Wednesday, 5 October 2011



When I saw the premise of this movie, namely 'Guy in near future that has run out of oil invents car that runs on blood', it immediately conjured up an image in my mind of what this horror-comedy would be like.

Well, the film was absolutely nothing like I expected it to be in terms of tone and mood, but it was unquestionably good.

It's a cripplingly-low budget post-modern anti-consumerist black comedy in which Vegan kindergarten teacher Archie Andrews is labouring away unsuccessfully in his attempts to create a motor which runs off of various vegetarian food sources.

We see his dilemma every day as he stops off at the vegan food kiosk ran by archetypal nice girl Lorraine, which just so happens to be directly opposite the meat kiosk (it's literally two booths in a parking lot, and works absolutely brilliantly in terms of production design contributing to the overall narrative) which is run by the stereotypical bad girl Denise.

Our hero is torn between the lovely Lorraine...

After cutting himself and spilling some blood into his vegetable fuel, Archie quickly figures out where he has been going wrong, and succeeds in becoming one of the few people in the world able to run a car. This makes him verrry popular with Denise...that is, until the car runs out of gas.

...and the decidely dirty Denise!

Soon, it becomes evident that if our hero is to be able to get his rocks off (and indeed, have enough of his own blood left to achieve and maintain an erection, let alone remain conscious!), he's going to have to start finding other sources of blood...and so the killing spree begins!

This may sound sick, but the part where he shoots the dog is one of my favourite scenes in the whole movie!

Squirrels, dogs, the homeless, the elderly, hitchhikers. All grist for the mill, and fuel for the blood car!

The mulching mechanism in the boot of the Blood Car!

The movie is also extremely suggestive sexually, with implied golden showers and F to M anal fisting. 'Last Tango in Paris' style! It really jars with the overall low-key mood of the film, but works all the same.

Stereotypically-cute hitchhiker girl

I particularly liked the ending of the film. Perhaps because I just got done reading Bronson's Loose!, but it reminded me of the end of Death Wish. Rather than stopping the killer in their midsts, the authorities seek to utilise Archie's talents for their own ends.

It's an intelligent and somewhat minimalist deadpan comedy that hits all the right notes as far as I'm concerned. Totally different to what I expected, but an extremely pleasant surprise. It's difficult to accurately sum up, but let me say that if Hollywood were to remake this movie tomorrow, it's the kind of thing that Michael Cera would be in the lead role of. It's like 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World' spliced with 'Repo Man'. Seeing as I like both of those movies, I really enjoyed this one as well, so I can most wholehearted endorse it.

In short, buy this movie, or the cute child gets it!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


Who is more badass?

Richard 'Ninja' Harrison, star of innumerable Godfrey Ho cinematic cut-and-shut ninja this one.


Richard 'Old Man' Harrison, star of History Channel's 'Pawn Stars' and mainstay of Las Vegas' Gold & Silver Pawn shop?

...I have to say, as much as I love ninja movies, the Old Man's just shading this one for me, probably due to his pearl of wisdom about the prerequisites for calling yourself a man. Having said that, he does lack the ability to disappear into thin air or magically change into a full ninja costume (plus eyeliner) in just a split-second puff of smoke.

Still, this intriguing battle could make the basis for an interesting crossover film...imagine somebody comes into the G&S pawn shop and sells the Golden Ninja Warrior statue. After having had a buddy who is an expert look at it...

...and then totally lowballed the seller on the price...

...the shop buys the statue. Then, having seen said statue on the TV show, the remaining members of the Ninja Empire from which it was stolen resolve to liberate it from the pawn shop by fair means or foul, whereby it is discovered that ninja Richard Harrison is actually a distant relative of the Pawn Stars Harrisons, and he joins his long lost brethren in the almighty struggle to rout the fiendish evil ninjas from Las Vegas.

Think about would be like Ocean's Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen, PLUS Ninjas. What's not to love?

Joking aside, I wonder how much that Golden Ninja Warrior would actually be worth if it ever came on the market? I'm pretty sure it's not made out of real gold, but discerning film geeks everywhere would still want it, that's for sure.

Ownership would also mean you could also totally mug Steven Spielberg off if you wanted to. After all, he only owns 'Rosebud' from Citizen Kane, which I think we can all agree is a distant second in terms of cinematic prestige when compared to the Golden Ninja Warrior statue, and the incredible powers of invincibility and imperviousness to all harm (except a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick) that it can bestow.

