Night of the Tentacles

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Our story starts with Dave (Brandon Salkil) a lonely artist living in an apartment block he rarely leaves whose life seems to revolve around walking his dog, listening to his next apartment neighbours have sex and beating off to the sounds of his downstairs neighbour Esther jilling off. It all changes though when Dave has a heart attack while jacking off on his floor listening to Esther. He survives the heart attack but knows now that life is precarious so when the Devil shows up to offer him a new heart, well of course he takes the chance and signs on the dotted line. His new heart lives in a box and needs to be “cared for.” Dave soon finds out what that means – his heart needs food, live food and that’s where his neighbours come into the picture. Soon enough we get blood, spew, tentacles going in and out of orifices and Salkil channeling Jim Carrey even better than Carrey himself can do it these days. There’s also the burgeoning romance between Dave and Esther and some great dialogue ‘tween Dave and Belial who keeps checking in to remind Dave of his obligations. Continue reading

A Field in England

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It is the 17th century, and the English Civil War rages on with all the grime and viciousness peculiar to civil wars. The film opens with a cleric named Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith) hiding under a bush and praying to God to spare him. When his pursuer is killed, Whitehead takes the opportunity to flee from the battle and takes up with two other deserters – the simple Friend (Richard Glover) and the more pragmatic Jacob (Peter Ferdinando). Whitehead’s mission was to reclaim some stolen property belonging to his master, but this is rapidly forgotten as the three go looking for an alehouse. They are joined by another runaway soldier, Cutler (Ryan Pope) who claims to know the location of an alehouse, and offers them a meal of mushroom stew. All but Whitehead partake, and it becomes rapidly clear that the mushrooms were not of the ordinary sort. Cutler, it transpires, is working for an Irish alchemist and necromancer named O’Neill (Michael Smiley) who is an ex-fellow-student of Whitehead’s and intends to use the stupefied men as slave labour, uncovering a treasure he believes is buried in the titular field. Continue reading

Samurai Pizza Cats [Collection One]

Samurai-Pizza-CatsIt would be hard to find a kid who grew up in the 90s who doesn’t know of the Samurai Pizza Cats. It’s an English adaptation of the Anime series Kyatto Ninden Teyandee aka Legendary Ninja Cats. Story goes that the Japanese scripts were either lost, were of very poor quality or deliberately withheld so that the writers had to make up the story-lines.

Prior to viewing Madman’s release, I hadn’t seen this show for nearly 20 years so when I heard they were releasing it I was super excited and it made me love them just that little bit more. Did it hold up? Hell yes it did! What makes it so great is that it’s loaded with rapid-fire pop-culture and political references and it appeals to both children and adults.

As a kid I loved pizza and cats and that’s why it was awesome to me at the time, but as an adult I appreciate it on a whole other level. Like Pee-wee’s Playhouse there’s so many gags and a bit of inappropriate humour that will go right over the heads of children.

Onto the premise of the show for all you SPC virgins.

Our anthropomorphic (and rather cute) feline heroes are: the feisty and food obsessed Speedy Cerviche, ladies man Guido Anchovy, and feisty (female) Polly Esther. They work at ‘Pizza Cats’ pizzeria in Little Tokyo but they’re really crime fighters. The villain is a cross-dressing weird robot rat/fox-like creature called Seymour “The Big” Cheese. Big Cheese is always scheming to get control of Little Tokyo and he does so with the help of Jerry Atric and his crew of evil ninja crows.

From the names of the characters alone you can see how pun-ridden the show is. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is extremely goofy. The plots become a bit formulaic as the cats defeat Cheese’s robots but the spoofs, black humour and sarcasm of the narrator never tire.

I will put it out there that I am not a fan of modern day anime. I just can not get into it. I love the older (cuter/goofier) stuff so visually it may look dated to a modern audience, but if you like simplistic, bright and colorful animation over more slick modern anime then this is something you should check out if you happened to miss out on this show during your childhood.

Collection One is a 4 disc box-set consisting of episodes 1-26. Only 50 episodes every aired so I’m eagerly awaiting Collection 2 which is due out in December. Lets hope Madman release the original Japanese series too.

Samurai Pizza Cats is available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.

The Hostess Also Likes to Blow the Horn

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Do you remember the scene in the remake of Friday the 13th when Jason kills the girl by slamming a machete through her head from on top of the pier? Or what about the scene in Drag Me to Hell where the little boy is dragged through the floor down to the bowels of hell? You may be asking yourself “what do those scenes have to do with The Hostess Also Likes To Blow The Horn? Well, NOTHING really. It’s just my way of delaying the inevitable and having to THINK about this film again.

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The Coca Cola Kid

Coca_Cola_Kid_ReviewThe Coca-Cola Kid starts with a disclaimer that the film doesn’t represent nor has any affiliation with the REAL Coca-Cola Company. After sitting through it, I wonder if the actors say the same thing on their resumes?

