. It all kicks off when were introduced to some experimental research, testing various specimens to see if they can kill off mosquito's infected with a deadly virus by sticking them in an irradiation chamber with some silly putty and a bit of water for the dye to run into. Well as usual the research is going too slowly so they invite a man on Death Row to the party, and in the ensuing escape attempt, blows himself up getting this blue silly putty all over him, along with a dangerous blast of radiation, and by the powers of bad science, we have MOSQUITO M…

Terracotta East Asian Film Festival Special: Foreword

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With the frequent talk of Wacken and Maryland Death Fest, it somehow seems oddly fitting that I lose my 'festival virginity' to a three-day excursion devoted entirely to films from East Asia. This film festival has delivered on premières in almost every genre from nearly half a dozen countries and guest stars offering valuable insights into their work, and with more films on offer than most working men can watch, I offer my countdown on eight of the films on display along with the following lessons I've learnt as a result: Tak Sakaguchi shouldn't expect a career in singing any time soon, merchandise stands will empty the contents of your wallet and when Rina Takeda misses her high kicks, bones get broken. It may not have the thousands of attendants than music festivals achieve, but this simply means I should be all the more grateful, and so I offer my thanks to Terracotta distribution, the Prince Charles Cinema and all the volunteers involved in making it a success and…

Child's Eye

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Title: Child's Eye
Rating: 2.5/5
Genre: Ghost Horror
Starring: Shawn Yue, Ka Tung Lam, Jo Kuk
Director: Pang Brothers
Language: Chinese

Terracotta East Asian Film Festival: #8

For those who aren't aware of their body of work, they've risen in recent years as the Chinese Horror champions, bringing a touch of psychological 'Ju-on' like scares to the screens most notably with 'The Eye,' (as well as The Eye II and III, but lets not dwell on the negatives for too long) which to the unobservant could easily slip into some 'best of J-Horror' lists. Child's Eye sounds a little like it's trying to cash in on the name even though it has nothing to do with their past work; telling the tale of six friends stranded on holiday in Bangkok, Thailand, riots having closed off the airport, and they are granted little choice but to hole up in a dilapidated hotel. They aren't there long when mysterious events start happening; things begin moving of their own …

Tiger Factory

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Title: The Tiger Factory
Rating: 3/5
Genre: Drama
Starring: Fooi Mun Lai
Director: Woo Ming Jin
Language: Malay

Terracotta East Asian Film Festival: #7

Malaysia isn't exactly a country well known for its output of cinema, and little research on the matter shows that wikipedia has a list of all the major theatrical releases from this part of the world. Quite frankly, if wikipedia can make this list, then it's not exactly big business, and one glance at this film and you can quickly ascertain that the budget it was shot on wasn't exactly through the roof. In fact much of it initially comes across as somewhat amateurish with its use of handheld camera and the lack of editing of the scenes, but oddly, here this works in its favour. It's stark minimalism in the script yields a very realistic 'fly on the wall' feel; as though its less about telling a story as it is showing the life of our lead, and the very unapologetic manner it displays her life and the hardship i…

Man of Vendetta

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Title: Man of Vendetta
Original Title: The Destroyed Man
Rating: 3/5
Genre: Thriller
Starring: Myung-min Kim, Ki-joon Uhm
Director: Min-ho Woo
Language: Korean

Terracotta East Asian Film Festival: #6

A staple diet for Korea with a plethora of thrillers emerging each year, but often failing to find that elusive element to make the stand out from the crowd. They've managed to get the details down to perfection, but as a result too often does it all come across as predictable, having seen a film bearing too much resemblance already. Such is the case here; comparisons to the well known film 'The Chaser' seem as apt as any other, particularly in the manner the game of cat and mouse is played out between the victim and the man who always seems to be just one step ahead of him, with both making use of every ounce of cunning they can muster so as to outfox the other and bring themselves one step closer to their eventual goal.

When a pastor, Young-Soo's, daughter is captured an…

Yakuza Weapon

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Title: Yakuza Weapon
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Action, Comedy
Starring: Tak Sakaguchi, Cay Izumi (Robogeisha)
Director: Tak Sakaguchi, Yudai Yamaguchi
Language: Japanese

Terracotta East Asian Film Festival: #5

Following on that brand of action – and based on a manga, so you know this ones gonna make no sense – is a film directed and starred in by Tak Sakaguchi, swordsman and martial arts man, director of the previously reviewed 'Samurai Zombie' and star of 'Versus,' which in itself is already a stamp marking what you should expect. There isn't an awful lot of bloodshed focussing more heavily on stylised action that is only possible in cinema; any sense of plausibility goes out the window as soon as the opening shot paying tribute to Rambo involving using enemies bullet's to light the tip of his smoke whilst staring them down, gently parodying them with tongue firmly placed in cheek, and it doesn't exactly get any better from here. I could list a plethora of other…

KG: Karate Girl

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Title: Karate Girl
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Martial Arts, Action
Starring: Rina Takeda
Director: Yoshikatsu Kimura
Language: Japanese

Terracotta East Asian Film Festival: #4

If there's one thing we can learn from the film 'Serenity' it's surely that watching cute 5ft nothings beat the snot out of blokes twice their size is always going to be entertaining. Thus emerges my interest in Karate Girl; starring the young Rina Takeda chosen less for her acting abilities and more for her knack for breaking body parts - at only 19 she already is a black belt in karate - and performing all her own stunts without any CG or wires, this is clearly where the focus is. The legendary black belt of Kurenai Sujiro was passed down from generation to generation along with the teachings of his own form of karate, sworn to protect the belt from those who wish to use its status to their own advantage. Maliciously stolen by Tagawa Shu, he kills the current owner and of the two daughters – the last i…

Revenge: A Love Story

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Title: Revenge: A Love Story
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Dark Romantic Thriller
Starring: Juno Mak, Sola Aoi
Director: Ching-Po Wong
Language: Chinese

Terracotta East Asian Film Festival: #3

The Chinese have a growing cinema industry that still stands in the shadows of the Eastern giants of Korea and Japan, largely seeming to focus on Action and period drama's; thriller's have always seemed to be the main territory of South Korea and they have gained acclaim for it as a result, which altogether makes this a pleasant surprise and not without its twist on the conventional style. When the altogether not the brightest street bun vendor, Kit (Juno Mak), sees Wing (Sola Aoi) in passing it's love at first sight, and he can't help but seek out the young mildly mentally disabled woman. Love quickly blossoming between the two, it isn't long before their world comes crashing down around them; taken into custody by the police, it's all they can do to frame Kit as the violent mass m…

Helldriver

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Title: Helldriver
Rating: 4.5/5
Genre: Action, Horror, Comedy
Starring: Asami, Eihi Shiina, Yurei Yanagi, Kazuki Namioka, Kentaro Kishi
Director: Yoshihiro Nishimura
Language: Japanese

Terracotta East Asian Film Festival: #2

From the director of Tokyo Gore Police, he's once again returned to prove that as a master of special effects ranging from the ultraviolent to the bizarrely ultraviolent, he's returned with a tale so devilish it would make Sam Raimi (Evil Dead Trilogy) blush. There's no real way of evading the issue, it's clear that this film is only suitable for a niche audience. It knows it's targets well and shows no remorse or consolation for those that don't see the attraction; no accommodation for those with different taste, so if you've seen any other Japanese offering in this vein you may have something to expect, otherwise let me break it down a bit further. If you thought Braindead needed more fake blood; that Versus pacing was only just fast e…