Anyway, all things considered, the undisputed winner of this contest is definitely Richard Harrison. Hands down.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

BRONSON'S LOOSE! The Making Of The Death Wish Films

Bronson's Loose! The Making Of The Death Wish Films
By Paul Talbot
Foreword by Andrew Stevens
161 pages B&w
$15.95 US
Published by iUniverse

I've wanted to pick this one up for a while now, but the price was never 'right' for me (more on that later), so
I was very pleased to be able to source a copy from Ebay for under a fiver, postage included.

The book itself is a medium sized softback and just 161 pages thick, but boy does it look cool. Awesome full colour artwork from Death Wish 3, beautifully cropped and composed. As soon as I saw this online, I knew
I wanted it, and I have to say that this is one of those situations whereby you can judge the book by its' cover.

I love the original Death Wish movie, which is an undisputed classic, and I also have a soft spot for the sort of schlocky
action movies the sequels transmogrified into. Also, whilst I know some people can't stand him, I like Michael Winner because he
always speaks his mind, however unpopular that may be. Throw in the extremely colourful duo known as 'The Go-Go Boys' (the Cannon figureheads Golan and Globus),
and you have a very interesting mix.

The one notable absentee in the roster of interviewees is Charles Bronson, for obvious reasons, but I find this just adds to his enigmatic 'man of few words' persona.

It's exhaustively researched, and the author has interviewed a number of people related to the numerous films, including cast, crew, and upper-level production people.
Each film has a dedicated chapter, plus there are two Appendixes which detail the casts, crews, and plots of the films, plus the soundtracks. It's an easy and engrossing read.
Of particular interest are the various rejected concepts for the sequels, and various alternate endings and casting possibilities.

My favourite part? There are loads, but the peach has to be the anecdote regarding the MPAA appeals process for Death Wish 3 '...when director Michael Winner complained that Death Wish 3 was
given an X rating because it had 63 killings while the R-rated Rambo had 80 killings, the woman at the ratings board explained that most of those
killed in Rambo are Vietnamese."

Jaw dropping, ain't it? I think that merits the description 'Cartmanesque'.

Paul Talbot's book really only has one flaw...there's not enough of it! I can quite happily overlook the fact that all the pictures are in black and white, but for
me, this book was over far too quickly. I guess I should just learn to pace myself a little better.

If you like the Death Wish films, this is a must's that simple. If not, don't.

It's currently available for somewhere between £8-£10 on Amazon, which is a little more reflective of the US dollar cover price of $15.95...I seem to remember it being something like £16 when I first became aware of it,
hence I didn't buy it. Is it value for money? If you like Death Wish, then yes it is. It is a fleeting, all too brief pleasure, but a pleasure all the same.

All in all, I'm really rather pleased with my purchase here. My copy won't be finding itself back on Ebay anytime soon.

Friday, 29 July 2011

My LOVEFILM Experience

I got a letter through the post recently informing me that LOVEFILM was becoming part of the Amazon family of websites, and given that I had ordered DVDs from Amazon in the past, they were going to offer me a free 30-day trial.

To sweeten the pot even further, if I took up this offer of a free 30 day trial, I would get a £20 Amazon voucher too.

(For people who don't know me, I love books. I always have a couple of piles laying around that I haven't read yet, and that never stops me buying more...Ebooks and Kindles are for losers, baby! Anyway, you can take it as read that for £20 worth of store credit at Amazon, I'm prepared to do the sort of things that will make a whore blush.)

I read and re-read the letter, going over the small print in exacting detail to try and see where the catch was, and I couldn't see one, so I took the plunge and signed up.

There's a great selection of movies available on the site, but curiously none from appears the two companies are in dispute about how much money each should make from the venture. You can also stream films (didn't try it given that my internet connection is 'temperamental' to say the least) or rent video games (which I also didn't bother with).

I rented two films which were dispatched to me via first class, hence very little waiting. The package they come in is easily reconfigured into the postpaid return envelope (also first class, which means you send the DVDs back more quickly and get newer ones out), and there's also a spare, standalone postpaid return envelope just in case you have a disaster with the first one.