Eric Roberts, who is part of the more-talented-but-less-famous-than-my-sibling crowd (see also Clint/Ron Howard and any Baldwin brother/Alec Baldwin) has certainly had a rollercoaster career. The 1980s proved a real highlight with Star 80, Pope of Greenwich Village and Runaway Train coming in fast succession, with Coca-Cola Kid sandwiched awkwardly between the latter two. It’s interesting to note that Roberts was in a serious car accident in the early ‘80s and remained comatose for several days. It’s not hard to imagine him signing the contract for this film around that time; blunt-force head trauma will do that (“I heard the words “coke” and “Australia”…I thought they were talking about a HOLIDAY when I signed!”).

Roberts plays Becker, a yankie marketing wiz and spin-doctor, flown out from the US to teach us backwater Aussie hicks about maximising the potential of Coca Cola and increasing sales. During an analysis of sales across Australia he discovers a virtual sales black-hole in the form of Anderson Valley, this part of the country has zero sales. Before you can unscrew a bottle of Pepsi, Becker and his secretary Terri (Greta “Nudity is in my contract” Scacci) are off to investigate. In a weird twist of fate Terri has links to Anderson Valley, the depth of which is revealed later in the film. Upon arriving in Anderson Valley they encounter T. George McDowall (Bill “Have beard will travel”) Kerr, the owner of the township and self-made fizzy-drink king.

That’s the basic storyline. It’s fundamentally your basic “fish out of water” tale with a corporate twist. Imagine Wake in Fright minus the suspense and you’d be on the right track.

Highlights of the film include Dean Semler’s typically lush cinematography and, no matter how clunky the vehicle may be, it’s always interesting to watch Roberts out-act everyone else on the screen. Disappointing elements include the anticipated tension between Becker and McDowall which doesn’t lead to much. Kiwi viewers will be surprised to see Tim Finn in a small role, proving that as an actor he’s a great musician.

Watching this film is like opening a bottle of coke on a hot, hot day and finding it’s flat. Pass the Pepsi.

Available on R0 DVD from Umbrella Entertainment.

Hatchet

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Ostensibly another in a ridiculously long line of slasher films Hatchet does however possesses a sharp sense of humour, great special fx and some genuine scares.

The gore-filled pre-credit sequence featuring Robert (“have-scenery-WILL-chew”) Englund sets the scene for the titular Hatchet and, like most slasher films, 5 minutes is all you need to discern his raison d’être. He exists to kill, nastily. Continue reading

Cherry.

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Brian Cherry (writer and producer David Crane) is a sad, lonely young man whose shyness (he prefers to consider this his “morals”) prevent him from connecting with women. When his more confident friend Sam (Rey Valentin) bribes the beautiful Jules (Lili Bordan) to strike up a conversation with him, his life is turned upside down. The two have an instant connection that feels like love to Cherry, but when Jules begins a simultaneous relationship with Sam, events are set in motion that will change all their lives forever. Continue reading

Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies

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Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies aka The Treasure of the Living Dead is a lurid 1981 exercise in tedium from the demented zoom lens of schlockmeister Jess Franco. Utilizing a great title and typically deceptive ad campaign Franco spins his usual incompetent but, at times, fun fare.

The film opens with two actresses (fresh from the “Tracy Adams School of Acting and Hair Perms”) stumbling along through the desert (I have no idea why) and coming across various Nazi war artifacts and relics before being dispatched by the titular zombies. After this promising start it’s pretty much all downhill, with Franco’s foot planted well and truly on the accelerator. Continue reading

Thankskilling

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I was actively dreading watching this DVD. I mean, ANOTHER wise-cracking-turkey-reanimated-by-dog-piss film… how many more of those do I have to watch??!!! Seriously though, this 2007 film directed by Jordan Downey and shot on lush HD Video is surprisingly entertaining and belies its $3,500 (!) budget in many ways.

As revealed by Downey and co-producer Kevin Stewart on the informative and amusing commentary track it was shot over 11 days while the filmmakers were still in college and is better than you’d hope..or not AS bad as you’d expect..depending on your mindset going in. That’s not to say it’s particularly good…but I’ve seen films with millions of dollars to blow that have less heart. Continue reading

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo [Season One]

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I wouldn’t have bothered checking out Here Comes Honey Boo Boo if it wasn’t for watching a clip of Christopher Walken, Colin Farrell, and Sam Rockwell do a dramatic reading of scenes from Honey Boo Boo while promoting Seven Psychopaths (which is awesome and totally worth checking out along with In Bruges). As soon as I heard Walken say “vajiggle jaggle” and “beautimous” and Colin Farrell read the lines of someone called “Chubbs” I just had to check out what sounded like – and is – a total redneck monstrosity.

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