The discs come in clear plastic sleeves, with just the discs and nothing else, so it is very much 'no frills'. Both discs were in good working order and played fine.

After watching them, I put them in the envelope, posted them back,and then subsequently cancelled my account to avoid being billed when the free trial period elapsed.

You cannot cancel your membership online, but instead must phone LOVEFILM to do so (it's a free phone number). Of course, the salesperson will try and get you to delay cancelling your account (I would expect no less), but I just stuck to my guns and cancelled it.

As promised, I got an email with a £20 Amazon voucher code in it, and not long after my phone call I got an email confirming the cancellation of my account (which I can apparently reactivate at any time online by myself, should the urge take me).

All told, it was a 'does exactly what it says on the tin' experience. All parties were as good as their word, I'm happy to report.

It's a great service, just not one I feel like taking up and subscribing to at the moment. If you are looking for a movies-by-mail service, I can certainly recommend it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some books to order...


You may have noticed that I've missed two consecutive 'Music Video Mondays' posts, and here's why.

The first one I was out of town for (and subsequently internet incommunicado). For this weeks entry, I was planning on some Norwegian death metal to accompany the reviews of a few Norwegian films I rented from lovefilm during a free trial, such as Dead Snow, Cold Prey, etc.

I was going to bill this smorgasbord of all things Norwegian as a veritable 'Norgy', and was all geared up to drop it upon my unsuspecting readership.

...and then the Oslo massacre happened.

In years gone by, I would always think that TV channels and film distributors who would pull a film or programme because it was too near the knuckle with regards to current events were mad, or at least oversensitive. Surely it would be the best time to show such a work, given that it deals with the same issues which are currently fresh in everybody's minds?

Yet now I find myself doing the same thing.

Perhaps I am getting old.

Anyway, my Norway-centric special will be posted in the near future, I just think it would be in poor taste to publish it now, so I'm going to sit on it for a while.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


As you may have read in my review of 'The Silencer', the review copy I was sent contains two excellent commentary tracks. I was then subsequently informed by Steve Lawson that the UK distributor deemed it necessary to remove the commentaries from the official UK release of the DVD because the BBFC requires itself to re-review the film (and thus re-bill for the reviewing) for each commentary track, which means that this would effectively treble the price the distributor would have to pay to get their film certified by the BBFC and thus be legal to sell in the UK.

You can check the rule out here.

I've reproduced the pertinent part below.

The BBFC received legal advice on 17th October 2007 on the issue of audio commentaries. Our advice is that audio commentaries will almost always constitute new video works and consequently require classification.

You should see what they have to say about DVD seamless branching as well!

UK filmmaker Pat Higgins has devoted one of his 'Fake Blood On The Lens' video diaries (always worth a watch, for the uninitiated) to the topic, comparing the UK release of his film 'The Devil's Music' to the US release. He hits the nail bang on the head, and I'd encourage you to watch it to see exactly what I'm talking about.

Now, I can understand the need to certify the commentary tracks to make sure they contain nothing untoward, or more specifically nothing which is not in keeping with the certificate bestowed upon the original film...for example, imagine the latest family-friendly all ages extravaganza with a commentary laden with expletives and anecdotes about which actress blew which producer to get the role, who was constantly disappearing to their trailer and doing coke or whatever, etc. That's simply not going to fly, and understandably so.

Still, perhaps a compromise solution could be reached which neither a) financially punishes smaller independent producers or b) deprives DVD-buying British customers of DVD extras, which of course provide something of a purchase incentive and thus dissuade piracy/illegal downloading to an extent.

My suggestion would be that the filmmakers should be able to simply submit a transcript of their commentary tracks, which could be reviewed for a flat fee. If submitted in a digital format, it could simply be scanned for various offensive words and certified accordingly.

I'm also perplexed at how the BBFC demands a separate certification for each soundtrack, but does not charge for two certifications of the original film...after all, surely watching it with no sound at all constitutes a 'different soundtrack', so surely two separate reviews would be called for? It's a definite inconsistency, but on the other hand, I certainly don't want to be giving them ideas.

The inevitable outcome of the policy is a simple and obvious one, UK consumers, particularly those of niche/genre cinema, will steadily begin to gravitate towards sourcing their films either from overseas (in the case of finished article hard-copy discs) or watching them online in various digital formats. This means a loss of custom and thus revenue for retailers and distributors, and ultimately filmmakers as well.

To punish filmmakers for wanting to give the paying customer value for money is simply illogical and tantamount to commercial sabotage. I recently watched the Norwegian film 'Cold Prey' on DVD, and was surprised that given that it was a fairly professionally made and well-budgeted piece, there was an absolute paucity of extras on the disc. Now, a Norwegian commentary would be of little use to most English-speaking viewers (though I actually found the dialogue suprisingly easy to follow), so you think they'd compensate by adding some other extras, but no dice. Perhaps the necessity of removing foreign-language commentaries actually makes them more appealing to English distributors?

Who is just baffling to me that British filmmakers and British customers have to suffer at the hands of the British censor, whilst everyone else gets to enjoy all the goodies that have had to be stripped off the UK version not for censorship reasons, but instead for financial ones. The only beneficiary I see from this current state of affairs is the big multinational companies like Universal, Warner Brothers, Paramount, etc., whilst the 'little guy' has to carry the can again.

Well, I guess I can stop wondering why certain films from UK filmmakers (like James Eaves' 'Bane') come out overseas long before they are released in the UK. With this nonsensical policy, the BBFC have lurched from being a begrudgingly tolerated part of 'the cost of doing business' in the British film industry firmly into the realm of aiding and abetting the phenomenon known colloquially as 'Rip Off Britain'.

If this sort of crap continues, you'll be lucky to get one commentary or any extras on future independent DVDs. Perhaps some sort of campaign is in order to encourage them to rethink this policy? Any ideas would be gratefully received...

The only possible 'out' that springs to mind is for producers to make the commentary tracks available as MP3s for download, and then people can play them on their stereo whilst watching the movie with the sound off. It's a bit of unnecessary hassle, but it could work. Of course, does this not open up a whole new can of worms? What if I decide to watch 'Toy Story' whilst listening to Satanic Death Metal or expletive-ridden Gangsta Rap? Obviously, that would be 'my choice' if I chose to do that, and thus could not be legislated against, but then surely choosing to listen to the film with one of the alternate soundtracks/commentaries is also 'my choice''s not as if James Cameron is going to burst into your house and force you to watch and listen to all the extra features on his latest film at gunpoint, is it? Ergo, it is entirely a matter of personal choice whether the commentaries are listened to or not. This new 'recorded work' is made by the actions of the end user...they must operate the DVD remote to select the option and commit to it to make it happen. Exactly the same is true of my example of watching Toy Story whilst listening to Cannibal Corpse or something.

Also, if I'm watching a nailed-on 18 certificate film, such as a gory horror or high-bodycount action movie, one wonders how the choice of words used in the commentary can in any way make the depicted onscreen violence any 'worse' or potentially more 'psychologically damaging', especially if it involves the filmmakers or cast members simply discussing the experience of shooting it?

Clearly, like so many Government edicts, this whole notion is laughably half-baked. What's not laughable is that it is very much a reality that independent filmmakers in the UK have to deal with.

Monday, 11 July 2011


A new feature here at the blog, and something to get me posting more's Music Video Mondays!

My inauguaral selection is BLEED by Swedish Math Metal gods (and inventors of the 'djent' sound) MESHUGGAH.

Be advised...the video contains flashing images and therefore may not be suitable for people who suffer from epilepsy. Having said that, the sheer technical complexity of the music will probably cause you to have a seizure if you think about it too hard anyway.

Oh, and before you ask, no this video does not feature cameo appearances by Lady Gaga, ohGr, or that dude from Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.

(My blog's format seems to clip the size of the embedded video player, so click HERE to view it on Youtube where you can enjoy the full image, the correct composition, and even watch it in fullscreen if you so desire!)

Pretty awesome, eh?

You could debate the symbolism and themes therein for months on end...I'm certainly picking up that the thread that gets cut may in fact symbolise the umbilical cord. The constant images of clockfaces and clockwork mechanisms would also seem to suggest the inescapability of time.

I can't put my finger on it, but I get a very vague Hellraiser-type vibe from it (without any aspects which really scream 'direct homage'), possibly due to the fact that the central character's desire for hidden knowledge leads to his eventual (literal) enslavement at the hands of some otherworldly being. Maybe the constant shots of chains moving about as well?

Anyway, enjoy!